Heart Knot Mine by Lily Velden
Title ~ Heart Knot Mine
Author ~ Lily Velden
Publisher ~ Dreamspinner Press
Genre ~ M/M Romance
Due for Release ~ 2nd May 2014
Despite a successful college teaching career, Noah Daniels has become depressed. He feels he’s leading a monochromatic life: love has eluded him. When he’s offered a chance to teach in London as part of an exchange program, he accepts, hoping a change of scenery will do him good. But once he’s there, his outlook on love and sexuality changes in ways he never expected.
Robert Callinan is Noah’s English counterpart in the program. The men exchange not only their jobs, but also their homes, and it is what Noah stumbles across while staying at Robert’s house that sends him on a journey of self-discovery—both mentally and physically. A journey that puts color back into his life… just not in the way he expected. When the exchange program ends, Noah has to go home, but he doesn’t know if he wants to return to the life he left behind.
Tina & Macky’s Review
Tina: Macky, we've been following Lily’s writing career for a while now and when she told us about her new novel featuring her new characters Noah and Robert we got pretty excited and we couldn’t wait to get our fingers on it! It got even worse when the excerpt on her blog showed up. Do you remember, Macky? Lily is such a tease!
Macky: Oh yeah Tina, once I read that excerpt on the blog I was itching to get my grabby hands on it! I knew from that teaser I was going to love it and I wasn't disappointed. What about you?
Tina: Same here. I loved Liam and Jaxon in ‘Let The Light In’ and couldn't wait to get to know her new characters. The blurb sounded pretty amazing, too, so when Lily offered to let us read and review the ARC of Heart Knot Mine I was in heaven. Greedy as I am... *blushes* That’s the effect Lily’s books have on me…
Macky: Hi5 Tina, feel exactly the same! I think the thing that pulled me in, was when we first met Noah in the bar at the beginning, he was such a lost soul. Coasting along but missing that spark of 'something' in his life! I loved how he describes his feelings.....
“Me and enthusiasm didn't seem to be on speaking terms anymore.
All the colour had seeped out of my life. I was living a monochromatic,
black and white photograph of a life where
everything was a shade of tedious...."
Tina: Yeah, absolutely. He seems to be so lonely and doesn’t even know what he is missing. Noah discovering his sexuality is very similar to Jaxon’s in ‘Same Page’. Like Jax he has always thought himself as straight but was fully aware that his encounters with women were somehow lacking.
“Once upon a time, I searched energetically for the Elizabeth to my Darcy,
the Juliet to my Romeo, the Jane to my Rochester,
but with each successive disappointment,
my enthusiasm for the task waned.
Now, at the ripe old age of thirty-one,
I couldn’t even be bothered to get naked with them.”
Macky: The job swap with Robert was a really great idea. I was sort of worried that it would make the story feel a bit strange, as I wondered how not being together for so long in the beginning of the story, before they actually meet, would interfere with the romance that was obviously going to happen between them, but once again Lily worked her magic and that part of the story ended up being one of the best parts! Can't give any spoilers away at this point but the way that she 'connects' them at that point and shakes up Noah's "straight" existence is genius!
Tina: Yeah, it was mind-blowing! LOL ? When Noah arrives at Roberts house, there's that really clever twist that helps him discover what he’s been missing all along. Robert, being far away in Noah’s home in Chicago, invades his thoughts and Noah realises that he’ll never be the same again, he’s attracted to men and to one in particular, Robert. That's an awful lot to figure out. Lot's of confusion for poor Noah.
Macky: Then there's the visits to the bathhouse ... My oh my! I learned a lot from those interludes! Little bit more going on in those places than the usual wash and brush up...if you get my drift ?!? Seriously though, it did teach Noah a lot about his sexuality and the physical and mental differences of sex between two guys against the passionless sex he's been having with the females in his life.
Tina: Speaking of bathhouses… *gulps*... :) Robert seems to have no inner barriers to live a life of lust, he avoids responsibilities like the plague. He is openly gay, has accepted and embraced his sexuality but doesn’t believe in love. For him it’s all about sex and satisfying his needs. And he lives like that… has encounters with various men in bathhouses and countless one night stands, when he has an itch, he is used to scratching it.
Macky: Completely the opposite to Noah, who just wants what his brother Mitch and sister in law Miranda have....true love in the sense of the words. He ultimately wants a loving relationship, and if fate allows, children of his own, in fact that's how much he loves his nephews... like they're his own! Which brings us to that side of the story and Noah's relationship with his brother and his twin nephews, Ricky and Jared. They're very close but whilst Robert is over in Chicago it becomes clear that Mitch isn't terribly happy with Robert being gay. There's a few unexpected comments from him that made me worry for Noah and his own realisation that he's actually gay! A moving sub plot that adds to the richness of the story.
Tina: Oh my… it comes to the point that the exchange program ends and Robert comes back to London and they finally meet in person. OMG… and then it gets hot and hotter, the air is on fire and the sexual tension between the two is electrifying, lots of grabbing and smexiness is going on. Lily did an amazing job with the sex scenes, they are hot as hell and left me breathless!
Macky: Ooooh baby, yes they are! Hotter than the fires of Hades and more steamy than the sauna in that bathhouse!!! LOL! I absolutely love how Lily writes her love scenes. The chemistry jumps off the page and her boys just ooze passion! I had to dab my face a few times whilst I was reading them. Noah and Robert are perfect together. When they went on their trip to Europe, I had loads of swoony moments. Now that was pure unadulterated romance...until they get back and it all goes to hell in a handbasket! You could sort of see it coming couldn't you Tina?
Tina: Oh girl… it was too good to be true, right? It takes him a while but finally Robert realises he can’t play his games anymore and regardless of the fact that he never believed in love he suddenly knows that Noah is more than a fling and a willing sex partner. But it seems to be too late, Noah has already gone back to Chicago and has left stubborn Robert behind.
Btw… that parting scene with Higgy, Robert’s cute older neighbour almost broke my heart! When she begs him to stay and not give up on Robert… OMG, that scene was a tear-jerker par excellence!
Macky: Awww yes, Mrs Higginbotham! I adored her, she's one of those supporting characters who you just can't help falling for because she's so lovely and so sweet! I did cry at that point... that scene really got to me too. I wanted to shake Robert so hard because you could see he was wavering but typical bloody stubborn man he just couldn't say the right words! What is it with these guys? Having said that, I do love it when they have to really work for forgiveness... He he!!! I am so evil!
Tina: An Evil Macky? No, I never want to meet her! But back to the book… I guess we shouldn’t go in any more details… but somehow I can’t stop talking about those two gorgeous guys. LOL Okay Tina, pull yourself together!
However, Heart Knot Mine is a heartwarming yet gut-wrenching read that brought tears to my eyes, along with some big smiles. Noah and Robert’s journey to love isn’t easy, there’s so much heartbreak, self-doubt and self-deception going on, more than once I had the urge to smack one Brit’s pretty head damn hard!
I really enjoyed this emotional and passionate story. Noah's struggle with his sexuality is portrayed realistically. Lily has created two vastly different characters and woven their lives and story together seamlessly, they both have their own strengths and weaknesses, but try to find happiness nonetheless.
Macky: Oh there's SO much more to this story than we've touched on, our musings are just the tip of the iceberg, but I know what you mean Tina girl... I could natter on about these two beautiful men all day! I just adored this book. It's sizzilingly sexy, it's romantic, it's poignant and tender... and there's also much more to Noah and Mitch's storyline, that you guys will get to see too! I think Lily has nailed it with Noah and Robert. I'm a massive fan, I love all her books especially her 'Let The Light In ' series and didn't think she could beat Liam and Jax in the sexy romance stakes but I honestly think 'Heart Knot Mine' has just crept into the lead for me! I sat and read the book in more or less one sitting, once I started I couldn't put it down and I felt so sad when I'd finished it, I could have carried on with these guys for a lot longer so I'm praying that somewhere down the line we get to catch up with them both again... I mean lets just put another teaser in there Tina. The ending ( **sigh**) is perfect... But.... there's definitely more to come from this this fantastic group of characters. Pretty please Lily!
Tina: Ditto Macky! Overall, Heart Knot Mine is a sweet, sometimes angsty story of two men who struggle a lot but truly find their place in the world and a great love to complete each other. It has the perfect balance of romance, heartbreak, intrigue and sweaty sex that all us fans of the M/M genre crave. Although Noah and Robert do get their HEA I would love to see more from those two in a future sequel. And doesn’t Noah still have a score to settle with his brother? Just saying… :)
What about we leave now and head off to Sinfully Sexy headquarters? Lily wanted to come over and answer our nosy questions. We need to polish the flutes and chill the bubbly. Maybe we can prise a few top secret infos on a follow up story from her......
Macky: Oops, sorry? .. What was that Tina? I was just daydreaming about that "sweaty sex" LOL! Okay hon, you go sort out the ice bucket, I'll go plump the cushions on the couch and see if Lily's arrived..... LILY!!!!!!!!!!
Macky and Tina Interview Lily Velden
Tina: Hiya, Lily dear. Macky and I are soooo excited to have you with us here on SSBR, sitting on our cosy guest couch, answering our nosy questions while we sip a glass Champagne ... or two *winks*. We can practice for Bristol in June!
Macky: Hey, you two, scooch up and pass me a glass of that bubbly!
Lily: Okay, scooching. See, I scooch so well! Um, can you pass me the bottle, Tina? I have a sneaking suspicion I’m gonna need more than a glass!
Tina: First of all, we both loved loved loved Heart Knot Mine. Those boys were so adorable and hot, we grew fond of them from the very start, even when it took them a while to meet in person. What gave you the idea to develop the plot that way, with the guys swapping jobs, houses, cars… their whole life?
Lily: A movie! The one with Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz in it… ah, let me see… I think it was called The Holiday. I didn’t see the movie until years after its release. One night, my daughter brought it over to watch with me. She knows I enjoy a good romantic comedy, and am a fan of Kate Winslet. And my daughter, well, she just finds it hilarious how caught up in the stories I get! She tells me watching me watch a movie is more entertaining than the movies themselves!
I just loved the premise of the film—the whole swapping lives and taking someone out of their known environment and throwing them into a new situation. I wrote the opening scene the very next morning. Of course, where Noah and Robert had me take the idea was a tad different to that of the movie, LOL.
Macky: OMG! The build up of sexual tension was delicious and we both agree that your love scenes are always sizzling hot, yet so ultra-romantic too. The chemistry is amazing between Noah and Robert. Do you actually write them in one take because they feel so spontaneous?
Lily: Oh God, how to explain. Um, yes and no. Stop laughing, Macky! The answer can be yes and no! I write it in one go, but as I wait for the boys to show me what happens next I may go back and tweak. Add a sentence, remove a sentence, juggle the word order, replace a word… I’m a shocker! A certified tweak freak…
Tina: How do you feel a few days prior the release date? Silly question, right? I would be so
nervous! I wouldn't be able to sleep, eat, talk or even breathe… I’d be a human wreck!
Lily: Okay, Tina, gonna need a top up of the champers here. Revealing of frailties requires liberal amounts of champagne!
I tend to go into worry mode—things like; did the boys and I think of everything? I mean, their story is so clear to me, but did I make it clear to the reader? Did I forget to describe something out of familiarity?
It’s lucky that you can’t make any more changes once your manuscript reaches the galley setting and proofing stage because I think I’d still be tweaking as it was being uploaded to the various retail sites if they’d let me! It’s around this time I start apologizing to the boys… and wondering why they picked me to tell their story!
Macky: When you start a book Lily do you have the beginning, middle and the ending pretty much mapped out before you start or do your gorgeous boys actually take on a life of their own and talk you into changing their story as you're writing it? One of the subplots is quite poignant and both of us agreed, you took it in an unexpected direction. Was it a conscious decision to do that?
Lily: Something will inspire me—just like The Holiday did—and I write one or two scenes. Funnily enough, they won’t necessarily be the opening ones. For Heart Knot Mine it was the opening scene and the final scene. And then I leave it alone and let the character come to life in my head. We get to know each other. We become friends. That can take some time—God, I feel kind of embarrassed admitting this, but as an example, the two scenes I penned of Noah’s story were written in October 2011.
After that, I wrote a scene here and there, every time Noah got insistent, and then, I guess he got a little impatient with me, because it was like he grabbed me by the scruff of the neck, demanding I finish his story! I have to say, Noah is braver than me. It’s one of the things I love about him. I’m a big softie, and in regard to the subplot you mentioned, it was at Noah’s insistence that I wrote it that way.
Tina: Lily… we’re itching to get one question off our chests: Did you ever have the chance to visit a bath house? Only for research purposes of course. *coughs*
Macky: *Nods head vigorously* Oh yes...research...Of Course!!!!
Tina: Macky, girl!!! *winks conspiratorially*
Lily: Um *clears throat and tries again* Um, yes. In Sydney. Last year. I must admit I chickened out a few times - half dialled the number then hung up. Yes, Lily the Brave, was sadly absent for a while there. Then I had a, ‘what the heck, what's the worst they can say moment?’
In the end, the manager from the first club I rang, who happened to be an expat Brit, thought it was great that I wanted to get the details right. I'm still not sure how he deciphered my stammering and stuttering—he must be conversant in gobbled-gook—told me to come the next week. He was kind enough to give me an after-hours guided tour. I wasn’t allowed entry during their operating hours—apparently girly bits prove an inhibitor. Can’t think why…
Anyways, he was most helpful in providing information, showing me, um, photos, and explaining everything. I was beet red the whole time and I think I may have contributed to global warming—well, it is a sauna and bath house, girls. It was hot in there….
Okay, moving right along. With his permission, I loosely based one of the characters on him and used the slogan from the T-shirt he was wearing. After our chat it was, ah, easy to imagine, if you get my drift!
Tina: We’re dying to hear more about the Celtic heart knot that's part of the cover, the title and makes an appearance in the story as well. Can you tell us something about this beautiful Celtic symbol and the reason you chose it?
Lily: Great question, Tina! I think it deserves a top-up of our wine!
*sigh* I’d love to claim ownership, but if I do, Robert will never speak to me again! He chose it. Despite Heart Knot Mine being told solely in Noah’s POV, I chatted almost daily with Robert too. He’s a lot of fun – great Brit sense of humour! A tad on the blue side—he manages to shock Noah and I on a regular basis. *chuckles*
On a serious note, one of his areas of interest is pagan art and it’s also one of mine so we had regular talks about it. I say talks, but Robert lecturing me would be closer to the truth! It was during one such “discussion” that he led me to the heart knot which I wasn’t familiar with. And, as it has a part to play in the story, I have to say he chose well.
Tina: Btw… speaking about the heart knot, the drawing of the Celtic knot on the cover and on our review graphic is an original Lily Velden - thx again for giving us the permission to use it. You told us you love to draw… is it more than a hobby to you?
Lily: Oh definitely more than a hobby. I’m an artist. Even with my writing I’d say I was drawing or painting—only difference is I’m using words as my medium instead of charcoal or paint.
I must admit, though, that writing has taken over my life. I write when I’m waiting at the doctor or dentist’s office. I write as I eat breakfast. And as I eat dinner. I take my USB voice recorder with me when I go for a walk and give myself notes or dictate whole scenes. LOL, no wonder other walkers give me funny looks!
And if I’m not writing, I’m having mental conversations with my characters. But, yes, I love to draw. I also love to sculpt and build things. I have a degree in Fine Arts, which is why I love designing my own covers. I’m rubbish, though, at Photoshop and the like, and so I take my ideas and drawings to Kristy at Design Bug and between us we fine tune them and make them useable!
With Robert’s guidance, I actually made the Celtic heart knot. I’m taking it with me, along with some of the original drawings for the cover, to the UK GLBT Fiction Meet at Bristol in June.
Macky: Just butting in with a completely off the wall question but I heard a little bird talking about some famous Australian choccy biccies and wondered what they were talking about Lily ... It’s very nice having our bubbly but I'm thinking we're missing some nibbles…
Tina: Australian choccy biccies? What yumminess did I miss here? *takes another sip*
Lily: *evil laugh* Ooh, you’re on to me! I’m bringing hundreds, and I do mean hundreds, of Tim Tam biscuits with me to Bristol! I am determined to conquer the UK with our famous Aussie biscuits! I will bring the country to its knees with chocolate! And really, you haven’t lived until you’ve Tim Tam Slammed!
Macky: Mmm mmm, girls I'm liking the sound of those! Okay, no more digressing, back to the book questions!
Tina: When we love a book like yours we are always pestering the author to spill the beans about the possibility of writing a follow-up. Of course we won’t let you go before you’ve assured us we’re going to meet Noah and Robert again. *Tina tries to look intimidating and snatches the champagne flute out of Lily’s hand* Well, Lily?
Lily: *cowering under the brunt of Tina’s stare* Yes! I promise! But, um, we might see them through someone else’s eyes…
I can’t reveal any more without giving too much away, please don’t make me…
Macky: Lily, not only are you a busy, busy author, but now you're venturing into the world of publishing with your own company, Wayward Ink Publishing. Congratulations! What made you decide to go down that route and how did it all come about?
* Whispers to Tina*... now we've got Lily a bit tiddly on the couch, do you think we can prise any 'Top Secret' info on future releases from her ….
Tina: *whispers back* Yeah, we’re pros in prising top secret things out of our victims, so go for it girl!
Macky: * Ahem* Can we top that glass up for you Lily............
Lily: *hiccup* Sure. Hmm, this is nice champagne!
So, Wayward Ink Publishing. Thank you! It certainly is an exciting time as Andrew Q. Gordon, my business partner, and I prepare for our launch. It’s also exhausting, but hey, who needs sleep? It’s overrated… Right?
The short answer as to why I decided to establish WIP, and this is solely on me, as Andrew prefers to remain mysterious LOL, is simply that I wanted more control of my creative output.
Secondly, and more importantly, (and at the risk of sounding like a zealot) I think the world needs to encourage more creativity to offset the violence and destruction plastered all over the news every night. Wayward Ink is our way of encouraging artists and writers by giving them another possible forum for their talent.
Our first release comes out on June 5th, and both Andrew and I are beyond excited about it. It’s called Bollocks, and it’s a tongue-in-cheek anthology celebrating all things British, as the UK GLBT Fiction Meet being held from 6 – 8th June, 2014 at Bristol will be our first ever attendance at a convention of any kind. We’re giving 20% of its sales in the month of June to a GLBT charity so if anyone has a favourite charity they’d like to suggest, drop me a line! We have some terrific writers in the line-up, such as Elin Gregory, Anyta Sunday, H. Lewis-Foster, Tabitha McGowan, L.J. Harris, Taylin Clavelli, E.S. Skipper and, um, yours truly!
Following hot on its heels, on June 20th, is Love, Loss, Laughter, & Lust, and boy, what a great collection of stories are contained within its covers! They will make you turn to mush, have a cry, get hot and bothered, and hopefully, laugh! And once again, such a talented group of writers: my partner in crime, Andrew Q. Gordon, Lily G. Blunt, and Julie Lynn Hayes, to name but three. Excerpts and blurbs can be found on our website.
And then I have my next novel coming out – Echoes of Mercy – and I SO cannot wait to share Jonah’s story. He’s been such a wonderful person to have in my head and he’s been so patient…
Oops, sorry, Ladies, I think my enthusiasm is running away with me! But seriously, come check us out!
Tina: Lily, thx for visiting us here on Sinfully Sexy, sipping a flute of champagne with us (or two) and talking with us. Hugs and kisses and all the best for your new book, sweetie. Hopefully we will see you soon, not only in June in Bristol but here on our cosy blog couch.
Macky: Yeah, you're welcome at SSBR any time Lovely Lily! One thing though.. Next time will you bring some of those Tim Tams so we can do the slam! LOL!
Lily: LOL, Thanks for having me Ladies, and Macky, is it here that I warn you that Tim Tam Slamming is addictive… you can’t stop at one…
Tina: Grrrr… stop talking about those yummy goodies, my stomach is already rumbling. How about we watch that hot video trailer of Heart Knot Mine again?
Excerpt from Chapter One can be found on Lily’s Website
About The Author
Hi, I’m Lily Velden, a quirky artist with a passion for the written word. I write M/M fiction, and, thankfully for me, Dreamspinner Press decided they liked my words enough to publish them!
I admit to being unashamedly idealistic and ridiculously romantic. On my blog, you will find excerpts from both my published stories and those that are Works in Progress.
(Free Reads can be found under the following menus: Free Reads, If You Love Something, and Wednesday Briefs)
Links to where you can purchase my books or read reviews are also provided. I probably won’t be able to resist uploading a pic or two, so be warned! And why not check out some of my artworks while you’re visiting?
I welcome feedback, and am more than happy to answer questions.
Connect with The Author
Lily is giving away two ebook copies of Heart Knot Mine and a gift basket (a pen, vanilla lip balm, and a fridge magnet)… all you need to do id enter the Rafflecopter below.