Posts Tagged ‘contemporary romance’

book cover featuring young man wearing a sparkly crown and a suit, with a wry smile

Guarding the Prince

Oliver, Prince of Meltivia

Things he knows he must do:

  • Become the King of Meltivia
  • Marry a sweet princess who’ll become his queen
  • Produce children to carry on the Cavalluci’s name

Why these may be a problem:

  • He’s as gay as a box of birds

Ezra, Royal Bodyguard

Things he’ll find at Cavalluci Palace:

  • A spoilt, waste-of-money prince
  • An escape from his failed marriage
  • Another dysfunctional family

Things he doesn’t expect to find:

  • Love

Guarding The Prince is an opposites attract, out for you, sensual gay romance with a guaranteed sparkly happy ever after.

Liam Livings, gay romance & fiction author
British humour with plenty of sparkle
Marketing & manuscript support at www.liamlivings.com

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Today I am welcoming an old friend to the Comfy Chair – well not old exactly but I do seem to have known Lillian for a good number of years and I remember the first edition of New Lease of Life coming out. Here it is in a shiny new second edition and will be an adornment to TBR piles everywhere.

Details of the book, buy links and a substantial excerpt are blow the author interview.

So welcome Lillian and thank you for answering my questions.


Elin: Can you tell me a little about yourself? For instance, do you have to have a day job as well as being a writer?

Urgh, the less said about the day job the better. It’s soooo boring. I want to be something exciting, like marine biologist or super spy.

Elin: When you aren’t writing, is there any other creative activity you enjoy? Have you ever written about it?

I’ve tried many but none seem to fit. Knitting – OMG, I’m awful. Cross Stitch – enjoyable but so slow. Card making – fun but ethically goes against my safe the trees stance. I’d love to try something a bit more messy and physical: glass blowing, forging, pottery throwing.

Elin: Can you name any author/authors, past or present, who have been a great influence on your work?

Honestly, no. The books that shaped my formative years and early 20s were golden age mysteries, spy stories, and noir style PIs, nothing like the stuff I write, and I see nothing of what I read in my own work. I never read het Romance, and so have no reference point with that genre.

Elin: What are you reading? Something to be clutched to the bosom or tossed aside with force? Fiction or non-fiction? Recommendations please.

I read so much. Fiction. Non-fiction. Graphic novels. Single issue comics. Webcomics. Audiobooks. Paper reads. Kindle. Digital. Podcasts. Cereal packets. Okay, that last one isn’t true, but only because I don’t eat boxed cereal.

Currently I’m reading:

Kindle: Stolen Hart by E Davies. Love this series so much. Contemporary small town romance done right.

Paper: Scarecrow & the army of thieves by Matthew Reilly. It’s my bath book and I honest couldn’t care if it fell in the water. It’s not as bad as the first Scarecrow book (that I dnf’d) but it’s still not great. I’m only reading because I already owned it and I can’t bear a book leaving the house without at least giving it a chance.

Audio: Kiss Me Again by Garrett Leigh. I loved this as a read and the audio version is just as good.

Hardback: Ruso & the demented doctor by R S Downie. Historical mystery. It’s great but heavy, so I pick this up less often.

Comic: I’ve just finished Gotham City Monsters by Steve Orlando in single issues. Excellent fun if you like an antihero or outright villain as your hero, and with great artwork.

And not really a book, but most definitely a story: Critical Role’s D&D campaigns 1& 2: ‘A bunch of nerdy arsed voice actors who sit around and play dungeons and dragons.’ I’m all caught up with 2 and I’m steaming through campaign 1 while they’re on hiatus. Excellent interactive storytelling; Matt Mercer is awe-inspiring.

Elin: Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Pantser. Or more truly a plantser. I generally have an idea of where the story is going and several key scenes sketched before I sit down to write anything.

Elin: Do your characters arrive fully fledged and ready to fly or do they develop as you work with them?

Definitely develop as the story progresses.

Elin: Do you have a crisp mental picture of your characters or are they more a thought and a feeling than an image?

Thought and feeling. I really have to focus to get a proper visual. It’s not something I have right at the beginning.

Elin: Villains – incredibly important in fiction since they challenge the main protagonists and give them something to contend with beyond the tension of a developing relationship. What sort of villains do you prize? A moustache-twirling nightmare or … ?

Sometimes the villain is the character’s own internal thoughts and belief. Sometimes it’s the last person you’d expect. And sometimes it really is the most obvious person in the story.

Elin: What are you working on at the moment? Can you discuss it or do you prefer to keep it a secret until it’s finished.

I’m eager to get to Trevor’s HEA in the Village Love series. Anyone who’s read the series knows he hooked up toward the end of the last book with Smudge’s former Grindr regular.  Doesn’t seem like a lasting relationship to me…

Plus I’m looking at another historical. This one will be an animal based story, like Theory Unproven.

Elin: Could we please have an excerpt of something?

Certainly. Here’s a scene from New Lease of Life.

“Who’s Pip?” Colby asked before he could censor himself.

The side table under the window held nothing but a smattering of books and magazines, and a vase—chunky and colourful, Whitefriars Glass if Colby’s assessment was correct—devoid of flowers. Phillip indicated that Colby should place the box there and frowned. No doubt pondering whether he should answer the question or tell Colby to mind his own business.

I am. My friends called me Pip.”

Called? Colby daren’t ask about the use of the past tense. Instead he rolled the nickname around in his head for a moment, wishing he could try out the simple syllable on his tongue.

“So…” Colby traced a finger over the edge of the box, snatching it away when Phillip—Pip—glared at him. “The box is down now. Are you going to show me?”

“Show you?” With the permanent frown Phillip wore, it was hard to tell, but Colby thought he sounded confused.

“That your unwanted collection is suitable for my shop,” Colby reminded him, as offhand as he could muster.

It gave Colby little satisfaction to watch Phillip wince and bristle as the dual barbed comment hit home. An impressive feat that made Phillip’s slender frame appear as if he were vibrating.

“Oh, I’ll show you.”

Carefully, Phillip eased the lid from the box and removed the top album. Colby read the date over his shoulder. According to the label, the album covered the first nine months of last year. Apparently it had last been updated in September, just seven months ago.

Resting all his weight on the crutch and all but cradling the album to his chest, Phillip flicked through several pages before turning it to show Colby the image he had chosen to illustrate his point.

For a moment Colby took his time to appreciate the quality of the album; the thick vellum pages, photographs held in place with corner mounts rather than glue, and a thin page of translucent tissue-like paper to protect the image. Everything about Phillip and these clothes screamed loved and cared for, and yet again, Colby wondered why anyone who had invested that much care and attention would want to get rid of them.

A younger-looking Phillip—although from the dates Colby knew this could be no more than fifteen months ago—smiled out of the photo at him. His blond hair was neatly trimmed in a short back and sides, more reminiscent of the style of yesteryear than the recent bastardization of the cut by footballers and celebrities alike. His blue eyes shone with laughter, happiness directed at the photographer rather than for the camera, and Colby knew he had now met the man who friends called Pip. Pencilled in beneath the photo, perfect penmanship recorded the occasion. Pip. Emily’s wedding. February. Just over a year ago, then.

Belatedly Colby remembered he was supposed to be looking at the clothes. Pip had combined what appeared to be a vintage, single-breasted tux with a cream and pale green silk brocade waistcoat.

“Waistcoat and tux combo,” he said with a shrug. “Impressive, but everyone dresses up for weddings.”

“That combo is a late 1930s Hart Schaffner Marx two-piece tuxedo with shawl lapels and a vintage Chinese silk brocade waistcoat from the fifties. It took me weeks of trawling to find that piece.”

And yet you are giving it away. What happened to you?

“Still, it’s a wedding photo.” Colby snorted, fabricating the disdain for effect. He had to admit Pip looked bloody amazing, although he couldn’t decide how much of that had to do with the clothes. That smile would brighten up even the crap he was hiding away in now. “Even I can look good at a wedding.”

Colby grabbed his phone from his back pocket and started to flick through his photo album.

“You look great as you are,” Pip said with more sincerity than Colby would have expected. “Very presentable. Stylish.”

Surprised, Colby glanced up from the search of his photo gallery to find Pip—because he couldn’t be anything else now that Colby had seen the man smile, if only second-hand—studying him.

“What? You’ve got that whole ‘lumberjack in the city’ look going on. I couldn’t pull it off, but you…” Pip paused and raked his gaze over Colby’s body. “You look very manly.”

Colby ignored the disappointment he felt knowing that Pip’s interest was in the wrapping and not the contents.

“Thanks.” He returned his attention to the phone, finding the photo he was looking for almost immediately. Then he held his phone out to Pip, the screen on display. “Look.”

“Oh. Very smart.”

Pip didn’t sound impressed. In fact, he sounded downright disappointed.

“Sorry, do I not meet your exacting standards? I thought I looked okay. Handsome, even.”

“You do. Very James Bond.”

“Yeah, if Bond was a builder from Billericay.”

“Don’t put yourself down.”

Colby shot his companion a disbelieving look that was meant to convey the old adage about pots and kettles, but apparently the message got mixed up in the silent communication.

“You do look handsome. I thought, from what you said earlier….” Pip shrugged and forced a smile. Compared to the blinding grin he’d displayed in the wedding photo, it might as well have been a grimace. “She’s a lucky lady.”

“I don’t see why. I got the looks and the brains.” Colby glanced at the screen and couldn’t stop his own smile from peeking through. “Nah, she’s beautiful. I still say I got the brains, though.”

“You make a lovely couple.”

“You should see her husband. Six foot four. Muscles everywhere. In fact you could say he’s full of them.” Colby grinned, pleased with the word play.

“Why are you talking about yourself in the third person?” Pip frowned. “Don’t. It’s weird. I wouldn’t have said you were quite six four, though.”

“What? I’m six two. I was talking about my brother-in-law. He’s Australian. You know? Like the song?” Before he could bemoan Pip’s lack of eighties pop knowledge, realization crashed into Colby. “You thought we were married? Ewww, no. That’s my sister. I gave her away.”

“Isn’t that a father’s job?”

“Normally.” Needing something to do, Colby locked his phone and slipped it back into his pocket. “Ours forfeited the right to that job when he walked out on us as kids.”

“Sorry.” Contrition softened Pip’s voice, and Colby had no trouble believing that this stranger wasn’t just paying lip service.

“I got over it a long time ago. And I wasn’t kidding earlier. Out and proud.” Colby smiled. “But my point still stands. People dress up for weddings. And they rarely wear tweed, knitted waistcoats, or slacks.”

“Don’t know why. Tweed can be combined in so many ways. No reason why it can’t be smart enough for a wedding.”

“Careful, your enthusiasm is showing.”

Dumbstruck, Pip spluttered, and Colby took advantage of the distraction to steal the photo album.

“Let me see.” Colby hummed as he turned to the next page and found a couple of informal shots of Pip, the combination of a variety of layered tweeds and a Fair Isle knitted waistcoat working on his slim frame despite—or because of—the differing patterns, textures, and colours.

The next page showed the same outfit in a staged setting, a group of four photographs: the tweed combined with a belted herringbone wool coat in one, front and back shots of the original outfit, and one shot with Pip’s head cropped out of the photo.

“What’s with the headless horseman shots?” He turned the book to show Pip what he was referring to but kept it out of the smaller man’s reach.

“Give that back.”

Colby flicked to the next page, barely acknowledging Pip’s protest.

Pip and Davy.

“Davy” was dark where Pip was fair. His olive-toned skin, beautifully contrasted against Pip’s healthy glow, hinted at least one Mediterranean parent. One of Davy’s arms was slung casually over Pip’s shoulder, and the pair leant into each other with an ease that proclaimed more than a passing friendship. So where’s Davy now?

The camera loved Davy, and it was obvious that the feeling was mutual, but it was Pip’s smile and the gentle mischief in his expression that drew Colby’s attention away from the more classically handsome man.

A nudge against his bicep warned Colby of Pip’s presence at his side. He could have sworn he heard Pip mutter “Davy, of course” under his breath. Instinctively, Colby shifted the book out of reach.

“Close your mouth,” Pip snapped. “You’re catching flies.”

“I was just admiring—”

“Davy. He was a photographer.” Pip caught his breath. “Is… Davy is a photographer. He was my…”

Pip trailed off as if the words had simply dried up on his tongue. Thankfully, because Colby suddenly had no desire to know what Davy and Pip had been to each other. Not when the passing of that relationship had apparently left Pip a shell of his former self. Colby could fill in the gaps, even though he’d never had a relationship that intense. World. Life. Reason to get up in the morning. Colby had to say something to stop the maelstrom of unfathomable jealousy from twisting around in his head.

“He looks more like a model.”

“That would make his day, hearing that.” Pip sounded fond, as if he’d forgotten the circumstances he found himself in, just for a moment. “He took that shot. He’d been playing around with the timer on the camera.”

“He’s good.”

Pip snorted, an exhale of air from his nose that might have been amusement but for the muttered “good-looking” barely loud enough for Colby to hear. “Strictly amateur. Photographer is not a suitable job for a diplomat’s son. Not when he has a First from Cambridge.”

“Is that where you met? At university?” Why was he torturing himself with these questions? Because it would tell him more about Pip, obviously. About just how far he was out of Colby’s league. Cambridge. Not some grubby inner city polytechnic that tried to pass itself off as a paragon of higher learning.

Unfortunately that was a question too far for Pip’s newfound tolerance.

“None of your bloody business.” The anger flared bright, and Pip reached for the album. “I asked you to give that back.”

“Just one more.” Colby was more than aware that he was pushing his luck, but a desire to ensure that Pip remembered him, even if for the wrong reasons, urged him on.

At about six inches shorter than Colby, Pip could be tucked quite easily under Colby’s arm. Colby would be able to tug Pip against his larger bulk and surround him. And as Colby stared at the smiling man in the photos, Colby found himself itching to do just that. But the reality of the bitter, angry man standing in front of him reasserted itself.

“Give that back, you… you bully.”

Bully? That would be the last word any of his friends or former clients would ever use to describe Colby. It struck him as so out of place that he laughed.

He flipped a couple of pages, hoping to land on a more summer-focused photograph, and the laughter died on his lips.

“Oh my,” Colby whispered on an exhale as all his breath seemed to be squeezed from his chest.


Book Cover - New Lease of Life, cover art by Paul RichmondNew Lease of Life by Lillian Francis

 Second edition

Cover art by Paul Richmond

 Universal buy links: https://books2read.com/newleaseoflife

 Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27973790-new-lease-of-life

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/books/new-lease-of-life-by-lillian-francis-2020-03-18



Phillip used to laugh a lot, back when his friends called him Pip. However the good deed that left him hospitalised not only marred his body, it stripped him of his good humour too. Ever since, he has pushed his friends away and shut out the world. Donating his vintage clothing to a charity shop should have been the final act in a year-long campaign to sever the links with the man Pip used to be, but the stranger on his doorstep awakens feelings in Pip that he hasn’t experienced since the incident that left him angry at the world and reliant on the cold metal of the hideous hospital-issue crutch.

Colby forces his way into Pip’s life, picking at the scab of his past. Colby isn’t interested in Pip’s money or his expensive address. He has only one goal: to make Pip smile again.

With every moment in Pip’s presence, Colby chips away at the walls Pip has built around himself. Pip knows it’s impossible to fight his attraction with Colby’s sunny disposition casting light into the darkness in his soul.




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Up in the Air 2: West Coast

Max Cooper has never known love and uses drink to numb the feelings of rejection he’s faced with. It doesn’t help him in his career as an air steward when after a very drunken night his best friend swaps their flights over so Max can keep his job.

When Max flies out to Los Angeles, his patience is tested when he offers to help fellow air steward and rising drag queen, Dai Zee, with her costume changes at the best drag club in LA, Flamingos. While he watches Dai Zee perform, he catches the eye of a guy in the corner, but fails to find him when the performance ends. An ill-timed text message sends Max back to the bottle, and into the bed of a man he doesn’t know, and doesn’t want to be with.

The next night at Flamingos he finds the man he was searching for, but it’s not as easy as he’d hoped. Antonio Baldini isn’t interested in a drunken Max and rejects his advances until another drag queen, Miss Crystal, plays a hand in getting the two of them together. As Max and Antonio step past the initial confusion, they tread carefully with each other, neither one wanting to get hurt.

Even when Max is back in London, the late-night video calls don’t stop, but it’s when they are reunited in Las Vegas that things turn serious.

Max can’t shake his past, and someone is out for him and his job – trying to stop him from flying altogether. He’s worried about what it will mean for his new relationship if he can’t fly; and whether he can stay away from the drink long enough to be with a man who seems to care for him.

Available now from Amazon.

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Butterfly Assassin

Set in the Regent’s Park pack world

Clapham Common—a new pack with their own set of problems…

Shifter Aaron Harper gets drawn into illegal underground fighting to keep an eye on his best friend. The thrill of the fight keeps him coming back for more, but discovery could mean imprisonment and banishment from their pack. Without a beta to watch over them, common sense takes a back seat.

Michael Archer of the Shifter Crimes Task Force is investigating recent murders. Despite the brutal cause of death pointing to the work of a shifter’s claws, instinct tells him a well-known nightclub owner is involved, but they have no proof.

Aaron and Michael’s paths cross after another body with the same injuries is discovered. With Aaron finding himself on the wrong side of the SCTF and Michael looking for a killer, any attraction between them is both ill-advised and unlikely. But fate has other ideas.

Amazon Universal: mybook.to/BA
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Butterfly-Assassin-Annabelle-Jacobs-ebook/dp/B07DJ1L29H/
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Butterfly-Assassin-Annabelle-Jacobs-ebook/dp/B07DJ1L29H/

book title

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What’s Up, Pussycat?

Release date: July 7, 2017
Length: 24,300 words
Cover Design: Simon Searle


Finley Harrington despairs of ever being able to move on after the death of Andrew, the love of his life. When he spots an advertisement for auditions for Cats, the last musical Andrew performed in, Finley acts on the spur of the moment and calls for an appointment to audition.
Much to Fin’s surprise, he gets the part he hopes for, but during his struggles with stage-fright, and the teasing of a fellow actor, Karl Rogers, he wonders if he’s made a huge mistake. But Karl’s irritating persona hides a different person inside, and when Fin gets to know him, he develops a surprising attraction to him.
Could Karl be the person to help Fin move on from the past, or is he destined to remain alone?

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The members of the cast began arriving half an hour later when the three of us were warming up, and my impression of the first man through the door was one of shock. I’d seen Karl Rogers who played Rum Tum Tugger from a distance a few times when I attended the shows in Leicester, but never without his cat costume. He was tall—at least six feet—and his shock of peroxide hair and startling green eyes drew everyone’s attention. His lycra leggings emphasized a large package, and a bright orange cropped T-shirt and matching ballet shoes completed his outfit. He charged into the room like a whirlwind.

“So! Who do we have here?” he shouted, looming over Annette and me, where we stood stretching our hamstrings. “You look weirdly familiar.” He jabbed a finger in my direction, before turning his attention to Annette. “What a pretty kitty. What’s your name, then, darling?” He pronounced the endearment “dahling” and I cringed. I hoped the rest of the cast weren’t like Karl. I’d met a couple of them, but I preferred to keep my distance and monopolize Andrew when the shows were over.

“Annette,” the girl said. “And that’s Finley. The other guy is James.”

Karl spun around to look at James, gave him a cursory nod, then turned back to me. He took a step closer, forcing me to look up.

“Cute!” Karl exclaimed. “Cat got your tongue?” He proceeded to shriek with laughter at his lame joke, and my face heated under the scrutiny.

“I’ve not had the chance to get a word in,” I blurted, and immediately cringed. My voice tended to sound more refined when I was irritated. I couldn’t help my parents or the school I’d gone to, but for the past few years I’d done my best to shake off the accent and sound more like everyone else. I knew Karl would say something, even before he opened his mouth again.

“Ooh, someone swallowed a silver spoon, didn’t they? Wait. Finley? Finley Harrington? Golly, I’m surprised Mummy and Daddy let their little boy do something as lower class as performing on the stage. Shouldn’t you be a lawyer or a doctor or something?” Karl spoke in an exaggerated tone, and my face burned.

“Wow, someone loves himself.” James moved to my side and cocked an eyebrow at Karl.

“I have a sense of humor. You should try it some time.” Karl laughed, and James scowled at him. The boisterous dancer ignored him, and draped an arm around Annette’s shoulders. “You never told me your name, Kitty.”

“Yes, I did. It’s Annette.”


Author Bio

Louise Lyons comes from a family of writers. Her mother has a number of poems published in poetry anthologies, her aunt wrote poems for the church, and her grandmother sparked her inspiration with tales of fantasy.

Louise first ventured into writing short stories at the grand old age of eight, mostly about little girls and ponies. She branched into romance in her teens, and MM romance a few years later, but none of her work saw the light of day until she discovered FanFiction in her late twenties. Posting stories based on some of her favourite movies, provoked a surprisingly positive response from readers. This gave Louise the confidence to submit some of her work to publishers, and made her take her writing “hobby” more seriously.

Louise lives in the UK, about an hour north of London, with a mad dog called Casper, and a collection of tropical fish and tarantulas. She works in the insurance industry by day, and spends every spare minute writing. She is a keen horse-rider, and loves to run long-distance. Some of her best writing inspiration comes to her, when her feet are pounding the open road. She often races home afterward, and grabs pen and paper to make notes.

Louise has always been a bit of a tomboy, and one of her other great loves is cars and motorcycles. Her car and bike are her pride and job, and she loves to exhibit the car at shows, and take off for long days out on the bike, with no one for company but herself.

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Blog: http://www.louiselyonsauthor.com
Email: louiselyons013@gmail.com

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Pierce is homeless.
Young and strong-willed Pierce has been living in the streets of New York City for six months, since his parents kicked him out of their perfect, Christian, suburban house. Pierce is gay. And he is suffering the consequences for being true to himself.

Rafe is homeless.
He is also sick. Impressionable, but far from innocent, Rafe ran away from home almost a year ago. His sickness is slowly killing him. But Rafe is not a hopeless case. He has learned to get by. Nights of paid passion turn to sheltering warmth from the imminent New York winter.

And then there’s a suitcase. Pierce’s suitcase, which holds secrets from everyone including its owner.

When their worlds collide, their lives intertwine and when the world seems bent on bringing the two souls to their knees, fate has other plans for them.

Caution: Contains adult language, New York City streets, tough life choices, sexual tension, stubborn brutes and swoon-worthy romance.


Amazon US | Amazon UK | All Romance Ebooks | B&N | Kobo | Itunes | Print

About The Author
Chris Ethan is a book whore. He enjoys selling his feelings for money and other pleasures and is blatantly unashamed to do so for as long as he breathes. Chris Ethan is also a persona for Rhys Christopher Ethan, author of fantasy and sci-fi. He uses Chris Ethan to share stories of adult queer romance with those who need it. Before you delve into his books however, be warned. He likes putting his characters through shitstorms and hates anything conventional. But then there’s that darned happy-ever-after. Also, he likes swearing. Deal with it!

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Book Description:

When V’s life crumbles around her, she has two options: let it take her down with it or dive straight in

Virginia “V” Dunn is alone when her dog is hit by a car. Lucky’s back leg is shattered, and when she comforts him, his blood is wet on her hands. Suddenly, the monotony of V’s suburban life dissolves: Lucky is in a cast; her best friend, Eileen, is avoiding her; her mother’s drinking is getting worse; and her father is sick with a mysterious illness. Although V is surrounded by family, she is the loneliest girl in town.

As V begins to question everything—death, friendship, family, betrayal—she finds there are few easy answers. The people she thought she knew are strangers, and life’s meaning eludes her. Into this mystery walks the captivating Jane, and V soon realizes that the only way forward seems to break every rule, and go beyond all limitations.


Sometimes the night never ends; it just breaks into light and we pretend. I am alive, though I tend to forget that when I’m pretending, and I’m fifteen. I have sweeping dark hair and hazel eyes that turn green when I cry. Sometimes I rub my hands together, maybe just to see if it’s really me. I wear the glasses I’m supposed to wear when I’m in the mood and when- ever I remember my sunglasses because the day hurts my eyes. Maybe the pretending has torn the edges of who I am, so the result is a frayed and sensitive me.

If the night never ends, who can see? The day boils down to pretending what is and is not there. Because she does not want me to, I do not see the black eye on my mother’s face as the bruise changes, fades a blotchy red to a tattered purple, then spreads to flat green.

Because he assumes nobody does, I do not see the increasingly bloodshot eyes of my brother as he stares past me at dinner. And I do not see the raised eyebrows on Baby Teeth’s face that settle more frequently into surprise as she watches and help-lessly learns this pretending game. I wish I could tell her she doesn’t have to play, though if she’s to survive life in this house, she will.

So I do not notice that on the days that we do not go to the hospital, she spends every afternoon at other people’s houses now. And I especially do not see the absence of my father at dawn when he does not kiss the sleeping Baby Teeth good-bye before he climbs down the stairs in his solid brown shoes and goes to work. And I do not see his absence as I pass his empty chair at night when I walk into the kitchen to feed my dog. The last thing I do not see is my tilting, limping Lucky as he waits by his empty bowl, or the image of the vile green VW that hit him.

So what do I see? That I have learned to pretend so well, I can do it with my eyes open. April has ended, and its cruelty too,   I hope, when we weren’t looking, or were busy pretending, or maybe while we slept.

So it’s May. And what does it bring? April showers bring May flowers. Well, really. I try to remember, uncertainly, if there was a lot of rain last month. No. But please flower anyway, all over me. I’ll keep my eyes open. Maybe it won’t happen all at once, the way change seems to. Now that’s something. Change blooms.


Stacey Donovan is a critically acclaimed author of fiction and nonfiction for adults and young adults. She is the founder of Donovan Edits, and has edited or ghostwritten more than twenty-five books, including three New York Times bestsellers and several nonfiction titles that have become leading works in their respective fields. Donovan lives in New York, where she continues to write and edit.

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Sometimes it’s really worth checking out backlists. There are some marvellous books out there but with hundreds of new titles every week it can be very hard to find them.
Authors – have you got a title a year or more old that could do with a little love? Readers – have you got a favourite book that you think deserves some attention? Message or email me and we’ll set something up.


I suspected that this one would be a little different when I talked to Zallora, and by heck so it is. Set in Bangkok, it tell tells the story of two young Americans out for some fun in the entertainment district. One is already deeply smitten with a gorgeous and talented night club singer, the other seems boorish initially but proves to have hidden depths.

Title: Illusions & Dreams

Author: Z.Allora

Genre: Transgender Romance

Publisher: Dreamspinner

Publication Date: November 17, 2014

Word Count/Pages: 216

Illusions and Dreams


Randy Camster failed at being married. His life now centers around work, TV sports, and listening to his friend Jake complain about how Randy’s lack of a sex life will be the downfall of mankind.
Not true! Well, not totally. He’s just never understood the fascination with sex until… ladyboy performer Lalana Dulyarat shimmies into his world via an Internet ad for Thailand tourism. 

Jake O’Neil’s open pansexuality yields him interesting bedmates, but he’s never chased after the mythical illusion of love. He focuses on others, like his best friend Randy, who needs a Bang-Cock vacation.

Finding an adorable little imp named Boon-nam wasn’t on the itinerary. Gay, straight, and undecided, Jake has had ‘em all, but never a virgin aching to take a walk on the kinky side after having her affirmation surgery. Talk about pressure. And what’s with everyone warning him not to break her heart? His is the one in danger.

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Facebook: ZAllora Allora

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comfy chair
My guest today is Lily G. Blunt who writes contemporary gay romance and erotica. She has several self-published stories available on Amazon and is also published with Torquere Press and Wayward Ink Publishing.

Welcome Lily and thanks for agreeing to be interviewed.

Can you tell me a little about yourself? For instance, do you have to have a day job as well as being a writer?

I was a teacher of junior school children for over twenty-five years but “retired” just over two years ago. My intention was to use my time to write more, which I suppose I have. At least I don’t write in the middle of the night anymore like I used to.

When you aren’t writing, is there any other creative activity you enjoy? Have you ever written about it?

I spend some of my time making m/m themed and book trailer videos. (see the YouTube link below) I also walk quite a bit with my daughter and her dog for fun and to keep the legs moving as I spend a lot of the day seated in front of the computer screen. We’ve been to the mountains and lakes in Austria four times. The scenery and a few experiences inspired me to write Opposites Attract¬—my story for Wayward Ink’s Stranded anthology.

What are you reading? Can you recommend something that you wished you’d written yourself?

I usually have several books on the go at once on my iPad and Kindle. I’ve just read an ARC of Clare London’s fabulous A Twist and Two Balls and am about to write a review of it for her. I’ve almost finished AJ Rose’s Queers. I’m also reading Jay Northcote’s Nothing Special and NR Walker’s Starting Point. I have many books waiting to be read, but keep 1-clicking, so my list is forever increasing. I recently finished Damon Suede’s Hot Head. I’d been meaning to read that one for ages. I have an outline plan for a story in my Boys on Film series about two supposedly straight buddies who sign up to film for Blue House Studios. So I hope my writing and final version will be as fabulous as Damon’s. I loved that book.

In that crucial inspiration stage of a new story which comes first? Plot, situation or character?

For most of my stories it has been a situation that comes to mind first. The plot and characters build up from that scene and the interaction I picture between the two guys. For example the initial inspiration for Paint the Sky came from a line in the song Empty Chairs. I happened to be singing it to myself over and over one day:

“I wonder if you know
that I never understood
that although you said you’d go
until you did I never thought you would.”

A scene formed in my head with two guys having this conversation. For some reason one of them was an artist and the other was jealous and suspicious of him. So the whole story stemmed from that situation. I also had an idea to use some of Van Gogh’s paintings and his life story as inspiration and the two plots melded into one.

Do your characters arrive fully fledged and ready to fly or do they develop as you work with them? Do you have a crisp mental picture of them or are they more a thought and a feeling than an image?

My characters develop as I plan and start writing the story, plus they often change in some way too as I write and picture them interacting. I have a template I use when I’m planning and fill in the physical and other attributes about the main characters that I refer back to and add to as the story develops.

Is there any genre you would love to write, ditto one you would avoid like a rattlesnake?

My husband is always saying I should write something my family can read and that is more ‘main stream’. But I wouldn’t want to write an m/f story just to please my family or on the off chance it would sell more copies. I’ve only ever written two m/f chapters and they have long since been deleted. I’m not interested in writing any more.

One day I’d like to write a gay romance or mystery where the love scenes fade to black.

I’d also like to make use of my history degree and knowledge gained from years of teaching pupils about the Ancient Greeks. In fact, I’ve already started to plan a children’s historical/fantasy story series, but have yet to begin writing it. I have a sound background knowledge of the myths and legends from that time, but I would add a twist and make it more fantasy than historical. I love all the monsters and weird creatures and am adding magic into the mix as well.

Villains are incredibly important in fiction since they challenge the main protagonists and give them something to contend with beyond the tension of a developing relationship. The cruel sea. The serial killer. The society itself. Your hero’s inner demons. What sort of villains do you prize?

The villains I like to read about are the characters or situations that cause angst within the plot and break my heart by coming between two lovers who are meant to be together. So even though they make me cry, I love to read this and always hope there will be a happy ending. The ending of the film ‘Star Man’ still makes me tear up, as does Dan Skinner’s Memorizing You.
What are you working on at the moment? Can you discuss it or do you prefer to keep it a secret until it’s finished.
I finished the final edits for Opposites Attract the other day. That will be published on October 10th in Wayward Ink’s Stranded anthology. I’ve been asked to make the video trailer for that, so that will be first on my list of things to do when I return from my holiday in Exmoor.
I have various ideas for what to write next. One might be to continue Finn or Theo or even Cliff’s story from Paint the Sky, but nothing has grabbed me yet.

I have various other plot bunnies and outlines of stories in different stages of development. The children’s story I mentioned above and my best buddies story for Boys on Film. I also started an m/m/m/m story a while ago, but I’d forgotten about it—so I might dig it out and see what it’s like. I’ll probably cringe at my writing from three years ago. I think the idea of writing a foursome in bed is a little tricky, but four guys in a relationship would be fascinating to write.

I also hope to write more short stories for anthologies and keep up with my Free Fiction Friday posts. So I’ll be kept busy. I’ve just got to make my mind up what to start writing first!

Could we please have an excerpt of something?

From Paint the Sky ~ Chapter 1

I stepped out of the examination hall at Manchester University sighing in relief and strolled towards the student café for some lunch. If the excited buzz around me was anything to go by, everyone else also thought the exam paper had been a breeze. I smiled at their whoops and cheers, and silently thanked our lecturer for priming us so well. Knowing I’d only one more exam to sit the following morning, and being well prepared for it, I decided to relax for the rest of afternoon, before knuckling down to some last minute revision later in the evening.
Being a glorious sunny day, as is usually the case in England during any examination week, the grassed area in front of the old university buildings was packed with lazing students; some sprawled on the lawn in pairs or clusters, others huddled around wooden picnic tables. End of semester fever hummed like bees in the air. I would have been welcome to sit with several of these groups, but as usual, I opted to be by myself. It might have been the age difference—I was two years older than most of them—or that I’d never seemed to gel with any of the crowds while I’d studied here. I was a natural loner. The only time I made any meaningful connection with someone was when I was seeking a blowjob in one of the gay clubs on a Saturday night. Even then, it usually ended with just a thank you and me walking away from any potential for a relationship.
Before reaching the café, I came to an abrupt halt. I spotted a familiar solitary figure sitting on one of the farthest picnic benches, his paints and canvas spread out before him. I watched the fair-haired guy clean his brush in the jar of sullied water, his tongue sweeping over his plump bottom lip, observing the red stone building as he did this.
It wasn’t the first time I’d laid eyes on him. I’d seen this hottie around the university grounds many times before. Always alone and often sketching the scene in front of him. I never managed to catch his eye, nor pluck up the courage to approach him. For all my outward bravado, I hadn’t wanted to embarrass myself nor be rejected by him. The artist, always engrossed in whatever he was doing, never looked up. As much as I willed it to happen whenever I passed by, he never noticed me.
For some reason or other, our paths had never crossed socially over the past three years, and now our student years were almost up. University ended for the summer recess in two weeks time and we would be going our separate ways. If I didn’t talk to him today, I’d probably never get the chance again. It was either now or never.
Lacking my usually abundant confidence, I held back, trying to decide on the right approach so I didn’t mess up what was to be my one and only opportunity with him. Standing there under the shade of a large oak tree, I observed him from a safe distance, wondering whether my intrusion would be welcomed. He always seemed such a loner, as if he spurned company in general and would do the same to me. I tutted aloud when I realised I could be describing myself. Perhaps we had more in common than I’d thought after all. I just had to show him I was willing to talk to him.
As soon as the picnic table next to the artist became available, I dashed to claim it for myself. If I hadn’t already, I hoped to draw his attention by deliberately making a load of noise as I sat down and dumped my bag on the bench. The blond artist briefly looked my way, our eyes catching for a second or two, before he turned his head back to his painting. I leaned down and rummaged in my bag for some bottled water to quench my sudden anxiety-driven thirst.
I’d never encountered rejection at a nightclub. Not once, as far as I could recall. But this was a different situation entirely, and thinking this might very well be my first rebuff; I dithered a little longer, nervously fiddling with the strap on my bag and taking unnecessary gulps of the tepid liquid. What if this guy was straight or already spoken for? What if he wasn’t interested in me?
From my position, I had a clear view; not only of him, but also the painting he was making. The guy was certainly talented; the watercolours mixed on his palette were applied with skill. As much as the developing painting fascinated me, the creator was of more interest. When his head tilted, his wheat-coloured locks fell forward over his cheek, the sunlight giving the impression of waves of silk, or so I imagined as I began to compose the first lines of a new story in my head. His top lip held between his teeth softly in concentration, so absorbed he appeared unaware of his surroundings—and of me.
Despite questioning other students in my classes over the past few months, I was unable to find out anything about him other than he was a painter, a solitary one at that. Even when I pointed him out, no one knew his name, or where he lived. Not one of them took the same classes as him. Some had said they had seen him with one or two guys on occasions, but couldn’t recall many details.
The guy was shorter than myself and well built. I stared at his muscular, bulky thighs filling the legs of his jeans as they spread out on the seat. He wore a faded grey t-shirt with indecipherable lettering and an arty theme: of Picasso or Dali perhaps. Fair hair covered the skin on his exposed golden arms; one consequence of sitting in the midday sun for hours, I guessed. His rounded chin adorned also with light coloured stubble. I wondered how his facial hair would feel against my skin if we kissed, or as his lips moved down my torso. Shivering with sudden arousal, I practically groaned.
A tilt to his head signalled the artist had moved his focus from the building. Deciding not to turn away from him, I swallowed down my anxiety, and swept my hands nervously through my hair. Our eyes finally met and held, neither of us flinching nor pulling away. Large blue-grey eyes bore down on me, the sadness emanating from them enough to make me gasp. I wondered if he was lonely too. Slowly my lips formed a gentle smile, and in return, I received the same. For an instant, his eyes sparkled, sending a welcome tingle over my already warm skin. We both quickly glanced away to look at the painting and then back at one another again.
Summoning my courage and not anticipating rejection now I’d seen that magical glint in his eyes, I stood and walked toward the artist, looking at the canvas laid out before him. I allowed sufficient time to appraise his work before commenting.
“You’ve captured the colour of the stone work beautifully.” I hoped that was an intelligent enough response without sounding like some poncy git. “And I like the way you’ve painted those wispy cusps of clouds.” I looked between the sky and the artwork for comparison, waiting for a reply or at least some sort of acknowledgement.
The artist nodded thoughtfully, scrutinising his work, seemingly appraising it as well. “Thank you.” His voice was shy and gentle. “I’ve not quite finished.”
“Would you mind if I watched you paint for a while?”
“Feel free.” His cheeks flushed lightly.
I walked around the picnic table, sliding in next to him. “I’m Benjamin, but I prefer Ben.”
“Vinnie.” A smile lit up his face again, and it hit me how really gorgeous he was when he smiled. After rinsing his brush in the dirty water, he applied a wash of green for the grass in front of the building. “Or Vincent, if you really must.”
“As in Vincent Van Gogh?” I chuckled, feeling pleased. Not only did I now have his name, I’d shown him I knew something of the art world.
“Yep, you got it. My parents loved his work, hung loads of his prints on their walls, and they used to paint in his style as well.” He dabbed a darker shade of green in the foreground with a thinner brush to add texture. The smile disappeared, making me wonder if the sadness I sensed in him was related to his parents.
I wanted to keep our conversation flowing. “Are you studying Art? Or is this a hobby?”
“I majored in Art, although, I’m almost finished now. Just have the final assessment of my portfolio tomorrow afternoon, plus the evening viewing for family and friends to get through on Saturday, and then I’m finished here for good. Three years done and dusted. Thank goodness.” His voice oozed excitement at first and then became laced with a little trepidation. I wondered if he was worried about the exhibition, or the fact he was about to embark on a new phase of his life. I could empathise with that.
I pointed to the piece in front of him. “So, this won’t be on display then?”
He shook his head. “No, I’ve painted this scene several times before. The one I have on display was done in acrylics in the style of Van Gogh’s later work.” I nodded as if I understood what he meant.
I watched Vinnie apply more paint to complete the finer details of his picture. It really was beautiful. Despite the building having historical significance, the subject matter itself wasn’t particularly awe-inspiring to me. He’d obviously been drawn to some aspect of this building if he’d painted it many times before. Perhaps it was just a pleasant and convenient place for him to sit and paint.
“Part of the skill is knowing when to stop, especially when using watercolours. At least with oils you can let it dry and then add some more on top if you want to change or add something.” He rinsed out the jar and his brushes with some clean bottled water and dried them with paper towelling.
Realising he was packing away his supplies, I grappled with ideas to retain him a little longer. “And what do you intend to do now you’ve finished uni?”
Vinnie paused in his packing up. “I already work part-time in an art supplies store down by the river off Bridge Street. You know, the one with the art gallery and coffee shop attached?” I nodded. I knew of it. “I’m working there full-time over the summer, running art classes for kids as well as working in the shop.”
My father owned a rival business on the opposite side of the city, along with another twelve shops in nearby towns. As my father was doing his best to put his employer out of business, I didn’t think I should mention it. If only I’d known beforehand, I could have arranged a summer job for him in one of our stores. “Not returning home to your parents, then?” As soon as I uttered the words, I regretted my thoughtlessness. Vinnie looked down immediately and resumed packing away.
“No, I‘m staying here for now. I’ve paid the rent on my bedsit for the next two months and my brothers live nearby in St Helens.” He gave no mention of his parents. “How about you?”
I laughed with embarrassment. “My mother still insists on a family holiday every year, despite me being twenty-three. So next month, I’ll be in Tuscany with my parents and brother for three weeks. And then I’m supposed to help out my father with the family business. I haven’t decided yet for certain, though.”
“Twenty-three?” Vinnie questioned. “I took two gap years before I started university, too.” I smiled, realising we were the same age. “I worked during that time to save for the tuition fees. I didn’t want a huge debt when I’d finished.”
I never worried about paying tuition fees or anything else for that matter. My father provided more than enough for me, and not for the first time, I felt a little guilty about that. “I travelled around Europe for eighteen months before deciding what I wanted to do and then helped out in my father’s business until I started studying here.”
Vinnie frowned a little. His bag was packed and ready to go, but he remained seated, which I took as a good sign. The canvas lay on the table’s surface, drying in the sun. “So, what was your degree?” He sounded as if he genuinely wanted to know.
“English Lit. and Music.”
Vinnie nodded, his lips pursing while mulling over his next question. “What instrument do you play?
I beamed, chuffed he was trying to find out more and showing an interest in getting to know me. “Piano, violin, guitar… the spoons.” I risked a joke, hoping to tease another smile from him.
Vinnie’s eyebrows scrunched for a second, and then he laughed along with me, tapping his thighs as if playing some invisible spoons, before asking, “So what career would you really like?”
I shrugged. “To be honest, I can’t make up my mind. My father wants me to follow in his footsteps, but I’d like to write. I suppose I could do both.”
“You write?”
“Yes, fiction—I write gay romance and fantasy in my spare time. Or try to anyway.” I liked that Vinnie didn’t blanch at gay. In fact, his eyes sparkled when I said the word. “I’ve got loads of them half-written. I just need time to edit and finish the best ones off. Not that anyone would want to read my stuff.”
“You should submit them to a publisher, you never know.” He really had the most gorgeous eyes, blue yet not quite blue—with a hint smoky grey.
“What colour would you call your eyes?” I cringed when I realised I’d actually asked him that.
He blushed, looking away from me, and rummaged in his bag for his box of paints. His slender fingers pulled out a tube, the lid being a similar colour to his eyes. “Stormy Blue, I think. A mix of pale blue and grey,” he suggested, showing me the name label.
I took the tube as if inspecting the colour, looked in his eyes and smiled, before handing it back to him. “Yep, looks like it.”
He packed it away again, took out an envelope, and stood. “Talking of writing, I need to post this letter to my brother so it gets there by tomorrow. It’s his birthday.”
“Never heard of the telephone or email?”
“I don’t own a phone or computer.” His cheeks flushed. “All my money goes on art equipment, rent and food. I never wanted to get into debt or owe anyone any money.”
I raised my eyebrows in surprise. I couldn’t imagine life without my phone or Mac or any of the luxuries I’d wangled out of my father over the past three years. Most students I knew had a range of modern devices. And damn it, I couldn’t ask for Vinnie’s number to get in contact with him again.
“And I like to write anyway. Plus I often include a small picture I’ve painted for him.” He placed his bag on his shoulder.
“Good luck with your assessment and the viewing next week.”
“Thanks.” Vinnie went to walk away, but paused. “You could always pop into the exhibition on Saturday evening if you’d like to see more of my work,” Vinnie offered, doubt clearly rising in his voice. “I could do with all the support I can get. It’s in the Art Department studio. There are posters with the details all around uni advertising it.”
Cheering inwardly, I kept a restrained look on my face. “I might just do that.”
“It’s free,” Vinnie added, smiling.
As if that would make any difference to me. “Hope to see you there, then.” I smiled back at him.
“See ya.” Vinnie walked away.
I sat there and watched him until he was out of sight, taking in his rear view with lustful appreciation. His jeans clung tightly and my cock twitched at the thought of seeing his naked butt.
I remained seated for another ten minutes, basking in the late afternoon sunshine. I could have punched the air—I’d actually spoken to him. Saturday evening couldn’t come soon enough. It wasn’t a date as such, but I hoped it might lead to one. Something I hadn’t had for a long time. The idea of taking Vinnie on holiday to Italy flashed randomly across my mind. I could persuade my parents easily enough. I laughed at myself. I needed to concentrate on getting a date with him first. But the idea of sharing my hotel room with Vinnie for three weeks had me grinning from ear to ear, until I remembered he had a summer job. I grabbed a sandwich from a local store on the way to my apartment, only now realising I’d missed out on lunch.
Later that afternoon, still on cloud nine, I pulled out my revision notes on Shakespeare, Wordsworth and Jane Austen. After an hour of skimming through them, I gave up. All I could think about was Vinnie, his painting and our earlier conversation. Deciding to do something totally different, I booted up my Mac with excitement coursing through me. Opening a clean page, I began to write a new story.
So inspired, I was still typing three hours later when I realised I was hungry again. I made a cheese omelette before returning and adding more, eventually settling into bed at midnight.
And the main character in my new novel?
Vinnie, of course.


Paint the Sky


A love of art…

A mutual interest in art draws two shy university students together. Ben admires Vinnie’s painting of the university building, so Vinnie invites him to an exhibition of his artwork. From a wealthy family, Ben purchases some of Vinnie’s art and arranges for the artist to personally hang the paintings in his apartment.
Starry, starry night…
Ben commissions Vinnie to paint his portrait, in order to spend more time with the artist. On the night of the sitting, Vinnie fingerpaints the starry night on Ben’s chest… and they kiss. They begin a relationship beneath the night sky, God’s own canvas.
But every relationship has its ups and downs and so it is with theirs. When Ben thinks Vinnie spends too much time with a fellow artist, his jealousy drives a wedge between them and forces Vinnie into the very thing Ben dreads.
Hold tight to your dreams…
Ben and Vinnie will have to walk through fire before they can find one another again. But if they believe, and if they keep their faith in the night sky and each other, just maybe they can make their dreams of love come true.


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Bollocks! out today.

That’s not an instruction, by the way. Not a reference to some exhibitionistic gent giving his danglies an airing. No, this refers to the very British anthology of short stories from Wayward Ink Publishing – Bollocks!

Here’s the cover and blurb:

Bollocks as a word is a little naughty. It’s a little cheeky. It’s a little rude.
And it’s the tongue-in-cheek theme for this collection of short stories celebrating all things English.

You’ll discover a bonk is not a typo for somewhere to keep your money. A shag isn’t something thick and plush under your feet to keep them warm, though it is guaranteed to heat you up! And as for a snog, the boys of Bollocks! can assure you it’s worth finding out what that Brit term means.

The stories will make you laugh. They’ll make you snort. They’ll make you blush. Sigh—they’ll probably make you shake your head. They may even make you want to catch the next flight to England to find something a little British of your own!

It’s not just cricket, or jolly hockey sticks, it’s more… it’s the very British, Bollocks!

This is a fun bunch of stories, folks, with something for everyone – tension, passion, erotica and the daftest story I’ve ever written. 🙂 Would I recommend it? Of course I would. Short stories are briliant for filling in that little gap between going to bed and sleep, or waiting for a bus or to read in your lunch hour. These stories are fun, good humoured and generally life affirming – something we all need from time to time.

But don’t take my word for it.Those lovely people at Sinfully Sexy Book Reviews have already reviewed it and you can see their opinion here plus a terrific Rafflecopter giveaway!

If you’d like your own copy you can do the Rafflecopter thing there, or you could buy it directly from Wayward Ink, from B&N, from Amazon US and from Amazon UK

Click read more for the list of stories and watch this space because I’ll be offering a copy when I get back from UK Meet in Bristol.


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