Because sometimes it takes dying to have the time of your life.
Nord wakes up to find himself sort of dead. Well, that is to say, he’s dead, alright—murdered, in fact—but not in heaven, at least not yet. In this limbo-like state, he meets Max and learns that everyone there is waiting for the final poof, hopefully to a better place. Only, with unfinished business back in the real world, like bringing his murderer to justice, Nord’s poof is nowhere in sight. And so, he and Max set out to find the killer and make things right again. Of course, that’s easier said than done when you’re nothing more than a couple of randy spirits.
With the help of Voltan, a diminutive mystic with a predilection for turbans, and Clark, a nerdy computer geek eager to shed his loner past, plus a ghost accountant, Bruce, Bruce’s drag queen brother, Eve O’Destruction, and Nord’s kick-ass mom, the newly enamored pair set out to hunt for the murderer, and are quick to discover how much they’d taken for granted when they were alive.
In this hysterically funny and often poignant mystery about fate and love and family, it ultimately takes dying for our heroes to have the times of their lives.
I woke with a start and stared up at the ceiling. “That’s weird,” I said. “Where’s my ceiling fan?” I blinked. I blinked again. I thought to make it a trio, but then realized I hadn’t blinked the first two times—which is to say, I blinked but there wasn’t that whole ceiling, no ceiling, ceiling, no ceiling thing, which is what happens when I blink and I’m staring up at my ceiling. Not that what I was staring at was a ceiling to begin with, but still.
I continued staring up. I supposed what I was staring at was white, given that it looked white, and I supposed that what I was staring up at was a ceiling because, give or take, most ceilings are white, mine included, but the white I was staring at sort of shifted around a bit. FYI, my ceiling didn’t do that, except perhaps when I was drunk.
“Did I get drunk last night?” I asked myself. Only, I couldn’t remember last night. I couldn’t remember going to sleep, even. I remembered waking, but that was it. And I didn’t feel drunk. In fact, I felt great. Better than great, actually. Blissful would’ve been a good word for it. Light, too. As if I’d been weighed down and now I wasn’t. “Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty—”
“You can try, but He doesn’t seem to listen,” I heard, then jumped in place.
My head whipped right. Nothing. My head whipped left. “Um, how did you get in my…” My what? This wasn’t my room. This wasn’t my ceiling. Was what was above me a ceiling anyway? “Wait, who doesn’t seem to listen?”
The man to my left grinned. He looked about my age, early thirties, give or take, nice looking guy, too. Very Bradley Cooper like, stunning blue eyes and all. He was prone. He was lying next to me. He was naked. I stared down at my body. I, too, was naked. I continued staring down. There was no bed. There was my body, there was his body, there was that shifting white. “Don’t freak out,” he said.
My heart wasn’t madly pumping in my chest and I wasn’t sweating, but I felt like I was freaking out, nonetheless. Especially because my heart should’ve been madly pumping and I generally start to sweat when I’m freaking the fuck out. All that is to say, I was FREAKING THE FUCK OUT!
“I’m freaking the fuck out!” I shouted his way. “Who are you? Where are we? Why is the wall and ceiling and floor shifting?” I blinked. It felt like I blinked, but I didn’t get the right effect again. “And where are my fucking eyelids?”
“You get used to that,” he replied.
I sat up. That is to say, I tried to sit up. Only, I didn’t think I was actually lying down, and you can’t sit up if you’re not lying down to begin with. “Stop the ride,” I squeaked out, “I want to get off.”
I was still staring at him. He was still grinning. “Give it a minute,” he said. “Takes about five minutes for all of it to right itself.”
“All? What all?” I continued staring. It seemed like a minute went by. I was no longer lying there. I was standing. He was standing next to me. The not-a-ceiling was now not-a-wall, and it was still shifting, and I was, duh, still freaking out, fuck and all.
“You were lying down before you got here, so it seemed like you were lying down when you arrived. Get it?” He said it very comfortingly. I felt less than comforted. Very.
“Max.” He held out his hand. I shook it. I felt his hand in mine. There was indeed comfort in that.
“Nordstrom,” I said.
He laughed. He had a nice laugh. He had a nice grin. Max seemed nice. “Did your mom have a penchant for upscale shopping?”
I shook my head. “I was born in one. And my mom had a penchant for making sure I was teased well into adulthood.” I let go of his hand. “Nord. My friends call me Nord. Otherwise, they don’t get a Christmas present.”
About the Author
Rob Rosen is the a author of the award-winning novels Sparkle: The Queerest Book You’ll Ever Love, Divas Las Vegas, Hot Lava, Southern Fried, Queerwolf, Vamp, Queens of the Apocalypse, Creature Comfort, Fate, Midlife Crisis, Fierce, And God Belched, Mary, Queen of Scotch, Ted of the d’Urbervilles, and Sort of Dead, and editor of the anthologies Lust in Time, Men of the Manor, Best Gay Erotica 2015, and Best Gay Erotica of the Year, Volumes 1, 2, 3 and 4.
In the stormy coastal woods of the Pacific Northwest, roots run deep and passions run wild.
Reeling with grief after the mysterious massacre of his wealthy family, moody New York photographer James Worthington Crane decides to take his downward spiral somewhere far away: to the rural Oregon Coast, where he’s just inherited a random piece of property hidden somewhere in the woods upriver.
But when James pulls into the decaying seaside town of Brooks, everyone thinks he’s someone else—an elusive local outlaw named Beau. Now James must fight through his grief to unravel a tangled web of family secrets and forgotten history…with help from a soft-spoken local hunk named Hunter Quaid.
Hunter’s been on his own since he left his fundamentalist family at the age of fifteen. It’s taken years of hard work to build the steady life he has now, fixing up seaside houses while living alone in a trailer by the river. Then James blows in like a winter storm, disturbing the peace and stirring up a hunger like nothing he’s ever felt.
As Hunter helps James search for the truth, their lives intertwine in unexpected ways—and they begin to discover what it means to find out where you really belong.
Hunter pulled his truck into one of the slanted parking spaces along the Brooks sea wall and turned off the ignition, cutting off Bobbie Gentry in the middle of ‘Ode to Billie Joe’ to let the roar of the waves take over. It was windy out, and he took a second to rake his dark-blond hair into a stubby ponytail at the nape of his neck before getting out of the truck.
His work boots hit the asphalt with a heavy thud, and he strolled over to the rustic stone barricade to look out at the dark ocean. A wave immediately exploded up in front of him, white foam fanning out and dissolving like a burst of fireworks, and he filled his lungs with the sharp, salty air. It never got old, no matter how many times he came here. None of it did, though. Not the trees, the rivers, the sunsets, the storms. This rugged little chunk of the coast had been his most consistent, and sometimes his only, source of joy since the first summer his parents dropped him off at his grandma’s place upriver, where he now lived alone.
Today had been long as hell, but satisfying. He was in the middle of renovating a beautiful midcentury house on Cedar Crest, a wooded cliffside high up on the north edge of town. It was the biggest project he’d ever landed since striking out on his own as a contractor, and it was turning out to be a dream come true. The owner was some Portland banker who didn’t give a shit what he did as long as he stayed within budget, and Hunter relished the freedom to make actual design choices.
Matter of fact, life was pretty good these days, wasn’t it? Business was good, anyway, and that was a lot. Yeah. Steady work with nobody telling him what to do, a place to sleep by the river, all the ocean air he wanted every day…what more could he ask for? There was a time when he wouldn’t have dared to dream so—
A car alarm went off suddenly, jarring him from his thoughts, and he turned his head. Several seagulls were scattering noisily from the sea wall near a black hatchback several spaces away, its horn blasting and lights flashing. He couldn’t see what had set it off. A nosy gull, maybe, or the splash of a wave. At any rate, that wrapped up his relaxing after-work sit by the ocean.
But just as he was about to turn back to his truck, the driver’s side door of the hatchback clunked open and slowly creaked ajar.
Hunter watched, intrigued, as a hand slipped out through the crack, followed by an arm, and then a mop of wavy dark hair. Then, to his amazement, an entire tall, slim man slid out onto the pavement, pooling there in a tangle of long limbs and dark clothing.
The alarm was still making a ruckus. The man groaned low and rolled to his side, wrestling with himself for a moment before yanking a key fob out of his back pocket. He jabbed it toward the car several times until the alarm stopped, then fell on his back with an unintelligible mutter. Just then, a big wave spouted over the wall and showered him with seawater.
Hunter winced sympathetically. Hell of a place to be drunk off your ass. Dude definitely wasn’t from around here. He looked about Hunter’s age, stylish in a cool, classic kind of way. Black jeans, black boots, battered brown leather jacket. Nothing flashy, but obviously outside the local dress code of Carhartts, hooded sweatshirts, and rain gear. Hunter couldn’t help admiring the long lines of the stranger’s body, his carelessly tousled hair.
With a shake of his head and a soft sigh, he turned his gaze back toward the ocean again. Life was good, and all. He loved it here. So what if it wasn’t overflowing with romantic options for a quiet gay man with a taste for tall, slim guys dressed like drifters from the 1960s? No one got to have it all.
Life is good, he told himself stubbornly. Life is fine. Life’s going just great.
The sound of an approaching engine made him glance back over his shoulder, and suddenly he sprang into motion before he could think.
The drunk man was staggering onto the highway, his dark silhouette backlit by the high beams of a log truck that was roaring around the bend.
Another half-second would have been too late. The driver didn’t even seem to see them. The air from the passing truck threw him off balance as he yanked the drunken dumbass out of the road, and they both fell back on the pavement.
“You okay?” Hunter asked breathlessly.
About the Author
Claire Cray writes gay romance featuring hot, complicated men in weird situations. Offbeat and character-driven with a gothic bent, her work has been described as deeply atmospheric and a little bit strange.
Born and raised in the rural Pacific Northwest, Claire takes inspiration from its rich, moody vibes: the ancient forests, rugged coastlines, eccentric characters, and whispers of dark mystery in even the tiniest little towns. Combine all that with steamy sensuality and psychological drama, and you’ve got a story by Claire Cray.
When Toby meets his sexy neighbor Sean, he embarks on a new romance,
but there’s also a haunting and a murder mystery to deal with.
There’s romance waiting for Toby at Darkwater House. Set on the edge of London’s beautiful Hampstead Heath, what better place for love to blossom with a stunningly handsome stranger?
But as Toby explores a passionate relationship with his dream man, dark forces are stirring within the walls of Darkwater House. There’s an angry spirit haunting the corridors and Albert the creepy landlord might be a killer.
As passion grows between Toby and his new neighbor Sean, they also work at unearthing the secrets of Darkwater House, looking for the evidence that will convict Albert, finally lay the angry ghost to rest and allow their love story to deepen.
He entered the code into the electronic keypad next to the main front door and waited for the now-familiar click before pushing it open. Sean was standing in the communal hallway, his back to Toby, bending forward so that the material of his running shorts stretched across his muscular buttocks, revealing a tantalizing crack. God, Toby would have liked to smell that arse, run his nose from one end of the crevice to the other, taking a long, deep breath.
Sean was rubbing his right calf. Toby hesitated, then cleared his throat.
“Are you okay?” he asked, still staring at Sean’s butt while he had the chance.
Sean straightened and looked over his shoulder at Toby.
“I think I pulled a muscle,” he said, hobbling toward the lift.
Toby considered taking the stairs to avoid an embarrassing trip in the compact elevator, but instead followed Sean and pushed the button for the fourth floor.
“Is it painful?” he asked, breathing in the smell of Sean’s fresh sweat, reveling in the closeness of the other man. He could feel heat radiating from his post-exercise body.
“A bit,” said Sean, staring ahead. “I think I overdid it today. That was my second run.”
“I know. I saw you this morning,” said Toby. In his head, he was slipping a hand down the front of Sean’s shorts, playing with his flaccid but growing cock, his hand getting slippery from Sean’s sweat and pre-cum.
Then I’d lick my fingers, he thought.
The lift pinged and the doors opened.
“After you,” said Toby.
Sean nodded a thank you and walked awkwardly toward his flat. Toby followed, fixing his eyes on the other man’s butt, growing hard and once again fantasizing about burying his face between those cheeks, breathing in the masculine scent.
“See you later,” said Sean as he reached his apartment door, resting his gaze briefly on Toby’s face.
Toby blushed. “Yes, see you later. I hope your calf gets better.”
As he headed for his own flat, Toby wished he had some sort of medical training so he could have offered to check out Sean’s injury, maybe administer a gentle massage on the injured leg. The thought of his hands caressing Sean’s muscular calf, rising to his thigh, Sean watching him intently with his dark eyes, was all too much. Toby hurried to open his front door, pulling his cock out of his fly almost before the door had closed behind him. He jerked himself fast, still clutching the carrier bag of food and wine in the other hand. Several jets of cum shot across the hallway carpet. I’ll have to clean that up later.
Toby fell back against the front door, breathing heavily, pushing his cock back into his pants. He really did have it bad for Sean, even though they’d barely spoken and Sean seemed to dislike him, or at best, be indifferent toward him. Or perhaps that was the attraction? If he fell for someone he stood no chance with, he wouldn’t get hurt like he had before, because nothing would ever develop.
He dropped the carrier bag onto the kitchen surface and pulled out the bottle of wine he had bought at the supermarket. He studied it as if it were some ancient relic of great interest, rather than a cheap bottle of plonk. Then, with a sigh, he unscrewed the top and reached for a glass. It was Saturday night, after all, he told himself.
About the Author
Samuel King is London born and bred, and spent his twenties and thirties hanging out on the London gay scene, mixing with some true characters and even finding romance on a few occasions. Now more likely to be found eating in a nice restaurant on a Saturday night than clubbing, he also enjoys reading across many genres and watching films–especially old horror films and romantic comedies.
He is the author of four hot short reads—The Black Mask, Hard Lessons, Sage the Immortal and Mirror Man. His first full-length male/male romance Darkwater House is out now.
The Age of Man has passed, and a new age is upon the Earth. An age of magic and technology ruled by the supernatural beings that once hid amongst humanity has begun.
Talos – Vampyr King, Supernatural Council Member, and Despiser of Humans. Fate has a surprise up their sleeve for him.
Bayne – Raised by the human resistance, Would-be Assassin, and Despiser of Supernatural Beings. He’s ready to sacrifice himself to kill his enemy.
Bayne is thrust into a world he thinks he knows but quickly discovers his whole life has been built on lies. Talos, perfectly happy ruling his corner of the world, is faced with an unexpected and unwelcome change that comes with the mate chosen by Fate. Together they must discover how to live and, in the end, love one another. But will Fate have more in store for them than just learning to love the species they hate?
Bloodlines of Fate is a new urban fantasy series set in a world destroyed by humans and resurrected by supernatural beings. Fate has many plans for the vampires, fae, unicorns, therianthropes, and humans of this new world. While their mates may be fated, learning to love isn’t that easy.
This book contains depictions of gladiatorial combat, snarky fem twinks who will cut you, kings in stilettos, and awkward heats with a pinch of daddy kink.
Talos strode calmly into his office. His skin tingled with pins and needles all over. Odin and Majid were on his heels, and Majid closed the door behind him. Talos leaned on his teak desk as his discovery crashed into him. Claws extended from his fingertips and dug into the dense wood, marring its polished surface.
“Why of all days would this happen today?” Talos asked Fate.
“Brother, what is it?” Odin closed in and put a reassuring hand on Talos’ back, but it made his skin crawl. He shrugged Odin off and turned back around.
“It’s him.” Talos still couldn’t believe it. He wanted to race to his bedroom to confirm it, but he had to wait.
Majid cocked his head and narrowed his eyes. “What do you mean, it’s him?”
Talos looked up at Odin and realization dawned on Odin’s face. “Oh, him him?” Talos could only nod. His throat constricted.
“I knew I had to come to you, Brother. And it seems this is why. I was there when our father found his beloved, your pa.”
Talos sat on the edge of the desk, crossed his arms, and massaged his temples with one hand. Majid stepped closer, started to put his hand on Talos, then took his hand back with an apologetic smile.
“Congratulations on finding your mate, my old friend.”
Talos raised his head with a weary smile. “Thank you, and that was a magnificent display in there. I’ll never tire of seeing you get horny.” Talos chuckled softly. “Although my new mate called you a horse. Apparently, he’s never heard of a black unicorn.”
Majid snorted. “He’s lucky I can’t read his thoughts like you can,” he scowled.
Odin’s deep booming laugh caused Majid to snort again. Odin cleared his throat nervously, trying to cut off his laughter.
“Your idea to let one of the other resistance members through with him was good. It gave me an idea as to what kind of man my mate is. He was scared but he held his ground. His stubbornness to see his mission through shored him up. It’s going to be interesting to see how he reacts to spending an eternity with us leeches.”
Majid smirked. “You know how much I like a good impaling.”
“I got something you can impale.” Odin shook his butt at Majid and Talos snorted out a laugh.
Majid ignored Odin’s interruption. “Your mate jumped a little, but you’re right. He held steady even when I slowly killed that weakling.” He scoffed in disgust. “Like anyone that weak would have made it through the selection process. It’s a wonder they survived the games. They were lucky to have been killed by me.”
“It is quite an honor. I think it’s been a full month since you’ve impaled someone in the throne room.” Talos rubbed his forehead. His skin continued to tingle. “I won’t be able to bond with him until his blood is clean.”
“Gideon is having the hemodialysis machine brought to your chambers along with a bed he can be properly restrained on. The doctors estimate it’ll only take two rounds for his blood to be cleaner than when he was born,” Majid reassured Talos.
“He will fight. I have no doubt. And we will most likely have to sedate him,” Talos added.
“The sooner you get it done, the better, brother. Your body will not allow you to wait too long.”
“It’s almost dawn now.” Talos looked at the clock on his wall. “Go to bed. Majid will stay up with me to watch over my mate.”
About the Author
A.G. Carothers is actually a dragon very cleverly disguised as a human. They are a non-binary author of LGBTQIA Romance and Urban Fantasy, who enjoys writing original and entertaining stories. They are very excited to share the worlds they’ve created with you.
A.G. currently lives in Tennessee with their platonic life partner, who is not a dragon. They yearn to live back in Europe and will some day. In their spare time they are addicted to losing themselves in the lovely worlds created by other authors A.G. is committed to writing the stories they see in their head without restrictions. Love is blind and doesn’t see gender, race, or sexuality.
Nothing brings two men—or one man and an ancient god—together like revenge.
Nothing brings two men—or one man and an ancient god—together like revenge. Private investigator Sloane sacrificed his career in law enforcement in pursuit of his parents’ murderer. Like them, he is a follower of long-forgotten gods, practicing their magic and offering them his prayers… not that he’s ever gotten a response. Until now. Azaethoth the Lesser might be the patron of thieves and tricksters, but he takes care of his followers. He’s come to earth to avenge the killing of one of his favorites, and maybe charm the pants off the cute detective Fate has placed in his path. If he has his way, they’ll do much more than bring a killer to justice. In fact, he’s sure he’s found the man he’ll spend his immortal life with. Sloane’s resolve is crumbling under Azaethoth’s surprising sweetness, and the tentacles he sometimes glimpses escaping the god’s mortal form set his imagination alight. But their investigation gets stranger and deadlier with every turn. To survive, they’ll need a little faith… and a lot of mystical firepower.
“I’m sorry,” Loch said suddenly, his attention stolen away from the television and focusing intently on Sloane.
“What?” Sloane turned his head, staring in shock. He didn’t think gods were much on apologies.
“I obviously caused you great discomfort with my actions earlier today,” Loch explained, his hand reaching for Sloane’s, “and yes, while I am a trickster… I don’t aim to always be a complete bastard.”
“Loch,” Sloane murmured softly, surprised by how genuinely sorry he sounded.
“I got this for you,” Loch said, a tentacle reaching over to present Sloane with an incense bowl. “It upset you, but… it also brought you joy. I thought you might like to have it.”
“This is from the museum!” Sloane gasped, recognizing it immediately as the one that had reminded him of his mother’s. “You stole this? Loch! How did you, it, it was in a glass case! We need to take it back!”
“Technically, the museum stole it from my family,” Loch said smugly. “It was an offering for my aunt, and I was merely making an effort to return it to its rightful owner. Since she’s asleep, it’s my responsibility to liberate it on her behalf. I am now giving it to you.”
“I can’t… I can’t accept this!”
“Don’t you like it?”
“Then please take it,” Loch urged, “with my most sincere apologies.”
“Thank you.” Sloane was touched and looked over the bowl with a helpless smile. It was as good of an apology as he would likely ever get from an immortal being, with or without the well meaning theft. Suspicious, he added quickly, “I’m still not going to have sex with you.”
“We’ll see.” Loch laughed, giving Sloane’s hand a playful tug.
“No, we won’t,” Sloane said despite a big grin creeping onto his face. He didn’t pull his hand away, letting their fingers tangle together even after he put the incense bowl aside. It felt nice.
A few more sips from his drink and Sloane ended up cuddling against Loch’s side with his arm around his shoulders. That was nice too.
“Do you… uhm… do you want something to eat?” Sloane asked quietly as the hour grew late, and he realized that sandwich was the only thing either of them had had all day.
“I don’t require sustenance,” Loch replied, smirking fondly down at Sloane. “Immortal, remember?”
“Would you like… something?” Loch asked innocently, his tongue swiping slowly over his lips to indicate he was definitely not talking about food.
Sloane’s cheeks flushed immediately, his attention drawn to Loch’s mouth as he stammered, “N-no, I’m actually pretty good right now.”
Loch shifted, using his arm around Sloane’s shoulders to pull him closer. He cradled Sloane’s face, fingers running into his hair as he purred, “Are you absolutely sure?”
No one had ever looked at Sloane the way Loch was right now, with such heat, such adoration and raw desire. It made his blood pump excitedly and his breath catch in his mouth before he could properly inhale.
“Not really,” Sloane replied weakly.
Loch nosed along Sloane’s cheek, sighing, “Why are you so afraid to let yourself experience pleasure with me?”
“I don’t just go around ‘experiencing pleasure’ with people!” Sloane protested even as his voice cracked when he felt Loch’s tongue slide along the edge of his ear. “Fuck….”
“Why not?” Loch asked, his breath hot and husky in Sloane’s ear.
“Because… because….” Sloane couldn’t think straight, stammering to think of an answer. It was impossible to gather his thoughts with Loch’s tongue at his ear and his fingers curling so sweetly through his hair.
“Because?” Loch pressed, calm and perfectly innocent.
“When I’m with someone, I want it to mean something,” Sloane said finally, his head foggy and trying to remain firm. “I want something that will last.”
“It can last all night,” Loch promised, his lips lightly pressing against Sloane’s jaw. “And the night after that… and the night after that….”
“Fuck it,” Sloane hissed, dragging Loch into a hot kiss, shoving his tongue into his mouth with a loud moan.
About the Author
K.L. “Kat” Hiers is an embalmer, restorative artist, and queer writer. Licensed in both funeral directing and funeral service, she’s been working in the death industry for nearly a decade. Her first love was always telling stories, and she has been writing for over twenty years, penning her very first book at just eight years old. Publishers generally do not accept manuscripts in Hello Kitty notebooks, however, but she never gave up.
Following the success of her first novel, Cold Hard Cash, she now enjoys writing professionally, focusing on spinning tales of sultry passion, exotic worlds, and emotional journeys. She loves attending horror movie conventions and indulging in cosplay of her favorite characters. She lives in Zebulon, NC, with her husband and their six children, three of whom have paws and one who sometimes thinks he does.
Amanda Meuwissen is a bisexual and happily married 35-year-old geek. Primarily an M/M romance author with a focus on urban fantasy, she has a Bachelor of Arts in a personally designed Creative Writing major from St. Olaf College and is an avid consumer of fiction through film, prose, and video games. Amanda lives in Minneapolis, MN, with her husband, John, and their cat, Helga.
Leigh Hurley is making a name for himself among thieves and criminals, even if it isn’t the life he would’ve chosen. He shouldn’t have screwed over the Moretti brothers, though. It landed him in the river with weights on his feet. But somehow he’s escaped certain death. The last thing he remembers before waking on the riverbank is a beautiful face and a soft kiss.
Then, Tolomeo turns up naked at Leigh’s apartment.
Tolly comes from a race of killers—merfolk who drown humans for fun. But Tolly is different, and when he sees a human in trouble, he offers a kiss, granting the man the ability to breathe underwater… and himself the ability to walk on land, at least until the next full moon. The ancient laws state that if he is given a vow of love by the one he kissed, he will be able to keep his legs. If not, he will be put to death when he returns to the water.
But love is not something Leigh offers easily… and Tolly has a secret of his own.
What’s the value of love?
Book Title: A Model Escort
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Bree Archer; Design by Paul Richmond
Length: 60686 words / 225 pages
Release Date: March 5, 2019
Genre/s: Contemporary Romance / Gay
Trope/s: shy protagonist, pretty woman, friends to lovers, abusive ex,
Shy data scientist Owen Quinn is brilliant at predictive models but clueless at romance. Fortunately, a new career allows him to start over hundreds of miles from the ex he would rather forget. But the opportunity might go to waste since this isn’t the kind of problem he knows how to solve. The truth is, he’s terrible at making the first move and wishes a connection didn’t have to revolve around sex.
Cal Mercer works for the Nick of Time Escort Service. He’s picky about his clients and has never accepted a regular who is looking for companionship over sex—but can the right client change his mind? And can real feelings develop while money is changing hands? Owen and Cal might get to the root of their true feelings… if their pasts don’t interfere.
Love is easy once you learn the steps.
Book Title: Interpretive Hearts
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Alexandria Corza
Length: 50692 words / 197 pages
Release Date: November 19, 2019
Genre/s: Contemporary Romance / Gay
Trope/s: friends to lovers, May-December Romance, living with disability, neighbors
In the competitive world of dance, Teddy was a flawless performer and hardass choreographer who students feared and admired in equal measure. But hip surgery ended the glamour and drama, and now Teddy is recovering at his beach house, lost and listless.
Until he meets Finn, his neighbor, who is too perfect, gorgeous, and kind to exist—but very ill timed. In a seaside town as small as theirs, they can’t avoid each other, especially since Finn is also Teddy’s new physical therapist. But Teddy isn’t the man he used to be, and though Finn flirts shamelessly with him, Teddy can’t believe a has-been dancer is worthy of someone so young and full of life.
Finn’s sunny smile is also hiding heartache. Pursuing Teddy challenges both his professionalism and his self-preservation, but if he can convince Teddy to trust him, maybe they both can heal.
Heroes aren’t born, they’re made – sometimes reluctantly.
In a flash, the world changed. A solar flare—later dubbed Vertigo—activated the DNA of more than half the world’s people, granting them special abilities. Brilliant scientist Benjamin Krane might be Powerless, but his inventions are the only thing giving the police a fighting chance against super-powered evil. Ben doesn’t have much of a life beyond work, and when he gets wind of a robbery one evening, he decides to test his newest invention personally….
A thief, rogue, and shameless flirt, Grey Miller—aka the Streak—likes shiny things, but he doesn’t hurt people. When Ben catches him—and proposes they team up against the real bad guys—Grey doesn’t know whether it’s the offer or the man he can’t resist. But one thing’s for sure—they’re an ideal match in more ways than one.
With a psychotic supervillain’s catastrophic plan moving forward and everyone he cares about in danger, now might not be the best time for Ben to give in to Grey’s seduction, no matter how tempting. Grey is a man of secrets, and if Ben wants a future with him, he’ll have to learn to trust Grey—and himself.
Heroes aren’t meant to act like their villains—or fall in love with them.
Book Title: Lovesick Gods
Cover Artist: Mario Hernandez, Design by Veronika Dolnikova
Length: 106609 words / 313 pages
Release Date: October 1, 2017
Genre/s: Bisexual / Urban Fantasy / Dark Romance / Superheroes
Trope/s: enemies to lovers, corrupted hero, redeemable villain, living with bipolar disorder, thief with a heart of gold
The elements touch everyone on Earth—Fire, Water, even Light—but every so often someone becomes more attuned to their elemental leaning and develops true power. When an evil Elemental known as Thanatos arrived in Olympus City, it saw the rise of its first hero—Zeus. But the death toll caused by defeating Thanatos changed Zeus, who by day is young detective Danny Grant. It’s been six months since Thanatos terrorized the city at the start of Lovesick Gods. Danny should be used to his duty behind the mask, but the recent past haunts him. His girlfriend left him, he snaps at the barest provocation, his life feels empty—he needs an outlet, any outlet to pull him out of his depression. Enter notorious thief Malcolm Cho, the Ice Elemental Prometheus. There was a time when Danny welcomed a fight with Cho, filled with colorful banter and casual flirtations that were a relief compared to Thanatos. Even as a criminal, Cho had recognized the threat Thanatos posed and promised to help Danny stop him, but the day Danny needed Cho, he never showed. Cho was the reason so many people died that day—including Danny’s mother. Danny decides to teach the man a lesson and fan the fire of their attraction into something more. At worst, he’ll get some no-strings-attached sex out of the deal and finally blow off steam; at best, he’ll get Cho to fall in love with him and then break his heart to spite him. Danny doesn’t expect to fall for Cho in the process, and he certainly can’t predict the much darker threat on the horizon.
Will an idyllic summer holiday lead Arnie to the love of his life, or the end of it?
It should be the start of a perfect vacation. After a period of stress, Arnie Walker takes his nine-year-old son AJ home for the holidays. Arnie grew up in Nyemouth, a picturesque fishing town on the North-East coast of England, and he wants AJ to experience the kind of carefree, endless summer he enjoyed as a boy. It’s a short-lived dream. While taking an evening walk along the North Point cliff, Arnie and AJ witness a murder attempt.
For the volunteer crew of Nyemouth Lifeboat Station, it’s a rescue mission like none before, Helmsman Dominic Melton is part of the team who rescue the victim from the deadly North Sea. When Arnie and Dominic come together in the aftermath of the attack, the attraction is instant. Arnie isn’t looking for a relationship. He’s committed to his son’s well-being and has no time for a distraction like Dominic, even though the handsome ex-naval officer is hard to dismiss. Is it possible for Arnie to fulfill his promises to AJ while falling for Dominic?
Despite the distraction, a fledgling killer remains at large. As feelings between Arnie and Dominic develop, so does the danger they are in. North Point may be a beautiful place to fall in love, but it could also be the most dangerous.
“The police are outside,” Dominic said. “They want statements from all of us.” He had large and very expressive brown eyes. Within them, Arnie saw flecks of amber and gold. With his dark hair and muscular build, Dominic looked every inch a hero.
No, Arnie corrected himself. This guy doesn’t look like a hero. He is a hero. The entire crew are. It was more than the way he looked. There was an aura about Dominic, an undefined energy that made him incredibly attractive. Arnie had worked with some exceptionally good-looking men in his career, bona fide Hollywood heartthrobs, and none of them had Dominic’s naturally sexy quality. Everything about him—his face, his hair, his build—appealed. He was a knockout.
Come on, Arnie thought, pulling himself up. You’ve just witnessed a horrendous crime. A woman is fighting for her life this very minute and you’ve taken a fancy to the local hot guy. Get a grip.
He dunked a biscuit into the tea and ate it. His father was right—the sugar seemed to have an instant effect and his senses became clearer.
“How rough were things out there?” Martin asked.
“The sea’s getting up,” Dominic answered. “The wind too. Another half hour and we might not have got in there. It wouldn’t have mattered if we did. The tide would have taken her by then. It doesn’t bear thinking about.”
“You’re amazing,” Arnie said, and meant it. Dominic and the crew of volunteers had risked their lives for the safety of a complete stranger. They might all have died trying to rescue her.
“I just drove the boat,” he said. “My colleagues— Joanne and Minty—they did the hard work. They transferred the woman from the rock to the boat and kept her stable the whole way back. That’s no easy job in those swells.”
“Does anyone know who she is?” Martin asked.
“Minty thought he recognized her from around town but couldn’t be sure. It’s for the police to find out now.”
“It’s hard to believe something like this could happen here in Nyemouth,” Martin said. “Something so cruel. Who do you think did it? An ex-boyfriend?” Martin and Dominic looked at Arnie expectantly.
“I’ve no idea,” he said at last, avoiding the intense scrutiny of Dominic’s eyes. “Whoever it was, they kept their face hidden. It could be anyone. And they came from behind. So, even if it was someone she knows, I doubt she’d have recognized them.”
“Bastard,” Dominic said. He had a slight accent Arnie couldn’t place. Northern. Maybe Yorkshire. Nothing definite. The accent of someone who moved around a lot, losing all but a trace of their regional twang. A bit like his own. It was hard not to look at him. He was stunning. That hair, the glossy sheen of his beard, the moody furrow between his eyebrows. Wow. Despite everything that had happened, Dominic aroused something in Arnie. It should have been the last thing on his mind, but Arnie couldn’t stop the desire he felt for him. He imagined holding him and kissing that mouth, thinking about the body beneath those clothes.
Arnie finished his tea. “I should speak to the police. The sooner they know who they’re looking for, the sooner they’ll find him.”
“Are you feeling better?” Martin asked.
“Much,” he assured his father. “Thanks to you.”
“Take care of yourself,” Dominic said. “I wish we’d met under better circumstances. Hopefully I’ll see you around some time.”
About the Author
Thom Collins is the author of Closer by Morning, Gods of Vengeance, Silent Voices and the Anthem Trilogy. His love of page turning thrillers began at an early age when his mother caught him reading the latest Jackie Collins book and confiscated it, sparking a life-long love of raunchy novels.
He is currently working on a new series.
Thom has lived in the North East of England his whole life. He grew up in Northumberland and now lives in County Durham with his husband and two cats. He loves all kinds of genre fiction, especially bonk-busters, thrillers, romance and horror. He is also a cookery book addict with far too many titles cluttering his shelves. When not writing he can be found in the kitchen trying out new recipes. He’s a keen traveler but with a fear of flying that gets worse with age, but in 2013 he realized cruising is the best way to see the world.
Check out his website for news updates and a free ebook The Night.
Serial Investigations follows a private detective duo, Will and Ram, through tricky cases, mortal danger, and the horror of (maybe) unrequited love for your best friend – with plenty of demons to battle along the way.
A body cut up into pieces and left in Highgate Wood. It sounds like the most exciting case that private detectives Ram and Will have had to deal with since leaving their FBI training and returning to London.
As each new body is piled up amongst the trees, the stakes get higher – and Serial Investigations London embraces their first real challenge.
But Ram’s lifestyle – staying out all days of the week, drinking too much, and having sex with a different man every night – soon catches up with him when the police realise there’s just one link that connects the bodies.
And it’s him.
Will faces a battle around the clock to prevent his best friend from being put away for life – and while the two of them face their own demons, there’s a secret hanging over their heads that might just bring it all crashing down.
If you’re a fan of BBC’s Luther, Jo Nesbo’s Harry Hole, or sharply witty gay men, you’ll love Serial Investigations. Jump into the action from the very beginning with Bloodless, the first book in a series you won’t dare to put down.
Private detectives Ram and Will got their name in the news by catching a high-profile serial killer, and now they’re getting more clients. When they’re hired to find a missing person, all they’re worried about is having to spend a night away from home. They go to check his last known sighting in Kent, staying in a quaint country inn.
Little do they expect that Serial Investigations London are about to get thrust into a new murder investigation – one that happens right under their noses.
A confession seems to solve the case, but is it genuine? With suspicions running high, the duo still have to find time to sniff out the whereabouts of their client – and avoid getting arrested themselves.
With Ram hitting the bottle harder than ever and Will fighting to stay in control, they might be about to lose more than just the case.
Private detectives Ram and Will thought they’d wrapped everything up when they found Ray Riley’s body in Sevenoaks. But it turns out that things aren’t what they seemed – and Riley may be the latest victim of a torture-happy murderous duo.
For the second time, Serial Investigations London are called in to assist as civilian consultants with DI Alex Heath’s team at the Met – but they have their own personal problems getting in the way of clear thinking.
Will has something to get off his chest, and it’s related to that kiss they shared – the one they both tried to forget. But Ram can’t stop drinking to push away the confusion, and this time he’s going to land himself in more trouble than ever before.
Can they get over their issues for long enough to stop another murder – or even keep themselves alive?
Book Title: Blood Sucker
Length: 65 000 words/ 191 pages
Release Date: March 28, 2020
Genre/s: M/M Crime/thriller
Trope/s: Slow burn friends to lovers/misunderstandings
Will and Ram’s private detective partnership seems to be unravelling. After they ended up sleeping together, the tension between them is at an all-time high – and the unsolved Simon Shystone case is haunting them and their police contacts.
DI Alex Heath normally wants their help, but when a murderer posts images of his victim on social media, the chase is on to trace his digital footprint. With his superiors breathing down his neck, he might not be able to bring Serial Investigations London in on one of the biggest cases of their career.
They should be focusing on the artist who seems to have disappeared without a trace from his home studio. Could his latest commission have something to do with it? And will they be able to handle finding another client turned up dead?
Things are spiralling out of control for Will and Ram – and this time, they might not have each other to rely on.
Book Title: Blood Sport
Length: 164 pages
Release Date: June 30, 2020
Genre/s: M/M Crime/thriller
Trope/s: Slow burn friends to lovers/misunderstandings resolved
A copycat killer who knows every detail. A locked room with no escape.
Serial Investigations London is officially closed for business – with private detectives Will and Ram still not talking to one another after an explosive argument. Even when a copycat killer springs up, seemingly targeting only their own cases, they can’t see eye to eye.
Little wonder, given that they both have something more important on their minds. Someone knows about San Francisco – about the man who died on a rooftop at their feet. Who has discovered their deepest secret? And what will they do to keep it buried?
That’s when another mystery piles up on top of the rest: a traditional trope that every seasoned detective must face, the locked room. But this one has a deadly twist, and if they don’t come to terms with their differences and work together, one of them might not live to regret it.
Will and Ram face the most pressing and personal danger yet – but the question is, who’s behind it? And will they realise they’ve been set against one another before it’s too late?
If you’re a fan of BBC’s Luther, Jo Nesbo’s Harry Hole, or sharply witty gay men, you’ll love Serial Investigations. The story continues with Blood Sport, a nail-biting series of twists and turns that will have you questioning how they’ll ever survive.
Click ‘Buy Now’ to enter the minds of troubled yet brilliant detectives as they struggle inside an interconnected web of lies – and the spider is getting hungry…
Praise for Serial Investigations:
“The front cover didn’t lie; Bloodless is exciting and thrilling.”
“Sets up a really great atmosphere right from the start and constantly leaves you wanting to find out what happens next.”
“A punchy storyline makes it difficult to put down and leaves you wanting more.”
“Just the right amount of action, plenty of intriguing deception and detective work.”
“Love the plot twists! Can’t wait for the next book to see what happens next to Will and Ram.”
Bloodless – Chapter One
Unlocking the door to your new home for the first time is supposed to be exciting. I guess it was the jet-lag, but I couldn’t even force myself to smile as we walked in. Not even for Ram’s sake.
We crashed in hungover and out of it, the sparkling wine and whisky of the plane no longer seeming like such a good idea. I chose a bedroom and dragged my suitcases inside. It felt good to no longer have all of my worldly possessions attached to my person. Without the weight of my backpack on my shoulders, I could feel just how much strain the muscles had been under.
I found Ram still standing at the wide windows of the living room. He was looking out of the clean, fresh glass into the grey and drizzling London of December. It felt like a jolt to look out and see not palm trees, but old Victorian factories and blocks of flats as far as the eye could see.
But then again, no one has ever mistaken Whitechapel for California. It was always going to be a bit of a culture shock, coming back home again.
I shook him by the shoulder, trying to ignore the pit in my own stomach. Maybe if I could get him to snap out of this weary daze we had both fallen into, he would be able to wake me up in return.
“Ram?” I asked, after a moment. He simply swayed under the movement of my hand, like a doll. I wasn’t even sure he was actually looking out at anything.
He turned and looked at me when he heard his name. It was like he was looking at someone he didn’t recognise from a long distance away. If I had felt uneasy before, that expression made my scalp itch with worry. Of the two of us, Ram is the calm and centred one. Even when he’s so drunk he can barely walk, he doesn’t lose it. Not like me. But I’ve never seen him like this before.
“I’m going to take a shower,” he said, after a moment, seeming to rouse. He shrugged off my hand and walked away, leaving me stood watching the place where he had been stood watching. I felt like a sentinel. Something had left us behind and we were plunging into a bowl of cold water, too confused to even try to hold onto the side. I wondered if it would even wash away what we had on our hands.
I was alone, without the option of distracting myself by looking at him. The only thing I could do was to keep moving. I heard the sound of the shower turn on, and I guided my weary feet into my new room. It felt like midnight, but the sun wasn’t even at its midday apex. I went from task to task, like an automaton, letting the cogs turn by themselves to keep my mind empty. Suitcase unzipped; clothes pulled out; find hangers; one by one, up on the rail. Knick-knacks. Decorations. Picture frame.
The flat came furnished, but now I realised that on our hasty flight out of San Francisco we forgot to take a few things into account. The beds had mattresses, but no pillows or sheets. The drawers in the kitchen held no cutlery, crockery, or mugs for tea. Even if they did, there was no kettle, no bags of tea, no instant coffee machine.
I ran out of things to do but I had to find something. I stalked from room to room, tablet in hand, stabbing the pages of an online shopping site. Kettle — black, chrome, retro. Tea bags — Earl Grey, Caramel Rooibos, Herbal Blend. Bed set — plain blue, reverse check, king size. Next.
Ram’s room. Suitcases still locked, black leather bag slung onto bare mattress, leather jacket discarded next to it.
He wouldn’t mind. It’s not like we have any secrets from each other.
Or many, at least.
Open the suitcase (correctly guess the code on the lock). Take out clothes, one by one, to string them up on hangers and leave them waiting for him. Personal items. Books stacked by the bed. Jewellery case. Boots on the floor by the door. Leather jacket hung up last, finally, the only thing left untouched.
I wondered how long it must have been now.
A long time, surely, but all I could hear still was the water hitting the shower tray. Over and over, the same hiss in the same tone.
A long time for Ram to be in there, on his own, with those thoughts swirling around in his head.
With razors and scissors and other sharp things.
“Ram?” I shouted, pounding on the locked bathroom door.
Nothing but the sibilant hiss of the water.
I threw my shoulder into the door, felt it bounce back against me, sending a shockwave through from the impact. Again. The door rattled, the lock unable to give. Again. Again. As many times as it took, again, ignoring the flower of pain blooming out across my shoulder and back. Once more, and I was stumbling forward into the room, momentarily disorientated as the momentum carried me onwards.
The glass of the shower door was all steam, except for a patch near the bottom where the spray of the water was heavy enough to keep it clear. I saw his legs, sprawled across the floor, and I could barely breathe for the fear that I had realised too late.
I wrenched open the door and saw him, and for a moment I understood nothing. He was whole — yes. No blood. But he was lying naked under the water, letting it hit his face and open eyes without blinking, not even reacting to my appearance.
“Ram?” I said again, but his eyes didn’t even flicker in response.
I reached in and grabbed his shoulder, ignoring the water. It quickly drenched my shirt through to the skin, spreading up over my chest and into my eyes as I shook him.
Slowly, like he was caught in a time lapse, his face swivelled around. His eyes looked at me, but they were empty. I don’t think he even saw me.
“Everything’s going to be alright,” I said, reaching up and turning the shower off. I didn’t know if it was the truth, but he was alive. For the time being, that was enough.
He stirred a little when the water stopped hitting him, but only for a moment. His shoulders slumped back down and he rested, resigned, still looking fixedly at nothing.
I grabbed a towel from my bathroom, thankfully one of the few things I did remember to bring with me. I ran back to find him still sitting in the same place. It was like there was no one left inside to notice that he must be cold and uncomfortable. I pulled him out of the shower and into my waiting arms. He came willingly, falling against me like a doll. I towelled him dry as best I could and held him tight, like we were kids again, trying to take some small comfort from one another. His head slotted under my chin, and it felt right but so wrong, because Ram is supposed to be the strong one.
“Everything’s going to be fine, Ram, I promise,” I said, closing my eyes and praying that I was telling the truth.
About the Author
Rhiannon D’Averc is a crime writer based in the UK. She works as a ghostwriter and author under her own name as well as under pseudonyms. As a professional writer for over a decade, she also keeps herself busy as Chief Editor of London Runway, an indie fashion magazine. Her short stories have been published in Litro, Devolution-Z, Storgy, Literati, and more.
Come on board the Queen of Egypt and discover this new murder mystery full of witty dialogs, funny situations, and blooming love! Already short-listed for the French Gay Book Award 2020!
When Auntie Agathe invites Raphaël Poireaut, a young Parisian bartender, on a Nile cruise, he isn’t really thrilled. To stare at old stones together with a bunch of old codgers—why, thanks for the gift. Unsurprisingly the trip starts off badly enough. Not only does Raphaël have an unnerving confrontation with a handsome but standoffish and haughty Italian guy, but he has barely stepped on board the cruise ship when he stumbles upon a tourist… who has been stabbed to death.
The young Venetian Stefano di Angeli agrees to spend his vacation in Egypt with his best friend Grazia. He hasn’t had holidays for six years. But his first encounter with a young, angel-faced, curly-haired Frenchie brings back painful memories. Besides, what could be worse to start a Nile cruise than to discover a murder has been committed on board? Cazzo—fate seems to bear him a grudge!
While the Egyptian police led by Colonel Al-Qaïb are investigating the murder, Raphaël and Stefano find themselves swept away by the events… and by the blooming feelings that inexorably draw them closer. Will they manage to sort out the truth from the lies and find the murderer? Will they be able to resist this mutual attraction that seems to overwhelm them against their wills?
A new, funny and light adventure by the author of “The Stuffed Coffin”, the French version of which has won the French Gay Murder Mystery Award 2019.
The young guy hears my quiet steps, or he senses my gaze. He turns around.
Oh, hel-lo, man! My heart does a backwards flip. In my job I meet handsome guys aplenty. But this one is a class of his own. His face could be that of a male model, I kid you not. As if one of those unreal guys had stepped out of the glossy pages of Vogue Homme or GQ. Manly features, sensual mouth. Square chin, Roman nose, neatly trimmed designer stubble. His forehead is bare, his dense hair styled backwards and falling behind his left ear in a natural, lazy wave as if doing it spontaneously.
Alas, my immediate interest isn’t shared. On the contrary, he reacts as if suddenly facing a monster. He should be thankful the rail in his back prevents him from moving too far back and falling into the Nile.
Quite a boost for my self-esteem.
The handsome cretin pulls himself together at the last moment and scans me from head to toe. His cold gaze hovers over my naked chest, and he frowns, his eyebrows bushy but perfectly drawn. I notice that his whole body-language exudes barely concealed distance and aversion.
Despite his hostility, I murmur, “Hi”. Somewhat coolly perhaps, but still. I was raised like that. All right, I add “Asshole!” in my head, because, hello?
The young man answers with a nod. A black lock falls over his eyes, he puts it back in place. He seems to hesitate, then turns his back on me again.
Okay, asshole. Go ahead, continue your moody brooding, I don’t care. I don’t need no mens, even if they’re handsome as fuck.
HALF AN HOUR LATER, THE sun has started its race across the pristine sky for good; the heat has risen as well. The hipster slash asshole is still sulking in his corner when I sit on a shady deckchair. Our meeting was unpleasant, but he and the guy in pink belie my initial prognosis, and that’s a good start. We’re at least three on this boat to contemplate our sixties from below.
With the back of my hand, I wipe off the sweat trickling down my chest and soaking my chest hair. I realize I’m thirsty. There’s a bottle of water in the fridge in my cabin. Let’s go get it. You always need to stay hydrated, as Auntie would say. Granted, she means drinks, as in alcoholic beverages, but that doesn’t make it wrong.
The man in the pink tracksuit has apparently seen enough, too. When I get to the top of the stairs, he’s on the last step.
He’s waiting downstairs, holding the door for me.
“Thank you,” I say.
“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” he remarks in an affable tone.
I look up in surprise. His beautifully low voice doesn’t match his puny physique and the mousey face. He makes an affected hand movement. “The landscape, I mean. The light.”
Automatically, I think, Oh. Family. “Very beautiful indeed,” I reply. “And ‘splendid things gleam in the dust’…”
Recognizing the Flaubert-quote, he laughs good-heartedly.
The swinging door closes behind us. Another door slams softly somewhere down the corridor. In the first cabin, I hear a woman say heatedly, “… I think he got it. He won’t bother you anymore, tweety.”
Tweety! Smirk. I really wouldn’t want to be pet-named tweety.
We pass other cabins; the vague noises of conversations, no more than murmurs, drifting out. I can hear showers running as well. The ship is waking up. A nice smell wafts through the corridor, a woody, leathery perfume for men that strikes me as familiar. The pink, mousey guy in front of me must have sprinkled himself with it.
A few doors before mine, the young man stops. “See you later,” he says.
“See you later,” I reply. When I pass behind him, I get a whiff a his pronounced citrus perfume, very fresh, very pungent. Oh. He’s not the source of the leathery perfume smell…
He turns the key and opens the door. “Mon chéri—are you awake?” he asks. The door closes behind him.
I was right. Mon chéri, not ma chérie. He is family. I’m not the only gay guy on this ship.
I walk to my door while rummaging in my shorts pockets. Let’s see… mobile… pencil… notepad… h-m. Where have I put my keys? Did I take them? Damn—don’t tell me I locked myself out…!
A YELL. “AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!”
I JUMP, turn around, gaze down the empty corridor. What was it? Who was it? Where was it? What am I supposed to do?
Born in the early 70s, I grew up in a little village in Austria. At the age of 18, I moved to Vienna to get my master’s degree in Political Sciences, French, and Spanish. Today, I’m living in Paris, France, with my boyfriend and work as a graphic designer.
In my spare time, I write, read, cook fancy recipes, take photos, and as often as I can, I travel (Italy, Portugal, Morocco, Egypt, the UK, and many more places). My literary tastes are eclectic, ranging from fantasy, murder mysteries, gay romances to dystopian novels, but I won’t say no to poetry or a history book either. I’m more a hoodie/jeans/sneakers kind of guy than a suit-and-tie chap.
So far, I’ve published two short-story collections as well as four poetry collections. My first murder mystery novel “The Stuffed Coffin” featuring Damien Drechsler and the dashing Greek student Nikos has been released on January 6, 2019 and is also available in German and French. The French version has won the prestigious French Gay Murder Mystery Award 2019 (Prix du roman policier – Prix du roman gay 2019). You can also find me on Rainbow Book Reviews, where I write book reviews under the pseudonym of ParisDude (for French reviews, have a look at my review site livresgay.fr).
Mike, Ross, Raith and Phil are a gay, polyamorous quad who live in County Durham, North-East England. Mike’s nephews visit, and launch the quad into a tale involving inclusivity and investment scams, false arrest, and a desperate attempt to keep a dangerous secret hidden.
Meanwhile, Nick Seabrooke is now living and working in the village. Can the quad navigate the complexities of a sexual-asexual relationship? They would risk their safety for each other. Are they willing to do so for Nick?
This is the fifth County Durham Quad story. As always, background information is included for new readers.
Here is the start of the story. It’s a typical exchange between the four men…
Late afternoon in ‘Cromarty’, a normally quiet home in Tunhead, County Durham. Phil and Mike were seated in the living room. Phil stopped typing the article he was preparing for a medical journal and looked in the direction of the kitchen. Mike stopped skyping his brother, looked up too and, not really expecting an answer, asked, “What the fuck’s he up to now?”
The ‘he’ was Raith, Phil’s husband. Raith was a successful artist and ceramicist, but he sounded like someone intent on demolition not on creation.
“I thought all our kitchen units were the easy-glide, silently-closing variety,” Phil commented as another cupboard drawer slammed shut.
“They are, but the manufacturers hadn’t met Raith, had they? Nuthin’s Raith-proof, is it?”
The banging stopped and voices took their place. Ross, Mike’s civil partner, had come into the kitchen from the garden. He walked through to the living room and met Mike’s and Phil’s enquiring eyes.
“He’s made a chart. He was looking for something to stick it up with,” Ross explained.
“Stick it up? It sounded like he was hammerin’ it up,” said Mike.
“Yes. He’s fixing it on the wall now. It’ll either amuse you or horrify you. I’m not sure which. Possibly both. He wants us to discuss it before Nick comes round for his tea.”
“I thought we were involving Nick in all our discussions,” Phil remarked.
“Yes, but not this one. You’ll see why in a minute. Come on.”
Mike, Ross, Raith, Phil—and Nick. By their own definitions the first four men were four sorts of poly. Polydomestic: they shared the household duties. Polypecuniary: they shared their incomes too. Polydemocratic: they had equal say in decisions and tossed a coin if the vote was evenly split. And fourthly, they were polyamorous: they loved each other deeply, although Ross only had sex with Mike. Nick was Tunhead’s most recent inhabitant. He shared most of his meals and much of his spare time with the quad, but although he now lived in the village, he didn’t live in Cromarty. There were reasons for the need for a little separation. Hence Raith’s chart. Nick might be romantically and emotionally attracted to men or, rather, to one man—Mike—but he wasn’t attracted to anybody sexually. In fact, he was revolted by the thought of an intimately physical relationship.
Ross stood aside and ceremoniously waved Mike and Phil through to the kitchen. In place of the whiteboard that, ten minutes earlier, had indicated the week’s household duties list, there was a large sheet of cartridge paper divided into two vertical columns. The left hand column comprised extremely realistic drawings. The other, narrower one was partially filled in. It contained some ticks and some crosses.
“Are you plannin’ expandin’ into illustratin’ porn?” asked Mike as he studied the drawings. “That’s you, Phil! Bloody hell. That’s me!” he added, and pointed to a portrayal of two men indulging in frottage.
“Yes, I’ve already put a cross by that one,” Raith said. “I knew Nick wouldn’t like it.”
“Looks like you two liked it though,” Ross commented as, curious, he took a close look.
“So this is… what, exactly? And I’m not talkin’ about the drawin’s themselves. I can see what they are.”
“Well,” said Raith, “I thought it would save us a lot of future problems if we sorted out what we were allowed and not allowed to do when Nick’s in our home instead of in his place.”
“And you figured that a bloody big explicit poster starin’ at him over his tea was the best way to do it?”
About the Author
I’m married, I’ve grown-up children, I’m asexual (although a different sort of ace from Nick) and I do enjoy writing stories that aren’t constrained by hetero-norms.
The plots are always stimulated by something on the news – in this instance, the homophobic reaction of some people and groups to the UK government’s decision to introduce lessons on inclusivity into the school curriculum.
I enjoy writing light dialogue as well as dealing with serious issues, though, and I hope that some of the quad’s interchanges will make readers smile.
I talked about myself and my books on Brad Shreve’s Gay Mystery Podcast (an episode entitled Four Times As Much Mystery) in April, 2020. (Link below)