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Love and the Exorcism by Melanie Hansen

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I’m a huge fan of the romance trope ‘A One-Night Stand that Turns to MORE!’  I love listening to Dan Savage talk about meeting this gorgeous man one night at a bar, and their awkward but hilarious pick-up lines to each other.  A quick encounter in the men’s room, and then they left together, expecting a hot, fun night with someone doing the walk of shame home the next morning—no harm, no foul.

MelInstead, the hot guy got sick during the night, like really sick, and Dan ended up having to take care of him.  Twenty years later they’re still together, married with a son.  When I was trying to think of a short story I could do for Valentine’s Day, for some reason Dan and his husband came to mind.  Then I gasped!  My husband and I met in largely the same way!

Over 17 years ago, I was on my second date with a really nice man, and we were watching a movie at my apartment.  Suddenly he said he didn’t feel well, and he asked if he could just crash on my couch for the night and he’d drive home in the morning.  No problem.  I grabbed him a blanket and a spare pillow, got him a glass of water and wished him goodnight.  When I came down to make coffee the next morning, he was lying there shivering uncontrollably, in the grips of a 102-degree fever.  No way was I sending him home like that, so I got him some ibuprofen, a cool cloth for his forehead and let him toss and turn on the couch all day, thinking it was a bad case of the flu and he’d just have to ride it out.

When his fever hit 104 degrees the next morning, I insisted on driving him to the emergency room.  Well, it turned out he had pneumonia.  He was active-duty Navy, no family in town, and the doctor at the ER said they’d have to admit him if there was no one to care for him at home.  I remember wincing.  I barely knew this guy, and as a young, busy professional I figured I ain’t got time for this.  But I liked him, so how could I just drop him off at the hospital and leave him there?  I drove back to my apartment, packed a bag, picked him up from the ER and took him to his place to recover.

A week later he was on the mend, and during that time we’d talked a lot, had some laughs, gotten to know each other without the pressure-cooker of actually—dating.  I took good care of him, and a few months later he returned the favor when I had a bad reaction to a medication and ended up in the ER myself.  It’s safe to say we got the ‘for better or for worse’ part down long before we ever got married!  Just like Tom and Mario in my Valentine’s Day story Love and the Exorcism, or Dan Savage and his husband, my husband and I saw each other at our worst long before we ever had a chance to see the best…and yet, we made it through and stayed together.  I love it when real-life inspiration matches one of my favorite tropes!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Tom Hannity is not boring, despite what his ex-boyfriend says.  He loves his circle of family and friends and finds peace in the beauty of flower arranging.  Still stinging from his recent breakup, Tom attends an Anti-Valentine’s Day “Ex-orcism,” hoping for some fun and forgetfulness.

Mario Tellez is tired of party boys, and he’s had his eye on Tom for a while.  When they run into each other at the Ex-orcism, sparks fly, until an accidentally overheard conversation drives Tom to do something he normally doesn’t do.

What should have been a hot and fun night turns into Tom and Mario seeing each other at their absolute worst, although surprisingly, it brings out the best in them, too.  Navigating around the toxic people in their lives isn’t easy, and after a small series of bumps in the road, they finally come around full circle… to Valentine’s Day and laying old demons to rest.

Buy Link: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=7402

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Review by Tracy C Muth

Tom and Mario meet at an “ex” orcism, an anti-Valentine’s Day party to purge yourself of all ex’s possessions you are still holding onto. As Tom and Mario are about to get busy, a drunk Tom oh so romantically pukes all over his friend’s bushes. Mario takes him home and stays the night when he starts to feel sick. Mario wakes up the next morning with a raging fever.

This was a sweet and slightly steamy Valentine’s read. I loved the characters and thought they had a really good chemistry. This was a short and quick read that I couldn’t put down. While I found the characters to be well developed, I missed seeing them get to know one another. The dating and getting into the committed relationship aspect of the story all happens off page. This would have been a 5-star read had the author added a chapter to let us experience this.

This was a very enjoyable read, highly recommended!

4 Stars

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Bio:

Melanie Hansen has spent time in Texas and Florida prisons…for work.   She’s been in a room with a 17-year-old mass murderer who was also one of the most soft-spoken and polite teenagers she’s ever met.  After a 13-year career as a court reporter, she can tell many stories both hilarious and heartbreaking.

She grew up with an Air Force dad, and ended up marrying a Navy man.  After living and working all over the country, she hopes to bring these rich and varied life experiences to her stories about people finding love amidst real-life struggles.

Melanie left the stressful world of the courtroom behind and now enjoys a rewarding career transcribing for a deaf student.  She currently lives in Arizona with her husband and two sons.

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