Hello bookwyrms and friends!
I hope you’re all staying safe and healthy and very preferably alive! I finally graduated! It’s kind of weird not having any school work anymore after like 17 years of them, but hey at least that tuition is done and over with? (Okay, I have no clue how to Adult after this pls send help.)
Welcome to my stop on the Grave Humor blog tour! We’ve got a sneak peek in R.J. Blain’s latest magical romantic comedy, but before that happens, here’s a look at what the book is all about:Grave Humor by R.J. Blain
Other Books: Grave Humor
Published by Pen & Page Publishing on May 12, 2020
Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Romance
Most days, Anwen regrets working at a funeral home despite the good pay. With the residents no longer inclined to stay in their coffins where they belong, she’s got her hands full making sure everyone follows the rules:
In the funeral home, there is no screaming, no murdering, no mutilation, no possessions, no kidnappings, no resurrections, and no cursing of any type. Be quiet and stay polite.
The day Old Man McGregor decides to take a walk and disturbs her peace, Anwen learns there’s a lot more to the basement in the funeral home than a vampire and a handsome gentleman on ice.
If she’s not careful, she’ll learn first-hand why ‘eternally yours’ is the most potent of threats.
Warning: this novel contains romance, humor, bodies, shenanigans, and mythological puppies. Proceed with caution.
Grave Humor Sneak Peek
“That would be mean of me. All right, Anwen. I’ll give this hand to you. How do you get your groceries, and what does me going back to my coffin have to do with it?” The old, dead man sat across from me, squishing as he made himself comfortable. After the first dozen chatterbox corpses, I’d convinced the funeral home director to use thick pleather cushions, which were a breeze to clean. An hour with the right chemicals and some elbow grease, and no one would know Old Man McGregor had left his coffin and gone for a stroll.
“It’s simple. At your viewing—before and after, too—you don’t make anyone scream. You don’t scream. Nobody screams. Director Hammel hates when people scream in his funeral home. If no one screams or breaks any of the other rules, I get groceries. My current wage doesn’t pay for my bills and my groceries, so it’s really nice when a lively corpse behaves. If one behaves every month, I get my groceries. It works well for everyone.”
Once and only once, two corpses had felt sorry for me, and I’d gotten to have a nice steak to go with enough food to get by plus an entire pack of cigarettes.
Damn it, I could use a smoke, and I didn’t care if it landed me in my grave early. If someone brought me to my work for interment, I’d go out with a bang and work hard to break every damned rule on my way out. With the way my thoughts kept going, I had a ticket to hell, and damn it all, I meant to earn it.
I understood the skepticism in the old man’s voice. Director Hammel knew everybody in town, and the smart ones gave my boss a wide berth for good reason.
Old Man McGregor, while considered the town’s almost-lovable nuisance, wasn’t stupid.
“That’s it,” I confirmed, although I did nod towards the placard informing guests of the funeral home’s rules.
“I can do what I want as long as nobody screams?”
I pointed at the rules. “Those still apply.”
Old Man McGregor turned in the chair and read, “No screaming, no murdering, no mutilation, no possessions, no kidnapping, no resurrections, and no cursing of any type. Please remain quiet and polite.”
“If you obey all those rules, I’m paid a bonus in the form of a grocery store gift card tomorrow morning.”
“What’s in it for me?”
And there it was, the usual request for a bribe. If he wanted to be bribed, I could give him an ultimatum the dead wisely feared. “I won’t call the priest or tell Director Hammel you got out of your coffin. I’ll clean up before the viewing, and should you decide to do something that doesn’t break the rules, I’ll play dumb.”
Sometimes, giving the dead a chance to stretch their legs and play harmless pranks before they returned to the ground helped them accept their final rest. If he didn’t go down and stay down by tomorrow morning, the priest would handle the details with no one being the wiser his sermon was more than showing respects for the dearly not-quite departed.
“That ain’t hard for you, youngin’. We all know you never did finish your schoolin’ like a good girl. Why not, anyway? In my day, why, we would’ve given an arm and a leg for the chances you’ve thrown away.”
I considered taking my phone and beating the corpse to his final rest. “I could just call for the priest.”
“No, no. That’s all right. I never did get along with that jackass anyway. Indulge an old dead man, Anwen m’dear. Why quit? You’ve nowhere to go now. Your old man kicked you out over it, didn’t he? I’ve heard things you know. You made your momma cry.”
I picked up the phone, cradled it between my shoulder and ear, and cracked my knuckles in a show of preparation. Disgust and fury grew as a cold seed deep within my chest. “So I did, Mr. McGregor.” She’d cried because I hadn’t given her any fucking money to chase after her vices. She’d never given a shit about my schooling; to her, women existed to provide men with children, and all education did was get in the way of the procreation. She’d done her duty having me, and that was as far as it went with her. “I’m going to give you three choices. I recommend you choose wisely, or the priest will be over here in ten minutes to ruin your fun.”
“Three? Wasn’t it two before?”
Asshole old man. With enough work, could a spine be ripped out through a nostril? “Now it’s three. Are you going to cooperate and hear your choices, or am I just going to give the priest a call?”
“Choice one: you return quietly to your coffin and play dead until your funeral. Choice two: I call the priest so he can deal with you. Choice three: I tell you why I quit school, and when I’m done, you return to your coffin.”
“And what?” I returned the phone to its cradle. “That’s it. You return to your coffin. The end. Do whatever you want, but I’m not going to have some old dead coot judging me because he’s an ignorant ass.”
“You’ll lose your groceries if you let me do what I want.”
“You’re the town’s troublemaker. I’m an idiot for even entertaining the idea I might get a bonus tomorrow with you involved. Why get my hopes up?”
“I’ll take option three, please.”
Since when the hell did Old Man McGregor take mercy on any of his targets, especially when there was fun to be had? Well, if he wanted the truth, I’d give it to him—and maybe the old coot would go bother my parents for a while before heading to his grave where he belonged. “Dear old dad took my college fund and wasted it on hookers and blow in Vegas. My mother cried because I told her the truth, but she wanted me to think she hadn’t taken her half. She also wanted me to give her money. She’d used her half to get high while Dad was busy banging every prostitute in Nevada. Since I couldn’t afford college, why bother finishing the rest of high school? I dropped. No point in a diploma I can’t do jack shit with, and since my oh-so-loving parents returned to Vegas to finish blowing whatever the fuck else money they stole, I needed to get a job and work or live on the streets. Happy, Mr. McGregor? There is your story about the town’s shamed dropout.” I rose from my seat, snatched my work keys from my desk, and headed for the door. “I’ll be back in ten minutes. Do me the favor of returning to your coffin so I can get this place cleaned up before your family arrives.”
“No, Anwen. That story didn’t make me happy at all,” the corpse whispered.