Welcome to our Grand Finale celebrations for the fabulous
In today's post, we'll spend some time looking at Fractured Hymns, and Unearthing Cole and Understanding Jeremy, from the Discovering Me series. Also, our Q&A with the author, plus one more chance to win!!
First up, Fractured Hymns
Still firmly in the closet at the age of thirty, Ethaniel Shockley is content leading a solitary—if lonely—life working on a construction crew with fellow military vets. After a tragic worksite accident leaves two of his friends dead, Ethaniel returns to his family home to recuperate from a spiral leg fracture and severe Post Concussive Syndrome. He may be lucky to be alive, but he hates the independence he’s lost.
Matthew “Angel” Garrett has worked at Shockley Stables for three years, content to muck stalls and polish saddles, and to be as unnoticeable as possible. Except for weekly church outings, he avoids going into town so he doesn’t see The Look. The Look that says “I know you went to prison for killing a man.”
A chance conversation with Ethaniel gives Angel hope that maybe he can have a friendship with the gorgeous Shockley sibling he’s crushed on for years. But the more time they spend indulging in their shared love of music, the clearer it becomes that they both want more. Ethaniel sees a kindred spirit in Angel, whose soul is just as fractured from his time in prison as Ethaniel’s is from war. But Angel has another, deeper secret that haunts him—one he’s positive will destroy this new song with Ethaniel before it’s even written.
“May I touch your face?”
Angel’s breath caught, stunned into silence by the straightforward but overwhelming question. That Ethaniel had asked permission to do something so simple was amazing and intensely considerate. Ethaniel wanted to touch him, but he didn’t want to surprise or startle, or to take liberties.
He blinked hard, making sure he was awake and aware. Other than the occasional hug or pat from Ruth, no one besides Ethaniel had touched him with intent in years. He hadn’t given it much thought before, but now Angel craved touch. His skin begged for it.
“Yes,” Angel said. “You may.”
Ethaniel shifted his weight to his left side, freeing his right hand from the crutch handle. It rose, and while Angel wanted to track the progress of those fingers, he couldn’t stop watching Ethaniel’s face. Intense green eyes studied him as though he was a precious mystery worth solving, taking in every detail, every tic of muscle. Heat ghosted near Angel’s cheek, a shadow of a touch.
Angel’s pulse quickened. His breath came shorter. Anticipation curled deep in his gut, a burning warmth that lit him up. No contact yet, and already he wanted to fly to the moon.
Work-roughened skin—a thumb, maybe—brushed the arch of Angel’s left cheekbone. Angel gasped. Heat flared in Ethaniel’s eyes. Eyes burning with something Angel couldn’t name. He was too scared of losing it to name it, so he remained still and experienced this.
The thumb traced a soft line across his cheekbone, back to the top of his ear. Stopped. Descended along his jaw, around to his chin. The path left scorching skin behind. Skin awake and aware and needing more. The thumb became two fingers, and they danced the same path. Angel pressed into the touch, needing more. Ethaniel’s palm cupped his cheek, fingers splayed, an electric touch that zinged through Angel’s heart.
How could something this simple be more powerful than the best orgasm of his life? The contact was far from sexual, and yet Angel felt naked. Seen. The only person on Earth who mattered to Ethaniel. Only this skin on skin connection mattered. Ethaniel’s thumb circled in slowly widening arcs, until its path nearly touched Angel’s nose. His chin trembled. He was desperate for Ethaniel to meet his gaze, but those gleaming emeralds remained fixed on his explorations.
Ethaniel was a beautiful man, but he had never looked more exquisite than in that moment, in a shadowed screen house, lightly stroking Angel’s face.
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Secondly today, Unearthing Cole (Discovering Me #1)
Cole Alston swore he’d never return to his childhood home in rural North Carolina, but when his mother dies, he inherits her hoarded property. He hopes to sell everything and use the money to start over in Canada, far away from his abusive ex-boyfriend. It’s a daunting task, and Cole has no idea where to start.
Luckily for him, the local antique store owner, Jeremy Collins, volunteers his services in sorting the hoard. Their professional relationship soon evolves into a personal one, but Cole must overcome his past and his anxiety before he can accept a new man in his life or the possibility of a happy future.
I rinsed the plate and started to put it into the dish drainer. He grabbed the plate, brushing my hand with the tips of his fingers. Despite the water soaking my skin, I felt that same unexpected tingle of contact. This time, it shot all the way to my guts and left my insides squirming.
He took the plate and dried it carefully before placing it on the counter. We created an easy, quiet rhythm. I’d wash and rinse. He’d take and dry, making contact each and every time. The last thing was the frying pan, which was a little unwieldy despite the large sink basin. As I went to rinse, I managed to splash us both with soapy water.
“Crap,” I said. Water dripped off the counter to the floor, and the front of my own shirt was soaked. The puddle on the floor concerned me more, though, and it was spreading. I put the frying pan down in the drainer, then snatched the towel from Jeremy, all warm thoughts fleeing under a new sense of panic. I’d just made a mess in his perfectly ordered home.
“I’m so sorry,” I said as I squatted down to mop up the water. The towel was already damp and not doing much to sponge up the puddle.
Jeremy disappeared, then came back fast with another dish towel. He crouched to wipe the cabinet beneath the sink. “It’s okay, it’s just water,” he said.
“That I spilled. I should have been more careful.” The worst of the spill was gone, but the floor still seemed damp. Maybe it was my imagination. I rubbed at it with a dry corner of the towel. The floors were hardwood. If they warped—
“Hey.” Jeremy’s hand closed over mine, stilling my rapid scrubbing motions. I tensed. This was the calm before the storm. The blow always came when I least expected it. “Cole, look at me.”
I stared at a shiny spot on the floor, ashamed of the way my whole body shook with the force of a phantom strike. Crap. I needed to get out of there before I humiliated myself any more. Before Jeremy realized what a complete mess and waste of time I was and backed out of our business arrangement.
“I have to go.” I stumbled trying to stand up. Jeremy rose at the same time and grabbed my forearms so I didn’t pitch over onto my ass. This time, though, his touch sent a surge of irrational fear through my guts, chilling me right through. I flinched and looked away, but I’d lost the strength to try and fight him. Lost it to the memory of dozens of battles I’d failed to defend myself in over the years.
We both stood there, me tense and breathing hard, and him…. I wasn’t sure. I couldn’t look at him, even when he relaxed his grip on my arms, gentling it into a light touch.“Cole, I’m not going to hurt you,” he said in a soft, placating tone that calmed some of the fear racing through me. “I promise I won’t.”
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And the sequel, Understanding Jeremy
No one in Jeremy Collins's life ever stays. His parents, sister, and wife are all dead. Now he has taken Cole Alston into his home to help him recover from years of abuse at the hands of his ex. Jeremy hopes Cole, who he loves, will stick around, but after eight years of Cole not being allowed to make his own choices, Jeremy doesn't think he has the right to ask. As Jeremy keeps his concerns and desires to himself, his best friend Bethann calls on him for a huge favor--claim he's the father of her baby so she isn't ostracized in their small town for sleeping with a married man.
However doing so would be tantamount to denying his relationship with Cole. Rumors fly before Jeremy can explain to Cole that he said no, and suddenly the whole town is in his business. Rather than reassure Cole, Jeremy's explanations have the opposite effect. Something is going on in Cole's mind that Jeremy doesn't know about, and in order to get Cole to talk, Jeremy will need to confront his own deepest fear.
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And now, our Q&A with A.M. Arthur
1. What inspires you? What gets you writing?
That’s always a tough question to answer. I suppose I’m inspired by my characters. They have to come alive and tease me with their story and how amazing it’s going to be in order to get my butt in my office chair every day. And I always know if I’m working on the wrong book, because I will get easily distracted and do everything except write.
2. What's your writing process? Seat of your pants, lots of sticky notes, complex spreadsheets?
I’m a mix. When I begin a new book, I always have to write up character biographies of my two main characters. I need to know where they’ve been, what they’ve done, and what their current struggles are when the story begins. And depending on those bios, I may do a little bit of outlining. Sometimes I outline a book scene-by-scene for chapters at a time; sometimes I write notes about a scene in the last half, or a scene I want to write at some point. It really depends on the project.
3. Which character from your books is your favorite, and why?
If you asked my most dedicated readers this question, a lot of them would say Tristan Lavalle (The World As He Sees It) is their personal favorite, and I adore Tristan so much. But my own personal favorite character? Ezra Kelley (Maybe This Time). I’m not sure what it is about Ezra that’s stuck with me years later. He began so independent, and then he allowed Donner into his heart. He allowed new friends into his home. He’s sassy and smart-mouthed and so, so strong.
4. Which character is your least favorite, and why?
Brett Jones (Finding Their Way). He is one of the few characters I’ve ever written who is one-hundred percent irredeemable. He’s a selfish, self-absorbed asshole who is unlikely to change. Thank God he’s an antagonist, and not a main character.
5. If you could go back into one of your books and change one thing, what would that be? And why?
I don’t know. My books aren’t perfect, and they could all probably be tweaked here and there to make them even better, but I’m proud of my books as they are. I told the stories I wanted to tell…oh, I take that back! There are two things in my currently out-of-print novellas, Frozen and Prodigal, that I had to change during initial publication to make my editor happy. Now that I’m re-issuing them, I got to change the thing back! It sounds strange, but back then the publisher, Musa, absolutely required condom use for all sex scenes, period, so despite perfectly valid reasons for the two different couples to 1) have no condoms between them, and 2) not need to use them, I shoe-horned in ways to get condoms into the scenes. This probably sounds weird to want them gone, but it makes sense in those novellas (they’re both supernatural).
6. What's next for you? What amazing book are you working on?
So many things! I have two new releases in February 2017. The third Off Beat novel (and my first ménage), Hot Licks comes out and completes that trilogy. And the third All Saints novel, As I Am, finally gets to tell Will Madden’s story. Currently I’m working on a book that will be a spin-off of the Perspectives series. I’m also writing a third novella to accompany Prodigal and Frozen when I re-release them. Plus a sixth Cost of Repairs novel, and I have a new idea for a foodie series….
7. Anything else you'd like to share with your readers?
Only that I appreciate every single one of them for reading my books, reviewing, blogging, and talking about them to their friends and on social media. Every new sale makes it possible for the next book to be written, and their continued support means the world to me.
More about the author:
No stranger to the writing world, A.M. Arthur has been creating stories in her head since she was a child and scribbling them down nearly as long. She credits an early fascination with male friendships and "bromance" (and "The Young Riders") with her later discovery of and subsequent affair with m/m romance stories. When not writing, she can be found in her kitchen, pretending she's an amateur chef and trying to not poison herself or others with her cuisine experiments. You can contact her at AM_Arthur(at)yahoo(dot)com. Find out more on her website.
Thanks for celebrating this wonderful author with us. We hope you found a few new books to add to your TBR!
There will not be an AotM in December, but we'll return with a new line-up in January 2017.
Until then, happy reading!