Hi guys! We have Ari McKay stopping by today with their upcoming re-release Letters From Cupid, we have a fantastic guest post from Ari & McKay and we have a great excerpt, so check out the post and enjoy! ❤ ~Pixie~
Letters From Cupid
After breaking up with his partner, English professor Dr. Derek Chandler feels like a failure who will never win at romance. His aloof colleague, Dr. Macon Pinney, disagrees and pens an anonymous note of encouragement to Derek, which he signs “Cupid.” Thus begins an exchange of correspondence, a courtship through words where the two men find out they have a great deal in common. Meanwhile, Derek reaches out to Macon, not knowing Macon is his anonymous pen pal. Derek reveals through his letters that someone close by has piqued his interest. Could he mean Macon—or has Macon missed his opportunity and lost Derek to another man?
Perhaps the time has come for Cupid to put in an appearance, and when better to do so than Valentine’s Day?
First Edition published by Torquere Press, 2015.
Hello, everyone! McKay and I would like to wish you an early Happy Valentine’s Day, and thank Pixie and everyone at MM Good Book Reviews for the opportunity to be here today!
Let’s face it, we’re all in love with love. If we weren’t, we wouldn’t be reading romances, now would we? 😀 And I’ve always felt that the people who read romances are among the best people in the world, because we want everyone to find their soulmate, don’t we? Whether you like sweet romances, ones filled with gritty adventure, or those where the protagonists have to suffer a bit, we’re all about those happy endings.
I’ve personally been in love with romances since I was about twelve and picked up on of my mother’s Harlequin’s. Come on… admit it. How many of you did the same? I remember it was a Betty Neels story called “Esmeralda”. What drew me wasn’t the cartoonish drawing on the cover (anyone remember those?) but that name. Esmeralda… how exotic! I was a voracious reader, and I think even as a preteen I was already a closet romantic. And from the moment I opened that book, I was hooked. Yes! Love! The plain, crippled girl that no one wanted capturing the heart of the handsome Dutch surgeon!
Was it silly? In a way. And yes, it was, in retrospect, almost unbelievably sexist, but that was the Seventies for you. But it was also a bit of magic, too. This wasn’t a princess in a fairy tale, she wasn’t rich or beautiful, but she she got her happy ending! I could relate to that character in ways I couldn’t relate to Sleeping Beauty or Snow White. So I went from wanting to be Nancy Drew to wanting my True Love to find me. Skinny, plain, bespectacled little girl that I was, I, too, could find my happy ending.
Of course as I got older my tastes changed, although those innocent romances remain a guilty pleasure of mine. And I suppose they’re also what drove me to start writing on my own. I’ve never written anything that wasn’t, at its core, a romance. I read an incredibly wide range of things, including military science fiction, mysteries, thrillers, action/adventure — most of which have not a trace of romance in them. But when I write, when I dig deep down to find the voices inside that want to be heard, every one of them wants love. And sometime around 1997 those voices started to include male ones as well as female ones.
That was an interesting transition, and one I didn’t really see coming. As I’m writing this, I’m thinking over what caused the change, and I’m sure it was that it was at that point I started watching anime with my then 13 year old daughter. As I’m sure many of you know, anime doesn’t hold back on the subject of men being in love with other men. It was hardly my first exposure to the idea, because I’d been around Star Trek fandom since I was a teenager myself, and Kirk and Spock were probably hooked up there about ten seconds after the first episode aired. My mother’s brother was gay and had been with his partner for at least ten years at that point (they were in a committed relationship that lasted forty years, until my uncle passed away), so I’d even seen it first hand from the time I was young. But it was seeing the incredible, lyrical beauty of Fushigi Yuugi and Nuriko’s devotion to Hotohori that made me want to *write* that kind of relationship. Love in the face of adversity had long been one of my favorite themes, and who faced more adversity for expressing their love twenty years ago than the LGBT community?
I could probably talk about this all day, and about how around that time two of my friends came out, and I sponsored the area PFLAG chapter. My first M/M romance was Fushigi Yuugi fanfic, and after I wrote it, I was hooked. I still wrote het for a time, but my future direction was set. I’d found what I truly loved to write and twenty years later I still love it. It doesn’t matter if I’m writing action/adventure, fantasy, science fiction, or contemporary, it’s all about those boys in my head and their desire to find their destiny and their soulmate.
And I still love those happy endings.
So, to bring us back to the present day, I’m going to mention the upcoming re-release of our story Letters From Cupid, which has been revised and expanded. The idea for the story was all McKay – she’s the one from the academic background, and the “romance through letters” trope was so much fun to write! Those of you who may have read our millions of words of fanfic will recognize the inspiration behind the story, but for those who haven’t, I’ll admit that McKay and I have a “type” in common. We both adore the intelligent, snarky, brooding, rather misanthropic, sometimes morally ambiguous bad boy. Maybe it’s a callback to Mr. Rochester, but you’ll find that sort of character turning up in a lot of our stories. I won’t say Dr. Macon Pinney in “Cupid” fits the description perfectly, but he’s definitely drawn from that mold. And of course the man he falls for, Dr. Derek Chandler, is outgoing and cheerful and sociable. But the course of true love ne’er runs smoothly, right? If it did, we wouldn’t have a story! But we hope you’ll decide to give our boys a chance to take you along on their journey; all you need is the desire to fall in love with love.
MACON PINNEY didn’t eavesdrop on purpose. His office door was open only because he had office hours, and if he didn’t keep his door open, the chair sent him passive-aggressive e-mails about not “contributing to the welcoming atmosphere of helpfulness” in the department. According to the chair, students were intimidated by closed office doors. Macon didn’t give a rat’s ass whether students were intimidated or not, but he did care about not getting cornered in the faculty lounge and lectured about “developing an attitude of receptiveness” again when he was trying to heat up lunch. So he dutifully kept his door open during his office hours and shut it the rest of the time. Sound carried in the suite of faculty offices, and his colleagues tended to be chatty.
On this particular day, Macon could hear his neighbor on the right deep in conversation with another of their colleagues. Dr. Derek Chandler was the resident Shakespearean scholar, although he occasionally branched out to teach classes on other authors, ranging from the medieval to Tudor eras. Once, Macon had wasted his entire block of office time listening to Derek recite Donne in his deep, soothing voice for a podcast lecture for an online class. Macon knew they were around the same age, but Derek was still boyish-looking despite being at least six feet tall and deliciously broad shouldered. He had sandy brown hair and vividly green eyes that were always alight with good humor.
Not that Macon had noticed. Much. There wasn’t any point in doing more than looking anyway because Derek had a partner, Mark. Only maybe he didn’t anymore, because what Macon could hear made it sound like they’d broken up.
“I managed to snag reservations at Windsor’s,” said Justine Rouse, one of the multiculturalists. “You know how hard that is. We’re making a weekend of it, actually. I’ve got tickets to see the North Carolina Symphony in Raleigh. They’re doing a special holiday concert of all classical love songs. Helen is going to love it.”
“That sounds great. Someone deserves to enjoy Valentine’s Day.” Derek’s voice held an odd flat note that Macon had never heard before. “It’s weird not having to make any plans for once. Last year Mark got called in for an emergency, so we didn’t get to celebrate then either. I won’t have to worry about it anymore.”
Macon sat up straight and listened intently. Normally he didn’t care about the conversations that floated down the hall to him, viewing them as distractions, but this one was different.
“I’m sorry,” Justine said. “You guys were together awhile, weren’t you?”
“Three years,” Derek replied. “We’d only been living together for about a year. I guess I should have known this would happen. I’ve always suspected Mark’s work was more important to him than I was.”
“At least it didn’t get nasty. That always makes it worse.”
“Yeah.” Derek paused, then sighed. “I can’t even put all the blame on him. When he told me he was heading to Brazil to study tropical diseases for a year, my first thought was ‘great, now I can move my desk next to the window so I can look out over the garden while I work.’”
Macon had to repress a snort, not wanting to reveal he was listening.
“Sounds like the fire had pretty much burned out. Maybe that’ll make it easier to move on and find someone else,” Justine said, an optimistic note in her voice.
Derek chuckled. “Spoken like a true romantic. You and Helen are lucky, you know? But it’s not like this is the first time this has happened to me. The sparks always fizzle out before too long. I can’t seem to inspire lasting passion in anyone. Although to be fair, no one’s ever inspired it in me either. I’m a romantic who fails at romance. How pathetic is that?”
Macon frowned, indignant on Derek’s behalf. Anyone who recited Donne and Shakespeare with the depth of emotion Derek did was not lacking in passion. He simply hadn’t found the right person to bring it out in him yet. Macon didn’t delude himself into thinking he was that person. He had a mirror, for one thing. For another, he doubted someone as personable and outgoing as Derek would find a hermit like Macon in any way interesting.
But he didn’t like hearing Derek talk about himself that way, and the more he thought about it, the more he wanted to do something. Unfortunately he couldn’t go over to Derek’s office and announce he thought Derek was being an idiot. They didn’t have that kind of relationship, and Macon wasn’t that kind of person.
“It’s none of my business anyway,” he muttered. Socializing with colleagues at work led to invitations to socialize outside of work, and Macon was the one who spent all of five minutes at the annual department holiday party. He stayed just long enough to drop off a vegetable plate he’d picked up at the grocery store and to make sure the chair saw him before getting the hell out.
But he couldn’t get the conversation out of his mind, even after Justine left and Derek went to teach his next class. Maybe Derek’s situation hit a little close to home. Macon had never inspired passion in anyone either, and he was fine with that. He’d accepted the fact that he was too much of a loner to be lovable, but Derek had no business giving up on a happily ever after.
Which was how he found himself typing up a note from Cupid. It was quite possibly the most ridiculous thing he’d ever done, and when he finished, he almost closed the program without saving the document. He couldn’t possibly give Derek the note, even anonymously. Grown men didn’t write notes from Cupid, even if they were fiction writers. It was foolish and childish, and Derek would probably laugh, but not in a good way. Macon hovered the cursor over the print button, but he couldn’t bring himself to print it out. He didn’t delete it, however. Instead, he saved it in his designated ideas folder in his cloud storage. He hoarded all the creative pieces he wrote, just in case he could use one of them as inspiration for a story one day.
Ari McKay is the professional pseudonym for Arionrhod and McKay, who have been writing together for over a decade. Their collaborations encompass a wide variety of romance genres, including contemporary, fantasy, science fiction, gothic, and action/adventure. Their work includes the Blood Bathory series of paranormal novels, the Herc’s Mercs series, as well as two historical Westerns: Heart of Stone and Finding Forgiveness. When not writing, they can often be found scheming over costume designs or binge watching TV shows together.
Arionrhod is a systems engineer by day who is eagerly looking forward to (hopefully) becoming a full time writer in the not-too-distant future. Now that she is an empty-nester, she has turned her attentions to finding the perfect piece of land to build a fortress in preparation for the zombie apocalypse, and baking (and eating) far too many cakes.
McKay is an English teacher who has been writing for one reason or another most of her life. She also enjoys knitting, reading, cooking, and playing video games. She has been known to knit in public. Given she has the survival skills of a gnat, she’s relying on Arionrhod to help her survive the zombie apocalypse.