Joe Cosentino: Author Interview and Happy Endings Book Release

Author Joe Cosentino is back for an interview and to share a little about everyone’s favorite vacation destination, a new Cozzi Cove story: Happy Endings. Please welcome Joe to the blog!

Hello, Joe! Welcome back to my blog, and thank you for answering my nosy, I mean discerning, questions! 

Being nosey isn’t a bad thing, Sarah. As my character (patterned after me) Martin Anderson says in one of my Nicky and Noah mystery novels, “Gossip is like fertilizer. It should be spread all over as fast as possible so stories can grow.”

Good one. First, please tell us a little about yourself and the kinds of stories you like to write.

I was a real theatre kid in school, counting the minutes until classes ended so I could go to rehearsal for the school play. After majoring in theatre in college, I became an actor in film, television, and theatre, working opposite stars like Bruce Willis, Nathan Lane, Rosie O’Donnell, Holland Taylor, and Jason Robards. It occurred to me that acting is storytelling in the same way that writing is storytelling, so I decided to give writing a try. After writing some plays, I moved on to writing novels. My mother’s response was, “Don’t you have anything better to do than write novels?” Hm, I wonder if Stephen King’s mother asked him that? As you can see, I come from a funny Italian-American family, so humor, drama, and romance are prevalent in my books. As an actor, my characters are always well developed, quirky, and captivating (like me-smile). I’ve also been a cozy mystery fanatic since childhood, so my novels contain mystery.

Would you say there is an underlying theme behind your stories?

Given the right-wing takeover of the US right now, I am quite concerned about people who demean and attack the rights and self-worth of others, including those who hide behind their religious beliefs to do so. Religious freedom means freedom to practice your religion, not to discriminate against others. That’s a theme in many of my novels.

What part of the world do you call home? Can you tell us a little about where you grew up and where you live now?

My roots are in New Jersey. After college, I moved to New York City. Now I live upstate New York in a house built (not literally) by my spouse and me. Like Martin Anderson in my Nicky and Noah mysteries, I’m a college theatre professor and department chair. Also like Martin, my home study features a cherry wood fireplace mantel, bookcase, desk, and window seat overlooking the woods. It’s the perfect place for me to create my stories. Finally, like Martin, I’m a bit of a gossip, always curious about everyone. Beware, Sarah, something you say to me may very well end up in one of my books!

Right back at you, Joe. How long have you been writing? Did you write as a child or is it something you developed a passion for later in life?

I’ve been writing plays for forty years (though I’m only thirty years old-smile). I’ve written twenty-three novels in five years (including my new releases scheduled through 2020). You might say I was a late bloomer as an author, but made up for it by writing (as Nicky would say in my Nicky and Noah mysteries) “faster than an anti-gay politician heading for a public men’s room in a blackout.” I’ve won Divine Magazine’s Favorite LGBT Mystery, Humorous, and Contemporary Novels Awards, Favorite Book of the Month at The TBR Pile, numerous Rainbow Award Honorable Mentions, and Open Skye Book Reviews Favorite Audiobook of the Month. Since everyone tells me my books are quite cinematic, now I’m ready for my Academy Award and EMMY Award. Hear that, movie and TV producers, I’m writing the screenplay and teleplay adaptations as we speak. Make me an offer I can’t refuse!

I love it. You seem like quite a character. How often does your real-life experience figure into your story telling? Do you base characters or stories on your actual experiences?

Yes. It’s all about me (smile). My In My Heart/An Infatuation & A Shooting Star (Dreamspinner Press) are loosely based on my high school and college years respectively. Like Bobby and Paolo in my Bobby and Paolo Holiday Stories: A Home for the Holidays, The Perfect Gift, The First Noel (Dreamspinner Press), I travelled to Capri, Italy and fell in love with that magical, glorious island. The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland (Dreamspinner Press) is my gay take on my favorite fairytales like Cinderella, Goldie Locks and the Three Bears, Pinocchio, Jack and the Beanstalk, and The Snow Queen. My Nicky and Noah mystery novels (Drama Queen, Drama Muscle, Drama Cruise, Drama Luau, Drama Detective, Drama Fraternity) are farcical, gay, cozy, who-dun-its that take place in fictitious Treemeadow College.

While thankfully none of my colleagues or students have been murdered at my own college, I kid that if any of them annoy me, I’ll kill them in my next book. I use my knowledge of shooting (meaning filming) on film and television sets in my Jana Lane mysteries: Paper Doll, Porcelain Doll, Satin Doll, China Doll, Rag Doll (the Wild Rose Press) about an ex-child star making her movie comeback while solving murder mysteries on the sets. My Cozzi Cove series (NineStar Press): Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back, Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward, Cozzi Cove: Stepping Out, Cozzi Cove: New Beginnings, and now Cozzi Cove: Happy Endings takes place at Cozzi Cove, a fictitious gay resort on the New Jersey Shore where nothing is what it seems, and romance is always in the sea air. The bungalows on Cozzi Cove are based on my aunt and uncle’s cottage on the New Jersey Shore, which I loved visiting each summer as a child.

With all those books written in only five years, are you a panster or a plotter?  Do you outline extensively or write your story as you go along?

Jumping up awake in the middle of the night with a new book idea, I jot notes on my nightstand. The next day I begin a biography for each character and eventually a plot summary. I write the first draft, then show the second draft to my spouse for his notes. After he nitpicks, the third draft goes to the editor for notes. My outlines for mysteries are more extensive, planning the clues, red herrings, plot twists and turns, and surprise but justifiable endings.

Since you are so prolific, what advice would you give to someone who aspires to be a published author?

Don’t listen to the naysayers! Don’t try to copy anyone else’s style! Discover what’s special about you and your stories and write them without inhibitions. If one publisher isn’t interested, send them to the next, or publish them yourself. Finally, don’t forget the humor—in your books and in your life.

Why did you choose to write M/M stories?

I was shopping at the mall and I came upon the movie theatre wing. Poster after poster featured movies with no gay characters. It was as if LGBT people didn’t exist. I decided then and there to write stories that included all gender identities, sexual orientations, races, ages, and cultures.

Do you read reviews? How do you handle a negative review?

Most of my reviews and reader response have been incredibly positive, which fuel my writing. What a gift it is for a reader to post a positive review on Amazon or Goodreads, relating how something I’ve written has moved them, made them think about something new, or changed their life. As for the few bad reviews, I don’t read them. As my mother always told me, “If you don’t have something nice to say about somebody, don’t say anything at all.” I can’t imagine why anyone would continue reading a book after chapter one if he/she doesn’t like it. Just put it down and read something else. Why attack a book someone has poured his/her blood, sweat, and tears into? It’s your karma, honey.

Thank you for interviewing today, Joe.

It was my pleasure. Let’s make a deal, Sarah. You keep writing your great books, and I’ll keep writing mine.

Deal. And speaking of new books, give us the information about your current release! 

Everyone grab your Speedos, suntan lotion, and shades and head back to Cozzi Cove for my fifth novel in the series. Cal Cozzi has a bungalow waiting just for you. I hope to see you there! (That’s me on the cover-smile) Here’s the information below followed by a brief excerpt. Oh, and I love hearing from readers! Contact me at: http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com

 COZZI COVE: HAPPY ENDINGS

The fifth novel in the Cozzi Cove series

by JOE COSENTINO

 

http://mybook.to/CozziCove_HE

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/835400

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/cozzi-cove-joe-cosentino/1128860553?ean=2940155279358

https://www.kobo.com/us/en/search?Query=Cozzi+Cove%3A+Happy+Endings

 

It’s summertime, the perfect season for another trip to Cozzi Cove: the magical place where nothing is what it seems and romance is always in the sea air. Welcome back to hunky Cal Cozzi’s seven guest bungalows on the New Jersey Shore. This summer Cal is visited by Kevin Donovan, a handsome man from his past who makes Cal a tempting offer to buy Cozzi Cove and provide financial security to Cal and Michael’s baby. Cal’s Wall Street sister, Taylor, has hopped aboard Kevin’s green wagon. However, Cal’s husband, Michael, and Taylor’s wife, Carla, aren’t convinced, sensing something much deeper in Kevin’s offer than meets the roving eye. Cal’s exhibitionist new houseboy, Carlos, is smitten with Cal’s sweet-faced nanny, Alfred, who carries a shocking secret in his magic Mormon underwear. Middle-aged matchmaker Gilead has matched guests Marine Master Sergeant Matt Pummel and much younger businessman Keone Paoa to the chagrin of cute young lawyer Luis Lui. As skeletons come out of their closets, the bears and cubs search for their true honey. Woodsy guest Nyx Oberon meets a sexy werewolf at the cove and they share a howling moonlit night. Nyx believes his newfound lover could be part of a much larger plan that would change his life and the world forever. Will Cal, his family, and his guests have happy endings? It’s Cozzi Cove after all.

 

Praise for the COZZI COVE series:

 

“I loved this story. It carries you through the full range of emotions, from joy to sadness, from happiness to anger. The characters are beautifully written…I look forward to a return visit to the Cove.” TBR Pile Book of the Month

 

“In true Joe Cosentino style, this book is packed full of drama! This cast of characters will have you laughing out loud one minute before ripping your heart out the next.” Joyfully Jay

 

“Joe Cosentino has the amazing ability to combine heartwarming, feel good moments with droll, sometimes biting humor, along with insights into the frailties and peccadillos of being human….Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back is the very finest in literary fiction with a romance theme, yet it’s more than just that—it’s about human connections and empathy and finding a way out of the fear and inertia faced by so many. It’s also about courage and strength, about respect and coming to terms with all that life has to offer, and it’s about letting go. I loved this book and look forward to the next in the series. This is a highly recommended read, well-deserving of Five Stars.” GGR Reviews

 

“Who knew that 7 bungalows set surrounding a beautiful cove, could hold so many secrets, love and intrigue?…The humour, whether subtle or not-so-subtle was superb, the timing delivered with perfection, Joe Cosentino is a natural comedian and another reason why I love reading his books. He is also very clever, he weaved moral messages throughout the entire storyline….Great fun entwined with the Cosentino romantic magic that brings his books alive, I loved it.” Three Books Over the Rainbow

 

“Oh, Cozzi Cove, you are fast becoming a favorite vacation destination with your action and excitement! Joe Cosentino once again wins his way into your heart and soul with this fun, flirtatious romance. Love, laughter and smoldering intimacy await all who dare to venture to the clear blue waters of the Cove.” 3 Chicks After Dark

 

“Imagine a beautiful getaway where the hot, sexy, and wealthy gay men go…it’s a place where there’s never a dull moment. Every page of this new title brings readers nothing but excitement, intrigue, and an intensity that will burn away the night’s quiet. Most novels offer readers one journey in which readers travel upon, however, readers are brought not one but several journeys that will leave them breathless and hooked. As with all of Joe Cosentino’s novels, humor comes in abundance and fits in perfectly with all of his stunning characters….Joe sweeps his readers into his characters’ lives by creating realistic characters with real issues. The book automatically captures your heart from page one and forever holds it. After reading the story, readers will be begging for the next grand adventure. Funny, heart melting, and swoon worthy, readers will finish reading this in one sitting. I loved reading this riveting tale, and I highly recommend it to readers everywhere.” Urban Book Reviews

 

“Spending a week in the sun with the permanent and transitory residents of Cozzi Cove makes for a superb, unputdownable, read. There are laugh out loud moments, lots of chuckles, some very heartwarming as well as heart wrenching moments, lots of gorgeous men and women, love, lust and even some tears. Joe Cosentino has a brilliantly unique sense of humour, and a masterful way of writing stories containing farce, larger than life men and women, and often over the top characters you’ll fall in love with. For all that his characters come across as completely relatable and realistic. His books are one of a kind and utterly addictive. I have yet to read a Joe Cosentino book that was less than 5 Stars, and this book is no exception. Do yourself a favour and grab this book with both hands. I guarantee you’ll be very glad you did.” Divine Magazine

 

“There is plenty to feast upon within each sudsy storyline, including intrigue, deception, desire, romance, and sex….As the pages turn quickly and events unfold, the ensuing antics are irresistibly entertaining, but more importantly the characters are likeable and deserve our genuine interest and concern as some of their relationships are put to the test. Cozzi Cove: New Beginnings is clearly just that — the beginning — for Cal and Michael, and this highly engaging, enjoyable novel examines both their past and present history as proof that they were destined to be together.” Edge Media Network

 

“I adore this series so much. I adore it partly because of the setting, the writing, the romance, but also because each one of the guests at Cozzi Cove has a story beyond their face value….There is so much packed into this book’s short 174 pages and I loved every single one of them!” Alpha Book Club

 

Joe’s Bio:

Bestselling author Joe Cosentino won Divine Magazine’s Readers Poll for Best LGBT Mystery Novel, Best LGBT Humorous Novel, and Best LGBT Contemporary Novel of the Year. He wrote the Cozzi Cove beach series: Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back (TBR Pile Book of the Month/Rainbow Award Honorable Mention), Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward, Cozzi Cove: Stepping Out, and Cozzi Cove: New Beginnings (NineStar Press); the Nicky and Noah mysteries: Drama Queen (Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Favorite), Drama Muscle (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention), Drama Cruise, Drama Luau, Drama Detective, Drama Fraternity; the Dreamspinner Press novellas: In My Heart/An Infatuation & A Shooting Star (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention), the Bobby and Paolo Holiday Stories: A Home for the Holidays and The Perfect Gift, The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland; 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 Head of the Department/Professor at a college in upstate New York, and is happily married. Joe was voted 2nd Place Favorite LGBT Author of the Year in Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Awards! Upcoming novels and novellas are Drama Castle, Drama Dance, and Drama Faerie, Nicky and Noah mysteries; The First Noel, Bobby and Paolo Holiday Story Book 3 (Dreamspinner Press); and Holiday Tales from Fairyland, Tales from Fairyland Book 2.

 

Contact Joe:

Web site: http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/JoeCosentinoauthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JoeCosen

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4071647.Joe_Cosentino

Amazon: Author.to/JoeCosentino

 

Excerpt of Cozzi Cove: Happy Endings, the fifth Cozzi Cove novel, by Joe Cosentino:

 

Cal placed the luggage on the floor next to the desk. “What do you do?”

“I’m a matchmaker.”

Cal couldn’t help smiling.

“What? Because my name isn’t Dolly or Yente?”

“What is your name?”

“Gilead Shadchan. I’m like the ‘Balm in Gilead,’ the salve to make everything all right.”

“The ‘Balm in Gilead’?”

Gilead sighed. “Nobody reads the Bible anymore, except the people who use it as a weapon to try to take away our rights.”

Cal found Gilead’s name on his computer. “Yes, you purchased four bungalows for the week.”

“They’re not all for me.” Gilead adjusted his tight powder-blue jumpsuit. “I’m not that large.” He chuckled.

There was something likeable about the guy. “Who are they for?”

“My clients. I’m the top-rated matchmaker in the gay community. Haven’t you heard of me?”

“Sorry.”

“Have you been to Commercial Street in Provincetown, Castro Street in San Francisco, Christopher Street in New York City, and Duval Street in Key West?”

“Yeah.”

“You notice the sea of gay couples holding hands as they walk down the streets?”

“Um hm.”

I did that. And believe me I get a lot of wedding invitations from my clients. I can do the alley cat, tarantella, and Macarena in my sleep.” He sat on the desk. “I also match up guys on the down low and in the up high.”

“The up high?”

“The Vatican.” He said sotto voce, “The priests without altar boys.”

Cal couldn’t help laughing.

Gilead squinted at the tiny American flag on Cal’s shirt. “Interesting flag. Where’s the other colors of the rainbow?”

Though Cal was entertained by Gilead’s antics, he needed to get back to business. “Gilead, I have you in Bungalow Five and your guests in Bungalows Two, Three, and Four.”

He nodded. “Generally, the men I match go out to dinner to meet each other. But these guys bought my special package: a week’s vacation at a gay resort with the man of their dreams.”

“What if one of them isn’t happy with your selection for him?”

“Impossible. I have a ninety-five percent success rate in matchmaking.”

“And the other five percent?”

“They came out as straight.” He raised his eyes to his receding hairline. “For the moment.”

Cal said, “With all the hook-up web sites, I’m surprised a matchmaker still exits.”

“Those web sites are just that.” He said as if eating mud, “Places for hook-ups.” Smiling radiantly, he added, “I match people for life!”

“How do you do it?”

Gilead said with a flourish of his pudgy hand, “I meet with each applicant for three hours, where I ask him a series of questions. Then I type the data into my computer and the magic happens.”

“Hopefully the Republicans won’t work with Russia to hack in.”

Gilead paused, stared at Cal, and then burst out laughing. “I like an innkeeper with a sense of humor.” He crossed one leg over the over. “You looking for somebody?”

Cal smiled. “I’m happily married, thank you.”

“If anything changes.” Gilead handed Cal his card. “I guarantee satisfaction.”

“I don’t think I’ll be needing your services.”

“That’s what they all say.”

Cal couldn’t resist. “Are you single, Gilead?”

“As single as a Republican at a Green Peace rally.” He sighed. “To be honest, Cal, I’ve devoted my life to finding happiness for others. Now at forty-five, I’m ready for a bit of happiness myself.”

“You may find it. This is Cozzi Cove.”

 

 

 

Are you ready for the Day of Wrath? Book Release & Giveaway!

Are you ready for Day of Wrath, the final installment in Anna Butler’s Taking Shield series? If not, fasten your seatbelts because this is one wild ride! Bennet and Flynn are back together again, in time for the apocalyptic ending their race has been heading toward ever since they made contact with the alien Maas. If military space opera is your catnip, then this is the series for you!

I’ve been reading this series since the beginning, and I’ve long predicted that some day, someone will point to it and say, “This is the first time I read military sci-fi where the protagonists were bisexual–and that was not their sole defining characteristic. I saw myself in Flynn and Bennet.”

DAY OF WRATH

 

 

The award-winning Taking Shield series comes to its shattering conclusion in Day of Wrath.

 

About The Book

In less than a week, Bennet will finally return to the Shield Regiment, leaving behind the Gyrfalcon, his father, his friends… and Flynn. Promotion to Shield Major and being given command of a battle group despite the political fallout from Makepeace the year before is everything he thought he wanted. Everything he’s worked towards for the last three years. Except for leaving Flynn. He really doesn’t want to leave Flynn.

There’s time for one last flight together. A routine mission. Nothing too taxing, just savouring every moment with the best wingman, the best friend, he’s ever had. That’s the plan.

Bennet should know better than to trust to routine because what waits for them out there will change their lives forever.

 

Title: Day of Wrath

Author: Anna Butler

Series:  Taking Shield

Necessary to read previous 4 books? Yes

Wordcount: c106,300

Category: Sci Fi, Gay mainstream.

eBook Publication Date: 28 June 2018

Paperback: Available now from Amazon or direct from Anna’s website

Publisher: Glass Hat Press © 2018

Editor: Val Selby-Wolfe at Scarlet Tie

Cover Artist: Adrian Nicholas

Goodreads Link

More information and background on the Shield Universe here

Buy Links

Day of Wrath is available at Amazon, Kobo, Smashwords and iBooks.

Link to a digital bookstore near you

Giveaway

 

Rafflecoptor giveaway to win one of three prizes:

– 25$ (or equivalent) Amazon gift card

– signed copy of Gyrfalcon, the first Taking Shield book

– your pick of an eBook from Anna’s back catalogue

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

Excerpt

A laser bolt sizzled past him. Shit! They were after him. The scanner was still suffering from Maess jamming, but Flynn could make out four Maess fighters behind him. Another laser bolt flashed past, his scanners showing it blood scarlet against the blackness of space.

Flynn’s scanner picked up Bennet rolling his Hornet to one side. A laser bolt missed him by only a few feet. Close. Too close. There had been all too many of them in the last hour. They’d done nothing but dogfight Maess fighters since they found Jilly and Bennet took back command for their share of the battle.

“Wingover loop,” Bennet ordered. “Best chance we’ve got.”

Good call. They had to get the bastards off their afterburners.

Flynn flung his Hornet up into a vertical curving quarter loop, still at top sub-light speed. He flat-turned at the top and dived down into another quarter loop to flatten out. They were facing the Maess full on, now. The abrupt change caught the Maess by surprise. The four Maess fighters scattered as Bennet and Flynn zoomed at them.

Flynn pressed his thumb onto the firing button and kept it there. Clipped one of the Maess and sent it spinning off to one side, but Bennet got another one head on as they flew through, the lucky bastard.

“Wingover to give chase,” Bennet said.

Flynn repeated the wingover, flat turning to change direction through 180 degrees again, only a few hundred yards from Bennet’s left wing. They were bloody smooth, moving as if they were connected by wires, coming up on the Maess from behind. Best pilots in Fleet, they were. Had to be. Along with Cruz who, as Flynn had expected, was out there with her pilots on Bennet’s starboard flank. He hadn’t had time to do more than greet her on their arrival and try to keep as much of an eye on her as he could spare from watching Bennet’s back.

Flynn centred a Maess fighter on the targeting screen and fired. Hit it. Damaged it enough to bleed its shields, not enough to kill it. Another second to be sure of his aim, and then again, the weapons array had the target centred. Another shot, and Flynn was suddenly flying through a miniature asteroid belt of Maess fighter parts, all bouncing off his shields and making the Hornet rattle.

Best bloody noise in the world, that.

 

About Anna

 

Anna was a communications specialist for many years, working in various UK government departments on everything from marketing employment schemes to organizing conferences for 10,000 civil servants to running an internal TV service. These days, though, she is writing full time. She lives with her husband in a quiet village tucked deep in the Nottinghamshire countryside. She’s supported there by the Deputy Editor, aka Molly the cockerpoo, who is assisted by the lovely Mavis, a Yorkie-Bichon cross with a bark several sizes larger than she is but no opinion whatsoever on the placement of semi-colons.

Website and Blog | Facebook | The Butler’s Pantry (Facebook Group) | Twitter | Sign up for Anna’s occasional newsletter

 

Joe Cosentino’s Newest Nicky and Noah Mystery: Drama Fraternity

Please welcome Joe Cosentino to the site as he shares about his newest installment in the Nicky and Noah mystery series!

 

THE NICKY AND NOAH MYSTERIES GO SLASHER MOVIE

Drama Fraternity, the sixth Nicky and Noah mystery

by Joe Cosentino

Aren’t slasher movies a hoot? I sit watching at the edge of my sofa with white knuckles in mouth, happily terrified of which young stud or beauty will be murdered next by the over-the-top campy villain. The sexy characters, catchy dialogue, constant suspense, and of course the twist ending always leave me pleasantly entertained and satisfied—and reaching for the next DVD! Being such a fan of slasher movies, I decided to roast them in my sixth Nicky and Noah mystery novel, where college theatre professors/adorable couple/amateur sleuths Nicky and Noah do a slasher movie at Treemeadow College! Having acted in films and on television myself, I was able to infuse some first-hand experiences into this delightful story.

For those of you who haven’t read the first five novels in my award-winning, popular series (and you should!), it is a gay cozy mystery comedy series, meaning the setting is warm and cozy, the clues and murders (and laughs) come fast and furious, and there are enough plot twists and turns and a surprise ending to keep the pages turning faster than a priest chasing an altar boy.

In Drama Queen (Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Award for Favorite LGBT Mystery, Humorous, and Contemporary Novel of the Year) Nicky directs the school play at Treemeadow College—which is named after its gay founders, Tree and Meadow. Theatre professors drop like stage curtains, and Nicky and Noah have to use their theatre skills, including impersonating other people, to figure out whodunit. In Drama Muscle (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention) Nicky and Noah don their gay Holmes and Watson personas again to find out why bodybuilding students and professors in Nicky’s bodybuilding competition at Treemeadow are dropping faster than barbells. In Drama Cruise it is summer on a ten-day cruise from San Francisco to Alaska and back. Nicky and Noah must figure out why college theatre professors are dropping like life rafts as Nicky directs a murder mystery dinner theatre show onboard ship starring Noah and other college theatre professors from across the US. Complicating matters are their both sets of wacky parents who want to embark on all the activities on and off the boat with the handsome couple. In Drama Luau, Nicky is directing the luau show at the Maui Mist Resort and he and Noah need to figure out why muscular Hawaiian hula dancers are dropping like grass skirts. Their department head/best friend and his husband, Martin and Ruben, are along for the bumpy tropical ride. In Drama Detective, Nicky is directing and ultimately co-starring with his husband Noah as Holmes and Watson in a new musical Sherlock Holmes play at Treemeadow College prior to Broadway. Martin and Ruben, their sassy office assistant Shayla, Nicky’s brother Tony, and Nicky and Noah’s son Taavi are also in the cast. Of course dead bodies begin falling over like hammy actors at a curtain call. Once again Nicky and Noah use their drama skills to figure out who is lowering the street lamps on the actors before the handsome couple get half-baked on Baker Street.

Now in Drama Fraternity, Nicky is directing Tight End Scream Queen, a slasher movie filmed at Treemeadow College’s football fraternity house, co-starring Noah, Taavi, and Martin. Rounding out the cast are members of Treemeadow’s Christian football players’ fraternity along with two hunky screen stars. When the quarterback, jammer, wide receiver, and more begin fading out with their scenes, Nicky and Noah once again need to use their drama skills to figure out who is sending young hunky actors to the cutting room floor before Nicky and Noah hit the final reel.

Nicky and Noah are joined by favorite regular characters like Martin, Ruben, Shayla, Taavi, Detective Manuello, Nicky’s parents, and Noah’s parents. And book six adds a number of captivating new characters like Alejandro Gallo, the handsome and muscular star (who plays a vampire on TV’s Suck Off) cast as the detective in the film. There’s also hunky heartthrob (of the film Full Moon) who plays the lead role of Davey Doubt, the football team’s taunted and misunderstood tight end. And I can’t leave out the adorable and shy young screenwriter, Robert Lee, who penned Davey Doubt’s story based on his own.

It is my joy and pleasure to share this sixth novel in the series with you. So take your front row seat. Lights, camera, action, frat house murders!

 

DRAMA FRATERNITY (the sixth Nicky and Noah mystery)

a comedy/mystery/romance novel by JOE COSENTINO

 

http://myBook.to/DramaFraternity

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/808178

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1128306684?ean=2940155189787

https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/drama-fraternity-a-nicky-and-noah-mystery

 

 

Theatre professor Nicky Abbondanza is directing Tight End Scream Queen, a slasher movie filmed at Treemeadow College’s football fraternity house, co-starring his husband and theatre professor colleague, Noah Oliver. When young hunky cast members begin fading out with their scenes, Nicky and Noah will once again need to use their drama skills to figure out who is sending the quarterback, jammer, wide receiver, and more to the cutting room floor before Nicky and Noah hit the final reel. You will be applauding and shouting Bravo for Joe Cosentino’s fast-paced, side-splittingly funny, edge-of-your-seat entertaining sixth novel in this delightful series. Lights, camera, action, frat house murders!

 

Praise for the Nicky and Noah mysteries:

 

“Joe Cosentino has a unique and fabulous gift. His writing is flawless, and his use of farce, along with his convoluted plot-lines, 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

 

“a combination of Laurel and Hardy mixed with Hitchcock and Murder She Wrote…

Loaded with puns and one-liners…Right to the end, you are kept guessing, and the conclusion still has a surprise in store for you.” Optimumm Book Reviews

 

“adventure, mystery, and romance with every page….Funny, clever, and sweet….I can’t find anything not to love about this series….This read had me laughing and falling in love….Nicky and Noah are my favorite gay couple.” Urban Book Reviews

 

“For fans of Joe Cosentino’s hilarious mysteries, this is another vintage story with more cheeky asides and sub plots right left and centre….The story is fast paced, funny and sassy. The writing is very witty with lots of tongue-in-cheek humour….Highly recommended.” Boy Meets Boy Reviews

 

“This delightfully sudsy, colorful cast of characters would rival that of any daytime soap opera, and the character exchanges are rife with sass, wit and cagey sarcasm….As the pages turn quickly, the author keeps us hanging until the startling end.” Edge Media Network

 

“A laugh and a murder, done in the style we have all come to love….This had me from the first paragraph….Another wonderful story with characters you know and love!” Crystals Many Reviewers

 

“These two are so entertaining….Their tactics in finding clues and the crazy funny interactions between characters keeps the pages turning. For most of the book if I wasn’t laughing I was grinning.” Jo and Isa Love Books

 

“Superb fun from start to finish, for me this series gets stronger with every book and that’s saying something because the benchmark was set so very high with book 1.” Three Books Over the Rainbow

 

“The Nicky and Noah Mysteries series are perfect for fans of the Cozy Mystery sub-genre. They mix tongue-in-cheek humor, over-the-top characters, a wee bit of political commentary, and suspense into a sweet little mystery solved by Nicky and Noah, theatre professors for whom all the world’s a stage.” Prism Book Alliance

“This is one hilarious series with a heart and it just keeps getting better. I highly recommend them all, and please read them in the order they were written for full blown laugh out loud reading pleasure!” Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

As an actor, Joe Cosentino 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. He was voted Favorite LGBT Mystery, Humorous, and Contemporary Author of the Year by the readers of Divine Magazine for his first Nicky and Noah mystery Drama Queen. The other popular novels in the series are Drama Muscle (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention), Drama Cruise, Drama Luau, Drama Detective, Drama Fraternity. Joe also wrote the cherished Dreamspinner Press novellas: In My Heart/An Infatuation & A Shooting Star (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention), The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland, and the Bobby and Paolo Holiday Stories: A Home for the Holidays and The Perfect Gift. His much-loved Cozzi Cove series published by NineStar Press include Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention), Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward, Cozzi Cove: Stepping Out, Cozzi Cove: New Beginnings. Finally, Joe is also the author of the cherished Jana Lane mysteries: Paper Doll, Porcelain Doll, Satin Doll, China Doll, Rag Doll (The Wild Rose Press). Joe is currently Chair of the Department/Professor at a college in upstate New York, and is happily married. Coming next: Holiday Tales from Fairyland, the second Tales from Fairyland Book; The First Noel, Bobby and Paolo Holiday Stories Book 3; Cozzi Cove: Happy Endings, the fifth Cozzi Cove novel; Drama Castle, the seventh Nicky and Noah mystery!

 

Web site: http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/JoeCosentinoauthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JoeCosen

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4071647.Joe_Cosentino

Amazon: Author.to/JoeCosentino

 

Excerpt of Drama Fraternity, the sixth Nicky and Noah mystery by Joe Cosentino:

 

After I starred opposite Noah in a new musical play at Treemeadow College last summer, we took sabbaticals and headed for the Great White Way. But it wasn’t so great. Sure, we won “Bravos!” and Tony Awards, but the glamorous life of living in “the city that never sleeps” grew as tiring as a child with ADD on a sugar high at Christmas after stealing his mother’s uppers. No longer dazzled by the bright lights and flashing marquees of Broadway, we longed for our little hamlet, and our not so little Victorian house (actually the college’s house) in Treemeadow—especially when an offer came my way to direct Tight End Scream Queen, a low budget indie slasher film. When I read the screenplay, I couldn’t help thinking of Williams, Hawthorne, Alcott, Twain, Wilde, Hemingway, and Fitzgerald. How they would be turning in their graves. Okay, the script was crap, but the plot intrigued me.

Clearly there would be no Academy Awards in Tight End Scream Queen’s future, however, it was to be my film directorial debut. And it would be shot at our own Treemeadow College! The selected location was the Phi Delta BOFO (Ball on the Field Only) Christian football players’ fraternity house. More importantly, there were roles in the film for Noah, Taavi, Martin, and Martin’s ex-administrative assistant Shayla Johnson. Of course, Martin’s husband Ruben Markinson would produce. One of our female theatre majors (Bonnie Tyler) and three male BOFO Fraternity brothers (Petey Collins, Lenny Benedetto, and Tibald Regina) would appear in the film alongside two stars (Alejandro Gallo and Malcolm Kahue). I was sold, or rather bought.

 

Take a Deep Breath. It will Be Okay.

It’s been an unusual year, to say the least.

Those who know me might realize I’ve been pretty quiet. I won’t go into details, but 2017 has been pretty rough on me. Suffice to say that you know it’s bad when someone’s personal life is so stressful and traumatic, it deadens the blow of watching your own democracy turn into a banana republic.

You know that scene in The Sound of Music where Christoper Plummer and Julie Andrews sing about how somewhere in their youth or childhood, they must have done something good in order to wind up together? Yeah, I keep wondering what I did that was bad to get this kind of karmic retribution. 🙂

I’ve written scarcely 2 K in the whole year. I was supposed to have the final installment of The Sixth Sense series finished and submitted in March of 2017, and it just didn’t happen. I’m so far behind on my deadlines I’m afraid no one will want to read it when I finally get it written–which of course makes it harder to sit down with the characters to tell their story.

I’ve also seriously considered giving up writing altogether. The stresses of the last year might have been extreme, but they aren’t going to change very much in the coming year. My ability to produce books on a rapid, timely basis isn’t likely to improve. And while I got a tremendous kick out of Wil Wheaton sharing my Sense of Entitlement post, it made me realize my real claim to fame might be having written a blog post that went viral rather than being an author. Face it. I’m a hobbyist with dreams of being able to retire on my writing and that’s never going to happen. And as long as I have a demanding day job, my ability to write will be limited to what I have the time and energy to do.

But maybe that’s okay.

I have a wonderful mare. Big, beautiful movement, magnificent presence–the kind of horse that made people stop and stare as you went past with her. But she’s nearly died three times due to colic, once having to have emergency surgery that put her out of the show circuit for over a year. My own work schedule meant that I could only get to a competition once or twice a year. But that was okay. Because for that one day, she got to show the world her potential. And I knew at home we were doing first level dressage and that she could clear a  4×4 oxer with ease. And while I never got to do all the things I wanted to do with her before I had to retire her, she is still alive. And I know how amazing she is.

It took me a long time to be comfortable with that. To recognize that was enough for us.  That given everything we’d overcome and survived, it was a bloody precious gift just to be able to walk out into pasture and see her lift her head and whicker at my arrival.

But I haven’t gotten there yet with the writing. I still feel that unless I’m producing a story a quarter (something that is never going to happen), no one will know I exist. No one will be excited for a new Sarah Madison story. At the same time, I also feel that disappearing for good would be no big loss. So yeah, giving it up has crossed my mind more than once this past year.

But maybe it’s okay that I write on my own schedule. I’d rather take the time to write a story I can be happy with than to try pumping out stories I don’t even enjoy creating. My life is too painful right now to add more stress to it by killing the one thing that has brought me joy. I’ve been reading a lot lately about how if you’re not cranking them out, there is something inherently wrong with your process and any story that is taking you too long to finish should be abandonned for one you can punch your way through. Maybe there is some merit in that. But I know when you run the pump while the creativity well is dry, you can burn up the motor.

Anyway, this is a long drawn-out way of saying that I was considering closing the door on writing. But the truth is, I’m not going to stop writing stories, so I might as well publish, right? It’s just going to have to be at my own pace.

And if you think that an encouraging word at the right time doesn’t make a difference, you’re wrong. I woke up this morning to over 20 notifications from Twitter. What the heck? I discovered that Dianne from It’s About The Book listed Unspeakable Words as one of the best books she’d read in 2017. You should check out the post. There’s a lovely review but I am also in some pretty exhalted company. 🙂

Maybe it will be like showing my horse. I might not achieve everything I want to in the time I have, but it’s a miracle just to be there.

I guess I should get back to work on that next Sixth Sense book, right?

A Boys of Summer Christmas Short Story

A few Christmases ago, I wrote a short epilogue for The Boys of Summer. I ran across it again today, and decided it would be fun to share again this Christmas.

Warning: there are mild spoilers for the novel, so you might want to consider whether or not you want to read more if you haven’t read the story yet! And also, this short story contains a very explicit sex scene (okay, a smoking hot sex scene…). This is an adults only website, but I thought I should point that out.

The Boys of Summer

David McIntyre has been enjoying the heck out of his current assignment: touring the Hawaiian Islands in search of the ideal shooting locations for a series of film company projects. What’s not to like? Stunning scenery, great food, sunny beaches…and a secret crush on his hot, ex-Air Force pilot, Rick Sutton.

Everything changes when a tropical storm and engine failure force a crash landing on a deserted atoll with a WWII listening post. Rick’s injuries, and a lack of food and water, make rescue imperative, but it takes an intensely vivid dream about the war to make David see that Rick is more than just a pilot to him. Will David gather his courage to confess his feelings to Rick—before it’s too late?

Finalist in the 2013 Rainbow AwardsNominated Best Historical in the Goodreads M/M Romance Reader’s Choice AwardsSelected as a Best Read in 2013 by Jessewave and a Top Pick Read by The Romance Reviews. Winner of Best M/M Romance in the 2013 PRG Reviewer’s Choice Awards.

On: AmazonBarnes and NobleDreamspinner Press

So without further ado, here is “All I Want for Christmas”.

christmas tree_stevep2008“What on earth are you doing?”

Em’s voice coming from behind startled David. He yelped at the sudden intrusion of sound and spun with the pan of cookies he’d just taken out of the oven. Cookies threatened to slide off the no-stick surface and he had to juggle them to keep them from falling onto the floor.

“Jeez, Em! You scared the bloody wits out of me!”  Hastily, he set the hot pan down on the stovetop, tucking the potholder under one arm as he glared at her.

“Sorry. I thought you heard me come in.” She didn’t look sorry, however. She smiled widely at him, obviously amused at his expense.

“I couldn’t hear a thing over Bing there.” David indicated the CD player with the oven mitt, where Bing Crosby crooned about a White Christmas. Despite the fact that Emma was standing in his kitchen wearing a navy crop top and white shorts, which just so happened to set off her tanned legs very nicely, Christmas was right around the corner. Less than a week now. David was determined to make it absolutely perfect this year.

“You’re so cute when you get this domestic urge to bake,” Emma commented, flicking a long strand of copper hair back from one shoulder. “It’s particularly funny because you never cook at all the rest of the year if you can help it. I think you’d live on take-out, if you could.”

For the briefest of moments, David saw Rick in his kitchen, peering in his refrigerator with disapproval and volunteering to cook dinner. Standing in the kitchen, drinking a glass of wine, and watching Rick create a delicious meal out of what seemed like nothing at all had been one of his favorite memories to revisit in the four months since Rick had gone back to his home in Hawaii.

Well, one of his favorite G-rated memories, that is. His cock stirred hopefully at the thought of some of his other favorite memories of the month Rick had spent in California last summer.

“I like baking at this time of year. I’ve never heard you complain before, unless it’s about the calories.”

“I’m not complaining. I’m commenting. You’ve baked a lot this season, haven’t you? Tell me you made sausage balls again. No one makes them like you do.”

“The recipe is online. You just have to Google it.”

“I don’t care what you say.” Em shook her head. “No one has quite your touch.”

David couldn’t help but preen a little. “The secret is in the mixing of the ingredients. And the choice of ingredients, too. The right sausage is important, but the right cheese? That’s critical.”

“See?” Emma arched an eyebrow. “No one makes sausage balls that are as good as yours. I’ve never seen you bring home any leftovers from a party, either.”

“Well, I made plenty this time, but they’re all in the freezer right now. No one gets to eat them until Christmas.”

David had a reputation to maintain. He’d made several batches, experimenting with a gluten-free recipe as well. In the past, the sausage balls never made it to the Christmas party because everyone kept eating them before the big day. He’d made extra at Thanksgiving this year, but they were all already gone.

“What kind of cookies are these? They smell fabulous.” She reached around him to pick up one of the cookies cooling on the rack beside the stove.

“One,” he admonished. “Tell me what you think.”

sugar cookies wikipedia commonShe bit the head off of a reindeer dusted with colored sugar. “Mmmm. These are wonderful. Almost like tea biscuits. With just a hint of lemon, right?”

He nodded. “They’re sour cream cookies. One of my favorites. This year I added a little lemon zest. I don’t make them often because they’re such a pain in the ass.” He glanced around the kitchen at the hopeless mess. Over on the CD player, Bing began singing about coming home for Christmas.

Emma laughed. “It looks like you detonated a flour bomb in here. That’s why I wanted to know what you were up to. That and you’re wearing an apron over your gym clothes. You have been to the gym, haven’t you?”

David glanced down at himself. He was wearing a threadbare brown T-shirt with the word “Shiny!” printed on it. Below that, he had on running shorts. He’d exchanged the expensive track shoes for a pair of old flip-flops as soon as he’d gotten home, however. It was just as well—he had flour everywhere, despite the apron. “Well, you know,” he said a bit self-consciously, “I have to look the part of a successful scriptwriter. You know Hollywood.”

She snorted inelegantly. “Bullshit. Most scriptwriters in Hollywood look like they spend all their time playing World of Warcraft in their mothers’ basement. This has more to do with impressing a certain ex-fighter pilot than meeting Hollywood’s standards. What’s the news on that front, anyway?”

David turned to shift the cooled cookies into a container so he could move the ones from the oven onto the cooling rack. When he spoke, he deliberately misunderstood her. “Well, they’ve cast the role of me. Of David Braxton, that is.”

After David had returned from his scouting trip in Hawaii, where he and Rick had crash landed and had to survive under grueling conditions until rescued, he’d sat down to write about his experience there. Not the actual plane wreck or being marooned on a deserted South Pacific island, but about the incredibly vivid dream he’d had while they were there. In his dream, he and Rick had been transformed into two young men during the Battle of Britain—and they’d been both doomed in love and by the war. David had changed their names a little bit for the purposes of the script, but had essentially written the dream as he’d remembered it. He’d feverishly written the screenplay in a matter of weeks, desperately trying to recapture some of the heartbreak of the story that had played out in his dream before he forgot all the details.

The fact that he could remember nearly every element of the dream as though he was watching a movie had been an unexpected blessing. When he was finished, however, he thought he had a hopelessly maudlin tearjerker that no one would ever want to read. Emma had sobbed her way through the script and then begged him to shop The Boys of Summer around. To his surprise, one of the smaller studios he’d worked with in the past had snapped it up, claiming that WW2 stories were back in vogue again.

David now found himself being hailed as a ‘promising’ scriptwriter after years of failed projects. Fortunately, his boss was cool about him needing flexible hours, and things had slowed down due to the holidays anyway. Besides, from a practical standpoint, David’s newfound status wasn’t hurting Pegasus Productions, either. And his boss had offered to invest in the project, too.

“I wasn’t talking about the movie, though I still don’t see why you couldn’t play you. You’re certainly buff enough these days.” She snagged another cookie.

He smacked at her hand, but not very hard. The ‘buff’ compliment was nice to hear. “Yeah, but no amount of makeup or workouts will make me twenty again.” His voice was rueful. “Most of those pilots were hardly more than schoolboys.”

“I thought you made the characters older for the movie.”

“A bit. More than I liked, to be honest.” The studio had balked at finding actors young enough for the script the way it had originally been written. A gay love story set during the Battle of Britain had been a tough enough sell to begin with. The studio had been worried about projecting the wrong image had they gone with lead actors barely out of their teens.

He’d argued for keeping the integrity of the story intact, but it had been Rick who pointed out that maybe it was better to compromise on that point in order to get the story out there for people to see.

“A movie like that might have made a difference to me growing up.” He’d shrugged when he said it, but he’d liked the script. He said so. He’d also given David a funny look after reading it. “That was your dream?” he’d asked.

“More or less.” David had shrugged in turn.

Rick had surprised him with a full body hug, and then had kissed him as though he was trying to put into that kiss all the words he could not say.

It had ended the debate on the age of the actors, as far as David was concerned.

“Well, they’ve got thirty year old actors playing teenagers in high school all the time. I think you could make it work if you wanted. Face it, you just don’t want to be in front of the camera anymore.”

David nodded in agreement. “It’s an unforgiving spotlight, especially in high-def. Besides, I like looking at things through the other side of the lens.” He’d given up acting years ago. He much preferred his job as a locations scout and being general dogsbody to the production teams for various movies and television programs.

Jaunty Irish pipes accompanied “Christmas in Killarney” on the player. David continued to roll out and cut cookies, dusting them with the lemon zest and granulated sugar before transferring them to the baking sheet.

“So, they’ve cast your role. What about Rick’s?”

“Nothing so far. They’re having a hard time casting that part.”

For the movie script, Rick Sutton had become ‘Rick Sheppard’. David had a very specific type in mind to play the role, and he’d made sure to make his wishes known. Everyone knew about the author of some popular vampire stories who’d been vitriolic over the casting of a mega-celebrity to play her main character. The producers for the film had completely shut her out for the rest of the film’s production. The author had later praised the actor’s performance—but that’s not what most people remembered. David didn’t want to end up shut out in the cold because he hated whoever they chose to play Sheppard in his story. But the role of Sheppard was critical. It had to be the right actor.

“So.” Emma dragged the word out playfully, reaching for another cookie but giving in with grace when David threatened her with a spatula. “Why the big push for the holiday spirit this year?”

“I don’t know what you mean.” David bent over the open oven door, positioning the cookies within. Hopefully Em would blame the redness of his face on the heat from the stove. He straightened and set the timer.

“David. The baking, the decorations. You’re kind of going all out with the Spirit of Christmas this year, aren’t you?

He maintained his cool, scattering more flour on the counter and re-working the dough. “I always decorate.”

“You haven’t done more than string some lights on the palm tree out front for years. This time it looks as though you hired Martha Stewart.”

“I told you, the Grinch stole all my decorations last year. He didn’t bring them back until this past week.”

“Uh-huh. Not buying it.”

David sighed and tossed the pot holder down on the counter. “Okay, so Rick hasn’t had much of a Christmas for the past, oh, I dunno, five or six years. This is the first time he’s been to his brother’s for the holidays since he was discharged from the military.” For being gay. Even though he didn’t say it aloud, he knew that both he and Em were thinking it. He often wondered what it was like to love something so much and yet know it was killing you. Rick had given the military everything he had and it had nearly destroyed him. It had taken a desperate man to deliberately use Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell to force a discharge from service.

He swallowed hard. “I just want things to be perfect. Heck, if I could import George Bailey running through the village shouting ‘Merry Christmas’ while snow gently fell around him, I would.”

He snapped floury fingers when he realized he could recreate Bedford Falls, if he so desired. He had connections. He could hire a snowmaker and…

“Don’t.” Em put her fists on her hips.

“Don’t what?”

“I know what you’re thinking. Don’t. Rick doesn’t want a Norman Rockwell Christmas. He just wants to be with people who care about him.”

“But—”

“No buts. Trust me on this one. You don’t need to stage a big Hollywood-style scene. Besides, as hot as it is, you’d never get the snow to last.”

Damn, she really could read minds sometimes.

Emma laughed at his expression. “You’re so adorable when you’re in love.”

David stuck his tongue out at her. “When have you ever seen me in love before?”

“Like this? Never. That’s how I know it’s real.”

David certainly hoped it was real. Sometimes he wondered if the emotion was all one-sided—Rick was so guarded with his own.

“When’s he getting in town?”

David started prepping the next batch of cookies. He wasn’t avoiding her eye, really. “In a couple of days, I think.”

“Hmm.” Her tone indicated he wasn’t fooling her with his practiced nonchalance. “I saw his commercial the other day.”

“Did you?” David looked up, all pretense at not caring about Rick’s schedule vaporized. “What did you think?”

“I honestly teared up at his bit, and you know I am not particularly sentimental as a rule. But it was really good.”

The first time David laid eyes on Rick, he’d pictured him in Hollywood, playing a wide variety of tough-guy-with-a-heart-of-gold roles. He’d pulled some strings when Rick was visiting last and had gotten him an audition for a commercial which featured a solider coming home from the war. It had seemed tailor-made for Rick, and David had been right. Rick was perfect in the role.

“It was good, wasn’t it?” David tried to hide his bias but failed. “I mean, he’s more than just a pretty face—he can act too.”

Em nodded. “I thought he was going to cry when the dog came out of the house and it was so excited to see him. But he didn’t. The emotion was there just under the surface, though. Very convincing. “

“It’s getting a lot of hits on YouTube.” David felt this was a personal achievement. Well, in a way, it was. Rick had thought the whole idea of acting silly, and had only gone along with it to prove to David it wouldn’t work. He’d been surprised when he was accepted for the commercial, and staggered by how much he was paid for what he called ‘sixty seconds of work.’ The parent company, which had just been looking for a patriotic, schmaltzy way of tugging at the heartstrings in order to sell diapers, was delighted with the internet response. David had been getting other nibbles along those lines, casting agents looking for someone with Rick’s devastatingly rugged good looks. Unfortunately, all he could do was forward them on to Rick, along with the membership information to join SAG and the other local organizations for actors. He hoped Rick didn’t think he was being a nag or trying to pressure him into relocating to the mainland.

“He hasn’t said anything more along the lines of moving here, though, has he?”

David shook his head. The only thing David wanted for Christmas was to hear that Rick had given up his air charter business in Hawaii and was moving to California. Where they could have a shot at a real relationship. It was a lot to hope for, though. Nothing could have surprised David more than when Rick came to visit last summer. Sure, he was reconnecting with his brother again, but he’d spent a lot of nights over at David’s place, just the same.

The twang of a ukulele accompanied “Mele Kalikimaka” on the CD player, and David made a mental note to remember how to pronounce that phrase. It might come in handy over the next couple of weeks.

“No, but we email each other all the time.” Well, David emailed Rick. He sent chatty emails about his day, and photos that he’d taken that week. He’d written long emails from his hotel room late at night, when he was bored and just a little bit lonely, working on some out-of-town job for Pegasus Productions. Rick, on the other hand, leaned toward one word responses. Sometimes he sent links to interesting articles, which David took as a hopeful sign that they were still in a relationship, but a grand epistolary romance, it was not. On some level David wondered if it would have been different if they were still writing old-fashioned snail mail letters to each other. If maybe the very fact that the letters took so long to arrive would lend some poignancy and strength to the communication. He doubted it though. He suspected only the convenience of email made Rick communicate at all.

Something of his thoughts must have showed on his face.

Em came forward and squeezed his arm. “I just don’t want to see you getting your hopes up or anything.”

“I’m not,” David lied. He forced a smile. “I’m just happy he’s coming into town for Christmas, that’s all. Best gift ever.”

“Uh-huh.” Em touched his arm again. “Well, you know where to find me if you need me. I’ll see you at your party if I don’t catch up with you before then.” She glanced at her watch. “I’m going to be late for yoga class if I don’t leave now.”

“You shouldn’t have eaten those cookies, then. I thought you were supposed to do yoga on an empty stomach.”

Emma wrinkled her nose at him. “Oh-ho, listen to the expert here. Why don’t you come by and sit in on a class sometime? I think it would do you a world of good.”

“Maybe after the New Year.” David smiled and gave her a quick kiss on the cheek. “Be an angel and restart Bing on your way out, will you? I’m all covered in flour.” He waggled sticky fingers at her. The CD player had fallen silent. “Set it on replay while you’re at it, okay?”

“Sure. See you later!” She waved on her way toward the door, pausing to start the CD player again. The opening bars of “Silent Night” filled the room. David smiled as he went back to the baking. He tried one of the gluten-free cookies he’d made earlier. Adding butterscotch chips to the recipe had been a good idea. They didn’t taste like traditional Toll-House cookies, but they didn’t taste like they were full of sand, either. Still, they weren’t the same as the ‘real thing’. They didn’t bake the same, nor did they have the right consistency. There was nothing he loved better than a crispy on the outside, slightly chewy in the middle Christmas cookie. He couldn’t deny, however, that he felt better since making an effort to go gluten-free. Once the holidays were over, he’d go back to being strict again. For now, “but it’s Christmas” was his excuse for cheating.

The impression of movement behind him caught his attention.

“What did you forget this time, Em?” he asked without turning around.

“I didn’t forget anything. Just admiring the view.”

David dropped the cookie cutter with a clatter and whipped around. Rick leaned negligently in the door frame, arms crossed over his chest, his eyes hidden behind dark aviator sunglasses. David stared in disbelief for several seconds, drinking in the long, lean form of his body, memorizing details to take out late at night and review like a miser counting his gold. The way Rick’s black T-shirt stretched taut over muscles that were impressive without being ridiculous in the extreme. The half-smile on his face, as though he weren’t quite certain of his welcome. His dark hair sticking up in wild disarray, as if he’d run a careless hand through it without notice of the results. The suggestion of a rapidly approaching five o’clock shadow on his jaw line.

“Rick!” David was conscious of equal parts delight and dismay. Great. He’d meant to look his best when Rick arrived—hell, he’d offered to meet Rick at the airport and had been turned down, so it had been in his mind to look his absolute hottest when Rick finally came over. Happy as he was to see Rick now—two days early hadn’t been in his plans. “What the hell are you doing here?”

It might have been his imagination, but he thought Rick’s features froze just a little.

“Not that I’m not glad to see you,” he added hastily, looking around for something to wipe his hands on and giving up to smear flour all over his shirt when he couldn’t find a dish towel. “But I thought you weren’t coming in for at least another couple of days. This place is a wreck.”

A curious expression passed over Rick’s face; there and gone so fast that David only had time to register that something wasn’t quite right.

There’s something he doesn’t want to tell me. David’s heart began to batter its way against the walls of his chest like a wild bird looking for its way out of a building.

“I was able to trade my ticket for a few extra days.” Rick removed his sunglasses and tucked them into the collar of his shirt. David was tried to decide if he should give in to his joy in seeing Rick again or play it cool and act as though it was no big deal.

Rick took the decision out of his hands, peeling himself off the doorjamb with an easy grace. David found himself meeting Rick halfway, and then they were kissing as only two people who hadn’t seen each other in months could do. As though their very lives depended on the breath of the other. David tried keeping his floury fingers to himself, but Rick had his hands in David’s hair, turning his head so that their lips could lock. David couldn’t help it; he wound his hands into Rick’s T-shirt.

Even when they parted for air, Rick continued to gently nip and peck at David’s lips, displaying a desire for contact quite unlike him. All of David’s apprehensions vanished under Rick’s touch. Instead, he was filled with a need to growl and mark territory—to lay claim to this man and make sure the world knew who he belonged to.

Embarrassment at his feelings made him push Rick back reluctantly. “Crap. I got flour all over your shirt.” He brushed ineffectually at the black cotton—making things worse as he spread flour and remnants of cookie dough.

“I don’t care.” Rick moved in to kiss him again. This time, David could feel the hard length of Rick’s cock pressing against the denim of his jeans. For one glorious moment, David pictured the two of them sweeping the counter clean of the baking, snagging a bottle of olive oil from the cabinet, and going at it like rabbits right there in the kitchen. Hell, they wouldn’t even need to take their clothes off. David thought he might come right now just from rubbing up against Rick, from the very scent of him, from the feel of Rick’s arms around his body. Just a little more friction, a little more rutting, and he’d be there.

Instead, the timer went off for the next batch of cookies.

“Sorry.” David let the regret leach into his voice. “I gotta get these.”

Rick stepped back and watched with that small smile in place as David got the batch of cookies out of the oven.

He raised an eyebrow when David turned the oven off. “Don’t you have more cookies to bake?” He indicated the remaining mound of dough on the counter.

“Screw the cookies.” David did growl this time.

“I’d rather screw you.” Rick gave David his sexy smile now, the one that should be registered as a lethal weapon.

“Perfect. Exactly what I had in mind.” David grabbed Rick by the arm and dragged him, laughing, toward his bedroom.

It didn’t matter that Rick was hiding something from him. It didn’t matter that David wasn’t looking his best. He pushed Rick into his bedroom and hurried down the hall to the bathroom to wash his hands, hastily glancing in the mirror as he did so. Okay, so he was still grubby from his workout. But he recognized the raw need on the face staring back at him in the glass. Fuck or be fucked, he didn’t care. All he knew was that he needed Rick, right now, in his bed.

He fumbled with the nail file, making sure he got all the dough out from under his fingernails, digging furiously in his haste. He shucked off his T-shirt, too, and ran dampened hands through his hair in an effort to look a bit more presentable before returning to the bedroom.

Rick was waiting for him, standing with his back to the room, looking out the window.

Completely naked.

“God, what you do to me,” David said, causing Rick to turn. His cock stood up from the thatch of dark hair at his groin, begging for attention. David loved everything about Rick’s body, but most especially the aerodynamic perfection of his cock and the way Rick’s body hair seemed to do everything in its power to point to that lovely, wonderful organ.

He stalked across his bedroom, clashing with Rick in what was almost a grapple, mouths fighting for domination while their hands groped and clutched.

“Four months, three days, six hours.” Rick’s voice in David’s ear was electrifying. He was keeping track. By God, he was keeping track. Hope surged like a tidal wave and David engulfed Rick’s mouth, inhaling him deeply as their tongues met and fucked.

God, he was so close. It wouldn’t take much more—in fact, this whole thing was about to become very embarrassing if he wasn’t careful. Through his jogging shorts, he took hold of his cock, squeezing it off at the base to avoid coming too soon. He broke off the kiss with a mewl of frustration. “I need you to fuck me.”

The way Rick’s pupils darkened his entire eye was gratifying, to say the least.

Somehow they made it to the edge of the bed. Rick peeled off David’s running shorts, pausing to mouth his dick appreciatively until David pulled him up with a groan. Silently communicating to each other with only their eyes, they tumbled into bed. David reached for the beside drawer where he kept lube and condoms, but Rick beat him to it with a laugh. David rolled onto his back, clasping his knees with his hands and spreading his legs apart as Rick found what he needed. Yeah, he was begging for it. So what?

He cried out at Rick’s first touch, his cock bouncing up in anticipation. The shudder that ripped through his body was exquisite. More. He needed more. He spread his legs even wider, tucking his pelvis up for easy access. Take me. He didn’t care what he looked like. Just fucking take me.

And more he got. Rick lavished attention on his body like a man starved for water finding an oasis in the desert. The backs of his thighs, the curve of his hipbone, the soft skin of his balls. Every time David thought he couldn’t take it anymore, that he was going to blow his wad any second, Rick would somehow settle him down by changing gears and devoting his efforts to another part of David’s body. His nipples were teased and pinched just the way he liked them, sending an electric current straight to his dick. Rick mapped every inch of David’s skin with his mouth, his lovely, oh-so-talented mouth. David writhed and basked under the pleasure of Rick’s touch, again and again coming to the edge of orgasm without crossing over.

David almost sobbed with relief when Rick finally brushed his hole. He arched up into the touch, his thighs quivering with tension. “Oh God, yes. Yes!”

Lubed fingers entered his body, pumping and thrusting in a way that had him rocking back against Rick’s hand.

“Look at you.”

The sound of Rick’s voice, so unusual during their lovemaking, made David open his eyes.

“You want this so bad. You—” Rick was obviously at a loss for words. “You abandon yourself. “

“Less talk, more fucking,” David ground out.

Rick laughed, as he knew Rick would. Rick withdrew his fingers from David’s ass. The loss was keen, but momentary. He watched in fascinated anticipation as Rick rolled on a condom and lined himself up. The pressure of Rick’s cock against his asshole was exquisite torture. David forced himself to relax, even as his entire body wanted to arch up into the pressure entering it.

“Fuck, fuck, fuck.” David turned his head from side to side as Rick folded him up and began to thrust. He felt the powerful contact of Rick’s thighs against the back of his own, and the indescribable fullness that came from having Rick’s cock fully up his ass. The urge to push back against him was powerful but David held still, maintaining his position so that Rick could pound him freely.

A groan tore its way out of Rick’s throat and David smiled to himself at the knowledge of his power. It was a brief triumph, however. Rick caught the edge of his prostate, and David saw sparks behind closed lids. He slid over the edge into his orgasm. Rick continued to pound him, triggering shudder after shudder long after he thought he was done.

Rick suddenly stiffened, and David felt Rick’s thighs tighten as he released himself into the condom, the warmth filling David from within. He hooked his legs around Rick and rested, panting a little with the weight of Rick on top of him.

“Now, that’s what I call a Merry Christmas,” David said, in the quiet that followed.

He felt Rick’s laughter against his chest.

****

“No, you can’t have any sausage balls. They’re for Christmas.”

“I’m starving.”

“Well, if I’d known you were coming into town early, I’d have made sure there was plenty of food for feeding time at the zoo.” The morning sun streamed through the kitchen window, as golden and glorious as David’s mood. He hummed “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” as he filled two mugs with steaming coffee.

“But you have enough to feed an army!” Rick protested. He was looking gorgeous, as usual, shirtless and wearing nothing but sweat pants. David was tempted to give him anything he wanted but felt he had to put up a token fight.

“You’re welcome to as many gluten-free sausage balls as you can eat.” David smiled sweetly.

“Um, thanks but no thanks.” Rick groused a little bit more but then began fixing the two of them omelets with chopped spinach and green peppers.

David cradled his coffee mug in his hands and asked the questions he’d been avoiding since yesterday afternoon.

“So why did you come to the mainland early? Does your brother know you’re here?”

Rick froze momentarily as he stood at the stove, his back an expressive line of unwillingness to talk, and then he forced himself to relax. David had to give him credit; his level of self-control was amazing.

He tended to the omelets as though nothing had happened. “I got an audition for your script. For the part of Rick Sheppard. I came over early to test for the part. I didn’t want to say anything until I knew for sure, but they offered me the role.”

He expertly scooped the omelets out of the frying pan and turned, plates in hand, to face David. His expression was one of hopeful anxiety.

Elation and concern warred within David. He didn’t know what to say.

Rick’s shoulders sagged. “You’re not happy. I can turn the part down, you know.”

“What makes you think I’m not happy?” David forced a beaming smile. Okay, he’d pictured Rick in the role as he’d written the screenplay, but he never thought Rick would actually get it–he was too new to the business. Then too, there was the fact Rick would be acting out love scenes with some hot, young actor, and David wouldn’t be human if a part of him wasn’t slightly jealous. “This is fantastic! I mean, I never thought you’d be offered the part, but you are perfect for it.”

I wrote it with you in mind, after all.

Sure, the part had been written for a younger version of Rick, but it was Rick just the same. There was a kind of beautiful symmetry in Rick playing the character in the dream that had made David bold enough to declare his feelings for Rick in the first place.

The tension in Rick’s shoulders visibly eased. “Really? You’re okay with this? I wasn’t going to accept the part until I knew how you felt about it.”

“Are you kidding? You’ll be awesome.” David moved in closer and kissed him. He suddenly pushed Rick back so he could stare at him. “Wait, does this mean you’re relocating to California?”

Red-faced, Rick set the plates on the table. “I got an offer for the charter service. That, plus the insurance money on the wrecked plane gives me a little cushion to see if this acting thing is going to work. I’m not giving up the house in Hawaii just yet,” he was quick to add, “but I can lease that for now. I figure I’ll give the acting thing a shot and see what happens.”

David thought he was happy before, but now he wanted to burst into song like a character from a cheesy musical. “Well, you know you can hang out here until you find a place of your own, if you want.” He made an effort to sound nonchalant, and caught Rick grinning knowingly at him. Oh well.

“Sam doesn’t know I came over early,” Rick confessed when they were cleaning up after breakfast. “I didn’t want to say anything until I knew for sure what was happening.”

“Don’t get your hopes up,” David warned. “I’ve seen more than one pilot or movie fold for lack of investors or poor market testing. Just because you’ve been offered the part doesn’t mean it’s a sure thing.”

“I know.” Rick was quiet when he answered. After a beat, he said, “Sam invited you to join us for Christmas. I guess he figures they’ll get to see more of me if you’re in the same house too.”

homecooked dinner flickr commonsImages of himself by Rick’s side suddenly flooded his mind—the two of them holding hands at the table, taking a post-prandial walk after they’d stuffed themselves with holiday goodies, his sausage balls being the hit of the gathering. “Cool. I’d like that.”

Rick’s smile was like someone had turned on a spotlight. It dimmed a little as a small frown creased his forehead. “You’re sure you’re okay with the movie thing?”

Rick’s uncertainly was endearing.

“Yes.” David reinforced his affirmation with a kiss. “I was just surprised, that’s all. I hadn’t heard anything at all, and well, you’re brand new at this.” He frowned. “You didn’t agree to a ridiculously low salary, did you?”

Rick snorted. “Don’t worry. Remember, Sam’s a lawyer. He won’t let me sign anything unless he looks it over first.”

“Well, that goes ditto for me too. I know the difference between a good contract and a bad one, so let me take a look at it as well.”

Later that evening, he pulled out his duffle bag with the intent on packing a few things to take with him to Sam’s house. It was the same bag he’d taken with him on their ill-fated flight that had resulted in a crash landing on a deserted island. Sometimes David dreamed of the crash, only in his nightmares he’d turned Rick over in the pilot’s seat to discover sightless eyes staring off into eternity. He always woke from those dreams with a startled gasp. Just being able to reach out and touch Rick was a wondrous thing now.

The bag proved to still have some sand, leaf litter, and bits of paper in the bottom of it, and he took it into the bathroom to shake it over the trash can. Ticket stubs to a luau, markers for a snorkeling trip, and receipts from the hotel fluttered over the can, some spilling onto the floor as well. He picked up the receipts—he’d need those at tax time. In fact, he should have turned them in to his boss for reimbursement long ago. Obviously, those normal post-trip details had slipped his mind in the aftermath of a near-death experience. He gave the bag a final thump and something pinged off the can and landed on the tile.

Frowning, he bent over to pick it up. It appeared to be a small disc of some sort. He thought it was cardboard at first, but then he realized it was some type of compressed fabric.  It was smooth to the touch when touched it. Something about it made him want to rub his fingers over it. When he did, he felt the worn edges of stamped lettering. He flipped the disc over, noting the how thin and frayed the material was around the hole meant for a chain to be threaded through. He couldn’t make out the words at first—he had to tip the disc toward the light.

To his surprise, he realized he was looking at a dog tag. A very old dog tag. He smoothed his thumb over the depressed letters in the material, his hand shaking a bit as he read them.

Sheppard, Richard J

It was followed by a string of numbers and the designation “RAF”.

It couldn’t be. It was impossible. He hadn’t even known that the RAF used compressed fabric for ID tags during WW2—he’d assumed they were metal, the way dog tags were in the military today.

How had it gotten in his bag?

Like a flash, the memory came to him of Rick holding the rotting leather journal they’d discovered in the abandoned base on the island. He knew Rick had tucked it in David’s backpack, which had later been stuffed in the duffle on the trip home.

The tag must have fallen out of the journal. What had happened to the journal?

Clutching the tag in his hand, he rushed to the desk in his bedroom, pushing aside papers and opening drawers until he found what he was looking for: the old journal. The book was in poor condition. He’d only tried to read it once; the ink was faded and the pages wanted to disintegrate when he handled them. He’d put it away, hoping it might dry out. But he’d forgotten all about it. Carefully, he opened the cover. On the flyleaf, in rusty brown lettering, he read the name of the journal’s owner.

David Braxton.

Okay. This was a problem. Names that he thought he’d made up obviously belonged to real people. The very first thing he needed to do was contact the production company and request a name change for the characters.

But that begged the question: how had he come up with the names in the first place? Perhaps he unconsciously picked the name Braxton after having seen it in the journal, though he didn’t remember doing so. But the dog tag? He’d never seen it before today.

Sitting at his desk, the journal in his lap, he opened his palm and looked at the tag lying there. What if his dream wasn’t just a dream? If it was real, then the David in his dream somehow ended up in the South Pacific during the war—and carrying his Rick’s tag.

Goosebumps raised on his arms.

“Hey. You okay?”

He looked up to see Rick leaning in the doorway, as though he’d been leaning in David’s doorways his entire life.

David smiled, tucking the tag into his pocket. He closed the journal, placing it on the desk as he stood up. “Yeah.” His voice was a little shaky. “Just got distracted by some research.”

“That from the island?” Rick indicated the book.

David nodded, joining Rick at the door.

“Something tells me there’s another story there.”

“Yeah.” David took Rick’s hand in his own, marveling at the feel of the warm flesh against his skin. “But that can keep for another day.”

“Hey.” Rick looked down at their joined hands, his voice suddenly soft. “Things have been a bit crazy lately. I’m afraid I haven’t gotten you anything for Christmas yet. What do you want?”

He raised his clear blue eyes to lock gazes with David, giving his hand a little squeeze.

“You’re here,” David said simply. “What more could I want?”

The disc felt like it was burning a hole in his pocket.

~the end~

 

 

The Jackal’s House by Anna Butler: Release Day Book Tour & Giveaway!

Oooh! I’m so excited to be able to share this with you at last! It’s here, the second installment in Anna Butler’s fantastic steampunk M/M romance series, Lancaster’s Luck. If you haven’t yet met Rafe Lancaster in the brilliant debut of The Gilded Scarab–rush out and get it right now. The Gilded Scarab was nominated in the 2015 Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Awards, and it was well-deserved. Rafe Lancaster is going to be your new book boyfriend, let me tell you. Not that you’d be able to tear Rafe away from Ned, the love of his life. But he would be an incredibly charming dinner companion and a devilishly useful man to have at your back in a pinch. Don’t take my word for it though–go, read Rafe’s story, then come back and snatch up the next book in the series. Anna tells me The Jackal’s House is even better than the first book, and don’t you know, I think she’s right!

How can you argue with all my favorite tropes? Egyptian archeologists on the hunt for buried tombs. Violent death. Shenanigans at the dig site. Rumors of the Jackal-Headed God, Anubis, walking the desert at night… and Rafe and Ned in the thick of it all! This is where I say, “Shut up and take my money!”

Better yet, she’s told me all about her plans for the NEXT book in the series, so yippee! More Ned and Rafe to come!

THE JACKAL’S HOUSE

Something is stalking the Aegyptian night and endangering the archaeologists excavating the mysterious temple ruins in Abydos. But is it a vengeful ancient spirit or a very modern conspiracy…

Rafe Lancaster’s relationship with Gallowglass First Heir, Ned Winter, flourishes over the summer of 1900, and when Rafe’s House encourages him to join Ned’s next archaeological expedition, he sees a chance for it to deepen further. Since all the Houses of the Britannic Imperium, Rafe’s included, view assassination as a convenient solution to most problems, he packs his aether pistol—just in case.

Trouble finds them in Abydos. Rafe and Ned begin to wonder if they’re facing opposition to the Temple of Seti being disturbed. What begins as tricks and pranks escalates to attacks and death, while the figure of the Dog—the jackal-headed god Anubis, ruler of death—casts a long shadow over the desert sands. Destruction follows in his wake as he returns to reclaim his place in Abydos. Can Rafe and Ned stand against both the god and House plots when the life of Ned’s son is on the line?

Title: The Jackal’s House
Series: Lancaster’s Luck: Book II
Sequel to The Gilded Scarab
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Publication Date: 30 October 2017
Genre: Steampunk adventure m/m romance
Wordcount: 111,600
Cover Artist: Reese Dante
Illustrator (Map): Margaret Warner

Goodreads

About The Series
The Gilded Scarab
The Jackal’s House
Lancaster’s Luck is set in a steampunk world where, at the turn of the 20th century, the eight powerful Convocation Houses are the de facto rulers of the Britannic Imperium. In this world of politics and assassins, a world powered by luminiferous aether and phlogiston and where aeroships fill the skies, Captain Rafe Lancaster, late of Her Majesty’s Imperial Aero Corps, buys a coffee house in one of the little streets near the Britannic Museum in Bloomsbury.

So begins the romantic steampunk adventures which have Rafe, a member of Minor House Stravaigor, scrambling over Londinium’s rooftops on a sultry summer night or facing dire peril in the pitch dark of an Aegyptian night. And all the while, sharing the danger is the man he loves: Ned Winter, First Heir of Convocation House Gallowglass, the most powerful House in the entire Imperium.

Find out more about the Lancaster’s Luck books and the world of Rafe and Ned!

Excerpt
The only times I’d seen him this relaxed and at peace back home had been while he lay against me, skin against skin, sated after a night of lovemaking. Well, with luck I could provide that too, although perhaps not quite skin to skin. The sand got in everywhere if you tried that.

I slipped my hand into his. We were going to one of our favorite spots half a mile or so from the expedition house, a place where a small sandy depression in the land formed a perfect bowl before the ground started rising to the hills edging the Western Desert. Behind us, sparks from the village’s fires danced upward to meet the star-diamonds, and out on the canal a fisherman leaned out of his boat to grasp his nets, illuminated by a moon that had leached all the color out of the world, leaving it gray and black with shadow.

Far in the distance came a sharp yapping.

A jackal, likely, rather than one of the village dogs. The desert teemed with them, those ancient psychopomps to the souls of the dead. Another picked up the call, like an echo. Behind us, from the reedbeds of the canal, came the low ugh-ugh-ugh of a bittern and the higher-pitched whoop of the ibis.

Ned’s quiet breathing as he walked beside me became deeper, relaxed, and easy. His eyes gleamed in the starlight. “I love this.” His grip on my hand tightened. “Listen to that! Can you imagine what it must have been like all those thousands of years ago? So little in this old land has changed. Fishermen in Seti’s time went out on the canal in boats very like that one, and the bitterns kept up the same commentary as they watched. Seti heard the jackals too, and worshipped them.”

“I draw the line at worshipping dogs.”

“Heathen!”

The jackals started up again, farther off, the sound harder and angrier. Two dogs trading insults and gearing up for a little manly jostling perhaps, or a dog posturing for a reluctant female. After a little while, the barks and growls became a screaming yelp, and then there was silence.

“I wonder if she was interested anyway.” Ned sounded amused, showing he’d followed the same line of thought I had. He shook out the soft bedthrow and settled it over the sands.

“One of them lost, and I’d be surprised if it was the lady.” I settled onto the blanket.

Ned lay on his side, facing me, propping himself up on one elbow and using his free hand to trace a fingertip down the side of my face. “Do you really want to talk about the mating habits of jackals?”

“I would far rather talk about ours. Or to be precise, I don’t want to talk but to act.”

“Good.” Ned leaned over me. “Because I shall follow Benedick’s example and stop your mouth.”

With a kiss. With lots of kisses.

Well, blow me down hard. If there was one thing Shakespeare got right, it was the efficacy of a kiss to stop a man talking himself to death and to focus his mind on the essentials. For the next few minutes… years… centuries… Ned and I indulged in deep, increasingly urgent kisses, hands exploring bodies that were familiar now but which always needed to be mapped out anew. Just so I could be sure, you understand, that nothing had changed. Some kisses were so deep, I would swear Ned was using his tongue to check out my lungs from the inside—an exercise that left me breathless. His hands slid inside my shirt, hot and possessive. No doubt Ned too was reacquainting himself with familiar territory.

“Do love me tonight, Rafe. Dear Rafe.”

Well, I didn’t need to be asked twice.

Buy Links
Dreamspinner Press ebook | Dreamspinner Press paperback

Universal link to other digital stores

Individual Store Links:
Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk | Apple iBooks | B&N | Indigo |
Kobo

Giveaway
Enter the Rafflecoptor draw for
1st prize—$25 or equivalent Amazon gift card
2nd prize—a signed paperback of the first Lancaster’s Luck book, the Gilded Scarab.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

About Anna

Anna was a communications specialist for many years, working in various UK government departments on everything from marketing employment schemes to organizing conferences for 10,000 civil servants to running an internal TV service. These days, though, she is writing full time. She recently moved out of the ethnic and cultural melting pot of East London to the rather slower environs of a quiet village tucked deep in the Nottinghamshire countryside, where she lives with her husband and the Deputy Editor, aka Molly the cockerpoo.

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Fool’s Gold: Audiobook Version and Freebie!

It’s here at last!

The audiobook version of Fool’s Gold, narrated by the charming and talented Gary Furlong, is now available on Audible.com! And as part of the celebration, from now until 9/10/17, you can grab a FREE digital copy of the award-winning Fool’s Gold to go with it!

Eight years ago, Jake Stanford had it all: a spot on the U.S. Olympic Equestrian Team and the love of his life, Rich Evans. A tragic accident wipes out everything in the blink of an eye. Hard work and sacrifice get him another shot at Olympic Gold, but only if he puts his past behind him and agrees to work with Rich again.

Bound by secrets he cannot share, Rich was forced to give up Jake eight years ago. Now he has a second chance to help Jake realize his dreams. But the secrets that drove them apart haven’t changed, and Rich must face them or risk losing Jake forever.

This is a story very dear to my heart–a love letter to my horses and the sport of eventing. Not to mention, I loved tearing Jake and Rich’s lives apart, only to force them back together to see if they could work things out!

So be my guest, snag yourself a free copy and check out the smooth-as-silk audio treat that is Gary Furlong’s rendition of the story. You’ll be glad you did!

Coming Soon to Audiobook: Fool’s Gold by Sarah Madison

Wow! I can’t believe the last time I posted to the website was back in March!

Looking back, I can see why. A lot of stuff is going on in my personal life right now–family crises, health issues, work stress… I’ve been keeping my head down low and trying to work on various projects but it’s been slow going.

The good news is that very soon I’ll be announcing the release of Fool’s Gold on Audible! This is my first audiobook ever and I am SO excited. I fell in love with Gary Furlong’s voice during the auditions for narrator and I’m sure you will too. With any luck, it will be released in August.

Fool’s Gold was voted best M/M Romance by the 2016 PGR’s Reviewers Choice Awards. The story is a love letter to my own sport, eventing, and I couldn’t be more pleased to share it with you in audio format. Stay tuned for more details on a release date!

In other good news, I’m working on the final installment of the Sixth Sense series, tentatively titled Deal with the Devil. I had intended to have it finished and submitted to Dreamspinner by March, but all those pesky life trauma things got in the way. It’s going slowly, but I am making forward progress, and hope to have it available for release sometime in 2018.

I’ve also been teaching myself to make promotional graphics and how to put together a newsletter. If you want to keep up with the latest from me (and I promise, it probably won’t be more often than once a quarter–no spammy newsletters from me!), then sign up for my newsletter here.

I look forward to being able to share with you an exact release date on the Fool’s Gold audiobook! Until then, I’ll keep writing.

Unspeakable Words: On Sale At Dreamspinner Press!

I’ve been so pleased with the relaunch of Unspeakable Words! It’s been getting some fabulous reviews, and is on Dreamspinner’s bestseller list. Best of all, right now it’s on sale! I’m not sure for how much longer, so be sure to grab a copy of this expanded version at a great price!

Here are some great reviews from LoveBytes, Sinfully Gay Book Romance Book Reviews, Joyfully Jay, GayBook Reviews, Diverse Reader, Boy Meets Boy Reviews, and Rainbow Book Reviews, just to name a few! (I feel like someone thanking people at the Academy Awards–I’m bound to leave someone out!)

I have a lot a blog posts out with this book tour, including interviews at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words and Open Skye Book Reviews. I’ve also begun sharing about my experiences at Writer’s Police Academy, part of my research for the Sixth Sense series. Do drop by Authors Speak at Rainbow’s Gate for more about Writer’s Police Academy, but also fantastic giveaways, and the latest on upcoming releases by some of your favorite authors! My April post will be about crime scene investigations and blood spatter, so come check it out. 🙂

It’s Here! Release Day for Unspeakable Words by Sarah Madison

Wow! It’s finally here! I am so excited to be able to share this with you–the brand new relaunch of Unspeakable Words and the Sixth Sense series! To start things off, I have a post explaining my decision to relaunch the series over at MM Goodbook Reviews, and I am chatting about when characters misbehave at GayBook Reviews. Tomorrow I’ll be over at Bayou Book Junkies, so do come and make the rounds with me!

There have been some excellent reviews already, including this delightful one from Debra at Sinfully Gay Romance Book Reviews!

I’m off this weekend to a much needed retreat in the mountains: just me, the BF, the dogs, and a snow-dusted cabin. No internet, but a roaring fire in the hearth. I’ll be posting the first in a series about my experiences at Writer’s Police Academy (part of the research I did for this series) at Authors Speak at Rainbow’s Gate on March 12th, internet permitting. And there will be more in the Unspeakable Words relaunch tour, so stay tuned!

You can find the brand new Unspeakable Words at Dreamspinner Press, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble, as well as some of your other favorite outlets. Find out more about the next installment in the series as well!