Rainbow Gold Reviews is happy to Spotlight Frey Ortega’s new release “Under His Spell’ (Blanchard Coven 2).
Be sure to check out the Giveaway at the bottom of this post for your chance to win an ebook copy of ‘Under His Spell’. Good Luck!
Bennett Landry used to live in a nightmare he thought would go on forever. Battered, broken and abused, the poor young warlock didn’t think that he would ever feel safe again… until the Blanchard coven came and saved him.
Elijah Lillegard was always a hopeless romantic, hiding his romance novels and his sweet side away; picturing a beautiful, idyllic life with his mate by his side–completely under their spell.
Little did they both know, however, that fate had other plans.
Pulled into a mating bond neither one saw coming, Elijah now must contend with his picturesque future being shattered in favor of a mate who still feared every shadow that lurked around every corner. Bennett now has to figure out whether he sees a future for himself within the coven, or if he even sees any kind of future at all.
And when the past still comes back to haunt them both, can their blossoming new bond survive the trials and tribulations that await?
Grab your copy here:
Hi everyone! I’m Frey Ortega, and I’m an M/M romance author from the Philippines! Thank you so much for taking the time to read my guest post today. Just in case you don’t know me, I’m turning 29 years old this March, I’m trans—although many of you might have seen me around as the flamboyantly gay character I usually was for the past couple of years!—and I’m here to talk a little bit about my latest release, Under His Spell.
Well, I’m not here just to talk about that. I’m also here to talk a little bit about the journey it took for me to complete the book.
A close friend of mine recently told me something that resonated with me: we writers write according to where our headspace is. When we feel sad, we write sad; when we feel happy, we write happy. A majority of the time for the past three years, I was suffering—just as one of the main characters in my current book, Bennett Landry, did.
You see, just like Bennett in Under His Spell, I had my own issues with mental health and my own identity. On my part, I suffered from a breakdown after a really bad break-up, and it progressed for two long years. Beyond that, I was terribly obese, and it stemmed from a place of self-hatred. I truly didn’t love myself, because I knew that no matter what I did, I would never look like who I wanted to become.
But then I took the first step—the hardest one—and I worked on something. At that point, it could have been anything. For me, it was my weight. Health issues were starting to pop up. I was a 26-year-old living in a 60-year-old’s body.
I didn’t have any confidence that my weight loss would work. I just knew that I needed to try something to save myself. I knew that I couldn’t rely on a partner to do that for me—not since the heartbreak. I couldn’t rely on anyone else taking this journey for me. I had to do it all on my own, and that was the scariest part. I never trusted myself. I didn’t like myself, after all.
But I did it, anyway. No matter how much I hated myself, I didn’t want to die with a life unfulfilled. The results came slowly at first, but it started coming. And I started to think about how to apply these things to other facets in my life. As my body started changing, I realized this could happen for how I looked and how I presented myself, too. I realized I didn’t need to hide in whatever physical shell was given to me. I could change it.
So, I started to. I’m still on my way, and stumbling every step of the way, but I’m farther along now than I would have been if I’d never taken the first step. (Just in this post, for example, I hesitated in labeling myself trans. I know I’m a woman—it’s just hard to really admit that label to the world!)
The journey has been messy, complicated, and at the end of the day, it’s still ongoing. Me and Bennett are both still just trying to keep ourselves afloat in this crazy world. The main difference is that Bennett is in a cushy environment with a man who loves him, but we all can’t get what we want! 😉
It took me a year and a half to finish Under His Spell, and it’s no secret why: the story itself takes some rather dark and moody turns. There are moments in both Bennett and Elijah’s points of view when it feels like hopelessness has taken over. As my own mental health started to recover, it got harder and harder for me to want to immerse myself in such a dark headspace. I couldn’t do it. My body wouldn’t allow me to. It’s like there were alarm bells ringing in my mind every time I did, telling me how easy it would be to slip back into the darkness.
I think, as I slowly crawled to a finish with Under His Spell, that showed, too.
Bennett is on his way to finding his happiness, as am I. For me, it comes in the form of transitioning into the woman that I am, achieving weight loss goals, and maybe figuring out what’s to come for both my professional and my romantic life. For him, it’s learning to trust, to feel safe, and to find his sense of belonging in the world with his mate by his side.
I’m not going to lie to all of you—writing this book has been maybe the most difficult challenge of my entire writing career. But I’m glad I finished it the way that I did. It’s not perfect—I don’t think any book ever truly is—and it’s not going to resonate with everybody. But if nothing else, I hope that the book shows as much of a journey into the writer as much as it is a journey about the characters.
It didn’t happen every night the way it used to, but every so often, the same nightmares came back to haunt him. There was always a pair of blood red eyes watching his every move, waiting for him to mess up—always a cruel smile with fangs showing, ready to tear at his flesh.
Bennett Landry’s pulse raced. He felt this lump at the back of his throat from the tears that would no longer fall. There was a deep, rolling pain in his stomach that accentuated the dryness that went all the way from his tongue down his throat. He coughed and hacked, but felt no relief for the scratchiness in his throat or the audible protests of his belly. In his nightmares, his voice was always hoarse, but he continued to chant in a soft, low tone. Any thought that passed his mind was quickly pushed away in favor of continuing the almost guttural drone of a spell he’d been forced to cast.
As a warlock, Bennett was sure there was a hell. This was probably his own version of it—a punishment for karma left over from a past life. His soul probably inhabited some murderer of children or destroyer of innocence. Why else would he suffer through these horrid dreams over and over?
Most nights, he remembered feeling a pair of fangs impale him, like the phantom sensation of a pair of thin knives plunging into the crook of his neck. It happened in thousands of different nights and thousands of different occasions, all of them led to this ever-building delirium that settled in his feverish brain—so weak that he couldn’t concentrate, a fog descending over his consciousness—his vision blurry whenever he opened his eyes.
“You’re beginning to taste more and more like rancid meat,” the voice said to him angrily, and yet Bennett could offer no protest, not even a whimper, let alone a single tear.
Bennett remembered the threats, and this feeling in his chest like his heart was being yanked downward, through his stomach. Bennett remembered the things being thrown, the objects breaking and shattering all around him, with the intent of keeping him docile and fearful.
Shadows always loomed over him. At his weakest, all Bennett could hope for was death. There was the possibility that even that wouldn’t have saved him.
Everywhere he turned, darkness. Like the all-consuming oblivion after the moment of death, Bennett hoped it was just a tunnel of black ushering him into the next life.
Those blood red eyes haunted him. They were the one image seared in the nothingness, keeping him anchored in this life, staying his soul from moving to the next.
The warlock tossed and turned, but he couldn’t pull free. Bennett had to find a way out. The walls were closing in on him. He couldn’t breathe. He just had to find a way out. He had to get away from this…madman.
It was the barest wisp of a voice trying to reach out to him. There was the slightest flicker of light in the horizon that accompanied it, calling to Bennett. It reminded him of that moment of freedom when Bennett could finally escape the shackles that were forced upon him. The moment when he found the strength to undo the shackles of the young human beside him, and they ran out, hand-in-hand, into the light of day.
“Bennett. It’s just a dream.”
It brought him a sick sense of satisfaction to know that the monster that haunted his subconscious was nothing more than piles of ash scattered in the wind, and the image of his scorched body brought Bennett a sense of peace nothing else could have given him. It felt like a warm blanket had wrapped around him, securing him.
There was no more Marcel Dubois. Because of that, Bennett wanted to live.
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This giveaway ends on January 31, 2021 at 11:59 PM CST. GOOD LUCK ❤ !
Frey Ortega writes erotic romance, primarily of the gay variety. She lives in what a friend affectionately calls “the south-easternmost part of Spain,” which is an archipelago called the Philippines. She’s a graduate of the Royal, Pontifical, and Catholic University in Manila, with a Bachelors of Science degree in Psychology. Primarily, she works as a writer, a novelist, and overall a homebody who spends way too much time on the internet.
She loves writing about people, especially people of all different shapes, sizes and backgrounds, falling in love. You might also find her playing video games from time to time! Her favorite ones are MMORPGs, and role-playing games in general (and not just the ones in the bedroom.)
Visit her website at: http://www.freyortegawrites.com/
Follow her on social media!
Facebook Profile: https://www.facebook.com/freyortegawrites
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/writerfreyortega/
Facebook Group (Frey’s Friends and Follies): https://www.facebook.com/groups/754579891359495/