Today I am so pleased to welcome Robert Winter to Joyfully Jay. Robert has come to talk to us about his latest release, September. He has also brought along a copy to give away. Please join me in giving Robert a big welcome!
September is the first novel in my series, Pride and Joy. Pride has many connotations, and I hope to explore them all in these stories.
LGBT pride is central to a contemporary romance between two men, of course. Both of my main characters, David and Brandon, are out to their families and their coworkers, even when it isn’t always easy. David worries about the backlash we see sometimes from those opposed to same-sex marriage, and his colleagues don’t understand that the love between two men can be as powerful as that between a woman and a man. Brandon’s parents and brother don’t support his life choices. I wrote September before the recent election results raise a threat to all that LGBTQ people and their loving supporters have achieved in recent years. Many people fear that we will all have to wear our LGBT pride on our sleeves going forward, or find ourselves shoved back into the shadows. That is a theme I plan to explore further in future books in this series.
Pride in self and pride in a loved one are powerful forces for growth and change. I hope we have all experienced that moment when someone we love and admire looks at us with pride, and the resulting glow lets us know we can do anything we set our minds to because that person believes in us. If it is human to self-doubt, then perhaps it is divine to find your best self in the eyes of a loved one. Far wiser people than I have said the best relationships arise when each person believes he or she has gotten the better end of the deal. The power of that kind of pride is an important theme in September. David in particular is emotionally crippled by self-doubt at the beginning of the story. He is a lonely widower facing fifty, and he doesn’t see in himself all that he has to offer. It is Brandon’s pride in David that begins to help him see what his life can be like. I believe in the power of this kind of pride to create joy.
Pride has its dark side as well, though, as in “pride goeth before a fall”. Pride that gets our backs up, that makes us strike out when we feel insulted or dismissed, that masks our insecurities with rigidity and stubbornness – that is the sort of pride that I think many of us must outgrow before we can be truly happy. Brandon is mature for his age yet remains a victim to his own pridefulness in many ways. He is afraid of making a mistake, of being laughed at. His biggest challenges will come from learning to ignore jealous or hateful whispers that inflame his pride, and instead to trust in what he knows to be true about David. The difference between having pride in oneself and being prideful may be a fine line, but I think it is one that love can help us walk with care.
Finally, I’d like to say how grateful I am that Joyfully Jay took a chance on a new writer like me with this opportunity to discuss September. I’m proud of this book, and I hope you enjoy the story of David and Brandon.
Brandon With Friends
The following Tuesday, when his last client of the day left, Brandon joined Ethan and several other friends at JR’s, a gay bar near the park where they would soon play kickball when the season started. The bar was long, narrow, and loud. A stained-glass window, high above the room, glowed in the street light from outside, while TV screens above the bar played music videos. Brandon squeezed into a corner with his beer, next to Ethan and two of their teammates, Scott and Tom.
“Where’s Colin?” he practically shouted over the din.
Ethan leaned over to speak into his ear. “He had to work tonight. He texted right before you got here.”
“Maybe he’s avoidin’ you?”
“He’s playing hard to get. But I will wear him down.”
“I don’t doubt that.”
“How about you? Have you met anyone new and interesting?” Ethan asked. Unexpectedly Brandon pictured David, his new client, who had been in a few times.
“No,” he answered. “I went over to some rando’s apartment last week, though. Had to make sure my junk was still in workin’ order, since it’s been so long.”
“Hah. That’s my slutty friend. Was he good smash?”
“Not really, but he was at least hung.”
“Good Lord. You size queens are all alike,” Tom said, joining the conversation. “What difference does an extra inch or two make in the scheme of things?”
Ethan and Brandon looked at each and yelled together, “Everything.”
Tom laughed with them but said, “I’d still rather meet a nice guy with a small dick than go out with a mook just because he has a log between his legs.”
Ethan pushed his glasses up on the bridge of his nose and said seriously to Tom, “You know, I read somewhere recently that eight out of ten gay men agree that size matters… and the other two are lying.”
Tom teasingly pushed Ethan away, and he fell against Brandon, which made him slosh his beer.
“Sorry about that,” Ethan apologized as he grabbed a napkin and turned to mop up the spill on Brandon’s shirt. “Anyhoo, give me something to enliven my dull life while I wait for Colin to come around,” he said as he dabbed, maybe a bit longer than was necessary.
“What about the rando?”
“Nothing really to tell, sad to say. I went over, we did it, I left.”
“Boo. A man who looks like you should have the pick of the litter.” Ethan looked around the bar. “There’s the litter. Go pick.”
Brandon laughed at that and scanned the crowd—all ages, all body types. There were a few stunners here and there, of course paired up already, but mainly just people having a good time. He loved being there, even if there wasn’t anyone available who caught his eye.
He surprised himself by saying to Ethan, “There was a new client last week. No. Two weeks ago now. Shoulder tear. He was really good-lookin’—all suited up like a DC power type. I think he’s gay, but I’m not quite sure yet.”
“Ooh. Now that could be promising. More deets, please—young, old, tall, skinny, white, black, other?”
“I’d say late thirties, maybe forty. White guy, nice hair. And he looked good with his shirt off.”
“Half-naked men on the job, and you get paid to fondle them. What am I doing at Lambda Law Fund? The only cute ones are the interns, and they don’t stick around long enough to see the real me.” Ethan gestured grandly at his own body.
He was a big one, well, in the belly at least. Okay, fat. Ethan’s glasses constantly slipped down his nose, and his bushy hair stood out in all directions. Not what you’d call handsome, but Brandon thought he had a heart of gold. Ethan was one of the first gay people he met when he moved up from Texas, and brought Brandon into the kickball league the previous season.
“So, did you hit on the suit?” Ethan asked.
“Nah. I told you, I’m not sure he’s even gay.”
“He sounds like a DILF.”
“A DILF. Daddy I’d Like to Fuck.”
“I’m not lookin’ for a daddy,” Brandon said, suddenly a bit uncomfortable.
“Oh, honey. Aren’t we all looking for a daddy? Someone older and rich who can take us away from all this?” Ethan gestured again at the crowd around the gay bar.
“I’m not. I like it here just fine.”
Ethan shook his head. “Your looks won’t last forever. Strike while the iron is hot.”
Brandon didn’t like the turn the conversation had taken, so he shifted his focus to Tom. When Ethan spotted another friend and tottered off to chat with him, Brandon was relieved.
David James is smart, successful, handsome… and alone. After the death of his lover, Kyle, from cancer, he buried himself in his law practice and the gym. At forty-eight, he is haunted by his memories and walled off from the world. When David injures himself working out, he is assigned to Brandon Smith for physical therapy. The vibrant young therapist is attracted to David and realizes he needs a hand to get back into dating. What begins as a practice coffee date escalates to friendship, passion, and maybe something more, as they navigate a new relationship in Washington, DC, and the gay mecca of Provincetown.
But David remains trapped behind the barrier of fear and guilt. Will he remain loyal to Kyle’s memory if he moves on? Can he and Brandon manage a twenty-two-year age gap? Brandon thinks he understands David’s concerns, and for him, the answer to those questions is yes. He wants to be with David, and he believes he can overcome David’s barriers. But Brandon fails to account for the world’s reaction to a handsome young man attached to an older, wealthy lover. David’s memories, Brandon’s pride, and an unexpected tragedy might cost them something very special.
Robert Winter is a recovering lawyer who likes writing about hot men in love much more than drafting a legal brief. He left behind the (allegedly) glamorous world of an international law firm to sit in his home office and dream up ways to torment his characters until they realize they are perfect for each other.
Robert divides his time between Washington, DC, and Provincetown, MA. He divides his attention between Andy, his partner of fifteen years, and Ling the Adventure Cat, who likes to fly in airplanes and explore the backyard jungle as long as the temperature and humidity are just right.
Robert has brought a signed print copy of September to give away to one lucky reader. Just leave a comment at the end of the post to enter. The contest ends on Thursday, December 8th at 11:59 pm EST.
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