Today I am so pleased to welcome Marie Lark to Joyfully Jay. Marie has come to talk to us about her latest release, The First Morning After. She has also brought along an exclusive excerpt and a copy to give away. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!



“Not like that—like this!” or Why realistic/imperfect sex is one of my bulletproof kinks in fiction.

First off, thank you so much for having me on the blog and letting me gab a bit about my new book, The First Morning After! I am so excited to tell you all a little bit about it and to talk about one of my favorite recent trends in romance fiction—realistic or imperfect sex in a love scene.

So let’s get down to business, as it were. In The First Morning After, Danny Rojas finally confesses his long-time crush on former high school baseball star, Mitchel Finch, while they’re both home for a wedding. Mitchel, deep in the closet and looking for a way to briefly escape the confines of his life, invites himself to Danny’s motel room for a one-night stand, because why not? They’ll both go back to their lives the day after. What does he have to lose?

A hot hookup ensues between two hot guys who want to get hot and heavy and it’s the best they’ve ever had, and it’s all hot. Everything’s hot. Right? Well, sure, but what if the guy who’s been closeted his whole life doesn’t actually know how to have good sex with another guy? What if he believes his athletic ability and popularity automatically translate to skill in bed? What if the guy who’s had a crush on him for so long has sky-high expectations?

Sounds like a recipe for disaster—and, if you ask me, a really interesting love scene. I think in a romance every love scene should move the characters forward in their story arc. Every love scene should serve a purpose, and sometimes that purpose is showing that two characters might have a ton of chemistry but also a lot of work to do in the communication department.

Some of this comes down to injecting a little realism into our romances. Because let’s face it—at the start of a relationship, the sex might be super exciting, but it’s probably not super awesome. It takes time and practice to learn what a partner likes and how to give it to them. While I enjoy a fair amount of escapism in a romance novel, I also like to see myself reflected in the characters in some way. I like to read a scene and think, “Oh yeah, I’ve been there.” So writing Danny and Mitchel’s less-than-perfect first time felt true to me.

But it was also hella hot and fun! Honest and frank language in a love scene, characters experiencing sex without the filter of flowery description, evokes something visceral and vivid. The characters have bodies that don’t always move the way they want or expect, and the physicality of it drives their emotions, making the entire scene feel more vibrant. Not to mention—when the characters do use their words and communicate what they want, the payoff is all the more rewarding. For them and hopefully for the reader!

So there you have it—how I learned to let go and love imperfect love scenes!


Danny started with his top buttons and met Mitchel in the middle, shrugging out of the shirt himself. But Mitchel seemed to want to reciprocate, so he let himself be stripped down to his underwear, let Mitchel trace out the shape of the muscles in his arms and chest. The simple comfort of hands on skin lit Danny up in a way he’d come to recognize as overcompensation from the years when no one touched him except in anger or disgust. Danny’d figured out his simultaneous love and fear of intimacy within about thirty minutes of his first therapy session. He wasn’t a complicated creature, for which his bank account thanked him.

He shuffled a half step closer until he could comfortably rest his forearms on Mitchel’s shoulders and made a quiet sound of approval when Mitchel put both hands on his ribs and slid his fingers back and forth in the grooves between them.

“I bet it didn’t take you long to get over missing home,” Mitchel surprised him by saying.

They stood so close now that Danny could see the faint freckles across Mitchel’s nose and cheeks, the individual hairs of his pale brows and lashes. “About a week,” Danny answered with a smile. “Met a guy in my Spanish class and finally got laid. Amazing what mutual orgasms will do for your self-esteem.”

Mitchel’s jaw tightened, and Danny tried not to wince. He’d stepped right in that one—no getting around it now. “Speaking of. You owe me one.”

Without waiting for Mitchel to bluster and protest, Danny hooked his heel behind Mitchel’s and tripped him down onto the mattress. He went with a muffled shout but managed to drag Danny with him, and landing with a bounce on the crappy mattress, they were nearly launched off the other side.

Mitchel came to rest straddling Danny’s waist, and he sat there for several moments just looking at him with palms flat on his chest. Tipping forward at the waist, he kissed Danny carefully on the mouth, an experiment. Then he rolled off to the side and pulled Danny on top of him so they settled in the reverse position.

Propped up on his elbows, Danny allowed himself a moment to stare as well, to just have Mitchel in a bed with him, mostly undressed and with his hair in a wild bright halo on the pillow. He was still compact and strong through his torso, though he’d lost some muscle, Danny thought. Or Danny was just bigger now and his memory rendered Mitchel larger than life.

Mitchel’s eyes had darkened to slate in the poor light. “What?” he finally asked. “What are you looking at? I thought I owed you an orgasm.”

Danny shrugged. “Just looking.” Backing up to kneel between Mitchel’s open legs, he skimmed his hands down Mitchel’s torso to his hips and thighs. Under his hands, Mitchel’s skin was soft and pale with a sparse line of hair trailing from his chest down to the waist of his shorts. Danny’s hand came to rest on the surgical scar bisecting his left knee—the only visible evidence of the fractured tibia and torn MCL that had cut his career short. A collision at first base in the playoffs his sophomore year.

Rubbing his thumb gently over the length of the scar, Danny watched carefully for Mitchel’s reaction. “Does it still hurt you?”

Mitchel nodded. “Gets stiff when I stay in one position too long.”

Sliding his fingers around to the back of Mitchel’s knee, Danny touched him light enough to tickle. He grinned when Mitchel inhaled sharply and jerked away. Unable to help himself, he said, “So you were fine, then, when you fucked me.”

Mitchel blinked twice before his expression sank into a scowl. “Wow, fuck you,” he finally said.

“I’m just saying—we weren’t in that position for long, so I don’t have to worry about—”

Shifting his hips, Mitchel kneed him right in the ribs. And even though it didn’t have much force behind it, Danny lurched sideways with a laugh and had to steady himself with an arm hooked around Mitchel’s leg.

“You should worry about my knee,” Mitchel grumbled, trying to shove him again.

Danny only grabbed on tighter, his hand wrapped around Mitchel’s inner thigh. Sliding it farther up, he nudged his balls through his boxers. He pressed there, kneed in a little closer, and bumped his still-interested dick against Mitchel’s ass. Mitchel went perfectly still as he seemed to realize that his knees were up and spread for Danny—that he was laid out on a bed with a man between his legs.

“You ever done this before, Mitchel Finch?” Danny knew the answer. It was in every tense line of Mitchel’s body, but he still wanted to hear it.

Mitchel licked his lips, darting his gaze to the side. “You know I haven’t. And if you don’t fucking do it sometime before the Second Coming, I’m gonna lose my nerve. I’ve definitely lost my buzz.”

“Sure thing, boss.”


The First Morning AfterFor as long as he can remember, Danny Rojas has wanted All-Star first baseman, Mitchel Finch. And he could swear that in high school, Mitchel was interested, too. But the baseball team made Danny’s life a living hell back then, and the moment he was able, he got out. Five years later at a friend’s wedding, Danny finally has the chance, and more importantly, the courage, to act on his years-long crush.

Mitchel Finch used to have it so good—a brilliant athlete with lots of friends, a gorgeous girlfriend, and a place of importance in his home town. All he had to do was play it straight. But when an injury ends his baseball career, and his best friend’s wedding reminds him of everything he lost, Mitchel jumps at the opportunity Danny gives him—a night to be honest with himself. A night to finally feel wanted for exactly who he is.

The trouble is, neither of their circumstances has changed by morning. Mitchel is still closeted, and Danny is still the town pariah. Can a connection, building for years and forged in one night, survive the first morning after?


Marie Lark is a part-time teacher and rest-of-the-time writer. She lives in New York with her very respectable husband and tiny dog. She writes contemporary New Adult and LGBTQ romance, but loves love stories of all kinds. Romance is like kung fu—it’s in everything. Jackie Chan said that, right?


Marie has brought a copy of The First Morning After to give away to one lucky reader. Just leave a comment at the end of the post to enter. The contest ends on Tuesday, July 12th 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.
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  • 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.
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FILED UNDER: Excerpt, Giveaway, Guest Post
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