New Releases: Once in May and Happy Endings by Ofelia Gränd

Title: Once in May (Nortown #3)
Author: Ofelia Gränd
Genre: LGBT, Romance and Relationships, Erotic, Adult, Holidays and Celebrations
Published: 1st September, 2016
Length: 41,000 words (160 pages) approx.
ISBN: 978 1 78645 078 4
Formats: ebook (epub, mobi, PDF)

In an attempt to run from his past, John 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 or preferably out of sight. During weak moments, he might wish he had someone, but he's not ready. After all, it takes seven years for the body to replace all its cells. He has four years to go before he even can think about being around people.

Zachary is always on the move, always on his way to somewhere. He's going from job to job, from country to country. Contrary to what people might think, he wants nothing more than to find a place to call home, and he knows just where. This time, he is ready. This time, he will stay in Nortown. But when he arrives to buy the log cabin he thought would be his, he finds it inhabited. When he goes to talk to the new owner, he is met by the most beautiful green eyes followed by a door slammed in his face.

John should've known the peace he had found in Nortown wouldn't last. One day everything was fine, the next a mountain of a man starts showing up wherever he goes. All Zachary wants is to be close to the quiet man who has moved into his cabin. If following him around is the only way, then so be it. Sooner or later, John will get used to having him least, if Zachary hangs around long enough.

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Title: Happy Endings (Nortown #3.5)
Author: Ofelia Gränd
Genre: LGBT, Romance and Relationships, Erotic, Short Stories, Adult
Published: 1st September, 2016
Length: 8,000 words (36 pages) approx.
ISBN: 978 1 78645 079 1
Formats: ebook (epub, mobi, PDF)

Tristan knows something is wrong. Aiden is acting weird. He shies away from Tristan's touch, goes to bed early, and is obsessed with working long hours in his massage studio.

Aiden's back is killing him, but he can't let Tristan know. If Tristan knows, he'll insist on Aiden taking time off, and he can't. It's important to appear professional, and he needs the money. Tristan can't keep paying their bills forever.

Tristan will figure out what's bothering Aiden, but first, he's going to enjoy his weekly massage - unless, somehow, he can convince Aiden to switch places with him. Either way, he's going to enjoy it.

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Once in May and Happy Endings are the latest offerings from Ofelia Gränd and part of the Nortown series - stories about lumberjacks falling in love.

Some interesting facts about Nortown:
  • It's a small, fictional town, probably in some remote, heavily forested part of Sweden.
  • The population primarily consists of bearded lumberjacks who own acres of forest, live in really cold cabins and are more than likely gay.
  • In spite of the only businesses in town being a café and lumberjacking, someone thought it would be a great idea to set up a massage parlour there. That's not so bizarre, now I think about it. All that axe swinging and lumber lugging has gotta play havoc with the old shoulders and lower back.
I love the world Ofelia has created in the Nortown series. I don't care that the population is disproportionately male and gay. I don't care that in real life I'm none too fond of beardies. It doesn't matter that I've never been anywhere anything like Nortown.

I was going to say I've never met anyone remotely like Tristan, Tom or Zachary, but I only have to pop down the road to the Ringtail Industrial Estate to our 'female friendly' timber merchant (yes, they put it on a sign on the perimeter fence - I think I may have played a part in that, although that wasn't quite what I meant, lads, but anyway...) to find men just like them, whose seemingly sole mode of communication is grunting in various timbres, and who appear mystified by women. Who are these delicate creatures? What do they want? Why are they here?

Hm. Maybe Nortown's demography isn't skewed after all.

Perhaps I should explain why my tone is a little flippant, or, in fact, let the author explain. In the acknowledgements of Once in a Snowstorm (Nortown #1), she says:
"This story started out as a joke. I read a thread on Goodreads about tropes in M/M Romance and was laughing at all the things mentioned there. I told Amy Spector and Al Stewart about it and said that I would write a story including as many of them as I could possibly piece together. That was how it started, and though there is still a healthy dose of the clichés I often laugh at in this story, I started to care about my characters."
Never has that care for the characters been more apparent than in Once in May (Nortown #3), released today (September 1st, 2016), along with Happy Endings (Nortown #3.5).

I'm going to deal with Happy Endings first, because it's only a short story, and, it has to be said, Once in May is an absolute showstopper, so it deserves spotlights and fireworks and all that celebratory stuff.


Happy Endings
This short (just under 8,000 words) continues the story of Tristan and Aiden, who are the stars of Once in a Snowstorm (Nortown #1), and who already experienced a brief reprise in The Empty Egg (Nortown #2.5 - 4,600 words of fudge and smut).

Of all the grunting beardies in Nortown, the prize has to go to Tristan (his dog is called Og), so it's not really surprising that a few months down the line (or years? or weeks? does time exist in Nortown?) Tristan and Aiden still haven't quite nailed communication. The outcome is a rather delicious session in a massage parlour, where Tristan puts his tender touch to good effect, and Aiden thanks his lucky star it wasn't eucalyptus oil in that bottle.

This is a fun, short steamy read, easy on the angst, heavy on the lavender-based lube.

Once in May
I honestly never thought I'd get tearful at a Nortown story. The first story was the trope slayer; the second...well, I loved Tom, but mostly I wanted to tell Jason to leave his dog and go back to the city. He grew on me, a little. However, I, like most readers of the series, was very interested in John - the shy, socially anxious guy who makes a few significant yet fleeting appearances in Once in a Forest (Nortown #2).

Once in May is John's story. It's also Zachary's story, and these two guys...well, they're not the grunting beardies we've met before. True, Zach's got the beard and checked shirt going on. He's big, muscular, and if he looks anything like the cover...phew! *fans face*

Actually, on that note, the covers are all designed by Ofelia and they're awesome! (IMHO. Not that humble. The covers rock, I don't care if you don't agree.)

Both John and Zachary have complex and difficult pasts, and these create some intense emotional scenes - a content warning here for PTSD, spousal abuse, homophobic parents and frighteningly clingy ex-boyfriends. The outcome of the story (given it's a romance) is a happy one, but there are moments in this book that knocked me sideways, and I read/write a lot of tough stuff.

I really can't do justice to this story without spoiling it, but this one short sentence - about Zach - is the key to what makes it special, even if Zach's methods are a bit heavy-handed, but hey, he's a grunting beardy lumberjack who wields an axe like the pro he is.
All he wanted was to see John smile.
These two additions bring the total word count for the Nortown series to 114,828 words!

And (sorry, but it has to be said) that's a lot of bang for your buck.

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About Ofelia Gränd
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 contemporary and paranormal, and dreams about one day writing a post-apocalyptic story—if that ever happens we'll see.

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 husband and children, she likes to take walks in the woods. She's recently discovered the miracle of podcasts and spends her strolls listening to wise people talk.

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Once in May Purchase Links:

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Happy Endings Purchase Links: