Please welcome Alice Archer with
Headstrong Ruben Harper has yet to meet an obstacle he can’t convert to a speed bump. He’s used to getting what he wants from girls, but when he develops a fascination for a man, his wooing skills require an upgrade. After months of persuasion, he scores a dinner date with Henry Normand that morphs into an intense weekend. The unexpected depth of their connection scares Ruben into fleeing.
Shy, cautious Henry, Ruben’s former high school history teacher, suspects he needs a wake-up call, and Ruben appears to be his siren. But when Ruben bolts, Henry is left struggling to find closure. Inspired by his conversations with Ruben, Henry begins to write articles about the memories stored in everyday objects. The articles seduce Ruben with details from their weekend together and trigger feelings too strong to avoid. As Henry’s snowballing fame takes him out of town and further out of touch, Ruben stretches to close the gaps that separate them.
Seduced by the Genre
Reasons for reading and writing in the genre of M/M romance continue to beguile me, as they have from the beginning. I started reading in this genre simply because I enjoyed the way the stories made me feel, including how they made me feel better about myself somehow. Understanding why they make me feel better has become not only a fun pastime, but an ongoing adventure in self-awareness.
An obvious reason M/M romance stories inspire me is because the characters often set an example of having the courage to stand up and be true to themselves. Yes, other types of stories in other genres, including het romance, offer this, too, but M/M love stories cut to the quick of the matter for me. In part, they affect me (a straight woman) so strongly because their characters often exemplify a particular type of courage that I can’t seem to get enough role models for: public self-acceptance of aspects that others deride – such as non-straight sexual orientations, uncommon looks and ways of dressing, and anything else that’s not strictly “normal.”
I was teased a lot as a kid about my looks, and although I’ve come a long way since then with accepting myself, those piercing remembered experiences can get in the way sometimes. It’s one thing to feel great about the way I look when I’m home alone. It’s another to take my full, true, real self, in all my glory, out into the world. That’s when role models come to the rescue and I draw strength from the stories I’ve read and written. They help me practice increasing levels of self-acceptance for aspects that others have derided.
If you met me, you’d probably think I look like a normal person, but I’m not talking about physical attributes here as much as I am about the scars we carry inside and the injustice we do to ourselves when we take on others’ opinions of us. It’s not always safe or the best choice or the right time to proclaim who we truly are, but when it is – or when we’re forced to – isn’t it great to have inspiring stories tucked away in our psyches to remind us of the many benefits of self-acceptance, even when it’s difficult?
Every M/M romance I read that includes a storyline or an element of standing up in public (even if the “public” is only one other person) to claim the truth about oneself makes me stronger and more able to do the same around people who judge me or have unrealistic expectations about how I should be.
This issue of public self-acceptance is only one of the reasons M/M romance stories have captured me. There are other reasons, and the list continues to grow. As it does, so do I.In the following excerpt from Everyday History, which takes place in the first quarter of the book, Ruben challenges Henry to think differently about the way he looks.
Everyday History Excerpt
Henry’s smile is out tonight, wide enough to crinkle the edges of his bright eyes and expose his crooked bottom teeth. The dark fabric of the goofy hat with the ear flaps frames and draws attention to his creamy skin and the pink flush on his cheeks. He exudes friendliness and kindness. “You know, I would hit on you if I saw you sitting here,” he says.
“You certainly would not.” Henry shifts in his chair, disbelief twisting his face.
“Yeah. Actually I think I would.”
“Stop looking at me like that,” Henry says.
“Like what? Like I find you hot?”
Ruben doesn’t stop.
“Want to hear more about my internship?” asks Ruben. “It was quite exciting. You’ll like it.”
“Sure. But only if you stop looking at me like that, because if you don’t, I’m going to have to jump you right here. And I’m famished so I was kind of hoping to have some dinner first.”
Ruben slides a hand onto Henry’s thigh underneath the table. Henry stills it and laces their fingers together to stop Ruben’s hand from sliding between his thighs.
“Tell me the story,” Henry says.
“Hmm…. Okay. Right away I noticed your crooked teeth.” Henry presses his lips together. “And what I thought of as your mousy look—bald head, glasses, ears sticking out. Well, I wrote you off as no competition.” Ruben laughs at the horrified expression on Henry’s face. “Stop it, Henry,” he says. “You already know where this story is headed.”
“Yeah. But you’ve just described me as I see myself, so I’m curious to see how the story gets from there to here.” Henry squeezes Ruben’s hand under the table.
“It might be time to update your mirror.”
“We’ll see about that.”
“Henry.” Ruben bumps his shoulder against Henry’s and looks at him for a long moment. “There are lots of ways to be attractive. I think you know by now how your particular brand of attractiveness really works for me.”
Henry nods, and his face relaxes.
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Meet the author:
Alice Archer has messed about with words professionally for many years as an editor and writing coach. After living in more than eighty places and cobbling together a portable lifestyle, she has lots of story material to sort through. It has reassured her to discover that even though culture and beliefs can get people into a peck of trouble when they’re falling in love, the human heart beats the same in any language. She currently lives near Nashville. Maybe this move will stick.
Promotional post. Materials provided by the author.