Monday, December 12, 2016

Guest Post ~ September by Robert Winter ~ (Review)

Guest Post ~ September by Robert Winter ~ (Review)

Title: September
Series: Pride and Joy
Author: Robert Winter
Release Date: December 9, 2016Category: Contemporary
Pages: 290

Book Blurb:

David James is smart, successful, handsome… and alone. After the death of his lover, Kyle, from cancer, he buried himself in his law practice and the gym. At forty-eight, he is haunted by his memories and walled off from the world. When David injures himself working out, he’s assigned to Brandon Smith for physical therapy. The vibrant young therapist is attracted to David and realizes he needs a hand to get back into dating. What begins as a practice coffee date escalates to friendship, passion, and maybe something more, as they navigate a new relationship in Washington, DC, and the gay mecca of Provincetown.

But David remains trapped behind the barrier of fear and guilt. Will he remain loyal to Kyle’s memory if he moves on? Can he and Brandon manage a twenty-two-year age gap? Brandon thinks he understands David’s concerns, and for him, the answer to those questions is yes. He wants to be with David, and he believes he can overcome David’s barriers. But Brandon fails to account for the world’s reaction to a handsome young man attached to an older, wealthy lover. David’s memories, Brandon’s pride, and an unexpected tragedy might cost them something very special.

We sat down with Robert Winter author of September and asked Why the Big Age Gap in September? Here's what he had to say:

In September, David James is 48 years old when the story begins, a full 22 years older than Brandon Smith. I had two reasons for writing a romance story with such a large age gap. First, I wanted to play with the trope of the soignée older man, and second, I wanted to see men my age as real romantic leads.

Regarding the May-December trope, the typical story usually has it that, with age, the older character has conquered life’s material challenges but along the way he lost touch with the power and beauty of love. The aged protagonist is often an arrogant, bored sort who is renewed by the plucky young hero(ine)’s youth and vigor. Usually it seems the ingénue is unaware of the effect he or she has on the older lover until a declaration springs out of nowhere. Mr. Rochester and Jane Eyre --with their 20-year age difference -- spring to mind, though there are innumerable examples.

In September, David has achieved financial security and professional success, but he never gave up on love, even when his lover Kyle died of cancer. That tragedy, in fact, gave him the opportunity to understand how deep his own love could be as he helped nurse Kyle during his illness and eventual death. The profound loss left David grieving for two years, wrapped in a cocoon of work and exercise but very little human contact. He is powerfully lonely and he craves someone to hold him occasionally, to take a walk with him at sunset, to accompany him back to his beloved Provincetown. At the same time, David’s love for Kyle remains so strong still that he fears taking a step toward someone new would be disloyal to Kyle’s memory. Far from being closed off to love, David is, rather, terrified of it.

Brandon is therefore the perfect person to help David, because he is essentially fearless, stubborn, and eager to learn. He doesn’t see the age difference between them at all. Rather, he sees an attractive man who needs a helping hand to get back into the dating pool, so he takes David’s hand and plunges right in. Even though Brandon made the first move, he quickly learns that the older man brings a lot of experience to the bedroom that puts to shame the kissing and heavier stuff he’s done with young men his own age. When David’s fears of being disloyal to Kyle surface, Brandon digs in and refuses to let David push him away from what is growing between them. Brandon is flawed and suffers his own doubts and fears, but none of them have to do with David’s age. As a writer, I enjoyed pitting Brandon’s youth, energy and self-confidence against David’s complexities. Unlike a Jane Eyre, Brandon knows what he wants and he goes after it.

The second reason I wrote such a big age gap is probably more selfish. I’m 51, and I want to read stories that show men my age as the romantic lead. I grew up on stories of Prince Charming like everyone else, but now I find I am less interested in the handsome young man starting out on life’s journey. Instead, I start to wonder more about Prince Charming’s father, the handsome king who has perhaps been left a widower in his prime. With all the wisdom of a life well-lived, and with the experience of running a kingdom under his belt, doesn’t he deserve a second chance at love? I think that king’s story is an interesting and romantic one, but I couldn’t find many romance novels with older main characters (KC Wells’ First and Brandon Witt’s Mapping the Forest are relatively rare examples). So I had to write the story of my imaginary widowed king, alone in his castle until he finds his own prince.

Thank you to Bayou Book Junkie for hosting me today.  I hope I’ve given you an incentive to take a chance on the two men at the heart of my story, despite their 22-year age difference.

*Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie by Dreamspinner Press for my reading pleasure in hopes of an unbiased opinion, a review was not a requirement.*

September is Book 1 in Robert Winter's Pride and Joy series and his debut book and he hit a grand slam on his first time at bat!

David James is in his late forties and after burying his long-term lover, finds himself focused on his career and working out. He is a successful partner in a law firm, and despite his age, is in great shape thanks to how hard he pushes himself at Crossfit. But, one day when pushing too hard and trying to keep up with the younger guys in the class, he injures his shoulder. His doctor sends him to physical therapy to work on his rotator cuff and for the first time since burying his lover, he notices and is attracted to someone.

Brandon Smith is from Texas and a family that says they're "fine" with his being gay, but prefers to act like it's not true. He's moved to DC near an uncle to try and use his degree in the best way to eventually have his own practice. Brandon is very active, involved in various sports and activity and with his friends. He's only in his 20's and enjoying life, though he's at the point that he'd like more than a hook up. When he's assigned David, he's attracted to him and impressed by David and his devotion to taking care of his shoulder. Brandon and David enjoy a little flirtation, and when the opportunity presents itself, Brandon takes a chance and offers to help David get back to the dating world.

Both men are attracted to the other but there's a lot to work out between the two! Despite the chemistry between them, David can't just accept that someone so much younger than him can be in this for a long-term relationship and refuses to open himself up to the possibilities. Brandon fights hard to make David see that everything is possible. And when Brandon suffers a tragedy, both men are reminded how fragile life is.

Let me be honest here, before I started reading this, I looked at the reviews and noticed the comments about a letter and the tissues. I internally rolled my eyes and thought, come on, really? Don't discount it! This was not just a letter turning up magically from a secret, undiscovered before place. It honestly just felt so real, something that could really happen and be believable. And yes, pull out the tissues because it was just so beautifully written and had me crying hard enough that once finished, I had to take off my glasses to dry my eyes so I could continue.

I loved both of these characters! David who came from nothing and just wanted to take care of those he loved and Brandon who seemed to just take hit after hit from life but still came back fighting. This wasn't an easy love story, it seems that way, but there was so much going on in the characters' lives that they really had to work for their love. I loved David's friends, he had such a great support system and they were a great addition to this story and to Brandon. I can't urge you to read this book enough, it was absolutely beautiful!

Rating: 5 Stars & 4 Tissues!!!

Robert Winter is a recovering lawyer who likes writing about hot men in love much more than drafting a legal brief. He left behind the (allegedly) glamorous world of an international law firm to sit in his home office and dream up ways to torment his characters until they realize they are perfect for each other.

Robert divides his time between Washington, DC, and Provincetown, MA. He splits his attention between Andy, his partner of fifteen years, and Ling the Adventure Cat, who likes to fly in airplanes and explore the backyard jungle as long as the temperature and humidity are just right.
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