At nineteen, Nick is alone for the holidays and facing reality: this is how it will be from now on. Refusing to give up completely, Nick buys a Christmas tree, and then realizes he has no ornaments. A bare tree and an empty apartment aren’t a great start, but a visit from his friend Haruto is just the ticket to get him through this first, worst, Christmas. A box of candy canes and a hastily folded paper crane might not be the best ornaments, but it’s a place to start.
A year later, Nick has realized he’s not the only one with nowhere to go, and he hosts his first “Christmas for the Misfit Toys.” Haruto brings Nick an ornament for Nick’s tree, and a tradition—and a new family—is born.
As years go by, Nick, Haruto, and their friends face love, betrayal, life, and death. Every ornament on Nick’s tree is another year, another story, and another chance at the one thing Nick has wanted since the start: someone who’d share more than the holidays with him.
Content Warnings: Parental disowning of queer children; Cheating; Parental death (heart attack/stroke); Physical illness (appendicitis with eruption).
“Saving the Date” (A 1Night Stand novella)
After a vicious gay bashing, Morgan has spent the last three years working hard to survive and thrive. His latest plan? Using Madame Evangeline’s high-end dating service, 1NightStand, to take the anniversary of the worst night of his life and replace it with a good—and maybe even sexy—memory.
Zach, a police officer with the Hate & Bias Crime Unit, is still coming to terms with his divorce and struggling to move on with his life. Using a matchmaking service is so very not his style, but sometimes a guy has to trust his friends—even if they don’t know everything about him, and he’s not sure they ever will.
Face-to-face, however, it becomes clear that despite an attraction, there’s a problem. Morgan and Zach have already met—three years ago. But with some courage, a couple of pairs of skates, and a leap of faith? Morgan and Zach have a shot at saving more than one day. Together? They might just make a future.
Content Warnings: Biphobia (mentioned/discussed), Queer bashing (off-page, but mentioned and after-effects described, including a triggered reaction); Body image struggles; Parental disowning of queer adults and queer children; Discussion of past suicidal ideation.
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 brow-beat 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.
Available at Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, direct from Bold Strokes Books, Kobo, and you can check anywhere else quality queer e-books are sold via Books2Read. Edited by Jerry L. Wheeler and cover design by Inkspiral Design.
Content Warnings: Homophobic family, Discussion of Bashings (very removed, not on-page, but mention of resulting trauma).
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.
Content Warnings: Car Accident, Discussion of Alcoholic Foster Parents (very removed, not on-page, but mention of resulting trauma), Physical Therapy/Recovery.
“A Little Village Blend”
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.
Content Warnings: Alcoholism (Parent), including accidental injury, Animal Rescue, Fatphobia (referenced), Physical Violence (referenced, off-page), Racism (referenced), Runaways.
Felix doesn’t do impulsive anymore. But attending a friend’s wedding reminds Felix he’s the only one of his friends attending solo, and recent losses have him thinking he’s swung too far in the not-impulsive direction.
So, impulse decision number one? Cutting in on a dance with handsome farmer Kevin, the ex of one of the grooms, for a spin at the reception. Impulse decision number two? Planning his first holiday vacation off work. Christmas in Hawai’i will be a gift to himself.
When dancing doesn’t work out, Felix keeps high hopes for his vacation right up until the first flight cancellation. After bumping into a stranded Kevin, who lost his flight home, Felix gives impulse a third try: Why not drive to Toronto together? But after ice rain strands them halfway, it looks like Felix isn’t going to get to give himself his gift after all. Instead, this Christmas is a small cabin—and Kevin.
Content Warnings: Death of a Parent and Elder (off-page), Mention of Homophobia and Parental Disowning (in passing).
Outside a hospital in Ottawa, a heartbeat returns long enough for a good-bye. Downtown, a man steps into shadows of the past to help those who have died find their way free from their memories. In Niagara, an icewine vintage is flavored with the truth of what happened on a dark evening of betrayal. In British Columbia, the snow itself can speak to someone who knows how to listen.
The past echoes through these queer tales—sometimes soft enough to grant a second chance at love, and other times loud enough to damn a killer—never without leaving those who’ve heard it unchanged.
Of Echoes Born is the first short story collection from Lambda Literary Award finalist ’Nathan Burgoine.
Note: I’m listing Of Echoes Born as part of the Village series because some of the short stories and one novelette included in the collection take place in the Village, but you don’t have to have read any of the Village stories in any particular order.
Available now in e-book and print from Bold Strokes Books, and from your e-tailer and retailer of choice. Check Indiebound for a local brick and mortar near you, or try Bookshop.org or Books2Read for your options. Edited by Jerry L. Wheeler, and cover art by Inkspiral Design.
Content Warnings: Cheating, Child Abuse (off-page), Death, Dementia (main character POV), Gay Bashing (off-page), Homophobia, Infertility, Miscarriage, Murder, Parental disowning of queer child, Sexual Assault (off-page).