Today I am so pleased to welcome Amy Jo Cousins to Joyfully Jay. Amy Jo Cousins has come to talk to us about her latest release, Between a Rock and a Hard Place. She has also brought along a great giveaway. Please join me in giving AJ a big welcome!

EXPRESS YOURSELF ~ Feminine Men in LGBTQ Romance

One of the things I wanted to explore in Hard Candy (the second of the two novellas in Between a Rock and a Hard Place) was the extra layer of prejudice that exists for men who express themselves in less than stereotypically masculine ways. The POV hero of Hard Candy is Vincent Lim, an out athlete who is still looking for the approval of his parents, people who are not super comfortable with his being gay. As long as Vinnie works hard and eventually marries someone from the right kind of family, however—as long as he accepts the rest of their traditional expectations of him—his parents will deal with the fact that that someone is a man.

Vinnie, of course, meets and falls for Bryan Latimer, a lip gloss-wearing dancer who loves silk robes, booty shorts, and yoga and has no time for anyone who wants him to “tone it down”. Bryan is someone who has already been through the fire in his youth, and has come out the other side determined to be true to himself. He is not at all the type of man Vinnie ever expected to be with and Vinnie’s missteps in their developing relationship are legion.

In Hard Candy, Vinnie’s main challenge is to get past some of his own internalized prejudice. While he believes himself to be supportive of gay men of all kinds, it turns out that Vinnie is really only intellectually okay with all the ways gay men may choose to present themselves. He is still suffering from being raised in a family that heavily emphasized “appropriate” behavior and his own negative reactions to Bryan’s flamboyant style catch him off guard. Getting to know Bryan and witnessing some of the harassment Bryan experiences is an eye-opener for Vinnie, whose own life involves much less personal experience with prejudice.

As much as it may be acceptable today for rock stars to wear guyliner and for movie stars’ kids to sport skirts for couture fashion houses, for the average gay man, life is still more likely to slap you in the face if your gender expression leans toward the feminine. And it’s not a problem limited to gay men. Because our culture as a whole devalues anything associated with femininity, all men are more likely to suffer pushback from society if they expressive themselves in stereotypically feminine ways, regardless of how they identify.

As the mother of a young son, I am deeply invested in making sure that my kid and his friends, the boys and the girls, grow up feeling okay with expressing themselves in whatever ways they choose. And I think they’re well on their way. At my son’s birthday party last year, the mixed boy-girl group was playing with an iPad app that let them take pictures of each other and draw funny stuff on top of the images. At one point, one of the boys mock-threatened another boy, “Don’t do that or I’ll draw you in a dress!” Before I could blink, a third boy said, “Don’t be sexist. There’s nothing wrong with wearing a dress.”

So I think we’re getting there. Can’t wait to see the stories we’ll be reading!

I would love to see more feminine men represented in LGBTQ romance, because anything that fucks with binaries is all right by me. Some of my favorite books in this vein include:

    • Solace Ames’s The Submission Gift, a diverse, kinky, poly romance with a sometimes-feminine bi guy.
    • Fae Sutherland’s Gambling on Maybe, a light-hearted novella about Zach, who carries a purse and loves sparkle, and a closeted cop.
    • Edie Danford’s Uncovering Ray has a titular character who plays with gender expression via makeup and clothes.
    • KA Mitchell’s Eli in Bad Boyfriend is fierce in spirit, often flamboyant, and very interested in fucking with het expectations.
    • Heidi Cullinan’s Winter Wonderland features a feminine gay man who has conversations about negative treatment he’s received because of that.
    • Heidi Belleau’s Wallflower is about Bobby, who is experimenting with cross-dressing, androgyny, and other gender expressions.

Have you read a romance with a feminine man as the hero? Tell me about it! I’d love to read more.


Between a Rock and a Hard PlaceWhen friends lose the benefits, can the friendship be saved?

Love Me Like A Rock

With the right art tools, there’s almost nothing Austin can’t make real. Except an official relationship with his best friend, rowing teammate and occasional hookup, Vinnie.

Emotional and sexual frustration fuel a spark between Austin and Sean, the nude model in drawing class. After a quick and very dirty encounter, all the reasons Austin has been waiting for Vinnie go fuzzy in his mind.

But if Austin can’t get his head and his heart on the same page, he could lose both his friend, and his lover.

Hard Candy

Vincent always assumed he and Austin would eventually end up together. But now that Austin’s in love with another man, Vinnie is at a loss.

After the world’s most awkward one-night stand with Bryan, a dance major, Vinnie is drawn to his vibrant spirit and calm center.

Physically, the rowing jock and the glittery dancer can match each other stroke for booty pop. But for the lovers to meet on common ground, they’ll have to find a way to get moving in the same direction.

Warning: Contains a pushy cox, an uptight rower, a rock-steady rock geek, and a dancer who looks fabulous in a skirt. The difference between friends with benefits and just friends is easier to figure out when tent sex and yoga lessons are on the line.


Amy Jo CousinsAmy 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 Between a Rock and a Hard Place to give away to one lucky reader. Just leave a comment at the end of the post to enter. The contest ends on Thursday, March 31st at 11:59 pm EST.

    • By entering the giveaway, you’re confirming that you are at least 18 years old.
    • Winners will be selected by random number. No purchase necessary to win.  The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning.
    • If you win, you must respond to my email within 48 hours or another winner may be chosen. Please make sure that your spam filter allows email from Joyfully Jay.
    • Winners may be announced on the blog following the contest. By entering the contest you are agreeing to allow your name to be posted and promoted as the contest winner by Joyfully Jay.
    • Prizes will be distributed following the giveaway either by Joyfully Jay or the person/organization donating the prize.
    • All book prizes are in electronic format unless otherwise specified.
    • By entering you are agreeing to hold Joyfully Jay harmless if the prize or giveaway in some way negatively impacts the winner.
    • Readers may only enter once for each contest.  Duplicate entries for the same giveaway will be ignored. In the event of technical problems with the blog during the contest, every effort will be made to extend the contest deadline to allow for additional entries.
    • Void where prohibited by law.
FILED UNDER: Giveaway, Guest Post
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