Guestpost, Release Blitz

New Release Spotlight: The Scent of Pine by Holly Day

Hello, everyone! Thank you, Nell, for letting me drop by 🥰 Today, The Scent of Pine is released. It’s my 12th story of this year, and I don’t know about you, but I’m a bit impressed by myself LOL. (Nell, who’s talking about herself in third person apparently, is super impressed, too!! Great job, you!)

A little over a year ago, I was with my two youngest at a playground, and I sat on a bench watching them, and as always when I’m not close to my computer, I had an idea for the story I was writing – a Christmas story. And while sitting there plotting, I thought: I could do this all year round. Writing holiday stories, that is.

I dreamed up a scenario of how it would be, I even decided that if I ever was to do it, I would name myself Holly Day since it sounds like holiday LOL. I never really believed I’d do it. It was a playground fantasy 😊

But I told Nell, Ally, and JM about it and they all thought it was a fun idea. And here we are. Insane, but a lot of fun!

With today’s release, we’re celebrating Christmas Card Day, which is on the 9th of December. Do you send Christmas cards? I used to, but I haven’t in years.

The Scent of Pine was meant to be a feel-good story, but it didn’t turn out that way. I had this idea of a Christmas card arriving at the wrong address, and the man getting it tracking down the one who it was for, and sparks would fly.

And that’s sort of what happens, only it’s a stalker ex sending the cards, and they’re creepy, and Rafael, who is the one who was meant to get the cards, stays with Ash, who got them, more out of fear than of any sparks flying. They’re getting there, but not in the carefree, cosy way I’d predicted.

There is snow, Christmas decorations, and, of course, the scent of pine.


Blake had known where he was for over a week. It was likely he was watching the building.

Rafael didn’t know how he’d be able to leave, but he had to. He didn’t know where he would go, but he had to get away.

After throwing most of his clothes in a backpack together with his laptop, wallet, phone, and charger, he neared the door. The building was mostly quiet, the traffic had died down on the road outside, and the snow gave the world an innocent look—deceitful.

He pulled the hood of his black hoodie over his head. Everything he wore was black, but the snow made it harder to blend in with the shadows. He crept down the stairs and spent a couple of minutes peering out through the door window. A man walked past with a dog the shape of a loaf of bread—not Blake, he’d never get a pet.

With a deep breath, he pushed the door open. His heart thudded against his ribs as he looked up and down the sidewalk. No one was watching him, at least no one he could see.

After a few seconds’ indecision, he crossed the road. Better to put some distance between him and the apartment. The faster he could get away, the slimmer the chance of Blake spotting him.

A voice in his head told him he was overreacting. Blake might be on the other side of the world, only sending those cards to mess with him—to remind him he’d never be free of him.

It wasn’t illegal to send cards. Blake never did anything illegal. He had never hit Rafael, had never taken anything from him, had never locked him up inside their apartment, had never withheld food, had never done anything—Rafael had done it all, to himself, to please him.

Blake had claws buried in his brain.

“Where are you going?”

Rafael yelped. Ashton Cross was standing in his socks in the snow, blocking his path. Or not blocking, there was plenty of room to walk around him, but he was in Rafael’s way.

“Nowhere.” Rafael made to walk past him, but as he did, he shouldered him. It all happened so fast. Rafael never shouldered his way past anyone, and he could’ve stepped around Ashton, but he was scared and wasn’t thinking. So, he more or less tackled Ashton which had Ashton falling toward the wrought iron fence. Rafael’s brain had a millisecond to present an image of Ashton impaled on the arrow-like spearheads. He rushed to grab Ashton, wrapped his arms around his middle, and pulled him close.

Ashton was a good bit taller and broader than Rafael, but he managed to halt the fall before it was too late.


Ashton looked at him with wide eyes. “It’s okay. I’m a little unsteady.”

Rafael didn’t let go. He stood there breathing in the fresh winter air and held Ashton. He hadn’t held anyone in a long time.

“Are you okay?” Ashton looked at him with raised eyebrows.

Rafael let go and stepped away. “Ah… yes… I was afraid my carelessness would have you impaled on the spikes.” He gestured at the fence.

“That would’ve been a sight.”

Rafael stared. He didn’t sound angry, more like he was amused.

“I don’t think anyone would’ve appreciated it, to be fair. Least of all you.”

Ashton chuckled, which had Rafael staring at him. Rafael had pushed him, and he chuckled. “Are you sure you’re okay? Maybe you should have a lie-down. Almost being impaled can be scary.”

Ashton’s chuckling turned into a real laugh. After a few seconds of Ashton laughing and Rafael staring, he sobered. “Sorry. It’s just…” He gestured at the fence. “I chase down criminals for a living. I’m on sick leave because I was pushed out of a window, shattered my leg, and was sliced up by glass shards. Being nudged toward a fence doesn’t scare me.”

Rafael winced at the image of falling out a window. “I’m so sorry. It must’ve hurt like hell.”

Ashton shrugged in a slow, careful motion. “Falling didn’t hurt, and I passed out when I hit the ground, but waking up in the hospital was no fun.” He looked down the road then at Rafael again. “Now, tell me what’s going on.”

Rafael grimaced and evaluated his chances of escape. He’d say they were pretty good. He’d always been a fast runner and with Ashton still recovering from a fractured leg he was sure he could outrun him without too much trouble.

“Come inside. I’ll make you a cup of tea, and you can tell me what’s going on.”

Part of Rafael yearned to. Ashton might not be on duty, but he was still a cop, and unless he was a homophobic, racist bastard, he’d know what to do. Rafael took a deep breath and nodded.


Ashton Cross was stupid enough to fall out a window while trying to catch a criminal. Now he’s on sick leave and has been for weeks, and has nothing to do but watch his neighbors go about their day. It’s driving him insane. When he gets a Christmas card not meant for him, he doesn’t think much of it, but then there is another and another, all with the same motif.

For two years, Rafael Vidal has been hiding from his ex. He almost believed he’d gotten away when his neighbor knocks on his door to hand over a stack of Christmas cards. One look at the writing, and Rafael suspects he has been found.

When Ashton understands the situation, he’s set on catching Rafael’s ex. He might not be ready to get back to active duty at the police station, but finally, he has something to do, and he doesn’t mind keeping Rafael close. Rafael is trying to distract himself by helping Ashton put up Christmas decorations, but will they be able to enjoy Christmas with his stalker ex lurking around the corner?

Contemporary Gay Romance: 17,557 words

JMS Books :: Amazon :: Books2read

About Holly Day:

According to Holly Day, no day should go by uncelebrated and all of them deserve a story. If she’ll have the time to write them remains to be seen. She lives in rural Sweden with a husband, four children, more pets than most, and wouldn’t last a day without coffee.

Holly gets up at the crack of dawn most days of the week to write gay romance stories. She believes in equality in fiction and in real life. Diversity matters. Representation matters. Visibility matters. We can change the world one story at the time.

Connect with Holly on social media:

Website :: Facebook :: Twitter :: Pinterest :: BookBub :: Goodreads :: Instagram

About Nell

Goodbye November

…and good riddance. November is my least favorite month and this year has been no exception. All the beauty of the autumn is gone, and all that’s left is bare trees and darkness. When I started going through my phone to see what pictures I could use to illustrate November, 90% of the photos I’ve taken is of our fireplaces, because I’ve been cold and grumpy all month. 😁 But after scrolling through my photo album several times, I found ten pictures from November I thought I’d share with you.

Clearly not everything about November has been gray and dreary: this magnificent sky greeted me when I got off one work one afternoon. It took my breath away and I took so many photos of it I had to run not to miss my train. 😁

Project Build Nell’s Fancy Bathroom has begun. On the first day of the build, I was working from home, and I must admit I didn’t expect them to start the project by drilling holes between the floors (this bathroom is going to be upstairs in the house) to make drains. Do you know how noisy drilling through concrete is? Holy crap, it’s loud and not the best work environment to be honest…especially considering my office is right next to the room they’re building the bathroom. We’ve solved that problem now, by setting up a temporary office for me downstairs (see picture on Instagram here) so now I won’t be disturbed when working from home and they’re here doing their thing.

It’s often foggy in my corner of the world, but foggy mornings can be beautiful. Not if you ask my husband who drives me to the train station, because driving in the fog is no fun. But waiting for the train when the fog is enveloping the station can be quite lovely.

I had another training/certification thingy at the Day Job. It was two days in the middle of the month, and one of the days whirled past at a breakneck speed; the instructor had 144 (yes, that’s one hundred and forty-four) PowerPoint slides to go through between 10am and 5pm, and me and my colleagues felt like we’d been run over by a road roller repeatedly at the end of the day. Two more days to go in December, and then I’m certified.

The days got colder and colder, and one morning I woke up to a frosty wonderland. Frost is beautiful, don’t you agree?

Like I said: the majority of the pictures I’ve taken this month is of our fireplaces. The kitchen one is my favorite: it makes the kitchen so cozy and homey. And a country kitchen needs a fireplace, right?

As December drew closer, I decided to officially declare the the mulled wine season opened. I’m a huge fan of mulled wine, or glögg as it’s called in Swedish, and it’s especially yummy on chilly evenings. Here, I served the glögg with gingerbread cookies, and marshmallow Santas, and it was delicious.

Also, take a close look at the laboratory flask-like pot I’m using to keep the glögg warm; Sigge in my upcoming Christmas story The Santa Emergency has a pot just like that. 😁

The hubby and I have a fancy breakfast weekend tradition; after I’m done with my morning writing session, I make breakfast. We take our time eating it, enjoying ourselves and the company, as opposed to the weekday hurried breakfasts before rushing off to work. I was extra happy about the breakfast this particular morning and wanted to take a picture (because does it even exist if I haven’t photographed it?) The hubby, however, was in a playful mode and photobombed all my pics (you wouldn’t think he turns 50 next year!) so this is as good as it gets. He’s a moron. Cute and lovely, but a moron nonetheless 😆

For the third (or is it fourth?) year in a row, I’ve bought a tea and short story advent calendar. So every advent Sunday, I open an envelope containing a little short story and a sample of tea that somehow pertains to the short story. In this case, the story was The Legend of the Christmas Rose, (written by Selma Lagerlöf, a classic Swedish author and the first woman to ever win the Nobel Prize in literature), so the tea was a black rose tea. And they had added beetroot to it, so the tea was a lovely red color and it tasted great. So on the first Advent Sunday, I read the novella with my teacup in my hand in front of the kitchen fire. It was a lovely.

And on the last day of November, the snow came. Or to be honest, it came (and went) a couple days before, but this day it came and stayed. More snow is predicted as you read this; the weather service says we can expect almost a foot of snow on December 1. A foot. That’s a bit excessive, don’t you agree?

Tell me about something that happened to you in November! 🙂

Book Recommendations

5 Books to Look Forward to in December

December is right around the corner and I actually have a bunch of days off from the Day Job around Christmas, so I’m in the process of filling up my virtual book shelf so I have something to read when I can spend my days on the couch in front of the fire, drinking tea immersed in a good book.

There are five upcoming JMS Books releases I have my eye on, and I thought I’d share, if you’re also on the lookout for something to read.

  • The Scent of Pine is Holly Day’s 12th release this year (wohoooo, such great work my friend) and it sounds like a lot of fun, and the MCs sound like they’re the kind of quirky characters Holly writes so well.
  • December with Peppermint is a sequel to October by Candlelight that I read and loved and gushed about here. And you know I’m a huuuuuge fan of K.L. Noone so I can’t wait to get my greedy hands on this one.
  • The Music Box by Kassandra Lea is a re-release that I’ve read and loved before but I’ve never spoken about it because it was released by Dreamspinner Press. As you may know DSP has a history of not paying their authors, so I’ve been reluctant to promote them. So I’m extra happy to see this book being released by another press so I can finally talk about it, because it’s awesome.
  • I’ve had the good fortune to read an early version of Yule Be Naughty by my dear friend Kris T. Bethke. It’s a tale of kinky shifters, something we definitely need in December as opposed to all the wholesome family fun we’re supposed to engage in 🙂
  • Ellie Thomas is rapidly making her way into my list of favorite authors, so I really look forward to A Midwinter Night’s Magic. She had me at “the guests are expected to take part in a recital of A Midsummer Night’s Dream on Christmas Day” in the blurb, because I adoooore A Midsummer Night’s Dream. So adding this to my cart is a no-brainer.

Doesn’t that sound like a lovely stack of books to read on my lazy days off in December?

Tell me, what releases are you looking forward to?

Nell Iris' Christmas, Sale

Black Friday…eh Saturday? Sale and a Pre-Order

Who’s up for a Black Friday sale? But Nell, you say, Black Friday was yesterday! Yes, you’re right, of course, but I simply didn’t have the time to tell you about this yesterday. But lucky for us, JMS Books decided to extend the Black Friday sale into today, too, so there’s still time to buy cheap books.

And I’m not kidding when I say cheap books, because JMS Books offers 60% off all e-books, including pre-orders. So what’s better than to tell you that my Christmas story, The Santa Emergency, is now up for pre-order? 60% off means you can buy it for only $1.20. Wohooo, how cheap is that?

And a book up for pre-order means a book cover. Wanna see?

I have a Santa emergency and I desperately need your help.

Sigge isn’t exactly a grinch when it comes to Christmas, but he’s not a fan of the holiday either. So when his new neighbor Kristian shows up in a panic, begging him to help by donning a Santa suit, Sigge’s gut reaction is to say no. But Kristian is cute and funny, rendering Sigge powerless against his heartfelt plea—especially after a promise of spending more time together—so he agrees.

The instant connection deepens as they share mulled wine and conversation as easy as breathing. But is it just holiday magic swirling in the air, or is it something real? Something that will last into the new year and beyond?  

All my books are on sale, so check out the link to my author page if you have been waiting for an amazing sale to fill your e-library. Maybe some of my other holiday books since Christmas is just around the corner?

Nell Iris' Christmas

Advent calendar @ M/M Euro Book Banter on Facebook

I’m not a huge fan of Facebook. I mean, I’m a member and I have an author page, but I don’t have my own group. I’m a member of a few groups, but I’m not very active because to be honest, I haven’t really understood the purpose of groups. Maybe it’s because I’m too introverted to be in huge group of people, even if this group is completely online and I don’t have to actually see them in real life?

But there’s one group where I’m trying a bit more to be active; the M/M Euro Book Banter. Have you heard of it? It’s a place to discuss books written by European authors, but anyone, no matter where they live, is welcome to be a member. It’s a great idea, and I want to support it, and that’s why I’m trying to do better, trying to interact more.

And now the mods have arranged a really fun thing: an advent calendar. It means that every day from December 1st through the 24th, one European author will take over the group for the day and post fun stuff. And most importantly: offer some kind of giveaway. Doesn’t that sound like a lot of fun?

And I’ve signed up to be a part of it.

23 wonderful authors and yours truly have signed up for the advent calendar in M/M Euro Book Banter

Look at this lovely group of people, wouldn’t you wanna come hang out with us? Maybe read about European holiday traditions, maybe get the chance to win something fun in the giveaways? Maybe find a new author you haven’t tried before?

If this sounds like something you’d like to be a part of, hop on over to Facebook and join the group! I hope I’ll see you there on the 22nd.