Today I am so pleased to welcome Renae Kaye to Joyfully Jay. Renae has come to talk to us about her latest release, Safe in His Heart. She has also brought along an exclusive excerpt and a copy to give away. Please join me in giving Renae a big welcome!
I have a friend who has admitted to me that if I put children in a book, she just can’t read it. So in the interests of full disclosure, Safe in His Heart (Safe #2) has children in it, and also the daily life of raising children when both of their primary carers have fulltime jobs.
I didn’t set out to write an M/M Romance that had children in it. I had to write it because I’d written myself into a corner.
I wrote Safe in His Arms (Safe #1) with no intention of making it a series. My best friend is my beta reader, and she contacted me the day after I gave her the book to read and said, “Okay. Now where is Paul’s story?”
Yeah. She didn’t even tell me what she thought of Safe #1 – just demands for more, more, more. **sigh** Best friends, huh?
But I had no idea what she was talking about. Paul was just… Paul. He wasn’t meant to be a main character in another book. He was… Paul.
But the more I thought about it, the more the story came to me. But by that time I was stuck. I’d already written Safe #1 and had specified several things about Paul and Andrew. I couldn’t change them or else some eagle-eyed reader would notice. What I had to work with was a great character in Paul… but what seemed like a morally corrupt character in Andrew. The information that Paul had let slip about Andrew was at he was married, in the closet, had two small kids, and was great in bed. Still, I have faith in my characters. If Paul had fallen in love with Andrew, he had to have something about him that was redeeming.
Paul had also told Lon and Casey that Andrew loved his two kids. It was from this Andrew’s personality grew in my mind. This man was no heartless slimeball who was cheating on his wife while she cried at home. This was a man who two small people called ‘Daddy’ with love and affection.
It’s not true that only women want children. Men long to be fathers, and gay men are no different to this. Andrew’s decision to have children was more because he thought it would provide him with a better façade and make him look straight, but once they were born, they became the most important thing in his life. There is one stage in the story where he makes it clear he would give up everything for his children. Even Paul.
Andrew is hiding behind a straight marriage of convenience which begins to unravel during the story. A marriage breakup is always going to be stressful. When there are kids involved, it becomes a balancing act. After his wife leaves, Andrew has to work out how to look after his two small children on his own until she comes back for them. He ends up asking Paul for help – he trusts Paul, and when one of the kids get sick, who better to call upon than a nurse?
Up until then, Andrew was very successful in keeping his two lives separate. His wife didn’t know about his secret gay lover, Paul had never met the children, and nowhere did they intersect. The excerpt I’ve chosen to share with you is one of my favourite parts of the book. It’s Paul’s first meeting of Andrew’s children. After Andrew tells Paul about his wife leaving, Paul visits Andrew to help him deal with the shock and hurt in a time-worn manner… with alcohol. The excerpt is the next morning.
I hope you enjoy Safe in His Heart (Safe #2) and Andrew and Paul’s challenging journey in order to be together.
Movement near his head woke Paul the next morning. He groaned, cracked an eyelid, and blinked in the unfamiliar light. Being a shift worker, he had light-blocking shutters in his bedroom and he always slept in complete darkness. Waking to light wasn’t his usual way to come out of unconsciousness.
The next thing he realized was that his back and neck were aching—exactly as if he’d slept on an uncomfortable couch. Not Lon’s lounge chair, which was heavenly, but an uncomfortable couch. He opened both eyes and squinted. Then he realized he was on an uncomfortable couch. Andrew’s. The one that looked expensive, pretty, and blended nicely with its surroundings, but was as hard as two planks of wood bolted together. Why did rich people spend so much money on stuff that wasn’t even comfortable?
He painfully turned his head and collided with bright hazel eyes—Andrew’s eyes—staring out from the face of a child. It could be none other than his son. But he was standing all of a foot from Paul’s head, and he must have been staring down at Paul while he slept.
The boy was small, and his finger was poked into his dribbly mouth as he surveyed Paul with an unchanging expression. Paul tried to smile, although he was sure it was not convincing.
The boy’s features didn’t move. He stared more. Paul became aware of more things. Like the fact that the boy didn’t smell so sweet. His wet nappy needed changing. There was also the fact that it was morning, and Paul was still at Andrew’s house. He didn’t know how Andrew would feel about that one.
He pushed himself upright and ran his hands over his face. He’d gotten Andrew super drunk the night before, but he had stuck to three beers so one of them would be sober. He didn’t know if he was going to have to drive home or not, so he decided he’d let the alcohol pour Andrew’s way.
At midnight he helped a drunken Andrew to his bed and then flopped down on the couch from hell for a nap. He planned to sneak out before anyone was awake, but it seemed his plans had been foiled.
The little boy hadn’t moved apart from tilting his head up to look at Paul face when Paul sat up.
Paul smiled at him again. He really was a cute little kid, and his resemblance to Andrew made Paul’s heart melt. He was going to be a handsome boy, like his daddy. He was dressed in wrinkled blue shorts and a matching short-sleeved jacket that had a picture of a snoring dragon on it. The blue shorts were stretched around an obviously full nappy.
“Hello,” Paul tried again. “What’s your name?”
The boy removed the finger from his mouth so he could speak. “Germy.” He popped the finger straight back in, allowing a flow of drool to trickle from the corner of his lips. Drool was nothing new to Paul.
“Germy?” he asked. The boy nodded, and Paul finally remembered his name was Jeremy. Going by the drool, perhaps Germy was a better one.
“Well, Germy. Is your daddy awake yet?” Jeremy shook his head solemnly. So Paul said, “What about your sister?” Jeremy solemnly shook his head and looked sad. Playing alone was evidently a disappointment for a two-year-old. He sighed. “All righty, then. I guess it’s only us who are up with the larks. Or is that the sparrows? I never remember. Since I have no idea what a lark looks like, I guess I’m not up with them. What do you think?”
Jeremy blinked once but didn’t answer. Paul laughed and reached out to ruffle his hair. “Sorry, buddy. A bit beyond you. I know. I’m Paul, by the way. I’m a friend of your daddy. How about you show me where the toilet is, because I need to go really badly, and then we can go and see if we can get Daddy up. Hmm?”
It took a second prompting, but Jeremy led the way to the part of the house Paul hadn’t seen the night before. Jeremy stopped at a doorway, his finger still stuck firmly in his mouth, and pointed to the commode with his spare hand.
“Great job, Germy. Thanks. I need to go.”
He stepped inside the small room, and Jeremy followed.
“Uhh… toilets are for one person at a time, buddy.” He smiled. “How about you stand there and wait for me?” Paul pointed to the other side of the hallway, but Jeremy didn’t move. He gave the boy a little push and tried to shut the door, but suddenly Jeremy gave a squawk of disagreement and clung to the doorway.
Paul was busting to go, so he huffed in annoyance and gave in before the kid could scream and wake the entire house.
“Fine. Stay there. Don’t move. Okay? And close your eyes, please. No watching.”
Jeremy immediately closed his eyes, so Paul quickly turned back to the toilet bowl to do his business. He figured the little boy wouldn’t see anything apart from his back and a stream of urine. Besides, he was too young to remember.
He finished as fast as he could, zipped up, flushed, and turned back—only to be halted in his tracks. Jeremy was still clinging to the doorframe, but his eyes were open and watching all. And worse, his sister had joined Jeremy and was frowning at Paul.
Shit. He just peed in front of Andrew’s two children. He was going to be in so much trouble.
Andrew and Paul learned about God and Jesus in different churches and realize their views of spirituality are worlds apart.
Andrew was raised Catholic and was told his homosexuality was a sin. For his entire life, he hid the truth. He married and had children to present a façade to the world—that of a straight man. It’s not until he has an affair with Paul, who shows him a different side of Jesus, that Andrew realizes he can be gay and still believe in God. Paul’s Jesus is one of acceptance and love, and in Paul’s church, being gay is not a problem.
For Paul and Andrew, falling in love is the easy part of their journey. They must make it through the fires of cheating, being discovered, Andrew’s wife leaving, the necessities of childcare and family life, the demands of their jobs, and working on their commitment to each other. Only then can they be safe in each other’s heart.
Renae Kaye is a lover and hoarder of books who thinks libraries are devilish places because they make you give the books back. She consumed her first adult romance book at the tender age of thirteen and hasn’t stopped since. After years – and thousands of stories! – of not having book characters do what she wants, she decided she would write her own novel and found the characters still didn’t do what she wanted. It hasn’t stopped her though. She believes that maybe one day the world will create a perfect couple – and it will be the most boring story ever. So until then she is stuck with quirky, snarky and imperfect characters who just want their story told.
Renae lives in Perth, Western Australia and writes in five minute snatches between the demands of two kids, a forbearing husband, too many pets, too much housework and her beloved veggie garden. She is a survivor of being the youngest in a large family and believes that laughter (and a good book) can cure anything.
How to contact Renae:
- Email: email@example.com
- Website: www.renaekaye.weebly.com
- FB: www.facebook.com/renae.kaye.9
- Twitter: @renaekkaye
Rene has brought a copy of Safe in His Heart to give away to one lucky reader. Just leave a comment at the end of the post to enter. The contest ends on Friday, May 6th at 11:59 pm EST.
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