Prism Book Alliance® would like to thank Mickie B. Ashling for stopping by today. Please give them a warm welcome.
Title: Open Seating
Author: Mickie B. Ashling
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Catt Ford
Genre: Contemporary, Gay Romance
Release Date: 06/10/2016
Seth 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.
I’d like to thank Prism Book Alliance 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.
There were cozy pockets of seating scattered throughout the hotel lobby, and Seth chose an area close to an electrical outlet for his laptop. A self-service coffee bar, open twenty-four hours a day, was also conveniently located in the same vicinity, and he poured himself a large mug. By the end of his writing session, he would easily consume several more; the caffeine provided an essential component to his creative process.
This was his daily ritual, and he saw no reason to change even if it was inconvenient for his roommate. Seth had done his best to accommodate Bryce by picking up the phone after one ring to make sure he wasn’t disturbed by the wake-up call, although from the looks of it, the guy was down for the count. Seth had no idea what time Bryce had gotten in last night, but he could guess it was well past midnight. The subtle odor of cigarettes, booze, and male arousal permeated the room, and it didn’t take much to figure out Bryce had been prowling the clubs for a hookup. God, what was it like to live with that kind of sexual appetite?
Seth had considered Mark and himself to be average as far as libidos went. Trying to compare their sex drives to one of a confirmed bachelor was unrealistic and stepping into dangerous territory. He’d be disrespecting Mark by measuring him against Bryce. The dynamics of a twenty-year-old partnership could never compare to a drive-by fucking, which was what Bryce and his Grindr app were all about apparently. Talk about the decline of romance….
It was deplorable that an entire generation was dependent on electronic devices to meet someone. The outdated system of being introduced in a social setting, feeling the intense attraction, and holding off on sex until a more tangible connection had been established was viewed as archaic and impractical. Why go through the expense of courtship only to find out in the end that sex was unsatisfying?
Why indeed. Seth reluctantly admitted he might be a tad biased and trapped inside one of his novels, preferring the rules of etiquette that permeated historical romances rather than the vulgarity of modern life. His literary agent, Laurie, had encouraged him to venture into the contemporary genre as it was much more lucrative, but Seth remained adamant. He couldn’t authentically write a scene that went against his core beliefs. It would be wrong on every level, and selling out to keep his publisher happy would feel like pandering.
Laurie had argued that Seth was out of touch with reality, living an idyllic life created by his loving partner. He was far too young to be so opinionated. Most people jumped into bed first, she pointed out, straight or gay, and if it was successful, then romance might or might not come into play. Seth was appalled. Laurie had turned a beautiful and intimate connection into a nonevent as routine as taking a shower. Social media perpetuated the decline of romance by making it too easy to find someone willing to put out. Good, bad, and ugly situations were oftentimes rated online, a permanent blot on the Internet one could never escape. Strangers from all over the world weighed in on situations that should have been kept secret. Seth shook his head in disapproval while he read the daily trends, watching celebrities and ordinary citizens crash and burn as their love lives were turned into a media circus. It was demeaning, invasive, and damned tacky. He was grateful that he and Mark were happy and monogamous; were being the operative word.
Unfortunately, things were different now. He hadn’t changed his Facebook status to single because he’d be fending questions about Mark all day. Friends and family already knew, so there was no rush to update anything. Part of his reluctance to announce it to the public came from having to defend Mark’s decision if they asked about the cause of death. His readers didn’t know his partner, as he and Mark had chosen to keep their private lives close to the chest, and to be honest, Seth hadn’t quite come to terms with the suicide himself. How could he explain something he didn’t understand?
About the Author
Mickie 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.
CONNECT WITH MICKIE
June 9 – The Novel Approach
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June 14 – Sinfully
June 16 – Prism Book Alliance
June 20 – Diverse Reader
June 22 – Love Bytes
June 24 – On Top Down Under Book Reviews
June 28 – Bayou Book Junkie
June 29 – Multitaskingmommas
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