The hardest thing about writing is finding the time and the headspace for it. Since Brave for You is my first book and I’m kind of a new no-name author, I still have to work a day job. I’m lucky enough to have my own business that I’m able to do from home, but I also have an almost-two-year-old who makes life tiring and difficult, as much as I love him. It’s tough juggling everything else and making time. I often have to make do with super quick writing sprints throughout the day. While these can be great, drafting so quickly can make it difficult for me during the editing stages.
The hardest thing about writing Brave for You in particularly was finding a way to make all the characters sympathetic. I think it’s easy to make your antagonists clear-cut villains, but I tend not to like doing that. It doesn’t always work in romance anyway. It was difficult to balance the writing so I created adversity for the characters while portraying the antagonists in a way that allowed them to be real people, with motivations that aren’t necessarily evil or bad. It was a challenge, but hopefully the extra fiddling around with my writing paid off.
Less than a year after moving to Hawaii, construction foreman Nate Ellison’s wife leaves him and their infant son for another man. Months into single-fatherhood, Nate meets Andrew “An” Hoang and is slowly drawn into An’s life. Through An’s friendship, he finds himself finally enjoying his new home in paradise.
An Hoang hasn’t had a real relationship in years. With his pediatrics practice and a niece to care for on his days off, he doesn’t have the headspace for more than a simple roll in the sack. But when he meets Nate—who just happens to be the gorgeous construction worker he encountered in the lobby of his apartment building—something about Nate makes it impossible for him not to care. When Nate needs An’s help with his son, An doesn’t refuse.
What happens when Nate’s past and An’s old-fashioned parents interfere just as the two men begin to fall for each other? Will they find the means to be brave and give their love a chance to flourish?
They were on their fifth or sixth round when the subject of Andrew’s love life came up. Nate had finished telling Andrew about how he’d met Olivia his freshman year of college and they’d had a long courtship followed by three or four years of a happy marriage.
“After that it all got a little… stale, I guess? We loved each other, but we didn’t spend as much time together. Then we got pregnant, and things were even crazier. Now she’s gone.
“But let’s not talk about me and my depressing shit, man. Tell me about you. Got anyone in your life? A girlfriend or something?”
The doctor was tapping his fingers against his half-empty beer bottle. He had a glazed-over expression in his eyes, as if he was feeling the alcohol more than Nate was. He smiled, but it was a self-deprecating one. “No, no girlfriend. I’m not really a girlfriend kind of guy.”
“Oh, not into commitment?”
Andrew shook his head. “That’s not quite it. Although most of my relationships have been fleeting. I’d love to be able to commit. With work and my family, it would be difficult, but it would be nice to have the chance. It’s just that I’d have to have that conversation with Dai. Coming out to my parents wasn’t a great experience. I guess I’m afraid of what will happen.” I don’t want to lose her, he didn’t say, but Nate got the idea.
“It must be tough, having parents who care about that kind of thing. My sister came out when she was in middle school and my parents just made her watch a video on safe lesbian sex.”
This startled a laugh out of Andrew. “I would give anything for parents like yours.” He seemed to think more about it, and revised his statement: “No, I guess not anything. Not Dai.” He met Nate’s eyes and smiled. “Thank you for being so kind. Some guys I know would balk at the thought of having drinks with a gay man. And you left your son with me, too.”
“Well, I didn’t know you were gay at the time,” Nate said jokingly, nudging the back of Andrew’s arm with the tip of his beer bottle. He hadn’t known, but Amy suspected, hadn’t she? And he still invited Andrew to stay for dinner, despite all of Amy’s jokes about Andrew’s staring at him. ‘Like he wanted to melt you down and drink you up like a martini.’
“You know now,” Andrew said. “I hope it doesn’t change anything between us.”
“Why would it?” Something about Andrew was so comfortable. Nate didn’t know why, and he didn’t really need to. “It’s not like I’m all that straight, y’know?”
He didn’t realize what he’d disclosed until Andrew stopped tapping on the glass of his beer bottle and instead tilted his head so he could peer right into Nate’s eyes. “Oh?”
“Well, yeah. There’s Amy, for one thing.”
“Ah, I see.” Amusement crinkled the corners of Andrew’s eyes, but he was still looking at Nate in that unnerving way, as if he could see right through to Nate’s core. “You do realize that doesn’t count?”
Nate laughed, to ease the sudden tension tightening his chest. He had told no one other than Amy about this, and since they shared a roof as teenagers and Amy was his bisexual sister it was almost unavoidable. “No, there was a thing, too, with this guy when I was in high school.”
“Oh?” Andrew repeated. Nate thought he would say something else, or maybe even drop the subject now that he’d confirmed he wasn’t the typical homophobic straight-guy. But Andrew looked like he expected Nate to tell him more. And it must have been the alcohol, or just that it was Friday night and he was drinking with someone other than Amy for once, but he continued.
“His name was Colin Ingles, and we were in the hiking club together. There was this big year-end camping trip, and I had a big tent, so Colin asked if we could share. We were pretty good friends, y’know? Real close. Used to talk for hours on the phone and we’d spend all the breaks in-between periods hanging out.
“So of course we shared a tent, and stayed up late talking, and then before we were about to fall asleep he turned over and asked me if I wanted to jack each other off. Well, his words were, I think, something along the lines of, ‘Let’s help each other out, yeah?’”
Andrew’s voice was a little weird, low and thick, when he cut in. “And did you? Help each other out?”
Nate nodded. He remembered the way Colin’s hand had felt, slipping under the elastic of his waistband and closing around his dick. How they’d pressed closer to one another, skin slipping against sweaty skin, and Colin had placed his mouth on Nate’s neck when he came. “It was just the one time. The next day he refused to talk about it, and he gradually stopped hanging out with me. We went off to different colleges and never saw each other again.”
He realized he was flushed, could feel the heat on his face and neck. Shit, what a lightweight he’d become, to let all of this stuff slip after only a few beers. He rubbed at his face for a second, closing his eyes to let himself process all this stuff he’d half-forgotten. It had hurt a little, that abandonment. He’d thought they were friends, and could have been more. But then he’d met Olivia his freshman year, and it’d helped him forget that brief interlude with Colin Ingles.
Well, that sure turned out well.
When Nate looked up, Andrew was still staring at him, his eyes glittering like dark pools of water that had been recently disturbed. “I wish you hadn’t told me that,” Andrew murmured, so soft Nate almost couldn’t make out the words.
“What?” He felt unsettled by Andrew’s gaze, but also oddly entranced. He attempted a smile. “Too pathetic of a story, right?”
“No,” Andrew said, still in that strange, low voice, like he was gritting his teeth. “Not a pathetic story. But it does make me want to touch you, the way this Colin was allowed to. I wonder if you blushed this prettily for him, too.”
“Oh,” it was Nate’s turn to say. And it should have put up red flags in Nate’s mind when Andrew leaned in closer, should have put him on the defensive, but Nate was distracted by the heat of Andrew’s tone, and before he realized it was happening, they were kissing.
July 27 – Au Boudior Ecarlate, Kimmers’ Erotic Book Banter, Valerie Ullmer, Nicole’s Book Musings, July 28 – MM Good Book Reviews, July 30 – Cupcakes & Bookshelves, July 31 – Love Bytes, August 1 – Gay Media Reviews, August 2 – Gay Book Reviews, August 3 – Katie’s Book Corner, Wicked Faerie’s Tales & Reviews, Abbey’s Fully Booked, Jim’s Reading Room, Making It Happen, Wicked Reads, August 4 – My Fiction Nook, August 6 – Drops Of Ink, The Geekery Book Review, August 7 – Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, August 8 – Mirrigold, Engaging Secrets, Reading In Sarah’s Corner, Bonkers About Books, Bayou Book Junkie
Crystal Lacy lives with her loving family in Hawaii, where it is always either drizzling or sunny and never snows—which is a shame, because she prefers being cold to being damp and hot unless it’s for Very Good Reasons. She writes queer romance, mainly M/M, but also some F/F. She has aspirations to one day write a YA novel about cats.
Crystal is a long-time fangirl and writes slash fanfiction for the Harry Potter and NBC Hannibal fandoms. She has a deep love for fandom culture, and can be frequently spotted on Twitter and Tumblr reblogging pretty fan art.
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