Welcome to our first week of celebrations for the amazing
This week, we'll look at the Nortown series and Ofelia's favorite things. There's also a chance to win one of her books.
First up, Once In A Snowstorm
Daring a snowstorm might not be the smartest thing Aiden has ever done, but he can't stand being in his flat a moment longer. With only three days to Christmas, he doesn't want to be alone. He wants a place to belong, wants people around him who won't look down on him. He might not find all that at his mother's place, but at least it's better than being alone in the city. If he can make it there, that is.
Tristan is looking forward to a quiet night in front of the TV, but instead, he has to save an idiot in designer clothes from freezing to death in his forest. Tristan tries not to notice the man's good looks, just like he has tried not to notice any man's good looks for the last seven years. He knows where relationships go and is far better off living alone, with his dog, in his cabin.
Aiden is driving Tristan mad with his bratty comments and irresponsible ways, and Aiden is going crazy from Tristan's judgmental attitude. Luckily, in a few days, the weather will clear up, and the two men won't have to be together any longer. But will a few steamy nights with the grumpy lumberjack change Aiden's mind about wanting to leave? And will Tristan still want to go back to his peaceful, predictable life without fear of getting his heart broken?
Tristan placed the semiconscious man on one of the kitchen chairs. He seemed to wake up all right, but he still hadn’t said anything. Og was walking in circles, wagging his tail and sniffing the stranger’s shoes. The stupid dog would’ve done a happy dance if an axe murderer showed up in the middle of the night, although hopefully his barks were enough to scare away anyone with ill intent.
Tristan glanced around his cabin, trying to figure out how best to get the man warm and dry before sending him on his way. The wood-burning stove was in the middle of the room and worked as a divider between what Tristan liked to call his living room and his kitchen area—in all honesty it was one rather big room with a kitchenette in the far end. He had always thought his log cabin was big enough—at least for him and Og—but with a stranger sitting at the two-seat table, it seemed confined.
Keeping a watchful eye on his visitor, Tristan pushed the worn sofa closer to the stove. “You can start to undress while I go fetch something dry for you.”
For the first time, those green eyes seemed to realise Tristan was there. Some of the fog in them disappeared, and they widened as the man took in his surroundings.
No point waiting for a response, Tristan threw a few logs in the stove and went upstairs—in reality it was more a ladder than a staircase—to find some clothes for the man. The upper floor consisted of one tiny room, where he had to crawl over the bed to get to the other side. It was impossible to walk around it; the angled ceiling was so low, the only place he could stand without banging his head was in the middle, but it was enough for him. He didn’t need more than a place to sleep.
He ruffled through the pile of clean laundry he kept on a chair in the corner of the bedroom. He didn’t have a closet; he hadn’t seen the need since he moved in here, seven years ago. All his clothes fitted on a chair, so why bother building a wardrobe? It wouldn’t fit in this room anyway.
He found a pair of dark-blue sweatpants and a cotton jumper, a pair of cotton socks and a pair of boot socks to go over them—the guy could keep his own underwear on or freeball. Tristan would not be lending a pair to a complete stranger.
He returned downstairs to find Og with his head resting in the stranger’s lap, gazing into those emerald-green eyes. Tristan shook his head at the dog and addressed the man, who seemed more alert now, although he was still out of it.
“Why haven’t you undressed? You need to get out of those clothes.” If he sounded annoyed it was because he was. He’d been looking forward to a night in front of the TV, sprawled on the sofa with Og. Now he had to take care of an imbecile in designer clothes who thought a stroll in a snowstorm was a splendid idea.
Tristan clenched his jaw and watched the man slowly raise his hands and look around him in confusion. “Come on, get going.”
“Erm…” The man started coughing. “Who are you?”
Tristan wanted to roll his eyes, but, of course, he didn’t. “I’m the superhero who saved you from freezing to death in the snow.”
“Oh…” The man’s hands shook as he tried to grip the little metal tag on the zip of his jacket—his too-thin jacket.
Tristan sighed. He wasn’t normally a bastard, but something about this man infuriated him. Without another word, he placed the dry clothes on the kitchen table and started to undress the stranger. He could hear his teeth chattering even though he had his mouth shut. A pang of worry went through Tristan. He had to get him out of his wet clothes and onto the sofa in front of the stove.
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Book 2, Once In A Forest
Jason has one rule when it comes to holidays - work his shift behind the bar and then find a willing body to distract himself with. One night is long enough to satisfy his needs and still walk away with his heart intact. It has worked out fine for most of his adult life, but this Easter, he's trying something new. He's leaving the city to visit his friend, Aiden, who recently moved in with his boyfriend in the middle of nowhere, but one unfortunate incident leaves Jason without a place to sleep.
Tom doesn't do relationships, he rarely does hook-ups and never too close to home. Living on his own without attachments is far easier than having the whole town knowing about him. As the holiday approaches, his lonely house grows even quieter than normal - at least until his friend, Tristan, dumps an arrogant bartender in his lap.
As soon as Jason lays eyes on the gruff lumberjack whose home he'll be sharing, he knows who'll warm his bed for the weekend and help chase away any pending holiday gloom. Too bad Tom doesn't want to get with the programme. As much as he wants to let Jason close, he won't risk outing himself for a weekend fling. Will Jason trust Tom not to break his heart if he stays longer than a couple of days, and will Tom value their relationship higher than the town gossip?
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Book 3, Once In May
In an attempt to run from his past, John has spent the last few years building walls around himself. He knows the best way to stay safe is to keep people at arm’s length or preferably out of sight. During weak moments, he might wish he had someone, but he’s not ready. After all, it takes seven years for the body to replace all its cells. He has four years to go before he even can think about being around people.
Zachary is always on the move, always on his way to somewhere. He’s going from job to job, from country to country. Contrary to what people might think, he wants nothing more than to find a place to call home, and he knows just where. This time, he is ready. This time, he will stay in Nortown. But when he arrives to buy the log cabin he thought would be his, he finds it inhabited. When he goes to talk to the new owner, he is met by the most beautiful green eyes followed by a door slammed in his face.
John should’ve known the peace he had found in Nortown wouldn’t last. One day everything was fine, the next a mountain of a man starts showing up wherever he goes. All Zachary wants is to be close to the quiet man who has moved into his cabin. If following him around is the only way, then so be it. Sooner or later, John will get used to having him there...at least, if Zachary hangs around long enough.
John swallowed the last of his coffee and glanced out the window. Two burly, bearded men came walking across the parking lot. It took a second or two before the panic slammed into him with full force.
It was the man from the shop.
The clatter from where he dropped the cup on the plate made him flinch. Crap! He shouldn’t have accepted another cup. The coffee had tasted unusually good this morning, and he’d enjoyed listening to Jen talking to her son, Luke, while she made him breakfast. It was nice, and it gave John a feeling of normality even if he only was an observer. He shouldn’t have stayed, though. The man had brought a friend, which made things even worse than John had feared.
Cold sweat broke out as he watched the men turn and head right for the door. Of course they were coming here; it was only stupid to hope for something else. One of them stopped, not the man from the shop but the other one. He gestured wildly while the man from the shop scowled. John began to tremble. They were going to take their frustration out on him.
He needed to get out of there. He needed to run. The chair banged against the wall behind him even before he knew what he was doing. Jen’s head shot up from behind the counter. “You okay?”
John stared at her, unable to find his voice.
“It’s all right, sweetie.”
John winced at her words. He hated when she let on just how much of his anxiety she actually picked up on. Most of the time, she pretended he was like everybody else, but, of course, he wasn’t. He was going to be sick. He wanted to go to her, wanted to pay so he could leave, but his feet wouldn’t cooperate.
“It’s okay, John. You can leave.”
“I haven’t paid.” He hated the way his voice shook, but he couldn’t do anything about it. His throat closed up as he caught movement outside the door.
She dried her hands and hurried out from behind the counter, closing in on him. John didn’t know where to go. They were coming at him from different directions.
But Jen didn’t come at him. She walked around him, leaving plenty of space between them, and headed for the door. “You can pay double next time, or I wouldn’t mind payment in eggs.”
“That’s illegal.” John would happily give her eggs. Why he hadn’t before, he didn’t know. He couldn’t pay with them, though. It wasn’t right.
“We’ll sort it. Now get out of here.” She smiled, and John almost wanted to hug her. Almost.
The bell above chimed as she opened the door. “Zachary Fane.” She giggled and John was struck by how young she sounded. “I never thought I’d see the day. When did you get back?”
The man from the shop grinned and scooped her up in his arms. John almost choked. God, he’s big. Broad and tall, and arms so thick John wanted to shrink back before they could snake their way around him, too.
The man must’ve felt John’s eyes on him because he looked right at him while still hugging Jen. Without thinking, John let his blond tresses fall like a curtain over his face and kept his head tilted forward, glancing towards the door in hopes of finding an opening to sneak past them and out to his car. It was pathetic to hope; not even Jen could save him from them now.
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the large man take a step in his direction. Every muscle in his body tensed as he braced himself, but then Jen was there. With one small hand on the man’s arm, she guided him and his friend towards a table away from John and the door.
As soon as all three of them had their backs turned, John slipped out, thankful for Jen’s manoeuvre.
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Book 4, Once In The Underworld
Chris Hart owns the only grocery shop in Nortown, but he isn't exactly overrun by customers. Some days he wonders why he bothers to open the doors at all. Spending his days smiling at the few people that do trickle in and his nights alone in bed isn't the most interesting life a man could lead. But when Chris suddenly gets the excitement he's been craving, it may just be more than he bargained for.
Gabriel Miller loves his life. He's close to his sister, has a job he adores and is the proud owner of one and a half cats. But all of it is taken away when he witnesses a murder and, to keep him safe, the police place him in Nortown, of all possible locations.
Chris can't believe they're letting someone live in his gran's old cabin in the middle of the winter; it's too cold. When the poor man shows up in his shop looking to buy clothes, Chris's heart melts, despite the freezing temperature. Gabriel notices the way the shopkeeper looks at him, but it can't be right. No one looks at a heavyset man with heat in their eyes. Do they?
When the danger follows Gabe to Nortown, it's more than their chance at happiness that is threatened, and Chris and Gabe find themselves fighting just to stay alive.
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Book 5, Once Around Seven
Oswald Sattle has been sleeping in his Toyota Camry for the last two hundred and seventy-three days, the exact number of days since he discovered his fiancé cheating on him. Now, out of money and out of options, he’s on his way to Nortown. Aiden, an acquaintance from his past, has offered him a job opportunity he can’t turn down, no matter how much he’d like to.
Joshua Roth moved to Nortown four years ago and he has everything he needs—a job, friends, peace and quiet. He’s not looking for a boyfriend; no one even knows he’s gay, and he’d like it to stay that way. But a stranger in town has Joshua rethinking his decision.
Oswald looks like he wants to hide from the world, and Josh finds himself wanting to get him to smile, to feed him, and make everything better.
In a small town, where everyone knows everyone else’s business, reaching for what you want can feel like a risk. But some risks are worth taking.
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Additionally, there are 4 in-between novellas in the series which you can find here.
Ofelia's Favorite Things
You’d think it’d be easy to come up with a list of things that are your favourites—it’s not. I started to make a list of my favorite things to drink because life without coffee isn’t worth living.
- Red wine
- Plain water
Aaaand that’s it. It happens that I make myself a cup of tea, but I never have any fizzy drinks or juices or anything like that. So that didn’t turn into much of a list. Moving on, I thought I’d make a list of my favorite things to do in my spare time.
- Going for walks
And yeah…that’s about all the spare time I have and aren’t those three things on the list of everyone’s favorite things to do? Okay, so how about my favorite things to spend money on?
- Washi tape
Then I realized all of those things can be written with one word—stationery—and I live 20 km from the closest town, I don’t have a drivers license, and there are no busses. Have you any idea how seldom it is I’m in a shop at all? My husband does the grocery shopping when he goes home from work, I hardly see the inside of a shop, any kind of shop, on a monthly basis.
Okay, so moving on yet again. Do I have any favorite things? Anything at all? My husband and kids…but they’re not things, are they? So what do I like?
- I love waking up after a good night’s sleep to the smell of coffee because it means both my husband and I are off work.
- I love walking in the rain along the river (though it was better when we lived by the ocean, a rainy, stormy day by the sea blows away all your worries).
- I love sitting in the sauna with my three daughters talking about what has happened during the week (we often heat up the sauna on Fridays) because they seldom have the time just to sit down and talk in peace and quiet.
- I love baking with my son because joy is dripping from his every pore every time he sees bread rising on a sheet.
- I love writing because I get to create hopes and dreams and make them come true.
- And If you missed it, I love coffee.
About the author:
Ofelia Gränd is Swedish, which often shines through in her stories. She likes to write about everyday people ending up in not-so-everyday situations, and hopefully also getting out of them. She writes contemporary, paranormal, romance, horror, Sci-Fi and whatever else catches her fancy.
Her books are written for readers who want to take a break from their everyday life for an hour or two.
When Ofelia manages to tear herself from the screen and sneak away from husband and children, she likes to take walks in the woods…if she’s lucky she finds her way back home again.
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Thanks for stopping by to celebrate this fabulous author with us. Come back next week for more of Ofelia's books, five little-known facts about her, and another chance to win.
Until then, happy reading!