Sunday, November 25, 2018

Week at a Glance: 11/19/18 - 11/25/18

Sunday's Short Stack: A Prairie Dog's Love Song by Eli Easton

Ben Rivers always was a showman. He won awards in 4-H and rodeo competitions from the time he could walk, and he’s happiest in the spotlight. So when he got the chance to be a star—in porn—he took it. He still loves Montana and everything about being a cowboy, but when news of his alternate identity leaks out, he figures he’s lost the town’s goodwill forever. Clyde’s Corner would never accept an openly gay cowboy, even a hometown boy born and bred.

Joshua Braintree always had the notion that he and his best friend’s kid brother, Ben, would end up together. Ben’s always been a diehard cowboy, just like him: they need the land and its freedom as much as they need air. So when Joshua learns Ben moved away from their small Montana town to be a porn star in Vegas, he can hardly believe it. He’s determined to finally declare himself and bring Ben home.

Despite his longtime crush on Joshua, Ben won’t be as easy to tame as Joshua’s “lost cause” horses. It will take a lot of heart and holiday spirit for Joshua to convince Ben that even old prairie dogs can learn new tricks in the name of love.

A story from the Dreamspinner Press 2013 Advent Calendar package "Heartwarming".

Original Review January 2015:
Sometimes novellas can be better if they were longer and sometimes they wouldn't benefit at all with extra.  This is one of those that would not be better if it was longer.  That might be a bit of an over guesstimation on my part but I seriously can't see this being better with more words.  How can one not fall in love with Joshua and Ben?  And what about Henry? So easy to hate him and he's only actually in a couple of scenes and mentioned in passing in a couple of others.  This is an absolutely perfect Christmas tale to add to my growing collection.


Chapter One
JOSHUA BRAINTREE stared at the laptop screen with a mix of shock, arousal, and stone-cold pissed. It was an emotional brew that might have been at home on, say, a badger that’d been lured by female badger scent only to find himself locked in a trap.

Joshua shut the lid of his laptop. Opened it. Shut it. Opened it. He punched the drawer of his desk, which did nothing for his hand and not a hell of a lot for the drawer neither.

Opened it.

There, on the screen, was a video trailer featuring Ben For-God’s-Sake Rivers, his best friend’s little brother, naked, and doing things with a blond god who was hung to put some of Joshua’s bulls to shame. Damn if Joshua’s eyeballs didn’t wanna just plop right out onto the keyboard and maybe crawl around screaming for a bit, though what exactly they’d be screaming he couldn’t rightly say. It was a toss-up between Gimme more! and I need to kill somethin’! and Joshua Ellen Braintree, you goddamn blasted idiot of a fool!

He closed it.

His walkie-talkie buzzed, causing Joshua to jump off the seat of his chair a good inch, scramble to close the already closed laptop, and check in a panic for audio sound coming from the video, even though he’d turned the audio off ten minutes ago and the video wasn’t running anyhow.

Smoothing down his hair in an effort to calm himself, Joshua picked up the walkie-talkie.

“Yup,” he answered, sounding two octaves lower than usual.

“Boss, ’s that you?” It was Charlie.


“Oh, okay. Listen, the kids have started showin’ up, so… ya comin’?”

“Ain’t Nora here?” Joshua grumbled, shirking his job for probably the first time in ten years.

“Well, yessir, she’s here, all right. Ya want I should tell her ya ain’t comin’? ’Cause that Samuels girl is pitchin’ a fit again, ’n’ the Reston boys are tryin’ to climb the fence ’n’—”

The fever that had taken over Joshua’s brain thanks to that damn video now faded to a dull, warmish ache. Charlie’s words pulled him back down to the real and the now and life as it was known on Muddy River Ranch. Joshua pushed a shaky hand through his long, straight-as-sin mess of hair. He grunted into the walkie-talkie, in an assenting sort of way, went to the door of his office to leave, came back, unplugged the damn laptop, and headed out to the stables.

IT WAS mid-October, and the aspens around the stables were covered in leaves that twinkled and shone like gold coins in the sun. The sky was the deep blue that was just about Joshua’s favorite color in the whole wide world. But even the perfect fall day didn’t make him feel any better, ’specially not when the Reston twins were seeing who could bust a leg first by jumping off the corral fence. Nora was busy comforting Lily Samuels, who stood by the corral gently wailing. And Charlie was leading a couple of saddled horses out of the stables, probably in a bid to give Billy and Bobby something to do other than risk their dang fool necks.

Joshua stopped for a second, taking it in—the day, the ranch, the Montana mountains rising in the distance, and the downright miserable start to his Saturday riding class. The thought that hit him hard was Ben should be here. He’d have the Reston boys gigglin’ and followin’ him around like puppies in two seconds flat.

Which was a strange thought to have, because Ben had worked the riding class with Joshua for only a few months before he got “too busy,” and that was over two years ago. But Joshua felt Ben’s absence real hard all the same.

And then he realized that Ben never would be here like that, not ever again.

So he wasn’t in the best frame of mind as he strode up to Billy and Bobby, leaped over the corral fence, and grabbed each one of them with an arm around the waist. Joshua marched toward Charlie and the horses, his arms full of wriggling ten-year-old boys.

“Hey, Joshua!” Billy said cheerfully, going as pliant as an old hound under a belly rub.

“I’m gonna tell!” Bobby screamed, though what he’d tell wasn’t real clear. He struggled against Joshua’s iron-hard arm.

Joshua grunted and, reaching the horses, shoved Billy at Charlie and swung Bobby up onto the saddle himself. Bobby looked down, his mouth opened to complain some. Then he blinked at the expression on Joshua’s face.

“Okay,” Bobby said, suddenly meek as a lamb. “But can I please ride by myself? I ain’t no baby.”

Joshua’s gaze flickered down to the horse, Trisket. She was old and gentle and the look in her eyes told Joshua she wasn’t feeling anything but supremely lazy today. It was Bobby’s second lesson, and they’d already done the leading-him-around-the-arena thing.

Joshua took Bobby’s hand and placed it on the pommel, gripping it hard. “Hang on,” Joshua instructed. “And keep them reins slack. Just let ’er walk.”

“Yessir,” Bobby said politely.

Joshua let them go. Trisket placidly walked the perimeter of the arena, and Bobby didn’t pull on the reins. Joshua’s gaze fell back to Charlie, who was holding on to Dusty. Billy was seated in Dusty’s saddle.

“What’s the matter, Boss? Ya sick?” Charlie asked.


“’Cause ya look a bit peaked. Yer mouth is all set in a line so ya cain’t hardly see yer lips a’tall. And yer sort of flushed like, on yer throat, and ya have these lines—”

“Charlie, I ain’t no heifer, and you ain’t doin’ no health check.” Joshua growled. “Take Billy round once, then let ’im go alone if he wants.”

Charlie grumbled in his cantankerous way. “Sure thing, Boss. Take care ya don’t get stung, what with that bee in yer bonnet.” He started leading Billy around the ring.

Joshua took a deep breath and turned to Nora and Lily. Nora had her hands on Lily’s shoulders now, Lily had stopped crying, and they were both looking at Joshua a bit warily, like they didn’t think he’d bite, but they weren’t entirely sure.

Joshua forced a smile and went over to them. He vaulted back over the corral fence.

“Mornin’, Sunshine,” Nora said sarcastically, looking at him with one eyebrow lifted in a question.

Joshua grunted a nonreply and squatted down on his haunches next to Lily.

“Ready?” Joshua asked the little girl.

She shook her blonde head, her big brown eyes dead serious. She reached out and snagged a fistful of Joshua’s shoulder-length brown hair. Joshua sighed inwardly. She was seven but looked a year younger. She was a fragile thing, and her folks had hoped the riding would be a confidence builder. But last week, at her first session, they hadn’t managed to actually get her on a horse.

“Let’s go find a friend,” Joshua said, carefully tugging Lily’s hand free from his hair—ouch—and then holding those harsh little digits to lead her inside the stables.

Nora followed. “Can we find a friend for you too?” she quipped enthusiastically. “’Cause you sure look like you could use one.” Joshua ignored her.

Joshua had known Nora since they were kids. She’d been a few years ahead of him and Chet in school, and then she’d gone off for four years to college. She came back and bought the town diner with some windfall or another. It kept her busy, but she still came to help with the kids every Saturday morning. When the days were long, she’d sometimes stop by for a trail ride after the diner closed. She said horses were one of the reasons she’d moved back to Clyde’s Corner, and she wasn’t gonna let her business keep her from enjoying them. She was large, blunt, and gregarious, and Joshua loved her to pieces. But sometimes she was a mite too smart and a load too honest.

“How ’bout this horse, honey?” Nora said, going over to the first stall. “This is Jasmine. She’s a real sweetie, just like you.”

Jasmine was an old Shetland. Her owner had wanted to get rid of her, and Joshua took her for just this reason, as the gentlest possible creature for timid new riders, but also because he had a hard time turning down any horse that was about to be put down.

Letting go of Joshua’s hand, Lily passed Nora and Jasmine without a second glance. She went directly to the third stall where a large white horse poked out his nose.

Nora gave Joshua a rueful look. “Women. They always like ’em big.”

Joshua snorted a laugh despite himself.

He went over to Lily. Valmont was one of his rehabilitation horses. Not only was he big, but he could be violent, and Joshua hadn’t worked it out of him yet.

“This is Valmont,” he told Lily. “He’s too big for you. Horses and riders need to sorta fit one other, like clothes. Jasmine’d fit you just right.”

Lily dug into Joshua’s leg with both hands. Her little fingers were surprisingly painful, like cat’s claws. She looked up at Valmont with big eyes.

“He don’ like me,” she said shakily, clearly meaning the horse.

Joshua blinked and frowned. “Uh—”

“I can’t ride him ’cause he don’ want me to.”

Valmont leaned his head down and sniffed at the strange little blonde thing curiously.

“Let’s go pet Jasmine,” Joshua tried, feeling a bit desperate. But Lily just clung to him and to that spot, like she was rooted deep in the ground somewhere, like maybe she was part oak tree.

“No! I wanna ride Valfront, but he don’ like me.”

Joshua looked at Nora helplessly. Outside, there was the slam of car doors as more parents dropped off their kids.

Good Lord, he just couldn’t handle this today, not today, when he barely had a grip on himself as it was.

It was kind of like that badger—the further he got from that video he’d just seen, the less the aroused part of his brain was fired up, and the more room he could devote to being just plain mad as hell. Despite the distractions of the horses and the kids, he felt it creeping up inside him like rising floodwater.

He was mad at the company that made those videos, for luring in gorgeous young boys. He was a mad at Ben for putting all his bits out there without, apparently, giving it a whole lotta thought. He was sure as hell mad at Henry Atkins, who’d leaked the news about the porn all over town like the low-belly snake in the grass that he was. But mostly, Joshua Braintree was spitting mad at himself.

He was mad at himself for waiting too damn long, for getting caught up in the ranch and not tending to a certain business that he should have been attending to. He was mad at himself for letting time slip by like a wolf in the night and steal a prize right out from under his nose while he was no way, no how paying attention. Instead, he’d been off doing numbers and working like a dog to get his horse business running after he took over his daddy’s ranch. He’d thought he had time. He’d thought Ben was still a boy.

Well, the video had cleared up that notion good and proper.

And Joshua was mad, too, for letting down Chet, his best friend, who was in Afghanistan doing a man’s work, and who should have been able to count on Joshua to keep his father and his little brother taken care of in the ways that mattered. And Joshua had fallen down big-time on that one.

Nora must have seen some of that in his face, because she gently pried Lily off his leg and gave him a worried smile.

“I swear, whatever’s eatin’ you sure has one hell of an appetite. I’ll take the little Missy Miss here. You go on and get the Carter kids goin’. They should be easy.”

Joshua grunted. He took a deep breath and turned to lead out two more horses that Charlie, bless him, had already saddled.

BY SOME miracle, Joshua survived the morning class without either killing anyone or sticking a label marked “bona fide asshole” on his forehead. He spent the afternoon with the horses. He had three horses he was rehabilitating at the moment. They needed daily interaction to get used to him and used to the way things were gonna be. And they needed him to be calm and confident. Knowing that helped Joshua push down his own frustrations, for a few hours at least. And it always eased his mind to work with animals. They were so much simpler than people. They sure as heck didn’t do things like run off to Vegas to make porn.

But by the time the day was done and the sun was fading over the horizon, it dragged Joshua’s hard-won calm down with it like it was a daytime critter that hibernated in the dark.

So when Joshua was finally all alone in his house, and it was dark, he closed up the curtains in his office real tight, locked his office door, even though he lived alone, and dug up some earplugs he hadn’t used in two years. He went back to that website, Boys 2 Boys, and this time, instead of watching a preview, he gave them his credit card number, selecting a “one month only” plan. Then he watched every single video that Ben Rivers, aka “Caleb,” had ever made, starting with the first one two years ago.

Every one of them broke his heart a little more as he saw the changes in Ben, witnessed Ben’s first time with a guy caught on camera, his first kiss, first blowjob, first top, even his first bottom. He watched Ben’s expression as he took a man inside him for the first time (being Ben, he looked determined and sort of fascinated by a new challenge). He watched Ben grow in confidence, get fitter and tanner, become a star. And all of it was caught forever in Technicolor.

Those moments, those intimate moments, those firsts, were supposed to be Joshua’s, and they’d been stolen as surely as if cattle thieves had raided his pastures. That made him so angry and upset his teeth ached.

The videos also made him hard enough to drive fence posts.

He cried a little that night, a few old painful, rusty tears. And he came. Three times.

Author Bio:
Having been, at various times and under different names, a minister’s daughter, a computer programmer, a game designer, the author of paranormal mysteries, a fan fiction writer, and organic farmer, Eli has been a m/m romance author since 2013. She has over 30 books published.

Eli has loved romance since her teens and she particular admires writers who can combine literary merit, genuine humor, melting hotness, and eye-dabbing sweetness into one story. She promises to strive to achieve most of that most of the time. She currently lives on a farm in Pennsylvania with her husband, bulldogs, cows, a cat, and lots of groundhogs.

In romance, Eli is best known for her Christmas stories because she’s a total Christmas sap. These include “Blame it on the Mistletoe”, “Unwrapping Hank” and “Merry Christmas, Mr. Miggles”. Her “Howl at the Moon” series of paranormal romances featuring the town of Mad Creek and its dog shifters has been popular with readers. And her series of Amish-themed romances, Men of Lancaster County, has won genre awards.

In 2018 Eli hopes to do more of the same, assuming they reschedule the apocalypse.



Release Blitz: Stuck with You by Jay Northcote

Title: Stuck on You
Author: Jay Northcote
Genre: M/M Romance, Holiday Romance
Release Date: November 23, 2018
Cover Design: Garrett Leigh at Black Jazz Design
Two clashing colleagues stuck together for Christmas—will opposites eventually attract?

Patrick has been single since he broke up with his cheating ex almost a year ago. With Christmas looming, he’s resigned to spending it alone with only memories of happier times for company. When a business trip with a co-worker leaves them stranded in the Lake District due to heavy snow, it seems Patrick will have company for Christmas after all. It’s a shame his companion is Kyle, who’s undeniably attractive, but annoying as hell.

Aware of Patrick’s reluctant admiration, Kyle basks in the attention even though Patrick isn’t the type of man he normally goes for. Averse to relationships after being hurt in the past, Kyle enjoys the occasional hook up, but has given up on seeking anything more meaningful.

Stuck together, their antagonism escalates along with a heavy dose of sexual tension until it finally ignites. What starts as a Christmas fling soon feels like something special; but will their tentative connection melt away as the snow thaws? If they’re going to take a chance on finding happiness together, they’ll have to put their differences aside and learn to trust one another.

Contains: enemies-to-lovers, snowball fights, bickering, spanking, a cute dog, a wise old lady, mistletoe, and a happy ending (of course).

Author Bio:
Jay lives just outside Bristol in the West of England. He comes from a family of writers, but always used to believe that the gene for fiction writing had passed him by. He spent years only ever writing emails, articles, or website content.

One day, Jay decided to try and write a short story—just to see if he could—and found it rather addictive. He hasn’t stopped writing since.

Jay writes contemporary romance about men who fall in love with other men. He has five books published by Dreamspinner Press, and also self-publishes under the imprint Jaybird Press. Many of his books are now available as audiobooks.

Jay is transgender and was formerly known as she/her.


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Release Blitz: Join the Club by Charlie Cochet

Title: Join the Club
Author: Charlie Cochet
Series: Four Kings Security #3
Genre: M/M Romance, Mystery
Release Date: November 18, 2018
Cover Design: Reese Dante
When the cards are stacked against you, the Kings will even the odds.

Eduardo “Lucky” Morales is a fighter, from his childhood days in Cuba to his time as a Special Forces Green Beret. Scarred by the wars of his past, Lucky has learned nothing lasts forever. Guarding his heart is second nature, and getting emotionally involved is not an option. As co-owner of Four Kings Security, Lucky works hard alongside his former brothers-in-arms and fellow Kings, but he also plays hard. Flirting with sexy Texas cowboy and detective, Mason Cooper, is too much fun to resist, until Mason turns the tables on him.

Mason Cooper may not be a soldier, but he’s fought his share of battles as an openly gay cop and now a detective for Major Crimes. Mason has no idea when things changed between him and Lucky, but the gorgeous, fiery Cuban has turned his world upside down. When a mistake leads to his suspension from the force, Mason turns to the least likely person for help: Ward Kingston.

Determined to keep Mason at arms’ length, Lucky is surprised to find the man at Four Kings Security. The Florida nights might be getting cooler, but the heat between Lucky and Mason burns hotter with every passing moment. Working private security can be dangerous and unpredictable, but so can falling in love.

This was going to be a long night. Lucky felt it in his bones.

Once they were in downtown Jacksonville, Lucky pulled the truck into the parking lot of the bank across the street from the skyscraper they’d be watching. Jack had acquired the perfect spot near the lot entrance in case they had to move quickly, and a small team of security agents were parked in the Central Station parking lot, waiting for word from Lucky. With the engine turned off, Lucky unbuckled his seat belt and climbed out of his seat at the time Mason did. Lucky reeled back in an effort not to bump into him, the back of his knees hitting the seat. He flailed, throwing an arm out, but he needn’t have worried. Mason wrapped an arm around his waist and caught him, bringing him up against his hard body.

“Easy there, darlin’,” Mason murmured quietly, their lips only inches apart. “Don’t want you hurting yourself.”

Lucky swallowed hard. He felt Mason’s warm breath against his skin. “You’re stepping on my shoe.”

Mason frowned. “You’re worried about your shoe?”

“These boots are Guiseppe Zanotti.”

“Am I supposed to know what that means?” Mason asked, releasing Lucky.

“It means they cost almost a thousand dollars.”

Mason stared at him. “Why the hell are you wearin’ thousand-dollar boots to work surveillance? You know there are kids out there starvin’?”

“Yes, I know,” Lucky spat, pushing Mason away from him. “I was one of them. Now excuse me. We have work to do.”

At least Mason had the decency to look mortified.

“Shit, Lucky, I’m sorry. I didn’t—”

“Forget it,” Lucky muttered, taking a seat behind the console to log into the security system. “I don’t need to explain myself to you. Just sit down and pay attention.”

Mason took a seat beside him, his expression solemn. Thankfully, he didn’t speak. Lucky didn’t need his apologies or his permission. In Cuba he’d spent most of his time barefoot because the shoes given to him were either beyond salvation or he grew out of them so quickly they hurt his feet to the point he couldn’t walk. Now he could afford all the shoes he wanted, and if he wanted to spend money on designer shoes, no one had the right to make him feel like shit for it. He wasn’t stupid. His savings account was solid, and his retirement account was one of the first things he’d set up when he got his first job. He spent a lot of money, but he also saved money because he knew what it was like to have nothing. He was never going back to that again. Never.

Author Bio:
Charlie Cochet is an author by day and artist by night. Always quick to succumb to the whispers of her wayward muse, no star is out of reach when following her passion. From adventurous agents and sexy shifters, to society gentlemen and hardboiled detectives, there’s bound to be plenty of mischief for her heroes to find themselves in, and plenty of romance, too!

Currently residing in Central Florida, Charlie is at the beck and call of a rascally Doxiepoo bent on world domination. When she isn’t writing, she can usually be found reading, drawing, or watching movies. She runs on coffee, thrives on music, and loves to hear from readers.


Join the Club #3


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