Hi Jim! Thanks for letting me visit! Home Grown was released by Dreamspinner Press on Sept 3rd, and I’m pumped. The guys in Home Grown are from wildly different worlds and this is a story about how they learn to work through problems both of them have in their past, and their stumbling present. The other big part of the story is their love of food. Ethan is one of the vendors at the farmers market and specializes in heirloom tomatoes. One of the fun parts of the story is Ethan’s goats. So I thought I’d take a break from the recipes today and talk a little about Ethan’s goats, especially the one who seems in charge of her humans.
Ethan has dairy goats, which are kept mostly for their milk. The goat who is in charge is a specific breed called Nubian. Outside the United States they’re called Anglo-Nubian, but in the states it’s shortened to just Nubian. As you can see, they have long pendulous ears, one of their distinctive features. The long ears are from their heritage.
Nubians were developed in the UK from goats brought from the Middle East. So the ears are to help them deal with the heat. And they do cope with the heat better than most of the other dairy breeds. One of their other traits, their milk has a higher percentage of buttermilk in it than any of the others. Which is great for what Ethan wants.
Contrary to popular myth, goats don’t eat everything. They’re mostly browsers, so they tend to like to nibble from trees and bushes instead of eating grass. And yes, they can balance on their back legs to get those tender leaves higher in the tree. But they are very curious, so they are always tasting everything, which is probably why they have the reputation of eating anything.
So there you go, a little background about Ethan’s goats and the chèvre that Peter likes so much.
~ Jon ~
Peter Stevens believes nothing tastes better than a vine-ripened tomato tended by a farmer’s hands. The craving for heirloom tomatoes leads him to his local farmers’ market and his favorite vendor, Ethan Hart. As Peter becomes a regular customer, the two find they have more in common than a love of good food. Just as Ethan begins to relax, Peter's ex, Jay, appears and is all the things Ethan is not. A perfect storm of mistakes and poor choices, as well as Ethan’s haunted past, has him ready to admit defeat. With the guidance of friends and a goat far too smart for her own good, Ethan realizes he needs to have a tender hand and patience to grow a home for Peter.
Excerpt from Home Grown.
Ethan’s stomach fluttered, his anticipation building as he scanned the early morning farmer’s market crowd. Stop it. Peter will show up when he shows up. Ethan snapped his attention back to the present when the small gray-haired woman who ran the booth beside him tucked herself under his arm and hugged him tight.
“Morning, Maggie. How are things going?” Ethan kissed the top of her head and returned her embrace.
“Not bad, not bad. I’ve put out all the soaps. I hope everyone feels dirty today and stocks up.”
Ethan chuckled at the image of mud people gathering around Maggie’s stall. “Well, my customers can be clean. But I think business today will be good. The late season tomatoes are finally ripe, and I’ve had lots of people asking about them.”
Heat crept up Ethan’s cheeks. “Peter? I don’t know. Probably. You know he has a thing for my tomatoes.”
“Uh-huh, yeah. I might have been born at night, but it wasn’t last night. Admit it to Auntie Maggie, you have the hots for the boy, and I think he has a thing for more than your tomatoes.”
Ethan brushed off her speculation with a wave of his hand. “Maggie, you’re crazy. That man’s some kinda high-powered muckety-muck downtown. He’d never know I lived in Wisconsin if I didn’t have the best tomatoes in the market.”
Ethan studied the forming crowd, their sounds echoing through the building. “It looks like it’s getting busy, I’d better check to make sure I got everything from the truck.”
He embraced her again and trotted out the side door to his pickup. I’m not ready to talk to anyone about my feelings about Peter.
Jon Keys’ earliest memories revolve around books; with the first ones he can recall reading himself being “The Warlord of Mars” and anything with Tarzan. (The local library wasn’t particularly up to date.) But as puberty set in he started sneaking his mother’s romance magazines and added the world of romance and erotica to his mix of science fiction, fantasy, and comic books.
A voracious reader for almost half a century, Jon has only recently begun creating his own flights of fiction for the entertainment of others. Born in the Southwest and now living in the Midwest, Jon has worked as a ranch hand, teacher, computer tech, roughneck, designer, retail clerk, welder, artist, and, yes, pool boy; with interests ranging from kayaking and hunting to painting and cooking, he draws from a wide range of life experiences to create written works that draw the reader in and wrap them in a good story.