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New Release: Hooch and Howls – Karenna Colcroft

Hooch and Howls - Karenna Colcroft

QSFer Karenna Colcroft has a new MM historical paranormal book out (gay/poly): Hooch and Howls.

In the decade since being changed into a werewolf in 1920, Malachi has become used to being alone. But the appearance of bootleggers Jonathan and Roger on the beach below Malachi’s cottage shows Malachi what he’s been missing. He wants these men in his life, but he can’t ask them to stay.

The following day, Roger returns seeking Malachi’s help in rescuing Jonathan from the rum-runners who are holding him hostage. Can Malachi help the men while protecting his own heart?

Warnings: Nonconsensual voyeurism, references to child abuse and male prostitution in a character’s past

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“Wait.” Malachi dressed quickly and went back to the other man, who had already put his clothing back in order. “Why are you and Roger here?”

“How do you know our names?” The younger man’s voice rose.

“I heard you talking. I’m Malachi.”

Jonathan opened his mouth and closed it again. “Saying ‘nice to meet you’ seems odd.”

“I expect so. Why are you here? You have hooch. What are you doing with it?”

“We don’t—” Jonathan broke off, evidently realizing it would be futile to deny it. “We were hired. Part of a chain from another province. I don’t know which. We picked it up in Peggy’s Cove.”

“You rowed here from Peggy’s Cove?” It was a hell of a distance for a small boat like that.

“Didn’t have any other way to get here. We stopped every so often to rest. This time, we just stopped off for—Well, you saw what we stopped for.” His face reddened. “Roger’s been good to me. I know it didn’t seem it, but he saved me from being killed in Halifax. He’s been looking out for me for two years. I needed money, needed work, and he said he’d cut me in on this deal if I—he’s wanted me since we met. He told me he did but that he’d wait for me. I didn’t understand at first. After a while, I knew what he wanted, and I said I would if he let me work with him this time.”

Malachi carefully composed his expression. He couldn’t imagine needing anything so badly as to trade his body for it, but in this time of Depression, people were desperate.

Apparently he wasn’t careful enough. “I know how it sounds,” Jonathan said. “You don’t understand, and I don’t have time to tell you the story. I needed the money, and Roger knew a way to get it. And…” He trailed off and looked at the floor. “I didn’t mind the idea. I like men. I’ve known that for years. That’s why I was on the street when Roger found me. My father forced me out of the house when he found out.”

“I’m sorry.” Malachi took the cloth from him and dropped it into the sink. It and the one he had used would need to be washed thoroughly. “I’d better take you back to Roger if you’re sure you want to go.”

“I haven’t got a choice. They’ll be waiting for us in Lunenburg. It’s starting to get dark, and they said if we ain’t there by full dark, they’ll kill us.” He said it in such a matter-of-fact tone that it took a second for the full meaning to dawn on Malachi. “It’s going to take time to row around to the meeting place.”

“Then let’s go.” Despite the urgency of the situation, Malachi paused. His heart ached to realize that this man had so little care for himself that the thought of being killed didn’t matter. “If you need—you and Roger—you can come back here.”

“They’d find us.”

“I’d fight them.” He blurted the words before thinking. “Trust me, anyone who came here trying to hurt you would find more than they bargain for. Let’s go.”

Now he moved quickly, giving Jonathan no time for the questions he doubtless had. He shouldn’t have made such a promise, but the young man touched his heart, awakening a tenderness Malachi hadn’t known was within him. He wanted Jonathan to stay. He wanted to take care of him. Even with his fiancée Malachi hadn’t known such gentleness, and he couldn’t just allow Jonathan to leave without offering some kind of help or hope.

He was out the door when Jonathan said, “I can’t walk that fast.”

“Sorry.” Malachi stopped and waited while the other man slowly walked to him. “The pain should ease.”

“Hope so. Maybe I can drink more of the hooch Roger opened. That’ll cure anything.” He gave Malachi a crooked smile. “Gives people ideas, too.”

“So I noticed.” Malachi refused to be embarrassed by his behavior, though it wasn’t easy not to be. In a way, he’d done worse than Roger. Though he’d had consent for the fuck, neither man had agreed to his initial viewing of them. He’d peeped on them without their knowledge.

He led Jonathan back to the beach, where Roger was pacing back and forth beside the rowboat. Relief lit his face when he saw Jonathan and Malachi. “Thought you ditched me.”

“I can’t,” Jonathan said. “I need to get paid.” He turned and smiled again at Malachi. “Thank you.”

“Come back if you need a place to hide.” Malachi looked at Roger, including him in the invitation. He didn’t think much of the dark-haired man, but Jonathan apparently did. And he had saved Jonathan, if the story was true. That was enough reason for Malachi to help him.

“Why would you want to offer that?” Roger asked, eyes narrowed.

“You’re in a dangerous business.” Malachi didn’t know much about bootlegging, but even he had heard the stories of murders and maimings connected with the rumrunners. “Jonathan’s afraid of your employers. You may be perfectly fine, but just in case, you can come back if there’s need.”

“Thank you,” Jonathan said again. He elbowed Roger. “Let’s get the crate back together. You said we have to make it look like it hasn’t been opened.”

“Right.” Roger hunted around until he found a large stone. “Hold the lid in place.”

Jonathan did, and Roger used the rock to hammer the lid back onto the crate. Malachi stepped back into the bushes as the men loaded the crate into the boat. He crouched as he had before, watching them. Though wondering at himself for the liberty he had taken with them, he wanted more. And he didn’t want to say goodbye.

Author Bio

Karenna Colcroft lives just north of Boston, Massachusetts, and has been in love with the city since childhood, though she has yet to encounter any werewolves, vampires, or other paranormal beings in her travels. At least none that she knows of. Karenna is a polyamorous, nonbinary human who lives with her husband in Massachusetts. She also has two adult children and three “bonus” kids, four grandchildren, and two and a half cats. (Half in terms of time the cat lives with her, not in terms of the cat itself…)

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