DAY FOUR: Today the lovely Marie Sexton has popped into to talk about her collaboration with L.A. Witt and Heidi Cullinan on the Tucker Springs Series. Plus you can check out our Mark’s review of Never a Hero, one of his personal all time favourites!
All this week we are hosting the Take it Back to the Beginning, Where Nerves End Blog Tour featuring the re-release and publication by Riptide Publishing of the first book in the series Where Nerves End. Re-visiting our reviews and bringing you guest posts from these fabulous authors. You will probably have noticed that L.A. Witt, Heidi Cullinan and Marie Sexton are huge favourites of ours here at SSBR, so combine that with a series they have all collaborated on and you’ll find we have all read and loved the men of Tucker Springs over the last couple of years.
To keep up to date with the weeks posts and reviews, Click ~> HERE
A Word from Marie Sexton
Welcome to the Riptide Publishing/L. A. Witt blog tour for Where Nerves End! This is the the first -- and final -- book in Tucker Springs, a series written with Marie Sexton and Heidi Cullinan. Thank you to Sinfully Sexy Book Reviews for hosting the tour all this week.
A couple of years ago, I attended a seminar by a Harlequin author. I don't remember exactly what her presentation was about, but she talked in passing about having written for Harlequin, in a series where five authors each wrote a stand-alone novel set in the same town. I thought it sounded like a great idea. A couple of weeks later, Lori and I were having an online brainstorming session, and I think I said, "You know what we could do?" And Lori immediately said, "Yes! Let's do it!"
It was that easy and that spontaneous. Now, unlike that particular Harlequin author, we didn't have anybody handing us a bible with all the details of the setting laid out for us. We had to sort that out ourselves. Some of it we did while Lori was visiting me one weekend (which is partly why Tucker Springs is a lot like my home town of Fort Collins). The rest we hashed out as we went. It wasn't a perfect situation, but for the most part, I think we did okay.
One of the greatest things about Tucker Springs was working with other authors' characters. It's nice being able to call on each other and say, "Who do you have that might fill this particular role?" El and Denver obviously had great (non-sexual) chemistry. Later, when I was writing Never a Hero, I said to Lori, "I need somebody to befriend Owen. Preferably somebody single. Who do you have?" She offered up Nathan (knowing he was on her list of characters who would eventually get their own book), and I ran with it, sending her Nathan's scenes as I finished them. I was worried I'd developed him in a way she wouldn't like, but upon reading it, she basically said, "He's perfect. I can work with that." Several months later, when she was writing After the Fall, I said to her, "Don't forget, Nathan and Owen are good friends now," and a minute later she replied, "That's right! That just solved the plot problem I was having!"
Overall, Tucker Springs was a lot of fun. I think my favorite part of the series was having a reader contact me because he was planning a trip to Colorado and wanted to stay in Tucker Springs. He was awfully disappointed to learn that it was entirely a work of fiction. I felt bad for him, but I'm glad that together, Lori, Heidi, and I were able to create a setting so wonderful that people would plan trips just to visit it.
Never A Hero by Marie Sexton
Title ~ Never a Hero
Author ~ Marie Sexton
Genre ~ M/M Romance
Publisher ~ Riptide Publishing
Released ~ 13th May 2013
Everyone deserves a hero.
Owen Meade is desperately in need of a hero. Raised by a mother who made him ashamed of his stutter, his sexual orientation, and his congenitally amputated arm, Owen lives like a hermit in his Tucker Springs apartment. But then hunky veterinarian Nick Reynolds moves in downstairs.
Nick is sexy and confident, and makes Owen comfortable with himself in a way nobody ever has. He also introduces Owen to his firecracker of a little sister, who was born with a similar congenital amputation but never let it stand in her way. When she signs the two of them up for piano lessons—and insists that they play together in a recital—Owen can’t find a way to say no. Especially since it gives him a good excuse to spend more time with Nick.
Owen knows he’s falling hard for his neighbor, but every time he gets close, Nick inexplicably pulls away. Battling his mother’s scorn and Nick’s secrets, Owen soon realizes that instead of waiting for a hero, it’s time to be one—for himself and for Nick.(
Again, Marie Sexton reduces me to an emotional wreck by wrenching my heart out and then sending it soaring with joy at the end.
Maybe I'm just a sucker for the stories about the socially inept cases finding their dream, but the insight and empathy that Marie Sexton brings to her writing is second to none.
Owen is a recluse, socially awkward, has an amputated arm from an amniotic band at birth and stutters. I mean, what more could go wrong with the poor guy? oh yes, a mother from hell and the stuff nightmares are made of! He has problems coping with people's reactions to his arm which makes him feel uncomfortable in company, not knowing how to deal with it. Has never come to terms with his disability.
"And that’s what it was—a stump. Some people preferred the term “residual limb,” but to me, that didn’t do it justice. It was like changing the diagnosis of “shell shock” to “post-traumatic stress disorder.” As if adding more syllables to it could alter the truth of the situation. As if having a longer phrase could make my arm longer too."
Living alone in his flat his new neighbour moves in after the previous moved out leaving the piano behind. Owen used to lay in his flat listening to the music the old neighbour would play. It used to comfort him in a way. In the first chapter we already get a feeling for Owen. Lost and unloved, but a gentle soul with a heart, I just wanted to cuddle him immediately. We get a hint that his mother is a part of his problem, how big a part we learn later.
After about three weeks Owen gets a new neighbour. Nick is about as opposite as you can get to Owen. Confident, charismatic, sexy, natural, basically everything that Owen is not. Nick treats him and his disability as if it weren't there to begin with, but Owen soon learns that Nick has a sister with the same syndrome, but the other arm. This makes Owen feel immediately a little more at ease. Owen meets Nick's sister June and also finds out that although she has the same disability she again is the total opposite to him.
"It was unnerving how much my life seemed to mirror June’s, and yet in every case, I had the dark, scary, nightmare version."
Then June has the idea to have piano lessons with Owen. Together they could play duets and make music. Nick starts to try and take Owen out and feels very comfortable with him, although in public Owen is still awkward. Everything now seems to be moving ahead for Owen, new friends, gaining more confidence everyday, he falls for Nick big style. Well, who couldn't. Nick made all of Owens insecurities go away.
"Standing there in his arms, I felt good. I relaxed against him, and he continued to hold me. He ran his hands up and down my back. He rocked me a little, almost as if we were dancing. I felt at peace. I felt whole and healthy and right."
However, Nick is not all that he seems and first appears to be. Hiding something and playing emotional tug-o-war with Owen. He keeps pulling back from him. After a wonderful Halloween night they go back to Owens place and Nick drops his bomb shell of a revelation on Owen. At this point I lost the plot! My red wine and chocolate consumption shot through the roof. Sat on the sofa up to my neck in used tissues. I was a wreck. Drained!
Just when you think that Owen has a future someone he can depend on and love, the world is shattered once again. However, due to June, Nick's family and a good friend Nathan, Owen gets his head straight and fights for Nick. Nick has got as big a problem as Owen and he is not going to let this get between what they had felt for each other. There is fault on both sides, but this time the tables turn and it's Owen showing Nick the way!
"You’ve wallowed in the guilt long enough. Yes, you made a mistake. But that doesn’t mean you have to punish yourself for the rest of your life. You deserve to be loved. And to be happy.” I kissed his forehead. “We both do"
Nicks parents are everything that Owens aren't as well. Again we see how much family can really effect their children and their confidence in later life. Nick's parents come to visit for Thanksgiving and I could feel the warmth and love these guys had for their children. It was pure and unconditional. Owen felt this too and revelled in it. When Owens parents came we get a completely different picture. His mother; domineering, overbearing, always complaining and worst of all blaming Owen for everything. Yes, I felt aggressive, protective and wanted to smack the woman for Owen.
Owen realises that if he is ever to be happy he first has to stand up to his mother. That he does and sends her packing.
"Not anymore. It was over. Never again would I question myself because of her. I was free."
Then it's time to really get things sorted with Nick. With his new found confidence he wins Nick back for good.
"I’m glad I’m here too. You’re beautiful. Let’s both stop being so lonely."
And that for me was what this book was really about. Not being lonely.
WOW - to be honest I can't really put into words how this story got to me. Marie Sexton's writing for me is so full of feeling and empathy for her characters that you connect with their desperate situations immediately. Feeling their hopelessness, sense of insecurity, their fears and angst, but also their joys and triumphs. Marie has the most incredible insight into social situations, behaviour and interaction, I keep asking myself whether she has ever experienced anything like this personally. To be able to write about these things with such a depth of perception and intuition bringing these feelings into words is a truly incredible thing. The plot in this story I found to be so well balanced, going from constant highs and lows, but not just an erratic roller-coaster of emotion. She takes you on a journey of Owen and Nick becoming constantly stronger, dealing with their problems and realising that together, they are strong and everything will be just fine.
"A warmth that filled me from the inside out. It was believing I was normal, and knowing I was desired. It was the newfound hope that my life really could be more. But more than anything, it was about trusting him. About feeling safe and cherished and utterly at peace with the man who had so readily become my hero"
The very first book that I ever read in the m/m genre was a book by Marie Sexton. Until this point I had really turned my nose up and had been very sceptical about such books, until one day I thought let's give it a go. I read Between Sinners and Saints and was blown away. That was it! Converted. Hooked and have never looked back. I have now read a lot and often think if I had maybe read something else the effect wouldn't have been quite the same. I'm so grateful that by pure chance I managed to pick a book by one of most talented writers of this genre. There are still a lot more books from Marie that I wish to read, but I'll get there eventually.
As for this book, all I can personally say is "read it and weep" but take heart for a great end that will send your heart soaring.
TINA ~ 5 STARS, MACKY ~ 5 STARS
The Tucker Springs Universe
Welcome to Tucker Springs, population 75,000 + you! This collaborative story world is brought to you by three award-winning LGBTQ authors: Heidi Cullinan, Marie Sexton, and L.A. Witt.
The fictional town of Tucker Springs is located on the western slope of Colorado, in between Grand Junction and Silverton. One of the themes of Tucker Springs is that what you see is not what you get. Take, for example, the “springs.” Although many neighboring towns have actual hot springs, the spring here is more of a bubbling mud puddle. Locals like to trick newbies by sending them in search of it.
The Tucker Springs stories are a series of loosely-connected, standalone novels. Most of them take place in the Light District, a.k.a. Hacktown, a district known for its theaters, galleries, intimate nightspots, and music.
Series Reading Order
About Marie Sexton
Marie Sexton lives in Colorado. She’s a fan of just about anything that involves muscular young men piling on top of each other. In particular, she loves the Denver Broncos and enjoys going to the games with her husband. Her imaginary friends often tag along. Marie has one daughter, two cats, and one dog, all of whom seem bent on destroying what remains of her sanity. She loves them anyway.
About L.A. Witt
L.A. Witt is an abnormal M/M romance writer currently living in the glamorous and ultra-futuristic metropolis of Omaha, Nebraska, with her husband, two cats, and a disembodied penguin brain that communicates with her telepathically. In addition to writing smut and disturbing the locals, L.A. is said to be working with the US government to perfect a genetic modification that will allow humans to survive indefinitely on Corn Pops and beef jerky. This is all a cover, though, as her primary leisure activity is hunting down her arch nemesis, erotica author Lauren Gallagher, who is also said to be lurking somewhere in Omaha.
About Heidi Cullinan
Heidi Cullinan has always loved a good love story, provided it has a happy ending. She enjoys writing across many genres but loves above all to write happy, romantic endings for LGBT characters because there just aren't enough of those stories out there. When Heidi isn't writing, she enjoys cooking, reading, knitting, listening to music, and watching television with her husband and ten-year-old daughter. Heidi is a vocal advocate for LGBT rights and is proud to be from the first midwestern state with full marriage equality.
Find out more about Heidi, including her social networks, at www.heidicullinan.com.
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