Book Review: Fortitude Smashed by Taylor Brooke

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Summary:

After scientists stumbled across an anomalous human hormone present during moments of emotional intimacy, further research created the ability to harness the direction of living energy and pinpoint when two lines will merge. Personalized chips are now implanted beneath the thumbnails of every infant, where glowing numbers count down to the moment they will meet their soul mate. Fate is now a calculation.

But loving someone isn’t.

When Shannon Wurther, the youngest detective in Southern California, finds himself face-to-face with Aiden Maar, the reckless art thief Shannon’s precinct has been chasing for months, they are both stunned. Their Camellia Clocks have timed out, and the men are left with a choice—love one another or defy fate.


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Fortitude Smashed is the first and only book I have ever read for review that I re-read and took notes in the margins of with a pen and a highlighter. That I loved so much I wanted to wallow in on every level I would be allowed to. That’s been sitting on my nightstand for months just so I can keep savoring tiny moments.

I read the book in one go; I fell in love with Aiden and with Shannon, I fell in love with them falling in love.  The beauty of the conceit of fated people learning to be together in Brooke’s hands is this: These men are both ready and not, are willing and unwilling, and prickly but open. Their Rose Road gives them the space to struggle, as we do, but with the safety of understanding that this is meant. In this way, we are privileged to witness Aiden and Shannon as they go through a particular journey of personal growth that only this situation, this Rose Road, this circumstance could bring.

In Fortitude Smashed Brooke built a family of secondary characters that I both adored and was incredibly irritated by at times — in short, she gave these men family and friends that were fleshed out humans, not just foils or plot devices to move particular aspects of the story around. A great cast of secondary characters is hard to pull off and Brooke does it. I love the gender/sexuality/identity representation we see thus far in this series — I’m excited to see what comes in the next few, as I’ve seen the author address questions related to this in blog tour interviews and on her twitter. I’d like to articulate my feelings on this well, but my friend Annie at From Top To Bottom Reviews has done a better job of capturing it here in her review.

I read this book the first time fully knowing there was even more to the story under the layers Brooke created, but unable to stop because I was so caught up in the story. The point of this being: if you don’t feel like you want to do any literary analysis to enjoy the shit out of a beautiful book, you don’t. This book, I promise, will be a lovely experience regardless.

That said…the first time I read Fortitude Smashed, I knew it was special. I knew I loved it a few pages in, but it was on page 26 when Aiden first speaks to the Empty Man that I knew that what Brooke is crafting in this series is literature.

“Aiden thought the heart of the world, like fate, was buried in the sea and, despite his hunger, he would never find it.” (26)

Fortitude Smashed is filled with some really heart stopping prose. I mean, the kind of phrase turning that makes you stop and re-read just to enjoy the sheer poetry of it. None of Brooke’s words or images function as still art alone. Rather, she deploys every image with precision.

“Spread out on the bed with a blush creeping from his chest to his face, Aiden was still a cluster of knives. Shannon’s willingness to bleed defied every shred of control he had left.” (135)

The second time I read this book, I had a pen, a highlighter, and lots of quiet. I savored it. I really let myself look at how Brooke used images, names, words, flowers to tell us more about Aiden (whose name, consequently means “little fire” or “ardent”) and Shannon (whose name means “wise river” or “possessor of wisdom”) (I’ll just let you sit in that lovely tidbit for a moment, take it with you when you read the book and it’ll just add a lovely layer).

Brooke’s use of metaphor and imagery, particularly in reference to the two pieces of art, Fortitude Smashed and Catalyst, as well as the Empty Man Aiden meets on the beach at the beginning and near the end of the novel, are brilliantly situated, used, and executed.  We begin the book with Aiden and Shannon meeting just as Aiden is attempting to steal Fortitude Smashed,  a piece of art made of flowers and flower parts (lilies, dandelion and baby’s breath, all of which represent particular things. For example, lilies represent restored innocence after death). Aiden later tells Shannon he wanted to steal it because it reminded him of himself. When Shannon goes to buy it for him, after they’ve fallen in love, he actually sees it for the first time, and in it:

“…a containment of life in death in one piece…The lily’s stem was snapped from the rest of the petals, which gave the flower a sense of detachment. It was nature’s grenade in the midst of detonating, a slow-motion explosion…” 147

It is in this moment that Shannon really understands — this was who Aiden was in the moment they met. This is how Aiden understood and saw himself.

As fate would have it, Shannon is unable to buy Fortitude Smashed — instead he buys another piece, which we don’t get to see until the end of the book: Catalyst, which is made of ivy and dandelion, calla lily and tulip: flowers that represent youth, rebirth, perfect love, fidelity, affectionate attachment. What I loved so deeply about this is that Brook doesn’t tell us any of this — she doesn’t give the reader the meanings. She’s given the reader gifts inside her prose. Aiden and Shannon’s struggle to understand, walk, and love one another as their Rose Roads is done gorgeously, with care and depth and understanding. And underneath it all Brooke infuses her language and images with depth and symbolism that make the story all that much richer.

Before I finish with my high high praise for an #ownvoices story about mental illness, I want to go back to the Empty Man and how he functions as a catalyst at the beginning of the story when Aiden is really struggling with the idea that his Rose Road is a cop; when he’s struggling with his self worth and his demons; when we’re learning that despite his hard exterior, Aiden is terrified of not finding his heart. How deeply he wants that Rose Road and love.

“‘Someone told me I would eat the heart of the world one day,’ Aiden said….’I’ve always loved the world, but I never thought I’d find the heart of it, the best of it, the center of it. I did though. I found it,” he added quickly. ‘Or it found me, I’m not sure which.’

‘I don’t know either, but you’ve completely consumed it.’

Aiden offered a shy smile, one of his gentle rarities, and he kissed Shannon again.” (315)

To summarize there, thank you Taylor, for this really heart wrenching, human, gorgeous love story.

And now, the part I really, really want people to leave with. This is an #ownvoices story in regards to mental health rep, with both Brooke (author) and Aiden having mental illness.  Personally, as someone who also not only struggles with but survives with mental illness, Aiden’s story and representation meant the world to me. Shannon doesn’t cure Aiden. Fate, love, romance, sex — none of it “fixes” Aiden –– because there’s nothing to be fixed. Aiden is beautifully imperfect, he’s human, he has a mental illness, but he isn’t his mental illness. People living with depression or bipolar, with dysthmia or cyclothemia (me) or any other number of MI — our MI’s don’t define us. Stories where love “cures” or “fixes” characters with MI really bother me because that’s not how life works. My husband loves and supports me, his presence has helped save my life, but at the end of the day, I save my life. I make it through each day. I am the center of my survival and recovery. Brooke writes a love story with healing, with hope, and where the characters are ultimately the primary agents of change and wellness in their own lives, which they then bring to each other and their love. I can see this theme in Daisy’s story; I can see this agency in Chelsea’s story — I look forward to what Brooke will do with them in future books in this series with utter trust in her skill.


About the Author:

After fleshing out a multitude of fantastical creatures as a special effects makeup professional, Taylor turned her imagination back to her true love—books. When she’s not nestled in a blanket typing away on her laptop, she can be found haunting the local bookstore with a cup of tea, planning her next adventure, and fawning over baby animals.

Website |Twitter | Facebook

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Dialect in Dialogue: Guest Post with Open Ink Perspectives

A couple of months ago I had the honor of being asked to write a guest post for Open Ink’s Perspectives blog. It was published a few days ago, and I wanted to take the opportunity to share it with my readers who may not have seen me tweet about it! Meant to engender conversation with both readers and writers, I hope y’all will enjoy and share your thoughts. Many thanks to Open Ink for hosting me!


When I was writing my third novel, Idlewild, I spent a lot of time pondering (agonizing) over speech patterns in dialogue for my characters. This story takes place in downtown Detroit; in it we have Tyler, a young, genderqueer black man coming out of college and into adulthood who grew up in the city. We also have Asher, a sort-of middle aged (I am struggling to reconcile 33 as middle aged, if only so I can avoid being called so myself, ha!) Jewish man from the suburbs who has become stuck in the wake of his partner’s death. Idlewild was a beast to write; in part because good, complex romance involves complex people navigating the world, and writing that is hard. Additionally, this particular book touches on many difficult to navigate threads: race, class, gentrification and grief being the most prominent.

Idlewild also features a third character: Malik. Malik is Tyler’s boyfriend at the start of the story (no worries, no cheating). When Idlewild came out, I was not expecting people to fall for Malik. I was definitely not expecting requests to write him a story! I think many authors can speak to the fear we harbor that readers might hate a character we love. Having readers fall in love with a character who might be divisive was lovely.

Read More

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Buy Links:

INTERLUDE, AMAZON , BARNES & NOBLE , SMASHWORDS, KOBO ,BOOK DEPOSITORY, INDIEBOUND 

 

30% off Sale!

Today only (Valentine’s Day!), all three of my books are 30% off on the Interlude Press book store using the code #LOVE

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badge-fiction-100x128Kirkus Best Books of 2016

“Sierra (What It Takes, 2016, etc.) has created a very natural and psychologically astute portrayal of a romantic relationship, by turns funny, delightful, and painful….A lovely, finely wrought romance that reminds us that to truly love another, we must know our own hearts.”– Kirkus

In a last ditch effort to bring the downtown Detroit gastro pub he started with his late husband back to life, Asher Schenck fires everyone and hires a completely new staff. Among them is Tyler Heyward, a 23-year-old recent college graduate in need of funds to pay for med school. As their relationship shifts from business to friendship, Tyler falls for Asher and finds himself caught between the things he thought he wanted and the things he hasn’t allowed himself to dream about. Working together, they get to know each other’s dreams.

Idlewild is a story about love and healing set in the backdrop of Detroit’s revival.

Buy Links:

Idlewild is available for purchas at Interlude Press Webstore

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 ... Sierra (Hush) uses rich characterization and lyrical writing to infuse this slow-building romance with depth, humor, and pathos. Readers will savor every dip and peak of Milo and Andrew’s relationship as they balance the need for safety with the necessary risk of pursuing happiness.” — Publishers Weekly

The connection was instantaneous. Moments after Milo Graham’s family relocates to Cape Cod, he meets Andrew Witherell—launching a lifelong friendship built on a foundation of deep bonds, secret forts, and plans for the future.

When Milo is called home from college to attend his domineering father’s funeral, he and Andrew finally act on their mutual attraction. But doubtful of his worth, Milo decides to sever all ties with his childhood friend.

Circumstances send both men home again years later, and their long held feelings will not be denied. But will they have what it takes to find lasting love?

What it Takes is currently available at Interlude Press Web Store

hush cover

“In her debut novel, Sierra explores Cam’s emotional confinement and burgeoning self-discovery with poetic delicacy, as she does with Wren’s guilt and complete fear of relinquishing himself to the vulnerability of a relationship. Through a great deal of character exposition, Sierra skillfully captures the frustration of navigating identity and interpersonal relationships for those to whom it doesn’t come easy. The subtle twist of fantasy enhances the narrative while also complicating the notion of consent…it is a worthy read and a valuable addition to the genre.”~Library Journal

One secret can change everything.

Wren is one of “the gifted”—a college sophomore with the power to compel others’ feelings and desires. He uses his power as a game of sexual consent until Cameron, a naïve freshman, enters his life. As Cameron begins to understand his sexuality and gain confidence under Wren’s tutelage, Wren grows to recognize new and unexpected things about himself.
Will Cameron’s growing confidence finally break down Wren’s emotional walls, or will Wren walk away from his best chance for love?

Hush, is currently for sale at Interlude Press Web Store

Holiday cheer and a little fuck you to the establishment

If you need a last-minute gift for US domestic delivery, we’ll upgrade your shipping to Priority Mail at no expense through 5pm ET on December 21st. Need it gift wrapped? Just tell us. We’ll wrap it for free! Shipping upgrade is limited to available...It’s the perfect time of year for gift giving. Even if you aren’t a holiday person, as 2016 draws to a close, I think it’s safe to say that giving people the gift of love stories and happy endings wouldn’t come amiss! Interlude Press is now offering shipping upgrades (priority mail, no charge) AND offering gift wrapping.

In all seriousness, for many people things have been tense and frightening in recent news. I know I’ve felt defeated at times. I almost gave up in the middle of writing a new story I love in November.

Thankfully, several very wise women advised me: now is the time more than ever. It is the time to celebrate diversity, to influence change through support, to refuse to be quiet, to give up on love and freedom of expression.

There is a lot of really beautiful fiction out there for us all to read and to savor. And I have to tell you, small presses are excellent places to find diverse stories by diverse authors. They are giving authors opportunities and letting them take risks, and I encourage readers to support each other, authors, and small presses. I mean, that’s a lovely little fuck off to those who want to silence us.

I am proud to say that all of my books are representative of diversity in some way: Cam, my MC in Hush is Venezuelan (like my father, I really wanted a bit of that heritage in here). Milo, from What it Takes suffers from anxiety, panic attacks and PTSD (as I do).

I’m particularly proud of Idlewild, my newest release: when I set out to write this story, I new it would be about class and race, about the complexities of gentrification and Detroit’s history. I knew I was going to write an interracial love story. I had no idea that the timing of this novel would feel so apt and so empowering.

I am a Latinx author. I am bi, I am a woman. I’ve been told no for many, many reasons. I’ve been told that what I do is disgusting, dirty, shameful.

I wrote a LGBT, interracial love story with a black, genderqueer character and a Jewish character, and it was named a Kirkus Best Romance of 2016.  I didn’t write this story because I felt that we needed a representative black character in romance, or to throw in some genderqueer spice (yes, ew, I have heard that said). I wrote a story about people: people I see around me, love stories I see around me, the fucking diverse and subversive, those who want a happy ending, or whose happy ending is a middle finger at the establishment. All of us. 

~*~

Hush, What it Takes and Idlewild are all available for purchase through multiple retailers (links on my book page). Order through Interlude Press for an upgrade on shipping.

 

 

A little sweet, a little sexy, a little excerpt

In honor of my blog tour being over for Idlewild’s release, I asked what y’all wanted and sweet and sexy were requested. Have a little morning after, when things are still really new, fun and a little scary. With the sweetness of uncertainty.

~*~

It’s not that Tyler, asleep in his bed, appears young, precisely. But there’s an innocence in the way Tyler’s legs curl toward his body. His hands are tucked under the pillow, and in stillness, there’s something almost other about him. Tyler’s charisma comes from his body and words, and from his bright and changeable eyes. His face, lost for its animation, displays his natural beauty differently than when he is awake.
Asher lets him sleep for a while longer, though. Wrapped in a blanket, he sits with a mug of tea on the couch and lets the lovely buzz of satisfaction linger. Down in Asher’s bones is the relief of finally connecting with another human body, of giving touch where he’s ached
to for a long time. His body had starved for it, but he’s been so busy. That he’s had the privilege of doing so with Tyler, this bright, beautiful flame of a boy he’s been lucky to have in his life, is an honor.
He has no idea what happens from here. Tyler’s spent weeks caught in a back-and-forth with Malik. He’s worked harder than anyone might expect, given Malik’s obvious fears and inability to commit. He wonders if it is too much to let Tyler sleep here. But it’s late, and he certainly doesn’t want him to leave.
Asher is tired: the good kind of tired, but still tired. He gets into bed carefully, hoping not to startle Tyler awake. He pulls the covers up when Tyler’s eyes open, hazy and hardly cognizant. He smiles and slides over, tucking his head onto Asher’s shoulder and tangling their legs. He’s asleep almost immediately, and then so is Asher.
* * *
Morning comes with the buzz of his phone. It’s too early for sunlight; it’s that part of winter when sunlight becomes a rare commodity. Asher’s always been lucky because he’s never felt low when the days are short and the darkness presses.

 

He grabs the phone and swipes at the screen. He’s got shipments coming this morning, but he has a little time. Usually he’d use this time to tidy the restaurant or to try to keep up with the office system Tyler set up.
But Tyler’s sleeping body is still a warm presence in his bed; they’d shuffled apart in sleep, but under the covers is the delicious warmth of another body. Asher is still unsure of what happens when the day does truly break, and they have to have a conversation about what this means.
Right now though, there is a beautiful boy in his bed whose eyes melt, liquid and stunned, under his attention, who is reticent to let go but breathtaking when he gives in to his body’s desire to take and take.
He turns on the bedside lamp and rolls over and puts one hand on Tyler’s naked hip, then kisses the back of his neck. Tyler wakes with a sigh, then a long, arched stretch. He rolls onto his back and smiles at him.
“Good morning,” Tyler whispers. Asher’s eyes linger on his lips, but when he meets his eyes, he hopes that look communicates what he wants well enough. The loft is hushed in a fragile spell. He wants to lean into that silence with Tyler, to take as much of this night as possible. He mouths the words back. Tyler’s hand strokes down his waist, then carefully, down over the curve of his ass. In his eyes are questions that Asher can answer by rolling on top of him and kissing him.

~*~

I want to thank all of the book bloggers that hosted me on this tour. There were lots of great interviews and even a rare Asher sighting 😀 I’ll be posting a round up soon.

Idlewild is now available for purchase at the following retailers:

INTERLUDE http://store.interludepress.com/collections/idlewild-by-jude-sierra

 AMAZON http://amzn.to/2fiefzf

 APPLE https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/idlewild/id1114833554?mt=11

 BARNES & NOBLE http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/idlewild-jude-sierra/1123818291?ean=9781945053078

 SMASHWORDS https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/637143

 KOBO https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/idlewild-7

ALL ROMANCE EBOOKS https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-idlewild-2058759-149.html?referrer=55feb862851f8

BOOK DEPOSITORY http://www.bookdepository.com/IDLEWILD-Jude-Sierr/9781945053078?ref=grid-view/?a_aid=InterludePress

 INDIEBOUND http://www.indiebound.org/book/9781945053078&aff=InterludePress

Idlewild Release today!

So follow my book tour and you’ll get little slices of life and insights into Idlewild, and where you’ll have access to a rafflecopter giveaway! Below (in this post you’ll also find ALL the links to buy Idlewild!)

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Idlewild buy links:

INTERLUDE http://store.interludepress.com/collections/idlewild-by-jude-sierra

 AMAZON http://amzn.to/2fiefzf

 APPLE https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/idlewild/id1114833554?mt=11

 BARNES & NOBLE http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/idlewild-jude-sierra/1123818291?ean=9781945053078

 SMASHWORDS https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/637143

 KOBO https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/idlewild-7

ALL ROMANCE EBOOKS https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-idlewild-2058759-149.html?referrer=55feb862851f8

BOOK DEPOSITORY http://www.bookdepository.com/IDLEWILD-Jude-Sierr/9781945053078?ref=grid-view/?a_aid=InterludePress

 INDIEBOUND http://www.indiebound.org/book/9781945053078&aff=InterludePress

 

Idlewild food porn sneak peek?

I asked y’all what you wanted if I finished NaNoWriMo today and people wanted sexy, foody, sexy food type things. I can’t promise you food porn, BUT I can offer you Asher, Tyler, some sexual tension and apple muffins!

~*~

“Making sure no one burned the place to the ground?” Tyler asks. Leaving the restaurant in Claudia’s hands had made Asher antsy all day.

Asher is crouched behind the line, counting the pans George set up before leaving. “I think someone would have told me by now if it burned down,” he says absently. Tyler rolls his eyes. He drags Asher out by his arm.

“Enough. George and Santos are more than competent enough todo their jobs. Everything is fine.”

Asher sighs and runs his hand through his hair. It had been adorably mussed by the winds in the apple orchard; it’s positively wild right now. Tyler resists the urge to smooth it.

“So…” Tyler clears his throat. Ever since his talk with Asher about John he’s wondered how Asher’s managed all these years without processing his grief. He doesn’t want to push him, but he’d love to help Asher recall good memories and learn to carry them from his past into his life. He steps closer. “I was thinking… maybe you could teach me.”

“Teach you?” Asher repeats. A momentary quiet hangs heavy and loaded between them. Tyler blinks and takes a step back. That too much-feeling curls in his stomach. It feels dangerous and unintentional and heady, and a shade wrong when Malik is waiting at home for him— or could be. He never knows anymore.

“How to make the muffins,” Tyler says carefully.

“Oh. I think that would be nice.” Asher’s smile is sad.

“Are you sure? I’m sorry; I didn’t mean—”

“No,” Asher interrupts, “I think I’d enjoy that.”

#

“It’s not a hard recipe,” Asher says when he comes down. He went upstairs to search for it. Tyler waited for what seemed like ages.

“Oh?” Tyler says. This is a very strange moment. John’s ghost resurrected has been by his questions; he doesn’t want to fuck up.

“How many are we making anyway?” Asher asks.

“I don’t know. We’re having an employee appreciation night tomorrow, right?”

“Yeah.”

“Want to make the muffins to go with the cider?”

Asher props the recipe card against the container of flour he’s retrieved. “That sounds great.”

“Awesome,” Tyler says. Asher smiles, and it’s not sad this time, or hopeful or anything to make this whole exercise hard. It’s normal, it’s level. Tyler loves that smile and the natural camaraderie.

“All right, boss, tell me what needs doing.”

But for the directions Asher gives him, it’s quiet in the kitchen. Tyler washes and peels and chops the apples while Asher collects and lines up ingredients. Despite the hours he logs here, Tyler’s not very competent in the kitchen.

“You’re going to chop a finger off,” Asher says. “Here.” He takes Tyler’s hands carefully. “Curl the tips of your fingers under.” Asher’s fingers are gentle, warm and bigger than his. A tingle shivers down Tyler’s spine. His breath comes out harder than it should, giving him away. Asher pauses—it’s barely perceptible—and takes a breath of his own. But he doesn’t move away. Tyler can smell him and feel the height difference. Asher’s not overly tall, but he is bigger than Tyler. Most men are.

“How’s that?” Tyler manages. He mimics the movement Asher’s shown him, and places his fingers more carefully on the apple.

“Perfect,” Asher says, and then moves away. Tyler goes back to chopping.

Once they’re finished, Asher tilts the recipe card so that Tyler can see it. He mixes the dry ingredients while Asher does the wet. The air is so charged Tyler almost can’t take it. He looks at Asher often, averting his eyes when Asher glances back. He wants to speak, but there’s nothing to say. This is John’s recipe. Tyler intended this moment to be cathartic for Asher. This isn’t catharsis.

But when Asher glances over at him while he mixes and catches Tyler’s eye, Tyler is sure his feelings are not one-sided. Once the batter is in the tins and then into the oven, Tyler takes his apron off, grabs some water and follows Asher into the breakroom.

He hands Asher the glass and perches on a stool. Instinct—or maybe cowardice—tells him he needs to wait for Asher to break the silence.

“Thank you, Tyler,” Asher finally says. He twists the glass round and round in his hands with his gaze focused on it. “I… I’ve needed this.”

“Anytime,” Tyler says softly, and means it.

~*~

Remember, Idlewild is coming out TOMORROW! I’ll be taking over Interlude Press’s twitter tonight with Erin Finnegan (author of Luchador) to take reader questions, so please come over around 6:30 and send your questions to them! Also, if you like apple muffins, or men making apple muffins, or stories about love, feel free to share that love 😀

Author’s Note: Special *Deluxe* Edition

Before readers even get to Idlewild: The Book, I give them a tiny taste of Detroit: Jude’s Story in the form of an Author’s Note. But as is the way with Author’s Notes, we don’t actually get to tell you our life stories, or the complexities of our ties to particular ones. I won’t do that to you here either. But before we – you as a reader and I as the writer – go on this trip together, I thought I’d offer you a slightly expanded version of my author’s notes. Basically, lemme tell you some stories.

When my father was seventeen years old he came to Detroit from Venezuela to attend what was then called the University of Detroit. At the age of twenty-one he met my mother, who was raised in Redford, a bordering suburb of the city. After five weeks of courtship they married and, a few years later, left the United States. My sister and I were born in Brazil and although we visited the States often, we visited Florida, not Michigan, where my mother’s mother and brother still lived. My sister and I were raised on the stories they and our grandparents would tell of their lives and times in Detroit. Some were heartbreaking: My father and grandmother’s recollections of the 1967 riots, for example, were vivid. Some were not: My grandmother never ran out of funny stories about my grandfather’s time as a Detroit police officer and her days as a rebellious teenager growing up in the city. For some reason I don’t have my mother’s stories. I’d say “for some unknowable reason”, but since my mother is literally the only living person in this cast of characters, if you will, I could actually ask her. I’m not sure if it’s instinct, or her general unreliability as a narrator, but I never have.

That’s not really the point.

When I was twelve years old our family moved back to the Metro Detroit area. From the moment we first flew over the city I was fascinated. Not because I’d never seen a city, since I grew up in São Paulo, one of the largest cities in the world (digression: I cannot tell you the number of people who have actually asked me questions like “did you have electricity in Brazil?” and “Did you live a cardboard hut?” GROWN ASS ADULTS, NO JOKE), but because this was the location of so many stories transforming from ephemeral to real, physical truths.

Every few weeks for years, my sister and I would accompany our father and his uncle to University of Detroit-Mercy basketball games. We went many places downtown such as the Fox Theater for shows, to explore the Detroit Institute of Arts, to the Joe Louis Arena for hockey games, or once, memorably, my mother and I went across the Ambassador Bridge to Canada to pick up a dog (to name a few). Detroit wears its history beautifully and heartbreakingly, and I never tired of seeking out tiny details of that history carved into her landscape.

In the 22 years I’ve lived here, I’ve heard so many horror stories, heard people tell how they would never set foot in the city again, heard the stories the rest of the country relied on to paint a picture of this place — I referenced this in another blog post, the wonderfully (read: sarcasm) dichotomous nature of Detroit’s story elsewhere. Either we’re the sensationalized story of corruption and school “sick-outs” or “the place to be” for good craft beer and high end tapas. These dichotomies don’t leave room for the middle though, for that space in between polar, sensationalized opposites where everyone else reside. However, in these spaces in between are countless people who have stories of hope and resilience, who carry a refusal to give up, and who love this city.

Growing up, I’ve watched the changing face of this city. In this moment, Detroit exists in the nexus of complex issues; so much of Detroit’s story could be told, and I have a love for this city which informed my desire to tell a story that takes place here. That doesn’t mean that the writing of it was easy. Because when you set something in that nexus of complex issues, you have to do your very best to examine or understand them. I cannot claim to be an expert on Detroit – past or present. But it would have run counter my personal ethic to even attempt to do this story without due diligence.

Keeping all of this in mind, it was important for me, and I hope for the reader, to remember that at its heart Idlewild is the story of two men falling in love. Set behind them is a city they both believe in, though their unique understandings of her story are very different. Detroit’s recent history runs much deeper than this story could do justice to, although it informs so much of this book. Writing this was a huge labor of love, and in the process of doing so, I read many excellent books about the city (well and also spent wildly inappropriate amounts of time on the internet getting lost in millions of articles and resources etc). If you are interested in checking any of the books out, there’s reading list under Idlewild Resources (handily on that top menu of my blog). As far as the internet goes, I trust y’all know how to get lost there. But I can always give you some tips 😉

With Idlewild MOMENTS (or two days, but it feels like moments) from release, I hand you this story with the hope that you’ll love these men and this city by the time you’re done.

Romance Novelists, always wanting you to fall in love, eh? What can ya do?

~*~

 

Hush, What it Takes and Idlewild are all available for purchase through multiple retailers (links on my book page). Order through Interlude Press for an upgrade on shipping.

 

idlewild_postcard_frontIf you order Idlewild, remember to email me (judemsierra@gmail.com) proof of purchase to be entered a signed copy of any of my books (and to get a personalized post card!)

All of the Sales! All!

Not only are all of my print books STILL on sale, but Interlude Press is now offering 30% off ALL eBooks with the code CYBER at checkout. Also buy any print or eBook from Interlude Press and you’ll be entered to win a $100 gift card!

Pre-Order a print copy of Idlewild for $13.59

Grab a copy of Hush for $12.79 and What it Takes for $11.04!

idlewild_postcard_frontIf you pre-order Idlewild, remember to email me (judemsierra@gmail.com) proof of purchase to be entered a signed copy of any of my books (and to get a personalized post card!)

Black Friday Book Sale!!

Interlude Press is having a great Black Friday sale! Each of my print books is on sale right now!  Also buy any print or eBook from Interlude Press and you’ll be entered to win a $100 gift card!

Pre-Order a print copy of Idlewild for $13.59

Grab a copy of Hush for $12.79 and What it Takes for $11.04!

idlewild_postcard_frontIf you pre-order Idlewild, remember to email me (judemsierra@gmail.com) proof of purchase to be entered a signed copy of any of my books (and to get a personalized post card!)