A Stella Review: Jingle Spell by Chris Ethan

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RATING 3 out of 5 stars

It’s the most horrible time of the year.
Smooches under mistletoes and tacky reindeer decorations.
Newly single, Davey has had enough of wasting his love and having his heart broken. Better to be single, he decides. No more dates. No more falling in love. No more dreaming of happy ever afters. Those are for movies.
He’s resolute.
And then Avery steps into his life, bringing care, compassion, and tenderness in his path.
Davey’s so tempted to hope again. But can an online date and a brief encounter turn into anything other than an ephemeral sexual encounter?
Is there a future for them? Will Avery stay? And most importantly, can Davey bear to offer up his heart to the season’s love—just one more time? 

Jingle Spell was the first book I read by this new to me author, Chris Ethan. I have to say I am a sucker for Christmas stories and the cover was too adorable to resist.

This is a very cute and simple novella, easy to read and light. A lovely way to spend a couple of hours before bedtime. Nothing complicated in the plot, just what I need in a holiday reading. Just two persons, Davey and Avery, who meet and find each other interesting,  and later realize something more could happen with a future together made of new memories (and pictures, you’ll understand if you will decide to read jingle Spell) could be built. And what conquered me was that I really was able to see them still together in the coming years.

I  recommend this new release by Chris Ethan, I will surely check the author’s other works.

The cover art by Ethereal Ealain is well done and so into the Christmas spirit and it fits the plot. I was gone as soon as I saw it.

Sales Link:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 73 pages

Published December 7th 2016 by Dream Trek Imprint

ASIN B01N6BVH09

Edition Language English

A Jeri Review: Off the Ice (Hat Trick #1) by Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5
I really love books with one of the main characters playing a professional sport. But what I really liked about this one is the way Tristan, a professional hockey player, was preparing for life after hockey. Taking his down time to take college courses to ready himself for a second career. Enter hot sociology professor who has no clue who Tristan is.
Another thing I really enjoyed was that instead of sneaking around, they became friends first. Because they knew they couldn’t be together if they were teacher and student. Imagine that! WAITING! Every other book I read has the main characters sneaking around to avoid being caught together. By not sneaking around, not giving in, the sexual tension was through the roof. But that slow burn was really hot.
The conflict came instead from Sebastian being out and proud and Tristan being in the closet. The whole macho sports thing. Sigh. Makes me sad that it isn’t just in a book but also in real life. No one should have to hide.
As a sociology professor, Sebastian really likes to teach about perception of people. How they are perceived just by looking at them without knowing them. It was really cool how that was turned right around on him when he assumed that Tristan was a frat boy who cheated his way through. Never in a million years did he think that the baseball hat and sweatpants wearing guy was a pro hockey player, smart, articulate and focused. Shows that no matter how enlightened we are, we all have bias.
Even though this is a co-authored book, it was seamless. I never felt the shift from one author to the author. I’ve read other collaborations of theirs and enjoyed them for some of the same reasons. It was well written, well thought out and didn’t use sex as a page filling crutch.
This is a definite read.
 
Cover art by Natasha Snow is perfect for the story.
Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon
Book Details:
ebook, 283 pages
Published October 30th 2017 by Riptide Publishing
ISBN139781626496613
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesHat Trick #1
CharactersTristan Holt, Sebastian Cruz, Ryu Mori, Trevor Morley, Daniel Bellamy

An Ali Review: Psycho Romeo (Ward Security #1) by Jocelynn Drake & Rinda Elliott

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Geoffrey Ralse is known for being the life of the party. He loves the club scene, hanging with his friends, and flirting with whomever catches his eye. He certainly isn’t going to stop living his life just because some would-be stalker starts sending him threats. 

But it all changes when Geoffrey is drugged and wakes up half naked in his own home with a new message from his stalker. 

He needs help and there’s only one person he trusts… 

Protective Agent Sven Larsen has been fighting Geoffrey’s flirtatious advances for months, even though he’s impossibly drawn to the man. There’s no way he can be around him twenty-four/seven and not finally crack. But one look at Geoffrey’s haunted eyes, and he knows there’s no way he’s letting Geoffrey walk out of Ward Security without him. 

Even if it means breaking his own rules, he will keep Geoffrey safe.
This is the first book in the new Ward Security series which is a branch off of these author’s Unbreakable Bonds series.  I was especially excited to see this series start because Rowe (who owns Ward Security) was my favorite character from Unbreakable Bonds.  I was excited to find out I was going to get more of him.
This book stars Sven and Geoffrey who we have met multiple times before in the other series.  You do not have to have read those books though to be able to understand and enjoy this plot.  Geoffrey has had his eye on Sven for awhile and it’s been a bunch of fun and games for him to tease and flirt with Sven.  A very serious situation though changes everything.  Geoffrey is scared and finds he has no one he can count on other than the guys he’s met through Ward Security and Sven is the only person who can make him feel safe again.  Against his better judgment Sven agrees to be a bodyguard for Geoffrey and immediately the chemistry between the two men comes to light.
The story is fast paced and exciting in regards to the mystery part of it and the romance is both sweet and romantic in places and smoking hot in others.  The two guys are combustible when they are together.  They get together quickly but it feels realistic as they have been building up to this for a long time.  We get to know both of them much better and I liked them both a lot.  They were both shown in a more detailed and complex way than we’ve seen of them in the past.
If you have read the Unbreakable Bonds series you will recognize a lot of the characters from that.  Rowe, Noah and Andrei have big roles in this and we see some of the Ward Security characters in more detail.  The authors set the stage for which other characters we will see in future books.
This was a really enjoyable read for me.  It was action packed and yet romantic and emotional in places.  I enjoyed it a lot and am really looking forward to the next books in the series.
Cover:  I think this cover is well done and it fits the story plot perfectly.
Sales Link:  Amazon
Book Details:
Kindle Edition, 232 pages
Published October 27th 2017
ASINB075QFW9FL
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Ward Security #1

Felicitas Ivey On Plotting Novels and her latest release The Secret of the Sheikh’s Betrothed (author guest post)

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The Secret of the Sheikh’s Betrothed by Felicitas Ivey
Dreamspinner Press

Cover Artist: Bree Archer

Available for Purchase at Dreamspinner Press

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Felicitas Ivey on tour for her novel The Secret of the Sheikh’s Betrothed. Welcome, Felicitas.

🐫

On Plotting Versus Pantzing by Felicitas Ivey

A lot of people, mostly my family and co-workers, ask me how I get my ideas for my novels and short stories. I do refrain from telling them I get a once a month delivery of ideas from super secret source, and just tell them ideas come from everywhere around you. I’ve written a couple of novels just to have my characters run around odd sections of Boston. Most of time I write a novel or a story, it’s because I have one idea I was able to get a short story or a novel from that idea.

I have a novel I’m working on, one plotted and I start working on the next one when an idea strikes me. The novel I’m working on is a gothic romance. The novel I’m plotting out right now is a romantic horror/suspense one.  I don’t know if it’s going to go anywhere, but plotting is half the fun of writing. I have a friend and we bounce ideas off of each other all the time, in person or over a chat program if we’re at work. Sometimes I get shower or driving ideas and I try to write them down before I forget them.

I used to be a pantser, and now I’m slowly trying to plot out things, so if I get ‘stuck’ I can go on to something else in the novel. Aside from plotting, I try to work on only one novel at a time. The best advice I ever heard was to ‘Not cheat on your novel with another one’. Or only concentrate on one thing at a time and don’t multitask several stories at once, writing-wise. I have edited novels while writing other things, and it was a little disorienting.

With plotting a novel or a short story, I use two methods so not be a pantser. The Marshall Plan by Evan Marshall has a system of X number of sheets per book, depending on the length of the book, is it a romance, how many viewpoint characters and things like that. I’ve figured out one sheet is about 12-1500 words, depending on what’s happening in the novel or short story then. And the sheets have helpful labels about whose the viewpoint character at the time and how many sheets they get. It’s fairly easy if you follow the plot you’ve laid out. I still wander take a left turn at Albuquerque sometimes and wander away from the plot.

What I don’t like is his character sheets. They’re interesting, but not my cuppa. What I use is Karen Wiesner’s ‘First Draft in 30 Days’ character sheets. They’re in a format I’m more comfortable with, more like writing a draft then filling out the small boxes the Marshall Plan uses. You can write out several paragraphs of back history, likes and dislikes very easily.

My next novel, I’m treating it like a roleplaying game, filling out character sheets for the main characters. It should be an interesting experiment. It’s a romantic horror novel, set in rural New England. New England is a great place to set horror.

I set most of my work in New England, since that’s where I grew up and lived all my life. And you can tell I’m a Boston girl as soon as I open my mouth, since I have the accent wicked bad. I’ve spent a lot of vacations in Northern Vermont also, so I’m familiar with the area and like to set some of my work there.

I’m trying to be more productive writer, but there is only so many hours in the day. Plotting and prep work do make the process faster, so I’m trying to lose my pantsers ways.

Blurb

Billionaire Fathi al-Murzim is a workaholic businessman, too busy running the family’s companies to even think about marriage. Too bad he never told his grandfather he’s gay, because Grandfather just announced a childhood betrothal—to a Bedouin girl Fathi never heard about before…

Ikraam din Abdel was raised as a woman by his avaricious and abusive older sister, who didn’t want him to be their father’s heir. He’d never thought to be married either, and is surprised when his sister informs him of his betrothal.

When Fathi and Ikraam meet, they are drawn to each other in a manner neither of them expected. As the plans for their wedding progress, they both realize they need to tell the other the truth. But can they, with both cultural taboos and family pressures to deal with.

About the Author

Felicitas is a frazzled help-desk tech at a university in Boston who wishes people wouldn’t argue with her when she’s troubleshooting what’s wrong with their computer. She lives with three cats who wish she would pay more attention to them, and not sit at a computer pounding on the keyboard. They get back at her by hogging most of the bed at night and demanding her attention during the rare times she watches TV or movies. She’s protected by her guardian stuffed Minotaur, Angenor, who was given to her by her husband, Mark. Angenor travels everywhere with her, because Felicitas’s family doesn’t think she should travel by her lonesome. They worry she gets distracted and lost too easily. Felicitas doesn’t think of it a getting lost, more like having an adventure with a frustrated GPS.

Felicitas knits and hoards yarn, firmly believing the one with the most yarn wins. She also is sitting on hordes of books, which still threaten to take over her house, even with e-books. Between writing and knitting, she brews beer, wine, mead, and flavored liqueurs. Felicitas also bakes, making cakes whenever she needs to work out an issue in her novels. Sometimes this leads to a lot of cakes. Her coworkers appreciate them though, with the student workers buzzing about on a sugar high most of the time.

Felicitas writes urban fantasy, steampunk, and horror of a Lovecraftian nature, with monsters beyond space and time that think that humans are the tastiest things in the multiverse. Occasionally there’s a romance or two involved in her writing, with a happily-ever-after.

Website: www.Felicitasivey.com

Facebook: felicitasivey

Twitter: @felicitasivey

Email: felicitas.ivey@gmail.com

Review Tour – Chris Ethan’s Jingle Spell ( giveaway )

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Length: 119 pages
 
Cover Design: Ethereal Ealain
 
Blurb
 

It’s the most horrible time of the year.


Smooches under mistletoes and tacky reindeer decorations. 


Newly single, Davey has had enough of wasting his love and having his heart broken. Better to be single, he decides. No more dates. No more falling in love. No more dreaming of happy ever afters. 

Those are for movies.


He’s resolute.


And then Avery steps into his life, bringing care, compassion, and tenderness in his path.
Davey’s so tempted to hope again. But can an online date and a brief encounter turn into anything other than an ephemeral sexual encounter?


Is there a future for them? Will Avery stay? And most importantly, can Davey bear to offer up his heart to the season’s love—just one more time?


A sweet romance by Chris Ethan, author of The Guy With The Suitcase.

November 22 – RAM PA Group, Valerie Ullmer
Author Bio



Chris Ethan is a book whore. He enjoys selling his feelings for money and other pleasures and is blatantly unashamed to do so for as long as he breathes. Chris Ethan is also a persona for Rhys Ethan, author of fantasy and sci-fi. He uses Chris Ethan to share stories of adult queer romance with those who need it. Before you delve into his books however, be warned. He likes putting his characters through shitstorms and hates anything conventional. But then there’s that darned happy-ever-after. Also, he likes swearing. Deal with it!

 

Giveaway

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Release Day Blitz For The Love of Samuel by RP Andrews (excerpt)

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Title:  For the Love of Samuel

Author: RP Andrews

Publisher:  Self-Published

Release Date: 11/20/2017

Heat Level: 5 – Erotica

Pairing: Male/Male, Male/Male Menage

Length: 50,500

Genre: Romance, Erotica, Fantasy, eroic gay romance, erotic gay fiction

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

New Yorker and aging gay man Billy Veleber who abhors growing old has lost Jim, his former meth head lover, to his habit, and Gus, the older man in his life and mentor, to despair, when he is confronted with the chance to become 21 all over again, through the magical prowess of the dog tag of a long dead Civil War soldier, Samuel Evans. Young again, Billy abandons Manhattan for Fort Lauderdale where he meets Dare, the love of his life, whose clever quick rich venture first bonds them, then threatens to end their idyllic lives together forever. Billy also faces the reality of having to tell Dare the truth about himself.

Excerpt

Billy Veleber, a 51 year old aging gay mam living in Manhattan, after a number of heartbreaks, decides to put on the dog tag of a Civil soldier given to him by Travis, a clerk in a thrift shop in Boystown, Chicago, who tells him it will give him eternal youth if he has had or has love in his life.  The dog tag had been handed down for generations since it was given to Walt Whitman by a dying soldier he nursed in the Washington, D.C., Armory Hospital in 1862. Over the intervening weekend, Billy begins his transformation to 21, the same age as the soldier, Samuel Evans, whose dog tag he wears, died …

I leave the baths around five, and after a coma nap, a quick Smart Choice Fettuccini Alfredo 400 calorie dinner and a good hot shower – I notice with cocky satisfaction in the bedroom’s full length mirror that my love handles are history, my stomach is flatter, my receding hairline is unreceding, and most of the gray on my head and in my beard and and on  – yes! – my chest is going or gone, I head over in my leather vest, no shirt, and levis and boots for The New Eagle off Tenth Avenue. It’s almost one – a.m. – but as one of my fuck buddies before Gus and even Jim, said, “That’s when they stop window shopping.”

Now it’s called The New Eagle because the old Eagle, along with the Spike and the Lure, the leather triumvirate of my youth and my years with Gus, were gone. They had become the victims of the real estate boom at the turn of the millennium, and had been brutally and sacrilegiously torn down for shiny, gleaming condos and spankingly clean baby carriages.

In the crappy bathroom at the Spike they had stenciled on the black wall in cheap white paint, “Don’t flush for piss.” That said it all. I only hoped some gay historians had saved that piece of the wall before it too became history. Now all we have left is the hole on Tenth Avenue, what us hardcore leathermen sarcastically brand as Genuine “Vi-nel.”

I strut in, my goose-step no longer adopted but my own, and find the same Chatty Cathy cliques – different faces, same old shit – going on like the last time I was here with Gus just after we’d  gotten back from our first class holiday excursion to Athens and Rome and a few weeks before his stroke.

In between the groupies are some of the oldest members of our clan, The Old Guard, usually alone because most of their cronies are already dead, and usually with enough keys hanging from their belts to rival a night watchman at the Chrysler Building, the fucken handkerchiefs hanging from their pockets, so Twentieth Century, or the best of them in faded, stretched out jock straps that should be on Antiques Road Show along with their owners. Yea it’s true, the older some of these guys got, the less they wore. For attention I guess.

Admired or ridiculed, it doesn’t matter; the greatest sin is to be ignored.

I order my nine dollar screwdriver with fifteen cents of vodka in it, and head up the stairs to the second level where just a year before Gus and I had had our leather marriage ceremony.

As I’m going up the stairs some twink in a super short Tux jacket, Bermuda shorts and floppies and one of those Abe Lincoln top hats – I guess he thinks he’s in the Garment District because anywhere else he’d be tire-ironed – and his angelic girl friend, a vision in pink, dressed in a fluffy chiffon skirt, low cut blouse and sneakers, are waltzing down the stairs. They give a funny stare but I stare them right back.

“You,” say I, pointing to the bitch, “don’t belong here.”

“You can’t discriminate against us, fucker,” replies her boyfriend who sounds like he shoots up with estrogen in the morning.

I give him a frumpy look back. Yea, buddy you’re right. The days when a leather bar could stop you from coming in if you weren’t dressed “in code” are over. With the leather scene fading faster than an Atlantic City “Wish You Were Here” postcard, it’s all about selling the liquor.

Period.

There’s less people upstairs, the same Chatty Cathy shit going on or guys on their fucken phones GPSing you but never making a move beyond that, when I see HIM.

He’s tall but not too tall, hairy but not a gorilla like me, older but not old, with an open leather camouflage vest showing a tight, lightly furry chest and six pack out of one of Men’s Fitness cover stories, “Dynamite Abs in Just Six Weeks!”, a scrawny beard and face of a felon who did hard labor, and leather gloves and biker’s cap to complete the whole Neo-Nazi look.

Plus a pair of furry, honey melon buns deliciously hanging from his chaps begging to be tongued.

Fuck!

He’s standing at the other end of the bar, surrounded by clones though he is far and away the pick of the litter. I lock my eyes on him like a laser for a good ten minutes but I get hardly a glance.

Now in the old days before Jim and Gus when I was free as a bird but as timid as a spinster, I would have just moved on. Oh, but this was the new Billy, the ballsy Billy. I walk over and stand two feet away from Mr. Hot Shit and his court jesters and just keep staring.

Finally I get his attention.

“You got a problem, bud?” he says returning the stare of a killer. His cronies do the same.

“Well, I’ve been cruising you for at least ten minutes now and I didn’t even get a fart back.”

“And…”

“So what are you looking for, some fem, or fat boy, or maybe some tough guy with whips, chains and razors hanging from his belt?”

His buddies begin to little girl giggle, but not a muscle moves in Hotshit’s Stone Mountain face.

“I’m not into watching your pubic hairs grow in, buddy.”

“How old do you think I am?”

“Thirty, thirty two maybe.”

Fuck, dude, I’d suck your dick all night just for that. But I continue to play it cool.

“So you get your kicks changing some old man’s Depends, I guess.”

Now Hotshit is the only one that’s laughing.

“Okay, smart ass, buy me a beer.”

He follows me to the bar and after collecting our beers, we move to the other side and sit down on the wood bleachers.

“I gotta tell you buddy -”

“Billy, name’s Billy.”

“Hank, in from LA. Hell, Billy, you’re the first guy I’ve met in a long time that’s got balls for real.”

“Hey, I know what I want, so why waste one another’s time?”

“And you want me?”

“If you can deal with all this.” I glide my hand over the fur on my chest and abs when Hank puts his hand over mine and pushes it further down to my crotch.

And squeezes.

“I dig the fur big time. And most younger guys are so used to deleting and blocking everybody, they don’t know how to talk, Christ, they don’t know how to fart in public. But you – you sound pretty mature for a kid old enough to be my son.”

“You don’t have to be old to have your shit together.”

Hank raises his razor chin. “So how old do you think I am, stud?”

Now with that hard core felon face, I took him for fifty but PR taught me to tell people what they wanna hear.

“Forty.”

“Good answer,” he replies. “I’m 46.”

“l just threw a guy out younger than you,” I say smugly.

“Oh?”

“High maintenance. Wanted it all the time. Hey, what do I look like, some fucking machine?”

“You must be pretty tough.” He smiles for the first time since we connected, a tough guy’s, controlled, but a smile nonetheless.

“Yea, I’m a trust fund baby, do what I wanna do, when I wanna do it, with whoever I wanna do it with.”

It’s refreshing to create whatever past the moment calls for when you know, chances are, you’ll never see the guy again.

“And you?” I ask. “You’re not one of these aging hotties who live off those of us with money are you?” This time I place my hand on his chest, rubbing it slowly back and forth from nipple to nipple. He’s got a nice succulent set.

“You know something,” with his own smart ass grin. “I’m going to really enjoy hearing you howl while I fuck you.”

I get up, pat my ass for his benefit, then sit down again.

“This ain’t yours yet.”

“Okay, fair enough.” He takes my hand, places it on his crotch, a respectable bulge at that. “I’m a set designer in Hollyweird, between gigs which is why I decided go visit New York and see some old buddies …”

“…who you’re free loading off of.”

“If you mean, I’m staying with one of them the answer is yes.”

“Current trans-coastal lover, present or former fuck buddy, auditioning sugar daddy, which is it?”

“None of the above. Just a buddy’s couch and a lumpy one at that.”

“Well then, that makes it easy.” I get down off the bleachers and wait for him to follow. He does.

“Remember.” He taps on the chrome and leather armband on his bulging left bicep.

“So two tops can have fun,” I say matter of factly, taping on my neoprene version, also on my not quite as bulging as his left bicep. “Who ends up on the bottom bunk is a matter of luck and timing.”

Purchase at Amazon

Meet the Author

RP Andrews spent most of his life in New York City as a public relations executive before relocating to Fort Lauderdale in 2002, where he enjoyed a brief second career teaching writing at a local university.

All his works of erotic gay fiction and non-fiction are available at amazon.com.

His first work of erotic gay fiction, a collection of edgy short stories called “Basic Butch,” was originally published by San Francisco-based GLBT Publishers in 2008. Basic Butch features characters who go down life paths that, in the end, they wish they had never explored.

His latest works of serious gay fiction include:

“The Czar of Wilton Drive,” the story of Jonathan Antonucci, a twenty-one-year- old, barely-out-the-closet gay man from suburban New York who overnight finds himself a multimillionaire, thanks to a bequest by his late gay uncle. Uncle Charlie has unexpectedly died of a heart attack, leaving him the sole owner of several of the most successful bars in Wilton Manors, Fort Lauderdale’s gay ghetto, making Jonathan the Czar of Wilton Drive.

Flying down to Lauderdale to claim his bequest, Jon encounters Uncle Charlie’s dubious friends and business associates, and is immediately submerged in Lauderdale’s scene of unbridled sex and heavy drugs. He also discovers his great uncle’s memoirs which reveal truths not only about Jon’s own past but also what may have really happened to his uncle. In the end, Jon is torn between avenging Uncle Charlie’s death or loving the man responsible for it.

“Not In It For The Love,” set at the turn of the new millennium. Josh, a young street-smart Florida drifter is snatched from his dead-end existence as a male hustler in a cheap Key Largo motel by Bishop, a Wall Street power broker who sets him up as his trophy boy in Manhattan society. There, Josh, after leading a promiscuous lifestyle within New York City’s gay sub-culture, meets Hylan, a young, bi-racial, down-on-his luck, wheelchair-bound musician who awakens in Josh what love can be between two men. But their chance at happiness and the lives of those around them are forever changed by 9/11.

“Buy Guys,” published in 2015, is the story of Blaze and Pete, two handsome young drifters with nothing and nothing to lose. Blaze convinces Pete, who is falling in love with him, to leave dreary New Jersey and lead free and easy lives as male prostitutes in sunny Fort Lauderdale. Blaze, however, soon pulls Pete into a much larger, more dangerous scheme, a scheme that eventually threatens to destroy them both.

RP Andrews’ daily social commentary blog on gay life in America has been running since 2010 at str8gayconfessions.com, and a second edition collection of these commentaries is available as an e-book on amazon.com. Confessions of a Str8Gay Man is RP Andrews’ unvarnished, unorthodox views of Modern Gay America which are often counter to today’s political correct gay media.

In addition, there is “Furry Man’s Journal,” his erotic memoirs as a hirsute gay man as told through his experiences with the dozen iconic men in his life.

For more info, visit eroticgayromancebyrpandrews.com.

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Cover Reveal Short Order (Foothills Pride #8) by Pat Henshaw (excerpt and giveaway)

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COVER REVEAL

 

Title: Short Order

Series: Foothills Pride #8

Author: Pat Henshaw

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Publication date: December 13, 2017

Price: $3.99

Format: eBook

Genre: Contemporary Gay Romance

Cover Design: AngstyG

Pages: 89

Words: 28,400

Goodreads: to come

Buy links

Dreamspinner Press

Blurb

When recent horticulture graduate Dr. Fenton Miller arrives in Stone Acres, California, he thinks his only concern is which job offer to accept after spending the holidays working at his cousin’s plant nursery. But after he rents a room from another shorter-than-average man, sous-chef John Barton, Fen falls in lust.

While he’s attracted to Fen, John’s got bigger concerns when two men from his past arrive in town and pressure him to return to San Francisco. Although John tries to stop Fen from getting involved, Fen realizes his lover is in trouble and is determined to protect him.

As the holidays get closer and Fen makes his own enemy, the joy of the season gets lost in the ill will around them. To ensure love triumphs, Fen and John must stand tall to show that short, dark, and handsome is a recipe for love.

Excerpt 

That night I stood freezing at Barton’s door, admiring Blue Cottage. The snow drifts piled on the lawn made the house look greeting-card perfect. I searched for a doorbell. Instead, a lion-headed knocker snarled at me. I grinned. Every house needed an intimidating guardian, right?

A man who looked about my age and height opened the door and slipped out, shutting it behind him. I was curious to see inside, but I got that the guy wanted his privacy. No problem.

“Hi. I’m Fen.”

He looked me over, then turned to the left along the shoveled porch. As he walked, he played with the keyring, bouncing a key in his hand. Did I make him nervous? If so, was that a good thing?

“This way.”

Okay. I took a breath and followed his pert ass and brisk steps as we rounded the porch to a steep staircase. From my brief glance at his face, he seemed okay. I was still slightly put off by his brusque manner. But hey, I reminded myself, I was renting from him, not fucking him.

In silence I followed him up to a small porch and a solid-looking back door, which he opened after only a little fumbling.

I was greeted by the stuffy, closed-up odor of a place long left undisturbed.

“You’d be my first renter. It’s furnished, but I can store anything you don’t want.” He made quick eye contact with me. The words erupted from him like I made him uncomfortable or something. Maybe it was my piercing and the tattoo, or maybe the hair color. I tried a smile, but he blushed and turned away, gesturing to the rooms.

Even though the air inside was chilly, I looked around and fell even more in love than I had when I’d first seen the house. The 1940s era furniture and knickknacks turned what could have been sterile rooms into my kind of home. I exhaled, letting the ambience settle in my soul as I wandered through a country kitchen, tiny dining room, sitting room, two bedrooms, and a classic bathroom, ending eventually at a circular tower room. I fell even deeper in love along the way as I touched the scratched kitchen table, a velveteen-covered parlor settee, a solid-looking four-poster bed, and the needlepoint-cushioned window seat in the tower.

If I were Barton, I’d charge thousands a month for this place. I prayed he wasn’t me and was relieved when my prayers were answered.

“You want to keep the furniture?” He still didn’t look at me as he bent over the kitchen table to fill out the rental agreement. Who needed him staring? I could live with letting his voice pour over me and seeing his kissable lips.

“I can’t imagine living here without all of it.” Or maybe even you, I thought, eyeing his pert butt wiggling at me as he wrote.

He stopped, stood, and eyed me for a few seconds before bending and going back to writing. I hadn’t said that about his butt out loud, had I?

As I was daydreaming about his ass and the scarred table, he stopped writing, looked over the form, and finally twisted it toward me. “Sign here, initial here, and date it. Then I need your rent for the month.”

I was signing before he changed his mind. The rent was ridiculously cheap. “No deposit?” There had to be a catch, right?

“No.”

I glanced up. He was gazing down at the table, or maybe at my hands. Or my groin? I signed as fast as I could and wrote a check to John Barton, the name on the rental agreement. So he had a first name, and we had a deal.

 

I drove back to my cousin’s house whistling. Within an hour, and with Beth and Kate’s help, I was moved in. Having only clothes and electronics made the move a one-trip job. Then I went food shopping for breakfast stuff and frozen dinners. We all celebrated by eating a late dinner outside town at a diner called the Rock Bottom Cafe. Renting a place with a wonderful kitchen hadn’t automatically taught me to cook.

Even with an enigma for a landlord, my life was perfect.

 

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About the Author

Pat Henshaw, author of the Foothills Pride Stories, has spent her life surrounded by words:  Teaching English composition at the junior college level; writing book reviews for newspapers, magazines, and websites; helping students find information as a librarian; and promoting PBS television programs.

Pat was born and raised in Nebraska where she  promptly left the cold and snow after college, living at various times in Texas, Colorado, Northern Virginia, and Northern California.  Pat enjoys travel, having visited Mexico, Canada, Europe, Nicaragua, Thailand, and Egypt, and Europe, including a cruise down the Danube.

Her triumphs are raising two incredible daughters who daily amaze her with their power and compassion.  Fortunately, her incredibly supportive husband keeps her grounded in reality when she threatens to drift away while writing fiction.

 

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