Godsend by Elvira Bell – Spotlight and Giveaway

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Elvira Bell who is celebrating the recent release of Godsend. Enter and get a FREE romance book from the author!

Ari and Vidar are Viking warriors and blood brothers. Will handsome thrall Elric break their bond…or make it even stronger?

When young Saxon Elric is sold to Norse slave traders, he thinks that his life is over. He is brought across the sea to the settlement of the Norsemen and becomes the chief’s thrall, and neither the chief nor the warriors are lenient with him. Two of the warriors are different, though—Ari and Vidar. Elric senses that their bond goes beyond mere friendship, and wishes that he himself had someone who would care for him.

Ari and Vidar have been lovers for years, but they have to sneak away whenever they want to be together. Vidar is next in line to be leader, as the chief’s nephew, but he’s shy and insecure and only feels at home on the battlefield. Ari looks different than the other warriors, since his mother was of foreign descent, and he’s had to learn how to stand up for himself.

The two of them are blood brothers, linked together forever, but even though they are lovers they can’t go against the taboo that prohibits free men from being passive during sex. Ari feels that something is lacking, and Elric’s arrival gives him an idea—what if they invited Elric to join them in bed? The thought excites him, and Elric himself seems eager to please.

The only question is how Ari is supposed to get Vidar to agree to letting another man into their relationship…

Enjoy an Excerpt

“It’s coming, lad. Your first day as a free man.”

Hrodgar’s heavy hand slapped Elric’s shoulder. His grin was as wide as when he’d told Elric about the birth of his youngest child.

“I know.” Elric smiled back. He’d be embarrassed to admit just how often he’d studied the lone apple tree behind the byre this spring. Not that Hrodgar would find it odd—Hrodgar was the one who had struck that deal with him, after all, that balmy night five years ago when he’d found Elric stealing from his crops. Elric had no trouble recalling the strong, burly farmer grabbing him by the neck and shaking him so hard that the carrots he’d hidden under his tunic fell to the ground. “What do you think you’re doing? I could kill you for trying to steal from me. I have the right.” Elric had cried and begged for his life, exhausted by fatigue and hunger and that hollow pain in his chest that had been there ever since his parents died. He’d only been fifteen, a half-grown boy who had never stolen before. And Hrodgar had sighed and made him a proposition. “Stop your crying now, all right? I won’t hurt you, if you agree to become my slave for five years. After that, you’ll have paid for what you’ve done and you’ll be free to go. Five years from now, on the day when the apple tree blossoms.” He had nodded to a large tree outside the field—even in the dusk, Elric had seen the white flowers shine like stars. He’d agreed, and Hrodgar had become his master.

But not for much longer. It had been almost five years. The crown of the apple tree was exploding with flower buds.

“Strange,” Hrodgar said, shooing away some crows. “To think that you’ll be gone soon.” They were at the edge of the field, the barley tickling Elric’s hands when he touched it. They’d been getting plenty of both sun and rain this summer—it would be a good harvest. A bearable winter.

But he wouldn’t be here for it. “I could stay until the harvest’s all done and—”

Hrodgar shook his head. His hair was like polished copper, thick and wavy. “No such thing. A deal’s a deal. If you’ll come with me to the market tomorrow, that’s good enough. Make sure the chickens stay in their place until I’ve found a buyer for them.”

* * * *

They left for Bristol the next morning. Hilda was unusually kind, handing Elric a piece of fresh bread to eat on the way. Hrodgar’s wife had never spoken much to him, though she seemed to appreciate having him in the house. Her children were too young to be of much help and working the field was hard. It would be years before they could help their father out.

No, Hilda had always had little to do with him—but Hrodgar was different. In a way, Elric thought of him as a friend. What would have become of him if Hrodgar hadn’t taken him in? He’d had no one to turn to. In Hrodgar’s household he was a servant, certainly, but he ate with the family and slept on a sheepskin by the hearth. It was a better life than the one his parents had been able to give him. The work had made him strong, though he’d never be big and threatening like Hrodgar, and Hilda’s food had put a bit of meat on his bones. In those five years his body had transformed. He was still slender, but his hands were tan and veiny like a man’s, and when he flexed his arms they swelled with muscle. Just like Hrodgar’s.

“Going to be a fine day.” Hrodgar wiped his brow and called for the oxen to move faster. “Plenty of people in town, I should think.”

Elric had been to Bristol Market many times, and he was excited about the trip. Before he’d come to Hrodgar’s house, the only people he’d met were his parents and a couple of neighboring families. His first visit to Bristol had been a shock. There weren’t that many houses, but the people had been far more than he could count—merchants trading their goods and buyers eager to get their hands on livestock, pelts, jewelry and fancy garments. Some of the merchants spoke in strange tongues, and when Elric had asked Hrodgar where they were from, he’d shrugged.

“From all over the world, but do you think I know what they call their lands? Some of them are from the north, though, from lands of eternal snow. You and I wouldn’t survive a day in a place like that.”

Now Hrodgar handed him the reins and reached for the pack by his feet. “Best eat before we get there.” He brought a sweet-smelling loaf to his mouth and chewed off a chunk. Elric reached into his pocket and had a taste of his own bread. It was so soft that his teeth sank into it—he’d never had anything better. All the bread he’d eaten before had been stale and dry.

“Hilda must’ve meant to give this to you.” He glanced at Hrodgar, who wiped crumbs from his beard without looking at him. “It’s much too nice for me.”

“Oh, maybe she did.” Hrodgar grinned, still without meeting his gaze. “But you have it.” When he reached for the reins, his warm hand landed on top of Elric’s. Hrodgar pulled away as if he’d been burned. For the remainder of the trip, he was oddly quiet, and Elric wondered if maybe it had something to do with their hands touching. Ever since he had joined Hrodgar’s household, he’d felt a tingling in his chest every time the other man spoke to him. At first he’d thought it was pure childish admiration, nothing more. By now he knew better. They’d spent every day of the last five years together—alone in the field all day, then sometimes heading down to the brook on hot summer evenings to rinse off the sweat. The image of Hrodgar’s brawny, hairy body was etched into his mind. And he had thought, more than once, about the fact that he was a slave and that he had to do whatever Hrodgar asked of him. Including sharing his bed.

Hrodgar had never requested it. But if he’d asked, Elric wouldn’t have refused.

They reached Bristol some hours later and Hrodgar found a place for his cart in the crammed street. There were people and animals everywhere and the smell of dung mixed with that of roasted meat and beer. And something else, a smell that seemed to whisper to Elric from far away—tar from the huge, slender ships anchored by the shore.

“Watch the goods for me, will you?” Hrodgar seemed hurried, and when he squeezed Elric’s shoulder, his grip was painfully hard. “Just going to… I’ll be back soon.” He disappeared into the crowd. Off to take a leak, probably—but when he wasn’t back a long while later, Elric got worried. He hadn’t been robbed, had he? Part of him wanted to go and check what had happened, but he couldn’t leave the cart.

Then, finally, Hrodgar returned. He was with some men in strange clothing—it took a while before Elric recognized them as Norsemen. They were all bearded, with heavy woolen cloaks and cloak pins that shone in the sunlight. One of the men was older than the rest, with long gray hair and steely eyes. Hrodgar discussed something with him, both of them gesturing wildly. What was that about? Why would the Norsemen have any interest in a simple farmer’s goods?

“Hrodgar!” Elric called when the men were within earshot. “What’s going on? Are they giving you trouble?”

Hrodgar exchanged a look with the gray-haired Norseman, then made a gesture in Elric’s direction. Before he had time to realize what was happening, Elric was seized by two young Norsemen and his hands were tied behind his back.

“What—help! Hrodgar, help me!”

Hrodgar looked at him. His face was empty, as if they’d never met. “I’m sorry,” he said, but there was no emotion behind his words. Turning to the gray-haired man, he said, “Silver. You promised me silver and I want it now.”

The gray-haired man called out a command and another man came forward with a leather pouch that he put in Hrodgar’s outstretched palm. It wasn’t until then that Elric understood. He’d been sold. Hrodgar had sold him to slave traders.

“You bastard!” Tears of rage stung his eyes as the Norsemen dragged him through the crowd, away from Hrodgar and the cart. “You lying bastard!” He kicked and thrashed. The Norsemen laughed, shoving him between them like a plaything, talking in their twisted language.

He was their slave. And he would never see Hrodgar again.

About the Author Elvira Bell lives in Sweden and spends most of her time writing, reading or watching movies. Her weaknesses include, but are not limited to: vintage jazz, musicals, kittens, oversized tea cups, men in suits, the 18th century, and anything sparkly.

Elvira writes m/m romance and has a penchant for historical settings. She adores all things gothic and will put her characters through hell from time to time because she just loves watching them suffer. It makes the happy endings so much sweeter, after all.

Website | Goodreads

Buy the book at your favorite online venue or First for Romance.


The Billionaire and the Escort by Evelyn Mahony – Spotlight and Giveaway

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Evelyn Mahony who is celebrating the recent release of The Billionaire and the Escort. Enter to win a fabulous gift package and get a First For Romance Gift Card!

In the world of high-end escorts, getting personal is never part of the arrangement.

When Josh Roberts became a male escort, there was no room for emotions. They went against the job description. He had a full appointment book and enough clients to pay the bills. There was definitely no time to get attached to an older, extremely successful, incredibly gorgeous man who paid for his services.

But Josh can’t turn down the money that has started rolling in, along with the gifts and the opportunity to live in the lap of luxury as the man flies him around the world to play pretend as his boyfriend. How on earth is he supposed to say no? Especially once he starts falling for his client.

James Barnwell is the successful CEO of Winter Luxury Resorts who stumbled upon Josh Roberts in a dark, high-end bar in midtown Manhattan. The young man was cocky, young, beautiful and offered James exactly what he was looking for—the chance to be with a man who knew the ropes and offered no opportunity to get attached. James had a lucrative business to run and meetings all over the world to attend. Having someone by his side would just weigh him down—or so he thinks, until he finds himself caring deeply for the man he pays for companionship, and it completely changes his world.

Two men are trying to play make believe—until they realize their sham might be closer to reality than they thought.

Enjoy an Excerpt

The bar wasn’t too busy for a Friday night. Soulful jazz filled the air of the midtown Manhattan hot spot that attracted wealthy businessmen and young, single, gold-digging women. Not many people came here unless they were looking to settle a big business deal or celebrate one—or, of course, if they were looking for one of those drunk, happy, successful men to take them home.

Which was why Josh Roberts was here tonight. He didn’t necessarily belong there. He wasn’t on Wall Street, wasn’t a millionaire, wasn’t a CEO or even someone who worked for a CEO. No, he was a college graduate with an art degree…and a booming business as an escort.

He hadn’t always been an escort. It was a fairly new profession he’d taken up by accident. It was a strange story to tell someone he didn’t know, and honestly, the industry was so hush hush that not many asked. But he didn’t mind getting paid for taking people out and sleeping with them. It had been odd at first, but it paid the bills—and beyond—and he was good at it now. He had a pretty full calendar, already booked a month out with regulars who took very good care of him financially. At twenty-four years old, he was well on his way to paying off his school loans and saving for the art gallery he hoped to open one day. And he was able to help pay his mother’s mortgage on the Brooklyn townhouse he’d grown up in. That alone made it worth it.

His mother didn’t know what he did—of course she didn’t. She couldn’t. He wouldn’t allow her to refuse his money. He didn’t live at home anymore, but she was his only family. He couldn’t risk losing or disappointing her. She was beyond supportive and would give him the benefit of any doubt…unless she knew he was being paid for sex. She wouldn’t be able to understand that. And honestly…sometimes he wasn’t sure he did. But it was satisfying his bank account, keeping food on the table, a roof over his head and more—so he kept it up. His art couldn’t pay him the way this could.

As he leaned against the end of the long mahogany bar, he surveyed the men in attendance, sipping his Old Fashioned. He wasn’t too much of a drinker and he needed to keep his wits about him when he was working—especially in a place like this. Class meant everything.

There weren’t many options this particular evening. Josh had a way of seeking out the ones who might be susceptible to his services. He worked with a lot of referrals, but tonight he’d been open and available, so he’d decided to head out and offer his services to someone in need of a good time. So far, that hadn’t been playing out too well for him. Most of the men were older, wearing rings or a little too drunk for Josh’s liking.

His gaze settled on a handsome guy in the middle of the bar who was sitting with a pretty blonde woman to his right. When Josh had first watched them, the man had been engaged as the woman had approached. He’d offered her a smile and invited her to join him.

That had been about an hour ago, however, and now the man looked somewhat tortured. He’d downed three Scotches in that time frame and was asking the bartender for another. A man in a suit stood a few feet behind him, but Josh suspected he was security of some sort, as that man had an earpiece and hadn’t had a drink all night. It made Josh curious as he watched, wondering who the guy was and why he’d need security in a bar like this. And if the man standing behind him was security, how come he wasn’t saving him from the ditz currently droning on and on about some nail polish line?

Josh finished his drink and was about to pay his tab and try his luck elsewhere when the blonde excused herself. He couldn’t hear if she would be gone for a minute or for the night, but he watched the guy’s shoulders sag slightly in what looked like relief as soon as she was a few feet away. Josh had a moment to make up his mind. Give it a shot or head out…?

The man was beautiful, about six feet tall with thick, dark hair that matched his beard. Even in the dim light, Josh could tell his temples were graying. It was a good look on the guy…fitting. Josh could see laugh lines around his eyes, no ring, a royal blue suit with a white shirt underneath and no tie. He was well dressed but not stuffy.

Josh glanced down at his own chocolate-brown three-piece suit. Being so young, he had to overcompensate to fit in. But for the man across the bar, the unbuttoned collar of his white shirt and the playful mid-range blue of his suit gave off the opposite feel, and it worked well for him. Is he into men? Josh couldn’t tell from where he stood. But he was visibly bored of his female companion, so Josh took a chance and headed his way.

“That looked brutal,” he remarked as he stood a barstool’s distance away from the man. The guy peered up at Josh with a raised eyebrow, taking Josh by surprise.

“Was I fakin’ it poorly?” The attractive man—even more attractive up close than he had been from across the bar—winced with a half-smile. Josh glanced up at the woman over his head, watching her gait slow as she returned from the direction of the restroom and saw Josh standing in her place.

“Well, she’s coming back, if that helps you feel any better about your acting skills.” His new companion cursed under his breath and took a long swig from the rocks’ glass.

“Maybe she’ll think we’re talkin’ business and find someone else to talk to?” He looked up at Josh, questioning, and he raked his gaze subtly over Josh’s suit. He wasn’t sizing Josh up. He was actually looking him over. Josh felt a little proud as he pretended not to notice. “Need a drink?”

“Sure.” Josh took the invitation coolly to avoid seeming eager and settled into the seat the woman had occupied before him. Her expression was clearly one of annoyance, but he watched her turn to find another rich man to fawn over. Phew. “Old Fashioned. Rocks. Thanks.”

The man nodded and quickly grabbed the bartender’s attention. Drink ordered, he turned back to Josh, seemingly still curious. “Nice suit.”

“Thank you.” Josh couldn’t stop the flush that heated his cheeks. Compliments always did him in, especially when the man was looking at him with those haunting steel eyes in a way that Josh hardly ever noticed his own clients looking at him.

“I appreciate you saving me,” he began, settling his gaze on Josh’s face. Josh held his look with the smallest of smiles. “Not many men would do that. They’d probably just enjoy watching me be miserable.” He huffed a laugh, and raised one side of his lips in a true half smile. “It’s not that she was a terrible gal or anything. She just…isn’t my type.” The way he said it gave Josh everything he needed to know to push on with his own agenda.

“I couldn’t bear to watch you sit through another monologue about wearing blue nail polish in the fall.” Josh mimicked her slightly, and he was pleased when the attractive man chuckled. He sipped his beverage, thoughtful. “Don’t like small blondes?” Josh then asked, licking his lips and savoring the taste of his new drink. He said it a little teasingly but was surprised when the guy just looked toward him and eyed him up and down slowly.

“I think I prefer them…bigger.” He didn’t sound so sure as he responded, and Josh had to wonder what that meant. Josh was, of course, blond, but he couldn’t be referring to him… Could he?

“You think?” Josh pressed, tilting his head as he regarded the man.

“Well, they’re usually her size, but I’m thinking of trying something new these days…”

Oh. Well, that was an interesting development. Josh hadn’t expected this to go so well.

The guy toyed with his rocks’ glass, spinning it in his fingers before turning completely to look at Josh, his body now sideways. Josh leaned against the bar, facing the man the same way. “Josh Roberts.” He extended his hand with a slight smile, roaming his eyes around the man’s gorgeous face.

The guy took Josh’s hand in a firm shake with zero hesitation. “James Barnwell… A pleasure to meet you, Josh.” He gave Josh a half smile of his own, and Josh couldn’t get past how beautiful the man was—one of his more handsome endeavors, for sure.

“So you’re looking to try something new?” Josh decided not to beat around the bush now. He’d go right in for the kill. James nodded with a lick to his sinful bottom lip. Josh wouldn’t mind kissing it. He definitely wouldn’t mind.

“I’ve uh… I don’t have any experience, but it’s been on my mind for a while.” James seemed slightly nervous now, but Josh wanted to reassure him there was no need. He gave Josh a look that was almost adorably unsure. Josh couldn’t help his own confident grin.

“Well, as it happens, I’m very well versed in such activities.” He nibbled on his bottom lip, tilting his chin down and looking up at Barnwell through his lashes. He wanted this sale, wanted to show this man a good time—especially now, knowing he’d never been with another man before. It became a challenge that spoke to Josh’s competitive soul.

About the AuthorEvelyn has been writing since middle school, constantly getting lost in creating a whole other world (usually loosely based on a fandom of some kind) and falling in love with those characters. An avid reader, she never leaves home without a well-worn book and a notepad for thoughts. She writes almost entirely on her phone, because it’s small and easy to pull out at a moment’s notice, when the idea for a scene hits. As the wife of a busy husband and as the mother of a young daughter, two big dogs, and a horse, there’s not always designated writing time. Writing is her passion and whenever she finds a window of free time, that’s what she’s doing!

Website | Instagram | Goodreads | First for Romance

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The Player by Joe Cosentino – Q&A and Giveaway

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Joe Cosentino who is celebrating the recent release of the first book in his new series, Player Piano Mysteries, The Player. Post a comment here on what you love about a ghostly romantic mystery. Freddy and Andre’s favorite will win a Dreamspinner Press backlist e-copy by Joe Cosentino of your choice!

Joe, wecome back and congratulations on the release of The Player. Time to play. 🙂
How did you become a storyteller?

My mother says I tell tall tales—and she’s right! I’ve always had a wild imagination. My parents always feared what I’d make up and tell neighbors about them. And they still do! I appropriately majored in theatre at college. Then I went on to act opposite stars like Rosie O’Donnell (AT&T industrial), Nathan Lane (Roar of the Greasepaint musical onstage), Bruce Willis (A Midsummer Night’s Dream onstage), Charles Keating (NBC’s Another World), Jason Robards (Commercial Credit computer commercial), and Holland Taylor (ABC’s My Mother Was Never a Kid TV movie). Finally, I began writing plays and ultimately writing novels. Since I’m a cozy mystery reading fanatic, and there are so few gay cozy mystery series out there, I was happy to fill the bill—or in this new novel, the pinstriped suit.

How do you find the time to be a college professor/department head and do all this writing?

I’m a night owl, so I write late into the night.

Where do you write?

In a very cozy environment! My home study (very much like Martin Anderson’s office in my Nicky and Noah Mysteries) includes a fireplace with a cherry wood mantel and a cherry wood desk and bookcase. I also have a window seat beneath a large window/gateway to the woods.

Do you write an outline before each book?

For a mystery, an outline is imperative. It’s important to plot out all the clues and surprise reveals. I generally think of a great idea for a new book at 3 a.m. If I can remember it the next day, or read my notes on my night table, I draft the outline. Since I was an actor, I also write a character biography for each character. Then I close my eyes and let the magic happen. As I see the scenes in front of me like a movie and the characters start talking to each other in my head, I hit the computer. My spouse reads my second draft. After we argue, I write my third draft. The fourth draft is after notes from my editor.

Which other MM authors do you read?

All of them!

What have you learned about reviews?

I always encourage readers to post a reader rating and review on Amazon, Goodreads, and Audible. That’s how people find out about books. It’s like applauding for an actor at the curtain call. My reviews are generally very good. I don’t read the few negative reviews. If you don’t like a book, stop reading it after chapter one and read something else, rather than posting a low rating and mean review. Remember, folks, karma can be a bitch! What you put out there, you very well may get right back at you. Writers don’t do it for the money. We do it for the love of our books and our readers.

What advice do you have for unpublished writers?

Don’t listen to naysayers. Find the magic within yourself. Get in front of the computer and start writing your unique story. Don’t copy anyone. Write what you know and feel passionate about. Write every day. Don’t be afraid to take chances. When you have a story you think is perfect, ask someone you trust to read it. Then after doing another draft, email it to a publisher who has an open submissions policy and who publishes the kind of story you’ve written, or publish it yourself.

Is it hard to write comedy?

Not for me. I’ve always thought funny. I remember as an actor, directors telling me to stop making my scenes so funny. I didn’t realize I was doing it. I think I get this from my mother. For example, for Christmas one year my mother gave me a jacket and my sister a house. When I complained, she said, “But it’s a nice jacket.” Thanks, Mom!

Why do you write gay fiction?

Why not? LGBT people have many interesting untold stories. Go to a mall and look at the row of movie posters without any LGBT characters in them. Visit a bookstore and see cover after cover of opposite sex love stories. Take a look at so many of our political and so-called religious leaders who raise money and gain power by demonizing LGBT people and trying (and often succeeding) to take away civil rights under the guise of their “religious freedom.” I mourn for the young gay kids who consider suicide. So I support organizations like GLSEN, and I write stories that include LGBT people and themes. However, just as my Jana Lane series with its gay supporting characters has huge crossover appeal for gay people, the Nicky and Noah series with its LGBT leading characters and straight supporting characters has a tremendous amount of crossover appeal for straight people. I’m hoping the same will occur with The Player. Most people like a clever mystery, a sweet romance, and a good laugh, regardless of the sexuality of the characters.

The Player isn’t your first mystery series.

Right. After my Nicky and Noah Mysteries series won awards and became incredibly popular to my delight, readers asked if I had written a second LGBTQ mystery romance series. My Jana Lane Mysteries series could have fit the bill, however, the supporting rather than leading characters are LGBTQ in that series. So, The Player was born.

How did you create your leading character, the dazzling and captivating Freddy Birtwistle?

While walking through an antique shop upstate New York, I came across an old player piano. It was handcrafted from maple, mahogany, and spruce with an elaborate leaf pattern molding. In the center section stood the roll of pre-programmed music on perforated paper: George Gershwin’s “Someone to Watch Over Me” from 1926. While listening to the song, I couldn’t help imagining who might have owned the Pianola. Since player pianos were popular with the wealthy in the Roaring Twenties, I imagined the owner, like the piano, was a player and a socialite from a family who made their fortune in the railroad industry. I named him Freddy Birtwistle and envisioned him as tall and lean with slicked-back jet-black hair, violet eyes, high cheekbones, a thin nose, and rosy cheeks. True to the period, he was meticulously dressed in a pinstriped black suit and vest, white silk shirt, and gray suspenders with matching bowtie and silk pocket handkerchief. His shoes were shiny black patent leather with white spats. Even more interesting than my creation’s looks and wardrobe was his alluring and joyous bon vivant personality. I decided Freddy socialized with the rich and famous of his time, and at thirty years old, he was shot by a misinformed jealous husband. An eternal partier, poor Freddy had died having never found true love.

Is this your first book featuring a character who is a ghost?

Yes! My popular Tales from Fairyland series (The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland and Holiday Tales from Fairyland) includes fantasy LGBTQ characters, but the stories are my comic gay spins on classic fairytales. And my Cozzi Cove series includes LGBTQ characters in romantic and mysterious situations that border on fantasy, but that highly praised series is more of an LGBTQ romance serial. So, the time has come for Freddy Birtwistle in The Player!

Is the story told through Freddy’s perspective?

No, my central character is twenty-five-year old Andre Beaufort. He’s described as being tall and thin with a cut body, amber eyes, dark hair, milk chocolate complexion, and a bubble butt. Andre is a grade school music teacher who finds the player piano in the basement of his apartment building. By pedaling it and playing famous songs of the Roaring Twenties, Andre brings back the ghost of Freddy, the original owner of the house before it was converted into apartments.

Do Freddy and Andre fall instantly in love?

Not exactly. The two get off to a rocky start, but eventually they find their way into each other’s hearts.

How do they become a ghostly Holmes and earthbound Watson?

Part I: The City House takes place in Hoboken, New Jersey. When Andre’s neighbor, a beautiful woman of mystery, is murdered in the building, Andre must protect his aunt, his best buddy, and himself by joining with Freddy (who only Andre can see—leading to comical misunderstandings) to catch the murderer. In Part II: The Country House, Andre travels to Freddy’s old country home in Cold Spring, New York, which has become a bed and breakfast. Andre discovers a player piano there as well, which joyously brings Freddy to him there. When the owner of the inn is murdered, the game is afoot again, and Andre and Freddy solve their second murder mystery as they continue to fall deeper in love.

What’s special about this book?

The two stories include sexy characters, cozy settings from the Art Deco period, my unique sense of humor, surprising plot twists and turns, fun red herrings, a touch of drama, a shocking yet justifiable ending, and of course lots of sweet romance.

Why two parts?

Since my readers are so loyal and wonderful, I decided to offer them a special gift with The Player. It is actually two books for the price of one!

Who are the supporting characters in The Player?

In Part I, Andre’s protective Aunt Nia manages Andre’s apartment building. His best buddy, Victor Martinez, is an actor who gets excited about a commercial audition to play a hemorrhoid. Victor enters into a love affair with cross-dressing lawyer Alexander Popov, the murder victim’s twin brother. The victim’s husband, sexy mystery author Denis Sokolov, just happens to write a novel that mirrors the murder. Hunky and sexy college film professor Leander Bryce enjoys exercising in his skivvies at the window while Andre watches. Milo Archer, a college student with a crush on Andre, wants to start a revolution. Hot personal trainer Hunter Buck and gorgeous grade school vice principal with a secret Preston Steele complete the list of suspects, all of whom share a secret past with the victim, including the police detective, Takoda Shawnee.

And in the second story?

Evangelical ex-judge Cynthia Butler Russell, the owner of the bed and breakfast originally owned by Freddy’s family when it was a mansion, is murdered in her office. The suspects include Cynthia’s straying husband Jim, her envious and comically alcoholic sister Sherry, Cynthia’s gorgeous gay son Nelson, Nelson’s muscular lover Sergio, and Sergio’s PFLAG mother Renata. While staying at the inn, Andre befriends Gabriel, an adorable sleepwalking architect. Andre also meets Zian, a cute painter who desires Gabriel, and Dustin Kelly, the tall detective hiding an interesting secret.

Who is your favorite character?

That’s like asking a parent for the name of their favorite child, though my parents would have no problem naming my sister (smile). If I have to choose, I’ll say Freddy. His upbeat attitude and spirit (no pun intended) are glorious. As Freddy might say, he’s a real lalapazaza!

Which character do you like the least?

Cynthia Butler Russell chooses the hate of her restrictive religion over the love of her son. There’s not much to like in that.

Which character was the hardest to write?

Freddy’s comical stories about his past with celebrities from his era were fun to write, but they required a great deal of research and imagination.

Which character is the sexiest?
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Quite a few of them are hotsy-totsy, as Freddy would say. I’ll pick Preston Steele. After people read the novel, they’ll know why.

How are the stories cozy?

They take place in Art Deco environments with fireplaces, turrets, window seats, balconies, and comfy chaises and armchairs opposite gorgeous murals, wallpaper, and statues. The windows sport views of the glistening Hudson River and sun-kissed mountains.

You were born in New Jersey, and you currently live upstate New York. Did that play a part in selecting your locations for The Player?

Absolutely. As Freddy would say, those places are Ell’s hips!

How can your readers get their hands on The Player?

The purchase links are below.

Will there be more Player novels?

The Player’s Encore, the Player Piano Mysteries book 2, will be released next year.

Thank you, Joe, for interviewing today.

My pleasure. In the words of Freddy Birtwistle, “You’re a blue Serge!”

I hope everyone will give The Player a play. I’m sure, like Andre, you will fall in love with Freddy and have a great deal of fun trying to solve the mysteries. And I love to hear from readers. So drop me a line at my website.

When young music teacher Andre Beaufort discovers an antique player piano in the basement of his apartment building, he is visited by the ghost of the original owner: a dapper and charismatic playboy from the Roaring Twenties, Freddy Birtwistle.

Andre has never seen a ghost and Freddy has never been one, so they get off to a rocky start. But when Andre finds his neighbor murdered on his doorstep, he and Freddy join forces to narrow the pool of suspects.

Soon Andre and Freddy discover that opposites attract, even if one’s alive and the other dead. Together these amateur detectives make an enticing team, and it’s a good thing too, because the first murder they solve together won’t be their last. But the real mystery isn’t just whodunit—it’s how a romance between a man and a ghost can have a happily ever after ending.

The Player contains two stand-alone cozy murder mysteries, The City House and The Country House.

Praise for Joe Cosentino’s Books:

“Joe Cosentino has a unique and fabulous gift. His writing is flawless…will have you guessing until the very last page, which makes his books a joy to read. His books are worth their weight in gold, and if you haven’t discovered them yet you are in for a rare treat.” Divine Magazine

“adventure, mystery, and romance with every page….Funny, clever, and sweet.” Urban Book Reviews

“The author executed his storyline with a marvelous precision that would be the envy of many authors. He draws the readers into the lives of his characters, they become real and in turn, their emotions becomes yours….If you can only afford to buy one more book this year, buy this one.” Three Books Over the Rainbow Reviews

“I really loved this book and having an ending that made me laugh and cry at the same time is testament to the brilliant writing.” BooksLaidBareBoys

Enjoy an Excerpt

THE PLAYER piano stood upright, demanding my attention and beckoning me toward it. Having an MA in Music, specializing in the Roaring Twenties era, I could tell it was a genuine pianola authentic to the period. It was handcrafted from maple, mahogany, and spruce with an elaborate leaf-pattern molding. Aunt Nia stood next to me in the corner of the basement with her hand planted firmly on her ample hip. Her familiar scent of coconut soap permeated my senses.

“Andre Beaufort, are you going to stare at that dusty old piano while the entire apartment building floats into the Hudson River?” My aunt missed her calling as an actress.

“How long has this pianola been here?” I asked.

“I’d say since the year of the flood, but with this leaky pipe, I don’t want to tempt the fates.” She handed me a roll of Teflon duct tape, led me to the ladder, and pushed me by my behind up to the top. “You get that bubble butt from my side.” She giggled.

My father, French Canadian, and my mother, African American, had died with my baby brother in a car crash when I was four years old. My mom’s sister had raised me ever since in the building she managed, an Art Deco mansion converted into an apartment building. I had lived in apartment 1B with Aunt Nia until my twenty-first birthday. For the last four years, I’ve exerted my independence and lived on my own—in apartment 3A—a walk-up that keeps my legs toned and my inherited butt firm. As I ripped a piece of thick tape off the roll, I asked Aunt Nia, “Shouldn’t you call a plumber?”

“I did, but he’s booked until the end of July.” Looking authoritarian in her peach ankara maxi dress and matching bib collar necklace, Aunt Nia announced, “The tape should hold for a month.”

“Is that all right with the owner of the building?”

“Who knows?”

“How can you work for someone you’ve never met?”

Still beautiful at fifty-five, Aunt Nia shook her head, and long dreads formed a halo around her smooth face. “I get my monthly check, and the bills are paid. So Florida’s Tzar Me In Corporation is all good by me.”

“But shouldn’t they know about this?”

“What the owner doesn’t know won’t hurt him—or me. I’ll email ‘office’ about it.”

I wrapped the tape around the pipe and the leak stopped. “Maybe I should have been a plumber.”

She snickered. “You’d make more money.”

“True, but you know I love teaching.” I grinned. “Now that it’s the end of June.”

“I hear that.” Aunt Nia, who was a high school guidance counselor, chuckled as she helped me down the ladder.

As a grade school music teacher, it was fulfilling to share my love for music with children, teaching them about history, culture, self-expression, emotion, and different sounds to calm and delight. However, with so much state-required administrative work thrust upon me lately, fewer children labeled “gifted and talented,” and pushy parents demanding their tone-deaf and entitled children have solos in the school’s spring concert, I was in dire need of my summer break.

After handing my aunt the roll of tape, I was drawn back to the player piano. Sitting on the dusty bench, I sneezed and then placed my feet on the pedals. The center section at my eye level was open, so I could see the roll of preprogrammed music on perforated paper. It was a George Gershwin song from 1926: “Someone to Watch Over Me.” As I pressed the pedals, a few familiar notes played. “It still works!” I rose and lifted the top of the bench. “Aunt Nia, there are nine more rolls of music in here! Who owns this?”

“It must have been left here by the original owner in the 1930s. The building has changed ownership a few times since then. I guess nobody wanted it. I can’t say that I blame them.”

“Can I have it?”

About the Author:Joe Cosentino was voted Favorite LGBT Mystery, Humorous, and Contemporary Author of the Year by the readers of Divine Magazine for Drama Queen. He also wrote the other novels in the Nicky and Noah mystery series: Drama Muscle, Drama Cruise, Drama Luau, Drama Detective, Drama Fraternity, Drama Castle, Drama Dance, Drama Faerie, Drama Runway, Drama Christmas; the Dreamspinner Press stories: In My Heart/An Infatuation & A Shooting Star, the Bobby and Paolo Holiday Stories: A Home for the Holidays/The Perfect Gift/The First Noel, The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland/Holiday Tales from Fairyland, Found At Last: Finding Giorgio/Finding Armando, The Player Piano Mysteries: The Player/The Player’s Encore; the Cozzi Cove series (NineStar Press): Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back, Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward, Cozzi Cove: Stepping Out, Cozzi Cove: New Beginnings, Cozzi Cove: Happy Endings; and the Jana Lane mysteries: Paper Doll, Porcelain Doll, Satin Doll, China Doll, Rag Doll (The Wild Rose Press). He has appeared in principal acting roles in film, television, and theatre, opposite stars such as Bruce Willis, Rosie O’Donnell, Nathan Lane, Holland Taylor, and Jason Robards. Joe is currently Chair of the Department/Professor at a college in upstate New York, and he is happily married. Joe was voted 2nd Place Favorite LGBT Author of the Year in Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Awards, and his books have received numerous Favorite Book of the Month Awards and Rainbow Award Honorable Mentions.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon Author Page

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

Everything Changes by Melanie Hansen – Spotlight and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Melanie Hansen will award a randomly drawn host a $25 Amazon/BN GC. Click on the tour banner to see the rest of the stops.

Two battle buddies. One fateful deployment. Two vastly different sets of wounds. One friendship changed forever.

A childhood in foster care taught Carey Everett to hold tight to what he has. Enlisting in the Marines gave him purpose, but a life-threatening injury ended his career—and took his leg. Now fully recovered, Carey’s happier than he’s ever been. He has a fulfilling job, a chosen family and, best of all, a cherished friendship with Jase DeSantis, the platoon medic who saved his life.

Despite Jase’s heroism in combat, he’s haunted by his actions overseas. Playing music with his band keeps the demons at bay, but it’s a battle he’s starting to lose.

After a week of sun and fun in San Diego, Jase and Carey’s connection takes an unexpected turn. With change comes a new set of challenges. For Jase, it means letting someone else into his deepest pain. For Carey, it’s realizing love doesn’t always equal loss. In order to make their relationship work, they’ll have to come to terms with their pasts…

…or risk walking away from each other for good.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Carey snatched up his crutches and hopped to the kitchen.

Seated at the table with a tumbler, Jase took one look at him and burst into laughter.

“What?” Carey asked crossly. “I have a booger hanging out my nose or something?”

“No, the saying on your shirt.” Wiping his eyes on the hem of his own black tee, Jase wheezed, “‘Marine: Some Assembly Required.’”

Wordlessly, Carey turned to show him the back, which read: “I had a blast in Afghanistan.”

That sent Jase into peals of more laughter, the husky sound brushing like crushed velvet along Carey’s skin. “Glad you find it amusing,” he said drily. “Adele actually gave me this.”

At the mention of the physical therapist who’d treated Carey at Walter Reed, Jase’s cheeks turned pink. Carey couldn’t help but chuckle. “Yeah, I know about you two. She told me.”

“She did?”

A perpetually cheerful woman anyway, Adele had had an extra spring in her step one morning as she’d bounced into the amputee clinic. “Had dinner with your friend Jase last night,” she’d said, eyes sparkling. “And also, you know, breakfast.”

Carey had grunted, not in the least concerned about Jase’s sex life. “Can you spot me on the weight bar?” he’d asked, and that was that.

Now he regarded Jase thoughtfully. “It amazes me, how you stay friends with all your exes.”

An indignant look crossed Jase’s face. “What do you mean, all my exes? And Adele isn’t an ex, not really. That was mostly timing, comfort.” He shrugged. “Fun.”

Carey lowered himself into a chair. “Well, she still asks about you when she comes out to work at the ranch. Gets this faraway look on her face.” He snorted at Jase’s smug glance. “Oh, you’re just that good, huh?”

Jase lifted an eyebrow. “Wanna find out?”

Even though Carey knew he was joking, a frisson of remembered heat flashed through him. He cleared his throat. “Nah. You’re the bi one here, not me.”

Their eyes met and held before Jase murmured, “Hmm. Pity.”

It was Carey’s turn to blush as a tingle of heat spread from his belly down between his legs. He risked a glance at Jase again, only to find gentle teasing on his face.

Shaking his head, Carey shot him a rueful smile. “You goof. What would you have done if I’d said yes?”

“If you’d said yes—” Jase got to his feet and poured Carey a few fingers from the bottle of Tennessee Honey liqueur on the counter. After he’d set the tumbler down in front of him, he leaned in close. “I’d have made sure you thoroughly enjoyed yourself. What else?”

With a wink, Jase sauntered off to his bedroom, leaving Carey staring after him, his pulse pounding so hard he wondered if Jase could hear it.

About the Author:

Melanie Hansen doesn’t get nearly enough sleep. She loves all things coffee-related, including collecting mugs from every place she’s visited. After spending eighteen years as a military spouse, Melanie definitely considers herself a moving expert. She has lived and worked all over the country, and hopes to bring these rich and varied life experiences to the love stories she gets up in the wee hours to write. On her off-time, you can find Melanie watching baseball, reading or spending time with her husband and two teenage sons.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Buy the book at Amazon.

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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.
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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.

Amazon Author Page | Barnes and Noble Page | Dreamspinner Press | Facebook | Facebook Group | Goodreads | Twitter | Website

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.


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


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?
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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!



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.
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“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.

Website | Facebook | Facebook Author Page | Twitter | Goodeads | QueeRomance Ink Author Page | Amazon Author Page

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
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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
● 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.


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.


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

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Buy the book at Amazon or Dreamspinner Press.