This story started as a prequel for The Tendire Gate. I’m serious, that’s what I was trying to write. But that story, a worthy one that needs to get written at some point, went through three or four versions before I finally had to set it aside, and start writing something else. It was November, and I was stressed and frustrated with the world, and yeah, part of that frustration was holiday candy. I ended up taking a bit of that frustration and bits and pieces of several people I know, and the heart of a building I know very well, and building this story instead, about a custodian over the holidays.
It’s a Christmas Story
Even if it doesn't seem like it at first, the story is a Christmas story. It just didn’t work to start it at Christmas, for a bunch of reasons, not the least of which is that our protagonist, Carl Gibson, hates Christmas!
Why does he hate Christmas so much? Well, that’s his story to tell. It still makes me cry, and that’s a good thing. It should! This is a tear-jerking story that still manages to be a feel good story, and honestly? I’m rather proud of it, because that’s not an easy mix to manage.
The story starts just before Halloween, with Carl raving about how the stores have already swapped out the Halloween candy for Christmas candy. I think a lot of us who love Halloween can relate to that. Why Halloween is so special to Carl is something we only hint at in the story. But what we do see is a crucial connection, one that’s simmered for a long time that finally gets made. I love this because I think it’s something we all see in our lives, but not so much in romance where so very often it’s the tall, dark, and handsome stranger.
What we’re left with in the end is a sweet and heartbreaking story. A holiday story. A romantic story. One I hope will resonate.
A Christmas Vision | COMING SOON
by Ashavan Doyon—THERE’S NO GLORY in custodial work. That never bothered campus janitor Carl Gibson any. He worked hard—had to. His love life was a tragedy best not reopened and his only hope for the happiness he broadcast to the world was in two things: Halloween and the shrill, ever-demanding bark of his darling Lilah. But Halloween decorations were being displaced by Christmas already, and his precious pug? He could only hope she’d hold on a bit longer.
Austin Edwards had failed his little boy. The most junior dining manager at the college, when everyone called out on Halloween, he got called in. The house lights were all dark. except one. A sparkling hope of legend at the college. For his boy’s sake, he hoped Carl was as crazy about Halloween as the stories said. When Carl filled his son’s empty bag with candy, Austin couldn’t help but wonder why such a wonderful man was so alone. He had to find out.
With Christmas fast approaching, Carl and Austin tip-toe into dating. But they both have ghosts and memories to contend with. Can Austin be Carl’s Christmas vision? Or will Carl retreat, as he always has?
PRIDE month always feels a bit off for me. Growing up in a college community, we had PRIDE early in May every year—a concession to the desire to include the large local student population in the annual parade. So for me June always feels a little late.
This PRIDE we're celebrating the release of Love Aggression, by Cindy Sutherland. Despite some delays and pitfalls along the way, I felt an amazing bit of personal pride when I held the proof in my hand. I know Cindy will too in a few weeks when her author copies get to her.
As part of PRIDE, we've put all novels (that's everything that's not already 99 cents) on sale for $3.99. I hope that some of you will take a chance on our stories. On the College Rose Romances. On Love Aggression. Even on our 99 cent bargains. Remember: Celebrate love. Celebrate PRIDE. Happy reading.
But there's so much more...
Cindy wrote a number of novellas and a full length novel, all published by Dreamspinner Press. While we celebrate Cindy's success with Love Aggression, I think it's important to revisit those other books too. As luck would have it, today is the final day of Dreamspinner's Celebrate Community sale, so you can pick any of these up from Dreamspinner for 30% off if you buy them today (after you've picked up Love Aggression, of course). All are romances of various flavors.
Wrapped Up in Chains (BDSM)
Cindy's full length novel is an easy entry for readers interested in BDSM. Centering on dom Devon West, the story covers his efforts to bring Chase into the community of safety and consent that the young sub has never known. Terrifying and poignant, I found myself rooting for Chase all the way through.
Hunt and Pray (Suspense/Thriller)
I love this one for the cover, which isn't typical of the genre. But the story hooks you and keeps you terrified, wondering all the while if Drew can escape his predicament, at the mercy of a madman and the son Chance that is his only hope to survive on the run.
Luck of the Irish (Sweet and Sexy)
Cian owns me in this one. I confess, I got to read it as Cindy was writing it, and I will say she stopped in some places that made me just want to scream. But I loved these two men together. I wanted to borrow them, either one—both! Setting and character made this one a win for me.
Cindy also dipped her hand in cowboy stories with Cowboy Way and has a strong contemporary (translated into four languages) with All the Things I Didn't See. Find all her Dreamspinner Press releases at their store.
Ty has lived without love. Now he’s ready to protect the purest love of all—his son.
I'm so happy to be here to talk to you about Love Aggression today, on release day!
Cindy Sutherland has given us a wonderful story, full of suspense and wonder and romance. It's a shifter story, a werewolf story, a story about family and the struggle to find romance when you're afraid and on the run. Ty's little son, Jesse, will steal your heart and run with it at times and you'll wonder if you're supposed to be paying more attention to him or to the romance. But that's part of what makes it great, because Ty can't have a romance without acknowledging Jesse, and the central truth that keeping Jesse safe is the most important thing to him right now—even over his own heart.
There's a lot that's gone into this story. It's hard for me, sometimes, as an editor, because I read the early drafts and I remember things that aren't part of the story for the reader anymore. But I've also read the final cover-to-cover three times since the final edit. As an editor, I'm terrified because you always miss things, and I know they're in there, waiting for me to find and chastise myself over.
But for me, getting the input from proofs, hearing about what readers wanted more of, hearing that they liked it, just affirmed for me that I'd made the right choice. I've been told in no uncertain terms that we need a sequel for Woof, and I have to tell you, I hope Cindy is up for that, because I'd love to see it.
Enjoy the story.