In case you missed it… Out of the Blue and Black & Blühe are both free on Amazon this weekend only. That means you’ve got less than 24 hours to grab these great firefighter reads, FOR FREE!
Click the links below to grab yours now!
In case you missed it… Out of the Blue and Black & Blühe are both free on Amazon this weekend only. That means you’ve got less than 24 hours to grab these great firefighter reads, FOR FREE!
I recently had my rights returned from the publisher so I tidied the stories up and had them re-edited. The writing is tighter but no new scenes have been added, so if you’ve already read them, there’s no need to read them again – unless of course you want to 🙂 They’re now for sale at a much cheaper price than before – only .99c! so make sure you get your hands on them!
Jason escapes into the magic of a Broadway play every weekend. Musicals always have a happy ending and for a few hours he can believe there’s a happy ending waiting for him, too. When the tall drink of water who works on the top floor of Jason’s building, wants to take him on a date, Jason is surprised. After all, Jason is awkward and skinny, and sees himself as a boring accountant, while Paul is tall, dark, and incredibly hot.
Despite Jason’s reservations, Paul and Jason start dating and attending the shows Jason adores. But if Paul likes musicals as much as Jason, why does he always doze off? Is Paul leading a double life? Does he have a wife tucked away somewhere?
Jason knows Paul is hiding something and when the secrets come out, Jason finds his fantasy comes to life, right there on the stage.
One year on from Paul’s proposal, Jason is living a life he never dreamed of. As he fusses with his tie and readies to walk down the aisle, he reminisces about the previous twelve months. It hasn’t all been smooth sailing for the happy couple in the lead up to their wedding, with obstacles big and small thrown in their way.
Marrying one of New York’s most eligible bachelors has Jason’s stomach in knots. Expectations of their society wedding are high, but out of love for Paul, Jason goes along with the grand plans because he understands Paul’s family has a reputation to maintain. But Paul has a surprise up his sleeve that just may see Jason getting the wedding of his dreams.
Follow Jason on his journey as he prepares to marry one of the most eligible bachelors in New York and find out just how Dave got his name.
The One That I Want
I think most of you know by now that Nic is my bestie, so of course I’m going to have her on my blog. Especially when she has a fantastic new release!
Part of Dreamspinner Press’ World of Love series.
Dr Nathan Powell is ready to settle down near his family, and hopefully find the man of his dreams. He returns to the small coastal town where he grew up, but while life is simpler than it was in the city, there are also complications—like patients’ reactions to an openly gay doctor. And like running into Nate’s first love, Damien, an out-and-proud local business owner who is unwilling to be any man’s dirty secret. The reunion reignites old desire even while it stirs up Nate’s guilt over the way things ended with Damien.
When Nate’s nephew runs away, Damien accompanies Nate on his mission to find the young man. The drive to Sydney, and the search of the city, gives Nate time to reconnect with Damien—and to wonder if he made the right decision years ago—when he determined a future for them was impossible. Is a fresh start realistic for two men in their forties? But before he can ponder the second chance they’ve been given, Nate must locate his nephew.
World of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the globe.
A big thank you to RJ for hosting me today as I celebrate the release of Runaway, part of the Dreamspinner Press World of Love collection. The World of Love stories are “contemporary romances spotlighting the unique features, qualities and attributes of a specific country as well as the universality of love wherever it’s found.”
Nate and Damien had only just started to reconnect after many years of being apart when Nate’s nephew, Jackson, runs away to Sydney. The men travel to the city so they can be closer when Jackson finally gets in contact. Here’s an excerpt from a scene in their hotel room where Nate struggles to sleep.
The digital clock emitted a dull light that flashed every time Nate lifted his eyelids. And that’s just what Nate did. Every minute or so he found his eyes opening and taking in the dimness of the hotel room and the annoying light of the clock. It only added to his frustration as he watched the numbers slowly tick over.
He rolled to the other side and pulled the sheet over his shoulder, to ward off the chill of the air conditioning. His thoughts swirled as he contemplated Damien’s words from earlier in the evening. No matter how he looked at it, Nate couldn’t deny there was truth in what Damien had said. Nate did hide himself from everyone except Trish and Damien, and the few friends he had here in the city. Why hadn’t he told Jackson and Belinda? Was he concerned they wouldn’t understand? Was he worried they’d talk and the word would spread like wildfire? He guessed it was most likely he was used to not saying anything, and on top of that, it pissed him off that he, or any other person, should have to make an announcement about his sexuality.
With a rustle of the bedclothes, he turned to the other side, opening his eyes to see another few minutes had passed. He looked farther past the bedside table to the raised mound in the other bed, envious that Damien was obviously asleep.
Just thinking about him brought a smile to Nate’s face. He probably looked stupid grinning in the dark, but he couldn’t help the warmth that filled him from being so close again. And it wasn’t just because Damien was gorgeous, although there was no doubt his dark good looks pushed all Nate’s buttons; it was the way he cared so much. Damien’s concern wasn’t just limited to Nate either. He was worried about Jackson and sympathetic to what Trish was going through, having spoken to her earlier in the day when Nate had been in the shower and unable to answer his phone.
“C’mon here, Nate.” The words were whispered in the quiet of the hotel room.
“I can hear you thinking from over here. Get your arse over here.”
“I promise to be on my best behaviour. I’ll just hold you, I promise. No mucking around.”
Nate didn’t need to be told twice. He scrambled from his bed and crawled under the sheet Damien held up for him. They lay there for a moment, both of them on their backs, staring at the dim ceiling. The only thing visible was the tiny green blinking light on the fire alarm.
Damien reached his hand out and grasped Nate’s. “I know I said this before, but it’ll be all right. You’ll see.”
Nate squeezed Damien’s hand. “Why am I so lucky to have you as a friend? After everything we went through—dating in secret, then hooking up a few times a year—I can’t believe you want to have anything to do with me. Then when I told you I didn’t want to see you anymore….”
Damien propped himself on one elbow, and Nate turned his head to look at him in the darkness. “You’re going to have to find a way to get past this, Nate. I can’t say I was always happy, but we were kids. Relationships start and fizzle all the time, especially long-distance ones. We were lucky we lasted those years before you headed to the city, let alone any of the time after that.”
“Lucky you didn’t kick my arse to the kerb, more like it.”
Damien chuckled. “Obviously I liked your arse enough to want to have it around, even if you only wanted to be friends with benefits or whatever.”
“You liked my arse, huh?”
“I still like your arse.” Damien leaned in and placed a gentle kiss on Nate’s lips.
The touch was fleeting, but enough to leave Nate craving more. Without a second thought, he chased Damien’s retreating mouth, capturing it with a kiss of his own. He licked across Damien’s bottom lip, and their tongues met as Damien opened his mouth to Nate. Nate deepened the kiss and put all his emotions into it. The kiss felt new and exciting but familiar at the same time, and a warmth settled in Nate’s gut. Damien pulled him in tight, drawing their bodies together. When Nate’s hard dick pushed into Damien’s thigh and pleasure simmered in his belly, he couldn’t hold back the groan. Yes, this is what I’ve been missing.
Becoming aware of what he was doing, Nate flopped back onto the pillow, his hand going to his mouth and tracing his bottom lip where Damien’s touch had been only moments before.
“D? What are we doing?”
“If I have to tell you, I’m doing something wrong.” The chuckle was soft in the darkness.
“You know what I mean. This. You and me.”
I hope you liked seeing a little piece of Runaway.
Nic Starr lives in Australia where she tries to squeeze as much into her busy life as possible. Balancing the demands of a corporate career with raising a family and writing can be challenging but she wouldn’t give it up for the world.
Always a reader, the lure of m/m romance was strong and she devoured hundreds of wonderful m/m romance books before realising she had some stories of her own that needed to be told.
Nic loves to spend time with her family—an understanding husband, two beautiful daughters, and a cherished Cairn terrier. Nic is a foodie and wine lover who lives in the city but is a country girl at heart. When not writing or reading, she is often found indulging in her love of cooking and planning her dream home in the country.
You can find Nic on Facebook, Twitter and her blog. She’d love it if you stopped by to say hi.
Sexy to Go Gay Romance Is here!
Release Date: April 1, 2017
Genres: M/M contemporary romance, M/M paranormal romance, M/M erotic romance, M/M historical romance
Authors: Avery Duran, Leigh Ellwood, Asta Idonea, Eva Lefoy, Dale Cameron Lowry, Jodi Payne, Shiloh Saddler, Sam Thorne, A.E. Wasp
Length: 286 pages/71,328 words
Publisher: Sexy to Go
Cover Artist: Ella Dominguez
Sexy to Go Gay Romance features nine scorching hot MM romances to make your blood sing. Whether finding love at a Jewish singles dance or while crossing the River Styx, these men remind us that love is always worth fighting for, no matter what the cost. Meet a handyman who’s an ace with his tools, a king who kindles the passion of a Greek god, and an architect who erects more than buildings. From the everyday to the fantastical, these stories explore male-male love in all its simmering intensity.
Matzo Ball by Avery Duran
When Jacob’s outgoing best friend talks him into attending a party for Jewish singles, neither man realizes that it’s not a gay event. Things go from bad to worse when Jacob’s friend doesn’t show up. The night turns around when Jacob befriends Ian, a sexy bartender. After a spectacular kiss good night, they go their separate ways. But Jacob can’t forget the chemistry he shared with Ian, and hungers for more. In a city the size of New York, will these men be able to find their way back to each other?
Styx & Stone by Leigh Ellwood
What’s the afterlife really like? Charon the ferryman knows the River Styx like the back of his hand, and he enjoys giving newly departed Stone the full tour.
First Swallow of Spring by Asta Idonea
The first swallow of spring draws Seanán back to the fae circle each year, where he dances with the handsome fae lord, Iorweth. He knows the four rules he must follow if he wishes to be free to leave at the end of the night; however, Iorweth is growing ever more inventive in his attempts to trick Seanán into breaking them.
How Hercules Got His Bruise by Eva Lefoy
Hercules might have completed his 12 labors and become immortal, but he’s still not out to himself. Until he meets Sisyphus, a man who turns him on in ways not even a goddess can compete with. When Zeus threatens to destroy their new bond, Hercules must again rise to the challenge, this time to protect his right to love a man.
Loggerhead by Dale Lowry
Soon after they fall in love, Jake makes Eric a promise inspired by an old track uniform. But demanding work schedules at Jake’s four-star restaurant and Eric’s newspaper keep them from following through. Six years later, they take the honeymoon they never had, heading to the Florida coast in search of sea turtles – and rekindling their passion for each other in the process.
Handyman by Jodi Payne
Danny is haunted by memories of his ex, Peter, who moved out six months ago. He recognizes just how bad off he is when he wakes up to a flood in his condo, a problem Peter would have adeptly handled. Danny can’t find the insurance paperwork, he doesn’t know who he should call first, and he’s about ready to strangle his stoner neighbors. His day starts looking up, though, when the workmen arrive to deal with the water, replace his breaker box and demolish the soaked ceiling. Ken, a handyman, shows up to handle the drywall, but can Danny handle Ken?
Clipped Wings by Shiloh Saddler
When a male swan shifter is captured by a cruel master he develops feelings for another male slave. The master has plans for the shifter that go against every fiber of his being. Will the two men bow down to their station in life or take flight to keep their love alive?
Rebuilding the Future by Sam Thorne
Allen’s peace has been seriously disturbed. As the shy architect takes on the task of extending the home he inherited from his late aunt, his life becomes a battle. The building work is going fine, but he can barely contain his one-way lust for sexy foreman Declan, who’s a one-man generator of testosterone and mixed messages. As the build completion approaches, Allen’s ready to do just about anything to keep Declan around a little longer…
Man in the Mirror by A.E. Wasp
A companion story to the Paper Hearts novel, Man in the Mirror is the first short in a new erotic series set in the world of the Veterans Affairs books.
Benny hasn’t let Mikey see him naked in a week, will barely let Mikey touch him. Mikey’s going to get to the bottom of the issue if it takes all night.
From Loggerhead by Dale Cameron Lowry
I got up and pulled on the sweats Jake had gotten out for me the night before. The sweatshirt was dusky blue, faded from years of washings. He’d told me it was from his days running high school track in Florida. On the front was a line-drawing of a massive turtle and the words “Langford Loggerheads” printed in green beneath it.
Jake stirred, grumbling something under his breath as he turned onto his back and opened his eyes. When he saw me, he smiled. “You’re here,” he said with a degree of awe usually reserved for fireworks and the Grand Canyon.
“Of course I am.”
“I like seeing you in my clothes,” he said.
“I like being in them.” I couldn’t hold eye contact with him anymore. I wasn’t used to being looked at like one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. I pointed to the turtle on the front of his shirt. “Ever seen one in the wild?”
“I was a turtle guide for a few years before moving up here. You?”
I shook my head. “I’ve never been far south enough. I’ve always been curious, though. Ever since I read about them in Ranger Rick.”
“You read Ranger Rick when you were a kid, too? I knew you were perfect.”
I blushed. “Shut up.”
“I’m serious.” He sat up in bed and reached for my hips, pulling me back into the sheets with him. “We should go on a turtle walk sometime. I’ll take you back home for nesting season.”
“Take me home with you?” I teased. “Aren’t you moving a little fast?”
“No,” he said with the solid confidence only a 35-year-old in love can have. “Not at all.”
Universal buy link (includes Amazon, Kobo, iTunes, B&N, and Google in every country):
Individual buy links:
Are you ready for some sexy short stories? Make sure you check out Alina’s Touches.
(Make sure you keep scrolling for the giveaway too!)
Touches is a collection of four contemporary gay romance short stories following the same cast of characters. They can be read in any order, but to better immerse yourself in the characters’ lives, reading them in order is advised.
Sometimes a single touch is enough to change everything. Physical or emotional, a touch can tilt the world on its axis and shift your entire life. It can lead to hell, or it can lead to paradise, but things will never be the same…
A TOUCH OF GLAMOUR
Tudor has big plans for New York City.
Ditch his homophobic colleague. See a musical. Definitely check out the go-go boys.
Meeting one Phantom on Grindr wasn’t in the script.
Tudor gets caught up in a whirlwind when his favorite musical character steps off the stage and into his life.
A TOUCH OF PARADISE
Hauled to work in Hawaii, Tudor has little time to enjoy the island paradise.
His obnoxious friend Radu has it much easier, using his free time to set Tudor up, dangling a willing Hawaiian beauty in front of him.
Having been burned by long-distance relationships before, Tudor stubbornly resists Kahoni’s advances.
But can Tudor be worn down enough to enjoy a touch of paradise?
A TOUCH OF KINK
A moody and angry Tudor follows his friend, Radu, to the airport to pick up a client.
Despite Radu’s efforts, he’s still sulking over his boyfriend, Kahoni, not being able to fly over for his birthday.
But the airport only opens up the door to a stream of steamy surprises for Tudor. Will his mood improve?
A TOUCH OF GAY
Radu has always joked with Tudor about his friend’s gay rubbing off on him. Neither of them has taken that joke seriously until Radu’s meltdown and crazy confession: Radu thinks he might be gay.
Despite Radu’s insistence that Tudor’s gayness has helped him figure out his own, there’s more to that story of discovery. Charismatic, sexy, and all around amazing Marius, the man Radu has been crushing on for months, pushed the loud-mouth, offensive Radu into exploring who he truly is.
Figuring out he wasn’t all that straight is the easy part. Getting enough courage to talk to Marius, that’s a whole different challenge, as Radu seems to turn into a stuttering idiot around Marius. Will Radu learn to be confident enough to pursue Marius? Or will Marius act faster and challenge the confused Radu too soon?
Excerpt – A Touch of Gay
Radu kept his eyes closed, relying on Tudor to steer him clear of any incoming threat. He’d worried about nothing but feeling and enjoying this moment of pure openness, even if no one guessed how much of himself he’d put in every move, every twist, and every step.
Suddenly, Radu felt he needed to open his eyes. There was something he had to see. He forced his eyes open and they fell on Marius, a slack-jawed Marius, to be exact. Marius was standing in the middle of the dancing ring, a few steps away from Radu, his eyes glued to Radu’s hips. As if sensing the gaze now trained on him, Marius slowly looked up, taking in every inch of Radu. When their eyes met, Radu shivered. He didn’t know for sure, but that looked a lot like naked lust. Marius craved him, and that thought shook Radu’s entire world. This wasn’t a tentative idea of a future date. This seemed real, something Radu could cling to. Hold on to, long after the evening was over.
Marius blinked a few times, licked his lips, and took one step toward Radu. His second step faltered, his eyes on Radu, a questioning look silently asking for permission to move closer. Radu smiled and rolled his hips, trying to dance invitingly enough that Marius wouldn’t stop again. Not before their bodies were close together, Marius’ arms around Radu.
A few heartbeats later, Marius took the remaining steps between them, closing the gap and meshing into the dancing crowd of bodies. Although he’d wanted it, Radu hadn’t been prepared for it. Feeling Marius’ body against his, the man’s breath brushing his cheek and ear, his cologne invading his sense of smell, Radu got dizzy. Not the kind of dizziness that made you faint, the kind that pushed you to insane decision, the kind where you didn’t know which way was up, but never wanted to find out anyway.
Radu reached up and locked his hands behind Marius’ neck, moving with him and swaying against his body. The thrill of it sent shivers all the way down his body, and returned in waves every time a new part of his body brushed against Marius. Who fucking knew why people took drugs when there were sensations like this one right here to experience.
Prizes: $5 Amazon Gift Card; 3 ebook copies of backlist titles (winner’s choice)
Writer, traveler, and coffee addict, Alina Popescu has been in love with books all her life. She started writing when she was ten and even won awards in local competitions. She has always been drawn to sci-fi, fantasy, and the supernatural realm, which explains her deep love for vampires and is also to blame for this trilogy.
Site & Blog: http://alina-popescu.com
Today I’m going to unapologetically fangirl the hell out of Leta Blake. You’ll probably know her for her ice skating novel, Training Season, and also the Will and Patrick (Wake Up Married) series. But I’m fangirling all over her for The River Leith. Seriously peeps. This book kept me up all night. I simply could not put it down. I felt compelled to contact Leta (I gushed via Messenger. Can you imagine?) and asked very nicely if she’d like to come over to my blog and answer some questions. So, here we go: (Don’t forget to check out the giveaway!)
RJ: I totally fell in love with Leith and Zach. Where did you find the inspiration for these two?
Leta: I often find inspiration in music and, this will make no sense, but this whole story showed up for me when I was listening to the Gaslight Anthem song “Here’s Looking at You Kid”.
If you can listen to that and tell me how this story lived in the song and then accosted me with a demand that I write it, let me know! Because I have no idea!
The other thing I was playing with at the time was the idea of falling in love with the same person twice. I’d been talking with a fellow writer pal about how people love to read first time love stories and how it’d be fun to write one where the people fall in love a second time, but not because they broke up. Amnesia seemed a good solution.
RJ: Okay, you’re right. That makes no sense. It’s a cool song, though. I loved how you gave us Zach’s POV, without actually giving it to us. (For those who haven’t read it, Zach ‘talks’ to us via his vlog) This was ingenious and I haven’t seen it done before. Why not just write his POV? Was there a specific reason why you did it this way?
Leta: A dear friend of mine actually suggested the idea back when she was beta reading the original draft, which had none of Zach’s point of view at all. She read the draft and said, “You know, this really requires Zach’s point of view, and you’ve already got this vlog thread in there, why don’t you write his point of view as him doing the vlogs?”
If I recall correctly, though, I’m the one who decided to do it in script form, but it’s possible that was her idea, too. It was quite a few years ago now.
But I’m glad you liked the way Zach’s point of view was presented. I enjoyed pushing some boundaries with that!
RJ: Any chance of getting Arthur’s story? If not, what can I bribe you with?
Leta: Aw, Arthur! He’s a good brother! And, alas, no. I’m afraid this entire universe is off my writing radar right now. For some time after I’d finished it, I’d actually thought I’d write the story of their first time falling in love, and do it from Zach’s point of view. I was going to call it The Running Zachariah. But I’ve only written a few very, very short things for my blog, AO3, and Patreon account.
The Running Zachariah Meets the River Leith: https://archiveofourown.org/works/2601446
Are You a Runner or a Fighter? https://letablake.wordpress.com/2014/09/18/are-you-a-runner-or-a-fighter-the-running-zachariah-mmromance-amreading/
RJ: Leith’s story revolves around him losing three years of his memory and the implications, not only on his life, but on those closest to him. How much research went into the medical and emotional side of these events.
Leta: I did quite a bit of research but I tried to keep it more emotionally true than medically true. I wanted to explore the idea that love is more than memories and explore the grief of how a traumatic event can change people’s lives, leading them to make less than stellar choices (Zach) and yet also making them dig deep to find themselves again. I was more interested in telling that sort of story than making the medical details perfect.
I wrote a blog post about the choices I made regarding the amnesia here: https://letablake.wordpress.com/2015/02/15/amnesia-doesnt-work-like-that-research/
RJ: The title is reflected around Leith and Zach’s names but also around the loss of memory. How did you come up with the title? Did it come first or did the storyline dictate it?
Leta: Well, I specifically chose the name Leith because it was a great play on the River Lethe in Greek Mythology. That’s the river of forgetting that the dead cross through on their way to the underworld, making them forget their loved ones. I chose Zach’s name because it means ‘The Lord has remembered”, which sort of means like the one who remembers it all, yeah? So it made sense that there would be a lot of river symbolism in the story itself and, in the end, it just seemed to be the right title for the book. I actually love the title but have wondered if it is off-putting to readers since it doesn’t make it really clear that it’s a romance, etc.
RJ: Okay, time for some quick-fire questions. No thinking!
Coke or Pepsi? COKE 4-EVA
Favorite color? Red or green or yellow or blue depending on the day. 🙂
Favorite place to read? The beach!
Cook at home or dine out? Dine out!
Favorite non-alcoholic drink? Seltzer water!
Favorite holiday spot? Florida’s Gulf Coast
Winter or summer? SUMMER ALWAYS
Harry Potter or Twilight? Harry Potter!
If there were 25hrs in a day, what would you do with the extra hour? Write! 🙂
RJ: Wow! Most of your answers match mine. We could be twins!
That’s it from me. A huge big thanks to Leta for taking the time to indulge in my fangirling. If you haven’t read The River Leith, or any of Leta’s other works, I suggest you step it up and check them out. I guarantee a great read.
Keep scrolling for the buy links and a chance to win an ecopy of The River Leith and the first three episodes of Will and Patrick, you lucky buggers. 🙂
Memory is everything.
After an injury in the ring, amateur boxer Leith Wenz wakes to discover his most recent memories are three years out of date. Unmoored and struggling to face his new reality, Leith must cope anew with painful revelations about his family. His brother is there to support him, but it’s the unfamiliar face of Zach, a man introduced as his best friend, that provides the calm he craves. Until Zach’s presence begins to stir up feelings Leith can’t explain.
For Zach, being forgotten by his lover is excruciating. He carefully hides the truth from Leith to protect them both from additional pain. His bottled-up turmoil finds release through vlogging, where he confesses his fears and grief to the faceless Internet. But after Leith begins to open up to him, Zach’s choices may come back to haunt him.
Ultimately, Leith must ask his heart the questions memory can no longer answer.
A random commenter on this blog post will receive an ecopy of The River Leith (you’ll be fangirling too after you read it) PLUS the first three episodes from Will and Patrick – Wake Up Married series. Winner will be drawn next week.
Author of the bestselling book Smoky Mountain Dreams and the fan favorite Training Season, Leta Blake’s educational and professional background is in psychology and finance, respectively. However, her passion has always been for writing. She enjoys crafting romance stories and exploring the psyches of made up people. At home in the Southern U.S., Leta works hard at achieving balance between her day job, her writing, and her family.
George Pettigrew and his papa must leave the California rancho they’d lived on since his birth. They end up in New York City, where Papa marries and George gets a new beloved mama. George also meets Frank and Bart who become fast friends, and in Bart’s case, even more.
The start of the Civil War leaves George the man of the family, but although he’s found a job, it’s difficult to pay the ever-increasing rent. Then Papa dies at Appomattox and Mama falls ill.
After Mama dies, her father takes George’s siblings. When George learns his younger sister is being abused, he rescues the three children. But will dressing his sisters as boys and himself as a woman be enough of a disguise to keep them safe until they can reach the valley he’s dreamed of? Will Bart leave behind his own family and go with the man he loves?
George knew a number of boys at the academy he attended, boys he’d say hello to or smile at, but none that he was interested in pursuing a friendship with.
He’d talked to Papa about it.
“They’re acquaintances, Georgie, and that’s fine. Don’t let it worry you.”
Papa ruffled George’s hair. “Your Uncle Guillermo was the first man I liked enough to call friend, and I was…” His gaze became unfocused as he considered it. “I was twenty-five when we first met. It nearly tore out my heart when he died.” He looked almost as sad as when he thought about Mama—George’s first mama.
“Are you sorry you became friends with him?”
“No. I wouldn’t have missed that for the world. He was the sort of man you wanted at your back when you knew trouble was brewing. The sort of man I want you to grow up to become.” Papa smiled. “So you’ve got plenty of time to find a friend or two.”
Because Papa had said so, George was content to wait.
And Papa was always right, because now George had two friends, Frank Thompson and Bart Hall.
George liked Frank. They worked together grooming the horses, and George helped Frank with his riding lessons. Frank helped him with his schoolwork, because while Papa was a smart man and knew many things, he wasn’t very good at teaching book learning to George.
“You’re not stupid, George,” Frank told him. “You can do this.” And he set to work teaching George how to do his sums.
They were close friends.
But George was fascinated by Bart, Mrs. Hall’s oldest son, who worked as a carpenter’s apprentice.
He first met Bart when he came around the side of the cottage while George was in the paddock exercising Nightfall.
Papa and Mr. Thompson had set up a schedule for Frank to come and help with the horses. Today wasn’t one of the days he’d come over… he’d had to go to the lawyer’s office, where he clerked.
They had three horses now, and in another five months, the number would rise to four. The beautiful palomino mare was in foal. Mama couldn’t ride, mostly because she was expecting a baby too, but that was okay. Papa worked with Bella Dama, calming her down, since not only had her last owner taken a whip to her, but so had the one before that, according to the old scars on her flanks.
That day, George had only put her through mild exercises; horses were big animals, but they could abort easily. She’d been out in the paddock earlier with Sunrise, but now she was resting in her box stall.
George had set up a few low jumps, and he rode Nightfall in a circle around the paddock before setting him at the first jump. The gelding took it easily and went on to the second jump and then the third. When they finished the course, George turned Nightfall, and that was when he saw the tall, broad-shouldered boy standing there.
For a second he couldn’t catch his breath. Hair so dark a brown it appeared black was tied back at the nape of his neck. His eyes were also a dark brown. A toolbox hung from his shoulder.
“Can…” George swallowed. “Can I help you?”
“I’m Bart Hall. I come by to walk my Ma home. I was going to the servants’ door, but then I saw you and I had to watch.” He said the last words almost defiantly.
“We don’t have a servants’ door, Bart Hall. Hello, I’m George Pettigrew.”
Bart’s brows met above his nose in a scowl. George figured he was about fourteen, three years older than him, but that expression made him seem older. Bart opened his mouth, and George smiled and wondered what he was going to say.
Bart’s scowl was replaced with a reluctant smile of his own, and George felt his heart give an unexpected thump. “Hello, George. Sorry, it’s been a long day, and I get snappy when I’m hungry.”
Did he think what he’d said was snappy? George wanted to grin at him, but he wasn’t sure how Bart would take it, so he didn’t. But he couldn’t resist a saucy smile
“Go on into the kitchen. Your mama’s putting the finishing touches on dinner. You can have some.”
“No, I can’t. I’m just a carpenter.”
“You’re a carpenter—that’s an honest profession, and there’s no just about it. I have to put Nightfall up. Go in, and I’ll join you in a minute. The side door opens into the kitchen.” George started to lean down to open the gate, but Bart bounded forward and unlatched it for him. “Thanks.” George nodded at Bart and nudged Nightfall through. “Close it, please?” He felt Bart’s gaze on him as he rode into the stable, and a quick glance over his shoulder proved him right. He sent a small salute Bart’s way, and Bart grinned at him and saluted back.
George kicked free of the stirrups, swung his leg over Nightfall’s neck, and slid to the stable floor. “What did you think of him?” he asked the gelding as he removed the saddle. “I’ve never seen anyone like him before.”
He couldn’t understand what was happening. Papa had told him about wet dreams, and he hadn’t panicked the next time his prick had grown hard and he’d climaxed, shooting white liquid over his groin and chest. Not that it happened frequently, since Papa had also told him about masturbating, an act George had taken to with relish.
But this was the first time his prick had hardened just from looking at another person.
He worried his lower lip. He’d heard the boys at the academy making fun of one of the smaller students. They’d called him nellie and even tried to beat him up. George wouldn’t have stood for that—Papa had raised him better. Papa had also taught him some tricks for when you were fighting more than one opponent, but the boy’s papa must have taught him the same tricks, because while the boy had a torn shirt and a knot on his cheekbone, the bigger boys had black eyes and bloody noses, and they’d run away crying.
“Nice work,” George had said, and the kid grinned at him and flinched when the knot pulled.
“I’m small, but I’m tough.” He fingered the tear in his shirt. “Pa’s not going to be happy about this.”
George wanted to ask the kid why they’d called him Nellie, obviously a girl’s name, but he was afraid he’d come across as ignorant if he did, so he didn’t. He decided to wait until he had a chance to talk to Papa.
And that had been an eye-opening conversation.
“I’m glad you were willing to stick up for that boy,” Papa had said.
“Why did they call him nellie?”
“They were bullies, and they did that to make themselves feel big. Men do that also. When you’re faced with a situation like that, you do whatever it takes to let them know you won’t put up with it.”
“Yes, but I still don’t understand…”
Papa sighed. “You know how a man and a woman sleep in the same bed to make a baby? Well, there are some men who like to sleep in the same bed with other men.”
“Oh. I understand.” But he really didn’t. A man couldn’t make a baby with another man.
Papa looked relieved, so George let the subject drop.
Only now, George thought he did understand.
(and it’s on sale right now at JMS Books!)
Thank you, RJ, for this opportunity!
Isn’t it interesting how things work out? Originally, this story was supposed to be about a young man circa 1870 who had to dress as a woman in order to protect his family. My plan was for him to meet another young man, who fell in love with him, not realizing they shared the same plumbing. I even had the idea that George Pettigrew would take a tumble off his mare and wind up with his skirts up around his waist. Sharps Browne would ride up, realize the woman he’d been falling in love with was actually a man, and decide he didn’t really care.
Well, that’s not going to happen.
I first had the idea for Home Before Sundown back in 2012. It’s what I call my Civil War western, so readers wouldn’t be confused and think it was a contemporary. At that time, the title was Home Before Daylight. All my books go through at least one title change in the course of getting them written.
I knew the story was going to start with George and his Papa. Or was it? Maybe it was going to start with the young man called Sharps instead. The problem was, no matter how I worked it, the story just wouldn’t come together.
So I set it aside, and 2012 passed. So did 2013, 2014, and 2015. Every once in a while I’d open the file, but still no luck. Finally, in October of 2016, I realized the story didn’t start with George or Sharps talking, but with Tom Pettigrew, George’s Papa, and voilà, the story finally began to move!
We traveled from California to the Badlands of South Dakota, to New York City, from the time of the Mexican-American War to the Civil War.
As it moved, it occurred to me that George would need a romantic interest before he encountered Sharps, so I created Bart Hall. (see the exclusive excerpt.). Only as it turned out, George and Bart were so sweet together, I couldn’t bear to separate them. I’d just have to find someone else for Sharps.
By the time Sharps finally put in an appearance, the story had reached about 90k. The next thing I knew, it was topping 103k, and I had to trim it back. What to do, what to do? *the light goes on* I cut out all of Sharps’s chapters, set them aside, and reworked what had happened from George’s POV. Although the word count dropped to approximately 88k, by the time I was done, it had risen to an additional 11k.
Never fear, though. Sharps’s story, Two for Home, will contain the missing chapters, and we’ll see what happens from his POV.
And just as an aside, Deuce Pettigrew, who we met in In His Line of Work, is the descendant of George’s brother.
Tinnean has been writing since the 3rd grade, where she was inspired to try her hand at epic poetry. Fortunately, that epic poem didn’t survive the passage of time; however, her love of writing not only survived but thrived, and in high school she became a member of the magazine staff, where she contributed a number of stories.
It was with the advent of the family’s second computer – the first intimidated everyone – that her writing took off, enhanced in part by fanfiction, but mostly by the wonder that is copy and paste.
While involved in fandom, she was nominated for both Rerun and Light My Fire Awards. Now she concentrates on her original characters and has been published by Nazca Plains, Dreamspinner, JMS Books, and Wilde City, as well as being self-published. Recent novels have received honorable mention in the 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016 Rainbow Awards, and two of the 2014 submissions were finalists.
A New Yorker at heart, she resides in SW Florida with her husband, two computers, and a Surface 3 named Baby Jane.
Ernest Hemingway’s words reflect Tinnean’s devotion to her craft: Once writing has become your major vice and greatest pleasure, only death can stop it.
Live Journal: http://tinnean.livejournal.com/
She’d love it if you dropped by to say hello.
If you’d like to sample her earlier works, they can be found here.