Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Blogtour: Relationship Material by Jenya Keefe

Please welcome Jenya Keefe with 

Relationship Material 

Hi, I'm Jenya Keefe. Welcome to my blog tour! I've been writing for my own pleasure for too many years to count, and now my first novel is being published by Riptide Publishing! It's called Relationship Material, and I'm delighted to talk with you about it.

Relationship Material is about a guy who had a terrible childhood and suffered a violent assault when he was a teenager. He suffers from PTSD and chronic anxiety, and though he functions well enough in society, he doesn't feel worthy of the love offered him. It's about Portland, the love of a good dog, learning to be brave, and being open to joy.


It's not always possible to meet in the middle.

Registered nurse Evan Doyle doesn’t consider himself fit for more than occasional hookups. He has a good life, but the emotional aftermath of a horrific crime makes him feel too damaged to date. So when his sister’s hot bestie, Malcolm Umbertini, comes on to him, he turns him down flat. Mal is Relationship Material: the kind who thinks in the long term. What would Evan do with a man like that?

As a prosecuting attorney, Mal’s learned how to read people, and he knows there’s more to Evan than meets the eye. Mal has faced his own hardships since his family kicked him out as a teen, and he respects Evan’s courage and emotional resilience. More than that, he wants Evan—in his bed and in his life. But can he weather another rejection?

Both wary, they agree to a no-strings fling. Mal knows that Evan wants things to stay casual, but he’s falling in love a little more with each encounter. With health, happiness, and bruised hearts on the line, Mal and Evan must risk everything for love.

Get the book:


The first version of Relationship Material was a suspense novel. There was a whole plot about how Nez, the man who had hurt Evan when he was a teenager, was out of prison, stalking him. The plot culminates in an explosive fight. 

This plot didn't actually work very well - the romance got sidelined in favor of the suspense subplot, which was by far the weaker part of the novel. So I reworked the whole thing without it. In the real Relationship Material, Nez is still in prison, and there will be no bloody climactic confrontation.

I loved writing that fight scene, though. It was so much fun. And it was so hard to cut.

So here it is: the excerpted fight between Nez and Mal, which does not appear in Relationship Material, and does not make any sense for the story that Relationship Material eventually became. 

The man was coming closer: dark, unshaven, fortyish, easily Mal's height of six-two but bigger, barrel-chested. Blisteringly scary emotional intensity radiated out of him like heat waves. Methamphetamine teeth and prison tattoos. The one on his neck was a blur of gothic letters. More words in black ink across his knuckles. 
Mal fisted his hands, his heart thumping. He had never been in a physical fight in his life. No siblings to roughhouse with, no interest in martial arts. Even his preferred form of exercise – swimming – involved no physical contact with other people, did nothing to prepare him for any kind of altercation. The closest he'd ever come to fighting was rough sex – and he didn't really like rough sex.
"I followed you from town," said the guy. "I've been watching you. Is this his house? Did you fuck him?"
Yikes. "Don't know what you're talking about," said Mal, cursing himself for not being more careful. 
"You're full of shit," said the man, stepping onto the porch. 
Stall for time. Give Evan time to wake up, call the cops, get out of the house.
"Get off my property or you'll be sorry," he said.
The man's fist snapped up into Mal's face. Bones crunched. Pain exploded through his face and right through the back of his head. Mal fell back against the door with a crash.
 The man grabbed him by the shirt, yanked him forward and then slammed him back, causing Mal's head to whipcrack against the door and making (surely, please God) enough noise to wake the dead. Then he braced a meaty forearm across Mal's throat, leaning in. Mal wrapped his hands around that leaning arm, eyes closed, struggling for breath through an open mouth, blood pouring over his lips and chin.
"Did. You. Touch. Him," the man demanded, a furious growl, his eyes glowing with crazy. His breath was foul. Mal shook his head. The man eased up on his throat a little.
Think. Mal was terrified, in pain, barely able to breathe. Think. 
He cracked his eyes open. Through a blur of pain-tears, he saw. The mad eyes. The gray stumps of teeth. The neck tattoo: in gothic letters, it read ALEX. The tattoos on his knuckles said STAY TRUE.
"Nez, right?" Mal said. "No. I didn't touch him. No way, Nez."
Nez delivered another punch, this one a hard left to Mal's abdomen, and Mal went down on the floorboards of the porch again, gagging and gasping for air. Nez was on top of him, a hand around Mal's throat. "Liar," screamed Nez. "Are you the one who kissed him? Are you fucking him?"
Jesus, he could die here. Mal tried to imagine sixteen-year-old Evan fighting this guy off. He struggled but he was hopelessly outmatched. At this point the best he could hope to do would be to physically block the door with his body.
No. He had a brain. He could stall. He did battle every day with words. 
"Nez," Mal gasped, "listen. Listen." Nez gave him a little breathing room and Mal babbled, "Alex is not here. I'm watching his place for him. He's out of town. I'm here alone."
"You touched him?" demanded Nez, single-minded in his fixation.
"Not my type," said Mal.
Apparently he was not convincing. "I will fucking kill you," snarled Nez, pulling back a tattooed fist for another punch. 
"No," cried Mal, "No, he told me no. He told me he belonged to you. No, listen, Nez. He didn't betray you. Don't, Nez. He told me no." 
Did he see the beginning of hesitation in Nez's wild eyes?
"Don't be mad at him," said Mal, as soothingly as he could through a mouthful of blood. "He waited for you. All this time. I am the one who kissed him." God, how did he know that? "But he told me no. He waited for you."
Nez stared at him for a long moment. Mal stared back, his whole body starting to shiver with adrenaline and pain. Nez had more tattoos, a quincunx of dots at the corner of one eye, something on his chest, peeping out of the collar of his t-shirt. Mal tried to focus on the blurry blue-black message of Nez's knuckles. 
"He waited for me?" said Nez, uncertainly.
"Of course he did," said Mal. Dear God, the bitterness rising up in his throat. He forced it down. "You know Alex. He said nobody could take care of him the way you did. He said he was yours. All these years. He's been waiting for you to call since you got out. You should call him. Ask him to meet you somewhere. He will, you know. He's not here. I have his number. You should call him."
Nez stared at him. Mal was trembling as he babbled, his teeth almost chattering with stress and fear, but he met Nez's gaze, willing him to believe. 
"He's not here?" Nez repeated, slowly.
Listen to what I am telling you, you idiot. "He's not here," said Mal, putting every ounce of conviction into his voice. "Nez. He's not here. He never let me touch him. You can call him and ask him."
"Oh, I'm going to ask him," Nez assured him, menacingly. "Whoring little cunt. I'll fucking ask him. But first, I'm going to take care of you."
Mal threw a desperate punch – the first of his life – at Nez's face. It hurt his hand and made Nez mad. 
The next few minutes were a blur of pain and terror, but he tried to fight. He shouted, lashed out with hands and feet, even managed to land a blow or two, and surely made enough noise to alert whatever neighbors might be within five miles.
He left plenty of DNA on the porch. Maybe not all of it was his. But in the end, he was still clinging to consciousness and struggling to breathe, bleeding, icy cold and powerless. Nez did something to bind his wrists, and then began dragging him across the gravel towards his car.

About the author:

Jenya Keefe was born in the South. She has an advanced degree in European history, and has spent much of her life working the kinds of jobs a history degree qualifies you for: gift shop employee, lumber grader, classifieds clerk, hot glass artist. She currently lives in the Seattle area, where she works at a library. She has always written stories.

Pre-order Jenya’s next release, The Musician and the Monster, coming September 30th from Riptide Publishing!

Website | Twitter


To celebrate this release, Jenya is giving away a $15 gift card to Powell’s City of Books! Powell’s is an independent bookseller located in Portland, the setting for Relationship Material. Those not in Portland can shop online. Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on August 10, 2019. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following along, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

Promotional post. Materials provided by the publisher.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing the deleted scene!
    humhumbum AT yahoo DOT com


Hey, thanks for reading this post. We hope you liked it. Please share your thoughts - we always enjoy hearing from readers.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...