Books That Changed My Life: Shifting Gears

Some books you enjoy. Some books you rave about. Then there are the books that happen to come into your life at exactly the right moment and give you something you didn’t know you needed. These are the books that change your life.

Back in February of 2016, I released my second novel, Our Little Secret. It was a very exciting time for me as OLS managed to creep up into second place on one of the Amazon Best Seller lists. Which, of course, means I spent a ridiculous amount of time staring at that particular page on my browser. The placings tended to shuffle around hourly, so I had to refresh every minute or so, to make sure I was up-to-date. 🙂

There was another book that hung out beside mine for a few days, which had one of the most beautiful, romantic covers I had ever seen. It had been published within a few days of mine. The book was Shifting Gears by Riley Hart.

At that stage, I had never read an MM romance. I’d read some MMF, and Our Little Secret was an MMF Romance. But I’d never read a book that focused solely on an MM relationship.

I hesitated in those first few days. The idea felt so different from anything I’d ever read before. Like sneaking a peek into a forbidden world. Plus, I’d spent so much on the costs associated with my release that spending money on a book for myself seemed entirely too decadent. But I kept coming back to it over and over. To the cover. The description. The idea. I wanted to know what a true MM Romance was like.

Eventually, I gave in and bought the book. It was amazing!

By the time I reached The End I was hopelessly in love with the main characters. Especially Rod, whose smiling, carefree exterior masked deep insecurities and a desperate need for acceptance and love. Oh, the deliciousness of all that angst!

Needless to say, I was hooked and have been reading MM Romance ever since. It was still some time before I nervously plucked up the courage to pen an MM novel of my own (All the Broken Pieces was my first). But I can definitely say that Shifting Gears was the book that started me on the path to where I am today. I will forever be grateful to the talented and generous Riley Hart for providing such a swoonworthy introduction to the world of MM Romance.

Do you remember your first MM Romance? If so, I’d love to know which book or author seduced you into the fold. Simply hit reply on this email to respond.

The Characters Who Sneak Up On You

Toni Fairweather was never supposed to have a happy ending. Even though The Experiment (the first book in the Experimental Love series) opened with a description of his soft lips and pretty features, he was only ever meant to be a throwaway side character. The man my main character, Patrick, didn’t want to kiss.

I’ll admit Toni was all kinds of fun to write. He was snarky and dramatic, with adorable dimples and a deep love of cocktails. But once I finished writing those initial chapters, I never expected to cross paths with him again.

Fast forward to the final chapters of The Experiment. My second main character, Logan, returned to the same club where the book opened. He was determined to find a fling to help him forget his heartache over losing Patrick (yes, it was during that part of the book). Obviously, I couldn’t let that happen. Someone had to get in the way. But who? The answer quickly became obvious: Toni.

With a cocktail in hand and a sympathetic ear to lend, he sauntered back onto the page as if his return were inevitable. Apparently, he’d been hanging out around the edges of my subconscious waiting for his cue. By the end of that second scene, Toni had morphed into a fully-fledged character. Every word and action revealed hints of depth and vulnerability. I loved him in that moment, and I loved the way he took care of Logan when he was in dire need of a friend.

Readers fell in love with Toni, too. Soon after the book was released, I started to get requests for Toni to get a story of his own. Without a doubt, he had become far too bright and shiny to ignore.

I’m so glad I listened to my readers and looked deeper into Toni’s story. For all his surface level snark and tendency to be a bit ‘extra’, he has such a big heart and so much love to give. Toni is one throwaway side character who truly deserved a happy ending all his own.

Toni’s story, Bona Fide Fake, is available now on Amazon (including KU).