A MelanieM Review: The Hate You Drink by NR Walker

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Erik Keston, son of the Keston Real Estate empire, knows what it takes to be successful. Despite his inherent wealth, he holds his own. He works hard, he’s grounded, he’s brilliant. He’s also secretly in love with his best friend.

Monroe Wellman lost his parents three years ago and never grieved, never recovered. Inheriting the family company and wealth means nothing, and his spiral of self-destruction is widespread and spectacular. Dubbed Sydney’s bad boy, he spends more days drunk than sober, and the only person who’s stuck by him through it all is his best mate.

But when Monroe hits rock bottom, Erik gives him an ultimatum, and his entire world comes to a grinding halt. It’s not until the haze lifts that Monroe can truly see what he’s been searching for was never in the bottom of a bottle. It’s been by his side all along.

An 80,000-word friends-to-lovers story about fighting the demons within and trusting in the love that takes its place.

“Because when all you drink is hate, that’s all there is inside you.”

I really wish I could put down two ratings for this story, one for NR Walker’s superb portrait of an addict hitting bottom, and then going through rehabilitation and  reintegration into his relationships.  The other rating?  That would be for the romance.

The Hate You Drink by NR Walker is a tale of two addictions and the love of two men.  Both incredibly wealthy, longtime friends as were their families who live nearby each other. The death of Monroe Wellman’s parents shatters his life and sends him spiraling downward, the vehicle of his destruction alcohol.  Not that he recognizes just out of control  his drinking or his life has gotten.  Why?  Because his best friend is there, rescuing him, enabling him in his actions.  That would be Erik Keston, richer, taller, and hopelessly and secretly in love with Monroe.  His own personal addiction.

NR Walker brings us into the story at the point where Monroe is hitting bottom.  So everything good about his life, Erik, and his previous relationship and past childhood and upbringing is in the past.  All we see is the addiction, the lies and excuses and the effects it’s having on the people around him as well as Monroe.    It’s ugly, gritty, and authentic.  The pain Monroe is inflicting on everyone including Erik as well as himself is deep and widespread, although he blithely ignores it.

As it is with every addict, the story is all about Monroe.  What it will take to shake him up enough to get the help he so desperately requires, the acceptance that he is an addict, an alcoholic, and his long rehabilitation.  That’s most of the story.  That’s really this story.  And it’s a heartrending and disturbing one to read, especially if you know someone who is an alcoholic.  Because this will all strike you again as so very, very sad and true to life. The characters are true to life, layered and believable. This part of the story rates a 5 star rating.

Less successful for me is the romance here.  Erik has always loved Monroe, he is Erik’s personal addiction.  He, in fact, loses himself in taking care of Monroe during the worst of Monroe’s downward spiral.  We are told over and over that Monroe completes Erik, that prior to his parent’s death, Monroe was different.  That he took care of Erik, etc.  But we never get “glimpses” into that past relationship, into what made Erik love “that” Monroe.  The Monroe we see is the addicted, self centered, selfish alcoholic.  Even in rehab, you don’t quite see enough of that other Monroe to get the chemistry that should make this unique and soulmate sort of relationship work. So for me, the romance element is a 3 star or less.

However, the majority of this novel is so well written, so well researched and emotional, that it overpowers the lackluster romance and makes The Hate You Drink by NR Walker an impactful story and one I definitely recommend to readers.

Cover art works so well for the theme of the story and character.

Sales Links: Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 295 pages
Published May 21st 2019
ASIN B07S5BVCWX
Edition Language English

Need a New Contemporary Romance In Your Life? Check Out the Release Blitz for OUT OF THE SHADE by S.A. McAuley (excerpt and giveaway)

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Out of the Shade by S.A. McAuley

Publisher: Self-pub (S.A. McAuley, LLC)

Release Date (Print & Ebook): May 21, 2019

Length (Print & Ebook): 332 pages (print), 103k words

Subgenre: Contemporary

Warnings: alcoholism, mentions of sexual and physical abuse, mentions of drug addiction, mentions of rape, attempted suicide by a minor character, violence, homophobia, closeting

Order now: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07QBNNR5N?ref_=pe_3052080_276849420

 

Book synopsis:

Jesse Solomona has always tried to be the perfect straight guy—a cocky sports fan who drinks more than he did in his fraternity days and an expert at one-night-stands. That he hooks up with just as many men as he does women is a secret Jesse’s been hiding for years, fearful of losing his family and tight group of friends. He’s a Kensington boy—a group of guys that grew up in the same neighborhood and somehow all ended up back in their hometown. They, and his family, are the only things that still matter in his otherwise soul-sucking life.

Chuck Dunn, a tattooed and pierced sports photographer, has refused to step back into the closet since he was disowned by his family, but he keeps choosing men who can’t fully be with him. Finally free from a long-term relationship he should’ve ended years ago, he quits his high-profile gig in favor of getting back to the art of sports photography—documenting a local boxing club that works with at-risk teenagers. He may not have the same swagger anymore, but he’s working to be happy with who he is.

When Chuck joins one of the Kensington boys’ community center sports leagues, Jesse’s self-imposed rules are systematically demolished. But there’s one barrier Jesse can’t find the strength to break through—coming out to the other Kensington boys. Chuck knows hooking up with Jesse is a bad idea. Falling for him even worse. But he can’t stay away.

Chuck is damaged by his past. Jesse is frightened about his future. But, together, they may just be able to come out of the shade.

Excerpt :

All-Stars was a dive. A worn-down shack on the literal wrong side of the tracks on the south side of James Bay. There wasn’t even a bouncer at the front door.

“This is my kind of place,” Jesse said as they walked into the bar. “Feeling those normal guy vibes.”

“Told ya.”

Tayshaun waved to them from a table at the other side of the packed room and Chuck acknowledged him before turning back to Jesse. “I’ll grab us a couple beers. Why don’t you go over and say hi.”

Jesse took a step, then hesitated.

Chuck raised an eyebrow as he surveyed one of the biggest, most physically intimidating men he’d ever met freaked over making conversation. “Just normal guys, Jesse, I promise.”

“The Bay’s quarterback is sitting at the table next to him.”

“Okay, so he’s kind of a dick. But you know all about dealing with those because of the Kensington boys.”

Jesse smirked. “Fuck you. Hurry up.”

Despite Jesse’s urging, Chuck took his time at the bar so Tayshaun and Jesse had a chance to talk. He chatted with a couple other Bay’s players who were seated there and by the time he made his way over to Jesse, Jesse was guffawing over something Tayshaun had said. Chuck slipped Jesse’s glass in front of him and took the seat next to him.

“We making friends here then?” he said.

“Your boy is sick, Chuckie. I like him.”

“No surprise there.” Chuck took a deep swig of his drink, the local craft beer rolling down his throat in a pleasant rush. “Did Jesse tell you he used to play in college?”

“Yeah, we were comparing notes on treatment for janky knees.” Tayshaun sat back and gestured between the two of them. “So how long you been together?”

Chuck froze just as Jesse’s eyebrows shot up and he gripped his glass with white knuckles, stammering, “We’re— Uh— We—”

Tayshaun thumped his beer against the table and winced. “Shit. I’m sorry. I assumed— And I— Shit. I should know damn well better, of all people.”

That brought stony silence to the table, but Chuck held his ground, waiting for Jesse to put the pieces together. While he hadn’t expected the topic to come up quite this way, he’d hoped Tayshaun would feel comfortable enough with Jesse to open up. Because Tayshaun was a regular guy, and….

Jesse leaned forward. “Wait. You’re gay?”

Tayshaun nodded. “My team knows, and so do the coaches. It’s an open secret as they call it. I don’t know if I’m ready to be the first out player in the league. Shitload of pressure.”

Chuck shrugged. “You’re a franchise player. It may be easier for you than others.”

“I ever decide to do it, then you’ll be the first I call. You’ll make my ass look like the masterpiece it is.”

“I’ll grab us another round.” Jesse excused himself and headed for the bar.

Chuck glanced at Jesse over his shoulder. He hadn’t outright denied anything between them, but he hadn’t confirmed it either. And even though he’d left the table, he wasn’t running for the door. How fucked up was it that Chuck considered avoiding a panicked exodus a win?

Chuck sighed.

It was also much too familiar.

“Sorry about that,” Tayshaun said.

All around that could’ve gone better, but he hadn’t been able to figure out how to broach the subject with betraying either Tayshaun’s or Jesse’s trust.

Chuck waved off the apology. He’d find a way to talk to Jesse about it later. “Your season’s going well.”

“Football is my life.”

“Guess that means you’re not seeing Nunez anymore?”

“We burned hot and sputtered the fuck out. Couldn’t find any time once he got traded. How about you?” Tayshaun tipped his head up. “You seeing anyone?”

Chuck downed the rest of his beer. “Yeah. And it’s—”

“Me,” Jesse finished for him, setting the beers down.

Chuck swallowed, the word complicated lodging unsaid in his suddenly dry throat. Had Jesse just…?

Jesse plopped into his chair, his gaze locked to Tayshaun’s. “We just met about six weeks ago, but I can’t seem to shake him. He keeps showing up in my bed.”

A distinct crimson stained Jesse’s cheeks and half of his beer had been drained even though he’d only been gone for minutes. Chuck grounded himself in those details as he stared disbelieving at Jesse.

“Chuckie’s tenacious,” Tayshaun said. “Like a dog with a bone.”

“Tell me about it,” Jesse responded. “Tenacious and loyal—even when I asked him to keep us quiet.”

Chuck’s head spun. With Tayshaun across the table there was little he could say to acknowledge what had just happened, but he couldn’t let the moment pass unrecognized either.

He didn’t have to scramble for the words though, because Tayshaun was already leaning across the table. “Aw hell. You’re not out either, then?”

Jesse shook his head.

“Well”—Tayshaun grinned—“then I guess we have more to talk about than knees.”

“Guess we do.”

Then Jesse set his hand on Chuck’s thigh and squeezed.

Chuck felt the echoes of that touch for the rest of the night. He nursed the beer Jesse had bought for him until the contents were flat and warm, then stuck with water after that—wanting to remember every second of unguarded conversation. Every rumbling laugh Tayshaun elicited from Jesse. Every knowing glance Jesse sent his way.

When the lights flipped on to full power at the end of the night, Chuck embraced Tayshaun and promised to come see him again, and Tayshaun embraced Jesse with just as much warmth, extracting the same promise from him.

Chuck was sober and yet punch drunk.

He started up his truck and stared out the windshield, unsure what to say now that he and Jesse were alone.

But it was Jesse who finally broke the silence. “You and Tayshaun…? He isn’t the pro you were with, right?”

“No. He’s like my little brother,” Chuck said, watching Jesse’s shoulders relax with that answer. “If you really want to talk about exes right now I will, but Jesse— What you did in there…?”

Jesse shrugged. “After how cool Emily was, and spending this weekend with you…. I didn’t want to deny it, and Tayshaun felt safe.”

“He is.”

“All good things start with one step, right?” Jesse smiled shyly. “Or something like that.”

“Yeah, something like that,” Chuck repeated. He set his hand on Jesse’s nape and ran his fingers over the back of Jesse’s head. Jesse arched into the touch, his eyes slipping closed. As emotionally shocking as tonight had been for Chuck, it had to have been taxing for Jesse. “What do you want to do? Grab a hotel or drive?”

“Let’s see how far we can drive,” Jesse mumbled around a yawn. “I really do need to get back to work on Tuesday and I’d rather not be exhausted when I go back.”

“Britney it is, then,” Chuck said, letting go of Jesse and turning on his playlist.

Jesse chuckled lowly and reached for Chuck’s hand as they pulled out of the parking lot. He entwined their fingers and rested his head against the window, snoring softly before they even hit the freeway.

Chuck hummed under his breath. The energy from Britney and the warm, powerful hand in his was enough to keep him going well through the night.

Author S.A. McAuley is a wandering LGBTQ author who sleeps little and reads a lot. Happiest in a foreign country. Twitchy when not mentally in motion. Her name is Sam, not Sammy, definitely not Samantha. She’s a dark/cynical/jaded person, but hides that darkness well behind her obsession(s) with shiny objects.

Connect with her:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AuthorSAMcAuley

Website: https://www.samcauley.com

Tumblr: @authorquestionmark

Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/Ly9Rv

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/authorsamcauley/

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/authorsamcauley

 

 

 

Giveaway: Celebrate the release of OUT OF THE SHADE with author S.A. McAuley by entering this giveaway for a chance to win 1 of 3 $10 Amazon Gift Cards!

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In Our Spotlight Tour: INSIDE DARKNESS by Hudson Lin (giveaway)

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Inside Darkness by Hudson Lin

Riptide Publishing
Cover by: Natasha Snow

Sales Links: Riptide Publishing | Amazon

 

 

Welcome to the blog tour for Inside Darkness! I’m Hudson Lin and I’m here to share some behind the scenes sneak peaks about my debut novel, available June 11th. Leave a comment on the tour posts for a chance to win a $10 gift card from Amazon!

 

About Inside Darkness

 

He’s come in from the field, but the darkness has followed him home.

 

After a decade as an aid worker, Cameron Donnelly returns home jaded, tired, and with more than just a minor case of PTSD. Plagued by recurring nightmares but refusing to admit he has a problem, Cam quickly spirals into an alcohol-infused depression, and everyone around him is at a loss for how to help.

 

Journalist Tyler Ang met Cam on a reporting assignment in Kenya, and their first encounters were rife with hostility and sexual tension. Back in New York, their paths continually cross, and each time, Cam’s brokenness reminds Ty more and more of his own difficult childhood. Letting Cam in goes against Ty’s instinct to live life autonomously, but the damaged aid worker manages to sneak past his guard.

 

Their relationship is all sharp corners and rough edges, and just as they’re figuring out how to fit together, a life-threatening accident puts it all in jeopardy. If they want a future together, both will have to set aside their egos and learn to carry each other’s burdens.

 

 

About Hudson Lin

 

Hudson Lin was raised by conservative immigrant parents and grew up straddling two cultures with often-times conflicting perspectives on life. Instead of conforming to either, she has sought to find a third way that brings together the positive elements of both.

 

Having spent much of her life on the outside looking in, Hudson likes to write about outsiders who fight to carve out their place in society, and overcome everyday challenges to find love and happily ever afters.

 

When not engrossed in a story, Hudson knits, drinks tea, and works the nine-to-five in the beautiful city of Toronto, Canada.

 

Connect with Hudson:

Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Inside Darkness, Hudson is giving away a $10 Amazon gift card! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on June 16, 2018. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following along, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!