Today I am so pleased to welcome the fabulous Rhys Ford to Joyfully Jay. Rhys has come to talk to us about her latest release, Absinthe of Malice. She has also brought along a great giveaway. Please join me in giving Rhys a big welcome!



Thank you all for following the Absinthe of Malice blog tour! This is the fifth novel in the series and well, is a different kind of book. This is a beginning of sorts, a resurrection for most of the band members and the first step in a journey they will take together. Miki, Damie, Forest and Rafe in a van. Together. Cross-country and playing their hearts and souls out.

With a bit of trouble and love along the way.

I hope you enjoy it and like Applejack Shots and Beer, the story I’ll be telling across the blog tour.

OH! And the giveaway! Because we always need a giveaway. And there will be ONE winner for EVERY blog tour stop!

Enter by leaving a comment below and win:

A $20 gift certificate to the online store of your choice
AND an Audiobook code from Audible
(which you can use on any audiobook or save for Tristan’s voicing of Absinthe)

See you on the Other Side.


Applejack Shots and Beer Part 9

Mouthful of whiskey

Sweat running down my back

Strings under my fingers

Amp cord hanging down slack

We gather here together

On stage for one more day

Stomp your feet and sing along

Rock and Blues are here to stay

— Roadshow Blues


“Get the door. Get the door!” Connor ducked under the pergola, hunched over the barbeque chicken and vegetables he’d pulled from the grill. The steel pan was hot, burdened with heaped over, steaming food, and the oven mitts he’d bought last week were too damned thin and too small, chafing his knuckles and the pan’s sides were burning the back of his fingers. “Forest!”

“Hold on,” Forest griped around a pot holder he’d clenched in his teeth. Fumbling for the screen panel’s handle, he let the mitt drop then yanked the door open, its ear-splitting screech reminding Con its tracks needed replacing. “Crap, it’s crazy out there. I can’t even see the fence.”

Con eased past Forest, stopping only long enough to give him a kiss before heading to the kitchen. The pan was cooling off rapidly but the mitts were going into the trash as soon as Connor could chuck them. He did a small dance with Quinn when his younger brother nearly bumped into him reaching for a wooden spoon on the kitchen’s butcher block island then cursed Rafe out in Gaelic when his friend picked off a piece of chicken skin from the pan.

“Andrade, you’re asking for a whipping,” Connor growled, shaking the mitts off his hands after sliding the pan onto the island. “Dinna Mum teach you not to sneak food from the plate?”

“Your mom might have but she ain’t here, is she, Morgan?” Rafe grinned at him, a cocky bright smile painting a light tease in his warm eyes.

“Same rules apply.” Connor rubbed his fingers. “’Sides, I’ve got to check the meat to make sure it’s done. The rain’s coming down too hard. Fire couldn’t fight it but I think we’re good.”

“Smells nice,” Quinn remarked softly. “You should let it rest a bit before cutting into it. The juices will be pink and it’ll look a bit rawer than it is. If you leave it for a minute or two, you’ll get a more accurate assessment about its doneness.”

His younger brother had their mother’s eyes, a fold of Irish green and citrine shining with a magpie’s cunning. The storm of intelligence brewing in their fractured emerald depths was oddly challenging, a bait Connor’d bit on more than a few times in his lifetime. Mostly, it was hard to swallow his baby brother’s irritatingly exacting competence and steel-trap memory but accepting Quinn’s advice was far easier to get down than the helpings of seared crow he’d eaten over the years.

Trusting Quinn was another matter. While unflinchingly honest and self-effacing, sometimes his younger brother with his sincere face and professor-serious voice could get a man to do the stupidest things because Quinn was in a teasing mood.

The advice over the chicken seemed solid and there wasn’t any harm in letting it sit. Unless he counted Rafe’s incessant need to peel off and eat every bit of broiled skin he could get loose.

“Step off, Andrade.” Connor elbowed his friend in the ribs and Quinn’s eyes narrowed.

It’d been months since Rafe’d somehow talked Quinn into a relationship and Connor had to admit, it was hard getting used to. Rafe spent most of their formative years bed-hopping with the best of them and spending long evenings at the pub, elbow to elbow with Sionn, Kane and Connor while they tried to put a dent in Finnegan’s kegs. Watching Rafe slide up behind Quinn and hug him was… unsettling but not as scary as Quinn’s silent, weighted notice of Con’s swipe into Rafe’s side.

It was common knowledge among the Morgan siblings that their passions ran deep but tempers and flaring angers were shallow flashes, rarely serious enough to merit anything more than a sincere apology. Fights were plentiful and short, a quicksilver flow from dust-up to hugs but their third—Quinn—was rarely a part of the skirmishes. He lingered and lurked on the edges of the battles, keeping his own counsel and pulling away before he could be tangled into anything too deep. He was a constant neutral, more likely to give a sibling a shrug and walk away than argue.

Until something made him pause, then Quinn became a force to be reckoned with and laid waste to whoever pushed him that final inch into anger.

That was in the look Connor got from Quinn when he sharply elbowed Rafe; a brief and deadly flicker of their mother fiery nature and a reminder of Q’s broiling nuclear wit coiling to strike.

“Ease off a bit, magpie,” Rafe teased Quinn, patting his belly with his callused fingertips. “Your brother’s been picking on me for years. It’s what friends do. ‘Sides, I can take him.”

“Right.” Quinn snorted at the same time as Connor then pushed Rafe away. “Where are the plates, Con?”

“On the table.” Forest padded in from the dining room, tossing the pot holder he’d dropped while opening the door for Connor onto the counter. “Those things suck, Con. Just so you know.”

“Yeah, I guessed. Burnt my damned hands carrying the pan in.” Snugging up against Forest, he held up his fingers. “Kiss and make them better?”

Then flipped off Rafe and Quinn as they made hacking noises behind Forest.

“So no eating in front of the game?” Rafe frowned. “I was promised a ball game. We called off band practice for food and game.”

“You called off band practice because Mom was heading over to Miki and Kane’s place with food and you didn’t want to be there in case she gave you shit about us missing the last two Sundays,” Quinn corrected.

“We were busy.” Rafe protested, hissing at Connor’s slapping the back of his hand inching towards the chicken pan.

“We were too lazy to get out of bed,” Quinn argued. “Da told me our asses better be in those chairs this Sunday or there’s going to be flying monkeys winging our way.”

“Fucking Damien and Sionn miss tons of dinners,” Rafe complained at the brothers. “Why do we have to—”

“Because she’s our mom,” Forest cut him off. “And well, Sionn’s a nephew so he’s cut more slack but the rest of us…it’s because it’s a family thing and that’s what we do.”

“Besides, it’s free food, lots of it and we get to catch up with each other at the table,” Connor pointed out. “Like I’m very interested in hearing about how the four of you plan on not killing each other. Very interested. Maybe we can even talk about that over dinner.”

“So long as we eat in the dining room.” Forest cut into a piece of chicken, separating the meat so Connor could check its doneness. “Because I sure as hell didn’t spend three weeks helping Con build that damned thing for no one to eat on it.”

“So you guys think you’re going to be fine?” Connor passed Quinn the grilled corn, deftly maneuvering around the beer bottle Forest put down in front of him. “I mean, sounds kind of rough on the nerves there. One van. Three egos.”

“Four,” Rafe commented, leaning back and patting his flat stomach. “Shit, I’m full.”

“Three. Forest doesn’t have an ego.” Con hooked his arm on the back of his lover’s chair. “Just you three assholes.”

“Yeah, of course. I forgot about the perfect happy unicorn.” Rafe winked at Forest who chuckled. “And I think we’ll be okay. We’re locked in a room with each other for hours on end trying to make music. If that doesn’t break you, nothing will.”

It hit Connor in that moment between Forest’s husky laugh and Rafe telling Quinn about how stubborn Miki could get about a line of music and what Damien did to cajole his brother into changing his mind that the man he loved was leaving him for weeks on end.

And the realization turned his heart to stone, a leaden, enormous weight pressing into the hollow of his chest.

The world’s noise grew distant, fading into the background until all that remained was Forest, laughing and talking while he leaned into Connor’s right side. The side he slept on. The ribs he liked to bite in the middle of the night when Connor rolled over and pinned him to the bed. The skin marbled with tiny bruises from those nips and the side Forest leaned over to give Connor a lingering kiss before they fell asleep each night.

He’d grown used to those kisses…needed those kisses… and damn the world for wanting to take Forest away from him before he’d had his fill of the man.

Connor’d almost caught his breath again by the time Forest turned to look at him, his face soft with love and his hand gentle as his fingers stroked Connor’s thigh.

“You okay?” Forest’s eyebrows pulled in, a frown creasing his forehead. “It wasn’t the chicken, right? It looked done. I mean—”

“No, a ghra. I’m good. The chicken was fine. Great even.” Connor exhaled hard then brushed a quick kiss over Forest’s lips. “I’m just going to miss you. Something fierce and hard, while you’re gone. I love you. Don’t ever forget that. You are my heart.”

“I know,” Forest murmured against Con’s lips. “Just so you know, that’s what’s going to get me through every day I’m gone—knowing you love me, as much as I love you.”


Follow the Absinthe of Malice Tour and Enter to Win on Each Blog!


Absinthe of Malice

We’re getting the band back together.

Those five words send a chill down Miki St. John’s spine, especially when they’re spoken with a nearly religious fervor by his brother-in-all-but-blood, Damien Mitchell. However, those words were nothing compared to what Damien says next.

And we’re going on tour.

When Crossroads Gin hits the road, Damien hopes it will draw them closer together. There’s something magical about being on tour, especially when traveling in a van with no roadies, managers, or lovers to act as a buffer. The band is already close, but Damien knows they can be more—brothers of sorts, bound not only by familial ties but by their intense love for music.

As they travel from gig to gig, the band is haunted by past mistakes and personal demons, but they forge on. For Miki, Damie, Forest, and Rafe, the stage is where they all truly come alive, and the music they play is as important to them as the air they breathe.

But those demons and troubles won’t leave them alone, and with every mile under their belts, the band faces its greatest challenge—overcoming their deepest flaws and not killing one another along the way.

Purchase Absinthe of Malice at these and other fine booksellers:



Rhys Ford was born and raised in Hawai’i then wandered off to see the world. After chewing through a pile of books, a lot of odd food, and a stray boyfriend or two, Rhys eventually landed in San Diego, which is a very nice place but seriously needs more rain.

Rhys admits to sharing the house with three cats of varying degrees of black fur and a ginger cairn terrorist. Rhys is also enslaved to the upkeep a 1979 Pontiac Firebird, a Toshiba laptop, and an overworked red coffee maker.



Rhys has brought a $20 gift certificate to the online store of the winner’s choice, plus an audiobook code from Audible copy (which you can use on any audiobook or save for Tristan’s voicing of Absinthe) to one lucky Joyfully Jay reader. Just leave a comment at the end of the post to enter. The contest ends on Friday, June 24th 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.
  • All book prizes are in electronic format unless otherwise specified.
  • 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.
FILED UNDER: Giveaway, Guest Post
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