Love Unlocked is a collection of seven short stories and novellas – unique LGBTQ romances inspired by the Love Lock Bridge.
The Trap by Claire Davis and Al Stewart
New job – sexy boss – fate – Art…
When Sal attends an open exam for an apprentice artist to work alongside the infamous Matthew Picard, the last thing he expects is to be the winner. But then his role is revealed and nothing is ever the same again. As he toils day and night on the unique sculpture, strange sensations begin to affect both him and the watching master artist.
Matthew Picard thought he was through with men and love. What he wanted was for Sal to help him create one final monstrous masterpiece – The Trap.
But as he observes his young apprentice, his focus shifts, and so do the very walls of the gallery.
Is it the beauty of art, or something more magical at work?
As the sculpture is created, a power is unlocked.
Can love save them, or will they be trapped forever?
* * *
Writer’s Lock by Victoria Milne
Spending a month in Paris to write his romance novel had seemed like the perfect plan, but one week in, Phil Pearson is suffering from a severe case of writer’s block. With barely a word written, he’s fed up and ready to cut his trip short.
When Laurent Marceau sees Phil in his café, it sends him hurtling into the past, opening old wounds and reminding him of the love he lost. But, after watching the aspiring writer struggle for inspiration, he surprises himself by offering to show him Paris through the eyes of a true Parisian.
Finally bursting with ideas, Phil is delighted to put pen to paper, albeit badly at first. As the writer finds himself falling in love for the first time, Laurent knows he needs to decide quickly if he’s strong enough to return his affections, or whether it would be better for them both if he walked away. He knows he may not have a choice, once Phil finds out the truth.
* * *
Locked in the Moment by Dawn Sister
Due to a misunderstanding, the troll that lives underneath one of the most romantic bridges in Paris inadvertently unlocks every single padlock lovers have left there over the years. L’Authoritié de Fée Folklorique are up in arms. He has no idea what all the fuss is about. The noise was driving him mad. He just wanted a bit of peace and quiet.
A spell is cast, leaving the troll in a bit of a predicament. He is charged with the seemingly impossible task of fixing the locks before the spell can be reversed and he is allowed to return to his home. There are other complications, the least of which is the insistence and persistence of a fairy who is determined to help him against the wishes of his own people.
Now the troll has a dilemma. What is more important to him? The only home he has known for two thousand years, or a fairy he has just met?
* * *
The Weekend by J P Walker
Nat’s been through a rough breakup and trust does not come easily. When she accompanies a group of friends to Paris for a hen weekend, she finds a connection she wasn’t looking for, in the form of beautiful, passionate Morgan. They quickly fall into a wonderful weekend fling and even engrave their initials into a lock and attach it to the most romantic bridge in the world, Love Lock Bridge.
But was that weekend fling all there was, or will news of the bridge being taken down lead to something more?
* * *
The Scarlet Lock by Caraway Carter
Brandon Marshall, in Paris for his twin sister’s wedding, has a fling before the big day. At the end of a whirlwind week of discovering each other, Brandon and his lover place a scarlet lock on the Love Lock Bridge.
Follow Brandon through six years of letters – to the citizens of Paris, on everything from how to make love, to eating passionate fruit – and to the lover, who is now his brother-in-law.
The locks are being removed, the bridge refitted… What will be the fate to The Scarlet Lock?
* * *
He Melted Us by Ofelia Gränd
All Delron wants is to live his life with Phillipe, but when their love lock is stolen from Pont des Art, their relationship is in jeopardy. Without the lock holding them together, Delron is convinced they’ll crash and burn. The only way he can save their relationship is to find the stolen lock, and that is just what he plans to do, no matter what.
Phillipe loves Delron, he really does, but it’s driving him insane that Delron can’t see that a padlock is simply a piece of metal. The lock has nothing to do with them, not really. Up until the night the lock was stolen, their life was great, but Del’s crazy behaviour has Phillipe wondering if he has ever really known his boyfriend.
Delron’s search leads him through art-filled Paris, but will a symbol of love ever be enough to soothe the mistrust his quest has planted in Phillipe? Phillipe always thought he’d spend the rest of his life with Del, but who can live with anyone willing to break the law just to find a padlock when they can buy a new one in just about any shop?
* * *
Chain Of Secrets by Debbie McGowan
Josh and George have always shared the special bond of friendship. From days in primary school, to holidays spent riding their bikes along the canal, theirs is a promise to remain best friends forever.
But can that promise withstand the trials of adolescence, and the changes in their feelings towards each other?
Oh my gosh you guys! Every single story in this anthology has a character that stopped by to give a little guest post for us to read. They are wonderful so you definitely need to check them all out! I am so excited to have so many lovely characters have a chance to give us something extra. Read and enjoy!
Sal from The Trap (Claire Davis and Al Stewart) tells us what romance means to him:
Written at the beginning of The Trap.
When I look at the sky, I see the beauty and the wonder and something like love. But when I try to think about who inspires this feeling, all I see is clouds and fog. At the back of my mind, I feel there is someone out there who will look upwards and see the same things, if I can only find him.
I feel most passionate when I am creating. I call myself an artist, but I have no formal training or qualifications because I am just an ordinary man. But when I make structures, I feel like my whole body is aflame and nothing can stop me. I suppose if I were to find a man who understood this, then I could make romance within my art.
I have not had much luck with men 😦 They think I am strange and weird, and maybe I am. I am very drawn to the museums and galleries in London, but when I look at the artists there, I am too shy to speak to them.
For me, romance would be a freedom – to feel and make and share. Can you imagine that?
Laurent Marceau from Writer’s Lock (Victoria Milne) tells us about his dream vacation:
I’ve been working so hard lately that it has been difficult to go on vacation. I haven’t been out of Paris for a long time.
My dream vacation would be to travel through Mongolia by train. It is such a vast emptiness in comparison to Paris, and has the most beautiful landscapes. I think it would be fun to experience such a different culture and way of life. There is also something very romantic about taking a long train journey to explore a country.
Sol The Troll from Locked in the Moment (Dawn Sister) tells us about his most prized possession:
“I’ve never ’ad any possessions. I’m a troll. I never needed much. I lived in a hole beneath my bridge, and the living arrangements were pretty tight. There wasn’t much room once I’d squeezed my seven feet tall, fat hairy body inside. That had always suited me fine.
I never needed company either. I’m a loner. I was happy being on my own. Until Lucien came along that is, and turned my life completely on its head.
Now I’m no longer alone, and I no longer live beneath that bridge.
I’m on my way to somewhere new. There’s a bridge, although I doubt it’s going to be as grand as my old one. I think this one has a house attached to it, so I won’t be squeezin’ my body into no more ’oles.
There won’t be room anyway, because Lucien is with me. Don’t ask me ’ow that ’appened. One minute I was walkin’ away, thinkin’ I was doin’ ‘im a favour and the next he was in my face, tellin’ me just what ’e thought of my grand gesture. And suddenly he’s coming with me, to my new bridge. I can’t say no to ’im. I’ll never be able to say no to ’im. I love ’im. Plain and simple, and, to my utter surprise, he loves me back.
He’s not my prized possession though. Oh, no, no one could ever own him. He’s this amazing, ephemeral, beautiful fairy. He dazzles me. He leaves glitter all over the place, but I don’t care. I can get used to that. It’s incredible that he’s chosen me, when he could have anyone he wanted. But he has chosen, and we’re together forever, him and me. And now I own something beyond precious. It belongs to both of us, actually. It’s the one possession I will ever need. The one thing that proves our love to the outside world and seals it in a bond that can never be broken. I can’t tell you what it is though. You’ll have to read the story to find that out.”
Nat from The Weekend (J P Walker) tells us where she hopes to be in five years
Well, I imagine I’ll be with Morgan, living happily in Liverpool. She’ll have had time to get used to being together, and we wouldn’t want to live far from the city, especially because I love my job so much. The youth group I work with is now growing around the city, which is awesome, but means I’ve a lot more responsibility.
Morgan and I will discuss getting married and having children – it’s lovely to be with someone who wants the same things you do. So in five years, we’ll probably have bought a bigger place, be married and hopefully pregnant. I can’t wait!
Brandon from The Scarlet Lock’s (Caraway Carter) letter to the him of 5 years ago.
Just be happy, but not too happy. Over time you’ll figure it all out. Don’t grow so fast, enjoy everything that life throws your way. Also, don’t cry so much. Sure thing… life is shitty, and you get a really crappy hand of cards.
It will take you a long time to get over that week, but do not regret it. Do not beat yourself up, enjoy every time his lips glide over your neck.
And when you think it’s your fault, really look at the situation and realize it’s not. But, it will hurt. When you get that gift from Ben, really read it. You’ll think it’s just a stupid child’s book. But, it’s not. It’s full of wisdom.
Listen to music, look at art, and eat – oh for the sake of all the bakers eat. You are in Paris; you’ll live there one day, so learn and live and love and EAT!
I’m just learning to do all of these things, well except the eating part, I totally got that going good. Like I said, I’m just learning them now, so learn them quicker!
Oh and invest in pens!
Delron from He Melted Us (Ofelia Gränd) tells us about his most prized possession.
Hi, I’m Delron!
I’m here today to say a little something about my most prized possession. Phillipe wanted me to pick something else to talk about but how could I when I have the most amazing thing.
My most prized possession is a clock, an old kit-cat clock that I had the luck of coming across in an antique shop a few years back. It’s not an ordinary kit-cat clock, not the black and white kind you’re probably thinking of, no it’s a wig-wam clock. A wig-wam clock is a predecessor to the black and white kit-cat clock with its wagging tail and animated eyes. My clock is brown, carved out of wood, with yellow eyes that seem to follow you wherever you go. It too is animated so the tail swings beautifully with each second ticking by. These clocks first surfaced under the great depression in the 1930s to lighten the spirit of those in need and it’s still lightening the spirits of people—it makes me smile every day. Our kitchen would be cold and barren without it and one day Phillipe will see that too, I know he will.
Swing by our place if you’re curious about my watch, or you can see a picture of it here: https://se.pinterest.com/ofeliagrand/he-melted-us/
Have a lovely day!
George from Chain of Secrets (Debbie McGowan) tells us about a typical day in his life:
Yeah, so I don’t have a very exciting life really, but you asked, so I’ll tell you.
I’m back to working on a farm, which is great, although it means getting up before daylight when I’m working the early shift. The alarm’s set for five thirty, and I stagger out the front door at six, looking like I’ve had a late night on the ale. It’s a twenty-minute walk to Farmer Jake’s, and the walk is what properly wakes me up. I can drive, but I’d rather not, plus I’m not that great a driver, so it works out well all round.
First job at the farm is checking who else is working, because we all have jobs that are ‘ours’. Like if Soph’s working, she deals with the pygmy goats. Otherwise, I have to, and for as much as they’re cute, they’re a pain in the neck. There’s one – Little Bo – who is the Houdini of the goat world. We all have little tricks we use to distract her so we can open the gate to the goat pen without her legging it. But she’s clever as they come, and she usually susses our game within a couple of days.
There are many miniature animals at the farm – the pygmy goats, Shetland ponies, bantam hens, and so on – as well as Highland cattle, donkeys, and saddleback pigs. We’ve also got a flock of geese that visits most days through winter.
All of us farmhands work as a team to get the animals mucked out and fed before the farm opens to the public at ten a.m. Then it’s taking groups of schoolchildren on guided tours, telling them about the animals, after which they all go to the café for orange squash and snacks. We also have young families visit, especially during the school holidays.
We work eight to ten hours a day, minimum. Officially, it’s eight hours, but it’s a great place to work, so we don’t mind staying to get the jobs done. Jake’s a really nice guy and treats his staff well.
Work over, I get home, walk the dog, eat a sandwich and have a shower, not necessarily in that order. The evening…it depends on if we have any social events planned—friends’ birthdays, quiz nights, footy practice. I usually leave visiting my mum until the weekend. She’s a bingo fanatic, so she’s rarely home in the evenings.
The best of all, though, are the cuddle on the sofa and TV evenings…followed by cocoa and bed, maybe with a bit more cuddling or massage or something, before sleep, ready to start all over again!
Locked in the Moment by Dawn Sister
Lucien’s hiding the fact that he looks like death warmed up with some sort of spell. It’s none of my business, except it did shock me. I don’t want this lock business to cause him any pain or make him ill.
I don’t have time to think about it—or about when I stopped being a selfish old troll and started thinking of someone else instead of myself.
Lucien has us all over the park in search of couples to mend. Despite the fact he looked exhausted for the split second his guard was down, he seems to be driven, like one of those new-fangled car contraptions that rumble over my bridge, day in, day out.
By the time midday approaches, we have fixed twenty-four locks. I don’t think that’s bad going. I do think it’s time for a rest, though.
I still can’t work out how he’s finding these locks, but I’m not going to knock it.
I continue to be completely and utterly underwhelmed by these ‘moments’ that are supposed to be so pivotal and crucial to sealing the bond between two humans in love.
So far, I have witnessed humans realising their undying love over laundry, wire mesh shopping baskets, a tatty old book, a crossword, a pair of worn-out shoes, a scarf, an umbrella and a squashed spider. It’s tedious. For goodness’ sake. I don’t know much about romance, but I’d like to think I’d have a bit more imagination. I’ve come to the conclusion that humans are quite boring.
We are currently sitting on a bench, people watching. Lucien shifts restlessly beside me, mostly because I’ve made him sit here. I might be tired after traipsing around this park fixing lost loves, but he must be exhausted. He’s never stopped.
He clicks his tongue in frustration at the forced rest.
“We ain’t shiftin’, Hairy, so you can stop all that shufflin’ around.” I lean back on the bench, folding my arms across my chest, just so he gets the message that I will not be changing my mind.
“But we need to move around, Sol. We should be in amongst the crowds to find broken couples.” He grumbles beside me, but he doesn’t try to get up.
“If we sit here long enough, the crowds will pass us. We can search just as well from this bench. I ain’t moving another inch. My feet are bloody killing me.” They’re not, but he doesn’t need to know that. He thinks it’s because I’m not used to walking around on human feet, and it was a good enough ruse to get him to sit. “I haven’t walked around this much since the Romans left a thousand years ago.”
He snorts and regards me with sparkling eyes. “Truly?” He sounds dubious, but I can also see wonder in his expression. “You have lived through so many ages, Sol. You must have a great many stories to tell.”
“Not really.” I stare off into the distance. “I slept through most of it, and when I was awake—when I wasn’t being chased around with pitchforks or persecuted by goats—I spent most of my time underneath, or in the vicinity of my bridge. This—” I wave my hands about me “—is the furthest I’ve been from my bridge…erm…ever, actually.”
“That is quite sad, Sol. Because of others’ ignorance, there is so much you have missed.” Lucien lays a hand on my arm, and I fight the urge to jump a mile, because it still sends shocks and tingles through my entire body every time he touches me. Sometimes, I wonder if it wouldn’t be better to keep in physical contact all the time; then the sensations might be lessened.
I take his hand from my arm and hold it in my lap.
“I don’t feel like I’ve missed anything, Hairy. I’m not a very adventurous troll. In fact, bridge trolls as a species aren’t all that adventurous. We prefer to stay close to our bridges.”
His hand feels tiny in mine, and warm, and soft. I need to keep talking.
“What about fairies? I expect you get about a bit more because of the wings thing.” I point at his back and then inwardly groan, because it’s not like he doesn’t know where his bloody wings are.
Lucien shifts his shoulders a little but doesn’t answer. When I chance a sideways glance at him, he is staring down at his hand in mine. Slowly, he turns it, so our palms are facing. His fingers link through mine, and my breath catches in my throat. Maybe holding his hand wasn’t such a good idea, because now I have tingling shocks and I can’t breathe. I pull away, and Lucien gives a small huff, narrowing his eyes before gasping and turning his head to stare over to the other side of the park.
“There, over at that bench.” He points, and we are back in business, looking to fix our twenty-fifth lock.
About The Authors:
Claire Davis and Al Stewart
Al Stewart and Claire Davis write about people who are not perfect. Claire embraces the dark side, and Al the good side of the force. Their work is there for a fusion of both, mixed often with kink and humour.
Many years ago, Victoria chose the words ‘watch this space’ to accompany her picture in the school yearbook and had no dreams of being a writer. Sixteen years later, after someone joked that she should be an author, she began the first page of her very first novel and realised how perfect those words had been.
As a latecomer to the world of creative writing, Victoria is now making up for lost time and enjoying every second of the experience.
In the rare moments these days when she’s not writing or dreaming up new plots, she can usually be found at either the ice rink or the dojo and all of these activities are done listening to loud music.
Victoria would love to hear from anyone who shares her passion for writing; and in particular from anyone who has tips on how to tame the editing fetish she has unwittingly acquired along the way.
Dawn is from the North East of England. Her life is spent juggling. The juggling balls are: children, husband, work (occasionally), voluntary work, professional knitting (notice she doesn’t class this as work), and writing. When she has time she actually sleeps.
The whole point of writing for Dawn is just to get it all off her chest and out of her head. If she doesn’t write it down then she ends up having long conversations with the characters out loud and her husband thinks she’s crazy.
J P Walker
Jem Roche-Walker was born in Norwich and moved to the Northwest in order to attend Edge Hill University, studying Social Work Studies. After studying, she began working in rehabilitation for patients with acquired brain injuries and spent seven years writing her first novel, Knights of the Sun, (2013, Beaten Track).
She lives in Burscough with her wife and baby girl and loves spending family time with them.
Caraway Carter has worn numerous hats. He’s been a furniture salesman, a dresser, a costumer, an actor/waiter, a rabble rouser, a poet and most recently a writer. He married his husband on Halloween and they are the loving parents of two rambunctious cats. He loves words and stringing them together, he loves sex and sexy men. He loves seeing how far his muse will take him and he’s looking forward to entertaining you.
Ofelia Gränd is Swedish, which often shines through in her stories. She likes to write about everyday people ending up in not-so-everyday situations, and hopefully also getting out of them. She writes contemporary and paranormal, and dreams about one day writing a post-apocalyptic story—if that ever happens we’ll see.
Her books are written for readers who want to take a break from their everyday life for an hour or two.
When Ofelia manages to tear herself from the screen and sneak away from husband and children, she likes to take walks in the woods. She’s recently discovered the miracle of podcasts and spends her strolls listening to wise people talk.
Debbie McGowan is an author and publisher based in a semi-rural corner of Lancashire, England. She writes character-driven, realist fiction, celebrating life, love and relationships. A working class girl, she ‘ran away’ to London at seventeen, was homeless, unemployed and then homeless again, interspersed with animal rights activism (all legal, honest ;)) and volunteer work as a mental health advocate. At twenty-five, she went back to college to study social science—tough with two toddlers, but they had a ‘stay at home’ dad, so it worked itself out. These days, the toddlers are young women (much to their chagrin), and Debbie teaches undergraduate students, writes novels and runs an independent publishing company, occasionally grabbing an hour of sleep where she can.
Claire Davis and Al Stewart
Goodreads: goodreads.com/author/show/8328423.Claire_Davis || goodreads.com/author/show/8510218.Al_Stewart
Beaten Track: beatentrackpublishing.com/clairedavisandalstewart
Beaten Track: beatentrackpublishing.com/carawaycarter
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ofelia-Grand/1405427199716172
Facebook Author Page: facebook.com/beatentrackpublishing
14-Feb: Boy Meets Boy Reviews, Hearts on Fire, Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents
15-Feb: Jessie G. Books, Divine Magazine, Caraway Carter
16-Feb: Multitasking Mommas, Book Reviews, Rants, and Raves, BFD Book Blog
17-Feb: Book Lovers 4Ever, Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews
18-Feb: Molly Lolly, Andrew Q. Gordon
19-Feb: Elisa – My Reviews and Ramblings, MM Good Book Reviews
20-Feb: Happily Ever Chapter, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words
21-Feb: Alpha Book Club, Love Bytes
22-Feb: Wake Up Your Wild Side, Bayou Book Junkie
23-Feb: Boys on the Brink Reviews, A.M. Leibowitz, Inked Rainbow Reads
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