Heard an old song the other day… or old-ish by alternative music standards, not old as in from the 50’s. Anyway, this is Little Secrets by Passion Pit. I loved it back when it first came out and it’s still great now.
Growing up in a small town as a (presumably) straight guy, Luke Chambers has certain preconceived notions about gay people. He used to believe queer people were more flamboyant and easy to identify, but after frequently being hit over the head with the realization that this is not the case in One Little Word, it’s finally starting to sink in.
In this scene, Luke is working through his misconceptions. This is also called ‘revolutionary thoughts that actually aren’t that revolutionary at all.’ The scene is from One Little Word, and the box set for the first four books is available here.
“There are signs,” I tried slowly. “Clues that point to someone’s sexuality. There can’t just be nothing until suddenly, uh.” I puzzled my way through this as I spoke. “It doesn’t work that way. Because if there aren’t signs, then that means. That means anyone could be gay.”
“It’s true though,” she said.
“No, that can’t be right.” I laughed nervously. “Because if anyone could be gay—” I didn’t want to continue, but I also had to keep going. “If anyone could be gay, then that means I could be gay.”
Alicia nodded but showed no other reaction. The whole world turned upside down for me, but she just kept sitting next to me, eating her breakfast burrito.
“Aren’t you going to freak out?” I asked her.
“Oh no, oh no,” she replied in a monotone voice. “It’s the end of the world.”
“You’re a terrible actress.”
She smiled at me. “I’m actually a great actress.” She hooked her arm with mine and put her head on my shoulder companionably. “I just really don’t give a shit about your sexuality.”
Who knew it could be that easy?
-Get the book now!
My newest novel is up on Kindle Vella right now!
When a teen’s attempts to come out of the closet are influenced by a vengeful witch’s hex, bisexual erasure takes on a whole new meaning in Invisi-bi-lity.
Vella is a new way for authors to post stories on Amazon, and it works in episodic format. An author I follow had this plan, probably much more thought out than my own, to have five stories published by the new year. Pretty ambitious, considering they possibly wanted the novels to be complete too. For some reason I thought I could do the same thing, so I guess I’ll look on the bright side and praise my confidence.
I have three works currently on Vella and one soon to be published. Of these four, two are finished. So I actually didn’t do too bad and am going to give myself an A for effort. I tried and I tell myself that’s the important part.
Here is a scene from the beginning of the book. The main character John has some trouble pinning down his sexuality because a certain boy always gets in the way.
Figuring out my sexuality is difficult enough without Cody O’Keefe screwing everything up.
The high school halls are filled with attractive people. From the cute girl with amazing legs in my English class to the washboard abs of the football quarterback. Then Cody smiles at me, his eyes crinkling at the corners, and I only see him.
Intelligent, funny, and gorgeous, Cody O’Keefe has it all. My favorite thing about him? When people talk, he listens. He makes people feel important. It’s basically a superpower in a boring city where nothing ever happens like Buffalo, New York… though his warm brown eyes are also nice.
Cody’s gay. And he always knew. Back in kindergarten, he told his parents he’d rather marry me than Ella Hopkins and no amount of her sharing Rice Krispy treats would change that. Girls? Not gonna happen.
Me? I’ve sometimes been pretty sure I may not be straight. Occasionally. Much less definitive.
Sometimes I think I’m not bisexual, I’m just a little in love with my best friend. Or am I bi but only fixating on the nearest and best queer guy and not really in love with him? These questions swirl in my brain constantly these days. How do I gain clarity? The answers won’t just slap me in the face with the truth.
Tuning back into the world around me, I stand on the sidewalk, staring incredulously at the guy who just slapped me in the face.
“Sorry, did I hit too hard?” Cody pats my cheek this time, an affectionate sort of slap. “My bad, but you were pretty far away.”
About a head taller, he stands there with an easy smile, all up in my business without the slightest hesitation. Comfortable in our friendship and totally unaware of the thirsty thoughts in my brain.
Cody O’Keefe has amazingly soft chocolate-brown hair that gets mussed if you so much as look at it wrong. With peach skin and the most enticing slightly chubby cheeks, his beautifully open face is nearly as expressive as the song lyrics, affirmations, and notes he always writes on his arms in black or blue pen.
-check out the rest of the novel here on Vella!
Quick Summary: The world’s worst fisherman stumbles onto the best catch ever when reeling in a mysterious man from the sea. Two fish out of water fall in love and try to find a place for themselves when one lives on land and the other at sea.
My Thoughts: Catch and Release is a beautiful, hilarious love story about basically falling for someone from outer space… or underwater. The writing is fantastic, though there’s only so much material to work with in this premise, and it goes on a bit too long.
Imaginary Rating System: 3.5 cryptids out of 5, except that seems unfair to the poor .5 creature
Our main characters
Joe used to be a hedge fund manager, had a near death experience, and changed his life. Now he’s a terrible fisher in a small seaside town. He’s minding his own business when he finds a strange man washed ashore.
Or is he a man? The guy’s caught in a net, and the situation escalates quickly when Joe tries to help.
The strange blue-haired person with gills doesn’t speak the language, is naked and well-endowed, and is instantly drawn to Joe. And weary/hostile to his buddy Jerry. And Joe is drawn right back, though he doesn’t know what to make of this encounter.
Joe doesn’t even really know what Dave is. They refer to him as a cryptid, a creature whose existence is rumored but not proven like Nessie, Big Foot, sirens, and mermaids. (However, we do learn what Dave is eventually.)
The Love Story
On the plus side, they’re attracted to each other from the jump. But they can’t communicate verbally. And humans aren’t well suited to prolonged periods in seawater. They come from different worlds and there aren’t cultural divides so much as species divides. Can they really make it work just based on the chemistry between them?
And yes, the name they give this buff, chiseled sea god… is Dave. It’s awesome.
Sidekicks and Shenanigans
Dave can’t really speak so Joe and his sidekick Jerry carry the brunt of the conversation, sharing their thoughts about Dave’s origins and what his behavior means throughout the novel. Jerry is great. He’s an older veteran fisherman who is absolutely no threat yet becomes the unwitting rival/enemy/pet of Dave throughout. He’s a lot of fun.
And many parts of the novel are light-hearted because making it work with an alien lover who doesn’t understand human customs has a learning curve. Dave woos Joe with fresh, sometimes frightening, fish, Joe worries Dave is a sea vampire for a bit, and there are some wild misunderstandings about mating rituals. It’s all very entertaining and hilarious.
If the hilarity isn’t in play, then the writing is so descriptive and beautiful instead. It’s a joy to read and a lot of rich detail and lovely writing. However, the problem when communication is limited and their environments aren’t compatible? The title says it all. There’s only two options: catch or release. So they get together and must separate, catch and release, catch and release, rinse and repeat. It just didn’t need to be as long as it was for me.
More about Dave:
Without giving much away, Dave isn’t human or animal. He’s pretty much treated as something else entirely. That’s just something to keep in mind as some might be uncomfortable with this concept. The romance is a bit different than with shifters or vampires because those are partly human or were human once. Dave has some human-like features, but he’s largely alien.
Quote From The Novel:
Catch and Release by Isabel Murray
Joe McKenzie’s high-flying London life imploded six years ago, and it happened dramatically enough that paramedics were involved. That’s all in the past. Now, Joe couldn’t be happier living a solitary life as a fisherman on England’s wild northern coast.
Okay, he could be happier.
It’s not like he’s depressed or anything but, you know. The weather’s not great. Life’s a bit samey. He’s only thirty-eight. The idea of another forty years is a bit exhausting, to be honest. He passes the time pretending to be a fisherman but the truth is, he sucks at it.
Then Joe makes the catch of a lifetime when he stumbles across the mysterious Dave washed up on the beach—an enormous man with gills and uncanny power over the sea. Once Dave stops trying to kidnap Joe and/or kill Joe’s fishing buddy, Jerry, turns out he’s kind of…intriguing?
And not half as smooth as he seems to think he is.
There’s a lot Joe doesn’t know about Dave. He doesn’t know why Dave keeps disappearing or why he can’t seem to stay away. He doesn’t know what Dave wants from him. He doesn’t even know what, exactly, Dave is. And Joe can’t ask, because they don’t speak the same language.
Joe does know one thing, though. He is in love.
Which, great. How’s that going to end well?
Catch and Release is a gay paranormal romantic comedy featuring a truly terrible fisherman with an octopus phobia, a merman (maybe? Confirmation pending) with no sense of personal boundaries at all, constant communication fails, a whole lot of sea life not in the sea but in Joe’s house, yes, it’s dead, some epic yearning from both sides, and bewilderingly enough, maybe a way to make it work?
My eyes drift down to the flower in my hands. The four fragile petals can’t even stand proud like the daffodils, gardenias, and other blooms fellow classmates received.
“What do you think this means?” I wonder, half afraid the blue violet will collapse any second.
In One Little Lie, a clueless athlete learns the world is more than just gay or straight in this coming of age love story about secret relationships, friendship, and bisexuality. This scene involves two boyfriends snarking at each other before they go out for the night. I don’t believe more context is necessary, this is mostly shameless flirting.
Oh, expect some helpful information to know is that One Little Lie is on sale. Get a discount now by grabbing the book for 99 cents while you still can! This is the second sweet and snarky M/M romance in the One More Thing series of contemporary YA novels.
“Wait, your parents weren’t home?” Ryan asked. “Shoulda mentioned that earlier, Chambers.”
I had no idea. Also, I blamed him. “You’re supposed to be the smart one, Miller.”
Ryan squawked in outrage. “Sorry, I was distracted by someone trying to pick out the right nail polish and dress to wear.”
“Are you implying I wear a dress because I’m gay?” I managed not to add an ‘or something’ on the end and ruin the joke. I continued with, “That’s homophobic and I’m offended.”
Ryan rolled his eyes. “Don’t even try that with me.”
“I’ll do what I want with you,” I muttered darkly, moving into his personal space.
He batted his lashes at me. “Promises, promises.”
–You can also grab the book here as part of the One Crazy Love Story Boxset, which features the first four books in the One More Thing Series.
Such a tiny word for a huge subject. At its core, art is a form of expression. A way to show a piece of your heart or soul when words fail.
As the shy kid hiding behind his mother’s Anne Taylor pant leg, skipping words altogether appealed to me. Putting pretty colors on a blank page and creating a picture, creating a statement without the awkwardness and anxiety, it was everything.
I love painting. I love everything from color theory to the first brush stroke. I love art.
Art is beautiful, transformative, passionate… and limited.
What you always wanted for Christmas, One Little Lie is on sale. Or maybe what you didn’t know you always wanted for Christmas. Yeah, that works. And because in my mind it’s appropriate, I picked part of the book to share where they talk about glitter because glitter is a vital part of Christmas. Not as celebrated as Santa but totally there in every shiny present and tacky decoration.
The book is about Luke, a popular athlete at his small town high school who just did the unthinkable by falling for another guy. His journey to figure out his sexuality will test everything he knows about his relationships and himself. In this scene, Luke and friends are going out to a gay bar and he’s trying not to freak out.
I wrote this book so long ago I barely remember writing it, but I do know this part was really fun. Luke and his boyfriend were both panicking for different reasons, and there is glitter, moody drunk girls, snark, and cuteness, which is apparently everything I adore.
As Ryan’s really good at being a spaz, I should leave that to him. Me? I’m awesome. I had to remember that. So what if I was going to a gay bar for the first time and couldn’t even get drunk? Without alcohol to help, I was a terrible dancer.
Did I belong at a gay bar? As a couple, yeah, I guess. But me? No idea. What if everyone looked at me and knew I didn’t belong? What if they didn’t? Did that mean I did belong?
I went simple with my clothes, a red shirt that hugged my muscles and tight jeans. Ryan… did the opposite. He looked good, a little ridiculous with all the glitter, but also like himself. Also super gay.
“What do you think?” Ryan asked coyly while preening, batting his eyes in a way he thought was flirtatious but was actually excessive.
Dragging my eyes away from their current focus, I managed to reply nonchalantly. “Are you sure that’s the most obnoxious glitter you could find? Because I can barely even see it when I close my eyes.”
-This is from One Little Lie, the second sweet and snarky M/M romance in the One More Thing series of contemporary YA novels. Grab this gay romance for 99 cents right now! The deal lasts from the 26th-31, for those in the US and UK.
If you miss the sale, you can still get a great deal! Grab the book here as part of the One Crazy Love Story Boxset, which features the first four books in the One More Thing Series.
I’m a little early for New Year’s resolutions, and I also don’t make New Year’s resolutions, but I guess I’m trying to be more flexible by reading Dead Over Heels. I usually hate straying from series reading order, though since the books in the Blackhaven Manor series are connected yet about different characters I made an exception. This was the perfect time to read too since it takes place over the winter holidays.
Quick Summary: A troubled loner finds a fresh start in a magical town. Meeting his fated mate helps, but running into an unexpected ghost does not. Oh yeah, he sees dead people.
My thoughts: What a great winter/holiday novel about fated mates who suddenly find themselves living together during the Christmas season. The book is full of sweet romance, domestic ups and downs, and just a touch of heat.
Fictional Rating System: 4.5 tiny cat sweaters out of 5
Keywords and tags: Paranormal romance, holidays, age gap, werewolf, medium, ghosts, fated mates, cranky cats, crankier spirits, fluffy, finding home, acceptance
Characters and Story (and Curtains?)
Fritz, called this for many technical malfunctions in real life, is a sweet, clumsy guy who is used to annoying people and occasionally hurting himself with his klutzy mishaps. Adding in medium abilities only makes matters worse. Even though supernatural beings are known, he thinks he’s just a regular guy who happens to see ghosts and never stays in one place too long because people will ask questions or he’ll overstay his welcome.
Until he arrives at Blackhaven manor. He’s looking for a job, and they instead send him to the sheriff’s office. Said sheriff rightly assumes this is a set up because the manor literally hires everybody, they even have a job which is basically Official Opener and Closer of Curtains. This isn’t at all related to the plot, but it’s a detail I remember when writing this, and I still find it amusing.
Vander is the sheriff, who indeed hires Fritz. It would be kind of rude to not give his fated mate a job. But before they can get to know each other better, Fritz accidentally touches some evidence and gets saddled with a ghost. A nasty one. Vander doesn’t know what’s happening, but realizes he needs to tread carefully to make his mate comfortable and get him to open up. So what follows is Vander low-key wooing his mate while Fritz tries to handle his uninvited ghostly house-guest.
Sweeter Than Sugar Cookies
While most shifters are apparently not huge fans of sweets, this book is filled with sugary goodness as the pair live together and fall in love. All while dealing with enthusiastic family members, a touch of demonic possession (or close enough), and hilariously feisty animals.
Honorable character mentions go to the hellbeast/nice kitty they babysit and the formidable goose who battles a werewolf and wins.
Honestly this wasn’t exactly my cup of tea. It’s an enjoyable book I didn’t really fall in love with, but I still recommend because of excellent writing and such fun, silly scenes that are sure to be memorable. I think there are lots of people who would love this novel when looking for seasonal reads, romantic comedies, and sweet love stories with relatively low angst.
Dead Over Heels by Arden Steele
It’s been twelve years since the Awakening. Otherlings are out of the paranormal closet. The whole world knows that creatures like vampires, werewolves, and witches exist. So, seeing dead people barely even rates on the freaky scale. Right?
Fritz Tolliver figures he must have done something terrible in a previous life to be afflicted with such a curse. In fact, every bad thing that has ever happened to him can be traced back to his unwanted ability. So, when a stupidly hot werewolf who’s way out of his league claims to be his mate, he should be thrilled. And he probably would have been if he hadn’t gone and gotten himself haunted by a nasty spirit on the same day.
When a human male strolls into the station asking for a job—and promptly spills an entire Americano on him—Sheriff Vander Hale has a feeling it’s going to be a bad day. Then, the door opens, the wind shifts, and suddenly, his whole world changes. There’s nothing he wouldn’t do for his mate, no battle he wouldn’t wage, even if his enemy is technically already dead. Unfortunately, there’s just one problem with his plan.
He’d go to hell and back for Fritz, but how is he supposed to fight something he can’t see?
Series Info: Blackhaven Manor
For my last holiday post, I shared a queer and very touching Christmas ad from Norway. This time… nope, this post has no redeeming value. It’s pure silliness.
I have never hung up mistletoe, but I would hang up missletoad. I originally thought the pictured showed a knife strapped to a frog, which was bizarre but still hilarious, and it’s funny to me either way. I started laughing before I even read the caption, so I figured I should share this.
Happy holidays from the missletoad!