Monday, December 5, 2016

Virtual Book Tour: Idlewild by Jude Sierra (Review + Giveaway)

Virtual Book Tour: Idlewild by Jude Sierra (Author's Interview, Excerpt, Review + Giveaway)



Asher Schenck and his husband John opened their downtown gastro pub in the midst of Detroit’s revival. Now, five years after John’s sudden death, Asher is determined to pull off a revival of his own. In a last ditch attempt to bring Idlewild back to life, he fires everyone and hires a new staff. Among them is Tyler Heyward, a recent college graduate in need of funds to pay for med school. Tyler is a cheery balm on Asher’s soul, and their relationship quickly shifts from business to friendship. When they fall for each other, it is not the differences of race or class that challenge their love, but the ghosts and expectations of their respective pasts. Will they remain stuck, or move toward a life neither of them has allowed himself to dream about?


“Want to make the muffins to go with the cider?”
 Asher props the recipe card against the container of flour he’s retrieved. “That sounds great.”
“Awesome,” Tyler says. Asher smiles, and it’s not sad this time, or hopeful or anything to make this whole exercise hard. It’s normal, it’s level. Tyler loves that smile and the natural camaraderie.
“All right, boss, tell me what needs doing.”
But for the directions Asher gives him, it’s quiet in the kitchen. Tyler washes and peels and chops the apples while Asher collects and lines up ingredients. Despite the hours he logs here, Tyler’s not very competent in the kitchen.
“You’re going to chop a finger off,” Asher says. “Here.” He takes Tyler’s hands carefully. “Curl the tips of your fingers under.” Asher’s fingers are gentle, warm and bigger than his. A tingle shivers down Tyler’s spine. His breath comes out harder than it should, giving him away. Asher pauses—it’s barely perceptible—and takes a breath of his own. But he doesn’t move away. Tyler can smell him and feel the height difference. Asher’s not overly tall, but he is bigger than Tyler. Most men are.
 “How’s that?” Tyler manages. He mimics the movement Asher’s shown him, and places his fingers more carefully on the apple.
 “Perfect,” Asher says, and then moves away. Tyler goes back to chopping.
 Once they’re finished, Asher tilts the recipe card so that Tyler can see it. He mixes the dry ingredients while Asher does the wet. The air is so charged Tyler almost can’t take it. He looks at Asher often, averting his eyes when Asher glances back. He wants to speak, but there’s nothing to say. This is John’s recipe. Tyler intended this moment to be cathartic for Asher. This isn’t catharsis.
 But when Asher glances over at him while he mixes and catches Tyler’s eye, Tyler is sure his feelings are not one-sided.
 Once the batter is in the tins and then into the oven, Tyler takes his apron off, grabs some water and follows Asher into the breakroom. He hands Asher the glass and perches on a stool. Instinct—or maybe cowardice—tells him he needs to wait for Asher to break the silence.
 “Thank you, Tyler,” Asher finally says. He twists the glass round and round in his hands with his gaze focused on it. “I… I’ve needed this.”
 “Anytime,” Tyler says softly, and means it.

Today we’re very lucky to be interviewing Jude Sierra author of Idlewild
Hi Jude, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself, your background, and your current book.

      What are your ambitions for your writing career? Thank you for having me! Can taking over the world be an ambition? I kid, that’s way too much responsibility. Right now I see my publishing career as split dreams: publishing romantic fiction for the rest of my life, and professional academic publishing. While the latter feeds my mind in one sense, writing fiction feeds my mind, body and heart. I would love to publish some poetry too, though I tend to be much more private about it than I used to be. 

        How many published books do you have? Can you tell us something about them? Idlewild will be my third. It’s a contemporary romance novel set in a Downtown Detroit. Idlewild is a restaurant run by a widower named Asher who is looking to revitalize his business, and a young man named Tyler who is looking for a new direction in his life. What it Takes, my second, is a contemporary novel set in Cape Cod, which follows the main characters over 20 years of their lives from childhood into adulthood. My first book, Hush, has a different flavor, and is a fun mix of paranormal and erotic and coming of age story for two young men who are in college in the suburbs of Chicago.

        Give us an insight into your main characters. What do they do that is so special?

Tyler is a chameleon who can and does have the ability to be many different variations of himself. Sometimes this is a mask and sometimes it’s a gift. He’s tremendously charismatic and has an ability to tap into many different wells. He’s both biracial and genderqueer, and it’s in those, in his understanding of the spaces his body and identity occupy, that he’s able to do this. He’s a man who knows how to use his charisma without fully understanding that sometimes, his ability to change himself has to do with masking or managing fears and anxieties.

Asher is a very sensual and committed man. I mean this beyond relationships or sex (although, yes, definitely). Although running a restaurant had not originally been his dream (it was his late partner John’s), Asher loved – and loves – it. What we see as readers for a lot of the book is a sense of Asher’s grit. We see the moments where things have fallen apart for him – as a widower who is about to lose his restaurant – but the quieter and deeper aspect of the story is that despite it all, Asher has kept going. He hasn’t given up. I love that about him.

        What are you working on at the moment? What’s it about? I am working on my thesis for my Masters (thrilling) and have begun a novel that is as yet, nameless (other than a terrible code name, Project Keys). It’s a contemporary romance set in Key Largo. I’m very excited to be finally writing a Brazilian character (since I am Brazilian myself) and also writing a character who has the same form of bipolar I do. I wanted to write something that represented not only living and learning to thrive with Cyclothemia, but that’s about thriving and finding happiness in a relationship as well.  That makes the story sound heavy, but there’s a lot of sweetness and new relationship feels and romance. 

        Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day? Only when I’m writing during National Novel Writing Month. To keep consistent pace for NaNo you have to write 1667 words a day. I don’t always hit that, and I go over sometimes. I have a spreadsheet that tells me where I am at all times.  I have yet to figure out why it is that I am the most consistently productive this one month a year. I am productive all year, but I really tend to bang out the majority of the roughest version of my books at this time.

*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. *

This is the first book I've read from this author, Jude Sierra. I found her writing style to be completely different from most of the books I read, and that's not negative, it just was different!

After the loss of his husband, restaurant owner Asher has decided it's time to start from the beginning. Owning a restaurant was his husband's dream but it became something they both wanted and when they had the opportunity they created Idlewild in Detroit. They wanted to do their part of fixing Detroit and making it better. Their restaurant was a success, but when his husband died, Asher lost himself in his grief and the employees took advantage of his grief and distraction. Now, Asher is ready to make Idlewild the success it was. He's fired all his staff and is starting to hire new. 

This book really is about Asher rebuilding Idlewild and discovering that it's time for him to grieve and move on. Not only has Asher gotten rid of all his staff, he also has cut all family out of his life and is living a very solitary life in an apartment over the restaurant.

One of Asher's new hires, Tyler, is new to the restaurant business. He was going to college to become a doctor, something he has worked hard to do and realized that he was on that path for others. He came from a bad area of Detroit and he sees a different world than Asher. Tyler has spent all his time trying to be who others want him to be, that he's kind of lost who he really is. As Tyler spends more time with Asher learning about the restaurant, he feels that he's found his calling but Tyler's ambitious boyfriend is not supportive of him. Once single, Tyler has to figure out who he is and what he wants for his life.

Together Asher and Tyler force each other to continue on, to fix the broken and to move on together. Even broken, the two men fit together well, and once they themselves figured out, you can see the beautiful relationship they've both created. Together they create a family with the other restaurant staff who has been sitting back and watching, and silently cheering, for Asher and Tyler.

This review is over-simplifying the depth of this book and characters, but it's one you need to immerse yourself in to feel the full effects of Idlewild.

Rating: 4 stars

About the Author

Jude Sierra first began writing poetry as a child in her home country of Brazil. Still a student of the form, she began writing long-form fiction by tackling her first National Novel Writing Month project in 2007, and in 2011 began writing in online communities, where her stories have thousands of readers. Her previous novels include Hush (2015) and What It Takes (2016), which received a Starred Review from Publishers Weekly.

Connect with the author at, on Twitter @judesierra and on Facebook at

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IDLEWILD will be published by Interlude Press on December 1, 2016.