Release Blitz

Release blitz and #giveaway: The Short Stories Collection by Louise Lyons

 

Length: 45,000 words approx.
Blurb

A collection of three short stories.

In Darkest Peru
When shy and geeky Rhys White is ditched by his boyfriend of five years, and made redundant from his job in the space of one week, he decides to make some changes. Tired of being boring and hiding being his computer, he throws caution to the winds and buys a plane ticket to Peru.

The adventure in Peru starts out well, but then disaster strikes when the bus he is travelling on is held up by thieves. Rhys loses everything, including his passport, wallet, and phone.

Stranded in Cuzco, not too far from the famous Inca city of Machu Picchu, Rhys tries to find someone to help him. Just when he begins to lose hope, sexy Brazilian, Rafael, comes to his rescue, and his desperation situation takes a turn for the better.

One Snowy Night
After yet another failed date, Keith Brambles’ luck turns from bad to worse, as he tries to drive home in heavy snow and crashes his car. With no phone signal, no warm clothes, and the weather worsening, he fears freezing to death overnight.

But help is at hand in the form of a knight in a white van. Mike Talbot stops to help Keith, and takes him home to warm up—in more ways than one, when the pair’s mutual attraction kicks in.

Mike is everything Keith has ever dreamed of when he thinks of his ideal man. But can Mike really be Keith’s dream come true, or is their night together just another bit of fun?

Lost and Found
When author Philip Johnson loses his much-loved dog, Prince, he buries himself in the fantasy world of his latest novel. But as his heartbreak gradually lessens and he focuses more on the happy times he had with Prince, he realises the hole left in his life needs to be filled with a new puppy.

After responding to an advertisement for a young dog, Philip is surprised to find the owner is none other than Edward Manby, the very good-looking vet who took care of Prince in his last hours. Philip is delighted to discover his attraction to Edward is returned and despite the twenty-year age gap between them, their love for their pets brings them together and leads to romance.

 

Louise Lyons comes from a family of writers. Her mother has a number of poems published in poetry anthologies, her aunt wrote poems for the church, and her grandmother sparked her inspiration with tales of fantasy.

Louise first ventured into writing short stories at the grand old age of eight, mostly about little girls and ponies. She branched into romance in her teens, and MM romance a few years later, but none of her work saw the light of day until she discovered FanFiction in her late twenties. Posting stories based on some of her favourite movies, provoked a surprisingly positive response from readers. This gave Louise the confidence to submit some of her work to publishers, and made her take her writing “hobby” more seriously.

Louise lives in the UK, about an hour north of London, with a mad dog called Casper, and a collection of tropical fish and tarantulas. She works in the insurance industry by day, and spends every spare minute writing. She is a keen horse-rider, and loves to run long-distance. Some of her best writing inspiration comes to her, when her feet are pounding the open road. She often races home afterward, and grabs pen and paper to make notes.

Louise has always been a bit of a tomboy, and one of her other great loves is cars and motorcycles. Her car and bike are her pride and job, and she loves to exhibit the car at shows, and take off for long days out on the bike, with no one for company but herself.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/louiselyonsauthor
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Blog: www.louiselyonsauthor.com
Email: louiselyons013@gmail.com

Giveaway: Louise is giving away a signed paperback copy of her 2015 fantasy/vampire romance novel, The Eye of the Beholder, which is no longer available for sale. Please comment on any of the Release Blitz posts to enter. Available for worldwide shipping.

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Release Blitz

Release blitz and #giveaway: Ibuki by Kathryn Sommerlot

Title:  Ibuki
Author: Kathryn Sommerlot
Publisher:  NineStar Press
Release Date: January 29, 2018
Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex
Pairing: Female/Female
Length: 26000

Genre: Fantasy, LGBT, lesbian, fantasy, cleric/priestess, magic users, abduction, royalty

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Synopsis

Ibuki: the gift of healing through breath. Chiasa has possessed the ability since childhood and shares it with her father as they care for their Inuru community. Chiasa has never doubted the stability of her simple life. That is, until Namika, a water-gifted priestess, shows up outside the Ibuki shrine gates with information promising Chiasa’s doom.

With Namika’s help, Chiasa is determined to find the secrets behind the ritual that will claim her life, but her growing feelings toward the other woman reach beyond her control, adding to the confusion. Time is rapidly running out, and Chiasa can’t seem to sort out the lies woven through the magic of Inuru and its emperor.

Caught in a tangled web of immortality, betrayal, and desire, Chiasa must find the right people to trust if she hopes to stop the ritual—or she will pay the consequences.

Excerpt

When Chiasa first saw the young woman standing outside the shrine, her throat seized in fear around a single thought: the emperor is dead. A moment later, she realized the woman appeared far more nervous than grief-stricken, and she relaxed, only to wonder why a seseragi priestess would be on her doorstep before the sun had fully risen.

The woman was unmistakably one of the water-chosen. Her hands were fidgeting and pressing tiny creases into the telltale blue of her silk robe, its pale folds hanging uneven above her shell-lined sandals, and above the short collar, a silver clip in the shape of an ocean wave held her hair in two overlapping plaits. She glanced down either side of the empty road, shoulders bowed, before starting up the stairs.

Chiasa hung back to observe.

It took the woman a minute or so to climb the steps that led to the small fountain, and with the shrine deserted, her footsteps echoed through the grounds. Her hair seemed to have been hastily done as an afterthought—long strands had come free and hung down her back like splatters of black ink across parchment.

She did manage a jerky half bow when she reached the slotted board holding the wooden ladle, though most of the water she then tried to pour over her hands ended up splashing onto the front of the blue silk, a testament to the shaking in her arms. Chiasa let her continue without interruption until she reached the top of the stairs and clapped her hands together before the silver bell. Any farther, and the seseragi priestess would make her way inside the sanctuary, to where the ibuki power-stone was held, and the thought was unsettling enough to push Chiasa forward.

“If I can help you with something,” Chiasa began, slipping out from her hiding spot between the side of the sanctuary and the hall of worship where she spent many hours praying in solitude.

The young woman started, nearly tripping on the hem of her robe. One hand went to her mouth as she stared far longer than was comfortable, and then she bowed again, the force of the action throwing the loose tendrils of hair over her head.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “I didn’t send word, and…well, I know it’s strange for me to be here, but I must speak with an ibuki priest, please.”

Chiasa took a step back, one corner of the hall’s intersecting wall panels jabbing between her shoulders.

“My father is the head priest, but he’s not here. He’s out with the herbalist to tend the sick. If you wish, I can leave him a message for when he returns—”

“It’s urgent,” the other woman whispered. “Please.”

At a loss, Chiasa looked around the shrine grounds she knew by heart. There was no one else to summon. Her father wouldn’t be back until much later, perhaps even after midnight, and old Isao was seldom of much use anymore, relegated to menial groundskeeping tasks and selling talismans. As the morning breeze broke through the tree line and nipped at the exposed skin of her cheek, she felt acutely alone.

Chiasa tried to imagine what her father might do were he present as the young woman, still bent in an awkward bow, began to shake with the exertion of it. Chiasa, afraid she would topple over entirely, sprang forward and dropped the broom she was holding, the tool clattering noisily across the pathway.

“He’s not here,” Chiasa repeated, though she wanted to help the woman when she was in such a state. “But please don’t panic, I will not send you away. If you’d like, I could make you some tea?”

“Yes,” the woman said. Her hands went to her face, cupping cheeks that were tinged with an uneven smattering of powder. As Chiasa watched, her gaze seemed to get lost in nothing, until she finally blinked and focused once again, settling on Chiasa’s face. Again, there was something sparking in her eyes that Chiasa couldn’t entirely read. The woman lowered her hands and nodded. “Yes, I would appreciate it. I’m sorry to intrude.”

Chiasa thought briefly of disagreeing, but it felt best to avoid lying. Instead, she led the seseragi priestess into the hall of worship and through to the small back room where they kept a low, small table and supplies unrelated to the shrine itself. There was a heavy iron kettle, which was so old that one side of it was slightly lower than the other, making the whole thing lopsided. Chiasa placed it onto the small fire in the center of the room with care and waved the smoke up into the open flume built into the roof’s small, soot-blackened bricks. Her strange guest knelt at the table, smoothing her silks beneath her knees.

“I don’t know when my father will return,” Chiasa apologized as she waited for the water to bubble. The other woman deflated somewhat, her shoulders curving in and over on themselves as she ran a finger over the grain of the table.

“Is there no one else?” she asked. Then, a half second too late, her eyes snapped up, wide and frightened. “I didn’t mean… I meant no offense. I’m sure you are quite capable at the breath—”

Chiasa waved her apology away. “I’m not offended. But I am afraid there is no one else. It’s only my father, myself, and old Isao.”

“Then, your father is part of the emperor’s circle?” the woman asked. The expression on her features changed from nervous to suspicious, and Chiasa couldn’t follow the reasoning behind it. Her guest tapped her fingers against the tabletop as she pursed her lips together, and her gaze shifted away from Chiasa and the teakettle. “Perhaps it was unwise to come here. I thought there were more in the ibuki shrine.”

The kettle whistled its completion, and as she poured the fragrant hibiscus blend, Chiasa frowned, puzzled by the transformation in both the conversation and the woman’s demeanor.

“My father is not advising the emperor today,” she said, again, in case it had been missed, as she handed the other woman the small teacup of hollowed bone. Her guest held the cup between her fingers, but didn’t sip from it. Her gaze seemed lost again, her eyes focused on something far beyond the table and the crackling fire pit, in a place Chiasa could neither see nor touch.

After quite some time, the woman raised her head once more. “My name is Namika. I suppose with your father too close to the source I should not have asked for him at all. You are the youngest within the shrine?”

“Yes,” Chiasa answered, though she regretted doing so in the next heartbeat when the oddness of the question fully registered.

Namika’s brow furrowed as her fingers knit together around the bone cup. “Then I must tell you of my discovery.”

“Discovery?” Chiasa repeated.

“I’m afraid it’s not good news,” Namika said and grimaced. “I was tasked with sorting through our cellar, where many of the old texts and records are kept. The majority of them are simply logs of visitors to the shrine and the actions our priests performed at the emperor’s command. But within the piles, I discovered what seemed to be a set of entries detailing the truth behind the emperor’s longevity.”

“The gods have seen fit to bless him with immortality,” Chiasa said, but she felt suddenly very cold, crossing her arms over her chest and running her hands over her sleeves. The small room seemed to constrict even further around them, squeezing the air from Chiasa’s lungs until she was gasping for it. They should not even be discussing the emperor. They were far too young and unimportant to think they had more wisdom than a man who had been ruling Inuru for nearly three hundred years, and despite their solitude within the shrine, Chiasa got the distinct feeling someone, somewhere, could hear them. The sensation sent toe-curling shivers down her back.

“No,” Namika said. She leaned forward, like she, too, was reacting to the sudden chill permeating the air. “It’s unnatural, his lifespan— He is stealing it, all of it; he is stealing his life.”

“That’s impossible,” Chiasa snapped. “No magic could grant a mortal so much time.”

Namika shook her head and set the cup of tea down, still just as full as when Chiasa had handed it to her. “He is stealing it through blood. He’s drinking blood to absorb the life within it and add it to his own.”

Chiasa stood so suddenly that the table shook, splashing tea across the surface. The scent of steeped flowers and herbs grew even stronger.

“You’re lying,” she said through clenched teeth, hands curled into fists at her side. The flash of indignation that flared up beneath her skin came from a source she couldn’t identify, but she knew from years of practiced obedience that it was necessary. “My father is on the emperor’s circle, and he would never allow such a thing, even if it were possible.”

“But that is why I had to come!” Namika exclaimed. “It’s written in the documents, by the seseragi high priest himself. I swear to you I did not come here with a lie!”

Chiasa wove her hands through her hair, tugging bits of it free from the tortoiseshell clasp holding the twist snug at the nape of her neck. Her father couldn’t possibly be implicated in such a monstrosity—and beyond that, the insult to the emperor weighed like a stone within her gut. The emperor protected them all. The emperor loved them all.

“It’s impossible,” Chiasa said, letting her hands fall back down to her sides. “What blood could possibly grant such—”

“Those with the breath!” Namika cried out and then sat back on her heels, cheeks flushed and pink. As Chiasa stared at her across the table, the unwanted and uninvited woman with the poison-tipped tongue of lies inhaled deeply and then pushed the air back out, slowly, through red lips.

“He is drinking your order,” she said. Her voice was far quieter, filled with something that sounded an awful lot like sympathy. “He is drinking the blood of ibuki priests.”

Purchase

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Meet the Author

Kathryn Sommerlot is a coffee addict and craft beer enthusiast with a detailed zombie apocalypse plan. Originally from the cornfields of the American Midwest, she got her master’s degree and moved across the ocean to become a high school teacher in Japan. When she isn’t wrangling teenage brains into critical thinking, she spends her time writing, crocheting, and hiking with her husband. She enjoys LGBTQ fiction, but she is particularly interested in genre fiction that just happens to have LGBTQ protagonists. You can find Kathryn on her Website.

 

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Release Blitz

Release blitz and #giveaway: Sweethearts by Gemma Gilmore

Title:  Sweethearts
Author: Gemma Gilmore
Publisher:  NineStar Press
Release Date: January 29, 2018
Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex
Pairing: Female/Female
Length: 62600

Genre: Contemporary, LGBT, YA, high school, friends to lovers, alcohol use, visual arts, coming out, teen pregnancy, coming of age, slow burn

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Synopsis

When seventeen-year-old Ingrid Harper realizes she may not have the talent to pursue a scholarship for the most prestigious art school in Australia, she turns to pink hair dye as a distraction.

Her new hair captures the attention of a fellow art student, Kat, who introduces Ingrid to the LGBT clubbing scene, and although Ingrid enjoys partying with her new friend, she becomes caught up in confusion about her sexuality. Her fear is overwhelming—she can’t think about anything else.

Until her best friend, Summer, reveals that she is pregnant.

As her best friend faces the realities of being pregnant at seventeen, Ingrid is shown the true definition of courage. It motivates her to come out about her sexuality—she likes girls. Only girls. Now she just has to work out what that means for the other areas of her life.

Excerpt

Chapter One
I am desperately trying not to attract attention.

My arms are folded across my chest. My chin is tucked into my neck. I am leaning against the brick wall as I watch her sing. It takes every ounce of strength I have to keep my face still, hiding any expression that bubbles to the surface. Any reaction I have to her lilting voice is shoved down, adding to the pit in my stomach.

The younger students are sitting respectfully in their seats. They are still too naive to question the teachers when they are told they must be present. I know better than to think that this school performance is anything special to Amber Freeman. She’s been singing since before she could walk, and although I am always the first viewer, her YouTube videos are gaining more and more popularity with every upload. This is just practice to her. A warm-up.

The spotlights are trained on her, and she throws her hands up whilst the climax of the song cascades from her talented lips. I let my eyes flicker shut and Amber’s voice surrounds me, caressing my ears as she sings deeply. Her voice is crashing through me, tingling across the skin on my arms and seeping through my body, calming me.

My head has fallen back against the wall, and I remain frozen there as I listen to her sing. In this moment, nothing else matters. With my eyes closed, she’s right next to me. Singing softly, untying the knot that’s sunken deep into that pit in the bottom of my stomach.

“Ingrid? What the hell are you doing?” The voice that hisses right next to my ear jerks me out of my daydream.

I jump with shock and wrench my eyes open, tearing myself away from the peaceful moment. In front of me, my best friend Summer stands, her arms folded across her chest and her eyes wide in that you are busted expression.

“Jesus,” I mutter. “I thought you had better things to do than sneak up on people. Way to give me a heart attack.”

“I thought you had better things to do than stand here creepily at the back of the gym listening to Amber sing,” Summer challenges me, an amused smile dancing across her full lips.

“You snuck up on me and you’re calling me the creep?” I snort. “Come on, let’s get out of here.”

The quicker I can get Summer outside of this gym, the quicker I can shove away the fact that she caught me watching Amber’s performance. We duck behind the last row of seating and out of the door in the corner of the room, swiftly ignoring the Emergency Exit Only sign. We’ve done this so many times now that it’s like second nature.

Outside, the rain lashes against the building. The wind howls so loudly that I’m surprised no one noticed our little escape from the gymnasium—then again, they never do. For Summer, there’s more to life than just sitting in a desk at school. Any chance my best friend has to escape the mundane restrictions of life is an opportunity she must take. She’s never been the kind of girl to follow the traditional paths.

Then again, neither have I.

My thoughts still spin as we duck through the car park and head out to the tin shed at the back of the school. Summer knew exactly where to find me during Amber’s performance. She knows that I watch Amber. While everyone else in our grade snuck off to make out in abandoned classrooms or smoke cigarettes behind the main building, I followed the crowd into the gymnasium with one intention.

Why did I need to watch her?

“I had a headache and the gym was dark.” I shrug off Summer’s curious stare as we take shelter under the tin roof. The rain really lashes down now, bouncing off the pavement and whipping through the trees. “It was better than watching you make out with Jackson for an hour straight.”

My snide comment is low but, right now, I’ll do anything to take the attention away from me.

“You had a headache, so you decided to listen to Amber sing?” Summer rolls her eyes at me. “Makes sense.”

She fidgets with her oversized tartan scarf, staring out into the rain. Maybe I’m not the only one who is trying to avoid things today.

“You were in there too,” I argue half-heartedly. “What’s your obsession with her?”

This time, Summer does turn to me. “I’m obsessed?” She snorts. “Ingrid, honey, if I’m obsessed, then you’re deranged.”

“Then I’m deranged.”

Summer rolls her eyes, signalling the end of that particular conversation. “Whatever. Your deeply disturbing issues are the least of my problems right now. Look, Ingrid, I think I’m going to have to take a test.”

Red splotches gleam against Summer’s pale cheeks, and I watch her carefully. She tugs on that scarf like it’s strangling her.

“Like an STD test?”

“Are you stupid?” I know her voice is harsher than intended, and I brush it off with a blunt laugh. “A pregnancy test.”

“Oh, for god’s sake, here we go again. You and Jackson really need to invest in some efficient birth control because this I’m pregnant freak-out that you have every month is getting boring.”

“Trust me, I know.” Her tone is suddenly tense, and she blinks back emotion. “But right now, I’m pretty sure I have the devil’s spawn growing inside of me, so I’m allowed to freak out. I’m two weeks late.”

I raise my eyebrows. She’s never been this late before. “Jackson is not the devil’s spawn. You know he loves you. But I highly doubt you’re pregnant. It’s all the stress from thinking you’re pregnant every month starting to get to you.”

“Yeah, okay, whatever.” She says, throwing her hands up in defeat. “I knew I shouldn’t have said anything. I don’t know what you’re moping about—we got a free class and you got to watch Amber singing. It’s a damn good day for Ingrid Harper right now.”

“Listen, I really did just have a headache. I don’t care about Amber’s singing. And you and Jackson were quite obviously distracted. You didn’t seem to have pregnancy on your mind during that public make-out session. Or maybe you did. Either way, I think it’s a damn good day for both of us, don’t you think?”

I know what Summer is doing. She is the ultimate denier of reality. More than that, she is aware that I will follow along with every topic change she throws at me. I get distracted easily, apparently.

Summer laughs, but the smile doesn’t quite reach her eyes. Distraction is inevitable right now, for both of us. These are not issues we should be faced with at seventeen years old. Summer’s mother is getting married soon, so that’s just one more thing to top off what I’m coining Summer’s Distressing Summer.

We stand silently as the rain pours over the sides of the flimsy tin roof. Muddy water pools right to the edges of the door. It’s mid-December. While politicians are throwing around the term climate change like it’s currency, I stare at the pools of water near this emergency exit, wondering if our town has sufficient flood safety plans.

“Come over tonight,” she murmurs. “Please, Ingrid.”

“You’re buying me McDonald’s.” I sigh in return. The truth is, I have my own things to worry about, whether Summer is pregnant or not. She’s been with Jackson for three years—that’s three years they have successfully been together and prevented pregnancy. It’s not a possibility. It just isn’t.

Summer is wild, just like her name. Her light-brown hair is constantly tangled, but her dominating blue eyes seem to distract everyone.

But today, she stares out at the grey sky and nervously chews at her lip, clutching that damn scarf so tightly that I know she’s already certain about this pregnancy. More so than I’ve ever seen before. Her blue eyes don’t seem so bright today.

“I heard Jackson was thinking about transferring to the art school. I didn’t think that boy had an artistic bone in his body.” I smirk, desperately trying to relax Summer. I don’t know what to say when she’s so shut off like this. My lie is smooth, slipping off my lips easily.

“Yeah, he does comics. I don’t know, I guess they’re funny.”

“It’s our last year of high school. Surely he’s left it a bit late?” I frown in earnest now.

What Summer doesn’t know is that I’ve known Jackson a lot longer than she has. I know that he’s been wanting to do art since he started high school, but his military-driven father would never allow it—he’s all about physical education, mathematics, and science. He used to drill that into Jackson every time I was around; none of this fairy fluff nonsense, he would say pointedly.

“Look, Ingrid, I don’t really want to talk about Jackson right now,” Summer snaps, finally releasing the titan grip on her checked scarf and running a frustrated hand through her frizzy hair.

“Do you even want me to stay tonight then?” I throw back. “I can’t deal with you when you’re being like this. Either let me in or let me go. I’ve got shit to do.”

To my complete surprise, Summer snorts as she turns to face me. “Just shut up and come and sleep over at my house. I need your brutal honesty, but I also need you to do literally everything I say right now. You know I’d do the same for you.”

I don’t bother telling her that to be in her position, I’d actually have to get closer than two feet to a guy, but I think she already knows that.

“Look, I don’t like that you called Jackson the devil before. I don’t care if he’s annoying sometimes, if you are…pregnant…it’s definitely not the devil’s spawn that could be growing inside of you. And that’s all I’m going to say about that,” I huff.

“Okay, I didn’t know you were Jackson’s number-one cheerleader, but whatever.”

“Yeah, whatever.”

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Meet the Author

Gemma Gilmore is graduated from university with a degree in Journalism and a passion for writing and travelling. In 2016 she was awarded a highly competitive residency with the Tasmanian Writers Centre. When she’s not writing YA fiction, she’s spontaneously booking trips across the world so she can draw inspiration from new cultures and places.

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Book Reviews

Sunday Review

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For today’s review you’ll need Kleenex. Lots and lots of Kleenex, but believe me, it’ll be worth it!

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trapped

Trapped by Ofelia Gränd

Charlie Wilkins had everything he wanted—a husband, a daughter, a house that was his home. He still has his husband, but William has forgotten who he is. He still has his daughter, but the roles have switched, and she is now the one taking care of them.

There is only one thing Charlie wants, and that is to spend the rest of his days with William by his side. But William is living in a nursing home, and Charlie is living…somewhere. Ann says she will fix it; she’ll make sure they’ll get to live together again. Charlie hopes she will before William either escapes or figures out Charlie has left him in someone else’s care.

I knew reading the blurb that this wouldn’t be your typical HEA story and I was right. It’s about an old couple who are split up because of health reasons (involuntarily) after being married for 43 years. William has forgotten who Charlie is and Charlie himself is old and frail and can’t care for him anymore. So, despite Charlie promising to never leave William’s side, he has to. Charlie feels like crap about it and it hurts his poor old heart that William doesn’t remember him or their daughter anymore.

Then there’s Charlie, the loving old man, always by William’s side. He’s an unreliable narrator, and gradually the reader realizes all is not what it seems…

This was a beautiful story, full of love from the first page to the last. It broke my heart and healed it all at once.

When I wake up tomorrow and don’t remember who you are, know that I love you and I don’t regret a single thing. 

Ofelia Gränd’s writing is superb: the way she introduces Charlie’s mental issues is so gradual and sneaky that I didn’t see it coming. Or maybe, if I’m completely honest, I didn’t WANT to see it. If my suspicions turned out to be true, it would just be too much for my poor heart. All is not tears and sadness, though, there are some funny moments too, even if they made me giggle and sob at the same time. Like when William looks himself in the mirror, doesn’t recognize the old guy staring back at him and insists it’s Yoda.

This book spoke to me on so many personal levels. My biggest fear in life is that I’ll develop Alzheimer’s or any kind of dementia. Something about the prospect of forgetting my family, the people who are most dear to me, scares the shit out of me. On top of that, I’m 45 years old and have been with my husband for half my life already. If we were to be split up when we grow old like Charlie and William…I would feel just like Charlie did. Devastated. Half.

All those reasons are why this book…broke my heart. I sobbed my way through all 54 pages of it.

Even if it isn’t your traditional love story where the two young men ride off into the sunset, it still has a HEA of sorts. Not just the kind we’re used to in romance.

It’s definitely worth both your time AND your money. Read it, you won’t regret it.

Rating: five scrunched-up tear-stained tissues.

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Super Short

#SuperShort

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This week, I’m using the words my dear friend Addison gave me in the comments two weeks back for my flash fiction story:

reprehensible – mirror – floppy – branch – glory

And I’m also continuing the story of Alan and Jon, the guys from last week’s flashfic. When we left them, Jon had invited himself to Alan later that evening for a cup of coffee. Curious about what happens next? 😁

Read the first part of their story here.

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Coffee Date with My Hot Neighbor

I’ll be over at seven.

My hot neighbor’s—Jon, his name was Jon—words from this morning rattled around in my brain as I stood in front of the bathroom mirror trying my best to tame my blond, floppy bangs. I dipped my finger in the wax and applied a little more and for a second it looked as if it was going to stay where I wanted it, but then it crashed down over my eye again. I sighed. That would have to be good enough, it seemed.

My stomach clenched, and I frowned. What had Jon meant, exactly, when he’d said he was coming over for coffee? Had he meant for us to actually have a cup of black death tar with a side of conversation? As in a date? Where I had to ask him about his favorite color and most importantly: remember to talk? Or had coffee been a metaphor for something else? I tapped my lower lip with my index finger, and grimaced at the taste of hair wax. Maybe something less innocent? Something involving me bent over my couch, with his thick…tree branch stuffed deep in my glory hole?

“Holy smokes, Batman,” I muttered and shook my head. This was not going to end well. If I couldn’t stop perving over his body parts—weird, un-sexy nicknames and all—for more than five seconds, I was definitely going to be guilty of that reprehensible immoral behavior all gays displayed according to my less than accepting family.

The thought of my parents definitely took care of my over-eager libido and risked scaring my…tree branch—seriously what was wrong with my brain?—into hiding for a long time. Maybe forever.

I shook off the ickiness and gave myself a final inspection, rising on my toes to be able to take in my appearance in the bathroom mirror. A pair of shorts showing off my runner’s legs and a polo shirt making the blue of my eyes pop was nice enough to be dating clothes if that’s what this was, but not too nice if their purpose was to be ripped off me as soon as the door closed behind Jon.

I couldn’t decide which option I hoped for. He was hotter than Death Valley, and I’d spent a considerable amount of time perving on him. But in general, I wasn’t Mr. Hook-Up. Usually, I preferred to actually getting to know a person before jumping into bed with them.

Heaving out a sigh so deep the air expelled from my lungs made my bangs flutter, I turned my back to the mirror and walked out to the kitchen.

Everything was already prepared for his arrival. I’d filled the kettle with water, put out my favorite mugs, and a few different kinds of tea to choose from. A glance around the kitchen confirmed it was spotless, but I brushed some invisible crumbs off the counter anyway. Then I turned my nervous energy to the tea tins and nudged them until they stood in a straight line. One of the lids had a smudge and I rubbed at it with my thumb until it was gone. I twisted a couple of them, making sure the name of the tea would be visible and easy to read.

A loud beep and vibration sounded behind me and I jumped, jerked my arm, and accidentally hit a tin with a flapping hand. It tumbled over the edge of the counter, clanked down on the floor, and made my heart shoot up in my throat. The tin rolled a little before stopping, and the silence that followed the sudden commotion thundered in my ears.

Shit.

I sank down to the floor and pressed a palm to my chest as if to contain my heart that slammed furiously against my ribcage. At least if I had a heart attack—caused by a message on my freaking cell phone—I wouldn’t have to worry about seeing Jon and wondering if tonight was a date or not.

Maybe I should have said no when he invited himself over? I really wasn’t made for casual encounters or flings with hot neighbors. How had I not remembered that about myself? Had I been so busy drooling over his lightly furred chest and the alluring V of his hips that I’d forgotten who I was? Checking him out behind the curtain had just been an innocent morning thing. I’d never meant for him to find out. Or for anything to come of it.

My heart found its normal rhythm, and I reached for the fallen tin before jumping to my feet. I needed to tell him. I’d invite him in, offer him tea and the cheesecake I’d bought on my way home from work, but if he wanted something else, something involving the two of us naked, I would decline. I’d probably regret it for the rest of my life, but so be it.

And just like that, all the nervousness evaporated, and I could breathe again.

As I put the tea tin back next to the others on the counter, the doorbell rang. A quick peek at my watch told me he was right on time. Calmly, I strode through my house and opened the door.

Unlike this morning, he was wearing a shirt, and his cocky grin was nowhere to be seen. “Hi,” he said with a cautious, shaky smile. His eyes shone with uncertainty.

“Hi!” I smiled back at him, hoping to set him at ease. Funny how I seemed to be the calm one. What a difference a few seconds made. Opening the door wide, I stepped to the side. “Please, come in.”

He bounced on his toes and caught his lower lip between his teeth. Was he nervous?

“Um, I…” Redness stained his cheeks as he pulled his hand from behind his back where he’d kept it hidden. “I brought you this,” he said and held out the gift to me.

It was a single, long-stemmed, pink rose.

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All right. Hit me with a few more words…and if you’re really lucky (and choose nice, easy words) you might get to read more about Alan and Jon next week! 😊