A Festivus for the rest of us

The LGBTQ+ Romance New Year’s Freebie Fest is going on until the end of January, so I’m not completely late in posting this. Because it is winter and this giveaway includes the word ‘fest,’ I felt morally obligated to quote Seinfeld in the title.

Here’s some of the free queer books available now.


Former law enforcement agents try to lead a simpler life but a curse has other plans. This is a sample of Treasure Trail by Morgan Brice.

Sparks fly when Erik and Ben meet. But when a cursed hotel’s long-ago scandals resurface, the two men are pulled into a web of lies, danger, and deception that will test their bond—and might make them Cape May’s newest ghosts!


In Lease on Love by Lucy Ravens, being a good son means giving up many of his own dreams. He’s supposed to marry a woman and live the life his father wants him to until he meets his new real estate agent.

My parents have picked out the perfect life for me, including who I will marry… I have always been a good son, and with my father’s recent recovery from cancer, he deserves all the good things happening in my life. Those good things that happen to his son, he considers happening to him as well. I don’t hate him for it, but I can’t say I don’t wish for something more.


This is a bonus story from a series, featuring boyfriends and magic.

Join Remy and Laurence as they learn to control their magic with Bran Vingy’s head witch, Aella. Chapters contain steamy scenes intended for adult readers.


Trying to escape a killer leads a fox shifter to his wolf shifter mate, but finding the wolf might put him in danger.

A grieving wolf. A hunted fox. Fated mates, thrown together by chance, and the looming threat of a fabled Huntsman who might tear them apart forever.


Holy afterschool special, Batman

Here is a story about a loner who may want to be less alone. So Lydia takes a break from her busy schedule of hating everything and makes a new friend. This comes from When We Were Strangers, which is the free introduction to the characters in the One More Thing Series. This post is the introduction to the introduction. Or something.

This image perfectly sums up Lydia. And you can read this scene or the whole story at anytime because it is free. In case you missed any of the times I said free, I’m going to say free again. Free!

~

Lydia

What a beautiful summer day. With fresh air, flowers blooming, and sunshine shining down… everything was super annoying. I hated days like today. I hated most things, but I especially hated today.

Despite protests, I somehow ended up at a church picnic with my family on the other end of the park. I could only survive a few minutes of everybody praising the lord for this ‘blessed’ day and being offered potato salad from people way too intense about potato salad. Naturally, I fled.

In the back corner of the park, there lied a neglected area where public space met someone’s private, unkempt property. Sitting on top of the backrest of a hard as hell bench, I smoked a cigarette in solitude.

Hard to say what was more isolating: being alone in a crowd or being free and almost wanting to go back because maybe terrible company would be less lonely than no company. If being alone wasn’t good, and being with people wasn’t good, then how did I win?

Suddenly, I wasn’t alone.

“Does being such a cliché ever bother you?” a voice asked. The speaker stepped into view, a girl with burgundy hair, wearing a light blue shirt.

“Excuse me?” I responded coolly, steadying myself by resting my free hand on the concrete slab doubling as my seat, though I gave no other indication she startled me.

“Bad girl in black smoking by herself,” she elaborated, small smile on her lips. “I mean, don’t get me wrong, 10/10 on the aesthetic. I can feel the angst even from a distance, but it’s a little obvious, isn’t it?”

“Who are you?” I kept asking my own questions instead of acknowledging hers.

“Alicia Phillips, we go to the same school.”

“I believe you.” If I wanted to know my peers better, I… nope, I couldn’t even finish the thought.

She forced a laugh, smile turning tense. “You have no idea who I am, do you? It’s fine.” The confidence she possessed to speak to me so boldly evaporated as if it never existed.

I raised a hand, indicating she should stay while I considered her. I… she… huh.

Studying her, her blue shirt displayed a small white logo near the right sleeve, part of a uniform for a counselor at a summer camp near the outskirts of town. She wore khaki pants with her hair tied back in a ponytail. Her skin had more color than my vampiric whiteness, her figure fuller and curvier. It was hard to place her because she might look different during the school year.

Alicia Phillips. She wasn’t afraid to give me attitude, yet she acted embarrassed when I failed to recognize her. A girl both at home and uncomfortable in her own skin. Capable of brief moments of bravery… like when in front of an audience.

“I recognize you,” I realized. “You’re in plays, right? Plays are… cool.” Plays weren’t cool, but I was trying to be polite. Rudeness was more satisfying when it was earned. 

“Wow, you couldn’t sound even the slightest bit convincing, could you?” she asked in that gently teasing manner she kept addressing me with.

I should put her in her place, eviscerate her. It may make me feel better. Because I was confident, scary Lydia Smith, the badass in black clothes. People wanted to know more about me but weren’t stupid enough to come ask. I was unapproachable. Nobody talked to me like she did. I would be annoyed, but curiosity won out.

“Wanna help me be less of a cliché?” I asked.

“Huh? You’re not suggesting a makeover, are you?” Never. Wordlessly, I held up the pack of cigarettes in an offer. “Oh, smoke with you?” She neither accepted or refused, talking to herself as she continued, “Peer pressure. This is, I’m being pressured by a peer. Holy afterschool special, Batman.”

Hopeless theater weirdos were the last thing I needed, people who didn’t know how to talk without a script, so I wasn’t charmed. I laughed anyway. “You’re strange.”

“Yeah, well.” She met my eyes, held her head higher. Impressive. “I’m a proud drama kid, and my best friend is a bad influence on me.”

~

The rest is available here. For free!

When We Were Strangers

For my One More Thing series, I wrote a free prequel called When We Were Strangers as an introduction to the characters. I don’t think I promoted it much on social media, so I’m finally doing that. Even though it technically takes place during the summer and this is the winter. I’m really selling this, aren’t I? I hope you have enjoyed this summary of everything I did wrong, now here is the book!

Okay, this is a scene from Ryan’s story, and I would explain, but it’s pretty self explanatory.

Ryan

Have you ever found yourself standing buck naked in a wheatfield in broad daylight? Only there wasn’t any wheat. Or if there was, it was in seed form, so you were basically out in the open where anyone could see you. Has this ever happened to anyone else? Of course it has. It probably happened all the time and was so relatable.

Man, if only I could say it wasn’t every day I ended up locked out while wearing no clothes, but it occurred way more than I was comfortable with. Once. It happened once times. This time, in fact. And it was once more time than I ever wanted.

Ha-ha. Just kidding. I wasn’t naked. Nope. Not at all. Who was naked? Me?!?! No way. I wasn’t naked, you were naked! Oh my god, don’t panic. RYAN, STAY CALM. DON’T PANIC. PLEASE SAVE ME BATMAN, SUPERMAN, OR RYAN REYNOLDS. HEY, HE STOLE MY NAME. No, he had it first since he was older than me.

Ahem. Okay. As I wasn’t in the best headspace for narration, I would come back later. Hopefully when I was calmer and wearing pants.

–the rest of the story is available here for free.

Three festive books, plus two summer reads

For the November LGBT Romance giveaway, there’s three gay romance reads that look promising if you’re in the mood to make the most of the winter season. And two that might be right if you want to live in denial. This giveaway isn’t seasonal, I’m just making it that way because I want to. While the title says November, these offers only last until Nov. 14, so make sure to grab your free copies before then. There’s some other good M/M books too, but I tried to select ones I hadn’t mentioned before. And there’s also lots of W/W titles.

Old friends start a holiday fling that could turn into more in this story about a solider and struggling actor.



A Christmas Chance by Louisa Masters

A romance blossoms in Paris, but the closer it gets to Christmas the closer it gets to the end of their relationship.


Smoking Out by Ashton Cade

Best friends to more in this story of a screw up who must come out of the closet to have a chance with a sexy firefighter in Alaska.


My Fake Billionaire by Ana Ashley

Fake relationship between a billionaire and a librarian on a tropical island. This all sounds good to me, and I’m definitely one of those people who wants summer to last forever.



Summer of Hush by R.L. Merrill

While on a summer tour, two people in the world of metal music begin to fall for each other in this tale of rock stars and romance.

If you want more summer in the winter, Summer Romance is a free book from me that is available in a different giveaway here.

Books that are not mine

Okay, one of these books is mine, but most of them aren’t. Here’s an October giveaway, which I am posting late but not too late as it is still October. These are all LGBT romances. There’s over 25 books with what looks to be mostly M/M but a handful of W/W too. Here are some that caught my eye.

Boyfriend Emergency

Description: When Rafe steps in to save Carter from an embarrassing encounter with his asshole of an ex, he finally has a reason to introduce himself to the man that caught his attention the last few weeks.

Stuck at a medical conference, Carter is forced to pretend that his relationship with Rafe is more than what it is, but maybe everything he’s hoped for.

My thoughts: Pretend boyfriends! For reasons! That’s good enough for me.


Rock Me

Description: It’s easy being an out-and-proud prince…or at least that’s what I’ve led everyone to believe. I’ve spent the last few years partying across Europe, trying to dull the pain of my first love’s betrayal. No one gets under my skin. No one knows the real me. I won’t let them in.

Until him.

My thoughts: There’s novels where someone falls in love with a prince, and then there’s novels where someone falls in love with a rockstar. This is both! Also, I like purple and pretty boys, so I dig this cover.


Sunkissed Summer

Description: Marco Flores hits Miami Beach with his closest friends and longtime crush, Kieran.

He’s delighted to spend time with Kieran, even if sharing a bed with him is hell on Marco’s heart — and other parts. Until he discovers the attraction is mutual, and they give into desire. More than once.

My thoughts: It’s technically fall, but this looks promising if you’re still in the mood for summer. There’s best friends, some heat, catching feelings, and a HEA.


Realigned

Description: It’s time for Shaun to return home to his family’s farm in outback Australia. He has a decision to make: continue working his dream job with NASA or move back for a corporate job and his family.

He thinks his decision is easy.

He thinks he’s going to have a fun two weeks at home catching up.

He also thinks seeing his best friend, Mitch, will finally allow him to move on from that one hot kiss they shared the day he left.

My thoughts: I like Becca Seymour, I adore this cover, and this looks like a good small-town romance.

LGBTQ+ Giveaway

There’s an LGBTQ+ giveaway happening until Oct. 29, which means there are free books available here. With the exception of two books, the rest of them are of the gay (M/M) variety. Here’s some of the titles that caught my eye.

Always for You

Is it too early for Christmas? If commercialism in America has taught me anything, the answer is never. And this works regardless, since it’s a ‘Christmas in July’ story. All I really needed to know anyway was there’s a dog and it’s by Becca Seymour.

From the blurb: Join the residents of Kirkby for celebrations, romance, and just a little mayhem. It’s the perfect chance to get to know outgoing and loveable bar owner Ted, and his grumbly younger husbutt, Jason.

Kissing the Lizard

As I’m getting elements of horror from this novella, maybe the tagline is supposed to be scary? I thought it was hilarious, and it’s what grabbed my interest. Of course, maybe that’s intentional too as this is supposed to be a dark comedy. Also, I have never heard the description ‘creepy coming-of-age’ story before and I love it.

From the blurb: When Jamie meets Matthew in Soho, he’s drawn to his new-age charms. But when he follows his new friend across the planet to a remote earth-ship in Taos, bizarre incidents begin unfolding and Matthew’s real nature reveals itself

Cosmic Tea

The cover is simple and pretty, and I like the space part at the top, which I didn’t notice at first. And as the tagline explains, this is a “Coffee shop romance in space. Because everything’s better in space.” I find that very hard to argue with. If I did want to argue for some reason, the other part that wins me over is “a series of shorts following two dumbasses in space and their relationship.”

From the blurb: Doran Scott keeps things light. It’s the only way of dealing with the things he’s seen serving in the military — and the tragic past that led him to sign up in the first place. When Doran’s ship lands on Iulia after a skirmish and he walks into Doug’s, there are immediate sparks, but they both know this can only be a one-night stand. Right?

Books and carnival food, but not at the same time?

Does anything go better with sunny days and carefree summers than a carnival? Probably, but I thought that line sounded good. And because my mind immediately goes to food, my first thought when thinking ‘carnival’ is cotton candy, funnel cake, and cheese fries, so now I’m hungry.

I’m not sure all carnivals serve cheese fries, but I have probably ordered cheese fries at every carnival where it was thing one could order. Salty fries with unnaturally orange cheese is one of the top things I look for, along with Dippin’ Dots. Do you remember Dippin’ Dots? Obviously, I remember them and I love them. Ice cream of the future, you are delicious as you are hard to find.

Hey so, I’m participating in a few book giveaways this month, one of which is called the Carnival Book Fair, which then prompted me to ramble about carnival food. There’s some titles available here, and more here where there’s also a raffle for a $25 dollar Amazon giftcard.

This giveaway offers titles in a variety of genres from contemporary romance to thrillers, fantasy, and paranormal. Most of the titles are gen or straight, but I hear some people like that kind of thing.

Awkward turtle. Do people still say that?

Ryan Miller and Luke Chambers do everything they do in the most terrible and awkward ways, including, well, you know… it.

Doing it.

IT!

You understand. That’s enough.

SEX! Sex was the it in that case. In case you weren’t aware.

One Little Change features Ryan and Luke navigating intimacy and a long distance relationship. Here are some outtakes involving Ryan’s feelings about all of this.

Ryan

First experiences were always weird. Right? Right. I think so. Especially if I was involved. Things would only get better! I had to remember that. Just, it was difficult. Since this was the last memory before I left.

I didn’t want to worry but freaking out and jumping to conclusions was my natural state. I had so much experience with it and much less with being calm and not panicking. This was why we had a plan. It might suck but we could get through it. Who knew that would apply to our first time?

No, don’t think about that. Just, the plan was for me leaving. Oh god. I was already leaving but at least I had been leaving on a high note. Except now. I was leaving on a not high note. An awkward note.  It might suck but we can get through it. We can handle it. I hoped that was still true.

I was the rightest person to ever right and everyone should always listen to me because I could do no wrong, but my powers were too great. The common folk feared my gifts and never heeded my advice. Too bad. Cause see, I told Luke we should freak out first. So we could get it out of the way. Granted, that was about me leaving, not about—

We definitely should have freaked out beforehand. Because I was so going to freak out now.

Luke is totally not afraid of horses.

Here’s some fiction about people riding horses. Literally, not in a euphemism way. Should I make that sound more exciting? Here’s some fiction about people riding horses!

Nailed it.

Again, not in a dirty way.

This is a scene I didn’t end up using from One Little Change. I took out anything other than vague references to the plot, so this isn’t spoilery and you also don’t need to know anything about the characters.

Enjoy! (Or don’t, you do you.)

Luke

This was the awkwardest experience ever. Happening right now. Around me. Under me. That sounded weird. I was on a horse. It was awkward.

Maybe it wasn’t that weird… it was just also really weird.

“Slow down,” I suggested to Lydia while tightening my arms around her waist.

“You are such a baby.” Swore she sped up while she said that.

“There’s a branch up ahead!” I warned.

“Stop backseat horse riding!”

We were at the camp where Alicia worked, picking up my little sister Lily. Camp was over for her group, but there were still counselors around and they’d soon be getting ready for the next batch of kids. No one seemed to care or question us when we went to the stables and checked out the horses, all the employees too excited for the downtime between cycles, so I followed Lily and Alicia’s leads.

Lily decided we were going to go riding, which I didn’t really know how to do, but she seemed comfortable getting the horses ready.

While Ryan and I patching things up was good for my heart and mind and soul and everything, maybe it was good for my body too. The Millers didn’t even have horses yet, and Ryan and I were in no way married, but my little sister Lily was acting like their imaginary horses were as good as hers.

Our family didn’t have a barn of our own, and the ranch I worked on had different livestock, so I’d never ridden. Maybe a few times at the fair when I was a kid and then horses seemed girly. Why? Yeah, girls liked horses. Sometimes to a scary degree. But the animals were giant and they had strength and what about them was girly, and even if it was, what about that was girly in a bad way?

I told the girls they could ride and I would just wait for them, maybe go back to my car. And now somehow I was behind Lydia on a horse.

The horse Lily rode had a chestnut coat, was obviously named Chestnut, and was fast, as she charged ahead and lost us pretty much immediately on the path.

Alicia’s tan horse, Blondie, they didn’t dig too hard for names, looked like it had the ability to catch up or at least get close to Lily’s horse even though it moved at a slower pace to accommodate me and my steed.

My horse was named Button and had a white coat with grey spots. No idea if its coat was always like that or that just happened when a horse was, like, 90 years old. If he tried to go as fast as Chestnut, he would probably die.

I liked Button. He was an old guy that was just doing his best.

While I probably wasn’t in any danger, I clung onto Lydia for dear life.

“Just be careful,” I told or reminded her.

“Stop telling me what to do.”

“I will if you be careful.”

“I’ve done this before.”

Yeah and so had Button, 900 times, and I think he’s had enough. It’s a big job carrying two people.

~

(Abridged) 20 Questions

This is an excerpt from my YA M/M romance called Like You a Latte.

Owen sat up straight in his chair and met my gaze with a forceful look. Oh boy, I prepared for a doozy. Something deep and philosophical maybe. Or something incredibly invasive and personal. He took a breath and then asked, “Glass half empty or full?”

At the very least, I was expecting some stoner paradox. I saw a 4/20 pin on his apron one day. If Chuck Norris can beat everyone, could he beat Chuck Norris? I didn’t know whether this was an improvement on that question or not.  “Do you want more time to think of a question?” I asked him.

“I’m the one asking now,” he told me primly. “Kindly answer.”

There was probably a mathematical equation to figure it out. Find the circumference of the glass and then- “I’d have to see the glass,” I told him once I spent a few seconds pondering it.

Owen nodded. “Chicken or egg?” he asked next.

I blinked at him. “Which is my preference?”

“Which came first?” he clarified. There wasn’t a way to win this game the way we were playing it, but he was definitely losing. And it was his choice to go easy on me and not ask anything personal but that didn’t mean I had to do the same.

The chicken or the egg. Just as trivial as glass half empty or half full. Simple at least. “Scientifically—”

“Journey or destination?” He cut me off to ask.

“I didn’t get to answer the second question fully,” I protested.

“Trust me,” his tone sounded drier than the blueberry muffins on sale today, which wasn’t hard because they were very moist, but his tone was still pretty dry. “That one word was enough.”

“And you wasted your questions.” And again, not that this was a competition, but if it were, I would so totally be winning. I was going to kick his ass with my questions.

“No, I’m getting a pretty good idea of how you see the world.” He held up his hands in a frame shape as his eyes skated over me, like he was getting the full Spencer Sharp picture.

“Those questions told you something you didn’t already know?” If so, I might have to question my evaluation of his intellect.

“I’m confirming my hypothesis,” he said with a smirk. “Isn’t that something you smarty pants types care about?”

I suppose. Him saying hypothesis was mildly arousing. I shook it off. My turn to question him. “What’s your least favorite subject in school?” His favorite was English. Was he a thoroughly right brained person and hated math or did he have a proficiency but not interest in the numbers and sciences?

“No, you didn’t answer my last one yet. Journey or destination?” He rested a hand on his chin and looked at me expectantly, like he was dying to know the answer.

Oh, well that was simple. “Destination, obviously.” The journey was the necessary steps you had to take in order to complete your goals. An equation. A formality. The instructions. Or the recipe. But the point wasn’t about how to make a pie, it was about eating the pie.

Owen rolled his eyes but smiled as he said, “Obviously.”

I understood as I wanted to roll my eyes too as I said, “And you disagree obviously.”

While I still maintained his questions were stupid, this was fun and lighthearted, exactly what I needed. Maybe that was why he didn’t ask anything difficult. He was good at reading people. He had that thing I used to think was made up, but I’ve since come to terms with me just not having it, emotional intelligence.

“You never told me your least favorite subject,” I said.

“Spanish,” he answered.

Hmm, that was another right brained discipline. Fascinating. “Interesting,” I mused.

“I don’t like the teacher,” he elaborated.

“Fair enough.” I thought about another question. “Hogwarts house?” I could be whimsical sometimes.

“Okay, I’m happy to answer but maybe not now.” He waved a hand. “That’s a whole thing. A big discussion. We’ll have to devote a different night to it.” He looked excited about it. Him taking the house he’d be sorted into so seriously was a little silly… I should find it a little silly. It was actually kinda hot. And I liked when he made references to seeing me in the future. The small hints that he liked having me around and wanted me to stay in his life.

“I’ll defer that question for a later date,” I concluded formally, feeling a smile form on my face when he snorted at my tone.

“One more.” His eyes danced with something I couldn’t make out in the low lighting. The hazel depths just seemed warm, happy, and I couldn’t tell if there were any flecks of green there, but I liked the hint of something a little mischievous and challenging in his gaze. “Make it good,” he challenged or encouraged.

Whichever it was, it worked. “Last boyfriend?” I asked. I had done a very good job with this friendly/flirty dance we’d been doing, considering I didn’t usually do this. I usually knew what I wanted and what I was getting. And now the perfect opportunity presented itself where I could test the waters. I couldn’t resist.

And the waters were… murky.

Owen blinked and his mouth dropped open like I surprised him. “Oh, uh.” He fidgeted and laughed awkwardly. His fingers twitched on the table and he looked down, not knowing what to say.

Shit. What if he had a bad breakup? I probably would have reacted the same way if put on the spot about Lucas and I didn’t know if I’d share. While it wasn’t a school course, Lucas and my last relationship were definitely my least favorite subject. “Sorry, you don’t have to answer if—”

“No, it’s fine.” It didn’t seem entirely fine. He met my eyes and gave me a weak smile. “I just. I’m not really the boyfriend type,” he said quietly.

“Oh.” I guess that made sense. He didn’t make a lot of plans for the future, he didn’t seem like the type to be tied down. I couldn’t quite process my feelings about his admission. I should have suspected as much. Still. Having it said was something else. I regretted asking this question.

“I mean,” he amended. “I haven’t been, in the past.” He still looked a little nervous, but there was a gentle, hesitant smile on his face. Was he afraid of how I’d react?

I didn’t regret asking this question. “So, you’re saying—” I started to ask and then trailed off. He might be open to it with the right person? I tried to make my posture open, to seem nonjudgmental. I didn’t want to scare him off.

“I’m saying that I don’t know.” He shrugged, looked down at the table. Good because I couldn’t hide a wince. That didn’t sound very optimistic. “It’s not that I’m opposed,” he continued. “I just haven’t been in a serious relationship. I’m usually more casual.”

So, like the opposite of me. I already knew that. I probably needed to say something.

He spoke again before I could formulate a response. “But remember, I’m the one of us who likes trying new things.”  The gentle smile was back on his face, hopeful. Oh. And that, that definitely sounded optimistic to me.

I didn’t know if I should smile back, maybe I should just be neutral and supportive, but that hopeful look made my insides all soft and warm and I had to smile at him. “Yeah,” I said lightly but with a bright smile on my face. “I guess you are.”

The book is available here.