Prism Book Alliance® would like to thank Jackie Keswick for stopping by today.
Title: Ghosts (Power of Zero #2)
Author: Jackie Keswick
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Maria Fanning
Genre: Contemporary, M/M Romance
The Power of Zero: Book Two
Jack Horwood doesn’t do families. Or Christmas. From the time his mother sold him to her pimp to the moment he walked out on the man he loved, Christmas has always been about change and painful choices. This year seems no different. Helping Daniel and Nico recover from their imprisonment and hunting down those responsible puts Jack in a frame of mind he doesn’t want to inflict on anyone. Least of all Gareth and the tentative relationship they’ve started to rebuild.
But Gareth, for whom Christmas is all about new beginnings, won’t let Jack take the easy way out. He makes him face his ghosts instead. Even when said ghosts invade their bedroom.
When Daniel’s parents are found, Jack is determined to settle the matter without involving Daniel at all. But fate decrees otherwise, and it’s Gareth who helps him finally understand that the strongest bonds are those forged together. Once he gets that, Jack can step up and make a decision designed to lay his ghosts to rest—for good.
Of Food and Families
It doesn’t really matter what the occasion is. Birthdays, graduations, Christmas or simply weather nice enough to bring out the barbecue…put together a bunch of people intent to have a good time and there will be food.
One of the first things many new or prospective couples do together is go for a meal, to get to know one another over a table set with delicious things. If all goes well, you may end up deciding to offer your brand new significant other a romantic meal in your home. Or you may end up cooking together.
As a student I spent a summer field trip in Armenia. One day, one of our guides invited a whole bunch of us to his home. It was eleven o’clock at night when we arrived! And yet, his wife and daughters immediately set about creating a feast for us. I remember all of us feeling so, so guilty. We were asking our hosts over and over not to put themselves out, not at this hour, not… until our translator pointed out that we were actually insulting them! We promptly shut up after that. And we were still eating at half past one o’clock the next morning, some of the most delicious food I’ve ever had.
Our guide’s family made such an effort for a bunch of strangers showing up on their doorstep unannounced – this was well before mobile phone! – because they wanted to make us feel welcome, wanted to make us feel part of the family.
Many of us associate food with families, or family occasions with certain foods. Gareth Flynn, Jack’s former CO and current boss, the man Jack’s been in love with since he was seventeen, is a prime example of this. When he wants to celebrate family – the one he was born to and the family he’s made for himself over the years – he lays on a spread to end all spreads. When he wants to offer comfort, he offers food. And when he wants to show Jack how much Jack has come to mean to him….yes, you’ve guessed it!
Ghosts is all about families, the best and the worst of them. It’s set between Christmas and Valentine’s Day, which is prime territory for the most delicious food, and Gareth Flynn loves to cook and look after people. Of course, there was no way I was going to pass up writing as much food into the story as would fit, including a midnight pancake feast and a giggle-inducing Valentine’s Day dinner.
It goes without saying that Jack, Nico and Daniel enjoy eating Gareth’s food as much as he loves to cook it. But what about you? Are you a kitchen wiz who loves nothing better than to spend hours chopping and stirring to feed the hungry hordes? Or would you rather be Jack and enjoy delicious treats whipped up by your beloved? I’d love to know… so why not tell me in the comments?
Gareth had been right, at least where the food was concerned. By the time the soup was a promise of velvety, orange-and-fennel-scented richness and the goose was roasted to perfection, Jack had started to regard cooking with Gareth as a new form of torture. He had prepared a mountain of sprouts, peeled blanched chestnuts until his fingertips were sore, and been smacked over the head more than once with a wooden spoon for sneaking strips of the rather tasty prosciutto he was supposed to wrap around the chipolatas.
“I bought extra so I could eat some,” he whined, only to hear Gareth laugh.
“I doubt you bought that much extra. And anyway, dinner is ready when you are.”
“Want me to light the fire?”
Jack left Gareth to the contemplation of the contents of the wine rack while he lit the fire he’d set just that morning. A small flame sprang up from the thin shavings of kindling. The fresh pine he had added to the stack of wood hissed and caught fire, releasing scents of peace and woodland to mingle with the enticing aromas of roast goose and baked orange. The drapes were closed against the dark and damp of an English winter evening, and a golden glow suffused the room as the fire caught and grew.
Lighting the tall tapers on the dinner table and watching the tiny flames reflect on porcelain and crystal only added to Jack’s feeling of comfort and safety, and he wondered why he never felt like this in his own home, however many candles he lit.
The pop of a cork from the direction of the kitchen held the answer. And it was obvious.
Gareth made the difference.
Jack could lean on him without being thought weak. He watched Jack’s back without having to be asked, and he provided reason when Jack was too tired to think straight. Gareth Flynn was someone Jack didn’t want to be without—and for whom he was even prepared to brave ghosts.
In fact, Gareth did for him what he was trying to do for Daniel and Nico. That was the simple sum of it.
“What’s so amusing?” Gareth crossed to the dining table, carrying a tray that held a tureen of soup and a bottle of sparkling wine in a chiller.
Jack hadn’t realized he was smiling. He didn’t feel like explaining his epiphany just yet. It seemed silly that he’d been too busy settling into his new job at Nancarrow Mining, getting used to working for his former CO once more, and helping Nico and Daniel, to notice what was right in front of his face. He waved his hand, encompassing the candlelit tree, the fire, the table dressed in gleaming white linen, fine porcelain, crystal, and sparkling silverware. And more intangible things like warmth, the sense of being wanted, and the inviting aromas of Gareth’s cooking.
“This,” he said after a moment. “You. Christmas.” He stepped around the table and wound his arms around Gareth’s neck, pressing close. “I don’t do Christmas,” he said softly, brushing his lips over Gareth’s in a barely there caress. “Never have. I always used to work. And nobody’s ever….”
Gareth dotted a quick kiss on Jack’s forehead. “Which is exactly why I do it, of course,” he quipped. “Workaholics like you need a civilizing influence. And you like my cooking.” He pried Jack’s arms from his neck and turned him around. “Now sit down before the soup’s cold and the fizz goes flat!”
Jack complied without a word, happy in his anticipation of a spectacular dinner. He didn’t even bother to check his smile.
About the Author
Jackie Keswick was born behind the Iron Curtain with itchy feet, a bent for rocks and a recurrent dream of stepping off a bus in the middle of nowhere to go home. She’s worked in a hospital and as the only girl with 52 men on an oil rig, spent a winter in Moscow and a summer in Iceland and finally settled in the country of her dreams with her dream team: a husband, a cat, a tandem, a hammer and a laptop.
Jackie loves stories about unexpected reunions and second chances, and men who don’t follow the rules when those rules are stupid. She has a thing for green eyes and tight cyclist’s butts and is a great believer in making up soundtracks for everything, including her characters and the cat.
And she still hasn’t found the place where the bus stops.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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