Blog Tour · Guest · Interview · New Release

Guest Post & Interview with Eric Huffbind

Hiya,

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

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

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BLOG TOUR

Surrounded by Silence

Author: Eric Huffbind

Cover Artist: Eric Huffbind

Release Date: October 14, 2020

Genre/s: Contemporary Gay Male Romance

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

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

Heat Rating: 4 flames

Length: 71 000 words/259 pages

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

Goodreads

Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | Amazon UK

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

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Blurb

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

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

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

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Interview with Eric

*

Introducing Eric and his writing… 

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

ZAKARRIE POST IMG_1470

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

How long have you been an author?

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

What/who inspired you to start writing? 

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

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

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

How did you decide on the title? 

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

What was the hardest part of writing your book? 

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

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

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

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

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

Why M/M?

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

What other novels do you adore/ writers you follow?

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

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

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

Are you a pantser or a plotter?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Excerpt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About the Author

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

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

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

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Blog Tour · Guest · Interview

Guest Post: Abstract Love by Sara Dobie Bauer

Hiya,

Today, I’m delighted to welcome my guest, Sara Dobie Bauer with her new novel, Abstract Love. The moment I saw its cover I was hooked. I’m so looking forward to reading Sam & Donovan’s story. 

Special thanks to Sara for being kind enough to be interviewed too. I couldn’t agree with her more about what makes a great story…and very much suspect Abstract Love will prove itself a portrait of exactly that.

 

BLOG TOUR

Book Title: Abstract Love

Author: Sara Dobie Bauer

Publisher: Self-published

Cover Artist: Natasha Snow

Release Date: September 4, 2020

Genre/s: Contemporary MM romance

Trope/s: enemies-to-lovers, age gap, co-workers, office romance,

bisexuality, businessmen, artists, bondage, comedy

Themes: sexual awakening

Possible triggers: depression, suicidal ideations, biphobia

Heat Rating: 4 flames

Length: 71 000 words

It is a standalone book.

Goodreads

 

Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US | Amazon UK

 

I hate Sam Shelby. So why do I want to kiss him?

 

 

Blurb

 

 

Sam never expected to move back to Cleveland.

Donovan never expected to be attracted to a man.

Well, shit happens.

After high school, Sam Shelby moved to New York. Eight years later, he returns to Cleveland and lands a job at the best ad firm in town. It would be the perfect gig, if his boss weren’t such an ass.

After his wife leaves, Donovan Cooper questions everything. The arrival of a young, arrogant, gifted graphic designer at Donovan’s firm is the last straw.

Tempers flare over office gossip, and following a nasty argument and scathing kiss, Donovan flails away from heterosexuality while Sam struggles to keep his “no relationship” rule intact.

Despite ugly socks, fiery fights, and their best intentions to not fall in love, these bullheaded coworkers can’t deny their chemistry. Donovan seeks happiness while Sam seeks success, but is there room for more?  

💙

 

Interview with Sara

 

Do you use images to develop your character’s looks?

Oh, for sure! I ROUGHLY base my characters on actors I love. In Abstract Love, for instance, Donovan is Daniel Craig and Sam is Timothee Chalamet. (Yes, the characters are ROUGHLY based on these men, but Sam’s fashion choices are actual outfits Timothee has worn in real life, for better or worse.) In the past, I’ve used Benedict Cumberbatch, Alexander Skarsgard, Armie Hammer, Tilda Swinton, and more.

Are your characters based on people you know?

Not usually, but in the case of Abstract Love, yes. Monica is very much based on my beautiful friend Keri.They have the same hair, tattoos, glasses, and style. They’re both sassy, smart, confident women. I love women who stand out amongst the masses and embrace their identities without fear. That’s Keri.

Do you use your experiences in your books?

I’d say I use my feelings more than my experiences. As a theater minor in college, I used to channel my emotions into my performance on stage, and I’ve transferred that catharsis into my writing. So, nope, you’re not going to see anything autobiographical here, but the emotions—heartbreak, joy, fear—come from a place that is very, very real.

Do you ever get writer’s block?

Nope.

What do you think makes a good story?

Strong, complex, believable characters with chemistry. The plot doesn’t much matter to me if I’m spending time with characters I love. Especially characters with a great sense of humor. I have a weak spot for snarky protagonists. 

Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Energize. More than anything else in my life. Except maybe sex. (My mom isn’t going to read this, right?)

What has been one of your most rewarding experiences as an author?

I released Handsome Death in April through Carnation Books. Due to the pandemic, we weren’t sure what kind of sales we might get. The night of the book’s release, my publisher messaged me freaking out. She couldn’t believe the sales numbers. We broke that publishing house’s record that night. I couldn’t sleep. I was so pumped, I stayed up, watched Clue, and drank absinthe. It was such a dark time for me and for the world; Handsome Death’s book birthday was an unexpected bright spot.

What do your friends and family think about you being a writer?

They think it’s awesome … but don’t really understand what it means to be “a writer.” (My hubby is an engineer, so it’s the same when he talks about work. Since his words don’t make sense, I just focus on how hot he is.) My friends and family celebrate new releases and read my books, but my day-to-day existence is a great mystery of the universe to most people. I like it that way.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

Bartend and practice yoga to stay healthy and sane. Oh, and I read. So much reading. 

Do you like music or silence when your write?

SILENCE IS GOLDEN.

Thank you.

 

💙

 

ABSTRACT LOVE 2

Excerpt

Donovan sifted through a few hand-drawn logos on the desk and froze when he found a crudely drawn sketch of himself. Sam must have done it during a meeting at some point, capturing Donovan’s faux hawk, wide jaw, and severe expression.

Jesus, was this what other people saw when they looked at him? Did he really look so miserable?

“Make yourself at home?” Donovan dropped the picture and stood straight at the sound of Sam’s voice. He leaned against the doorframe, with one ankle crossed over the other.

“It’s really bullshit when people say that, you know?” Sam said. “Make yourself at home. No one actually wants their friends to take off their pants, drink all their beer, and binge The Great British Bake Off.” He paused. “What are you doing in my office?”

“I didn’t mean to snoop.”

The office door closed as he stepped inside. “Sure you did, or you wouldn’t be in here, so what’s up?”

Sam circled the desk, so Donovan circled the other way, although he noticed it was true what coworkers said: Sam did smell good—like clean laundry and cedar.

“I think we started off on the wrong foot.” Sam snort laughed and flipped through some files on his desk.

“More like wrong continent, man.” When he found what he was looking for, he tapped the file’s corner against his palm. “I can handle guys like you, you know.” Donovan shifted back on his heels.

“Guys like me?”

“Hmm. Corporate assholes. All you see are dollar signs. You take no pleasure in your work. Advertising is money to you, not art, but without the artists, there wouldn’t be advertising, so…”

He sucked his cheeks into his mouth, a momentary fish face.

Donovan wanted to tell him it wasn’t true. Donovan loved art. He used to love art.

Sam continued, “I know I look like a six-foot-two Disney princess, but you’re not gonna rattle me.” To prove his point, Sam got right up in Donovan’s personal space until Donovan took a step back. Again, he was not used to dealing with someone his own height. “And I’m right about the Great Lakes ad campaign. If you’d pull your head out of your ass, maybe you’d notice.” He turned away abruptly.

“Sam.”

“What?”

“I’m sorry.” Ouch, that hurt coming out.

Sam’s rebuttal: “Prove it.”

“Excuse me?” He rested a hand on the desk and cocked his hip out—the very picture of young attitude.

“Listen to me in meetings.”

“I was listening.”

“Nope.” He shook his head and ran a hand through his unkempt, unprofessional hair. “No, you were hearing. I need you to listen. There’s a difference. And I know I’m just some fucking kid to you, but I ruled the New York City advertising scene. I know what I’m doing, Donovan, so let me do it.”

“Fine.” He’d had enough. He’d apologized, okay, so he’d done his Monica-enforced duty. He didn’t owe Sam anything else.

He didn’t run for the door, but he definitely moved with speed.  

 

💙

 

About the Author

Sara Dobie Bauer is a bestselling author, model, and mental health / LGBTQ advocate with a creative writing degree from Ohio University. She lives with her hottie husband and two precious pups in Northeast Ohio, although she’d really like to live in a Tim Burton film.

 

 

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

 

💙

 

Blog Tour · Guest · Reviews

Guest post & review: The Experiment by Rebecca Raine

 

Hi… 🥰

I posted Chapter 50 of My Way last night, perchance you missed it. https://zakarrie.com/2020/08/22/my-way-50/

Today, I’d like to welcome my guest Rebecca Raine with her wonderful new novel, The Experiment. Many thanks to Rebecca for the copy I received, read, and reviewed below. In a nutshell? It was a delight to do so.

 

BLOG TOUR

Book Title: The Experiment

Author: Rebecca Raine

Cover Artist: Bec Rivers

Release Date: Tuesday, 18 August (AEST)

Genre/s: Contemporary MM Romance

Trope/s: Friends-to-Lovers, Gay for You, First-time Gay

Themes: Friendship, Self-discovery, Self-experimentation

Heat Rating: 4 flames

Length: 85 000 words/ approx. 210 pages

It is a standalone book.

Goodreads

 

Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US | Amazon UK

 

When a single kiss calls your sexuality into question,

there’s only one sure path to a reliable answer: further research.

 

Blurb

 

Patrick

I like to think I know myself outside and in. As a developmental psychologist, I’ve spent years exploring the true foundations of my identity. So, when losing a bet means kissing my best friend, Logan, I already know I’m going to hate every second of it. All the relevant questions regarding my sexuality were asked and answered years ago. The results were conclusive: despite the odd same-sex attraction, I dislike being touched by men.

That is, it seems, until Logan is the man doing the touching. The intense desire aroused by his kiss contradicts all my expectations and I have no idea how to integrate the new information. Thankfully, I know exactly how to uncover the truth about myself—once and for all.

Logan

I’ve put a lot of effort into keeping Patrick out of my fantasies and in the friend-zone. Our recent lip-lock may have unleashed my feelings for him temporarily, but I’ll get them back on their platonic track in no time. Falling for a friend, especially a sexually ambivalent friend, is a one-way ticket to heartache.

But, when the unforeseen impact of our kiss inspires Patrick to conduct an experiment into the extent of his bisexuality, I can’t resist volunteering to help. If any man is going to join Patrick on his journey of self-discovery, it’s sure as hell going to be me.

 

 

Review

 

I’m more reluctant to request ARCs than my interest in a novel merits. The reason is simple, I can’t bear the thought of being gifted an author’s work, only to enjoy the book a lot less than I’d hoped. As a result of which, I worry that I’ll wind up feeling dreadful and trying to write a review that doesn’t wound the author. I know…I’m not supposed to take that into account. A fair and honest review is not a personal attack on them or their writing. It is just my not-a-jot defining opinion about a story, that’s all. 

As I’ve never been able to pay heed to what I’m supposed to feel, do, or say, it’s pointless telling me otherwise. So…in order to brave the whole process? I’ve come to regard reading with a view to review as an…experiment of sorts. One I don’t repeat as often as my interest is piqued by the premise, as much as I might wish I could steel myself to do so.

Now you know why I found this book so irresistible…and why I started my review as I did. Patrick’s thought process is about as far from mine as I can imagine; I unerringly follow my instincts, so I found it fascinating to be given such an intimate window into workings of a mind so removed from my own. Particularly, as it transpired, when formatted as research for a psychology dissertation. I was riveted by the end of the first chapter and read the first three quarters of the story in one sitting.

The book was described as gay-for-you, which made me pause before requesting it—aware that some find the trope troubling—but I’m so glad I did. Particularly when it wasn’t a gay-for-you story.  It may have seemed that way, at the start…but it quickly became apparent that, rather than being an avowedly straight man who’d repressed his sexuality? Patrick had spent a great deal of time pondering the issue and trying to ascertain his truth. Doing just that is an intrinsic part of who he is: a developmental psychologist determined to live his life authentically. All of which meant he’d already run a tentative experiment to discover if he was, indeed, bixseual as a teen. An experience so awful that the answer was an unequivocal no.

It is a drunken bet that gives him the courage to reassess those findings. You may find that unfeasible but in all honesty? I’m not sure that I’ve ever found the set up of a favourite trope ‘realistic’ . I don’t read tropes for realism, I read them purely for pleasure. While I love ‘fake relationship’ novels, I don’t for a minute imagine that the world is crammed with pretend boyfriends, fiances, and husbands living elaborately planned lives to inherit a fortune or fool some decrepit family member into believing the lie they’re being sold. Annnd just so happening to fall in love along the way, with an all consuming intensity as luscious as it is…unlikely.  I care not…that’s exactly what I wanted to read when I chose the book.

So…don’t bother reading this story if you find the ‘experiment’ set up ridiculous or unrealistic. You missed a delightful read you wouldn’t have enjoyed.

I did…and loved every minute I spent with Logan and Patrick. A story about two adorable loons in love, told with a ‘methodology’ I found fabulously fresh. I didn’t stop reading until I realised that I was about to be coshed by The Conflict. Yes…I know it’s considered an ‘important part’ of a plot arc. I care even less about that than the realism thing. So…I went for a snack and pulled my unisex pants up. I can do this, thought I. Endure a few chapters of ‘misunderstanding’ or muddle-headed madness, in order to relish Patrick & Logan’s happy ever after. 

Thankfully, it didn’t drag on for long. Better yet, I found myself persuaded that its inclusion did indeed explain the flawed reasoning that forms the premise of Patrick’s experiment. His panic is induced by a family dinner, in which we discover what led to his determination to avoid a latter day epiphany. Thus, he’s hell bent on nailing his sexuality, once and for all, and instigates the experiment to discover his ‘authentic self’. A bit bonkers when sexuality is rarely set in stone, but that’s the idea he’s dead set on, to head off the devastation his dad’s life changing accident wreaked. So, who am I to quibble? Do what you need to in order find your peace…it saves a lot of heartache along the way, not least for yourself. 

I haven’t mentioned Logan very much, but suffice to say…he’s a very willing participant in The Experiment with his ‘best friend’. I adored him, he was my favourite of the two men. He’s witty and warm with a twinkle in his eye, infinitely patient and as hot as hell. The banter between them is an additional delight and I was rooting for them all the way. I loved it.

🧡🧡🧡🧡🧡

Teaser - Drag and claw

Excerpt

“You can do your experiment with me.”

My heart pounds, as I wait for him to respond to my offer. The part of me that’s sure he’ll say yes is already weak with relief that he won’t go out looking for anyone else. I don’t want other men touching Patrick. If he’s only ever going to do this experiment with one man, I want that man to be me.

“I thought you wanted to go back to the way things were.” His gaze is wary, and he has yet to move a muscle. “We’re friends, nothing more. That’s what you said.”

“Yes, and it’s still true,” I assure him. “I do want to go back to being friends. But we can do it after the experiment.”

His breath has quickened and, when he speaks again, his voice is rough. “Are you sure you want to do this?”

“It’s the best viable solution,” I tell him, as if coating my possessiveness with a thick layer of pragmatism will make it less obvious. “Don’t forget, it was my kiss that breathed life into your queerness.” My body reacts to the idea of doing it again… and again… and again. However many times he needs to be satisfied. I make a show of licking my lips, enjoying the way he watches with rapt attention. “How much do you want to bet I can get more than a boner out of you?”

With a start, his eyes narrow and he points a finger at me. “No more bets.”

Laughing out loud, I nod. “That’s right. How could I forget?”

He runs a hand over the back of his neck as he looks around the bar, before returning his gaze to me. “I’ll admit, when I decided to do this, my first instinct was to come to you.” He gestures at me with an impatient hand. “You’re the only guy I’ve ever enjoyed kissing and it totally blew my mind. Why do you think I’m doing this in the first place?” he growls, his frustration coming through. “It’s not just because of what happened when we kissed. It’s the fact I can’t stop thinking about it.”

He’s not the only one. I’ve rubbed my cock raw in remembrance. The urge to shove him back against the nearby wall washes over me. I want to give him something new to think about. Ignoring the impulse, I swallow hard and speak in a low voice. “When you’re thinking about it, are these analytical thoughts about what it all means? Or are they wanking thoughts?”

He glances away, trying to appear nonchalant. “Both.”

My muscles tighten at the thought of him with his hand wrapped around his throbbing dick, fantasising about kissing me while he pants and moans his way to orgasm. I want to know what he looks like when he comes. What he sounds like. How he feels.

“But,” he says, with emphasis, interrupting the lustfest going on in my head, “I decided against it because I know you don’t—” The words cut off and his eyes close briefly. “I don’t want us to stop being friends.”

“I don’t want that either but, Patrick, you’re playing with fire here and assuming no one will steal the matches. I’m the only one I trust to do this right.”

He’s still reluctant. I can feel the force of his doubts. But he hasn’t said no.

“Patrick, listen to me.” I slide a hand around the back of his neck, urging him to meet my gaze. “You need someone you can trust to stop when you say stop, no matter what’s happening when you say it. Someone who won’t get pissed at you and accuse you of being a tease when you leave them with blue balls.” Releasing him, I grin. “Besides, you tried looking for someone else to kiss. It didn’t work. You chose me and now you’re stuck with me for the duration.”

He huffs out an indignant sound. “I could find someone else to kiss,” he blusters, “if I looked really hard… for about ten years.”

I laugh out loud, knowing I almost have him convinced. “Yeah, but even if you did, it wouldn’t matter.”

“Why is that?” He leans closer, as if he’s looking forward to my response.

In that instant, I realise how badly I want this—him. I want to tug on every thread of his sexuality, freeing each strand for thorough inspection. I want to tie him in knots, before making him unravel for me. And I want him to know, every second along the way, I’m the one who is doing this to him. That I’m the only man to ever make him feel this way.

Licking my lips, I take a step closer and bring my face in next to his. “Because even if you did hit your limit with someone else, you’d always wonder how much further I could have taken you.” I lower my head, so he can feel my breath against his neck as I go in for the kill. “Patrick, my friend, I’m going to drag your arse so far down my end of the spectrum, you’ll have to claw your way straight.”

 

 

About the Author

Rebecca is a long-time lover of all things romance. Whether it’s a book, movie, or real life, she will always have more fun if there’s a love interest thrown into the mix. She lives in Queensland, Australia with her very own hero husband, two quirky kids and one big, black dog. Other than reading and writing books, her favourite things include loud music, enjoying a glass of wine on the patio, organising everything in existence, and spending too much time on the Internet.

 

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Guest: Leigh Kenzie – Il Padrone

Hi… 🥰

I signed up to host today’s guest the moment I espied ‘Il Padrone’. I’m so looking forward to reading it.❤️

A very warm welcome to my guest Leigh Kenzie…whom I’d like to thank for agreeing to be interviewed too.

***
BLOG TOUR

 Il Padrone (Vendetta Book 1)

Author: Leigh Kenzie

Cover Artist: Temptation Creations

Release Date: August 18, 2020

Genre/s: Dark MM

Trope/s: Dark MM Mafia, Stockholm Syndrome, Age gap

Themes: Mafia, Dub-con, Captive/Captor, Forced Submission

Heat Rating: 5 flames

Length: Approx. 44 500 words/ 190 pages

Goodreads

Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

Universal Link | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Now that I own him, there’s no escape

Blurb

Allesandro
I’m Il Padrone, the Master of this Family, and Emilio will learn his place. I’ll bathe in his tears and watch as he humiliates himself. It’s all for my pleasure. I own it all and he’s just another addition to my collection.

Emilio
Il Padrone calls me his toy. His property. He says I can earn the right to be higher in his organization if only I submit. If only I change who I am. I may be younger, but he hasn’t seen the likes of me before.

Just how twisted can a tale of vengeance become?


Trigger Warnings: This is a dark MM Mafia with graphic violence and extreme sexual situations.

Book 1 of the Vendetta Series ends on a cliffhanger. Book 2 releases September 2020!

*

Interview with Leigh Kenzie

Il Padrone Teaser Vengeance

When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer?

This is actually a rather complicated question for me. I’ve always loved to write. It probably comes from the fact I’m an avid reader. My father taught me the value of a good book and growing up it seemed I was always reading, at least according to my family. With that my mind liked to spin its own stories as well. My grandmother encouraged it and actually gave me a typewriter to work with on creating my own stories. I put it aside though for many reasons. It wasn’t until recently that I decide to try, mainly because I lost two of the most influential people in my life. They had always encouraged me to try and after losing them, I decided I should at least attempt it, even if it’s terrifying. 

How many books have you written?

This is my first book. I had a short story that was part of the charity anthology, Tainted Tales, earlier this year. 

How long does it usually take you to write a book?

Roughly 2 months.

How did you come up with the idea for your book?

I was talking to a friend about how I wanted to read some dark M/M mafia and she suggested I write it. I ran the idea past one of my alphas. On her encouragement, I went ahead and wrote a very raw scene and sent it to my other alpha that insisted I write the story. After that it was just a matter of listening to the characters and naughty plot monkeys that live in my head. 

Who are your favorite authors? Have they inspired your writing?

There are so many! Michelle Brown deserves major credit for me doing this. She’s a phenomenal author. I love how strong her writing is and she’s been such a positive influence. Claire Marta is a great example of dark and twisted, which is where I generally fall. I’m also blaming her for my propensity to use cliffhangers. I learned from the best there. Sara Dobie Bauer may as well be called the Queen of Feels. Her characters are incredibly lifelike. Tanya Chris always gives such unique work that really makes me think. You can tell she puts a great deal of thought and research into what she writes. A.G. Carothers doesn’t just challenge the norm; they obliterate it in the best way possible. All of these authors have influenced me, whether it’s from a writing perspective or even just personally by being so willing to be there for me. There are even more but I would probably be writing an entire novel just on that! 

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

I think the most challenging part is learning the grammar rules. I thankfully have a super patient editor and extremely detailed proofreader. The quality of my writing improves throughout the series. 

Where is your favorite place to write?

I’m a pretty boring person who likes routines. I only write at my desk. However, I plot everywhere. The plot monkeys and characters become especially chatty during driving. 

When you develop characters do you already know who they are before you begin writing or do you let them develop as you go? 

I am a complete panster. My characters develop as they go. Most of the time they pop up from nowhere. Sometimes with an actual story, other times with a line or two. They occasionally change the entire plot on me. I try when they pop up to think about them and figure out who they are but they do what they want. I just listen to the voices. 

Do you aim for a set number of words/pages per day?

I have a very busy and chaotic life. At most I get three writing days a week generally. My aim is 2,500 words a day on writing days. 

What is the hardest thing about writing?

Finding time is often the hardest. I have a job I absolutely love but it is chaotic. I have several bosses so I’m constantly juggling throughout the day. I also take care of an elderly family member. Between that and two terrors of terriers it can be difficult to find time. 

What is the easiest thing about writing?

The story itself is the easiest. My characters are chatty and the naughty plot monkeys often get into trouble. For the most part, I’m confident in the story itself, less confident in my ability to do it justice. 

*

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Excerpt (Allesandro POV):

I watch my servants scurry around to complete my orders as I get ready for my guest. I laugh mentally because he’s definitely not going to feel like a guest. I’d care if I had a heart, but as most accuse me of, I don’t. I’m greedy, and I know it.

The bedroom is two doors down from mine. It’s a basic bedroom, freshly painted white. There’s a bed in the middle and a closet with built-in hangers. A small bathroom is joined to the room, but there’s no door. The toilet, sink, and cramped shower is barely enough to stave off claustrophobia. I’m sure he’ll complain about the door—or the lack thereof—but really, I’m being nice considering the size. Most of the comforts my previous boy enjoyed have been removed. It takes time to earn those luxuries. I like to leave some rewards in the room like blankets, pillows, and even a limited amount of clothing. It’s not out of kindness, really. It serves my purpose to give him things I can take away when he rebels as he learns his new role in life—and he will rebel.

I’m pleased with how everything is coming together. The room between us has already been fixed to my specifications—it’s a place for me to play with my new acquisition. It’s the one room that I wouldn’t let the servants touch. It didn’t need much anyway, but the cell is ready for any significant disobedience. I can’t stop my evil grin because no matter how well I explain someone’s new life to them, they always end up there. Thankfully, I have cameras in all three of the rooms, so I’ll get to enjoy the show as he breaks, and as I mold him into my perfect boy.

As the servants leave, Luca walks in holding a file.

“I have all the information you requested,” he notifies me with a disapproving look, barely able to meet my eyes.

“Give me the highlights.”

“Name is Emilio, but he goes by Lio typically. Mother is deceased, father unknown. Interestingly, Cliff isn’t his full brother, although I’m not sure if they’re aware of that. It came from the blood work when the mother was in the hospital, and of course, I accessed Emilio’s medical file. We already have Cliff’s. Different fathers,” he states tiredly. I’m sure he didn’t sleep much as he worked to find out everything there possibly was to know about Emilio for me.

He pauses for a moment. I’m not sure why he’s scowling now, but it could be due to my gleeful expression. Knowledge is power, and that’s a good find I can use against Emilio. I try out Lio mentally, but I’m not sure how I feel about the nickname. It’s not like he’ll retain his name anyway, so I dismiss it.

“What else have you found?” I question, gesturing for him to finish.

“He’s…different. Much different than your normal choices. He’s a junior in college. Very young. He’s only nineteen. Extremely intelligent. Everyone in the mathematics department I was able to speak to had glowing recommendations. He’ll be the type to be missed. Aside from his high IQ, which testing shows is among the top percentile, he’s rather oblivious about life. He’s never dated, and nobody can figure out if he’s gay, straight, or other. He’s had both sexes flirt with him, but he didn’t respond. The professors can’t decide if he’s legitimately clueless about being flirted with or simply uninterested in sex,” Luca stops briefly and shifts uncomfortably. “He’s so young, with his whole life ahead of him and his disappearance won’t go unnoticed. After the last boy…”

Luca abruptly halts when he sees the fury on my face. He knows this is not his decision to make. I’m in charge, and it seems like my friend needs a reminder who is Il Padrone here.

“Everything you said increases my interest. I’ll enjoy making him my best boy ever. At least you’d better hope for that outcome. Because once he’s here, you’re going to be the one to cover his disappearance. Oh, and instead of giving him a life to go back to, I want you to completely ruin him. There will be nothing but ashes left when you’re done, correct? Because I know you’re worried about what I want and don’t really care about my new toy, right?” I end the last question with a deadly quiet voice that reinforces my position. I see his face go grey, and I’m satisfied I’ve made my point.

It’s too bad I had to do that, but it’s necessary. At least this means Lio is going nowhere, and when I’m bored, I’ll simply find a solution to take care of the problem. With a quick wave, I dismiss Luca and decide to recheck all three rooms. After all, I need it all perfect for the new property I’ve acquired. This time, I can’t stop the laugh from escaping. Really, I don’t even try. This is going to be perfect.

About the Author

Leigh is a dark M/M romance author from Texas with two needy terrors of terriers and a chaotic family. She considers coffee a major food group and her family fears broken coffeemakers. She writes in her spare time, forced to the keyboard by characters entirely too vocal in her opinion and often falls victim to plot monkeys. In between creating mayhem with her characters and friends, her hope is to transport readers to fictional places and provide darkness with a twist.

Il Padrone Life Teaser

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Blog Tour · Interview · New Release

Guest Post & Interview with C F White

Hiya…

 

I have a special post today, which includes an interview with my guest, the wonderful C F White, with her new release: Fade To Blank…

 

 

BLOG TOUR

Book Title: Fade to Blank (London Lies # 1)

Author: C F White

Publisher: Self-published

Cover Artist: Rhys Everly-Lawless

Genre/s: Contemporary M/M Romantic Suspense

Trope/s: Slow burn, hurt/comfort

Themes: Enemies to lovers, Revenge, Secrets, Mystery

Heat Rating: 3 flames

Length: 78 000 words/ 280 pages

It’s the first book in a new series.

Book 2 is coming later in the year. Book 1 ends on a HFN for the couple.

Goodreads

 

Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

Universal Link | Amazon US | Amazon UK

 

A celebrity accused of murder. A writer needing his big break. The lies that tie them together.

 

Blurb

Accused of a murder he didn’t commit, vilified celebrity Jackson Young enlists the help of a rookie journalist to clear his name and write his biography.

Jackson has a secret though. One he must keep from becoming public. But Fletcher’s dreamy green eyes, Irish drawl and effortless charm makes it hard to suppress those long-buried feelings, even if it could compromise his innocence.

Uncovering the murky past behind Jackson’s rise to fame, Fletcher grows closer to a man he’d once declared as talentless, and their intense attraction starts to affect not only his professional integrity but the life he’d made since moving to London.

Falling for the subject of his book could be fatal for Fletcher, and Jackson should know better than to trust a journalist.

Fade to Blank is the first book in the London Lies trilogy set in 1999, and is a slow burn, enemies to lovers, hurt/comfort romantic suspense.

 

Excerpt

Fletcher drew troubled eyebrows in. “Are you okay?” he asked.

“Okay? Okay?” Jackson breathed out a laugh that was more a release of pent up anguish. He’d always been taught to laugh in the face of adversity. He hadn’t been able to do much of that lately. Any flicker of amusement seeping out when in Flaymore would only have been captured by an inmate wanting a name for himself and used against him in the media. He rubbed his stinging eyes. “My girlfriend is dead. Someone strangled her whilst I was passed out in the other room. The world thinks I did it. I’ve spent six months inside because I wasn’t granted bail. This morning I wasn’t told that I was free because they believed I didn’t do it. They just couldn’t prove that I did. I can’t quite see how I would be okay after all that. Do you?”

Perhaps that was too blunt. Too much, too soon? Perhaps all this seeking the truth was coming across more selfish than he’d anticipated. It was. But the world was pointing at him. So he needed to prove his innocence to force people to look at who might have killed her, instead of allowing them to tie the noose around his neck.

And on that thought, his heart almost stopped. So the desperation kicked in. “I need you. Your help.”

Fletcher softened before him. “Okay,” he said. “Go on. Why would I, the fella you tried to knock out due to one bad review, want to write another article about you?”

“I want more than an article. And you’ll have a ready and waiting readership for this. It’ll rocket you to a fortune you never knew existed.”

“Wind your neck in, lad, that’s a touch arrogant there.”

“Arrogance doesn’t equal guilt.” Jackson leapt up from leaning against his bike, new found energy resumed. “Nor does it equal untalented.”

Fletcher glanced away, flicking his gaze back just as quick. “What are you talking here, then? A featured piece?”

Jackson forced a smile. “A full exposé of Jackson Young and why he isn’t the man he’s been depicted as in the media of late.”

“So this is all about you? Not… Tallulah?”

Jackson sucked in a breath at her name. It still stabbed at his heart, strangled his chest, erupted bile into his throat. He wondered if it would ever stop.

Scrubbing fingers across his perspiring forehead, Jackson had to find the right way to explain what he needed. What he had to do before it was too late and this was all hidden under the carpet as so many of the lies and manipulations already had been. He wasn’t sure how far he should go. How much he should admit he knew. There was the whole story. And there was his story.

“I was arrested for something I didn’t do,” he settled on. “I’ve been painted in the media as a monster. Pretty much all my friends and family have abandoned me because they believe people like you.”

“People like me?”

“People with the ability to write words and print them for the public to read, to believe and to act upon.”

“I never wrote about what happened to her. I’ve avoided talking about you, or her, since.”

“I know. Now I want you to.”

Jackson waited for the faint glimmer of understanding to work its way across Fletcher’s face. He had to know this would be the ultimate scoop for him. A writer, a journalist, a gossip columnist…whatever the man claimed to be, if he took this opportunity he could retire.

“I don’t write news. I write…gossip.” It sounded a lot like he hated to say that word, and his gaze blinked away from Jackson toward the glass frontage of London Lights HQ.

“I don’t want you to write for a paper. I don’t want this to be news, or gossip. This is the truth. My truth.”

“I’m not sure my editor will buy into it.” Fletcher sighed. “And if she did, she’d pass it onto the more seasoned journalists.”

“I don’t want your editor. I don’t want this in your poxy magazine.” Jackson spat the word, nodding toward the office block in contempt. He wanted nothing to do with any of that. Especially not London Lights. “This has got to be independent.”

“I don’t understand. I thought you wanted an exposé?”

Jackson stepped forward, a hair’s breadth from Fletcher, so close he could taste the man’s coffee breath. “Ever want to write something different? Something good. Something that could make a name for yourself away from the trash rags? Don’t you want to see your name on a shelf?”

“What type of shelf?”

“A book shelf. I want you to write my biography. So if you ever wanted your fortune handed on a plate, Fletcher Doherty…” Jackson held out his arms. “It’s here.”

 

 

A warm welcome and big thank you to my guest C F White – who incidentally has the most excellent taste in ice cream – for our interview…

 

 

Tell us a little about yourself and your writing goals.

Hi, I’m C F White and I write contemporary British gay romance. I have to add the British in there as my books all do tend to stay in or around London as that’s where I live. My tag line kinda sums up what you can expect from me and my books: Romance, mainly. Gritty, often. Love, always. It means you can expect a bit of angst, a bit of gritty realism but a HEA always guaranteed – even if it’s a long time getting there! 

Writing goals are to keep on writing! 

 

Congratulations on your new release. Please tell us a little bit about it. What’s your favorite aspect or part of the story? Do you have a favorite character? Who/Why?

My latest book is the first in yet another three-book series. I have a thing about writing in trilogies! Fade to Blank (London Lies #1) is a romantic suspense set in 1999 and centres around Jackson Young, one half of UK TVs presenting dream team, who is serving time for the suspected murder of his socialite girlfriend. But with no evidence to convict, he is released with a fierce determination to clear his name that has been smeared in the mud by the press. He enlists the help of Fletcher Doherty, a writer stuck in the reviews and gossip column of the newest online magazine, who has had enough of chasing gossip and uncovering scandals for a celebrity hungry nation. The potential to elevate his career and reap the royalties that such a book would bring, ultimately make Fletcher accept the job that no one should want.

But there’s a murky story beneath Jackson Young’s rise to fame and the two men find themselves entangled into a web of lies and manipulation that runs deep into the underbelly of British television. There are people determined to silence Fletcher from giving Jackson a mouthpiece. But with every word written and every fact checked, Fletcher peels away the layers that had made up the captivating persona of Jax to reveal the true, vulnerable man underneath. He’s unable to walk away despite the threat to his career, his relationship, and the life he’d made for himself since settling in London.

Fade to Blank starts the series off with a slow burn, enemies to lovers romance fizzling between Jackson and Fletcher and that’s the part I loved writing—creating that unresolved sexual tension and seeing them fight with each other about their true feelings. I couldn’t say that I liked one character over the other and Jax and Fletch kinda come as a package.  

 

Are you a planner or a pantser? How much do you know about your story before you start writing? How often does your plan change? Why does this work best for you?

Complete pantser. I can’t plan. I’ve tried it and I hate it. I feel like the book is already written if I plan. I prefer to be surprised where it goes, much like the reader! I tend to start with a basic idea, I’ll know where I want to go with it, where it needs to end. Then I just write and see what happens. It’s worked out so far, there’s only been a couple of occasions I’ve slipped up and fallen into a plot hole.

 

Do deadlines motivate you or block you? How do you deal with them?

I try ever so hard not to give myself deadlines. But to be honest, they do tend to motivate me otherwise I would tinker forever. 

 

Do you schedule a certain amount of time for writing each day/week, or do you just work it in when you can? Would you like to change this, or does your current method work well for you?

I fit writing in as and when I can. I work full time and have two kids, one with special needs to writing oftentimes takes a back seat to everything else. It’s why I do a lot of drafts online first, it means I can write on the go, directly onto my phone. So, no, I don’t have a schedule. I see and free window, I sit down and write. I’d love to be able to set aside time but for the time being, I have to stick to this method. I’d probably discover if I did schedule time to write then the words wouldn’t come to me. 

 

What was the most difficult part of writing this book? Why?

Keeping the suspense going. As I knew this was going to be spun over three books, it was hard to keep everything in and not give it all away to start with. I actually started the whole book without knowing what happened, which helped keep up the suspense and mystery for myself. I know now! 

 

What are your favorite genres when it comes to your own pleasure reading? Do you prefer to read ebooks or print?

I tend to go for the romantic suspense or mystery and crime elements within an MM romance. I love a complex plot series over multiple books with that slow burn that has you screaming at the couple to just do it already! Josh Lanyon, Gergory Ashe, Dal MacLean, Cole McCade, A E Ryecart are all authors I admire and read regularly. And I do favour an ebook. I like to collect paperbacks but I won’t read from them anymore. They’re more for display. And signatures! 

 

What is your writing Kryptonite?

Social Media. 

 

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

To keep writing. And reading. To trust in my own words and not compare myself to others. My voice is my voice. No one can be a better me than me 😊 

 

What is your favorite underappreciated novel?

Won’t Be Fooled Again (St Cross 2). It’s the least read and bought novel of mine. It’s the second in a series but it’s vastly different from the first. It’s a friends to lovers story that deal with quite a few issues—addiction, abandonment, poverty, disability, interracial relationships. It’s a raw and emotional story but I think as it’s book 2 people think they have to have read book one, but they really don’t. I wish more people did pick it up. 

What do you think about when you’re alone in your car?

My book usually! I make playlists for my books I’m working on that I’ll play in the car to help me think about scenes. It’s a great motivator. I just need a car that will then write my book for me whilst stuck in traffic. 

 

What was your favorite toy growing up?

A teddy bear I named Chunky. It was a Christmas present from my nan and grandad who died when I was fairly young. I slept with it, took it everywhere and even came to university with me. It was so squashed and ripped from how hard I hugged it when I finally had to give it up to the dustbin in my mid-twenties. 

 

What is your favorite ice cream flavor?

Haagan Dasz Pralines and Cream. 

 

Who would play you in a movie about your life?

Pheobe Waller Bridge from Fleabag. I love her humour and writing! 

 

INSTAGRAM 2

 

About the Author

Brought up in a relatively small town in Hertfordshire, C F White managed to do what most other residents try to do and fail—leave.

Studying at a West London university, she realised there was a whole city out there waiting to be discovered, so, much like Dick Whittington before her, she never made it back home and still endlessly search for the streets paved with gold, slowly coming to the realisation they’re mostly paved with chewing gum. And the odd bit of graffiti. And those little circles of yellow spray paint where the council point out the pot holes to someone who is supposedly meant to fix them instead of staring at them vacantly whilst holding a polystyrene cup of watered-down coffee.

She eventually moved West to East along that vast District Line and settled for pie and mash, cockles and winkles and a bit of Knees Up Mother Brown to live in the East End of London; securing a job and creating a life, a home and a family.

After her second son was born with a rare disability, C F White’s life changed and brought pen back to paper having written stories as a child but never the confidence to show them to the world. Now, having embarked on this writing journey, she can’t stop. So strap in, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

 

Follow C F White

Twitter @CFWhiteUK | Facebook | Blog

Instagram | Newsletter Sign-up

 

 

 

Giveaway

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a full ebook box set of The District Line novels

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Blog Tour · Guest

Guest: The Stark Divide by J. Scott Coatsworth

Hi… I’ll post an update to My Way later today, but in the meantime…I’d like to welcome my special guest, the fabulous J. Scott Coatsworth…

 

The Stark Divide - J. Scott Coatsworth

 

J. Scott Coatsworth has a new queer sci fi book out book one in the Ariadne Cycle: “The Stark Divide.” This is a re-release.

 

***

 

 

Some stories are epic.

The Earth is in a state of collapse, with wars breaking out over resources and an environment pushed to the edge by human greed.

Three living generation ships have been built with a combination of genetic mastery, artificial intelligence, technology, and raw materials harvested from the asteroid belt. This is the story of one of them—43 Ariadne, or Forever, as her inhabitants call her—a living world that carries the remaining hopes of humanity, and the three generations of scientists, engineers, and explorers working to colonize her.

From her humble beginnings as a seedling saved from disaster to the start of her journey across the void of space toward a new home for the human race, The Stark Divide tells the tales of the world, the people who made her, and the few who will become something altogether beyond human.

Humankind has just taken its first step toward the stars.

 

Get It On Amazon


 

BANNER2 - The Stark Divide

Giveaway

Scott is giving away a $25 Amazon gift card with this tour, and a signed paperback trilogy of the Oberon Cycle (Skythane, Lander and Ithani) – two winners! Enter via Rafflecopter for a chance to win.

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Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d47131/?


Excerpt

“Dressler, schematic,” Colin McAvery, ship’s captain and a third of the crew, called out to the ship-mind.

A three-dimensional image of the ship appeared above the smooth console. Her five living arms, reaching out from her central core, were lit with a golden glow, and the mechanical bits of instrumentation shone in red. In real life, she was almost two hundred meters from tip to tip.

Between those arms stretched her solar wings, a ghostly green film like the sails of the Flying Dutchman.

“You’re a pretty thing,” he said softly. He loved these ships, their delicate beauty as they floated through the starry void.

“Thank you, Captain.” The ship-mind sounded happy with the compliment—his imagination running wild. Minds didn’t have real emotions, though they sometimes approximated them.

He cross-checked the heading to be sure they remained on course to deliver their payload, the man-sized seed that was being dragged on a tether behind the ship. Humanity’s ticket to the stars at a time when life on Earth was getting rapidly worse.

All of space was spread out before him, seen through the clear expanse of plasform set into the ship’s living walls. His own face, trimmed blond hair, and deep brown eyes, stared back at him, superimposed over the vivid starscape.

At thirty, Colin was in the prime of his career. He was a starship captain, and yet sometimes he felt like little more than a bus driver. After this run… well, he’d have to see what other opportunities might be awaiting him. Maybe the doc was right, and this was the start of a whole new chapter for mankind. They might need a guy like him.

The walls of the bridge emitted a faint but healthy golden glow, providing light for his work at the curved mechanical console that filled half the room. He traced out the T-Line to their destination. “Dressler, we’re looking a little wobbly.” Colin frowned. Some irregularity in the course was common—the ship was constantly adjusting its trajectory—but she usually corrected it before he noticed.

“Affirmative, Captain.” The ship-mind’s miniature chosen likeness appeared above the touch board. She was all professional today, dressed in a standard AmSplor uniform, dark hair pulled back in a bun, and about a third life-sized.

The image was nothing more than a projection of the ship-mind, a fairy tale, but Colin appreciated the effort she took to humanize her appearance. Artificial mind or not, he always treated minds with respect.

“There’s a blockage in arm four. I’ve sent out a scout to correct it.”

The Dressler was well into slowdown now, her pre-arrival phase as she bled off her speed, and they expected to reach 43 Ariadne in another fifteen hours.

Pity no one had yet cracked the whole hyperspace thing. Colin chuckled. Asimov would be disappointed. “Dressler, show me Earth, please.”

A small blue dot appeared in the middle of his screen.

Dressler, three dimensions, a bit larger, please.” The beautiful blue-green world spun before him in all its glory.

Appearances could be deceiving. Even with scrubbers working tirelessly night and day to clean the excess carbon dioxide from the air, the home world was still running dangerously warm.

He watched the image in front of him as the East Coast of the North American Union spun slowly into view. Florida was a sliver of its former self, and where New York City’s lights had once shone, there was now only blue. If it had been night, Fargo, the capital of the Northern States, would have outshone most of the other cities below. The floods that had wiped out many of the world’s coastal cities had also knocked down Earth’s population, which was only now reaching the levels it had seen in the early twenty-first century.

All those new souls had been born into a warm, arid world.

We did it to ourselves. Colin, who had known nothing besides the hot planet he called home, wondered what it had been like those many years before the Heat.

###

Anastasia Anatov leafed through her father, Dimitri’s, old paper journal. She liked to look through it once a day, to see his spidery handwriting and remember what he had been like. It was a bit old and dusty now, but it was one of her most cherished possessions.

She sighed and put it away in a storage nook in her lab.

She left the room and pulled herself gracefully along the runway, the central corridor of the ship, using the metal rungs embedded in the walls. She was much more comfortable in low or zero g than she was in Earth normal, where her tall, lanky form made her feel awkward around others. She was a loner at heart, and the emptiness of space appealed to her.

Her father had designed the Mission-class ships. It was something she rarely spoke of, but she was intensely proud of him. These ships were still imperfect, the combination of a hellishly complicated genetic code and after-the-fact fittings of mechanical parts, like the rungs she used now to move through the weightless environment.

Ana wondered if it hurt when someone drilled into the living tissue to install the mechanics, living quarters, and observation blisters that made the ship habitable. Her father had always maintained that the ship-minds felt no pain.

She wasn’t so sure. Men were often dismissive of the things they didn’t understand.

Either way, she was stuck on the small ship for the duration with two men, neither of whom were interested in her. The captain was gay, and Jackson was married.

Too bad the ship roster hadn’t included another woman or two.

She placed her hand on a hardened sensor callus next to the door valve and the ship obliged, recognizing her. The door spiraled open to show the viewport beyond.

She pulled herself into the room and floated before the wide expanse of transparent plasform, staring out at the seed being hauled behind them.

Nothing else mattered. Whatever she had to do to get this project launched, she would do it. She’d already made some morally questionable choices along the way—including looking the other way when a bundle of cash had changed hands at the Institute.

She was so close now, and she couldn’t let anything get in the way.

Earth was a lost cause. It was only a matter of time before the world imploded. Only the seeds could give mankind a fighting chance to go on.

From the viewport, there was little to see. The seed was a two-meter-long brown ovoid, made of a hard, dark organic material, scarred and pitted by the continual abrasion of the dust that escaped the great sails. So cold out there, but the seed was dormant, unfeeling.

The cold would keep it that way until the time came for its seedling stage.

She’d created three of the seeds with her funding. This one, bound for the asteroid 43 Ariadne, was the first. It was the next step in evolution beyond the Dressler and carried with it the hopes of all humankind.

It also represented ten years of her life and work.

Maybe, just maybe, we’re ready for the next step.

###

The crew’s third and final member, Jackson Hammond, hung upside down in the ship’s hold, grunting as he refit one of the feed pipes that carried the ship’s electronics through the bowels of this weird animal-mechanical hybrid. Although “up” and “down” were slight on a ship where the centrifugal force created a “gravity” only a fraction of what it was on Earth.

As the ship’s engineer, Jackson was responsible for keeping the mechanics functioning—a challenge in a living organism like the Dressler.

With cold, hard metal, one dealt with the occasional metal fatigue, poor workmanship, and at times just ass-backward reality. But the parts didn’t regularly grow or shrink, and it wasn’t always necessary to rejigger the ones that had fit perfectly just the day before. Even after ten years in these things, he still found it a little creepy to be riding inside the belly of the beast. It was too Jonah and the Whale for his taste.

Jackson rubbed the sweat away from his eyes with the back of his arm. As he shaved down the end of a pipe to make it fit more snugly against the small orifice in the ship’s wall, he touched the little silver cross that hung around his neck. It had been a present from his priest, Father Vincenzo, at his son Aaron’s First Communion in the Reformed Catholic Evangelical Church.

The boy was seven years old now, with a shock of red hair and green eyes like his dad, and his mother’s beautiful skin. He’d spent months preparing for his Communion Day, and Jackson remembered fondly the moment when his son had taken the Body and Blood of Christ for the first time, surprise registering on his little face at the strange taste of the wine.

Aaron’s Communion Day had been a high point for Jackson, just a week before his current mission. He was so proud of his two boys. Miss you guys. I’ll be home soon.

Lately he hadn’t been sleeping well, his dreams filled with a dark-haired, blue-eyed vixen. He was happily married. He shouldn’t be having such dreams.

Jackson shook his head. Being locked up in a tin can in space did strange things to a person sometimes. I should be home with Glory and the boys.

One way or another, this mission would be his last.

He’d been recruited as a teen.

###

At thirteen, Jackson had learned the basics of engineering doing black-tech work for the gangs that ran what was left of the Big Apple after the Rise—a warren of interconnected skyrises, linked mostly by boats and ropes and makeshift bridges.

Everything north of Twenty-Third was controlled by the Hex, a black-tech co-op that specialized in bootlegged dreamcasts, including modified versions that catered to some of the more questionable tastes of the North American States. South of Twenty-Third belonged to the Red Badge, a lawless group of technophiles involved in domestic espionage and wetware arts.

Jackson had grown up in the drowned city, abandoned by his mother and forced to rely on his own intelligence and instincts to survive in a rapidly changing world.

He’d found his way to the Red Badge and discovered a talent for ecosystem work, taking over and soon expanding one of the rooftop farms that supplied the drowned city with a subsistence diet. An illegal wetware upgrade let him tap directly into the systems he worked on, seeing the circuits and pathways in his head.

He increased the Badge’s food production fivefold and branched out beyond the nearly tasteless molds and edible fungi that thrived in the warm, humid environment.

It was on one of his rooftop “gardens” that his life had changed one warm summer evening.

He was underneath one of the condenser units that pulled water from the air for irrigation. All of eighteen years old, he was responsible for the food production for the entire Red Badge.

He’d run through the unit’s diagnostics app to no avail. Damned piece of shit couldn’t find a thing wrong.

In the end, it had come down to something purely physical—tightening down a pipe bolt where the condenser interfaced with the irrigation system.

Satisfied with the work, he stood, wiping the sweat off his bare chest, and glared into the setting sun out over the East River. It was more an inland sea now, but the old names still stuck.

There was a faint whirring behind him, and he spun around. A bug drone hovered about a foot away, glistening in the sun. He stared at it for a moment, then reached out to swat it down. Probably from the Hex.

It evaded his grasp, and he felt a sharp pain in his neck.

He went limp, and everything turned black as he tumbled into one of his garden beds.

He awoke in Fargo, recruited by AmSplor to serve in the space agency’s Frontier Station, his life changed irrevocably.

###

A strange sensation brought him back to the present.

His right hand was wet. Startled, he looked down. It was covered with blood.

Dressler, we have a problem, he said through his private affinity-link with the ship-mind.”

 

BANNER1 - The Stark Divide


 

Author Bio

J. Scott CoatsworthScott lives with his husband Mark in a yellow bungalow in Sacramento. He was indoctrinated into fantasy and sci fi by his mother at the tender age of nine. He devoured her library, but as he grew up, he wondered where all the people like him were.

He decided that if there weren’t queer characters in his favorite genres, he would remake them to his own ends.

A Rainbow Award winning and runs Queer Sci Fi, QueeRomance Ink, Liminal Fiction, and Other Worlds Ink with Mark, sites that celebrate fiction reflecting queer reality, and is a full member member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA).

 

MEME3 - The Stark Divide

Author Website: https://www.jscottcoatsworth.com/

Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/jscottcoatsworth

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Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jscottcoatsworth/

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Author QueeRomance Ink: Liminal Fiction: https://www.limfic.com/mbm-book-author/j-scott-coatsworth/

Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/J.-Scott-Coatsworth/e/B011AFO4OQ

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Book Blast · Guest

Book Blast: Confessions of a Gay Curmudgeon by Andy V. Ambrose

Good morning, I have a special guest today…

A very warm welcome to Andy V. Ambrose and the irresistibly titled Confessions of a Gay Curmudgeon.

 

BOOK BLAST

Book Title: Confessions of a Gay Curmudgeon

Author: Andy V. Ambrose

Publisher: Nine Star Press

Cover Artist: Natasha Snow

Release Date: September 2, 2019

Genres: Contemporary, Literary/Genre Fiction

Theme: Older gay man searching for love

Heat Rating: 4 flames

Length: 62 100 words/292 pages

It is a standalone story.

Warning: references to non-consensual situations, no HEA or HFN

Add on Goodreads

 

Buy Links

Nine Star Press

Amazon US | Amazon UK

 

 

Blurb

Confessions of a Gay Curmudgeon recounts the adventures of Viktor, a fifty-year-old gay man in New York City trying to get back into the land of the living after the breakup of a twelve-year relationship. The novel examines the lives of a group of middle-aged gay men, exploring new facets of their sexuality while dealing with all the changes middle age brings.

INSTAGRAM

 

Excerpt

 

SATURDAY AFTERNOON—FLOUNDERING

My erections aren’t what they used to be.

Well, Dr. S told me to write about the first thing that comes into my mind, so it’s what I’m doing. “Don’t think. Just write,” he said. “Stop censoring yourself, Viktor. This will help you in your therapy too, Viktor.”

Okay, okay. If that’s what the shrink ordered, let’s see if this works. We’re supposed to listen to our shrinks, right? That’s their job, right? They know how to get us out of whatever fucking funk we’re in, right?

So here we go. I’m writing about the first thing that comes to my mind and it’s my erections. Here it is, a lovely Saturday afternoon, sun shining, snow melting, spring a’coming, a perfect time to enjoy life. And what am I doing? Sulking in my apartment obsessing about my cock.

Hell of a problem to have on a day like today, isn’t it? Shit, be honest, Viktor. You’re supposed to be honest with this writing thing, aren’t you? That was Dr. S’s other directive, wasn’t it? Honesty. He was full of directives last session, wasn’t he? Oh well, maybe I need some directives.

So where was I? Oh yes. Gorgeous day, shitty mood, focusing on my cock when I should be enjoying life.

Oh, come on. It’s not just about my cock. I know that. After all, I did my share of screwing around when I was younger. Not that I was the biggest stud around in my heyday, but during those few glorious weeks my sex life got going, I learned how to have a good time. Yes, I did! But then I met Gio and fell in love. And he fell in love with me. And we had twelve years of bliss—more or less—until he left me last year.

“And I’ve been floundering ever since. Floundering? Ha! Flopping around is more like it. So I’ve been seeing Dr. S—ahem, Dr. Singsirinavin—I’ve been seeing him to help me out of this predicament. Seems like a nice enough guy, serious, quiet, with a scrawny body and a bit of an accent, though I’ll be damned if I know from where exactly. These shrinks never tell you anything about themselves, do they? I’ve been seeing Dr. S for a year already, and you would think by now I’d have an idea, but I don’t. To tell the truth, I don’t have much of an idea about anything, including whether he’s helping me.
But I’m trying. Goddamn it, I’m trying, you’ve got to give me that. Didn’t put all my eggs in one basket, either. Went to my primary-care guy too, to complain about my cock. Dr. Agnostulopolini. Different accent, different mystery country. Had to change doctors when my cheapo company switched insurances and I had to find someone new.

“And I’ve been floundering ever since. Floundering? Ha! Flopping around is more like it. So I’ve been seeing Dr. S—ahem, Dr. Singsirinavin—I’ve been seeing him to help me out of this predicament. Seems like a nice enough guy, serious, quiet, with a scrawny body and a bit of an accent, though I’ll be damned if I know from where exactly. These shrinks never tell you anything about themselves, do they? I’ve been seeing Dr. S for a year already, and you would think by now I’d have an idea, but I don’t. To tell the truth, I don’t have much of an idea about anything, including whether he’s helping me.

“And I’ve been floundering ever since. Floundering? Ha! Flopping around is more like it. So I’ve been seeing Dr. S—ahem, Dr. Singsirinavin—I’ve been seeing him to help me out of this predicament. Seems like a nice enough guy, serious, quiet, with a scrawny body and a bit of an accent, though I’ll be damned if I know from where exactly. These shrinks never tell you anything about themselves, do they? I’ve been seeing Dr. S for a year already, and you would think by now I’d have an idea, but I don’t. To tell the truth, I don’t have much of an idea about anything, including whether he’s helping me.
“But I’m trying. Goddamn it, I’m trying, you’ve got to give me that. Didn’t put all my eggs in one basket, either. Went to my primary-care guy too, to complain about my cock. Dr. Agnostulopolini. Different accent, different mystery country. Had to change doctors when my cheapo company switched insurances and I had to find someone new. He doesn’t know anything about me and doesn’t seem to care, either. Every time I ask a question, the side of his face twitches like he’s having a stroke. “Doctor,” I said last time, “my libido seems to have disappeared.”
“You know, it does fall off with age,” he says. Translation: you’re getting old.
“But not this suddenly, Doctor. Could it be the new blood pressure medicine you prescribed?” Translation: Fuck you. Don’t give me that you’re-getting-old shit. I’m fifty. That’s not old.”

 

 

About the Author

Andy V Ambrose grew up in the Boston area and moved to New York City after college. He worked in book publishing for many years, wearing many hats: Editorial, Copyediting, Proofreading, and Production. This is his first novel featuring Viktor, a fifty-year-old gay man trying to get back into the world of the living after the end of a twelve-year relationship. To relax, Andy loves to ride his bike, read, watch foreign and independent movies, and travel. He’s only made it to three continents so far but hopes to visit the rest soon. He lives in New York City.

 

Social Media Links

Website | Instagram

 

 

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Follow the tour and check out the other blog posts here

 

Guest · Release Blitz

Release Blitz – Nell Iris

Hiya…❤️🎄❤️
I interrupt this story to bring you a far more festive read from the wonderful Nell Iris:

❤️🎄❤️🎄❤️🎄❤️

 

 

Red Popcorn Strings & Gumball Rings

 

 

 

❤️🎄❤️🎄❤️🎄❤️

 

❤️🎄❤️🎄❤️🎄❤️

 

 

INSTAPROMO-112

 

Publisher: JMS Books

 

 

 

Blurb

 

 

Young couple Ellis and Casey’s Christmas is set to be a lean one. Struggling financially, they’re only able to manage the most basic needs for their holiday celebration. They can’t afford luxuries like a turkey. Or decorations. Or presents. Between the recent death of Casey’s beloved momma, and Ellis’ estrangement from his family, all they have is each other.

When Ellis finds the saddest looking Christmas tree south of the Mason-Dixon line thrown outside his workplace and brings it home to Casey, things look up. Because what more do you need to have a Merry Christmas than enthusiasm, ingenuity, and someone to love?

❤️🎄❤️🎄❤️🎄❤️

 

 

Nell Iris is a romantic at heart who believes everyone deserves a happy ending. She’s a bona fide bookworm (learned to read long before she started school), wouldn’t dream of going anywhere without something to read (not even the ladies’ room), loves music (and singing along but, let’s face it, she’s no Celine Dion), and is a real Star Trek nerd (“Make it so”). She loves words, poetry, wine, and Sudoku, and absolutely adores elephants!

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


Nell is a forty-something bisexual Swedish woman, married to the love of her life, and a proud mama of a grown daughter. She left the Scandinavian cold and darkness for warmer and sunnier Malaysia a few years ago, and now spends her days writing, surfing the Internet, enjoying the heat, and eating good food. One day she decided to chase her lifelong dream of being a writer, sat down in front of her laptop, and wrote a story about two men falling in love.


Nell Iris writes gay romance, prefers sweet over angst, and wants to write diverse and different characters.


Email contact@nelliris.com

Web www.nelliris.com
Twitter @nellirisauthor
Facebook page www.facebook.com/nellirisauthor
Facebook profile www.facebook.com/nell.iris.12
Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/nelliris
Instagram https://www.instagram.com/nell_iris/
QueeRomance Ink https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/nell-iris/

❤️🎄❤️🎄❤️🎄❤️

 

 

 

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❤️🎄❤️🎄❤️🎄❤️


Tour Tales

Trilogy Tour

Hiya,

I’ve pressed ‘publish’ so with a bit o’luck, it should go live tomorrow and I will be able to make it free from mon-fri.  I’ve booked a mini-tour with the wonderful gay book promotions and will be here, there ‘n’ everywhere with the very lovely people listed below. Thank you so much, in advance, for having me.

THE DUKE SCHEDULE

I’ve updated the cover a tad, to differentiate it from The Prince & The Prowler a mite more, while staying true to the heart of the story, as ’twere. The cravat pin appears in all three books, so it felt the perfect cover for the trilogy.

TRIL1

 

❤🖤❤

 

 

Guest

Guest Book: Outshined

Hiya,

The moment I read the blurb I suspected that I would love this story. It was everything I hoped…and more. True tenderness entwined with intensity, and characters as fabulous as they are flawed. My holy trinity for five star reads.

Cameron & Tim’s mental health issues were intrinsic parts of their characters, rather than tacked on top to add tension or heft. Influencing the way they related to the world and functioned within it, rather than serving as a dramatic device to create depth where none exists.

Outshined will take its place on my shelf alongside ‘Beneath The Stain’ as a beautifully written & much beloved rock read.

 

RELEASE BLITZ

Book Title: Outshined

Author: Clancy Nacht & Thursday Euclid

Publisher: Eine Kleine Press

Cover Artist: Thursday Euclid

Release Date: April 16, 2019

Genre/s: 90s (late 20th century) M/M Romance

Trope/s: figuring out he’s gay

Themes: Mental illness, first love

Heat Rating: 3-4 flames

Length: 79 000 words/ 266 pages

 

Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

Universal Link

Amazon US

Amazon UK

 

OUTSHINED BLURB.jpg

Excerpt

Tall Thicket, Texas. Home to Tall Thicket State and Woodpeckers football, for those who even fucking cared. Texans or not, most Thicketers knew the Woodpeckers sucked. No one with any talent came to East Texas to play ball, and honestly, the student body didn’t care. In 1993, they had other things on their minds.

Cameron Lord definitely did. Transferring junior year from the massive University of Texas hadn’t been his Plan A, but after the way he fucked up sophomore year in Austin, well, he needed a fresh start. His dad insisted he was lucky Tall Thicket wanted him, and Cameron had argued enough with his dad recently.

Besides, TTSU had a great psych department. So that worked out, probably. When Cameron had graduated high school near the top of his class, everyone figured he’d become a surgeon like his dad, but now…

Well. Fuck it. Just, fuck it, right? Psychologist was close enough, and it’d be less pressure, and he kind of knew about the field firsthand now.

What seemed entirely unfair, honestly, was that despite how much money Cameron’s dad was saving by sending him here, he expected Cameron to hold down a part-time job. On one hand, that was great. Cameron liked his independence, and he hated his dad, so not having to ask him for much suited him fine. On the other hand, if these meds didn’t pan out…

Ha.

If these meds didn’t pan out, Cameron would be losing a lot more than a part-time job. Like, oh, his mind?

After two months on them, he felt different. Not better, just different. More detached. Less moved by emotions. That was probably okay, but Cameron couldn’t tell otherwise.

Living off-campus would be nice, at least, right? He’d been in the dorms his two years at UT; at least now he had some space. His therapist, Lynette, had suggested to Dr. Lord that Cameron have somewhere to get away from over-stimulating social situations, so while he still had a roommate, he had his own bedroom with a lock on the door.

Of course, she’d also suggested he walk everywhere because he maybe shouldn’t drive on his current chemical cocktail, but Cameron refused to give up his chopper. He and his dad had built matching ones together when he was sixteen, and it was all he really had left of that part of his life, now he’d blown up their relationship. At least he still had a cool ride.

For all the good it would do him.

His apartment was a stone’s throw from campus, and walking would’ve been easier than driving a bike in the January-molasses kind of traffic moving across the sprawling grounds. By the time he’d done orientation, gotten his books, and settled in, he was convinced he should have bought sensible walking shoes instead of his heavy Doc Martens.

His dad was always telling him to choose substance over style, but what about when style had the most substance? Sometimes form followed function. Wasn’t that better than ugly practicality?

Which seemed to prove Cameron wasn’t cut out for a surgeon’s job. Psychology seemed like a better fit, personal understanding of mental illness aside.

To emphasize the point, Cameron had observed Tall Thicket was home to some improbably good-looking student bodies. The boy who’d been ahead of him at the bookstore had stolen his breath for a good ten seconds and left him light-headed. A girl who sat beside him at orientation had flustered him until he dropped his pencil. Overall, it was a pretty, pretty school—spectacularly landscaped grounds notwithstanding.

Too bad the meds he was on kind of killed his sex drive, along with numbing any other excitement he might feel. Some would argue that was for the best.

With classes starting next week, there was little for Cameron to do with his weekend besides hunker down and settle in, familiarize himself with the town. It wasn’t as dinky as the one-stoplight towns around these parts, but it was a lot smaller than Austin. He’d still been finding cool new spots there when he left. Here, a bike ride down the main drag would take him past just about everything that mattered.

Might as well get out there.

“Going out?” Mike, Cameron’s new roommate, asked as Cameron strode out his bedroom toward the front door.

Cameron grunted in Mike’s direction and shrugged. What did the guy want from him? They had to live together, and if Cameron had his way, that would mean a lot of ships-in-the-night action, not a buddy flick.

“Have fun.” Mike seemed untroubled by Cameron’s attitude and turned his attention back to his grainy recording of Seinfeld.

With two raised fingers, Cameron saluted briefly and headed out. Within moments he was pulling his long hair back into a low ponytail and settling a black helmet on his head. Then he was on his bike and pulling out of the parking lot, turning onto University and then blazing toward the four-lane highway with a roar. Within moments he’d left behind the landscaped campus for the endless rows of mom-and-pop shops intermingled with chain shops.

Clusters of students milled along the sidewalks and waited at corners to cross. Cameron watched them hungrily, the numbness inside growing teeth and gnawing at him. He longed for the belonging of kids hand-in-hand striding over the crosswalk at least as much as he despised it. Easier to dismiss it altogether, though.

Easier never to want what he couldn’t have. Better. Safer.

Lynette talked about comfort zones and stepping outside them, but Cameron wasn’t certain he could survive that much change all at once. Not right now.

Waiting at the stoplight, he caught a glimpse of golden hair through the plate glass window of a pizza place and his chest seized up. Was that bookshop guy?

Oh man, it was.

Bad idea, right? Such a bad idea. Cameron wasn’t hungry, and that guy was probably straight, and this was East Texas.

The NOW HIRING sign beckoned, and Cameron sighed and gave in. He had only so much willpower to get him through a day, and most of that was focused on basic human tasks like not driving into oncoming traffic and keeping his balls clean.

He eased across traffic and parked diagonally right in front. He wiped suddenly sweaty hands on his ripped jeans and plaid shirt and then hung his helmet from the ape-hangers.

So what if he was going to mix work and play a little?

So what if he was purposely attempting to get a job somewhere with a devastatingly attractive co-worker who’d fuck his head right up?

Self-destruction was in vogue. He’d wear it well. More to journal about, right?

Cameron wasn’t dressed for success, but what did it even matter? It wasn’t Wall Street. They probably weren’t picky, even if he could just hear his dad moaning over the situation.

Inside, the place was filled with customers. How had Cameron even spotted the golden boy from the road past all these people? Friday night dinner had to be prime time.

The blond man stood in front of the ovens, behind the counter. He held a metal spatula that he clanged against something metal above him before he shouted. “Bell, large supreme pie.”

He then slid a box on the counter in front of him. A woman, presumably Bell, joined the line at the cash register. The man squinted past the heat lamps into the lobby. Their eyes met and his brows rose briefly before he gave a quick nod and then spun around to retrieve another pizza out of the oven.

The place was slammed. As soon as one phone was answered, another rang. The woman answering the phones looked older than the rest of the staff, as if she was in charge. She handled putting people on hold with brutal efficiency, taking down orders on paper slips she stacked until someone came from the back to snatch them away, apparently to fulfill them.

For a second, Cameron considered backing out. Just turning around and walking out. He’d worked at the video store during high school, and Friday nights had been like this, but… Man, food service seemed like a whole other animal. Way more intense.

Though fewer shouting matches so far, at least.

As much as Cameron wanted to bail, the way the blond guy seemed to recognize him—had he, though, or was Cameron reading in?—galvanized him. He stood his ground, waited until he was at the counter, and then licked his lips, suddenly nervous. If he hadn’t been medicated, it would’ve been too much. As it was, he copped a swagger and grinned at the folks behind the counter.

“Saw y’all are hiring. Need help?”

“Oh, um.” The young lady at the front counter crouched down, shuffling papers. She pulled out a pad of job application forms with the company logo in the corner. Ripping one off, she handed it to him and gave him a wide, toothy smile. Her lashes fluttered over her pinkening cheeks. “Need a pen?”

The woman at the phones slung one on her shoulder as she leaned forward, squinting at Cameron. “Hey, kid, you eighteen?”

“Twenty,” Cameron countered with a smile he didn’t feel and a challenge he did. He took the application from the girl and held out his hand for a pen, although he had the sense the manager was inclined to skip to the part where she stopped being short-handed.

The metal clang rang out again as the blond man shouted another name and order. A box appeared on top of another. He paused, looking between Cameron and the manager, then whirled around to grab another pizza out.

“Can you start now? Wash a dish or fifty?” The woman smiled. There was a gap between her front teeth. Her hair was frizzy, probably with the heat and humidity. “Minimum wage, but all the pizza you can eat.”

The blond man dropped the pizza on the table, then ran a roller slicer through with lightning speed. His lithe muscles flexed under the fitted golf shirt. It was probably just the heat that made his cheeks rosy. Or was it?

“Yeah, sure, I can wash dishes tonight. I need a uniform for that?” Cameron tried his best not to stare at the hot boy, especially not in front of potential colleagues. What was he even doing?

Why was he doing this to himself?

He’d never even washed dishes, except at home. The video store had been more with the Be-Kind-Rewind and less with the suds.

“Nah, but you’ll want an apron. Tim, you got an extra apron back there for our new hire?” She glanced over at the blond guy who gave a quick nod before shouting another name.

He peeked into the back and then back to his boss. “Yeah, there’s one on the dough table. Might also need boxes later if this keeps up.”

“Shoot.” She grimaced but set the phone on the stand and then threw open the door to the right of the counter. “Well, you’re hired, um… What’s your name?”

“Cameron.” He stepped through the counter door and sized up the other employees. At least his dad couldn’t ride his ass about this now. He met the manager’s gaze and shrugged one shoulder. “Thanks, um…?”

“Nina. Cameron, great name. Don’t think you’ll need a hat for dishes, but we’ll get you one of those, and the shirt and apron. Pants are just plain black. Docs are good; anything with support will do for shoes.” She started toward the back, giving the phones a swift glance. “I’ll just show you the back quick.”

She pointed at the blond guy. “That’s Tim. At the counter is Lisa.”

She walked back to behind the ovens where a harried looking young lady was frantically making pizzas. “This is Heather. Heather, Cameron. He’s going to do dishes.”

Heather looked at Cameron briefly, went back to her pizzas and then looked back again, eyes roving more slowly. “Cool.”

There was a man facing the back wall shoving dough into a machine. It came out oblong. He ran it through again and the dough was round.

Nina scooted past him. “That’s John.”

John turned. His eyes were bloodshot like he’d been smoking not too long ago, but he seemed to be working industriously. “Great, someone else to suck up hours.”

Nina rolled her eyes. “He’s real fun.” She showed Cameron the bathroom, then the walk-in fridge, then around to the sink. Beside it stood a pile of pizza pans almost as tall as he was.

There was a clank from the front and Cameron caught a glimpse of Tim dropping another pan in a growing stack. He gave Cameron a brief smile and gestured with the metal spatula at a table against the wall where an apron lay. “There’s a dishwasher apron in the bathroom that’s more heavy duty. Just gets hot. Up to you. It’s clean.”

“Hot enough already. Thanks.” Cameron shot Tim a look, half-searching and half-bitter. He already kind of hated him. Tim. What a fucking wholesome sounding name. He was probably a real nice boy.

If Cameron had learned anything, it was to mistrust nice boys. You thought they were your friend. That you could trust them. Be real.

Then they freaked out on you and threw you to the wolves.

Turning his back on Tim, Cameron beelined for the apron and pulled it on before rolling up his sleeves and remaking his ponytail at the base of his neck to keep the wild, wavy strands under control.

“Great. Ask Tim if you’ve got questions. Soap’s up top. Sprayer powers out most everything. Don’t burn yourself. Gotta get back to the phones.” Nina flashed him a smile as she patted his shoulder. “Get you to fill out the paperwork later so we can get you paid. I’ll show you the time cards too.”

If Tim was offended by the cold shouldering, he was too busy to show it. He turned to the ovens and got back to work. A radio played the college radio station. It wasn’t loud enough to be heard in the lobby; it was barely loud enough for Cameron to hear over the sprayer.

What he could hear was the rhythmic clank of metal on metal when Tim pulled out a pizza, signaled he was calling a name, and the thump of another pan dropping into the pile. He could also hear Tim calling a name pretty clearly, which was surprising, given how loud everything was. Pretty good projection. Probably a jerk.

Jerk with a good voice though. Strong. Clear.

Cameron couldn’t help being a little intrigued, especially when he glanced over at every call to see Tim moving nimbly around his station, his muscles stretching and bunching under his uniform shirt. He looked way better in it than he had any right to.

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About the Authors

Clancy Nacht
Clancy Nacht is a bisexual genderqueer person who lives in Austin. Clancy has published several bestselling romances. Many of her books have been honored with Rainbow Awards; Le Jazz Hot won for Best Bisexual/Transgender Romance & Erotic Romance. In 2013, Black Gold: Double Black was a runner-up for a Rainbow Award. In 2015, Gemini won an Honorable Mention for Gay Erotic Romance and in 2016, Strange Times won an Honorable Mention for Science Fiction. Wyatt’s Recipes for Wooing Rock Stars was a finalist in the highly competitive William Neale Award for Best Gay Contemporary Romance. The Phisher King won second place in the Rainbow Award for Romantic Suspense, 16th for Gay Book of the Year.

Thursday Euclid
The Thursday Euclid is a strange and elusive creature dwelling in the Texas Gulf Coast region. Frequently mistaken for Bigfoot, Chupacabra, or the monster of the week, he is, in fact, a 30-something black sheep with a penchant for K-pop, geekery, and hot and sour soup. When he’s not playing Dragon Age or SWTOR, he’s probably watching B-movies or talking to his best friend and frequent collaborator Clancy Nacht. You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, or email him at thursdayeuclid at gmail dot com.

 

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