Book Recommendations, Strike a Pose

Sunday Book Rec Special Edition: the Naked Gardeners

One of the things I was looking forward to the most while me and my fellow naked gardener authors was working on our stories, was reading the other books. I was dying to know how Ally, Holly, Amy, and Kristin would interpret the theme, what kinds of stories their brilliant minds would think up. So of course I had to read them all as soon as I was able, and I was not disappointed.

The result was a handful of very different stories only connected by the theme of being naked in the garden. I adore how different they all are, and not only how we approached the theme, but I love that we all took the theme and molded it to something that fit with our brand. And I loved all of the stories, and I want everyone to read them. So in today’s Sunday Book Recommendation blog post, I’m going to tell you about them. I started with The Death of Digby Catch, and read them in the order they follow below.

Solving a murder-mystery…at a naked gardening party

When August Catch arrives at the Arachne’s Loom estate to collect his late Uncle Digby’s things, he is thrown together with Theo Webb, the heir to the Webb family fortune. The attraction is instant. When Theo begins to suspect Digby may have been murdered, he and August will need to work together to discover the killer, and not let the thing growing between them be a distraction.

MM Contemporary // 19375 words

Admittedly, asking August to do naked yard word in front of his mother and what was easily forty strangers, was not the best start to a relationship. But then, what was?

Quote from The Death of Digby Catch by Amy Spector

There was a time in my life when all I read was murder-mysteries. In fact, I read so many, I grew tired of them, and have only read a handful the last 15 years or so. But naked gardening trumps over murder-mystery fatigue, so I started reading Amy’s book with interest.

And it sucked me right in from the first line. The rain had slowed the procession of cars winding their way to the gravesite to a mournful crawl. It was fitting. Not only because it was a funeral, but because the weather was as overly dramatic as Digby Catch had always been.

How great is that line? It definitely caught my attention, and then the book never let it go. The mystery was interesting, but it didn’t overshadow the romance, which was a definite plus for me.

I loved everything about the book, the setting, the characters, the romance. The relative lightheartedness considering it’s a mystery. It was the perfect book for a lazy Sunday afternoon, and I give it my warm recommendations.

Neighbors feuding over what to plant in the garden…naked

Everything would’ve been perfect if Grayson hadn’t been forced to share his garden with Cam. Grayson wants to grow vegetables, and he has a plan for how to do it. Cam loves flowers in perfect rows, but Grayson is incapable of growing things in lines. Most days end in conflict, at least until Grayson realizes he can shut Cam up by kissing him. But will they ever be able to agree about the garden?

MM Contemporary // 16427 words

“Come on.” He got to his feet and tugged at Cam’s hand to get him to stand. “We’ll shower, then I’ll feed you.” He pulled him toward his house.

“Grayson! I’m naked. I can’t walk through the garden naked.”

Grayson raised his eyebrows at him. “Why not? There is no one here.”

Quote from Perfect Rows by Holly Day

Okay, I’m not gonna lie; Camden was a hard character to love, but maybe that’s because I identify more with Grayson. I’m not someone who wants straight rows and perfection, I love the wildness of nature, I love an untamed garden, and I love Grayson’s idea of planting stuff wherever there’s a free spot. So it took me a while to warm up to Camden, and for half the book I kept wishing Grayson would find someone else to fall in love with, someone wasn’t as condescending as Camden could be, someone who could appreciate Grayson for who he was. But Camden managed to win me over. Eventually. 😁

A fun fact: the story opens with Grayson rushing out of the shower into the garden because Cam pisses him off, accidentally drops his towel, and ends up naked in front of Cam. My initial idea was to have the same kind of opening to my Naked Gardener story, but I changed it (and before I knew what Holly was planning). It must be a sign that great minds think alike…don’t you agree?? 😁

If you love a good enemies-to-lovers story and hard-to-love heroes, I definitely recommend Perfect Rows.

Picking tomatoes…naked

Spring 1947. England has just come through the worst winter in living memory. Peter’s been drifting since he left the army a year ago. George is lonely, despite the busy horticultural nursery he owns. Peter’s decision to take a swim in the irrigation tank presents them both with the chance to reach out and help each other. Can two misfits find a way to fit together with someone after all?

MM Historical // 16294 words

His expression was positively wicked. “And I’ll race you. Strip off. Pick a row…properly, mind, no skimping…and then race you to the water tank.” He was skinning out of his clothes as he talked, rolling them up and shoving them into one of the empty buckets stacked against the wall of the house where George had dragged them earlier. His sidelong grin at George was evil. “Last one in the water cooks supper!”

Quote from Warning! Deep Water by A.L. Lester

I know I say this every time I recommend a book written by A.L. Lester, but I absolutely adore the way she writes regular guys and quiet, understated romance, and her naked gardeners are no exception. This is a story about kindness and compassion, and it warmed my heart.

I wish more people wrote like A.L. Lester. I don’t need grand gestures or wild sex up a wall. I want to read about real people, who have real-life problems, who meet and fall in love, and live happily ever after. Just like George and Peter. Oh, and extra bonus points if there’s tea, and there’s always tea in Ally’s stories. She’s British after all. 😍

Fairytale romance…and a magical naked gardener

Charlie’s ready to start a new job and life at Aldershill Manor. As a historian, he’s thrilled to dive into the archives. And he can run from a messy break-up. And explore lovely gardens, too. Lionel does not like tourists, conversations, or social niceties. But he loves his job: helping beauty grow. When he finds the new historian caught in a storm, he offers shelter, which might bloom into more.

MM Contemporary // 16581 words

“Nothing about this has been me. Or who I thought I was. I moved to a whole different country, I haven’t even technically started my new job, I went for a walk in the rain, and I fell into bed with a magical naked gardener.”

Quote from The Hermit of Aldershill Manor by K.L. Noone

You all know by now that K.L. Noone is one of my favorite authors in the whole wide world, and The Hermit of Aldershill Manor sailed right up to the top as one of my favorite books. It’s magical, it’s beautiful, it’s breathtaking, it’s everything. I was sucked right into the story and forgot anything else existed, I read it with a permanent smile on my face and highlighted so many passages I could just have highlighted the whole thing and be done with it.

It’s the kind of book that when you’ve read it, you want to go back to the first page and start over right away. Or that you want to read and re-read when you need something heartwarming in a harsh world. It’s the kind of book that will stay with you forever.

Oh…and it has nakedness and a lovely, lovely gardener. 😀


Five World Naked Gardening Day Stories

Strike a Pose

World Naked Gardening Day: Strike a Pose – Release Day

Wohooo, today is release day for our naked gardening shenanigans; the joint project that me, Holly Day, A.L. Lester, K.L. Noone, and Amy Spector have been working on. It’s written for World Naked Gardening Day, which is today, so throw off your clothes and head out to the garden and do some naked gardening. Beware of rose bushes and stinging nettles, though!

Or if you don’t feel like getting naked in the garden yourself, you can at least read about fictional characters who throw off their clothes. For example Didrik and Johan, who admittedly focus more on the nakedness, than the gardening 😁

Didrik would do anything for his best friend, Filip, including taking pictures of Filip’s dad, Johan, for a charity calendar. Naked pictures, of beautiful, irresistible, wonderful Johan, who was single-handedly responsible for Didrik’s gay awakening. He was also happily married and unavailable…until he wasn’t.

After losing his husband five years ago, Johan finally seems ready to move on, and as they start the charity project, everything changes. With every meeting, every conversation, every pose for the camera, the attraction between them swells and grows, until it burns hot and threatens to consume them.

Their interactions, their relationship is surprisingly easy, but it’s not without its challenges. The age difference for one thing. Telling Filip for another. Is their connection enough to last? Can they overcome the hurdles to get the happily ever after they deserve?

M/M contemporary / 17545 words

Buy links

Also make sure to check out all the other stories celebrating World Naked Gardening Day. The fabulous Ally made a landing page for all five of the stories, so check out this link where you can read all the blurbs and find all the buy links.

Let the naked gardening shenanigans begin!!

It Rained All Night, Read Around the Rainbow Web Ring, Strike a Pose, Writing Update

Writing Update

It’s been a while since I did one of these. A quick check in my archive tells me it was January 25 2021, so more than a year ago. I don’t really know why I stopped doing them, but lots of things have happened since then. I moved to my lovely house, I started the Time-Stealing Day Job. And we can’t forget about The Plague, of course. My social media presence has lessened in general, because I want to spend what little free time I have actually writing than on posting stuff on SM.

But I thought it’d be a good thing to bring back to the blog, and my plan is to post about it once a month. I have another monthly thing planned for the blog, but more on that later. First; what’s going on with my writing?

It Rained All Night

My publisher JMS Books have posted in-house submission calls for “this-or-that” short stories. And by this-or-that, I mean for example sugar or spice, where the author picks either sugar or spice and writes a story about it. I did. I picked sugar, and wrote Secrets on a Train, where the two MCs hit it off when Runar notices Valentin putting ALL THE SUGAR in his coffee. There are more this-or-that submission calls, like rain or shine, where I picked rain and wrote It Rained All Night.

Wanna see the blurb?

Can a chance meeting in the rain change someone’s life? 

Meeting someone who can make him stop going is an eye-opener for Henrik. The man, Mikko, is his complete opposite, a steady rock in the wild rainstorm that is Henrik’s life, but the connection between them is both unexpected and instantaneous. Their encounter only lasts a few minutes, but before they part, they exchange phone numbers.

They live far away from each other, but soon they text and call daily, until Mikko is Henrik’s dearest friend and most trusted person. But a late-night question on the phone has Henrik re-evaluating his feelings. It’s impossible to love someone you’ve only met in person once…right? 

Is the connection Henrik and Mikko forged long distance enough to sustain them when they meet again? And will their love be strong enough to give them the happily ever after they deserve? 

It’s 7673 words long and will be released in April, and you can look forward to more short stories about rain. I know for example that the lovely K.L. Noone has written a story for this submission call that I look forward to reading.

I had a hard time coming up with the title for the story, until one day when I listened to one of my favorite songs by one of my favorite artists, Thom Yorke (lead singer of Radiohead.) The song’s name is It Rained All Night, so I borrowed it for my story because it fits perfectly; it does rain all night. But that’s all the song and my story have in common, I promise.

And if you’ve never heard it, here’s a YouTube link where you can check it out.


Strike a Pose

The first Saturday of May is World Naked Gardening Day. That sounds like something my friend Holly Day would write a story for, because she writes stories inspired by all the weird and wonderful holidays out there. And she has written a story for it. And so have I. And a bunch of other people. Because last year when I stumbled on this fabulous holiday, I said to Holly that she should write a story for it, and Ally said we should all write stories for it, and I said okay, and suddenly we were doing a Naked Gardening collaboration. We enlisted K.L. Noone and Amy Spector, talked to JMS Books to check if they’d be on board to publish a bunch of naked gardening books on May 7, and they said yes.

So, come May 7, five stories celebrating World Naked Gardening Day will be published by JMS Books, and mine is called Strike a Pose. There’s very little actual gardening going on in my story, but there’s a lot of nakedness and people posing as famous ancient sculptures in the garden (where the statues in the picture above served as my inspiration). That counts, doesn’t it? 🙂

The story is 17545 words long and it’s surprisingly spicy for being a Nell Iris story. My stories are usually lower heat, but this one…is not 🔥🔥

Didrik would do anything for his best friend, Filip, including taking pictures of Filip’s dad, Johan, for a charity calendar. Naked pictures, of beautiful, irresistible, wonderful Johan, who was single-handedly responsible for Didrik’s gay awakening. He was also happily married and unavailable…until he wasn’t.

After losing his husband five years ago, Johan finally seems ready to move on, and as they start the charity project, everything changes. With every meeting, every conversation, every pose for the camera, the attraction between them swells and grows, until it burns hot and threatens to consume them.

Their interactions, their relationship is surprisingly easy, but it’s not without its challenges. The age difference for one thing. Telling Filip for another. Is their connection enough to last? Can they overcome the hurdles to get the happily ever after they deserve?


Read Around the Rainbow

The final update for this post is in regards to what I wrote above; that I have a new monthly feature planned for the blog. This idea was born in the morning office with Ally and Ofelia, just like the naked gardener one. (isn’t it amazing what happens when you throw a bunch of creative people into the same space?)

The idea is for us to blog about the same topic on the same day each month, like a webring. Or exactly like a webring, because Ally promptly set one up, recruited more people, made a handful of lovely graphics, and provided us with links and codes and spreadsheets. If you think that sounds scarily organized, you’re right 😁

Maybe you’ve noticed the new, fancy Read Around the Rainbow widget in my sidebar? You can use it to check out all the participating blogs, but we’ll also link to each other in the monthly post. Currently, we’re ten authors participating; A.L. Lester, Ofelia Gränd/Holly Day, Ellie Thomas, Addison Albright, K.L. Noone, Amy Spector, Fiona Glass, Lillian Francis, and J.R Hart, but all of us might not post every time.

The first date for this is March 25, and the topic for our first posts will be our ideal writing shack. It’ll be great fun. I love blogging, but sometimes it’s hard to come up with topics, so this’ll be a great help.

Also, check out what Fiona Glass wrote about this new webring thing. She explains it much better than I do.