Looking for Your Next Holiday Story? Check Out the Book Blitz with Excerpt for Pattern for an Angel by CJane Elliott

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Title: Pattern for an Angel

Author: CJane Elliott

Publisher: CJane Elliott

Release Date: December 1, 2019

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Male/NB

Length: 17,150

Genre: Romance, holiday, single dad, drag queen, contemporary, genderfluid, nonbinary, acceptance, family, angel, Christmas, chosen family, meet cute

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Synopsis

Can an angel gown for a little boy let a single dad and a drag queen stitch together a new pattern for love?

Hospice nurse Gabe Martin is bisexual but doesn’t have time for love—his main priority is raising Ian, his adopted five-year-old son. Ian loves wearing dresses at home and wants an angel gown for his kindergarten holiday pageant. When Gabe visits a sewing store to get help with Ian’s costume, he’s assisted by a bewitching employee named Loren who opens up Gabe’s focused world.

Drag queen Loren Schuster likes playing with gender norms and wearing skirts and dresses in everyday life. A bad breakup killed his interest in serious relationships, but he reconsiders that stance when gorgeous single dad Gabe walks into the shop. Loren helps young Ian see it’s okay to be himself, and together, Loren and Gabe create a new pattern for a family full of love.

Excerpt

Oh well, you win some, you lose some, Loren thought after he rang up her purchase. As he was replacing the purple-blue material on the shelf, the bell to the shop door tinkled. The store had been crazy busy, which was to be expected for the Friday after Thanksgiving. He turned. Now there’s someone I’d love to win.

The guy coming in the door was seriously hot—dark and lanky with a mouth made for kissing. He was being steered along by a gal, but they were enough alike to be siblings. Loren hoped. His mouth twitched at the expression on the guy’s face and his wide eyes. Safe to assume he’d never been in a sewing shop before.

Loren stepped out from behind the counter and remembered that he was wearing one of his favorite skirts when the guy’s gaze dropped. He braced himself for some negative reaction and was floored when the guy smiled happily and nudged his companion. She brightened.

“Oh, you’re perfect,” she exclaimed.

“I am? I mean, of course I am, but why?”

“We’re looking for a way to sew an angel dress for a little boy.”

“Aww. That’s wonderful.” Loren waited for Hot Guy to say something, but his smile was more than enough. “Do you have the pattern?”

“Oh. Yeah.” Hot Guy had a deep voice. Lovely. He got the pattern out of his bag and handed it over.

“Hmm. Yes.” Loren inspected it and nodded sagely. “This seems straightforward enough.”

“It does?” Hot Guy was even hotter with that hopeful expression.

The truth was, Loren was talking out of his ass. Mia was the expert, and this was her store. Loren enjoyed being around the fabrics and different materials, the buttons and the lace, because he loved playing dress up. But you could put what he knew about sewing into one thimble. However, Hot Guy and his girlfriend/partner/sister didn’t need to know that.

“The problem is,” the gal said, “neither of us know fuck-all about sewing. I still can’t believe Ian’s kindergarten expects the parents to sew these costumes. I mean, are we in the 1950s or what?”

“So this is for your little brother?” Loren asked.

“My son,” the guy said.

Huh. He didn’t look old enough to have a kindergarten-aged child. Bummer that Hot Guy was apparently married or whatever. But that was the story of Loren’s life.

Then the gal piped up. “Gabe adopted him last year. He’s a great kid.”

Sounded like they weren’t together if only Gabe adopted this kid. “Great. So you’re Gabe, and you’re…?”

“Nita. We’re sister and brother. Gabe’s a single dad.” Nita cut a significant glance at Gabe, who frowned back. Loren could relate. Sisters always loved to meddle in their siblings’ love lives.

“Hi, Gabe and Nita. I’m Loren. I’m sure we can help you figure out the sewing part. Let’s start with material.” Loren’s favorite. White satin was way more fun than drab paisley.

Ten minutes later, after a delicious wallow in all the permutations of white satin, they had the fabric. Gabe hadn’t offered many opinions about which material but had seemed amused by Loren’s and Nita’s many exclamations.

But when Loren confronted the rest of the pattern instructions, his head spun. Mia was usually here and helped folks with deciphering the patterns. Loren could only guess what some of it meant but did his best to pick out thread and other needed parts and assembled them on the counter.

“Well. This is everything.” Loren hoped. He started to ring up the items.

“Everything but a sewing machine. What do we do about that?” Nita asked.

“You can rent them. This seems a simple enough pattern.” Panic rose in their faces, and Loren quickly added, “Or, better yet, you can hire someone to sew the costume.”

“Could you?” Gabe asked, shooting a sudden intense glance in his direction.

Damn. Of course he could not. But something made Loren say, “Why, I’d love to!”

Life was getting interesting. Even if Loren had to learn to sew. By tomorrow. How hard could it be?

Purchase at Amazon

Meet the Author

After years of hearing characters chatting away in her head, CJane Elliott finally decided to put them on paper and hasn’t looked back since. A psychotherapist by training, CJane is an award-winning author whose sexy, passionate stories explore the human psyche. CJane has traveled all over North America for work and her characters are travelers, too, traveling down into their own depths to find what they need to get to the happy ending.

CJane is bisexual and an ardent supporter of LGBTQ equality. In her spare time, CJane can be found dancing, listening to music, or watching old movies. Her family supports her writing habit by staying out of the way when they see her hunched over, staring intensely at her laptop.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | eMail | Instagram

 

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Ready for a Holiday Treat? Check Out the New Release Blitz for Holiday Gridlock (Cruised #2) by Gretchen Evans (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: Holiday Gridlock

Series: Cruised, Book Two

Author: Gretchen Evans

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: November 11, 2019

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 18600

Genre: Contemporary Holiday, LGBT, contemporary, holiday, Christmas, age-gap, interracial

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Synopsis

Gabe is way too happy. Mark is as close to a perfect boyfriend as you can get. He’s smart, good-looking, successful, and he cares about Gabe. He’s also way more serious about their relationship than Gabe’s ready for. He wants them to move in together.

The closest Gabe’s ever gotten to living with a boyfriend is accidentally leaving his boxers behind. But he and Mark are way past that. It’s terrifying.

Mark invites Gabe home for the holidays where Gabe gets an intimate look at Mark’s family, his childhood, and how different their Christmas traditions are. It’s loud, overwhelming, messy, and…really nice. Homey in a way Gabe’s never experienced.

But Mark wants more than for Gabe to just have a peek at this part of his life. He wants Gabe to become part of the family, to go to bed with him every night, and wake up with him every morning. He wants all their Christmases to be together. Moving in may be just the start.

It might take a Christmas miracle for Gabe to figure himself out and overcome his fears. Or maybe a little familial intervention.

Will Gabe and Mark take the next step, or will they get stuck in holiday gridlock?

Excerpt

Holiday Gridlock
Gretchen Evans © 2019
All Rights Reserved

DECEMBER 17TH
Pressure squeezed Gabe’s sinuses like a vice. A vice might be too extreme. More like he’d walked into a wall repeatedly, and now his entire face ached.

He blew his nose for the hundredth time. It wasn’t much relief. The best he could do was snuggle deeper into the nest of blankets he’d assembled on his couch and pray for the sweet release of death.

The scratch of a key turning the old, cheap lock on his front door roused him. The light coming through the blinds had dimmed a lot, and the Netflix “Are you still watching?” glared at him from the TV. He must have dozed off watching Planet Earth. Thank God for Nyquil.

No point in getting up. Only one person had a key to his apartment: Mark. If it wasn’t Mark, that meant someone was picking his lock and planned to rob him. Good. They could take whatever they wanted as long as they took this damn cold too.

“Hello!” Mark called from the hall.

Gabe managed to sit up, sort of. “In here,” he called out, voice cracking.

Mark appeared in the living room doorway wearing a devastatingly handsome three-piece gray suit. Gabe was sick, not dead. He could appreciate his sexy his boyfriend in almost any state. Mark gripped a brown paper Whole Foods bag in his hand.

His boyfriend. It was a thrill to think about. How often did a gorgeous, successful man you met on a hookup app turn out to actually be gorgeous and successful? And then be as interested in you as you were in him? Their early days of hooking up in public bathrooms—and one memorable time, a parking lot—were behind them. But those were some nice memories.

They had gone from an awkward “hey, let’s try this” to practically living in each other’s back pockets in only a few months. Gabe hadn’t had many relationships and sometimes felt a little lost at sea. But when Mark was with him, that didn’t seem to matter.

Mark’s legs were long, and Gabe’s apartment was small, so it only took a couple steps for Mark to reach him. He dropped the groceries on the battered coffee table and bent to kiss the top of Gabe’s curls.

“How are you feeling?”

Gabe pulled himself up to sit a little higher. “Like shit.”

Smiling, Mark smoothed back Gabe’s hair. Gabe stretched into it like a cat begging to be petted. It didn’t make his nightmare of a cold go away any faster, but it certainly made him feel better. He didn’t want Mark to stop but… “You’re going to get sick.”

“Maybe, but I take my vitamins.” Mark pulled away, picking up the grocery bag as he walked toward the kitchen. “I brought you dinner.”

Food sounded unappealing. He couldn’t taste anything. Couldn’t smell anything. It was like putting cardboard in his mouth.

Mark slung his jacket over the top of the lonely stool Gabe had at his breakfast bar, leaving him in white shirtsleeves and a vest that hugged his waist perfectly. He propped himself against the counter, rolling up his sleeves. Gabe could see the bulge of the veins in Mark’s forearms from the couch.

“I’m cheating a little.” He pulled a plastic tub with something gross-looking sloshing against its sides and a shrink-wrapped pack of chicken cut into bite-size pieces from the bag. “Premade stock and precooked chicken. Good chicken soup takes time, so we’ll make do with this. Add some fresh vegetables and noodles and it’s almost like the real thing.”

There was nothing like seeing a man who made your heart pound, dressed like that, proposing to make nearly homemade chicken soup just because you were sick. How could Gabe say no to dinner now?

He watched through the tiny opening between the breakfast bar and the kitchen as Mark quietly went about his business. Mark knew where the pots and pans were, where the cutting board and sharpest knife were kept. He knew to use the front left burner because the others were bent and the pot would wobble. Gabe hadn’t realized Mark paid so much attention to his dingy little kitchen.

They cooked dinner together often, but usually at Mark’s much nicer condo. His kitchen had granite countertops and an oven that didn’t burn things. Watching Mark move so effortlessly around Gabe’s space settled something warm and heavy in Gabe’s chest. Something that wasn’t congestion.

He must have dozed off again because suddenly Mark nudged his elbow with one hand and held out a steaming bowl of soup with the other.

“Here. Eat some soup and drink some water; then you can go back to sleep.”

Gabe sat up, his back against the armrest and legs stretched out in front of him, and took the bowl. The steam felt good against his face as he tried to smell it. “You gonna tuck me in?”

Mark balanced his own bowl of soup as he lifted Gabe’s legs to sit on the couch. He lowered Gabe’s legs back to his lap and made sure Gabe’s feet were covered before picking up his spoon. “You are far too sick to be lascivious.”

“Nice SAT word. And anyway, I read an article about how regular sex can help fight off colds.”

Taking a long moment to bring the spoon to his lips, Mark delayed answering. He shot a wicked grin at Gabe after he swallowed. “I thought you were worried about getting me sick.”

Touché.

“How do you feel about sex with hospital masks?”

“Decidedly unsexy.”

“Spoil sport.”

Gabe turned back to his soup. He couldn’t taste it, but it was warm and made his throat feel better. He managed most of it but left a lot of the noodles behind before Mark took the bowl from him.

Sounds of running water and clinking dishes came from the kitchen as Gabe snuggled down in his blankets. He found the remote wedged between the back of the couch and the cushion and clicked on the Antarctica episode of Planet Earth. That was a good one.

He hummed as Mark settled on the couch, putting Gabe’s legs in his lap again.

“This the one with the whales?”

Gabe hummed again, his eyelids sliding closed.

“Do you want me to wake you up before I go so you can go to bed? Or do you want to sleep on the couch?” Mark’s voice was quiet, and his palm rubbed circles on Gabe’s calf, which was not going to help him stay awake.

“How long are you staying?”

“At least until I see some whales. That’s the only reason I came over.”

Gabe tried for a playful kick, but even that took too much energy. It looked more like an uncoordinated leg spasm. Mark laughed at him anyway. Gabe refused to rise to the bait. Instead, he purposefully shut his eyes and went to sleep.

The next time he came to, it was dark outside, but a soft glow filled his apartment. Mark must have turned on a lamp. Gabe stretched his legs. Mark wasn’t on the couch with him anymore. He must have gone home.

There was a little dip of sadness in Gabe’s chest at the thought.

The dip didn’t last long. Mark’s legs came into view next to the couch. Gabe had to crane his neck to see the rest of him.

“Here.” Mark held out a glass of water and two green pills.

Gabe didn’t bother to sit up. He could swallow lying down. It was one of his hidden talents. He popped the pills and tilted the glass back. He spilled some on his shirt but couldn’t bring himself to care.

“How did you know I needed more medicine?”

Mark perched on the coffee table, resting his elbows on his knees and searching Gabe’s face. “Because I love you, and I pay attention. I’ve been here more than four hours and you haven’t had any. I figured it was time. Are you sure you don’t need to go to a doctor?”

Mark had been the first to say I love you, but Gabe had said it right back. Since then, Mark dropped casual I love yous every day. Gabe was more reserved, but Mark didn’t seem to mind. Gabe thought Mark knew even though he didn’t say it all the time, he still felt it.

He took another swig of water, managing not to spill that time. “Nah, it’s only a cold. Give it a couple of days, and I’ll be fine.”

A deep V creased the skin between Mark’s dark eyebrows, and the small lines around his eyes deepened. Gabe wanted to kiss him. Badly. He started to pull himself up, unsure if he’d actually kiss Mark or not, but at least wanting to be on eye level with him.

Mark cupped Gabe’s elbow and helped him sit. He didn’t look relieved by Gabe’s change of position. “I’ll take you to the doctor if you need to go. Whenever you need to go.”

Gabe smiled, but that didn’t seem to convince Mark either. “I’ll be fine. Promise. I already feel better than I did yesterday.”

He rose slowly as Mark pulled on the blankets wrapped around Gabe, keeping them away from Gabe’s feet so he wouldn’t trip. Mark was good at small things like that. Mark was good at everything.

He waited, shoulder propped against the bathroom doorway, while Gabe brushed his teeth. Gabe didn’t have the energy to shower or change from one set of sweats to another to sleep in. He wanted to collapse, face first, on the bed. Instead, Gabe let Mark pull back the covers and usher him in. Like he was a child.

It didn’t feel patronizing or condescending. It was comforting.

“You know, I could do this every night if you’d move in with me,” Mark teased.

Bringing up an ongoing argument with one party sick was unfair.

“You’re taking advantage of my weakened state.” Gabe rolled on his side and hugged a pillow to his chest. “Besides, you could do this every night if you moved in here too.”

Mark sat on the bed, tucked up against the bend in Gabe’s knees. “My place is closer to work.”

Gabe snorted. “You don’t seem to mind the drive anymore.”

“Yeah, but I’d rather have you at home, in a nice big bed on clean sheets, than in a bathroom.” He rubbed his broad palm from Gabe’s knee to his hip. The heat of it soaked through straight to Gabe’s skin.

Don’t Miss Out On the Release Blitz for Irises in the Snow by Isabelle Adler (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: Irises in the Snow

Author: Isabelle Adler

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: November 4, 2019

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 25300

Genre: Contemporary, Anxiety, artist, childhood friends, Christmas, contemporary, family drama, holiday, second chances, small town

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Synopsis

It’s Christmas, and Justin’s life is fraying at the edges. The family business he took over instead of going to art school is bleeding money, and his boyfriend of seven months cheated on him. Under these circumstances, family gatherings can be rough, but Justin believes he has everything under control. That is, until Elliot, his former best friend (and the first guy to ever break his heart) unexpectedly shows up at the holiday dinner party.

With both of them still nursing the wounds of the past, it might take a real Christmas miracle for Justin and Elliot to learn to appreciate the art of second chances.

Excerpt

Irises in the Snow
Isabelle Adler © 2019
All Rights Reserved

The Rowel family home greeted Justin with familiar smells of cinnamon cake and fresh pine. In his mind, these scents had always been associated with the holiday season and long evenings spent around the dinner table or playing Scrabble in front of the fire. They were enough to ease some of the ache in Justin’s chest, softening his mood a tiny fraction.

“Justin!” His father clapped him on the shoulder and pulled him into a hug, which Justin carefully returned. “I’m glad you could finally make it.”

Despite the long remission, his father still appeared frail—or so it seemed to Justin, who, like most children, had grown up with the illusion his father was invincible until the universe proved him wrong.

“Of course,” Justin said. “You know me; I can’t say no to mom’s cooking.”

His father raised his eyebrow skeptically, undoubtedly recalling the string of last-minute cancellations and half-hearted excuses for not coming over in the last few weeks.

A familiar wave of guilt washed over Justin. With everything that had been going on, he knew he’d be hard-pressed to withstand his parents’ well-meaning inquiries into his personal life and into the state of the family business, which had become Justin’s sole responsibility. He couldn’t bring himself to tell them just how badly both those things were going.

He cranked up his smile to a new level of dissimulation, but thankfully, his mother emerged from the kitchen before his dad could challenge his statement.

His mother wiped her hands on her apron and reached up to plant kisses on Justin’s cheeks.

“Everybody is already here,” she told Justin as she led him by the arm into the living room as if he’d forgotten the way. “I love it when the house is full.” Her tone was a touch wistful as she gave his arm a gentle squeeze before returning to the kitchen.

Justin supposed having them all together was a rare occurrence these days. He lived in a one-room apartment above their hardware store, and his sister Trish had recently moved in with her fiancé. Nowadays, only the holidays presented an opportunity for Kelly Rowel to gather all of her loved ones, and, despite having to close the shop early on Monday to attend the day-before-Christmas-Eve family gathering, Justin was glad he could do something to make his mom happy. But as soon as he entered the brightly lit living room, he came to a screeching halt.

A fire already crackled merrily behind the grate. Huge red and white socks adorned with hand-embroidered names hung off the mantelpiece, decorated with a fake holly arrangement making its yearly appearance in the Rowel household. The TV showed a romantic comedy set in the Swiss Alps, as far as Justin could tell at a cursory glance. His sister Trish, her fiancé Dave, and Aunt Marnie sat glued to the movie while Uncle Tony fiddled with his iPhone.

None of them, however, had the dubious honor of grabbing Justin’s attention. That belonged to the young man wearing trendy gold-rimmed glasses and the blandest Christmas sweater in existence, sitting ramrod-straight in Dad’s old armchair and seemingly engrossed in Anne Hathaway’s foreign love affair.

No way. What was he doing here?

Justin didn’t know how long he stood in the doorway, transfixed, until his father, coming up behind him, gave him a slight nudge.

“Look who I have here!” he announced, and everybody, including the young man and Uncle Tony, raised their heads and turned his way.

“Hey, Justin!” Trish got up to meet him and give him a vigorous hug.

They sure were an affectionate lot, he thought absently as he hugged her back. Once, all that warmth was what kept him going. Now, it seemed almost…superfluous.

“Hi, Trish,” Justin said when she let up, and nodded to the rest. “Aunt Marnie, Uncle Tony, Dave. Elliot.”

“Oh, right.” Trish finally seemed to recall there was someone else present. “Mom invited Elliot to spend the holiday with us. You remember Elliot?”

Justin nodded curtly, unable to tear his eyes away from their guest. He definitely remembered Elliot Turner.

The man in question stood up, vacating his seat for Justin’s dad, and extended his hand in greeting.

“It’s nice to see you again,” he said.

Elliot’s voice was deeper, more mature than the last time Justin had spoken to him. Somehow, he seemed taller too. His gray eyes behind the shiny glasses regarded him seriously.

“Sure,” Justin said politely, shaking his hand. “It’s been a while.”

“Five years,” Elliot said.

“I was sorry to hear about your parents,” Justin said.

An awkward silence, accentuated by the chatter from the TV, settled around the living room at the mention of the tragedy. Trish and Aunt Marnie exchanged a nervous look. Really, did they expect Justin to just ignore what had happened?

When he’d heard of the terrible car accident last year, he tried calling Elliot in Los Angeles, but Elliot never picked up the phone or responded to Justin’s email in which he offered his condolences. That, above anything else, made it perfectly clear Justin was no longer welcome in his life.

So what was he doing back, standing in Justin’s parents’ living room?

“Thank you,” Elliot said gravely.

Suddenly, Justin was aware he was still holding Elliot’s hand and let it go, taking an involuntary step back. He wasn’t prepared for all the half-repressed memories dragged to the surface by Elliot’s touch—and he certainly wasn’t prepared to deal with them in front of his notoriously meddlesome, if well-meaning, extended family.

Elliot stepped away as well, dropping his eyes. The sudden loss of contact felt like…well, a loss.

“Is Mark coming?” Trish asked, peering behind Justin’s shoulder as if expecting to find his boyfriend loitering in the corridor.

“No,” he said curtly.

“Oh, that’s too bad. Maybe he’ll join us tomorrow, then?”

“I don’t think so. How are your studies going?” he asked Trish, desperately trying to divert her focus elsewhere.

“I’m doing great. Passed all my midterms.”

“With flying colors,” Dave said.

He rose from his seat to shake Justin’s hand as Elliot stepped aside to make room for him and plopped back down, taking over half the couch in a casual sprawl. Dave was a big guy, tall and built like a quarterback. Trish was taller than Justin by an inch, and nearly as broad in the shoulders, but Dave made her seem petite in comparison.

“That’s terrific,” Justin said, his voice warming.

His plan of going to art school had gone up in flames and then slowly fizzled over the years as other considerations took precedence over the illusions of youth, but at least it hadn’t all been for nothing. With her athletics scholarship, Trish had been accepted to UIndy, and as long as she got to achieve that dream, he was happy to do anything he could to support her.

“I can’t believe you got even paler, though,” Trish said, casting a critical eye over him. “And thinner. Are you auditioning for the role of the Ghost of Christmas Past?”

“You’re the one to talk, Trish,” Aunt Marnie observed primly. “That’s the trouble with young people today. You can’t be bothered to take care of yourselves. Eating sandwiches in front of the TV instead of sitting down for a proper meal, chugging all those soft drinks, always on your phones instead of having a nice long conversation over the dinner table.”

She glanced disapprovingly at Uncle Tony as she said it. Justin couldn’t tell whether her dissatisfaction stemmed from his being effectively absent from the proceedings, or that his preoccupation with his own mobile device undermined her point of it being the affliction of solely the younger generation.

Justin rolled his eyes and caught a glimpse of Elliot doing the same. He pretended not to notice.

“Oh, shush, Marnie.” Justin’s dad, John, tsked in annoyance at his sister-in-law as he settled comfortably in his shabby armchair. “Leave the girl alone. The last thing she needs is your dieting advice.”

“Just so you know, I eat healthier than all of you,” Trish said, sitting back down on the sofa beside her fiancé. Thankfully, she wasn’t ruffled by her aunt’s comment. Unlike Justin, she had always boasted a sunny disposition and staunchly refused to let bullies of any variety upset her. “And I drink nothing but fresh juice and water. Carbonated for special occasions.”

Dave snickered and petted her arm lovingly.

“Yes. Well. You must be tired, dear,” Aunt Marnie said, changing the subject and addressing Justin. “Why don’t you sit, put your feet up for a bit? Now, are you sure your young man isn’t coming? I had such a nice chat with him when you brought him over for Thanksgiving. Did you know—”

“I’m sure,” Justin interrupted her. Elliot’s gaze was like a laser beam trained on him, but he refused to meet it head on. “Actually, I think I’ll go see if Mom needs any help in the kitchen.”

Justin beat a hasty retreat before they could all start bickering again—and before he had to explain his current heartache in front of the man who was the first to ever break it.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Meet the Author

A voracious reader from the age of five, Isabelle Adler has always dreamed of one day putting her own stories into writing. She loves traveling, art, and science, and finds inspiration in all of these. Her favorite genres include sci-fi, fantasy, and historical adventure. She also firmly believes in the unlimited powers of imagination and caffeine.

Website | Twitter

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E.J. Russell on Characters and their release ‘Clickbait’ by E.J. Russell (guest post and giveaway)

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Clickbait by E.J. Russell
R
iptide Publishing
Cover art by L.C. Chase

Read an Excerpt/Buy it Here

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have E.J. Russell here today talking about Gideon, one of the characters in Clickbait and the Geeklandia series.  Welcome, E.J.!

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Gideon: A Peek Before Clickbait

Clickbait is actually the second book in my Geeklandia series about a group of friends in Portland—roommates Charlie, Gideon, and Lindsay, their sidecar friend Toshiko—and their search for romance, wherein geeks pair with non-geeks, much to everyone’s astonishment. Gideon, one of the co-heroes of Clickbait, made his grand entrance in the first book, Lost in Geeklandia, where he helps his BFF Charlie overcome her gawkitude and land her man. (Charlie appears in Clickbait as well, as do Toshiko and Lindsay—who’s the sister of Gideon’s co-hero, Alex.)

This is a deleted scene from Lost in Geeklandia, where Gideon (in his Noel Coward-inspired red brocade dressing gown) tries to prep Charlie for her next interaction with her childhood friend and later nemesis, Daniel (whom Gideon refers to as He-man). She has thirty days to turn Daniel into her boyfriend or lose the chance at her dream job—and the clock is ticking.

Gideon tapped his fork on the empty Tupperware bowl. “Attention, please. Back to He-man. Tell me you at least managed a good-night kiss.”

Charlie’s cheeks heated as if she’d dry-roasted them along with the peanuts in the snack smorgasbord. “Of course I didn’t. We’re talking about Daniel Shawn. It would be easier for me to manage a good-night kiss from Chris Pine.”

“Charles, Charles, Charles. Whatever am I going to do with you? Stop thinking of him as a threat and think of him as an opportunity.” He popped off the barstool. “Let’s SWOT this.”

Lindsay stopped mashing avocado and wiped her forehead with the back of one wrist, her expression troubled. “I know you’re trying to help, Gideon, but do you really think it’s okay for Charlie to hit Daniel?”

He patted her cheek. “S-W-O-T, darling, not S-W-A-T. Strength, weakness, opportunity, threat. Standard management exercise, as Charles would know if she’d taken any business classes amid all the technobabble.”

“It’s hard to take you seriously as a management consultant when you’re dressed like Raul Julia as Gomez Addams,” Charlie grumbled.

“Gomez wore a smoking jacket, not a dressing gown. Stop focusing on inconsequentials.”

Gideon plucked the magnetized dry erase marker off the refrigerator and slashed a grid on the whiteboard they used for their grocery list. In giant letters, he scrawled an S and a W across the top row. “This represents your internal organization. Whatever you perceive as your own.” He added an O and a T down the left side. “This represents the Other. The outer world. Things you don’t control.”

“I’m not sure I control anything.”

“Stop it. See.” He pointed to each letter with the marker. “Strength. Weakness. Opportunity. Threat. Your weakness is this unaccountable need you have to hide your talents under a virtual bushel. Your strengths are legion, but when it comes to Daniel, you forget that you are a smart woman and act like a freaking moron.”

Charlie glared at him. “Don’t you have a hot date to get to?”

Gideon’s gaze flew to the clock above the sink. “God. I’m late. Only concern about your sex life could distract me from my own.” He smacked the marker back on the refrigerator. “Think about it. There’ll be a test later.”

He disappeared down the hall in a billow of red satin.

About Clickbait

After the disastrous ending of his first serious relationship, Gideon Wallace cultivated a protective—but fabulously shiny—outer shell to shield himself from Heartbreak 2.0. Besides, romance is so not a priority for him right now. All his web design prospects have inexplicably evaporated, and to save his fledgling business, he’s been compelled to take a hands-on hardware project—as in, his hands on screwdrivers, soldering irons, and needle-nosed pliers. God. Failure could actually be an option.

Journeyman electrician Alex Henning is ready to leave Gideon twisting in the wind after their run-ins both on and off the construction site. Except, like a fool, he takes pity on the guy and offers to help. Never mind that between coping with his dad’s dementia and clocking all the overtime he can finagle, he has zero room in his life for more complications.

Apparently, an office build-out can lay the foundation for a new relationship. Who knew? But before Alex can trust Gideon with the truth about his fragile family, he has to believe that Gideon’s capable of caring about more than appearances. And Gideon must learn that when it comes to the heart, it’s content—not presentation—that matters.

Now available from Riptide Publishing. http://riptidepublishing.com/titles/clickbait

About E.J. Russell

E.J. Russell holds a BA and an MFA in theater, so naturally she’s spent the last three decades as a financial manager, database designer, and business-intelligence consultant. After her twin sons left for college and she no longer spent half her waking hours ferrying them to dance class, she returned to her childhood love of writing fiction. Now she wonders why she ever thought an empty nest meant leisure.

E.J. lives in rural Oregon with her curmudgeonly husband, the only man on the planet who cares less about sports than she does. She enjoys visits from her wonderful adult children, and indulges in good books, red wine, and the occasional hyperbole.

Connect with E.J.:

Website: ejrussell.com
Blog: ejrussell.com/bloggery/
Facebook: www.facebook.com/E.J.Russell.author
Twitter: twitter.com/ej_russell
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/ejrussell/

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Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Clickbait, one lucky winner will receive $25 in Riptide credit! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on December 10, 2016. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

In the Book Spotlight: Laurie Terson’s ‘Rockin’ Around the Ranch’ (excerpt and giveaway)

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Rockin’ Around The Ranch by Laurie Terson
Release Date: December 11, 2015

Goodreads Link
Publisher: MLR Press
Cover Artist: Melody A. Pond

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Blurb

There a storm is coming. And Christmas is on its way. Jace is supposed to be on his way to Florida. But Jace’s boyfriend Taylor isn’t coming. Taylor’s on a last minute business trip. Hunkering down and taking care of things on the ranch, Jace is trying to make the best of his sorry Christmas. But where the heck did this baby come from?

Taylor is on a business trip when a co-worker’s flu extends his trip. When he should have been heading on vacation with Jace, giving him the best Christmas present ever, he’s stuck in an airport talking to some old guy with a white beard.

 

Pages or Words: 16,000 words
Categories: Contemporary, M/M Romance, Romance, Ranch Hand/Cowboy, Holiday, and a little humor

Excerpt

Chapter One

Jacen Assante hurried past the split rail fence toward the barn. He’d told his co-workers, Shep and Carl, that he’d take care of the barn animals if they took care of the horses. They’d been out riding along the fence line all day looking for holes. Pausing at the barn door, he removed his gloves, pushed his battered Stetson back, and wiped a trickle of sweat from his brow. Even in the dead of winter, riding hard and pulling barbed fence wire could cause a body to sweat. He glanced around taking in the stark beauty of the world surrounding him. Nestled in the closed end of a wide valley and in the distance, mountains rose on three sides. This late in December, other than the pines, the trees were bare of leaves. The late afternoon sun glistened, reflecting from the few patches of snow on the ground. A few still clung to the tree branches. They had gotten their first dusting of snow just a couple of weeks ago. Jace knew they had a lot more snow to come.

They’d moved the cattle to the lower pastures a while back. Keeping them closer to the ranch buildings made sense—easier to get to and care for them. This late in the year, the only ones remaining were the few breeding stock animals his boss, Conner, wanted to keep. His boss sure had his own way of wanting to do things. Not like any other boss Jace had ever worked for.

Like the animals in the barn. Jace shook his head. No weathered wood for this barn. The barn was so darn fancy it was better than a lot of people’s houses. Got to love people with more money than brains. The critters in there had lights and heating. Hell, Conner had even put in central air conditioning. And all for a frickin’ cow, a goat, an ornery mule, and a miniature horse. The cow no longer gave any milk, just stood there chewing her cud. The goat head-butted anything that got close enough, and the mule tried to bite everything it could reach. Useless damn animals. Their horses had their own barn, not as fancy as this one but what the hell. The horses weren’t considered pets. Jace guessed he didn’t care except caring for them took up time when other things needed doing. There wasn’t enough time to get all of the work done. With just a few hands, as soon as they finished a chore they had to start all over again.

Jace watched as the other two cared for the horses they’d used. Shep had the tanned leather face of cowpokes from years ago. But Jace knew Shep was only about fifteen years older than him. That made Shep late forties. Jace always teased him about using sunscreen and moisturizers. Carl was the same age as Jace and took care of himself, much like Jace did. Neither man left the ranch house without sunscreen on. But even with care Jace knew there were a few laugh lines crinkling around the corners of his eyes.

Over the winter months it was usually just him, Shep Lambert, and Carl Drummer on the ranch. During peak season it was the three of them plus a couple of part-timers that worked a few days a week or as needed. Along with the teens that Conner sent their way. Sending at risk teens to the ranch had been a family tradition. Jacen had met Conner the summer he’d been sent there. They had struck up a friendship that lasted to this day.

Conner had spent every one of his summers working the ranch with his grandfather. Then while Conner had gone off to make his millions in real estate, Jace had stayed on to work the ranch. When Conner had inherited the ranch from his grandfather nothing had changed. Things had kept on the way they always had except now there was enough money to improve and expand the bunk house. This had upped the number of teen boys that could spend their summers learning about life and teamwork. Conner still dropped in to visit at least once a year, spending a week or so doing the things he had during his youth.

Shep’s voice bellowed, breaking into Jace’s musing. “Hey Jacen, ya going to move your ass or you going to stand there and daydream about your vacation instead of leaving on it?”

Shep and Carl were having way too much fun teasing Jace this year. It was good natured teasing because both of them knew how devastated Jace had been last year when his plans had been cancelled.

“Don’t be an ass.” He heard Carl chide Shep.

“I’m going, I’m going. But one, only Taylor or my momma call me Jacen. And you don’t look like either one. And two, I only have a few things left to pack. Like the toothbrush I’m using tonight.”

Shep threw his dandy brush at Carl’s head. “And who wanted to bet on the vacation going off as planned?”

Jace turned toward them. “What the hell? You guys have a bet going?” With each word out of his mouth he got pissed just a little bit more. What the hell where they thinking?

Holding up both hands, Shep looked to Carl for help. “Now, Jace, don’t go getting your mad on. We’re mostly betting on it so that it does happen. And it wasn’t just us. Jesse and Pete both have money on this too. Hell, Evan does too.”

His jaw dropping, Jace stared at the two ranch hands. “What the fuck? Carl, even your boyfriend is in on this?”

“Hell, Evan wasn’t going to pass on this bet. And yeah, we were just doing that reverse psychology thing.” Carl smiled at Jace, seemingly pleased with his logic. “You know like when you want something bad enough you make it seem like you don’t so you aren’t disappointed.”

“Yeah, right guys.” Jace shook his head, not believing any of it as he made his way over to the barn. “And next you’re going to tell me you believe Santa Claus is real too. Keep talking and digging that hole deeper.”

Today he wanted the last of his chores for the day to be done. He had to get back to the farmhouse and finish the packing so he and his boyfriend could leave on vacation in two days. They were going for seven warm, sunny, tropical days in Florida. Just him and Taylor, lying on the beach, soaking up all the sun they could handle. They would be drinking all kinds of fruity rum drinks all day. No bosses, no cattle, no cowhands, no snow, no worries. After canceling last year’s vacation, Taylor had promised this year it was going to happen. Damn, he was looking forward to it. It felt kind of strange that he wasn’t going to be on the ranch for Christmas. He was such a sentimental sap about Christmas. He loved everything about the holidays here on the ranch. The snow, then going out and cutting a tree. The cooking, decorating and the shopping for that special present, yep, he loved it all. Oh, he’d never admit any of that out loud or anything, but it was still all true.

Thinking of Taylor, Jace rolled his eyes. He hated the label of boyfriend. After three years together you’d think there would be a better word. It made them sound like they were back in high school or something. Taylor Lawless was thirty six, for Christ sakes. And a regional manager of a restaurant chain, too. Jace hated that Taylor had to travel some for his job, but there wasn’t anything Taylor could do about that.

Taylor’s job was the only bone of contention they had between them. Taylor lived on the ranch with him, mostly. He still had a place in town but never stayed there. And there was enough to do around the ranch for Taylor to be put on the payroll. Taylor could do the office paperwork and payroll. And he was such a good cook, he could do that too. It was his pride that made Taylor stay at his damn job, since he hated his boss—or at least that was what Jace thought from the things Taylor said.

Shaking his head Jace decided that he wasn’t going to think about it anymore. They were going on vacation. That was all there was to it. He couldn’t let thoughts of last year derail this year’s plans.

Sliding the door open, he went into the barn. Taylor would be home in about an hour. They’d have dinner with the guys, and then get the rest of their packing done. Then Jace had plans that involved him, Taylor, their king-sized bed, and a whole lot of lube.

Buy the book:  All Romance (ARe) 

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Meet the author:
Laurie Terson grew up in So Cal, where she lived most of her life. She met her husband of thirty plus years there. A victim of the empty nest, when her daughter and son moved out, she has replaced them with a 5 lb dog named Peanut. The three of them currently live under the bright lights of Las Vegas.

Always a daydreamer, stories of one kind or another have lived in her head. She has always been and still is avid reader. She decided to try her hand at writing when she was challenged by a friend after they discussed how she was re-writing scenes from books to make them go the way she thought they should go.

When not reading or writing she can be found watching sports, of all kinds. A tomboy while growing up, she loved fishing, camping and traveling. She also enjoys going to the movies, cooking, wine tasting and crafting.

She is a believer that love is love, no more, no less. And that gender doesn’t matter because everyone deserves a happy ever after.

Where to find the author:

 


Tour Dates & Stops:

Parker Williams, Bonkers About Books, Bayou Book Junkie, 3 Chicks After Dark, Happily Ever Chapter, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, BFD Book Blog, Wake Up Your Wild Side, Inked Rainbow Reads, Book Lovers 4Ever, Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews, Divine Magazine, MM Good Book Reviews, Alpha Book Club, Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents, Velvet Panic, The Hat Party

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Giveaway

Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: $5 Gift Card to the retailer of choice, link and prize provided by the author and Pride Promotions. Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.

 

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A Mika Review: Green the Whole Year ‘Round by Rowan McAllister

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5 stars

GreentheWholeYear'RoundCouples counselor Ted Freeman is still reeling six months after his partner left him. He desperately hopes a week of peace and quiet at a quaint mountain cabin will be just what he needs to regain his personal and professional confidence.

Neil Kelly is a computer programmer who just got promoted to full time and is celebrating over Christmas by going on his first real grown-up vacation at the Cabins in the Pines Inn. When he runs into Ted, his longtime crush, Neil can’t believe his luck, and he vows to do whatever it takes to make Ted see him as something other than the dork next door.

Neil wasn’t part of Ted’s plan for the holidays, but he might turn out to be exactly what Ted needs.

Half a star extra for Neil’s accurate portrayal on the cover! I thought this was a cute holiday read. I really enjoyed Neil, he was super adorable and a sweetheart. I liked how he was always choose to be high spirited even when he felt down. I didn’t like Ted in the beginning, his character seemed stand offish, and very pompous. I definitely think he needed a wake up call earlier than what he got. I like that he came around and decided to live a little. Neil was amazingly optimistic, and I think that’s why Ted was able to open up some. Recommended for readers that enjoy cute little holiday novellas, and amazingly gingered twinks!

The cover artist Christy Caughie created this cover, and it was accurate for where the guys were. Neil was spot on with that garishly orange cold. I definitely liked him; he was super adorable in the book

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press eBook     All Romance (ARe)     amazon     buy it here

Book Details:

SBN-13 978-1-63216-592-3
Pages 77
Cover Artist Christy Caughie
Categories :Novellas Contemporary Holiday Rowan McAllister
Book Type eBook
File Formats Available
mobiepubpdfzip/html