Our blog hasn't been very active lately and we have missed a lot of posts. I would like to sincerely apologize for that.
I was hoping 2016 would be different but it's not meant to be. Six weeks ago my uncle was diagnosed with leukemia in the last stages and he's been in the hospital ever since. I spend my time driving 500 km every two days and taking care of my family and it's not easy. I'm doing my best to keep up with the blog but sometimes I'm too exhausted, physically and emotionally drained.
Please, bear with me. I'm trying, I really am. I have no idea how long this situation is going to last or what will happen in the end but, until then, thank you all so much for your understanding and patience.
I can be reached via email but it might take me a few days to reply. For urgent matters, message me on my Facebook page .
All the best,
June 14, 2016
*Standalone Gay Romance Saga
His toughest opponent is himself.
World Boxing Champion Santino Malavé González has been fighting since he was a kid. Poverty, domestic violence, and emotional abuse were early contenders. Guilt and self-loathing were beaten into him at an impressionable age, and now machismo, an integral part of the Latino culture, rules his life. In the ring he’s undefeated. Outside the ropes life constantly hits him below the belt. It takes a sucker punch from his best friend to finally knock the denial out of him and force him to face his true nature like a real man.
A natural born entertainer, Luca Jenaro Betancur Ferrer has grown up serving God, performing, pursuing a career in music, and celebrating life among his tight-knit Catholic family under the scorching Puerto Rican sun. Singing the wrong note on stage is not a mistake the multi-platinum award-winning singer would ever allow. Falling in love with a man is not a transgression his devout family may ever accept. The ties that bind him are strong, but the pull toward his childhood best friend may just be enough to tear it all to shreds.
Anger, mistakes, bigotry, and the need to conform put up a good fight throughout their life journeys. Their religious and chauvinistic society constantly challenges their pursuit of happiness, and only time will tell if their relationship will survive the battles, or if they’ll lose each other by technical knockout.
Releasing June 24, 2016
“Take this.” Julito handed him the other bag. “It’s your boxing gear.”
“Why’s this here and not in the shed?”
“I’ve been bagging it up every night before going to bed and putting it back in the shed before leaving for work for the last couple of weeks. I told you to put on your shoes.”
Santi obeyed immediately. “Why’d do you do that?”
“I’m ready,” Omayra said from the door, sounding scared, sad, and excited in equal parts.
“We can’t leave without Ma,” Santi repeated. “He’s hitting her because—” He felt like he was choking on his own words. His father didn’t love him. His mom was sending him away because he’d told her he liked boys. She’d failed to stand up for him… hadn’t even tried to reassure him that she’d always want him regardless of who he was. It sucked. “Mami and Papi are disappointed in me,” he forced himself to say. “All this is happening because they think I’m gay.”
“He’s hitting Ma because he’s an abusive prick,” Omayra countered.
“I’ve got to show him I’m not gay,” Santi whispered. “This is my fault. I’ve got to do everything I can to make things right for Mami.”
“And you’ll start working on it as soon as we’re out.” Julito grabbed his keys and wallet from the milk crate that served as a bedside table and took a few towels from his bed. He looked around the room one more time before pushing Santi toward the door. “We’ve got to go.”
Only muffled noises could be heard in their parents’ bedroom when they ran out of the shack they’d called home for the past two years. That was a good sign. Papi had either passed out, or he’d calmed down.
They were soaking wet by the time they ran across the yard, got inside Julito’s old El Camino and locked the doors.
Julito pushed their bags behind the seat and started the truck. Omayra grabbed a towel and wrapped it around herself, then used the other two to cover Santi and Julito before settling between them on the truck’s bench seat. Santi stared at the small, dilapidated ranch through the windshield, the rain, and the darkness of night. None of them said a word as they sped away from the house.
“Where are we going?” Omayra whispered several minutes later, taking Santi’s hand.
“’Uela Esperanza’s,” Julito said quietly as he navigated the dark curvy road down the mountain.
Omayra sniffled and wiped her face. “How will we know if Ma’s okay?”
“I have Sister Dominga’s telephone number,” Julito said. “Ma’ll go to the convent after mass on Sunday and wait for our call.”
Santi rested his head on the back of the seat and closed his eyes.
He thought about the conversation between himself and his mom. About the stupid Health class that had started this mess. About the moment his dad walked into the bedroom and about the conspiring looks he’d seen pass between Julito and their mom.
“Where’s Héctor?” he asked without opening his eyes.
“He’s living with Titi Migdalia in New York,” Julito said.
Omayra gasped. “But I thought he was still in juvie.”
“They reduced his sentence for good behavior. Papi had said he didn’t want Héctor in his house, and Ma didn’t want him to go back to that hell anyway, so she asked if I could help her buy a plane ticket for him, and I said yes.”
“How long has he been out?” Omayra asked. “Does Pa know?”
“Six months or so, and no, that bastard doesn’t know,” Julito said with a smile. Santi’s eyes were closed, but he could hear the smile in his brother’s voice. “He’s working in Tío Tato’s bodega and going to school at night. He’s doing fine.”
“I’m so happy to hear that,” Omayra said with a laugh. “That’s a great opportunity for him. I hope he turns things around for himself.”
“When did you plan this?” Santi asked is a shaky voice. “When did Ma decide to get us out of the house?”
“Right after ’Uela Esperanza and Tío Miguel came to visit the last time. She talked to them. Made sure we’d have a safe place to live and a gym where you could start training again. She was hoping it wouldn’t be necessary, but she had to be ready in case—” Julito cleared his throat. “In case you turned out to be gay,” he finished in a careful tone. “She knew Pa would never leave you alone, so we came up with a plan.”
“Taunt Papi and let him think it was his idea to disown us and throw us out of the house?” Omayra snorted. “He’s an idiot, and Ma finally did something right. I wish she’d come with us, though.”
“We’ll figure a way to get her out,” Julito assured her. “Life will be different now. She found a way to give us a chance, guys. Let’s make it count.”
“I never said I am gay,” Santi pointed out. He opened his eyes and looked at his brother and sister, desperate to convince them that he wasn’t a pervert. “I’m not in love with another boy, and it isn’t my fault Papi’s hitting Ma.” He lowered his eyes and stared at the beaded bracelets he’d been squeezing in his hand the entire time. “This mess isn’t my fault…it can’t be my fault… It isn’t! I’m not gay.”
Julito clasped Santi’s shoulder and said, “I know, buddy. I know you wouldn’t let me down that way.” He patted him on the back a couple of times before focusing his attention on the road.
Omayra glared at Julito, and then kissed Santi on the cheek. “I’ll always love you, no matter what you do or who you are,” she whispered as she gave him an understanding smile. “Don’t forget that.”
Santi leaned back in the seat and closed his eyes.
He never let go of the bracelets or Omayra’s hand.
Taylor V. Donovan is a compulsive reader and author of gay romance and suspense. She is optimistically cynical about humanity and a lover of history, museums, and all things 80s. She shamelessly indulges in mind-numbing reality television, is crazy about fashion, and passionate about civil rights and equality for all.
When she’s not writing or making a living in the busiest city in the world, Taylor can be found raising her two daughters and their terribly misbehaved furry baby in their home.
May 24, 2016
A valuable art collection disappears turning a treasure-hunting duo into crime-stopping sleuths committed to vindicating family members in Kaylin McFarren's action-packed suspense novel, Banished Threads.
While vacationing at the stately Cumberforge Manor in Bellwood, England, Rachel Lyons and Chase Cohen attend an elegant dinner party hosted by her uncle, Paul Lyons, and his aristocratic wife, Sara. Before the evening ends, a priceless collection of Morris Graves's paintings are stolen from her uncle's popular gallery, throwing all suspicion onto his wife's missing granddaughter. Determined to clear Sloan Rafferty's name and, in the process, win Paul's favor, Chase scours the countryside looking for answers. In his absence, the police accuse Rachel's uncle of an unsolved murder and secrets surrounding her grandmother's death and the deaths of Sara's former husbands turn his wife into the most likely suspect.
With the true villains hell-bent on destroying Paul Lyons and his family, solving both crimes while ensuring her uncle's freedom not only endangers Rachel's life but that of her unborn child. Will Chase save them before the kidnappers enact their revenge or will the ultimate price be paid, as predicted by a vagabond fortuneteller?
First place - 2016 Hudson Valley RWA Hook, Line & Sinker Contest
A lone figure stood in the estuary lookout nestled in the trees above the North Sea on the Holderness Coast, waiting with restless anticipation as Gwen Gallagher approached the cliff's edge. A quick adjustment to the night-vision binoculars allowed the watcher a closer view of the twenty-eight-year-old secretary as she savored the last autumn sunset she would ever see. The crisp, cool air picked up speed, leaving her long black hair sailing like a ghostly pirate's flag behind her. It lifted the hem of her black skirt slightly, exposing her white shapely legs and black suede booties to the wintry elements. Her pale blue eyes swept across the landscape, appraising the beauty surrounding them. She raised her chin toward the darkening sky and smiled, obviously believing the note she had received, inviting her here, had come from her married lover.
As Gwen moved even closer to the edge, the watcher inhaled a deep breath. All that remained between this ludicrous woman and the vividly blue ocean was two meters of solid rock. From the lookout vantage point, there was barely enough light to confirm that she was staring down at the tossing sands and churning water, mesmerizing in the early evening breeze. All it would take was one push, and she would feel the rush of wind through her hair and see the crystal-blue sea one last time as she slammed headlong into the jagged rocks below.
The watcher's heart was fluttering erratically now as Gwen stood balancing on the brink of extinction. The sky darkened, and gray waves slammed into the rocks, blasting sea spray high into the air. By all appearances, she had become preoccupied by the black storm clouds collecting overhead and the hard-hitting raindrops striking her cheeks. The wind was whipping now and had started to voice its howling rage. Meanwhile, the watcher climbed down from the lookout and stepped hurriedly across the uneven ground, arriving only six yards away from the scene where Gwen now remained frozen in place. The soles of her shoes held her stoically to the uneven mafic rock as the rising wind whipped and swayed her body like a frail willow. For a brief moment, the watcher was uncertain of what to do next. Then Gwen turned around suddenly and stared back in a trancelike state. Another step forward resulted in waking her.
"What are you doing here?" she called out. "What do you want?"
The watcher remained silent and took another step forward before pulling out an engraved, freshly sharpened steak knife. A look of fear crossed Gwen's rain-streaked face, making it impossible not to smile.
"Go away! Leave me alone!" she screeched. She took a final step back to distance herself, just as a massive wave hit. The spray washed over her and sent her plummeting fifteen meters down. The watcher dropped on all fours to maintain a protected position on the slippery, stony ground. Minutes later, the surge passed, and it was now safe to stand. A quick assessment confirmed the dangling binoculars were safe and in excellent working order, but the engraved knife had been washed away. After stepping down to a new viewpoint, it was easy to ascertain that Gwen had been injured from the fall and was now trapped in the jagged rocks below. She looked up at the watcher and called out for help, screaming at the top of her lungs.
Bloody idiot. If someone should hear her, they could interfere, and that would ruin everything.
Five minutes passed as poor Gwen continued to scream. Then, as good fortune would have it, the wind rose again. With the crush of another wave, she was pulled under and swept out to sea.
The watcher smiled and was about to leave when a tiny fraction of light picked up something on the ground. Careful inspection confirmed it was a gold hoop earring, plucked from its owner—a marvelous souvenir to add to the prized, growing collection. After the watcher slipped it into a pocket in the yellow hooded slicker and removed the binoculars, a pleasant thought came to mind. Since it had become a moral right and obligation to dispose of the unworthy and undeserving in the Cumberforge Manor, it wouldn't be long before Gwen's lover would be joining her and the rest of the moneygrubbing fools who had been personally escorted to the bowels of hell.
Kaylin McFarren is a California native who has enjoyed traveling around the world. She previously worked as director for a fine art gallery, where she helped foster the careers of various artists before feeling the urge to satisfy her own creative impulses.
Since launching her writing career, McFarren has earned more than a dozen literary awards in addition to a finalist spot in the 2008 RWA Golden Heart Contest. A member of RWA, Rose City Romance Writers, and Willamette Writers, she also lends her participation and support to various charitable and educational organizations in the Pacific Northwest.
McFarren currently lives with her husband in Oregon and visits her second home in California once a month. They have three grown daughters and two grandchildren, and look forward to having more.
Her latest book is the romantic suspense, Banished Threads.
May 20, 2016
Broken. Guilt-ridden. Ready to start over.
Brody Kent walked away from the pinnacle of rock superstardom and never looked back. Financially, he never has to work again, but takes jobs as a personal assistant to keep his mind—and other things—busy. The women he works for always want something, and he's more than willing to help. But when he's sent to work for a pop princess, Brody will do anything to make her happy—even if it means admitting the ugly truth about his past. Smothered. Talented. Ready to start her life.
Successful pop star, Skylar Samuelson is about to embark upon the turning point of her career—a summer tour in Europe. Her manager mother has promised to pull back and allow her full reign of the overseas tour. When Brody Kent becomes her new assistant, Skylar can't deny the attraction. He's perfect. Everything she’s ever wanted. But Brody's hiding something and the truth may break her. If someone else doesn't break her first...
Lies. Betrayal. And the truth that could ruin them all.
Growing up, L.V. Lewis wanted to be an internationally known rock star, but unfortunately, lived in the wrong part of the country to pursue that career (and neither American Idol nor The Voice were available then). An early love for the written word gave her the plan B she sought. Now she pens romance novels that let her live vicariously through rock stars and other fascinating archetypes.
Eight weeks after sixteen-year-old Andie Hamilton gives her virginity to her best friend, “the stick” says she’s pregnant.
Her friends treat her like she’s carrying the plague, her classmates torture and ridicule her, and the boy she thought loved her doesn’t even care. Afraid to experience the next seven months alone, she turns to her ex-boyfriend, Neil Donaghue, a dark-haired, blue-eyed player. With him, she finds comfort and the support she desperately needs to make the hardest decision of her life: whether or not to keep the baby.
Then a tragic accident leads Andie to discover Neil’s keeping a secret that could dramatically alter their lives, and she’s forced to make a choice. But after hearing her son’s heartbeat for the first time, she doesn’t know how she’ll ever be able to let go.
Adopted at three-days-old by a construction worker and a stay at home mom, Tori Rigby grew up with her nose in a book and her fingers on piano keys, always awaiting the day she’d take her own adventure. Now, she goes on multiple journeys through her contemporary and historical romances. She longs to live in the Scottish Highlands, and her favorite place in history is Medieval England—she’d even give up her Internet and running water to go back in time! Tori also writes high-concept genre fiction as Vicki Leigh, and when she isn’t writing, she’s kicking butt in krav maga or attending classes to learn how to catch bad guys.
A freak accident during the Stanley Cup Playoffs put an end to Max Ashford’s hockey career. Despite everything, Max gets back into the game he loves—only this time, behind the bench as an assistant coach of the Spartanburg Spitfires, the worst team in the entire league. But nothing prepares him for the shock when he learns the new head coach is Misha Samarin, the man who caused Max’s accident.
After spending guilt-ridden years for his part in Max’s accident, Russian native Misha Samarin has no idea what to do when he’s confronted with Max’s presence. Max’s optimism plays havoc with Misha’s equilibrium—as does the fierce attraction that springs up between them.
Not only must they navigate Misha’s remorse and a past he’s spent a lifetime to forget, but also a sleazy GM determined to use their history as a marketing hook. But when an unwelcome visitor targets the team, Misha revisits his darkest days, which might cost him and Max the beginning they’ve worked so hard to build.
“I’d never watched this, you know.”
“The YouTube video?” Misha had seen that too. It was filed with angry commenters yelling that he should be deported back to Russia.
Misha blinked. “You’ve seen the commercial, though. Yes?”
“Yeah, I wish I could say I haven’t seen that. But I meant, I didn’t watch this until a few months ago. They played that game on the NHL channel, so I watched it.”
It never occurred to Misha that Max wouldn’t have seen it, but then he remembered that Max was the hero, not the villain of the story. Misha watched the hit play out on the screen. What must that feel like, to watch the moment it all ended? When Max hit the ice, did he know that game was his last? Did Misha know it was his? How had he felt? He couldn’t remember.
The scene switched to the replay. Misha watched dispassionately, retreated into the blinding pain of his migraine, and told himself that it was all right to suffer, that he should, that he deserved it.
Max paused the video. “Look. See what I have there?”
Misha blinked. He had not expected questions. “I—what?”
“The puck, Misha. The puck. Your hit wasn’t late.”
Oh. “Yes. I know.”
Max stared at him. On the television screen, their younger selves were suspended at the moment everything changed.
Avon Gale was once the mayor on Foursquare of Jazzercise and Lollicup, which should tell you all you need to know about her as a person. She likes road trips, rock concerts, drinking Kentucky bourbon and yelling at hockey. She’s a displaced southerner living in a liberal midwestern college town, and when she’s not writing you can find her at the salon, making her clients look and feel fabulous. She never gets tired of people and their stories -- either real or the ones she makes up in her head.