Blog Tour Stop & Excerpt: The Winter Quarters by Anna Veriani

Title: The Winter Quarters by Anna Veriani
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Imprint: Dreamspun Desires
Genre: Contemporary, Gay, Romance
Length: 242 pages/Word Count: 61,283


Snow, steam, and a second chance.

Reluctant socialite Kai has thirty-five days before his family starts shooting the next season of their reality TV show, revealing a life he’d rather keep private—and one that feels increasingly scripted. Desperately needing a break, Kai escapes to his childhood best friend Hiro Asada’s inn in rural Japan. He finds peace in the thousand-year-old hot springs, but his yearning for Hiro resurfaces at the worst time: Hiro is about to inherit the inn, and his parents expect him to marry within the year.

Hiro’s traditional family loves him for who he is, but they can’t imagine two men running the inn. Meanwhile, Kai has a TV contract his lawyer insists can’t be broken. Hiro and Kai need to think outside the box—and solve their problems before Christmas Day, when Kai’s show shoots its annual holiday special.

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VERONICA Hillstone, his PR manager, was talking without pause, and Kai could easily imagine her face purpling as she sputtered.

“I have no idea where you are, and your security calls me, asking me where you could be, and I am left to worry about what people are going to think when I don’t know where you are and—”

“I’m okay, though,” Kai said, flinching when he realized she hadn’t said she was worried about him.

“That’s great.” She made it sound like a filthy curse. “When are you going to be back at the studio?”

“Studio?” Kai repeated blankly. His voice echoed against dressing room walls. He might have toweled off, but his hair was still damp, and he was shivering. He’d left his yukata in a bin just outside the shower room. He’d tried to put it on one-handed and failed, dropping the entire bin onto the floor. He gave up rather than putting the phone down while Veronica raged at him. He felt distinctly vulnerable being yelled at while nude, even if Veronica had no idea. “I’m taking advantage of my vacation.”

“But you haven’t updated your Instagram in eighteen hours. Didn’t you leave orders for your assistant? And what about the interview I scheduled for you and James? You’re supposed to show off the new car he bought you.”

Kai felt like he’d just swallowed something bitter.

“He’s not buying me a car. I can buy my own car.”

“Good. You can pay for the Lovey Buggy, then,” she said.

“The what?”

“That’s what we’re going to say you named the car we’ll say James got you. It’s going to be a Tesla. Very green. People will love it.”

He groaned.

“No? We can figure out the details later. Just get back here, Ledging.”

His heart sank to his stomach. “I was really hoping for just….” Thirty-five days. “Until the Christmas special,” he said. “I’ll come back in time for filming.”

The Asadas were like a second family to him, and even if they didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving, he trusted Hiro to make the day special. The thought of eating a roast turkey across from James Duffy made him want to cry.

“That better be a joke, Ledging.” She sounded devoid of humor.


“Oh-ho-ho. A week or longer. Do you hear yourself? Do you have any idea how many people are on the hook for your little getaway right now? James is furious. And where the hell are you? Did you even think about—”

Kai held the phone away from his ear as her voice got louder and louder. He felt like she was right in the room with him, screaming in his face. He could imagine the spittle flying from her lips.

He jumped when someone touched his arm, but it was only Hiro holding open his cotton yukata for him. Kai looked over his shoulder and silently thanked him, pushing his arms through the sleeves.

As Veronica continued to holler, Hiro wrapped his arms around Kai, tying the robe’s belt around his waist. Kai wanted to sink into his body heat, but he restrained himself.

Finally Hiro took the phone from him. Kai probably should have stopped him, but he was completely numb.

“Hello?” Hiro spoke.

“Who the hell is this?” Veronica screamed.

“This is Hiro.” Hiro was completely unperturbed. He added cheerfully, “I’m hanging up now. Bye-bye.”

He ended the call and turned off Kai’s phone as Kai rubbed his temples. He had a headache coming on.

“You really shouldn’t have done that,” he said.

“Just giving my outside perspective here: that conversation didn’t seem productive.” Hiro squeezed his shoulder. God, Kai wanted to hug him. Hold him. Be held.

“I made a mistake,” he said. “I should never have come here.”

“Of course you should have.”

“No, I’m sorry, you don’t understand.” Kai stepped back. “Veronica—my PR manager—is right. I left without telling anyone, and I have about fifteen people in my employment who are wondering where I am right now. I have scheduled interviews and promo shoots. Paychecks to sign and promo events to host….” He swallowed. “I’m so sorry, Hiro. I have to go back. Tonight.”

He felt pressure building behind his eyes as he said the words, but Hiro’s only response was to tilt his head back and release a bark of a laugh.


Hiro interrupted him with a finger on his lips.

“I’m fairly certain that in the last hour or so, it has been established that I would dominate you in a wrestling match,” Hiro said. Kai felt hot like he was back in the water. “If you think I won’t tie you up before I let you leave this inn, you have another thing coming to you, my friend.”

All Kai’s atavistic brain could process was: He’s gay, he’s gay, he’s gay. And all the times he’s wrestled you—he was gay then, too.

“Don’t say I don’t understand,” Hiro added softly.

He cupped Kai’s chin and lifted his head so that Kai had to look him in the eyes. “I know what it’s like to have responsibilities that you’d do anything to get away from. I was born an Asada, remember? From the time I was a baby, all I heard was ‘One day this inn will be yours; one day this will all be your responsibility, Hiro.’ Do you have any idea how much I hated that?”

Kai blinked. “But you love this inn. Being its owner is your… your calling.”

“Damn right it is,” said Hiro. “And you know how I know that?”

Kai shook his head.

“Because I escaped. I went to NYU. I lived on the other side of the world for four years, and by the time I had my degree, I knew that the only thing I wanted to do—what I wanted more than anything in the world—was run the Asada Inn. But I needed to leave home before I could realize where my home really was.”

“I never knew that.” Hiro had always seemed effortlessly mature to Kai, prepared to accept his duties with grace.

“This is your time away from home, Kai.” Hiro put his hands on his shoulders. “I know exactly how stressful it is to be away from your work. I’m not telling you to take some carefree holiday. You’re too selfless for that.”

Hiro tucked Kai’s phone into the belt of his own robe. “But I’m not going to let you leave for New York reluctantly. When you check out of Asada Inn, it’ll be because you’re ready to go home again.”

Author Bio

Anna Veriani was born with a deep love of queer lit and .99¢ New York pizza slices. After graduating from NYU with a degree in East Asian Studies, she set sail for Ishikawa, Japan. Now she spends her days writing by the river and dreaming of opening an expat pizzeria.

Author Links: Website * Twitter * Newsletter * Goodreads

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