Cowboys Are More Than Butts by Julia Talbot

August 10, 2017

cowboys are more than butts

 

Hey y’all! My wife, BA Tortuga and I were talking cowboys. Not at all unusual, since she writes a lot of them, and Dreamspinner just released one of my favorite stories of mine, Sparkle and Shine. Based on a song, Everything That Glitters by Dan Seals, Sparkle and Shine follows friends to lovers Brooks and Evan all the way to the National Finals rodeo in Vegas.

Anyway, the discussion turned, as it often does, to how most comments we see about cowboys in the greater romance world center on Wrangler butts. Now, don’t get me wrong. I appreciate one of those as much as the next cowboy fan. I also like the way cowboy boots tilt that Wrangler butt just so. But that’s maybe a thimble full of what a cowboy is actually all about.

I grew up in cowboy country. No, not Texas, though West Texas was 45 minutes from my backyard. Southern New Mexico when I was a kid was small towns and lots of beef cattle. My grandpa was a cowboy. I would argue my mom was, too, despite the fact that she left Western Colorado young to join the Army. Then I married a Texan whose Daddy is a cowboy. Her brother was a bullrider, and one of her adopted siblings trains horses for a living.

If I’ve learned anything from my experiences it’s that most people see cowboys as an abstract. As an icon of a lost culture. But what I know is true is the opposite. Cowboys are still real, and so is cowboy culture. I see it when I visit my father in law. I see it when I go to the feed store here in a suburb of Albuquerque. I see it at rodeos and on vacation in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. It’s still going strong.

I once heard a well-known big 5 author state that she knew she didn’t write real cowboys because she didn’t like how they really were: dirty and bent from hard work, baked and lined from the sun, stubborn and a little foul mouthed. I thought, “How sad”, because cowboys are not cardboard cut-out romance heroes. If you write them with all their flaws, all their scars, and yeah, some dirt on their boots, they come alive in all the best ways. Absolutely, they’re stubborn. Sometimes problematic. Often vain. But, then again, I’ve never met one who didn’t love animals and children, who wouldn’t give you the shirt off his back to keep warm and out of the rain. They’re real people with real joys and sorrows, whether they’re riding the range or sitting in an office somewhere.

Cowboys are far more than just butts, and I hope y’all will help me embrace them in all their weird and wonderful glory!

 

XXOO

Julia Talbot

Check out Sparkle and Shine today!

 

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Blurb:

All that glitters is not gold. No-frills cowboy Evan learned that lesson the hard way while married to a rodeo princess, a relationship that was all flash and no substance. At least Evan held on to his daughter, Cheyenne, and his best friend, Brooks, when the sparkle wore off and things fell apart. Life could be a lot worse.

But it could also be better… if Evan and Brooks took a step beyond friendship. Just as they start to explore their feelings, Evan’s ex-wife sticks her nose in to sabotage them. Suddenly everything is up in the air, and they have difficult choices to make about the rodeo, Cheyenne, and the romance they both want so badly to pursue

First edition published by Torquere Press, November 2007.

 

Author Bio:

Stories that leave a mark. Julia Talbot loves romance across all the genders and genres, and loves to write about people working to see past the skin they’re in to love what lies beneath. Julia Talbot lives in the great mountain and high desert Southwest, where there is hot and cold running rodeo, cowboys, and everything from meat and potatoes to the best Tex-Mex. A full time author, Julia has been published by Dreamspinner and Changeling Press among many others. She believes that everyone deserves a happy ending, so she writes about love without limits, where boys love boys, girls love girls, and boys and girls get together to get wild, especially when her crazy paranormal characters are involved. She also writes BDSM and erotic romance as Minerva Howe. Find Julia at @juliatalbot on Twitter, or at www.juliatalbot.com “The mountains are calling, and I must go”

https://www.facebook.com/juliatalbotauthor

Confessions of a Book Addict by Vivien Dean

August 9, 2017

Confessions of a Book Addict

 

I was nine years old when I read my first adult romance. My school librarian had yet to cotton on to the fact that my two-book allowance at checkout barely got through me a single night, let alone a whole week, so I supplemented my reading addiction with whatever I could find around the house. The Encyclopedia Brittanica. Good Housekeeping magazines. Big band LP album covers and liner notes. I devoured it all. When I got too hungry for more fiction, I finally braved the last frontier – my grandmother’s romance novel stash.

I came by my addiction naturally. Everyone in my family is a reader. Toss in the fact that Grandma was a hoarder, too, and my nine-year-old self felt like she’d hit the mother lode. I lost hours to reading, curled up under a cloth-covered table in the living room with a flashlight or behind the shed if we got kicked outside to play or – blessedly – in my room while my two sisters were elsewhere so they wouldn’t tattle on me. Harlequin happy endings were my crack.

So when Dreamspinner announced their first venture into the same type of trope-y stories a couple years ago, my inner nine-year-old clapped with glee. There might even have been some clapping from my outer self, too. It couldn’t get any better, I thought.

I was wrong. They announced Dreamspun Beyond. My beloved tropes in paranormal worlds. There was absolutely no way I could let the opportunity slip by to write for it.

Out of all the romance I read and write, paranormal is my hands-down favorite. The draw is easy. I’m immersed in a brand-new world with characters who are subject to supernatural forces and still find ways to overcome them. You might ask, how is that different from fantasy or sci-fi? Paranormals, while offering new world rules, are most often grounded in a setting that’s at least initially set in our own existence. So it’s new, but still familiar. For me, that’s the perfect balance.

That’s the approach I took for The Charlatan’s Conquest. In this setting, ghosts exist, and it’s possible to interact with them, but it’s set in contemporary Pennsylvania and New York with very real issues surrounding both heroes. Cruz agrees to take on a ghost hunting job that his best friend can’t because he needs the money to help pay for his baby sister’s medical expenses. He’s a reflection of his working-class family. He throws everything he has into getting past hardships like the financial ramifications from treating his sister’s cancer. On the other hand, Brody has had his own share of troubles. His mother’s death when he was a child. Struggling with his identity in an affluent, conservative community. A distant relationship with his father. All of these and more mold the men who meet under such extraordinary circumstances. They face the incredible, but in a world with which the reader can empathize. That’s my idea of reading nirvana.

The best part about it is that this is the first of a series called “Phantom Fixers.” I get to go back to this world, which is a very good thing because Etienne, Cruz’s ghost hunter best friend, won’t stop nagging me about his own happy ending. For now, though, I’m going to sit back and enjoy Cruz and Brody’s story. I hope you will, too.

Check out The Charlatan’s Conquest today!

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Dreamspinner Press ebook
Dreamspinner Press paperback (buy the paperback and get the ebook for FREE!)
Amazon Kindle
Amazon paperback

 

BLURB:

With love and ghosts, the challenge is figuring out what’s real.

Software engineer Cruz Guthrie needs money for his sister’s cancer treatments. He needs it so badly he’s willing to stand in for a ghost hunter friend and investigate a millionaire’s supposed specters. It should be an easy gig—after all, nobody thinks the haunting is real.

Neurological researcher Brody Weber is furious that Cruz would take advantage of Brody’s father. But his mind changes when spirits manifest—and he realizes Cruz genuinely wants to help. When they learn the paranormal activity centers on Brody, Cruz is willing to fight to free Brody from the entities determined to make his life miserable. With a little help from friends and family—both living and dead—they must figure out why Brody is attracting spirits and how to banish them. Only then can they pursue a future together.

 

BIO:

VIVIEN DEAN is a firm believer that love doesn’t care about gender. That’s why her titles encompass both GLBT and het, erotic and sweet, as well as a wide variety of genres. After growing up in the snowy and isolated Midwest, she went off in search of her creative muse. She performed on stage, wrote and directed indie films in Orlando, then met her British soulmate online. One wedding, two children, and ten addresses later, she resides in the Bay Area where it’s easy to indulge in her favorite pastimes—good theater, great movies, and amazing food.

Vivien is a four-time EPIC eBook Award winner and collaborated with Pepper Espinoza to write as Jamie Craig for five years.

CONTACT VIVIEN

Website: www.viviendean.com
E-mail: vivien_dean@yahoo.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/vivien.dean.3
Twitter: @VivienDean

Beyond: The Beginning w/ Ari McKay

August 1, 2017

Beyond- The Beginning

 

Hello, everyone!!!! Ari here, and McKay and I are so excited about today, because it is the release of our latest story, Out of the Ashes. This book is incredibly special to us, not just because of it’s an urban fantasy, but because it is the first book in the new Dreamspun Beyond house line for Dreamspinner Press. To say that we were honored and thrilled to be selected as the lead-off story for the new line is an understatement — both McKay and I felt as though Dreamspinner had handed us the best gift a writer could ever receive!

As most everyone who has read our stories knows, McKay and I are southern girls with a love of setting our tales in the areas we are most familiar with. We both adore the Asheville region, and because it is an area which is both very liberal and friendly to the arts, we thought it would be a fantastic setting for our story. We’d previously written about paranormals in that area, and so we began to build an entire world of supernaturals who live among and yet separate from their human neighbors. We came up with the idea for a Council who acts as informal oversight for the issues the supernatural beings face in being part of a very modern, human world, and like most bureaucracies, we imagined them getting a little… well, hidebound over time. Which is why, as our story opens, both Arden Gilmarin, a half-elf and member of the Council, and Eli Hammond, an alpha werewolf who comes to ask for help, have reason for frustration.

Fortunately for Eli, Arden doesn’t always play by the rules, and has no problem offering his assistance, and that of his friends, to help Eli find out what horror could have left five members of his pack dead and have kidnapped the rest. But Fate is working in very strange ways, as Eli discovers that Arden is his destined mate. Talk about bad timing! Not only is Arden a different species, he looks small and delicate and backwoods Eli thinks of him as a city boy. But even if Arden had been a shapeshifter, Eli’s mind isn’t on romance, and he feels as though Fate is playing a very bad joke on him.

Well, no one ever said that the road to true love, or the path of fated mates, was going to be easy! But they quickly learn that destiny has brought them together for a reason, and that more hangs in the balance than their lives, or the lives of Eli’s pack. They have to learn to appreciate their different strengths and abilities, and learn to trust one another if they’re going to have any hope of saving themselves and everyone they care about from the danger that’s coming.

This first story sets up a conflict that will carry through two more books, and McKay and I are thrilled that we’ve been able to work in actual folklore and mythology from the Asheville region. In particular, there are Native American legends about the mountains and the forests in the area which we’ve woven into our tales, and Arden’s best friend, Whimsy, is a half-Cherokee mage who will get his own story next.

We hope you’ll enjoy reading this story as much as we enjoyed writing it! And since we still have two more stories in Asheville Arcana to go, we want to hear from you! Please comment below and tell us what types of supernatural creatures you enjoy most — we’d love to be able to give cameos to more of your favorites!

Check out Out of the Ashes today!

 

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Dreamspinner Press
Amazon
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Blurb: 

In their differences, they’ll find strength—and love.

Alpha werewolf Eli Hammond returns from a fishing trip to discover a nasty surprise—five members of his pack murdered and the rest missing. He needs help locating and rescuing his pack mates, but the supernatural council in Asheville, North Carolina, turns him away.

Except for one man.

As they work together, Eli is stunned—and not especially thrilled—to discover half-elf Arden Gilmarin is his destined mate. But as Arden and his friends struggle to help Eli in his quest, Eli surrenders to the demands of his body—and his heart. They’ll need to bond together, because the forces opposing them are stronger and more sinister than anyone predicted. The evil has its sights set on Arden, and if Eli wants to save his mate and the people he is entrusted with protecting, he’s in for the fight of his life.

 

Author Bio:

Ari McKay is the professional pseudonym for Arionrhod and McKay, who have been writing together for over a decade. Their collaborations encompass a wide variety of romance genres, including contemporary, fantasy, science fiction, gothic, and action/adventure. Their work includes the Blood Bathory series of paranormal novels, the Herc’s Mercs series, as well as two historical Westerns: Heart of Stone and Finding Forgiveness. When not writing, they can often be found scheming over costume designs or binge watching TV shows together.

Arionrhod is a systems engineer by day who is eagerly looking forward to (hopefully) becoming a full time writer in the not-too-distant future. Now that she is an empty-nester, she has turned her attentions to finding the perfect piece of land to build a fortress in preparation for the zombie apocalypse, and baking (and eating) far too many cakes.

McKay is an English teacher who has been writing for one reason or another most of her life. She also enjoys knitting, reading, cooking, and playing video games. She has been known to knit in public. Given she has the survival skills of a gnat, she’s relying on Arionrhod to help her survive the zombie apocalypse.

 

Contacts:

Website: http://arimckay.wordpress.com
Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ari-Mckay/266185570179748
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/ari.mckay.7
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AriMcKay1
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6153630.Ari_McKay

Rhubarb in the Family w/ Deanna Wadsworth + Giveaway

July 31, 2017

Rhubarb for Generations

 

I’m so excited about my latest Dreamspinner release THE RHUBARB PATCH.

It’s funny where inspiration comes from. THE RHUBARB PATCH, the first book in my new Men of Gilead series about a small country town in Ohio, has an exceptionally funny story at the heart of its creation.

Or humiliating, it depends on how you want to look at it.

Rhubarb is one of those fruits that’s often forgotten about, but it’s delicious in pies, rhubarb bread, or my grandma’s rhubarb crumble—you can find the recipe HERE. My family has a weird affinity for all things rhubarb so when someone gave my grandmother a free rhubarb plant years ago, naturally, she was thrilled. Sadly she passed away that spring and never got to plant it. So my mom brought the bucket over, wondering if I wanted to plant the rhubarb at my new house. I told her to just pop it in the ground by the woodpile and if it grew? Great. If not? Oh well. I had only recently moved into my new house and a vegetable garden was the last thing on my mind. We didn’t even have grass growing.

As with all things nostalgic, the rhubarb soon lured my attention after a year or so of neglect. I started watering the spindly looking plants, determined to get a nice harvest to make my grandma’s rhubarb crumble. The stupid plant went to seed and died on me…. or so I thought.

The next year it came back up!

And not just one plant, it had sprinkled seeds and had babies.

I was so excited! I landscaped around it, posted it on Instagram—yes, I post pics of my garden, my dogs and alcohol on Instagram LOL, you can find me here: @DeannaWads. I even tried to make jelly with my rhubarb, though the batches turned out lousy.

One day, five years into cultivating my precious rhubarb, I realized the cable company was on the back of my property tearing up the dirt to get at underground lines.

Right next to my rhubarb patch.

I was in my pajamas and no, not the cute ones. I hesitated at the door before I ran out to yell at them because I didn’t know if they were actually going to damage my grandma’s rhubarb. So like a logical person, I got up got dressed before I went out and checked.

My plants were safe.

Whew! Those guys didn’t want to face me if they’d harmed them, believe me!

As I was driving somewhere later that day, Phineas Robertson popped into my head.

I didn’t know who he was, or who we was going to fall in love with, but I knew darn well someone was going to tear up his precious rhubarb patch. Maybe the new man who just moved in next door would weed whack his rhubarb? If that happened, naturally Phin wouldn’t hesitate at the door and get dressed, would he? No! He would run outside in nothing but old white underwear and orange rubber garden boots!

The result of this little plot bunny was THE RHUBARB PATCH and the birth of my sweet little town of Gilead, Ohio—based on the town I live in.

It didn’t take long for me to plan the story or a dozen others to take place in Gilead. One thing I didn’t expect is for every single quirky gardening story I’ve ever been involved with or been told by friends or family—from the owl that gets into Phin’s chicken coop, to the little Schnauzer on the book cover eating all the beets and green beans out of the garden—to end up in THE RHUBARB PATCH. I’ve never written a book with so many true stories. As you’re reading the book and stumbling across something odd, like the existence of nuns who like to “hand screw tomatoes” or the raspberry jelly fiasco during the Red Wedding, or mysterious tomatoes from Italy, and even 150 year old sourdough starters…. rest assured it’s all true.

Well, with a little creative license to protect the innocent, of course.

Now you might be thinking, “Deanna, that’s not that really funny or humiliating.”

Wanna know a secret?

For seven years, I wasn’t growing rhubarb at all!

But I can’t tell that story, without spoiling THE RHUBARB PATCH. I’ll let Phin tell it, his version is better anyway.

 

Do you have a weird gardening story or something bizarre that happened to you in a small town? Maybe a favorite way you enjoy rhubarb?

Leave a comment and you’ll be entered to win one of my Dreamspinner backlist books.

 

Check out The Rhubarb Patch today!

 

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Blurb:

A Men of Gilead Novel

City boy, sci-fi novelist, and recovering pushover Scott Howe doesn’t know what to expect when he inherits his grandmother’s house outside the quaint village of Gilead, Ohio—but it isn’t an enormous bald man in nothing but tighty-whities and orange rubber boots shouting at him to keep his weed whacker away from the rhubarb patch.

Scott has never met anyone like Phineas Robertson: homesteader, recluse… Republican. A tender—if unlikely—friendship grows over the summer while Phin and his schnauzer, Sister Mary Katherine, teach Scott about life in the country and the grandmother he never knew. Opposites attract, but widower Phin worries his secret will send Scott running faster than his politics, and Phin isn’t convinced he deserves a second chance at romance.

Scott is convinced—rural life, and his one-of-a-kind older neighbor, is the future he wants. Before he can settle in, his mother drops a bombshell that strains their already tenuous relationship, and a cousin who believes he is the rightful heir to the property puts Scott in danger. It’ll take a lot of compromises, and even dodging a few bullets before they’re out of the weeds, but nurturing something as special as true love always takes hard work.

 

Author Bio:

Deanna Wadsworth might be a bestselling erotica author, but she leads a pretty vanilla life in Ohio with her wonderful husband and a couple adorable cocker spaniels. She has been spinning tales and penning stories since childhood, and her first erotic novella was published in 2010. She has served multiple board positions at her local RWA chapter and is the current President 2017 for Rainbow Romance Writers of America. When she isn’t writing books or brainstorming with friends, you can find her making people gorgeous in a beauty salon. She loves music and dancing, and can often be seen hanging out on the sandbar in the muddy Maumee River or chilling with her hubby and a cocktail in their basement bar. In between all that fun, Deanna cherishes the quiet times when she can let her wildly active imagination have the full run of her mind. Her fascination with people and the interworkings of their relationships have always inspired her to write romance with spice and love without boundaries.

WebsiteFacebookTwitterPinterestgoodreadsAmazonInstagram

You can also find her young adult alter ego, K.D. Worth FacebookTwitter

MJ and Sonny by BA Tortuga

July 24, 2017

 

MJ and Sonny

 

Hey, y’all! I’m BA Tortuga, resident redneck and lover of wild boys.

I never know what to say about the old boys that I haven’t said.

Road Trip Volume I is made up of the first two of the Road Trip series – Racing the Moon and Steam and Sunshine.

Racing the Moon was supposed to be a one off, just this silly thing, and I knew from the very start that MJ and Sonny weren’t going to be happy with just a 3000 word story, oh no.

No, those two have four books.

Four.

Now we meet Paddy and Neil halfway through Steam and Sunshine and then Duncan and Cowboy in volume II.

But the story has always been, and will always be, mainly MJ and Sonny’s.

A redneck ridge runner with a bent moral compassion and a surprising knack for pharmaceuticals.

A broken, brilliant ecoterrorist with a PhD and a twitchy trigger finger.

It’s one hell of a ride, y’all. Come play.

 

Much love, y’all.

BA

 

Check out Road Trip Vol. 1 today!

 

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Blurb:

The road to love is notoriously bumpy, full of twists and turns that can throw even the best driver. With obstacles around every corner, Sonny and MJ try to keep it between the lines in two tales that blend steamy romance with high-stakes action and intrigue.

Racing the Moon

Sonny runs moonshine the old-fashioned way. Too bad some fool blew up his road in the Carolina mountains, keeping him stuck, high and unfortunately dry.

Explosives expert and ecoterrorist MJ’s mission is to protect the environment by shutting down a logging company. An encounter with Sonny in the misty forest sheds a new light on his quest, but it’s not until Sonny drugs and kidnaps him for an impromptu holiday that their engines really start to rev.

Steam and Sunshine

A mission they can’t resist lures Sonny and MJ out of retirement when they get word of a man creating dangerous weapons for the government. They head to California to take him down.

What they find is Paddy, a physicist who doesn’t understand the scope of his own discovery, and Neil, his bodyguard. During a wild and unpredictable cross-country ride, an uneasy partnership develops between kidnappers and targets when the four men discover they have a common enemy.

 

About BA Tortuga:

Texan to the bone and an unrepentant Daddy’s Girl, BA Tortuga spends her days with her basset hounds and her beloved wife, texting her sisters, and eating Mexican food. When she’s not doing that, she’s writing. She spends her days off watching rodeo, knitting and surfing Pinterest in the name of research. BA’s personal saviors include her wife, Julia Talbot, her best friend, Sean Michael, and coffee. Lots of coffee. Really good coffee.

Having written everything from fist-fighting rednecks to hard-core cowboys to werewolves, BA does her damnedest to tell the stories of her heart, which was raised in Northeast Texas, but has heard the call of the  high desert and lives in the Sandias. With books ranging from hard-hitting GLBT romance, to fiery menages, to the most traditional of love stories, BA refuses to be pigeon-holed by anyone but the voices in her head. Find her on the web at www.batortuga.com

 

Happy Release Day to Roe Horvat!

July 19, 2017

Roe Horvat

 

I feel like I’ve written all the words already. Nevertheless, here I am facing a blank page again. Just a few more sentences—it shouldn’t be that hard, right? I can hear the goblins laughing evilly.

I can only save myself by being concise. There’s an excerpt of The Layover below. The blog tour continues tomorrow with the next part of The Swiss Experiment (it’s a prequel to The Layover; you can find it on my website: http://roehorvat.com/swiss-experiment-1/ —the post will grow as the blog tour continues.)

The Layover is being released today. I’m forever thankful to my editor, Rose, and the wonderful staff at Dreamspinner Press for making me feel like I can do this. Malin, I’m going to spread a picnic blanket under your pedestal, sit there and just stare adoringly for all eternity or at least until the wind blows away the dust off my bones. I don’t think I would have made it without Grace, Hans, Jay, Xenia, Ben, Frederick, Phetra, Brandon, and all those kind people who beta-read for me, reviewed the ARC, advised me, or simply talked to me and helped me to keep my head above water. I’m humbled by how much kindness I’ve received from virtual strangers. I hope to pay back a part of my debt in happy endings.

Love

Roe

 

Check out The Layover today!

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Amazon
Dreamspinner Press
Kobo
GoodReads

 

Blurb:

Eight years ago, Ondro Smrek fled Slovakia and the bigotry that drove his first lover to take his own life. The demons proved impossible to outrun, though, and now, desperate for somewhere to belong, Ondro is returning to start over. During a layover in Basel, Switzerland, he meets Jamie, an American living in Scotland who is as brilliant as he is beautiful.
Jaded Ondro never would have guessed he could fall in love during a brief layover—until now. When he is put in a position to offer Jamie comfort without hope of recompense, Ondro doesn’t hesitate. Soon, he catches a glimpse of the home he longs for. But with their separation looming, confessing his feelings would only lead to pain and humiliation. Life has taught Ondro not to hope, but then, he never believed in love at first sight either.

 

About Roe Horvat:

Queer author, storyteller & graphic designer
Roe was born in former Czechoslovakia and endured a miserable adolescence in the post-communist wasteland. Equipped with a dark sense of sarcasm, they left for Germany and later, Spain.
Finally, they settled in Sweden, where the weather is nasty but the freedom great. Roe works as a motion graphics artist, loves Jane Austen, Douglas Adams and everything in between, preferably by the fireplace with a strawberry daiquiri in hand. Roe writes contemporary romantic fiction – it conveniently balances out their real-life pragmatism.
When not hiding in the studio doing graphics, Roe can be found trolling cafés in Gothenburg, writing, and people-watching.

Get in touch with the Roe:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/roe.horvat.98
Website: https://www.roehorvat.com

 

Excerpt:

He studied the empty glass like there were secret inscriptions on it. I don’t know where it came from, but I felt as if the moment were pivotal. As if whatever he said next would mean a lot. Possibly more than I’d like.

He put the glass down and looked at his hands, intertwining and twirling his fingers. “I got to go on this trip only because a colleague of mine got sick. Otherwise, they would never send a lowly minion like me. And sure, it was about work primarily. There was a meet-up about stem cell therapy in ophthalmology.” He stopped himself with a wave of his hand. A very graceful hand. “Never mind. I had a few days off in Zurich. I wanted to try something new, maybe let a little loose… I didn’t expect anything to be life-changing, just maybe get a little taste of a slightly different lifestyle. Nothing crazy or dangerous.

“But my friend, she had this idea that it was supposed to be more of an adventure. She bought me a travel pack of some stuff, you know. Like a go-out-and-get-laid kit. Ginny’s a bit weird. And she gave me the hat. She made me promise that I’d wear that thing.” He gestured toward the hideous headgear and sighed again. I sensed that I wouldn’t like the direction of his speech. “I googled some crazy club and tried to go out in Zurich. And I felt like an alien there, exposed. It’s ridiculous but getting hit on only freaked me out. It’s not my thing. In the end, I was ready to go home, looking forward to it even. And then….” He stopped talking and threw his hands up in the air, scrunched his face in apparent frustration. With me? With himself? With the boundaries of the English vocabulary? “And now you are sitting here flirting with me. And I… I’m sorry. I like you, I do. You’re funny and hot as hell. But I’m not….” He waved a hand in the air again, fishing for the right words. There weren’t any. “I’m not comfortable with one-night stands. I’m sorry.” He paused and seemed to brace himself before delivering the final blow. “I should go to bed. Long day tomorrow.”

It wasn’t my first I-like-you-but conversation. I was a champion of those too. More often pitching those than receiving, but still. I knew the game, but this time, it tasted bitter. Maybe it was because I was in a weird place in my head, feeling like the world was changing around me, and I was changing, and my life was at a crossroad, and it was all a chaos like a freaking Hungarian goulash soup. The world was bleak, and I didn’t want to let go of the only one still colorful, even vibrant thing in it. Since I felt that clingy, I should have ripped off the Band-Aid, fast.

“It’s a shame,” I said. He was probably the most interesting guy I’d met in months. Or years to be honest. Such a damned shame. “But tomorrow we’re flying away from here in opposite directions.” That shy smile he gave me…. So, so sweet. “I understand. I guess I respect it even.”

He had to think I was a slut. By some standards, I probably was. I stood, stretched my arms, and finished: “I’ve had a lovely evening. Thank you for not ditching me sooner.” It sounded whiney, and I winced inwardly. I gave him yet another crooked smirk and went to the bar. I took a napkin, borrowed a pen, and scribbled down a number. I went back, put it on the table in front of him, and he looked at me, frowning.

“In case you change your mind.”

I went all the way this time, and the odds were against me. But I would bang my head against the wall later if I didn’t try one last time.

He stared at the napkin for a second and scratched his temple. He lifted his large tired eyes at me, and my heart started beating a little faster.

“Thanks. Have a good flight tomorrow,” he said. The coffin snapped shut, the dirt was scattered on the lid, black shadowy figures stood in the rain, heads down—with that kind of finality.

I would remember him forever. If only for the hopeless kind of lonely he made me feel. So lonely, like I was at the bottom of a crater on the dark side of the moon, the temperature was absolute zero, and the last space shuttle left days ago.

My gaze slid over the napkin with my room number on it, and suddenly I felt like an ass. He was so much better than that kind of shit.

“Sorry for that.” I gestured toward the napkin briefly and went away, not looking back.

I was on the verge of a new era, trying to reclaim my life. Apparently, that made me vulnerable as fuck. I dragged my sorry ass upstairs, stripped, and packed my bag, in case I wanted to sleep in the next day and would have to leave in a hurry.

I brushed my teeth, took a piss, washed my hands, and blew my nose. Then I was lying in the strange bed unable to fall asleep. I felt a little cold but too lazy to get up and look for a T-shirt.

Funny and hot as hell, he said. It sounded lame, forgettable. And true. There were twenty-five of me in every gay bar in every larger city in Europe. And he was brilliant, genuine, most beautifully human, and real.

Jamie. His name was Jamie.

 

Venetian Memory Lane by Luca Domani

July 14, 2017

Venetian memory lane

 

Venice is a city dear to my heart. When I was younger, I dreamed of travelling there every year, but then graduate school happened. Still, I was fortunate enough to visit Venice more than once. My memories of the city are still vivid even though I haven’t been back for several years. So when I was given a chance to write a story for Dreamspinner’s World of Love series, I knew I had to go back to Venice, if only in my imagination.

Venice is charming and beautiful throughout the year, but in the colder months, it becomes even more enchanting. I set Tom and Giovanni’s story during this time, when Venice is quiet and rainy.  It is the off season and the city is returned to the Venetians after a long and crowded summer. Visitors can take in the sights at a slower pace, and perhaps pretend that they too are Venetian, if only for the moment. It is the perfect backdrop for falling in love.

Inevitably, Giovanni and Tom’s adventures in Venice draw inspiration from my own experiences. It was fun reliving these moments while I was writing. One of these scenes is at the very beginning of the book. Tom arrives in Venice during acqua alta, when the water level rises. The resulting flooding affects the neighborhood in which Tom’s hotel is located. Tom is greeted by several inches of water both inside and outside of his hotel. Fortunately, his room is dry, but he still must find some dinner. With no desire to venture farther than necessary for food, he wanders into the pizzeria next door, where Giovanni works. Alas, here the similarities end – there was no handsome Venetian flirting with me in the pizzeria next door!

Another memory that makes its way into the story is visiting Piazza San Marco at night. On my first trip to Venice, I stayed at a hotel close to the famous piazza. Late one night, I decided to spend some time in the square. To my delight, I found myself to be one of the very few people there at the time. It was like having my own little piece of Venice. I knew that if I ever came back, I’d have to do it again, and now it has become a tradition. For Giovanni, the piazza at night has been a haven since he was a teenager, a place for him to find some peace in a small crowded city, even in summer. Tom is the first person with whom he shares this special space, and now I have shared it with you. If you ever have the chance to go, I also recommend stopping by a bar along the way and picking up some beer and bruschetta to savor in your own private Piazza San Marco.

I truly enjoyed visiting Venice through this story, and I hope you will too! I invite you to continue the journey with Tom and Giovanni in An American in VeniceBuon viaggio!

 

Check out An American in Venice today!

 

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Blurb: 

Tom has always been steady and predictable—a formula he’s sure will lead him to success in his career. When his method fails him and he loses his job, he throws caution to the wind for the first time in his life and books a European holiday.

Maybe Tom shouldn’t be surprised that Cupid’s arrow finds him in one of the most romantic cities in the world: Venice, Italy. When he encounters Giovanni working in the family pizzeria, it’s lust at first sight. Their time together touring the city is so magical it feels like a dream. But Tom is shy while Giovanni is charming and flirtatious. Tom has a newfound freedom with his unemployment, while family burdens weigh heavily on Giovanni. Add culture differences and miscommunication into the mix, and their brief romance might fade as quickly as the beautiful dream it resembles.

World of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the globe.

 

Author Bio:

Luca has been writing stories since childhood. Although he has a doctorate in engineering, he has never given up on his dream of being a writer. He adores science fiction and is partial to postapocalyptic epics with zombie hordes, but at heart, he is a hopeless romantic. Luca is married to his high school sweetheart, who is his muse and the love of his life. They reside in Massachusetts with their dog and cat. An American in Venice is his second publication outside of a technical journal.
Email: gianluca.domani@gmail.com

Real Life Mimics Fiction (sort of) w/ SJD Peterson

July 7, 2017

Real Life Mimics Fiction

 

Murphy isn’t the only one who finds himself in a new city and state with no friends and family. I too recently took the plunge as well. I didn’t come for a new job but a new adventure. You see, I’m an empty nester and being tired of spending 5 months of every year knee deep in snow, I moved south.

My best friend Scotty Cade bought a house in Greenville South Carolina. Unfortunately, for him, he had to return to Martha’s Vineyard for another tourist season. Luckily, for me, I volunteered to house/dog sit until he could return.  If you’ve never been to Greenville, I highly suggest you visit!  It’s an absolutely amazing town.

The downtown area, which I’m fortunate enough to live close enough to walk, is a happening place with many great shops and restaurants. Two of my favorites are:

SmokeOnTheWater

Smoke on the Water – Serving comfort food in a warm inviting atmosphere. Specialties are smoked items – prime rib, beef brisket, baby back ribs, and pulled pork.  And it doesn’t stop there. Chicken, seafood, burgers, and an amazing mix of sides. A variety of “saucy” sauces are available – tomato, mustard, sweet or vinegar-based. And don’t forget dessert. Smoke serves an amazing Jack Daniel’s Chocolate Chip Pecan Pie, Fried Bourbon Bread Pudding, daily cobblers and fried Bananas Foster. The restaurant’s busy bar has one of Greenville’s best happy hours.

Website: http://www.saucytavern.com/

Lemongrass

Lemongrass – Thai cuisine manages to bring together the most diverse spices and aromas – fiery and mild, salty and sweet, sour and bitter – into perfect harmony. Lemongrass is one of the herbs used in Thai cooking among other spices such as basil, galangal, ginger, lemon leaf, cilantro turmeric and more.

Website: http://www.lemongrassthai.net/

 

TheBarkery

Many of the places around Greenville are pet friendly. Scotty’s dog Mavis has joined me to a few of them including Smoke on the Water and The Common Cure. There are also numerous Bark Parks, boutiques and even a bakery called The Barkery Bistro.

If you’d rather just get out for a nice walk don’t forget your pooch and be sure to head to Falls Park on the Reedy.  It’s a great place for you and your pup to get exercise as well as enjoy the gorgeous falls. Take a walk in the river or enjoy the view from the expansion bridge.

 

ReedyFalls

 

Whatever you do downtown Greenville, you’ll enjoy the sights, sounds and people!

 

Check out Something’s Brewing at Joe’s today!

 

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Blurb:

The promise of a dream job lures Murphy to Tampa, but he arrives to the rude awakening that the offer is on hold. Now he’s got two choices: slink back to Michigan with his tail between his legs or stay and look for work. Things perk up when he goes into a coffee shop and learns the owner is looking for someone to renovate the apartment above it. He happily takes the job, only later realizing he’s met Joe Sterling, Kaffeinate’s proprietor, before… when they hooked up at a club Murphy’s first night in Tampa.

Murphy and Joe are both proud, passionate, and outspoken. Neither is looking for a relationship, though they can’t deny they go together as well as coffee and doughnuts, in spite of their tempers. But that’s before Joe learns Murphy will be working for the corporation he believes is harming local businesses and the environment—and if Murphy will be supporting it, Joe wants nothing to do with him, dooming any possibility of an unexpected happy ending.

 

 

J

Meet Jo Peterson:

SJD Peterson, better known as Jo, hails from Michigan. Not the best place to live for someone who hates the cold and snow. When not reading or writing, Jo can be found close to the heater checking out NHL stats and watching the Red Wings kick a little butt. Can’t cook, misses the clothes hamper nine out of ten tries, but is handy with power tools.

FACEBOOK | WEBSITE | TWITTER | GOODREADS

AUTHORS AMAZON PAGE

 

 

What is Control? w/ Leigh Carman + Excerpt

July 7, 2017

What is Control

 

 

Hello Dreamreaders! I’m Leigh Carman and I’m here to discuss the release of Two-Man Advantage, book 3 in the Players of LA series. Two-Man Advantage is the story of a hockey player named Viktor Novak, a self-destructive young man who for reasons you find out in the book, cannot stop his life from spiraling out of control. Viktor is reckless, immature, and prone to violent outbursts.

That’s when Bowen Miller steps in. Bo is the absolute epitome of control. The cocky PR specialist operates under the mistaken belief he can teach Viktor a thing or two about self-discipline, and the ability to clamp down on his emotions, successfully bringing the guy to heel. Bo finds out how wrong he is.

Now that I gave you some background on the MC’s, it’s clear that in Two-Man Advantage, I put one man who is way, way out of control, up against an obsessive-compulsive control freak. Reckless vs. cautious. Spur of the moment vs. planned out to the nth degree. Of course, these differences lead Vik and Bo to butt heads constantly, the friction between personalities sending tempers exploding with every interaction. But it’s possible Vik and Bo’s relationship goes deeper than two polar opposites who rub each other the wrong way. Perhaps their constant bickering is a sign that there’s more going on in Vik and Bo’s minds than visible at first glance. The back and forth, the men playing off each other, delving into both men’s histories to carve out each individual persona is what drove me as an author. I have to admit I loved writing these two highly emotional, temperamental, and stubborn men.

After I pinned down traits for each character along with the reasons behind them, I had to shape Vik and Bo’s relationship with each other. To do this, I researched a lifestyle called Power Exchange. For those of you who don’t know, a Power Exchange is a facet of BDSM in which one person gives up total control—a.k.a. the submissive—trusting their partner to make every decision, thus caring for their needs. The partner in control—or dominant—has the responsibility of ensuring the submissive is happy, healthy, and fulfilled. A Power Exchange can be a full-time lifestyle, or something that only comes up in certain situations, such as in the bedroom.

What I found interesting was the more I read, the more realistic the dynamic between Vik and Bo became. Except despite the research, I still had questions. Who would be the one to take control? The man who plans out every action and word in advance, or the man who struggles to get a grip on his flying-off-the-handle temperament?

Does the rigid control freak in Bo extend to every part of his life, including dominating any action in the bedroom? Or is it possible that Bo is exhausted. Weary from having to make every single decision down to the smallest minutiae, on a day-to-day basis. Maybe Bo needs a minute, an hour, a night, to let go and allow someone to see the cracks in the façade. To stop doing so much thinking, even if only for a brief respite.

Or is it Viktor who steps up to the plate? Is it possible for the guy who feels as though he has no say over anything that happens in his life, in both his career and personal interactions, to find safety within the walls of his bedroom? Is sex the one and only facet Vik actually can control, whereas he’s a passenger in every other aspect of his life?

For me, it could go either way, but it was fun figuring it out. To find out who dominates who, you’ll have to read Two-Man Advantage. Here’s a brief excerpt to introduce you to the guys.

 

Check out Two-Man Advantage today!

 

TwoManAdvantage_postcard_front_DSP

 

Blurb:

A hockey star skating on the edge of a catastrophe.

A PR specialist so adept, he’s called “the Fixer.”

Working together will be the biggest challenge of both their careers.

The LA Vikings hockey team is fed up the violent outbursts of its huge, intimidating enforcer, Viktor Novak. Hounded by a homophobic and domineering father, Viktor takes out his frustrations by spilling blood—on and off the ice. Now he has one last chance to clean up his image, or his career is over.

That’s where Bowen Miller comes in.

Bo has taken on the hardest cases and succeeded—by micromanaging every aspect of a client’s life—at the expense of his own happiness. But in the stubborn, hot mess that is Viktor, Bo might have met his match—both in and out of the bedroom. One man is out of control, and one controls everything. But when sex and attraction come into play, those roles are open to negotiation.

 

 

Excerpt- Bo and Vik meet

Bo

After speaking with Dom then meeting with upper management about working with the Vikings to clean up Viktor Novak and his explosive personality, I spend the rest of the weekend doing research on my new client. More research than strictly necessary for this type of job, but for some reason every time I try to close down my computer and walk away, I’m drawn right back in, addicted to skimming through photo after photo of Viktor Novak.

Hockey isn’t a sport I’m very familiar with as I’m not a fan, and this will be my first NHL client. I don’t know why, but I’m shocked to find out the rugged hockey player is flat-out physical perfection. No missing teeth or crooked nose, though Viktor does have the requisite scar slashing across one pale eyebrow.

According to his Vikings stats, the man is twenty-three years old, six foot three inches and two hundred pounds, with blond hair and blue eyes that pretty much confirm the Eastern European—or possibly Scandinavian—heritage that his surname suggests. As I stare, my mind begins to wander, and I can’t help but wonder if Viktor Novak is blond all over. Actually, from the looks of him, he probably doesn’t have much body hair.

Damn. I blink back the dirty thoughts, determined to get my mind on track. I need to figure out a plan, not fantasize about my client.

In 99 percent of the pictures I flicked through online, a deep frown furrows Viktor Novak’s strong, handsome face. Even in his team photo he’s wearing a menacing scowl. It’s as if the man doesn’t know how to smile. For such a young guy, he looks way older.

By the time I walk into the conference room of the Vikings’ home office at Brinks Arena Monday morning, I pretty much know what to expect. A grumpy, grimacing, angry blond hulk of a hockey player with a hair-trigger temper and a loud bark. When I enter the room, however, what I see instead shocks the hell out of me.

First, the man in the conference room isn’t merely big, he’s freaking enormous. Even with Viktor sitting down, I can tell he’s much, much larger than he appeared in any of the photographs. Second, not a single one of those hundreds of pictures did the man justice. At this moment, he doesn’t look scary, or even angry for that matter. No, what Viktor Novak does look like is drop-dead fucking gorgeous. The hockey player in front of me is so good-looking, his physical presence so overwhelming, I can’t bring myself to look directly at him for fear I’ll either spontaneously combust or come in my dress slacks like a horny kid.

To avoid embarrassment and maintain control of the situation, I keep my eyes low, my jaw clenched, and force myself to focus on the task at hand. Anything to keep from staring at the stunning man who is no doubt watching my every move with his sharp, calculating gaze. I’m sure if I were to glance over and make eye contact, I wouldn’t be able to hide the fact I’m undressing him in my mind.

My sudden inability to speak or look at him must piss Viktor off, because he threatens to leave.

“If you’re not going to talk to me, or even look at me, I see no point in being here. I’m a busy guy and don’t have time for bullshit games, so, I guess I’ll see you later.” His voice is low and menacing. Husky and over-the-top sexy, just as I imagined. It vibrates straight to my groin, sending a rush of heat down my spine and into my cock.

Jesus, get ahold of yourself, Miller, and act like a professional, not some simpering virgin.

Unfortunately, the method I choose to deal with my inappropriate attraction to my new client overrides common sense. My need to seize back control of my body and the awkward situation has the first words out of my mouth making me sound like a massive douche.

I stare at the attractive man, my fingers curling into the polished wood of the table to maintain restraint and keep my dick under control. “I suggest you stay exactly where you are, Mr. Novak. If you want to keep your job, that is.”

The big man jerks back in surprise. “Now you’re going to speak?”

Afraid I’ll say something laced with innuendo—instead of apologizing or remaining calm—I continue acting like a flaming jackass, poking the beehive with a pointy stick. “I’ll speak when I’m ready, and you’ll listen. That’s how this works. You make messes, and I clean them up.”

The inexplicable need to get closer to the shocked man has me thinking with the wrong head. Even as dangerous and hostile as Viktor appears, I circle the conference table, drawn to the hockey player like a moth to a flame. Once I’m close—too close—I lean over his chair in a show of dominance. Big mistake. For the first time in my life, it backfires on me. When I inhale, Viktor’s raw, masculine scent clogs my nostrils, hitting me hard. The potent scent sends a dizzying sensation from my brain straight to my dick. When he turns his head to scowl at me, I catch a whiff of… sour apple?

As I wonder what that apple scent is, Viktor shoots me a deadly glare, his upper lip curled back to expose perfect white teeth. Viktor’s blue eyes spark with…. What? Lust? No way. Fury. It must be fury. A man like Viktor Novak doesn’t appreciate being put in his place.

So what do I do? Do I back off and put some space between us like any normal human being with any sense of their own safety would do? No, I choose to lean in even closer toward the dangerous man, watching with rapt interest as the hockey player’s cheeks turn red.

“So, do you understand why we’re here?”

Viktor nods, shifting in his chair uncomfortably. I glance down and note his big hands are balled up, clenched tight in his lap. That’s my cue to get out of his face before he lands one of those enormous fists on my chin.

“Good.” Now that he knows who’s in charge, I step back and extend my right hand. “I’m Bowen Miller. Call me Bo.”

 

About the Author:

Leigh Carman is the pen name for the M/M romances written by bestselling Contemporary romance writer, Heather C. Leigh.

She lived outside Atlanta for 15 years and recently moved to Houston with her husband, 2 kids, and French bulldog.

She is leaving explicit directions in her will for her friends to discreetly scatter her ashes around Fenway Park. Then they are to sit back, watch a game with a beer and a Fenway frank and have a wicked good time.

Summertime Fun w/ Sean Michael + Giveaway

July 5, 2017

Summertime Fun

 

Hello, Dreamspinners!

It’s summertime! If you know me already, you probably know that summer is not my favorite season. It is however when Making a Splash takes place. Austin is showing off for his friends at the public pool and diving when Vince discovers him.

Going to the pool is a great summer activity. I prefer the country and a lake to the city and a pool – the chlorine irritates my eyes and skin. And I prefer the breeze off the lake, which is usually lacking at a city pool.

Other summer activities I enjoy are evening walks because it’s cooler when the sun begins to go down. Picnics if there’s shade. And sitting inside with the air conditioner cranked high!

What’s your favorite summertime activity? One responder will win a copy of Making a Splash.

 

Sean Michael
smut fixes everything

 

Check out Making a Splash today!

 

MakingaSplash_postcard_front_DSP

 

Dreamspinner Press
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Kobo

 

Blurb:

After a scandal of Olympic proportions, Vince Dawson lost his job as a diving coach and is on a downhill slide. So when he sees Austin Brody at a local pool, diving like a trained athlete, he thinks he’s found his ticket back to the big leagues.

Austin thinks Vince is crazy for wanting him to dive competitively. He dives for beer and smokes, while working double shifts as a welder. Still, he’ll give training with Vince a shot.

But Austin isn’t willing to let Vince rule his life, and Vince—used to hopeful young athletes folding under pressure from him—finds Austin baffling… and hot. Even if they can work together and become more than friends, they still have a long way to go before they’ll be ready to compete.

 

Excerpt:

Vince took it, the kid’s hand cool and damp, the sensation familiar. How many times had he hauled a diver up out of the water? Too many to count. Vince gritted his teeth and didn’t linger on the handshake, stepping back to find his perfect dive-watching spot again.

Austin swarmed right up the ladder, waved. Then the little fucker did Louganis’s reverse two and a half somersault in the pike position. The entry was shit this time, but still.

Fuck him.

He had a hunch dinner was going to cost him his last dime, but, damn it, it would be money well spent if he could convince Austin he had to start competing. The assholes on the national team would shit bricks if he showed up at the next meet with this diver in tow.

He pushed his way back to the edge of the pool, there when Austin hauled himself up out of the pool. “Your entry was crap.”

“You still owe me a steak.”

“I do.” He nodded toward the street. “You wanting that now?”

“Sure. Let me go get my jeans on and shit. Oh. I’m Austin Brody. Pleased.”

“Vince Dawson. I’ll wait outside the gate for you.” He could have a cigarette and work on his pitch.

He got one and a half smoked before Austin came sauntering out of the showers, dressed in a black T-shirt and a pair of jeans, straw hat on his head. The kid lit up a cigarette on the way over, nodding to him and grinning. “Hey. Wasn’t sure you’d hang out.”

He shook his head. “I’m a man of my word.” Not to mention that every second made him want to coach this kid more. He hadn’t seen a natural diver like this since he was a kid himself. “So where do you like your steak?”

“There’s a steakhouse down the road. My aunt Jenny’s a waitress there and can get us the rolls right out of the oven.”

He gave Austin a smile. “Sounds good. I like warm buns.”

The kid hooted, blew out a big puff of smoke. “Oh, you’re clever. I like it.”

“You shouldn’t smoke, you know. Those things’ll kill you.” He pointed to his red Dodge truck, then headed toward it as he took another puff on his own cigarette.

“Gotta die of something. Nice ride.”

 

Bio:

Best-selling author Sean Michael is a maple leaf–loving Canadian who spends hours hiding out in used book stores. With far more ideas than time, Sean keeps several documents open at all times. From romance to fantasy, paranormal and sci-fi, Sean is limited only by the need for sleep—and the periodic Beaver Tail.

Sean fantasizes about one day retiring on a secluded island populated entirely by horseshoe crabs after inventing a brain-to-computer dictation system. Until then, Sean will continue to write the old-fashioned way.

Sean Michael on the web:

WEBSITE: http://www.seanmichaelwrites.com
BLOG: http://seanmichaelwrites.blogspot.ca
FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/SeanMichaelWrites/
TWITTER: seanmichael09
INSTAGRAM: seanmichaelpics