Welcome to our first week of celebrations for the amazing
In our first post, we will look at the Dropping Anchor series, plus Bru's favorite things. All the way at the bottom is also a chance to win one of her books!
First up, Island House
Unable to move on after the death of his lover, British expat Niall Ahern clings to Nolan's dream of living in the Caribbean by moving to Tortola. Once there, he finds that not even the beauty of the island can fill the hole in his heart. Broke and spent in nearly every way imaginable, Niall wants out of the lonely, miserable, guilt-ridden life he's carved out for himself.
When Ethan Bettencourt, a wealthy tech guru, shows up in British Virgin Islands looking to purchase a second home, he gives Niall hope that he can move on. Both men fall hard and fast, but Niall finds piloting his yacht in the midst of a hurricane is nothing compared to weathering life's simple misunderstandings. As their troubles come between them, Niall is left to wonder if he and Ethan are over before they've begun.
The voice belonged to a tall, dark-haired man who would have been handsome save for the stubble covering his face. The rugged two-day growth transformed his slightly sharp features into something dangerous, and paired with his slight tan and blue eyes, the end result was nothing short of breathtakingly gorgeous. Were it not for the faded button-down and pair of tattered Dockers the man was wearing, Niall would have sworn he was an 18th century pirate somehow transported to the modern day.
“Sorry?” Niall asked when it became clear the would-be pirate was talking to him again.
“I asked if you were Niall Ahern,” the man said, blue eyes narrowed slightly as he studied Niall.
“He said he’d be here to pick me up—”
“Mr. Bettencourt! I’m so sorry, sir,” Niall said, rushing forward. He wasn’t sure if he should shake his hand or offer to take his luggage, and as a result he did neither, hand raised awkwardly in front of him as his mind tried to catch up and figure out what to do.
Bettencourt solved Niall’s dilemma by shifting his bag to his other hand and reaching out to take Niall’s half-raised hand. “Call me Ethan.”
The contact had Niall cringing inside, the cool skin of Ethan’s hand making him even more aware of his own sweaty palm.
“Of course,” Niall said, cursing himself for being so flustered. He’d never had this problem before when greeting important clients. Of course, he’d never had an important client who was as gorgeous as Ethan, nor one who could keep Niall’s business afloat for another year with a single transaction.
“My car is just outside,” Niall said, reaching out with more grace this time to take Ethan’s bag.
Ethan let him, his full lips quirking into a small smile that had Niall’s heart racing again. “I thought you might like a chance to settle in at the hotel. If you like, I can leave you with some of the information on the listings we’ll be looking at tomorrow.”
Ethan’s eyes narrowed slightly, and he dug in his pocket, pulling out a Blackberry that looked like it had been through a war zone. Before Niall could say anything, Ethan had dialed and was pressing the phone against his ear, his tanned knuckles skimming his jaw.
“Explain to me why Mr. Ahern has no idea I’m staying with him for the duration of my trip to Tortola,” he barked into the phone without preamble.
Niall’s brow creased, his brain registering Ethan’s words. He swallowed, mentally inventorying the state of his house. He hadn’t been home in weeks, as per his usual September routine. It was the one month out of the year Niall decamped to his boat and lived on it full-time. His quick trip home to change into the suit he was wearing had been the first time he’d been in the bungalow since the beginning of the month. Niall made a quick mental study of the rooms, trying to picture whether he’d seen laundry strewn around the bathroom or plates cluttering the kitchen. He didn’t think there had been.
“Apparently there has been a miscommunication.” Ethan ground his teeth together, the motion making the tendons in his neck stand out in a way Niall knew should have been off-putting but wasn’t. “Susannah somehow overlooked the arrangements your secretary sent her along with the appointment confirmation.”
Niall felt for the secretary. It couldn’t be easy to work for someone as demanding as Ethan Bettencourt. He was beginning to find that out firsthand, and he’d only been in his employ for several minutes.
“I only have thirty-six hours to find a home, Ahern, and I don’t intend to waste any of them lounging poolside,” Ethan snapped. Niall stiffened his spine at the insult. “I’ll be staying with you. If you have a problem with that, I’ll find someone else to work with.”
Niall’s lips flattened at the threat. There were plenty of other firms on Tortola Ethan could give his business to; Niall knew that all too well. He was sure Ethan knew he couldn’t afford to lose the commission; in fact, he wouldn’t put it past him to have picked Niall’s firm simply because he knew Niall’s desperation would make him agree to just about anything.
“You’d be much more comfortable at a hotel.” Niall ground the words out, forcing himself to smile.
Ethan studied him for a second before patting his pockets in search of his phone. Niall was about to point it out on his suitcase when Ethan pulled a slimmer, sleeker phone out of his shirt pocket. It was much more in line with what Niall had expected a man like Ethan to carry.
“Change in plans.” Just like before, Ethan didn’t pause for the person on the other end to get a greeting in. “Refuel the plane and have it ready for me in ten minutes.”
Niall’s eyes widened and he stepped forward slightly, panicked. “I—”
“Joe? Never mind.”
Niall watched Ethan end the call, Ethan’s full lips twisted into a smirk. It made Niall wonder if Ethan really would have left. The calculating gleam in the other man’s eyes made him pretty certain it hadn’t been an empty threat.
“Right.” Niall jogged a few paces to catch up with Ethan and Jacks, the wind outside drawing his attention for the first time. It had kicked up considerably since he’d arrived at the airport. The tall palms were thrashing from side to side and the sky was an ominous shade of dark gray.
“Didn’t think Sookie was supposed to make landfall here,” Niall said, squinting at the clouds that seemed to be hovering unusually low.
“That’s Thalia.” Ethan shrugged when both Jacks and Niall looked surprised to hear him weigh in. “Sookie fell apart, but Thalia was right behind it. Looks like we won’t get so lucky with her.”
God, he hoped the storm didn’t actually hit, Niall thought sourly as he opened the trunk. That’s all he needed, to be stuck in a tiny bungalow with his jackass of a client during a tropical storm.
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Second in the series, Finding Home
When an inheritance fell in Ian Mackay's lap, he fled the high-pressure banking industry and didn't look back. Since then, he's spent four years living carefree on the island of Tortola, his life a series of hookups and hanging out with friends.
After his best friend moves to Seattle and gets married, Ian finds himself lost. His unapologetic existence doesn't hold the same appeal, and he wonders if he's throwing his life away. After visiting Niall in Seattle, Ian decides to stay, but that means taking his life off hold and finding a real job. Meeting Luke Keys, who is about as far from a player as possible, isn't the plan but might be just what Ian needs. Luke and his values intrigue Ian, and he pursues Luke ruthlessly until Luke agrees to a date.
Their courtship sweeps Ian off his feet, and when the relationship gets complicated, Ian has the chance to cut and run. Habits born from years of being on his own are hard to shake, and self-proclaimed playboy Ian must decide if love is worth fighting for.
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Third in the series, Playing House
College sweethearts Frank and Warner have been together for sixteen years, married for eleven. Having grown up in a freewheeling hippie environment, Frank thinks their structured life is great, although lately he and Warner have fallen into a rut. Frank isn't concerned; it's what happens to old marrieds. Frank’s blindsided, though, when he finds Warner looking into adopting, and Frank realizes just how not okay things really are.
Frank doesn’t want kids. They bring chaos and unpredictability. He had enough of that growing up. Trying to salvage their relationship, Frank and Warner reach out for help. In the process of marriage counseling and working through their differences, Frank discovers his rigid adherence to schedules, anxiety attacks, and host of personality quirks are actually markers for Asperger Syndrome. With the help of a psychologist, Frank’s life gets easier, and he realizes a future with children isn’t as unfathomable as he once thought.
Through it all, Frank is stunned by how much making a family with Warner has boosted the intimacy between them. It’s taken thirty-five years, but he’s finally got a handle on life, and the future looks even better.
“ARE YOU packed?” Frank looked doubtfully at the duffel bag on the floor next to Warner’s feet. He could have fit four of them inside his suitcase.
Frank sighed. “Is that a question?”
“Well, I have swim trunks, a few pairs of shorts and T-shirts, and some clean underwear. I figure I’m good.”
Which was why Frank’s own suitcase was bulging. He’d known Warner would half ass the packing; he always did. Warner didn’t do big picture well. He was always forgetting things like shampoo or shoes.
“You don’t think you’re going to need anything else?” Frank had packed a nicer outfit for each of them, as well as extra sunscreen and Warner’s running clothes and shoes. He figured neither of them would want to miss out on the chance to run on the beach.
“We’re spending a week in a house on the beach. What else could I need? It’s going to be beach-pool-relax, repeat.”
Warner’s sunny grin was infectious, and Frank found himself returning it despite his annoyance.
“You have your passport?”
He knew Warner didn’t because Frank had found it at the bottom of the desk drawer when he’d been looking for their voltage adapter. Frank wasn’t sure what kind of plugs there were in the British Virgin Islands, but he wanted to be prepared just in case they weren’t the same kind they had at home.
Warner looked stricken. “Er, no.”
“But you know where it is?” Frank prompted, trying to make a point about Warner’s disorganization. He’d been trying for years, and it hadn’t sunk in yet, but that didn’t deter him. At some point Warner would have to learn his lesson, wouldn’t he?
“No,” Warner said, drawing the word out. He narrowed his eyes at Frank. “But I bet you do.”
Frank wasn’t prepared for Warner’s flying tackle. The two of them landed hard on the couch, and Frank didn’t have a chance to defend himself before Warner started going through his pockets.
“Aha!” Warner crowed triumphantly when he pulled two passports out of the pocket of Frank’s cargo shorts. He dropped a kiss on Frank’s nose and stood. “Yes, I know where my passport is,” he said, waving it around with a grin.
Frank harrumphed good-naturedly. “Cheater. Good thing I found that, or you’d be out of luck.”
Warner shrugged and tossed both passports back to Frank. “I know I have you to look out for me.”
Maybe that was the key. Frank should just stop tying up all of Warner’s loose ends if he wanted to teach him a lesson. But then he’d be in Tortola without appropriate clothes or any toiletries. Frank sighed.
“You’re lucky you’re cute.”
Warner beamed. “I like to think you put up with me because of a combination of my good looks and my amazing personality,” he said, batting his eyelashes.
His long lashes and striking hazel eyes made the gesture especially effective. They were light enough to be almost startling set against his mocha skin. Warner’s father had died before Frank had met Warner, but he figured Warner must have inherited his eyes from him. Warner’s mother had brown eyes and skin a few shades darker than Warner’s. His siblings all looked like him, a gorgeous mix of features from their Senegalese mother and Chicago-born Caucasian father. There was no doubt Warner and his sisters were related, unlike Frank and his oldest sister, Marjie, who had bright red hair, or his youngest sister, Rose, who was as fair as Marjie but a lighter shade of ginger, like their mother. Frank and his sister Clare were the middle children, and they were close enough in age and looks they’d often been mistaken as twins. They had their father’s sturdier bone structure, golden-hued skin, and sandy brown hair. The only thing all four of the Smith siblings shared were their bright blue eyes.
Warner always said Frank’s eyes sparkled when he was amused, so they must be fairly dancing now. Warner’s ridiculousness had jollied Frank out of his irritation. “In spite of your personality, maybe.”
Warner put his hands over his heart and fluttered his lashes again. “I’m just that pretty, eh?”
“Gorgeous,” Frank said truthfully.
“Aw, babe,” Warner cooed. He pressed a kiss against Frank’s lips when Frank stood. “Love you.”
He left the room without waiting for a response, leaving Frank a bit flustered.
“You packed the lube?” Warner yelled from the loft.
Frank rolled his eyes. “Yes.”
Warner reappeared on the stairs. “How about a vibrator?”
Frank gaped at him. “We are not bringing sex toys to a house we’re sharing with other people, one of whom is my sister.”
“I’m sure Clare would be happy to know her brother has a healthy sex life. You really don’t want to bring it? We’ll have all that free time for sex….”
Frank glared at him. “No.”
Warner stuck his tongue out. “Spoilsport.”
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A few of Bru’s favorite things, in no particular order
- Kitchen appliance: Air fryer
- Book: Rebecca, by Daphne DuMaurier
- Vacation destination: The beach! (With kids--Hilton Head Island. Without kids: Costa Rica.)
- Accessory: Infinity scarves with a hidden pocket so I don’t have to carry a purse.
- Laundry scent: Mrs. Meyer’s basil
- Chocolate: Cadbury
- Season: Fall
- Flower: Alstroemeria
- Superhero: Dr. Strange
- Drink: Coffee
More about Bru:
Bru Baker writes sophisticated gay romantic fiction with strong characters, real-world problems, and plenty of humor.
Bru spent fifteen years writing for newspapers before making the jump to fiction. She now balances her time between writing and working at a Midwestern library in the reference department. Whether it’s creating her own characters or getting caught up in someone else’s, there’s no denying that Bru is happiest when she’s engrossed in a story. She and her husband have two children, which means a lot of her books get written from the sidelines of various sports practices.
Visit Bru online at her website, or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.
Thank you for celebrating this fabulous author with us. Come back next week for more of Bru's books, five little-known facts, and another chance to win.
Until then, happy reading!