I’ll be doing a cover reveal and excerpt in my first ever Eli Easton newsletter on May 5. Sign up to get the goods!
I’ll be doing a cover reveal and excerpt in my first ever Eli Easton newsletter on May 5. Sign up to get the goods!
Thanks to RJ Scott for inviting me to be part of her “The Five Senses Blog Tour” for autism. For this stop, I’ve got the first excerpt from “How to Wish Upon a Star”, which is book #3 in the Howl at the Moon series. It features the sense of smell.
Being Hypersensitive to taste, autistic people may find some flavours and foods too strong and overpowering because of very sensitive taste buds, and this may mean they have a restricted diet. Certain textures may cause discomfort. Some people will only eat smooth foods like mashed potatoes or ice-cream.
“How to Wish Upon a Star” – first excerpt
Above: Milo, the hospice dog, is one of the MC’s in “How to Wish Upon a Star”
From chapter 2 “Finding Milo”:
The hospice hallways had shiny linoleum floors and soothing gray-blue walls with paintings of sunsets and flowers. The decor was meant to be soothing, Lily thought, but it bored her senseless. They should have photos of bunnies and other chaseable creatures if they truly wanted to take people’s mind off their troubles. She passed a nursing station and then rooms 200 and 201.
An odd scent tickled her nose and she stopped to sniff the air, trying to figure out what it was. There were a lot of smells in the hospice wing, most them unpleasant. She could smell a heavy lemon cleaner, salt water, the bitter tang of antibiotics, the copper of blood, hints of urine and feces, hand lotion, and the unhappy smell of sickness. There was a trace of the perfume one of the nurses wore and—
Dog. She smelled a dog. A male dog.
Lily looked around and thought she saw a furry face looking around the edge of the counter at the nursing station. But it was only there for a second. It had to be her imagination, with that smell fresh in her nose. There wouldn’t be a dog at the nursing station! Maybe the dog she smelled in the hallway had been brought in by a relative to visit a sick patient?
Shaking her head, Lily walked on, still looking for room 207. When she arrived, Sophie’s son Dillon was coming out the door. He looked exhausted.
“Lily?” he said with surprise.
“Oh, Dillon!” Lily wrapped him in a hug, and he rested against her gratefully. Dillon had grown up in Mad Creek and was good friends with Lonnie. He was a nice man, even if he was fully human.
When she pulled back, Dillon’s eyes were wet. “It’s nice of you to come. I’m afraid she’s not conscious.”
“That’s all right. Why don’t you go get some coffee while I visit with her for a bit?”
“I need to go into the office for a few hours, actually. There are nurses around so… feel free to stay as long as you like.”
“Thanks again for coming. Mom would have loved to see you.”
Dillon left and Lily steeled herself and went into room 207. Her skin prickled with unease, the hair on her arms and neck standing up. But it was just Sophie in the room, after all. She looked small in the bed, a shrunken version of herself, her strong features more hawk-like than ever. She was deeply asleep, her mouth slack.
Lily pulled a visitor’s chair close to the bed and sat down. She took Sophie’s hand, ignoring the way it felt like dry paper. She proceeded to tell Sophie all the latest gossip from Mad Creek. Lily knew a lot of gossip.
The morning slipped by. Sophie never opened her eyes, but a few times she squeezed Lily’s hand. Lily thought Sophie was truly interested in hearing all about Lance and Tim and [redacted for spoilers!]. Well, who wouldn’t be interested! She also told Sophie about little Jason Kunik, who always was an odd duck but bright as a whip, moving back to town to do research on the quickened. He was now a doctor and everything! Several times, Lily could have sworn someone was at the partially-opened door to the hall. But every time she turned around, there was no one there.
Lily had just about run out of things to say when a nurse came in.
“Hey there!” the nurse greeted Lily. She was a big lady with a wide smile and colorful balloons on her aqua nurse’s top. Her badge said ‘Racine’. “Now, don’t mind me! I just need to check a few things. I’m sure Sophie appreciates you coming to see her. Ain’t that right, Sophie?”
Lily couldn’t resist a new person to talk to. She learned that Racine had worked hospice for six years, had two grown children, and was looking forward to an upcoming cruise for her and her husband’s anniversary. She also seemed to be genuinely fond of Sophie.
“I can tell she was a wonderful woman, and she accomplished a lot. You can always tell by who comes to see them in the end, and how their family member’s treat ’em. You know, we all get here sooner or later. Best to live so you have no regrets.”
“She was smart and honest and a loyal friend. She taught all my kids in high school,” Lily said, choking up again.
Lily was about to tell Racine more about Sophie, but her ears heard the tiny release of air that came from the door opening a bit more. She turned to see a long, furry brown face looking at her from around the door. Oh, you sneaky thing. It’s been you all this time, has it? This time, the dog didn’t run away. Lily narrowed her eyes and looked at him thoughtfully.
“Do you know that dog?” Lily asked Racine, very quietly.
Racine turned to glance at the door. A smile lit up her tired face. “Oh, yeah! That’s Milo. He’s our comfort dog.”
“Mm-hmm. He visits with the patients and family members and comforts ’em. He’s just a ball of love, that one. He’s so gentle with the patients! We all think he’s a little bit magic ’cause he always knows when someone’s about to pass. More like than not, we find him curled up next to the ones who just slipped away. Milo makes sure they never go alone.”
“Huh. Does he belong to one of the nurses or doctors?”
“No. Well, he belongs to all of us, I guess. See, a couple of years ago, the head nurse, Mrs. Barton? She read about using service dogs in hospice, how they can help ease stress and fear in the patients and all. So she called the local shelter and asked if they wanted to bring a few dogs by, see how it went. They brought several, but Milo’s the one who stuck. The other dogs weren’t all that interested in the patients and were too rambunctious. But Milo knew just what to do, who needed him the most, and how to be careful.”
“Is that so?”
Lily studied the cute face. The dog blinked at her. He was tall with curly golden hair, a lab-poodle mix, Lily thought.
“Uh-huh. So the shelter brought him by once a week. And the patients were always askin’ for him. ‘Where’s Milo! How come he’s not here today?’ Then one day the shelter called and said they gonna put him down because he’d been there so long without being adopted, you know?”
“Oh no!” The very idea that shelters did that made Lily so sick and furious she wanted to bite someone.
“Oh, yes indeedy. So we had a meetin’ and we decided to bring him to live here? He’s got a bed in the staff room, and everyone takes turns walkin’ him and feedin’ him all that. Ain’t that right, Milo?”
Usually a dog would look at a person who said his name, but Milo’s eyes never moved off Lily’s face. She looked deeply into his eyes, trying to see if her suspicion was correct. Those eyes were like a warm pot of misery stew. There was heartbreak in them, and resignation, fear, and curiosity. The intelligence in them was uncanny. Lily sniffed as discretely as she could, but the stale, medicinal tang to the air kept her from catching a clear scent of the dog. As if he realized what she was doing, he quickly ducked behind the door and she heard the faint click of his nails as he trotted away down the hall.
Oh no you don’t.
“Excuse me a moment,” she told Racine.
Lily slipped from the room into the wide, quiet halls of the nursing home. She had to find that dog! She was not leaving the hospital without having spoken to him in private. The sound of his nails stopped. He’d gone into hiding somewhere nearby. His smell was simply everywhere so it was hard to pinpoint where he was right now. And there were a number of rooms occupied by patients and their families. She couldn’t exactly barge in!
Well, she could. She was Lily Beaufort. And she would, if she had to. But she could at least try to be subtle first. She stopped in an empty hallway and took a deep breath. She spoke, her voice so low a human would only hear her if they were inches away.
“Hello, Milo. My name is Lily. I know what you are. It’s okay. I’m like you. Will you please talk to me? I promise I won’t hurt you. And I won’t tell anyone, if you don’t want me to.”
She stood there in the florescent light of the hall, hardly daring to breath for fear she might miss the tiniest response. As she waited, she couldn’t help but wonder. Was Milo aware of what he was, what he could do? Had he ever met another quickened? She’d known dozens of dogs who’d gotten the spark. Heck, she’d helped their transitions into Mad Creek, and she’d heard their stories. The loneliness and confusion they felt before finding others like them just broke her heart. Like this poor baby.
How many dogs like Milo were out there? Quickened, but all alone, not even knowing others existed? Ugh. The idea made her crazy. They’d talked many times at pack meetings about starting an outreach program. But where did they even begin? These lost souls could be anywhere—anywhere there were dogs and owners who loved them.
After a few minutes, Milo appeared around a corner at the end of the hall. He stood there, keeping his distance and watching her.
“It’s okay, hon. Is there someplace we can talk?” Lily whispered.
Milo gazed at her for another long moment, then he turned and walked away, glancing back over his shoulder. Lily followed.
Comment on here or on RJ’s Five Senses blog post that links to here for a chance to win a free ebook of “How to Wish Upon A Star” when it comes out in May 2016.
Hey there! This week I’ll be at the Romantic Times convention in Vegas. If you are there, I’d love to say ‘hi’! Here are the spots/times you can find me.
Weds: 2:45pm panel – When it Hurts So Good
Thurs: 2:45pm panel – Hybrid Author 101
Fri: 11:15am panel – Laughing Through Your Tears
Fri: 1:30pm panel – From Agony to Ecstacy
Sat: Book fair!
Sat: Dreamspinner FAN tastic Day party– 6:45pm is my author slot
Someone on facebook reminded me that I should update you all on what’s in the queue for me.
Apr/May 2016 — “How to Wish Upon a Star”, (aka Howl at the Moon #3)
With MCs Dr. Jason Kunik, a third-generation quickened and genetic researcher, and Milo, a hospice dog who just recently became quickened.
I’m finishing this up and will self-pub, so it will be out quickly!
Jun 2016 — “A Second Harvest”, from Dreamspinner Press
This is the first book of a new series called “Men of Lancaster County”, but each book will also be stand-alone. This book is a May/Dec romance and features a widowed Mennonite farmer and the young gay man who moves in next door. I’m in final edits and have a cover now. Whoot!
August 2016 — “The Land of Milk and Honey”, from Penguin
This is the sequel to “Kingdom Come” and the second book in my Amish murder mystery series (written under Jane Jensen)
Nov 2016 — my Christmas novella for 2016
There will be more out in 2016 but the exact titles and dates are still unknown.
My Dreamspun Desires title, “The Stolen Suitor”, is now available in audiobook, produced by Dreamspinner Press.
If you’re wondering what “The Stolen Suitor” is like, check out the lovely review from Boy Meets Boy.
Today, Feb 1 2016, is the release day for “The Stolen Suitor”, a contemporary romance novel in the Dreamspun Desires line. Dreamspun Desires is a line of unrelated short novels that are all category romance (think the old Harlequin labels) but done as m/m. Very tropey, fun, short romances!
“The Stolen Suitor” is set in the same universe as my Christmas novella “A Prairie Dog’s Love Song”. Clyde’s Corner, Montana is small town USA with a Western/ranch/folksy feel. The story is light-hearted, humorous, and, hopefully, hot! Both Prairie Dog and Stolen Suitor were inspired by Pamela Morsi’s “Marrying Stone” series of folksy romance.
So what is “The Stolen Suitor” about?
The story begins when Mabeline Crassen (Mabe) makes a plan. Mabe and her two sons live in a trailer home on the wrong side of the tracks in Clyde’s Corner, Montana. They’ve been looked down upon ever since Mabe’s husband, Frank, landed himself in jail years ago. The name ‘Crassen’ has had a bad rap ever since. But Mabe is determined to help her two sons achieve better place in the world. We have….
Jeremy Crassen — Jeremy is a shy dreamer who works in the back of Nora’s diner as the short-order cook and spends the rest of his time scribbling store is in his notebooks. He grew up hiding behind his long auburn bangs. Pretty much everyone dismisses Jeremy if they notice him at all. (The photo below is stock. He’s a bit too ‘built’ for slender Jeremy, but his face and hair are perfect.)
Eric Crassen — Whereas Jeremy turned inward after his father’s arrest, his older brother Eric decided that if he were to be labelled bad, he’d be as bad as they come. Known in three counties as a good-looking, womanizing, partying, n’ere-do-well, Eric never rouses himself to do much of anything useful until Mabe’s plan pushes him to. (The dimple-chinned photo below was as close to Eric as I can find. It’s Tom Brady of the New England Patriots).
Mabe’s plan is simple: The young widow, Trix Stubben, owns the best ranch in town. An ex-beauty queen, all around excellent horse-woman, hard-worker, and mother to young Janie, Trix is the ideal woman to set Eric on the path to domestic responsibility at last. (The below photo of ‘Trix’ is stock.) Mabe doesn’t even know that Eric and Trix were middle school sweethearts years ago, until Frank Crassen’s arrest drove Eric to embrace his inner devil.
Mabe pushes Eric to go work for Trix’s ranch and win her heart. After all, he’s good-looking enough to turn Trixie’s head, and he can charm the skin off a snake. There’s just one small problem….
Chris Ramsey: Unfortunately, Trix already has a beau, Chris. His dad owns the town’s mercantile and he’s therefore ‘rich’ and also went away to Denver for a few years and has a top notch education. He’s clearly a much better catch than Eric, but Mabe thinks there may be a crack in that rosy picture. Chris has always been known as the local dandy, being teased for his fussiness with fashion and his looks even in high school. Mabe is pretty sure Chris plays for the pink team, and his courtship of Trix has no more depth than a puddle. Chris was Trixie’s dead husband’s best friend. Could he be courting Trix out of a sense of duty? She sets her younger son, Jeremy, to lure Chris’s attention away from Trix so Eric can steal her away.
If you think that sounds like a plan that’s bound to cause any number of misunderstandings and complications, you’d be right. (I’ll give you a hint–it works out in the end.)
Here are a few images of the setting, Clyde’s Corner, Montana (which is fictional).
And here are a few key places in the story:
Above: The river bank where Jeremy and Chris go fishing (among other things)
Above: The bridge where the dramatic ending takes place
Joshua and Ben from “A Prairie Dog’s Love Song” are also in the book quite a bit because Chris, Jeremy, and Eric all end up taking riding lessons on their ranch. It was wonderful to write more scenes with these characters! I adore them.
And finally, the theme of the story is that sometimes what we think we want in life is not what will truly make us happy. Inspired by the Joseph Campbell quote below.
That’s it for this desktop. I hope you enjoy the story. You can read an excerpt and find purchase links on my page for The Stolen Suitor.
A 21st Century Take on Classic Romance:
First Comes Marriage by Shira Anthony
Thank you Eli for hosting the First Comes Marriage book tour! For those readers who may not already know, First Comes Marriage is the second book in the brand new Dreamspun Desires line of gay category romances from Dreamspinner Press. Be sure to read to the bottom of the post for an excerpt from the book, as well as the Rafflecopter giveaway. You could win a dozen red roses for your sweetheart or yourself!
What’s a “category” romance? I didn’t know the term myself until a few years ago, but I knew the books! These were the Harlequin, Silhouette, Boon & Mills books many of our mothers read. You remember, the ones that came four to a box and were shipped every month? The covers all looked the same, and many were numbered sequentially, like magazines. They were called category romances because they were all from the same category of feel-good stories, all of a certain length (shorter novel), and were very formulaic or, what I might call, tropey.
I loved these books. I also hated them. I loved how they made me feel all squishy inside with that aching, slow-burn that ended in a HEA. Why did I hate them? Because when I was reading them back in the ‘70s, the HEA was always the woman giving up her independence, career, you name it, and getting married. Don’t get me wrong: I’m married and happily so. But my idea of a happy ending with marriage didn’t come with Victorian sensibilities!
So when Dreamspinner Press created the new Dreamspun Desires line of books and was looking for authors to write them, I jumped at the chance. My book, First Comes Marriage, does follow much of the formula of the old category romances. But the gay part of it was a delicious twist on that tried and true recipe, and it gave me permission to write the kind of HEA I dreamed of reading all those years ago.
Sure, the HEA in First Comes Marriage is sweet and satisfying. But it’s also sexy and 21st Century. It may make you cry (in a good way!). There’s plenty of slow burn here, but unlike the Harlequins I read as a new adult, the sex scenes are explicit and fun. No fade to black. My favorite part? Turning some of the old-fashioned romance tropes on their head. But you’ll have to read the book for that part—I won’t spoil it here.
I loved the idea of the Dreamspun Desires line so much that I bought a subscription. I’m looking forward to reading Eli’s book and all the others, and I really enjoyed the first book in the line, MJ O’Shea’s The Millionaire Upstairs. You don’t have to buy the subscription to read the books, since each is available individually. Any way you buy them, they promise to leave you with a smile on your face and that warm, fuzzy, satisfied feeling in your heart. -Shira
Their marriage was supposed to be all business….
When struggling novelist Chris Valentine meets Jesse Donovan, he’s interested in a book contract, or possibly a date. The last thing Chris expects is a marriage proposal from New York City’s most eligible bachelor!
Jesse’s in a pinch. To keep control of his company, he has to marry. So he has valid reasons for offering Chris this business deal: in exchange for living in a gorgeous mansion for a year, playing the doting husband, Chris gets all the writing time he wants and walks away with a million-dollar payoff. Surely Chris can handle that. He can handle living with the most handsome and endearing man he’s ever met, a man he immediately knows he wants in the worst way and can’t have. Or can he?
Excerpt from Chapter Six:
Now, standing in the conference room of Windview Enterprises’ corporate headquarters near South Ferry in Manhattan, one of the matching platinum bands Jesse had bought for them in his pants pocket, Chris wondered if he’d wake up from the dream. The floor-to-ceiling windows looked out over Wall Street and the East River through the forest of high-rise buildings.
“Do you, Jesse Chase Donovan, take Christopher James Valentine to be your husband, in love and in friendship, until you are parted by death?” the judge asked.
“I do.” As Jesse slipped the ring on Chris’s finger, he met Chris’s gaze with such intensity that for an instant, Chris could almost forget the entire ceremony was a ruse to ensure the future of Windview remained firmly in Jesse’s control. Damn the man for being so attractive. Damn him for being a nice guy, because that was the worst part of it. And the part that had you agreeing.
“And do you, Christopher James Valentine, take Jesse Chase Donovan to be your husband, in love and in friendship, until you are parted by death?”
Chris swallowed hard and prayed he didn’t look as incredibly nervous as he felt. “I do.” His hand shook as he took Jesse’s hand and put the ring on his finger.
“Congratulations, Chris and Jesse,” the judge said.
Chris caught Val’s eye for a split second, and he half expected her to urge him to kiss Jesse. But it was Jesse who took charge and blindsided Chris with a kiss.
It started sweetly enough, just Jesse’s lips against his, but instead of releasing Chris, Jesse pulled him tighter against him and pressed his tongue into his mouth. Jesse tasted fucking amazing. Chris didn’t hesitate—their tongues tangled and danced. This close, Jesse smelled good and felt even better. Chris was barely aware of slipping his hands around Jesse’s back before resting them on lean hips. He didn’t think twice as his body and Jesse’s responded in kind.
Someone giggled—Chris recognized Val’s voice—and Jesse pulled abruptly away. Their eyes met for a split second, and Chris thought he saw a mixture of desire and surprise in Jesse’s deep blue eyes. The next thing Chris knew, Val had thrown her arms around him and only his racing heart and tingling lips told him he hadn’t imagined the entire thing.
“Oh, Chris,” Val cooed. “You really did it!”
“Yeah” was the only response Chris could manage. He was still thinking about Jesse’s mouth.
“I guess I was wrong about him being straight,” she whispered mischievously.
Chris was thrilled when Terry grabbed him in a bear hug, because he had no idea how to respond to Val’s comment. He also wasn’t sure if he should be pissed off with Jesse for the show. He supposed if this was going to work, Jesse needed to make the marriage look real. Still, how difficult would it have been to warn Chris that he had that up his sleeve?
All about Shira
Shira Anthony is a complete sucker for a happily-ever-after, and rarely reads or writes a story without one. Never a fan of instalove, Shira likes to write stories about real men with real issues making real relationships work.
In her last incarnation, Shira was a professional opera singer, performing roles in such operas as “Tosca,” “Pagliacci,” and “La Traviata,” among others. Her Blue Notes Series is loosely based upon her own experiences as a professional musician.
Shira is married with two children and two insane dogs and when she’s not writing, she is usually in a courtroom trying to make the world safer for children. When she’s not working, she can be found aboard a 36’ catamaran at the Carolina coast with her favorite sexy captain at the wheel. She’s given up TV for evenings spent with her laptop, and she never goes anywhere without a pile of unread M/M romance on her Kindle.
Interested in hearing Shira sing? Here’s a link to a live performance of Shira singing an aria from Puccini’s “Tosca”: http://www.shiraanthony.com/wp-conten…
You can subscribe to Shira’s monthly newsletter for updates, free fiction, and subscriber-only contests here: http://www.shiraanthony.com/newsletter/
Where you can find Shira
First Comes Marriage is all above love and romance, and Shira’s grand prize is a dozen red roses for your sweetheart (or whoever you think deserves it!). First prize is a $10 Dreamspinner Gift Certificate.
Blog Tour Information
Eli Easton is the author of m/m romance stories and erotica, publishing under Dreamspinner Press and Torquere Press. You can read more about her here.