Posts Tagged With: S.M. James

For What It’s Worth by S.M. James: Exclusive Excerpt & Giveaway!

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Exclusive Excerpt from For What It’s Worth

by S.M. James

A Sal’s party never disappoints. All the lanterns hung over the lawns glow orange, and smoke fills the air from the bonfire. Reya is cooking some type of spiced vegetables, and Gena, along with her twin brother Kyle, are playing folk music on the steps of St. Albian’s.

I recognize nearly everyone here; most are vendors, and a fair few people come from the local colleges, some I used to go to school with and some I do now. The atmosphere isn’t quite as relaxed as it normally is—there’s too much talking and not enough dancing and laughter. I wish I could have shown Justin what it’s normally like.

I grab some kombucha, and Rory and Justin go for the un-spiked punch. No one here has ever carded us in the past, but again Rory makes the smart choice. I don’t know what his dad said to him, and I’m torn between being glad they had that conversation and wondering how much it upset Rory for him to be set on going to school tomorrow.

“I was thinking next week …” Justin says to Rory as I tune in to their conversation.

“For what?” I ask.

“We’re going to drive up to Princeton,” Rory says. “You coming?”

“Which days?”

“Wednesday and Thursday. They’ve got a tour on.”

Thursday … Thursday … I groan. “I can’t. I’m getting the info for my major assessment that day.”

Justin kicks at the ground. “Damn, well, that’s okay … maybe I could see if there’s another one?”

“No, you’re not here for that much longer. You should go.” I sigh. “You guys are allowed to go places without me.” It sucks to be missing something like this, though. Because I want to be there for him.

“We know that.” Rory rolls his eyes. “But two’s boring—three’s a party.”

I snort and shove him a bit.

“If it helps, I’ll bet their tour is shit compared to yours,” Justin says.

I start to laugh. “I was so damn nervous that day.”

“Me too.”

We share a quick look, and I wonder if he felt it, even back then. The draw I seem to have toward him has been there almost since we met. If I’d been able to get around what I saw between him and Rory, I probably would have paid attention to him from the start.

“Come on, let’s go talk to people.”

Rory and I stick to our word and make sure we don’t leave Justin alone all night. He’s still hard to read, but he’s not shaking or blushing and is actually making conversation with people, so I’d say we’re good.

It’s a pretty cold night, but my wool-lined denim jacket is enough. Rory’s wearing a hoodie under a vest, but poor Justin’s sweater doesn’t seem to be helping, and the later it gets, the more his teeth start to knock together as he talks.


“J-just a li-ittle.”

“Want to go?”

“N-no.” He shakes his head for emphasis.

“Rory, we’re heading to the fire.”

He nods under his hood. “Okay, I’m going to grab a vegetable kebab. Either of you want one?”


Justin nods shakily.

“Both of us, please,” I say in case Rory missed it.

Rory ducks away, and I lead Justin over to one of the closest bonfires. He’s pulled his hands up inside his sleeves and crossed his arms.

“You going okay?”

He steps closer to the wall of warmth radiating from the fire, and his shoulders seem to relax. “Yeah. Just not used to the cold. Even out on the farm, winter is barely cold enough for more than jeans and a jacket.” His chin is still trembling as I step closer.

“You know … I’m big and cuddly. You could snuggle up to me for warmth.”

Justin doesn’t look at me, but the orange glow from the fire lights up the way his lips curl into a smile. “Oh yeah?” His eyes flick my way really quickly. “Why don’t you make me?”

My cheeks hurt from the force of my smile, but I step closer, not wanting to treat him with kid gloves but not wanting to overwhelm him either. Hooking one finger through his belt loop, I tug him closer, then slowly slide my hand across his back until my arm is wrapped loosely around his shoulders. Justin huddles into my side, and the temperature must win out against his hesitation because he slides one hand under my jacket and links his arm around my waist.

“Even though you only want me for my body heat, this is nice.”

He shakes his head against my chest. “That’s not the only reason.”

“Hmm … tell me more.”

“No way. Rory already has a big head—I don’t need you developing one too.”

I run my nose through his hair and give his shoulder a light pinch. “Careful, that’s my boyfriend you’re talking about.”

His body shakes lightly with the laughter he’s always trying to suppress. My hands run from his shoulder down to his arm as I pull him a little tighter, and … I frown, giving his very defined bicep a squeeze. “What is this?”

Justin squirms in my hold, turning his face down as Rory joins us.

That, Micah, is a sexy-as-fuck body that Justin hides away under those ugly oversized sweaters.”

“Oh my god,” he squeaks, and I don’t think I’ll ever get over how embarrassed he gets sometimes. Also, sexy-as-fuck body? What?

“How am I only hearing about this now?”

Rory hands over my kebab, and I grab the still warm stick left-handed, not willing to let Justin go yet. I squint at the chargrilled chunks of vegetables, identifying eggplant, tomato, and pumpkin.

“I mean,” Rory says, not quite meeting my eye. “I couldn’t exactly tell my new boyfriend all about the hot Aussie I’d made out with.”

“I’m glad you can now.” With both hands occupied, I lean forward and press a kiss to Rory’s forehead, wanting him to know it’s okay, it’s not weird. And okay, it’s kinda weird, but not awkward weird.

“Okay,” Justin sighs. “Now I’m getting a big head.”

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Categories: Book Promo, Excerpts, Giveaways, LGBT, Published in 2020 | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Not Gonna Lie by S.M. James: Exclusive Excerpt & Giveaway!

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Exclusive Excerpt from Not Gonna Lie

by S.M. James

Chapter 1


“The only thing worse than outing yourself to the entire world is when your mom does it for you.

I stare at the picture. A sour, metallic taste rises in my throat as I blink too fast at my laptop screen, trying to figure out what the hell is going on.

Her blog has always focused on the two of us, and as one of the most renowned “Mommy bloggers” out there, it’s clearly worked for her. Even if some of her posts upset me, even if my need for privacy is completely ignored, I’ve always been able to move on from the hurt.

But this time, she’s gone too far.

My hand shakes as I pick up my cell phone to call Jack, but after two rings it cuts off. Shit. Did he hang up? Did his cell run out of battery? Is he on his way over here now, coming to kick my ass?  

I drop my cell, burying my hand into my hair as tears prick at the backs of my eyes. My neck is growing hot, and the grip on my hair tightens as I struggle to keep the raw surge of emotion in. Because I knew this would happen. I knew she’d react exactly like this if she ever found out.

It could be worse, I reason with myself. But I don’t know how. How can it get worse than having a photo shared of you wrapped around the deeply closeted guy you’re hooking up with? We’re both asleep, but it’s not like it matters. I’m clinging to him like a damn barnacle, mouth stupidly open as usual, and his leg is hooked over mine. Thank Christ we’re not naked, though we’re only two items of clothing away from it. Every fat roll is on display.

But still. It could be worse.


Mom is as predictable as ever. Her post is all about supporting your kids, no matter what, and how proud she is that I’m gay. She’s already rebranded her blog and announced her membership with PFLAG, and it literally looks like a rainbow threw up all over her site.

The thing is, I don’t know that I’m gay. Or bi. Or pan. I don’t know what I am.

But I know Jack is gay. And I know Jack is gonna burrow even further into the closet once he sees this.

“Shit …” I breathe, heart speeding up again. Jack and I aren’t much of anything to each other, but I’d promised to keep his secret. And since going dark online a year ago, I’d been able to do just that.”

“I snatch up my cell and try him again. This time it only rings once before disconnecting. He’s definitely hanging up on me. That doesn’t bode well, because I know what happened to the last guy who kissed him. And yeah, maybe Jack felt bad about acting like a gay-hating dirtbag, but I’m willing to put money down that he’s gonna jump right back to old habits.

What would he tell people? That he was asleep in my bed and I snuck in? Took advantage of him? Will he beat the absolute shit out of me too?

I sigh, setting my phone down again. Screw it. Whether Jack’s seen it or not, I gotta go on the offensive. Not just for him, for me. It’s not okay that she posted this. She knows how hard I’ve worked to scrub myself off the internet. She knows how serious I was about keeping my life private after everything from the first sixteen years of it was shared with the world.   

I slap my desk as I push up and head for the door. Just as I get there, my phone dings with a text, and I launch for it.

But it’s not Jack.

It’s fucking Gram.”

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Categories: Book Promo, Excerpts, Giveaways, LGBT, Published in 2019 | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

The #lovehim Series Box Set by S.M. James: Exclusive Excerpt & Giveaway!

Exclusive Excerpt from For the Win

by S.M. James

As much as I don’t want to, I’m going to have to wrap up our non-date pretty soon. “Well you don’t have a whole lot of time left,” I tell Darien.

“Why? Are you leaving?”

“Probably an hour or so.”

“But why? This holiday party goes most of the night.”

“Yeah I know. I … just have to.” I expect him to question me on it, to push. There’s no way that reasoning is even close to being enough.

Darien huffs out a breath. “Okay, better speed non-date, then.”

“What do you mean?”

“Come on.”

He drags me from area to area, firing off questions like, “favorite color”, and “guilty pleasures”?

I learn his favorite color is orange, he’s Macedonian Orthodox, and he’s moved four times so far because his dad works for some kind of insurance firm.

“So when you’re not homeschooling, or being Picasso, what do you do with your spare time?” Darien asks. He pulls me out of the main room and into a smaller one, leading the way to a balcony where it’s so cold there’s only a few other people there. Darien falls back into the wall and slides down to sit on the cement. One of his eyebrows pulls up as he pats the ground next to him.

“Wouldn’t you rather be inside where it’s warm?”

“Nope. Too noisy.”

I sigh and sit down, probably too close, but damn it’s cold.

And I really like being near him.

“So …?” he prompts.

“Oh, umm … not a whole lot. I play guitar.”

“You’re kidding?”

“Nope. I’ve got the calluses to prove it.”

He takes advantage of the situation to grab my hand and turn it over. His thumb runs over my fingertip and I jerk away. “Hey, don’t forget rules. No hand holding, remember?”

“Technically it’s not holding hands if I’m holding yours, but you’re not holding mine.”

“That sounds like a very loose loophole.” I want him to find more like that.

“What can I say …” he starts, taking hold of my hand again. “I’m king of semantics.”

I don’t move away again because it feels nice. The warmth of his palm on the back of my hand, the grip of his fingers threaded between mine. I’m so focused on how our skin tones look against each other that I barely notice him lean in.

“So … we never discussed whether I could put my arm around you.” He doesn’t wait for me to answer as he slides his arm between my back and the wall. “So I’m assuming it’s okay. We’re just two buddies, keeping each other warm …”

His face is so close I could count every one of those long, dark eyelashes. I swallow. “Well … it is really cold, after all.”

“Happy to be of service.” His dark lips peel back from his teeth in a cheeky way and his arm tightens around my waist, pulling me tight against his side. “But remember, Brooks, no kissing.”

The word makes me want it so bad. I shake my head. “No kissing.” My face is freezing in the crisp wind.

“You should probably stop looking at my lips then,” Darien says.

“Actually, you just had something in your teeth.”

“And you should probably stop shivering against me.”

“It’s really damn cold, Darien.”

“You could also try to be a little less cute.”

“What can I say? Christmas sweaters are irresistible.”

Darien leans in and my stomach jumps, sure he’s about to kiss me. I can already feel it.

The brush of his lips.

The heat of his breath.

The complete break down of my self-control.

But instead, Darien’s mouth misses mine and he lightly drags his nose over my cheek. “Your face is all pink and cold.”

“Darien …”

“You never said this was against the rules,” he whispered, lips brushing the skin near my ear with each word.

I’m struggling to breathe. “I don’t think buddies touch like this.”

“Well we’ve already established neither of us has any friends, so how would we know?”

I groan but it gets caught on a cough that’s a little more forceful this time. Rough and loud and deep, I can’t hold this one back. “I really have to go back inside.”

Darien pulls back, eyebrows knit together. He hesitates a second before nodding slowly. “Yeah, I’m getting pretty cold too.”

But even back inside, without his hand on mine or my body next to his, I feel colder than ever.

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In Case You Missed It by S.M. James: Exclusive Excerpt & Giveaway!

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Exclusive Excerpt from In Case You Missed It

by S.M. James

Darien tugs me into the shade of an awning and we fall back onto a lawn chair by the pool, barely fitting side by side. He reaches over and takes my drink, raising his eyebrows a little as if to check I’m done. It’s still half full, but I stopped drinking it a while ago. I watch as he lifts the cup to his lips, greedily eyeing his throat as he takes a gulp.

“So why don’t you want to sing?” he asks.

I shrug, shoulder bumping his. “I just don’t like singing in front of people.”

“You’re fantastic at it though.”

“Maybe, but … I’ve never had formal lessons so my voice is kind of flat, plus the CF makes it harder to breathe right.”

“Oh.” He turns toward me, gaze sweeping my face. “Sorry I asked.”

“Don’t be.” And I laugh a little because I was so determined to keep everything from him, now all I want is to share it all. “How else would you get to know me better?”

He frowns a little. “You seem … lighter?”

“I feel lighter. I’m glad you know. And … even though I asked you to back off all week, you haven’t stopped being there for me.” The corners of my lips tug into a smile as I look back up at the sky.

“Your parents told you?”

I snort. “Maybe living with your loud parents has made you deaf, but you’re not exactly quiet. It was nice. This feels nice.”

Darien catches my hand in his and presses a kiss to my knuckles. “I know exactly what you mean.”

We sit there grinning at each other, and if anyone else were in my position, I’d never let them live down being such a lovesick fool. But fuck it feels good. To be the sole focus of his attention, to feel his sun-warmed body stretched out next to me, this sudden, dependable presence in my life.

“I love looking at your face … but we have a problem.” His eyebrows tilt up as his mouth purses in seriousness.


He presses his mouth to my ear. “You’re still wearing too many clothes.”

I laugh, relief washing over me that it wasn’t anything serious. And when his hands find the bottom of my t-shirt and push it up, I don’t try to stop him, self-consciousness be damned.

He hums his approval then locks an arm around my waist, hauling me to my feet.

“What are you—”

He drags me toward the pool.

“Darien …”

“Swim time.”

With one solid tug, my feet leave the ground, and I’m suspended against him for a full second before the cold water explodes around us. He releases me to swim back to the surface, but as soon as my head breaks the surface, he drifts toward me again.

His grin is a full burst of dimples and twinkling eyes. “Your hair looks pretty,” he teases as I push the sopping curls back from my forehead.

“You are such a pain in my ass.”

“Are you propositioning me?”

My eyes bug, and I slap a wave of water at his face. “Mind out of the gutter, thanks.”

“The gutter definitely isn’t where I’m imagining our first time.”

I laugh, treading water, the heat in my face receding. “So?”

“So what?” he asks.

“Where are you imagining it?”

“Ah …” Darien pulls me to the side of the pool, one arm propped over the tile, the other hand finding my waist. “I can’t give away all my secrets, can I?”

I cuddle in closer to him, trying to deter the goose bumps creeping over my skin. “That’s okay. You can show me. One day. Maybe soon.”

He smiles softly as Cameron’s band starts playing what I place as a Bruno Mars song.

Darien’s lips ghost over my cheek and up to the freckles over my temple. “To one day, maybe soon,” he whispers.

I lean into his kisses. “To one day, maybe soon.”

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Cover Reveal: In Case You Missed It by S.M. James + Excerpt & Giveaway!

In Case You Missed It

by S.M. James

Brooks is convinced his life is totally, one hundred percent happy. 

Until Darien tracks him down.

Darien was supposed to be the guy he kissed once and remembered forever, but now he’s back in Brooks’s life, with easy smiles and big ideas.

The first of which … show the homeschooled Brooks everything he’s missed out on. But as the pair work through a spring of playing catch up on life, it becomes obvious to Darien that Brooks has a secret. 

And as things heat up between them, Brooks’s secret might just be Darien’s worst fear.

Because Darien has always lived in the moment. 

But Brooks has always lived for the future he knows is inevitable. 

When life is set to tear them apart, will love be enough to keep them together?


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To Be Honest by S.M. James: Exclusive Excerpt & Giveaway!

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Exclusive Excerpt from To Be Honest

by S.M. James

Tyler’s got tickets to some steamboat thing next morning and Link flat out refuses to go because of his sea sickness. I feel bad for the relief that washes over me at getting away from Anah, but this road trip is making it very clear that even the closest of friends can’t handle so much time in each other’s pockets.

The Steamboat Natchez has a huge paddle wheel at the back that cuts through the murky water of the Mississippi. There’s jazz music playing inside and we make our way to the upper deck to stand out at the balcony. It’s such a perfect day, I can barely believe our luck.

This time Tyler’s wearing a baseball hat, keeping his hair under control, and I kind of miss the red wig.

“What are you smirking about?” he asks, as he licks his lips. I don’t even think he realizes he’s done it.

“Your hair is safe,” I say, tweaking the brim of his hat.

“Yeah.” He grimaces. “I actually had to brush it last time. Not an experience I ever want to relive.”

“Fair enough.”

“So, how are you enjoying your road trip?”

Hmm … now that’s an interesting question. I cross my arms over the handrail and pretend to be interested in the people on the lower deck as I think. “It’s been an experience.”

“And now for a real answer?” He arches an eyebrow at me and there’s a knowing kind of spark in his eye.

“Okay. I’ve both loved and hated it.”

“Me too.”

Of course he has. Tyler is basically my straight soul mate. It’s unbelievable how we just get each other. I nod. “I hate the lack of privacy, but love how much I’ve experienced, and how it’s making me look differently at myself.”

“That’s really good, Angus.”

I smile. “What about you?”

“I’ve also hated the lack of privacy. But loved spending so much time with you.”

My stomach swoops as my head snaps toward him, and I’m sure the smile I’m wearing is all kinds of ridiculous. “Yeah. I meant that too.”

“Sure you did.” He sniggers, nudging his elbow into mine.

“No, seriously. Link’s a pain in the ass, Anah is getting on my nerves, but you’re basically perfect.” And I shut up there before I start going overboard and really embarrass myself.

He props his chin on his palm and kind of looks at me out of the corner of his eye. I keep waiting for him to say something that never comes.

Shit—have I just given myself away?

Tyler’s uncharacteristically quiet all through the trip and even as we’re leaving the boat, he’s still randomly giving me those weird side-eye looks.

My stomach squirms at the thought I’ve made him uncomfortable.

I want to say something to take it back, to make everything better, but my brain is so blank it might as well be switched off.

We head for the lunch place where we’re meeting Anah and Link, and it’s like a switch has flipped. Tyler goes from pensive to excitable and if I didn’t know any better, I would’ve thought he’d taken something. I push the weird olive pasta around my plate with my fork, as Tyler, Link, and Anah flow from one conversation to the next so quickly I can’t keep up. It’s like the last week never happened.

Anah explodes into fits of giggles, slapping her hand over her mouth. Tyler looks pretty proud of himself as Link claps him on the shoulder. The touch is so quick and casual, I can’t help wonder what it would be like to be able to touch Tyler without my heart going haywire. He’s wearing his glasses again, and where he would normally catch my eye during a lull in conversation, he seems to be making a concentrated effort not to look at me.

I push my plate into the middle of the table, appetite well and truly gone.

“So I’m assuming we’re going to the parade tonight,” Anah says, looking to me for confirmation.

“That’s where I’ll be. You guys can do whatever you want.” It definitely comes out with more attitude than I mean.

After lunch, we head back to the hotel to get ready. Even through the thick glass of our hotel room window, I can make out the sounds from the street below. There already seems to be hundreds of people out there, and this burst of determination tears through me, spurred on by my deep-seated insecurities over Scotty.

I spend longer than usual getting ready. Anah does my hair in that stylish, messy way she did in New York, and as I watch her line her eyes with a dark black pencil, this idea comes to me.

“Guys wear that too, right?” I ask, hesitantly. The last thing I want is for her to think I’m being all girly, but the few guys I’ve seen wear eyeliner looked ridiculously hot. And I really want to hook up with someone tonight.

A slow, cheeky smile unfurls across her face. “Angus, my darling, I thought you’d never ask.”

She follows my instructions to make sure it’s subtle, but somehow I end up with glitter powder all under my eyes and over my cheekbones.

I stare at myself in the mirror, nose scrunched up, as I seriously deliberate whether or not to wash it off. It’s a bit much, super obvious against my dark skin, but I can’t stop looking at myself.

Tyler joins us, and his eyes are trained to the mirror as he messes with his hair.

I wait for him to notice, but either he’s seriously concerned about getting his hair right, or he’s doing that thing where he’s not looking at me again.

I clear my throat. “How does it look?”

Tyler glances at my reflection, and legitimately does a double take. He turns to face me properly and doesn’t say anything for a second. “Wow.”

“Is it too much?”

He jerks his head to the side a little, like he’s shooing a fly, and he doesn’t seem to know what to say. His eyes are all wide, and his lips are parted just barely, in a way that really makes me want to kiss him.

“Come here, T,” Anah says, stepping between us and breaking the moment. She attacks him with the eyeliner too, and once his normally unruly hair is parted low on the side and big on top, he’s not adorkable anymore.

Just looking at him makes my blood burn.

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Honorary Blogger S.M. James: Why Do You Write Gay Characters? + Exclusive Excerpt & Giveaway!


Why Do You Write Gay Characters?

by S.M. James

A question I’m asked a lot is: “Why do you write gay characters?”

My answer: “Because everyone deserves to see themselves in a book.”

Young adult books have always been my jam and when I began writing them around ten years ago, I was real unsettled by the lack of diversity in the books I was picking up to read.

I didn’t know what my issue was at first. The plots were great, the characters were engaging, but there was just something … missing.

I’m not sure exactly when it happened but the ‘We Need Diverse Books’ movement took hold and it was like this massive haze had been lifted. I started to actively seek out diverse books and consume them by the truck load. I couldn’t get enough. And with the reader demand, publishers stepped up. At one point I thought I’d read close to every diverse book I could find, now my TBR pile is overflowing.

It was at this point I really fell in love with LGBT+ literature. While it was a big part of my real life, I’d failed to see it represented well (or at all, in YA) and it was very clear the ‘bury your gays’ trope was alive and running rampant.

Why the hell couldn’t a non-hetero, non-cis person have a happily ever after? And why couldn’t they – GASP – be the main character?

I started to go beyond traditional publishing to buy up just about every happy-ending queer book I could find, no matter whether I planned to read it or not. And there were a lot more options than I thought.

Up until that point I’d only ever written in the fantasy genre, but as I read more and more contemporary, I was itching to try and write one. I still had far too many ideas to get to my agent but in between those projects, I quietly worked on bringing Archie and Landon to life.

It wasn’t until I was scrolling through Twitter one day, that I saw an announcement I remember making me stop. A book had sold—a GAY book had sold. Traditionally. For a lot. The author had sent out a random query to a well-known agent, who offered her representation the next day. A week later, the book went to auction, and Becky Albertalli’s career was launched. I picked up Simon vs on release day and fell in love.

It gave me hope that Archie and Landon could have the happily ever after I planned for them.

I finished That Feeling When late last year, assuming it would join the line of titles waiting on my agent to read. While I waited, I started work on a high fantasy with a FF romance.

TFW just … sat there.

And sat there.

That’s when I decided this one would be my indie debut. I had a heap more planned for the series, with characters I couldn’t wait to get out there, and indie authors had been leading the way in LGBT+ romance for years before the traditional publishing houses caught up. It just made sense.

I knew it would be expensive. I knew there’d be people who wouldn’t read it because it wasn’t from one of the Big 4. I knew it would be a hell of a lot of work.

And I was totally cool with all that.

Because everyone deserves to see themselves in a book.

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Categories: Book Promo, Excerpts, Giveaways, Honorary Blogger Post, LGBT, Published in 2018 | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment