Category Archives: Dreamspinner Press

Falling Snow on Snow Tour Schedule

fallingsnowonsnow Hello everybody. Stopping by the home blog to post the schedule for my blog tour for Falling Snow on Snow, a holiday novella releasing on 12/23 from Dreamspinner Press. I’m excited about this book, a contemporary romance with characters who made me fall in love with them while writing. (I hate/love it when that happens.) Falling Snow on Snow is up for preorder now and I’m on tour. Links are below, and a rafflecopter giveaway, with a couple of chances to win the book, and more.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I hope you’ll join me on the tour! Thanks for reading!
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Filed under Dreamspinner Press, Falling Snow on Snow, just a category, Lou Sylvre, M/M romance, New Release

Rainbow Snippet from Falling Snow on Snow—expected winter release from Dreamspinner

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Hi readers! I’m trying, this month, to catch up with a few of the things that I’ve fallen behind on, and one of them is “Rainbow Snippets”, a brainchild of author Charley Descoteaux. The idea is for lots of authors to post snippets and link them to the associated Rainbow Snippets Facebook group. Click that link, and from there link to dozens of authors posts. It’s a great way to shop for a book that hooks you, and believe me, many of them will do just that with only a few words. Go see for yourself—but not before you check out my contribution this month, please!

I’m happy to spread the news here that this holiday-themed contemporary romance is accepted by Dreamspinner Press for release this winter. Here’s the snippet, blurb to follow:

The scene is inside Pike Place Market in Seattle, pre-Christmas, and guitar-playing busker Beck Justice is playing something rare—a holiday song he likes—even though he knows it won’t bring the big tips. And as he plays, an unseen singer joins in.

Snow on Snow guitarist market

Beck wasn’t, in fact, a man of religion. And though he admitted the possibility that something more existed than what could be seen, the closest he knew to spirit lived right there, in the music. In the tones born in the body of a fine guitar, the passage of breath through the vein of a flute. In the flight of sound on the wings of a perfect voice. Like this one.

“Snow was falling, snow on snow.” The singer wove the words over and under the harmonies he offered up with fingers and strings, turned them into something different, something more.

The song ended, as all songs do. But this time, when the words stopped and the echoes died away, Beck felt a thrill of panic, for he still hadn’t located the singer. What if he never found them, never again heard that soaring voice, never looked into the eyes of the man who sang.

The blurb:

For Beck Justice, December is black-hearted and cruel. It’s been that way for a long time, since before he found himself on the streets eight years ago. His recent step up into a tiny apartment and a Busker’s permit for Seattle’s Pike Place Market has done nothing to change his mind. When singer Oleg Abramov comes into his life, Beck begins to think there might be light in the middle of the bleak winter, but his efforts to get to know Oleg are blocked at every turn—mostly by happenstance, but also by his own fears.

Oleg wants Beck in his life, but when he opens up to let Beck into his heart, Beck disappears. Finally, things begin to look brighter for a possible future with the two of them in it together, until Oleg overhears a phone conversation and jumps to the wrong conclusion. It spells the end for their romance unless they both risk their hearts to trust.

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Filed under Dreamspinner Press, Falling Snow on Snow, just a category, Lou Sylvre, M/M romance, Rainbow Snippets, Upcoming release

Here’s my “Rainbow Snippet”–from Saving Sonny James

SavingSonnyJamesLGHi readers! This will be a quick post, but fun. I joined a facebook group called Rainbow Snippets, which believe is the brainchild of the talented author, Charley Descoteaux. I’m supposed to post a snippet here, and then link back to the group. So here is a tidbit from Saving Sonny James, the fourth book in the Vasquez and James Series.

No matter what else, one thing that would always be true for Luki was that he loved Sonny, and never wanted him to hurt or fear or even endure discomfort because of him. So Luki stood up and opened his arms—but tried to keep his pits under cover—and when Sonny stepped in close and melted against him, Luki squeezed him hard. Before he broke the embrace he kissed Sonny’s damp cheek, and then Sonny kissed his lips—put into it a little more than relief, a little less than heat. For just a moment, all the clouds that hung in curtains across Luki’s mind parted, and he saw a future—a day when trouble would pass and he and Sonny would have a happy day.

But not yet. Because some blond guy who reminded Luki too much of the infamous Richard entered the Cup O’ Gold and said—loudly and nasally—“I’m looking for Sonny James.”

Comments welcome! 🙂

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Filed under Dreamspinner Press, just a category, Lou Sylvre, Saving Sonny James, Vasquez & James

Easter Eggs: a post by Anne Barwell—*Family and Reflection* blog tour

It is my true pleasure to host Anne Barwell today, as she stops on her tour celebrating the upcoming release of Family and Reflection, book 3 of the popular Sleepless City series, available for pre-order now at the Dreamspinner Press Store. Read on to find out what the heck Easter eggs have to do with books. 🙂 (Also, the blurb, buy links, an excerpt, and a few facts of interest about Anne Barwell.)

Thanks, Lou, for hosting me today.

Something that sneaks into most, if not all of my books, is an easter egg reference. I’m not referring to the chocolate goodies associated with the Easter Bunny, but intertexual references to other books I’ve written. My stories take place in the same universe, so occasionally a character or place from another series has a cameo in the one I’m writing.

A couple of characters from The Sleepless City— a series which is a joint project with Elizabeth Noble— have turned up in other books but so far, only a couple of readers have picked up on it. Often the cameo isn’t something I planned from the outset, but sometimes it’s deliberate either because I’m setting up for something I haven’t written yet, or I need a character in a certain place or time, and I figure as I have an existing one who is there already, why create another? One character—I’m not saying who as that would give too much away—had a blink and you’d miss it cameo in my WW2 book Winter Duet, and a much bigger than I intended one in my WW1 novella, On Wings of Song. Another has turned up in my current WIP One Word, so it will be fun seeing if anyone notices her when things get that far.

On the flip side, there’s also a reference in Family and Reflection to another story I’ve written. It is a very small one, but the clue is that I don’t reuse character names. If you think, “isn’t that the same name as so-and-so in such-and-such a story?” then it probably is the same person.

That’s one cool thing about writing characters who are vampires. There’s a lot of history to play with…

Family and Reflection
Book 3 of The Sleepless City, Sequel to Electric Candle

For as long as Lucas Coate can remember, werewolves have been taught to mistrust vampires. Lucas is an exception—he has close friends who are vampires. The werewolf pack in Flint—and their leader, Jacob Coate—have made it clear that Lucas’s association with vampires is barely tolerated, and another transgression will be his last. When Lucas finds out about the plague of werewolf deaths in the area, he wants to help even though his own life may already be in danger.

Declan has been away from Flint for ten years, but he isn’t surprised to learn that the internal politics of the Supernatural Council haven’t changed for the better. When a series of burglaries hit close to home soon after he arrives, Declan—a vampire and professional thief—is their prime suspect, although for once, he isn’t responsible. With the council keeping secrets, no one is safe. Time is running out, and for Lucas and Declan, everything is about to change.


Buy links:
eBook: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6464
Paperback: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6465


Excerpt:

Declan turned the page of his book, read the first paragraph, then shook his head. He wasn’t sure why he’d bothered, as he couldn’t for the life of him remember what had happened on the previous page, let alone in the last few chapters. He closed the book with a thump, got up from the table, went over to the fridge, and opened it.

He wasn’t hungry, but if he had been, the mold-covered plate on one of the shelves would have put him off whatever else had taken his fancy. Someone really needed to have a word with Lucas about leaving his science experiments to breed. Declan lifted the plate somewhat cautiously and sniffed it, then wished he hadn’t. City coroner or not, this wasn’t… normal. Normal people cleaned out their leftovers before they got the chance to become strange new life forms.

Even if, in this case, his definition of normal was a werewolf.

But, despite his reaction, Declan couldn’t bring himself to throw the—whatever it was—away. To him it was disgusting, but to Lucas it might be some new discovery crucial to whatever he was currently working on. And Declan didn’t want to upset Lucas. In the short time they’d known each other, he’d become quite fond of Lucas, and enjoyed the time they spent together.

Declan sighed. He returned the offending thing to its previous resting place, ignoring the visions of reanimated zombie leftovers creeping up the stairs to attack him in the middle of the night, and instead got a wineglass out of the cupboard. He poured himself a decent-sized portion of his favorite red beverage and settled back down on the chair he’d recently vacated. As much as he enjoyed a good vintage wine, there were times when one had to quench one’s other thirsts. He sniffed the glass and savored the aroma before swallowing.

Hmm, not bad. It was amazing the standard of blood available to purchase through the right sources. It made it so much easier to feed than it used to be, and less messy too.

He heard the light step on the stairs and human heartbeat long before Ben reached the kitchen and stood awkwardly in the doorway.

“Hello, Ben,” Declan said. “Don’t worry, you’re not disturbing me.”

“If you’re sure?” Ben Leyton ran one hand through his thick dark hair. He looked tired. “I couldn’t sleep, so I thought I’d make a Milo and see if that helps.”

“I heard Simon having a nightmare earlier. He never did sleep well on anniversaries.” He’d known Simon Hawthorne a long time; Jonas Forge had introduced them shortly after Simon had been turned. Declan had also helped Simon through a dark part of his life, triggered by the events he suspected had prompted this particular nightmare, given the time of year. “I also don’t mind if you turn on the light.”

Although Declan didn’t need much light to see, especially with the full moon casting its glow into the room, Ben would appreciate more illumination.

“Yeah, well, they’re the worst times for most people, I guess.” Ben flicked on the light switch before walking across the kitchen. He filled the kettle and put it on to boil before reaching into the cupboard and bringing down a green can. “Do you want some? It’s a chocolate drink.”

“Thank you but no.” Declan indicated the glass in front of him.

The loud howl almost made him jump, and only years of practiced self-control stopped him. Even so, Declan’s hairs stood on end on the back of his neck, and the howl sent a shiver through him.

Lucas howled again. Frustration, anger, and loss all rolled into a sound that was pure wolf.

Declan knocked his glass over, spilling its contents. Without thinking, he moved at vampire speed, catching what was left of the blood in his palm and drinking deeply.

The glass fell to the floor, smashing into tiny pieces. He ignored it and finished the blood, then wiped the back of his hand across his mouth. A low growl escaped his lips. He knew his eyes were completely green. They tended to do that when his fangs extended.

When he looked up, Ben was staring at him, his eyes wide. “I’ll clean up the mess, shall I?” Ben said hurriedly, already heading for the broom.

“Don’t worry,” Declan said. “I’ll do it. Make your chocolate drink, mon ami. It’s my mess, so my responsibility, yes?”

Bio:
Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She shares her home with two cats who are convinced that the house is run to suit them; this is an ongoing “discussion,” and to date it appears as though the cats may be winning.

In 2008 she completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher, a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra.

She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as “too many.” These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of “spare time” is really just a myth.

Anne’s books have twice received honorable mentions and twice reached the finals in the Rainbow Awards.

Blog: http://anne-barwell.livejournal.com/
Website: http://annebarwell.wordpress.com/
Coffee Unicorns: http://coffeeunicorns.wordpress.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/anne.barwell.1
Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/115084832208481414034/posts
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4862410.Anne_Barwell
Dreamspinner Press Author Page:
http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/AuthorArcade/anne-barwell

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Filed under Dreamspinner Press, featured authors, just a category, M/M romance, Upcoming release, Writers on writing

(1) I love my cover artist! (2)I forgot to post on my own blog

Because of Jade cover design Reese DanteRegarding title number 1: Reese Dante. I probably need say no more, but I have been so lucky to have her create all my covers for the Vasquez and James series. Frankly, she’s outdone herself on the cover for Because of Jade coming up for release on 5/23. (Goodness! I just realized that’s less than three weeks!) Virtual hands in the air if you agree it’s lovely. (And I’ll blow you virtual kisses in return 🙂 )

About number 2: Yeah, hard to believe isn’t it. I had Pride-Promotions arrange a fabulous cover reveal, and my cover was all over the internet for quite some time… but I forgot to post it here! I need heavy doses of Ginkgo Biloba, or something.

So, I’ve posted it here now—better late than never, I hope. Book releases 5/23, and can be preordered now. (Click the cover image for the buy link.)While I’m catching up on things, here’s the blurb.

Luki Vasquez receives the news he’s still cancer free after five years, and he wants to celebrate with his whole family. He and his husband, Sonny James, take a road trip south, intending to gather at the home of his nephew Josh, Josh’s wife Ruthie, and Jade—a little girl who was still in the womb when she and her mother helped Luki beat lung cancer.

Halfway to their destination, Luki learns Josh and Ruthie have met a tragic death. The horrible news lays Luki low, but he pulls himself together in time to be the family’s rock and see to the dreaded business of tying up loose ends. The most important business is Jade, and when Luki and Sonny head home, they take Jade with them.

Luki and Sonny must combat self-doubt and fear and help each other learn to parent an unexpected child—and they must also nourish the love that has kept them whole for the past ten years. A relative’s spurious claim to Jade threatens the new family, and even if they prevail in court, they could lose their little girl unless they can rescue Jade from evil hands and true peril.

I hope you all love it! There will be giveaways and good times coming up–watch for posts if you’d like to join me in celebrating.
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Saint Valentine’s Equal Marriage Connection (and what do Wolves have to do with Valentine’s Day, anyway?)

2014 blog hop picThis is my post for The Power of Gay Love 2014 Blog Hop. At the end, I’ll tell you how you can win $14.00 to spend on sexy, romantic books at Dreamspinner Press.

Every year, chocolatiers and florists make an unholy mint on February 14th, Valentine’s day. Couples are making their first declarations of love (or lust as the case maybe), others proposing marriage, and others smiling, crying, or quaking through their wedding vows. Thank all the powers that be, in some states, some of those couples who are getting married are gay.

But what makes February 14th the romantic pinnacle of the year? The day is named after a Christian (Catholic) Saint who allegedly was martyred on that day. Yes, martyred, as in put to death whilst taking a stand for a cause, which doesn’t seem very romantic, in the sense of love and happily ever after. Of course, as soon as someone says that, someone’s conscience will lead them to proclaim that, like just about every other “Christian” holiday, the celebration had pagan origins—and they’re right.

In fact, ancient Romans celebrated Lupercalia on February 13th – 15th,, commemorating (who else?) Romulus and Remus, the twin hotties who, after being suckled by a wolf in a cave called the Lupercal, grew up to found Rome. “Ah,” you say, glancing back at my title. “There is the wolf connection, right there.” Well, yes, but the connection is multi-faceted and a lot more convoluted. You see, the festival was connected with the Roman God Lupercus, represented by a wolf, who strangely enough was the God of shepherds. Yes, Roman shepherds worshipped the wolf—and I’m sure they had their reasons. During the festival a goat (standing in for a sheep?) and a dog (standing in for a wolf?) were sacrificed, and salt cakes prepared by vestal virgins were burnt. Okay, vestal virgins/romance, a vague connection, but a step further reveals that Lupercus was sometimes identified with Faunus, the Roman version of Pan.

Okay, Pan. Not so much romance, but hot sex with glorious abandon. That’s possibly a connection. And in fact, before the Roman holiday, a Greek festival on the ides (13th) of February celebrated Lykaia (the wolf-god) and Pan (the pleasure and chaos god, or at least that’s how I like to think of the little devil).

But we’re still a far cry from the public vow of love (or at least commitment) which we know as marriage, and especially (see title of post), equality of marriage rights. For that, we must return to the story of the martyr, Valentine. There are many stories about the man, but it is agreed he was a real fellow and did indeed get martyred on February 14th by the Roman emperor Claudius II in the 3rd century of the common era (AD). One story about why he was martyred… wait for it… wait for it… he was performing marriages for Christians! Apparently, Christians in 3rd century Rome did not enjoy marriage equality, and our dear Saint Valentine defied the powers that were, either just because he wanted to, or because he believed love is love, marriage is marriage. (Or else he didn’t do it at all, as no one knows for sure.)

To further muddy the waters, there are a dozen or so Saints Valentine. That’s unimportant, as the February 14th date is definitely connected with the forward thinker I mentioned above, identified for disambiguation as Valentine of Rome. But it does tickle the imagination—what if we celebrated a smexy holiday for each of them?

As a last little tidbit of information, in medieval times, Valentine’s Day may already have been a celebration of love, courtly and/or marital. Chaucer took note that on February 14th, birds find their mates. Also humans, for he wrote:

For this was sent on Seynt Valentyne’s day when every foul (fool) cometh ther (sic) to choose his mate.

So, go forth and give chocolates, send bouquets, kiss, make love, and marry the person of your dreams no matter the gender and (possibly thanks to Saint Valentine) even if you’re Christian.

So yeah, comment below, tell me something lovely about Valentine’s day, or the reason you loathe it, if that’s the case, and you’ll be in the drawing for $14 spending cash at Dreamspinner–and they just happen to be having a sale!

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Filed under 2014 The Power of Gay Love Blog Hop, Contests, Dreamspinner Press

Shades of Sepia: Lou’s review of Anne Barwell’s paranormal M/M page turner


Anne Barwell’s latest novel Shades of Sepia is out from Dreamspinner Press, and I got a rare opportunity to do a release day review. Here it is, followed by the blurb and Anne’s bio. As usual on sylvre.com, the cover photo is a buy link–just click. Enjoy!

5 unrestrained sexy stars for Shades of Sepia! Anne Barwell’s vampires, werewolves, and yes, even humans live vividly in the pages of this novel, and on the streets of a thoroughly reimagined Flint, Ohio. Bonded souls, bloodlust, and murder wreak havoc on the lives of Ben Leyton—a rather happy-go-lucky guy transplanted from New Zealand—and serious, soulful vampire Simon Hawthorne. Attraction is too soft a word for what happens between them when they meet, but little does either of them know that the more they court each other, the more they court danger.

In a world where not all vampires are cold, loveless creatures of the night, it might still be challenging for a human to accept the love he needs from a man who fears his own capacity for violence—even if he vows to use it for your protection. On the other hand, oh-my-god sex might make that a little easier. Author Anne Barwell has written some sexy nuggets before, but she’s given us over the top heat here, both of the slow burn variety and the kind of sex that explodes off the page. In the mix: a park bench, a mirror, some fangs, and a little dominance. That’s all I’m going to say; if you want more—and believe me, you do—read the book.

But sex isn’t the whole story, by far. The romance between these two souls is about as haunting—and haunted—as it gets, and though it’s “sweet as” (read the book to interpret that phrase), barriers arise out of both past and present that may never be overcome. As for the suspense? Well, to illustrate, at one point I got so anxious that I slapped my e-reader down and shouted, “Oh my god, Ben! Forget the *&#$ tea!” So yeah, edge of my seat, really. Usually, in a review I like to touch on anything I found held the book back from being the best it could be. In this case, I can’t really put my finger on anything like that—it’s simply a very well-written book with a plot that kept me turning pages.

I can’t say much more without venturing into spoiler territory, but here’s my recommendation for readers. If you enjoy characters that come alive, paranormal M/M romance that’s hot and sexy, emotional, a little angsty, a little funny, and full of suspense, you will certainly love this book. I did, and I plan to love it again, soon.

(Note: Authors Anne Barwell and Elizabeth Noble have imagined this world, called The Sleepless City together, and plan to write alternating novels set here. I’m looking forward to the next!)

The Blurb:
A serial killer stalks the streets of Flint, Ohio. The victims are always found in pairs, one human and one vampire.

Simon Hawthorne has been a vampire for nearly a hundred years, and he has never seen anything like it. Neither have the other supernaturals he works with to keep the streets safe for both their kind and the humans.

One meeting with Simon finds Ben Leyton falling for a man he knows is keeping secrets, but he can’t ignore the growing attraction between them. A recent arrival in Flint, Ben finds it very different from his native New Zealand, but something about Simon makes Ben feel as though he’s found a new home.

After a close friend falls victim to the killer, Simon is torn between revealing his true nature to Ben, and walking away to avoid the reaction he fears. But with the body count rising and the murders becoming more frequent, either, or both of them, could be the killer’s next target.

About Anne Barwell
Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She shares her home with two cats who are convinced that the house is run to suit them; this is an ongoing “discussion,” and to date it appears as though the cats may be winning.

In 2008 she completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher and a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra.

She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as “too many.” These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of “spare time” is really just a myth.

Visit Anne at her blog: http://anne-barwell.livejournal.com or her website: http://www.annebarwell.wordpress.com. You can contact her at anne0(at)xtra(dot)co(dot)nz.

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Because of Jade—A Vasquez and James novel, coming Spring 2014 (Because a True Love Story Never Ends)

Greetings beloved readers and friends! What a way to start the new year, with a shiny contract for the Vasquez and James novel, Because of Jade. I’m excited and happy to have this slated for release in May/June 2014!Jade  Luki snow quote
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Fish and Ghosts! (by Rhys Ford)


Rhys Ford’s latest has been in the world two days, and it’s already near the top of the publisher (Dreamspinner) best seller list.

The book’s a mystery, but not it’s success–the reason for that is this: Rhys Ford is rockin’ this author thing. I’ve got to read this book soon.

The Blurb:
When his Uncle Mortimer died and left him Hoxne Grange, the family’s Gilded Age mansion, Tristan Pryce became the second generation of Pryces to serve as a caretaker for the estate, a way station for spirits on their final steps to the afterlife. Tristan is prepared for challenges, though not necessarily from the ghosts he’s seen since childhood. Determined to establish Tristan’s insanity and gain access to his trust fund, his loving relatives hire Dr. Wolf Kincaid and his paranormal researchers, Hellsinger Investigations, to prove the Grange is not haunted.

Skeptic Wolf Kincaid has made it his life’s work to debunk the supernatural. After years of cons and fakes, he can’t wait to reveal the Grange’s ghostly activity is just badly leveled floorboards and a drafty old house. More than a few surprises await him at the Grange, including its prickly, reclusive owner. Tristan Pryce is much less insane and much more attractive than Wolf wants to admit, and when his team releases a ghostly serial killer on the Grange, Wolf is torn between his skepticism and protecting the man he’s been sent to discredit.

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Filed under Dreamspinner Press, M/M romance, New M/M releases

Eon de Beaumont: Rum and Ginger (delicious!)

Hi! Lou Sylvre here with just a word of welcome for author Eon de Beaumont, who serves up a lovely thirst-quencher: Rum and Ginger Yum! Please enjoy the little taster below, and if you’d like leave a comment to let him know you did!

Greetings! My name is Eon de Beaumont and I’ve written my very first contemporary story for Dreamspinner Press. This post is part of a promotional blog tour I’m undertaking to celebrate the release of Rum & Ginger, The Connection: Book One. The story is very character oriented so I’m going to introduce you to each of the major characters in each of these blog posts and give you some background about how they fit in the world and how I came up with them. Let’s talk about Brodie.

Brodie Felix is a young, tattooed bartender who catches the eye of the main character, Ben Silver. Brodie is a fun, impulsive musician. He represents everything that’s lacking in Ben’s current relationship but Ben’s loyalty prevents him from pursuing Brodie. That doesn’t prevent Brodie from trying, at least until he finds out Ben is taken and then Brodie does his best to just be friends.

Brodie has also been out since he discovered he was gay, another thing Ben envies a great deal. Brodie is unabashedly and unapologetically himself. He and Ben discover that they have a lot in common and it gets harder and harder for the two of them to ignore their feelings. I really created Brodie as a foil for Chance. He’s literally Chance’s exact opposite. Brodie also has an insight into bar ownership and management that could really help Ben when he wants to open his bar. It’s a very delicate situation. To find out if it’s a situation that gets resolved, you’ll have to check out Rum and Ginger.

Here’s the blurb:
Ben Silver’s personal dream is to open the first gay bar in Liamsport, Pennsylvania. The town isn’t exactly open-minded, but that’s not why Ben stays in the closet. Chance, Ben’s computer nerd boyfriend, is deathly afraid of anyone finding out he’s gay. On a night out, Ben meets Brodie Felix, a younger, heavily tattooed bartender who lights a spark in Ben’s heart. Although the spark in his relationship with Chance has dwindled to almost nothing, Ben feels guilty for wanting to be single, for wanting another man, so he tries to forget about Brodie.

But when Ben discovers one of Chance’s own secrets, he’s forced to make a difficult choice.

On his own for the first time in his life, Ben can be open with his family and friends. Though honesty has its benefits, his life isn’t perfect. Ben’s circle of friends and family is growing. So is the spark between him and Brodie, and Ben hopes it will grow into a flame. His dream remains out of his grasp, but with a little help and a lot of work, he might yet serve his favorite rum and ginger ale at his own establishment, the first gay bar in his hometown.

Let’s have a look at the scene where Ben and Brodie first meet. You can connect with me on Facebook or follow my Twitter: @mascaraboy13 for updates and announcements. I hope you enjoy the excerpt and if you’re interested, there’s a buy link following. (Lou’s note: You can also click the cover image to open the buy link.) Thanks!

Excerpt:
Ben drove into the municipal lot a few blocks from the Bill and Vinny. He didn’t plan on drinking that much, but a few blocks walk couldn’t hurt at the end of the night. Ben turned the key, cutting Robert Smith off midlament. He looked at his phone before he opened the door. He should text Chance. What I should really do is invite him along, Ben thought. He wouldn’t come. Ben knew it. Chance rarely wanted to go out, and when he did, it was usually to the theater or a movie. Ben shrugged. Maybe tonight would be different.
Heading 2 the B&V w/ Lena. Wanna join? Ben typed and sent. He waited to see if Chance would reply. Sometimes Ben wondered why Chance even had a phone based on the frequency of his responses. Ben was about to open the door when his phone vibrated.

In the middle of a session. Ben read Chance’s message. A session meant Chance was on his computer, writing fan fiction with some of his Internet buddies. They took turns pretending they were fictional characters. Ben wondered if it was the Harry Potter group or the Avengers nerds.

If u get done b4 I get home, offer stands, Ben answered.

Thanks. Have fun. I won’t wait up.

K. Ben flipped his phone shut, not surprised. He shook his head and stepped out of the car. He pressed the lock button as he walked away, noticing Lena’s VW three spaces from his own. Ben always felt a little guilty having fun without Chance. But why should I? Ben thought. I’m an adult. And it’s only a couple of drinks. He tried to shake off his ill mood as he approached the bar, looking up at the sign and smiling. The bar looked like any of a dozen bars downtown but for the sign. Mike had chosen the classic woodcut picture of William Shakespeare and the famous Van Gogh self-portrait and had them painted to look like they were arm-in-arm and raising pints. It was too hilarious.

As Ben pulled open the door, a gust of smoky, warm air rushed out to meet him, carrying the sounds of a busy bar, music, laughter, and conversation. The one drawback to Mike’s, in Ben’s opinion, was the thick haze of smoke that lingered constantly within. Mike didn’t serve food, so the B&V remained one of a handful of bars where people could still smoke inside.

Ben couldn’t believe the B&V was this busy on a Tuesday. The bar was packed. He stood at the door and scanned the room for Lena. “ID?” the guy at the door asked. Ben thought his name was Curt. Ben dug out his wallet and handed the bouncer his driver’s license with a little satisfaction. Ben was closing in on thirty and relished those times when others couldn’t tell. “Thanks,” the guy said and returned Ben’s ID. “Have a good one.”
Ben nodded and smiled. “I’ll try,” he answered. Then he waded into the sea of bodies gathered here and there in groups, talking, drinking. He still couldn’t see Lena.

Although he did see a disproportionate amount of young hotties. And they looked strangely enough like jocks. The B&V wasn’t a sports bar. Ben wondered what had drawn these guys to this bar. A round of cheers erupted. Ben looked over to see Lena sitting on two beefcakes’ shoulders.

“Ben!” she shouted, waving him over. “Ben-Ben! Get over here! Put me down, boys.” She patted her supporters, and they lowered her to the floor. Lena threw her arm around Ben’s shoulders.

“What’s up, Lena?” Ben asked, returning the embrace. Judging by the way his friend leaned on him, she’d already had more than a few drinks.

“Look at all these little beauties,” she almost slurred, guiding him to the bar. “Get me a vodka and tonic. I have to pee.”

“Delightful,” Ben said with a theatrical grimace. “Just go.” He waved her off as she stuck her tongue out. He grinned at his friend as he pulled a few bills from his pocket and turned back to the bar. Everybody knew orders were taken faster if you showed cash. Ben rested his elbows on the edge of the counter.

He discreetly scanned the room, surveying the massive amount of eye candy. The ratio of men to women was seriously skewed and the pool table busier than he’d seen it in a while, crowded with young men. “Getcha somethin’?” Ben turned toward the voice behind the bar.

His gaze fell on a bartender he didn’t recognize, and Ben’s voice stuck in his throat. The bartender was a vision: lean, tall, with a jaunty fauxhawk of dark hair fading to red at the tips. The young man had beautiful caramel-brown eyes beneath mischievously arched brows. His lips were full, and his mouth quirked in the perfect grin. He was exactly the opposite of Ben’s basically clean-cut style.

“I, uh. My friend,” Ben stuttered. He squeezed his eyes shut, trying to will the heat he felt on his cheeks to go away. “Vodka tonic for my friend,” he finally managed.
“Anything for you?” the pretty bartender asked. He’d already grabbed a highball glass and placed it on the bar. As he dropped ice into the glass, Ben noticed his arms were covered in tattoos, accentuated by a sleeveless dress shirt.

“Rum and ginger ale,” Ben said without thinking.

“Right.” The bartender smiled and nodded, pouring vodka with one hand and retrieving another highball glass with the other. Ben thought the man’s easy movements were like poetry. Glass, ice, pour, and a spray of soda, both hands working independently. “That’ll be six,” the bartender said, dropping black stirrers into the drinks and passing them across. Ben handed over two fives and the bartender turned to the register. Ben took advantage, checking out the view the bartender’s skinny jeans offered. Ben averted his eyes quickly when the bartender turned. “Four’s your change.” Ben accepted the bills and laid two on the bar. “Thanks.” The bartender flashed a smile. Ben returned a smile of his own before sipping from the stirrer like a straw in a decidedly unmasculine gesture.

“What are you doing?” Lena asked as she grabbed her drink from the bar. “You look like a little kid.” She took a long sip from her glass, ignoring her stirrer as Ben released his tiny straw, feeling self-conscious.

“What’s with all the hot boys?” Ben asked, his voice raised to combat the new round of music from the jukebox.

“Mike’s brother just turned twenty-one.” Lena took another sip of her drink, smiling at a much younger man across the pool table.

“So what?” Ben said as he tipped his glass to his mouth, attempting a more mature manner of sipping but poking himself just below the eye with the stirrer. He plucked the thing from his drink and threw it in an ashtray on the bar.

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