Wrap-Up Wednesday | December

The last Wrap-Up Wednesday of the year! It’s been a busy month, and I’ve tried to escape by reading books – old books. Books I’ve already read because my poor brain can’t take in anything new right now LOL

December should be the month when you read a lot of holiday stories. I haven’t. I’ve read one which you’ll see below. Other than that I’ve read a few M/F stories. I re-read the first two books in Patricia Briggs’ Alpha & Omega series, but while I like Charles, that series fails to grab me. And I read the first book in The Legends of Regia series by Tenaya Jayne but lost my way halfway through the second. Series. Very few series manage to hold my attention.

Oh, and I read Moonshadow by Thea Harrison. I would’ve continued that series, but when I checked out book two and saw who it was about, I didn’t LOL.

I also read The Duke by Gaelen Foley, but… eh…

Okay, onto the M/M books!

How to Cheat at Dirty Santa by Amy Spector

The one and only Christmas story I’ve read this month! This is cute,  such an adorable story about Jonah who has a crush on his colleague, Nathan, and when it’s time for the yearly dirty Santa game at the office, he asks his friends for help to get his present in Nathan’s hands. It spirals out of control, of course, and the plan gets more and more complicated and more and more people get involved. Hilarious. And I loved the ending!

How to Cheat at Dirt SantaSome things are worth risking the naughty list.

Jonah Newfeld is not someone men fall for at a glance. They have to get to know him first. So when he meets the perfect man, he knows he needs to play the long game.

Nathan Sharp is the newest guy on the customer service floor. He’s clever, kind, blessedly single, and volunteers weekends at a local animal shelter. Jonah wants to raise babies with him. But when Nathan’s sister starts trying to fix him up with her veterinarian, Jonah’s dream is put into jeopardy.

Jonah needs the perfect plan if he wants to win over the man of his dreams. But a terrible plan will have to do, and more than a little help from his friends. If Jonah can pull it off and manage to get the boy, it’ll be more than worth being put on Santa’s naughty list for good.

books2read.com/howtocheatatdirtysanta 

A Charm of Magpies

I was in the mood for a paranormal story, and I hadn’t read the third story in the A Charm of Magpies series by K.J. Charles, but I wanted to. You know series… Anyway, it’s been many years since I read the first, then I read the second a few years ago. I remember putting littlest down for a nap, and she never could fall asleep unless I stayed in the room, so I started reading it. Littlest turns six next week. So I decided to re-read the first two before reading the third. And lo and behold, I read through the entire series. It’s awesome!

And I love the covers.

The Magpie Lord

A lord in danger. A magician in turmoil. A snowball in hell.

Exiled to China for twenty years, Lucien Vaudrey never planned to return to England. But with the mysterious deaths of his father and brother, it seems the new Lord Crane has inherited an earldom. He’s also inherited his family’s enemies. He needs magical assistance, fast. He doesn’t expect it to turn up angry.

Magician Stephen Day has good reason to hate Crane’s family. Unfortunately, it’s his job to deal with supernatural threats. Besides, the earl is unlike any aristocrat he’s ever met, with the tattoos, the attitude… and the way Crane seems determined to get him into bed. That’s definitely unusual.

Soon Stephen is falling hard for the worst possible man, at the worst possible time. But Crane’s dangerous appeal isn’t the only thing rendering Stephen powerless. Evil pervades the house, a web of plots is closing round Crane, and if Stephen can’t find a way through it—they’re both going to die.

https://books2read.com/MagpieLord

A Case of Possession

Magic in the blood. Danger in the streets.

Lord Crane has never had a lover quite as elusive as Stephen Day. He knows Stephen’s job as justiciar requires secrecy, but the magician is doing his disappearing act more than seems reasonable—especially since Crane will soon return to his home in China. When a blackmailer threatens to expose their illicit relationship, there’s only one thing stopping Crane from leaving the country he loathes: Stephen.

Stephen has problems of his own. As he investigates a plague of giant rats sweeping London, his sudden increase in power, boosted by his blood-and-sex bond with Crane, is rousing suspicion that he’s turned warlock. With all eyes on him, the threat of exposure grows. Stephen could lose his friends, his job and his liberty over his relationship with Crane. He’s not sure if he can take that risk much longer. Crane isn’t sure if he can ask him to.

The rats are closing in, and something has to give…

https://books2read.com/ACaseOfPossession

Flight of Magpies

Danger in the air. Lovers on the brink.

With the justiciary understaffed, a series of horrifying occult murders to be investigated, and a young student flying off the rails, magical law enforcer Stephen Day is under increasing stress. And the strain is starting to show in his relationship with his aristocratic lover, Lord Crane.

Crane chafes at the restrictions of England’s laws, and there’s a worrying development in the blood-and-sex bond he shares with Stephen. A development that makes a sensible man question if they should be together at all.

Then a devastating loss brings the people he most loves into bitter conflict. Old enemies, new enemies, and unexpected enemies are painting Stephen and Crane into a corner, and the pressure threatens to tear them apart…

https://books2read.com/FlightofMagpies

Between Sinners and Saints by Marie Sexton

I don’t know how many times I’ve read this. Four is my guess. I didn’t mean to read it this time, but I felt a little lost after I’d read the Magpies, and hubby got me a new phone and I didn’t have all my books so I was scrolling through my kindle app (I normally read on apple books, but my new phone is an android and all my books were gone and I was panicking and so on) and there it was.

I was going to bed and thought I’d just read the first chapter or so and then the next day, I’d sort out the book situation. I ended up reading the entire book, not that night, but the next day I continued it instead of sorting the book situation.
It’s funny because I normally steer clear of all books with a religious theme, but I like this one. Though Levi’s family pisses me off to no end.

Between Sinners and SaintsLevi Binder is a Miami bartender who cares about only two things: sex and surfing. Ostracized by his Mormon family for his homosexuality, Levi is determined to live his life his own way, but everything changes when he meets massage therapist Jaime Marshall.

Jaime is used to being alone. Haunted by the horrors of his past, his only friend is his faithful dog, Dolly. He has no idea how to handle somebody as gorgeous and vibrant as Levi.

Complete opposites on the surface, Levi and Jaime both long for something that they can only find together. Through love and the therapeutic power of touch, they’ll find a way to heal each other, and they’ll learn to live as sinners in a family of saints.

https://books2read.com/BetweenSinnersAndSaints

Treasure by Kim Fielding

Now that I’d read Between Sinners and Saints, I was missing the ocean. I think it’s time to move. Moving away from the sea wasn’t our best idea and I miss it a lot.

It’s been years since I read this one, but it’s such a… cosy might be the wrong word, but the small-town charm and the weird characters, imps and dragons, and there are pirates! What’s not to love?

TreasureJulian Massey has always been sickly. When the young man’s parents send him to the seaside town of Urchin Cove to recuperate, he finds himself stranded in a tiny cabin with only the quirky local inhabitants for company. Then a storm blows through, and he finds an unexpected discovery washed up on the beach: an unconscious man.

After stealing a treasure, Kit Archer is taken prisoner by a ruthless pirate, Captain Booth. When a storm hits the pirate ship, Kit is able to escape, but not without serious injuries. Jules nurses him back to health, and friendship grows into desire. But Captain Booth is bound to come in search of his treasure and the man who stole it.

In a world with dragons, sprites, and wizards, it’s going to take more than a little magic for Jules and Kit to find lasting happiness together.

https://books2read.com/TreasureKim

Yakuza Pride by H.J. Brues

Hubby and I were watching Giri / Haji on Netflix, so I figured when I was all about rereading old books, why not reread Yakuza Pride? I remember loving it when I read it waaaayyyy back when. I still love the story, but man the epithets. Every time the yakuza looked at the American a part of my soul died. I know it’s a ‘me problem’, but I just wish writers would stop doing this to their stories. The smaller man has a name, the American has a name, and I bet ya the older man does too.

Still yakuza, tattoos, torture, and artists!

Yakuza PrideWhen yakuza underboss Shigure Matsunaga meets Kenneth Harris at a boring social event, he’s surprised to find himself attracted to the blond gaijin with the mismatched eyes. Shigure is even more pleased when he discovers Ken not only speaks Japanese fluently, but is fluent in Japan’s ways, even the more violent of the martial arts. Ken’s expertise at kendo is not his most striking quality—it’s the passion beneath his quiet, almost fragile exterior that ignites Shigure’s lust, and the two come together as explosively as they spar.

Shigure is a dangerous man in a dangerous position. He’s been trying to keep the peace with the Daito-kai—his hated rivals—but the danger on the streets is escalating, threatening those Shigure most wants to protect. He may claim to love his gaijin, but before he can keep Ken safe, Shigure will have to overcome hostility from his people, a hidden enemy, and, the most insidious opponent of all, his own hard-won pride. 

https://books2read.com/YakuzaPride

Captive Prince by C.S. Pacat 

I got cocky. If I’d read one series, what’s to say I couldn’t read another? Captive Prince is another one of those I read a very long time ago, and I’d read the first two but not the last. So I did a repeat of the magpie books, I reread the first two and then I read the last. 

For the most part, I disliked Laurent, but it’s a perfect balance really. Just when I think I can’t have more of him, he does something that makes my heart ache. I like the third story better than the first two, there were moments when I laughed, and I liked it better when Laurent and Damen weren’t hating each other. 

Who knows, soon I’ll tackle the Whyborne & Griffin series too. I’ve read the first two, but it was years ago LOL

Captive Prince

Damen is a warrior hero to his people, and the rightful heir to the throne of Akielos, but when his half brother seizes power, Damen is captured, stripped of his identity, and sent to serve the prince of an enemy nation as a pleasure slave.

Beautiful, manipulative and deadly, his new master Prince Laurent epitomizes the worst of the court at Vere. But in the lethal political web of the Veretian court, nothing is as it seems, and when Damen finds himself caught up in a play for the throne, he must work together with Laurent to survive and save his country.

For Damen, there is just one rule: never, ever reveal his true identity. Because the one man Damen needs is the one man who has more reason to hate him than anyone else . . .

https://books2read.com/CaptivePrince

Prince's Gambit

With their countries on the brink of war, Damen and his new master, Prince Laurent, must exchange the intrigues of the palace for the sweeping might of the battlefield as they travel to the border to avert a lethal plot.

Forced to hide his identity, Damen finds himself increasingly drawn to the dangerous, charismatic Laurent. But as the fledgling trust between the two men deepens, the truth of secrets from both their pasts is poised to deal them the crowning death blow . . .

https://books2read.com/PrincesGambit

Kings

The stunning conslusion of worldwide phenomenon—from the boldly original author of Captive Prince and Prince’s Gambit.

His identity now revealed, Damen must face his master Prince Laurent as Damianos of Akielos, the man Laurent has sworn to kill.

On the brink of a momentous battle, the future of both their countries hangs in the balance. In the south, Kastor’s forces are massing. In the north, the Regent’s armies are mobilising for war. Damen’s only hope of reclaiming his throne is to fight together with Laurent against their usurpers.

Forced into an uneasy alliance the two princes journey deep into Akielos, where they face their most dangerous opposition yet. But even if the fragile trust they have built survives the revelation of Damen’s identity—can it stand against the Regents final, deadly play for the throne?

https://books2read.com/KingsRising

Surfacing Again by A.L. Lester

Actually… I just realised that I lied when I said I’ve only read one Christmas story. I’ve read Surfacing Again, a short sapphic romance set on Lindisfarne, and it has otters! This is lovely. The cold wind of the sea and the warmth of Rowan’s cafe all mixed with holiday cosiness. And otters.

Surfacing again coverMelinda is staying on Lindisfarne for a Christmas break with her old friend when an unexpected argument leaves her alone for the holiday.

It’s the first Christmas since her mother died and the island’s peace and wild tranquillity bring balm to her wounded heart. Two chance meetings, first with a pair of wary otters and then with cafe-owner Rowan, bring her genuine joy.

Will her tentative relationship with Rowan survive the end of her holiday and the turning of the year?

A short sapphic Christmas story. With otters.

https://books2read.com/SurfacingAgain

Release Day | The Ruby Tooth

HolidaySaleJMS

It’s release day!!! The Ruby Tooth is released today, and it just so happens that there is a holiday sale over at JMS Books, so you can grab it for 40% off 🥳

I’m sure many of you are too busy today to read blogs, I know I am – when this post goes live, I’m at a birthday party since my sister knows nothing about planning babies. She had her first daughter on the 25th of December and her second on the 22nd – such a newbie mistake! I did much better and had my first on December 9th and my fourth on January 8th… 😆 And our dad’s birthday is on December 7th. So if you think December is hectic with the ordinary holiday crap, add a truckload of birthdays in the mix. Luckily, my nieces are still in the pink and glitter phase, so prezzies are pretty easy to buy 🥰

Anyway, the sale ends tomorrow, so if you don’t have time to do any shopping today, maybe you have a few minutes over tomorrow.

The Ruby Tooth is a short paranormal Christmas story I wrote for JMS Books’ in-house call Naughty or Nice. We were to pick one or the other, and I picked Nice. Ilya is a nice person, so nice that when he comes to The Ruby Tooth, a nightclub, the veritas at the door takes one look at his soul and shows him to the left side of the club.

Good people go to the left and bad to the right – just like with politics 😉

I don’t know if you remember, but back in… erm… June (had to check) I wrote a blog post about character names, and I didn’t have any with names starting with I, U, X or Y. So that was pretty much the goal with this story LOL

No, not only that, of course, but when it came to naming the characters, I decided to go with names starting with I and U, so Ilya and Ulric.

Ilya is a nice guy, as we established since Nice was the call, and Ulric thinks he is nice, but every time he visits The Ruby Tooth, he’s shown to the right side.

I had a great time writing this story, and I thought I’d leave you with the first chapter below.

Merry Christmas 🎄

Blurb: 

therubytoothIlya Lewis is gonna kill his best friend Vera. She not only persuaded him off his couch and into the creepiest nightclub in the city, she also didn’t show. When Ilya learns the bar is split into two halves, and he’s been let into the wrong side, it doesn’t make things any better. Once the doorman determines which half to let you into, he won’t let you into the other.  

Ulric Moon hates the Ruby Tooth. But as a bounty hunter, he must go where the trails lead him, and tonight it’s landed him in the worst nightclub in the universe. All he wants is to catch the vampire he’s hunting, but despite trying to convince the veritas doorman examining his soul that he needs to be let into the good side of the club, he’s shown to the bad. As if that wasn’t enough, his destined mate somehow manages to sneak into the bad side where he doesn’t belong. Ilya finds a way to the other side of the bar, but one look at the patrons there has him regretting ever leaving his apartment. When he tries to leave, a scary-looking man who does nothing but growl follows him.  

Ulric knows he’s freaking Ilya out, but Ilya has inadvertently caught the interest of the vampire Ulric is hunting, and he has to protect him. How will Ulric keep Ilya safe when he doesn’t believe Ulric is a bounty hunter? And how do you tell someone they’re your mate when they don’t believe you’re a werewolf? 

Buy links: 

Gay Paranormal Romance: 11,834 words 

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

Chapter 1

Ulric Moon cut the line in front of a drunk human woman barely old enough to be out after dark. He hated The Ruby Tooth, for not only did it have the most ridiculous name a nightclub could have, but it was also the only bar where all species under the sky were allowed to mix. Insane.

There were several nightclubs named The Ruby Tooth spread over the country, and they always smelled of disaster. Nothing good ever came of interspecies hook-ups. Especially since most humans believed they were the only species going to nightclubs on this crumbling planet.

If a shifter and a vamp wanted to get their rocks off together, Ulric had no problems with that—though he should have since vampires… But to throw humans in the mix? Begging for trouble was what it was.

He neared the veritas working the door. Creepy creatures. They took one look at your soul and decided if you were good or bad—no gray areas in their world. Ulric did bad things for a good cause; that made him good in his book.

“To the right.” The veritas, a large, heavily tattooed male, gestured for him to go to the right. Bad people were shown to the right. It was the reason the council had approved a mixed clientele. The veritas owning the chain had argued no innocent would be harmed since the patrons would be divided. Good people didn’t kill each other, no matter what species they were—or that was their argument, anyhow.

Ulric didn’t agree. Most murders were accidents.

Not the kind he was trying to put a stop to—those were deliberate, but to believe it couldn’t happen simply because the people mingling had good souls was naive.

“I need to go to the left today. Work purposes.” He hated this place. It didn’t matter in what city he was; he hated The Ruby Tooth.

The man shook his head. “To the right.”

Ulric sighed. There was no getting around a veritas when they’d decided in what direction someone should go.

“Look.” He didn’t want to reveal what he did for a living, but considering who he was talking to… “I’m hunting an evil guy. I can allow that I’m mildly bad at times, but the man I’m looking for is epically bad.”

“Then he went to the right.” The veritas gestured toward the hidden door to the right again.

“Point, but he preys on the pure, so he’ll be hunting on the other side.”

The veritas didn’t speak, he only stared at Ulric with an impassive face.

Fucking waste of time.

He pushed through the door and wrinkled his nose as the scent of shifters, vampires, and magic users washed over him. The bar was so dark a human would have a hard time walking around without bumping into things, but then, there weren’t too many humans here.

When someone called his name, he raised his hand in greeting without checking who it was. There was no one he wanted to speak to anyway.

It was the downside of having a job leading you to your hometown—people recognized you. On the other hand, he planned on sleeping in his own bed tonight, and it had been a couple of weeks since he did, so he was looking forward to it.

If he could find this fucker and end it, he could sleep in his bed for several nights, weeks even, before he needed to take on another job.

He made it to the bar, nodded to the wolf shifter working there, and ordered a whiskey. The poor bastard wore a Santa hat. When he placed the tumbler on the spotless surface, Ulric raised a questioning eyebrow and gave a slight nod at the hat.

“Dress-up night.”

“Fuck.” Ulric looked around. The woman next to him—human—he couldn’t pick up any scent of magic, but he assumed she had some or the poor girl wouldn’t survive long on this side of the club—wore a skimpy Mrs. Santa suit. Or it was more like Santa’s dirty little secret than Mrs. Santa, but that was most likely the point. He grimaced and turned back to the bartender.

“Calm night?”

He shrugged. “Many hours to go and most humans haven’t shown yet. The trouble usually doesn’t start until the humans have had a few drinks.”

Too true. Then the vampires would get hungry, the shifters frisky, and the humans obnoxious. Ulric wanted to go home. He wanted away from all the people, wanted to be in his remote cabin where nothing but the sound of the wind rustling through the trees imposed on the calm.

He pushed away from the bar and went to find a dark corner to observe as the night escalated.

* * * *

Ilya Lewis was gonna kill Vera. First, she’d forced him to come to this creepy place. On dress-up night. Wearing a costume she’d picked. Then she didn’t show.

He’d circled the place three times, but she was nowhere to be seen.

The way the doorman had made them go in one at a time, only to stare at them for several seconds, still had Ilya shuddering. He wanted to complain, needed to tell Vera she’d been wrong about this being a nice club.

It wasn’t nice.

Everything seemed staged. It could have been because everyone was walking around dressed up as Santa or a reindeer, and a couple of women had Christmas tree dresses. No elves.

He grabbed his phone, which wasn’t easy considering he was wearing an elf suit—leggings didn’t have pockets, so he’d put his phone in a passport holder he had around his neck, hidden underneath the moss green tunic.

It rang several times and he was about to hang up when there was a crackling.

“Ilya, if you’re calling to cancel, I’m coming there, and I will be dragging you out by your balls, you hear?”

Ilya blinked. “Vera?”

“There is no one I know here. They said at work they’d all come.” She sighed.

“I’m here, but I can’t find you.”

She was silent for a few seconds. “I can’t see you. It’s really fucking dark in here.”

Ilya tilted his head toward the ceiling—several light fixtures were giving the room a soft but comfortable glow. “It’s light where I am.”

“You’re at The Ruby Tooth, right? You didn’t go somewhere else?”

He sighed. “I’m here, but—”

“I can’t see you.”

“I’m right next to the bar.” He took three steps to the right so he wasn’t lying.

“I’m at the bar. Sitting on a stool with a drink I didn’t ask for.”

In his experience, she never turned down a drink. “Isn’t it good?”

His gaze swept over the bar, there were no stools. It was a large, curved bar with two bartenders behind it, both wearing Santa hats and both smiling and nodding to the club goers.

“There are no stools at this bar.”

Vera went quiet. “There must be two bars then.”

Relieved laughter escaped Ilya. There were two bars—of course there were. “I’ll come find you, stay by the bar.”

“Will do, darling.”

He winced at her dragged-out darling and hung up before putting the phone back in the passport holder and getting it to look good underneath the tunic. He looked like he had a starring role in Lord of the Rings rather than a creature from Santa’s workshop. Vera had found it highly amusing. A fairy suit for the fairy.

He’d stopped being offended a long time ago.

They’d been friends for an eternity. When the mean kids in school had picked on him, Vera had beaten them to a pulp—an exaggeration, but there had been a nosebleed, and from that day on, she’d been feared.

He didn’t know what she saw in him—she mostly complained about how boring he was—but when her world fell apart, which happened to her more often than anyone else he knew, she came to him. She slept on his couch for a few nights, drank way too much booze, and cursed the world. She never cried. He was the one who cried. When his mother had died, when Anthony had left him, when he’d had to put Mr. Snuggles down three months ago… he cried, she cursed, but she held him until he didn’t have any tears left.

And that was what this dreadful night was all about. Other than to go to work, he hadn’t left his cramped apartment since Mr. Snuggles had died. Vera had finally lost her patience and nagged and threatened until he’d agreed to come.

With a sigh, he walked toward the entrance. The creepy doorman had shown him to the left, but maybe there was a room on the other side.

As soon as he neared the door, another doorman stepped out of the shadows.

“Leaving?”

“Ah… eh… no, I’m looking for my friend.”

The doorman gave him a blank look and gestured toward the bar. A chill slithered down Ilya’s spine. There was something off with the doormen. Maybe they were on drugs.

“Eh… restroom?”

The doorman gestured in the opposite direction from the bar.

“Thank you.” Ilya pretended to head in the direction of the restroom, but as soon as the doorman focused on someone else, he veered off closer to the bar again. There had to be another room somewhere.

When there was a gap at the bar, he stepped forward and waited until the bartender focused on him.

“What can I get you?”

“I, eh… mineral water, please.”

The man smiled. “Lemon?”

“Please.” He had a nice smile, and Ilya found himself smiling back. “Hey, I’m meeting a friend here, but she’s at the other bar. How do I get there?”

The bartender froze. “You don’t. They divide you at the entrance.”

What the hell? Unease spread in his gut, but he did his best not to let it show. “Yes, I know, but I need to get to her.”

The bartender bit his lip and guilt swamped Ilya. He hated lying.

“They won’t let you in, but the kitchen has doors to both sides. You’re not supposed to go in there, though.”

Ilya nodded. “No, I understand. Thank you.”

The bartender smiled. “So, you’re here all alone?”

Ilya tried not to let his frown show. “No, I’m… My friend is here.”

The bartender’s smile dimmed some. “Oh, of course. I should have known a man like you wouldn’t be alone.”

A man like him? Ilya smiled, he couldn’t think of anything else to do, took his glass of mineral water, and edged away.

The kitchen, how would he get into the kitchen?

Guest Post | The Santa Emergency by Nell Iris

Guest-Post

Today, the lovely Nell Iris is with us to talk about her story, The Santa Emergency, which will be released tomorrow. I’m so glad Nell is talking about glögg! This year, I made my own. Picked lingonberries and boiled with all the spices. Then I went a bit overboard as I tend to do at times, and made apple glögg (pretty nice) and chokeberry glögg (too sweet, but hubby added some vodka to it and then it turned just fine. He’s resourceful, my man 😆)

And now that Nell has got me talking glögg – Sorry, Nell – I have to say, that my granny always had glögg on midsummer. She invited her friends and they’d sit in the garden, a group of old ladies sipping glögg and eating gingerbread in June. I miss her dearly.

And with this, the longest welcoming intro in history – welcome, Nell! It’s lovely to have you here.


 

It’s me. Nell. I’m back, have you missed me? I’ve missed you! And I’ve missed our lovely hostess Ofelia, because I haven’t been in the morning office as much as I’d liked lately, so before I dive into what I’m here to talk about, I’m blowing a cyber kiss Ofelia’s way. Thanks for having me, you’re always so kind and generous. ❤️

Not that that’s over with, let’s talk books! I’m here to talk about my new holiday story The Santa Emergency. The story is full of Swedish holiday traditions, and you’ll find me around the internet talking about them, but I saved the most important one for you:

Glögg.

Mulled wine in Swedish is called glögg; it’s a shortened version of glödgat vin which means heated wine. The first written mention of glödgat vin in Swedish literature is from 1609, but drinking heated, spiced wine is an old tradition; even the ancient Greeks did it as it was a good way of covering the foul taste of a bad quality wine. But in Sweden, we’ve been drinking it at least since the Middle Ages, but it was only in the 19th century it became a Christmas related drink.

Swedes are crazy about glögg, and these days, we buy our mulled wine pre-spiced. According to statistics, we drink five million liters of glögg every year, which is a lot considering our population of not quite 10.5 million people and that we mostly drink it in December. There are several different varieties of glögg, made from red or white wine, some with added spirits like rum or brandy. Every year, the largest glögg producer Blossa, releases an annual seasonal glögg, a special blend flavored with something not traditionally in the recipe (in 2021 it’s oranges), and there’s even glögg bubbly which is disgusting, and I say this as someone who loves both glögg and bubbly.

We drink it in espresso-sized cups and add raisins and almonds and we have glögg parties with our friends where we serve finger food that goes with it.

In short; Swedes are crazy about glögg.

So when I decided to write a Christmas story set in Sweden, glögg needed to be a part of it. Main character Sigge in The Santa Emergency isn’t a huge fan of Christmas, but if there’s one thing about it he likes, it’s the glögg. So when Kristian comes knocking, frazzled because he has less than an hour to solve an emergency, Sigge invites him into his home and soothes his nerves with mulled wine.

Mulled wine

Blurb: 

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?

M/M Contemporary / 13 816 words

 

Buy links: 

JMS Books :: Amazon :: Books2Read

The Santa Emergency

About Nell

Nell Iris is a romantic at heart who believes everyone deserves a happy ending. She’s a bonafide bookworm (learned to read long before she started school), wouldn’t dream of going anywhere without something to read (not even the ladies room), loves music (and singing along at the top of her voice but she’s no Celine Dion), and is a real Star Trek nerd (Make it so). She loves words, bullet journals, poetry, wine, coffee-flavored kisses, and fika (a Swedish cultural thing involving coffee and pastry!)

Nell believes passionately in equality for all regardless of race, gender or sexuality, and wants to make the world a better, less hateful, place.

Nell is a bisexual Swedish woman married to the love of her life, a proud mama of a grown daughter, and is approaching 50 faster than she’d like. She lives in the south of Sweden where she spends her days thinking up stories about people falling in love. After dreaming about being a writer for most of her life, she finally was in a place where she could pursue her dream and released her first book in 2017.

Nell Iris writes gay romance, prefers sweet over angsty, short over long, and quirky characters over alpha males.

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Excerpt: 

I clear my throat, and ask, “So what’s the emergency? And come in properly, please. Can I get you a drink?”

Kristian follows me as I lead the way to the kitchen. “Yes, please. If you have anything hot, you’ll forever be my hero. I almost froze my ass off on my way over here.” 

I hum in understanding. The sun has been out all day and even though clouds have rolled in during the last hour or so, the temperature hasn’t risen above minus ten degrees. His suit doesn’t seem nearly thick enough to keep him warm even on the short walk between our houses. 

“Coffee?” I ask. “Or I have some mulled wine warming by the TV if you’d like?”

“Gawd, yes. That, please!”

I chuckle and grab another of the tiny cups for the mulled wine—the green one decorated with outlines of reindeer because it’s as whimsical as his Santa hat—from the cabinet, and nod in the direction of the den. “This way.” 

The mulled wine sits on the coffee table in a pot that looks like a laboratory flask, the round bottom part resting in a metal stand, and it’s kept warm by a flickering tealight. I grab the top part of the flask and pour some steaming wine into the reindeer cup and offer it to him. I gesture for him to sit as I retake my previous spot, refill my own tiny cup—this one red with white Christmas trees—then move the bowls containing raisins and almonds closer to him. “Help yourself.”

He wrinkles his nose at the raisins but adds a generous helping of nuts into his cup before taking a sip. “Ahhh. Just what I needed.”

I drink some myself and hum when the flavor hits my tongue. Mulled wine is the only Christmassy thing I like; my childhood Christmases meant too much booze and screaming matches—and fistfights if I was really unlucky—so the holidays hold no fond memories for me. I’m not a Grinch, I don’t hate Christmas, but I prefer to keep it out of my own space. I don’t decorate, I don’t listen to Christmas music or watch sappy holiday movies. I never do anything special on Christmas Eve; my friends try to talk me into joining them every year, but I don’t feel right about intruding on their family time. 

The mulled wine is the only exception, my only Christmas weakness; I love the flavors of cinnamon and cardamom and cloves, love the way it warms me from the inside, love the way it makes my house smell. Other than that, I usually spend my Christmases on the couch, ordering takeout, watching one black-and-white B-movie or another, and drinking mulled wine the traditional way, with raisins and almonds.

It seems my new neighbor shares my appreciation for the beverage, and he warms his hands on the cup between sips. It looks a little ridiculous; his long fingers wrapped around the tiny thing, trying to soak up what little bit of heat it offers, and I’m tempted to ask him if I should get him a big mug for the wine so he can properly warm his hands. “Tell me about your emergency,” I say instead. 

He gulps down the contents and turns to face me on the couch. “My mom broke her leg two weeks ago. We always do Christmas at her house, and she wanted us to this year, too, despite her injury. But she’s not the kind of person to sit idly by and let other people do all the work, especially since she doesn’t let anyone into her kitchen. She’d insist on business as usual, and she’d exhaust herself and risk re-injuring her leg. So my sister came up with the idea of Christmas at my house since I’m the only one in the family besides Mom living in a house and not an apartment.” He rolls his eyes. “Because Santa would surely strike us down with a mighty hammer if we celebrated Christmas in an apartment, right? I know I’m mixing my metaphors, but I’m trying to say that I’m sure the world wouldn’t end. I love my sister to death, but she has the weirdest ideas.” 

He speaks with his whole body; he gestures with his hands and his face is lively and animated, and I can easily read every emotion as he experiences them, even after only being in his presence for a few minutes. All that makes him even more irresistible. In a society where everything is about hiding the truth behind a pretty surface, meeting someone open is refreshing.

“Anyway,” he says, “that gave me two whole weeks to unpack my stuff and plan a party. Dammit, Sigge, I’m a copywriter, not a party planner!” 

Holy crap. He’s paraphrasing Star Trek, too? Is he perfect? 

“But I did all right. The food, the decorations, everything is perfect. Or you know…everything except that I forgot to convince someone to come play Santa. When my sister found out, she lectured me in her scariest hissing voice until I was overcome with the urge to run away from my own house. She said I must not love my nieces and nephews since I forgot about a Santa. Her blame game is on point.” He grimaces.

“I’d say.”

“It’s Christmas Eve, and Santa always comes after Donald Duck is over. I can’t believe I forgot. The kids reach meltdown level if someone needs to go to the bathroom after the TV is turned off, so I have exactly—” he looks at his watch and gasps “—thirty-five minutes until my sister declares me the worst uncle ever. You must help me. Pretty please with sugar on top.”

His eyes are wide and pleading, his eyebrows slumping sadly, and I swear I can detect a hint of a tremble in his lower lip. I reach out and ease the cup out of his hands and pour more mulled wine into it before handing it back to him. “Drink this.”