Two New Releases. Two New Challenges.
Hi! I’m so delighted to be here at RJ’s! I’m Tara Lain and I write the Beautiful Boys of Romance. Today, I’m celebrating two new releases – Death Dancer, which came out on Nov 29th and Cowboys Don’t Come Out, which releases on Dec 7th. Both of these books were a new challenge for me. Death Dancer is my first ever murder mystery romance and Cowboy’s Don’t Come Out is my first cowboy romance.
As you can probably guess, writing a murder mystery is harder than writing about cowboys (sigh) but I had a great time tackling Death Dancer. I’m not a person who just naturally thinks up mysteries, so I actually had to plot through the story, decide who the murderer(s) would be and start dropping clues early in the book. The novel’s set in New York City and concerns a rising star ballet dancer. Now I know a fair amount about both New York and ballet, but it’s still amazing how much research a writer has to do. I wanted my dancer to live in Soho. Okay, but what street and how does that street look? I was staring at street photos online for just the right environment. My dancer practices a lot in the book – but what steps does he actually do? I was brushing up my vocabulary of plies, entrechats and arabesques. My other hero is a police detective and there are a few murders in the book. Thank heaven for a great workshop on crime scene procedure I got to take last year.
While hanging out with cowboys is no hardship, there were also challenges to writing Cowboys Don’t Come Out. It takes place mostly in Hawaii and, while I had been to Hana where the story is set, I had to research a lot of the rest of the island for details. My hero teaches riding and I spend ages watching videos on how to ride western saddle in step-by-step lessons. The other hero is a Hawaiian cowboy called a paniolo and I had fun researching that tradition. Plus, both my guys love line dancing so I got to delve into that.
I hope you enjoy reading both Death Dancer and Cowboys Don’t Come Out. Below are a little nibble of each one –
Bad boy of ballet Valentin ‘Val’ Aalto stands poised on the verge of huge success—except for one big obstacle. Influential lead dancer Harry Hardesty hates Val and cheats him out of the lead in Romeo and Juliet.
When Hardesty winds up dead, Val looks like a prime suspect—and gets thrown under the detailed and methodical inspection of the handsome NY detective with the stick up his butt, Andrew Preston. At first, Preston believes Hardesty may be the victim of the chilling Dancer Killer who’s struck three victims, but evidence stacks up against Val.
Still, Andrew can’t seem to keep his hands off his suspect and when the Dancer Killer starts stalking Val, Andrew is forced to choose between his dedication to a job he loves and his growing passion for his beautiful dancer. Together Val and Andrew discover that chaos can be beautiful, one should choose desserts wisely, and love can even trump death in the rehearsal halls of ballet.
A sound, between a scratch and a squeak, sent the feel of that long-remembered ice down his back. Don’t move yet.
Squrunch. Woosh, Squrucnch.
Where? The door? Too close. The window then?
Shit, the branch Andrew had freaked over. Val’s heart slammed so hard it had to make a sound. The sheets over him actually shook.
He snaked out a hand and grabbed his cell phone. He pulled it under the covers. Speed dial, baby.
One ring. Two. Three— “Preston.” Thanks for police reflexes.
He put his head under the covers and whispered, “Andrew. It’s me.”
“I know. Why are you whispering? What’s wrong?”
“Someone’s trying to break in, I think.”
“Shit. Jump out of bed. Yell into the phone. Make it clear you’re talking to the police. Turn on all the lights. Now. Go.”
Val threw back the covers, grabbed for the bedside light and flipped it on, half expecting to see some killer standing in his room, but nobody. “Police. Get here now! Someone’s breaking into my apartment. Hurry. Please!” He raced around the apartment, turning on every light.
Andrew’s voice, panting. “What do you see?”
“Nothing. No one’s here.”
“Look out the window, but stand back in case he has a gun.”
“No, it’s okay. Don’t do it.”
“Hell.” He sidled to the window, pulled back the blinds and looked out. A sliver of light from his apartment shone into the darkness outside, although darkness was relative and his street pretty much never got more than dim. Staring between the buildings, he might have caught a glimpse of movement below, but it could have been a cat or a shadow. “I don’t see anything.”
A siren cut through the general noise of traffic that created the background of Val’s world. Nothing unusual about sirens, but this one got closer. Andrew was still breathing hard. Was he running? Val looked again. “I hear the black and whites.”
“Yeah. Just pulled up in front of your building, I think. They’ll buzz. Don’t let them in until I tell you.” The tinny squawk of a police radio sounded in the background. Andrew seemed to be talking. He came back on the cell. “Have they buzzed?”
The buzzer sounded.
“Yeah. Just now.”
“Okay. Let them in. I’ll be there in a second.”
Val started to the door where the buzzer was, stopped and laughed.
“I forgot I’m bare-assed. I’d better grab my jeans fast. See you in a second.” Still chuckling, he hit the buzzer, grabbed his pants from the floor and was zipping them as the police knocked on his door. New stair speed records. He opened.
The young female cop’s eyes widened just a little. “Valentin Aalto?”
“I understand you had an attempted break-in?” Two male cops in uniform stood behind her.
“I think so, but I’m not sure. Come in while I grab a shirt.”
Her half smile said ‘not on my account’, but she didn’t voice it. “Tell me what happened, sir.”
He pulled a long-sleeved T-shirt over his head. “I was asleep. I’m a light sleeper. I woke up and heard a strange sound, like a scrunching and a squeaking. I might not have thought anything about it since I’d double-locked the door, but An— Detective Preston inspected this apartment and suggested the limbs on the tree outside should be cut since they hang near the apartment windows. I got worried and called him.”
“Why didn’t you dial nine-one-one?”
Val speared her with his eyes. “I’m a dancer with the NYBT. Detective Preston is investigating the murders of dancers. He was my first thought. Is there a problem with that?”
“Of course not.” She turned to the male officers. “Check the tree and the area around it. The apartment window from the outside also, although we may have to come back with a ladder. I’ll look at it from in here.”
“No, thank you, Officer. I will.”
Oh, man, was Andrew a sight to make a scared dancer’s heart go pitty-pat.
Rand McIntyre settles for good enough. He loves his small California ranch, raising horses, and teaching riding to the kids he adores—but having kids of his own and someone to love means coming out, and that would jeopardize everything he’s built. Then, despite his terror of flying, he goes on a holiday to Hana, Hawaii with his parents and meets the dark and mysterious Kai Kealoha, a genuine Hawaiian cowboy. Rand takes to Kai’s kid brother and sister as much as he drools over Kai, but the guy sports more prickles than a horned toad, and more secrets than the exotic land he comes from.
Kai’s earned his privacy and lives to protect his “kids.” He ought to stay away from the big, handsome cowboy for everyone’s sake—but since the guy’s just a haole on a short vacation, how much damage can he do? When all of Kai’s worst fears and Rand’s darkest nightmares come true at once, there’s not much chance for two cowboys who can’t—or won’t—come out.
He stopped and tried to hear over the rushing of the surf out beyond the reef if anyone else hid in the dark. No sounds. Fortunately, no big water hit this beach, so he didn’t have to worry about getting swamped. Actually, between the lapping waves and the brilliant moonlight, the scene resembled some fairy-tale romance. Fuck that.
Right where the dry sand verged on the wet, he flopped on his butt. What she’d said—that he settled for a good-enough life. That he wasn’t happy. Don’t I get to decide that?
He leaned back on his elbows. Yeah, but she’s right. I created a whole life—as if I was somebody else. Most people find “the one” and build a future so it suits them both. I imagined a cowboy and slid into his boots—Rand McIntyre. Say that with a drawl, son. Just one problem. I’m gay—always have been—and cowboys don’t come out. Where does that leave me? A-fucking-lone, pardner. Always will be.
Have you seen Brokeback Mountain? Shit.
Phosphorescence sparkled on the tops of the waves farther out. Pretty. Guess there could be all kinds of weird man-eating shit in that water.
Do you think more sharks and barracudas swim at night than during the day?
He sprang up, stripped his Hawaiian shirt off and tossed it on the sand, then pulled off the shorts his mom had given him. Commando. What would it feel like to have fishes nibbling at his balls? Not like anybody else was doing any nibbling. He strode into the water. Whoa! Not cold, just startling.
When he waded out past his thighs, his penis and balls started to float. He chuckled. Kind of like being a kid in the bathtub. Endless hours of fun playing with your own built-in toys. A few more steps, and he submerged to his shoulders. He gave a tiny shiver. Weird being sunk in inky blackness. Still, the water felt good. He kicked off and swam a few yards out, turned, and stroked back towards shore. He wasn’t a good enough swimmer to push his luck alone at night.
After treading water a couple of minutes, he pulled himself back into the shallows and sat on the hard wet beach. He glanced down. Some shrinkage, but his balls still lay on the sand. Remember to rinse them off or you’ll itch. Slowly he released his breath. What was he going to do? Answer? Same as always. Nothing. He couldn’t risk all the great shit he’d made to try to make it better.
Tara Lain writes the Beautiful Boys of Romance in LGBT erotic romance novels that star her unique, charismatic heroes. Her first novel was published in January of 2011 and she’s now somewhere around book 34. Her best-selling novels have garnered awards for Best Series, Best Contemporary Romance, Best Paranormal Romance, Best Ménage, Best LGBT Romance, Best Gay Characters, and Tara has been named Best Writer of the Year in the LRC Awards. In her other job, Tara owns an advertising and public relations firm. She often does workshops on both author promotion and writing craft. She lives with her soul-mate husband and her soul-mate dog near the sea in California where she sets a lot of her books. Passionate about diversity, justice, and new experiences, Tara says on her tombstone it will say “Yes”!
FB Page: http://www.facebook.com/taralain