Is this the makeover of a lifetime?
Ambitious fashionista Perry Goodwood lands the project of his dreams—track down a celebrity family’s missing brother in the Scottish Highlands and bring him back to London for a TV reality show. But first he must transform the rugged loner into a glamorous sophisticate.
Greg Ventura has no use for high fashion. He lives on the isolated island of North Uist to escape the reminder that he’s nowhere near as handsome as his gorgeous brothers and avoid the painful childhood memories of being bullied.
Greg wants nothing to do with city life, and Perry’s never been outside London. When Perry is stranded on North Uist, this conflict seems insurmountable. But Greg is captivated by the vivacious Perry, and Perry by both the island and his host. However, Perry’s one heartfelt wish remains: that ugly duckling Greg fulfill his potential as a swan.
This is my second Dreamspun Desires title, and continues the “Romancing the…” theme. You can see the fab little logo that Bree Archer designed for me!
This is a contemporary romance, with lots of humour, romance and sexiness, set in both London – my home city – and the remote Scottish island of North Uist. The contrast is extreme! And that’s reflected in the shock poor Perry Goodwood feels when he’s sent from his smart media city setting to the bleak wilds of the Highlands. To say nothing of meeting the grumpy, reclusive – but handsome – crofter Greg Ventura. Much fun, culture shock, misunderstanding, and soul-searching ensues, on the peat-boggy road to a HEA.
Today Romancing the Ugly Duckling goes on pre-order, in both paperback and ebook. It’s very exciting for me, and hopefully will brighten up a reader’s day too. I hope you enjoy this post, the cover reveal, and my celebratory Giveaway today.
After the meal, they settled in the living room again. Greg poured himself a glass of what he introduced as his homemade wine, but Perry politely declined a glass for himself. He couldn’t recall any decent wine he’d ever drunk being that particular shade of purple. He was definitely making a mental shopping list for when he could find somewhere civilized, and gin and tonic would come several steps above couscous on that.
Greg picked up a book and started reading. Perry waited a while—after deciding against asking what they could watch on the miniscule TV in the corner of the living room, with obvious dust settling on the controls—then coughed to get Greg’s attention. “Where do you need me tomorrow?”
Greg peered at him over the book. “What are you talking about?”
“Working together, remember? Um. What exactly do you do, apart from painting?”
Greg’s look was possibly sly, but that could have been due to the waning light outside the cottage.
“Sometimes I work in the Sea Bird restaurant.”
Perry thought he remembered seeing a sign to that place on his journey here in Dougie’s car. The building itself had been very small, more like a tea room, with a single light on in the front porch, and it didn’t look very open for business. But he’d go with the flow. “Are you a chef?”
Greg laughed. He seemed more relaxed tonight. “No, I think you’ve realized my cooking skills aren’t the best. And it’s not really big enough for a chef and full kitchen staff. I mean, it wouldn’t meet your London standards.”
“That has nothing to do with anything.”
“My London… standards, experience, whatever you want to call it. I’m in Uist now, and I want to know what you do here.”
Greg was looking at him oddly. Was he, Perry, coming across as too bossy? God, this man was impossible to gauge properly.
“It’s more of a large dining room where friends can hang out.” Greg still sounded reasonably relaxed. “It’s owned by a couple of elderly sisters who are marvelous cooks, and we sometimes hire it out for a celebration. We’re not big on dinner parties here, you can imagine. I help out with serving when it’s busy. But mainly I provide the fish dishes, especially scallops.”
“You’re a fisherman?”
Greg nodded slowly, his gaze still on Perry. “Yes, you could say that. I’m a diver. I dive for scallops.”
“Can’t you just… I don’t know.” Buy them in a shop? “Don’t they have official suppliers?”
Greg frowned. “Hand-collected scallops are better. The sweeter ones are chosen, and the dish is more precious. Haven’t you ever tasted the difference?”
It pained Perry to admit weakness, but he did. “I’ve never had scallops in my life.”
Greg’s eyes narrowed. “I thought you lived in the center of the sophisticated city?”
“We can’t all afford posh restaurants,” Perry snapped back, then blushed at—yet again—having to admit shortcoming.
“Oh.” Greg blinked. “Well, you’ll see them in the raw when you come out in the boat tomorrow with me.”
“When I…? Tomorrow…? Boat?”
Greg smiled slowly. “Yes. The weather should be fine, so I’m driving west past Lochmaddy to one of my favorite coastal seawater lochs. I’ll pack some provisions so we can eat lunch there. You can help carry the equipment, then collect the scallops into boxes and keep watch for me.”
“We… I….” Perry was struggling for words. Worse, Greg seemed to realize it and find it highly amusing. “I’ve never been in one.”
“Boat. I’ve never been in a boat. Well, until the ferry two days ago.”
Greg nodded, also slowly. “That’s fine. You can stay here if you want.”
“No!” Perry’s cry was instinctive. Did this brute of a bloke think he, Perry, was a lightweight? “I will not! We made a deal.”
“Okay. Well, I hope Bridie brought a selection of decent waterproofs as well as your day clothes, because you’ll need them.”
“You said the weather should be fine….”
“Just in case,” Greg said ominously. He concentrated back on his book.
Perry sat silently for a long moment. In fact, everything was silent, inside the cottage and out, apart from the occasional call from a bird, and Greg turning a page. Perry wasn’t used to such quiet. Nor was he used to living in close quarters with a man who barely tolerated him, and actually wanted him to get lost. There was a small pile of paperbacks on the table beside Greg’s armchair, and Perry picked one up. He also wasn’t used to reading anthologies of horror stories, his preference being for romantic comedies and the occasional biography—but he supposed there was always a first time. Opening it to the first chapter, he bit back a sigh. At least he’d won this stage of the battle with Greg Ventura, and he had more time to convince him about the TV project.
But thinking about the trip out onto a likely freezing Scottish loch tomorrow, he wasn’t sure whether the price would be too much to pay.
Clare London took her pen name from the city where she lives, loves, and writes. A lone, brave female in a frenetic, testosterone-fuelled family home, she juggles her writing with her other day job as an accountant.
She’s written in many genres and across many settings, with award-winning novels and short stories published both online and in print. She says she likes variety in her writing while friends say she’s just fickle, but as long as both theories spawn good fiction, she’s happy. Most of her work features male/male romance and drama with a healthy serving of physical passion, as she enjoys both reading and writing about strong, sympathetic, and sexy characters.
Clare currently has several novels sulking at that tricky chapter three stage and plenty of other projects in mind… she just has to find out where she left them in that frenetic, testosterone-fuelled family home.
Clare loves to hear from readers, and you can contact her here:
Google+ : https://plus.google.com/u/0/+ClareLondon/posts
Romancing the Ugly Duckling is based on the culture shock of town meeting country. What’s your favourite – the busy, lively bustle of city life or the quiet, picturesque calm of the countryside? Would you move to one or the other, given the chance?
I’m offering a $10 Amazon giftcard for one lucky commenter who shares with us the kind of setting they like best, and the reason why!
Nixon Cross isn’t wired to share his life with anyone. He’d considered a relationship once, but after the one man patient enough to put up with all his quirks shut him down, he committed all of his energy to football and helping his players. Now, one of his players need more help than Nixon can provide and his former flame is the one man who will know what to do.
Retired NAFL player Lincoln Sims had no choice but to stay in the closet; he was a professional athlete at a time when it was impossible to be honest about his sexuality. After retiring, he confessed his secret to his wife and son because he was tired of living a lie. Now, he’s ready to live his life. Nixon Cross is the man he left behind but could never forget.
Can these men find a way to recover from their false start years earlier?
“Nixon, you can tell me it’s none of my business if you want—”
“It’s none of your business,” I deadpanned. If he was starting off like that, I was sure he was getting ready to dive into a topic he had no place talking about.
“Not going to stop me,” he shot back, taking a sip of his own drink. “What really happened between you and Lincoln Sims?”
Aww, hell. I could lie or I could tell the truth; both options were equally unappealing. I wasn’t a liar, unless you counted carefully avoiding topics I’d rather stay buried as lying. But if I told the truth, there was a chance I’d be outing Lincoln, and that broke the second rule I lived by: never make a promise you can’t keep and never break a promise made. I chose to do what I did best; go for the vague response. “You know how it is. Life gets complicated and sometimes you drift apart.”
“Look, I’m not trying to upset you, but I need to know if him being here is going to do just that. I’m already dealing with the show, rookies who don’t think they should have to play by the rules now that they’re out of college, vets who’re certain we’d never cut them because they’re invaluable to the team, the league’s coming down on me about the situation with Zach, Zach trying to pretend he’s not waiting for the world to crash down around him, and the list goes on,” Teddy rambled, leaning in close enough to speak without fear of being overheard. “While it’s not healthy for you to do the very thing we’re trying to break Zach of, I’m willing to act as a buffer if there’s a reason you don’t want to see or talk to Lincoln while he’s in town. I need you focused on getting those boys ready, and right now, I’m pretty sure the only reason they’re busting ass in the gym is fear.”
“Nothing wrong with that,” I quipped. I often wondered if Teddy got sick of having to act as a buffer between me and the rest of the world. He’d been doing it for years now, and it definitely wasn’t something he’d counted on when I was hired.
“There is when they’re all pushing so hard,” Teddy countered. “It’s not just Zach I’m worried about. A few of the veterans have come to me, asking what’s been going on with you for the past week. And the only thing I can think of that’s changed is I asked you to talk to Lincoln. So, I’m going to ask you one more time; are you capable of being around him without it fucking you up more than it already has? You don’t have to tell me why talking to him affected you the way it did, just assure me you’ll work on pulling your head out of your ass.”
“You have my word,” I promised. And speak of the devil, Lincoln chose that exact moment to walk onto the patio. Our eyes met and what felt like a jolt of electricity zinged through my body. I could feel Teddy watching for any sign of discomfort, ready to kick me out if he thought it was best for my emotional stability or current lack thereof. Shrugging him off as I stood, I took the first step towards reconciling my past. At least for the next few days, Linc was going to be in town and I’d do everything in my power to keep my promise to Teddy.
And now, the hotness of this cover…
Happy Cover Reveal Day!
We are so excited to share this amazingly HOT cover with you!
Unsteady by Melissa Collins
Release date: 4/28/2017
A stand alone, M/M romance
Cover design: Sommer Stein at Perfect Pair Creative Covers
Photography: Wander Aguiar at WANDER AGUIAR :: PHOTOGRAPHY
Models: Jacob Cooley and Ryan Dick
Micah Hudson and Jude MacMillian were both lonely teenagers. One the new kid
and one the target of relentless bullying, they quickly became friends. But
when friendship grew into more, the relationship was too much for either to
handle. As their tenuous bond was tested, everything tumbled down, leaving
them lonely once again.
A decade later, Micah is on the brink of losing his will to live. Beyond
exhausted from lying to everyone, including himself, Micah thinks of the one
person who knows his deepest secret. Desperate and alone, Micah makes the
only decision he feels he has: he must leave. But his need for closure
depends on one thing.
Can Jude make room in his Unsteady life for Micah once again?
Pre-order Unsteady today for a special price of $2.99!
Grab it here –> Amazon
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Melissa Collins Author Page
Melissa Collins has always been a book worm. Studying Literature in college ensured that her nose was always stuck in a book. She followed her passion for reading to the most logical career choice: English teacher. Her hope was to share her passion for reading and the escapism of books to her students. Having spent more than a decade in front of a classroom, she can easily say that it’s been a dream.
Her passion for writing didn’t start until more recently. When she was home on maternity leave in early 2012, she read her first romance novel and her head filled with the passion, angst and laughter of the characters who she read about it. It wasn’t long before characters of her own took shape in her mind. Their lives took over Melissa’s brain and The Love Series was born.
Four years ago I met a man
who forever changed my life.
He dared me to try.
I dared him to love.
And while that’s where our story began, it’s certainly not where it ended.
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Ella Frank is the USA Today Bestselling author of the Temptation series, including Try, Take, and Trust. Her Exquisite series has been praised as “scorching hot!” and “enticingly sexy!”
A life-long fan of the romance genre, Ella writes contemporary and erotic fiction and lives with her husband in Portland, OR. You can reach her on the web at www.ellafrank.com and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ella.frank.author
Some of her favorite authors include Tiffany Reisz, Kresley Cole, Riley Hart, J.R. Ward, Erika Wilde, Gena Showalter, and Carly Philips.
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FROM RICK R. REED, THE AUTHOR OF THE PERILS OF INTIMACY
Covers are something I have a thing for. It’s the face of my book. It’s very important, so there’s a lot invested. There’s the old saw about not judging a book by its cover, but it’s not true—not with people and certainly not with books. People, myself included, judge books by their covers all the time. And why shouldn’t they? It’s the “face” of the book, it’s that all-important first impression. I know I’ve bought books based on the cover art alone.
And, being perfectly honest, I’d buy The Perils of Intimacy based on the amazingly talented artist Reese Dante’s cover. I’m very blessed, fortunate, lucky, whatever you want to call it to be able to work with Reese almost exclusively on my Dreamspinner Press books. I thing Reese outdid herself with The Perils of Intimacy. Working with her on this one was a mind-meld between author and cover artist. She got the mood I was going for, she got the mystery, she got my main character, Jimmy, and, most of all, she created a cover that truly stands out in the genre. I think it’s beautiful, provocative, and definitely outside the box.
I hope it catches your eye. I hope it makes you want to read the blurb and—once you’ve read that—will decide you simply must read The Perils of Intimacy.
Jimmy and Mark make an adorable couple. Jimmy’s kindness (and clean-cut cuteness) radiates out of him like light. Mark, although a bit older, complements Jimmy with his humor and his openness to love.
But between them, a dark secret lurks, one that has the power to destroy.
See, when Mark believes he’s meeting Jimmy for the first time in the diner where he works, he’s wrong.
Mark has no recollection of their original encounter because the wholesome Jimmy of today couldn’t be more different than he was two years ago. Back then, Jimmy sported multiple piercings, had long bleached dreadlocks, facial hair, and was painfully skinny. And he was a meth addict. The drug transformed him into a different person—a lying, conniving thief who robbed Mark blind during their one-night stand.
Mark doesn’t associate the memory of a hookup gone horribly wrong with this fresh-faced, smiling twenty-something… but Jimmy knows. As they begin a dance of love and attraction, will Jimmy be brave enough to reveal the truth? And if he does, will Mark be able to forgive him? Can he see Jimmy for the man he is now and not the addict he was? The answers will depend on whether true love holds enough light to shine through the darkness of past mistakes.
Length: Approximately 63,000 words
Here comes the cover….
I watch from the corner of my eye as Cinnamon Roll, as I’ve dubbed him, downs his low-carb breakfast. How someone can eat poached eggs without any toast is beyond me, but it takes all kinds.
“You got a thing for him or what?” Matilda Blake, the other server on duty, whispers to me. She pauses just behind me with three plates balanced on two arms. I smell pancakes, bacon, and the sage aroma of sausage.
I turn a little to grin. “What?”
“Ah, don’t play innocent with me, Mister. I could see the lust in your eyes from fifty paces.”
I shrug. “Guilty. Maybe. A little.”
She laughs, and it’s a sound like a bell tinkling. Matilda doesn’t even reach five feet and probably doesn’t top ninety pounds, but she’s a workhorse like you wouldn’t believe. She has short, spiked blonde hair and numerous tattoos. On the weekends, she plays in an all-girl metal band called Two Spirit. And in my head, I call her Tinker Bell, because that’s who she looks like to me. She takes off to serve her customers, but not without prompting me to “Go over and talk to him.”
I busy myself filling ketchup bottles and the salt and pepper shakers I’ve removed from empty tables, but I keep an eye on Cinnamon Roll. His food is gone and the newspaper’s been abandoned and he’s staring off into space. I shudder because I wonder if he’s recognized me and is thinking about our last encounter, a little over two years ago, at his place on Dexter Avenue.
But no, that couldn’t be possible, could it? I’m a different person now, inside and out. Back then I was twenty, twenty-five pounds lighter than my current one hundred and sixty-five. I had a septum piercing like Ferdinand the Bull. My hair, which is now cut high and tight and is reddish brown, was long back then, bleached blond, dirty, and tangled up in dreadlocks that reached down almost to my waist. My skin had, I’m sure, a pasty and unhealthy pallor.
That person doesn’t even exist anymore, and even though it’s only been two years, I look completely different today. He’s probably just thinking about his day or something.
I walk over to his table, a little nervous that he’d come to and look at me with an accusing glare. There’d be a scene. And maybe I’d end up getting fired or something. Thinking back to what I did to him, I deserve it.
But when I approach his table, all he does is smile. And that smile melts my heart. It did back then too. Just not enough to keep me from my desperate and dark ways.
“You need anything else?”
He looks down at his paper and back up at me. A blush rises to his cheeks, and I gotta say it—there’s nothing more adorable than this face staring up at me right now.
Rick R. Reed is all about exploring the romantic entanglements of gay men in contemporary, realistic settings. While his stories often contain elements of suspense, mystery and the paranormal, his focus ultimately returns to the power of love.
He is the author of dozens of published novels, novellas, and short stories. He is a three-time EPIC eBook Award winner (for Caregiver, Orientation and The Blue Moon Cafe). He is also a Rainbow Award Winner for both Caregiver and Raining Men. Lambda Literary Review has called him, “a writer that doesn’t disappoint.”
Rick lives in Seattle with his husband and a very spoiled Boston terrier. He is forever “at work on another novel.”
Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/rickrreedbooks