Absolutely heartwarming holiday story, perfect for the season, and one of my personal favorite holiday books in the genre.
Nathaniel O’Donnelly likes his life quiet, his guests happy, and his ghosts well-behaved.
Although a boyfriend wouldn’t go amiss. Someone to share his beautiful B&B with, even if it is in the middle of nowhere and he’s long past the wrong side of thirty. Problem is, Nathaniel’s living with a ghost who thinks he’s cupid, and whose arrows fly a little too straight.
Gabriel Wickfield had the unfortunate luck of dying before his time, and now he’s stuck trying to make romance happen to earn his right to move along. Not that he’s bored in the meantime—Nathaniel is just too easy to tease. And also a little bit scrumptious…
With the curse reaching its expiration date, Gabriel needs to make a final match this Christmas. Without it, nothing but darkness awaits.
Set during holiday season and ending on Christmas Day, bestselling gay romance, Smoky Mountain Dreams, warms up the cold nights!
Sometimes holding on means letting go.
After giving up on his career as a country singer in Nashville, Christopher Ryder is happy enough performing at the Smoky Mountain Dreams theme park in Tennessee. But while his beloved Gran loves him the way he is, Christopher feels painfully invisible to everyone else. Even when he’s center stage he aches for someone to see the real him.
Bisexual Jesse Birch has no room in his life for dating. Raising two kids and fighting with family after a tragic accident took his children’s mother, he doesn’t want more than an occasional hook-up. He sure as hell doesn’t want to fall hard for his favorite local singer, but when Christopher walks into his jewelry studio, Jesse hears a new song in his heart.
So, if you love winter, this is probably not the post for you. I absolutely believe in everyone’s right to love whatever seasons they want to love, so this is not meant to be a list of reasons why you should hate winter. It simply reflects my own state of mind on this particular winter day (and, frankly, most winter days).
1) In the winter my four dogs (yes, four because of I’m nuts, apparently) can’t just go wander around in our fenced back yard, enjoying the outside, eating worms, digging holes for me to trip in, playing with sticks, or just go running around in happy loops around the fence. No, in winter my dogs are inside, bored, restless, and not happy. The new puppy is not getting enough exercise because two walks a day aren’t cutting it for her, so at this very moment she is working on chewing up her brand-new dog bed and I’m not stopping her because then she’ll whine and bark with boredom. (She already chewed up all of her latest toys. Need to buy stronger toys that will withstand the teeth of her giant maw.)
2) In winter it is cold. I hate being cold. I’d rather be sweaty and overheated any day of the week. Cold is sheer hell. Misery. Completely impossible to think sort of misery that leaves me almost ragey. This is one reason the walks aren’t good enough for the puppy because I can’t really stand being cold long enough to walk far enough to wear her out. Also the cold is bad for my lungs which aren’t awesome after multiple bouts of pneumonia (I sound like an old lady) and it’s awful for my rosacea which ends up getting super-inflamed after a walk in anything lower than, say, 50F.
Aside: the puppy officially ruined part of her bed while I just sat here and watched. I’m an awesome dog owner. *eyeroll* That’s why we’ve got four. Argh.
3) Winter means sickness which, for me, can mean pneumonia. Right now kiddo is home sick with a fever/headache/cough thing that kept me up monitoring her temperature much of the night. It got up to 103.7. I was pretty fretful and had a near panic attack that I’d fall asleep before her fever went down I’d wake up and she’d be dead from spiking to 106 or something. I have a very active imagination. So, yes, winter sucks because winter is germ vector kiddie time.
4) I HATE WINTER CLOTHES. On other people they are mostly fine, but I hate them on me. They are often itchy, uncomfortable, and ugly. I don’t like sweaters since most of the pretty ones are made of wool (I’m allergic) and most of the others are shaped in some hugely unflattering way. I don’t like tights because they are itchy. Even my favorite winter shoes are problematic due to my high (and somehow damaged) arches. My most comfortable (and awesome) new boots are too cool to ruin and I am reluctant to wear them in the rain, and its rained most every day lately.
5) Socks. They are the worst. There are never enough clean ones that match and they are uncomfortable and I hate them. Give me a summer-bare foot any and every day. Florida, can I please be allowed to move to you?
6) Gray sticks and brown mud. That’s what winter looks like where I live. It doesn’t snow much (THANK GOD), so it’s not white and fluffy and frozen. It’s sticks and mud until spring. Not very gorgeous. Though I admit I love the gray fuzziness of the winter mountains. Or I would if I had on comfortable clothes and no one was sick and puppies weren’t bored and I wasn’t cold. But they’re pretty in a grungy, funky sort of fuzzy-brown-winter way.
I have more reasons but I’ve got to entertain this puppy before…well, before something. I’m not sure what. Probably before she starts up the attention barking which is maddening. You’d think the other dogs would entertain her, but they are all curled up in their beds sleeping.
This grumpy post was brought to you by WINTER which can get the eff out asap. 😛 I do like Christmas, though. I like Christmas trees and lights. I like Christmas carols. I like hot coffee on a cold morning. I like cozy blankets. I like…um, well, other Christmassy stuff, but that’s about it.
Spring, please be on your way. I’ll sing for you even. Baby, I need your lovin’, got to have all your lovin’.
Wah-wah-wah over now. Adios. Attention barking has begun. SHOOT ME.
ETA: It’s interesting, though, that I set almost all my books in winter. Maybe I’m trying to work out my winter issues.
I was looking for something else entirely and found this old bit of writing. I don’t think I had any plans for it. It was never intended to be more than this. It was written in response to a photo taken by an acquaintance of mine. I, uh, can’t find the photo. I’m sure I have it on a computer somewhere. She took it in Milwaukee, though, and looked a lot like this shot, but was not this shot.
Long-johns weren’t the cotton pajamas that she’d worn to sleep in growing up. No, they were slinky, silky and stretched so tight over her legs that she almost forgot about them except for the amazing layer of warmth they provided, all the more noticeable because now that she was pregnant, they didn’t fit quite right, and her lower legs weren’t covered, leaving them exposed to the biting wind which her jeans didn’t even begin to block out.
Layers. Layers upon layers.
Out tonight, with her camera, she’d worn a sweater, a turtleneck shirt, and long-johns, and then there was her skin, her organs, her uterus, and another living person kicking away in there. The baby’s movements were a constant reminder that she was just another layer another life.
She’d always believed that when she was pregnant, she’d feel like she knew the child as it grew within her, but most of the time she felt occupied by a stranger, and while that didn’t lessen her devotion to the new person inside, it did make it strange at times. It was like she had a constant witness to her life, someone whose judgments and thoughts she did not know: a friend or foe?
She turned the corner and saw the river icing over, as it did every winter since she’d arrived. The South and its mild winters now seemed like a fairytale that she told herself. Once upon a time there was a land of great warmth and beauty, where the grass stayed green even in January.
It wasn’t that she hated the cold, it just made her feel trapped. Trapped in layers and layers of clothes. Trapped in small heated apartments. Trapped by cold air that burned her lungs as she raised the camera and took her first shot of the night.
Another step forward, a small hunching of her shoulders for the perfect composition, and the shutter snapped. Not digital. Not yet. But she could feel the pull, the allure of the pixels calling to her. There was the ease, the lack of expense, the fact that her favorite photo developing shop was closing down for want of business. The world was moving forward into the future, taking her with it, and this was the world her daughter would be born into.
The weight in her pelvis seemed to hold her fixed to the pavement, even drilling down into the earth, pinning her to this world. The ice shone on the river, and the buildings reached up into the glowing city-night sky. She paused and breathed deeply. Luminescence poured over her from the scene ahead, and raising her camera, she took a picture of a different kind of layers: the city’s layers.
These represented simple reality, layers of beauty and light, while her own reality was layers of confusion and illusion. What was she in this world? A photographer? A woman? A mother? Or a blood jacket for a growing stranger? All of the above.