March 14, 2016
Who doesn’t love Paris? And Paris in the spring may be my favorite season. Rather than try to put into words things that defy explanation, I thought you might enjoy seeing some pictures of just why I love it so much.
This isn’t any special street. It’s actually right up the street from our hotel, but turn your head and suddenly you’re staring at the Eiffel Tower.
Or at other pieces of interesting architecture. Notice the tile design on the roof line of the curved turret.
This one goes to show one of my favorite things about France. Old buildings aren’t torn down. They’re repurposed for a new and different use.
Okay, enough architecture. How about some spring pictures…?
Not every day is beautiful in Paris, but even the dreary ones are dramatic.
And if you know the right people, you might even get…
Lambs! (Okay, so that one doesn’t have anything to do with Paris, but it is in France in the spring and it was too cute not to share.)
Now that I’ve spammed you with pictures, you’re probably wondering what that has to do with At Your Service. Anthony has the chance to visit Paris in the spring as part of his job, and the last day he’s there is one much like I had when I took the first set of pictures (along with the hundred others I didn’t make you look at). He and Paul, a native Parisian, spend the day in the city doing their best to avoid tourist spots. They wander the residential streets and an out-of-the-way park and bask in the glory of Paris.
“What a perfect day!” Anthony said as they climbed the stairs to street level at their destination. “I’m not sure I’ve ever been in Paris on a day like this.”
“Have you ever been in Paris in the spring?” Paul asked. “Because this is not unusual for this time of year.”
“No, it’s either been in the summer when it was hot and not a breath of air to be found in the city or in the winter when it was cold and gray. Before I came in the summer the first time, I used to joke that the pictures on the postcards with blue skies behind the monuments were staged, with a huge blue cloth hung behind the buildings. I’d seen the buildings, but never the blue sky.”
“Then I’m glad we decided to spend the day outside,” Paul said. “You can visit the museums on cold, rainy winter days or the hot summer ones when you have to escape to somewhere with air-conditioning.”
“I’ve done plenty of escaping both kinds of weather, but not today. Come on. I want to see the park.”
“Let’s find food first. We can carry it with us until we’re ready to eat, but otherwise we’d have to come back out of the park when we get hungry,” Paul suggested, although the eagerness on Anthony’s face made him want to hurry so he could see Anthony’s reaction to the park. He didn’t come all the way across town often, but he had attended a cousin’s wedding several years ago and remembered well the manicured lawns and ornate stonework of the follies. They could easily spend hours wandering through the park, and this way they could do it undisturbed.
They found a charcuterie nearby and stocked up on ham and thinly sliced sausage, and the bakery next door netted them two baguettes to share. They walked back to the main entrance of the park through the wrought-iron gates tipped with gold leaf. “Even away from the center of town, everything is so ornate,” Anthony commented.
When Anthony Mercer walked into Au cœur du terroir, he was looking for good food and a pleasant evening spent with a friend. He never expected to meet—and sleep with—Paul Delescluse, a waiter at the restaurant. After spending a magical week together in Paris, Anthony must return to his life in North Carolina, while Paul remains in France.
Despite the distance and the lack of promises between them—Paul wants sex, not a relationship—Paul and Anthony forge a solid friendship. Then Anthony’s job takes him back to Paris, this time to stay. Paul is thrilled to have him back, but Anthony has a harder choice: be another of Paul’s conquests or fight for the relationship he knows they could have, if only Paul would believe it.
Still with me? Awesome! Share a picture of springtime in your favorite place to be entered to win a copy of At Your Service!
When Ariel Tachna was twelve years old, she discovered two things: the French language and romance novels. Those two loves have defined her ever since. By the time she finished high school, she’d written four novels, none of which anyone would want to read now, featuring a young woman who was—you guessed it—bilingual. That girl was everything Ariel wanted to be at age twelve and wasn’t.
She now lives on the outskirts of Houston with her husband (who also speaks French), her kids (who understand French even when they’re too lazy to speak it back), and their two dogs (who steadfastly refuse to answer any French commands).
February 12, 2016
If any of my family or anyone I grew up with reads Mute Witness (published by Dreamspinner’s sister house, DSP Publications and out on February 3, 2016), they’ll know I based the town in the book, Summitville, PA, on my own hometown of East Liverpool, OH.
In the book, I describe Summitville like this:
As Sean drove through the streets of Summitville, with their curves and rises as the concrete mapped out a destination on the hills, he couldn’t help but think what a contrast the little city presented: the beauty of the hills, rising up above the town, tree-covered, the Ohio River twisting through its valley, all scarred by the evidence of human habitation. The houses perched, clinging to the hillsides, most of them in need of paint or repair, the rusting carcasses of cars littering many of the driveways. People, too poor to afford air conditioning, sat on front porch stoops fanning themselves, staring dumbly at the traffic passing their homes. Sean wondered why he even bothered to live there. He was a good, if not great, writer, passable enough to maybe not write the great American novel as he had once dreamed of doing, but adequate enough to at least work at a larger newspaper in someplace like Pittsburgh or maybe even Chicago. But he knew the reason he stayed. And it wasn’t because his roots were here. Nor was it because of Austin, whom he had once figured would be happy to pull up stakes and follow him anywhere. Nor was it because of his job, which valued his writing ability at the majestic sum of $32,000 per year.
No, he stayed because of Jason. To be near his little boy. The only child he would ever have. He wanted to watch his son grow up, to shepherd him to adulthood, to make sure he grew up compassionate….
An article on rustwire.com “East Liverpool and the Unforgiving Economy of Rural Appalachia”, (from 2014) describes East Liverpool today sadly, yet accurately. Just a disclaimer—this little town is where my roots and most of my family and some dear old friends are, so I don’t mean to disparage, but only to illuminate my inspiration for the fictional town of Summitville. I think it’s interesting to see how a kind of grim story arose from these grim surroundings.
But, like the fictional town and the real one, and the book and real life, where hope lives, redemption can arise. Read for yourself and see.
“About 100 miles Southeast of Cleveland, nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, along the Ohio River sits the small city of East Liverpool, Ohio. Once known as the pottery capitol of the world, many of the China and glassware factories have closed, as have the steel mills where many East Liverpool residents once worked. In its heyday during World War II, almost 50,000 people lived in East Liverpool. Today the city’s population tops off at just above 10,000.
“Nearly 30 percent of all residents live below the poverty level. The per capita income is just more than $16,000. The unemployment rate is 13 percent. It’s a city where almost every second or third house seems to be abandoned, and not just abandoned. Some are burnt out. Some are falling down. The locals talk about the incessant and merciless drug traffic. They say dealers have come up to the city from the east coast – having found a robust market for heroin and other opiates. The drug trade wreaks constant havoc on the streets. In late September, five people were shot there in a single night.”
The abuse of a little boy turns a community against a loving gay couple, and nobody comes out of it unscathed.
Sean and Austin have the perfect life: new love, a riverfront home, security. Their love for one another is only multiplied when Sean’s eight-year-old son, Jason, visits on the weekends.
And then their perfect world shatters.
Jason goes missing.
When the boy turns up days later, he’s been so horribly abused he’s lost the power to speak. Immediately small town minds turn to the boy’s gay father and his lover as the likely culprits. What was a warm, welcoming community becomes a lynching party out for blood.
As Sean and Austin struggle to stay together amidst innuendo, the very real threat of Sean losing the son he loves emerges. Yet the true villain is much closer to home, intent on ensuring the boy’s muteness is permanent.
DSP Publications ebook: https://www.dsppublications.com/books/mute-witness-by-rick-r-reed-206-b
DSP Publications paperback: https://www.dsppublications.com/books/mute-witness-by-rick-r-reed-207-b
Note: When you buy the paperback from DSP Publications, you get the ebook for FREE.
RICK R. REED is all about exploring the romantic entanglements of gay men in contemporary, realistic settings. While his stories often contain elements of suspense, mystery and the paranormal, his focus ultimately returns to the power of love. He is the author of dozens of published novels, novellas, and short stories. He is a three-time EPIC eBook Award winner (for Caregiver, Orientation and The Blue Moon Cafe). He is also a Rainbow Award Winner for both Caregiver and Raining Men. Lambda Literary Review has called him, “a writer that doesn’t disappoint.”
Rick lives in Seattle with his husband and a very spoiled Boston terrier. He is forever “at work on another novel.”
Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/rickrreedbooks
September 12, 2015
How do you rate guys? Do you have a system? What kind of man turns your head and what kind makes you simply shrug and say, “meh”?
In my book, Legally Wed (Dreamspinner Press, January 2014), my sort-of “Will and Grace” best friends, Marilyn and Duncan, have developed a unique rating system for identifying who is leer-worthy and who, sadly, is not. The following excerpt details their system. I encourage you to share how you rate men in the comments below—or just share what you think of Marilyn and Duncan’s unique classification system.
Excerpt from Legally Wed by Rick R. Reed (Dreamspinner Press, January 2014)
“What the fuck are you staring at?” Marilyn had strained to turn around in her seat, to try and follow the line of Duncan’s gaze. Marilyn never wanted to miss out if Duncan had spotted a hot guy. Looking out for one another was one of the many ways they cemented their friendship. That, and the way they rated men, using a food system:
Dee. Lish. Us. was the top of the heap, the guys who could stop traffic, open doors, inducing in the viewer heart palpitations. These were men who either were models or could have been, with little effort. The DLU guys were so gorgeous that both Marilyn and Duncan realized—and accepted—they moved on a different plane from mere mortals. Thus, they could never be approached, for to talk to them would risk one being blinded by their magnificence. They saw very few men who actually warranted the DLU label, but when they did, oh boy, did they love to look, in spite of the intimidation their beauty inspired.
Yummy. These guys were the good-looking ones that were still hot, but fell into the realm of the approachable. They could be young or old, tall or short, stocky or thin, hairy or hairless—they could be anything, as long as something about them caught the eye of either Marilyn or Duncan, who had very similar taste in men. If there was a commonality to these men, it was that they were most often regular guys who, more than their good looks, exuded a sense of confidence and masculinity which was immediately apparent and, often, immediately magnetic. Duncan’s sole sexual experience these past several months had been with a yummy man, a shaved head, bearded guy who worked on one of the commuter ferries in town. Duncan thought he had hit pay dirt until he had gone home with the guy and seen his Barbie collection. Oh well, they had spent a pretty amazing night together, one for which Duncan had been long overdue, but he declined when Abbott, as his name was, called to see if Duncan wanted to go along with him to a meeting of his favorite social group, Gays and Dolls, a group of doll-collecting gay men. As lovely as it sounded, Duncan didn’t think the group was for him and probably Abbott wasn’t either.
Edible. Truth was, most guys fell into this category. These were not the men you stopped on the street to admire. These were the run-of-the-mill guys that most people did not notice. But Marilyn and Duncan had found that, if you took the time to really look, you could always find something quirky or wonderful about these men to admire. It might be something as simple as a pair of cool retro glasses that shielded a pair of amazing brown eyes, or a brilliant tattoo-sleeve of dragons or birds running down one manly arm, or perhaps something not easily identified, such as kindness, a genuine warmth that came across in a smile.
Not quite appetizing. While Marilyn used this appellation more often than Duncan, he had to concede she was always spot-on in her estimations. The NQAs were guys who just didn’t appeal. They may not be terribly unattractive in any obvious way, but there was simply something about them that made them disagreeable. For example, a very good-looking man, one who might be a DLU, could become an NQA if he gave off too much of a self-absorbed vibe. Duncan had seen one such situation in a men’s room at a bar once, where a man they had both admired (and Duncan followed into the bathroom, even though he didn’t have to go—hey, he was gay after all) had disappeared. And there, Duncan had witnessed a full-fledged love affair that the guy had—with the mirror. Duncan would later swear to Marilyn he hadn’t even seen Duncan or any of the other men entering the restroom as he adjusted his black hair just so, gazing rapturously at himself, and even, at one point, treating himself to a smile and a wink. Not all NQAs were of this variety, but they all did not appeal, for one reason or another.
Tofu. These were the bottom of the barrel, the flavorless guys, the ones who, sadly, just failed to register at all on their attraction meter. For Duncan, these men were as rare as the DLUs, because he could usually find something worthwhile about a man, be it a strong nose, or a good haircut, or even the way he carried himself across a crowded dance floor. Marilyn was less kind but even she too would admit that very few guys were actually tofu and those that were, well, they probably never noticed them anyway.
“Do you see a DLU?” Marilyn turned back to Duncan, eyes bright with anticipation.
“Well, kind of, in my eyes, anyway.”
“Where?” Marilyn did an almost Linda Blair-like swivel of her head.
Hope the above entices you to want to read more from my latest! More information is just below:
Love comes along when you least expect it. That’s what Duncan Taylor’s sister, Scout, tells him. Scout has everything Duncan wants—a happy life with a wonderful husband. Now that Seattle has made gay marriage legal, Duncan knows he can have the same thing. But when he proposes to his boyfriend Tucker, he doesn’t get the answer he hoped for. Tucker’s refusal is another misstep in a long line of failed romances. Despairing, Duncan thinks of all the loving unions in his life—and how every one of them is straight. Maybe he could be happy, if not sexually compatible, with a woman. When zany, gay-man-loving Marilyn Samples waltzes into his life, he thinks he may have found his answer.
Determined to settle, Duncan forgets his sister’s wisdom about love and begins planning a wedding with Marilyn. But life throws Duncan a curveball. When he meets wedding planner Peter Dalrymple, unexpected sparks ignite. Neither man knows how long he can resist his powerful attraction to the other. For sure, there’s a wedding in the future. But whose?
Dreamspinner Ebook: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=4531
Dreamspinner Paperback: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=4532
Amazon Paperback: http://www.amazon.com/Legally-Wed-Rick-R-Reed/dp/1627982043/
AllRomance eBooks: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-legallywed-1387389-149.html
Rick R. Reed Biography
Rick R. Reed is all about exploring the romantic entanglements of gay men in contemporary, realistic settings. While his stories often contain elements of suspense, mystery and the paranormal, his focus ultimately returns to the power of love. He is the author of dozens of published novels, novellas, and short stories. He is a three-time EPIC eBook Award winner (for Caregiver, Orientation and The Blue Moon Cafe). Lambda Literary Review has called him, “a writer that doesn’t disappoint.” Rick lives in Seattle with his husband and a very spoiled Boston terrier. He is forever “at work on another novel.”
Write to Rick at email@example.com
August 31, 2015
Hi everyone, it’s still Louise.
Some of you may have heard a little of how I started writing from my author bio, but it’s only brief. So here’s how it all started.
When I was a very little girl, my Nana (grandmother, pictured above with me aged 3) used to stay at mine and my parents’ house for a few days every Christmas. We didn’t have a spare bedroom so she slept on the couch and early in the mornings I’d go and wake her up, then sit under the blanket by her feet while she told me fantasy stories. I’m sure that was one of the main things to spark my imagination, as well as the fact that writing runs in the family, with my mother being a published poet.
From storytelling as a young child, I progressed to writing short stories from around age 8, using my mum’s old manual typewriter, one letter at a time. It started with little girls and ponies (I was a keen horse rider), and developed into very basic MF romances in my early teens. I won a writing competition in my English class at school when I was 12, and had the mortifying moment of being called up on stage in the drama hall to receive my prize. I was so embarrassed I couldn’t speak and just stood there laughing!
After a friend showed me the British gay romance movies, My Beautiful Laundrette, starring Daniel Day Lewis, my cheesy MF romances developed into MM romances, usually featuring my favorite rock stars – my own version of Fanfiction before I’d ever heard of it. Of course, no one ever saw these stories except me and I never dreamed of trying to publish anything at that stage.
My writing was pushed aside for a few years when I got married, as my husband and I traveled a lot and I read instead of putting pen to paper. But it soon resurfaced when I accidentally stumbled upon Fanfictions based on Once Upon A Time n Mexico, a movie I loved at the time. I wrote a couple of my own, then branch into other fandoms such as Predator, Dr. Quinn, True Women and eventually… *cough* Twilight. Yes, I love Twilight and I’m not ashamed to admit it. Nor am I ashamed of the fics I wrote based on it, because if it hadn’t been for my loyal readers and fellow writers of that fandom, I wouldn’t have made an effort to submit something to a publisher. Several of my friends gave me a bit of a kick up the proverbial and encouraged me to try and be an original published writer.
The rest, as they say, is history. Beautiful Thunder is my fourth published novel, and there are four short stories and two novellas in between. Hopefully many more to come.
You can find all of my current works on my LOUISE LYONS AMAZON page.
If you’re a writer, how did it all start for you? If you’re a reader, what draws you to a book the most?
August 31, 2015
Hi everyone, Louise Lyons still on the blog.
A few people have asked me lately what I’m currently working on, now that Beautiful Thunder has taken its first step out into the world.
Well, firstly I’ve been working on edits for a novella entitled Finding Beck and have just received the cover art for it. It’s set in the same time period as Beautiful Thunder (the 1990s) but is based in my old hometown, Grimsby and Cleethorpes (the two are merged together), in the UK. I used to go to another rock nightclub called Jezebels who had a rock night on Fridays, and my main character, Martin Lynch, meets his love interest Beck in that club. The pair quickly fall for each other, but worry about the potential reactions of Martin’s housemate Graham, and both sets of parents. Some responses are better than others! You can expect to see this available around the middle of October.
I’m also working on a full length novel set in Prague, another city I’ve visited. The book is entitled Cervena, which is “red” in Czech and is the name of a strip/dance/cocktail club owned by main character, Joel Jones, an Englishman who has lived in Prague for ten years. He discovers a young homeless Russian boy named Sasha, offers him a job as a dancer, and quickly develops a strong attraction to Sasha. But their new relationship is fraught with obstacles including the death of Joel’s mother in London, betrayal by his business partner, Karel, and threats from someone to whom Karel owes a substantial amount of money. Joel is convinced he will lose Sasha one way or another, and has to decide what is most important to him – Cervena or Sasha.
This story is about four chapters away from being finished so I’m hoping to wrap it up in the next month.
I also have my first sci-fi romance in the pipeline. Regeneration was written during NaNoWriMo last year and finished during the month following. Kim Fortune is the only survivor of a new type of enhanced human in the galaxy of Sigma Kappa, far in the future. Having escaped the lab where he was created, he spends the first few years of freedom as an explorer, until he runs into a more successful member of his species – Christian Novak. Christian is everything Kim was supposed to be, but didn’t quite make the grade in, and he’s envious, confused, and insanely attracted to Chris. There seems no hope for them in the war-torn galaxy and Kim is convinced Chris will never feel anything for him – until Chris risks his life to rescue Kim from imprisonment after a crash landing on an inhospitable planet.
I’m reworking some of the story after advices from readers, and hope to submit this later in the year.
I have two other ideas in note form – a contemporary romance between two ex-jailbirds, and a paranormal romance featuring the ghost of a broken-hearted man who took his own life, so I have lots going on, which will hopefully all see the light of day during the next year.
But for now, Beautiful Thunder is my book of the moment. You can read another excerpt on my blog, during which Alex goes for an audition with Nottingham, UK band, the River Rats, and meets his love, Lindsey, for the first time. Click the link below.
August 31, 2015
Hi everyone, Louise here. I’m giving away one eBook from my backlist to one lucky winner!
You’ve all heard a little about my new release, Beautiful Thunder, on the previous two posts. Alex and Lindsey, a singer and guitarist in a struggling rock band in the 1990s, fall in love despite many obstacles, including fears of commitment, a health scare, trust issues and difficulties in the band.
What difficulties have you overcome to be with the one you love? Everyone who comments on this post to answer the question, will go into a random draw to choose one of my previous eBooks.
The books available to choose from are:-
Two competing gangs of car and drag racing enthusiasts with a shared history of pain and rivalry leading to outright hatred. Two men from opposite sides of the tracks, yet with more in common than they’d like to admit.
Paul Appleton is a troubled man who has never been in a relationship, having lost everyone he cared for in his life. His mother died when he was very young and subsequently, he lost his brother and his best friend. Now Paul is convinced love will always end in tears.
Greg was living on the streets after his parents died and was stabbed by a junkie, ending up in hospital. The Buchanans took Greg under their wing while doing charity work, and Greg joined their loving family when he was adopted. He and his siblings are also car enthusiasts with much more money and therefore better cars than Paul Appleton’s gang.
When they eventually find a connection, Paul fights his feelings and tries to convince himself his lover is only a temporary bit of fun, but Greg has other ideas.
The Eye of the Beholder
Vince Voss is obsessed with physical beauty. Influenced by his aunt, with whom he runs a modeling business, he has become unfeeling and cruel. Vince’s mother, who was a witch in life, returns to show him a better way to live. She casts a spell to take away his good looks and he finds himself challenged with searching for someone to love him, without the use of physical attraction.
Vince eventually meets a lonely male vampire, Peter, and despite his reluctance to get involved with him, he decides to use Peter to help him lift the spell. Little does he know that at first, Peter is using him too, and he finally realizes what’s really important when he falls for Peter along the way.
Beyond The Scars
After years of physical and mental abuse, Tommy Chadwick finally finds the strength to leave Colin, his tormentor. But Tommy soon finds that escaping his violent boyfriend was only the first step on his path to recovery. Now he must overcome feelings of worthlessness in order to rebuild his battered self-esteem.
Tommy’s lack of self-confidence prevents him from going out… at first, but then has him ricocheting from one man to another, desperately trying to please them in his search for love and acceptance.
After being rejected on New Year’s Eve, and then beaten after leaving the gay bar, he agrees to accompany his best friend, Sarah, to a martial arts club. There Tommy meets Marcus, a strong older man, who at first becomes his friend, introducing Tommy to new interests, and later, tentatively asks him on a date.
Will Marcus be the man to help Tommy put his past behind him and fall in love for real?
August 31, 2015
Hi everyone, it’s Louise here again. In this post, I’m giving you a little taster of Beautiful Thunder.
In the excerpt below, Alex and Lindsey kiss for the first time after Alex blunders into a gay club in an effort to avoid being seen by Lindsey in the street.
“I, um, I came in by mistake.” I hoped the lack of light in the club would disguise my red face. My cheeks felt as if they were on fire. Avoiding his eyes, I let my gaze drift down over his white ruffled shirt—the same one he’d had on that time in Rock City.
“Right. First you can’t make band practice because you’ve caught my fictitious flu, and now you’re in a gay club by accident?”
I groaned. “Yeah, I lied about being sick. I’m an idiot. I came in here because I saw you down the street and I didn’t want you to see me and realize I lied.”
Lindsey frowned. “Why lie? Why not just say you can’t make it? Presumably you were going out to pick up a girl.”
“I’m sorry.” I couldn’t tell him the truth—that I hadn’t wanted to face him—and the only other option was to let him think I’d let the band down in favor of getting my rocks off. “It won’t happen again. What are you doing in here, anyway?”
“I come in here every couple of weeks. I was intending to catch up with some friends.”
“So you skipped practice too?” I raised an eyebrow.
“I didn’t skip. Mark rang me and said you were ill and asked if I wanted to practice anyway. We decided to leave it and have a longer session tomorrow instead, with or without you.”
“Sorry,” I repeated. I took a long gulp of my beer. “I told Mark I’d caught your flu. Stupid, I know. I wasn’t thinking. I’ll get out of here in a minute. I don’t want to cramp your style.”
“I’m not looking for a bit of fun, Alex,” Lindsey snapped. “We don’t all get off with some random stranger every other night.”
“Nor do I. Not for a while.”
“But you don’t date. I doubt you can even remember the name of the last girl you were with.”
He was right, I couldn’t remember, and I covered it up by trying to sound annoyed. “Why are you having a go at me? Because you think I’m a slut? Or because I lied about being ill?”
“Neither. I’m sorry. I’m going to get a drink.”
I stayed where I was as Lindsey went to the bar and engaged in a chat with someone while he waited to be served. He shook hands with the other man and then leaned on the bar and talked to the barman. Eventually, he returned to me, carrying a bottle of Bud.
“I’ve nearly finished this.” I indicated my own bottle. “Then I’ll go.”
Lindsey nodded and sipped his beer. He didn’t speak, and I fiddled with my bottle, trying not to stare at him. He looked good as usual, and for once he wasn’t wearing makeup. His jeans were so tight, he probably had to use a shoehorn to get into them. I couldn’t stop myself imagining us in various scenarios—dancing like the two guys a few yards away, kissing like the pair nearby who were still at it. Would Lindsey even be interested in me?
I didn’t know how long we stood there not talking. Lindsey interrupted my thoughts with a muttered curse, and I looked up. “What’s wrong?”
“The dark-haired bloke who just came in. The one in the red shirt.”
I looked toward the door and spotted the man Lindsey had described. His collar-length hair framed a rugged face, and his muscular body indicated he worked out regularly. I had no idea what Lindsey’s type was, but I hadn’t imagined him going for someone like that. The man looked like he had a lot of power to put behind a punch. I put my bottle down on a nearby table and clenched my fists. “Do you want to leave?”
“No, I’m going to speak to him. I’m sick to death of jumping out of my skin whenever someone rings me or knocks on the door.”
“I could talk to him.”
Lindsey shook his head. “Don’t interfere, Alex. Stay here.” He put his drink on the table and strode away from me. I watched, grinding my teeth, as he halted close to Steve and spoke to him. Sweat stuck my shirt to my back. I knew nothing about Steve other than that he’d hurt Lindsey, and I wanted to go over there and punch the man’s lights out.
The pair talked for a few minutes, Steve gesturing in what looked to be an effort to placate Lindsey. At least he didn’t look as if he was about to hit him. Lindsey kept shaking his head, and at one point he glanced over his shoulder in my direction and jabbed a thumb at me. I wished I could hear what they were saying. Steve shrugged and nodded. He stayed where he was as Lindsey came back to me.
“What…?” I began.
“Do me a favor, I’ll explain later, just kiss me,” Lindsey said, his words almost running into each other in his haste.
I didn’t have time to think or question. I cupped his face, then slid my hand into his hair as I drew him closer. He rested his hands on my chest, and his lips parted as they met mine. I closed my eyes and caressed his lips, and I was instantly reminded of Joey’s kiss. Lindsey’s lips were firm but soft at the same time, and he wasn’t gentle and delicate like a girl. He kissed back hard and crushed my lips against my teeth. I wasn’t sure what he wanted from me, but it was obviously meant to be a show for Steve. I slid my arm around his waist and pulled him tighter against me. I didn’t care if he felt I was getting hard. My pulse raced, and I trembled with a combination of excitement and fear. Deepening the kiss, I stroked my tongue over his, and his tongue bar clicked against my teeth as he responded. I groaned and wondered if Lindsey heard it. He was bound to have felt the effect he was having on me by now. My rock-hard cock was trapped against his thigh.
Lindsey broke the kiss and turned his face into my neck. Warm puffs of breath fanned my skin, and he continued to hold on to me as he spoke quietly in my ear. “He wanted me back. He kept apologizing for hitting me. I told him to fuck off and that I’m with you. He seemed to accept it.” He pulled away at last and put a few inches between us. “Sorry about this. It was pretty childish, rubbing his nose in it, but….” He shrugged, then lifted his gaze to mine and grinned. “Anyway… I didn’t expect that reaction from you. Is there anything you want to tell me?”
My face heated up, and I lowered away. “I, um, you took me by surprise,” I muttered.
Beautiful Thunder is available both as eBook and in paperback, and of course you can get these direct from Dreamspinner Press, as well as the usual online shops.
August 13, 2015
It’s been lovely chatting with you all! We’ll be here til midnight Eastern, chatting with y’all in the comments, but for now we’re going to leave you with an excerpt of Twelfth Night:
John doesn’t expect Michael to be as weirdly taken with the ocean as he is with the wild woods. It doesn’t seem like his element the way the trees are. But he is mesmerized by the beach almost instantly upon their arrival, insisting they walk along the hard wet sand of the tide line. It doesn’t matter how many times John says their muscles will ache unhappily tomorrow from miles walked at the edge of the frigid fall water; Michael either doesn’t hear him or doesn’t care enough to respond.
John is fascinated as Michael keeps a close eye on shells and rocks. One is shaped like a small egg, and he’s disappointed when it’s not. Still he makes John hold it for him, running ahead to a rock jetty to comb through the midden of mussel shells left by persistent and angry seagulls.
John tries not to be horrified, but the sight of Michael’s fingers picking through the dead bivalves and seaweed stinking in the sun is a bit much.
“What’s this?” Michael asks, eventually, holding out a shell, colored and swirled, to him.
It’s in perfect condition, and John is about to be impressed with the find until he realizes there’s still a creature using the shell as its home.
“That’s an animal in there.” He doesn’t actually know what kind. But it’s gelatinous and of the sea and not really a thing they should be messing with. They’ve seen dozens of jellyfish washed up on the beach already today.
“Does it go in the ocean or not in the ocean?”
“Ocean,” John says. He’s not 100 percent sure, but he suspects, like the jellyfish, the sun and the birds will eventually cook and peck it to nothing if it’s not saved by the sea.
Michael throws the shell back and returns to the tide line as they walk, gaze carefully on the ground and picking at every shell he sees that looks like whatever creature he just rescued. Most of them have their animals in them, and John suspects the coming hurricane that’s going to ruin their trip is churning them up.
As Michael throws each one back into the water, John is charmed that he’s trying to save creatures that have no spine, names he doesn’t know, and forms he’s never seen before.
Eventually Michael decides they can leave and reaches for John’s hand. John flinches away. It’s not the strangeness of the town this beach is attached to, half religious meeting town, half gay beach paradise. There’s even a club down the block from their inn that advertises “Less Lights, More Fun!” It’s that he can only think about whatever bacteria Michael is now coated in from all the dead mussels.
God, but he’s going to look like an idiot explaining that.
When he tries, stumbling through a mini monologue about seaweed and sea creatures and sand, Michael just listens with his head tipped to the side.
Finally John’s speech drags to a halt under Michael’s incredibly unimpressed gaze. He sighs and starts again.
“Okay. I swear the handholding thing has nothing to do with anything except your gross dead bivalve hands. But I think I may be freaking out.”
Michael blinks at him. “Did this start when we checked in and you had to deal with people who know we’re here to fuck?”
It’s sharp, but John knows he probably deserves it.
“You know I don’t mind being out in public with you,” he says cautiously. He wants to be honest with Michael, but he also doesn’t want to provoke anger by being less willing to be out than Michael deems sufficient.
Thankfully Michael considers John for a moment and then grins. “Somewhere in the romantic beach getaway, I got that.”
John lets out a relieved sigh and wraps an arm around Michael’s waist. He wants to prove his willingness to be fully in this relationship without shame, but life is also just better when they’re touching. Michael leans into his side, and they start walking down the sand again.
“But it’s something I can’t help being aware of,” John says quietly as they walk. “What we are and what people see when they look at me. Which apparently means I’ve found my internalized homophobia, and I am completely aware of how gross that is. I’m going to work on that, but there it is.”
“You still want to, like, go out to dinner tonight and make out on the boardwalk, though, right?”
“Oh my God, you have no idea. I want to tell everybody about you.”
Michael smirks. “So why don’t you?”
“Coming out at my age is kind of more complicated than it is at twelve. Or however old you were when you did.”
“I was fourteen, thank you.”
“So how did you come out to your parents?” John asks after they walk for a few minutes in silence.
Michael cracks up.
Michael buries his face in John’s arm and apparently can’t stop laughing. “You do understand how ridiculous this is, right?”
“I understand that I’m forty-two and have to come out to everyone in my entire life that I give a remote shit about, because you are addictive and fascinating and wonderful and also are sadly holding me to some pretty legitimate ethical standards. So help a guy out, okay?”
“I was making out with my first high school boyfriend in the living room, and my mom walked in.”
John is entirely not surprised. “So hey, when you meet my family, let’s not go with that plan, yeah?”
“Yeah,” Michael says, drawing the word out in a way that makes it clear it’s his turn to be defensive and weird.
John smirks, pleased to be off the hook for the moment. “You haven’t told them about us either,” he says smugly.
Michael mumbles something against John’s arm.
“What was that?”
“You’re really old,” Michael says. “And they’re going to freak.”
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August 13, 2015
Like many New Yorkers, I’ve spent most of my summers visiting the Jersey Shore. For me, that’s been the stretch of beach that includes Ocean Grove and Asbury Park.
Both towns, which together encompass little more than two miles of beachfront, are peculiar relics of another age. Asbury was one an amusement park town; today, while the mini golf and pinball hall of fame remain, the rides are all gone. Ocean Grove, on the other hand, started and continues life as a Methodist Camp Meeting town.
Today both towns are also popular destinations for LGBTQ travelers and have significant LGBTQ populations. Sometimes, this makes things awkward, like that time someone hissed something about lesbian witches at my partner and I as we walked down the boardwalk. Mostly,though, no one cares.
We set the opening of Twelfth Night in Ocean Grove and Asbury because we wanted to capture our hero John, who is still in the process of coming out to himself and others, adjusting to being someplace that was strongly queer and would recognize him as one of their own. But we also wanted to capture the sense he has of embodying a lot of internal conflicts, much like these towns.
Both towns are easily accessible by public transit and are just a few hours from New York City, and our worth your visit in you’re in the area. Regrettably, the nightclub with the “Less Lights, More Fun” marquee mentioned in Twelfth Night is no more.
What are your favorite locations, either as vacation destinations or as settings for stories? What’s your favorite location (or type of location) that you like to read about, or that you like to write about? What place have you read about in a book and decided you want to visit? Let us know in the comments below!
August 13, 2015
If you’ve ever dated anyone, chances are you’ve had some version of the awkward, unpleasant, or just downright embarrassing version of the meet-the-parents experience. For me, it was the first time I met the woman who would become my mother-in-law: I had just slept over at her house, with my then-boyfriend, now-husband, Ben. An d in Twelfth Night, when Michael has to admit to his parents that he’s dating someone seventeen years older than him, and John has to admit to his parents that his boyfriend is seventeen years younger than him…and a boy.
We love writing about people navigating romantic relationships and having awesome sexytimes (and Twelfth Night has plenty of both). But we also really like the fun, and farce, and yes, embarrassment, of people meeting their S.O.’s parents for the first time. Because no matter how embarrassing or awkward things get as our heroes try to introduce their boyfriends to their families, it makes a great story.
What we want to know about here, though, is your stories of meeting the parents/families/friends/etc of your significant other(s), and also holiday dsiasters. Did something go horribly awry? Was anything exceptionally embarassing? What made you want the floor to swallow you up? We are here to comisserate and also share our own less-than-perfect experiences with family and the holidays.