Guest Post | Resolutions for an Arbitrary Holiday by Nell Iris

Guest-Post

Happy New Year, everyone! In this very last post of the year, Nell Iris will tell us about her latest release. Nell and I are office buddies, and I remember back in the summer when she went on a day trip to a stone ship, Ale stenar. We talked about hubby and I going there the year before, and how cool it is to see those stones standing there in the middle of a field. Well, here we are, half a year later, and now there’s a story taking place by a stone ship!


Happy New Year to you all, and my lovely hostess. And thank you for letting me visit you on NYE to talk about my new release, Resolutions for an Arbitrary Holiday. It’s much appreciated.

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”Happy New Year, Petter. Here’s to being truer to ourselves.”

The narrator in Resolutions for an Arbitrary Holiday, Petter, is almost 30 years old and trapped in a job he doesn’t enjoy. Yes, it’s secure and sensible, like his parents like to remind him of, but his heart’s not in it. He craves a change, and after careful consideration, he quits his job to go back to university. He’s going to study history, his real passion.

I was Petter once. I was trapped in a job that stressed me out and killed my soul slowly but surely. I lived in the same small town where I was born, where my parents and my brother lived, and was starting to suspect I’d die there, too.

Just like Petter, I wanted change. So when the opportunity arose, I took it. I uprooted my life and moved from a tiny, sleepy Swedish town to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia where I slowly started healing my soul, where I started thinking about what I really wanted to do with my life now that I could choose freely.

And well. There was that old dream I’d nurtured since being a kid. The dream of being a writer. But I could never… I’m not good enough for… Who would wanna… I don’t know how…

Hello, Self-Doubt, my old foe. I never want to talk to you again.

I doubted myself so much I never spoke about it to anyone, not even my husband. But one day, when we were out to dinner, he said, I think you should write a book. You’d be great at it. Casually, just like those twelve little words and the ocean of confidence he had in me didn’t just change my entire life.

Poor Petter doesn’t have that kind of support…at least not until he meets Isak.

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Excerpt:

Are you the kind of person who makes resolutions?”

“Usually not.” I accept the lit sparkler he holds out to me. I’ve loved these things since I was a little kid, even more than fireworks, and up here, in the howling wind with a sky full of stars above my head, in the company of a kind stranger and huge ancient stones, they’re more beautiful than ever.

“But this year is different?”

“Yeah. I’m doing some…significant changes in my life this coming year, so I thought ‘why not?’ It can’t hurt, right? Even if I agree with you about the arbitrariness of this so-called holiday.”

“You do?”

“Sure. It’s not a thing we celebrate because of some natural phenomenon, like the solstice. It’s just to mark that the Earth has done another lap around the sun. I mean, that’s great and all, but why do we need to celebrate it?”

Isak’s face lights up in a wide grin. “Yes! This is what I always say when people complain because I refuse to embrace the spirit of the holiday.”

I return his smile. “Exactly!”

“I’ll drink to that. Finding a like-minded person makes it worth subjecting myself to this awfulness.” He takes another swig, face contorting, and then hands over the bottle to me.

“Are you trying to poison me?” I take the tiniest of drinks, barely enough to wet my mouth.

“Hey! You’re the one who brought it.”

“And I regret it deeply.”

The sparklers have gone out, and Isak lights a couple new ones, handing me one. “So tell me about your resolution.”

“You’ll think it’s stupid.” I avert my gaze, looking out over the ocean. Far away a tiny pinprick of light moves across the water. Who’s out in a boat now?

“I won’t. Promise.”

I follow the little prick of light as it moves away, and it’s easier to talk about it when I’m not looking at him. “I’m going to be more true to who I really am.”

Gently, he replaces the burned-out sparkler in my hand with a new one. “Why would I think that’s stupid?”

“Because people do. I’m almost thirty, I’m supposed to have reached that stage already in my life.”

“People assume a lot of shit, don’t they?”

I take my eyes off the boat and allow myself to be mesmerized by the sparkler, by the tiny stars shooting out of it in every direction, by the crackling sound and its energy. It burns hot and fast, but it gives its all doing it. “Yeah,” I say.

“I’ll drink to your resolution. I’m sure it doesn’t mean much to you because we don’t know each other, but I think you’re doing the right thing. Now drink.”

When the sparkler sputters and dies out, I look at Isak. “It does mean something. Thank you”. I take an even smaller drink, but the taste still contaminates my tongue.

“What is this crap anyway?” Isak asks


Nell RF cover

Two strangers, a twisted ankle, an ancient stone ship, and a New Year’s Eve they’ll never forget

Petter sneaks out of the New Year’s party he didn’t want to go to and treks to an old burial site he’s dying to see. Alone. Without telling anyone on a freezing December night. Without cell service…a huge problem when he twists his ankle.

Someone passes by Isak’s house on the path leading to the stone ship. When the person never returns, Isak worries and sets off to investigate. What he finds is Petter, a pack of sparklers, and an instant connection.

Under a starry sky, they learn they have a lot in common. Will the attraction burn hot and fizzle out like the fireworks going off over their heads when they return to the real world? Or will it deepen, grow, and turn into something real? Something everlasting like the stone ship?

M/M Contemporary / 20849 words

Buy link:

JMS Books: https://www.jms-books.com/nell-iris-c-224_232/resolutions-for-an-arbitrary-holiday-p-3607.html

Nell Iris Bio and social media links:

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.

Find me on social media:

Webpage/blog: http://www.nelliris.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/nellirisauthor
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/nell_iris/
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/nellirisauthor/
Facebook profile: www.facebook.com/nell.iris.12
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/nelliris
Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/nell-iris
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.se/nelliris/

Release Day | 2020 Top Ten Gay Romance

Release Day

It’s release day! 2020 Top Ten Gay Romance is released today. It’s an anthology of the ten best-selling gay romance short stories during 2020 from JMS Books.

A couple of the stories are Christmas stories, so I figured I’d snag a spot for the anthology among the other holiday posts despite it not being a holiday anthology. If you pick this up, you’ll get a little of everything. I’ll post the blurbs for the stories below so you can check them out.
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2020 Top Ten Gay Romance brings together the best-selling short stories published by JMS Books that year.From first love to true love, from submission to sensual, from heat to sweet and everything in between, the couples in these stories are sure to keep you turning the pages as you fall in love with them.

With stories by Kris T. Bethke, Ofelia Gränd, Nell Iris, Shawn Lane, Marco May, J.L. Merrow, Amanda Meuwissen, K.S. Murphy, Elizabeth Noble, and K.L. Noone, this head-over-heels collection goes beyond bedtime reading. Whether happily ever after or happy for now, there’s an ending for everyone in here!

Contains the stories: Once and Floral by Kris T. BethkeTurning Wood by Ofelia GrändAlways You by Nell IrisA Thankful Heart by Shawn LaneThe Sir by Marco MayThe King’s Honour by J.L. MerrowThe Immaculate Marlow King by Amanda MeuwissenPretend You Are for Five More Minutes by K.S. MurphyThe Freedom of Submission by Elizabeth Noble, and A Demon for Forever by K.L. Noone.

The stories:

Once and Floral by Kris T. Bethke 

Once and FloralFlorist West Walker loves weddings. When two gorgeous men walk into his shop for a consultation, he thinks they’re the best looking grooms. Finding out Monroe Peters is just there to support his brother makes West’s instant attraction to the man acceptable.

When Monroe shows up at the shop with a special request, West agrees. And when Monroe asks West to stay at the wedding as his guest, West is thrilled.

Can a magical wedding, the perfect arrangement, and kisses in the moonlight be all these two men need to start their own journey to a happily ever after?


Turning Wood by Ofelia Gränd

turning woodFor Otho Newcomer, the small village of Snowmelt is a haven from his old life. If he’s not exactly a changed man, he at least hopes to keep his distance from all those easy romances, and the inevitable heartache and disappointment that have always followed.

Mason Dager is an idiot. His ex has cleared out his bank account, sold his car and gotten him thrown out of his apartment. And he has no one to blame but himself. But what better way to celebrate a new chapter in his life—one that includes homelessness and the humiliation of telling his family they were right all along—than to spend Christmas at a swanky winter resort like River Cove? It’s already paid for after all.

When a very drunk Mason makes yet another dumb decision, Otho comes to the rescue, throwing the two men together during the most magical time of the year.

What should be the wrong choice for both of them, might be exactly what they need. They’ll just have to survive a nosy best friend, an asshole of an ex, and the scars of their pasts.


Always You by Nell Iris

53435223._sy475_Thom Novak feels like a walking cliché: the gay guy desperately in love with his straight best friend, Lee. But he’s willing to keep his feelings hidden, to do whatever it takes, as long as they stay friends forever.

Lee Conway loves sharing an apartment with Thom, his best friend since birth, and would be happy doing it for the rest of his life … no matter his current girlfriend’s opinion on the matter. But he’s never been known for being in contact with his emotions.

When something happens to upset the status quo, Lee pulls away. Has Lee learned how Thom feels about him? Will it mean the end of their friendship? Or is there another reason Lee needs time to think? A more … hopeful reason?


A Thankful Heart by Shawn Lane

A Thankful HeartIt’s the beginning of November and Fabian is looking to make plans to visit his family with his lawyer boyfriend, Michael, for Thanksgiving week. But when Fabian shows up at Michael’s office during the workday, Michael is rude and unreceptive to the idea, so Fabian breaks up with him.

Making the trip to San Jose by himself, Fabian is welcomed home by his loving Italian family who are just eager for him to come home for good. Fabian is set to make the best of Thanksgiving, single and all, but maybe a special visit will help to make his heart thankful once more.


The Sir by Marco May

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?


The King’s Honour by J.L. Merrow

The King's HonourIn this M/M retelling of the Grimm fairytale, The Twelve Dancing Princesses, Reuben, a soldier, is on his way to the castle to offer his services to the king, who is sorely troubled with the question of his family’s honour. His wayward daughters go out dancing every night, and refuse to tell how or where.

Walking through the forest, Reuben meets a handsome woodcutter, Corin, who offers to help him unravel the mystery of the dancing princesses. With the magical aid of Corin’s grandmother, the two set out together, mindful that their journey could end in sorrow. The king offers a rich prize to anyone who can discover the princesses’ secret—but the penalty for failure is death.


The Immaculate Marlow King by Amanda Meuwissen

The Immaculate Marlow KingMarlow King is a rare and powerful Storm Mage and an officer of the law, but he has a secret: he has an unfairly intense libido. And he’s a virgin.

After an embarrassing reaction during a sparring match with his rival and fellow Mage Officer, Rembrandt “Remy” Parker, Marlow stumbles upon a thief escaping the scene of her crime. Desperate to escape, she looks in Marlow’s mind to use his deepest secret against him — and curses him to lose his magic until he loses his virginity.

Enter Remy, who is definitely a very bad (very good) idea to fix things.


Pretend You Are for Five More Minutes by K.S. Murphy

pretend you are for five more minutesHenry Kato is in a really bad mood. One of his rude, annoying, and mildly offensive co-workers has been bugging him for weeks about the upcoming office party. To get him off his back, Henry enlists the help of his best friend Luke to go with him as his plus one.

What Henry doesn’t expect is for Luke to blurt out that they’re engaged. Which they’re most decidedly not. Even if Henry wishes it were true.

Do they have what it takes to convince everyone the engagement is real? Or will they burn up in smoke before the night even gets started?


The Freedom of Submission by Elizabeth Noble

The Freedom of SubmissionIan Groden loves his life. He’s happily married to the most wonderful man in the world. His career as the CEO of a thriving family business is right on track. He’s got it all. Ian is a man with a secret, however. He appears in control, but in reality, he’d rather let go and put his longings and physical pleasure in the hands of another. Being a submissive is utterly tantalizing and allows Ian to live out his every sexual whim without reservation or guilt.

Taren Murdoch is the man who fulfills Ian’s needs. He’s Ian’s husband, Dom, and protector. It’s Taren who doles out the pain Ian craves. There’s another side to that coin and that is to ensure the pain is never too much for Ian. Taren turns Ian’s pain into pleasure, a job that sometimes takes planning and creativity.

Ian and Taren have taken a break from their everyday lives and are enjoying a trip where they can indulge in their fantasies. It’s rare Ian has the freedom to spend day and night submitting to Taren. Will Taren be able to make sure he and Ian enjoy this dream vacation as much as they hope?


Demon for Forever by K.L. Noone

A Demon for ForeverA demon, a rock star, and wedding bells!

Justin Moore and Kris Starr have their happy ending: a life together, full of magic and music. Justin’s always wanted to get married, and ever since Kris proposed, he’s thrown himself into wedding planning. But planning a wedding’s not easy when the whole world’s watching their choices — including whether to invite Kris’s estranged father.

Kris wants Justin to have that perfect day. He’ll support the man he loves, whether that means agreeing to carrot cake or writing a new love song or getting excited when Justin shyly wants to wear a wedding dress. But Justin also wants him to reconcile with his father. And Kris loves Justin.

So, with their wedding weeks away, Kris will try to face the ghosts of his past … with his demon at his side.

Guest Post | The Right Turn by Sam Couste

Guest-Post

Today, Sam Couste is here to talk about The Right Turn, a New Year Eve M/M coming out story. It’s not out yet, and since Sam is a fellow JMS author, I happen to know it’s 20% off in a pre-order sale.


Tis the season for cheesy made-for-tv movies! A hefty dose of saccharine, predictable and poorly scripted, to consume mindlessly on a Sunday afternoon. Of course, these stories tend to be cookie-cutter not only in plot, but in the types of romances represented.

The Right Turn is my twist on a classic trope; waking up in a what-if world. A modern m/m romance set on the cusp of New Years Eve, it brings all the fluffy fun with a dash of heart, and the promise of a happily ever after:

The-Right-Way

Cam’s life isn’t all that exciting. Boring job, failing relationship, and a handful of missed opportunities. He often wonders how his life might have turned out if he’d made different choices. Especially when he runs into Mattie, his childhood best friend who’s grown into the man of Cam’s dreams.

That dream becomes a reality—or an alternate reality, at least—when Cam wakes up one morning in the arms of an adoring Mattie. This version of Mattie and Cam have been together for years, though Cam has no memory of his new life. He’s determined to figure out how he arrived in this new dream life… and how to keep it.

The Right Turn comes out on 30 December. You can pre-order, and read an excerpt, at JMS Books.

About Sam:

Sam Couste write LGBTQIA+ fiction, prose, and poetry. An avid world traveler, they’re currently settled between the pine barrens and the sea. They share their home with a recovering academic and a disgruntled huskamute pup. You can find Sam on Twitter (@samcouste) or at samcouste.com.