By DJ Jamison
Hello! I’m stopping by to share the release of a new Hearts and Health book, ORDERLY AFFAIR.
My latest novel is the story of Ian, a hospital orderly who begins to explore his long-suppressed bisexuality with a cute but geeky lab technician. As a man divorced two years ago and the father of a teenage son, Ian is behind the curve on taking his sexual journey.
Both the main characters in Orderly Affair work as medical support staff, rather than as the doctors who typically get top billing in television and books, but I think they’re just as important in the real world.
So, in honor of my working-class characters, I thought I’d do an homage to the “unsung hero” of M/M romance and put together a few book recommendations. Please chime in on the comments with your favorite unsung heroes!
I’ve also brought an excerpt from Orderly Affair and a giveaway, so keep reading to check those out!
UNSUNG HEROES OF M/M ROMANCE
THE PLUMBER’S MATE SERIES, by JL MERROW: A highly regarded series featuring a snarky plumber. This guy has a sixth sense that gets him pulled into investigation.
FAMILY MAN by Heidi Cullinan and Marie Sexton. I know, I know, I just recommended a book with a plumber. But this plumber is more of an everyday guy, who’s a little late with his sexual epiphany, much like my character Ian in Orderly Affair. Plus, it’s a fantastic read!
ASYLUM by ROBERT WINTER: An undocumented immigrant works as a dishwasher after fleeing his country, where his life is in danger. He meets a man who helps him seek asylum and falls in love, but he has trauma to overcome in his journey.
HANDYMAN by CLAIRE THOMPSON: A handyman and a high-powered stock trader try to find common ground.
THE TROLL WHISPERER: At the bottom of the unsung pile is Oscar, a sewage plant worker. Oscar is almost as vile as his job, trolling people on the Internet for fun. However, when he inadvertently trolls his cute, sweet neighbor, his life begins to change.
Ian Connolly stepped into the janitor’s closet on the ground floor of Ashe Medical Center, returning the rolling mop and bucket to its corner. He’d just returned from a cleanup job in the emergency room. Food poisoning was nasty business.
Being an orderly was a lot more than cleanup, but that was an unavoidable part of the job description and one he considered just as important as using his muscle to help the nurses lift patients or (more rarely) restrain someone hysterical because of pain, grief, or drugs. Not to mention the collection of other tasks he performed, from changing bedpans to delivering patients for x-rays.
But as the door clicked shut behind him, Ian’s thoughts weren’t on the cleanup he’d performed in the ER. Or the tang of chemicals that always hung in the air in the storage closet filled with cleaning supplies. Instead, his mind went directly to the scene that met him in this cramped space three weeks ago.
His skin flushed as the image rose in his mind: two men, one on his knees with his mouth around the other’s cock. That he recognized both the men — Dr. Eric Holtz and Dr. Casper Rollins — only served to make the memory more erotic.
Now, he couldn’t even step into the supply closet without getting half-hard at the memory, which was kind of a problem because he was in and out of the closet several times a day.
Well, the janitor’s closet. The other one …
Ian was still figuring things out. Thirty-seven years old wasn’t too late to find yourself, right? Better late than never.
He pulled out his phone, seeking a distraction from uncomfortably sexy thoughts. His eye caught on Thrust, the hookup app he’d installed three weeks ago. The fact he’d installed it and several others the same day he walked in on that man-on-man action was total coincidence.
Yeah, he couldn’t even convince himself of that one.
The app was similar to Grindr — at least, he assumed it was; he’d never used Grindr — and it seemed to have more users in the Midwest region than some did. That was a plus, but he didn’t kid himself. Ashe, Kansas, was still unlikely to have a whole lot of Thrust activity. Thrust activity. The thought alone sent his pulse racing.
Ian had set up a profile, but he’d been too skittish to explore the app any further.
He was just now coming to accept this side of his sexuality. He’d taken the easy road in high school, dating girls and suppressing his crush on the lead male singer in his garage band. He’d married his high school sweetheart, and in retrospect, he might have rushed into marriage to avoid dealing with the other side of himself. The side that appreciated a hard, male body. The side of himself that couldn’t resist checking out the bulge in a guy’s jeans or the stretch of denim over his ass.
He tapped the stylized T, looking over his shoulder nervously even though he was alone in a closet. He snorted. Alone in the closet. My life is a fucking metaphor.
Ian checked the time. He had a break starting, so no one should need him. Perfect time to explore the app. He clicked a few buttons, and finally got the courage to look for nearby app users. He searched close to home first, though he’d probably have to expand to Wichita, a much larger city about 45 minutes’ drive away, to find someone.
Gotta find your balls first. Stop being such a damn chicken.
Heart in his throat, Ian clicked on the map showing users online. There were four including him. That meant three users within a thirty-mile radius. A limited pool, but a larger one than he’d expected.
One user was across town, somewhere near the old strip mall that was deteriorating but still did a brisk business at its dollar store. Another was at the high school. Geez, he hoped an underage student wasn’t on this app. But it was the third Thrust user who sent his heart into arrhythmia.
He’s in the building.
Ian stared at the profile pic of a guy who was right now in this very hospital. He didn’t know precisely where, only that when he clicked on the dot, it indicated the user was 300 feet from him.
He tapped on the profile for IonicCal.
Ian frowned, unsure what the name meant. Was it a typo? Maybe it was supposed to be IronicCal? He wasn’t sure he would be into someone so ironic they felt the need to put it in their name. In his experience, people say they’re ironic when they mean mean-spirited.
The profile picture caught his attention before he could write off the guy and go back to work. It wasn’t the typical abs or dick pic, but it didn’t show the man’s face. IonicCal’s torso was twisted, as if he was looking back over his shoulder. The shot showed his collar bones, pronounced enough Ian knew he must be slim. One side of the guy’s chest was revealed, but the nipple remained hidden by a slender but toned bicep and forearm.
Ian’s dick hardened, which was ridiculous because he couldn’t even see anything revealing in the pic. But that only served to make it more tantalizing. He could see bits of flesh but not the pieces he wanted.
He forced his eyes from the picture and skimmed the profile details, which were unsurprisingly vague. Age: 26, Orientation: G (for gay, Ian assumed; the app catered to men of other sexual identities or orientations, too). IonicCal had noted his hobbies as dancing, swimming, and stargazing. Ian hadn’t danced since his wedding nineteen years ago, but he could get behind swimming, especially if he got to see IonicCal in a swimsuit.
Ian skimmed the rest of the guy’s profile. He was hopelessly out of touch with pop culture, so the list of favorite bands meant nothing to him, but he recognized some of IonicCal’s favorite TV/movies: Star Wars, Star Trek, Dr. Who, comic book movies. There seemed to be a theme there. Ian scrolled down to read the last few lines, where IonicCal was asked to explain what he was looking for out of a meet-up.
I’m cool with just having fun, but I’m not opposed to a relationship with the right guy. Let’s form an ionic bond with our attraction, and we’ll go from there. Consider that fair warning: I’m a science nerd and proud of it.
Well, at least ionic wasn’t a typo. A quick Google search explained that an ionic bond was formed from electrostatic attraction between oppositely charged ions. He guessed Cal was attempting a play at the concept of opposites attract.
Ian’s own message had been far less creative: Bi guy looking to explore with a considerate partner.
His phone pinged with a message, startling him.
IonicCal: Your body is impressive, if it’s really your chest and abs in that pic
Ian stared at the message, initially panicked that someone had tried to talk to him, especially someone so close by. Oh God, I don’t know what to say. How to flirt. What am I doing?
Then he re-read the message and got over himself. Ian got on the app to meet someone. This was his chance to engage with another man, even if it was via messaging, and he didn’t want to chicken out now.
He tapped out an answer, which took far too long on the tiny keys with his big fingers.
BigBiGuy: Hell yes it’s me
IonicCal: Likely story
BigBiGuy: It is!
IonicCal: Maybe you should prove it ;)
IonicCal: Meet me in the third-floor bathroom on the east end of the hospital. I see you’re in the same building.
Ian’s heart hammered in his chest. Everything was happening too fast. But he typed his response before he could overthink it.
BigBiGuy: Be there in 5.
Length: 75,000 words approx.
Hearts and Health Series
When Ian Connolly installs a hookup app to explore his long-suppressed attraction to men, he doesn't expect to connect with anyone he knows, especially not lab tech Callum Price. But from their first scorching encounter, he's hooked.
Callum hasn't had the best luck with love, and he's suffocating under a pile of responsibilities. But when he sees an opportunity to blow off steam with Ian, he takes it. The man is smoking hot, big all over, and sweet as pie.
Their chemistry is off the charts, but a relationship is more challenging. Callum remains stubbornly self-reliant, while Ian tries too hard to be his rock. But if Ian can be honest with his family about loving a man, maybe Callum can admit his own truth: He wants a man he can count on, a man just like Ian.
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