Welcome to my weekly Author Spotlight. I’ve asked a bunch of my author friends to answer a set of interview questions, and to share their latest work.
Today, Grace Kilian Delaney – Grace Kilian Delaney writes sweet, sexy, LGBT romance with a touch of naughty.
Giveaway: Thanks for having me on your blog! I am offering a chance to win a free copy of Living on a Dare and will pick a winner on June 11th. To qualify, entrants can either join my FB group or signup for my mailing list.
Thanks so much, Grace, for joining me!
J. Scott Coatsworth: Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
Grace Kilian Delaney: The land of Goodreads reviews is both beautiful and brutal. The good reviews I scan to see what part of the book the reviewer enjoyed the most. The bad reviews, if they are constructive, are useful to see where I can improve as a writer.
JSC: How long on average does it take you to write a book?
GKD: A million years.
JSC: What’s your writing process?
GKD: Write. Love it. Write. Hate it. Pull hair. Drink coffee. Eat chocolate. Rewrite.
JSC: What inspired you to write this particular story? What were the challenges in bringing it to life?
GKD: I enjoy reading friends to lovers and fake relationship stories and wanted to see if I could write one. The biggest challenge was keeping it light-hearted while sustaining a somewhat realistic reason why the fake engagement went on for as long as it did.
JSC: Are you a plotter or a pantster?
GKD: I take the general idea of the story and see what the characters have to say about it and eventually the structure comes. It’s probably why it takes a million years to write a story.
JSC: Do your books spring to life from a character first or an idea?
GKD: An idea.
JSC: What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
GKD: Marketing skills.
JSC: Who has been your favorite character to write and why?
GKD: Tate from Living on a Dare. He tells people exactly what’s on his mind and doesn’t take life too seriously. He is a stunt performer who specializes in fire and pyrotechnics, all things that terrify me.
JSC: If you could create a new holiday, what would it be?
GKD: National Spa Day. A day that everyone in all walks of life got to be pampered.
JSC: Describe yourself using… ( a food, a book, a song, a movie, an animal, a drink, a place etc)
GKD: Mimosa, bubbly and fun, and sort of fruity.
And now for Grace’s new book: Living on a Dare:
Stuntman Draven O’Connor never turns down a dare—even if it means getting down on one knee to propose to his former college roommate and friend. The same man he’s been crushing on since the first day they met. The same man that has grown distant over the past year. And the same man who just agreed to be his fiancé.
Julien Bouchard is tired of living a lie. He spent the past year exploring his sexuality in secret, enduring countless dates with women to appease his mother, and dodging his best friend, Draven, who knows everything there is to know about him, except the one thing that could change their friendship. Ready to face his friend, he meets him at a bar and is greeted by an unexpected marriage proposal. The dare isn’t surprising; it’s the scorching hot kiss thatsends Julien’s head and heart in a tailspin—and gives him an idea for the perfect plan.
But his plan hits a bump when news of their fake engagement spreads to their families as fast as a wildfire, forcing them to confront their true feelings about each other and hope they don’t get burned.
The blank screen on my phone mocked me. What the hell had I done to deserve the cold shoulder treatment? Things had been rough between us for the past year, sure. But being ignored by a guy that’d had my back for nearly ten years was a new low.
I’d been in Boston for a couple days, leaving the sunshine and warmth of my California home to visit him, and aside from the I’ll try to see youtext I’d gotten when I landed, it’d been radio silence. I left a voicemail in an over-the-top whining voice earlier in the day inviting him to meet me at the bar this evening and sent him a text when I’d arrived at the bar hours ago. He’d never cared if we went to a gay bar in the past, so whatever kept him away had more to do with me than my choice of venue, and that hurt like an SOB. I tried not to let my disappointment ruin my night, but it kept gnawing at my gut.
At least I wasn’t alone.
“Your boy Jules still ignoring you?” Tate, my older brother from another mother, asked. A tatted-up Boston native with a tough exterior and a generous heart, Tate called Los Angeles his second home. He was a co-owner of X-Trips, the stunt company I worked for. We met at a dojo in LA five years ago and the crazy motherfucker persuaded me to become a stuntman once he found out I was a former national gymnast. Best decision ever.
“Guess so. Unless his phone isn’t working right.” I drowned in my fourth beer, settling into my emo mood. All I needed were side-swept bangs and guyliner.
“That’s what you’re going with? His phone ain’t working?”
“It could happen.” I shrugged. Tate rolled his eyes.
Julien Bouchard had been one of my closest friends during college. Our lives had split in different directions and on opposite coasts after we graduated from UC Berkeley, but the distance hadn’t mattered because we constantly sent texts.
That changed last year after I flew three thousand miles to see Jules before heading overseas for a job. I was hurting from a bad breakup and needed some friend time. It killed me when he said he was “too busy with work to meet” after we’d made plans. The guy was a horrible liar. Always had been. His pathetic excuse made me feel lower than whale shit—to borrow a phrase from my Irish father—and it took months before I answered Jules’s texts with more than one-word responses. Yeah, I was butt hurt and probably more of a stubborn dickhead than I needed to be about it, but my ex left me in such a screwed-up state I wasn’t thinking clearly, and it’d distracted me at work, almost costing me my life and my friendship with Jules.
“When you gonna move on from that straight piece of ass?” Tate asked, tapping a finger by my beer to get my attention. “I’m tired of seeing you all mopey.”
“I’m not mopey.”
He scoffed. “Aight. And I’m the freaking Pope. He’s got you wound around his little pinky, and he hasn’t even given you the time of day for how long? A year? You know what I think? You keep lusting after your boy because it’s safe and it keeps you from dealing with the crap your ex left behind.”
“That’s some deep pop psychology, right there. Your degree in bullshit is paying off.”
Problem was, Tate was too close to the truth. My little fantasy with Jules was perfect because there was no chance in hell he and I would ever be a thing. I’d yet to bounce back from the shitstorm that my closeted ex-boyfriend, Victor, had put me through. I hadn’t dated anyone since. Victor was full of promises and lies and acted like a dick when he didn’t get his way.
Tate pursed his lips. “That’s exactly what I’m talking about. Deflection. You can’t commit to anyone.”
“I can.” Even if I couldn’t, I wasn’t going to back down.
“Yeah? Aight, I got a dare for you.” He raised his eyebrows, dark eyes filled with fire that said the game was on.
“What kinda dare?” My mood brightened. This was how trouble started.
Messing with each other was the lynchpin of our friendship. We’d dared each other to do humiliating, stupid shit since we met. Like wearing nipple pasties and G-strings while skateboarding along Venice Beach. Or running down the street wearing a speedo in the middle of winter and clucking like a chicken. Or singing karaoke to a One Direction song and dancing—something I never, ever should have done. Those were the tame, legal ones, BASE jumps aside. We lived for silly adventures, calculated daredevil risks, anything adrenaline-inducing.
“I’ll make it easy on you. You date the next person who comes through that door for the entire week you’re here.”
“A week? Pfft. That’s too easy.”
“Ha! Since your ex, you ain’t never been with a guy longer than a night in over a year.” Tate pointed a scarred finger as I opened my mouth to protest. “Don’t bother denying it.”
I couldn’t. But that didn’t mean I was going to let Tate have the upper hand. “Dating is overrated. Give me a realchallenge.”
He smirked, and it was as if the devil himself was behind that grin. “I got it. Since you’re all commitaphobe. How about you propose to the next person who walks through the door.”
My stomach dropped out. Boom. Gone. The very notion of a proposal made my skin itchy. I’d dared myself into a corner and there was no going back now. Besides, it wasn’t a real proposal. Hell, maybe the unfortunate guy might find it hilarious that some semi-buzzed dude proposed to him.
“You, my friend, have a deal.”
Tate raised his glass and clunked it against mine. “It’s gonna be some knuckle-dragging sixty-year-old dude with death breath and a beer gut,” he said, a smirk lining his lips. “Or a lesbian.”
“Not marrying a lesbian.”
“How ‘bout the knuckle-dragging sixty-year-old?”
“There’s nothing wrong with a silver fox. After all those years of experience, I bet they know how to work it, even if it is old and wrinkly and their balls dangle so low they knock between their knees.”
Tate contorted his face like he’d taken a bite of something sour. “I think I puked a little in my mouth. Damn, why you gotta be like that, Dee?”
“You went there first.”
A cool blast of air swished through the bar as the door opened. This was it. The man I was to marry, or at least attempt mounting for the night—maybe the week if he was a good enough fuck.
“Oh my God.” Tate burst out laughing, pointing to the door of the bar. “It’s Jules! Fate is mean to your sorry ass.”
Jules was adorable in that pretty, all-American way. I studied that face for years, admiring the best pair of bow-shaped lips and the cutest double-dimpled smile that sent my heart fluttering. Every. Damn. Time. Some things hadn’t changed. I wished they would because the sight of Jules smiling when he saw me took my breath, and most of my anger, away.
“Draven, it’s really good to see you,” he said as he hugged me as if he hadn’t spent the past two days ignoring my existence. At six-foot-two, he stood an inch shorter than me. He was thinner than my bulky, muscled frame and fit perfectly in my arms.
“Good to see you, too.” A heartbeat passed, and we were still embracing. I wasn’t letting go until he did. Wasn’t that some etiquette thing? Unless my sister was full of shit when she said it, which was possible. My aggravation melted further as I slyly buried my nose against his neck, inhaling the smell of the cool, outdoor air mixed with his spicy cologne. Having him in my arms was like embracing a lost part of me and made me realize I missed him more than I was mad at him. That didn’t mean I wouldn’t call him out on his bullshit.
“You always give the best hugs,” he said, his brown eyes shining brighter as he released me. I should be over my stupid college boy crush. But when he looked at me all wide-eyed and happy, as if I held the sun and moon, I fell right back into it. It was a good thing I lived on another coast. It kept me from pining away—mostly.
“Just for you, man. Just for you.”
“Tate.” Jules reached for Tate and gave him a far quicker and less intimate hug than the one we exchanged.
“I thought you were blowing me off like last time.” I let the dig hit.
“My promotion gave me no downtime. I’m sorry,” he explained for the thousandth time.
Thing was, he didn’t look me in the eye as he spoke, and I knew from that small tell that he was lying. It stung, but I had things I’d dodged telling him about my life. Maybe we’d outgrown our tried and true friendship, and I’d been naïve to think trust between us would remain forever unchanged.
“You’re here now.” I clapped a hand on his shoulder. “Sit. Join us.”
Tate dragged another bar stool over to our high table. “How’s our big-city-corporate-boy?”
“I’m good.” Jules rested his forearms on the table and fidgeted.
“Well, Dee just made a little wager.” Tate’s smile stretched as wide as a crocodile’s, and I knew this conversation was veering into unsafe territory.
“Oh, did he?” Jules asked, intrigued. He’d been no stranger to our dares and had even participated. Like when I’d dared him to moon the graduating class, I never thought he would’ve gone through with it. There was photographic evidence. But that had been the younger version of my friend, not the suit-and-tie guy.
“Yup. Why don’t you tell him, bro?” Tate leaned back, lacing his hands behind his head, reclining like he was on the beach.
“Yes, why don’t you tell me?” Intrigue sparkled in Jules’s eyes.
“This doofus dared me to propose to the next guy to walk through the door and guess who walked in?”
“So, who was the lucky winner?” Jules’s sweet, bespectacled gaze sent my heart thumping and my balls tingling.
A dare was a dare. I finished the remainder of my beer, gathering the last bits of liquid courage, and got down on one knee. My throat clogged as I took his smooth, warm hand into my rough, calloused one. I suddenly felt sober.
“Julien Bouchard, will you marry me?” This wasn’t real, I reminded myself as I looked upon Jules’s perplexed face. Why did he have to be so freaking gorgeous?
For a breath, we stared at each other. A playful smile upturned the corners of his lips. How often during our friendship had he looked at me with that same honey-like gaze that let me know what I was doing was insane, yet he loved the absurdity of it and was all-in? I felt like we were kids again, the troubles of our adult friendship disintegrating with each silent second between us.
“You’re crazy.” He shook his head and laughed, ringing and honest. God, I loved that sound.
“Is that a yes?” I needed him to say yes and not because of some half-baked dare. This was myJules, and I didn’t care if he claimed he was straight or not. This pretense was the closest we would ever be as a couple. Less than a half hour together and my world seemed brighter, better, and my heart beat stronger in my chest. This was why I stayed on the West Coast. It hurt to be so close to him and not be able to be with him.
The bar room seemed quieter and I felt eyes upon us.
“Hmm,” he said and smiled wider.
I hung onto my breath. Sweat formed in my palms. “Jules, you’re killing me here.”
“It’s a yes. Yes, I’ll marry you.”
I swooped him up in a hug, happiness flooding my body as the bar crowd erupted into hoots and hollers. Tate, being the asshole that he was, chanted, “Kiss, kiss, kiss,” getting the entire pub to join him.
Jules shrugged. “We shouldn’t disappoint them.”
“Are you serious?” A kiss. In front of people. I was floating, ignoring the cement block of reality cautioning me.
“It’s not as if we haven’t kissed before.”
After a freshman Back to School party, Jules staggered home to our apartment and fell asleep on the living room floor. I picked his sorry ass up and dragged him into his bedroom where he palmed my face, told me I was handsome, then kissed me on the lips before passing out. He never brought it up, never acted interested, curious, or any different toward me after it’d happened. I figured he’d been too drunk to remember. A week later he started seeing a woman and tamped down any hopes of him being interested in me.
“I wasn’t thatdrunk that night. Just kiss me, you idiot.”
Jules grabbed the front of my shirt, and his sweet, velvety lips met mine, obliterating my thoughts. Electricity surged as our mouths moved against each other, a Jacob’s ladder of lust climbing higher and higher, the sweep of his tongue along mine completing the final arc. Desperate and clinging to this moment, to him, I deepened the kiss, taking what I never thought he would give me so willingly. A clipped cry escaped him, and he wrapped his arms around me tighter. This kiss had gotten out of hand even for a dare.
Reluctantly, I stole a final taste of Jules, admiring the blown pupils and swollen lips with pride when I finished. That proud moment lasted two seconds before reason hit me like a bucket of ice water. What the hell did I do?
Grace Kilian Delaney writes sweet, sexy, LGBT romance with a touch of naughty. She grew up near Boston and relocated with her husband to Southern California, where the snow stays on the mountain and looks fantastic from far away. She is ruled by an ancient cat who is alive by sheer will alone, a dog that demands his walks, and plot bunnies that leave messes all over her kitchen table.
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