4 Stars, Fairy Tale/Mythology/Folk Lore, Nikki Woolfolk, Reviewed by Lisa, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Small Gems, Word Nerd Press

Small Gems Sunday: “The Men of Summerly” by Nikki Woolfolk

“You were supposed to go to the Ball for a few hours and have some fun, not find a husband!” – Nikki Woolfolk

Title: The Men of Summerly (Sweet and Steamy Series: Book Two)

Author: Nikki Woolfolk

Publisher: Word Nerd Press

Pages/Word Count: 61 Pages

Rating: 4 Stars

Blurb: Tradition is as quaint tradition does.

So thinks British trade envoy Simon Leatherby as he settles into his temporary home in the mountains of Stubborn, West Virginia, to negotiate an equitable export trade agreement. As the guest of honor at the annual Midsummer Night’s Dream Costume Ball, Simon is charmed by the beauty of this rugged country and matchmaking townsfolk, but only business is on his mind. Continue reading

4 Stars, P.D. Singer, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Lisa, Rocky Ridge Books, Small Gems

Small Gem Sunday: P.D. Singer’s “Tail Slide”

Title: Tail Slide

Author: P.D. Singer

Publisher: Rocky Ridge Books

Pages/Word Count: 37 Pages

Rating: 4 Stars

Blurb: Fresh powder snow and running water in the Colorado back country call Lon like the moon calls the wolves. Belly-sliding to a good time on the weekends makes up for a workweek at a desk, and meeting Corey adds a whole new level of fun to snowboarding.

It’s easy to slip away for time alone in the woods without raising suspicion, but how’s Lon to entertain himself when bad snow and a worse spill force them off the mountain too early?

Never give an otter a box of Cheerios. Continue reading

All Romance Ebooks, Garrett Leigh, Self-Published, Small Gems

Garrett Leigh Takes Readers On A Sweet Stroll Through The “Gypsy Rain”

“What is a friend? A single soul dwelling in two bodies.” ― Aristotle

Seb works as a fudge maker in a coastal community of England. Dex is a wanderer who kindly returns Seb’s wallet one late night. Seb befriends Dex and they slowly become friends over the course of a summer.

This short story by Leigh is sweet, and I am always amazed when an author in a short space of 40 pages is able to make characters and their story come to life. I found myself liking both characters and was happy that they were mutually attracted to one another. The story has a great pace and readily draws the reader into the story. I was invested in the story from the get go and am hopeful that these characters reappear from this talented author. My only problem with this story is that it did leave me wanting more, but all in all it was a nice story albeit it short and well worth the time it takes to read.

Reviewed by: Bruce

You can buy Gypsy Rain here:

J.M. Snyder, JMS Books LLC, Small Gems

In Which There’s A Difference Between Magic And Illusion – The Magician’s Apprentice by J.M. Snyder

Magic is the only honest profession. A magician promises to deceive you and he does. – Karl Germain

Ah, what a tangled knot we twist when magic practiced does exist, when illusion is not a simple guise, and to mock its existence proves most unwise…

Sorry. I’m pretty sure I’d make the absolute worst poet ever. Or rapper. ::word::

At any rate, what I’m trying to get at is that Damon Taylor is a man who takes magic very seriously. He is, after all, a practitioner of the arcane art, so who better to recognize a fellow aficionado than he? Who better to discover the man, Harry Marvel, a rather run down street performer who trades sleight of hand for loose change? Who better to feel that spark of energy, that current of lust that flows between them? And who better than Damon to transform Harry Marvel into Harry Marvelous, a man of extraordinary magical talent and showmanship?

And who better to turn back the hands of time and to manipulate reality than a man who is himself the living, breathing difference between what is true magic and what is mere illusion?

Damon borrows a little bit of trouble and brings a whole lot of the wrong sort of attention to Harry’s show when he decides to take it upon himself to teach a young and very verbal skeptic in the audience a lesson, a lesson I’m sure the boy won’t soon forget.

The Magician’s Apprentice is one of those short stories that did nothing but whet my appetite for a little something more, and it left me arguing with myself (I always win, BTW) over whether I’d have liked the story even better if J.M. Snyder had offered a little more backstory for Harry and Damon. Possibly. Probably? But then again, a good magician never reveals his secrets, so maybe this is the way I’m supposed to feel—fascinated by what I could see and left mildly off balance by what I couldn’t.

You can see what I mean for yourself if you buy The Magician’s Apprentice here:

Aleksandr Voinov, L.A. Witt, Riptide Publishing, Small Gems

In Which I’m Pretty Sure My Brain Checked Out Somewhere Around The Lap Dance – Take It Off by L.A. Witt & Aleksandr Voinov

Dancing is a perpendicular expression of a horizontal desire. – George Bernard Shaw

Oooh. My. Bwaaah… Yes, that’s me being rather speechless in a very complimentary way, because there’s just not much room for words in my head at the moment. Why? Because I can’t seem to erase the mental picture that L.A. Witt and Aleksandr Voinov left there with this sexy-heavy little episode of the life and times of Tristan and Jared, two of the Market Garden rentboys who are professionals at more than simply pleasing their clients—as well as each other. It would seem they’re also fairly talented at making me want more of them. They’re really good that way.

Some people like to watch other people get down to the business of sex, while some people would rather read about it, then let their imaginations drift to all sorts of places that reality can neither attend nor compare to. If you’re one of the latter, believe me when I tell you to go have a look at Jared getting his sexy on for Tristan and Rolex this time around, then come back and tell me I’m lying about the sex and seduction business. Yes, that’s a triple dog dare. I’m forgoing etiquette and going right for the throat.

Take It Off brings two of my now favorite rentboys together with their wealthy American client again, who seems to love to watch these guys work for it, if the large sums of money he’s willing to lay down for the pleasure of their company is any indication.

I can also say that Take It Off brings together a now favorite writing duo with these two authors, who have penned these two short stories so synchronously that it’s difficult, if not impossible, to detect the seams of each one’s distinct influence. To me, that’s a pretty good indicator that the remainder of the books in the series, even though the next book won’t be focused on Tristan and Jared, will be on my list of absolute must-reads.

You can buy Take It Off here:

All Romance Ebooks, Piper Vaughn, Self-Published, Small Gems

In Which One Reading Just Wasn’t Enough – Asylum by Piper Vaughn

The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it. Resist it, and your soul grows sick with longing for the things it has forbidden to itself. – Oscar Wilde

Johnny Cairo knows a thing or two about temptation. He’s been attracted to his best friend’s little brother for a while now, after all, though he’s resisted the urge to do anything about it because risking a years’ long friendship on what’s at best an unsure thing, and at worst, a resounding disaster waiting to happen, isn’t a chance Johnny’s been willing to take.

Too bad Brennan didn’t get the memo about his brother’s best friend being off limits, because Bren damn sure isn’t going to let a little thing like that stand in the way of him getting what, or rather, who he wants. And once Brennan sets his sights on Johnny, well, there’s nowhere the man can try and hide but behind his own fears. But Brennan isn’t known as one of Fear Asylum’s best Infiltrators for nothing.

Asylum is Johnny’s story, the story of his family legacy—a traveling haunted house called Fear Asylum, though this isn’t your average, small-time, one man sideshow operation. No, they don’t call Johnny the Scaremaster for nothing. This is a full-on production, and it showcases the man’s reputation and talent for putting the fear of the things that go bump in the night into its patrons. It’s also, in a lovely turn of the tables, a story that shows how sometimes those nighttime bumps can put a fear like no other into the heart of a man with a reputation for being the master of fright.

Asylum is a full-on erotic and romantic—it’s sexmantic, even—short story that illustrates how a man learns very quickly that just because his head says there are no-strings-attached it doesn’t mean his heart is bound to listen, especially when he’s faced with the possibility of losing the one to whom he realizes he wants nothing more than to be tied.

I’ve read this story more than once, and really, really would love a sequel. You can use that as an indicator of how much I loved it.

Buy Asylum here:

JL Merrow, JMS Books LLC, Small Gems

Small Gems – Light the Fire by JL Merrow

Happiness is a warm puppy. – Charles M. Schulz

Though for Kurt, that puppy is about as welcome as a raging case of jock itch when Matt, an overly enthusiastic guy at the gym—who can’t seem to take the hint that Kurt is intensely(!) uninterested in the attention—comes along and makes Kurt begin to think thoughts he hadn’t allowed himself to think in even his wildest thoughts in a very long time.

Light the Fire is the seamless combination of a touching struggle to survive the loss of a lover, and the charming story of a man whose unadulterated and infectious joy becomes a light that draws Kurt out of the darkness of his grief. It’s the story of a man who learns that strength isn’t always measured by the bulk of the physique but in the intent of the heart and the size of the will. It is a story that reawakens the love of home and hearth, and I smiled a smile of deep affection for it. I may have sighed a little too.

In the usual (for me) JL Merrow fashion, Light the Fire left me wishing for much, much more of the story. Matt was delightful, Kurt was in need, and Matt quickly became the sun Kurt needed to rekindle a love for life. This one is quite short but I thought well worth the read.

Buy Light the Fire here:

All Romance Ebooks, Casey K. Cox, Small Gems

Small Gems – Be My Boy – A Free Story by Casey K. Cox

Those who unlock your compassion are those to whom you’ve been assigned.”
― Mike Murdock

Casey K. Cox’s FREE short story, Be My Boy, isn’t at all what I was expecting it would be. For one thing, with the Master/Slave dynamic as the entire premise of the book, I was expecting quite a lot of BDSM, which is most likely owed entirely to my misunderstanding of the context of that type of relationship. In fact, there was none whatsoever. And I guess, going hand-in-hand with the BDSM, I was also expecting some pretty heavy erotica, which, again, was not the case.

In the end, this is what Be My Boy boiled down to for me; this story has all the makings of a deeply romantic relationship and of an urgent bond that grows between a man who is emotionally crippled by the death of his Master, and the young man who comes along to redeem this broken soul. What I’d have loved is if there’d been just a bit more to it, but there was something so gentle and sentimental about the relationship between Owen and Mitchell that I’m eager to forgive that it left me with some questions I’ll just have to guess at myself. Honestly, they’re more a curiosity than they are relevant, anyway.

There was a bittersweet sense of yearning to Owen’s lost and tattered life, a life he’d spent in servitude to Cole for more than twenty years, a life that was cruelly snatched from him not only by Cole’s death but by the greed and spite of a woman who couldn’t bear to see Owen get what she believed herself to be entitled to. Owen was a man who was ripe to be taken advantage of, and he very much was until Mitchell took him home and made Owen his own.

I loved the twist on the Dom/sub relationship in this story, Owen being the older man and Mitchell being the “boy”, though only in the chronological sense. And although there’s a sense of tentativeness involved on Mitchell’s part, being rather new to his role as a Dom, there is no doubt at all which man is the Master and which is the Slave within this pact, and for lack of a more original conclusion, I can only say that I’d love to see more of these two, mostly to get a better feel for Mitchell and his family ties, but also to see more of the growth between him and Owen.

Though the story begins with Owen in a perfectly horrid situation, of which I don’t want to give too much away, I’d definitely say this story is worth reading.

You can download it here:

Aleksandr Voinov, L.A. Witt, Riptide Publishing, Small Gems

Small Gems – Quid Pro Quo by L.A. Witt and Aleksandr Voinov

Please, God, don’t let me be reading too much into this. – L.A. Witt and Aleksandr Voinov

I probably am. Reading too much into this, that is. How can I not, though, when there’s so very much there to want? Sometimes I wish there was a magicky button I could push to bend authors to my will, to make them write faster and not tease me with these little morsels of salacious goodness and then make me wait for interminable periods of time for more. But since there isn’t, I guess I’ll just have to take what I can get and shut up about it.

Quid Pro Quo is a lot of sex in a little package and it may well be some of the hottest erotica I’ve ever read. It’s definitely some of the hottest erotica I’ve read so far this year, hands down. This is the first short set in the Market Garden universe, where the rentboys cater to the moneyed clientele and the question arises, at least in this installment, of who really holds all the power in this provocative exchange: Tristan, the prostitute, or the nameless john who is an eager and willing pawn in this bid for control over Jared’s orgasm.

It’s not very often that I’ve considered recommending a book for a single sex scene alone, but for this one I might make an exception. L.A. Witt and Aleksandr Voinov have created the perfect atmosphere of want and need, of dominance and submission, and of temptation and voyeurism and a hunger that may only ever be able to be satisfied within the framework of the job.

All I know is that I’m anxious for the next installment. I don’t know whether it will continue with more Tristan and Jared, or if there’ll be other Market Garden boys introduced. Whichever direction these authors decide to go with the series, though, I’ll definitely be along for the ride.

Buy Quid Pro Quo here:

Dreamspinner Press, Small Gems

Small Gems – We’re Both Straight, Right? by Jamie Fessenden

Friendship is love minus sex and plus reason. Love is friendship plus sex and minus reason. – Mason Cooley

Money makes the world go around. Or at least that’s how the song goes. But as poor, struggling college students, money is something Zack and Larry aren’t intimately acquainted with, though Larry’s got a get-rich-quick scheme that’ll earn him some cold, hard cash. And all he has to do to rake it in is be gay-for-pay in front of a camera. And all Zack has to do is agree to be Larry’s partner-in-porn. But they’re both straight, right? Of course they are.

Until gay-for-pay turns into gay-for-you in this best-friend-turned-lovers story of two guys who’ve known each other since junior high but didn’t really know each other, or rather didn’t know they could know each other any better until they started rehearsing for their roles as straight guys having sex together in the porn biz. Well, Larry’s completely comfortable letting his freak flag fly. Zack, not so much because, seriously, how’s a guy supposed to reconcile his lifelong heterosexuality when he’s gobsmacked by his lust for the guy he’d never before seen as anything more than a friend? But then he truly sees Larry, not with his eyes—or not only with his eyes, at least—but with is heart and with his hands, and suddenly Larry is the only one Zack sees.

It wasn’t an easy-breezy change of course for this friendship, far from it with all the anxiety and all the questioning Zack does, but it was a sweet and erotic little romp that was a quick and sexy and fun read.

Buy We’re Both Straight, Right? here:

Dreamspinner Press, JL Merrow, Small Gems

Small Gems – Dulce et Decorum Est – JL Merrow-thon Book Five

Healing is impossible in loneliness. – Wendell Berry

George Johnson is a man whose soul bears a heavy burden, weighted by the yoke of shame and self-recrimination, so deeply scarred by an event in his youth that even years later its aftermath leaves George running frightened from the man he once was, the man he was born as, a man who no longer exists. A man who was branded a coward.

Meeting Matthew Connaught was synchronicity and irony and destiny all rolled up into a single monumental turning-point for George. Matthew is a veteran of World War I, and a part of him was left behind on the battlefield as a permanent reminder of his sacrifice, but his scars don’t serve only as proof of how much Matthew gave. They serve as proof of how much he has survived.

Dulce et Decorum Est is indeed a terribly sweet and touching historical romance that first appeared in the 2010 Dreamspinner Advent Anthology Naughty or Nice. It is a story of a forbidden love and of a family’s affirmation, and is a story of courage, even when that courage is born in fear. It is a story of truth and of the wisdom in knowing when to run away and when to stand still and just be with the one who makes you feel whole again. Matthew was the light in George’s darkness, and I just couldn’t help but to embrace them.

Buy Dulce et Decorum Est here:

Amber Allure, JL Merrow, Small Gems

Small Gems – Permanently Legless – Book Two In My JL Merrow-thon

The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all. – Meg Cabot

You know how sometimes you read a short story and the first thing you wish, when it ends, is that it’d been much, much longer? Yeah, me too. Odd, then, that finishing Permanently Legless didn’t leave me feeling that way, when, if there’s a story that ought to have made me feel that way, this one would be it. Not that I wouldn’t have taken more, but here’s the thing: there was so much there in so few words that it surely must mean the words JL Merrow used to tell the story couldn’t have been in a more perfect order.

It really doesn’t take much in the way of imagination for me to love who Chris and Josh are. Chris is a veteran who was disabled in the war in Afghanistan, and though the Taliban rearranged his life in ways he never would have asked for, Chris managed to make a new life around the miracle of his having survived at all. Josh is the young man Chris had a one-off with just before he’d shipped out on his tour of duty with little more than a name, phone number, and memories of a few hours spent together. Josh is the man who never forgot those hours that changed both of the men in profound ways, time that has remained a connection between them, the past, and the present.

Theirs is a story of throwing caution to the wind, of taking a leap of faith and finding that to love is the ultimate act of courage. In case you’re still wondering how much I loved this story… I’ve already read it three times. That’s how much.

Buy Permanently Legless here:

Jeff Adams, JMS Books LLC, Small Gems

Small Gems – Adventures of Jake #1 by Jeff Adams

There is no certainty; there is only adventure. – Roberto Assagioli

There was only one thing I wanted to know when I finished reading about Jake’s adventure with Michael Hammond in this teasing little morsel of a story: when is the next adventure coming?

Jake is a bit of an adorable geek who works at a park and dresses as a Fire Force character in the E-Force attraction. He also works at a comic book store, but that’s not where he first met Michael. No, Michael has been an unattainable fantasy ever since they were in Freshman Lit together. Or at least he thought Michael was out of his league until Michael comes into the store looking for the perfect gift for his little brother’s birthday.

Sometimes serendipity works a little magic into life and gives you all the chances you need to make an adventure out of something entirely unexpected. Sometimes that adventure leads you to someone who thinks you’re pretty amazing just the way you are. That’s the way it worked for Jake and Michael, and it worked for me too.

Jake reminded me just a wee bit of Michael Novotny of Queer as Folk fame, which made me love him all the more, and just like Michael once said, ”The thing you need to know is it’s all about sex,” which this story is, so if that’s not your cup of tea, you might not enjoy this one as much as I did.

I thought it was some sexy fun fiction, and I’ll be watching for Jake’s continuing adventures.

Buy Adventures of Jake #1 here:

Allen Mack, JMS Books LLC, Small Gems

Small Christmas Gems – Just Call Me Kris by Allen Mack

At Christmas play and make good cheer, for Christmas comes but once a year. – Thomas Tusser

Oh my, but did Christmastime just get a whole lot naughtier? And did the month of December just get a whole lot hotter? I think it did for Mike and Karl, and for me too, thanks to a very special delivery from a certain very hunky man dressed in red velvet and white fur. You know, if Kris Kringle were anything at all like the Kris in Just Call Me Kris, I’m thinking every day would be Christmas, and the playing and the making of good cheer would just be a given because everyone would be naked. Everybody make with the merry!

This short story is a hot little morsel of holiday fun, when Kris comes calling with a bag full of adult toys for both the good doctor boys, and then shows them exactly how much more fun can be had when three join in on the merriment. It’s just the right prescription to kindle a flame under Mike and Karl and get the home fires burning for Christmas.

Just Call Me Kris is just plain old sexy fun. Like Kris says, ”You never know what you might enjoy until you try it.”

I tried this one and can tell you I enjoyed it very much.

Buy Just Call Me Kris here:

Charlie Cochet, Dreamspinner Press, Small Gems

Small Christmas Gems – Mending Noel by Charlie Cochet

We’re all like broken toys in the repair shop, waiting for that one person to come along and fix us. – Unknown

Tim has no idea why Noel hates him. It didn’t start out that way, but the kinder Tim was to Noel, the grinchier Noel was to Tim, until Tim was going out of his way to avoid Noel as much as he could. But when the man who apparently hates you is also your supervisor and is bigger than you, and you’re just an underling at the Abominable Administrative Department who’ll never be more because you’re only average, nothing special, and at two-hundred-forty-five years old, you have no calling, and the only reason you have your job is a little bit of nepotism… Well, there’s not much that elf can do to win Noel over, is there? Unless he uses the magic of kindness and compassion to piece together the broken parts and make them not hurt quite so much anymore.

But, oh, there’s danger afoot in North Pole City; someone’s trying to kill Tim and Noel, but Rudy, the squadron leader of Kringle’s flyboys, is there to save the day along with Jack Frost. And isn’t there a story there? Why yes, yes there is. And you’ll just have to read to find out.

Sugar and spice and everything nice, that’s what Mending Noel is made of, and it’s just as sweet as can be and purely fun, because Charlie Cochet has taken some favorite holiday images and themes and characters and woven them into a lovely and lively little tale about a couple of elves who mix like candy canes and coal lumps, but end up going together like hot cocoa and marshmallows and a cuddle in front of the fire.

You can buy Mending Noel here:

Celia Kyle, Small Gems, Summerhouse Publishing

Small Gems – Joy & Pain by Celia Kyle

It is always by way of pain one arrives at pleasure. – Donatien Alphonse François, Marquis de Sade

A little light BDSM works its way into Joy & Pain, a Daddy/sub story of a twenty-two year old ex-ballet dancer, Tevin, who makes his living as a stripper, seducing an audience of men for tips. Zeke is the man, nearly twice Tevin’s age, who claims the boy as his own.

I have such a love/not love relationship with short fiction; I love the instant payoff, but sometimes it’s hard for me to take the stories for what they are and not want much more from them than the author intends for me to have. This one has made me go back and forth quite a bit over whether I really liked it or whether I’m really disappointed that I didn’t get to learn more about Tev and Zeke, because what was there did nothing more than make me want more of them; I liked them that much.

Taken as it is, Joy & Pain is an erotic vignette that paints a picture of a Dom who sees the man he is determined to have, and sets about making that a reality. It’s also the story of a young man who wants to sub, who wants that Daddy play, but also is determined to establish his own rules because he’s willing to submit and because he loves that play, but it also means he has to make Zeke understand that he, Tev, has some limits on how and when and what he’s willing to submit to. It works and works well if you’re willing to go into the story knowing that the start of a brand new relationship that has no backstory happens, if my calculations are right, in less than 40 pages. Not to mention the fact that I’d also have loved to know exactly what happened that forced Tev to give up ballet.

What I got in these four short chapters, I liked, and I’ve got to say that for a FREE story, one I happened across entirely by accident, I’m pretty glad I gave it a chance.

You can download Joy & Pain here:

Small Gems, Tam Ames, Torquere Press

Small Gems – The Bigger They Are, The Harder They Fall by Tam Ames

Wear your heart on your skin in this life. – Sylvia Plath

God, I’m a sucker for hot men with tattooed flesh. And stories about hot men with tattooed flesh make my mind wander all over the muscular landscapes of smooth, inked skin. And yes, that makes me shallow, but it also makes me happy, so there.

And apparently I’m not the only one who shares an affinity for muscular tattooed men. Spence Brownley does too, and this is his story; well, his and Vander Jarvis’s story, actually—The Bigger They Are, The Harder They Fall, a sweet and sexy little quickie about a strong and confident older man whose life is illustrated in artful ways on his body, and the younger and ever-so-adorkable guy who thinks maybe a tattoo would be a little bit of all right…if only he didn’t faint dead away at the sight of needles and blood.

It’s the story of their unplanned meeting in a tattoo parlor, their unlikely attraction to each other, and their undeniable connection that the reader doesn’t get to see develop beyond the first date, which is a bit of a bummer since I’d have loved to spend more time with them, but we do get a six months later that’s almost as good, or at least good enough, because we get to see them wear their hearts on their sleeves, or on their skin, whichever, and you can’t help but feel okay about their happy beginning.

Spence and Vander are two pretty loveable guys who, along with Tam Ames humor and warmth, made this one a pretty fun little read, though I’d have loved more than just a sip.

Buy The Bigger They Are, The Harder They Fall here:

Benji Bright, JMS Books LLC, Small Gems

Small Gems – The Chevalier Series by Benji Bright

“The fruit of my tree of knowledge is plucked, and it is this: adventures are to the adventurous.” – Benjamin Disraeli

So if you’re feeling particularly adventuresome, Benji Bright is three books into an eight book mini-serial that might be right up your adventure/fantasy alley.
Continue reading

JMS Books LLC, Paul Alan Fahey, Small Gems

Two Small Gems From Paul Alan Fahey

“I’m not different for the sake of being different, only for the desperate sake of being myself.” – Vivian Stanshall

Paul Alan Fahey offers two very different LGBT short stories in Boys Will Be Boys and The View from 16 Podwale Street, but there’s one thing they both have very much in common: they are both stories about what it means to be labeled “different” within a social order that won’t settle for anything less than uniformity and conformity.

The View from 16 Podwale Street is a story set against the backdrop of pre-World War II Poland, just as it’s beginning to appear imminent that Germany and her allies will become the aggressors in Hitler’s bid to dominate Europe. It’s the story of Elwira Malinowska and her companion/lover Raz Zielinska, and the dangers that may face the two women in the coming months and years, as with hindsight as our guide, the reader knows full well the unfathomable horrors suffered by the men, women, and children who didn’t fit into the basic scheme of the Nazi ideal.

This story is very much about the looming danger, but is also very much about how difficult it was for Elwira to accept that danger and all that it could mean for her country. It’s a story of the taboo of two women who are a loving and committed couple, but is also the story of Elwira’s affliction and what it might mean to her if Germany succeeds in its campaign to cleanse the world of people who were born imperfect in its estimation. It is a subdued and subtle story about fraud and fraudulent friendships and the way the tides turned neighbor against neighbor, friend against friend. And the way in which fate has a way of balancing those betrayals.

But perhaps best of all, it is a story that has a happy ending for Elwira and Raz, set in a time when there were no happy endings for many millions of people.

Buy The View from 16 Podwale Street here:

Boys Will Be Boys—especially teenage boys deep in the throes of discovering who they are and what they want—is the story of Phillip Noland, a freshman at St. Sebastian’s Catholic School for boys, a place where the rules don’t seem designed to help the students avoid Hell as much as they’re designed to prepare them for an inevitable trip there.

St. Sebastian’s, ca. 1958, was a place and a time about which, many decades later, Phillip can reminisce. It was a place where rules were specific (“At all times, keep your hands out of your pockets,” because pocket hockey is apparently a one-way road to perdition.), and the consequences of disregarding the rules were done at the students’ peril. It was also a place where Phillip was branded an outcast and bullied for being queer. It was a place where his first kiss happened with a boy, a boy known to the reader only as Smith, and a Jewish boy, no less. It was a place where a memory was born and forever imprinted on Phillip’s heart as something special, something much better to hold on to than all the others, because it was a memory of unconditional friendship and the memory of a common bond in a place Phillip knew he didn’t belong.

Boys Will Be Boys is a story of faith versus free will and, in some ways, at least from my perspective, is also a brief glimpse into the conflict between the literal interpretation of The Word and the truth of human nature and how Phillip took charge of his own choices.

If you like character driven and introspective stories that often read more like personal memoirs than short fiction, Paul Alan Fahey delivers it in both of these pieces.

Buy Boys Will Be Boys here:

About The Author: Paul Alan Fahey (1944-) created and edited Mindprints, an international literary journal for writers and artists with disabilities, at Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria, California. He retired in 2008. During his tenure, Mindprints made Writers Digest’s “Top 30 Short Story Markets” list for two consecutive years. His writing has appeared in Byline, Palo Alto Review, Long Story Short, African American Review, The MacGuffin, Thema, Gertrude, Kaleidoscope, and in several other literary journals and anthologies like A Cup of Comfort, Somewhere in Crime, My Mom is My Hero, and Writing on Walls. His monthly online column at Coffeehouse For Writers focused on writing advice.

Paul is a six-time winner of the Lillian Dean Writing Award for short stories and nonfiction at the California Central Coast Writer’s Conference. He is the author of THE VIEW FROM 16 PODWALE STREET, BOYS WILL BE BOYS, WHEN THE RIGHT ONE COMES ALONG, BOMBER’S MOON, and the soon to be released anthology of personal essays, THE OTHER MAN, from JMS BOOKS.


Clare London, J.M. Snyder, JMS Books LLC, Small Gems

Small Gems – It’s Never Too Late For A Little Horror From J.M. Snyder & Clare London

Yes, another October has passed, which means the time to have read these two short horror stories has passed too, so it’s a good thing I’m always in the mood for a good mind-screw of the twisted and ghoulish variety, no matter the time of year. Even though they’re not very long on word count, these two tales are still the sort that made my hair stand on end and sent me around the house, turning on all the lights so even the deepest, darkest shadows couldn’t hide all those sinister things that only seem to go bump when you’re home alone.

J.M. Snyder’s Infected Heart is the story of a college laboratory experiment gone wrong. It’s the story of a brilliant young man, Rich Murdoch, whose grandiose scheme to find the secret to immortality ends up becoming a cautionary tale about the dangers of playing God and attempting to outmaneuver Mother Nature.

Trust me when I say there’s absolutely nothing natural or godly about what happens when the serum he develops makes its way into the human population. It’s a devastating and terrifying blow to mankind—and to his lover, Donnie, an unintentional casualty of genius gone horribly wrong.

It’s a race against time for Rich, as he culls victims from the ever-dwindling herd of uninfected, who become unwitting sacrifices to Rich’s higher purpose as he works to find a cure for the human holocaust he’s wrought. But this isn’t a story of good versus evil; there is no evil here, only a tragic mistake that he’s working diligently to put an end to.

Infected Heart was creepy to me in the same way books like The Stand and I Am Legend messed with my head. At the risk of sounding like a conspiracy theorist, who really knows what freakish and nightmarish viruses might be lurking in test tubes around the world, just waiting for a single slip-up to set them free on the unsuspecting masses? That’s the truly scary part of it all.

What made this one even more twisted was the way J.M. Snyder chose to end it. If there was any evil to be found in this story, I’d say that’d pretty much be it.

Available in all e-formats here:

Clare London’s Perfection was just frightening, in an “it rubs the lotion on its skin, I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti” kind of way. ::shivers:: No, there’s no cannibalism here, but if it’s murder you’re looking for, with a side of miscreation to up the creep factor, then this is the story for you. It’s a psychological spine-chiller about obsession and possession, and a man with a broken mind and unhinged ideas about love and commitment.

This is the story of James, a man who doesn’t do romantic entanglements. He’s more a co-workers with benefits kind of guy, who wants nothing to do with Vic Ellison on a permanent basis. Vic’s the kind of guy you see and think he’s basically harmless but you don’t necessarily want to socialize with him outside of work. In fact, he’s so unremarkable as to be nearly forgettable—unless you’re looking for a quick screw, like James, then Vic is perfectly serviceable. Until he becomes a bit too close and clingy for James’ liking. Then Vic just disappears, and James realizes, much to his surprise, that he misses him. Oh James…

But like the proverbial bad penny, Vic returns with a new position in the company, looking to take up where he and James left off. But Vic is…different too: more confident, more polished, fitter and a lot less forgettable looking than he was before he went missing. He’s, for lack of a better term, put together in a way he never was before. Unfortunately for James, he’s about to find out how very put together Vic truly is.

In a world that’s become increasingly narcissistic and appearance-centric, Perfection becomes a cautionary tale about the obsession with the façade while overlooking all those little cues that should warn you to be very careful what you wish for. James finds out the hard way not to play fast and loose with the quiet ones. Especially if you’re not prepared to throw your whole self into it.

There’s no happy ending here. Except, perhaps, for Vic. He does end up stealing James’ heart in the end, after all.

Available in all formats 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 www.jennifercierra.weebly.com, 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 (https://twitter.com/CierraJennifer) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/JenniferCierra). 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:


Elyan Smith, Riptide Publishing, Small Gems

Small Gems – Portside by Elyan Smith

“Hope is a waking dream.” – Aristotle

I knew as soon as I read Elyan Smith’s short story Zones in the UK MAT anthology Lashings of Sauce that he was an author whose work I wanted to know much better. Zones is the touching story of a transgender woman who is trying desperately to find her place in the world, to find her place within herself, and to find her place within her partner’s family. This story was so moving and memorable to me not only because of the subject but also because of the author’s writing; it is dense with emotion and atmosphere and sometimes felt cloying, like a heart-wrenching yet hopeful dream.

I can now honestly say that this wasn’t a fluke, because Portside, Elyan Smith’s debut short story, is equally and beautifully oppressive, which is a huge oxymoron but true nonetheless. This is a story set in a bleak town where Iwan lives a bleak life in a bleak house where anything resembling hope is quashed by the harsh economic times and lack of opportunities for him, for his best friend Lyn, for his family. His life is a place where cigarettes and alcohol are comfort in their constancy, where picture postcards of faraway places are the one dimensional dreams of everything his life isn’t, where the depthless face of the television screen pays mocking tribute to the austerity of his life.

Portside is in no way a romance. It is pure literary fiction and it explores the life of a young man who wants for everything but doesn’t dare want for much. He is a young man trying to fit in his own skin, even though that skin doesn’t quite fit who he is. He is a young man who has dared to hope, and in that hope he might find a way to connect with the one person about whom he dreams of something more—a portside boy, Jonah—who is the golden prize at the end of the monochromatic rainbow.

This was a difficult story for me to relate to on some levels, mostly because I couldn’t be looking at it from further outside Iwan’s perspective, but that’s really what made me try all the harder to empathize with him and his longing for something more than what he had, and in the end, it worked with a certain sort of somber beauty.

Buy Portside HERE.

All Romance Ebooks, Missy Welsh, Small Gems

Small Gems – Oscar’s Soul by Missy Welsh

“I love him to hell and back and heaven and back…” – Sylvia Plath

Oscar’s father sold his first born’s soul to Hell in exchange for unlimited worldly success, which shows a spectacularly selfish and covetous bent on his father’s part; either that or a singularly limited sense of foresight and consequences. Probably all of the above.

As is always the case when humans make bargains with immortals, it’s the mortals who come out on the short end of the deal, and the time comes that the toll must be collected, the forfeit made, whether the human is ready or not to pay. The Devil reliably comes to collect his due—his due being Oscar himself—and he is carried to the Underworld, though Oscar’s hellish fate has not yet been sealed in fire and brimstone. Lucifer Morningstar has far different plans for the young man, surprising plans, and those plans just go to show that sometimes even when you lose, you win.

I love the stories of the fallen angels, although in Oscar’s Soul, Missy Welsh gives a hugely original twist to the parable of Satan, who is not his own agent, but His own agent, maintaining the balance between Heaven and Hell, even as he shows himself as decidedly human in all his immortal glory. But the biggest twist of all? The biggest?? Well, you’ll have to read for yourself to discover that one. All I’m going to say is that it’s utterly divine, divine in such an utterly surprising way that it alone was worthy of a five star rating.

This is a sweet and sexy story of the revolution and evolution of a love to end all loves, a literal to hell and back, to heaven and back kind of romance, one without end.

Buy Oscar’s Soul HERE.