Today I am so pleased to welcome Susan Laine to Joyfully Jay. Susan has come to talk to us about her latest release, Sauna Lover. She has also brought along an excerpt and a great giveaway. Please join me in giving Susan a big welcome!
I’m a Finn, and I love saunas. We have so many saunas in Finland, in fact, that all Finns could fit in them at once. We have a whole sauna culture wrapped around the experience, we grew up on it, and we’re always eager to show newbies how wonderful the sensations can be.
Traditionally saunas were buildings or spaces reserved for communal or familial bathing and cleansing, but also for giving birth, healing the sick, and purifying the dead. They offer both dry and wet heat, steam and humidity, high heat and and moist pressure, quiet and rest. Finns have numerous terms associated with saunas, like löyly (steam vapor) and kiuas (sauna stove) and saunatonttu (a special sauna spirit, like a gnome).
Saunas are places that evoke ideas and fantasies. The clean warmth, the scents of body oils, shampoos and soaps, smells of tar and birch and smoke, basking and bathing in sweet moist heat, hot towels and fresh waters, wooden buckets and large ladles, nudity and companionship, stimulation of the senses through sweat and smiles.
Saunas were and are natural gathering places for men and women to relish and savor the intense steamy heat while enjoying the lift in spirit that comes with the experience. From simple fireplaces of heated stones and water thrown over them to create steam to heat the air to modern infrared saunas to heat the surrounding walls and other objects, with swimming pools and gyms or special services, like hydrotherapy, mud baths or steam rooms, attached.
Practically every culture in the world has a concept similar to the sauna. Be they Turkish hammams, ancient thermae, Native American sweat lodges, or Japanese sent?s. There must be something fundamental and basic about the sauna that calls to our human spirit. Odors of aromatic fumes spreading through heated air, with gentle moisture descending on our skin in soft clouds, beckons us to treasure the sweet benediction that can only come from the sauna.
“OH. OH. Oh!” I moaned in delight.
“I know.” I could hear the smirk in Toby’s voice, and it made me grin too.
I breathed in the overwhelming scent of smoke and tar as I sat comfortably on the top bench of Toby’s smoke sauna. The cloth under my naked butt was a bit rough and scratchy, but I liked the sensation nonetheless. The blackened logs around me drowned the intimate space under a veil of darkness, and I soaked up the ambience.
Toby tossed another ladleful of water onto the sauna stove, a pile of round rocks, reddened by the heat. Once again I was enveloped by a puff of hot steam so soft and smooth I felt like I was wrapped in a blanket of billowy summer clouds or cotton candy. No lover’s touch could ever rival this warm and wet caress, which was unlike any I had experienced before.
It was like bathing in steam, the smells of smoke and tar surrounding me, sinking into me. I sighed in bliss, and leaned back against the wall, closing my eyes and relaxing all the way.
“Your back’s gonna get all black,” Toby reminded me with a chuckle as he sat by my side.
I didn’t move or open my eyes. “Don’t care. This is perfect. Just divinely perfect.”
Toby’s kind, understanding snicker caught my ear a second before another vapor cloud was born from the stove as Toby threw more water onto the rocks. I felt him beside me, leaning back as well, a tiny exhale of contentment echoing in the small space.
“This is not quite like the smoke sauna at Hot Haven,” I remarked absentmindedly, not really needing to make conversation but speaking anyway. I felt this curious desire to hear his voice again.
“Ah, yes. Back there it only smells like a smoke sauna because of the sauna bathing scents in the water you throw on the stove. It’s still powered by electricity, not wood.”
The balmy clouds of smoky warmth indulged me in a way no other sauna had. Briefly I had to wonder if part of the reason was present company. “How did you come to have this sauna here? You didn’t build it yourself, did you?”
Toby’s soft chuckle surprisingly stirred my libido, firing up my groin. Unusual that, I thought, since I couldn’t remember getting aroused by Toby before. He was a nice guy but not the type to turn me on. Thankfully, it was too dark for him to see me half-hard. “Grandfather built this, along with the house, the woodshed, and the barn. He used to raise a small flock of sheep. My father discontinued that. The buildings are still erect”—I smothered a sudden coughing fit at his choice of words—“but only the house is in continuous use, plus this sauna. The woodshed needs repair, but I’ve been putting it off.” I heard him sigh quietly, saddened. “I may have to sell this place, too, to cover the financial losses of losing the business.”
I had forgotten, cocooned in the sweet dimness of moist heat, that the outside world awaited, and it was hungry, fueled by a cold, indifferent fire consuming all. I didn’t want to lose Hot Haven. I didn’t want to lose… Toby.
Timid, I swallowed hard. In the warm gloom I took Toby’s hand in mine, interlacing our fingers. I didn’t know what other comfort to offer right then.
It was hard to tell, but I think I saw Toby smile, and then he squeezed my hand, and I knew he felt better. “You really are my most loyal, faithful customer, Shawn. And a good friend. Your support means a lot to me. Thanks.”
I was trembling like a leaf for reasons I couldn’t define. I had known Toby for years. Why did I quiver inside and out now when he said those things to me? “No problem,” I replied lamely.
Toby nudged me on the arm again with his shoulder, and I felt reasonably reassured.
When Shawn Wells learns a planned development project threatens the quaint gay neighborhood of Trickstown, he jumps into action. This is his home turf. Plus, his favorite hangout, bathhouse Hot Haven, is the heart of the community–along with its owner, Toby Macintyre, who has been a sort-of friend to Shawn for years.
Surprisingly, Toby seems opposed to Shawn’s community-wide campaign to save the uniqueness and unity of the area. Even so, an unexpected attraction sparks between them, further fanning the flames of change.
Shawn has to fight for the future of his community, his beloved bathhouse, and for Toby. The sauna lover quickly finds himself in some real hot water.
Susan Laine is an award-winning, multi-published author of LGBT erotic romance. Susan lives in Finland, where summers are wet and winters long. Thankfully, the spark for writing, which kindled when Susan discovered the sizzling hot gay erotic romance genre, keeps her plenty warm.
Trained as an anthropologist, Susan’s long-term plan is to become a full-time writer. Susan enjoys hanging out with her sister, two nieces and friends in movie theaters, bookstores, and parks. Her favorite pastimes include listening to music, watching action flicks, eating chocolate, and doing the dishes while pondering the meaning of life.
Susan has brought a copy of Sauna Lover (or any of her titles) to give away to one lucky reader. Just leave a comment at the end of the post to enter. The contest ends on Thursday, January 29th at 11:59 pm EST.
- By entering the giveaway, you’re confirming that you are at least 18 years old.
- Winners will be selected by random number. No purchase necessary to win. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning.
- If you win, you must respond to my email within 48 hours or another winner may be chosen. Please make sure that your spam filter allows email from Joyfully Jay.
- Winners may be announced on the blog following the contest. By entering the contest you are agreeing to allow your name to be posted and promoted as the contest winner by Joyfully Jay.
- Prizes will be distributed following the giveaway either by Joyfully Jay or the person/organization donating the prize.
- By entering you are agreeing to hold Joyfully Jay harmless if the prize or giveaway in some way negatively impacts the winner.
- Readers may only enter once for each contest. Duplicate entries for the same giveaway will be ignored. In the event of technical problems with the blog during the contest, every effort will be made to extend the contest deadline to allow for additional entries.
- Void where prohibited by law.