Today I am so pleased to welcome C.S. Poe to Joyfully Jay. C.S. has come to talk to us about her upcoming release, Kneading You. She has also brought along copies to give away! Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
Hello, friends! I’m C.S. Poe— I’m known for my mysteries like Southernmost Murder, paranormal stories such as 11:59, and sometimes a contemporary romance or two. In fact, that’s what I’m here to chat about today!
I have three books that, while completely standalone stories with their own main characters, all take place in the small town of Lancaster, New Hampshire. It’s an ideal New England town with small-world charm and lots of country boys falling in love with city boys who are moving to the area. I love opposites attract. It’s probably one of my favorite tropes because of how versatile it is! Not only can you tell a story about opposites with different body types, careers, but backgrounds—hence my country boys all aflutter by these charmers from Los Angeles, New York City, or even just a suburb near Manchester, New Hampshire, in the case of Christopher Hughes.
Christopher is the main character in Kneading You, my new republished short story that comes out on July 19, 2019 with Dreamspinner Press. It was originally part of the 2016 Simmer anthology, but when its contract ran out, I loved this little origin of my Lancaster obsession so much I wanted to get it back out there for folks who hadn’t gotten a chance to read it. Christopher meets the local repairman in town, a tall, sexy, tattooed guy named Miles, who agrees to try and help Christopher save the aging library, and maybe go out on a date or two, despite being terribly shy.
Oh, I do love the big strong sorts who are hesitant to approach someone they adore! Be sure to check out my giveaway below. You can enter to win (1) e-copy of any of my Lancaster stories—Color of You, Joy, or Kneading You.
Thank you for your support and I do hope everyone enjoys this little story with two sweet men, love for books, and an affinity for baking bread.
I rushed up the slippery steps of Lancaster’s old library to greet the portly man awaiting me. “I’m sorry I’m late!” I held a hand out. “Christopher Hughes. It’s a pleasure.”
“Logan Fields,” the man said, shaking with an unnecessarily firm grip. “I’m on the town’s Board of Selectmen. I’m in charge of overseeing our library crisis. Come on inside.” He turned around, used an old skeleton key to unlock the front door, and led the way into the dim interior.
I had recently moved to the charming town of Lancaster, New Hampshire. No more than ten years ago, they’d outgrown the title of village—everyone was very proud, I was told. I’d spent most of my life in suburbs in the more populated, southern portion of the state. And while it was nice and convenient, I’d always dreamed of living in a small community where folks all knew one another and there was a real sense of closeness.
I’d certainly found it here.
But not a job.
That was a rather elusive beast.
But such was the way of life in these tiny blips on the map. There were not a lot of job openings on a consistent basis, and so far my options were part-time clerk at the gas station, part-time bagger at the grocery store, or nada. Although I had a college degree, studies in nineteenth-century literature didn’t get you far in a town that required more practical services. I’d been ready to become a bagger too, if it meant paying the rent on time. But then I heard about this.
Lancaster was in a panic after their librarian—a nice old lady who I swear must have been older than the building itself—passed away, and they needed someone to take over.
Ding, ding, ding! Christopher Hughes, come on down. You’ve won a cozy little position in an antique library! How do you feel?
I can afford dinner now—I feel great!
Logan Fields flicked on an old light switch as I shut out the winter day behind us. “Here she is. Pretty old place, isn’t it?”
It was indeed. The library was small, nothing like I was used to. It was maybe the size of the downstairs of a large house. The woodwork was dark and rich, there were high ceilings, and gorgeous old moldings. I turned, whistling quietly as I took it all in. There was a desk for checkout closer to the wall—with no computer, I noted. An alcove stood just beyond that, completely stuffed with books. To the right of the main area was a closed door, and to the left was the study room—a long table with chairs situated in the middle. Bank lamps with green shades sat positioned on the tabletop, and some old leather-bound books and maps made the space look especially cozy.
“This is wonderful,” I said.
Logan nodded. “Our public library has been open for over a hundred and fifty years. It’s been here through thick and thin, and provided for people when they otherwise couldn’t afford to learn.” He turned to look down at me. “You must understand, a lot of folks up here—they don’t have big-paying jobs like in the cities. They live paycheck to paycheck. My kids all came here, growing up.” He looked pained. “This place means a lot to us all.”
My hands were sweaty in my coat pockets. It felt like I needed to say something, assure him I was capable of the job, if he wanted to hire me, but I kept quiet.
Logan cleared his throat and patted his belly absently. “Anyway. Our old librarian passed on, as you know, and we need help. The state is looking to pull the funding from this facility.”
“W-what?” I blurted. “Why?”
“Money. It’s always about money. Why give a dinky little town like ours resources when they can better pump it into cities where they get more bang for their buck?” Logan huffed. “We need this place spruced up. Show them how vital this library is to the community. If we can show them how much use this place gets….”
“Do you not have that sort of information on file?”
Logan gave me a sheepish expression. “To be honest, the job doesn’t pay much, and Beatrice held the position for eons. She didn’t know how to use computers. So all that information is written by hand in her ledgers.”
Logan hurried to a nearby shelf, chose a book at random, and brought it back to me. “See, we don’t have any sort of bar code system for checkout.” He opened to the front page, where there was an old-fashioned library card in the pocket glued to the cover, with handwritten names and dates going as far back as 1947.
“Holy shit,” I whispered.
Logan snorted. “Right.” He shut the book and stared at me again. “What I’m asking of you might not be possible. I’ve got no budget for new books or supplies, and I’ve nothing to offer you in terms of support. Your job may very well be short-lived… but we need help. Plus, you’ve got that English degree—”
I waved my hands. “I don’t have a degree in library science. I mean, I had a part-time job at my college library, but my degree is in literature. Oscar Wilde, Edgar Allan Poe, Mary Shelley—”
“That’s no matter. None of the librarians in neighboring towns have an MLS either. We’re very small. We don’t necessarily need that sort of credential.”
I looked around. The building was silent but alive. Over a hundred years of people passing through the arched doorway, of learning and studying. I felt a deep force tugging me to the available position, despite the lack of job security. It was strange. And not smart.
“I’ll do it,” I answered.
“You will?” Logan asked.
Christopher Hughes is new to the small New England town of Lancaster, New Hampshire. He’s been hired to save an old library from closing, but his obstacles include not only fighting for state funding, but a Selectman who wants to tear the building down in favor of a shopping center.
Christopher meets Miles Sakasai, a charming tattooed repairman hired to help restore the historical interior. Working in close proximity has both men falling hard for each other, and also provides Christopher an opportunity to learn about Miles’s passion for baking. As it turns out, Miles’s skills in the kitchen may end up being the key to saving the library—but only if his bread can rise to the occasion.
C.S. Poe is a Lambda Literary and two-time EPIC award finalist, and a FAPA award-winning author of gay mystery, romance, and paranormal books.
She is a reluctant mover and has called many places home in her lifetime. C.S. has lived in New York City, Key West, and Ibaraki, Japan, to name a few. She misses the cleanliness, convenience, and limited-edition gachapon of Japan, but she was never very good at riding bikes to get around.
She has an affinity for all things cute and colorful and a major weakness for toys. C.S. is an avid fan of coffee, reading, and cats. She’s rescued two cats—Milo and Kasper do their best on a daily basis to distract her from work.
C.S. is a member of the International Thriller Writers organization.
Her debut novel, The Mystery of Nevermore, was published by DSP Publications, 2016.
C.S. has brought a great giveaway! (3) winners will be chosen to receive their e-copy choice of a Lancaster story, such as Color of You, Joy, or Kneading You. The contest ends 7/12/19. Just follow the Rafflecopter at the end of the post to enter.
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