Today I am so pleased to welcome Amy Jo Cousins to Joyfully Jay. Amy Jo has come to talk to us about her latest release, Nothing Like Paris (which I reviewed earlier this week and loved). She has also brought along…. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
You Can’t Go Home Again…Or Can You?
In NOTHING LIKE PARIS, one of my main characters has made a ton of really bad choices, and the consequences are real. For Jack, one of the hardest things to deal with is that he has to go home again, to the small farm town in Iowa that he escaped from with the intention of never looking back.
I love books where characters go back home after a long time away. It fascinates me to see people back in the place from which they came, dealing with the expectations of people who knew them way back when, especially if they’re different today. Nora Roberts was my introduction to the trope, long before I ever thought about writing it! Her glamorous, rebellious Margo who comes home to family in disgrace after the collapse of her modeling career in the Dream trilogy. Cameron Quinn, the international race car driver who comes home to the Chesapeake Bay after his adopted father is mortally injured, and stays to help raise the boy his father had taken in, resenting the loss of his jetsetting ways the entire time. These were some of my favorite books!
I tend to snap up books with this plot without hesitation, and was thrilled to discover some of my favorite m/m romances revolve around it, too.
One of the earliest Josh Lanyon books I read was Lone Star, about the ballet dancer who comes back home to the Lone Star state and reconnects with his ex, who is now a Texas Ranger. Mitch has so many assumptions about how he’ll be treated back home as an out, gay ballet dancer, and has to readjust as he and Web spend time with Web’s family and co-workers. I love how this books works out the practicality of having two people with diverging career paths, who both decide they value their roots enough to want to stay connected to home.
ZA Maxfield’s My Cowboy Homecoming deals with another character coming home and having to interact with people who have a good reason to hate him for what his family’s done. Lucho Reyes isn’t prepared to do anything other than hate Tripp for what Tripp’s father did before he was sent to prison. And Tripp isn’t thrilled to be home and wonders constantly if leaving again would be the solution to all his troubles. Tripp’s road to figuring out how to do the right thing isn’t an easy one, but watching his and Lucho’s angry interactions turn to a grudging friendship and then more was right up my alley.
In M.J. O’Shea’s Coming Home, one of the main characters was a bully in his youth, and is now home again, pretty much at rock bottom. Tally doesn’t even recognize Lex, the man who hires him but runs hot and cold with his treatment of Tally, as the kid he bullied in high school. I bow down to MJ O’Shea for writing this book. Writing about a bully is hard enough! Getting the ex-bully into a relationship with one of his victims? Talk about a challenge. A really interesting book with a character who has a long way to go to prove himself.
Anyone who interacts with me on social media will know what a rabid KJ Charles fangirl I am. Her Magpie series is one of my absolute favorites. Stephen Crane in The Magpie Lord? Talk about coming home from a long way away. Lord Crane is a take-no-prisoners, “I don’t give a damn what you think” man, who isn’t prepared to give an inch in the face of the people on his family’s estate who assume he’s just like his evil, abuse father and brother were. After living in exile in China for twenty years, he’s only back home to deal with his family estate after the mysterious deaths of his father and brother. For Crane, returning “home” is more about how uncomfortable he is to be back in the restrictive English society in general than it is about dealing specifically with his family home. The society as a whole does not welcome him, and he doesn’t want to be there period. But the pull of Stephen Day is enough to make him consider dealing with his homeland, no matter how little he likes it now. A fabulous series!
Heidi Cullinan’s Let It Snow is a little lighter on the angst. In this book, Frankie isn’t back in his own hometown, but he’s stuck (during a blizzard! Another favorite trope!) with grumpy strangers in the kind of small town he ran off to the city to avoid. This is a more light-hearted look at going home, since Frankie isn’t returning to his own hometown, but rather prejudging a similar town until he gets to know it better. Besides, Marcus being the grouchiest of all grouches, and then mellowing around Frankie, is just too much fun to read not to recommend it here.
In NOTHING LIKE PARIS, I sent Jack Tarkington back home because I thought that would be the most stressful thing imaginable for Jack. Plus, I was pretty sure there was a totally awesome guy back home. Miguel wasn’t waiting for Jack—he never thought he’d see his ex-best friend back home again—and he tries not to get involved with Jack for a second time. But we all know how that’s going to work out…
Humble pie wasn’t supposed to taste this sweet.
Bend or Break, Book 2
Jack Tarkington’s life is in the toilet. He was supposed to be spending his junior year studying someplace cool like Paris or Rome. Instead, after taking out his anger on the campus “golden boy”, whose dad ripped off his parents, Jack is facing possible expulsion.
Sure, it’s all his own fault, but coming back to the small Iowa town he thought he’d escaped, after crowing about his admission to a prestigious school, has been a humbling experience.
When he runs into Miguel, Jack braces for backlash over the way he lorded it over his old friend and flame. Instead, Miguel offers him friendship—and a job at his growing farm-to-table store and café.
Against the odds, both guys bond over broken dreams and find common ground in music. But when Jack’s college gives him a second chance, he’s torn between achieving a dream that will take him far from home, and a love that strikes a chord he’ll never find anywhere else.
Warning: This book contains a humbled guy who’s on the brink of losing it all, a determined entrepreneur who seems to have it all together, apologies issued through banjo-picking duets, and two lovers who can play each other’s bodies like virtuosos.
Amy Jo Cousins writes contemporary romance and erotica about smart people finding their own best kind of smexy. She lives in Chicago with her son, where she tweets too much, sometimes runs really far, and waits for the Cubs to win the World Series.
Amy Jo has brought a copy of Nothing Like Paris to give away to one lucky reader. Just leave a comment at the end of the post to enter. The contest ends on Monday, March 9th at 11:59 pm EST.
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