THE HEART OF FROST Release Party! Welcome!

December 18, 2013


Hello! Charlie Cochet here to celebrate my newest release, The Heart of Frost which is out today! Woot! It’s a sweet holiday novella featuring the gruff, sexy Prince of Frost: Jack, and the love of his immortal life, the dashing Captain of the Rein Dear Squadron:  Rudy Rein Dear. There’s mystery, suspense, sweetness, lovin’, and elfy hijinks! The Heart of Frost is the second book in the North Pole City Tales series but can be read as a standalone.

I’ll be posting all sorts of goodies throughout the day, including excerpts, a deleted scene, a giveaway, and more, so make sure to check back!

How about some extra holiday cheer? I have a coupon code for you! Just use the coupon code: CochetBlog to get 25% off any of my Dreamspinner press titles, plus any Urban Fantasy titles! Code is good for 2 days!


The Heart of Frost is available from: 

Dreamspinner Press | All Romance eBooks |



Genre: M/M Fantasy, Christmas, Holiday Romance
Series: North Pole City Tales, Book #2
Length: Novella 30,511
Published: Dec 18, 2013
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
ISBN: 9781627983938


At the North Pole, no one is more powerful and feared than the Prince of Frost. As general of the toy soldier army, Jack Frost has been working extra hard to put away the villainous Mouse King once and for all. If that isn’t taxing enough, Jack has to deal with the scandal and gossip brought on by news of his relationship with Rudy Rein Dear, captain of the Rein Dear Squadron, which hit headlines last holiday season. Lucky for Jack, his reputation has managed to deter any foolish attempts to stir up trouble. At least until now.

When someone sabotages Rudy’s plane during a test run a few weeks before Christmas, Jack is determined to find the culprit by any means necessary. The closer he gets to finding answers, the more difficulty he has not falling back to his icy ways. Has the Mouse King stepped up his game in order to throw Jack off his, or is someone a little closer to home behind the attempt on Rudy’s life? Either way, Jack has every intention of delivering a Christmas they won’t soon forget, even if it means losing the newfound warmth in his heart.


About the Author:

Charlie Cochet is an author by day and artist by night. Always quick to succumb to the whispers of her wayward muse, no star is out of reach when following her passion. From Historical to Fantasy, Contemporary to Science Fiction, there’s bound to be plenty of mischief for her heroes to find themselves in, and plenty of romance, too!

Currently residing in South Florida, Charlie looks forward to migrating to a land where the weather includes seasons other than hot, hotter, and boy, it’s hot! When she isn’t writing, she can usually be found reading, drawing, or watching movies. She runs on coffee, thrives on music, and loves to hear from readers.

Twitter: @charliecochet |

Island House release party—Final post

November 11, 2013

I’ve had such a great time today on the Dreamspinner Press blog! Thanks to everyone who came by and commented or Tweeted me about Island House. It was a pleasure to spend release day with you!

The winner of the Island House prize pack with a ceramic oil warmer, ocean breeze scented oil, nautical-themed earrings and a handmade metal anchor bookmark is Janice.  Congrats!

I’ve had a blast sharing some of my favorite parts of Island House. I’m also excited to announce that I’m currently working on a spin-off novel that focuses on Niall’s playboy friend Ian Mackay. It will be the second the three-part series Dropping Anchor. All three books have a slight nautical theme and are based around men who are a little bit adrift in the sea of life.

In Island House, Ethan is the one who anchors Niall and gives him the stability he needs to move on with his life. In Finding Home, the second book in the series, Ian’s carefree lifestyle and love ‘em and leave ‘em approach to his love life are beginning to lose their appeal. When he meets yoga instructor Luke Keys and immediately has his advances rebuffed, Ian is intrigued. He spends an inordinate amount of energy courting Luke, and when Luke finally caves and succumbs to Ian’s wiles, Ian is shocked to find that his interest in Luke doesn’t wane as one date turns into many more. Before he knows it, Ian finds himself in a monogamous relationship. Has he truly found an anchor in Luke, or is Ian still scanning the horizon waiting for another ship to come in? Find out this summer in Finding Home.

I’m signing off (or maybe I should be saying anchor’s aweigh?). Thanks for a great time, Dreamers!

Order a copy of Island House
Bru’s website
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Island House release party—Giveaway reminder and a scene that took me by surprise

November 11, 2013

Hi Dreamers. It’s Bru again, back with another snippet from my new release, Island House. We’re talking about my favorite parts of the book.

When I write I tend to put pieces of myself in the story, both intentionally and accidentally. Aaron’s distrust of goats in Traditions from the Heart is influenced by many a childhood trauma at the hands—er, hooves?—of a particularly bloodthirsty goat that hung out in the stables I took riding lessons at as a kid. In The Buyout, Parker’s exasperation with Mason when Mason zones out on the conversation and starts writing lines of computer code in his head during dinner? Something that happens all the time in my own household.

When it happened in Island House though, it was a complete accident. I was focusing on a big, emotional confrontation between Niall and his pseudo sister-in-law that I had been building toward for several chapters, but the background in the scene got away from me and before I knew it I was transcribing a fight that happens at my kitchen table with alarming regularity. I kept it because it provides good comic relief for an otherwise heavy scene, and also because I figured at least a few readers out there would see themselves in it just like I did. Here’s a snippet from that scene:

“ROGER, I swear to God, if you don’t stop I’m going to take that bowl and throw it out the window!”

Roger paused, spoon halfway to his mouth, and stared at his wife. Drops of milk splashed into the bowl, the sound noticeable in the otherwise silent kitchen.

“Stephanie—” Niall began, eyes crinkling with concern.

“No. I’ve had it with both of you.” Stephanie cradled her forehead in her hands, the sleeves of her ratty bathrobe pooling around her elbows, which were propped on the table. “I need quiet. I can’t think with all this noise.”

Niall’s jaw fell open. He and Roger had been sitting at the kitchen table, reading the newspaper and eating breakfast. He hadn’t spoken a word to Roger since he’d come down, poured himself a cup coffee, and asked Roger if he’d wanted a refill. That had been several minutes before Stephanie had emerged from the bedroom and taken a seat at the table.

“You, with the chewing,” she said, looking up to glare at Roger, who surprised Niall by looking chagrined instead of puzzled at the odd outburst. “And you,” she said, rounding her attentions on Niall, “with your moping. Do you think I can’t hear what’s going on in your head? Jesus, Niall, you’re the loudest thinker I know. Every thought is written on your face.”

Stephanie stood, managing to look strangely menacing in her pink bathrobe. Niall wondered if perhaps she was in the middle of some sort of mental breakdown. Or maybe he was. Maybe this crazy-eyed, unkempt Stephanie was a hallucination of some sort. He’d never seen her so frazzled, and that thought must have been clear on his face as well, since she rounded on him with a glare.

“It is not me, Nil. It is you, with your commitment phobia and your stupid, unfounded fears that you’ll lose us if you move on.”

Niall flinched at the use of his childhood nickname. It had died with Nolan; Niall couldn’t stand for anyone to call him Nil anymore, and he knew Stephanie must be beyond frustrated to have used it. She hadn’t called him that since the day after they’d buried Nolan, when he’d thrown a glass pitcher against the wall in her kitchen and forbade her to use it anymore.

Stephanie closed her eyes, her brain finally registering her slip. Her eyes softened in apology, but the tight line of her mouth didn’t ease.

“Niall,” she enunciated purposefully, drawing the word out. “He was my brother, and I love him. I miss him every day. But you’re an idiot if you think I would ever turn my back on you for any reason.”

Niall gaped at her, unsure of what to say. He watched out of the corner of his eye as Roger slowly lowered his spoon into the bowl, careful not to clink the metal against the porcelain. He didn’t look overly concerned at Stephanie’s outburst, which made Niall wonder if she’d yelled at Roger about his chewing, which hadn’t seemed rude or loud to Niall, before. Would he and Nolan, he wondered, have had fights like that if Nolan was still alive and they’d gotten married, as they’d always planned to?

Island House

ebook paperback

That’s right. I hate the sound of my husband chewing. It’s the little things, especially when you’ve been together nearly seventeen years. Apparently it’s so annoying that I subconsciously worked it into a scene when two of my characters were trying to have an intimate, emotional moment. Then again, that’s the time something like ridiculously loud chewing (seriously, it’s a thing) is the most likely to cause a mental break, right?

What seemingly innocuous thing annoys you the most? Share one of your pet peeves and be entered to win an Island House prize pack with a ceramic oil warmer and ocean breeze oil, a handmade metal anchor bookmark, and a set of nautical-themed earrings. (International readers: You’ll get a different prize if you win.) Commenting on this post and the last is two entries, so it doubles your chances at the prize! The drawing for the winner will be at 9 p.m. EST.

You can also enter by following me on Twitter and tweeting me a greeting. Readers who comment here and tweet me will get two entries. Keep an eye out on Twitter—I’ll be doing giveaways there all month!

Order a copy of Island House

Bru’s website

Follow Bru on Twitter

Island House release party—Prize pack giveaway and a sneak peek at an unlikely friendship

November 11, 2013

This time I had help from my lovely assistant drawing a name from our high-tech glass bowl.

Jennifer F.  was our winner for the last contest, congrats! I’ll have another giveaway later today. Entry details are at the end of this post.

We’ve been talking about Island House and my favorite things from the book. I love all of the characters, from misunderstood playboy Ian (more on him later!) to Ethan’s dry-witted pilot Joe. But my absolute favorite character (aside from Niall and Ethan, of course), is Clare Smith. She’s someone who has nothing in common with Niall, but somehow the two of them manage to forge a surprisingly fierce friendship in the span of a cross-country flight.

Whereas Niall floundered through his first meeting with Ethan and left a misleading impression of himself, Clare’s special brand of eccentric shines through whens he meets Niall and there’s nothing misleading about it. What you see is what you get with Clare, which is part of the reason Niall ends up liking her so much. Here’s there first meeting:

By the time Niall had collapsed into the too-small airplane seat, sandwiched between an old man and a woman in her early twenties, he was sweaty and tense with the beginnings of a headache curling up his neck.

“Would you like one?”

Niall looked up, fighting the urge to shake his head to clear the fog in his brain. He’d been staring out the window through the half- opened shade, but apparently the woman thought he’d been looking at her.

“I’m sorry?”

“You were looking at my protein bar,” she said, gesturing with the beige-colored bar in her hand, which until that moment Niall hadn’t realized was food. It certainly didn’t look like food. “I have several, if you’d like one. I always bring extra on long flights.”

Niall studied her, eyes narrowed a bit. She was a slip of a thing, probably because she never ate any real food. He had a fleeting urge to feed her.

“That’s kind of you, but I’m fine.” He rifled through his bag, hoping to end the conversation by finding something to read so he looked occupied, but Camille hadn’t thought to pack any books or magazines. He supposed it would be even ruder to listen to his iPod, but he really wasn’t in the mood to talk.

“Are you sure? You look a little peaked. Have you eaten today?” The woman twisted in her seat so she could get a better look at him, her lips pursed as she took inventory of his flushed cheeks and tense shoulders. “We could probably get a glass of water or some juice for you from the flight attendant. You look dehydrated.”

Niall stared at her, not sure how to respond. She didn’t seem to notice his silence, barreling on with a diatribe about the importance of drinking enough water while on a flight and the general poor health practices that consumed today’s society.

“Airline regulations today make it so difficult for travelers to take proper care of themselves,” the woman was saying, her expression animated as she berated airport security for not allowing passengers to bring bottles of water with them through the checkpoints.

“I always bring an empty bottle with me to fill up at a water fountain once I’ve reached my terminal,” she said, rummaging through her bag and coming up with a garishly pink aluminum bottle that was scraped and dented from heavy use. “I take it with me everywhere. Clips right on to my belt when I’m rock climbing, even, see?”

She pointed to the small carabiner clip, and Niall felt himself nod, completely caught off guard by the woman and her seeming ability to talk without stopping for breath. Rock climbing explained the dents in the bottle, at least.

“What am I doing? Oh, Clary Sage Smith, what is your problem? You’d think you’d never met a good-looking man before,” she muttered to herself. Niall wondered if she’d intended for him to hear her quiet aside or not.

“I apologize. I get a little carried away sometimes,” she said, thrusting her hand into the space between them. He took it automatically, as surprised by her firm grip as he had been by her enthusiastic speech about hydration. “Clare Smith. Self-avowed hydration nut and soon-to-be naturopath, in case you hadn’t guessed.”

Island House

ebook paperback

There isn’t a shy bone in Clare’s body, which Niall grudgingly admires about her. They really don’t have anything in common, but somehow that works for them.

What’s the most unlikely friendship you’ve forged? Comment here and be entered to win an Island House prize pack with a ceramic oil burner and ocean breeze oil, a handmade metal anchor bookmark, and a set of nautical-themed earrings. (International readers: You’ll get a different prize if you win.) The drawing for the winner will be at 9 p.m. EST, and there will be another opportunity to enter at 6 p.m.

You can also enter by following me on Twitter and tweeting me a greeting. Readers who comment here and tweet me will get two entries. Keep an eye out on Twitter—I’ll be doing giveaways there all month!

Order a copy of Island House

Bru’s website

Follow Bru on Twitter

Island House release party—Bringing the scent of the ocean to you with another giveaway

November 11, 2013

Drum roll, please….(don’t you love my super-scientific method of choosing a winner?)…

Congratulations to Susie Ritzko, who picked up a free ebook copy of Island House in the last contest. I loved all the comments! Check out the end of this post for another chance to answer a question to win some swag.

If you’re just tuning in, I’m Bru Baker, author of Island House. I’m here on the Dreamspinner Press blog talking about my favorite parts of the book. This time we’ll take a closer look at the island of Tortola, which is where Niall and Ethan meet and start to fall for each other.

Cane Garden Bay, Tortola. Image credit: WikiTravel

I’ve never had the pleasure of visiting the British Virgin Islands, but I’ve been to several other Caribbean islands and I loved the beautiful scenery and the laid-back feel. I chose Tortola as the setting for Island House because it’s somewhere that has always sounded intriguing to me but that I haven’t had a chance to visit yet. Through the magic of Google I’m pretty familiar with the island’s layout now, and I’ve spent quite a bit of time daydreaming over the gorgeous views.

Frenchman's Lookout

The view from Frenchman's Lookout on Tortola. Photo credit: Inspirato

Niall moves to Tortola after his longtime partner Nolan is murdered in the UK. It isn’t a random choice; the two of them had vacationed on the island several times and Nolan owned a vacation home there. Living on Tortola is a sort of penance for Niall because he blames himself for Nolan’s death. The island is gorgeous, but to Niall it’s more like a prison.

Even though four years have passed, Niall is still in love with Nolan and grieving. When he meets Ethan Bettencourt and feels an instant, undeniable attraction, it’s a bit of a shock for him. And in typical Niall fashion, he manages to make a bit of an idiot out of himself in their first interaction. Here’s their first meeting:

“You’re Ahern?”

The voice belonged to a tall, dark-haired man who would have been handsome save for the stubble covering his face. The rugged two-day growth transformed his slightly sharp features into something dangerous, and paired with his slight tan and blue eyes, the end result was nothing short breathtakingly gorgeous. Were it not for the faded button-down and pair of tattered Dockers the man was wearing, Niall would have sworn he was an 18th century pirate somehow transported to the modern day.

Niall didn’t realize he’d been staring, until Jacks cleared his throat and stepped forward, hand outstretched to welcome the visitor. Niall swallowed, his already heat-flushed cheeks burning with the beginnings of a blush. He hadn’t reacted to a man like this since—well, since ever. Niall’s only serious relationship had been with a man he’d known since childhood, and it definitely hadn’t started with a spark of lust like this. He felt a familiar pang of guilt at the thought of finding a man other than Nolan attractive, though Nolan had been gone for years.

“Sorry?” Niall asked when it became clear the would-be pirate was talking to him again.

“I asked if you were Niall Ahern,” the man said, blue eyes narrowed slightly as he studied Niall. “He said he’d be here to pick me up—”

“Mr. Bettencourt!” Niall felt his stomach drop. Ethan Bettencourt was one of the world’s most sought-after software developers and technology consultants. He wore Armani suits and custom-made Italian shoes, not ancient Dockers and flip-flops. But as Niall stared at him, he could see the full lips and aquiline nose that had made Ethan fodder for gossip magazines across the world. It was definitely him.

“I’m so sorry, sir,” Niall said, rushing forward. He wasn’t sure if he should shake his hand or offer to take his luggage, and as a result he did neither, hand raised awkwardly in front of him as his mind tried to catch up and figure out what to do.

Bettencourt solved Niall’s dilemma by shifting his bag to his other hand and reaching out to take Niall’s half-raised hand. “Call me Ethan.”

The contact had Niall cringing inside, the cool skin of Ethan’s hand making him even more aware of his own sweaty palm.

“Of course,” Niall said, cursing himself for being so flustered. He’d never had this problem before when greeting important clients. Of course, he’d never had an important client who was as gorgeous as Ethan, nor one who could keep Niall’s business afloat for another year with a single transaction.

Island House

ebook paperback

Have you ever really botched a first impression? How did you fix it? One lucky commenter will win a small ceramic oil warmer with a vial of ocean breeze oil to bring a little bit of the island to them. (Since international shipping is a beast, non-US residents will receive a different prize if they win.) I’ll announce the winner at 3 p.m. EST (just in time to introduce the next contest!)

Order a copy of Island House

Bru’s website

Follow Bru on Twitter

Island House release party—Getting the party started with a giveaway!

November 11, 2013

Hello, Dreamers! Bru Baker here. Today is release day for Island House, and I have goodies to share! I’m terrified and ridiculously excited all at the same time, and so happy be here with you today! It’s my first novel, so I’m new to the promotion circuit. I figured I couldn’t go wrong if I came bearing gifts.

I’ll be doing giveaways throughout the day here on the Dreamspinner Press blog, so check back for snippets of the book, insights into the characters, and chances to win copies of the ebook as well as other swag. I’ll also be sharing some of my favorite things from the book.

We’ll start out with the blurb and the beautiful cover that L.C. Chase designed.

Island House

ebook paperback

Unable to move on after the death of his lover, British expat Niall Ahern clings to Nolan’s dream of living in the Caribbean by moving to Tortola. Once there, he finds that not even the beauty of the island can fill the hole in his heart. Broke and spent in nearly every way imaginable, Niall wants out of the lonely, miserable, guilt-ridden life he’s carved out for himself.

When Ethan Bettencourt, a wealthy tech guru, shows up in British Virgin Islands looking to purchase a second home, he gives Niall hope that he can move on. Both men fall hard and fast, but Niall finds piloting his yacht in the midst of a hurricane is nothing compared to weathering life’s simple misunderstandings. As their troubles come between them, Niall is left to wonder if he and Ethan are over before they’ve begun.

In Island House, Niall quits his job and moves to Tortola to open up a fishing charter, since that was his deceased partner’s dream. What’s your dream job? One lucky commenter will receive a free ebook copy of Island House. I’ll announce the winner (and the next contest!) in my next post at 12 p.m. EST, so check back then!

Order a copy of Island House

Bru’s website

Follow Bru on Twitter

When Adam Kissed Me – Release Party: Wrap Up

November 7, 2013

Well, that’s it for me today. I’ve had such a great time. I think my first release party was a success. Many thanks to everyone who took time out of their day to join in. I have put all of your names into a bowl (okay, vase) and randomly selected the winner of my free novella.

The winner is… Carolyn

Carolyn, I’ll send an email to the address you used here and we can talk about logistics. If for whatever reason you don’t receive it, please contact me at

Don’t forget that the promo code ScullyBlog is still good for another 24 hours. Worth 25% off my novellas AND any contemporaries in the store.

What’s next for me, you ask? Well, I have a short novella coming out in December as part of the Advent Calendar, so stay tuned. It’s called Rebound and it’s definitely a heart warmer. It’s not up on the DSP site yet as an individual download so check out the excerpt on my blog:

Then I get down to work on what I hope will be my debut novel. Follow my blog for all the latest or subscribe to the Dreamspinner group on Goodreads.

You can always find me on:

Chris Scully’s Blog:


Old fashioned email:

And finally, check out some of the advance reviews for When Adam Kissed Me:

Serpentine Release Party — Wrap Up and a Sugary Snippet

October 30, 2013

Okay, everyone, it’s getting time to wrap up this party. I’m being taken out to dinner for my birthday by my lovely husband and son so I have to go get beautiful.

But before I go, have a sugar-sweet snippet from the boys of Serpentine Walls:


“One more toast to the happy couple.” Angie raised her glass in Matthew’s dining room as the latest blue house party—this one called April Follies—roared on around them. Cleo, John, and Brian followed suit, while Matthew poured more champagne for himself and Pete.

“Come on, Ang,” Pete protested, “we’ve been together a month already. When are you going to stop proposing toasts to us?”


“Jeez, we’re not getting married or anything.” But he raised his own glass nonetheless, his other hand clasped securely in Matthew’s.

“To happy endings,” Angie persisted. “And to Pete and I finding The One. Told you so!”

Pete bowed down to her. “To Angie, the sorceress, whose premonitions come true so often that it’s scary.”

Brian nodded in agreement while the rest of them raised their glasses to Angie.

Matthew tugged on Pete’s hand. “We’re not getting married?” he asked, giving him the sad eyes. “I… I thought I meant more to you, darling.

You do, dearest. You’ll never know how much….”

“Are they always like this?” Brian asked.

John smiled and shrugged. “You mean the bad romantic movie lines? Yeah, pretty much.”

“How dare you mock our love?” Matthew asked, eyes widening in faux shock. “It’s a rare and tender flower.”

“Hoo boy.” Brian held out his hand to Angie. “Let’s go sit on the screen porch so you can whisper some bad movie lines in my ear.”

“Wow, Brian,” Cleo said. “That’s the most suggestive thing I’ve ever heard you say.”

“What can I say?” Brian asked as Angie giggled. “She inspires me.”

When Angie and Brian walked away, holding hands, Matthew murmured into Pete’s ear, “Let’s go in the den. I want to sing ‘You’re All I Need To Get By’ with you.”

“Yes, Tammi.” Pete jumped when Matthew pinched his ass.

Pete secretly agreed with Matthew about the love thing. While he would never call it a “rare and tender flower,” he knew he’d lucked out. He could write reams of bad poetry just describing Matthew’s face, a case in point being the particular smirk Matthew was giving him right now—the one where his eyes crinkled up and he looked like a devilish angel.


It’s been a blast sharing my Serpentine Walls release party with you! I have a few more stops on my Serpentine Walls Blog tour, and would love for you to join me:

October 31    Purple Rose Tea House, Charlie Cochet

November 2  Dreamspinner Facebook

November 5  Suzanne van Rooyen

November 7  Lane Hayes

Let’s have one more question to give you all a chance to win GIFTS! Because it’s my birthday, I will be giving out some gifts.  All you have to do is answer one (or more) of the questions I’ll be asking through the day during the party. One of you will win a signed copy of Serpentine Walls and three more of you will win a free e-book of one of my novellas (your choice).

Question: What’s the most romantic thing that ever happened to you?

Your answers on any of my release party posts will count in the contest as long as they are posted before 12 midnight PST today, October 30!

Check back on this post by tomorrow night, 10/31 (boo! Halloween!) and I will post the winner of the signed copy and the novellas.


Alright, y’all, I’m back to announce the winners of the free gifts!  I took everyone who answered at least one question and put your names in a random name generator… and the winners are… (drum roll)

One signed copy of Serpentine Walls paperback:  JJ

One free ebook of any of my novellas: Gene, Sophie, and Susan

YAY! And thank you everyone for hanging out with me yesterday on my birthday/release day. It was fun.

WINNERS: please email me at with your email address for your DSP account (and JJ I need your snail mail). Novella winners please let me know which one you want. If you go to Serpentine Wall order page below my novellas are listed underneath.

Thanks again for partying with me on this special day.

Serpentine Walls Order Page

CJane Elliott Website

EVERYONE gets gifts!  With the code CJaneBlog you’ll get 25% off all of my books and all Coming of Age books in the Dreamspinner Store. It’s good until 5 p.m. EDT on Friday, November 1!

Serpentine Walls Release Party — Newsflash! 25% Off Birthday Gifts from Dreamspinner

October 30, 2013

Breaking Birthday Present News!  I just heard from those awesome folks at Dreamspinner that EVERYONE gets gifts!  With the code CJaneBlog you’ll get 25% off all of my books and all Coming of Age books in the Dreamspinner Store. It’s good until 5 p.m. EDT on Friday, November 1!

THANKS, DREAMSPINNER!  You guys are the best!

Serpentine Walls Order Page

CJane Elliott Website

Serpentine Walls Release Party #6 — Roadblocks To Romance

October 30, 2013

Welcome to the Serpentine Walls release party!  I’m enjoying chatting with everyone on all kinds of topics.  Join in.  There’s virtual cheesecake and gifts to be had.

Okay, got my therapist’s hat back on for a moment.  Shall we talk about relationships? After all, that’s what romance books are all about.

People often don’t realize what’s getting in the way of finding love or making love work.  My characters sure don’t.

In Serpentine Walls, Pete is clueless for much of the story about what’s really driving his behavior regarding relationships. He’s angry at his parents for splitting up and cynical about love. His roommate, Angie, has a premonition that they’re both going to find “The One” this year, but Pete wants no part of it.

I mentioned before that Pete’s best friend, John, is my stand-in character for my therapist side.

This edited excerpt is a scene between Pete and John where John is pointing to what’s underneath Pete getting hung up on glamorous but unavailable Aidan. Although he doesn’t get it at first, Pete comes to understand himself much better by the end of the novel:


“I don’t know. I get mixed signals, but why should I care?”

Pete slumped on the futon in John and Cleo’s living room and brooded, having jogged straight there from his unsatisfying tryst with Aidan.

“You knew he was a player from the get-go,” said John, sprawled out next to him. “Don’t let Cleo hear you moaning or you’ll get a big, fat ‘I told you so.’”

“Good she’s asleep.” Pete eyed the closed bedroom door. “But—well, okay, he’s a player. He even said so himself. But neither of us are into commitment, so what’s wrong with some uncommitted sex? What’s the big deal?” He made a frustrated sound.

“Don’t be a moron. You’re already hung up on the guy, and you’ve only had sex with him two times.”


“Three? Oh, right, the time he groped you in the closet and—”


“Do you hear yourself? Jesus, Pete. If you keep having sex with him, it’ll turn into a big deal pretty fucking fast. For you, not for him. And Aidan knows it. That’s what he’s trying to tell you.”

“It wouldn’t be a big deal! It’s just hooking up.” He flounced onto his stomach and mumbled, “Why will no one believe me?”

John gave him a look that was part amusement, part exasperation. “Pete, you dimwit. Methinks thou doth protest too much.”

“Fuck you, and Shakespeare too.”

He wanted to punch John, who was laughing into a pillow on the futon, but it would’ve taken too much energy.

“So you wanna crash here tonight?” John asked, once he’d stopped laughing.

“I guess I’ll go home.” Pete rolled off the futon and was at the door when John spoke again.



“Back to Aidan. You think maybe there’s something you’re getting out of this situation?”

Don’t start with the psych babble, Pete thought darkly. “What d’you mean?”

John propped himself up on his elbows. “Just that it’s pretty fucking safe to be hung up on a guy who’s unavailable.”

“Safe?” Pete had no idea what John was talking about. “And I’m not hung up on him.”

“Whatever you say. Think about it.” John lay back down with a yawn. “Later, dude.”

Pete walked down Rugby Road in a funk. Safe. What the fuck? What does wanting to hook up with Aidan have to do with being safe?


This pattern of Pete’s to fall for people who are unavailable (and to not be interested in people who are) is one I know well, because I did the same thing throughout my twenties. My parents split up when I was eighteen and although I thought I’d gotten over it, the result was that I never could seem to find a lasting relationship. The guys that wanted me, I wasn’t interested in. And I’d get riveted on the ones who weren’t available and try to change them.

I finally realized that I was more interested in protecting myself from getting hurt than I was in having a relationship. And once I had that realization, I was able to get beyond my fear and let a great guy into my life. I’ve been married to him for 24 years.

Question time, so remember: GIFTS! Because it’s my birthday, I will be giving out some gifts.  All you have to do is answer one (or more) of the questions I’ll be asking through the day during the party. One of you will win a signed copy of Serpentine Walls and three more of you will win a free e-book of one of my novellas (your choice).

Any of you see yourselves in Pete? What are some of the roadblocks that you see yourself or other people putting in the way of love?

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Breaking Birthday Present News!  I just heard from those awesome folks at Dreamspinner that EVERYONE gets gifts!  With the code CJaneBlog you’ll get 25% off all of my books and all Coming of Age books in the Dreamspinner Store. It’s good until 5 p.m. EDT on Friday, November 1!