Tag Archives: ownvoices

Blog Tour: If You Love Something by Jayce Ellis

If You Love Something | Jayce Ellis


Release Date: December 28th, 2021

Publisher: Carina Press

Buy Link: https://www.harlequin.com/shop/books/9780369717917_if-you-love-something.html

Add to Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/57188050-if-you-love-something




A marriage lost is found again in this cheeky new romantic comedy from acclaimed author Jayce Ellis.

As executive chef at one of the hottest restaurants in DC, DeShawn Franklin has almost everything he’s ever wanted. He’s well-known, his restaurant is Michelin starred and he can write his own ticket anywhere he wants. Until his grandmother calls him home and drops two bombshells:

1) She has cancer and she’s not seeking treatment.

2) She’s willing half her estate to DeShawn’s ex-husband, Malik.

Make that three bombshells.

3) That whole divorce thing? It didn’t quite go through. DeShawn and Malik are still married.

And when DeShawn’s shady uncle contests Grandma’s will, there’s only one path back to justice: play it like he and Malik have reconciled. They need to act like a married couple just long enough to dispense with the lawsuit.

Once DeShawn is back in Malik’s orbit, it’s not hard to remember why they parted. All the reasons he walked away remain—but so do all the reasons he fell in love in the first place.



I tried to ignore the increasing butterflies in my stomach as I pulled off 495 and wound through the streets of suburban Maryland. I’d never been all that interested in having a home in the ’burbs, but it had always been Malik’s thing, and I drove down the streets of named development complexes, past the recreational center, leasing office, and horses grazing in a pas­ture, before pulling up near the end of a cul-de-sac. Not at the circular portion, but only two or three spots down.

Next to me, Corey whined softly, and I ran my hand over his head. “It’s going to be okay, boy. Malik and his dog will love you.”

I hoped like hell that was true. I climbed out and walked around, unfastening Corey from his doggy seatbelt before leashing and walking him up the front steps of the house.

This was just a meet and greet. A chance for the dogs to get to know one another, and for me and Malik to have a real conversation about what we were doing without prying eyes watching our every move. It was one thing to play reunited lovers for the cameras, for the courts, but I knew without a doubt that Malik would be pushing this divorce through as soon as he had the opportunity.

What I also knew, what had become abundantly clear be­tween receiving Grandma’s news, having dinner with her, and the meeting at Larry’s office? This, this right here? Was what I’d been missing.

Oh, sure, I’d acknowledged for years that I missed Malik with the fire of a thousand suns. That didn’t hold a candle in the face of actually being near him again, actually being able to touch him, to feel him. One look and I’d been ready to risk it all. Ready to say the hell with this entire career, if it meant I got to see that face every day for the rest of my life again.

But if I told Malik that? He’d probably laugh his ass off, not because he thought I was serious, but because he’d as­sume I was making a joke at his expense. It was his defense mechanism.

I took a deep breath, then rang the doorbell. The loud, deep barking from inside had Corey giving it back in spades, and I heard Malik’s exasperated sigh. “Calm down, Bruno. It’s okay, boy.”

Bruno did not calm down, and neither did Corey. He matched the growls on the other side of the door, his body going stiff and taut on my leash, warning Malik’s dog of his impending doom.

Malik unfastened the locks, and I could tell he was strug­gling to keep Bruno in line, only opening the door a crack before an absolutely huge mastiff nosed it open all the way. His position immediately changed, and the big lug sat down, panting.

I waited a few seconds, then unleashed Corey. He sniffed Bruno, who suddenly seemed more than willing to allow it. And when he was done, Corey let out a short bark, and Bruno took off toward what I assumed was the kitchen, my dog on his heels.

“Just like that, the best of friends,” Malik muttered.

I snorted. “All things considered, I think that’s a good sign.”

Malik’s eyes drifted to me, across my cheeks, lingering on my lips, down my neck. Then he closed his eyes, gave his head a little shake, and stepped back. “Come on in.”

It was nice to know I still affected him. I wanted to still affect him. I wanted him to want me as much as I had him the minute he’d walked down that dingy hallway and into the light. If the physical desire was still there, it meant I could work on everything else. Right?

I followed Malik through the open-concept layout and into the kitchen, pulling up a stool at the beautifully appointed is­land. A light gray granite countertop, white cabinets, all stain­less steel appliances. An absolute bitch to clean, but for just Malik and the dog? Well worth it.

“Your home is beautiful,” I said, taking in the hardwood floors, the outside patio just a few steps away, the fireplace that I wanted to cozy up in front of, weather be damned.

How lovely would it be, to come home and recline on the couch with him, let him lean against me and read his favorite book while I thumbed through recipes? To have the dogs lying next to each other in front of the fireplace, or outside, or wherever.

A whole host of things I never thought I wanted rushed through me. And I blew out a breath to stop the tidal wave of sensation from overwhelming me.

I turned to face Malik, who was staring at me. “Thank you,” he whispered, almost like he didn’t want to break me out of my trance. I smiled again, then nodded toward his hand, which was holding a square plastic container. “What’s that?”

He looked down, like he’d forgotten all about it, then shrugged. “Brownies.”

I held my hand out, and he cracked a fraction of a smile be­fore plucking one out of the container and handing it to me. Malik had been trying to perfect his brownie recipe when we’d separated. I took a bite and—yeah, he’d nailed it.

“This is exceptional,” I said, shoving the rest of it in my mouth and then holding my hand out for another one.

Malik laughed, which had been my hope, but damn, I still wasn’t ready for what that sound did to me. How much it warmed me. How much it calmed me. How much it made me want to lay across the nearest surface and take everything he had to give me.

“So,” I said, forcing that thought out my head and focus­ing on Malik. “How do we want to do this?”

“I guess, I mean—” Malik stopped, closed his eyes and gripped the counter, then blew out a breath and looked at me. “At the end of the day, this isn’t about you or me. It’s about honoring Grandma and her wishes, and not let that lying sack of shit uncle of yours keep her from that. Right?”

“Right.” And it was right. Never mind that I’d nearly forgotten about it in the rush of pleasure that shot through me at seeing Malik again. But he was right, painfully so, and I needed to remember that.

Although, to be fair, it looked like Malik was having a hard time staying on task, too, but I refused to think about what that meant. “The dogs get along, and that’s half the battle.” He grinned and I nodded. Truth, and praise Jesus for it. “So I guess it’s just a matter of setting public and private boundaries.”

I raised a brow. “Are they going to be different?”

His eyes flashed. His nostrils flared, and his tongue darted out to wet his lips. I mirrored his movement and leaned a fraction forward, wanting to chase his tongue with mine. Malik cleared his throat, straightened, and stepped back. Fuck. Hadn’t meant to do that.

His voice sharpened. “Yes. When we’re in public, I’ll follow your lead. You know what plays well with the cameras. Whatever it takes to make us look like a happily married, happily reunited couple. But here?”

After a beat of silence, I prodded him. “Here?”

He frowned, then bracketed his hands on his hips and nod­ded. “Here, we’re roommates. Nothing more. You stay in your bed, you take care of your dog, you fix your meals. You don’t worry about what I’m doing, you don’t worry about how I’m eating, you don’t worry about Bruno.”

“Barely passing acquaintances.”

He raised a brow at me, then gave what I’m sure he hoped was a nonchalant shrug, but it was far too stiff. “Exactly that. That’s what we are while we’re here.”

I wanted to argue, to trample over every word he said. But that wasn’t the way I’d won Malik’s heart in the first place, and if I wanted another chance, disregarding his needs wasn’t the way to go now. I’d had a few weeks to accept that we were still married. I could afford to give Malik time to catch up.

But if he thought I was letting him go again, he had another think coming.


Carina Adores is home to highly romantic contemporary love stories featuring beloved romance tropes, where LGBTQ+ characters find their happily-ever-afters.

 Discover a new Carina Adores book every month!

D’Vaughn and Kris Plan a Wedding by Chencia C. Higgins (coming January 25, 2022)

Sink or Swim by Annabeth Albert (coming February 22, 2022)

Going Public by Hudson Lin (coming March 29, 2022)

Book Boyfriend by Kris Ripper (coming April 26, 2022)

Eight Weeks in Paris by S.R. Lane (coming May 31, 2022)

The Romance Recipe by Ruby Barrett (coming June 28, 2022)

About the Author


Jayce spends her days divorcing “happily married couples” and her nights writing about people like her: Black, queer, fighting for their happy-ever-afters, with her husband and two turtles by her side.

Social Media







Release Blitz: The Q by Rick R. Reed

The Q | Rick R. Reed

The Q Banner

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: February 1st, 2021

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Male/Female, Male/Male, Female/Female

Length: 51,500

Buy Links:

NineStar Press | Books2Read

Add to Goodreads



Step out for a Saturday night at The Q—the small town gay bar in Appalachia where the locals congregate. Whose secret love is revealed? What long-term relationship comes to a crossroad? What revelations come to light? The DJ mixes a soundtrack to inspire dancing, drinking, singing, and falling in (or out) of love.

This pivotal Saturday night at The Q is one its regulars will never forget. Lives irrevocably change. Laugh, shed a tear, and root for folks you’ll come to love and remember long after the last page.

The Q New Release


The Q
Rick R. Reed © 2021
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One: Hey Bartender!

Mary Louise hated the term fag hag.

It was demoralizing, conjuring up an image of an older woman, heavyset, with too much makeup and hair that was too big. She would be sitting at home with her two cats, Will and Grace, drinking Cosmos alone and streaming Queer as Folk or Queer Eye while she waited for one of her gay male friends to call to shape and determine the extent of her social life. She’d maybe drink a little too much and laugh a little too loud. She’d play wingperson and watch wistfully from the sidelines as her cohorts paired off for an evening, a week, a month, or a lifetime. She’d tell her friends and family who’d never darkened the threshold of a gay bar that she liked going to them because she didn’t get hit on by predatory losers and she could let her hair down.

She knew the stereotype because for many years she’d been it—well, maybe not exactly, but close enough to make her cringe at the memory.

Sure, she still owned cats (or they her, far more likely), who were Siamese and not named Will and Grace, but Harry and Sally. Her hair had never been big and her idea of great TV was streaming the Golden Girls on Hulu. “Okay, so that’s a little gay,” she heard Sophia saying in the back of her mind. Her drinking taste leaned much more toward beer or a nice glass of whiskey, neat.

She’d broken free of being the wingwoman to the various gay men she befriended. She’d gotten rid of the idea that her happiness depended on a man, gay or otherwise.

She still laughed too loud and probably always would. One of her friends, Mort, delighted in acting out a scene with her from Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf when she let loose with one of her ear-splitting laughs. He’d accuse her of braying, and she’d respond, in her best Elizabeth Taylor, “I don’t bray,” and then command him to make her another gin and tonic. He always would comply and would sheepishly respond, “All right. You don’t bray.”

Mort had been gone since 1992, when AIDS took him at the tender age of twenty-eight. Mary Louise still missed him and kept a picture of the two of them, taken while on vacation in Provincetown, a year before Mort was diagnosed. She’d look at that photograph of the two of them, arms slung around each other on Commercial Street, and her eyes would well with tears, even though it had been close to thirty years since Mort had passed in an AIDS ward in a Pittsburgh hospital with only Mary Louise at his side. That loss still was tragic, not only because of Mort’s tender age, but because he was so alone. His partner, Nate, and his folks in Shippingport had abandoned him, the former claiming he couldn’t stand to see him this way and the latter voicing concerns that they might catch the virus. He was your son! She’d wanted to scream at the parents. He needed your arms around him. He needed you to see him. He was your lover! she’d say to Nate. His dying and death wasn’t about you and your fragile feelings.

Mary Louise hoped there was a special place in hell waiting for all three of them.

She’d watched many of her friends succumb to the virus before protease inhibitors came onto the scene, turning what was a death sentence into a somewhat manageable condition. She’d never stop mourning the loss of so many beautiful men.

When the fallout from all this was over, for all practical purposes, Mary Louise found herself bereft of friends. That’s when she decided to pack up and move back to her home town of Hopewell, where her mom and two sisters still lived. There was comfort in coming home to a place where her roots were deeply embedded, even if the area was blighted with poverty. It was still some of the most beautiful countryside Mary Louise could imagine.

Chicago had suddenly seemed too big and, at the same time, paradoxically empty. There were so many reminders—the Boystown strip along Halsted, the Baton Club on Clark, the Swedish restaurant Ann Sather next to the Belmont L stop—all of these places and so many more held more painful memories than she could count, even if they had the power to make her smile and laugh. She figured time and distance would transform the painful memories into joyous ones.

But each recollection of a night of drunken revelry out with her boys or a bleary-eyed brunch the morning after, were a hot touch to her grief, a pain that may have softened, but never went away. Mary Louise was grateful—she’d never willingly give up the hurt. She wanted to hold onto these memories of her boys forever. Despite the fact she was a bit of a stereotype and fit the fag hag profile pretty much to a T, the days and nights in Chicago with her circle of gay friends had been some of the happiest days of her life. And she didn’t even realize it at the time. Wasn’t that always the way?

Hopewell brought a sense of quiet, with its looming tree-covered hills—the foothills of the Appalachians and its position on a winding curve of the mud-brown Ohio River.

Moving back had simplified her life, even if it drained a lot of the bustle and color from it. In Chicago, she never walked alone; the streets, no matter the time of day or night, were always busy. In Hopewell, she could wander and never bump into anyone.

It was her mom, at eighty-six, who needed her help with things like shopping, cooking, running errands, and chauffeuring her to doctor’s appointments. Old Trudy, as she and her sisters referred to her behind her back, refused to move in with one of them, or God forbid, the assisted living facility up the road in Newell. Trudy always said, “I live alone because I like it. They say money is the root of all evil, but the truth is it’s people.”

Mom got by with her girls. And Mary Louise, even as she sometimes got nostalgic for the bright lights and hustle of the big city, knew she was doing the right thing. She’d experienced the Chicago skyline on a clear night, Lake Michigan’s blue/aqua/gray waves crashing against the shore, and the vast diversity of people living on its shore, and no one could ever take those memories away.

Even if she was feisty, clearheaded, and mobile, no one knew how much longer Mom would be with them.

At the Q, Mary Louise still could eye the boys, flirt with them, tease them, and play matchmaker in her role as bartender.

Right now, she stood behind the bar in a pair of unflattering black orthopedic shoes. Once upon a time, Mary Louise adored a pair of CFM (come-fuck-me) pumps with four-inch spikes. Oh, how great they made her legs look back in the day! Not that many noticed in hangouts like Sidetrack or Roscoe’s.

Now, midfifties, she needed to be comfortable when she was on her feet all night. Her smile depended on it, and thus her tips.

Currently, she waited for the doors to open, which would happen in about an hour. She was blissfully alone. Well, maybe blissful wasn’t the right word because all the lights were on as she prepped citrus and olives for drinks, washed glasses, polished the bar, and made sure the bottles behind it were stocked and ready to go.

The overhead lights cruelly stole most of the limited magic the Q possessed. And that was too bad. One of Mary Louise’s favorite characters was the tragic Blanche Dubois, from Tennessee Williams’s A Streetcar Named Desire and one of her favorite lines from the show was Blanche’s opinion that she didn’t want realism, she wanted magic. The shadows, soft lighting, and even the disco ball above the dance floor lent a kind of alchemy to the place, transforming it from run down to a setting where anything could happen, where hope lived.

Just before the doors opened, though, the joint looked tired and sad (as Mary Louise herself often felt). The cinder block walls, painted black, possessed a menacing air, like a dungeon—and not a fun one! The concrete floor, stained, showed its grit and the cracks that ran through it. Even the single long rectangle window at the front appeared dusty. Night pressed in on the tinted glass like a monster, hungry for admittance.

Stop it! Now you’re just getting crazy. Mary Louise finished her prep work and allowed herself a moment to sit on the stool she kept behind the bar. It might be her last chance for several hours to relax, if only for a few minutes. She dreaded the coming ache of her feet at evening’s end, orthopedic shoes or not.

But, oh, how she looked forward to seeing everyone! Every Saturday night was a party, and she was the hostess with the mostess.

Despite how some of the regulars could try her patience down to its last reserves, it brought her joy to watch the revelers, to serve them, to offer oblivion in a glass or a bottle. Even though her dancing days, mostly, were well behind her, she loved seeing everyone out there, bodies gyrating and spinning. Some were great, others awkward, others downright embarrassing, but to witness them cut loose after a long week was a thing of beauty, no matter their level of expertise or coordination. She especially loved some of the older patrons, who would bring their shakers of corn starch in to sprinkle on the floor, making it easier to slip and slide to the pulsing dance beat.

Gracie, Rose, and Liz were a lesbian trio that she particularly adored. Even though she’d never had much conversation with them, other than to take their drink orders, the three seemed so well-adjusted and happy, despite never once pairing off, as half the bar expected them to do. And Mary Louise, who considered herself a pretty astute observer of human nature, could tell from a mile away that Gracie was in love with Rose. So obvious! Why couldn’t Rose see it? Or did she simply not want to? Mary Louise had wondered if maybe they were a throuple, but everyone she talked to about that particular suspicion shot in down. “They’re best friends, that’s all.”

She turned as the door squeaked open. There stood Billy Breedlove, her barback and bouncer when needed (not often) in his usual garb—black combat boots, black cargo pants, and a black T-shirt that appeared to be painted on his beefy physique—looking worried.

Mary Louise was taken a little aback. For one, her breath always did a little catch in her throat when she saw him, accompanied by a skip of a heartbeat. He was a beautiful man with his muscles, his bleached-blond buzz cut, and the tattoo sleeves, wildly colorful butterflies and birds that ran down both arms. The fact that he was unattainable made him even more attractive.

And then she’d chide herself. That young man is a good twenty years younger than you, if not more. Cougar. Shame on you.

He’d once told her, when the doors were closed and the lights back on, as they concluded the evening’s business and everyone had headed home, that he was a volcel.

“What the hell’s that?” Mary Louise had asked, mystified.

“I’m an ace,” he’d said, only confusing her further.

“Voluntary celibate, asexual,” Billy told her. “I’m better off without the nasty, you know. I just don’t want it. It would be hard, no pun intended, if it didn’t work for me. But honestly, I never think about sex. Call me weird, but it works for me. And that’s all that matters.”

On hearing those words, she laughed, disbelieving. She fully expected him to laugh, too, maybe slug her in the arm for being gullible. When he didn’t join her in her laughter, her heart broke for him because she knew he wasn’t kidding. She’d pined with unrequited love for gay men most of her adult life and here was one who was most likely straight. And wouldn’t you know it? He’d sworn off sex.

The world was a hopeless place.

He’s too young for you anyway.

The second reason Mary Louise was taken aback was from the worry stamped on Billy’s face.

“There’s been an accident,” he called over. “It’s bad.”

“Oh no.” Mary Louise stood. “What happened?”


About the Author

Real Men. True Love.

Rick R. Reed is an award-winning and bestselling author of more than fifty works of published fiction. He is a Lambda Literary Award finalist. Entertainment Weekly has described his work as “heartrending and sensitive.” Lambda Literary has called him: “A writer that doesn’t disappoint…”

Rick lives in Palm Springs, CA, with his husband, Bruce, and their fierce Chihuahua/Shiba Inu mix, Kodi.

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Blog Button 2

The Q IG