Blog Tour ~ Open Seating by Mickie B. Ashling ~ (Reviews, Exclusive Excerpt, Guest Post + Giveaway)
ABOUT OPEN SEATING
Author: Mickie B. Ashling
Series: Open Trilogy #1
Release Date: June 10, 2016
Genre: Contemporary Gay Romance
Length: 204 pages
Cover Artist: Catt Ford
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
The two men have nothing in common. Seth is a reclusive romance writer, and Bryce is a hard-core Grindr user with major commitment issues. Out of necessity and despite the seemingly insurmountable differences in personality, they develop a tentative rapport. As they begin their journey through the UK, Bryce helps Seth come to terms with his partner’s sudden death while Seth, in turn, discovers the root cause of Bryce’s phobia.
Shipboard romances rarely work. Sensible men resist, sexual tension notwithstanding. But a full moon and late summer breezes lend itself to the impossible situation, barriers are crossed, and a love affair is kindled.
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“So, what’s the big deal about tonight?” Bryce murmured under his breath. “There’s nothing on this menu remotely interesting.”
Seth, seated to his right, agreed. “I was also expecting more.”
“What did you have in mind?” Steve Granger asked. Bryce took his eyes off the menu and was about to reply when he realized the guy was already wasted. His belligerent tone and casual slouch set Bryce’s teeth on edge. He hated drunks.
“Figures,” Steve replied.
“What does that mean?” Bryce asked coldly.
“It’s obvious you like a good piece of meat.”
Heidi, Steve’s wife, clapped a hand over her husband’s mouth and then apologized to the group.
“Don’t pay any attention to him,” she said. “He’s been drinking since four in the afternoon.”
“Shut up,” Steve said, pushing her away. “I don’t need you to make excuses for me.”
Bryce could feel Seth’s hand applying pressure on his thigh, silently warning him not to lose his shit, which was really too bad. He was dying to get up and wipe the smirk off Steve’s face and even throw him over a railing, but instead he said, “Takes one to know one.”
“Up yours,” he snarled. “I’m no queer.”
“No, you’re just an asshole,” Bryce snarled.
Steve struggled to get out of his chair and probably lunge at Bryce, but he was brought down by a surprising source, Andrew Callahan. “Either shut up or leave,” he said irritably. “You’re ruining everyone’s dinner.”
Steve glared at the older man. “How can you let those queers eat at our table?”
“I’d much rather dine with these fine gentlemen than you,” Andrew said. “You’re a disgrace.”
Just then, the captain came over to the table. Apparently, a personal meet and greet from the man in charge of their voyage was the reason the evening was dubbed Captain’s Night.
He took one look at Steve Granger and frowned. “Is there a problem here?”
“Nothing we can’t handle,” Bryce said amiably.
“Let me know if that changes,” the captain said, never taking his eyes off Steve. “This is a hate-free zone, and troublemakers are escorted off the ship and sent home at their own expense.”
“We’ll keep that in mind,” Seth said, finally speaking up. “Thank you.”
“How are you enjoying the trip so far?”
“We had a lovely tour today,” Jeannie chimed in. “Your crew was particularly helpful with the tendering process.”
“Good to know, ma’am. Please inform us if there’s anything else we can do to make this a pleasant and memorable experience.”
“Will do,” Andrew said. “Appreciate your concern, Captain.”
As soon as the captain walked off, Steve stood to go. “Get up,” he addressed his wife rudely. “I’m not going to sit here and stare at those homos for another second.”
“You go,” Heidi said. “I’m hungry.”
“We’ll go upstairs and grab a pizza or something.”
“I’d rather not,” she insisted.
“Heidi,” Steve growled. “Get your ass up, or you’ll regret it.”
Bryce wanted to intervene, but he knew this was a private matter between husband and wife, so he watched helplessly as the beleaguered woman stood and gathered her purse and the pink shawl she’d draped on the back of her chair.
“I’m sorry,” she said in a voice choked with tears. “Have a good evening, everyone.”
“My God,” Jeannie said when they were out of earshot. “That poor woman.”
“It’s people like that who give marriage a bad rap,” Bryce remarked.
“Don’t condemn the institution because of one rotten apple,” Jeannie said. “That guy is an abusive alcoholic. Marriage isn’t the problem, Bryce. He is.”
Bryce shrugged. “I guess.”
*** Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie in exchange for a fair and honest review.***
Seth Wilder is a reclusive romance author, who lost his husband Mark just two weeks before going away on a cruise to celebrate their twenty years together. Since he's unable to get a refund, he decides to go on the trip anyway, and his husband's gym partner offers to go with him.
Bryce is a commitment-phobic, addicted to Grindr and meaningless flings, the complete opposite to Seth in almost every way, so of course, sparks fly, and not the good kind, at least at first. As they start knowing each other better, they grow closer, but will their shipboard romance float or sink at the end of the trip?
I have to admit that while I liked Seth from the start, I wasn't too sure about Bryce. He was too brash, too much of a manwhore and very unapologetic about it all. However, it was very nice that he had another side of himself that he finally showed as he and Seth started to grow closer. And Seth, well, he was flawed as well, just in a different way, he was so focused on his work, almost to the detriment of everything else, and it was nice to see him realize there was more to life than just writing. I really liked how much growth their characters showed throughout the book, too. Their chemistry was unbelievable and the banter was very fun to read!
The one thing that I found difficult to overlook was the fact that it'd been such a short time between Mark's death and the cruise. That bugged me from the start and while I still liked the book, it put a damper to my overall enjoyment.
Aside from that, this is a very well-written book, a different kind of romance, realistic, raw, angsty, humorous and witty, and I can't wait to read the next two books in the trilogy and see where the author might take us next with Seth and Bryce!
Rating: 4 Stars!!!
Seth has just lost his husband, a man he'd been with for twenty years, to suicide. Two weeks after his death, Seth is going on the cruise he and Mark had saved up for five years. Unable to get back the money for the cost of the trip, he reluctantly asks Mark's long time gym buddy Bryce to go with him.
Bryce agreed to accompany Seth on a three week European cruise as a pseudo-favor to his late friend Mark. He knows that Mark wouldn't want Seth to lose himself to grief and he worries that being alone will amount to nothing more than a depressing cry fest. Bryce knows it's not going to be easy, he and Seth don't exactly get along. They are way too different.
Bryce is basically a man-whore. 47 years old and he still picks up one night stands in clubs and on Grindr. He doesn't want to think about his age and the fact that he's approaching 50. He still has a well honed body that he uses to his advantage whenever he can.
Seth Wilder is a writer of historical romances. At 47 he had spent the last 20 years with a man he'd planned forever with. Now he is alone trying to figure out how to navigate the world without Mark. Bryce seemed to believe he needed to meet someone for a little fun and to help him begin to move forward. However Seth doesn't think that is even an option.
Now these two unlikely companions find themselves growing closer and the attraction they both feel for one another is getting harder to deny. Soon they find themselves starting what is supposed be just a vacation fling. What happens when both men discover that there might just be more between them than they ever imagined?
Honestly, as excited as I was to read this book since I found the blurb appealing, I had a very hard time with the timetable. I'm not sure how I feel about someone who has just lost the love of their life two or three weeks before falling for another man. Especially since he and his husband had been together for 20 years (not to mention Bryce is a manwhore, who has already slept with several people before they even left the dock). I would rather have seen Seth going on this cruise 6 months later or better yet a year. Three weeks was just too soon.
That issue aside, I enjoyed Seth and Bryce's story. Seth was sweet but slightly innocent for a man of his age. My heart hurt a little for him having his husband commit suicide and the timing. While he had a habit of being a tad judgmental when it came to the way Bryce lived his life he seemed to be a very caring even towards a man who was practically a stranger.
Bryce was one of those characters I had a problem with at first. I have a hard time connecting to characters that are led by their "little heads". I also am growing very tired of the whole "I don't do relationships...I don't believe in love" theme that seems to be the trend of so many books. Nevertheless I found myself liking Bryce as the story went on.
I liked Seth and Bryce together. From what I took from their talk of Mark, I felt that Bryce was a good change for him. Bryce was a lot more laid back and adventurous and with Seth's uptight personality it was a nice combination. They had great chemistry and I think complimented each other well.
Would I recommend Open Seating? Yes! 4 Stars!
***A copy of this book was provided to Bayou Book Junkie in exchange for a fair and honest review***
We are excited to welcome Mickie B. Ashling author of Open Seating to Bayou Book Junkie today.
As the blurb mentions, my main characters are nothing alike and have been thrown together on this voyage under the worst of circumstances. Fate has presented their itinerary, and now it’s up to them to make it work. Or not.
I bring some fun giveaways and several opportunities to win a freebie by following along on the tour. Before I close, I’d like to mention and thank my publicist J for her excellent work in organizing all my blog tours and anything else I might need in terms of promotion.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
By the time Mickie discovered her talent for writing, real life got in the way, and the business of raising four sons took priority. With the advent of e-publishing—and the inevitable emptying nest—dreams of becoming a published writer were resurrected and she’s never looked back.
She stumbled into the world of men who love men in 2002 and continues to draw inspiration from their ongoing struggle to find equality and happiness in this oftentimes skewed and intolerant world. Her award-winning novels have been called "gut wrenching, daring, and thought provoking." She admits to being an angst queen and making her men work damn hard for their happy endings.
Mickie currently resides in a suburb outside Chicago.
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RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAYWin a $10 Dreamspinner Press gift certificate, an audio code for a Mickie Ashling audiobook, or an ecopy of one of Mickie’s backlist titles. Three winners! Contest open internationally. Must be 18 or older to enter.
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