An anthology of short fiction featuring the finalist selections from the 2021 Saints+Sinners Literary Festival.
Romance is in the air on this detour to love.
High-flying executive Celia Scott is on her way to Tokyo to accept a prestigious award heavy with emotional baggage. She’ll make the trip, but she doesn’t have to like it, and she certainly doesn’t have to make nice with a stranger on a plane.
Artist Lily Andersen is excited to finally meet her online crush, the only person in the world who truly gets her. She just needs to survive the eleven-hour flight from London to Japan with a testy seatmate who by turns annoys and fascinates her.
Fate, upgrades, and a troupe of travelling clowns bring them together for a journey memorable for all the wrong reasons. Not only do they have nothing in common, they really can’t stand each other. But people are not always as they seem, and Celia and Lily are about to realise, there’s more than one path to love.
Praise from Publishers Weekly: "This charming, low-heat lesbian romance from Radley brings together an unlikely pair of women, both at dark points in their lives, on an eventful plane ride...As their unexpected relationship grows through misadventure and mutual support, readers will grow to care about both characters, too. The result is a sweet love story that’s sure to please."
By Gun Brooke
High school counselor Aislin Kennedy’s charisma and exuberance mask deep scars that prevent her from letting anyone too close. Instead, she throws herself into helping her students. CEO of a fashion conglomerate, Susanna Garry has been through three painfully public divorces, and to say she’s given up on love would be an understatement.
When Aislin agrees to help Susanna connect with her daughter, Cynt, surprising feelings awaken for both of them. But Aislin isn’t ready to trust again and Susanna’s track record is intimidating. If the past were to repeat itself, it could break Aislin for good.
As a baron’s youngest son, Hector Somerville has no real prospects. He will not inherit, and he’s overshadowed by two perfect brothers. While searching for ways to improve his situation, Hector finds respite in an invitation to a country estate—and has a second chance at rekindling his illicit affair with Viscount Wentworth, captain of HBMS Dragon. The upcoming fortnight could be everything Hector dreamed of since their disastrous parting.
Wentworth has forsaken love, and yet, memories of guilt and heartache resurface. He loved a boyhood friend once, Hector’s older brother William, until the man left him, trampling his heart in the process. Years later, he wonders if he ever fell out of love. Is his heart bound by William, or can he create a life with Hector?
By Suzie Clarke
All Rachel and Claire want is a peaceful life together, but danger strikes, threatening to shatter their hopes and dreams, putting their hearts, and their lives in jeopardy. Eshee Yumiko, head of SeaBridge, seeks revenge for the damage Rachel’s computer program trigger has caused, vowing to get even, no matter what it takes. Derrick refuses to accept Claire’s relationship with Rachel and her continued rejection of his advances. His escalating fixation on her slowly turns into a deadly obsession no one sees coming.
As their worlds collide, and choices come back to haunt them, Rachel and Claire realize that a strong love demands a strong heart.
The sequel to Moon Shadow
If there’s one thing Brooke Sullivan knows for sure it’s that people let you down, but that hasn’t stopped her from going after the life she wants. In a new city, with a new job and a new start as a high-end real estate agent, she’s finally back on her feet. The last thing she needs is a distraction. Not her volatile neighbors, not a damn stray cat, and certainly not the flaky, infuriatingly adorkable girl-next-door property stager she has to work with.
Macy Carr believes in soul mates and true love. She knows because she had it all until a freak accident took the love of her life. She’s doing okay though, surrounded by her family, her animals, and her BFFs. Home staging gives her a sense of control, and she’s made her job her happy place. If only the super sexy, super cold new agent working for Macy’s biggest client wasn’t determined to ruin that.
When Fiona’s friends drag her along on a two-week backpacking trip in the remote Colorado mountains, she’s pleasantly surprised to learn that she’ll be spending that entire trip with their attractive trail guide, Roz.
Once in the woods, however, far from anything resembling civilization, something or someone comes for them.
With their lives in danger, Fiona and Roz are forced to set off on their own to look for help, drawing the threat from the woods and away from their friends but directly toward them.
Praise from Publishers Weekly: "[N]onstop action and vivid depictions of the wilderness keeps the pages turning...[A] satisfying diversion."
Juliet Mitchell is doing just fine. Her career with the Shell Creek Police Department is on track, her son, Declan, is amazing, and for the first time in a long time, life is simple, if unremarkable. Until a dead body is found outside the Shell Creek Library.
Sienna Bennett doesn’t know how she ended up here. She’s overwhelmed as a big city victim advocate, her soon-to-be-ex-husband is living in their pool house, and she feels like her stepson, Declan, blames her for the state of their family. She needs something else to focus on.
Juliet and Sienna might share a history with Declan’s dad, but they’re nothing more than friendly acquaintances. When they’re thrown together in the midst of the biggest investigation Shell Creek has ever seen, neither anticipates a forbidden attraction. It definitely isn’t worth upending the life they’ve worked so hard for. Is it?
By MA Binfield
Sofia is tired: of touring, of her record company, of her fake boyfriend. After collapsing on stage, she’s forced to recuperate at her beach house.
Madison feels settled for the first time in a long while. She’s back home in Miami and her interior design business is thriving. So what if she’s a little lonely, the universe will send her someone when she’s ready. But Madison soon discovers the universe has a sick sense of humor when Sofia turns out to be her new client. Once upon a time, they were bandmates in America’s hottest girl band. Their biggest secret? They were in love—the forever and ever kind—until Sofia told Madison she was going solo.
Flung back into each other’s lives, each is forced to face the hurt they caused the other. But maybe, just maybe, Sofia’s new single, “Not This Time,” is the universe playing matchmaker again.
By Erin Zak
Cecily Yates should love her husband, but doesn’t. She should leave him, but hasn’t. Instead, she leads a safe life in Chicago and sees Willow Carmichael on the side. When Willow moves for a job opportunity in Las Vegas, their love affair comes to a screeching halt, leaving Cecily broken, guilty, and confused.
Francesca Lopez has everything she needs: family, friends, a great job, and glittery nonstop Las Vegas excitement. If she’d known her perfect life was going to be flipped upside down when none other than Willow Carmichael tore her way into it, she would’ve guarded her heart a little better.
While on a business trip in Las Vegas, Cecily meets Francesca by chance at a bar and they are inexplicably drawn to each other. What starts as friendship grows into more, beginning to heal Francesca’s heart and give Cecily the strength to be true to herself. But when they discover they have more in common than they think, the very person who bound them together may be the reason they’re ripped apart.
By St John Karp
Andre met his best friend Amy on a night like tonight. The way Amy tells it she had to stop him from climbing over the bar at Aunty Bob’s to punch the bartender, though if you ask Andre he’ll say, “What? That never happened. I don’t even know what you’re saying to me right now.”
Now Amy is worryingly missing in action, and Andre goes to Aunty Bob’s on a quest to find her. No sooner does he walk in with his depressingly heterosexual date than his best hat is spirited away by a lesbian in the throes of breaking up with her girlfriend. She in turn has it stolen from her when she starts a fight with two twinks at the bar. The hat makes its way around Aunty Bob’s from one head to another, giving glimpses into the dozens of stories playing out at the same time, unaware of each other but colliding in catastrophic ways. Can Andre find Amy before this party devolves into a nightmare of broken hearts, malevolent drag queens, and spontaneous human combustion? Or has it always happened this way, every night, at Aunty Bob’s Quake City Club?
By Louis Barr
Film star Diana Danning hires private eye Clint Steele to find her son, Shane, after he vanishes like smoke in the night. LAPD Captain Hal Flynn suspects Shane disappeared by choice; until Clint and Diana receive a late-night call from Jud Tucker, the most under-the-radar serial killer since Patrick Bateman. Tucker demands five million dollars within twenty-four hours, or nobody will ever find Shane's body.
With no time to lose, Clint turns to his former West Point barracks mate and best friend, Mars Hauser, to lend his cyber espionage and digital black ops skills to the case. As Clint, Mars, and Captain Flynn race against time to rescue Shane and bring Jud Tucker to justice, their greatest threat may be much closer than they know.
By Elle Spencer
Have you ever met someone and felt like you’ve known them in a thousand different lifetimes?
Lindsay Hall was a high school senior when she and her friend Patty discovered peach schnapps, listened to a past-life hypnosis CD, and got an up-close look at who she once was. And who she used to love. The knowledge of her past life has always haunted Lindsay. As her ex is happy to point out, it’s gotten in the way of her relationships too. Even her teenage daughter has politely suggested that she “get the eff over it.” Except she didn’t say eff.
Ren Christopher just wants a quick break before she starts a new job in Paris. She’s just extracted herself from a not-brief-enough, drama-filled relationship. A few weeks relaxing and hanging with her old college friend Deb is just what the doctor ordered. No pressure, no expectations, and absolutely no drama.
Everything is perfect until Lindsay faints at the sight of Ren.
An anthology of short fiction featuring the finalist selections from the 2020 Saints+Sinners Literary Festival.
By Diana Jean
Far from her Midwestern roots, Kathleen Schmitt is living in Tokyo as the project head for Personal Love Companion, a synthetic love robot made to match a customer's preference in personality and appearance. When Kathleen receives her own beta model for testing, she’s shocked to find her personalized robot is the exact replica of her neighbor, Yuriko Vellucci.
American-born engineer for the PLC project, Yuriko is sympathetic to Kathleen’s difficulties adjusting to Tokyo’s culture, but quickly realizes Kathleen will need her help if this transition—and the PLC project—is to be a success. With Yuriko to show her the way, Kathleen learns to socialize at an izakaya, find the best onsen in Nikko, party at a matsuri, buy doujinshii in Akihabara, fall in love with Japan, and, perhaps, fall for the person who showed it to her.
First Bold Strokes Books edition; previously published 2016.
By Suzie Clarke
Justice might be satisfying, but revenge is far sweeter.
Computer programmer Rachel Portola has a target on her back. She’s developed a top-secret program and her boss, Justin McKinney wants it and the millions it will bring on the open market. Even if it means murder.
When Rachel’s plane crashes and she and her friends are forced to hike through the Alaskan wilderness to survive, she thinks the worst is over. Rachel can finally focus on her attraction to her best friend Claire and the unexpected love they share.
But Justin’s not giving up. Armed with only her instincts and a sharp knife, Rachel’s in for the fight of her life to protect what’s hers. The odds are impossible, the future looks bleak, and with everything that matters on the line, Rachel’s not letting anything get in her way.
Silas Waite doesn’t want his big-C Conservative Alberta family to know he’s barely making rent. They’d see it as yet another sign that he’s not living up to the Waite family potential and muscle in on his life. When Silas unexpectedly needs a new roommate, he ends up with the gregarious—and gorgeous—personal trainer Constantino “Dino” Papadimitriou.
Silas’s parents try to browbeat him into visiting for Thanksgiving, where they’ll put him on display as an example of how they’re so tolerant for Silas’s brother’s political campaign, but Dino pretends to be his boyfriend to get him out of it, citing a prior commitment. The ruse works—until they receive an invitation to Silas’s sister’s last-minute wedding.
Silas loves his sister, Dino wouldn’t mind a chalet Christmas, and together, they could turn a family obligation into something fun. But after nine months of being roommates, then friends, and now “boyfriends,” Silas finds being with Dino way too easy, and being the son that his parents barely tolerate too hard. Something has to give, but luckily, it’s the season for giving. And maybe what Silas has to give is worth the biggest risk of all.
By MA Binfield
Where love is concerned, the smallest steps are often the hardest to take—especially when you’ve guarded your heart as carefully as Iris Miller has. Still bruised from a relationship that crashed and burned, and all the meaningless hookups that followed, Iris has given up on love and buttoned her feelings up tight.
But when Cameron Hansen joins Iris’s law firm and her soccer team, and even starts hanging out in her favorite bookstore, everything gets turned upside down. Beautiful, open, and forward, Cam is impossible to ignore, and Iris is surprised to find herself intrigued. Cam’s straight, happily engaged, and simply looking for a friend—or so it seems.
London’s bitterly cold winter makes winning their soccer championship almost as difficult as keeping their feelings in check, being honest with each other, and trying not to fall in love. Iris and Cam are about to discover the meaning of taking chances and following your heart, even if it means getting hurt.