A Stella Review: If the Fates Allow Holiday Anthology

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RATING 4 out of 5 stars

During the holidays, anything is possible—a second chance, a promised future, an unexpected romance, a rekindled love, or a healed heart. Authors Killian B. Brewer, Lynn Charles, Erin Finnegan, Pene Henson, and Lilah Suzanne share their stories about the magic of the season.

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Gracious Living Magazine Says It Has to Be a Live Tree
By Killian B. Brewer
Determined to make his first Christmas with his new boyfriend magazine-perfect, Marcus seeks the advice of lovable busy bodies, the Do-Nothings Club. When he learns that his boyfriend, Hank, may have ordered a ring, Marcus’ attempts to transform his home into a winter wonderland get out of hand.

Shelved
By Lynn Charles
When library clerk Karina Ness meets a new patron, lonely business owner, Wesley Lloyd, she puts her own love life on hold and begins a holiday matchmaking mission to connect Wes with her uncle Tony.

Last Call at the Casa Blanca Bar & Grille
By Erin Finnegan
As the one-year anniversary of his lover’s death rolls around on Christmas, Jack Volarde finds himself at their old haunt—a bar called the Casa Blanca, where a new bartender helps him open up about loss, and see brightness in a future that had grown dim.

True North
By Pene Henson
Shay Allen returns to her hometown in Montana for the holidays with her best friend Devon with the intent to return home to L.A. by New Year’s Eve. Instead, the weather traps them in the small town, but the there’s a bright spot: her old crush Milla is still in town.

Halfway Home
By Lilah Suzanne
Avery Puckett has begun to wonder if her life has become joyless. One night, fate intervenes in the form of a scraggly dog shivering and alone in a parking lot. Avery takes him to a nearby shelter called Halfway Home where she meets bright and beautiful Grace, who is determined to save the world one stray at a time.

I’m a fan of holiday stories and I’m a fan of this publisher o I soon jumped at the chance of having this collection of LGBT shorts on my hands. I have to say some titles worked better than others but it still was a pleasurable reading.

Gracious Living Magazine Says It Has to Be a Live Tree By Killian B. Brewer 5 stars

I was waiting for new works from this author since I read Lunch With The Do-Nothings At The Tammy Dinette on January and I was so happy to meet Marcus again here in this short. Marcusa has moved to Georgia six months ago, he’s now working at the Tammy Dinette. He got new friends, new job and a new lover, Hank, the hot mechanic. Since I adored the novel, I was over the moon the author filled my wish to know more about Marcus and his new life. I found them ready to spend their first Christmas together, but most of all, ready to take baby steps toward a real future side by side. And a little misunderstang added more spice to the plot. I loved it!

Shelved By Lynn Charles 3 stars

this is not the first story I read by this author and although I was able to see her amazing writing style, I didn’t loved Shelved as I loved the other books Lynn wrote. Maybe cause there is a “double story”, one with a ff couple and one with a MM couple. And I would have preferred to have just Wes and Tony romance, simply cause I’m more interested in mature MCs. That said, I liked this short story and the amazing people and athmosphere the author created.

Last Call at the Casa Blanca Bar & Grille By Erin Finnegan 3,5 stars

This was the first time I read this author’s work and it was a surprise. To be honest, I’m actually not sure why, cause the writing was really good and intriguing, but I soon at troubles with the reading and I found myself pretty bored, I didn’t understand where the author was going to lead Jack. I was hoping something was going to happened and the story to take a new energy. And then I got an answer, and everything fell into the right place. It gave me hope and faith. A touching short about love and grief.

True North By Pene Henson 4 stars

I like the author writing and I was expecting this to be a FF story, it didn’t go exactly how I was hoping and fearing, the usual fake boyfriend clichè was ignored and the plot went versus the friends to lovers theme. I liked how both girls slowly approached each other after years of being apart. And I adored the ending, the promise of a plan to actually be together, gave the short some reality.

Halfway Home By Lilah Suzanne 3 stars

This short warmed my heart, if you are a dog lover, you can’t not like it and cheer for Avery to come out of her shell and open her life to Grace and to the world. I hoped for her to find some happiness and joy in the arms of a beautiful woman and in the sweet Rudy.

The cover art by CB Messer is adorable.

Sales Links:  Interlude Press | Amazon

BOOK DETAILS

ebook

Published December 1st 2017 by Interlude Press

ISBN13 9781945053481

Edition Language English

INTERLUDE TOUR If the Fates Allow Holiday Anthology (excerpts and giveaway)

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If the Fates Allow: A Holiday Anthology

from the Authors at Interlude Press, an LGBTQ Publisher

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host the tour for If the Fates Allow: A Holiday Anthology from Interlude Press.  If you love holiday stories, check out all the wonderful stories the authors have for you below, read the excerpts and don’t forget to enter the  giveaway at the bottom of the post!

SHELVEDLYNN CHARLES

Libraries are honored and respected institutions in our communities. From providing free literature for pleasure and information, to offering quiet work space and free Wi-Fi, a town’s library can be a sanctuary for anyone who wants or needs it.

In large metropolitan libraries, resources can seem limitless: musical scores; complete medical encyclopedia; drawers of historical maps; comic books; movies; books stretching in themes from fundamentalist Christianity to Paganism, from science fiction to horror to westerns to bodice ripping romance. Meeting rooms are available for community businesses, children have their own spaces where they can read, learn and engage their creativity. Some have cafes, most hold free classes for computer usage, job and careers, adult learning, or business and finance. The options seem as endless as the available materials. And their focus is on the entire community: young and old, rich and poor, all races, nationalities, sexual orientations and religions.

The Library Bill of Rights—yes, it’s a thing—requires it. It states that libraries should provide services for all people, present all points of view, challenge censorship, honor privacy of inquiry, and make the library and its full facilities available to all.

What happens, however, if you live in a smaller town, a conservative town? What happens when the administration who runs your library carries strong opinions about certain sectors of their own community? When they refuse to post a Pride display in June, or a collection of books celebrating Ramadan or Diwali? When even finding such books in circulation is difficult or downright impossible?

In “Shelved,” my short romance in the holiday anthology, If the Fates Allow, the story is told by Karina Ness, a library clerk who works in such a library. She has made it part of her mission at this small county library to diversify the catalog, to expand the offerings for her community who aren’t all white, straight, Protestant folk. She, and her new patron friend Wes, talk about the challenges of getting proper library materials when you’re not like “everyone else” in your community.

“Minions don’t have to provide résumés,” Karina explained. “We have to prove we can spell our names and recite the alphabet.”

Wes patted the seat next to him, and she took the invitation. “Not your dream job, I take it?”

“It’s a step. I was an annoying patron who wants to be an annoying librarian, so they gave me an opening.”

“You’re helpful, not annoying.”

“Well, you’re not the conservative circulation manager. Her, I annoy. Regularly. Because this is a library, not a Christian bookstore.”

“See, now. You proved it. You’re the kind of librarian I liked.”

“You were a library kid too?”

“I read like a fiend. Still do, but the books at school didn’t include many people that looked like me.”

“Sadly, they still don’t.”

“No. And once I was a teenager, I couldn’t find books that helped me understand why I thought boys were much cuter than girls.” He smiled. “No offense.”

“None taken. I mean, you’re wrong; girls are much cuter than boys.”

Wes smile broadened. “See? I needed librarians like you. Mom would take me up to the city library where they had more options. Once I could drive, I’d go and find the deepest stack and read everything I could.”

“Because you couldn’t take them home…”

“Nope. Especially with Dad.”

Which brings up another concern. Kids and teens want to see themselves in books—queer heroes fighting for a cause, boys who fall in love with boys, girls who think the girl in her math class is so incredibly hot, trans or enby kids who struggle to find their identity in our binary world. They don’t dare buy the books at the Scholastic Book Fair, or use allowance money to get them at the closest book store. Without a supportive family, bringing materials like that into their homes can be dangerous. Libraries are a safe haven to read, to steal away, to allow their imaginations run wild and to see themselves as their hero in their own story. And for kids in small towns, the haven isn’t as available if the books aren’t there.

In my story, having those types of books available might have made a huge difference to Karinas Uncle Tony, who didnt come to terms with his bisexuality until his 40s.

But it’s not hopeless. Karina Ness might be a fictional character, but she is in every town. Clerks and librarians like her regularly annoy acquisitions managers, some of whom would rather fill the shelves with Christian romance novels, and speak up for kids like Karina by doing what they can to get the materials in the hands of the readers who need them.

When I worked at my small county library, even though our situation was much like what Ive just mentioned, I quickly learned that if you request a book to be added to the circulation, a librarian will do their best to get it for you. Go equipped with titles or themes and talk to the people on the floor. If one person doesn’t seem helpful—or if she’s your Sunday School teacher or your next-door neighbor and you just cannot ask her—find someone else. If face to face isn’t something you’re comfortable with, even the smallest libraries have an online presence where you can make requests via email or an online form. I have never had a request rejected on premise of theme, character nationality, race, religion or sexual orientation. If the administration of that library isn’t interested in diversifying its circulation, then help them out by letting them know that their community wants it. Your on-the-floor librarian should be glad to help you. If not, ask another.

Characters like Karina are on staff all over the country. Libraries, big and small, are truly for everyone.

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Lynn Charles is an author of queer contemporary romance novels. She lives in Central Ohio with her husband and daughter where a blind dog and his guardian cat rule the roost. She holds a bachelors degree in music education, worked at her county library, and absolutely never judged you for what books you checked out. Her novels Chefs Table (2014), Black Dust (2016)a finalist for the Foreword Review Indie Award in Romance, and Beneath the Stars (2017), can be found at Interlude Press, and most online book retailers. Keep up with Lynn at lynncharles.net.

IF THE FATES ALLOW  ~ SUMMARIES & AUTHORS

Gracious Living Magazine Says It Has to Be a Live Tree by Killian B. Brewer: Determined to make his first Christmas with his new boyfriend magazine-perfect, Marcus seeks the advice of lovable busy bodies, the Do-Nothings Club. When he learns that his boyfriend, Hank, may have ordered a ring, Marcus’ attempts to transform his home into a winter wonderland get out of hand.  Featuring the characters from Lunch With the Do-Nothings at the Tammy Dinette.

Killian B. Brewer lives in his life-long home of Georgia with his partner and their dog. He has written poetry and short fiction since he was knee-high to a grasshopper. Brewer earned a BA in English and does not use this degree in his job in the banking industry. He has a love of greasy diner food that borders on obsessive. Lunch with the Do-Nothings at the Tammy Dinette was published in January, 2017. His debut novel, The Rules of Ever After, is available from Duet Books, the young adult imprint of Interlude Press.

True North by Pene Henson: Shay Allen returns to her hometown in Montana for the holidays with her best friend Devon with the intent to return home to L.A. by New Year’s Eve. Instead, the weather traps them in the small town, but the there’s a bright spot: her old crush Milla is still in town.

Pene Henson has gone from British boarding schools to New York City law firms. She now lives in Sydney, Australia, where she is an intellectual property lawyer and published poet who is deeply immersed in the city’s LGBTQIA community. She spends her spare time enjoying the outdoors and gazing at the ocean with her gorgeous wife and two unexpectedly exceptional sons. Her first novel Into the Blue (Interlude Press, 2016) received a Lambda Literary Award for Gay Romance. Her second novel, Storm Season, was published by Interlude Press in 2017.

Last Call at the Casa Blanca Bar & Grille by Erin Finnegan: As the one-year anniversary of his lover’s death rolls around on Christmas, Jack Volarde finds himself at their old haunt—a bar called the Casa Blanca, where a new bartender helps him open up about loss, and see brightness in a future that had grown dim.

Erin Finnegan is a former journalist and a winemaker who lives in the foothills outside Los Angeles. Her novel Luchador was named one of Publishers Weekly’s Best Books of 2016, and along with her 2014 debut novel, Sotto Voce, received both a Foreword Reviews INDIES Book of the Year award and a PW starred review. 

Halfway Home by Lilah Suzanne: Avery Puckett has begun to wonder if her life has become joyless. One night, fate intervenes in the form of a scraggly dog shivering and alone in a parking lot. Avery takes him to a nearby shelter called Halfway Home where she meets bright and beautiful Grace, who is determined to save the world one stray at a time.

Lilah Suzanne has been writing actively since the sixth grade, when a literary magazine published her essay about an uncle who lost his life to AIDS. A freelance writer from North Carolina, she spends most of her time behind a computer screen, but on the rare occasion she ventures outside she enjoys museums, libraries, live concerts, and quiet walks in the woods. Lilah is the author of the Interlude Press books SpicePivot and Slip, and the Amazon bestselling Spotlight series: Broken Records, Burning Tracks and Blended Notes.

Shelved by Lynn Charles: When library clerk Karina Ness meets a new patron, lonely business owner, Wesley Lloyd, she puts her own love life on hold and begins a holiday matchmaking mission to connect Wes with her uncle Tony.

Lynn Charles’ love of writing dates to her childhood, when thoughts, dreams, frustrations, and joys poured onto the pages of journals and diaries. She lives in Central Ohio with her husband and adult children where a blind dog and his guardian cat rule the roost. When she’s not writing, Lynn can be found planning a trip to New York or strolling its streets daydreaming about retirement. Her novel Black Dust (2016) was named a finalist for a Foreword Reviews INDIES Book of the Year award. Her other novels include Beneath the Stars (2017) and Chef’s Table (2014).

Excerpts

Gracious Living Magazine Says It Has to Be a Live Tree by Killian B. Brewer

Hank ran his hands down Marcus’s back and tucked them into Marcus’s back pockets. He pulled Marcus tight against his body. “So how was it today?”

“It was a good day, Baby.” The warmth of his boyfriend’s body soothed Marcus’s tired muscles, and he relaxed into the embrace. Marcus breathed in deeply at Hank’s collar bone. The smells of the home-cooked food reheating upstairs that lingered in Hank’s cotton shirt mixed with his cologne and filled Marcus with two types of hunger. He satisfied one by turning his face and placing his lips on Hank’s. The other man let out a low hum of pleasure as they kissed. Marcus pulled away slightly and looked into Hank’s eyes. “I’m going to want seconds of that later, but right now I’m starving.”

“Let’s get upstairs and get to rectifying that.” Hank stepped toward the stairs and pulled Marcus along behind him, only letting go of his hand when they reached the narrow stairway and had to ascend single file. “You can tell me all about how the dinner went. Was it a big crowd?”

“Big doesn’t even begin to describe it. I can’t count how many plates I fixed today.” Marcus concentrated on Hank’s backside, which was accented by worn spots on his tight blue jeans, as it bounced up the stairs ahead of him. The sight of Hank’s firm body inches away and the scents of food wafting from the apartment set Marcus’s two hungers warring inside him. As he clomped upward, a loud rumble from his stomach signaled which desire would win this time.

“Was that your stomach?” Hank paused on the stairs and turned to shoot Marcus a concerned look.

“Yeah,” Marcus’s answered as he pushed Hank up the stairs into the apartment, “we need to get some food into me.” Remembering the Do-Nothings admonition not to ruin Hank’s surprise, he added, “I’m so tired I can barely climb these stairs. I don’t think I can cook another thing today. Maybe we should just make a frozen pizza.”

Hank spun around and grabbed Marcus by both wrists. Excitement danced in his eyes, and he shook his shoulders. “I’ve got a surprise for you! I made us a whole Thanksgiving dinner. Turkey and everything!” He pulled Marcus into the apartment and gestured toward the folding table beside the kitchenette along the wall of the large, open loft. “You don’t have to cook any more today!”

The table was covered with a russet tablecloth and had orange tapers burning in the center of a spray of autumn leaves and berries. Two plates sat on brown placemats embroidered with yellow leaves that Marcus recognized from Helen’s kitchen table. He was sure the tablecloth, napkins, and centerpiece belonged to the Do-Nothings as well.

“Oh, Hank. It’s beautiful. You shouldn’t have.” Marcus turned and kissed Hank on the cheek. His stomach interrupted the kiss with a loud grumble. “But, clearly, I’m so glad you did.”

“I wanted to make our first Thanksgiving together a special night.” Hank beamed as he stepped over to the counter and pointed out bowls of food arrayed there. “And I made all your favorites. Cathead biscuits. Creamed corn. And look!” Hank picked one bowl and thrust it toward Marcus. “Real mashed potatoes. Not from a box!”

True North by Pene Henson

Milla Dalya. Shay stopped worrying about the crowd of neighbors and her mom introducing Devon as her girlfriend. She stopped breathing too.

“Old crush,” she’d said to Devon in the car. “Nothing important.” That might not have been the whole truth.

For the first six months of high school, Shay had been first on the school bus each morning. Halfway through freshman year Milla and her twin brother Luka and uncle Ilie had moved into the dilapidated horse ranch up the hill. From then on, Milla and Luka were first on the bus; Shay was second. The three of them rode twenty minutes around the mountain before collecting anyone else.

That first frosty day, Milla had smiled at Shay.

“Oh, no,” Shay had thought as she pulled off her thick gloves and shoved them in her backpack. Milla’s smile was sudden and waywardly infectious. It balanced the seriousness of the girl’s pale, freckled face and silvery eyes.

Shay had managed to smile back and sit four seats away. Not too close, not too far. That was the trip to school. On the way home, Milla had asked Shay’s name. By week two they were sitting at the front of the bus sharing Shay’s iPod and a set of earbuds. When the bus swung around the mountain, Shay’s black, puffy jacket pressed against Milla’s sky-blue one.

They weren’t friends exactly. Shay didn’t have friends. She spent any time that wasn’t a class training in the gym or on the football field. She had goals.

Anyway, they’d never shared a class or a lunch break. Milla was a year older and a grade above Shay. She was soft-spoken and horse-mad, but so were lots of girls in Big Timber. She was quickly surrounded by people. Shay understood that. Milla was pretty and seemed easy with herself—graceful. She fit.

They weren’t friends, but however many other kids Milla could have sat with on the bus, she always saved a seat for Shay. They were bus allies. They ignored Luka and his friends and their never-ending noise. With the help of her iPod, Shay took on the development of Milla’s musical palate. Now and then, between Aaliyah and Amerie, Milla talked about her horses and the farm. Shay talked about fishing and basketball.

They weren’t friends, but every time Shay took the court, home or away, she scanned the bleachers to find Milla among the spectators before the starting whistle blew. And most afternoons Shay would run up the hill beside her house, testing herself on its uneven slope. At the top she’d look down on Milla’s blue-roofed farmhouse. Sometimes she’d see Milla walk across to the stables.

She didn’t jog down the hill to visit. It was simply reassuring to see the place, always there under the huge, blue bowl of the sky.

The whole brief time they’d shared here in nowhere, Montana, every single time Shay had seen Milla, it was as if she was the only person in the room.

Last Call at the Casa Blanca Bar & Grille by Erin Finnegan

Taking a seat at the Casa Blanca was like stepping out of a time capsule in Morocco circa 1941, by way of Hollywood. Located on the ground floor of an aging hotel, it greeted patrons with the sound of big band music on the stereo and framed photos of Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman on the walls. Cast on crimson and gold accents, the warm, dim lighting suggested a permanent midnight.

A comfortable oddity compared to its five-star competition up the hill, the Casa Blanca’s style was part homage to the classic film, part tequila bar. The owner insisted on a sense of classic style— no jeans or T-shirts for its bartenders, who wore crisp, white dress shirts and black slacks, though he capitulated on the bow ties when the bartenders rose up against wearing the constrictive neck ware.

Admittedly, the Casa Blanca hadn’t always been Jack’s idea of a great bar. It had been an acquired taste, born of devotion and a willingness to follow. To some, it came across as fashionably ironic: Kasbah décor-meets-Mexican restaurant to a soundtrack from the American songbook. Jack would protest that it was a hipster joint, would try to default to something fashionably modern atop Bunker Hill, an elegant spot with a view, but the Casa Blanca’s quirks and contradictions grew on him over time.

Like a fungus, he would say.

Like love, he would be admonished.

Maybe it became so much a part of his routine because it was where they had spent many of their best moments together, and a few of their worst.

The Casa Blanca was a habit born out of a relationship, a routine that died of unnatural causes one year ago.

Rattan fans swirled overhead, casting erratic shadows across the depths of the near-empty room. Televisions at opposite ends of the bar echoed the play-by-play of ESPN in hushed and reverent tones; the voice of the broadcast team usurped by Peggy Lee.

At the far corner, his back to the entrance, a solitary bartender wiped glasses while glancing at the game.

“You open?” Jack asked.

“So long as you’re thirsty,” he answered without so much as a glance in Jack’s direction, as if anticipating the interruption. “But the kitchen’s closed.”

“That’s all right,” Jack said. He made himself comfortable at a table a few feet from the bar and adjusted his chair to face the television. It might not have been sociable, but he wasn’t here for conversation.

A napkin floated to the table. A bowl of Chex Mix settled in front of his fingertips. “What are you drinking?”

Jack glanced at the bartender’s hands without looking up—the prominent veins hinted at athleticism and the nails were buffed to a soft sheen.

He drank beer at games, but beer was a drink for the sociable, to be consumed among friends. Whiskey had an appropriately solitary feel, but seemed out of place for a warm evening.

“Tequila,” he said. “Casa Dragones.”

“And here I had you figured for bourbon.”

Halfway Home by Lilah Suzanne

She drives to Grace’s house next, even more anxious than she was about staging Rudy’s escape. “Just be glad you don’t have to date,” she tells Rudy, scooping out a bite of drippy ice cream. “You’d be dead inside after a while of that too.” Avery holds out the ice cream lid for Rudy to lick. Can dogs eat ice cream? It’s probably fine. “See? Who doesn’t like vanilla ice cream, right? It’s like all other ice cream owes vanilla its existence. Rocky road. Cookie dough. Moose Tracks. Cookies and cream.” Rudy looks plaintively up at her, so she sets the now-empty carton down on the seat for him. “Okay, yeah. I’m stalling.”

Covering him with the blanket again, Avery cuts the engine, promising to be back quickly before the cold seeps in, then runs up Grace’s driveway before she chickens out. Grace answers with two of her dogs at her heels.

“Hi,” Avery says, clouds of steam puffing out as she speaks. “Sorry to drop by.”

“It’s okay, I’m glad you did.” Grace smiles, and Avery shivers.

“I um, had a weird, yet inspirational, talk with Santa. I mean not real Santa. I don’t think he’s real; you know what I—”

Grace laughs. “I get it, yeah.”

Avery exhales a cloudy breath. “Okay. The thing is, I’ve been settling for feeling nothing because it was safe, or I thought it was, but I don’t want to feel numb anymore. Even though my nose and fingers do actually feel numb right now.” She rubs at her nose. It’s so cold; she has to wrap this up and get back to Rudy. “I just wanted to tell you that I really, really like you a lot. Like I haven’t liked anyone as much as you… ever, actually. Yes, including the person I lived with because— because I was afraid to speak up and say how I really felt. But I’m not anymore. Grace, meeting you was fate. And I don’t even believe in fate, but I don’t know what else it could be. If you need time, then I can give you time. But this is real, and it’s worth the risk to me.” Avery turns and jogs down the steps, not giving Grace a chance to respond. She said what she had say, she did what she needed to do and she’s proud of that, whatever happens or doesn’t happen. “Merry Christmas, Grace.”

Grace calls her name, just once, soft and hesitant. Avery doesn’t turn. The timing isn’t right, and that’s okay. It will be. Avery tucks this moment away, an ember warm and steady in her chest: hope.

Shelved by Lynn Charles

He put the car in drive, cranked up the heat, and grinned. “Point the way!”

She chewed on her bottom lip as she gathered the courage to mention the daydreams that had kept her mind occupied that afternoon. “I’ve been thinking,” she said. She kept her eyes on the road ahead in case her next sentence flopped like a basket of rotten tomatoes. “You might like my Uncle Tony.”

Wes remained quiet; his finger, softly tapping to the music, never paused. “Huh. What’s so special about Uncle Tony?”

Karina dared a glance Wes’s way. He seemed cautiously interested. “Well, he’s… I mean, he’s—” She was not going to say Uncle Tony’s interest in men was the main impetus. That was absurd and wrong, but— “He was married to my Aunt Jodi.”

“Your Aunt Jodi.” Wes pulled up to a traffic light. “If he was married to your aunt—what makes you think he’d be interested in me?”

Karina rolled her eyes. “There are such things as bisexuals, you know.”

“I—I do know, yes. I’m sorry.” He looked at her with a pained smile. “I’m so out of the dating game that I—yes.” He continued to tap his steering wheel to the music. “You said ‘was’ married—is that why it’s past tense?”

“Yeah. He didn’t come to terms with it until later and… she wasn’t keen on the idea.”

“That’s a shame,” he said. “Thing is, I’m not too sure I’m keen on getting back in the dating game.”

“But it’s Christmas!”

“What does that have to do with—” Before taking off from the light, he shot a look at her. “Your love bomb and your Christmas spirit are still tangled.”

She ignored him; of course they were tangled. That was the point. “But, Wes… walks in the snow and packages with pretty bows and eggnog under the tree.”

“You know, some people like being alone at Christmas.”

“Oh, come on. No one likes it; they put up with it. You said you were my age when—look, it was a long time ago, and maybe it’s time—”

“How old do you think I am?”

“You’re forty-six. Turn right up here.”

“Huh. Someone did more than fix my résumé, I see.” The smile he’d been visibly fighting this entire conversation finally broke free.

“Look, Uncle Tony is lonely, and you seem—”

“Lonely?”

“Well. Yes? And I think he’d make you laugh, and he loved James and the Giant Peach as a kid too…” She lingered and hoped that revelation would spark the ultimate flame. When he didn’t flinch, she rushed on. “And he makes the most amazing pasticiotti that should never go unshared.”

Pasticiotti?”

“It’s these custard-filled pastry… pie… things, and they take forever and a day, and he destroys his kitchen and my waistline. He shoves them off on his clients because—” She stopped rambling. Wes was laughing, and they’d driven right by her house. She directed him around the block.

“Does Uncle Tony know you’re trying to hook him up with a failed businessman?”

Giveaway

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A MelanieM Review: Burning Tracks (Spotlight #2) by Lilah Suzanne

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Gwen Pasternak’s got it all. Or so it seems…

In the sequel to RT Book Reviews’ Top Pick Broken Records, Gwen’s life looks perfect: She has a job she loves as stylist to the stars, a beautiful wife, Flora, and a house in the heart of Nashville. But the more she works alongside country music’s dynamic princess Clementine Campbell, the less Gwen is certain of her commitment to a life of domestic bliss.

Meanwhile, her business partner Nico Takahashi is happily settled down with reformed bad-boy musician Grady Dawson. But when Nico questions the permanence of their relationship, Grady retreats into some dangerous old habits. Will Gwen ruin the life she’s built with Flora for something new and exhilarating? Can Grady be convinced of Nico’s devotion before it’s too late? Burning Tracks is a story of tough choices, taking risks, and the pressures of living life in the spotlight.

Burning Tracks, the second installment in the Spotlight Trilogy, sees Gwen Pasternak take center stage in this saga of intertwined relationships.   Gwen and her wife Flora have always been an integral part of Nico Takahashi’s life.  She’s his partner, sometime life support, best friend and even foundation when things have gone wrong.  And Nico has been hers, even if that put Flora on the outside.  So bringing Gwen out here and letting us see more of her life makes total sense.  She and Nico switch places for a book, with Nico and Grady switching places, their relationship drama swirling as a secondary although still greatly important element here in Burning Tracks.  Neither Gwen or Nico can be separated from each other.

We have been leading up to crisis in relationships, small, large and everything in between and the cause of them.  Here the push has been for a child from Flora, something that Gwen doesn’t really think she wants or is capable of being a good parent to.  Adding to that pressure is a new client, Clementine Campbell, who  wants all of Gwen all of the time.

Lilah Suzanne expertly threads us through the confusion that Gwen feels about all the complications in her life, the pressure she feels, the knowledge that she’s on the precipice of her relationship with her wife who she loves….we feel it all and love Gwen all the more.  She’s so human and vulnerable yet trying to do her best.

Clementine Campbell, the powerful charismatic country star on the rise is just as amazing.  She’s so brilliant a character, she shines off the page, even at her most irritating.  Only Flora comes off as a grey figure here in comparison which is a shame.

Nico and Grady, and the others are all here too, fighting for their relationship, making mistakes still due primarily to communication, something that seems to plague them all.

I love the aspect of the country music business and style here.  That never fails to entertain and inform.

Now to the sex.  Yes, there’s a lot of F/F sex here.  If you don’t care for that, then you can fly over it and still stay at the heart of this story, the relationship dynamics, the mistakes people make, and the paths back to the people who are really their HEA.  I really enjoyed this story, loved it place in the trilogy and highly recommend it.

Cover art again is perfect.

Sales Links:  Interlude Press | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 224 pages
Published August 11th 2016 by Interlude Press
ASINB01FSLEMXQ
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Spotlight Trilogy:

A MelanieM Review: Broken Records (Spotlight #1) by Lilah Suzanne

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Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

Los Angeles-based stylist Nico Takahashi loves his job—or at least, he used to. Feeling fed up and exhausted from the cutthroat, gossip-fueled business of Hollywood, Nico daydreams about packing it all in and leaving for good. So when Grady Dawson—sexy country music star and rumored playboy—asks Nico to style him, Nico is reluctant. But after styling a career-changing photo-shoot, Nico follows Grady to Nashville where he finds it increasingly difficult to resist Grady’s charms. Can Nico make peace with show business and all its trappings, or will Grady’s public persona get in the way of their private attraction to each other?

Book One in Lilah Suzanne’s “Spotlight” series.

Broken Records (Spotlight #1) by Lilah Suzanne is one of those books and series I ended up backing into by mistakenly starting at the end of the series.  Without realizing it was part of a trilogy, I picked up and read (and reviewed) Suzanne’s  Blended Notes, the story the concludes the Spotlight trilogy.  It’s a wonderful story but as I mentioned in my review, I absolutely felt of lack of backhistory that reading the previous stories might have provided.  And I was going to rectify that.

Wow,  am I glad I did!

I love, love Broken Records.  Yes, it absolutely gave me the missing foundation and history I needed to give heft and depth to Nico and Grady’s relationship in Blended Notes.  Here I get to watch it all begin.  I have the joy of watching the characters, meet, mesh, love, laugh, have hot sex (fans self) and decide, that they are it for each other, no matter what.

Lilah Suzanne introduces both characters, supplies them with their history, supporting cast of characters and businesses so each remains fiercely independent financially of each other for better or worse.  Nico Takahashi has a little bit more in his support section. ( I don’t consider people with a financial hook in you a support system, plus I read book three.) There’s Nico’s partner Gwen Pasternak and her wife, as well as Nico’s family.  On Grady’s side?  Well, it’s much smaller and sadder.  How each other navigates the perils and trust issues between them is a realistic element here along with the whole music/style side of the business.  All of this was hinted at in Blended Notes but to read/experience here?  Amazing!

Yes, there are moments I laughed out loud.  And some I sniffled.  Suzanne takes the believable approach that love isn’t just romance, that a relationship is communication and sometimes hard work.  Between Nico and Grady, fear of the spotlight and fear of being left behind, the work is constant even if the love is always present.

I loved all the characters here, including Gwen, her wife, and others  that keep popping up throughout the story to add in wisdom, levity, strength and support.

Yes, I wish I had read this story first.

But  coming at it backwards somehow works too.  I have an appreciation for the timeline, I can get a real free for the character growth and the relationship dynamics that play out over the course of three stories (yes I’ve read the second as well).  I’ve fallen in love with the entire trilogy and every single character in it.  You really need to put Spotlight the trilogy on your must read series list.  But read them in order!  I highly recommend them all…second book review coming up.

Cover art brands the series and works for the storyline as well.

Sales Links:  Interlude Press | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 280 pages
Published December 17th 2015 by Interlude Press
ASINB0190QX8WQ
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Spotlight:

A MelanieM Recent Release Review: Blended Notes (Spotlight #3) by Lilah Suzanne

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Grady Dawson’s future looks bright. He’s at the top of his country music career, has a close-knit group of friends who have become his Nashville family, and has found solid ground in his personal life as he plans his intimate, private wedding with Nico, his stylist turned lover turned love of his life. It seems Grady has finally left his difficult childhood and tumultuous youth behind. That is, until his past shows up on his doorstep, news of his upcoming nuptials is leaked to the media, and his record company starts issuing demands that challenge his integrity as an artist and as a person. The foundation Grady built his new life on begins to crumble and fast. Can he have his future if he’s haunted by his past? Can he continue making music if it means comprising his convictions? Must he make the ultimate choice between a private life with Nico and the public demands of his career?

I came to Blended Notes (Spotlight #3) by Lilah Suzanne without having read the first two stories (Broken Records and Burning Tracks) and I think that was a mistake.  Each preceding novel gives you the various stages in the Grady Dawson/Nico Takahashi romance/relationship as well as supplies you with the surrounding cast members and overall series foundation.  Coming blind into Blended Notes without all that back history and relationship tapestry means that you as a reader are forever feeling like you are missing pieces of a puzzle or playing catch up in a larger game. And that’s a shame because this is a marvelous story.

When Blended Notes opens Grady and Nico are an engaged couple planning a wedding. The stress of that event is showing on the couple as well as the fact that Grady’s recording label wants him to change the lyrics on a song he wrote especially for himself and Nico, making it hetrosexual in its romantic orientation.  If Grady doesn’t buckle under to the demands of the recording studio, his future career is shaky, information he is withholding from his fiance. Both men start to withdraw into past patterns (here is where reading the previous stories would have helped immensely) of behavior rather than communicate what’s really going on between them.

There is so much here.  Complicated angst-filled pasts, family drama, present day Nashville pressures for a Country Music Artist to appear “straight”, interpersonal dynamics, pre-marriage stress…honestly the author empties the narrative bag here, addresses them all and comes up shining.  Lilah Suzanne makes you care about Grady and Nico, their complicated lives and their forthcoming wedding which seems to be in jeopardy under the strain of all the current pressures.  How each man handles it is beautifully drawn out, allowing us to peer into the connection and love that ties them both so closely together.

I love all the wonderful elements in Blended Notes,  from the old car that Grady finds and starts to refinish that also allows him to find connections to his relatives and Nico’s father to the backup musicians that come to his aid and revive him emotionally and musically.  Suzanne reaches out and brings so much depth to her characters and their situation here that after a while I’ve forgotten that I’ve missed out on two thirds of their story and just let the story flow over me all the way to the dramatic and oh so satisfying end. Yes I loved that ending too!

It also will send me back to pick up the stories I considering how I love this story so I want to see how it all began.  So back to Broken Records and Burning Tracks I run!  If you are familiar with this series, you will love Blended Notes!  If, like me, you are new to Lilah Suzanne’s Spotlight series, start with the first two stories and then find your way here.  This is a series you won’t want to miss!

Cover art works well for the story.  Like the design very much.

Purchase Links:

Interlude Press |  Amazon Barnes & Noble  | Target | iTunes |  Kobo |   SmashwordsBook Depository |

Indiebound 

Book Details:

ebook, 275 pages
Published August 17th 2017 by Interlude Press
ISBN139781945053405
SeriesSpotlight #3

In Our Recent Release Spotlight: Blended Notes by Lilah Suzanne (excerpt and giveaway)

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Blended Notes (Spotlight #3) by Lilah Suzanne
Interlude Press

Purchase Links:

Interlude Press |  Amazon Barnes & Noble  | Target | iTunes |  Kobo |   SmashwordsBook Depository |

Indiebound 

 

Today I’m interviewing Lilah Suzanne author of Blended Notes, book three in the Spotlight series. Hi Lilah, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself, your background, and your current book.

  1. Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing come from? Well, my dad is a musician and my parents met doing theater, so growing up in a family that encouraged creativity probably helped. I was also the sort of kid who was constantly reading; I devoured anything I could get my hands on. Writing always felt like a natural fit for me, I’ve been doing it since I was pretty young.
  1. What were your goals when you started this book? Do you think you met them? I wanted to do justice to Grady’s journey and give him a voice from his own perspective, and I wanted to write a satisfying coda to everyone’s journeys in all three books in the Spotlight series. I feel good about how all of this came to fruition, yes. That said, I can see myself writing short spin-offs for more minor characters who didn’t get as much focus, like Spencer or Clementine.
  1. Have you ever co-written with someone before? Not successfully! I’ve always tackled writing projects on my own—it’s a bit of a solitary journey for me…though I do have a short story coming out in the upcoming holiday anthology, If the Fates Allow, so that maybe sort of counts?
  1. Tell us about your favorite character in a book (yours or someone else’s). Oh, am I allowed to pick a favorite from my own characters? Is that like picking a favorite child? I’ll say, Grady is most important to me, being from the South, and being bisexual, like me. Also he’s gone through some trauma in his past, he’s messed up pretty badly at times, and yet he works so hard on being kind and compassionate, and he still finds his happily ever. I think that’s an important message.
  1. List five foods you can’t live without. I am sort of the opposite of a foodie, so I am actually well practiced at going without certain foods. Instead of my five essential foods, I’d like to pick Grady’s, because that says something about him: Barbecue (of course!); Nashville-style hot chicken; Mello Yello counts as food as far as Grady is concerned; frozen custard; and of course, pecan pie.

BLURB

Grady Dawson’s future looks bright. He’s at the top of his country music career, has a close-knit group of friends who have become his Nashville family, and has found solid ground in his personal life as he plans his intimate, private wedding with Nico, his stylist-turned-lover, turned love of his life. It seems Grady has finally left his difficult childhood and tumultuous youth behind. That is, until his past shows up on his doorstep, news of his upcoming nuptials is leaked to the media, and his record company levels demands that challenge his integrity as an artist and as a person. The foundation of Grady’s new life begins to crumble, and fast. Will he be forced to make the ultimate choice between a private life with Nico and the public demands of his career?

BLENDED NOTES ~ EXCERPT

Have you ever had a moment when you looked at someone and the whole world disappeared?

* * *

Grady’s earliest memory of his mother is watching her leave. It wasn’t the first time she dropped him off at Memaw and Granddaddy’s house, and the remembered moment itself is unremarkable: He’s standing by the road; a cloud of dirt from the driveway into the trailer park lingers hazily in the air; he can see the taillights of her car lit red at the stop sign. The right one blinks a signal, the car turns, and she’s gone. Memaw came to collect him soon after, and he doesn’t recall what he did next—whatever rambunctious five-year-old boys like to do. Maybe he got on his bike and tore around the neighborhood, training wheels be damned. Or maybe he found a squirrel to harass with a makeshift slingshot of forked stick and rubber band. Maybe Memaw plunked him down in front of their old jumpy television.

Sit down for five seconds, Grady. Land’s sake! she’d say, with a look rather similar to the one Nico has when Grady comes around to the aisle where Nico is browsing for home decor. Grady had wandered off when he spotted an old gramophone on display.

“There you are.”

“Here I am,” Grady confirms, dropping a kiss onto Nico’s cheek. Nico leans into him with an easy, comfortable affection that grounds Grady, makes him feel wanted and safe. Grady takes a clear glass bottle from the shelf filled with clear glass bottles of all shapes and sizes and colors and asks, “Do we need apothecary jars?” The label on the jar reads: Green Pain Pills.

Nico takes the jar and turns, holding it up so it catches the sunlight streaming through the plate glass windows in the front of the boutique. “I mean, we don’t not need apothecary jars.” He tips his head and narrows his eyes, assessing the jar before putting it back on the shelf. Nico is determined to fill their new home with things that represent them; it’s sweet, but, for Grady, unnecessary. Nico expresses himself visually: his clothes, his hair, the elegant yet assertive way he holds himself. Of course he’d want knickknacks and furniture and art that speak to the life they’re building together. For Grady, it’s less tangible, not a particular thing he could put on a shelf. It’s two toothbrushes in the holder, the sound of a familiar car pulling into the garage, the lingering scent of Nico’s cologne in their bed, the way Nico brushes a peck to Grady’s lips before he leaves: never a goodbye, always a see you later.

“Did you find something you wanted?” Nico moves on to a display of antique paperweights. One looks like a crystal ball.

“Oh, yeah.” Grady lifts his eyebrows and quirks his lips. Nico shakes his head at that, picks up the crystal ball paperweight, and passes it slowly from hand to hand. “I knew you were going to say that and yet—”

“And yet you still asked,” Grady finishes, teasing, “Why, I think you may even like it.”

Nico hums. He puts the paperweight back. “I suppose I must, considering that I am marry—” He snaps his mouth shut, then glances around to be sure no one overheard him. They’re alone in the store, but still Nico mouths the end of that sentence: “Marrying you.

And, lord, but does that thrill Grady to his bones, silent or spoken or acted out with charades. He’s marrying Nico, they’re getting married, he and Nico are marrying each other. Grady can tell his own smile is goofy, and Nico has one to match. In the quiet corner of this very unusual store, they can be openly giddy—for a moment.

* * *

Blended Notes, the final installment of Lilah Suzanne’s the Spotlight Series will be published by Interlude Press on August 17, 2017.  Connect with the author at lilahsuzanne.com; on Twitter @lilahsuzanne; and on Facebook at facebook.com/lilahsuzanne.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lilah Suzanne has been writing actively since the sixth grade, when a literary magazine published her essay about an uncle who lost his life to AIDS. A freelance writer from North Carolina, she spends most of her time behind a computer screen, but on the rare occasion she ventures outside she enjoys museums, libraries, live concerts, and quiet walks in the woods. Lilah is the author of the Interlude Press books Spice, Pivot and Slip, Broken Records, and Burning Tracks.

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A Stella Review: After the Sunset by Lilah Suzanne

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RATING 2,75 out of 5 stars

Caleb Harris and Ty Smith-Santos are struggling actors who have never crossed paths until their lives take a turn for the bizarre when they learn that a farm in Sunset Hollow, Washington has been bequeathed to both of them. Intent on selling the property, Caleb and Ty clear out the cluttered farmhouse, but soon find themselves falling for the charming farm nestled between two misty-topped mountains, the lonely man who left it to them, and each other. When a real estate developer offers them a hefty payout, will they take the money and run or keep the farm and their budding relationship?

After the Sunset was my first book by Lilah Suzanne, I was very curious about this author, I know her Spotlight series is well loved. So I jumped at the chance at reading this new novella and I was so ready for something amazing that the letdown I instead received was more delusional.

After the Sunset wasn’t a winner at all, it din’t satisfy me, on the contrary I found myself at the end of the book to be still interested in the characters lives because the author didn’t give me enough of them. I picked the book because I found the blurb interesting and although I loved the premises and the plot,  the sweetness and the setting,  IMO the development wasn’t okay.

First of all I didn’t like how the book was written, the present tense didn’t work really well in this case, it made the reading hard to follow to me, but this is just a preference of mine that led me to not enjoy it completely. The story was strangely developed, some scenes were well represented and explained, others were rushed and puzzling. Like the ending, so unexpected, too rushed, I was actually left speechless and not in a good way. That’s the reason I couldn’t give the book not even the three stars.

I have to be honest, at one point I didn’t even understand anymore what really happened to Ty and Caleb, were they together? Still living at the farm? Was there ever a HEA? I don’t know and I can’t even blame the length of the story because one hundred pages are plenty to create a believable and well done novella.

And then I wanted to know more about Ezra and Hugh and what I got wasn’t enough. Nonethless, they stole the scenes, simply because Ty and Caleb weren’t able to catch my attention.

After the Sunset stops at 2,5 stars to me, but I’m still interested in this author works. I put her books on my to-be-read shelf and I’ll give them a chance again.

The cover art is cute and well done, I love it.

Sales Links:  Interlude Press |  Amazon

BOOK DETAILS

Kindle Edition, 94 pages

Published July 6th 2017 by Interlude Press

ASIN B0725QYGHQ

Edition Language English

In the Spotlight: Burning Tracks (Spotlight Series #2) by Lilah Suzanne (author blog, excerpt and giveaway)

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Burning Tracks 900px FRONT (Tumblr)

Burning Tracks (Spotlight Series #2) by Lilah Suzanne
Can be read as a standalone
Release Date: August 11, 2016

Goodreads Link
Publisher: Interlude Press
Cover Artist: Victoria S.

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words has invited Lilah Suzanne here today to share a little bit about herself with our readers.  Welcome, Lilah. Describe your favorite rainy day activity.

I love the smell of petrichor right before rain, and I do love a good rainy day, but I lived in Seattle for a while and I have to say, the constant rain got old pretty fast. So, depending on how many days it’s been raining, my favorite rainy day activity ranges from watching movies and reading books, to getting increasingly annoyed and desperate for sunshine. The thing about rainy days in Seattle is that you can’t get cozy and wait it out or you’ll never leave the house. Even though I’m in North Carolina again, I still sometimes have the Seattle mentality of dealing with rain: suck it up and carry on as usual, or a slightly grumpier than usual.

I’ll share one of my favorite rainy day memories also:

I lived in Florida until I was eight, when we moved to North Carolina. And in the summer of North Carolina or the eternal summer of Florida, my siblings and I loved going out and playing in the rain. We’d put on our swimsuits and grab buckets and jump in puddles and have a blast. Our favorite though, was when it would rain when we were swimming in our grandparent’s pool. I don’t know why it was so exciting to get rained on when were already wet, but it just felt magical somehow, this intermingling of rain and pool water and breaking sensibility to play out in it.

On one of our last family vacations before we all grew up and moved away and got married and had kids and all that was a trip to New Orleans, staying in the French Quarter in this old hotel in an even older building with very few windows and thick walls and narrow, twisting hallways. Our room was on the first floor in a courtyard with a pool in the center. Usually we were out and about seeing the sights (two out of four of us were old enough to see the nighttime sights) but one day it rained all day. Bored and listless, we all decided to go swimming in the rain. We have a picture, and it’s one of my absolute favorites, the four of us in the pool, the rain just pouring on us. It looks magical. And even though we were all teenagers and young adults, it felt just as magical as it used it.

Thank you, Lilah!  Now more about Burning Tracks by Lilah Suzanne.

Blurb

In the sequel to Broken Records, Gwen Pasternak has it all: a job she loves as a celebrity stylist and a beautiful wife, Flora. But as her excitement in working with country music superstar Clementine Campbell grows, Gwen second-guesses her quiet domestic bliss. Meanwhile, her business partner, Nico Takahashi and his partner, reformed bad-boy musician Grady Dawson, face uncertainties of their own.

 

Pages or Words: 224 pages, 62,000 words
Categories: Contemporary, Fiction, Lesbian Romance, Romance Rom-Com

 

Excerpt

“There’s a reason you two aren’t allowed to hang out alone.” Arms crossed, one impeccable eyebrow raised, lips twisted, hair artfully tousled, and dressed to the nines: Alexander Wang black-on-black tropical-printed board shorts, a slim fit black-and-white chino and matching black lapel jacket, black boots, and a black and white scarf to tie it all together. “Nico,” Gwen says.

“Nico?” Grady is up in a flash. “You came?”

Nico’s face softens into his Grady look. “Of course I came. Did you really think you were getting rid of me that easily?” Grady comes closer, and Nico brushes a spiraled lock of hair from his face. “I’m sorry it took me so long. There were storms over Dallas, and I got stuck on the tarmac with a dead phone. I barely made my connection, and the clusterfuck of morons known as the United gate at JFK could not get its shit together, and I may be banned outright from Charlotte-Douglas International, can you believe they flag you as a security risk and hold you in a room with no phone signal or Wi-Fi just for threatening one person with shoving that goddam intercom up their—” He opens his arms for Grady; his look of annoyance slips away the moment they touch. “Anyway, I’m here.”

Grady sighs, crowds into Nico’s space, and tucks himself into Nico’s body. Much better, a perfect fit. “God, I love you.”

“I love you, too.” Nico sinks one hand into his hair, strokes the nape of his neck with other, breathes him in, and closes his eyes. “I’m so sorry. About the apartment and taking off and not being here yesterday, I tried to so hard to make it because I know how difficult it is for you. You shouldn’t have been alone.”

Grady sniffs and holds him tighter. “It’s okay. We’re okay. I’m sorry, too.”

Still ensnared in the sheets and duvet and barely awake, Gwen presses her hands to her cheeks and awws. “You guys,” she coos.

Grady lifts his head from Nico’s neck to smile at Gwen. “I wasn’t alone, though.”

“Mmm” Nico says. “And how much trouble did she get you into?”

None,” Gwen says, defensive. Here she kept Grady safe and sound, searched all over Nashville and Las Vegas while he was off burying himself in work and what thanks does she get? None.

But then Grady smirks and says, “Kind of a lot.”

“Grady.” Gwen throws a pillow at him. “You’re such a tattletale, gosh.”

He bends to whisper something in Nico’s ear, and Gwen doesn’t miss the way his lips drag and linger on the shell of it, or the way Nico’s breath catches and his eyes roll back. When Nico lifts Grady’s shirt and traces around the tattoos with reverent fingers, Gwen takes that as her cue to extricate herself from the bed, put on some pants and a bra, and go fetch her luggage.

“‘Kay you guys have fun and make sure to change the sheets when you’re finished.”

“Wait.” Nico tugs Grady’s shirt down. Then he goes to the case he always has nearby. “You have trouble of your own, Gwen. Thought you might want to know about this.”

Gwen catches the magazine and folded-up papers he tosses her way: screen grabs from a few entertainment websites printed out in black and white.

Is This Clementine Campbell’s Girlfriend? Our source says, “It wouldn’t surprise me.”

Clementine and Gal Pal Definitely More Than Pals Sunning On Vegas Pool Deck.

Our exclusive source and close confidant of both says: Clementine’s married girlfriend “would cheat for sure. She was always touching her. There’s been an energy between them from the very beginning.”

There are pictures: her rubbing sunscreen on Clementine’s bare back, which looks far steamier in a fuzzy long-range picture than it actually was; a picture of them from the back at the store in the Venetian with their hands clasped and Clementine curled in close and her lips on Gwen’s cheek; and most damning of all, grinding together at the VIP club at the Bellagio just last night.

“I don’t—” Frantic and confused, she flaps the magazine and printouts in the air. “What is this? This isn’t— Nico, I didn’t, I swear.

Nico holds both hands up. “Hey, I am well aware of the slander of tabloids. I get it.” He gives her a sympathetic look. “I’m just not sure Flora is going to.”

 

 

Buy the book:
Interlude Press: http://store.interludepress.com/collections/burning-tracks-by-lilah-suzanne

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2b9OekC

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/burning-tracks-lilah-suzanne/1123818262?ean=9781941530993

Apple iBookstore: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/burning-tracks/id1114833507?mt=11

All Romance eBooks: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-burningtracks-2058729-149.html ?referrer=55feb862851f8

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/637139

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/burning-tracks-book-two-spotlight-series

Indiebound: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9781941530993&aff=interludepress

Book Depository: http://www.bookdepository.com/Burning-Tracks-Lilah-Suzanne/9781941530993/?a_aid=InterludePress

 

 

Meet the author:

 

Lilah Suzanne has been writing actively since the sixth grade, when a literary magazine published her essay about an uncle who lost his life to AIDS. A freelance writer, she has also authored a children’s book and has a devoted following in the fan fiction community. She is also the author of the Interlude Press books Spice, Pivot and Slip, and Broken Records, which was named a Top Pick by RT Book Reviews Magazine.

 

 

Where to find the author:


Tour Dates & Stops:

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12-Aug: BFD Book Blog, Unquietly Me, The Novel Approach

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16-Aug: Book Reviews and More by Kathy, Alpha Book Club, Bayou Book Junkie

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18-Aug: Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Kirsty Loves Books, Bonkers About Books

19-Aug: V’s Reads, My Fiction Nook, Happily Ever Chapter

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Coffee Sip and Book Break: Broken Record by Lilah Suzanne (author interview, excerpt and giveaway)

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Broken Records (Spotlight #1) by Lilah Suzanne
Release Date: December 17, 2015

Goodreads Link
Publisher: Interlude Press
Cover Artist: Victoria S. with CB Messer

Today Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to be interviewing Lilah Suzanne, author of Broken Records. Hi, Lilah, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Share a little about yourself, your background, and your current book with our readers.

  • What are your ambitions for your writing career?  I’d like to have a large catalogue of work. I don’t need a bestseller, I’d be content with a long, steady career. (Not that I would be sad at a bestseller, mind you!)
  • How many published books do you have? Can you tell us something about them? This is my third published romance book. The first is Pivot and Slip, a novella about a boxer and a former-swimmer/current yoga instructor who fall for each other. The second, Spice, is about a relationship and sex advice columnist who has trouble with taking his own advice, until he meets a cute IT specialist who fixes up him and his computer.
  • Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special? Nico is shrewd and cool, and focused on his career, not his personal life. It was interesting for me to not write a character who is a hopeless romantic for once, as my other main characters have been, and instead someone who is really out of his depth with these very strong feelings he’s having for Grady.
  • What are you working on at the moment? What’s it about? Broken Records is the first in a series, so I’m working on the second book in that series right now. It’s called Burning Tracks and focuses on Nico’s assistant Gwen, and of course we get to see what Nico and Grady are up to as well.
  • Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day? I aim for at least a chapter, maybe two, so however many words or pages it needs to be is what I’m hoping for. But some days real life takes over, or I just need time to steep on something. I’m not a “write everyday or else” type, but I do try to sit down and do something, even if it’s just stewing over a spot I’m stuck on.

Thank you, Lilah, that was wonderful, and now more about Broken Records, the first in a new series.

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Blurb:

Los Angeles-based stylist Nico Takahashi loves his job—or at least, he used to. Feeling fed up and exhausted from the cutthroat, gossip-fueled business of Hollywood, Nico daydreams about packing it all in and leaving for good. So when Grady Dawson—sexy country music star and rumored playboy—asks Nico to style him, Nico is reluctant. But after styling a career-changing photo-shoot, Nico follows Grady to Nashville where he finds it increasingly difficult to resist Grady’s charms. Can Nico make peace with show business and all its trappings, or will Grady’s public persona get in the way of their private attraction to each other?

 

Pages or Words: 280 pages
Categories: Bisexual, Contemporary, Fiction, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance, Romance

Excerpt

Grady presses his lips flat, looks up at the ceiling again to gather himself, sniffs and nods, then tugs Nico’s foot closer by his ankle. “Do you think… If we’d met at a bar. Or through a friend of a friend. Or the gym.” Grady’s thumb strokes the tender skin of Nico’s calf beneath the hem of his pants. “If we had just been two regular guys? We really could have been something.”

There’s a question in his voice, a hesitancy that maybe Nico would have rejected him eventually anyway. Nico scoots across the cramped bunk, crowds against Grady, shoulder to shoulder. “Well, we never would have met at the gym because I would have taken one look at you and gone home to mourn the body I’ll never have by consuming gallons of ice cream.”

Grady bumps his shoulder. “Shut up, you’re gorgeous.” He tips his head against the wall and grins. “If I’d first seen you at a bar I probably would have humiliated myself by trying to win you over with bad karaoke and shameless flirting.”

Nico’s eyebrows raise. “You mean to tell me you’ve been holding back on me? You have a level of flirting that’s even more shameless?”

“Oh yeah. You ain’t seen nothin’, sweetheart.”

“That is truly terrifying.”

Grady laughs, bright and uninhibited. Nico is so relieved to hear it, a moment of light in the darkness. Grady’s hand rests on Nico’s knee, Nico watches his own hand brush his fingers there, but he doesn’t linger.

“We aren’t, though. Just two random guys.”

Grady’s fingers flex, curving over his kneecap. “No.”

Nico exhales harshly. “I have never wanted to be a groupie so badly.”

Grady shoves at his leg. “Come on, you didn’t really think that I would do that to you—”

“In my weaker, more insecure moments?” Nico scrunches his face, embarrassed. “Yeah, I did.”

“You think that little of me, huh?” He says it with a teasing grin, but Nico’s heart sinks.

“No, Grady. I think you’re…” A million adjectives flash through his head: beautiful, amazing, stunning, compassionate, kind, generous. A supernova. He settles on, “Really special.”

Grady gives a skeptical lift of his eyebrows. “Uh oh. I’m really special, huh?”

“I’m so, so into you and it’s…” He cringes at the words but it’s true, “It’s not you, it’s me.”

“Oh lord.” Grady laments with a laugh. “Not that, please.”

“I’m the guy on the sidelines. I’m the one who makes everyone else shine. I don’t belong there, in the spotlight. I like that at the end of the day I can go home and just walk away from the cameras and the red carpets and the scrutiny. And you—you’re a star. And you can have anyone.”

Grady turns, the cramped space of the bunk making his limbs bump and nudge and curl around Nico’s body. During Grady’s shows, in the moment just before he starts singing the opening line of “Broken Records,” there’s this pause, this moment suspended in the air when the audience is silent and waiting and doesn’t even dare to inhale because in that moment, Grady’s soul is laid bare. He looks at Nico just like that and Nico can’t breathe around it.

“I don’t want anyone,” he says, voice low and serious. “I want you. How do you not get that?”

Buy the book: Links coming on release day

 

 

 

Meet the author:

Lilah Suzanne has been writing actively since the sixth grade, when a literary magazine published her essay about an uncle who lost his life to AIDS. A freelance writer, she has also authored a children’s book and has a devoted following in the fan fiction community. She is also the author of Interlude Press books Spice and Pivot and Slip. Broken Records is Book One in Lilah’s Spotlight Series.

Where to find the author:

Facebook: Facebook.com/lilahsuzanne

Twitter: @lilahsuzanne

 

 

Tour Dates & Stops:

17-Dec: Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Hearts on Fire, Cheekypee Reads and Reviews, Dawn’s Reading Nook, Velvet Panic, Michael Mandrake, Mikky’s World of Books

18-Dec: My Fiction Nook, Elisa – My Reviews and Ramblings, All I Want and More Books, Nautical Star Books, Havan Fellows

21-Dec: Prism Book Alliance, It’s Raining Men, V’s Reads, Bayou Book Junkie

22-Dec: Books A to Z, Wake Up Your Wild Side, Cathy Brockman Romances, MM Good Book Reviews

23-Dec: Unquietly Me, Sassygirl Books, The Day Before You Came

24-Dec: Love Bytes, Lee Brazil, Happily Ever Chapter

25-Dec: Divine Magazine, Inked Rainbow Reads

28-Dec: QUEERcentric Books, Alpha Book Club, TTC Books and More

29-Dec: BFD Book Blog, Book Reviews, Rants, and Raves, : Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews

30-Dec: Jessie G. Books, Molly Lolly, Just Love Romance, Moonbeams Over Atlanta

Final

 

Giveaway

Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: $25 Interlude Press Web Store Gift card plus five multi-format eBooks to runners-up.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.  Link and prizes provided by the author and Pride Promotions.

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In Our Spotlight: Lilah Suzanne’s Spice (author interview/contest)

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spotlight on books Spice by Lilah Suzanne
Release Date: April 2, 2015
Goodreads Link 

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About Author Lilah Suzanne

Lilah Suzanne has been writing actively since the sixth grade, when a literary magazine published her essay about an uncle who lost his life to AIDS. A freelance writer, she also authored a children’s book and has a devoted following in the online fan community.

Where to find the author:
Website: http://www.lilahsuzanne.com
Facebook: Lilah Suzanne
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/lilahsuzanne
Twitter: @lilahsuzanne
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/lilahsuzanne/

Publisher: Interlude Press
Cover Artist: Cover Art by Gladys Garcia;
Book Design by BuckeyeGrrl Designs

Sales Links:        Interlude Press Web Store     AmazonSpice 4x6x COVER-Front-1

Spice Synopsis:

As writer of the popular “Ask Eros” advice column, Simon Beck has an answer to every relationship question his readers can throw at him. When it comes to his own life, the answers are a little more elusive—until computer troubles introduce him to the newest and cutest member of his company’s IT support team. Simon may be charmed by Benji’s sweet and unassuming manner, but will he find the answer to the one relationship question he has never been able to solve: how to know when he’s met Mr. Right?
Categories: Contemporary, Fiction, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance, Rom-Com

Excerpt:

“How about you? Did you always want to be a writer?”

“Yeah. I think I did.” He finally gives up on work completely and closes the laptop. “I mean. I guess what I write about is kind of pointless, but I wanted to be a poet once upon a time, so I guess it could be even more pointless,” he jokes.

Benji’s eyebrows knot. “It’s not. Why would it be pointless?”

Simon gives a humorless laugh. “I mean, I write a sex column for women. Not exactly moving prose or hard-hitting journalism.”

Benji scoots over little on the desk, sitting with his legs so close to where Simon is sitting low in his chair that he can smell Benji’s crisp laundry detergent and citrusy soap. He suddenly has to fight the urge to move a fraction to the left, press his nose to the inside seam of Benji’s jeans and breathe him in.

“You listen to people. You remind them that they’re valuable and worthy of love and respect. How is that not important?” Simon is struck speechless, chest tight and breath caught. Then Benji claps him on the shoulder and hops off the desk. “Come on. Let’s go have lunch.”

Pages or Words: 228 Pages

SpiceBadgeContest:  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.  Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: Grand Prize: $25 Interlude Press Gift Card; Multi-Format eBook Copies of Spice to Five Winners.

Rafflecopter Code:
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Tour Dates & Stops:

2-Apr

The Novel Approach

The Hat Party

Because Two Men Are Better Than One

3-Apr

Multitasking Mommas

Bayou Book Junkie

MM Good Book Reviews

6-Apr

Hearts on Fire

The Blogger Girls

Love Bytes

7-Apr

Michael Mandrake

Inked Rainbow Reads

8-Apr

Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews

Bike Book Reviews

9-Apr

It’s Raining Men

Parker Williams

10-Apr

Kimi-Chan

My Fiction Nook

13-Apr

Velvet Panic

BFD Book Blog

14-Apr

Cate Ashwood

Cathy Brockman Romances

Book Reviews, Rants, and Raves

Amanda C. Stone

15-Apr

Molly Lolly

Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words