Thursday, June 15, 2017

Review Tour ~ Conning Colin by Brad Vance and Elsa Winters ~ (Guest post + Giveaway)

Title:  Conning Colin
Author: Brad Vance, Elsa Winters
Publisher:  Zirconia Publishing, Inc.
Release Date: 6/2/17
Heat Level: 4 - Lots of Sex
Pairing: Male/Male
Length: 60,000 words
Genre: Romance, LGBT

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Hamilton Dillon is a high class Manhattan escort, polished, well dressed, and cultured. Colin O’Neill is recently divorced, questioning his sexuality, and disappointed by his first fumbling gay hookups. So he figures, why not hire the best of the best to show him the ropes?

What he doesn’t know is that Hamilton Dillon is really Henry Davis, yet another New Yorker living on the financial edge, cobbling together several jobs to make a living. “Hamilton” has one great suit he can wear on an overnight date, but Henry’s got a good friend at GQ who makes a nice side income renting designer men’s wear for weddings, job interviews, and oh yeah, high end escorts on long weekend assignments. The “top agency” that represents “Hamilton” is really just a smartass lady in India with a Skype account, whose face Henry’s never seen. Oh, and Henry’s also the gruff and very unpolished New York Straight Man “Dillinger,” a solo porn star.

In other words, he’s not at all who Colin thinks he is. Which is just fine, until their relationship gets… complicated.


Colin O’Neill hung up the phone, dizzy with excitement and fear. He’d done it. He’d called the number, talked to the agency, and booked a “date” with Hamilton Dillon.
He’d looked at Hamilton’s ad a hundred times, at least, over the last three months. He’d looked forward to new profile photos the way a kid keeps an ear cocked for the ice cream truck. Even though all the profile pictures had been beheaded for discretion, it didn’t matter. Hamilton Dillon had a way of posing that expressed more personality with his body than most other guys ever did with their faces.
The way he sat on a park bench in nothing but a pair of running shorts and Nikes, shirtless, manspread, his arms thrown over the back of the bench, his strong graceful neck taut, telling you that the face just out of frame was tilted up towards the Central Park sunshine, that the man was reveling in his easy beauty, the unique joy that comes from being young and hot and free in New York City…
Then the way he floated in the air in those same shorts and Nikes, leaping for a football, the camera capturing him from behind in the moment the ball touched his fingers, the imminence of his success apparent, ordained, the muscles in his back bunched, the mass of his shoulders gathered together, sweat flying off his brown hair, in the seconds before you knew he landed on the lawn, arms curled around the ball, surely to rise in triumph and be slapped on the back by all his equally hot and shirtless buddies…
The way he sat at a café table, in a slim fit navy blue polo shirt, one of his sculpted vascular arms holding open a well-worn copy of The Fortress of Solitude and the other just toying with a cup of espresso as if it was the back of another man’s hand…
Colin often did something that very few men did anymore, which was to masturbate furiously and successfully to a series of still photos. And with no penises in sight, to boot. He’d done it so often over the last three months that he’d stopped donating his old t-shirts, because he needed them for cleanup duty, at least until they became hopelessly stained.
He had been divorced for six months now, amicably, from a wife who’d pretty much always known he was gay but had decided to let him figure it out for himself. Elspeth was a career woman whose need for a husband was seasonal, from the company picnic in July to the company Christmas party in December, with various client dinners in between.
He was twenty seven years old, and had engaged in sexual intercourse with one woman and two men. Intercourse was pretty much the word for it, he thought. It sounded less like passion and more like, well, cars merging on the freeway, and all three partners had been just about that exciting. (Actually less so, since on the freeway there was always the thrilling risk of death at the hands of someone who’d rather kill you than let you merge.)

Then one night, half drunk and inhibitions lowered, he’d thought, Fuck it, let’s hire a professional and see how it feels when it’s done right.
He’d paged through the escort ads on Rentmen, hundreds of them in Manhattan alone. It was mind numbing, the diversity, and it was overwhelming, the number of choices. He knew he didn’t want to visit Master Bob in his safe and private play space, and he knew he didn’t want to party with Anaconda Joe. The ones who caught his eye were, well yeah, the ones who looked… classy. The one thing he knew he didn’t want was to get ripped off.
And he didn’t want it to feel... He didn’t want to feel like he’d got a burger in a fast food drive through. He wanted it to be special, if that was really possible with a paid companion and not just something that happened to teenage boys in Hollywood movies.
But even the upscale-looking ones, well, there was something about them that… He knew it was good business, to offer yourself up as “versatile,” and available for “mild to wild,” but… Well, the more he saw what he didn’t want, the more a picture began to form in his mind of what he did want. He didn’t want someone who looked like an investment banker but whose profile also said, “Hey I look classy but I can drop it if you just want a dirty pig fest and you’ve got the money for it.”
No. He wanted someone who was one thing. Who wasn’t whoever you wanted him to be. But who was what he said he was. Classy, for real. Not “up for anything.”
And then he found Harrison Dillon.

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Give us five tips for becoming a better writer.

  1. Master grammar, spelling, punctuation, syntax. I can’t tell you how many people, even professionals, don’t have a basic grasp of lose vs. loose, or how to use a semicolon (and how not to overuse them), or avoid run on sentences. Never mind how many of them are not being for the constructing of the sentence :) or who use “he said,” after every piece of dialogue… If you submit something to a publisher that’s messy, they’re going to abandon ship on the (at the latest) second page. It’s too much crushingly tedious work to fix all that, even if the story is great – and to be honest, if a writer hasn’t mastered those fundamentals, creating a powerful story without them is like trying to master particle physics without knowing basic math. You probably haven’t put in the thousands of hours needed to learn how to tell a great story, if you haven’t in the mean time figured out how to use correct English.

  2. Don’t make excuses about why your busy schedule prevents you from writing. Elmore Leonard had a day job for years, and he got up at 4 am to write every morning, because it was the only way he could get it in before the day got away from him. I did the same for years myself. Yeah, you have to sacrifice staying up till 11, maybe even going out and having a social life on weeknights, but it’s not going to happen without some kind of sacrifice. If you’re not prepared to go to bed at 9 so you can get up at 4, I don’t want to hear about how you “can’t find the time.”

  3. We’ve all got to balance writing for money with writing what we love. I’ll tell you right now, the surest way to fail is to write what you think “they” want, if it’s not of any interest to you. Michael Korda, a famous book editor in the 70s, once said that trashmeisters like Harold Robbins, Jacqueline Susann, Judith Krantz, never sat down and said, I’m going to write a trashy bestseller. They all thought they were writing Tolstoy! That’s why their trash was so fun to read. Yeah, if you look at the gayrom bestseller list and say, oh the Disease of the Week is hot right now, or Love in a Small Town, you can crank that out and, with the right marketing campaign, you can pull in some bucks before people get on to your pen name and stop buying those books, and you have to abandon it for a new one. But if you don’t love what you’re writing, nobody else is going to either. They may consume it, but they’ll forget it… and they’ll forget you.

  4. Unfortunately, you don’t succeed in this business on talent alone. Sales and marketing is huge in getting eyeballs on even the best books. I hate, hate, hate it, and I’ve paid the price in sales and royalties. I’ve finally signed up with a publisher who’s honest, trusts me to write what I want (without going off the rails into unsaleable territory like the Middle Ages or something), and he can sell the shit out of anything. As a self publisher, you can’t write a book and then come down from that process and take a break before your next creative endeavor. Instead you have to turn right around and start to bang bang bang the drum to sell it… If you can’t do that, or hate doing it, you may want to rethink self publishing if you want to make money on your work.

  5. Listen to constructive advice, and don’t be defensive. If you’re talented, and you work hard on your project, your first novel could be wonderful, your first draft sparkling. Could be. It always feels like it is when you type The End. But chances are, it’ll need more work. You’ll need sharp readers to give you honest feedback. And you’re better off with a stranger with a friend. First off, a friend will be afraid to be honest. I’ve made the mistake of giving honest feedback to people who hated me for it, never forgave me. They’ll never be serious writers, because they can’t live without perpetual praise and back-patting. Secondly, a stranger has nothing to lose by being honest. If they’re cruel, if you find yourself with the sort of person who just enjoys an opportunity to be an asshole, ignore that person and move on. Find the people who’ll be honest, and constructive, and who truly enjoy what you write.

3.5 Stars

I was really looking forward to reading this story. The blurb sounded intriguing, but once I picked up the book and started reading, well, the story didn't quite work for me. Henry, one of the main characters, has three different personas, his true self Henry, a high-class escort Harrison and later in the story we are introduced to Dillinger, a STR8 Dudes Porn Star. That's just Henry's personas, then we meet Colin, a shy and awkward recently divorced (from a woman) man who has just recently come to the realization that he's gay. We meet Colin when he hires Harrison, the escort, to take his virginity and help give his self-confidence a much needed boost and prepare him to go out into the world and maybe find a real boyfriend. Later in the story when Colin, a voice over actor who suffers from severe stage fright, gets an acting audition, he steps into the persona of Neil Callum. Neil is confident and an alpha male who is in charge. He gets Colin past his stage fright. Confused yet? I was.

I think if the personas of these two men had been treated as just that, a persona, rather than a main character in the story, it would have been less confusing and worked better. What I saw of Henry and Colin I really loved and they seemed to click when they were just themselves, unfortunately, I felt I wasn't given enough page time with Henry and Colin to really get to know them as a couple. Even once the jig is up and we know the true characters, the other personas make appearances.

Okay, so here is what I liked. I actually loved the true Henry and Colin. While, Henry started escorting by accident, sort of, his subsequent reasons for later deciding to continue to portray himself in that light came from a good place. His reason for needing the money is a noble one, that I admired. I liked Colin's awkwardness, it made him endearing. Without the masks in place, these men had chemistry. Even when Harrison was present, he sometimes let Henry slip in and I loved those moments between them.

While this story wasn't for me that isn't to say others won't enjoy it.

*copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie by the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review*

Meet the Author

Brad Vance writes romance stories and novels, including the breakout hits "A Little Too Broken" and "Given the Circumstances." Keep up with Brad at, email him at, and friend him on Facebook at

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Tour Schedule

6/7 - Love Bytes
6/14 - V's Reads


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