Today we’ve got the second visitor in our cohort of Naked Gardening Authors (er…I mean the authors writing all the World Naked Gardening Day stories; as far as I know, there’s no actual naked gardening happening…) – and today it’s the brilliant and generous Nell Iris, here to tell us about garden adventures, naked statuesque poses, and playlists! (I do love a good playlist, and Nell – VERY appropriately – has got, er, Robert Plant on this one…) Enjoy!
Hello, everyone! *waves happily* I’m here to talk about my newest release, Strike a Pose, but before I begin, I want to thank the lovely Kristin for having me. 😘
Strike a Pose is written for World Naked Gardening Day which you’ve read about for a few days here on Kristin’s page. I stumbled upon it somehow last year and told my friend Holly Day that she should write a story about it since she writes stories for all the weird and wonderful holidays out there. Then A.L. Lester said we should all write stories with naked gardeners, and I promptly said yes. We enlisted a couple more people, the awesome Amy Spector, and my lovely hostess, and started writing. So on May 7th, five stories with a Naked Gardening theme were released. The stories are all standalone and not related in any other way than the theme.
If you’ve read my books, you know that they’re usually on the lower end of the heat scale (with a few exceptions), but my naked gardeners (who’re not actually gardening) took on a life of their own and didn’t agree with that. There was something about being naked in the garden that spoke to that part of my imagination, the part that thought if they’re willing to be naked in the garden, what else are they willing to do? Because you must be a bit of an exhibitionist to trot around naked outside, right, gardening or otherwise?
Would you be willing to throw off your clothes and step out in the garden? Not necessarily to prune the roses (don’t do that! says someone who’s just dug up a rose bush and came out scratched and bleeding even though I was wearing clothes) but for a romantic moonlight stroll with your loved one on a warm summer evening? I wouldn’t. Even if the top requirement on the list my husband and I made when we were looking to buy a house was “closest neighbor must be far enough away so we can go out naked into the garden.” We found that house, and even though I’ve yet to spend a single minute naked in my backyard, I can do it if I feel like it.
But not everyone is a prude like me, something my main characters told me loudly and repeatedly when I wrote Strike a Pose. They spent time in the garden, focusing more on the naked part than on the actual gardening part. Johan poses as famous statues, and Didrik takes his pictures, lovely art photos for a charity calendar. All the statues, like Michelangelo’s David, Auguste Rodin’s The Thinker, and the classical Greek Discobolus, have one thing in common: they’re naked.
Didrik has had a crush on Johan for ages, and now that Johan is a widower, he’s finally allowed to look. Johan looks back, the clothes are thrown off…and Strike a Pose became surprisingly sizzling for a Nell Iris story.
Since Kristin always includes playlists in her books, I made one for Didrik and Johan. It starts slow and sensually and ends with Robert Plant’s orgasmic moans in Whole Lotta Love, and it’s perfect for…romancing…your loved one in the garden or bent over a kitchen table. Or if you prefer your own company, you can always listen to the songs while reading my newest story.
Glory Box by Portishead
All I Need by Radiohead
Lover, You Should’ve Come Over by Jeff Buckley
Let’s Get It On by Marvin Gaye
Need You Tonight by INXSI Feel You by Depeche Mode
I Wanna Be Your Dog by Iggy and the Stooges
I’m Your Man by Nick Cave
Back Door Man by The DoorsWhole Lotta Love by Led Zeppelin
Didrik would do anything for his best friend, Filip, including taking pictures of Filip’s dad, Johan, for a charity calendar. Naked pictures, of beautiful, irresistible, wonderful Johan, who was single-handedly responsible for Didrik’s gay awakening. He was also happily married and unavailable…until he wasn’t.
After losing his husband five years ago, Johan finally seems ready to move on, and as they start the charity project, everything changes. With every meeting, every conversation, every pose for the camera, the attraction between them swells and grows, until it burns hot and threatens to consume them.
Their interactions, their relationship is surprisingly easy, but it’s not without its challenges. The age difference for one thing. Telling Filip for another. Is their connection enough to last? Can they overcome the hurdles to get the happily ever after they deserve?
M/M Contemporary / 17545 words
Nell Iris is a romantic at heart who believes everyone deserves a happy ending. She’s a bonafide bookworm (learned to read long before she started school), wouldn’t dream of going anywhere without something to read (not even the ladies room), loves music (and singing along at the top of her voice but she’s no Celine Dion), and is a real Star Trek nerd (Make it so). She loves words, bullet journals, poetry, wine, coffee-flavored kisses, and fika (a Swedish cultural thing involving coffee and pastry!)
Nell believes passionately in equality for all regardless of race, gender or sexuality, and wants to make the world a better, less hateful, place.
Nell is a bisexual Swedish woman married to the love of her life, a proud mama of a grown daughter, and is approaching 50 faster than she’d like. She lives in the south of Sweden where she spends her days thinking up stories about people falling in love. After dreaming about being a writer for most of her life, she finally was in a place where she could pursue her dream and released her first book in 2017.
Nell Iris writes gay romance, prefers sweet over angsty, short over long, and quirky characters over alpha males.
Find Nell on social media:
“Show me your favorite spot.”
He nods. “Come on, then.”
We wander along a path leading away from the house to a far corner of the garden we didn’t explore on our tour earlier. And I see the spot before he even needs to point it out to me; it’s an apple tree, with a wooden tree bench curved like the letter “S” around the trunk. The tree itself is crooked, uneven. Gnarly, as though it’s been standing there, keeping watch for hundreds of years. It’s a spot of imperfection in this beautiful garden, but instead of sticking out like a sore thumb, it adds to the beauty.
I sit on the bench right underneath the foliage, leaning my back against the bark, and let my gaze sweep over him. “Tell me about this place.”
He hums and looks up. Reaches for a tiny, unripe apple and gives it a tender caress. “CM hated this tree with a passion. He wanted it gone; it ruined his perfect straight lines, and the apples are tart. But I don’t know, there’s something about it…I love how it’s tucked away here in the back of the garden, hidden from view as though it will hold all my secrets, as though it’ll hide me if I want it to. I love how unassuming it is all year round until spring comes…You should see it, Didrik. The flowers are magnificent.” He sighs and sits next to me, his shoulder brushing against mine. “So I fought for it. Told him I’d move out, or chain myself to the tree if he tried to take it down. And when he caved, I built this bench.”
Johan slides his hand over the wood, tenderly, reverently, and I want it to be me. I want him to touch me with the same adoration, with the same awe. “Thank you for telling me,” I say, voice hoarse. “I’m not a fan of straight lines, so I’m glad you saved it. It’s incredible.”
He bumps his knee into mine and doesn’t withdraw immediately, like earlier this morning. He seems to have a thing for legs, or maybe it’s just my legs, but at this point, I can interpret the signals. I never expected him to be interested in me, but his body language is very clear and I’m not about to question it.
He likes me too. At least physically.
So I shuffle closer to him and rest my head on his shoulder.
“I’m not reading your signals wrong, am I?”
“You’re not,” he rasps.
“So if I wanted to kiss you, that would be okay?”
He rubs his cheek against the top of my head instead of answering. I twist my head and do what I’ve been wanting to do since this morning; bury my nose in the crook of his neck and inhale. I dart out my tongue and taste his pulse through his skin, his heartbeat reverberating into my mouth, down my throat, settling in my belly. I lick up his neck, along his cheekbone, his stubble rasping and prickling my tongue, making me shiver.
I brush a kiss on the side of his chin, on the corner of his mouth, and he turns his head until he can meet my gaze. “Is this okay?” I breathe.
He cups the side of my neck, slots his nose next to mine, and closes the distance between us. His lips are tentative, careful, and his stubble exactly as scratchy as I imagined, rasping against my skin, making me shudder.
Johan ends the kiss but doesn’t withdraw. His breathing is fast, and when I lay my hand against his neck, his pulse is fluttering underneath my fingertips. I pluck the tea mug from his hand and set it down next to mine. Then I scoot back on the bench before reaching across his body and cupping his knee, tugging on it until he understands what I want, and flinging his leg over mine, straddling my lap.
I lay my hands on his lower back, on the bared strip of skin between his low jeans and his T-shirt as he drapes his arms over my shoulders. I rub my cheek against his and hiss as the stubble rasps and scrapes. “This okay?” I murmur. This time he awards me with a verbal reply. “More than.”