Title: Deep in the Count
Author: Madison Parker
Publisher: M/M Goodreads Group
Length: 16k words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: 2013 Love Has No Boundaries event, Free Reads, Short Story, Baseball, Sports, Nerds/Geeks, Nerds/Jocks trope, College, Tutor, Strip Studying!, Cryptology
Rating: Really Liked It!
**Note: This story is not yet available in the 2013 Love Has No Boundaries even by the M/M Romance Goodreads Group. No specific date yet, but will be available sometime in the next 2 months.
Brandon plays baseball for Virginia Tech. Although his coach is confident he has a successful career ahead of him, Brandon’s not so sure. What if he doesn’t make it? What will he have to fall back on? He wishes he were smarter. He looks at his friend’s roommate and thinks he’d give anything for that confidence and those brains. Because brains and confidence? That’s sexy! If only he could get Corey to notice him. He needs to find a way to appeal to Corey’s inner geek.
Corey’s degree program and academic standing are sure to land him a good job in his chosen career field: cryptology. Those popular kids? They think that because he’s a “geek” he’s missing out on life, but they’re wrong. He’s got his eye on the prize and doesn’t need the distractions of a social life. So why is he having such a hard time ignoring his roommate’s flirty friend?
This story was written as a part of the M/M Romance Group’s “Love Has No Boundaries” event. Group members were asked to write a story prompt inspired by a photo of their choice. Authors of the group selected a photo and prompt that spoke to them and wrote a short story.
This story is not yet available, just so you know. But, seeing it already on Goodreads meant that I just couldn’t wait! So, Madison sent me a copy and let me know I could post it whenever I wanted, since we don’t yet know when it will be posted. And this is me really, really, really hoping that it’s posted soon because it’s such a cute, sweet, happy story that I want to share my reading experience with all of you!
This Jock/Nerd college story doesn’t rely on the typical trope. The prompt that started this story specifically asked for a different take on that trope, so what we get in this story is a jock that doesn’t really like his own popularity and a nerd that doesn’t want or need any of his own. Corey relies on his own genius to move him further in life. To him, college isn’t a chance to party, but to make connections and actually learn. He’s a student of mathematics, but really loves cryptology. Brandon is the star pitcher of the college’s baseball team, but has always been uncomfortable of the popularity that and his looks give him. He’s out and no one cares, but getting a date is a different thing altogether. Most people expect him to want to date another gay athlete at the school, someone like him, but Brandon has always been attracted to men smaller and smarter than him.
When Brandon finds out that his best friend’s roommate is gay, he’s curious to know more from his friend. Just seeing Corey’s side of the dorm room gives him some ideas — a worn Rubik’s Cube, posters of Battlestar Galactica, and little armies of figures in their precise places. Corey is obviously a nerd, something that his roommate and Brandon’s friend continues to tell him. So when Brandon finally faces the fact that he’ll fail his statistics class without tutoring, he’s surprised that the cute guy who helps him is Corey. He’s cute, really smart, and just happens to say no to Brandon every time he asks him out.
The continued rebuttals force Brandon to get creative, but at the same time Corey is succumbing to pressure from his best friend to get out of his room, take some time off from his work and flirt with a guy. Brandon just happens to be cute and already interested in him…
Sorry for going on so long there. The prompt for this story is really why the story is so wonderful. That and the fact that Madison Parker is really talented at putting together cute/feel-good stories. But the prompt that wanted, specifically, a story with a Jock/Nerd trope turned on it’s head is what makes this story unique and special. Throughout the story, when we’d normally expect the jock to have all the power while wooing the pants of the nerd (literally), we have Corey holding the reins. Brandon has shown his interest in him countless times and seems like he’ll try to do anything to get Corey to recognize him in a romantic way and to make time for him among his math and cryptology work. But Corey already has firm goals placed in mind and is halfway to completing them. College for him is about forging the path to his future career, and he’s got both feet placed firmly on that path. A romantic distraction is not something that he needs, or wants; there will always be time for a boyfriend later, when he’s more established. So instead of what we expected form this trope, we have a nerd with all the power! Woo!
Madison has a lot of fun with codes and making codes in this story. Not only is it a GREAT way for Brandon to woo Corey, it’s also fun for us because we’re told a lot about different codes and how they’re encrypted. And in the end (this isn’t a spoiler!), the story ends with a code that we’re left to solve ourselves. I had a lot of fun with that. Madison talks all about the story and ciphers on her blog, which you should definitely check out. She even explains a basic keyword shift and gives us a message to decipher.
It’s good practice before reading the story!
Posted by Cole in 16-40k, 5 Really Like It, Authors P-R, Contemporary, Heat 3 - Sexy & Mild, Romance, Sex Freq 2 - Few and Far Between Tags: 2013 Love Has No Boundaries, Baseball, College, Cryptology, Free Reads, Jocks/Nerds, M/M GoodReads Group, Madison Parker, Nerds/Geeks, Short Story, Sports, Strip Studying!, Tutors
Gay/Straight Male Friendships
I haven’t given too much thought to gay/straight male friendships over the years. They seem fairly normal to me. My son has had gay friends since junior high, and he lived with a gay couple for a while once he left the nest. I admit, when my son told me he was moving in with his gay friend, it did raise a few questions in my mind about his orientation, but those thoughts were fleeting, as he insisted (once again, lol) that he was straight and that he and Joe were just friends. It warms my heart to hear tales of straight guys who are accepting of and comfortable with their gay friends.
So it wasn’t much of a leap for me to explore this type of friendship when writing Play Me, I’m Yours. Although the straight guy in question is a secondary character, he was the first one who took shape in my mind and was the catalyst for the story. I had just read several Gay-For-You books and it frustrated me that in every story I read, whenever a straight guy showed affection for a gay guy, it turned out that the “straight” guy was secretly gay. Or bi. I thought, wouldn’t it be great if there was a straight character who was secure enough with his sexuality and compassionate enough that he offered up some affection for an emotionally wounded boy, as one human being to another? And voila, the character was born.
There are straight guys out there who aren’t freaked out by the idea of kissing or showing affection for other men. Actor Darren Criss, for example, when asked if he’d ever kissed a man prior to filming Glee’s “Original Song“, said, “Yeah, but definitely not in a passionate sort of way. […] You know, friends of mine; I’ve had a few gay roommates in the past, so, you know, birthdays, things like that.” No, I can’t crawl inside Darren’s head to find out if he’s secretly gay or bisexual despite the fact that he says he’s straight; I’ll take his word for it.
Is it really so hard to believe that a straight guy would be affectionate with a gay friend? An ocassional hug? Playful text messages? I didn’t think so until two of my beta readers (one male, one female) told me, “A straight guy would never act that way.” To be honest, my first reaction was surprise, and then I felt a bit insulted. I don’t mean to put down my betas in any way; they were just doing their job by telling me their reactions. But I did question their feedback, so I immediately went to my other two betas (both male) to ask their opinions. They both pleaded with me not to change the character. So I didn’t.
But I did stop and wonder about some of the challenges that gay men and straight men face when forging friendships. I’ve read through hundreds of anectdotes and have watched at least a dozen vlogs on the subject, and many similar sentiments reappeared.
“My (straight) friend is afraid I’m going to hit on him.”
“He acts cool when he’s around me, but when he’s with his striaght buddies, he makes fun of me behind my back.”
“Sometimes I feel like the token gay guy, like I’m just there to make him look more open-minded and inclusive.”
“He feels free to tell me all about his sexual conquests with women in detail, but he freaks out if I talk about my attraction to men.”
“He assumes that because I’m gay, I can offer him advice about women and fashion, or that I want to go shopping with him.”
“Everyone always assumes the straight guy must be secretly gay. It’s endlessly annoying and I’ve found myself defending my straight friends’ heterosexuality too often—and usually the person I’m making the defense to is gay. This seems like a sort of perverse reverse homophobia, as if no straight man would ever just want to hang out with a gay guy because he enjoys hanging out with them.”—Japhy Grant
Potential Benefits: (get your mind out of the gutter!)
“I can let down my guard around my (gay) friend. I enjoy being macho from time to time, but being aphysical and unemotional around friends gets tiresome. With him, there’s no social pressure to suppress those things. I don’t have to play into masculine stereotypes the way I do around my straight friends.”
“I can open up to my (gay) friend more easily. We have deeper conversations and can talk about our feelings.”
“He likes that when we hang out, the conversation isn’t centered on gay-related topics. He loves his gay friends, but sometimes he feels like he needs a break from them.”
“There’s no sense of competition between us.”
Many of the articles I read, and the comments that followed, indicated that gay/straight male friendships were really no different than any other friendships. They were based on shared interests and common values, and sexual orientation was a non-issue. Many of the gay/straight male friendships described were formed during college years and have stood the test of time, or began as coworkers and later developed into closer friendships. When it comes right down to it, so long as there are open lines of communication, there’s no reason men should shy away from gay/straight male friendships.
Play Me, I’m Yours by Madison Parker
Published by Harmony Ink Press
Fairy Tate. Twinklefingers. Lucy Liu. Will the taunting ever end? Lucas Tate suffers ridicule because of his appearance and sensitive nature. When he’s not teased, he’s ignored, and he doesn’t know which is worse. His one comfort in life is his music; he feels unloved by everyone. What he wants more than anything is to find a friend.
Much to his dismay, both his mom and a schoolmate are determined to find him a boyfriend, despite the fact Lucas hasn’t come out to them. His mom chooses a football player who redefines the term “heartthrob,” while Trish pushes him toward the only openly gay boy at Providence High. But Lucas is harboring a crush on another boy, one who writes such romantic poetry to his girlfriend that hearing it melts Lucas into a puddle of goo. All three prospects seem so far out of his league. Lucas is sure he doesn’t stand a chance with any of them—until sharing his gift for music brings him the courage to let people into his heart.
Visit Madison Parker’s Website at www.madisonparklove.com for bonus materials including character sketches, piano covers, music videos, and lyrics for songs referenced in the novel.
To celebrate the release of Play Me, I’m Yours, Madison Parker is hosting a giveaway. Enter to win your choice of a free copy of Play Me, I’m Yours or a $10 gift certificate from Rainbow eBooks by leaving a comment below along with your email address. For multiple chances to win, comment at each stop along the tour. Click here for the complete tour schedule. Winners will be chosen randomly on April 23.
Title: Sock it to Me, Santa!
Author: Madison Parker
Publisher: Self Published
Length: 13,300 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Young Adult Romance
Heat: 1 – Sweet/None
Sex Frequency: 1 – None
Keywords/Tags: Short Story, High School, Closeted, Knitting/Crafts, Secret Santa
Rating: Loved It!
Ryan is assigned to Jamie Peterson for his class’s secret gift exchange. If word gets out that he has to make a handcrafted gift for flamboyant and openly gay Jamie, Ryan will be the laughing stock of the school. It’s a good thing no self-respecting boy would be caught dead in a craft store, because otherwise he’d be at risk of being spotted when his mom drags him to her weekly craft workshops. He hopes Jamie will appreciate all the trouble he’s going to for this assignment. Finding the perfect gift is gonna be tricky. Jamie deserves something good, though, after all the crap he has to put up with at school. At least, Ryan tells himself that’s the reason he’s putting so much thought into the gift. It couldn’t be that he has feelings for Jamie, could it?
I have to say, this might be the cutest story I’ve read all year!
Ryan is just admitting to himself that he likes guys, but it is difficult and scary keeping such a secret in high school, especially when his only friend has a lot to say about “fags.” He’s scared to get close, in any way, to Jamie, the queer kid. It is social suicide. When he draws his name for Secret Santa in their study hall, Ryan has to figure out a way to make three gifts for Jamie without them knowing it came from him. The problem, is that now Ryan has started noticing Jamie, he can’t get him out of his head — and he starts to see just how hard a time Jamie has in school. Maybe he can make a few gifts to cheer Jamie up.
Not only is this well written, plotted, paced, and pretty much everything I could think of, this is such a feel good story, a perfect young adult story… it is just completely heartwarming. I knew I wanted to read and review this immediately when Madison contacted me. I mean, knitting…young adult boys… secret santa. It just sounded cute. But then I heard from a friend that they loved this story and I just couldn’t wait to read it — I barely made it through finishing the novel I was reading before jumping in. And it completely lived up to my expectations. Sometimes the best thing about a story is the way it makes you feel, and this will give you the warm fuzzies. You’ll fall in love with Ryan and Jamie — the latter because he needs a good cuddle, and Ryan because he’s so honorable, yet still a confused kid. He’s the kind of guy you want to champion, yet still give him a gentle kick the in ass to get him back on track, simply because Jamie needs a champion of his own. I loved them both.
And it made me want to knit a sock monkey!
So, I definitely recommend this story and I’ll be looking out for this author’s work in the future 🙂 It’s a perfect story for the stressed out holidays! So for those of you eating Turkey today (or tofurkey, or yams and potatoes and stuffing), take this story with you to your family dinner and sneak out when the bickering starts! It will make you feel warm and happy again 🙂