Tag Archives: former best friends

Release Blitz: Meet Me in the Blue by A.M. Johnson

Meet Me in the Blue | A.M. Johnson

Hemlock Harbor #1

Release Date: March 2nd, 2023

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Meet me… in the place where the sun kisses the horizon and sinks into blue shades of you and me.

Meet me there… where everything was always perfect. You and me and the damp grass at dawn and the gray dirt in the late evening rain.

Meet me where we were ourselves and not these two people who can’t even say I love you.

Meet me there and maybe we’ll remember…

We’ll remember the us we were before them, before miles, before lost hours, and you’ll ask what color the sky is, and I’ll say blue like your eyes.

And you’ll smile, and I’ll forget I ever missed you.


Luka and Rook have been best friends since they were nine years old.

Five years ago, Luka threw it all away.

When his dad’s health takes a turn for the worst, Luka must come home to say his goodbyes and mend the bridges he burned all those years ago. But coming home is harder than he imagined, and after reuniting with his family, there’s only one person he needs.


His best friend.

The one man he pushed away, the one man, no matter how hard he tried to forget, he can’t stop himself from loving.

Even if loving him means breaking his heart all over again.

MMITB Teaser 1


“Hey, Stace.” Avoiding her expectant smile, I kept my head down as I grabbed a pint of Rocky Road from the freezer.

I preferred Moose Tracks, but Rett refused to carry it. If he didn’t love my father so much, I’d think it was personal.

“I tried to get him to order it, but you know him…” Stacey cringed and narrowed her brown eyes. “He’s a stubborn asshole. Rett said…” She lowered her voice to something akin to the man himself and my lips twitched at her attempt to mimic the old bastard. “Rocky Road is a staple.”

“I suppose he’s right. Can’t argue with traditions.”

“Isn’t the customer always right?” she asked, and I set the pint on the counter.

Chuckling, I shook my head. “I don’t think Rett gives a shit.”

Stacey bit the corner of her pink-stained lip and looked over my shoulder, grinning like she had some sort of secret. Picking up the ice cream, she shoved it into a brown paper bag. “Well, I give a shit.” Her flirty smile and bold eye contact made me wish I’d skipped coming to the pharmacy in the first place. I stared at the bag on the counter instead, feeling my pulse in my fingertips as the seconds ticked by uncomfortable and loud between us. “It’s on the house,” she said, her confidence fading. “My treat.”

“Stace, I—”

“Stop being so nice all the time, Rook. Let a girl buy you a pint of ice cream.” I could hear the smile in her voice but kept my eyes down. “I insist.”

“Thanks,” I said, conceding even though I knew better.

I glanced up and found her big eyes, hopeful, staring back at me. My face heated as her triumphant grin stretched across her face.

“Anytime…” She fiddled with the small stack of flyers next to the register.

My chest ached a little, wishing I could summon some sort of attraction for her. She was sweet and conventionally attractive with a lean, athletic build. She used to be a cheerleader way back when in high school, and I remembered all the guys on my hockey team would talk about her, mostly crude locker room shit. But Stacey was just Stacey to me. Rett’s niece. Rett, who’d owned this damn pharmacy longer than I’d been alive. She could hit on me every time I walked through those front doors, which she did without regard for her own feelings, and it wouldn’t change the fact I wasn’t into her. Or anyone, really. This town was too small and too nosy, at least that’s what I’d tell myself when I got home and made dinner for one and ate this ice cream like a sad cat lady. I wasn’t sad though, and it was hard for people to understand. Especially my family. “You’re thirty-two, son. The older you get the slimmer the pickings.” And “I worry about you, worry you’re lonely in that big house of yours?” And “Stacey… she’s a sweet one.” And my personal favorite. “Son, your mother and I… we want you to know you can tell us anything. We want you to know we love you unconditionally, straight… or gay, we love you and want you to do whatever makes you happy.”

I wished it was as easy as gay or straight. What if being alone was my happily ever after? Would that be so bad?

“I heard Luka’s coming back to town,” she said, and my heart skipped at the mention of his name, pulling me from my thoughts.

“Yeah?” I swallowed past the twinge in my throat. “I saw Nora at the clinic last week, said he was coming home soon.”

“Too bad about their dad. He was a good man.”

“Is…” I corrected. “He is a good man.”

He was still alive, still breathing.

She bit the side of her cheek, her face pale. “I didn’t mean… I shouldn’t have said—”

“It’s okay, Stace.” I tried to conjure a smile on her behalf but failed. “Dr. Abrams’s prognosis isn’t a secret.”

I’d known Isaac Abrams for most of my life. He’d joined my dad’s practice when I was nine years old and was like a second father to me. I’d grown up with his family, his daughter Nora like a sister, and his son Luka used to be my best friend.

Used to be.

Luka’s smile beamed bright behind my eyes, his laugh a distant echo in my ears. It had been five years since I’d seen Luka Abrams. Five years of feeling lost without a compass.

“Is it true?” she asked.

“I’m sorry, what were you saying?”

“Dr. Abrams… he’s on hospice now?”

“Yes.” I didn’t elaborate. A man’s life, or end of life, should be his own. Not a juicy piece of small-town gossip.

“Fuck cancer,” she said, the frown on her face genuine.

Fuck cancer.

“I should get going.” I held up my bag with the ice cream inside before turning to leave. “Thanks, Stace.”

“When you see Luka, tell him to stop by. It’s been ages since he’s graced us with his presence, and I’ll never forgive him if he doesn’t at least come say hello.”

I waved over my shoulder as the damp, frigid February air bit at my cheeks. The wind blew through the open front door and chilled me to the bone. Focusing on zipping up my jacket, I tried not to think about Luka and failed. After I’d spoken to Nora the other day, his name had been on a constant loop in my head, but I thought I had a handle on it. Stace mentioning him again made the realization that he might already be at home, sitting on the couch in the living room, where we used to play Dungeons & Dragons, a reality I wasn’t sure I was ready to face. After his dad was diagnosed with liver cancer a few years ago, I’d hoped he’d move back then. He didn’t. But it wasn’t like he hadn’t made an effort to keep in touch over the years, keeping tabs on his dad’s treatment. But friendship was a funny thing, and like the miles between us, he grew more distant with every missed text, or phone call. Luka used to text or call every day when he and his boyfriend from college had broken up. They’d lived together in Portland, but after they split, instead of coming home to Hemlock Harbor, Luka moved to Los Angeles. His phone calls had always been the highlight of my day, even if he was only calling to vent about the traffic. But eventually, the daily calls turned to monthly updates, and now I was lucky if I got a Happy Birthday or a Merry Christmas. I’d tried to reach out when we all found out about his dad, but it had been clear I was the only one holding on, and after a while, the grip I had on the past hurt more than it was worth. I’d had to let go.

I didn’t want to be angry at him for shutting me out, for finding himself, finding the life he wanted far away from here, far from the small-town life he never wanted. But we’d spent almost every day together, every weekend for the better part of my adolescence, and even though we’d gone to separate colleges, we’d maintained our friendship the best we could. I’d gone to the University of Washington in Seattle for both my undergraduate and graduate degrees, which was barely over fifty miles away, and felt homesick every damn day. After graduation he’d chosen to stay in Oregon, and I’d chosen to come home and work as a certified nurse-midwife for our fathers’ clinic. I couldn’t ever imagine leaving Hemlock Harbor. This place was my home. It was as permanent as the bones under my skin. Our families were intertwined, it was hard to remember a time when I didn’t know Luka.

I didn’t know him now.

I’d thought we’d be close forever. I’d thought Luka would always be my other half. He knew me better than anyone. I’d spent more hours of my life with Luka than I could count. But something changed, and as much as I wanted to blame his move to Los Angeles, or his dad’s cancer, I wondered if it was something I did, or didn’t do. I was never as bright as Luka, as audacious. When he walked into a room everyone noticed. The thought of seeing him again, after all these years, had my stomach in knots. I wanted everything to be the same while wanting to hold on to my anger too. But Dr. Abrams was dying, and I didn’t think it mattered how I felt about being left behind in Luka’s wake.

Once I was in my car, I cranked up the heater and turned onto the main road. The sun had started to set, the overcast sky nothing new, but today the clouds, and their gray fingers, dove into the pines, made everything seem heavier. I glanced at the clock on the car stereo and found myself turning right on Mill Creek Road instead of left toward my house. It took ten minutes, and I was afraid I’d miss it as I parked my car in front of my childhood home. I stepped out onto the wet street, the rain, more of an icy mist, clung to the fabric of my jacket. The lights were off inside my parents’ house, but the Abrams’s front window was lit with a warm yellow glow. I bypassed their front door and headed down the familiar path between the two houses, walking faster with each passing second, until I was under the shade of the trees. The ice cream on my front seat forgotten and probably starting to melt. Each breath, each beat of my heart, it was like I could feel him there waiting, and as I broke through to the small clearing, I saw him.

A man I didn’t recognize stood with his back to me, his eyes on the sky. The tattoos peeking out from under his damp cotton t-shirt were new, his bleach-blond hair was new too. My heart drummed inside my chest, but I was surprised to find it wasn’t in anger, but relief. So much relief.

“Meet me in the blue,” I said. “I’ll always be here.”

MMITB Teaser 3

About the Author


Amanda is an award winning and best selling author of LGBTQIA and contemporary romance and fiction. She lives in Utah with her family where she moonlights as a nurse on the weekends and hikes in the mountains as much as possible.

If she’s not busy with her three munchkins, you’ll find her buried in a book or behind the keyboard where she explores the human experience through the written word, exploring all spectrums and genres.

She’s obsessed with all things Hockey, Austen, and Oreos, and loves to connect with readers!

Stay up to date by signing up for her newsletter here: http://bit.ly/NewsLetterAMJBooks

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To celebrate this exciting new release, Amanda is giving away the winner’s choice of the Illustrated or Amazon Paperback copy of Meet Me In The Blue

A Rafflecopter Giveaway


MMITB Live 2

Release Blitz: Bring Me Home by Nicola Haken

Bring Me Home | Nicola Haken

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Release Date: October 11th, 2021

Cover Design: Golden Czermak at FuriousFotog

Universal Link: https://bit.ly/3alAccc

Add to Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/58914491-bring-me-home


Bring Me Home Ebook Cover


Hugo Hayes has it all; the voice, the money, the looks. Adored by fans all over the world, there’s nothing more he could ever wish for. Or so it appears. But no one sees what happens off stage. Nobody knows where he came from, what he goes through, where he’s heading…

Except the girl he left behind. She’ll know. She always did.

Helen Jenkins is starting over. Back on the diet and heading for a career change, it’s time to stop wallowing in the past and give up missing the best friend who traded her in for fame and glory eight years ago. Harder than it sounds when his image and voice seem to follow her wherever she goes…

Harder still when he appears at her front door one rainy spring night.

Hugo is falling. After all these years, will Helen still be prepared to catch him before the inevitable crash? Or has he lost the only home he’s ever known, forever?

Bring Me Home Teaser 1


We had to wait for the cameras to capture an appropriate amount of applause before someone shouted, “Cut!” and when they did, I was outta that chair before the word had finished leaving their mouth. I stormed from the set, ripping the mic pack from my back, eyes focused on my target.


He raised his hands in a protective stance, his mouth melting into an apologetic frown.

“Don’t ever do that to me again,” I barked, shoving the mic pack into his chest. I didn’t wait around to listen to his excuses or apologies. I needed out. Out of the studio, out of the heat, the whole fucking building. I barged past crew members, blustered through mazes of corridors lined with framed photos of stars from the various TV shows produced here, until I found a set of exit doors.

The rush of air smacking me in the face as I pushed open the double doors felt like breaking the surface of the ocean. Finally, I could breathe again, after being pinned under water for almost an hour, splashing, screaming, begging, too far from the shore for anyone to notice. Outside, I leaned back against a wall, closed my eyes. I had about a minute before hyperventilation set in and I lost control of my senses.

Breathe,I told myself. One, two, three, four…hold… I inhaled slowly, focused on my diaphragm, the vision of it expanding a little more with every breath. One, two, three, four… Box breathing, a therapist had called it back in my high school days. Belly breathing, said another. Sometimes it worked, if I noticed myself slipping in time. Other times, the anxiety flourished so quickly it retained all the power, leaving me helpless. Scared.

“There you are.” I was vaguely aware of Helen’s voice, but I couldn’t distract myself enough to focus on it. “Hugo?”

One, two, three, four…

“It’s okay, Hugo. I’m right here.”

I heard her footsteps come closer. It made my heart rate spike, the nerves under my skin feel like barbed wire. No. Not Helen. If I couldn’t bear Helen’s touch…where did that leave me?

Alone. Forever.

One, two, three, four…

“It’ll be over soon,” Helen whispered, cupping my cheek.

I felt the muscles freeze inside my body. Nausea tore through my stomach. Irritation tightened my lips. “Get off,” I mouthed, teeth gritted. I felt like a bastard, a useless and selfish motherfucker, but I couldn’t stand it. Her skin on my skin. The sound of her breath. “I’m sorry,” I choked out, because I was. Truly fucking sorry. I lovedher…but I couldn’t be near her, couldn’t even look at her. Not yet.

“It’s okay, it’s okay,” she said softly, footsteps retreating. She understood. She fucking understood.

Why?Why was she still here? She deserved better than this.

The end befell eventually. Always did. After what could’ve been several minutes or an hour, a sense of calm encircled me, floated from above like weightless chiffon and moulded itself to my body. Breathing became natural again. I could smell the brine from the canal that ran the length of the studios and beyond. I could hear Helen…and appreciate her.

My eyes peeled open. “Hey.”

She smiled, though her eyes looked heavy. Sad. “Hey.”

Bring Me Home Collage

About The Author

Born in Manchester, England, Nicola Haken is an author of multiple genre-hopping romance novels, including Bring Me Home, Broken, and Goodbye Kate.

She lives in Rochdale with her husband, four children, and a menagerie of pets, is addicted to Pepsi Max and chicken nuggets, and wishes Harry Styles was her best friend. Like one of her characters, Hugo Hayes, Nicola is autistic, and has battled with her mental health her entire life – winning every time…eventually. With two of her kids also on the spectrum, life can get pretty…interesting!

When she’s not locked in her office playing with her imaginary friends, she can usually be found reading, binge-watching boxsets, or belting out great songs and pretending she doesn’t sound like a cat in distress.

Oh, and if the kids ever ask, she moonlights as the Pink Power Ranger while they’re sleeping…

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Website: https://www.nicolahaken.co.uk

Bring Me Home Available Now

Hugo and Helen’s journey touched my soul

58914491._SY475_Bring Me Home by Nicola Haken

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Nicola Haken has a small catalogue of books but every one of them has touched me deep in my soul.

Bring Me Home is no exception, in fact it’s one of the rawest in terms of how mental illness can distort your world view and make you feel like you’re worthless even when you’re a mega famous rock star.

Hugo broke my heart, his autism adds another dimension to his mental health issues but it’s never made to be a defining issue.

His autism isn’t what causes Hugo’s life to start collapsing around him, it’s the depression he’s never really found a way to handle – not since he left his best friend Helen behind eight years ago that is.

Helen is one of life’s rocks. She’s grounded, although she’s not without issues herself, and she’s tried to put the past behind her. After losing her mother, she’s facing life truly on her own and forging ahead with a determination that is inspiring. She’s strong, but ultimately flawed like all of us.

This book tells a story which takes the reader on a journey through forgiveness, through understanding and reconnecting. It walks the path of two best friends who have always been everything to each other and perhaps more.

It pulls no punches when it deals with the insidious way that depression and mental health issues can distort your world view until there seems to be no way forward.

But it is also filled with joy, with hope, with understanding and with people who will provide the foundations on which a new path can be built. There is no cure for depression or autism or mental health dysfunctionality.

There is, however, structured methods for how to deal with it, there’s support networks, medication which can help to provide an even keel. There’s love, so much love, more than Hugo realised he was surrounded by.

Phoebe, Hugo’s superb therapist, describes his brain as a computer with a virus and herself and his IT gal, there to help him reboot his neurons and put them back in the right place. I thought this absolutely nailed it perfectly.

It helps Hugo understand that he has done nothing wrong. It’s not a choice he made, it’s a hand he’s been dealt and she’s there to provide him with all the support to find the right way to play it.

I loved her almost as much as I loved Helen. Ezra, Hugo’s bodyguard, is also a fabulous person, he’s there in the background, a sort of older brother/father figure. Drew, his manager, while a flawed character capable of making mistakes, is also doing everything he does from a place of love. Their relationship is turbulent but ultimately supportive.

And Chrissie, someone who starts as a sort of throwaway figure, who Helen isn’t sure she’s even really friends with, provides not only some levity to the narrative but support for Helen and is, without any doubt, a best friend, someone she can turn to at the darkest times.

I think what I loved the most about this book is that the falling in love bit was so natural. Hugo and Helen are each other’s forever and it’s been clear from the time they met, aged just four. The things which separated them on the way, only served to make them stronger.

Be aware of the warnings. This book covers heavy subjects, there are triggers for depression, for drug use (prescription not illegal), for desperate measures when all seems lost, for inpatient treatment at a clinic.

Ultimately, though, it’s a beautiful story about love, about soulmates, about walking a path together in the best way you can. It’s an authentic journey, told with real voices and I loved it.

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

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