Christmasvaganza: Sunday Review


Lately, I’ve been feeling in the mood for something historical. I had a period in my life back in the day, when all I read was historical (M/F) romances and I adored them. These days, I prefer contemporary, but every now and then longing for gentlemen and historical settings flare up in my chest and I want to indulge.

And when I hosted Ruby Moone’s release blitz last week, I found what I was looking for. So here’s my review of The Mistletoe Kiss.


c7781-coverWidowed bookseller Lawrence Fenton has spent a lonely lifetime hiding who he is. He has convinced himself his feelings for his far too young, gorgeous, but troubled assistant Christy Shaw are nothing more than pride in his protégé and concern for his plight.

Christy’s life involves walking fine lines: one between his mother and his abusive stepfather, one where he must keep his needs hidden, and hardest of all, one where he must keep his feelings for his serious employer to himself.

Lame since birth, Lawrence cannot imagine anyone wanting him, least of all Christy. But when Christy’s life threatens to spiral out of control, Lawrence steps in. Then Christy’s emotions spill over into a kiss under the mistletoe at Christmas. Will Lawrence be able to face the long-buried truth about himself and keep Christy by his side?

There’s a special place in my heart for imperfect heroes. I’m not a super fan of the alpha male, the gruff main character with chiseled abs who likes to pin his man to the wall and have his way with him. I much prefer the normal guy. The flawed guy who manages to steal my heart just by being awesome. Just like Lawrence. Mr. Fenton. He was born with a physical deformity of his hip and leg, and he thinks it makes him unlovable. He’s spent a long time all alone, hiding behind a gruff exterior, and it’s not until Christy comes into his life that it changes.

Christy is a fabulous character full of joy and creativity despite the conditions of his life. His mother is remarried to a drunken idiot, who uses his fists on both Mother and son and takes almost all the money Christy earns in the bookstore and buys booze with it. Christy’s life changed for the better that day when he stepped into Mr. Fenton’s bookstore.

I want to visit that bookstore. I want to sink down into the old chairs (that Christy restored) in front of the fire, and drink a cup of tea and eat one of Christy’s slightly charred biscuits. I want to browse the books and have a conversation with Mrs. Anderton. The bookstore is fabulous and I can imagine it so clearly.

“Spending his days amongst books was his idea of absolute heaven.”

Lawrence and Christy’s story is slow burn, but full of emotion. Both characters are amazing, and I love seeing them be there for each other from the start, even when neither of them knew if the other was gay or not. And maybe that’s why I adore this book so much: I’m a big fan of the small, thoughtful ways to show your love. Like how Christy leaps up the ladders that are difficult for Lawrence because of his hip. Or how Lawrence gives Christy coal or firewood to take home to his mother.

“He waited for him to resist, to pull away, demand to know what his game was…but he melted into him, buried his face in Lawrence’s neck, and let out a shuddering sigh that pierced Lawrence’s parched, lonely heart.”


I loved this book. I mean like I want to scream it from the rooftops-loved it and I’m going to make it my life’s mission to force everyone to buy it. Buy this book! It’s an order! Curl up in your favorite reading spot with a cup of tea (or hot chocolate!) and immerse yourself in Lawrence and Christy’s love story. It’s glorious and you won’t be sorry.

This is definitely a five Christmas tree-read and it ended up on my feelgood, re-read shelf…and I went and bought most of Ruby Moone’s other books at JMS Books 😀





Weekends means Rainbow Snippets-time here on the blog, since I’ve joined the Rainbow Snippets group on Facebook. According to their description, “it’s a group for LGBTQ+ authors, readers, and bloggers to gather once a week to share six sentences from a work of fiction—a WIP or a finished work of even 6-sentence book recommendation (no spoilers please!).”

Don’t forget to like my page on Facebook or follow me on Twitter. I’d also be happy to become friends on Facebook if you’d like 😁


I’m continuing the snippeting from my third Christmas story, called Unexpected Christmas, and today is release day. YAAAAAAAY, happy release day to me!!

Here are the previous snippets if you need to catch up: 1 | 2

It was far closer than the town, but I didn’t want to face my idiot Uncle Bob again, or any of the others that had just turned their heads away as he spewed his hatred on me while the radio played jolly Christmas songs in the background. I didn’t know what made me angrier: his hateful words, or my cousins’ feeble avoidance. I’d expected more from them.

Mom had avoided confrontation as usual, but I hadn’t expected anything else. We’d argued about it lots of times, but she didn’t have it in her. Once, I’d even watched her throw up when she’d tried standing up for us, and I didn’t pressure her about it anymore.


Unexpected Christmas by Nell IrisAll alone, caught in a blizzard—without a coat—on Christmas Day. Would you accept a ride from a huge guy looking like a serial killer?

Daniel Erickson stormed out of his family celebration after choking on his turkey served with a side of bigotry. Utterly miserable, he reluctantly lets himself be charmed by the hulk of a man and gets into his car…hoping he won’t be ax murdered.

Axel Wilson—Ax for short, unfortunately—is a sweetheart. Really. He may be badass-looking but his heart melts into goo at the mere mention of his four-year-old niece. Surely, he’s not dangerous?

Thrown together by family drama, they spend the evening getting to know each other. Axel is nothing like Daniel expected. But it doesn’t matter that he loves poetry, is gentle and patient—and hot!—Daniel is absolutely not falling in love at first sight. There’s no such thing.


Order Unexpected Christmas here now! It’s cute and fun and you won’t regret it.

Christmasvaganza: #SuperShort


All I Want For Christmas

I couldn’t take my eyes off him. He looked so…relaxed. His shoulders weren’t up by his ears like they usually were. He smiled all the time, flashing his adorable dimple, and whenever he looked at me his eyes sparkled with love, causing my stomach to flutter.

But best of all: he never let go of my hand.

We wandered down the sidewalk without a care in the world, all our troubles left behind. They would be there waiting for us when we got back home, but here— hundreds of miles from disapproving families—we could ignore them.

I squeezed his hand and he shot me a blinding smile, brighter than the sun that beat down on our heads. “I’m so happy I talked you into this trip,” I said and nudged his side.

“Me too.” He stopped and pulled me closer. When I was within reach, he leaned in and ghosted his lips against mine. Right there. In the middle of the street where anyone could see.

Electricity buzzed through my body and I had to lock my knees so I wouldn’t melt into a puddle. When he pulled back, I panted like we’d made out for hours instead of just brushed our mouths together. My heart hammered in my chest and my wide grin almost split my face in two.

He giggled and we resumed walking. We were on our way to the beach to find a restaurant. Neither of us mentioning that today was the last day of our trip, that we had to go back north tomorrow. Back to the stress that was bound to kick into high gear this last week before Christmas, with presents to buy, food to cook, and still hope we’d have enough time to get into the holiday spirit, even though we would spend it apart. Neither of us had said anything about how hard it would be to go back to hiding our relationship after a long weekend of glorious freedom.

I forced the morose thoughts from my mind, determined to enjoy this evening with him.

So, I did. We talked and laughed and ate our dinner, even though I couldn’t remember what I’d put in my mouth later. I focused on touching him every chance I got. Kicked off my sandal and let my naked foot caress his sun-warm calf. Took his hand that rested on the table and laced our fingers together, brushing my thumb over his soft skin. Licked my lips until he couldn’t resist leaning over and kiss me, and the look in his eyes told me he knew exactly what I was up to, but he indulged me anyway.

When the dinner was eaten, the dessert devoured, and we were on our second bottle of wine, he sighed. It was a deep, troubled sound and it settled uneasily between us. He looked away, eyes trained far in the distance at the sun disappearing into the ocean, and his face turned wistful.

“I wish…” he mumbled.

I lifted our joined hands and placed a tender kiss on each knuckle. “What do you wish, love?”

“I wish we could live like this all the time.”

His words pierced my heart. So did I. We’d been together for over three years and I could easily imagine forever with him. But his Catholic parents didn’t know about him and if they found out they wouldn’t approve. He would probably lose them. And his job in the conservative private school where he worked, too. They had a clause about immoral behavior written into the employment contract, and homosexuality was one of the things deemed unacceptable. If people found out about us, his entire life would be turned upside down. Destroyed.

I could never ask that of him. Sometimes, when loneliness and frustration got to me, I wondered if I’d be better off with someone else. Someone who was out. But just the thought of not ever seeing him again made me want to throw up. Picturing my life without him was impossible.

So, I put on a brave face and hoped my smile at least looked happy. “It’ll all work out in the end,” I said—like I always did—and emphasized my words with a squeeze of his hand. I had no idea how, but it would have to. Somehow.

He nodded, but the relief he usually displayed after an exchange like that never came. Instead, his eyelids fluttered closed. He opened and shut his mouth several times as if he wanted to say something but lacked the courage. His grip on my hand tightened and after several minutes of silence, he whispered, “I we could be open, would you want to live with me then? Like a…real couple?”

“Oh, Joe.” I reached for him, grabbed his chin and turned his face toward me. I waited patiently until he opened his eyes and looked at me. “Don’t you know I’d marry you in a heartbeat if you let me?”

Tears welled up in his beautiful hazel eyes. “You would?” he asked with a trembling lower lip.

I swept my thumb over it. Caught a tear that broke free and rolled down his cheek. “I would.”

“I…” His eyes searched my face and he blinked away the tears. “I think I knew that.” He scooted his chair closer to mine and rested his head on my shoulder. I slid my arm around him and hugged him close, rubbing my beard against his temple.

“I have enough savings to last me for maybe a year,” he continued and laid his hand on my leg, absently playing with the hair that dusted my thigh. “Or longer, if you’re serious. If we moved in together it would cut the expenses considerably.”

My heart jumped up my throat. “What are you saying?” I squeaked.

“I could probably get a new job before the money runs out anyway,” he said as if he hadn’t heard me.


“I’d need to quit my job immediately. Everything would be worse if I didn’t tell them and they found out.” His warm hand caressed my thigh and he behaved like he wasn’t turning my entire existence upside down.

Was he saying what I thought he was saying? “Joseph!”

He tilted his head back and looked up at me. “Yes?”

“What…what are you talking about?”

“I’m saying I’m moving in with you. Your place is nicer than mine. But I’m not marrying you until you ask properly.”

My head spun, and my breathing stuttered. “But…your family?”

He twisted on his chair until he faced me and cupped my cheeks with tender fingers, threading them through my beard. “After these last few days…I can’t go back to the way it was before. I’m not saying it will be easy. But I’m saying I’m choosing you.”

“You mean it?” I leaned my forehead against his, and something blossomed in my chest. Filled me with a blinding light of happiness.

“I do.”

I kissed him. Slid my hand around his neck and pressed my mouth hard against his. Again and again, I kissed him as if my life depended on it until my lips ached. Finally, I pulled away and looked into his eyes. His pupils were blown and his gaze unfocused and he’d never been more beautiful. “Are you really, really sure?”

He nodded and pressed his lips to mine. “I’m really—” kiss, “really—” kiss, “really sure.” Another kiss. “Now take me back to the hotel and make love to me.”

I did.


Inspirational image found on Instagram

Christmasvaganza: Special Guest Addison Albright


Please help me welcome my dear friend Addison Albright to the blog today. She’s answered my holiday questions and she also has a very special treat for you: a flash fiction story based on three prompts I gave my guests. If they wanted, I asked them to choose one of the prompts and write a flash fiction story, but since Addison is amazing, she incorporated all three of them! It features her regular flash fiction characters Harrison and Mason and their adorable kid Jaxon.

Seriously, guys, I laughed out loud when I read it. Especially the ending. It’s fantastic.

Thank you for this gem, Addison. I really appreciate your generosity and I’m happy my readers get a chance to read this fun story. ❤️


Which one of your characters would make the worst Santa and why?
I’d have to go with Sam Miller-Greene from ’Til Death Do Us Part. I suppose he’d do a great job pretending to be Santa, but I don’t see him wanting to deceive Buddy/Aiden into believing the Santa myth. I picture Sam and Henry explaining the stories to Aiden then encouraging his imagination as they play along without actually trying to deceive him.

Partly it would go against Sam’s nature to do otherwise, but also, how would they explain why Santa never visited Aiden on the island all those years? I can’t see inquisitive Aiden buying into it anyway, so better to be upfront with him in the first place.

What is the worst gift you ever received and why?
When we were kids, one year my mother wrapped up a large Christmas candy item and put it in our stockings. My sisters and brother each got a huge chocolate Santa. I got a humongous candy cane (“because I know how much you love candy canes!”). Except I hate candy canes. I love chocolate. A big part of the disappointment wasn’t that I didn’t get the candy I would have preferred, but that I couldn’t understand how she could have not known that.

What’s the worst thing about Christmas?
The political BS that often accompanies the holiday season these days. If people want to keep their own celebrations focused on the religious aspect of it, go for it. Doesn’t bother me in the least.

But if other people want to celebrate the holiday with their families in a more secular fashion and/or acknowledge that many are celebrating religious holidays other than Christmas (“Happy Holidays!”), they should be free to do that without people blathering on about a phony “war on Christmas” or insisting that their way is the only acceptable way to celebrate. Let everybody make merry however they want.

Would you rather
– give presents or get presents? – Give

– have a white Christmas or no snow? – Depends. I grew up in upstate New York. We always had a white Christmas, and I loved that. But, they’re geared for that there, and people could still get around to their family celebrations even if there’d been a recent snow (although I suppose it sucked to be on the road crew). Where I live now in the Midwest, it takes longer for the roads to be cleared, and it’s often icier, too. It’s more difficult/dangerous to get around, so I prefer not. Maybe it’s partly a kid vs. adult mindset, but I think the regional weather and what that part of the country is set up to handle is a legit factor in my opinion. In a nutshell, I guess I like the ambiance of snow on the ground, but only if the roads are clear and safe.

– have a full on celebration with family or curl up alone with a good book and a hot beverage? – I’m an introvert, but I still like the occasional big family gathering…especially around holidays. I get enough of the curling up alone with a good book and hot beverage thing the rest of the year.

– have a real or a fake tree? – I’m going to give another wishy-washy answer. I live alone now and have a small pre-lit fake tree that is so small I don’t even have to piece it together. I love the convenience. That being said, I love a real tree as long as I’m only visiting it in someone else’s home, and I don’t have to deal with maintaining it, cleaning up the needles, or disposing of it after the holiday.

– stay in your PJs or dress up? ­– PJs for the win!

What’s your favorite Christmas
– candy –  Terry’s Chocolate Orange. I don’t know if it’s strictly a holiday treat, but I don’t remember seeing it in stores other than around that time, and that’s the only time of year I get them.

– songManheim Steamroller’s Carol of the Bells

– movie – It’s close, but I think I’ll have to go with It’s a Wonderful Life over A Christmas Story. But it might depend on the day I happen to be asked (or which one I’ve seen more recently)—I waver back and forth.

– tradition – Christmas stockings.

– food – Hmm, I’m not much of a foodie. I’ll go with the traditional roast turkey.


Write a holiday themed flash fiction using either of these lines:

– I’m Santa. I don’t need a condom; I have a stocking.
– Rudolph the red nosed rabbit
– Holiday-schmoliday

(Told from Harrison’s 3rd-person POV. And additionally she’s used three prompt words I left on her blog a few weeks back: listless, uninspired, tired.)

“He actually said that?” Harrison asked.

Mason nodded, but his grin said he wasn’t concerned Jaxon was turning into a pint-sized scrooge. More like he was amused by what their son had said. Certainly “holiday-schmoliday,” wasn’t an expression they’d typically expect out of Jaxon—or at least the bah-humbug sentiment usually associated with the words wasn’t. Yeah, most likely he’d just thought it was a fun sounding word.

Now the boy was happily decorating holiday themed sugar cookies with Gramps in the kitchen. The two were surrounded by bowls of gaily colored frosting and every sort of decorative sprinkle marketing whizzes could conceive. The stacks of cookies on wire cooling racks were steadily converting from naked to flamboyantly adorned.

Harrison shrugged. “Well, if it was a mood, it looks like he’s over it.” He approached the table. “These look great!”

He picked up a vaguely stocking-shaped cookie that had pink frosting underneath a fortune in white nonpareils in alternating stripes with cinnamon red-hots. He rubbed his stomach and took an enormous bite.

Mason picked up an avocado-colored Elf and chomped off his head. “What’s the story behind the green Santa?” He directed a wink at Harrison. He knew—he was just winding them up.

Gramps hooted. “That’s not Santa Claus!”

“Help me,” Jaxon wailed, channeling The Grinch. “I’m…I’m…feeling!”

“Hmm.” Mason brow raised in mock surprise. “feeling…listless?”

At Jaxon’s giggle, Gramps added, “Uninspired?” Then affected a massive gasp and sat back in his chair. “The horror! Tell me it ain’t so!”

Laughing, Harrison picked up a spare spreading knife and snagged the final unadorned cookie: a reindeer with mutant blobs for antlers. He went with basic white frosting and covered it in blue sugar sprinkles. He added a cinnamon red-hot at the nose and a glop of chocolate frosting at the…uh…rear.

When he placed it on the rack, Gramps chortled. Jaxon guffawed and sang, “Rudolph the red-nosed rabbit…” He pinched his nose. “Had a very stinky butt!”

“Speaking of stinky butts,” Mason said. “You need a quick bath before heading to bed.”

“But I’m not even tired.” Jaxon’s jaw-cracking yawn told the real story. He got up and muttered a defeated, “Nuts.”

Harrison ruffled his hair. “At least you haven’t been roped into cleanup duty.”

Jaxon’s eyes widened as he took in the debris field that might or might not have a kitchen table buried somewhere underneath it. “I’m sooo sleepy…” He raised his arms in front of him as he staggered toward the door. “I might even be sleepwalking.”

“You’re off-duty, too.” Mason leaned down to kiss his grandfather’s weathered brow. “Thank you for handling the decorating.”

“Wasn’t a chore at all.” Gramps stifled a yawn of his own. “As you well know.”

After Gramps shuffled toward the bedrooms, Mason eyed the table. “Yikes.”

“Worth it, though.” Harrison handed him a couple clean cookie sheets and a tube of waxed paper. “You want to layer the cookies on these while I start the cleanup?”

It didn’t end up taking all that long to get it done. Before Harrison knew it, he had Jaxon tucked into bed, had made sure Gramps was comfortably settled for the night, and found Mason in their en suite bathroom, filling the large spa tub.

“Perfect.” Harrison added some lavender scented bubble bath. He squatted and swished a hand through the warm water then took a deep breath of the relaxing fragrance. “Just what the doctor ordered.”

“No. Just what Santa ordered.”

Harrison executed a double-take then laughed and shook his head.

“What in the world?” In less than a minute, Mason had managed to strip, put on a Santa hat, and hang a stocking from his—

I’m Santa.” Mason double-flashed his eyebrows. “I don’t need a condom; I have a stocking.

Harrison snickered and scooped up a handful of bubbles. He deftly daubed the suds along Mason’s jaw.

“There.” He added a lingering kiss as Mason’s hands glided up his back. “Now you’re a proper Santa.”



Addison Albright is a writer living in the middle of the USA. Her stories are gay (sometimes erotic) romance in contemporary settings. Her education includes a BS in Education with a major in mathematics and a minor in chemistry. Addison loves spending time with her family, reading, popcorn, boating, french fries, “open window weather,” cats, math, and anything chocolate. She loves to read pretty much anything and everything, anytime and anywhere.

Addison is the author of…


  • Cultivating Love
  • Vows 1 – ’Til Death Do Us Part
  • Vows 2 – From This Day Forward
  • Vows 3 – To Love and To Cherish
  • Snapshots, a collection of short stories
  • Dream On (book 1) – Closets Are for Clothes (Coming in Feb., 2018 to JMS Books, LLC)

You can find more flash fiction featuring Harrison and Mason on Addison’s website, here:

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Christmasvaganza: Swedish Holiday traditions



Today’s Swedish Holiday tradition is Lucia. Lucia is celebrated on this date, December 13, and is probably the most Christmassy of traditions except for the actual Christmas.

Lucia is an ancient mythical figure with an abiding role as a bearer of light in the dark Swedish winters. The first recorded appearance of a white-clad Lucia was in 1764 but the custom did not become universally popular in Swedish society until the 1900s.

These days we’re celebrating with a candle lit procession with girls and boys in white full-length gowns singing traditional songs, choir style. It’s celebrated everywhere in Sweden, in daycare centers, schools, churches, offices, and homes for the elderly. Every town (more or less) elect their own Lucia, but we also have and official one for Sweden and that particular procession is filmed and showed on state television early in the morning. Young children as well as grownups can be Lucia.

Just to give you an idea of how big of a deal it is for us: On December 10th the Nobel Prize is awarded every year in Stockholm, and all the laureates are treated to a Lucia procession from our national Lucia. Parents around the country attend events in their kids’ schools and daycare centers. Even at work you’re allowed a couple of minutes away from your desk to watch the procession. As an expat, I can attend Lucia events at the embassy.

Lucia wears candles in her hair and she’s accompanied by several maidens holding candles in their hands and “star boys” who except for the robe wear a cone-shaped hat decorated with golden stars on their heads. When kids are in the procession they can also be dressed as Santa’s Elves or Gingerbread men. And with kids you can also have several Lucias, but for grown ups there’s only one. The Lucia doesn’t need to sing, but the rest of them are required to.

It might be easier to understand if you watch a clip? Here’s the entrance procession from the official celebration 2010 in a church in Stockholm. It’s 2,5 minutes or so. Oh, and the boys with cones on their heads are star boys, NOT members of the KKK 🙂

Translation of the first verse of the song to English:

The night treads heavily
around yards and dwellings
In places unreached by sun,
the shadows brood
Into our dark house she comes,
bearing lighted candles,
Saint Lucia, Saint Lucia.

TL;DR: check out this Lucia For Dummies video 🙂

One dollar? ONE DOLLAR??


Wohooo, today you can buy my book Cinnamon Eyes from my publisher JMS Books for less than a dollar! Ninety-nine cents!! That’s a steal guys! If you haven’t read it yet, now’s the time to buy it.

But only today, so hurry over and clickety-click the link.

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Praise for Cinnamon Eyes:

Jules at The Novel Approach gave it 4 out of 5 stars

“Cinnamon Eyes is full of emotion, and features two main characters whose love absolutely jumps off the page. Friends-to-lovers stories are my jam, so I’m picky about them, but this one was well-done and heart-warming.”

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Melanie M at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words gave it 4,5 out of 5 stars

“The author’s writing is smooth, her storytelling is wildly romantic while still being real, and the ending is everything you will want it to be.”

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Kirsty at Joyfully Jay gave it 5 out of 5 stars

“I was particularly impressed by Nell Iris’ understanding of Cory’s depression. I am a firm believer of characters’ experiences being a close to real life as possible and as someone who has struggled with depression for much of my life, I could really identify with Cory. From the outset of the story, Iris makes her reader conscious of the fact that Cory’s positive mood is not a lasting one and that his recovery journey is not complete. I think it is really important that Iris recognizes that individuals attempting to get well have different ways of coping when their emotions become overwhelming.”

“Cinnamon Eyes is a romance that will melt readers’ hearts, without being saccharin sweet because of the real-life issues that Iris handles with such sensitivity. This may be the first book I have read by Iris, but it won’t be the last! A full five-star recommendation.”

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NeRdyWYRM at Gay Book Reviews gave it 4 out of 5 stars

“I think Nell Iris may have succeeded in accomplishing something I once thought was impossible. This read has reversed my usual (and usually complete) loathing for short stories.”

“The connection between these two sweethearts was epic.”

Blog tour: Memory of Me by Jess Thomas



Book Title: Memory of Me (The Chronicles of Darius #12)
Author: Jess Thomas
Publisher: Self-Published
Cover Artist: Jess Thomas
Release Date: November 8th 2017
Genre: Gay Romance
Length: 101,506 words/353 Kindle pages


Darius thought he could make it through anything, he was strong and had an inner strength that could pull him through the various trials of his life. However, his strength is going to be put to the ultimate test. Will he be able to cope when he realizes the weapon of destruction could actually be the one thing he lives for? Sometimes the greatest love is the greatest pain.
For the first time, everyone understands the prophecy told so long ago that Darius would be the end of the everything. The loss of white energy would destroy not only him but those he loved and the places he protected.

An ominous journey to beyond the here and now with two of the greatest powers of the universe is the only way to begin to right what has gone so sorely wrong.

Join Darius in his latest and most important adventure. The fate of so many not only depends on righting so many wrongs, but on understanding and forgiveness.

Memory of Me will thrill and excite you with its heart-rending story.



Buy Links ~ Available on Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US
Amazon UK
Goodreads Link

Continue reading “Blog tour: Memory of Me by Jess Thomas”