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Saturday, January 12, 2019

Professional Courtesy by J. V. Speyer


Professional Courtesy
J.V. Speyer
Publication date: December 21st 2018
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, LGBTQ+, Romance

This is the story of two college professors who share an office and not much else – until the holiday season works its magic.

Eric’s semester hasn’t been going all that well. Not only have renovations to the English Department’s physical space forced him to share an office with the department’s newest faculty member, Mike Kistler, his mother showed up at the beginning of the semester with all her worldly possessions and a U-Haul. It’s not that he doesn’t care for his mother, but she’s disruptive. She keeps wanting to honor traditions they never cared about when he was growing up, starting with the giant antique advent calendar she dragged over from her parents’ house in Hamburg.

Eric has a solution, though. He might not have much interest in his mom’s traditions, but his irritating office mate does. He’ll bring Kistler over, and his mom will have someone who cares, and someone to speak German with, and Eric will be left alone to grade papers in peace.

Mike is the rising star of the English Department. He’s worked damn hard to get from homeless teen to young PhD, he’s proud of his accomplishment, and he loves to give back. He likes his work. He could live without his office mate, who’s attractive but stuffier than an overfull burrito. He’s shocked when Eric invites him to help his mother celebrate Advent, but intrigued by the old traditions. And it’s been more than ten years since he’s had anything like a family to celebrate anything with, so he agrees.

Moving from a cramped office to a family setting shifts things for Eric and Mike, and they start to see each other through different eyes. Can they find love, or will old family issues keep them apart forever?

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EXCERPT:

“Hey,” he said in a feather-soft voice, one calculated to not wake Suzanne. “I wanted to say thanks for last night, but you were gone. Want me to make you breakfast instead?”

Eric could see, in Mike’s eyes, exactly how he’d wanted to thank him for last night. He could see the possibilities for the future stretching out in front of them. His chest hurt as he looked away. “Actually, I think they’ve gotten the roads clear. I’d better take you home.”

Eric heard Mike’s clothes rustle as his posture changed. He stood straighter. His whole body stiffened. Eric couldn’t make himself look at Mike’s beautiful face, but he heard the unmistakable chill in his voice when he said, “I see. Okay, then, let me grab my bag.” He moved swiftly and silently into the guest room to grab his things. A few moments later, he was back, his coat and shoes at the ready.

Eric bit his lip to keep from screaming. He had to do this. If he had to do it, why did it hurt so much? He grabbed his keys and his coat, and they headed over to the garage together in silence. Comm Ave was indeed clear, so Eric pulled out and got them onto the road.

“We shouldn’t have done that,” he said, once they were on their way toward Allston. “I enjoyed it. It might have the best night of my life. But we — I — shouldn’t have done it.”

Mike pressed his lips together. He stared straight out the windshield, without looking directly at Eric. Eric couldn’t tell if he was angry or hurt. He had every right to be either. “Well, we work together. So, I guess that makes sense.” He took a deep breath.

“That’s not it.” Eric gripped the steering wheel a little tighter. “It’s just… my mom. I know she’s nice to you and all that, but she’s never accepted my sexuality. When I came out they didn’t kick me out or anything, but they did tell me ‘not in our house.’ And this is her house now.”

“Okay.” Mike considered. “And you’ve made your choice. I’m not going to try to argue with you or change your mind. But it seems to me like your mother wasn’t very subtle about leaving us alone together last night.”

Eric choked on his own breath. “She didn’t mean it like that. Oh God. Not at all. Not even a little bit. I’ve known her a long time and her brain doesn’t work like that. She doesn’t think that way.” He fought down his nausea. It might have been nice if Mike at least tried to convince him to stick around, but Eric knew it would only be to flatter his ego. Eric didn’t deserve to have his ego puffed by anyone, least of all Mike. Not today.

“She’s your mom.” Mike turned his head to look out the window. His tone was resigned. “Thanks for everything, I guess. I’ll see you when the new semester starts up.”

“You’re not coming over next week?”

“Don’t you think that’s a little much to ask?”

“Yeah.” Eric slouched in his seat. “It is. Mike, I’m sorry. I really am. I just—”

Mike held up his hand. He looked exhausted. “Don’t. Please. Just… just don’t.”

“Okay.” Eric bowed his head and kept driving.

Mike’s street still hadn’t been plowed. It might not be plowed for days. Eric stopped the car at the end of his street and bit his lip again. “Is there someplace else I can take you, someplace you can go?”

Mike shook his head. “I’ll be fine. See you in January.” He hopped out of the car and climbed up onto the snowbank before Eric could argue. Eric couldn’t blame him. He’d want to get away as fast as he could too, if he were in the same position.

He drove home as quickly as he could. He hoped to get in before his mother got up, but she was already making breakfast by the time he walked in the door. She stared in surprise. “Eric, where did you go? I was just making breakfast for you and Michael! I’ve got bacon, and pancakes, and I’ve started the coffee. How late does he usually sleep?”

“I have no idea.” Eric hung his coat up. “He didn’t sleep very late today. I just dropped him off at home. He had papers he needed to correct. You know how it is.” His voice shocked him with its raspiness.

She stared at him for a moment. “I’m surprised he made you go out in all this. He seems like such a nice young man.”

“Oh, he didn’t ask me to. I noticed how nervous he was and I offered.” Eric squirmed. He hated lying to his mother. “It’s his first job as a professor, you know? He doesn’t want to feel like he’s slacking. I wasn’t much different.”

“I suppose.” She gave him a long, measuring look, and then she shrugged. “Well, this is a lot of bacon. I suppose we can use it in sandwiches, or quiches.”

Eric tried to choke down the breakfast his mother has gone to so much trouble for, but he couldn’t make much headway. When he’d done what he could, he excused himself and retreated to his room. There, he could indulge himself in a good cry.

He’d done the right thing. He knew he had. He just wished doing the right thing didn’t hurt so much.



Author Bio:

Want to get cocktail recipes, book updates, and craft beer notes from J. V.? Sign up here (http://eepurl.com/dtlwBH)!

J. V. Speyer has lived in upstate New York and rural Catalonia before making the greater Boston, Massachusetts area her permanent home. She has worked in archaeology, security, accountancy, finance, and non-profit management. She currently lives just south of Boston in a house old enough to remember when her town was a tavern community with a farming problem.

J. V. finds most of her inspiration from music. Her tastes run the gamut from traditional to industrial and back again. When not writing she can usually be found enjoying a baseball game or avoiding direct sunlight. She's learning to crochet so she can make blankets to fortify herself against the cold.

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A Trail of Honesty by J.A. Angelo


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Children's Book, Children's Social Issues
Published: October 2018

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Summertime is vacation time for the Angelino family, and the two Angelino boys are excited about their upcoming camping trip. They’re going to the local state park, where they can swim, go fishing, and look for wildlife!

Being on vacation doesn’t mean the boys have to be careful. An encounter with a sneezing deer provides their father with an opportunity to teach the boys about respecting wildlife and staying alert for danger. Knowing more about the park’s wildlife helps the boys have more fun while staying safe. They discover staying quiet and moving slowly makes it easier to see the animals and birds that call the park home.

At the camp, the boys have responsibilities like the rest of the family. When they neglect one of these responsibilities and lie about it, they wind up in trouble—and learn an important lesson.

Beautifully illustrated, A Trail of Honestyteaches children about honesty while explaining actions have consequences. J. A. Angelo’s delightful story is an ideal way for parents to use consequences to teach children how to be better people—not simply to punish them.


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About the Author

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United States Army veteran J.A. Angelo believes strong family values build strong families. J.A. and his wife enjoy volunteering in their local school district and are leaders in various non-profit organizations catering towards children. They also donate to various national and local charities to include the Apraxia Kids, Wounded Warrior Project, and the Coalition to Support America’s Heroes. A portion of the book proceeds will go to these great organizations to help children and support veterans and their families.

J.A. Angelo is originally from Zanesville, Ohio and currently resides in northern Virginia. He is a dad to three wonderful children – two daughters (16) and (10), and a son (7). He is also a devoted husband to his loving wife of 17 years. He is also the oldest of eight children – three brothers and four sisters. 

Some of our hobbies include spending time with our family, writing, donating time and materials to charities, and going to the beach.


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Friday, January 11, 2019

Third Strike by BJ Harvey

Title: Third Strike
Series: Chances #3
Interconnected Standalone - Final Book in Series
Author: BJ Harvey
Genre: Angsty Contemporary Romance
Release Date: January 9, 2018


Falling for your best friend's sister has never felt so bad yet so damn right.

From USA Today Bestselling author BJ Harvey comes the third and final standalone in the Chance series, this time it's the much anticipated story of Drew and Ashley.

***

I have a long history of acting first and thinking it through later. In fact, I'm the definition of a screw up.

Case in point - I’m having a baby with a woman I can’t stand, my ex is now my best friend’s wife, and I’m in love with a woman I can never have.

My biggest secret is falling for my best friend’s sister twelve years ago.

My biggest mistake is thinking I could live without her.

And now my biggest regret is the look on her face the moment I tell everyone I’m already married to the woman they hate most.









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You don’t want to hear about my drama,” she says, forlorn. There’s a twinge in my chest, not only from the dejection in her voice, but the vulnerability in her eyes. God, I wish I could bring myself to touch her.

“If it matters to you, why wouldn’t I?”

She tilts her head slightly, her eyes lifting to mine as if to see if I’m being sincere. “Because you’re you—a hot twenty-year-old college guy, staring up at the stars with more interesting things to talk about.”

“Hot?”

She narrows her eyes, a small curve of her bee-stung lips capturing my attention. “You know you’re hot. Don’t deny it.”

Even upset, with slightly smudged makeup and a tinge of sadness marring her features, she’s breathtaking in the dim light.

“C’mon, mini Ross. Spill it.”

She cocks a brow. “Does that work on my brother?”

I shrug, my smirk all the answer she needs.

We sit there, eyes locked, acting like we have all night. Her eyes widen slightly before she breaks my gaze and lies back on the lounger, moving her attention to the sky. I copy her and return to the stars as I wait for her to talk.

Whatever she says will determine whether I need to run to the guest suite to wake Millen and go on a douchebag ass-kicking rampage. And if, for some miracle, he wasn’t the cause of her tears, I can’t make it better if I don’t know what happened.

Where did that come from?

A few minutes of both of us lying there is all she needs to open up. “Everything was fine until after prom king and queen were announced,” she says quietly.

“You didn’t win?” If that’s the case, then the vote must’ve been rigged because, until tonight, I’d never seen a more worthy prom queen than the girl beside me. Poise, grace, confidence and goddamn gorgeous to boot. Any guy with a dick and any girl with a conscience should’ve voted for her.

She laughs, but there’s no feeling behind it, a hollow sound that belies the action entirely. “I did. So did Dane. Then we danced the first dance together, and it was everything a senior prom experience should be… until it wasn’t.”

I clench my fists at my side. “What happened, Ash…?” My voice is low and rough, edged with tension. I’m poised to act against anyone who did her wrong.

“I really don’t want to—”

I snap my head toward her. “Ash…” I near on growl.

She holds her hands up in surrender. “Alright, already. Down, Hulk.”

If it were any other time, I’d laugh at that.

“Let’s just say that although I was going to dump Dane, he decided to get in there first and do it by making out with Lisa in the girl’s bathroom, just as I walked in. Then he made a big show of leaving with her in the same damn limo he hired to take me in.”

That motherfucker.

Before I can respond, she keeps going, sitting up to face me and hitting her stride. “I mean, one of my best friends, really? That’s so fucking cliché, right? He wasn’t man enough to pick up his balls and tell me to my face that he was dumping me, so he decided to let his dick do the talking instead. What a fuck-nugget!” She’s whisper shouting by the end of her rant, and it takes everything in me not to smile—something I fail at the moment I mirror her sitting position and catch her own lips twitching. The more I fight it, the more her eyes shine. The longer I don’t say anything, the harder it is not to pull her into my arms and give the girl a hug.

What I definitely don’t tell her is that at my senior prom, I was the Dane in a very similar scenario, but only because I’d had half a hip flask of Jack in the limo before prom. And the Lisa in my situation was the sluttiest, most ruthless girl in school who had been cheating on my best friend at the time, so that was my way of saving him a whole lot of heartache down the line.

My methods may have been flawed, but my intentions were good. Nonetheless, things were never the same between him and me again.

“You’re not hurt about him; you’re more hurt by her,” I surmise, her tear-filled nod confirming it. “You deserve better, Ash.” I rise to my feet and fish my iPod out of my pocket. I scroll through the songs in my favorite playlist until I spot the perfect soundtrack for a moment like this.

An idea forming in my brain, I quickly scan the house to make sure it’s still dark. I may kick myself for this later, but all I want to do is make things better for her. No teenage girl needs to remember her senior prom and have it marred by the recollection of her best friend leaving with her boyfriend.

Meeting her eyes, I reach out my hand for hers. Her brows furrow adorably. Don’t think of her that way. She’s still Millen’s baby sister.

I push those thoughts aside and wiggle my fingers. “Stand up, Ash. Every girl needs a good memory to erase the bad, and I know just how to do it.”

***












BJ Harvey is the USA Today Bestselling Author of the Bliss Series. She regards herself as a smut peddler, suspense conjurer, and a funny romance thinker upper. An avid music fan, you will always find her singing some hit song badly and loving every minute of it. She’s a wife, a mom to two beautiful girls, and hails from what she considers as the best country in the world—New Zealand—although she currently lives in Perth, Australia.



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