Today I am so pleased to welcome Jessica Skye Davies to Joyfully Jay. Jessica has come to talk to us about her latest release, Shawn and Henry, Take a Shot Book 2. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
Thanks so much to Jay for hosting me today!
Despite being born and raised in the US – a pure accident of birth! – most of my story settings are in the UK. I get over across the pond just about annually. Since 2015 I’ve been especially active with my local Welsh heritage society and have learned enough Welsh to be comfortably conversant with strangers when travelling in Yr Hen Wlad (the old country).
“Shawn and Henry” is the second story in the “Take a Shot” series. In Book One, “James and Merrick”, we are introduced to them as James’s and Merrick’s best friends, respectively. Both are fiercely loyal and protective of their best mates and don’t get off on the best of acquaintances as they perceive one another as a threat. Shawn, Henry’s elder by nearly two decades, resents Henry’s use of his imposing stature to physically stand between James and Merrick when it appears that James has lead Merrick on. Henry is deeply distrustful of what he sees as Shawn’s aggressiveness when Shawn comes to James’s defense.
But as James and Merrick’s relationship develops and deepens, Shawn and Henry end up coming into contact with one another on several occasions when Henry is visiting London from Sydney. On the day that James and Merrick are moving together to a new home in Merrick’s native South Wales, Shawn finally confronts Henry about the tension between them… and it very quickly proves to have been a sexual tension all along.
Following are some of the spots I’ve stopped on recent trips which feature in “Shawn and Henry” and provide picturesque backdrops for the transformation of enemies to lovers.
The story opens with Shawn sitting at a table outside his preferred local, waiting for James to arrive for their weekly get-together. Shawn lives near Kew Gardens and the pub he frequents was inspired by a cracking little place right across from the Kew Green cricket pitch called, aptly enough, The Cricketers. Never had a nicer fish finger sandwich than they do there! James also recommends the same place when he and Merrick pick Henry up at the airport several months later… which leads, of course, to a brief brush between Shawn and Henry.
James is a lifelong Londoner, while Shawn is a transplant from Blackpool who has done everything in his power to turn his back on his post-industrial upbringing. After having made some very fortunate investments early in his career in electronics, Shawn now volunteers much of his time to LGBT charities in London, doing fundraising and event planning that take him to some posh central London addresses. But his deepest passion is for the history and archaeology that he never had the opportunity to pursue as a career.
Being James and Merrick’s best friends, naturally Shawn and Henry are both on-hand to help James and Merrick in their move from London to the suburbs of Cardiff. Shawn, a devoted England Rugby supporter, has travelled to Cardiff on a number of occasions when England is playing against Wales in the Welsh capitol. He has his preferred hotel and knows the best places in the city for dinner and a drink. Everything changes when Shawn invites Henry up to his hotel room overlooking Cardiff Bay.
Now, I have to admit that I’m cheating a bit there. I haven’t had a chance to get up to the car shows and races at Goodwood in Chicester, but I often go to a local vintage car weekend held in the summer. The races are run not on a dedicated motoring circuit, but on city streets. It’s the sort of thing Henry would love!
When Shawn and Henry visit their friends, a night out on the town in Cardiff’s city centre always has plenty on offer.
As much as Henry loves cars and racing, that’s how much Shawn loves history. When Henry encourages Shawn to do something to bring his lifelong passion out of books and documentaries, Shawn starts thinking about joining a hobbyist archaeology group and learning about how he could volunteer to work on a dig site. There’s not much to hide the rich history of truly ancient Wales. You can stumble over 3000 year old Neolithic burial chambers just sitting there on the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path.
I hope you’ve enjoyed touring through some of the sites and locations in “Shawn and Henry”!
James and Merrick (Take a Shot, book 1) are just beginning to navigate their relationship, and their best friends, Shawn Lasting and Henry Martin, are doing their best to be cautiously supportive. Shawn and Henry frequently come into contact, but after the tension and animosity of their first meeting, they remain wary of each other.
When Shawn finally confronts Henry about his animosity, their tension proves to have been sexual all along and quickly transforms into a long-distance relationship. With encouragement from Shawn, Henry explores his sexuality far more than he’s ever previously allowed. Meanwhile, Henry encourages Shawn to work toward making some of his own lifelong dreams a reality.
When Henry informs Shawn he’s in love with him, Shawn balks and explains that he’s always been a no-strings sort of guy, leaving Henry feeling stung and rejected.
A difficult family experience at his mother’s funeral makes Shawn question some of his preconceptions, and he realises that what he feels for Henry is love. Now, he needs to ask Henry’s forgiveness and hope that it will be enough to let them both have a love neither ever thought possible.
Jessica Skye Davies has been a writer since her first works were “published” in her grandparents’ living room and written in crayon. She’s been a professionally published author since 2011. Jessica lives in Pittsburgh and is active in the community, having served with a local LGBT community center for several years and currently serving with the local Welsh society. She’s often found spending time with friends, attending the symphony, watching hockey, rugby, or soccer, and moonlighting as human pillow/concierge for her official writer’s cat, Squidge.