A Caryn Release Day Review: Swann’s Revenge by Shira Anthony

Standard

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

What a great book!  It’s a story of second chances, with just a little bit of enemies-to-lovers thrown in.  And of course who doesn’t appreciate the hero who overcomes a difficulty to become a success?

In high school Jimmy Zebulon was a band geek, overweight, asthmatic, socially awkward, and unwillingly out as gay, which made him a target for the football jocks.  His first crush was Danny, who was also on the football team, but was much kinder.  During one unfortunate game, Jimmy was humiliated by the other jocks in front of Danny, and in the process lost a love letter he’d written (but never intended to show) to Danny, and it was just too much – he ended up leaving the school, moving to a different city, and even took his stepfather’s name.  Jimmy Zebulon disappeared, and J. Graham Swann was born.  He grew 8 inches, started competing in marathons, became a successful lawyer, and essentially was completely unrecognizable to anyone who would have known him before.  Outwardly he was the epitome of a self-made man and owner of a prominent labor law firm, but there was a large part of him that inwardly was still that awkward and insecure teenager.

Daniel Parker was in the closet until an injury ended his college football career.  He married a wonderful man, they adopted a little girl, and were living their dream in NYC.  When his husband tragically died and Daniel became a single father, his life and goals changed.  He moved to Raleigh, North Carolina, to pursue an equally rewarding, but less stressful job with one of the rising stars in the world of labor law, Graham Swann.

Their first meeting is during a triathlon when Dan gives up a chance to place to help out another runner.  Graham had been admiring his ass, but then had to admire his kindness as well.  They didn’t recognize each other from high school, didn’t even exchange names, but their instant chemistry led to what was going to be an incredibly hot encounter, when mid-blow job, Dan took a call and abruptly left.  Graham was pissed, but blew it off and went back to his regular life.  On Monday, he was shocked to find that Dan was the new lawyer hired by his partner, and his aborted one night stand was also his high school crush.  All of his past insecurities came rushing back, and Graham’s goals immediately became keeping their shared past secret, and avoiding interacting with Dan as much as possible.

The characters really made this book.  These are both men I would want to be friends with.  They are driven, and successful, but still managed to be warm and caring, and had their priorities right where they should be.  Dan put his daughter first, and Graham took care of his employees.  Although Graham’s fear of being recognized made him exceptionally cold and aloof to Dan at first, Dan and his daughter Lacey eventually broke through the stony facade, and both men found much to admire in the other.  Graham’s insecurity caused him to give off a lot of mixed signals, leading to clumsy starts and stops in their developing friendship, but Dan remained infinitely patient.  The kindness that Graham had noticed 15 years ago was still there, and still just as attractive, and ultimately what brought and kept them together.  Although Dan may have been the catalyst, when Graham confronted his fears, and his past, he finally started to truly believe that he was worthy of Dan’s love, and the final transformation from ugly duckling to swan was complete.  The secondary characters were interesting and supportive, and though Lacey is a little too precocious – like most of the kids that bring the MCs together in romances – it wasn’t enough to turn me off.  I found this book to have more depth than the others I’ve read in the Dreamspun Desires series, and I would definitely recommend it!

Oh, and remember the love letter?  It worked 🙂

Cover art by Aaron Anderson is the standard for Dreamspun Desires, but I did think the model was a good match for Graham.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 224 pages
Expected publication: February 6th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781640802421
Edition Language English

Shira Anthony on Writing the Happily Ever After and her latest release Swann’s Revenge (author guest post, excerpt, and giveaway))

Standard

Swann’s Revenge by Shira Anthony
Dreamspinner Press
Dreamspun Desires
Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson

Buy Links:  

Dreamspinner Press |  Amazon |  Kobo |  Barnes & Noble iTunes 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Shira Anthony here today on tour for Swann’s Revenge.  Welcome, Shira!

Writing the Happily Ever After, Dreamspun-Style, by Shira Anthony

Thank you, Melanie and company, for hosting this stop on the Swann’s Revenge Book Tour! I’m so happy to share my third entry in the Dreamspun Desires line of romance-forward, tropey love stories from Dreamspinner Press. Be sure to read to the bottom of the post about how to enter to win a cool unisex leather heart bracelet to celebrate the book tour and read an excerpt from the story.

I’ve been a romance reader since as far back as I can remember. I don’t have nearly enough time to read anymore, but when I do, it’s almost always gay romance. But whether it’s gay, lesbian, or het romance, the elements are usually the same. That’s especially true for Dreamspun Desires books, which follow the old Harlequin/category-romance formulas and tropes.

For me, the best part of any romance is the HEA. I don’t write books without them, and I don’t read them either. If it’s a sad ending, it is so not for me! Even more so with the Dreamspun line, the HEA is key. But what does it take to end up with a truly satisfying HEA?

A great happily-ever-after is almost entirely dependent upon the tension the author creates.

I know you’ve stayed up reading late into the night because you have to know what happens. I definitely have! Why? Because you can’t stand leaving the two MCs hanging. You need to know that MC 1 is going to forgive MC 2 for not having told him something important. Or maybe it’s that MC 2 hasn’t told MC 1 how he feels. The thing that keeps you hanging—that keeps you reading even though you’re going to sleep through your next day—is tension. Pure and simple. And what do you get after the tension?

HEAs are all about resolution of tension between the main characters: the more powerful the tension, the sweeter the HEA.

In the Dreamspun line, you’re not going to find the all-out-angst you might in a more dramatic romance. But you will feel the tension build toward the resolution. And when that resolution comes? You’ll probably be smiling. Or letting out a long sigh.

Swann’s Revenge is no exception. When Graham and Dan meet, sparks fly. But both men have pasts that influence who they are and what they expect from a relationship. For Graham, who left behind his ugly-duckling high school self, his past is a secret he doesn’t have the courage to share. And that secret could spell the end of his fledgling relationship with Dan. That’s the tension that needs a HEA. And I guarantee you’ll get the HEA. I hope it’ll leave you smiling, too.

Happy reading, and don’t forget to comment on this post to be entered to win the cool unisex “Follow your heart” bracelet I’m giving away at the end of the tour! –Shira

 Blurb

Can a swan make peace with his ugly duckling past? 

Chubby geek Jimmy Zebulon’s heart broke the day his high school crush, Danny Parker, looked on as his teammates tormented Jimmy. Fifteen years later, Jimmy is long gone, and from his ashes has risen Graham Swann, a movie-star-handsome law firm owner. Graham thinks Jimmy and his past are long forgotten—until attorney Dan Parker shows up for his first day of work. 

Getting injured playing college ball was the best thing that ever happened to Dan. It turned his future in a better direction and allowed him to emerge from the closet that trapped him.

Graham wants to believe his childhood dream can come true, but he can’t bring himself to tell Dan who he really is—and their pasts might ruin any chance for a happily ever after….

=11

*****

Excerpt

“Terri tells me you’re from my neck of the woods,” Dan said and leaned back in his chair.

Graham met Dan’s gaze. The urge to shift in his seat passed as he reasserted control. “Oh? Where would that be?” He made it his practice never to divulge too much about himself. Even Terri, whom he’d met when they were both taking prep classes for the Tennessee bar examination, only knew so much. The past was best forgotten.

“Carletonville. My folks still live out there.” Dan chuckled. “They still go to all the football games at Merrill High.”

Graham pretended the name hadn’t made his stomach drop into his feet. The back of his neck felt cold and clammy. “How nice,” he said evenly. “Did you play?”

“I did. But that was a long time ago,” Dan said with a sigh and shake of his head. “A different lifetime.”

“I see.” Graham glanced at his watch. He needed to end this interview soon or he’d lose his composure.

Fortunately, Dan got the message and stood. “I’m probably keeping you from something. I’m sure we’ll have more time to chat later.”

“I’ll have my assistant set up a few hours for us to go over strategy tomorrow morning.” Graham smiled and added, “Good to have you aboard.”

“Thanks again.”

Graham watched Dan leave, all the while struggling to keep his discomfort from showing. Dan closed the door behind him and Graham let out a long breath. How had he missed it before?

The Invincible Danny Parker. North Carolina All- State Quarterback of the Year. Full ride at Carolina. NCAA All-America Quarterback. A shoo-in for the pros until he tore his ACL in his senior year and had to quit the game.

Graham thought he’d forgotten what it felt like to sit in the mud as half the football team looked on and laughed, but he’d been wrong. All his memories came barreling back, and with them the pain and humiliation of fifteen years before.

The day after, he’d quit the band. When his mother remarried in June, they moved to Memphis and he took his stepfather’s name. He grew nearly eight inches his senior year.  He put high school and the chubby kid behind him. In college, he learned he didn’t have asthma at all—he’d been allergic to the mold in the Carletonville apartment where he and his mother lived. He started to exercise. His roommate taught him to play racquetball and he started running regularly. He got into shape and learned to imitate the way the popular students dressed. He was accepted into a great law school and never looked back.

Fifteen years before, Jimmy Zebulon, the chubby kid with a face covered in zits, left Carletonville and never returned. Jimmy had moved on with his life. He’d banished the memories and the shame. He’d been absolutely fine.

Until now.

******

About the Author

About Shira: Shira Anthony was a professional opera singer in her last incarnation, performing roles in such operas as Tosca, i Pagliacci, and La Traviata, among others. She’s given up TV for evenings spent with her laptop, and she never goes anywhere without a pile of unread M/M romance on her Kindle. You can hear Shira singing “Vissi d’arte” from Puccini’s Tosca by clicking here: Shira’s Singing

Shira loves a great happily-ever-after and never writes a story without one. She’s happy to write what her muse tells her, whether it’s fantasy, sci fi, paranormal, or contemporary romance. She particularly loves writing series, because she thinks of her characters as old friends and she wants to visit them even after their stories are told.

In real life, Shira sang professionally for 14 years, and she currently works as a public sector attorney advocating for children. She’s happy to have made writing her second full-time job, even if it means she rarely has time to watch TV or go to the movies. Shira writes about the things she knows and loves, whether it’s music and musicians, the ocean, or the places she’s lived or traveled to. She spent her middle school years living in France, and tries to visit as often as she can.

Shira and her husband spend as many weekends as they can aboard their 35′ catamaran sailboat, Land’s Zen, at the Carolina Coast. Not only has sailing inspired her to write about pirates and mermen, her sailboat is her favorite place to write. And although the only mermen she’s found to date are in her own imagination, she keeps a sharp lookout for them when she’s on the water.

 

Remember don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway for this every cool bracelet: