Young Love Is Never Easy, Check Out S.C.Wynne’s Painful Lesson’s (giveaway and special excerpt)

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AboutTheBook

PainfulLessonsFSTITLE: Painful Lessons

AUTHOR: S.C.Wynne

PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press

COVER ARTIST: Anna Sikorska

LENGTH: 200 Pages

RELEASE DATE: January 01, 2016

BLURB: As a freshman both in love and in college, sometimes there are painful lessons to be learned.

Excited to begin his first year of college, Brett Bridgeworth has just one problem: he sucks at math. Luckily there’s the sensual and mysterious math tutor, Jeremy Price, to help him out. It isn’t long before Jeremy is tutoring Brett in more than just pie charts, but it isn’t until they split up that Brett discovers Jeremy’s twisted, obsessive side.

Sam Hawthorne is two years ahead of Brett, and they share a strong mutual attraction. When Brett breaks it off with Jeremy and gets involved with Sam, disturbing things start happening. It soon becomes obvious that Jeremy isn’t willing to let Brett go without a fight.

Excerpt

I definitely don’t want what I’m about to share to look like I’m bragging. But I think it’s important to give a glimpse into my first sexual experiences because it has a lot to do with who I am, or at least who I was, when I went through all of that shit with Jeremy. Looking back, now I can see so clearly that I was like a sail with the line sliced, flapping uselessly in the cool sea breeze. Well, maybe I’m getting ahead of the story a little bit. I tend to do that sometimes.

I’ve always been bad at math. I mean, like, really awful. But I’d managed to get through high school because my teachers liked me. Mr. Winter, my algebra teacher, liked me a whole lot. So much so that, senior year, he made a deal with me; he’d give me an A if I let him suck me off.

Mr. Winter wasn’t one of those hot teachers we students fantasized about. He wore a lot of loud polyester shirts, and he had a pot belly. I went back and forth about his offer, and I did a bit of research on the Internet so I’d know what I was getting into. But ultimately I agreed, because if I failed algebra I’d be held back, and that would be way too embarrassing to me and, more importantly, my dad.

My dad owns Bridgeworth Electronics, and if his kid failed high school he’d probably have a heart attack. So I let Mr. Winter pull the blinds, unzip my jeans, and do his thing. The sight of him on his knees and the glare off his shiny bald head was all very surreal. I remember being super nervous because, while I was eighteen and I knew I liked guys, I’d never been touched by one yet. It was just me and my faithful hand, up until Mr. Winter introduced me to fellatio.

At his first touch I was numb inside and grappling with insecurities. Would I come too soon? Would he be too rough? Or worst of all, was he going to make me suck him off? But the initial warm slide of his mouth chased those fears away. Old dude or not, my eyes rolled back in my head, and I’d thrust into his mouth, oblivious to the world around me. Afterward he’d grinned up at me with a crooked, lecherous smile, as if we were somehow coconspirators.

For my first time, it was a little seedy and humiliating. I’d certainly never pictured my initiation to a BJ happening quite like that. But I had to admit his lips on me still felt great, so I shoved down the feelings of shame and took my A. I never saw Mr. Winter again, and I went on toward college still horrible in math but no longer pure as the driven snow.

I spent my summer waiting for responses from the colleges I’d applied to, and worried someone would find out about me and Mr. Winter’s arrangement. Would they be able to retract my grade if they knew what I’d done to get it? I’ll admit to feeling guilty about the whole arrangement with Mr. Winter, but the thought of failing had been too terrifying. When my acceptance letter arrived from UCLA, I put thoughts of my old math teacher behind me and spent the rest of the break celebrating with my friends.

I will say, after my sexual encounter with Mr. Winter, it was as if my hormones woke up for real. I became a horndog of epic proportions. My dad hired a new pool guy for the summer, and he was the opposite of Mr. Winter. This guy was probably in his thirties and hot. I mean smoking, Zac Efron hot. We exchanged lusty looks for a few weeks before anything actually happened. One day after swimming, I was showering in the small side building near the garden, and Lex walked in on me.

He set his pool skimmer against the wall and pulled his shirt off with one yank. I swallowed the lump forming in my throat and waited for him to make the first move. Soundlessly he dropped his shorts and underwear and walked up to me. I couldn’t believe what was happening, but I was excited to think this gorgeous guy wanted to do things to and with me. I believe I said a breathy, “Hi.”

“How old are you, Brett?” he’d asked, almost as if it was an afterthought.

“Eighteen,” I responded right before he pushed me against the slick white tiles and took my mouth roughly.

He tasted like tobacco and cinnamon, and his hands were rough on my hips. His cock wasn’t as wide as mine, but it was longer and it fit next to mine nicely. When the kiss ended, he began grinding his cock against mine, and the heat that flared in my groin was like an inferno. I grasped his shoulders and held on as lust rumbled through me like a steam engine. It wasn’t romantic by any stretch of the imagination. The ceramic tiles were freezing against my back, and they hurt my shoulder blades, but I didn’t care. I was young and ready to explore what I needed sexually.

I’d had a growth spurt toward the end of high school, and I was slightly taller than Lex. I clutched his damp chestnut curls and panted against the orgasm gathering at the base of my cock. He was louder than me. He groaned a lot and cussed as he threw his head back and flexed his hips like a jackhammer. I liked his noises. They were guttural and dirty, and they made me excited as my need ramped even higher. When we came the warm water washed the evidence down the drain as if it never happened.

I remember he stroked my cheek afterward, as I stared into his golden-flecked brown eyes. “That was nice,” he panted, and then he washed under the water with me, dried off with my towel, and got dressed. Right before he left, he turned and asked me, “Are you a virgin?”

I’m sure my cheeks turned red. They were warm now, thinking about how embarrassed I’d been to answer yes. Not to mention I wasn’t even sure if I was answering correctly. Was I a virgin? Did blow jobs count, or did not having had anal make me a virgin? But Lex had just smiled and quietly closed the door. I wasn’t a “virgin” much longer because a week later, Lex took me in that little shower area. I still remember the smell of the coconut-scented lube and the first burning glide of his cock in my untouched ass.

I learned a lot from Lex. The guy had zero inhibitions. We fucked our way through that hot summer, and when it came time to leave for college, I was thankful I didn’t have to go there not knowing anything about sex. I’d assumed I’d show up at UCLA horrible in math and a virgin, but thanks to Lex, only the “bad at math” part was still true.

My dad didn’t have time to drive with me to my new school. He said something about a crisis in the capacitor industry. I didn’t know what he was talking about, and it didn’t really matter because it wasn’t like it was negotiable or anything. Hey, how about you come to my college, see my room, and pretend you give a shit about me for a day? I’ll bake brownies for you?

Yeah, not gonna happen.

I guess at this point, I should mention the reason it was only me and him was because my mom died when I was ten. She went in for a routine hysterectomy and never came home. I remember coming back from school and finding my aunt Rose sobbing in the kitchen. She’d hugged me and my dad, and stayed for weeks to cook casseroles and keep the house clean. But after that she’d had to go back to her family in New York. Aunt Rose called me and my dad “her boys,” and she phoned to check on us often. But my dad’s never home, and I didn’t want to talk about my mom dying, so the time between calls had become longer and longer.

So back to my college experience. My roommate, Ted, was nothing like me. He was boisterous and loud and straight as a ruler. He was hugely into sports and talked about football nonstop. I, on the other hand, knew little about that subject, preferring reading and sketching to getting dirty and running around a field with a pigskin.

We still found some common ground since we both enjoyed eating. We always went to the cafeteria together for all our meals. Generally his jock friends would descend, and I’d sit mostly in silence, shoveling my cheese macaroni in like a machine. I think having Ted as my roommate protected me from being picked on by his homophobic buddies. They gave me hard looks and didn’t sit too close to me, but nobody ever said a disrespectful word to me.

One of the guys I didn’t mind so much. He had auburn hair and light green eyes, and he always smelled like vanilla. His name was Sam Hawthorne, and he was the only one who would speak to me without looking like he was afraid my gayness would get on him. I didn’t hide that I was gay, but I also didn’t flaunt it. The “gayest” thing I did was wear a small diamond stud in my ear that was one half of a pair of earrings my mom had owned. I didn’t wear the earring to make a statement as much as it made me feel connected to my mom.

I soon learned I liked being away from home. When nobody knew me, I could be different and didn’t have to play the role I’d always felt had been thrust on me: good son. Grieving son. It had been eight years since my mom died, and while I missed her and her quirky sense of humor, I wanted to live a little. These were my college years, and I was expecting to have new and exciting experiences. I wasn’t supposed to sit around trying to remember what my mom looked like, although sometimes the fact that I had trouble recalling her features bugged me a lot and made me feel like a horrible person. So I’d pull out the crinkled picture I kept in my wallet. The photo was of a family vacation at the beach a year before she died. She looked happy, and we were both smiling like idiots. My dad wasn’t in the picture, and I guess I mean that both literally and figuratively.

Excerpt 2

That was the night I met Jeremy. He was barely visible in the dark, leaning against a birch to the side of the path.

“Don’t look so sad, pretty boy. There are plenty of other fish in the sea.”

His voice was sultry, deep, and it startled the hell out of me because I had no idea anyone was there.

I pretended I hadn’t almost peed myself and started to walk away without answering, but his voice stopped me.

“Wait up. Are you Brett?”

He approached now, and I was surprised he knew my name. In the dingy yellow light of the streetlamp, I could see he was slender, with wide shoulders and black hair that brushed his collarbone. He had a sexy, dangerous vibe about him, and I took a step back as he reached me.

“Let me guess. Ted didn’t mention I was coming?”

I squinted at him, mystified by why this beautiful vision thought I should know him. “Ted?” Yeah, remember your roommate, dummy?

He smiled and flashed perfect white teeth. “I’m Jeremy,” he said confidently. “You look exactly how Ted described you.”

I put a hand to my blond hair, wondering what Ted had said about me.

“Ted said you’re looking for a math tutor.” He didn’t seem to mind at all that I was tongue-tied.

I think I’d mentioned once to Ted that I should get a tutor, but I’d never really pursued it. And yet here before me was the most delicious tutor anyone could ask for. My pulse sped up as I took his smooth hand in mine and something came alive inside of me.

“Oh, yeah. I do need help. I’m horrible at math.” He still held my hand, and I had the sensation of energy passing between us. I remember being hugely relieved I didn’t gasp like a little girl at the electric shock.

“But I needed to meet you first.”

Jeremy pulled me closer, and his gaze never left my mouth. I should have known then that he was acting odd for a math tutor, but hindsight is twenty-twenty, and I was blinded by a cloud of youthful lust.

“I don’t take on just anybody. I want you to know that.”

I remember I instantly felt special and impressed he was even considering me. I look back on it now, and it immediately strikes me that most math tutors weren’t in such high demand that they would pick and choose their tutees so stringently. But for whatever reason, I didn’t think twice about how strange he was. I was simply flattered I had been deemed worthy.

Later I was able to see I’d been chosen for reasons that had nothing to do with my being valuable. No, no. Far more attractive to Jeremy was that I reeked of need and a desire to matter to someone. I’m sure that’s why he wanted to meet me first before he agreed to help me. His type can smell self-doubt a mile away. My palpable insecurities were like blood in the water to a great white.

BuyLinks

Dreamspinner Press (ebook)

Dreamspinner Press (Paperback)

Amazon US

Amazon UK

All Romance eBooks

Barnes & Noble

AuthorBio

S.C. Wynne started writing m/m in 2013 and did look back once. She wanted to say that because it seems everyone’s bio says they never looked back and, well S.C. Wynne is all about the joke. She loves writing m/m and her characters are usually a little jaded, funny and ultimately redeemed through love.

S.C loves red wine, margaritas and Seven and Seven’s. Yes, apparently S.C. Wynne is incredibly thirsty. S.C. Wynne loves the rain and should really live in Seattle but instead has landed in sunny, sunny, unbelievably sunny California.

Writing is the best profession she could have chosen because S.C. is a little bit of a control freak. To sit in her pajamas all day and pound the keys of her laptop controlling the every thought and emotion of the characters she invents is a dream come true.

If you’d like to contact S.C. Wynne she is amusing herself on Facebook at all hours of the day or you can contact her at scwynne@dslextreme.com

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TourSchedule

January 4: Man2ManTastic

January 5: The Novel Approach :: Drops of Ink

January 6: Divine Magazine

January 7: Love Bytes Reviews :: Wicked Faeries Tales & Reviews

January 8: Joyfully Jay :: Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words

January 11: BFD Book Blog

January 12: Cathy Writes Romance :: Diverse Reader

January 13: Prism Book Alliance :: The Purple Rose Tea House

January 14: RJ Scott

January 15: Bayou Book Junkie :: Elisa – My reviews and Ramblings

 

 

A MelanieM Review: My Cowboy Promises (The Cowboys #4) by Z.A. Maxfield

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Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

A real man needs a real love…

My Cowboy Promises coverTo become the man he’s meant to be, one cowboy will have to be the man he never wanted anyone to know he was…

Ryder Dent is a true-blue cowboy. A devoted son, husband and father, but one who is living a costly lie. When they were both young, Ryder and his closest female friend Andy thought they’d found the perfect solution to both their problems—she was single and pregnant, and he was secretly gay—so they got married and raised Jonas together.

When Ryder gets hurt at a party, his son’s new pediatrician comes to the rescue. The connection between Ryder and Dr. Declan Winters is sudden, powerful, and undeniable. Ryder loves Andy and the family they’ve created together—but they both need more. Can they pursue their hearts’ desire without destroying the life they’ve built and losing the son they love?

I have come to love Z. A.. Maxfield’s Cowboy series, each story provides such an interesting group of characters and couples all loosely intwined.   And most are having to deal with issues of acceptance…of their themselves, sexuality, and their ability to love.  My Cowboy Promises, the 4th in the Cowboy series,  connection’s to the previous story is that the ranch that Tripp Triplehorn and Lucho Reyes went to work on is owned by a powerful, controlling rancher Sterling Chandler, father to Andrea, wife of Ryder Dent and mother to their son.  But as usual in a ZAM story, what you see on the surface is illusion, the reality and truth lies somewhere underneath for them all.

What an awful, stressful situation the readers get dumped into.  Ryder Dent saw his life’s (and father’s expectations) explode when, as a teenager getting ready to go to college, instead marries his best friend in high school, a girl pregnant with a rodeo star’s baby.  That the rodeo star wants nothing to do with either Andrea or the baby goes without question as she’s underage.  Instead Andrea turns to her best friend to save her and they marry to the dismay/disgust/condemnation of their parents and community. But these kids are hiding an even bigger secret…Ryder is gay and Andrea knew the truth before they got married.

Now its five years later, and while both love Jonas, their son, neither Ryder or Andrea is particularly happy.  Maxfield is able to let us intimately into Ryder and Andrea’s lives, see the stress and exhaustion both young people are going through as well as the continuing condemnation of parents and community they continue to live with.  All that while still trying to lead lives of courage and stability for their growing son.  It’s just feels all so real.  Ryder at 23 is just realizing the extent of his sacrifice. He’s lonely, he’s working at his father’s store shouldering all the responsibilities and duties but none of the recognition and gratitude one would hope for from his disapproving parent.  He shares a bed (platonically) with Andrea in the small house bought for them by her wealthy father who never lets them forget that fact or how much he despises his daughter’s choices.  Andrea too is beginning to hate their lifestyle. She’s always been a bit wild and talented and wants to sing as a career, something her father would never allow.  The only bright spot in their lives?  Jonas a boy everyone loves deeply.  But as Ryder is not his real father, that too becomes an intense source of pain and stress, especially now that the difference in their eye colors is being remarked on in town.

I think reading this story, delving into the lives of Ryder and Andrea, most of us will recognize the gritty authenticity of lives lived with the “quiet desperation” that Z. A. Maxfield presents us with here.  Dead-end jobs, disapproving parents, pressure to conform to small town values and expectations, along with any potential way out of their situation feeling almost impossible.  That theme has been a reliable source for books, songs and movies for ages and it always works because that scenario resonates with those listening, reading or watching it unfold.  And mostly because there is a part of us, all of us, somewhere inside those characters at one point in our lives.   How I understood these people and cared about them from page 1.

The status quo of their lives, already shaky, shatters completely when the town doctor retires and a new GP moves into his practice and house.  That would be Dr. Declan Winters, who has his own demons to exercise and naivete when it comes to small town pressure and disapproval.  Declan was a little more of a stretch for me.  I found it a little unrealistic, at first, that given he had met with the older town doctor, been filled in on the town’s prejudices and still thought the doctor was overstating the situation.  But maybe that’s because I am so familiar with small town life, something that “big city” folk  might find charming on the exterior until reality intrudes.  Perhaps Declan is not such a stretch after all.

Through dialog and scenes Maxfield brings this increasingly rocky situation to life.  We have a gay new doctor in town, one who is quick to recognize the attraction that Ryder feels towards him, an attraction that confounds him when he has to treat Ryder and find out the cause of the wound is an accident by Ryder’s son.  We understand it when he believes Ryder is straight, why not?  Everyone else does.  Then there is poor Ryder,dealing with his “gayness” for real for the first time in his life when he can’t get the good doctor out of his mind or nightly dreams.  It’s a situation where hurt feelings, expectation, and miscommunication abound.  Then throw in an unhappy wife, a son with questions and it gets downright explosive.  What a manner in which to examine your sexuality, come of age and come out as the person you truly are.  That’s the fight in front of Ryder for most of the story.

I think some readers will get a little frustrated with Ryder’s inability to “grow some spine” as his and Andrea’s father exclaim. But remember his age, the time and place of his youth.  He’s respectful and one accustomed to shouldering responsibilities for everything that comes his way. And he’s  young.  I found him to be the most real character here.  I understood him and his background supports beautifully his actions throughout the story.  Great job, ZAM.

There will be places you will need to bring out the tissues and other scemes as hot as the Texas sun.  Did I love this story?  You betcha!  In fact, I love the entire series and highly recommend them all.  But My Cowboy Promises?  This might be my favorite story yet of the series.  Grab it up today and decide for yourself.

Cover art by ?.  I* like the cover, in fact I like all the covers for this series, from the design to the color scheme.

Sales Links:    Penguin Publishing  –  All Romance (ARe)  –  Amazon     Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook
Expected publication: June 16th 2015 by InterMix
ISBN139780698175037
edition languageEnglish
url http://zamaxfield.com/the-cowboys/
seriesThe Cowboys #4

The Cowboy Series Include:

A MelanieM Review: Confetti, Cake & Confessions by K.C. Wells

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Rating: 3.25 stars out of 5

Confetti, Cake and Confessions jpgIt’s been eight years since Tony Porter and Marc Powell moved into the same house and joined their families when their single parents moved in together. When Tony’s mother Marie and Marc’s father Dennis decide to finally get married, it should be a reason to celebrate and make merry.  But there’s an unknown problem.  Tony and his feelings for his step brother Marc.  Tony moved out of the house as soon as he recognized the feelings growing for Marc and now he is facing having to spend 2 weeks at home, in Marc’s constant presence, and he’s not sure how he is going to handle it.

Marc too is coming home from college and he has no idea that Tony has been in love with him since Marc was sixteen.  Their parents are depending upon the boys to make this time a special family celebration, and need them to help make it the best time for all.  But high emotions, secrets, and confusion have a way of coming out and two weeks is just long enough for that to happen.  Weddings are a time for confetti, cake, and, just maybe a few confessions.

The description and cover for K.C. Well’s story Confetti, Cake, & Confessions give the impression this is a frothy, fun story of misunderstandings and romance but I’m not sure that’s the story the readers get.   True, there are plenty of misunderstandings and romance here but the atmosphere is definitely not one of fun or froth!

Did I enjoy it?  Definitely many elements of it.  It’s very well written and the characters and their behavior are so fitting for young men of that age.  I recognized the truth of K.C. Wells’ characters.  The angst and confusion that occurs over some of the drama and “complications” that arise felt so familiar because I have had children just that age. Teens, or those just twenty, when all the emotions and feelings and obstacles loom so large, unmanageable, and  occasionally forbidding.   All that conveys beautifully within the story and yes, it does make Tony and Marc both understandably real and vulnerable.  However, it also felt frustratingly long and overcomplicated.  I know at points I just wanted to poke them and say “communication does wonders”.  That frame of mind does not readily give into the romance that is supposed to be taking place.  Realistic?  Yes.  Romantic?  No.  At least for me.

What did I think was so well done?  The self examination and doubt that comes with the road to acceptance and understanding of a young man’s sexuality. That plays out beautifully here.  At times, painful, confusing, a barrel of mixed up emotions that have to be figured out before any growth or movement can take place within the characters all felt absolutely believable.

There are other aspects of this story that other readers might have issue with.  The first being that Tony and Marc are step brothers.  This is not a case of incest as the young men are not related, not even by marriage until the end.  But those readers who look at the most strict definition of family will be bothered by the close familial ties.  That didn’t bother me.  Marc and Tony had only lived together for eight years, not all of their lives and Marc’s dad is still alive.  What else might  bother some readers?  The age of Marc and Tony.  Again, while not quite Romeo and Juliet’s age, I found this aspect of the plot to be spot on.  Remember when you first started having feelings for someone else?  Fifteen and sixteen isn’t unusual to start thinking about sexuality and who you are attracted to.  K.C. Wells does a wonderful job of treating this element with sensitivity and restraint.

I think it all came down to the ending that felt a little unrealistic for me.  It felt rushed and perhaps too simple for all that went before to have it so easily resolved.  Then again, others may be cheering and thinking that’s the best part of Confetti, Cake & Confessions.  This story can go so many ways with so many different types of readers, depending upon their outlook on family and age, that it is hard to predict where its audience lies.   Some readers will adore this story, others not so much.   To those fans of K.C. Wells, I think you will enjoy this.  For all other readers, think about the story content and decide for yourself.

Cover art by Meredith Russell, whose lovely design and models make you want to reach out and grab up this story.

Sales Links:        All Romance eBooks  (ARe)       amazon   Confetti, Cake & Confessions

 Book Details:

ebook, 180 pages
Published September 29th 2014 by Island Tales press
edition languageEnglish
urlhttps://www.facebook.com/IslandTalesPress

Review: Every Time I Think of You by Jim Provenzano

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

 

“In nature, nothing is perfect and everything is perfect.
Trees can be contorted, bent in weird ways, and they’re still beautiful.”
– Alice Walker

Every Time I Think Of YouIt’s winter, 1978 in the small town of Greensburg,Pennsylvania and for teenager Reid Coniff everything is about to change.  The woods are calling him out into the night and snow.  Not exactly to admire nature, although Reid does that too.  But the thin walls of his house make it almost impossible for a teenage boy to find sexual release and these woods are a perfect place for privacy.  Or so Reid thinks.  Because after a short hike, Reid comes across another boy with the exact same purpose on the mind.

Everett Forrester, scion of the Forrester family who founded their town, has come to the woods around Forrestville, a wealthy community, that separates the rich from the rest of the citizens of Greensburg, to escape his family and have a moment of sexual self pleasure.  With divorced parents, home now consists mostly of a controlling mother, a housekeeper who is more friend and ally than servant, and a beloved sister who lives in Pittsburgh far outside the sphere of his family and their wealth.  Everett is not prepared for the tall, lanky boy that finds him almost naked in the woods, in the middle of masturbing.  But one sloppy wet kiss later, both boys find release and a new destiny together.

What follows that remarkable meeting is a relationship that grows and deepens over time.  It didn’t matter that townie Reid attended the local public high school or that wealthy Everett attended a prestigious prep school just outside Forrestville, the next months found them constantly together.  Trips to visit Everett’s sister Holly is Pittsburgh served as a way to be alone, exploring their newly discovered passion for each other and sex.  They share their hopes, their dreams and their problems and their relationship deepens even as they hid who and what they were to each other.

High school is still such a difficult time made more so by a first love and being in the closet. Everett and Reid have not only to deal with hiding their relationship but the fact that they come from two very different backgrounds and two diverging views of their future. Most couples have only a few obstacles to overcome, but Everett and Reid face the most daunting obstacle of all when an accident on the playing field changes their lives forever.

Every Time I Think of You  by Jim Provenzano is a true revelation. I have read many coming of age stories.  And I have also read just as many coming out stories but none of them have the depth, texture and power of Every Time I Think of You.   Winner of the Lambda Literary Award in 2012, this is storytelling at its most intimate and perceptive.

The journey of Reid and Everett will make you hark back to your own adolescence, it will make you laugh and cringe in acknowledgement of the trials and tribulations of high school and the throes of a first love. This elegant and moving tale will pull forth all feelings possible when we remember what it felt like to be young and in love for the first time. In the telling, the author and his characters ask for our understanding and get it by the descriptions and in the remembrances of being young. For the very bravery of youth itself in its outlook and optimism and the pain that experience and time often inflicts.  Even now I want to reach for that book again and start at page 1 as Reid embarks on his journey once more into the woods where he will meet Everett and his future.

The characters Provenzano created for his story are remarkable for their complexity and authenticity as children of the 70’s. With all the references we would expect from the late 70’s Jim Provenzano frames out his setting and time period and puts the reader into the mind and heart of Reid Coniff, a teenager of the threshold of an explosion of self discovery in 1978.  Our narrator is a product of a loving family in a small town in Pennsylvania. Reid is that extraordinary voice that strikes a recognizable note in all readers. He is introspective with a passion for plants and nature in general.  He knows what he wants to do with his life and has the support he needs from his parents.  But that one night in the forest changes everything for him.  Here is a small excerpt just as Reid ventures into the woods in chapter one:

Entering the edge of the small woods, I felt warmer and secure. I’d rarely encountered other people in that small expanse of trees and its charming creek, which is why I’d long considered it my own private refuge.

A thick blanket of snow lay at my feet, sleeves of it bending the limbs of shrubs. Bluish whites contrasted the dark limbs of the evergreen branches above.

Further in, the snow under the tall evergreens was softer, quieting my footsteps as I encountered something unexpected; a pair of grey sweatpants and a green parka hanging on a tree limb.

Then I saw him.

The following scene beautifully delivers the urgency of youth, and the first fumblings at sex. It’s delivers the realistic joy of the first sexual discovery with another person and the shyness that comes after their first kiss and sexual release.  It’s that moment where Reid thinks for the first time “Where the hell have you been all these years?

And then you remember that these boys are only seventeen with their life spread out before them, and that thought becomes one of wonder but also of the pain because we realize how much of life is still before them.

And you are not even out of the first chapter.

Everett Forrester’s voice feels so true to that age and time period.  It’s full of bravado and charm and yet it hides so much feeling and insecurities that you find yourself falling in love with him as much as Reid.  The combination of these two young men, so full of life and the awkwardness of youth, is both captivating and painful.  We watch them venturing out of their self described roles and into a journey of personal growth, love, and sexual discovery.  A time when all their futures are full of the impossible and where they will always be together.

And from our remembered perspectives, their jubilant bravado and youthful innocence is received with the understanding and compassion of age, letting us relate to and empathize with these young men on their journey together with all its attending highs and lows.

Provenzano doesn’t shy away from the warts and issues of the times and of being a teenager during that era, homophobia included.  Nor does he gloss over the brutal facts of the impact that a debilitating accident has on these boys,their families and their budding romantic relationship. Everett’s accident is one that almost singularly destroys Everett and Reid’s relationship as well as Everett’s dreams for his future.  It is one that can happen on any playing field across America, this time it just happened to Everett.  That doesn’t make it any easier to accept for Everett, Reid or their families.  Or for the reader for that matter.

The story ends in the winter of 1979.  Less than a year has passed but somehow it feels as though I have walked miles and lived years with these boys. This amazing narrative, at times honest, tender, and raw, has left me so well acquainted with their characters, that to see the end actually hurt.  And that’s after 266 pages.  Reid is now at Temple University in Philadelphia.  And Everett? Well, that joy of discovery awaits you within these pages.

And it doesn’t end here.  The sequel, Message of Love, continues Reid and Everett journey into adulthood and their possible future together. But first there is Every Time I Think of You, an evocative and immensely powerful “coming-of-age”  tale so compelling in its truth that you won’t want to put it down.  The strong adolescent voice that is Reid Coniff, wise ,uncertain, tentative and brave.  It is the voice of a 17 year old…so full of everything it means to be 17. It is real, painfully so at times. Reid will entice  you back to his story and that of the young man he loves with all his heart.  And Everett with the burdens and struggles to come will hold fast to your heart, never to let go.

This is one of ScatteredThoughts Best of 2014.  Go, get it now and start your journey along with Reid and Everett into their future.  Trust me, this story is one that will always stay with you, heart deep and full of love.

Cover Art; Getty Images. Used with permission. Cover Design: Kurt Thomas.  Cover is simple and elegant and references a major element in their story.

Every Time I Think of You
Message of Love (sequel)

 Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 266 pages
Published November 26th 2011 by CreateSpace/Myrmidude Press
ASINB006EVNCJK
edition languageEnglish
literary awardsLambda Literary Award 2012

Buy Links: Amazon  also at Barnes & Noble (nook)