My Blogging Lapse, RT2014 People-Watching, and Stuff

Nancy Brant asked me to participate in a writing process blog hop and I saw it as an opportunity to post something. I haven’t blogged in a while. It sucks, but there’s a reason for it that’s relevant to my writing process. For me, writing takes one road, and reading/reviewing/blogging/promoting take another. I am working on strategy to manage both at the same time, but I’m not there yet.

There are a few, very exciting things happening with my writing career. A few years ago, I would have found one of them greatly disappointing. The benefit of time, and rapid progress in the industry, is that what might have been a setback only three years ago is now a blessing, and not even a disguised one. I apologize for being vague. I’d love to tell the story, because I think it’s an interesting one, but I neither can nor should. Truly, it doesn’t provide much value for other writers, not even for those in a similar situation.

RT2014

Marie Sexton, Me, and Alanna Coco

I attended RT 2014 in New Orleans this year. I met great people, spent a lot of time with my childhood friend, Marie Sexton, and sat in on some insightful panels. However, the most valuable thing I took away from the conference is something I observed while people watching among the indie authors. The ones that are successful–which I will define as having name recognition with strangers (think Lilliana Hart)—had two things in common that most of the authors in NOLA lacked. One, they referred to themselves as “indie publishers”, and two, they don’t sit still. Their books are the sellable component of their personal businesses, which is kept afloat with various entrepreneurial requirements. Whereas many self-published authors are fighting to connect with readers to sell a book, these few are reading trade publications, making connections, and building brands. Their books are marketing them, rather than the other way round.

Clearly, it’s not a model for success that can be implemented overnight by a working mom with a daily 50-mile round trip commute, but it’s nice to have an attainable goal.

Right now, the bulk of my focus is on Glitch, book one of a YA Sci-fi series. As of this morning, Glitch is a working title, because a book with that title was released in the same genre back in February. The idea for “The Winter Son” trilogy came about from a desire to dabble in the war between angels, but make angels the bad guys. It was originally called “The Choir Boys,” and it was intended to be a paranormal romance featuring an immortal paramilitary operative, but my main character argued that he wasn’t old enough to vote, so changes had to be made. I finish books, but they’re never the ones I start.

I’ve been asked how my work is different from others in its genre. I think that’s a question better left to readers. There’s a literary concept called “suspension of disbelief” and basically, readers cannot relate to something perfect. The more incredible something is–wealthy, beautiful, and/or powerful—the more flawed it has to be. Take any superhero you like and weigh his/her strengths against weaknesses. You’ll find they balance each other out.

It might be a cop out, but I try to make my characters on the average side, more representable of the young adult population. I avoid hot heroes and girls with red hair and green eyes. I have smart kids who make dumb, and sometimes selfish decisions. My world building is largely contemporary, but as the story progresses and the surface is scratched, evidence of richer, darker, even alien worlds can be found beneath.

I never set about writing this way. It evolved over time. I’m half-Japanese, and having been raised in Wyoming, I have come to self-identify as a white woman. For half of my life, I was a practicing Mormon, but in my 20s, I discovered an atheist within. I’m Pro-Gun, Pro-Choice, Pro-Fiscal Responsibility, Pro-Diversity, and a straight ally of the LGBT community. My writing, I believe, is a reflection of me, and written for my 16-year-old self…a girl whose life was shaped by reading books that were over her head.

My writing process is one that needs to change the more I think about it. I work out ideas in notebooks, write scenes in Scrivener, edit on hard copy, and I get done when I get done. It worked well when I was writing for myself, but my goals have changed. One day, I hope to quit my job and write full-time, and spending two years to complete one book isn’t going to get me there.

I was supposed to tag in three other writers to post next Monday, but like I said…I have two roads at the moment. Finding authors to participate turned out to be on the other one. Instead, please check out these great new releases.

Summoned, by Rainy Kaye

The Devil Made Me Do It  (Book 2, Speak of the Devil Series), by Shawna Romkey

Endured (Book 3, Shadowed Love Series), by Kinley Baker

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Summer Lovin’ Blog Hop: My Fond Memory of 1982 with Marie Sexton

The words “summer vacation” always take me back to 1982. I was eight years old, living in Evanston, Wyoming, and I spent every single day with my best friend, Marie Sexton. She was nine, one grade above me, and she lived up the block. I remember she had this really cool hide-a-way desk, a TV in her room with Pong, and a box full of satiny gowns for playing dress-up. It came as no surprise, when we reconnected on Facebook 26 years after losing touch, that we had both become writers. We had crazy imaginations! Our very favorite thing to do with our summer days was to sing along to the Grease 2 soundtrack while acting out scenes.

So, for your Summer Lovin’ enjoyment, here’s “Back to School.”


Win Awesome Prizes!
(Rafflecopter giveaway)

Grand Prize: A Kindle Paperwhite & some of our eBooks to read on it!

1st Prize: A $25 Amazon gift card, and a Swag Pack that contains more eBooks, bookmarks, cover flats, magnets, pens, and more!

Be sure to visit each of these blogs, because some authors may be holding additional giveaways exclusive to their own post. Like me! I’m giving away prize packs and ebooks to commenters on this post! (Up to 5.)

January Black Release Week

januaryblackcover_smallWelcome to my little corner of the internet! I’m so glad you’re here. I’m celebrating the release of JANUARY BLACK by giving away brand coffee cups or $10 Amazon gift cards to a few lucky readers. There will be two winners every day.

PLUS, each of the blog posts hosting JANUARY BLACK between January 15-21 will have a link to a hidden post on my blog. (Password = matty). Commenters on this hidden post will be entered into a drawing for a free, signed copy of JANUARY BLACK.

Here’s the tour! Have fun and leave comments!


January 15

Kelly Seguin
SM Boyce
Tara Fuller

January 16

Christine Ashworth
Marie Sexton (18+)

January 17

Katie O’Sullivan
Constance Phillips
Maer Wilson
Avery Olive
Jody A. Kessler

January 18

Melissa Robitille
Colette Gardner
Kary Rader

January 19

Krystal Wade
Rebecca Hamilton
Adriana Ryan

January 20

Shawna Romkey
Lindsey Loucks
Cindy Young Turner

January 21

Sarah Wesson
Susan Gourley
Louann Carroll
Sherry Soule

Liebster Award

So, a while back on a Six Sentence Sunday post, I mentioned a snag with the publication of January Black. Well, that snag may have been sorted out with the help of Melissa Robitille, a writer/freelance editor. (You can follow her on Twitter.) I’m all sorts of amazed by her, not least of all by the fact that she gave me an award. The Liebster Award. For blogging. Which, if it weren’t for SSS, I’d be totally failing at.

Liebster is an award bloggers give to introduce blogs you might not have found already that we think are completely awesome. Here’s how it works. You post the picture of the award to your blog:

Liebster Award

You give 11 random facts about yourself and answer the 11 questions asked by the blogger who nominated you. Then you think up 11 new questions and nominate 11 new blogs – and you can’t nominate the blogger who nominated you.

Eleven Random Facts About Wendy S. Russo

  1. I was a premie. I was born 8 weeks early in an air force hospital and spent 11 days in an incubator. As the story goes, there were three pre-term babies born that week at that hospital, but I was the only one who went home.
  2. I love sarcasm, but it’s sometimes lost on me.
  3. I’m fascinated by machinery. I once picked up a cam shaft from a friend’s dining table and said, “It’s so pretty.” Half-a-dozen people looked at me like I had two heads.
  4. It took me 2 1/2 years to read Umberto Eco’s “Foucault’s Pendulum,” the first time. The second read took 10 days. (The secret is accepting that most of the details are important to world, but not the plot.)
  5. My husband and I were THIS close to naming our son “Hiro Protagonist.” We thought his English teachers would get a kick out of it. But, Hiro Russo is hard to say.
  6. I can engage myself in a repetitive task for months on end. My boss doesn’t get it but seems to appreciate it.
  7. I don’t understand “cute shoes” or “cute bags.” My husband picks out my outfits because I’m that fashion impaired.
  8. I do get “mean cars,” though. I’m partial to American muscle cars, particularly ’60’s Camaros.
  9. I’m bad at math, but I rock at Geometry proofs…which I’ve found practically useless in my adult life. Go figure.
  10. My favorite way to eat mashed potatoes is fried.
  11. I can’t golf. At all.

Answers to Melissa’s Questions

  1. What motivates you to write when you don’t really feel like writing?
    Music. For example, NIN “The Hand that Feeds” invokes a pretty, slender girl in a muay thai-esque street fight. (That WIP was shelved.) Skid Row’s “Breakin’ Down” gave birth to a scene where a young boy is pleading with a father figure not to leave. (A scene from that WIP became January Black.)
  2. Do you prefer being alone, in a group of people you know, or anonymous in a crowd?
    I don’t like being the center of attention. I like being in small groups, or anonymous in crowds. And I do alright alone.
  3. Do you ‘people watch’, and if so what’s the most interesting thing you’ve seen other people do?
    I think the thing that grabs my attention is when people wear something that defies explanation. Like…who wears flesh colored spandex pants to the mall? Who wears sparkly letters across the seat of their yoga pants? I’m not a fashionista, or even qualified to judge most outfits, but there’s some surprising stuff out there.
  4. How many books (a rough estimate, don’t go count them) do you have in your house, and what kind of books are they (yes, eBooks count as books)?
    A few hundred, I guess.
  5. What are your hobbies?
    Baking, jigsaw puzzles, crosswords, gardening (none of which I’m particularly good at.)
  6. What are your three favorite songs?
    Queensryche “Someone Else”, Lee Ann Womack “I Hope You Dance”, and Tori Amos “Winter.”
  7. What’s the biggest, best, and shiniest dream you have for your writing career?
    I got published! Everything after January Black’s release is a bonus.
  8. If you could take someone’s place for a day (modern or in history), who would you be and why?
    I would like to be Joseph Smith on a particular afternoon in April 1820.
  9. If you could have a re-do of some point in your life, what would it be and what would you do or say differently?
    I am where I am today because of life as it’s been. I wouldn’t change a thing.
  10. Which family member has been most supportive of your writing and in what way?
    My husband. I respect his opinion so much, I’m almost too embarrassed to let him read anything. *facepalm*
  11. What part of the writing process (writing, editing, querying, submissions, etc.) is the hardest for you?
    Blurbs. OMG, I hate writing blurbs.

And My 11 Questions

  1. What is your oldest memory?
  2. What did you want to be when you grew up? (Assuming that you ever actually did.)
  3. What’s the image on your computer desktop?
  4. Do you exercise?
  5. Which actor is ‘James Bond’ to you?
  6. Who was your favorite teacher in high school and why?
  7. Do you prefer books, or ebooks?
  8. White walls? Or do you need color on your walls?
  9. What character do you think you are most like?
  10. Which character would you like to be more like?
  11. How long did it take you to put together this blog post?

For the Liebster Award, I am nominating:

Saturday Snark

Saturday Snark is the creation of Marie Sexton, a gay erotica author who has shared her gift for subtle sarcasm with her creations. Each Saturday, she invites writers to join her on a snarky blog hop. If you have a snarky character and would like to participate, it’s simple:

1. Post a snarky sample on your blog.
2. Provide a link back to Marie’s site.
3. Enter your link into the blog hop on Marie’s site.
4. Check back often to read new snark posts.


This week’s Snark is from Circle of the Butterfly. As a teen, Shannen Marsi (a thief and a liar) made a deal with the Oracle of Kelmarin…her service in exchange for a stay of execution. After her daughter died, she spent six months drunk and earned herself a series of demotions. The most recent removed her from service entirely and triggered the reinstatement of her thirty year old death sentence. In this scene, she is sitting in a prison cell, and the kingdom’s future queen has come to pay her a visit.

Vanessa laughed in disgusted disbelief, “You think that slut Miante could rule the Kelmarin and I couldn’t?”

“Miante was a devoted student of Eric Griffin. And when it comes down to who’s a slut and who’s not…you have your prince and you’re messing around with Lord Leantry.”

The princess threw her hand across the older woman’s face. “And you’ll take that to the guillotine with you.”

“That’s not all I take to the guillotine.”

“Tell me!”

“Sarana permitted the king’s affair with your mother, was complicit even, but she has no right in the law to do so,” Shannen told her. “The passage lords forgave the affair on the condition that if Briar ever returned home, the arrangement would be honored. Thus…Sarana lying about Mia being his cousin, so she wouldn’t be in the way, and then you had to ruin that. Eric was going to amend the law to remove adultery from the criminal statutes…that would have pardoned Fayal, and thus freed Briar…but he died before he could sign. And I know…know…little princess, that your boyfriend was somehow involved with everything.”

“The king’s heart failed him,” Vanessa reminded her, and Shannen was inclined to think that the younger woman believed that.

“The thing I don’t understand is why Cannen would want you to marry another man.” Shannen whispered wearily.

“You’ve never been quick at politics,” Vanessa said. Shannen agreed. “I was going to offer you a deal. Public apology in return for reinstatement, but I’ve changed my mind.”

Shannen laughed. “I wouldn’t kiss your ass if it looked like Charles.”

“So be it,” Vanessa told her. “Roast in Hell.”

“Save me a place beside you on the boat and I’ll bring the sauce,” Shannen said brightly. Vanessa threw open the door and stormed out.


If you enjoyed today’s snark and would like to read more (and aren’t easily offended)…click here or use the bloghop links below.

Saturday Snark

Saturday Snark is the creation of Marie Sexton, a gay erotica author who has shared her gift for subtle sarcasm with her creations. Each Saturday, she invites writers to join her on a snarky blog hop. If you have a snarky character and would like to participate, it’s simple:

1. Post a snarky sample on your blog.
2. Provide a link back to Marie’s site.
3. Enter your link into the blog hop on Marie’s site.
4. Check back often to read new snark posts.


Jiadé’s family and friends believed for two years that she was dead. She’s just returned, without an explanation for her absence, but it’s clear that she has an agenda. Top on her list is paying a visit to The Sand King, an old adversary, and when she arrives in Emoraan, she finds that the desert tribe has occupied the city. It is a violation of their truce. However, when she crashes a party, she learns that the man she thought she’d be confronting is dead; his son now leads the tribe as aukiera. She considers that a plus.

“What is the meaning of this…outrage?” Nataju asked with all the hatred that Jiadé had ever heard in her life funneled into that one word. She was impressed.

“I intend no disrespect, aukiera. Simply, you have your god to please and I have mine.”

He stared her down for a moment. “Reveal yourself.”

Jiadé pulled her left sleeve to her elbows and showed him the row of scars on her forearm. “I am she who tamed your father. I’ve come to collect his debt.”

He closed some of the distance between them, but remained out of her reach. “Our debt to the Xarit hakis is paid.”

“I said his debt. I said nothing of his debt to me.”

“I will not discuss details with a ghost.”

She pulled the ties to her veil cloak and in one swift motion, she cast it to the floor. Beneath, she wore nearly nothing, and it drew gasps of disapproval and shock.

“You owe Nirati a debt of gratitude,” Jiadé told him gently.

“I rescued them from the monsters that came from across the sea!” Nataju spat.

“You occupy their city.”

“My army secures their borders.”

“You keep them as servants.”

“They live their lives as before.”

“That was not part of the agreement, aukiera,” Jiadé said. “You…are not…their king!”

“It’s a compromise,” Nataju argued.

“Speaking of which…I need your help.”

“I see no obligation.”

Jiadé could see that he was trying to appear strong, trying not to cave with an audience. “I haven’t even told you what I want.” She gave him a flirty grin. “That’s unlike you.”


If you enjoyed today’s snark and would like to read more (and aren’t easily offended)…click here or use the bloghop links below.

Saturday Snark

Saturday Snark is the creation of Marie Sexton, a gay erotica author who has shared her gift for subtle sarcasm with her creations. Each Saturday, she invites writers to join her on a snarky blog hop. If you have a snarky character and would like to participate, it’s simple:

1. Post a snarky sample on your blog.
2. Provide a link back to Marie’s site.
3. Enter your link into the blog hop on Marie’s site.
4. Check back often to read new snark posts.


Today’s Snark is from January Black. The night before, Iris and Matty attended the king’s party, where they played chess. Dancing later didn’t agree with the cute but impractical shoes Iris was wearing. The next day, Iris takes Matty on a train ride.

“I really didn’t think you’d be up for walking even this far today.”

“Josh gave me his mom’s signature pedicure when I got home.”  She kicked off her slipper and put her foot on his knees, showing off her glistening pink toenails adorned with flowing silver lines.  “Super-secret relax-on-contact massage oil and thirty-minute rub.”

“Josh, huh?”  His question conveyed more annoyance than he had planned.  He caught himself short of apologizing, because, on second thought, it did bother him.

Her eyebrows shot up.  “Is that jealousy?”

“Intimidation,” he said.  She stared at him like he had called her a nasty name.  “What?”

Iris laughed heartily, “Josh?  Matty, he’s a lamb!”

“A rabid lamb.”

She rolled her eyes and sighed, shaking her head in mild annoyance at him.  “Ok, he can be overprotective.  You have to understand that he’s the only man in the lives of his mother, three sisters, and Julia.  If it makes you feel better, he’s been in love with her since they were three.”

“And her?”  He caressed the bottom of her foot with his finger.  She kicked reflexively.

Glaring a silent warning to stop, which he ignored, she answered, “Pretends she hasn’t a clue.  Seriously, stop.”  He held her foot in both hands but stopped annoying her.  She relaxed back into her bench, and he was content to simply touch her.

“Why would she play with him that way?”

She smiled mischievously.  “Chess.”

He studied her with suspicion.  “Have you been playing games with me?”

“No.”  She shook her head against the bench, holding his gaze with her beautiful blue eyes.  “As it happens, I’m bad at all manners of games.”

He let the matter drop and joked, “A foot massage sounds nice.”

She didn’t miss a beat.  “I’ll ask him.”


If you enjoyed today’s snark and would like to read more (and aren’t easily offended)…click here or use the bloghop links below.

Saturday Snark

Saturday Snark is the creation of Marie Sexton, a gay erotica author who has shared her gift for subtle sarcasm with her creations. Each Saturday, she invites writers to join her on a snarky blog hop. If you have a snarky character and would like to participate, it’s simple:

1. Post a snarky sample on your blog.
2. Provide a link back to Marie’s site.
3. Enter your link into the blog hop on Marie’s site.
4. Check back often to read new snark posts.


Shane seriously doubted it had merely been once or twice. After a few minutes of playfully tapping swords with him, she was still collected. Her hair was still a pinned arrangement of curls. Not a glistening of sweat anywhere. She still held herself gracefully and in good form. Her back was straight, her sword arm slightly bent and held just below shoulder level. Her other hand held the hems of her skirts off the floor and she seemed entirely relaxed. He wasn’t kidding when he said once or twice. She clearly was.

The grace he had expected. Lady Griffin carried herself like a dancer. But it became obvious that she had fencing training, from a master, and she that practiced. He wasn’t surprised at all that her arm grew tired within a few minutes.

What he hadn’t expected was for her to switch hands.

The woman used his moment of confusion to rip his blade right out of his hand and caught him at the base of his neck just enough to scratch. “You’re not even warmed up yet, are you?” he asked her.

“That is the extent of what I can do…” she put the sword’s tip on the tile, then used the weapon as leverage as she lowered herself in a grand curtsy. She bowed her head just slightly, keeping eye contact, “…in this dress.”

Shane felt himself almost choke as the gesture gave him an advantageous glance down her dress. “You’re full of surprises, my lady.” Her lip curled just a bit as his voice broke.

Having disappointed her once before with a pathetic attempt at sexist intimidation, he knew that looking down her dress only amused her. She had bested him with wit, and now with a sword, two weapons that were generally, and foolishly, attributed to men before women. The best he could do to match her was stare at her breasts.

But they’re such lovely….

“And you’re everything I had expected, Lord Marsi.”

If you enjoyed today’s snark and would like to read more (and aren’t easily offended)…click here or use the bloghop links below.

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Saturday Snark

Saturday Snark is the creation of Marie Sexton, a gay erotica author who has shared her gift for subtle sarcasm with her creations. Each Saturday, she invites writers to join her on a snarky blog hop. If you have a snarky character and would like to participate, it’s simple:

1. Post a snarky sample on your blog.
2. Provide a link back to Marie’s site.
3. Enter your link into the blog hop on Marie’s site.
4. Check back often to read new snark posts.


This week’s Saturday Snark episode comes from “Inward,” a contemporary novel about a Mormon woman struggling with her faith. In this scene, Marie’s friend Sam has just returned from his two-year mission in New Zealand. In high school, they used to help each other train for diving meets. Poolside again, they are playing a game of Twister. A member of the high school team is calling out the hardest dives in the coach’s book to see who can throw each one better.

Josh called out, “5112.”

“Forward, 1 twist. Your choice of straight or pike,” Marie translated as Sam adjusted the tension on the board two meters above her head.

The swim team was now sitting on the opposite side of the pool with their coach standing behind them, an amused grin on his face. Three steps into Sam’s approach, Marie yelled up at him, “Straight’s harder,” he stumbled and grabbed onto the rails to regain his balance, “…in case you were wondering.” He scowled down at her, turned around, and restarted his dive.

If you enjoyed today’s snark and would like to read more (and aren’t easily offended)…click here or use the bloghop links below.

Book Review: Strawberries for Dessert, by Marie Sexton

Genre: Gay Contemporary Romance

Published: 2010, Dreamspinner Press
My Grade: A

When Jonathan Kechter agrees to a blind date with Cole Fenton, he expects nothing more than dinner and a one-night stand… but he gets more than he bargained for in Cole. Cole is arrogant, flamboyant, and definitely not Jon’s type. Still, when Cole suggests an arrangement of getting together for casual sex whenever they’re both in town, Jon readily agrees.

Their arrangement may be casual, but Jonathan soon learns that when it comes to Cole Fenton, nothing is easy. Between Cole’s fear of intimacy and his wandering lifestyle, Jonathan wonders if their relationship may be doomed from the start—but the more Cole pushes him away, the more determined Jon is to make it work.

Disclaimer: I’ve known the author since I was eight. After reuniting on Facebook after 20+ years apart, we discovered that we share one brain. For those of you interested in reading erotica, you will be happy to know that she got the naughty half.

Strawberries for Dessert is the fourth, albeit loosely connected book in Marie Sexton’s “Coda” series. The set-up requires a tiny bit of back story. In her novella, The Letter Z, Jon runs into Zach, the man he left ten years earlier, while working in Las Vegas. Zach is on vacation with his boyfriend, Angelo, and two other friends (Jared and Matt), who invite Jon to join them for dinner before Zach can explain who he is. Jon behaves like an ass, attempts to break Zach away from his (insecure and very jealous) boyfriend, but in the end he accepts that what they had is long gone. Zach smooths things over with Angelo, and Jared tells Jon about a friend of his who lives in Phoenix (Cole).

Fast forward a few months. The first chapter of Strawberries has Jon walking through an airport when his phone rings. The caller introduces himself as Cole. Jon has no idea who he is, which annoys them both. They agree to a date, which flops due to Jon’s phone ringing non-stop during dinner. Cole’s amusement at Jon’s befuddled attempts at conversation between work calls is short-lived. He lays several hundred dollars on the table, leaves his card, and walks out.

This scene is clever in that it illustrates the personalities of both characters and the problems they will encounter throughout their relationship. They shouldn’t have become a couple. Realistically, they shouldn’t have gone on a second date. Cole is the type of man that someone like me—I am famous for my all-but complete lack of gaydar—would recognize as gay on sight. His wardrobe is trendy, his hygiene impeccable, and his mannerisms are “gay” to the degree of parody. If my back were turned, I’d know by speech alone. I’ve read reader reviews from gay men who were offended by Cole because he was too gay. Jon, on the other hand, subconsciously goes out of his way to appear straight as possible. They do end up taking another shot at it for the sake of casual sex and they decide to make a habit out of it for the same.

Cole is filthy rich. He has homes all over the world. He can buy anything he wants, but he has very few people he’d call friends. Everyone he’s ever known has used him…from his mother and father right on down to the men waiting for him to call when he’s in their town. He has never given this much thought; he has learned to use money and people to get what he wants. In his experience, this is the way things are. Jon is different, though. He derives his self-worth from working hard and providing for himself. It makes no sense to Cole, but he learns to accept it.

As for Jon, Cole’s behavior in public annoys him so much that they get into fights about it. We can cheer him on for not putting up with Jon’s attempts to change him. Much later in their relationship, Jon realizes that the affectation is actually a defense mechanism. The more uncomfortable or threatened Cole feels, the more flamboyant his behavior becomes. In one of the most beautiful scenes I’ve ever read, Cole is standing by hotel room window in his underwear, playing with the sheer curtains, when he bares his soul…literally and symbolically stripped bare. When Jon notices the affectation is completely gone, he fears that his touch will break the spell.

Slowly, over their months together, they fill holes in each other’s lives. Cole endears himself to Jon’s dad (who doesn’t really understand his son but tries really hard). They let their walls down and fall in love with each other. And that is a problem for them both. Cole is a restless soul; he cannot stay in one place long. Jon just lost his job; he has neither the cash to go on vacation, nor can he afford to put off his job search for months while his lover gets his restlessness out. By this time, Cole knows that Jon will be offended by an offer to pay the way. Sure enough, when the conversation comes up, it goes horribly.

To break the stalemate, Cole takes a risk and leaves Jon. He later hires him to replace his retiring accountant because Jon is the only person he knows honest enough to trust with his money. (Cole actually has no idea how much money he has, so he needs to be able to trust his accountant.) From the moment Jon accepts, he is able to monitor Cole’s travel from credit card purchases. No longer tethered to the dead-end career he was chasing, Jon lets go of everything that is keeping him in Phoenix and gets on a plane to surprise Cole in the Hamptons. But after all they’ve been through, can he convince Cole to take another chance on him?

Strawberries for Dessert is one of my favorite books. While it is composed as an erotic novel, the romance is far more prevalent than the sex. Marie simply mentions the activities that are casual in the narration. The scenes that are described in full are done so for plot and/or character development purposes. They are, in my somewhat prudish opinion, on the graphic side, so consider yourself warned.