Nell Iris: Regaining Trust

My early-morning writing buddy, Nell Iris is here today to talk to us about her new book, Regaining Trust, a story about coming back together after infidelity. You can also read her interview with me from last year, when she was the very first person to subject herself to my nosy questions!

What would you do if your partner cheated on you? Would you pack your bags and leave them behind, or would you choose to stay and fight for your relationship?

Would you feel differently for your partner after an infidelity? I mean, your trust would be shaken, betrayed, maybe destroyed, which is a huge blow and difficult to overcome. But would you stop loving them? Would it matter to you if you still loved them or would you leave anyway?

I realize that’s a bunch of hard, maybe even unanswerable, questions, but these are the things I was thinking about when I wrote my new story, Regaining Trust. I was thinking about what I would do if I were in Law’s shoes. Law says to Frankie; “I don’t just stop loving you, no matter what,”and I agree with that sentiment. But would the trust in my husband be irreparably broken or would the love I have for him be enough to heal what was broken?

I don’t know the answer to those questions. But they stayed in the back of my mind the entire time I wrote, fueling my pen, making me write so fast I feared my fountain pen nib would melt.

In Law and Frankie’s case, Law decides to give Frankie another chance, despite his trust being smashed to pieces which is devastating to Law whose background has formed him into someone who doesn’t trust easily. But for Frankie, the only one he’s ever trusted, the love of his life, he’s willing to at least try. Because no matter how hurt he is by Frankie’s actions, his love doesn’t come to a screeching halt. Even if it would have been easier.

Regaining Trust is the story of how Law and Frankie work hard to find their way back together.

Read on for the blurb, more about Nell, and an excerpt or Buy Regaining Trust.

Blurb:

When workaholic Lawrence Weller walks in on the aftermath of his fiancé Frankie cheating on him, his world shatters. Frankie’s the love of his life, the only person he’s ever trusted, and the betrayal leaves him devastated.

Franklin Ennis makes a huge mistake that he regrets deeply before it’s even over. He pleads for a second chance, willing to do whatever it takes to save their relationship.

A love that deep doesn’t just stop, so Lawrence agrees to try. But mistakes don’t happen in a vacuum. Are they both willing to own up to their part? Will their love be enough to repair what was crushed? Can trust once broken be rebuilt?

Buy Regaining Trust

Who’s Nell, then?

Nell Iris is a romantic at heart who believes everyone deserves a happy ending. She’s a bona fide bookworm (learned to read long before she started school), wouldn’t dream of going anywhere without something to read (not even the ladies room), loves music (and singing along at the top of her voice but she’s no Celine Dion), and is a real Star Trek nerd (Make it so). She loves words, bullet journals, poetry, wine, coffee-flavored kisses, and fika (a Swedish cultural thing involving coffee and pastry!)

Nell believes passionately in equality for all regardless of race, gender or sexuality, and wants to make the world a better, less hateful, place.

Nell is a bisexual Swedish woman married to the love of her life, a proud mama of a grown daughter, and is approaching 50 faster than she’d like. She lives in the south of Sweden where she spends her days thinking up stories about people falling in love. After dreaming about being a writer for most of her life, she finally was in a place where she could pursue her dream and released her first book in 2017.

Nell Iris writes gay romance, prefers sweet over angsty, short over long, and quirky characters over alpha males.

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Excerpt:

“You never told me you were lonely,” I say.

“I did!” His protest is loud and takes some of the defeat from his body. “I’ve told you a thousand times. How I miss you when you’re always working late and wish we could do more stuff together.”

I knit my eyebrows together, trying to think back and remember. He’s right. He always hugs me tightly and tells me how much he’ll miss me when he knows I’ll work late. Or how he wishes we could do something together, even if it’s only watching a show while cuddling on the couch.

”I thought that was your way of showing me how you feel about me. You being sweet and caring. Not once did I think it meant ‘I’m so fucking lonely I’ll suck someone else’s dick.’ Was it even your first time?” The question is a pained scream, hurting my throat, my head, my soul. I don’t like yelling, so I take a deep breath and start counting to ten in my head to calm down, but I’m interrupted before even reaching three.

“Of course, it was the first time,” he roars. “I’m not a cheater.”

His words are a thundercrack in an otherwise dead silent apartment, and I rear back, scramble off the couch, and turn to leave.

“No. Please.” He’s pleading now, voice cracked and bleeding out on the floor. “Please don’t leave me, Lawrence. I’ll do anything. I love you so much, don’t leave me.”

I’m frozen on the spot. Undecided. The hurt, overly-dramatic part of me wants to storm off in a huff, throw some stuff in a bag, and retreat somewhere to lick my wounds, and rage and scream and curse the treachery, while wailing out my broken heart. But the other, more rational part of me won’t let me move, the part that still remembers how much I love him, still remembers his loving kisses, his devotion. His passion.

So I sink back down on the couch. Rub my palms over my face and swallow. “I don’t know what to do here, Frankie. I’m hurt and betrayed, but at the same time I just can’t turn off my feelings for you. But how can I be with you if I can’t trust you?”

“You can trust me. You can.” He’s so sincere, so heartfelt, leaning forward—hands twitching so he shoves them between his knees—begging, willing me to believe him. And I want to. I really do.

“How?”

“I’ve never done anything like this before, never kissed anyone, hardly ever looked at anyone like that. It was a huge mistake and I regret it. So, so much. I know I can’t prove it, but I was going to tell you. That’s what I was worried about when you walked in. How I would tell you. How you’d react. If you’d hate me.”

I must look skeptical because he hurries to continue. “I know. It’s easy to say when there’s no way of proving intent. But I’m not a liar. You know I’m not.”

“Do I?” I push out the question around the lump in my throat.

He slides to his knees on the floor in front of me, sits back on his heels, and tries to catch my gaze. I give in to his silent pleas and meet his eyes.

“You know me, Lawrence. You know you do. You know what kind of person I am. I’m only human and make mistakes like everyone. This one was huge and more stupid than most, I know that. I’m not perfect, but I’m not a liar. I’m not disloyal. And I own my mistakes.” His face is open. He blinks away tears, but his gaze never falters. His hands rest on his knees, palms open and turned up, and everything about him invites me to see the honesty in his heart.

And maybe I can see it. The slight tremble of his hand and the pulse fluttering visibly in his neck betrays his anxiousness, but he doesn’t move. Doesn’t squirm or fidget, doesn’t look away from me. Nothing indicates that he’s lying.

There’s no way he’s that skilled a liar. He’s always been open and honest and prone to blurting his emotions as soon as he experiences them. That thought deflates me and I fall back against the couch.

“Yeah, I know. I believe you.” And I do. At least my head knows. I’m not sure about my heart. Or my gut, rather.

His eyes well up and a tremble racks his body, but it’s the sight of his wobbly chin that finally cracks me. I hold out my hand, unable to not touch him anymore. “Come here.”

Buy Regaining Trust

Anne Barwell: Family & Reflection

Today I’d like to showcase Anne Barwell’s re-release, Family and Reflection! It’s a 76k word story, part of The Sleepless City, a shared world with Elizabeth Noble.

When a rebel werewolf and a vampire thief fall in love, only one thing is certain—trouble.

For as long as Lucas Coate can remember, werewolves have been taught to mistrust vampires. Lucas is an exception—he has close friends who are vampires. The werewolf pack in Boggslake—and their leader, Jacob Coate—have made it clear that Lucas’s association with vampires is barely tolerated, and another transgression will be his last. When Lucas finds out about the plague of werewolf deaths in the area, he wants to help even though his own life may already be in danger.

Declan has been away from Boggslake for ten years, but he isn’t surprised to learn that the internal politics of the Supernatural Council haven’t changed for the better. When a series of burglaries hit close to home soon after he arrives, Declan—a vampire and professional thief—is their prime suspect, although for once, he isn’t responsible. With the council keeping secrets, no one is safe. Time is running out, and for Lucas and Declan, everything is about to change.

Authors Note: This story was originally released in 2015 by another publisher. This edition has been re-edited.


Excerpt:

“If someone had told me twenty years ago I’d be having a conversation about something like this with a vampire, I’d have told them they were crazy.”

“You’re having this conversation with a friend,” Declan corrected him. “It doesn’t matter what we are, but who we are.”

“Do you really believe that?”

“I want to.” Declan thought for a moment, wanting the right words. Why was this so difficult? He’d given advice to Jonas and Simon many times without any trouble.

“We’re both as bad as each other, yeah?” Lucas seemed sad.

“Why do you say that, and about what?” Declan let go of Lucas.

“I’m a werewolf, and you’re a vampire—”

“You’ve only noticed that now?” Declan interrupted dryly. He walked back to his chair, adjusting it so he was opposite Lucas and could see his face.

Lucas laughed, but this time it sounded natural, not forced. “I’ve gotten used to living at the castle. I love it here, and the guys are my friends. Most of the time I forget we’re different. They’re family. I don’t care what they are. It’s like you said. The important thing is who they are.” He sobered. “Then crap like this goes down… Why do I suddenly feel as though I’m a part of the pack again and need to follow their stupid rules?”

“You’re a part of whatever family you want to be, Lucas.” Declan knew what he wanted—needed—to say now. “One thing I’ve learned with having a long life is that family is who you choose. I didn’t get on with mine that well. I had a father who had expectations too.” He pulled himself up sharply before he went anywhere near those memories. Very little of what he’d done had pleased his father. “We might be different, you and I, mon ami, but in many ways we’re the same.”

“I kind of get the expectation thing with you guys.” Lucas paused and looked apologetic before continuing. “Simon’s not said much about his past, but I get the impression his father expected him to do stuff he didn’t want to do as well.” He scowled. “Be a good son and carry on the family name and traditions. I’m guessing Forge went through the same thing, but he’s never said anything about it. At least not to me.”

“Why do you get it with us?” Declan figured he already knew the answer but wanted to be certain he and Lucas were talking about the same thing.

“You’re a lot older than I am. I can understand this stuff going on a hundred, or even two—”

“Closer to three hundred,” Declan said.

“Yeah, that. You’re old. No offense.” Lucas waved one hand.

“None taken.” Declan couldn’t help but smile. “I know I’m old. But you know what they say about fine wine?”

“Yeah, and, hey, I’m not complaining.” Lucas took a long drink of coffee. “You interrupted my flow. I was making a point here.”

“Sorry.”

“So you’re old, so I expect that kind of stuff from you guys. It was a long time ago.” Lucas growled low in his throat. “But us… the pack… we… they’re carrying on like we’re still living in that society. I’ve told my father that he needs to move with the times or the pack will be left behind. Sure, they use technology, but for the rest of it, you’d think we’d only just gotten off the Mayflower or something.”

“It takes a long time for some people to accept change.” Declan leaned over and brushed a lock of hair back from Lucas’s forehead. “Some never do.” He’d seen vampires who couldn’t move past what their lives had been like as humans. Most of them hadn’t survived.

“Yeah.” Lucas swallowed. He shook his head when Declan started to move his chair farther back and away from temptation. “I don’t mind you touching me like that,” he said softly.

“I should…” Declan hadn’t thought, just reacted. He’d meant what he’d said about flirting and had no intention of leading Lucas on. “We’re friends,” he said finally.

“I wouldn’t be talking to you about this stuff if we weren’t.” Lucas looked like he was about to say something but cleared his throat instead. “I know you’re kind of touchy-feely and all that. So am I. So—”

A loud knock sounded at the front door.

“Now what?” Lucas muttered.

Boggs materialized in front of them. He looked annoyed. “There are two gentlemen at the door,” he said. “I don’t know who exactly they are, but I heard them talking before they knocked. They’re from the council.”

“I already apologized about that weird stuff in the garbage,” Lucas said.

“Not that council.” Boggs rolled his eyes. “The other one.”

About the Author:

:: Website & Blog—Drops of Ink : Facebook : Facebook Page : Facebook group : Bookbub : Joint Facebook group : Instagram : Twitter : Goodreads : Queeromance Ink Author Page : Sign up for my newsletter ::

Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand.  She shares her home with Kaylee: a cat with “tortitude” who is convinced that the house is run to suit her; this is an ongoing “discussion,” and to date, it appears as though Kaylee may be winning.

In 2008, Anne completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher, a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra.

She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as “too many.” These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of “spare time” is really just a myth. She also hosts and reviews for other authors, and writes monthly blog posts for Love Bytes.  She is the co-founder of the New Zealand Rainbow Romance writers, and a member of RWNZ.

Ofelia Grand: Quinny, Focus!

Let’s welcome Ofelia Grand today, to talk about her new release, Quinny, Focus! about love in the time of social distancing!

Thank you for having me here today. I thought I’d swing by and talk a little about my newest release, Quinny, Focus!

2020 Happened and the World Changed

Don’t worry, I’m not gonna get political. We all know what state the world is in, we’re all suffering in one way or another, and we’re all trying to cope with the situation at hand. For me personally, the pandemic has meant a lot more time to write than normal since I only work a handful of hours a week at my day job—if that. It is what it is, and I’m blessed. I’m a writer which means, for a few hours every day, I escape reality and live in whatever world I’m creating. Normal years, I write a lot of paranormal stories, and I’ve written some this year too, but I’ve mostly written contemporary—contemporary like it was in 2019. I’ve comforted myself by dropping my characters into a world that’s familiar to me.

With Quinny, Focus! that’s changed. JMS-Books came out with an in-house call, requesting short stories that tackle the challenge of finding love when you have to stay six feet apart.

How do you date while staying six feet apart?

I thought it would be fun to explore, so I came up with Quincy Dean, a twenty-sixyear-old man who’s lusting for his neighbour. Now, there is one thing you need to know about Quincy—he’s not the most observant person in the world. He should know better, but don’t judge him too harshly.

Excerpt:

For a second, Quincy was at a loss for words. “You want a relationship?”
“Of course not! Have you seen the offerings out there?”
“You hang around the wrong places.”
“I haven’t left my apartment in months.”
Quincy bit his lip. “True, but when all this is over. Do me a favor and don’t go to The Blue Horse to hook up.”
The Blue Horse was a small pub with rainbow wallpaper and sculptures of two huge, blue horses by the entrance and a few blue horses, though smaller, inside. Subtle it was not, and the clientele matched the decor.
“Why? If I want to score, I know I will if I go there.”
“Yes, but it’s a risk going there without wearing bio-hazard clothing.” Quincy shot to his feet as there was movement in the window across the yard.
“Sweetheart, right now you need bio-hazard clothing wherever you go. Do you have a face mask matching your outfit?”
Quincy squinted, the sun was reflecting on the glass, but was there someone else in Will’s apartment?
“Quinny?”
Quincy raised a hand to shield the sun, but it didn’t help the reflection.
“Quincy!”
He jumped. “Yes, sorry, I’m here.”
“Are you?”
“Ty, I need to go. I think there’s someone in Will’s apartment.” He was about to disconnect when Ty shouted at him.
He held the phone away while trying to see what Will was up to. When Ty had quieted, he brought it back to his ear. “What?”
“Don’t do anything stupid! I swear to God, you have the brain capacity of a fouryear-old.”
“I do not.” Though he pouted like one. “And what if I do? I like my men a little older than me.”
Ty snorted. “Older? Will is twenty-nine.”
“Thirty-one.”
The sigh traveling the line made Quincy frown.
“If you Google his address, it lists his birth date. He’s twenty-nine. You’re twenty-six, love.”
“Yes, but I look twenty-two.”
A breath-long silence followed, then Ty spoke again. “I give up.”
“What, no, you can’t give up on me.”
Ty chuckled. “Don’t do anything stupid, Quinny.”
“Stop calling me that.”
Ty made a noise, could be affirmative, but Quincy didn’t dare hope. “Does he know you live across from him?”
“I assume…” Did he, though?
“You haven’t told him?” Ty’s voice grew in volume.
“Well, I assumed… I know who he is, he must know who I am. There aren’t many people named Quincy Dean in the world, he has to know it’s me.” He frowned for a second then shook his head. Of course, Will knew it was him he was talking to. “Who flirts with strangers online?”
Ty laughed. It started like a surprised chuckle, but it grew and grew until Quincy wanted to tell him to shut up.
“What?”
“Oh, dear. You are priceless.”
Quincy snorted.
“Okay.” Ty blew out a breath. “Do me a favor and don’t do anything that will give him cause to call the police about a stalker in the neighboring house, okay?”
“I’m not stalking him. I just want to know if he has company over there. Why would he allow anyone inside his apartment?” He pressed his nose against the window glass and squinted at the light. “I think it’s a woman. Sure looks like long hair.”
“Quinny! Stop it.”
“But it’s soon time for our three o’clock coffee.” Was Will having coffee with someone else today? He hadn’t mentioned it when they’ve talked over breakfast.
“Sweetie, maybe it’s his sister, maybe something happened, maybe it was a surprise visit and—”
“They’re not six feet apart! He’s giving her a hug.”
Ty sighed. “As I said, maybe something happened. Maybe, there was an accident, someone in the family might have gotten…sick.”
Quincy swallowed. Shit. “Yeah, you’re right.”
“I know, I am.”
Maybe something had happened, and Will was comforting his sister. Quincy would have to be there for him now.

Quinny, Focus!

Quincy Dean is one lucky guy. After months of virtual flirting, he’s convinced the man of his dreams is living next door. True, they’ve never spoken face-to-face, and William Johnson has never posted a picture of himself, but how many William Johnson’s could there be? Quincy is positive the two of them would be great together. But if he’s ever going to get the chance to convince Will of that fact, he’s going to need to do it before his perfect man figures out he’s too good for Quincy’s little corner of Whiteport and disappears from his real life forever.


But how do you woo someone when you have to stay six feet apart? Direct messages are great, but they aren’t very romantic. And when Quincy begins to notice that Will’s messages don’t always match up with what he’s seeing through his blinds, he worries that even online he and his dream guy are drifting apart. Six feet or not, it might be time to ask Will out on a date.

About Ofelia Gränd

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 romance, contemporary, paranormal, 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 her 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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let’s move to France!

A blatant plug for my friend Lorraine today – she is a smallholder from Cornwall who has retired* to France with her husband. She has a smallholding book that has lots of good advice teamed with fantastic pictures, but also a very recent release about moving to France. This seems like an ideal book to buy now to plan out either a real-life or fantasy move!

Fed up with the rat race? Dreaming of a simpler life? A better life? A GOOD LIFE?
Since the 1990’s hundreds of thousands of people left it all behind and moved to France.

Are you dreaming about moving to France to live a simpler, rural life; perhaps on a smallholding or simply in the countryside? Then THIS is the book for YOU.

This practical and up-to-date book will lead you through the many questions you may have including:

* How Brexit will affect you
* Owning animals or setting up a smallholding in France
* Finding & securing the right property
* Starting a rural business

Benefit from Lorraine Turnbull’s own experience and read the case studies from real people who have moved to live the Good Life in various areas of France. It’s a big step to a brave new world and this timely book aims to help you in your journey to your Good Life in France. Lorraine is an award-winning smallholder and former cider maker who relocated to rural France in 2017.

Buy the book here!

* I use the word advisedly

my favourite time-travel paradox

James Tiptree Jr, 10,000 Light Years from Home

My blogging record this last month has been grim, because of school holidays, poorly children and poorly me, so I threw a question out on twitter asking for a topic and the lovely Elin Gregory came back with the subject of this post.

I love time-travel when it’s done properly. It’s like magic though, in my opinion, and there always has to be a price to pay for it. I think that the best known paradox story in time-travel fiction is All You Zombies by Robert Heinlein. He crams it all in there… being your own mother, your own father and your own recruiter to the Time-Travel Bureau.  The price the protaganist pays seems to be loneliness. So it works for me in that it fits my criteria. But it leaves me with a sad, empty feeling afterwards and I’m not sure I like that.

My absolutely favorite time-travel story, in fact probably my favorite short story of all time, is The Man Who Walked Home, by James Tiptree Jr, in her short story collection Ten Thousand Light-Years from Home. There has only ever been one attempt to send someone through time and essentially it blew up the world. I come back to it again and again and I can’t really tell you why:

On this spot there appears annually the form of Major John Delgano, the first and only man to travel in time.

Major Delgano was sent into the future some hours before the holocaust of day zero. All knowledge of the means by which he was sent is lost, perhaps forever. It is believed that an accident occurred which sent him much farther than was intended. Some analysts speculate that he may have gone as far as fifty thousand years ahead. Having reached this unknown point Major Delgano apparently was recalled, or attempted to return, along the course in space and time through which he was sent. His trajectory is thought to start at the point which our solar system will occupy at a future time and is tangent to the complex helix which our earth describes around the sun.

He appears on this spot in the annual instants in which his course intersects our planet’s orbit and he is apparently able to touch the ground in those instants. Since no trace of his passage into the future has been manifested, it is believed that he is returning by a different means than he went forward. He is alive in our present. Our past is his future and our future is his past. The time of his appearances is shifting gradually in solar time to converge on the moment of 1153.6 on May 2nd 1989 old style, or Day Zero.

The explosion which accompanied his return to his own time and place may have occurred when some elements of the past instants of his course were carried with him into their own prior existence. It is certain that this explosion precipitated the worldwide holocaust which ended forever the age of Hardscience

Thank you, Elin for the question! It ties in nicely with my own time-travel shenanigans. Lew and Mira both get dragged back in time at the beginning of Lost in Time (hence the name, doh!). It’s not an easy bit of magic and although it will happen again in other books, there is always quite a big cost. For Lew and Mira it’s extremely dangerous to try to get home. It’s not a safe process and they need to make a choice.

I don’t much like time travel stories that just have people whizzing about through stone circles and whatnot like trap doors in to the past, although I know a lot of people find them great fun. I think that’s possibly because I like all my stories with a lot of angst, so easy time-travel immediately becomes a super-power rather than something to be tortured about.

Next week I’m talking to Elizabeth Noble about writing life and her re-released series, Sentries, so do pop back if you want to get to know her better.


Note: I know that for some people, the Tiptree/Sheldon narrative has become problematic because of the manner of her death (CW: Suicide/Murder) in the same way Heinlein’s politics makes some of his writing difficult to stomach for some people. Whether art should stand independent of the creator is a whole other discussion on it’s own. In their specific cases, I think their work transcends that, but I’ve included the links above for completeness .