Silvia Violet

Posts Tagged ‘gay romance’

Personal Entanglement now available in audio.

Jan 26, 2017 Filed under: BDSM, book release, contemporary Tags: , , , ,

Personal Entanglement is now available in audio narrated by the amazing Greg Boudreaux (aka Greg Tremblay) who voiced Thorne and Dash in Professional Distance. Grab it now at Audible or Amazon.

Revolutionary Temptation is available now!

Jan 17, 2017 Filed under: book release, m/m Tags: , , , , , , ,

Revolutionary TemptationIt’s release day for my first m/m historical, Revolutionary Temptation. You can buy it at Amazon, Payhip, iTunes, Smashwords, and Kobo. The print version is at Barnes and Noble and ebooks will be available there soon.

1777 New York City

The American colonists are fighting for their independence, but the battlefield is not the only place to wage war. When General Washington’s head of intelligence asks Captain Jack West to spy on the British in New York, Jack agrees, despite reservations about this ungentlemanly pursuit.

Jack’s contact in the city recruits bookshop owner Elias Ashfield, an impeccably dressed sensualist who flaunts his desire for both men and women and seeks a place in high society. Jack longs for a simple life guided by clear principles. Eli is a risk-taker who knows how to get what he wants. And he wants Jack in his bed.

Events in Jack’s past have made him fearful of acting on his secret craving for a man’s touch, but Eli intrigues Jack as much as he infuriates him. As Jack and Eli search for the information the rebel army needs, they realize there’s more between them than mere lust. But finding a way to be together may prove more difficult than defeating the British Empire.

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Lists Make Me Happy: M/M Books with Cops/FBI/PI

May 25, 2015 Filed under: book recommendation, contemporary, m/m Tags: , , , ,

catch_meThis is the second in a series of list posts. Check out the first here. These lists will include books I love and titles from my own catalog. I enjoy many romance subgenres depending on my mood. This week’s list consists of books with main characters who are private investigators. This is one of my favorite types of m/m so I’d love to hear suggestions for more.

fatal_shadows_2012Romano and Albright series by LB Gregg
The Plumber’s Mate series by JL Merrow
Cole McGinnis series by Rhys Ford
Adrien English Mysteries by Josh Lanyon
Whyborne and Griffin series by Jordan Hawk
Dino Martini Mysteries by Elle Parker

Embracing-Need-400x600Wes from my Wild R Farm series is a PI. He appears in several books but his story is told in Embracing Need (Book 3). Eventually I’d like to do a spin off series focusing on Wes (and his partner Tristan) investigating shapeshifter crimes.

Holiday Recipe Extravaganza – Deep Dark Chocolate Truffles

Dec 15, 2011 Filed under: book release, holiday, Holiday Recipe Extravaganza, m/m, recipes, sweet treats Tags: , , , , ,

I adore David Lebovitz. He’s a witty writer and a creative genius with baked goods. So it’s no surprise that when I imagine the truffles that Ben makes in One Kiss, I’m imagining something very similar to this recipe from Daivd Lebovitz’s The Great Book of Chocolate.

Deep Dark Chocolate Truffles

3/4 cup heavy cream

8-10 oz bittersweet or semisweet baking chocolate, chopped

1-3 tsp cognac or another liqueur you enjoy

Coating

4 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped

1/2 cup cocoa powder

Bring cream just to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate until melted. Stir in liqueur and transfer to a bowl. Let stand for two hours or until firm or chill in the fridge until firm and then allow it to warm slightly before using.

Use a melon baller to scoop the mixture into 3/4 in balls. Dip it in warm water before scooping to make scooping easier (You can use a soup spoon if you don’t have a melon baller.) Once all the mixture is scooped, roll the balls in your hands to smooth them.

Chill until firm.

Melt the 4oz of chocolate in a double boiler or very carefully in the microwave. Spread cocoa powder on a pie plate.

Now prepare to get a bit messy. (I like using my hands to make food. It adds to the sensual experience :))  Spread some of the melted chocolate in the palm of one hand. Roll one of the balls in the chocolate, keeping your other hand clean. Then drop the ball in the pie plate. Repeat until the pie plate is getting full. Then shake cocoa over the truffles on the plate. Shake them in a strainer to remove excess cocoa.

Serve them immediately or refrigerate for up to 10 days. Truffles make wonderful gifts as Ben knows well in One Kiss.

One Kiss by Silvia Violet

Jake Sanders comes home for Christmas after a dreary semester filled with sleepless nights and a cheating boyfriend. Finding a new man is the last thing on his mind until he discovers that Ben Swinburne now owns the bakery where they both once worked.

Five years ago, Jake and Ben shared a single kiss, and Jake has never forgotten the way Ben’s lips felt against his. When Ben catches Jake under the mistletoe, passion ignites between them.

This time around, Ben wants more than one kiss, but Jake isn’t sure he’s ready for another relationship. Can Jake move past his pain and open his heart, or will he miss out on a second chance with the man of his dreams?

For an excerpt and a sugar cookie recipe, click here.

Holiday Recipe Extravaganza – Sugar Cookies

Dec 11, 2011 Filed under: book release, contemporary, excerpts, holiday, Holiday Recipe Extravaganza, m/m, recipes, sweet treats Tags: , , ,

Today I’m celebrating the release of my Christmas story, One Kiss. When I decided to write a Christmas story back in the heat of summer, I knew I wanted to highlight the significance of family traditions. One thing I loved about Christmas as a child were all the holiday activities we did in the same way year after year. They were as comforting to me as a steaming mug of cocoa.

With that seed in my mind, Ben and Jake’s story began to take form. As I got to know Jake’s family, I gave them some of my own traditions, some plucked from the Christmas traditions of friends, and some I’d like to try to add into our already crazy holidays.

One thing I did every Christmas when I was a child was make sugar cookies with my grandma. We used a recipe that my great aunt, Leola, had given my grandma when my mom was young. The recipe, written in my great aunt’s scrawly handwriting on a small card, is still in use in my house today. It is simply titled Good Cookies.  Some years we dye the dough red and green as I usually did with my grandma and some years we leave it plain, but we always enjoy selecting the cookie cutters we want to use and decorating the cookies with lots of sprinkles.

Great Aunt Leola’s Good Cookies

1 cup butter

1.5 cups sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

3.5 cups flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

Preheat over to 350F. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix until combined. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together then add to butter mixture and stir until combined. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill for at least 3 hours. Then roll out dough, cut out cookies and bake until edges have a hint of brown, approximately 7 minutes. Cooking time will vary based on how thin you roll the dough.

One Kiss by Silvia Violet

Jake Sanders comes home for Christmas after a dreary semester filled with sleepless nights and a cheating boyfriend. Finding a new man is the last thing on his mind until he discovers that Ben Swinburne now owns the bakery where they both once worked.

Five years ago, Jake and Ben shared a single kiss, and Jake has never forgotten the way Ben’s lips felt against his. When Ben catches Jake under the mistletoe, passion ignites between them.

This time around, Ben wants more than one kiss, but Jake isn’t sure he’s ready for another relationship. Can Jake move past his pain and open his heart, or will he miss out on a second chance with the man of his dreams?

Excerpt

When I pulled into my parents’ driveway, I couldn’t help but smile at the crazy colored lights snaking along the roofline, outlining every window, and circling the porch columns. Strands of glittery reindeer lights covered the azaleas lining the front of the house, and bells tinkled in the breeze

My mom loved Christmas, and every year she sent my dad outside on the day after Thanksgiving with string after string of lights, admonishing him to cover every available space with them. I noted that this year, a bevy of penguins had joined the animatronic reindeer and polar bears on the lawn. I could imagine my dad shaking his head as he set them out. But making my mother happy made him happy. So no matter how much he grumbled about the decorations, he always did his best to turn our home into a winter wonderland.

It was good to be home. I’d been avoiding my family, using the excuse of my tough-as-hell vet school schedule, but really I’d been depressed ever since I got dumped by my cheating bastard of a boyfriend a few months ago. I wasn’t good company for anyone.

I grabbed my duffle bag and my laptop from the backseat and headed to the door smiling as one of the penguins greeted me with “Merry Christmas from Winterville”.

“Mom! I’m home!” I called as I pushed the door open.

“Jake!” She rushed from the kitchen wearing one of her Christmas aprons. This one was an appalling shade of green with little Santas all over it. She raced down the hall, and I gathered her up in a tight hug. Yep, it was good to be home.

I took a deep breath, drinking in the wonderful smells coming from the kitchen. “Chicken and dumplings?”

My mom smiled. “You know I always make your favorites when you come home.”

I gave her a kiss. “Thanks, Mom. Did you make chocolate cake too?”

She laughed. “That’s your sister’s treat, not that you won’t eat your share.”

“When will Lauren be here?” My sister and I had always been close and I regretted not calling her more in the last few months.

“Not for a few hours. Come on and put your things in your room.” My mom started up the stairs, and I followed, grinning at the greenery that circled the railing and imagining my dad complaining about the whole damn house smelling like a pine forest.

I slung my duffle bag on my old bed and set up my laptop as Mom chattered about old friends of mine who’d gotten married and former teachers who’d retired and other local tidbits. I was about to inquire about our plans for the next few days when she said, “You’ll never guess who bought Highland Bakery a few months ago.”

My heart sped up as it always did when I thought about the bakery. Remembering the years I’d worked there meant thinking about Ben, my high school crush. He was six years older than me, and he had refused to go out with me until I graduated. I’d counted the days waiting for my fantasies to come true. Then a few months before graduation he told me he’d finally saved up enough money for chef school. I was thrilled for him until I found out he’d be moving. We shared one amazing kiss that night. Just one kiss, but I’ve never forgotten the feel of his lips on mine.

“Marsha sold the place?” I asked as I untangled my laptop cord.

“I told you she was thinking about retiring.”

My heart beat even faster when I turned and saw that my mom had a look like she was up to something. “Who bought it?”

“Ben Swinburne.”

I had to force myself to swallow before I could respond. “Really?”

She smiled slyly. “Yes. He’d been working as a pastry chef at a restaurant in Atlanta, but he wanted his own place.”

I nodded. “He dreamed about that back when I knew him.” Lusted after him. Dreamed about him.

“You should go see him. You’ve got plenty of time before Lauren gets here.”

My heart pounded so hard I wondered if it could bruise my ribs. What was wrong with me? I hadn’t seen Ben in over five years, but the thought of him still made me feel like a confused eighteen-year-old. I hated myself for being such a fucking coward. I would have to face him sooner or later. I’d be home for over a week. No way would mom give up on the idea now. But I needed more time to prepare myself. “I don’t think so. I’d rather unpack, settle in.”

Mom frowned. “Are you sure? He’s made some renovations, and he’s very proud of the place. You should go see what he’s done. You were such good friends.”

Yep, she wasn’t going to let the idea go. “Another day maybe.”

Mom cocked her head to the side, studying me. That always meant trouble. “Were you more than friends?”‘

“Mom!” I groaned. “No.”

“Well, I think he’s a nice boy.” Boy? He would be nearly thirty now, and even in his early twenties Ben Swinburne had been no boy.

“Mom, are you trying to set me up?” I’m fortunate in my family’s acceptance of me. When I’d come out to them right before college my parents and sister had shown nothing but support. I shouldn’t resent my mom’s interference in my love life. She was only showing me the same consideration she gave my sister Lauren, but I really didn’t want to talk about guys with my mother.

Mom smiled, still looking devious. “Of course not. But Ben did ask about you.”

“He did?” My mom’s eyes twinkled. Damn, I sounded way too eager.

Buy it here.

 

Holiday Recipe Extravaganza – Triple Chocolate Cake

Dec 10, 2011 Filed under: bears, holiday, Holiday Recipe Extravaganza, m/m, men in uniform, paranormal, recipes, shapeshifter, sweet treats Tags: , , , , , ,

When I got married way back in 1996, a group of friends put together a cookbook for me of all their favorite recipes. I still use the cookbook regularly, and this recipe has probably been made more times than any other. This cake is sooooo crazy good – gooey, fudgy, and easy to make. If I need to quickly whip up a dessert to take somewhere this is what I make.

Triple Chocolate Cake

1 pkg Devil’s Food cake mix
1 pkg instant chocolate pudding
1 cup chocolate chips
8 oz sour cream
4 eggs
1/2c vegetable oil
1/2 c water

Stir cake mix and pudding mix together. Add other ingredients except chips. Stir until combined. Mix on high speed for 2 minutes. Sprinkle chocolate chips with flour (prevents them from sinking to bottom of pan as cake cooks) and mix them in on low speed. Pout into a bundt pan and bake according to cake box directions, but don’t expect the standard tooth pick test to work. This cake will still seem undercooked in the middle when it’s done.

I can just imagine Brandon from Paws on Me bringing this cake to a police department Christmas party, that is unless he gave Seth a taste of the batter and they never made it out of the house.

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:
“How’s your leg?” I mean to distract myself but as soon as I ask, I wish I hadn’t. I remember the feel of his thigh under my hand, hard muscles, soft flesh, coarse hair. So many textures to think about. Such a deep abiding need to lick and bite. Fuck. I can’t let him stay here.

“Better. By tomorrow I probably won’t feel much.”

“Good. I need to talk to you about the case. Maybe we should move to the living room.”

He looks so disappointed I almost change my mind, but I can’t let the longing in his eyes distract me. He sits up and swings his legs off the bed. The bandage catches on the sheet and rips loose, tearing away part of the scab and plenty of hair. “Shit!” he yells. Blood wells up and trickles down his leg.

Later, I can’t decide why I ran across the room. It wasn’t like he was going to bleed to death. Did my subconscious push me to make a move that would get us in bed together? Surely I understood where touching him again would lead. We reached for the bandage at the same time. My hand lay on his as we used pressure to stop the bleeding.

“That was dumb. I should have been more careful. I…” His words trail off. I look up. Our faces are inches apart. My heart pounds. I know how supremely stupid I would be to kiss him, but I can’t help it. His lips beg me to take a taste. I close the distance between us and swipe my tongue across his lips, savoring his woodsy flavor. “I need this,” I mumble against his lips.

“God, yes. So bad.” He opens his mouth, and we devour each other. I forget who I am, where I am. I forget that his leg is bleeding, and I’m supposed to be holding the bandage on. I sink to my knees between his legs and cup his face with my other hand, pulling him down so I can explore every inch of his mouth. I slide my tongue along his, growing more desperate for him every second. My hand tightens on his thigh, and he flinches, forcing me back to reality. I let go of him and sit back, breath coming in pants. “Fuck, this is so wrong.”

Brandon shakes his head and cups me under the chin, forcing me to look at him. “I don’t know if I’ve ever done anything this right.”

The intensity in his eyes scares me. I start to pull away. What am I doing? Wrecking everything I’ve worked for? I can’t fuck a man who’s involved in my case.

Brandon squeezes my arms, immobilizing me. “Stop thinking. Stop analyzing everything with that fucking cop’s brain. Just feel.”

I’m not used to being with anyone stronger than me. But I like the way he’s holding me, refusing to let me go. Having a man like him — young, hot, cool, seductive — wanting me goes to my head. He makes me forget all the rules, makes me let down barriers I’ve held in place my whole life. I can’t stop.

I kiss him again. My mouth is brutal in its assault. He could easily take control, but he opens to me, letting me have him my way. He tastes rich and smoky like a campfire, like fall. I suddenly want to do more than kiss and fuck him. I want to take him to my favorite restaurant, introduce him to the best coffee in the city, take him boating on the river. I want a fucking relationship.

The thought nearly frightens me into backing away, but he tastes and feels too damn good. I run my hands over his chest, enjoying the feel of his fur. I release his mouth and nibble his throat, his collarbone, his shoulder. I sink my teeth into one of his muscular pecs. He growls and pushes his hands into my hair, pressing my face against his chest. “More.”

I bite him again, harder this time, sucking at his flesh, wanting to mark him. He digs his fingers into my scalp, groaning and rubbing his body against mine. I circle his wrists with my hands as I lick at the bruise I made. He lets me pin his hands to the mattress and keep them there. I slide lower and rub my face against the thick hair covering the center of his chest, loving the feel of it brushing my face and catching in my beard. I take a deep breath of his musk.

Then I drop to my knees. “Don’t move.” I release his hands.

Buy it here.

Holiday Recipe Extravaganza – SJD Peterson

Dec 9, 2011 Filed under: guest blogger, holiday, Holiday Recipe Extravaganza, m/m, recipes, sweet treats Tags: , , , , , ,

Candy Cane Brownie Lollipops

Ingredients:

1 package (18-21 oz.) fudge brownie mix (plus ingredients to make brownies)
24 candy canes
10 oz. chocolate-flavored almond bark
Additional decorations, such as red jimmies (optional)
Directions:

Line sheet pan with a piece of parchment paper. Lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. Prepare brownie mix according to package directions. Pour batter into pan. Bake 30 minutes, or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs attached. Remove from oven to cooling rack, and cool for 20 minutes or until slightly warm.

Meanwhile, cut straight ends of candy canes off to form 4½-inch sticks. Place candy cane tops into resealable plastic bag, and crush into small pieces. Set aside.

Roll brownie into 24 smooth balls. You can use a coffee scoop or something like that to make them the same size. (I didn’t have a coffee scoop, so I just eyeballed it. As with my homemade candy canes, these are like snowflakes. Every one is different!) Then, insert candy cane sticks into centers of balls, mounding brownie around each stick.

Place almond bark into small bowl. Microwave according to package directions until smooth. (The microwave method didn’t work out so well for me, so I used the stove-top directions the second time around. Worked like a charm!) Spoon melted bark evenly over each ball, turning to coat completely.

Allow excess bark to drip off. Dip into reserved crushed candy canes or jimmies, and stand upright on a piece of parchment paper. Repeat with remaining almond bark, lollipops and crushed candy. Let stand until set.

You can place into miniature cupcake liners and wrap lollipops in cellophane, tie with ribbon and use as table décor, place cards, or take-home goodies for a special holiday touch. Yields 24 servings.

After eating the brownie, may I suggest enjoying the candy cane as much as Leon and Jase.

“He nearly fell over the edge when Leon suddenly produced a thick candy cane and began sucking it deep into his mouth, bringing it nearly all the way out, letting his tongue swirl around the edge before sucking it back between those lush lips.” from Leon
Leon
By SJD Peterson

After growing up poor in rural West Virginia, Jase McCoy doesn’t have a single good thought for Christmas… until he dreams of a mysterious stranger who follows him home and treats him to a night of magical passion designed to convince Jase of the joys possible in the holiday season.

Excerpt:

In Jase McCoy’s opinion, there was only one thing worse
than New York City during rush hour: New York City
during rush hour on Christmas Eve. Not that anyone
would ask his opinion. If they did, he’d admit that the
subzero temperatures, the ugly mud and oil-slick snow, and
the extra padding each New Yorker wore, making the already
crowded walkways nearly impassable, were just minor
inconveniences. What Jase really hated about this time of
year was the sorry homeless-looking Santas with their
missing teeth, dirty natural beards, and the stench of cheap
booze that rolled off them—or worse, the leering, over-jolly
fat men who got their rocks off by groping children. The
constant noise of Christmas music, mixed with the
screeching and crying of children and added to the constant
blinking of multicolored lights—it was enough for Jase to
want to rip out his hair and gouge out his eyes from their
sockets.
There wasn’t anything festive or jolly about this season.
He couldn’t bring to mind a single pleasant memory of
Christmases past. To him it wasn’t a goodwill or spreadcheer
time of year. More like, cuss, beg, go in debt, hate your
in-laws, spoil your brats, rush, fight lines, give-me-a fucking-
migraine time of year. The facts that the calls
coming into the complaint desk where he worked multiplied
by several numbers and the suicide rate went up
substantially during this time of year were proof that he
wasn’t the only one on the planet who hated Christmas.

Buy Leon here.

Holiday Recipe Extravaganza – Eric Arvin

Dec 8, 2011 Filed under: guest blogger, Holiday Recipe Extravaganza, m/m, recipes, sweet treats Tags: , , , , ,

HEAVENLY PENUCHE

1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup milk
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. corn syrup
2 tbsp. butter
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix first 5 ingredients. Cook until you can form a soft ball in a small amount of water but flattends when removed from water. Remove from heat and add butter. Cool mixture without stirring. Add vanilla, beat until thick.

To make chocolate fudge: use 2 cups white sugar and 1/3 cup cocoa (instead of brown sugar).

If you want a more peanut butter taste, instead of butter use 1/2 cup of peanut butter.

Woke Up in a Strange Place by Eric Arvin
BLURB

Joe wakes up in a barley field with no clothes, no memories, and no idea how he got there. Before he knows it, he’s off on the last great journey of his life. With his soul guide Baker and a charge to have courage from a mysterious, alluring, and somehow familiar Stranger, Joe sets off through a fantastical changing landscape to confront his past.

The quest is not without challenges. Joe’s past is not always an easy thing to relive, but if he wants to find peace-and reunite with the Stranger he is so strongly drawn to-he must continue on until the end, no matter how tempted he is to stop along the way.

EXCERPT

Prologue

“I CAN see heaven,” Lou said. He was holding Joe, cradling him in his arms as they lay on the nighttime beach. They combated the crisp breeze with warm sweaters and a tight embrace. The sound of the water beating the rocks and the shore soothed them.

“You can see past the clouds?” Joe asked, playing along.

They had spent the month traveling the coast of New England—the Gay Grand Tour. They had rested at B&Bs that had been recommended along the way. Their golden retriever, Spooner, had been left with Joe’s mother. They missed him terribly but needed the time alone.

Things had been strained lately. They needed to focus on each other again. Joe’s position as a book editor—mostly tomes on mythology and folklore—had taken up a lot of time. And Lou’s mother was a bit of a menace.

“Absolutely, I can see it,” Lou replied. “Just up there. It’s not so far.” He pointed to a vacant patch in the sky. “It’s just past that star you can see shining through that cloud clearing.”

Joe laughed comfortably. “You’re a silly man, Lou,” he said, snuggling into Lou’s chest, smelling his cologne.

“What would you do if I died?” Lou asked. His voice took on a slightly more serious tone.

The question took Joe aback. He raised his head from Lou’s chest and looked him in the eye. “What kind of question…? We’re too young to be talking like that.”
“We’re not too young. I just turned thirty. People die every day.”

“Well, not us,” Joe replied bluntly. Granted, they hadn’t been taking terribly good care of themselves lately—lots of take-out and an expired gym membership—but talking about dying just seemed odd. Like an insurance commercial. “We’re together forever. I’d go crazy without you. Absolute bonkers.”

“You’ve got more courage than that. You would survive.”

Joe didn’t say anything, but he knew Lou was wrong. He couldn’t think of a world without him. Not anymore. Not after all he’d been through, all the disappointments and searching.

“Would you wait for me?” Joe asked quietly, his head resting again on Lou’s strong chest.

“Where?”

“In heaven. Beyond the clouds and the stars. Would you wait for me?”

“It wouldn’t be heaven without you. Of course I’d wait. I’ll always wait for you, Joseph. Waiting for you, the anticipation, it’s what drives me. You’re my life-force.”

Joe sighed, tears in his eyes. “Smooth talker. You always know just what clichés to use.”

“Go to sleep, baby,” Lou whispered. “I’ll be here in the morning.”

A Beautiful Place to Get Lost

VARIOUS echoes. That was all he heard until he opened his eyes.

With a last snap of his synapses like lightning charging back to heaven, Joe found himself in another place altogether. The stale argument of biology versus spirituality became moot. In the end, none of it mattered. One wonders why there needed to be a right or wrong answer at all. Joe realized then that love had only ever been about content, not form.

It was a repositioning, a new form of situating himself. He was lying on his back in a summer field of barley now. How he had gotten there, he had no idea. Maybe the sky had dropped him. However it happened, he was lucid. Everything still felt real. Still felt… tangible. Stalks surrounded him. In the afterlife, most people wake up in fields of gold. This has been so since death began because it’s what most humans know of peace, beauty, and ease. He knew the feel of the barley as it scratched his skin; he smelled the fragrance of summer as it blew past him, over him; he tasted the sweet humidity; and he hummed with the lulling sound of honey bees making love to nearby wildflowers. There was a perceptible heaviness to the smell of the breeze, though. Like a frost was soon to set in. A few of the stalks were dead and fallen.

There was no discomfort in the barley’s touch. It was a pleasant itch, like a tickle. In fact, there was a tickling sensation to everything, an almost untamable giddiness. He heard a giggle issue forth from his own being as he lay on the golden blanket, stretching his arms and legs out to their full extent.

He could remember nothing of before, our hero. The last vestiges of imagery had become sepia, like a dream, clouded around the edges. His memory was receding like the tide. This accounted for his lack of frantic anxiety, for his complete acceptance of an otherwise absurd situation. Only he existed in the barley, free of caustic worries. The few dead barley stalks were interesting but not worrisome.

Memory? What was memory? Me-mo-ree. A strange word. A distant concept. Laughable. Lacking in description. For all he understood, the whole ball of existence was set above and around him and had always been barley and gorgeous sky.

There was only one thing he was certain of, and that was simply because the thought had attached itself to him so fiercely, like a stubborn root digging deep into the soil. His name was Joe.

Joe. Was that it? Three letters? J-O-E. Three tiny symbols of some ancient script signifying an existence. There was more, right? There had to be more. There must be strength and vitality and vigor wrapped up in those letters somehow, for he was of the barley now, of the very same fortitude and determination. He felt it inside.

Joe (as he remembered his own name with some glee) lay staring at the sky. It was different than what he thought a sky should look like. Not a single solitary shade, but multi-layered, like a cake. Like sweet eats streaked and decorated with purples and pinks and oranges.

He lounged and gazed upward, feeling no need to move. There was no urgent call to stand and appropriate a functional demeanor. He felt only the impulse to melt or sink into earth or sky.

He was not alone where he lay but could sense curious rodents and lisping reptiles passing around him. Yet he felt no fear or repugnance at the thought of them. They were of the barley as well. Everything was one.

A wisp of some sweet redolence wafted over him as he relaxed hidden in the tall, thin stalks of golden grass. It was familiar, like an echo.

The sound of something wading through the barley raised Joe’s curiosity. He rose to his knees, peering over the tips of the stalks as they swayed lazily.

He saw a figure. Another someone moving steadily through the grain waves. The barley flowed around the form as it slowly approached.

Soon, it became clear to Joe that this new form was that of a young man. He possessed a slender face, a strong nose and brow, a cleft chin, and dark black hair that blew with the wind at his bare shoulders. He looked tired. His face was pale, and dark circles marred his worried eyes. Farther behind the Stranger (and even more curious), almost like an afterthought demanding to be seen, was a golden retriever that leaped high enough into the air to see above the gorgeous field, ears flopping and tongue hanging loosely.

Joe got to his feet and waited for the young man with a rush of excitement, though it was a mystery as to why. He ran his hand over the top of the barley that flourished hip-high around him, the tips tickling his tender flesh.

“You’re here,” the young Stranger said, looking quite breathless. A hint of expectation lay in his expression. It was as if he wanted to tell Joe something urgent. The muscles in his jaw flexed and striated. It was a lovely jaw, one that might have been carved from stone.

“I’m here,” Joe repeated. “But where’s here?” Joe’s eyes were wide, keenly observant. His peculiar feeling of intimacy with this mysterious man grew as the Stranger spoke. Joe felt a closeness, a need for this individual. Potent desire had now supplanted his previous complacency. His very breath quickened in this new presence and matched that of the Stranger’s own.

“Here’s where you’re supposed to be.” The man smiled with a shrug. His tired eyes were misty and full of emotion.

“That’s a stupid thing to say.” Joe grinned. “But it’s nice. It’s really nice here.” He looked around at the flowing field of gold and the ecstatic canine in the distance, if only to keep from staring so obviously at every tiny detail of the Stranger’s face. What lovely eyes!

“Well, it’s been waiting a while for you.” The Stranger couldn’t seem to take his sad eyes from Joe.

“I know you,” Joe said, drawing closer through the barley. He recognized that the Stranger was naked, but then, he realized, he was too. He hadn’t noticed this fact before but felt no disgrace in it now. “Who are you?” he queried softly.

“You’re right,” the man smiled with slight mischief. “You know me. You know me very well, Joseph.” He stared at Joe, swallowing a lump in his throat. Again, that look of urgency, of some tale to be told.

Without thinking, Joe put his hand to the Stranger’s chest. He felt as if it were an altogether natural thing to do. He felt the warmth of skin, but there was no rhythm beneath it. There was no beat or cadence in the toned chest. Joe gasped as a sudden maverick echo shocked him like a jolt of electricity. The chill of grief and loss rippled through him, and the image of a towering structure appeared in his mind, a lighthouse from a distant memory. It lasted only for a moment, passing quickly, but it made him draw his hand away. The Stranger grabbed it gently. A soft breeze sprinkled over them, birds in the cake-like sky, butterflies in the field just above the flaxen waves.

The Stranger smiled again. Nostalgia. His eyes brilliant blue hints of past joys. Memory.

“I know you… who are you?” Joe choked out, all at once very moved.

“I have to go now, Joe,” the Stranger said as he let go of Joe’s hand. “I just had to see for myself if it was true. And it is: you’re really here.” With teary-eyed reluctance, he turned and began walking away. He appeared not to see the dog that bounded ahead of him.

“Please!” Joe shouted. In that moment, he felt the odd sensation of something being torn from him, something deeply cherished. “Where am I? Can I come with you?” He began trampling through the barley toward the Stranger. More of the stalks looked haggard and frostbitten.

The Stranger turned with a smile, a tear traveling slowly down his face. “You will. But it takes time. You’ve got to remember it all first.”

Joe felt that want, that painful need to be with this young man.

“I will be there when it all comes back, Joe. But it has to come back slowly, like these waves of gold.”

“And you’ll be waiting?” Joe knew he sounded desperate. But his desperation did not feel baseless.

“As long as it takes. You know I will,” the Stranger said as he lifted his hand to wave. “Have courage. Great courage.”

The horizon very quickly changed to a deep violet and seemed to draw itself around the young man like wrapping paper. His lovely form became a silhouette and then vanished altogether into the darkening air as if he had not been there at all. The golden retriever disappeared as well, with a reverberating call for play. The Stranger’s leaving brought the dusk.

Joe stood bewildered and shaken. A dim light shone on the stalks about him from the sky’s devastating moonlight. He felt he would cry, like a child ripped from the comfort of loving arms. He questioned what to do, looking about at the darkened field that now began to glitter with tiny bugs. It seemed colder now. That frost was settling in.

He perceived a penetrating restlessness in his core, a surge of ambition to get underway so that he might be with the Stranger once again. After all, he had said he would be waiting. This was no time to wallow in the tragedy of things lost. This was a time to begin a search for answers. Joe could not remain in the field. He had to walk on. And though there was no trail or path that he might follow, he placed one foot in front of the other and began.

His journey was now underway.

As he made his way through the violet night, his grief faded and was assuaged by the serenity he had first known lying in the tall grass. The tips of barley again brushed and tickled his hands, groin, and thighs as he walked. Every step he took gave him hope, though he was more aware than ever of the dead stalks.

Off on the horizon and high above him, indeed all around him, he saw thousands of glittering lights of all colors blinking and winking their way across the sky. Some left exuberant streaks to show their passage in the night; others were almost imperceptible. It was a hypnotizing show, and it delighted him.

Once he had decided to start walking, tokens of past experiences came more easily to him. Remembrances in little droplets, like dew forming on a leaf. He remembered now his dislike for ketchup but his love of hamburgers; his favorite color, green; and his favorite time of day, dusk. All of these tiny personal accents collecting now like little dewdrops finding their ways to the center of the leaf. And as he peered into the night, his earliest memories came back to him.

HIS very first memory was that of standing in front of his mother’s full-length bedroom mirror in his diaper. The mirror had a crack in the lower right corner that probably needed to be fixed, but she liked it there. It added character and strength, she had said once. A Dusty Springfield song played on the clock radio on the nightstand beside his mother Veronica’s bed. The smell of lasagna wafted in from the small kitchen; it was almost dinnertime.

The image in the mirror returned his awakening gaze. He was coming to a new understanding about himself. Something—some indefinable thing—was different about him. It was something his fresh, new mind could not yet comprehend.

From there, memories were whispered to him pleasantly and with ticklish fervor by the grains. Not always linear, a stream of consciousness swam through him, brushing past the banks of his mind. Even the mundane occurrences of toddlerhood were nothing less than amazing experiences at the time: his first trip to the zoo; playing on a Slip ’n’ Slide on the lawn (how the grass irritated his legs, but he didn’t really seem to care); a boy named Peter who would become Joe’s first great friend; and the amazement at a fuzzy bee and the sting of its betrayal. All of these memories glided around him like spirits in the night air, as if memory was an entity in and of itself.

There was one thought, though, one floating vision on the current that Joe remembered with particular enchantment. He was walking hand in hand with his mother down the busy street of their small hometown. Traffic was never much of a problem there except for the one weekend in the year when a chautauqua of the arts came to town. Handmade loveliness and foods that were not available for much of the year could be purchased for far more than they were worth. As Joe walked, smiling up at the beautiful Veronica who peered down at him with love, he made a game of trying not to step on the myriad of cracks on the concrete walkway.

Soon they stopped walking long enough for Veronica to look at a few odd trinkets and arts and crafts at an outdoor boutique. Joe looked around him in search of anything that would render itself up to his excitable mind. Right next to him stood another little boy whose mother, a very thin-looking thing (Joe thought she looked a bit mean, like a witch), also regarded the trinkets and doodads. Joe watched the boy intently and felt an immediate draw to the blue of his friendly, playful eyes. He held a vanilla-and-chocolate- swirl ice cream cone (which happened to be Joe’s favorite as well) that dripped in messy streams down his hand and forearm and onto the summertime sidewalk. Ants were already marching to the sticky substance.

It seemed to Joe that this messy little blue-eyed boy wanted to say something—either grunt or make some other attempt at communication. Nothing came, though. Neither of them said anything. They just stared at one another until the mean-looking woman looked down at the blue-eyed boy to let him know it was time to go. Joe raised his hand to wave goodbye. (At that age, the world is a small place, and it’s completely believable that everyone can see everyone else again just around the next corner.)

The little stranger took in the greeting, and then, having no real idea what to do with it, stuck out his tongue—not necessarily a spiteful gesture; it was just the only thing that occurred to him to do. At least, that was how Joe chose to interpret it.

“Louis!” the mean old woman said as she jerked the little one away.

Joe only stared after the two as they walked off. He’d see him again. Joe knew it even then. It was a small world, after all.

Buy Woke Up in a Strange Place here.

Learn more about Eric Arvin at his blog.

 

Holiday Recipe Extravaganza – Xavier Axelson

Dec 7, 2011 Filed under: guest blogger, holiday, Holiday Recipe Extravaganza, m/m, recipes, sweet treats Tags: , , ,

Muffin Royalty By Xavier Axelson

Just when I thought I couldn’t possibly write ANY more about The Birches.  Here I am.  Believe me, I’m as shocked as you are.  Maybe I should and could talk about muffins instead.  It’s the holidays and what’s better than big breakfasts during the decking of halls, fa-la-la-laing and jingling your bells?  I can’t think of one single thing.  Muffins do play a part in The Birches.  They pop up, more than once.  There is the promise of blackberry muffins using the berries Dock picks from nearby bushes and assures Leo he will indeed show him how to make said muffins.  But, and come on, is there really a bigger star in breakfast breads than the blueberry muffin?

It’s breakfast royalty, plain and simple.

So I’ve decided to share my favorite recipe for blue-blueberry muffins I found online years ago and have made a million times since.  Now, as the recipe states, these really do turn a “shocking” blue color.  Don’t be scared.  We all know with every recipe there is a moment when you think, “Am I doing this right?”  Well, this is that moment.  Be brave, I promise you will endure.

The blueberry muffin really is something special when eaten on the East Coast.  They do something truly special to the muffin.  They throw it on the grill.  If you have ever had a grilled blueberry muffin, I salute and congratulate you.  You know exactly what I am talking about when I describe the transforming magic that occurs when muffin meets buttered grill.

If you haven’t well, it’s something to look forward to and you can certainly attempt it at home.  I trust you.  In the meantime, read The Birches, make these muffins, and eat til you turn blue.  Very simple, very good, very blue.

I got the recipe off food.com and the person who posted it said it’s from the The Blueberry Murder Mystery by Joanne Fluke.

 

crumb topping

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Line muffin tin with paper liners.
  3. Melt butter.
  4. Mix sugar into melted butter and then add beaten eggs, baking powder and salt.
  5. Mix well.
  6. Place fresh/frozen blueberries in a bag with 1 tablespoon flour and toss until coated and set aside.
  7. Add 1 cup of flour and 1/4 cup of milk to sugar mixture.
  8. Mix well and then add last of flour and milk, again mixing well.
  9. Add blueberry pie filling (it will be blue).
  10. Fold in fresh/frozen blueberries.
  11. Fill muffin tins 3/4 way full and then set aside.
  12. -CrumbTopping- Mix flour and sugar together.
  13. Cut in butter and mix until crumbly.
  14. Place topping on top of muffins.
  15. Bake for 25-30 minutes.
  16. Cool on wire rack for 30 mins and then enjoy.

Read more here.

 

The Birches by Xavier Axelson

Blurb:

Perfection isn’t everything, although it’s everything Leo wants. His desire to become the perfect chef may keep him at the top of his class, but it drives his friends and family crazy while keeping love and passion on the back burner. That is until he meets Dock, owner and chef of the new and popular restaurant, The Birches. Although Dock isn’t a trained chef, Leo finds the food he cooks delectable and the man behind the food irresistible. The lessons taught at the hands of an untrained cook may be just what this uptight chef needs to let go.

Excerpt:

He pulled into the parking lot of The Birches and sat on his bike a minute. He felt nervous, like he was about to meet a celebrity and the self-doubt that plagued him made him queasy.

“You gonna sit outside or come in?”

Leo jumped at the sound of the man’s voice. He pulled his helmet off and looked around, but didn’t see anyone.

“Over here.”

Leo looked just past his left shoulder and saw a man emerging from the nearby woods that surrounded the little restaurant.

“Oh, hey,” Leo called out, his voice cracking.

“You looking for something to eat?” the man asked, coming closer.

Leo was shocked to find himself riveted to the spot, staring at the man who came towards him.

The man offered Leo a rough, calloused hand. “I’m Dock,”

“Hey,” Leo managed weakly.

“I was out back, picking blackberries, they grow wild around here.  I thought they’d make a great dessert. Don’t know what kind of dessert, but how can you go wrong when you have stuff like this?” He said as he offered up a large, wooden bucket half-full of dark, purple black berries.

There were purple smears across Dock’s white tank top that seemed barely able to contain Dock’s impressive chest. There were several brown freckles on Dock’s shoulders, next to where the strap of tank top clung to his body.

“Lucky berries,” Leo said under his breath.

“What?”

Sweat ran down Leo’s back, he felt so nervous. For a brief moment, he thought of hopping on his bike and taking off.  Instead he said, “Um, nothing, sorry, I just wanted to come by and–”

“You want to come inside and have an iced tea or something?” Dock asked, “It’s hot as hell out here and I know I need to cool off.” He swiped a hand across his face and left a smudge of blackberry juice across his cheek.

Leo’s heart was pounding, what was it about this place, this man?

“You coming?” Dock asked.

“Huh?”

Dock laughed, “You coming inside or you just gonna stare at the ground the rest of the day?”

Leo was still staring at the spot where Dock had been standing.  Something was happening inside his head.  He felt spellbound and excited.  He didn’t know where this sensation came from, all he knew was he wanted more of what he was feeling.  He followed Dock, who was still talking about black berries, the sun and something else that sounded perfect, into the restaurant.  When Dock stopped suddenly by a booth at the back of the restaurant, Leo almost crashed into him.

“Take a seat. I’ll be right back with some tea.” Dock said, a smile lingered on his lips.

He knows he makes me uncomfortable, Leo thought once Dock left and was sitting down. It was this realization that held him glued to the seat.  He wouldn’t give this man the satisfaction of getting the better of him.

“So, what’s your name?” Dock asked when he reappeared and set a jam jar full of iced tea in front of Leo, there were several blackberries floating in it along with some ice and a sprig of mint.

“Leo,” he replied, taking a sip of the tea.

“You know we’re closed, right?” A woman’s voice called from behind Dock’s perfect shoulders. Leo decided right then and there he would trade his ability to beat an egg for a chance to touch those shoulders and kiss the freckles that lived there.

What was he thinking?

He wasn’t thinking, that was just it, there was something about the place and, more noticeably, about this man that seemed to block Leo’s ability to think rationally. Where there was once thought, there was now an incredible amount of feeling. He was stunned into a stupor by this realization.

Buy The Birches at Seventh Window or at Amazon.

Where to find Xavier Axelson:

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Holiday Recipe Extravaganza – Lisa Worrall

Dec 6, 2011 Filed under: guest blogger, holiday, Holiday Recipe Extravaganza, m/m, recipes Tags: , , , ,

When Silvia asked me to provide a recipe for Christmas, there was only one thing that came straight to mind.  My Uncle Ken’s Yorkshire puddings.  They are legendary in our family, and no one has ever matched or surpassed them.  They are gorgeous covered in gravy with your Christmas dinner and he always cooked an extra batch for us kids to have later with jam (jelly to my American pals).

So here it is, the recipe for Uncle Ken’s Yorkshire puddings:-

Three cups of plain flour

Three eggs

¼ pint of full fat milk

¼ pint of cold water

Oil that the joint of meat is cooking in

Put the flour and eggs in a bowl and mix together roughly.  Then add the milk and water, and mix together until you have a batter of a nice thick consistency that will run off the spoon when you lift it up.  Place in fridge for two hours prior to cooking.

 

Take a bun tin (should make twelve or more, depending on the thickness you like) and put a teaspoon of oil from around the meat into each one, to cover the bottom.  Put on the top shelf of the oven until the oil is spitting nicely.  The key to good Yorkshires is the temperature of the oil, it has to be really hot.

Then place three desert spoons of mixture into each and put them on the top shelf of the oven on gas mark 7, um…. 220 degrees for thirty to thirty-five minutes until risen and golden brown.  Then shove into your mouth with reckless abandon 🙂

 

Excerpt from Mr Popsalos released by Silver on the 19 December 2011:

Pre-Order it now.

“Do you think his dad’s in Harry Potter?”

Luke looked up from his newspaper, a piece of raisin toast paused in mid-air on its way to his mouth, and raised an eyebrow at his six-year-old son. “Huh?” He wasn’t big on eloquence first thing in the morning, and the garbage truck had awoken him at the ass-crack of dawn.

“I said,” Reggie repeated with a roll of his big brown eyes. “His dad must be Harold in Harry Potter.”

“Hagrid,” Luke automatically corrected. “Whose dad?” He asked, folding his newspaper and giving his son his undivided attention. He had a feeling he was going to need all his little grey cells to decipher Reggie’s latest random statement.

“Mr Popsalos.”

“Mr Who?”

“Our new teacher helper,” Reggie huffed with all the patience of having to deal with someone of obviously limited intelligence.

“Mr Popsalos?” Luke repeated. He vaguely recalled the mention of a new assistant teacher and nodded sagely, as if he knew what the hell he was talking about. “Ah, yes, Mr Popsalos.” He scratched his chin and smiled softly. “I’m almost afraid to ask, but why do you think his dad is a giant?”

“Because he’s really, really big,” Reggie said in his best “duh” voice, as if Luke had just dribbled on himself. “You should write things down, Daddy.”

“Why?” Luke said, confused. He watched Reggie spoon more Cocoa Puffs into his mouth and crunch down on them, spraying little bits of toasted rice across the table as his son continued.

“Mrs Olsen said when you get old you forget things. She writes it down. So should you, or I can remember for you.” Reggie nodded happily to himself, taking a healthy slurp of his milk and leaving a white moustache on his upper lip.

Staring at Reggie for a few moments, his mouth hanging open in disbelief, Luke forced a smile onto his face and thanked his son for bowing to his great age and making allowances for his diminishing memory. Glancing up at the clock, he shoved the last bite of raisin toast into his mouth and carried his plate to the sink. “Dude, we gotta go. I’ve got a big presentation this morning and I need to get to work early. Do you have your shoes on?”

“Nope. What’s a—” he frowned “—restation?”

“Presentation.” Luke chuckled.

Reggie looked up at him for affirmation when he slipped his sneakers on, making sure he had them on the right feet. Luke gave him an encouraging nod.

“It’s when I have to stand up in front of a room full of people and try not to look like an idiot.”

“There’s a raisin in your teeth.”

Luke waited patiently while his six-year-old studied his face for further signs of idiocy. Then he flinched when Reggie sent up a war cry as he ran to put on his coat and grab his book bag from the peg. Don’t you just love it when they put you in your place?

“Okay, almost done.” Luke grinned, wrapping Reggie’s scarf around his neck and pulling the matching beanie onto the little boy’s head. He chuckled through their morning ritual of covering Reggie’s face with the beanie—Reggie complaining and Luke insisting that he looked better when you couldn’t see his face—ending with Reggie grabbing Luke’s beanie and doing the same to him.

“Right, in the car, little big man,” Luke urged, pulling open the door and shaking his head slowly when hurricane Reggie flew down the porch steps and sprinted to the car. The kid’s energy never ceased to amaze him. Locking the house behind them, Luke took the porch steps at a more sedate rate and opened the car, waiting for Reggie to climb in before he slid behind the wheel. “Okay… do we have everything? Book bag—check, lunch box—check, kid… aaah, I forgot the kid!”

Luke smiled to himself when the voice from the back deadpanned, “Daddy, I’m six.”

“Humor me,” Luke drawled, starting the engine. He pulled the car off the drive and eased into the steady stream of traffic heading towards downtown—then turned around and drove back to the house, running inside and grabbing the box of toys Reggie was donating to the Toys for Tots program. Luke groaned as he stowed the box in the trunk. He couldn’t believe it was only two weeks to Christmas. None of his shopping was done, and he still hadn’t booked the flight to his sister’s, not that Abbie would expect anything less than a last-minute panic attack from him anyway.

Climbing back behind the wheel and pulling off the drive for the second time, he sighed heavily and ran a hand through his hair. He’d planned to be mega-organized this year, but of course he had failed miserably again. Oh well, thank God for the Internet and express delivery.

When they arrived at the school, Luke parked in the closest space he could find and ushered Reggie out of the car. Checking they hadn’t left anything behind, he pressed the remote button on his key fob and grabbed Reggie’s hand. They trotted along the street and up the steps into the school, rushing to get out of the cold December air. Once inside, they walked quickly along the children-filled corridors, stopping outside the little boy’s bright red classroom door. Luke helped Reggie hang his coat up, unable to contain the smile when he saw the sprigs of mistletoe and strands of tinsel twined around each little peg. Making sure that his hat, gloves, and scarf were firmly secured in Reggie’s coat pockets, he dropped to his haunches.

“Okay, dude,” he said, lifting a hand and executing the handshake-fist-punch the two of them had perfected over the last three months—after a very serious six-year-old had declared that he was far too old to be kissed in public. As much as the statement had doubled him over like a knife had been plunged into his chest, Luke had swallowed his bruised pride, and the cool handshake they’d devised became the compromise he’d agreed to. “Now, don’t forget I’m going to be late tonight. Grandma is picking you up, and she’s staying over.”

“I won’t forget,” Reggie said indulgently, lifting a small hand to pat Luke’s cheek. “I’m not as old as you, remember?”

“Silly me,” Luke deadpanned, then stood up and ruffled the soft golden strands curling around Reggie’s ear, much to the boy’s disgust. “Have a good day and make sure you behave for Grandma. You’ll probably be asleep when I get home, so say your prayers and clean your teeth before bed, and I’ll see you in the morning.”

“‘Bye, Daddy!” Reggie yelled, opening the door of the classroom and throwing over his shoulder as an afterthought. “I’m gonna ask him if his dad is Harold!”

 



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