Today’s visitor to the blog is Gillian St. Kevern. It’s the holiday time of year and Gillian reminded me that she also visited the blog with her first story two years ago. She’s back with another festive story that continues the series.
In 2015, Nic was kind enough to host an interview with me about The Ugliest Sweater, my first ever published story (click here to read that post). Two years later, I’m back with The Charity Shop Rejects Live in Concert, the third book in what has now become For the Love of Christmas!, a series about men with unfortunate taste in clothing and those who love them anyway.
The Ugliest Sweater (https://www.queeromanceink.com/book/the-ugliest-sweater/) was the story of a normally down to earth gym instructor, Dan, whose love for his hideous Christmas sweater has led to him being dumped for the third year in a row. That ugly sweater catches the attention of Jake, a radio DJ whose career rests on his reputation for cool. They’re an unlikely pair, but it turns out that Dan is the only person Jake can trust with his own Christmas secret.
Ugly sweaters return in Ibiza on Ice (https://www.queeromanceink.com/book/ibiza-on-ice/), the story of Aston, Dan’s latest ex whose plans to prove to Dan that he is having his perfect vacation without him backfire spectacularly, leaving him stranded in Finland, surrounded by ugly sweaters, and one lanky Finn who is extremely hazardous to Aston’s aesthetic. Aston argues that there’s no shame in being shallow and that in today’s world, image is everything. His developing relationship with Laaksonen, owner of a sweater nearly as hideous as Dan’s, forces him to reexamine his beliefs and own his less than perfect nature.
Not to get all deep or anything, but while unintentional, I don’t think it’s coincidence that both these Christmas stories take image as a theme. Just last Thursday, my writing group was discussing the fact that Christmas this year feels more stressed than previous years. One friend who works retail commented that she thinks shoppers are obsessed with creating ‘the perfect Christmas’ and we mused on why this might be.
I think it’s got something to do with the Christmas movies selling ‘the most wonderful time of the year,’ taken to the next level by relentless Christmas advertising promoting ‘the perfect Christmas dinner,’ ‘the perfect Christmas gift,’ even ‘the perfect Christmas getaway.’ It’s also the time for catching up with friends and family we haven’t seen in a while, prompting an outbreak of comparisonitis, and the determination to impress with a Christmas dinner/present/drinks to prove that hey, we’re happy and successful even without that second car/house/kid. This obsession with perfection isn’t only creating high pressure, but it’s also robbing the season of its fun.
The For the Love of Christmas! series doesn’t just ponder the nature of image versus reality, but it celebrates imperfection. For all his cool, Jake has serious hang-ups. Dan’s got atrocious taste in music. Aston has some serious growing up to do, and Laaksonen’s elbows are lethal weapons. And this continues in The Charity Shop Rejects Live in Concert.
Mikaal has stage-fright so severe he struggles to set foot on stage, and this leads him to doubt whether he can even call himself a musician. Declan’s bloody-mindedness and refusal to compromise on anything related to music has alienated him from his twin brother. Hiro has ambitious he hasn’t shared with his band mates. They make things much, much harder on themselves than they need to be, but that is part of the reason why I love them—and I hope you will too.
The Charity Shop Rejects Live in Concert.
Mikaal Sarhadi has been in trouble since the moment he met guitarist Declan Hyde. Declan treats music like religion, setting high standards for himself and his bandmates. Mikaal struggles to even step on stage. He will do anything to justify Declan’s belief in him—even if that means ignoring the powerful attraction between them.
After a chance meeting with Brandon, Declan’s estranged brother, reveals just how much Declan will sacrifice for his music, Mikaal wonders if he can even call himself a musician. Worse, drummer Hiro’s visa application has been denied. With time running out for The Charity Shop Rejects, Mikaal must conquer his stage fright or lose music—and Declan—entirely.
Gillian St. Kevern is spending Christmas in her native New Zealand, where the seasonal festivities include pavlovas, walks on the beach, and a distinct lack of sweaters, seasonal or otherwise. She will almost certainly get sunburnt at some stage.
Gillian reads and writes a variety of genres. She’s a huge fan of paranormal with an emphasis on vampires. The third and fourth books in her vampire series, Thorns and Fangs, are due for release in January and February 2018. She also explores Welsh Mythology in the on-going Deep Magic series. In 2018, she plans to explore another beloved genre―vintage mysteries. She loves discovering new books and authors, so please get in touch if you have any good book recommendations to share!
Mailing list: http://www.gillianstkevern.com/newsletter-sign-up.html
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