Sunday, November 22, 2015

Release Tour: Pent Up by Damon Suede (Author Guest Post, ARC Review + Giveaway)



Pent Up: mix business with pleasure and take cover.

Ruben Oso moves to Manhattan to start his life over as a low-rent bodyguard and stumbles into a gig in a swanky Park Avenue penthouse. What begins as executive protection turns personal working for a debonair zillionaire who makes Ruben question everything about himself.

Watching over financial hotshot Andy Bauer puts Ruben in an impossible position. He knows zero about shady trading and his cocky boss lives barricaded in a glass tower with wall-to-wall secrets and hot-and-cold running paranoia. Can the danger be real? Is Andy for real?

What’s a bulletcatcher to do? Ruben knows his emotions are out of control even as he races to untangle a high-priced conspiracy and his crazy feelings before somebody gets dead. If his suspicions are right, Andy will pay a price neither can afford and Ruben may discover there’s no way to guard a heart.


*** ARC provided by the author in exchange for a fair and honest review. ***

Ruben Oso's life is in shambles. He's a recovering alcoholic, recently divorced and just moved from Florida to New York where he lives on his brother's couch. On his way to his first day of work at his brother's security company, he stops a man from being mugged and that man turns out to be their newest client, Andy Bauer. Andy is paranoid and wants to hire Ruben as his sort of bodyguard, even when Ruben tries to get out of it. Ruben feels there's something off regarding Andy, and tries to quit repeatedly, but the longer they remain together, the more he gets to know Andy, the more he's attracted to the other man, even if he's never been attracted to a man before. When it turns that Andy is not all that paranoid and there might actually be someone trying to hurt him, Ruben can't just resign, not when his feelings have been compromised.

It was a bit difficult to connect to both main characters at first, they are damaged men that are battling addiction, even if they're addicted to different things. Ruben is fairly prickly, aloof, but he's lonely and has been for a long time. Andy is friendly and charming, but it's obvious he's hiding something and there's a lot more to him than that enchanting facade. They are complete opposites, one dark, the other fair, one poor, the other filthy rich, yet, they worked well together. This is GFY, mostly for Ruben, and it takes him some time to understand and accept the attraction, although he realizes early on that it's not just sexual, but also that he genuinely likes Andy. 

They have chemistry, there is a sizzling attraction between them, even if it did take a long time for them to actually act on it and when they did, it was a bit awkward, which made sense considering Ruben wasn't too sure of what they were doing and Andy wasn't all that much help either.

The mystery portion of the story dragged a little during the first half of the book, however, once things started to unravel on the second half, the reading turned easier and flowed quite nicely. I loved the twists there at the end, and how it all played out for both Andy and Ruben. 

All in all, it's an interesting read, with complex, damaged characters that manage to become likable despite their limitations at first. 

Rating: 4 Stars!

Straight Shooters: rough sex, tender moments, and how hetero guys bone each other
by Damon Suede

For anyone who hasn’t been paying attention, guys have sex together. A lot.

Straight guys have been having sex with men since, well, always, which is the reason there are so many proscriptions that forbid it in cultural communities that think same-sex attraction is icky. You don’t need to forbid things that people don’t want to do.

Many, many, many men who identify as heterosexual engage in homoerotic behavior during the course of their lives. People are complicated and sexuality exponentially so because it involves interactions between people. Factor in the intense urges of the average XY human and the fact that sex often takes unexpected detours should come as no surprise. When people like each other they do things together, and fucking feels good. Sexuality is not (and shouldn’t be) a boolean switch of Gay/Straight or Vanilla/Kink or Foreplay/Penetration. We’re complex beings and deserve that richness of expression.

Technology has blown open preconceptions and repressions that protected certain myths about human behavior. Again, no surprise. I remember being a teenager just after a time when porn was limited access and the Sears catalog was where many gay farmboys found hunks to dream about. Nowadays, the intelligent teenager can find fantasies on tap, too easily for their own good perhaps. Hell, I remember newspaper personals, and these days a sexually active 20 year old can use hookups apps that allow videostreaming. No matter where people grow up, technology gives them a way to reach people who share their hopes and kinks. Even the straightest guy has plenty of chances to see some hot dude’s boner in detail and probably has.

When I first started writing Pent Up, my challenge to myself was to write an out-for-you book in which two men who identified as straight actually traveled the slow road to acceptance of their mutual attraction. Last couple years, I’ve gotten impatient with out-for-you stories that begin with both characters already lusting over the lifeguard at the pool or the cop on the corner. Where’s the drama in that? If everyone already wants to bone, coming out and connecting feels like pretty weak tea.

Whenever I’m tacking sexuality in a story, I always start with character. In Pent Up I had two guys who’d only been with women; for them to find their way to each other there had to be deep, motivated desires that made both question all their preconceptions about intimacy and happiness. From the get-go, I knew that Ruben was grappling with alcoholism, depression, and a feeling of paralysis. At first, Andy seemed to have everything money could buy, but he too was trapped by the life he’d built around himself. Both men lived in cages, brimming with barricaded emotion.

For me the key was preconceptions. Two men, two worlds, two vastly different life experiences and two sets of fantasies that the other played right into. Ruben grew up broke and scrappy, fighting and fucking up until he hit bottom…of course luxury and access seem attractive. Andy grew up with the silver spoon and the greased palms that made his life look easy, but he knows the glamor is a lie so naturally gritty, rough machismo becomes his forbidden fruit. The question is, how do you turn fantasy into reality in a romantic context?

For my part, I remember full well what it’s like to be intimate with a guy who’s never been with a guy and terrified about same: trespass and terror, the mounting panic that runs parallel to excitement. All kinds of crazy emotions play out when you get down to the grease. Curiosity and discovery play enormous roles because people have imaginations, and even the straightest arrow has peeked in the showers. Forbidden territory is sexy, pushing limits and breaking rules revs a lot of motors. Even better, with romantic suspense, fear, panic, and curiosity are already baked into the bread.

That translated easily to the intimacy between them. Given the heroes and title, Pent Up had to build intense, mounting sexual tension that didn’t reach critical mass for a good long while. Any bodyguard book plays on voyeurism and rescue fantasies, but with two confident men hiding personal flaws from the world the direction of the voyeurism and the role of rescuer were up for grabs. When your buddy gets hurt, you take care of him. When you live on top of each other under siege, the lines can get blurry fast. With Ruben and Andy, teasing and obsession escalated to insane levels because they were literally in danger and literally trapped together for long stretches of the story.

Does the pressure eventually blow? Uh, yeah. Spoiler alert: there’s sex in this book. LOL And again their fantasies, blind spots, and expectations shape all the things they do together. Because Pent Up is romantic suspense, the literal threat unleashes all that strength and also gives them a chance to defend each other and heal each other. Their anxiety about losing face and seeming strong didn’t vanish when they come together. And their aggression made for a seesaw between gentle silence and startling ferocity in the sack. These dues had issues that played out in 3D: roleplaying and restraint, voyeurism and exhibitionism, foreplay that edges right up into violence.

Pent Up was always gonna be about suppressed/contained/withheld longings and the emotion unleashed thereby. My starting place with these two was ENVY and the inchoate longing for greener grass: Andy and Ruben both spent their live believing that the other side of the tracks had a better deal and have not-so-secret longings to jump the fence to greener grass. From envy, I dug into another easily accessed emotion: ANGER. Not getting what they want out of life makes for plenty angry acting out and posturing AT each other, which in turn churns that envy and fantasy into something pleasurable and seductive. By definition anger creates passionate reactions that aren’t always logical. The more these heroes crash together in charged situations the more expectations go out the window and affection creeps up on them. And so you have alchemical transformation, like lead into gold as envy turns to desire and anger to arousal, bromance to romance.

How do two straight guys get busy? I’m gonna say carefully, instinctively, and at no small cost to their prior assumptions about what intimacy can be. Big mojo there and intensely romantic. Sometimes I think what’s so appealing about the fantasy of out-for-you is exactly that moment of trespass and that stretch of mutual discovery, when two strong men discover a sexual expression they’d never sought and an emotional landscape they’d never imagined: raw, intense, and startling. And in discovering each other, they show how far opening your heart and your arms can open your mind.


Damon Suede grew up out-n-proud deep in the anus of right-wing America, and escaped as soon as it was legal. Though new to romance fiction, Damon has been writing for print, stage, and screen for two decades. He’s won some awards, but counts his blessings more often: his amazing friends, his demented family, his beautiful husband, his loyal fans, and his silly, stern, seductive Muse who keeps whispering in his ear, year after year. Get in touch with him at


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