Monday, August 4, 2014

Forever Man VBT

A bond forged in Catholic school, an unspoken attraction that outlasts years of separation and other relationships.

Ren and Cole never acted on that thing that always bubbled beneath the surface of their friendship, not until a chance encounter in a Santa Fe bar and a song that would tip the scales forced them to confront their feelings. Will the influence of a music superstar, a New York socialite and a mystical property manager finally bring them together, or will a history of missed opportunities, their own fears and an impending wedding keep them apart? Can they just have one night, and then walk away?

Forever Man is a story of the consequences of the choices we make, and how the courage to change can last a lifetime.

Ren turns to see Cole standing not five feet away, a bit out of breath.
"Did you mean it?" Ren asks.
"You're in love with me?"
Ren doubles over again, trying to catch his breath. Cole crosses to him, rubbing his back but saying nothing. After a moment, Ren straightens out and asks, "How long?"
"I want us to be together—”
"No. How long have you been in love with me?"
The answer to this one question is all Ren needs to know. Because this man, this friend, this lover of his has always given in to whims and drama and intensity, and Ren has to be sure that he is not that. He has to be sure that this is not new.
Cole steps into Ren's space, tilts his chin up and kisses him. The kiss is firm, an answer, a promise.
"I can't remember a time when I wasn't in love with you."

AJ, thanks so much for stopping by. So, how did you get started writing?
I started writing very young—in grade school--because my mom was studying for her Ph.D., and brought me with her to the library. There was nothing else to do but roam the stacks and read books. It wasn’t long before I started writing my own stories. Then, a teacher took an interest in my writing. After that, there was no other profession for me.

Oddly enough, it was that same teacher who suggested I would be a better playwright than novelist, and so I pursued playwriting for many years. I was a ghostwriter of motivational, inspirational and business books for many years. But writing other people’s books for a living is soulless work. Writing Forever Man has renewed my desire to write my own books again.

What was the inspiration for your book?
I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that it started with one of my sexual fantasies about running into an old lover while away on business. It was more about stepping outside of your life for a weekend, and giving in to old temptations. I’m happily married, and I think most people in long-term relationships have similar fantasies.

Though the book started from a sexual fantasy, it became so much more than that. I wanted to explore an age-old love that had never been admitted, or acted upon. What would happen if two people secretly in love with each other for years bumped into each other by chance in a romantic city? Would they finally take a chance and go after what they want? It became an opportunity to not only explore the rush of giving in to a persistent longing, but also how loving authentically helps you live authentically.

So, what are you working on right now? Got any releases planned, or still writing?
I’m working on a new series set in a small town on the North Shore of Lake Superior. It features two young men, childhood rivals, who return to their hometown the summer after college and fall in love. There are side stories, interweaving with the main story. I’m super excited about it.

Favorite movie?
The Philadelphia Story starring Katherine Hepburn, Jimmy Stewart and Cary Grant. I’m a sucker for old Hollywood, classic films. The characters in Forever Man talk about Casablanca, another classic film. There are a few similarities in that, just as Ingrid Bergman’s character has to choose between Rick and her Nazi resistance husband, my character Ren has to decide between staying with Cole, the love of his life, or continuing on with his plans to marry Paul, a good man with whom he has built a life that inspires the GLBTQ community.

Book that inspired you to become an author?
“Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott. Her character, Jo March, was a huge inspiration to me. I wanted to be like her, to move to a big city and write books.

Alright, you have one superpower. What is it?
I would love the ability to stop time. I have so many stories I want to write, and not enough time in the day to write them!

Last question: Which of your characters are you most like and how/why?
I am most like Ren because I too have struggled with finding the courage to ask for what I want, and trust that I’m making the right decisions. We’re different in that I’m lucky in love—my decisions have to do with my career.

Reviewed by Trix:
3.25 stars

Disclaimer: I received an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

This is one of the first releases by Interlude Press, a publisher featuring LGBTQ books written by fan fiction authors. FOREVER MAN is based on DeWall'sfan fiction SOMEONE LIKE YOU, based on the Kurt/Blaine fandom from TV's GLEE. Some people have strong feelings about books that are retooled fan fiction, so I won't get into that debate here. I hadn't read the earlier story (though a brief look on DeWall's LiveJournal page shows that some chapters cleave pretty closely tothe fanfic in plot, if not in character names), but I admit that once I learned it was based on fanfic, I immediately tried to figure out the fandom. Then, once I foundout it was based on GLEE (I'm not a huge fan these days, but I know it fairly well), my brain was trying to fill in the blanks of what was inspired by the show and what wasn't as I read. So, I did find it somewhat of a distraction. That said, DeWall "files off the serial numbers" well enough that if you didn't know it was fanfic-derived, it probably wouldn't be an issue. (Plus, there are some red herrings: while Alegra is obviously an older version of pop star Adele, Diedre, who I assumed was GLEE's Rachel Berry, is actually an original character.)

Now, to the actual story. Ren and Cole's long-suppressed attraction produces a story filled with longing, which occasionally sparks into sweetly euphoric love scenes when the two give in to their desires. This means that the level of angst is steady but low-burning, and sometimes I wanted more highs and lows in the storytelling. This is compounded by DeWall's very romanticized writing style here, which uses a lot of poetic rephrasing and repetition. This can be very lyrical, like a love letter, while at other times it just feels like it's needlessly drawing out the story. The guys also read a lot younger than they are because of all the back-and-forth hand-wringing. (There's a moment where Diedre is ranting that pining does not necessarily translate into true love, and it's a moment that's clearly supposed to be seen as bitchy and harsh. Yet, my first thought was "You know, she really makes a lot of sense.") There are some moments of humor, mostly in the cute text exchanges between the guys. The side characters are minor players but generally well-drawn (though I worried for a while that Antonio would fall prey to my pet peeve "mystical ethnic person" trope, but luckily DeWall backs off from that), and DeWall does well by portraying Ren's boyfriend Paul as a thoroughly sympathetic guy, which adds emotional weight to the scenario. My advice would be to read a sample chapter or two before buying and decide that way: for some the story and style will be an instant five-star no-brainer, while others will be annoyed. For me? 3.25 stars.

The author will be awarding a $25 Barnes & Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. A free download of an Interlude Press eBook title or an author/book swag pack (US ONLY) will be awarded to one randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter at each stop during the tour.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

August 4: Sharing Links and Wisdom
August 7: Behind Closed Doors - Promo
August 11: Mia Downing
August 11: Booklover Sue
August 13: Dawn's Reading Nook - Promo
August 14: Erotica For All
August 15: We Love Kink

Author Bio and Links:
A professional writer for more than 20 years, A.J. DeWall began her career as a playwright. She is the ghostwriter behind dozens of nonfiction books, including several award-winning bestsellers. As a writer of fan fiction, her online titles have hundreds of thousands of reads. Forever Man is her first novel. She lives in New York with her wife and son.

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