DJ Jamison on Five wedding traditions that Appear in Surprise Groom (Marital Bliss #1) (guest blog and giveaway)

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Five wedding traditions that make an appearance in Surprise Groom

When I first came up with the idea for my release, Surprise Groom — Book 1 of a new series called Marital Bliss — I didn’t realize just how much “wedding planning” I’d be taking on! But where there are weddings, there are wedding traditions. Here are five that make an appearance in the book. Keep in mind, Surprise Groom takes place on a wedding resort, so there are plenty of weddings to go around!

The bouquet toss!

Watch out. Those flowers don’t always end up where intended! Or maybe they do? You’ll have to read Surprise Groom to find out.

Toasts, so many toasts!

Don’t ask me why, but even when writing the toasts myself, I get all misty-eyed. I think they’re even better in fiction than real life. There’s just something so moving about someone sharing what’s in their heart with a room of full of people. Maybe I should start a tradition of holding toasts at my own family dinners!

Something borrowed…

And sometimes something lost. Caleb has mastered the skill of soothing panicky brides and grooms, though, so don’t worry.

Wedding favors!

And sometimes a whole lot of ribbons to tie around them. But hey, if you do it with the right partner, it can be fun. Maybe? Sometimes? Caleb and Julien thought so. Or maybe they just enjoyed what they did before tying those knots 😉

Wedding photos!

Gazebos bedecked with flower petals, burbling fountains, beaches with ocean views, horse stables, courtyards with gardens designed to bloom year-round. There’s no shortage of photo opportunities on Bliss Island.

I have at least three more books to write in this series, and many more wedding traditions to tackle! What’s your favorite tradition in a wedding/reception?


Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Universal LinkExclusive to Amazon and Available to Borrow with Kindle Unlimited
 
Length: 89,000 words approx.
 
Cover Design: Garrett Leigh @ Black Jazz Design
 
Blurb
 

Can two men fake their way to marital bliss?


Caleb Taylor is shocked to learn his family could lose Bliss Island Resort — their home and livelihood — unless he makes use of a clause to marry the child of investor Louis Chastain. Sofia Chastain is more like a sister than a love interest, and Caleb isn’t ready to sign over his future. But Sofia has a brother, and Caleb has a plan …


Julien Chastain was disowned at fifteen and has made a life as a go-go dancer in Miami, but he lives paycheck to paycheck. When his childhood friend proposes an outlandish marriage contract, he thinks he’s crazy. But it’s a chance at a future that’s tough to pass up.


Caleb and Julien must present themselves as an authentic couple for the legal loophole to work, but the lines between “fake” and “real” keep shifting as they navigate intimacy, public scrutiny, and sabotage.


Love isn’t part of the plan, but plans change. If they can outsmart Julien’s father and prove their love is worth more than a transaction, they just might find a true happily-ever-after.

Author Bio
 

DJ Jamison is the author of more than a dozen m/m romances, including the Ashe Sentinel series and the Hearts and Health series. She writes a variety of queer characters, from gay to bisexual to asexual, with a focus on telling love stories that are more about common ground than lust at first sight. DJ grew up in the Midwest in a working-class family, and those influences can be found in her writing through characters coping with real-life problems: money troubles, workplace drama, family conflicts and, of course, falling in love. DJ spent more than a decade in the newspaper industry before chasing her first dream to write fiction. She spent a lifetime reading before that, and continues to avidly devour her fellow authors’ books each night. She lives in Kansas with her husband, two sons, two fish and, regrettably, one snake.

 

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A MelanieM Review: Surprise Groom (Marital Bliss #1) by D.J. Jamison

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Can two men fake their way to marital bliss?

Caleb Taylor is shocked to learn his family could lose Bliss Island Resort — their home and livelihood — unless he makes use of a clause to marry the child of investor Louis Chastain. Sofia Chastain is more like a sister than a love interest, and Caleb isn’t ready to sign over his future. But Sofia has a brother, and Caleb has a plan …

Julien Chastain was disowned at fifteen and has made a life as a go-go dancer in Miami, but he lives paycheck to paycheck. When his childhood friend proposes an outlandish marriage contract, he thinks he’s crazy. But it’s a chance at a future that’s tough to pass up.

Caleb and Julien must present themselves as an authentic couple for the legal loophole to work, but the lines between “fake” and “real” keep shifting as they navigate intimacy, public scrutiny, and sabotage.

Love isn’t part of the plan, but plans change. If they can outsmart Julien’s father and prove their love is worth more than a transaction, they just might find a true happily-ever-after.

I’m really very fond of the “fake marriage” trope, eager to see how each author gives this familiar theme their own twist. Surprise Groom (Marital Bliss #1) by D.J. Jamison delivers a delightful contemporary romance within this well known framework, one that kept me entertained and connected right up until the end.

Unlike some of the other stories, Jamison gave both men  a connected past which made their reunion and rising feelings, or perhaps buried feelings much more authentic.  They understood each other even while relearning the adult version of the other person that they were faced with now.  Jamison delivers now only great characters but realistic situations, beautiful locations such as Bliss Island which is based on an actual place.

I am not a fan of the tired tag “Gay For You” which implies a choice in sexuality, or that a character “turned” the other one gay. Please.  So I was happy to see Caleb working through his feelings and realizing that he’s actually bisexual, a far more realistic and positive portrait.  In fact, Caleb and Julian’s relationship is based on growth and trust, which I appreciated, given the backgrounds of one and the situation in which their reunion is launched.

All the characters here were so well drawn out that you enjoyed spending time with each and every one, whether it was the dancers at the club in Miami to the extended family of friends at the Bliss Island resort.  They were all people you wanted to get to know better and I am thrilled this is becoming a series.  I’m not sure if it’s couples coming to the island or more of Caleb and Julian or both.  Either way I will be waiting for the next installment to drop.

Surprise Groom (Marital Bliss #1) by D.J. Jamison really had everything I love in a contemporary romance.  Well written, a trope I love, men reuniting with a past history and given a chance at love and HEA in a drop dead gorgeous location!  Yes, I am absolutely recommending this!  I think you’ll love it as much as I do.

Cover art: Garrett Leigh at Black Jazz Design.  Not a fan of the cover.  No real elements from the story, just a model. Disappointing.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Universal LinkExclusive to Amazon and Available to Borrow with Kindle Unlimited

Book Details:

Kindle Edition
Published May 16th 2019

Release Blitz for Surprise Groom (Marital Bliss #1) by DJ Jamison (excerpt and giveaway)

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Universal LinkExclusive to Amazon and Available to Borrow with Kindle Unlimited
 
Length: 89,000 words approx.
 
Cover Design: Garrett Leigh @ Black Jazz Design
 
Blurb
 

Can two men fake their way to marital bliss?


Caleb Taylor is shocked to learn his family could lose Bliss Island Resort — their home and livelihood — unless he makes use of a clause to marry the child of investor Louis Chastain. Sofia Chastain is more like a sister than a love interest, and Caleb isn’t ready to sign over his future. But Sofia has a brother, and Caleb has a plan …


Julien Chastain was disowned at fifteen and has made a life as a go-go dancer in Miami, but he lives paycheck to paycheck. When his childhood friend proposes an outlandish marriage contract, he thinks he’s crazy. But it’s a chance at a future that’s tough to pass up.


Caleb and Julien must present themselves as an authentic couple for the legal loophole to work, but the lines between “fake” and “real” keep shifting as they navigate intimacy, public scrutiny, and sabotage.


Love isn’t part of the plan, but plans change. If they can outsmart Julien’s father and prove their love is worth more than a transaction, they just might find a true happily-ever-after.

 
Excerpt
 

“Should we kiss?” Caleb asked.


Julien gave him an arch look. “My answer to that question is always yes.”


Caleb chuckled awkwardly. “For the selfie, I meant.”


“Mm-hmm.” Julien managed to make skeptical sound sexy.


“Okay, shut up and put your lips on mine,” Caleb said.


“Oh, baby. Your dirty talk is off the charts.”


Caleb laughed. “Stop, I’m trying—”


Julien caught his mouth mid-word, shifting toward him as their lips clung. The feeling it evoked caught Caleb off-guard. They’d been joking around like friends, but the kiss didn’t feel friendly. It wasn’t erotic. No tongues plunging deep. But it was sweet. He had no idea kissing another man could feel that way.


In contrast to his soft lips, Julien’s hard chest pressed against Caleb’s shoulder. His right arm was behind Caleb, fingers brushing his neck, and his left hand slid down to just over Caleb’s upper chest. Their position was a little awkward, Caleb’s neck craned to the left, and he had his right arm outstretched for the selfie.


The kiss wasn’t getting his entire focus as he fumbled with the phone in his hand. Even with his attention divided, even with the very un-sexy circumstances of why they were doing this, the kiss felt real. Just as real as any he’d shared with a girlfriend. Maybe even more so. Julien had been the most important person in his life once. He couldn’t say the same for any of his short-lived girlfriends.


It took only seconds to break through Caleb’s self-delusion. His surety he wasn’t into men that way. He liked Julien’s lips on his.


Julien shifted, then slipped, and they were ripped apart by gravity as he nearly faceplanted in Caleb’s lap.


“Whoa!” Caleb said, catching Julien’s shoulder with one hand. “Trying for second base already? Or is that third? Not sure with guys.”


“I slipped! I had my arm braced behind you, and the pillow moved, or—”


“Suuure,” Caleb said. “I bet you say that to all the guys, huh?”


Julien pushed himself upright, his hand leaving a brand of warmth on Caleb’s thigh, before he pulled away. Grabbing the pillow behind his head, he smacked Caleb in the head. “Asshole.”


When Caleb finally stopped laughing, he noticed Julien didn’t look amused.


“I was kidding. I’m sure you’re much smoother when you’re actually trying to put the moves on someone.”


Julien flipped him off. “That picture better be worth it.”

 
Author Bio
 

DJ Jamison is the author of more than a dozen m/m romances, including the Ashe Sentinel series and the Hearts and Health series. She writes a variety of queer characters, from gay to bisexual to asexual, with a focus on telling love stories that are more about common ground than lust at first sight. DJ grew up in the Midwest in a working-class family, and those influences can be found in her writing through characters coping with real-life problems: money troubles, workplace drama, family conflicts and, of course, falling in love. DJ spent more than a decade in the newspaper industry before chasing her first dream to write fiction. She spent a lifetime reading before that, and continues to avidly devour her fellow authors’ books each night. She lives in Kansas with her husband, two sons, two fish and, regrettably, one snake.

 

 

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A MelanieM Review: The Husband Gambit by L.A. Witt

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

 

Marry me for 1 year. Payment: $1.2 million.

Hayden Somerset is convinced the ad is a joke, but he responds anyway because, hello, $1.2 million. He’s broke, living in a tiny apartment with two roommates, and exhausted from praying his ancient car survives just one more week. His skyrocketing rent and crushing student loans aren’t helping either. At this point, there isn’t much Hayden wouldn’t do for that kind of cash.

The ad isn’t a joke. Jesse Ambrose is absolutely serious. His father, the charismatic patriarch of a powerful Hollywood dynasty, has his eye on politics, and he’s counting on California’s liberals and progressives to elect him. But Jesse knows what his father believes when cameras and voters aren’t around. As the election looms, he’ll do anything to force the man’s hand and show the public who Isaac Ambrose really is.

Anything, including marrying a stranger so his father will make good on his promise to disown Jesse if he ever takes a husband.

Now he just has to wait for his father to take the bait… and try not to accidentally fall in love with his fake husband.

The fake marriage/rent a spouse theme is a popular trope in romance whether it be het or LGBT, contemporary or historic.  So I’m always interested in how a author can give it their own twist, freshen it up a bit.  The usual path is the the one main character needs to be married in order to collect own their inheritance/title/mega billions. So I was appreciative of the fact that LA Witt took the opposite direction in The Husband Gambit.

Here Jesse Ambrose is using it to foil his toxic father’s political ambitions by forcing his father to reveal his own hatred of his son and the LGBT community by this act.  The ploy sounds simplistic but Witt makes it anything but with the creation of a dynasty so foul, complex, and brutal to it’s young that you bleed for them. You get involved in their lives through the character of Jesse, a decent human being brought up entirely too rich but with wonderful instincts about right and wrong.  The ad he places leads him to the wonderful Hayden Somerset, poor, highly educated actor, on the edge of making a $20 decision between groceries and gas.

Both men are terrific.  The characters come across as real, layered with personal baggage, family problems, and personalities that would  appear different and yet, both endearing in  ways that the reader can connect with.  Witt balances the drama the naturally springs up around them because of the plans to take down Jesse’s father causes increasing amounts of deceptions and the ones they must confront between themselves when each realizes their feelings for each other is real.

Another element I thought was especially well done was the emotional impact of this entire “gambit” upon Jesse.  The cost isn’t frivolous, the loss of family (even this one) not taken lightly, and the increasing punch to the heart pain we see Jesse take throughout the story is something the reader will feel with him as well.  it’s realistic as is the manner in which he finally has to cope with it’s damage done to him.

The relationship and romance between the men is sexy, warm, and, well, everything you want in a romance.  Plus you will love so many of the secondary characters here including Hayden’s  roommates and Alex, Jesse’s younger brother.

In short, I loved this new take on an old trope.  It was refreshing, lovely, romantic, and a terrific read.  One I highly recommend.  Looking for a new contemporary romance ?  Look no further than The Husband Gambit by LA Witt.

Cover art: L.A. Witt.  I liked this cover.  Eye catching, bold, while it doesn’t convey that it’s a romance novel, it gets the feeling just right.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 489 pages
Published November 15th 2018
ASINB07K2ZDZDZ
Edition LanguageEnglish
Other Editions
None found

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Tall, Dark, and Deported by Bru Baker

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Crossing the border into love.

Snap decisions and misguided ideas bring Portuguese national Mateus Fontes and businessman Crawford Hargrave together at the Canadian border crossing.

Mateus is caught in a catch-22. With his almost-expired tourist visa, entrance to Canada is denied, but the US won’t let him back in either. Crawford thinks he’s solved things when he tells the border agent they’re engaged, and it works—except now they have to actually get married before either of them can get back into the United States. But Crawford has been burned by marriage once, and he’s determined not to make that mistake again.

Neither of them expects real feelings to bloom out of their fake marriage, but they do. And the two of them have to learn how to be honest with each other to make things work, which is especially hard when their entire marriage is based on lies.

 

In Tall, Dark, and Deported author Bru Baker takes that old trope of the fake marriage and makes something wonderful and real.  I’ve read countless stories that use this old great workhorse of a theme but few make it past the cute and fluffy.  Which is fine, don’t get me wrong, I adore those stories too.  But I love it when a writer takes it deeper, adds those layers and dimension to their characters, their situation and locations that make me sit up and pay more attention.  That happened here.

It starts with Mateus, his almost expired tourist visa and the vineyard/wine business he and his sibling (and her family) have back in the Northwest.  They’ve suffered setbacks, and now, because he let it slide in face of other issues, he’s got to take care of his visa.  The option he took?  Backfires in the most believable manner possible.  We will all be groaning there with him in full blown panic mode.  In a short amount of time, the author has let us get to know Mateus, find him so real and likable that we need to know he’s  going to be alright.  Then in comes Crawford.

Crawford is another man who’s easily accessible.  His first marriage to someone shallow and callous ended the way you might expect.  Unfortunately he didn’t see it coming and the result is a bitterness towards love and commitment.  But Baker lets us see Crawford as a kind, generous man, a little trampled on but with a big heart.  When these two connect, we want them to be together.

There are so many details here I loved.  One the fact that they could not just easily get married and poof, that was it.  No, there were rules and regulations to be followed.  Suspicions about their marriage on both sides of the border (no quickies marriages, thank you very much) so government agencies were brought in. That dose of reality was wonderful.  Loved Mateus’ family and town as well as the idea of exactly what Crawford did for a living.  It spiced up the story and gave a foundation for both the men and their relationship.

But it was their fumbling towards love and  HEA that made this story.  I believed absolutely in them and their feelings for each other.  The tenderness and the hot attraction, it was all there in the story. Tall, Dark, and Deported by Bru Baker is another wonderful Dreamspun Desire novel you won’t want to miss. I’m so glad I didn’t.  I highly recommend you pick it up and make your acquaintance with Mateus and Crawford today.

Cover Artist: Bree Archer.  Works for the character but the background is pretty nondescript. Eh.

Sales Links

Book Details:

ebook, 236 pages
Expected publication: April 1st 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1634776844 (ISBN13: 9781634776844)
Edition LanguageEnglish
settingVancouver, British Columbia (Canada)
Washington (United States)