Sunday, May 27, 2018

Blog Tour: Midnight Musicals and Coffee Ice Cream by Layla Dorine (Review, Excerpt + Guest Post)


Blurb:
Midnight Musicals and Coffee Ice Cream by Layla Dorine
An escort and his client…could it ever be more than a business transaction.
Midnight Musicals and Coffee Ice Cream Blurb
Takashi never imagined that a simple call to an escort service would result in meeting Zander. What started out as a date to the winter gala at his office, morphed into a series of paid dates that offer him several unique opportunities to get to know the handsome, enigmatic escort.
Zander hates feeling like an ornament. After four years he’s ready for a new occupation. Unfortunately, he isn’t skilled enough for any job that would pay him the money he needs to make to support himself and his family. So, he stays with Mateo’s agency and keeps on taking clients, refusing to call them dates because that’s too personal.
Until Takashi.
Now their both trying to make the best of the brief moments they have together, blurring the lines more and more with every passing night. Takashi wants more, Zander wants to give it to him, but only after he gets the rest of his life worked out. Only problem is, he has no idea how.


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Excerpt
The harsh crackle of rattling papers drew Takashi’s gaze away from the cloudy blue-gray sky stretching beyond the high-rise window. In the distance, waves rolled in an endless pattern. Yearning to feel the ocean spray against his face, Takashi regretted not taking the day off. It was too cold to swim, but a walk in the sand, feeling it squishing between his toes, was exactly what he needed after the week he’d had.
“Takashi, Earth to Takashi! Have you heard anything I’ve been saying to you?”
Fighting the urge to roll his eyes, Takashi Himura sighed and stared across the desk at one of his oldest friends, who just happened to be his boss. Thomas Drechsler had his chair kicked back and his hands folded in his lap, a mischievous look on his lightly freckled face. His wavy brown hair was slicked back, save for one piece that fell across his forehead. He looked entirely too pleased with himself for Takashi’s tastes. Usually, when his friend got that look, he was about to suggest something Takashi wasn’t going to like at all.
Tapping his fingers on the edge of Thomas’ desk, Takashi fixed him with a look that he hoped spelled out exactly what he’d heard and how much he didn’t care to acknowledge it. “Yes Thomas, I heard you, quite clearly in fact. You interrupted my attempt to tell you why we need to adjust the dates on the Violet Vision project, to remind me, once again might I add, about the gala Saturday evening, thus why I tuned you out. The view of the storm rolling in holds far more appeal than subjecting myself to a crowded room full of over adorned idiots. In fact, I’m almost positive dancing naked in a sand storm would be more fun than the evening you’ve planned. You know my position on attending these kinds of affairs, Thomas, so why must we go through this each and every year?”
“Yes, I know your position, all too well, but in this instance, you’ll be making an exception.”
Takashi bristled, half coming up out of his seat. “Thomas…”
The mischievous look was suddenly replaced with the stern, serious visage of a man used to issuing commands and having them obeyed. Thomas held up a single finger and glowered. It was enough to silence Takashi as he dropped back into the chair with a groan.
“No,” Thomas ordered firmly. “You do not get to skip this, and you do not get to skip out twenty minutes after you walk through the door. Not this time. This is your boss speaking, not your friend. I expect everyone in this office to attend the event. We’re not only celebrating the successes of the year and honoring those who’ve retired and those who’ve passed away, but we have some potential clients who’ll be attending as well. I’d like them to meet the team leader they will be entrusting their projects to.”
Pinching the bridge of his nose, Takashi bit back a curse, but only just. His jaw was beginning to ache from grinding his teeth together, and he knew if he opened his mouth, he’d say something he’d regret uttering to both his boss and his friend. Swallowing down the fury that threatened to consume him, Takashi made one last ditch effort at shifting the subject away from the accursed gala.
“Yes, and speaking of projects, the issue with Violet Vision is actually a good one. In delaying by three days, we’ve been afforded the opportunity to debut the new line at the Stella and Dot event. I’ve already spoken to Tara and she…”
“Loves the idea, yes, I know,” Thomas interrupted.
Takashi longed to wipe the smug, self-satisfied look off his face. For fucks sake what was the point of even reporting in if his clients were going to call Thomas anyway. He could have been back in his office, working on next week’s assignments, but no. It was obvious Thomas hadn’t called him in for updates on anything; only wanting him there to make his little proclamation about the event.
“She called gushing over how amazing you were to get them a slot. She also said she’d be at the Gala with a potential client for us to meet, which is even more reason for you to be there.”
Takashi groaned, then groaned again when Thomas smirked just a little bit. Bastard. The fountain in the corner bubbled, the only noise in the room as Thomas seemed content to wait for Takashi to agree to attend the damned thing.
Narrowing his gaze, Takashi studied the serene look on his friend’s face and rolled his eyes. “You’re not going to focus on business today, are you?”
“Why do I need to when you’ve handled everything in an exemplary manner, as always? Now if there’s nothing else, I’ve got a conference call to prepare for.”
“How formal is this event going to be?”
“Anything you wear from Kumiko’s collection will be fine. Don’t stress it too much and bring a date.”
Takashi snorted and shook his head. “Like that’s going to happen.”
“It just might if you’ll be willing to take my advice for once in your life,” Thomas replied, flipping open a rolodex and pulling out a card. “Call this number. It’s a ‘dating’ service, but it’s pretty high end and very discreet.”
Blinking, Takashi stared at the card Thomas held out, trying to piece together why he’d have a damned dating service mixed in with their clientele. “You’ve got to be kidding me! Dating service my ass, you mean escorts, don’t you? Does Cynthia know you have this?”
“Nope and she doesn’t need to. It’s not like I’ve ever used it. I’ve never even considered it, at least, not for me. Hell, Cynthia would cut my shit off and toss it in a blender if she ever thought I was stepping out on her. You know that, and you know me. You know I’d never cheat on her, not for anything in the world. What I have done is hand the number out around the firm though, and no one’s had any complaints about their dates, so give them a call, or don’t, but I think you’d have more fun with a date. And in case you do use it, it might be helpful to know that they prefer being called Providers, not Escorts. Wouldn’t want to offend anyone right off the bat.”
“Oh yeah, we wouldn’t want that,” Takashi grumbled sarcastically, but he took the card, stared at it for a moment, slowly shaking his head before holding the card out for Thomas to put back, but his best friend just waved him off.
“At the very least, think about it over the weekend and give it back to me on Monday if you decide not to use it,” Thomas offered.
While it all sounded perfectly reasonable, it just felt odd and even vaguely uncomfortable to even be considering making that call, and yet, now that the seed of the idea had been planted in his mind he couldn’t help but be just a little bit curious.
“What would I do with an escort…err provider?” Takashi asked reluctantly.
“I don’t know, maybe talk, dance, enjoy the night, instead of slinking up to your office to try and work in the middle of the party.”
“I had an idea, one you approved of, if I remember correctly. As I recall, it also left our clients ecstatic and made this firm a ton of money too when they renewed their contract and upped their advertising budget by twenty-five percent.”
“It was also one you could have scribbled on a cocktail napkin at the bar and you know it.”


HI and thank you so much for hosting me on your blog today. I’m excited for my first full length release of the year, Midnight Musicals and Coffee Ice Cream. It was so much fun getting to combine two thing I very much love, musicals and coffee ice cream, into a title that spoke volumes about the loves of the characters involved in this story. It was also amazing to be able to work in a setting, namely the Seattle and Everett, Washington areas, because I have come to cherish my visits out there each year and the amazing people I have met along the way. Two of the things that I enjoy soaking up during my trips are the coffee and the culture, so it was no surprise to me that these aspects came through in the characters when they began speaking to me on a bus ride back from Everett after my very first trip to the city.
At that point the scenes were limited, but Takashi and Zander were adamant about having their story told, so I started ‘collecting underpants’ in the form of images of Seattle/Everett. Some came off my camera, while others I cut from magazines or printed from offline, trying to decide where their dates would take place and the sites they’d see. I wanted to so much to be able to blend some of my own experience into their story, and thus, the scene in the Organic Vodka Distillery, and in the bookstores surrounding Pikes Place Market came into being, along with Zander’s beach scene which was written on the very beach described in the story.
Of course, nothing could have been accomplished without the wonderful friends I have met along the way, who have showed me their Seattle/Everett and engaged with me in some awesome conversations in coffee shops, restaurants and bars. In March I returned from my third trip out there, which allowed me to put the finishing touches on Takashi and Zander’s story, as well as begin weaving a new tail that will continue to grow from trips in upcoming years.
I hope the city comes as alive for my readers as it has for me, and that in reading Zander and Takashi’s story, they can see how sometimes, the biggest challenges in ones lives are the ones that individuals make for themselves or allow others to make for them.



4 Stars

Takashi is happy to spend his days, and the majority of his nights, as well, sitting behind his desk working, but when his boss decides he needs to attend a gala, preferably with a date, he turns to an escort agency for help. His provider, Zander/Corban is a younger, but charming man and the two hit it off.

Corban may be an escort, but he has a no sex or kissing rule when it comes to his clients, because of this, his morals are mostly intact, but he still hates what he does for a living. Unfortunately, he can’t quit and continue to help support his parents, as well as pay his own bills, too.

Takashi and Corban attend a few more events together, and begin to develop feelings for one another, but unless they can each make changes in certain aspects of their lives, their budding relationship will never work.

I really liked both of these guys and my heart broke watching Corban, who just wanted to live his life, but still felt obligated to help take care of his parents, be forced to continue working for the agency.

Takashi and Corban had a good chemistry and were both likable, although I felt Corban was a bit of a jerk to Takashi a couple of times. Still, they worked well together and I enjoyed their conversations and the back and forth banter. I thought the progression of their relationship from client-provider to boyfriends felt natural and smooth.

This was a well-written story, that was enjoyable and filled with sweetness, friendship, laughter, love and a bit of angst. Definitely recommendable!

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


About the Author
LAYLA DORINE lives among the sprawling prairies of Midwestern America, in a house with more cats than people. She loves hiking, fishing, swimming, martial arts, camping out, photography, cooking, and dabbling with several artistic mediums. In addition, she loves to travel and visit museums, historic, and haunted places.
Layla got hooked on writing as a child, starting with poetry and then branching out, and she hasn’t stopped writing since. Hard times, troubled times, the lives of her characters are never easy, but then what life is? The story is in the struggle, the journey, the triumphs and the falls. She writes about artists, musicians, loners, drifters, dreamers, hippies, bikers, truckers, hunters and all the other folks that she’s met and fallen in love with over the years. Sometimes she writes urban romance and sometimes its aliens crash landing near a roadside bar. When she isn’t writing, or wandering somewhere outdoors, she can often be found curled up with a good book and a kitty on her lap.

Layla Dorine can be found at:

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