Friday, March 10, 2017

Book Review ~ Something Real by Nellie Christine (Spotlight)

Something Real
by Nellie Christine

Rules are made to be broken. 

That’s what NYC musician, Elijah Dawson, is told constantly upon informing people of his Rule Book, but he disagrees. Rules help upkeep society, prevent chaos, and they help keep him from getting involved in meaningless relationships. Elijah learned the hard way that he’s terrible at being a boyfriend – people only end up getting hurt. To keep things simple, he lives his life by the Playboy Commandments:

1. No Repeats.
2. No Staying the night.
3. NO Kissing.
4. No Pet Names. Seriously. Don't.
5. The drunker the sex, the better.

Things change when he steps on an iPhone en route to his dead-end job. After connecting with the phone’s owner, he finds that the man is Grayson Paul – the son of one of the most powerful men in all of New York City. Grayson is so much more than the guys Elijah finds himself taking home from bars – he’s gorgeous, passionate, and completely uninterested in a relationship. This must be fate, right? 

Only Grayson isn’t all that interested… 

Being hired at the billion-dollar record label owned by his very own father was supposed to be the highlight of Grayson’s life. Instead, he spends his first couple years out of college as a professional fetcher of chai lattes. Buying beverages and making copies wasn’t exactly what Grayson wanted to do in the family business. His best friends want him to stop obsessing over work and get laid, or in the very least date a couple guys, but love and meaningless sex are nothing but distractions. What Grayson really needs is an artist of his own.

It seems that his prayers are answered when he realizes the stupidly charming guy who found his iPhone is an incredible musician. Talented isn’t powerful enough a word to describe Elijah – he has a voice like no other and looks capable of making girls and boys swoon. 

Elijah doesn’t need to be told that he has potential as a performer – he knows he’s good. But no amount of money is worth having his privacy invaded. Unfortunately for Grayson, Elijah would rather work paycheck-to-paycheck than see his name on a gossip blog.

Maybe agreeing to compromise will help both men realize that what they really needed was right there all along.

“Something Real” is available exclusively through Amazon with Kindle Select.

4.5 Stars!!!

First of all, I'll have to say that I'm impressed that this is Nellie Christine's debut novel. It was really good, not perfect, but what is? Especially when it's her first book. It's well-written and it has a natural, organic flow to it, even if the ending felt a tad rushed. I'm not overly fond of the multiple characters' POVs, though. Frankly, they were confusing at times. Still, I have to give the author props for giving it a try, it's not an easy style to pull off.

I have to admit I wasn't too sure what to expect when I started reading this book. It's long, but really, it's fast-paced, intriguing and enthralling enough that I barely felt the time I spent devouring it.

I loved Elijah, he was definitely my favorite. It was amazing to see his progression and how much meeting Grayson affected him and his rules. He was much sweeter than I imagined at first, for sure, especially with how he helped his sister with his niece and all. I liked Grayson, but there were times when I felt Elijah was too good for him. He definitely made up for it in the end, though. They had great chemistry and I really liked them together.

I loved Oscar and Eleanor! They were amazing characters and very good friends to Grayson and even Elijah. I so didn't like Fallon, so I was really glad about how that played out.

All in all, this was a pretty good read, one that I'll more than likely read again and that I highly recommend. I can't wait to see what Nellie Christine will have in store for us in the future.

*** Copy provided to the reviewer via Bayou Book Junkie for my reading pleasure, a review wasn't a requirement.***

4.5 Stars! Very nearly a 5 Star debut from this author. Decent tale, decent writing, decent guys and the start of their HEA.
This is a sweet tale with just enough angst to provide a not-so-smooth path to the leads getting together, and for a début novel, it's pretty impressive.

It's the tale of 'hardworking/poor-ish-but-does-OK-ish/I've gotta look out for No1/for-one-night-only/'FYI - these are the rules of hooking-up with me' Elijah, and Grayson, a rich boy who works for his dad's record company, where he's a gopher, though he's committed to learning about the job and one day taking over. They come into each other's lives because Grayson drops his phone, Elijah picks it up and responds to a text that Grayson sends to the phone, and arrange to meet at a coffee shop so Elijah can hand it over. I liked that the author came up with a non-corny storyline to get them together and that the tale read very fluidly. I also liked that they didn't just get their skates on and race into a relationship, but that they walked away from each other, thought about each other, thought about reaching out to each other, and I liked how they went about finally doing so.

Grayson ends up being the one guy who Elijah does want more than a one-off with, and Grayson feels the same, but he's been betrayed in the past and tries to stick to the rules so that he doesn't end up hurt, and doesn't let Elijah hurt him. They don't initially keep jumping into bed, which I found refreshing, but they do become friends and slowly, they open up to each other. Grayson's best friend and his girl try to get the guys together, as Grayson has become a loner and has pretty much avoided all attachment, and I liked that they were the best kind of friends, unlike Elijah's so-called bestie whom I knew was not who she made herself out to be. I can't say more, but she got my instincts not liking her from her reaction to Elijah having a good time, and as the tale on, I marvelled that he'd give her another chance.

There was the potential for the author to go with the old trope of one guy being in a position of power, and the other not having an ulterior motive, though possibly being seen as having one; she shyed away from that and made the tale feel real and natural. I liked both guys equally, especially when I saw how Elijah was with his sister and niece, and how he kept trying with his parents whom I don't think really got him. There had been the potential for him to start out as a bit of a git/b'stard who then fell for the nice guy, but again, the author didn't do the too obvious, which was refreshing.

I liked the little bit of drama there was with this, and it segued nicely into both guys' pasts, and I think there needed to be a catalyst that made them stop and think deeply and realise what was important and not. I did like the ending, but it was a little bit rushed for me, taking place only a few days after the drama. In all, the tale took place over a few short weeks, rather than months, and whilst it worked, I'd have loved to see their relationship weathering all the stuff that came, and yes, it sounded as if there would be stuff for them to compromise over.

Having enjoyed the book, I got chatting to the author, and this is definitely the start of the guys' HEA. No Spoilers, but you'll be pleased to know that she hasn't entirely ruled out plans for more!

It is a Keeper, and I'm grateful that I got an ARC to enjoy.

Author Bio:
Nellie Christine is an Indie author living in Brooklyn, NY. After falling in love with writing in her early twenties, Nellie took the jump into the M/M Romance Fiction genre in 2016. Her debut novel, Something Real, represents her writing style to a T - humor, growth, and of course, as much naughty as there is nice.
When Nellie isn't writing, she's either spending time with her family in Philadelphia, PA, screaming at a fictional character, screaming at a sporting event, or enjoying a Broadway show. 

Author Links:

Hi Nellie B and welcome to our friendly little community over here at Bayou Book Junkie. Nellie, who writes as Nellie Christine, came onto my radar when she offered up her Valentine’s tale, Something Real, up as an ARC. Well, I started out reading normally, then suddenly my heart rate picked up, and I practically raced through this tale and then messaged her to say thank you and how much I’d enjoyed it. She’s also just released August Nights as a freebie, and is working on her next novel, Ride. Nellie may have only just taken the plunge into publishing, but she tells me she’s written things for a while. I couldn’t find much other info on her, so I absolutely had to invite her over to tell-all.

BBJ: Hi Nellie and congrats that your debut novel is already doing great. Please tell us all about yourself and why 2017 has inspired you to take the plunge and put your books out there. 
NELLIE: Hello, and thanks so much for having me! And thank you for the congratulations – Something Real is a story I began working on at the end of 2015, and it’s so good to finally be able to share it with you all.
My name is Janelle, but my friends and family call me Nellie. I’m a 26-year-old from New York City where I work as a program assistant at a detention center for teen males. Working with the youth has always been my passion, and one day I hope to be an elementary school teacher.
I’ve always done well with writing in school, but it didn’t occur to me that I’d love writing fiction until I was in my early-20s. I started out writing good ol’ fanfiction, and it was there that I fell in love with the craft. Several of my readers told me I should consider taking the jump to becoming a published author, and years went by before I even considered it to be a possibility. Seriously – my writing was because I wanted to contribute to the fandom! I didn’t think I’d be able to create my own stories, characters, backgrounds, etc. And, of course, there was the fear of what would happen if I created something terrible that everyone hated. Fears of inadequacy and rejection. Scary stuff.
After submitting Something Real to a few MM publishers in 2016 and getting the ‘maybe’ and then ‘no,’ I let it be and went to writing something else. But luckily, I had a few people in my corner that encouraged me to release it. Self-publishing has been quite the experience, but every ounce of hard work has been more than worth it. I’m grateful that people seem to be enjoying it thus far! Maybe I’ll go the traditional route in the future, but for now, I’m enjoying being the boss and learning the business on my own.

BBJ: And what made you decide to write a MM tale? And, could you tell us a little about plans for more of Elijah and Grayson?
NELLIE: I got my start in MM. I love reading MM, especially when the characters have that undeniable attraction. I think as I grow as a writer and become more confident, I’ll branch out and try other genres, but this is the one I love reading and writing.
As for Elijah and Grayson – you get a tease of what’s to come in the epilogue of Something Real. Elijah gets the gig of opening up on tour for Zach Evans, and he would like for Grayson to move in with him before he has to travel for a few months. Grayson doesn’t want to rush into anything, though. It has a lot to do with Elijah’s past, and with him being hurt before, and he of course uses ‘work’ as an excuse, but I believe they’ll power through it.  

BBJ: You’re a New Yorker, Nellie – please tell us about 5 things that make the city great, and why you love living there.
1)    Pizza.
2)  The New York Giants. (Even though they technically play in Jersey, but that’s neither here nor there.) I just really love them.
3)  It’s impossible to be bored in New York. All you have to do is step outside and you’ll find something to get into. There are a billion bars and restaurants. Central Park always has events, even when it’s freezing. There’s always something. It’s one of the easiest places to meet new people!
4)  The skyline. I love a good skyline. Nerdy, but the Chrysler Building is my favorite.
5)  Did I mention pizza? Oh, I did. The food trucks, then.
I will try my best not to sound like a cliché. I love living in New York because New York is the place for dreamers. People relocate here to get a brand-new start and be the best version of themselves. My life isn’t exactly Sex in the City, but New York is my home, and I wouldn’t trade that for the world.

BBJ: How have you found the whole self-publishing thing, and what advice would you give to an aspiring author? Have you found yourself inspired by the number of indie MM authors who’re suddenly putting books out, rather than going down the traditional route?
NELLIE: An aspiring writer asked me for advice recently, and I felt weird answering them. First off, I just published a story. It’s doing well by self-published, debut-author standards, but I didn’t feel right offering advice like a seasoned vet, you know? Anywho, I do have opinions. Lol. Self-publishing has been pretty cool. I don’t have the platform that a lot of the authors I look up to have, and I have to put in a lot more work to get my name out there, but I’ve enjoyed gaining experience from having to start at the bottom. It’s been overwhelming, sure, but having an MM reader who’s read just about everything out there commend me on a job well done is an amazing feeling.
My advice to the young lady who messaged me was to take advantage of Facebook and Goodreads MM groups. I just discovered forums where readers discuss what they look for in a story, and knowing your audience is very helpful starting out.  I also told her to offer ARCs to willing participants in exchange for reviews. People who had no idea who I was were willing to give me a shot and I’m grateful for that. A third piece of advice is quite simple: read as much as you can.
And yes, I’m incredibly inspired by the indie authors doing it big. My hat’s off to all of you! I hope you know how inspirational you are.

BBJ: Tell us a bit about your writing process: Do you plan and create an outline or do you just sit down and type? Which do you find hardest to write, an opening scene, an MM sex scene, or an epilogue? 
NELLIE: Yikes. My writing process is the worst, lol. Usually, I get the idea, and then my eyes go a little wide – sort of like the lightbulb going off, you know? And I sit down with every intention of planning and creating this draft and all these characterization charts, but that goes nowhere. I want so badly to be the person who has a clear and concise idea of where their story is going, but I’m more of the sit down and type until I get lost and have to delete 5,000 words type of gal. But eventually, it all comes together.
Sex scenes are probably the easiest to write. I don’t know what that says about me as a person, but I’ll own it. The epilogue is fairly easy as well. It’s like placing a bow on the present, and I love being finished with a story. The hardest is the opener. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve rewritten the beginning of a story.

BBJ: Can we please have a little scoop about Ride and when we might be able to get our greedy little mitts on it?
NELLIE: Oh! I’m sooooo excited about Ride! Just to give you a little background, it’s a GFY tale about a college student named Bentley Williams who has big dreams of following in his father’s footsteps and becoming a Freestyle BMX rider. He eats, sleeps, dreams, and breathes BMX. The only problem is his mother forbids him from riding because of his father’s near-fatal accident while attempting a trick on the freestyle ramps. But, Bentley wants it so bad that he’s willing to throw away a full scholarship to UCLA just to pursue a professional BMX career in secret. His girlfriend leaves him because she thinks he’s making a big mistake, and Bentley’s stuck pretending to start his sophomore year at UCLA just so his mother doesn’t find out what he’s up to. When he needs to crash in his best friend’s dorm, he finds that also means hanging out with his best friend’s new roommate, Kit Edwards. Kit’s out and proud, despite his rough past in a small, conservative Ohio town, and though he’s quiet at first, Bentley gets addicted to their teasing banter and innocent flirting. Until it’s not all that innocent.
I can’t wait to release this one just because of the sheer amount of fun I’ve had writing it. Bentley has been an entertaining character to work with, though sometimes I need to rein him in. I’m aiming for April 22, 2017! Hooray for deadlines.

BBJ: What are you most passionate about, Nellie? What makes you happy, and what saddens you? And angers you?
NELLIE: I’m most passionate about my family. They make me happy. It’s hard living in another state, so I cherish the weekends I get to go to Philadelphia and spend time with Mom. She spoiled me way too much growing up – I am the only girl – so any day that I get to be in her presence is a favorite day of mine.
I’m saddened by the state of the U.S. right now, honestly. No need to get political, but many people have this lust for division and hatred, and that’s what saddens me. This is 2017. I’m a Woman of Color. I’m tired of it.
I get angered when my boss asks me how to save something to a USB drive. I teach him this once a week. I’m tired of that, too.

BBJ: Who’s your rock? That one person who always has your back, who’s always there for you?
NELLIE: Mommy. Without a doubt. It scares me to think of where I would be without that woman.

BBJ: What’s your Star sign, Nellie, and how typical of it are you?
NELLIE: I’m a Scorpio-Sagittarius cusp. I’m not really into that stuff, but sometimes I’ll read the horoscopes. Every time it says something about being introverted and wanting to be left alone, I can agree. Lol.

BBJ: And now, the quick-fire round:

A typical NY deli, or a high-end restaurant? NY Deli.

Your fave song for a boogie is…? And for a romantic smooch? I’ll do any and everything with a little wine and some Bruno Mars.

What’s the quality that you find most appealing in others? Empathy.

American, Italian or French (can refer to food…or something else!). Italian! <3 Go PASTA!!

Finally, what’s your guilty pleasure, Nellie, and how embarrassed are you at being made to fess up? I’m a 26-year-old woman and my favorite movie is Zootopia. I will never be ashamed.

Thanks for popping in, Nellie and all the best for your writing career. We hope you had fun and that you’ll think of us as your new friends!

NELLIE: Once again, thank you for having me! This was a lot of fun. Hopefully, I didn’t bore anyone to death, and I’d love to do this again soon. XO!

Please would you insert any promo links you’d like to, and please would you supply a few photos (five max) as an attachment. The interview is subject to editing and questions may occasionally be cut out, sorry. Thanks!

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