COVER REVEAL: Lonely Diner by Dann Hazel (Excerpt)


Book Title: Lonely Diner

Author: Dann Hazel

Publisher: The Original Press

Cover Artist: Josh Fippen; Photograph by Cura Photography

Release Date: December 4, 2023

Genre: Contemporary M/M Romance

Tropes: Military Romance, Coming Out, Overcoming Adversity, Second Chances.

Themes: Dealing with Trauma, Gay in a New City, Forgiveness

Heat Rating:  4 flames   

Length:  109 000 words

It is part of a series, but each novel can be read as a standalone. 

It does not end on a cliffhanger.


Pre-Order Buy Links

Amazon US  |   Amazon UK 

Two conflicted military men. A longing for happiness. One Lonely Diner, where people often search for a recipe for love. (The food is good there, too.)


Two conflicted military men. A longing for happiness. One Lonely Diner, where people often search for a recipe for love. (The food is good there, too.)

One man plays it straight. Another grieves over a lost best friend with benefits.

Everyone thought they were meant for each other. Lance, an Air Force computer engineer, and Ryan, a former submariner in the Navy and now a military college professor, are gay men blinded by the painful wounds of their past decisions. Both men are ready for love. But because of their pasts, they’ve slammed the brakes on their desires.

Now thirty years old, a younger Ryan Ball decides he can be happy only by conforming to social expectations. So what does he do? He decides he must have a wife and kids. Though he acknowledges that he can never be straight, he is convinced that with effort, determination, alcohol and erectile dysfunction meds, he can play the necessary roles.

Vikki, Ryan’s girlfriend in high school and now his wife, begs to differ.

At thirty-one, Lance Dingle falls for his best friend and roommate, Randy, a stunt pilot who agrees to a friends-with-benefits arrangement. From Lance’s perspective, there’s a spark in their arrangement that Randy denies. Then, tragedy strikes. Lance finds himself alone and lonely, living with memories of Randy and an ever-expanding list of “what-might-have-beens.” Finally forcing himself into the dating scene, Lance discovers that Mr. Right is more elusive than he ever imagined.

Then, Callie Yenti, transwoman, drag performer extraordinaire and entrepreneur, enters the picture. She owns the popular Lonely Diner and possesses an uncanny insight into the workings of the heart.

Even the complicated hearts of her two hard-headed friends, Lance and Ryan.

An HEA gay romance.

Trigger Warning: This novel includes scenes from a sexual assault and a PTSD episode.


Soon, the table beside Lance became available. A gorgeous, dark-haired man with biceps on the verge of bursting through his shirt sleeves sat down. Lance noticed that he was drinking Liquid Death, often a signal that a bar patron wished to avoid alcoholic beverages. Lance also noticed that his haircut was similar in style to his own. Lance wondered if the body builder might also be a member of a branch of the military.

Lance’s face turned crimson when the man caught Lance cruising him. Rather than heightening Lance’s embarrassment with silence, the man, who also had a well-conditioned chest and stomach, asked Lance to join him.

Lance noticed the tremor in the man’s voice. 

Ah, he’s an introvert, like me, Lance thought.

Lance cast him a beaming smile. “Why not? No need for the two of us to monopolize a pair of tables when one will do.”

Lance grabbed his ale—his third for the evening—and carried it with him as he sat in the chair next to the man. “My name is Lance Dingle,” he said. He reached across the table for a handshake.

“My pleasure, Lance.” A very brief pause. “Wait! I think you’re the fellow the infamous Callie Yenti has been devoting so much time finding a way to introduce us.”

“Holy shit! Then you must be Ryan Ball. Finally, we meet!”

Ryan laughed. “I guess she’s included us both in her match-making scheme.”

“It’s a talent she’s very proud of,” Lance said. “You’re an English professor at The Citadel, right? And before that, you served in the Navy?”

“Damn! She’s thorough.” Then, Ryan reciprocated with a fact of his own. “And I think I remember her saying that you’re an Air Force man.”

“Yep. That’s me. A computer geek. Not a pilot.”

The men chatted about their backgrounds, their experiences in the military and navigating the tricky terrain of being gay in the service, despite the revocation of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Naturally, there were parts of their biographies they were unwilling to share—like the sexual assault in DC and Lance’s torch-carrying for Randy. Lance unwittingly—and because of the buzz the drinks precipitated—came very close to telling Ryan how many physical similarities he and Randy shared. Fortunately, he caught himself before he provided Ryan a very good excuse to abort their conversation.

Then, Ryan popped the same question that was also on Lance’s mind. “Would you be interested in hanging out sometimes? I mean, it’s fine with me to call it a date. Y’know, to see if Callie still has her magic touch.”

But Lance had no chance to respond.

Because a nervous James Manigault appeared at their table, without his cute young diversion, and kissed Lance squarely on the mouth. Lance could taste the rum he’d drunk and smell the pot he and the young man shared before heading to the club.

Then, Lance caught a glimpse of Ryan’s face.

But a look long enough to see that sexy face fill with disappointment, vulnerability and perhaps even distress.

Abruptly, Ryan rose from his chair. It almost toppled over, but Ryan grabbed it on its way to the floor. “I don’t want to intrude,” he said. “I’ll leave you to it. And Lance? It was nice to meet you.”

Now, it was Lance’s voice that quivered. “Likewise, Ryan.”

They shook hands like two businessmen closing a deal. Ryan quickly pulled his hand away and headed toward the exit.

Lance looked with a mixture of anger and annoyance at James, who was now sitting in Ryan’s chair.

And then, James had the fucking nerve to ask if they were still on for their date the next night.

About the Author

Dann Hazel has been writing both fiction and nonfiction for more than twenty years. 

Besides writing romance, he has taught high school English and journalism, college psychology and human sexuality, directed federal grants and worked as a therapist in a psychiatric hospital. His fiction genre interests include thrillers, horror, literary and gay romance. He has published the Some Like It Haute Gay Romance Series, including Room for DessertMy Own Private Biscuit and Lonely Diner.

Nonfiction works include Witness: Gay and Lesbian Clergy Report from the Front and Moving On: The Gay Man’s Guide for Coping When a Relationship Ends.

Dann’s personal interests include reading and writing, cinema, jogging, Broadway, keeping abreast of current events and travel.

Currently, Dann lives in Central Florida with his husband, Josh, and their American Eskimo canine, Flurry.

Social Media Links

Blog/Website  |  Facebook (Some Like It Haute)  |  Instagram

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