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

A MelanieM Release Day Review: The Straight Boyfriend (Loving You #3) by Renae Kaye

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

the-straight-boyfriendAaron Hall has never been able to remain faithful to a single woman, and for most of his life, he’s dated two women at once. Recently his girlfriend tracked him down and knocked on his door—and his live-in girlfriend answered. Now he has no girlfriend and a mortgage he can’t pay by himself.

Vinnie Rosello needs to change his life—get a better job, stop drinking all his money away, find himself a serious boyfriend… and move out of his parents’ house. Aaron needs help with his expenses, so they become housemates.

Even though Aaron harbors some misconceptions about gay men and Vinnie misses his large Italian family, both men find comfort in their friendship. It’s a good arrangement until everything between them changes

Vinnie falls in love with Aaron, and Aaron is shocked to realize he feels the same. There’s only one problem—he’s still straight. He’ll have to overcome his fear of labels in order to love the man who’s captured his heart.

The Straight Boyfriend by Renae Kaye is another fascinating and outside-the-box offering from this wonderful author.  Kaye has looked past most pairings we think of when it comes to LGBTQIA couples and gone for the relationships that are defined more by the heart than by any easy sexuality.  Never has that been more apparent then with this series and this story.

It starts immediately with one character who comes from a polyamorous family.  Kaye gives this unorthodox family arrangement loving understanding and a wonderful treatment here.  We see the hurt and acceptance, inside and out, and the joys and stresses that come from growing up in a family where even a half brother has to be passed off as a “cousin”.  Vinnie Rosello emerges from this wildly unusual Rosello family as a completely believable person as does all his boisterous Italian brothers, sisters, mother, aunt and father.  Kaye has done her job as an author in making us understand them all, most importantly Vinnie, on his own for the first time.  When he  can’t sleep because he’s alone?  Yes, I can really see that.

Aaron Hall is also beautifully set down as a realistically layered man who’s had certain expectations about his life, from his sexuality to the way in which he expects to live his life.  But he is wonderfully elastic about those expectations in that he’s so willing to stretch his boundaries for friends and new people he likes.  Aaron is flexible.  And soon I believe he will find he needs an education in the term pansexual when his feelings grow towards Vinnie.  Its lovely, believable, and understandable.

Others need a definition of pansexual too, those who might think this story and relationship is a rebuke of the term bisexual.  I do not find this a repudiation of the term bisexual in any way.  I firmly believe that  some people can be and are pansexual and that Aaron is one of them.  Who does Aaron fall in love with? Vinnie.  Not men but Vinnie the person.  Pansexual…that’s someone who loves the person, not the gender or as the dictionary puts it “not limited in sexual choice with regard to biological sex, gender, or gender identity’.  That’s Aaron.  If Aaron were bisexual, he would love both genders equally, be drawn sexually to both.  That’s not Aaron.  He wants only Vinnie.  That’s pansexual.  There’s a difference.

Does that mean this is a putdown of bisexuality?  Absolutely not. At least in my opinion.  For me, its Renae Kaye stretching boundaries again to show another type of relationship or if you slide Vinnie’s family in there, relationships, that families come in these days.  Love knows no boundaries.  Hmmm.  Where have I heard that before?  It used to be LGBT, then it was LGBTQ, then LGBTQIA and recently I believe I saw LGBTQIAA.  We keep growing and stretching to make it more inclusive, to broaden our ideas of acceptance and peoples sexuality.  Not to lessen it.

Wonderful stories like The Straight Boyfriend open our eyes to other peoples differences and let us understand them better.  It makes acceptance easier or it should.  I hadn’t thought about polyamory from a child’s standpoint until this story.  Kaye gave me a lot to think about.  The pansexuality?  That was already something I had always accepted but her reasoning of it through  Aaron was very believable.

I recommend this story, I think there are so many elements here that are positive and need to be heard.  In a time where there needs to be more acceptance, not less, here is one more voice trying to keep our boundaries ever widening and ever inclusive.

Cover Artist: Maria Fanning.  I thought the cover art bright and spot on with regard to the characters. 

Sales Links

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Book Details:

ebook, 220 pages
Expected publication: November 21st 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1634777107 (ISBN13: 9781634777100)
Edition LanguageEnglish

SeriesLoving You – add to your Goodreads shelf here:

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Don’t Twunk With My Heart (Loving You #2) by Renae Kaye

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Don't Twunk With My HeartKee Smith isn’t sure who he is anymore. He knows who he used to be—the ignored gay son who chose a blue-collar job just because no one expected it, the submissive bottom who enjoyed large, masculine jocks who put him in his place, the sleek, fashionable twink who partied all night. But after his ex-boyfriend hit Kee and called him names, Kee retired from the social scene.

Back after a year’s hiatus, Kee still doesn’t know where he fits. His friends say he’s a twunk—a twink who put on muscle and turned into a hunk—but Kee is searching for somewhere to belong. Instead of going back to his usual type, Kee hooks up with twink Tate Stevens—a fashion-industry professional who works the image hard. It proves to be the best decision he’s ever made, and not just because he’s starting to regain his sexual confidence.

With Tate, Kee can open up about his fears and confusion without ridicule. Tate has his own fears about putting on weight and getting old. It will take work to make a relationship of opposites succeed, but they begin to realize the compromises will be worth it if they can be together.

I admit I missed the first story in this series and came at this  without the backstory and couples in Loving Jay (Loving You, #1) and now I think that was a  mistake I have to rectify.  Why?  Because reading this story without all that back history definitely takes away from the depth of the characters here and for me, a lessening of the connection between us.

Kee Smith used to be a twink but after escaping from an abusive relationship, he’s changed.  He works out, cut his hair and become, in the terminology of his gay friend…a twunk.  Kaye delivers the new Kee immediately to the reader in a full fledged portrait.  I loved Kee, complete with reservations about this transition and how he will be received at the local bar his friends hang out at.  The only thing missing here?  The Kee from Loving Jay, that abused twink that makes this one have more layers, more depth.  The events that occur later in the story make reading the Loving Jay even more important as a backdrop to this one.  Without knowing how bad his relationship was or who Kee was as a twink, part of this story is lost.

Tate Stevens, another character from the original story, is a buoyant, joyous, wonder of a character.  A chatterbox with impeccable taste  Tate is such a delight for those readers who love characters who can’t seem to stop talking.  I’m one of those.  I love the constant stream of words flowing  out of Tate’s mouth…a river of thoughts in search of a canal gate they will never find.  You either have a wide tolerance for these people in stories and real life or you don’t.  The fact that Renae Kaye writes Tate in such as way as his fountain of words can be irritating to some I find believable if not downright funny.  Who hasn’t met these people?

Kaye works to get Kee and Tate together by having Kee think through some of his issues with Tate with their friends from Loving Jay and other secondary characters.  It works but again, not having read that first story made reading this book that much harder.  I really need to go pick up that book.  I was left feeling that there were just not again world building to fill in all the assumed storylines.

Did I enjoy this story?  Yes, I love characters that don’t easily slide into relationships but have to work out their issues before they can find out if they have have a future with someone else.  This happens here not once but twice.  Plus its Renae Kaye, another must read author for me.

But I do absolutely recommend you pick up and read Loving Jay (Loving You, #1) first before going on to read Don’t Twunk With My Heart (Loving You, #2).  It will save you from having to do what I’m going to do next.  Go backwards.  But this romance is adorable, so are the men.  And I loved their friends that served as their family and support system.  Kaye made it a believable community, one you rooted for and wanted to revisit.  Which I’m about to do now.  Why don’t you do the same?

Cover Artist: Maria Fanning.  I love this cover, its perfect and adorable.

Sales Links

        

Book Details:

ebook, 200 pages
Expected publication: August 26th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 163477583X (ISBN13: 9781634775830)
Edition LanguageEnglish

SeriesLoving You #2