Finding Home Box Set by Ofelia Gränd
Hello! Thank you, Addison, for allowing me to drop by your blog 🥰
Right before I started writing this post, I was emailing with one of my lovely beta readers, and since she’s in Australia and I’m in Sweden, the weather often comes up. They’re heading toward autumn, and we’re dipping our toes into spring here. It’s still cold, it’s still dark, and we’re still having days with snow, but the light is coming back. My hens are laying more eggs, snowdrops are peeking up through the ground, and the afternoon walk with the dog is done in daylight. It’s a miracle 😆
I talked about the light in my email, and how I’ve never lived anywhere where there is more daylight, but I have lived where there is less. Winter in northern Sweden is a dark affair 😁
But the north has its charm and will always be dear to me, and that’s why I’ve put most of my contemporary stories there. I’ve made up the names of the villages in my Up North stories, but the nature, the small grocery shops, the cafes – I’ve been there. Miles and miles of road with nothing but the forest around. When you reach a crest and see a river snake its way through the landscape, the mountains reaching for the sky, and forest and forest and forest, your soul breaks free.
I read on Wikipedia that the worldwide human population density is approximately 40 per sq. mi. In northern Sweden, it’s 2.2 per sq. mi. And isn’t that just awesome? I think it is.
Peace and quiet, people!
And if you’re looking for some peace and quiet, it just so happens that I have a new box set out. You didn’t see that one coming, did you? 😆 Finding Home is a collection of three contemporary gay romance novellas, all taking place up north. We’re talking small-town romances, bearded men, flannel shirts, and miles and miles of forest.
The stories are Around Seven, Banger Challenge, and Once in May. Around Seven and Once in May, both take place in Nortown, which was the first village I created for my Up North stories. It’s very much like the village I lived in. And then in Banger Challenge, they start in Nortown, but it’s a road trip story so they’re spending most of the time in a car.
What these stories have in common apart from the location is that they each have a character who’s constantly moving around and never puts down roots. Until they meet a special someone, of course.
All stories in my Up North series are stand-alone, some secondary characters might pop in, but they can be read in any order, and they’re all small-town romances, often hurt-comfort, and always with a HEA.
Once in May is a spring story, Banger Challenge a summer story, and Around Seven an autumn story. I guess I’ll have to gather up my winter stories next 😄
Below you can read an excerpt from Banger Challenge.
He got off the freeway. There had to be a camping site somewhere on the outskirts of the city. He could sleep in the car; had done so a few times already, but he was six-one and there wasn’t any way to get comfortable when you were as tall as he was. Sleeping in a tent wasn’t much better, but at least the ground was even.
A ticking sounded.
The hairs on Zen’s arms stood on end. Engines he understood, and that sound… He signaled a turn into a smaller road so he wouldn’t be in the way of traffic. Smoke rose from underneath the hood. Fuck, fuck, fuck!
He hit the hazard lights and rolled in on a small, grassy gravel road. Pulling the key out of the ignition, he got out of the car. The July heat was oppressing, but it was cooler outside the car than inside it. He could smell the overheated engine before he walked closer to the hood.
Stretching a little before opening the trunk, he searched for some rags he’d thrown in there. He popped the hood and looked at the engine. Smoke was still rising in clouds. He might be on a good schedule, but he didn’t have time for engine boil-overs.
He walked a few steps down the road, turned around, and walked back again. He repeated the action fifteen times before he figured the engine had cooled enough not to blow up in his face when he opened the radiator cap.
As he grabbed the rag, a car turned off the freeway and headed right for him. A quick look around confirmed there was no way for the car to get past. His only concern had been to get off the freeway. He hadn’t thought anyone else would drive in on a small gravel road like this one.
The car, a fairly new Honda Accord, came to a stop right in front of him. The white enamel paint was shining, not a scratch in sight. They were good cars, some trouble with the transmission in the earlier models, but this was newer and it looked well taken care of.
You could tell a lot about a person by having a look at his or her car.
The door opened, and out stepped the police officer from Nortown; the younger one. This had turned out to be one shitty day. “Johnny Law.” Zen saluted him.
He was still dressed in uniform, but judging by the car, he was probably off duty. The man straightened his back and looked at Zen’s hands. “You’re blocking the way.”
“Ah, yeah, sorry about that. Had some car problems and had to get off the freeway. I didn’t think anyone used this road.”
The man nodded. “Are you okay?”
Zen didn’t mean to stare, but was he okay? No one had asked if he was okay in a long time. “Erm… sure, just…” He gestured at the car. “…need to get some coolant. Really fucking stupid of me not to check. I mean, it’s a junk car. I ought to have a backup for everything.” Zen rubbed his neck and righted the cap he’d put on when he’d gotten out of the car.
The cop didn’t speak.
“I think it’s cooled enough so I can touch it, and I can fill it up with some water until I get to a gas station.”
The man still didn’t say anything.
“So… you’re working here too? Not just…” He gestured at the highway. “…in the café.”
A light blush spread on the cop’s cheeks, and he focused on his shoes before he pulled in a deep breath and looked Zen straight in the eye.
He was a little shorter than Zen, but not by much. His dark hair was short, but a little longer at the top of his head, and the stubble suited him. Zen suspected he’d look young without it; he looked young now too, but not too young. He had to be thirty, at least, and he had beautiful blue eyes with long dark lashes. Zen so didn’t need to notice that in a cop.
“No, I live here.”
“I’m blocking your driveway?” The man nodded. “Fuck, I’m sorry, man.” Friday night. Zen understood wanting to get home on a Friday night after a long week at work—if you had a home.
He needed to find someplace to live.
“It’s okay.” The man’s voice grew into a mumble and his gaze once again skidded away. “I have nothing to do anyway.”
“Yeah? Off your shift?”
The question was answered with a nod.
Zen had never exchanged this many phrases with a cop without being accused of something. Considering how few words the man had spoken, exchanged might not be an accurate way to describe what they had going on here. He stepped closer and offered his hand. “I’m Zen.”
Oh, they were doing a formal introduction? “Zeppelin Cave.”
Fred’s blue eyes widened. “Your name is Zeppelin?” The blush that followed was adorable and Zen grinned.
“Papa was a fan.” Zen’s chest filled with warmth as memories surfaced; tunes of Led Zeppelin mixing with the sounds of tools being dropped on the concrete floor at the garage; the scent of motor oil clinging to his dad like cologne.
Can a restless soul find a home?
Three contemporary gay romance novellas. Three characters looking for a place to belong. Follow them as they put down roots in the small towns of the north. Oswald has never had a place to call home, but he can’t live in his car forever. Zen is lost after the death of his father and spends his time on the road. Zach returns to his hometown after several years away and finds something he never believed he would.
Contains the stories:
Around Seven: Oswald Sattle has been sleeping in his Toyota Camry for the last nine months. Out of money and out of options, he’s on his way to Nortown for a job opportunity he can’t turn down. Joshua Roth has everything he needs, but he wants to make Oswald smile. He keeps suggesting things that will make Oswald stay, but Oswald doesn’t want to overstay his welcome. Maybe it’s time to move on again?
Banger Challenge: A month after losing his father, the only thing holding Zen Zeppelin Cave together is focusing on a charity junk car race to raise money for cancer research. He had planned on completing the race on his own, but a spur-of-the-moment decision changes that when he invites the adorable, blushing police officer whose driveway he’s blocking to tag along.
Once in May: To hide from his past, John Welsh has spent the last few years building walls around himself. He knows the best way to stay safe is to keep people at arm’s length. He should’ve known the peace he’s found wouldn’t last. One day everything is fine, the next Zachary Fane shows up wherever he goes. All Zachary wants is to be close to John, and if following him around is the only way, then so be it.
Ofelia Gränd is Swedish, which often shines through in her stories. She likes to write about everyday people ending up in not-so-everyday situations, and hopefully also getting out of them. She writes romance, contemporary, paranormal, Sci-Fi and whatever else catches her fancy.
Her books are written for readers who want to take a break from their everyday life for an hour or two.
When Ofelia manages to tear herself from the screen and sneak away from her husband and children, she likes to take walks in the woods…if she’s lucky she finds her way back home again.