The Boy Next Door

The school doors open, light from outside hitting him just right and making his blue eyes sparkle. And his hair color, a rich chestnut brown, is new and makes my knees weak.

“Hey, Bell!” he greets, calling me by my last name as usual. I ignore the popular people at his side who sometimes clearly wonder why we interact. “What’s up?”

The Boy Next Door

5 Superheroes Who Should Come Out Already

I’m not a huge comic book person, so I had no idea about the newest version of the Superman character until I heard a stray comment on TV from a critical pundit. He said something like “Superman is bi now but nobody cares.”

Well unfortunately, homophobes gonna homophobe (slightly less catchy but just as true as haters gonna hate) so somebody always cares and has a problem when our world gets publicly gayer. But people mostly seem to be reacting well, which is awesome. And perhaps by ‘nobody cares’, he meant ‘an angry mob isn’t freaking out and clutching their pearls’ and this is just being treated as a regular thing humans experience, which is even more awesome. I originally assumed this meant Clark Kent was bisexual but apparently his son is the new Superman and likes his friend with pink hair.

More bi representation is awesome, though my only experience with Superman is the ooooold show with Dean Cain and Terri Hatcher. I’d eventually like to watch the newer program with Tyler Hoechlin because he looks very Superman-y and I adore almost everything about him as a person and beautiful human being.

So incredibly pretty, right?

So seeing as I don’t have a big interest in Superman, the comment about nobody caring got me thinking. Which other heroes could come out and generate more excitement? I came up with 5 heroes that the whole world… or at least fans… or at least me would care about extremely if they were gay.

5 Superheroes who should come out already

1. Spiderman (Peter Parker)

Come on, Spidey! Deadpool is already canonically pansexual and he’s waiting for you!

2. Captain America (Steve Rogers)

Despite only seeing a handful of Marvel superhero movies, I caught onto support for bi Steve Rogers being a thing and am wholeheartedly in favor of this development.

3. The Falcon (Sam Wilson)

Not having Disney+, I can’t say how gay the series The Falcon and The Winter Soldier is, so this isn’t the reason I think he should be queer. It’s more because… I got confused somehow and definitely believed he was already canonically gay? I’m not sure what happened but the only thing I (thought) I knew about him when Anthony Mackie first started appearing in the movies was that The Falcon was one of the earliest black gay superheroes. I even remember an interview where Mackie said he wanted his character to hook up with Black Widow and everybody laughed uproariously as if this was hilarious and impossible, and I have literally no idea what the joke was if he wasn’t being comically ignorant about his character’s sexuality. I only realized Sam Wilson wasn’t gay like a year ago and it’s still slightly weird he’s apparently straight.

4. & 5. Old Married Mutants

I ended up seeing First Class randomly in theaters because friends wanted to watch it. I had no idea what to expect and was surprised how good, and gay, the movie was. I remember turning to my friend twice when Professor X and Magneto seemed really in love and saying ‘is it just me…’ and each time she told me I wasn’t crazy, they were acting hella gay (blog title!) Seeing as she is straight and more objective than me, this is totally proof.

Zach

Zach Ahmad is a fun character from the One More Thing Series. I would explain more, but I think this quote showcases my point without needing more context. This is from One Little Lie, which is now available as a box set.

Zach nodded his head at her words, then changed tracks. “Don’t get me wrong, you’re a bitch and we can definitely be friends. But is this seriously the only reason you guys are here? To talk about our big gay feelings?” He grimaced. “I’m already getting enough of this from Luke.”

Maybe things were always weird

One Little Word involves pretend boyfriends, secret fake relationships, regular fake relationships, and actual feelings. All of this refers to one couple. In One Little Lie, there are secret relationships and fake relationships. Luke is one of the parties involved in both scenarios, but there are three people and two different relationships. I’m not sure why, but when talking about pretend dating scenarios, I like making everything sound as complicated as possible.

In one sense, I suppose fake dating is complicated enough. But if you like fake dating stories, then you like the kind of extra drama that can only happen in romcoms.

If you haven’t read One Little Word, no worries. One, it’s included in a box set with One Little Lie. And two, Ryan will also get you up to speed:

It started when an idiot from the baseball team (Luke Chambers) got himself in trouble. There was foul language, high stakes, dire consequences, and then… things got weird. The idiot, being an idiot, decided the best way to get out of the mess he created involved pretending to date me.

Wait, Luke’s moroncy aside, the whole thing worked out great for me. The broken leg sucked, but I healed, and now I had an awesome hottie boyfriend.

A picture is worth…

No matter how many times I paint the feelings, he doesn’t understand. The canvas displays the buttery yellow curtains of his room, the wide-open window and all the hope there painted in shades of pink and possibilities, but he never understands my message. He never hears my love for him.

The Boy Next Door

Hunter Cruse

Here’s a quote from Hunter Cruse, a main character from my YA M/M Kindle Vella novel, The Boy Next Door.

“Hey, losers,” says a voice from the side. Whoa, I was too busy agonizing about the new girlfriend to notice Hunter’s here, leaning against his car. “We can chat while we eat. Let’s go.”

“In a hurry?” Dylan teases.

The older brother looks around with contempt. “I’m done standing in the parking lot of my old high school wondering if maybe I just applied myself like all those teachers begged, I wouldn’t have ended up back here.”

“You can take Sam, right?” Dyl asks as he heads to his car hand-in-hand with Renee. No, no, no.

“Sure, we definitely need two cars for four people.” Hunter tosses me a dry look over his shoulder as he walks to the driver’s side, though it seems more at their expense than mine.

-The Boy Next Door

In the garden

Despite a lack of fence or other divider line, it’s still obvious where our property ends and the Cruse yard begins. Our yard is sparse while the side closest to us on the Cruse property has a pond and archway that leads back into a vibrant garden. Flowers bursting with color perfume the air with an intoxicating aroma as I walk into the backyard.

Mrs. French might call their garden an artist’s dream, a place to stimulate the senses and inspire creativity. Even in the fall, their garden flourishes, and some flowers are always blooming until the first frost.

Plus, their pond kicks ass.

-from young adult romance novel The Boy Next Door

New M/M box set!

Completing a box set for the One More Thing Series has been on my to-do list for a long time. Finally, I can cross it off. Check out this four book bundle for the first four books in the series.

A straight jock thought it was all pretend… until he started to fall for the gay school nerd. Will romance be his best play yet?
Seventeen-year-old Luke Chambers has what every small-town boy desires: a car, varsity jacket, and phone numbers from all the pretty girls. But when a stupid mistake and zero-tolerance teacher could cost the popular pitcher everything, his only hope of redemption involves playing pretend with the school’s biggest loser.

Ryan Miller is sick of being bullied for his sexuality. And his town’s most-admired athlete represents almost everything the smart-mouthed geek hates. So when the guy proposes a fake relationship, he’s not sure cuddling up to a gorgeous straight boy will amount to anything except a huge disaster.

When sparks fly, Luke struggles with confusing feelings even as the sarcastic scientist tries to openly humiliate him. But as Ryan starts to fall for the softer, authentic side of the baseball player, he can’t decipher what’s real and what’s make-believe when their public displays of affection hit far too close to home…

One Little Word starts the One More Thing series when a clueless athlete and witty nerd go from enemies to fake boyfriends and begin an adventure that may change their lives forever.

Get One Little Word and 3 other fantastic books in the One Crazy Love Story Bundle!

Book Review: Lock & West

Writing this is interesting. I LOVE Lock & West by Alexander C. Eberhart. It’s beautiful and powerful, a really great book. Except when reading it, I had very little thoughts. I always have comments whether I love a book or not but it’s especially weird not to have a bunch of opinions about a book I really enjoyed. So we’ll see how this goes.

(Whenever I type Lock’s name, I want to write ‘Locke’ instead. We could say I’m intellectual and thinking of English philosopher John Locke… nah, I’m actually thinking about John Locke the character from Lost.)

Also, I have Kindle Unlimited so I typically borrow books, but I’m going to buy Lock & West. Because it’s fantastic!

Quick Summary: Two guys with different personalities from different backgrounds meet each other and form a connection while facing difficult years at home. Though as they grow closer, they learn home might not be a place. It’s a person. (which is the tagline and used very well in the novel!)

The Story

Lock is put into an awkward position. Lots of things are awkward for him. He’s the nervous type and prone to anxiety. Social interaction isn’t his strong suit, and he lives more in his head than the real word. Very relatable. But life is even more awkward as a new student at high school. He moved from Seattle to Atlanta.

-Quote about Lock

One of the new people he meets is West, who he agrees to tutor in math. They initially get along well enough, and West really likes Lock’s younger brother. They might even be crushing on each other. Though Lock isn’t out or even at the point where he admits his sexuality to himself.

West is an outgoing, funny theater kid who even convinces Lock to attend a party with him. Which is when things get interesting because those crazy kids get drunk and hook up. And that’s only the beginning of the drama.

-Quote about West

Between sorting out their feelings for each other, and Lock figuring out his sexuality, each guy also has their share of personal struggles. Lock’s mom is an alcoholic, his father is dead, and there are many secrets in his family history he doesn’t yet know. West has issues with his weight and his sister’s douchey fiancé.

I’m trying not to be too specific about all this, but there’s a lot of twists and obstacles that crop up. Right when you get used to the story, something changes and new complications and layers are added, which is done in the best ways and is a joy to read.

The Relationship

-Romance

There are moments when the personal issues blend with what’s happening between the guys and other parts where their stories verge off. Sometimes their feelings make things complicated while other times being together provides the only moment of peace in their otherwise hectic lives. They aren’t immediately a couple, and the relationship builds as the novel continues. Like everything else, it’s very emotional and well done and I enjoyed the hell out of these two separately and as a couple.

Only small issue is there are a few parts where their journeys were too separate. And while each storyline is captivating, I still wanted them to come back together for a few scenes. However, this is less something that actually bugged me and more a critique because I always try to find at least one downside to a novel so that I don’t sound like a paid infomercial or something.

Writing Style

Lock writes notes to himself with advice for being a human being while West makes lists. Each are in different handwriting and show up at the start of every chapter, so we see them a lot. This fun little detail makes the book more personalized.

A note from Lock
A list from West

Many chapters are bite-size, though never too brief. From my rambling nature to the way I try to fit as many words into a sentence as possible, these short and sweet chapters are a radical concept for me. However, I really enjoy them. It keeps the novel moving and each section stops at just the right point so you wanna keep reading.

From the Novel

Okay, the way the author describes anything? Amazing. Love how ordinary sentences are packed with so much meaning. You’re just reading the page, chugging along, and then boom, feelings. Several lines sneak up on your with their loveliness. Beautiful writing, just gorgeous from start to finish.

Tags & Warnings (Spoilers!) :

developing relationships, friends to lovers, theater, family, mental health issues, biracial character, mixed raced relationship, eating disorder, abuse, illness, rape, suicide.

I’m going to end with a funny quote from Lock & West:

-(obvi) a funny quote I’m ending with