Today I am so pleased to welcome Elle Brownlee to Joyfully Jay. Elle has come to talk to us about her upcoming release, Drawn. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
Hello everyone! It’s lovely to be here celebrating my upcoming release, Drawn. Big thanks to Jay for hosting me.
Drawn brings together several elements that made me really happy to write: an artist busy chasing his painterly muse, some mystery and an enigmatic tall-dark-and-handsome love interest, and all taking place in gorgeously atmospheric New Orleans.
Sebastian is an artist who has traveled a lot in his life—things I very much relate to—and he’s currently in a creative dry spell. (Something else I can relate to, but shh.) But when he meets Morgan, Mr TDaH himself, Sen discovers he can’t stop the driving urge to paint even if he tried.
And now I’m very excited to share this teaser. Please enjoy!
Morgan stepped back when Sen shifted again, and the binder overweighted and tipped onto the floor. It bounced hard enough that the rings opened and several pages slithered free.
They crouched in unison. Sen chased the pages that had spilled to one side as Morgan got the others, and they met in the middle with messy stacks of paper.
“Here,” Sen said and took Morgan’s pages, shuffled the bundle, and then rapped it on end, using a ruffle-and-curl method he’d perfected for squaring paper. He smiled and held the neat pile out. “I can’t do anything about the order, but this way they’re easier to handle, and at least you won’t have crumpled edges.”
Morgan nodded. “Thanks.” His fingers curled across Sen’s under the paper.
Sen blushed—something he wasn’t prone to and hadn’t done in years—and Morgan’s gaze darted from his throat to his cheeks and followed the rise of color. Morgan’s eyes darkened, his pupils dilated within swirls of flinty gray, and his grip tightened. Then he leaned forward on one knee and kissed Sen.
The kiss was brief, dry, and shattering.
Relief and longing surged into Sen. He twisted a hand in Morgan’s shirt and repeated “Finally, finally” and watched the storm in Morgan’s eyes. Sen wanted Morgan’s kiss.
Morgan cupped Sen’s cheek and tipped forward. He stared at Sen’s mouth and the rapid pulse in Sen’s neck, and then looked heavy-lidded into Sen’s gaze. His eyes flew wide open, and he snapped upright. The color drained from his face, and he went rigid and tumbled backward onto his heels.
“I’m so very sorry.” Morgan stood abruptly and retreated a pace into his study, his breathing harsh but controlled. “I honestly have no explanation for doing that and hope it didn’t offend you. But if you want to leave and clean another day, when I’m not here, or leave and ask to be replaced, I understand completely.”
Sen barely heard what Morgan said. His mind reeled on overload, and he began to crawl. Then he clambered from his hands and knees to both feet and lurched down the hall and into the kitchen.
Flashing, quick-cut images and spoken phrases assailed him faster than he could register. He dumped his bag on the center island and flipped the sketchbook to an empty page. Then he rapidly drew gestural lines and raced to capture the essential impressions of the speakers and their words.
He quickly sketched other-Morgan and the young man, using line work without picking up his pencil to connect them, framing the top of the page. Four other faces clawed forward through the fray of swirling pictures and sounds of clanging metal, hoofbeats, and low-spoken words. Sen’s hand moved with a will of its own. He had no control over what he drew—hatched lines, dark single strokes, undulating contours. Fog built up around him as he worked, shrouding him in shadow and the odor of distant places, long forgotten. The chaos began to lessen and allowed him to draw each face, one at a time, and to linger over the curves and planes of their features—features he recognized in faces so familiar but without name. The voices quieted to whispers, less frenzied and no longer overlapping, but he couldn’t hear what they said.
Morgan saying his name broke Sen’s reverie. He gasped and dropped the pencil, and its whap and roll on the counter thundered in the sudden silence.
“Sorry.” Morgan held up both hands and moved away. “You didn’t hear me from over there.” He indicated the far corner by the open entryway to the kitchen.
Sen hummed in neutral acknowledgement but couldn’t look at Morgan. He traced and retraced a disembodied pair of eyes, soothed by the continuous movement.
He had no more explanation for his rush to draw than Morgan had for their kiss. What could he even say?
Sebastian (Sen) Holt is an artist currently in New Orleans. He’s always been a wanderer, believing in fate and following signs to guide his destiny. Although he itches to pull up stakes, getting a painting into a local gallery keeps him rooted. One morning his good friend calls him in desperate need of help with her cleaning business. Her regular cleaner flaked, she can’t lose her client, and there’s no one else.
The job is at a large and recently restored house—and the owner, Morgan Ballard, comes home unexpectedly. They are immediately drawn together, as if they know each other but they’ve never met. As they grow closer, Morgan behaves like two people. Sometimes he’s friendly and casual, and other times intimate and demanding. Sen juggles his painting through bursts of vision-like inspiration, the cleaning job, and an unexpected commission—all while trying to unlock the growing mystery of the intense connection he feels to Morgan. He’s not sure which scares him more—the strangeness surrounding their growing bond or that he’s found someone to make him reconsider his lifelong wanderlust.
Growing up she loved westerns and taking long hikes. On these explorations she’d craft miniature worlds with moss and rocks while making up stories about everything that happened there. This often included dashing cowboy heroes. As an adult, not a lot has changed. She still loves westerns, long hikes, and allowing her imagination to roam. She also loves spending time with family and friends, rooting for her baseball team, rainy days in autumn, and the perfect cup of tea (black, steeped extra strong, with milk—please!).
Her romances feature flawed but relatable characters in immersive settings, told with wit, tenderness, and a sly note of sarcasm. Though a cynic in many ways, Elle believes love can conquer all. Every story is a little bit naughty, a whole lot of nice, and will always end with happily ever after.
Elle currently lives in New York City, where she maintains her miniature worlds in terrariums and writing. She’s so thankful to be able to share her work with a growing audience, and especially grateful to have you reading along.