SOMETIMES THE BEST PRESENTS CAN’T BE WRAPPED
A Very Special Christmas Story
Ned Balding used to be a decent man—until the stress of seemingly countless responsibilities changes him, and he becomes cold and driven—the kind of man who considers firing an employee days before Christmas. The kind of man who kicks a dog…. But Ned’s transgressions haven’t gone unseen. A Salvation Army Santa witnesses his misdeeds and decides Ned needs to be taught a lesson.
When Ned wakes up the next morning, he’s stunned to discover he’s been transformed into a dog.
In the past year, Jake Carrara has lost his mother, a lover… even his dog. His boss came close to firing him just before the holidays. He isn’t sure he’s ready for another pet when he’s asked to foster a dog, but Jake’s good heart won’t let him refuse. Little does he know, this isn’t just any dog.
Through a twist of fate, two people with little reason to be friends might teach each other to rediscover the good—and the love—in life.
GETTING HIS MAN
A love story worthy of an old movie… with a new twist.
Artie needs a hero, a man like those he’s always revered in Golden Age films. His drug-dealing jerk of a roommate got him arrested, and since his savior isn’t likely to sweep in and save the day, Artie calls a bail bondsman.
August has always imagined himself a hero from a black-and-white movie, but he’s never found a man willing to let him play that roleâ€”at least not until he gets the call from Artie.
Both of their dreams might come true, but not before August must use his skills as a bounty hunter as well as a bondsman. Artie is on the run for his life, and August must protect him and help him clear his name. Only then can they both finally get their man.
Blue McCoy has lived on the streets for a long time, surviving by his wits and doing what he must, and he’s not above using his youthful appearance and air of innocence to his advantage. It’s not an easy life, but he’s happy. He has everything he really needs: the clothes on his back, a house to squat in, a sweet dog. Everything except that special someone to love him.
Six months ago, John Williams’s wife left him because she was bored. “Even your name is boring” were her last words to him before she walked out. Now he’s by himself in a big house, trying to figure out what direction his life should take. He’s never been so alone.
A chance encounter sets John on a new path, a path that becomes clearer when loneliness sends him to a local animal shelter to get a dog—and he finds an angel instead. An angel named Blue. A crisis brings them together, but it is something else that keeps them there. Could it be love? A love that can forever end two men’s deep loneliness and bring them the support and sense of belonging they’ve searched for all their lives?
Wade Porter spent his whole life in the shadow of a lover who doled out snippets of love and time as he saw fit—and who insisted that love stay deep in the closet. But now that man is gone, and Wade finds the oceanside cottage where they spent so many weekends together in the Florida Keys cold and empty. He has come one last time, not even sure he wants to keep living.
To his surprise, the house next door is occupied by another bereaved and lonely man. Kent Walker is an artist of romantic gay paintings who is open to the future—and determinedly interested in Wade. Kent wants to show Wade the beauty in being an openly gay man and the possibilities for a real relationship.
Maybe Kent can help Wade let go of the past and discover a better way to live—and love.
First Edition published in Two Tickets to Paradise by Dreamspinner Press, 2012.
THE REAL THING
Bryan Mills has fantasized about cowboys all his life. Real cowboys, that is. He even dresses in what his roommate calls “cowboy drag” when he visits his favorite bar, in the hope of attracting the attentions of a genuine cowboy. But all he usually finds are posers and guys his own age.
Then one night, to his surprise, Curtis Hansen buys him a beer, and Bryan has no doubt this is the real thing. Curtis is a rugged, gorgeous man who is every bit a cowboy. He even owns his own ranch. What follows is about the most amazing night of Bryan’s young life.
But can they move beyond a night of incredible sex when Bryan admits to Curtis that the only horse he’s ever ridden was a birthday party pony? And that he’s nothing but a poser himself? Maybe, just maybe, Curtis can find the real cowboy inside Bryan, and they can ride off into the sunset together!
First Edition published as The Real Thing in Riding Double by Dreamspinner Press, 2011.
DO YOU TRUST ME?
The path to happiness starts with acceptance, and sometimes the chance for a bright, loving future means letting go of the past.
All his life, Neil Baxter has buried a large part of himself—the part that’s attracted to other men. He married a woman and denied that side of him existed. And he plans to keep right on pretending to be straight after his beloved wife has passed away.
To help him deal with his grief, Neil’s sister-in-law convinces him to vacation at a dude ranch. There, Neil meets Cole Thompson, a young, gorgeous, unabashedly gay wrangler—who is unabashedly attracted to Neil. And try as he might, Neil cannot deny he feels the same way. But desire soon becomes something more profound as the two men get to know each other. Cole is much more than a sexy cowboy: he’s kind, spiritual, and intelligent. In fact, he’s perfect for Neil… except he’s a man, and Neil isn’t ready to let go of a lifetime of denial. If he cannot find the courage to be true to himself, he might let something wonderful slip through his fingers.
Being rich has its advantages, but it is also rife with suffocating pressures and family telling Chandler Buckingham how to live his life. When his assistant offers to help him escape the mounting obligations of the holiday season by running away to Hawaii, Chandler jumps at the chance. Only to find nothing is quite as he’d expected.
Micah Keolu has lived in Hawaii all his life. He has to work two jobs and has little time for a social life, but his loving family and the island beauty around him have given him a heart as big as the ocean. And then one day he rescues a man trapped in an elevator in the building where Micah lives and works maintenance.
The unexpected happens as they find themselves drawn together, only to learn there is more to each other than meets the eye. Can two men from very different worlds find a way to enrich each other’s lives? Maybe the magic of the holidays just might bring them lasting joy!
A story from the Dreamspinner Press 2016 Advent Calendar “Bah Humbug.”
Book Four of the
Seasons of Love Series
For over ten years, Wyatt Dolan defined himself as the lover of Howard Wallace. Howard made sure Wyatt’s self-worth depended on that role. So when Howard dumps him, he is lost at sea in a storm without a rudder. If it wasn’t for his supportive friends, he doesn’t know what he’d do. Finally, after a series of disasters, he escapes to Camp Sanctuary—a sacred place to him—where he can be alone, try to put his past behind him, and find a new direction for his life.
Kevin Owens is a lonely man. He is very intelligent—several apps he created have gone on to make him a comfortable living—but he is also quite shy and is uncomfortable making conversation. The death of his dear friend and former lover after a long illness leaves him grieving, confused, and adrift. Then a dream guides him to Camp Sanctuary, only to find that the one cabin with a wood-burning stove has already been reserved. And worse, by a man he’s had a secret crush on for years—Wyatt Dolan.
When a snowstorm knocks out power at the Camp, Wyatt and Kevin must share the same cabin to stay warm, and very soon, magickal things begin to happen.
THE BEARY BEST HOLIDAY PARTY EVER
Before he discovered the Heartland Bear Clan, Ron Corbin figured no one could ever love a “fatass” like him. But the big group of big men accepts him, and likes him just the way he is. Having finally found a place he belongs, he works hard to get elected president of the club—and wins. He’s the happiest he’s ever been.
But Paddy Brennan, a sexy bear cub who blew into town and became Mr. Popular overnight, is elected vice-president. Ron doesn’t think Paddy has earned the honor, and now he’ll have to work shoulder to shoulder (and belly to belly) with the guy for a year.
Ron will do what’s best for the club even if that means setting his personal feeling—that Paddy is a jerk—aside. But then as the two men get to know each other, Ron reluctantly finds he not only likes the guy, but is growing more and more attracted to him.
Deep down, Ron still worries he isn’t good enough, but maybe Paddy can show him there’s a beary happy ending waiting for them after all.
UNTIL I FOUND YOU
Christopher Morin is unlucky in love. The only male worth anything in his life is his sweet dog Frost. Christopher is devastated when, shortly after his breakup with the worst boyfriend ever, his dog vanishes without a trace.
Doyle Schilbrack was lucky at love, until his wonderful partner of many years passed away, leaving Doyle lost and lonely. The solution? He adopts a sad little abandoned dog, a dog he names Jack. Together, man and dog come back to life.
Then one day, a year later, Christopher encounters Doyle in a park—walking his dog! Now the two men are faced with a dilemma. They want to do what is best for their dog, but it will break their hearts to let him go.
But then a rambunctious white Pomeranian takes matters in his own paws. There might be a way for both men to keep the dog, and find something else that’s been missing from their lives.
Book Three of the Seasons of Love Series
Asher Eisenberg is a brilliant actor, destined for fame and fortune. But a traumatic incident in his past has caused him to reject his Jewish heritage and hide from everyone behind walls of arrogance and selfishness, and he blurs his loneliness with a lot of sex and alcohol. When he meets Peniamina Faamausili, however, he strangely can’t stop thinking about the young man.
Peni is struggling with his sexuality, the Mormonism he was raised in, and the Samoan heritage that calls to him. He longs to receive the pe’a—the traditional Samoan tattoos– and learn more of his people’s ways. He has no interest in a man like Asher, who appears to use men and put them aside and whose drinking can’t help but remind him of the drunk driver who killed his father. But he can’t deny his attraction to Asher and finally agrees to a date if Asher can go thirty days without a drink.
Asher is about to go on a journey that will awaken him to his friends, his past, his future, and even to love. But that awakening could well demand the sacrifice of the dream he holds most dear.
Leslie “Red” Parks was pretty surprised to find he was considered attractive enough to be a male escort. And once he started and the money came rolling in, he found he didn’t want to stop. For the first time in his life, people truly want him, and he likes that. A lot.
Kirk Toliver has never thought of himself as desirable either—which is why he is single. That, and he has spent years of his life caring for his ill mother. Before she passed away, she made him promise he would splurge on something crazy with the money she left him. So what’s crazier than hiring a male escort?
But neither expected that one night together could lead to what was missing in both their lives.
As a speical gift to my readers, I have written this new story set in my universe of characters. It is FREE throught Dreamspinner Press and only 99¢ through Amazon!
The end of his marriage leaves Derek Newton hurt and confused, but it also grants him the opportunity to embrace who he really is: a gay man. While navigating his new life with the help of friends in the local GLBT community, Derek meets Marshall Kenworthy, a man who embodies all his fantasies.
To Derek’s surprise, Marshall is as interested as he is, and they make a date. But a failure to communicate leads to a misunderstanding. The party they attend is not what Derek expected—at all—but Marshall, ever the gentleman, makes sure Derek feels comfortable. As they get to know each other, they see how much they have in common. Derek begins to heal and soon realizes he might thrive in this new chapter of his life—and it just might be with Marshall by his side.
Book Two of the Seasons of Love Series
Scott Aberdeen doesn’t believe in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, or God. Or love—at least, he knows no one will ever love him. After all, he has carried a torch for his best friend Sloan for a decade, hoping his feelings will be returned one day. But when Sloan finds springtime love with another man, Scott’s fantasies are crushed and his skepticism confirmed.
Cedar Carrington, raised by rock star parents, leads a free-spirited, nomadic life, never staying in one place for long. Due to a dark past he refuses to share or even think about, he is willing to let men into his bed for sex, but never for the night.
When Scott finds himself camping in the middle of nowhere with over a hundred men who all believe in love—and faeries and a magickal gay brotherhood—he’s pretty sure he’s in the wrong place. And when Cedar connects with cynical, critical Scott, he wonders how he could be falling in for this man of all men. But hearts and lives have been transformed at the Heartland Men’s Festival before, and it might be just the place where two very different men can release their pain and find true love at last.
Book One of the Seasons of Love Series
Sloan McKenna is going through a tough time. His beloved mother has recently passed away, leaving him her house and beautiful garden. But should he keep the house? Sell it? To make matters worse, he’s in love with one of his best friends, Asher, a man who can’t (or won’t) love him back.
Sloan’s neighbor, Max Turner, is married to an ambitious woman with far-reaching dreams, including moving the family to France. But Max is happy teaching at the local college and living in their nice, quiet town. Then he discovers his fourteen-year-old son is not only gay, but out and proud as well. That throws him into complete disarray, for more than one reason….
When Max’s wife leaves on a two-month business trip to Paris, circumstances throw the two men together. As they become friends, Sloan finds himself falling in love with Max, who is completely unavailable… just like Asher. As for Max, he is discovering that both his son’s coming out and his new friendship with Sloan are stirring up feelings he thought buried long ago. Spring is a time for rebirth—Is there any way the two men can find happiness and a new beginning?
On Sale Now!!!
A SECRET VALENTINE
After his divorce, Steve Manchester came out so he could be himself and find love with another man. But as it turns out, the only man he really wants is his sweet, intelligent, and gorgeous best friend Burgess Cameron.
Burgess, however, wants to keep the relationship platonic. When Steve can no longer stand the unrequited love, he decides to move to San Francisco to start a new life. But before he leaves, Burgess invites him to a Valentine’s Day dance, where Cupid may have other plans for them both!
First edition published as a part of the Never Say Never anthology, Silver Publishing, February 2011.
HOUND DOG & BEAN
Dogs never bite me. Just humans. ~ Marilyn Monroe
There’s been little love in H.D. “Hound Dog” Fisher’s life since the death of his beloved mom when he was a boy. Bounced around the foster care system, he ran away as soon as he could… and took the foster dog with him. As far as he’s concerned, only dogs have no ulterior motive, never hold a grudge, and offer unconditional love. Now he helps run a no-kill shelter and leaves relationships where they belong: in the back room.
“Bean” Alexander settled in Kansas City to open his coffee shop after years of traveling. He never expected to open his heart too. When a man with a grudge takes a swing at H.D. while in line at Bean’s shop, Bean jumps to intervene.
So taking a hit for H.D. gets Bean noticed, and H.D. feels obligated to pay a debt. But then the unexpected happens. A series of misadventures causes H.D. to open up—but falling in love makes him turn tail and run. Trust is a tough road to travel. Will good friends, a dog named Sarah Jane, and a bit of folk magic be enough to bring Hound Dog and Bean a happy ending?
GRUMBLE MONKEY AND
THE DEPARTMENT STORE ELF
Kit Jefferies, a part-time department store Christmas elf, is an artist who loves life and his family. Unfortunately, his car dies at a rest stop in the middle of nowhere as he is heading home for Christmas. Enter Nick St. George.
Nick is a very unhappy man—he’s achieved his professional goals only to find the rest of his life bleak and empty. Deciding there was only one way to make everything right, he is on his way to San Francisco on a dark mission, and even the horrible sleet storm in his path won’t deter him. That’s when he found Kit.
At first, Nick is pretty sure rescuing Kit was a big mistake. Kit’s personality is just too, well, effervescent. But as the miles go by, Kit begins to bring light to his dark heart. It might even be bright enough to illuminate a Christmas miracle.
THE BOY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD
Todd Burton has had enough of small-town Buckman. His abusive stepfather calls him a fag; his friend Austin makes him realize he may be gay, but Todd doesn’t want to admit his stepfather is right; and he dreams of being a chef. Three good reasons to flee his hometown and pursue greener pastures. But when Todd reaches the big city, his luck runs dry. Soon he can’t pay his rent and gets evicted. In the middle of a snowstorm.
Gabe Richards is a wealthy businessman with enough wounds of his own to make him afraid of ever being intimate again. But when he sees Todd outside his building, freezing to death, he takes pity on him and takes him in from the cold.
To their mutual surprise, Todd and Gabe find themselves drawn to each other. “One night” turns into a week. Maybe letting a man in from the cold can melt the ice around Gabe’s heart—and maybe getting evicted will turn Todd’s luck around.
ANYTHING COULD HAPPEN
If you read Todd’s story in “The Boy Who Came in from the Cold,” you might just want to see what happened to Austin (and hear his side of the story).
Moving to Kansas City could be the best thing Austin Shelbourne has ever done. For a start, he can stop living a lie and finally come out of the closet. And there’s a chance, though slim, that he might be able to locate the love of his life, Todd Burton. It had seemed like a good idea when he seduced his friend, but Todd freaked out and vanished. Austin hopes to find Todd, make things right between them, and win his love. But when he meets actor Guy Campbell, things get even more confusing.
The moment Guy sets eyes on Austin, he knows Austin is The One. But Austin makes it clear he feels a responsibility to Todd, and Guy has some dark secrets of his own. He’s found redemption in acting and directing, but worries that if Austin learns the truth, he might not be able bear it. And what if Todd accepts Austin’s apology and the love Austin offers? Guy wants Austin desperately, but he also wants him to be happy. In the play of life, with the happiness of good men in the balance, anything could happen.
Bianca worries that her daddy, Gavin, is lonely. She knows he’s gay and likes the idea of having two dads. So she the best thing that could happen would be for him to have a boyfriend. And since he doesn’t seem to be doing anything about it, she’ll take it into her own hands. She’s going to find him a boyfriend for Christmas.
Problem is, how’s a kid going to do that? So she enlists the unwitting aid of her father’s best friend, the straight and unattached Curtis.
Gavin has a Christmas wish, too, and Curtis setting him up on disastrous dates isn’t part of it! None of those men are who he really wants in life. But he can’t have who he really loves. Is it worth it to have someone who would be second best?
Meanwhile, Curtis finds life becoming complicated as he tries to please Bianca, make Gavin happy, and fend off his own growing and … unexpected feelings. Will anyone’s wish come true?
ALL ALONE IN A SEA OF ROMANCE
I’m Jude Parks, writer of gay romances. Even though I’m good at what I do, the irony is that I haven’t exactly been lucky in love myself. My best friend Jeannie says it’s because I settle for Mr. Right Now instead of holding out for Mr. Forever. I say I’d rather regret what I have done rather than what I haven’t.
I only came to Romantic Voyages, the biggest romance convention in the country, for business. Yet in no time I got mixed up with a gorgeous cover model, weeping artists, drag queens, and crazy housewives—and became the prime suspect in a murder investigation. Well, they say any press is good press.
Maybe I should’ve stayed home. But then I never would’ve met Tommy Smith, the craziest, most outrageous, silly, sexy man I’ve ever known—a man who makes me wonder if it may be worth holding out for Mr. Forever after all. A man who might turn my rotten luck around. But only if I survive the weekend and I clear my name…!
IT HAD TO BE YOU
Robert Daniels is always dating the wrong men. He doesn’t understand it. He’s a good guy. What’s the problem? Then, one day, on a particularly bad date, he dies…
…only to wake up in the body of a man named Jimmy who was shot and killed—but in 1927! Along comes Hugh Naylor, the guy Robert has been waiting for all his life. Hugh is perfect—sweet, intelligent, and sexy. The problem? Hugh is in love with Jimmy.
Now Robert’s falling in love with Hugh, but how can he explain he isn’t who he appears? How can he get Hugh to love him, and not the man whose body he inhabits? And who shot Jimmy? And will they be out to shoot him again?
Harry Fielding is desperately unhappy with his life. He hates his job, his apartment, and most especially, he hates the way he looks. Despite this, once Harry hears that his fantasy man, Javier Torres, is playing Santa at the local gay bar, he can’t wait to get his picture taken sitting on Javier’s lap in hopes of finally catching the sexy man’s attention.
But it all goes wrong, and Harry ends up telling a very different “Santa” exactly how his life could be made better…
What he doesn’t expect is for his Christmas wish to come true! And it might just prove to be the old adage, “Be careful what you wish for!”
Once Javier Torres was a sweet, plump, and very unpopular child. But over the years, he turned himself into a gorgeous gym god. The problem is he’s also become an egotistical snob.
But one day his arrogance pisses off the wrong little old lady, and he wakes up to find that, like the Prince in Beauty and the Beast, he’s been transformed into something from his personal nightmares.
Javier has nowhere to go but back home, where to his surprise, he is greeted with open arms, not just by the family he remembers, but by his new brother-in-law, Cole.
Cole meanwhile suspects there might be a pretty heart locked inside that new body, but has Javier learned enough to earn Cole—instead of coal—for Christmas?
Widower Neil Baxter is surprised when his best friend Amy Radcliffe, a recent widow herself, asks him to join her family at a dude ranch. It’s the last thing Neil wants to do with his vacation. He is not an outdoors kind of guy, and he’s been afraid of horses since one threw him when he was a boy forced to attend summer church camp. But Amy is the one person who successfully helped him deal with his wife’s death, so he agrees to go for her sake.
When Neil arrives at Black Bear Guest Ranch he meets Cole, one of the ranch’s wranglers, a twenty-five-year-old, out-and-proud gay man. The chemistry between them is instant, and it’s upsetting and frustrating for Neil. He has avoided acting on his homosexuality for twenty years.
Soon, things between the men begin to sizzle. Will Neil continue to hide his true self, or will he finally learn to trust his feelings, as well as Cole, and step out and claim the life he has always wanted?
HOW COULD LOVE BE WRONG?
As a teenage boy, Clay Bower finds love for the first time with his best friend, Matthew—a love that is shattered by Matthew’s guilt and religious dogma. He is sure he will never love again.
Later, as a young man, Clay is blessed with the love of a woman, a close companion who accepts him for who he is even though he can never give her the devotion she deserves in return. After all, it is better than no love at all, right?
But after another tragic event, life takes an unexpected turn. Clay might be able to put his guilt and disappointment behind him—if he can learn to accept love from an unexpected source.
When Callum’s mother asks him to visit for her birthday, she unwittingly comes to his rescue. Callum is a broken and unhappy man, emotionally abused by his lover to the point of feeling worthless, alone, and without hope.
But during his trip, while passing through the Salt Lake Desert, Callum picks up a hitchhiker named Danny, who shows him that life is full of wonder and blessings. He’s on the verge of believing in himself again, but can he really make a new life for himself by jumping from the arms of one man into another’s?
A Bittersweet Dreams title: It’s an unfortunate truth: love doesn’t always conquer all. Regardless of its strength, sometimes fate intervenes, tragedy strikes, or forces conspire against it. These stories of romance do not offer a traditional happy ending, but the strong and enduring love will still touch your heart and maybe move you to tears.
Please Note! If you purchase this novella from Dreamspinnerpress Press you will receive “Desert Crossing: A Different Perspective,” a companion piece and free short story.
Elliot and Shawn each want to buy the same one-of-a-kind item for Christmas—a very old and expensive antique bed—as a gift for their lovers. But when they both arrive at the store at the same moment, the proprietor tells them to figure out between themselves who gets to purchase the bed.
So Elliot and Shawn decide to hold a contest: winner buys bed.
And so the competitions begin, from selling charity tickets to cleaning out stables, and interpersonal tension and burgeoning attraction mount as the days until Christmas pass. But who deserves the gift more: Elliot, who can afford the expensive gift for his casual sex partner? Or Shawn, who can barely cover rent, who wants it for a man he says he’s head-over-heels for?
Grant Carter has been obliviously living his life for years, blinders on, pretending even to himself that he is happy and content. After all, he’s got a good job and a beautiful wife. Life is good! Then something happens that makes the scales fall from his eyes, if he wants them to are not.
When a new couple moves in next door, the two gay men, they capture Grant’s fascination immediately. TO his surprise he finds that Mark and Tony are guys, just guys, and clearly in love. They’re nothing like the flighty flamboyant guy he knew in college.
Grant finds the couple appealing enough that he begins to question not only his marriage of twenty years, but the direction of his entire life.
Baiu en Sāhuf
SOUL OF THE MUMMY
Tucker Bradshaw is a modern gay man whose cheating lover has brought him to the brink of despair. Is this what love is? he asks himself. Is this all there is?
S’ankhibthot is an ancient Egyptian trapped in a relationship with an insane and abusive man and self-proclaimed warlock. Even the Pharaoh believes in his power. S’an lives in the lap of luxury, but…
Both men long for real love. When Tucker flees to Egypt, will the fates and ancient gods be able to bring these two men together across the sands of three thousand years? And if they do, how does the warlock feel about his lover S’an finding someone new in a new and modern world?