Guest Post | Kelpie’s Claiming by Alexa Piper

Guest-Post

Today, we have Alexa Piper on a visit, and this post had me laughing. Welcome, Alexa!

The Interesting Case of Kelpies

For those not aware, a kelpie (also known as a water horse) is a shape-changing horse, who is an alluring man when not in their horse form. They spend their time luring people into lochs or other bodies of water, and they really like liver. Human liver.

I’ve not seen a lot of kelpie books, but something about the creature always spoke to me. Maybe it’s the mythical aspect, the way to kelpie is connected with just one place and doesn’t actively go out of its way to hunt prey.

At any rate, when I wrote an M/M romance with a banshee in it (The Night Bartender, check it out, it’s fun), Rob, my kelpie, just appeared as a side character. I wasn’t always sure that a kelpie was what he was, but that was pretty clear as soon as I started thinking about him more.

Rob is a bit of an oddball kelpie, but he would never admit to that. He’s very social for one, but again, he wouldn’t like being called out on it. But, you know, you don’t own a bar if you’re not the social type.

Rob’s employees all love him, and he’s probably not aware quite how much. Why? Well, he cares about them. He’s basically a big, beautiful stallion protecting his herd… while fantasizing about eating liver.

It goes without saying that someone like Rob would not fall for just anyone. Rob certainly wouldn’t tolerate any discussions about it, being a stubborn stallion. And since he found Bertrand in the snow, finders keepers applies, and in Rob’s mind, he has every right to the Fae with the nice thighs (Rob has a thing for thighs. It’s a horse thing. Don’t ask.)

Except, Bertrand has his whole life planned out, and getting claimed by a carnivorous horse shifter was never part of the plan…

Meet the kelpie and in Fae in Kelpie’s Claiming.

Kelipes Claiming

Rob’s current goal in life? Do not eat people. That’s easier said than done when you’re a kelpie in the service industry. While Rob pursues his goals from behind the bar, a stranger walks in, and Rob catches the man’s scent. Yet, patrons are not for eating, and it should have ended there… except when Rob smells that delicious scent again, the beautiful stranger needs help.

Bertrand wants to fit in, but because he’s part Fae, part Elf, and grew up human, he’s not really at home in either human or supernatural society. Still, he likes being a reporter and following a story all the way to its conclusion. The story he’s pursuing when he walks into Rob’s bar one night is one of supernaturals going missing, and Bertrand seems to be the only one who cares.

Meeting Bertrand might just shift Rob’s life goals. Coming face-to-face with a kelpie stallion might be enough to help Bertrand see where he fits in perfectly. Except Bertrand doesn’t really know what to make of Rob, and also, Bertrand’s missing persons story is bigger than even he envisioned. It’s turning into a case of abduction and trafficking he needs to unravel before he can even think about Rob’s advances. The story will lead Bertrand to some dark places before the year is out.

Kelpie and Bartender

EXCERPT:

Kelpie’s Claiming (Fairview Chronicles 10)

Alexa Piper

All rights reserved.

Copyright ©2022 Alexa Piper

The daytime drinkers with the incipient beer bellies were getting louder. Rob was just about to get back to gutting his lime in order to suppress thoughts of gutting those three when the door opened once more.

The icy air tickled Rob’s nose with the smell of the season turning, of snowdrops shaking off the weight of frozen water to sing of longer days and sun returning to the world.

But the man walking into the Ragdoll wasn’t a sprite. He was — glamoured.

Rob, who knew how to use a glamour even if he turned into a carnivorous horse who could break hearts without prettying himself up with magic, could tell. The glamour wasn’t exceedingly strong on this man.

Out of the corner of his eye, Rob saw the mage look up briefly, noticing the same thing, but then dismissing it. She’d have been able to see through it easily enough, and since she didn’t react further, Rob could be sure the man who smelled of snowdrops didn’t have any openly nefarious intentions.

But the man… Rob’s mouth was watering, and he watched as the new patron pulled his fur-trimmed hood back from his golden locks and pried his snug gloves off his long fingers. He had to be part Fae. Rob was pretty sure just from his looks, but with a glamour that hid what he was, Rob couldn’t tell precisely.

The man looked shifty, though. Rob had misspent his youth lingering in pools, ponds, and really any body of water that didn’t have a kappa infestation. He’d done it in order to lure humans and whoever wanted to be lured, so he knew what shifty looked like quite intimately.

The glamoured patron wasn’t the let’s-drown-them-and-eat-their liver type of person, not that Rob would ever admit to anyone that he himself had ever been that person. The man wore glasses. They misted up in the warmth of the Ragdoll, and he had to pull them off, revealing a set of hazel eyes that brimmed with intelligence. Without the glasses, he wasn’t too blind to find one of the quiet corner tables, where he deposited his large frame in a chair that looked flimsy under him.

Because yes, the man looked like the kind of person Western directors with a bottomless budget would cast for the role of a Greek hero or an intergalactic hero. Rob liked a man who could hold his own in a fight, and he shivered at the thought of this one’s thighs pressing into Rob’s sides when he was in his horse form. He shivered at the thought of this man riding him.

Kyle grabbed a menu and made his way to the man while Rob watched.

The new patron was interested in the soon-to-be beer-bellied. He glanced past Kyle and seemed too distracted to properly examine the menu, but Kyle nodded and scribbled something on his notepad.

“Hey, boss.” Carla, Rob’s strawberry blonde half-succubus bartender, had snuck up on him and was clapping him on the shoulder.

“Please don’t startle me,” he told her. “And also, hello. You are early.”

“Well, I figured you might need the extra pair of hands,” she said and gave his still unharmed lime a pointed look.

“I was getting to that,” he told her, frowning.

Carla sighed. “Can I say something?”

“Can I stop you?”

She crossed her arms in front of her beautiful succubus chest. “What do you think?”

“Well, let’s have it.”

“You, boss, need to get laid. It might be, I don’t know, a shifter thing. I swear it’s like you guys molt or something.”

Rob sliced the lime in half neatly and let it bleed its acidic last on his cutting board. “Carla, dear. I turn into a horse. I do not molt.”

She raised her finger to forestall a lecture. “Changes nothing. You need to bang someone.” She tapped her nose with a finger, the nail painted fire-engine red. “I can tell.”

“I’m stressed because I’m tending bar when I shouldn’t be tending bar,” Rob said.

She waved that off. “Pfft. You’re happy for Ilya, admit it. Maybe ask that witch if he has a brother?” she asked and wiggled her eyebrows.

“He’s the sole Fey heir, and you know that as well as I do,” Rob said. “Also, I do not need to urgently bang a witch.” Rob kept his voice down, because he was not easily shaken, certainly not by the suggestion that he was in need of sex. Rob was accomplished. He had the occasional one-night stand, because (just like Ilya) he looked good behind the bar, almost as good as he did as a horse with his hooves in a lake, his mane dangling in the water, and the moon hitting his shiny coat just so.

Yes, if Rob wanted to find a warm body to put his cock in, he could do just that, but the succubus was overreacting. It was a thing with ‘cubi, assuming that one needed to have sex all the time or else one’s health — mental or otherwise — was in danger.

“Did you just daydream about fucking Aaron?” Carla asked.

Rob made quick work of the lime. “I did not, and I reject the idea.” Although the witch was a big strong man under that coat he wore all the time. But no. Going there was no good — even if from the looks of it, Aaron had very nice shoulders.

Kelpie_review_2

About Alexa Piper:

 Alexa Piper writes steamy romance that ranges from light to dark, from straight to queer. She’s also a coffee addict. Alexa loves writing stories that make her readers laugh and fall in love with the characters in them. 

Connect with Alexa: https://linktr.ee/AlexaPiper

Guest Post | Perfect Rows by Holly Day

Guest-Post

I’m here as Holly today! Two days ago, you could read a quick announcement about the World Naked Gardening stories we’ve been working on this year. Yesterday, the lovely Nell Iris was on a visit to tell us all about Strike a Pose. Today, I thought I’d talk a little about Perfect Rows.

It’s all Nell and Ally’s fault we’ve written these stories. Nell thought I should write a story for World Naked Gardening Day since I write stories for strange days, and then Ally thought we all should. And here we are, five Naked Gardening stories with various amounts of gardening but all with some nudity in the garden LOL

In Perfect Rows, there is a fair deal of gardening. Grayson has ambitions. He wants to grow enough vegetables not to have to buy any during the summer. Given they have a big garden, it should be doable. 

The problem is Camden.

Cam lives in the house across from Grayson, and they share the garden. Camden is a bit of an arse – quite frankly, he’s a dick – and he has a clear idea of what the garden should look like, and vegetables don’t fit his vision. He wants pretty flowers in perfect rows.

I had a great time writing this one, but I might have allowed Cam to become a bit more of a dick than he needed to be LOL

He grabbed a lemon, cut it in half, and opened his window. If Ca

Blurb: 

Everything would’ve been perfect if Grayson Dawe hadn’t been forced to share his garden with Camden Hensley. Grayson has everything he needs in life – a job, friends, a house he loves, and a garden. He wants to grow enough vegetables to cover his needs over the summer, and he has a plan for how to achieve it. 

 Camden Hensley loves his garden. He loves beautiful flowers in perfect rows, sweet scents and buzzing bees, but his neighbor, Grayson, messes everything up. He mixes vegetables with flowers in the growing beds and is incapable of placing plants in straight lines. And when Cam pulls out the plants growing in the wrong place, Grayson snarls at him. 

 Grayson doesn’t want to fight with Camden, but he’s completely unreasonable. Cam only wants Grayson to stop creating chaos and to grow flowers instead of vegetables. Neither of them is willing to back down, and days in the garden usually end in shouting matches, at least until Grayson realizes he can shut Cam up by kissing him. But will they ever be able to agree about what plants should grow where? 

Buy links: 

Contemporary Gay Romance: 16,427 words 

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

perfectrows

Excerpt:

Grayson avoided Cam for the rest of the week. He spotted him a couple of times in the garden, not working but wandering around. As long as he didn’t touch Grayson’s beds, he could wander as much as he wanted.
When Friday afternoon came to an end, Ryan suggested they’d go out for a beer. Grayson was going stir-crazy peeking out his windows all the time to see if he could spot Camden, so a beer and to be away from home for some time sounded like a good plan.
He wondered if Camden avoided him since he never wandered while Grayson was outside. He’d spent time in the garden, made plans, written down notes about what should go where, and started new seeds to have plants to fill the gaps as he harvested. A lot was going on, and while he wished he wouldn’t have to eat turnips again in a long, long time he was damn proud of what he’d accomplished. He hadn’t bought one single vegetable for several weeks, and while it irked him Cam had gotten both his carrots and his garlic, he’d make do. He’d sown new carrots, but he’d have to live without garlic, at least until September when he was allowed to buy veggies again.
Life without garlic was no fun, but a challenge was a challenge.
“Are we hitting the pub directly or are we going for the respectable look?”
Grayson grinned at Ryan. Sometimes they stopped for a beer before they headed home for the day, but today he wanted out of his work clothes. “How about a shower and clean clothes, and I’ll buy you dinner.”
“Oh, are you taking me out on a date?” Ryan fluttered his eyelashes.
“Sure, and I expect you to put out.”
Ryan scrunched his nose. “I’m saving myself for marriage.”
Grayson snorted. There had been plenty of women warming Ryan’s bed throughout the years. “I’ll ask your father for your hand then.”
“Ha! That would be the day.” Ryan grinned. “I can almost picture the look on his face.”
Grayson could too. He’d known Ryan’s dad since they were kids, and while he had no problems with Grayson being queer, he wouldn’t want Ryan to be.
“Are you coming by my place when you’re ready?”
Grayson nodded and headed to his car.
Forty-five minutes later, he was ready to go. He’d had a quick shower, had put on his best jeans and a shirt showing off his physique—though, he didn’t expect to meet anyone who’d care—and a black leather jacket. He’d gone as far as to style his hair.
Stepping out through the front door, he came to an abrupt stop. Camden was sitting on the edge of the raised bed with a bucket and a hand rake.
“You can put the weeds in the compost.”
Cam jumped and turned to look at him, then he looked some more. “Wow, you clean up nice, Grayson. Big date?”
He refused to acknowledge the compliment if it was one. “Yeah, I’m taking Ryan out to dinner.”
“Ryan?”
“Yes, Ryan. Problem with that?”
Camden looked stunned but shook his head. “I… eh… didn’t know you were gay. Or is Ryan a woman? Women can be named Ryan too, right?” A flush climbed Cam’s cheeks, and Grayson watched in fascination. Camden was flustered.
He grinned. “You know Ryan Becker. He is a man.”
“Ryan Becker. I had no idea he was… Ah, well… have fun then.” Cam looked away only to frown at the garden bed. “These.” He pointed at the spring onions. “Are they weeds?”
“No, spring onions.”
“Oh. I pulled some up.” He looked into the bucket, and Grayson tried not to growl. They were still a bit too small, but if he didn’t want them in the bed, he could at least eat them.
“It’s your bed.”
Camden frowned at him. “Yeah, but you spent money on seeds, it would be a waste to throw them.”
Grayson agreed.
“I mean I wouldn’t have placed them so irregularly, it’s too easy to mistake them for weeds, but now they’re there.” He shrugged.
“Do you ever see nature grow in perfect rows?”
“If I plant in perfect rows, it’ll grow in perfect rows.”
Grayson pulled in a deep breath and stepped away. Better to leave than fight with Cam.
“Have fun!” Camden smiled at him.
“Don’t wait up.”
“Oh, it’s like that, is it?”
Grayson grinned and shook his head. It wasn’t like that at all.

About Holly Day 

According to Holly Day, no day should go by uncelebrated and all of them deserve a story. If she’ll have the time to write them remains to be seen. She lives in rural Sweden with a husband, four children, more pets than most, and wouldn’t last a day without coffee.  

Holly gets up at the crack of dawn most days of the week to write gay romance stories. She believes in equality in fiction and in real life. Diversity matters. Representation matters. Visibility matters. We can change the world one story at the time.  

Connect with Holly on social media: 

Website :: Facebook :: Twitter :: Pinterest :: BookBub :: Goodreads :: Newsletter 

Guest Post | Strike a Pose by Nell Iris

Guest-Post

Nell Iris is back! Today, she’s talking about Strike a Pose, and for the record, I don’t mind marble penises on covers, in rants or in blog posts LOL. Welcome, Nell!

Hi everyone and a huge thank you to Ofelia for once again letting me come for a visit and talk about my latest book, Strike a Pose. You’re most kind! 😘

Strike a Pose is written for World Naked Gardening Day which occurs on the first Saturday in May annually. I stumbled upon it somehow last year and told my lovely hostess’s alter ego Holly Day that she should write a story about it since she writes stories for all the weird and wonderful holidays out there as you know. Then A.L. Lester said we should all write stories with naked gardeners, and I promptly said yes. We enlisted a couple more people, the awesome K.L. Noone and Amy Spector, and started writing. So on May 7th, five stories with a Naked Gardening theme were released. The stories are all standalone and not related in any other way than the theme.

“Can you put marble penises on a book cover?” I asked Ofelia in the morning office one day, and I’m sure she almost choked on her coffee at my question but she’s too kind to complain. But I had a valid reason for my question. MC Didrik in Strike a Pose is a photographer, and he’s doing a photoshoot of his best friend’s father, Johan, for World Naked Gardening Day, and the theme for the shoot is statues. Didrik has Johan posing as famous (naked!) statues in his garden, so I wanted to put a picture of a statue on the cover. And for accuracy’s sake, and to connect it to the theme, I wanted it to be naked.

Hence my question.

As a Swede, I’m not bothered by pictures of genitalia (unless we’re talking dick pics: don’t send me one of those!!) like people can be, but when I browsed books about Michelangelo’s David on Amazon, he was conspicuously cropped so his marble junk wasn’t showing. It made me suspicious, which is why I asked Ofelia. She, as a fellow Swede, was on the same page as I (it’s marble, what’s the big deal?), but by then Ally Lester had joined us, and since she’s a sensible Brit she said, “you can probably not put marble penises on book covers.”

That made me sad. I had found some awesome stock photos I wanted to use. This glorious marble ass for example, but most of all I wanted this lovely, full-frontal, discus thrower. But even though Ally was adamant, I decided to ask my publisher JMS Books anyway. They promptly told me that no, you cannot put marble penises on book covers. Amazon does not approve…and they knew this from experience! 😁

But, despite not being allowed to put the full-frontal discus thrower on my cover, I’m very happy with the results. JMS Books’ cover artist, strategically put the title over the unacceptable marble body part (that was already covered, btw, here’s the original) so no one at Amazon would be offended. Everyone is happy!

Except for maybe poor Ofelia, who’s not only had to listen to me rant about marble penises on several occasions, but now I also write about them on her blog. 😁

Flaccid

Blurb: 

Didrik would do anything for his best friend, Filip, including taking pictures of Filip’s dad, Johan, for a charity calendar. Naked pictures, of beautiful, irresistible, wonderful Johan, who was single-handedly responsible for Didrik’s gay awakening. He was also happily married and unavailable…until he wasn’t.

After losing his husband five years ago, Johan finally seems ready to move on, and as they start the charity project, everything changes. With every meeting, every conversation, every pose for the camera, the attraction between them swells and grows, until it burns hot and threatens to consume them.

Their interactions, their relationship is surprisingly easy, but it’s not without its challenges. The age difference for one thing. Telling Filip for another. Is their connection enough to last? Can they overcome the hurdles to get the happily ever after they deserve?

M/M Contemporary / 17545 words

Buy links: 

JMS Books :: Amazon :: Books2Read

strikeapose

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.

Find Nell on social media:

Newsletter :: Webpage/blog :: Twitter :: Instagram :: Facebook Page :: Facebook Profile :: Goodreads :: Bookbub

Excerpt: 

His gaze is immediately drawn to my drawings. “I’ve been curious since last night, please tell me what you’ve got.”

I nod and launch into an explanation of how I couldn’t make any of the actual gardening themes work, how they all felt wrong. “I promised you art,” I explain, “and that wasn’t it. It felt more like something the local gardening association would do. Not that it’s anything wrong with that, but it wasn’t good enough. It wasn’t right.”

He nods along with my explanation, his attention fixed on me. “So you came up with something else?”

I bob my head. “Statues!” 

“Statues?”

“Yes! I took a break from sketching because I was stuck and ended up watching a documentary about Michelangelo. The idea is that you pose as famous statues. It was David that sparked the idea—” I thumb through my sketchbook to find the drawing I’m talking about and turn it to him when I find what I’m looking for, “—like this. And then I started researching more classical statues. I found a bunch of them we could recreate. Hang on, I downloaded pictures.” 

I hand him my phone when I’ve found the folder with all the statues and watch him as he swipes through them. “There are more than twelve,” I say, “because not everyone might work. And you can pick which ones you like, and the ones you think CM would’ve liked. And of course, the ones you’re comfortable with. Or we can shoot them all and choose what pictures to include when we know how they turned out. And if you know of any statues I haven’t included, I’m open to suggestions.”

He gives me back my phone. “Show me more of your sketches.”

“I haven’t sketched them all out, but here, let me show you what I’ve got.” 

We go through all the drawings, and I explain my thought process, and he nods and hums in all the right places. He even offers some input, tapping his finger on the discus thrower. “I know a better spot for this one.” 

“Show me.” 

He stands and jumps off the porch, and I grab the sketchbook and my phone before I follow him. He takes me to a part of the garden I hadn’t paid attention to, a portion of the lawn that’s relatively free of other vegetation, and I see what he means. It’s easy to frame it like a sports field, with no trees or bushes that would catch the discus when thrown. 

“You’re right,” I mumble, and open the sketchbook to a blank page, but mutter when I realize I haven’t brought a pencil. “Let’s try it.”

“Now?”

“Mhm. I can use my phone for a test shoot.”

“Oh, okay. So what do you want me to do.” 

I grab his wrist and tug him gently until he follows me. “Stand here.” I fiddle with my phone until I find the image of the discus thrower. “Can I help you into the pose?”

“Yes.”

I proceed to mold and shape him like the statue; back arched, knees bent, his left hand resting against his right knee, and his right hand pulled back as though he’s about to hurl a discus across a field. His empty hand disturbs the vision, so I tuck my sketchbook into his hand. “Pretend this is a discus.”

He nods and I step back, crouching on the ground to see his pose from a different angle, opening my camera app to snap a few pictures to keep as a memory. I move to my left. “Look up at the discus,” I say. “You’re an athlete. A champion. You’re going to hurl that thing with all your strength and beat all the other champions.” 

He twists his head until his steady gaze is locked on the sketchbook, his eyebrows knitted together as though he’s concentrating on his mission. As though he’s mentally preparing himself for the throw of his life, and I start snapping some pictures. 

The light isn’t optimal, my camera phone is pretty crappy, he’s wearing modern clothes instead of being naked, and he’s not holding an actual discus, but none of those things matter. I can see it before me. The end result is going to be fabulous. “Yes,” I mumble. “Yes.” 

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