Today I am so pleased to welcome Philip William Stover to Joyfully Jay. Philip has come to talk to us about his latest release, The Hideaway Inn. He has also brought along an exclusive excerpt. Please join me in giving Philip a big welcome!
I just got off the phone with my best friend from childhood. She had listened to an interview where I talked about being ashamed of being teased in school. She knew I had been bullied and even though we were best friends, we never talked about it.
Vince, the main character in The Hideaway Inn comes from my imagination and my experience as a gay man who was laughed at for being too effeminate. Vince protects himself by becoming the type of man who he thinks would never be the object of ridicule. He returns to New Hope wanting to show anyone and everyone that he is not someone who can be laughed at anymore. But Vince learns that the very thing that he thought made him unworthy is the thing that makes him loveable. He learns to stop performing the person he thinks he needs to be and just be himself.
I hope there will be many readers who can relate to the exhaustion of being a version of themselves that is constant work. It takes so much strength to constantly wear our masks. I know mine have prevented me from being myself in so many ways but I thought I needed them to protect myself. Like Vince, I’m learning to wear mine less and less. It’s a wonderful feeling.
“This isn’t New Hope,” I tell the bus driver.
“No, it’s Pittstown. Last stop.”
Back in Manhattan a company chauffer takes me wherever I need to go but I do pass by plenty of bus stops—little huts with glass walls and cologne ads. Those are bus stops. This isn’t a bus stop. It’s a cow pasture.
The driver opens the door and the smell of manure is so strong I have to hold the pocket square from my suit jacket over my mouth to stop from gagging.
“Memorial Day weekend schedule. Bus doesn’t go all the way to New Hope. Last stop is here, Pittstown.”
I look out the window. Cows to the right, empty fields to the left and nothing ahead of me or behind. Dark clouds gather in the sky, threatening an early summer rainstorm. My first thought is to just throw some money at the guy and bark at him to do what I want but those days are on pause, at least for now.
“Come on, man. My phone’s dead. Call an Uber for me?” At this point I’m almost whining, something I never do, but I’ve been doing a lot of things I never do lately.
“We don’t have Uber. You aren’t from around here?” He examines me over his sunglasses.
The truth is, I grew up about twenty miles away in a town where the Jersey suburbs rubbed up against the Garden State farmlands. Everything east of that was big box stores and gas stations, everything west was rolling farmland. I pretty much spent my childhood reading overly sentimental verse or searching online for an acne cure.
“No, I’m not.”
“There’s a general store about six miles ahead. They might be able to call you a cab.”
I grab my shoulder bag, thank the guy—for what, I don’t know—and step off the bus straight into a puddle of mud. The bus releases its brakes with a hiss of air and then disappears over the hill. I’m alone on the side of the road wearing a three-thousand-dollar bespoke suit and nine-hundred-dollar shoes, covered in mud.
After walking over a mile without passing any living thing except a number of cows who I swear give me dirty looks, a pickup truck zooms past me on a blind curve only to pump the brakes when a bale of hay falls off the back. This could be my ticket out of my misery. With any luck this hick will be a serial killer and he’ll see the word next written all over me. If that doesn’t work out I guess I could ask him to take me to the general store.
I start jogging toward the truck but as the guy steps out, I stop immediately. He’s far away but I can see that he is no stranger to hard labor. He’s wearing jeans so tight even from this distance I can see that each cheek of his bubble butt is a perfectly proportioned independent entity. Even though it’s a chilly sunless day he has his flannel shirt tied around his waist so his tank top reveals sun kissed arms that are thick from what I imagine to be hours of work in the fields. A trucker hat and sunglasses cover his face but that body is enough to turn this whole day around.
I pick up my pace and walk toward the truck. The guy throws a rope around the hay bales in the cargo bed and moves to the other side to secure them.
“Excuse me,” I say, and my deep voice booms across the field. I know the effect it usually has on people. At the firm, it made people follow my orders and in bed it does the same thing. It may be a polished performance, but it has great effect.
“Hold up,” he says from the other side of the truck. His voice is deep but not as heavy as mine and with less gravel. I hear him fiddling with the rope and can see the hair on his toned arms glisten in the late morning sunlight. I’m already picturing a handsome boyish face with a wide confident smile. I hear the ground crunch under his feet as he walks toward my side of the truck.
He takes one look at me and stops. “No way!” he says. He pulls off his hay-dusted sunglasses. “Skinny Vinny. What the hell are you doing here?”
My body freezes. I can’t believe who I’m seeing. It’s been over fifteen years, but the sight of him has me feeling like the skinny geeky kid with the impossible crush.
I quickly gather myself and immediately correct him. “It’s Vince now. Vince,” I say, my lips vibrating against my teeth firmly as I make sure my voice is deeper and stronger than it is in even my most alpha moments. The shock of seeing him has my heart racing, but I’m an expert at covering weak emotions—on the rare occasions that I have them.
High school wasn’t the right time or place for their relationship to grow, but now, fifteen years later, a chance encounter changes both of their lives forever.
No one in the charming river town of New Hope, Pennsylvania, needs to know that Vince Amato plans on flipping The Hideaway Inn to the highest bidder and returning to his luxury lifestyle in New York City. He needs to make his last remaining investment turn a profit…even if that means temporarily relocating to the quirky small town where he endured growing up. He’s spent years reinventing himself and won’t let his past dictate his future.
But on his way to New Hope, Vince gets stuck in the middle of nowhere and his past might be the only thing that can get him to his future. Specifically Tack O’Leary, the gorgeous, easygoing farm boy who broke his heart and who picks Vince up in his dilapidated truck.
Tack comes to the rescue not only with a ride but also by signing on to be the chef at The Hideaway for the summer. As Vince and Tack open their hearts to each other again, Vince learns that being true to himself doesn’t mean shutting down a second chance with Tack—it means starting over and letting love in.
One-click with confidence. This title is part of the Carina Press Romance Promise: all the romance you’re looking for with an HEA/HFN. It’s a promise!
Carina Adores is home to highly romantic contemporary love stories featuring beloved romance tropes, where LGBTQ+ characters find their happily-ever-afters.
A new Carina Adores title is available each month:
- The Girl Next Door by Chelsea M. Cameron (available May 26, 2020)
- Just Like That by Cole McCade (available June 30, 2020)
- Hairpin Curves by Elia Winters (available July 28, 2020
- Better Than People by Roan Parrish (available August 25, 2020)
- Full Moon in Leo by Brooklyn Ray (available September 29, 2020)
- If You Can’t Stand the Heat by KD Fisher (available October 27, 2020)
- Just Like Us by Cole McCade (available November 24, 2020)
Philip William Stover splits his time between Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and New York City. He has an MFA in writing and is a clinical professor at New York University where he is the former chair of the writing curriculum. As a freelance journalist, his essays and reviews have appeared in Newsday, The Forward, The Tony Awards, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Houston Chronicle, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and other national publications.
Philip grew up tearing the covers off the romance novels he devoured so he wouldn’t get teased at school. Now he enjoys traveling the world with his husband of over twenty years and sitting in front of the woodstove with their half-Bassett, half-Sharpei rescue pup and he would never consider defacing any of the books he loves.
He is thrilled to be returning to romance and loves to write cozy, warm-hearted stories served by hairy forearms with a side of fries. He can be found on social media as Philip William Stover.
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