Silvia Violet

Archive for the ‘holiday’ Category

Needing A Little Christmas – First Chapter

Dec 14, 2012 Filed under: book release, contemporary, excerpts, holiday, m/m

Let Needing a Little Christmas put you in the Christmas spirit!

Read the first chapter here then buy at Silver, Amazon, ARe, or Barnes and Noble.

Chapter 1

“What do mean you’re not going to be with Dave’s family for Christmas? Why?”

I pulled the phone away from my ear. I’d known my mother would be upset, but her reaction was even more vehement and loud than I expected. “Apparently one of the junior partners at his firm isn’t nearly as boring as I am. They’ve been having an affair for months.”

My mother made a sound of disgust. “Oh, honey, I’m so sorry, and you are not boring.”

“Sure, I know, but Dave thinks I am.” And honestly, I thought he was probably right. I preferred to stay at home rather than go out. I spent most days in sweats and T-shirts. When Dave did drag me to a party with his socialite friends, I inevitably embarrassed him with my lack of knowledge of current affairs. I’d taken to hiding out in the bathroom writing notes for my next book on my phone. He’d even attempted to coach me in the art of party conversation. I’d used his lessons in a book but ignored them as they applied to me. The book had done well; readers found the lessons hilarious.

When Dave suggested I was not only an uninteresting social companion but boring in bed as well, I’d taken that seriously. I might prefer a quiet lifestyle, but I knew how to please a partner sexually. After pondering what I could do to shock him, I’d gotten my nipples pierced, something I’d secretly wanted to do for years. He’d laughed. I should have broken up with him that night. We’d only had sex a few times after that, and each time, Dave raced to completion, showered off the scent of me, and promptly fell asleep.

I heard my mother’s heels click against the floor. She must be pacing, something she always did when strategizing. “I’m so sorry, honey. Do you want us to cancel our cruise?”

That was the last thing I wanted. “Of course not. You’ve been looking forward to it for months. I’m fine. Really.”

“Are you sure?”

I held the phone between my shoulder and ear as I poured myself a generous measure of whiskey. “Yeah, things hadn’t been great between me and Dave for a long time.”

She huffed. “That doesn’t give him any excuse to—”

I held up my hand even though she couldn’t see me. “No it doesn’t. He acted like an ass, and I think he knows it. He moved out of his beloved apartment and told me I could keep it.” Not that I could afford it for long unless my next book was a runaway hit.

Mom sighed. “I don’t want you spending Christmas alone.”

After draining my drink, I’d wandered into my bedroom and caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. My eyes were red from lack of sleep and they looked more hazel than their usual bright green. My curly dark hair stood out at odd angles. The stress of trying to meet the deadline for my book and trying to hold on to a relationship that had died long before I caught Dave fucking his colleague in his office hadn’t been good for my appetite. I’d lost weight and the bones in my face showed prominently. I was definitely not looking my best, but I wanted a few more days to wallow in self-pity.

“I really don’t want to be around anyone right now.”

My mom sighed. “But it’s Christmas.”

I ran my hand through my hair, making it stick out even more. “I’m not in the mood for holiday cheer.”

“Your dad and I can go on a cruise another year.”

“No, arranging this once was difficult enough. Rick and Cindy will want to spend next year with you since they’re with Cindy’s family this year. And Ally’s trip to California is a special one-time deal. This is our gift to you, and I won’t be responsible for screwing it up.”

“You wouldn’t be responsible, Dave would be.”

“I wasn’t exactly looking forward to listening to his family brag about how wonderful they all are. I’ll have a better time alone.” My mom’s pacing stopped, and I realized I’d said the wrong thing.

“Eli, why didn’t you tell us you didn’t want to go home with Dave? We would never have agreed to the cruise if we thought you’d be miserable at Christmas.”

I tried to back pedal. “It would have been fine. I enjoy visiting Boston even if the company leaves something to be desired.”

“Hmm.” My mom didn’t sound convinced. “Maybe we could get you a ticket for the cruise. It might not be full.”

The cruise was supposed to give my parents some uninterrupted time together. And the last thing I wanted was be trapped on a ship with lots of happy, smiling people encouraging me to socialize while my mom fussed over me. “No, thanks. I really, truly would rather be on my own.”

“But what will you do?”

“Stay home and drown my sorrows in Christmas cookies and eggnog.”

She gasped. “Eli, I’m going to see if we can schedule the cruise for another time.”

I rolled my eyes. “Mom. I’m kidding.” A little. “I’m truly not that upset over Dave. More than anything I’m angry I didn’t end it sooner. I’ll enjoy having some quiet writing time.”

“You work too much. At least if you’d gone to visit Dave’s family you would have been forced to get off the computer for several hours a day.”

While being tortured with small talk and the dreaded Christmas play Dave’s family put on every year with Dave playing a wise man who somehow became the star of the show. “I like my work.”

“Still, you shouldn’t be in that apartment for Christmas. There are too many bad memories for you. You need to get away.”

“Mom, I haven’t been in love with Dave for a long time. I’m not going to be lying around pining for him”

“Well…”

I imagined she was weighing what she could and couldn’t say. To help her out, I said, “I know you didn’t like him.”

“He didn’t respect you.”

I ran a hand through my hair. “No, he didn’t. I realize that now.”

“What did you see in him? I mean, he’s lovely to look at, but—”

What had I seen in him? He was older, successful, and interested in me when I would never have expected a man like him to be. I wanted him to want me. He’d lavished me with gifts and had been very attentive initially, if a little bit cold. At first I found his reserve charming. He was a fantasy, and I didn’t want to admit he didn’t really live up to my expectations. “I think I liked the idea of him more than the man himself.”

“Hmpf. You made his life way too easy. The nerve of him to cheat on you after all you did for him.”

Mom was right. He’d never taken my work seriously since I could do it from home in my pajamas, and I’d reinforced his thinking by doing the majority of the domestic chores since I was home anyway. No wonder he hadn’t wanted to break up with boring old me. How could I have been such an idiot?

My mom made a little noise of excitement. “I’ve got a great idea.”

My stomach knotted. What crazy scheme had she come up with now? I loved my mom, but once she concocted a plan, getting her to let go of it was next to impossible.

“Linda and Jim are going to visit Rosalind this year so they won’t be using their cabin. Let me call Linda and see if you can use it. At least a trip to the mountains would get you out of that awful apartment.” My mother had always found Dave’s apartment spartan and uninteresting, and she had a point.

“Mom, I don’t need to—”

“You need a vacation.”

I wanted to protest further, but my mother’s tone told me it would be useless.

“Think of it as a writing retreat if you must.”

There was no stopping her. If I didn’t give in to this scheme, she would cancel her cruise, and I’d never get over the guilt. And, as much as I hated to admit it, she was right. Getting out of Charlotte for a few days would be good for me, though I wasn’t sure I wanted to go anywhere as remote as Linda and Dave’s cabin that was located in Middle of Nowhere, Madison County. It did have the advantage of being only a few hours away so I wouldn’t have to stay long.

“Fine. If the cabin is free, I’ll use it for a holiday writing retreat.”

My mom sighed. “I’m going to miss you.”

“I’ll miss you too.” And I really would. I’d gone home for Christmas every one of my twenty-eight years.

“I’ll give Linda a call and see what I can arrange.”

“Okay, Mom. I love you. Tell Dad I love him too.”

She made kissing sounds into the phone. “I love you too, and so does your dad. Are you sure you’re okay?”

“Yes, I’m fine.” Angry, embarrassed, and disgusted, but fine.

“You want me to do some damage to him, you just give me the word.”

Her words made me smile as she’d known they would. My mom might be five feet even and girlishly thin, but she was a force to be reckoned with. Dave would not want to tangle with her. “Thanks, Mom.”

Christmas Blog Hop: Needing A Little Christmas

Dec 1, 2012 Filed under: bears, book release, contemporary, excerpts, holiday, m/m, web event

I love Christmas. I don’t allow myself to watch Christmas movies or listen to Christmas music in the “off season” except during my kids annual Christmas-in-July party, but once November hits, I wait impatiently for the official kick-off of the Christmas season. No I don’t mean the day after Halloween like so many retailers but the day after Thanksgiving.

Rather than fighting crowds at the mall on Black Friday, I spend part of my day pulling out the boxes of Christmas decorations, books, movies, seasonal artwork my kids have done, ornaments that remind me of past Christmases and cookie tins. Cookie tins that will soon be bursting with our selection of holiday cookies. Sitting down with Christmas-themed cookbooks and magazines and selecting the cookies and candies my daughters and I are going to make is one of our favorite traditions.

I love the domestic coziness of Christmas – baking, admiring the Christmas tree lights in the evening, drinking cocoa while reading our favorite Christmas books, cuddling on the couch and watching A Christmas Story for the gazillionth time. That warmth and making myself slow down to enjoy more family closeness is what I treasure each December. When I write Christmas stories of my own I try to make sure my characters get a taste of this snuggly type of Christmas cheer.

In Needing a Little Christmas, Eli is used to a cozy Christmas with his family. He’s twenty-eight and he’s never once spent Christmas Day anywhere but at his childhood home with his parents and siblings. This year, however, Eli and his brother and sister have given their parents a special gift, a holiday cruise.

Eli is supposed to spend Christmas with his boyfriend, but when he finds his boyfriend doing the naked tango with a co-worker, he’s left on his on. At his mother’s insistence, he decides to get out of the city and go to one of her friends cabins right as a major snowstorm hits. When he realizes he’s trapped with no wood to heat the cabin, he calls Mac’s Wood Delivery and unknowingly saves his Christmas.

Mac has also spent every Christmas of his life wrapped in the warmth of family. He can’t stand the thought of Eli being alone without even a Christmas tree. He knows Eli needs a little Christmas, and Eli knows that what he needs most is Mac.

To offer you even more Christmas cheer, comment on this post for a chance to win a copy of my 2011 Christmas story One Kiss, filled with truffles, cinnamon rolls, light-up polar bears, and Christmas aprons.

 

Needing A Little Christmas will be released on December 6. You can pre-order it now.

Excerpt

“What do mean you’re not going to be with Dave’s family for Christmas? Why?”

I pulled the phone away from my ear. I’d known my mother would be upset, but her reaction was even more vehement and loud than I expected. “Apparently one of the junior partners at his firm isn’t nearly as boring as I am. They’ve been having an affair for months.”

My mother made a sound of disgust. “Oh, honey, I’m so sorry, and you are not boring.”

“Sure, I know, but Dave thinks I am.” And honestly, I thought he was probably right. I preferred to stay at home rather than go out. I spent most days in sweats and T-shirts. When Dave did drag me to a party with his socialite friends, I inevitably embarrassed him with my lack of knowledge of current affairs. I’d taken to hiding out in the bathroom writing notes for my next book on my phone. He’d even attempted to coach me in the art of party conversation. I’d used his lessons in a book but ignored them as they applied to me. The book had done well; readers found the lessons hilarious.

When Dave suggested I was not only an uninteresting social companion but boring in bed as well, I’d taken that seriously. I might prefer a quiet lifestyle, but I knew how to please a partner sexually. After pondering what I could do to shock him, I’d gotten my nipples pierced, something I’d secretly wanted to do for years. He’d laughed. I should have broken up with him that night. We’d only had sex a few times after that, and each time, Dave raced to completion, showered off the scent of me, and promptly fell asleep.

I heard my mother’s heels click against the floor. She must be pacing, something she always did when strategizing. “I’m so sorry, honey. Do you want us to cancel our cruise?”

That was the last thing I wanted. “Of course not. You’ve been looking forward to it for months. I’m fine. Really.”

“Are you sure?”

I held the phone between my shoulder and ear as I poured myself a generous measure of whiskey. “Yeah, things hadn’t been great between me and Dave for a long time.”

She huffed. “That doesn’t give him any excuse to—”

I held up my hand even though she couldn’t see me. “No it doesn’t. He acted like an ass, and I think he knows it. He moved out of his beloved apartment and told me I could keep it.” Not that I could afford it for long unless my next book was a runaway hit.

Mom sighed. “I don’t want you spending Christmas alone.”

After draining my drink, I’d wandered into my bedroom and caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. My eyes were red from lack of sleep and they looked more hazel than their usual bright green. My curly dark hair stood out at odd angles. The stress of trying to meet the deadline for my book and trying to hold on to a relationship that had died well before I caught Dave fucking his colleague in his office hadn’t been good for my appetite. I’d lost weight and the bones in my face showed prominently. I was definitely not looking my best, but I wanted a few more days to wallow in self-pity. “I really don’t want to be around anyone right now.”

My mom sighed. “But it’s Christmas.”

I ran my hand through my hair, making it stick out even more. “I’m not in the mood for holiday cheer.”

“Your dad and I can go on a cruise another year.”

“No, arranging this once was difficult enough. Rick and Cindy will want to spend next year with you since they’re with Cindy’s family this year. And Ally’s trip to California is a special one-time deal. This is our gift to you, and I won’t be responsible for screwing it up.”

“You wouldn’t be responsible; Dave would be.”

“I wasn’t exactly looking forward to listening to his family brag about how wonderful they all are. I’ll have a better time alone.” My mom’s pacing stopped, and I realized I’d said the wrong thing.

“Eli, why didn’t you tell us you didn’t want to go home with Dave? We would never have agreed to the cruise if we thought you’d be miserable at Christmas.”

I tried to back pedal. “It would have been fine. I enjoy visiting Boston even if the company leaves something to be desired.”

“Hmm.” My mom didn’t sound convinced. “Maybe we could get you a ticket for the cruise. It might not be full.”

The cruise was supposed to give my parents some uninterrupted time together. And the last thing I wanted was be trapped on a ship with lots of happy, smiling people encouraging me to socialize while my mom fussed over me. “No, thanks. I really, truly would rather be on my own.”

“But what will you do?”

“Stay home and drown my sorrows in Christmas cookies and eggnog.”

You can find a list of all the posts for the Christmas Blog Hop here.

 

Thanksgiving Recipe Blog Swap

Nov 20, 2012 Filed under: bears, holiday, m/m, men in uniform, paranormal, shapeshifter, web event

I love pie. Really I do – fruit pies, pecan pie, savory pies. I don’t think I’ve ever been confronted with a type of pie I wouldn’t eat – even mincemeat. When it comes to Thanksgiving dinner, I enjoy the turkey and stuffing and cranberry sauce but to me, Thanksgiving is a holiday for pie.

Growing up my family always went to my Grandma’s house for Thanksgiving dinner, and the desserts had their own buffet. Grandma’s specialty was lemon merigue pie but there were also sweet potato pies, pumpkin pies, and chocolate pie made from a recipe passed down from her grandmother. My dad was the oldest of five children, and it had been decided either before I was born or when I was very small that no one got to take leftovers home. You had to be the first one back to Grandma’s house the next day to get your pick of whatever was left after we’d all filled our bellies. I remember many a day after Thanksgiving waking up a 4am not to get in line in front of Wal-mart but to get to Grandma’s for the leftover lemon pie.

 

Silvia’s Grandma’s Lemon Pie

Vanilla Wafer crust

1.5 cups of crushed vanilla wafers

1/2 cup melted butter

Combine and press into a 9in pie pan. Grandma only pressed the crumbs into the bottom and put whole vanilla wafers around the edge but you can press the crumbs up the sides if you like.

Filling

1 can sweetened condensed milk

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1 tsp lemon zest

3 egg yolks (save whites for meringue)

1 tsp vanilla

Combine and pour into pie shell.

Meringue

Beat 3 egg whites until stiff peaks form. Add 1/3 cup sugar and 1/2 tsp vanilla. Beat to combine.

Top filling with meringue.

Bake at 350F until meringue browns just a bit. It doesn’t take long. Then refrigerate for at least three hours.

 

I like to include pie in my stories. My free Thanksgiving short, Heat in the Kitchen, involves the demise of a pumpkin pie and  in Paws on Me, Brandon and Seth get creative with apple pie.

 

Protect and Serve: Paws on Me by Silvia Violet

Blurb:

Lieutenant Seth Morrison loves being a cop, but with budget cuts and crime both on the rise, he’s stopped making time for anything but his job.

On the outside, Brandon Lord is an easy-going, flirtatious club owner. On the inside he’s a man trying to overcome a difficult past.

When a murder investigation brings the two men together, passion roars to life. They’re both willing to break the rules to be together. Because as mismatched as they might seem, each man is exactly what the other needs.

Excerpt:

I’m Seth Morrison. I’m a cop, a police lieutenant to be precise. I’ve been on the force more years than I want to think about. I’ve seen good men get killed, turn dirty, lose themselves in the bottle, lose their fucking minds, but I’m still here doing what I do. I don’t know any other life. People tell me I need a break, a vacation, to relax. I don’t want to fucking relax. I just want to do my job and keep this city from falling apart.

I park my car, grab my coffee from the cup holder, and charge up the front steps of the station. I could take the side door, it’s closer to my office, but I love the chaos of the bullpen. When I open the door, I breathe deeply, enjoying the variety of smells: coffee that’s been on the warmer far too long, the sickeningly sweet smell of candy and doughnuts, pine-scented cleaner from the scrubbing the janitors gave the floors last night, and something unnamable that simply smells like cops and hard work. I shake my head as I try to imagine not being here nearly 24/7. This is where I belong.

My stomach rumbles. I should’ve had dinner, but after pretending an afternoon nap was a night’s sleep, I’m running late. I’ll grab something from the vending machine while I dream about a juicy burger and thick home fries. It sure would be nice to have someone cook for me. I don’t seem to get along with stoves. Years ago, I tried being married. That worked for about 30 seconds. My wife wanted me to work shorter hours. I wanted her to talk less, or maybe never.

Friends tell me I should make an effort to date, but I’m more comfortable at a gruesome homicide scene than making small talk at dinner with a woman or a man. Yeah, I like both. I stopped going out with men when I entered the academy. I just couldn’t deal with the shit the guys would give me. Now, I don’t advertise what I like, but I pick up a guy now and then. I’m discreet, but if somebody finds out, I’ll deal.

One-night stands I can handle, but relationships are beyond me. People think police work is draining, but I’d rather spend all day in the field and all night at my desk filling out fucking paperwork — and often I do — than try to decode relationship signals. I inevitably screw things up and never understand why.

Sex I need. Romance I don’t.

My phone rings. I pull it out of my pocket hoping the call will save me from the mountain of paperwork on my desk. It’s Drew Danvers, detective and vampire. That’s right, a vampire who works for the good guys. We’ve got a werewolf in homicide too. And he’s a damn fine cop.

I remember when the shifters came out of the closet, scaring the hell out of us humans. One by one other monsters made themselves known. Most people assumed they were all assholes who wanted to eat us, but I quickly learned not to judge a man because he sucked blood or turned into a wolf. I judge men based on how they treat others.

I answer the call. “What’s up, Detective?”

“Two dead werewolves found in a closet at Shift. Hacked up pretty bad. The scene’s a circus. Jenkins called in sick. I’m on my own, and –”

“I’ll be there in ten.”

“Thanks, sir.”

“No problem. Murder scene or paperwork, which would you choose?”

* * *

I step inside the club. A crime lab team is there and several uniformed officers are talking with employees. I spot Drew in the entryway of an office. He’s frowning as he questions a tall hairy hunk of a man. I’ve seen this man around the area several times, and just like every other time, he makes my cock sit up and take notice.

Our most recent encounter was a week ago. When I want to grab a beer and be left the fuck alone, I go to Mitch’s, a dive just down the street from Shift. Last time I spent the evening there, he sat next to me at the bar and came on strong. I was in a shitty mood. I wanted him, and it pissed me off. He’s not my type. He’s young, hip, and outrageously flirtatious. I walked away, but I regretted it later that night when I couldn’t stop fantasizing about him.

The man looks my way and catches me staring. His grin says he knows the direction my thoughts are going. Fucking bastard winks at me. Drew scowls.

I turn to face him. He grins down at me, that same cocky-as-fuck little smile he’d given me earlier, making me even more aware of how close we are and how big he is. At 6’2″, I’m hardly small, but he’s got several inches on me. And while I’ve got a rather thick pelt, the fur visible above the vee of his t-shirt is astounding.

He smiles mischievously. “You gonna cuff me if you take me in?”

“Impeding a murder investigation will get you thrown in jail.”

He rolls his eyes. “I found two dead guys in my closet when I came to work tonight. My business is shut down, and I’ll be losing money every minute that you’re here. But at least I have a sense of humor.”

“Well, I don’t.”

He shakes his head. “Are you taken too?”

I take another step back. “You’re making a lot of assumptions.”

I look over at Drew and realize he and Jason are grinning like loons. Fuck. All I need is the two of them ragging me.

I glare at Drew. “Detective, do you think you can question this man without killing him?”

“Probably.”

“Fine. Fleetfoot, head back to the lab. Take my car. I’ll get a ride with Danvers.” I throw him my keys, and he snatches them out of the air as he gives Drew’s hand a final squeeze. Jason is better in the lab than any tech we have. We only send him into the field when we’re desperately short-handed. I run a hand through my hair, wishing I knew how I’m going to hold the homicide division together if we don’t get more funds.

He holds out his hand. “I’m Brandon Lord. I own Shift.”

“Lieutenant Morrison.” I shake his hand. His skin is surprisingly smooth, his grip tight and warm. I want to feel those big hands running over me. I want to rub his furry body with my own. Fuck! I should assign someone else to this case right now and get the hell away from him. But some crazy restlessness he’s dredged up in me makes me fight my instincts.

“Nice to meet you, Lieutenant.” His voice is low and rich. And his grin lets me know he’s well aware of my body’s reaction to him.

I need to get away. His smell alone is making me hard. “I’m not here to play games. Drop the act and treat this case seriously, or I’ll find an excuse to throw your ass in jail.”

He grins. Fuck, he knows he’s got me rattled. “I’d never kill anyone, Lieutenant. I’m just a cuddly teddy bear.”

The bear shifter and the bear. Ridiculous. I need to leave now. This man is no cuddly toy. I don’t think he’s our murderer, but he’s far smarter than he wants me to believe and likely far more dangerous. “I know what cuddling leads to.”

Brandon laughs, a deep, infectious sound. I can’t help but respond. Now I want him more than ever. Taking this case was a supremely stupid idea, staying on it now is unprofessional.

But I won’t walk away.

Buy it at Changeling Press, Amazon, ARe

Now go visit other posts and find more great books and delicious recipes

Angel Martinez – http://www.freewebs.com/angelwrites/apps/blog/show/20193870-the-thanksgiving-recipe-blog-swap

Havan Fellows – http://havanshawthaven.blogspot.com/2012/11/thanksgiving-recipe-blog-swapleftover.html

Laura Harner – http://lauraharner.com/hp_wordpress/thanksgiving-recipe-blog-swap/

Lee Brazil – http://leebrazilauthor.blogspot.com/2012/11/happy-thanksgiving.html

Tom Webb – http://tom-webb.blogspot.com/2012/11/thanksgiving-recipe-blogswap.html?zx=612d47957ffeff7e

 

 

 

Free Story – Heat in the Kitchen

Nov 18, 2012 Filed under: contemporary, free story, holiday, m/m

Heat in the Kitchen is a Thanksgiving story that’s hotter than your oven after working overtime on turkey, pies and all those sides. This story appears in Silver Shorts Week 45, and you can download it here. Or you can read it now on my site…..

Heat in the Kitchen by Silvia Violet

“You want me to cook Thanksgiving dinner for your family?”

Allen looked everywhere but at Layton. “Well, yeah. You know what it’s like to suffer through my mother’s cooking, and we already decided not to fly to see your dad, so…”

“The last time your family came to dinner, you gave me a blowjob in the pantry, and I burned the chicken.”

Allen had the decency to blush. “You know how I get when you wear an apron. It brings out the animal in me.”

Layton gave him a hard stare. “That’s exactly what I’m worried about.”

“I’ll be good.”

Layton sighed. “No, you won’t, but that’s part of what I like about you.”

“Exactly.”

“So what should I make?”

Allen’s eyes widened. “You’ll do it? For real?”

Layton wanted to strangle him. “I didn’t think I really had a choice.”

“Well, there’s always dry turkey and instant mashed potatoes.”

“Any chance of skipping it all and spending the day in bed?” Layton asked.

Allen smirked. “I’d sure be thankful then, but no, my mom would be hurt if we were in town and didn’t spend the day with her. There’s always the day after Thanksgiving though.”

“All right. I’ll cook, but no interruptions this time. There’s no point in having me make dinner if we’re just going to eat something burned anyway.”

Allen raised two fingers and tried to look innocent. “Scout’s honor.”

Read the rest on the story page. And look at the other free reads on my site.

Holiday Recipe Extravaganza – Keira Andrews

Dec 21, 2011 Filed under: guest blogger, holiday, Holiday Recipe Extravaganza, m/m, recipes, sweet treats

Here’s a yummy twist on the standard latke. I think Nate’s mother might initally frown upon anything but the traditional latke at Hanukkah, but these are so tasty she’d come around!

Pesto Latkes

2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes
1 medium onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup packed fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
1/3 cup pasteurized egg substitute
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray.

Peel potatoes, then grate them through the large holes of a box grater into a large bowl. Squeeze in small batches between your hands over the sink to remove excess moisture. Then grate onion into the bowl through the same holes in the box grater.

Stir in garlic, basil, egg substitute, cheese, oil, salt and pepper. Place a generous 1/2 cup of the potato mixture into each muffin cup, packing the mixture firmly.

Bake the latkes until lightly browned and firm, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes before unmolding.

 

Eight Nights by Keira Andrews

Blurb:

Lucas McKenzie figures spending the holidays with his annoying roommate’s family is better than being alone on campus. The last thing he expects is to lust over Sam’s brother — or for Nate to actually want him back.

They hide their attraction during Hanukkah celebrations, but behind closed doors, Lucas and Nate can’t keep their hands (or mouths) off each other. Nate’s only looking for a bit of holiday fun, and amazing sex with a hot virgin definitely fits the bill.

Yet as the candles burn, Nate and Lucas begin to realize eight nights will never be enough.

Excerpt:

As Nate went through the steps, Lucas tried to pay attention. At one point, Nate handed him a pair of rubber-tipped tongs, and Lucas dutifully plucked out a developed photo and hung it on the line. They worked in companionable silence, and Lucas found he enjoyed watching the photographs come to life. They were all black-and-white cityscapes, and he felt a frisson of excitement, knowing he’d get a chance to finally see New York for himself in the days to come. “You took all of these?” Lucas admired the clean lines and unique angles of the photos.

Nate waved his hand dismissively. “Yeah, I’m just messing around.”

“I’d like to see what you can do when you’re taking it seriously because these are amazing.”

“It’s nice of you to say so.” Nate wiped his hands on a towel and plucked a doughnut from the plate Lucas had left on the counter. “We just need to wait now before we open the door.”

Nate didn’t seem comfortable with praise, so Lucas stopped talking and took his own doughnut, relishing the sweet, fruity flavor. He couldn’t understand why Nate trivialized his talent. Lucas was no expert, but he found the photographs beautiful.

They ate in silence, and Lucas noticed a blob of jelly filling on the corner of Nate’s mouth. Before he could think, he reached out, swiping at it with his finger. Their eyes locked, and Lucas froze, his hand still at Nate’s mouth.

Oh God, what was he doing?

He stayed in place, not breathing as he and Nate stared at each other in the muted red light. Before Lucas could process what was happening, Nate’s tongue curled out and licked the jelly from his finger. A jolt of desire ran though Lucas, and he swallowed thickly, his throat suddenly dry.

Nate turned his head just a bit and sucked Lucas’s finger into his mouth.

As Lucas moaned low in his throat, Nate yanked him close, and they were kissing. Lucas’s head swam from the explosion of sensations he felt.

He was actually kissing another man.

He opened his mouth and Nate’s tongue dived in, probing and stroking as his hands ran over Lucas’s back, down to his ass.

Quiet, mild-mannered Nathaniel Kramer was grabbing his ass.

His head swimming, Lucas kissed Nate back, his body alive in a way it never had been while kissing a girl. The scratch of Nate’s stubble, his musky scent — every thing about him was so male, and any lingering doubts Lucas had about being gay melted away as he explored Nate’s mouth.

They both gasped for air, and Lucas realized that his jeans were undone as Nate sank to his knees. “What are you…?”

Buy it here.

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Holiday Recipe Extravaganza – Victoria Blisse

Dec 20, 2011 Filed under: guest blogger, holiday, Holiday Recipe Extravaganza, recipes, sweet treats

 

Coconut Ice.

December is here and it’s time to think about presents. I know it can be difficult to think of meaningful presents that don’t cost the earth because let’s face it things can get expensive this time of year. Well I can tell you that this recipe always goes down a treat. Adults love it and so do kids and the best thing is it is quick and easy to make and requires no cooking at all.

Equipment:

Tin to set the coconut ice in (9×9 inch works well) if using

Wooden spoon

Large bowl

Sieve

Spatula

Ingredients:

300g desiccated coconut
300g icing sugar
400g tin of condensed milk
Optional food colouring (pink is traditional but try different colours if you’d like)

Method:

Place the condensed milk into a bowl, use a spatula to scrap out all the contents. Sieve the icing sugar into the bowl.  Beat well together then mix in the desiccated coconut. It may get a bit difficult so persevere, everything will come together in the end.

To make traditional squares of coconut ice divide the mixture into two then add a few drops of red to one half and mix it in to make it pink.

Spread the pink layer on the bottom of the tin them spread the white layer on top. At this point I suggest you score some squares into the top of the coconut ice so it is easier to cut when it is set.  Put the tin in the fridge and leave to set for at least 3 hours but preferably overnight before cutting into squares and serving or putting in pretty boxes/jars to give as presents!

You can mould the coconut ice mixture into shapes, kids love making little mice out of it. You can add chocolate buttons for ears and sweet laces for whiskers and a tail but the sky is the limit. Colour the sweet whatever colour you like and make whatever shapes you like. If you make something unusual let me know (victoria @victoriablisse. co. uk no spaces) I’m always looking for new, fun present ideas!

 

 

 

 

Always Christmas in Lincoln by Victoria Blisse

It isn’t really always Christmas in Lincoln but when Felicity gets her man it feels like it.

Felicity hates Christmas. It reminds her of a traumatic event from her childhood. She thinks the Permanent Christmas shop is tacky, with its windows full of trees and tinsel all year round and would rather it disappeared from her picturesque home town.

When she discovers that Carl, who she lusts over every time she sees him in the tea rooms, is in fact the owner of Ho, Ho, Ho! She’s not quite sure what to think. It takes a sexy meeting in the middle of a fake winter wonderland to make her realise the advantages of Christmas in the middle of summer.

As time passes, Carl and Felicity indulge in more sexy liaisons but as Christmas approaches Felicity doubts whether she is anything more than a sensual distraction for the festive shop owner and when her handsome ex, Sean, sweeps into town on a quest to win her back she finds she has a tough decision to make.

Can Carl and his Christmas cheer win over her hardened heart?

Excerpt:

He squeezed my arm and I shuddered with pleasure. We continued to talk business for a while and it was quite obvious Carl didn’t just know his stuff—he loved it. He was like a kid waiting to visit Santa.

“Yes, I’m mad,” he said. “I know that. I love Christmas.”

“Oh, no, it’s sweet,” I gasped. “It’s just… I’m not a fan of the festive season.”
“Really?”

“Really, really. It’s not Christmas, just something happened at that time of year and…well; it kind of poisoned my enjoyment of it.”

“That’s awful,” Carl sympathised. “I hope you work out some way to separate the two, because no one should miss out on the joy of Christmas.”

The silence that fell wasn’t particularly awkward. Funny how quickly a stranger can become a friend, but I was on edge because I could feel him beside me, smell his light cinnamon aftershave, and I just wanted to pounce on him and have my wicked way.

“I guess I should be going,” I sighed. “Not that I want to go out there again—it’s so cool and refreshing in here.”

“Then stay. I’d be grateful of the company while I finish putting together my North Pole.”

“Well, if you’re sure…”

“Yes, yes, stay. I could do with a second opinion on where to place my candy canes.”

“All right,” I agreed. “Can I give you a hand since I’m here anyway?”

“Well, go on then. I’m used to doing them on my own, but I’ve seen your window displays and they’re always gorgeous. Can you organise the penguins and polar bears for me?”

“Sure.” I smiled, shut the laptop and picked up a polar bear. It’s not often a person gets to say that, I suppose. We chatted amicably as we positioned and re-positioned soft toys, ornaments and gingerbread houses. I’d not felt so relaxed and happy for a long while. The loneliness had sunk into my soul and I’d barely even recognised it. As I pondered what that meant for me and my life, I miscalculated how far forward I needed to lean to place my singing, dancing penguin, and I slipped. I knocked into Carl, yelped and thankfully landed on the soft toys. Carl’s landing wasn’t quite so soft, since he ended up on top of me.
“Oh, fu—I’m so sorry.”

“It’s fine, it’s fine.” Carl pushed himself up, but I was still very aware of his pelvis pressing against mine. “Don’t worry, accidents happen.”

“I’m sorry, I’ll pay for anything I’ve broken, I’ll put everything back in just the place it was…”
Carl kissed me.

It was far more complex than that, but at that moment my mind went blank and I just couldn’t think. His lips were on mine. They were plump, hot and very skilled. He took my breath away with just the gentlest undulations. I wrapped my arms around him without thought; pulled him close and let out all the passion that had built up inside me. We broke apart and took ragged breaths before our lips pulled us back together again. Our eyes were open and I could see that he was holding back just a little bit, nervous about whether this was what I wanted. I was sure he’d see the same emotions in the sea of my green eyes.

It struck me as funny that two grown adults lip-locked together still seemed so hesitant. I think he felt the smile cross my lips, because he turned up the heat. He rolled to his side and pulled me over on top of him. I laughed, then groaned because I felt the significant bump rising from his crotch. I was now somewhat in control and after a moment, a very brief moment of doubt, I reached out to undo the buttons on his shirt. His fingers crept up my thighs in response.
I kissed down the outline of his jaw; he moved a hand to cup one of my buttocks. I finished unbuttoning him and he clasped me from the other side, so I was surrounded by his touch and aroused by his gentle squeezes. I continued my kiss trail down over his chest. It was a strong chest, not bursting with muscles—that does nothing for me anyway—but steely, with the kind of muscles that aren’t showy but get the job done well enough, thank you.

As I slipped lower, Carl reluctantly let go of my cotton-covered arse. His breath was ragged as, I am sure, was mine. I felt like I couldn’t quite catch my breath and I was sure that if I were a heroine in a historical romance I’d be experiencing a touch of the vapours.

The real experience waited for me within the casual trousers of the all-year-round Christmas salesman. I was relieved to find plain, black underwear without a Santa, reindeer or Christmas tree in sight, and that the significant bulge inside was all tasty, hot flesh and not a figment of my fevered imagination.

It was very surreal being surrounded by snow, even fake snow, in the middle of summer. Every time I bobbed my head up and down on his delicious dick—I swear it tasted of gingerbread and cinnamon—something different would catch my eye. The green and red- scarfed penguin lying on its side next to me or the grinning Santa on a rocking chair up on the shelf. Each had a smug smile that I was sure signalled how much they liked the show.

Buy it here.

Holiday Recipe Extravaganza – RJ Scott

Dec 19, 2011 Filed under: guest blogger, holiday, Holiday Recipe Extravaganza, m/m, recipes, sweet treats

Poor Jesse… I bet Gabriel drags him to a Christmas Shortbread making event!

Jesse’s Christmas, coming from Silver Publishing 25 December

Blurb:

For Jesse Connor, Christmas is nothing but a series of bad memories. It takes a man imbued with the spirit of Christmas to help him realize that the Christmas spirit lies in everyone–if they only know where to look.

Recipe

Jane Asher’s Chocolate Caramel Shortbread

Ingredients

175g spreadable butter

75g castor sugar

200g plain flour

25g soft brown sugar

450g tin (or squeezy bottle) condensed milk

200g milk chocolate drops

Makes 10-12 slices

Method

1. Pre-heat the oven to 175g°C (160°C fan assisted, 350°F, gas mark 4). Grease and line a 7”x11” baking tray

2. Put 150g of the butter into a mixing bowl, together with the castor sugar. With a wooden spoon, cream together until soft .

3. Add the flour, and mix together, pressing the flour into the butter/sugar with the back of the spoon

4. Turn the mix out into the pan, pressing it evenly out with your hand to fill the pan

5. Bake for 30-35 minutes until just beginning to colour at the edges. Remove from the oven and cool in the tin

6. Put the remaining butter, brown sugar and condensed milk into a small pan.

7. Heat carefully, stirring all the time, until it begins to bubble – keep scraping right round the bottom, or it will catch and burn (although don’t worry if you do find up a few dark bits – once covered in chocolate you’ll never notice!)

8. Keep stirring until the mix thickens – this will only take a couple of minutes – then remove from the heat and, still stirring, let it cool for a few seconds, before spreading it over the shortbread base. Allow to cool

9. Melt the chocolate in a basin over hot water or in the microwave, then spread it evenly over the base.

10. Leave the chocolate to set, then divide into rectangles

Holiday Recipe Extravaganza – Cherie Noel

Dec 18, 2011 Filed under: guest blogger, holiday, Holiday Recipe Extravaganza, m/m, recipes, sweet treats

Part and parcel of my holiday story is one of my favorite Christmas recipes. I wrote it into the story so I’ll give you the recipe as it occurs at the end of my story, Christmas Rum Balls. I knew I wanted to use the cookies in a Christmas story, and then when I realized how much my main character Tony loves to cook it was an easy step to get him to divulge his super secret recipe for the good of people everywhere.
Tony’s Rum Ball Recipe

Listen. First youse gotta have mixin’ bowls and bakin’ stuff.

‘Cept youse don’t gotta bake for these.

So youse can make em with the kids and old folks and people who might not remember the rules about makin’ hot stuff.

Okay.

Second, youse gotta put love into ’em. They taste better that way.

No, really, they do.

So, here’s the list.

Ingredients:

2 ½ cups of Nilla wafers. Crush ’em up good. Youse gonna start out with a whole box of the suckers, but when they gets crushed? 2 ½ cup.

2 tablespoons of cocoa. (Me? I love this stuff)

1 ¼ cups icing sugar. Youse can find it in the baking aisle in the grocery store. Just ask the clerks, ’cause they always know where ta find stuff.

½ cup of Spiced Rum. Or youse can use Bourbon. But, the cookies are Rum Balls, so I think youse should use the rum. On account of that’s what they’re called.

2 tablespoons of white corn syrup. It’s the clearish kind, like Karo syrup. That’s a brand name.

1 cup of pecans or walnuts, broke up kinda good. I like the walnuts better. ‘Cause putting something called “pee can” in my food just seems wrong, youse know what I mean?

Now youse need to know how ta put it all together.

Directions:

Youse gotta mix the cocoa with 1 cup of the sugar in a special way the fancy cooks call sifting. If youse don’t have a sifter, youse can just mix them up real good. But youse might wanna think about using maybe a fine mesh colander. That could do for a sifter in a pinch.

Mix the rum and the syrup together, and then stir them into the cocoa an’ sugar mix.

Pour in the crushed up Nilla wafers (I guess any vanilla wafers would work, but I like the Nilla ones) and the nuts.

Mix everything up real good.

Make little bouncy balls or walnut size balls. Then youse can either roll them in the remaining icing sugar or leave ’em plain. I love sweets, so I put the extra sugar on.

Then youse just store them in a tin.

It’s best to make Christmas Rum Balls a little early so they have time to sit and get tastier. So make them about a week before youse wanna eat ’em.

Christmas Rum Balls  by Cherie Noel

Santa Neil in leather, elf Tony in a sock;
Watch naughty Kevin, falling like a rock.
He’s off the nice list—coal city’s straight ahead,
‘Til a miracle’s made with wrist restraints, a bow and Rum Balls in their bed.

Santa Neil and Elf Tony have a problem. Their wayward boy Kevin, fallen off the nice list and headed straight for coal-in-the-stocking-city, is hauling around a truckload of unnecessary guilt.

Together, they mix up a brand new recipe for Christmas fun, complete with Santa Neil in leather, Elf Tony in a smile and a strategically placed sock, and of course, some delicious Christmas Rum Balls. Their bring the big day early, but one question still remains…Can they entice Naughty Kevin to release his burden and open his sweet self to the Christmas spirit all around him?

Excerpt

“Neil, we’se got a problem.”

Neil looked up from the freshman Art History term papers currently causing both his red marking pen and his eyes to bleed.

Tony stood just inside the door of Neil’s home office, squarely in front of Neil’s wide oak desk, naked from the waist up. Flecks of red in various shades dotted his torso. Neil smiled. The spatters of red paint on his lover’s body were a damn sight easier to look at than the mutilations of both art and history most of this term’s freshman class routinely handed over in lieu of well written papers.

“What’s the problem Tony?”

Tony cast a worried frown over his shoulder. “Would it be okay to shut the door, do youse think, Neil? ‘Cause I don’t wanna break none of the rules, but I don’t want Kevin ta hear this part.”

Neil’s eyebrows crept toward his hairline. The open door policy was one he’d come up with. Tony seemed to be taking it quite literally today. Neil bit the inside of his cheek. Tony had come so far since his injury. Some days Neil had to remind himself that his lover had suffered a traumatic brain injury at the hands of a former boyfriend.

Tony had come into the ER on a day Kevin picked up an extra shift to cover for a friend in need, and Tony had been his last patient of the day. Kevin still held on to guilt over not doing more to help Tony that day, before the second beating happened. Everyone else, including Tony, believed the helpline numbers Kevin had given Tony during his exam had saved the big Italian’s life.

Tony had been on the phone with the helpline when Robert broke into the room Tony was hiding in and beat the big gentle man into unconsciousness. The helpline worker had heard the breaking door, and placed an immediate call to 911. Tony had gotten help as fast as was humanly possible.

Neil thought the amazing recovery Tony had made could rightly be attributed to Kevin as well. Kevin had gone beyond the call of duty when Tony ended up on his regularly worked floor. He made sure that Tony got every rehabilitative therapy offered, and when it became clear that Tony would need additional assistance once he got out, the sweet nurse had taken Tony into his own home as first a house guest, then as he recovered enough to return to his art studies, a roommate, and finally, at Tony’s insistence, as a lover.

Neil jiggled his legs.

Tony turned from the door, a crinkle marring the smooth olive expanse of his forehead. His big, melted chocolate eyes zeroed in on the marking pen Neil was tapping against the desk. Then Tony looked up. The pupils of his eyes were blown wide, turning them to dark fathomless pools. The corners of the big Italian’s mouth pinched together, a line of white ringing his lips.

Neil stilled completely in his chair.

Tony had bad days though, days where he had mini seizures or was especially forgetful, days where he clung to the “rules” Kevin had originally come up with, back when the two of them first lived together. On his difficult days, Tony sometimes treated those bloody rules like they were the only thing holding him steady, and he would even speak of feeling frightened one of his lovers would lash out at him in anger. Neil took a quick deep breath, struggling to unclench his jaw.

He hated Tony’s bad days. Neil did everything he could to make them better, and fewer. The bad days took a toll on Tony, Neil, and, most especially, Kevin.

Neil’s anger had nothing to do with Kevin, the rules, or the gentle, lumbering oaf who became a surrealistic, graceful work of art in his own right when a smile lit his face or one of his passions consumed him.

Painting.

Kevin.

And lately–Neil fought to keep his grin of delight tucked inside lest Tony misinterpret the expression–Neil himself. The smile escaped. Tony gave a faint answering smile, and Neil’s heart clenched.

Neil thought the three of them would have found each other even if Tony hadn’t needed a third partner to feel safe. The process would have likely taken longer and Neil had long since given up trying to decide if he were more happy they had found each other quickly or sad about the events leading to their finding one another. Neil leaned back in his chair, carefully placing his pen down, and addressed Tony’s question about the door.

“Sure Tony. You can shut the door.”

Tony spun around, peered into the hall cautiously, and then eased the door shut. He strode back to the desk, leaned down and spoke in a hushed voice.

“Kevin thinks Santa’s real, Neil. Santa. Do youse think maybe he’s been dippin’ into the medicine at work?”

Neil’s eyes widened. He bit back a rueful laugh.

“Tony. Er, what makes you think Kevin believes in Santa?”

Tony stood up, put his hands on his hips and cocked his head to one side.

“We was fucking in the kitchen. On account of he came in to get his dinner together for work today looking especially good. Youse know how he rolls outta bed sometimes looking like he just got done real good? Yeah, so that’s how he was looking. And he came in all slow and needing coffee and bent down over the table.”

Tony paused there. He scrunched his nose up, and patted his chest.

“I’d been paintin’ in the studio, cause if I don’t get the oil paintin’ I’m working on of the tree out back done before the leaves finish changing–well. Youse understand. The reds might not be the same next time.”

Neil nodded.

Tony scratched at his cheek.

“So, anyways, I can just stand so much. I came in to get a cuppa joe, and there he was all sleepy an’ fuckable.”

Tony shrugged, a dreamy little smile flitting across his face.

“Anyways, Neil, when we was done, he was all outta breath an’ looked even better than when we’se started, an’ I told him I knew just what I wanted from Santa.”

Tony shook his head. He waved one hand above his head.

Neil’s smile grew broader. He loved the way Tony used his hands to talk.

“Kev got this real anty look on his face, Neil. Youse know, like he was carrying somethin’ heavier than he is, like the time you and me saw the documentary ‘bout ants on Animal Planet? So then he told me I’d been real good so Santa was sure to bring me what I was wantin’. He spoke all serious like, and then he took off for the shower.”

Tony worried one corner of his bottom lip with his strong white teeth.

“I don’t think this is good, Neil. Kevin’s too old to believe in a real live actual Santa Claus.”

Neil snorted.

Kevin kept getting tangled up in worrying so much about Tony’s brain injury he treated the big Italian like a child.

A situation that did favors for none of them.

Tony continued to speak.

“Yeah, Neil, that’s just what I thought, too. It don’t make no kinda sense for a smarty like Kevin to still think Santa’s real.”

Tony’s thick black brows rose as high as they could go.

Neil fought down the desire to find Kevin and ask what the hell he was thinking. Tony was a grown man, and Kevin was needlessly worrying the shit out of him. Neil cleared his throat.

“Tony, what do you think we should do about this situation?”

Buy it here.

Holiday Recipe Extravaganza – Augusta Li

Dec 17, 2011 Filed under: guest blogger, holiday, Holiday Recipe Extravaganza, m/m, recipes, sweet treats

Hi Silvia! My name is Augusta Li (Gus), author of Wisp and White Hart, part of the Dreaming of a White Christmas anthology at Silver Publishing. Among other things, Wisp and White Hart is the story of two young men, Dust and Elijah, who are estranged from their families and are all each other have. They find their way to an inn in rural Yorkshire on Christmas Eve, and decide to start their own holiday traditions, including a delicious regional meal. Elijah, a former cook, wishes he could prepare a holiday dinner for his partner. He misses cooking and baking cookies. So, in the spirit of family and tradition, here is the recipe for my grandmother’s almond cookies. Read on for an excerpt from the book!

Chinese Almond Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 3/4 cup white sugar (can add up to 2 more tablespoons, if desired)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 1/4 pound whole, blanched almonds (one for each cookie)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

 

1.Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit (162.5 degrees Celsius).
2.In a large bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a medium bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the butter or margarine, shortening, and sugar. Add the egg and almond extract and beat until well blended. Add to the flour mixture and mix well. Note: The dough will be crumbly at this point, but don’t worry – that is what it’s supposed to be like.
3. Use your fingers to form the mixture into a dough, and then form the dough into 2 rolls or logs that are 10 to 12 inches long. Wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours (this will make it easier to shape the dough into circles).
4. Take a log and lightly score the dough at 3/4 inch intervals so that you have 15 pieces and cut the dough. Roll each piece into a ball and place on a lightly greased cookie tray, approximately 1 1/2 inches apart. Place an almond in the center of each cookie and press down lightly. Repeat with the remaining dough.
5. Brush each cookie lightly with beaten egg before baking. Bake for 15 minutes to 18 minutes, until golden brown. Cool and store in a sealed container.

 

Wisp and White Heart by Augusta Li

Available December 20th from Silver Publishing

Being stranded in rural Yorkshire on Christmas Eve offers Elijah and Dust a romantic vacation from their dangerous work, until a strange man with unfathomable motives appears in need of their assistance.

Excerpt:

A waning, gibbous moon peeked from behind the thick mantle of snow clouds now and then, accentuating a jut of limestone, the crumbling ruin of a Roman wall, or just a gentle knoll or valley. Fat flakes of snow spiraled lazily down, gradually covering more and more of the Yorkshire landscape. A mottled gray sky stretched toward the horizon, making Elijah Tupper feel that the thirty year old pickup in which they rode was driving toward the edge of the world. He didn’t feel uneasy, only humbled. For the last several hours, he’d watched in wonder as the rugged beauty of the Wolds and Dales rolled past. The arched ruins of medieval abbeys and priories stood black against the luminous expanse of clouds. Stretches of woods cropped up and faded back into the moor, and waterfalls rushed down tiers of stone before foaming into plumes of white mist at the bottoms. Elijah rested his temple against the passenger window and watched the austere, monochromatic vista. Snowflakes dissolved into shimmering droplets where they hit the glass.

Beside him, Elijah’s partner Dust looked sleepily through the windshield. An old Yorkshire man in a knitted hat and leather gloves drove the truck. Mr Thomas Whipple had been kind enough to stop when he’d seen the two young men wandering through the inhospitable Dales. He had jowls like a bull dog and eyes perpetually squinted from decades of wind and sun. He was a man of few words, but had offered to give the two men a ride to the nearest village on the way to his farm. He smelled of dried alfalfa and the lanolin from his sheep. None of the three men said much as the old pickup, low on its axles due to the many sacks of grain in its bed, bounced along the rocky paths.

Though he and Dust had spent some time in London, and recently in Leeds, Elijah had never been so far north before. Beneath the snow, limestone, and chalk, Elijah felt a strong but dormant current of magic, like an underground stream. Remnants of Roman sorcery and medieval enchantment braided with the ancient power inherent in the northern land to form a mystic mélange that Elijah felt humming in his bones and teeth. He knew that Dust, a fellow magic-user, sensed the same enchantment.

A few weeks before, a wealthy family in Leeds had hired the two enchanters to investigate their son’s fiancée, a beautiful North African princess. It hadn’t taken long for Elijah and Dust to realize the princess was an ifrit, a desert spirit similar to a djinn. They’d prepared spells to force the creature into its true form and bind it. They hadn’t anticipated for the young man to admit his knowledge of his beloved’s nature, nor for the epic fight that ensued during a dinner party. The two young men had defeated the ifrit and the spirits it summoned, but not without destroying the eastern wing of the family’s ancestral home. Glass and limestone had rained to the street below. The fire that started had quickly spread through the house and to the nearby buildings. Inevitably, the authorities had arrived: fire trucks, ambulances, and an army of police. Elijah and Dust, rather than answer difficult questions, fled the scene. Elijah stole an Austin-Healey Sprite and they drove it into the Dales until it ran out of gas. The snow had started right around then, and they’d continued on foot until Mr Whipple had been kind enough to stop.

They’d left their bags, with all their extra clothing and possessions, behind. Luckily, Elijah had the enchanted katana he’d acquired during his first adventure with Dust, and he knew Dust had at least a few days worth of money in his pocket. Since it was Christmas Eve, it would be some time before they could access any of their accounts.

The old pickup crested a hill and slowly descended into a valley, where around thirty small buildings stood nestled between two high, steep knolls. They huddled around the single, dirt road that ran through the village. Mr Whipple stopped in front of a white-washed structure with a thatched roof and a shingle that read The White Hart Inn and Public House.

“I’ll leave you lads off here, then,” he said in a gruff but friendly voice. Dust shook the man’s hand and offered him a few pounds, which he declined.

“Thank you so much, Mr Whipple,” Elijah said as he stepped into the snow with the brown sack of groceries he’d purchased when they’d stopped at a small market after the Sprite ran out of fuel. He’d been it carrying for miles when Mr Whipple showed them charity. “Have a Merry Christmas.”

“Same to you, lads,” the man said before he shut the passenger door and drove off, his tires leaving gray ruts in the otherwise virgin snow. When he’d gone, the village was so silent Elijah swore he could hear the fall of the flakes on the old buildings. If magic had run like rivulets beneath the rest of the landscape, beneath this small town it pooled in a vast reservoir. Elijah felt it purr and pulsate beneath his sneakers, the power tingling up his legs. He looked at the pub. An inviting light spilled from its windows of beveled, amber glass.

“This is probably the only place in town,” he said to Dust. Melting snow sparkled on Dust’s black hair and thick eyelashes, and the cold had nipped his golden cheeks dark red. Elijah squeezed Dust’s wrist. “Let’s go inside. I’m hungry.”

“Me too,” Dust agreed, opening the two dark, wooden doors and holding one for Elijah. The White Hart’s interior was warm and cheery, lit by old wall sconces and a healthy fire in the stone hearth. Dark paneling, similar to the wood of the doors, covered the walls and floor. Ivy, holly, and red tapers decorated the tables, and evergreen wreaths with red velvet bows adorned the walls. A large, L-shaped bar stood at the back of the room, though no patrons occupied the wooden stools around it. The glasses and bottles of liquor twinkled, and a savory smell drifted from the kitchens beyond. Dust inhaled deeply and smiled before he approached the elderly couple drying pint glasses together.

“Good evening,” he said, as Elijah stood a few feet back. “Are you the proprietors?”

“Aye,” said the gentleman, eying them with a bit of suspicion.

Elijah knew how they looked. Dust’s long, black hair was pulled back in a ponytail, though a few loose strands clung to his damp cheek, and his light, silver eyes looked out of place on his dark, Asian-featured face. Often people sensed Dust’s otherworldly nature and felt uncomfortable. Elijah imagined he probably looked a little rough himself, with his unruly, blond hair hanging to his shoulders beneath his heather-blue, knitted cap with the pom-pom and two days worth of stubble on his face. He remembered the elaborate sword he wore on his back. Also, their American accents marked them as outsiders. Luckily, Dust knew how to charm and manipulate people when he needed to: he’d had centuries of practice after all. If all else failed, Dust could employ a simple charm to gain the trust of the pub owners. Slipping his hat off and sticking it in his coat pocket, Elijah left Dust to it and found a table close to the fire. He observed the old tin signs that decorated the walls and the porcelain angels on the mantle as he listened half-heartedly to the exchange.

The Hart had three rooms to rent, and since there were no other guests, Elijah and Dust would have the best. The man poured two ales and gave Dust a key while his wife went to prepare some supper for her young guests. Dust brought the drinks to the table and sat down across from Elijah. He looked around at the stuffed animal heads: stags, boars, foxes, and wildcats mounted on wooden plaques. “This isn’t too bad,” he said with a smile. “It’ll be like an adventure.”

“It’s kind of romantic,” Elijah agreed, sipping the foam from his ale and looking at his partner’s face in the low, golden light. He liked the content smile on Dust’s full lips, liked that he saw it more and more lately. “At least we’re safe. Those were some bad times back in Leeds.”

“Yeah. We couldn’t have known.”

Taking another deep gulp from his glass, Elijah said, “Did we do the right thing, killing the ifrit?”

“It was self-defense by then,” Dust assured, draping his hand over Elijah’s knuckles. “She would have killed us.”

“But she loved that man, and he loved her…”

“He claimed to,” Dust corrected. “He might have been under a powerful spell.”

“Or he might not,” Elijah said. “We didn’t know for sure. People used to think you put a spell on me. It’s not impossible that they actually loved each other.”

“It’s improbable,” Dust said. “Creatures like that are masters of manipulating human emotions. I’m sure we did him a favor. We probably freed him from her thrall. I didn’t sense any authentic emotion.”

Though he nodded, Elijah recalled the young man’s grief. He couldn’t help imagining how it would feel to lose Dust. It scared him more than anything, more than death itself. He hated to think he’d caused anyone else that pain.

 

*****

 

Also check out these other books in the Ensorcelled series, featuring Elijah and Dust:

 

Epiphany- Ensorcelled #1
The Midnight Children- Ensorcelled #1.1
Wisp and White Hart- Ensorcelled #1.2

 

Thanks so much for having me, Silvia. It’s been a pleasure. I wish you and all of your readers prosperity and good fortune in the new year!

 

Holiday Recipe Extravaganza – Ellis Carrington

Dec 16, 2011 Filed under: guest blogger, holiday, Holiday Recipe Extravaganza, m/m, recipes, sweet treats

Cozy up this holiday season with a couple of mugs of sweet & spicy Mexican hot cocoa, and the hot heroes of Amor Prohibido.

Simple Mexican Hot Cocoa (adapted from allrecipes.com)

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons instant hot chocolate mix
  • 1 tablespoon chocolate syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 pinch chili powder
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup boiling water

 

Directions

In a large mug, mix the hot chocolate mix, chocolate syrup, cinnamon, and chili powder. Pour in the milk. Add the boiling water and stir. You may need to play with the water/milk ratio to get it just right. Enjoy!

 

About Amor Prohibido:

Jacob Freehan has no job, no man, and no motivation. In pain both from ending a long-term abusive relationship and a severe back injury, he escapes to the sunny seaside town of Puerto Morelos for a little yoga, a little R&R, and possibly a place to quietly end his own life.

Pakal is a centuries-old immortal Mayan spirit guide who has been charged with getting Jacob on the path toward healing. Romantic involvement with a spirit charge is strictly forbidden, and it has never been a problem…until now. Pakal sees something special in Jacob, but failure to keep a rapidly growing attraction at bay could result in Jacob losing his life and Pakal being condemned to the Underworld forever…

Excerpt:

“Uh, yeah. Hi. Pakal, right?” As if he didn’t remember. Just like he remembered the hills and valleys of the large man’s muscular arms, the golden glow of the sun as it shimmered on his chest. The strong grip with which the man had shaken Jacob’s hand. He had, in fact, remembered it the night before in his dreams, and again that morning in the shower.

Pakal nodded and grasped Jacob’s injured leg without any pause to request permission. “Let me look at this,” he murmured.

Ah, damn. Pakal’s hands were warm, firm, and alarmingly reassuring as they massaged the muscles around Jacob’s aching knee. And then…there was that strange pulse again, strongest at the points where Pakal’s hand touched Jacob’s skin.

Though it had been a little startling at first, the sensation wasn’t at all unpleasant. It reminded Jacob of walking into a large dance club and feeling his body throb along with the bass line of his favorite music. He had an inexplicable urge to place a hand over Pakal’s bare chest, to see if it was the larger man’s heartbeat that Jacob’s body was vibing with.

Amor Prohibido is available from Amber Allure and Amazon. Also check out Goodreads for Ellis’s free short story, Yes, Sir. Find out more at EllisCarrington.com, Ellis’s author page on Facebook, or on Twitter @MMbyEllis.



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