Wednesday, November 25, 2015

WIP Wednesday: In the hot tub with Mateus and Crawford

Happy Thanksgiving Eve to my fellow Americans! To everyone else, happy Wednesday! Since we still don't have a kitchen thanks to all the remodeling snafus, the Baker family has decamped up north to Chicagoland to celebrate with relatives. There's snow up here, guys. Yuck.

I was able to get some writing done in the car on the way up, which is good because today and tomorrow will be filled with family and food. I've left the guys at a pretty critical point, though, so I may have to excuse myself to write. Cliffhangers are hard on readers, but they're hard on writers, too!

Crawford and Mateus are in the penthouse honeymoon suite at the hotel, and Crawford is trying to convince himself it's a bad idea to join Mateus out on the rooftop hot tub. Or is it a very good idea? *g*

Photo credit: Hotel de Maya
Tall, Dark and Deported

But now he was about to do something very, very stupid, so maybe it hadn't been much of an escape after all. If he were smart, he'd go to bed. He'd tell Mateus, rightly so, that he had an early meeting and needed his rest. He'd ask for a rain check so he could tackle the mountain of paperwork that was waiting for him in messy piles on the dining table. He'd fake a water phobia.

Anything that kept him out of an enclosed space in one of the most romantic settings Crawford could imagine with the one man he couldn't make a move on.

But Crawford wasn't smart. He ran through excuses in his head as he took off his clothes and carefully hung his suit in the closet and rifled through his suitcase to find the swim trunks he knew he'd packed. Not for this occasion, of course. He'd envisioned a vigorous swim in the lap pool, not an agonizing soak in a private hot tub with the most attractive man he'd ever met.

He picked up his phone and texted Adam, not sure whether to hope he was awake to talk him out of this to hope that he didn't see the message in time to chastise Crawford for even thinking about it.

Rooftop hot tub with Mateus. Bad idea?

His phone dinged almost instantly.

The worst. Have fun.

Damn it.

I can't get involved with him, he texted back.

You already are. You may as well get something out of it.

Crawford took a breath and rubbed his hand over his face. As usual, Adam had cut to the quick of it and said exactly what Crawford needed to hear. It would be wrong to take advantage of Mateus. And even if Mateus said he was interested, how could Crawford be sure he really was and he wasn't just saying that because he was afraid Crawford would change his mind about helping him get a visa? No. He had to keep his distance.

Thanks, bro, he texted back. He tossed his phone on the bed and strode out into the main room to tell Mateus he couldn't join him tonight. The doors to the terrace were already open, so Crawford walked through. His breath caught in his throat when he saw Mateus.

He was silhouetted against the skyline, his arms folded together like he was cold. He'd apparently picked up a pair of swim trunks at the same place he'd gotten his clothes for tonight, because they were almost indecently tight, just like the trousers he'd had on.

Crawford's excuses died on his lips. Mateus looked so breathtakingly lonely that he couldn't bring himself to disappoint him. Especially when Mateus turned around and a huge smile bloomed across his face.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

WIP Wednesday: Mateus gets a taste of an American delicacy

He's as wonderfully strange and intimidatingly
 intelligent in person as he seems in his books!
I'm at a librarian conference this week, so I haven't had time to do much more than my minimum NaNo count each day. In fact, I've barely been getting that accomplished.

But I'm learning lots of library things, which I promise is more exciting than it sounds. Plus I got the chance to meet Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket), so I think Mateus and Crawford will forgive me if I've been a little distracted. *g*

A word on NaNo--I've been running a Come Write In program at my library this month, and it's been wonderful getting the chance to meet other local writers and see people hard at work on their craft. And I also had the chance to talk with Headline News about NaNoWriMo and the publishing world, which was pretty exciting.

All in all, it's been a few exciting weeks of NaNo! And just like usual, I was bitten hard by a new bunny just a few days into starting my NaNo project. It's a new collaboration with Lex Chase, and you'll have to wait until after November is over to find out more about it because the deadline for Tall, Dark and Deported will be here before we know it, so I can't nurture the bunny (*cough* the three book series bunny */cough*) at the moment.

Here's a snippet from Tall, Dark and Deported for your #WIPWednesday fix!

“What? Seriously? You've never had a hot pretzel?” Crawford's eyes widened incredulously. “Where are you from? Mars?”
Mateus snickered. “Portugal. We don't have—” he squinted at the bag. Grease spots were starting to soak through, and he had to fight not to grimace. “—Auntie Anne's.”
“Oh, this is just one type. I mean, don't get me wrong, it's the best type. I think they dip them in butter after they cook or something. But you can get hot pretzels everywhere. Sporting events, skating rinks, library food courts. You've really never had one?”
He reached into the white bag and pulled out a small doughy nugget that was covered in large pellets of salt. It didn't look like any pretzel Mateus had ever seen, though he'd never seen any that weren't small and hard, so who knew.
“Shouldn't it be folded?”
Crawford's brows drew together for a moment, and then his expression cleared. “Oh, these are pretzel bites. But yeah, they sell the big pretzels, too. These are just cut up so they're easier to eat. Less messy.”
The whole thing glistened with butter, so Mateus very much doubted it was actually less messy than its larger cousin. His gaze traveled up to Crawford's mouth, drawn to the full, rosy lips. There was a tiny bit of yogurt in the corner of his mouth, and the resulting mental image made Mateus shift slightly in his seat. Bree was right. He needed to settle down and stop fantasizing about handsome strangers in airports. Well, that last bit was his own addition, but it still stood.
“You should try it,” Crawford said. He held the pretzel out to Mateus.
Mateus shook his head. “They're your favorite. You keep it.”
Crawford held his gaze for a second and then shrugged. He popped the pretzel in his mouth, his eyes fluttering shut for a moment as he chewed. He had long lashes, Mateus noticed. And he made eating a pretzel look orgasmic. They had to be flirting. There was no way this wasn't flirting.
“Your loss,” Crawford said when he'd swallowed and opened his eyes again. “But they're about a hundred times better than they look, I promise. Are you sure you don't want to try one?”
Mateus's attention was fixed on Crawford's lower lip, which was glossy with butter from the pretzel. He swallowed hard. “A small one,” he said, his voice huskier than it had been only a moment ago.
Crawford grinned. He took another pretzel out of the bag, but instead of holding it out to Mateus, he let it hover in between them, his expression questioning. A beat later Mateus leaned forward and opened his mouth, praying he wasn't reading this wrong. Crawford's smile grew, and he gently placed the pretzel into Mateus's mouth.

 The taste of salt exploded across Mateus's tongue, followed by butter and the sweet, yeasty flavor of the dough. He'd been dubious, but Crawford had been right. The pretzel was delicious. Or maybe it was just that all of Mateus's senses felt heightened as he sat there eating out of a total stranger's hand.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

WIP Wednesday: Stopped at the border with Tall, Dark and Deported

It's been a busy time around here, wrapping up the short blog tour for King of the Kitchen, which was released Nov. 6. All of my guests posts revolved around food, both because that's a central theme in the book and because I'm currently four weeks into what was supposed to be a five-week kitchen remodel, so I'm really missing being in a kitchen and cooking something that doesn't have to go in the microwave or crock pot. And my suffering isn't over yet--thanks to delays and Lowe's ordering the wrong cabinets, it looks like it'll be mid-December before I have a kitchen. *sob*

I included a recipe with each blog post, so if you haven't checked those out and you're interested in the food in King of the Kitchen plus a few of my personal favorites, like the egg roll recipe that was a family secret for years, it's worth a look.

Duncan's refrigerator velcro frittata on Joyfully Jay
Beck's roasted brussel sprouts with balsamic glaze on Prism Book Alliance
Garlic and shallot pasta on Gay List Book Reviews
Egg rolls on The Novel Approach

I also found out last week that Playing House earned an Honorable Mention in  Gay Contemporary General Fiction this year's Rainbow Awards, which was so exciting! Frank is a character that's so close to my heart, and seeing the judges talk so favorably about him and the book made my day.

And last but not least, here's an excerpt from my current WIP, Tall, Dark and Deported. Crawford and Mateus have fulfilled their promise to Homeland Security and gotten married while they were in Canada, but the US Immigration needs a little more convincing than a marriage certificate and a steamy kiss in front of the border agent.

Tall, Dark and Deported

The guard cleared his throat again. His eyes looked a little glassy when they met Crawford's. “I, uh, passed along the fact that you and Mr. Fontes seem to be still in the honeymoon phase on to Officer Stewart. She told me to have you check in with her at the US Citizenship and Immigration Office in Whatcom County.”
He scrawled a name and number on the back of a Homeland Security business card. “You'll have to make an appointment, but she might be able to see you today. My understanding was she wanted to meet you and set up future appointments, not put you through an interview right away.”
Well, that was ominous. Crawford flipped the card over and read the name—Office Kathleen Stewart. The guard looked apologetic, though he certainly wasn't the one who had done anything embarrassing. “I'll call her now,” Crawford said. “Should I step outside?”
The guard straightened. “No need. I'll leave you two to set that up. Just stop by the desk on your way out to let them know you've set up your appointment so they can confirm it with Useless—” the man looked stricken. “—I mean USCIS. Shit.”
Crawford laughed, feeling at ease for the first time since they'd been pulled over at the border and told to get out of the car. “Interdepartmental nicknames, eh? I guess there's no love lost between immigration services and homeland security. Though with that , they really were asking for it.”
The man chuckled. “Right? Anyway, I apologize. I'm sure Officer Stewart will do a great job with your case.”

Crawford certainly hoped not.  

Friday, November 6, 2015

King of the Kitchen is out today!

I'm at work today, so sadly I couldn't do a release day party like I usually do. But I'm so, so excited that King of the Kitchen is out today! I had such a blast reading from it at GRL, and the response I've gotten so far has been wonderful.

If you haven't been following my blog tour, be sure to check out my posts on Joyfully Jay and Gay List Book Reviews earlier this week. I'll be hosting a Dreamspinner Press Facebook chat Saturday, Nov. 7, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. EST, and I'll be over on Prism Book Alliance (Nov. 9) and The Novel Approach   (Nov. 10) next week. I'm including a recipe at each stop on the blog tour, either something from the book or something that's a personal favorite of mine. Come check them out!

Early reviews for King of the Kitchen have been great, and I'm looking forward to hearing from more readers about how they liked Beck and Duncan!

From Divine Magazine: "King of the Kitchen by Bru Baker is the kind of book you can't put down but never want to end."
From The Novel Approach: "I would highly recommend this book if you enjoy a real romance and slow buildup kind of story. This was my first Bru Baker story, but it definitely will not be my last!


Rising kitchen talents Beck Douglas and Duncan Walters have been on the foodie paparazzi radar for years, since their status as heirs to two of the biggest celebrity chef empires around makes them culinary royalty. Beck is known for his charm and traditional food as cohost of his uncle's popular TV cooking show, while Duncan earned himself a reputation as a culinary bad boy, both for his refusal to work in his father's restaurants and his avant garde approach to cooking.

They're also heirs to a food rivalry that could put the Hatfields and McCoys to shame, and when they're photographed in the middle of a heated argument, the press goes wild with speculation. Damage control ensues, with a fake friendship engineered by PR cronies that leaves both of them secretly pining for more.

Beck chafes under his uncle's micromanagement, and Duncan's relationship with his homophobic father becomes even more tenuous when Beck and Duncan start getting closer. It's hard to hide their chemistry on national television when Duncan joins Beck's cooking show, but they won't be able to take their relationship—or their careers—to the next level without breaking a few eggs.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

WIP Wednesday: Dating advice from Crawford's favorite (and only) nephew

NaNoWriMo is in full swing, and I'm off to a great start on Tall, Dark and Deported for Dreamspun Desires. It's a fluffy, funny lark full of characters I want to wrap in blankets and feed soup to, and Crawford's fifteen-year-old nephew Brandon is no exception.

In today's #WIPWednesday sneak peek, Brandon is helping Crawford pack for a business trip and offering up some dating truisms that Crawford wishes he'd known before his disastrous marriage.

And don't forget, King of the Kitchen releases on Friday! I'm so excited to get Duncan and Beck out there for everyone to see. *g* You can preorder it now from quite a few places, including: Dreamspinner PressAmazonBarnes and Noble and

I was over on Joyfully Jay talking about the book and sharing one of my favorite recipes from it yesterday, and I'll be over at Gay List Book Reviews tomorrow with more food fun. And don't miss the chance to ask me about King of the Kitchen or throw any cooking-related question my way during my Dreamspinner Press Facebook takeover from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. EST on Saturday, Nov. 7.

Photo credit

Tall, Dark and Deported

Brandon yanked the brown socks out of Crawford's hands and tossed a pair of black ones into his suitcase instead. “How long you gonna be gone this time?”
I'm hoping to wrap it up in a week. Two weeks, tops.” He poked Brandon in the stomach and grabbed the purloined socks when the teen let out of a bark of surprised laughter and dropped them.
Brandon scowled when Crawford dropped them into the suitcase. “Those don't match anything.”
They're one of about four pairs I have that don't have any holes in them, so they're going.”
I could come with you,” Brandon said. He perched on the edge of the bed, his expression guarded. “I've never been to Canada.”
And unless you've been moonlighting as an international man of mystery, you don't have the passport that's required to cross the border.”
Brandon's shoulders slumped, and Crawford kept half an eye on him as he tucked a pair of freshly shined shoes into a canvas bag so he could pack them. “Some reason you suddenly want to travel?”
I asked Becca Johnson to the homecoming dance and she said she'd have to get back to me, which basically means she's using me as her back-up date in case Chris Atkins doesn't ask her,” he said with a dejected sigh.
Crawford winced. This was exactly why he'd sworn off relationships. Everyone had an agenda, and it was rarely in anyone's best interest but their own. “Ouch. You don't have to wait for her to make up her mind, you know. You could ask someone else.”
Brandon threw him a look that could peel paint. “And then later when he doesn't ask her— because he won't, he's going with some upperclassman—then I'll be the jerk. She'll spend the dance in the bathroom crying with her friends and no one will want to date me because I'll come out of it looking like a dick.”
Crawford bit back a smile, knowing Brandon would see it as mocking and not amused. His nephew seemed to have things figured out pretty well for a fifteen year old. Hell, he had a better grasp of relationship dynamics than Crawford did at thirty. Maybe if he'd had half of Brandon's insight he wouldn't have fallen for a snake charmer like Davis.

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