Today I am so pleased to welcome L.B. Gregg to Joyfully Jay. L.B. has come to talk to us about her latest release, With This Bling, the newest in the Romano and Albright series. She is interviewing Caesar and has also brought along a giveaway. Please join me in giving L.B. a big welcome!
Hi. My name is L.B. Gregg and I’m here to celebrate my latest, hilarious addition to the Romano and Albright series— With This Bling. I’m super excited to have a new home for Ce and Dan at Riptide Publishing, and even more thrilled (and relieved!) to have at long last finished the book. Ai yi yi!
Today I’m visiting my pal Caesar Romano, currently seated across from me at Posh Nosh’s new special Reserved table, for a brief Q&A. He’s sipping Diet Coke through a straw and his laughing eyes offer me a bit of challenge before he tinkers with his iPhone. I can handle him. At least, I think so. He’s dressed for the workday in a standard button down/pink tie combo, and his gorgeous dark hair is longer than the last time we met. He’s clean-shaven, but he’s sporting the telltale, smudged remainder of a blackened eye.
Me? I’m sporting a white, eyelet mini skirt, low-top gray converse, and a yellow Front Bottoms t-shirt, thanks for asking. I thought my punk rock style choices for the West Village was on trend, but Caesar appears unimpressed.
A fine-tipped marker in purple and a matching notebook wait on the Formica tabletop, and my rhinestone, cat-eye reading glasses are perched on my nose. “So. How are you, Ce?”
His phone lands face down on the table with a tiny tink and Caesar’s attention focuses one hundred percent on me. Dark eyes framed by sooty lashes, smooth, thick brows, a strong Italian nose, and those perfectly proportioned lips. My heart skips because I just adore him. Also, he’s still too good looking by far and he knows it.
“Fit. Fine. Busy,” he offers. “I don’t remember agreeing to this honor, LB. Sort of awkward, isn’t it? But you know me. I’m a good sport.” Andre the hand model snickers from his workstation behind the bakery case. Caesar either doesn’t hear, or chooses to ignore him. Ce’s expression leaves me wondering if I should be suspicious, because he looks…sly. “First question,” he pipes before I can start with my own line of questioning. “Why in the world did you put that sex toy in—”
“Wait.” I ward off his inquiry with a wave and almost spill my latte. “I’m the interviewer and you’re the interviewee. That’s how this works.” I point between us. “I lead you follow. I’m the boss.”
“If you say so.” His eyebrow quirks, but when I pull a baggie of cookies out of my purse, his interest moves to the treats. “Okay. Fine.” Caesar reaches for the cookies. “Did you make these? Just for me?”
A nod. “My grandmother’s recipe. Save some for Dan.” I check my notes and see a list of questions sent in by readers. I don’t know where to begin, exactly, but I have my pen and I’m ready. “Just spit out the first answer that pops into your head when I ask. We’ll do a quick tit for tat.”
“Not really into tit, as you know, and I don’t know what the fuck a tat is—” Mouth full of cookie. “—but this sort of exchange rings a bell. I think you spend too much time with Albright. He’s pushy like you.”
“And you love it.”
“Well, obviously.” Caesar breaks a second chocolate chip cookie in half, taking care to keep the crumbs on a napkin and he offers the bigger half to me. I decline. “So, what about my questions, LB? Why don’t I ever get any answers?”
“Because I’m afraid of what you’ll ask.” Solid truth and he registers this with a sigh and a shrug, followed by another sip of Diet Coke. I smile. “You’ll love this. Promise. Readers adore you. Let’s just relax and have some fun.”
He looks skeptical but allows me to continue. “I have about three minutes.”
“Great. I can work with that. Macaroni or cheese?”
He pushes his empty glass away. “What kind of question is macaroni or cheese? Show me where a reader asked that.” He peers at my notebook and I hold it out of view.
“It’s just a warm up. I was kidding. Uh. Favorite meal?”
“Breakfast,” he answers easily.
“No. Like—what is your favorite food?”
I knew that one so don’t bother to jot anything down. Sunshine streams through Posh Nosh’s plate glass window, and with light music playing over the speakers, and the smattering of customers chatting, the place feels cheery and vibrant. There’s a cake saver full of pink-frosted cupcakes, and silvery spinning stools line the lunch counter. A chalkboard announces today’s special—Curried Chicken Salad.
Caesar asks, “Republican or Democrat?”
“No questions regarding personal politics or religion—”
“Lapsed Catholic. That’s too easy. Top or bottom, LB?”
A glare. My eyes wander to his neck, which I could throttle, and I’m reminded that Caesar is probably still wearing a tiny, protective medallion under his buttoned shirt and pink tie combo. “Do you have your St. Christopher?”
“Don’t give everything away, LB. Save something for the book.”
“Right. Fine. Okay next. Favorite band—or no. What’s the last song you listened to this morning on your way to work?”
“Panic! At the Disco’s ‘Victorious’—”
“I love that song.” We share a kindred moment because pop is fun. Of course, the instant I think we’re on track, Ce reaches for his messenger bag. “Let’s play a new game called, ‘What’s My Next Book About? And Will I Survive in One Piece?’”
I review my notes. “Mets or Yankees?”
“Mets.” He digs inside the canvas satchel while I wonder how many condoms are in his infamous bag today.
I ask, “Fame or fortune?”
“Where would you vacation if you could go anywhere?” I know the answer to this as well, so I sip my latte.
Caesar unearths a thin, blue-plaid pen and a matching notebook. The notebook is small, and fat, and ominous. He answers absently, “A vacation? If I could anywhere? London.”
“I want to see Big Ben. You could write Romano and Albright Abroad and apply your world travel knowledge and experience. Why am I stuck in New York? I’m ready.” He resumes ransacking. “I have a passport now. And a new ID. I look good.” He shows me a laminated NY driver’s license and because anything would be better than his former, mustached photo, I have to agree. He carefully returns his license to the proper section of his bag.
I remind him, “You were supposed to say Rome, Ce. Or Italy. I have that written down in here.” I tap my notebook, otherwise known as The Bible of Ce and Dan and where things cannot be questioned.
“No fucking way. I want to go on a Harry Potter tour. Ride in one of those black cabs and see the places where they shot the films. Diagon Alley. And Platform 9 ¾.”
I …couldn’t even process this request, saying lamely, “But that sounds so expensive.” Caesar’s smile dims and I reevaluate my comfortable plans for the future. “I don’t know, maybe? I don’t know. Does Albright even know anything about Harry Potter?” I’d never thought about it. “He seems—”
“Sort of old. Right? Well, so are you and you like Harry Potter.”
“Oh snap.” Ouch.
“He identifies with Snape. And he’s warming to the idea. Romano and Albright Abroad. That would be fun. Think it over.” Clearly those two were in cahoots.
“But…” I look around Posh Nosh. “What about your job and Poppy? And Nana? You’d have to take time off.” My head whirls with possibility and not just a little fear. “And…well there would be no other Romanos or Albrights in London.”
“Make it work, LB,” Ce says with the finality of a Tim Gunn sound bite. “Here. I’ve made a list.”
Taken completely aback, I can do nothing but gape as he pushes his notebook across the smooth tabletop. There are pink, blue, yellow, orange, and neon green Post-its sticking out, all orderly, and decorative clips holding, well, clippings inside. Impending panic descends and I’m afraid to touch the thing. “You should store your notes in your phone. Siri, take a note kind of thing.”
“You know I’ll just break it. And this coordinates with the pocket calendar I ordered on Etsy.” He clicks a matching pen. “See. It’s a set. But this is for you. So you can write the next book. I’ve had time to think about this and I’ve taken the liberty—”
“Yes, I see that.”
“—of jotting a few ideas and expectations—”
“Like a list of demands—”
“And I want you to make sure we stay in a nice hotel. Something with room service. And toast racks. Nothing shabby.”
“I—” I blink and finally summon the courage to leaf through his journal. I had reason for concern. There were indeed a few notes. I see titles. Christmas in Staten Island. The Russian Spy Thing. Meanie’s Last Pole Dance. What in the fuck? I flip another page. Sweet Jesus. Gunter’s Wedding. “You’re insane.”
“Someone needed to be working.”
My face burns as I turn another page and find bullet points under the heading Sexual Proclivities and I slap the book shut. “Uh. I don’t think this is a good idea.”
“Look.” His eyes gleam and he pats my hand like I’m over wrought, which I am. His skin is warm. His nails are neat. And I want to grab my shit and put the last year of training to work. I could out run him, even in Converse. He says not unkindly, “You waited too long between books. I haven’t aged, but time passed and with nothing to do…I got antsy. So, flip through these notes, and see if anything sparks your imagination. Get back to me.”
Caesar Romano picks up his tortoise shell encased iPhone and I knew we were done. He is dismissing me, the dick, but honestly I feel relief. Vinyl crinkles as he exits the booth and the smell of chocolate and coffee fills my head when he lands a soft peck on my cheek. He straightens his tie and with a wink, he says, “I gotta get back to work, babe. You too. Don’t take to long. Time to get cracking.”
Caesar Romano’s catering career is doing better than he’d ever dreamed. And so is his love life—even if his boyfriend’s house in Staten Island is way too far from civilization for his liking. But then in short order, Caesar is duped into helping his cousin propose, is tricked by his best friend and business partner into appearing on live television, and is harassed by a thug-like personal trainer and his far too beautiful wife. In fact, Caesar is almost too busy to notice that something is troubling his PI boyfriend, Dan Albright.
Laid-back, open, charming—that’s the impression hunky former NYPD Detective Dan Albright gives everyone. Caesar can add sexually adventurous and a bit of an exhibitionist. But he also knows that Dan is hiding something—something dark and a little dangerous—and when Dan’s silence over his mysterious past threatens to harm them both, it’s Caesar’s turn to save the day.
But then again, a break-in, a gallery party, an heirloom ring, a new suit, and a stalker with bad BO are all just a typical week for Caesar Romano.
When not working from her home in the rolling hills of Northwestern Connecticut, author L.B. Gregg can be spotted in coffee shops from Berlin to Singapore to Panama–sipping lattes and writing sweet, hot, often funny, stories about men who love men.
For more info on L.B., because surely one can never get too much of a good thing, you can follow her on her preferred social media, Facebook. You can also e-mail L.B. at lbgregg at lbgregg dot com, visit her website www.lbgregg.com, be her GoodReads pal or follow her sporadic appearances on twitter.
To celebrate the release of With This Bling, L.B. Gregg is giving away a Romano and Albright mug with swag, and a $40 gift card to Amazon! Your first comment at each stop on this tour enters you in the drawing. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on December 12, 2015. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. Entries. Follow the tour for more opportunities to enter the giveaway! Don’t forget to leave your email or method of contact so Riptide can reach you if you win!
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