Up North | Dates That Never Happened

X-mas-readI was talking with my office buddies (Nell Iris and A.L. Lester) about 24 Dates and said it’s a miracle I manage to come up with twenty-four dates for the story since I’m the least romantic person in the world.

I had a list with date-suggestion I’d written and crossed them off as I went. I even had dates that never happened left. I said I couldn’t remember what they were since the list now was gone.  Nell told me I should’ve saved it, and I thought to myself yeah, I should have.

Then Christmas came and the pile of papers on my desk needed to if not get thrown away, then at least put in a nicer pile LOL. I ruffled through the papers, most of the sheets with something printed on one side, and me having scrawled down dates on the backside for when to post, pin, and schedule things.

And there it was! Wrinkly and with a folded corner and with hubby having written on it too and then crossed it out. It has name suggestions of characters for other stories, numbers added together than I can’t remember what they were for, and at the bottom it says:

The most fish
The biggest

Which, I guess, it’s for the date on the 12th of December.

So, Jian and Victor had twenty-four dates from December 1st to December 24th. What they didn’t have was:

  • A museum date – When I wrote it down, I figured Jian would take Victor to a museum where they would see some cool things. Hubby and I went to Naturhistoriska in Gothenburg a few times when we lived on the west coast. There’s a whale hall that always has me in awe. That awe is mixed though, part of me think it’s so cool to get to see how big a blue whale really is, another part is outraged we’re making exhibitions out of dead animals.
  • Concert – Jian and Victor go to Whiteport to watch a musical, so I skipped going to a concert because it felt like too much of a repeat. But I had it on the list of suggestions.
  • Beach Walk – I figured they could go to the coast and stroll on the wintery beach. I miss beach walks. The sea in the wintertime is amazing. It’s amazing any time of the year, but that dark grey, raging sea crashing towards the deserted beach – it fills my soul with freedom. The wind tearing at your hair, the scent of salt in the air… *sigh* I want to go home.
  • Coffee Date – They have a dessert-tasting date, so I figured going to a coffee house was a bit of a repeat. They don’t do much people watching, though, so maybe I should have included some date where they go out in public just the two of them.
  • Scavenger Hunt – Let’s be honest. I was too lazy to include this one. A scavenger hunt could be a lot of fun, but I’d have to come up with the rules. Still, I could see Jian doing it for Victor LOL.
  • Fake Tour Guide – I figured Jian could pretend to be a guide and show Victor around either a museum or if they went to a city where he could guide him up and down the streets talking about interesting historical facts that had happened.
  • Sunset and Eggnog – Here I pictured them sitting out in the cold and watch the sun set while having eggnog, but since they have a rooftop stargazing date it felt a bit like a repeat.
  • Drive-in Movie – The idea was that Jian should take help from his friends and set up a drive-in movie for Victor and him, but they’re up north, and winters are cold LOL
  • Amusement Park – Normally, we go to Liseberg with the kids on Christmas. This year it’s closed, but it’s beautiful. There are lights everywhere, they have an ice skating show, Santa is there, and some years there’s been real reindeers.
  • Poetry Night – The last thing on the list is poetry night. I painted a picture of a cosy pub where they held poetry readings, but I chickened out. Poetry isn’t my strong suit, I think it’s amazing, but to write a poetry night date I figured I’d have to write some poetry, and that won’t happen.

See, 24 Dates could’ve been 34 Dates…maybe LOL.

Of all the dates I wrote, my favourite (to write) was December 5th. I laughed. And it just so happens that Angel Martinez did a Friday Reading of that date over at her site, so hop on over there and listen to it!

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?


In the JMS shop

Guest Post | Gingerbread and Good Tidings by Kris T Bethke


Kris T Bethke is here today! In Sweden, the 24th is the day we celebrate Christmas, not on the 25th as most do, so I’ll hand everything over to Kris and go back to eating chocolate while looking at the Christmas tree. Welcome, Kris!

Hi everyone! First let me say a great big thank you to Ofelia for putting this together and inviting us all to play at her blog.

If you don’t know me, I’m Kris T. Bethke and I write fluffy, happy stories about men finding love. But don’t worry, there’s usually a bit of heat thrown in there too. I mostly just want the happy of watching two (or more!) people falling in love. So be sure to check me backlist out if you want sweet with heat…and a good does of bisexual rep to boot!

In my newest release, Gingerbread and Good Tidings, Cody starts getting mysterious treats delivered to his home on the four days leading up to Christmas. All with his favorite gingerbread incorporated somehow. He has no idea who is sending them though, but he’s touched by the gifts and the notes included. And there’s always a treat for his dog, Pippa, as well. Whoever is sending them definitely knows him. When Christmas Eve finally rolls around, Cody just might get the Christmas gift he didn’t even know he needed.

I’m around on social media, so if you want to find me, the best way is to hit me up on Twitter https://twitter.com/kristbethke or on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/people/Kris-T-Bethke/100014524539852 . You can also shoot me an email at kristbethke@gmail.com I always love to hear from readers, so don’t be shy!

Read on for an exclusive excerpt! And you can buy it here https://www.jms-books.com/kris-t-bethke-c-224_240/gingerbread-and-good-tidings-p-3600.html


Cody Schaefer loves the Christmas season and a benefit to working from home means that he gets to be surrounded by his decoration collections all the time. And as a bonus, he starts getting deliveries from a local café containing holiday treats flavored with gingerbread. The notes aren’t signed, but they clearly come from someone who knows him.

Out of all of Cody’s friends, Jason van Buren is the only one level-headed about the mysterious treats, and Cody begins talking to him daily. Cody enjoys their chats, and the two men grow closer. One Christmas Eve, no delivery appears. But Jason shows up on his doorstep, ready to back gingerbread cookies. It’s then Cody realizes just who is behind the deliveries. And perhaps, Cody will get Jason as his Christmas gift this year.


“Well, that’s all true. You are special, Cody.”

My first instinct was to play it off with a joke, make some kind of humorous comment, but instead, I took a moment, read the sincerity on his face, and was honest and heartfelt instead.

“That’s very kind. I didn’t know I needed to hear it until I did.”

Jason cut his eyes away, and he scratched at the short goatee he was sporting. It was hardly more than scruff, but it was even and well kept. He’d been clean-shaven up until about a year ago, but I liked this look on him. It suited his face, and I’d been sure to tell him so. He’d had it ever since.

“You should hear it all the time,” he said, then cleared his throat and focused on me. “Did you try them yet?”

“Nope. But, oh my God, look at them!” I flipped the camera and held the phone over the box, making sure to center the rolls in frame. “Don’t they look amazing?”

“They do. I’m sure they taste even better.”

I lifted the phone and flipped the camera back to front-facing. I made my eyes wide. “I almost don’t want to eat them, they look so perfect. It would be a shame to ruin them.”

Jason chuckled. “Baked goods are for eating, honey.”

My heart jumped at the endearment, but he was probably being silly or something, so I tried to ignore it. But my pulse was racing, and I wanted to flirt with him. He’d always turned my key, but I’d kept that in check as best I could since he didn’t seem to be open to it. Now, maybe that had changed. I decided to test the waters.

I turned my chair until the lit up tree was on my left and a few of my gingerbread people could be seen on the windowsill. Then I gave my best smile, the one I knew lit up my face and had, in the past, made men give me a second look. Jason’s eyes went wide, and that made me grin even harder.

“Look, I’m a Christmas card. Perfect, huh?”

“Absolutely perfect.” He cleared his throat again. “That’s quite a tree you have there.”

I sighed happily. “Isn’t it amazing?”

He chuckled, a deep, resonant sound that wormed its way into my soul. “Let me see it.”

I hopped up immediately, flipped the camera again, and took him right to the tree. I did a slow pan, up and down, and all the way around, pointing out my favorite ornaments as I went. “This one here, I bought at a craft fair. See how the globe catches the light? It’s gorgeous and I love it….oh! This one? This one I’ve had my entire life. My parents bought it for my first Christmas, and it’s been on my tree ever since.” I paused and touched the gingerbread man that had been inscribed with my name and my birth year. “Hmm, maybe that’s why I love gingerbread people so much.”

Jason made an amused, but thoughtful sound. “Perhaps.”

I cackled, loving the slight smirk on his face. “I came by it honestly, though. Look at this one.” I had to move around the tree until I found the one I wanted. The tin ornament’s paint had faded over the years, chipping in some places and nearly non-existent in others. It was the shape that really indicated it was a gingerbread man with a bow tie around his neck. I reverently touched it with one finger. “This was my mom’s favorite. It always had a place of pride on the tree.”

Wrap-Up Wednesday | December Reads


It’s been a pleasure to have so many people guesting my blog this month, and we have a few more to go before the month is over. Normally, I post a little something about the books I read, but there hasn’t been any space – not that I’m complaining LOL

I thought I’d do a Wrap-Up Wednesday thingy. And the month isn’t over yet, so I might read more books, but this is what I have so far:

Love at First Spray

I was reading this on my phone while my kids were shouting and shrieking, jumping and climbing, fighting and laughing – yes, it changes that fast. Love at First Spray by Tom Caval is a short Christmas story about Simon who’s unfortunate enough not to understand his boyfriend is a spoiled brat.

It annoyed me LOL

Simon is out hunting for a certain perfume in the Christmas crowd – this was pre-covid – but it’s sold out everywhere. When he steps into yet another shop, he gets sprayed by some sample cologne. Tariq, the sprayer, does his best to help Simon and sparks fly.

I liked it, but I would’ve wanted more an ending. Keep in mind, I was a bit distracted by the kids while reading, but I wasn’t really feeling the Christmas joy. Sure there were gifts and such, but I would’ve wanted more.

The idea is cute, though! And it’s free!


Love At First SprayA Christmas Short Story

Oh! Oh! Oh! It’s Love time!

It’s the night before Christmas in London. Simon, a small-time clerk in the Big City, has just two hours to buy all the items on a ridiculously detailed (and expensive) gift list. A long list provided by Joshua, his handsome boyfriend, who also happens to be a self-absorbed aspiring model.

Now the race is on to check all the items on the list. For the sake of love. Simon is almost done, but there is only one item left: the latest perfume obsession for gays. Of course, it is sold-out and a desperate Simon needs to scour the city for it. But little does he know, he will have the help of a sexy and exotic stranger.

Love at First Spray is a funny, romantic and cosy gay Christmas short story, about finding love in the most unexpected place. 

I Saw Daddy Kissing Santa Claus

This is another short story. Jacob is recovering from the loss of his wife, juggling life with two kids on his own. They’re going to the mall to see Santa as they do every year.

When it’s his daughter’s turn to sit on Santa’s lap, he can’t hear what they’re saying but notices how Santa is watching him. Later that night, he meets a man at a bar…

It’s a cute story. I liked the beginning, but then there is some skimming over things. It’s a 10k story, and it takes place over a year. But cute!


I-saw-Daddy-Kissing-SantaStill recovering from an unexpected tragedy, single dad Jacob isn’t sure he’s ready to move on – until he meets Theo in a bar at Christmas. When what was meant to be a simple one-off encounter becomes more complicated, will Jacob have the strength to fall and trust Theo to catch him?

A sweet festive short story of 10,000 words.


Unwrapping by Clare London is a short-short, only twelve pages. Matt and Harry have been seeing each other for a year, only they’ve never made it official. They might spend almost every day together, tell each other everything, but what are they? Friends? With benefits? Or…

I feel like I’m overusing the word cute, but this is cute! LOL

You can read it on Clare’s site.

UnwrappingLast Christmas Eve, Harry and Matt got together. Sort of. This Christmas Eve – and with the help of a Secret Santa gift – will they make it official?

Free online story, published in December 2017 on the author’s web site.

Home in a Snowstorm

Home in a Snowstorm (Snow Globes #1) by Ava Kelly. I got this much because of the cover, pretty! Here we have a teacher and a dad with a broken leg. It’s a gentle slow-building story.

Daniel is a teacher, and on the last day of school, one of his students needs a ride home because her dad has broken his leg and can’t come and get her. Snow and slippery roads prevent Daniel from leaving, and little by little sparks fly.


Home-in-a-SnowstormDaniel Wu is an elementary school teacher with a big heart and a collection of snow globes to match his travels. The small town he has settled in, however, feels like it could be home. All that’s missing is someone special and a family to call his own.

Resigned to spending the holidays alone, Daniel finishes work on the last day of school, only to stumble upon one his students, Abby Weber, who needs a ride home. Jeffrey Weber, single father and recent owner of a cast on his broken leg, needs quite a bit of help around the house when Daniel drops Abby off. Christmas Eve is around the corner, so Daniel can’t let the two fend for themselves. What he doesn’t expect, however, is the snowstorm that strands him in their remote home in the forest. But is this misfortune, or could it be a wish come true?

Oranges and Cloves

We’re continuing with the cover! Oranges and Cloves by Annabelle Jay is another Christmas story about a single dad.

Landon is a stressed father of three who collides with a man in the grocery shop. He hurries on home to get his kids and go to the church’s Advent celebrations. There he sees the man again, by the cloves and oranges.

I liked how this story started, but then it was like the author forgot to write the last chapter or accidentally deleted the epilogue. Not bad, but a missed opportunity.


Oranges-and-ClovesLandon, father of three, accidentally runs into another shopper while looking at oranges in the supermarket. He thinks little of the incident, but after being tasked to find a church by his mother and testing out a Children’s Advent Celebration with his kids, he discovers that the shopper is actually one of the instructors helping all of the children make spiced orange pomanders. The man gives Landon a pomander with his phone number on it, but since Landon swore off men for 2017 after his partner left him and his dates have all flakes on him, will he take the instructor up on his offer of a date?

Heathcliff and the Sexy Whippet

Last but not least, we have Heathcliff and the Sexy Whippet by A.M. Fox. This is hilarious. It’s a whirlwind of crazy, paws, and impromptu therapy sessions. Sean is normally working with dogs but is applying for a job at a movie set.

Who says humans don’t have the same needs dogs do? Sean. Sean says that, I’m not sure anyone else does. And to be honest, I think my dog would have eaten Sean LOL. But you never know, he is said to be a sexy Whippet.

I read this sitting on the sofa, chuckling while my husband gave me funny looks.


A.M. Fox was here n the blog earlier this month, and you can read his post here.

Heathcliff and the sexy WhippetA Christmas feel-good tale of snowy, cobbled streets, unfulfilled desires and the sexiest whippet in Yorkshire!
When bubbly Sean Miles applies for a job with a film company, little does he realise what he’s getting into. As an experienced dog groomer, he’s great with fur and claws and loves a poochie cuddle, but has never offered human treatments. Until now.
Heath Mailer is playing the character of Heathcliff. Dark, brooding and intense, the lead actor can scowl aplenty but when he’s in trouble he doesn’t know how to ask for help. Who’s going to offer a hand to Mister Moody?
Forced to work together, Sean and Heath discover some unusual techniques that not only aid the production but also get to the heart of what ails the lead actor. Whoever said dog therapy can’t work on people?

Happy reading!