Thursday, August 11, 2016

Audiobook Blog Tour ~ Given the Circumstances by Brad Vance ~ (Review, Interview + Excerpt)

Audiobook Blog Tour ~ Given the Circumstances by Brad Vance ~ (Review, Interview + Excerpt)

Title:  Given the Circumstances
Author: Brad Vance
Publisher:  AuthorsRepublic
Release Date: July 13, 2016
Heat Level: 3 - Some Sex
Pairing: Male/Male
Length: 03 Hours 30 Minutes
Genre: Romance
Sub-Genre: Sports Romance, New Adult

Two promising college athletes meet, each needing something only the other can give him…
When Roger and Brian lock eyes on the first day of school, a friendship is born. Both men are hungry for connection – Brian needs the acceptance, encouragement and support he never had growing up, and when he finds out his new best friend is gay, it brings his own sexual identity into question. Roger needs a big brother, a best friend, but that will never be enough, especially not when he’s this close to big, strong, handsome Brian.
And both men want something more – careers as professional athletes. For Roger, the demands of the closet, the need to reject the love of a man to fulfill his love of the game, will be a crushing burden. For Brian, his downfall will be the substances he uses to get an edge over the competition, and to suppress his gnawing self-doubt and guilt.
One set of desires will bring them together, the other will force them apart…

Just give me another minute, Brian appealed. But his feet didn’t listen, they kept propelling him forward, and his hand went to the door handle. I’m not ready.
It didn’t matter, he knew. He was here, the die was cast, as Caesar had said. He opened the door and walked in.
Look at them, he told himself. Brainiacs. What are you doing here? It was Cal State Berkeley, man. Not Party Hearty State College, where he maybe, probably, should have gone. It wasn’t Lessing College, where he’d at least been able to keep his scholastic head above water.
He had a year of sitting out ahead of him, a year in academia alone for the first time in his life. Fucking insane stupid NCAA transfer rules that deny an athlete a whole year in his prime, for what? To keep you chained to the wheel, for the benefit of the schools and the coaches and the boosters, never the student, no matter what claptrap they spouted about academic excellence, stay the course, blah blah blah.
There was nobody with a hand on his shoulder, nobody to whisper, “You belong here.” He was on a baseball scholarship, or would be next year. This year he was here on a boatload of student loans. And like anyone else in his situation, who’d made a huge change and realized it couldn’t be unchanged, his blood had gone ice cold and he’d thought, What have I done?
Everyone in the classroom was in their own little world, not even looking up at the new guy. Nobody looks at anybody, he thought, anywhere ever. Trying to make eye contact with people on campus was like a contact sport where the goal was to avoid contact. Some people were oblivious, in their own world. Some people were shy, some people were assholes. But almost nobody wanted to look at you, just nod, and smile, and say “Hey.” To just be…civilized. They acted like you were going to ask them for spare change, or beg them to join your cult. It was the first time in his life he’d been somewhere he didn’t know anyone. And it sucked.
But one guy in the classroom looked at him right away. A fellow jock, no doubt – another guy always watching patterns, movements, making sure no detail of the action escaped his attention.
The guy nodded, Brian nodded back. The desk on his left was empty, and Brian took it. Something tense unknotted inside him, now that he’d finally had his first friendly moment of the day, of his new life. It was something he’d needed like a glass of water.
“Hey, I’m Roger,” the dude said, offering his hand. He looked familiar to Brian, with his dark hair and big blue eyes, the ultra-white sclera of a clean-living man, and the pale skin of someone who either spent this last summer indoors or had sensitive skin. He looked to be just short of Brian’s own height of six foot four, but not as beefy as Brian. He had a firm grip, and a big hand. A really big hand. Meaty and work-toughened, like his own. Football, Brian thought. Was he a wide receiver? I feel like I should know who he is…
“I’m Brian.” Roger looked at Brian, at his serious handsome face, tanned from the summer he’d spent outdoors without any of the sunscreen Roger applied rigorously. He took in Brian’s dark hair and dark eyes, and felt his grip match Roger’s own.
Put it back, Roger told himself. But “it” was out – he was young and horny and this guy was…hot. He’s a big bastard, he’s got to be 240 at least. All muscle, heroic shoulders and chest. Rolling on top of you, wrestling with you, pinning you down, one of the one tenth of one percent of guys in the world who are bigger than you, who can do that, who can win that fight, the fight you’d put up to make him prove his worth, all the while wanting to lose, refusing to lose, thrilled to lose…
And then what? he said, discipline kicking in like it did every time now, every time he met a hot guy. Walk it forward. Let’s say he’s gay, and you fall in love, and then you’re a couple, and then everyone knows you’re gay, and that’s it for your NFL dreams, buddy.
No. He’d put too much into it for too long, to lose it in exchange for a couple quick spurts. Nobody knows who you’re thinking about when you jerk off, he thought. That’s all you get for the next ten years. Just…remember him. And use this tonight.
Dude is intense, Brian thought, feeling the force of Roger’s gaze.
Then there was no more time for conversation, as the professor dashed in the door, hair and papers flying behind him. “Good morning. As they say on the plane, our destination today is the Italian Renaissance. If that is not your destination, you’re on the wrong flight.”
That broke the first class tension, the tension when you didn’t know if the professor was going to be a flake, or an asshole, or an idiot, or a bore.

Today we are happy to welcome Brad Vance author and narrator of Given Circumstances to Bayou Book Junkie. 

Brad thanks so much for agreeing to this interview.

Thank you

  1. What inspired this story? 

It started as an idle thought one day. Pro baseball player Ryan Braun was caught using performance enhancing drugs, and there was a story about his friendship with quarterback Aaron Rodgers, and how it must be straining if not dissolving that friendship, since Rodgers is such a straight arrow, and of course Braun kept it secret from him. So this little voice in my mind said, “Heh heh what if they were secret gay lovers?” At the time I was mostly writing erotica, and I thought I’d just knock out a dirty story about their hot sexin’ – and then I started writing it, and suddenly Brian had these daddy issues and Roger had this awesome dad and there was this big supporting cast and it just mushroomed into a real novel, that dealt with serious stuff, homophobia in sports, what it takes to be pro athlete, how important family support is to succeed on the straight and narrow…

  1. What were some of the challenges you faced while narrating this story?  

It’s always hard to find and keep the same voice for a character. The trick with audiobooks is that you want the characters to be different without being Mel Blanc-level caricatures. So I try and cast an actor for the role in my head, as if I’d be making a movie of the book. Bradley Cooper was someone I kept in mind when I did Brian, though I was lucky with Roger – I just imitated Aaron Rodgers himself.

  1. What are your favorite qualities about each of these main characters?

When I was growing up, there was (and still is) a magazine called Highlights for Children. And every issue had this cartoon called Goofus and Gallant. And Gallant was the model of good citizenship and politeness, helping old ladies across the street, etc., whereas Goofus was like his evil twin, throwing shit and kicking rocks and generally being a bad boy. Of course as a young gay kid, I thought Goofus was hot – even the artist seemed to acknowledge, intentionally or not, that this was a troubled kid with a lot of emotional issues. We all love the bad boy, right?

So when I wrote Given the Circumstances, I had those two poles in mind, though putting it that simply doesn’t make for a very good story. Roger is Gallant, but he’s attracted to the bad boy in Roger, the idea of someone who can make so many wrong decisions and still succeed on natural talent, whereas Roger’s had to work so hard for what he has, it’s all practice and no inborn gift. Brian is Goofus, he’s a wrecking machine, but he’s also got that “thundering desire for love,” his father was a nogoodnik, and half his problem is that he’s never had a real guiding hand. So much of the book is about his quest for a father figure, for someone to guide him and school him but also love him, not just boss him around.

  1. Do you pay attention to literary criticism?

Yes and no. There are people who’ll give a book one star because “there’s cheating in it.” Well, that’s life! If you want paper dollies who kiss and live happily ever after with no tumult and crisis, what’s the point of reading a novel? Some people knock my books down a couple stars because there’s “too much backstory.” I give my characters a lot of time on the page without the other MC, delving in to their pasts and childhoods to see why they are who they are. Which is a violation of the romance novel law that the MCs are either always on the page together, or only on the page with other characters to talk about the other MC.

On the other hand, I’ve gotten really perceptive feedback from readers, and they let me know when I’ve really touched a chord or even a nerve. Writing about PTSD for A Little Too Broken, I did a lot of research, but you know, from the outside of that, you can really fuck it up. When a nurse who worked with soldiers with PTSD reviewed the book and said I got it right, man, I cried tears of relief, for real, because I was so relieved that the risk I’d taken had paid off.

  1. Besides writing what else do you enjoy doing?

Reading, of course, working out and taking long walks to get out of the house and out of my head, playing with the cats, travel – I just got back from Berlin, which was amazing. I’ve finally got over my nerves about narrating audiobooks and now I can pretty much just enjoy it. All these years of living alone, talking to myself, have finally paid off!
Roger Ehrens was born to play football. From the minute he found his father's old nerf football at just six-years-old he fell in love with the sport. Intelligent, dedicated and humble, he quickly became an invaluable member of every team he played on. With a good head on his shoulders and a supportive father, he excelled in College on and off the field. 

The only thing that came naturally to Brian Rauch was fighting. His father didn't appreciate much besides drinking, fighting and baseball, so when Brian started excelling at hitting the ball he finally got his father's attention. However, Brian quickly learned how to cut corners, what he could get away with. Soon that became his special talent. 

When they meet in College they become friends quickly.  Roger is instantly attracted to Brian who as far as he's concerned is straight. Brian is equally drawn to Roger but it's more about his easygoing nature. Brian likes the way he feels when he's around Roger.  However, the more he gets to know Roger the more he realizes he feels more for him than a friend should. 

Transitioning from friends to lovers is not always easy but especially not for two College athletes headed for the pros. The pressure of remaining in the closet, the struggle to be the best, trying to balance life and the game.  Both Roger and Brian deal with the pressure in different ways and over the years it begins to tear them apart. 

Personally, I really enjoyed this book, mainly for the look at what may drive an athlete to use performance enhancing drugs. I also liked that we got a look at a football player and a baseball player and how they dealt with a relationship in and out of college and the pros.  

I really felt for Brian, while I didn't agree with his choices, my heart hurt for him for the pressure he had on him from the very beginning and his less than nurturing upbringing. He truly lacked positive influences in his life and by the time he got them he didn't appreciate them.  I loved Roger and it broke my heart that he felt the need to hide who he was to get to where he got.  I hated how Brian hurt him and how it tore at him. 

Overall, I really enjoyed Given the Circumstances. Brad Vance's narration of the audiobook was well done and flowed nicely.  I think he was able to give it that added bit of emotion.  I definitely recommend!

4.5 Stars!

*** Audible code was provided to Bayou Book Junkie in exchange for a fair and honest review. ***

Meet the Author
Brad Vance writes gay romance, erotica and paranormal stories and novels, including the breakout hits "A Little Too Broken" and "Given the Circumstances."
Tour Schedule
Aug 1 - Erotica For All
Aug 2 - Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Minds
Aug 3 - Diverse Reader
Aug 4 - Blog of Andrew Grey
Aug 5 - BFD Book Blog
Aug 8 - Cryselle's Bookshelf
Aug 9 - Dean Frech
Aug 9 - Gay Book Reviews
Aug 10 - Dog-eared Daydreams
Aug 10 - Alpha Book Club
Aug 11 - Bayou Book Junkie
Aug 12 - Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents

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