Title: The Boyfriend Cruise
Series: A Pride of the Caribbean Vacation
Author: Deanna Wadsworth
Genre: M/M Romance
Release Date: December 25, 2018
The Pride of the Caribbean is a cruise ship unlike any other. Paranormals working onboard the enchanted ship hide in plain sight, under the benevolent protection of a demigod captain and his fairy husband.
And this is a shipboard romance unlike any other.
Josh Gilbert’s well-meaning family booked a gay-friendly cruise for Christmas in order to find Josh a steady boyfriend. Hoping to escape the constant parade of bachelors—and the collapsible fishing rod dangling mistletoe his mom keeps in her purse—Josh takes solace in a growing friendship with the ship’s photographer, Nathan. Though Josh is falling for Nathan, he worries it will never be more than a shipboard fling.
Nathan recently became aware of his incubus heritage, and has finally learned how to control his demon side. But Josh has awaken more than just the demon’s need for orgasms–Josh has awaken Nathan’s heart. What’s developing between them is the real thing, but can Josh ever accept Nathan’s promiscuous past… and love a sex demon?
Amid lush tropical settings, family hilarity, holiday costume parties, sexy snorkeling adventures, gingerbread martinis, and mythical creatures, will Josh get his Christmas wish and find true love?
Barnes & Noble: https://bit.ly/2EJrFSP
Google Play: https://bit.ly/2rTFTbi
What Others Are Saying:
DiverseReader – “Deanna Wadsworth’s storytelling of The Boyfriend Cruise, is a heartfelt tale of love that sees what’s inside of the person and less of what’s on the outside.”
Amazon Review – “I enjoyed a lot of the book. The plot was easy to follow, it was well written, funny and dynamic.”
OMGReads – “Cute story about all sorts of beings who call the cruise ship home. Throw in a little Christmas and the book was fun to read.”
Deanna Wadsworth might be a bestselling erotica author, but she leads a pretty vanilla life in Ohio with her wonderful husband and a couple adorable cocker spaniels. She has been spinning tales and penning stories since childhood, and her first erotic novella was published in 2010. She has served multiple board positions at her local RWA chapter and is the current President 2017 for Rainbow Romance Writers of America. When she isn’t writing books or brainstorming with friends, you can find her making people gorgeous in a beauty salon. She loves music and dancing, and can often be seen hanging out on the sandbar in the muddy Maumee River or chilling with her hubby and a cocktail in their basement bar. In between all that fun, Deanna cherishes the quiet times when she can let her wildly active imagination have the full run of her mind. Her fascination with people and the interworkings of their relationships have always inspired her to write romance with spice and love without boundaries.
Social Media Links:
Facebook Profile: https://www.facebook.com/deanna.wadsworth.9
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/deannawadsworthauthor
Amazon Author Central: http://.www.amazon.com/author/deannawadsworth
Day One, At Sea
THE WARM Florida sunshine bathed Josh Gilbert, and he turned his face into it as he walked up the cruise ship gangway, rolling luggage in tow. His weather app said the temps back home in Indiana would reach a balmy fifteen degrees.
Josh still couldn’t believe Mom and Dad had surprised their family—and Josh’s best friend—with a Caribbean cruise for Christmas.
Falling in line behind his older brother, Luke, and his wife, Ramona, the Gilbert clan hauled suitcases and bags of holiday presents onto their new home for the week—the Pride of the Caribbean.
Dwarfed somewhat by the giant cruise liners docked beside them in the Port of Miami, the elegantly appointed Pride made a grand first impression when they entered the lobby behind a slew of other passengers.
“Check out this place,” Luke said, craning his neck, eyes wide.
In awe, they all took in the plush red carpets, crystal chandeliers, and the sleek gold-and-glass banister of the impressive grand staircase. A colossal Christmas tree sat proudly on the first landing, a set of stairs branching to either side and draped in glittering garlands. The tree glistened with white twinkling lights, bows, seashells, and large glass ornaments that, when they caught the light just right, seemed to flicker and dance.
How much did Dad shell out for this trip? Josh wondered.
“Dang, this ship is da bomb,” Aaron muttered in Josh’s ear.
Pleasantly stunned, Josh glanced up at his tall BFF. “No doubt,” he agreed, and then he flinched at something unexpected.
In front of him, two men held hands, chatting with excitement about the cruise.
Though it made Josh happy to see—and more than a tad jealous—openly gay couples in public still surprised him.
If only Josh could ever have something like that in his life.
“Have you figured it out, Josh?” Mom asked, gesturing toward a different couple boarding the ship—two women holding hands.
Puzzle pieces began to fit together, creating a picture Josh wasn’t sure he liked. He narrowed his eyes at his mother. “What’s going on?”
Mom twirled a brown curl around one finger, grinning. Curvy and short—he’d inherited that from her along with the brown hair and eyes—she looked ready to burst.
But Josh’s sister-in-law exploded first.
“It’s a gay cruise!” Ramona cried.
Josh shook his head. “What?”
“We’re gonna find you a boyfriend for Christmas!” Clare announced.
Josh whirled on his sister. “What did you say, Clare?”
She clutched her hands to her ample chest, her curvy figure promising the same weight struggle Mom and Josh suffered. “That we’re gonna find you a boyfriend for Christmas,” his little sister repeated. “This cruise line is gay-friendly, which means there should be plenty of guys for you to have a shipboard romance. Isn’t that great?”
Dad and Luke squirmed, as if caught in the women’s schemes too, or perhaps they feared Josh’s response. Dad was an aged version of his eldest son, as tall and lean as the rest of the family was short and round.
“It’ll be fun, Josh,” Luke assured him, shifting from foot to foot. “No pressure.”
“Yes, pressure,” Ramona insisted, slapping her husband on the arm, her white teeth as dazzling against her brown skin as her white sundress. “He’s getting on board single, but he’s not leaving that way.”
Aaron laughed, and Josh glared at him.
“And I have just the trick,” Mom said, rummaging in her giant purse.
Unable to believe his ears, Josh frowned at Dad. “Were you in on this?”
Before Dad could answer, a stranger stepped in front of Josh. Middle-aged and overly tanned, he wore a lecherous grin.
“What’s this?” the stranger asked. “Mistletoe?”
Then shocking Josh into a stupor, the man kissed him right on the lips.
“What the—” Josh recoiled.
“Name’s Brian,” the guy said, still grinning. “Find me later for a dance.”
Then he slipped into the crowd of passengers.
“What the heck?” Josh spun to face Mom.
Grinning like a fiend, she had a children’s fishing rod in her hand, and rather than a worm dangling from the hook, she’d hung a clump of mistletoe.
“What are you doing?” he cried, too stunned to be as angry as he should’ve been.
“Getting you a man,” Mom said, her face serious now.
Josh set his rolling suitcase on all four wheels and then crossed his arms to glare at her. “You are certifiable, you know that?”
“Certifiably the best matchmaker you know,” she quipped. “Ask Clare and Luke how good I am.”
Luke threw an arm around his pretty wife, and they shared a loving kiss. “Luckiest man in the whole world that Mom introduced me to her tennis coach.” After six years of marriage—sans kids, though not for lack of trying—Luke and Ramona were living the high-end life with their goldendoodle, Fred.
Patting Josh on the shoulder, Clare sighed. “Seriously, dude, you should let Mom pick a guy for you. She has the gift.” Clare’s husband, William, was the son of a lady in Mom’s bunco group. They were married last Valentine’s Day.
“No,” Josh declared, waving his hand in a sweeping gesture of finality. He couldn’t argue against Mom’s success thus far, but Mom would not be how he found his first real boyfriend.
“You can find me a boyfriend, Mrs. G.” Aaron took the fishing rod from her and waggled it over his own head. “Mistletoe, boys!”
Sure enough, Josh’s attractive friend soon had a line of four guys waiting to kiss him. Josh’s face flamed with embarrassment when the third guy added some tongue action and a grope on the ass, which Aaron didn’t seem to find offensive at all.
Josh would die a million deaths if some guy kissed him like that in public—especially in front of his family.
Mom laughed and took back her fishing pole. “You don’t need any help,” she told Aaron, who was still whispering something in bachelor number three’s ear.
Josh pointed at his mother. “Keep that thing away from me.”
“You’re such a party pooper,” she scolded.
“That’s enough,” Dad decided. “Let’s find our rooms.”
As the Gilbert clan moved forward, much to Josh’s further horror, Ramona announced, “Single hot gay guy coming through!”
“Ramona,” Josh hissed, face on fire.
“It’s my job to take pictures of all the single hot guys on this cruise ship,” a sultry voice said from off to the left.
Josh jumped and turned, shocked by the camera pointed at him.
The lens lowered, and the hottest man Josh had ever laid eyes on was grinning at him.
Tanned, blond, and straight off a Ralph Lauren yacht, the man wore white pants, a navy jacket, and a red ascot. He was tall, lean, and broad in the shoulders, with green eyes a man could get lost in and a face like Adonis himself!
“Nathan Bradshaw, shipboard photographer,” the man introduced himself, his blond hair glistening in the sparkling lights of the chandelier.
Or maybe Josh just imagined it glistened. The guy was startling to look at.
Nathan extended a well-manicured hand. “Welcome aboard the Pride.”
“This is Josh,” Ramona piped up, bodily pushing him closer to the handsome stranger.
A warm hand, soft but firm, took hold of Josh’s.
“He’s single,” Clare said.
“Is that so?” Nathan drawled, shaking Josh’s hand and not letting go. “Well, so am I, Josh. It’s very nice to meet you.”
“Yeah, um… you too, Nathan.” That’s when clarity came to Josh’s stunned brain. He scowled at his meddling family. “You guys, just stop,” he hissed, dropping the man’s hand like a house afire.
Clare’s big brown eyes widened innocently. “What?”
Nathan chuckled, and Josh’s face heated further—if such a thing were possible.
“Everybody needs a cheering section,” Nathan said. Then he gestured to the whole Gilbert clan. “Everybody, get closer. Let’s immortalize the moment you began the best vacation of your life.”
Josh squished between Clare and Ramona, while Dad, Aaron, and Luke took the back and Mom the far left. Josh somehow managed to say “cheese” along with everyone else while Nathan snapped a few pics.
Nathan looked at his display. “Perfect. Now, let’s get one of each couple.”
“We’re a couple.” Ramona pointed at Luke, then Mom and Dad. “And so are they. Those three are all flying solo.”
“So you said.” Nathan eyed Josh with a sideways grin that could almost be described as predatory.
Josh’s cheeks warmed, and he couldn’t smile. I must be losing my mind. This is all some sort of twisted dream. Please wake up. Wake up!
But nothing happened, except Aaron and Clare posing on either side of him and Nathan raising the camera again.
“C’mon, smile for the camera,” Nathan prompted, and somehow Josh managed to suck in his gut and smile.
Looking only at Josh, Nathan stepped toward them. “The pictures will be displayed on the viewing screens near the purser’s desk at 7:00 p.m. tonight. They’re available for purchase anytime during the cruise.” He leaned in close and whispered, “But just a tip, they go on sale the last day, so keep track of the numbers for the ones you want.” Not leaning out of Josh’s personal space, Nathan winked at him. “Just don’t tell anybody or it might get me fired.”
Josh swallowed, nervous all of a sudden with how close Nathan had gotten and how delicious his cologne smelled. Like honey or something else equally warm and inviting. Josh couldn’t quite place it, but he liked it. Before he could get another chance to identify the alluring fragrance, the gorgeous photographer had slipped back into the crowd, smiling and flirting with the next group of passengers.
For a hot second, Josh had imagined Nathan was actually flirting with him, but he quickly pushed such thoughts away.
It’s his job to flirt. Get over yourself!
“He was handsome,” Mom said.
He flinched at her hovering behind him, and then he frowned at her. “So is Brad Pitt. Doesn’t mean he wants me.”
She scoffed. “Oh, if Brad Pitt ever saw this face, he’d switch teams, for sure.”
And then, to Josh’s horror, she pinched both of his cheeks.
Hating it when she did that, but grateful she didn’t add her usual “just look at these chipmunk cheeks,” Josh wriggled out of her grasp. “Don’t pull on my skin. You’ll give me wrinkles.”
She scoffed again. “You’re only twenty-seven. What do you know about wrinkles?”
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” Aaron chimed.
Yeah, it was bad enough that at twenty-seven Josh had never had a real boyfriend. The last thing he needed was premature wrinkling. His family was already going to make him prematurely gray.
“C’mon,” Dad said. “I’m tired after all the driving. Let’s get to our rooms and get settled. I think there’s a manhattan somewhere on this ship with my name on it.”
Several crewmembers with tablets mingled in the crowd, giving directions to staterooms. Dad made a beeline toward a man in a Santa hat, holding a tablet, who stood beside a distinguished-looking fellow in a captain’s uniform.
“Welcome aboard,” the man with the tablet said. Though he looked almost Mom and Dad’s age, his tanned skin was flawless and his hair a rich brown. “I’m Raoul, your purser, and this is Captain Leonides.”
“Welcome aboard,” the captain said, with a tip of his hat. He was quite handsome, in an exotic Mediterranean sort of way, with the faintest hint of gray at his temples. Definitely looked competent to captain their ship, a man born to be at sea.
I might die of embarrassment, but at least not from shipwreck.
“Thank you,” Dad said, and everyone else repeated similar greetings. “We’re the Gilbert family. I believe we have four rooms booked.”
Raoul swiped a few times and tapped on his tablet. “Yes, the Gilberts. You are in cabins F1, 2, 3, and 4, on the Fiesta deck. Very nice accommodations you’ve chosen. Some of our finest suites, each with ocean views and balconies.”
“Balconies?” Luke cried, sliding down his shades, his brown eyes wide. “How much money did you spend on this, Dad?”
Dad raised a hand. “You know it’s rude to ask that. This is your Christmas present, and I want us all to have a great time. I even got us the unlimited drink package.”
“Woo-hoo, margaritas, here I come,” Aaron declared, raising his hand for a high five from Clare, which she returned after a slight frown.
“You guys better have a great time,” Mom said. “Because none of you are getting birthday gifts from us this year.”
Josh laughed. Dad had an overly generous spirit, but Mom kept a tight rein on the family purse strings. She might have married a renowned heart surgeon, but she never forgot the trailer she was born and raised in. She passed along the value of money to all of her children—well, maybe not to Clare. As the youngest and the only girl, Clare was more than spoiled. Dad had bailed her out of credit card debt twice that Josh knew of.
“No birthday present for me? Mrs. G, that’s just cruel,” Aaron cried.
She patted his cheek rather than pinching it, Josh noted. “Oh, well, maybe for you.”
“That’s fair,” Clare muttered to Josh, and he wisely said nothing.
Clare might be spoiled and bad with money, but Josh adored her. And since her husband was currently in Afghanistan fighting for their freedoms and she would be spending her first Christmas as a married woman without him, he kept the comment to himself that she shouldn’t worry. Daddy’s girl always got a present.
A large, stoic bellman loaded their suitcases, gift bags, and wrapped presents onto a trolley, grunting a “No” when Dad tried to help. Raoul gave him instructions to deliver their things to the suites, and the man lumbered toward an elevator.
Raoul snapped his fingers, and as if out of nowhere, a very petite woman with a bright smile and a pink streak in her hair appeared.
Aaron jumped back and put his hands to his chest. “You just came out of nowhere, didn’t you?”
“I’m little,” she quipped.
“Penelope dear, please show the Gilbert family to their suites,” Raoul told her.
She grinned impishly. “Right this way, family,” she said in a cheery voice. All but floating up the grand staircase with her hands at the small of her back, Penelope led them to their rooms.
“Have you sailed with us before?” Penelope asked Dad, gazing up at him with big doe eyes she batted coquettishly.
“No, first time.” Dad smiled down at her, seeming smitten with how cute and tiny she was.
“Isn’t she adorable?” Mom whispered to Josh.
“Yeah, sure, I guess,” he said. For a flash, Josh thought Penelope frowned at him, but the change in her face happened so quick he probably imagined it.
Penelope was very pretty, but her long eyelashes were as fake as the pink streak in her blonde hair. The glitter across her brow and eyelids might’ve been unprofessional, but this was a gay-friendly cruise. He wondered if she was on the rainbow, but couldn’t be sure with the way she giggled so flirtatiously with Dad.
“Here is the first suite,” Penelope announced, pausing outside F1. She studied Josh and Aaron. “I pick this one for you two.”
“Um, okay,” Josh said, figuring it was her attempt at being cute and the rooms were assigned.
The act worked on Dad and Luke, if the way they tilted their heads and smiled at her were any indicator—as if they couldn’t decide if she was real or not. Regardless, Luke had better stop staring or his feisty wife would smack him one.
But when Penelope opened the first room, all their eyes went straight to the spacious suite and dazzling view.
“Holy ocean view, Batman,” Aaron exclaimed.
The room was gorgeous, not cramped like the cruise he went on for spring break in college. They each had a double bed, and there was a sitting area with a couch, a door that probably led to the bathroom, and sliding doors that opened to a balcony, which currently faced the Port of Miami. Towels folded into wreaths with soaps for ornaments and big red bows lay on each bed. A pretty Christmas tree with blown-glass ornaments that seemed to glisten and dance in the light was perched on the table between the beds. Mirrored closet doors visually doubled the space, and much to Josh’s surprise, their luggage had already arrived.
“Wow” was all Josh could say.
Dad and Mom grinned, and rubbernecking behind them, his siblings had eyes as wide as their mouths.
“Have fun, boys,” Penelope sang.
Josh pulled out his wallet to tip Penelope, but Dad raised a hand. “No, no, save your money for souvenirs.”
Aaron went up and hugged first Mom, then Dad. “Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. G. Can you adopt me?”
Mom laughed. “I think we did that a long time ago.”
“Moving this way, family,” Penelope announced. “Let’s see which of you get the next room.” Then she flitted away, the rest of the Gilberts following and her voice fading like tinkling sleigh bells as their suite door shut.
Once alone, Josh and Aaron exchanged looks.
“This is going to be the best vacation ever,” Aaron declared.
Josh put his hands on his hips. “Fess up. Did you know Mom and Dad booked a gay-friendly cruise to find me a boyfriend?”
Aaron waved him off. “Why are you looking a gift horse in the mouth?” He was tall, fit, and had the prettiest dark curls and blue eyes—which was why he never had a problem scoring a date.
“You are.” He made a beeline to the balcony door and slid it open, filling the suite with warm, salty air. “And yes, I knew it was gay-friendly, and the girls have this notion that you’ll have a shipboard romance and fall in love. Maybe you will, maybe you won’t. All I know is that you’re the luckiest SOB on earth to have a family who would pick a gay cruise line just for you. And your mom even booked us all mani-pedis this afternoon. Your dad and Luke are getting massages. Bet they’re hoping that little pink pixie, Penelope, is the massage therapist.” He snorted at his own joke, obviously noting the same thing Josh did about the way Dad and Luke had been enraptured with the woman.
Chagrined by Aaron’s speech, Josh shuffled his feet, studying his sandals. He knew he was lucky. Aaron’s family would never go on a ship like this. Especially his father. The man could barely look at Aaron sometimes. His mom and brother were never cruel, but Josh always sensed they weren’t sure how to take the flamboyant Aaron. Sometimes, if Aaron had too much to drink, he’d cry or bitch about them, saying he felt more love from Josh’s family than his own.
Evidenced by the coin Dad put out for this trip, the Gilberts viewed Aaron as family too.
“Yeah, I know I sound ungrateful—”
“But I hope they don’t run around the ship looking for a man for me. That will be so humiliating. And that mistletoe fishing pole? What the heck?”
“That mistletoe got me a hot date for the Christmas costume party tonight. And your family means well,” Aaron said, leaning on the railing and tipping his face up to the sun.
Not a fan of heights, Josh popped his head out onto the balcony. “Nice view. I won’t be sitting out here.”
“Haven’t you heard about all the people who fall off cruise ships?”
Aaron scoffed. “Only jealous husbands push their wives overboard. That would never happen on a gay ship.”
Josh chuckled but wisely stepped inside. “Promise me you won’t go on the balcony after we’ve been drinking, ’kay?”
“Okay, worrywart, as long as you promise to let loose. Have fun.” Aaron gave Josh a shimmy. “This is a cruise custom designed for us!”
“Okay, I promise to have fun.”
“Ground rules.” Aaron sprawled out on the bed closest to the balcony, lacing his fingers behind his head. “If the Do Not Disturb is on the door, we won’t interrupt any hookups. Any overnighters, we have to okay with the other, that way one of us can sleep in Clare’s room.”
“Okay.” Josh laughed, doubting very much he’d have an overnight guest.
“And no fucking in each other’s bed,” Aaron added. “I love you, but even I have standards.”
“I’m fine with whatever,” Josh said. “We both know you’re the only one who’s going to be hooking up in this room. I should probably just move my stuff into Clare’s room right now.”
“You don’t know that. You could meet the man of your dreams.”
Josh scoffed, his mind revisiting a pair of green eyes and golden hair sparkling in the sunlight…. Nope, never gonna happen. “Yeah, like I’m gonna meet the man of my dreams.”
“You never know what could happen.”
“I’m too fat.”
“No, you’re not. I know how hard you’ve been trying to lose weight. You look amazing.”
“I could stand to lose another twenty pounds.”
“Don’t,” Aaron scolded. “I hate it when you get down on yourself.”
“It’s just the truth.”
“Says you. Just try and chill out for once. Don’t worry about your waistline or whatever rules you’ve made up in your head. Just go out there and have fun. Who knows? Maybe something magical will happen.”
As he unpacked, listening to Aaron list all the activities and excursions the ship offered, Josh knew he could be a stick in the mud. Well, in comparison to Aaron, anyway. But he’d been looking forward to a relaxing vacation with no computers, deadlines, or spreadsheets, and no worries. He didn’t even have to worry about any homophobes on this trip.
His thoughts alighted again on the cute photographer, Nathan.
Maybe this boyfriend cruise might not be so bad.
His family loved him enough to pick this ship, and honestly, until this moment, a shipboard romance hadn’t been an option. He hadn’t been on board half an hour and he’d already been kissed once—even if he wasn’t pleased with Mom about it.
This ship was full of potential for a guy like Josh.
Aaron was right. Josh needed to let loose this week. He’d waited his entire life to find romance, so if a chance presented itself, he should not squander the opportunity.
Even if that meant his family embarrassing him all over the Caribbean.
Please welcome my fellow Resplendence Writer, Sean Micheal to the Clog Blog. Welcome Sean.
Thank you very much for having me, Tina!
Q: You’ve written so many books, how do you make the time to write?
Writing is my job, so I do it every day. I have set times when I sit down and write, but I love it so much that I will often be writing outside of those set times as well.
Q: Where do your ideas come from?
Sometimes they come from the call I’m writing for. Other times I’ll see or hear something that will spark an idea. Or I’ll be in the mood to write something kinky and the guys who need that kind of thing will pop into my head.
Q: Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?
I tend to have a general idea of where the story is going to go, but the characters are in charge and will often go left when I think we’re headed right, so I need to be flexible or it stalls the writing. I did try outlining once because I thought I ought to be more organized and when I had finished the outline, I couldn’t write the book – like my brain said what’s the point of writing it if you’ve already told the story albeit in point form.
Q: What is the hardest thing about writing?
The business of writing is the hardest part of it. Prepping stuff for submission, filling out all the various forms the publishers need, the editing. It’s surprising how much time gets eaten up by things that aren’t actually writing.
Q: Do you ever get writer’s Block?
Sort of. I usually have anywhere from four to six documents open at any one time and I work on each of them every day. I try to give each story the same amount of attention, however sometimes there will be one or two that are ‘hot’ and easy to write, and one or two that are ‘cold’ and the writing just doesn’t come easy. So I’ll write more on the stories that are popping than the ones that are not. But being able to switch keeps a block on one story from becoming a total block.
Q: You’ve written a lot of different series, can you tell us a bit about your favorites, and what
I hate choosing favorites, in part because whatever I’m working on at the time is the current favorite, but when people ask about older books and I think back on it, I always say oh, I loved writing those guys, because truly I did. The Drawing Straws guys for instance were so much fun to write because they were a foursome full of kinky goodness (and then they went and plotted on me!)
The thing I like best about writing series is being able to revisit the characters. And I enjoy both kinds of series – the ones that follow the same characters through all the books and the ones that follow different characters with each book, but that are set I the same world and have appearances by the characters from other books in the series.
Q: What are you working on at the minute?
Let’s see what’s open today. I’m working on a kinky demons story, the second in a series I can’t talk about yet, the next Iron Eagle Gym story, the next Windbrothers book, a ghost hunters book, and a Velvet Glove book.
Q: Which writers inspire you?
I love words and how authors put them together. Off the top of my head I’d have to say Stephen King, Michael Ondaatje, Timothy Findlay, Anthony Burgess… I honestly could go on and on.
Books are wonderful things.
Q: Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?
Here is part of the first chapter.
I sat on the bench in the square across from the wharf and stared at The Ernestine, her three rows of white sails ascending upwards like outstretched wings. I hoped her beauty and my art would help mute my rage, but I wasn’t sure if it would be enough. It was dusk, and everything was quieting down, the merchants locking up their shops to head home while groups of mariners headed towards the nearby tavern. The Ernestine was the latest of the whalers to arrive in the harbor, having come back just a few days earlier, and like all the other ships that travelled in and out of New Bedford, Massachusetts, I wanted to add her to my collection of drawings. I wouldn’t have much time to get a preliminary sketch before the shadows of the night took hold, and I didn’t want to be around so long that I would have to deal with the people who populated the wharf at night. As I hastily worked on the drawing, a loud, rather slurred voice made me look up.
“Hey, I know him all to pieces.”
A rotund, mud splattered sailor swaggered towards me, followed by another tall one. Oh hell, not now, I thought. A couple of drunks was the last thing I needed. “Nat, Nat, now stop; don’t bother that boy,” said the taller one. “We ain’t here for the likes of him.”
They were probably out looking for one of the wharfside prostitutes that scurried out like roaches once darkness comes. The mariners made New Bedford a more raucous place than someone of my quiet disposition liked, and 1857 had been a particularly loud and hectic year for our town. Dozens of ships had gone out on the hunt for the sperm oil that made New Bedford one of the richest towns in America. The oil that came from sperm whales lit lamps and lubricated machinery, and our town was filled with all the makings of the industry, from immigrant sailors and wharfside prostitutes to rich shipping agents and owners. We “lit” the world with our trade.
As I watched the two sailors stagger away, my thoughts returned to the source of my rage as I recalled how my day had unfolded.
“Get out of that rack and get the hell out here, boy!”
That was how my morning began, as I shuddered awake at George Herrington’s deep booming voice. His yelling roused me from what had been a peaceful dream of Father. We were together again, on a sailing ship staring out onto a purplish tinged sea. For a moment my dream had felt so real, and I had been happy again, but then reality in the form of Herrington’s yelling scared me awake, back to my misery. Before I could even sit up, he was in my room, shoving me off of my bed.
“Did I not tell you last night to unpack my tools and set them in the sheds? Why are they still in the front sitting room?”
“It was too dark out there and I thought it could wait until today,” I said.
“Well your breakfast will wait then until you’re done unpacking those boxes,” he snarled. “Get out there and do it now.”
Bastard. Damn bastard, I thought, as I hurried out the back door dragging one of his heavy boxes. I hated him and could not wait till his ship left port for a hunt again, so that First Mate Herrington would go away for a long, long time. I still could not believe that Mother had married him not even two months after Father was laid in the ground. What did she see in him? He was uncouth and so young. It wasn’t proper. I had barely dragged the box into one of the sheds when he was bellowing again.
“Hurry up and get to the other boxes, boy. Stop your dawdling.” The work and the endless brow beating continued for most of the day, until I could stand it no longer and just stopped. After dinner, Herrington sat relaxing on the settee that Father had paid for, and I finally let my face express just what I thought of him.
“Do not look at me that way, boy,” he said.
“In what way?” I chided. Herrington jumped up, lunging for me, but I quickly stepped back, right into Mother who had come into the room.
“Nicolas, come here,” she said grabbing me by the shoulders and guiding me into the kitchen.
“You cannot continue to treat George with disrespect,” she said. “He is your father now.”
“Never,” I said. “That will never be my father. Mother, what were you thinking? I don’t understand why you married him. He’s so much younger than you, in his 20s; the thought of you with him sickens me.”
She looked away for a moment and then quietly answered.
“We need to move on with our lives Nicolas; this is in everyone’s best interest.”
“But Father is barely buried,” I blurted out. “You dishonor him and you dishonor yourself. Do you know what the neighbors think? I overheard Mrs. Dorsett and Mrs. Barnes talking, and I was so embarrassed. Do you know what type of woman they are saying you are?”
She slapped me then, which surprised me as she had never hit me before.
“I’m sor—…” Mother began. I didn’t stay to hear what else she had to say. Instead I ran to my room, grabbed my pencils and sketch pad and ran out the back door to the wharf, where I attempted to continue my drawing. But my art would have to wait for another day.
“What? Up to this foolishness again?”
Before I could react to the voice that at first startled me, my sketchbook was snatched out of my lap.
“Idiot,” I snapped, looking up to see Henry’s smirking face, a prankish twinkle appearing in his deep, hazel eyes. He was dressed quite formally, in a dark blue suit, gold vest, and cravat. “Why so fancy?” I asked.
“So I see you are wasting your time again in this foul part of town,” Henry said, ignoring my question. “It’s not bad,” he said assessing the drawing and dropping the sketchbook back into my lap. “But I have better plans for tonight.”
“What?” I asked, knowing that whatever it was would probably involve some mischief.
Henry had been my best friend since childhood; we had met at the wharfside, and unlikely best friends we’d become. We were different in so many ways. I was artistic; he athletic. He was outgoing; I introverted. And then there was the matter of our families. Henry’s father was a wealthy whaling agent and ship owner, and Henry lived in a grand house that was visited by all the important people in town. My father, Sam, had been a blacksmith, and we lived in a small house near the wharf district. The only time we saw town “royalty” was when they came to order something from my father. Yet, although we were very different, we had somehow connected right away. Henry had once told me that I wasn’t what he expected. I think he thought that I would be like the sailors—rough and loud—a product of my class. “You are surprisingly refined,” he once told me.
But Henry was wrong to judge everyone to be the same. Although my father was a blacksmith, he was a quiet, reflective, and religious man who had never cursed in front of me, and although he was a tradesman, he was quite literate. I had been raised in a home where books were valued, especially the Bible, which he read aloud to me every Sunday. But there was something else that connected Henry and me, a strong interest-in-common that kept our friendship going. It was a love of trickery. I may have been quiet, but I loved pulling the wool over others’ eyes. Through the years Henry and I had played many jokes on schoolmates and others, like “haunting” the Roderick manor when they were away for the summer in Europe, causing so many rumors that the family feared to move back into their home when they returned. Now I wondered what he was thinking of doing.
“What’s your idea?” I asked.
“You will pretend to be me tonight.”
“It’s Father. He’s met some new person, a Mr. Witham, who recently moved into town—a wealthy judge with a daughter around our age, and he and Father got to talking and managed to arrange for me to have supper with Mr. Witham and his daughter Shelley tonight. I do not want to sit through some God-awful meal with people who mean nothing to me, and this could make it interesting.”
“Perhaps it won’t be so bad for you,” I said. “Maybe you’ll find her pretty.”
“You know I don’t care,” Henry said.
“Well they do,” I said. Henry’s parents had decided it was time that he began thinking of having a serious courtship. After all, by the time his father was our age, fifteen, he had already decided that Henry’s mother would eventually become his wife. It’s not like Henry couldn’t have his pick of girls in town. His family was rich and he was handsome, his dark hair and eyes luminous against his fair skin. The girls blushed and giggled or flirted when they were near him, vying for his attention, but he never seemed to pay them much interest.
“Come on. Help me out here.”
“Okay,” I mulled. “It could be fun, but I don’t think it will work. We don’t look anything alike.”
Our differences, like day and night, extended to our looks. I had inherited my father’s fair looks, with light blue eyes and blond hair. “Mr. Witham has not seen me yet,” Henry said.
“Fine,” I said, “but what about our clothes? These chore rags just won’t make anyone believe that I’m the son of Mr. Lawton.”
“We’ll switch out of them. Let’s duck behind the trees here.”
“Okay,” I said, watching as Henry began tugging at his cravat and removing his coat. As we began walking towards the clump of trees that bordered the back of the square, we suddenly heard the clomping of horses racing down the road. I looked up to see Henry’s family coach pull up to the curb.
Please welcome published LGBT Author Lourdes R. Florido, to the Clog Blog. Lourdes, how long have you been writing?
I wrote my first piece of fiction when I was in the 2nd grade. I remember it was a very short story about ants. But of course it all started with a love of words and reading. When I first learned to read I became immediately fascinated with words, driving my brother and sister crazy as we sat in the back of my parent’s car, when they were driving us somewhere, and I would read aloud every street or business sign we would pass. That fascination was soon funneled into the books my parents would buy me and eventually into my writing stories.
Q: What books have most influenced your life most?
I have five that I feel have influenced not only my writing but my interests in literature:
The Outsiders – S.E. Hinton
A Separate Peace – John Knowles
Wuthering Heights- Emily Bronte
Treasure Island – Robert Louis Stevenson
Lord of the Rings – J.R.R. Tolkien
The Outsiders and A Separate Peace cemented my love of “bromances”(if you want to call them that) and my fascination with exploring friendships between two guys which of course is a major part of Nicolas’ and Henry’s story in a Whisper of Angels, except these two best friends happen to be soulmates who are secretly in love with each other. Wuthering Heights best exemplifies the type of historical romances I love. I’m a big fan of the Bronte sisters, Jane Austen, E.M Forster, Edith Wharton, Thomas Hardy, and others. The last two novels, Treasure Island and The Lord of the Rings touch on two areas of fascination and reading interests for me: maritime history and fantasy literature, both of which are reflected in A Whisper of Angels which is a paranormal love story.
Q: Do you have a specific writing style?
I don’t think I have one specific style, but with A Whisper of Angels, I tried in my writing to exude the tone that is found in so many of the 19th century classic romances I love.
Q: Do you ever suffer from Writer’s Block and how do you move past it?
Yes, sometimes. I have to get up and away from the computer and take a walk (preferably with my dogs) to see if a breakthrough of ideas comes. I also try to skip forward to another scene that perhaps I’d thought about ,but not started writing yet, to see if that gets the words flowing.
Q: What do you think is the biggest misconception in LGBT fiction?
Some people think that LGBT fiction is written only by LGBT people for gay audiences. While obviously it is for gay audiences, it can extend to general audiences too. I’ve had many people tell me that they were surprised that I, a straight woman, had written a story about two gay young men, and then these same people having never read a gay story before mine, told me they were pleasantly surprised to discover they enjoyed the novel and the different genres it encompassed.
Q: Would you tell us your story of getting “the call?”
I’m not sure what “call” you mean, so I’ll just answer it in a couple of ways and hope that will suffice. I you mean the call to write I explained it in the first answer, and would just add that the call extended itself into my professional life. For a while I worked as a fulltime print journalist and now teach composition and literature. If you mean “the call” to write LGBT fiction, I would say that it was my main character Nicolas who drove that decision. That’s just who he turned out to be – a gay young man in love with his best friend, in a time period when that would never be acceptable. Another influence was probably the fact that I’ve always had gay friends and experiences with the LGBT community. It started during my middle school years with my best friend’s mother who was a lesbian who lived with her partner during a time when most people did not publically divulge their lifestyles.
Q: What are your current projects?
I’ve been working on a historical romance set in Key West for a while. But I’ve set it aside for now to work strictly on Book 2 of “A Whisper of Angels”. It’s written from Henry’s viewpoint, which is challenging because he has a very different voice. The book will wrap up a few loose ends that lingered from the first novel as well as introduces a few surprises from Henry’s past life.
Q: Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?
Look for me and contact me on Goodreads and Facebook:
Caution: M/M Sexy Teaser ahead. Includes some language.
TJ slipped into the bathroom and took care of business. He got all the way back to his chair before he realized it.
He wasn’t alone.
He whirled, the Beretta from under the console cold in his hand.
“It’s me, Teej. It’s okay.”
Mother fucker. Craig leaned against the wall to the left of the door. TJ hadn’t even smelled him!
“I can be unnoticed if I want to,” Craig murmured. “Don’t be scared.”
“I’m not scared.” TJ flushed, shame and rage chasing away the afterglow. He put the gun back without taking his eyes off Craig’s face. “And why exactly can’t I smell you? I’m a freakin’ weretiger.”
Granted, he wasn’t the best in Neal Harrison’s squad of former-Marines-changed-into-tiger-shifters, but he had a decent nose on him.
“My mom’s a witch, remember? I know all sorts of tricks.” Craig pushed off the wall with his hips and undulated toward TJ. The leather pants moved like a second skin and TJ felt like his eyes locked on the swell at the crotch.
Craig certainly wasn’t small, that was for sure.
Fuck, man! He hauled his eyes up but the fucking guy wore no shirt under that black silk vest. A silver herringbone chain hung to just below his throat. TJ sank to the chair.
Part of his mind noted Craig’s nipples were a lot darker than Dillon’s, like dark cherry cola.
The monitors, Teej, look at the monitors.
He spun his chair and gripped the armrests with slick hands. He couldn’t get enough air, dammit.
He called me Teej.
Craig’s hands slipped onto his shoulders and he jumped.
“We know you watch us,” Craig whispered in his ear. His breath tickled, both TJ’s ear and things all the way down.
“I have to, it’s my job –”
“Shh,” Craig interrupted.
TJ started to argue, to deny it, but Craig’s mouth closed on his flesh. TJ froze.
“You taste good.” Craig licked the skin under TJ’s earlobe. “We want you to watch us. We want you to join us.”
A bolt of panic went through him from his throat to his ass. “What?” His voice came out all breathy and weak-sounding.
“Don’t wait too long, Teej.”
“Why? The offer’s only short-term?”
Craig leaned forward, his naked chest hot against TJ’s arm and shoulder. Craig stroked a hand over TJ’s buzz cut and cupped the back of his head. His mouth came up flush against TJ’s ear.
“I can’t make Dillon wait much longer, Teej. So make up your mind, or he’ll do it for you.” He kissed TJ’s scalp. “We know you want us.”
TJ squeezed his eyes closed and tried to just breathe. Breathe, dammit, breathe.
Craig’s left hand cupped his face, the palm hot. TJ didn’t resist as he moved his head, thinking Craig just wanted TJ to look at him.
Craig kissed him.
And holy shit, but the cameras didn’t show the half of Craig’s talent.
His tongue slipped past TJ’s lips. He tasted like strong peppermint candy and then Craig flipped the fucking mint into TJ’s mouth. Craig hands felt hot enough they nearly burned, and he used the one on the back of TJ’s neck to press them together. It lasted a lifetime, but Craig pulled away all too soon.
He spoke from inches away. “We want you, TJ. Please stop making us wait.” He held TJ’s eyes a moment longer and then squeezed the back of his neck.
His hands left an impression of heat behind and TJ watched him walk out.
Don’t go, he tried to say. Wait, God, please…
The door, when it closed behind Craig, seemed mocking.
Fuck, dammit, fuck!
Join me next week when I interview Romance Author Adam Mann. ~Tina