Carina Press is celebrating m/m romance this week with six new releases.  The authors of these stories are holding a M/M Week blog tour to spread the word and Joyfully Jay is lucky enough to be one of the hosts.  

Today I am super excited to welcome Larry Benjamin, author of the new book What Binds Us.  Larry is joining us to talk more about the role of music in his book.  He is also bringing an ENORMOUS giveaway of ALL SIX M/M RELEASES from this week.  So read along and be sure to comment below for a chance to win.

Welcome Larry!

I like all kinds of music and listen to music a lot, usually too loudly. And I sing along, also too loudly, and off-key. Yet I don’t listen to music when I’m writing because it distracts me. I’d never stopped to consider the combination of music and writing until my editor told me she thought my book needed to be more firmly grounded in its time period—the late 70s to early 80s. She suggested including references to fashion, current events and music.

Now you may recall fashion at the time was, in a word, appalling. Still I wrote a scene where Dondi and Thomas-Edward, the two main characters, go to New York and visit the legendary Fiorrucci store on 59th street, buying those overpriced, over-dyed jeans in their iconic metal canisters. Referencing current events worked well but it was the idea of referencing music that really excited me. After all, everyone knows music can remind you of a first kiss, a favorite movie or a forgotten childhood moment, and scientists have proven our brains hold memories that can be triggered by our senses?especially by hearing sound and music. And, I’d used a reference to Gloria Gaynor’s anthemic I Will Survive to anchor the story to the dawning of the AIDS pandemic: “The nation for which Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” had been a dance anthem was now a dying nation. The reign of the Queen was over; the Snap Divas had folded their hands and gone quietly to the gym, replacing gestures with muscle.”

I got to work researching the top 100 albums and songs of each year covered by the book. I came across songs I hadn’t heard in years but whose words, whose melodies I still knew. One album, Randy Crawford’s Raw Silk was an old favorite; rediscovering it was like running into an old friend, long unmet, on the street unexpectedly. Endlessly had been my favorite track back when it was released but I rediscovered the magnificent Where There was Darkness. And remembered loneliness. Now, I listened to that particular track over and over again, remembering the kid I had been.

So it’s probably no surprise that Where There was Darkness became the central defining song of the book: representative of the relationship between Matthew and Thomas-Edward. They hear the song while passing a record store and buy the album. By weaving the song into the story, I was able not only to anchor the story to the time period, but also to articulate their relationship and how each saw the other.

After edits were completed and What Binds Us went into production I started concentrating on writing my next book. But, that album, the songs on it, continued to play in my head. I finally ordered the Raw Silk CD from Amazon only to discover it was out of print. I was heartbroken but persistent in my search; it took months but I finally tracked down a copy, paying $95 for it.

Listening to Where There was Darkness brings back memories of Saturday nights in my dorm room, my roommates away at track meets or out with girlfriends while I, alone, listened to Randy sing and wondered when he, a boy like me, would come bringing with him light and love to lead me out of the dark loneliness of my virginity, my untried heart; he would, I dreamed, take me by the hand and pull me into the bright happiness of a partnered future. Now those memories are overlaid by the amazing love story of Thomas-Edward and Matthew, becoming what researchers call a “super-memory” so that henceforth, Where There was Darkness will evoke memories of a lonely college sophomore and a tale of an incredible love and this writer’s amazing journey.

Where There was Darkness then, along with Rose Royce’s Ohh Boy, Donna Summers’ MacArthur Park and Teena Marie’s I Need Your Lovin’ form the soundtrack of my college years. What songs would you include in the soundtrack of your life?


A glance at the six books coming out from Carina this week makes me amazed at the scope of our corner of the romance world. The settings span centuries, from long ago in Ava March’s 1822 London story of class boundaries stretched and Erastes’s evocation of light and art in Florence in 1875, to not so long ago, with Larry Benjamin’s chronicle of young love in the 1970s and 80s and all the way to Kim Knox’s story of passion in dystopian 2050. Dev Bentham’s story is set in the present with love finally found, as is KC Burn’s tale of a relationship rekindled. Our protagonists are artists and aristocrats, pickpockets and soldiers, all steaming hot.

A Brush With Darkness by Erastes
Brook Street: Thief by Ava March
Moving in Rhythm by Dev Bentham
Bitter Harvest by Kim Knox
First Time, Forever by KC Burn
What Binds Us by Larry Benjamin

Just leave a comment on this post to enter to win an ebook bundle of all 6 releases in Carina’s M/M Week.

Check out the other stops along the tour!

3/19 – Dev Bentham at Fiction Vixen
3/19 – Ava March at The Macaronis
3/20 – Larry Benjamin at Joyfully Jay
3/21 – Kim Knox at Rarely Dusty Books
3/22 – Erastes at The Macaronis
3/23 – KC Burn at Babbling About Books, and More

So, who is interest in winning all six of the new releases?  If you are, be sure to leave a comment in the post below.  The contest closes on Friday, March 23 at 11:59 pm EST.  


  • By entering the contest, you’re confirming that you are at least 18 years old.
  • Winners will be selected by random number.
  • If you win, you must respond to my email within 48 hours or another winner will be chosen. Please make sure that your spam filter allows email from Joyfully Jay and leave your email address if it is not in your profile.



%d bloggers like this: