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Please join me in welcoming author Nell Iris, the queen of romance-filled short stories, to Stories That Make You Smile! Nell is here today celebrating the release of They Met in the Library, a novelette kicking off her fun new series, Meet Cute Chronicles, a trio of sweet shorts that are guaranteed to leave you with a smile on your face. Nell has brought along a guest post sharing her inspiration for the story, an excerpt that ties to her guest post, and a generous giveaway. Pull up a chair and read all about it!
They Met in the Library by Nell Iris
Can two guys plus one meet-cute equal a happily ever after?
Series: Meet Cute Chronicles
Publisher: JMS Books, LLC
Cover Artist: Written Ink Designs
Release Date: January 16, 2021
Length: Novelette / 17,943 words / 67 pages
Pairing / Genre: M/M Contemporary
Adrian, book-lover extraordinaire, adores his job at the small community library. He gets to share his passion with other people and help them with all book-related questions and issues. When a big, hulking man walks into the library, looking terrified, Adrian’s skills are tested in a completely different way.
Manne’s relationship with books is uneasy, to say the least. He’s dyslexic and events in his past have made him fearful of books and turned libraries into his worst nightmare. But when the quirky, bowtie-wearing librarian steps in to help, the experience turns positive.
Their banter is easy and their chemistry instant. But can an accidental meeting turn into something more? Can someone who has trouble reading ever fit into the life of a man whose passion is the written word?
My Saturday starts with a group of elderly ladies invading the library, telling me they just started a reading circle. They’re happy and chatty and ask a million questions; what do I think of this book or that, have I ever been in a reading circle, do I have any suggestions for their first book, do I prefer fantasy over crime, should they read non-fiction books, and so on.
I haven’t seen this much action on a Saturday ever; they’re lovely and fill the library to the brim with their energy. When they leave, they thank me for my “excellent help” and promise to be back in a couple weeks, and I tell them I look forward to it. I mean it wholeheartedly. No one’s happier than I am when the library is bustling with energy and life.
The place is too quiet after they leave, and I wish they’d come back. There must be something we can do to bring more people into our little neighborhood library. Our funding keeps getting cut each year, and the programs that used to be available have been shut down. But there must be things I can do that’ll draw people in, that won’t cost more than my time and creativity.
The people living in the neighborhood are very protective of this little place, and every time the city council starts making noises about shutting us down, they rally and protest until the powers that be let us be for another year. It’s been going on since long before I started working here. Maybe we can turn it into an advantage. Maybe a few local people would be willing to volunteer for stuff like storytime for kids or hosting reading circles.
I take out a notebook and start brainstorming ideas, adding item after item—some doable, some harebrained—and I get more creative as time passes. I hardly notice when my phone vibrates in my pocket, but I pull it out, my focus mostly still on my list.
A glance at the screen reveals that it’s a text from Manne, and suddenly the phone has my complete attention.
Good morning. I don’t know if I can make it to the library today. My sister’s car broke down, so she borrowed my truck to get to work. And I said I’d fix her car if I can. Keep your fingers crossed it’s something easy so I can stop by. I want to see you. I’m sorry.
I sigh. I’ve been looking forward to seeing him since our conversation yesterday, so it’s an unwelcome message. But understandable; he’s the kind of guy to help his sister. That’s one of the reasons I like him.
It’s all right, I write back. Good luck with the car. I’ll try to keep busy without you here distracting me. Text me whenever you can.
I go back to my list and add a couple more ideas. Then I start fleshing out what I’ve just come up with in an email I can send to the boss, and I’m soon lost in work. The day flies past and we have an unusually high amount of visitors. Between helping a university student find research material for their final thesis, and breaking a thirteen-year-old’s heart by telling her we don’t have the next installment in her favorite series only to glue it back together when I say we can borrow it via an interlibrary loan, I continue working on my idea.
When closing time rolls around, I wave goodbye to the last visitor and send my colleague home with a smile. This is why I love this little library. Yes, it’s small and tucked away in a residential area and we are regularly threatened to be closed down. There are bigger and better and more modern libraries out there; I used to work in one of them but didn’t like it. I craved something smaller, less anonymous, where I would have time to talk to the visitors and help them. Where I could make a difference, instead of rushing around like a headless hen, trying to keep up.
After working here for nearly three years, people know me. They pop in to say hello if they are in the vicinity. They tell me what they think of the books they read, update me on what’s going on in their lives and families. My colleagues are a great bunch and love this place as much as I do, and my boss fights tooth and nail for our library. I’m sure she’ll love what I’ve done; she might not agree to every idea—not even I think they’re all good—but she’ll appreciate my efforts.
I feel needed here. Necessary. Not just like an able body. Here, I’m Adrian with the bowtie who helps everyone. Adrian who glues teenaged hearts back together and jokes around with a group of feisty old ladies.
I love this Adrian.
📚 Guest Post 📚
I’ve always been a bookworm. My mom has severe asthma and allergies and was too sick and fatigued to play with me when I was little at least physical games. So to keep me occupied and to stimulate me, she taught me how to read at a very young age (before four). It was love at first book; I still remember the pride I felt when I read my first book to her instead of the other way around. After that momentous occasion, me and books were inseparable.
I always had my nose buried in some book or other. As I grew older, my parents tried to make me do other things, too. They’d say things like “Go out and play!” or “Don’t sit in your room all day long!” or “Go hang out with your friends!”
But I was hanging out with my friends, didn’t they understand that? So when I grew older and found myself chased out of the house to “breathe in some fresh air,” I snuck away to the neighborhood library. I lived in a small town (population around 30K) so not even our main library was grand and fancy, and my neighborhood one wasn’t much. But it was enough for me.
I could hang out there for hours, browsing the books, picking one, and sitting down to read it. I was there so often I got friendly with the staff. So friendly that when I finally returned to the library after being home from school for two weeks because of illness, the staff came running and hugged me, welcoming me back. Saying they’d missed me, and that they thought the reason I wasn’t coming anymore was that I’d moved.
It was like coming home and I promised to tell them if we ever moved.
Adrian, the librarian in They Met in the Library works at a neighborhood library just like the one from my youth. He’s one of the staff members from “my” library, welcoming visitors with open arms, rejoicing in helping them. And people love him back…even the guy who’s dyslexic and has a difficult and fraught relationship with books, Manne.
Meet the Author
Nell Iris is a romantic at heart who believes everyone deserves a happy ending. She’s a bona fide bookworm (learned to read long before she started school), wouldn’t dream of going anywhere without something to read (not even the ladies room), loves music (and singing along at the top of her voice but she’s no Celine Dion), and is a real Star Trek nerd (Make it so). She loves words, bullet journals, poetry, wine, coffee-flavored kisses, and fika (a Swedish cultural thing involving coffee and pastry!)
Nell believes passionately in equality for all regardless of race, gender or sexuality, and wants to make the world a better, less hateful, place.
Nell is a bisexual Swedish woman married to the love of her life, a proud mama of a grown daughter, and is approaching 50 faster than she’d like. She lives in the south of Sweden where she spends her days thinking up stories about people falling in love. After dreaming about being a writer for most of her life, she finally was in a place where she could pursue her dream and released her first book in 2017.
Nell Iris writes gay romance, prefers sweet over angsty, short over long, and quirky characters over alpha males.
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Also by Nell Iris
Nell is giving away signed paperbacks of Finding the One to TWO lucky winners! (open internationally!)
Finding the One (box set) contains the stories:
Unconditionally, Find His Way Home, Nobody Else’s, Unexpected Christmas
Enter via Rafflecopter:
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