Thursday, February 22, 2018

An excerpt from The California Dashwoods - coming in May

Back in 2016 (?) I got an email from the awesome team at Riptide, asking me if I wanted to be a part of their Classics Queered series, and, if so, which Austin novel did I want to rewrite? And my answer, no question, was Sense and Sensibility. I know that a lot of other people prefer Pride and Prejudice, but for some reason Sense and Sensibility has always resonated more for me. My sister and I argue about this all the time--yes, we're literature nerds. So I was so, so happy to be given the chance to tackle Sense and Sensibility, and put a new twist on a favourite classic. 

The Dashwoods in the 1995 movie - mine are a little different!

The California Dashwoods, my take on a modern Sense and Sensibility, is due out on May 28 -- and I'll be sharing preorder links and cover art as soon as I get them! For now though, since I've finished line edits, I thought this would be a perfect time to share an excerpt! 

In this scene, Abby (Mrs. Dashwood) and Elliott (Elinor in the original) are figuring out where they can go once Abby's terrible in-laws through them out of Norland Park: 

“Do you remember John?” Abby asked. “Not John John. My cousin John.”
Elliott sucked jam off his finger. “John in California?”
“He lives in a little town called Barton Lake. He has a store there. It’s where I met your father, actually. He and the Family were there for the summer, and they wanted an au pair for John. John John, not cousin John. I thought, well, I can make more money looking after some spoiled little snot-nosed rich-kid brat than I can doing chalk drawings on the pavement, and—” She cut herself off with a laugh. “And the rest is history.”
Elliott saw the moment her expression shifted from gentle grief into something sharper. He reached out and caught her hand. “Cousin John?” he prompted.
Abby shook herself. “He emailed me last night. He’s got an apartment above his store that he’s happy to let us have. And, if we work a few shifts in the store, he’ll let us have it rent-free. Utilities only. It’s two bedrooms, so it’s going to be a squeeze, but we’ll find a way to make it work, won’t we?”
Four of them in a two-bedroom apartment sounded like a disaster, actually. Abby and Marianne, despite being two peas in a pod—or perhaps because of it—locked horns a lot, and Greta was at the age where she needed her own space to storm off to. It wasn’t ideal, but it was a hell of a lot better than the prospect of living in the car. And it was a starting point, right? A roof over their heads while they figured out their next move.
“What’s the catch?” Elliott asked.
Abby smiled at him and squeezed his hand. “There’s no catch, baby. This is what families do.” She raised her eyebrows. “Well, families that aren’t the Dashwoods.”
Elliott quirked his mouth in a wry smile.
That was certainly true. The Dashwood Family was less like a family and more like a corporation. He wondered what Alexander Dashwood, flying his kites and dreaming his dreams, would have thought about the true legacy he’d left. A legacy of lawyers at every family gathering, of board meetings instead of birthdays, and of looping signatures on contracts instead of Christmas cards. A legacy of scheming sycophants who relied on the family trust for income and spent their lives cozying up to the trustees—Cynthia and Great Uncle Montgomery among them—to keep the money coming.
The Dashwoods really were so awful that it was as easy to reject them on an emotional level as it was to be rejected by them. Practically though . . . Well, enough money to get the girls through school and college would be nice. Elliott just needed to convince John to make that happen somehow. John was under no legal obligation—the Family lawyers had made sure that Abby and her children were in line for absolutely nothing—but John wasn’t as bad as the rest of them. John was their brother. Except there was also no guarantee that John would have any influence with the rest of the Family.
Elliott thought of the space above the fireplace where the Naked Blue Lady had hung.
“California might be nice,” he said at last, when what he really meant was that California might be necessary.
Abby smiled and squeezed his hand again.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Coming Soon: The Preacher's Son

J.A. Rock and I have a new book coming out this month: The Preacher's Son. It starts off with a quite dark premise--betrayal--and then focuses on the journey back from that towards a relationship built on healing and on hope. It's definitely one of our more emotionally weighty books, and we hope that you like it. 

Jason Bannon is a wreck. His leg’s been blown to hell in Afghanistan, his boyfriend just left him and took the dog, and now he’s back in his hometown of Pinehurst, Washington, a place that holds nothing but wretched memories…and Nathan Tull. Nathan Tull, whose life Jason ruined. Nathan Tull, who will never believe Jason did what he did for a greater good. Nathan Tull, whose reverend father runs a gay conversion therapy camp that Jason once sought to bring down—at any cost.

Nathan Tull is trying to live a quiet life. Four years ago, when Nate was a prospective student visiting UW Tacoma, his world collapsed when senior Jason Bannon slept with him, filmed it, and put the footage online. A painful public outing and a crisis of faith later, Nate has finally begun to heal. Cured of the “phantoms” that plagued him for years, he now has a girlfriend, a counselor job at his dad’s camp, and the constant, loving support of his father.

But when he learns Jason is back in town, his carefully constructed identity begins to crumble. As desperate to reconcile his love for God with his attraction to men as Jason is to make sense of the damage he’s done, Nate finds himself walking a dangerous line. On one side lies the righteous life he committed himself to in the wake of his public humiliation. On the other is the sin he committed with Jason Bannon, and the phantoms that won’t let him be. But is there a path that can bridge those two worlds—where his faith and his identity as a gay man aren’t mutually exclusive?

And can he walk that path with the man who betrayed him?

You can preorder The Preacher's Son here at Amazon.

It will be available on January 16. 

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Mark Cooper and Brandon Mills are back!

For anyone wondering where Mark Cooper and Brandon Mills have got to, J.A. Rock and I were in the process of re-releasing them. And now they're back, and reminding us really, really loudly that it's about time we got to work on the third book in the series, right? 

Shut up, you guys, and go back to studying. That means you especially, Mark. We're sure you're failing every damn class. 

(Brandon, sweetie, you're doing just fine!) 

Mark Cooper is angry, homesick, and about to take his stepdad’s dubious advice and rush Prescott College’s biggest party fraternity, Alpha Delta Phi. Greek life is as foreign to Aussie transplant Mark as Pennsylvania’s snowstorms and bear sightings. So, when the fraternity extends Mark a bid, Mark vows to get himself kicked out by the end of pledge period. But then he’s drawn into Alpha Delt’s feud with a neighboring fraternity.

Studious Deacon Holt is disappointed to learn Mark’s pledging Alpha Delt, his fraternity Phi Sigma Kappa’s sworn enemy. Mark is too beautiful for Deacon to pass up an invitation for sex, but beyond sex, Deacon’s not sure. He wants a relationship, but a difficult family situation prevents him from pursuing anything beyond his studies.

Mark and Deacon’s affair heats up as the war between their fraternities escalates. They explore kinks they didn’t know they had while keeping their liaison a secret from their brothers. But what Romeo and Juliet didn’t teach these star-crossed lovers is how to move beyond sex and into a place where they share more than a bed. That’s something they’ll have to figure out on their own—if the friction between their houses, and between Mark and America, doesn’t tear them apart.

You can buy Mark Cooper versus America here at Amazon, or here at B&N. Links will be updated on my website as we get them! 

Smart, shy Prescott sophomore Brandon Mills is working hard to overcome his troubled past and be normal. Life at Prescott, and in his fraternity, Phi Sigma Kappa, is good. With the help of his friends Mark and Deacon, Brandon is slowly coming out of his shell. When he accidentally drenches a freshman in orange soda, though, he faces something he’s not ready for: a boy crushing on him.

Alex Kekoa pledges Phi Sig because it has everything he wants--a house full of nerds who won’t tease him for being smart, a dog, and Brandon Mills. Brandon is just the type of guy Alex needs to help fulfill his college ambition: losing his virginity. Except Alex doesn’t know that Brandon can’t stand to touch or be touched.

When Alex and Brandon are drafted onto the Phi Sig Academic Challenge team, they start spending time together. If there’s anyone who can help Brandon discover it feels good to touch and kiss, maybe it’s klutzy Alex with his cute glasses and his dinosaur obsession. But as the competition--and their relationship--heats up, Alex’s determination not to die a virgin clashes with Brandon’s vow of lifelong celibacy, forcing them to examine what’s truly important to each of them about love.

You can buy Brandon Mills versus the V-Card here at Amazon, or here at B&N

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Coming Soon: Two Man Station

I'm so excited to announce that I have a new release coming out in January 2018 from Riptide: 

Gio Valeri is a big city police officer who’s been transferred to the small outback town of Richmond with his professional reputation in tatters. His transfer is a punishment, and Gio just wants to keep his head down and survive the next two years. No more mistakes. No more complications.
Except Gio isn’t counting on Jason Quinn.
Jason Quinn, officer in charge of Richmond Station, is a single dad struggling with balancing the demands of shift work with the challenges of raising his son. The last thing he needs is a new senior constable with a history of destroying other people’s careers. But like it or not, Jason has to work with Gio.
In a remote two man station hours away from the next town, Gio and Jason have to learn to trust and rely on each another. Close quarters and a growing attraction mean that the lines between professional and personal are blurring. And even in Richmond, being a copper can be dangerous enough without risking their hearts as well.
You can pre-order Two Man Station from Riptide! 

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Henry, the Great Detective

Well, it's been six hundred years since I've updated the blog... whoops! So to hopefully get the ball rolling again, here's an old fic I found on my hard drive. It's years old, from way before I was published, and it probably shows. Nevertheless, I'm sharing it with everyone since what the hell else am I going to do with it? Enjoy! 

  Henry was always looking for an opportunity to show off his towering intellect, the problem being it wasn’t as towering as he imagined. For forty years he’d been a chartered accountant who enjoyed the occasional detective novel, but since retirement it had become an obsession for Henry. From Holmes to Hercule, Marlow to Marple, Henry knew them all backwards. 
     “For heaven’s sake, dear, you’re a retired accountant, not an epicure,” I murmured as he picked fussily over his dinner, a trait he’d inherited from Nero Wolfe. 
     Henry had become more finicky in everything since retirement. Things had to be just right, from the creases ironed into his trousers each morning, to the one and a half spoons of Splenda in his tea three times a day, to his slippers just so beside the bed each evening. I had the feeling that he was going to make this holiday, our first in years, absolute hell. 
     His seasickness didn’t help. We had hardly left Sydney Harbour before that struck. I had just unpacked and we were sitting down to our first cup of tea when Henry suddenly made a dash to the toilet. 
     “I don’t feel well,” he moaned from the u-bend. “Bea, I’m not well.” 
     “Henry, you’re seasick. Come and have a lie down and you’ll feel better.” 
     Henry, being irrepressible, rallied for dinner, and we were in the restaurant in plenty of time for him to start criticising the service, the food, and the size of the complimentary cocktail. 
     It was the first night of the cruise, and it was “Meet and Greet Evening” aboard the Pacific Sunset. We were at a table with five strangers: two holidaying couples and a crewmember, and Henry was drawing attention to himself already with his disapproving Wolfesque sighs over the lobster thermidor. 
     “And what do you do, Mr Willmott?” asked Dr Neumann, a pleasant young Austrian chap, and the ship’s medical officer. 
     “Call me Henry,” said Henry, beaming around the table. “I was an accountant, but my lovely wife Bea and I are here celebrating my retirement. Now I’m an amateur detective.” 
     Henry paused for effect. No one quite met his eye. 
     “Really? How very interesting,” managed Dr Neumann at last. 
     The young lady next to the doctor bravely soldiered on. “Um, hi, my name’s Julie Mason, and this is my husband Kevin. We’re on our honeymoon.” 
     They looked at one another adoringly for a moment, as young couples do before forty years of Where are my keys, Bea? and Have you ironed my pants, Bea? takes the shine off marriage. 
     The last couple wore Versace. They were both tanned and bleached in all the right places, and probably waxed and buffed as well. They were a matched pair, except fot the good fifteen or twenty years age difference. 
     “Hello, I’m Violet Cavill-Smith,” drawled the bejewelled woman from behind a puff of cigarillo smoke and at least three facelifts. She brushed a manicured hand over the young man’s cheek. “This is my Jet, my fiancĂ©.” 
     “Oooh!” exclaimed Julie. “You’re Veronica Saint-Just on Deadly Sins!” 
     Henry had been upstaged, but that didn’t stop him from contributing his usual claptrap for the rest of the meal. 
     “Motive, means and opportunity are the keys to solving any crime,” he pontificated. “Everyone from Sherlock Holmes to Philip Marlowe knew that!” 
     Poor Kevin Mason, who had never heard of Philip Marlowe, found himself on the receiving end of a twenty minute lecture. It was a relief for everybody when we had to skip dessert as Henry’s nausea resurfaced. Dr Neumann was kind enough to see us back to out cabin. 
     “I’m sure you’ll feel better in the morning,” he said. “If you don’t, my office is on B deck. Goodnight.” 
     “I don’t feel well, Bea,” Henry griped, but once sitting on our bed he shipped out his notebook and began scribbling away while I made our tea. 
     “Now really, Henry, can’t you put that away?” 
     Henry sipped his tea and looked smug. “I don’t suppose you noticed anything odd about that dinner, Bea, since you don’t have my mind, but I most certainly did! Would it surprise you to know that Jet, if that is his real name, is having an affair with Julie Mason?” 
     “Oh, Henry, leave it alone, won’t you?” I drank my tea in silence while Henry itched to display his powers of deduction, and finally relented. “Go on, then, how could you know that?” 
     “I have been studying lip reading,” Henry said. “During the man course I saw Julie Mason lean over to Jet and whisper Meet me later. How do you explain that?” 
     “Lip reading is not an exact science, Henry, especially if you’re a retired accountant.” I shook my head at him. “And I hardly think a girl on her honeymoon and a boy who is being kept in the lap of luxury by a soap star would risk it all on a fling. She’d lose her husband, and he’d lose his bankroll.” 
     Henry, being Henry, had an answer for everything. 
     “Whish is probably the reason Jet stole Violet Cavill-Smith’s ring!” Henry’s triumphant look wavered as his stomach rebelled. “Oooh, Bea, I’m not taking to the ocean at all!” 
     “Have some more sweet tea, Henry, and tell me about this ting theory. It will take your mind off the seasickness.” 
     “It’s not a theory, Bea,” Henry puffed, slurping his tea. “I have a mind like a steel trap. You’re not observant like me, so you wouldn’t have seen the pale band around her finger where she usually wears a thick ring. She seems like the sort of vain woman who would wear all her flashiest jewels to dinner, so why wasn’t she wearing her thickest ring tonight?” 
     “Maybe it fell down the sink,” I said. 
     But Henry was on a roll. “No, it’s far more likely it’s been stolen, and my money’s on Jet. He’s a real fancy man, Bea, a real player. A lady-killer! In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s planning on doing her in!” 
     “That’s quite a leap from a missing ring,” I said mildly. “Are you alright, dear? Do you need me to call Dr Neumann?” 
     “Ha! I’m not sure he’s even a real doctor. He certainly isn’t Austrian! Shall I tell you how I know?” Henry had gone quite grey while we spoke, and he clutched his stomach. “I wish we’d gone on the rail trip instead, but you wanted this cruise. I should have known better than to listen to you!” 
     “There, there, Henry,” I said soothingly. 
     He smiled grimly through his nausea. “Still, it has given me a chance to pit my keen intellect against this criminal plot. Motive, means and opportunity!” 
     I thought back to dinner. “But Henry, everyone seemed so nice. Are you sure, dear, that you aren’t just jumping to conclusions?” 
     “I suppose you think I’m just a silly old man!” Henry said indignantly. 

     “Yes, dear,” I answered, feeling a little sorry for him that he just wasn’t clever enough to figure it out in the end. “That’s why I poisoned your tea.”