I request a do over…

August 2, 2015 at 8:13 pm | Posted in real life, Writing | Leave a comment
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…of the last 2 months. First, I worked myself into exhaustion and had to take 2 weeks off to recover, and then last week, a good friend and coworker died of breast cancer, after a really sudden deterioration.

It’s that last one that’s knocked me for a six. Several women in my circle have said to me that we’ve all known someone that this has happened to, and that’s true, but for me this is the first person who’s been really close to me who hasn’t made it. Breast cancer is not in my family, and maybe I am still a bit young to have known that many people with breast cancer, and so my chance of being close with someone who died from it is smaller, I don’t know. What I do know is that I have no desire to repeat this experience again. I have cried inconsolably more in the last 3 weeks than I have in the last 3 years, possibly more than in the last 3 decades. Tomorrow is the funeral, and I am speaking for a few minutes at the service. I’ve decided that since my friend was one of the jolliest, funniest people that I know, that I’ll tell a funny story involving her so I can laugh for a while, and remember her how she’d want to be remembered.

I know things will get better. Even now, they’re better than they were at the beginning of the week. It’s the nature of these things, isn’t it? We can’t crumple into a heap for too long, because the world goes on around us in ways that force our participation. So I’ll get there eventually. It might just take a little while, that’s all.

Needless to say, I’ve done absolutely no writing recently. I feel very bad for those blog visitors who look at my Coming Soon page and constantly see sweet FA. I’m not the type of writer who can write in the face of massive emotional turmoil, I’m afraid. But maybe I’ll put a few words down tonight, and a few more down tomorrow, and the next day, and the next. One foot in front of the other and all that.

Where is the time going?

March 29, 2015 at 6:12 pm | Posted in real life, Writing | Leave a comment
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How it got to be almost April already, I have no idea. I tell myself I’m going to blog regularly, and then life happens, and I just don’t.

2015 is turning out to be a bit of a rollercoaster ride. I have a very intense and mentally draining day job, which tends to ebb and flow in terms of workload, but I can safely say that we are the busiest that we have been in years, with no sign of it slowing down. Add to that some serious health issues being dealt with by people close to me, and all I can say is thank God it’s Easter next week because I am so tired I can hardly bear it.

Having said that, I have been writing – my current WIP is around 53,000 words at the moment, so not insignificant. Given that I never plan things I’m not sure how long it’ll end up being, but at least 80,000 I’d imagine. So a while to go yet, but it’s getting there.

I hope you’re all well, and getting much more sleep than I am!

Down Under Author Showcase

January 12, 2015 at 6:45 am | Posted in Bottom Drawer Publications, Dreamspinner Press, Promotion | Leave a comment
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The Down Under Author Showcase at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is almost halfway through, if you can believe that. Heaps has gone on already, with lots of interesting facts about Australia and New Zealand highlighted (even I am learning things!), and lots of great author posts and interviews. If you haven’t been able to visit every day you can catch up with the action at this link.

Don’t forget there’s a scavenger hunt, and a lot of prizes up for grabs. My post will be up towards the end of the week, and I’ll be giving away a book from my backlist, and there are also additional copies of Cutting Out and the Under the Southern Cross anthology (containing my novella Whitewater) in the swag. So head on over and check things out!

Books I enjoyed in 2014

January 2, 2015 at 9:12 pm | Posted in Books of the year, Reading | 1 Comment
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Here it comes, my annual “books I enjoyed” post, where I outline books I particularly enjoyed the previous year. Now, this year was a little different reading wise, because I tumbled head first into the Captain America fandom, and subsequently read an absolute shitload of fanfic. However, this is not the post where I gush about 90-something year old supersoldier boyfriends, it’s the post where I discuss professionally published fiction; so, onward we go to my most memorable books of 2014.

In no particular order:

Infected: Bloodlines by Andrea Speed

The continuing adventures of Roan McKichan. If you’re a reader of M/M and you don’t know of this series by now, you either don’t read paranormal, or you’ve been living under a rock. I am very, very far behind on them, because I find them incredibly intense, and sometimes I’m simply not in the mood for that. Having said that, I think they’re excellent, and this one was heartbreaking. Absolutely, positively heartbreaking. I applaud Andrea for doing what she did with this one, because it was awful. But so incredibly realistic, it took my breath away.

Billy’s Bones by Jamie Fessenden

A therapist sees a patient who attempted suicide, just the once. Three years later, they cross paths outside of the office, and a relationship develops, complicated by traumatic amnesia and a decades-old unsolved murder. This book has some triggering themes, but it was excellent. I couldn’t put it down.

Shaking the Sugar Tree by Nick Wilgus

A single father struggles to find a life for himself while taking care of his deaf son and dealing with his quirky family. I found this charming, funny and sad. While I think some people were offended by the political incorrectness of some  of the book, I found it realistic – I don’t know many families without a redneck bigmouth somewhere in the tree, and I think the portrayal of the frustrations of a parent dealing with a disabled child was absolutely spot on.

Machine by KZ Snow

I have waxed lyrical about the books in this series before, twice. I love them. All of them. I am very sad there will not be more of them. In this one, Fan (who I LOVE) struggles with his bipolarity and his past. If you have not read these, and are in any way a fan of steampunk/alternative universes, I recommend them all.

Lick by Kylie Scott

A girl goes to Vegas to celebrate her 21st birthday. She wakes up the next morning with a raging hangover, a tattoo, a scorchingly hot man in her room, and a ring on her wedding finger which matches the one on his. And she has no memory of any of it. Woops! This is labelled as new adult, and it’s full of cliches but I thought it was great. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

The Border by Kim Fielding

Two men on opposing sides of a war find they’re not really enemies after all. This one was lovely, and reminded me a lot of the movie Joyeux Noel, which I also liked very much and is also totally worth spending time on.

The Protector by Cooper West

In this universe, law enforcement includes bonded human/dog shifter pairs called guardsmen. The shifter of the pair is not supposed to live beyond the death of the human half, let alone bond to another handler. Until one does. This was an unusual take on paranormal law enforcement and the emotional connections of bonded pairs, and I really liked it.

Most Beautiful Words by Raine O’Tierney

This book has quite the eyebrow-raising premise – an M/M romance narrated by a 12 year old girl? Um, no. No thanks. But it needs to be given a chance, because how much Autumn loves her grandfather is charming, and as his layers and his history are revealed you get more and more sucked in; at least, I did. And the M/M side of things is highly, devastatingly romantic.

In Me an Invincible Summer by Ryan Loveless

Closeted gay man and action movie star Joe Nestra signs up to do a gay-themed movie, and the effect doing the movie has on him causes his carefully constructed life to fall down around him. Fair warning, Joe is a dick at first, but as I read on, I got more and more engrossed. By halfway through I really needed to know how it would end for Joe. It ends on a bit of a happy-for-now where his life as a whole is concerned, but I felt the treatment of him as a gay action movie star (once it was known) was realistic.

Body Option by Talya Andor

Soldier Grant Badu is partnered with a human-inside-a-machine, Trefoil Argent. Argent has an option to take a human body, but has not, for reasons unknown to Grant. Grant doesn’t want to pry, but when Argent is forced into taking his body option to complete a dangerous mission, they can no longer avoid talking about it. This was a very, very interesting story. There were certain sensitive aspects of the plot which were handled non-offensively, which I appreciated. I enjoyed it.

The Raven Boys and The Dream Thieves by Maggie Steifvater

These are part of a 4-book young adult series called the Raven Cycle, and they are SO GOOD. I can’t even express how much I loved them. I’ve got the third one on order at the library (I am listening to them in audiobook, which I get through the library because they are outrageously priced in my country), but I’m torn about listening to it because then I will have to wait FOREVER for the fourth one to come out (later this year) and then it’s all going to end in tragedy and I will DIE. Ugh.

These were definitely the best books I read all year. Ostensibly the series is about a group of teenagers searching for the grave of a Welsh king they believe can be revived, but really it’s about forging friendships and family and falling in love for the first time and working out who you are as you grow up and how everything is so incredibly important and dramatic when you’re young. They’re killing me, in the best possible way.

*

OK, I’ll stop now! If you made it this far, thanks for reading my rambling, and hope you found something that sounds like it’s up your alley. Here’s to a good reading year in 2015!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

January 2015: Down Under Author Showcase at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

December 31, 2014 at 10:01 am | Posted in Bottom Drawer Publications, Promotion | Leave a comment
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A little heads-up about an exciting promo month that’s just around the corner now. My blogging day is January 16th, but as you’ll see there’s a heap of Aussie and Kiwi authors participating, so it promises to be great!

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For the entire month of January, Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is showcasing 28 authors from Australia and New Zealand. Journey by way of these authors stories and settings through the mountainous regions and rocky coasts, and cities of New Zealand, or the vastly different and beautiful territories of Australia! Get to know the authors and let them act as your travel guides, introducing you to faraway countries, places they call home.

Think everyone in the US, CAN, AUS, and NZ all speak the same English? Oh the joy of discovering what an “esky”, “chilly bin”, “jandals”, “mozzie” or even a “woop-woop” is. Each day brings a new author, new books, new giveaways and, yes, new surprises.

In addition to these wonderful authors and their novels, Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words has multiple event prizes to be awarded to readers who participate in the Down Under Author Showcase Scavenger Hunt. Visit each author’s page in January, search out the Scavenger Hunt word or phrase, and then follow the directions on the Showcase page at our website.

For all the details and information for our first January Down Under Author Showcase, visit http://scatteredthoughtsandroguewords.com

Check out our participating authors below (in no particular order):

N.R. Walker * Christian Baines * Anne Barwell * Nic Starr * Renae Kaye * Meredith Shayne * John Terry Moore * John Wiltshire * Lily Veldon * Barry Lowe * L.J. LaBarthe * Beany Sparks * Jack Byrne * Nicki J. Markus * Michelle Rae * A.B. Gayle * Lisa Harris * Isabelle Rowan * N.J. Nielson * Bette Browne * Lisa Henry * Toni Griffin * Pelaam * RJ Jones * Penny Brandon * Cecil Wilde * Ellen Cross * Maggie Nash

Plus Down Under publishers:
Wayward Ink Press * BDPublications

A Whitewater Christmas

December 25, 2014 at 9:35 am | Posted in Free fiction, Whitewater | Leave a comment
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Well, it’s Christmas Day here in the Southern Hemisphere, so I’d like to wish all of you who celebrate a merry Christmas, and a joyful festive season to those who don’t. Here’s to a happy and healthy time for all of us.

I have a little something for you, a glimpse into the Christmas of Luke and Cam from Whitewater. I hope you enjoy it.

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It started on the first of December, with the noise of something hitting the landing with what could only be described as a whump. Cam stood at the fridge with an unopened beer bottle in his hand and stared at the front door. After a moment, there was the jangle of metal and the scrape of a key in the lock. The door swung open, Luke’s keys swinging from the door knob, and after another moment Luke appeared, red-faced and sweating, and carrying what seemed like twenty shopping bags on each arm.

“What the hell is all that?”

“Dried fruit,” Luke said breathlessly, dumping all the bags along the wall with a grunt. “About a million kilos of it. I think I cut off the circulation in my arms.”

He came towards Cam. He was wearing shorts, and Cam could see a graze on his left shin, bright red against the purpling bruise around it. Luke kissed him, a quick press of lips, and Cam put an arm around him, Luke pressing his sweaty face into the crook of Cam’s neck when Cam tightened the embrace. “You’ve got a bruise on your shin.”

“Tripped up the stairs with my million kilos of fruit,” Luke said, his voice muffled by Cam’s neck. “I’ve got a case of brandy in the car. Want to help me carry it?”

***

The brandy wasn’t for drinking, unfortunately.

Cam knew that December was a big baking month for Luke, because he’d witnessed it the year before. But they hadn’t been living together then, so the reality of the million kilos of fruit, the sacks of flour, stacks of butter and mountains of six different kinds of sugar in a relatively small space was a little confronting. Never mind the canning equipment and cute decorative jars and bottles for sauces and flavoured vodka. But not being able to move properly around his flat had one upside: getting to watch Luke work. He was just so fucking good at all of it, and he got this look on his face when he was right into whatever he was doing that made Cam want to haul him onto the nearest flat surface and have his way with him. It was a difficult urge to resist.

It was also difficult to resist dried cherries that had been soaked in brandy for a few days. The sound of Luke’s hand smacking down on his knuckles was almost more shocking than the sting of it, and Cam snatched his hand back. “Ow! Just a couple!”

“It was a couple yesterday, and the day before. Keep out of them.” Luke pointed at him, eyebrows drawn, the look in his eyes stern. The effect was ruined just a little by the fact he had a piece of shortbread shaped like a Christmas tree tucked into his palm, and a slight smear of royal icing on his finger. “If I end up not having enough cherries for all of the cakes you’ll be in the doghouse, make no mistake.”

Cam grinned at him, and waggled his eyebrows. “At least then you’ll catch up on your sleep.”
Luke rolled his eyes, glancing over to the living room area before going back to his shortbread, a slight blush on his cheeks and a small smile on his face. Behind him, Cam heard some sniggering, but he ignored it. “Anyway, seems to me that you’d make this whole Christmas thing easier for yourself if you just bought people DVDs. Or socks.”

“Oh, hey, enough of that,” Terry said, right next to his ear, just before a palm slapped the back of his head. “Don’t go putting ideas into the boy’s head. I need more spicy tomato chutney. I’ll die without it.”

“And his strawberry and lime vodka is the nectar of the gods. He didn’t make that one last year. You just wait till you try it.” Aidan leaned across him to filtch one of the shortbreads before following Terry to the door, lifting a hand to wave goodbye. “See you round, mates.”

“Can’t help but notice you didn’t slap his hand,” Cam said as the door closed behind them.

Luke’s slight smile was back. “There are plenty of biscuits at the moment. And he’s a lot less annoying than you.” He put his piping bag down and stepped back from the bench, taking a deep breath. “Right. They’re done, and this round of cakes still has an hour to go.” He paused, picking up a small glass bowl next to his elbow, idly stirring the substance in the bottom of it. “Made too much ganache for the macarons,” he said blandly, but when he looked at Cam, his eyes were practically smouldering. Cam’s stomach flipped. “What do you think we could do with it?” His gaze flicked downwards, then travelled slowly up Cam’s chest. “It’d be a shame for it to go to waste.”

Cam reckoned he would have made a great fireman, if the speed with which he carried Luke—and the ganache—to the bedroom was any indication at all.

***

Luke and his friends always did their Christmas on the twenty-fourth, before they scattered to Sydney’s four winds to see family on Christmas day. Cam took over the cooking for that, planning a tapas-style menu that could for the most part be prepared ahead and served cold to suit the heat of the December days and avoid turning the flat into a hot box. They sat amongst piles of wrapping paper and gifts, eating with their fingers and drinking strawberry and lime vodka and egg nog that was more brandy than nog. A Southerly came up in the afternoon and blew some of the heat out of the day, and when the sun went down they left the lights off so the Christmas beetles wouldn’t batter themselves to death against the screen door trying to get in. Luke’s eyes shone in the glow of the fairy lights on the tree, his smile the brightest thing in the room, as far as Cam was concerned.

The more Luke drank, the fuzzier around the edges he got, and the more he leaned on Cam for support. By the time the others showed themselves out he was tucked up in the vee of Cam’s legs as Cam sat with his back against the lounge, his left leg crooked and supporting Luke’s lower back as Luke curled up with his right shoulder against Cam’s chest and his face tucked into Cam’s neck. Luke had his legs curled up as tightly as they would go, and Cam’s right hand rested on his knee, holding Luke’s left hand, their fingers intertwined. Cam stroked Luke’s side with his left hand over and over; Luke smelled like strawberries and cinnamon and nutmeg, and when he sighed, like brandy, and Cam breathed it all in, letting himself relax and bask in Luke’s warmth, even while his arse was slowly going numb against the hard floor. If asked he probably would have said Luke was asleep, but eventually Luke shifted slightly, the scruff of his beard rough against Cam’s collarbone as he said softly, “Midnight. It’s Christmas day. Merry Christmas, Cam.”

Cam smiled and put a hand up into Luke’s hair, tugging his face up for a kiss. “Merry Christmas, Luke.”

Blog tour wrap-up and Goodreads Member’s Choice Awards

November 25, 2014 at 6:12 pm | Posted in Bottom Drawer Publications, Cutting Out, Goodreads, Promotion | Leave a comment
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My Cutting Out blog tour has now come to its conclusion, with the following posts:

I talk about Australia versus New Zealand at Two Men Are Better Than One (and highlight a HILARIOUS video from a Flight of the Conchords episode)

At My Fiction Nook, there’s an exclusive excerpt from the book, plus a 4-star review from Sandra, who says:

I loved the descriptions of the landscape, loved how the author didn’t shy back from showing the reality of shearing, working with sheep, and how hard these men work for the money they make. The writing is crisp, straight-forward, realistic and organic. A wonderfully rounded story, a character study of two men, and a romance that is, while quiet, also strong and enduring.

I’m also delighted to report that Cutting Out has been nominated in two categories in the Goodreads Member’s Choice Awards – Best Contemporary/Mainstream and Best Blue Collar. Thanks so much to those who nominated it!

You have to be a member of the group to vote, but if you are, the topic at the group is here. Voting opens November 28th.

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The Cutting Out blog tour continues

November 14, 2014 at 7:42 pm | Posted in Bottom Drawer Publications, Cutting Out, Promotion | Leave a comment
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The Cutting Out blog tour continues! Over the last few days I’ve been getting around the place with some interviews and blog posts. At all these blog stops, the giveaway is running, so don’t forget to enter! You can find the posts at the following links:

– I answer some great interview questions from Gen at SydneyGen Reads

– I talk about shearing competitions at Erotica For All

– The Novel Approach gets some of my gushing about Queenstown, plus some photos of the gorgeous Otago-region scenery

– The Aussie accent and slang is the subject of my blog post at Zipper Rippers

– I talk about the life of a New Zealand shearer at Hearts on Fire Reviews

– Finally, CJ Baty interviews me over at her blog. I manage to talk about my love of reality TV once again!

 

 

 

Cutting Out blog tour

November 11, 2014 at 6:31 am | Posted in Bottom Drawer Publications, Cutting Out, Promotion, Reviews | Leave a comment
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The title of this blog post kind of gives it away, but Stuff is happening, people! Stuff to do with Cutting Out! I am about a third of the way through a blog tour, where there are excerpts, giveaways, reviews, blog posts and interviews happening all over the place. So far there have been visits to:

Love Bytes Reviews, where there’s an excerpt and a giveaway

Book Reviews & More by Kathy has another excerpt (featuring the introduction of the thorn in Shane’s side, his mate Zach) and giveaway

Multitasking Mommas gives Cutting Out 5 stars in their review, and they are also hosting a giveaway

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words, who gave Cutting Out a lovely review a few days ago. I stop in there to talk a little bit about the Christchurch earthquake and its aftermath, which features pretty heavily in the book. Melanie is also hosting a giveaway.

So feel free to stop by one of those places and take a look, and good luck if you enter the giveaways!

 

Meet the Character Blog Hop

October 27, 2014 at 5:53 pm | Posted in Bottom Drawer Publications, Cutting Out, Dreamspinner Press, Promotion | Leave a comment
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So I’ve been tagged by the lovely Nic Starr to participate in the Meet the Character Blog Hop, where those of us who are so inclined talk a little bit about the characters from our latest books. Nic introduced us to Dave Simpson, from her upcoming release A Day at a Time. You can read more about Dave in Nic’s post here. A Day at a Time will be out on October 29th, and you can preorder it from Dreamspinner Press here.

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Blurb

Sean Vargos is quiet, well respected, and dedicated to his job. But Dave Simpson sees Sean as more than a coworker. He’s fought his attraction to Sean for months but can’t get him out of his thoughts.

They tentatively embark on a relationship, but Sean isn’t all that he seems. He struggles to put his past behind him and overcome his fears.

Dave, with his good looks and open nature, accepts that sometimes Sean’s doubts get the better of him and he runs. Dave just wants the chance to show Sean he can be trusted and the past doesn’t have to dictate their future.

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Now it’s time for you to meet Shane, from my newly released novel, Cutting Out.

What is the name of your character?

Shane Cooper, Coop to his friends. “That Aussie bastard” to people who are not his friends. :)

Is he a fictional or a historic person?

Most definitely fictional.

When and where is the story set?

Cutting Out is a contemporary romance set in New Zealand, mostly in the shearing sheds of various sheep farms across the country. Queenstown and Christchurch also feature.

What should we know about him?

He’s Australian, something that is rare enough in New Zealand that everybody constantly comments on it. He’s been in New Zealand for 10 years, after leaving Australia for reasons that he never talks about. He’s a shearer at the top of his game, earning the title of gun shearer without breaking a sweat. He turns 40 during the course of the story, and all he sees when he looks in the mirror is the grey in his hair and the crows feet at the corners of his eyes.

What is the main conflict? What messes up his life?

Meeting a young shearer by the name of Lachlan Moore. Fifteen years Shane’s junior, when we meet Lachie he’s a bit of a party boy, but then he suffers a personal tragedy during the Christchurch earthquake that changes his life forever. Shane wants to get to know Lachie more than he’s wanted anything for a while, but Lachie’s issues build a sturdy, almost-insurmountable wall between them.

What is the personal goal of the character?

To have a quiet, peaceful life. He’s ready to settle down and find someone who’s more than just a one-night fling.

Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?

The book is called Cutting Out, and it’s available now from Bottom Drawer Publications

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Blurb

A twenty-year veteran of the shearing shed, Aussie Shane Cooper loves his job, and the home he’s made for himself in New Zealand. If he’s a little lonely, he’s got good mates to keep his spirits up. When a hot, cocky young shearer named Lachlan Moore catches his eye at a competition, he’s content to look but not touch, knowing the young man is out of his league.

Lachie wouldn’t mind a piece of Shane, but the gorgeous gun shearer from Australia is soon forgotten when the Christchurch earthquake hits, and tragedy strikes Lachie’s family. Lachie deals with it the best he can, cutting himself off from all he knows. A year later and he’s back in the shearing shed, out of practice and lacking confidence. That Shane’s there to watch him flounder doesn’t help his nerves.

As Lachlan struggles to re-acclimatise, Shane can’t resist giving him a hand to get back on his feet. As they move from friends to something more, Shane finds himself wanting to know everything he can about Lachie. But Lachie’s got secrets he desperately wants to keep, and when things come to a head, those secrets might just mean the end of them before they’ve truly begun.

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Now to introduce you to the two authors who I’m handing the blog hop baton to. Both of these lovely ladies will be posting on November 3rd, so watch out for their posts. Enjoy the rest of the blog hop!

LJ LaBarthe (Blog: http://misslj_author.livejournal.com/)

A long-term friend of mine, LJ has just released Mythica from Bottom Drawer Publications.

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Blurb

Caiden Jones is part-selkie and lives an idyllic life by the sea in South Australia. He’s had his fair share of disappointments, like being kept out of the Navy due to his mythica status, but overall he’s got a pretty good life. Until he’s in the wrong place at the right time.

Cai steps in to subdue an out-of-control minotaur and in the process suffers a serious injury to his ribs. As Cai struggles to breathe, a gorgeous suit-clad sy’lph with mesmerising blue eyes races to his rescue. When it’s learned that the minotaur was poisoned, the sy’lph, Gray, makes it his personal mission to keep Cai and his family safe.

Cai has always harboured some resentment towards the sy’lph because of their easy acceptance into the community, so the attraction he feels for Gray takes him by surprise. But how can they find out what this might mean when the lives of Cai and his family are endangered by someone closer than they realise?

Renae Kaye (Blog: http://renaekaye.weebly.com/renae-blogs)

Renae is a woman after my own heart; that is, she likes to write about shearers. Her new release, The Shearing Gun, is available from Dreamspinner Press.

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Blurb

At twenty-five, Hank owns a small parcel of land in Australia’s rural southwest where he supplements his income from the property with seasonal shearing. Hank is a “shearing gun”—an ace shearer able to shear large numbers of sheep in a single day. His own father kicked him out when his sexuality was revealed, and since no one would ever hire a gay shearer, Hank has remained firmly closeted ever since.

Elliot is the newbie doctor in town—city-born and somewhat shell-shocked from his transplant to the country. When a football injury brings Hank to Elliot’s attention, an inappropriate sexual glance and the stuttered apology afterward kickstarts their friendship. Romance and love soon blossom, but it’s hard for either of them to hope for anything permanent. As if the constant threat of being caught isn’t enough, Elliot’s contract runs out after only a year.

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