Guest · New Release · Reviews

Guest Post: Change of Plans – Addison Albright

Change of Plans

by Addison Albright

Hello,

I’m sorry I’ve been absent for so long…my inner mole has reclaimed it’s rightful place of late, with nary a molehill to my name for so much as a change of scenery.

However, some plans, no matter how cunning they might be, are well worth changing up. At least for long nuff to share A Plan far too perfect to keep to y’self…

Please welcome my very special guest Addison Albright to celebrate the release of her new novel: Change of Plans. The final part of the fabulous Plans trilogy… 

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Addison Albright has a true gift for storytelling. No matter whether we are castaway on a desert island or whisked to a world realms away from this, it is a place with characters who feel as real as their stories are resonant.

I’ve written a review below, but first; Addison has been kind nuff to pen a guest post for your reading pleasure so, without further ado…

Guest Post

Thank you so much, Zakarrie, for having me here on your fantabulous blog today! Hello, Zakarrie’s wonderful readers! I’ve got a new release out—my first in over a year—and I appreciate the opportunity to share a little bit about my story.

First of all, I should point out that this story completes a trilogy. I carefully inserted enough background information so that a random reader picking it up would not be completely lost, so the story can possibly stand alone, but it is not written as a standalone, and I strongly recommend reading books 1 & 2 first to best appreciate book 3.

Addison’s Evolution from “Pantsing” to “Plantsing”

I’ve tried planning or plotting out my stories in advance, but I just can’t do it. At least I can’t do it to the extent that would make a true planner’s chest expand with pride at a job well done. That said, I have evolved a bit from being a true seat-of-my-pants writer to now being more of a hybrid…a plantser if you will. Writing a time travel novel with a twisty timeline will do that to even the most determined pantser!

The first book in my Plans trilogy is a shorter story—barely novelette length—that was originally intended as a standalone tame meet-cute where Marcelo, a naïve young prince in matriarchal Sheburat, is stunned to learn he’s been chosen as “The Contingency Plan” in a treaty between realms, and has become the last minute replacement for his recently deceased twin sister in a marriage to Efren, the crown prince of Sheburat’s former enemy, Zioneven.

The Contingency Plan was 100% written by the seat of my pants. I didn’t have the heart to turn it into a story about Marcelo rejecting his fate and running, so I had him accept his fate, logically reason his way through the pros or cons, and do the responsible thing that he felt would give him the best chance at a happy future. I also, at the time, didn’t have the heart to give Marcelo and Efren any difficult outside drama to deal with. So that’s what that story is…a feel-good shorty where we imagine our hero’s moving on into a loving, easy, and therefore not-story-worthy future.

Ah, but The Best-Laid Plans of mice and men, oft go awry. My original “plan” bought the dust when I later decided to continue their story in book 2, and Marcelo was abducted on the princes’ journey to Zioneven. And once again, I wasn’t entirely sure what was going to happen next during many of that story’s scenes. I strongly believe, at least for me, that the story would have been much weaker if I hadn’t let it drive itself as it was being written. Details of what each character does affects decisions that are made to further the story. I wasn’t even entirely sure “whodunit” until I was more than halfway into the story.

Now for Change of Plans…OMG…I came up with the idea for the opening scene (M & E’s recent memories—including of each other—have been wiped), wrote it, loved it, and knew I had to come up with a story worthy of following that scene. I would define my process with this story more as the hybrid, “plantsing.”

I needed a fairly solid idea of the story’s direction before proceeding. I knew I couldn’t wipe Marcelo and Efren’s memories of each other without finding a way to make the new relationship even better, and I knew I couldn’t wipe Marcelo’s memories of his bravery in The Best-Laid Plans without giving him another opportunity to be heroic. And I knew I had to finalize whodunit (throughout the series) without any remaining ambiguity. All this for a book that I had no plan for when I wrote the preceding two stories, so whatever I came up with would have to be consistent with what was already published.

So yeah, I had some thinking to do. Yet, even after working out the basics, I still didn’t write down an actual outline; I prefer to organically feel out the story’s pacing as I write. Besides, I still hadn’t worked out precisely how the details of the general idea would flesh out, or what Marcelo’s new heroic deed would be. I had several scenarios in mind, but ultimately came up with something different when the time came.

Perhaps my process sounds confusing, but it’s what works best for me. We pantsers and plantsers would never get started if we were forced to write out a step-by-step plan and stick to it. Just as plotters would (I imagine) tremble at the thought of writing without a detailed story outline. It’s all good, and what makes the world go ’round.

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Excerpt

(From Chapter 8)

Marcelo, present day

Why, oh why, with all that was going on, was Marcelo finding it so difficult to focus on anything other than Efren’s fingers as he manipulated his utensils? And Efren’s mouth as he opened it to take bites then slowly chew?

Deliberately slowly chew his food, if Marcelo wasn’t mistaken.

Had Marcelo been obvious in his observations? Were Efren’s actions in response to Marcelo’s interest? Or had Efren purposely drawn Marcelo’s attention in the first place?

Or was Marcelo reading too much into Efren’s simple movements?

Marcelo swallowed a bite of his own and told himself the reason he was so distracted was because the royal family had ceased to talk about the drama going on in the castle since it was their policy not to discuss politics at the table, and there was nothing more to do other than baselessly speculate until they gained more intelligence from the people out making inquiries anyway. Attending to the everyday chitchat between Rolland, Merewina, and Tristan as they attempted to maintain a sense of normalcy didn’t take too much concentration.

Sure, that was all it was. Marcelo’s newfound obsession with another man’s hands and eating process had nothing at all to do with memory flashes of Efren’s unshaven skin rasping tantalizingly around Marcelo’s mouth when they’d kissed in the not-dream. Marcelo stilled his hand that had started toward his mouth to rub a phantom tingle and suppressed a self-depreciating snort.

“You are each enamored with the other.” Once again, Erich’s words echoed through Marcelo’s mind, and despite everyone’s assurances that Marcelo had previously conducted himself in some kind of brave, heroic manner, regret churned in his belly that he hadn’t had the courage to open his eyes during that kiss.

Or better, to have tossed caution to the wind and embraced the moment…and Efren.

But to be fair to himself, not being able to ascertain how he’d come to be in a stranger’s arms in an unknown place was what had been so terrifying, rather than the situation itself. Surely thinking one had somehow lost their mind would be spine-chilling to most.

When Merewina’s ill-disguised snicker broke his reverie, Marcelo’s fork slipped from his fingers and landed with a clink that seemed unnaturally loud.

“Really, Efren,” she said, “it’s all I can do not to break all semblance of decorum to toss a sticky bun at you.”

“Do I want to know why?” The deepening lines around Efren’s eyes answered his own question. If Marcelo was reading his husband correctly, he already knew why, yet had no objection to hearing his sister’s explanation.

Marcelo turned his gaze to Merewina.

Her eyes narrowed at her brother. “You are utterly merciless.”

Efren’s eyes widened theatrically. “Me?”

“Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about. You are shameless, teasing poor Marcelo like that.”

Marcelo’s face warmed. Yet a thrill coursed through his veins. He’d been right about Efren’s actions, and just as Erich had said, this handsome and powerful man was also drawn to him.

Efren’s lips quirked into a smile that curled Marcelo’s toes. “Dear sister, I assure you”—he winked at Marcelo—“I’m detecting no displeasure from my lovely young husband.”

Marcelo’s cheeks had to be flaming red, they felt so hot, but he held Efren’s gaze, and his own lips twitched into a sheepish grin.

My Review

The Best Laid Plans picked up where Contingency Plan left off and swept you to its faraway kingdom with the warmth of a familiar friend.

It was an enthralling adventure that seemed far more realistic than many a more mundane tale. Characters who were relatable despite their lofty status, crafted with a depth that far exceeded its length. I adored Prince Marcelo, whose self-perceived flaws made him braver than he believed and as believable as he was beautifully written. Prince Efren is magnificent; a hero as compelling as he is charismatic. The Best-Laid Plans was the perfect follow up to The Contingency Plan; a thrill ride of derring-dos and developing love that delivered far more than a fairytale happy ever after. I loved it.

Change of Plans

Change of Plans is the final episode of the Plans trilogy; our last trip to Zioneven in hopes of sharing in the Happy Ever After our heroes have earned with Honours. What a delightful destination it was too. 

The first novel may have centred primarily on the crown Princely shoulders of Efren; as broad and strong as his streak of decency and decorum. Every bit as debonair as his dashing good looks. But it is Prince Marcelo who proves himself a hero in the very real sense. Particularly to himself…the man who most doubted his ability to prove himself worth anything much. Let alone amount to much, much more than he believed himself capable of. Had been deemed capable of. For that is the crunch of the matter. From the moment he was born into the Matriarchal Monarchy that rules his homeland Sheburat, his insignificance has been so deeply instilled in his psyche as to seem intrinsic. Thus, he had lived down to everyone’s expectations.

So ingrained was his own sense of inferiority, he became inferior. An ineffectual man living a life defined by Limits.

Those he’d believed were his own; learned from the cradle and carried like the lead weights of self-fulfilling prophecy they were. Limited capabilities that limited the aspirations he’d never allowed himself.

…Until The Contingency Plan permitted Marcelo a life beyond the wildest dreams I doubt he’d ever entertained. For Marcelo proves himself to be the darkest of all horses. Braver, bolder, resourceful, resilient. Ingenious under immense pressure. Every bit as brilliant as he believes his new husband is. More worthy of Efren’s love than he’d deemed possible.

Marcelo always was, of course, unbeknownst to him. For his charms are as innate as they are irresistible. Invisible in the mirror. He’s adorable. Midway through the story there is a scene so utterly charming I found myself grinning like a loon with glee. It would be foul to…spoil it, so I’ll refrain from further puns. Suffice to say, it’s unmistakable. A smidge like love when it coshes your senses. Theirs is a love that feels ‘right’. As natural as the seasons. They flow together, as fluidly as summer follows spring. Organic. Meant to be.

Their story wastes no time on misread intentions or misunderstandings to cause ‘conflict’. It has life and death matters to attend to, escapes to enveigle…a realm to save from diabolical foes and their dastardly plots. A way of life to preserve, honour to uphold.  Which brings us full circle…and our tale to an end far too right to feel manufactured. One that doesn’t seem ‘plotted’,  it happens. As it should, as it was e’er meant to. As fitting as Efren and Marcelo are for one another. Theirs is a marriage that transcends convenience. A lot like their happy ever after.

Efren & Marcelo; together, forever. Happy sigh.

💙💙💙💙💙

Buy Links

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Book 3: Change of PlansPublisher :: Universal Link 

Once upon a time, two handsome young princes fell in love, faced down adversity, and lived happily-ever-after … until one romantic evening, they unwittingly ate a confection laced with a mind-wiping toxin.

Crown Prince Efren of Zioneven blindsided Prince Marcelo of Sheburat when he used The Contingency Plan embedded in a peace treaty to marry the naïve young prince. Now, Marcelo is shocked again when he awakens in an unfamiliar bed, in an unfamiliar land, in the arms of a stranger who’s taking such liberties!

Will that ignominious new beginning to their relationship doom their chances at rekindling their love? Or will Efren’s giddiness and the less formal surroundings of Zioneven propel them toward a more teasingly fun rapport?

Marcelo and Efren have forgotten more than their love. On their journey home to Zioneven, their Best-Laid Plans went awry when Marcelo was abducted. Now, neither remembers the unexpected strength of character and ingenuity Marcelo manifested to survive his harrowing ordeal, or Efren’s frantic search for his new husband.

Were Marcelo and Efren specifically targeted for the Forget-Me-Not poisoning, or were they the victims of a random assault? Is this new attack related to Marcelo’s abduction and his sister’s death? Will Marcelo revert to his old mild-mannered, unassuming self, or will he step up to prove he’s the same brave man his new family claims he is amid the fresh danger swirling around them?

Book 2: The Best-Laid PlansPublisher :: Universal Link

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A death that wasn’t what it seemed … A kidnapping that isn’t what it seems … Time is running out.

The morning after his wedding night, Prince Marcelo thought he’d be embarking on a journey to his own personal fairytale happily ever after with his husband Efren, the crown prince of Zioneven. But when news arrives indicating his sister’s death wasn’t as accidental as previously thought, that journey becomes fraught with danger.

Enmeshed in political intrigue, death, and a kidnapping that might not be what it seems, will Efren untangle the web of misleading clues in time to save the naïve young man he’s already come to admire? Or will Marcelo dig deep to discover a previously untapped inner strength and determination to facilitate his own survival?

Book 1: The Contingency PlanPublisher :: Universal Link

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A sheltered prince. A sudden death. An unexpected choice. How will Prince Marcelo react to discovering he’s The Contingency Plan?

For eighteen years, there has been peace between Sheburat and the kingdom of Zioneven. The untimely death of a princess throws the marriage arrangement—the final phase to complete the terms of the treaty—into disarray, and the contingency plan is put into motion. Now the Crown Prince of Zioneven gets to make his own choice from among the princess’s younger siblings.

As a rare royal son in the matriarchal sovereignty of Sheburat, Prince Marcelo grew up knowing he would never marry. Never. Royal sons did not marry. Period. Except, Prince Efren isn’t from Sheburat, and he has other plans

About Addison

Addison Albright is a writer living in the middle of the USA. Her stories are gay romance in contemporary, fantasy, paranormal, and science fiction genres. She generally adds a subtle touch of humor, a dash of drama/angst, and a sprinkle of slice-of-life to her stories. Her education includes a BS in Education with a major in mathematics and a minor in chemistry. Addison loves spending time with her family, reading, popcorn, boating, French fries, “open window weather,” cats, math, and anything chocolate. She loves to read pretty much anything and everything, anytime and anywhere.

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Website :: Facebook Page :: Facebook Profile :: Twitter (@AddisonAlbright) :: BookBub :: Amazon

Blog Tour · Guest

Guest: Ingrid Sterling – All The Way Out

 

Hiya…I hope you’re all well

I’d like to give a warm welcome to my guest Ingrid Sterling with her debut novel.  Upon reading the words: ‘rhythm and pacing of the prose are as important to me as my complicated, imperfect characters and my guaranteed happily-ever-afters’ I couldn’t help but suspect that her story will prove a real treat to read. I hope it’s a huge success…

 

BLOG TOUR

Book Title: All the Way Out

Author: Ingrid Sterling

Publisher: Literary Wanderlust

Release Date: April 1, 2021

Genre/s: Contemporary M/M Romance, New Adult

Trope/s: One-night stand turned into true love; Forced proximity; Athlete with musician; closeted sports star

Themes: Self-acceptance, coming out publicly

Heat Rating: 4 flames

Length: 79 000/263 pages

It is a standalone book.

Add on Goodreads

 

Buy Links – Available in Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US | Amazon UK

Literary Wanderlust | Bookshop.org

 

 

Blurb

Even at that young age Zach knew that those two truths – all-star athlete and homosexual male – could not exist concurrently. So, he’d started dating Rebecca, his devoutly Catholic girlfriend who wants to wait to have sex until she’s married, during his junior year of high school and never looked back.

But on the last night of a team trip to Rome, on the cusp of his senior season at Northwestern University, a Heisman, a number 1 draft pick and a National Championship, Zach seeks out one last anonymous encounter. He opens Grindr and slips out into the Italian summer night to meet Liam – Liam who has a face that looks like it was carved from Carrara marble by one of the ancient greats and whose brazen facade becomes sheepish when he’s asked about his past in Paris. The night is intense, better than Zach could have imagined. But like all one-night stands, it comes to an end by morning’s light.

But what happens to Zach’s carefully manicured plans for a professional football career and a life in the closet when Liam shows up, not only on the Northwestern campus the first day of the fall semester, but in Zach’s upper-level Plato seminar, too?

 

 

Excerpt

“What are you doing in my upper level classics seminar?” Liam snapped.

Um, I’m fulfilling my degree requirements,” Zach snapped back. “What are you doing in my upper level classics seminar? You live in Rome.”

“No, I was regrouping in Rome. I’d been going to school in Paris before that but—Wait, degree requirements? You’re a Classics major? Mr. Hotshot-starting-quarterback is a Classics major?” Liam’s voice came out shriller than he would have liked.

Zach set his hips back against the table, crossing his arms with a sudden smugness. “A Classics major focusing in Pax Romana philosophers with a 3.7 GPA, you mean? Yeah. I am. How do you think I recognized that ridiculous Metamorphoses quote on your Grindr profile?”

“I figured you Googled it like everyone else usually did.”

Zach’s face softened at Liam’s unintentional reveal. “Why didn’t you say anything about coming to school in the States that night?” Zach asked.

Liam leveled him with a look. “I don’t remember us doing an awful lot of talking.”

“We talked enough. You could have mentioned it.”

“I’d only decided to come here a week or so before we met,” Liam explained. “I barely knew anything about Northwestern aside from the fact that it has a pretty well-respected music program. Certainly not enough to know it has some big deal football team. And besides, what were the chances?”

“I’m not a betting man, but I definitely wouldn’t have taken these odds.” Doe-eyed panic lingered on Zach’s face even as he shifted to a more conversational tone. “So, the music school, huh? That’s cool. I remember you had music on your desk. What do you play?”

“Piano mostly, but I’m a composition major. I added a Classics minor ‘cause I can, here. My other school didn’t offer liberal arts courses.” Zach nodded, and Liam realized it was probably his turn to attempt conversation. “A jock with a brain, then. Color me impressed.”

Zach gave a bored lift of his shoulder. “It makes for a great human-interest story. I think every bad pun about Greek gods or Roman gladiators has been made about me at least once. The ESPN announcers think they are so fucking clever.”

Liam stared at him. “You keep saying these things thinking I know what they mean.”

“ESPN.” Zach gave him a patient grin. “It’s a cable sports network that shows games. You know, on the TV.”

“Yeah, alright.” Liam’s pursed lips morphed into an unbidden smile.

It was impossible not to note how the tension in the room had slipped away. The looks that passed between them carried a certain playfulness once they were forced to accept the inconceivable fact that they were both here in the same city, at the same school, and even in the same class. And into that ease slipped the feelings of attraction and memories of the intimacy they’d found on Liam’s mattress by the end of their night together. Liam had sought hidden parts of Zach’s body with his fingers. That small, insinuating touch, burned into his memory, had ignited such terrified want in Zach’s bright blue eyes that Liam had known that he would have been allowed to feel Zach from the inside if only they’d had more time. One more night. One more hour, even. And now here Zach was, standing before him. It was as baffling as it was thrilling. Liam certainly wouldn’t mind if they wound up hooking up again.

“Look,” Zach started, “This is crazy that you’re here, and I hope you love your time at Northwestern as much as I have, but it’s probably for the best if we don’t interact.”

Liam was rendered mute.

“I mean, I know we’re in class together,” Zach continued. “We’ll have to interact, discussion grades and everything, but what I mean is, we shouldn’t be friendly.”

“Why not?” Liam asked after another stunned beat.

“It’s nothing personal. In fact, I think you’re—” Zach stopped. He pressed his eyes closed and shook his head sadly. He took another steadying breath before speaking again. “It would make things really difficult for me. Like I told you in Rome, no one knows about me. About me and…” He spoke the next word at a careful volume. “Men. In fact, you’re the only person on this entire campus who does.”

Zach’s sexuality was a secret that should have bound them. But instead, Zach was using it to put a wedge between them, between even the possibility of them. Liam didn’t think the conversation could get any more ridiculous.

COMING SOON 2

About the Author

I named myself “Ingrid” after a character in a story I started writing and will never finish.

I named myself “Sterling” after my dad’s boyhood dreams.

I’m a Yankee who has lived south of the Mason Dixon for a decade and I use ‘Y’all’ without irony. I dance in my kitchen. I vote. I love all the cats in the world and a good IPA. I will scream over college sports.

I write about love, with love, because #loveislove.

With two degrees in music performance, I strive to make my words sing. The rhythm and pacing of the prose are as important to me as my complicated, imperfect characters and my guaranteed happily-ever-afters.

 

 

Author Links

Blog/Website | Twitter | Instagram | Newsletter Sign-up

 

Giveaway

Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway for chance to win

one of three ebook copies of All the Way Out

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Hosted by Gay Book Promotions

Follow the tour and check out the other blog posts and reviews here

Guest · New Release · Release Blitz

Guest: Nell Iris – #SlidingIntoMyDMs

Hi,

A very warm welcome to my guest…the quintessential queen of short stories, Nell Iris, with her new release #SlidingIntoMyDMs. 💜

RELEASE BLITZ

Book Title: #SlidingIntoMyDMs

Author: Nell Iris

Publisher: JMS Books

Cover Artist: Written Ink Designs

Release Date: February 17, 2021

Genre: Contemporary M/M Romance

Trope: Friends-to-lovers

Themes: Bisexual character, 40+ characters, old friends reconnecting

Heat Rating: 3 flames

Length: 21 998 words

It is a standalone story.

Add on Goodreads

Buy Links

Publisher – JMS Books

Universal Link

It all started with a DM on Instagram

Blurb

“Hi. I heard you’ve been sick.”

Eddy Pennington is recovering from a severe bout of pneumonia when an old acquaintance, Moss, sends him a message on social media. They haven’t spoken in years, but Eddy is pleasantly surprised. He always liked Moss even if they were never close friends.

Moss Fanning has no ulterior motive with his message: all he wants is wish Eddy a speedy recovery. He got over the crush he used to have on Eddy a long time ago.

They reconnect easily and have even more in common now. And when they meet in person, the attraction is instant. Will an innocent, well-meaning message on social media lead to something more? Something deeper? Something…everlasting?

INSTAGRAM

Excerpt

I bump my shoulder against his. “You are fucking perfect, Moss Fanning.”

His hand brushes against mine, sending a shower of sparks up my arm. “Nah.”

“Don’t fight me on this. You don’t want to upset a poor, sick man.”

Moss chuckles. “No indeed.”

We continue a while in silence before he speaks again. “If you think I’m perfect, I guess that increases the chances of you considering this a date.” It’s a calm statement, casually put out in the universe, and I like that he shows no hesitation.

So I hook my pinkie with his. “I guess it does.”

“Good.”

Huh. I guess I’m on a date. My belly does a happy flip.

After a few more steps spent in silence, he slips his entire hand into mine. His rough palm sends a wave of happiness up my arm, coiling itself around my soul. Our shoulders brush and intensify the emotion.

I had no idea a simple walk could be so intense.

“Did you have a hard time finding work here?” I try to keep my tone casual, not wanting to betray what holding his hand does to me, not wanting to draw attention to the easy way a slow walk slipped into a date. I like the ease; I hate complicated and games and playing hard to get. I hated it in my twenties, and I hate it even more now.

“No. I come highly recommended. I’m a damned good carpenter.”

“All the more reason to take you to Anne and Rosa.”

He laughs. “You just want me for my skills, is that it?”

“Nu-uh.”

“Then what?”

I stop on the path and make a show out of checking him out, slowly letting my gaze travel from his face, down his chest and rounded belly, lingering on his thighs—I have a thing for thick thighs—and then reversing course until I meet his gaze.

Moss shakes his head with a fond smile and tugs my hand to get me moving again. “You’re not well enough for any of that.”

“Nope. But I’m getting better.”

“I’m glad. We can revisit that discussion when you’re capable of walking faster than a quarter of a mile an hour.”

“Hey!”

He laughs at my indignation, and Balderik joins in the fun by letting out a playful ruff.

I squeeze his hand. “In all seriousness, I like you for your no-nonsense attitude. It’s very attractive.”

“Thank you.” His husky voice reverberates up my arm. “I appreciate you saying that. Not everyone likes blunt honesty, but I knew you could take it before, so I took a chance you still can.”

“Oh, I can.”

“Good.”

All too soon we reach the end of the trail, and we’re back where we started by Moss’ SUV. Another car has parked in the clearing while we were walking, but there’s no trace of the owners. The daylight is fading fast and so is my energy, and no matter how much I’d like to be able to continue our walk forever, I have to admit defeat.

Moss opens the car door for me and helps me inside. “I’m sorry,” he says.

“What for?”

“You weren’t ready for such a long walk.”

I take his hand again, a shudder racing up my arm when his palm rasps against mine. “I was. I admit I’m tired and I’ll probably fall asleep in the shower later, but this walk helped heal my soul and that’s important, too.”

“Yeah, sure. But—”

“Don’t feel bad. Please. Just drive me home and promise we’ll come back here soon. Promise my weakness didn’t scare you off.”

He brushes his thumb over the back of my hand. “I promise.”

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About the Author

Nell Iris is a romantic at heart who believes everyone deserves a happy ending. She’s a bona fide bookworm (learned to read long before she started school), wouldn’t dream of going anywhere without something to read (not even the ladies room), loves music (and singing along at the top of her voice but she’s no Celine Dion), and is a real Star Trek nerd (Make it so). She loves words, bullet journals, poetry, wine, coffee-flavored kisses, and fika (a Swedish cultural thing involving coffee and pastry!)

Nell believes passionately in equality for all regardless of race, gender or sexuality, and wants to make the world a better, less hateful, place.

Nell is a bisexual Swedish woman married to the love of her life, a proud mama of a grown daughter, and is approaching 50 faster than she’d like. She lives in the south of Sweden where she spends her days thinking up stories about people falling in love. After dreaming about being a writer for most of her life, she finally was in a place where she could pursue her dream and released her first book in 2017.

Nell Iris writes gay romance, prefers sweet over angsty, short over long, and quirky characters over alpha males.

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Author Links

Blog/Website | Facebook Author Page | Facebook Profile

Twitter: @nellirisauthor | Instagram: @nell_iris | Goodreads

Pinterest | BookBub

Giveaway

Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway for a chance to win

one of five ebook copies from Nell’s backlist.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Hosted by Gay Book Promotions

Follow the tour and check out the other blog posts and reviews here

Guest · New Release · Release Blitz

Guest: DJ Jamison – Boyfriend Freeze

 

Hiya,

Today’s special guest is the wonderful DJ Jamison, here to warm your cockles with her new release: Boyfriend Freeze…

RELEASE BLITZ

Book Title: Boyfriend Freeze

Author and Publisher: DJ Jamison

Cover Artist: Cate Ashwood

Release Date: February 4, 2021

Genre: Contemporary M/M Romance

Trope/s: College/new adult, party boy/geek, workplace romance, librarian romance

Themes: Finding real love, self-worth, personal growth

Heat Rating: 4 flames

Length: approx. 50 000 words

It Is set in the Love Notes series and can be read as a standalone.

Add on Goodreads

 

Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

Universal Link | Amazon US | Amazon UK

 

I’ve made a lot of mistakes, but you can’t be one of them …

 

Blurb

Dear Graham,

After crossing too many lines for my self-respect, I made a promise to myself: no hookups for sixty days.

But I didn’t count on meeting you.

Who knew a smart, cardigan-wearing geek would be such temptation? You’re all wrong for me, except you’re also kind of exactly right.

So how do I keep my promise not to seduce the cute librarian and still get the perfect guy?

Maybe you know, because I don’t…

Already yours,

Ollie


Boyfriend Freeze is set in the Love Notes series but can be read as a standalone.

Teaser 3 (1)

Excerpt

OLLIE

“I wasn’t sure if you were serious about that New Year’s resolution.” She paused. “Which is fine if you weren’t. You know I wasn’t judging you, right? I just want you to be happy.”

“I know you do, and yes, I was serious. I’m working on it.”

“Yeah?” She smiled, linking arms with me as we neared the terminals where we could search for reference materials. “Good. Now, you just need to work on your listening skills.”

“I’ll add it to the list,” I said dryly. “Right below stop being such a slutty twink and above get a job.”

“Ollie—” Kyla started, about to admonish me for calling myself a slut or a twink, or maybe both, but the sound of someone clearing their throat stopped her. I glanced across the computer terminals, stomach sinking as the librarian gave me the evil eye once more.

“Sorry,” I hissed in an obnoxious stage whisper. “Kyla just doesn’t know when to keep her voice down.”

Kyla quietly stomped on my foot, and I grimaced at the pain. Totally deserved that. But it was worth the look of annoyance that flashed across Graham’s face and distracted me from the fact that he’d possibly heard me refer to myself as a slutty twink. No doubt Graham was already forming a relatively low opinion of me, considering I was pretty much the antithesis of library etiquette, but I’d rather not help him along to that conclusion.

Graham turned back to the student he’d been coaching through a reference search, and I exchanged a look with Kyla. “Ready to work?” I suggested.

“Now he wants to work,” she muttered, shaking her head. But Kyla was my best friend for a reason. She pulled out a chair beside her and waved me over. “Okay, so first, you want to start by pulling up this screen…”

I tried to listen this time. I really did.

But my gaze kept drifting to Graham as he patiently answered questions. Across the terminals, seated as he was, I couldn’t see that awful corduroy jacket or sweater vest. Just his messy brown hair that fell over his forehead just above hazel eyes and a set of features that weren’t entirely unfortunate. Graham was almost, maybe, kind of cute? In a helpless puppy sort of way.

Dear God, I must be desperate to be leering at a librarian.

Just then he looked up, meeting my gaze, and my heart lurched. “We have job openings,” he said.

“Huh?”

“The library has job openings,” he said slowly, as if I had a cognitive disorder. “I thought you might be looking for a position.”

I frowned, a little puzzled by the non sequitur. Then I realized with a flash of embarrassment why he was telling me.

“I’ll add it to the list, right below ‘stop being such a slutty twink’ and above ‘get a job,’” I’d said to Kyla. Graham had definitely heard my words.

“Great, you were eavesdropping,” I said self-consciously.

He flushed. “Not on purpose—”

“So, will I have to buy a sweater vest to work here, or is that going to be provided? I assume the grandpa loafers are optional.”

Oh, god, the snark was in full force. I wanted to stop, but it was a self-defense mechanism. Some creatures had porcupine quills. Some men had fists. I had brutal, snarky wit.

“Never mind. I don’t think you have what it takes to work here after all,” he said, standing up. He’d shed the jacket, leaving just a sweater vest over a pale-blue button-down shirt. He’d rolled up the shirt sleeves, exposing strong forearms. For a librarian, he filled out his shirt better than I would have expected.

I nodded. “Not the right fashion sense.”

“No,” he said. “Not the right common sense. We value brains here, not shallow good looks.”

I gasped, shocked at the harsh burn—not that you don’t deserve it—­and he walked away before I could even get in the final word.

“Oh, I don’t think so,” I muttered, shoving my chair back.

“Ollie, just let it go,” Kyla urged, but I ignored her, rounding the island of computers and following hot on Graham’s heels as he returned to the circulation desk. He didn’t notice me until he’d already taken up his station on the other side. He jumped a little when he saw me, and I smiled viciously.

“Can I help you?” he asked warily.

“Yes,” I said as sweetly as possible. “You can give me a job application.”

 

About the Author

DJ Jamison writes romances about everyday life and extraordinary love featuring a variety of queer characters, from gay to bisexual to asexual. DJ grew up in the Midwest in a working-class family, and those influences can be found in her writing through characters coping with real-life problems: money troubles, workplace drama, family conflicts and, of course, falling in love. DJ spent more than a decade in the newspaper industry before chasing her first dream to write fiction. She spent a lifetime reading before that and continues to avidly devour her fellow authors’ books each night. She lives in Kansas with her husband, two sons, one snake, and a sadistic cat named Birdie.

Social Media Links

Blog/Website | Facebook | Facebook Group | Twitter: @dj_jamison_

Instagram | Newsletter Sign-up | KoFi for bonus content | BookBub

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Guest · New Release · Release Blitz

Guest: Jeris Jean – Running Lines

Hiya,

I can never resist a fledgeling romance amidst the unforgiving spotlights of Hollywood.🥰 A warm welcome to my guest, Jeris Jean, with her new novel Running Lines.

RELEASE BLITZ

Book Title: Running Lines

Author and Publisher: Jeris Jean

Cover Artist: Jeris Jean

Release Date: January 26, 2021

Genre: Contemporary M/M Romance

Tropes: Celebrities, Workplace Romance

Themes: Overcoming the past, self-confidence, defying expectations

Heat Rating: 4 flames

Length: 55,000 words/ 142 pages (ebook)

It is a standalone story and is the first book in a series.

Add on Goodreads

 

Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US | Amazon UK

 

INSTAGRAM 1

Onscreen chemistry. Offscreen action.

 

Blurb

Finn may look like a Romeo + Juliet-era Leo, but he’s out to prove he’s got what it takes to break the teen heartthrob mold. Grayson is a serious actor, with “serious” as the operative word, so he’s not thrilled to find himself hopelessly attracted to his young new co-star.

Starring on a teen soap may have made Finn Everett Hollywood’s latest “it” boy, complete with the 10 million Instagram followers to show for it, but does he have the chops to cut it as the newest cast member on television’s biggest drama, Frost Manor? Finn’s determined to prove himself as more than just as sex symbol and win the respect of his co-star, Grayson Winter.

Grayson is gorgeous, talented, and the celeb Finn has been secretly crushing on for years. Grayson is dedicated to his job. He has big aspirations to be Hollywood’s best leading man, and he’s willing to make personal sacrifices to get there. When his new scene partner is the charismatic and intensely distracting Finn Everett, Grayson is shaken loose from his single-minded ambition.

When Finn and Grayson start running lines, their off-the-charts chemistry has them wondering if big things are in store for more than just their careers.

Running Lines is an MM Romance featuring hot TV stars, Hollywood drama, and a sweet and sexy gay love story.

 

Excerpt

Not a single interviewer had failed to mention Finn Everett, and it was getting really damn old. He didn’t want to talk about Finn Everett. He didn’t even want to think about Finn Everett. That just led to Grayson thinking about sexy blue eyes and lean muscles and no. No. Nothing good would come of that line of thought. It was going to be hard enough to work with him everyday on the show and maintain his standards of professionalism.

As Grayson clung to his last shred of patience for this interview, he answered the question the same way he had all night. “I trust our showrunners and casting director. But I haven’t personally met Finn Everett yet, so I don’t have an opinion of my own.” The words sounded colder, more robotic than he’d intended.

As if on cue, his agent Kayla’s familiar voice broke into the conversation, interrupting the interview. “We can fix that, Grayson! You can meet right now.” She was tugging someone by the hand and then shoving him into the interview right next to Grayson. The interviewer was clapping her hands in thrilled excitement, her smile widening to an even more frightening degree. Before he knew what was happening, he was shaking hands with Finn Everett, looking right into those dark blue eyes. There were only two words Grayson’s brain could manage at that moment: Holy. Fuck. Finn Everett was gorgeous.

Gaining his composure was difficult, but Grayson was a professional actor, so he knew how to pull himself together before anyone noticed how dumbstruck he was at the sight of Finn Everett. He hoped. The interviewer was now asking Finn how it felt to meet Grayson. Finn was staring at Grayson with the oddest expression – it was almost like…admiration? Grayson felt himself hold his breath, waiting to hear Finn’s answer.

Finn turned back to the interviewer, and he said smoothly, “It is an absolute pleasure. I can’t wait to work with him. I’m sure there’s a lot he can teach me.” Finn smiled shyly, his eyes dipping to the carpet and then back up to glance cautiously at Grayson through his lashes. Grayson met his eyes briefly, and he felt a tingle in his belly. His lips automatically quirked up at the corners without his permission. What was happening? Why was he acting like a total fool all of a sudden? It had to be that this red carpet media circus had finally wore him down completely. He was exhausted and too warm. That would make anyone’s head spin. That was totally it.

Thankfully, Kayla came to his rescue, grabbing both him and Finn by the hands and dragging them away from the interviewer, barking something about needing to get inside to take their seats. Grayson’s head was dizzy as he finally stepped into the cool air conditioning of the theatre.

“Look at this, my two favorite clients making friends,” Kayla said, smiling at Grayson and then Finn. “I had a hunch you’d hit it off,” she added as she let go of Grayson’s hand and dragged Finn further into the building.

Grayson was left in the entryway of the theatre, finally alone for the moment. He leaned against the marble wall behind him. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath to steady himself.

He was in trouble.

BANNER

About the Author

Jeris Jean is a life-long Minnesotan with an obsessive love of books. She has a master’s degree in English Literature but didn’t write her first novel until she was in her mid-thirties. Something just “clicked,” and all fell into its rightful place.

Jeris is a lover of cats, coffee, binge-watching tv shows, her bffs, puzzles, knitting, white sunglasses, black nail polish, purple hair, and reading and writing like it’s going out of style, especially mm romance.

She lives with her husband, two sons and their cat, Fluffy Cat Love, in a lovely little suburb of Minneapolis.

 

 

Social Media Links

Blog/Website | Facebook Group | Instagram

Newsletter Sign-up | Pinterest | Goodreads Profile

 

Giveaway

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a $25 Amazon Gift Card

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free · New Release

My Way: Out Now

Hiya,

I hope you’re all well. I’m sorry it’s taken a while, but I’ve been beavering away on the final edits and formatting My Way for release. It’s finally done and uploaded at Prolific Works, so you can claim your free copy any time you wish.

MY WAY https://claims.prolificworks.com/free/at55FIcP

I’ve also joined the February LGBT Giveaway, so it will be appearing as part of that from 1st February, too. There were 63 books last time I checked, from dozens of fabulous authors. You can claim their books here:

LGBT GIVEAWAY https://claims.prolificworks.com/gg/7X7EkjvkYVtef4ot6DJl

Blog Tour · Guest · New Release · Release Blitz

Guest: Sky McCoy – Wounded Inked

Hi,

I hope you’re all safe and well. I’ve almost finished My Way and am hoping to include it in a giveaway on Prolific Works starting February 1st. In the meantime…

I’d like to welcome my guest today, Sky McCoy, with a story that has far too many of my favourite things to resist…

RELEASE BLITZ

Book Title: Wounded Inked

Author and Publisher: Sky McCoy

Cover Artist: Coverinked

Release Date: January 15, 2021

Genre: Contemporary M/M Romance

Trope/s: Straight to Gay, Hurt/Heal, Fake Boyfriend

Themes: Coming out, forgiveness

Heat Rating: 5 flames

Length: 60,000 words/200 pages

It is book 1 in the Wounded Inked Series.

Add on Goodreads

Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US | Amazon UK

Blurb

“How can I explain this? There’s really no explanation for the way I feel. It’s beyond me. Maybe it happened on my last tour of duty, where I’d been wounded in the leg, spent months in the VA hospital with nothing but therapy, and reading love letters to pass the time, or to keep me sane.

The letters weren’t from my wife, but an admirer. I hadn’t heard from my wife in months. I think her last note informed me that she’d moved on, taking our dog with her, and filed for a divorce. I guess she couldn’t handle a damaged man without a job, with little or no income, and coming home.

Now it’s time for me to accept that I’m a broken man. I’ve lost my identity because I was a soldier, a leader of men, and all I have now are these few love letters from a strange woman to give me comfort.

Can this woman be as broken as I am? What will it take to make me whole—two broken pieces coming together?”

What will happen when Tony falls in love because of a few letters and texts only to discover that the person behind the letters isn’t who he imagined?

The “Wounded Inked” 3 book series contain hurt/ comfort, straight to gay, and fake boyfriend with HFN, and HEA in the final book.

Excerpt

Prologue

Tony

I’d just received a letter I had been anxiously waiting for. Just when I’d given up and I knew I had to get some sleep, because of the mission in front of me, and because my men needed me more tomorrow than ever before, I got this ray of hope through the letter I held doggedly in my hand. I wanted to take the time to sit and read it, savor every word, every phrase, and every time Sergeant appeared on the paper.

My men called me Sergeant, but it meant something different to them. I was their leader, I was their mentor, I was the one who would teach them and bring them home.

We were marines and we left no one on the battlefield, no one behind, and especially not our hearts, because our hearts were with the ones we loved. My heart had been shattered early on when I received what they called a Dear John letter. With every letter coming through the mail, from a special unknown woman, my heart began to come together.

I needed a clear head more now than I’d ever needed one before, because this would be my last mission.

My squad had to travel into this town, relieve another squad of marines, and I wouldn’t be able to receive mail or my care package, therefore, receiving this letter now meant so much to me. After I read it, I placed it next to my heart, because it would be the final one for a month or more.

The first words of that letter caught my eyes and I turned, looking to the side as if I was a squirrel hiding a precious acorn that would last until winter when I’d need something to sustain me. That something was this letter I held tightly, keeping the wind and the sand, or the helicopters bringing in supplies from dislodging it from my fist.

Lights strung everywhere provided what I needed to see the words scrawled carefully on

the paper. Repeating the words with a smile, I murmured to myself as I read, “I’ll give you a kiss. It’s my secret to you, because if you were here beside me, my lips would whisper in your ear, I love you.”

Holy fuck! Did she just write that? My cock twitched and I moaned, looking around to see if anyone had heard me. With all the noise, how could they? I rationalized. Fuck me, but my cock hadn’t responded to anything in months. Let alone words on a paper.

There was no way I could feel something for somebody I’ve never met. I didn’t understand what could be going on with me. Maybe I’ve been out here too long, and I’ll feel different once I get home.

INSTAGRAM 2

About the Author

I write steamy gay romance books, and I love to read hot M/M romance. Maybe steamy is too mild a term for my books. Maybe I should say that my gay romance books are hot, hot, hot. I enjoy writing about strong, flawed men who don’t mind saying they’re sorry when they hurt the ones they love.

I read and write across genres and what gives me pleasure, and there is nothing more pleasurable or satisfying to me than to write a happy ever after hot M/M romance with a kink or two.

My favorite books to read are anything M/M and vampires, werewolves, mystery, and steamy romance. I have been busy with reading and writing to bring you the best M/M romance books. Enjoy!

Social Media Links

Blog/Website | Newsletter Sign-up | BookBub

Hosted by Gay Book Promotions

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Guest · New Release · Release Blitz

Guest: Nell Iris – Resolutions for an Arbitrary Holiday

Hiya…Happy New Year’s Eve to you. I hope that you’re able to see in the New Year with the person you love most🥰 If not, this might just be the perfect story if you plan on curling up with a story to warm your cockles…

 

RELEASE BLITZ

Book Title: Resolutions for an Arbitrary Holiday

Author: Nell Iris

Publisher: JMS Books

Cover Artist: Written Ink Designs

Release Date: December 30, 2020

Genre/s: Contemporary, holiday M/M Romance

Trope/s: Meet cute

Themes: Being true to yourself, New Year’s Eve, holiday

Heat Rating: 1 flame

Length: 20 849 words

It is a standalone story.

 

Buy Links

JMS Books | Amazon US | Amazon UK

B&N | Kobo | Apple Books

Goodreads

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/56393590-resolutions-for-an-arbitrary-holiday

  

 

Two strangers, a twisted ankle, an ancient stone ship, and a New Year’s Eve they’ll never forget

 

Blurb

Petter sneaks out of the New Year’s party he didn’t want to go to and treks to an old burial site he’s dying to see. Alone. Without telling anyone on a freezing December night. Without cell service…a huge problem when he twists his ankle.

Someone passes by Isak’s house on the path leasing to the stone ship. When the person never returns, Isak worries and sets off to investigate. What he finds is Petter, a pack of sparklers, and an instant connection.

Under a starry sky, they learn they have a lot in common. Will the attraction burn hot and fizzle out like the fireworks going off over their heads when they return to the real world? Or will it deepen, grow, and turn into something real? Something everlasting like the stone ship?

 

Excerpt

“Did you come here to ring in the new year?” He nods toward the bottle still positioned between my legs.

“Yeah. I’ve always wanted to visit this place and since I was dragged to the village, it seemed like a good idea at the time. I even brought sparklers.” I pull them out of my pocket, holding them up for him to see.

“Bubbly and sparklers by the stone ship. Sounds like the perfect New Year’s celebration to me.”

I stare at him. He sounds serious enough, not like he’s mocking me. And he doesn’t know me, so he won’t know what buttons to push to get me to agree to do shit I don’t want to, like my friend Jonas, who’s the sole reason for me being here. “You can’t be alone on New Year’s Eve, Petter. Only losers and people with no friends stay home alone on holidays. Besides, you don’t want Maja to think you’re not her friend, do you?” Bastard played me and used his girlfriend to get me to agree, knowing how much I like her. More than him, most days.

But this guy, this stranger, seems honest. “You really mean that?”

“I do.” He grabs the bottle and takes a swig, his face scrunching up in a grimace.

“Yeah, I know,” I snicker. “It’s vile. Serves me right for grabbing someone’s bubbly from the fridge before heading up here.”

“I’m not a wine expert, but that was…”

“…too sweet,” we say simultaneously.

He nods. “Exactly.”

I smile.

“Listen. What do you say we ring in the new year a bit early? New Year’s is just an arbitrary mark of the passage of time invented by humans anyway, so who says we can’t do it now? Light some sparklers, tell each other our resolutions. Try not to barf as we drink more of this.” He holds up the bottle. “Then I can help you down. Call a doctor if you need one. Or take you back to your friends if you prefer. I assume you’re at the Andersson house for the party?”

I raise an eyebrow. “How did you know?”

“It’s a teeny tiny village. Everyone knows what’s going on in their neighbors’ houses.”

“Really? That can’t be good?”

“It has its downsides, that’s for sure. But I’m mostly fine with it.”

“Okaaaay.” Because surely, he doesn’t mean the neighbors know everything? Not what other people have in their nightstands and stuff? Ew.

“So what do you say?” He nudges his knee against my leg.

“Sure. I approve of the plan.”

Isak removes his gloves and holds out his hand. “Let me light the sparklers. Did you bring a lighter?”

“Yeah, hang on.” I dig into my pocket without taking off my mittens—my fingers are pretty cold—until I find it. “Here you go.”

“Awesome. Are you the kind of person who makes resolutions?”

“Usually not.” I accept the lit sparkler he holds out to me. I’ve loved these things since I was a little kid, even more than fireworks, and up here, in the howling wind with a sky full of stars above my head, in the company of a kind stranger and huge ancient stones, they’re more beautiful than ever.

“But this year is different?”

“Yeah. I’m doing some…significant changes in my life this coming year, so I thought ‘why not?’ It can’t hurt, right? Even if I agree with you about the arbitrariness of this so-called holiday.”

“You do?”

“Sure. It’s not a thing we celebrate because of some natural phenomenon, like the solstice. It’s just to mark that the Earth has done another lap around the sun. I mean, that’s great and all, but why do we need to celebrate it?”

Isak’s face lights up in a wide grin. “Yes! This is what I always say when people complain because I refuse to embrace the spirit of the holiday.”

I return his smile. “Exactly!”

“I’ll drink to that.”

nell-iris

About the Author

Nell Iris is a romantic at heart who believes everyone deserves a happy ending. She’s a bona fide bookworm (learned to read long before she started school), wouldn’t dream of going anywhere without something to read (not even the ladies room), loves music (and singing along at the top of her voice but she’s no Celine Dion), and is a real Star Trek nerd (Make it so). She loves words, bullet journals, poetry, wine, coffee-flavored kisses, and fika (a Swedish cultural thing involving coffee and pastry!)

Nell believes passionately in equality for all regardless of race, gender or sexuality, and wants to make the world a better, less hateful, place.

Nell is a bisexual Swedish woman married to the love of her life, a proud mama of a grown daughter, and is approaching 50 faster than she’d like. She lives in the south of Sweden where she spends her days thinking up stories about people falling in love. After dreaming about being a writer for most of her life, she finally was in a place where she could pursue her dream and released her first book in 2017.

Nell Iris writes gay romance, prefers sweet over angsty, short over long, and quirky characters over alpha males.

 

Author Links

Blog/Website | Facebook Author Page | Facebook Profile

Twitter: @nellirisauthor | Instagram: @nell_iris | Goodreads

QueeRomance Ink | BookBub

 

 

Giveaway

Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway for a chance to win

a choice of one of five ebook copies from Nell’s backlist

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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Follow the tour and check out the other blog posts and reviews here

cover reveal · Guest · New Release

Cover Reveal: The Valet by Mel Gough

Hiya,

I love this cover and the book itself looks fabulous. 🥰I never can resist a spot of forbidden romance. Or white tie and tails, for which I blame Count Victor Grazinski…and, o’course…one Thin White Duke… 😻

9mvxwy8tk0151

2dcb957471b71b6bd6f39f28e400afb1

*****

A warm welcome to my guest, Mel Gough, with her new novel, The Valet. Out on December 1st.

COVER REVEAL

Book Title: The Valet

Author: Mel Gough

Cover Artist: Black Jazz Design

Release Date: December 1, 2020

Genre/s: Historical M/M Romance

Trope/s: Forbidden love

Themes: Restoring trust

Heat Rating: 3 flames

Goodreads

When love does not dare speak its name, trusting is the hardest thing to learn.

Blurb

England, 1910 – Ted has a good situation as first footman at Montague Hall, the splendid Gloucestershire manor of the 6th Earl of Carran. But he has just made a mistake so serious it could cost him his position, and even land him in prison if the authorities found out.

As valet to the 9th Duke of Argyll, Richard’s London life is glamorous. But when he has his heart broken, he longs to get as far away from the city as possible. The pace at Montague Hall might be sedate, but its tranquillity is like a salve to his shattered soul. And unforeseen diversions are to be found even here. Like handsome, despondent first footmen.

The last thing Ted needs is a new temptation. But his Lordship’s new valet isn’t just gorgeous. Richard is also brave and kind – and he wants to make Ted happy, something Ted never dreamt would come to pass.

Trusting again is hard, and in a world that reviles their love happiness is hard-won. Can they hope to carve out a contented life against all odds?

Excerpt

Dorcas was just coming through the baize door, carrying a tray stacked high with serving bowls. Ted hurried to hold the door for her.

“Thank you.” She gave him a smile and quickly but gently deposited her load on a sideboard.

Ted was fond of the head housemaid. They got on well, and unlike many of the other servants, Ted trusted her. Dorcas was plain-spoken and a hard worker, and she didn’t tolerate the mean kind of teasing that some of the younger servants engaged in with impunity.

He went to open one of the tall cabinets where a couple of shelves were bare. “Here, I’ll do it.” He started stacking the bowls on the shelves, which were too high for Dorcas to reach without a footstool.

“Thank you.” Dorcas rubbed her arms. “Golly, those were heavy. Good thing Mrs Stokes didn’t see me. That would’ve been quite the hiding.”

“She would’ve had good reason.” Ted hefted the bowls. “Imagine if you had tripped with these!”

“Yes, but the stairs are steep and narrow, and it’s bad enough coming up once with that huge tray.” She watched as Ted opened a different cupboard and started counting bread plates. “Aren’t you done yet? You’ve been up here an age!”

Ted made a face. “You know what Mr Wymer is like. He won’t stand for a single spoon out of alignment. And Jimmy’s managed to wriggle out from under him, so I’m doing the dogsbody work.”

Dorcas clicked her tongue impatiently. “You have to stop letting him walk all over you, Ted.” She stood with her hands pressed into her sides, shaking her head. “Who’s the first footman, hmm? You or him?”

Ted kept his eyes on the plates. He might have confided many things in Dorcas, but the reason why he didn’t dare vex Jimmy was too shameful to share even with her. “You’re right, of course. But…you know what he’s like.”

“Oh Ted.” Dorcas sighed. “What are we to do with you?” She turned back towards the door to the back stairs, but then wheeled back around. “I nearly forgot! You were up here, and you wouldn’t have heard yet.” With a glance at the door to the dining room, which was half-open, she lowered her voice. “You won’t believe what happened. Mr Brown has handed in his notice. He just told us.”

Ted stared at her. “What do you mean?” He nodded towards the dining room. “But Mr Wymer didn’t say anything. He must be aware.”

“You know what Mr Wymer is like. Discreet to a fault.” Dorcas put on a serious face and lowered her voice. “An upstanding servant does not gossip, Theodore.”

Despite himself, Ted grinned. The imitation was spot on. Then he remembered the news and grew sombre again. “So Mr Brown’s gone.” After Dorcas, the Earl’s valet was Ted’s second favourite amongst the servants. They weren’t bosom friends – clearly, or Mr Brown would’ve confided his plans in him – but Ted valued the man’s support against Jimmy and Mrs Dankworth, who was the Countess’s lady’s maid and who liked to team up with Jimmy to make Ted’s life hell. Losing the valet would bring change to the balance downstairs, and that would not bode well for Ted. An unease settled in his gut.

Dorcas seemed not to notice. “He’s not gone yet, but he will be by the end of the week. The Earl agreed to let him go on short notice. You know he’s courting the daughter of that Cheltenham pub. Her father died a few days ago, and they need to move quickly so that the pub can stay open.”

“Mr Brown is going to be a pub landlord.” Ted was bemused by the idea. “You’d think that being valet for an Earl would beat that life any day.” He couldn’t imagine leaving service. The work at Montague Hall wasn’t exactly a walk in the park, but the house was comfortable and the Peytons were fair employers. After what he’d left behind at home in Yorkshire, this house was paradise. But then he remembered the impossible situation he’d gotten himself into with Jimmy. Maybe starting over new somewhere wouldn’t be so bad.

Dorcas shrugged. “I guess love trumps all in the end.”

Ted didn’t know what to say to that. He knew that people like Dorcas believed this, but he also knew that for people like him, this was not likely to ever happen. He picked up the stack of plates. “I better take these through, before Mr Wymer sends out a search party.”

“Right you are.” Dorcas gave him a smile and a wave, and vanished through the baize door.

About the Author

Mel Gough loves writing about love – but with a twist. Nominated for the 2019 Selfies Awards, her bisexual romantic suspense novel He is Mine is a typical Mel Gough story. She needs her HEA fix, but on the way there will be thorns and fire, and sometimes brimstone. All right, that might be over the top, especially since her stories are firmly based in the real world – though not always in the here and now.

Born in Germany, exploring other realities has been Mel’s siren call since she was young. Books opened up a plethora of worlds, and soon gave her a strong love of the English language. After an MA in Anthropology, field work in the middle of nowhere seemed like one adventure too far, so Mel settled in London, which, to misquote Dr. Johnson, she will never tire of.

Mel loves to bend genres – her romances are gritty and dark, and sometimes there’s a dead body. She’s been told that her prose is beautiful yet disturbingly real. She’s curious about bygone times, and hopes to speculate about the future in one of her next books.

Author Links

Blog/Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Guest Post & Interview with Eric Huffbind

Hiya,

I’m working on the final edits of My Way and formatting it as a freebie from Prolific Works. Having always used Amazon before, I fancied venturing further afield and wanted to release a perma-free novel in a fussless sort of way.

In the meantime, I’d like to welcome my special guest, Eric Huffbind with his new release Surrounded by Silence. Many thanks to him for agreeing to be interviewed and for sending along a picture of the adorable Linus.🥰

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BLOG TOUR

Surrounded by Silence

Author: Eric Huffbind

Cover Artist: Eric Huffbind

Release Date: October 14, 2020

Genre/s: Contemporary Gay Male Romance

Trope/s: Billionaires, Hurt/Comfort, Post-Divorce, Middle Age

Themes: Learning what it means to be selfless rather than selfish.

Heat Rating: 4 flames

Length: 71 000 words/259 pages

This is a sequel to The Rescuer, but can be read as a stand-alone.

Goodreads

Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | Amazon UK

Lonely billionaire, Samuel Barron, has finally met someone he finds himself falling for, but can he handle a romance for a gentleman whose entire world is surrounded by silence?

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Blurb

After public humiliation, Sam Barron has come to the realization his billions can’t buy him love or happiness. Despondent and feeling like his life is in a downward spiral, he comes to realize he needs some professional help. Despite trepidations, Sam turns to Jason Parker, a social worker who at his heart, is a rescuer. Even though Sam had been so hateful towards him in the past, Jason can’t help but think Sam deserves to suffer. Jason tells Sam straight out, “You’re a spoiled brat without a shred of humility!”

Jason has deep concerns about helping Sam, but might be willing, if Sam volunteers at a soup kitchen. Grudgingly, Sam accepts Jason’s condition, and while performing his volunteer work, meets the flirtatious Noah Wagner. Noah is close in age, attractive, and Sam likes the way he feels whenever he’s around him. Noah is the first person Sam has known who is profoundly deaf. So, how is Sam to navigate a romantic interest with a man who can’t hear a word he says?

Surrounded by Silence, a Contemporary Gay Male Romance, is a sequel to Mr. Huffbind’s debut novel, The Rescuer. However, this book can be read as a stand-alone. If you enjoy a story where the villain becomes the hero, you will love Surrounded by Silence.

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Interview with Eric

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Introducing Eric and his writing… 

My home is in West Chester, Ohio. It’s in the southwest corner of the state and  a suburb of Cincinnati. I have been with my husband Paul for 16 years, and legally married since January of 2013.  As much as I wish I could simply write fiction all the time, with the need of income and health insurance, I have been working full time as a travel agent. Unfortunately, due to the current Covid-19 crisis, I was recently placed on furlough and praying I will be able to return to work some time in 2021. I have a 25-year-old autistic son who lives in a nearby group home. Plus, we have an 11-year-old Pomeranian dog who goes by the name Linus. 

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I write Contemporary Gay Male Romance. This is the book genre I most enjoy reading and, consequently, gives me the best emotional, feel-good high. They always say, write what you love! So, to me, there is no other genre I would ever wish to write in. 

How long have you been an author?

 I have been writing for three years. Not full time, as nice as that would be, I need a more steady, consistent income.

What/who inspired you to start writing? 

Writing a book was just something that had been on my bucket list. As to why I wanted to write a book at all, not sure. It was just something I wanted to accomplish during my time here on earth. Once I fell in love with MM Romance, it simply dawned on me, “I can do this!” If someone had said to me 10 years ago, I would be writing Gay Male Romance novels, I would have thought they were crazy. Once I discovered the world of self-publishing, it somehow felt like a no-brainer. 

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

At its heart, Surrounded by Silence tells a love story of a billionaire, who historically has been selfish and spoiled, falling in love with a gentleman from the deaf community. Inspiration for my stories has always been from real life. I have distant cousins who are deaf. My mother had a female first cousin, who married a man who was deaf. And from that marriage, there have been a fair number of descendants who are deaf, as the cause for this deafness is genetic. Many of these extended deaf family members have married individuals who were hearing. So, the concept of this story had its roots in real life. Let’s just say, I had a little bit of knowledge about the deaf community, and how some of their attitudes shape what motivates them. My husband and I were out to breakfast with another couple, and our friend Linda said, “Why don’t you write a story that involves a main character from the deaf community?” That was all it took for my inspiration for Surrounded by Silence.

How did you decide on the title? 

It just hit me all at once. Since I was writing a love story between two men, one from the hearing world, and one from the deaf world, the title made perfect sense. For Sam, who cherishes music and the sounds in nature, meets a man with a heart of gold, but lives in a world Surrounded by Silence.

What was the hardest part of writing your book? 

Without a doubt, the hardest part of writing this book was the ground level research for the development of credible story lines. Yes, I had some knowledge of the deaf community, and even have a friend who is both deaf and gay. Still, my knowledge was not sufficient. I have no skill in the use of sign language. Now, my friend Harold, who belongs to both the deaf and gay communities, lives in California, but is originally from Ohio where I reside. When we are together, it is challenging, since I have no American Sign Language to access, but nevertheless, my husband and I manage. I wanted to have a clear knowledge base of what it’s like for someone in the hearing community to fall in love with someone from the deaf community. How does one cope and deal with initial communication barriers?

Additionally, I desperately needed an understanding of the inner workings of child welfare and protection laws. I had zero knowledge in this area. Thank heavens for the power of Facebook. From a single post, I met my dear friend Amy, who has a wealth of knowledge. 

Did you learn anything from writing your book? What was it? 

Most definitely! I learned that is is quite possible for a child born deaf and given the tool of cochlear implants, to grow up with full use of verbal language–individuals raised without any need to learn sign language. 

I learned how critical it is for cochlear implants be placed during early childhood when the language center of your brain is most receptive to learning spoken language. Not that this should be a surprise to anyone if we all think back to learning speak as we grew from infancy, as compared to the struggle of tackling a foreign language during high school. With all that being said, It is this capability that has many in the deaf community worried that American Sign Language will disappear. A language that is so entwined in the fabric of the deaf community. Not sure that that would ever happen. Not all deaf individuals have success hearing with cochlear implants. Unless in the future, technology is enhanced to bring hearing to those individuals as well. 

Why M/M?

 I’m a gay man. I can see numerous films of heterosexual romance, which I totally enjoy, but finding gay romance in films, with positive story lines is extremely difficult to find. Quality MM Romance removes that limitation. As a gay man, there is something special and entertaining in these love stories between two men. I want to read stories that for me, reflect real life.

What other novels do you adore/ writers you follow?

That is easy. My answer has to be Agatha Christie. I love murder mysteries, and she had genius talent. 

Are any of your characters based on you or people you know?

Most definitely! In both my first book, The Rescuer, and this book, Surrounded by Silence, Jason Parker, is based on me. I’m a retired RN, and I have always thought of my self as a rescuer. As Jason discovered in The Rescuer, trying to mix being a rescuer with romance, often ends badly. With the man I fell in love with and married, there was definitely no rescuing required.

Are you a pantser or a plotter?

I am most definitely a pantser! Lord knows I have tried to become a plotter figuring it would help be to write the book more quickly. I’ve read books on how to convert from being a pantser to a plotter. However, regardless of my efforts trying to plot out the entire novel upfront, those attempts have been met with complete failure. I just don’t feel that my brain functions in that way. 

I start with a character that is flawed in some aspect. When I begin writing, I know where I want that character to start, and I know how I want that character to end up. As to how I will accomplish my character’s goals is something that has to organically unfold in my head. I often have a small basket of scenes in my imagination I would like to see during the course of the novel. And I will pull from the basket as I pants my way along.

Is there a downside to being a pantser? You better believe there is! At times during my writing, I will slam against a brick wall as to what I am going to do with my characters. Perhaps I have written 30,000 words and think, “I need a whole lot more story than this before I can conclude my book.” I have found myself stuck brainstorming 2 – 3 weeks before a good idea comes to me. That would frustrate me to no end, but now, I just relax and wait for an epiphany to hit me.

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

Great question! Although, to be honest, I would probably say I am both a cat person and a dog person. In the past, I have had as many as 4 cats at one time. However, I came to realize that is just too many animals for me. It starts becoming a big job caring for that many animals. Between taking each cat to and from the veterinarian for care or keeping the litterbox clean. 

For years, during my twenties and thirties, I dreamed of having a dog, but never felt like my work schedule would allow for it. When I was an RN, I worked 12-hour shifts. That was just too much time away from my home to properly care for a dog. After my husband Paul came into my life, getting a dog felt much more doable, as he worked more sane hours.

So, currently, we have just one dog, a Pomeranian by the name of Linus. I must say, he is crazy cute. Linus will be 12 years old in February 2021. He’s a tri-color, which is a coat pattern not seen as much as a solid color. And It is just one dog, not several. As much as I love dogs, I don’t want the cost and upkeep to care for multiple animals again. My husband and I did have 3 cats at one point in time. After getting Linus, as they passed away, we didn’t replace them.

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Excerpt

Coming through the front door of their apartment, Jason called out, “Honey, I’m home. Where are you?”

Poking his head out, Christopher announced, “I’m in the kitchen making dinner.”

Strolling into the kitchen, Jason gave Christopher a kiss, and asked, “How was work today?”

“Oh, it was okay, same old same old. Not particularly exciting. How about you?”

Jason took a small step backwards and began rubbing his eyebrows. “Well, an old friend of yours came to see me today, without any forewarning, of course!”

“An old friend of mine? I can’t imagine what old friend of mine would come to see you.”

“I’m being facetious,” Jason said. “Calling this man a friend is a bit of a stretch, and he’s someone I wasn’t happy to see.”

Christopher’s eyes narrowed as he squinted. “Please, tell me it wasn’t Sam Barron?”

“I’d be happy to tell you it wasn’t Sam Barron… but I would be lying. Yes, it was Sam. Admittedly, I was floored! And as you can imagine, especially since he showed up unannounced, I was less than ecstatic to see him.”

“Dear God, almighty! What in the hell did he come to see you about?”

“As you might suspect, I was a bit miffed. Not trying to change the subject, but something smells awfully good. What’s for dinner?”

“Just a frozen entrée of lasagna. Don’t get too excited, but it’s your favorite brand. So, go on, why did Sam show up at your office?”

Jason took a seat at the small dinette table. “As hard as you might find this to believe, he came seeking my professional help. As far as I can gather, ever since all the bad press in the media hit the airways, he’s fallen into a deep depression. Perhaps, a deep depression isn’t the best choice of words. Significant emotional distress is more accurate. Complains of loneliness and being guilt-ridden.”

Christopher said sharply, “And why should you care if he’s guilt-ridden? He deserves to feel guilt-ridden!”

“You’re not going to get an argument from me. Still… I felt bad for him. It was as if he was pleading for forgiveness, and begging for my help. He says he wants to become a better person. The guy was crying. Sounded desperate.”

“Christopher responded, “It sounds like he needs a psychologist, not a social worker.”

“Exactly! That’s what I told him, but he insisted he wants me.”

“No offense, but why does he want your help?”

“You know Sam,” Jason answered. “He always wants the best. In his mind, I’m the best. In addition, I’m gay, which is especially important to him, and I get that.”

Christopher started shaking his head in utter disbelief. “Wait now! Wait just a minute here! After the way that man treated you! And treated me for that matter! He has the gall to come and ask you for help!”

“He said he was a nervous wreck coming to see me! He knew damn well I wasn’t going to be happy having him show up on my doorstep. The thing is, honey, I felt bad for him, and believe me, I hear myself saying this, and yet, I can’t believe these words are coming out of my mouth.”

Christopher crossed his arms against his chest. “Let me guess! Your inner rescuer kicked in.”

Jason nodded his agreement of his husband’s quick and accurate assessment.

Jason waved his hand in a gesture to encourage Christopher to sit down with him. He pushed the chair away from the table giving Christopher easier access to sit.

“He saw how much I helped you. So, he trusts me. That’s why he wants my help. You’re right, of course, my inner rescuer did kick in. I told him I had to speak with you, and I would only help him if you granted me permission to. I wasn’t going to do it without your consent. The guy looks pitiful. He said I could name my price! He even offered to pay me five hundred dollars an hour. Mind you, not during my regular working hours. He knows this is something that must take place outside the realm of my job. He was willing to come here, or I could go to his home. Tell me, what do you think? How do you feel about it? Would you be okay if I worked with him? Trust me, I have my own reservations, and… I can’t lie, the money does sound appealing. I’m not a licensed therapist, but what I do isn’t such a stretch from what a psychologist would do. So, I’m asking, would you be comfortable with this?”

Christopher asked, “The question you should be asking yourself is, how do you feel about it?” Although, I must admit, I know that man. If he wants you bad enough, he’ll pay you whatever price you want. Ever since you sold your condominium and decided to live in my apartment, you’ve wanted to buy a house for us. Remember the model home we saw? The one built by Kirkland Home Builders. That money could help a lot towards a down payment. It’s just so ironic! This is the same man who sent you into a panic attack, and now he comes crawling to you for help. Although, I know what you’re talking about. There’s a side of Sam Barron he doesn’t let people see. I’ll be okay with it—if you’re okay with it.”

About the Author

Eric Huffbind is a man of many talents. Over the course of his lifetime, he has worked as a Registered Nurse, a Travel Agent, and an Uber driver. He characterizes himself as a hopeless romantic and is the eternal social butterfly. Among his passionate interests are history, genealogy, romance books, and travel.

Although his novels focus on the romantic relationship of two gay men, regardless of your sexual orientation, his stories are meant to rekindle the spirit and euphoria of falling in love.

Eric is a lifelong resident of Southwest Ohio. Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, he currently resides in West Chester, Ohio with his husband Paul and their Pomeranian, Linus.

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