Three weeks to go until the release of Encore (Blue Notes #5) from Dreamspinner Press! I am SO excited for you all to read this one–it’s my favorite so far in the series and is a bit of a glimpse into a past I share with these characters. Want a chance to win one or all of the first four Blue Notes books? Be sure to read the instructions at the end of this post to get yourself entered!
Like the other Blue Notes Series books, Encore, is a standalone novel. Readers who have read the other Blue Notes novels will recognize some of the secondary characters, but if you haven’t read those yet, this is a great book to start with because it is the first, chronologically, in the series (and probably will stay that way, since I doubt I’ll be heading back in time beyond where this book starts in the early 1970s). For those who have read all or some of the books in the series, I hope you’ll enjoy getting to see Alex Bishop (Prelude), David Somers (Prelude), and Cary Redding (The Melody Thief) before they were superstars.
In the coming weeks, I’ll be sharing excerpts from the book and letting you know about a terrific Encore blog tour giveaway I’ll be running starting on release day, November 11th! But before that giveaway, I’ve got two others to tell you about:
First, I’ve got a Goodreads giveaway where you can win a paperback copy of Prelude.
Last, but hardly least…. Do you want a chance to win a Complete Set of Blue Notes Series books? I’m giving away a signed set of 4 books (US readers) or a set of ebooks (non-US readers) on November 1st to celebrate the countdown to Encore’s release. Enter here: Blue Notes Paperback Giveaway
I’ll leave you with the blurb and an excerpt from Encore – after high school graduation, the first time John and Roger have sex. Good luck on the drawings everyone! -Shira
Encore, by Shira Anthony from Dreamspinner Press pre-order link: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=4353&cPath=55_484
Blurb: A Blue Notes Novel
Cool kid violinist Roger Nelson doesn’t give a damn about anything. Wannabe conductor John Fuchs is awkward, effeminate, and just figuring out he’s gay. Despite their differences, they become friends—then lovers—and after college, they try to make it work. But it’s the 1970s, and Roger can’t bring himself to admit he’s gay. Worse, after his brother is killed in Vietnam, Roger tries to live up to his memory and be the perfect son. Then after suffering one tragedy too many, he makes the biggest mistake of his life: Roger pushes John away.
Through the years, they dance around the truth and in and out of each other’s lives, never quite able to let go. Twenty years later, Roger still carries the pain of losing his dream of a brilliant career with him, while John is a superstar conductor with a wild reputation. John’s off-stage antics get him plenty of attention, good and bad, though deep down, he wants only Roger. Finally determined to hold on to what really matters, Roger asks John for another chance, and when John panics and runs, Roger has to convince him to listen to his heart.
NSFW Excerpt from Chapter Seven
John arrived at Olivia’s later than he’d intended. His grandmother had flown in for graduation, and he’d eaten dinner out with his family to celebrate. If you could call it a celebration: it was more like someone’s funeral. His parents barely spoke during the meal, and his grandmother just glared at them both. John had done his best to keep the conversation going, but he’d spent more time than he wanted just looking at his food. When he finally left the house in his mother’s car, it was nearly ten. Well, maybe ten fifteen, since his mother insisted on reminding him not to drink or drive and, to his great mortification, gave him a handful of condoms. “You may be eighteen, but you wouldn’t want to ruin your life by getting a girl pregnant on the night of your high school graduation.” As if that would ever happen!
“Hey, John.” Olivia was a round-faced girl who played oboe in the orchestra and had dated Roger a few times. Nobody went out with Roger more than a few times, and nobody seemed to mind much either. He was just, well, Roger.
“Hi, Livvie.” John’s face was hot as she pulled him inside and handed him a cup of something that looked like fruit punch. Cherry red, like Jell-O. “Thank you for inviting me.”
She giggled and he kicked himself for being so formal. Embarrassed, he took a long drink. It wasn’t punch. Or rather, it was punch, but with enough alcohol that it burned going down. He managed not to cough, but he was sure his face was bright red.
They walked through the living room, where several couples were making out on the sofa and love seat, then headed down to the basement by way of the kitchen stairs. The room was full of people, most of whom he knew or had seen around the band room. The place smelled of pot and cigarettes, and loud music blared from a double set of speakers placed in each corner of the room. “Smoke on the Water.” He’d heard the song before on an eight-track cassette Roger loved to play in the car.
John spotted Roger in the corner, talking to a girl John recognized, a tenth grader. She was watching Roger with the kind of breathless lust that made John feel slightly sick. That, and jealous, although he wouldn’t dignify the emotion by giving in to it.
Roger saw him and waved. John forced a smile and made his way through several groups of people, accepting another cup of the alcohol-with-a-little-red-stuff before sitting down next to Roger.
“Hey, John.” Roger laughed as if John’s name was suddenly funny. His eyes were bloodshot, and John guessed he’d been smoking weed nonstop since he’d arrived. Several empty plastic cups littered the floor beside him. High and drunk.
John finished his own drink in about five minutes, doing his best to ignore the burn at the back of his throat. The stuff was horrible, but it did the trick. His shoulders and neck already felt like jelly—raspberry jelly, he decided as he eased into the sensation—and his mind was blurring rather nicely. Better that way when it came to dealing with Roger and girls.
Someone cranked the volume on the stereo and the tinny speakers crackled. John was glad he was buzzed or the sound would have hurt his ears.
Roger said something to him, but John couldn’t hear it over the music. John pointed to his ears and offered him a shrug. Roger laughed and leaned over, effectively cutting off Miss Tenth Grade from the conversation. “How was dinner?” he asked, his words slurring.
John tried to answer, but Roger rolled onto the floor and nearly into his lap, and he forgot what he was going to say.
“Need more weed.” Roger grinned up at him. “You in?”
“You know I don’t—” John began, but Roger had already gotten to his feet and was pulling him up by his arm. John followed, only vaguely aware of people moving out of their way to let them through. Roger pulled him through a doorway, then closed the door behind them and locked it.
“Don’t wanna share,” Roger mumbled as he pulled a joint from his pocket, lit it, and inhaled.
There was a mattress on the floor, a tiny black-and-white TV propped on a plastic milk crate, and a bunch of psychedelic posters stuck to the wall. John stared at them, trying to decide if they were crooked or if he was just trashed. Probably both. He felt a little dizzy following the swirls around in circles. But maybe that was the pot. The smoke was thick enough that he didn’t think he needed to take a toke to get high.
Roger handed him the joint, mumbling, “I’ll share with you.” He grinned as John took it. “Go on. Try it. Feels good.”
John took a long drag. He smiled at Roger, then began to cough. “Crap!”
“S’okay. Gets better. Try again.”
John blinked away the tears at the corners of his eyes, then drew in more of the smoke. It still burned his throat, and he coughed a little, but he held it longer than before.
“See?” Roger grinned at him and took the joint back, then set it down on an ashtray that was overflowing with cigarette butts.
John nodded and looked back at the posters. “I like the color,” he said to himself. “Like one of those pictures of a nebula or something.”
“Star Trek,” Roger agreed.
John lay on the bed. There was another poster on the ceiling, but it looked blurry, so he just closed his eyes and sighed.
Roger fell back on the bed with a thud, then giggled. John wasn’t sure he’d ever heard Roger giggle. He turned to look at Roger, who was looking back at him with a serious expression. “What?” he asked.
“Nothing.” Roger kept staring at him.
“Come on. Do I look like an alien or something?” He was still thinking about Star Trek, imagining what Leonard Nimoy might look like without the blue uniform top. Pretty good, he guessed.
“Nah. You look good.”
John’s face warmed, but he didn’t say anything. He was too busy eyeing the patch of Roger’s abdomen visible where the fabric of his shirt had scooted up. Roger would look better without a shirt than Spock. Definitely.
Roger rolled onto his side, then pushed himself up on an elbow, his face above John’s. Roger’s odd expression made John feel strange. Horny too. Normally he’d have been mortified for Roger to see him with a boner, but for some reason he didn’t care. He felt really good. Warm and fuzzy and something else: happy. He smiled.
Roger took another toke on the joint, then handed it to John as he held the smoke in. John inhaled, and this time he didn’t cough at all.
“Good stuff,” Roger confirmed.
“It is.” John couldn’t think of anything else to say.
“I’m glad we’re going to college together.” Roger was watching him with the same strange expression as before. It reminded John of the way Roger looked at some of the girls. Dreamy. Kind of sexy.
“Me too.” John hadn’t told Roger just how relieved he’d been when they’d both gotten their acceptance letters to the University of Michigan. They’d only talked about how they could avoid the draft, at least for a few more years. But John had been thinking about more than that. He didn’t know what he’d do without Roger to talk to. And when Roger had asked if he wanted to room with him, John had been even happier.
“You know what I asked you about girls when we were on tour?”
John wasn’t sure how to respond. Of course he remembered it, but he didn’t really want to get into that whole discussion again. “Yes” was all he said.
“I’ve kind of been thinking about it.”
Roger moved closer to him. The joint sat forgotten on the ashtray. “I know this is going to sound weird.” Roger made a funny face—kind of like a slow-motion grin. Or was the pot just making it look that way? “I wasn’t really lying when I said I thought about kissing a guy once.”
John shook his head. “Don’t bullshit me, Roger. I’m not falling for that one again.”
“Fuck you.” John hoped maybe Roger wasn’t bullshitting. Then again, Roger always bullshitted, didn’t he?
Roger leaned closer. Close enough that John felt his breath on his face. Then Roger’s lips met John’s and John bit back a moan. Roger’s lips were warm and slightly moist. Soft too.
Holy crap! John kissed him back. This close, Roger smelled of weed and red punch. Something else too. He smelled like Roger. The thought made John giggle.
“What?” Roger looked a little worried, as if he thought John hadn’t liked being kissed.
“You smell like you. I mean, you smell good.”
John could see relief on Roger’s face. He kissed John again, and this time he put some of his weight on him so John could feel Roger’s erection against his own. John had started to wonder if he was imagining the whole thing, but he was too wasted to care. Besides, in his imagination, Roger had now slipped his arms underneath him and rolled them both onto their sides. Sometime after that, they’d taken their shirts off.
Definitely better than Spock. John touched his fingers to Roger’s chest and traced circles around one nipple, then the other. Imaginary Roger murmured something that came out sounding like “Mmmm… nnnn… uuhhhh.” John decided he wanted to do more than just trace those hard little nubs. Not that he’d ever touched another guy’s nipples before, but he’d sneaked into a gay porn flick once when he’d been on a class trip to New York City, and he had a pretty good idea of what you were supposed to do.
“Fuck, John. What’re you doin’?” Imaginary Roger was grinning, so John figured he was doing okay as he rolled a nipple. After a few minutes, he decided he wanted to taste it. “God. Oh, fucking hell. You’re making me harder than nails.”