Thank you to Sinfully...Addicted for hosting my Chyna Doll blog tour visit. Although this is the fourth novel in the Horizons series, it can be read as a stand-alone. We’ve moved ahead several years and Grier’s son, Luca, who was seven when the series started, is now almost fifteen. Clark and Jody are stepping in as surrogate dads while Lil and Grier are in Italy for a month trying to re-capture Lil’s joie de vivre which seems to have disappeared. Here’s an exclusive excerpt for you. I’ve also brought along some prizes to give away, so stay tuned to see what you can win.
Chyna Doll (Horizons Series Book 4)
by Mickie B. Ashling
Publisher ~ Dreamspinner Press
Published ~ 23rd February 2015
Genre ~ M/M Romance
Lil Lampert’s forty-fifth birthday turns the effervescent architect into a brooding mess, and his partner, Grier Dilorio, takes him to Italy to help him regain his zest for life. The timing is bad—almost-fifteen-year-old Luca has just started high school, and his mother and stepfather are also traveling. Luca is left in the care of Chicago Bear, Clark Stevens, and his partner, Dr. Jody Williams.
Growing up with two dads and two gay uncles has given Luca a unique perspective on gender roles, but not all the answers. He’s had a secret crush on his straight best friend, Chip, for years. Suddenly, Luca finds himself attracted to Chyna, Chip’s twin sister. Now he's wondering if this means he’s bisexual.
Born with a sexual development disorder, Chyna should have been raised as a male, but due to an epic parenting fail, is being raised as female. Hiding the truth becomes more difficult when Chyna hits puberty, and crushing over Luca adds another element to Chyna’s struggle to fit in.
Is Luca's moral compass strong enough to guide him successfully through this period of discovery or will he succumb to peer pressure and shatter Chyna's dreams for happiness?
THE TEAM huddled on the edge of the football field as Taggart gave them a final pep talk before tomorrow’s big Homecoming game. Most of the guys were already pumped and didn’t need much encouragement, but Coach always made it a point to dish out positive reinforcement to keep the level of confidence up.
Luca stopped paying attention as soon as he heard a trio of cheerleaders mention Chyna by name. Listening to them gossip wasn’t anything new, but they were picking on someone he cared about. Unlike guys, who usually resolved their conflicts on the spot, he’d observed that girls tended to bide their time and choose the most inappropriate moments to seek their revenge. He’d seen it often enough and had yet to understand that kind of mentality. Was it a female thing or a cheerleader thing? He hardly had a point of reference, being with his dads more than his mom, and neither his sister, Gemma, nor Chyna were that way as far as he knew. Maybe it was just Ashley and her ladies-in-waiting who went out of their way to make life hell for anyone who wasn’t a part of their clique. He knew Chyna’s desertion was considered a betrayal. What he didn’t understand was why they couldn’t respect her choices and remain friends.
“That biatch is going to pay,” Ashley pronounced.
Her threat made Luca step a little closer to the fence. He had his back turned toward the girls but could hear everything.
“What’s the plan?” a minion asked.
“I’m still working on it,” Ashley replied grimly.
Luca had never been given a straight answer about the locker incident. Had Chyna provoked Ashley somehow to cause the altercation, or was it just pure malice? He had a feeling Ashley was to blame, and he wouldn’t put it past her to find another more painful way of getting back at her former best friend. When he walked off the field and saw Chyna waiting, a sudden wave of protectiveness hit him. She looked rather forlorn today, and he wondered if any of the girls had said something to make her sad.
“You okay?” he asked, dropping his duffel on the concrete.
“Why wouldn’t I be?”
“I wondered if your old buddies had said or done anything nasty.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Chyna assured him. “I can take care of myself.”
“Ashley is so jealous,” he commented.
Chyna raised her eyebrows. “Why? She’s got a much better body than I’ll ever have and she’s head cheerleader of the freshman squad. Why in heck would she be jealous?”
Luca smiled and twirled a lock of her hair around his forefinger. “Maybe it’s because you’ve caught the eye of the quarterback.”
Chyna ducked her head, but he could tell she was pleased by his remark.
“You want to grab a Blizzard?” he asked. Dairy Queen wasn’t too far away, and it’d be worth the walk for a hefty serving of the softserve ice cream he enjoyed. “They won’t be open much longer.”
“I know they close up shop once October rolls around.”
“Exactly,” Luca agreed. “I’m addicted to the Butterfinger flavor.”
“Why not,” she agreed.
Luca picked up Chyna’s backpack and slung it over his shoulder along with his. They walked side by side, and he wanted to take her hand but worried she might pull away. His feelings for her were so new he didn’t quite know what was cool and what wasn’t. He felt like such a dummy, considering most of his team members were doing way more than holding hands. He’d never been attracted to anyone except for Chip, and that was so deeply buried in the closet he considered it a lost cause. Since he couldn’t act on his feelings for his best friend, he’d never bothered to experiment with anyone else, male or female. He found himself in the awkward position of being suddenly interested in someone he’d known for years and not quite sure how to proceed.
To make matters worse, Chyna was also innocent. It’d be different if she was the experienced one and he could let her take the lead, but he knew for a fact that she’d never dated anyone and was as clueless as he was. Surprising in this TMI era but reassuring for someone like him who’d be fumbling through each first. At least she wouldn’t laugh at him if he didn’t kiss her properly.
They got to Dairy Queen, and he saw that they weren’t the only ones who were inspired to eat ice cream on this warm afternoon. There was a line snaking around the building, but he and Chyna agreed that waiting would be worth it.
As they inched forward little by little, he asked her again if something had gone wrong today. “You look a little down.”
She blinked in surprise. “You can tell by looking at me?”
He smiled. “Your awesomeness is on dim.”
“Shut up,” she said gently.
Meet the Author
Mickie B. Ashling is the alter-ego of a multifaceted woman raised by a single mother who preferred reading over other forms of entertainment. She found a kindred spirit in her oldest child and encouraged her with a steady supply of dog-eared paperbacks. Romance was the preferred genre, and historical romances topped her favorites list.
By the time Mickie discovered her own talent for writing, real life had intruded, and the business of earning a living and raising four sons took priority. With the advent of e-publishing and the inevitable emptying nest, dreams were resurrected, and the storyteller was reborn.
She stumbled into the world of men who love men in 2002 and continues to draw inspiration from their ongoing struggle to find equality and happiness in this oftentimes skewed and intolerant world. Her award-winning novels have been called "gut wrenching, daring, and thought provoking." She admits to being an angst queen and making her men work damn hard for their happy endings.
Mickie loves to travel and has lived in the Philippines, Spain, and the Middle East but currently resides in a suburb outside Chicago.
Using Rafflecopter below, enter to win one of these prizes (contest open internationally): a $20 Dreamspinner gift certificate, one of five ecopies of Chyna Doll, any two ebooks from Mickie's backlist, or a signed paperback of Chyna Doll. Must be 18 or older to enter.
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March 4 - Hearts On Fire
March 5 - WoW...from The Scarf Princess
March 6 - MM Good Book Reviews
March 7 - Book Reviews & More by Kathy
March 9 - Prism Book Alliance
March 10 - Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
March 11 - On Top Down Under Book Reviews
March 12 - Sinfully...Addicted to All Male Romance