Wrap-Up Wednesday | January

I haven’t been reading much. I’ve been writing and sometimes reading and writing go hand in hand for me. When I’m in that hyper state, I’m not really connected to the real world. I write like crazy until my brain gets too tired, and then I pick up a book to relax with. Often one fuels the other, but not this month.

My entire focus has been on doing words in the morning and doing everything else that comes along with being an author in the afternoon. When the evening arrives, I’ve been blankly staring at the TV – White Lotus, people! Hubby and I saw the last episode a couple of days ago, so now we’re trying to fill the void 😁

I have read a little.

Subtle Blood by K.J. Charles 

This is the third story of The Will Darling Adventures series. I’m not someone who listens to audiobooks, I almost gave myself a subscription to Storytel for Christmas since I figured I should listen to more audiobooks, but… Anyway, I have been listening to the audio of this series. I picked them up at the library, and I don’t remember how long ago it is I listened to the first two books, but when I finished The Sugared Game, the second book, Subtle Blood wasn’t available. Now it was.

It’s not A Charm of Magpies which is one of my favourite series of all time, but it’s good.

Subtle BloodWill Darling is all right. His business is doing well, and so is his illicit relationship with Kim Secretan–disgraced aristocrat, ex-spy, amateur book-dealer. It’s starting to feel like he’s got his life under control.

And then a brutal murder in a gentleman’s club plunges them back into the shadow world of crime, deception, and the power of privilege. Worse, it brings them up against Kim’s noble, hostile family, and his upper-class life where Will can never belong.

With old and new enemies against them, and secrets on every side, Will and Kim have to fight for each other harder than ever—or be torn apart for good.

https://books2read.com/SubtleBlood

Starlight by Jordan Castillo Price

This is a short vampire/werewolf story, and I was just about to write I got it through JCP’s newsletter, but now I got uncertain. My memory is good but short. Could I have picked it up elsewhere? Maybe. Anyway, it’s short and I needed something short.

StarlightThe tearing of flesh, the pulsing of blood…these things haven’t aroused anything other than simple hunger in Joseph for centuries. But now he’s caught the scent of a creature no more human than he is, and his hunger has turned to desire.

MM PNR short story, 4600 words.

https://books2read.com/StarlightJCP

Blood Omen by Sheena Jolie

More vampires! This is my first read by Sheena Jolie, and if you’re in the mood for vamps, fae, magic users and so on, give it a go! After some snooping around, I realised Sheena Jolie is also writing as SJ Himes, and this is a spinoff of another series they’ve written, The Beacon Hill Sorcerer. You don’t need to have read that to enjoy this. I haven’t, and it worked just fine. But I checked my kindle library because I remembered that title and turns out I own The Necromancer’s Dance, the first story of The Beacon Hill Sorcerer series, I just haven’t read it yet.

And I just realised, I hadn’t needed to do any snooping at all, it’s all there on the cover 🙄

Blood OmenSet in the Infinite Arcana Universe, BLOOD OMEN is a fascinating peek into the wider world of the Beacon Hill Sorcerer by SJ Himes….

Remi has been doing the same job for the last two thousand years: specialist courier of valuable magical objects and sensitive information. Sent on a mission to get a powerful talisman to the City Master of the Boston Bloodclan, Remi ends up with an unexpected complication: Celyn, a beautiful fae college student who was in the right place at the wrong time.
Celyn was instantly attracted to the sexy vampire when they met by chance at a pub. Thinking he was about to experience the best hook-up of his life, Celyn never expected to end up running across the streets of Budapest with Remi while the High Council of Sorcery was trying to kill them.
Dodging spells and holing up in secret lairs, Remi and Celyn find something even rarer than the object Remi carries: a chance at true love.

https://books2read.com/BloodOmen

Think of England by K.J. Charles

More by K.J. Charles. This is my reread of the month, and if you want to hear me gush about how much I love Daniel you can hop on over to Holly’s because I talk about it there. Awesome story that you should read if you haven’t!

Think of EnglandLie back and think of England…

England, 1904. Two years ago, Captain Archie Curtis lost his friends, fingers, and future to a terrible military accident. Alone, purposeless and angry, Curtis is determined to discover if he and his comrades were the victims of fate, or of sabotage.

Curtis’s search takes him to an isolated, ultra-modern country house, where he meets and instantly clashes with fellow guest Daniel da Silva. Effete, decadent, foreign, and all-too-obviously queer, the sophisticated poet is everything the straightforward British officer fears and distrusts.

As events unfold, Curtis realizes that Daniel has his own secret intentions. And there’s something else they share—a mounting sexual tension that leaves Curtis reeling.

As the house party’s elegant facade cracks to reveal treachery, blackmail and murder, Curtis finds himself needing clever, dark-eyed Daniel as he has never needed a man before…

https://books2read.com/ThinkofEngland

TropeTuesday | Squirrel Circus by Holly Day

TropeTuesday Squirrel Circus

Hiya! I’m here as Holly today, and I thought I’d tell you a little about Squirrel Circus, which was released a few days ago 😊 I wrote it for Squirrel Appreciation Day because squirrels are cute, right?

In this story, we have Jyran, who is a squirrel shifter. Squirrel shifters are near extinct because people – both humans and shifters of predatory species – hunt them.

Then we have Gideon, who is a grumpy werewolf who wants nothing to do with squirrels.

Jyran is a darling. Did you know squirrels misplace about 75% of the food they gather? Well, Jyran misplaces food too. 

I’m not here to talk about squirrels today, not much, at least, and as you can see, I’m failing. But what I came here to talk about is fated mates. I write a lot of fated mate stories. I don’t really know why I do. I often say it’s because I can cheat on the romance, but that’s not entirely true. 

It’s a shortcut, but just because you have a soulmate doesn’t mean you can skip the getting-to-know-each-other part. It’s just that it’s decided from the beginning that they’re gonna be together. But if you read romance, you know the characters are gonna end up together, fated mates or not. If there isn’t a HEA or at least HFN, it isn’t romance you’re reading.

What I like is the willingness to sacrifice yourself for your mate. I’m not saying you don’t see sacrifices in contemporary stories, but it’s not the same. In most fated mates stories it’s ingrained in the characters to protect each other, and they want to be together at all costs. 

Though not always. Squirrel Circus is a rejected mate story, my first! Unless I’m forgetting something 😆 I don’t think I do. So far, I have 12 fated mate stories. The level of choice varies in them, some are more in the potential mate category, and some are that there is a one-and-only.

In Squirrel Circus, it’s a one-and-only, but that doesn’t stop Gideon from rejecting Jyran. He does not want to be mated to a squirrel, and it takes a long time before he can accept that his mate, his better half, his one-and-only, is in fact a squirrel. 

I think I’ll write more rejected mate stories in the future. I loved writing this one!

Squirrel Circus

squirrelcircus

Can you forgive being rejected by your mate?

For as long as Jyran Pechman can remember, he’s dreamed about finding his soulmate. As a child, he lost his family, and he’s been moving around ever since. He hates it, and he wants nothing more than to have a home. A mate. A place to belong.

Gideon Everett might have dreamed about the day he’d find his mate, but his mate was never an unorganized, nut-hoarding squirrel shifter in those dreams. Wolves eat squirrels, so when Jyran walks into Gideon’s bar, he throws him out and tells him he wants nothing to do with him. He has a reputation to think about, and he will not be known as the wolf who mated a squirrel.

Being rejected hurts more than Jyran ever imagined, and he swears never to set foot in Gideon’s bar again. After the initial shock, Gideon is almost sure he made the right decision. Almost. What if he made the wrong decision? Now when he knows his mate is out there, can he live on as if they’ve never met, or does he have to … ugh … apologize?

Buy link:

Paranormal Gay Romance: 36,035 words

JMS Books :: Amazon :: books2read.com/squirrelcircus

Excerpt:

Gideon was slicing lemons for the evening when the air stirred, and Adara appeared in front of him. He sucked in a breath, for more reasons than one, and his gaze jumped to the entrance. Was Jyran with her? Hot and cold washed over him.

“What do you know about Valerie?”

Gideon forced himself to look at her and not wait for someone else to enter. “What are you talking about?”

She slammed her palm against the bar, and Gideon swallowed a growl. “Valerie, who used to work for me.” It took his brain a second to catch up, but Adara was furious… and maybe scared. It had tension creeping into him. What could scare a vampire?

“I don’t know anything about her. Are we talking about the bear?” If so, she’d come here with Adara a few times, but it had been a few years since he’d seen her.

“Yes, the bear. She’s not been in here? She lives here now.”

Gideon hadn’t seen her, but it didn’t mean she hadn’t been in. He had a pretty good idea of who his customers were, but it didn’t mean he never missed anyone, and on occasion, he had a night off. “I haven’t seen her.”

Adara glared, and Gideon’s initial annoyance melted into confusion. “Are you here for a few days?” He could use a good night, and if he could get her to play, it would get him to the end of the month. She hadn’t played at The Howling Moon since that night… She was big shit now, though. Toured the world. She didn’t do gigs in seedy bars anymore.

“No, Ordbury.”

Close enough. “Want to come to Doson, for old times’ sake?”

She shook her head. “Can’t bring Jyran here. I have to get to the bottom of this before I take him anywhere.”

Ice filled his gut, but he refused to ask what she meant. “You can come without him.”

She huffed. “I’m not leaving him unprotected. I might have to cancel the gigs in Ordbury.” She leaned against the bar with a dramatic groan. “Fuck, he’ll hide spiders in my bed if I do.”

Gideon would not get involved in this. “Why did you ask about Valerie?”

“She was attacked.” Adara looked around the bar. He hadn’t changed anything since she’d last been there, he didn’t think.

“And it has something to do with Jyran?” Damn. He didn’t want to know.

“He doesn’t think so, but he’s never realized his worth. People always treat him like shit, so he believes it’s what he deserves.” She shook his head, seemingly forgetting Gideon treated him like shit. He wasn’t. He wasn’t treating him at all. “I wouldn’t last a day without Jyran. Valerie tried to warn me about something, but I was too busy playing superstar to call her back. She mentioned Jyran, and she never mentions Jyran. If anyone wanted to ruin things for me, all they’d have to do is get to him. If they know we’re in Ordbury… and it’s not much of a secret, is it?” She sighed. “They’d know I’d come if Valerie was attacked. Either they wanted me to come, so Jyran would be unprotected, or they’d assume he’d come with me. Most likely the latter since he’s always with me, and they don’t know you’re an ass.”

So many questions were resting on Gideon’s tongue, but he wouldn’t ask them. “He’s safe now?” The cold in his gut spread to his veins after he’d uttered the words. It wasn’t pleasant.

She shrugged. “I left him in bed with his boyfriend—” Gideon saw red but forced down a breath. In bed. With his boyfriend. “—but Justin isn’t enough protection. He’s human.”

“He’s… dating a human?” Fuck his traitorous tongue. He wouldn’t ask questions.

She shrugged. “There is always someone, but they can’t protect him properly. They don’t know what he is or the danger he’s in. I have to find out who attacked Valerie and why. I think it’s connected to what she was trying to tell me.”

Gideon couldn’t think. There is always someone. His bed hadn’t lacked lovers for the last six years, but he’d never imagined Jyran being with someone other than him. He was his mate, why would he want to bed anyone else? The voice in his head snorted. “Human?”

“What? No, shifter. She had scratches from claw marks. I’m heading to the hospital in a minute to talk to her. When I called, her mother was there, so I figured I’d pop in here first.”

“I mean Jyran. You left him with a human.”

He watched as a little light came on in her eyes. “Right, yeah, our entire team is human these days. Valerie was the last to go. I didn’t renew her contract when it came to an end. No hard feelings.”

“What? Why?” Who would want to work with humans? Humans couldn’t protect them.

She shrugged. “They love Jyran.”

Right, and shifters would want to kill him.

“Oh, and he wrote you a letter.” She pulled a paper that had been folded a million times from her pocket.

“He wrote me a letter?” He tried to halt the warmth spreading in his chest.

“Sure. He does it all the time, and then we normally get drunk and burn them. He’s a cute drunk.”

Gideon tried to process what she was saying while clutching the letter.

“Go on, read it.”

Part of him wanted to, another part suspected this would end badly. He slowly unfolded the paper and read the date in the corner. It was dated two weeks prior. He glanced at her, but she was studying her nails.

Skimming the first paragraph, he grinned as Jyran told him about Fewood. How lovely the city was, and how he’d gotten two pairs of shoes from the biggest shoe store he’d ever been in. Then the paper crinkled in his grip as he described, in detail, how Justin had sucked him off in a park under the moonlit sky and now was sleeping in his bed. How lovely he was, how Jyran wished he could love him. Then he went on a rant about how much he hated wolves and ended the letter with a fuck you. It was more like a diary entry than a letter.

“He wanted me to read this?”

“No, of course not.” She yanked it from his grip and tore it. “I had to steal it while he was in the shower. I’d have taken a juicier one, but he was done in the bathroom, so there was no time.”

Gideon filled his lungs. “How many letters are we talking?”

Adara shrugged. “He writes to you almost every day, but then, when he’s extra depressed, we burn them.” Her grin was evil. “You don’t deserve him.”

Maybe not, but he didn’t want him either, so it didn’t matter.

“Why give it to me, then?”

“Because you’re an ass.” She made a move to leave but turned. “If you hear anything about someone wanting to skin a squirrel or kill a singer, let me know, yeah?”

Gideon didn’t know what to do. His inner wolf whined with the need to protect his mate, but he was a stupid, mindless beast. Gideon couldn’t have a squirrel mate. “You think you’re in danger? For real? You’re not here to punish me?”

“Gid, had I wanted to punish you, you’d be bleeding. I’m sorry your idiocy is hurting Jyran, but as long as you’re pushing him away, I can keep him, so the selfish part of me doesn’t mind your stupidity at all. The day Jyran settles down with someone, I’ll be lost. I might stop touring. I’ve made enough money to last me a lifetime, but I kind of like it. He doesn’t, though. One day, he’ll settle for someone, and we’ll stop this nomad way of living.”

“You’ll stop touring?” He didn’t believe her. “For Jyran.”

“There is nothing I wouldn’t do for Jyran, but not until I know he can be happy. Justin is all right, but he’s not the one. I had higher hopes for David. For a while there, I believed David would be enough for him.”

It hurt more than it should. Gideon had worked his way through a long line of lovers, but he’d never kept anyone for more than a night. Jyran had relationships, and it hurt. He laughed with someone, cuddled with someone, shared meals with someone.

But he was a fucking squirrel. Gideon couldn’t be with a squirrel.

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 :: Newsletter :: TikTok

#WhatToReadWednesday | Gay Small Town Romances

I was making a TikTok video (Yes, I’m on TikTok now 😆) with some of my small-town romance titles – in other words, my Up North titles – and thought I’d do a #WhatToReadWednesday post about it. Not about my stories (though I’ll mention a few at the bottom of the post) but some titles for you to check if small towns are your jam.

Promises by Marie Sexton

It’s been many, many years since I read this one, but I remember liking it. A small Colorado town, loneliness, and hope.

PromisesCan a man who loves his small hometown trust it to love him back?

Jared Thomas has lived in the mountain town of Coda, Colorado, his whole life. He’s never hidden his homosexuality, but he’s never exactly flaunted it either. He never had reason to. The only other gay man in town is twice his age and used to be his teacher, so staying single seemed like Jared’s only option.

Then police officer Matt Richards moves to town.

Matt claims he isn’t into guys, but he doesn’t care that Jared is. A summer camping and mountain biking together cements their friendship, but in a town as close-knit as Coda, it doesn’t take long for rumors to start. Facing small-town gossip, Matt’s affair with a local woman, his disapproving family, and harassment from Matt’s coworkers, Jared fears they’ll never find a way to be together… assuming he can even convince Matt to try.

https://books2read.com/PromisesCoda

Nowhere Ranch by Heidi Cullinan

Being on a ranch pretty much ensures it’s a small-town romance, right? It’s a bit lite cheating, but I saw this on a list of small-town romances, so… kinky cowboys, anyone?

Nowhere RanchLove will grow through the cracks you leave open.

Ranch hand Roe Davis absolutely never mixes business with pleasure—until he runs into his boss, Travis Loving, at the only gay bar within two hundred miles.

Getting involved with the ranch owner is a bad idea, but Roe’s and Travis’s bedroom kinks line up against one another like a pair of custom-cut rails. As long as they’re both clear this is sex on the side, no relationship, no interfering with the job, they could make it work.

Shut out by his family years ago, Roe survived by steadfastly refusing to settle into so much as a post office box. As his affair with Travis grows into more than just sex, Roe’s past catches up with him, threatening the thin ray of happiness he’s found, reminding him it’s well past time he went on his way.

But even a loner gets lonely, and at this point, there’s nowhere left to run. The shame and sorrow of what he’s lost will stay with Roe wherever he goes—until he’s ready to let love lead him home.

https://books2read.com/NowhereRanch

Widdershins by Jordan L. Hawk

How big is Widdershins? Small town? Medium-sized town? It has some of that small-town feeling and cool monsters.

WiddershinsA reclusive scholar. A private detective. And a book of spells that could destroy the world.

Love is dangerous. Ever since the tragic death of the friend he adored, Percival Endicott Whyborne has ruthlessly suppressed any desire for another man. Instead, he spends his days studying dead languages at the museum where he works. So when handsome ex-Pinkerton Griffin Flaherty approaches him to translate a mysterious book, Whyborne wants to finish the job and get rid of the detective as quickly as possible.

Griffin left the Pinkertons after the death of his partner. Now in business for himself, he must investigate the murder of a wealthy young man. His only clue: an encrypted book that once belonged to the victim.

As the investigation draws them closer, Griffin’s rakish charm threatens to shatter Whyborne’s iron control. But when they uncover evidence of a powerful cult determined to rule the world, Whyborne must choose: to remain safely alone, or to risk everything for the man he loves.

Widdershins is the first novel in the Whyborne & Griffin series, where magic, mystery, and m/m romance collide with Victorian era America. Buy it today and join the adventure.

https://books2read.com/Widdershins

Rattlesnake by Kim Fielding

If you’re in the mood for a small town, look no further.

RattlesnakeA drifter since his teens, Jimmy Dorsett has no home and no hope. What he does have is a duffel bag, a lot of stories, and a junker car. Then one cold desert night he picks up a hitchhiker and ends up with something more: a letter from a dying man to the son he hasn’t seen in years.

On a quest to deliver the letter, Jimmy travels to Rattlesnake, a small town nestled in the foothills of the California Sierras. The centerpiece of the town is the Rattlesnake Inn, where the bartender is handsome former cowboy Shane Little. Sparks fly, and when Jimmy’s car gives up the ghost, Shane gets him a job as handyman at the inn.

Both within the community of Rattlesnake and in Shane’s arms, Jimmy finds an unaccustomed peace. But it can’t be a lasting thing. The open road continues to call, and surely Shane—a strong, proud man with a painful past and a difficult present—deserves better than a lying vagabond who can’t stay put for long.

https://books2read.com/Rattlesnake

Coming Home by M.J. O’Shea

I reread this some time ago, and it has the whole coming back to the hometown you tried to escape thing going.

Coming HomeIt’s not always easy to start over where everyone knows you… especially when the hottest guy you’ve ever seen already hates your guts.

Tallis Carrington ruled Rock Bay with his gang of jocks and an iron fist – until a scandal destroyed his family’s name. Ten years later, Tallis is dead broke, newly homeless, and on the walk of shame to end all walks of shame. Rock Bay is the only home he knows, but the people in town haven’t forgotten him – or the antics of a spoiled brat who’d had everything handed to him.

The only person in town willing to overlook his past is Lex, the new coffee shop owner, who offers Tally a job even though he appears to despise Tally on repuation alone. When Tally discovers his gorgeous boss is the kid he tortured back in school, his ice cold routine finally makes sense. Now, Tally has to pull out all the stops to prove he was never really the jerk he seemed to be.

After all, if he can win Lex’s heart, the rest of town should be a piece of coffee cake.

https://books2read.com/ComingHomeOshea

Once Upon a Haunted Moor by Harper Fox

Creepy things on the moor. This is a missing-child mystery with a psychic and a small-town cop.

Once Upon a Haunted MoorGideon Frayne has spent his whole working life as a policeman in the village of Dark on Bodmin Moor. It’s not life in the fast lane, but he takes it very seriously, and his first missing-child case is eating him alive. When his own boss sends in a psychic to help with the case, he’s gutted – he’s a level-headed copper who doesn’t believe in such things, and he can’t help but think that the arrival of clairvoyant Lee Tyack is a comment on his failure to find the little girl.

But Lee is hard to hate, no matter how Gideon tries. At first Lee’s insights into the case make no sense, but he seems to have a window straight into Gideon’s heart. Son of a Methodist minister, raised in a tiny Cornish village, Gideon has hidden his sexuality for years. It’s cost him one lover, and he can’t believe it when this green-eyed newcomer stirs up old feelings and starts to exert a powerful force of attraction.

Gideon and Lee begin to work together on the case. But there are malignant forces at work in the sleepy little village of Dark, and not only human ones – Gideon is starting to wonder, against all common sense, if there might be some truth in the terrifying legend of the Bodmin Beast after all. As a misty Halloween night consumes the moor, Gideon must race against time to save not only the lost child but the man who’s begun to restore his faith in his own heart.

https://books2read.com/Once-Upon-a-Haunted-Moor

When All the World Sleeps by Lisa Henry and J.A. Rock 

This has a darker tone than the ones I’ve mentioned above, though Widdershins isn’t exactly light-hearted, but here we have murder and bullying and nightmares.

When All the World SleepsDaniel Whitlock is terrified of going to sleep. And rightly so: he sleepwalks, with no awareness or memory of his actions. Including burning down Kenny Cooper’s house—with Kenny inside it—after Kenny brutally beat him for being gay. Back in the tiny town of Logan after serving his prison sentence, Daniel isolates himself in a cabin in the woods and chains himself to his bed at night.

Like the rest of Logan, local cop Joe Belman doesn’t believe Daniel’s absurd defense. But when Bel saves Daniel from a retaliatory fire, he discovers that Daniel might not be what everyone thinks: killer, liar, tweaker, freak. Bel agrees to control Daniel at night—for the sake of the other townsfolk. Daniel’s fascinating, but Bel’s not going there.

Yet as he’s drawn further into Daniel’s dark world, Bel finds that he likes being in charge. And submitting to Bel gives Daniel the only peace he’s ever known. But Daniel’s demons won’t leave him alone, and he’ll need Bel’s help to slay them once and for all—assuming Bel is willing to risk everything to stand by him.

https://books2read.com/When-All-the-World-Sleeps

Whitetail Rock by Anne Tenino

This is a freebie, and I don’t remember all that much about it to be honest, but I love Too Stupid to Live which is the third and last story in this series, because who doesn’t love to play highlander with their boyfriend? Sam 🥰

Whitetail RockNikhil “Nik” Larson is a snarky, dark-skinned adoptee from India who grew up in the Whitest Town in America. Back to visit his parents Nik meets Trooper Jurgen Dammerung, a blond, butch motorcycle cop who’s so hot he leaves a con trail wherever he goes.

Jurgen is the epitome of everything Nik hated about growing up the lone Indian boy among a town of white people. But Jurgen surprises him rather (ahem) pleasantly, in spite of — or because of — Nik’s attempts to needle him. By the end of his visit, Nik realizes he likes Jurgen. But Jurgen’s so not the relationship type.

Right?

Read here

Know Not Why by Hannah Johnson

This is a YA/NA book, and I don’t read a lot of those, but this has a special place in my heart, though it’s many years since I read it.

41d3avw8psl._sy346_Howie gets a job at Artie Kraft’s Arts ‘N Crafts hoping to score with his lady coworkers. After all, girls love a sensitive guy, and what’s more sensitive than dedicating your life to selling yarn and … stuff? (Okay, so maybe it’d be a good idea to actually learn what one sells at an arts ‘n crafts store.) But things don’t go exactly according to plan. Coworker #1 is Kristy: blonde, bubbly, unattainable perfection. Coworker #2 is Cora: tiny, much-pierced, and way too fierce to screw with in any sense. And Coworker #3 is, well, Arthur. It goes without saying that he’s not an option. Right?

… Right?

Yeah, Howie’s life just got straight up confusing.

Pun intended.

https://books2read.com/KnowNotWhy

In the Middle of Somewhere by Roan Parrish

This story has a lot of small-town charm… and other qualities 😁

In The Middle of SomewhereDaniel Mulligan is tough, snarky, and tattooed, hiding his self-consciousness behind sarcasm. Daniel has never fit in—not at home in Philadelphia with his auto mechanic father and brothers, and not at school where his Ivy League classmates looked down on him. Now, Daniel’s relieved to have a job at a small college in Holiday, Northern Michigan, but he’s a city boy through and through, and it’s clear that this small town is one more place he won’t fit in.

Rex Vale clings to routine to keep loneliness at bay: honing his muscular body, perfecting his recipes, and making custom furniture. Rex has lived in Holiday for years, but his shyness and imposing size have kept him from connecting with people.

When the two men meet, their chemistry is explosive, but Rex fears Daniel will be another in a long line of people to leave him, and Daniel has learned that letting anyone in can be a fatal weakness. Just as they begin to break down the walls keeping them apart, Daniel is called home to Philadelphia, where he discovers a secret that changes the way he understands everything.

https://books2read.com/In-the-middle-of-somewhere

Murder at Pirate’s Cove by Josh Lanyon

Cosy mystery? By the sea? If that’s not enough, I’ll up the stakes and mention that our main character owns a bookshop.

Murder at Pirate's CoveEllery Page, aspiring screenwriter, Scrabble champion and guy-with-worst-luck-in-the-world-when-it-comes-to-dating, is ready to make a change. So when he learns he’s inherited both a failing bookstore and a falling-down mansion in the quaint seaside village of Pirate’s Cove on Buck Island, Rhode Island, it’s full steam ahead!

Sure enough, the village is charming, its residents amusingly eccentric, and widowed police chief Jack Carson is decidedly yummy (though probably as straight as he is stern). However, the bookstore is failing, the mansion is falling down, and there’s that little drawback of finding rival bookseller–and head of the unwelcoming-committee–Trevor Maples dead during the annual Buccaneer Days celebration.

Still, it could be worse. And once Police Chief Carson learns Trevor was killed with the cutlass hanging over the door of Ellery’s bookstore, it is.


**This story contains NO on-screen sex or violence.

https://books2read.com/Murder-At-Pirates-Cove

Spirited Situation by Louisa Masters

Ghosts! I’ve been meaning to read the second book in this series, and now I saw there is a third coming. I always fail with series. Sigh.

Spirited SituationWhen you can talk to ghosts, things are bound to get spirited.

The ghosts have been there since before I can remember. When I was a kid, they doted on me, but as I got older, they got more demanding. I’ve spent my whole life seeing and talking to dead people and trying to pretend I’m not, because the living just don’t understand. Nobody wants to be around the freak who claims to see ghosts.

Until I go to Mannix Estate.

Once a private country home, then a posh hotel, it was closed after a suspicious incident but is now an immersive historic experience. It’s also haunted AF, and everyone knows it. Finally, I’ve found a place to work and live where I can be useful. Where I’m actually wanted.

There are only two problems: I spent a hot, sweaty, satisfying night with Ewan the blacksmith before I knew we’d have to work together. Everyone knows sex with colleagues is a bad idea, right? Even if he’s the world’s most ripped cinnamon roll.

Plus, the ghosts are keeping secrets. There’s something going on that’s not normal, even for a haunted estate. And I suspect that when the truth comes out, I’m the one who’ll have to deal with it… and it won’t be good.

https://books2read.com/SpiritedSituation

Into This River I Drown by T.J. Klune

I cried my eyes out when I read this the first time, I don’t think I’d be able to read it now. A lot of grief here, but also a tiny town.

Into This River I drownFive years ago, Benji Green lost his beloved father, Big Eddie, who drowned when his truck crashed into a river. All called it an accident, but Benji thought it more. However, even years later, he is buried deep in his grief, throwing himself into taking over Big Eddie’s convenience store in the small town of Roseland, Oregon. Surrounded by his mother and three aunts, he lives day by day, struggling to keep his head above water.

But Roseland is no ordinary place.

With ever-increasing dreams of his father’s death and waking visions of feathers on the surface of a river, Benji’s definition of reality is starting to bend. He thinks himself haunted, but whether by ghosts or memories, he can no longer tell. It’s not until the impossible happens and a man falls from the sky and leaves the burning imprint of wings on the ground that he begins to understand that the world around him is more mysterious than he could have possibly imagined. It’s also more dangerous, as forces beyond anyone’s control are descending on Roseland, revealing long hidden truths about friends, family, and the man named Calliel who Benji is finding he can no longer live without.

https://books2read.com/IntoThisRiverIDrown

My Small-Town Romances

Not all, because as I mentioned above, a big chunk of my catalogue is small-town romances. Pretty much all of them, actually, but the Up North stories are tiny tiny towns 😊

aroundseven

Oswald Sattle has been sleeping in his Toyota Camry for the last 273 days, the exact number of days since he discovered his fiancé cheating on him. Now, out of money and out of options, he’s on his way to Nortown. Aiden, an acquaintance from his past, has offered him a job opportunity he can’t turn down, no matter how much he’d like to.

Joshua Roth moved to Nortown four years ago, and he has everything he needs — a job, friends, peace and quiet. He’s not looking for a boyfriend; no one even knows he’s gay, and he’d like it to stay that way. Everything changes when he offers Oswald a place to stay, though.

Oswald looks like he wants to run away, and Josh finds himself suggesting things that will make him stay. All he wants is for Oswald to smile. Oswald doesn’t want to overstay his welcome, but nothing soothes his nerves like being with Joshua in his cabin.

How long can Oswald stay before it’s time to move on again? Can Joshua have Oswald staying with him without the whole town talking about them? Probably not, but does he care?

https://books2read.com/AroundSeven

onceinmay

In an attempt to run from his past, John Welsh has spent the last few years building walls around himself. He knows the best way to stay safe is to keep people at arm’s length and preferably out of sight. During weak moments, he might wish he had someone, but he’s not ready. After all, it takes seven years for the body to replace all its cells. He has four years to go before he’s new.

Zachary Fane is always on the move, always on his way to somewhere. He’s going from job to job, from country to country. Contrary to what people might think, he wants nothing more than to find a place to call home, and he knows just where. This time, he is ready. This time, he will stay in Nortown. This time, things will be different. But when he arrives to buy the log cabin he believed would be his, he finds it inhabited. When he goes to talk to the new owner, he is met by the most beautiful green eyes followed by a door slammed in his face.

John should’ve known the peace he’s found in Nortown wouldn’t last. One day everything is fine, the next a mountain of a man shows up wherever he goes. All Zachary wants is to be close to the quiet man who has moved into his cabin. If following him around is the only way, then so be it. Sooner or later, John will get used to having him there … at least, if Zachary hangs around long enough.

Includes the short story, “Honey Baked.”

https://books2read.com/OnceInMay

Crazy Joe

Abe Cooper is starting over. For fifteen years he’s lived the life that was expected of him, but not anymore. He’s packed up his things, bought himself a cabin in Northfield, and managed to secure a job at the local high school teaching gym and coaching the football team. But his new beginning didn’t include running into Crazy Joe on his first trip to the grocery store.

Jonas Raghnall has everything he needs — good friends and a job he loves. He’s worked hard to get over what happened sixteen years ago, but one run-in with his past and all the memories come flooding back. Seeing Abe Cooper, The Abe Cooper, sets everything out of balance.

Abe had pictured a fresh start with no ties to his past, but now that Jonas is there, he wants nothing more than to be close to the man who had butterflies filling his belly when he was in high school. Jonas doesn’t want to come face to face with his past, but if he sees Abe every day, it’s not really meeting up with your past, is it? It’s more like a date with your future.

https://books2read.com/CrazyJoe