Monday, February 20, 2017

Still Pimping Champagne Kisses ;)

Happy President's Day! I get that one of the two major presidents in history were born today, (Not both), but not sure why it was made into a national holiday really. There have been dozens of just as important people over the years who we don't do that for. Then again, who am I to question it, really? I don't get into politics, at least not publicly. I tend to keep most things to myself since it's such a controversial subject and people get so touchy over it. I do firmly believe every single person on this planet is entitled to their opinion, no matter who does or doesn't agree with said opinion, but that's neither here nor there.

I have been doing a mini blog tour for Champagne Kisses to give it some exposure since it's one of my first releases on my own that isn't through a publishing company. At all. Today I am over at Anne Barwell's LiveJournal. http://anne-barwell.livejournal.com/224583.html



I have been quite happy with the response so far to Champagne Kisses. :) It's not my typical writing as I don't tend to write stories where the main characters are already together. I do prefer the meeting, slow build up, fireworks, confession of love. But I think despite it not being my usual it came out rather well. I don't go searching for reviews as I tend to get discouraged if I read negative ones so I don't know how the readers feel. If there are any reviewers reading this that would like to do a professional review for me, I would be most interested and grateful!


Well if you're off from work today for President's Day, I hope you have fun and enjoy the day. If you're working, I hope you have a great day at work. I am off to take my dog to the vet. Hoping it doesn't cost my arm. Or leg. Maybe just a finger since that'll hurt less.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Cover Reveal Contest for Champagne Kisses!

Happy early Valentine's Day!



I am participating in a Valentine's Day Blog hop! Be sure to visit ***Nicki J Markus's blog for more blogs participating and other contests to enter!***


Today I am going to be releasing my Valentine's Day short, Champagne Kisses. It is something that was out for a very brief one year period in an anthology called On Valentine's Day with several other very talented gay romance authors. But I decided since my foray into the self publishing world, I would release it again for those who haven't had a chance to read it.

The first thing I needed for this was a cover, of course! So I enlisted my friend's very beautiful and very talented daughter. She did a gorgeous drawing for me and I couldn't be happier! Kali Ward, daughter of Toni Ward, which many of you know quite well from Facebook, has quite a talent for drawing! Her portfolio is HERE. She went above and beyond what I envisioned with my cover.

So beautiful! I envy her talent! If only could draw like that! I love the cover. :)  She has done such a fantastic job going for what I wanted. Beyond what I imagined in my head.

Champagne Kisses was born of an idea of a man frustrated with their lover being too busy with work to spend time with them on one of the most romantic holidays of the year. He resigns himself to spending the day/evening alone only to find himself swept up in a mysterious adventure after he closes up shop at the end of the day.

The story is short but sweet, and a perfect bit of sugar to add to your holiday at a small price! It will be available on Smashwords and Amazon Kindle first, then once Smashwords finishes its distribution to its premium catalog, it will become available at B&N, Kobo, and other retailers. :)

Want to win a FREE PDF/Epub/mobi copy just for you? Tell me about your most romantic or memorable Valentine's Day ever in the comments below! The best one will win a free copy of my ebook Champagne Kisses!

Blurb: Their date cancelled on the most romantic day of the year, Sam Evans feels betrayed by Dean, who often puts work before their relationship. Brooding about his lover's lack of commitment toward him, he leaves work early only to be stunned by what awaits him outside the door.

Excerpt:

February 14th, 3:05 P.M.

Sam Evans stared broodingly out of the window of the small bookstore he worked at part time. There were little to no customers in the shop and he couldn't be more thankful. His spirit was definitely not in the mood for being people-friendly. All he wanted to do at the moment was wallow in self pity. How could Dean do this to him?

"I'm sorry, Sam, but it's a really big case. We can't afford to miss anything or he could walk."

"But it's Valentine's Day! You can't take a few hours off to spend it with me?"

"I'll make it up to you. I promise. I've gotta go. I'll call you later."

Click

Damn him! Sam scowled even harder. Six months they'd been together and Dean still put his work over their relationship. Sometimes he wondered if it was even worth it, but then he'd remember how sweet and sexy the man could be and his anger would dissipate until the next time Dean would cancel a date or break plans they'd made together. He loved him and couldn't imagine spending his life with someone else, but if things didn't change soon, he wasn't sure how much longer he could deal with it. Though Dean had no idea how deep his feelings went. They'd never used the big L word and Sam would be damned if he said it first with how things were between them.

He hadn't even gotten Dean anything for Valentine's Day. Because if they weren't going to spend it together, what was the point of getting him a gift? Maybe he'd even done it a little bit out of pettiness and disappointment. Okay, it was true. He'd been selfish and hadn't wanted to think about buying something for Dean because he was mad and because it depressed him even more to think about spending the holiday, meant for lovers to be together, alone.

Sam thought back to the first time they'd met and flushed at how clumsy he could be at times. His best friend and confidante, Aaron Beckinridge, had opened a catering business a little over a year before he met Dean. Sam could still hear Aaron's excitement when he'd found out he'd gotten the gig for a huge charity dinner party for some of the big wigs at City Hall. A few hours before the event, Aaron called Sam in a tizzy because he was short-handed and needed a body to help fill in. He'd begged Sam and despite Sam's many attempts to wiggle out of the obligation, Aaron managed to back him into a corner until Sam reluctantly agreed. He'd never been entirely comfortable in social settings, but at least he wouldn't be expected to make polite chit chat or entertain anyone.

At first, the party had been dull, a bunch of stuffed shirts bragging about their latest wins in the courtroom or their golf handicap. As the night wore on, Sam wandered through the crowd holding a tray of champagne glasses while attempting to entertain himself by making up stories about the attendees. One overweight man who brayed like a donkey and sweated like a pig reminded him of the arrogant, selfish Duke in one of his stories. A seemingly straight-laced blonde woman in a tight black dress would have made the perfect gold digging Black Widow. He made mental notes of everything to work into his stories, including some of the decorations and food from the evening.

In the midst of his imaginings someone bumped his arm causing the tray to over balance. One of the champagne flutes tipped and spilled all over a pair of expensive-looking black patent leather shoes. Sam immediately apologized and looked up into the most breathtaking hazel-green eyes he'd ever seen. His voice failed him.

Easily six foot four, the man towered over Sam's mere five-nine. The severe cut of the tuxedo clung to the stranger's lightly muscular physique in all the right places. Short light brown hair swept back from the man's features accentuated the strong jawline and firm rounded chin with a slight cleft in it. Sam's mouth dried out in desire and he swallowed hard, attempting to find his voice once more. He shoved a strand of his almost shoulder-length dirty blond hair behind one ear nervously.

"No worries. I hated these shoes anyway," the man drawled amusedly, his full lips lifting in an almost smirk.

Sam snapped out of his daze and blushed. "I'll get something to clean it up with," he mumbled and threaded his way toward the kitchen at the back of the mansion to grab a towel. Rushing back out, he saw that the attractive guy had disappeared and fought off disappointment as he cleaned up the spilled drink. He didn't delude himself into thinking the man could possibly be gay. If he was a guest at the party, it meant he was a lawyer and he hadn't heard of many gay lawyers, if any at all, in this city.
Sighing, he went back into the kitchen, dropped the rag on the counter and decided to take his break. "Hey, Aaron, I'm going to get some fresh air."

Aaron waved him off, shouting instructions at one of his regular waiters. Sam walked out of the back door leading onto a large balcony overlooking a huge, well-kept garden, which no doubt cost more than he made in a year. He breathed in the night air deeply as he moved to the railing and leaned against it, his hands resting on the cold cement. He tilted his head to stare up at the bright half-moon overhead while berating himself for being so inept. The man probably thought him an utter disaster. Frowning, he shook his head and tried to dislodge the stranger from his mind. Why should he care? After tonight, he'd never see the man again anyway.

He sighed once more. He wanted to be home, surrounded by his books and working on his latest novel. At least there he didn't have to worry about making a fool of himself. Books aren't concerned with what you look like or how you act. What he loved most about books was that they were places to lose yourself in. Somewhere you could hide from the cruelty of the real world and become a sexy, brilliant detective or a suave, confident prince who could have anyone they wanted, go anywhere they wanted and they never embarrassed themselves. It was why he loved working for A Book Nook, his usual day job. Most customers who came in were like him, looking for an escape from their lives. His own novels weren't main-stream, but he made enough to be comfortable working part time and writing.

"I always did detest these kind of parties," a deep, sexy voice disrupted his thoughts and Sam jumped, turning to look at the owner. The man he'd spilled the drink on stood a few feet away from him. He'd been so wrapped up in his thoughts, a bad habit mind you, that he hadn't even known the guy was there. How long had he been watching him? The butterflies in his stomach kicked up once more and he could only nod in response to the stranger's comment before turning back to staring at the stars and moon. Sam tensed when the guy approached and leaned onto the railing near him. He could feel the warmth radiating from his closeness and bit his bottom lip.

"I'm going to guess this isn't your usual gig either."

Sam shook his head, still finding his voice locked in his throat.

The stranger hummed. "If I hadn't heard you apologize earlier I'd wonder if you were mute."

"No," Sam murmured. "I can talk."

"Ah, there's his voice," the man teased gently, tilting his head toward Sam.

"I'm really very sorry about your shoes," Sam apologized again, glancing at him out of the corner of his eye.

"I told you don't worry about it. I have several pair like these and between you, me and the flowers, I'd rather go barefoot." One hazel-green eye winked at him.

Sam blushed and swallowed hard, his fingers curling into half-fists on the railing. His chest tightened almost painfully. He'd never been very good at idle conversation. Even as a child, he'd found it hard to open up to strangers. It took forever for him to make friends, but once he did, he allowed himself to let go and show more of his true self to them. "Well… um…"

"Dean Saunders," the guy offered.

The man's name was as hot as the package. Sam managed to force himself to reply. "Sam Evans."

"It's nice to meet you, Sam," Dean said holding out his hand.

Sam stared at Dean's manicured fingernails uncertainly for several breaths.

Dean chuckled lightly. "I'm not going to bite, you know."

Sam's blush deepened at his social ineptitude and he placed his hand in Dean's, shaking it briefly. When he pulled away, he felt Dean's fingers trail over his palm and shivered at the almost caress-like touch. "I… uh… should be getting back to work," Sam mumbled, pushing away slightly from the balustrade.

"Stay," Dean cajoled. "I could use the company and I'm sure your break is a lot longer than five minutes."

He gave a brief nod at Dean and relaxed against the banister. Nibbling on his lower lip, Sam focused on the fountain in the center of the garden, watching the way the water sprayed into the air before raining down to the surface. Dean shifted beside him and turned, leaning his elbows on the railing and tipped his head back to gaze up at the stars.

"So when you aren't serving stuffed shirts at a party, what do you like to do, Sam?" Dean asked casually.

"Oh, this isn't my usual job," Sam protested. "I was just helping out my friend Aaron. He was short staffed and asked me to help out. I'm actually… I work for a bookstore." He'd never felt comfortable telling others that he was a professional novelist. Most people took it as him bragging, or at least he thought it seemed they did. Although Aaron would always tell him to stop being so modest and to brag all he wanted, that becoming a published author was a huge accomplishment. Sam still felt as though he was showing off when he talked about it.

Dean gave the lop-sided grin Sam was beginning to see as his signature smile. "That suits you more than this place."

Sam frowned, his brow furrowing. "What's that supposed to mean?"

"It wasn't meant as an insult," Dean assured him. "I just meant that you seem like the type who prefers more casual environments rather than all this." He gestured toward the mansion and the party inside.

Eyeing Dean, Sam debated on whether to accept the man's words at face value, but figured it wasn't worth challenging since he didn't know him well enough to be certain Dean was being rude. "And what about you? Do you prefer casual or all this?" Sam tossed back, waving his hand similarly to Dean.

Dean shrugged. "I like being where I can be myself. The only reason I attend these parties is to meet shy, handsome waiters with gorgeous brown eyes."

At first, Sam felt a warm flush race over his skin, but then he thought about Dean's words and scowled, shoving away from the rail, the happy glow gone. "You don't have to mock me."

He spun around to go back inside except Dean grabbed his wrist, stopping him. He kept his back to Dean, trying to tug his hand out of Dean's grip. "I'm sorry, Sam. I wasn't mocking you. I'm afraid my flirting skills are a bit rusty."

Sam stopped struggling and turned enough to be able to see Dean. Flirting?

"Give me another chance, please?" Dean asked softly, his grip loosening and his thumb rubbing across the smooth skin on Sam's inner wrist. "I'd like to take you to dinner."

His fear of being hurt as he had been in his last relationship kept him from accepting immediately. He'd remained single for five years because he didn't want to ever go through the same pain again. Aaron constantly told him he needed to stop letting his past keep him from finding love, but it was easier to say than do. It was kind of like when you fell off a horse and were afraid to get back on. The longer you went without returning to the saddle, the stronger the hold your fears have on you. Several breaths went by before Sam replied. "I… I don't know."

Dean straightened away from the balcony railing and leaned closer to Sam, his fingers still loosely circling Sam's wrist. "Take a chance, Sam. One date and if you aren't convinced by the end that I'm a good guy, you don't have to see me again."

Sam hesitated again and Dean reached up with his free hand to brush a strand of Sam's hair back from his face. "One dinner. That's all I'm asking."

Taking a small leap of faith, Sam decided one dinner couldn't hurt, so he said yes. One date turned into two, then three, and finally on the seventh date Sam allowed Dean to seduce him. In the last six months, they'd been doing fairly well despite the multiple times Dean cancelled one of their dates to work on a case. Sam knew Dean wanted to help people and worked hard to do so, but he couldn't deny it still stung that Dean would rather be at work than with him. This Valentine's Day ditch was the hardest of them all. Why couldn't Dean find at least a couple of hours to spend with him? Didn't he want to? Or was Dean tiring of him already?

 Sam regularly battled his fears and anxieties. His ex-boyfriend had left behind a lot of scars. Not physically, but emotionally. At the end, when the reality of how long the relationship had been dead sank in, Sam hadn't wanted to accept it at first because it would mean the three years spent together meant nothing and he'd still been desperately clinging to the hope that they could work it out. Over the course of time since the breakup, he'd come to realize just how one-sided their relationship had been; the emotional and mental abuse, the way his ex would try to change him and mold him into what he thought was acceptable, and the way he'd used him until the very end. Dean had shown him even more just how wrong everything had been.

Sighing, Sam heard his boss, Marla, come out of the back room. "What are you so mopey about?" she asked, raising an eyebrow as she set a box of books on the front counter. She was one of his closest friends, right up there with Aaron, and knew him fairly well. More than once she'd helped him with his problems. When she'd found out he was seeing Dean, she'd fairly squealed in excitement and demanded all of the details. At the age of fifty-two, Marla had been married and widowed, had two adult children over the age of eighteen, and spent most of her waking hours running the bookstore. Sam had been trying to get her to go out more, to date, but she'd just laugh and say, "Sam, my late husband was the love of my life. No one will ever be able to give me back what I lost and I really don't need to go on a bunch of bad dates to tell me that."

He bent further over the counter and watched her cutting the tape on the box. "Dean's stuck on a case and won't be able to spend Valentine's Day with me."

Marla chuckled while opening the box and beginning to remove the books in it for stocking. "Child, if people only expressed their love for one another one day a year, there'd be a lot less marriages in this world. Dean loves you and that's all that matters."

Sam frowned. "He hasn't told me he loves me."

Marla stopped what she was doing and put her hand on her hip, shaking her head. "You seriously can't tell me that you haven't noticed how head over heels for you that man is, can you? I've seen the way he looks at you when he picks you up. It's like he's seeing his very first sunrise and it leaves him breathless."

Sam ducked his head bashfully for a minute before peeking up at his boss. "You really think so?"

"I know so, hon." Marla reached out and patted his hand lightly. "Tell him how you feel, Sam. You might just be surprised."

He nodded as she went back to stocking the recent shipment on the shelves. Was Marla right? Should he just tell Dean he loved him?

"It's a little slow today so we're closing up shop a bit early, hon." Marla looked at her watch. "Instead of eight, let's call it at five, okay?"


"Sure thing, Marla." Not that he had anywhere important to be.


Buy Links:

Smashwords

Amazon

I will add other links as they become available. :)

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Fragments of a Unicorn's Soul Available Now!

Evening, folks! Happy Super Bowl Sunday! I am not a football fan, but I am rooting for the Falcons, for my own reasons. :)


Happy news for me which I am sharing a couple of days late due to some personal things that kept me busy! Fragments of A Unicorn's Soul is now available again but this time it's self published and will remain available. It is available via Smashwords and Amazon only right now. Smashwords is still working on validating it for distribution to the other sites such as Kobo abd B&N, so you will have to wait a little longer before it is available through there if you're a strict purchaser from those other sites. Smashwords Link and Amazon Link .

The cover artwork was designed by Sara York in 2013 when I was originally going to self publish, but ended up not going that route out of lack of time. Now that I have been through the wringer with multiple publishing companies with this novella and the novel Swift's Temptation, I have decided enough was enough. So, now, it's in MY hands. I am still formatting Swift's Temptation for Amazon, but that should be available over the next couple of days!

Also I am working on having a cover commissioned from a friend for a Valentine's Day short of mine that was only available for a brief period within an anthology back in 2012/2013 roughly. It was called Champagne Kisses. I should have that out by the end of this week and will make the announcement when it's available!

I'm also furiously working on other WIPs and hope to have a lot more available for you all in 2017! I really have so much more to motivate me and a lot more inspiration. Please continue to be patient with me as I write the next installment of the True Mates series and I hope to present you all with a new trilogy before the end of the year, but this is of course dependent on many factors in my personal life. All the encouragement you can give me is welcome. :)

Hugs to you all and I hope you're having a wonderful 2017 so far. Keep your spirits high and remember, the best way to have the brightest future is to CREATE it  yourself!

~J.R.~

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Part of the Self Publishing World!

I have officially become part of the self publishing world!


If anyone has been following me for some time now, they'll know that I have been writing and submitting books to publish since about 2010. My first publisher was Dreamspinner Press and they will always remain my first and foremost top choice when it comes to who I submit my manuscripts to. But there has been a couple of stories that were not accepted by DSP, which I located another company for back in 2011. Most of you know that company as the 'Publisher Who Shall Not Be Named' but I know of it as Silver Publishing. Of course, many authors, reviewers, and other publishing companies are well aware of the disaster and shit storm Silver Publishing became.
Silver accepted two of my stories back then, Swift's Temptation and Fragments of a Unicorn's Soul. While these two didn't do as well as the other stories I have through DSP, they did still receive some traction. Unfortunately, I only received a little bit of the royalties before the proverbial shit hit the fan and I stopped receiving my checks. After that, I didn't do anything with them for a while and eventually I debated on self publishing them. 

However, even though I had covers made up for them, I did not. I went with yet another small company that didn't last long, though I did receive my royalties however brief that was. Then again, the idea of self publishing came up. But I decided to reach out to a large, well known, well established company. I hadn't heard the rumors floating around because I hadn't been paying attention. I didn't take the warning I received via private message seriously either and moved forward with publishing them through another company known as Torquere Press. 

Yet AGAIN I had the same problem. I received two checks and BOOM! SHIT MEET FAN. These two stories seem to be jinxed when it comes to putting them up with a publishing company. So I have finally decided ENOUGH is ENOUGH. I have gone the self publishing route. I have started with Swift's Temptation (Smashwords Link) so far. Right now, it is only available on Smashwords.com as I have just uploaded it this morning and it is still going through the approval process, but eventually it will be available through the usual sites that they offer it on, such as Kobo, B&N, Amazon, etc. 

I am working on formatting and getting Fragments of a Unicorn's Soul ready for your consideration as well as another short Valentine's Day story that I had included in an anthology about three to four years ago that was only available for about a year. Currently I am having a cover made for that one and it is called Champagne Kisses. Once they are available I will of course let you all know. 

But I feel so very accomplished at being able to get these up there on my own and being able to control these on my own. It's amazing and definitely made my day to see the first one up on Smashwords. If you've already ready it, maybe help by spreading the word to others who haven't? Word of mouth is the best compliment a writer can receive. :) 

Lots more to come soon! 


~Kisses~
J.R. 




Thursday, January 26, 2017

Love and Snowball Fights Book Trailer

Good evening/afternoon/morning, my friends! 

I've started beginning to work on making my own book trailers to showcase my books! My first one ever is Love and Snowball Fights and I wanted to share that with you here. Be gentle as this is my first one. I am sure as I work on them, I'll get better. 




Unfortunately the video is too large to insert here, so you'll have to visit YouTube to watch. But please do so and then comment here to let me know what you think! 

~J.R.~



Monday, January 2, 2017

2017 and What is to Come....

Happy New Year, everyone! It's hopefully going to be a very exciting 2017! And let's hope that this mess going on with ARe is not going to take long to resolve for everyone. Every time I hear something new it's worse than the last update. :-(  All of my books were involved with a publishing company so I am leaving it in their capable hands to resolve those issues as I trust Dreamspinner Press implicitly and I know they have everyone's best interest at heart.

So for me, upcoming this year, I am going to be revealing a new website in the coming month or so and am working closely with a friend and co-worker to get that up and running. I am desperately excited about that and can hardly wait! It should be quite beautiful once completed! I also hope to have more advanced options available since I am not as savvy with the web development as my friend. It will also be kept more up to date than what my current website has been. LOL. I'm afraid I'm a bit of a slacker in that arena.

I also hope to provide you all with additional books this year as one of my intentions is to write, every day, no matter what. I am going to set aside at least two hours a day to write. Because that is the only way I am going to get to where I want to be, a full time writer and to bring you all the next in line for True Mates, the ADA Chronicles, and another series I have been working on, a trilogy that centers entirely around the same couple, which is a new one for me.

There has been some AMAZING reviews out there for Love and Snowball Fights and I couldn't be happier! It's been one of the better received books which shows me that my writing has improved since my first release, Touch Me Gently. While I know You Belong With Me released just this past November, it was written not long after Touch Me Gently and falls into the same time frame so I don't count it among the newest titles.

Rainbow Book Reviews - L&SF Review
Love Bytes Review of L&SF - 4.5 Stars!
Scattered Thoughts Review - 5 Stars!

And there were several others I saw as well. :) Definitely made my holidays brighter! Thank you to the reviewers and to those who took the time to review Love and Snowball Fights. I also want to thank those who followed my blog tour, those who participated, and to everyone who purchased/pre-ordered the novella. I truly hope it made your holiday brighter and gave you that little bit of extra warmth you were looking for.

I wish you all many wonderful things for the coming year and hoping you all have a great 2017!

~J.R.~

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Blissemas 2016 - Christmas Eve & All Through the House...



It's Christmas Eve and all through the house the smells of baked cookies and treats linger, only more will join them as the scent of roasting turkey and the traditional side dishes begin cooking tomorrow evening through Sunday morning. The anticipation grows as we await Christmas morning and the opening of presents, the sounds of paper tearing and the cries of joy as someone sees what they received for the first time. Nothing quite like being gathered together around the Christmas tree and hearing those noises of joy and seeing those smiles of pleasure.

Picture belongs to www.christmastreeassociation.org

I was blessed this year with so many wonderful things. Despite their return a handful of weeks ago, I managed to spend a blissful five months without migraines, and anyone who suffers from them, knows that is something to truly be thankful for. I also had two novellas published so close to the holidays this year. You Belong With Me, and the one I am here to celebrate with you all during the Blissemas 2016 event (http://blissemas.co.uk/), Love and Snowball Fights. Sometimes we find ourselves faced with adversity in our lives that we can choose to either rise up and face or turn tail and run. Which one would you choose if you were in Lane's shoes?

Cover artist © Bree Archer
Lane was set upon by many demons early on in his young life, from losing his parents at the tender age of 15, ending up in a harsh foster care system, to being bounced around from foster home to foster home. His experiences pushed him behind a wall, causing him to remain painfully shy and socially awkward, to the point where he moved around enough to remain friendless. Until he hits Christmas Valley and befriends Tal, the man who owns Tal's Bar and Grill, and the brother of the one man who force him from behind the carefully erected shields he'd built over the years. 

Trey is a loud, brash, yet protective alpha male who would do anything for his family, including intimidating someone smaller than him if he thought that person was out to hurt someone he loved. His first impression of Lane is tainted by the many drifters who have come through Tal's place, using and abusing his brother's good nature, but over time Trey comes to realize Lane is exactly who he appears to be. 

A snowstorm on Christmas Eve brings them into close quarters and the embers spark between them, smoldering slowly, but surely. 

To say thank you to all my readers for their support over the years and to those who have followed me along on my blog tour as I have released Love and Snowball Fights, I am giving away a $25 Dreamspinner Press Gift Card along with an eBook copy of any of my backlog. All you have to do to enter is comment and tell me what YOU are most thankful for this past year? What happened to you this year that you are grateful for? That's it! :) 


Blurb:
Lane Freeman supposed there were worse places to be dumped than a place named Christmas Valley. After being ejected from the foster care system, he spent the past five years hitchhiking and moving around. But six months of a steady job at Tal’s Bar and Grill, an apartment, and even a three-legged cat, have him almost ready to risk putting down a few roots when Tal’s brother comes home for the holidays.

Dallas firefighter Trey Jenkins reluctantly accepts that Lane isn’t like the other drifters who’ve come through his brother’s place. A fragile attraction begins to bloom between them, in spite of the many reasons they both have to fight it. Trey wants to give Lane a family, but experience has taught Lane to depend on no one but himself. Will winter love burn hot in a town called Christmas Valley, or will Lane return to his wandering ways? 

Excerpt:

Trey’s ankle felt much better that morning, if his desire to dig out the front sidewalk of his parents’ home was any indication. Lane warred with the urge to help and the side of himself demanding he remain as far away from Trey as possible. The kindness in him won out, and after he’d dressed in a pair of jeans two sizes too big for him, held up by a borrowed belt, and the long-sleeved shirt he wore the day they left his apartment, which Mrs. Jenkins had somehow washed without him knowing, he put on his boots and grabbed his hoodie and jacket.

When Trey came downstairs, he frowned at Lane. “You should stay inside where it’s warm.”

Lane ignored the bite of rejection and shook his head. “I want to help.”

Trey studied him for a long moment and then sighed. “Let’s at least see if Ma has an extra pair of gloves somewhere.”

Minutes later Lane had a snow shovel in his hand and was working beside Trey to clear out the walkway to the street and the driveway. They wouldn’t be able to drive until the snowplows came through, but this way it was already done. He saw others in the neighborhood doing the same thing, and the mindless activity soothed him as he dumped each shovelful away from the walk. Several times he bumped into Trey but merely apologized and continued to work. When they reached the end of the pathway, the muscles in Lane’s arms quivered and he couldn’t help his heavy breathing. Trey, of course, was barely winded. Lane made a face but started digging toward the cars.

“You can go inside and rest now if you want to. I can finish this up,” Trey said.

Lane shook his head. “I’m fine.”

He thought he heard Trey whisper, “Stubborn,” but ignored the comment and kept digging. The crunch of the snow giving way to the shovel gave him a deep sense of satisfaction.

It wasn’t more than a couple of feet into the mountain of snow between the walk and the driveway that he felt something hit his back. Lane jerked up and turned to stare wide-eyed at Trey, who smirked at him and casually tossed another snowball in the air, waiting to see what Lane would do.

“I can’t believe you just did that!” Lane exclaimed. He scooped up a handful of snow and threw it at Trey. Some of it hit his chest, but it scattered as it flew through the air, making little to no impact. Trey raised an eyebrow, but instead of saying anything, he lobbed the one he held at Lane. Lane attempted to sidestep, but it grazed his arm.

The gloves were off and they started lobbing snow at one another. Trey had the clear advantage, having had many snowball fights in his life. Lane guessed Trey was going easy on him, though. He couldn’t stop laughing, ducking behind mounds of snow to avoid whatever Trey threw his way. The longer they played, the more confident Lane became. He crafted each ball quick and sure, compressing it tighter as their fun continued, but it was the final snowball that hit Trey square in the face that ended their game.

Lane gasped in horror and rushed out from behind the barricade as Trey fell backward into a mound of white. “Trey!”

Lane almost slipped as he skidded to a stop next to where Trey lay. Trey’s eyes were closed and he wasn’t moving.

Lane dropped to his knees next to Trey. “Oh, my god, Trey. I’m sorry! Please be okay!” He leaned over and started brushing the snow from Trey’s face, wincing at how red Trey’s nose and forehead looked. “Trey,” Lane pleaded and shook Trey gently.

Suddenly Trey reached up and grabbed Lane around the waist, twisting them until Lane lay beneath him. Lane gave a sound of protest, but it was cut off when Trey held a snowball he hadn’t noticed before over him. “That wasn’t very nice,” Trey husked.

“I-I’m sorry,” Lane stuttered, very aware of Trey’s hard body on top of his. “I didn’t mean to. Are you okay?”

Trey’s eyes crinkled at the corner and one side of his mouth came up in a half smile. “All’s fair in love and snowball fights, Lane.”

He dangled the snowball closer to Lane’s face. “You wouldn’t,” Lane protested, ignoring the comment about love.

Chuckling, Trey shrugged. “Maybe, maybe not. I’ll make you a deal.”

Lane swallowed. “What is it?”

“Go back inside and rest while I finish clearing the driveway or….” Trey lowered the snowball a bit more.

For a half a second Lane considered it and then said, “No.”

Trey clucked his tongue a couple of times. “You really are a glutton for punishment.”

Lane glared up at him. “I’m not going to sit around and do nothing while you’re out here with an injured ankle.”

He saw a slight hesitance in Trey’s posturing, but it disappeared rapidly. Trey kept his word, but he didn’t shove it in Lane’s face as Lane expected, squeezing his eyes shut in preparation. Oh no. Trey chose to stuff it down the front of Lane’s shirt. Lane gasped at the icy chill, eyes flying open to stare in shock at Trey, who had a wide grin on his face. He remained still for several seconds, absorbing what Trey had done and feeling the ice melt against his skin, sliding down his chest.

Instead of getting mad, Lane chose to get even. He grabbed as much snow as he could from beside him and shoved it up the back of Trey’s leather jacket and under his shirt. Trey let out an exclamation of shock and sat up to fluff out his clothes in order to dislodge the ice. Seeing his chance, Lane squirmed out from under Trey and stood. He went to move around Trey but wasn’t fast enough. Trey tumbled him down in the snow once more. Lane let out an “oomph” as he hit the hard white surface.

“The last person who did something like that didn’t survive,” Trey growled, eyes twinkling to show Lane he wasn’t serious. Their faces were even closer to one another than before, and Lane noticed a small white scar at the corner of Trey’s mouth and the dark flecks of brown hidden in the steel of Trey’s irises.

“It was only fair,” Lane wheezed.

Trey grunted. “Maybe so, but I can’t let that trespass go.”

Lane wriggled under Trey, attempting to get free once more. His movements caused Trey’s eyes to darken to that liquid silver, and he halted, not really knowing what to do. He was tired of fighting it, but at the same time, knew he should hold strong against the only thing that lay in Trey’s direction: pain.
“Lane?” Trey queried.

“Y-yeah?”

“Can I kiss you?”


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Bio
J.R. Loveless is an avid fan, reader and writer of anything pertaining to male/male romance. She started out her adventure into the genre in 2004 when she discovered the anime Loveless, a softer side of Yaoi. The moment she saw Loveless, it sucked her in and hasn’t let go since.

After Loveless, she voraciously searched for anything she could find within the anime world pertaining to Yaoi and Shounen-Ai. She found Gravitation, Princess Princess, Gakuen Heaven, Junjou Romantica and so much more. As she searched for the different animes available, she stumbled across an amazing forum that to this day she is more than ever thankful she found.

J.R. currently has several works in progress and several more ideas on the slow cooker. Ideas come to her out of the blue, a lyric in a song, a line in a movie, or just out of nowhere while she’s standing in the shower. She loves to make up her own stories, to follow her heart, and to write things her way because she loves a happy ending.
She is always thankful for all of her followers on AarinFantasy and for all of the wonderful people who read her stories. Please feel free to send her an email or to drop her a note on Facebook. She will always try to respond, even if it isn’t right away.