N.R. Walker

Books: Romance | Queer

Taxes and TARDIS (2012), Blind Faith (2013), His Grandfather's Watch (2015), The Weight of It All (2016), A Very Henry Christmas (2017), Best of Both Worlds (2017), Elements of Retrofit (2017), Finders Keepers (2018), Galaxies and Oceans (2018), Upside Down (2019), Throwing Hearts (2020), Tic-Tac-Mistletoe (2020), Dearest Milton James (2021)

Red Dirt Heart: Red Dirt Heart (2014)

Hartbridge Christmas: Tic-Tac-Mistletoe (2020), Christmas Wish List (2021)

Taxes and TARDIS (2012)

Taxes and TARDISBrent Kelly and his shoe-box of receipts are about to meet his new accountant. But Logan Willis isn't old, but is instead Brent's age, and wearing a startlingly blue shirt. Logan is nothing like the kind of guy Brent usually likes, but then Brent generally doesn't see the same guy more than once.

The POV remains with Brent the entire time, which I think works particularly well for a novella, since it keeps us from knowing precisely what the second character is thinking.

Brent is strong and good looking, and although he has a good job and a best friend who is also his roommate, he doesn't really believe he's good enough for Logan.

"Are you going to see him again?"

I nodded. "I sure hope so."

"Holy shit!"

"I know, it's weird," I admitted with a smile.

"When do I get to meet him?"

I looked at him, horrified. "I don't want to scare him!"

(H)e grinned. "Well, this guy must be something special. You've never cleaned up for anyone before."

"Well, I don't want him to think we live like pigs."

Tim snorted. "But we do live like pigs."

I looked at my housemate. "Well, Logan doesn't. His place is clean and organized and expensive and… and…"

"And gay?" he deadpanned.

I rolled my eyes at him. "I just want the place to look nice." I looked around the living room at the old mismatched furniture, and I amended it with, "Well, I want it to look clean."

Brent and Tim bantering amused me very much, because they are very much best friends, even if they give each other shit all the time.

While Logan on the other hand is small and delicate and spent a lot of time being bullied.

For a novella it does a good job of showing time passing as the two get to know each other better.

It's a very sweet story, and although there was a fair amount of boinking, there was also a lot of dialog between both Brent and Logan AND Brent and Tim.

Publisher: Blue Heart Press

August 2020 | Rating: 7.5/10

Blind Faith (2013)

Blind FaithCarter Reece has moved to Boston to take a position a veterinary clinic. One of the unexpected things is that the clinic still does house calls for a few people–one of whom is Isaac Brannigan–a man who uses brashness and arrogance to hide his fear of losing those he loves.

I especially liked Isaac's sister Hannah, who was his caretaker, but who also refused to put up with his bullshit.

"A few years ago, there were a few occasions where I'd, well, I'd pissed Hannah off, and she paid me back."

"Paid you back with what?"

"Well, apparently I've worn Sesame Street and Disney to school."

I looked at Isaac. "Really, Isaac? She did that to you?"

Isaac nodded. "Apparently. Of course I didn't know until I got to school and someone told me the Big Bird shirt I was wearing was so yellow even they could see it, and they only had ten percent vision."

This was an interesting story, but it was one of her earlier books I believe, and was nowhere near as polished or good as the stories of hers I've read recently–it wasn't bad, but if this had been my introduction I might not have sought out other books by her, and I don't think I'll read the other two books in the series.

As I said, it was fine, but not great, and I think I'd rather reread some of her excellent stories.

Publisher: N.R. Walker

October 2020 | Rating: 6/10

Red Dirt Heart

Red Dirt Heart (2014)

Red Dirt HeartFor the first time since Charlie's father died, Sutton Station is going to have an agronomy exchange for a month during round-up. Charlie is hoping whoever they get will be competent and helpful.

He doesn't expect to fall in love.

One of the things I enjoyed about this story was the landscape, and how important the landscape was to everything Charlie was trying to do.

He crouched down and scooped up a handful of the dirt at his feet. "It's the reddest soil I've seen."

"It's like sand," I told him. "Poor filtration, no nutrition."

"Absolutely incredible," he said again, quieter this time, almost in wonder. He went on to talk about the soil types and geological bases of his parents' farm back in Texas. I'd forgotten that he was a student, or rather, had been a student. He'd technically finished studying— but still, I was reminded by the way he described the alkaline clays and sandy loams of his hometown that not only was he here to learn, but he also loved what he did.

I enjoyed the passion both men had for the work they loved.

What didn't work for me, right now, was the angst and self-loathing Charlie had.

I scrubbed my hands with soap and told the man in the mirror the same words his father had said.

"No fucking fairy will run this station. It takes a man's man to survive out here."

I'm not saying it didn't work for the story–it did. But it was more angst than I was up for right now.

Publisher: BlueHeart Press

August 2021 | Rating: 7.5/10

His Grandfather's Watch (2015)

His Grandfathers WatchThis is a very sweet story, told in two parts.

The first part is Alex–a young man who works in his family's antique store working with clocks and watches, falling for Callum Winters, who comes into the shop to try and learn more about a watch he inherited.

The second part of the story of the original owner of the watch, and the man who gave it to him.

I can tell you this much…" he looked directly at me, as I told him, "… whoever it was, this person with the initial B, who gave your grandfather this watch, must have loved him very much."

There are difficult parts to this story. Callum's grandmother–his only living relative–is in a home for dementia, and he has moved to be close to her in her final months. And when we get to the second story, we already know the outlines of what happens.

He marveled at how the human heart kept beating, even though it was surely broken. His lungs still took air, even though they burned. He wondered how the world still turned, when in fact, his world had just stood still.

Yet the sun still shone, life went on.

But it's a very sweet story and I highly recommend it.

Publisher: BlueHeart Press

The Weight of It All (2016)

The Weight of it AllAfter eight years, Henry Beckett's left him, because he was too old (35!) and too fat. At first Harry things that he wants to get into shape to get Graham back, but he quickly realizes he wants to make the changes for himself.

"Who's Graham?"

"What?" He put his hand up like he was stopping traffic.

"You just said, ‘And that's why Graham left me.'"

Oh shit. Did I? "Graham… Graham is the new Voldemort. We don't speak his name out loud anymore."

Which is good because we slowly discover that Graham has stiffled Harry from being who he really is.

"Everyone who tried your lemon tart loved it, Henry. It was the perfect excuse for you to talk to the people you work with, and if you'd give them a chance, they'll love you too."

I stared at her. "Is that another compliment? Because we've just been through that."

She walked to her desk. "You mispronounced thank you."

And despite the title, and despite the fact Henry starts by going to the gym, the story is really about Henry coming to terms with himself, who he had become, and who he wants to be.

It's lovely, and although Henry changes, he doesn't miraculously become a gorgeous hunk.

I wasn't perfect. In fact, I was far from it. But I was taking control of my body, of my mental headspace, and of my life.

He just becomes a better version of himself.

Publisher: BlueHeart Press

July 2020 | Rating: 8/10

A Very Henry Christmas (2017)

A Very Henry ChristmasThis is a novella / short story set a year or so after the end of The Weight of It All.

It's just a cute story of Henry throwing an elaborate Christmas Eve party for their friends. Unlike the original story, we do get a peek into Reed's thoughts (Reed's POV would not have worked well for the way that story went).

It's just a cute little happy story.

Reed played perfect host while I prepared the fish. I'd ground down some salt and spices with lemon rind in my mortar and pestle and set about rubbing that into the silvery skin. I faced the fish away from me so its beady little judgemental eyes stared at the wall.

Definitely not for someone who hasn't read The Weight of It All but a sweet, brief, escape.

August 2020 | Rating: 6/10

Best of Both Worlds (2017)

Best of Both WorldsI had no idea what I was in he mood to read, so I thought I'd go with a novella.

I read a few pages and thought this wasn't the book I was in the mood for (it opened with trigger warnings for homophobia and violence) but I decided to read another page or two, because I really didn't know what I wanted to read, and then suddenly I was finished with the story.

Sebastian Gilman has danced with the same guy every Friday night for the past month. They don't know each others names, but Sebastian wants to get to know the guy with the amazing blue eyes better.

Then the guy shows up on Sebasian's construction worksite, and everything is weird.

This story is a slow unwinding of Sebastian and Ryland coming to know each other and falling in love as Ryland has to learn how to trust people again.

The only weak part in the story involved Ryland's mother. Her change seemed very fast. Perhaps it was the events that precipitated the change, but I just wasn't sure I completely believed it.

Aside from that, I really liked the story, even if it did have bad things happen. There were no stupid misunderstandings, and although Ryland tried to push Sebastian away, his actions were understandable, considering his past.

So, a good story, and what I was actually in the mood to read last night.

Publisher: Blue Heart Press

September 2020 | Rating: 7/10

Elements of Retrofit (2017)

Elements of RetrofitThomas Elkin is 44, divorced, and a senior partner in a prestigious architecture firm. What he doesn't expect is to fall for one of the summer interns–a man who is also a friend of his son.

So. Yeah. Not my thing.

I don't love the age difference trope, and I really had issues with the younger man being a high school friend of his son. That's just… a super awkward relationship and it couldn't really get past it. (Though I did appreciate the scene when his son finds out and completely freaks out. Because: yeah.)

Publisher: Blue Heart Press

October 2020 | Rating: 6/10

Finders Keepers (2018)

Finders KeepersGriffin Burke has moved to Coolum Beach for a new job–and a promotion. He's good at being a hotel manager, even even better, he enjoys it.

"Do people really expect room service to be included?"

I scoffed. "You work in customer service, right?"

"Point taken."

When he finds a lost dog, and calls the owner, he doesn't expect much–except that the owner is away on business and Griff offers to keep Wicket for a few days until Dane Hughes is back from his work conference.

Dane was worried when his mother called to say that Wicket had escaped, and although he's relieved when a guy calls saying he's found Wicket, he feels bad that Griff is keeping Wicket rather than putting him in a kennel.

And then Griff starts sending pictures of Wicket having fun and Dane starts to fall for this cute guy who is clearly caring for his dog.

The two of them are ridiculously adorable.

"Do you want to know if I'm seeing someone?"


It sounded like he was smiling. "I'm not. Seeing anyone, that is."

Okay, so that was one hurdle down. "And if you were looking—" I cringed at how ridiculous this was. "— and used dating apps, would you use Tinder? Or maybe Grindr?" I buried my face into the sofa cushion and rolled my eyes and wanted to die.

He barked out a laugh. "Are you asking me if I'm gay?"

ALSO, there is Bernice, Griff's landlord. Who is hilarious and also adorable.

"You can ride a skateboard?" I asked. "I mean, I saw the surfboard in your living room and I assumed it was yours, but a skateboard?"

Bernice lifted her chin. "I'll have you know, I skated with the best of them in the late seventies and eighties. Those arseholes at Venice Beach told me girls couldn't do a frontside 180. So I did a 360 hardflip and shut that fucker up."

Plus the cute dog, who is central to the story. And who also gets worried when the two humans he like might possibly be hurting each other. (They are kissing.)

It's sweet and adorable and there are two romances for the one, so YAY!

Galaxies and Oceans (2018)

Galaxies and OceansTW: This story opens with one of the main characters recovering from having been beaten by his boyfriend–for not the first time.

Ethan Hosking walks out of his boyfriend's second home and into the a chaos of a wildfire and comes out of the forest as Aubrey Hobbs, a man with no past–and no identification or proof that he exists.

I learned a lot from living with Anton for four years. Physical reactions always said more than words. I learned that Anton could tell me he loved me, tell me he was sorry, tell me he'd never hurt me again, but the coldness of his eyes or the set of his mouth told me otherwise.

Patrick Carney is a lighthouse keeper on a small, isolated island. He's spent four years trying to get past the loss of his partner, but he hasn't felt any connection to anyone–until a he comes across a man who seems as if his past tried very hard to break him.

I grabbed two bottles of water and held one out to him. It was only three long strides for him to take it, but it was as though he needed to make himself walk closer to me. He took the bottle and quickly took a step back. "Thanks."

God, he was honestly scared, and I couldn't even imagine what it took for him to even say yes to coming inside with me.

This was–for obvious reasons–a hard story to read. Aubrey cannot control his reactions to people, so it is very obvious he has been physically hurt in the past. None of the abuse happens on the page, but just reading about him flinching after someone else makes an innocent gesture is heart rending.

Patrick is also dealing with a lot of grief–which is also hard to read. But he has had time, and you really want him to be happy again.

I will say that I kept expecting the story to unfold in one way, and it kept surprising me and doing something completely different.

The hard parts were hard–no two ways about that–but the problems were all external, almost all due to Aubrey having to hide who he is.

All in all, an excellent story, even if it was emotionally exhausting.

Upside Down (2019)Upside Down

This was precisely the story I needed to read. I have a ton of books on my TBR, but none of them were pulling me in.

Jordan O'Neil is a librarian who is tired of his love life never ever working out. When his co-worker (and best friend) Merry encourages him to go to an Ace support meeting, he discovers that maybe he does have to add one more label.

Also, his bus crush is running the group.

I fell in love with the story almost immediately. And not solely because of this:

Geek also probably fits, though mostly for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

Oh yes, DS9. (swoon)

But really, Jordan is just marvelous.

So, as the bus pulled in, my heart was dressed in neon Lycra, a bottle in one hand and a microphone in the other, singing Deniece Williams' "Let's Hear It For The Boy" while my brain was stoic, arms crossed, working on some algorithm or genius equation that would determine indisputably, unequivocally, that I was the dumbest motherfucker on the planet for even entertaining the idea that Hennessy would be one, single. And two, remotely interested in me.

Jordan is a delight. He is marvelous. I may secretly be Jordan.

My phone beeped in my hand and I tripped over my own feet, almost falling to the ground but catching myself just in time. "Motherfucker."

And Merry–Merry is WONDERFUL.

Merry held up a book like it was a shield. "Do you know what my favourite part of a book is?" she asked, her face stoic. She didn't give me time to change gears in the conversation.


"My favourite part of any well-written book is that it will have a beginning," she said. "And a middle, and a goddamn end, Jordan. An ending! Which is what this conversation is lacking. They're magical. Maybe you can try it."

And the bus. THE BUS!

The soup crowd made me take a seat and practice Lamaze breathing just so I could tell them all about the questions game we play."

I chuckled. "The Soup Crew?"

"Yes, the Soup Crew. That's what I call the five people who spent twenty minutes yesterday discussing soups and Nepal after your stop. They're very invested in our… well, how our relationship is progressing.

But then the guy nodded at me and rolled his eyes and smirked before standing up. "I can find another seat," he said. "I've been telling my wife about you guys, and if she ever found out I was the reason you couldn't sit together, she'd kill me."

I mean, how adorable is that?

This was perfect and I loved it and I wish there was more.

Publisher: BlueHeart Press

Throwing Hearts (2020)

Throwing HeartsLeo Secombe is happy with his job, his roommate (who is his honorary sister) and he's weekly trips with Clyde–an elder he met at the local LGBTQIA+ Center.

When I first met him, he reminded me of Sam the Eagle, the angry blue Muppet bird, and the more I got to know him, the more he reminded me of him.

Merrick Bowman is happy with his business–he makes ceramics and teaches classes. He's excited about an upcoming four session class with the local Bridge-the-Gap program but doesn't expect it to be much different from any of his other classes.

This story is the fluffiest, most adorable, sweetest ever.

Mind you, Clyde is a grump, but that's ok.

"If only you had his number."

"I'll search him up online when I get home. He'll be tagged in some of the studio pics, surely. I can follow those threads and see if there's an SO."

Clyde squinted; his caterpillar brows wiggled across his face. "I have no idea what you just said."

And Kell, his roommate is also wonderful.

"Oh God, Leo. I'm so sorry." Her face lit up then with an obvious idea. "Ooh, we can change your profile picture and your bio. Here, give me your phone. He'll never have to know."

"Or I could just move to Peru and become a llama farmer," I replied, not really joking. How was I going to face him on Friday? "Or maybe I can donate my body for organ harvesting a little sooner than expected."

"Ooh, dibs on your liver."

There is no drama here. There is no angst. It's just a lovely, sweet, delightful story, with an unexpected twist.

Publisher: Blue Heart Press

May 2020 | Rating: 8.5/10 

Hartbridge Christmas

Tic-Tac-Mistletoe (2020)

Tic-Tac-MistletoeHamish Kenneally is moving to the US. His sister has been there for four years, and there is nothing for him in Australia, so he has a two year visa, is going to remote work, and see if a change will do him good.

But he arrives in the US just a few days before Christmas, his plane is diverted to Montana because of a blizzard, and his attempt to drive the rest of the way–when he's never even seen snow before–goes about as well as everything else had for him since he left Australia.

I double-checked the map— which was ridiculously difficult to fold, mind you. It really is no wonder they went out of fashion. It was like trying to fold a fitted sheet, all while sitting behind the wheel of a car, with frozen fingers.

This is all sweet and adorable and no angst and nothing bad happens and it's wonderful and just what I needed.

Ren grinned and disappeared out the back, and when I turned back around, Liv was staring at me. "Can we just take a second to talk about how perfect he is?"

"Imma need more than a second."

Just adorable.

Publisher: BlueHeart Press

December 2021 | Rating: 8.5/10

Christmas Wish List (2021)

Christmas Wish ListLast year I read Tic-Tac-Mistletoe which was cute and sweet, so I was pretty sure I was getting cute and sweet here.

Cass inherited an old manor and has spent the last two years turning it into a modern B&B. He just needs a chef to help him through his opening.

Jayden may be from Australia, but has come to love winters in the US, and he is especially looking forward to his upcoming Christmas gig–and getting to spend Christmas in (hopefully) the snow.

"Some days I forget it's even there. Then other days it takes my breath away," I replied. "The colours don't just change by the season. They change by the hour and with every angle of the sun."

Cass loves where he is, and is going to make things work, from his B&B to his relationships with his parents, ex-wife and kids.

Jayden has been drifting from place to place and job to job, but he's beginning to wonder if he might like to stop drifting and settle down somewhere.

I loved all the cooking in this book. Even if lots of it was stuff I wouldn't eat (ie meat) it all sounded fantastic. And I appreciated the prep and work that went into making food for a large number of people.

And was amused by this:

Once the cookies were in the oven baking, Cass took both kids to wash their hands properly in the bathroom while I began to tidy up the kitchen. I had no idea kids could make so much mess.

Even now she is in double digits, I still find sprinkles after making Christmas cookies with my niece.

Cute and sweet and precisely what I needed after the Lovecraftian monsters of the previous book.

Publisher: BlueHeart Press

January 2022 | Rating: 7.5/10

Milton James

Dearest Milton James (2021)

Dearest Milton JamesMalachi Keogh's father is giving him one last chance to stick with a job. What Malachi isn't expecting is to end up at what used to be known as the Dead Letter Office.

(T)his is the Mail Redirection Centre. It used to be called The Dead Letter Office, but that sounded so . . . final.

He is expecting even less to enjoy the job.

My father stared at me, probably trying to gauge if I was being sarcastic or not. "So you . . . you actually like it?"

I shrugged, aiming for indifference. "I liked it today. And that's more than most other jobs I've had."

He did that eyebrow thing again, this time with more surprise. "Well, I'm glad to hear that."

Malachi also doesn't expect a hot boss, and a mystery.

"What letters?"

He sighed and pushed his cage to the next stop. "A pile of letters from the 1960s or 70s, I think. I dunno what's in them. They were here long before me. Found 'em all bundled up in the back of a pigeonhole; must've got lost a long time ago. But he read 'em, Julian did. And he tried to find the owner."

Honestly, the letters and the search for the author was far and away my favorite part of the story.

Dearest Milton James,

Holding your hand is a dream, even if no one can see. I know what it feels like. I have committed it to memory. Kissing you is what heaven must feel like.

I'll never tire of it. Each time it's a thrill I never dreamed possible.

And Malachi actually enjoys searching for the author and the recipient, from the clues dropped in the letter.

Publisher: BlueHeart Press

February 2022 | Rating: 7.5/10