And I didn’t expect it to, if I’m being bluntly honest. But I did get a call from Houston this morning and my heart leapt into my throat until I saw the words SCAM LIKELY on the screen. Damn you for getting my hopes up, scammers. Congratulations to all the RITA and Golden Heart finalists, and best of luck!
Anyway, I’ve been quiet here lately and I’m sorry about that. It’s been a combination of problematic health due to allergies, trying to get various projects done and out the door, trying to get my office set up so that I can write up there (long story short — I prefer to write on my laptop, but there’s no comfortable place to do that in my office. After ten years of living in this house I have finally rectified that by consolidating all the printers and computer equipment onto one shelving unit and moving my wing recliner into my office), and general ennui. Oh, also, the climate is going to hell, US politics are a dumpster fire, UK politics aren’t much better, and I wish my ovaries would just die already.
So there’s that. But spring is officially here, I’m close to finishing the massive rewrite of Grading the Curve (oh, man, that needed work and way more backstory) and getting that re-released, and then I can get back to work on King of Blades, Uncertainty Principle, and the still untitled romcom (I’m trying to come up with an amusing marriage-related pun, but nothing has worked so far). If that wasn’t enoigh to keep me busy, I’ll also be signing books at the Home Run Author Event this Saturday in the Jack Daniels Club in Globe Life Park in Arlington, TX. VIP tickets are already sold out, but tickets will still be available at the door for $20 and parking is free.
Also, I’ve been busy creating graphics for the various book series, which I’m making available on mugs, t-shirts, and stickers because 1) it’s cool and 2) everyone needs a Trickster Tech t-shirt. So in addition to the Olympic Cove merch I now have the Trickster Technologies company logo/tag line, the Mayhew Plants and Nursery company logo/tag line, and I have an idea for a very cool graphic for the ship/AI from Two to Tango (which will be renamed Stealing Dmitri when I get the rights back this summer). What can I say — it’s fun for me to come up with logos for imaginary companies.
And now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to work, tra la…
I know this doesn’t look like much to you because we don’t have Tastagram yet (Chrissy Teigen, could you get started on that, please?) but this is rosemary and honey ice cream. It is the bomb. I would send a container to you all if I could, because it’s guaranteed to clear up your blemishes, teach your kids math, and make your sex life great.
And in response to people who wanted the recipe, here you go (it’s modified from this amazing thyme and honey ice cream recipe):
- the peel of one lemon (yellow part only)
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 1 cup whole milk
- 10-12 inches of fresh rosemary (this can be in parts)
- 2 large eggs
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Cut off ends of lemon, use spoon to scoop out pulp down to inside of peel. Cut into eight slices.
- Add lemon, heavy whipping cream, milk, and rosemary pieces to medium saucepan, bring to boil. Remove from heat. Cover and let steep 2 hours.
- Once the cream mixture has finished steeping, add honey to cream mixture. Simmer over medium heat until honey dissolves.
- Whisk eggs and sugar in medium bowl. Gradually whisk cream mixture into egg mixture (DO THIS SLOWLY, otherwise the hot cream mixture will cook the eggs and turn them into scrambled egg. This is called “curdling” if you’ve watched GBBO and wondered what that was).
- Return cream and egg mixture (aka the custard) to original pan. Stir over medium heat until custard thickens enough to coat spoon. If you’re using a candy thermometer, it should read 170°F to 175°F, about 4 minutes (do not boil).
- Strain custard into clean bowl and whisk in vanilla.
- Cover and chill until cold, at least 3 hours and up to 1 day.
- Process custard in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to freezer-safe container, cover, and freeze until firm. Optional: add sprig of rosemary to top of ice cream for added scent/flavor.
I am a lucky writer because I have my own office in my home. Since we moved into this house my office has been where I work on graphic art, website design, and jewelry. It is not, however, where I work on my writing because I prefer to write on my laptop and the office is not structured for me to be able to do that (it’s a long, complicated story involving weird ergonomics, bad eyesight, my office being the place where we plug into our internet, and me having a day job when we first moved in here).
Anyhoo, for about a year now I’ve had a plan to reorganize the office so that I could write in there. This would involve shifting our printers and routers onto one shelving unit (at the moment they’re on separate stands at opposite corners of the room. Don’t ask), allowing me to move other furniture around and open up a space next to the window. I could then stick the wing chair-cum-recliner that’s currently in the library in that space, giving me 1) an ergonomically comfortable place to sit and write 2) in my office, which 3) has a door that I could close when I need some peace and freaking quiet from the J Crew. (Also, we now have a 3-D printer which apparently is going to live in the breakfast nook/cat dining area. Since that is about five feet from where I’m currently sitting, it behooves me to find another place to write.)
The Issue — in order to move things around and do some very necessary vacuuming/dusting before I set up the heavy duty shelving unit that would hold the printers/servers et al, I would have to disconnect the internet router for about an hour. Ramón works from home, and then he spends the rest of his time online so, yeah, this was problematic. BUT — he has a regular D&D game every couple of weeks where he’s out of the house for six hours or so. The next game was tonight, so as soon as he headed off to slay orcs and bicker with his friends over loot I headed out to pick up everything I would need for Operation: Help Nic Write.
First stop — Office Depot, for a storage box that would match one I already have in my office and would hold all the paper, forms, and other detritus we have for the printers (you would not believe some of the weird forms we have). Next up was Home Depot, where I wandered around for a good half hour because I knew damn well they had an HDX Decorative Wire Chrome Heavy Duty Shelving Unit, but none of the clerks seemed to know where it was if it wasn’t in Aisle 7 with the rest of the closet organizing stuff. Turns out it was at the back of the store where they keep all the storage boxes and other metal shelving units, so if you ever need a bad boy that can hold over 3,000 lbs worth of stuff, check there first.
On a side note, it’s 70 pounds. Getting it into the car was a joy. I wound up “walking” the box from the car to the door, which I’m sure amused the neighbors.
Next up, World Market for the lumbar pillows I would need to make the wing chair comfy again. I’ve been working in the living room since December because the wing chair was starting to make my legs ache and the arm chair and footstool in here are perfect for a lap desk and my laptop. But it’s the living room, aka a public area, and it’s right next to the open plan kitchen — quite apart from the cats regularly slugging it out for my attention and the whole “let’s put the 3-D printer in the breakfast nook” thing, the living room is not really the best place for me to work seeing as someone else in this house also works from home and likes to watch anime while he eats lunch. Which he is perfectly entitled to, because I have my own freaking office where I SHOULD be working.
The last two stops were Pet Supplies Plus for wet food before the J Crew devoured us in our sleep, and Kroger so that we ourselves could have something to nosh on tonight and tomorrow. By the time I got back to the house I was already tired from all the walking around I’d been doing, so I took a break to load books into my new store at Eden Books (more on that in another blog post, but they’re a new online vendor for romance and women’s fiction and look to fill the gap that the implosion of All Romance eBooks left) before girding my loins and getting to work. I knew I had one absolutely mandatory task tonight — I HAD to get the shelving unit upstairs and put together as well as all the computer stuff reconnected before Ramón got home from the game, because he has to do a cut at 6 AM tomorrow morning.
I’m not going to go into the nitty gritty details — suffice it to say that there was much cursing and sweating, as well as dealing with a certain orange cat who lives to sprawl directly in my path while I’m carrying stuff. But the shelving unit is up, all the printer/computer stuff has been transferred there, I successfully reconnected everything, I now have a BUTTLOAD more storage space in my office, and Ramón is thrilled because the stand that used to hold the printers is the perfect size to hold the 3-D printer and he won’t have to hunt around for something else. Mind you, my office is still a torn-apart wreck because I haven’t finished moving furniture around to open up that gap for the chair, I desperately need to dust and vacuum everything, my body is currently cursing at me in fluent Sumerian for humping heavy stuff up and down the stairs multiple times, and I’m drenched in sweat and desperately need a shower before I turn in. But I can already tell that this is going to be very good for my productivity.
Assuming I can still move in the morning. Whee…
Here’s a look into how an author’s mind works when it comes to coming up with covers for indie publications. As you know, Bob, I wrote Grading the Curve back in 2013. It was my first MF romance, and if I’m brutally frank it shows. I also had a few issues with the original cover, so I came up with the graphic on the left for use in ads and other promo. While the models weren’t a perfect match, I felt they represented Alex and Ellen a bit better than my cover (e.g. an impoverished scholarship student working multiple jobs would not have a spray tan and a French manicure. Just sayin’).
Fast forward to 2018, and I got the rights for Grading back. I immediate set into gutting the story and rewriting it because hoo boy it needed it, and in my spare time I played around with turning the 2013 ad graphic into a new cover. One eensy problem — while I still liked the female model, the male model I used had turned into the 21st Century Fabio. He’s absolutely everywhere, on everything from romance novels to HIV test kits (I’m serious). We’re talking ridiculously ubiquitous. Plus he didn’t really look like Alex, whom I described as looking like Daniel Craig if you shoved a big stick up his ass. Call me fussy, but I like having my models bear at least a faint resemblance to the characters in the books, and since I do my own covers I can call the shots.
So off I went to Deposit Photos to start searching for a new male model. Luckily my Google fu lends itself to coming up with good search terms so it only took me an hour until I hit the jackpot on the gentleman at right. Not only does he look far more like my cranky, sexy English professor than 21st Century Fabio, but he also was in the right position for me to do a composite with the female model’s pic (in an aside, I love photographers who use blank backgrounds with their subjects. They make my life so much easier). After much tweaking, shading, adding of effects and whatnot, I’m happy with the final result for Belaurient Press’s edition of Grading the Curve. Now I just have to finish editing the story–
Well, no, let’s be honest — I’m gutting and rewriting the story using the skills I’ve picked up in the last five years. It’s gone from 15K words to approximately 30K words, with far more backstory for both Alex and Ellen and some new characters such as Alex’s English department colleague Amar, who is trying to get Alex to let go of his guilt over his late wife’s death. Personally, I like Amar — he’s like a Sikh Jiminy Cricket, a good friend who’s more than willing to call Alex on his bullshit but still wants to see him happy. I’ve also relocated them to my favorite imaginary college Lake Michigan University, which allows me to use Hyde Park as a setting and puts GtC in the same setting as my shirt story “Tied with a Bow.” Because I like meta stuff like that.
Welcome to another edition of Marvelous Monday Reads, darlings! Today I’m featuring H.K. Carlton and her delicious new re-release If You Can’t Handle the Heat, now available from Amazon and other purveyors of fine online romance. Take it away, H.K.!
Thank you for inviting me to your blog today. I’m doubly excited to share not only the re-launch of, If You Can’t Handle the Heat, but this re-release is also my first self-publishing venture.
This story was previously published with the title If You Can’t Stand the Heat. Though there is a little bit of added content, the story remains relatively the same.
In this erotic story, two very different professionals are brought together as celebrity judges on a reality-based cooking show. Sesto Théodore—the celeb chef that the show is built around—meets walking cliché, Syn Fully, erotic novelist. Though there is an immediate conflict in personalities, there is also an instant sizzling attraction. A classic clash and burn.
An unlikely couple is brought together as celebrity judges on a new reality-based cooking show.
Sesto Théodore, is an arrogant yet well respected American-Italian chef, with several five-star restaurants.
Once bitten, twice shy, Syn Fully, is a jaded author of erotica, rocketing her way up all the best sellers lists.
From the moment Syn and Sesto meet, their personalities clash, yet behind the scenes sparks fly. Getting together would be a recipe for disaster, but hot sex with no-strings couldn’t hurt. At least not until real feelings get involved.
But just when Syn considers opening her damaged heart to the cocky chef, video of rather personal content is leaked online. Sesto immediately jumps to conclusions and accuses Syn of the privacy breach.
Can the arrogant chef forgive and forget, or will his pride leave him out in the cold?
Somebody’s about to get burned…
Possible Triggers: Please note one scene contains borderline bdsm and dubious consent/forcible confinement. Also in this story intimate video is obtained without the knowledge or consent of the participants involved, and later distributed online
Author’s Note: This erotic story has been previously published with the title, If You Can’t Stand the Heat. Though there is a little bit of added content, the story remains relatively the same. It has been re-edited and re-formatted for re-release, and has a sizzling new cover thanks to Studioenp.
Sesto took the opportunity to turn his wrath on Syn. “May I speak to you out in the hall, please!” he demanded, shooting to his feet.
“Of course,” she responded, haughtily, as though she hadn’t just been giving him the initial stages of a hand job under the table.
Sesto allowed Syn to take the lead. He was momentarily captivated by her long shapely legs, as she stalked across the space, confident and oh-so fuckin’ sexy in those red stilettos. Sesto pulled level with her and couldn’t resist the urge to place his hand to the small of her back, left bare by the severe cut of her dress. If he wasn’t mistaken, she’d trembled at the contact. Or was it his hand that quivered?
In the corridor, Syn rounded on him, at the same moment he blurted, “What the fuck do you think…”
The words died on his tongue, as she once again stroked his shaft through his trousers. Her gaze settled on his mouth. Her breathing was shallow.
“Where’s your dressing room?” she asked, backing him up.
Sesto grabbed her other wrist and dragged her into the green room, before slamming the door behind them.
He yanked her hand, above her head and forced it against the door. He half-expected her to fight. What he wasn’t prepared for was the brazen little smile that hooked her sinful lips, as she raised her arm to join the other. With both hands stretched above her head Syn arched toward him, thrusting her beautiful tits, right in his face.
“What the fuck are you doing?” he asked again. “We don’t even know each other.”
“I know. Isn’t it wicked, how our bodies want to though.”
He groaned, shifting uncomfortably foot to foot, yet he couldn’t focus on anything but her lovely breasts.
“Go ahead, Théo, set them free,” she tempted, her voice barely above a whisper.
Where to Buy
About the Author
H K Carlton is a multi-genre Canadian author of romance, with over thirty titles in publication. From naughty to nice, historical to contemporary, time travel to space travel, and everything in between.
Variety is creativity’s playground—It’s where you’ll find me. Join me for the ride:
TGIF! Let’s kick off the weekend with Maia Dylan’s hot new paranormal romance His To Protect (An Alpha’s Claim 2). Take it away, Maia!
Thank you for hosting me for His to Protect – An Alpha’s Claim, 2. This book released in November with Evernight Publishing. If your readers would like to they can post questions to me on Twitter tag me using @MaiaDylanAuthor and I will answer them as I see them.
Kaea Hemopo was a man on a mission. He planned to kill the bastard who killed his grandmother, and nothing was going to stop him. He had the man lined up in his sights, his finger on the trigger, and was prepared to die to get it done, but then Kaea found out that he was following the wrong man.
Xavier Mulligan had been stalking his own prey the night he met his mate. He’d been shocked to discover that Kaea was not only there to kill him, but thought he was the asshole who’d murdered his own father. Xavier would just have to make his mate see him for what he was, and accept his very nature. How hard could that be?
Can Kaea and Xavier find a way to work together to avenge those who were taken from them, and retrieve that which was stolen from Kaea’s family, or will Xavier’s need for control be the one thing that could tear them both apart?
Kaea moved a little beneath him, and Xavier had to bite back a groan as his hips nestled a little closer to his.
“Do you—wait, am I naked?” Kaea asked incredulously, and Xavier couldn’t hold back a grin.
“That you are, my lovely. You were damp and dirty from being out in the forest and trying to kill me. I couldn’t very well pop you into bed like that, now could I?”
Kaea frowned as he leaned slightly to the side and looked at Xavier lying on top of him. “And you’re naked because…”
“I was in the shower.” Xavier shrugged. “Again, not somewhere where clothes are necessarily all that helpful. I came out of the bathroom when you woke up. Didn’t have time to go throw any clothes on.”
Kaea nodded, and a delicious red heat swept over the dark skin of his cheeks. “That makes sense, but you could let me go, get up and throw some clothes on now that I no longer want to hurt you, right?”
“But I like it where I am. Do I gotta?” Xavier had never pouted in his life, but he tried in this moment just to have fun with his mate.
Kaea’s laughter was quick and genuine, and had Xavier’s heart doing strange somersaults inside him. “Yes, you do. Come on, it’s very distracting having you lying on top of me.”
Xavier grinned, and knew it was just as wicked as he felt. “I love that you find me distracting, love, because the feeling is most definitely mutual.” Kaea’s eyes darkened, and Xavier knew he liked that particular revelation. “But, you’re right. I’m hungry, and healing this gunshot wound I seemed to have acquired recently has taken a lot of energy.”
Xavier pushed up from the bed, and grinned when he watched Kaea’s gaze wander down his abdomen, but shot back to the puckered scar of the wound on his shoulder. “Crap. Did I apologize for shooting you?”
Xavier resettled the towel around his hips. “No, you did not, and that was very remiss of you. I’ll expect you to make that up to me very soon. Repeatedly.”
Kaea’s soft laughter followed him as he stepped toward the back of the room where he’d put his bag. He grabbed a pair of sweats and pulled them on under the towel, then dropped it to the floor. He turned back toward the bed and laughed himself when he saw Kaea up on his elbows as if to get a better view.
“See something you might like, love?”
Kaea grinned at him, and Xavier could have sworn he felt his heart stutter in his chest. “Maybe, but I’m not a man who gives all his secrets away when he’s just met a man. I prefer a slow build up to a quick flash that’s over too damn soon.” Xavier scowled. “What’s put that look on your face?”
“I don’t like to think of you with other men.” Xavier heard the possessiveness in his own tone, but wouldn’t apologize for it. He was a dominant Alpha bear, and one who did not play well with others. Kaea needed to know and understand that. “I don’t share. You’re mine.”
Kaea arched a sardonic brow in his direction, and it irritated and aroused him at the same time. “Yours?” Xavier could practically feel the temperature in the room fall. “I don’t remember ever being asked if I’d be yours, or even if I wanted you. You presume too much.”
Xavier growled, his anger rising within him. “It’s not a presumption when I could feel your fucking arousal just as sure as you could feel mine, Kaea.”
Where to Buy
About the Author
Mother, wife, author, and all around crazy…
I write the kind of books that I love to read. Love stories between strong men and their independent soulmates. Usually, their path to Happily Ever After is a bumpy one, but there is always a Happy Ever After.
In the world’s I create there is someone (or two, or three) for everyone! Love comes in many forms and I believe it is all beautiful and should be celebrated!
I live, love and write in New Zealand, married to my husband of fifteen years with two beautiful children who I truly believe were sent as a blessing, but sometimes to try my patience, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Happy Wednesday, darlings! Today I’m here with Elodie Parkes and her hot new M/M romance Snowflake Wine, now available from Encompass Ink and other online sellers. Take it away, Elodie!
Thank you for inviting me to your blog with new release, MM romance, Snowflake Wine.
The story is contemporary gay romance with an edge of fantasy, especially written as a sweet but sexy Christmas treat.
Jamie Snow and Nathan Bloom, my characters are as usual, dear to me.
Jamie has battled all his life with his strange, fantastic gift. His is the character that brings the element of fantasy to the story. The inspiration behind the creation of this character came, weirdly enough, in the summer, when I visited a ruined abbey. In the grounds were flowering shrubs that I’d never encountered before. From a distance, the flowers looked like frost, and as I drew close, into my mind came the idea of Jamie, a sprite who loves cold, ice, frost, and to comfort himself in the warm weather, he decorated the shrubs with frost flowers.
Nathan Bloom is the perfect partner for Jamie—gorgeous, calm, loving and open. He’s looking for love. He’s onto Jamie’s gifts long before he lets Jamie know it. This is a love story—romantic, sexy, hopeful.
Hunky Nathan Bloom works late for the company putting up the town Christmas lights and decorations.
Gorgeous, enigmatic, Jamie Snow works late forecasting the weather from his desk in the meteorology office.
Nathan sighs over the prospect of a holiday season with no one to love.
Jamie wonders if he’ll ever find a man to love who will accept his mysterious origins and talents.
One cold night, as Nathan finishes hoisting the wreath lights up the building where Jamie works, they meet.
The brilliant festive lights aren’t the only things to sparkle as the two men connect on a deep level.
Be delighted by a delicious, contemporary, gay romance with an edge of fantasy this season.
Sometimes being different is awesome.
Jamie Snow sat alongside Nathan. He glanced across at the man who stirred his frosty heart. He’s so attractive. Jamie hadn’t loved in a long time. He felt more than ready for it—longed for it on lonely nights. He wasn’t about to give up on the chance that this man might want a lover, that he was gay wasn’t in question. No straight guy looked the way he had at another man.
“My name’s Jamie, Jamie Snow.” He softened his voice as he spoke. The man beside him inspired tenderness and he felt a little prick of guilt. Using the weather to flirt with him had been inspired but maybe a little naughty.
Nathan drove the truck into a wide car lot that Jamie hadn’t known existed behind the furniture store on the end of the main street. “Here we are. The store allows us to leave the bigger rigs here every year. Jamie Snow—that’s an interesting name for a meteorologist—mine’s Nathan Bloom.”
Jamie’s smile infused his tone. “Yes. People tease me sometimes at work, they’ll know we’ve forecast it and as I walk by they’ll say, ‘here comes the snow,’ but I don’t mind. I like this name.”
“You’ve had others?” Nathan asked with a laugh.
Jamie didn’t want to reply. He waited. I won’t be lying to this lovely guy if I don’t answer.
Nathan turned off the truck engine and twisted to talk to Jamie. “It’s a cool name. Where do you live?”
It appeared he’d forgotten his question.
Happiness trickled into Jamie’s soul that the attractive man beside him liked his name, and used the word, cool. Eagerly, Jamie told Nathan his address on the outskirts of the town.
Nathan grinned, his eyes reflecting Jamie’s emotion. “I know it well. I live a couple of streets south from there.”
Where to Buy
About the Author
I’m a writer who is in love with happy endings, currently based in southern UK. I write for Evernight Publishing, Siren, Hot Ink Press, Encompass Ink, and eXtasy Books.
I love music, art, flowers, trees, the ocean. I work with antiques by day and words by night. Like a vampire, darkness is my friend, that’s when the silence is only broken by an occasional hoot of owls in the woodlands opposite my home, and I write.
Welcome to another edition of Marvelous Monday Reads, darlings! Today I’m featuring London Saint James and her delicious new romance Destiny Happened, now available from LSJ Romance and other purveyors of fine online romance. Take it away, London!
Of course, I noticed Mr. Shirtless. With a bod like his, who wouldn’t? But his hot-factor didn’t matter. What did? My asshat ex and the need to make him jealous. So, I strolled up to the panty-melting stranger as though I knew him and laid one on him, hoping said asshat would see I’d moved on just fine without him. Only, he never saw me kissing another man.
I spotted her—honey-blonde hair gleaming in the sun as she came my way. I’d flirt. Smile. Maybe get her number. I sure the hell didn’t expect her to toss her arms around my neck, mashing her body against mine, and kiss the ever-loving shit out of me. Then, she stopped. Stepped back. Blushed. Whispered “Sorry” and blended into the crowd. I never got her name that day. Or her number. However, fate had other plans and Destiny happened…again.
Pops quickly flipped a line of sizzling sausages with his heavy-duty tongs as I carried an oversized cooler past him. “Those better be more brats for the grill since these babies are sellin’ out fast.”
“I wouldn’t leave you hanging, old man,” I said, sliding the container next to the boxes I’d placed under the canopy a few minutes earlier.
He bobbed his head. “Know it.”
There was affection and perhaps a little pride in my papaw’s tone.
“I’ve got another couple of coolers to bring over, so we should have enough brats to get us through the rest of the day.”
While having a food booth at Oktoberfest was an annual money-raising activity, allowing us to give a nice sum to a local charity—as well as excellent advertisement for Caldwell Trucking and Repair—hauling stuff to and from our venue and fighting the traffic and crowds wasn’t my favorite thing.
Glancing around I asked, “Where’s Joe?”
“He called a little while ago. He should be here any minute now.”
“You actually answered your cell phone? I’m impressed.”
Pops flipped another bratwurst. “Don’t give me shit, boy.”
“Just happy to see you giving in.” I chuckled. “It’s about time you moved out of the stone age.”
“Yeah, well,” he grumbled, “I miss the good old days when a person wasn’t reachable twenty-four-seven. When my ass isn’t planted in my office chair, then I’m out. No one gets the concept of being away and unavailable anymore. I don’t need to be interrupted all the time.”
I couldn’t help but grin at his usual rage against the machine. Everyone knew if Pops was out of the trucking office, odds were good, speaking to him probably wasn’t happening.
“How about Cray?” I asked.
“Haven’t heard from him.”
“That asshole better not pull another no show. It’s his turn to do clean up.” With a shoulder lift, I swiped sweat from my face onto my damp, gray t-shirt.
I’d much rather work fifteen-hour days at the shop—which, let’s be honest, I did often so I could catch up on the paperwork end—than to deal with the daily vendor set up and nightly clean up.
“You know your brother, Kash.”
Shit… I’d be doing my younger brother’s job later because Crayten would do what he always did—leave me high and dry.
“Yeah, Pops, I do.”
We were only two days into this four-day event, and I wasn’t happy. Adding to my piss poor mood was the damn heat. It might have been October, but it was still hot as hell and even hotter standing behind our commercial-sized stainless steel grill where I would eventually be to give Pops a break. But come on. Four days of organized chaos and three-hundred-thousand festival goers could drive a man to drink. Although, on a positive note, I didn’t have far to go if I wanted to tie one on. The entrance to the beer garden was only a few feet away.
“Hey.” Joe strolled up, man bun in place—hipstered out in his skinny pants, a blue shirt with red suspenders, and a big goofy smile on his bearded face. “Did you catch those bar wenches?”
We did our standard fist bump greeting. “I’ve been too busy hauling shit to notice anyone.”
“Joe”—Pops motioned with his tongs—“I’ll never understand why you want to do that crap to your poor ears.”
That was Pops for you. His grousing way of greeting one of our best mechanics while at the same time giving the guy crap about the shiny black plugs protruding through his lobes.
Joe tugged on his right ear good-naturedly. “All the ladies love my accoutrements.”
“Accoutrements is it?” My papaw snorted. “Fancy.”
“Pops, stop busting Joe’s balls,” I said.
“All right, all right,” he rasped. “Glad you’re here, J.”
“Thanks, Mr. Caldwell. I’m happy to help,” Joe said—humor in his tone. He glanced back at me. “Still have stuff in your truck?”
“I’ll give you a hand.”
I reached over my shoulder and yanked my shirt up, tugging it up and off my head. “Appreciated. Just give me a sec.”
Balling the cotton material, I swiped the driest section over my sweaty chest and stomach, glad I’d thought to toss a couple of clean t-shirts with our shop logo onto the passenger seat of my pickup that morning. I’d need to put on a fresh one.
A section of the milling crowd parted, and a few whistles snagged my attention. No. The whistles weren’t directed at me. They were for some dark-haired woman who was tossing her hands in the air and shaking her ass.
I’ll admit, she was attractive in a Jennifer Garner kind of way. But the woman next to her, shaking her head and smiling—long, honey-blonde hair gleaming in the sun—was a fucking knockout. A knockout who looked my way. A knockout who stared at me, then glanced past me—eyes narrowing—her porcelain-doll face going serious as she started in my direction.
Maybe it was the way she held herself. The biting of her luscious bottom lip. The gentle sway of those shapely hips. Or maybe it was the hip-hugging jeans and white, scoop-neck, long-sleeved tee showing off all her curves that did it. But she had this combination good-girl-next-door with a hint of wild-in-the-sack vixen vibe going on.
Filthy images of what I could do to muss her up raced through my head at supersonic speed.
I was ready to give her my best smile. Flirt a little. Maybe get her phone number. And I was just about to do all of that when without hesitation she stepped up to me, popped up on her tiptoes, tossed her arms around my neck, pressed those soft, full tits into my hard chest and smashed her plush, pink lips against mine.
All right. I’d had my fair share of women hit on me, and do that shit hard, but a woman literally throwing herself against me and taking charge without so much as a hello? Well, that was a first. When it came to the fairer sex, I took the lead. Regardless, though, I wasn’t stopping her. In fact, screw introductions. I didn’t need any.
Groaning, my right hand grabbed the back of her neck—fingers tangling into the strands of her silky hair. My other hand, still holding my wet shirt, went to her ass and pulled her even tighter into me.
She made a little mew of sound which turned into a throaty moan—her smaller frame melting into me as I plunged my tongue into her mouth, tasting an explosion of cool mint and womanly desire.
Yeah. I was full-on frenching someone I didn’t know—deep penetration style—while in front of Pops, Joe, and the entire swell of weekenders at Oktoberfest.
Obviously, I didn’t care.
Both my brain and body agreed. It was time to get down and dirty. This became apparent when all the blood I possessed rushed to my dick, and I ground myself into her pelvis. It didn’t matter where we were. It didn’t matter the woman in my arms was a stranger. Nothing in the world did but the feel, smell, and taste of her.
I needed more. More touching, tasting…just more.
Awareness seeped into my ‘need woman now’ mindset when she let go of me and pressed a palm to my bare shoulder, attempting to push me away.
Definitely get her number became the thought overtaking me as she stopped our rigorous game of tonsil hockey and stepped back, breaking my hold.
Staring down into the most exquisite pair of navy-blue eyes, I was struck mute. That was new as well. I’d never before been tongue-tied over a woman. Not only was I silent, but it also seemed I lost my ability to move.
Part of me understood I probably looked like a complete dumbfuck, standing there in front of our booth with a raging hard-on, shirtless, and goddamned speechless, but I just couldn’t pull my gaze from her.
A rosy hue started at her chest, crawled up her neck, and swept across her cheeks. She placed her fingertips on her kiss-swollen lips, whispered “Sorry,” spun around, and took off like the devil and all his minions were on her trail.
Her leaving so abruptly snapped me out of my stupor, and all my faculties crashed back in place with a jolt to my system. Rebooting me.
“Hey! Wait!” I called out, reaching. “Don’t go. What’s your name?”
All I caught was thin air and a peek of her shoulder as she blended into the crowd.
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About the Author
London Saint James has lived in many places but never felt ‘at home’ until she met the real-life man of her dreams and settled down in the beautiful Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. London lives with her husband and their fat cat who thinks he owns them.
As an award-winning, international bestselling author, London is living her childhood dream. She knew all the scribbling she did, that big imagination of hers, and all those clamoring characters running around in her head would pay off someday.
A complete list of London’s books can be found on her website http://www.londonsaintjames.com. You can also e-mail London with any questions or comments at London@londonsaintjames.com. She loves to hear from her readers.
Would you like to know more? Join her mailing list for her monthly newsletter http://eepurl.com/6P2on. Or, join her book group on Facebook, Slip Between the Pages with London https://www.facebook.com/groups/SlipBetweenthePageswithLondon/
Woohoo, I’m kicking off 2019 with a double re-release! My first publications in January will be two novelettes I originally wrote for Evernight Publishing back in 2013; the rights reverted back to me in 2018, and I’m currently in the process of re-editing them and putting them together for release with Belaurient Press.
The first story, A Boon by Moonlight, is my “boy meets Sidhe/boy asks Sidhe for boon/Sidhe asks for night in boy’s bed” piece. This one has a special place in my heart because I dearly want to go out drinking with these two (Zach could be our designated driver, and Jerrek would throw back vodka like it was water and provide running snarky commentary on everyone else in the bar. It would be great). The re-release will also include the unpublished short story “Snow Day” featuring Zach and Jerrek housebound antics during a polar vortex, so there’s some added value there. It should be out on 1/15 so if you’ve never read this one before you can pick it up then.
And may I just say that I’m freaking in love with this new cover? It screams M/M fantasy romance to me (I still can’t believe I’m writing fantasy romance, but my God it’s fun). Finding the stock image of the model in fantasy garb was a real gift, and the other model works with him extremely well. I may do a couple more tweaks to the image before release day, but what you see here is primarily the finished product.
Oh, funny but true story about the cover — I sent it to a couple of writer friends for feedback. One of them writes SF/fantasy and said, “This is for a fantasy romance story? Because the woman on the right looks like a Vulcan.” I had to explain about Jerrek, after which she said, “Ohhh. In that case, it looks great.” *grin*
The other re-release is Grading the Curve, my “hot for teacher” novelette. Whereas I can get Boon out next week, Curve won’t be out for another two weeks because 1) hoo boy, I learned a lot about characterization and backstory in the last five years, which means 2) this 13K novelette is about to become a 30K novella as I gleefully apply both the Editorial Machete and the Storytelling Spackling Knife with a freaking vengeance (seriously, I re-read the original MSS and was deeply grateful that it sank without a trace. It’s not horrible, mind you, but it was clear I had no idea how to write a good, solid MF romance at that time).
The eagle-eyed among you may have noted the extra name on this cover and want to know who the heck Natasha Stark is. Well, she’s me — as of 2019 I’m using that nom de plume for all of my contemporary romances (and yes, there will be more of them — I’ve got at least four romcoms in mind), and this is my way of introducing her. It’s mainly for marketing purposes, since there doesn’t seem to be a great deal of overlap between contemporary romance readers and SF/fantasy/PN romance readers. I want to make it easy for people to find (and ideally buy) what they want to read, so SF, fantasy, or paranormal romance readers can stick with Nicola’s books, and contemporary romance readers can focus on Natasha’s books.
Oh, God. I’m going to have to set up a totally separate website/social media presence at some point for Natasha, aren’t I? I need a drink…
Meanwhile I’m also working on King of Blades (Two Thrones 4) and Natasha’s next romcom, tentatively titled Screen Kiss, so those should be out in March or so. So many books to write, so little time…
No, I’m not going to pass along any tips for making your life better in 2019. You’re perfect the way you are, and besides, those tend to be somewhat condescending. Nope, I am just kinda croggled at the way I’m starting off 2019.
For one thing, there’s a reason why I went dark in December. I was frigging exhausted from finishing Iron Cross and getting it out to Romancelandia, and after taking a crack at a holiday romance (which I will finish for next year) I decided, “Screw it. I’m tired, my brain hurts, and I need a break. I’m taking the rest of the year off.” So I did, and man, that was a good choice. Not only did I recharge my creative side by diving into various non-writing projects that have been hanging around for years waiting for me to get to them, but I also drank the Kool-aid and joined the Great British Baking Show cult. I absently stumbled across S2E1 on Netflix, and by the end of it I was frantically scoping out the rest of them and launching into a bingewatch of epic proportions.
By the time I watched all five seasons, the Beginnings eps, the holiday shows and all the masterclass eps, I had made jam tarts, mince pies, fruitcakes, Italian Christmas cookies (at right), spinach puffs, Cherry Blossom Kisses, Winter Kisses, Paul Hollywood’s Christmas Leftover Chelsea buns (upper left), and had bought a dizzying array of bakeware. I now own pie weights, I’ll have you know. Plus I have my eye on a rolling pin with attachments that lets you control the height of the dough you’re rolling out, and I’m probably going to make runzas/bierocks this weekend by special request of Ramón, who has pointed out that having little savory things that he can grab between meals would be a very nice change from having to grab chocolate or cookies.
Other shows I binged were The Expanse (holy God, that was good), Altered Carbon, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Forever, and various comedy shows that had been recommended to me over 2018, and while I watched them I worked on this absolutely gorgeous hue shift knitted afghan. It’s extremely cool, using mitered corner squares with alternating stripes, and seeing as I bought the kit two years ago it’s nice that I’m finally putting it together. When I wasn’t baking, watching Netflix, or working on the afghan, I read, caught up on bills, played with the kitties (Jessie and Jeremy are losing some much-needed weight thanks to the new food regime the vet suggested at their checkup in early December and Jessie’s back to being able to jump up on counters and tables), cleaned (I actually cleaned my oven and my freezer fold-out bins. Somewhere, my mother is astounded), and decorated the house for Christmas.
But what was most notable was that I pretty much stayed off social media because I wasn’t on the laptop for hours at a time. I’d check FB and Twitter a few times a day, but I didn’t spend nearly as much time as I usually did on it. And that was a good thing because I soon realized I felt much more relaxed and centered without constantly being thrown into rage cycles by the endless political idiocy making the rounds on SM. So one thing I’m going to do in 2019 is continue that habit — I’ll check in on Twitter and Instagram for business purposes, but I’m seriously going to curtail my FB time. Not only do I not like their business practices of scraping every piece of data they can get about me and selling it to companies, but I’m just happier when I’m not on FB.
One final and very major change in 2018 was me starting on CBD oil. I have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and PCOS, which not only screw with my metabolism and make it hard to lose weight but also encourage inflammation. At this point in my life I inflame at a harsh word, and for the last couple of years it’s been affecting my ability to walk because both of my Achilles bursae swelled up to painful proportions, making it difficult to flex my feet and balance. The tipping point was December 20 — my good knee had gotten strained while I was in bed, of all places, and hurt like hell, my bad knee was, well, my bad knee, and I was literally hobbling around like an arthritic 90-year-old. Worse, NSAIDs weren’t really working anymore and I was getting very little sleep because I was hurting all the time.
I’ve had CBD oil recommended to me by friends with similar issues who had incredibly good results with it, so I did some research and found the Cherry Apothecary in Oak Cliff. I hobbled in, had a consult with a very nice young man who listened to my pain issues and suggested that I try sublingual tinctures. After some more discussion I settled on a bottle of 250 mg CBD oil with orange flavor, headed home, took the recommended half dose (he said to start low and slow — apparently the endocannabinoid system in our bodies that is affected by CBD needs time to load the chemical to a level where it will help. You can take more, the man said, but you’ll just pee it out, which is a waste of money and oil), and prayed.
Twenty minutes later, I was able to walk without hobbling. My ankles were flexing, and the pain in both knees was reduced — still there, mind you, but manageable with an NSAID. It felt like a frigging miracle. I now take a half dose of CBD oil in the morning and a half dose at night, and not only do my legs feel better but I also feel calmer, more focused, and I’m sleeping like a top. Best of all, I can see the swelling in both Achilles bursae going down — my left heel is almost back to normal and my right heel (which was horrible) now looks like my left heel at its worst, which is a significant improvement. With walking so much easier, I’ve been able to clean, shop, and move around a lot more than I have been in the last couple of years, and man, that is fantastic. I’m now getting on the treadmill every day, and once I’m over the mild cold I caught from Ramón I’m going back to the gym and starting weightlifting again.
So, yeah, that was a decent personal end to 2018. Right now my goals in 2019 are more walking and weightlifting, completing four novels (King of Blades, Uncertainty Principle, and two romcoms) and three novellas, doing smart promo for myself, continuing to cook and bake more stuff from scratch, working on meditation techniques and yoga, reducing our debt as much as possible, and generally trying to help more people out and enjoy life. Oh, and play with the kitties, because that’s an important part of Casa Cameron.
So, yeah, let’s get started!