We are so excited to have Renae Kaye with us today as she celebrates the release of Safe in his Heart, the second book in the Safe series.
A couple of months ago I caught a blog post by an author. I’m sorry that I can’t remember who it was, because I would like to go back and check my reading of the blog post. I just remember reading it and thinking, “I can see your point, but I’m sorry to say you’re wrong.”
My memory of the post has this person asking is it relevant for M/M Romance authors to still be writing stories about coming out of the closet. They thought the subject had been done to death, and so many people no longer have to go through the long protracted coming-out process thanks to society’s acceptance of gay people. This author asked can we please move on from closet breakouts?
I agree – the subject is often the focus of LGBTIQA stories. There is a lot more that authors can choose to write about than only coming out stories when writing books with LGBTIQA fiction. But asking authors to “move on” from coming out stories? Not if we’re writing realistic stories.
If you hang out online in LGBTIQA chat rooms, you will always find two common threads – people sharing their coming out stories, and people asking for advice on how to/when to come out. It is a big deal. It’s a big deal to queer people. It’s a big deal to those who didn’t know.
Until society fully embraces people of all sexual orientations, then yes, they will still need to “come out.” So there will still be coming out stories to tell, and the coming out will sometimes be traumatic.
Safe in His Heart (Safe #2) is my seventh novel to be published. Peppered into the mix is three short stories – Bear Chasing, Hard Feelings and Out of the Rain – so a rounded ten stories published. I’ve looked at the main event in each of my stories and found that four of them revolve around one of the characters having to go public with his sexuality: Loving Jay, The Shearing Gun, Out of the Rain and now Safe in His Heart. So a 40% write-rate for me.
So then I’ve looked at why these characters haven’t come out before the time of the story happens. For two of them, it’s a safety issue. Hank from The Shearing Gun has the example of his uncle being severely beaten for being gay, and Elijah from Out of the Rain knows he’ll be kicked out of home, and he has nowhere to live until he gets his qualifications and some savings. For Andrew in Safe in His Heart, as well as for Hank, it’s also worry about employment after their coming out. And for all of them, their family’s disapproval is one of the primary motives for staying in the closet.
Liam from Loving Jay, is the only one still sorting through his “Am I gay?” angst.
Is this realistic? From my knowledge of society, yes.
Safe in His Heart (Safe #2) is a coming out story. Andrew’s family are strict Catholic and have always lived by the thought that homosexuality is a sin, and that it can be changed. As a teen, Andrew was so confused about the whole issue, it took him a while to realise that he was gay, and then he did everything to hide it. There was one guy he secretly dated that he thought he could perhaps come out with, but Trent went off and married a woman, further assuring Andrew that he could never come out and be accepted.
Soon after Trent, Andrew meets Kristy and tries to change. He dates her to keep his family off his back, as they keep trying to find a wife for him. But Kristy is just as uninterested in getting married as he is. Finally they make an agreement – they’ll marry, in name only, to keep everyone from pushing potential spouses at them. No one else is to know. The rest of the world will think they have a happy, loving marriage. They were intimate only to conceive the children that would solidify this image and give them both the chance to be parents.
Things begin to unravel after six years though. Kristy’s ex turns up, and Andrew has admitted that his “fling” with Paul means something more than just sex. With Kristy off trying to work out a relationship with the man she loves, Andrew is at home trying to cope with two children. He calls on Paul to help him. One thing that Andrew has never admitted to Kristy is the fact that he’s gay. The excerpt I’ve chosen for you today comes from the end of the story when Kristy confronts Andrew about it.
I hope you enjoy the book and Andrew’s journey out of the closet.
Safe in His Heart (Safe #2)
Publisher ~ Dreamspinner Press
Published ~ 2nd May 2016
Genre ~ Contemporary M/M Romance
Andrew and Paul learned about God and Jesus in different churches and realize their views of spirituality are worlds apart.
Andrew was raised Catholic and was told his homosexuality was a sin. For his entire life, he hid the truth. He married and had children to present a façade to the world—that of a straight man. It’s not until he has an affair with Paul, who shows him a different side of Jesus, that Andrew realizes he can be gay and still believe in God. Paul’s Jesus is one of acceptance and love, and in Paul’s church, being gay is not a problem.
For Paul and Andrew, falling in love is the easy part of their journey. They must make it through the fires of cheating, being discovered, Andrew’s wife leaving, the necessities of childcare and family life, the demands of their jobs, and working on their commitment to each other. Only then can they be safe in each other’s heart.
Andrew sighed and looked out over the street.
“I’m gay, Kristy. I’ve always been gay. I’m sorry it upsets you.”
It was… strange. Andrew didn’t know if he’d ever said those words out loud before. I’m gay. He looked at the sky. It didn’t fall in. Huh.
Kristy shook her head and hugged herself tighter. She still refused to look at him, and Andrew felt sad. Despite not loving her as a man should love his wife, he was her friend. He knew her. They had secrets, but they were also honest with each other. He knew Kristy.
“What upsets you more, Kristy? The fact that I replaced you so soon, or the fact that the man I love is doing a better job at raising your children?”
It was nasty. It was cut-to-the-bone malicious. But he knew his wife. She loved her children as much as she had the ability to, but some things came above that—specifically appearances.
He didn’t hate her for it, but he refused to let her lie to him and herself about it. “Let me guess? You hate that people will talk about how you were replaced by a mere man.”
She finally deigned to make eye contact. “How could you do it?” she whispered and no longer sounded angry, just bewildered and baffled.
Andrew understood her confusion. “Kriss? Do you know what? For once in my life, I did what I wanted and didn’t worry about what other people think. I think you took the same chance when you jumped on the plane to Melbourne.”
Her small shrug was a sign that she could see his point. “But gay, Andrew? It’s a sin against God. Why couldn’t you have done something else, like get a girlfriend who’s only eighteen or adopt six African children? If you wanted to set tongues wagging, you could’ve done it a different way.”
“Kristy? Being gay is not a choice I made. I’ve always been gay, and I’ve always hidden it. But now is the time for me to stop hiding. I can’t stop being gay, but I can stop hiding it. I’m not doing it for any other reason than that it’s right for me.” He sighed. “And sin? Stop thinking about what your mother would say and think for yourself. Do you really think gay is a sin? Any more than divorce, premarital sex, and all of that? The people who lived by those rules in Leviticus kept slaves. They’re not the people I want to be emulating. I’ve been reading my Bible lately and I really can’t see what the fuss is about.”
This time Kristy’s shrug was one that said “you’re right.” Andrew smiled. She didn’t have a problem with the gay bit. She had a problem with the “what will people say” bit.
With a small smile, she turned to him. “Why didn’t you ever tell me?” There was hurt in her eyes. Yes, they were friends. Friends who had kept each other’s secrets for years, and now she was finding out he hadn’t been completely honest with her. “You told me that your heart had been broken and you could never love another person. That’s why you agreed to marry me—because you thought you couldn’t ever find love again.”
Andrew snorted and moved until he was leaning against the car next to her. “It was all true. My heart had been broken, and I didn’t think I’d ever love again. The only thing I left out was that his name was Trent.”
Kristy echoed his snort. “I guess that explains the sex, then.”
“What?” Andrew was offended. Was there something wrong with the way he had sex?
The old Kristy returned. The one who was happy and would joke with him. “Oh, come on, Andy. Even men with broken hearts have sex. I didn’t believe you when you said we would only have sex to conceive children, but as time went by, you never tried. I was worried about you. I mean, I was technically your wife, and yet you could lie next to me every night and not even get a stiffy.”
Andrew laughed. He couldn’t make it through the night next to Paul without getting aroused. “Would you like to meet him? Paul, I mean?” he asked softly. If she needed more time, then he’d give her the space.
Her face fell again and all the laughter disappeared. “Oh, Andy. I’m happy that you’re happy, but what about the kids? You can’t do that to them.”
“Do what?” he asked sternly. “Love them? Provide them with two loving adults to look after them? Give them a stable household to grow up in?”
She shook her head as if he was missing the point. “I mean the… sex. You can’t expose them to that.”
Oh dear. “Kriss? Gay parents don’t have sex in front of their children any more than straight parents do—which is never. They may see us kiss and cuddle on the lounge, but that’s about it. The sex is when they’re asleep, like regular parents do it.”
“But what will their friends think?” she asked, obviously still worried.
“They think whatever they want to. They will anyway. What matters is what the kids think. To them I’m their father, and Paul is just the man who picks them up from school and from day care and helps with the shopping and all the rest. We’re ‘Dad and Paul.’ And in a couple of years, when the kids are older, if one of their friends makes a comment about why does Paul sleep in their Dad’s bed, they will be able to turn around and say, ‘Because Dad and Paul love each other.’ There’s no big deal unless we make it one.”
Andrew could see the news was sinking in. Kristy was not dumb. She was probably thinking through the implications and looking for the pitfalls. He softly commented, “I don’t see that ‘Dad’s boyfriend moved in’ is any better or worse for the kids than ‘Mum ran off with her married lover.’ Actually for the gossips and the church, they’re probably pretty much on par with each other.”
“True,” Kristy agreed. “But I couldn’t help myself loving Richard.”
“And I couldn’t help myself loving Paul,” Andrew admitted.
Meet Renae Kaye
Renae Kaye is a lover and hoarder of books who thinks libraries are devilish places because they make you give the books back. She consumed her first adult romance book at the tender age of thirteen and hasn’t stopped since. After years – and thousands of stories! – of not having book characters do what she wants, she decided she would write her own novel and found the characters still didn’t do what she wanted. It hasn’t stopped her though. She believes that maybe one day the world will create a perfect couple – and it will be the most boring story ever. So until then she is stuck with quirky, snarky and imperfect characters who just want their story told.
Renae lives in Perth, Western Australia and writes in five minute snatches between the demands of two kids, a forbearing husband, too many pets, too much housework and her beloved veggie garden. She is a survivor of being the youngest in a large family and believes that laughter (and a good book) can cure anything. email: email@example.com