Hi peeps, we have Ashavan Doyon visiting today with his upcoming re-release The Rodeo Knight, we have another fantastic guest post from Ashavan and a great excerpt, so check out the post and enjoy! ❤ ~Pixie~
The Rodeo Knight
Struck by amnesia after a car crash, Brian Stouten has been living a life laid out by his family, a heterosexual life that just doesn’t fit. When he learns it was all a lie, he returns to the small college town that’s his only clue to his past. But the town is still unfamiliar, and the man he’d hoped would make all his memories return is on a honeymoon with another man. To add insult to injury, everyone thinks Brian died in the crash. It’s only when an out-of-place cowboy asks to bum a smoke that Brian realizes this trip was meant to be.
Sylvester Thomas has always fought a secret desire, and done it successfully. But when geeky Brian offers him a smoke and a light, a simple brush of hands has Sylvester’s hidden passions burning deep. Did he make a mistake letting Brian walk away?
Release date: 30th November 2016 Pre-order: The Chess Master Chronicles (Dreamspinner) Sam’s Cafe Romances books 1-3, print only: Dreamspinner Press paperback
This is Ashavan Doyon with another guest post here at MM Good Book Reviews. Thanks again to Pixie for having me. Here in the United States where I’m based, today is Thanksgiving, and I’d like to wish all those celebrating a wonderful holiday with their families.
Some of you may have caught my post on Tuesday where I talked about The King’s Mate, which is getting a second edition due out on November 30. Also on that day the third book in the series, The Rodeo Knight, will be released. How cool is that? I know I’m excited.
This book represented a first for me, in that it was the result of a story idea I pitched directly to the editors during the Dreamspinner Press Author Workshop. For me, as a relatively small presence in the genre, the workshop represented a staggering expense. I was determined to make every moment count, from meeting some of the review bloggers we all love to getting tips on promo, to having a cherished, rare opportunity to talk to the editors live and in person. I was going to have five minutes to pitch my idea. I was so thrilled.
Then in the midst of one of the sessions, the editors talked about what never worked in sequels.
Guess where my idea went? That’s right. Tossed.
In a fervor that night, knowing I still had a pitch to make the next day, I wrote a new blurb and adjusted an idea my husband had suggested mostly as a joke. That idea is the story folks will start reading on the 30th. It’s an angsty story to be sure. That’s my strength, and while I love a nice sweet story, I always felt the reward at the end was best when the angst was cranked up high.
Our main character is Brian. I want to give kudos here to Bree [Archer, the cover artist for all three stories], who went back and forth with me a few times on the cover. Not surprisingly a lot of the “geeks” used for covers could be fashion models. That didn’t work for me. I wanted a geek. I wanted suspenders and glasses. I’m so glad we took the extra time to get the cover right, because when I got the final cover back, I saw Brian there looking back at me.
I’ve had Brian in my head for while. First as a nebulous stubborn presence in book 1, the ghost of the lover Russell was having such a struggle to let go. Then again in book 2 as the idealized perfect partner who wasn’t so perfect, Russell’s means of helping bridge a breakdown in his new relationship.
In The Rodeo Knight, Brian is front and center. The twist? This isn’t a look backward at Russ and Brian getting together. Brian has been there all along, kept secretly by his family as he tried, and failed, to recover from full retrograde amnesia. Some of amnesia works exactly the way we think it does. A lot doesn’t. In college I had a friend who had gone through the real deal of full retrograde amnesia, and his stories of his experience shaped a lot of how I portrayed the character.
One of the most poignant things my friend said to me about his experience, something he often relayed when talking about his experiences in general as a gay man, is that he knew being gay was innate. He knew because when he had amnesia, when he didn’t know his name or recognize his parents, he still knew he was gay. He knew because he had this hot nurse, and it was about the first thing he recognized about himself waking up.
That experience is reflected for Brian, reflected in his struggles trying to live the heterosexual life that his family have been telling him is his. And when he finally returns to Sam’s Cafe, his life doesn’t get simpler. Searching for memories, trying to recover something, anything of what he was, Brian discovers that in so many ways, he’s simply too late. While he lived in a cocoon of his parent’s lies, life continued for the rest of the world. And no one was waiting for Brian.
Everyone thought Brian was dead.
Find out what happens in The Rodeo Knight. Also, just a quick plug for lovers of traditional paperbacks: All three Sam’s Cafe Romances are being compiled in a print only anthology titled The Chess Master Chronicles. It’d make a great gift for the holidays!
I know I recced this already for folks who read the installment on Tuesday, but Russell’s history with Brian’s family really gives wonderful (and terrifying!) background for both stories. You can read more of that history in the October 2016 issue of ARDOR, my newsletter. Issues of ARDOR typically contain a free short, many of them related to my published releases. I also send out the newsletter as an email if you want to sign up: http://eepurl.com/bZkUu9
BRIAN STOUTEN flicked the lighter and shielded the resulting flame, drawing it closer as he puffed to get the cigarette started. The familiar burn and taste filled his mouth, and he drew it in, letting the heat settle in his lungs before slowly exhaling in a long continuous plume.
“Started smoking again?”
Brian didn’t turn to look. The deep voice betrayed the speaker’s identity—his younger brother. Like so many things, Brian couldn’t remember it. He just knew it. The difference was a constant source of frustration. “Brandon,” Brian said quietly. He sucked deeply on the cigarette again, then let loose a second stream of smoke.
“It’s good,” Brandon said. How a voice like that could turn quiet, Brian wasn’t sure, but it had. “Makes this feel at least a little like you.”
Brian grunted. “That’s supposed to mean something?”
“Bri, come on. You know me.”
Eyes closed, Brian tapped the ash away and shook his head. “I don’t know anyone here. Least of all you.”
Stillness responded. Silence. Then a soft voice, a fragile one from a giant of a man. “Mom and Dad, they kept it secret. If they’d told us anything, I would have been here.” A hand settled slowly, hesitant, on Brian’s shoulder. “I would have.”
Brian looked up at the stars. It should make him feel something. The hand should make him feel something. But his emotions had been on mute ever since the accident. “I know that,” he said, tapping at his cigarette and then taking another puff. “But I can’t feel it.” He turned and the flash of pain in his brother’s eyes actually made him feel something. Regret, maybe?
Brandon looked away, his gaze fixed on the deck.
“I was a year in recovery,” Brian said. “Where were you?”
“I couldn’t, Bri.” He scratched the back of his neck. “I couldn’t. I had my own secret to protect.”
Had he known that? Brian wasn’t sure. “I’ve spent four years living with strangers, Brandon. Family I’m supposed to know. I don’t remember any of them. But I know they were like strangers. I know that. You weren’t. I know things about you. I don’t feel them. I don’t remember them. But I know them. I know that I trusted you.” Brian wiped away the hint of a tear. Well, I’ll be. There’s something in here after all.
“They didn’t tell me,” Brandon growled, grabbing hold of Brian and turning him so they were looking at each other. “Please, Bri. Talk to me.”
Brian turned away from the intensity of Brandon’s glare. “What for? So you can lie to me?”
“Please! I wasn’t the one lying about everything!”
Brian turned and gripped the rail of the deck, sucking down smoke and then exhaling in a giant cloud. If Brandon would admit they were lying, there was one question Brian really did need the answer to. “Was I that stupid? Did I marry her?”
“If I really trusted you, then you can tell me why.”
“Oh, Bri.” Brandon looked around. “You’re gay, bro.”
A shudder passed through him. Can I really trust him?
“They all know it,” Brandon said, voice hushed but certain. “They’ve known for a long time. We all did.”
“Then why?” His hand trembled. This wasn’t dull. This was anger, not even remotely muted.
Brandon sighed. “They never wanted that for you. They wanted exactly what they gave you. What they tricked you into thinking was your real life. A wife and a home and enough money never to have to worry. It’s not about what you wanted.” Brandon moved next to him and covered his hand, squeezing. “That’s why they didn’t tell me. I would never let them do this to you!”
“But I was married. I know I was!”
Brandon nodded. “You were. To a man.”
An overwhelming sadness rose like bile through Brian’s body, emerging as a strangled sob. Brian felt that. Felt it to his core as tears blossomed in his eyes and streamed down cheeks in stinging rivers. Then he was held. Strong, muscular arms wrapped tightly around him. It should have been comforting. Slowly Brian wriggled away. He gripped the balcony and stared at the stars. The next draw on his cigarette was intense, as though to make his lungs feel the same depth of feeling as his heart was. Then he exhaled it all, slowly in an endless cloud. He crushed the butt of the cigarette into the ashtray.
“Everything was a lie?” It should have been loud. He wanted to scream it. Instead it was quiet, deadly.
Brandon shook his head. “I don’t know everything they told you. But most of it, yeah, probably.”
“I’m not married to her?”
The nod was curt.
Brian looked in the windows. Light and noise, the upper crust socializing. It had felt like a lie, and it was. “I have to get out of here.”
Brandon glanced around and then pulled out his wallet. He slipped a bunch of cards out from the inner pocket and flipped through them, then handed him one. “Elaine,” he said. “She was your therapist.”
Someone inside was laughing, but no one was bothering them, not yet. “She drove… Courtney. She drove,” whispered Brian, his stomach sinking as he remembered the always miserable drive to get here, to his parent’s house.
Brandon pulled out his keys and handed them to Brian, covering Brian’s hand with his own. “It’s a gift. Don’t look back, Bri. You never did before. Don’t you dare. Not now.”
“Big brother,” Brandon said, sadness lacing the words with cracks. “I love you.”
That Brian knew with the same certainty that he knew he didn’t trust his parents, or his other brother, or the woman he’d been told was his wife. He squeezed his hand around the keys and tore down the deck stairs like he was pursued by the hounds of hell. Once away from the deck, it was simple to get to the front unseen. His brother’s truck was easy to spot, towering above the luxury cars. Brian climbed in and started the engine. In the window a sole figure watched, hand palm out against the glass. His mother’s housekeeper would gripe about the marks. Brian nodded to the figure and spurred the truck into motion.
At the end of the long driveway, he dared to take a moment to look at the card. He wasn’t familiar with the town. Then why do you know exactly how to get there?
He pressed hard on the gas pedal. They probably heard the squeal at the house, but he didn’t care. He shifted smoothly—an automatic movement, his foot on the clutch and ready—as the truck accelerated. I drive stick. Who knew? Certainly not me! The woods sped by on either side. He didn’t even notice the tremble until he felt safe enough, far enough away, to adjust the rearview mirror. Brian set his jaw. How could they lie to him about that? How could they not? They lied about everything else.
Ashavan Doyon spends his days working with students as part of the student affairs staff at a liberal arts college. During lunch, evenings, and when he can escape the grasp of his husband on weekends, he writes, pounding out words day after day in hopes that his ancient typewriter-trained fingers won’t break the glass on his tablet computer. Ashavan is an avid science fiction and fantasy fan and prefers to write while listening to music that fits the mood of his current story. He has no children, having opted instead for the companionship of two beautiful and thoroughly spoiled pugs. A Texan by birth, he currently lives in New England, and frequently complains of the weather.
Ashavan went to school at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, getting his degree in Russian and East European Studies, with a focus in language and literature. He has two incomplete manuscripts from college that he goes back compulsively to fiddle with every so often, but is still not happy with either of them. He still loves fantasy and science fiction and reads constantly in the moments between writing stories.
Ashavan loves to hear from readers and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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