Jennifer Cierra, JMS Books LLC

A Song Of Regrets and Redemption – No More Lonely Lullabies by Jennifer Cierra

Is there any scream more piercing than that of the soul which suffers in silence? – Author Unknown

Cole Grayson had thought his best friend and lover, Jake Walker, was dead, until he walked into a bar one night and the bouncer turned out to be the man—the only man—who, even from the grave, had influenced every single event in the man’s life up to that point: his dreams, his music career, his sham of a marriage…

Finding Jake again and rescuing him from the life he’d been living was supposed to be the realization of everything perfect and whole, and should have completed the picture of the future the two men were destined to have together. But for Jake, the past has left too many scars to ignore, has left too much pain in its wake to leave him in peace and to allow him to believe that who he is and what he’s suffered and what he’s been forced to do to survive are the things that make him anywhere near deserving enough of Cole.

Singing Alone introduced these two men, telling the story from Cole’s point-of-view. In No More Lonely Lullabies, Jennifer Cierra tells Jake’s story, the agonizing truth of the events that shaped who Jake has become, the man who goes through the motions of living but who did, in a figurative way, die all those years before. He is the man who can’t outrun his past in spite of how hard he tries, unless he can allow himself to accept that he has someone to run to and deserves everything that someone is willing to give. Jake is the man who must learn to trust that his silence will keep him bound to the past and only the truth will set him free.

This was an emotional cap on Cole and Jake’s story, filled with the sadness of a boy who was cheated out of the life he deserved and robbed him of the happiness that should have been his to share with the man he loved, and of the purging of the secrets that had become the poison in Jake’s mind so that he could finally forgive himself and look to the future.

This is a lovely completion to Cole and Jake’s story, and I loved the short little commingling at the end of these characters with Paul Ashton from the author’s Melting Wax and Burning Feathers.

You can buy No More Lonely Lullabies here:

Jennifer Cierra, JMS Books LLC, Small Gems

In Which Things Ain’t All They’re Cracked Up To Be – Valentino’s Valentine by Jennifer Cierra

Opportunity is a favorable occasion for grasping a disappointment. – Ambrose Bierce

William Pastor learns a very valuable lesson about celebrity worship: sometimes the actor is only as interesting as the words that others have put into his mouth, and only as sure of himself as the directions he’s been given by a script. Sometimes celebrities are far more the image that’s been constructed for them on screen than the reality you’ve spent years of your life cultivating in your imagination. It’s amazing how pretty some people are to look at until they open their mouths and shatter the illusion.

Vincent Valentino’s lips are numero uno on William’s list of people he has carte blanch to kiss outside of his relationship with Ethan Anderson. I mean, come on, don’t we all have someone in mind like that? I do. The difference between William and me, however, is that the likelihood of my ever catching, say, Chris Hemsworth in a liplock is about as good as my odds of getting caught with, say, Robert Downey Jr. in a game of tonsil hockey. In other words, William got pretty damn lucky when he was selected as the winner of a Valentine’s Day date with Mr. Valentino. Unfortunately for William, however, his dream date with destiny turns out to be more like a lesson in being very careful what you wish for. Fantasy. Fail.

But thankfully it’s not all a one-sided schooling and by the end of their “date”, William has taught Vincent a thing or two about himself, especially when it comes to being honest about who he is.

Valentino’s Valentine is a sweet little story about a fan who adds a nice dent to the sleek Teflon coating of a man whose art it is to pretend to be someone he’s not. I’ll confess I was nearly to ready to honor William with the “Worst Boyfriend Ever” award, but then he ends up learning that the grass isn’t always greener, and he did it just in time to redeem himself to me. It was a close call, though.

You can by Valentino’s Valentine here:

Abigail Roux, Aleksandr Voinov, Amelia C. Gormley, Amy Lane, Andrea Speed, Anyta Sunday, Astrid Amara, Ava March, Beau Schemery, Benjamin Alire Saenz, Carole Cummings, Charlie Cochet, Cornelia Grey, Dani Alexander, Diana Copland, Eden Winters, Edmond Manning, Elyan Smith, Ethan Day, Ginn Hale, Hayden Thorne, Heidi Belleau, J.C. Lillis, J.H. Trumble, J.P. Barnaby, Jennifer Cierra, John Goode, John T. Fuller, Jordan Castillo Price, Josh Lanyon, Joshua Martino, Kaje Harper, L.B. Gregg, M.J. O'Shea, Maria McCann, Marshall Moore, Mary Calmes, Missy Welsh, Nicole Kimberling, P.D. Singer, Paul Alan Fahey, Piper Vaughn, Rhys Ford, S.A. Reid, The Year In Reviews, Violetta Vane, Z.A. Maxfield

2012 – A Year In Reviews

Well, it’s that time of year again, the time of year when we all wonder where the days and weeks and months have gone, the time to reflect on some of the great books we’ve read throughout the year, the time of year I scratch my head and wonder if I’ll ever live long enough to read all the books I want to read (The answer? Pfft. No.), the time of year I wonder how the flip I manage to read as many books as I do in an entire year, and then wonder how I’m supposed to compile a list of favorites that doesn’t include more books than some people read in a year’s time. Top Ten? Piffles. I can barely pick the top ten in a single sub-genre, let along manage it for an across the board list. So, do I get a little creative in my selection methods? Probably. Is it honest? Definitely. Do I feel badly for leaving some amazing books off my list? Certainly. But I have to draw the line somewhere. ::sighs:: And for that I apologize to all the very deserving authors out there who should be recognized and celebrated for their brilliant work.

Quite a few of the books that made my list this year weren’t even published in 2012; that’s just when I finally got around to reading them. ::slow:: There is one book, however, that was published in 2012 that has managed to make me do something I’ve never been able to do in three years of putting together a year in reviews list: name a top pick for Best Book of the Year. Yep, that’s a first for me.

And since I’m always looking for the “next great read”, if there are books you’ve read this year that didn’t make my list, leave a comment and share so I can add it to my ginormous reading pile. :)

So, without further ado, here’s my list of Favorite Books of 2012:

Category One: Best Contemporary by a New To Me author

1. Shattered Glass by Dani Alexander
2. A Reason to Believe by Diana Copland
3. Aaron by J.P. Barnaby

*Honorable Mention: Inertia and Acceleration by Amelia C. Gormley*

Category Two: Best Contemporary by a Favorite Author
1. Armed & Dangerous by Abigail Roux
2. Sidecar by Amy Lane
3. Acrobat by Mary Calmes

*Honorable Mention: The Rare Event by P.D. Singer and One Small Thing by Piper Vaughn and M.J. O’Shea*

Category Three: Best Historical – 20th Century
1. Skybound by Aleksandr Voinov
2. Protection by S.A. Reid
3. Roses in the Devil’s Garden by Charlie Cochet

*Honorable Mention: Into Deep Waters by Kaje Harper

Category Four: Best Historical – 19th Century or earlier
1. As Meat Loves Salt by Maria McCann
2. When the Music Stops by John T. Fuller
3. The Affair of the Porcelain Dog by Jess Faraday

*Honorable Mention – His Client by Ava March

Category Five:Best Young Adult/Coming of Age (Contemporary)
1. End of the Innocence by John Goode
2. Don’t Let Me Go by J.H. Trimble
3. How to Repair a Mechanical Heart by J.C. Lillis

*Honorable Mention – Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz*

Category Six:Best Young Adult/Coming of Age (Fantasy and/or Historical)
1. The 7th of London by Beau Schemery
2. The Winter Garden and Other Stories by Hayden Thorne
3. (In)visible by Anyta Sunday

Category Seven:Best AU/UF/Fantasy
1. Infected: Shift by Andrea Speed
2. Mnevermind 1: The Persistence of Memory by Jordan Castillo Price
3. A Token of Time by Ethan Day

*Honorable Mention: Irregulars by Nicole Kimberling, Josh Lanyon, Ginn Hale & Astrid Amara*

Category EightBest Short Stories/Novelettes – All Sub-Genres
1. Clouds’ Illusions by Hayden Thorne
2. Bounty Hunter by Cornelia Grey
3. Zones by Elyan Smith
4. Portside by Elyan Smith
5. The War at the End of the World by Heidi Belleau and Violetta Vane
6. Same Time Next Year by Eden Winters
7. Tinsel and Frost by Eden Winters
8. Oscar’s Soul by Missy Welch
9. Singing Alone by Jennifer Cierra
10. The View from 16 Podwale Street by Paul Alan Fahey

Category Nine: Best LGBT Non-Romance
1. Fontana by Joshua Martino
2. The Infernal Republic by Marshall Moore

Category Ten: Best Series – AU/Fantasy
1. The Wolf’s-own Series by Carole Cummings
2. The Rifter Series by Ginn Hale
3. The Infected Series by Andrea Speed

Category Eleven:Best Series – Mystery/Suspense
1. The Cut & Run Series by Abigail Roux
2. The Cole McGinnis Mysteries Series by Rhys Ford
3. The Romano and Albright Series by L.B. Gregg

Category Twelve: Best Series – Erotic/Kink/BDSM
1. The Dark Soul Series by Aleksandr Voinov
2. The Bound Series by Ava March

Category Thirteen Best Series – Contemporary
Tied for First place: (Seriously, I can’t choose)
1. The St. Nacho’s Series by Z.A. Maxfield
1. The Johnnies Series by Amy Lane
1. The A Matter of Time Series by Mary Calmes
1. The Tales From Foster High Series by John Goode

And now….

Finally, it comes down to my choice for Best Book of 2012, which goes to the brilliant and beautiful King Perry by Edmond Manning. I can say, with all honesty, I’ve never read a book quite like it in my entire life. Simply put, it is the reason I read and read and read, because every so often I find a book that leaves me both speechless and wanting to shout its praises from the rooftops at the same time. If you haven’t read it yet, do. Soon. Like maybe right now, soon. :)

Now it’s time to get to work on adding to my list for next year!

Jennifer Cierra, JMS Books LLC

Small Gems – Blast Off by Jennifer Cierra

Fate brought you back to me, this time I won’t let you leave. – Unknown

Sometimes a man’ll get a notion in his head to do the right thing but for the wrong reasons, or sometimes it’s a matter of doing the wrong thing for the right reasons, whatever the case, six year ago, Jordan Tercel walked away from Zeke Lawrence because he didn’t want to be the reason Zeke stayed firmly planted on the ground when what the man really wanted to do was reach for the stars. Jordan’s intentions were good—flawed but good—but the problem with doing something for someone else’s benefit is that if you don’t take what they want into consideration, even the best laid plans can cause a lot of unnecessary heartache.

But when two people are destined to be together, fate often has a way of intervening, and though the timing may be slower than Zeke had ever intended, the means, mode, and opportunity to his second chance with Jordan finally comes along. And now it’s just a matter of convincing Jordan that a second chance is exactly what he wants and needs.

Jennifer Cierra’s Blast Off is a sweet little morsel of a story, just long enough to satisfy that need for instant gratification I so love in short stories, and definitely long enough for me to get behind Zeke’s mission and cheer for him when he and Jordan finally made lift-off. Zeke did the right thing for the right reason, proving that though not all his plans work, this one couldn’t fail.

Buy Blast Off here:

Jennifer Cierra, JMS Books LLC, Small Gems

Jennifer Cierra Would Just Love To Give You FREE Books!

Read on to see how!

Hi, Jennifer, and welcome to The Novel Approach! I’m so glad to have you here with me today. Let’s just jump right into things and have you tell us a little bit about yourself before we get to the contest portion of the program.

Q. When did you decide that writing was going to become more a serious pursuit than a hobby?

I’m not sure I ever decided it, honestly. I’ve admired the writing of J.M. Snyder since I discovered it via a book of free shorts years ago, and I’d dreamt about publishing with her press, but it takes a while to work up the courage to submit anything. In my freshman year of college, I submitted a novel-length work which was rejected; it took me over a year to submit anything again. But when I did, J.M. accepted it, and I’ve been whirling to keep up with where it’s taken me since.

Q. What was your first published story, and how long did it take you to write it?

Singing Alone,” and it took a lot longer from first word to completion than it did to actually sit down and write it. I usually have about six projects going on at once, and “Singing Alone” was no exception. I wrote the first couple thousand words at a coffee shop while feeling really overwhelmed and alone during a year studying abroad in Germany, and then I set it aside for a couple of months. I later found it, reread it, completed it, edited it – a process which took about a week in itself – and submitted it. About six months altogether (which is really long for a 10,000-word short), but I was working on a lot of other projects simultaneously (including getting settled in in a foreign country, which is a task in itself).

Q. Have you always written M/M Romance? If not, how did you find your way to it?

I’m a yaoi convert. The first yaoi anime I watched was Gravitation, which in retrospect could easily have been heterosexual, but I was fascinated by the fact that it wasn’t. I fell into slash FanFiction from there, writing it throughout high school, and ended up with almost a hundred stories by the time I decided to turn to my own characters. At that point, they were so out-of-character they were almost unrecognizable when compared to canon that I was getting complaints, so I think it’s a good thing I decided to create my own.

Q. Of all the characters you’ve created, who would you say is your favorite and why?

It’s hard to say – I always adore the one I’m working with – but characters like Dan Rorney, the narrator of “Champagne Bubbly,” and Andy, the protagonist of my current project, are always fun. They’re completely normal people and have no major issues, but they’re plagued by little neuroses which are extremely fun to aggravate. Dan, for instance, is a perfectionist, and each little thing that goes wrong sends his blood pressure skyrocketing – usually straight to his face, which stresses him further, because he hates blushing. Making sure his hair is out of place, his tie rumpled, and of course, his top-shelf champagne nonexistent is my calling; I poke him with a stick and wait to see how vivaciously he explodes.

Q. If you could offer one word of advice to a writer just starting out, what would it be?

Don’t be afraid to create your own characters and tell the story you actually want to tell. I didn’t realize if I focused on the stories I wanted to tell and made them my priority, an audience would develop on its own. Most people are willing to take a risk on someone or something new, so long as it’s well-written (and sometimes even if it’s not). Figure out what it is you want to write and write it, no matter what anyone says – that’s the first step, and although it’s a big one, you’ll never regret taking it.

Q. If you could trade lives with any one fictional character, just for a day, who would it be and why?

Harry Dresden from Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files. He’s a kick-ass wizard, and no matter what anyone throws at him, he always comes up fighting – and he manages to save the world every single time, no matter what he has to sacrifice to do so or how little recognition he gets for doing it. Harry is my hero.  I’d probably die within six minutes of stepping into his shoes, but I’d kill for the chance nonetheless.

Q. Have you ever read something and thought, damn, I wish I’d written that? If so, what was it?

All the time. Someone wiser than me (on Twitter, I believe) said the only writers who think their writing is great are the bad ones, and I’m definitely an adherent to that axiom. Whenever I pick up a book by Jim Butcher, Orson Scott Card, or Brandon Sanderson – that man is magical, I swear – I become absolutely drenched with discouragement because I know I will never be able to tell stories like they do. But then their stories pluck me up and transport me to new worlds, and I am encouraged with them simultaneously, because I’m honored to live in a world which produces such amazing storytellers.

The more encouraging moments are when I read through my own stories and stumble across a passage that just works and can answer that thought with, “Wait, I did write that! But how?” It doesn’t happen often, but it makes all the rest worth it.

Q. Where’s your favorite place to write?

I found a wonderful spot in Heidelberg, Germany, right under the crook of a centuries-old sandstone bridge, where I could watch the water flow by, type on my iPad, glance up at the crumbling castle from time to time, and listen to the sounds of the old-town city center behind me – a beautiful mixture of snippets of half-decipherable German and horrid American accents…that was wonderful. Failing that, because the year in Germany is over and I’m back in California (and the flight is really long), I like coffee shops. I need background noise, be it musical or vocal, and while I’m extremely introverted when I’m writing, the semblance of life going on around me is comforting and encouraging. I like at least pretending life isn’t passing me by.

Q. How would you describe your sense of humor? What makes you laugh?

It’s always the little, quirky things. I’m endlessly entertained by the twists and snags of language. For instance, there are at least three words for “comfortable” in German. “Angenehm” refers to the metaphoric and social atmosphere, when one is comfortable talking to someone; “bequem” is reserved for physical comfort, as in couches, chairs, and cafeteria stools; and “gemütlich” is this wonderful conglomerate of a word encompassing “cozy,” “welcoming,” “warm,” “open,” “homey,” and twenty other terms I can’t list off – it has no direct translation into English. On the other hand, “böse” is an adjective which relates everything from unruly in the phrase, “Bad dog!” to the “evil” appellation of a James Bond villain. These things – the little mysteries of language and life – never fail to tickle me.

Q. Do you have news of any works-in-progress you’d care to share with us?

It would be counter-productive to describe all the half-written stories I’m working on, because I never know which narrator will be talkative next, but I’ll let you know what’s slated for publication in the near future. “Blast Off” is a short piece on a man determined to get his ex-lover back after a six-year absence, no matter what the lover says, and will be published in November. It’s special to me because it’s set in a futuristic society which, while it doesn’t get much screen time in the short, is the setting of an in-progress novel where I can play with water worlds, spaceships, and genetic mutations, all the while staying true to my M/M self. (I didn’t have enough science fiction toys as a child, apparently.) Next after “Blast Off” will be “Valentino’s Valentine,” a tale of what goes wrong when you actually hold to those “okay-to-kiss” lists some couples make before entering committed relationships; as the prize in a soda-can contest, Will wins a date with movie star Vincent Valentino, but he soon realizes the real romance is the one waiting for him at home. Finally, in March, “No More Lonely Lullabies” will pick up Cole and Jake’s story a year after “Singing Alone,” where the happily-ever-after Cole predicted hasn’t quite arrived. I’m very excited to announce my first print book, an anthology of three of my music-centric stories, will be published in April under the title “Heartsong,” which I find quite fitting; the goal of romance is, after all, to sing to readers’ hearts, wouldn’t you say?

Q. Where can we find you on the internet?

My homepage is, and links to all of my stories are available there. (A convenient releases newsletter subscription button, which is feeling quite lonely lately, is also there.) Past that, I’m available on Twitter ( and Facebook ( I love hearing from readers, so please drop me a line!

Q. Would you be willing to share an excerpt from one of your books with us?

Of course! This is from “Champagne Bubbly,” my newest release (which is also up for grabs as a freebie give-away – check out the details below!):

About half of the guests had arrived when, after checking my hair and making sure the sweat wasn’t too visible under my armpits, I finally exited my office. Andrea, looking stunning in a navy blue, knee-length sailor dress I was fairly certain was from Guess, leg-enhancing patent leather heels, and her long dark curls, gave me a relieved grin.

“Hey — glad to see you. I was starting to worry you’d gotten lost in the desk-clutter.” Andrea was always complaining about my addiction to paper scraps, but I just couldn’t work my iPhone the way she could. Too old-fashioned, maybe.

I forced a smile, ignoring Andrea’s immediate suspicious reaction. “Sorry about that. I’m here now.”

“Uh … okay. Listen, Dan, do you know where the champagne is? I can’t find it.”

“It’s coming,” I promised, but before I could answer Andrea’s confused expression, Mrs. Cameron, my eclectic boss, grabbed my arm, pulling me aside.

“Danny!” she whispered, voice horror-filled. “It’s an emergency!”

“What is?” I asked, mind racing. Did the caterer forget the vegetarian canapés? Was there a recall on GQ scarves? Did someone die in the living room?

“I’ve been looking at that book of yours, and there’s a typo.”

My heart stopped beating. If Mrs. Cameron, who was notoriously blind as a bat, could see it, it was glaring. And on my first real book, too … Voice low, I asked, “Where?”

“Here, right on the back,” she answered, grabbing my elbow in her claw-like fingers and leading me to the white-clothed table with the advance copy of my book enshrouded by white roses and quill pens. My pride and joy — my baby, even if my mother was convinced it was just trash fiction.

She lifted the book, flipped it over, and pointed to the promotional blurb. I blinked at the familiar text, confused. “Where?”

“Right there!” Taking in my baffled expression, she read, “‘Jacob, a successful auto mechanic in the L.A. Basin,’ blah-blah, ‘has always felt something was missing in his love life — but then he meets Charlie Somers. In his eyes, Jacob starts …'” She stopped, looking at me expectantly.

I blinked. “… what am I supposed to be noticing?”

“Sweetie, the pronoun’s wrong! And you call yourself an editor? You wrote ‘his’!”

“Uh … Mrs. Cameron …”

“Right there, see? ‘In his eyes’?”

“Mrs. Cameron,” I coughed to clear my throat, “I told you the book was slash fiction, didn’t I?”

“Well, yes, but I don’t see horror elements having anything to do with a simple typo …”

“Horror elements?” I chuckled despite myself. “Mrs. C, I think you’re thinking slasher fiction. Maybe. I’m honestly not sure. Anyway, slash fiction means two guys. You know, homosexual? Gay?” Me?

“Oh!” Blinking owlishly behind her spectacles, Mrs. Cameron turned back to the book, pursing her frog-like lips. “Oh. Well, of course then, dear. Now where did that slang come from? Kids these days.” I smiled, extricating myself from her, but not before catching her muttering to herself, “They really publish that stuff these days? Who buys it?”

That’s what I’m hoping to find out, Mrs. C, I thought wryly. I didn’t get two steps, though, before being captured by Wynn Smith, an old classmate of mine, whom I had invited for the sole purpose of guilting her into reviewing my book after its official release, tomorrow. “Dan!”

“Hey, Wynn! How are you?”

“Fine — happy birthday!” She was all smiles for another thirty seconds before her expression reverted to the sneering smirk I remembered from college, the one that had made her so famous in the newspaper-and-blog world. “Listen, Dan, the appetizers are great, but do you have anything harder than coffee? I’m absolutely craving some bubbly, and I know you’re probably holding out for the toast, but I would be so grateful if you could snag me a glass …”

I cringed. “Yeah, I’m sure …” How long did it take to drive out from Walnut Avenue, anyway?

As if on cue, I heard the doorbell ring. Excusing myself from Wynn, I hurried to the door, hoping beyond hope it wasn’t just another party guest.

My prayers were, for once, answered. Standing on the front step, a muscular man with spiked brown hair and cheerful chestnut eyes waited with a black crate propped against his hip. He brightened when he saw me, and I opened my mouth to ask him to bring the box in the kitchen door where the guests wouldn’t see him, but then I caught sight of his dimples and my voice stopped working.

Cocoa skin and chocolate eyes and a smile that said sin and salvation simultaneously, he was the protagonist of one of my novels brought to life.

Thanks again very much for being here today, Jennifer! I hope you’ll come back and visit again soon!

Okay, how would you like a chance to win some FREE books from Jennifer Cierra?! All you have to do is leave a comment on this post and you’ll be automatically entered. The first place winner will receive a copy of Jennifer’s newest release, Champagne Bubbles, and the second place winner will receive a copy of Melting Wax and Burning Feathers. Be sure to leave your email address in your comment, as well, so we know how to contact you. Good luck!

**Deadline for entry is 11:59pm Pacific Time (2:59am Easter) on Saturday, November 3rd, 2012.**

Jennifer Cierra, JMS Books LLC, Small Gems

Small Gems – Champagne Bubbly by Jennifer Cierra

“It may have just been a moment to you, but it changed every single one that followed for me.” – (pleasefindthis – Author of the book I Wrote This for You)

Sometimes there is a lovely symmetry to all the possible things that can go wrong with the most carefully laid plans, when one of those wrongs turns into something so very right. For Dan Rorney, a few missing bottles of champagne turned out to be one of the best non-gifts he could ever have hoped for even though at the time, he’d have gladly murdered his little brother for flaking out on him and potentially ruining not only his birthday but the launch party for his new novel, as well.

But as fate or fortune or whatever name you give those happy accidents that seem to stage interventions at the most opportune moments and snub their noses at the whims of mortal men would have it, Dan makes a chance phone call to Shamrock Off Sale, a call that brings Chris Tennyson knocking on his door, bearing champagne and inadvertently turning Dan’s thoughts toward something that, to that point, he’d only ever dreamt of in his philosophies.

Reading a man can be difficult when the signals being sent out are mixed, and an evening of what seemed to be connection turns into questions without clear answers, but hope is there nonetheless that what you think was there was truly more than the ephemeral bubbles popping in the champagne you shared. Longing becomes need and need becomes risk at the expense of possibly being wrong, but not to try is to surely fail, and failure or success becomes the difference between staying and running away.

Champagne Bubbly is a story that once again left me wanting for more, but in only the best possible way. Jennifer Cierra seems to have a gift for teasing me with her charming men at their romantic best, giving me just enough to make me fall in love with them before bringing things to a close and allowing my imagination to take over, picturing all the most wonderful possible scenarios for a long a happy future for them.

Available for purchase in all formats from:


Jennifer Cierra, JMS Books LLC

Small Gems – Singing Alone by Jennifer Cierra

“This hole in my heart is in the shape of you and no one else can fit.” – Jeanette Winterson

Cole Grayson’s life is a lie: the celebrity, the wife, the unborn child. All of these things are the pretense of perfection, the façade that reflects to the world a distorted reality and misrepresents the truth that five years earlier, Cole’s true dreams and desires went up in smoke, and his existence is now merely an inadequate substitute for living.

Five years earlier, two seventeen-year-old boys, Cole and Jake Walker, fell in love not only with each other but with a dream of pop-stardom, a dream of making it together to the big time. It was a dream cut short when Jake went missing and is presumed dead after a house fire from which Cole was told there was no hope Jake might’ve escaped.

It’s now five years later and Cole Grayson’s voice and music have brought him everything he and Jake had ever wanted—everything except the truth and the joy that ought to have come along with it, everything that ought to have belonged to Jake because these were Jake’s dreams. The wealth and fame are nothing more than a sorry substitute and pretense for the happiness that only Jake could give Cole. But sometimes the substitute for the real thing is the best you can hope for when everything else can only pale in comparison.

And sometimes finding that substitute is less coincidence than it is synchronicity because that person exists for a very specific reason, and that person is the one who will bring order from the chaos that fate sometimes sees fit to make you suffer through in order for you to recognize the miracle of the second chance you’ve been given.

Singing Alone is a story of redemption and of survival. It is a story of the strength and courage to survive in spite of the pain that living means. I loved it, plain and simple; so much so that I read it twice because the emotional pull was strong enough, and the characters and writing seductive enough that I wasn’t ready for the story to end. I’d have loved to have seen this one expanded a bit to show some of the events of the in between years, but that didn’t diminish how much I loved what I got.

Buy Singing Alone HERE.

Jennifer Cierra, JMS Books LLC

Small Gems – Melting Wax and Burning Feathers by Jennifer Cierra

“Never regret thy fall, O Icarus of the fearless flight
For the greatest tragedy of them all
Is never to feel the burning light.”
– Oscar Wilde

Jennifer Cierra’s Melting Wax and Burning Feathers is a short, beautifully written story that I found myself wishing had gone on for much longer than it did, but only because I was so invested in what would become of the characters, not because I felt cheated by the story in any way.

This is a tale of dreamers and of dreams, of unfulfilled hopes and of desires not yet realized. It’s the story of Gregory Daniels, a man who’d at one time dreamt of reaching for the stars but came crashing back to earth when he lost his partner, Carl, to the lure of the needle from which false, fluid promises flow. Now Gregory is grounded in the reality of a job he hates, though it pays the bills, and he lives with a talent he’s buried in the past, knowing he could still fly but lacks the courage to take the risk.

It is the story of Paul Ashton, an aspiring young musician freshly arrived in the City of Angels, busking for odd change and dreaming of the day his music will send him soaring toward the sun. Paul catches Gregory’s ear with his raw talent and soulful sound, inspiring both admiration and jealousy of the newly minted possibilities, all those possibilities Gregory himself couldn’t realize.

Someone falls into your life by chance, stays for a short time, but in that time reminds you that it’s never too late to dream; then he flies away to follow his own dreams—it’s a lovely way for a man to come to terms with the fact that he’s sold out and it’s now time to grab hold of the life he’s meant to live.

Melting Wax and Burning Feathers may offer only a happy-for-now ending, but it was pretty easy to imagine that the future was going to be a place where Gregory and Paul would make some sweet music together for a long time to come.

Buy Melting Wax and Burning Feathers HERE.