Monthly Archives: April 2014

Gay Romance University 104: Important considerations regarding gingers and foxes (courtesy B. Snow, A Cunning Plan)

Hello everyone! Gay Romance University on my blog is back, this time drawing course material from a Regency romance of the male/male kind—A Cunning Plan, by B. Snow.

I said Regency, and perhaps that conjures a certain type of romance full of frilly girls, mostly filthy rich ones, attending lots of balls, waltzing in painful shoes, and each giving up her virtue to a marquess or a duke.

That romance is not this romance.

Though one of the characters is an Earl, and rather rich, and his virtue might be compromised. And his love interest might even where a frilly dress or two, under unusual circumstances. 

But let’s get down to brass tacks. The lesson, like the text, begins with strangers popping up in our Earl’s bedroom.

Note this; it will be on the quiz! If you are a titled, unmarried, heavy-drinking man with a cash-heavy wallet, post a man outside the bedroom when you crash for the night at your neighbor’s party. Consider poor Alec Ferguson, Earl of Whittlesey. A man pounds on his door, and he wakes to discover there’s a girl already in his room. Clearly, the man is up to no good. (The girl, his daughter is just as clearly mortified by her father’s shenanigans.) Yes, he wants to force you to marry the girl—no surprise there.

One of the most important points I’d like you to take away from this mini-course on gay romance, regency style is this: liquorgroup_medFortify, fortify, fortify! To illustrate, let’s peek in on Alec, beginning on page five.

Alec slammed the door behind them and then sagged against it. He wanted nothing more than to leave that room, escape from the house entirely, but the corridor was crowded with other guests eager for some gossip that would make it worth their while to have left London at the height of the season. […]

He lifted the bottle and drained it, then stumbled to the wardrobe and dug through his clothes until he found the other bottle he had hidden there in case of emergency. If having an unwanted engagement foisted upon one wasn’t an emergency, Alec didn’t know what was.

If you ever find yourself in such a situation, be aware that, whereas drinking and driving is illegal, climbing while drunk is not a prosecutable offense. Which is good, because sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do. Once again, we look to our hero, the Earl of Whittlesey, to show us how it’s done safely without losing your supply of fortification.

Before we continue reading from page 6, however, I want to make one thing clear. You may think that in the modern world, you will never be confronted with a girl in your room, having been ordered there by her father in order to marry her to your money and title. Remember my motto (or one of them anyway: Never say never! Seriously. Could happen.

He corked the bottle and put it inside his shirt as he stepped out onto the balcony. The vines that grew up the side of the house didn’t bend when he pulled on them to test their strength, so now he had only to climb down them. As children, he and his brother had been quite adept at using vines to sneak out of their nursery on moonlit summer nights. At twenty-eight, however, he was decidedly less agile than he had been as a child, and the brandy he’d drunk would not improve his agility.

Grasping the vines, he swung one leg over the railing. After finding a foothold, he swung his other leg over and started downward. Stretch out one leg, find a foothold, let go with a hand—Alec repeated the process until he got within ten feet of the ground. There, he let out an oath upon discovering the vines narrowed to a single trunk. Holding on to the lowest horizontal branches, Alec slid his feet down the trunk, said a quick prayer, then let go, landing with a thump and falling backward onto his posterior. Not dignified, but he made it to the ground without breaking his neck or the bottle.

Now what?

Well, I don’t know how you would feel in such a situation, but Alec has become quite morose once he’s out in the cold. Inevitably, sneaking out in the cold middle of the night without your greatcoat will remind you of your childhood. Right? Here’s the earl on page seven:

The winter chill nipped at Alec’s skin, but he didn’t regret leaving his overcoat in the house; he had the brandy to keep him warm. Alec remembered how he used to fasten Hugh’s cloak for him. Even in summer they had needed to wear them, at least until they reached the lake, where they kept warm by running along its muddy shore. Alec had taught Hugh early on that if they could keep from laughing until well away from the house—no mean feat—they would have hours to play in the night.

But Alec’s memory turns dark when he remembers a mysterious visitation from a white fox one night when he and his little brother had snuck out to this very same lake. And then… there it is. That very same fox. (Bottom of page 10—)

The way it stared at him gave Alec the feeling the animal disapproved of his obviously drunken state. white_fox_by_mvelovesmusic-d5v4ac8[…] “You’d drink too, in my situation.” He looked down at the brandy he held loosely in one hand. “And if you could hold a bottle.”

All students of gay romance will recognize this truth: Being, threatened, drunk, cold, outdoors, alone, and lost in memories will cause you to become morose. And, can we not empathize with Alec? I mean, to use academic terminology, what a bummer!

Empathize or not, however, this is where I wish to caution you, class: Do not emulate the choice Alec Ferguson makes on page

As he lifted the bottle to drink again, he looked out over the lake, at its smooth, moonlit surface, and made a decision. Any man with one ounce of honor or courage would have dealt with his madness and his drinking long ago.

Well, better late than never.

He drank the last of the brandy and set the empty bottle aside. […] walked unsteadily down the bank, letting out a yelp when his foot touched the cold water.
An answering yelp came from a few feet away. Alec turned to see the fox still watching him, now with its mouth open in what looked like a canine grin. “Don’t you laugh at me,” he muttered

Clenching his jaw, Alec continued deeper into the lake, the water coming up to his ankles, then his knees. The mud on the floor of the lake was warmer than the water and soft against the soles of his feet. He stopped for a moment, shivering, watching the reflection of the moon on the water broken up by the ripples he had made. He didn’t need to go any further; he could do it from here. Just lean forward, put his face into the water, and breathe deeply.

drowning man goo ftuosDrowning wasn’t the easiest way to kill oneself, but it was undoubtedly the tidiest.

Luckily for Alec and for the future of M/M Regency romance, foxes have a knack for tricking drunken, depressed, earls out of the cold, cold lake. And… well… it turns out Alec is luckier still, because, a fox of another stripe altogether soon shows up in his life. A fox in the shape of a man, with flaming red hair and green eyes and freckles every-visible-where. A quick-witted fox, and an insolent one who nevertheless plans to be Alec’s friend—or more?

Alec stopped. “You will explain yourself, now. Who are you, and why have you come here?”

Villenie’s narrow, freckled face split in a grin. “I’m the man who’s going to solve all your problems.”

Of course that’s not quite the way it worked out, but the lessons in this course offering are complete. To prepare for the final exam, memorize the following and be prepared to recite:ginger nude muscles from hips up
The earl was not mad, and neither am I—I’m just a bit eccentric. If life is a mess, booze won’t fix it—but a hot, foxy ginger just might. Perhaps like this:

“On my honor as… as a Villenie. Whatever your illness is, I will try to help you fight it, and no matter the outcome, I swear not to tell a soul.” Some of the color had returned to Villenie’s face, though his eyes were still huge and dark with concern. He brought one hand up to Alec’s cheek.

Alec didn’t move away from that hand. Instead, he leaned into it, taking another deep breath and letting the beast uncoil. Villenie’s hands, the heat of his body, his breath on Alec’s face were all too much. Alec, who had struggled so long to cage the monster, could no longer hold it back. “You want to see my illness?” Alec whispered. “Take it all, then.”

He reached out, seized Villenie by the shoulders and pressed him back onto the seat, then leaned forward and kissed him. Just as he had feared he would, Alec lost all control as soon as their lips touched. Grasping at Villenie’s head and neck, he pulled him closer, sucking and biting his lips. Their noses, chins, and teeth bumped as Alec moved his mouth madly over Villenie’s, then down over a rough cheek to his throat, where he continued his frenzied attack with tongue and teeth. The taste of Villenie’s skin made his head swim, and he pulled Villenie’s cravat loose, laying bare more skin to feast upon.

Unfortunately, GRU will not offer the advanced course in Regency romance, but you may find further study helpful (or at least good reading). The whole of the text can be purchased by clicking on the cover image and following the link. Thanks, B. Snow, Whittelsey, and Mr. Villenie for allowing GRU to twist your words about. 🙂

Sexual muscular nude man posing over dark background.

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So my German ancestors worshipped (sort of) the bunny… the cause of all the confusion!

Pre-read disclaimer: This is just for fun. I’m making fun of no tradition or belief.

So, I think Easter Bunnies and eggs are a fun tradition, for children in particular, and as for me, all the flowery spring-ish-ness is delightful, coming on the heels of winter. But, let’s face it. Easter Bunny is even more confusing than Santa Claus. Not only does he or she live forever and travel the world in a day, but he’s apparently hugely oversized and lays (okay maybe brings) colored eggs. If the child happens to be from a family that also commemorates that traditions commemoration on the day of Easter, the poor young person may also conclude that these eggs or bunnies (possibly wearing straw hats or bib overalls decorated with daisies) has something to do with raising a person from the dead, and these days most kids associate dead men walking with zombies. Conclusion: if you see the Easter Bunny, run, as someone is surely coming right behind to eat your brains.

Why bunnies and eggs? People ask every year, and of course the answer is “pagan, pre-Christian, all mixed up with a Christian holiday.” Blah blah blah. This year, however, I learned that it is my maternal ancestors who are to blame.

From discovery.com: “According to the University of Florida’s Center for Children’s Literature and Culture, the origin of the celebration — and the origin of the Easter Bunny — can be traced back to 13th-century, pre-Christian Germany, when people worshiped several gods and goddesses. The Teutonic deity Eostra was the goddess of spring and fertility, and feasts were held in her honor on the Vernal Equinox. Her symbol was the rabbit because of the animal’s high reproduction rate.”

Ach, du liebe.

So anyway, the gist is bunnies have about as much to do with resurrection of dead kings as alpha bravo has to do with the revolutionary war. And if you don’t understand why I bring up that last point, visit Rainbow Gold Reviews on facebook.

And finally: HAPPY EASTER!

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Gay Romance University 103: Charley Descoteaux’s *A Curious Sustenance*—Best Methods for Moving On if Your Ex is an Ass

Welcome back to Gay Romance University. The lessons in this course are drawn from the experiences of Ross and a man who, for now, we’ll just call Shaggy. Their tale is well-told in our text, Curious Sustenance, by talented author Charley Descoteaux. Thanks go out to Charley, Ross, and Shaggy for putting themselves at the mercy of Gay Romance U.

A little background: Ross’ former boyfriend Brad behaved like an ass, presenting the newly svelte Ross with chocolate. Okay, I see the shocked looks on your faces. How can a beautiful, rich, triple-layer chocolate cake adorned with a liberal covering of chocolate shavings be bad? Chocolate Cake Close UpTake my word for it, Brad’s so-called gift, was underhanded sabotage. For details, read the early pages of the text. For the course, our interest in the cake is that it leads to the first lesson, which is actually the one Ross had to learn after he discovered what a (fill in the blank) Brad was, and had always been. It’s really Ross’s best friend, Janet who provides us with this insight. On page 15, we are privy to a snippet of Janet’s wisdom, in a nutshell:

“Let him clean that up.”

“But—”

“I swear, if you start cleaning that up, I’m leaving.”

“He’ll be gone two weeks.”

“Tough shit for him, then. He should’ve thought of that before he acted like an idiot prick.”

Class, repeat after me: Say it, sister! Seriously, Janet is testifying, here, people. This first point in the lesson is one we should all take with us into a relationship: if the guy is an idiot prick, let him wallow in whatever is left behind when you hit the road.

Now, of course, if the lesson ended there, we could assume that life in general is kind of a sad affair. But there’s always another step, and if you’re like Ross, you take that step in the right direction. Of course before you can take a step in the right direction, you have to understand where you are. In the following passage, on page 17, Ross realizes that he is now in a ‘place’ he’s never before been, and while it’s not a particularly pleasant spot, it isn’t all bad.

Being dumped was exhausting. This came as quite a shock to the guy who’d watched romantic relationships from a distance most of his life. He didn’t want to admit it felt obscenely satisfying. Not only was he part of it in a whole new way, but the people he’d been jealous of all his life might not have had it as easy as he thought after all.

So where does a man go from there? If you’re Ross, you get yourself looking real good, like this, from page 19:

…he emerged in black silk from top to bottom. The buttons on his long-sleeved shirt gleamed silver, matching the small buckles on his black leather demi-boots. He felt almost as though he wore someone else’s clothes, but that was only because they were new. He’d worn the slacks the last time Brad had taken him out to the Heathman Hotel for drinks, but they’d been too tight. Now they hugged his ass perfectly…

Once you’ve donned clothes that make you look luscious, you go somewhere brand new. In this passage, beginning farther along on page 19, we join Ross as he steps out into a new chapter in his life. Oh, and we can also learn from this that it’s okay to be nervous. You look delicious anyway.

His stomach fluttered as he walked with Janet, about a half a block in the other direction, and then she opened a door Ross never would’ve noticed because it had no sign to attract attention. […]

“Where are we going?” Ross tried to hide his nerves, but after the last surprise, he wasn’t sure he wanted any more.

“It’s a private club. Don’t worry, I’m a member, and you’re my guest.” They stopped on the landing, in a little alcove. A red door stood at the end of a short hallway to his left. The street sounded very far away. “Tonight, you’ll be Hunter.”

“Pardon me?”

“You can stay anonymous. And since you have those luscious green eyes, you’ll be hiding behind the name Hunter.” Janet smiled and gently pulled his top button open before taking Ross by the hand and heading for the door.

On the other side of the red door was a foyer lined with red velvet curtains. Janet passed her coat and purse to a pretty young man on the other side of a counter. It was as if they’d stepped onto the set of an old porn flick. Brad had been on an oldies kick not long ago, and the fake potted palm in the corner, muted lighting, and shirtless boy behind the counter wearing a red bow tie the exact color of the curtains reminded him of one of those flicks. He backed toward the door.

Yes, it’s okay to be nervous, but don’t leave! Good things are bound to happen. After encountering a few surprising sights, Ross arrives at the right conclusion:

Artistic abstract pattern of rope twists on dark red background“This is a sex club.” Ross hissed into Janet’s ear. “You brought me to a sex club?”
She pulled him the last few steps to the bar and found them two empty stools. The stools were freestanding and a few didn’t match. It was like being in someone’s living room while they were having a theme party. Before Janet had time to answer, his eyes grew wide and he leaned in even closer.

“You’re in a sex club?”

Now, like many of us, Ross is not always terribly brave and ready to face the unknown. (Forgive me for saying that, Ross, but you know it’s true.) So, once he realized he was in a sex club, and furthermore, a mostly heterosexual-seeming sex club, he wants to leave—ASAP (Brad’s term). Fortunately, before he got a chance to make a getaway, he’s taken to Amethyst’s rooms, where he expects to watch a scene. But, oh, my. Lucky Ross, he sees something, or I should say someone, entirely different. Beginning on page 22:

The room looked like anyone’s living room. Anyone like Elvira or maybe Bela Lugosi. The couches and chairs were all covered in dark velvet that may’ve been purple, and the muted lighting made the candlesticks grouped in the corners gleam like old silver. Janet’s friend turned a dimmer switch and some of the candles brightened. She was speaking, but Ross couldn’t hear. His mind stopped processing everything except the man striding in his direction. He had to be six three, and when he got closer, Ross thought he probably had a Japanese grandfather. He was gorgeous, with his long black hair, simple black suit, and smoky gaze.jackie rope bondage shibari goo ftuos

“May I have a word?”

The man’s voice was even smokier than his gaze, and Ross already felt as though he were a heartbeat away from bursting into flame. He nodded, and a firm hand on his lower back guided him off to the side of the room. The man stopped in the center of an ornate oriental rug and looked Ross over appreciatively.

“I practice Shibari. You have heard of it?”

Ross nodded. He’d seen pictures of pretty young men bound with intricate knots on the Internet but hadn’t been tempted to approach Brad to try it.

“I am called Shaggy, and I would like to work with you.” The man palmed his shoulder, and his whole body warmed to the touch. “You are Scarlett’s friend?”

Ross nodded again, trying but failing to speak with his mind so full of the hand resting on his shoulder.

“Do you like pain?”

Ross gasped softly and shook his head.

“I will do nothing meant to cause pain. What is your safe word?”

The question woke Ross up enough to speak. He felt as though he’d stepped into a movie—the atmosphere, this gorgeous man’s extremely careful speech pattern, and his own shocking desire.

“My….” was all he could get out, but it was something.

Shaggy held his eyes for a long moment. The man was an excellent showman; he had the mysterious magician-vibe down. Ross felt himself falling into those dark eyes.

“We will use the traffic-signal colors.” Slowly but without hesitation, the man’s fingers began to unbutton Ross’s shirt. “If you feel any discomfort, use them. Yellow and I will slow down. Red and I stop immediately and cut the ropes. Do you understand?”

Ross nodded, and his shirt was unbuttoned. It wasn’t cold in the room, but he shivered as Shaggy’s fingers touched the bare skin of his chest. Shaggy walked around behind Ross and spoke in his ear as he drew the soft shirt away from his shoulders and down his arms.

“I want to hear you say the words.”

“Yellow is slow down. Red is stop.”

The man, who Ross found impossible to call Shaggy even in his head, smiled, and Ross worried he wouldn’t be able to remain standing much longer. Nobody had ever looked at him like that, as though he were beautiful and special and quite possibly delicious. The man draped his shirt over a small velvet chair and turned back to him.

“Yes,” he said softly, so only Ross could hear. He ran his palm slowly across Ross’s chest, from his left shoulder to just below his right nipple. “This will be beautiful.”

Mm-hmm. “Special and quite possibly delicious.” Sound promising? The rest of this passage is so much worth reading. I recommend it for additional study. Of course things go on from there, as they do in life and romance, but this is where we end today’s lesson.

I hope this GRU course has been enjoyable and informative, and I hope you can put Ross’s life lessons to use, or encourage a friend to do so, perhaps.

If you haven’t picked up the text yet and want to do so, click the cover image for the buy link. If you’d like to know more about Charley Descoteaux, try her website, CharleyDescoteauxwrites, or find her on twitter @CharlieDescote, or on her facebook author page.

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Gay Romance University 102: How to have a solid romance with a ghostly lover (Haunted, Brynn Stein)

Hello class! Luki Vasquez and Sonny James are on hiatus, resting up before their new book release in May—more about that soon. In their absence, this Gay Romance University course draws an all-important lesson from author Brynn Stein’s novella, Haunted.

(If you don’t yet have a copy of the text book, you can pick it up at Dreamspinner Press dirt cheap. 🙂 Just click on the cover image for the buy link.)

If you’ll open your text to page 11 (or read the brief excerpt below), you’ll find Lenard Blake has, after initial skepticism, come to believe ghosts exist and in fact one resides in his house (a ‘fixer-upper’, you might say).

He finally decided to assume the ghost existed and to try to make peace with it. After all, it didn’t seem to wish him ill will. It didn’t seem to be trying to get him to leave or frighten him in any way. It just seemed to want the house kept in good shape. Lenard figured he could help with that. abandoned house whirling stars iStock_000033218692Large

He made sure to return any books he started reading to their rightful places. “Is it okay if I leave a bookmark in this before I put it on the shelf?” he had asked the ghost he still didn’t completely believe in. When nothing happened, he figured it was okay to leave the bookmark in the book and replaced it on the shelf.

The first point of this lesson is contained in these brief paragraphs: If a ghost doesn’t want you to mess with the books, ask permission before placing your bookmark.

Oh… wait, no.

The first important point of this lesson is communication! As in all relationships, the first thing you must do if you want anything good to develop is find a way to get through to the other party. In this case, when the ghost said and did nothing, Lenard knew he had his reply. Well done, Lenard.

The second thing I’d like you to take away from this lesson is this: The “honey-do” list is a sure way to gain your ghosts appreciation, and if the ghost keeps fixing the screen door, it’s on the list.. Consider, further down on page 11:

He decided the reason the screen door kept falling off after the ghost had fixed it was because the screws were stripped in the rusty hinges. screen door google ftuos 8142836247_80aaca3c65_oThey had already pulled away from the wall, so just putting them back in the holes wasn’t really helping. So, Lenard bought new hinges and screws and new wood for the door facing. He wasn’t as good a woodworker as the original craftsman, and the door frame would be considerably plainer, but it would be new and solid and would hold the screws in the new hinges so the screen door wouldn’t fall off again.

iced tea google ftuos 2903455081_d4d851c5d1_o
Lenard cleaned up his mess and went into the kitchen to get a drink. There he found the pitcher of iced tea he had made earlier, and had put in the refrigerator to get cold—sitting on the counter along with a glass.
“I’ll take that as a ‘thank you’ for hanging the door,” he called to Jason and downed the drink. “And thank you for the tea.”

(Okay, so that’s not a ghost in the image with the screen door. It’s a zombie. Call it literary license.)

If a live man continues to develop his relationship with a dead man, he may be privileged to see him. In the middle of the night. Standing by the bed. Which of course would not be startling at all. We’re reading from page 16 of the text, here:

If Lenard still had any doubts about the existence of his ghost, it was finally taken away one night around two in the morning.
Lenard had come home from an abnormally troublesome day at the station and had stripped quickly and fallen into bed, practically asleep before he hit the mattress. As tired as he was, though, something woke him from a sound sleep in the middle of the night.

At first, he couldn’t identify what had awakened him, and then he saw it… or rather, him. male ghostly image by bed google ftuos 8135574517_8d185c393f_oA young man was standing in front of the ornate closet door. Just standing… hip cocked with his hands hooked in his pockets, but looking as if he had lost his last friend.

And then there is bound to come a day, if a man is patient with his ghostly lover, that he reaps his sweet reward, and a truly solid relationship can materialize (all puns intended) (page 33):

…One morning, Lenard decided to take the chance. He was awake enough, as Jason went to get out of bed, that he caught the ghost by the hand, still almost surprised—as he always was—that he could actually grasp his arm. “Stay, Jason.”

The ghost stopped his movement, neither leaving, nor coming back, also seemingly a bit shocked that they could maintain contact this long. “I wanted to have your breakfast ready for you, Barnaby.”

“I’d rather have you ready for me, old man.” Now that Len knew he and Jason could actually touch, he couldn’t help but want to explore thoughts he had been having for a while now. He positively leered at Jason and answered the age-old question of whether or not a ghost could blush.

Jason settled back down onto the bed, propped up on an elbow, and whispered, “Anytime, Len.” He reached out to cup Lenard’s face, enjoying the prolonged ability to touch. He ran his hand up Lenard’s cheek and into his hair.

Lenard took the invitation and brought Jason’s face closer until their lips met. He was pretty sure by then that they would, indeed, be able to kiss, but he still sighed in relief into Jason’s mouth. They both just savored the kiss. There was a promise of passion, but for right now, they kept it light. A brush of lips that had longed for each other… then another, longer contact… and another.

Lenard slowly pulled the ghost back down toward him, wiggling onto his back so that Jason could lie on top of him. They continued the kiss with a little more passion. Neither fought for control; they simply let it go where it wanted to. But they both knew it wouldn’t stay with just kissing for long.
male ghost in chair google ftuos 353807265_37832270f1_zLenard let his hands roam over the body he had admired… had wanted… for a long time now. He explored the powerful arms and traveled down the lean, but muscular back to settle on well-developed glutes. Len was pleased to find that Jason had been right. The only way the ghost looked nineteen was in his youthful face. In every other way, he was all man.

“Probably a good thing you’ve gotten the hang of being solid in the bedroom,” Lenard whispered as he nuzzled his lover’s cheek… blond hair mixing with dark brown.

Of course, there is more to loving a ghost than good times. Ghosts hang around because they have needs, right? So yeah, Lenard has his detective work cut out for him, but we can’t cover that in class. The remainder of the novella is recommended reading for inquiring minds.

Thanks for coming to class, and great big thanks to Brynn for allowing me to embarrass her characters in this way. If you’d like to offer your sympathy (or contact her about her writing) you can find her:

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Rainbow Gold Reviews? If you’ve checked out their facebook events for this week, you’ll know why this is here!

Proverbs 10:12

Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers all wrongs.

Here’s the Rainbow Gold Facebook link, if you’ve an inquiring mind and have become curious!

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by | April 2, 2014 · 5:18 pm