Tag Archives: Holiday

A wonderful festive catch-up with Ryker and Jacob

Christmas Lights 600 (1)Christmas Lights, An Owatonna U Christmas Novella by R.J. Scott & V.L. Locey

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I I got all teary with this one.

RJ and VL certainly know how to pile on the festive cheer with this gorgeously sweet novella which sees Ryker and Jacob having to face up to some harsh realities before all becomes well in the end.

I loved every bit of this, the humour is there with all their fellow ice hockey players and their partners, there’s some lovely family interludes and the ending just put a huge big smile on my face.

Can’t wait for Henry’s book to come out.

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

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New Release Blitz: A Husband For Santa by Doreen Heron

A Husband for Santa | Doreen Heron

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Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: December 23, 2019

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 20600

Genre: Holiday, LGBT, Folklore, magic, elves, Christmas, romance, fantasy

Buy Links:

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Blurb

Father Christmas knows his time delivering presents is coming to an end, and his son is more than ready to take his place at the helm of the sleigh. But family tradition stands in Turk’s way.

He must find a Mrs. Claus to help share the burden. Unfortunately for tradition, he would rather a husband than a wife, and he doesn’t have time to meet anyone anyway.

At the same time, Christmasologist and PhD candidate Symeon Golightly finds himself sad and alone over the holidays.

Maybe a chance encounter and a Christmas wish will bring them together.

Excerpt

A Husband for Santa
Doreen Heron © 2019
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One
“Prepare the landing bay to receive the sleigh. I repeat, prepare the landing bay to receive the sleigh. We expect the mission to be terminated in fifteen minutes. I repeat, the sleigh is fifteen minutes away.”

The elves began to scramble, thousands of them getting to their feet and running from dormitories and lounges, through the glistening silver ice corridors and into the straw-lined landing bay. With nimble fingers, trained through years of constructing toys and preparing lists, they padded out stables with fresh straw and hay. They filled troughs with water and bowls with cereals and carrots. They swept the solid snow that had drifted in when the sleigh left and dried up the pools of water where the snow had warmed enough to melt. The elf children, too young to have any real responsibilities yet but old enough to graduate over the year and take on jobs for the following Christmas, took a break from observing and making notes and leapt to the gas lamps, lighting them to give the reindeer a cozy environment to come home to.

“We expect the mission to be terminated in ten minutes. I repeat, the sleigh is ten minutes away.”

Some of the older elves, particularly those celebrating their final Christmases, jumped as Turk’s voice boomed over the loudspeaker. They hadn’t enjoyed this particular “innovation” and much preferred when his father had been in training and instead came to each of them in turn to make the announcements personally. They were glad to be retiring to let the younger generations—who didn’t seem to be quite as attached to the traditional ways—take the reins. En masse, the elves retreated to the back of the room, where they surveyed their work. It looked nice. Cozy. They wanted nothing more than for the reindeer to be able to rest as soon as they arrived home, and for Father Christmas himself to feel the wave of relaxation hit him after finishing his deliveries for another year. The younger generations waited with bated breath as Inger—the oldest elf and Chieftain of their little tribe—surveyed the room. She pointed to a corner where one last errant cobweb was stubbornly clinging to a beam, and one of the children leapt to a broom and scurried to clear it away.

“We expect the mission to be terminated in five minutes. I repeat, the sleigh is five minutes away.”

Inger surveyed the room again and smiled as she was satisfied with what she saw. Her team had served her well, this final Christmas. She nodded to the corner, where an elf stood alone. He was easily two heads taller than the others, almost the size of one of the human children for whom they made presents and was well muscled. At Inger’s nod, he turned to the wheel at his side and began to crank it. A creaking sound boomed from the timber roof, as it began to part. At once, the elderly elves started their chant, an ancient elven magic to protect the stable against the elements. The snow itself obeyed them, falling to settle on the roof and avoiding the hole that was emerging. When it was wide enough for the sleigh to fit, the muscled elf stopped cranking. But the elderly continued to sing, keeping the heat generated by the gas lamps inside the room, and keeping out the snow that was falling so violently.

“The sleigh has been sighted over the Crystalline Falls. I am on my way. I repeat, Turk is en route.”

The elderly elves rankled at the announcement. Never before had a Santa-in-Training ever felt the need to oversee the landing. It had always been a privilege afforded to the elves as a reward for their hard work. But times were changing, and all new Father Christmases had to put their own mark on the role.

Turk’s mark, it seemed to the elves, was micromanagement.

But they continued to chant, regardless. One slip in their song and winter would get into the landing bay, undoing all their work and discomforting Father Christmas and his eight faithful deer who had fit an entire year of work into a single night. And not one of them was prepared to let that happen.

The chanting could be heard across the palace. Turk emerged from the control room and stopped for a second to listen.

The sound of the elves was the sound of his life. Of hours waiting for his father to come home from work and tell stories of all the children to whom he had delivered gifts. Of those he thought Turk might like to be friends with if it were ever possible to leave Polynya. Those who had grown older and who chose not to believe in him anymore, just because their parents had chosen not to believe. Those who ignored all the evidence right in front of them that proved he existed, and instead put blind faith in parents who had no evidence other than what their parents had told them, who relied only on what their parents had told them before. Those were the stories that saddened Turk the most, particularly when he entered his teenage years and the children who he had considered peers and friends stopped believing.

They no longer wanted him to exist.

It was a happy song and a sad song. A song of hope and joy and obligation and loss. And in that moment, as he finally allowed himself a break in his work to take stock, he felt the loss of his own father about to retire and the joy of his own life about to begin.

He took a deep breath to steel himself. He couldn’t allow the elves to see his moment of weakness. Yes, they may have raised him and bathed him and changed his diapers, but as of the moment his father touched down in the sleigh, he was Father Christmas, and he had to lead them as a general leads his troops.

He had a family legacy to live up to.

He set his jaw, strong and stubbled, and took a moment to wipe the tears from his icy blue eyes. He pulled himself upright, towering over the elves at six feet and two inches and straightened his back. He’d read a book that said good posture commanded respected, and he needed his elves to respect him.

The echo of his black leather jackboots clattered through the ice corridors as he strode to the landing bay. Another tip from his book. Walk with a heavy step and make your presence known before you arrive so people know you’re there. He wasn’t entirely sure if that one applied to working from his own home, but he figured the author knew what he was talking about and was quite determined to follow all the advice on offer.

The torches lining the walls lit as he approached and extinguished as he walked by—lit long enough so that he could see, but not so long that they would begin to melt the walls. He moved deftly through the maze-like corridors and hallways, following the shortcut he’d figured out when he was a child and wanted to trick the elves into thinking his magic had developed. The truth was it would have been easier for him to teleport into the Landing Bay, but that didn’t quite make as much of an impact on the sound of his boots on the ice floors.

And it was all about the impact.

The elves scrambled out of the way as the two solid pine doors to the landing bay swung open, and Turk strode in. Quickly, they pulled themselves back together and stood to attention as he had taught them. The elderly elves objected to this, finding the position highly uncomfortable, and their hearts were glad they were required to carry on chanting.

“At ease,” he commanded, and the elves moved fluidly into position. Even the children, keen to impress their future boss, joined in and tried hard not to giggle as Turk walked back and forth past them, looking them over. “You are well presented, in spite of tonight’s working conditions. I’m glad I’m finally getting through to you.”

Inger chaffed at his words and closed her eyes to drown out what he was saying so she could focus on the ancient and magical words of her people.

“The loading bay is acceptable,” he continued, striding around the bay and peering into each hay-filled stall. “I feel we will have much work to do over the coming year to modernize this space and maximize efficiency, but that will come on December 26. For now, this is acceptable.”

A single snowflake fell through the opening in the roof as Inger let her guard slip. The Landing Bay had never been merely “acceptable” on her watch. Nor on her mother’s. Nor on her grandmother’s. She and the Matriarchs took their role seriously, and they worked hard to ensure that everything was done to perfection. Thankfully, the flake melted long before it was noticed by anyone other than her. She felt it fall as she felt her concentration lapse, and she certainly wouldn’t allow herself to do anything that he would merely consider to be “acceptable.”

She was so looking forward to retirement.

She felt for her daughter, who would need to take the reins and put up with Turk’s peculiar brand of nonsense.

A roar of wind and snow occurred overhead, and the children became antsy in anticipation of what was about to happen. Turk looked up and nodded, happy the elements were being kept out of the landing bay and satisfied the roof was open enough to allow the sleigh in so it could land. He squinted and saw a very faint red light in the distance.

“Showtime, ladies and gentlemen,” he said. The elves scrambled once again, lining up along the walls and the stall doors, leaving as much floor space as possible free for the sleigh to come in and land. While still chanting, the elderly elves walked to the far north wall, against which was set a raised platform. They walked up onto the platform and stood, choirlike, continuing their chant for the last few moments of their careers.

They were ready.

Turk joined them on the stage, running his hand through his dirty blond hair and smoothing down his wine-red suit. This was his moment. The moment he had spent his whole life preparing for. From the moment his father landed the sleigh, he would take charge, and the next Christmas would be his. His book had said to “make sure one presents oneself properly” from the very beginning of the job.

He was ready.

The red pinpoint of light grew bigger and bigger as the distant sound of sleigh bells began to chime. Turk took a deep breath and shifted his weight from foot to foot. He would never admit he was nervous and was almost positive the churning in his stomach was caused by the questionable reindeer meat in the curry which his mother had served the night before. But as he straightened his red tie for the fifth time that minute, the elves could see he was nervous. A couple of the children sniggered and pointed, but the others had sympathy for him. They knew his dad was a popular Father Christmas, and so he had a lot to live up to.

And if some of them were honest with themselves, they weren’t sure he would.

The sound of the sleigh bells grew louder and louder until finally the sleigh itself hovered overhead. The deer were well rehearsed by now and hovered in place until they were given the order to descend. It was a silent command, given by a Father Christmas who had spent two centuries working with each family line. He allowed for a delicate lowering of deer and sleigh alike until its wooden rails and thirty-two hooves set down on the landing bay’s tiled floor. At once, the elves scrambled into action and the bay became a hive of interaction. The elves turned the wheel, and the roof closed. The elves standing by the stall gates unlatched them, and then headed to their own deer, unhooking them and leading them over to their stall. First Rudolph, then Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen, and so on until all nine were safely locked away and gratefully lapping their water.

As they were working hurriedly, Inger and the other elderly elves made their way to the sleigh and helped Father Christmas. He was wobbly on his feet as he stood but was able to make his way down to the landing bay floor entirely unaided.

“Turk,” he called, his voice booming through the Bay. “Please see to it that the sack is returned to its rightful spot.”

“Of course, Papa,” Turk replied. He turned to an elf, the only elf currently unemployed, and gave the command. “You heard him. Take the sack to the—”

“No, Turk.” His father stopped by the pine doors. “I asked you to please take the sack and put it away.”

“But Papa. This is what the elves are—”

“The elves are not your slaves, Turk. They work for the children, not for you. Now, please put the sack away and then meet me in the Lounge.”

“The Debriefing Room,” Turk corrected his father under his breath as he made his way to the sleigh and pulled the large, empty, hessian sack from the back seat. It looked so different with the enchantments faded and the magic gone for another year. Now, it was loose and malleable and normal.

He didn’t like it.

Carefully, he laid it out on the floor, careful to ensure no elf trampled over it and folded it in half, and then half again, and then half again. There was no ceremony to the sack any more, and that made him a little sad. He very much enjoyed being a child and watching his father and Inger fold it carefully and then carry it solemnly to its room to be put away. He looked at Inger, who was observing him carefully, and was certain he saw a tear in her holly-green eye. It was a shame, he thought, that she so disliked him that she refused to even help him with the sack ceremony.

“At least there will be new Elders next year,” he mused, picking up the sack and carefully making his way out of the landing bay along the twisting corridors toward the Toy Room. “Maybe the new Matriarch will want to do the ceremony with me.” The Toy Room doors slid open, and he walked amongst the empty shelves to the illuminated glass box where the sack resided during the off-season. Gently, he opened the box and placed the sack inside. As it hit the bottom of the glass, it began to shine in gentle hues of red and green and gold, its magic immediately beginning to replenish and rejuvenate. “I’ll see you next year,” Turk whispered to it before he turned around and tiptoed to the Debriefing Room.

He saw no need to announce his presence to his own father.

Meet the Author

Doreen Heron is a writer who is finally living her dream in Cornwall, England. She is lucky to live in the county she loves, and to be using her writing to entertain her readers.

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New Release Blitz: Stick To The Script by Lane Hayes

Stick to the Script | Lane Hayes

Ace’s Wild #13

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Release Date: Dec. 17, 2019

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 31k

Universal Link: https://books2read.com/SticktotheScript

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Blurb

Jamie is a wedding photographer in need of a break, and a sexy freelance assignment on the East Coast sounds like an intriguing getaway. He makes his flight to Vintage Ridge just before an epic storm wreaks havoc on holiday travel.

But when his friend is delayed, Jamie finds himself alone at the bed-and-breakfast for the night with the owners’ son…a hunky contractor with a wicked smile and a commanding presence. Not a problem. Jamie can handle light conversation with a ruggedly handsome man for a few hours. Maybe. If all else fails, he can read the script.

Wyatt loves remodeling old homes like his parents’ B and B. Spending an evening entertaining their guest while he finishes up his project doesn’t seem like a big deal, but Wyatt can tell there’s something special about the nervous younger man.

He suggests reading the racy script that accompanies Jamie’s assignment to get his mind off the weather, but neither is prepared for what happens next. Their explosive attraction encourages them to bend the rules and stick to their own script…together.

PLEASE NOTE: For the first 90 days of this title’s publication, all sales and page reads will be donated to PFLAG.

Excerpt

“Hmm. How do you begin?” I asked.

“Like I said, this is the lead-in scene. I’ll probably set it in front of the fireplace. Those windows provide great natural light, and if it’s cloudy tomorrow that’s even better.”

“Are they going to sit or stand?”

James jumped up abruptly and moved behind me with his hands spread like he was framing a scene. “Stand, definitely. I’ll want the chairs out of the way.”

I set my wineglass down then pushed the chairs and the small table aside for him. “How’s that?”

“Good. That should work. Would you mind being a stand-in for a second?” He motioned for me to step toward the fireplace. “Move to your right. A little more. That’s perfect. Damien is muscular like you. He’ll probably wear jeans and a T-shirt.”

“I can take my sweater off,” I suggested.

“That’s not necessary. I can—”

I slipped the garment over my head and tossed it over the back of the chair. “Does this help?”

James licked his lips and stared at my chest for a long moment without speaking. “Um…yes. Could you put your hand on the mantel?”

I struck a casual pose. “Like this?”

He closed the space between us and gently adjusted my elbow. “Yes.”

“Where will Mark be?” I asked softly.

His Adam’s apple slid theatrically in his throat as he inched closer. “Here.”

The scene was set. Two long-term lovers had agreed to something they hoped would strengthen their bond. They’d introduced a new set of rules with a twist.

I didn’t give a fuck about Damien and Mark, but James fascinated me. His quirky intensity appealed to me on a level I didn’t really understand. Or maybe it was the implied element of danger. A sexy stranger didn’t turn up on my doorstep in a storm every day. This felt bigger than us somehow. Like an opportunity we were supposed to take. And the hungry look in his eyes and the furtive glance at my crotch made it clear he felt this too.

“Then what happens?”

He cleared his throat before studying the page again. “I’ll take a few pics to show Damien, um…taking control.”

“How do you show that without words?”

“It’s in the look. I might ask Damien to raise his hand, like he’s beckoning Mark closer.”

“Like this?” I hooked my finger, pleased when James closed the distance until we stood toe to toe.

“Yes. I’ll probably take a few photos of him unbuttoning Mark’s shirt and…”

“Like this?” I held his gaze as I undid the first few buttons on his oxford shirt.

Okay, I’d officially crossed a line. This was where he’d tell me to fuck off and back the hell up. I didn’t think he would, though. He was wound so tight with need, he practically vibrated. The urge to pull him against me and stick my tongue down his throat was strong. But he had to give me the reins. I held my breath and waited for him to decide what came next.

James nodded. “Y-yes. But then he stops.”

I stopped. I raised my hands, noting his unsteady breath when he opened his mouth and closed it…twice.

“Good call. If it were me, I’d tell him to undress himself. Slowly,” I said in a huskier than normal voice.

“You would?”

“Yeah. It’s a balance of power. It’s given freely…with trust. He wants to please his lover and himself at the same time. Am I right?”

He licked his lips. “Yes. That’s it. He’ll tell him to take his clothes off. One piece at a time. He’ll demand it.”

I pulled the script from his hands, fixing him with a no-nonsense look before inclining my head meaningfully. “Unbutton your shirt, James.”

“Me? What are you—what are we doing?”

“What do you want to do?” I countered. “Be honest.”

“I…I…uh.”

“Okay. I’ll go first.” I dropped the script on the side table, then brushed my thumb over his stubbled chin. “I want you.”

“But you don’t know me.”

I flashed a pirate’s smile. “You’re right. That doesn’t change anything.”

About The Series

Stick to the Script is part of a multi-author series of books that take place in the same fictional town. Each story can be read in any order. The connecting element in the Ace’s Wild series is an adult store owned by Ace and Wilder.

The main characters from each book will make at least one visit to Ace’s Wild, where they’ll buy a toy to use in their story! The only characters who crossover to each book are Ace and Wilder.

And with various heat levels, there’s sure to be something for everyone!

Find Out More: Ace’s Wild Series

 

Meet the Author

Lane Hayes is grateful to finally be doing what she loves best. Writing full-time! It’s no secret Lane loves a good romance novel.

An avid reader from an early age, she has always been drawn to well-told love story with beautifully written characters. These days she prefers the leading roles to both be men. Lane discovered the M/M genre a few years ago and was instantly hooked.

Her debut novel was a 2013 Rainbow Award finalist and subsequent books have received Honorable Mentions, and were winners in the 2016, 2017, and 2018-2019 Rainbow Awards. She loves red wine, chocolate and travel (in no particular order).

Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband in a newly empty nest.

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New Release Blitz: Pattern For An Angel by CJane Elliott

Pattern for an Angel | CJane Elliott

Release Date: December 1, 2019

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Length: 17,150

Buy Link: Amazon

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Blurb

Can an angel gown for a little boy let a single dad and a drag queen stitch together a new pattern for love?

Hospice nurse Gabe Martin is bisexual but doesn’t have time for love—his main priority is raising Ian, his adopted five-year-old son. Ian loves wearing dresses at home and wants an angel gown for his kindergarten holiday pageant.

When Gabe visits a sewing store to get help with Ian’s costume, he’s assisted by a bewitching employee named Loren who opens up Gabe’s focused world.

Drag queen Loren Schuster likes playing with gender norms and wearing skirts and dresses in everyday life. A bad breakup killed his interest in serious relationships, but he reconsiders that stance when gorgeous single dad Gabe walks into the shop.

Loren helps young Ian see it’s okay to be himself, and together, Loren and Gabe create a new pattern for a family full of love.

Excerpt

Oh well, you win some, you lose some, Loren thought after he rang up her purchase. As he was replacing the purple-blue material on the shelf, the bell to the shop door tinkled. The store had been crazy busy, which was to be expected for the Friday after Thanksgiving. He turned. Now there’s someone I’d love to win.

The guy coming in the door was seriously hot—dark and lanky with a mouth made for kissing. He was being steered along by a gal, but they were enough alike to be siblings. Loren hoped. His mouth twitched at the expression on the guy’s face and his wide eyes. Safe to assume he’d never been in a sewing shop before.

Loren stepped out from behind the counter and remembered that he was wearing one of his favorite skirts when the guy’s gaze dropped. He braced himself for some negative reaction and was floored when the guy smiled happily and nudged his companion. She brightened.

“Oh, you’re perfect,” she exclaimed.

“I am? I mean, of course I am, but why?”

“We’re looking for a way to sew an angel dress for a little boy.”

“Aww. That’s wonderful.” Loren waited for Hot Guy to say something, but his smile was more than enough. “Do you have the pattern?”

“Oh. Yeah.” Hot Guy had a deep voice. Lovely. He got the pattern out of his bag and handed it over.

“Hmm. Yes.” Loren inspected it and nodded sagely. “This seems straightforward enough.”

“It does?” Hot Guy was even hotter with that hopeful expression.

The truth was, Loren was talking out of his ass. Mia was the expert, and this was her store. Loren enjoyed being around the fabrics and different materials, the buttons and the lace, because he loved playing dress up. But you could put what he knew about sewing into one thimble. However, Hot Guy and his girlfriend/partner/sister didn’t need to know that.

“The problem is,” the gal said, “neither of us know fuck-all about sewing. I still can’t believe Ian’s kindergarten expects the parents to sew these costumes. I mean, are we in the 1950s or what?”

“So this is for your little brother?” Loren asked.

“My son,” the guy said.

Huh. He didn’t look old enough to have a kindergarten-aged child. Bummer that Hot Guy was apparently married or whatever. But that was the story of Loren’s life.

Then the gal piped up. “Gabe adopted him last year. He’s a great kid.”

Sounded like they weren’t together if only Gabe adopted this kid. “Great. So you’re Gabe, and you’re…?”

“Nita. We’re sister and brother. Gabe’s a single dad.” Nita cut a significant glance at Gabe, who frowned back. Loren could relate. Sisters always loved to meddle in their siblings’ love lives.

“Hi, Gabe and Nita. I’m Loren. I’m sure we can help you figure out the sewing part. Let’s start with material.” Loren’s favorite. White satin was way more fun than drab paisley.

Ten minutes later, after a delicious wallow in all the permutations of white satin, they had the fabric. Gabe hadn’t offered many opinions about which material but had seemed amused by Loren’s and Nita’s many exclamations.

But when Loren confronted the rest of the pattern instructions, his head spun. Mia was usually here and helped folks with deciphering the patterns. Loren could only guess what some of it meant but did his best to pick out thread and other needed parts and assembled them on the counter.

“Well. This is everything.” Loren hoped. He started to ring up the items.

“Everything but a sewing machine. What do we do about that?” Nita asked.

“You can rent them. This seems a simple enough pattern.” Panic rose in their faces, and Loren quickly added, “Or, better yet, you can hire someone to sew the costume.”

“Could you?” Gabe asked, shooting a sudden intense glance in his direction.

Damn. Of course he could not. But something made Loren say, “Why, I’d love to!”

Life was getting interesting. Even if Loren had to learn to sew. By tomorrow. How hard could it be?

Meet the Author

After years of hearing characters chatting away in her head, CJane Elliott finally decided to put them on paper and hasn’t looked back since.

A psychotherapist by training, CJane is an award-winning author whose sexy, passionate stories explore the human psyche. CJane has traveled all over North America for work and her characters are travelers, too, traveling down into their own depths to find what they need to get to the happy ending.

CJane is bisexual and an ardent supporter of LGBTQ equality. In her spare time, CJane can be found dancing, listening to music, or watching old movies. Her family supports her writing habit by staying out of the way when they see her hunched over, staring intensely at her laptop.

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Audio Release Blitz: Leaning Into A Wish by Lane Hayes & Nick J. Russo

Leaning Into a Wish | Lane Hayes

Leaning Into #5

Original Release Date: November 22, 2017

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 3 Hours, 29 Minutes

Narrator: Nick J. Russo

Genre: Romance, Holiday, Bisexual, Humor, Winery, Working Relationship

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Synopsis

Ryan Haskell loves everything about the wine business. He’s fortunate to work at one of the most prestigious wineries in Napa Valley doing something he enjoys with the people who are like family to him.

But he could do without the good-natured intern slash former jock with the wicked grin who always seems to be in the way. Ryan isn’t sure why the new guy is under his skin when everyone else loves him. Thankfully he’ll be gone after the holidays.

Danny Meyers can’t believe his luck when he lands an internship at Conrad Winery. It’s the perfect temporary gig to wrap up his graduate studies. He’s left his dreams of tennis stardom on the court to focus on a new career and a new life.

However, he didn’t count on the spark of attraction he feels for his prickly co-worker. When their tentative friendship blossoms into something more than either man counted on, they may have to change direction and lean into a holiday wish.

Excerpt

A vacuum-like static rang in my ears. It wasn’t until Danny nudged my arm that the typical raucous bar noises filtered through again. And when he scooted his barstool back a foot or two and raised his hand to flag down a server, everything seemed to return to normal. Sort of.

“Gin and tonic for my friend and I’ll have another martini, please. Thanks.” Danny tipped back the last of his drink then handed it over before twisting to face me. “So other than being out twenty-five bucks and possibly having an awkward conversation at work on Monday, that didn’t go so bad.”

“I—I don’t get it. What just happened?”

“We agreed to let Geordie win the bet, remember?”

“Sure, but how did I get stuck here with you?”

Danny snorted. “We’ve already established that you like me. Stop being an uptight fuddy-duddy.”

“A fuddy—? You’re…” I gritted my teeth and tried to think of a stinging insult to fit the situation. “Annoying.”

Lame. And the “That’s the best you’ve got?” twinkle in Danny’s eye told me he agreed with me. I was about to let him have it when the waiter stopped to deliver our drinks. When we were alone again, I leaned into him and kicked his shin for good measure.

“Ow. Relax, Ry. I still want to kiss you, you know.” He popped the speared olive from his martini into his mouth. “With tongue.”

“You’re reading way too much into a stick of spearmint gum, honey. Don’t flatter yourself. It was a joke,” I huffed derisively.

“It doesn’t have to be.”

“Are you fucking nuts? I’m not kissing you,” I announced primly.

“You want to though. Admit it,” he teased.

I blew out an exaggerated breath, sucked down half my cocktail, and slid off my barstool. “I’m outta here. See you Monday.”

Danny grabbed my belt loop and yanked me to his side. “You didn’t let me finish. I was about to say…”

“Yes?” I prompted with a rolling hand gesture.

“I want it too.”

We stared at each other for a heated moment. I had no clue what he was thinking, but it seemed weird to ask for clarification. When the growing tension went on a beat too long, I wanted out. “See ya, Danny boy.”

I pushed my way through the crowd and gulped for air when I finally reached the sidewalk. I didn’t dare stop to enjoy the refreshing autumn breeze. If I wanted to avoid any further confrontation, I had to boogie. Danny was the type of guy who liked having the last word, and that wasn’t happening on my watch. I fished my keys from my pocket and power-walked toward the parking lot behind the bar.

“Ryan!”

I ignored him and picked up my pace. I spotted my car and clicked my fob to unlock the door. Danny called my name again. I could tell from the sound of his footsteps behind me that he was closing in quickly. I had to hurry or—

Too late. A hand on my elbow yanked me sideways.

“What the fuck is your problem?” I fumed, pushing his chest to no avail.

He moved into my space until his nose was less than an inch from mine. He was too big and imposing, and the look in his eyes was straight-up dangerous.

My dick twitched in my jeans. Of course it did. I had a bad habit of coveting what I couldn’t have and getting turned on by the chase. My past was littered with embarrassing short-term affairs or crushes on guys like Wes and Finn. Men I admired but never had a real shot with. I didn’t want to add Danny to that list because against my better judgment…I liked him. Really liked him.

Meet the Author

Lane Hayes is grateful to finally be doing what she loves best. Writing full-time! It’s no secret Lane loves a good romance novel. An avid reader from an early age, she has always been drawn to well-told love story with beautifully written characters. These days she prefers the leading roles to both be men.

Lane discovered the M/M genre a few years ago and was instantly hooked. Her debut novel was a 2013 Rainbow Award finalist and subsequent books have received Honorable Mentions, and were winners in the 2016 Rainbow Awards. She loves red wine, chocolate and travel (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband in a newly empty nest.

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Meet the Narrator

Nick is an award-winning narrator with a fan following for his work in fiction, specifically in the romance genre. His performances in two of Amy Lane’s books, Beneath the Stain and Christmas Kitsch, made him the recipient of Sinfully M/M Book Review’s Narrator of the Year – 2015.

When he’s not in the booth, Nick enjoys spending time with his wife, Jessica, and kids, (aka their beagle Frank and cat Stella), drumming in his cover band, exploring rural back roads with his wife on his motorcycle, or being enthralled in a tabletop role-playing game with his friends.

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