A Champion for Tinker Creek

By D.C. Robeline

Small Town Romances
Friends & Community
People of Color
Gangsters
Multicultural 
Blue Collar

Master mechanic Lyle James built a successful but lonely life in Tinker Creek after rescuing his dad’s auto repair shop until an international development firm conspires with local officials to condemn the shop and steal his land.

Jose “Manny” Porter has come home to take a reporting job at the South Georgia Record, a regional newspaper where his father is publisher and editor-in-chief. As the son of a driven Anglo father and Cuban exile mother, Manny knows all about how competing parental expectations can chill efforts to even find sex—much less love.

After a night of passion, Lyle and Manny are thrown together in a fight to save Lyle’s business. Their struggles may lead to more than either expected for their community and their lives.

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Inherit the Lightning

By Bud Gundy

Small Town Romances
Second Chance at Love
Marriage of Convenience/Fake Relationship
Coming Out
Blue Collar

Growing up middle-class in Cleveland, Ohio, Darcy O’Brien and his sisters learn they’re about to inherit a long-rumored, immense family fortune from their great-grandfather Cooper Tiller—until a mysterious stranger from New York City swoops in and claims ownership of the estate.

When his lawyer forbids Darcy from confronting the interloper, it only fuels his determination to protect their rightful inheritance. In many ways a mirror of Coop—a masculine, hard-charging businessman from the early 20th century—Darcy’s uncertain about his ability to find love with the right man, but he secretly longs for Jake Tester and allows him to join his quest.

The journey will change their lives as they uncover Coop’s epic tale, unraveling a seventy-year-old family secret that forces Darcy to face his fears and leads to a breathtaking discovery waiting more than a century to be unearthed.

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Boy at the Window

By Lauren Melissa Ellzey

Young Adult
Children / Families
People of Color
Coming Out
Multicultural 
California

It all began with trying to fly. After jumping off the roof of his house in the middle of the night, Daniel Kim wakes up far from Neverland, his reprieve from the real world. Thrust into a mental health hospital and then into a brand-new high school, he struggles to hold on to reality while haunted by both his very-present past and his never-present parents. But when he joins Cranbrook Preparatory’s cross-country team, he starts to feel like he’s walking on his own two feet once again. He meets Jiwon Yoon—another cross-country runner, who may be the first person to join Daniel in his Neverland daydreams. Or maybe Jiwon is the one who will finally break Daniel free.

Content warning: Emotional trauma, attempted suicide, mental illness.

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One Verse Multi

By Sander Santiago

People of Color
Transgender
Other Worlds
Friends & Community

For the last ten years, Martin King has been a rift repair technician for the Multi-verse Protection Corporation (MVP), closing gaps between universes. But he is ready for a change and joins a research team tasked with answering some exciting questions. “Exciting” quickly becomes “troubling” as the team learns that the multi-verse is on the fast track to a collision event that could destroy everyone and everything. MVP is there to help, right? Maybe not. Everything changes when Martin is kidnapped by an anti-MVP group who claims MVP is secretly propelling the collision.

And if the multi-verse issues weren’t enough, several men make Martin rethink what it means to be single or even monogamous. Martin’s growing feelings for Luca, the data manager on his research team, and Tidus from the FOX universe, help him understand what’s truly at stake. Only one thing is certain, Martin must figure out how to keep the multi-verse and his love life from collapsing into chaos.

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Busy Ain't the Half of It

By Frederick Smith and Others

Elijah Golden and Justin Monroe are uncle and nephew with eclectic careers, friends, and family in LA, trying to center joy in their lives.Then their worlds turn in ways nobody expects.

Elijah, a dedicated thespian, auditions by day, does theater by night, and works two jobs on weekends. With enough life for three people, he keeps his recently divorced partner Zaire coasting on bliss…until secrets and real-life dramas test their love.

Justin, Elijah’s uncle, is a single father with teenage twins, and a TV journalist who’s been replaced at the anchor desk when new management arrives. No longer in the public eye, living true to his sexuality is something Justin can finally do. Dating and romance—Justin’s ready for fun. Conflicts with fatherhood and career—he’ll have none.

Elijah and Justin seek happily-ever-afters, but are they too busy to notice happy when it’s there?

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A Little Village Blend

By 'Nathan Burgoine

According to Ivan’s sister Anya, Ivan’s tea leaves promise his perfect match is out there somewhere, just waiting to be swept off their feet. Ivan knows Anya’s always right—an annoying trait for a sister if ever there was one.

Ivan’s own knack with tea might not deal with the future, but it’s pretty good at helping with the here and now. When Walt, a tall, dark, and grumpy soldier shows up at his store, NiceTeas, in obvious need of a hand—and a dog-sitter—Ivan rises to the challenge and offers blends to make Walt’s life a little easier. There’s just no way he can help falling for the guy. But Anya says Walt’s not the one for Ivan, and the tea leaves don’t lie.

Is it worth steeping a here-and-now while waiting for the one-and-only? Ivan’s not sure, but everything tells him it’s all just a matter of finding the right blend.

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Best of the Wrong Reasons

By Sander Santiago

When Franklin—Fin—Ness makes up his mind it tends to stay made. Running, med school, and caring for his healing mother are things Fin never second-guesses. More stubborn than his mind, his heart picked Orion a long time ago. Seeing Orion again proves his heart is still invested, but his temper and fears about their past repeating have Fin wondering if following his heart is worth losing his mind.

Musician and drifter Orion Starr expects ghosts at his mother’s funeral in his rural Georgia town. He never expects one to be his former crush, Fin. Especially since he ghosted the guy in college. The surprises keep coming as Orion waits to spread his mother’s ashes. He runs into friends, an old bully, and the cops, but the redheaded Fin threatens to make Orion do something he hasn’t done in years—look forward to the future.

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Village Fool

By 'Nathan Burgoine

Owen is only confident in two places: at work, supporting clients through IT woes, and when he’s sitting around a gaming table in the role of a smooth and charming bard. He’s never acted on the crush he’s had on his physiotherapist—and total cubcake—Toma. Even though Owen’s no longer Toma’s patient, and his crush hasn’t dialed down in the slightest, Owen can’t figure out how to make a move.

When a friend decides to play a prank involving Owen’s contact list, Owen spends the morning of April Fools’ day inadvertently texting smooth and charming thoughts about Toma... to Toma himself.

By the time Owen discovers the prank, things are completely out of control. Discussions of thighs and awards for the World’s Best Chest have been handed out—not to mention they’ve set an accidental coffee date—and there’s no taking that sort of thing back. When this joke finally gets told, Owen’s convinced he’ll be the punchline, but with a little luck and some nudging from his friends, the last laugh might be the best of his life.

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His Brother's Viscount

By Stephanie Lake

Reunion Romance
Disability
Friends to Lovers Romance
Age Gap
Royalty
Vacation
Virgins/First Love

As a baron’s youngest son, Hector Somerville has no real prospects. He will not inherit, and he’s overshadowed by two perfect brothers. While searching for ways to improve his situation, Hector finds respite in an invitation to a country estate—and has a second chance at rekindling his illicit affair with Viscount Wentworth, captain of HBMS Dragon. The upcoming fortnight could be everything Hector dreamed of since their disastrous parting.

Wentworth has forsaken love, and yet, memories of guilt and heartache resurface. He loved a boyhood friend once, Hector’s older brother William, until the man left him, trampling his heart in the process. Years later, he wonders if he ever fell out of love. Is his heart bound by William, or can he create a life with Hector?

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Every Summer Day

By Lee Patton

Friends & Community

Determined to record every summer day, young history teacher Luke Devlin starts school vacation imagining he’ll describe backcountry adventures in the Rockies and sun-splashed days home in Denver. But all too soon the season veers into crisis, when his older brother faces life-threatening illness and Luke becomes entangled in a love affair that’s as fast-moving and possibly as fatal as his brother’s diagnosis.

As Luke manages the household for his absent parents and struggles with the constant pressure of his unfinished master’s deadline, his fling with a Wyoming rancher grows serious just as his brother’s crisis overwhelms him. Luke’s love of his native ground and his search for romance collide with the hard realities of mortality and loss during an unexpected summer.

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Le Berceau

By Julius Eks

Close Quarters
Friends to Lovers Romance
Coming Out

Ben considers himself lucky. He found Gabriel early in life and he is loved.

But at twenty-one, he’s beginning to question if the boat of youthful independence will soon set sail without him. Will his devotion to Gabriel prevent him from exploring with other guys? Will he ever get to experience the heart-wavering thrill of falling in love again?

Vacationing on Gabriel’s family boat on the French Riviera, Ben is unprepared for the arrival of Leo, a beautiful adolescent thriving in the noontide of carefree nonchalance. Over the course of a single day, Ben battles his burgeoning lust and intensifying guilt.

Will he betray Gabriel, who has done nothing but love him? Or can he resist the carnal temptation of the most beautiful boy he has ever seen?

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Faux Ho Ho

By 'Nathan Burgoine

Marriage of Convenience/Fake Relationship

Silas Waite doesn’t want his big-C Conservative Alberta family to know he’s barely making rent. They’d see it as yet another sign that he’s not living up to the Waite family potential and muscle in on his life. When Silas unexpectedly needs a new roommate, he ends up with the gregarious—and gorgeous—personal trainer Constantino “Dino” Papadimitriou.

Silas’s parents try to browbeat him into visiting for Thanksgiving, where they’ll put him on display as an example of how they’re so tolerant for Silas’s brother’s political campaign, but Dino pretends to be his boyfriend to get him out of it, citing a prior commitment. The ruse works—until they receive an invitation to Silas’s sister’s last-minute wedding.

Silas loves his sister, Dino wouldn’t mind a chalet Christmas, and together, they could turn a family obligation into something fun. But after nine months of being roommates, then friends, and now “boyfriends,” Silas finds being with Dino way too easy, and being the son that his parents barely tolerate too hard. Something has to give, but luckily, it’s the season for giving. And maybe what Silas has to give is worth the biggest risk of all.

 

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Accidental Prophet

By Bud Gundy

Intelligent, handsome, and struggling to make his rent, thirty-year-old Drew Morten loses his only meaningful relationship when his grandmother dies. A famous television anchor, Claudia Trenton leaves Drew the legacy of her secret memoir. From the fate of a vanished medieval prince to a top-secret NASA study about a mystifying space object, her unreported discoveries hum with wonder. 

But history merges with the present and upends Drew’s life when he has a terrifying revelation. Teaming up with a brilliant woman who receives the same vision and a handsome man whose arrival is either fortuitous or sinister, Drew follows the clues in his grandmother’s memoir and races against time to save the world from an apocalyptic nightmare about to be unleashed in downtown San Francisco.

As catastrophe looms, so does the question: Who, or what, is the real enemy?

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In Case You Forgot

By Chaz Lamar Cruz and Others

Two newly single, Black, queer, and socially aware men have packed up to start again—in love, career, and life—in the West Hollywood neighborhood of LA.

Zaire James, on the cusp of 30, has decided marriage isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Despite friends, family, and coworkers loving Zaire’s “perfect” partner, divorce is a necessary step for finding himself and being free. If only it were that easy.

Kenny Kane has made a career of deferring dreams, lowering expectations, and chasing partners not on his level in hopes of finding a love to call his own. However, on the verge of the big 4-0, he realizes the clock is ticking on all his dreams.

As Zaire and Kenny undo the significant relationships of their pasts, they hope new opportunities, energy, mindsets, and connections will reinvigorate what is missing in their lives—drama and all.

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Somewhere Over Lorain Road

By Bud Gundy

Amateur Sleuths
Small Town Romances

Advance Praise for Somewhere Over Lorain Road

"The author pulls all the stops out in this gripping story of love, tragedy, and redemption set against the backdrop of a murder investigation...a five-star win with the best mystery novel I have read in years." – Alan Chin, author of First Exposure, The Plain of Bitter Honey, and Buddha's Bad Boys

“Darker and more powerful than its outline might suggest.” – Daniel Curzon, author of Something You Do in the Dark

 

For more than forty years, the stain of horrific allegations against their father has haunted the Esker sons. When three little boys were murdered in 1975, their dad was suspected of the crimes. The immense strain of the unsolved case shattered the family, sending the brothers reeling into destinies of death, flight, and, in the case of Don Esker, shame-filled silence.

Years later, Don returns to the family home in North Homestead, Ohio, to help care for his dying father in his final months. His dad longs for the peace that will only come with clearing his name. If Don can find the killer, he can heal his family—and himself. His own redemption begins when he becomes romantically involved with Bruce, who joins the hunt and forces Don to confront the unthinkable answer they’ve uncovered.

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A Careful Heart

By Ralph Josiah Bardsley

Workplace Romance

Travis Gaines and Stephen Davis are as close as two best friends can be. Born less than a month apart, they grew up as neighbors in a small northern New Hampshire town. After college, they make their way together to Boston, craving the excitement and fast pace of New England’s biggest city. 

As they get their bearings in Boston, Travis falls hard for Benson, a senior executive at the financial services firm where he works. Benson is wealthy, handsome, and well connected among Boston’s well heeled. At first it seems like Benson is everything a guy could ever want, but behind that glossy veneer is a dark side that threatens to tear Travis and Stephen’s friendship apart and change their lives forever.

 

Advance praise from Foreword Reviews:

"A Careful Heart is a romance novel by way of domestic abuse. Sound improbable? Perhaps, but Ralph Josiah Bardsley takes on that often-neglected subject within the genre well. The book follows two best friends from childhood to early adulthood. One finds romance, and the other thinks he has but realizes that the “perfect guy” comes with a devastating price....Bardsley crafts the family dynamics of both characters well, giving enough information to enrich the story without lingering too long on secondary characters....Violence in relationships can affect anyone, as A Careful Heart compellingly proves."

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Rank

By Richard Compson Sater

Workplace Romance
Military
Coming Out

Integrity. Service before self. Excellence in all things. The U.S. Air Force core values matter to Second Lieutenant Harris Mitchell, out and proud since the military ditched its “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. But though the Air Force may be gay friendly, Harris isn’t so sure about his demanding new boss, Brigadier General Seamus O’Neill—unit commander, cargo pilot, perfectionist, infidel—hiding behind bluster, a magnificent mustache, and a secret. Harris is certain that General O’Neill hates him. So what’s a lieutenant supposed to do when he discovers that he’s fallen in love?

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The Photographer's Truth

By Ralph Josiah Bardsley

Friends to Lovers Romance

Ian Baines seems to have it all—a career as a hotshot software programmer in Silicon Valley, a beautiful wife and family, a nice house in an upscale San Francisco neighborhood, and a past that he’s mostly managed to forget. Life takes an unexpected turn for Ian when he finds himself in Paris for a three-month work project where he meets former fashion photographer Luca Sparks. The unlikely friendship grows and Ian sees a new side to life as Luca takes him on a journey through the glamorous and lustrous Paris nightlife. But something strange starts to happen during their adventures in Paris—the two start to fall in love. Both battle their own demons on the road to self-discovery, ultimately learning how to come to peace with their feelings and their pasts.

 

Lambda Literary says... 

Outwardly, Ian Baines’ life has all the clichéd trappings of success:  a rising career as a software programmer at a Silicon Valley start-up; a beautiful, accomplished wife; two above-average sons; a fabulous house in an upscale San Francisco neighborhood. The long hours at his job, however, begin to strain his marriage and threaten to unravel his perfect family life. Against his better judgement, then, he accepts a three-month work project based in Paris, creating a database of the fashion house Môti’s collection. While in Paris, alone, he meets the former fashion photographer Luca Sparks who introduces him to the Paris that is hidden from tourists, and together they enjoy the glamorous Parisian nightlife. Their unlikely friendship soon develops into something deeper, until finally Ian is forced to make a choice.

Such is the basic story behind The Photographer’s Truth by Ralph Josiah Bardsley. The two protagonists appear to share little in common: Ian, the unkempt and logical American contrasts with the impeccable, artistic, and cosmopolitan Frenchman Luca. But neither man is entirely what he seems on the surface: for example, buried in their pasts are Ian’s single sexual experience with another man, and Luca’s marriage to a female photojournalist. Ian, in typical American fashion, is rather out of touch with his feelings, so it takes a while for what is obvious to the reader to dawn on him, namely that Luca is attracted to him and is courting him. Perhaps it is Ian’s liberal Californian upbringing, or being thrust into a milieu so different from his normal world, but Ian is not consumed with feelings of “I can’t be gay or Bi”; instead he is consumed by guilt over cheating on his wife.

Bardsley allows the relationship between the two men to develop at a believable pace; as the narrative unfolds, we gradually learn more about the two men at the center of the story, and how they evolve over the course of the romance. Ian narrates the story, so it is clear to the reader how drastically his attitudes and life change; but when Ian meets Luca’s friends, and through them learns Luca’s backstory, it becomes apparent to him (and the reader) that their relationship has also changed Luca. A notorious recluse, once he meets Ian he begins ignoring even his close circle of friends; he also quits smoking.

It used to be said that “the camera doesn’t lie”—at least without irony before the advent of Photoshop and Instagram filters—but the truth is that the photographer carefully constructs the photograph (using light, shadow, color, setting, etc.) in much the same way that the fiction writer constructs a scene in a chapter. Both use their respective media to tell a story, and both use lies to tell a deeper truth. Luca acknowledges how much artifice goes into making art when he explains to Ian that the “photographer must make a decision. He must decide what his subject looks like before he takes the picture. We have to decide what we want to see….What do you want to see?  What do you want your world to be?” Of course, Luca’s explanation of how to be a good photographer could just as easily be applied to the question of how to live one’s life in an authentic manner.

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