Friday, June 30, 2017

Blog Tour ~ Gnarly by Mickie B. Ashling ~ (Review + GuestPost)

Hi all! Thanks for stopping by to help me celebrate my latest release, Gnarly, a long novella that is part of Dreamspinner’s World of Love collection. The setting for this story is San Sebastian, a beautiful seaside town in Northern Spain (Basque Country).
Gnarly is a standalone. The only similarity to my other series featuring a Basque character (Loving Edits Series) is that it’s m/m/m. There’s something about the area that compels me to write polyamorous relationships. I’m not certain why. My best guess is the overabundance of eye candy. I had the opportunity to spend six weeks in San Sebastian—Sanse as the locals call it—last summer, and left with a small arsenal of plot bunnies.
Basques are passionate about cooking and eating. Today I’d like to share a recipe for Alubias Rojas de Tolosa.
Tolosa is a small town located about twenty miles south of San Sebastián. The dried red beans of the region are particularly flavorful and highly prized. This red bean stew is traditionally accompanied with the spicy-hot pickled peppers known as guindillas.
Before we move on to the recipe and excerpt, I’d like to thank Bayou Book Junkie for hosting my blog tour visit, and J my wonderful publicist, for her excellent help in keeping me organized.


Title: Gnarly

Author: Mickie B. Ashling

Series: Dreamspinner’s World of Love collection (Spain)

Genre: M/M/M, Contemporary Gay Romance

Length: 172 pages

Cover Artist: Brooke Albrecht

Release Date: June 21, 2017


Dr. Ed Hollingsworth, widowed for five years, returns to San Sebastián, Spain, after a thirty-year absence. He seeks out his first and only male lover, pro surfer Javi Elizalde.
After surviving a near-fatal shark attack, Javi turned his back on the sport he loves and became a recluse.
Iker Lizaso, professional jai alai player, finds himself at loose ends now that his contract has expired. Forced to retire at thirty-eight, he returned to his home in the Basque Country to figure out what to do with the rest of his life.
Three different men, encumbered by their past, converge in a city famous for its food, summer festivals, and romantic promenades. Can they find happiness together? It’ll be difficult, maybe even improbable, considering their backgrounds, but Cupid’s arrow usually hits the mark, and this particular strike might be epic.


Dreamspinner Press
Barnes & Noble

RECIPE: Alubias Rojas de Tolosa

  • 1 ½ pounds dried red kidney beans
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 5 ounces salt pork, in one piece
  • 3 (3-ounce) chorizos
  • 6 cups water
  • Salt
  • 1 small head green cabbage, coarsely chopped
  • 3 sausages (the Basques use morcillas aka blood sausages but you can use whatever you prefer)
  • 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
  • 8 pickled guindilla (you can substitute with jalapeño, banana, or any other spicy green chilies)
  • Rinse the beans in a colander under cold running water. Place in a bowl, add water to cover by 2 inches, and let soak for at least 8 hours or up to overnight.
  • Drain the beans, place in a stockpot, and add water to cover by 1 inch. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, the onion, and the salt pork and bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered, at a gentle boil, stirring occasionally.
  • After the beans have cooked for 1 hour, add the chorizos. Add warm water if needed to keep the beans covered, and continue to boil gently for 1 hour longer, or until the beans are tender.
  • Meanwhile, in a saucepan, bring the 6 cups water to a boil over high heat. Salt the water lightly, add the cabbage, and cook for about 20 minutes, or until the cabbage has lost its volume. Decrease the heat to medium, add the sausage, and cook for 20 minutes longer, or until the sausage is fork-tender. Lift the sausages from the pot and keep them warm on a serving platter. Drain the cabbage, squeezing it thoroughly to eliminate any excess liquid. In a sauté pan, heat the remaining 4 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, or until golden. Add the cabbage and turn several times in the oil and garlic to heat through and blend the flavors. Transfer the cabbage to a serving platter and keep warm.
  • When the beans are tender, remove the chorizos and salt pork to the platter holding the sausage. Slice the meat into 2-inch pieces. (For ease, you can transfer the meats to a cutting board for slicing and then return them to the platter.)
  • Transfer the beans to a warmed serving bowl and place on the table along with the platter of sausages, cabbage, and salt pork. Offer the guindillas (spicy chilies) on the side.


They crossed the street and sat on the concrete barrier, silently watching the waves curl and break on the sand. The beach was deserted since it was past eleven in the evening and the wind was picking up. Javi shivered and Ed put his arm around his shoulders, drawing him close. He wasn’t sure if Javi was reliving the horror or just cold.
“Are you okay?” Ed asked softly.
Javi nodded.
Iker reached for Javi’s hand and squeezed.
Javi looked surprised by the gesture and rewarded Iker with a smile.
“It’s nice out here at night,” Iker said in a low voice.
“Yeah, it’s the best,” Javi reminisced. “When I was a kid, I’d sneak out at night and go swimming. It drove my father crazy, but it was one of my favorite things to do in the summer. Floating on my back and looking up at the stars. It was so peaceful. I felt truly one with the sea.”
“We should do that again,” Iker said. “Instead of floating, we can take one of my boards so you don’t get tired. Go tandem.”
“Hell no,” Javi said vehemently.
“I’ll be with you,” Iker reassured him.
“No,” Javi said firmly. “Absolutely not. Let’s go home.”
Ed and Iker exchanged silent glances. As they made their way back to the apartment, Ed realized that getting Javi back into his wet suit might be a pipe dream. He was seriously traumatized, and no amount of trust or persuasion would make a difference if he didn’t believe himself capable of surviving out there.
The first step had to be a complete physical recovery. He’d never get his eye back, but it didn’t seem to be a problem. Javi never complained about his sight. His chief complaint was his foot, or lack thereof. Once he had full use of both legs and his balance was restored, things might improve. At the moment he was still feeling terribly vulnerable. Underneath the biting wit and prickly exterior lay a man who was beaten down by the very sport that had uplifted him for years.
Ed knew there was a warrior lurking somewhere beneath the terror, and it would be up to he and Iker to draw him out. Until then they’d bide their time and love Javi back to health as best as possible.

*Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie for my reading pleasure in hopes of an unbiased opinion, a review was not a requirement.*

Gnarly is part of Dreamspinner Press World of Love series, stories that span the world. The majority of this story took place in San Sebastian, Spain, a place the author spent some time exploring. San Sebastian sounds like the perfect getaway based on the descriptions in this book, and it was interesting learning about another area of the world.
This story is about rekindling an old relationship, finding love, and being accepting of an unconventional relationship. Ed is a doctor that finds himself questioning his life when it's time to move on. His wife died, and his twin sons are away finishing college, and he's unsure what's next for him. He decides to make a return trip to Spain, a place he has fond memories of, and with the hope of finding the only male lover he's had. When he finds Javi, he's not welcomed back with open arms and instead finds an angry, depressed man. When Javi orders him away, Ed decides to make the most of his time and explore the island and beach, which is where he meets local lifeguard Iker. Ed's reappearance has kicked Javi in the pants and forced him out of bed and back into life. 

The first half of this book is very mundane and slow, but it's filled with a lot of backstory and sets up the relationship between the three men. At first, the only character I liked was Iker. He seemed to be easy going and accepting of his life. I don't feel like I got to know him as well as Ed and Javi, and at times he seemed to be more of a third-wheel. This was really a story about Javi and Ed. I liked Javi and enjoyed seeing him work through his depression and get his life on track. Even though he was in his 50's, we saw him grow up on the page and accept the life he's been given and work to make it better. It took a while for me to like Ed. He had his affair with Javi as a young man, then just forgot about him and went on with his life, but now that his life was different, he's suddenly back for Javi. 

I'd consider this a Hfn ending, more than a HEA, but the promise for a future was there. If you don't enjoy menage stories, this isn't for you, though! Otherwise, give this story a chance and learn about a beautiful part of the world!
Rating: 3 stars


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.



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June 21 - The Novel Approach
June 23 - Molly Lolly
June 26 - Love Bytes
June 28 - On Top Down Under
June 30 - Bayou Book Junkie
July 3 - MM Good Book Reviews


  1. Thanks for the review! And for another yummy-sounding recipe! I love Spanish chorizo. Where I live, I have to mail order it, but it is so worth it.

  2. I enjoyed the excerpt, poor Javi I hope with Ed and Iker love he can begin to heal. Thank for the recipe too it sounds delicious.

  3. I have never thought about night swimming in the sea but Javi's description makes me think I should add it to my bucket list. The bean stew sounds delicious! I'm really liking all the new recipes.

  4. Congratulations again for your release, Mickie. And thanks for the excerpt

  5. Congrats and thanks for the post. I’d love to visit Spain, and I can via your story, and the polyamorous relationship sounds intriguing.- Purple Reader,

  6. This was a good, strong scene. Thanks for sharing, and GAH! I want morcillas! Haven't had them in so many years :(
    I've really been enjoying this tour :)
    taina1959 @ yahoo . com

  7. Thank you for the post. I've not tried this before but it sounds so delicious!

  8. Thanks for the recipe & excerpt!

  9. Thanks so much for the recipe and excerpt.