Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Exclusives Blog Tour, Review, #Excerpt & #Giveaway: Open Seating by Guest Bloggermomma Mickie B. Ashling

I’d like to thank Multitaskingmommas for giving me the opportunity to appear on their great blog to share an exclusive excerpt from Open Seating, the first book in a planned trilogy. Those of you who follow me know I love to travel, and my favorite way to see the world is on a cruise ship. A story with a luxury liner as a backdrop was bound to come out of my muse eventually; I’m just surprised that it took this long.

As the blurb mentions, my main characters are nothing alike and have been thrown together on this voyage under the worst of circumstances. Fate has presented their itinerary, and now it’s up to them to make it work. Or not.

I bring some fun giveaways and several opportunities to win a freebie by following along on the tour. Before I close, I’d like to mention and thank my publicist J for her excellent work in organizing all my blog tours and anything else I might need in terms of promotion.

Author: Mickie B. Ashling
Series: Open Trilogy #1
Release Date: June 10, 2016
Genre: Contemporary Gay Romance
Length: 204 pages
Cover Artist: Catt Ford
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Seth Wilder lost his partner of twenty years to suicide two weeks before a long-anticipated cruise. Cancellation insurance was never purchased, and Seth can’t get a refund. Bryce McFarland, his late partner’s gym buddy, appreciates his predicament, and when asked, agrees to accompany him on the trip. This way, Seth recoups the money and doesn’t have to cancel his plans. The gesture is unexpected but accepted gratefully.
The two men have nothing in common. Seth is a reclusive romance writer, and Bryce is a hard-core Grindr user with major commitment issues. Out of necessity and despite the seemingly insurmountable differences in personality, they develop a tentative rapport. As they begin their journey through the UK, Bryce helps Seth come to terms with his partner’s sudden death while Seth, in turn, discovers the root cause of Bryce’s phobia.
Shipboard romances rarely work. Sensible men resist, sexual tension notwithstanding. But a full moon and late summer breezes lend itself to the impossible situation, barriers are crossed, and a love affair is kindled.


Following Seth’s suggestion, Bryce sat back and people-watched. The Irish couple they’d met at dinner last night were on their tender, but many benches down, their gray heads drawn together, studying a map. They were dressed in practical walking attire: sturdy shoes, hooded parkas, and lightweight carryalls. Bryce was certain they had their day mapped out to the last detail. Being lost in a strange place with those two would be rather comforting as they appeared to know exactly what they were doing.

They got to the dock, and everyone disembarked, slowly making their way up a steep ramp. There was a wheelchair waiting for Jeannie as she was helped off the tender, one less hurdle she had to deal with. At the top of the ramp was a large parking lot with several tour buses lined up in a row. Each was clearly numbered on the front windshield, so passengers could compare the colorful stickers the tour directors had stuck on their jackets with the corresponding colored number on the bus. This visual aid also served the guides in herding their flock of passengers to their proper ride.

Bryce had never been on a narrated bus tour before. Actually, this part of the world was new to him, so he was all ears as their guide described the countryside and the points of interest along the way. During their stops, he explored older buildings and chapels with a keen eye, fixating on the materials the carpenters of years past had to work with to erect the varied edifices. It amazed him how they managed to build such long-lasting and beautiful structures with the most basic materials. Skilled woodworking was a dying art with the advent of machinery. Why pay triple for a handmade piece when a machine could whip out a banister and spindles far more quickly. Only the very wealthy—or purists—could afford the time and money it took to decorate their homes with custom artisan work. Bryce had a few master carpenters on his roster of subcontractors, and he treated each one like a precious gem. He had no clue what he’d do when they died off. Hopefully, they had kids who were learning by their parent’s side, but somehow Bryce doubted it.

Occasionally he’d turn to Seth, who appeared lost in his thoughts. No doubt he was seeing these ancient relics in a wholly different light, creating scenarios in his head for an upcoming historical romance. If Seth ever asked Bryce to describe the nuts and bolts of a castle or dungeon, he’d be able to help him with his world building by adding accurate descriptions of stone and glasswork.

The tour ended a little past noon, and they were dropped at the pier to catch the tender back to the big ship. Some passengers decided to stay in town to explore on their own and catch lunch at a local tavern, but Bryce and Seth had a scheduled visit at the spa for three o’clock, and opted to take lunch on the ship. Neither felt like rushing.

Getting back on board was another tedious business of lining up, boarding a tender, bouncing along on the choppy sea, presenting valid IDs upon reboarding, and turning over shopping bags, backpacks, and purses to be scanned for guns, knives, and bombs. Then they had to walk through metal detectors. If anyone forgot to empty pockets of coins or remove belts with big buckles, they were pulled aside and patted down. It was a sign of the times that passengers found this process reassuring instead of annoying.

They followed a few people to the elevators, and when they realized there would be a wait, Bryce suggested hoofing it.

“Are you up for it?” Bryce asked. “It’s ten flights.”

“If we don’t sprint.”

“We’ll take it nice and easy,” Bryce said. “By the time we get to the Lido Deck, we’ll have worked up a good appetite and burned a few calories in the process.”

Seth gave him a look. “In theory that sounds great, but you know we’ll eat way more than necessary. I’ve heard the lunch buffet is quite good.”

“We’ll soon find out.”

They finally reached their destination, a little winded, and headed to the men’s room to wash their hands before standing in another line for the buffet.

Bryce looked down at his hands, which were pink from scrubbing. “At this rate, my skin will be chapped by the time we go home.”

“Don’t be such a baby,” Seth admonished. “You know what they say about the stomach bug that’s attacked cruise ships in the past. The best defense is cleanliness, and washing your hands before each meal is a must.”

“I guess it’s better than puking,” Bryce said.

“Or worse,” Seth replied knowingly. “Dry skin is a small price to pay for peace of mind. Besides”—he pulled out a handy travel-sized bottle of lotion from his fanny pack—“I have this wonderful product to prevent such a thing.”

Seth unscrewed the cap and poured a small amount into his hand, working the lotion into the crevices that cried out for moisture. “Despite the coconut in the scent, it isn’t overly greasy,” Seth commented. “Stick out your hands.”

Bryce did and watched as Seth poured an equal amount of lotion into his palms. He rubbed it in briskly. “It smells like a piƱa colada,” Bryce noted. “I think I’ll have one with lunch.”

“That does sound good, doesn’t it?” Seth agreed.

“Yeah. Come on, roomie. Let’s stuff our faces.”

Review by: multitaskingmomma
My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

This may surprise those who know me by now as there are things going on in Open Seating that can trigger a whole lot of grief for some readers. Normally, it would have had the same effect on me, but there was just something about how this was written that it made it difficult to NOT read this until the very end.

First things first. I did not like Seth at all. Then I got to understand him. Finally, I felt for him.
Second, Bryce. I did not like him at all. Then I began to sorta understand him as a man and that was when the feelings came in for me. After the initial urgh, hmmmm... noooooo! I found myself drinking tea and eating and eating and my eyes never left their unfolding... romance? ...  prelude to romance? 

Now why these questions?

Well, for one thing, as the blurb states, Seth lost someone he truly loved and didn't really deal very well with the overwhelming grief, loss and anger over his lover's suicide. These were confusing times for him and although some would argue there was no way he would have suffered over the question of going or not going on a cruise, truth is, his indecision was probably the best thing I've read about in a romantic character for a long time. It was this indecisiveness that made Seth more than just a character, he was a man who was truly suffering. I remember losing my father and most of my thoughts were  focused on my NEED to finish the Twilight Series. 

People, that is what you call DENIAL! 

Seth didn't know how to handle life after the death and probably his decision to go on the tour and bringing a friend is not the ideal on how one deals with a profound loss but that is how he did it and that is where this story brings us.

I'll gloss over the romance, it was a given especially as most of it is right there for you to see in the blurb. My focus is on how the author handled the grief process. It was real. Too real. I admit, it is confusing and have already stated that yes, this may not be acceptable to readers whose ideal of how to handle life's left hooks differs. 

Is this HEA? I would say, not. It is more like an HFN. It did happen in a very short period of time and to be honest, romances on cruise ships as a result of some kind of rebound is not an ideal way to expect a forever type of love. So, is Seth going to find it in Bryce's arms? I honestly don't know. Maybe Ms Ashling will lend us an answer to this question as it truly escapes me. 

Overall, I would really recommend reading this story. YES! it is very different, not formulaic in the sense of #dealingwithlifehacks but thing is, it is this difference that made me continue to read and go beyond the words. It gave the feels and if you're ready for something different, then this is the read for you. If you want to go around with blinders on, don't bother. You won't get the message.


Mickie B. Ashling is the pseudonym of a multifaceted woman who is a product of her upbringing in multiple cultures, having lived in Japan, the Philippines, Spain, and the Middle East. Fluent in three languages, she’s a citizen of the world and an interesting mixture of East and West. A little bit of this and a lot of that have brought a unique touch to her literary voice she could never learn from textbooks.

By the time Mickie discovered her talent for writing, real life got in the way, and the business of raising four sons took priority. With the advent of e-publishing—and the inevitable emptying nest—dreams of becoming a published writer were resurrected and she’s never looked back.

She stumbled into the world of men who love men in 2002 and continues to draw inspiration from their ongoing struggle to find equality and happiness in this oftentimes skewed and intolerant world. Her award-winning novels have been called "gut wrenching, daring, and thought provoking." She admits to being an angst queen and making her men work damn hard for their happy endings.

Mickie currently resides in a suburb outside Chicago.



Win a $10 Dreamspinner Press gift certificate, an audio code for a Mickie Ashling audiobook, or an ecopy of one of Mickie’s backlist titles. Three winners! Contest open internationally. Must be 18 or older to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


June 9 - The Novel Approach

June 10 - MM Good Book Reviews

June 11 - Mickie Ashling's Blog

June 14 - Sinfully

June 16 - Prism Book Alliance

June 20 - Diverse Reader

June 22 - Love Bytes

June 24 - On Top Down Under Book Reviews

June 28 - Bayou Book Junkie

June 29 - Multitaskingmommas


  1. Thanks for hosting my blog tour and for taking the time to review the book. Very much appreciated!

  2. I enjoyed the excerpt I have taken many narrated coach tour and enjoyed them but some are great and other have been awful!

  3. It's been a fun blog tour; again, congratulations on the book release to Mickie. Hope you have more fun travelling the world! ;-)

  4. I have really enjoyed all the excerpts - thanks for those. And thanks for the review.

    Wish I could have a pina colada with the guys. :-)

  5. I appreciate the review; it's been a great tour!


  6. Thanks for the review, i put it on my wishlist :)

  7. Thank you for the review and the blog tour. Congratulations again, Mickie.

  8. Thank you for the review and exclusive excerpt! it's been a wonderful tour =)

  9. Angela:
    Thanks for sharing all these posts on this fun blog tour.