Review: Behind the Stick


Behind the Stick by K. Evan Coles and Brigham Vaughn

Rating: 4 stars
Buy Link:
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Length: Novel (370 pages)

Luka is a hot, bulky, sweet guy who saves people’s lives for a living. He’s a bit of a mamma’s boy, but his respect for his mother his part of his charm. He doesn’t want to disappoint her, but feels horribly disappointed in the fact that his mother has issues with her son dating a white man.

Kyle is a bartender who has an on again off again booty call with his business partner/ex and his boyfriend. He’s got a bother he’s really close to, is very proud of his business, and is well put together.

Both of these guys are confident, and they know what they want. They are equals. I loved that about them. (Equal partners are very important to me.)

This is a character driven romance about these two guys coming together, finding ways to include each other in their busy lives, dealing with frustratingly prejudiced family members, and dealing with being attacked by gay bashers. If you’re looking for a story with a lot of external plot, this is probably not your story.

But if you’re looking for heart, this story has mountains of it.

First, I did not read the previous books to this series, and I think that was a detriment. There are a lot of characters, so many, in fact, that I lost track of who was who. I’m sure if I’d read the previous novels, I would have been more grounded. So, I focused on Kyle and Luka and their families.

Second, when I agreed to read and review this book, though the blurb did say MMMM menage, I did not think ‘oh this meant open relationships’. Smack myself in the head—that’s exactly what it meant. So… that was a sideswipe for me, because, I don’t like open relationship romances, and I would not have picked up this book if I had put two and two together. (so, I am surgically removing this part from my rating, but I wanted other readers to be aware of it in case that wasn’t their cup of tea.)

I like my love between romantic partners to be about the romance, not just the sex. So, one of the sex scenes felt very impersonal (the mmmm hook up) and didn’t really work for me. I found myself skimming them. Others, however, were spot on spicy!

The book really dove into the life of the characters, settling into the every day elements that define them. The emotional attachment the two men developed for each other and how they banded together against the adversarial world was the strength of this book.

I felt the book really gripped me once the characters were attacked (is that horrible, I want to say that’s kinda horrible). It was a faster paced read as they dealt with their own reactions and how such violence effected them personally and their relationship. My heart went out to these guys, because I just wanted them to be happy.

So, if you’re keen on character driven almost slice of life stories, with some emotional hurt/comfort and recovery, this is your book. If you dig open relationships and want to sink your teeth into an mmmm sex scene, this is most definitely your book.

Check out my interview with the authors on why they chose to write interracial romance! Author Interview with K. Evan Coles and Brigham Vaughn

Guest Post: K. Evan Coles and Brigham Vaughn, Authors of Behind the Stick

Interracial Romance

As a writer of interracial romance, I seek out books similar to those I write. When Behind the Stick crossed my path, I had to read it… immediately drawn in by the cover and the two guys who just looked so pleased with themselves, confident, and playful. I wanted to find out why Coles and Vaughn were drawn to write interracial romance and what it means to them, so I asked, and they delivered with an amazingly insightful blog post.

Behind the Stick Review by Nat Kennedy

Book Title: Behind the Stick, The Speakeasy #3
Author: K. Evan Coles and Brigham Vaughn

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Resetting Our Default

by K. Evan Coles and Brigham Vaughn

Fifty-two years ago, on June 17, 1967, the Supreme Court’s decision in Loving v. Virginia legalized interracial marriage in the United States.

Hard to believe that happened so recently, right? But Mildred and Richard Loving were indeed jailed for a year because their marriage crossed racial lines, something most people today find impossible to imagine.

We certainly have trouble imagining such a thing. Both our families include mixed-race families. In fact, one of us is the child of an interracial marriage made legal by Loving v. Virginia. So you’d think that if interracial relationships aren’t unusual in our real lives, it stands to reason they wouldn’t be unusual in our writing, too. Right?

The answer, like this topic, is complicated. We’ve been writing together for several years and all our early projects–including our first published books, Wake and Calm– centered around main characters who were Caucasian. Did we set out specifically to write romances between white men? No. We defaulted that way—literally made selections on automatic pilot—perhaps because we’d been reading characters like them for longer than we could remember. We didn’t entirely match up with our characters, but we’d had plenty of practice getting into their mindset.

Some of our secondary characters in Wake and Calm were not white, however, and we started talking about why they weren’t our mains. Those characters were just as interesting as our mains, not to mention basically waving at us in hopes we’d pick them up and do something with them. So, it wasn’t long before we knew we wanted to make a change.

After publishing Wake and Calm, we plotted out The Speakeasy, a new series featuring a cast of friends with a wide variety of personal histories and worldviews. And we decided before writing even one word that we wanted diversity in our books. We wanted to create romance among characters who better represented our families and ourselves, and the world around us. To reset our default where we could.

While we found plotting interracial romance easy, the writing was sometimes less so. That’s because we really wanted to get the characters and the ways they loved each other right. Behind the Stick, our third Speakeasy book, features Kyle and Luka, a mixed-race couple who don’t give a damn that their skin tones don’t match. Some members of Luka’s boisterous interracial family want him to steer clear of white boys like Kyle, though, which casts an unwanted shadow on Kyle and Luka’s growing feelings for one another. And it was twists like those that sometimes made writing Behind the Stick a daunting prospect.

We researched and talked as we wrote—endlessly so, at times—then crossed our fingers when we passed things off to our beta readers.

But despite the fretting, we’ve always been aware that the characters we’re writing are people, plain and simple. They deserve all the love and respect in the world and when we give it to them, they flourish. Watching them do so makes whatever complexities we encounter while writing more than worthwhile.

 

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About the Authors

K. Evan Coles

K. Evan Coles is a mother and tech pirate by day and a writer by night. She is a dreamer who, with a little hard work and a lot of good coffee, coaxes words out of her head and onto paper.

K. lives in the northeast United States, where she complains bitterly about the winters, but truly loves the region and its diverse, tenacious and deceptively compassionate people. You’ll usually find K. nerding out over books, movies and television with friends and family. She’s especially proud to be raising her son as part of a new generation of unabashed geeks.

K.’s books explore LGBTQ+ romance in contemporary settings.

 

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Brigham Vaughn

Brigham Vaughn is on the adventure of a lifetime as a full-time writer. She devours books at an alarming rate and hasn’t let her short arms and long torso stop her from doing yoga. She makes a killer key lime pie, hates green peppers, and loves wine tasting tours. A collector of vintage Nancy Drew books and green glassware, she enjoys poking around in antique shops and refinishing thrift store furniture. An avid photographer, she dreams of traveling the world and she can’t wait to discover everything else life has to offer her.

Her books range from short stories to novellas. They explore gay, bisexual, lesbian, and polyamorous romance in contemporary settings.

 

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A Personal Interview by Rita Chapman

I love doing interviews, asking and giving. It’s a way for me to talk about myself (which most people love to do) as well as talk to others, get them to share parts of themselves with their audience.

Rita Chapman, an author herself, asked me a few questions and I’d love to share them here with you! Go to her website (Rita Chapman’s Nat Kennedy Interview) to read the transcript there:

But I’ve snipped my favorite question here. Because it’s all about Pickle.

If you have owned pets, do you have a funny story you would like to share with us?

When I was young I used to raise sheep for 4-H. My first lamb was Pickle, and he was like a pet dog. He would follow me around, running after me as I rode my bike, baaing along, happy as could be. We would climb up this platform at the fairgrounds, and he would leap off. Leap! As in up into the air, not just jump down to the ground. He was known as Pickle the Flying Sheep by many of the locals.