Today I am so pleased to welcome Kelli A. Wilkins to Joyfully Jay. Kelli has come to talk to us about her latest release, A Secret Match. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!

 

The Making of… A Secret Match

Hi everyone,

Today I’m sharing a look at the making of A Secret Match, my contemporary gay romance set in the world of professional wrestling. Readers were introduced to Ev (the main character) in my M/F wrestling romance, A Deceptive Match. I fell in love with Ev while writing that book and I knew I needed to tell his story. And it’s not an easy one.

Ev is a conflicted hero. He’s at the peak of his career and needs to do everything in his power to hold the top spot as long as he can. And to do that, he has to pretend to be straight—no matter what.

This doesn’t sit well with Josh. He’s tired of being hidden away and left out of Ev’s professional life. He wants Ev to come out, or at least acknowledge their relationship.

But Ev refuses, for several reasons. His wrestling persona is a heartthrob who women fantasize about, and he needs to maintain his image if he wants to keep his job. Obviously, coming out would threaten his livelihood. (This book was written before it was “acceptable” for wrestlers to come out.) He’s also afraid of what people will think about him if they know he’s gay. After a heated exchange, Josh gives him an ultimatum and walks out. Ev is distraught and turns to his best friend and fellow wrestler, Vinnie for advice. Danni (Vinnie’s wife) and Vinnie play a crucial role in Ev’s story—both in his personal journey—and in the ring.

The head of the wrestling organization, Nick August, tells Ev he has to go along with a “steal my woman” angle involving Vinnie and Danni. As part of the storyline, Ev has to kiss Danni in front of a live audience. This is a major turning point in the book. Ev is torn between living a lie and being true to himself—and in the spur of the moment, he comes out on live TV.

From there, all hell breaks loose.

Ev instantly regrets what he’s done and is afraid he’s just tanked his career, some of the other wrestlers aren’t thrilled with the news, and Nick August is beyond furious. But in true wrestling fashion, the fans think it’s all a “work”—until Ev comes out again. This time, he’s out and proud.

When I wrote the book, I knew Ev and Josh would be apart for about a third of the story, (wrestlers have grueling schedules and are on the road 280+ days a year), but I wanted to give readers a peek into their lives before the break-up.

I decided the best way to do that was through flashbacks. Over the course of the book readers learn how Ev and Josh met, see their first kiss, and more. When Josh and Ev finally do reconnect, readers know all about them and realize they’re meant to be together.

A Secret Match has everything a good wrestling storyline needs: action, heroes, heels, drama, humor, sexy wrestlers—and in this case, some pretty hot love scenes. It takes readers (and the characters) on an emotional roller coaster ride.

I welcome questions and comments from readers. You can contact me via the form on my site or on social media.

Happy Reading,

Kelli A. Wilkins


Excerpt

Everett finished his beer and gazed around Josh’s living room. It was comforting to have someone to talk to, instead of constantly keeping everything bottled up inside. It had been years since he’d been alone with a guy, and he liked Josh, liked him a lot. But he was worried. What if something went wrong? What if Josh told someone?

Josh gave his shoulder a little shove. “Come on, out with it, Muscles. Either you really love staring at my bookcase, or you’re too shy to face me. I know you’re thinking about something behind those beautiful blue eyes.”

“I… nah…”

“What? Anything. Say it.”

He glanced at Josh out of the corner of his eye. “I was wondering what it would feel like to… kiss you.”

“Why don’t we find out?” Josh took Ev’s empty beer bottle and set it down on the end table. “Come here.”

He let Josh draw him into his arms. He closed his eyes and waited, his heart hammering. A second later, Josh’s lips gently pressed against his. Ev gasped and kissed him back gingerly.

Josh increased the pressure, and their mouths moved in unison. The scent of Josh’s spicy vanilla cologne washed over him and he lost himself in the tender embrace. Josh’s beard grazed his cheek, sending an electric tingle racing up his spine. God, this was good.

He clutched Josh tighter, holding on to him for dear life, not daring to let go. Josh groaned and slid his tongue into his mouth. An adrenaline rush of excitement flooded through him, and his cock sprang to life.

Dear God, he wasn’t supposed to have these kinds of feelings, this hunger, for another man, but it felt right. The wet heat of Josh’s tongue swirling around his drove him into a frenzy, and he kissed Josh deeper, praying this would never end.

After a few minutes, Josh eased away. “You are amazing. That was hot.”

Ev smiled. “It’s been so long. I forgot how good this could be. I feel safe with you. I really do.”

Josh rested his head on Ev’s chest. “You should, because you are. And don’t worry, we’ll take this slow. You set the pace, Muscles. Whatever you’re comfortable with works for me.”


Blurb

Everett Kinkade is a world-famous professional wrestler and the sexy heartthrob of millions of adoring female fans. But Ev has a secret he doesn’t dare share with anyone. He’s gay.

After years of being Ev’s secret lover, Josh is tired of hiding in the shadows and wants Ev to openly acknowledge their relationship. Coming out is the last thing Ev wants and fears it will ruin his career.

One night in a moment of truth, Everett outs himself on live TV. There’s no going back, and his announcement sparks a firestorm of problems—both personally and professionally. He’s forced to come to grips with who he really is while facing down a manipulative boss and a tag-team out to destroy him.

Torn between living a lie and losing the man he loves, Ev has risked everything… can he find a balance between his career and his heart?

Order A Secret Match here:


Bio

Kelli A. Wilkins is an award-winning author who has published more than 100 short stories, 20+ romance novels, and 6 mystery/horror ebooks. Her romances span many genres and settings, and she likes to scare readers with her horror and mystery stories.

Kelli released her fourth gay romance, A Thousand Summer Secrets, in April 2024. This tender contemporary romance takes place over a summer weekend, where two friends reconnect while seeking love and acceptance.

She published The Route 9 Killer, a mystery/thriller set in Central NJ, in early 2023.

Follow Kelli on her Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorKelliWilkins and visit her website/blog www.KelliWilkins.com for a full title list and social media links.

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