BLOG TOUR: Rarely Pure And Never Simple by Angel Martinez (Excerpt & Giveaway + Q&A with Author)


Book Title:  Rarely Pure and Never Simple

Author: Angel Martinez

Publisher: Mischief Corner Books

Cover Artist: Natasha Snow

Release Date: June 28, 2022

Genres: Science Fiction, M/M Romance

Tropes:  Enhanced Humans, Slow Burn Romance, Annoyances to Lovers

Themes: Minority oppression/exploitation, law vs. justice

Heat Rating: 3 flames       

Length:  67 000 words

It is the first book in a new series and does not end on a cliffhanger.


Buy Links

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Variant children are vanishing at an alarming rate. It will take a uniquely mismatched pair of trackers to untangle a web of conspiracy and misdirection to find them.


In his isolated cabin, variant Damien Hazelwood avoids human contact as much as possible to prevent attacks of blind berserker panic. But his rare talent as a locator makes him the go-to contractor for tricky missing person’s cases and when agents bring him a troubling contract involving missing variant children, he finds it impossible to refuse.

Licensed tracker Blaze Emerson can’t help being irritated when he’s expected to follow the strange, twitchy locator’s lead on his latest case. He works alone, he’s damn good, and as a variant sparker, he has both the fire and the firepower to take on anything out there. Though he has to admit there’s something intriguing about a man who can find people with his brain.

With vastly different temperaments and backgrounds, Damien and Blaze need to negotiate quickly how to work together if they’re going to crack this case. Add in the sudden appearance of Blaze’s outlaw ex, the perils of tracking in the wilds, and a maddening lack of discernible motive or method, and they soon find themselves in as much danger as the kids they’re trying to rescue.

Variant Configurations takes place in a future Earth where humanity is reclaiming its spot in a gradually healing world. This book contains mentions of past abuse, action-adventure style mayhem, and the beginning sparks of a slow burn, series-spanning relationship.


The ice around the weed bed glowed blue as first morning rays stretched tentative fingers across the lake. Even the sun was smart enough not to rush out of bed on a cold-as-a-penguin’s-pecker Vermont morning. Damien, however, apparently suffered from some intellectual deficiency since he was out on the lake already with his ice chisel, chipping away at a likely spot for a fishing hole.

His breath ghosted in front of him, every gulp of air biting into his lungs. It wasn’t that he liked the cold or enjoyed the self-sufficient, mountain-man lifestyle. He hated it. His hands always hurt. He was always hungry. It took him forever to warm his lonely bed at night no matter how many pairs of socks he put on, the frame rattling with his shaking for an hour or more.

Chip-chip-chip. The ice chisel on six-inch lake ice echoed back to him off his cabin in a strange, one-sided conversation.

The move wasn’t for his health or even part of a dream of a better life. He had left Raleigh to escape. Yes, he could have taken it a step farther and vanished. Away from the coasts, out in the abandoned wilds to the west, he might have found somewhere to hole up. Much of the land surrounding the Mississippi was still poisoned, but farther out toward Kansas, the remains of chemical skirmishes diminished.

The life of a wilding was dangerous for a lone person, though, and the constant need to be on high alert against scavengers who roamed the wastelands would have worn him down to nothing within a few months. Here, he was close enough to civilization for relative safety, far enough away for some peace. He’d given a promise for a promise, after all—his promise to Dr. Parma that he would still take the jobs he was uniquely suited to and her promise that he would be a last resort.

Mostly, the arrangement worked.

Up here, they couldn’t hound him so easily with every minute need. Up here, anyone seeking him out had to go to considerable trouble to reach him. They knew where he was, of course. The inconvenient locale enforced the mandate that they think long and hard before paying a call, and now they only showed up when they had exhausted other options.

So he pretended not to hear the crunch of the snow-crawler’s treads as it trundled up the snow-crusted hill accompanied by the whisper-hum of its solar battery engine. Then he deluded himself a few more minutes with the fantasy of late-season sport fishermen. The voices, when they reached him, shattered his careful illusion.

Chip-chip-chip. If I ignore them this time, will they give up and go away? Probably not. Please go away.

“That’s him? He’s kinda puny,” an unfamiliar voice rasped.

They hadn’t sent Cummings? What idiot was in charge now? They’d sent some stranger as the messenger, someone who didn’t understand him?

“Variants come in all the usual shapes and sizes, Wirth.”

There was Cummings. Thank God for small favors.

“But Sledge—”

“Is just one guy,” Cummings snapped, obviously losing patience with what had to be a rookie.

Footsteps crunched through the snow toward him. Damien tried to block them out, but his muscles tensed. The terrible sensation of having someone walking up behind him crawled up his back on millipede legs.


“Wirth, hold up! You don’t want—”

Something touched Damien’s elbow. The millipede crawling up his spine leaped into his brain and exploded in a thousand spiny pieces. He whirled, snarling, and swept the ice chisel at whatever had put a hand on him without permission.

“Holy fuck!” A dark-haired man leaped back from the makeshift halberd. He fell on his ass and scrabbled backward on the ice, his eyes cow-patty huge in shock.

“I tried to warn you,” Cummings said calmly from the bank. A squared-off man with salt-and-pepper hair, he was the perfect bland-faced federal agent. He stood with his hands in his trench-coat pockets, stance relaxed and nonthreatening. There was a reason they usually sent him alone instead of sending a team or someone from the Guild, as they’d done once or twice. Cummings didn’t judge. Cummings understood Damien’s boundaries. “Maybe you’ll learn to listen now.”

“He tried to fucking kill me!” The intrusive man, presumably Wirth, still scrambled backward as he failed to get his feet under him.

“No. You invaded his space without warning. You don’t do that. I might kill you if you don’t stop acting like a jackass,” Cummings grated out, shaking his head. Then he gave a nod to Damien and said more evenly, “Hazelwood. Good to see you.”

Q&A with Angel Martinez

Hello, and thank you for having me! I’m Angel Martinez and I write genre fiction with romance and queer characters – mostly science fiction and fantasy. Some of my work is on the humorous side (Brimstone, Offbeat Crimes, Pudding Protocols) and some is more serious (ESTO, Brandywine Investigations, Variant Configurations).

How long have you been an author?

Since 2006 – published author that is. I started writing for publication in the late 90’s, but it took a few years to find my way. Of course, this was in the bad old days of sending paper submission through the postal service. Everything was much slower.

Tell us about your new release. What inspired you to write it?

The new release is an action-adventure science fiction romance that has been described as “post-apocalyptic.” It is not. The story takes place in a future Earth, and disasters did happen in the past to reshape where and how we live, but society has long since rebuilt.

The original story, much shorter, was inspired by a submissions call for superhero stories back in 2012. I wanted one with a more biology-based explanation for superpowers and one that didn’t take place in our contemporary world.

How did you decide on the title?

It’s an Oscar Wilde quote, or part of one, from his play The Importance of Being Earnest. (“The truth is rarely pure and never simple.”) It just fit what’s going on in the book so well.

Are there any genres you prefer to write, and if so, why?

Yes. I write almost exclusively in science fiction and fantasy (various sorts) – and honestly, that’s mostly because that’s the fiction I’m most familiar with and have always read. It just sparks things in my brain more than, say, contemporary romance, and when you’re not comfortable with a genre, readers can tell.  

Why M/M?

Because it’s queer. I write lots of queer characters, not just M/M. I’m bisexual. My found family of friends and fellow authors are all across the rainbow, so this is the world I know, one with everyone in it.

Do you write any other genres?

Before I go any farther, I want to state that M/M is not a genre. It’s a pairing. Do I write other pairings? Yes. Do I write in any other genres besides SF and fantasy? Oof, I’ve tried a couple of things. I did have one contemporary romance published, but I’ve taken it off the market because I wasn’t happy with it. Some for the one historical I tried. Just didn’t work too well for me.

What book/s are you reading at the moment?

I’m not reading anything right this second since I’m waiting for several pre-orders to drop. Aaaaaaaah! I hate waiting. Some of these include K.D. Edwards next Tarot series book, The Hourglass Throne, T. Kingfisher’s What Moves the Dead, and the next instalment of the translation of Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation by Mo Xiang Tong Xiu.

Which other writers do you follow?

Lots and lots of writers. Besides those mentioned above: Jordan Hawk, Hank Edward, Jordan Castillo Price, N.K. Jemisin, Tanya Huff – it would go on for days. Mostly SF and fantasy writers, too. No big shock.

Are you a cat person or a dog person?  Tell us about your pets.

I don’t understand the need for the dichotomy, lol. I love cats, dogs, hamsters, birds, lizards, all of them. For the past few decades, the spouse and I have had cats since we both were out of the house so much and away from home so often with this job or that job. Cats are better about that sort of thing. I lost my last cat – she was nineteen— back in December of last year and haven’t recovered enough for a new companion yet.

Are there big events in your life that affect your writing?

I think everyone has those life events and the last few years have been rough for all of us. Starting in about 2016 or so, a lot of my physical and emotional energy went into being the caretaker for my parents as my mom descended into Alzheimer’s and my dad’s health declined. Mom passed away in 2018 and Dad in 2020 and even though those last few years were difficult, I miss them every day. The combination of burnout and grief has really taken a toll on productivity, but I’m hopeful that the corner turning is in sight.


About the Author  

Angel Martinez is the pen name of a writer of several genres who writes both kinds of queer fiction – Science Fiction and Fantasy. (What? There are others?) Currently living part time in the hectic sprawl of northern Delaware, (and full time inside the author’s head) Angel has one husband, one son, at least one cat at any given time, a changing variety of other furred and scaled companions, a love of all things beautiful and a terrible addiction to the consumption of both knowledge and chocolate.

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