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EXCERPT: Calamine & Christmas Cake by Lillian Francis #gayromance @lillianfrancis_

Cover designed by Lillian Francis at Finally Love Press

The Book

A romantic getaway at an all-inclusive boutique hotel over Christmas seems the perfect way for Glenn Trevor to celebrate the festive period with his boyfriend.

But he could have done without waking up on the first morning delirious and covered in spots. Abandoned by his boyfriend, Glenn’s only saving grace comes in the dynamic form of Bastian, the waiter assigned to attend his every whim, and who might just be an angel in disguise.

Bastian, has only two rules: always make the guests feel as comfortable as possible—not a problem with his innate nurturing disposition—and never ever get involved with a guest. But the quarantined guy in 210 needs someone to take care of him, and Bastian’s more than up for the challenge of making Glenn Trevor’s stay the best ever, even if he has to run himself ragged to do it.

If Bastian can learn to accept the same nurturing care he hands out so readily, and Glenn can get over the farce of his previous relationship, between them maybe they can make it the Christmas of Glenn’s dreams.

Word count: ~35, 500

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Excerpt

“Jesus Fucking Christ! What the fuck have you done to yourself?”

The shrill words tugged me from a troubled sleep, reverberating around my head despite the fact that my skull seemed to be stuffed with cotton wool.

Had I drunk that much last night? I felt as groggy as hell. I searched through clouded memories, but I could only recall a bottle of Peroni, left mostly untouched beside a half-eaten dinner.

“Glenn, I’m talking to you.”

A finger poked me in the arm, attacking a muscle that ached as though I’d been lifting weights all day. But I’d spent my day floating in the pool and doing leisurely lengths in a lopsided front crawl. The gym I left to my six-pack obsessed boyfriend. Who poked me again in that tender spot. I wanted to rub it until my skin bled. And wasn’t that a weird thought.

And I had left him, checking himself out in the mirror while I alternated between the water and stretching out on a sun lounger with my Kindle. Not that there had been much sun coming in through the glass of the pool house. Hardly a surprise since it was December in England.

Wasn’t it?

I couldn’t dredge up the date, or the day for that matter, but that was often the case once school broke up and I didn’t have to worry about classes and staff meetings.

Xander poked me again, his finger an irritant despite the duvet between the offending digit and my tortured flesh. I swatted away his attack and dislodged the duvet at the same time. Icy shards seemed to cut at my skin everywhere the air touched it. And despite the fact my body seemed to be boiling internally I had an almost desperate urge to tug the covers back up around me.

“OMG! You’re covered in it! Gross.”

Whatever sleep I’d been clinging on to was ripped away, as I was jerked to full wakefulness not by the harsh unfathomable words, but by the pitch and lurch of the bed as Xander scrambled away. His sudden move took most of the covers with him, leaving me totally exposed to the cool December air that made my skin tingle and itch. I scratched at a particularly annoying patch of skin at my hip and tried to unglue my eyelids enough to glare at my boyfriend.

He wavered into view but refused to properly focus. I suspected my glare lacked its normal power that regularly left 10-year-olds quaking in their non-school compliant trainers. Not that it mattered, blurry Xander’s gaze was fixed on the area where I was scratching. I didn’t even have the energy to convince myself that he was staring at my dick.

And now that itched too.

I rubbed at my shaft lazily, soft and stuck to the crease of my left thigh. No sign of my normal morning wood, and I really didn’t have the energy to care.

Xander shrieked—the drama queen—the sound ripping a hole in my skull. I waited for the inevitable leakage of brains on to my pillow. When that didn’t happen, I opened my eyes—which had apparently drifted shut again—just in time to watch his fuzzy shape toss the duvet in my direction. Whether by accident or design it settled on me like falling snow. The cotton felt cool against my skin. I spread my arms and began to make a snow angel—it was nearly Christmas after all. Two sweeps in and the heat and friction made me uncomfortable and itchy again.

Banging and muttering from the other side of the room distracted me from the tightness of my skin. I tugged the duvet closer around me and tried to lift my head to focus on the crashing just long enough to tell the noisy fucker to piss off.

My heavy skull wouldn’t obey. I rolled onto my side, my head cradled by the super soft feather pillows. White, fluffy, floaty clouds. Floating up into the sky, away from all the noise. But clouds weren’t pure white when there was the angry rumble of thunder in the air.

Not thunder. I blinked and made a concerted effort to focus. Xander slammed the wardrobe door, the empty hangers clanging together. He was still muttering furiously away to himself and I forced myself to make sense of the words.

“…invited to three parties over the holidays. But nooooo, I turned them all down for a romantic week with Spotty McSpotDick.”

There was something off in the way he spat out the word romantic but I couldn’t quite work out what, in my befuddled state. Instead, I focused on the part of his rant I could appease. “I told you,” I started but it came out more like Didoldu so even I was distracted from what I’d planned to say next.

I attempted to unstick my tongue from the roof of my mouth and tried again.

I don’t think I was any more successful the second time. Xander gave a snort of disgust. He stomped over to the mini fridge, yanked out a bottle of water and twisted the cap off, with more aggression than his lithe frame would imply. All that time in the gym working on his six-pack was obviously doing wonders for his biceps too. Not that I could appreciate any of it with all the clothes he was wearing.

“This is why I don’t do sick people.” He held out the water bottle and glared expectantly. I raised myself up enough to take the offered bottle and risk a sip of the water.

Oh, that tasted good. Cool and refreshing against my scratchy throat. I took another swallow and smiled my thanks. Xander grimaced and moved away from the bed, back towards the wardrobe. He opened the other door.

Another sip of water and my brain seemed to come back online. “We can go to the parties and still have a romantic break. I never intended for us to stay in the hotel the entire time but it’s nice to be able to just spend time relaxing and not to have to worry about cooking, especially on Christmas Day. And the staff here are really attentive.” Something tugged the edges of my mind. Sleep or just that hazy mist that had been bothering me since I’d woken that morning. I took a longer swig from the bottle then, because it was a good point and I felt it needed to be stressed, I added, “Really attentive.”

Xander snorted, apparently unimpressed with my reasoning. “What, like that twinky waiter who was flirting with you at dinner? Don’t think I didn’t notice him out at the poolside too. Bringing you extra towels and drinks.”

“That was the same guy?” I could barely remember him. Although I think I recalled a waiter, dark hair with a fiery red streak, ask with concern if I needed some water and express dismay about the amount of food I left. Could he have been the pool boy in the shortest of shorts who’d been happy to run around and get me drinks from the bar? I’d had an unquenchable thirst yesterday that I’d put down to the chlorine and the amount of shouting I’d done on the last day of term. But his hair had been slicked back and the red streak was the only thing I remembered from the waiter. I couldn’t even remember what I’d ordered to eat, but I felt bad that I’d left food uneaten.

“Anyway, we still have New Year’s parties to go to when we get home.”

“With you looking like that? I don’t think so.”

I frowned as Xander tugged his shirts from the hangers. Wind chimes jangled but the air in the room was still, stifling. Xander rammed the shirts in his case. Strange, he was normally such a meticulous packer. Even his gym bag.

Packing?

“Are you going somewhere?”

“I’m not staying here to get sick. I’ll call you in the New Year.”

“But, Christmas?”

“Bye, Glenn.”

I blinked my eyes open at the slamming of the door. God, it was hot in here. All that fractious energy my boyfriend had been giving off probably. I rolled out of bed and stumbled to the window on legs weaker than Bambi. After some fumbling, I finally got the latch unfastened and threw open the window letting in blessedly cool air.

My stomach caught up with my sudden departure from the horizontal. It lurched in protest. I spun around in desperation—probably not my finest idea—until I spied the waste bin under the dressing table. My legs gave way and I crumpled to the carpet. I just had the presence of mind to grab for the bin before I puked my guts up.

Next time I woke there was a woman standing over me, screaming. I smiled at her reassuringly. It didn’t seem to help.

* * * * *

About the Author

Lillian Francis is a self-confessed geek who likes nothing more than settling down with a comic or a good book, except maybe writing. Given a notepad, pen, her Kindle, and an infinite supply of chocolate Hob Nobs and she can lose herself for weeks. Romance was never her reading matter of choice, so it came as a great surprise to all concerned, including herself, to discover a romance was exactly what she’d written, and not the rollicking spy adventure or cosy murder mystery she always assumed she’d write.

http://lillianfrancis.blogspot.co.uk/

Twitter @LillianFrancis_

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Email: lillianfrancis@rocketmail.com

 

 

 

 

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GUEST POST: The Perfect Gift by Joe Cosentino

What do Capri, Italy and Philadelphia, PA have in common. It turns out a lot actually. Both are gorgeous, magical, romantic, and the perfect place to spend the winter holidays. Capri has its ancient, quaint church with stained glass windows and pipe organ, steep white cliffs hovering over clear turquoise water, historic villas, and mouthwatering food. Philly is home to the Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest ice skating, Franklin Square Holiday Festival and Electrical Spectacle Holiday Light Show, Christmas Village, Holiday Market in Dilworth Park, Germantown Avenue’s Winter Wonderland with Victorian-costumed carolers and bell ringers, and Dickensian Street where people dressed as characters from Dickens’ novels stand in front of Victorian-style bay-windowed shops lit up for the holidays.

Two years ago, I wrote a holiday short novella loosely based on my trip to the magical and gorgeous island of Capri: A Home for the Holidays. Bobby, a young, Italian American law student traveling to Capri during the winter holidays meets his quaint Italian relatives, and falls in love with his handsome, muscular, sexy Italian distant cousin, Paolo. Readers and listeners loved the e-book and audiobook performed by the talented Joel Leslie, feeling as if they could see, hear, taste, and touch the captivating characters and romantic locations. Since A Home for the Holidays leaves open the future of Bobby’s and Paolo’s relationship; Joel, readers, reviewers, and Dreamspinner Press staff asked me why I hadn’t written a sequel. So this month we are releasing The Perfect Gift e-book.

The two-part story begins a year after A Home for the Holiday ends. Bobby and Paolo are living in Philadelphia as a junior lawyer and junior fashion designer. When Paolo proposes, Bobby’s family and friends are intent on giving the couple a gaudy, elaborate wedding against their wishes. Bobby and Paolo jump through quite a few holiday hoops and finally have their perfect December wedding (December Grooms). A year later, since it’s Christmas time, the couple tour many of the quaint and wonderful holiday sites in the area featuring elaborately decorated trees and wreathes, Dickensian villages, Victorian carolers and bell ringers, vendors selling hot mulled cider and roasted chestnuts, and bay-windowed shops. They exchange beautiful gifts, and enjoy spending Christmas with Bobby’s eccentric family and hilarious friend Jared. While playing department store Santa, Bobby’s father suffers a heart attack. A man in a Santa suit, who Bobby assumes is his father’s replacement, brings the young couple to the hospital room of a sick little boy. Like the child we celebrate at Christmas, could this boy be the holiday gift leading to happily ever after for Bobby and Paolo (An Unexpected Present)?

I hope you enjoy Bobby and Paolo’s next adventures in Bobby’s beautiful hometown. And I hope you get what you need for Christmas. Enjoy my special holiday gift to you. Please know that it comes wrapped in a huge ribbon of love.

 

THE PERFECT GIFT (Bobby and Paolo Holiday Stories, Book 2)

by JOE COSENTINO

published by Dreamspinner Press, e-book $4.99

Blurb

Back in America after finding A Home for the Holidays and each other in Capri, new couple Bobby McGrath and Paolo Mascobello are ready to tie the knot during the winter holidays. Their families, friends, and pastor offer more advice than sages on speed. So, young lawyer Bobby and fashion designer Paolo are caught in the matrimonial holiday circus. Will a shocking turn of events somehow lead to the perfect wedding for the December grooms?

The following Christmas, Bobby and Paolo aren’t feeling the holiday spirit. They have a nice apartment, designer clothes, entertaining and supportive friends and family, but little time for each other. While out shopping in their quaint local holiday village, Bobby and Paolo encounter Gregory, an adorable seven-year-old who changes their lives forever, offering them a true holiday miracle… if they’re willing to accept it.

What reviewers said about A Home for the Holidays (Bobby and Paolo Holiday Stories, Book 1):

“I adore the character of Bobby…the heartwarming family moments…the love the author has for Capri and the people there flows off the page in every word he has written…..When you finish reading this story, you will want to book your own flight to Italy and boat to Capri.” Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

“Joe Cosentino’s holiday novella, A Home for the Holidays, delivers in every way that a romantic, feel-good story should. Every book I read by this author continuously pulls me in and wraps me up like a warm blanket.” Kathy Mac Reviews

“The one thing you can’t escape when reading Cosentino’s books is his humour; it’s what draws me back time and again to this author. Sometimes the humour is subtle, sometimes it’s unashamedly overt – every time it is hilarious.” Boy Meets Boy Reviews

I’m going to go on record saying that Joe Cosentino pretty much has me at hello. His writing style is incredibly smooth with beautiful details that never feel like too much or too little. Even in this very short story, I felt like I was right there in Capri with Bobby. Both the scenery and Bobby’s emotions are painted with lush, vivid detail…exceptional writing and beautifully gift-wrapped love story.” AM Leibowitz

Bestselling author Joe Cosentino wrote In My Heart/An Infatuation & A Shooting Star, the Bobby and Paolo Holiday stories: A Home for the Holidays and The Perfect Gift, The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland (Dreamspinner Press); the Nicky and Noah mysteries: Drama Queen, Drama Muscle, Drama Cruise, (Lethe Press), Drama Luau, Drama Detective; the Cozzi Cove series: Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back, Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward, Cozzi Cove: Stepping Out, Cozzi Cove: New Beginnings (NineStar Press); and the Jana Lane mysteries: Paper Doll, Porcelain Doll, Satin Doll, China Doll, Rag Doll (The Wild Rose Press). He has appeared in principal acting roles in film, television, and theatre, opposite stars such as Bruce Willis, Rosie O’Donnell, Nathan Lane, Holland Taylor, Charles Keating, and Jason Robards. Joe is currently Head of the Department/Professor at a college in upstate New York, and is happily married. He was voted 1st Place Favorite LGBT Mystery, Humorous, and Contemporary Author of 2015, and 2nd Place Favorite LGBT Romance Author of 2015 by the readers of Divine Magazine. He has also won many Rainbow Award Honorable Mentions including for In My Heart/An Infatuation & A Shooting Star. http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/JoeCosentinoauthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JoeCosen

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4071647.Joe_Cosentino

Amazon: Author.to/JoeCosentino

Excerpt 

“Hi, Mom. What are you doing?”

“Sitting home alone like a dog.”

That’s Mom’s logic. If their house isn’t full of people eating and carrying on, she’s alone. “Where’s Dad?”

“In his den, watching the game on TV as usual.”

I’m Bobby McGrath. Since this is my story, I should tell you more about myself. I have frizzy red hair, green eyes, and a swimmer’s body, thanks to the pool at my gym. The swimmer’s body is thanks to the pool. The red hair and green eyes are courtesy of my dad’s side of the family, which my mom calls the Bad Seed. And I passed the bar. I don’t mean I’m a recovering alcoholic. I aced my bar exam, and I’ve been a junior lawyer for nearly a year now.

“Bobby, are you listening to me or thinking about one of your cases?”

“I’m listening, Mom.” I sat on the window seat in my Victorian apartment’s turret and gazed out at the carolers appropriately dressed in Victorian garb as they sang in front of the department store across the street. That’s the department store where my father is manager and plays Santa every December. “How did Dad’s physical go with Dr. Sherman?”

“He said Dad’s overweight. Like we didn’t know. For that we shelled out a thirty-dollar co-pay.”

“Did you mention how Dad’s been forgetting a few things lately?”

“I told him how your father forgot to take out the garbage, sweep out the garage, and chase the squirrels out of our summerhouse in the backyard.”

I couldn’t help thinking Dad’s memory lapses were intentional.

“Dr. Sherman asked Dad some questions, like Dad’s birthdate and our anniversary.”

“And?”

“Your father never remembers things like that, so I answered for him.”

“Mom, you shouldn’t have—”

“Your father’s fine, except for an enlarged prostrate.”

“That’s prostate.”

“Don’t correct your mother, especially now.”

“What’s wrong?”

“You know I don’t like to burden you with my problems.”

“All right. I should get on my laptop to do some research for a—”

“I’m worried about your sister.”

“Which one?”

“Both of them.”

I took a sip of Lemon Zinger tea and braced myself for a long story.

“They work so hard at their jobs and taking care of the kids, they never see their husbands.”

My sisters’ know-it-all spouses? “Is that a bad thing?”

“Watch your mouth, mister. I’m your mother. In my day we never disrespected our parents, no matter how wrong they were about everything. And we never took drugs.”

“I don’t take drugs, Mom; neither does Paolo.”

“But plenty of young people today are drug addicts, Bobby. They say they’re nervous. If young people are nervous, they should do what I do, and take a Prozac.”

As Mom rambled on about the sad state of our youth, I glanced over at the antique cherry coffee table to a framed picture of Paolo and me smiling in front of the Mascobello villa in Capri, Italy. That’s where I met Paolo, when I visited my extended family. Don’t freak out. Paolo is a very distant cousin. He has dreamy sapphire eyes, wavy chestnut hair, more muscles than a daytime television star, and a little-boy pout that makes me want to take care of him for the rest of his life. Which I do. Since Paolo was quite the playboy in Capri, I had my doubts about our relationship. But we’ve been living in boyfriend bliss here in Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love, for a year now.

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