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INTERVIEW & GIVEAWAY: A Shooting Star by Joe Cosentino

Shooting Star cover

Blurb

Book two in the In My Heart series

On the eve of the best night of his life, winning an Academy Award, Jonathan Bello thinks back to his one great love, David Star. Flipping back the pages of time, Jonathan recalls his handsome, muscular, and charismatic college roommate. Since Jonathan was a freshman and David a senior in the Theatre Department, David took Jonathan under his wing and molded him, not only as an actor but as a lover. With every wonderful new adventure, David left his joyful mark on anyone with whom they came in contact, but Jonathan soon uncovered David’s dark past, leading to a shocking event. Undaunted, Jonathan celebrates the captivating man who will always hold a special place in his heart.

A Bittersweet Dreams title: It’s an unfortunate truth: love doesn’t always conquer all. Regardless of its strength, sometimes fate intervenes, tragedy strikes, or forces conspire against it. These stories of romance do not offer a traditional happy ending, but the strong and enduring love will still touch your heart and maybe move you to tears.

AN INTERVIEW WITH JOE COSENTINO

 

Why did you write A SHOOTING STAR?

After my Bittersweet Dreams novella, AN INFATUATION, was released by Dreamspinner Press, I received numerous requests from readers for a second novella in the In My Heart series. Since AN INFATUATION was loosely based on my high school days through adulthood, I thought back to my days as a theatre major in college, and A SHOOTING STAR was born.

Why were your college days special enough to write about in a novella?

Like most college theatre departments, mine was full of comedy, romance, mystery, and of course drama. The flames of love were kindled and hearts were broken while we put up play after play for delighted audiences who never knew the personal secrets behind the stage curtains. There was the star student who got the leading role in every show. Everyone, male and female, was in love with him, and he was in love with himself. There was also the class clown, the manipulator, everybody’s best friend, and (as they say on Gilligan’s Island) the rest. As we learned our acting craft, we learned solid lessons about life. We met and fell in love, some for a semester, some for four years, and some for a lifetime. Though we now live states apart, we forged friendships that will also continue (thanks to Facebook). Some became famous in films, television, on Broadway, or in the literary arena. Others moved on to other occupations. Still others chose marriage and children. Regardless, we all shared an incredible experience that binds us. An experience none of us will ever forget.

What is the storyline of A SHOOTING STAR?

New college theatre major Jonathan meets the gorgeous, muscular, tantalizing, and mysterious upper classroom and theatre department star aptly named David Star. As David grooms Jonathan for college life and for stardom, Jonathan falls deeply in love with him. This leads Jonathan on an inner and outer journey, where he learns some shocking secrets about David, and about himself. As a remembrance story, the novella begins with Jonathan having just received the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Film, as he thinks back to the person who was responsible for his win.

Tell us more about the main characters.

Like Harold in AN INFATUATION, Jonathan in A SHOOTING STAR is loosely based on me, though I haven’t won an Academy Award—yet. He is ingenuous, funny, warm, gullible, and has an open heart. As is the case with Stuart in AN INFATAUTION, Barry, Jonathan’s loyal scene partner in A SHOOTING STAR, is loosely based on my spouse. Similar to Mario in AN INFATUATION, David in SHOOTING STAR is a combination of a number of young men I met as a theatre major in college and as a young actor. They were gay, bi, closet-gay, or straight. Each was handsome, muscular, charismatic, sensuous, and almost other-worldly like Greek gods. Though they appeared to hold the world in the palm of their strong hands, they each had a secret weakness. The acting professor, the hysterically hypochondriac Professor Katzer, is a lampooned version of an acting professor I had in college who has since passed away. I want to play him in the movie version!

Who is your favorite character in A SHOOTING STAR? And why?

Jonathan has incredible spirit. He is likeable, gullible, and wears his heart on his sleeve.

Which one of your characters was the hardest one to write? And why?

David is magical, an enigma, and incredibly sexy.

Which one of your characters did you enjoy writing the most? And why?

Barry is hysterical and has such a great sense of self. He is also a devoted friend.

Is A SHOOTING STAR the first time you’ve written about college life?

No, my Nicky and Noah mystery series from Lethe Press takes place at Treemeadow College, a fictitious white stone Edwardian New England college. Though the novel is a farcical, gay, who-dun-it, I again was able to think back to my college days and incorporate some of the people and happenings from days gone by. I was also able to use some scenarios, though grossly exaggerated, from my current stint as a college theatre professor/department head.

In DRAMA QUEEN theatre college professors are dropping like stage curtains. With the inept local detective more interested in getting into Nicky’s pants than solving the murders, it is up to well-endowed Directing professor, Nicky Abbondanza to use his theatre skills (including playing other people) to solve the case, while he directs a murder mystery onstage. Complicating matters is Nicky’s intense crush on Assistant Professor of Acting, gorgeous Noah Oliver, the prime suspect in the murder (whose tenure application was not supported by the first victim). In DRAMA MUSCLE (not released yet) Nicky and Noah have to use their theatre skills to find out why musclemen are dropping like weights in the Physical Education department while Nicky directs the Student Bodybuilding Competition. In DRAMA CRUISE (not released yet), Nicky and Noah go on a cruise to Alaska, and discover why college theatre professors are going overboard like lifeboats while Nicky directs a murder mystery dinner theatre show onboard ship. The fourth book, DRAMA ALOHA (not released yet), has Nicky and Noah putting on a luau show as muscular male dancers drop like hula skirts. As the series progressing, Nicky and Noah fall deeper in love, and the readers hopefully fall deeper in love with Nicky and Noah.

How do you handle writing love scenes?

Lovemaking is a part of life, so it makes sense to include love scenes in novels. The love scenes in my books are pretty tame compared to many. I have been told they are sweet, sexy, and touching.

What’s next for you in terms of MM novellas?

Dreamspinner Press is publishing A HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS (an American travels to Capri Italy and embarks on a romance with his handsome third cousin), and THE NAKED PRINCE AND OTHER TALES FROM FAIRYLAND (gay fairytales).

What are you writing now?

A new series of novels in a gay beach resort called COZZI COVE. Though I hide under a beach umbrella due to my fair skin, I love the beach!

As a college professor/department head, how do you have the time to write?

I write at night after my spouse has gone to bed. I have a beautiful cherry wood study with a fireplace, huge desk, bookcases, and window seat. My mother asked me, “Don’t you have anything better to do than write at night?” I wonder if Shakespeare’s mother asked him that? Hah.

How can your readers contact you?

I love hearing from readers. They can contact me at http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com.

Excerpt

As an Italian-American, I subscribed to my mother’s theory that if someone doesn’t want you to see something, he will hide it in a locked vault covered with cement. So I inadvertently took a quick look at my roommate’s things on the other side of the room. He was incredibly neat. Numerous theater textbooks and play scripts lined his bookshelf in alphabetical order. The bulletin board above his desk displayed artistically arranged programs from various comedy, drama, and musical college productions listing the same male lead in each show: “David Star”.

“Do you always look at other people’s things?”

I nearly got whiplash as he entered the room.

Stammering like a kid caught masturbating by his parents, I said, “I… w-was… ad-m-miring y-your… r-room.”

Though it was a fall September day, he took off his scarf (violet) and rested it on a tall coat-rack, which held scarves in various colors like a department store window display. He was taller than me, with a chiseled, handsome face, and straight, shiny black hair, which fell down his thick neck. I admired his perfectly sculpted muscles, housed in a turquoise designer dress shirt. But what captivated me the most were his piercing crystal-blue eyes—and the enormous bulge in his skin-tight, designer beige pants.

“What’s your name?”

“Johnny Falabella.”

He looked at me like a surgeon examining a tumor. “No, it’s not.”

“Excuse me?”

“It’s Jonathan Bello.” He opened a bureau drawer, pulled out a bottle of hair gel, and tossed it to me. “You should gel your hair.” He opened his closet, revealing a multitude of color-coordinated shirts and slacks, and lay some on my bed. “And you can wear these.”

I looked at his perfectly pressed designer clothes. “Where did you get all these things?”

“They were gifts, mostly.”

“You must have some generous friends…. Sorry, I don’t know your name.”

I’m David Star.” He took a bow.

Looking back at his play programs, I said, “You must have starred in every play at the college over the last three years.”

“Guilty as charged.”

“What happened to your last roommate?”

“He went to LA over the summer break and started auditioning. He got cast in a new TV sitcom. I hope it takes off. It’s called Cosby.”

“At the orientation session, they said freshmen are housed with other freshmen. How did I get a senior for a roommate?”

His eyes twinkled. “Just lucky I guess.”

“Do you think it was some kind of an administrative error or something?”

“Or something.” He added matter-of-factly, “I asked for a freshman roommate.”

Buy Link

Dreamspinner Press

Amazon

All Romance eBooks

Barnes & Noble

 

Giveaway

Joe Cosentino is offering a giveaway of AN INFATUATION, the first In My Heart bittersweet dreams novella from Dreamspinner Press. Post a comment about his interview. We will select the random winner and Joe will email you the ebook!

Giveaway ends midnight 9th September (central time)

 

About the Author

Joe Cosentino is the author of An Infatuation and A Shooting Star (Dreamspinner Press), Paper Doll the first Jana Lane mystery (Whiskey Creek Press), Drama Queen the first Nicky and Noah mystery (Lethe Press), and The Nutcracker and the Mouse King (Eldridge Plays and Musicals). He has appeared in principal acting roles in film, television, and theatre, opposite stars such as Bruce Willis, Rosie O’Donnell, Nathan Lane, Holland Taylor, and Jason Robards. His one-act plays, Infatuation and Neighbor, were performed in New York City. He wrote The Perils of Pauline educational film (Prentice Hall Publishers). Joe is currently Head of the Department/Professor at a college in upstate New York, and is happily married. His upcoming novels are A Home for the Holidays (Dreamspinner Press holiday novella), The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland (Dreamspinner Press short stories novella), Porcelain Doll the second Jana Lane mystery (Wild Rose Press), and Drama Muscle the second Nicky and Noah mystery (Lethe Press).

Web site: http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/JoeCosentinoauthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JoeCosen

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4071647.Joe_Cosentino

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00KRPXJP6

 

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Between Love and Honor + The Courage to Love

This review is of two books which follow the story of David Harrison. The first, Between Love and Honor, is a short story and is part of the Dreamspinner Press Bittersweet Dreams series.

Bittersweet Dreams, stories of M/M romance with nontraditional endings. It’s an unfortunate truth: love doesn’t always conquer all. Regardless of its strength, sometimes fate intervenes, tragedy strikes, or forces conspire against it. These stories of romance do not offer a traditional happy ending, but the strong and enduring love will still touch your heart and maybe move you to tears.

The second story, The Courage to Love, picks up David’s tale as he meets Bernard and needs to overcome his fear if they are to find happiness together.

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Between Love and Honor

Between Love and Honor

by E.E. Montgomery

 

The Blurb...

It’s 1914 and David looks up from his Post Office counter to see the man of his dreams. Carl is everything he’s ever wanted, but Australia has laws against ‘deviants’ and the two men must be circumspect. When World War I breaks out, Carl tries to enlist but is rejected. People see his delicate features and stature and assume he’s ‘less than a man’. He’s scorned for not doing his duty while David is applauded for serving his country at home. Public condemnation turns violent, and Carl and David are torn between love and honor.

So what did I think?

This story had a true sense of time and place, capturing the era and the attitudes beautifully . The time is 1914 and David & Carl are dealing with their growing love for one another in a time when their love was definitely not understood, and also dealing with the impact of the war.

I knew this story was bittersweet going into it and almost read it reluctantly, knowing I was setting myself up for heartache. It is only a short story but managed to really draw me in, leaving me with a feeling of sadness and most definitely wanting to keep following David’s story.

Somehow I think it makes it easier to read these Bittersweet series stories when you know there is another book on the horizon. In this case it is The Courage To Love which follows David’s story as he returns from the war.

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The Courage to Love
The Courage to Love

by E.E. Montgomery

 

The blurb…

Warning: This blurb is slightly spoilerish if you haven’t read the first book yet so skip to the review section if you don’t want to find out what happened!

In 1915, after his beloved Carl died from a vicious beating, David Harrison enlisted in the Army and went to war. He returns home to find a world seemingly unchanged, while he will never be the same. At Mrs. Gill’s boarding house, he meets Bernard Donnelly, a young man suffering the aftereffects of his own war experiences. David finds himself increasingly attracted to Bernard, but that terrifies him. He blames himself for Carl’s horrific death and fears he isn’t strong enough to lose another love to violence.

Bernard needs David to help him face each day and find a way they can be together without stigma—and without putting them in legal and physical danger—but David clings to his idea that the only way to keep a lover safe is not to have one. His fears threaten to destroy everything, unless he learns that sometimes the risk is worth it and finds the courage to love.

4 stars

So what did I think?

David’s story started in Between Love and Honor, where David met and fell in love with Carl but they were not destined to have a future together. David is devastated at the loss of his lover and holds himself responsible. The Courage To Love picks up his story once he returns from the horrors of the war.

As with the first story, this book had a wonderful sense of time and place and appeared to reflect what it was like to live in Brisbane in the period after the war– the attitudes, the way of life, the hardship, the illness…

This is a story of fear of loving. And David’s fear is understandable due to what he’d been through– the death of his lover, his guilt, the war experience, his own mother’s attitude. The result is that his love for Bernard meant he kept him at arm’s length, afraid to get too close.

It was a moving story with wonderful characters– I loved Mrs Gill– but I do admit to wanting just a touch more of a physical relationship between David and Bernard. I know that their level and amount of intimacy was appropriate for the story but I couldn’t help but hope.

And after the tears of book 1, thank goodness David got his happy ending!

4 stars

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To find out more about E.E. Montgomery and her books visit her website.

Buy Between Love and Honor from Dreamspinner Press.

Buy The Courage to Love from Dreamspinner Press.

Buy The Courage to Love from Amazon.

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★★★★ The Unconditional Love series by Wade Kelly ★★★★

The Unconditional Love series

  • When Love Is Not Enough (Book #1) – this is a Bittersweet title. Books in this Dreamspinner Press series do not have a happy ending.
  • The Cost of Loving (Book #2)

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When Love Is Not Enough (Unconditional Love, #1) (Bittersweet Dreams)When Love Is Not Enough (Unconditional Love, #1) by Wade Kelly

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The blurb…

A six-year downward spiral into a world of lies and deception leads to the end of one man’s life when self-discovery crosses the line between being the perfect son or following his heart.

Jimmy Miller never intended to lead a double life starting the day he fell in love with Darian, but his parents’ divorce, fighting in school, and constantly keeping secrets for his closeted best friend and protector, Matt, force his hand. Jimmy finds the demands too great to withstand and ends it all prematurely, leaving behind an angry best friend and a shattered lover.

Matt and Darian cling to one another in the aftermath of their loss, forging a new friendship immediately tested by the truths of their relationships with Jimmy that are hidden in the pages of Jimmy’s journals. Will Matt and Darian discover what truly happened to their friend? And will this tragedy birth something beautiful between them as they learn the balance between life, family, and friendship when love is simply not enough?

A Bittersweet Dreams title: It’s an unfortunate truth: love doesn’t always conquer all. Regardless of its strength, sometimes fate intervenes, tragedy strikes, or forces conspire against it. These stories of romance do not offer a traditional happy ending, but the strong and enduring love will still touch your heart and maybe move you to tears.

So what did I think?

“Know that I loved you more than the stars have power to kiss the night sky.”

I put off reading this for such a long time. I was worried about the subject matter and the unhappiness of the story. Yes, it was sad. How could it not be when dealing with the suicide of a young man? But it wasn’t quite  the tearjerker I expected.

This was such a unique look at one man’s life and the people he left behind. Jamie left behind two men who mourned him – his best friend Matt and his fiance Darian – two very different men. They have never met (in fact Matt doesn’t even know of Darian) who come together in their grief.

Through reading Jamie’s journals, we come to understand some of what lead to him taking his life and a lot about his feelings for Matt and Darian, both men whom he loved.

Sometimes sweet, lots of times sad, this story is quite emotional. I also loved the way we see the different POV of Matt and Darian….

“I didn’t expect to fall in love in the aftermath of life-shattering sorrow, but I met Darien and my heart could not resist his warm lips and beautiful brown eyes.
Matt swept into my life like a hurricane on AMP, and suddenly I was freefalling…away from the paralyzing anguish of my loss and into the warm shelter of unexpected tenderness.”

There is no happy ending – this is a Bittersweet title – maybe the possibility of a tentative happy-in-the-future for Matt and Darian? Luckily book 2, The Costs of Living, is available to continue the story.

“The morning holds what comes next.”
“Will this all fade into nothing?”

❅❅❅❅❅❅❅

The Cost of Loving (Unconditional Love, #2)The Cost of Loving by Wade Kelly

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The blurb…

Matt Dixon, a young firefighter, is the golden child of his family, and he never dreamed that coming out would challenge more than the way his church sees him.

For years, Matt has led a double life hoping to avoid ridicule. When a self-righteous pastor’s statements provoke him to defend his recently deceased best friend’s honor and subsequently out himself, he suffers the brutal aftermath of his revelation. Everyone in his life, including his family and his new lover, Darian, must deal with the ramifications as Matt struggles to come to terms with guilt, shame, and his very belief in God.

Darian Weston lost his fiancé when Jamie took his life, and his feelings for Matt added guilt to his burden of grief. Confused and lonely, Darian clings to Matt despite his inner strife. But small-town realities keep intruding, and if Matt and Darian hope to make a life together, they must first take a stand for what they believe in, even if they fear the cost.

So what did I think?

The Cost of Loving is the follow up book to the Bittersweet title, When Love Is Not Enough. It was not the book I was expecting but was a wonderful emotional journey.

This is the continuation of Matt and Darian’s story which really focuses on the struggles they both face as they continue to deal with the aftermath of Jamie’s suicide and the evolution of their new relationship.

For Matt, it is a story of coming out and dealing with the resultant backlash from his family, his work colleagues and his church. While he struggles with the loss of his best friend and his job and comes to terms with the way his life is now, he also has to support Darian through his own struggles.

Darian faces the dark depths of depression with far reaching ramifications. He is haunted by Jamie and turns to drugs, self harm and tremendous amounts of sex to help him forget his pain.

I found this story at times very dark but at times so hopeful. It is a story dealing with passion, guilt, depression, loss, bigotry, sacrifice and love. Perfect for when you need a good emotional read.

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 To find out more about Wade Kelly and her books visit her website.

Buy the books from Amazon.