We’re so please to welcome author Ethan Stone to The Novel Approach today on this special blog tour for the Racing Hearts Anthology, a book of stories lovingly compiled in memory of the late Peter Laybourn, husband of Pride Publishing editor Sue Laybourn. All proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated to further cancer research.
Join me in welcoming contributing author Ethan Stone, and be sure to check out Pride Publishing’s December Giveaway HERE.
Story ideas come to me in all sorts of ways. Just My Luck had to feature horse racing in some way but there was one problem—I know nothing about that subject. So I did some research and learned that the mafia has often had a hand in the world of horse racing. And that connected to the type of story I usually write—action, mystery and thriller.
One of my main characters is Kieran Jones, a jockey. Part of Kieran’s back story is that he was a foster child adopted by a wealthy man, Andreas Ware. Though I don’t think it’s mentioned in the story, Andreas specifically adopted Kieran because of his small size. Kieran was trained from a young age to do the job, so it’s a good thing he liked it. Originally I envisioned Andreas as being cold and distant treating Kieran more like an employee than a son, but I later changed it so they had a good relationship.
Once I could picture Kieran, thanks to an extensive internet search, I start focusing on the other character. I wanted the two to be physically different so I could use that as a starting point in their relationship. It didn’t take long to find an image to use for him, it was one already in my collection. A man leaning against a truck, with an open jean jacket bearing his hairy chest, a cowboy hat topping off the ensemble. My label for the picture said cowboy cop. And that pretty much describes Sam Shaw.
Sam’s in Portland to do a job and doesn’t want distractions. He heads to a bar hoping to get lucky and while Sam and Kieran are first drawn to each other because of their height differences, it turns out they have a lot more than hot sex in common.
About Racing Hearts: Totally Entwined Group editor, Sue Laybourn, sadly lost her husband Peter earlier this year, after a brave battle against cancer. In tribute to Peter and to show their support for Sue, these six Pride Publishing authors got together to write this anthology of short stories called Racing Hearts. These stories surround the world of horseracing, a sport which Peter and Sue passionately followed together.
Pride Publishing will be donating its royalties to charity. Proceeds will be going to Cancer Research UK and Prospect Hospice, where Peter was a patient.
Blurbs: ‘The Lonely Ones’ by Bailey Bradford
Marshall’s all city, and Rex is all cowboy, so it’s no wonder sparks fly when they meet.
Marshall Evans never wanted to inherit his grandfather’s Thoroughbred horse ranch. He doesn’t know much about raising and training racehorses, and he knows even less about the man who left him what he sees as a burden. His grandfather wasn’t a nice man at all, and he left the ranch to Marshall more as a fuck you to the one person who did want the ranch, who had tried to buy it, and had put up with years of verbal and at times, physical abuse, only to have his home yanked out from under his feet. Rex Martinez had only ever had one home, and that was the ranch. Now he was about to lose it.
Marshall arrives in the small town of Erring, NM, only to be confronted by this silently furious man, and together, they’re going to have to work out what to do. The will stipulates that Marshall can’t sell the ranch to Rex, because Allen found out Rex was gay. Rex didn’t know he knew, but the old man had no idea about Marshall since Marshall hadn’t been raised anywhere near him.
It’s not as simple as selling the ranch, either. Marshall thinks it will be, but no. He can’t put Rex out of a home so easily.
‘Racing for Home’ by Morticia Knight
Groom Charlie loves the Piedmont Farms horses—but not nearly as much as the man he can never have, Edward Piedmont.
At the age of twenty-two, Charlie has lived at Piedmont Farms—the largest race horse breeding facility on the east coast—for eight years. For five of those years, he’s been desperately in love with Albert Piedmont’s oldest son, Edward. At one time, he believed Edward’s declarations that they’d be together forever. It was a brutal slap in the face when Edward married a local heiress and moved away to live with her on her family estate. Only his love of the horses, including one in particular, has kept him from complete despair.
Edward knows that horse groom Charlie must hate him after being abandoned when Edward married Alice, but he’d thought he was doing the right thing at the time. After three years of a sham of a marriage, Alice has found someone who she really wants to marry, and Edward is free to divorce her. Edward moves back to Piedmont, desperate to get Charlie back, even if they would still have to hide their love.
Charlie wants to believe that Edward still loves him and that he can believe in him once again. But love between two men in 1912 America is even worse than love between someone of a higher and lower station. Charlie fears that it would never be possible for them to truly have a life together.
Edward’s father, Albert Piedmont, is also hiding. However, his secrets pertain to the possible loss of his once wildly successful horse breeding farm. When everything begins to rapidly crumble, Edward has to make a desperate move to secure a future for him and Charlie before it’s too late.
‘The Secret of Delville Wood’ by Helena Maeve
A handsome, naked man in his bed is the kind of surprise Silas lives for. The dead body hanging outside his window, not so much.
In the shadow of the Great War, three soldiers made a fortune on racetracks either side of the North Sea. Their families thrived with the clandestine passions of youth, wanting for nothing while whole nations suffered the scarcities of peace. By their grace and generosity, Axel, a young man once forced to sell his body, became a champion.
Yet the lure of fast money hides many dark deeds and Pia Eckdahl’s manor on Lake Sågträsk is no exception. Hired to cleanse the Swedish socialite’s house of evil spirits, Nigerian-born Silas doesn’t care much for horses, racing or the affectations of the nouveau-riche. But he does care for Axel. Caught between peddling his heritage for an extortionate sum and investigating a suspicious suicide, Silas soon finds himself delving into a decade-old family secret that could well destroy his lover’s racing future.
‘Keeping the Luck In’ by L.M. Somerton
Since when was a squirrel crossing your path bad luck?
Like his father before him, Rory Ironstone was born and bred to be a blacksmith. Standing six feet five in his socked feet, he’s built like a barn door. He loves his job at Camworth Racecourse forge, tending to the beautiful racehorses and creating ironwork art in his spare time.
Pip Ryder is a summer stable hand and newly qualified vet who longs for someone to love him as much as they do his four-legged charges. He admires Rory from afar, but is too shy to admit his interest goes beyond the anvil.
When the horseshoe above the forge door is knocked off, Rory believes his luck has fallen out. Pip comes to the rescue but when Rory shows more than a platonic interest, he bolts.
Rory is convinced that the only way to re-fill his horseshoe with luck is to get Pip back and keep him.
‘Just my Luck’ by Ethan Stone
Appearances can be deceiving.
Kieran Jones is as used to short jokes as Sam Shaw is to being teased for his height. When they meet at a nightclub there’s an instant attraction, and not just because of the stark difference in their bodies.
After a passionate night, Sam sneaks out, positive he won’t see the hot guy again. Not because he doesn’t want to, but because he’s in town to do a job and he doesn’t need a distraction. He never imagined that growing up on a farm and knowing all about horses would help with his career, but it has and he can’t let anything get in the way.
However, jockey Kieran is connected to Sam’s mission and Sam has a tough choice to make—use Kieran to get it done or walk away. It could spell the end of the relationship before it’s even begun, but a life or death situation makes Sam realize just exactly how much he cares for Kieran and how much he wants a future with him.
‘Horses and Harleys’ by Molly Ann Wishlade
Life’s not just about horses and Harleys, but sometimes you have to get back in the saddle if you want to go along for the ride.
Henry Lockhart is a rich, successful businessman but life at the top can be lonely, especially as he vowed never to fall in love again after a painful bereavement.
Alex Castillo grew up in a small town where small minds made his life a misery. A disastrous love affair with a married man and the recent death of his mother led him to flee his hometown in search of a better life.
When their worlds collide after Alex takes a job as a groom at Henry’s stables, they both know that life will never be the same again.
But they’ve both been hurt, they’ve both suffered loss, shame and regret.
Can they find a way to be together, or will they both ride off into the sunset alone?
Excerpt – Just My Luck: I knew it the second I spotted him. He was a smaller man, couldn’t have been more than five foot tall. He moved with a smooth, graceful quality that entranced me instantly. At first he was dancing with a small group of women he was clearly friends with, then a guy with blond hair slid in behind my brunette stud. The object of my affection spun around, noticed the intruder, and glared at the guy so strongly it stopped the guy in his tracks. My guy waved him off. The other dude dropped his chin to his chest and sulked away.
The interaction made me laugh. The guy obviously knew what he wanted. The question was if I was his type. He peeled off his sweaty T-shirt and the disparities couldn’t have been more pronounced. In addition to the foot and a half difference between us, I was as hairy as he was smooth. I had wide shoulders and chest that tapered down to muscular abs. His upper body and torso were flat. The distinctions just made me want him more.
Gulping down the whiskey for a bit of liquid courage, I took a deep breath and pressed into the crowd. I kept an eye on my target but froze when another guy stepped up to him. I refused to let it stop me, so I pushed forward until I was right where I wanted to be.
I slid between the new guy and the man I’d targeted. The other guy objected but I faced him and stared him down until he slunk away. It took a minute before the short stud turned and realized he had a new dancing partner. His eyes were level with my chest and they widened as he took me in, scanning upward until meeting mine.
A smile formed on his lips and quickly became a wide grin. “Damn.” His eyes glazed over in what I hoped was attraction.
I shifted closer and he didn’t move away. We shifted in rhythm to the beat, our bodies coming closer until they touched. He turned and I put my hands on his hips, pulling him against me. I was hard as a rock in my tight blue jeans, there was no doubt he had to feel it. Apparently, he didn’t mind because he kept dancing. The skin contact was invigorating and thrilling. I craved more. Wanted to do stuff we couldn’t do on the dance floor.
He stopped moving and I tried to hide my disappointment. “Buy me a drink?”
About the Author: Ethan Stone has recently returned to Oregon and is working on re-growing his web feet. He has been obsessed with two things in his life: books and all things gay. After spending years trying to ignore the voices in his head, he finally decided to sit down and listen to them.
What he discovered was a perfect union of his two obsessions. Ethan used to have a day job that paid the bills. He wore a uniform to work and he looked damn sexy in it. Now he gets to wear sweatpants and watch movies all day.
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