Guest Post | After Marcus by Nell Iris

Nell Iris is back on the blog! She’s here to tell us a little about her latest release, After Marcus. Welcome, Nell!


Hi everyone, it’s me again. Nell. Here to talk about my newest release, After Marcus. But first I want to extend my deepest gratitude to Holly for having me. Thank you 😘

After Marcus was released on Saturday; it’s a deeply emotional story about Ossian, a widowed writer, and his neighbor and friend, gentle giant Joar. Ossian’s husband passed away unexpectedly three years ago, breaking his heart and shattering his life, and he’s convinced he wouldn’t have made it without Joar. 

It’s not like he didn’t have a support system: his parents, his sister, and his best friend all were there for him, but he could never show them how deeply he was hurting. He needed to be strong for them, they were grieving the loss, too, and It was only around Joar that he could let go and not hold everything inside. And Joar stood by his side like an unmovable rock, coaxed him into eating, and made sure Ossian made it through the day when all he wanted was to curl up on the couch and fade away. He listened to what Ossian said, but even more importantly, what he didn’t say. 

Time passes and Ossian recovers, but Joar never waivers. His support is unconditional, his kindness and consideration never-ending. So is it really so weird that one day, years after his husband’s passing, Ossian starts seeing Joar in a completely new light…? 

After Marcus

Blurb: 

Ossian’s heart shattered when his husband Marcus died unexpectantly. He shut down, put his life on hold, and would’ve wasted away had it not been for his neighbor, Joar.

Joar was there when Ossian needed him, offered a friendly shoulder to cry on, convinced him to eat, and helped coax him back to the living.

Three years after the life-altering event, Ossian starts seeing Joar in a different light, awakening feelings he thought were dead forever. But is Ossian ready to take the leap and open his heart to someone new? And does Joar feel the same?

M/M Contemporary / 11340 words

 

Buy links: 

JMS Books :: Amazon :: Books2Read

After Marcus cover

About Nell

Nell Iris is a romantic at heart who believes everyone deserves a happy ending. She’s a bonafide bookworm (learned to read long before she started school), wouldn’t dream of going anywhere without something to read (not even the ladies’ room), loves music (and singing along at the top of her voice but she’s no Celine Dion), and is a real Star Trek nerd (Make it so). She loves words, bullet journals, poetry, wine, coffee-flavored kisses, and fika (a Swedish cultural thing involving coffee and pastry!)

Nell believes passionately in equality for all regardless of race, gender or sexuality, and wants to make the world a better, less hateful, place.

Nell is a bisexual Swedish woman married to the love of her life, a proud mama of a grown daughter, and is approaching 50 faster than she’d like. She lives in the south of Sweden where she spends her days thinking up stories about people falling in love. After dreaming about being a writer for most of her life, she finally was in a place where she could pursue her dream and released her first book in 2017.

Nell Iris writes gay romance, prefers sweet over angsty, short over long, and quirky characters over alpha males.

Find Nell on social media:

Newsletter :: Webpage/blog :: Twitter :: Facebook Page :: Facebook Profile :: Goodreads :: Bookbub

Excerpt: 

Joar’s smile is gentle, understated, and it suits him perfectly. With his quiet personality, a wide Hollywood-esque grin with blinding white teeth followed by a loud guffaw would be wrong.

I cherish his smile more than anything. For a long time, it was the only thing that could give me a moment’s reprieve from the pain. It warms me up from the inside out, even in difficult times or on freezing days like these. 

“Thank you,” Joar says, voice rumbling in his chest. “It’s very generous of you.” 

I drink from my mug to stifle a snort. I’m generous? He’s the one who’s going out of his way to make sure I don’t fall apart; he has ever since he found me crumpled on the lawn in a sobbing heap after I received the news about my husband collapsing in the lecture hall and dying before the paramedics even got him onto the stretcher. 

After his death, I had a big support system to rely on, and my family and friends all came running when they heard what had happened. My parents moved into the house for a while, my sister Fiona offered an ear and a warm hug whenever I needed it, and my best friend Einar helped with all the practical stuff. 

But somehow, I couldn’t show them how deeply I was hurting. My family was devastated by the loss, too, and I needed to be strong for them. And Einar is down-to-earth and reliable but tends to be a bit uncomfortable when I get too emotional, so it was difficult to let my feelings show. 

Joar was different. I could let go around him. 

He was the one who saw me, saw the state I was in. He coaxed me into eating when I was content to starve to death, made sure I put on the clothes my mom had washed, he sat shoulder to shoulder with me through the nights when I couldn’t sleep. And he listened. To my tears, my incoherent words, my silences.

Whenever my mother asked how I was doing, I put on a brave face and said, “I’m managing.” My father would squeeze my arm and say, “Your mother worries,” and I’d assure him I would be fine. I told Fiona and Einar the same thing. “I’ll be fine. It’s getting easier.” 

What a fucking lie. I wasn’t fine. It didn’t get easier. 

Joar didn’t ask questions, didn’t try to assure me I’d be fine. He listened to what I didn’t say, offered his unwavering support, and a steady shoulder to cry on without asking anything in return. 

I don’t know if I would’ve survived without him. And now he’s thanking me for a simple cup of tea?

Guest Post | The Setup by Ofelia Gränd

Snowed in

I don’t know how things are where you are, but here there’s a light powder of snow on the ground. Not anywhere getting snowed in, but wintery at least 😊

Yesterday, The Setup was released, and it’s a short, fluffy, snowed-in, close proximity kind of story – one bed and all that 😆 

With everything going on, my brain isn’t working, so I thought I’d make it easy for myself and do a #SampleSunday thing. 

Below you can read the first chapter of The Setup 🥰

The Setup

the setupThree years ago, Dax Howard got out of a bad relationship and swore never to date again. He loves his picturesque cabin outside Nortown and is looking forward to three weeks of quiet over the holidays. He hadn’t foreseen a stranger turning in on his driveway in the middle of a snowstorm, claiming he’s there for a date.

Ellis Rush has risked his neck driving in a snowstorm to meet his friend Daniel and his boyfriend Dom for a double date he agreed to go on as a favor. Reaching the destination, he can’t see Daniel’s car anywhere, and when the mountain of a man opening the door says he’s never agreed to go on a double date, Ellis realizes he’s been played.

The more Ellis explains the situation, the more annoyed Dax gets. Dom is one of his closest friends, and he does not appreciate the setup, no matter how intrigued he is by Ellis. Since the roads are undrivable, Dax invites Ellis to stay, and together they plot their revenge. Cooking for Ellis, kissing Ellis, and sleeping next to Ellis isn’t the same thing as dating, is it?

Buy links

Contemporary Gay Romance: 14,382 words

JMS Books :: Amazon

Chapter 1

Ellis Rush tightened his hold on the steering wheel. He was gonna strangle Daniel, and then right before he died, he was gonna let up a fraction, so he could breathe for a second, only to then strangle him again. His brain painted a vivid image of his face turning blue. It didn’t look anything like how he assumed people being strangled looked, more like Daniel had become a member of the Blue Man Group.

The point was Daniel being blue and Ellis being pissed off as hell.

He was in the middle of fucking nowhere, not seeing more than a couple of feet ahead, and the snow was coming down in fast-falling, cracker-sized flakes. How the hell would he get home again?

Had he passed Nortown? Maybe he had. Daniel said it wasn’t more than a blip on the map. He’d gotten off the highway by the first sign to Nortown, as Daniel had told him to, but all he could see was snow.

He should turn around. Go home. Daniel would understand. Double dates weren’t something they did, and he sure as hell didn’t do blind dates. If Daniel wanted to date some small-town god, then he could do it without involving Ellis.

Fuck, this was stupid.

A knot formed in his gut. He’d been too focused on not getting stuck in the snow or driving off the road to think about the date. He had wine. Daniel claimed he was in charge of drinks, which was unfair. Why should he supply wine for four people, two of whom he didn’t know. He didn’t know if they liked wine. He’d bought both red and white since Daniel had failed to inform him what they were eating, and then he’d grabbed a few beers too since Daniel’s new obsession was a mountain man. Sasquatch. Daniel claimed he worked in a sawmill, but Ellis got serious Bigfoot vibes—he hadn’t met him, but he could sense these things. Demond was clearly a made-up name. No one in their right mind named their kid Demond… unless they were demons.

He had it all wrong. Daniel’s new boyfriend wasn’t Bigfoot. He was a demon.

Sighing, he slowed. He couldn’t see the road for all the snow and crept forward. If he had an accident and died, he’d haunt Daniel for an eternity.

Reaching for his phone in the cup holder, he growled. There was no reception. That settled it. He was gonna die. Being out of reception only happened in movies, not in real life. And when it happened in movies, there would either be a serial killer or a monster. Bigfoot and his friend would have him for dinner. Crap! He’d brought the wine, so they had something to wash him down with.

Squinting ahead, he believed there was a light flickering, maybe. He didn’t dare look away from the road long enough to make sure, but with luck, he was here.

 He wished he could stop and double-check on his phone, but he’d have to live with the embarrassment if he was in the wrong place instead. Turning in at the driveway, he yelped at how his car sank into the deep snow. When they came running for him with forks at the ready, wanting to eat him, there was no way he’d be able to drive out of here. He didn’t think Bigfoots—Bigfeet?—would stop and allow him to shovel his car out of the snow before they attacked.

For a few seconds, he rested his forehead against the steering wheel. If Daniel wasn’t dead already, he’d kill him.

With a deep breath, he opened the door and looked down at the snow. It was knee deep, if not deeper, and he wore sneakers and his good jeans. He might not want to be on this date, but he never went on one without making sure his ass looked divine.

Better bring the bottles at once so he wouldn’t have to walk back through the snow to get them if he was at the right place.

* * * *

Dax Howard watched some idiot in a car turn in on his driveway. He hadn’t shoveled it. The snow was coming down hard. It had started snowing while he’d still been at work, but it was a Friday night, and he’d be off for the coming three weeks. He hadn’t planned on going anywhere for a few days and wouldn’t be shoveling anything until it had stopped snowing.

What kind of halfwit drove in weather like this?

For a moment, he considered going out on the landing and waving him away, but it was already too late. He’d already buried half his car in the snow.

Dax sighed and went to put on his rubber boots. It was knee deep out there. He grabbed his jacket and put on gloves. The snow shovel was out on the landing, leaning against the wall, and he had another in the garage. Though he wasn’t looking forward to trudging through the snow to get there. If someone was stupid enough to drive in this weather, surely they had a snow shovel in their car.

He yanked the door open only to draw back since the man standing there had a hand raised to knock, and Dax had been punched enough times to know he wasn’t in the mood to get a fist in his face.

“Oh, shit, I’m sorry.” The man moved back so fast Dax reached for him. He didn’t touch him, but it was instinctive to try to halt his fall. He didn’t fall, but he balanced on the edge of the landing for a few seconds.

“It’s okay. You need help out of here.” He didn’t make it a question, since it wasn’t one.

“Erm… Daniel isn’t here, is he?”

Daniel? Dax didn’t know any Daniel. “No.”

The man’s shoulders slumped. “Do you know how to get to…” It clinked as he put the plastic bag down in the snow. Glass bottles, wine most likely, Dax recognized the sound. The man grabbed his phone from his pocket and held it up to Dax. “There.” He sighed. “I’m to go there, but there is no reception, so my dot hasn’t moved on the map for the last half hour or so. I hoped I was in the right place.”

Dax frowned. It was his house on the map. “Are you sure you typed in the right address?”

“Is this some kind of practical joke?” The anger glinting in the man’s eyes made Dax look at the phone again.

 “It’s my address, but I don’t know any Daniel. Was he supposed to meet you here?” It better not be a joke. He didn’t want to be part of a joke. And if it was a joke, it was at his expense as much as it was at the guy’s.

“You don’t know a Daniel?”

Dax shook his head. “I’ll help shovel your car free of the snow so you can go.”

The man narrowed his eyes. “But this is the address!”

Seconds went by as Dax watched him. “There is no Daniel here, and you shouldn’t be driving in this kind of weather. It’s gonna snow all night. I suggest we get your car free, so you can go home. It’s the safest thing to do.”

The man looked at his car. “Don’t you think I can put it in reverse and back out?”

Dax shrugged. He didn’t think so, but if he didn’t have to shovel, no one would be happier than him.

“Right. Sorry for disturbing you.”

“Don’t worry about it.” Dax didn’t move as the man grabbed his bag of bottles and went down the stairs. Hopefully, he’d make it home okay. It wasn’t a night anyone should be out driving, but he was a grown man. He could take care of himself.

It was evident he didn’t have a lick of sense. He wore sneakers in a snowstorm. He was out driving in a snowstorm. He had no gloves and his jacket was way too thin. He drove a red Toyota Yaris. It was a miracle he’d made it as far as he had. He kept his mouth shut, though. The sooner the idiot left, the sooner he could go back to his quiet night in front of the TV.

“Fucking Bigfoot.” The man hopped between his previous footsteps, making the bottles clank in the bag. Dax hadn’t studied his feet, but considering he was a head, if not more, shorter than Dax, he didn’t think he had big feet.

“If the prints are big, it should be easier to step into them.”

The man stared at him over his shoulder. “Huh?”

“Big feet. It’s good with big feet when walking in snow.”

He nodded slowly. “I meant the man Daniel is dating.”

Dax nodded, only to then shake his head, and the man groaned. “He met this mountain man, but I don’t think he’s a mountain man at all. I think he’s Bigfoot. Oh, we’re queer, unless you’d figured it out by now. It’s not contagious. No need to kill me and bury me in the woods. You know what they say about big feet, and who can have bigger feet than Bigfoot? Anyway, Daniel and Yeti—”

“Bigfoot and Yeti aren’t the same.” Dax took a deep breath. He wasn’t surprised by the queer comment. Normally, he couldn’t tell when it came to people. Sometimes there was that spark. You met someone’s gaze, and you knew they were the same, but in general, Dax had been born without a gaydar. This man, Dax would’ve been surprised if he’d said he was straight.

“No, I know, Mr. Know-it-all, but Yeti is a nicer name than Sasquatch.”

Dax fought a grin at the exasperated tone. “You didn’t say Sasquatch, you said Bigfoot.”

“It’s the same thing!”

“I know, but it wasn’t the word you used.”

The man groaned. “I know which word I used.”

“Okay.”

He narrowed his eyes. “Are you making fun of me? Why is everyone making fun of me today?”

Dax hadn’t been, but he couldn’t help but smile.

“It doesn’t matter. Daniel has turned into a necromancer and has summoned a demon.”

Dax was quiet for several seconds. “You didn’t have an accident on the way over here, did you?”

The man widened his eyes. “No.”

His car looked unscratched. “Didn’t get out of the car to have a look around and slip on some ice underneath the snow? Hit your head?”

The man wiggled his fingers at him. “Ah, I see what you’re doing. You’re trying to be nice about calling me insane.”

Dax scowled. “No. I think you might have a concussion, is all. I never meant to imply you were permanently insane.”

He huffed.

“Look, what’s your name?” Dax hoped he wasn’t hurt.

“Ellis Rush, chocolatier extraordinaire.” He bowed.

“Chocolate?”

“The universe’s gift to humans.”

Was being a chocolatier a real job? There was a chocolatier in Whiteport. He’d never been there, but he’d heard people gush about it. “In Whiteport?”

“Ah, you’ve heard of me.”

“Not you specifically, but I’ve heard the… erm… salted caramel fudge, or whatever, is divine.”

“I’m divine.”

Dax laughed. “I’m sure you are. Now, let’s get you out of here so I can get back to my divine life.”

 * * * *

Ellis winced. He always talked too much when he was nervous, and while he didn’t think he’d found a mountain man, he’d sure found a mountain of a man, a god of the forest, and it made him weak in the knees. “What’s your name?”

The forest god studied him for several long seconds, and Ellis almost whimpered—he was pathetic that way.

“Dax Howard.”

Dax. Ellis gave a dreamy sigh. It’d look good doodled in a heart. It would fit on a chocolate truffle.

 “Are you all right?”

Ellis jumped; having forgotten he was in the presence of a god. “Yes, sure, why wouldn’t I be?”

“You looked like you were spacing out, and I’m still not convinced you’re not suffering from a concussion.”

“Because of Bigfoot?” He took the last few steps until he could reach the handle of the car door. He could see how he hadn’t made the best first impression.

“Among other things.”

Should he be offended? “No concussion. I was born this way.”

“Fascinating.” The tone was dry, but there was a sparkle of amusement in Dax’s eyes.

“I think it is.” He hesitated before opening the car door. “You don’t have a working phone, do you? I should call Daniel.”

“The necromancer?”

Ellis nodded.

“I have a landline.” He gestured toward the house, which looked plucked from a postcard from the Alps.

“Wow, you’re some kind of ancient vampire, aren’t you?”

Dax breathed in deep. “About the head injury—”

“It’s not an injury.”

“Drugs?”

Ellis huffed. “Can I use your ancient device or not?”

“You can use it.”

“I didn’t mean it in a dirty way.”

Dax’s eyebrows climbed his forehead. “What? Dirty how?”

“Your ancient device. I figured you’re a good bit older than me, ancient even, and when I mentioned your device, I didn’t mean your cock.”

Dax didn’t move a muscle for several seconds, and it wasn’t until the world spun around him, Ellis remembered to breathe.

“I’m not sure how to unpack that.”

“No! No need for you to unpack it.” Ellis widened his eyes but couldn’t stop himself from dropping his gaze to Dax’s crotch. Sadly, it was hidden underneath a bulky jacket.

“Jesus, I should take you to a hospital.” Dax eyed Ellis’s car as if he was thinking about commandeering it and drive to a hospital, then he gestured at the house. “Please, go inside and call your friend.”

Spotlight | Second Wind by A.L. Lester

Second Wind is out now!

Are you looking for a low angst gay romance with a trans MC set in a little Welsh town? With a truly terrible community orchestra? A. L. Lester has got you covered.

Second Wind keywords

Second Wind

What do a shy French-horn-playing accountant and a single-dad trans trumpet player have in common other than both being members of the community orchestra at Theatr Fach in the little town of Llanbaruc?

Gethin’s been more or less hiding from life since his marriage broke up a couple of years ago. He’s joined the orchestra because his sister told him he needed a hobby rather than sitting at home brooding about his divorce.

Martin is careful who he dates because of his gender and his teenage daughter. He came to Llanbaruc as a stage manager for the Theatr Fach twelve years ago. He’s got a good set of friends here. Shannon’s a good kid. They’re a team.

Martin and Gethin hit it off. Will their mutual baggage prove too much to sustain a relationship?

A gentle m/transm romance in the Theatr Fach universe.

Buy Links: Amazon US : Amazon UK : JMS Books : Everywhere Else

Second Wind

Excerpt

“Martin!” Julie, the lead violin, waved him over. “This is Gethin,” she said, her hand on the arm of a tall, thin man nervously clutching a French horn and peering out from behind a thick pair of glasses. He resembled a nervous heron. “He’s new,” she added unnecessarily. “Can you take him under your wing a bit?”

Martin shot her a look. She was a very competent, friendly woman with no tact at all.

“Of course,” he said. “Pleased to meet you, Gethin,” he held out a hand and Gethin took it. “I’m Martin. Trumpet.”

“Gethin Jones,” the thin man said, shaking his hand a little too hard. His palm was warm and firm and he was clearly apprehensive. “Erm. French horn.” He waved his instrument vaguely at Martin. “As you can see.”

Martin smiled. “Come on,” he said. “Brass is over here. Let me introduce you around.” They started picking their way through the chairs. The brass section was made up of Martin and Alan on trumpet, Tim and Lucy on trombone, and Portia, a ten year old who played a tuba almost as large as she was. They were setting up music and gossiping about their week when Martin and Gethin reached them.

“Hullo hullo,” Martin said. This is Gethin Jones.” He waved vaguely at Gethin beside him. “Gethin, this is Tim, Lucy, Alan and Portia.” Everyone made noises of greeting. The room was beginning to echo with the sound of instruments being tuned and scales being played. It was a familiar cacophony.

“Are you Marion’s Gethin?” Lucy asked suddenly, leaning toward them to be heard over the cat-like screech of a young violinist and a burp from Portia’s tuba.

Beside him, Gethin tensed. “Not any more,” Gethin said brusquely, nodding. “But yes. I used to be.”

Lucy nodded, blushing. “Sorry,” she said. “My sister is Penny Wright. They went to school together. Penny told me what happened.”

Gethin nodded again. “Pleased to meet you,” he said, again. He didn’t add anything else. He seemed almost paralytically shy. But then, Martin would be reticent if he knew everyone was talking about his private business.

“I’ll go and get you some music,” Martin said, forestalling any more awkwardness. “Here, stick your horn down on the seat and grab yourself a music stand from the stack in there”. He gestured at the open door of the cupboard behind them.

The spare sheet music was on the table at the front. He made his way across the room, wending around chairs and people offering greetings until he could pick up a sheaf.

Julie met him there. “Is he all right?” she hissed at Martin, glancing past him over his shoulder at Gethin, an anxious expression on her face.

“Yes? Why shouldn’t he be?” Martin asked, frowning at her, puzzled.

“He’s Posey Morgan’s brother,” Julie hissed some more. “You know. Posey the health visitor?”

Martin shook his head. “Not my area,” he said apologetically. “Never met her.” He couldn’t remember who Shannon’s health visitor had been. An older woman though, no-one who could have been the sister of someone Gethin’s age.

Julie scowled at him, apparently blaming him for his lack of knowledge. “Well, she said he needed to get out of the house,” she continued, still hissing. “His wife left him two years ago and he’s become a recluse, she told me. I suggested he come along here to help take him out of himself.”

Martin bit his lip. As a gentle first step back in to a social life, he had his doubts about the suitability of the orchestra. One of it’s other activities was going to the pub after practice on a Friday and drinking steadily ‘til closing time. And there was a country-dancing-for-exercise sub-set of members he tried to avoid … they’d invited him along to one of the sessions and he’d been crippled for days afterwards.

“So?” he said. “He seems perfectly normal.”

“The wife took off with his best friend,” Julie told him, shooting another guilty look over his shoulder at the brass section, who were settling the newcomer in their midst like a chicken in a nest of ferrets. Martin stopped himself turning properly to look at them, watching out of the corner of his vision.

“I’ll keep an eye on him,” Martin promised. “Does he actually play?”

“He brought it in to the shop to have it serviced,” she said. “He seemed to know what he was doing. And Posey said he played at school. But I don’t think he’s done much of anything for a while.” She pulled a face. “He’s an accountant.”

Buy Links: Amazon US : Amazon UK : JMS Books : Everywhere Else

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About A. L. Lester

A.L. LesterWriter of queer, paranormal, historical, romantic suspense, mostly. Lives in the South West of England with Mr AL, two children, a terrifying cat, some poultry. Likes gardening but doesn’t really have time or energy. Not musical. Doesn’t much like telly. Non-binary. Chronically disabled. Has tedious fits.

Facebook Group : Mastodon : Newsletter (free story) : Website : Link-tree for everywhere else