Thursday, December 14, 2017

Random Tales of Christmas 2017 Part 7

Finding Myles by Lisa Worrall
A horrifying accident on their way to their wedding sends Ed and Myles's life into a tailspin. Then Myles disappears, leaving Ed with instructions to move on and find someone else. But Ed has other ideas about what's best for him and begins an arduous search to find his love.

Two days before Christmas, he finally has a concrete lead and his search is over. But can Ed convince Myles that the best thing for both of them is to be together?

Northern Lights by Asta Idonea
A dream romantic vacation to Iceland to see the Northern Lights turns into a nightmare when James’s workaholic boyfriend, Richard, again insists on putting his work first. After a call from Richard’s office, an argument ends with the couple splitting up for good. Not only has Richard left James, he’s left him abandoned to explore the park alone, where James quickly gets lost. But just when things seem darkest, the Solstice works its magic, and James finds the guiding light he needs. Or it finds him.

A story from the Dreamspinner Press 2015 Advent Calendar package "Sleigh Ride".

Handmade Holidays by Nathan Burgoine 
At nineteen, Nick is alone for the holidays and facing reality: this is how it will be from now on. Refusing to give up completely, Nick buys a Christmas tree, and then realizes he has no ornaments. A bare tree and an empty apartment aren’t a great start, but a visit from his friend Haruto is just the ticket to get him through this first, worst, Christmas. A box of candy canes and a hastily folded paper crane might not be the best ornaments, but it’s a place to start.

A year later, Nick has realized he’s not the only one with nowhere to go, and he hosts his first “Christmas for the Misfit Toys.” Haruto brings Nick an ornament for Nick’s tree, and a tradition—and a new family—is born.

As years go by, Nick, Haruto, and their friends face love, betrayal, life, and death. Every ornament on Nick’s tree is another year, another story, and another chance at the one thing Nick has wanted since the start: someone who’d share more than the holidays with him.

Of course, Nick might have already missed his shot at the one, and it might be too late.

Still, after fifteen Christmases, Nick is ready to risk it all for the best present yet.

The Holly Groweth Green by Amy Rae Durreson
When wounded doctor Laurence Payne is stranded in the snowy English countryside on Christmas Eve, 1946, he is surprised to stumble upon Mistle Cottage and its mysterious inhabitant. Avery claims to be an Elizabethan wizard, and Laurence struggles to explain away the atmosphere of the cottage as mere coincidence and trickery. He spends a magical twelve days of Christmas celebrating with Avery, but then wakes to find his lover has vanished and the cottage has fallen to ruin overnight.

Laurence’s investigations lead him to the story of an ancient fairy curse—Avery is doomed to spend only Christmas Eve to Twelfth Night in human form until he finds true love. Laurence sets out to give Avery the greatest gift of all—his heart and with it the chance to live for more than the fleeting winter weeks he’s been sentenced to.

A story from the Dreamspinner Press 2017 Advent Calendar "Stocking Stuffers."

Miracles happen every day and what better time of year to be reminded of miracles than Christmastime.  Amy Rae Durreson brings to life a tale of compassion, friendship, lust, romance, history and wraps it all together in a beautiful Christmas bow.  Through Laurence and Avery's story we discover two people who have been lost due to time, circumstance, their own doing, or perhaps fate but we also find two people who realize that being lost doesn't mean you can't find your way free again. 

Whether you are a historical fan or not really doesn't matter because even though The Holly Groweth Green is set in a 1946 post-war English countryside, its really a journey of finding true love, finding the other half that completes you.  As I often find myself saying in my reviews this time of year, it doesn't matter whether your read this tale on a cold December night or in a July heat wave because it will fill your heart with joy and hope, which are emotions we should never say no to.  A lovely addition to my holiday library that I know I'll revisit for many holidays to come.


The Clumsy Santa by Sue Brown 
Charlie discovers love amongst the tinsel. 

Falling in love with Santa is the last thing Charlie Johnson expects when he takes a holiday job as an elf in Santa’s Grotto. Nick is the shyest and clumsiest man Charlie has ever met, but that’s just part of his charm. Charlie falls for Santa, whilst Santa falls head over heels onto the floor. At least they can laugh together about it!

But after several weeks, Charlie starts to despair he will ever be more than Santa’s helper. His holiday job is nearly over, yet Nick hasn’t declared anything more than friendship. Will Charlie ever get his real Christmas wish? 

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Random Tales of Christmas 2017

Part 1  /  Part 2  /  Part 3  /  Part 4
Part 5  /  Part 6

Northern Lights by Asta Idonea
“NO. NO, Bob, listen to me. Bob, listen to me. Yes. No. Yes. Bob. Bob. Calm down.”

I turn off the tap, shake my hands over the sink, and reach for towel as I listen to the one-sided conversation drifting through from the next room. I don’t really know why I’m surprised. It’s not as if this hasn’t happened a hundred times before. Richard and I will make plans, and then that damn phone of his will vibrate, emitting the inane, grimace-inducing ringtone I’ve never been able to stand, and everything will unravel.

Richard and I met at a Christmas party five years ago, just before he started his job at Robert Preston & Associates. To date, that was the one and only Christmas we’ve managed to spend together. Every year since, something work-related has called him away. He does his best to make it home for dinner on my birthday, which falls during the holidays, but even that is touch-and-go. Some years I’ve ended up celebrating alone, surrounded by fast-cooling, half-eaten slices of pizza and a pile of empty beer cans.

For months I’ve been begging him for this overseas trip. We’ve been going through a tough patch, and I thought spending the holidays together—without interruptions, just the two of us—would go a long way toward healing the rift. I’d held out hope that the distances involved would grant us some measure of security, that the fact that we were out of the country would make Bob think twice before dialing. But it appears I was wrong. Honestly, you’d think Richard was Bob’s boss and not the other way around, given the manner in which the man carries on.

“Yes, all right. Let me check flight times and I’ll call you back, okay? Yes, I’ll be there, I promise. Try not to panic. Yes, I’ll call you straight back. As soon as I know, you’ll know. Okay, Bob, hang tight.”

I lean over the sink, staring at my reflection in the mirror. It seems that Grinch-Bob has struck again, ruining the holidays for the fourth year running. I concentrate on my breathing, trying to stay calm for the conversation I know is coming.

In the bedroom, Richard sighs and sets the phone down. A moment later he’s standing in the doorway, and I look up to meet his gaze in the mirror.

“Jimmy, I’m sorry, but Bob—”

“Yeah, yeah, I heard.” I bite back the rant hovering on the tip of my tongue and brush past him into the bedroom. “When do we leave?”

Handmade Holidays by Nathan Burgoine
One: First Christmas
Nick shouldered his way through the door of his apartment and barely managed to manoeuvre the heavy and awkwardly long box he carried through the narrow entrance. He shuffled forward—his glasses fogged over—and cursed when the box hit something, shoving it back hard into his stomach.

Nick lowered it, setting the box down between his boots, and managed to close the door behind him.

He exhaled.

After shucking off his coat and his hat, he wiped his glasses on his shirt. Finally able to see, he lugged the box around the single corner in his bachelor pad and laid it out in the so-called “living area” opposite the tiny kitchenette.

“Merry Christmas,” he said.

The box contained a fake Christmas tree. It was actually a pretty nice one. It would have been expensive, but it was the floor model, as well as the last one the store had, and given that Christmas was tomorrow, they’d slashed it down to a quarter of its price. The Christmas-themed store that had opened at the other end of the mall where Nick worked would be gone by the end of Boxing Week.

Nick took a few seconds to put his coat up on the hook and then undid his boots. He filled up his kettle—a thrift store castoff—and put it on the finicky oven to boil. The Christmas Eve shift at Book It had kicked his ass. It was time for coffee. He’d been picking up as many shifts as he could—Christmas retail being the season for staff to get sick, have exams, or just plain want time off—and his boss, Tracey, knew she could rely on him. If she called, he dropped whatever he was doing and came in. Which was how he’d ended up working eleven days in a row, including this last shift, where he’d stayed two hours after the mall had closed to help set up for Boxing Day.

Which he would also be working.

But that was in two days. He had tonight to himself, and all of tomorrow, too, before he had to face going back to work. The next two pay cheques would make it all worthwhile.

The box hadn’t closed properly when the clerks had tried to pack it up for him on his lunch break, and he’d told them not to worry. They’d just shoved in all the branches and the stand and then used packing tape to keep it closed. The end result was a lumpy mess, so he used a knife to cut the tape free.

If he was going to be on his own for Christmas for the first time ever—not to mention the foreseeable future—he was at least going to have a Christmas tree, dammit. He was nineteen. An adult. He could do this.

The apartment buzzer went off, startling him. He opened his door and crouched down. One of the only benefits of being in the apartment right above the entrance was being able to see through to the front door. Just outside the glass door was a figure in a puffy brown jacket, red scarf, and a black knit cap. Between the cap and the scarf, it wasn’t actually possible to tell who it was, but Nick smiled, knowing only one person who’d drop by unannounced on Christmas Eve. It had to be Haruto, checking up on him.

Nick slipped on his runners and jogged down the single flight.

“Perfect timing. I just got home,” Nick said.

“Ouch,” Haruto said, pulling off his mitts. “I thought the mall closed at five?”

“Two hours of setting up for Boxing Day, a half-hour wait for the bus—reduced holiday schedule—and voila! I just got home.”

They climbed the stairs together, and Nick held the door open for Haruto when they got to his apartment. The kettle started to whistle as Nick stepped in after him, and he went to the stove to pull it off the ring.


“You always know what to say,” Haruto said. By the time he’d pulled off his coat and scarf and undone his boots, Nick had two mugs ready. He put a splash of milk in Haruto’s and a teaspoon of sugar into his own. Turning, he grinned when he saw Haruto sans hat.

“You like?”

Haruto’s hair was dyed with two bright streaks: one green, one red.

“Very festive.”

“Thank you.” Haruto bowed and then took the mug. “What’s that?” He nodded at the box.

“A Christmas tree. As I am uninvited from this and all future Christmases with the Wilsons, it behoved me to get my own Christmas tree.” He tried not to sound bitter. He failed.

“It looks huge.”

“It’s as tall as me.”

“In this place?” Haruto looked around the apartment.

Nick shrugged. It was a fair question. His bachelor pad was tiny. He’d been lucky to find something he could afford, when everything had hit the fan, but he actually hadn’t minded that much. Sure, the whole space—kitchen and bathroom included—was probably the same size as his bedroom at his folks’, but it was close to a major bus route, so he could walk to groceries, and it wasn’t like he’d had any belongings. With the hours ramping up as Christmas got closer, he’d finally managed to save up for a twin bed and mattress and had gathered castoffs to make up some of the rest. He had a pretty comfy two-seater couch and a small television. Post-Christmas, he was hoping to get himself a computer to put on the small desk he’d rescued from a curb.

“It’ll class the place up a bit,” Nick said.

Haruto smiled and drank some coffee. “If you say so. Oh, hey…” He put the mug on the kitchen counter and went back to the door. He rummaged in his backpack and pulled out a package wrapped in pale-blue paper, before handing it to Nick.

“Merry Christmas,” he said.

Nick felt a tightness in his chest, and his throat ached. He swallowed. “You didn’t have to get me a present.”

“It’s barely anything. I promise,” Haruto said. “Seriously, open it.”

Nick carefully undid the wrapping paper, sliding his finger under the tape.

Haruto sighed. “Of course you’re not a shredder.”

Nick didn’t dignify that with a response. When he freed the box from the paper, though, he smiled. It was a box of small individually wrapped candy canes.

“Candy,” Nick said. “How did you know?”

Haruto laughed. Nick’s sweet tooth was notorious. “You’re funny. You want help with the tree?”

“Hell yes.”

They spent twenty minutes assembling the tree—the instructions weren’t in the box, but letters labelled the branches and they eventually figured it out. With the tree finally assembled, Haruto helped him shove it as far into one corner of the room as possible.

It loomed there.

“It’s not subtle,” Haruto said before rubbing his hands together. “Right. Ornaments?”

The spark of fun and lightheartedness Nick had started to feel while they’d assembled the tree died. He closed his eyes. “I am so stupid.”

“What’s wrong?” Haruto said.

“I don’t have ornaments. I don’t have anything. Because my parents…” He exhaled and opened his eyes. “I can’t believe I bought a fucking Christmas tree and didn’t think to get any fucking ornaments.” He shook his head, fighting tears. He would not cry again over those people. “I’m an idiot.”

“Stop.” Haruto lifted his arms. “Come here.”

“I don’t need a hug. I need Christmas ornaments.”

“You need both, Nicky, but all I’ve got’s a hug.”

Nick chuckled. He took a step forward and let Haruto give him a squeeze.


“Little bit,” Nick said. He was quite a bit taller than Haruto, and he rested his chin on Haruto’s head. He was so damn lucky Haruto was here, or that horrible moment of realization would have come alone, and he’d had more than enough horrible alone moments, frankly. Hugs would definitely do, in place of ornaments. Cute, stylish Haruto had been amazing while Nick’s life had fallen apart. The box of candy canes was just the latest in a string of small things that made his new and terrifying life of flying solo a shade less frightening.

The box of candy canes.

“Wait,” Nick said, pulling back. “Yes I do.”


Nick went to the counter and picked up the box of candy canes. “You brought ornaments.”

Haruto smiled. “I did. I’m a genius. And I can do you one better, if you can handle me cutting the wrapping.”

Nick blinked. “Come again?”

“Give me the paper,” Haruto said.

Nick handed him the blue wrapping paper and headed for the tree. He started putting the candy canes on the branches. He’d have to ignore the back of the tree, and Lord knew he’d eat half of them before Boxing Day, but… It could be cool, right?

He turned and saw that Haruto had unfolded the paper and then refolded it to make a square, tearing off the excess. He started to fold it, and while Nick was hanging the candy canes, Haruto made him a paper crane.

“Ta-da,” he said.

“I didn’t know you did origami.”

“I so don’t. But I can do cranes. My mother and I folded a thousand paper cranes before she got remarried,” Haruto said.

“Seriously? A thousand?”

“It’s a thing.” Haruto waved it off. “You got a hook or something?”

Nick thought about it for a second and then went to the cupboard under his sink. He came back with a garbage bag twist tie, and Haruto looped it around the neck of the crane, twisting it into a hook.

“Gruesome. It looks like he hung himself,” Nick said when Haruto put it on the tree.

“Pretend it’s a little scarf,” Haruto said. “Besides, homemade gifts have heart.”

They sat on the couch and had another cup of coffee, just looking at the tree. Sparsely decorated with candy canes and a single paper crane, it wasn’t exactly majestic.

Nick snorted. “It’s pretty pathetic, eh?”

Haruto leaned over and bumped shoulders with him. “Next year, I’m sure it’ll be fabulous. Just like us.” Then he sighed. “I have to head home. You okay?”

Nick looked at his sad tree again. It was a good tree, sure, but it was practically bare, the candy canes were so sparse. The paper crane, though, made him smile. It was just so Haruto to do that. Maybe his life was a little bare, too, but…

“I think so,” he said.

“Merry Christmas,” Haruto said.

“Merry Christmas.”

After Haruto left, Nick made himself a box of mac and cheese and went back to his couch. Out the window, he caught sight of a star. It must have stopped snowing. It wasn’t the first star of the evening by any means, but desperate measures and all that.

Nick made a wish.

The Holly Groweth Green by Amy Rae Durreson
THIS TRAIN clearly wasn’t going anywhere.

It had been sitting in the station for the best part of an hour now, and although at first Laurence had not minded, content to watch the snow sift down onto the white fields and tiled roof of the station house, it was starting to wear on his nerves. The train had been stationary long enough that the carriages were starting to grow cold, and he was increasingly aware of the hour—already almost three, and the light would soon be fading fast. He’d suffered from an irrational dislike of the cold and dark since the Colonsay went down, and he would like to be safely in Portsmouth before the sun set.

Wearily he heaved himself to his feet, left his compartment, and began to make his way down the train.

He found the guard in his van, making tea over a primus stove. He jumped up in surprise as Laurence came in. “Blimey, I didn’t think there was anyone still down that end of the train.”

“Is there a problem?” Laurence asked.

“We’re stuck, guv. Snow across the mouth of the West Meon tunnel ahead of us. Waiting to hear if we can get a line back to London, but there’s problems at Alton as well.”

“Good Lord,” Laurence said, because a reaction seemed to be expected. “Any chance of getting down to Portsmouth tonight?”

The guard shook his head. “We’ll be lucky to get back to town. If you make a change at Woking, maybe, but word is that the snow’s bad at Petersfield too. Wouldn’t risk it if I were you.”

“Damn.” Laurence hadn’t really been looking forward to Christmas in the Officers’ Club, but it would at least have had the comfort of familiarity. Town would mean a hotel and the weary process of making polite conversation with chance acquaintances.

“Most of the other passengers have gone over the road to The Privett Bush. If you wanted to warm up, I’ll walk over when we get the signal to depart.”

“I’ll do that, thank you. Can I bring you back a drink?”

Lisa Worrall
Thank you for reading and taking the time to review and/or rate. It's jaw-dropping to me that you would do either. I feel a bit like Sally Field in her famous Oscar speech "You like me - you actually like me"

I live in a small seaside town just outside London, on the South Coast of England that boasts the longest pier in the world; where I am ordered around by two precocious children and a dog who thinks she's the boss of me.

I've been writing seriously for three years now and love giving voice to the characters warring to be heard in my head, and am currently petitioning for more hours in the day, because I never seem to have enough of them.

I like nothing more than bringing together two people in interesting and sometimes bizarre ways, and hope that the readers enjoy the characters' journey as much as they and I do.

Asta Idonea
Asta Idonea is an alternate pen name of author Nicki J Markus.

Nicki was born in England in 1982, but now lives in Adelaide, South Australia with her husband. She has loved both reading and writing from a young age and is also a keen linguist, having studied several foreign languages.

Nicki launched her writing career in 2011 when she released several short stories with Wicked Nights Publishing. She then had two novellas published with Silver Publishing, prior to the company’s closure.

At present, she has several new projects on the go. As well as branching out into the exciting world of M/M under the pen name Asta Idonea, Nicki is working on the first book in a fantasy-mythology trilogy and hopes to find a publisher for it in 2015.

Nicki currently works as a freelance editor and proofreader, and in her spare time she enjoys completing MOOCs and pursuing other interests, including: reading; music; theatre; cinema; photography; sketching; and cross stitch. She also loves history, folklore and mythology, pen-palling and travel.

Nathan Burgoine 
Nathan Burgoine grew up a reader and studied literature in university while making a living as a bookseller. His first published short story was "Heart" in the collection Fool for Love: New Gay Fiction. Since then, he has had over two dozen short stories published, including This is How You Die (the second Machine of Death anthology).

His first novel, Light, is available from Bold Strokes Books and was a finalist for both the Lambda Literary Award for LGBT SF/Fantasy/Horror, and the BOTYA 2013 Gay & Lesbian (Adult Fiction) ForeWord award. His first novella-length work, "In Memoriam," is included in the collection On the Run, by Wilde City Press.

A cat lover, 'Nathan managed to fall in love and marry Daniel, who is a confirmed dog person. Their ongoing "cat or dog?" détente ended with the adoption of Coach, a six-year old husky. They live in Ottawa, Canada, where socialized health care and gay marriage have yet to cause the sky to cave in.

Amy Rae Durreson
Amy Rae Durreson is a writer and romantic, who writes m/m romances. She likes to go wandering across the local hills with a camera, hunting for settings for her stories. She's got a degree in early English literature, which she blames for her somewhat medieval approach to spelling, and at various times has been fluent in Latin, Old English, Ancient Greek, and Old Icelandic, though please don't ask her to speak any of them now.

Amy started her first novel nineteen years ago (it featured a warrior princess, magic swords, elves and an evil maths teacher) and has been scribbling away ever since. Despite these long years of experience, she has yet to master the arcane art of the semi-colon.

Sue Brown
Sue Brown is owned by her dog and two children. When she isn't following their orders, she can be found plotting at her laptop. In fact she hides so she can plot and has got expert at ignoring the orders.

Sue discovered M/M erotica at the time she woke up to find two men kissing on her favorite television series. The series was boring; the kissing was not. She may be late to the party, but she's made up for it since, writing fan fiction until she was brave enough to venture out into the world of original fiction.

Lisa Worrall

Asta Idonea

Nathan Burgoine

Amy Rae Durreson

Sue Brown

Finding Myles by Lisa Worrall
Northern Lights by Asta Idonea
Handmade Holidays by Nathan Burgoine 

The Holly Groweth Green by Amy Rae Durreson

The Clumsy Santa by Sue Brown

Book Blitz: Rising Series Box Set by Holly Kelly

Title: Rising Box Set
Author: Holly Kelly
Series: Rising #1-3
Genre: Fairy Tales, Fantasy, Young Adult
Release Date: December 12, 2017
Publisher: Clean Teen Publishing
A magical underwater realm awaits! Own books 1-3 of the Best-Selling Rising series by acclaimed author Holly Kelly.

This value-priced boxed set includes the first three novels in the best-selling Rising series: Rising (with an exclusive bonus scene), Descending, and Avenging. Beautifully packaged with brilliant new cover art, this set is perfect for any fan of Greek Mythology and Mermaid Romance stories. Order the Rising series today and submerge yourself in an underwater world full of passion, romance, intrigue and adventure.

Rising: Contains a newly released scene! In a war between the humans and the inhabitants of the sea—humans will lose. Xanthus Dimitriou—the most lethal Dagonian to rise from the ocean—is on a mission to save mankind from annihilation. There’s just one thing standing in his way: the life of a beautiful young woman…

Descending: When Xanthus cashes in a long-standing favor, Kyros is faced with doing two things he thought he’d never do—protect a mermaid and live on land.

Avenging: Two thousand years ago, King Triton witnessed the slaughter and total annihilation of his merchildren. Devastated by the loss, he vowed to never again father a child. Powerful, handsome, and eternally youthful, Triton was no stranger to seduction—yet his resolve was unwavering…until he met Nicole.

Xanthus stepped into her bedroom. Light from the kitchen spilled onto her bed, draping across her sleeping form. Her chest rose with every breath. She slept, unaware of the predator stalking her. Xanthus’s heart pounded and sweat broke out across his forehead as he looked down at her angelic face.

Now was the time. He had to do it.

Breaking her neck would be the best option. Her death would be quick, painless, and not a drop of blood would spill.

He moved to her side. The swells of her breasts rose and fell in her peaceful sleep. His looked her over and struggled to keep his mind off the fact that she was a helpless woman. Her face, her body, everything about her looked delicate, breakable. Out of all the criminals he’d killed in his lifetime, he’d killed very few females. Especially not lush, beautiful…

Hades, he couldn’t kill her… not with her looking like this.

He moved closer and leaned forward. His fingers fumbled with her buttons. He just needed to close her shirt, and then he’d kill her.

He’d just fastened the last one, when her eyes fluttered and then flew open wide as she gasped. She frantically searched the room and then his face. Her tiny hands clasped around his forearms. “Help me! Please don’t let him hurt me. He drugged me. He’s going to…” Her words turned into a heart-wrenching sob as she threw her arms around his chest. Xanthus jerked back, startled at her sudden embrace. He sat frozen for just a moment before his arms pulled her trembling body against his. Her quiet whimpers cut through to his heart. “Shh. It’s okay,” he found himself saying.

“He’s going to hurt me,” she quietly wailed.

“No, Sara. I won’t let him hurt you. It’s okay. You’re safe.” He held her tight, stroking her hair and mumbling words of comfort as she wept against his chest.

Sara’s cries soon quieted as drug-laden sleep overtook her again. Still, Xanthus continued to hold her, continued to caress her. He shouldn’t have let the filthy human go. He should have broken his neck after he stuffed his beating heart down it.

 Xanthus lowered Sara’s limp, slumbering body onto her bed and pulled a blanket over her. Raking his fingers through his hair, he stood. Tears sparkled on her cheeks. Without a thought, he brushed them away with his thumb.

Several minutes later, Xanthus returned to his motorcycle. “Well, that didn’t exactly go as planned,” he said. Now he’d never have the heart to kill her. Perhaps he never had.

He sighed in defeat.

Author Bio:
Holly Kelly is a mom who writes books in her spare time: translation--she hides in the bathroom with her laptop and locks the door while the kids destroy the house and smear peanut butter on the walls. She was born in Utah but moved around a bit, living in Kansas, Texas, and Hawaii where she studied marine biology. She's now back in Utah--"happy valley". She's married to a wonderful husband, James, and they are currently raising 6 rambunctious children. Her interests are reading, writing (or course), martial arts, visual arts, creating Halloween props, and spending time with family.



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