Monday, December 5, 2011

Christmas Kisses

Happy Holidays! Today Men Under the Mistletoe releases from Carina Press. The anthology features romantic holiday stories to warm your heart and tingle your toes by Ava March, KA Mitchell, Harper Fox and yours truly.

We’re promoting the anthology with a mini blog tour starting right here and right now. Along the way there will be snippets to read and the occasional prezzie to giveaway -- check the bottom of this post for the week’s scheduled stops.

Anyway, today’s topic is Christmas Kisses. There’s something inherently romantic about Christmas, I think, though I’m not exactly sure why that is. It’s not romantic in the way Valentine’s Day is. The romance of Christmas is tied in with a sense of nostalgia -- that longing for the way things used to be -- for home and family and all good, familiar things. It’s the time of year when we finally stop to count our blessings, and it’s also the time of year when we almost can’t help but evaluate our lives against our childhood dreams.

It can also be a lonely time of year if you’re far away from family and friends, and maybe that’s part of where that wanting someone special and all our own comes from. Someone to open presents with on Christmas morning and kiss under the mistletoe Christmas night.

Anyway, that’s the day’s topic. Christmas Kisses. You’ll find some tantalizing oscillatory excerpts from the anthology below.

Oh! And today I’m giving away one of the rare print editions of the anthology. To be eligible for the random drawing you must A - Follow the blog (look to the right hand sidebar and follow the directions) and B - leave a comment.

In the beginning of My True Love Gave to Me, I tried to capture the intensity of first love. The rush of emotion, the innocence of youth, the all-encompassing need to be together. In Alexander and Thomas’s case, it’s 1817 and the holiday season, which means a continual press of social and family obligations. Finding time alone with no one else being the wiser is almost impossible. In this excerpt, Alexander arranges some time completely alone with Thomas. It’s first time since they’ve arrived in London from Oxford when they have more than a brief stolen moment together.

A cool draft of air swept into the entrance hall as the butler opened the front door. “Mr. Norton, your carriage.”

It was all he could do not to dart out the door. His father’s black town carriage stood at the ready at the foot of the stone steps. Another one of their hostess’s footmen had the door already open. Rather than immediately enter, he paused to give the direction to the driver then followed Thomas inside, settling on the black leather bench opposite him.

The door snapped shut.

“Why are we going to Drury Lane Theatre?” Thomas asked.

“We aren’t.” He closed the shade on the window in the narrow door, cloaking the interior in almost full darkness. “I needed to give the driver a direction and it will do as good as any.”

The carriage lurched forward.


Alexander pounced on Thomas, cutting off his words.

Knees straddling muscular thighs and with his hands cupping that strong jaw, he pressed his lips to Thomas’s. Greedy and impatient, he flicked his tongue against the seam of Thomas’s lips.

With a groan, Thomas opened his mouth. A silken tongue brushed his own.

Hot and intense, sensation washed over him, filling his chest, his heart, his soul. A moan shook his throat.

By God, it was only like this with Thomas. No other had ever come close to rousing these feelings within him. Making his pulse pound through his veins and need claw desperately at his throat. This was where he belonged. With Thomas. In the man’s arms.

Harper’s tag for this scene from Winter Knights read “A less-than-obviously-romantic Christmas Kiss from Harper – this one takes place in a cave, and isn’t even between the book’s two main protags.” But I think you’ll agree that this scene where rescue-worker Arthur desperately tries to calm Gavin down after a rockfall, and one thing leads to another, is anything but unromantic.

He lifted me carefully into his arms. My mouth found his and he pushed me back for a second, then groaned and sought me for himself. I buried my hand in his hair’s rough silk. Shuddering, he kissed me, his fingers clenching on the collar of my shirt. He laid us
down on the debris-strewn floor. Dust and small stones were still falling—seeing this by lamplight, I choked in terror, but he hushed me. “No. Look at me. Just look at me.”

His clear grey eyes, his smile, were enough to stop the roof from caving in. They would hold up the sky. I imagined him as Orion, or Bootes, the shepherd-god who bore his namesake star Arcturus, stretched out across the starry night, and I seized him.

The first kiss in "The Christmas Proposition" is more about a kiss that they don't share, mirroring the words that neither of them were willing to risk saying during their first time together. It also gives the reader a chance to see how things went down (ahem) the first time Mel and Bryce met.

Mel is a waiter at Skipper's Diner and he's just helped a waitress handle a bunch of rowdy drunks. But as it turned out, one of the men wasn't drunk, and Mel knows him very well.

The bags thudded and clanged as I tossed them up into the dumpster. The air froze the inside of my nose, almost enough to make the smell bearable. I might have been expecting it, but my heart still leapt into my throat when a hard warm body pressed into me, shoving us through the back door, pressing me up against a stack of empty crates from Doyle’s Dairy.

The smell of him, sweat and dirt and man, chased away the leftover stench that leaked from even frozen garbage.

The back door banged shut behind us.

“Still fucking cold,” he said.

“It’s winter.” Not my best comeback. I’ll warm you up had a lot more charm. But my heart still pounded and the smell of him, the feel of him against me had way too much of that circulation focused on my dick. My brain was suffering oxygen deprivation. At least, that was my story, and I was sticking to it. It had nothing to do with whose body had me pinned against the crates.

The body that was sliding down, the man who, without a word or a kiss hello, was dropping to his knees for me. Why kiss me hello? He hadn’t bothered to say good-bye.

I knocked the cap off his head. Even in the dark, his hair gave off those beautiful auburn highlights I remembered from two summers ago.

Bryce reached behind me and untied my apron, letting it drop to the floor before working back around to my fly. His breath flowed hot and damp over my cock.
The instant before those full lips closed around me, I whispered, “Just like the first time, huh?”

Though Mitch and Web were best friends and boyhood sweethearts, their relationship ended bitterly. They haven’t seen each other for nearly a decade and their lives have gone in very different directions. Mitch is on the run from a busted romance but somehow he finds himself falling for Web all over again.

The first kiss was tentative. The second kiss not so much.

They had kissed as boys, but back then the simple pleasure of mouths pressed together and shared breath had been fraught with their own insecurities about who and what they were. Kissing had somehow seemed more gay than the other things they did, and neither of them had been totally comfortable with it.

So it was a surprise to realize how familiar the taste of Web’s mouth was. Twelve years ought to make a difference, seeing that it was unlikely Web still lived on chili dogs, Dr Pepper and Goodart’s Peanut Patties. But Web still tasted sweet as Mitch parted his lips with a gentle tongue. He closed his eyes, savoring Web’s instant, generous response. Yes, they’d both learned a few things over the years. Web’s tongue touched his own. It really didn’t get a lot more personal than tongues twining in the dark, moist heat of two men’s mouths.
Mitch broke the kiss with reluctance and one final, teasing lick. The hardness under his caressing hand began to throb more urgently, and he was conscious only of wanting to make this good for Web. The best ever. Maybe he had been a moody, difficult kid, but he had loved Web with all his heart, and if he hadn’t taken the time to show it then…


Don’t forget to join the blog and comment below for a chance to win a print copy of Men Under the Mistletoe.

The schedule for the rest of the week looks like this:

ALSO ON DECEMBER 7TH we’ll be blogging at Carina about what the boys will be doing next year -- and we’ll be exchanging cookie recipes. Seriously.

And a final Happy Holidays from all of us on December 9th right back here where you started!


  1. I was all excited about Christmas until we got our tree Friday and no one has wanted to help me decorate it so now I'm all out of the mood again. Maybe reading some holiday stories will help? I can but try, I suppose!

  2. Its snowy here this morning and its amazing how much more Christmassy I feel now. For the first time it feels like winter.
    And Christmas kisses, well I'm sure there will be a few and lots of hugging. The excerpts make me want to read the book even more, as soon as Carina will play with me....

  3. This is the fourth time I've tried to leave a comment. I apparently don't know how. ;-) So now, I'm all woe. I still want to read this book, whether I get to say so here or not!!

  4. It's a wet morning here. I do wish we could get a bit of snow as that might help put me in a Christmas mood. We've got the outside lights and Santa up. The tree will go up the week before Christmas. I've looked forward to reading this collection of stories for a while now and I will savour ever minute of it.

  5. Oh dear, well we seem to have lots of bad weather and a surfeit of Christmas cheer this morning. So here's my wish that the rest of the day runs smoothly and you end this week tangled in tinsel and in a holly jolly mood. :-D

  6. It's wet here as well, and dark out. Still holding out for a white Christmas. Me and my men are planning a game marathon (they've set their hearts on Riks, which can take upto days ...) for Christmas. I'm looking forward to hours of play and no pc.
    Oh ... and Doctor Who, of course :)

    As for kissing, it's a language on its own ;)

  7. It's the day of typos ... that should read RISK not riks *sigh*

  8. That sounds lovely Blaine, I am the RISK queen in our house! Not sure about no pc, but food, games and Dr Who will all be happening here!

  9. Our snow has all melted and it's damp and grey but my mood is still cheery :-) More snow expected tonight.
    Love the excerpts and am really looking forward to all of the stories!

  10. The Christmas mood has evaded me for the last couple of years.. And this year it doesn't look any brighter. I blame the lack of snow and the enormous pile of work that needs to be done (such a mood-killer!). And still - stories like these help me to get into the spirit of the holidays. :) Can't wait to get my hand on this collection!

  11. These last few evenings I've started driving around my favorite neighbourhoods with the best Christmas lights. That always puts me in the Christmas spirit. I love Christmas kisses from kiddies...they are the most sweet.

  12. Josh, you've chosen some hot excerpts. I can't wait to read these stories. Definitely filling me with holiday spirit. :-)

    JaimeW (I can't figure out how to leave just my name)

  13. Yay, the Miniblog Tour is off and rolling! It's great to see the first post and all our excerpts looking so kissy and fine. I have a suspicion my comment is about to pop up as "anonymous", though I have done my best to sign in, so just in case - hello, everyone, it's me, Harper, and I really hope you enjoy the upcoming week and all the posts and prizes. xxx

  14. I'm very much enjoying this anthology. I've read your story and Harper's so far, and loved them!

  15. Christmas has always been my favorite time of the year. Unfortunately I've never been able to spend it with the person I most want to spend it with due to obligations he has. However, we celebrate our Christmas at New Years - a nice dinner, presents under the tree, and the kiss. Oh the kiss! You're so right about that Christmas kiss.

  16. Well, my copy was waiting on my Kindle this morning when I climbed out of bed. And what else was waiting for me this morning? It's snowing in the Lone Star State! What a way to get into the Christmas spirit! I wish I could give you all a warm hug and a Christmas kiss! Very chaste, of course. xoxoxo

  17. We're having cold rain with snow forecast to fall after dark. Started out early to finish errands. Can't wait! My mission: to get home to read this book, curled in a chair by the fireplace. There is magic surrounding a first kiss. So sweet. Never forgotten. :-)

  18. No white Christmases here in Florida, but the weather is beautiful, just right for decorating the palm trees...:)

  19. A White Christmas is something else I miss. I fled the Great White North many years ago. My preference would be snow on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning. Then pure California sunshine!

  20. I don't miss snow in any way shape nor form. I put a nice snowy scene on my computer as wallpaper and that's as close as I need to get. ;-)

  21. Hi Josh!

    As it so happens, I just finished reading 'Men Under the Mistletoe' and think it's one of the best anthologies I've ever seen put together. I owe a special thanks to you, Harper, Ava and KA, not just for presenting me with wonderful literary gifts, but to also give me something special to focus on while I was numb from grief over the sudden loss of my little ferret Pip. I 'took you all to bed with me' and was drawn into the wonderful words bestowed upon me by all your talents. BTW, I'm a very emotional person as it is as Harper will attest to and who I wish to thank most of all for letting me know about the anthology. I know it sounds over the top, but I'm quite sincere. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

  22. I love some snow as long as we get it in moderation. None of this 20-30cm storms that cause havoc on the roads and a nasty to clean up. 5cm at a time is just right for me. Easier to shovel and drive in.

  23. @Jan: with all these extremely competitive men, I just play along and hope I'm not annihilated :)

    They play to win, win, win, while I play for fun :)

  24. I love Christmas! We put up a tree in the new flat, but all our Christmas decorations are still in transit, so now we have a bare Xmas tree, but already feel very festive! No likely t get snow this Christmas in London, but I could be wrong.

    Maybe I should put up some mistletoes as well, then I'd just need some hot men to come over... :-)

  25. @Blaine, maybe we should pit your guys against mine! Britannia, RISK, Settlers they are bloodsports round here! The only one I play is RISK, they get upset if I beat them at anything else :-D

  26. My first kiss on Christmas Eve still lingers. I was 16. He was 17. Loved him since the fifth grade. Looking back, the kiss was pretty fumbling on both our parts, but it remains the sweetest. ;-)

  27. Monday is off to a good start with my MUTM release, would love to have a paperback version tho, don't know why Carina can't offer the option...
    had to comment on the book excerpt when Mitch rolls the rental car and walks away, you have to wonder how is that possible?...a friend rolled his truck on the highway (michigan winter ice, no reindeers) and he & friends walked away with just bruises...Very lucky, and so it can happen!
    - s134

  28. My first memorable kiss was from my fifth grade boy friend the day school let out for the Christmas front of my dad! I was embarrassed! My dad laughed his butt off all the way home. Couldn't wait to tell my mom. They teased me unmercifully. I didn't kiss another boy for years. Then I stopped kissing boys

  29. yes - Christmas is a good time to measure our lives against the dreams of our youth - and sometimes the best kiss is one of goodbye, to the dreams of the past so that new ones can take their place.

  30. As I patiently wait for my tablet to recharge, (it was down to 8%) I am trying to remember any holiday kisses with anyone besides my husband.
    I remember kisses from my parents, grandparents, aunts & uncles, cousins and some dear friends. And the hugs to go with them.
    But the only one that was the least bit romantic came from the man I married! He asked me to marry him during the holiday season and has been delivering love and romance into my life ever since.

  31. All right, I normally don't do this because I don't want to take Prizes of Awesome away from readers, but for a print edition? Sorry, dudes, I'm blog-following & commenting. LOL.

    I need to hie my sorry self off the laptop so I can read this, waHOO!

    Christmas, I am ALL OVER this year, btw. I baked like mad last weekend. All it takes a sniff of cranberry pumpkin bread and I must be festive. It's a law.

  32. We are in for a scorching hot Xmas this year; or so the weathermen say. I hate having a hot Xmas, it just doesnt seem right. And no, we won't be having prawns on the barbie. :-D
    Nick proposed at Xmas so that SHOULD be the sweetest kiss memory...but it was a Xmas puppy, I got when I was 5, and all the kissing and cuddling that ensued, that stays in my memory. Ouch for Nick!

  33. It's cold her in southwestern Connecticut, but not unbearably so. I was able to go out and do some errands without having to wear my heavy coat. It won't last long, though. Pretty soon it's gonna go down to freezing and we'll be hitting the 20s for daily lows. I'm trying to enjoy the pleasant weather while I still can!

    ...Christmas kisses. Alas, I can't remember any. As a teenager I remember spending it with family the whole time and they were fiercely protective of me so no guy had the guts to get too close. As for now? Single and will probably spend Christmas that way. ;)

    beatrice.g.tan [at] gmail [dot] com

  34. Well - Christmas is at my house but this year I'll be getting new puppy kisses! Dutch - our newest family member - comes home with us today!

    But, I loved the excerpts. My first kiss ever was a Christmas under the mistletoe because that is how he got the nerve to do it! ; )

  35. @Jan: sounds fab!

    Don't know Britannia, but we do play settlers of Catan and Carcassonne (and a small variety of other games, not to forget magic the gathering)
    Do it less and less, though, hence the marathon :)

  36. Great excerpts - I'm looking forward to reading the whole stories ^;^. BTW, do you have any idea when (if?) the print edition will actually be for sale?

  37. Sitting on the beach on Christmas eve reading book in the shade and having the other half sneak up from behind me and give me a wonderful kiss. Till I pushed him away, he was still wet from swimming an he was ruining my book. Make me laugh at the time and smile for awhile after.

  38. Love the excerpts and looking forward to reading the anthology. Summer's a great time to be reading about Christmas and the snow on the other side of the world, especially as this one is supposed to be a hot one.

  39. I just saw that my question has already been answered over at Harper's LJ.

  40. You know your wedding anniversary starts with a blast if you can start your day with new book from Josh Lanyon. Thank you, Josh, it made my day that much more special!!!

  41. Just found out I've been foiled again. Big plans to buy a print copy of 'Men under the Mistletoe' anthology only to realize there are no plans for a general release. Who ever wins this copy is going to be one very luck person and I wish them well, but will envy them also. Good luck every one!

  42. I loved Carina's Christmas anthology last year and am looking forward to it again this year :)

    I've never gotten Christmas kisses, aside from my parents (and those are a completely different type!), so these boys will have to make up for it...

  43. I found your blog! By a roundabout route... I am a member of the Yahoo group but I forget to check Yahoo. And LJ - ditto apart from close friends. Can't promise regular attendance here but at least I know where to find updates!! I arrived via Harper's LJ post for today... I'm really looking forward to reading the anthology - last years' was great and I'm sure this year's will be too.

  44. I'm trying to figure out why I wasn't *already* following this blog!

    Love kisses - Christmas or otherwise. Like in your (Josh's) excerpt, there's just something so much more intimate about kissing... (happy sigh)

  45. Still love Christmas - and kisses - my most memorable was when I was 19 and newly, blissfully in love. We didn't stay together but I still have very fond memories of that Christmas and that man.

  46. Last year's Christmas anthology from Carina Press was awesome and this year's looks just as great. I LOVED each of the snippets and it definitely warmed me up on this freezing cold Nebraska day.

    I'm a blog follower and ssssssoooooo hope I win this.

    joderjo402 AT gmail DOT com

  47. I guess I should maybe get on my Christmas baking; that should help the mood (at least until I realize I've eaten WAY too much). This year a lot of people are getting Mix-in-a-Jar type gifts, I think (and local friends a lot of cookies!) I miss having tinsel on my tree, but the cats eat it and I just can't deal with sparkly litter box this year...(Also killing my Christmas spirit is knowing that my DH is going to deploy to Afghanistan in April or May...)

  48. This years's anthology looks good. I would love to participate in the contest and have a chance to win.
    I'm following the blog.
    Midia :)

  49. I love Christmas kisses. I am looking forward to this book. Thanks so much
    debby236 at gmail dot com

  50. Hope it's not too late, work blocks all the good sites LOL I would love Christmas Kisses, but no chance of that, not since 2001. Oh well, maybe I'll win the book and get some Christmas cookies that way :-).

    itmfiddler at gmail dot com

  51. I can't believe I almost forgot this was starting today. I was washing dishes when I remembered (I've still got to finish them).

    I love Christmas, the snow, the smell of gingerbread and pine needles, and of course, Christmas kisses.

  52. The anthology was wonderful last year, and I loved reading Lone Star last night. You chose an excerpt with one of my favorite lines, "The second kiss, not so much." Looking forward to Winter Knights tonight.

  53. The anthology was wonderful last year looking forward to this years

    Sarah S

  54. I just finished listening to His For The Holidays and I LOVED IT! :)

  55. I'm glad, Ferishia! And there's going to be an audio book of Men Under the Mistletoe this year as well.

  56. And our randomly selected winner is BILL -- who just happened to have a rather lovely comment as well. So the randomizer has pretty good taste.

    Bill, contact me backchannel with your snail mail address and when I get my author's copies I'll be sending one along to you.

    Thanks to everyone who entered. I loved reading these comments when I got home last night. In fact, you all put me in a much greater holiday spirit.

  57. Yes, my must have list has just increased. OK, it's really buy on next payday list....

    Tracey D
    booklover0226 at gmail dot com

  58. Hmmm...I never win competitions, so I'm not sure why I'm doing this, but anyway...

    Does that count as a comment? Does the comment have to have some degree of substance?

    I can't actually think of anything to type now. ;-)

  59. Hey Kit, I think it's fun you joined in!

  60. As I'm checking back in a few days later, I just want to thank you all again for these lovely messages.

    I hope that those of you who weren't feeling much in the holiday spirit are feeling cheerier now!

    And Lena, I was sorry to hear about the loss of your little buddy. :-(

    Tracy, we'll all be thinking good thoughts for your DH. Here's hoping he's back safe and sound with you by next Christmas!

  61. Bill, just a reminder that you were our winner -- please drop me a line with your snail mail address and I'll get your book out to you!