Today I am so pleased to welcome Karen Stivali to Joyfully Jay. Karen has come as part of our Beach Read Bonanza to talk to us about her book, Moment Of Truth (Book two of the Moments In Time series). She has also brought along two great giveaways. Please join me in giving Karen a big welcome!
I’m not a typical “beach person.” Bright sunlight hurts my eyes and gives me wicked headaches. I tend to wilt in the heat. And the high SPF sunscreen I require to keep my pale skin from turning lobster-red usually means I sparkle like a reject from the Twilight extras cast.
None of that makes me love the beach any less.
There’s only been one summer in my entire lifetime that I didn’t wind up spending at least a week at the beach and the fact that the beach-week was missing made it feel like there was no summer that year. That’s how attached I am to the beach. It marks time. I know what time of year it is by thinking about how long it’s been since I’ve gone to the beach and how long it will be until I go again. That week of sand and surf and boardwalk and curly fries and salt water taffy and midnight strolls along the water’s edge is part of who I am.
It’s not so much about being on vacation from work (particularly since I became a writer, because honestly since I started writing there hasn’t been a single trip anywhere that didn’t involve me working part—or all–of the time), it’s about the different lifestyle at the beach. There’s a freedom to it. Most beach goers wear things out and about that they wouldn’t consider being seen in public in anywhere else. I live in a small town and I work at home as a full-time author. I’ve been known to run an errand in my pajamas (they’re nice pajamas, no different from yoga pants, but I still know they’re my PJs) so I’m no slave to fashion or decorum, but in my home town I wouldn’t go to the grocery store with wet hair or sandy flip-flops. I wouldn’t go out to dinner in an oversized T-shirt covering a still-damp bathing suit. I also wouldn’t get up early just to go for a walk. But I do all of those things at the beach. Why? Because the rules are different there. And some of the rules are that there are no rules. The pace is slower. The expectations are different. Maybe it’s because so many people there are on vacation, but I don’t think so because the locals seem to have that feeling year-round.
The freedom I’m talking about is part of what I love about my annual beach vacation. It’s also the reason I chose a beach setting for the second book in my Moments In Time series. In book one, MOMENT OF IMPACT, Collin and Tanner are college roommates who fall in love and are forced to face the fact that not everyone in their lives is comfortable with their sexuality. In book two, MOMENT OF TRUTH, they spend their summer on Fire Island, away from their conservative college town and all the judgment that come with it. Why Fire Island? In part because Fire Island has long been known to be LGBT friendly and in part because being at the beach—any beach—is different from being anywhere else. Collin and Tanner needed a break and a chance to be together without judgment. And what better way to spend a college summer than sharing a beach house with a bunch of people while you earn money working at the popular local dining establishments? For them, the summer is filled with new experiences and a chance to be who they are. For me, it was a chance to relive my own summer beach memories.
Here’s an excerpt of their summer adventure (leave a comment below with your favorite summer beach memory and one random commenter will win a copy of MOMENT OF IMPACT or the title of their choice from my backlist):
Walking into Dylan’s General Store was like stepping back in time. The wooden floors were old and bare. Half the customers were wearing flip-flops, while the other half remained barefoot. Sand had been tracked everywhere. For a tiny shop, they had an amazing stock of food. Baskets of fresh fruits and veggies, artisan bread, every herb I could name. Deli case full of cheeses and smoked meat plus a butcher case.
“What are you thinking for dinner?” I asked.
Tanner shrugged. “You know me, I’ll eat anything.”
I scanned the shelves. “Okay, how about pasta with meatballs? And maybe some of those pies over there for dessert. French toast for breakfast? Everyone should like French toast, right?”
“Who do you think is going to do all this cooking?”
“Me.” The stunned look on Tanner’s face amused the hell out of me.
“You can make all that?”
“And plenty more. Gino lets me cook a lot. I know my way around a kitchen.”
“Awesome.” Tanner reached for a jar of ready-made tomato sauce, but I shook my head.
“We can do way better than jarred.” I tossed fresh garlic and a bunch of basil into my basket along with cans of crushed tomatoes and a package of ground beef. I’d seen plenty of pasta in the pantry at the house. We picked up several loaves of fresh crusty bread, milk and eggs, brown sugar, enough butter for the French toast, and some homemade garlic bread.
The produce looked amazing so I picked out some tomatoes and cucumbers for salad along with some mixed baby greens, and raspberries and blueberries to go with the French toast.
“What kind of pie did you get?”
Tanner had four pie boxes in his hands. “Mixed berry, apple, strawberry rhubarb, and peach. I think we need some vanilla ice cream too.”
I couldn’t wait for dinner. Tanner hadn’t ever seen me cook before. I was looking forward to it. I hoped like hell I got stuff right and he liked the food.
After we paid we shoved all the perishable stuff into the big cooler and wheeled the wagon home, making it into the house just in time to miss an afternoon thunderstorm. Huge raindrops poured down, turning the deck from light to dark gray as we unpacked the food. I went to work cooking. Chopping garlic nice and small for the tomato sauce, cutting up the cucumbers so they could marinate in some vinegar. I wanted everything perfect.
I put half the garlic in the big stockpot with some olive oil, sautéed it until it was fragrant, then added in the tomato paste, stirring just until it started taking on a deeper color. The crushed tomatoes went in last with a canful of water, a half dozen fresh basil leaves ripped into pieces, and the lid so it could all simmer until the flavors merged and formed one new, better one.
I cut the tips off the other heads of garlic, put them in a small ceramic dish, covered them in olive oil, then wrapped them tightly in foil and set them to roast in a hot oven. While they were cooking, I made the meatballs.
Tanner came in and sat at the table, watching. “Jesus, you actually know what you’re doing.”
I grinned. “Imagine that.”
“You know what I mean. I’ve lived with you a whole year, and I had no clue you could cook. How’d that happen?”
“If we’d had a kitchen, you’d know. Trust me. I’d have cooked for you all the time.”
“Sex and cooking all in one place? I’d never leave the house.”
I laughed, knowing he was serious. “Then my plan’s working, because I don’t want you leaving the house tonight.”
“Good, because I’d kinda planned to spend the whole night in our room.”
Moments In Time: Books 1-3
Moment of Impact
Beyond Collin Fitzpatrick’s dorm room, the students of his conservative college think he’s straight, as does his Catholic family, who’d disown him if they learned the truth. Inside, he’s safe with his sexy roommate Tanner D’Amico. Tanner wants to show the world how much he loves Collin, but Collin’s not sure he’s ready for the impact stepping outside will make.
Moment of Truth
Collin expected to spend another summer fixing cars and working at the college pizzeria. Instead, he’s living in a beach house on Fire Island, and for the first time, he and Tanner can publicly be known as boyfriends. Being “out” takes some getting used to, and doubt and jealousy threaten their happiness. Collin and Tanner must confront the truth or risk losing it all.
Moment of Clarity
Spending the summer on Fire Island brought Collin and Tanner closer than ever, but back in their conservative college town, new challenges confront them.
When Collin’s relationship with Tanner becomes an issue in his brother’s custody battle and Tanner struggles with feelings for his heartbroken friend Wendy, Collin wonders if everyone would be better off without him. In order to save them both, Tanner must make it clear his love for Collin is all that matters.
Karen Stivali is a prolific writer, compulsive baker and chocoholic with a penchant for books, movies, and fictional British men. She’s also the multiple award-winning author of contemporary and erotic romances. She writes novels about love…like real life, only hotter.
Karen has brought a great giveaway to share. One lucky commenter will win a copy of Moment of Impact or any other book off her backlist). Just leave a comment at the end of the post to enter. The contest ends on Sunday, June 20th at 11:59 pm EST.
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