Today I am so pleased to welcome Devon Rhodes to Joyfully Jay. Devon has come as part of the GRL Blog Tour to talk to us about her release, Unconventional in Kansas City. She has also brought along…. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
Thanks for having me on for the GRL blog tour! I’m a veteran of the GayRomLit Retreat from way back before there even was a retreat and Carol and Ethan sent out a questionnaire asking authors if they would attend one, how long it should be, what content should there be, etc. I’d never even been to an industry event before, and so I had my con cherry popped by the first GRL in New Orleans in 2011. As with many attendees and authors, I went alone and had never met anyone in person, but that ceased to be an issue after the first few minutes. Since then, I’ve blacked out most of October on the calendar every year until the dates are announced, and I’ve never missed a GRL. This will be my sixth one as a featured author (and of course, a fan).
Many of you may have heard of the Unconventional anthologies associated with GRL. What you might not know is that they are my creation—all based on a dream. After the first GRL, I came home and a few months later had a dream that I was in an anthology with several of the authors I had met there. I joked about it online, and what happened next changed all of us. The authors I dreamt about thought it would be a great idea, and so it went from a dream to a plan. We found a publisher willing to run with it, so we started things off with our first release, Unconventional at Best, which coincided with the second GRL in Albuquerque. I couldn’t believe I was writing with Carol Lynne, TA Chase, Stephani Hecht, Amber Kell and Jambrea Jo Jones, lol. I was the biggest fan-girl of my partners.
The next year, we did things a little different. Since Carol was an organizer and intimately familiar with the hotel for the Atlanta GRL, we decided to set the next edition, Unconventional in Atlanta, in the host hotel and feature employees getting their HEAs. That was a lot of fun to write, and readers loved the connection to the event, as well as the fact that our characters made appearances in each other’s stories.
For the Chicago-area GRL, we took things in an even more organized direction by setting the anthology in an alternate reality Chicago where mobs ruled and national government had little sway. The stories were not just interconnected with character appearances, but also read in a timeline as they worked together to stop the bad guys. An Unconventional Chicago was one of our favorites, though it was probably the most complicated to pull off!
We were still at the Chicago GRL when we started talking about a plan for the San Diego anthology. And what goes better with a beach setting than…paranormals? 😉 We created a paranormal beach-side bar (called Unconventional) and told the stories of the various paras who visited it, and that was the genesis of Unconventional in San Diego.
Kansas City was a no-brainer—the home of barbeque and a huge rodeo and horse event called The American Royal could only be a cowboy anthology. Love the cover for this one! We took the event and covered all sorts of angles, from equestrian to rodeo to the barbeque contest! It’s been a great ride with these awesome ladies, and while we’re not certain the Unconventionals will continue after Unconventional in Kansas City, we have had a blast giving our take on the GRL venues for our readers and for each other.
I’d like to do a giveaway for a couple of readers—your choice of either a four-ebook package of the first four Unconventionals, or an ebook copy of the newest one, Unconventional in Kansas City. Just leave a comment, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on our anthologies if you’ve read any of them! ? Meanwhile, here is an exclusive excerpt from my story in Unconventional in Kansas City: Resuscitating Love.
As always, Hill had been the one upside down on the bed, since David was inevitably left in pieces after coming. Hill flipped himself around, then nudged David over in order to spoon behind him, like they’d lain together a thousand times.
David drifted a bit, but he couldn’t fall asleep. Hill first forgetting about their anniversary, then not knowing how important the original date was to David—these were all the symptoms of a bigger problem. They were growing apart instead of together, and David didn’t know how to fix it. He wasn’t sure who to ask, either. Friends and family were biased one way or another, and professionals wouldn’t really know their dynamics unless they were to make several counseling visits…and he didn’t really want to see a marriage counselor less than a year into their marriage. No—he’d have to figure this one out on his own.
Maybe he’d Google ‘how to get your partner to remember you’re alive’.
He suppressed a sigh, not wanting to disturb Hill, whose breathing was even and heavy against the back of his neck. Things weren’t as bad as all that. He’d be patient and wait it out until after the Royal was over and they actually celebrated their wedding anniversary. If, after Hill’s job calmed down, things still didn’t improve between them, he’d come up with a plan. Well, a more active one anyway. His current plan was all about being patient—not his strong suit. But if anyone and anything was worth David striving for calm, it was his relationship with Hill. He’d loved the damn cowboy for too many years to give up.
They still had issues between them, and at some point they needed to come up with a better way to communicate and sort things out once and for all, but right now David just needed the physical connection that had become less frequent of late.
The rest could wait.
‘Kiss Me, Cowboy’ by Carol Lynne
It isn’t easy to cling to teenage promises when you become one of the forgotten.
For Eli Barron, Jesse Clooney has always been the one. From their first day of kindergarten through their high-school graduation, the pair were inseparable. So, when a situation arises that splits the two men apart, it’s up to Eli to keep the home fires burning as Jesse sets off to follow his dreams on the rodeo circuit. But how long can a man continue to stoke the fire before the flames die out?
‘New Vocations’ by T.A. Chase
Two men who believe in second chances meet and their lives are never the same again.
Layne Daly comes to participate in the American Royal. He’s there to show off the abilities of the retired thoroughbreds he adopts straight off the track. He wants people to know these animals can do so much more than race. He has three horses there to do exhibitions in reining, barrel racing and cutting. When his usual groom gets sick, he has to hire someone fast.
Carl Stewartson used to love coming to Kansas City for the rodeo. He’d ride broncs and hang out with his friends. But since his career-ending injury early in the year, Carl has been spinning his wheels, trying to find something to do with his life now that he can’t rodeo anymore. He runs into Layne and offers to help him with his horses.
Together, they have to deal with not only the stress of the event, but also starting a new relationship. Second chances are what Layne does best and he’s more than willing to give Carl the opportunity.
‘Stallions and Ice’ by Stephani Hecht
Sometimes you have to climb a mountain to see the future.
While Brandon loves to go and watch his friend, Nichole, at the American Royal every year, there is no way that he is ever going to climb on a horse. His feet belong on the ground or the ice. As one the of the players of the local minor league team, the Wichita Thunder, all he dreams about is someday moving up to the major leagues. That is, until he meets Nichole’s brother, Ethan.
Ethan grew up in a family that has always been in the rodeo circuit. There was no question that he was ever going to be anything else…until he’s sidelined by seizures and can no longer ride. Then he meets Brandon and he begins to wonder whether maybe, just maybe, his life isn’t over.
Will decades of tradition tear the men apart? Or can they can overcome all their obstacles and be together?
‘Playing with Fire’ by Jambrea Jo Jones
Ranch cook against restaurateur—who does it better?
Hayden McGrath has the formal training and knowhow to run one of the best farm-to-table restaurants in the city. This year he wants to prove his worth by entering the barbecue competition at the American Royal. It has nothing to do with a certain cowboy from the Flying P…
Amos Vasquez has been the ranch cook at the Flying P Retreat since it was an actual ranch. Now it’s a place tourists flock to so they can have a taste of his food. This year he is going to win the barbecue competition and nothing will stand in his way, not even a certain sexy redheaded restaurant owner who has caught his eye.
This will be the barbecue competition to beat all competitions at the American Royal.
‘Resuscitating Love’ by Devon Rhodes
If Hill keeps putting cowboys ahead of his marriage, even being a cardiologist won’t help David fix their broken hearts.
Hillard ‘Hill’ Pearson, the new events director of the American Royal, has worked hard to get to where he is. This is his first year as director, and the huge responsibility of the more visible position has taken over his life. Yes, he could be considered a workaholic, but he’s put fifteen years into the event he’s loved since he was a kid, and now is his chance to shine.
When David Weinstein finally convinced his long-time partner, Hill, to marry him, he thought it would bring them closer together. Instead, they’re not even to their first anniversary and their relationship is suffering. David’s finally at a stage in his medical career where he has regular hours, but he can’t seem to connect with his husband when he’s free. Now, with the event that he’s sick of hearing about underway, he feels like he’s making all the effort with no return.
Can Hill and David resuscitate their love before David gives up on the promise of forever?
Devon Rhodes is a happily caffeinated former sleepwalker who, over a decade ago, left the business world for the cushy life of motherhood. Two kids later, at around 39 (and holding), she couldn’t take her ponytail and T-shirt life anymore. So she sat down at the laptop to try to do justice to the images burning in her head. A few months later, success! She fended off her identity crisis by morphing from stay-at- home mom into a published erotic romance writer.
She lives in beautiful Oregon with her family, who are (mostly) understanding of all the time she spends on her laptop, aka the black hole. You can find her wherever her two girls are, and you’ll never see her in a scrunchie again. Devon loves to hear from readers—you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Devon has brought give aways for two lucky readers. Winners can choose between receiving the four past anthologies or a copy of Unconventional in Kansas City. Just leave a comment at the end of the post to enter. The contest ends on Wednesday, August 24th at 11:59 pm EST.
- By entering the giveaway, you’re confirming that you are at least 18 years old.
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