5 Stars, Ai Press, D.H. Starr, Genre Romance, New Adult, Reviewed by Jackie

Review: Wrestling With Passion by D.H. Starr

Title: Wrestling With Passion

Author: D.H. Starr

Publisher: Ai Press

Pages/Word Count: 247 Pages

At a Glance: Wrestling With Passion is a great continuation to Scott and Derek’s story.

Reviewed By: Jackie

Blurb: Scott and Derek’s epic passion continues into sophomore year with new challenges to face and overcome. There is one problem: How can you fight an adversary you can’t see?

Derek has always helped others, often placing himself in risky situations. Scott has lived with instability his entire life, moving from place to place, never able to set roots. Surviving the obstacles set in place by Scott’s unloving father and overcoming the threat of an unstable fellow student their freshman year, they start their second year of college believing they’ve overcome all of the barriers blocking their future happiness.

All that changes when a troubled student, Tim, enters their lives. Derek can’t help but reach out to the drug-abusing freshman. Scott can’t suppress the paralyzing fear of losing Derek, the one stable thing in his life. As they compromise their own internal needs in an effort to support each other, resentment builds and guilt festers.

Is this new obstacle, the demons that live deep inside each of them, the one that might tear them apart?

Dividers

Review: I have loved following Scott and Derek since they met in their senior year of high school. It was great watching Derek grow and come into his true personality with the love he finds in Scott. Scott, though, was a little trickier to like. But, once he finally came clean about everything in his life, he quickly became an all-time favorite character. When the boys went away to college, they faced some of the same growing pains all couples face, but they came through it stronger than when they began.

With the summer almost over, and Derek and Scott getting ready to head off to college for their sophomore year, they take a short weekend trip to have some alone time before the pressure of wrestling and classes and all the other time consuming tasks begin. During this trip, the boys share everything: their hopes and fears and, of course, plenty of smexy times. There are promises made, and both of them feel more secure together than ever.

The first day back at school brings their dorm-mate, Tim, into their lives, and it seems that is where the problems begin. After the issues Derek had their freshman year, after reaching out to someone in need, they are both leery of getting too close to this troubled young man. This situation by itself wouldn’t be a problem, but throw in Scott’s fear of losing anyone else in his life, and Derek’s feelings that Scott is trying to change him, and it leads to some troubled times for our two favorite guys.

As usual D.H. Starr takes us on a journey with Scott and Derek, both of them having to dig deep and be up front with each other about their deepest, darkest fears. Once they lay all their cards out on the table, though, it seems like they are better than ever. Wrestling With Passion is a great continuation to Scott and Derek’s story. I truly love the fact that these two haven’t just had an easy path to happiness, but have had to work hard to get where they are today. Their sexual chemistry is off the charts, and the love they feel for each other is one that seems to be able to overcome any obstacle that comes their way.

The believability of their relationship, and the fact that their love leaps off the page, is the direct result of the author’s writing ability. With every one of his books I read, I am more and more impressed with the way he brings his characters to life. His characters always seem to be able to overcome anything that comes their way, and what I appreciate most is that the obstacles they face are very believable and not contrived or over the top.

I completely adore Scott and Derek and if you haven’t read their story yet, I highly recommend getting to it right away. Begin at the beginning and love these boys just like I do. I don’t know what is next for them, but I will be first in line to witness it.

TNA_Signature_Jackie






You can buy Wrestling With Passion here:

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4 Stars, Ai Press, DH Starr, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Jackie

Review: Meant for Him by D.H. Starr

Title: Meant for Him (Meant for Each Other: Book Two)

Author: D.H. Starr

Publisher: Ai Press

Pages/Word Count: 203 Pages

Rating: 4 Stars

Blurb: Another hot guy from Greenwich Village is about to meet his match. That is, if he doesn’t mess things up…this time.

After the failure of his relationship with Jeremy, Andrew Jamieson threw himself into a routine his high powered job on Wall Street and workouts. After two years, however, he is unable to quell the longing in his heart for that special someone. Feeling hopeless, Andrew resigns himself to life of work and living alone in his pent house apartment. That is, until he’s fixed up with Peter, the local bartender in Jeremy’s favorite watering hole in the East Village. Peter is hot, sweet, sensitive and…masterful. Peter brings out a side of Andrew he never knew he had. And he can’t get enough. However, the same difficulties Andrew had with Jeremy threaten to rear up and ruin his chances with Peter. Will Andrew love Peter enough to let himself have the one guy in the world who could be meant for him? Continue reading

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Ai Press, D.H. Starr

Character Interview and Giveaway: Meant for Him by DH Starr

MFM Banner Novel Approach

Between the Sheets: Interview with Andrew and Peter

Bella: Welcome to Interviews Between the Sheets. I’m Bella Rotundo, the host. I’ve got two hot beefcakes with me tonight. Andrew Jamieson and Peter Somers. Aren’t they lovely? (Audience applauds. There are some catcalls and whistles as well). Priceless! These two hot studs have joined us to talk about their remarkable journey together. Their story is told in the book Meant For Him by DH Starr. Welcome to the show. I hope you’ve been treated well since you’ve arrived.

Andrew: Yes ma’am. Everyone’s been really sweet.

Peter: The make-up artist was a bit too sweet with Andrew. I never realized applying make-up included a body massage. Continue reading

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Deanna Wadsworth, DH Starr, Edmond Manning, Ethan Day, GayRomLit, Jamie Lynn Miller, Rhys Ford, RJ Scott, Z.A. Maxfield

GayRomLit Virtual Gift Basket Giveaway: Basket Four

1237Happy Monday, everyone, and welcome back to day four of the GRL Virtual Gift Basket Giveaways! We have more great goodies on offer for you today, so have a look at what’s up for grabs:

Rhys Ford: A $25 Gift Card to the e-tailer of the winner’s choice
DH Starr: An e-copy of Meant for Each Other
RJ Scott: An e-book of choice from her backlist
Ethan Day: An e-copy of To Catch a Fox Continue reading

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Deanna Wadsworth, DH Starr, Ethan Day, GayRomLit, Katey Hawthorne, Rhys Ford, RJ Scott, Sherrie Henry

GayRomLit Virtual Gift Basket Giveaway: Basket One

1237It’s been in the planning for weeks, and the time is finally here! With less than three weeks until the official first day of GayRomLit 2014, The Novel Approach and our team of Featured and Supporting Authors have put together Seven Virtual Gift Baskets to give away.

Helping us kick things off with Basket One are:

Rhys Ford: $25 Gift Card to the e-tailer of the winner’s choice
Sherrie Henry: An e-copy of Last of the Summer Tomatoes
RJ Scott: An e-book of choice from her backlist Continue reading

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4 Stars, D.H. Starr, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Jackie, Wilde City Press

Review: “The One I Choose” by D.H. Starr

Title: The One I Choose

Author: D.H. Starr

Publisher: Wilde City Press

Pages/Word Count: 33k Words

Rating: 4 Stars

Blurb: Cal’s been with his partner Rhys for three years, their life together was perfect—or so he thought. When Rhys’s culinary path in NYC is detoured, Cal uses his inheritance to relocate them to Boston. While using his contracting skills tirelessly to get Rhys’s restaurant operational, Cal realizes that Rhys’s happiness, their very relationship, may not be as solid as he’d once thought. Cal struggles as he realizes the many ways he’s taken Rhys for granted and needs to make some hard choices if he doesn’t want to lose the man he loves. Continue reading

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D.H. Starr, GayRomLit, Wilde City Press

Countdown to GayRomLit Character Interview and Giveaway: “The One I Choose” by D.H. Starr

Title: The One I Choose
Author: D. H. Starr
Publisher: Wilde City Press
Buy Links:
Wilde City
Amazon
(Coming Soon To:)
• ARe
• Barnes and Nobles

Blurb: Cal and Rhys have been together for three years. Having met and lived together in New York City, their lives were travelling along the same path. That is, until Rhys started working for a jealous chef and got blacklisted in the culinary world of New York City. They move to Boston, Cal using his inheritance to purchase a restaurant to give Rhys a fresh start. Cal’s biggest challenge is figuring out how to balance work and Rhys. Struggling to make the right choices, will Cal figure out how to accomplish both things without hurting the man he loves? Continue reading

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A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week, Ashe Barker, Ashlyn Kane, Bey Deckard, Cardeno C., Charlie Cochet, Cover Reveal, D.H. Starr, GayRomLit, Hayden Thorne, JC Wallace, K.A. Merikan, Keira Andrews, Morgan James, Rebecca Cohen, Rhys Ford, T.M. Smith, T.T. Kove

Here’s A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week

Hi, everyone, and welcome back to anyone who’s popped in today to see what we’ve got in store for the week ahead!

If you missed my announcement on RJ Scott’s blog about the Virtual Gift Basket Giveaways we’ve got coming up at the end of the month and into the first week of October, I’ll repeat the news here because, well, it bears repeating. We’ll be doing a giveaway of SIX baskets, courtesy of Team TNA’s GayRomLit featured and supporting authors. Each basket will include $25 in E-Gift Cards to various retailers, as well as E-books from the following participating authors: Jordan L. Hawk, Erica Pike, Zathyn Priest, DH Starr, Rhys Ford, Sophie Bonaste, Ethan Day, JK Hogan, Rafe Haze, LE Franks, Edmond Manning, Jacob Z. Flores, Jamie Lynn Miller, Lex Chase, RJ Scott, Sherrie Henry, Katey Hawthorne, Charlie Cochet, Deanna Wadsworth, and a late but very welcome addition to the giveaway, Z.A. Maxfield.

That’s a lot of titles and a lot of gift cards to give away, and I’m so excited to get the party started in just a few weeks’ time!

But for now, here’s what’s happening this week. Continue reading

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Ai Press, DH Starr

“Feed, Prey, Love” – Go Ahead, It’s Halloween…



There are such beings as vampires, some of us have evidence that they exist. – Bram Stoker


BLURB: At Whispering Hills where mortals and paranormals coexist peacefully – and romantically – love really does bite!

Talib Eldridge is a vampire who lives with guilt. 100 years ago, he accidentally turned a human to a vampire and has been afraid to get close to anyone for fear of ever losing control as he once did. When he meets Conley Berillo, his commitment to living in isolation is challenged. Immediately drawn to the human, he can’t help but fall in love.
Continue reading

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DH Starr, MLR Press

In Which D.H. Starr discusses HIV And His New Book, Perfect for Me

Expectation is the root of all heartache. – William Shakespeare

Perfect for Me is a book in which D.H. Starr goes where few authors have tread before in the realms of M/M romance, and has done so in such a way that he’s managed to take two very powerful storylines and blend them seamlessly together into one very compelling and touching read.

Sean Sullivan is the thirty-three year old principal of a high school in the Bronx, New York. Sean Sullivan is also a man who happens to be HIV-positive, a fact that doesn’t at all affect his commitment to his job or to the children he cares so very deeply for, but it does very much affect his life outside of his work, and it’s this blend of job and personal life that’s the heart of Sean’s story, when a bright and gifted student suddenly finds himself caught in the crosshairs of a violent domestic situation and is removed from his home by Child Protective Services.

Emery Benton is the man assigned to Lamar’s case, which involves a tragic set of circumstances that are frightfully and unfortunately all too common, and is an incident that lands Lamar in the hospital to recover from the beating doled out to him by his father. It’s a case that brings Emery and Sean together in an effort to save Lamar from his home life—and ultimately from himself—and is the difficult but nonetheless perfect opportunity for the two men to realize that their passion for helping Lamar also extends to an undeniable attraction to each other. That doesn’t, however, mean that there’s anything at all simple about them starting a relationship.

Since Sean’s diagnosis, he’s been left with nothing but a string of disappointments in his dating life. He’s become accustomed to the endless tide of rejections handed to him over and over again once he reveals his status, which seems to hover like the blade of a guillotine above his head just waiting to make its swift and sure cut through any sort of hope he might have that “this guy” will be different and will be willing to accept him for who he is and not for what he has. It’s a guillotine that’s become so weighted with the expectation of disappointment that when he finally does find the one man who sees beyond his status to the kind and compassionate man lurking inside, Sean very nearly throws away his one chance at happiness in an effort to protect himself from the pain of losing something he doesn’t believe he can ever have, especially not with a man who’s negative.

Perfect for Me is a story of regrets from the past that have shaped Sean’s present and, by virtue of the power they wield, will continue to alter the future of this man who wants and deserves nothing less than happiness, but who can’t seem to cut through the fears and doubts he’s used to build walls around himself and his heart. Continue, that is, unless he’s willing to stop expecting heartache and begin hoping for love. For Sean, surely the only chance he would ever come to regret is the one he wasn’t brave enough to take.

It’s a steep learning curve for Emery, not in his unconditional acceptance of Sean’s serostatus but in his ability to convince the man that this is not a reason to throw away the opportunity for a long lifetime of happiness, in fear of the unknown. It wasn’t an easy lesson for either man to learn, and illustrated how very much the continued stigma of HIV, even in the advancement of awareness and treatment options, so fully informs the lives of those afflicted and affected.

D.H. Starr has brought a serious subject to the forefront of gay fiction and opened it up for discussion, and has managed to do so while wrapping it within in a story that’s touching and thought provoking and clearly illustrates the need for positive role models in the lives of at-risk youth.

I’m so honored to have Doug here as my guest today to discuss how the idea for this story was born and finally came to fruition.

§§§§§

Perfect For Me was conceived at the first GayRomLit conference in NOLA. Kris Jacen and I were having dinner with a group of awesome people and started talked about Sean and Emery. As the evening wore on, and a few drinkie-drinks were consumed, these two characters and their story emerged.

I wrote the first half of the book soon after the retreat but work and life got really busy and I took a break from it. Last year in New Mexico while I was sitting in a hot tub by the pool, Kris and I talked about a road block I’d hit with these two guys. I was trying to figure out how to address Sean’s fears of rejection without making him seem like a whiny brat or pathetically insecure. Sean isn’t insecure. He’s very confident and talented. Once again, Kris talked me from the ledge and I was back on track.

Once I finished the book, I read through it once more with a fine-toothed comb, literally editing the manuscript line-by-line. In the end, I was satisfied that I had created two characters who were believable, reacting and responding in realistic ways to a timely and haunting issue…HIV.

I’ve read a few books which centered on the disease and most have focused on the devastation of the epidemic or the savage way the virus destroys immune systems and leads to death. But that’s not the predominant reality of HIV anymore. It still happens, but when people adhere to their medication regiments and practice safe sex, they can live long, healthy lives and can prevent the risk of transmission to others (or reinfection to themselves with a new strain). This book explores how a person, a very healthy person who happens to be HIV positive, deals emotionally with the disease. It doesn’t focus on health, but rather on the emotional toll the disease can take.

Another trend I’ve noticed in movies and books where there have been positive/negative pairings is how the HIV negative person has to work through their fears in order to see past the virus and love the person. In Perfect For Me, I’ve flipped this scenario and created a positive character who has to work through his own misgivings about dating someone negative. Sean fears his condition would put Emery at physical risk and that, God forbid, if his medication stopped working, Emery would have to suffer through Sean’s opportunistic infections, illnesses, and ultimate death. Putting Emery, a vibrant and caring man into a situation like that seemed unfathomable to Sean despite the obvious attraction between them.

Emery, on the other hand, won’t accept Sean’s misgivings. He doesn’t see the virus as a problem and values how Sean makes him feel. He’s educated and understands that, despite the minimal risk to himself, he’d be at far greater risk of living a life without the deepest kind of love without Sean.

I tend to be an author who writes character-driven stories and I’ve been accurately labeled as having an angsty style of writing. I pride myself on torturing my characters, tearing at their hearts before giving them their ultimate happiness. This book was more than my typical angstfest. It was an emotional glimpse into the lives of two men dealing with a serious, yet controllable disease.

The stigma of HIV remains strong in the community at large and within the gay community as well. The fear of being rejected based solely on one’s status is very real and painful. But it’s also a reality that more and more negative people are open to forming loving and sexual relationships despite the HIV status of their partner.

Perfect For Me presents this life-affirming trend in our culture and my hope is that reading it will help to create bridges of understanding and acceptance. It’s for all people, regardless of gender, age, race, sexuality, or whatever categorization and its message is that love transcends everything else.

Everyone deals with serious issues in their lives and those issues are as diverse and varied as the people who experience them. But one thing ties us all together and that is how love completes us, helping us to live happy lives where the “things” we deal with don’t have to rule us…we can rule them. Basically it’s a celebration of the time old saying LOVE CONQUERS ALL!

I hope you give the book a shot and more importantly, I hope you connect to the story and see yourself in it no matter what troubles you may face in your own lives.

You can buy Perfect for Me here:

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Ai Press, D.H. Starr, Sedonia Guillone

From Friends to Lovers To The Chance To Win A FREE Book! Sedonia Guillone And D.H. Starr Are Here To Make It Happen!

Hi, Sedonia and D.H., and welcome to The Novel Approach! I’m so glad to have you both here with me today. Wahoo, a two-fer! :) Before we get to the GIVE-AWAY!, let’s just start right off by having you tell us a little bit about yourselves.

Q. I’m going to jump into things and ask this question first because I absolutely adore the friends-to-lovers theme. How did the two of you come to the decision to team up and focus an entire anthology on that one particular thematic element?

Sedonia: The friends to lovers theme has always been my personal favorite as long as I can remember. I tend to write those anyway. I put that together with my desire to collaborate with Doug Starr because we make a great team and voila! :)

Doug: Sedonia snapped me up right at the start of my writing career. She saw what I was going for in my writing and pushed me to become a stronger story teller. She gets the emotional stuff I love so much and she isn’t afraid to push my thinking. When she approached me with this anthology, there was no hesitation before I said yes.

Q. How long did it take you to come up with the ideas for, then finish the stories included in the book?

Sedonia: The way it works with me is that I have an inventory in my head of stories that need to be written – I can already classify them into a genre and then fit them where needed and then write. It’s weird, I know, but for whatever reason, that’s what happens. As far as finishing the story I wrote, it took a few months to write it all down and then more time to go through and revise, have it beta read then edited and line edited. After that, I was STILL making improvements until I felt fully satisfied.

Doug: This project took quite some time and I have to thank Sedonia for her patience. Many of my online friends know how consuming my work is and outside of summer, I have to work very hard to make the time for writing. From start, when we agreed to do this anthology, to finish, the arrival of our work for others to enjoy, it took well over a year, but with major gaps of time when I put the stories aside. It was worth the wait for me though. I’m very proud of the stories and I think they tell a story everyone can relate to on some level.

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

Sedonia: Well, I’d begun writing seriously back in 1998 or so. I have also always wanted to work from home. So with the rise of the Internet and email, once I had a computer and could submit stories electronically, I was able to make writing more of a career. That, and I have the generous support in every way from my boyfriend and friends and family that enable me to write full time.

Doug: Back in 2009 I found myself unemployed like so many others. I’ve never been someone to sit around feeling sorry for myself, so I started reading…a LOT! And as I explored gay erotic fiction, I said, Hmm. My mind’s just as dirty as theirs and I’ve had a story kicking around in my head forever. Why not? So I wrote Wrestling With Desire, then Wrestling With Love, then Meant For Each Other. All three just flowed from me because I had the time to focus entirely on the writing, the characters, and the story. Let’s just say…IT WAS AWESOME!

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

Sedonia: I have always written fiction with a romantic element. However, in the beginning I didn’t know about the rise of erotic romance which is more my way of writing. I was trying to write more “literary” fiction and it wasn’t working out. My boyfriend told me to stop trying to be the next Saul Bellow and write what is more natural for me. I did and in 2004 got my first acceptance with erotic romance (M/F). My writing career mushroomed, thankfully. Then, in 2006 I got an idea for spinoff characters in one of my M/F stories, to write an M/M because the character was a gay man. Well, I wrote it and got completely hooked and addicted to writing M/M. Now, it’s my passion.

Doug: Well, as a gay male, this is certainly a topic of interest for me. See, when you’re a man-whore like me, writing m/m erotica is like therapy! You get to live out all your evil little fantasies and somehow manage to seem normal by day. Okay, if you were buying any of that shit, I totally got you! I write erotic m/m fiction because it’s where my hopes live. Every character’s flaw, stress, elation…they are part of me and how my characters live out their lives…they open possibilities of what could be out there for me. Oops, did I forget to mention I’m a naïve optimistic guy?

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

Sedonia: Hmm, that’s a tough one. I love all of them. But I would say my absolutely favorite is Kiku Fujimara from my White Tigers series. I love him because he’s complex, incredibly sexy and very human all at once.

Doug: Oh wow! You’re putting me in a Sophie’s Choice situation here. My favorite? Let’s say I relate more to the submissive characters in my stories. Not necessarily sexually submissive, but emotionally. I’m talking about the home-makers. Sure, they may make lots of money, work long hours, have their own little stubborn streaks, ultimately, their goal is to make a home and to love their man. The dominant characters are super attractive to me because they don’t run around with their emotions dripping from their pores. They man up when they have to, but when it really counts, they can bare their souls to the one man who makes it safe for them to do so. Oh hum! Now I’m in fantasy land again.

Q. Which part of a book do you think is most difficult to write: Fleshing out a compelling beginning, finding just the right balance for the middle, or coming up with the perfect ending?

Sedonia: The middle and end are the most difficult. The compelling beginning for me is the easy part. I often end up having to write middle scenes in disjointed order and sometimes even write the ending first and then fill out the middle. It depends on how easily the storyline falls into place in my mind first.

Doug: I find the endings are the toughest. The beginnings just come because I have my idea and when I’m ready to give myself about three hours to write, I just get going and the characters introduce themselves to me. The middle is my favorite part to write because I might have an idea of the story line when I begin the process, but the stories never turn out as I imagine. It’s once I’ve tortured my characters as much as I can with angst over that one character we know they should be with, figuring out how to wrap it up without seeming trite or rushed, or prolonged is difficult for me.

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

Sedonia: It’s hard to offer just one word of advice but I’ll try (and probably fail), lol. For a writer just starting out: be humble, willing to be tough on your writing and take constructive feedback, even if you weigh the advice against what you are trying to achieve. Read GOOD literature, a lot of it. The mind is very impressionable and if you read junk, your writing won’t be so good. If you read really good stuff, your mind will absorb the good stuff and it will uplift your writing. Don’t ever be a difficult, arrogant author to work with, even if your work ends up being profitable – always remember that the ability to write is a gift and that the other people who are helping you along the way are on your side.

Doug: Nothing more to be said. Bravo!

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

Sedonia: I would trade with ANY of my White Tigers for a day as long as I get all the benefits of being in that character’s place. ROFL!

Doug: That one’s easy. I’d want to be Derek. What I wouldn’t have given to have my own Scott when I was in high school.

Q. Do you have a favorite quote or mantra you live by?

Sedonia: This is what I repeat to myself every day and was given to me by my teacher: I wish to surrender my mind to Truth, my heart to love and my actions to harmlessness.

Doug: Aw. That’s great Sedonia. Mine’s: Patience is a Virgin and I Ain’t been no Virgin for a LONG time!

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

Sedonia: Oh yeah! I wish I’d written Harry Potter or Twilight for sheer monetary reasons. I wish I’d written Siddhartha (Hermann Hesse) because it’s one of the most beautiful, deepest books ever written.

Doug: Sloan Parker’s book Breathe is simply stunning work. What she managed to do in those pages was nothing short of magic.

Q. If you had the opportunity to sit down to dinner with one famous person, past or present, who would it be and why?

Sedonia: That’s easy: John Lennon because he was a beautiful, amazing awake human being.

Doug: Oh God. I have NO idea!

Q. Where’s your favorite place to write?

Sedonia: The kitchen table.

Doug: Living room couch.

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

Sedonia: My sense of humor includes a great appreciation of irreverence and earthiness. For me, farts are one of the most hysterical things ever created, lol. And my boyfriend’s sense of humor is for me, one of the most hilarious because he will say the unsayable – things that just should not be uttered from human lips – I LOVE that.

Doug: I’d say it’s sarcastic and a bit sexual. I’m very open about being gay, but I’ve also been referred to as a straight man with a gay dick…which I found oddly complimentary for some warped reason. Anyhow, I digress. Sarcastic and sexual. And the thing that makes me laugh harder than anything is the Phone Taps Elvis Duran and the Morning Show does each morning as I drive to work.

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

Sedonia: I am close to finishing my next White Tigers book, Men of Tokyo: Forbidden Cravings. I am making my own foray into the taboo of twins, which I know other M/M authors before me have done. It’s been quite the interesting writing experience. :)

Doug: Oh my GOSH do I have stuff coming. I’m one of the authors in the Lost and Found anthology, put together in support of struggling gay youth and letting them know there are adults out there who want to help them. I got to write with the brilliant and beautiful Ms. Michele Montgomery and absolutely adore what we accomplished together. She wrote from the POV of the boy and I wrote from the point of view of the boy grown up to become a man. I have a story Perfect For Him coming out once I finish it through MLR (Kris gave me a deadline of 11/30 for final revisions so hopefully the wait won’t be too long). I then plan to write Meant For Him, a story which segues from the first book Meant For Each Other. In Meant For Him, Andrew, Jeremy’s ex from the first book, gets his happily ever after. I guess that’s enough for now.

Q. Where can we find you on the internet?

Sedonia: You can find me in all the usual places: www.sedoniaguillone.com, www.sedoniaguillone.com/blog, Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/sedonia.guillone Twitter: @SedoniaGuillone and Goodreads (which I love): http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/915705.Sedonia_Guillone

Doug: You can find me at www.dhstarr.com, http://www.dhstarr.blogspot.com/, Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/doug.starr.10, Twitter @dhstarrontwtr, and Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4422750.D_H_Starr

Q. Would each of you be willing to share an excerpt from one of your stories in Friends to Loverswith us?

Sedonia: Of course! I’m a show off. Lol. Here is a tid bit from “Blind Love” in which samurai Hirata is desperate to get back his childhood friend Sho. Sho was blinded by illness and then sent as an apprentice to learn the healing arts of massage. He disappeared but Hirata promised to search for him and won’t rest until they’re back together again. However, for reasons of his own, Sho is not making it so easy…for a while.

Excerpt:

A line of rope tied to a pole stretched the distance, parallel to the path, ending at another pole at the river’s edge. Hirata assumed it to be a line to hang washing to dry since Sho stepped out beside him, undressed and slung his kimono over it. “Leave your kimono here,” he told Hirata. Hirata undressed and slung his clothing next to Sho’s on the line. But then Sho grasped the rope with one hand, Hirata’s in the other and took a step. The rope was Sho’s guide between the river and the house.

“Come.” Sho gently tugged Hirata’s hand.

In halting steps, Hirata let Sho, also clad only in his loincloth, a washrag slung over one shoulder, lead him toward the water’s edge. Inwardly he grumbled at his own weakness. Weren’t normal samurai able to sustain such an injury as he’d received without needing so many days’ rest and nursing? Did he have to be so different in every way possible?

Glancing up he watched Sho’s fingers slide along the guide rope. His testy feeling intensified. As a child, Sho had adapted to his blindness seamlessly. As an adult, he’d gained even more skills. In addition to being an accomplished healer, he was as deadly a human weapon as any samurai or ninja. Hirata couldn’t help comparing himself to Sho and to every other human being he’d ever encountered. Everyone else seemed to fit somewhere in this world except him. Until two nights ago, at least, before his horrible conversation with Sho, he’d held onto the belief that the fire of love and loyalty burning in his heart for Sho distinguished him as a samurai in the true sense. Now, that too, seemed a paltry joke.

They reached the riverbank and Sho released the guide rope whose end was tied to a pole a mere few steps from the river. “The water should be nice and warm.” With Hirata’s hand in his, Sho inched down the bank, toward a large rock protruding from the water. The surface of the rock reached from the water to the grassy slope, its edge an arm’s length from Sho’s guide pole and serving almost as a kind of makeshift platform. Ichi-san had apparently set everything up for them perfectly, Hirata thought with a touch of bitterness. No sighted people needed.

Sho took the first step into the water. “Ahh, it’s beautiful.” He tugged Hirata’s hand. “Come, let’s have a bath, then I’ll wash your hair.”

Hirata followed Sho into the river. Admittedly, the sun felt glorious on his back while the cool water enveloped him up to the waist. In his heavy mood, he didn’t want to allow these things to give him enjoyment, but he couldn’t help it. He’d never been truly able to shut the wonder of life out, even in the depths of missing Sho.

Releasing Hirata’s hand, Sho dipped under the water, remained under for several seconds then came back up under a curtain of cascading water. “Wonderful,” he said with an uncharacteristically wide smile. “Go on, Hirata, wet your hair.”

Hirata paused, caught himself staring at Sho. Sunlight made the droplets of water clinging to Sho’s skin shine. Water beaded down Sho’s chest and abdomen, making small rivulets in the furrows between his muscles. Truly he appeared some sort of god in human form, standing there, the water lapping at his waist.

Sho’s smile faded. No doubt he felt Hirata’s gaze on him. “What are you waiting for?” He smoothed one hand over his closely shorn head. “Go under.”

Wordlessly, Hirata obeyed. He went under and opened his eyes. In the clear water, he had a perfect view of Sho’s legs, of his sloping thighs and calves, full of power. Sho had worn his loincloth into the water, but Hirata still caught a glimpse of the bulge in front.

Air ran out of his lungs and he surfaced. Since he’d taken the tie out of his hair before leaving the house, his now wet hair hung heavily over his shoulders. He pushed it back, off his face, his heart beating rather hard. A memory flashed in his mind, of the kabuki actor, Aoki, in sexual congress with Sho, riding him as if astride a horse. Hirata cleared his throat, dispelling the erotic image and its painful contrast to his own experience. “You were right.”

Sho’s smile returned. “Of course I am.” He dipped the washrag into the water and stepped toward Hirata. “Neither of us was ever one to stay indoors for any length of time.”

Before Hirata could answer, Sho was right in front of him. “Now, stand still and let me wash you so you don’t keep lifting your arm.”

“Tha-thank you.”

Sho lifted the washrag and sloshed it over Hirata’s back. Up, down, around, with the same caring touch he’d used in all his ministrations. Hirata tensed, in spite of how good the cloth felt against his skin, down his arms, under his arms then…over his chest and abdomen. Down below, his musuko stirred in his loincloth. The more Sho washed him, the more it hardened, rising until it pushed uncomfortably against the cloth. The sensation made Hirata feel oddly wild, abandoned, rather than uptight, as sexual desire usually made him feel.

Sho slung the washrag over his shoulder again and shifted around so that he stood once again at Hirata’s back. “Dip into the water once more time. So I can get your scalp clean.”

Again Hirata obeyed and then rose up again. When he did so, Sho reached up. Burrowing his fingers into Hirata’s wet hair, he began to rub Hirata’s scalp vigorously in small circles.

Immediately, Hirata’s whole body relaxed. He closed his eyes and let his head loll back a bit. Sho’s touch was heavenly. And…he thought, feeling wanton again…he wanted it all over his body. Everywhere. “What about the rest of me?” he asked.

Sho’s hands stilled. “Excuse me?”

“The other parts of me, below the water. Don’t you wash them, too?”

“You don’t need to raise your arm in order to wash there,” Sho answered. “You can do that yourself.” He fell silent and resumed his work on Hirata’s scalp.

Sho’s response made that testy feeling resurge. Hirata’s misery redoubled. Like a cloud over the sun, it blocked out the pleasure of Sho’s fingers on his scalp, the sun on his skin, and the beauty of Sho’s bare physique. “If I were Aoki,” he mumbled, “you’d gladly wash my nether parts.” The words flew from him, beyond control. After all, Sho had spoken frankly and with brutal honesty the other night. Why shouldn’t he do the same now?

Sho’s hands left his hair. “Would I?”

Tension returned, gripping Hirata’s muscles with such force, his neck began to ache. “I believe so. I saw you and him with my own eyes.”

The water churned with Sho’s step back, away from Hirata. “So, because I lay with Aoki, that means I would do whatever anyone bids of me? Is that what I am? A manservant?”

“No! That’s not what I meant.” Blood rushed hot into Hirata’s face. It flowed through his veins like liquid fire. The erection in his loincloth tightened yet more.

“Then what did you mean?” Sho’s cheeks bloomed with red and his nostrils flared.

“I meant that…I meant…” Hirata couldn’t finish. The fight left him suddenly, and the burn of anger turned to the burn of shame. His own words spiraled in his mind. Unseemly things that reminded him of the way Sozaemon had spoken to him that night in his bedchamber as he forced himself onto Hirata’s struggling form. He hung his head. “I’m sorry, Sho. I’m being cruel. I didn’t mean anything. Forgive me.”

Sho was quiet a moment. “No, I’m sorry. Perhaps the way I bathed you made you feel…” He cleared his throat. “Teased.”

Doug: Sure. This is a snippet from “It Was Always You”. In this scene, Caleb, who’s been in love with his best friend Kevin for as long as he can remember, is walking away from Kevin and his new man, Jason. Devastated he’d waited too long, Caleb goes to get a drink and take a moment to recompose himself.

Just before he was swallowed by the crowd, Caleb turned back to face Kevin and Jason. Their heads were close together, both deep in conversation. When Kevin looked up and saw Caleb looking at them, he immediately placed his arm around Jason’s waist and pulled him closer.

Turning away from the happy couple, Caleb forced his way through the tightly packed room. More than one hand ran across his back or landed on his ass along with a few cat-call compliments, but Caleb was too focused on what he’d just heard and seen to gather any pleasure from the attention.

Elbowing two larger guys to the side, Caleb placed his glass on the table with greater force than he’d intended, causing the bartender to turn from the register. “Just a minute, hon.” He then turned from Caleb giving him a glorious view of a well-rounded ass pushing mercilessly at the fabric of worn-in jeans. The guy was shirtless and his back muscles undulated under smooth skin. The line running down the middle of his back was bordered by long ropes of muscle which rounded into square shoulders. All he could see of the man’s blond hair was the tight, stubbly buzz cut. As the man moved, the symmetry of his body drew Caleb’s eyes in like a magnet.

When he turned around, the bulge in the front was just as prominent as the rear view. “What’ll it be, doll?”

Caleb had to forcibly drag his eyes from the sizable bulge he’d been staring at. Unfortunately his eyes had to pass over a rippling torso until they rested on deep brown eyes. The guy’s smile revealed he was entirely aware what Caleb had been doing. Heat flooded Caleb’s cheeks, which must have amused the bartender since he reached across the bar and placed his hand on Caleb’s face for a moment. “Don’t be shy, babe. You’re a hot piece too.”

“Uh, er, thanks.” How long had it been since someone had flirted with him?

They continued to stare at each other until Brown Eyes broke the silence. “So, what can I get you?”

“Right. Sorry. Could I have a Stoli-O Madras?”

“Sure thing, sweetie.” He turned to the bar, and Caleb’s eyes fell directly back to the ass he’d been admiring moments earlier. This guy was hot. Really hot. And he was flirting with Caleb. Come on. He’s a bartender. That’s how he makes his tips.

It had been far too long since Caleb had been out in the scene, surrounded by men. Long enough he’d forgotten that he could still turn a few heads his way. What with the looks, the gropes, and the flirting he’d experienced in the past few minutes, there was no telling what lay ahead if he put himself out there. Maybe that’s exactly what he should have been doing all along. Clearly Kevin wasn’t waiting around for him.

The bartender returned with his drink. “Here you go. What’s your name? I can’t keep on calling you doll, honey or sweetie.”

This couldn’t be happening. A hot bartender wanted his name? “It’s Caleb?”

His response was greeted with a heartfelt laugh. “Are you telling or asking?” As he slid the drink across the bar, he encircled Caleb’s hand with his own, the slender yet strong fingers cool against Caleb’s hot skin. “My name’s Josh.” He pressed a slip of paper into Caleb’s hand. “And the drink’s on me.” With a wink, Josh moved to the next person, flashing his wide smile.

Taking a sip from his drink and one last look at Josh, Caleb turned from the bar and headed back toward Kevin and Jason. He glanced at the slip of paper. Josh had written his number and a request. Call me. It had been too long since someone had shown Caleb this kind of attention. Too long since he’d felt attractive and desired. For once, Caleb took notice of the eyes of club-goers turning his way. Flirtatiousness and stray hands continued to greet him as he walked, each interaction boosting his self-esteem.

With each step, he could feel his feet landing more confidently on the ground, his shoulders pulling back, his head lifting. The recognition he was receiving, something he’d given little thought to over the past few years soaked into him like water into a dry sponge. What perplexed him is how he hadn’t even known he was craving this kind of attention. How had he allowed himself to sink to a place where Kevin’s behaviors defined whether he was happy or not?

By the time he reached Kevin, he’d almost forgotten about Jason. One look at the two of them standing next to one another, leaning together, clinking their glasses and laughing and Caleb’s confidence blew out of him like a balloon deflating. No matter how many men found him attractive, no matter how many hands groped him, they were strangers. There was only one man who held any real attraction for him.

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

Sedonia: Thank you so much for having me here!
Doug: It was my pleasure. Thank you.

Now, here’s your chance to win a copy of Friends to Lovers! All you have to do is leave a comment on this post – please include your email address so we know how to reach you – and you’ll automatically be entered to win. One lucky fan will be selected by random drawing and contacted for prize delivery at the close of the contest. Good luck!

**Entry deadline is 11:59pm Pacific Time (2:59am Eastern) on Thursday, November 8, 2012.**

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Ai Press, D.H. Starr, Sedonia Guillone, William Neale

Friends to Lovers: An Anthology by D.H. Starr and Sedonia Guillone

“The hardest part about being friends, is loving you so much.” – Unknown

There are so many things I love about the theme of friendships crossing the line and toppling over into romance—the built in anxiety of the risks involved, the doubts and fears, the hesitancy to upset the balance of a relationship…the heartache of loving someone for so long and then finally finding the courage to let that person know how you feel.

The payoff when, in a single moment, a first kiss strikes the perfect chord in an extraordinary new harmony.

Sedonia Guillone and D.H. Starr have struck that chord in their new anthology Friends to Lovers, a three-story compilation that is, by turns, the perfect blend of anxiety and heartache and hope, delivered in three very different tales.

Setting the mood perfectly, right from the outset, is D.H. Starr’s It Was Always You, a contemporary romance starring Caleb Richards, a man whose endurance has been tested time and time again over the years by his best friend Kevin O’Brien, whose multitude of sexual conquests are the stuff of poor Caleb’s tortured heart.

Caleb loves Kevin with everything he is but has never found the ideal time, the right words, or the courage, for that matter, to express his feelings. It all comes down to the very valid question for which the answer is terrifying: What if?

What if Caleb pours out his heart and soul and Kevin doesn’t feel the same way. What if, in Caleb’s desire to be something more to Kevin, he causes irreparable damage to their friendship? There are too many emotional and psychological barriers in the way, and now it appears there’s another very real obstacle to overcome—an obstacle named Jason. Then the question becomes, what if I’ve waited too long?

D.H. strikes the perfect balance in this story, between anticipation and denial and longing, and then ties it all up perfectly in the end. – *5 Stars*

Blind Love by Sedonia Guillone is, simply put, gorgeous. Where It Was Always You is a twist to the gut, Blind Love is a historical drama that clinches everything into a tighter knot of anxiety, in the story of Hirata and Sho, two boys who were bound by love and friendship, but who were separated at the age of ten by destiny and circumstance.

Theirs is a story of promise and heartbreak, the legendary story of a shogun and the man he has vowed to spend his life searching for. It is a story of blindness not only of the eyes but of the heart as well, the story of an undying and unconditional love. It is a story of denial and desire and evolution and the way in which a sightless man comes to understand that the bonds of promise and conviction can’t escape the blind optimism of the one who loves him without limits.

It’s not often I would consider describing a short story as epic, but if I did, Blind Love would be the one. – *5 Stars*

William Neale

Wrapping up the collection is D.H. Starr’s Skating for Gold, a story written nearly two years ago and lovingly dedicated to the late but never forgotten author William Neale, who passed away unexpectedly in March of this year.

This is the story of Olympic Figure Skating hopeful, Devon Hayes, and the trials he faces not only in his journey to make the U.S. Figure Skating team but to choreograph his way through a love affair with his coach, Lance Dawson, and to navigate his way toward the realization that directing a portion of all the love he has to give, inward—to love himself just a little bit more—is the key that will unlock his quest for success in all things.

This story was just the right endcap for the anthology, filled with dramatic elements but at the same time sweet and romantic, and as much a story of acceptance and unconditional love between a father and son as it is a story of transformation for Devon and Lance. – *4 Stars*

Find out how you can enter to win Friends to Lovers HERE.

Available for purchase from Ai Press here:

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