Tag Archives: angst

Blog Tour: Puzzle Pieces by JP Sayle

Puzzle Pieces by JP Sayle

La Trattoria Di Amore Series #1

Puzzle Pieces Tour Banner.jpg

MM Romance

Release Date: 17.05.19

Buy Links:

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Puzzle-Pieces-Trattoria-Amore-Book-ebook/dp/B07RFRLS7Q/

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Puzzle-Pieces-Trattoria-Amore-Book-ebook/dp/B07RFRLS7Q/

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Blurb

Sebastian Smythe is an accomplished chef and restaurateur with several businesses and has the perfect life. That is until his long-term partner decides he no longer wants to be with him.

Suffering the devastation and loss of his “boy,” Sebastian struggles to let go of the past and move on and find someone new with his ex’s shadow still hanging over him.

Richie Bellinger has his life mapped out for him by his girlfriend. A career in management once he’s completed his masters at university. Then marriage, followed with a house and two point four kids, and they’d all live happily ever after.

Only the universe seems to have other plans for him. With his mother diagnosed with breast cancer and his father having done a runner, Richie finds himself dropping out of uni and applying for the position of office assistant at the restaurant, La Trattoria Di Amore, to earn money to pay the mounting bills.

Richie’s well-organised life is turned on its head when he meets the enigmatic Sebastian. All the things Richie thought he knew about himself and what he wanted are challenged at every turn.

Will these two learn that there is more to life if they just let go? Can they both accept each other, slot the puzzle pieces of their lives together, and reform their future?

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Excerpt

His head shot up, and he twisted his body, his pulse racing. He stared at Daddy, his mind in a complete fuddle as to what had just happened. As Richie glanced down his body at his limp cock, his cheeks heated. He was positive they now matched his flaming arse.

He groaned and buried his head back in the pillow.

“We’ll have less of that, boy. There will be no hiding from me. Not now, not ever. I won’t tolerate it. Do you understand?”

Richie looked up, meeting Daddy’s heated stare, grateful he lay belly down so Daddy couldn’t see how his body reacted to his “Daddy voice.” You are so fucked.

He ignored the voice in his head stating the obvious and answered, “Yes, Daddy.”

“Good boy. Now lie back down so I can rub in the coconut oil cream I found in the bathroom. You’ll feel a little tender for a few days.”

Richie heard the humour and smug satisfaction in Daddy’s voice as he did as he was told. He squirmed at the cold of the silky cream on the warmth of Daddy’s hand when it touched his overheated skin. Sensations spread down the crack of his arse. He spread apart his legs in an invitation. He wondered where the boldness came from, but Richie didn’t question it.

About The Author

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Let me introduce myself, my name is Jayne, I’m a lady of a certain age (50, bites fingernails). I am an identical twin, the younger one of course by 7 minutes. I am married to a wonderfully complicated man, or as he puts it, off his rocker Rob. We celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary recently. I have one daughter and two grandbabies, one boy and one girl.

I was born in the Isle of Man; this makes me Manx (not British or English). I moved to the UK for several years, and as a child, I lived in Italy for a while. But, the island calls to me so I returned home in 1998. I love the sea and now it’s only a stone’s throw from my home.

I have worked in the caring profession for 34 years and have been a hospital nurse manager, out of hours, for the past couple of years. I made the decision to work part time nights in 2016 so that I could pursue my lifelong dream of becoming a writer.

I have always believed that I could and would write a book, but life just seemed to get in the way. Until someone asked me the question, “What do I want?” The answer was easy, the hard part was making it happen. Well, it did and it has and it was life-changing for me.

So over two years later, my career path has changed and so has my life. I found my happiness again in something that just brightens my day. Now I won’t say it’s been a breeze because those who write know it’s not a total blast all the time, but it has been fun and exciting.

I am asked a lot why did I choose to write a gay romance. I went to a creative writing group (couldn’t recommend this enough for new writers); anyway, the course leader gave me these words of advice. “Put your inner critic aside, put pen to paper and just write, don’t worry about what comes out, just write.” I was a bit, ‘really that works’, but I decided to give it a go with it.

Ignored all the research I did, which said to write about what you know because that just wasn’t working for me for many reasons. The answer it seemed was to try something different and I found it flowed out and six weeks later I had the bones of my first book (113,000 words). Writing something so different to what I was doing in my life, freed me.

My island is steeped in folklore and I have used some of this in my writing, particularly Where it all Began: Manx Cat Guardians Origins. The book, I have to say I love the most, if I had to choose right now, but that might change ☺

Writing has unleashed a beast in my mind and now I can’t switch it off. I follow a lot of authors and I listen to them talking about their characters talking to them. I so get this now, I find myself muttering and talking at odd times. I wake up at 3 am in the morning, with bits of story wanting a voice.

I have six books written currently with two more in the pipeline and a couple of ideas for future series, so you never know what will come next. I have lots of places you can stalker me if you’re interested in finding out more.

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Doctor Dickward gets a great redemption arc

I've Got YouI’ve Got You by Becca Seymour

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love me a good redemption arc and that’s just what I got here as Becca Seymour completely turns around Doctor Dickwad and had me falling for him big time.

Davis was just the right man for Scott to lean on, first in friendship and then more, as he came to terms with acknowledging his sexuality out loud and all the levels of anxiety and doubt that came with it.

The narrative does a great job of slowly peeling back all the layers, never excusing Scott for his poor behaviour towards Carter in the first book, but giving explanations for why.

I loved pretty much everything in this story, including Scott’s sister and her two kids, and it never felt like the plot was ticking off boxes.

#ARC kindly received from the author in return for an honest and unbiased review.

View all my Goodreads reviews

One of Garrett Leigh’s best romances to date

Kiss Me Again
Kiss Me Again
by Garrett Leigh

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When I read a Garrett Leigh romance I know my emotions and my brain will be put through the ringer.

However, I also know that, ultimately, I will be left with such an overwhelming sense of hope once the story is done. Her books depict life in all its many shades, there is harshness but there is also joy.

This one is one of her best imho, it takes a truly complex medical condition – that of bipolar – and not only never sugarcoats the manic highs and scary lows – but also treats Ludo, and how it affects every aspect of his life, with respect.

There are moments in this when I wanted to shout at Aiden to warn him that Ludo was falling, moments when I wanted to hug Aiden because he was so determined to be the best help he could.

The scenes in the hospital when the two first meet are among the finest Garrett has written. The disorientation, the fears, the pain, the connection, the start of something beautiful, is all laid out with such clarity.

There wasn’t a bit of this book that didn’t work for me and I love how it’s also linked with a loose thread to her Dreams series. Ludo is Angelo’s cousin and while there is no reunion in this book, I’d love for Aiden and Ludo to take a trip down to Joe’s farm and visit with the gang.

Another brilliant addition to the catalogue of exemplary works from this author.

#ARC kindly received from the author in return for an honest and unbiased review.

View all my Goodreads reviews

Blog Tour: Gypsy’s Rogue by Layla Dorine

Gypsy’s Rogue | Layla Dorine

Gypsy's Rogue eCover.jpg

Buy Links:

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Gypsys-Rogue-Layla-Dorine-ebook/dp/B07QDKGSP3

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Gypsys-Rogue-Layla-Dorine-ebook/dp/B07QDKGSP3

Amazon AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/Gypsys-Rogue-Layla-Dorine-ebook/dp/B07QDKGSP3

Amazon DE: https://www.amazon.com.de/Gypsys-Rogue-Layla-Dorine-ebook/dp/B07QDKGSP3

Blurb

Growing up with a strictly religious father in a house with little joy, or love, left Grady Stoltz eager to get out. At the first opportunity that presented itself, they left home with a young man who swept them off their feet, used their preferred pronouns, and accepted that they were gender fluid and wished to shed the name Grady and all of the constraints of their former life.

Dubbed Gypsy, they never expected to return to that farm or the rural community they’d been raised in, but life took some unexpected turns, and they found themselves returning four years later. A little older, a little wiser, and the new owner of a house full of memories and regrets.

Cleaning the place up is only the first step towards deciding if they wish to sell it, or if they wish to stay and try and make a life for themselves in a place they’ve never felt as if they belonged. Haunted by the memories of the father who could never accept them, the mother they lost at a young age, and their own shortcomings and failures, they are in a very dark place when Rogue arrives.

Charismatic when performing in front of an audience, yet shy and vulnerable when faced with the prospect of being alone in a crowd, Rogue seeks shelter with Gypsy on their middle of nowhere farm, hoping for a new beginning and a chance to see if the tiny spark that had flared between them once before, can be kindled into a roaring flame.

Two battered souls, one tattered farmhouse, an old dog, a cranky chicken, several misspoken words, and one crazed ex-husband combine in an explosive combination of truth, lust, dreams, and vengeance.

Will the force of it tear Gypsy and Rogue apart, or will it leave them closer than they ever dared to hope?

Excerpt

They rolled, blinking against the torrent, rainwater washing into their eyes, over their cheek, down their chin. Gypsy opened their mouth and it coated their tongue, nearly gagging as it hit the back of their throat, forcing them to swallow. It was cold and pure and they wondered, for a moment, if this was what the sky tasted like. A deep chuckle drew their eyes left, to a pair of black shitkickers standing out in stark contrast to the muddy green of their lawn.

Those boots were attached to long legs encased in wet denim, a sodden House of 1000 Corpses t-shirt stretched across a thickly muscled chest. Through their watery gaze they caught a glimpse of tattoos wrapped around a tanned pair of arms, their breath catching in their chest when they couldn’t fully make out the patterns of them.

Oh god, oh god it couldn’t be. They strained to see the man’s face, but the rain was blocking out his features. Gypsy began to panic, sucking in breath after breath, hyperventilating, as if the crying hadn’t been enough. They wished a sinkhole would swallow them up even while they were grateful the rain had washed away their tears.

Gypsy was only vaguely aware of the man going to one knee beside them until he reached out. Recoiling sharply away from his touch, Gypsy went rolling through the mud. Their breathing picked up more, sucking in panicked gulps as they closed their eyes and squeezed their fists until mud squished through their fingers.

“Hey now. Gypsy. Hey, slow down your breathin’ for me. I didn’t mean ta scare you.”

He reached out again, and this time Gypsy was too tired to pull away. Exhausted, cold, with frayed emotions and their clothing stuck to their skin, they focused on the voice and tried not to fall off a cliff of blind panic.

“You can do better than that. Stop holding your breath, ya gotta breathe,” the voice insisted and they could feel their hand being placed against the center of a muscular chest so that the heartbeat thudded gently beneath their fingertips.

“Try and match your breathing to mine. Shit, I didn’t think you’d react like this to me coming out to see ya.”

They gasped, shuddered, batted weakly at the hand until they let go.

“Shit, Gypsy, I’m not gonna hurt you.”

The man’s voice slowly sunk in and with it came the realization that it wasn’t their ex. They wanted to weep all over again for the mercy of that small act. Their breathing eased, and slowly, slowly they unclenched their fists from the grass. Rogue didn’t attempt to touch them again, just heaved a sigh and flopped onto his back beside Gypsy, shoved his rain soaked hair out of his eyes and let the deluge wash over him.

“Shower broken?” he quipped.

“No.” They didn’t look at him again, couldn’t. Gypsy was betting there would be pity in his eyes, that, or he’d be eyeing them up like he was measuring them for a padded room.

“So this is for fun then?” He wiggled a little, getting comfortable, settling in like he planned to be there awhile.

“Why are you here? How did you ever find me?”

He chuckled again, turned on his side, brushed the wet grass aside so he could see them more clearly.

“You told me about this place over a bottle of Grey Goose and Brit Coms.”

A bark of laughter erupted from their throat, harsh, rough, but it was a pleasant memory and damn, they needed those. “You laughed so hard you puked.”

“Yeah, that was your fault too. Never thought those things would be remotely amusing.”

“That doesn’t explain how you were able to find it.”

“We always keep records of the towns we’ve visited and the places we’ve set up shows. It wasn’t hard to backtrack through them and figure it out.”

“Why would you go through that much effort for me?”

“Why not? You didn’t call, you didn’t write, so when Isaac told me you’d headed back here, I figured I’d come find out what happened and make sure you were okay. You said you’d never return here, so I figured something drastic had to happen to change your mind.”

“My father died.”

“Is that a good thing or a bad thing?”

“I don’t know yet.”

“Then I’ll wait ‘til you decide if you want condolences or a celebration.”

“That’s harsh. I wouldn’t…I’d never…”

“Sorry. I would though.”

“You didn’t even know my old man.”

“I was talking about mine.”

About the Author

LAYLA DORINE lives among the sprawling prairies of Midwestern America, in a house with more cats than people. She loves hiking, fishing, swimming, martial arts, camping out, photography, cooking, and dabbling with several artistic mediums. In addition, she loves to travel and visit museums, historic, and haunted places, caves, monuments, national parks and quirk spots.

Layla got hooked on writing as a child, starting with poetry and then branching out, and she hasn’t stopped writing since. Hard times, troubled times, the lives of her characters are never easy, but then what life is? The story is in the struggle, the journey, the triumphs and the falls.

She writes about artists, musicians, loners, drifters, dreamers, hippies, bikers, truckers, hunters and all the other folks that she’s met and fallen in love with over the years. Sometimes she writes urban romance and sometimes its aliens crash landing near a roadside bar. When she isn’t writing, or wandering somewhere outdoors, she can often be found curled up with a good book and a kitty on her lap.

Social Media

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100005197938547&fref=ts

Twitter: https://twitter.com/layladorine

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/layladorine/

Tumblr: https://layladorine.tumblr.com/

Author Website: layladorine13.wix.com/layladorineauthor

Author on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/9814124.Layla_Dorine

 

 

I’m so glad Kieran and Bennett got their “one more day”

Close-up portrait of a handsome young man with brave manly face.
If We Could Go Back
by Cara Dee

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve been pondering for ages just how to review this book.

Do I focus on the brilliant way Cara Dee makes you root for a couple who are breaking a romance taboo?

Do I focus on the narrative which takes you on a five-year journey from tentative friendship, through to genuine affection and into a deep-rooted forever love?

Do I focus on how life isn’t black and white but made up of various shades of grey, some much darker than others, and how Bennett and Kieran struggled throughout their affaires de cœur?

Or do I focus on how this book is about love, about how it finds us in the most unlikely of places at times and how the journey to a lifelong happy ending is often paved with broken glass and shards of other peoples’ pain?

Let me just say that I adored this book. I adored Bennett and Kieran, I loved their collective kids, I loved Bennett’s dad and his sister, I loved Kieran’s sister Grace and his brothers Des and Con. I hated Kieran’s other family. I felt sorry for Maggie and I was utterly indifferent to Allison.

“You’re my ‘If I could just have one more day’ person. You know what I mean?”

Yes Kieran, I know what you mean and I’m so glad you and Bennett got your one more day.

As a PS, this cover also features one of my all-time favourite models so that’s another bonus point 😉

#ARC kindly received from the author in return for an honest and unbiased review.

View all my Goodreads reviews

Release Blitz: Gypsy’s Rogue by Layla Dorine

Gypsy’s Rogue | Layla Dorine

Gypsy's Rogue eCover.jpg

Buy Links:

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Gypsys-Rogue-Layla-Dorine-ebook/dp/B07QDKGSP3

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Gypsys-Rogue-Layla-Dorine-ebook/dp/B07QDKGSP3

Amazon AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/Gypsys-Rogue-Layla-Dorine-ebook/dp/B07QDKGSP3

Amazon DE: https://www.amazon.com.de/Gypsys-Rogue-Layla-Dorine-ebook/dp/B07QDKGSP3

Blurb

Growing up with a strictly religious father in a house with little joy, or love, left Grady Stoltz eager to get out. At the first opportunity that presented itself, they left home with a young man who swept them off their feet, used their preferred pronouns, and accepted that they were gender fluid and wished to shed the name Grady and all of the constraints of their former life.

Dubbed Gypsy, they never expected to return to that farm or the rural community they’d been raised in, but life took some unexpected turns, and they found themselves returning four years later. A little older, a little wiser, and the new owner of a house full of memories and regrets.

Cleaning the place up is only the first step towards deciding if they wish to sell it, or if they wish to stay and try and make a life for themselves in a place they’ve never felt as if they belonged. Haunted by the memories of the father who could never accept them, the mother they lost at a young age, and their own shortcomings and failures, they are in a very dark place when Rogue arrives.

Charismatic when performing in front of an audience, yet shy and vulnerable when faced with the prospect of being alone in a crowd, Rogue seeks shelter with Gypsy on their middle of nowhere farm, hoping for a new beginning and a chance to see if the tiny spark that had flared between them once before, can be kindled into a roaring flame.

Two battered souls, one tattered farmhouse, an old dog, a cranky chicken, several misspoken words, and one crazed ex-husband combine in an explosive combination of truth, lust, dreams, and vengeance.

Will the force of it tear Gypsy and Rogue apart, or will it leave them closer than they ever dared to hope?

Excerpt

They rolled, blinking against the torrent, rainwater washing into their eyes, over their cheek, down their chin. Gypsy opened their mouth and it coated their tongue, nearly gagging as it hit the back of their throat, forcing them to swallow. It was cold and pure and they wondered, for a moment, if this was what the sky tasted like. A deep chuckle drew their eyes left, to a pair of black shitkickers standing out in stark contrast to the muddy green of their lawn.

Those boots were attached to long legs encased in wet denim, a sodden House of 1000 Corpses t-shirt stretched across a thickly muscled chest. Through their watery gaze they caught a glimpse of tattoos wrapped around a tanned pair of arms, their breath catching in their chest when they couldn’t fully make out the patterns of them.

Oh god, oh god it couldn’t be. They strained to see the man’s face, but the rain was blocking out his features. Gypsy began to panic, sucking in breath after breath, hyperventilating, as if the crying hadn’t been enough. They wished a sinkhole would swallow them up even while they were grateful the rain had washed away their tears.

Gypsy was only vaguely aware of the man going to one knee beside them until he reached out. Recoiling sharply away from his touch, Gypsy went rolling through the mud. Their breathing picked up more, sucking in panicked gulps as they closed their eyes and squeezed their fists until mud squished through their fingers.

“Hey now. Gypsy. Hey, slow down your breathin’ for me. I didn’t mean ta scare you.”

He reached out again, and this time Gypsy was too tired to pull away. Exhausted, cold, with frayed emotions and their clothing stuck to their skin, they focused on the voice and tried not to fall off a cliff of blind panic.

“You can do better than that. Stop holding your breath, ya gotta breathe,” the voice insisted and they could feel their hand being placed against the center of a muscular chest so that the heartbeat thudded gently beneath their fingertips.

“Try and match your breathing to mine. Shit, I didn’t think you’d react like this to me coming out to see ya.”

They gasped, shuddered, batted weakly at the hand until they let go.

“Shit, Gypsy, I’m not gonna hurt you.”

The man’s voice slowly sunk in and with it came the realization that it wasn’t their ex. They wanted to weep all over again for the mercy of that small act. Their breathing eased, and slowly, slowly they unclenched their fists from the grass. Rogue didn’t attempt to touch them again, just heaved a sigh and flopped onto his back beside Gypsy, shoved his rain soaked hair out of his eyes and let the deluge wash over him.

“Shower broken?” he quipped.

“No.” They didn’t look at him again, couldn’t. Gypsy was betting there would be pity in his eyes, that, or he’d be eyeing them up like he was measuring them for a padded room.

“So this is for fun then?” He wiggled a little, getting comfortable, settling in like he planned to be there awhile.

“Why are you here? How did you ever find me?”

He chuckled again, turned on his side, brushed the wet grass aside so he could see them more clearly.

“You told me about this place over a bottle of Grey Goose and Brit Coms.”

A bark of laughter erupted from their throat, harsh, rough, but it was a pleasant memory and damn, they needed those. “You laughed so hard you puked.”

“Yeah, that was your fault too. Never thought those things would be remotely amusing.”

“That doesn’t explain how you were able to find it.”

“We always keep records of the towns we’ve visited and the places we’ve set up shows. It wasn’t hard to backtrack through them and figure it out.”

“Why would you go through that much effort for me?”

“Why not? You didn’t call, you didn’t write, so when Isaac told me you’d headed back here, I figured I’d come find out what happened and make sure you were okay. You said you’d never return here, so I figured something drastic had to happen to change your mind.”

“My father died.”

“Is that a good thing or a bad thing?”

“I don’t know yet.”

“Then I’ll wait ‘til you decide if you want condolences or a celebration.”

“That’s harsh. I wouldn’t…I’d never…”

“Sorry. I would though.”

“You didn’t even know my old man.”

“I was talking about mine.”

About the Author

LAYLA DORINE lives among the sprawling prairies of Midwestern America, in a house with more cats than people. She loves hiking, fishing, swimming, martial arts, camping out, photography, cooking, and dabbling with several artistic mediums. In addition, she loves to travel and visit museums, historic, and haunted places, caves, monuments, national parks and quirk spots.

Layla got hooked on writing as a child, starting with poetry and then branching out, and she hasn’t stopped writing since. Hard times, troubled times, the lives of her characters are never easy, but then what life is? The story is in the struggle, the journey, the triumphs and the falls.

She writes about artists, musicians, loners, drifters, dreamers, hippies, bikers, truckers, hunters and all the other folks that she’s met and fallen in love with over the years. Sometimes she writes urban romance and sometimes its aliens crash landing near a roadside bar. When she isn’t writing, or wandering somewhere outdoors, she can often be found curled up with a good book and a kitty on her lap.

Social Media

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100005197938547&fref=ts

Twitter: https://twitter.com/layladorine

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/layladorine/

Tumblr: https://layladorine.tumblr.com/

Author Website: layladorine13.wix.com/layladorineauthor

Author on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/9814124.Layla_Dorine

 

 

Blog Tour: Innocence & Carnality by J. Alan Veerkamp

Innocence & Carnality | J. Alan Veerkamp

BANNER FB - Innocence and Carnality.jpg

Publisher: Dreamspinner Publications

Word Count: 126,807

Genres: Steampunk

Buy Links:

Publisher: https://www.dsppublications.com/books/innocence-and-carnality-by-j-alan-veerkamp-498-b

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07N16HN1R/

Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/book/innocence-and-carnality/id1450381161

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/innocence-and-carnality-j-alan-veerkamp/1130355764

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/innocence-and-carnality

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=iAuFDwAAQBAJ

Universal buy link: books2read.com/u/49WvD0

COVER - Innocence and Carnality.jpg

Blurb

Innocence is his only currency.

The gilded cage of propriety where Nathan grew up as a member of the Deilian aristocracy became a true prison when, at fifteen, his homosexuality came to light and created a terrible scandal. His parents see only one way to preserve their reputation amongst the other noble families: fit Nathan with a chastity belt to increase his value to a potential partner and marry him off as soon as possible.

The recipient of that prize is Lord Rother Marsh Delaga III. After a hasty wedding, Rother whisks Nathan away to the strange and seductive land of Marisol, where Nathan will begin a new life, free to explore the pleasures of the marriage bed, though his life is still not his own.

But Rother’s Delaga House is a place of secrets, dangers, and depravity Nathan can scarcely comprehend. Where friends are few and peril waits around every corner, Nathan must employ all the manipulation he learned from high society, along with his talent for clockwork. Most of all, Nathan must adapt, compromise to survive, and cast off the preconceptions of his homeland.

Because only he can orchestrate his freedom, and it’ll come at a cost.

Innocence and Carnality Meme

Excerpt

“Who told you?” My mother, Lady Margaritte Valencus, huffed in disgust—or at least as much disgust as her practiced expression allowed. Perched on the settee’s edge, she sat tall with her poised back never touching the tufted, embroidered upholstery. A woman of her standing could be expected to do no less.

“Not the person who should have.”

Her lips pursed into a tiny, painted frown. “So in other words, your brothers are the culprits. Sometimes I think they delight in tormenting you, Nathan. I swear they’re like a pair of gossiping old women at times.”

My chest pinched at the news. “So it’s true.”

She paused for a moment and sighed. Having been through this herself, she must have understood my concern. “Yes. Yes, it is.”

I knew this day would eventually come, but the proof brought me to a morose silence. Amongst the elaborately decorated furniture of my mother’s salon, on the end table next to her rested a handcrafted hourglass. The elegant glass bulbs were suspended between a framework of brass and gears. All the fine sand had emptied to the bottom, marking the time left to choose my own future. I wanted to invert it, to start my chances over once again.

Mother turned to the small canvas atop the nearby easel and began dabbing a slender paintbrush to the surface. It was an affectation. The bristles were void of paint, and in my twenty years, I’d never seen her finish a single painting. The possibility of staining her sable and gold brocade gown was unthinkable. Women of Deilian lords were expected to fill their days with arts and crafts, while providing the proper trophy for their husbands.

I played along with her fiction, giving myself time to absorb my own reality. Finding the brass dial embedded in the wall along the ebony wainscoting, I gave it a slow turn. The tension of hidden cogs thrummed under my fingertips and the gaslights grew brighter, illuminating the sanguine, patterned fabric lining the walls, giving her more light to pretend to work with. In the late spring afternoon it wasn’t necessary, yet I did so out of polite habit.

“Thank you, Nathan.”

I leaned against the mantel, fingering the edge of my waistcoat. The layers were snug and tailored, the fine wool properly adorned with buttons of fine metal, befitting a young man of my status. In another hour or two, I would be expected to change into formal dining dress to eat. There were clothing standards for every aspect of our lives. Only certain hobbies were permissible, and employment outside of family investments was unacceptable for the nobility.

With little to spend my time on, I’d grown restless and found hobbies my parents frowned upon. However, if I gave them little trouble, they were content to allow me my eccentricities. How odd they must have found my love of clockwork mechanisms. The precision. The order. Given the expectations my parents laid at my feet, one might think I’d be more attuned to my future requirements. The prospect of a marriage held the hallmarks of opportunity and disaster all at once.

“Do you know who he is?”

“A business associate of your father’s. Lord Rother Marsh Delaga III from Marisol.”

“So far away?” I didn’t want to whine—I was accused of it often enough—but this house and land were all I knew. For all my complaints, I wasn’t prepared to abandon it and my family.

Mother gave me a dismissive shake of her head. “Marisol is an airship ride away. Not far at all.”

“Do you know when?”

“Lord Rother will be coming in two weeks to meet you and hopefully accept your father’s offer. I’ve made an appointment with the clothier. We want you to make a good first impression.”

Well, as if that didn’t make me feel like a commodity. “At least I’ll get to meet him first before I’m shipped off.”

Mother slapped her dry brush onto the end table in her displeasure. “Don’t be droll, Nathan. You know perfectly well how things are done.” “And what if I don’t like him? Will Father force me to go through with it?”

“Most likely. This is an important union for our family.” “He can’t do that.”

She paused for a moment for effect. “Of course he can. Under Deilian law, until you are married or turn twenty-five, your father has final say.”

Pacing in a circle, I waved my hands in the air. “Wonder of wonders…. All hail the land of Deilia.”

Her delicate snarl was sharp and potent. “Stop that. Given your… orientation, there have been pitifully few options in this area to find a suitable mate for you. You don’t remember because you were an infant, but since the plague struck, Deilia has been focused on repopulating. The Monarch demanded it. And because you are unlikely to bear children—”

I stopped and glared at her. “That’s not my fault.” Layers of ire deepened my anger. I hated when she spoke to me like a vacuous noble who’d never been taught a smidgeon of Deilian history. The mention of the Monarch in this context only made it worse. As if I could forget the day I met him and my fall from grace began.

Mother pulled a brooch from her collar. With a touch of her thumb, it spun itself out, expanding into an exquisite fan with translucent blades. Another affectation. I’d been scolded enough over the years to know she didn’t require fresh air to have an uncomfortable conversation. “No, it isn’t your fault, but it’s the situation you’ve been saddled with. It is our duty to follow the plan laid out for us.”


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About the Author

While spending years more focused on visual arts, J. Alan Veerkamp never let go of his innate passion for storytelling, wanting to write and draw comic books when he grew up. Once he discovered M/M fiction, a whole new world opened filled with possibilities.

Why couldn’t you have fantastic and dynamic sexy tales with an M/M cast? He started reading the online tales of authors like Night Tempest, Rob Colton, and Alicia Nordwell, which only fueled his need to create.

Eventually he found GayAuthors.org, and with a little coercive nudge, started sharing his tales with an unexpected level of positive response. The experience and support gave him the courage to cross his fingers and aim for the world of M/M publishing.

Born and raised in Michigan, J. Alan continues to type away, wishing it was practical to use a noisy old-fashioned keyboard that clacks with each strike, if only to annoy his loving partner and spoiled miniature dachshund.

Author Website: https://jalanveerkamp.wordpress.com

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