Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Random Tales of Christmas 2018 Part 9

Seeking Warmth by Brigham Vaughn
Benny Fuller is on his way to rock bottom. He’s seventeen, fresh out of juvie, homeless, and desperate to find a job.  His dad’s in jail and his drug-addicted mom is in no shape to take care of his sick sister, Angel. A run-in with his ex-boyfriend, Scott Sullivan, makes Benny feel even worse. He’s a thief with no future. Scott is smart, with plans for college and a great future ahead of him. Benny knows Scott can do so much better than him. Because no matter how hard Benny tries, he can’t seem to find a job or a way to take care of Angel.

The further Benny falls, the more he needs Scott’s help. Benny will have to let go of his pride and trust Scott and the Sullivan family in order to get the Christmas miracle Benny and Angel so desperately need.

Reader Advisory: This is an older (15+) YA story with themes of homelessness, drug use and prostitution (off-page), neglect of minors, and foster care. 

To say Benny Fuller is down on his luck or perhaps just completely out of luck, would be a very accurate description as to how he sees himself: fresh out of juvie and homeless makes looking for work to make a home for his little sister difficult.  Will a run-in with his ex, Scott Sullivan lead to good things or will Benny steer clear of Scott believing his ex is better off without him weighing him down?

As I've mentioned before in my reviews I don't really have a "comfort zone" when it comes to my reading but to be perfectly honest I don't usually go looking for young adult stories but when I saw Brigham Vaughn had a new Christmas short novella coming out I knew it was something I wanted to read.  To say I loved it would be an understatement, Seeking Warmth is brilliantly written and chock-full of what a Christmas story should have: heart.  I should warn you that it is not all unicorn and rainbows for Benny, sometimes we have to fall to show the world and ourselves we can get back up.

If you are looking for a fun, squeaky clean rom-com then this really isn't for you but I wouldn't forget this story for later because Brigham Vaughn does a bang up, spot on job of tugging at your heart with Benny's story.  Don't get me wrong, Seeking Warmth is not all doom-and-gloom,  it's just not the fun, cutesy standard Hallmark-ish rom-com.  Sometimes we need to be reminded that asking for help is not a weakness, that Christmas is about helping others and Miss Vaughn does that all while telling an amazingly heartbreaking AND heartwarming tale of determination, friendship, family, and love.


A Jaguar for Christmas by Caitlin Ricci
Jackson is a photographer looking for a big cat model for his new calendar. Instead of a wild animal he gets Peter, a shifter with no Christmas plans and all the time in the world to give him.

This short story has been previously published and was expanded.

Christmas Homecoming by LA Witt
August 1939. Roger Miller and Jack O’Brien have been close since childhood. By the time they realize there’s more between them than friendship, Jack is leaving their sleepy Iowa town for college. But they console themselves knowing he’ll be home for Christmas. Right?

It is Christmas before they see each other again, but that Christmas comes six years and a world war later. Aged, beaten, and shaken by combat, they’re not the boys they were back then, but their feelings for each other are stronger than ever.

Neither know the words to say everything they’ve carried since that peacetime summer kiss, though. Even as they stand in the same room, there’s a thousand miles between them.

But maybe that’s some distance the little angel in Roger’s rucksack can cross.

This 24,000 word novella is part of the multi-author Christmas Angel series, and can be read as a standalone.

One last splash through the local swimming hole for the summer leads to realizations for Roger Miller and Jack O’Brien but is it too late since Jack is leaving the next day for college?  With promises of seeing each other at Christmas they wonder where they'll end up but the promised holiday reunion comes six years late after the long years of war have shaped their lives.  Will Roger and Jack find happiness with each other finally or has their time passed them by?

Yet another amazing story in the multi-author Christmas novella series, The Christmas Angel.  LA Witt's Christmas Homecoming is full of everything that makes holiday romances great: promises of more, separation by unseen circumstance, and inevitable reunions.   I don't think I'm giving anything away by saying this is a HEA because as it so often is with holiday tales, the meat-and-potatoes of the story isn't in the ending but the journey the main characters take to get there.

For those who don't usually go for historicals all I can say is please go outside your norm and give this series a try.  So far I've only read three of the seven tales but they have all been respectful for the past all while telling a great little gem of love story.  With Roger and Jack's part of the Angel's journey we get to see them warring within themselves between what their hearts desire and what is expected of them: getting married and settling down(they don't call the years following WW2 the Baby Boom for nothing😉😉).   As a forty-five year old woman in 2018, its hard to imagine what Roger and Jack faced as returning soldiers but LA Witt does a wonderful job of telling their story in a heartwarming entertaining Christmas package.  Who says we have to wait till Christmas morning to unwrap all our treats?

I really don't think I can recommend this series enough.  Is it one you need to read in order? No.  As a matter of fact, I myself read book four before book three(a rarity for me but I accidentally opened Homecoming first and went with it😉).  The Angel is the connection and since we don't really learn how she gets from one era to the next, it is not necessary to read in order.  I will say that even though each entry is a standalone from a different time, I would highly recommend reading book one(Christmas Angel by Eli Easton) first simply because we learn how and where the angel came to be.  It isn't something that will leave you lost if you don't start with the first one but personally I would be left wondering about her origins and it would leave me a bit distracted from completely enjoying each of the authors' entries, but that's just my personal opinion.


Wrapped Together by Annabeth Albert
Portland Heat #5
In the bustling restaurants, shops, and cafés of Portland, Oregon, things really heat up for the hard-working men behind the scenes when the holidays come into town . . .

For a stationery store owner, the holidays are great for business. But for Hollis Alcott, Christmas reminds him of the tragic events of three years past, and the last thing he wants to do is take part in Portland’s over-abundance of festive cheer. But Sawyer Murphy, a hunky gift shop owner whose brother is married to Hollis’s sister, has made it his mission to pluck Hollis out of his holiday blues. And his plan is beginning to work. Wrapped in the warm glow of newfound passion, the former business rivals hit up Portland’s finest holiday traditions—and Hollis’s icy attitude begins to melt like snowflakes on his tongue. But he isn’t sure he can trust anyone with the only gift he has—his heart—without breaking it like an antique ornament. Unless he can find the courage to take a leap with the one lover he never expected . . .

Death to Christmas Sweaters by LE Franks
Chess and Benjamin are casual lovers, each hiding his devotion to the other and his wish for more. But Chess is a wealthy playboy who—Benjamin believes—will never settle down. And Chess is sure, with the way Benjamin keeps him at arm’s length, that he can’t be interested in getting serious.

They’re destined for a head-on collision as Chess plans for a holiday escape designed to send Benjamin’s ardor spiking like the temperatures in Los Angeles, while Benjamin desperately drags his feet, wanting to cool things down to protect his vulnerable heart. But when the ghosts of Chess’s Christmas past and Benjamin’s unwelcome present converge at LAX, it’s obvious there are other forces at play and about to take over.

Drawn into their respective family dramas at a joint gathering, will Chess and Benjamin finally take a stand for each other and the relationship they both want, or will the holiday finally take its toll?

A story from the Dreamspinner Press 2018 Advent Calendar "Warmest Wishes."

Click to Check Out Previous
Random Tales of Christmas 2018

Part 1  /  Part 2  /  Part 3  /  Part 4
Part 5  /  Part 6  /  Part 7  /  Part 8

Seeking Warmth by Brigham Vaughn
People hurried past Benny Fuller without seeing him. They were bundled up warmly against the snow, clutching their holiday shopping bags and packages. They were too intent on their destination to see the kid they pushed past. Now that the sun was going down, the crowds were beginning to thin. The wind picked up and the fat, fluffy snowflakes grew smaller and sharper. They stung his cheeks and made his hands ache. It had been early spring when he went into juvie. He’d had a hat stuffed in his old, beat up Army-style jacket but no gloves.

When the caseworker picked him up at the juvenile detention center and drove him to a foster home, she frowned at his bare hands. She said something about making sure he had a pair of gloves—and a warmer coat and boots—but she got a phone call a few minutes later and apparently forgot. He hadn’t said anything to the foster care lady about it either. So now the slushy snow soaked into his shoes as he walked and he still had no gloves or winter coat. He’d have to make do. But that was nothing new for him, was it? Benny had been doing that for a while now.

He kicked at a piece of torn, soggy cardboard on the sidewalk as he passed it. It did nothing to relieve the gnawing hunger in his stomach or the cold air that crept down the collar of his jacket and numbed his fingers.

It was satisfying though. Something to do to let out all of the frustration and fear boiling inside of him. His job search had amounted to nothing. Everything amounted to nothing. There were no opportunities for kids like him.

He’d been wandering the city for a week. Ever since he left the foster home they placed him in. It hadn’t seemed bad at first. It was clean and there were only two other kids there, both younger. But one of them was a nightmare. Benny had never seen anything like it. The boy screamed and tried to hit the little girl all the time. The foster mother did nothing to stop it. The little girl had bruises on her arms and legs from the boy and it made Benny sick to watch it happen. Within the first day Benny was there, the boy bit Benny hard enough to draw blood, but Benny was the one who got yelled at by the foster mother for provoking him. Benny hadn’t done anything but sit down next to the kid.

Benny had tried to help out, thinking maybe the woman was just overwhelmed, but she yelled at him for interfering. The day after he got there, the little girl had to go to the doctor for pinkeye. Benny was left home with the boy. It was a nightmare. After the boy screamed and hit him and acted like a little monster all day, Benny couldn’t handle it anymore. As soon as the woman got home with the girl, Benny crawled out the bedroom window and left.

He went straight to his childhood home, even though there was no one there waiting for him. He collected his car and a few belongings, but he knew he couldn’t stay or Child Protective Services would just drag him out of there and back to a foster home.

But once he left his old house, he had nowhere else to go. He had a car though, thankfully. It had sat, unused, while he was in juvie. It was still registered, thankfully, although the insurance on it had lapsed. He’d have to hope he didn’t get pulled over, or he’d be in big trouble.

With no home and no job, what else could he do now but wander? Sit in his car and feel sorry for himself? Even if he wanted to, he didn’t have any money for gas so he couldn’t do it for long. He tried to run the engine as little as possible. Just enough to keep himself from freezing to death. At least when he was up and walking, his blood was flowing.

He wasn’t warm, but at least he wasn’t dead. That was something, right?

Up ahead, a brightly-lit storefront spilled yellow light onto the snowy sidewalk. Its warmth beckoned Benny to come closer, but as he approached, he recognized the building and scowled. Sullivan’s Fine Gifts, the sign on the window read. Damn it. His wandering had taken him to the last place he should be.

Stupid. Why did I come here? He wondered. It wasn’t like he could go in and see Scott Sullivan. God, he wanted to though. Scott was the only person Benny had ever trusted. The only one who really knew him. Scott was the best thing that had ever happened to Benny. Too bad Benny was the worst thing that had ever happened to Scott.

Benny stood in front of the gift shop long enough for the snowflakes to settle on his too-thin jacket. His breath fogged the window and cold and hunger faded away as he stared into the store owned by his ex-boyfriend’s parents, mesmerized by the cheerful lights and decorations. It advertised home and family.

Warmth. Security. Love.

All the things Benny didn’t have.

A Jaguar for Christmas by Caitlin Ricci
Jackson heard the front door of his apartment open but ignored it as he finished getting ready. His client was early, which he liked, but not so much when he'd been running late. He threw a light t-shirt on over his loose jeans. He'd recently dropped some weight, so most of his clothes were baggy, but these were especially so. His sister complained that he needed to go clothes shopping to stop looking like such a bum. 

He might agree, someday, when his clients started to complain about his fashion sense or lack thereof. After all, he was a photographer. He was supposed to look good most of the time. Or so his nagging sister kept saying. But his clients always seemed more interested in themselves and how good they looked in his photographs than what he was wearing.

He stepped out of his bedroom, eager to get started taking pictures of big cats for his latest project, but stopped as soon as he saw the shirtless blond man currently standing in his kitchen. "Uh. Hi. I thought Tonya would be coming by this morning," Jackson said, shifting his weight on his bare feet.

The guy came around the counter, and Jackson got his second surprise of the morning. Blondie was not only shirtless, he was completely naked. Jackson tried to remain professional as he looked anywhere but at the man's thick length. Not that he didn't want to, of course—he was plenty interested in hot guys as a general rule. But naked strangers in his kitchen at seven in the morning? Not quite. "Mind telling me why you're naked?" he asked in a clipped even tone.

The man blushed and came forward, extending his hand. Jackson shook his hand but took his own back as quickly as he could. "Sorry, Tonya was going to come up with me, but as she was finding a place to park, she started to feel a bit sick. I don't know why they call it morning sickness, since she gets it all the time."

Jackson nodded. He'd known that Tonya, a leading agent from one of the nearby modeling firms, was pregnant. She'd talked about it incessantly the last time he'd been in her office and taken her pregnancy photos. However, that didn't explain who the naked man was. "My appointment today was with a jaguar. So who are you?"

"Peter," he said, stepping back and swinging his arms over his head. "Sorry, stiff muscles. I'll be ready in a minute. And you're out of deli meat. I ate it. Needed the calories. Tonya will cover it for you."

Jackson blinked dumbly at him as questions raced through his mind. "Uh…ready for what?"

Smiling, Peter continued to stretch. "Shifting, of course. I'm your jaguar."


Well, that explained something, at least. Instinctively Jackson took a step back. He'd known that some of the agencies were starting to use weres as models. That had been the hot new thing once they'd started coming out a few years ago. He simply hadn't ever thought he'd be working with one of them. "So, you're a…and you can…oh." 

He needed to sit down and quickly sank into his overstuffed lounge chair so he wouldn’t fall down.

Peter stepped close. "You okay there, boss?"

Jackson pinched his nose and shook his head. "I am a professional. And I can do this," he mumbled.

"Sure you can. Watch this. It'll be easy," Peter replied, taking a few steps back.

 Jackson had the clarity to realize that Peter moved like a dancer on the balls of his feet. Suddenly he’d vanished, and in his place stood a large spotted cat. They looked at each other for a long moment before Jackson finally moved again. Even then it was only to sit up a bit straighter in the chair.

"And can you understand me? Right now, I mean?" Jackson asked the jaguar, who nodded and twitched his tail. Well, that settled something at least.

Getting to his feet, Jackson made sure to keep his gaze on the big cat, who appeared to watch him back just as intently as he went to his bookshelf and pulled down his only book on big cats. He propped his shoulder up against the wall as he flipped to the section on jaguars. 

After comparing the cat in front of him to the pictures in the book, he decided that the were in front of him would pass as the real cat he needed for this shoot. In fact, he couldn't see any difference between Peter and the picture of the big cat in the book in his hands. And he'd looked pretty closely. Shutting the book and putting it away, he tried to come up with a game plan.

"First, there are rules," Jackson began, coming forward and picking up his camera. "I'm the photographer. Being whiny doesn't really work with me. There are snacks and drinks available if you need them, but we won't be breaking every fifteen minutes. Phones aren't allowed in my studio, and neither are overbearing boyfriends, husbands, sisters, parents, or whoever else you have that would get in my way. I have one goal—to get the best shot possible. Make that happen and you're a gem. Nod if you understand."

The jaguar nodded, and Jackson nodded too, feeling far more in control now that they'd established those guidelines. He checked his camera for a full battery, grabbed an extra fully charged battery just in case this one ran out, and opened the door to what would have been the second bedroom if he hadn't converted the empty space in his condo to accommodate his career. 

The jaguar trotted in without him having to say anything and stood in the center of the room, appearing ready to take direction. Jackson shook his head in surprise. No wonder people were starting to employ weres for roles that animals had traditionally been in if they were all that easy to work with.

Wrapped Together by Annabeth Albert
Chapter One
"Don't forget the holiday decorating contest begins next week."

Even my piping-hot mint tea wasn't enough to warm me at Ron Atkinson's words. Holiday. Decorating. Contest. Dear lord, what was the business association thinking?

"Are there guidelines?" someone closer to the head of the table blessedly asked so I didn't have to. The Alberta Street business owners were meeting at the People's Cup coffee house on the Thursday evening before Thanksgiving. This was our monthly meeting, ostensibly to discuss making our tiny business district more welcoming to customers, but usually more of a social hour except when, like today, a special event was in the offing. I hated the special events.

"No guidelines this year other than the theme 'Magic of the Holidays!' so you can have fun decorating your windows and storefronts in whatever way that theme speaks to you." Ron had a bushy mustache and a booming voice better suited for a minister or a politician than the owner of an upscale pet supply store. He was our unofficial leader — sent out reminder emails about the meetings and set the agendas and worked tirelessly on the special events.

The holiday season held no magic for me, especially not for the past two years, and I doubted "crushing grief" made a good decorating scheme, so I didn't join in the excited murmurs that started up as people shared their plans, many of which sounded months in that making.

"Does anyone have a pen? I want to write some of this down." Ah. Sawyer Murphy had come late and unprepared as usual. He'd squeezed in between Mary Anne, the florist, and Ev, the yarn shop owner, balancing his coffee drink and agenda in one hand. He wore a hoodie advertising some video game. His unruly brown hair and several days' worth of stubble made him look more like a student at the nearby community college than part owner of a chain of gift stores, including the one in our neighborhood.

Ev passed him a simple ballpoint, one with his store's logo on it. Good. Saved me having to offer the Kaweco Sport in my jacket pocket. I carried it not for advertising my stationery store but because it was a damn fine portable fountain pen, one of my personal favorites.

"Anything else we need to discuss?" Ron asked.

This was my chance, the reason I'd come to the meeting in the first place, and I pulled out the thick stationery-stock note card where I'd jotted down my thoughts on retailers encroaching onto sidewalk space. Namely Sawyer sprawling out of the front of his store with all manner of trinkets. But in the time it took me to get my card out, people were murmuring "no" and already starting the gossip hour part of the meeting, talking in small groups, no longer paying attention to the agenda or Ron.

Just like that, there went my chance. I didn't have the bravery required to lift my voice above the din. Indeed, my hand shook getting the card out of my jacket's breast pocket. Not today.

I took a sip of my now tepid, almost-gone tea. Ugh. The good barista was on duty, the one who went with Ev from the knitting store and who always happily made my tea with the same care he did the fancy coffee drinks. I left the group, happy to have the excuse of needing a refill, but as I stood in line, Mary Anne joined me.

"Hollis Alcott, we almost never see you at these things!" Her voice seemed to ring out above the din. "Will you be participating in the contest this year?"

"I doubt it. My fall display is already set." I tried not to sound too dour — she always had the best houseplants and had custom-ordered the rare fern I'd wanted.

"Ah, well, that's too bad. You let me know if you change your mind. I'd be happy to lend you some poinsettias or other decor. I know you could do a splendid, tasteful window."

It was my turn to order, so I gave her a smile as a reply before handing Brady my stainless-steel tumbler for tea and ordering a scone to go. I had to wait down at the other end of the bar for my order, and as I was waiting, Sawyer came loping over, a smile on his boyish face. His wide shoulders stretched the hoodie in distracting ways.

"Hollis! Did I hear you say you're not decorating?"

"You did."

He frowned. "I know how much you hate the holidays, but I bet you'd get an uptick in sales if you decorated. I heard Mary Anne offer to help. I could, too. I've got gobs of lights."

"Thank you but no." Truth be told, I could use the increase in sales, but it wasn't enough of a motivator to get me ready for the onslaught of red and green.

Sawyer's head tilted, considering. Oh no. I knew that look too well. A Sawyer who was scheming was downright dangerous. "We should bet, you and I."

"No," I said firmly. I stepped away from the coffee bar to let Mary Anne and others wait for their orders, but Sawyer kept step with me, effectively pinning me in between two tables on my path to the door. I sighed and repeated my objection. "No. The last time we bet, I believe you cracked a wrist."

Sawyer waved a hand, dismissing my concern. "We were fifteen. We've had other bets since then."

We had, but there was one in particular I was determined not to remember right at that moment. This was the peril of having known someone for almost two decades. "How precisely would one even bet on this?"

I let my inner musings escape before I could rein them in, and Sawyer smiled. He knew he had me. Whatever nervousness and shyness captured my tongue around large groups did not, unfortunately, extend to Sawyer. "Well, I was thinking whichever of us makes it into the top three is the winner of our bet, and then the loser has to do whatever the winner wants for an evening."

Oh, I did not like this. "Anything?"

"That wasn't a no." Sawyer's grin showed the sort of charm that made him so darn popular. "And I wasn't thinking of something kinky. Trust me here, Hols."

"Don't call me that." And I most certainly did not trust him. I was pretty sure the always-affable Sawyer didn't have a kinky bone in his body, but that didn't mean he wasn't up to something. "But I could get you to do any task of my choosing?"

See, the thing about me that Sawyer knew was that I have a very hard time resisting a bet. Always have, hence the aforementioned bet freshman year of high school about jumping over auditorium seats during drama class. I'm also notoriously cheap. And as it turned out, I did have a job for him.

He nodded. "Anything."

"I have a bathroom I want painted at my store. Including the trim."

Sawyer, to his credit, didn't look remotely pained. "That's fine. I'm good at painting."

"And you? What would you want?" I had no idea why I was asking. I certainly wasn't planning on agreeing to this ridiculous plan.

"A surprise." He winked at me.

"I don't like those."

"I know. Which is why you need one. But if it makes you feel better, I'll specify no sex or nudity involved." Sawyer had mercifully dropped his deep, clear voice to softer tones. I still bristled at the thought of anyone overhearing this.

"Or humiliation, public or otherwise."

"Oh, Hollis, you know me better than that." He held up his hands. They were big, capable hands, and I had to blink to get my eyes to look away. "Now, come on. I dare you. Bet me."

"I suppose I could muster some sort of decor. Something simple. Tasteful."

"I wouldn't expect anything less." He put out a hand for me to shake.

I took it, reluctantly, knowing that his firm clasp would send the same jolt up my arm it always did. "All right. I suppose I'll call you if I win."

"But I'll see you before that, right?" Sawyer didn't seem in any hurry to part, lounging against an empty table. I knew exactly what was coming next, but good manners kept me from rushing out the door. "Aren't you coming to Thanksgiving? My mom's looking forward to seeing you."

"I sent her my regrets the other day. I have plans."

"You do?" Sawyer blinked.

"I do." It didn't matter if those plans were a movie marathon for me and a turkey breast for Benedict and me, they were my own.

"More than just hanging out with your cat?" Oh, Sawyer knew me a bit too well, which was one of the many reasons I strove to avoid him as much as possible.

"Yes," I lied with absolute confidence. Rewatching Sherlock totally counted as more.

"Char and Tucker will be disappointed, too, I'm sure. And Aria." Sawyer threw out the three cards most likely to get me to waver, but I stood firm.

"Just because my sister married your brother doesn't mean I need adopting by your family really. I'm quite content with my life." It had been bad enough that Char had been best friends with Sawyer all through high school. Then she had to go and marry Tucker, who was Sawyer's twin, making Sawyer practically family, something I still wasn't reconciled with.

"Oh, Hollis," Sawyer groaned. "I swear to God, I'm going to find you some holiday spirit this year if it kills me."

Whatever small modicum of holiday spirit I had had died almost three years ago and we both knew it. All I really wanted from the holidays was a quietly forgettable month — it was the most I could hope for really. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to get going."

"Okay. Just don't forget our bet!"

As if I could. I cursed my impetuousness the whole walk back to my place, pulling my coat tighter against the late November chill.

Death to Christmas Sweaters by LE Franks
“GOOD MORNING, LA! This is DJ Donny-G coming to you live from beautiful downtown Burbank with your seven thirty traffic update. Northbound Long Beach Freeway is a belly crawl this morning, nothing new there, but you have a fighting chance to make that agent meeting in Studio City if you’re taking the 101 North from downtown.

“The 405 is stop-and-go from the airport, and we have a Sig Alert on the 110—van versus garbage truck—might as well pull over for a smoke with that one, folks….

“Speaking of smoking, red flag warnings are still in effect for the next three days—drought conditions are making this the most dangerous fire season in decades, so let’s keep those butts in your seats and in your ashtrays! Current temp downtown is sixty-eight degrees, highs in the midseventies, expected to top eighty-five on Christmas Day. You can thank those ever-lovin’ Santa Ana winds for arriving just in time to barbecue your Christmas goose for you.

“Next up, a little Christmas spirit to keep you cool on your morning commute—here’s Mariah and ‘All I want for Christmas—’”

Chess reached out an arm and flicked the snooze bar, cutting off the DJ. He cracked an eye and winced. It was too early to be this hot. The tiny West Hollywood apartment was already sweltering. The December sun, filtering through the blinds, took on a malevolent glare where it bounced off the chrome and glass of the bedside table, obscuring the numbers on the clockface.

His head ached, his mouth was dry, and his nose was filled with the stink of apartment living that never seemed to shake off the miasma of cheap paint and polyester carpeting, coupled with the fragrant stew of old body sweat, too many vodka shots, and dried cum. He didn’t understand how Benjamin could stand it. Nothing seemed to bother the man. Not the temperature, not the boring vanilla rental, and not even the days and nights spent apart. Chess ignored the pang.

It was fine. They had fun. No big deal. He opened his eyes wide, resigned to the new day.


Brigham Vaughn
Brigham Vaughn is on the adventure of a lifetime as a full-time writer. She devours books at an alarming rate and hasn’t let her short arms and long torso stop her from doing yoga.  She makes a killer key lime pie, hates green peppers, and loves wine tasting tours. A collector of vintage Nancy Drew books and green glassware, she enjoys poking around in antique shops and refinishing thrift store furniture. An avid photographer, she dreams of traveling the world and she can’t wait to discover everything else life has to offer her.

Her books range from short stories to novellas. They explore gay, lesbian, and polyamorous romance in contemporary settings.

To stay up to date on her latest releases, sign up for the Coles & Vaughn Newsletter.

Caitlin Ricci
Caitlin was fortunate growing up to be surrounded by family and teachers that encouraged her love of reading. She has always been a voracious reader and that love of the written word easily morphed into a passion for writing. If she isn't writing, she can usually be found studying as she works toward her counseling degree. She comes from a military family and the men and women of the armed forces are close to her heart. She also enjoys gardening and horseback riding in the Colorado Rockies where she calls home with her wonderful fiance and their dog. Her belief that there is no one true path to happily ever after runs deeply through all of her stories.

LA Witt
L.A. Witt is an abnormal M/M romance writer who has finally been released from the purgatorial corn maze of Omaha, Nebraska, and now spends her time on the southwestern coast of Spain. In between wondering how she didn’t lose her mind in Omaha, she explores the country with her husband, several clairvoyant hamsters, and an ever-growing herd of rabid plot bunnies. She also has substantially more time on her hands these days, as she has recruited a small army of mercenaries to search South America for her nemesis, romance author Lauren Gallagher, but don’t tell Lauren. And definitely don’t tell Lori A. Witt or Ann Gallagher. Neither of those twits can keep their mouths shut…

Annabeth Albert
Annabeth Albert grew up sneaking romance novels under the bed covers. Now, she devours all subgenres of romance out in the open--no flashlights required! When she's not adding to her keeper shelf, she's a multi-published Pacific Northwest romance writer.

Emotionally complex, sexy, and funny stories are her favorites both to read and to write. Annabeth loves finding happy endings for a variety of pairings and is a passionate gay rights supporter. In between searching out dark heroes to redeem, she works a rewarding day job and wrangles two children.

LE Franks
LE Franks walked away from writing at 17. Real life and travelling the world seemed fair compensation until the characters in her head demanded their turn. Now, living in the SF Bay Area, surrounded by inspiration everywhere, LE is finally taking off the filters and giving the stories free rein. These days, LE can be found frequently writing about sexy men who desperately need a happily ever.

LE writes M/M Romance in a unique mix of humor and drama with enough suspense to produce fast paced stories filled with emotion and passion and featuring characters that are quirky and complicated. Don't expect the typical rugged hero or sophisticated businessman with the world at their feet; LE's men are living in the margins--they're in the middle of their journey, doing the best they can while searching for a connection to something bigger than themselves. With a little effort and a lot of luck they may actually find their happily-ever-afters.

When not writing, LE wrangles an odd assortment of jobs (six - at last count), houseguests (including pro baseball players), family, and friends. Manifesting an odd combination of contradictory talents and traits, LE is tragically honest and personally deceptive, and makes the best piecrust - ever.

Currently LE Franks has several writing projects with author Sara York, including the Wolves & Waves series published by MLR Press.

Brigham Vaughn

Caitlin Ricci

LA Witt

Annabeth Albert

LE Franks

Seeking Warmth by Brigham Vaughn

A Jaguar for Christmas by Caitlin Ricci
Christmas Homecoming by L.A. Witt

Wrapped Together by Annabeth Albert

Death to Christmas Sweaters by LE Franks