Title ~ The Mating of Michael (Sex in Seattle #3)
Author ~ Eli Easton
Publisher ~ Dreamspinner Press
Published ~ 30th June 2014
Genre ~ M/M Romance
Note: This can also be read as a stand-alone title.
Everyone admires Michael Lamont for being a nurse, but his part-time work as a gay sex surrogate not only raises eyebrows, it's cost him relationships. Michael is small, beautiful, and dedicated to working with people who need him. But what he really wants is a love of his own. He spends most of his spare time reading science fiction, especially books written by his favorite author and long-time crush, the mysteriously reclusive J.C. Guise.
James Gallway’s life is slowly but inexorably sliding downhill. He wrote a best-selling science fiction novel at the tender age of eighteen, while bedridden with complications of polio. But by twenty-eight, he's lost his inspiration and his will to live. His sales from his J.C. Guise books have been in decline for years. Wheelchair bound, James has isolated himself, convinced he is unlovable. When he is forced to do a book signing and meets Michael Lamont, he can’t believe a guy who looks like Michael could be interested in a man like him.
Michael and James are made for each other. But they must let go of stubbornness to see that life finds a way and love has no limitations.
I've been waiting for this instalment of The Sex In Seattle series for what seems like forever and you know what that's like. Anticipation and expectations with favourite authors are always way high so there's always that little niggle that this might be the one that won't quite measure up to those long awaited hopes and for the first time you'll end up walking away feeling a tad dejected and dreading writing the review. But I'm ecstatically happy to report that once again Eli delivered everything I wanted from Michaels story ...and more! As soon as I got started, I knew I was going to end up even more in love with the whole package than I thought. So, (apart from one early 4.5 rating) Eli's books have kept up their "5 stars on the trot" record with me, and I've read practically every book she's written in m/m, including one of her online Sherlock fanfic ones, and I finished 'The Mating Of Michael' doing a little happy dance, even more enamoured of the sweet sex surrogate because he's such a beautiful character in looks, personality and temperament. Who wouldn't fall head over heels for that combination!?!
I've loved the Sex In Seattle series from the moment I first met Tony "picky dick" DeMarco and Doctor Jack Halloran who runs the 'Expanded Horizons' sex clinic. That book had me laughing out loud but it was also the first time registered gay nurse and part-time sex surrogate Michael Lamont was introduced, and even though he was little more than a fleeting, slightly flirty character in that story, he still made an impression and I found myself hoping we would see and learn more about him— which we did in The Enlightenment Of Daniel, another one I loved to bits. He got a little more airtime in book two as we got to see him fleshed out a little bit more but that only fuelled the need to have more of Michael and finally with this lovely story I got my wish and it was amazing. Definitely my favourite of the three up to now.
J C Guise aka James is a reclusive author whose poignant childhood history and subsequent disability (Polio) has turned him into an introverted prickly individual. After finding insta fame with his much acclaimed debut novel in his late teens he practically becomes a hermit, retreating from the real world into one of his own making. A lonely world of self exile that he's hiding in, partly because of the fact that his inspiration for writing has started to wane but mainly because of his disability which no one even knows about outside of his small collection of friends and colleagues. So different from the gorgeous, kind hearted, nurturing Michael whose caring, open nature is a complete contrast to his own closed, guarded one.
'Neither said a word as they studied each other, but Michael knew what James needed. The despair rolled of him in waves—he needed... he needed to be held, he needed to be loved. "Let me," Michael said quietly.'
Michael's been a major fan of his since he read and devoured James' first novel, a book that really inspired him as a young teen. So when the opportunity to meet his idol at a book signing (that James has very reluctantly agreed to do) comes along, there's no way on earth that Michael is going to miss it. And then when he finally sets eyes on the author and sees just how attractive he is, despite the surprise of seeing him in a wheelchair —which of course to Michael isn't a problem at all, he's a goner and determined to get closer to this man come hell or high water. However their first meeting doesn't go quite as planned and neither do the next couple of 'accidental bumping into's', leaving Michael wondering how he's ever going to get through James' tight, emotional defences. THEN there's also that little problem of how to introduce exactly what he does in the medical profession that's extra to his regular nursing duties...because he means to tell James...he does!...when the time is right....
And there you have it, a really engaging and endearing opposites attract romance that contains oodles of sexual tension and just the right amount of misunderstanding and conflict that I thought was perfectly placed into their slow growing friends to lovers relationship.
The subject matter could have been exploited in a very different way, using the basis of a sex surrogate as an excuse to let rip with tons of raunchy sex scenes, titillation and cheap laughs but Eli takes what could be a touchy subject and turns it into a considerate, delicately handled, love story that never once went into the realms of silly or sordid but simply delivered up a beautiful, heart felt tale of love that I found both moving and insightful. It made me look at the whole subject of sex surrogacy in a completely different way and gave me a deep respect for the people who practice it. It's obvious that Eli has researched the whole matter with care and thought, because the scenes where Michael is tending to the needs of his clients are done in a most sensitive, sympathetic and compassionate way.
"The kind of compassion you have is like a diamond—won under tremendous pressure. Well, whatever fire forged you, you are special. You're a jewel."
Very touching and very tender but she still manages to make the the love scenes between Michael and James hot, sensual and sexy which of course is what we all still want in our m/m, so kudos to Eli Easton for tackling the sensitive issue of disability and sex and in my eyes getting the balance right between the romantic and the medical side of the sex, which isn't easy if you've never been in that situation. Such a lovely story and then to top it off we get a 'story within the story' thread running through where we get scattered excerpts from one of the books James is writing, which when you read it, is used in a really innovative way and crucial to their satisfying HEA. In fact I'd pay to read the character called Lamb's story, it was such a good story!
Fantastic supporting characters, thought provoking situations, gorgeous love scenes and lots of heartfelt emotion....I could gush all day about what I loved about this book but obviously the best thing to do is for me to shut up now so you can all rush off to pick up your own copy and just get stuck in because I reckon everyone is going to just adore Michael, and despite his grumpiness, James too. I've said before I'm a huge fan of Eli Easton, she's a definite auto buy for me and I've yet to read anything by her that I haven't loved. In fact I don't need a crystal ball to tell me that's something I don't ever see happening in the future either. Nuff said!
Buy it Here
Sex In Seattle Series Reading Order
The Mating of Michael
Macky Interviews Eli Easton
Macky: Hi Eli, its an absolute pleasure to welcome you to Sinfully Sexy. I'm a massive EE fan so it's really exciting to have you on the Sinfully couch today. Are you ready for a grilling? ;) I would imagine with the release of Michael your heads in a bit of a spin...
Eli: Thank you for having me! Yeah, Michael’s release distracted me from work for a full week! I’m finally getting to the place where I can stop refreshing web pages all day and move on. lol.
Macky: I really love the Sex In Seattle series. Its a fabulous concept with lots of scope for both humour and poignancy, something which I think you've balanced perfectly, and what I've loved about all three books but I wouldn't think its the sort of thing that's at the forefront of every writers mind! Lol. Something must have sparked the idea...just wondered what the lightbulb moment was that gave you the idea to write about a sex clinic.
Eli: Honestly, I don’t remember a lightbulb moment or exactly where the idea originated. I got an idea to do a private detective investigating a murder around a sex clinic and pretending to be a patient and how that could be really funny. But I’m not sure what inspired that concept. Anyway, it started as an idea for a single story and then I realized I could do a lot of stories around a sex clinic.
Macky: Sex surrogacy isn't a subject I know a lot about, and to be honest I suppose like a lot of people I've never really thought of it as being that 'serious' a side of the medical profession. I now see I was very wrong. What were your impressions before you researched it and did they change drastically as you learned more about it?
Eli: I guess when I first heard about the idea of a sex surrogate I was mainly curious. What did a sex surrogate do? How was that different from prostitution? I really liked the idea of someone who was sensitive enough to work with people who had difficulties around sex or were disabled. It appealed to the bleeding heart in me. And when I started researching it, I was really impressed with how delicate and demanding the work would be.
Macky: Obviously because of Michaels profession and the nature of the clinic, all forms of disability are going to feature strongly in the story but were you ever nervous about making one of your main MC's physically disabled. James is wheelchair bound, which is not an easy mindset to put yourself into.You could have made his hang ups about sex more of a psychological nature, not that I'm saying those problems are any less traumatic, but would that not have been an easier option.
Eli: Well, it is a delicate balance. Because in the end, you’re writing a romance. And that requires that the two MCs both be likeable and, frankly, sexy. So it would be difficult to have an MC who really had a strong sexual problem physically like an inability to get an erection. James has both legs paralyzed by polio but he is as sexual as anyone else and he needs love as much or more than anyone. I did a lot of research on polio to make sure I had my facts straight about what exactly his abilities would be. I also was fortunate to have a beta reader who is in a wheelchair, so I felt like I tried to represent his life as realistically as possible.
Macky: Polio isn't an illness that's as prevalent now, so what made you choose it as the cause of James' disability?
Eli: Initially, I thought about having a vet who had lost one or both legs, but I felt like I’d already done the PTSD military thing with Jack in book #1 so I didn’t really want to repeat that. Also, I wanted Michael’s love interest to have been affected from a very young age, because that makes him more sympathetic to Michael’s profession. I’ve been interested in polio since I saw a documentary on PBS and read about Roosevelt. We don’t realize now how huge a crisis polio was, even up til the 1950’s. I just needed to figure out how a man who is currently in his late 20’s could have contracted polio, and that became James’s backstory (he got it in India when he was five).
Macky: Michael is such an adorable, beautiful character both in looks and temperament. I fell in love with the idea of him in Tony's book and then became fascinated by him in Daniel's. After finishing this one I've got to say as much as I've loved everyone up to now, he's definitely my favourite character so far. I get a sneaky feeling that he might be yours too...or are you taking the fifth on that? LOL.
Eli: Oh, yes, Michael is definitely one of my favorite characters ever! In fact, it was challenging to give him some flaws because I’m just in love with that boy.
Macky: I know you based Michael on the picture of an LA model called Isaiah Garnica, who's perfect for how I picture him too, which is unusual because I think we all tend to see them differently in our own heads. Is it important for you to have solid visuals of your characters as inspiration while you're writing?
Eli: I don’t 100% of the time, but it’s really helpful if I do. And I think people should understand it’s JUST physical. I typically don’t know anything about my reference models and suspect they are absolutely nothing like my characters, but it is helpful to have a visual of their physique in my mind. I’m glad they found an image for Michael for the book cover that was more or less the same body type and look.
Macky: This is actually your first full length novel, which means we'll be able to get it in paperback as well...YAAY! It must be great to see anything you've written published in ebook form, but how excited are you about actually seeing it in print and being able to hold it in your hands!
Eli: It’s awesome! J When I first started writing m/m I didn’t realize there was a word count limit on getting a paperback or any of that, and I started out writing stories for anthologies. Even “Puzzle Me This” and “The Trouble with Tony” started out as ideas for stories to submit to anthologies, even though they didn’t end up that way. So they were shorter. After I realized I could get a paperback if I wrote longer (and also that readers seem to want that), I decided I had to get on that train.
Macky: I'm not sure if a lot of people realise it but you started out in fanfic. Could you tell us a bit more about that and that fantastic name you wrote under...XistentialAngst...I'm dying to know how you chose that! I just recently read 'The Great Sex Olympics of 221B' and loved it...it was soooo good. The hottest Sherlock and John story out there, and (quick plug) its free! What made you finally decide to move away from fanfic and take the chance of being published?
Eli: Well, actually, fan fiction was a sort of bridge back to writing fiction for me. I published 4 novels in the 90’s (mystery/thrillers) and then after my last one I was discouraged and burnt out because I put 3 years into it and it didn’t do that well. I submitted a few proposals after that that were rejected by the publisher. So, honestly, I just gave up on writing and focused on my ‘day job’. When I became a big Sherlock fan, and started reading fan fiction for the first time in my life, I was so impressed by it. Then I was motivated to write some. And it was like ‘oh, yeah, I forgot how much I love this and I am pretty good at it.’ The encouragement I got from that fan community helped me decide to write again professionally and by that point I was hooked on m/m. As for the name I wrote fan fiction under, XistentialAngst, I really have no idea where that came from! It just sort of came to me and I liked that it wasn’t, like, CumberBitchBabe or something overtly fan-y. lol
Macky: Superhero was the first book I ever read of yours and its still one of my all time faves. I love that book, and every one since. Have you always written in the m/m genre and do you think you always will.
Eli: As I mentioned above, prior to writing in m/m I wrote mysteries and thrillers with some metaphysical elements ala Dan Brown. I’ve always been really interested in the paranormal and philosophy and religion. But I’ve always loved romance too, as a reader. In short, I love writing m/m now and I plan to continue writing it. I’d like to do a series that’s more of a mystery/thriller with m/m mixed in, but I think at this point people expect humor from Eli Easton and I will always love writing that as well. Hopefully I can do both.
Macky: I know you're just as much a m/m reader as a writer. Who's been your inspiration in the genre and what makes a m/m story work for you... I'm a sucker for tummy tingling sexual tension, what's your thing?
Eli: Yeah, I have a particular ‘thing’ I like as a reader, and that is sexual tension. I like a book with a good build up to the ‘first time’, as opposed to starting out with a sex scene or an established couple. I also adore humor and so admire writers who can really pull that off (J.L. Merrow and Molly Harper are two favorites). I always like to have sex in the book, but after the build up. If it’s off page that just feels like a lot of build up to nothing, ya know? I also like books with families and pets. I’m a sucker for that, like “Family Man” by Heidi Cullinan and “Hairy Harry’s Car Seat” by Sue Brown. I also have a secret vice of loving GFY. I just find something about that really sexy. Maybe it’s the allure of the forbidden.
Macky: I also know you take time to write reviews for the books you've read, but what's your stance on reading the reviews of your own books Eli?
Eli: I do review other author’s work, because I like to have my GR up to date! But I only review books if I can give them 4 or 5 stars. I don’t like criticizing other author’s work on a public forum. I do read the reviews of my own books, but I try not to take the negative stuff to heart. It can become crippling and I want to stay really positive about my writing.
Macky: Well before we let you out of our clutches, haha, I have to ask the burning questions we're all dying to know. Are there more stories to come from the Seattle boys and can you give us the skinny on what other projects you've got in the pipeline. We NEED to know!!! *Grins*
Eli: I had planned on the three, but since Michael has been well-received I probably will do another one. Unfortunately, it will have to wait behind another 3-4 projects I have on my schedule. It would feature new characters the way “Daniel” did, and maybe give a little more of an update of the previous couples than the last two books have done. Currently, I’m expanding “The Lion and the Crow” and then I need to get my Christmas story for 2014 written and then a werewolf story for the next volume of “gothika”. And THEN a novel, I hope!
Macky: Thank you so much for taking time to come visit Eli, I can't tell you how great its been chatting to you today. There'll always be a place on the Sinfully couch with your name on it, so please don't be a stranger...we want to have you back and we hope its very soon. Keep writing and I for one will definitely keep reading and I know a lot of peeps out there who will too. :)
Thanks so much for your support and encouragement and I look forward to next time!
About Eli Easton
Having been, at various times and under different names, a minister’s daughter, a computer programmer, a game designer, the author of paranormal mysteries, a fan fiction writer, an organic farmer and a profound sleeper, Eli is happily embarking on yet another incarnation as a m/m romance author.
As an avid reader of such, she is tinkled pink when an author manages to combine literary merit, vast stores of humor, melting hotness and eye-dabbing sweetness into one story. She promises to strive to achieve most of that most of the time. She currently lives on a farm in Pennsylvania with her husband, three bulldogs, three cows and six chickens. All of them (except for the husband) are female, hence explaining the naked men that have taken up residence in her latest fiction writing.
You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Eli Easton will be gifting to one lucky reader an e-copy of the enlightenment of Daniel, the second book in the Sex in Seattle series.