Monday, January 09, 2017

Blog Tour: Block and Strike by Kelly Jensen. Includes Guest Post & Giveaway


We are thrilled to welcome Kelly Jensen to Sinfully today, as she celebrates the release of her new book Block and Strike.


Writing Kids and Family

Block and Strike is the first book I’ve written where kids and family play an important role. Previously, my characters had all been somewhat estranged from their families for various reasons—apocalypse, disaster, aliens, differences of opinion and the drift of age. It didn’t seem odd to me that most of my characters were somewhat solitary and disconnected, though, until Jake arrived on the page with a daughter, a best friend, a large extended family and a job with a boss he actually liked and admired. Who was this man? And why did he want to complicate my story with so many extra people?

Jake being very social is an important facet of the story. In the simplest instance, his relationship with his family and friends shows just how lonely and disconnected Max is. Having a good and loving family doesn’t necessarily make Jake’s life any easier, however. He has more people to disappoint and more critics when he makes mistakes. Letting down the people you love is probably one of the most difficult instances to recover from.

I didn’t have to look far for inspiration when it came to writing Max and Jake’s disparate experiences with family. For Max, I drew a lot on my experience with my mother. She was a very distant person, due largely to the fact she struggled with mental illness. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to please a person who doesn’t have a clear picture of what makes them happy. Max tried for years to be what his father needed him to be—and failed. Yet, even after he moved to the city, he still held himself to the same impossible standards. I can only hope that, like me, he will eventually come to terms with the fact that perfection is being who you want to be—not what others think you should be.

For Jake, I shared my love for my father. Jake’s weekly visits to Doylestown to visit his folks? That’s me riding out to my dad’s place every weekend to hang out. He and his wife always provided good food, good company and a safe space where I could either just be myself, or bring my friends. Or both. So often, I would end up staying the entire weekend, traveling back to the city with my father on Monday. Even in my forties, I enjoy visiting my dad. Sadly, now that we live on different continents, those visits are rare. That doesn’t mean we do something special every time we hang out, though. Sometimes we just do nothing and while I enjoy all our road trips and special outings, just sitting on the couch to watch a really bad disaster movie is good too.

Just because I am close with my father doesn’t mean he approves of everything I do. I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life and some of my unhappiest memories are of having to admit them to him. Writing Jake with his family helped me appreciate the fact that even though he’d made mistakes—some quite shocking—good family stands by. They provide censure and their teasing can cut like no other, but after the air clears, they’re still there.

Jake’s daughter doesn’t get a lot of page time, but she’s so often in his thoughts, and is, really, his driving purpose in this book. As a mother, I didn’t have to look far for the inspiration for that story line. J I was worried about putting a kid in a book as it can be difficult to balance such an important ‘third character’ when writing a love story. I loved the writing Jake as a father so much, however, that I immediately wrote another book featuring a dad with a teenage daughter, and as I write this post, I’m plotting a book with a dad and son. You could say I’m hooked.


Block and Strike

Kelly Jensen

BSCover600 (1)Publisher ~ Dreamspinner Press 

Published ~ 6th January 2017

Genre ~ Contemporary M/M Romance


4.5 Stars



Jacob Kendricks is three months out of prison, estranged from his daughter, and ready to get his life on track. Taking care of the bum curled up on his doorstep isn’t part of the plan. When he realizes the man has been assaulted, Jake takes him to the hospital, where he learns that Max is his downstairs neighbor… and that he could really use a friend. Keeping Max in the friend-zone would be easier if he wasn’t so damned cute.

Maxwell Wilson has been bullied for years and the only person who ever cared lives too far away to come to his rescue. Now his upstairs neighbor is offering support. Max remains cautious, suspecting he is little more than a project for the handsome Jake. When he learns Jake has had boyfriends as well as girlfriends, Max has to reevaluate his priorities—and muster the courage to take a chance at love.

Just when a happy future is within their grasp, life knocks them back down. A devastating blow leaves Max lower than ever and Jake wrestling with regret. They both have to find the strength to stand on their own before they can stand together.


Purchase Links





Meet Kelly Jensen

If aliens ever do land on Earth, Kelly will not be prepared, despite having read over a hundred stories of the apocalypse. Still, she will pack her precious books into a box and carry them with her as she strives to survive. It’s what bibliophiles do.

Kelly is the author of a number of novels, novellas and short stories, including the Chaos Station series, co-written with Jenn Burke. Some of what she writes is speculative in nature, but mostly it’s just about a guy losing his socks and/or burning dinner. Because life isn’t all conquering aliens and mountain peaks. Sometimes finding a happy ever after is all the adventure we need.




Thanks for following my tour! At the end of every post, I’ll be asking a question. Leave a comment with your answer (and your email address). Every comment throughout the tour counts as an entry in my giveaway. Two winners will each receive $25 (US or equivalent) to spend at the Dreamspinner Press store.

Question: Romances with kids and family, yes or no? (Do all those ‘extras’ annoy you?)



  1. Nope, I'm okay with that - romances with family/kids could add spice to the story. Again, it would depend on how the story and all those extras roll. These extra could lift up the MC's character (single dad with toddler kid is cute, no?) the way they handle and juggle family and romance life. Unless said family/kids are just too darn annoying! ;p

    1. Forgot to put my email addy:
      puspitorinid AT yahoo DOT com

  2. Romances with children in the background are just an accurate representation of today's reality. I have no problem with that ;)
    Congrats on this new release.

    foebz (AT) hotmail (DOT) com

  3. I love books with child(ren) involved. They make romances that extra special, because the MC's don't have to deal with their own feelings, but also with those of the child(ren).
    tankie44 at gmail dot com

  4. In real life, I am not one in touch with motherhood and be all cuddly with kids. But in my romance, oh yes. I enjoy books with children. I find kids can be a great catalyst between the protagonists.


  5. I don't have a problem with kids in books or extra family either.

  6. ...That’s me riding out to my dad’s place every weekend to hang out. He and his wife...

    The words that follows blur like a defected camera lens after reading those lines. With your mother having a mental illness & your father having a new family, I couldn't help but get teary-eyed. I've always have a soft spot for people with mental illnesses which is the main reason why I've loved Carry the Ocean by Heidi Cullinan, Strong Medicine by J.K. Hogan & Boy Banned by R.J. Scott. I know I barely know anything about your family but I... just can't help it. I'm sorry.

    Focusing on the story, I love the irony of Jake's having a family but still facing the challenges Max faces. Like they can commiserate with each other's struggles. Like Max isn't the one targeted by life's claws. Like everyone of us has a croas to bear. Life is unfair & ironically life is fair on that aspect.

    Uhm... What was the question again? Kids & family? Well... The Last Thing He Needs by J.H. Knight is my fave novel of all time so... I think you must know my answer by now.


    1. I put something of myself into all my characters and stories, but I think you've guessed it's more than the usual smidgen with this one. I think that's why Max and Jake resonate so strongly with me and why I care about their story so much!

      I loved The Last Thing He Needs! <3

    2. I can see that. Thank you for sharing these things with us.<3

      I love it when authors lay out the things that made up their novel. Personal touches are I think the best thing there is on creation of stories. They make it more real. Make readers feel more attached with the story like you feel with your MCs.

      Glad to know you liked it. It's hard not to love, anyway. ;)

  7. Great responses so far! Thank you all for the comments - and thanks to Sinfully for hosting me today! <3

  8. It's funny but when I was reading M/F books I disliked children in the stories but with M/M books I really enjoy them. Children seem to add something more to the story and I have no problems with families too.

  9. It depends on the plot, and the kid--not too shrill, but not too cute! (Tariq in Ann Gallagher's ALL THE WRONG PLACES and Susan in Jamie Fessenden's THE CHRISTMAS WAGER are both great ones.)


  10. If the kids/family are well-developed characters and not just plot devices, then, for sure, Yes. But, I really dislike it when a kid is put into a story just to cause problems - especially when they repeatedly do unrealistically stupid or annoying things. Or, on the flip side, kids who are over-the-top perfect & adorable.


  11. Not at all (they do not annoy me). I like when they have a family and kids, it makes things feel more "real". Not that I wouldn't read a book if they don't have them. I like a lot of different kind of stories and variety is what makes things more interesting. ;)

  12. I do like when kids play a role and are not just window dressing. I do sometimes struggle when teens are portrayed as cute and a bit childish - my experience is not that!!! Grumpy and nelly know it all's are more our level - it may be cultural differences

    Littlesuze at hotmail dot com

    1. Agreed. I have a teenager at home. She's so not cute at this age, lol, and would probably plan great evil if I said she was. :D

  13. Kids in romance do not annoy me... I actually like them, because they tend to be more realistic (You have to change your routine so much when kids arrive... and that also involves your relationship with your partner). Congrats on the release. It sounds great

  14. I'm good either way as long as the kids are fleshed out well and fit the story. If they feel forced it's not good.

  15. I love the kids and family in m/m or even m/m/m books it is a more realistic view of human nature besides they make for some of the best characters and in series they become future MC

  16. Kids and family are fine for me in M/M-particularly if it's with a single dad storyline, but I'm not a fan of kids in M/F.

    1. Forgot to add my email, moonangel23 at gmail dot com :-)

  17. I love romances with kids in them! It adds a fun extra dimension to relationships, I find.


  18. Sometimes kids and families add a new dimension and make them well rounded. Other times they are a nuisance. They have to fit the story.
    debby236 at gmail dot com

  19. i love these kinds of stories.....congrats and cant wait to read
    jmarinich33 at aol dot com

  20. Thanks for the post. I have to admit that I don't read many gay novels with kids and family, but I do like to occassionally get away from the many YA/NA aged MCs, and the more mature ones do have a family sometimes, which ups the drama. - Purple Reader
    TheWrote [at] aol [dot] com

  21. Not usually but I won't turn down one that sounds good just because there are kids present in the stories. I just don't like the ones that act very bratty.
    humhumbum AT yahoo DOT com

  22. I enjoy stories that include children and family. violet817(at)aol(dot)com

  23. Usually, yes. I actually love "manny" stories. A few times, though, an annoying kid has made me quit a book. sadbanditbooks[@]gmail[.]com

  24. I'm not going to go out of my way to pick up a kids/family story, but they aren't a deal-breaker either


  25. I actually don't like the kids in my romance books. They tend to not be written realistically and as in real life get in the way of the sexy times.


  26. Yes, if the number of kids is 1 or more much better for me, they are memorable characters, mevalem258 AT gmail DOT com

  27. Thanks for all the great responses! Your comments have been recorded. <3


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