A MelanieM Release Day Review: Knowing Me, Knowing You (Loving You #4) by Renae Kaye

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

Can friends turned occasional lovers move beyond past mistakes and wrong assumptions to build something that can last?

Quiet bookworm Shane has a big secret—one he’s kept for fifteen years. AFL superstar Ambrose Jakoby grew up next door to Shane. They were close friends, and Shane supported Ambrose through school.

One night, everything changed.

Before Ambrose left Perth as a scared eighteen-year-old to head to Melbourne and take up his new footy career, Ambrose and Shane slept together.

For the next nine years, they continued a secret friends-with-benefits situation whenever Ambrose was in town. Shane never knew exactly where he stood or how to define Ambrose’s sexuality—and Ambrose didn’t know either. Then last Christmas, everything changed again, and a disagreement strained their friendship. Shane vowed to get over his unrequited love.

But Ambrose is back, recovering from an injury and hoping to make amends. He claims he’s ready for a real relationship. But Shane has to decide whether Ambrose means it and whether his Hufflepuff soul can take the chance.

Knowing Me, Knowing You  by Renae Kaye is another enjoyable, sweet romance in her Loving You series.  This series, built around a group of friends and couples has had its share of unusual pairings.  For some it’s been in exploration of each man’s sexuality, a finding of their identity, an acceptance and self knowledge before they can acknowledge their love for the man that’s their HEA and full time partner in life.

And that has come with some controversy over labels and descriptions.

Thankfully, we seem to have vanquished the “gay for you” trope, at least from most books I’ve read lately for some realistic and honest look at sexuality.  Kaye does so here with Ambrose and demisexuality. The fact that he just couldn’t understand his own lack of sexual drive in general as a youth or that it was only oriented towards one or a couple of people seems realistic.  There was no one he could speak to, no one to as questions to.  The talks he later had, years later, with Shane felt believable and sort of sad, while being ground in a factual reality.

That Shane didn’t understand more of the LGBTQIA spectrum?  Maybe not so much.  I would have expected more knowledge and understanding from him, less density.  That was my frustration as a reader.  Shane is surrounded by friends who have  gone through a myriad of experiences, he regularly does to Pride Parades.  Isn’t he picking up the literature and education as well?

Of course, all of this is mixed in with years of boyhood friendship, kisses and hookups, then miscommunication or no communication, and just dealing with years apart.  All done through Renae Kaye’s layered well rounded characters going through believable situations in life.  Ambrose is hurt in what might be a career ending injury, and wants to reconnect with Shane.  Shane’s needs to see if he is ready to examine their relationship and his life in general.  It’s all messy, painful, loving, and real.

And yes, maybe it sometimes even needs to come with some labels if that’s  what someone needs. Or doesn’t.  Feeling pressured into sex feels pretty believable and understandable these days no matter the gender.  So I get that element too.  I think most readers will.  That it has taken Ambrose all this time to start to figure out why he feels the way he does is no mystery.  Some people take much longer.  That rings true as well.

I loved bringing the search for Ambrose’s family into this.  Such a heartwarming part of this story.  I just loved that.

Without heading into spoiler territory, I do feel some ambivalence about that ending.  Kaye keeps it real there too.  It’s the only way it can happen without a epilogue years into the future.  I’m hoping that we keep having a peek at this couple into the next stories and updates as to what their current status is.  Maybe even a new story down the line.  That would be wonderful.

Cover Artist: Maria Fannin.  Love that cover. Light hearted, bright and happy.  It draws the reader to it.  Love it.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 255 pages
Expected publication: October 30th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
ASINB07G76PMK5
Edition Language English
Series Loving You 

Loving Jay

Don’t Twunk with My Heart

The Straight Boyfriend

Knowing Me, Knowing You

Renae Kaye on Writing, Characters, Covers, and her new release Knowing Me, Knowing You (Loving You #4) (author guest blog)

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Knowing Me, Knowing You (Loving You #4) by Renae Kaye
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Maria Fanning

Buy Links: Dreamspinner Press |   Amazon US  |  Amazon UK  |   Kobo  |  Barnes and Noble

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Renae Kaye here today on tour with her new Loving You story, Knowing Me, Knowing You.  Welcome, Renae!

Thank you for having me on your blog.  I’m here to excitedly tell everyone about my new book – Knowing Me, Knowing You.  This is the fourth book in the Loving You series, and yes, I want to reassure everyone that Liam and Jay are back along with the rest of the gang.

This book concentrates on the quiet one of the group – Shane.  Shane isn’t really one to shout out his love for people from the top of his lungs.  He’s not into the public declarations and the fireworks.  Shane’s love is deeper and has been there for a long while.  He has tried to ignore it.  He has tried to make it go away.  And when he finally thinks he’s over his obsession with Ambrose Jakoby, the damn man comes back and thrusts himself back into Shane’s life.

You’ve given me a couple of questions to answer about myself, my writing and my new book.  It saves me rattling on and gives me a lot of scope.  So here goes:

How much of yourself goes into a character?

It’s an interesting concept and one that has been studied by people.  There’s a school of thought that the first character you ever wrote is the most like you.  The first character I ever wrote was in a MF-romance, and actually she shared a lot of my life experiences – she has yet to be published yet, but I’m working on it.  She went to the same university as me, worked in the same job, likes the same TV shows and has the same sense of humour, but she’s also very much unlike me too.  She’s a lot stronger.  Maybe, as writers, that’s why we write that first character?  It’s that person we hope to be?

My first two published characters are Jay and Liam from Loving Jay.  There is certainly a lot of my personality in each of them.  I also have been known to suffer from – uh hm – verbal diarrhoea? One of the things I love about Jay is nothing gets him down for long.  That’s also something that comes from me.  Despite trying to be an angsty, edgy author, I end up unrestrainedly perky.

Liam is also like me.  He tried to conform to a family that doesn’t fit him, tries to make everyone happy, and is rather accepting of people who are different to him.  That’s me.  While it took Liam about twenty-odd years to say, “This is me! Accept me or not,” it took me a little longer.  I was thirty-four before I could tell my large extended family that I wasn’t going to fit into that box they had set.

However, Shane and Ambrose are further down the track in my writing career.  They have their own personalities and I’m now comfortable in writing someone unlike me.   Shane is certainly a bookworm like I am, but he’s also an introvert.  He’s happy with who he is.  He’s happy to float along in the supporting role.  Shane’s a great character and I loved writing him, but he really isn’t me.

Do you read romances, as a teenager and as an adult?

Oh yes!

I was about 10 or 11 years old when I discovered “Dolly Fiction” at my local newsagency.  They had a box of cheap books and I bought as many as my pocket money would allow.  For the next couple of years I devoured teenage romance until my older sister loaned me one of her Mills and Boon books.  Then I was set.  I’ve read romances since then.  I’ve gone through phases of liking different genres within the romance set – I’ve done shifters and settlers and pirates and Vikings and Victorian eras and vampires and cowboys and comedies and cyborgs and erotica…  It seems I’ve tried them all.  I tend to binge read on a sub-genre for a while.

I was like that when I started reading M/M.  I binged for a long while before branching out into different sub-genres within the romance umbrella.  Sometimes I attempt to read a non-romance, but I don’t get very far.  They just don’t hold my attention.

Romance all the way.

How do you choose your covers?  (curious on my part)

With great difficulty!

Knowing Me, Knowing You is published through Dreamspinner Press and they have some wonderful cover artists working for them.  The two hardest aspects of the cover for me is finding a theme that represents what is inside the book, and finding models that suit the picture in my head.

The Loving You series is a light-hearted and slightly comedic storytelling.  The covers need to reflect that and I like the use of light colours and smiling models.  The font used in the title is a bit crazy, which also shows the reader it will be light-hearted.  My Safe series is less humorous and has a higher descriptive sex level which is reflected in the use of naked torsos and block lettering.

I have the added complexity of the fact I like to write characters who are not the norm you find in romance novels.  I write flamboyant twinks like Jay, or tubby, short characters like Shawn, or even men with long plaits like Harley. Trying to find models for these are hard.

In Knowing Me, Knowing You I once again wrote characters that are not necessarily easy to find.  Shane describes himself as wallpaper – he blends.  There is nothing about him that makes him stand out.  He’s Mr Average.  This is not the usual type of person photographers prefer.  But then I wrote a character of Ambrose who is part-Aboriginal.  Trying to find an available photograph of an extremely fit man (Ambrose is a top-level sportsman) who is only part-Aboriginal and who is smiling….  Needle in a haystack!

As for the layout of a cover and all the parts that come together, that’s what makes a cover artist an artist.  As an author you just have to trust them.

Have you ever put a story away, thinking it just didn’t work?  Then years/months/whatever later inspiration struck and you loved it?  Is there a title we would recognize if that happened?

Of course.  I started writing Knowing Me, Knowing You over two years ago.  It’s been thrown aside so many times because I didn’t think readers would be interested in the story between a bookworm and a football star.  I also had doubts about the reality of their love – would the readers understand?  Ambrose and Shane have one of those loves that doesn’t need fireworks and public declarations.  Neither of them want that.  It’s a love that has stood the test of time, separation, and hurt.

I’m a chronic WIP (work in progress) starter – I have half-completed stories all over the place.  Two of them belong to The Tav series.  Another belongs to The Shearing Gun. 

With the stories for The Tav, the reason I threw them aside was the community changed.  You can write a story that fits a trope or even a world event, but soon after something sours that theme and I’ve found it too politically incorrect to continue to write a story on a theme where people feel outraged.  The story may reflect real life, but sometimes people don’t want to read about reality, they want the fantasy.

As for The Shearing Gun #2, I want to make sure the character is unique and not just a carbon copy of Hank from the first story.  Sometimes an author needs a little distance for that to happen.  So poor Mickey is still waiting for me to finish his story.

I’m hoping that one day I can pick up their stories again and finish them off.

 

Have you ever had an issue in RL and worked it through by writing it out in a story?  Maybe how you thought you’d feel in a situation?

That’s how the first Loving You book started.  I know someone who is very much like Jay – obviously gay, flamboyant, twinkish, and damn proud of it.  With all the homophobia that is around in RL, I always found it amazing how people flocked to his side – drawn to that person that IS him.

I wondered how a guy who was from a very masculinity-orientated world (like fishing, football, mining, drinking) would react if they were drawn to this person.  It was me exploring that situation that led me to writing Loving Jay.

I’m what they call a “pantser” – I write by the seat of my pants without a plot line or story draft to follow.  All of my work comes from throwing two characters together into a situation and then working through it by writing it out.

 

What’s next for you as a writer?

As a writer I’m always working on the next story.  I’ve just finished writing another novel that is not related to the ones I’ve published, but I’m proud of it and love it to bits.

Publication-wise I have a novella Christmas story coming out in December as a part of the Dreamspinner Advent Calendar (link: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/2018-advent-calendar-daily-delivery-package-warmest-wishes-10067-b).  You will receive my story if you’ve paid for the whole series, or you can buy it separately from December.

In 2019 I will hopefully be releasing a couple of non-gay romance books under another pen name, so that will be a wonderful challenge for me.

 

 

Knowing Me, Knowing You

Loving You #4

By Renae Kaye

Blurb

Can friends turned occasional lovers move beyond past mistakes and wrong assumptions to build something that can last?

Quiet bookworm Shane has a big secret—one he’s kept for fifteen years. AFL superstar Ambrose Jakoby grew up next door to Shane. They were close friends, and Shane supported Ambrose through school.

One night, everything changed.

Before Ambrose left Perth as a scared eighteen-year-old to head to Melbourne and take up his new footy career, Ambrose and Shane slept together.

For the next nine years, they continued a secret friends-with-benefits situation whenever Ambrose was in town. Shane never knew exactly where he stood or how to define Ambrose’s sexuality—and Ambrose didn’t know either. Then last Christmas, everything changed again, and a disagreement strained their friendship. Shane vowed to get over his unrequited love.

But Ambrose is back, recovering from an injury and hoping to make amends. He claims he’s ready for a real relationship. But Shane has to decide whether Ambrose means it and whether his Hufflepuff soul can take the chance.

About the Author

Renae Kaye is a lover and hoarder of books who thinks libraries are devilish places because they make you give the books back.  She consumed her first adult romance book at the tender age of thirteen and hasn’t stopped since.  After years – and thousands of stories! – of not having book characters do what she wants, she decided she would write her own novel and found the characters still didn’t do what she wanted.  It hasn’t stopped her though.  She believes that maybe one day the world will create a perfect couple – and it will be the most boring story ever.  So until then she is stuck with quirky, snarky and imperfect characters who just want their story told.

Renae lives in Perth, Western Australia and writes in five minute snatches between the demands of two kids, a forbearing husband, too many pets, too much housework and her beloved veggie garden.  She is a survivor of being the youngest in a large family and believes that laughter (and a good book) can cure anything.

How to contact Renae:
Email:  renaekaye@iinet.net.au
Website:  www.renaekaye.weebly.com
FB:  www.facebook.com/renae.kaye.9
Twitter:  @renaekkaye
Instagram: @renaekayeauthor