Dating Ryan Alback by J.E. Birk: Blog Tour, Author Interview, Review and Giveaway

TCO is super excited to have J.E. Birk here today. We asked her very last minute to throw us a bone (see what I did there? 🙂 ) and do a last minute Friday Five-ish Questions, because I found the book so timely. She was so generous and did it right away. So, thank you. Read up on Dating Ryan Alback, then run out and grab it! 

dating ryansynopsisRyan Alback has almost everything he’s ever wanted: a successful acting career, a dog who adores him, great family and friends, and a life outside the closet. The only thing missing is a boyfriend—but Ryan’s been burned by Hollywood relationships before, and he’s not eager to try one again.

Jason Santos has almost everything he’s ever wanted: a fulfilling career teaching middle school, a house in a city he loves, and parents who support him in every way. Too bad he can’t seem to forget the ex-boyfriend who rejected his marriage proposal.

When a talk show host launches a dating contest to find Ryan a boyfriend and Jason accidentally wins, neither of them expect anything to come from it. Yet somewhere between a disastrous massage and a mud sinkhole, they both start to wonder if this date could be more than just a public relations stunt. But before they can move into the future, they’ll both have to learn to let go of the past.

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Guest Post

Greetings! I’m J.E. Birk, and right now I’m traversing the internets to discuss my new romantic comedy, DATING RYAN ALBACK. Follow along to learn more about an insecure movie star, a klutzy teacher, and the neurotic dog who loves them. Leave comments for a chance to win a $10 Riptide giftcard and copy of any book from my backlist!

tco-friday 5ish

Five-ish Good Questions for Dating Ryan Alback author J.E. Birk. A sometimes feature on Two Chicks Obsessed.

Thank you to the author who agreed to do this interview very last minute. But I felt like these questions needed to be asked! 🙂

  1. The first question, and what could be the telling question as to your psychic abilities…how long ago was Dating Ryan Alback written? It was published on February 20, but I would imagine it’s been written for some time.

LOL! Great question. One of the main subplots of this book has Jason, the MC, starting a nonprofit to support families who’ve been split apart by deportation. Sadly, in the 2017 political climate, this subplot feels incredibly relevant. But you’re right—I first started drafting this book years ago, back in 2014. At the time we weren’t having the same national conversation about deportation that we are right now. But I was living and working in a community with a huge population of immigrants, and it was an enormous part of our local conversation.

  1. To say that there is a subplot in this story that is timely for current political events would be understating it. There is a portion of that subplot that I literally saw on the news a day after I read it in the book. How much of current events, or even your guess of what might happen in the political climate play into your book?

Ironically, there were points when I was revising this book and selling it when I wondered if I’d have to change Jason’s subplot—because the conversation around immigration was becoming more humane, and more people were starting to see what mass deportation does to families. But then the election cycle leading to the 2016 presidential race began, and that subplot began to feel highly, highly relevant again. Now I’m very glad I never changed it, because I think we need more books that look at how families—especially children—are affected by deportation.

  1. Without giving too much away, what was your inspiration for writing this subplot? Was it something you’ve seen before, or something that you saw coming?

Like Jason, I’m a teacher. And like Jason, I’ve had the horrible experience of watching my students’ families destroyed because of deportation. It’s so easy for people to make blanket statements like “Well, if someone came here illegally, they’ve gotta go.” Logically that’s an understandable statement. Law is law, right? But I suspect most people who say that have never hugged a twelve-year-old whose parents have just been taken away from them to another country. A country that they may have never even seen before. It’s all a very complicated issue, and I wish more nonprofits like Jason’s existed.

  1. How much research did you do for this book? Was it on anything in particular?

The interesting thing about this book is that it’s a romantic comedy. I wrote it as a romcom and I suspect the majority of readers who’ve enjoyed it are people who love romcoms. I’m been talking a lot about how it’s a book I wrote when I needed more comedy in my life…and it is largely very light and fluffy. Except for this one subplot.

So while I was writing this book I spent a lot of time reading and thinking about my favorite romantic comedies. Considering how the best ones stay true to their comedic roots while still allowing for more serious topics to play within the plot.  I hope Dating Ryan Alback is, at the end of the day, a book which gives people a sense of joy and escapism without shying away from real-world issues and topics.

  1. Always, number 5 is the fun one. You receive a genie in a bottle, and are given 1 wish. You can’t wish for more wishes, or world peace, or crap like that. J What would you wish for?

Awww, I wanted a million wishes! Right now I’d probably wish that everyone in the world would show more kindness and empathy. There’s a lot of fear and anger spreading right now. I suspect we’d be in a much better place if we all just spent more time putting ourselves in the shoes of others.

denise review

There is so much I want to say about this book. There were so many elements to it, that made it a surprise for me.

I had not read anything by J.E. Birk before Dating Ryan Alback, so I really wasn’t sure what to expect. It looked like a sweet, romantic book (and c’mon, look at that cover, doesn’t that say “sweet and cute” all over it?), with fluffy bunnies, kittens and puppies falling all over the place. And it was (minus the bunnies and kittens, and with the dog being somewhat neurotic). This book made me laugh out loud at points. Case in point, this dialogue between Jason and Natalia (Jason’s best friend):

“Dramatic? Did you call me dramatic? My last date took me to a gyro place. Gryos, Jason!”

“I like gyros,” Jason answered mildly.

“Yes, yes, we all like gyros…”

I had several laugh out loud moments highlighted. Ones that I highlighted that later became a bigger part of the storyline. In the end, though, this was a fun, romantic comedy.

Until I realized that there was a sub-plot that made it so relevant to current day politics that I was shocked at the idea that this must have been written well before the U.S. presidency had even been decided. The author nailed the issue so hard, I was in awe at how accurate a portrayal of something that I hadn’t even realized was truly happening (and literally has increased exponentially in the last month). The author’s portrayal of this situation made it hit home even more. And as you read her interview, you’ll see this was deeply personal for her.

All in all this book was such a hit with me, and as I processed it over the next couple days, it felt even more like heaps of fun, with a side of reality thrown in, which I am hoping is how all the readers feel about it.

4 pieces of eye candy

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meet the author

J.E. Birk has been telling stories since she could talk and writing them since she was introduced to the alphabet. She hails from Colorado, where you can usually find her skiing, training for a 5K she won’t end up running, or watching people run into each other on football fields and in hockey rinks. You can follow her ramblings on Twitter by looking for @jebirkwrites. She’s also been known to ramble on Facebook as J Elisabeth Birk.

Connect with J.E. Birk:

giveaway

To celebrate the release of Dating Ryan Alback, one lucky winner will receive a $10 Riptide Publishing credit and their choice of ebook from J.E.’s backlist! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on February 25, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

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This post may contain affiliate links. Advanced Reader Copies are accepted by Two Chicks Obsessed in exchange for an honest review without additional compensation.

Dating in Retrospect by Lila Leigh Hunter: Blog Tour, Guest Post, Excerpt and Giveaway

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synopsis

Giving the commencement speech at his alma mater doesn’t fit Clay Keller’s meticulous schedule. As Chief Executive Officer of Travel Mogul—the largest travel connoisseur company on the West Coast—he has no time to get back in touch with his country roots. He left fifteen years ago without a second look, but a medical scare makes him change his mind about the speech and brings him face-to-face with his only regret.

Time always moves slower in Southeastern Iowa, and Aaron Grant loves it. He’s added solar farms to the Grant Lanes portfolio and has been teaching at the local university for a decade. The last thing he needs is to have his tenure application compromised by the return of his ex-boyfriend. If he had known who the commencement speaker would be, he would never have volunteered to be the administration liaison.

A proposal—to date for a year—will help them discover that time changes a person, even when everything else stays the same.

Title: Dating in Retrospect (States of Love)

Author: Lila Leigh Hunter

Cover Artist: L.C. Chase

Publisher:  Dreamspinner Press

Release Date: February 15, 2017

Category: Romance

Genre: Contemporary

Sex Content: Explicit

Pairing: MM

Orientation: Bisexual

Identity: Cisgender

Length: Novella

Words: 38,800

Pages: 101

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Guest Post

Pop Culture Infiltration

Mike, Mike, Mike, Mike, Mike! What day is it Mike? It’s Hump day! Sorry, but I had to do it. 🙂Riverside, IA

I want to thank the crew of Two Chicks Obsessed for hosting me today. I didn’t realize how many pop culture references I had on my States of Love novella, Dating in Retrospect, until I was halfway through it. Then, I embraced them.

When you first think of Iowa you don’t associate it with Hollywood and TV productions unless you’re from the area. But there are many movies, shows, and books that take place in the Hawkeye state. During their dating year, my main characters—Clay & Aaron—visited several places used or referenced in pop culture, and they quoted some of them as well.

Their first date takes place in Riverside, Iowa—future birthplace of James T. Kirk. You guessed it, my boys are geeks and aren’t afraid to admit it.

They also visited the Field of Dreams and the Bridges of Madison County. There are mentions of singing telegrams, the Radio City Rockettes, Star Trek, and some other popular shows & one-liners.

If you want to see how all of this plays a part in their relationship, you would have to read the story. Oh, and something I didn’t realize until this very moment, one of the characters gives a graduation speech, hint, hint. <3

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excerpt

Clay—May ’15

Back to the future and all of that were Clay’s first thoughts as he stepped out of the car. The campus looked the same—Midwest Americana at its best. Redbrick buildings and perfectly pruned trees surrounded him, but as if the last fifteen years hadn’t happened, Clay’s world narrowed to the man waiting at the top of the portico stairs. The only thing time had changed? Them.

“Here’s your receipt, Mr. Keller,” the valet said, interrupting Clay’s musings. He didn’t remember being as young as the valet. Mr. Keller was his father, but Clay didn’t feel like correcting the man’s error.

“Thank you.”

“Not a problem. The man in the light gray suit is Professor Grant. He will be your escort today.”

“Perfect,” Clay responded, smiling at the mention of having an escort at his service, especially one whose body he knew well. With a nod and a tip, Clay left the valet behind, turning his attention back to Professor Grant. Professor. Aaron had done it after all. Clay had never doubted it, even after Aaron decided to stay and work at his family’s farm instead of moving with him to LA. Now he needed to find out if he had a chance with Aaron. At least having him there, waiting for him, had to be a good sign. Today was his lucky day indeed. True, he hadn’t expected to see Aaron so soon. He had planned to stop by the farm after the commencement, but he was ready either way. Life had been rough lately, but having the opportunity to see Aaron again was worth coming back to the middle of Nowhere, Iowa.

He walked casually toward the man he’d left behind many summers ago—a man standing like a prizefighter, waiting for Clay to reach him. With only a couple of feet between them, Clay’s step faltered. Aaron didn’t seem happy to see him, more like he was ready to bolt before Clay got to him. Shaking his head and keeping his eyes on his prey, he closed the distance and extended his hand in greeting.

“Professor Grant, I believe you’re expecting me?” He hoped his smile would ease Aaron’s frown.

“That I am, Mr. Keller. As the university liaison, it is my pleasure to welcome you back to your alma mater and to convey the president’s and the board of trustees’ deepest regards.”

“How long did it take you to memorize that spiel? As far as I remember, you weren’t fond of formalities.” Neither of them let go of the other’s hand. Aaron’s touch, familiar and foreign, branded him in seconds.

“Ass.”

Aaron didn’t expect the hug that followed. As soon as their bodies touched, Aaron tensed, but Clay held him tighter.

“Relax, sunshine. It’s been a while.” Clay let Aaron go, but not before he rubbed his trimmed beard against Aaron’s clean-shaven face as he moved back.

 

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meet the author

Lila Leigh Hunter is the pen name of a Puerto Rican author with a hyphenated surname. Born and raised on the island, Lila grew up making up stories her siblings pretended to like. But no matter what they say, as the youngest of six, she’s still their mom’s favorite. According to the dusty diplomas on her wall, she’s an architectural designer living in Southern Texas with her husband and four military brats.

She spends most of her free time writing homoerotic romances about middle-aged men finding happiness and the rest hiding from pesky house chores. When outside of her cave, she likes to observe people and try to guess their stories. Sometimes she wishes the voices in her head were real; going out with the boys in her books sounds like a plan made in heaven.

Social Media

Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/ctHk41

Author’s Page: http://www.facebook.com/HunterRomances

Lila’s Cabana on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/groups/LilasBooks/

Facebook Profile: https://www.facebook.com/LilaLeighHunter

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Hunter_Romances

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lila_leigh/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/Hunter_Romances/

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/HunterRomances

Website: http://lilaleighhunter.wordpress.com

Email: llhunter.romance@gmail.com

Blog Tour Dates

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Better with Bacon by Matthew Lang: Blog Tour, Exclusive Excerpt, Guest Post and Giveaway

BetterWithBaconFS_v1synopsis

When Patrick’s long-term girlfriend Li Ling dumps him just as he’s working up the nerve to propose, he ends up drunk on David’s couch—and later in David’s bed. Although initially reluctant to pursue anything beyond a one-time drunken tryst, David throws caution to the wind during an intimate dinner, where the two men also discuss Patrick’s dream of entering the food industry. Just as the friends-turned-lovers are settling into their new romance, Li Ling calls Patrick—she’s pregnant.

Convinced the announcement spells the end of their love affair and a return to their platonic friendship, David flees to Sydney to escape his heartbreak. But upon his return to Melbourne, David discovers the situation hasn’t gone the way he’d expected. There might still be a chance for David and Patrick’s dreams to come true if they can forgive each other’s mistakes and move forward.

 

Guest Post

“Shit, they’ve done it. The Millennials have actually done it. They’ve created a space where you can be whatever gender identity you are, be attracted to whoever you want and no one fucking cares. It’s great!”
This comment recently found its way to my personal Facebook wall, along with another post from the same person decrying the lack of men in assless leather chaps and dykes with their tits out at Midsumma, Melbourne’s annual summer festival of queer art.
And my brain, being the annoyingly wonderfully overthinking and pattern forming organ that it is, immediately linked those two statements together. Normalisation. The process of being normal? The process of becoming normal. The process of having equality and equal rights has created both of the above situations. It’s arguably responsible for the death of lesbian bars, same sex marriage becoming increasingly recognised in the western world, and the fact that police stations in Australia have dedicated gay and lesbian community liaisons. I got a rainbow wristband from them at Carnival this year, actually.
Normalisation means not needing as many safe spaces as the last generation of queers did. It means that people who live vanilla lifestyles can be out proud, visible, and dragging moody teenagers along to queer carnival day when the kids clearly have better things to do I mean really. And people can do all that without having their reputations tarnished. Without social stigma. Without losing their jobs. Once, only those who dared to be overtly different dared to be out, now everyone else can too. At least, mostly. More often than not.
Even me being here, a gay man writing about gay men for a site run by women who love gay men is part of this long, slow movement that’s still being fought today (don’t get me started about how Australia doesn’t have marriage equality yet. Just don’t), but is so much better for each generation. It’s important to remember that we all owe an awful lot to the men in assless chaps, the topless dykes, and the trans women of colour to name just a few groups now eclipsed by the queer mainstream, if such a thing can be said to exist. We owe them for creating a world where you can be exactly where you are right now, reading these words and loving the stories that you read.
Without those who dared to go before, this onetime babygay might never have dreamed about writing stories. Or probably wouldn’t have dared dream of publishing and sharing them openly.
There’s still a lot of work to be done. There’s still a need to be daring – to be the guy with his metaphorical ass hanging out of his metaphorical chaps forging towards a better future for the marginalised. Now I have to check my own abled cisgendered male privilege and support the battles against transphobia and bipjobia in my bubble of liberalism. And not all gay men get that.
I’ll tell you something though – the ones that do? They’re sexy. And if you know any who are gay and single, send them my way, yeah?
In the meantime, I’ll keep writing about the messy realities that face men like me, and not quite like me, as this normalisation thing happens around us. I hope you’ll join me in moving it along.

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excerpt
Stonewall, named after both the New York Inn and the riots, had a name that now evoked a film that no one went to see. It was also one of David’s main haunts in Sydney—a good place to get a drink, get groped, dance a bit, and possibly even pick up. It was an older, mixed crowd than the nightclubs, and although there was a time for dancing for all hours, now didn’t seem to be one of them. David found himself ordering a G&T and kicking back on a couch, and wishing he’d brought his personal phone. Although he was aware there had been a time when people at bars talked to each other, he’d grown up with most people checking their phones first. To be fair, he could easily have gone up and inserted himself into a conversation with a “Hi, I’m new here” or a “Hi, I’m visiting and decided I should meet new people,” which normally worked, but tonight, he let the buzz of conversation swell around him and wrap him in its vibrancy and life. Something dancey in the Top 40 played overhead, and he smiled as he sank into the cushions of the couch and let the beat thrum through his bones.
“Wow, you look relaxed.”
David’s eyes snapped open, and he looked up into calm brown eyes framed by long brown hair that tumbled halfway down the man’s back.
“Yeah, well… stressful week.”
“Pool?” the man asked. “I’m hunting for games.”
“Huh?” Only then did David notice the pool cue gripped loosely in the man’s hand.
“Sure,” he said. “I don’t bet, though.”
“No, no, just a friendly game.” The man flashed him a grin. It was hard to pin down his age, as beard stubble added years to any face. He was of medium height, and had a stocky, muscular build, with forearms that David was a little jealous of. “I like talking to people over a game. There’s something to do besides fumble for the next topic of conversation.”
David laughed. “I suppose lining up your shot gives you an excuse to be silent.”
“It does. Pool also makes it more likely that guys come up and watch—and talk to you. And it also lets you approach interesting people and chat to them without being creepy.”
“Interesting?”
“Are you telling me you’re not?”
“I work in banking,” David said. “By definition….”
The bestubbled man deliberately looked David up and down, his eyes lingering on David’s chest and crotch. “I don’t know. One banker I met moonlighted as a stripper. You’ve got the body for that.”

morgan review

This was the first book I have ever read by Matthew Lang. The story started off pretty good and ended well, I just wasn’t feeling the middle very much. The MC’s have some communication issues and it causes one of them, in my opinion, to make a bad decision that I just couldn’t see him making if he cared about his best friend as much as he said he did. I know the head space he was in might have caused him to run when faced with the big issue, but the other decision he makes just made me itch.  Of course everyone deals with stress in different ways so I gave him the benefit of the doubt and kept reading. When the two get together and finally talk things out their relationship takes off and there are quite a few ‘awwww’ moments, but by that point I still wasn’t feeling it that much. I will check out a few more books by Matthew Lang considering this was the first thing I have read by this author, for sure. I’ll have to go with 3 pieces of eye candy for this one.

3-pieces of eye candy

meet the author
Matthew Lang writes behind a desk, in the park, on the tram, and sometimes backstage at amateur theater productions. He has been known to sing and dance in public and analyze the plots of movies and TV shows, and is a confessed Masterchef addict. He has dabbled in film, machinema, event management, and even insurance, but his first love has always been the written word. He is suspected of frequenting libraries and hanging around in bookstores, and his therapists believe he may be plotting some form of literature.

My Social Media:
Website: www.matthew-lang.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MattLangWrites/
Twitter: @mattlangwrites

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Daily Grind By Anna Zabo: Blog Tour and Guest Post

Daily_Grind
synopsisA man discovers that love can show up when you least expect it—and in a much different form—in this piping-hot romance from the author of Due Diligence and Just Business.

Brian Keppler, owner of Ground N’At, the coffee shop beneath SR Anderson Consulting, doesn’t have time for a relationship. His most recent girlfriend broke up with him because he’d become married to his shop, which is falling apart without his favorite barista, Justin.

As he struggles to stay afloat, the arrival of handsome British high-tech whiz Robert Ancroft becomes another complication. Rob quickly becomes a fixture at the shop with his sharp wit and easy charm, and Brian soon finds himself looking forward more and more to Rob’s visits—to the point where his heart skips a beat when he walks in.

But will Brian be able to come to terms with his previously unexplored sexual identity and find happiness now that he has a chance?

Guest Post
While I was writing Just Business back in 2015, two minor characters poked me in the ribs and told me they had books, too. The first was Fazil who pretty much shouted at me that he wasn’t straight, even though Eli was convinced he was (Fazil’s book is Due Diligence).
The other was Brian, the owner of Grounds N’at and Justin White’s boss until Sam hires him away. Brian was a lot quieter about his bisexuality. And I knew his book would be about him exploring that side of his sexuality for the first time—that the book would be, to a certain extent, a coming out book.
I called it my bi-for-you book, and that’s the book that became Daily Grind.
Daily Grind is Brian’s story from start to finish. It’s also Rob’s story, but it’s Brian who must work to get his happy ever after. He has the most to lose—and gain—in the novel.
Brian has known and accepted his attraction to all genders for a long time, but he’s only dated women because that was easier when he was younger. He struggled a lot with bi-phobia in college (being bi was only a stepping stone to gay or that bi was something women did, and only to attract guys) and at that point, pretty much gave up on the idea of being outwardly bi. He’d thought he’d made his peace with that, especially since he was pretty much married to his shop anyway.
Then Rob Ancroft walks in and Brian just can’t help himself.
I really didn’t want the book to be about the angst of being bisexual. That wasn’t really the main thrust of the story. I wanted the story to be about Brian falling for Rob and what has to change in his life for him to have is happy ever after, not about Brian fretting over his sexuality. Brian’s always been bi—that hasn’t changed. At thirty-eight, he doesn’t have much angst about being bi anymore. In fact, at his age now, he feels silly holding on to the worry of his younger self, so he lets it go and jumps right into loving a guy.
The fun bits are all the firsts he gets to experience, even though he’s not at all a virgin.
He’s also utterly relieved to discover that everything feels perfect and normal. Because it is. As Rob says to Brian at one point, there’s nothing wrong with being bisexual.
Now if only Brian can stop being a workaholic…
I do hope you enjoy reading Brian’s book as much as I enjoyed writing it!

DailyGrind_Blog_tour

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meet the author
Anna Zabo writes contemporary and paranormal romance for all colors of the rainbow and believes passionately that happy ever afters are for everyone. Anna lives and works in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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Open Case by Mickie B. Ashling: Blog Tour, Exclusive Excerpt and Giveaway

Cover-Open CasesynopsisSeth Wilder and Bryce McFarland deal with the aftermath of Owen Lightfoot’s destructive rampage. Once again, the insurance company denies the life insurance benefit despite the compelling evidence regarding the underlying cause of Mark’s death. However, they acknowledge their former employee’s complicity in the multiple crimes that have blindsided Seth and Bryce. They settle to keep their names out of the news, offering the couple a million dollars apiece, which they accept.

Owen learns of the big payoff and is determined to get his cut. Just when Seth and Bryce think it is all over, Owen reappears, and what follows tests the very limit of their endurance. Through the help of friends and relatives, Seth and Bryce find the strength to keep their relationship intact while seeking out the best way to stop Owen once and for all.

Author: Mickie B. Ashling

Series: Open Trilogy #3

Release Date: February 3, 2017

Genre: Contemporary Gay Romance

Length: 200 pages

Cover Artist: Catt Ford

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Guest Post

Hi, all! Thanks for stopping by to help me celebrate the release of Open Case, the final novel in the Open Series. I’m excited to share an exclusive excerpt and give you a chance to win a few giveaways. Those of you who haven’t read the first two books, Open Seating and Open House, will want to catch up before you start this one.

Since the status change from friends to lovers, Seth Wilder and Bryce McFarland, have had more challenges than the average couple. Through it all, they’ve been united, communicating without reservation in their quest for a happy ending. Now that it’s within reach, Bryce’s ex-lover, sociopath Owen Lightfoot, is back, intent on destroying it all.

I’d like to thank Two Chicks Obsessed for hosting and my wonderful publicist J for her excellent help in organizing my blog tour.

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tco exclusive

The combination gun supply and shooting range was out in Des Plaines, a thirty-minute drive barring traffic. When they left the condo at six thirty, most of the daily commuters had cleared out and they made good time. The shop normally closed at five on Monday, but Jack knew the owner, and being with the Chicago PD did have some advantages. He explained this to Bryce and Seth when they pulled into the parking lot and saw that it was empty except for Jack’s unmarked vehicle. The owners had allowed him to use the facility after hours to give Seth and Bryce their expedited tutorial. They’d even left a 9mm Glock 34 for Seth’s use, along with several rounds of ammunition. Bryce had his own weapon but did avail himself of the store’s ammo. Jack made them sign the standard waivers before they started.

For Bryce, the three hours they spent with Jack had been a much-needed refresher course. He knew how to clean, load, and handle a gun, but it had been a long time since he’d removed it from the case and aimed it at a target. He was grateful for the time Jack had allotted to get him back up to speed. Seth, on the other hand, was completely in the dark. After going over the safety fundamentals, Jack showed Seth how to load and unload his weapon, the proper stance for aiming when standing or in a crouched position, rapid reloading, and some troubleshooting in case the weapon jammed. Seth was visibly uncomfortable handling the Glock and flinched each time he fired a shot. Eventually, he settled down, and by the end of their session he could fire the gun without squeezing his eyes shut and actually hit the target, albeit far off the bull’s-eye.

When they were getting ready to shut down for the night, Bryce mentioned the possibility of borrowing his sister’s dog to keep Seth company during the day.

“Can’t hurt,” Jack said. “But a dog won’t stop a bullet, and Seth will have to walk him at least twice a day. Once they step out of the apartment, the safety factor is greatly reduced.”

“You said you’ve got eyes on us 24/7,” Seth protested.

“My guys are in place to keep Owen from getting into your building. They can’t be trailing after you while you’re walking the pooch.”

Bryce stared at Jack, trying to decipher if there was a mixed message. “So what’s the bottom line? Should he go and get the dog or not?”

“That’s up to you guys, but if you decide to do it, watch your back when you take him out to do his business.”

“Next question,” Seth interjected. “How would you feel about me driving myself to Indiana and back without Bryce?”

Jack looked at Bryce, who was hoping for a negative response. Whatever signal Jack picked up prompted him to ask, “What does Bryce think?”

“He doesn’t want me to go alone.”

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meet the author

Mickie B. Ashling is the pseudonym of a multifaceted woman who is a product of her upbringing in multiple cultures, having lived in Japan, the Philippines, Spain, and the Middle East. Fluent in three languages, she’s a citizen of the world and an interesting mixture of East and West. A little bit of this and a lot of that have brought a unique touch to her literary voice she could never learn from textbooks.

By the time Mickie discovered her talent for writing, real life got in the way, and the business of raising four sons took priority. With the advent of e-publishing—and the inevitable emptying nest—dreams of becoming a published writer were resurrected and she’s never looked back.

She stumbled into the world of men who love men in 2002 and continues to draw inspiration from their ongoing struggle to find equality and happiness in this oftentimes skewed and intolerant world. Her award-winning novels have been called “gut wrenching, daring, and thought provoking.” She admits to being an angst queen and making her men work damn hard for their happy endings.

Mickie currently resides in a suburb outside Chicago.

CONNECT WITH MICKIE

Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads & Ask the Author | Website | Email

 

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Poppy’s Secret by Andrew Grey: Author Guest Post, Release Day Review, Excerpt and Giveaway

perf4.250x7.000.inddsynopsisA second chance born of love.

Pat Corrigan and Edgerton “Edge” Winters were ready to start a family—or so Pat thought. At the last minute, Edge got cold feet and fled. Pat didn’t bother telling him the conception had already gone through and little Emma was on her way. He didn’t want a relationship based on obligation. He’d rather raise his daughter on his own.

Nine years later, Emma and her Poppy are doing fine. Edge isn’t. He realizes what he threw away by leaving, and he’s back to turn his life around and reclaim his family. It’ll take a lot to prove to Pat that he’s a new man, and even if Edge succeeds, the secret Pat has hidden for years might shatter their dreams all over again.

Title: Poppy’s Secret
Author: Andrew Grey
Release date: February 15, 2017
Category: Contemporary, Dreamspun Desires
Pages: 90

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Guest Post

I am a romance junkie and a member of Romance Writers of America.  So each year I judge one of their contests and last year I judged a secret baby book.  I discovered something new.  To top it off a friend told me that she particularly loves secret baby books, so when she challenged me to come up with one, I rose to the challenge and Poppy’s Secret is the result.  Yes, my demented imagination came up with a scenario for an MM secret baby book.  It was fun to write and I hope it’s as much fun to read!!!!

Heather's Review

Poppy’s Secret by Andrew Grey is one of my first reads from the Dreamspun Desires line from Dreamspinner. Typically, I’m more of a fan of series, especially from authors like Andrew Grey. This is because I love the idea of getting to know a community of characters and see glimpses of previous couples in future books. If I was to say anything against Poppy’s Secret, it would be that I wish I’d get to see them again in the future, because I loved Edge and Pat.

This is a second chance story in every sense of the term. Pat and Edge were in love and planning a future. Then, Edge felt the weight of adult life weighing down on him and ran. Now, he’s back and hoping he can prove to Pat that he knows exactly how badly he screwed up. The problem is, life didn’t stop for Pat when Edge left and Pat moved forward with their plans to start a family even though he was doing it on his own.

As happens often in Andrew Grey’s books, little Miss Emma was as much of a main character as the men. The eight year old is now the center of Pat’s universe, and before he can let Edge in, he needs to know he’s not going to run again, hurting not only Pat, but also Emma. And he’s worried that when his secret is revealed, Edge will run.

I can’t tell you too much more than that, but I will say this story ended with a great case of the happy feels.

Definitely a great book to pick up when you need something with only a touch of angst and a great story.

4 pieces of eye candy

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excerpt

“I saw him yesterday,” Edge told his sister, Terry, when she called while he was waiting for his first coffee of the day. “I was at one of the clubs to have a good time. He was on his way out, and he literally ran into me.”

“Let me guess. He welcomed you back with open arms and said that he forgave you for being the biggest jackass of all time, and that now that you were back, the two of you could pick up right where things left off.” Terry could be the biggest smartass on the planet. “I told you then that you were being a jerk.”

“You were sixteen. Everyone was a jerk then.”

“Maybe,” Terry conceded. “But I was still right, and you know it. That job that started this whole thing was just an excuse because you were scared of all the things Pat wanted, and by the way, he has and you don’t. I still see him every now and then.”

“Does he talk to you?” Edge asked.

“Of course he does. I’m not the douche who left him. That was you. I’m just your sister, and that daughter of his is beautiful and wonderfully smart. I used to see them more than I do now that they moved.” She was taunting him—it was another of her skills.

“How come you know all this and I don’t?”

“Maybe because I still live in Harrisburg and you moved to Boston nine years ago and never looked back until everything went to shit and you decided to come home.”

Edge wanted to growl at her, but he couldn’t because she was right, no matter how much attitude she threw his way. “Can you knock it off for a few seconds at least?”

“Fine, but what fun is that? You still have feelings for the guy you ran out on years ago, probably when he needed you the most. Edge, I gotta tell you that if you did that to me, I’d probably tell you to fuck off too. I mean, it has been nine years, as I said. He has a life that doesn’t include you. What did you expect, that he’d spent the entire time you were gone wishing he had you back? Come on. You’re an interesting guy, but nobody waits around for someone that long.”

“Okay,” Edge sighed. “But it was good seeing him again. He looks good, and—”

“So you’re the one still carrying the torch. That’s priceless and pathetic. You were the guy who left, remember?” A cry rose behind her. “Look, I gotta go. Margie needs to be changed and fed, and I think you need to get over yourself and realize that the past is that past and that it’s probably best if it stays there. I know things fell apart, but you have a good job here, and you’re building a life again. You just need to realize that your life isn’t going to include Pat.”

That was harder than Edge thought it would be. He’d had nine years, and even after all the things he’d done and the places he’d been for his art, none of them had ever measured up to what he’d had with Pat. Edge knew he’d screwed up in a major way, though it had taken him months to realize it, and by then he knew it was way too damn late. “I know, but seeing him brought back all that stuff I thought I’d buried.”

“Nothing is ever buried for long. It always surfaces, and when it does you have to deal with it. Buried emotions are like those coffins that floated up in New Orleans during Katrina.”

“Thanks for that image. Now I’m going to see floating coffins.” He paused and closed his eyes as the images floated through his mind. “I’ll let you go.” His sister would need to get the kids ready for daycare.

andrew-grey-picmeet the author

Andrew grew up in western Michigan with a father who loved to tell stories and a mother who loved to read them. Since then he has lived throughout the country and traveled throughout the world. He has a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and works in information systems for a large corporation.

Andrew’s hobbies include collecting antiques, gardening, and leaving his dirty dishes anywhere but in the sink (particularly when writing)  He considers himself blessed with an accepting family, fantastic friends, and the world’s most supportive and loving partner. Andrew currently lives in beautiful, historic Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

Author Links

Amazon Author Page

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Dreamspinner Press

Facebook

Facebook Group All the Way with Andrew Grey

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Twitter @andrewgreybooks

Website

 

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TCO Exclusive Guest Post: Victoria Sue – A Five-Minute Valentine

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TCO is so excited!!!! Victoria Sue has offered to do a monthly guest column on Two Chicks Obsessed, and we couldn’t be more thrilled. First, because we absolutely adore this woman…and if and when you meet her, we guarantee you will too. Second, because she always brings the fun, sexy and delicious times. And third…because she is British, and you know that at some point, we will be doing some sort of audio interview. 😉

So, without further ado, Victoria Sue is here with her first guest column, which is a fantastic little bite out of her fantastic new series. Book 1 is called Five Minutes Longer, and if you haven’t read it, grab it now, because you will want to read it as soon as you read her Five-Minute Valentine short.

Enjoy!

 

tco exclusive

A Five-Minute Valentine

 

“So, are you going with the traditional flowers and chocolates, or are you being a bit more creative?”

Talon blinked at Gael, having no earthly idea what he was talking about. “Please don’t tell me you forgot,” Gael said flatly.

Talon paused, his mind going a mile a minute. It wasn’t Finn’s birthday. “Fuck,” he swore succinctly. Fucking Valentine’s day was tomorrow. Gael slapped him on the back, grinning.

“He’s a guy,” Talon said defensively after a few seconds.

“Who’s a guy?” They both glanced up as Vance came down the corridor toward where they were standing outside the medical bay.

“Finn, apparently,” Gael drawled.

“Huh?” Vance looked from one of them to the other in confusion.

“I mean he’s not going to be into all that stuff, flowers and shit,” but even as Talon spoke the words, he knew it was a lie. Gael just raised an eyebrow. Vance barked out a laugh.

“You forgot Valentine’s day.”

“You could just take him out for dinner,” Gael suggested.

“When?” Talon nearly wailed not even attempting to disguise his I know and freely admit I’ve fucked up voice. It was nearly ten p.m. They had just finished up a really long day and they’d all eaten take-out earlier. “He’s going on that crime scene forensics course tomorrow, and I have no idea what time he’s gonna be done.”

“There are one or two places that will be open late in Ybor,” Gael mused. “Although, Friday and Valentine’s Day? It’ll be a zoo.”

Talon nearly growled in frustration. He hated eating out. Hated the stares, the whispers when they saw the mark on his face. The fear and mistrust many didn’t bother to hide. “Gianelli’s,” Vance pronounced naming their favorite Italian restaurant. Gianelli’s had a private back room, and they had originally gone to celebrate Doctor Natalie’s engagement. The doc had gotten Gael the private help he had needed when he was diagnosed with skin cancer and had kept it away from the bureau. When she’d asked them to come, they couldn’t say no. They’d all been eating and suddenly heard the sound of raised voices in the main dining room. It had turned out there was a birthday party going on, except the boyfriend of the birthday girl had objected to her ex thinking he could turn up and it had quickly become a fight. Talon and Vance had just grabbed a man each by the collar and hauled them outside. It had been over and done with in a few seconds, and the owner was so grateful his restaurant hadn’t got wrecked, they’d all drunk complimentary champagne. It was the only place the team ever went to eat out, not including Betty’s Diner.

Talon pulled his phone from his pocket and started dialing the number. Three restaurants later he gave up in disgust. Everywhere was slammed. The others didn’t take bookings but were expecting wait periods of at least an hour and the thought that he had no idea what time Finn was going to be back made the two early slots he was offered impossible to accept.

“Can’t you stop and get him something on the way home?” Vance asked.

“The truck’s in for service. We’re both in Finn’s.” In fact, any second his boyfriend was going to come out of the locker rooms looking for him. As if Finn had heard him, the door opened at the end of the corridor and Finn came out with Sawyer. Finn was laughing, and Sawyer was shaking his head in amusement. Finn looked up, and Talon met his green eyes. Everything in him soothed instantly. He wanted to do something special. He didn’t want to do chocolates and flowers, and yeah, he’d stuffed up the chance of both because he’d forgotten. Forgot Finn was normal, and he was anything but. Forgot his boyfriend was and would always be the very best thing that had ever happened to him. Forgot he wasn’t supposed to take him for granted. His lips curled upwards in the answering smile to Finn’s soft one.

“You done?” Finn said softly and gasped as Talon drew him in close to his body. Finn looked around, alarmed.

“Everyone’s gone home,” Talon murmured desperately wanting a kiss.

“Well, we haven’t,” Sawyer groaned, turning and following a chuckling Vance. Gael threw him a pointed look and then ruffled Finn’s hair.

“Knock ‘em dead, tomorrow, kid.”

Finn’s eyes sparkled, all eager. “I can’t wait.”.

Talon smiled indulgently. He couldn’t imagine anything more boring than discussing the nuances of directional blood-spatter, but he knew Finn had just bought a book by a famous forensics scientist in preparation for the course and Talon had already been lectured by his boyfriend on the value of it. Apparently, the book – Forensics for Fiction – had been written for authors, but Finn had raved about it and had even gotten their boss Gregory interested. Their team didn’t have the experience to handle murders in any way, and to be honest, they were having enough problems with the living, but Gregory was trying as hard as he could to plug all the numerous gaps in their training.

And Finn was an asset Gregory had recognized when he had been too stupid to. No, he had to get Finn something special…

 

 

Talon was fairly pleased with how things were going so far. He’d deliberately turned off Finn’s alarm and woken him up with breakfast in bed. Just a little too late to have Finn worrying about anything other than ramming down his chocolate chip muffin and racing in and out of the shower. He’d arranged for Gael to pick him up as he was still without the truck and after Finn had disappeared in an eager blur, he was showered and ready for Gael when he showed. Gael quizzed him immediately when he’d arrived, but Talon had just said everything was in hand. Gael had grinned and called him a lucky bastard. Which he knew. He had a dozen stops to make when he got his truck back but was waiting outside the training area next to the Tampa PD building when Finn came out of the door. Finn looked in surprise when Gael took his keys from him and promised Finn his “baby” would be safe and sound in their parking garage when he needed it tomorrow. Talon steered a bemused Finn to his truck and got him settled in there.

He started the truck and turned around. “You thought I’d forgotten, didn’t you?”

Finn opened his mouth, then closed it, and Talon smiled at the pink flush that started in his neck. He leaned over and pressed his lips to Finn’s, satisfied when he felt Finn’s hands creep around his back. He pulled back and then nearly—for a split second—thought to hell with the plan and wanted just to drive Finn home and carry him to bed, but he didn’t.

“I hope you’re hungry.”

Fifteen minutes later they pulled up outside Betty’s Diner. “What are we doing here?” Finn asked in astonishment. Talon grinned and jumped down from the truck and was at Finn’s door before he’d recovered from his shock enough to open it. Betty served breakfast and lunch six days a week, closed at 3 p.m., and it was the first place Talon had ever taken Finn to. To be honest, the diner looked closed. All the shutters were down, and it looked like the usual emergency lighting was on when you glanced at the door.

Talon just smiled and clasped Finn’s hand which he almost never did. He led Finn solemnly to the door and opened it. “I screwed up and forgot to book anywhere early enough.”

But Finn didn’t answer. He was too busy staring at the setting inside. Betty stood beaming, but even Talon was impressed at the table. All the smaller tables usually in the middle had been pushed to the side against the booths. The only table left was set up in the middle of the now empty floor. Talon blinked at the snowy white tablecloth and napkins, and the two candles flickering gently. The bottle of champagne he had dropped off earlier was chilling in the ice bucket. There were rose petals sprinkled over the table, and a single rose in a vase next to the candles.

Finn’s hand tightened in his, and he glanced at him quickly. The green eyes he loved shimmered as he stared, and then Finn gazed back at Talon and swallowed.

“It’s beautiful, Betty. Thank you,” Talon said, quietly.

“How?” Finn swallowed, and Talon guided him to the table. Talon didn’t answer because Betty was busy serving the soup. Finn inhaled. “My favorite.”

Betty beamed. “Of course,” and then she sniffed in that what did you expect kind of way. Talon’s belly growled as he smelled Betty’s homemade tomato soup. He’d spent all day worrying about making tonight perfect and hadn’t even thought about eating anything.

“How was your day?” Talon said.

Finn’s face lit up, and Talon listened as Finn eagerly told him what he had learned. They finished their steak and Betty pulled over a cart with some tiny deserts for them to share, and pressed a set of keys into Talon’s hand. “You just lock up when you’re done.” Finn stood up and threw his arms around her, and she chuckled and left them alone.

It was immediately quiet, and Talon swallowed down his suddenly dry throat. “You would be right thinking I forgot about Valentine’s day…I did.” Talon watched the green eyes he loved widen a little at his pronouncement, but then Finn’s face softened, and his smile was back. Gentle, forgiving and sexy as all hell. He was crap at sharing, but Finn deserved the truth and so much more.

“Normal life stopped for me the day I woke up with this.” Talon gestured to his face, then took Finn’s slim hands in his because he needed the touch. “Grandma and Grandad tried, but after Grandad died I stopped bothering.” He shrugged. “I never saw anything worth celebrating.” Finn’s hand tightened in his. “No, that’s not even strictly true. It…” Talon swallowed again, searching for the right words. “It was as if normal life didn’t involve me. Other people had lives. Went to ball games, hell – even dated. So, I didn’t forget exactly. I knew it was Valentine’s day. I just stopped thinking anything like that applied to me.”

Finn’s eyes glittered, and Talon brought Finn’s hand up to his mouth and kissed Finn’s palm. He needed a few seconds to cover his own eyes becoming suspiciously bright. Talon slid a hand into his back pocket and brought out an envelope. He squeezed Finn’s hand before he let go and straightened the envelope a little before handing it over. Finn’s lips parted soundlessly. “Yours is at home.”

Talon understood immediately. “And I bet you would never have said a word about it if I hadn’t.” Finn would never try and make him feel bad. Finn’s lips curled up into the shy smile he loved. “Open it.”

Finn tore the envelope and grinned when he saw the card. He arched an eyebrow. “This is a valentine card?”

Talon chuckled. “I think it’s a birthday card, but I managed to find one with nothing written on it. He watched as Finn read the words Talon had written and saw the lump travel down Finn’s throat.

super hero with heart

“I think this is you, not me,” Finn said quietly. “You’re the one with the super abilities.”

“Come here,” Talon ordered quietly, and Finn got up, and Talon drew him close until he was sitting on his lap. Talon gently raised Finn’s chin with his finger until their eyes met and held. “Every day. Every day you make me a better person. Every day when I can’t love myself, you do it for me. You have the biggest heart of anyone I know, and I don’t know how the hell I ever got so lucky that you make room in it for me.” Talon thumbed the moisture from under Finn’s eyes and captured his lips with his own.

He had gone to five stores before he had found the card he wanted. It had a picture of Superman on it, and Talon could hear the words as he had written them.

“You are my hero. Love is your superpower, and you save me with it every day.”

 

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Working It by Christine D’Abo: Blog Tour, Guest Post, and Giveway

working-itsynopsis

Nolan Carmichael is getting a fresh start—new career, new company, new life. The only problem is, he liked his old life just fine . . . until an accident robbed him of his health, his job, his self-confidence, and his ability to go out in public without having anxiety attacks.

Zack Anderson has scared away his last four executive assistants. So when he hires Nolan on a whim, he’s not too worried, since Nolan will be gone within the week anyway. Two weeks later, Nolan has made himself indispensable, completely reforming Zack’s schedule, life . . . and libido.

But in a company already torn by internal politics, one wrong step could ruin both their careers. And not only are they working to reopen Ringside Gym, Zack’s retreat when he was a troubled teen, but they also can’t help themselves falling for each other. If only the rest of their lives could go as smoothly as things do when they’re alone together.

Guest Post

Thank you for having me here today. I’m so happy to be able to talk to you about my new book, WORKING IT, which is book one in my new Ringside Romance series. Don’t let the series title fool you, this is low on the boxing and high on sexual tension.

As an avid reader of all things romance, I personally love it when authors take chances and play around with what we consider typical romance tropes. Those situations that for whatever reason, really work for us as lovers of romance. One of my personal favorite tropes is the whole boss-assistant dynamic. There’s something wonderful about the tension that can be created when two people are working together, under pressure and in close quarters, that appeals to me.

I wanted to take this trope and do something a little fun with it. What would happen if both the characters were gay? What if they were so vastly different that under any other circumstance they probably never meet, let alone fall in love? What if they worked day in and day out in an office together?

In WORKING IT, Nolan Carmichael is working through the trauma of a serious car accident. He gets a job as Zack Anderson’s executive assistant, a position that no one at the company wants. Somehow the two of them work through their differences and fall in love.

I hope you’ll come along for the ride.

You can visit Christine at her website www.christinedabo.com, and chat with her on Facebook and Twitter. Want to keep up with Christine’s new releases? Sign up for her newsletter and receive a free book!

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giveaway

To celebrate the release of Working It, one lucky winner will receive a $25 Riptide Publishing credit! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on February 11, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

meet the author

A romance novelist and short story writer, Christine has over thirty publications to her name. She loves to exercise and stops writing just long enough to keep her body in motion too. When she’s not pretending to be a ninja in her basement, she’s most likely spending time with her family and two dogs.

Connect with Christine:

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The Seventh Flower by Ingela Bohm: Guest Post, Release Day Review, includes Giveaway

The Seventh Flower_HIGHRESsynopsisChrister is too old to believe in fairy tales. He’s not the kind of guy to pick the proverbial seven flowers on Midsummer’s Eve so he can dream of who he will marry, and he certainly isn’t the type to fall for someone he’s just met. Especially not a womanizing blogger named Henrik.

Besides, Christer’s previous marriage didn’t end with a happily ever after. Therefore, he has no interest in gifting his heart to someone who lives five hundred miles away and probably isn’t even gay. His family is right: it’s time he grew up and stopped dreaming.

But Midsummer’s Eve in Sweden is a magical night, and Henrik won’t stop flirting. As the midnight sun shines down on the misty woods, maybe there’s room for one last dream.

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

Title: The Seventh Flower
Author: Ingela Bohm
Release Date: February 8, 2017
Category: Contemporary, Holiday
Pages: 76

Guest Post

Seven flowers

My new novella, The Seventh Flower, takes as its premise a local legend which says that if you pick seven flowers on Midsummer’s Eve and put them under your pillow, you’ll dream of the person you will marry. Cute, sure, but where I come from it can be a challenge to actually find seven flowers in June, because it’s so far north. That sounds like I live on the tundra or something, but it’s just that the winter is very long and the seeds don’t have that much time to grow.

That said, there are some beautiful specimens to be found if you know where to look. In The Seventh Flower, Christer and Henrik first stumble on the arctic starflower. It’s a little gem, its perfect petals looking like they’re cut out from white paper. You can walk right past them and never notice, but once you do, they’re everywhere. Like tiny stars, they dot the shadowy forest floor, and they never fail to make me smile.

A more visible flower is the beaked parsley that you can gather in masses if you want. It lines every country road, and I think it would take over the entire world if given half a chance. It’s not very luxurious as flowers go, but in the soft light of the midnight sun, shrouded in mist, it’s not bad at all.

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Then of course there’s the buttercup, which is such a pretty name when you think about it. I used to think they contained actual butter – probably one of my older siblings fooled me, because they always found that an exceptionally rewarding hobby. But when you look at the petals of a buttercup, they glisten in the sun and look almost oily, so it’s not that much of a stretch.

Cranesbill is another classic around here, and together with beaked parsley and buttercups it gives the Swedish summer its typical colors: white, yellow, and purple. Everywhere you look, in ditches and fields and hedgerows, you’ll see the same three colors: white, yellow, and purple. I sometimes think our flag should be those colors instead of yellow and blue.

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In fact the county flower of my region is the heartsease, or wild pansy, which is made up of those exact colors, so that’s really fitting.

The marsh marigold was another favorite of mine when I was little. It was such an unexpected flower where it bloomed at the very edge of the riverbanks, shining golden against the dark water. Compared to the other small and unassuming flowers that we got early in the summer, it had the allure of a rare treasure.

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So that makes six flowers that you can find in the north of Sweden in June, and perhaps Christer and Henrik will never find more than that. Maybe the woods where they celebrate Midsummer’s Eve are just too barren, just too cold to yield that seventh flower. After all, what can you hope for in a man you meet once, as a fluke? Not marriage, surely.

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Dreamspinner Press

 

denise review

 

meet the author

Goodreads photoIngela Bohm lives in an old cinema, tucked away in a northern Swedish forest where she can wander around all day long and dictate her books. She used to dream of being an actor until an actual actor asked, “Do you really need to do it?” That’s when she realized that the only thing she really needed to do was to write. She has since pretended to be a dietician, a teacher, a receptionist and a cook, but only to conceal her real identity.

Her first imaginary friend was called Grabolina and lived in her closet. Nowadays she has too many imaginary friends to count, but at least some of them are out of the closet. Her men may not be conventionally handsome, but they can charm your pants off, and that’s all that matters.

Ingela’s more useless talents include reading tarot cards, killing pot plants and drawing scandalous pictures that no one gets to see. She can’t walk in heels and she’s stopped trying, but she has cycled 12 000 miles in the UK and knows which campsites to avoid if you don’t like spiders. If you see her on the train you will wonder what age she is.

To get updates on Ingela Bohm’s work, please sign up for her newsletter or connect at her

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Books by Ingela Bohm

The Pax Cymrica series:

Just Playing

The Road Taken

Release

Cutting Edge

 

Standalone novels:

Rival Poet

Not Safe For Work

Last Communion

All You Can Eat

 

Short stories:

Seven Thousand Minutes

Strings Attached

The Subjunctive Mood

Beneath The Mask

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Do You Trust Me? by B.G. Thomas: Exclusive Guest Post, Excerpt, Review and Giveaway included

do you trust me

Guest Post

I would like to tell you a little bit about my new novel “Do You Trust Me?” And the fact that in some ways it isn’t new. And yet, it is….

Awhile back I had the opportunity to write a novella for Amber Quill Press called “Trust Me.” I got the idea to tell the story of the Black Bear Guest Ranch and the people who lived and worked there. It was a really wonderful experience. These characters, even secondary and tertiary, became so real to me. With feelings and passions and experances and more. I soon found myself wishing that I could stay at Black Bear. And in my mind I often do, especially when I go back a re-read that story.

There there were my romantic heroes. First there was Neil Baxter and his family and the characters that surrounded him. Family. Co-workers. He became so real to me. And I wanted my hero to represent a lot of gay men I’ve know in my life, and that is men who came out in life. Gay men who grew up in my generation found the pressures of a straight society made them try a live a straight life. To pretend not only to family and friends that they weren’t gay, but to convince themselves of that as well.

Let me tell you, it isn’t easy. But a gay man can come to hate himself, or at least the gay part of him. We can convince ourselves such things as that gay part is a demon that possesses us. Or that love is love and as long as we are in love, it doesn’t matter if that person is a man or a woman. And if it doesn’t matter, then why not be with a woman? And as humans, we love men and women. So it doesn’t take a lot to convince ourselves that the love with feel for a woman is more than it is. And then we get married and have kids and we don’t want to hurt them. And we stay—and convince ourselves that being gay isn’t a vital part of who we are. We say stuff like, “I don’t want to be labeled.” We armor ourselves with such stuff as “God hates the sin but loves the sinner.” And some of us pray and pray and pray, begging God to make us straight. It is amazing how we can convince even ourselves….

That is part of what this story is about. How a man can come out so late in life.

Then there is Cole Thompson. Now there is a man I wished I had been. A man who knew from day one who he was. A man who chose not to lie to himself or anyone else. And a man who overcame some pretty rough situations in his life to be out and proud.

I overnight came to be passionate about these passionate men. To feel for them and to love them and to have them speak to me through my heart.

And then there was a blow. I had to stop writing before the story was over. The publisher was only accepting novellas. They had that right. And I picked a story that couldn’t be told in the word count they were allowing. But I was a new writer at the time and so I wrapped the story up. I ended it before I really wanted to. And it’s a good story. I like it. A lot of readers did. And I am grateful to Amber Quill for the chance to tell my story.

But then something magical happened. I got a chance not many people do. I got a chance to expand my novella into the novel I always wanted it to be. I was able to put more heart and more passion into the story. Re-writing and updating that story was powerful and wonderful! And I think Dreamspinner Press for giving me that opportunity.

Now here is something else you may or may not know. A lot of writers “cast” their characters. Especially those of us who can’t draw. I envy those who can draw from their heads what their characters look like. So, I am going to do something! I am going to share with you some pictures of how I see what my beloved characters look like. Those pictures allowed me to write with even more passion. Just to let you know, the inspiration for Neil was Christophe Dominici, a French rugby player. Cole was inspired by Cain, an adult actor for Corbin Fisher studios.

Others include Amy Adams as Amy Radcliff, Neil’s sister-in-law. Charlie Koontz as Leo Carmichael, the young wrangler who has a crush on Cole. And Ann Haney and Bill Nighy as Darla and Vincent Clark, the owners of Black Bear Guest Ranch.

And on that note, here is the blurb for “Do You Trust Me?” I hope it intrigues you!

synopsis

The path to happiness starts with acceptance, and sometimes the chance for a bright, loving future means letting go of the past.

All his life, Neil Baxter has buried a large part of himself—the part that’s attracted to other men. He married a woman and denied that side of him existed. And he plans to keep right on pretending to be straight after his beloved wife has passed away.

To help him deal with his grief, Neil’s sister-in-law convinces him to vacation at a dude ranch. There, Neil meets Cole Thompson, a young, gorgeous, unabashedly gay wrangler—who is unabashedly attracted to Neil. And try as he might, Neil cannot deny he feels the same way. But desire soon becomes something more profound as the two men get to know each other. Cole is much more than a sexy cowboy: he’s kind, spiritual, and intelligent. In fact, he’s perfect for Neil… except he’s a man, and Neil isn’t ready to let go of a lifetime of denial. If he cannot find the courage to be true to himself, he might let something wonderful slip through his fingers.

First Edition published as Trust Me by Amber Quill Press, 2011.

Title: Do You Trust Me?
Author: B.G. Thomas
Release Date: February 3, 2017
Category: Contemporary
Pages: 200

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excerpt

After the talent show, I hung back a bit with Amy. And hell, keeping her company was what I was supposed to be doing in the first place. We had coffee.

“I miss him, Neil,” she said, looking around the room. “He’d have had so much fun tonight.”

There was no reason for me to ask who “he” was. Owen. Her husband. Her dead husband.

She went silent.

Then she talked about the first time they came to Black Bear Guest Ranch. Owen was a huge Western fan—had read the books by Louis L’Amour, Zane Grey, and Max Brand since he was a kid. He loved the movies, too, and had infected both their children.

She looked at me, her eyes coming back to the present. Sighed. She smiled, but I could tell it was forced. “This just might be the very last year,” she said. She shrugged. “I don’t know if I’ll want to come back after I say….” Her voice faded again. “Good-bye.”

It didn’t take long after that for her to decide she was ready to turn in.

“Want me to walk you?” I asked as we stepped out onto the porch.Cole Thompson [DYTM]

She shook her head. “No. I think I want a few minutes to be alone before facing the kids.” She kissed my cheek, thanked me for coming, and headed into the night.

Unexpectedly, I found Cole and Leo and it looked like they were passing a flask. I cleared my throat, and they spun, obviously surprised at being caught.

“Good night, Leo,” Cole said.

Leo looked at Cole, me, then back at Cole.

Oh, for goodness sake, I thought, recognizing Leo’s expression almost instantly. Women had been giving Cole that very same look all evening.

Shit. Leo, too? Did everyone love Cole?

“Go on,” Cole said.

The shorter boy looked stricken and turned to me, nodded, then ran then off into the night.

“Did I interrupt something?” I asked.

Cole shrugged. “He’s got a crush on me.”

I felt my stomach clench. “Maybe I should’ve been the one to get lost,” I said, trying to be causal. Had I stopped some homosexual liaison?

Cole shook his head. “He’s not my type…. Too young.”

“How old is he?” Eighteen, maybe? Was Cole giving liquor to a minor?

“He’s twenty-one,” Cole answered.

“He is?” I was surprised. “He sure doesn’t look it.”

“Nope, and that’s the problem. He’s a nice guy. He’ll make some guy a great lover one day. But I can’t be attracted to someone who I’m not attracted to, you know?”

“I imagine you’d like someone a little closer to your age?”

“I like older men,” Cole said and looked away.

Older men? How old? Older as in…. My stomach fluttered, and I refused to let my thoughts go where his words threatened to take me. I needed to change the subject. Fast.

“You were good in there,” I told him referring to his singing and guitar playing in the talent show. After all, it was true.

He looked at me, those dark eyes all but lost in the shadows of the porch. “Thanks.”

“You’re welcome.”

We stood there for a minute, neither of us saying anything.Neil Baxter 2 [DYTM]

I need to get to my cabin. I need to get out of here.

Now.

Cabin. Sleep. But, hell, I was going to be up for hours. I could feel the caffeine zinging through me like electricity.

Cole looked away again, started to take a drink from his flask, then stopped. “Want some?”

“What is it?” I asked.

“Does it matter?” he replied and laughed.

I shrugged. “I guess not.” Hell, I thought, it might help me sleep. I reached for the flask, and when he handed it to me, our fingers touched for a second.

I almost jumped.

It was like one of those static zings that happens when you rub your stockinged feet on a carpet and then touch something metal. But that wasn’t what happened. There hadn’t been a static discharge. It had all been in my imagination. In my head.

But then when he looked at me the way he did, shadows or not, I wondered if that was true.

I paused for a moment before drinking. I looked at Cole. Beautiful Cole.

Beautiful?

I trembled. Geez. Yes. He was beautiful.

I looked into Cole’s eyes and suddenly realized I had been pretty hateful. I was being just as bad as they were. Gay or not, Cole had shown me nothing but kindness.

“Do you trust me?” he’d asked when I rode Mystic, my horse for the week. When he’d told me that Mystic trusted me.

Agree with what he’d decided to do with his life or not, he’d done nothing but been trustworthy.

I took a swig from the flask, knowing those lips had touched it before mine, and felt the burn. “Whiskey.” I handed it back.

Good Kentucky whiskey,” he said, then took a drink. He held it out.

I took the flask and, once again, our fingers touched. He didn’t let go for a second, letting the contact linger. I didn’t pull away, and my heart began to race.

He was flirting again.

Dammit!Leo Carmichael [DYTM]

Why me?

He let go, and I took a long swallow this time. Too long. Shit. “I think I finished it,” I said. “I’m sorry.”

“I got plenty back at my cabin,” he said. “Don’t worry about it.”

Was that an invitation?

Damn, he was so good-looking! Hell! How could a man be so damned good-looking? He was a man! Why was I seeing it? Weren’t there plenty of nice-looking women around here? Why couldn’t I think of one single attractive woman? Out of thirty-some people, there had to be one. Besides Amy, that was. Amy was family. Amy was my “sister.”

Again, we just stood there, and I felt the heat in my face as I went all flush.

Go to bed! my mind screamed at me. Get out of here!

But why couldn’t I move?

“My flask?” he asked.

“Sorry,” I said, feeling like an idiot. I handed it to him. “I need to be getting to bed. I’m worn out….”

I paused.

Remembered.

I looked at Cole again, but this time I could think of something besides how attractive he was. I remembered the amazing afternoon astride that incredible horse. How free I’d felt. How spellbinding. “Thank you for that.”

“For what?” Cole said.

“Mystic. It was magical.”Vincent Clark [DYTM] Darla Clark [DYTM]

He smiled, and my stomach leapt again.

Run!

“No problem,” he said. “There’ll be plenty more tomorrow. You rest up. I’ll see you in the morning.”

“Morning” was all I could say back.

I watched him go.

And finally I climbed into my little cart and drove back to my cabin.

michelle review

The path to happiness starts with acceptance, and sometimes the chance for a bright, loving future means letting go of the past.

Neil is widowed and is so far in the closet there is no light seeping in from under the door. He lost his wife suddenly 2 yrs prior, leaving him with his teenage daughter. He is invited to a dude ranch with his sister-in-law and her family for a weeks’ vacation.

There he meets one of the wranglers, Cole, who at first sight makes Neil question everything he was told not to want. Neil finds an easy friendship with Cole but as they get closer he pulls away and becomes angry at himself for letting himself think of Cole as more than just a friend. Cole is out & proud but is still dealing with a horrible breakup.

We get to watch as Neil questions what he needs in his life to be happy and if he can truly be himself and happy with Cole. There is a nice age gap between the MCs and I never once felt Cole to be immature at his young age.

The writing was great, the character development was superb, and the story flowed with ease. I was completely in love with this story up until about 70%.   There was circumstances that I felt needed to be dealt better with the situation Neil and Cole were in. Unfortunately, that little hiccup (which might not bother others) completely took me out of the rest of the story. I read it until the end but the deep seeded investment I had in the book went out the window and I couldn’t seem to get my reading mojo back on.

I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a complex story about a man trying to find himself. What didn’t work for me might not be a problem for others. I look forward to reading more by this author.

3.5 pieces of eye candy

3.5-pieces-of-eye-candy1

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meet the author

cowboy Noah's editB.G. Thomas lives in Kansas City with his husband of more than a decade and their fabulous dogs Sarah Jane and Oliver. He is blessed to have a lovely daughter as well as many extraordinary friends. He has a great passion for life.

B.G. loves romance, comedies, fantasy, science fiction, and even horror—as far as he is concerned, as long as the stories are character driven and entertaining, it doesn’t matter the genre. He has gone to literature conventions his entire adult life where he’s been lucky enough to meet many of his favorite writers. He has made up stories since he was a child; it is where he finds his joy.

In the nineties, he wrote for gay adult magazines but stopped because the editors wanted all sex without plot. “The sex is never as important as the characters,” he says. “Who cares what they are doing if we don’t care about them?” Excited about the growing male/male romance market, he began writing again. He submitted a novella and was thrilled when it was accepted in four days. Since then the romantic tales have poured out of him. “It’s like I’m somehow making up for a lifetime’s worth of story-telling!”

“Leap, and the net will appear” is his personal philosophy and his message. “It is never too late,” he testifies. “Pursue your dreams. They will come true!”

Website/blog: bthomaswriter.wordpress.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bgthomaswriter

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