Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Random Tales of Christmas 2017 Part 5


And to All a Good Night by Felicitas Ivey
Summary:
Kobbi AAkers was excited to have a traditional family Christmas with his younger sister Franzi, a famous rock star. But instead of the peaceful holiday he had planned, she’s turning it into a televised musical extravaganza, in a desperate bid for publicity.

Kobbi can adapt, especially since the show’s host Wytt Kanard is easy on the eyes and easy to work with, even if he doesn’t believe in Christmas at all. Wytt is alternatively amused and horrified at the simplicity that is Kobbi’s life and the enthusiasm he has for the holiday, all while taking care of his houseful of unexpected guests.

Maybe Kobbi can convince the cynical Wytt that Christmas isn’t an event to be managed, but something special to be shared. Maybe he can muster the courage to confess his attraction and offer Wytt a surprise present.

Of Printers and Presents by Asta Idonea
Summary:
Colleagues Ford and Vaughan have long admired each other from afar, but Vaughan’s shyness and Ford’s emotional hang-ups have meant that neither has made a move. That all changes when they draw each other’s name in the office Secret Santa.

Santa Baby by Avery Ford
Summary:
Martin 'Tin' McAuliff is an innocent - in every sense of the word. He hides behind his studies and his job to cover up how socially awkward he is, but that doesn't stop him dreaming of the perfect guy coming to sweep him off his feet.

Beckett Lake exudes power and status, from the top of his perfectly tousled hair to the bottom of his expensive shoes, but he’s never met a man worth lavishing his substantial affections on. Until a chance meeting with the most adorable man on two legs quickly brings out his protective side.

Tin doesn’t realize that Beckett wants more than friendship from him.

Beckett is struggling to come to terms with how fast he is falling.

Together, they will create a Christmas love story of a lifetime. 

A Christmas Promise by KC Wells
Summary:
The last thing Micah Trant expects to find in the snow by the side of the road, is a badly beaten man. But when Micah discovers his identity, it feels like more than mere coincidence is at work here. Like modern day Good Samaritans, he and his dad offer the stranger a place to recuperate. After all, it’s almost Thanksgiving, and Greg is in no state to travel home. It’s not an entirely altruistic move: Micah wants answers, and he’s not the only one.

Greg cannot believe the way things turned out. The odds of Micah being the one to find him have to be astronomical, but he accepts the kind offer. As days become weeks, Greg learns more about Micah’s family, and comes to realize that staying with them for a Wyoming Christmas might just provide him with the answers he’s been seeking.

The magic of the holidays will also conjure up something neither Micah nor Greg expected…

The Peppermint Schnapps Predicament by Clare London
Summary:
Frankie Faraday is a promising young salesperson at Mason’s Emporium. Bill Mason is his boss, the son of the store’s founder, and the object of Frankie’s long-suffering, deeply devoted crush. Bill is steady and sober; Frankie is frivolous and flaky. Or so they seem to each other, until the night of the annual inventory, when they’re trapped together in the Seasonal Gifts storeroom, with nothing but candy and peppermint schnapps to sustain them until they’re rescued. And then the real truths—and something definitely more intimate—emerge!

A story from the Dreamspinner Press 2017 Advent Calendar "Stocking Stuffers."

Click to Check Out Previous
Random Tales of Christmas 2017

Part 1  /  Part 2  /  Part 3  /  Part 4


And to All a Good Night by Felicitas Ivey
I WAS puttering around the house, trying not to be too nervous about waiting for my sister Franzi to arrive. When I heard an SUV pull up in front of my house, I stopped straightening up the already clean family room and headed for the front door. When I opened it, the person standing there wasn’t the one I was expecting.

“What are you doing here?” I asked in confusion.

Tanya Williamson standing on my stoop was the last thing I expected for Christmas. Tanya was the manager/babysitter/fixer for my high-maintenance rock ’n’ roll younger sibling, Franzi. Franzi’s a veteran of the cutthroat music business at twenty-one, following the footsteps of our father, Franko, the infamous rock star. Franko had risen high, stayed there a long time, and died of a heart attack at the age of forty from a number of things. Franzi was ten; I was just past twenty.

“Let me in, Kobbi,” she snapped. “I’m freezing my tits off. I’ve been on the road for hours to this back-road town and I want to pee.”

I bit back the retort I wanted to make and stepped aside to let her into the entryway. She had to put up with Franzi a lot more than I did now. Franzi was a sweet kid, for the most part, but could go from zero to impossible in the blink of an eye.

“Where’s Franzi?” I asked. Keeping her on the stoop was rude and was also letting all the heat out of my house.

Tanya sighed, her anger flowing out of her as she walked in, removed her coat, and handed it to me. “She didn’t call you?”

“She’s not coming,” I said flatly as I closed the door behind her.

But that wouldn’t explain why she was here. Tanya was attached to Franzi at the hip, usually after she had acted out in public. But that still didn’t stop my heart plummeting to my toes with the feeling of disappointment that Franzi wasn’t going to be here.
“She’s being a brat,” Tanya growled. “Give me a cup of coffee after I hit the girl’s room, and I’ll explain everything to you. She’s a couple of minutes behind me, so she’s not blowing you off.”

Of Printers and Presents by Asta Idonea
Ford Ackerman leaned over the printer, fumbling at the rear tray, and Vaughan sucked in a sharp breath. The bending action pulled Ford’s trousers taut over his perfect butt, framing two globes so delectable that saliva pooled in Vaughan’s mouth and his own trousers were suddenly a tad too tight. Everyone in the office had pronounced Vaughan mad last month when he refused the chance to relocate to a recently vacated desk by the window, away from the noisy printers and the staff restrooms, but he’d assured his boss, Marie, that he found the sound of the copiers soothing and scarcely noticed the foot traffic to and from the restrooms. Ford was the real reason he’d stayed though. Sitting here, Vaughan got to see Ford several times a day as Ford went in and out of the men’s room or attended to the printers, replacing toner or paper, or fixing jams and other glitches.

Vaughan had been celebrating his third anniversary with the company when Ford started with them two years ago. Although he’d previously liked his job well enough, Ford’s arrival on the scene ensured that Vaughan leaped out of bed each weekday morning, eager to get to the office. Essentially, Ford was no more than a dogsbody. He carried out all the menial tasks the other employees hated. He set up rooms for meetings, organized stationery supplies, and filled lunch orders. He mended broken equipment, greeted visitors, and sorted the mail. Most of Vaughan’s colleagues hardly acknowledged Ford’s existence unless they needed something, and even then Ford might as well have been a machine. To Vaughan, however, he was very real.

Aside from the spectacular, bauble-like buttocks, Vaughan didn’t know what it was about Ford that so captivated him. Ford wasn’t classically handsome, that’s for sure. Yet there was something magical about his graceful movements and the dexterity in his long, slender fingers as he flicked through files and plucked at pages. Then there was his smile. He didn’t use it often, but when he did, his eyes brightened, completely transforming his mien. It was a real classic-era Hollywood smile—a Gene Kelly smile.

Vaughan knew that Ford was gay—that vital nugget of information had found its way out of the director’s office following Ford’s initial interview—and he appeared to be permanently single, attending staff events alone and never meeting anyone either at lunchtimes or after work, at least not as far as Vaughan had ever witnessed. Nevertheless, in the two years they’d worked together, Vaughan had never approached Ford on any topic save that of an empty stapler or to place a coffee order.

As he watched Ford now, Vaughan’s mind teemed with thoughts of all the things he and Ford could do together: dinner dates, movie nights…and more personal pursuits. He shook his head. Why did he torment himself like this? Why dream of something that could never be? He knew he wasn’t going to stride over there, spin Ford away from the printer, and pull him into a kiss. So why pretend he might?

Vaughan had always been painfully shy. His work didn’t require much in the way of external interaction, and over the years, he’d learned to manage his condition with friends and co-workers, but he still faltered when it came to romance. Although he was officially out to his colleagues, having determined to get that drama dealt with from the get-go, the idea of dating Ford with them all knowing about it, and doubtless smirking behind his back, was enough to send genuine shivers down his spine. Besides, what would Ford want with someone like him? Vaughan was a boring average Joe; Ford deserved someone special.

Then there was the risk of rejection and its aftermath. If he approached Ford and Ford rebuffed him, how would Vaughan be able to face him at work each day? The same would be true if, by some miracle, they did hook up and it didn’t work out. Office romances were minefields, and he had no desire to be blown to smithereens, no matter how strong the inducement.

Nevertheless, Vaughan regularly dreamed about Ford and sought every opportunity to learn more about the object of his affection. Thank god for social media! Already friends with some of his other colleagues on various platforms, he’d summoned the courage to send Ford a request shortly after meeting him, and Ford had approved the connection. Despite being less shy online, Vaughan never commented on anything he saw on Ford’s page, unwilling to draw attention to himself, but he viewed Ford’s profile religiously after work each day and read any new posts. Ford rarely shared selfies or anything about his friends and family, but he did provide tantalizing information on his likes and dislikes, so over the last twenty-four months, Vaughan had acquired a fairly comprehensive understanding of Ford’s hobbies and interests. Video gaming and comic books covered the bulk of it, but Ford also seemed to enjoy classical music and a wide range of films. Were someone to create a quiz category on Ford Ackerman’s favourite superheroes, Vaughan would score full points.

Ford shut the printer tray and straightened. He scrunched the mangled sheet of copy paper he’d retrieved from its depths in his fist, before tossing it into the nearby recycling bin. Then he studied the display and pressed a series of buttons. The printer rumbled back to life, happily spewing forth sheet after sheet, and Ford watched it for a moment, no doubt to check all was well. When he turned to go, he looked in Vaughan’s direction and caught his eye.

Panic laced through Vaughan, but he managed to flash a faint smile and a nod of greeting as he raised a file in front of his face to hide his flushed cheeks. He needed to take more care. It wouldn’t do to be caught staring like that again. He didn’t want Ford to get the wrong idea. Or the right one. Ford was a beautiful fantasy. The last thing Vaughan wanted was to ruin that.

The Peppermint Schnapps Predicament by Clare London
I GUESS you might say my current predicament is punishment for my sins.

What sins? you ask, amazed that a cute twink like me with such angelic features and a sweet, sunny disposition could be so debauched.

Oh, but I admit it! I throw my hands in the air and proclaim my dissolution. This afternoon, Greed and Lust led me to a moment’s weakness, yet who can blame me? It’s Friday, it’s later than the usual clocking-off time because of the annual inventory at Mason’s Emporium—here in the Seasonal Gifts and Festivities department—and it’s the end of a too-long, loathsome week in retail. Why wouldn’t I look for some distraction and delight to lift my weary spirits?

As usual, my eyes were drawn irresistibly to Bill Mason, manager of SG&F, son of the original founder of the store, and my current supervisor. All hail the Supreme Being of Boy Crushes, who obviously influenced the staff rota on my behalf! Bill Mason, a Channing Tatum lookalike right down to the mischievous smile, and not forgetting to linger on the very finest musculature, all wrapped in an appealing package of checked flannel shirt and ass-hugging jeans. Bill Mason, always strong, steady, and self-disciplined, with a bossy bark to his minions that fair makes my balls clench in ecstatic fright. Bill Mason, working so close to me while we check inventory that I can smell the shampoo he uses—masculine and musky, just like him—and occasionally brush my hand against his brawny body on the pretext of helping carry a box or two. Or four, in his case. Oh, see those biceps strain.

When Bill strode off to the overflow storeroom at the back of the warehouse, I—poor infatuated fool that I am—trotted after him like a sheep, blithely shackled for shearing. I shuffled into the room virtually on his heels, so when he turned to catch the door, I got in his way. Like, right up in his face, much to his righteous shock. By the time we’d done the yelp of surprise from him and the “Sorry! Sorry!” from me, the door had slammed shut behind us.

And now I’m in The Predicament. Just like I said before, although in a rather roundabout way. There’s no door handle on the inside, you see. It fell off last week and Mikey from Maintenance hasn’t gotten around to fixing it yet, with Christmas being our busiest season and all. Besides, everyone in the warehouse knows to keep the door propped open when they use this particular room.

Except me, obviously.

Oh, Mr. Disturbance and Subversion, that’s me.

And looks like I’ve brought Bill Mason down to my level.


Felicitas Ivey
Felicitas Ivey is the pen name of a very frazzled helpdesk drone at a Boston-area university. She's an eternal student even with a BA in anthropology and history, since free classes are part of the benefits. She's taken courses on gothic architecture, premodern Japanese literature, and witchcraft, just because they sounded like fun. She has traveled to Japan and Europe and hopes to return to both in the future.

She knits and cross-stitches avidly, much to the disgust of her cat, Smaugu, who wants her undivided attention. He's also peeved that she spends so much time writing instead of petting him. She writes urban fantasy and horror of a Lovecraftian nature, monsters beyond space and time that think that humans are the tastiest things in the multiverse.

Felicitas lives in Boston with her beloved husband, known to all as The Husband, and the aforementioned cat, whom the husband swears is a demon, even though it's his fault that they have the cat. The husband also is worried about Felicitas’s anime habit, her love for J-Pop music, and her extensive collection of Yaoi manga and Gundam Wing doujinshi, which has turned her library into a Very Scary Place for him.

Asta Idonea
Asta Idonea is an alternate pen name of author Nicki J Markus.

Nicki was born in England in 1982, but now lives in Adelaide, South Australia with her husband. She has loved both reading and writing from a young age and is also a keen linguist, having studied several foreign languages.

Nicki launched her writing career in 2011 when she released several short stories with Wicked Nights Publishing. She then had two novellas published with Silver Publishing, prior to the company’s closure.

At present, she has several new projects on the go. As well as branching out into the exciting world of M/M under the pen name Asta Idonea, Nicki is working on the first book in a fantasy-mythology trilogy and hopes to find a publisher for it in 2015.

Nicki currently works as a freelance editor and proofreader, and in her spare time she enjoys completing MOOCs and pursuing other interests, including: reading; music; theatre; cinema; photography; sketching; and cross stitch. She also loves history, folklore and mythology, pen-palling and travel.

Avery Ford
Avery Ford spends way too much time daydreaming so finally decided to put some of her stories into print. An avid reader, she loves writing contemporary M/M romance.

KC Wells
Born and raised in the north-west of England, K.C. WELLS always loved writing. Words were important. Full stop. However, when childhood gave way to adulthood, the writing ceased, as life got in the way. K.C. discovered erotic fiction in 2009, when the purchase of a ménage storyline led to the startling discovery that reading about men in love was damn hot. In 2012, arriving at a really low point in life led to the desperate need to do something creative.

An even bigger discovery waited in the wings—writing about men in love was even hotter….

K.C. now writes full-time and is loving every minute of her new career. The laptop still has no idea of what hit it… it only knows that it wants a rest, please. And it now has to get used to the idea that where K.C goes, it goes.

And as for those men in love that she writes about? The list of stories just waiting to be written is getting longer… and longer….

K.C. loves to hear from readers.

Clare London
Clare took the pen name London from the city where she lives, loves, and writes. A lone, brave female in a frenetic, testosterone-fuelled family home, she juggles her writing with her other day job as an accountant.

She’s written in many genres and across many settings, with award-winning novels and short stories published both online and in print. She says she likes variety in her writing while friends say she’s just fickle, but as long as both theories spawn good fiction, she’s happy. Most of her work features male/male romance and drama with a healthy serving of physical passion, as she enjoys both reading and writing about strong, sympathetic and sexy characters.

Clare currently has several novels sulking at that tricky chapter 3 stage and plenty of other projects in mind . . . she just has to find out where she left them in that frenetic, testosterone-fuelled family home.

All the details and free fiction are available at her website. Visit her today and say hello!


Felicitas Ivey
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Asta Idonea
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Avery Ford
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KC Wells
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Clare London
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And to All a Good Night by Felicitas Ivey
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Of Printers and Presents by Asta Idonea

Santa Baby by Avery Ford

A Christmas Promise by KC Wells

The Peppermint Schnapps Predicament by Clare London

Review Tour: Secret Santa by Jay Norhcote

Title: Secret Santa
Author: Jay Northcote
Genre: M/M Holiday Romance
Release Date: November 24, 2017
Cover Design: Garrett Leigh at Black Jazz Design
Summary:
Keeping secrets is never a good way to start a relationship

Theo hardly has time to date. Between work and caring for his four-year-old son there aren’t many hours left over. He’s lonely though, so he joins a hook-up app and starts chatting to a guy called Luke. Luke seems friendly and they arrange to meet. Theo doesn’t mention that he has a child. It’s early days and he’s worried about putting Luke off before they get to know each other.

Luke is currently working as Santa at the local shopping mall. He figures Theo never has to know. Christmas will be over soon and Luke will move on to a new, less embarrassing job. He’s surprised when Theo and a little boy visit Santa one afternoon. Theo doesn’t recognise Luke, and Luke realises he’s not the only one with a secret.

Despite misgivings on both sides, they start dating, and the chemistry is amazing. But as Christmas approaches their secrets pile up like colourful packages under the tree. If they’re not careful, they’ll lose the best gift of all—each other.


After joining a dating app Theo and Luke begin chatting and after a canceled coffee date they finally meet.  The connection is there but both men are keeping a secret.  Theo has a son and Luke is a store Santa.  They both have valid and understanding reasons for keeping their secrets, but when the truths come out will Christmas bring cheer or coal to the men?

Secret Santa is a fun and entertaining holiday read.  I loved how the connection between the two men is instant and yet the element of "is it enough for another date?" is hanging in the air.  Theo and Luke are both very likable characters that you just want to give them a giant bear hug to let them know how much you love them.  They may be fictional characters and the situation they find themselves in is not something you would likely find yourself in but at the same time the writer has written it in a way that you could easily believe you are sitting there listening to a friend tell you that is how they met their partner.

Its that blend of fiction and possibility that makes Secret Santa so enjoyable, so heartwarming, and just plain fun.  It may not be right away next holiday season but I am definitely looking forward to revisiting Theo and Luke's journey again.  Jay Northcote has another winner on his hands with Secret Santa, a true holiday treat.

RATING: 


Author Bio:
Jay lives just outside Bristol in the West of England. He comes from a family of writers, but always used to believe that the gene for fiction writing had passed him by. He spent years only ever writing emails, articles, or website content.

One day, Jay decided to try and write a short story—just to see if he could—and found it rather addictive. He hasn’t stopped writing since.

Jay writes contemporary romance about men who fall in love with other men. He has five books published by Dreamspinner Press, and also self-publishes under the imprint Jaybird Press. Many of his books are now available as audiobooks.

Jay is transgender and was formerly known as she/her.


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November 24 - Gay Book ReviewsMikku-chan
November 27 - Out Of My HeadMirrigold: Mutterings & Musings
December 1 - The Day Before You CameMillsy Loves BooksV's Reads
December 4 - BooksLaidBareBoys
December 6 - Drops of InkAu Boudoir Ecarlate
December 8 - My Fiction Nook
December 12 - Valerie Ullmer, Padme's LibraryNicole's Book MusingsWicked Faerie's Tales & Reviews
December 14 - Books Lovers 4EverMaking It HappenSlashsessedScattered Thoughts & Rogue WordsWicked Reads
December 16 - Jim's Reading RoomBayou Book JunkieXtreme DelusionsThe Way She Reads

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Pre-Order Blitz: Playing it Cool by Zoë Mullins

Title: Playing it Cool
Author: Zoë Mullins
Series: Men of Steele
Genre: Erotic Contemporary Romance
Expected Release Date: January 9, 2018
Summary:
When Spencer’s old college roommate offers him a job at Steele Construction, he doesn’t hesitate. Not only does he get to be closer to his sister and her family, he may finally have the chance to repair the rift between himself and his parents.

His parents live only three hours away but it may as well be on Mars as a blizzard moving up the coast has him seeking refuge at The Red Gate Inn. Spencer prides himself on playing it cool, but something about the raven-haired innkeeper has him overheated.

As a single working mom, Gina didn’t get much time to herself. With her mom and daughter off to Florida for a week, and the inn she owns closed for the holidays, she is looking forward to some me time. Then it started to snow. In good conscience she couldn’t turn away her brother’s newest employee when he needed shelter from the storm, but her guest has her feeling anything but professional.

It may be cold outside but things are heating up at the Inn.


He could still see the faint outline of tires tracks from a vehicle somewhere in front of him but the snow was getting deeper. Fast. The vehicle who made the tracks couldn’t be seen, but he didn’t think it was because it was so far ahead, it was just hidden by the all encompassing blanket of white. A blizzard had not been in the forecast when he headed out this morning. 

There was no way he was getting to his parents in Maine this tonight. He’d be lucky if he got to The Red Gate Inn. When the snow began to fall and his tires had begun to slip and slide, he’d called his friend Ben who lived in this area, hoping for a recommendation should he have to get off the road. Ben had called him right back with an updated forecast and directions to the best B&B, his words, in St. George. If only I can find the place, he thought. 

It was on the outskirts of town, but not far from the highway. He’d already passed by where he thought it should be once, had turned around and was now coming at it from the other direction. Through the snow, he saw a figure in a red parka, brushing off a sign near where he thought the street still was. He slowed down. 

He could see the outline of the driveway and though it looked recently plowed, it was filling in fast. Peeking out over the snowbank he saw the tip of a gate. A red gate. That must be it. 

He hit the window control, lowering the passenger window. A puff of cold air invaded the warmth of the car’s interior and the snowflakes instantly began to melt into little puddles on his front seat. 

“Is this The Red Gate Inn?” he asked the figure which he could now tell was a woman. She was bundled up in the parka, a toque covering her hair, and a scarf hiding the lower half of her face. He could only see her dark, sparkling eyes. Little ice crystals had formed on the end of her lashes. 

“You must be Spencer,” she said, pulling the scarf down to her chin. “I was getting worried. I couldn’t believe it when Ben said you were out in this weather. Drive on up – I will meet you there.” She gestured to the stately Victorian home at the end of the drive. 

“Do you want me to drive you up?” 

She gave his car a quick look, and he thought she was evaluating its pristine interior, then she smiled. “No it’s okay – I’ll meet you there.” 

He frowned, and rolled up the window. He didn’t know why but her swift dismissal of the car displeased him. It was only a rental, and while he’d asked for snow tires, he should have been smart and also asked for four-wheel drive. 

The car wasn’t cutting it and yeah, he laughed, he couldn’t blame her for turning down the ride. She was probably able to walk to the house faster than he was able to navigate the sedan to the top of the drive. Of course the house was up a hill, he shook his head.



Invitation to Play #1
Summary:
Deacon has never been the jealous type. Sharing his sub was an integral part of their relationship, especially before they were married. It’s been a year since they’ve invited another to play with them, but then Deacon and Sherri meet Kai, the intriguing ex-Air Force Captain turned tattoo artist.

Kai didn’t care if people thought he was gay, but having his father – the Colonel – shame him publicly for it was more than Kai could take. He moved across the country to start an honest life. He didn’t expect that life would include a new relationship.

Kai isn’t sure where he fits into Deacon and Sherri’s relationship – they didn’t need a bisexual Dom with a chip on his shoulder… or did they?

Reader Advisory: Grab a glass of wine, sit back and relax. This story has two hot Doms and their pampered sub -tonight no one is going to bed unsatisfied. Graphic sexual language and scenes are to be expected. (BDSM, MMF and MM scenes)

Author Bio:
A prolific writer, even in elementary school, she was jotting down poems and stories whenever she had the chance - usually during math class.

After many years of working in corporate communications, Zoë decided in 2015 it was time to focus her energy on the kind of writing she loved – hot romances with strong, alpha heroes and quirky, independent heroines.

Zoë’s husband of nearly 20 years threw his full support behind that dream and loves to tell people his wife is a romance author. They live in Atlantic Canada with their two crazy collies. When not at her computer, you will find Zoë chasing after her muddy dogs, working in the garden or helping to renovate their money-pit of a house.


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Play it Cool #2
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Invitation to Play #1
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Monday, December 11, 2017

Monday Morning's Menu: The Mature Man's Guide to Surviving Change by Chris Scully


Summary:
In the sunny playground of Palm Springs, growing up was something confirmed bachelor and bad-boy chef Joel avoided at all costs—until a close friend’s death made him reevaluate his priorities. Ever since, he’s been dedicated to helping his widowed friend Perry get back on his feet by teaching him to cook and providing a shoulder to cry on. But when Perry announces that he’s ready to start dating again and then begins receiving gifts from an anonymous secret Santa, Joel is forced to confront the feelings he’s suppressed for so long.

As Joel struggles with jealousy and guilt amid the holiday season, he must decide if he’s ready to grow up and reach for what he’s always wanted but never thought he could have.

A story from the Dreamspinner Press 2017 Advent Calendar "Stocking Stuffers."


Joel has avoided serious relationship commitment all his life but now that his friend has passed away and he's been looking out for the husband left behind, has his thoughts changed on love?  Having harbored feelings for the grieving husband for years will he take the leap now that Perry has decided he's ready to start dating again?

I'm going to jump right in and start by saying I loved that Joel and Perry are older and more mature than the norm in romance tales.  I'll admit that I haven't really reached the point where I want to read that generation on an every day basis but its refreshing when you find one so well written.  Add in the holiday element and Chris Scully has brought a wonderful, loving novella sized journey of friendship, second chances, and new beginnings.  Throw in secret Santas, jealousy, and some self-denial and you are looking at a lovely holiday gift from the author that will warm your heart and leave you smiling.  What more can a reader ask for?

RATING: 


WHEN CHANGE arrives, it may unfortunately come as a shock.

“I THINK I’m ready to start dating again.”

Perry’s bombshell almost made me drop the tray of crispy samosas I was pulling from the oven. I blamed my misstep on the hot baking sheet and pretended I hadn’t heard him. Not a stretch given the music and the laughter that rippled like a warm breeze across Simon’s million-dollar backyard to the outdoor kitchen.

“How would you feel about that, Joel?” Perry probed, raising his voice a little. The mirrored glass of his aviators caught the afternoon sun and blinded me with the reflection.

I blinked. “About what?”

“About me dating again.”

“Looking good, Perry,” someone called from the pool. “Come on in—the water’s warm.” My heart sunk as Perry waved his hand in acknowledgment. He was looking good, and I wasn’t the only one noticing how the turquoise polo shirt set off his thick silver-threaded hair and the camel-colored chinos hugged his ass. He’d regained most of the weight he’d lost while Dale was sick, and since he’d started jogging again, he glowed with good health.

“So,” he said, returning to our conversation.

Head down, I arranged the golden triangles onto the serving platter next to the potato croquetas and dusted them with a pinch of finely chopped coriander. “Why ask me? You don’t need my permission.”

Silence. “Well, because you were Dale’s friend first. It might be weird for you.”

What I wouldn’t have given to strip off my clothes, hop in the crowded spa with a drink in my hand, and avoid this conversation. But it was my first time working one of Simon’s parties in a professional capacity, and I wanted to make a good impression. After a year of struggling, my personal chef business was finally taking off, and Simon’s recommendation would take it even further. I just wished he hadn’t elected to go with the menu of hors d’oeuvres and small plates. It was far more complicated than a sit-down dinner, and I was already tired and stressed.

“Here.” I thrust the plate of appetizers into the hands of a tanned waiter who materialized at my side, barely glancing at the Santa hat and matching red bikini he wore.

“Do you think they’re cold, dressed like that?” Perry murmured in my ear. “Or should I say undressed? It’s barely seventy degrees today.”

“Who? The waitstaff? Judging by the size of that guy’s package, he’s not cold in the least.”

Author Bio:
Unique characters. Heartwarming stories. Chris Scully lives in Toronto, Canada and grew up spinning romantic stories in her head. When the tedium of her corporate day job grew too much, she took a chance and found her escape in writing. Now she longs for the day she can make writing a full-time career. Her stories feature everyday characters falling in love. She hopes to write across multiple genres, but you can always count on a happy ending.

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