To celebrate the upcoming release of Strange Angels, I decided to talk to a couple of characters in the book. Today’s it Bob, bar owner and supposed fallen god, although he is a slippery one.
Andrea: Thanks for talking to me, Bob.
Bob: No problem, mate. Love the sound of my own voice.
Andrea: Now you supposedly own a bar called The Way Station. But I can’t find any proof that it exists.
Bob: It exists, but only for people who need it.
Bob: Can’t explain it.
Andrea: So only people who need your bar can find it? Doesn’t nearly everyone need a bar at one time or another?
Bob: You don’t come to my place for drinks.
Andrea: What do you come for then?
Bob: Ah, but that would be telling.
Andrea: So I will find your bar if I need it, but I can’t know what I’d need it for?
Bob: Now you got it.
Andrea: Rumors have it you’re a fallen god. Which one?
Andrea: What kind of answer is that?
Bob: I’m a fan of the game, mate. If I tell you right out, where’s the fun for me?
Andrea: I didn’t realize conversations were games.
Bob: Sure they are. There’s give and take, right? That’s sort of game. There’s also rules to conversations, and rules to games.
Andrea: What’s the rules of this conversation?
Bob: No idea. I’m making it up as I go along.
Andrea: Fine. Can you tell us anything about the rumor?
Bob: Fallen god’s a funny phrase, isn’t it? It’s like, what, Thor tripped and fell over an ottoman? Seems weird. I mean, he’s Thor. How’s a pratfall gonna hurt him?
Andrea: You’re not Thor, are you?
Bob: (Laughs) Do I look like a big Norseman with daddy issues and a constant case of the frizzies? Nope.
Andrea: The frizzies?
Bob: Yeah. He’s just one big magnet of static electricity. Never shake his hand unless you like getting fifty thousand volts through you. Although it wakes you up a lot faster than coffee.
Andrea: You’re never going to answer a single question seriously, are you?
Bob: Nope. Where’s the fun in that?
So ends the interview with Bob, one of the many weird gods (?) featured in Strange Angels. Good luck on finding his bar, although if you do, good luck on ever getting a straight answer out of him.
Death is the family business, and Brendan Connolly is about to come into his legacy. Nobody warned Bren that Dad was a death god, or that someday he’d inherit his powers. So far, falling in love with the angel sent to protect him has been the only good thing to come out of this whole mess.
Bren’s guardian angel, Lorygdarain, knows the aura of a ticking supernatural time bomb when he sees one. Add to that the angel’s first taste of the human emotion called love, and protecting Bren from the god who killed his father could be Dar’s hardest job in an eon.
Snakes, amnesia, and a mysterious god named Bob might not be much of a rescue plan, but one guardian angel can only do so much. With a veritable pantheon on his heels, and the universe hanging in the balance, Bren must learn to lock and load the most dangerous weapon of all: himself.
Thanks to The Armchair Reader for hosting me today as I finish up my first official Riptide Books tour for Catch A Ghost, which is book 1 in the Hell or High Water series. Today, I wanted to talk a little bit about music and how it affects my writing process, so I answered some questions below.
1. How do you come up with your book titles? A lot of my book titles for my Riptide series come from song titles. The lyrics play a big part in my choice—it’s typically a song I’m using to write to as I write the book. Music’s always ben a huge part of my process. Sometimes, an entire book can be inspired by a single line of lyric. To me, music is like poetry, and it sets a mood that you can’t really explain. If you play me a song I used to listen to in college, I’ll still get that same feeling I had when I was first listening to it—and I can picture where I was when I first heard it. I’ve had that relationship with music forever. I can still remember the first songs I asked my parents to get me—I used to make them play them loud on the radio. Loud.
2. What music do you write best to? It depends on the book, but it’s never classical music. Usually, it’s a mix of some classic rock with rap, disco and those embarrassing songs you refuse to admit you own thrown in. I try to set the playlist so that it will immediately drag me right back into that book and characters, so I don’t waste a moment of precious writing time. Music is so amazingly visceral that way.
3. Doesn’t music distract you?
I’ve heard that some authors can’t listen to music at all, or can’t listen to music with words because it yanks them out of their story. For me, that doesn’t happen. The entire thing—the song, the words and my thoughts kind of blend together. And I get to lose myself. And that’s the key to good writing, letting yourself get lost in that fictional world. If you’re not exhausted at the end of your writing session (albeit, it can be a good tired) somethings’s wrong. You didn’t dig deep enough.
4. Can we see the songs you write to? Sure! If you look at my website, I’ve got a list of songs I wrote Catch A Ghost to (and trust me, it’s a partial list) but I included some of the lyrics that are most important. I think, once you read the book, you can go back to the lyrics and see why I chose that particular song. And sometimes, I’ll play a song over and over during certain key scenes, so much so that I’ll forever associate that song with that moment. Not a bad thing.
I’m having a contest that will run through the end of this blog tour on my website. In order to be eligible, you just need to leave a comment here! Actually, you can comment on my blog and any other blogs along this tour and you’ll be entered separately for a chance to win with each comment.
So just tell me in the comments—what’s your favorite kind of music to listen to. Or your all-time favorite song—or favorite song of the moment. Please share, because I love discovering new music!
About SE Jakes:
SE Jakes writes m/m romance. She believes in happy endings and fighting for what you want in both fiction and real life. She lives in New York with her family and most days, she can be found happily writing (in bed). No really…
You can contact her the following ways:
You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
You can post to her Facebook page: Facebook.com/SEJakes
You can Tweet her: Twitter.com/authorsejakes
You can post on her Goodreads Group: Ask SE Jakes
You can follow her Tumblr page: sejakes.tumblr.com
Truth be told, the best way to contact her is by email or in blog comments. She spends most of her time writing but she loves to hear from readers!
About Catch A Ghost:
Everyone knows that Prophet—former Navy SEAL, former CIA spook, full-time pain in the ass—works alone and thinks only about the trouble he can cause. But his boss, Phil Butler of Extreme Escapes, LTD., has just assigned Proph not only a new partner but also a case haunted by ghosts from Proph’s past. Suddenly, he’s got to confront them both head on.
Tom Boudreaux—failed FBI agent, failed sheriff, full time believer in bad luck—is wondering why the head of a private contracting firm has hunted him down to offer him a job. Still he’s determined to succeed this time, despite being partnered with Prophet, EE, LTD’s most successful, lethal, and annoying operative, and even though the case is also resurrecting his own painful past.
Together, Prophet and Tom must find a way to take down killers in the dangerous world of underground cage matches, while fighting their own dangerous attraction. And when they find themselves caught in the crossfire, these two loners are forced to trust each other and work together to escape their ghosts . . . or pay the price.
You can read and excerpt and purchase at Riptide books! Book 2 in the series, Long Time Gone, is also up for preorder from Riptide here.
Hello and welcome to everyone who’s reading this, the second stop on the blog tour for The Crimson Outlaw, my historical m/m novella set in Transylvania. If you’re still reading from this point on, thank you for that! And thank you to Cole, my host here on The Armchair Reader. If you’re following the whole tour, quintuple thanks, and you may find it easiest to do so by keeping up with the schedule on this page.
I am on a roll with the interview questions since yesterday, so I thought I’d do a few more today. Here we go:
How long does it take you to write a book?
Well, it very much depends on how long the book is. I write between 2,000 and 3,000 words a day every week day. So I write approximately 10 – 15,000 words a week, with the weekends off. That means that in theory I could write the first draft of a thirty thousand word novella in two weeks, or a sixty thousand word novel in a month. In practice, other things tend to come up. I’ll have to write blog posts, for example 😉 Or I’ll get the edits in for a previous book and have to stop writing my first draft in order to turn those around. Or I’ll have finished the first draft and need to do a couple of my own editing passes to polish it up to a state where it’s good enough to send out to publishers. Or I’ll need to read up intensively on the research. Or someone in the family will be ill, or I’ll be ill, or someone will need to be taken somewhere, or one of my retired family members will want to meet up with me, because working at home = not doing anything they can’t interrupt.
With interruptions, it takes me approximately a month to write a novella from first draft to sending it out, and four to six months for a novel. Part of the reason the novels take so long is that I tend to write very long novels, in the 100 – 150,000 word range. Don’t ask me why! I’m just unable to be succinct.
How do you get past writer’s block?
On the one hand, I’m not sure I believe in writer’s block. At least not now that I outline my stories before I start writing them. Now that I start out with a plot plan, I never have a day where I sit there in front of the computer simply not knowing what to write. I have plenty of days when I sit there thinking ‘I don’t want to write this! I want to clean the toilet instead. Surely there’s some washing up that needs to be done?’ which may be one element of writer’s block, but because I know what I’m supposed to be writing I can always sit down and do it, even if I don’t enjoy it.
On the other hand, I do have periods between stories, when I’ve finished one book and really can’t think of anything to write next. For those periods I recommend watching lots of TV and movies. For my part, at least, I never get inspired by the written word but I often get inspired by visual things. So for me, if I can’t think of anything to write, it’s time for a blitz of watching the media and looking at cool pictures.
What is your favorite book from childhood?
It’s hard to choose, but I think it must be The Lord of the Rings. Though A Wizard of Earthsea comes close. With A Wizard of Earthsea, I loved the magical school on Roke, the clarity and beauty of her language, and the amazing perceptual shift when the Master Patterner turns up as a savage in feathers and paint and you remember that everyone in the civilized world is black or brown – for once the white guy is the outsider and you didn’t even notice it happening. But there’s something about the Taoism of it, in its underlying assumptions that didn’t really appeal to me.
The Lord of the Rings, on the other hand shaped the way that I thought and wrote in a way that’s still directly connected to my life now. I wanted to be an elf, but since that wasn’t possible I settled for wanting to know all about the Anglo-Saxons who were the real-life models for the Rohirrim. It’s probably down to Tolkien’s influence that I am a Christian, that my books are full of scenery, that my latest novel (The Reluctant Berserker – look for that in 2014) is about a Saxon bard, and that I recently took up folk dancing. Books are dangerous things, they may end up shaping your entire life!
Which of your books was the hardest or easiest to write?
The hardest were probably the contemporaries. Shining in the Sun and the novella I’m working on at the moment, Blue Eyed Stranger. There’s just something about contemporaries that inhibits my imagination. I think I need to be writing what I don’t know, because if I write what I know I get bogged down in the minutiae.
The Crimson Outlaw was the easiest thing to write since The Wages of Sin. They were both wonderful to write – I was simply carried away by them. They were nice places to be, exciting and exotic, and every paragraph was a new discovery. I wish all my writing came so easily!
Which one of your characters would you date?
Well, I wouldn’t. I mean, all my lead guys are gay, so that would be a disaster. Peter Kenyon from Captain’s Surrender is bisexual, but he’s also frankly a bit self-obsessed for my tastes, and he’s better off with Josh who’s willing to agree with him about how wonderful he is. Besides, I’m a happily married woman. I don’t create them for me, I create them for each other 🙂
I ran something very complicated with my last tour. This time I think I’ll keep it simple. If you would like to win your choice out of my backlist titles (any one novel, or two novellas) comment to be put into the hat. At the end of the tour I’ll draw a name from all those who have commented during the week and post an announcement of the winner on my blog, Facebook and twitter so that you can contact me with your choice and your email address, and I can get your prize to you.
Alex Beecroft is an English author best known for historical fiction, notably Age of Sail, featuring gay characters and romantic storylines. Her novels and shorter works include paranormal, fantasy, and contemporary fiction.
Beecroft won Linden Bay Romance’s (now Samhain Publishing) Starlight Writing Competition in 2007 with her first novel, Captain’s Surrender, making it her first published book. On the subject of writing gay romance, Beecroft has appeared in the Charleston City Paper, LA Weekly, the New Haven Advocate, the Baltimore City Paper, and The Other Paper. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association of the UK and an occasional reviewer for the blog Speak Its Name, which highlights historical gay fiction.
Alex was born in Northern Ireland during the Troubles and grew up in the wild countryside of the English Peak District. She lives with her husband and two children in a little village near Cambridge and tries to avoid being mistaken for a tourist.
Alex is only intermittently present in the real world. She has led a Saxon shield wall into battle, toiled as a Georgian kitchen maid, and recently taken up an 800-year-old form of English folk dance, but she still hasn’t learned to operate a mobile phone.
She is represented by Louise Fury of the L. Perkins Literary Agency.
Connect with Alex:
Vali Florescu, heir to a powerful local boyar, flees his father’s cruelty to seek his fortune in the untamed Carpathian forests. There he expects to fight ferocious bandits and woo fair maidens to prove himself worthy of returning to depose his tyrannical father. But when he is ambushed by Mihai Roscat, the fearsome Crimson Outlaw, he discovers that he’s surprisingly happy to be captured and debauched instead.
Mihai, once an honoured knight, has long sought revenge against Vali’s father, Wadim, who killed his lord and forced him into a life of banditry. Expecting his hostage to be a resentful, spoiled brat, Mihai is unprepared for the boy to switch loyalties, saving the lives of villagers and of Mihai himself during one of Wadim’s raids. Mihai is equally unprepared for the attraction between them to deepen into love.
Vali soon learns that life outside the castle is not the fairy tale he thought, and happy endings must be earned. To free themselves and their people from Wadim’s oppression, Vali and Mihai must forge their love into the spear-point of a revolution and fight for a better world for all.
You can read an excerpt and purchase The Crimson Outlaw here.
Title: Sweet Young Thang (Theta Alpha Gamma #3)
Author: Anne Tenino
Length: 108,400 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Romance
Heat: 5 – Off the Charts!
Sex Frequency: 4 – Very Often
Keywords/Tags: Series, College, Fraternities/Frat Boys, May/December, Firefighter Paramedic, Family Issues, Closeted, Coming Out, Sexy to the 9999999s!, Past Couples’ Cameo, Mystery, Homophobia
Rating: LOVED It!
When Plan A fails, turn to Man A.
Thanks to Collin Montes, Theta Alpha Gamma now welcomes gay and bisexual students. Persuading his Uncle Monty, president of the TAG Alumni Association, that the open approach won’t adversely affect TAG’s reputation is Collin’s own first step toward coming out. As long as there are no repercussions, he’ll escape the closet by graduation.
Enter repercussions, stage left: someone rigs the TAG House water heater to launch through the ceiling, then plants a bomb—thankfully unsuccessful—in the fraternity’s basement. Now Collin has his hands full not only trying to convince his uncle that this might not be the work of homophobes, but also dealing with a fratful of brothers worried about their kegger fridge.
Paramedic Eric Dixon can’t stop thinking about the kid he met during a call at his former college fraternity house. The age gap between them is trumped by sexy eyes, so when Eric sees Collin again at the bomb scene, he pursues him. Soon, Eric is dreaming of being a househusband, fighting to keep Collin safe from whoever’s trying to destroy the fraternity, and helping his sweet young thang realize that repercussions sometimes have silver linings.
Well, Anne, you’ve made me do it again. Every time I pick up one of your (long-awaited) books I find myself even more in love than before. I think this time around I really fell in love with this book, simply because it had so many different qualities to love and pinged on so many different emotions from so many different characters. And, it was touching. Anne takes us satisfactorily deep into Collin and then allows us to experience the moments of clarity and insight as he feels them and deals with them.
In this third installment of the Theta Alpha Gamma series, we head back once again to the fraternity that first saw an open gay student with Brad in Frat Boy and Toppy. We meet Collin briefly (if I can remember correctly) as Brad’s friend who gives him a pretty big failure of a blowjob, one that acts as somewhat of a catalyst in Brad and Sebastian’s relationship.
In Sweet Young Thang we see that experience from Collin’s perspective. He is…/was? Brad’s best friend but not out himself. He did a pretty good job of pretending to be straight before that, but now he has a good circle of friends at the college that are all gay men. He’s the Alumni Liaison for TAG, a position secured for him by his Uncle Monty, the President of the Alumni Association with a heavy hand in current TAG politics — the biggest of which is the recent change in policy that says that Theta Alpha Gamma now accepts gay students. Of course, it always did, but it was more of a Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell kind of situation. Brad changed all that. Collin convinced his Uncle Monty to support him in his lobbying to change the policy and in return promises him that there will be no repercussions from those who might be unhappy about the change.
All of that is blown out of the water when someone plants a bomb and sets the TAG house on fire. A frat brother is injured and the house is totally a lost cause. And Uncle Monty starts putting on the pressure to change the policy back. But part of Collin’s reasons for lobbying the change so hard were to see his Uncle’s reactions in the first place. His whole life has been planned out by his uncle, his prep school, college, classes and degree, including his position in the family olive oil import business after graduation. It isn’t until he meets sexy paramedic Eric (who has his own secret history with Uncle Monty), an alum of TAG himself in the bomb fiasco that Collin starts to feel like he finally has someone in his corner. But their relationship is picking up quick and heavy and the pressure from all directions in his life is starting to get to Collin.
This is quite a long novel, but it really doesn’t seem like it because it’s really jam packed with action and a super quick pace. The only real downtime in the story are the times alone with Collin and Eric, which thankfully are a fair few. Normally, I would probably prefer the story to be less sex heavy and more plot-centric, but Anne Tenino knows how to write sex and intimacy together, while keeping the relationship moving forward and the sex important to plot. And that’s all while making it some of the hottest sex I’ve read this year! Whew, Eric and Collin have a serious connection from the moment they meet and it really shows throughout the book, slowly translating from lust into something real. Even though it’s made known several times throughout the book how fast their relationship is moving (a week total over the whole book) this NEVER felt like insta-love. It isn’t about the overall time that the couple has in getting to know one another, but about how they spend that time. Eric and Collin go through a lot together and each step along the way they communicate those changes between them, so that you can see them growing together.
All i can really do is urge you to read this book yourself. I know that this book will have a fair few amount of fans excited to read it already, because of the popularity of the series previously. But all I can really say is that I feel like this series gets better and better with each book, and while your preferences for the plot of each will change how you feel about each book (they’re all fairly different), I think that Anne’s writing has grown in leaps and bounds since Frat Boy…. There are so many great things about this book, a kick ass opening chapter which really introduces us to Eric well and some absolutely pure hilarity from the frat boys:
This moment between Collin and Eric pulled it all together for me:
Collin felt as if Eric had just dropped his full weight on his chest, denting in his ribcage and making it harder for his lungs to expand.
Eric kissed his other palm.
“Shit. Maybe. Why would I feel ashamed?”
“I don’t know. For not being what your — what people wanted you to be.”
Oh God, now he felt nauseous. “That’s so unfair.”
Eric smiled sadly. “It’s unfair that you felt that way?”
Collin swallowed, nodding…
I admit I did wonder a few times if Collin ever went to class! Of course, that doesn’t matter, but it does illustrate the enormous pressure I felt for him. Collin has everything bombarding him at once with enormous pressure on him to hold the weight, to deal with it, to figure it out for everyone else. I really felt for him. And it made his time with Eric and their marathon sex chapters not just an expected byproduct of a romance novel, but needed as de-stressing time for him.
So, yes, I definitely recommend this one. I know a lot of you will be reading it anyway, so I’d love to know what you think. Please leave me comments!
Posted by Cole in 101-125k, 6 LOVE IT!, Authors S-U, Contemporary, Heat 5 - Off the Charts!, Romance, Sex Freq 4 - Very Often Tags: Anne Tenino, Closeted, College, Coming Out, Family Issues, Frat Boys, Homophobia, May/December, Mystery, Paramedics, Past Couples' Cameo, Riptide Publishing, Series, Sexy to the 999's, Theta Alpha Gamma
Title: Finding Master Right
Author: LA Witt
Length: 45,700 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary BDSM Romance
Heat: 4 – Spicy & Smutty
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Story to Sex
Keywords/Tags: Friends to Lovers, Nasty Exes, On Vacation, Conventions, Leather, Toys, Multiple Partners, Kink, Just Talk to Each Other Already!
Rating: Pretty Good
It’s all fun and games until somebody falls in love.
Chase has just arrived at a much anticipated leather convention, and he’s about to lose his mind. Not only is his ex attending, but Chase is also rooming with Derek, a submissive he’s been dying to top. Although Derek is in search of a Dom, he made it painfully clear when the two of them hooked up for a very hot—but very vanilla—night just before the convention that he wasn’t interested in submitting to Chase.
Derek isn’t stupid. No matter how desperate he is to submit to Chase, he wants no part of a rebound relationship. As long as Chase is still pining after the sub who broke his heart a few months ago, Derek’s keeping him at arm’s length. Besides, there’s another Dom at this convention, the gorgeous Master Raul, who Derek is determined to attract.
But when Chase and Derek are confronted with all their kinks, from ropes to leather, bondage to flogging—not to mention each other—they can only ignore their mutual attraction for so long.
I decided to pick this up to read and review on a whim. It’s actually been quite a while since I’ve read any BDSM, I just haven’t been in the mood a much this year. And it’s been a while since I’ve read a standalone LA Witt book, so I was excited to dig in and see what I thought of it. I really like the BDSM stories that are set at Leather conventions. I think it all comes down to my curiosity as to what going to one would really be like. Plus, now that I’ve been to a convention I sortof get the atmosphere there, and though it fluctuates wildly from one event to another, there is an excitement inherent in coming together with other people who share a common interest. Because of that, it means that a character can be whoever they want to be during their vacation, especially at a place where role-play and scene play offer a possible diversion from one’s typical personality.
Chase and Derek have been friends for a long time. They’re traveling to the convention together and sharing a room, and their unspoken attraction to one another has gone… well, unspoken up to this point. That is, until they sleep together their first night. But right when the clothes start flying and Chase is gearing up to put on his Dom voice, Derek asks if they just play vanilla. It’s a good idea (most likely) and a slap in the face at the same time to Chase, who has always admired Derek and his mind-blowing ability to sub so beautifully for different Doms. Why won’t he sub for Chase? And does it have anything to do with the fact that Derek is set to meet his longtime crush and internet friend, the popular Master Raul?
Meanwhile, Chase is going through his own problems. His three year relationship with Ian recently bit the dust. And even though their last year together was terrible, complete with Ian cheating and lying and finally walking out on him, facing the end of what was originally a perfect relationship and Dom/sub connection and trying to move on are much harder in practice. The problem is compounded by the fact that Ian is at the convention and seems to be eager to speak to Chase and sort things through.
Neither of them expected how difficult it would be to deal with their crush and admiration of the other while having to spend so much time together in close quarters. And it isn’t just their room situation. Watching the other participate in scenes with other Doms and subs leads them both to the conclusion that the one they really want is right next to them, and that they’ve already decided to put their valued friendship above all else.
One thing that I know about LA Witt is that as far as the Spectrum of Angst goes, any one of her books could be anywhere. She’s good at writing really angsty books and sometimes she writes books where the level of angst could be through the roof but because of the characters, who don’t wallow or have a lot of internal dialogue, there isn’t anyway. This fell somewhere in the middle for me, and it was a bit frustrating. No matter how much I liked the setup and most of the characters, a lot of that internal waffling back and forth was just a little much for me. It’s one of those books where you just want to lock the characters in a room together, slowly filling with… water, or a biological agent, or something to get them to freaking talk to each other! It isn’t as if I misunderstood or judged the characters. It’s hard to think about having feelings for a friend, I’ve been there. But, I also have a hard time dealing with that in the fiction I read. It’s personal taste. And that is my main disclaimer about this book. I think LA Witt is a good enough writer to draw the connections needed to help the reader understand why the characters make the decisions they make. That doesn’t mean, however, that readers will be all that pleased with it. It is just my opinion and my own understanding of fellow readers, but I think that there will be some readers who find the back and forth annoying. And they’ll probably be a lot less nice about it than me, lol. At least, that’s how it usual goes.
On the other hand, I enjoyed reading the story. Including my feelings about the characters’ lack of communication, I still liked this book even though I had one other problem with it. I liked both Chase and Derek for the most part through the whole books, but I did find Derek to be somewhat hypocritical at times, which bothered me. Plusses to the author for including scenes with other men. Even though it causes a fair amount of angst and Derek and Chase aren’t technically together (like how you usually get in those situations, with an open and healthy relationship), I still enjoyed those parts of the book. I would have looked forward to them anyway, because it’s something that I like in my m/m romance (where it fits), but I actually enjoyed those scenes for themselves as well. They all included secondary characters I really liked, especially the two bears and even Master Raul, who I was unsure of at first and firmly expecting to hate purely for Chase’s sake 😉
This is a solid offering from LA Witt, but still has many elements that I think will turn off some readers. Perhaps, though, we’ll see that the parameters for m/m BDSM readers are a little more open…
Posted by Cole in 4 Pretty Good, 41-75k, Authors V-Z, BDSM / Kink, Contemporary, Heat 4 - Spicy & Smutty, Romance, Sex Freq 3 - Average Story to Sex Tags: Conventions, Friends to Lovers, Just Talk to Each Other Already!, Kink, LA Witt, Leather, Multiple/Other Partners, Nasty Exes, Netgalley, On Vacation, Riptide Publishing, Toys
Title: Never a Hero (Tucker Springs #5)
Author: Marie Sexton
Length: 45k words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Series, Tucker Springs series, Neighbors, First Times, Veterinarians, Animals, Physical Injuries/Disabilities, Music (Piano), Behavioral Disorders (Social Anxiety), Horrendous Mothers!, Stutters, Awesome Female Characters!, Halloween
Rating: Really Liked It
Everyone deserves a hero.
Owen Meade is desperately in need of a hero. Raised by a mother who made him ashamed of his stutter, his sexual orientation, and his congenitally amputated arm, Owen lives like a hermit in his Tucker Springs apartment. But then hunky veterinarian Nick Reynolds moves in downstairs.
Nick is sexy and confident, and makes Owen comfortable with himself in a way nobody ever has. He also introduces Owen to his firecracker of a little sister, who was born with a similar congenital amputation but never let it stand in her way. When she signs the two of them up for piano lessons—and insists that they play together in a recital—Owen can’t find a way to say no. Especially since it gives him a good excuse to spend more time with Nick.
Owen knows he’s falling hard for his neighbor, but every time he gets close, Nick inexplicably pulls away. Battling his mother’s scorn and Nick’s secrets, Owen soon realizes that instead of waiting for a hero, it’s time to be one—for himself and for Nick.
To be honest, I was a bit daunted when I started thinking of writing this review. Not because of the book itself, but because I read this book about two months ago and then didn’t write the review promptly (not a surprise, honestly!). But, in a twist I didn’t expect, but should have, I find that this book comes back to me in detail that books I read two months previously usually never do. And that just shows how much of this book stuck with me. I remember thinking about it for a couple of weeks afterward, and when I consider that I usually hold books that stay with me for a few days in high esteem, then this was a really special read for me. And without doubt, the best book in the Tucker Springs series by far. Admittedly, my feelings about the books in this series so far have been so so; while I liked them all, none of them really stuck with me (a statement I’ve made in past reviews of those books). Enter Never a Hero to make me eat my words…
We first meet Owen sequestered in his dark apartment, the main floor of a split level home in Tucker Springs. He rarely leaves, working at home on his computer and getting his groceries delivered. His life is a pretty depressing one. Raised to be ashamed of his missing arm, the result of a congenital amputation (that’s where the blood supply to a limb is cut off by the amniotic cord in the womb and the fetus is born without a limb or with a partial limb), Owen was further humiliated by his mother’s negativity and verbal abuse as a child to the point where he has extreme social anxiety that goes even beyond his embarrassment over his missing arm and his stutter. Even worse, his mother’s campaign of abuse frequently centered on his obvious homosexuality and her relative displeasure at such a prospect of a gay son. Naturally, as an adult Owen’s life is rather tormented and lonely, and even though his courage stretched far enough to move away from her influence, his mother’s work was done. Owen takes hardly any pleasures in life, and the one he cherishes is soon to end. Owen has fallen in love with his downstair neighbor’s daily piano playing and by proxy, Owen fancies himself in love with the woman himself.
Even worse than the prospect of the absence of his unrequited hetero love, Owen’s new neighbor is a beautiful gay man. Owen could easily resent Nick’s presence — he’s confident, sexy and doesn’t deal with the same sort of social anxieties as Owen (proved by the loads of gay male friends who come to help him move in) — but Nick’s charm and easy going nature seem to deflate Owen’s bubble of derision and longing. As the two get to know each other, Owen starts to find it difficult to pretend that he still wants his old neighbor, the woman, especially when Nick cooks for him (nasty healthy food) and little by little starts to draw Owen out of his shell and out of his apartment. But the best thing about Nick is his reaction to Owen’s missing arm. He doesn’t stare, but he doesn’t ignore it either. He’s comfortable talking about it.
Of course, Nick isn’t perfect. As his self-confidence grows with Nick’s patient encouragement, Owen finds that as much as he needs a hero (and found one), Nick needs one too. He’s full of secrets that he’s extremely persistent to keep and each subsequent intimate step forward in their relationship leads to Nick taking two steps away.
Take one look at the tags for this book, even without knowing what the book is about or having read the blurb, and you’ll be able to tell that the characters in this story deal with a shitload of adversity. It’s enough to pound on the angst button and send me clamoring for the hills! But, once again, Marie Sexton won me over by the charm of her writing. Some writers just have a way of connecting to the reader through their words. Sometimes I like to think of it as if I’m reading the book out loud. Would it sound and feel like I’m telling a story? It doesn’t necessarily require a strong or unique character voice, but the narration immediately takes a spark in you and you’re hooked. I shouldn’t have been surprised… Marie’s words have done this to me before in other books of hers. Nevertheless, I felt as if the charm and honesty in the writing cut through whatever natural angst exists from dealing with characters who have such enormous difficulties.
While the growing relationship between Owen and Nick is central to the story, the real star of the story is Owen and the ongoing catalyst to keep the story moving is really Owen’s personal growth. Like the blurb says, Owen soon realizes that instead of waiting for a hero, it’s time to be one—for himself…. It is important that Owen take the steps to take control of his life himself. I think it’s also important that Owen has a goal other than his own self-worth. I think that having both characters dealing with really heavy issues isn’t only to show that the two much rely on one another in any kind of relationship, but it’s important to motivate Owen, to show that he can help not only himself but Nick as well.
There’s something I found unique to this book in the series that I was really happy to see. You can see in the book that Marie made a decision to incorporate all of the past characters from the books into the story, and not just the ones that are affiliated with her books. I really appreciated this, because the opposite has been true for some of the other books and showing the other characters really helped build a feeling of community in the story. It refreshed all of the connections between the men in a way that wasn’t as apparent before. When I first heard that there was going to be a multi-author series based on interconnected stories set in the same town, I think I got a (perhaps) misconstrued notion of a series that was going to be much more interconnected that it has been thus far, which has been somewhat disappointing to me. This book went quite a way appease that disappointment and I hope that in the future the characters from other books start to pop up here and there, or even better that characters would have a more important part to play in books that aren’t their own. Maybe authors have an unspoken rule not to fuck up other authors pet characters 😉 Maybe not. Maybe this isn’t even in the cards for this series, but I would love to see these authors having a more hands on approach to the other authors’ characters, perhaps even working together to plan character trajectories over each other’s books so that the stories are more integrated. Just my own wish 🙂
The fact that the stories are by and large separate means that though this is a series, you can feel free to enter at any stage and read whichever books take your particular fancy. If that’s the case with you and you haven’t read any of the Tucker Springs books, or even if you’ve read the others, this remains my favorite and as good of a place as any to start reading. You can always go back and read the others if you find yourself interested in the secondary characters in Never a Hero. Definitely Recommended!
Posted by Cole in 41-75k, 5 Really Like It, Authors S-U, Contemporary, Heat 3 - Sexy & Mild, Romance, Sex Freq 2 - Few and Far Between Tags: Animals, Awesome Female Characters, Behavioral Disorders, First Times, Halloween, HIV, Horrendous Mothers!, Marie Sexton, Music, Neighbors, Netgalley, Physical Disabilities/Trauma, Piano, Riptide Publishing, Series, Stutters, Tucker Springs, Veterinarian