Where My Stories Come From by Andrew Grey – Guest Blog


Long and Short Reviews welcomes Andrew Grey who is visiting with us to celebrate the recent release of Running to You, an M/M contemporary romance from Dreamspinner Press.

I get asked a lot where I get my stories from and the best answer I can give is that I have some kind of well of them deep in my soul and they bubble up through it. I know it sounds enigmatic, but it’s the best answer I have. Usually when I’m working on a story and as I draw to the end, another set of characters begins pushing their way forward in my head. I can actually see them putting their hands up sometimes saying, “its my turn now.” I love it when that happens because it means that all is right with the world and my head is ready to flow from one story to the next. That doesn’t always happen and there are times when I have a sot back, take a few days, talk to Dominic a lot, and find something that will spark an idea. Running to You was one of those stories that took a little searching for, but once it found me, Billy Ray and Carlos really bowled me over completely and took my breath away. Love truly can bloom in the depths of winter.

Home, love, and possibilities he never imagined are waiting for Billy Joe to claim them. But first he needs to escape the horrors of his past.
A twisted act of cruelty and prejudice drives Billy Joe from his Mississippi home, and he makes it as far as Pennsylvania—where his car breaks down just as the year’s first snowstorm blows in. Fortunately, Carlos is there to lend a hand.

Carlos is no stranger to hardship. His family rejected him for being gay, but with determination, he put himself through school and became a librarian. Carlos sees the same willpower in Billy, and he wants to help Billy and his son succeed in a new life that is very different from the one they left behind. With his support, they start to adjust, and before long, both men want more than encouragement from each other. They want the chance for a future together, but their families have other ideas… and Billy’s will stop at nothing to get what they want.

Enjoy an Excerpt

As they passed into Pennsylvania, the snow began coming down faster. The day was growing to an end, the light fading fast. He checked the map at a rest area and intended to make it to Harrisburg before stopping. It was maybe an hour away, and he knew he’d be able to find a place to stay. Tyler was hungry, so Billy Joe passed him a few crackers and a bottle with a little juice inside, and kept going.

The snow grew thicker, reminding Billy Joe of how unfamiliar he was with driving on roads like this. At home, the few times it had snowed, everyone just stayed inside until the sun melted it away again and then went on with their business. This snow didn’t seem like it was going to behave that way.

He saw the sign for Shippensburg and got off the highway, traveling very slowly. He drove into a business area and pulled into the Walmart parking lot. Billy Joe wrapped Tyler in a blanket and carried him into the store, where he found the section for winter wear and bought them each a warm coat. Then he got them something to eat, and they returned to the car. He made it back to the freeway, intending to continue the last little bit for the night, when the car lurched and then cut out.

Billy Joe coasted to the side of the road and pulled to a stop as all the lights inside the car went dark. The wipers stopped and snow built up on the windshield and back window, the cold creeping in as the heat ceased blowing in.

“I’m cold,” Tyler said after a few minutes.

“I know, honey.” He got the blanket and put it over him, trying to figure out what to do. He needed to get help and had his phone, but who did he call? Billy Joe was well away from anyone he might know, which was good and bad. He didn’t want to call the auto club in case his parents could trace him. He was just about to give up and call anyway when headlights appeared behind him, coming to stop.

About the Author:Andrew grew up in western Michigan with a father who loved to tell stories and a mother who loved to read them. Since then he has lived throughout the country and traveled throughout the world. He has a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and works in information systems for a large corporation.

Andrew’s hobbies include collecting antiques, gardening, and leaving his dirty dishes anywhere but in the sink (particularly when writing) He considers himself blessed with an accepting family, fantastic friends, and the world’s most supportive and loving partner. Andrew currently lives in beautiful, historic Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

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Buy the book at Dreamspinner Press, Amazon, or Barnes and Noble.

My Favorite New Mexican Slang by BA Tortuga – Guest Blog

Long and Short Reviews welcomes BA Tortuga who is here to celebrate the recent release of Cowboy in the Crosshairs, a Turquoise, New Mexico Story.

My Favorite New Mexican Slang

Hey, y’all! I’m BA Tortuga, resident redneck and new New Mexican.

So, y’all know that I’m a Texan, right? Well, I’ve been in New Mexico for five years almost and I’m starting to blend in.

Seriously.

I am going out of my mind with joy with all my new colloquialisms.

OUT OF MY MIND.

I know, right? – I say this a thousand times a day now. As in: “Miranda Lambert’s all pretty, huh?” “I know, right?”

A la ve – Damn!

Chale – same as dude 😉

Red or green? – The state question. My answer is always Christmas.

Eee a la! – Wow!

Sangwich – Sandwich (or for the Texans, sammich)

Umbers! – you’re in trouble!

Mahalpyou? – May I help you?

All (insert word) – See ‘I know, right?’. All is the supreme adjective. It’s all good and all badass.

Or no? – Right? As in: You want this shirt folded or no?

Much love, y’all!

BA

***

Once upon a time, a prince lived in a magical kingdom called Turquoise, New Mexico.

Well, really, TJ is a small-town police chief. Every Friday he holds court in the diner with the local holy roller, the art colonists, and the horsey people. But the Benes, who own the rodeo company, keep to themselves. TJ knows, because he was once hot and heavy with the oldest Bene son.

When Wacey Bene gets trampled by a remuda and comes home to heal, he’s none too happy to run into TJ, or his two little boys and their momma. The story might end there—if it wasn’t for some pesky bastard trying to kill Wacey.

The law steps in, and the townsfolk are cross about somebody messing with one of their own.

But once the bad guy is put away, can TJ and Wacey make their place in this wild and eccentric town a permanent one?

About the Author: Texan to the bone and an unrepentant Daddy’s Girl, BA Tortuga spends her days with her basset hounds and her beloved wife, texting her sisters, and eating Mexican food. When she’s not doing that, she’s writing. She spends her days off watching rodeo, knitting and surfing Pinterest in the name of research. BA’s personal saviors include her wife, Julia Talbot, her best friend, Sean Michael, and coffee. Lots of coffee. Really good coffee.

Having written everything from fist-fighting rednecks to hard-core cowboys to werewolves, BA does her damnedest to tell the stories of her heart, which was raised in Northeast Texas, but has heard the call of the high desert and lives in the Sandias. With books ranging from hard-hitting GLBT romance, to fiery menages, to the most traditional of love stories, BA refuses to be pigeon-holed by anyone but the voices in her head.

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Buy the book at Dreamspinner Press or Amazon.

Smoldering Flame by Andrew Grey


Long and Short Reviews welcomes Andrew Grey who is celebrating today’s release of Smoldering Flame, the third book in his Rekindled Flame series.

Smoldering Flame is a special story for me. At its heart, this story is about how one kind deed can lead to happiness in a way that Marco never expected. When Dean and Sammy show up at his studio, he’s about to turn them away. But when he sees Sammy, he changes his mind and does what he can to make the sick little boy happy. Sammy completely stole my heart as I was writing the story. He’s a young boy who has been through a lot. Sammy’s father is a fireman and Sammy is all about fire dogs and his fire daddy. He was just too cute for words. Of course, Marco and Dean both have issues and commitments that could pull them apart, but the fact remains that one kind deed from Marco has the power to change everything for all of them.

Here are my Top 5 Book Writing Songs. As you can tell I love show tunes mostly. They just get me going like nothing else does. I listen to the Broadway channel on Sirius all the dang time. Smile

Make Your Own Kind of Music – Mama Cass. I love this song and it really inspires me because we all need to make our own music.

Hello – From Book of Mormon because this song always makes me laugh and sometimes you just need that.

Love Changes Everything – This is an amazing song which is so true, especially for me.

Movie in My Mind – From Miss Saigon. This song is so haunting and longing, it always moved my soul.

Only Make Believe – From Showboat This is an old show, but the song has such an interesting way of conveying two people falling in love at first sight. And then it’s used when they come back together after hard times.

Sometimes the strongest flames take the longest to ignite.

Firefighter Dean’s life revolves around his very ill son, Sammy. Caring for Sammy and working to make ends meet leave Dean time for little else, and romance isn’t something he can even consider—no matter how much he longs for someone special to join their family. Because money is tight, Dean couldn’t be more grateful to the photographer who does Sammy’s session free of charge.

After growing up in the foster care system, Marco knows how to rely on himself, and his hard work is about to pay off—he’s poised on the cusp of fame and success he could only have imagined as a lonely child. When Dean brings Sammy into Marco’s studio, Marco can see they’re struggling, and both the boy and his father stir Marco’s heart. The slow burn between the two men isn’t something either expected, but neither wants to lose the possibility of a loving future. With Dean’s dangerous and possibly life-threatening career and Marco’s demanding one, can romance and forever find a place to fit?

Enjoy an Excerpt

With the squeaky toy echoing in his ears for the millionth time, Marco tried to get the dog to look at him. He needed one last picture with Snickers looking straight at him.

Marco had to be careful—he wanted Snickers to only turn his head. The dog’s body was perfect. If he squeaked the toy too loud, the dog would move and everything would go to hell. And it would be another half an hour before he’d be able to get the damned shot.

Marco was tired. Snickers was tired. His owner, Baily, was slumped in a nearby chair, already having given up the ghost on this one.

“That’s it, boy. You’re almost perfect.” Marco pressed the shutter button, taking one picture and then another. As Snickers moved his head toward him, Marco held the button, rattling off multiple shots in quick succession. Then Snickers huffed and lay down, closing his eyes as if to say he’d had more than enough and was done for the day. Marco took a few more pictures because Snickers looked adorable and he never knew what was going to click with the client. Then he backed away from the camera, smiling.

“Is that it?” Baily asked hopefully.

“Yes. I think we’re all done for the day. Snickers did really good, and I appreciate your patience.” For the owner, this kind of session was hard. These pictures weren’t for her, but for an advertising agency in New York, and if they liked what they saw, there would be a decent payday for Marco, as well as Baily.

“Do you want to take a look?” Marco asked, turning the nearby computer screen to face them, then moving through the pictures one by one.

“Wow! Those look great.”

“Let me know which one you want and I’ll have it printed for you.” She had been so patient, and Marco wanted her to have a really good picture of Snickers.

“I love that one,” Baily said, smiling as Snickers doggy-laughed at the camera. It was a great image of the sand-colored corgi and one Marco was sure the agency would flip for.

“Me too.” He made note of the image. “He did a great job,” Marco reiterated, then stifled a yawn. This session was only supposed to have taken an hour, and almost three hours later, he was wiped out and had zero energy.

Baily scooped Snickers into her arms, and he settled right against her. Clearly he was just as wiped out.

“I’ll call you as soon as I hear. I’m hoping, if they like what they see, they’ll contact us for more pictures, and then, who knows?”

“Thank you, Marco.” Baily grinned. She was in her midtwenties and was a really sweet person. She’d first brought Snickers in for a personal portrait session, but when one of Marco’s clients came looking for dog images, Marco had shown them Snickers and they’d requested more for an ad campaign.

“No problem. I’ll be in touch.” Marco loosely hugged her and then led her to the front door. He let her out and locked up before returning to his studio. He cleaned up the toys, dusted down the backgrounds, and vacuumed the carpet he’d used as a base for the shoot. Then he turned out the lights and settled in for a few hours’ work with his camera and computer.

A knock on the door ten minutes later pulled him out of his task. Marco groaned. His calendar was booked for months and he never took walk-ins. His website even suggested potential clients try to schedule appointments at least three months in advance. So who was knocking at his door?

Marco got up, walked to the door, and pulled it open. “Can I help you?” he asked professionally.

The man there stood taller than Marco by a good six inches. He had to be nearly six four and was as broad as they came. He wore a sweatshirt, unzipped, over a tight navy-blue T-shirt that strained to cover the muscle underneath.

“I’m sorry to bother you,” he said gently but with a hint of agitation, or maybe it was nerves. Marco wasn’t sure, but he was definitely worried about something, judging by how his lower lip had been scraped, probably by the man’s own teeth. “Do you—”

A soft, weak-sounding voice cut through what the man was saying like a knife through butter. “Daddy.”

About the Author: Andrew grew up in western Michigan with a father who loved to tell stories and a mother who loved to read them. Since then he has lived throughout the country and traveled throughout the world, visiting every continent except Africa and Antarctica. Andrew adores meeting people from cowboys, to executives, artists, police officers and everyone in between. He has a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and works in information systems for a large corporation.

Andrew’s hobbies include collecting antiques, gardening, and leaving his dirty dishes anywhere but in the sink (particularly when writing). He also hates laundry, cooking, and cleaning. Luckily he has a husband who does that for him so he can keep writing. He considers himself blessed with an accepting family, fantastic friends, and the world’s most supportive and loving partner. Andrew currently lives in beautiful, historic Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

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Buy the book at Dreamspinner Press.

Five Great Excuses Not to Write by J. Scott Coatsworth – Guest Blog and Giveaway


Long and Short Reviews welcomes J. Scott Coatsworth who is celebrating today’s release of Lander, the second book in his Oberon Cycle series. Scott is giving away a $25 Amazon gift certificate and three copies of his queer sci-fi eBook The Stark Divide.

Five Great Excuses Not to Write
by J. Scott Coatsworth

Authors gotta procrastinate. It’s in our DNA. We love to write. We need to write.

And yet we gotta not write, too.

Our writer brains are strange and wonderful things, They need time to recharge, time to work out the various odds and ends from our stories and plots.

So we’ve come up with a number of ways to put off the inevitable, and I thought I’d share a few with you.

1) Laundry. There’s always laundry, and laundry’s gotta be done. And there’s no better time to do it then when you’re on a deadline and gotta finish 20,000 words in the next three hours. Separate those colors. Bleach those whites, and if you need to waste a little more time, run to the grocery store for some more dryer sheets. You can do this!

2) Cleaning your keyboard. This is a master class in procrastination. Get yourself some q-tips and a little 409 or hand soap, and go for it. Make sure you get around all the keys, and extra points if you manage to short out your keyboard and have to drive to the Apple store to get a new one.

3) Personal hygiene. This is a goldmine for the professional procrastinator. The possibilities re nearly endless. There are eyebrows to be trimmed, nose hairs to be plucked, nails to be cut, and various body parts to be shaved, depending on gender and personal preference. If you run out of options, offer to trim something on your significant other.

4) Social media. This is only for master-level procrastinators, because once you go in, you may never come out. Writers procrastinate, but they also need to write, or they’re just people with computers who don’t write. So approach it with caution. Even seasoned writers have been known to lose entire days at a time in the twisty halls of Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Take a flashlight and have a friend check on you after a few hours to be sure you make it home.

5) Drawing maps. The great thing about this one (and the related “doing research” and “outlining the story”) are that they actually feel like writing work I mean, you have to know what the world (or city or piece of toast) that you are writing about looks like. You can while away hours and hours sketching rivers and mountains, coming up with compelling names like Skaithin Castle and the Whifforwillow River.

So that’s it. Master these skills (and figure out how to write a good scene or two) and you too could be a great writer.

Sometimes the world needs saving twice.

In the sequel to the Rainbow-Award-winning Skythane, Xander and Jameson thought they’d fulfilled their destiny when they brought the worlds of Oberon and Titania back together, but their short-lived moment of triumph is over.

Reunification has thrown the world into chaos. A great storm ravaged Xander’s kingdom of Gaelan, leaving the winged skythane people struggling to survive. Their old enemy, Obercorp, is biding its time, waiting to strike. And to the north, a dangerous new adversary gathers strength, while an unexpected ally awaits them.

In the midst of it all, Xander’s ex Alix returns, and Xander and Jameson discover that their love for each other may have been drug-induced.

Are they truly destined for each other, or is what they feel concocted? And can they face an even greater challenge when their world needs them most?

Enjoy an Excerpt

Jameson savored the kiss, his arms around Xander, the way they fit together just right. They were finally together, and Titania and Oberon were one again.

Erro, Quince had called this new world. Like the skythane god of the sun, the one Errian and the Erriani were named for.
For the moment, everything was right in his life, and he never wanted it to end.

A cold drop of water on his cheek brought him out of his reverie. He glanced up. Storm clouds were piled high, swiftly overtaking them. Rain began to pour out of the sky like a waterfall, and thunder echoed in the clouds as the valley went dark, sunlight smothered by the onrushing clouds. Nearby trees thrashed about in the wind, their purple leaves fluttering in distress.

“What the hell?” Xander said as the winds picked up and ruffled the feathers of his wings. He stared up at the black tempest.
“The Split!” Jameson shouted over the howling of the wind. He mimed the two halves of the world, each with their own atmosphere, suddenly being forced together in the middle. “When the Oberon half shifted, all the atmosphere it brought with it along the Split was forced up here!”

A bolt of lightning struck a nearby tree, crisping it to ashes and standing Jameson’s hair on end.

“Run!” Xander shouted.

Jameson’s vision swam, and a memory slipped into his conscious mind from that other part of him—a high-ceilinged cavern that was more like a faery palace than a cave—where he’d stolen away with a lover. More than once.

His stomach heaved at the displacement, and he clenched his hands. That wasn’t me. They were someone else’s memories.
“Follow me!” he shouted at his four companions—Xander, Quince, Kadin, and Venin—and ran toward the cliffs that were rapidly fading to invisibility behind the rain. He pushed down the memory-nausea, tasting bile in the back of his mouth.

Alia was missing. He’d last seen her as they had fled the Mountain, when it had begun to collapse. Jameson looked around wildly, but she was nowhere to be seen. “Where’s Alia?” he shouted at Kadin as they ran. Thunder shook the valley.

Kadin shook his head, mouthing, “I don’t know.”

Rain swirled all around them, coming down so fast that it pooled on the ground and ran in rivulets downhill toward the lake that was now half filled with the broken remains of the Mountain.

The mud made the footing treacherous. Jameson clambered up the hill, using roots and rocks that offered a firmer surface than the naked ground. The wind tugged at his wings, threatening to flip him over. He pulled them in tightly and glanced back to be sure the others were following him through the tempest.

Jameson reached the cover of the forest, plunging under the protection of the canopy. The trees here were tall and thin with white bark trunks and broad purple leaves that were being shredded by the storm.

About the Author: Scott lives between the here and now and the what could be. Indoctrinated into fantasy and sci fi by his mother at the tender age of nine, he devoured her library. But as he grew up, he wondered where the people like him were.

He decided it was time to create the kinds of stories he couldn’t find at Waldenbooks. If there weren’t gay characters in his favorite genres, he would remake them to his own ends.

His friends say Scott’s brain works a little differently – he sees relationships between things that others miss, and gets more done in a day than most folks manage in a week. He seeks to transform traditional sci fi, fantasy, and contemporary worlds into something unexpected.

He runs Queer Sci Fi and QueeRomance Ink with his husband Mark, sites that bring queer people together to promote and celebrate fiction that reflects their own reality.

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Buy the book at Dreamspinner, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, iBooks, or Queer Romance Ink.

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Just for Nice by H.M. Shepherd – Guest Blog


Long and Short Reviews welcomes H. M. Shepherd as she visits with us to celebrate today’s release of her debut novel Just for Nice.

Top Five Recipes

1. Pizzelles

We used to go to my grandmother’s every Christmas to bake cookies with her and my aunts. I hated going for a variety of reasons, one of which was the iron fist my grandmother used to control her kitchen. I always envied my grandfather, who was left to sit in a corner and make pizzelles for hours on end without being bothered by anyone else. We eventually stopped going to these baking days, but not before I got the recipe my grandfather had originally been given by his Abruzzese mother. It was meant to feed nine children, six step-children, and a legion of grandchildren, so, you know. Adjust accordingly.

● 12 eggs
● 6 cups flour
● 5 cups sugar
● 4 1/2 cups oil
● 3 tbps anise extract
● Zest of 2 lemons

Mix well and press in a pizzelle iron according to instructions.

2. Italian Wedding Soup

My late uncle wrote this up from memory when I complained that I had never been given my grandfather’s soup recipe (same grandfather as above, but since this is a little more involved we never did get around to writing it down). It’s presented here as it was given to me, lax measurements and all, because that’s how this family rolls.

● Whole frying chicken
● Chicken bouillon
● 1 head of escarole
● 1 large onion, diced
● 1 clove garlic, diced
● Celery, diced
● Tiny meatballs
● Ground pepper to taste
● Pastina/orzo
● 2 eggs
● 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
● 1/4 cup milk

To make stock, boil chicken in 2 gallons of water; add bouillon cubes. Once cooked, remove the chicken and cut up as much as you want for the soup. Saute meatballs, onions, and garlic; add to soup with pieces of chicken. Clean and boil escarole. Add as much pastina as you’d like. Let soup boil uncovered until reduced by half. Beat eggs, mix in Parmesan and milk. Add this mixture to soup as you stir.

3. No-Knead Skillet Bread

This is not, in fact, an old family recipe; I found it on Pinterest. But it’s awesome for when you need a side, and it can be customized however you’d like.

● 1 package active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
● 2 cups lukewarm water
● 1/2 tbsp kosher salt
● 4 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
● Olive oil
● Rosemary

Combine yeast and warm water in a large bowl or pitcher. Using a wooden spoon add in 1 cup of the flour and then the salt and mix until combined. Stir in the rest of the flour, one cup at a time, until completely incorporated. Cover with plastic wrap or a lid that is not shut completely. Allow to rise for 1 hour. Do not punch down the dough. Lightly oil the bottom of a cast iron skillet (a 10′′ or 12′′ skillet works well). Sprinkle a good amount of flour on top of the dough and then cover hands with flour. Take all of the dough and shape into a disc (it will be sticky). Place in the skillet, cover loosely with a towel, and allow to rise for another 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400oF. Drizzle a little more oil over the top of the bread, and slash the dough with a knife creating an X. Sprinkle with coarse salt and rosemary leaves. Bake for 35–40 minutes until the top is a deep brown color.

4. Hot Dog Sauce

I have no idea whether or not this is true, but family lore says that my great-uncle got the recipe for Yocco’s hot dog sauce from the owner’s girlfriend, with whom he was having an affair (presumably this was before he met my great-aunt, who was ex-military and a feminist before it was cool). This recipe admittedly tastes pretty damn close, but I don’t think it’s anything someone couldn’t have figured out on their own. Still, I like the story.

● 1 lb ground beef
● Grease from 3 or 4 slices of bacon
● Salt
● Pepper
● 1/2 cup chopped onion
● Chili powder

Brown ground beef in bacon grease. Salt and pepper to taste. Stir in onions and chili powder. Cover with water and let simmer for one hour.

5. Apple Dumplings

Because at least one recipe from the author of a story set in Pennsylvania Dutch Country should be Pennsylvania Dutch. This is one of my Dad’s favorite desserts, though when I make it I generally end up using puff pastry. Cheating? Maybe, but pie dough is a pain in the ass to get right and I don’t have the patience for it.

● 6 medium Pennsylvania baking apples
● 2 cups all-purpose flour
● 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
● 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
● 3/4 cup sugar
● 1/2 tsp salt
● 2/3 cup shortening
● 1/2 cup milk
● 1 tbsp cinnamon
Sauce
● 2 cups packed brown sugar
● 2 cups water
● 1/4 cup butter
● 1/4 tsp cinnamon
Pare and core apples, leaving whole. Combine flour, baking powder and salt. Cut in shortening until particles are about the size of small peas. Sprinkle milk over mixture and press together lightly, working dough only enough to hold together. Roll dough on floured surface as for pastry and cut into 6 squares; place an apple on each. Fill cavity in apple with sugar and cinnamon. Pat dough around apples, covering completely. Fasten edges securely on top of apple. Place dumplings 1″ apart in greased baking pan. Combine brown sugar, water and spice. Cook minutes; remove from heat and add butter. Pour over dumplings. Bake at 375°F for 35 to 40 minutes, basting occasionally. Serve hot with whole milk, cream, or ice cream.

Nick Caratelli flees the city in an attempt to escape a broken relationship and a career he never wanted. He plans to set up a bed-and-breakfast in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch country—despite the fact he has no experience in renovating the old building. Luckily his handsome neighbor Sam approaches him with a curious proposal: he’ll help with the restoration in exchange for Nick babysitting his niece.

As they work to have the bed-and-breakfast open for business by summer’s end, their lives become interwoven without them even trying. Before he knows it, Nick is recovering from his loss and taking his place in the unconventional family that seems determined to form. But for Nick and Sam to be together in all the ways they desire, they’ll have to realize all the arguments against romance exist only in their heads….

About the Author: H. M. Shepherd is a twentysomething paralegal living in Berks County, Pennsylvania, with both parents, two dogs, a baby sister who should stop growing up, and a brother who similarly failed to launch. Contrary to the Millennial stereotype, however, she does not live in the basement—a blessing considering the size of the spiders down there. She crochets as a hobby, cooks when she can, and reads as though it were her vocation. She is also an amateur genealogist and spends entirely too much time squinting at old census records and church documents. A little spacey, she once managed to forget that her car needed an oil change until it stopped running, and regularly has milk-in-the-cupboard-cereal-in-the-fridge moments. While she is an avid writer, Just for Nice is her first and so far only professional publication.

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Buy the book at Dreamspinnner Press.

Reg’s Porn Name by Amy Lane – Guest Blog


Long and Short Reviews welcomes Amy Lane who is visiting with us today to celebrate the recent release of the latest book in her Johnnies series Bobby Green.

Reg’s Porn Name

Reg’s porn name is sort of a major character tell—because, for most of the book, he doesn’t have one.

Reg was one of John’s first models—when John asked him which name he’d like as his porn name, Reg doesn’t think he needs one. For one, he’s pretty excited to be known as a guy who can get naked on camera, but for another, he’s aware of his limitations. He doesn’t think quickly—he might not respond if someone calls him by a different name.

A few years later (right before Tommy meets Chase, for those who know the timeline) Reg has an encounter with a young lady that leaves him feeling… off balance. She takes his porn persona at face value, and Reg is left feeling… used. He never thought that sort of thing could happen to him—hey, he started when he was nineteen and all sex was good sex. But after nine years, it occurs to him—the naked guy on camera, and the guys he’s naked with, are only one part of who he is.

He suddenly wants to be a different person on camera.

It’s a hard bell to unring, the porn bell. He tries to be Digger for the next year and that… that doesn’t work so well. Because Reg is and always has been fundamentally Reg. He’s been kind and decent and as up front as he can be about what he’s feeling and what he’s thinking and who he is as a person. He assumes this is because he’s stupid and can’t think beyond the here and now, but the truth is much simpler and much more profound.

Reg is a character without artifice.

The one and only time he got his pubes waxed, it hurt and he cried and he stopped. He doesn’t compartmentalize, whether it’s pleasure or pain. If he’s happy, he tells you. If he’s hurt, he cries. And when he realizes that the guys from Johnnies are growing up and graduating from porn to other endeavors, he is hurt—but he’s not bitter.

“Lance?” he mumbled.

“Yeah?”

“You think you’ll remember me when you’re off doctoring and being famous, and I’m still here?”

Lance’s hand in his hair was gentle, and in spite of what they’d just done in bed, brotherly. “I don’t think I’ll be able to forget you,” he said, his voice raspy and sad.

The guys from Johnnies love him even though he can’t make “Digger” stick. He’s straightforward and decent and real, and he carries a tough burden. So Reg is the one Johnnies boy whom I didn’t have to worry about coming up with a porn name for.

But coming up with his happy ever after was one of the most challenging things I’ve ever written.

Vern Roberts couldn’t wait to turn eighteen and get the hell out of Dogpatch, California. But city living is expensive, and he’s damned desperate when Dex from Johnnies spots him bussing tables.

As “Bobby,” he’s a natural at gay porn. Soon he’s surrounded by hot guys and sex for the taking, but it’s not just his girlfriend back in Dogpatch—or her blackmailing brother—that keeps him from taking it. It’s the sweet guy who held the lights for his first solo scene, who showed him decency, kindness, and a smile.

Reg Williams likes to think he’s too stupid to realize what a shitty hand life dealt him, but Bobby knows better. What Reg lacks in family, opportunity, education, and money, he makes up for in heart. One fumbling step at a time, they connect, not just in their hearts but in their bodies, where sex that’s not on camera, casual, or meaningless, becomes the most important thing in the world.

But Reg is hampered by an inescapable family burden, and he and Bobby will never fly unless he can find a way to manage it. Can he break the painful link to his unrealized childhood and grow into the love Bobby wants to give?

About the Author:Amy Lane is a mother of two grown kids, two half-grown kids, two small dogs, and half-a-clowder of cats. A compulsive knitter who writes because she can’t silence the voices in her head, she adores fur-babies, knitting socks, and hawt menz, and she dislikes moths, cat boxes, and knuckleheaded macspazzmatrons. She is rarely found cooking, cleaning, or doing domestic chores, but she has been known to knit up an emergency hat/blanket/pair of socks for any occasion whatsoever or sometimes for no reason at all. Her award-winning writing has three flavors: twisty-purple alternative universe, angsty-orange contemporary, and sunshine-yellow happy. By necessity, she has learned to type like the wind. She’s been married for twenty-five-plus years to her beloved Mate and still believes in Twu Wuv, with a capital Twu and a capital Wuv, and she doesn’t see any reason at all for that to change.

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R.L. Merrill’s Top Five Musicals – Guest Blog

Long and Short Reviews welcomes R.L. Merrill, who is celebrating today’s release of Hurricane Reese.

R.L. Merrill’s Top Five Musicals –
(In no particular order because playing favorites is no fair)
Hurricane Reese features a pop musician who becomes a Broadway smash with his first musical, Ruby in Red Plaid, and decides to take some time off with his beloved grandfather who played piano for Frank Sinatra in the 1960s. The musical Reese ends up writing details an important event in his grandfather’s life, which turns out to be a little different than Reese had been led to believe. I’ve always loved musicals and dancing, and while rock and metal music has featured prominently in all of my work so far, this book gave me the opportunity to explore my more theatrical side. I helped choreograph musicals in my first years of teaching, performed in a college production of Kiss Me, Kate, and worked with show choirs for years, so this part of the story was a lot of fun to write.

1. Hair

Hair has some of the best songs ever. I fell in love with the show in college when a date took me to see a performance in Des Moines. I bought the soundtrack, listened to it non-stop, and I still sing it all the time. I was such a hippie anyway at that time in my life, well in dress and in political/social leanings, it just appealed to me. Plus, I was all about my long blonde natural hair then, haha. Not anymore. I cut it off when I got pregnant 17 years ago and I’ve never looked back. Now it’s pink!

2. Silk Stockings

I was a dancer from age 3 to 17. Tap, jazz, and hula. I absolutely loved everything to do with dancing, and Cyd Charisse was my idol. Her and Cynthia Rhodes were everything. I wanted to dance like them, I wanted to be them for a long time. But Silk Stockings I love not only for the dancing, but also as a child of the Cold War era, I loved this lighthearted take on the Soviet conflict and how love could cross even the stodgiest of boundaries. And Fred Astaire. Come on…

3. Phantom of the Opera

My stepmother and grandmother took me to see Phantom in San Francisco when I was a teenager and I was blown away. Never had I gotten such chills from listening to song. I’ve always been a horror fan and one who loved the villain more than the hero quite often, and so I always rooted for the Phantom and longed for an alternate ending where Christine remains with the Music Of The Night…

4. Once

This brilliant story of a street musician and the flower-seller who becomes his muse was so sweet, but the music ripped my heart out. The film version with Glen Hansard in all of his ginger beauty singing his heart out and Marketa Irglova’s pure voice singing a plea to the man who left her… Oh, the feels.

5. Singin’ in the Rain

Gene Kelly. Need I say more? The master himself pokes fun at himself in this one while falling in love with the adorable Debbie Reynolds. The acrobatic Make em Laugh, the Cyd Charisse number, and “Moses supposes his toeses were roses, but Moses supposes erroneously…” I did a tap solo to Singin’ in the Rain as a kid that I’m told was pretty special, so yeah, it’s been a favorite for a long time.

Tony award-winning musician Reese Matheson’s life resembles a natural disaster, and caregiver Jude De La Torre is caught in the eye of the storm. Can the love these two opposites find together survive caring for an ornery octogenarian with wayward balls and a meddling family insistent upon tradition?

A public break-up is not what Reese expects upon returning from the successful run of his musical in London. All he wants to do is spend time with his beloved grandfather and musical mentor, who suffers from Alzheimer’s. Reese knows he doesn’t have much time left before the elder Matheson doesn’t remember him. In classic “Hurricane Reese” form, he moves into the cottage by the sea, displacing Jude, the intriguing caregiver he’d hired two years before. When Grandpa proves too much for Reese to handle on his own, Jude comes to his rescue, taming Grandpa… and the Hurricane as well. Soon all Reese can think about is how to get Jude out of his scrubs and into his bed. Permanently. Will Hurricane Reese destroy everything in its wake, or will this gay odd couple learn to harmonize together?

About the Author:Once upon a time… a teacher, tattoo collector, mom, and rock ’n’ roll kinda gal opened up a doc and started purging her demons. Several self-published books and a debut gay romance with Dreamspinner Press later, R.L. Merrill is still striving to find that perfect balance between real life and happily ever after. She writes stories set in the places she loves most, such as Hollywood, New Orleans, Las Vegas, Northern California—and Iowa. Ro also loves connecting with other authors online, at the annual Romantic Times Booklovers Convention, and chapter meetings for the Romance Writers of America, of which she’s been a member since 2014.

A sucker for underdogs, Ro has adopted a wide variety of pets including cats, dogs, rats, a snake and fish. Her love of horror is evident the moment you walk in her door and find yourself surrounded by decorative skulls and quirky artwork from around the world. You can find her lurking on social media where she loves connecting with readers, educating America’s youth, being a mom taxi to two busy kids, in the tattoo chair trying desperately to get that back piece finished, or head banging at a rock show near her home in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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La Famiglia by Deanna Wadsworth – Exclusive Excerpt

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Deana Wadsworth, who is celebrating the release of La Famiglia, the latest book in her Men of Gilead series.

I’m happy to be at LASR again with my new release and latest Men of Gilead book LA FAMIGLIA. As you can see from the covers of the books so for, doggies play an important role in the series. I brought an excerpt featuring the adorable but wild Jasper from LA FAMIGLIA.
Enjoy!

Forrester Giordano comes from a huge, nosy Italian family, and with their homophobic jokes and slurs, he’s decided to stay in the closet. He finds respite in his bookstore in the quaint village of Gilead—where he has a huge crush on one of his customers, Kyle Benson.

Kyle is determined to live his dreams, and though life isn’t easy being deaf, one by one he’s making them come true. He’s scored a great job practicing law, bought a cute bungalow where he can finally have a big flower garden, and he has a dog he loves, Jasper. Now he just needs one thing to complete his happiness: a family of his own to make up for the one he never had.
Forrester and Kyle’s relationship starts off hot and heavy, and neither man can deny the depth of their connection. When Forrester’s little brother gets mixed up with their heroin-dealing cousin and his mother falls ill, Forrester has a decision to make—maybe the hardest of his life. For the first time, he’s found a man worth coming out for.

Unfortunately nothing ever goes according to plan with la famiglia.

Enjoy an Exclusive Excerpt

Forrester woke to a strange snoring sound, disoriented. The silken sheets beneath his body felt nice but unfamiliar. His ass was tender, but he was warm all over. It took a moment for his brain to catch up to his environment.

You’re at Kyle’s.

He stretched languidly in the bed, his feet reaching for the coolness below. They’d left the light on, and he blinked several times, then rolled over with a dopey grin to wake up the snoring Kyle for another round.

Instead, he was nose-to-nose with the bug-eyed Jasper.

The instant the dog noticed him, he snorted and lunged, head-butting him in the face as he licked him.

“Hey!” He jerked out of the dog’s reach, but the insane little animal jumped on his chest and licked him right on the mouth. Then he ricocheted away.

“You little twerp,” he growled, whipping dog drool off his face. But Jasper had already leaped from the bed and dashed out of the room.

“Jasper,” Kyle hissed in reprimand from the doorway. “Don’t wake him up.”

“Too late.” Forrester sat up in the bed and squinted.

Kyle entered the room naked, tiptoeing as though trying not to wake Forrester. When he spied him already awake, he gave him an apologetic smile. “Sorry, he was whining downstairs.”

Jasper jumped on the bed, the carcass of a squeaky toy in his mouth. “You know what time it is, ya crazy dog?”

“Jasper.” Kyle lunged for his dog, the action making his penis waggle. But the little terrier leaped out of his grasp, and Kyle landed flat on the bed. Jasper raced around the room like it was playtime. Kyle groaned, and Forrester laughed at the picture they made.

Jasper jumped back up on the bed and crouched down, jutting his nubby tail in the air. The little canine’s energy seemed endless.

“Man, you are one hyper dog,” he observed. “What do you feed him, Kyle? Caffeine?”

“No, all Bostons are like that.” Kyle sat back on his haunches on the center of the bed, watching his dog shake the gutted toy madly. “Mom and I used to show them. Jasper’s grandma, Tanika, was the last dog we showed. After Mom died, I found out one of Tanika’s pups was having her last litter, so that’s how I got Jasper. His markings weren’t show-perfect, so they had him fixed. I kinda wish he wasn’t, so I could carry on our dogs’ lineage.”

The longing to maintain a connection with his lost parent tore at Forrester’s heartstrings. “C’mere.” He held out his arms for Kyle to cuddle up.

With a grateful smile, Kyle slipped beneath the covers and tucked under his arm. They waited for Jasper to reach the conclusion bedtime had arrived. After rooting up the blankets and a pillow, he curled into a ball, and let out a snorting sigh.

“I hope you don’t mind, Jasper sleeps in here with me. I only leave him in his kennel when I’m at work.” Kyle shifted to face Forrester. “He’s my ears when I sleep.”

“Really?”

He nodded. “Yes, he wakes me up if he hears something. Someone at the door, noises. Or even if my phone or my alarm clock goes off.”

“Like a hearing-ear dog? Is there such a thing?”

“Yes, there is,” Kyle assured him, sitting up and removing his processor. He took the top piece off the curved part and placed it in a glass bowl on his nightstand. Then he looked back at Forrester. “He’s not formally trained, but Jasper knows when I can and can’t hear, and he helps me.”

Forrester studied the wild little pooch, impressed.

“I think he can hear when my CI is working,” Kyle said. “But then again, dogs are incredibly intuitive. We had another dog like that when I was little. Frieda would bump me when someone tried to get my attention. She even snapped at people who got too close to me when my Mom wasn’t looking or if I was sleeping.”

“So Jasper might bite me if I molest you in your sleep?”

He raised his brow in a warning expression. “He just might.”

“I promise to be on my best behavior.”

Kyle cocked his head to the side, expression unreadable, but he said nothing.

It suddenly struck Forrester how much trust Kyle placed in him, inviting him to stay when he was at his most vulnerable. It touched Forrester, and he did not take the gesture lightly.

Leaning over, he cupped Kyle’s face in both of his hands. Kyle flinched, but then Forrester kissed him slow and deep. When he withdrew, Kyle was smiling dreamily.

“Thank you for trusting me. Letting me stay. You don’t have to worry,” Forrester assured him. “Jasper and I will both be your ears.”

Those hazel eyes widened. Then Kyle nodded, reached behind him, and clicked off the light.

About the Author: Deanna Wadsworth might be a bestselling erotica author, but she leads a pretty vanilla life in Ohio with her wonderful husband and a couple adorable cocker spaniels. She has been spinning tales and penning stories since childhood, and her first erotic novella was published in 2010. She has served multiple board positions for different RWA chapters, including President of the Rainbow Romance Writers in 2017. When she isn’t writing books or brainstorming with friends, you can find her making people gorgeous in a beauty salon. An avid reader, she also loves gardening, cooking, music, and dancing. Often she can be seen hanging out on the sandbar in the muddy Maumee River or chilling with her hubby and a cocktail in their basement bar. In between all that fun, Deanna cherishes the quiet times when she can let her wildly active imagination have the full run of her mind. Her fascination with people and the interworkings of their relationships have always inspired her to write romance with spice and love without boundaries.

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You can also find her young adult alter ego, K.D. Worth FacebookTwitter

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That Rat, Carter Janson by Amy Spector – Guest Blog and Giveaway


Long and Short Reviews welcomes Amy Spector who is celebrating the recent release of That Rat, Carter Janson. Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of the book.

Hello, everyone! This is Amy Spector. I’m excited to be here today on Long and Short Reviews to share little bit about myself, about my new release from Dreamspinner Press, and to give someone a chance to win a copy of That Rat, Carter Janson.

I have always been a huge reader, so I thought it would be fun to share my Top 5 Favorite Books of all time!

1. American Gods by Neil Gaiman – I have loved Neil Gaiman, ever since stumbling across back issues of The Sandman comic book back in college. But of all his novels, American Gods is by far my favorite. At least so far.

2. Dracula by Bram Stoker – This is one of those books I try to make time to reread every few years. My love of the books also has me watching every movie adaption I can find, too.

3. The Count of Monte Christo by Alexandre Dumas — I love stories of revenge. I always remind my husband of this. LOL

4. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson — Jackson has inspired so many horror writers for a reason. And this particular book, with the POV of someone slowingly succumbing to madness? Possession? It’s brilliant.

5. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens — I’m a huge Dickens fan, but I have a certain weakness for this particular story. A beautiful story of redemption and Christmas.

There you have it! My Top 5 Favorite Books of all time! What are some of yours?

Every man has secrets, but some are bigger than others….

Felix Peake escaped a shady past to carve out a successful career as an expert in Mesopotamian art and gain the respect of the Chicago art community. But when an assistant curator—a man Felix could easily see himself falling for—asks him to reauthenticate a cuneiform tablet to avoid a looming scandal, Felix’s carefully constructed life could crumble.

The tablet is a fake, and Felix is intimately familiar with the artist. Master forger Carter Janson—Felix’s ex and first love—disappeared from his life six years before without a word of explanation. Now, to hold his world together, Felix must find the original tablet, steal it back, and replace the forgery—all before the museum exhibit debuts. It’ll mean slipping back into a role Felix wanted to leave behind and risking his promising future. But even then, he can’t do it alone. He’ll have to confront that rat, Carter Janson.

States of Love: Stories of love that span every corner of the United States.

About the Author:

High heel stileto ruby shoes or slippers

Amy Spector grew up in the United States surviving on a steady diet of old horror movies, television reruns, and mystery novels.

After years of blogging about comic books, vintage Gothic romance book cover illustrations, and a shameful amount about herself, she decided to try her hand at writing stories. She found it more than a little like talking about herself in third person, and that suited her just fine.

She blames Universal for her love of horror, Edward Gorey for her love of British Drama and writing for awakening the romantic that was probably there all along.

Amy lives in the Midwest with her husband, children, and her cats Bowie and Poe.

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Bases Loaded by Sean Michael – Guest Blog


Long and Short Reviews welcomes Sean Michael who is visiting with us today to celebrate not only the release of his newest book but also another special day!

~~~~~~

Thank you to LASR for hosting me today – on my birthday!

One of the characters in Bases Loaded is Cajun to the bone and it was a lot of fun peppering his language with Cajun terms. As it’s my birthday today, I thought I’d look up a Cajun cake recipe that Jean might possibly make for me.

I found this one at AllRecipes and it sounds yummy.

Ingredients

Cake
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 (20 ounce) can crushed pineapple with juice

Topping:
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup margarine
1 cup chopped pecans
1 1/2 cups flaked coconut

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9×13-inch pan.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, 1 1/2 cup sugar, salt and baking soda. Add eggs, pineapple, and juice. Mix at low speed until well blended.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven until a tester comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Have the topping ready when the cake comes out of the oven.

To Make Topping: In a saucepan, combine milk, 3/4 cup sugar, and margarine. Bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add pecans and coconut and combine. Remove from heat.

When cake comes out of the oven, pour on the topping and carefully spread on while cake is still hot.

I hope you like the cake if you try it, and I especially hope you like the boys from Bases Loaded!

Sean Michael
smut fixes everything

Can they survive the off-season and keep from striking out?

Baseball player Brett must get rehabilitation for his shoulder if he wants another season in the Major League. He and his partner, Benj, take off to the boonies to stay with physical therapist Ralph, a tough-talking, routine-setting guy, and Jean, Ralph’s Cajun lover, who cooks as well as he loves.

Brett and Ralph butt heads from the beginning. Ralph wants Brett to be more in touch with his feelings; Brett wants Ralph to give him his therapy and leave him alone. Benj and Jean get along far better, with Jean showing Benj around the kitchen and reassuring him when things with Brett get strained.

Before Ralph can even begin to work on Brett’s shoulder, though, Brett faces an even more difficult physical challenge, one that does more than threaten his career. He and Benj have to work through some tough issues, making decisions that will affect the rest of their lives together. Their gradual friendship with Ralph and Jean helps them through the bad times, but even that might not be enough to pull them through.

About the Author: Best-selling author Sean Michael is a maple leaf–loving Canadian who spends hours hiding out in used book stores. With far more ideas than time, Sean keeps several documents open at all times. From romance to fantasy, paranormal and sci-fi, Sean is limited only by the need for sleep—and the periodic Beaver Tail.

Sean fantasizes about one day retiring on a secluded island populated entirely by horseshoe crabs after inventing a brain-to-computer dictation system. Until then, Sean will continue to write the old-fashioned way.

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