Title: Redeeming the Stepbrother
Author: Andrew Grey
Series: A Tale from St. Giles Book 2
Genre: M/M Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: April 10 2018
Edition/Formats Available In: eBook & Print
Family can be a blessing and a curse, but for artist Florian, it’s a nightmare he longs to escape.
As chief designer for Bartholomew Artist Porcelain, Florian specializes in painting birds. He also watches them in the wild to distract himself from his short-tempered mother, at least temporarily. Florian’s heart is too soft to leave his stepsister, Ella, to suffer alone. Still, he can’t help dreaming about one day finding happiness and love.
When Count Dieter von Hollenbach arrives in town to visit a friend and present an award, he isn’t looking for romance. Then again, he doesn’t expect someone as perfect as Florian to come into his life. To make sure Florian is all he seems and that their connection is genuine, Dieter keeps his title to himself.
But he isn’t the only one with a secret.
At a masquerade ball to celebrate the award, some of the masks fall away, but those that remain in place could destroy the love beginning to grow between them.
This area was marshy during part of the year and I had to be careful where I walked so I didn’t sink into the muck, but it was perfect for birds of all kinds.
I wasn’t disappointed. I emerged from the tall reeds to spot a great blue heron about twenty feet away. It was beautiful, and I didn’t want to scare it, but I also wanted a picture. I had ideas for a series of works featuring the impressive bird—tall, statuesque, shining in the sunlight.
I slowly moved back into the reeds, lifted my camera to position it between the long grass stems, and began snapping pictures. It was stunning, and I’d gotten enough to be able to represent the detail I wanted when a splash startled the bird and it flew away, darting over the water.
“Scheisse,” a deep voice swore. I knew the word from my high school class as a version of “shit,” but wondered why I was hearing German. Another splash came, louder than the first, so I slowly worked my way forward to see what the trouble was.
“You scared the bird,” I scolded and then saw a man, taller than me. He had to be well over six feet and was dressed like someone out of a forties period movie, with a wool hat, a coat complete with elbow patches, and puffy pants. His boots and legs stuck in the mud almost to his knees. An old pair of binoculars hung around his neck. I bit my lower lip to keep from laughing.
“Will you help me?” he asked, and I slowly made my way closer.
“Got yourself in a mess, didn’t you?” I was careful not to get caught in the same bog. “You have to feel before you step.” I managed to get close enough to take his hand. “Pull up one foot and try not to lose your boot.”
“I am.” He lifted his foot, the sucking sound loud in the stillness. He got the foot loose and stepped toward me.
“Hold on.” I bent down a bunch of the reeds. “Step on those.”
He did and got his other foot loose, though this time the mud nearly got his boot. It hung on his foot as he swung around, and he tugged it back on and stepped onto the grass.
“Come this way.” I led him through the reeds, back toward dry ground and the cars.
“I think you come here often,” he said, swatting cakes of mud off the knees of his pants.
I wondered if that was some German version of the old pickup line for a second, but tossed the thought away.
“Yes. I’m familiar with the area. I watch the birds so I can paint them.” I took a step onto solid ground, mud all the way up my boots but sparing my pants. Good. There would be hell to pay if my pants were caked with mud. “I’m Florian.” I held out my hand.
“Dieter,” he said as he shook my hand.
I stomped my feet to get some of the mud off my boots. They would dry soon enough and the mud would flake off pretty easily. “On vacation I take it? Judging by the accent and all.”
“In a way.” Dieter pulled off his hat, exposing light blond hair down to his shoulders that would make a model green with envy. “I’m here on business and decided to take some time to see the sights.” He held up his binoculars. “I study birds back in Bavaria and wanted to get a look at some of yours here. I didn’t realize there would be hazards.” He smiled a little, and I relaxed. At least Dieter had a decent sense of humor to go along with an amazing smile and eyes the color of the sky. My cheeks heated as thoughts of what I’d like to do with his full pink lips went through my head.