Solitude by Anna Martin & Tia Fielding
Title ~ Solitude
Author ~ Anna Martin & Tia Fielding
Publisher ~ Dreamspinner Press
Published ~ 27st August 2014
Genre ~ M/M Romance, Contemporary
When his whirlwind life in LA became too much, Liam Barton escaped to Solitude, a Utah ski resort. Not only did Liam leave his career as a gay porn star, he said good-bye to Gael Torres, his costar at Woodspring Manor Entertainment.
Rumors run rampant that Liam is dead. But Gael doesn’t believe the gossip. Knowing something is wrong with Liam, Gael hunts him down to get his answers.
Liam is shocked when Gael turns up in Solitude and takes up residence. To Liam's chagrin, Gael is determined to stick around to help Liam through whatever spooked him enough to run away. As Gael breaks through Liam’s armor, both men begin to realize that no matter what life throws their way, they don’t have to deal with it alone.
Both, Anna Martin and Tia Fielding are great storytellers, their novels are always sexy, sweet and satisfying. When I heard about the collaboration I couldn’t wait to get their first joint work into my greedy hands! :) After devouring the story I’m sure Solitude is an excellent starting point for a successful partnership between these two skillful authors.
I think most of us have watched gay porn, right? Watching anonymous guys having sex is one thing but have you ever thought about the people behind the scenes, the men beneath the hot bodies? What kind of life do they live? What's their background story? Why are they doing porn anyway? Do they live in a committed relationship? Or do they long for it but don’t see any chance because their lovers can’t live with a person who’s having sex regularly with different partners? Solitude is a story that might bring you to the edge of your comfort zone or even beyond that and that was the main reason the book touched me so deeply.
Gael is from Finland, his liberal European upbringing makes him the laid back guy he is. He’s living in LA and sharing an apartment with his best friend John. They've both been doing porn for five years now and are working for Woodspring Manors Entertainment, a porn studio in LA. Although everything is very professional the owners Parker and his brother Elliot, and the staff of Woodspring are like a family to Gael and John.
When Gael talks about his parents… *swoons*… you instantly know where his strength, his ease of mind are coming from. If you’d ask him he would tell you it’s all about sisu, a Finnish word that means something like perseverance and willpower but isn’t properly translatable into other languages. *Deep sigh and big smile* You can’t not fall in love with Gael and his wonderful family. I loved his Finnish mom and Spanish dad to bits! Wonderful people, their acceptance of Gael’s lifestyle blew me away!
Anyway, Liam is another story. Coming from an ultra-religious family in Utah, his life was never a piece of cake. After coming out to his family, and them only wanting to pray the gay away (or better beat the gay away) he didn’t seem to have any other choices than running away and surviving on the streets by hooking. At some point in his life he grabbed the chance to get his feet into the porn business and ‘Lithium’, the hot power bottom was born. His true self is so very different from his outer appearance, he feels like damaged goods, there’s so much hurt and self-doubt in him. Aside from that he has an inner strength and the will to survive. Oh, I loved that boy!
Gael and Liam meet at work and have sex for the first time before even knowing their real names. Reading about them not knowing each other and having sex in front of a camera was a hot and simultaneously strange experience. They just shake hands and go for it! The guys are used to keeping an emotional distance from their co-workers but they both immediately feel that something is very different from their usual acting in front of the camera, there’s this undeniable attraction they don’t know how to deal with. After a few months Liam suddenly disappears, he needs his equilibrium back, something he can’t achieve with Gael around him. Without giving Gael or his boss Parker notice he goes to Solitude, a winter sport site in the mountains of Utah, and seemingly it’s a good place to hide. Plus, snowboarding, tending bars and doing some extra work on the side is everything Liam needs right now. Of course Gael can’t forget Liam and begins to search for him…
Despite everything I’d felt from the first moment I saw Liam at Woodspring, I hadn’t felt ready to address those feelings. But the thing about life is that it doesn’t always allow us to take the time we want. The thought of losing him scared me to death. That was what made me understand how far-gone I truly was for him. I wanted to be with Liam, problems and secrets and all...
Holy hotness snowboarding batman! Solitude is a fantastic, challenging read that kept me on the edge of my seat. Once started I couldn't put the book down. The pacing is excellent, the dialogue authentic. Tia and Anna did a great job not only in writing the novel but also in the field of research. Okay, which hot gay porn star gave you behind the scenes access? Spill, girls!
I loved everything about this story, from the interesting plot to the amazing characters. The romance is emotional and passionate but it isn't exaggerated by corny lines and situations, it’s more subtle, be it a simple touch or a word of deeper meaning. Marvellously done!
“You know nothing about what I feel for him,” I said quietly. “But he’s here, in my chest.” I thumped my fist over my heart. “I don’t know if it’s love, I don’t even know if I believe I’m worthy of loving him, but I’d gladly spend every remaining day of my life trying to earn the right to call him mine.”
Tia and Anna brilliantly manage to convey the heart and soul of these two guys, and when the heat turns up, it gets damn hot! Erotic moments written separately by each of these authors are always scorching, but the sex scenes penned together reach level 100 on the hotness scale. When the guys have private sex it’s sheet burning, their chemistry just sizzles from the screen!
This book was a pure joy to read, while giving me plenty to think about at the same time. Like I said earlier I loved Gael and his wonderful parents... I’m European myself, but not so sure that I would be as laid back, if my son, daughter or partner was doing porn and having public sex with hundreds of partners. It would certainly test my boundaries or even cross them. I’m not only talking about moral and health-issues, there's so much emotional baggage involved. Can you imagine sharing the man you love with others, even when its only job related and no feelings are involved?
Can you be faithful to your partner whilst living in a sexual open relationship? How much love and acceptance are required to live and work like Gael and Liam do, without losing focus and drawing the line between private life and work? I once read a statement from a gay porn star, he answered this loaded question so easily as if he was talking about fixing a car or doing an office job and then going home to his partner.
“We don’t have to have sex only with each other to be faithful. I’m completely faithful to him, emotionally and with my heart. I can still get gang-banged and want to go back home to him."
I’m still mulling over the quote and I’m not sure if I’ll ever reach a conclusion…
Anyway, other readers may think differently but I can only speak for myself…I thoroughly enjoyed this thought-provoking, charming, sexy and captivating love story. With both of these writers nothing could go wrong, each scene is skilfully elaborated, each word perfectly placed, each character wonderfully drawn.
Btw, I loved the ending, it’s not all sunshine and roses, Gael doesn’t morph into a knight in shining armour and they all live happily ever after. Liam's many emotional issues, that we learn about over the course of the story, don't just disappear overnight. Plus, they are still working in various fields of the sex business. But they don’t give up, they are building a life together, they stay faithful to their individual beliefs, they live their sisu. Together!
“I have… a really, really fucked-up past, Gael. Like… more fucked- up than your average eighteen -year-old who escapes Utah right-wing religious hell and runs away to Los Angeles and ends up staring in twink porn and hooking.”
“I thought you were fairly normal.”
“I got therapy.”
For some reason this made him laugh and squeeze me tighter and kiss my head.
“Oh, Liam,” he sighed.
“Nothing. Don’t stop surprising me, yeah?”
I’m sure Solitude is just begging to be a series! I want more of cute, tender Gael and sweet, damaged, determined Liam, I want more of the super hot supporting characters. How about Parker and John? Or Elliot and Indy? Pretty please?
So, are you open-minded enough and in the mood for a story that challenges traditions most of us are used to, one that shows that true love doesn’t need boundaries? A story that shows us that love can grow beyond mountains of hurt and is able to heal a broken soul? Then don’t hesitate...Read it! Highly recommended!
A Word from Tia Fielding
”No excuses. No apologies. No regrets.” Those are the words of Brian Kinney, a character in the show Queer as Folk. Brian is one of my fictional heroes, and I believe he’s one for my cowriter, Anna, as well. There’s something utterly charming about Brian, no matter what he does, right or wrong, and trust me, he does wrong quite a lot.
Brian Kinney is charming, gorgeous, self-assured, problematic, an asshole, vulnerable, and so, so lovable. Part of Brian’s charm is wrapped in that quote. He doesn’t make excuses for who he is and what (and who) he does. He won’t apologize for being himself or for the things he does, and finally, because of that, he doesn’t have regrets.
When I was thinking about what to write for this blog post, somehow Brian’s attitude got wrapped up in the idea of modern sex workers in my head, and based on my earlier conversation with Tina, I decided to go with it, so bear with me here.
There are and always will be people who see any kind of sex work and sex workers as something less. Something bad. Even something outright evil. I’m talking about anything from prostitution to porn to sexual surrogates here. (For more on the last one, check out Eli Easton’s The Mating of Michael.) But from where I stand, where I personally look at things, being an escort or working in porn is in no way different from being a teacher, a police officer, an EMT or an accountant.
Yes, I completely understand and am aware of the dark side of sex work, but you should never judge a whole based on the most negative side of it. A lot of these people, no matter what kind of work they do, have chosen it for themselves. A lot of them take pride in what they do, like their jobs, even enjoy it. There are and always will be the individuals who are coerced or have no other choice, but for the sake of argument, let’s not go there in this post, because that’s not what Solitude is about.
Because Solitude’s main characters are sex workers, there are certain things I’d like to mention in this post. I’ve decided to drop most of my rambling, but because there are people who will automatically judge Solitude based on what the guys do for a living and because that automatically means they don’t fit in the ideal romantic picture of modern monogamy many M/M romance readers demand from their books, I’ll say this much:
It all boils down on being yourself, being true to who you are, who your partner is, and how you see the work you do. Sex workers are regular people. If you met one in their street clothing, you couldn’t tell them apart from the kindergarten teacher, the librarian, or the bartender.
That librarian could do kinkier stuff than the sex worker ever has. The bartender might be a married person who cheats their spouse on regular basis. The underpaid kindergarten teacher who teaches your kids might double as a voice on a phone sex line. The porn star might fuck someone at work, several someones, and go home to their partner who loves them nonetheless and never, ever cheat on them.
And that’s the word here: love. Love doesn’t always mean you’re monogamous. For most sex workers who share their body with their clients, the sex they have at work is completely separate from making love to their significant other at home.
If both spouses work in sex industry, it might be easier for them to understand the dynamics that come with their jobs. If only one does, it might be nearly impossible for the other party to see a job as just that. Then again, sometimes it isn’t that simple in either case. Sometimes there are surprises, jealousy, pain and anger. But not always. Not nearly always.
So, if you choose to read Solitude despite the fact that you don’t normally read books where the main characters have sex with other people than their main romantic interests, think about Brian Kinney. Just like Brian, Liam and Gael refuse to make excuses, refuse to apologize for what they do, and they don’t have regrets. They’re just regular guys with out of the ordinary jobs and unusual values. And it all still boils down to one thing: love.
About The Authors
Tia Fielding is a 30-year-old Scandinavian. She is a self-proclaimed “queer girl”, lover of everything pretty, witty people, words, cats, sarcasm, autumn, and caffeine. She uses her nights with her head in the clouds and her feet on the coffee table, right next to her laptop. Her days? She uses those by sleeping way too much.
Tia started writing stories early on, almost as soon as she learned how to write. The early stories about horses and ghosts have changed into romantic tales about people in love. She stopped writing at some point in her late teens and early twenties, but began again a few years ago, after finding fan fiction. Tia is not ashamed of her past of borrowing other people’s characters, but has found creating her own much more satisfying.
Anna Martin is from a picturesque seaside village in the south-west of England and now lives in the slightly arty, slightly quirky city of Bristol. After spending most of her childhood making up stories, she studied English Literature at university before attempting to turn her hand as a professional writer.
Apart from being physically dependent on her laptop, Anna is enthusiastic about writing and producing local grassroots theatre (especially at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where she can be found every summer), going to visit friends in other countries, baking weird and wonderful sweets, learning to play the ukulele, and Ben & Jerry’s New York Super Fudge Chunk.
Anna claims her entire career is due to the love, support, pre-reading, and creative ass kicking provided by her best friend Jennifer. Jennifer refuses to accept responsibility for anything Anna has written.
2nd place winner of the 2012 Goodreads M/M Romance Member’s Choice Award "Best Musician/Rockstars" for Tattoos & Teacups.
Anna Martin & Tia Fielding are gifting one lucky reader an ebook copy of Solitude. All you need to do is enter the Rafflecopter below…
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