Living Authentically in Tara’s Novels
I’m so delighted to be here at Sinfully Sexy today! I’ve met so many great people here. I’m Tara Lain. I write the Beautiful Boys of Romance and today I’m celebrating the release of my new MM contemporary novel, OUTING THE QUARTERBACK.
It’s funny. I never set out to include a theme for my novels, but somewhere back a couple years ago I realized that I have one. The theme is “living an authentic life”. If you asked me to list things that are deeply important to me, I’m not at all sure I would have included this theme – and yet I’ve written going on 25 books (including some not yet released) that all seem to speak to this idea. I think it has something to do with growing up in a household that wasn’t at all what it seemed or pretended to be. I remember struggling with finding my voice and who I really was in this simulated world. Interesting that all these years later, this theme should manifest in books about gay people struggling to live authentically in a world that sometimes despises and even abuses them.
This theme really comes home in my new book, Outing the Quarterback. The story is of a 20-year-old college senior who is living entirely by his father’s rules – while enjoying things that his father’s money buys. But secretly he lives in two closets. He’s gay, but has never come out to anyone, and he lives as the quarterback of a renowned football team and a business major, when what he wants to do is study art. The whole book is about Will striving to find an authentic way to live his adult life – and the choices and sacrifices he has to make in order to do it.
I hope you enjoy Outing the Quarterback and I’d like to give you a chance to win it – OR, if you F and you’ve already purchased Outing the Quarterback, I’ll give you your choice of TWO books from my backlist! (Hmm, do you think I might want you to buy the new book? LOL)
Outing the Quarterback (The Long Pass Chronicles #1) by Tara Lain
Title ~ Outing the Quarterback (The Long Pass Chronicles #1)
Author ~ Tara Lain
Publisher ~ Dreamspinner Press
Published ~ 19th September 2014
Will Ashford lives in two closets. He meets his wealthy father’s goals as both the quarterback for the famous SCU football team and a business major, but secretly he attends art school and longs to live as a painter. And he's gay. But if he can win the coveted Milton Scholarship for art, he’ll be able to break from his father at the end of his senior year.
In a painting master class, Will meets his divergent opposite, Noah Zajack. A scarred orphan who’s slept on park benches and eaten from trash cans, Noah carefully plans his life and multiple jobs so he has money and time to go to art school. Will's problems seem like nothing compared to Noah's. Noah wants the scholarship too and may have a way to get it since the teacher of his class has designs on him, a plan Will isn't happy about.
When a gossipmonger with a popular YouTube channel finds evidence that Will is gay, the quarterback’s closet doors begin to crumble. Hounded by the press and harassed by other players, Will has to choose. Stay in the closet and keep his family’s wealth, or let the doors fall off and walk out with nothing. Nothing but Noah.
American Football and myself are a weird combination. I'm a Brit who doesn't even like our own game of footy, I know!!! I can hear all the cries of "Shame on you!!!" But it's true...I'm just not into that area of sport, so really, as far as the US game is concerned I shouldn't have any leanings towards that either...I don't understand its rules or regulations or its mode of play...BUT...if I see a book about it, or a film centered around the game, I find myself really drawn toward it. Go figure!
When I found out Tara was writing one called Outing The Quarterback, that was it. I wanted to read it ASAP, and lucky me I got to do just that when it came up for the blog. And it was great....
I've followed Tara's books since I first started reading m/m and she never fails to give me a fun, sexy, reading experience. I just find her stories really light and easy to read and in terms of entertainment value they work for me. So I was more or less certain that what I was going to get from this would be something on the same lines, as I think you get used to the writing style of most of your fave authors, but blow me (no pun intended, lol) this particular offering from Ms Lain definitely had me eating my words, because even though I was still thoroughly entertained by the whole package, and her trademark signatures were there, I actually came away feeling like I'd seen a different side to her writing. A side I really liked. Not particularly darker than normal but definitely a more thought provoking, cynical drama with moments where I wanted to jump in, grab hold and shake a few of the characters.
Tara Lain does opposites attracts style romances really well, you find it in most of her novels; It's a trope I really enjoy and there's no doubt that these two characters are as far apart in both personality, looks and lifestyles as you could get but they do have two things in common. They're both gay and they both paint like a dream, but that's were the sharing ends. In fact even the gay issue isn't as cut and dried as it sounds because even though up and coming jock and team star quarterback, Will Ashford aka 'Will Smith' knows he's gay (his visits to his paid BJ buddy 'Rainbow' confirm that), admitting it out loud to himself and those near and dear to him isn't an option. So he coasts along, lying not only to himself but also to his spiteful, annoying cheerleader girlfriend, his rich, cold, controlling father, his forever drunk mother and the two people who he really wants to confess to, but still holds back from...his BFF and team partner, Jamal Jones and his fabulous sibling Evangeline, who's like a sister to Will. The only guy's who really have his back and truly care for Will, Jamal and his family, are far more loving and supportive of him than his own parents have ever been and he's scared of losing that, but the thing is, he needn't be as both his friends have secrets of their own. Holding the lies in for so long begins to take its toll on him to the point where, after another uncomfortable bedroom encounter with his girlfriend Tiffany, he's physically sick.
The flood arrived as he fell over the toilet bowl and barfed a year of sadness from his rebelling stomach. A mouthful of lying, a belly full of deceit. A lifetime of never being who he was. Flushed.
Then there's Noah Zajack: love interest and catalyst to all the shit that starts piling up on Will, more or less from the moment he sees him posing nude for the art class at Laguna College, where they've both enrolled, only Will has done it secretly because no one outside his life in football knows painting is his true vocation; art being the love of both their lives. Noah is just Wills type...long dark hair, blue eyes, cheekbones, lean build and pretty, apart from the facial scar dissecting one side of his beautiful face, that in Wills eyes just makes Noah appear more appealing and interesting, a comment he makes to Masterson, the artist teaching their class, who it appears to Will, has an interest in not only Noah's talent but Noah himself...
".....Noah's actually a student in this class. When our life model cancelled I pressed him into service. But next session he'll be painting, not posing."
A student. "He's a great subject." Will pulled out his phone and started taking photo's.
"Yes, beauty ruined."
Will frowned. "Ruined?" He shook his head. "Perfected."
Masterson raised His eyebrows. "How so?" Will looked at Masterson's lean face. "No light without dark. He makes his own contrast. The scar reminds you of just how perfect the rest is."
Noah, who I loved, is a pretty cynical character. He's had to be because of his past history and he's more than a little surprised at his own reactions to the gorgeous 'Jockoid' as he calls him. Openly gay he doesn't see getting involved with a closeted guy and total opposite socially, a good decision at all, but circumstances and their love of art keeps throwing them together, and lust filled attraction is a hard feeling to fight! Then there's the fact that he's having to deal with the not so teacher like attentions of his art tutor, a man who holds whether his chosen path as an artist will be successful or not in his hands. Another reason for Noah's cynicism and wariness around the football player because they're both in competition for an art scholarship that if either if them wins it, offers a life changing freedom for each of them.
They finally give in to their feelings and Will outs himself to Jamal, who, with the help of Evangeline, comes up with a plan to help the two lovers cover their tracks but things are never that easy and Will ends up in the position of having to make a really momentous decision that will have a big impact on his and Noah's relationship, and his life in general.
It highlights just how difficult and hurtful it can be, being gay in an environment— in this case sports— that can make or a break a life and career, showIng its impact on family relationships and how people use emotional blackmail to guilt people into the closet. It's a story that does make you think about the injustice of it all. However I can't deny there were still actions and decisions made by Will that personally slightly grated. I understood the reasons, got why he felt so trapped and couldn't help but sympathise with him for most of the story, I liked the guy, but there were a couple of situations when I felt he could have railed harder against the people in his life who wanted to use his homosexuality to suit their own needs, sacrificing his, and other characters in the books reputations and feelings, just so that people who didn't really give a crap about him could save face, whether it was to keep it swept under the carpet so he could still play Pro football or to use it as gossip to further their own popularity and kudos. I wanted him to grow some balls and say "Fuck you" to the people who were doing the manipulating, but until he finally woke up and smelled the coffee, he kind of sat back and let them do it.
Noah could also be stubborn and distrustful, but for me, out of the two of them, he was the most true to himself. But of course at the end of the day that was all part of Tara's journey plan for her boys and without the conflict and drama I wouldn't have had that emotional reaction, so despite those odd niggles, I still enjoyed the hell out of the book. I reckon if a plot can evoke strong emotions in you then it's doing its job. Who wants meh? So thank you Tara for surprising me and making me do some emoting. I still came away feeling satisfied, but definitely wanting more, especially after reading the teaser for Jamal's upcoming story, who, alongside Evangeline, was one of my favourite characters. I'm really chomping at the bit for more of these American Footballer's and their struggles to find themselves, and their lovers, in such an unforgiving domain. Nice one Tara!
Buy It Here
Will’s eyes moved past the teacher. Lots of easels, students already working, supplies all over the place and—holy shit.
The artist’s model sat naked on a small platform in the middle of the room. But not just no-clothes-on naked. We were talking gleaming, pale beige skin, shining hair, and hard-as-stone butt-cheeks naked.
Will’s deprived cock did a happy dance.
The model’s back—read, bare ass—faced Will while his graceful spine curved away.
The beast in Will’s pants started to grow.
The guy’s long brown hair flowed over his shoulders and outlined his profile, perfectly presented to Will’s artist eye. High-bridged nose, prominent cheekbones, pointed chin.
The damned traitor prick pushed so hard against Will’s zipper he probably had teeth marks on his cockhead. Why was it every time he decided to go straight, some cosmic joker had to twiddle his fucking finger and prove beyond a shadow that William Elliott Ashford III was as gay as a circus tent? Shit!
“Are you in this class?”
Will focused his eyes back on Masterson and clasped his hands in front of his crotch, still holding his tackle box. “Yes, sir. Sorry I’m late. Traffic.”
Masterson glanced at Will’s folded hands and sucked on his cheek like he was trying not to laugh. “Name?”
Will shifted to get the animal to go back in its cave, but no matter how hard Masterson stared at Will, the model still sat there in all his fucking glory. “Will Smith, sir.”
Masterson glanced at a paper on his desk, made a check mark, and pointed toward an empty easel with a folding table beside it and a rickety chair. “There’s a place in the back, William.”
The man smiled and the lean, almost harsh face softened. “Will. Made any good movies lately?”
Oh my, so very original. Will smiled. “Yeah.”
Masterson waved his hand toward the easel and looked at the model. “You can move, Noah.”
Will walked back to the empty place. Do not stare at that guy. Don’t stare. His name is Noah. Noah.
Weird. Usually life models were “interesting” looking, for lack of a better word. Fat or craggy, old, and character-filled. Not perfect, smooth beauties like this guy.
Will set his tackle box on the floor, opened it, and pulled out brushes. Masterson walked up beside him with a canvas. “This is gessoed already so you won’t have to waste any time.”
Will set it on the easel. “Thanks.”
Masterson crossed his arms. “I’ve seen the work you submitted when you applied for the master class. Promising.”
Wow. Music to his ears. “Thank you, sir.”
Masterson grinned. Who knew dimples could live in cheeks that thin? “Try Dwight so I don’t feel so old.”
Will smiled. “Thanks, Dwight. I wouldn’t want to suggest something that’s not true.”
The instructor winked at him and walked back to the beat-up desk in the corner. Winked. Will had read that Masterson was gay. Had the teacher just been flirting with him? Or shit, maybe he’d been coming on to Masterson. When you spent your life in the closet, every interaction was a fucking minefield.
Will sat in the chair and looked up at the model. His breath caught. No way. The beautiful guy had repositioned himself and now sat facing Will, his legs crossed, leaning forward with his arm resting on his thigh. Everything shimmery and perfect—if you didn’t count the six-inch scar that ran from the right corner of his mouth up to the edge of his very blue eye. It skipped the eye miraculously and continued above it on his forehead, disappearing into his hair. The puckered skin pulled that eye closed a slight bit more than the other. Funny. Without it, the kid would have looked almost too angelic. As it was, the eye gave him a permanent touch of cynicism. Yeah, anybody who’d picked up that badge of courage in his life deserved to be a cynic.
About Tara Lain
Tara Lain writes the Beautiful Boys of Romance in LGBT erotic romance novels that star her unique, charismatic heroes. Her first novel was published in January of 2011 and she’s now somewhere around book 23. Her best-selling novels have garnered awards for Best Series, Best Contemporary Romance, Best Ménage, Best LGBT Romance, Best Gay Characters, and Tara has been named Best Writer of the Year in the LRC Awards. In her other job, Tara owns an advertising and public relations firm. She often does workshops on both author promotion and writing craft. She lives with her soul-mate husband and her soul-mate dog in Laguna Beach, California, a pretty seaside town where she sets a lot of her books. Passionate about diversity, justice, and new experiences, Tara says on her tombstone it will say “Yes”!
Tara is gifting two fabulous prizes
~ The winner gets to choose between an e-copy of Outing the Quarterback ~OR~ TWO eBooks from Tara's back catalogue.
~ $10 Amazon Gift Card
All you need to do is enter the Rafflecopter below to enter.