Friday, June 23, 2017

FIRST LINES FRIDAYS: Obsessed

First lines Friday: On the long drive from Seattle to Palm Springs, I heard Duran Duran's song "Hungry Like the Wolf" on the radio. It reminded me of a lot of things, but most of all, it made me think of my first novel, OBSESSED, published in 1991 by Dell and reissued by Untreed Reads in its current ebook format. These first lines explain why Duran Duran and OBSESSED, a book about a serial killer terrorizing Chicago, mash up:

Joe MacAree had just murdered a woman, and all the things he felt when he killed the other four he was feeling right now. How would he describe it? In his journal, he might call his feelings an “elevation of the senses” or “an ethereal quality bringing the world into sharp focus.”

After each killing the reaction was the same. There was a moment of sharp pain right behind his left eye, an instant where the pain was so intense as to block out the act he had just committed, the blood and the ripped flesh…then a moment where brilliant flecks of silver light swam before him, and he could not keep his eyes from rolling, trying to follow the patterns the stars made.

And then the clarity.

As he guided his light blue Honda Accord along Harlem Avenue just south of Chicago, everything seemed more alive, as if to contrast the death he had just brought about. He noticed things he never noticed: the shifting red, amber, and turquoise of the reflections the stoplights made on the rain-slicked pavement. He noticed how the color spread, muted, over the slick black roadway. Even his radio, usually sounding tinny tuned to WLS, seemed more vibrant. He heard the different instruments in “Hungry Like the Wolf” as if Duran Duran were in the car with him, playing.

BLURB
I kill, therefore I am…

Voices slam through the corridor of his wounded mind. The words of his dead sister cry out. His parents' taunts fill the silent room where he sits and waits--waits for the murderous rage, filling him with strength, driving him to kill, to touch the cold flesh, taste the warm blood--to feel alive again… A witness has seen him, but his killing only turns her on and now she wants to protect him. His wife suspects him, but the private detective she hired cannot stop him. Joe MacAree fears nothing--except that he may no longer be human. The thirst that drives him is relentless, moving deeper and deeper into his own shattering, private realm, where each murder is a delicious new gift of life, where revulsion is beauty, and the obsession will never let him go.

"A harrowing ride through cutting-edge psychological horror, this one's got a vicious bite. Rick R. Reed's Obsessed is a twisted nightmare." - Douglas Clegg, bestselling author

Buy OBSESSED (for only $2.51!) here.

Listen to Duran Duran singing "Hungry Like the Wolf" here.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

My Seat-of-the-Pants Writing Process



Writer friends, does the following resonate? This seemed like such an apt description of my own creative process (from Dennis Lehane's SINCE WE FELL): 

There seemed to be little rhyme or reason as to why one day snatching the correct words from the ether was like opening a faucet and other days it was like opening a vein, but she began to suspect both the good and the bad parts of the process were connected to the fact that she was writing without a map. No plan at all, really. She fell quite naturally, it seemed, into a more free-flowing approach than she ever would have allowed herself as a journalist and gave herself over to something she didn’t quite understand, something that, at the moment, spoke in cadence more than structure.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Writing About Love...and Food


Writing About Love...and Food

Shakespeare said, “If music be the food of love, play on…” I agree with him, except I would paraphrase him “If food be the music of love, cook on…”

People ask why I marry food with love in so many of my stories. One, I believe that food and love, next to air and water, are two very essential things for a happy life. 

Dinner at Jack’s shows how food bridges the gap between love and memory and how providing the care and comfort of good food can solidify a relationship. That’s not just something I believe as a writer, but as a human being.

In the excerpt below, you get a ‘taste’ of the kind of comfort food you’ll find in Dinner at Jack’s and get an insider view into the tenuous relationship between our two lovers, Beau and Jack and how a simple pasta dish begin to forge a spark of recognition and tenderness….


EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT (and a recipe!)
Beau neared the bed. He set the tray down not on Jack’s lap, but next to him.

“I have a feeling you’re going to love this,” Beau said softly, staring into Jack’s eyes.

Jack allowed himself, for only a second or two, to stare back, noticing the rich green of Beau’s eyes, which were the color of moss. He tore his gaze away. Something told him it wasn’t right to stare into another man’s eyes that way. There was something shameful in it.

Instead he looked down at the tray. On it was a white bowl filled with little pillows of pasta he remembered were called gnocchi. They glistened with olive oil, dotted here and there with flakes of red pepper. The tang of the cheese, although barely visible on the pasta, rose up to Jack’s nostrils to remind him it was there. Next to the pasta was a plate upon which was piled a mound of greens, it too glistening with a light dressing. Jack could smell the lemon in it, acidic, tangy, making his mouth water.

He gripped his fists together so tightly he could see his knuckles whiten in his mind’s eye. A sudden urge, powerful, rose up, to push the tray very gently, and while smiling all the while—off the edge of the bed.

No! Why did he want to do such a thing?

He couldn’t bring himself to say anything, especially not anything like “This smells amazing” or “Oh my God, this looks so good.” But he could fight the impulse to fling the food, a gift really, to the floor. Or at least he thought he could….

He looked at Beau, then away quickly, to level a glance at his mother, who was all expectancy and hope. Her hands were clasped together, almost as though she were praying. And maybe she was.
Staring down at the tray at last, he lifted it up and onto his lap. He grabbed the paper towel on its surface and tucked it into his collar. Finally he lifted the bowl up and took in a gnocchi.

The flavors danced, truly danced, on his tongue, an explosion of savory heat. He closed his eyes and reveled in how this simple bite of food transported him, made him one with his body in delight… and again, weirdly, nostalgia. He forced the latter away and continued eating, without realizing right away he was also keeping his eyes closed.

When it dawned on him that he was sitting there, gobbling his food down with his eyes shut, his eyelids snapped up. His mother hovered over him, shifting her weight from one foot to the other. Beau stood in the background, wearing a subtle but visible smile of triumph.

Those two ignited a tiny flame of rage within Jack. He glared at them. “Do you think a guy could eat in privacy?” he asked.

“Of course,” Beau said. He grabbed Maisie’s hand and led her from the room. They closed the door softly behind themselves.

And Jack found himself eating every bite. And wanting more….

Damn Beau!

Jackson’s Spicy Gnocchi
(Serves 4)

You Need:
8 oz. potato gnocchi
¼ cup good olive oil, more or less
3 large garlic cloves, minced
3 anchovy filets
1 t red pepper flakes, more or less
¼ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
¼ cup pasta cooking water
Salt and pepper to taste (seriously—to taste! With the salty anchovies and the red pepper, you may not need either)

To Make:
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add plenty of salt when you first see bubbles appear.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add in olive oil and allow it to get warmed up, a couple of minutes. Throw in your minced garlic and lower the heat. Allow the garlic to simmer and become aromatic, but be careful that it doesn’t begin to brown—you don’t want that bitterness. Add in the anchovy filets and cook for a couple more minutes. You should be able to break up the filets with a wooden spoon, and they should magically vanish into the garlic-flavored oil. Trust me, this will not taste fishy. Throw in your red pepper flakes.
Add gnocchi to boiling water and cook until they rise to the surface of the water. Do not overcook! This will only take a couple of minutes. Remove from water with a strainer and set aside. Reserve ¼ cup of the water you cooked the gnocchi in.
At this point, you can dump the gnocchi in the pan with the seasoned olive oil. Toss pasta to coat with the oil and add your Parmesan. Toss some more, so every gnocchi is coated.
Add in your reserved pasta water a little at a time. You want to loosen up the sauce a bit with this, make it creamier. Your eye will guide you when to stop adding water. You won’t need the whole ¼ cup.
Serve hot.

BLURB
Personal chef Beau St. Clair, recently divorced from his cheating husband, has returned to the small Ohio River town where he grew up to lick his wounds. Jack Rogers lives with his mother Maisie in that same small town, angry at and frightened of the world. Jack has a gap in his memory that hides something he dares not face, and he’s probably suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Maisie, seeking relief from her housebound and often surly son, hires Beau to cook for Jack, hoping the change might help bring Jack, once a handsome and vibrant attorney, back to his former self. But can a new face and comfort food compensate for the terror lurking in Jack’s past?

Slowly, the two men begin a dance of revelation and healing. Food and compassion build a bridge between Beau and Jack, a bridge that might lead to love.

But will Jack’s demons allow it? Jack’s history harbors secrets that could just as easily rip them apart as bring them together.

BUY
eBook
Paperback
Amazon Kindle
Amazon Paperback


Wednesday, June 7, 2017

LOVE: Defined



"Love is a temporary madness, it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides. And when it subsides, you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion, it is not the desire to mate every second minute of the day, it is not lying awake at night imagining that he is kissing every cranny of your body. No, don’t blush, I am telling you some truths. That is just being “in love”, which any fool can do. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident." 

(Louis de Bernières in Corelli’s Mandolin)


Friday, June 2, 2017

NEW RELEASE! FEEL-GOOD TRUE ROMANCE, A Bundle of Four of My Best Gay Romance Titles


Happy to announce my new release!

BLURB
Delve into some of Rick R. Reed’s classic feel-good romances with this bundle. In Chaser, self-proclaimed chubby chaser Caden DeSarro finds in the perfect man in stocky, bearded Kevin Dodge, and a one-night stand leads into the relationship they’ve both dreamed off. But when Caden returns from a business trip to find Kevin with a new body makeover, is this really the same man he fell in love with? In Hungry for Love, Nate Tippie’s curious sister Hannah and kooky best friend Marilyn set up an online profile on a gay dating site, with Nate as the model. When Brandon Wilde falls in love with the man he’s been chatting with, Nate and Brandon just might have a chance at the love they’ve been searching for—if they can find their way out of the mess Hannah and Marilyn have made!

When the state of Washington finally makes gay marriage legal, Duncan Taylor proposes to his boyfriend, and doesn’t get the answer he’d been hoping for, in Legally Wed. Giving up on love, Duncan determines to marry gay-man-loving Marilyn instead, but wedding planner Peter Dalrymple may be just the solution Duncan has been yearning for. And in Dinner at Fiorello’s, Henry Appleby’s family has his life all planned out for him, but he takes a chance at living a bit of his dream with a summer job at Fiorello’s. Vito Carelli, a chef at Fiorello’s, has a tragic past, but when these two cooks collide in the kitchen, they might just find what they need to break free.

BUY:
Dreamspinner Press
Amazon Kindle


Thursday, May 25, 2017

New Submission: SKY FULL OF MYSTERIES

Just submitted my latest novel, SKY FULL OF MYSTERIES (a love story with science-fiction overtones) to Dreamspinner Press. Wish me luck! Here's a little taste from the first chapter:

EXCERPT
If he couldn’t sleep, he might as well take the opportunity to go outside, enjoy the warm breezes and what appeared to be a deserted beachfront.

He dressed quickly and silently—even though he knew he needn’t have bothered since Cole was beyond waking—in a pair of cut-offs and a Dr. Who T-shirt. He slid his feet into flip-flops, grabbed his keys off the dresser, and headed for the front door.

Other than the steady whoosh of traffic on Sheridan Road to the west, the night was quiet. Rory wished he’d checked the time before heading out, but judging from the silence all around him, he’d guess it was the wee small hours of the morning, maybe two or three a.m. This was Chicago, after all, there was usually someone stumbling around, even in blackest night.

But his street was empty. The tree branches and their leaves cast shadows on the silvery pavement beneath his feet because of the moon’s brightness. His footsteps, even in flip-flops, sounded extra-loud as he headed east, toward the beach.

At the end of the street, there was a cul-de-sac where cars could turn around, and beyond this, a set of stone steps that led down to the sand. Rory stood at the top of the steps looking out at the sand and water, the pile of boulders just off-shore, that Cole promised he’d swim out to the next day with Rory. A white lifeguard chair, empty, sat crookedly in the sand, leaning as it sunk to the left. The moon shone brilliantly on the water, laying a swath of golden light upon its gently undulating surface. If Rory looked at this light just right, perhaps squinting a bit behind his glasses, he could almost imagine the light rising up, like an illuminated fountain, from the water’s surface.

He took the steps quickly and was on the sand in seconds. He kicked off his flip-flops and sighed when he felt the cool sand squishing up between his toes. He looked around himself once more, paying particular attention to the concrete that bordered the beach, to assure himself he had the gift of a city beach all to himself.

And he did! He did.

He tore off his shirt, set it down, and then removed his glasses, placing them on top of the T-shirt. With a little cry, he dashed toward the water, a small laugh escaping his lips. He stopped briefly at its edge, gasping at the icy cold of the waves, even this late in the summer, as they ran up to meet him, lapping and biting at his toes. And then he took a deep breath, waded in up to his knees, and paused to consider if he really wanted to go whole hog.

What the hell?

He waded in a little farther, until the bottom dropped out from under him suddenly and instead of the water reaching just to the top of his thighs, hit him just above his belly button. It was freezing! And Rory knew there was only one solution: get full immersion over as quickly as possible.

He raised his hands over his head and dove as a wave rolled in toward him. The world went silent as he went under, the murky depths of the water almost black. He held his breath as long as he could, swimming outward. His mother’s voice erupted in his head, scolding, telling him to go back to shore, because it was late and there was no one around. What if he, God forbid, got a cramp?

Rory shushed his mother and continued to swim toward Michigan or whatever was directly opposite, hundreds of miles away. He swam until he felt his lungs would burst.

And then he surfaced, shaking the water from his hair. The first thing he noticed was how full immersion had done the trick—he wasn’t exactly warm, but the water temperature was at least bearable.

The second was the light on the water. It had changed to a strange pale radiance, a shifting, silvery opalescence that, in addition to his recent underwater swimming, left him nearly breathless.

He trod water and hazarded a glimpse up at the sky, expecting to see the moon and perhaps that bank of clouds that had managed to elude him earlier.

But the moon was gone. Or at least hidden.

Is this real?

Rory couldn’t believe what he was seeing. He actually slipped under for a helpless moment because both his arms and feet stopped moving. He came back up quickly, sputtering and spitting out lake water, gaze fixed on the sky. “What the fuck?” he whispered.

Was what he saw natural? Like, as in a natural phenomenon? What was above him appeared almost like some membrane, formed from gray smoky clouds, but alive. It rose up, mountainous, into the night sky. As he peered closer at the form, it seemed to almost breathe, to expand in and out. And within the gray smoke or fog, figures seemed to be spinning. They were black and amorphous, almost like shadows brought to life. The fact that the cloud—or whatever it was—had an otherworldly silvery light from below didn’t make the figures any more distinctive.

This can’t be real, Rory thought. I’m back at the apartment right now, sound asleep next to Cole. That pizza really did a number on me. Rory knew his notions were simply wishful thinking.

The membrane or cloud or whatever one wanted to call it was as real as the moon had been above him.

The black figures, spinning, began, one-by-one, to drop. They were too far distant for Rory to hear any splashes, but he could plainly see that some of them were disconnecting from the membrane-or-cloud-or-whatever-one-wanted-to-call-it and plopping down onto the placid surface of Lake Michigan.

Because of its immensity, Rory was unable to determine if the thing above him was close by or distant. It could have been hovering directly overhead. Or it may have been as far away as downtown or even the western edge of Indiana. Perhaps it was some industrial disaster thrown up by the city of Gary? Perhaps it was a military experiment, a new kind of aircraft?

And, of course, Rory, ever the science fiction geek, came to the last supposition almost reluctantly, because it terrified him—perhaps it was some sort of alien vessel, a UFO in everyday parlance. The kind of thing Rory had both dreaded and hoped to bear witness to almost all of his young life.
He stared at it in wonder, lost for a moment in time. He hoped that he would gain more clarity on what the thing was, but the longer he stared, the more confusing it became. Was it some freak of nature? Some hitherto unseen cloud formation? Was it really a spaceship beyond his or anyone’s really wildest imagination?

Whatever it was, he was certain it was heating up the water around him, which led him to the conclusion that it must have some powerful energy to heat up a body of water as large as Lake Michigan. What had been cold now felt almost as warm as bathwater.

And that scared Rory just as much as this monstrously huge thing in the sky above him. What if the water continued to heat up? What if it reached some boiling point and he would be poached alive in it?

What if the black, shadowy beings he witnessed spinning within the mist meant him harm as they dropped from the cloud? What if they were, right now, swimming toward him, all bulbous heads and soulless gray eyes?

He shuddered, in spite of the warmth of the water around him. He leveled himself out, lowered his face to the water, and began the fastest crawl he could manage to shore, which suddenly seemed almost impossibly far way.

And a new fear seized him as he paddled, panting, through the dark water—what if something as prosaic as drowning claimed him? Would they ever find him?

What would Cole do when he woke at last, to find himself in bed and alone? What would he do as the sun rose, lighting up their little love nest, and there was no Rory?

Rory didn’t want to see the thing anymore. Just looking at it induced in him a feeling of dread so powerful, it nauseated him. So he kept his face in the water, only turning his head to the side every few strokes, to grab a breath of air, until he neared the shore. He squatted low, panting hard, in the shallows and at last hazarded a glance up at the sky.

It was empty.

Save for a muted orange glow from light pollution and the moon, now distant, there was nothing in the sky. Rory crawled from the water and plopped down on the damp sand at the lake’s edge.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

My Brokeback Mountainish Story with Vivien Dean: FAMILY OBLIGATIONS


I have long been haunted by one short story, E. Annie Proulx’s beautiful, powerful, and tragic “Brokeback Mountain.”

I remember reading the short story many years ago just after it was published originally in the New Yorker magazine. It stayed with me through all the years, partly because Proulx’s prose is so spare, yet poetic, but also because the story, at its core, could have been mine, since I too was a closeted, married gay man, filled with secret longings and wearing a mask for the rest of the world.
My story (co-written with the fabulous Vivien Dean), “Family Obligations” has a lot in common with ‘Brokeback,’ even though it’s totally different.

It too tells a story about two men who fell in love while young and vibrant, and then, because of their own and society’s constraints, were kept apart through the years. Yet, their love was so strong that they could never manage to break the hold they had upon each other.  

BLURB
Tate D’Angelo always thought he knew who his father was: beloved doctor, devoted husband and father…. Everyone at the funeral shared the same glowing stories of a kind soul. So when his father’s old college buddy, Randy, approaches him after the service, Tate expects to hear echoes of the same.

Instead, he gets a lifetime’s worth of letters that tell a different tale and cause him to view his father—and his family—in a whole new light.

The truth, about a secret romance kept buried for decades, astonishes him. Overwhelmed by grief and confusion, Tate’s unsure if he can bear learning how the lives of two men entwined over the years, but he reads on anyway, discovering more to value, more to respect, and most importantly, more to love about the man who raised him. 

BUY

EXCERPT
It wasn’t until three days after the funeral that Tate thought again of the strange encounter with his father’s old friend outside the funeral home.
The past few days, what with the funeral and keeping his mom company and taking care of his own family obligations, had left Tate drained. He had fallen into bed each night exhausted—and quick, heavy, and dreamless sleep followed.
But today was Friday, and Kelly had taken Claire out to a park in Coconut Grove for a play date. Tate had the house to himself and wouldn’t have to return to his veterinary practice until Monday.
He sat down at the iMac they had set up in the study and plugged in the thumb drive Randy had given him at the close of his dad’s viewing hours the other night.
A PDF came up, and the computer asked if he wanted to open it. “I want to open it, of course. Come on!” he whispered to the computer. He chuckled. He’d inherited his great well of patience from his dad.
There was no explanation, no preface.
There was simply the first letter. The handwriting was his dad’s. Even if the penmanship had gotten sloppier over the years, his backward-slanting script was still recognizable.
Tate wasn’t sure what to expect—or why this man Randy had chosen to share such personal items with him. He figured there was only one way to find out.
He began reading.

June 5, 1973
Dear Randy,
Well, kid, it’s been three days, fifteen hours, and twenty-seven minutes since we graduated and I last saw you. But who’s counting?
I don’t know how often I’ll be able to write, what with starting medical school and planning for my wedding. But I wanted you to know that I was thinking of you and, oh hell, how very much I miss you.
I know this is hard. I know you wanted something else. But it just can’t be. The world doesn’t look kindly on two men as a couple, especially if one of them plans on being a pediatrician. And besides, as I’ve told you, I love Sharon in my way. She’s a great girl, and I know she’s crazy about me. We have a good relationship, and I can foresee a great future with her.
Oh shit, who am I trying to kid? She’s a wonderful woman and I do love her, with all my heart. But I love you, Randy, more. And… she can never know this. It would break her heart. It would break mine.
But I still ache when I think of leaving you just as dawn was breaking the other morning, looking up at you standing in the window of your apartment, watching me, your hand pressed against the glass.
I wanted so much to turn around, to just say “fuck it all” to a world that disapproves of something as pure and honest and passionate as what we shared. I wanted to run back up the stairs and into your arms, to cover you with kisses, and take you back to bed—one more time.
Could you see that on my face? Could you see the longing and the pain?
I don’t know what will happen with us, I only know I hope to hear from you sometimes. I can’t, much as my head tells me to, just sever all ties with you. It’s a dangerous game, but a world without you in it, in at least some small way, is a world I can’t bear living in.
My heart won’t let me say good-bye, not completely.
I know that’s not fair to you, but I also know a handsome guy like you, with such talented hands, will not be alone for long. You too will find a nice girl and settle down, have kids, just like I plan to do.
And who knows? Maybe there will come a time when we can all get together with our families. Maybe, after a while, these desires we have for each other will be replaced by friendship and respect, edged out by the love we have for our wives.
I hope so. But today I am missing you and wishing, so hard, you were here in Miami with me.
I start my summer job waiting tables at a little seafood place on the beach tomorrow—and med school awaits at the University of Miami in the fall.
Take care of yourself, Randy, and please, no matter what, don’t forget what we shared. I know I won’t.
Much love,
Mark

Tate sat back in the desk chair, feeling as though his breath had been knocked out of him. His heart hammered in his chest, and his hand, poised over the mouse, was shaking.
His father was gay? Where did that come from? He loved another man? This Randy? Was this some kind of joke? He peered again at the scanned handwriting on the screen and knew it was his father’s own. And he recalled Randy’s face outside the funeral home. Even in the shadows, Tate could see the naked pain on his face.
Tate laid his head on the desk, and the tears, hot and stinging, came from nowhere. Had his father’s whole life been a lie? Had he loved them at all? Or were they just a convenient cover-up, the “proper” thing to do?
“Kelly, Kelly, why aren’t you home?” he whimpered.
After a while he read on.

BUY

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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Guest Post: Why I Wrote THE NICKY AND NOAH MYSTERIES by Joe Cosentino


Book Four Now Available: Drama Luau by Joe Cosentino

They call it paradise for a reason. Maui is the most beautiful place on Earth. A few years ago I talked my spouse into taking the thirteen-hour plane ride to a land laden with white sandy beaches, tall and majestic waterfalls, multicolored craters on mosaic mountaintops, palm trees waving in the soft breeze, and laid back and friendly Hawaiians. We marveled at the hidden beaches, took the white-knuckle drive to the gorgeous Seven Sacred Pools, gasped at the sunrise at Haleakala, swam in the clear turquoise water, and flew through the crystal blue sky while parasailing. On our last night in Maui, we went to a luau complete with the boat procession, pig roast, huge and sumptuous buffet of Hawaiian foods, and the hula dancer show. The dancers were amazing! Incredibly muscular Hawaiian men wearing grass skirts, leis, flower headdresses, anklets, and bracelets, gestured with their arms, waved their knees, stomped, and grunted on an outdoor stage masked by a dormant volcano.

So when it came time for Nicky and Noah to go on their honeymoon in the fourth novel in my popular Nicky and Noah mystery series, I knew they had to go to Maui. It was great fun including all the things my spouse and I did on our trip into this fast-paced, humorous, spine-tingling mystery with a very shocking ending. Nicky and Noah have the time of their lives solving this one, and also find their relationship in for quite a change.

For those of you who haven’t read the first three novels in the Nicky and Noah mystery series (and you should!), it is a gay cozy mystery comedy series, meaning the setting is warm and cozy, the clues and murders (and laughs) come fast and furious, and there are enough plot twists and turns and a surprise ending to keep the pages turning. At the center is a touching gay romance between Associate Professor of Directing Nicky Abbondanza and Assistant Professor of Acting Noah Oliver. As Nicky and Noah fall in love, I’ve heard the readers fall in love with them too. In Drama Queen (Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Award for Favorite LGBT Mystery, Humorous, and Contemporary Novel of 2015) college theatre professors are dropping like stage curtains at Treemeadow College, and amateur sleuths/college theatre professors Nicky and Noah have to use their theatre skills, including impersonating other people, to figure out whodunit.

Reviewers called Drama Queen hysterically funny farce, Murder She Wrote meets Hart to Hart meets The Hardy Boys, and a captivating whodunit. Who am I to argue? One reviewer wrote Drama Queen was the funniest books she’d ever read! In Drama Muscle (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention 2016) Nicky and Noah don their gay Holmes and Watson personas again to find out why bodybuilding students and professors at Treemeadow are dropping faster than barbells. Also, Nicky and Noah’s relationship reaches a milestone by the end of the novel. In Drama Cruise it is summer on a ten-day cruise from San Francisco to Alaska and back (which my spouse and I also did). Nicky and Noah must figure out why college theatre professors are dropping like life rafts as Nicky directs a murder mystery dinner theatre show onboard ship starring Noah and other college theatre professors from across the US. Complicating matters are their both sets of wacky parents who want to embark on all the activities on and off the boat with the handsome couple.

Now in Drama Luau, Nicky is directing the luau show at the Maui Mist Resort and he and Noah need to figure out why muscular Hawaiian hula dancers are dropping like grass skirts. Their department head and his husband, Martin and Ruben, are along for the bumpy tropical ride. In addition to the sexy hula dancers, we meet a handsome Hawaiian detective, a Bloody Mary type housekeeper, a cigar chomping hotel manager, the hotel owner and his senator wife who give new meaning to the term family values, and a cute young waiter who wants to be a hula dancer more than an anti-gay politician wants a dark backroom in a gay bar.

And watch for Drama Detective, book five, releasing in six months!

It is my joy and pleasure to share these stories with you. So grab your plate at the buffet table, and take your front row seat for the luau show. The grass curtain is going up on Drama Luau!

DRAMA LUAU (a Nicky and Noah mystery)a comedy/mystery/romance novel by JOE COSENTINO


BUY
http://myBook.to/DramaLuau
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/711186
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/drama-luau-joe-cosentino/1125994872?ean=2940154062050


BLURB
Theater professors and spouses, Nicky Abbondanza and Noah Oliver, are on their honeymoon at a Hawaiian resort, where musclemen in grass skirts are keeling over like waterfalls. Things erupt faster than a volcano when Nicky and Noah, along with their best friends Martin and Ruben, try to stage a luau show. Nicky and Noah will need to use their drama skills to figure out who is bringing the grass curtain down on male hula dancers—before things go coconuts for the handsome couple. You will be applauding and shouting Bravo for Joe Cosentino’s fast-paced, side-splittingly funny, edge-of-your-seat entertaining fourth novel in this delightful series. Curtain up and aloha!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bestselling author Joe Cosentino was voted Favorite Mystery, Humorous, and Contemporary Author of 2015 by the readers of Divine Magazine for Drama Queen. He also wrote the other novels in the Nicky and Noah mystery series: Drama Muscle (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention) and Drama Cruise (Lethe Press), Drama Luau; In My Heart/An Infatuation & A Shooting Star (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention), A Home for the Holidays, The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland (Dreamspinner Press); Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back (TBR Pile Book of the Month/Rainbow Award Honorable Mention), Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward, Cozzi Cove: Stepping Out, Cozzi Cove: New Beginnings Cozzi Cove series (NineStar Press); Paper Doll, Porcelain Doll, Satin Doll, China Doll, Rag Doll (The Wild Rose Press) Jana Lane mysteries; and The Nutcracker and the Mouse King (Eldridge Plays and Musicals). He has appeared in principal acting roles in film, television, and theatre, opposite stars such as Bruce Willis, Rosie O’Donnell, Nathan Lane, Holland Taylor, and Jason Robards. His one-act plays, Infatuation and Neighbor, were performed in New York City. He wrote The Perils of Pauline educational film (Prentice Hall Publishers). Joe is currently Head of the Department/Professor at a college in upstate New York, and is happily married. Joe was voted 2nd Place for Best MM Author of the Year in Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Awards for 2015! Coming next: Drama Detective, the fifth Nicky and Noah mystery.

Web site: http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/JoeCosentinoauthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/JoeCosen
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4071647.Joe_Cosentino
Amazon: Author.to/JoeCosentino

Excerpt of Drama Luau, Nicky and Noah mystery, by Joe Cosentino
The olive-skinned, barefooted muscular men wore loincloths (malo), coconut necklaces, shell bracelets and anklets, and flower (lei) head garlands. With the powerful emerald mountain behind them, the dancers (‘olapa) aerobically executed hand signs, knee sways, and foot stomps toward the turquoise sea (makai), as their deep, full voices chanted to the goddess of the ocean (Namakaokahai). The lead dancer (alakai) and the dance captain (kumu) moved front and center executing their tree in the breeze hand gestures. The dancer helper (kokua) made gestures to the ocean waves behind them.

“Stop!”

The ‘ukulele, steel guitar, and bass accompaniment ended. The dancers slouched and looked toward the rows of tables and chairs facing them.

“Kimu, stand further upstage.”

“Nicky, they don’t know what upstage and downstage mean.”

“Thanks, Noah. Kimu, stand behind the other dancers, so Kal and Ak are the focus of the dance.”

That was me, Nicky Abbondanza, Associate Professor of Directing at Treemeadow College, an Edwardian style private college in the quaint state of Vermont. My husband and the love of my life, Assistant Professor of Acting at Treemeadow, Noah Oliver, is by my side, right where I like him.

Why am I directing a luau show at the Maui Mist Resort in Hawaii? Our honeymoon in Maui was a gift from our parents. But when the customers of my parents’ bakery in Kansas became glucose intolerant, and the clientele of Noah’s parents’ dairy farm in Wisconsin found themselves lactose intolerant, Noah and I were left tolerating the bill. So my department head and his husband hit the internet and found this luau show directing job, which came with free airfare, hotel, and food for two. Enticed by the gorgeous tropical location and the gorgeous luau dancers, Martin Anderson, Professor of Theatre Management at Treemeadow College, and Ruben Markinson, director of one of the top gay rights organizations in the country, decided to tag along and keep us out of trouble. Since Martin and Ruben are our best friends, that was more than fine with Noah and me.

Since you can’t see us, I am thirty-six, tall, with dark hair, green eyes, a Roman nose, cleft chin and long sideburns. Thanks to the gym at Treemeadow College (named after Tree and Meadow, the gay couple who founded it), I am pretty muscular. One minor thing. Actually, it’s pretty major. I have a nine and-a-quarter by two-inch penis, which causes Noah to tell everyone we are “going clubbing” when we have sex.

Noah is handsome with wavy blond hair, crystal-blue eyes, porcelain skin, and hotter and sweeter buns than any found in my dad’s bakery. Martin is short, thin, and bald. As an incredible gossip, he resembles an alien looking for a good piece of news to bring back to his home planet. Ruben is tall, thin, distinguished-looking, with salt and pepper hair and two large eyes watching over Martin. Though Ruben would never admit it, like his husband, Ruben revels in the dish too.

I said to the dancers, “The opening (ho’i) number will be fine. Let’s move on.”

Whereas the first dance was an introduction to the dancers, the second number, in honor of the creation gods (Kane and Lono), is a sensual dance, where the muscular dancers get to flex, grunt, and gyrate.

Sitting next to me at the front table opposite the stage, Noah rested a hand on my knee. “Did my character work with the dancers pay off?”

I nodded. “They all seem like characters to me.”

Noah squeezed my hand as the five dancers came on stage, now wearing grass skirts. Kal (short for Kalani), at twenty-five, is tall, strikingly handsome, muscular, the leader of the pack, and he knows it. Ak (Akamu), at thirty-five, was once the stallion of the troupe, but a receded hairline and wrinkles had transformed Ak to dance captain. As leaders, Kal and Ak take focus in the dance numbers, either dancing downstage center or up center on the platform in the shape of a volcano. Pretty ironic since Kal and Ak are ex-lovers and ex-friends.

Current lovers Keanu (dancer helper), at medium height with a growing paunch, and Ahe, young, small, and cute as a button, took their places midstage and looked at each other adoringly.

Finally, Kimu, at medium height with a bull dog face and protruding belly, stood farthest upstage. The only straight member of the troupe, Kimu, said, “Are you girls ready to dance?”

Keanu left his lover, Ahe, and approached Kimu. “What a surprise, Kimu. Liquor on your breath.”

Leader Kal added, “Yeah, Kimu, during the last number you were wavering more than the palm trees near the stage fan.”

Kimu answered, "Hey Kal, is it true that you gave Keanu a pity lei?"

These guys are worse than the divas I work with in the theatre. “Can we please start the number?”


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

THE PERILS OF INTIMACY is getting rave reviews!


So happy to see the very positive reviews my tale of love's triumph over addiction, THE PERILS OF INTIMACY, is getting!

“This story had me hooked from the moment I started reading…and that ending was the perfect touch…
Dog-Eared Daydreams 
***
“This story was truly everything I was hoping it would be. I was already a fan of Rick R. Reed’s books, but this one might just be my favourite so far.”
Love Bytes Reviews
***
“This book is about love, hope, second chances, and the reality of many gay men. It lets the reader into a very real world, with detailed descriptions of drug usage and recovery–of pain, wishes, mistakes, and transformations.  It might not be everyone’s perfect love story, but it is perfect for Marc and Jimmy. It’s their journey for us to learn and for them to tell.”
Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Reviews
***
“I highly recommend this one to those who love a gritty, emotional M/M romance. And if you like the works of Stephen King, you will likely appreciate that extra little touch this author, who I happen to know admires Mr. King, offers at the end of this story.”
Hearts on Fire Reviews
***

BLURB
Jimmy and Mark make an adorable couple. Jimmy’s kindness and clean-cut cuteness radiate out of him like light. Mark, although a bit older, complements Jimmy with his humor and his openness to love.

But between them, a dark secret lurks, one with the power to destroy.

See, when Mark believes he’s meeting Jimmy for the first time in the diner where he works, he’s wrong.

Mark has no recollection of their original encounter because the wholesome Jimmy of today couldn’t be more different than he was two years ago. Back then, Jimmy sported multiple piercings, long bleached dreadlocks, and facial hair. He was painfully skinny—and a meth addict. The drug transformed him into a different person—a lying, conniving thief who robbed Mark blind during their one-night stand.

Mark doesn’t associate the memory of a hookup gone horribly wrong with this fresh-faced, smiling twentysomething… but Jimmy knows. As they begin a dance of love and attraction, will Jimmy be brave enough to reveal the truth? And if he does, will Mark be able to forgive him? Can he see Jimmy for the man he is now and not the addict he was? The answers will depend on whether true love holds enough light to shine through the darkness of past mistakes.

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