Please welcome L.J. LaBarthe and
Book, Line, and Sinker
After seventeen years serving in the Australian Army, Ash returns to his childhood home in the outback town of Quorn. Filled with the desire to live a happy life in peace and with loved ones, Ash is grimly determined to beat his PTSD and tackle his flashbacks.
What Ash isn’t prepared for is Jaxon, the new librarian in Quorn. Jaxon is calm, gentle, kind, and a rock for Ash’s battered psyche. Ash finds himself falling for the handsome newcomer, even as his mind and memories of the past torment him.
When he has the idea for a mobile library to bring books and entertainment to remote communities in the far north, Ash is delighted that Jaxon is with him every step of the way. But though the library, called Book, Line, and Sinker, takes off, Ash’s past continues to plague him. Can Jaxon’s love be enough to keep them together until Ash is strong enough to stand on his own?
“I was about to suggest coming and having a look at my library, but you’ve probably read the entire collection.” Jaxon laughed. “So why don’t you come to my place tomorrow and check out my own personal books? Maybe getting back into reading for pleasure will help a bit with your memories, give your mind something else to think about rather than what you’ve seen and experienced. Sort of a… brain distraction, so you can regroup and feel better about yourself and make some decisions without feeling like your war experience is hanging over you.”
Ash blinked, once again startled by how perceptive Jaxon was. That, along with going to the district hospital on Monday morning to see about getting an appointment with the psychiatrist, was a great idea.
“You’re a genius,” Evie said, even as Ash nodded.
“I’d like that a lot. Thanks, Jaxon.”
“No problem. Why don’t you come over, say around three in the arvo, then stay for dinner? I cook a mean Bolognese.”
“You’re on.” Ash grinned. “And I’ll bring a bottle of wine. It’s not like I don’t have access to a large selection.” He gestured at the bar.
Jaxon and Evie laughed. “We are pretty well stocked in that department,” Evie said. “Tourists love it. Mind you, the smaller wineries that we stock get people visiting them to buy at their cellar door too, so it’s a good arrangement we have. They sell to us, we promote them, they promote us, tourists visit here and there.”
“The circle of tourism life,” Jaxon said.
Ash laughed. “Nothing wrong with that.”
“Hell no, nothing at all. I keep telling your sister here that I want to go up north into the desert to visit Lyndhurst and Farina.”
Evie wrinkled her nose. “I’m so sorry, Jax. I promised I’d take you up there and I will…”
“I know. I’m only teasing you. I know you’re heaps busy here.”
“I’ll take you up there,” Ash offered. “I know my way around just as well as Evie.”
“That’s true,” Evie agreed.
“All right. Books and dinner in exchange for a trip further north,” Jaxon said. He was smiling wide and bright and Ash’s heart gave a little flip-flop.
“Done and done,” he said, even as he thought to himself, You’re so fucking gorgeous and so fucking nice, I could see us being together.
“Cool. Okay, I better head off. I’ll see you tomorrow, Ash. And I’ll see you later, Evie.”
Evie laughed and stood, giving Jaxon a quick hug. “You’ll probably see me in a day or so when you pop in for a beer.”
“That’s true. Have a good night, guys.” Jaxon gave them a cheery wave and made his way out of the pub.
“So.” Evie leaned close to Ash. “What do you think?”
“About which?” Ash knew exactly what she was asking him, but he decided he wanted to pretend that he didn’t in order to make her say it.
Evie made a small noise of frustration that sounded a little like a growl. “About Jaxon, Ash.”
“I think he’s a very nice guy,” Ash said honestly.
“He’s pretty hot, yeah.”
“Good.” Evie looked pleased.
“Are you planning on setting us up for dates? Buying us an evening for two up at the Wilpena Pound Resort, set up with candles and intimate lighting, all of that?” Ash was trying not to laugh.
“I wasn’t, but that’s a great idea, thanks!” Evie grinned hugely at him.
Ash groaned. “Evie!”
“Ha, you shouldn’t have suggested it if you didn’t think I’d do it.”
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About the author:
L.J. LaBarthe is a French-Australian woman, who was born during the Witching Hour, just after midnight. From this auspicious beginning, she went on to write a prize-winning short story about Humpty Dumpty wearing an Aussie hat complete with corks dangling from it when she was six years old. From there, she wrote for her high school yearbook, her university newspaper, and, from her early teens to her twenties, produced a fanzine about the local punk rock music scene. She loves music of all kinds and was once a classical pianist; she loves languages and speaks French and English and a teeny-tiny smattering of Mandarin Chinese, which she hopes to relearn properly very soon. She enjoys TV, film, travel, cooking, eating out, abandoned places, urbex, history, and researching. L.J. loves to read complicated plots and hopes to do complex plot lines justice in her own writing. She writes paranormal, historical, urban fantasy, and contemporary Australian stories, usually m/m romance and featuring m/m erotica. She has won a Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention and another award for Best Historical Gay Novel.
L.J. lives in the city of Adelaide, and is owned by her cat.
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