Guest Post | A Pint of Beer, A Bag of Chips, and Thou by JL Merrow


Today, JL Merrow is here to talk about A Pint of Beer, A Bag of Chips, and Thou, and make sure to read all the way down to the end *wink*

Christmas Magic

In this troubled year, I think we all need a touch of whimsy and of magic for Christmas, and my short story with a long title, A Pint of Beer, A Bag of Chips, and Thou, has a little of both. Young punk Liam is a busker on London Underground, and he has a serious crush on the silver fox who tosses him some change every evening on his way home from work—although they’ve never spoken. But Liam’s unconventional family may just manage to work a little Christmas magic to bring him and Neil together!

There’s long been a connection between Christmas and the supernatural. Victorians loved to read ghost stories during the season, wrapped up warmly in front of a roaring fire. Charles Dickens, who is in many ways responsible for our ideal of a “proper” Christmas, had elements of the supernatural in his Christmas Books, the most famous of which is, of course, A Christmas Carol. My tale is rather more modern, but I hope it hits a similar balance in teasing the reader with a hint of magic, while still leaving deniability plausible!

Here’s a short excerpt from A Pint of Beer, A Bag of Chips, and Thou:

I walked into the living room three days before Christmas to find the coven was in full swing.

In case you’re thinking that sounds a bit weird, I should maybe mention I was raised by witches. Three of them, which anyone who’s read their Macbeth (or their Pratchett, for that matter) will know is the only sensible, or even possible, number of witches. I grew up with my Mum, my Aunty Des and Aunty Mags, all of us living together in the little house in Camden that used to belong to my Granny, God rest her. I’m Liam, by the way. Pleasure to make your acquaintance. I’m the one solitary male in the household, unless you count the cats. And to be honest, they’re not as male as they used to be, poor things.

There is, in fact, a fourth sister, my Aunty Gerry. Rejected by the coven on the cruel grounds of numerical superfluity, she became an Anglican priest to spite them. Well, that’s how she tells it, anyway, although I can’t say I’ve noticed a great deal of spite in their relationships.

“I pray for their souls every night,” Aunty Gerry told me piously one evening not so long ago, before collapsing into very un-Reverend-like cackles and passing the gin.

A Pint of Beer, A Bag of Chips, and Thou


What’s the best gift a young, single man could receive for Christmas? Mohawked punk Liam wouldn’t have picked the hideous collection of homemade knitwear he’s presented with by his well-meaning mum and aunties. He’d much rather have the gorgeous older man he sees every day while busking at King’s Cross station. Liam’s been doing his best to seduce the guy with his saxophone playing—the trouble is, with the holidays coming up, he’s beginning to despair of his message getting through.

But with a little Christmas magic in the air, maybe those garish garments will be just the thing for attracting the attention of a silver fox…

JMS Books | Amazon 


This story is also available as part of the Stocking Stuffers bundle, and in the Winter Warmers and A Flirty Dozen anthologies.You can read a FREE mini-coda to this story on my website

JL Merrow is that rare beast, an English person who refuses to drink tea. She writes award-winning contemporary gay romance and mysteries, and is frequently accused of humour.

Find JL Merrow online at:, on Twitter as @jlmerrow, and on Facebook at


And for those who’ve read this far: I’m offering a free e-copy of A Pint of Beer, A Bag of Chips, and Thou to a randomly chosen commenter on this post. All you have to do to be in with a chance is to answer this question: Ugly Christmas sweaters: yes or no?

I’ll make the draw around teatime on Sunday 6th December, so be quick!


Release Day | 24 Dates by Ofelia Gränd

Release Day

It’s release day!!!

24 Dates was supposed to be a short Christmas story. I don’t know what I was thinking. The idea always was to write twenty-four dates, so I should’ve understood it wasn’t gonna turn out to be a 10k story. I should have, and yet I was surprised when it got be 38k.

Ah, well… 38k isn’t too long, and I had a great time writing it. I’m probably the least romantic person you’ve come across, so coming up with twenty-four dates wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t super hard either. I’m a bit sad that I’ve cleaned away the note where I scribbled down my ideas – I had ideas I didn’t use! LOL

In this story, we have Victor and Jian who’ve been a couple for years. Everything should be great. They’ve bought a house, moved to a new town, and should be in their happily ever after, but they’re not.

Jian is working all the time, and Victor hardly sees him awake anymore. They don’t talk, they don’t touch, and Victor fears they won’t last. Jian isn’t willing to give up, though. He has a plan – 24 Dates to woo his man.

24 Dates is an Up North story which means it’s standalone, contemporary, and takes place somewhere up north.


“Are you ready?”

Victor jumped. He’d been too occupied with his date planning to notice Jian coming out through the front door. “For?”

“Our date, of course.” A quick grin appeared on Jian’s lips before disappearing again, and Victor’s heart sped up. Damn, he’s hot.

“Erm… I guess it depends on what we’re doing. Do I need to change?” He gestured at himself. “Pee?”

“Pee might be good if you need to. There are no restrooms where we’re going. And put on shoes that don’t get wet…and maybe a beanie so you don’t freeze.”

Victor studied his expression for a second. “We’re going to be outdoors?”

Jian nodded, and Victor nodded in return before hurrying inside, rushing to the bathroom, changing shoes, putting on a beanie, and pushing some gloves into his pocket.

When he came back out again, Jian hadn’t rolled out the car. “Aren’t we going?”

“We are. We’re walking.” He offered Victor his arm.

Walking? Were they going to the cafe? “On Tuesday, do you have anything planned?”

Jian narrowed his eyes. “Why?”

“Sara and Jonas, at work, usually go out to grab a pizza and a beer at some point each month or every couple of weeks or so, and they asked if I wanted to come.”

Jian’s dark eyes sparkled. “You should go. I know you haven’t found anyone to hang out with here, and I’ve been worried about it. You’re a social guy.”

Victor stared and allowed Jian to guide him down the sidewalk and back toward the school again. Jian had worried? Victor hadn’t known. But Jian was right, he normally had a lot of friends, but he’d… he didn’t know why, but he hadn’t had the energy. He’d only wanted to spend time with Jian, but Jian hadn’t been available. Perhaps Victor had been blind; perhaps it was how their relationship had always been, only he hadn’t noticed before because he’d been too busy having a life of his own.

No, before they’d moved here, they’d done things together. They’d had sex regularly, and a kiss hadn’t been something Victor had to analyze. Kisses had been part of everyday life, not like now, when a kiss was so rare, it made Victor nervous to initiate one.

“Don’t you want to go with them?”

“What?” Victor’s eyes flew to Jian’s. “I do, why?”

“You were frowning.”

“Ah…” He grinned. “I was thinking.”


Victor took a deep breath. Did he want to ruin the date? No, but… “How we got here.”

“We walked.” Jian winked but seriousness wiped away the sparkles from his eyes. “I’ve been working too much, and you’ve been acclimating to our new home and your new job.”

“We’ve lived here for two years, Jian. How much acclimating does a person need?”

“I read a study claiming it takes about five years before you’ve built up a new social circle after you’ve moved somewhere. I didn’t break up from my old life. Or I did—I don’t hang out with our friends back in Cortland like we used to, but I still have the guys at work. You started over.”

“Yes, but we have each other, or we should have had each other.”

Jian nodded. “I’m sorry, babe.”

Victor nodded, his throat grew tight. He wanted to blame it all on Jian, but they were two in this relationship, and maybe he hadn’t done what he could to make it work.

Jian tugged at his arm and had them turn off the road going through the town center. First, one tiny snowflake slowly descended toward the ground, then more and more followed. Jian steered them toward the graveyard. They walked along the thick stone wall, and Victor held his breath as he took in the sea of lit candles. “Wow. Is it a special holiday?”

“I don’t think so.” Jian opened a wrought-iron gate and held it open for him. The graveyard was deserted apart from one old woman standing by a grave farther in.

“What are we doing here?” Victor whispered, not wanting to disturb the peace.

“We’re on a date.”

“In a graveyard?”

Jian wiggled his eyebrows, amusement shining in his eyes. “Do you know of a more beautiful place in Northfield?”

Victor breathed in deep, tasting the winter night. The candles looked like a starry sky had fallen to the ground, and the snow slowly came down in big flakes. “No.”

They walked up one of the trails and Victor squinted to read the large gravestones. This was an old part of the graveyard—the bigger the stone, the more important the person. “Look at this.” He tugged at Jian’s arm. “This man was the mayor. I didn’t know Northfield had a mayor.”

“We don’t anymore, I don’t think.”

“So cool.”

They walked past one grave after the other and all stress melted away from Victor. The winter wonderland stretched before him, all the beautiful wreaths and poinsettias people had left for their loved ones, the soft glow of the candles. “This is amazing.”

“Come.” Jian sat on a bench and held out his arm for Victor to sit next to him. Once he did, Jian pulled out a thermos cup from his inner pocket.

“We’re not getting drunk in a graveyard, are we?” Victor made wide eyes.

“No. I’ll save it for Halloween.” Jian chuckled. “It’s hot chocolate. I was looking at recipes for some cool Christmassy drinks, but there aren’t many hot ones, and we didn’t have the ingredients needed, so hot chocolate it is.”

“It’s perfect.”

Jian handed him the cup and pulled out another one from another pocket. Victor laughed. “Do you have anything else in there?”

“Why don’t you check?”

Victor chuckled and sipped on the chocolate. “This is beautiful.”

24 Dates in the JMS shop (20% off)

24datesWhen Victor Hill bought a house with his boyfriend, Jian Kouri it was a dream come true. But now, two years later, instead of living their happily ever after, they hardly see the other awake.

With Jian out the door before Victor gets up in the morning, and asleep on the couch nearly as soon as he walks in the door, the life Victor imagined couldn’t be further from reality. They don’t talk; they don’t touch, and Victor fears he and Jian have already drifted too far apart.

The holiday season is a time for hope, but when Victor comes home to find Jian with a plan to woo him for Christmas, is it too little, too late? The dates are great, and there are filled with Christmas fun to get Victor in the right spirit for the holiday, but are they enough for the two of them to fall in love again? Or is there just too much in their relationship that needs fixing?

Guest Post | The Sir by Marco May


Throughout December, I will have a few author friends drop by to tell you about their holiday books. First out is Marco May who is here to share an excerpt from his book The Sir – a May-December, BDSM, M/M (MMM+) story.

The Sir is part of the 2020 Top Ten Gay Romance anthology from JMS Books that will be published on December 30th


“Consider it at the very least. And don’t let me catch you staring at me like a horndog again, you hear me?”
I gave him a rushed nod. “Yes, Sir.” As soon as he loosened his grip, I was out in no time. I exited the gym and shivered my way toward my cheap car in the vast parking lot of the shopping plaza. My teeth chattered, and I couldn’t wait to get home.
I revved the engine until the car wouldn’t start. I tried again and again and again, and I slammed my fist on the steering wheel at the fear of my cheap-ass car dying on me again like last winter. “Fuck, not this shit again! Arghhh!” I rested my forehead against the wheel and blew a hard, visible breath. So much for trying my hardest to be independent. Why this all of a sudden? And why now? I just wanted to get home and go about my day as usual.
As soon as raindrops fell in thuds against the slightly cracked windshield, I knew now that my life grew a middle finger and waved it at me. Freezing rain. Of course this was happening. Of course, of course, of fucking course—
A hard knock on the driver’s window startled me.
I was taken aback to find Nicholas standing there with a large black umbrella over his head. He gestured for me to roll down my window, and I did. I let out a breath and tried to smile, but I wasn’t in the mood to give a detailed explanation. “My car just died again.”
“I see that. I take it you need a ride?”
I sniffled. “Please?” I didn’t care how tacky it was to take advantage of his offer so quickly. There was no way I was walking so many blocks home while the bus system wasn’t always reliable.
“Come on, Jacques.” He led the way.
I got out of my car and followed him without minding that I was getting rained on. Jacques, though? How had he known that? “Hey, how did you know my French name?”
“You made a big stink about it months ago at the front desk.”
Oh. That. It’d been the last time I’d made the request and had given up ever since. To be fair, my snobby coworkers had mocked me over it and assumed I was being pretentious. I might have gotten a bit defensive.
I sniffled and formed a stronger smile at Nicholas while hopping inside his warm luxury sedan, also in black. He called me Jacques, though. He called me that when he could’ve ignored it and called me Jack, instead. I sensed I’d never forget it for the rest of my life.
Nicholas revved the engine and remained quiet for a moment. He gave me his usual serious look. “Now, before I drive to where you live, would you like to see the job offer, or would you rather me take you straight home?”
“So…this job…you said it pays more?” I was intrigued and wondered if it was actually a good idea to check it out. I had nothing better to do than to hang out at home. Theresa would probably go out with her friends at some point.
“Much more.”
“But, like, how much?” I closed my legs just a tad to avoid showing my growing bulge. He drove me nuts so fast, it was unreal.
“What you make in a year, you could easily earn in a few paychecks.”
My eyebrows flew up, and I suddenly realized there was no way it could’ve involved cleaning or cooking. Yet he was still being rather obscure about this. “What’s the actual job, though?”
“You’ll know when you’re there, hence my question. I’m a very private person, so you’ll have to see for yourself.”
Nicholas was a regular at the gym and had even been offended by my treating him like a hot piece of meat. I imagined he was far safer and tamer than the jerks I’d met before.
I drew in a deep breath and blew gently. The idea of no longer having to work in cleaning for what could be a big chunk of my life was the most appealing part of the offer. I looked at him and offered a small smile. Always the type to let intrigue take control of my decisions, I gave him a nod. “Let’s see the job, then.”

the sirTwenty-year-old Jacques fantasizes about being with much older men. All the guys he’s been with around his own age just didn’t cut it, and the one man he’s been with who was older wasn’t old enough. He wants a true silver fox, and he’s more than willing to seek out one who attracts him the right way.

That’s when he meets Sir Nicholas, who might as well be a reimagined Santa stud. After an awkward encounter at the gym where Jacques works, Nicholas offers him a job that pays far more than his janitor position. He’s to be a kept sex slave to serve Nicholas — and whomever else the sexy Sir wants him to serve. Jacques eagerly accepts. After all, Nicholas is exactly the man he’s waited so long to find.

But the more he spends time with Nicholas, the more Jacques wants exclusivity. He’s determined to win his sexy silver fox over to monogamy. Will he manage to get what Nicholas doesn’t seem willing to give? Or will he be just another temporary toy?

About Marco:

Marco May has been a passionate writer since he was a teenager. Inspired by his past homoerotic drawings, he started writing erotica secretly not long after he’d started writing overall. He took a long hiatus to focus on his non-erotic works. He tried getting back into writing erotica, but he wasn’t inspired anymore. It wasn’t until 2017 when he wrote his first picfic, “Touchlessly Touched”, that drove him to continue writing erotica to a more dedicated level.

He started with Wattpad as a testing ground and did great there. He managed to write his biggest hit with The Hookups of Hickeyhook Hall, along with his second-biggest hit, Tamely Told. His third Wattpad release, an anthology of picfics titled Passionately Pictured, also did well. The stats of these works were what led him to believe he had a chance in the publishing world. He still writes non-erotic fiction, but he doesn’t mix them under the same pen name.

Aside from writing, Marco May also enjoys designing book and album covers, studying European languages, making electronic music, reading on his Kindle, and playing The Sims.