Yesterday morning, I woke up to the first tiny smidge of white dusting rooftops and dustbins. There really wasn’t enough to cover the grass, but since I didn’t have to drive anywhere, the sight cheered me and lured me out of the house for a walk. England doesn’t get a lot of snow, and when we do it tends to create havoc. I do like snow, so I was grinning when I saw the title of J.V. Speyer’s story: Snowed In! And that was before I realised it’s a second-chance romance…one of my favourite tropes. Just the thing for a cosy evening in front of the fire, wouldn’t you agree. And if you read J.V. Speyer’s post and check out the excerpt she’s brought us, then you’ll realise there’s a dog, too…
And now I’m really smiling. Enjoy! 🙂
Thank you so much for having me here, Jackie! I’m excited to be here and to talk about Snowed In: Ross and Ashton.
Snowed In: Ross and Ashton is part of a series released by JMS Books with a central theme. The main characters had to be snowed in somewhere. This was a challenging story for me to write, because I hate snow. I’ve been snowed in. I’ve even been snowed in with an ex. (There were no sexy times. I warded him off with a cat, who coughed up a hairball on him.)
But I do love second chance romance stories, and what better opportunity to have two people who love each other sit down and work out their issues than stick them into a place they literally cannot leave? Having them take shelter from a blizzard together – specifically from a nor’easter, the kind of winter storm we only really get here in New England – seemed like a perfect opportunity. I might have had to write while sitting under a huge pile of blankets, even in July, but we do these things when we want our characters to suffer to get the job done.
There are three main characters in Snowed In: Ross and Ashton. Ross is a State Trooper, the guy you try not to make eye contact with as you zoom down the highway doing twenty miles per hour over the speed limit. He loves his job. He doesn’t have ambitions to make it to detective, or the bomb squad, or anything like that. He likes working patrol. He likes the opportunities he gets in that position. He’s been out and proud most of his life.
Ash Machado was, until recently, a war correspondent. He was that guy you see on TV, standing there while bullets go whizzing by him in some war zone whose name you might not be able to pronounce, bringing the story of what was happening there to people sitting in their living rooms back home. It was the job he wanted most in the world, the one he’d prepared for. A serious injury forced him out of the field and into a new job, so now he’s back in Boston. When he was in college and dating Ross, he was closeted. Now he’s not, but there are other issues to contend with.
And the third main character – I guess he’s more of a supporting character, but I loved writing him just that much – is Porthos, the dog. Porthos was a street dog in Syria who Ash rescued as a puppy. He now goes everywhere with Ash, just out of habit.
But wait. Why is there a dog? I can here some folks scratching their heads from here.
Well, for one thing, a second chance romance in which two people are stuck in a house for days runs the risk of getting either dull, or unpleasantly melodramatic. I needed something to relieve the monotony, and to take the focus off of some of the problems these guys had.
For another, I really like animals. I was working three different day jobs while I wrote this. If I was going to do the work, I was going to include factors that brought a smile to my face. In my head, Porthos looks like the dog I had when I was a little girl, a German Shepherd named Boots. Some of the behaviors are the same as Boots’, and some of the behaviors are more like the Golden I lost a year before I wrote this.
Finally, a lot of what we see of Ash’s life on the page isn’t so great. He talks about some of the things that are good, but those aspects aren’t right there in the house with them so his life feels worse as a reader than it is. He’s had a serious injury that required him to give up his dream job and he’s in constant pain. I wanted Ash to have something visible and tangible in his life that was good, something he didn’t just talk about but something the reader could see.
Even though snow is the bane of my existence, I had a lot of fun writing Snowed In: Ross and Ashton. Both Ross and Ash were interesting to write and playing in their headspaces was a good time for me. I learned a lot while writing this, too. I learned about snow loads, about carbon monoxide, and that I can find a way to enjoy a topic that scares me if I set my mind to do so. I hope you get as much of a kick out of these guys as I did!
Thanks again, Jackie, for a lovely time!
Snowed In: Ross and Ashton
Massachusetts State Trooper Ross Huber is giving one last sweep of the roads before heading in for the night. The nor’easter hitting the Boston area is worse than expected by an order of magnitude, and the governor has just issued a travel ban. He finds a wrecked car half buried in a snowbank and rescues its human and canine occupants from carbon monoxide poisoning, but is forced to take shelter with them in a vacant or abandoned house when the roads are blocked.
When he gets the victims indoors, he thinks the human looks uncomfortably familiar…
Ash Machado has been through a lot in his career as a war correspondent. Sidelined by an injury, he’s returned to Boston to take up a job as a news anchor. After he loses control of his car on an icy road, he wakes up in an unfamiliar home, looking into the face of the guy who broke his heart in college.
Neither Ross nor Ash are the same guys they were in college, but they’re trapped in the abandoned house with no place to go. Can they get past old hurts long enough to get through the storm, or will the same misunderstandings that drove them apart years ago make this confinement unbearable?
Excerpt from Snowed In: Ross and Ashton
Porthos looked up and let his ears go back. The dog clearly had a pretty strong bond with Mysterio, whoever he was. He wasn’t letting anyone else get close. “You’re okay, buddy,” he said, holding his hands out. “I’m not going to hurt your human, okay? I’m going to stay right here until he wakes up.”
Mysterio opened one eye. “You get he’s a dog, right?” he croaked, in a voice so much like Ash’s cranky morning voice Ross almost cried. “I mean he’s a good dog, but his English is only kind of so-so.”
Porthos stuck his nose under Mysterio’s arm, and Mysterio rolled over onto his back with a grimace. The guy was way too young to be moving around like he was arthritic, so what else could be wrong with him? “I suppose you speak canine, then?” Ross asked with a little chuckle. He’d met people who made stranger claims. “I met one guy who said he couldn’t train his Havanese until he established his dominance over it. The
thing was positively feral.”
Mysterio chuckled, giving a grin that made Ross’ insides melt. “No, no, that’s not it at all. It’s—really? He couldn’t train a dog until he ‘established his dominance?’” The guy hoisted himself into a sitting position and raised his eyebrows in shock.
“That’s a new one on me, man. I don’t think I’ve ever heard something so ridiculous. Did he read that in some self-help book or something?”
“I didn’t ask. I just wrote the ticket. The thing was trying to bite me through the rear window the whole time. Like a little piece of popcorn with teeth.” Ross chuckled at the memory.
“I’ll bet. No, I brought Porthos back from my last assignment in Syria.” A shadow fell over Mysterio’s face for a second. “It took a little bit of doing, but I managed it. He stayed with me the whole time. I saved him, and he wound up saving me. I guess it worked out, hey big guy?” He scratched behind his dog’s ears, adoringly.
“Were you a soldier?” Ross leaned forward a little.
“No. War correspondent with one of the big networks.” Mysterio looked up from his dog, and again, he looked enough like Ash in that moment to make Ross’ heart hurt. “We don’t get guns, I’m afraid. Just cameras.”
“Doesn’t that make you better off? Like, safer?” Ross licked his lips. The press was supposed to be safe, right?
“Not even a little bit.” Mysterio flattened his lips for a second. Then he struggled painfully to his feet. “So. What are the odds that the previous residents left any food around here?” He shuffled off toward the kitchen. Porthos followed. It was hard to
say whether the shaggy dog followed out of loyalty or hopes of breakfast, but he followed.
Ross watched him go. What was it about this guy that got under his skin so badly? Was it the position of vulnerability in which Ross had found him? The resemblance to Ash, the guy who’d all but torn his heart out and taken it with him back in college? Christ, he couldn’t walk past a closet without remembering Ash. The guy had been everything Ross could have wanted in a guy, except his lack of acceptance.
What was Ash doing now? Part of Ross hoped he was thriving and doing something he loved, skiing out west or something like that. Maybe he’d made the Olympic team, wouldn’t that be nice? Another, pettier part of Ross hoped he was miserable. Ross would have done anything for him, if only Ash had been willing to come out.
About J.V. Speyer
J. V. Speyer has lived in upstate New York and rural Catalonia before making the greater Boston, Massachusetts area her permanent home. She has worked in archaeology, security, accountancy, finance, and non-profit management. She currently lives just south of Boston in a house old enough to remember when her town was a tavern community with a farming problem.
J. V. finds most of her inspiration from music. Her tastes run the gamut from traditional to industrial and back again. When not writing she can usually be found enjoying a baseball game or avoiding direct sunlight. She’s learning to crochet so she can make blankets to fortify herself against the cold.
J. V. can be found on Twitter at @JVSpeyer, or on Facebook.
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