I’m happy to have Gillian St. Kevern back to talk about bad situations during the Holidays & her new story Ibiza on Ice. Enjoy!
Christmas from Bad to Worse.
I first met Lila on the M/M Romance Group in 2014. From memory, we hung out in the author support thread for the Don’t Read in the Closet event. In 2015, we found ourselves not only participating again, but both of us picked up two stories for the event, and both of us wrote a merman themed story. The coincidences don’t end there. Lila and I are both appearing in NineStar Press’s first anthology, something I’m really excited about. And to make things even better, both of our seasonal offerings start from a bad situation.
I can’t imagine anyone who enjoys breaking down–particularly over the holidays. In fact, when I backed my car (which I had only owned for a week) into a boat on Thursday last week, Christmas cheer was the last thing on my mind. As I dialed roadside assistance, the thought crossed my mind that, ‘hey, maybe this could make a story.’ Fortunately, with Tow Trucks & New Year’s Kisses, Lila has taken care of that for me!
The bad situation in Ibiza on Ice is a nasty break up. Aston’s plan to teach his ex a lesson backfires when Dan not only lands a celebrity boyfriend, but Aston becomes known as the sweater-ex–the guy dumped in favour of an ugly sweater. Aston’s not going to take that lying down, however. He plans to prove that he is the real winner in the break up by having the glitzy Ibiza vacation he’s always dreamed of–complete with social media campaign to regain his dignity and show Dan what he is missing out on. Unfortunately, things don’t go to plan and he ends up in Finland, trying desperately to maintain the fiction of his dream-vacation while surrounded by cross-country skiing enthusiasts, and a tall, gangly Finn who challenges all of Aston’s notions about attraction.
Has anyone had a Christmas that did go to plan? Even the most laidback family dinners are a race against time to get all the decorations up, the shopping done, the decorations back up once the cat has toppled the Christmas tree, house tidied before the guests arrive, catch up with friends before they leave for their vacations and stopping the small child or dog from eating the tinsel. December in New Zealand is also the end of the school year, which adds another layer of craziness, though with work parties, end of term exams and other delights, it’s crazy no matter where you are in the world. I think that might be why Ibiza on Ice was so much fun to write.
As much as every year we vow to do Christmas differently, I’ve never once had a Christmas that wasn’t chaotic on some level. Finding the time to share special moments amongst the mayhem is just part of the holidays for me–and I suspect most readers! One of my recent Christmas traditions is stealing a quiet moment with a holiday read, to remind myself that there is a reason I subject myself to this chaos every year. I’m looking forward to the NineStar anthology to provide me with this year’s Christmas calm–though I may need to order a paperback version to keep in my car’s glove box to fortify myself against further mechanical mishaps.
Category: Romance | Genre: Contemporary | Sex Content: Explicit | Pairing: MM | Orientation: Gay | Identity: Cis | Length: Novella | Cover Artist: Natasha Snow
Tired of being ridiculed as the man dumped in favour of an ugly Christmas sweater, Aston is determined to get revenge–by having his dream vacation at Ibiza’s hottest clubs! He’s even planned a social media campaign to make sure his ex, Dan, knows exactly what he’s missing.
When a snowstorm strikes, and Aston’s media campaign takes off before he does, he finds himself propositioned by his unwelcome roommate Mike: trade vacations, or Mike will out Aston as a fake. Desperate to save his reputation, Aston finds himself in Finland–and falling hard for a man with a sweater almost as terrible as Dan’s. Worse, Laaksonen cares as little about impressing people as Aston cares about being nice. Aston knows he has too much self-respect to fall for a man so hazardous to his reputation. But the long Polar Night poses the ultimate test to his Ibiza club dreams…
“What is Dan doing?” Aston frowned at his phone screen. “He saw the message. I know he saw the message. So where’s the reply?”
“He’s ignoring you.” Mike, Aston’s companion in the cupboard-like hotel room, didn’t even look up from his phone. There was not much to look at. The curtains were a faded geometric design that almost succeeded in making the stains look like part of the pattern, and there were cracks in the plaster ceiling. The carpet had given up on life altogether. Fortunately, their two twin beds took up most of the room, so they didn’t have to see much of the carpet at all.
If only the same could be said for Mike. Aston gave him a withering glare. The man had long, shaggy hair and wore a woollen jersey that—while thankfully bereft of hideous seasonal decorations—showed signs of being mended by hand. The overall impression was a university student who had never got around to graduating. Or even shaving. Mike was not Aston’s first choice to share a hotel room with, or even his second, third, or fourth. Unfortunately, the worst snowstorm in British history, cancelled flights, and a shortage of hotel rooms at Heathrow had led to Aston lowering his standards considerably. The only upside was that British Airways was footing the bill for the shared accommodation. “He’s not ignoring me.”
“Right.” Mike snickered. “Who could ignore knees like those?”
Of all the people Aston would have preferred to walk into the hotel room while he lay on his back on the carpet with his knees in the air, camera in hand, and laptop precariously balanced on the edge of his bed, Mike was the absolute last. He hadn’t offered to hold the laptop steady while Aston faked his beach photo, just leaned against the wall to watch, making disparaging comments. And when Aston had said ‘Do you mind?’ in his most cutting tone, Mike had simply grinned and said that he didn’t. “Shut up.”
“Why should I? This is as much my hotel room as it is yours, and to be perfectly honest, watching you fake beach photos was not how I wanted to spend my vacation.”
Aston sat up. “You’re not even going on a real vacation, just some crummy cut-price ski thing.”
“Hey, it was the best I could afford, and I’ve lost an entire day already. The group will have started without me. You, on the other hand, don’t need to play catch up in the clubs.”
Aston glanced uneasily at his computer. “At least Ibiza is a real vacation destination.”
“In summer, sure. It’s winter in Spain, you know.”
“Still warmer than here,” Aston shot back. “God, I want to be out of this country.”
“You’ve said. Repeatedly. If I didn’t know better, I’d think I was rooming with a desperate fugitive. What’s the deal?”
Aston blinked. Mike was unexpectedly sharp underneath that scruffy exterior. “I’ve been working towards this vacation for years, honing my beach body, spending every night I could out clubbing. Ibiza has some of the best clubs in the world! Space has this amazing—”
“No, I mean…there’s more to this than liking a good time. When the flight attendant told you there was no way you’d be flying to Ibiza today, you practically broke down. You asked about other flights, if there was any way you could detour.”
“I want to get to Ibiza as quickly as possible.”
“You offered to go to Ibiza via Shanghai.” Mike put his phone down, sitting up to look more closely at Aston. “That’s a detour of eight to ten hours.”
“I want to be on my way. I can’t stand all this waiting around.” Aston shrugged.
“So you’d rather be crammed into a tiny airline seat instead? Just relax. British Airways is footing the bill, and they offered us an upgrade on future flights.”
Aston smiled slightly. “Business class is enough to make anyone jealous.”
“There! What did I tell you?” Mike crossed his arms. “You’re obsessed with this ex of yours.”
“I am not.”
Aston’s phone beeped with his message alert. He snatched it up, only to see that it was a google notification. He sighed, dropping it onto the bed, and met Mike’s eyes. “That could have been an important message from British Airlines.”
“Sure. Just accept the fact that you were dumped—”
“I wasn’t dumped! If anyone was dumped, it was him!” Aston sucked in a short breath. “I gave him an ultimatum. Shape up or move out.”
“What? At Christmas? Harsh.”
“Christmas is just like any other time of the year, except that everyone loses their collective minds about it.” Aston stood from his bed. “Nothing special about it—just exceptionally good marketing.”
“Spoken like a true advertiser. But you’re not working now. Doesn’t the thought of Christmas coming give you a sort of anticipation, a sense of wonder, of excitement?”
“All Christmas has ever given me was a feeling of dread. It’s a fake holiday for fake people.”
“All right, all right, sorry I brought up your deeply rooted Santa trauma.” Mike mirrored Aston’s actions, standing up. “The airline gave us complimentary meal vouchers. Want to see if we can trade them in at the bar for drinks?”
Aston shook his head. “Pass.”
“What are you going to do, sit and stare at your phone? You can do that in the bar with a drink in hand. Come on.”
“Not feeling it.”
“And you call yourself a clubber?” Mike paused in the doorway, sticking his wallet into the back pocket of his paint-splattered jeans. “I tell you, there is something about you that just doesn’t add up… Maybe I should scan the papers while I’m in the bar. If I’m rooming with an escaped convict, I want to know about it.”
Not good. Not good at all. Aston gulped. “You are not— For Christ’s sake. Fine, I’ll come to the bar.” He picked up his phone, patting his pocket to check he had his wallet. “But don’t expect me to like it.”
“No,” Mike muttered. “That would be entirely too much.”
MEET THE AUTHOR
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 reindeers―and even sweaters. She will almost certainly get sunburnt at some stage.
Gillian reads and writes a variety of genres. Paranormal, with an emphasis on vampires, is one of her major loves, with the second book in her vampire series Thorns and Fangs due for release December 2016. She also explores Welsh Mythology in the Deep Magic series. In 2017, 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!