Ink and Ice… a sequel to After the Gold

Ink & Ice, available August 25, 2020. Now available for preorder.

InkandIceFinalGrowing up on an isolated island in the middle of Lake Erie, Aaron Sheftall learned to skate as a young child when extreme weather would cut his off his small community — and its legends about a lost colony of seals — from the rest of the world. Now an elite figure skater, Aaron dreams of getting to the Olympics. Yet competition is fierce and in a sport filled with injuries and drama, careers are short. But when a fluke accident changes the stakes for the entire U.S. team, Aaron sees his chance.

Zack Kelly used to be a war reporter. But a successful book about his time covering global conflicts, an unsuccessful marriage, and a dose of PTSD have sidelined him from the journalism game. When an old friend calls up him with a long-form assignment about competitive figure skating, Zack has no idea what he’s getting into. He also doesn’t care — it’s a change of scenery and a paycheck.

Thrown together under circumstances neither of them are initially enthused about, Aaron and Zack ultimately embark on an unlikely — and ill-advised — romance about trust, myth, and what it really means to be comfortable in your own skin.

Ink and Ice is part of the same series as After the Gold. The books can be read in any order. Katie and Brendan’s story continues here as a key part of Aaron’s coaching team.

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The Opposite of Drowning preview

opposite4With the release of The Opposite of Drowning, our workplace romance about publishing, food, international travel, and the drowned city of Ys, less than three weeks away, we thought it was time to give you a preview. While this isn’t the first meeting of our hero and heroine, it is something of an inciting incident. Business trips are always sooooo awkward:

That night Eliza slept poorly and had dream after dream that she was running late. Late for flights, late for meetings, late even to her own wedding. She was relieved to wake up and realize it was five in the morning in Frankfurt and hours before she had to be anywhere. She had no planes to catch, her wedding was still more than a year away, and she had plenty of time to address anything needed before the work day began.

A quick glance at her inbox showed only a handful of emails, none of which were urgent. Going back to sleep would have been ideal, but Eliza was too keyed up from the nightmares. And the hotel had a pool.

She would never admit to anyone that, for as long as she could remember, she had always believed that the water called to her. Her affinity for it was not defined by skill or hobby so much as a need to be submerged in it that was as fundamental as her body’s need for food. She’d realized young it was too peculiar to explain and had learned to swim laps to have the excuse.

She dug through her suitcase until she found her swimsuit. It took a little while; her clothes were tangled together messily. Not a useful state for them to be in, given how most of them needed to be perfectly neat and pressed. But if her clothes would need to be ironed anyway, she saw no reason not to let them get wrinkled in transit.

The pool, when she located it, was a dreary basement affair, long and narrow and split down the middle with a single rope marking it off into two lanes. It was, however, mercifully empty, and she shed the hotel bathrobe she’d used as a cover-up and slid in. The water was too cold, so she did the only thing she could: dove under and began. Soon the world fell away — her bad dreams, her new job, the specter of her engagement party. There was only the strange muffled peace of the water around her ears, here under the earth. She counted as she swam, neither laps nor strokes, but a steady beat as if to music she could not quite remember.

Eventually, out of breath, Eliza stopped. She spread her toes against the tiled bottom of the pool and hauled herself up to sit on its side. Across from her, in the other lane, another swimmer — a man — slowed, then stopped as well. She’d been alone when she had arrived and hadn’t heard or felt anyone enter the water. She wondered now if there was any way to grab her robe and flee to her room without looking like she was in a hurried panic to avoid human contact.

But when the man hauled himself out of the water, it was Harry. She felt all the more impulse to flee. They hadn’t even been colleagues for a day and now here they were in their swimsuits! Eliza took a deep breath. She’d been born a WASP for something, and if it wasn’t to suppress all her emotions in this incredibly awkward moment, it wasn’t for anything at all.

“Oh,” he said, startled, when he finally looked up and saw her.

“Oh,” she echoed. It only seemed natural. Their body postures mirrored each other across the water; why not their repressed horror too?

“Of course it’s you.” His voice wasn’t mocking; he sounded and looked as dismayed as she was.


They sat in silence for a few moments, probably because standing up and revealing more of their bodies to each other would make the whole thing worse. Each of them absently kicked at the water which rippled between them, sending darts and flashes of light onto the ceiling.

“Good morning,” she tried awkwardly.

“You’re up early,” Harry replied with only somewhat more aplomb.

To Eliza’s surprise he kept his eyes on her face. Not once did his gaze drop to her body, clad only in her blue swimsuit. With any other man she would have dived back into the water to cover herself with it; men could just be so awful about their gaze. But now that they were here, she could feel no threat emanating from him. Only a resigned weariness.

“I couldn’t sleep,” she confessed. She tried to match Harry’s courtesy and not look anywhere but his eyes, but she found it difficult. Not because of desire, although he was fit and handsome, all long limbs and strongly built. But because he was an infuriating and curious creature. She wanted to know things about him, even if the stories of men were often less written on their flesh than the stories of women.

“Neither could I,” he admitted.

The conversation, stilted as it was, felt strangely intimate, even though they weren’t really saying anything, just sharing space while they swirled their legs in the water and caught their breath from swimming. After their near-combativeness yesterday, Eliza didn’t know what to make of it.

“Anything wrong? Other than jet lag?” she asked, mocking his remark to her at dinner in an attempt to get back on that footing.

Harry gave a surprisingly weary shrug. “One of my best friends is dying of cancer,” he said. “Which was also true yesterday, but now he’s doing it faster. And we’re talking about it.”

Eliza’s training for nearly any and all social eventualities continued to fail her. She did not immediately know how to respond. When she said nothing, Harry frowned — at her or at himself for being so honest, she didn’t know — and began to hoist himself up from his seat at the edge of the pool.

“Well, fuck,” she said, in lieu of anything else. She didn’t want him to leave because of her silence.

He stopped and looked down at her. “That was rather my reaction, yes.”

She hurried to scramble to her feet. Even on opposite sides of the pool she couldn’t stand the idea of him towering over her any more than she could stand the idea of leaving him alone to his circumstances.

“I suppose the suggestion of bier und brotzeit would be inadequate?”

Curiosity sparked behind the sadness in Harry’s eyes, and Eliza tried not to wince at herself. She’d effectively invited Harry out for a booze breakfast.

The ebook of The Opposite of Drowning will be available on all platforms on April 23, 2019, but can be pre-ordered at now. A paperback edition will follow shortly thereafter.

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After the Gold on sale… for reasons

Winning isn't everything (3)Erin and I each started skating after we wrote a figure skating romance.

Then I broke my arm….

Broken arm for me, means price break to $2.99 for you til I’m back on the ice.

Aside from writing being our jobs, these sales will also help me pay my insurance deductible and replace the skating gear that had to be cut off me in the ER (skating is no joke, folks). (date of injury: Feb 13, 2019; expected return to ice: late March to mid-April if all goes well).

P.S., If you’ve ever been the unlovable anxiety-ridden heroine in your own life, this book is for you.

Also contains: tour bus dance party, awesome gay farm uncles, cows, magic, and a Russian best friend who is super sick of this shit.

Has a bit of yelling and door slamming and a knee injury (no medical details). No common triggers.

A 2018 Finalist for the BookLife Prize from Publisher’s Weekly.

A “magnetic tale of life and love after professional sports that explores what happens when two people must decide if what’s between them has been for the cameras or what is truly in their hearts.” — Rebekah Weatherspoon, 2016 Lambda Literary Award Winner

(Also available in paperback)

“Figure skating fans will delight in this fun and engaging new work, rooting for Katie and Brendan long after they leave the ice.” – The BookLife Prize

“…a fascinating and tender look at obsession and anxiety, competition, and love – both for the sport, and for each other.” – Tamara Lush, 2018 RITA© Finalist

“I ripped through this in a day, rooting hard for both characters the whole damned time….Highly recommended contemporary romance.”
 – Lynne Thomas, seven-time Hugo Award Winner

For over a decade, world-champion ice skaters Katie Nowacki and Brendan Reid have been partners in every way but one. But now that their electric on-ice chemistry has led them to Olympic gold, they’re retiring from competition.

As they cross America on an exhibition tour with their fellow athletes, Katie and Brendan’s always volatile relationship becomes more turbulent than ever as they face down the media, their fans, and their increasingly nosy teammates.

When Katie realizes she wants to go back to the farm she grew up on, Brendan knows he has one last chance to make sure their fairy tale ends with happily ever after.

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The Opposite of Drowning now available for pre-order!

opposite4.jpgIf you like May/December romances about publishing industry snark, food trucks, late night talk show hosts, European travel, and apps about competitive extreme dog grooming, this book may be for you.

Includes: M/F central romance with a bisexual hero, M/M and F/F romances in the b plots, adventures in Frankfurt, Vienna, Paris, and NYC, hints of magic, freak hail storms, the drowned city of Ys, a ghost horse, some angry feelings about New York Society, and lots and lots of banter and bickering.

Releases on all platforms April 23, 2019. Amazon pre-order available now.


Harry Sargent hates his job in publishing, his life in New York City, and his motley collection of disreputable best friends. Making everything worse? He’s about to turn 50 and has a crush on the much-younger woman his company just hired to move them into the digital age.

At 27, Elizabeth Anne Abgral loves her job, her life, and maybe even her fiancé. But no one can have it all, and as long as she does everything her old-fashioned, high-society New England family expects of her, she’ll probably be happy. Right?!

But when she meets a handsome – and mischievous – older man at her new job, that illusion shatters.

As she and Harry bicker their way through industry events around the world, Elizabeth finds herself tossing rationality – and her plans – to the wind.

But just because Harry has long wished his life were different, doesn’t mean he’s ready to risk his heart on a passion that frightens him… or a peculiar young woman with the uncanny ability to make cities flood every time they kiss.

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Cardinal paperback now available!

CardinalFinalCardinal, book 4 in the Love in Los Angeles series is now available in paperback!

Hollywood mainstay J. Alex Cook has a growing family — and a growing career. But as he makes the move from television regular to blockbuster film star, the media scrutiny he’s never wanted gets more intense than he expects.

Returning to his childhood home in Indiana to confront his sister and their troubled past, Alex’s vision for his future is thrown into turmoil. Forced to realize that sometimes space is the only way to grow closer to the ones you love, Alex sets off on an international adventure that will change the way he views life, love, and logistics forever.

Please be aware, this is a high-heat, high-angst M/M romance and includes characters with a past history of self-harm.

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Love in Los Angeles series in print!

Lila-1-3The big beautiful single volume trade paperback edition of books 1-3 (Starling, Doves, Phoenix) of the Love in Los Angeles series is now available in print! We’ll do a matching set for books 4-6 when the series is complete.

Introvert. Ingenue. Accidental celebrity.

Hollywood’s newest star, 21-year-old J. Alex Cook never wanted to be famous, he just wanted to get out of Indiana. But when he hooks up with Paul, a writer on a hit TV show, Alex is thrown into a web of relationships involving friends, lovers, and everything in between.

Please be aware, this is high-heat, high-angst romance that includes characters with a past history of self-harm.

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After the Gold now a finalist for the BookLife Prize

AtG_finalistAfter the Gold was named one of six finalists for the BookLife Prize! Judge Rebekah Weatherspoon says,  “McRae and Maltese craft a light, yet magnetic tale of life and love after professional sports that explores what happens when two people must decide if what’s between them has been for the cameras or what is truly in their hearts.”

The winner of the BookLife Prize will be announced on December 17, 2018! Cross your fingers for us! A win here will allow us to prioritize more skating-related books (we have three to four we’re tossing around, all of which will include Katie and Brendan but will focus on new characters and new relationships).

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What we’re working on right now

Just a quick update on various things we’re currently working on:

  • A short book about self-publishing and how to create self-published books that mimic the experience — for readers, reviewers, and store buyers — of traditionally published novels. Consider this less a how-to book and more a strategic/tactical guide to successful self-publishing based on our own experiences. Our goal is to have this out by the end of NaNoWriMo and have it available during preorder and the initial release period for $.99. It will go up to $2.99 later.
  • The Evergreen rerelease. Love in Los Angeles fans, don’t forget to preorder!
  • We are still available for editing work, although not until 2019! More information here:
  • We’re working on edits on our May/December romance, The Opposite of Drowning. Set in the world of non-fiction publishing, this book leans heavily on the myth of Ys and we expect to be able to announce the release date in early January.
  • And yes, we are working on George’s book for the sequel to A Queen from the NorthIt’s called A Royal of Ravens and we don’t have a release schedule yet.
  • More vaguely, we’re also working on sequels (yes, more than one!) to After the Gold, featuring new couples and romances, but with Katie and Brendan has supporting characters as well as an espionage series we’ve been talking about forever (um, which might cross over with some of our other projects, because why not?!).
  • P.S., since some of you asked — while we’re not deeply working on them yet, there will be two more full-length Love in Los Angeles books. It was created as a six book series and we will finish it! Meanwhile, paperbacks of Cardinal and the books 1 – 3 box set will be available soon.
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A Queen from the North gets a starred review in Publishers Weekly

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After the Gold now a BookLife Prize Semi Finalist!


After the Gold has been named a Semi Finalist in the BookLife Prize from Publisher’s Weekly with this round’s judge saying, “Figure skating fans will delight in this fun and engaging new work, rooting for Katie and Brendan long after they leave the ice.”


After the Gold also received a perfect 10 out of 10 evaluation. We couldn’t be happier, especially with the kind words for our heroine Katie. We don’t think she’s difficult to love, but it’s still a great relief to see reviewers agree with us.

Finalists for the prize will be named November 1st! Keep your fingers crossed!

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