Blog Tour, Guest Post, & Giveaway – Charlie’s Hero by Nic Starr

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Why does food always feature in my books?

As I was reading through the final edits on one of my upcoming books (Andrew’s Promise, the sequel to Charlie’s Hero), I sensed a common theme that appears in all my stories. There is always someone cooking.

In Andrew’s Promise, it’s the mum of one of the characters. She is making an apple pie while talking to her son. As she instructs Tanner in the art of making pastry, she passes on her wisdom, giving him some good motherly advice.

In Charlie’s Hero, Josh tries to cook for Charlie. I say ‘try’ because Josh isn’t much of a cook. He’s much better off reheating, rather than making something from scratch, but he’ll often resort to takeout. Josh prepares food for Charlie because he wants to take care of him. It’s his way of showing his love and concern. The two share a running joke as Josh tries to get Charlie to eat more salad but “you don’t win friends with salad”, a reference fans of The Simpsons will understand.

So why do my characters cook?

I think it’s because cooking features so heavily in my own life. On a daily basis, I’m feeding my own family, trying to get them to eat healthily. Or I’m preparing a favourite dish because someone needs cheering up. Without fail, catching up with friends usually involves food, whether it be a dinner party or a casual barbecue. When friends are going through hard times and struggling, providing them with a home-cooked meal is the first thing I think of. I’m sure my Tupperware containers have done quite a few rounds of my friends and family.

I find cooking therapeutic, creative and a way of showing my love. My characters share these traits.

In the final scene of Charlie’s Hero, one of the characters, an EMT named Brian, brings Lemon Bars to a barbecue. The Lemon Bars were baked by Charlie’s neighbour as a thank you to the boys for helping her. Again, this is a reflection of my own life. A friend from the US turned up to a barbecue I hosted with a huge plate of Lemon Bars. He couldn’t believe I hadn’t tried them before. It goes without saying they were yummy! I asked for the recipe and here it is for those of you who like to bake.


Image courtesy of Suat Eman at


Lemon Bars

½ cup butter

¼ cup powdered sugar

1 cup flour

Lemon zest from 1 lemon

Mix above ingredients as you would make a pie crust (Cut in the butter. The mixture will be very loose/dry, but will come together in the oven as the heat melts the butter) and pat down loosely in an 8” square pan.

Bake at 350°F, 20-25 min., until brown.

1 cup granulated sugar

½ tsp baking powder

2 Tablespoons flour

5 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 eggs, slightly beaten

lemon zest from one lemon

In medium bowl, whisk together granulated sugar, baking powder, and flour.

Whisk in lemon juice, lemon zest, and eggs until thoroughly combined.

Pour the custard into pan over baked crust and bake again (at 350°F) until set, 20 to 30 min. Remove and cool on wire rack.

When cooled, dust w/ additional powdered sugar and cut into bars

The lemon bars will keep for 1 week, refrigerated.


Nic xx

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Title: Charlie’s Hero

Series: Heroes

Author: Nic Starr

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Cover Artist: Bree Archer

Length: 200 Pages

Release Date: June 17, 2015

Blurb: Schoolteacher Charlie Matthews returns to his hometown, looking to regain a sense of community, reconnect with friends, and settle down. It looks like his dreams have come true when paramedic Josh Campbell attends an accident at the school. It’s love at first sight, and a romance begins.

But Josh’s reluctance to come out to the brother who raised him, puts pressure on their fledgling relationship. While Charlie understands Josh’s concerns, he can’t help growing impatient. After all, Charlie came out years ago.

It’s not until Charlie confronts his own parents and realizes he hasn’t come to terms with their rejection that he fully understands what Josh has to lose. But Josh is Charlie’s hero, and Josh will do anything to prove to Charlie that to be part of a family, he doesn’t need his parents.


HE WAS in love. Totally, wonderfully, head over heels in love. Love with a capital L, hell, love in full uppercase. All it took was one look, one simple glance, and he was a goner. Of course the object of his admiration was classically handsome—tall and athletic, glowing with good health. Bright eyes, wide smile, waves of shining hair tucked behind perfect ears. He was like all Charlie’s dreams come true, with golden skin hugging strong muscles that strained on long limbs. But even if Charlie hadn’t been attracted to the man’s spectacular good looks, there was no way to overlook his actions.

CharliesHeroORIG-final-01 (1)When Charlie first saw him, he was kneeling on the schoolyard ground, tending to a little girl who was lying prone on the soft-fall rubber surface under the play equipment. She was one of Charlie’s second graders. Her right leg, bent at a strange, unnatural angle, gave a big clue as to her injury. Charlie hoped the leg was the worst she was hurt.

An efficient auburn-haired paramedic was treating her injured leg while the gorgeous guy knelt by her head, hands on either side of her blonde curls, keeping her still. He whispered into her ear, the words obviously having a calming effect—the little girl stared intently up at him, the hitch in her breathing the only evidence of any distress. There was a gentleness to his touch, despite the large hands, and caring in his tone as he concentrated on his patient. How could Charlie not fall in love with this glorious combination of caring, masculine beauty?

“Mr. Matthews. Mr. Matthews.” The urgent high-pitched voice and persistent tugging on his hand drew his attention reluctantly away from the scene unfolding in the playground. Shit, he thought, what the hell am I doing just standing here staring when I should be taking care of the other children, who are no doubt worried and scared? Dropping to one knee and looking Jennifer in the eye, Charlie gave her his full attention. “What is it, Jenny?” he asked, knowing she was going to voice her worry about her small friend on the ground.

“Is Alison going to be all right, Mr. Matthews?” she asked in a low and quavering voice. He replied in a way he hoped would calm her fears, by keeping his voice even and low.

“She’ll be fine, Jenny. Her mummy and daddy will meet her at the hospital, and Miss Bryant is going to go stay with her until they get there. Alison is in very good hands. See those paramedics?” He pointed toward the action under the monkey bars, and she looked across at the small group on the ground and nodded gravely. “Well, they’re very good at their jobs. They’re going to take Alison to the hospital so the doctors can put a cast on her leg. I’m sure she’ll be back at school in no time.”

“But she won’t be able to play,” she whispered, obviously still worried for her friend.

“No, she won’t,” he admitted. “At least she won’t be able to run around for a while, but she will be able to draw and play board games. I know you love to draw, so maybe you can play with Alison to make her feel better. I bet you’ll be able to write your name on the cast too.”

At that, Jenny met his gaze and finally smiled. “Really!” she said with excitement. “That’d be totally cool!”

They looked up as the paramedics wheeled past with the gurney. Little Alison was tightly strapped aboard. She was lying still, no doubt in shock, and holding tightly to the hand of Charlie’s hero. He only glanced their way for a second, obviously reluctant to take his attention away from the little girl who needed him, but that was enough. Their gazes connected, his warm brown eyes seeming to look straight into Charlie’s soul. The surge of emotion that flooded through him took him by surprise. The paramedic blinked and the spell was broken. They moved swiftly past Jenny and Charlie, then loaded the gurney into the back of the ambulance.

Charlie stood frozen to the spot, still holding Jenny’s small hand in his, and watched the ambulance leave. Finally he took a deep breath, turned back to the schoolyard, and started to round up any children still in the playground.

“Come on, everyone,” he called. “It’s time to get back to class.”

As the last stragglers made their way into the single-story building that housed the small group of classrooms, he knew he would be spending the afternoon reassuring the children. He decided that making get-well cards for Alison would be the best way of distracting the group of second graders.












Author PicNic Starr lives in Australia where she tries to squeeze as much into her busy life as possible. Balancing the demands of a corporate career with raising a family and writing can be challenging but she wouldn’t give it up for the world.

Always a reader, the lure of m/m romance was strong and she devoured hundreds of wonderful m/m romance books before eventually realising she had some stories of her own that needed to be told!

When not writing or reading, she loves to spend time with her family-an understanding husband and two beautiful daughters-and is often found indulging in her love of cooking and planning her dream home in the country.

You can find Nic on Facebook, Twitter and her blog. She’d love it if you stopped by to say hi.


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TourScheduleJune 17:

Multitasking Mommas Book Reviews

Hearts on Fire

Gay.Guy.Reading And Friends

June 18:

A Celebration of Books

The Purple Rose Tea House

Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents

June 19:

Bayou Book Junkie

Prism Book Alliance

Because Two Men Are Better Than One

June 22:

Nessa’s Book Reviews

Diverse Reader

My Fiction Nook

June 23:

MM Good Book Reviews

Divine Magazine

Love Bytes Reviews

June 24:

Bike Book Reviews

The Novel Approach

Elisa – My reviews and Ramblings

June 25:

BFD Book Blog

Drops of Ink


June 26:

Eyes on Books

Foxylutely Books

Gay Media Reviews

June 29:

Nautical Star Books

Louise Lyons

Sid Love Writes

June 30:

Rainbow Gold Reviews

Molly Lolly: Reader, Reviewer, Lover of Words

LeAnn’s Book Reviews