What I #AmReading ~ 2022 Top Ten Gay Romance at JMS Books (2nd Five Stories)

Walking: Sat., 7-Jan. > Sun., 22-Jan.

Note: I didn’t necessarily read every day during this walking stretch. My muse has finally reemerged, and I gave it free rein with extra writing some of the days in lieu of reading.

Here are screen shots of my Apple watch workouts that were recorded while walking (or shoveling on that last day). My goal is to walk for at least one solid 30-minute stretch per day. The pic is just something I walk by while doing laps in the house. Winter decorations, still, but not (I don’t think) overtly Christmassy.

What I #AmReading…

2022 Top Ten Gay Romance ~ JMS Books Annual Collection

GENRE: Gay Erotic Romance Anthology
LENGTH: 119,567 Words / 438 Pages

2022 Top Ten Gay Romance brings together the best-selling short stories published by JMS Books that year.

From first love to true love, from submission to sensual, from heat to sweet and everything in between, the couples in these stories are sure to keep you turning the pages as you fall in love with them.

With stories by Sarah Hadley Brook, Holly Day, Ofelia Gränd, Nell Iris, Hannah Morse, K.S. Murphy, K.L. Noone, Amy Spector, Ellie Thomas, and Tinnean, this head-over-heels collection goes beyond bedtime reading. Whether happily ever after or happy for now, there’s an ending for everyone in here!

Contains the stories: 

Found in the Storm by Sarah Hadley Brook
The Wingman by Holly Day
The Ruby Tooth by Ofelia Gränd
Secrets on a Train by Nell Iris
Hatch by Hannah Morse
Trust with Glittering Eyes by K.S. Murphy
The Snails of Dun Nas by K.L. Noone
How to Cheat at Dirty Santa by Amy Spector
The Thrill of the Chase by Ellie Thomas
Twelve Desserts by Tinnean

The 2nd Five Stories

Trust with Glittering Eyes by K.S. Murphy

This is a lovely fantasy story that continues from Watch with Glittering Eyes. While it’s not necessary to read that other book before reading this one (the author covers everything the reader needs to know to follow along with the new drama), it’s also a fabulous story and might help the reader get more emotionally invested with where Travis and Niko are in their relationship.

In this story, we get a deeper dive into Niko’s background and the potential danger he’s facing if his identity is exposed.

I’m drawn to Travis and Niko’s loving and caring relationship, and the drama in these stories pulls me right in!


GENRE: Gay Fantasy Erotic Romance
LENGTH: Novelette / 12,022 Words / 45

Sequel to Watch with Glittering Eyes

Life has been going well for Travis Grayweaver recently. The Grand Council of High Magick hasn’t summoned him for anything. For a witch without a Guild, he’s still getting plenty of work. And best of all, he’s spent the last six months falling more and more in love with his best friend Niko, a rambunctious and playful cat familiar, who happens to love him back.

Tonight, they’ll be celebrating the Yule with lots of candlelight and a feast for two and a festival in town as they honor the start of winter and wait for the sun’s return. Only Niko’s been acting a bit off lately, obviously keeping something from Travis.

Travis is trying to be patient with him, but this thing from Niko’s past might be more than he can handle. Old demons and long-kept secrets will be revealed, but can the love they have for one another endure these revelations during the longest night of the year?


This snip sets up the drama of the story.

(Travis) opened the door and found a tall, pale man, a few years older than Travis, standing there in the soft snowfall. With his black hair tied behind his head in a perfect braid, he assessed Travis with a pair of amber eyes. He had the build of someone who participated in a gentleman’s sport. Polo or rowing or fencing. Maybe even boxing.

They’d never met before, but Travis knew him on sight. Quintin Alistair Jeffries III came from one of the most prominent magickal families in the world. Descendants of royalty, the Jeffries were renowned and fabulously wealthy and powerfully influential. People respected the tradition of it no matter how they actually felt about the family. That lineage. The legacy. Especially Quintin, the family’s current pet with that charming smile and eloquent way with words and dazzling eyes. Other people fawned over him. Swooned over him. Doted upon him.

Travis didn’t see the appeal.

“Good afternoon,” Quintin greeted him, all roses and sunshine in his voice, and tipped the brim of his hat toward Travis. “Travis…Graywater?”

The only reason Travis didn’t roll his eyes right in his face was because his mother raised him to be gracious and hospitable. To a point. Which was why his expression remained flat and indifferent.


“Ah, yes. My mistake.” The cool, confident grin remained on his mouth even in the face of his blunder. “My name is—”

“I know who you are, Mr. Jeffries.”

No doubt he heard the distaste in Travis’s voice. Travis might not outright roll his eyes, but his politeness had limits.


The Snails of Dun Nas by K. L. Noone

Aric and Emrys are hired to rid a village of giant magical (and quite slimy) snails, but it’s not the snails themselves that pose the most danger for our heroes!

This is a positively lovely high fantasy novelette. It has a gripping and intriguing storyline with fun flashes of comedy tossed in throughout.


GENRE: Gay / Genderfluid Fantasy Erotic Romance
LENGTH: Novelette / 12,614 words / 53 Pages

Giant magical snails aren’t exactly at the top of the list of heroic quests. But the village of Dun Nas needs help, and Aric needs money: being a legendary swordsman might be nice, but so is getting paid. Anyway, snails — even giant ones — aren’t anything he can’t handle, especially with his half-fairy partner Emrys. Together, the Storm-Wielder and the Shadow can fight anything, or so the stories say.

But this job’s more complicated than it seems. The lake holds a dangerous magical mystery. Aric trusts Emrys with his life — but he’d also love to offer his heart, and he doesn’t know whether Em feels the same. Em isn’t human, after all … and has a few secrets of their own.



Em laughed. And got up, and came over, and put both arms around his neck: bodies pressed together, one hand playing with Aric’s hair, looping loose blond strands around thin fingers. They were both mist-damp and fully dressed, with muddy boots; Aric wouldn’t’ve cared if the mud were chest-deep, with Em grinning at him like that.

“For now,” Em agreed sweetly, and kissed him: quick but thorough, tongue promising more, lips certain about the request. “Sweep me up in your resplendent conquering arms later. I promise I’ll properly swoon. Food first. And plans.”

“Plans involving giant snails. The classical heroes never had these problems. Jason, Odysseus…”

“Odysseus spent ten years trying to get home.” Emrys handed over stew. “And Jason was a boor.”

“Boor or not, he got to fight dragons.”

“Would you rather fight dragons or snails?”

Aric winced. “It just sounds so unheroic.”

“But it isn’t.” Em perched on the table again. He did not carry a sword—he’d never needed to—but a throwing-dagger or two caught the light. “Not to them.”

Aric flicked a breadcrumb at him. “If a bard ever asks about this, they were eight-foot-long lake monsters.”


How to Cheat at Dirty Santa by Amy Spector

I’ve read this one before and was more than happy to give it a re-read. I love the missteps and crossed wires as Jonah tries to make sure Nathan gets his Dirty Santa gift. The side characters add so much to the story.

This story is just so much fun, with a lovely twist at the end!


GENRE: Gay Romance
LENGTH: Novelette / 10,717 Words / 44 Pages

Some things are worth risking the naughty list.

Jonah Newfeld is not someone men fall for at a glance. They have to get to know him first. So when he meets the perfect man, he knows he needs to play the long game.

Nathan Sharp is the newest guy on the customer service floor. He’s clever, kind, blessedly single, and volunteers weekends at a local animal shelter. Jonah wants to raise babies with him. But when Nathan’s sister starts trying to fix him up with her veterinarian, Jonah’s plan is put into jeopardy.

Jonah needs the perfect plan if he wants to win over the man of his dreams. But a terrible plan will have to do, and more than a little help from his friends. If Jonah can pull it off and manage to get the boy, it’ll be more than worth being put on Santa’s naughty list for good.


So many great passages to choose from I love how this author turns a word! Here are three shorter ones highlighting her brilliant descriptions, etc.:

On Monday, I pulled into work and caught sight of Lydia and Reed walking the paved path that circled the building, wrapping around the ornamental pond, and back again.

Lydia was always on a mission to lose the baby weight which, honestly, I thought only existed in her head. And I suspected Reed just took perverse joy in showing everyone else up. I almost always walked during my second break to get away from the noise of the floor and went to my apartment gym a few times a week like a normal person to run on the treadmill out of the weather, or swim laps in the pool, so that I didn’t die at fifty, and Reed had muscles like he thought Frank Frazetta might come back from the grave in desperate need of a model to pose on top of a mountain of skulls.

As if she could read my mind, Lydia patted my leg. “It takes a village, hon.”

I squinted at her. It was one thing to say it took a village to raise a kid, it was something else completely to say it took a village to get me a boyfriend. Different, and sad.

As we whispered between ourselves, Reed tapped me on my shoulder, and I turned to see Nathan heading our way. “Shit.”

Everyone looked up then and froze.

“What are you guys doing?” No one said anything.

“Eating.” Reed swooped in and saved the day. “I’m telling everyone how to eat if you want to build muscle. He flexed and I managed not to cover my face. “Greens, lean protein, and avoid sugar. Right?”

He looked around and everyone nodded. Except for Kim and Becca—both wearing baby doll dresses and hair ribbons—who giggled like the creepy dolls their spirits would no doubt someday possess.


The Thrill of the Chase by Ellie Thomas

This was such a fun story. As always, this author’s descriptions of the era, people, and places is rich with lovely detail making it easy to become immersed in the story. The cast of characters is varied and all are eminently likable while adding value to the story.

I thoroughly enjoyed this wonderful opposites attract novelette!


GENRE: Gay Historical Erotic Romance
LENGTH: Novelette / 14,749 Words / 56 Pages

Adrian Lethbridge temporarily exchanges his quiet country home in leafy Dorset for fashionable Regency Cheltenham to support his aunt as she introduces her three daughters into polite society. As he is fond of his younger cousins, Adrian is happy to escort them and even bestow advice on fashion and manners as they attract new friends and admirers. But the last thing he expects is to make a match of his own.

When he meets handsome Captain Guy Ransome at an evening assembly, he is overwhelmed by his unexpected feelings and can’t believe that they might be reciprocated. However, Guy seems more interested in the thrill of passing pleasure than a meeting of hearts and minds.

In the heat of the chase, Guy impatiently regards Adrian’s hesitance as time-wasting game playing, not realising his tried and tested seduction techniques send shy Adrian fleeing in the opposite direction. Can these contrasting characters reach a romantic compromise? And will the hunter discover his heart has been caught after all?


Guy Ransome speaks first (to Adrian):

“James advised me that riding roughshod over people and ordering them around like junior officers is not universally endearing.”

Captain Ransome grinned at Adrian. “So, I pledge to do my best not to be high-handed and overbearing if, in turn, you promise to tell me before I make you so uncomfortable that you feel obliged to flee the premises. Do we have a deal?”

“I suppose so,” Adrian, said confounded by this turn of events and with the sneaking suspicion he had been outmaneuvered yet again. In this new mood of mutual honesty, with an entente cordiale established, a thought occurred to him. He quickly glanced over his shoulder, reassuring himself there was no one within earshot, before saying quietly, “But I do have a question. If it is so simple for you to find, er, obliging company, then why would you bother with me?”

The captain looked momentarily disconcerted and took another sip of his drink while formulating his reply. At last, he said, “I find you intriguing. As you pointed out, not everyone is an easy, ah, encounter, and I find that strangely refreshing.”

At this unexpected declaration, Adrian felt the dreaded flush start to rise from his neck and over his cheekbones. Seeing this, the captain added naughtily, “And when one is on the hunt, the pursuit of a wild rabbit is so much more diverting compared to a tamed domestic pet.”


Twelve Desserts of Summer by Tinnean

This was a fun little story! The two MCs (Murphy & Conor) had known each other in passing since one had worked as a cashier at a coffee shop where the other frequented.

Treats feature heavily in the story, and each chapter is titled after a different yummy confection!


GENRE: Gay Romance
LENGTH: Novelette / 14,903 Words / 64 Pages

Connor Murphy, the CFO of the family business, has given up his dream of becoming a chef in order to help the company. After all, family means the world to him, something his boyfriend learned at Christmas, much to his displeasure. This is why six months after that disastrous Christmas, Connor is sans boyfriend and buries himself in work to take his mind off his single status. Still, he enjoys baking desserts and bringing them to his beloved nanny. He also enjoys going to the Coffee Shoppe, exchanging glances with the man behind the counter. Until the man is suddenly gone.

While Murphy Doyle waits for a job in his preferred field, he helps out behind the counter at his family’s coffee shop. He might be a physical therapist, but he also loves to bake, especially desserts, which are a big hit at work. He’s been intrigued by the businessman who frequently comes into the shop, wearing a three-piece suit and always ordering the same thing. Murph would have loved to ask him out, but it’s against company policy, so they never speak, just gaze silently at each other, everything but their eyes hidden by the masks they wear due to the pandemic. And then he gets his dream job, and he’s afraid the opportunity is lost.

Are these two men destined to be ships passing in the night, or will family meddling somehow bring them together?


Connor Murphy is the first speaker, talking to Murphy Doyle. 

“Are you free any time this week? I’ll be here at Nanny’s for the next seven days, and I’d love to take you to dinner.”

And I’d love to be taken. Murphy cleared his throat. “I have patients to see tomorrow, but I get off around five. I’ll be available whichever day is good for you.”

“Friday. Saturday. Sunday. Monday. Tuesday. Wednesday.”

“Which day?”

“All of them?”

Okay, so Murph knew he was grinning like a loon, but he didn’t care. “Works for me.”

“Cool. Come over tomorrow to start, and I’ll grill steaks…That is, if you’re not vegetarian?”

“I’m not, and steak sounds great. And suppose I bring dessert?”

“Sure. Nanny told me you made ice cream for tonight.”

“Yes, cherry-chocolate.”

“My favorite combination.”

“Excellent. I also made chocolate candy clusters—”

“With pretzels or toffee?”

“Pretzels. I didn’t have time to make toffee.”

“You make your own toffee? Oh my God, I think I love you!”

Murphy’s grin felt as if it was about to split his cheeks, but he couldn’t help it. He never thought he’d see this gorgeous hunk again, and now…“If we get married, I am not changing my name.” No way was he winding up being Murphy Murphy.


About My Walking / #AmReading Posts

I started out with this being a Sunday thing, but sometimes I’d rather not mash multiple books into a single post, so now, you never know when you might see one of these posts.

Rather than give a true “review,” which I’m not entirely comfortable doing as an author myself, I share snippets from books I’ve read and enjoyed, letting the authors’ words speak for themselves.

As you’ve possibly noticed, if you’ve been following along, I highlight snippets for reasons of my own which might veer from what is often seen. Sometimes my highlights have more to do with a paragraph simply impressing the heck out of me for its fabulous writerly technique, other times it has to do with the lovely way it gives subtle insight into the story/characters. Still other times simply because it made me laugh.

Anyway, I sometimes add a little commentary, but not always, which is not in any way, shape, or form, to be taken as unwritten commentary. Most likely it just means I’m short on time and/or context isn’t needed to understand what’s happening, and/or my brain doesn’t feel like putting out the effort in that particular moment.

Also, I’m going to try to spread the book love by tacking on covers of more books at the end of the post that I’ve either recently read, am currently reading, or want to read. Not seeing a full post with snippets for any of these books is not a commentary on anything other than how much time I have available in a day either to read or to create a post about what I’ve read. It might also mean I listened to the audiobook only or that it’s a reread that I’ve featured previously, or it’s not M/M so probably not a good fit for featuring on this blog.

Happy reading!

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