The guys talk about the surprise they had this week as the podcast made O: The Oprah Magazine’s list of “21 Best Book Podcasts.” They also wish everyone a happy International Podcast Day, welcome back The Queer Creative as they start season 2, and wish a happy Pride week to everyone celebrating with Druid City Pride in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Jeff reviews Goalie Interference by Avon Gale & Piper Vaughn and Face the Music by K.M. Nuehold. Will joins Jeff to review King Me by Lucy Lennox.

Coastal Magic Convention Featured Author interviews kick off with Katey Hawthrone. Katey talks about her Superpowered Love and Witchy Boys series, her love of comic books and sci-fi and how she got started writing. She also discusses what she’s looking forward to at her first Coastal Magic.

Remember, you can listen and subscribe to the podcast anytime on Apple PodcastsGoogle Podcasts, SpotifyStitcherPlayerFMYouTube and audio file download.

Show Notes

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Interview Transcript – Katey Hawthorne

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Jeff: Katey, welcome to the podcast. It is so great to have you here.

Katey: Thank you very much. It is great to be here.

Jeff: You’re having kind of a re-release palooza. For lack of a better word.

Katey: That’s a really good word for it actually. I might borrow that. So I had to re-release all my books last year, but then I re-released them with Less Than Three who recently, sadly stopped publishing. But, they did it the right way. They gave us, you know, everything and I got to keep my covers, which was crazy because I’ve not had that happen before. So I did end up getting… Actually the last of the books just went live so everything is finally back up. So that is really, really great. I’m super excited that all my stuff is back.

Jeff: Congratulations! And your covers like Superpowered Love those covers are gorgeous.

Katey: Yeah. I’m really, really lucky. It’s all Natasha Snow, who I was already working with for all my other covers. So she’s going to continue with the series for me now that I’m doing them on my own which is really, really cool.

Jeff: Tell us about “Superpowered Love” for those who don’t know about it. There’s eight books out there waiting for people to go pick up if they haven’t so far.

Katey: Yes, that is true. There are eight and they are all there now. Those books are about people called the awakened and they have superpowers, but they are technically sort of just under the surface of what we would think of as our normal society. So it’s very kind of urban fantasy, you know, it’s right there, but it’s kind of just one level underneath the street maybe from what we would see.

So they can either have thermal powers or they can have electrical powers. That’s basically it. They’re either hot/cold or basically they make lightning. So it’s stories about them.

Jeff: What inspired these books in this series.

Katey: I’m like a huge comic book nerd actually. I was like raised on my dad’s old Spider-Man comics from the 70’s which are incredibly cheesy and wonderful. So I kind of grew up with that and with the 90s “X-Men” cartoon, which was like the thing – I never stopped reading comic books and I still haven’t. I’m almost 40.

And I think they’re just one of the best art forms that we have ever invented. There’s always this this idea that comes out of I think it mostly comes out of fan fiction that is called ‘between the lines’ and that’s the stuff that they leave out of the comic books.

You know, it’s not the big hero fight or the big, you know, like showdown with apocalypse or whatever. It’s the stuff that happens when the superheroes are at home. With the people that they consider family and a superhero is very much about found family too. And especially you see that a lot with “X-Men” because it’s obviously a big huge simile for civil rights, and queer rights for that matter. I feel like it’s kind of that ‘between the line’ stuff is what I always really wanted to write about – people with superpowers. So that’s what that whole series is.

Jeff: What went into your world building for that, since it’s kind of just on the edge of urban fantasy? Obviously you had to create your superpowers and the rules that they operate by. What else got wrapped into that?

Katey: When I first started writing it, I have a really good friend who is a neurologist. She’s a neuroscientist actually not a neurologist and she sat down with me and we figured out what would have to physically be about human beings for them to manifest these particular Powers.

What kind of Electro generative organs they would need, like that kind of stuff. So we worked all that out. We worked out kind of the physics of I mean just like straight-up nerdy stuff. It used to be on my website. It’s not there right now, but I’m gonna put it back up in a new format now that I’m republishing them all.

So there was a lot of like actual superhero science quote-unquote, I guess that went into it. But also I wanted it for the World building. I wanted to be clear that the different pockets of these awakened super-powered people were isolated from each other, for the most part I’m only really focusing on the United States, but it is clear that they are all over the world.

But I wanted it to be clear that you know, there’s a society in Cleveland, there’s one in San Diego. There’s one in Washington DC. And of course the DC one is, you know, people will be involved in the CIA and in the defense contractors and stuff like that. There’s an underground version of the FBI that handles International crimes that have to do with these people.

There’s a prison system that is under the surface that has to do with that and all of those things. I had to find people who knew what they were talking about. I don’t know anything about any of those things. So I lived in Washington when I started writing it so luckily I had access to people who could help me with that.

So it was a lot of you know, it was a lot of research on the way things are and then tweaking that to well, how could we do that if there were super powers?

Jeff: Did you plot all of this out and build the world as you were preparing for the series or do you just keep adding essentially to the series bible as you go?

Katey: So the first five I had plotted before the first one was even published. So those ones I would say kind of all went at the same time. But then after that I’ve just kind of been pulling stuff and just adding to the series bible as I go. Yeah and hoping that it makes me look like I did it from the beginning which I just told you that I didn’t but yeah…

Jeff: As long as it looks like you did. That’s what’s important.

Katey: You know, it and this is the thing with comic books too, is it pisses me off when the writers don’t respect what came before them and I’m like if I can’t even respect my own canon, you know, I can’t complain about Marvel anymore. So I try to be really careful about it.

Jeff: That’s good because I’m not a big comic fan but like TV or movies… Big Bang Theory had this thing in season 10 where it was obvious they forgot some of the stuff from like season 3.

Katey: But wait, it’s your own show like come on, man.

Jeff: Exactly. We all see it in reruns all the time. So get it right.

Katey: It’s in syndication now, man. We’re on this.

Jeff: Now you’re working on a ninth book in “Superpowered Love.” What kind of hints can you drop on that?

Katey: So book four, which was part of that initial sort of burst of energy that I had pre 2010 when I wrote the first five. Book four was about an FBI agent and he’s actually he’s kind of a huge dick.

And so that’s the book that people, if they’re going to get turned off, they’ll get turned off by book four. It’s called “Losing Better” and I really like him because he’s…

Are you familiar with Dungeons and Dragons?

Jeff: Oh, yeah.

Katey: So okay. He’s basically lawful good. Which is the most annoying alignment. But lawful good doesn’t mean lawful nice.

So he’s like a paladin who’s kind of a dick. But he always is working for sort of what he sees as the good of everyone, and that is genuinely how he feels and that he’s really obnoxious about it. So in that book, there was a character who was sort of a side character, and there was some threesome action actually in that book and he was kind of the third character and his name is Kieran.

Well, Kieran got like a weird little kind of following and I decided, okay. Yeah, he does deserve his own book – when it was mentioned to me by my editor. So that’s what this one is going to be. So it’s about him finding the person that he wants to be with. Yeah at long last.

Jeff: Do you envision more for “Superpowered Love” past eight or past nine rather?

Katey: Yeah, just two more, there’s going to be 10 and 11 and then it’s done.

Jeff: Any hints on those you want give?

Katey: Ten is going to be another f/f one, which “The Playhouse” was girl-on-girl, which I know it’s like not done that often to put different pairings in the same series, but I can’t help myself.

So I did and so there’s going to be more of that with that book. And then book 11 will bring back some other familiar characters. And I mean the books will always be able – you can always read them in any order no matter who I bring back or who reappears but yeah, I will bring back more in book eleven.

I’m done after that. I’m done with “Superpowered Love.” It got delayed by like the republishing thing and everything sounds like you know what 11 is a great number. It’s a great number.

Jeff: Your books tend to feature shifters and superheroes and fae, supernatural/paranormal. We’ve talked a little bit about your love of comic books. What else draws you into writing in these genres?

Katey: I think that’s just what I like to read and I think the best you know, there’s a lot of writing advice and most of it is really terrible. But I think the best writing advice is to write what you really want to read that isn’t out there already and I really wanted to read paranormal books about bisexual people like, that was just really what I wanted, and then that kind of branched out into oh and also gay people, lesbians, trans people, Ace people, you know, like these were all stories that I wasn’t finding – but I always wanted it to have some sort of magical aspect.

I will say my one big weakness when it comes to contemporary, however, is rock stars. I will read anything about rockstars. It does not need magic. So that’s a weakness and also historicals. I really like historicals. But those are all like the things that I like to read about, you know, or to watch shows about I also like to watch True Crime and I guess that’s why the “Kanaan & Tilney” books ended up being mysteries.

But yeah, it’s mostly just what I want to consume. It’s like when I’m looking for something that I didn’t quite find within the genre I’ll decide to just write it myself.

Jeff: One of the things I found on your website that I liked a lot is that you break down the representation on one of your pages.

Katey: I noticed when I was talking to people and just people around town I live in Dayton, Ohio and I would just be talking to people about what I do and they would say oh, I didn’t know that there were specifically romance novels with asexual people and I’m like, oh yes. Yes. Let me help you, I realized just talking to people who weren’t already reading a lot of romance or consuming specifically queer romance or mm romance or lesbian romance or whatever. I noticed that that was like really important to them was to find themselves in these books.

Our trans romance in particular was another one that people were like, oh wow. That’s a thing that like I can read about you know, and I thought I want to make that a lot easier for people to access. So that’s why I did that on my website.

Jeff: We’ll link to that in the shownotes so people can find it to and check all those out.

Tell us a little bit about your other series so that people can go find some of these other things that you’ve been working on and getting them re-released.

Katey: Oh, yeah. So the “Kanaan & Tilney” books should be out by the time this is out and they are mysteries. One of the characters is a wolf shifter. I think it’s the only shifter thing I’ve ever written and the other guy is a pyrokinetic, which I have a lot of in my “Superpowered Love” books. I’m obsessed with like fire powers.

I don’t know why, it’s just a thing with me, but he’s also a romance novel writer. And he likes to write sort of mysteries and or romances. So he’s a little bit of a romantic and he’s a demisexual character and the other guy is a bi character and we write them just solving usually murder mystery so far as what they’ve done. There’s going to be five of those.

We’re working on the third right now and the first two we just finally released, so those are really, really fun.

I do another series that only has one book in it so far. It’s called “Alchemiya” and that’s going to be about women. It’s historical fantasy.

So it is fantasy and it takes place in a world that is not our own but it has elements of a Regency romance in it. I wish I had pigeonholed myself a little better with that one, but I didn’t and it is going to be a series, there are going to be three of them and they are all going to be about various women in the society were alchemy is the main form of magic, but it has the same sort of societal values and mores as say Regency England.

So yeah, so that’s “Alchemiya” which is really, really fun.

Jeff: I’m fascinated by that because I’m kind of into Regency romances. I’ve got kind of resurgence of being back into them again. So that element to Regency, I’m like hmm.

Katey: Yeah for me it’s like I mean, KJ Charles. And and not even just the queer ones, like that was kind of the first romance novels that I read were Jane Austen and then I started reading things like Georgette Heyer and just sort of modern Regency romances and just getting more and more into it and I just thought, man I just really like this era but I’d like to do something, again with me always, I’d like to do something magical with this, like it’s either like it needs magic or needs to be in space like one or the other.

Jeff: I guess you could do both.

Katey: Yeah, absolutely. That’s surely coming soon. I don’t know what it will be, but it’ll happen.

Jeff: Now you are getting ready to do your first contemporary and you mentioned a moment ago that you’re jam is contemporary is rock stars. Does that mean you’re doing a rock star contemporary?

Katey: Yes. I am. Although there aren’t not rock stars in it, but one might assume that someday they will be. It’s more like a small town band contemporary it’s going to take place in my hometown. I am originally from West Virginia, which is not a place where you often set queer romance novels… Because reasons.

Yeah, it’s something that’s very sort of near and dear to me for a lot of reasons and it deals with a lot of stuff that I dealt with growing up which is sort of – there’s a lot of economic depression in Appalachia right now because coal mining is not really a thing anymore, all the steel mills or kind of they’ve all moved overseas and or just not useful anymore.

So as I grew up my hometown was shrinking in on itself and a lot of people who had come out of high school and got these wonderful jobs were losing them. So I kind of watched that happen as I was growing up. And now of course, we have the opioid epidemic which has hit Appalachia super, super hard. It’s awful but there’s still a lot of really good stuff there. And so I kind of wanted to write something that brought all that stuff together that’s really important to me and I wanted it to not just talk about those issues. But also to point out that there is hope when it comes to those things and also I thought there’s not a whole lot I can do about the opioid epidemic, but what I can do is write a book and donate the proceeds, it’s kind of like an all-in-one for me just in terms of you know, just giving back to where I grew up.

So that is actually with my editor right now. I rewrote it like four times before I sent it to her. I have a really hard time also writing things that are super angsty that have a lot of real life drama in them. I’m kind of usually a little bit fluffier, not always, but usually – this is not fluffy.

So it was definitely a departure for me. Not just because it’s a contemporary but also there is a lot of music. So I feel like that was kind of my in, where I could they could always retreat into the music. I was reading Johnny Marr from The Smiths, I was reading his autobiography at the time, like Oasis had just released a new movie and I was just kind of consuming a lot of rock and roll stuff and I was like, you know, what now’s the time. We’re going to do this.

Jeff: Any idea when that will be out are we looking by the end of this year or first of next?

Katey: I’m thinking by the end of this year. It’s supposed to be December Almost everything is in place for it. So assuming that it doesn’t need mega rewrites when it comes back from the editor. It should be in December

Jeff: Another thing to look forward to.

Katey: Yes.

Jeff: You’ve done a fair bit of co-writing Jenna Rose, Carlin Grant, J.A. Rock. How’d you get into the co-writing? And what was that experience like for you?

Katey: I love co-writing because it’s always like a surprise and I’ve done it differently with everyone that I’ve done it with. With J.A. Rock we would decide who was going to write a scene, but I was always either trying to make her laugh or trying to make her cry or something, we was just try and like just kind of entertain each other. Then you know with Carlin we had a very specific story that we wanted to tell which is the most superhero thing I’ve ever written.

It’s even more superhero than “Superpowered Love” because they are genuinely like legit superheroes in that stronger, better, faster, more. They specifically wanted to write like a trans superhero character and I was like, yes, let’s do this right now. And so that was a specific story that we were looking to tell, so that was really really fun.

And then with me and Jenna doing “Kanaan & Tilney” it was like we had both invented one of the characters each – Jenna invented the wolf shifter and I invented the pyrokinetic and we threw them together to see what would happen. And then they work together which was an accident. So we were like, hey, we should write books. It all came about and just totally different ways. They each produce our own equally weird and interesting children. I will say that.

You gotta like the person that you’re creating them with, you have to nurture them. It is one of my favorite things to do there. I really like co-writing because I feel like it’s always such a surprise. I just like seeing what the other person is written whether it’s two seconds later or like two hours later, two days later. It’s like getting a present.

So it’s really fun.

Jeff: You do get that new thing to read that you get to like play with on top of reading it.

Katey: Exactly, yeah, and I love building on that. I love prompts. When I first started writing, I also I used to write a lot of horror, which I don’t do as much anymore, but I would always purposely go and look for who was looking for short stories on a certain topic because I love prompts and just to see what direction my brain is going to go from that and I feel like co-authoring it’s just non-stop like that and I really like that about it.

Jeff: Let’s go back in time a little bit and get the Katie Hawthorne origin story. What got you into writing?

Katey: Well, gamma rays.

No. I Don’t think they actually do anything.

I think I always really liked to just invent stories. I always really love to read. My parents would have company and I would be sitting under the table reading a book, you know, it was always just kind of my retreat and I was always very introverted and preferred books to people ,which I think most authors would say, right? Like that’s kind of our thing.

I think it was just a natural progression for me to go from reading stories to both reading and making my own stories, because obviously you never stop reading. If you do, you’re terrible. You’re a terrible writer. I’ll just come out – I do not trust writers who say they don’t read. That’s ridiculous.

But I think it’s just a natural progression for some people and for some people it’s not, which is totally cool because that’s not your form of creativity. But for me, it just felt like that was the next thing. As a kid, probably from the age of 10 on, my comforters on my bed were always covered in ink just from my pens breaking open and like my mom would be like come out and watch TV with us and I was like, I don’t want to watch TV I’m writing a book. It was always the joke in my family that I was like writing my memoirs when I was like 13. I’d call my best friend and read her what I’d written that night and she would tell me, you know, the poem that she had written that night and stuff like that.

Jeff: So you even had a sort of a writers group from very early. That’s cool.

Katey: Actually interesting, the first “Superpowered Love” book, which was my first romance novel published , one of the characters is actually based on my best friend because I really wanted to write her a character.

She really likes romance novels and I really wanted to write her a character who was adopted, but that it wasn’t like this whole big drama about who his bio family was. He was just a well-adjusted adopted kid. It wasn’t like a big drama because she really wanted that and I thought, I’m gonna write this book for her.

So I think it’s always been about having that support of other creative people and particularly my best friend, but then as I grew older I you know, you gather more of those people and just when you’re in a room with creative people life is better, you know.

Jeff: So true. What were some of your early book influences and author influences.

Katey: So I always really loved fairy tales which, in retrospect, I realize probably messed me up a little bit because they’re really messed up. I was really into Edgar Allan Poe, which is again strange, I think now, So stuff like that, I would get a hold of that was a little bit slightly dark but also speculative fiction. I am a huge “Star Trek” fan. I’m a crazy Trekkie and so, you know stuff that was like sci-fi or you know, my brother was really into “Dune” so I read all those books. He read all the Piers Anthony books to me when we were kids and I was like, oh, these are really a misogynistic but cool concept.

Do you remember these book clubs that you could get like 10 books for like 50 cents? Yeah. Just want every week. Right? So my dad was in the fantasy book club, so he would get these fantasy hardbacks like every month and I read so many of them. And he gave me “The Mists of Avalon” when I was probably 12.

I think it was way too young for it. But in that got me really into like Arthurian Legend and stuff because my dad was super into that. So I mean this was like all these weird fantasy influences, you know, like reading “The Hobbit” as a kid and like you remember the cartoons like “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings.” Watching those as a kid was like really formative and all the Jim Henson movies like “The Dark Crystal” and “Labyrinth” and stuff like that. I feel like those were things that I really liked in books as well. But then I also liked a lot of literature too .

I always like Dickens which is strange. It’s probably why I’m like too descriptive a lot of times. And Jane Austen and a lot of literary authors. I really like like F Scott Fitzgerald and stuff. Just anyone who had anything interesting to say about their own time.

“Little Women” was a book that I read over and over again as a kid because I think a lot of the literary heroes when I was a kid were boys. That’s it was really cool for me to read “Little Women” or even “The Chronicles of Narnia” before I realized they were really Jesus-y. I thought that was so cool, that Susan and Lucy were just as awesome as the brothers, you know. We didn’t have nearly as much of that when I was a kid as we do now for sure.

I think all of those things, you know, like sort of the classic kids books. Literary children’s book stuff, but also a lot of fantasy that was maybe a little too old for me at the time. But when I reread it, I finally fully understood it.

Jeff: You were just having that aspirational read kind of thing – reading a little bit above and beyond where you were.

Katey: Yeah, it’s like I tried to read “Game of Thrones.” I still remember when I was like 16 and I put it down because I couldn’t believe it. They had pushed Bran out of the tower like the Jaime Lannister it like and I’m like, oh I can really hurt people. Sorry. I’m just in case that if you have not watched season 1 of “Game of Thrones” if that person still exists now, which they probably don’t but.

Yeah, so like and I was like I can’t I can’t read this book, you know, and then I went back to it in college and I was like, oh actually Jamie’s my favorite character, you know, like was definitely aspirational reading.

Jeff: Now in February, looking out into the future, you’re making your first trip to the Coastal Magic Convention. What got you enthused to go there and what are you looking forward to?

Katey: Beverly Jenkins.

Okay, but also because last time I was at a con with her she ran out of books before me and I didn’t get her autograph because I was like at a table way across the room and I couldn’t run over there in time and I was really sad that I didn’t get her autograph.

But apart from her. I knew people that had gone to it for a few years like Jay from Joyfully Jay had gone and J.A. Rock was there one year and just like different people that I knew, and they just said that it was so chill and like it was great. And honestly, I haven’t been to a beach in forever.

I just thought, man this is such a great idea. I wonder if they’d let me come and there’s so many authors that I like there too. So, I’m always kind of torn between fangirling and like trying to be a professional.

Jeff: It can be so hard sometimes

Katey: it’s so hard for me. But I’m going to try again going to try again.

Yeah, so and I think it’s that combination, that there’s both a lot of authors that I love to read there and I think it just looks like a fun event to go to as an author because it seems very chill and it’s on the beach. Like how can it not be chill.

Jeff: And you’re going to get to leave Ohio in the dead of winter?

Katey: Seriously. Let me tell you. I’m not excited about winter coming. I like fall fine. But as soon as it’s over, Ohio is miserable.

Jeff: Well, we definitely look forward to seeing you at Costal because it is a good time for sure.

We’ve talked a little bit about this as we’ve gone on. What do readers have to look forward to between now and and Coastal to pick up from you?

Katey: Finally, a lot of my new stuff can happen because all the old stuff is finally out there. Between now and February definitely new “Witchy Boys”, and “Witchy Boys” is a thing that I do in October.

It’s usually just like two short stories that I release together. There has been one couple, their name is Zachary and Matt, and they’ve been consistent through all three books. Otherwise, it’s just like cute little stories about boys who are witches and do sexy things. So that will happen.

Then hopefully that book that I talked about in Weston, West Virginia.

Jeff: The contemporary.

Katey: It’s called “The Rise of Virginie,” which is just the name of their band as Virginie. Hopefully that will be ready by December and then I am really, really hoping book nine in “Superpowered Love,” which is currently called “Under Siege,” will happen actually in February and if I can time it right it will happen right before the event so that I can have it when I’m there. So that’s what I’m really hoping for.

Jeff: Perfect. And if somebody’s coming to Coastal and has not read you before, what book of yours would you recommend as kind of the gateway to Katey Hawthorne?

Katey: Gosh. I mean, “Superpowered Love” is like the biggest series and you can start anywhere in there if any of them look good to you. That’s totally fine. I think that one is good starting point. I’ve also heard that book two, “Riot Boys,” is a good starting point because the point of view character does not have superpowers and does not know about them. So you learn about them with him. So that’s “Riot Boys.” But, you know, if you like girls more than boys, “Alchemiya” is pretty cute. It’s that weird historical fantasy Regency one. Or if you like short stories, I mean “Witchy Boys” is really easy to pick up and just read like a couple of short stories and be like, oh hey, here she is.

But also I have a lot of free reads on my website. There’s like one that’s about fairies because I really like people with wings. I think that’s really cool. For some reason again, probably X-Men influence there. So there’s a lot of stuff on there. There’s fairies. There’s some that go with the “Superpowered Love” series there’s some f/f action.

There’s just all kinds of different stuff my free reads page. So if you’re not sure you want to invest that’s a good go to first.

Jeff: And speaking of the website, besides that how else can people keep up with you online?

Katey: I’m kind of a Tumblr addict, which is weird, nobody uses Tumblr anymore I don’t think except me. I love it, all my fandoms are there so I can geek out over “Mass Effect” and “Star Trek” and Tolkien and all that. But also I am on Facebook and am there really regularly and I recently started a Facebook group where I do little videos every week where I either read from a book or talk about like some queer pop culture thing or whatever. But also we’ve talked about music and books and like what we’re reading and stuff like that.

I’m sort of on Twitter, on and off there, and I do have an Instagram. Mostly it’s pictures of my dogs and my cats.

Jeff: Cool. Well, we will link up to all of that, plus everything we’ve talked about in the interview, to the shownotes page so people can easily find all of it. Katey, thank you so much for hanging out and talking to us. Looking very forward to seeing you at the beach in February.

Katey: Yes. I can’t wait. I’m so excited to see you there.

Book Reviews

Here’s the text of this week’s book reviews:

Goalie Interference by Avon Gale & Piper Vaughn. Reviewed by Jeff.
Hockey season is upon us with the regular season kicking off on Wednesday, October 2. It’s the perfect time to read some hockey romance and boy did I find a great one with Goalie Interference by Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn. This is the second book in their Hat Trick series. I reviewed Off the Ice, a scorcher about an NHL player who is taking college classes and falls for his professor back in episode 138. It played on so many awesome tropes. This time out Avon and Piper have cooked up another hot romance with this enemies to friends to lovers story about two goalies in competition for their team’s starting position.

Ryu Mori thought he had the starting goalie position for the Atlanta Venom locked up. He’d had a stellar season after the Venom’s regular goalie got injured. For the upcoming season, he expected to own the spot since the other goalie wasn’t coming back. Management had other ideas though, calling up Emmitt Washington from their AHL affiliate. Emmitt also had an excellent season, including setting a new shutout record for the AHL. The Venom want the best in net and that means Ryu and Emmitt are in competition–a competition that goes well into the regular season as they end up alternating in net. Ryu already didn’t like Emmitt for his Instagram account where he shows off his body and then the new guy arrived with a swagger. When he finds out he’s going to have to share goalie duties… To say Ryu is furious is an understatement.

This is one of the very best enemies to lovers stories I’ve read. The anger that radiates from Ryu is in direct conflict with the cocky, overall nice guy stance of Emmitt. It makes for fantastic banter between the two as Ryu battles to keep his fury somewhat in check while Emmitt wants to play hockey and get along. After all, team comes first–and while Ryu gets that he’s still out to do everything he can to get the job. As the season continues, the guys can’t deny their physical attraction to each other amidst the competition. Fireworks ensure as they get into an I hate you, let’s fuck vibe.

No strings attached doesn’t stay that way for long though. Getting more intimate leads to talking and getting to know each other and well….feelings! Feelings they weren’t looking for.

I love how Avon and Piper infused so much passion between the guys for their game, for their team and ultimately for each other. The journey these guys have personally and professionally are equal parts awesome. I love how they built the dual storylines and how they play off each other. It’s truly mixing professional and personal and all the messiness that can come with that. The timeline was great for this romance too as it spans the long season so there was plenty of time for incredible highs and painful lows too.

Apart of the romance are terrific stories with Ryu and Emmitt’s parents. Ryu’s Japanese-American parents want nothing but perfection from their son and he works so incredibly hard to give them that. It’s a problem for them he doesn’t get the starting position. Meanwhile, Emmitt’s mom supports him one hundred percent, but his football coach dad can’t understand why Emmitt doesn’t just play football. These stories add a rich dimension to Ryu and Emmitt and make the book far more than two guys who fall in love.

Getting Ryu and Emmitt to their happily ever after is romance gold. I got to the point I couldn’t put the book down because I had to know how their season would end and how they’d make the relationship work. Avon and Piper did outstanding work tying it all together with a big shiny bow.

If I’ve got any disappointment it’s that I didn’t wait for the audiobook with Kirt Graves narrating. He did a terrific job with Off the Ice and I’ve heard a sneak preview of his work with Goalie Interference and it’s so good. I won’t be surprised if I end up picking that up to revisit this wonderful romance.

So yes, I very much recommend starting off your hockey season with Goalie Interference by Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn

Face the Music by K.M. Nuehold. Reviewed by Jeff.
I honestly picked Face the Music by K.M. Nuehold because I found it in our Audible Library. The rockstar cover drew me in and I ended up hooked reading the blurb detailing the second-chance romance between a rock star and a doctor who’d been madly in love as teenagers before the musician ran off to become a star… off course the story’s not quite that simple.

Lincoln and Jace met as kids because the cabins they spent their summers in were right next door. They did everything together in those three months and they kept coming back year after year. As teenagers, they discovered there was more than friendship between them. In those teen years, Linc also discovered music and songwriting. Just as they were preparing to move in together, Linc left Jace without a goodbye and went off to pursue his dream. Jace never heard from him and never forgave him.

Ten years later, Linc is a mess–he’s got a history of cutting and suicide attempts and he’s decided to but his band on hold, get out of New York and try to re-find himself over Christmas at his family’s old cabin. Across the country, Jace has been dumped by his girlfriend and he too decides his family cabin would be the perfect holiday getaway. Now after all this time they’re going to have to deal with their pasts.

I love how K.M. structures the story. Using the concept of tracks, song titles and album sides, Side A represents the present and Side B lets us watch Linc and Jace come together the first time. Sometimes flashbacks get in the way, but they are key here to understand why Linc and Jace are where they are in the present–including the impact Linc’s terrible father has on him.

Despite the fact that he left Jace, Linc has never gotten over his first and only love. Once he finds that the love of his life is next door, he wants to make things right. Jace is unsure because of how his heart got smashed. As they attempt to find common ground, recreate some moments from childhood and even do things they’d always talked about but never did when they were together there are some super sweet moments, especially with celebrating Christmas. There’s a bit of great forced proximity too as they spend some time snowed in. Eventually, paparazzi show up and they’ve got to go so it’s off to Jace’s place in Seattle. This gives them time to see what life could be like if they were together.

Thankfully K.M. doesn’t shortchange the serious discussions they need to have. Jace knows about Linc’s cutting and that, along with his attempted suicide, he’s not willing to take Jace back if he’s not going to seek help. As much as Jace loves Linc, he can’t put himself in the position to constantly worry if he’s going to come home to an emergency because Linc isn’t getting treatment. Linc also knows that it’s only a matter of time before the darkness descends even though he’s with Jace. As deep as some of the discussions go, both around Linc’s mental health and their difficult pasts in general, the story never became too much to handle (at least for me, I know these issues may be triggers for others and the book does carry a warning about it). It’s clear how much these two love each other and the fact they have these talks drive the point home.

Even better with all the discussion, is while they may get heated at times, or not reach the resolution Linc or Jace wants, they don’t let the topics sit for very long. They seemed to have learned their lesson from when they were teens and neither creates drama by running away. Yes, there are disagreements and maybe things withheld at times, but those don’t create the drama.

This book had everything I want in a second chance story. Face the Music is book one in the Replay series and I’ve added the others to my TBR. The other books look at what Linc’s bandmates were doing while he was reconciling with Jace and I expect those stories will be equally good.

King Me by Lucy Lennox. Reviewed by Jeff & Will.
Will: This month we followed along with our friends Markie and Jess at the Top to BOTM Podcast. Their bottom pick for September was Lucy Lennox’s King Me and, of course, we love the Wilde books so it was the perfect time for us to read this too.

Jeff: King Me picks up right where Wilde Love left off. Someone has barged into Doc and Grandpa’s wedding weekend to take Kingston Wilde away. His family has no idea that King is a world-renowned art thief, a career he’s been working to end after getting burned by his boyfriend and partner in crime. It’s Dirk Falcon who’s come for King. Falcon’s an agent who let the most notorious art thief getaway (who just happens to be King) and now he needs King’s help to recover a priceless artifact and avert an international incident.

As you can imagine these guys don’t trust each other at all, but off they go around the world with stops in Greece and Hungry. All the great moments of a heist book are here: planning the ops, the distractions, dealing with what goes wrong–because of course things must go wrong at least once. It’s all brilliantly woven together with some incredible plot twists sprinkled in along the way the to keep you guessing just like you want to be.

As usual, Lucy creates great characters. King is unlike any of the Wildes we’ve met so far. He’s got his artistic side, which we’ve seen in others like Felix, but he’s a thief and that doesn’t at all fit the Wilde profile. He’s had an interesting path to the point we meet him in this book too. He’s working to get out of that life but that baggage and history crop up at every turn. In the same way, I wanted Doc and Grandpa’s book, I would love to see King’s past and how he got involved with his original boyfriend, the guy who ultimately became his crime mentor.

Then there’s Falcon. He doesn’t know if he can trust King and yet he has to. It only gets worse for him when he releases he’s falling for King. Falcon’s got to deal with the rest of his team and his bosses and a ton of other things going on with the mission.

Lucy’s does a great job with the heist. It’s a very cinematic read as King, Falcon and the team figure out their plan, work to pull it off and go through all the crazy to get the missing artifact back where it belongs. Lucy doesn’t make it easy for these guys and right down to the very end she kept me guessing exactly how it was going to turn out.

I really love how Lucy explores different sub-genres and tropes with the Wilde books and I can’t wait for the next one. We’ve had a bit of romantic suspense before with His Saint, which used the bodyguard trope beautifully. And now with this terrific heist book, I’d like to see even more in this vein from her.

Will: I really enjoyed this one an awful lot, which surprises nobody. What was really lovely is the way Lucy played with the trust issues. Something that’s usually inherently baked into romantic suspense because there’s action and subterfuge and all that sort of stuff that comes with this particular sub-genre.

I really enjoyed how our two heroes played off one another and constantly kept each other guessing, constantly turning each other on by the slightest little thing. It was all very wonderful and amusing and sexy a lot of fun.

Jeff briefly mentioned Falcon’s team that he assembles in order to undertake this op with King. They’re really interesting, fun well-drawn characters. They’re not just paper dolls that move around the suspense plot. They’re an integral part of the story and they really set up and help our two heroes face the romance that’s blooming between the two of them, inconveniently while their sneaking into houses and trying to steal art and disable security systems and all sorts of crazy high-tech stuff. So, I really, really enjoyed this one an awful lot.

Jeff: I’ll say too on the team. They very much had distinct individual personalities and I can’t remember the kid’s name, but the one who was the nerdy kind of computer operator guy. He had so many little ticks and issues. Not only did I just want to wrap him up in a hug occasionally, but I also really want to see his book. I Don’t know how Lucy pulls that off since he’s not a Wilde and he doesn’t really connect any of the other Wildes, but if you can make it make a series here Lucy, on its own, a spin-off, I would totally be into that.

I also liked how she integrated the other Wildes into this story because you wouldn’t necessarily think that you could do that with the type of story that this is. But in true Lucy form, even once King and Falcon get out of Texas, the other Wildes work their way back into the story and it’s just awesome.

Will: We both really enjoyed Lucy Lennox’s King Me and we highly recommend it. And if you haven’t heard it yet, we hope you check out the September 2019 episode of Top to BOTM to find out what Markie and Jess thought of this story as well.