Giveaways, Sedonia Guillone

Guest Post and Giveaway: The Danny’s Dragon Blog Tour with Sedonia Guillone

Danny's Dragon Tour Banner

Join us in welcoming author Sedonia Guillone to The Novel Approach today, on her Danny’s Dragon blog tour. Enjoy her guest post and some of the other great things she’s sharing today, including the giveaway for which you can find details and enter by clicking on the Rafflecopter widget below.

Good luck!

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If you have read into Danny’s Dragon at all, you may have asked yourself, “What’s with all the quotes at the beginning of each chapter?”

When Danny’s Dragon first came out years ago, reader comments on the quotes ranged from enjoying them and finding them inspiring to a kind of “meh, I’m not really into philosophy,” kind of attitude. No one disliked them or complained. Perhaps people thought I was strange for including them, especially so many.

The reason I wanted them there is that Lao Tzu and the Tao Te Ching was introduced to me by my spiritual teacher and has had a strong influence on my life. I wanted to be able to share my enthusiasm for the sayings of Lao Tzu through my writing and I also was learning Tai Chi at the time. So while the Tao of sexuality that I covered in my first guest blog comes into play in Danny’s Dragon, the Tao is also intimately interwoven into the nature of Danny’s character and when I selected the poems that are at the header of each chapter, I endeavored to choose what I felt was relevant to what was happening in the story at that point.

wayof lifecovI won’t give any spoilers here if you are planning to read the book (which I certainly hope you are and enjoy!), so suffice it to say that the ways in which Taoism has influenced Danny’s character manifests in some very interesting ways that amaze his new lover, Dave, and which I hope will endear Danny to you, the readers.

Taoism is not a religion. It’s a way of life, an approach in which a person lives naturally, not forcefully, in accordance with life. Hence, the title, “The Way of Life According to Lao Tzu,” entitle by the German poet Witter Bynner who did one of the most comprehensive yet artful translations of the Tao. (The version that I read, though not often enough!)

In China, Taoism was woven into the very fabric of life and when Buddhism came into China, also helped to mold the practices of Buddhism, making it a part of one’s everyday life in all aspects. For example, Lao Tzu says, “Man at his best, like water, Serves as he goes along: Like water he seeks his own level, The common level of life, Loves living close to the earth, Living clear down in his heart, Loves kinship with his neighbors, The pick of words that tell the truth…”
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In this approach to life, everything can run smoothly because people are behaving honorably, treating each other fairly and with kindness. Greed and ambition are unnatural forces that cause peoples’ lives to become out of balance and create suffering. Indeed, it is what you could call common sense wisdom, yet grievously un-practiced in the world at large. I wanted to bring the spirit of practice to Danny’s Dragon and hope that I succeeded.

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Title: Danny’s Dragon
Author: Sedonia Guillone
Genre: Gay romance, contemporary
Length: Novel
Publisher: Wayward Ink Publishing

Synopsis

A rugged, muscular cop.

A sexy computer genius.

Secret desires.

Brought together by a crime committed on a cold dark night.

From the moment they meet, their lives can never be the same again…

Wild and rugged Dave Pearce is haunted by the demons of his past. He’s done his best to make a life for himself after the devastation of his lover’s suicide years earlier, but the trauma has left its mark on his soul.

Danny Wong is what Dave considers a “nerdy Bruce Lee.” Handsome, refined, out of his league.

But that doesn’t matter.

Dave believes himself to be dangerous for any man who would love him. So he stays back in the shadows, letting the desire he harbors for the hot grad student remain unrequited.

Danny has demons of his own. Duty-bound to his family’s goals for him, he remains shy and closeted, contenting himself with his secret fantasies about the sexy Irish cop who patrols the campus building where Danny does his graduate work.

Until one freezing winter night…

Leaving the building, fate steps in and their paths cross in a new…deeper way. Neither man can turn back. Danny and Dave must face the demons rearing their heads with full force, or lose their chance at an epic love…

Buy Links: Wayward Ink Publishing || Amazon || Amazon UK || Amazon AU || Amazon DE || ARe || Barnes & Noble

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Book trailer

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Giveaway

Prizes: $20 WIP Gift Card; ebook copy of Danny’s Dragon

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SedoniaAbout the author: Award-winning, multi-published author of erotic romance, SEDONIA GUILLONE spends her days writing deliciously naughty romances—when she’s not cuddling with the man she loves or watching kung fu and samurai films and eating chocolate.

Sedonia welcomes comments from readers.

Sedonia Guillone can be found at: Website || Facebook || Twitter || Pinterest

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A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week

Here’s a Sneak Peek at the Coming Week!

Sneak Peek

Cheers, everyone! Thanks so much for stopping by to see what we have in store for you in the coming week here at The Novel Approach. We’ve a whole slew of great guests coming to visit us, including our next author feature on the Countdown to GayRomLit 2015 tour, so sit back, relax, and wait for all the fun to start.

Here’s a rundown of what you can expect!

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Monday – Author Kim Fielding is here to help us kick off a great week today, on the Rattlesnake blog tour

And joining her are the writing duo of S.A. McAuley and SJD Peterson, with an interview on their Ruin Porn tour

Tuesday – We have another installment of DSPP’s “Genre Talk” on deck today, when Carole Cummings interviews author Rick R. Reed about the re-release of his chilling and thrilling A Demon Inside

We’ll also welcome Felice Stevens today with a guest post that’s quite personal to her, as she joins us to chat about her new book Beyond the Surface

Wednesday – Today we welcome debut author A.V. Sanders, with an exclusive excerpt from her new May/December romance short, Percolation, Poetry, and Passion

Author Charlie Cochrane will also be joining us today on the tour for her new book from Bold Strokes Books, Don’t Kiss the Vicar

ThursdaySara York drops in on us today to chat about her latest release, Bonded 2

Joining us as well, is author Sedonia Guillone to chat about her latest novel Danny’s Dragon

Friday – Finally, closing out our week we have GayRomLit attending author AC Katt with us to chat about the dreaded writer’s block

And author Jessie G. will be here as well, on her Their Reason blog tour

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That puts the cap on another great week. Until next time, happy reading!

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All Romance Ebooks, Sedonia Guillone

Go Ahead And Judge This Book By Its Gorgeous Cover

“A man that studieth revenge keeps his own wounds green.” – Francis Bacon



Sakura Genji is a flying fish, the title given to the traveling actors in seventeenth century Japan who performed both on and off the stage, playing their roles to entertain their audience, then playing a different role behind the scenes for the samurai who demanded their bodies for an entirely personal sort of pleasure.

Genji’s beauty makes him the ideal actor for the role of the Samurai Princess, as well as it serving to keep him in a constant supply of warriors willing to pay for the pleasure of using him to slake their lust. It’s not a part of the profession Genji enjoys, but when a man doesn’t own his own body, he’s left with very few options to survive.

Minamoto Daisuke is a masterless samurai with a heart full of grief and a head full of revenge after his wife was murdered by the lord of the Kai Province. For five years he’s been a ronin wandering the country, perfecting his swordsmanship and biding his time until the day he can return and kill the man who stole his wife and his life from him, for no better reasons than pride and jealousy and fear.

That day has come now, the day Daisuke has planned so long for, but fate has quite different intentions for Minamoto Daisuke. Finding Genji bathing in an isolated pool outside of his home village, Daisuke is stunned to discover that the one who has ignited a flame of passion in him is not a woman but a man; though in a place and in a time when men loving men was not uncommon, Daisuke isn’t as shocked to discover he burns for another man as he is to discover that there’s still a spark there to consume him at all after five years of burying everything else beneath his insatiable hunger for vengeance.

Genji and Daisuke’s feeling for each other are intense from the start but their relationship is not a simple one. Daisuke is a man who has dreamt of nothing but avenging his wife’s death for years, but once again fate intercedes. Genji is a man owned by a callous taskmaster who demands Genji’s submission, but again, fate steps in to redirect the course of their lives.

If you’ve ever been tempted to judge a book by its cover, go ahead and do it now because Flying Fish is every bit as lovely on the inside as it is on the out-. This is a lush romance, a love story pure and simple, woven into a land where the shoguns once ruled and where a man’s honor was sometimes his only currency.

If you’ve never read Sedonia Guillone’s work, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend starting right here. The picture she paints with her words is vivid and well worth spending the time to appreciate.

Reviewed by: Lisa

You can buy Flying Fish 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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