Today I am so pleased to welcome Taylor V. Donovan to Joyfully Jay. Taylor has come to talk to us about her upcoming release, Heavy Hitters. She has also brought along an exclusive excerpt and a great giveaway! Please join me in giving Taylor a big welcome!
With a Heavy Heart
My name is Taylor V. Donovan and I’m an author of gay romance and suspense. Today I’m here as part of my blog tour for Heavy Hitters, a story set in Puerto Rico that explores the lives of two childhood friends living in a country mostly closed-off to their sexual orientation. Many thanks to Jay for hosting me once again.
As you may or may not know, I’m Puerto Rican. Writing about my people, our traditions, folklore, and culture was a dream of mine, and boy, is Heavy Hitters the book of my heart. Not that I was able to cover everything I wanted. There’s so much I wanted to explore, one book would’ve never been enough. Thankfully this is the first installment in my Caribbean Tales series, so stay tuned.
Writing this story took me years, mainly because I felt a responsibility to accurately portray who we are—the good, the bad, the ugly, and everything in between, and it is a journey. A love story more than a romance. You’ll meet Luca and Santi as kids, and you’ll grow up with them. You’ll see them struggle, try to conform, make mistakes, find their way, and throughout it all, you’ll see them love each other and their unbreakable bond.
I am so proud of the final result, you guys. *So* very proud, and I was all set to throw myself a party on release date to celebrate the culmination of this long journey. Until Sunday morning, that is. That’s when I heard about the Orlando shooting, and my happiness and excitement came to an end.
As you all probably know by now, most victims were Latinx. Twenty-five were Puerto Rican, and at least five were from Ponce, which is my hometown and the setting for Heavy Hitters. Needless to say, this one hit close to home. Here I am, supposed to be excited about my first release in two years, and all I can think about is this senseless act of violence that shook the Latino LGBT community to its foundation. And it hurts.
That’s why I’m not going to say much today. I’m going to leave you all with an excerpt, then I’ll go mourn the victims, try to find some solace, and hopefully honor all those Puerto Rican boys with this story I wrote based on their lives…inspired by all the things they have to endure growing up gay in a macho world.
Please, pray for them.
“Hopefully not before getting your cherry popped,” Santi joked, pulling his T-shirt over his head.
“Fingers crossed.” Hands shaking, Luca opened the glove box and grabbed one of the lollipops Santi always kept around to chew on when he was tense.
“You’re twenty-six, and you’re…you know, into dudes.” Santi shook his head. “Are you seriously going to keep on waiting until you marry a woman?”
Luca’s heart skipped a beat.
Santi made them go on double dates with women often, but he had completely given up on pretending Luca was straight, and he didn’t shy away from mentioning it, which Luca loved.
“You know it’s a Catholic thing.”
“But what about satisfying your…tastes?” Santi quickly licked his lips. “Don’t you want to enjoy yourself while you can? Be with someone that’ll knock your socks off?”
Santi closed the soft top, trapping them inside the car, and all of a sudden Luca couldn’t breathe.
“The church doesn’t allow pre-marital sex, and sodomy is out of the question,” he said, taking off his own shirt.
“I know plenty women who love taking it up the ass.” Santi leaned forward and put his cell phone in the glove box, managing to brush Luca’s knee with his elbow and making him hard. “You’ve got to be the only guy in the world who actually abides by the church’s stupid rules.”
For fuck’s sake.
Was there no place in his body that didn’t react to this guy’s touch?
Luca gave the lollipop a good lick, wrapped his tongue around it, and then sucked on it until his cheeks were hollow. “That’s between those other guys and the Lord,” he said, dropping his phone next to Santi’s and closing the glove box.
“Have I told you before your virginity is an insult to the reputation of sexy Latino men everywhere?” Santi asked in a voice that sounded like gravel
“You’re the only person who actually keeps track of what I’m doing with my cock.” He said as he turned his head toward Santi. “Why—” Luca shut his mouth.
Santi’s body was tightly coiled with tension. His face was a rigid mask. His lips were parted and moist, and his eyes… Jesus, his black eyes were glazed over and trained on Luca’s mouth.
“Want some?” Luca croaked.
Santi didn’t look away as his full lips closed around the hard strawberry candy.
Luca let go of the lollipop and looked through his window. “You can have it.”
He would not lose what little will power he had left. He would not ask Santi to jerk him off right then and there.
He almost lost his ever-loving mind when Santi let out a long moan. “I always get lost inside my head when I suck on this hard ball,” he said. “Kind of makes me wonder if I’ve been missing out on something.”
“Jesus, Mary, and Joseph…” Luca muttered under his breath as he banged his forehead against the dashboard. “Is this a test, a glimpse into paradise, or some kind of punishment?”
“Are you coming?” Santi asked.
Luca glared at him. “Not yet, but I might as soon as I get in the water.”
Santi flushed a deep shade of red and glanced nervously at their surroundings. “I’ve got to wait until after the fight.” He cleared his throat and rubbed the back of his neck. “Ejaculating weakens energy levels and decreases aggression, so…you know…” He cleared his throat again. “It has to be tonight.”
Luca opened his mouth to answer and closed it again when his brain short-circuited. He bit his lower lip and put his hand over his dick. Taking off his sunglasses, he squeezed his eyes shut and said a quick prayer for guidance.
As usual, God let him to his own devices.
“Was that an invitation?” he whispered.
He didn’t get an answer.
Santi was standing outside the car, shifting his weight from one foot to another and wringing his hands.
Luca wanted to demand clarification, but his stomach did a somersault at the thought of that conversation, and all of a sudden he couldn’t move.
An invisible force that he couldn’t identify kept him glued to his seat.
Was the Holy Spirit holding him back? Was it too much excitement? Was it fear of crossing the line and losing the guy he thought he’d always be?
“We don’t have all day, man,” Santi said in that falsely light tone he used whenever he wanted Luca to think everything was all right—that nothing major was happening.
Luca was happy to oblige.
He needed to calm down and figure out how to deal with this side of Santi…a side that admitted to many things without saying the actual words, and that was aggressive and demanding…a side that wanted Luca so much, it had dropped all pretenses and come out to get himself some, regardless of Luca’s resistance and opinion in the matter.
Yeah…better to play it cool for a while until they had time to sit down and discuss what the fuck was going on.
Luca pushed the door open and stepped out of the car. “Is it a popular spot?”
“Most people stay in the shallow areas, but no one comes this time of year.” Santi smiled. “The water’s too cold.”
They both loved their fans and were grateful for their support and enthusiasm, but this was down time. The last thing Luca wanted was anyone witnessing private moments between him and Santi.
Wearing nothing but his boardshorts and tennis shoes, Luca grabbed his backpack and followed Santi down the muddy path.
It felt like a completely different world.
The sound of the wind whispering through the Ceiba and Flamboyán trees and the constant rushing sound of the water had an immediate relaxing effect on him. The singing birds and crickets were enchanting. The gentle breeze blew his worries away, and the fresh scent of grass and wild flowers took him to a mental space where he believed anything was possible.
“There are some slippery areas,” Santi said. “Be careful and watch your footing.”
There was a top waterfall about twenty feet tall, forming a nice pool before going to a second fall that had to be—at the very least—forty feet tall. The foamy current from the second waterfall cascaded down the rocks into a bigger, more inviting, totally mesmerizing turquoise-looking pool.
“Thanks for bringing me here, pai,” he said softly, not wanting to disturb the peaceful environment. “I already love this place.”
“I came here today because I needed to say goodbye to a time in my life where all I could do was dream about having money and being with my best friend,” Santi explained as they started climbing down the rocks. “I have that now…the money and you. I’m good. I can let this go.”
Luca gripped his shoulder and turned him around. “But you’re still sad,” he said quietly. “You’re still that quote from The Little Prince.”
“I always knew a guy like me would never be able to have it all.” He pulled the bill of Luca’s hat down playfully, but his sad smile almost made Luca cry. “So I’m claiming what I can have in the only way I can allow myself to have it, and I’m holding onto it for dear life for as long as I’m allowed.”
His toughest opponent is himself.
World Boxing Champion Santino Malavé González has been fighting since he was a kid. Poverty, domestic violence, and emotional abuse were early contenders. Guilt and self-loathing were beaten into him at an impressionable age, and now machismo, an integral part of the Latino culture, rules his life. In the ring he’s undefeated. Outside the ropes life constantly hits him below the belt. It takes a sucker punch from his best friend to finally knock the denial out of him and force him to face his true nature like a real man.
A natural born entertainer, Luca Jenaro Betancur Ferrer has grown up serving God, performing, pursuing a career in music, and celebrating life among his tight-knit Catholic family under the scorching Puerto Rican sun. Singing the wrong note on stage is not a mistake the multi-platinum award-winning singer would ever allow. Falling in love with a man is not a transgression his devout family may ever accept. The ties that bind him are strong, but the pull toward his childhood best friend may just be enough to tear it all to shreds.
Anger, mistakes, bigotry, and the need to conform put up a good fight throughout their life journeys. Their religious and chauvinistic society constantly challenges their pursuit of happiness, and only time will tell if their relationship will survive the battles, or if they’ll lose each other by technical knockout.
*Standalone Gay Romance Saga
Taylor V. Donovan is a compulsive reader and author of gay romance and suspense. She is optimistically cynical about humanity and a lover of history, museums, and all things 80s. She shamelessly indulges in mind-numbing reality television, is crazy about fashion, and passionate about civil rights and equality for all.
When she’s not writing or making a living in the busiest city in the world, Taylor can be found raising her two daughters and their terribly misbehaved furry baby in their home.
Taylor has brought three copies of Heavy Hitters to give away to three lucky readers. Just leave a comment at the end of the post to enter. The contest ends on Sunday, June 19th 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.