Awakenings and French Songs, Coming Soon

Cover reveal: Awakenings and French Songs

If you remember: when JMS Books had the huge Black Friday 60% off all ebooks sale, I told you about one of my upcoming releases (because it was available for pre-order at 60% off), named Awakenings and French Songs. I didn’t have a proper cover at the time, only a temporary “coming soon” cover that JMS provided.

But now I have a cover!! Wanna see?


An existential awakening and lots of French chansons equal a favorite neighbor seen in a new light.

Iggy Wilker never expected his 36th birthday to turn into an existential crisis. When Iggy’s friends celebrate him with his usual favorite pastime—drinking, dancing, and willing guys—he suddenly wants nothing to do with any of it. He’s fed up and ready for something else. The question is what?

Ronan Clenney has had his eye on his neighbor forever, but as a single father of a precocious eleven-year-old, he’s never believed he stands a chance. But over a late-night cup of tea, it seems that circumstances have changed. Is this the right time, finally?

Iggy has never believed in romance, but can Ronan show him he’s wrong? That love is a real thing?


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Release day is January 12th, it’s a M/M contemporary story, approximately 11K words long. You know me, I like it short and sweet, and this is no exception.

JMS Books always have a 20% sale off pre-orders so if you click the link above now, you can buy it at a reduced price!

Here’s the song that inspired the whole story. Do you like old French songs? I LOVE this song, it’s so emotional!

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“Iggy?” A slow smile blooms on his face and his eyes brighten. “What are you doing up this early? What happened to no knocking on my door before ten on weekends, young Miss Emery?” he asks, imitating my words perfectly.

“I grew old, that’s what happened.”

“Awww. Poor Iggy.”

“Hey! Be nice or I won’t share my breakfast.” I hold up the bags to show him what he’d be missing.

His eyebrows shoot to the heavens. “You brought breakfast?”

“Um, yeah. You gonna let me in, or …?”

“Of course. You just about shocked me to death, that’s all.” He pretends to clutch his pearls.

“That seems to be my theme this week,” I mutter and follow him to the kitchen.

“I was just about to start breakfast –” he points at a carton of eggs, “– but I guess I don’t have to?”

“Nope. Coffee would be good though. I didn’t buy any.”

“Sure.” He leans over to the machine and pushes the button. “All done.” He grins at me and takes a seat at the table. “Show me what you got.”

He watches as I unload my purchases. Baguettes. Croissants. Pain au chocolat. A box of pastel colored macarons I bought only because they’re so pretty and I thought Emery would appreciate the pinks and purples and yellows. Three tiny, fancy-looking jars of French jam; black cherry, fig and walnut, and raspberry. And finally, a box of huge, dark red strawberries the bakery sold for some unknown reason.

Ronan’s mouth falls open as he takes in everything. “What brought this on?”

I take my usual spot at the table. “I’ve had that song on my mind ever since the other night. I have no idea what it’s called or what the guy was singing about, but I haven’t been able to get it out of my head. So when I walked past Knead It and they had a French flag hanging in the window, I couldn’t help myself.”

“Which song?”

I hum a few bars, hoping I don’t butcher it too much so he won’t recognize it, but he nods.

“‘Ne me quitte pas’ by Jacques Brel.”

I repeat the title in a terrible French accent. “What does it mean?”

“It means ‘Don’t leave me.’”

His words make my heart stutter in my chest. “It’s great. So emotional,” I rasp out.

“I didn’t know you were a fan of old French songs.”

“I’m not. But it’s really beautiful.” The explanation feels inadequate, but I don’t know how to express myself better.

He doesn’t talk for several seconds, and then he says, “Huh.” His gaze is full of questions he’s not asking, and he doesn’t let up the intense scrutiny for even a moment. Inside, I’m squirming like a maggot on a fish hook, but I hope I manage to present a calm exterior.

For the first time ever, things are weird between us. The conversation is stilted, and the silences awkward. I know why, of course. By showing up like this, I changed the dynamics of our relationship. I’ve never been one for socializing in the mornings. And while I’ve brought the occasional pizza or six-pack, I’ve never brought anything like this before. Something meaningful. Something that shows I’ve been thinking about him and the time we spent together. Something serious.

I can’t blame him for wondering what’s going on. He listens to that French stuff all the time and I’m sure he’s played that song a million times before, but it’s like I heard it for the very first time on Wednesday.

I can’t stand his close examination any longer, so I get up and start setting the table with plates and cups and cutlery. “What’s the deal with you and all the French stuff anyway?” I ask with my head buried in the refrigerator, looking for butter and something for Emery to drink since she’s not allowed coffee.

“My grandmother was from France. She always used to sing the old songs to me and teach me the lyrics.”

I place a cutting board and a bread knife on the table. “Oh. What was her name?”


“That’s a beautiful name.”


I look around for something else to do. “Do you speak French?”


I gulp, knowing what’s coming. “Yes?” Reluctantly, I retake my seat at the table.

“Why are you really here?” His voice is soft and caring and I’ve heard him use the same tone when he speaks to Emery about important matters.

I line up the jam jars in a perfect row, needing something to do with my hands. “I … uh … want to spend more time with you and Emery.”

Nell Iris' Christmas

Advent calendar: day 17


Behind door number 17 of my advent calendar, we find Revelry by K.L. Noone.

Sometimes when you read a blurb, you get a good feeling and just know you’re going to love that book. Sometimes, that feeling turns out to be false. But sometimes, it turns out to be exactly right. And that was the case for Revelry. It was the phrase “research on obscure ancient Roman holiday traditions” in the blurb that caught my eye, and the book fulfilled on that promise.

It’s like this book was written with me in mind. The characters are awesome: Stephen is nerdy and scholarly and Brian is fabulous and glittery, just the kind of MCs I love. I took Latin in high-school and love everything Roman. And anyone who mentions the Roman poet Catullus—my favorite poet!—gets a gold-star in my book. (“Catullus once wrote about a friend gifting him a book of poems by the worst poet who ever lived, and he was thoroughly delighted”)  There are mentions of Shakespeare (I named my daughter Ofelia, do I need to say more?) and then Ms. Noone tops it all off by throwing in a mention of the favorite band of my teenage years that I’m still very fond of (“Unless you somehow refuse to appreciate Duran Duran, who are indisputable musical geniuses.”) and I’m floored.

K.L. Noone’s use of language is magical and makes my heart flutter with happiness. “This was himself making Brian happy as well, he understood; and that understanding snagged his next breath and stole it away, like the shooting star returning, like a lifeline flung out that’d unexpectedly caught the sun.” I mean…*swoon*

And on top of that it was super cute and I giggled my way through it.

This was the first book I read by this author, but it definitely won’t be the last. Now if you excuse me, I have books to buy!



Stephen Hunt’s having a terrible holiday season. It’s mid-December, and he’s about as far from the familiar scholarly walls of his Oxford professor’s office as he can get — Southern California, in fact, for an academic conference. Back home, his ex-boyfriend’s moved out, and Stephen’s alone and miserable in the hotel bar with his research on obscure ancient Roman holiday traditions. The bartender’s adorable, though, so at least that’s a good distraction from his thoughts.

Brian Dwyer’s a very good bartender. Good at making drinks and having holiday spirit, good at talking to customers, good at making people smile. He’s decided that the gorgeous but unhappy professor at the end of the bar definitely needs to smile. And once Stephen opens up and starts talking to him, Brian just might be in love with historical trivia, knowledge and passion, and those soft brown eyes. And if the night’s one of those decadent ancient holidays that Stephen knows so much about, even better — they’ll just have to find a way to celebrate together.

Buy link: Amazon | JMS Books

Today’s quote from the book:

(This is another book I just can’t pick one quote from. Also, I totally cheated, because I sprinkled quotes in the opening text, too, so there’s that! 🙂 )

Stephen swallowed. Hard. Not only because of the clinging denim and sequins. Because Brian had done all this, had thrown the whole gesture together, for him. And was standing in his doorway wearing Dolphin Princess accessories, unabashed and happy.


“I told you about classical Roman holidays and you tried to give me one. I want you.”


“Look at me.”
“Do I have to?”
“I’m wearing your tiara. Because…because you gave it to me. Sigillaria and gifts. The whole Saturnalia festival and inversions. Being king for a day. Or a Dolphin Princess. It’s a royal decree. So yes.”

Today’s song to go with the story

The Twelve Days of Christmas by Bing Crosby & The Andrew Sisters because Sigillaria (the Roman holiday referred to in the blurb) is about giving silly gifts, and if you ask me “twelve drummers drumming, eleven pipers piping, ten lords a-leaping, nine ladies dancing, eight maids a-milking, seven swans a-swimming, six geese a-laying, five golden rings, four calling birds, three French hens, two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree” are a lot of very silly gifts. (What am I going to do with all that shit? I prefer a Dolphin Princess tiara over eight maids a-milking any day!) 😀