I’d like to thank Meredith at Diverse Reader for giving me the opportunity to share an exclusive excerpt from Open Seating, the first book in a planned trilogy. Those of you who follow me know I love to travel, and my favorite way to see the world is on a cruise ship. A story with a luxury liner as a backdrop was bound to come out of my muse eventually; I’m just surprised that it took this long.
As the blurb mentions, my main characters are nothing alike and have been thrown together on this voyage under the worst of circumstances. Fate has presented their itinerary, and now it’s up to them to make it work. Or not.
I bring some fun giveaways and several opportunities to win a freebie by following along on the tour. Before I close, I’d like to mention and thank my publicist J for her excellent work in organizing all my blog tours and anything else I might need in terms of promotion.
Author: Mickie B. Ashling
Series: Open Trilogy #1
Release Date: June 10, 2016
Genre: Contemporary Gay Romance
Length: 204 pages
Cover Artist: Catt Ford
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
BLURBSeth Wilder lost his partner of twenty years to suicide two weeks before a long-anticipated cruise. Cancellation insurance was never purchased, and Seth can’t get a refund. Bryce McFarland, his late partner’s gym buddy, appreciates his predicament, and when asked, agrees to accompany him on the trip. This way, Seth recoups the money and doesn’t have to cancel his plans. The gesture is unexpected but accepted gratefully.
The two men have nothing in common. Seth is a reclusive romance writer, and Bryce is a hard-core Grindr user with major commitment issues. Out of necessity and despite the seemingly insurmountable differences in personality, they develop a tentative rapport. As they begin their journey through the UK, Bryce helps Seth come to terms with his partner’s sudden death while Seth, in turn, discovers the root cause of Bryce’s phobia.
Shipboard romances rarely work. Sensible men resist, sexual tension notwithstanding. But a full moon and late summer breezes lend itself to the impossible situation, barriers are crossed, and a love affair is kindled.
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EXCLUSIVE EXCERPTThey barely had enough time to clean up, unpack, and put their clothes away before dashing out the door to make their spa appointment. Always a stickler for punctuality, Seth liked to plan his day to make sure he completed all his tasks in a timely fashion. His editor appreciated this side of his personality, especially when they were trying to make a publishing deadline, and Mark, on the rare occasions he asked Seth to do an errand, knew his requests would be completed before he got home. Now, Seth found himself off his game, rooming with a man who was spontaneous and easily persuaded to ditch a plan in favor of something new and more interesting.
Lying prone on the massage table in a private room illuminated by a tiny mood lamp with soothing background music was the perfect environment for introspection. He was a little light-headed from rushing through the last hour, not to mention the satisfying interlude that put both Bryce and him in the right frame of mind for more sensual pampering at the hands of a qualified masseur. He’d requested a male, as did Bryce, simply because he wasn’t comfortable getting naked with a female. He knew he was being silly—after all, women were just as good, if notbetter than men in this profession—but the last time he’d been butt-ass naked with a female was at age fifteen. He’d been experimenting with his neighbor, Jenna, and the afternoon had turned into a fiasco when he couldn’t respond to her touch. He left her bedroom more certain than ever that he was gay, accompanied by her mocking laughter in the background. Thinking about it made him shudder.
“Does that hurt?” Roy, the masseur, asked immediately, attune to every nuance of Seth’s body. It was his job to make sure his clients were relaxed and not vibrating with tension.
“No,” Seth murmured.
“How’s the pressure? Too hard or not hard enough?”
“It’s fine, Roy. Keep doing what you’re doing.”
“Is there any particular spot you’d like me to focus on?”
“My neck and arms,” Seth said. “I’m a writer and spend too many hours in front of a computer.”
“Say no more,” Roy replied. “I know exactly what you need.”
“Do you see this a lot?”
“Yeah, but not only with writers. Anyone who’s on the computer too long ends up in that gooseneck position, which puts a lot of strain on neck and shoulder muscles. What I’m going to do is apply some pressure on the knots and try to loosen them up. Let me know when the pain gets too intense. It should hurt a little, but I don’t want it to be excruciating. That would defeat the purpose.”
“How do I know if it’s too much?”
“You shouldn’t let the pain go past seven on a scale from one to ten.”
Seth closed his eyes and let Roy do his thing. The guy had a great touch. He knew where to linger, pressing down on spots Seth didn’t even realize were pinched. As Roy applied increasing pressure with his fingers, the area grew noticeably warmer, and Seth could feel a low thrumming under his skin as if Roy had his fingertips right on Seth’s heartbeat. It pulsed steadily, and after a minute or two, the pressure eased and the pain slowly faded. It was hard to know if it was magic or the power of suggestion, but he felt he was in good healing hands.
When the hour-long session was over, Seth was half-asleep. Roy nudged him awake gently and handed him a glass of cool water flavored with a slice of lemon. He urged him to try to drink as much water as possible during the course of a day to cleanse his body and keep himself hydrated.
“It helps with the inflammation,” Roy said.
“Does it have to be water?”
“You can mix it up with fruit juices or an occasional soda, but there’s nothing like water.”
“I’ll try,” Seth said. “I’d like to see you again. I’m booked for two more spa visits. Would you please check and make sure the appointments are with you?”
“No problem,” Roy said.
He walked Seth out to the reception area and checked the appointment book for future visits. The bookings were on Roy’s schedule, so that was one less thing to think about.
Seth slipped him a ten-dollar bill before leaving the spa. “Dollars okay?” he asked.
“Absolutely,” Roy replied. “Thank you, Mr. Wilder.”
“Call me Seth.”
“Will do. See you in a few days.”
If you’ve read the synopsis of this book you know Seth and his husband were going to be going on a 3 week cruise to celebrate their 20 year marriage, his sudden death leaves him without a companion and out a lot of money if he can’t get someone else. Bryce, Seth’s husband Mark’s friend, volunteers to take his spot and help Seth out. That’s it in short….
Now, I didn’t expect a lot of things in this book and the controversial topic it took on. I will not reveal it since it’s a spoiler and vital to the story.
It is a love story. A friends to lovers sort of. I’d put it in that category. The loss of Mark does bring Bryce and Seth together but how it starts would not make you think it would end happily lol. Bryce is a confirmed bachelor pushing 50 who likes twinks. Seth is a successful historical romance writer who likes things calmer and his age lol. Totally opposite… and they are stuck on a cruise ship together.
It’s a certain couple they meet that changes their perspective on a lot of things and in turn the 4 of them show each other new ways to look at things.
For such a controversial topic I can’t commend Mickie enough for the dignity, respect, and eloquence she brought to this book.
It was absolutely wonderful and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
ABOUT THE AUTHORMickie B. Ashling is the pseudonym of a multifaceted woman who is a product of her upbringing in multiple cultures, having lived in Japan, the Philippines, Spain, and the Middle East. Fluent in three languages, she’s a citizen of the world and an interesting mixture of East and West. A little bit of this and a lot of that have brought a unique touch to her literary voice she could never learn from textbooks.
By the time Mickie discovered her talent for writing, real life got in the way, and the business of raising four sons took priority. With the advent of e-publishing—and the inevitable emptying nest—dreams of becoming a published writer were resurrected and she’s never looked back.
She stumbled into the world of men who love men in 2002 and continues to draw inspiration from their ongoing struggle to find equality and happiness in this oftentimes skewed and intolerant world. Her award-winning novels have been called "gut wrenching, daring, and thought provoking." She admits to being an angst queen and making her men work damn hard for their happy endings.
Mickie currently resides in a suburb outside Chicago.
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RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAYWin a $10 Dreamspinner Press gift certificate, an audio code for a Mickie Ashling audiobook, or an ecopy of one of Mickie’s backlist titles. Three winners! Contest open internationally. Must be 18 or older to enter.
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