THE PASSION STROLL...
a blog by author Ashavan Doyon
I've been busy. American Pride. The Tendire Gate. The Byte of Betrayal. I didn't stop with those. Most of my catalog has been rereleased at this point, including all four volumes of the College Rose Romances.
Loving Aidan was the first book I ever had accepted by a publisher, so the series that sprang from that story is particularly special to me. Every one of the main characters has been able to surprise me, though never, perhaps, as much as Steven in book 2.
But none was as difficult to write as Jim Puffton in book 5.
I've been promising this for what feels forever (and really is probably since 2018, which is still a really long time. People are going to start thinking I'm George R.R. Martin with these delays!). But it's here, releasing this Wednesday, July 26.
College Rose Romances Book 5
James Puffton knew this day would come. As a fallible young man, he’d made all the wrong choices. He’d cheated on his girlfriend with a guy. More than once. And he’d used her—a shield, keeping his perfect image safe. Now that she knew, Jim’s life turned upside down. Faith has always been Jim’s guide, but when it leads him to the most flamboyantly gay freshman he’s ever seen, he wonders if God is punishing him. He can’t deny his feelings, but when people find out, will Tyler be in danger?
Tyler Montgomery was terrified to come to campus. An incident last semester made clear the school wasn’t as safe as officials liked to pretend. When he passes out drunk after making a pass at a handsome young jock, he discovers that he was taken care of by school bully Jim Puffton. Tyler freaks, but Jim doesn’t push. He walks away. Then Jim does something profound that makes Tyler want to ignore all Jim’s terrifying history and trust him, sealing that trust with a kiss in front of everyone. But all Jim’s old friends are homophobic bullies. For Tyler, campus is suddenly a dangerous place to be.
It's not hard to tell that the College Rose Romances are my baby. College stories that draw deeply from my personal experience as a gay student, gay leader, and a part of a student college gay community for over a decade. When Torquere closed, it hit me hard.
I was lucky. I got my rights back. But now I had four books with no home.
Over the past year, with the creation of Purple Horn Press, each of those books has gone back online as an ebook available for purchase. From Loving Aidan—my first accepted piece of gay romance fiction, to Becoming Rory, the last of a series of romances that I hope has stirred the hearts of readers, the books are available again at last.
Now that all four are out, Purple Horn Press has started to release paperback versions. I'm over the moon, of course. The delays in the Becoming Rory paperback were my first personal sign that Torquere was failing. I spent much of the following two years certain that it would never come out in paperback. Now, I'm pleased to say, those fears have been quashed.
Why Becoming Rory first? Part of it is exactly that... my own fears about the paperback. But there are also many readers who invested in paperbacks from Torquere for the series and were never able to get that final book. This is for them. Even though I favor cream paper and matte covers, the paperback for Becoming Rory is a glossy 5 x 8 book that matches the size of the original Torquere paperbacks.
So What's Next?
Now that Becoming Rory is out and available, Purple Horn Press will be releasing the original three books in paperback releases. Loving Aidan in July, Steven's Heart in August, Andrew's Prayer in September.
By offering the books exclusively through Amazon, we're going to keep the price down to about ten bucks for each of those three books. Obviously most books we can't do that with, but this is a special case, with books that were previously released in paperback. By making the early books available at a very low cost, I hope some folks may be willing to get paperbacks who previously had not, some may complete their collection, and others may find the story an entry point to gay romance.
If all goes well, shortly after that we'll see the release of Forgiving James, College Rose Romances Book 5. I love redemption stories, so I'm really pleased to bring you that complicated story of love, faith, and conflict.
Pride month is hard. It's a good month in some ways. Several of my books were released in June: The King's Mate, The Byte of Betrayal, Becoming Rory. But it's also a time of struggle. Two years ago Orlando happened. While I'm heartened that the Parkland students have been able to affect change, it's sobering what that means... 49 lives meant very little when they were gay lives, minority lives—less than lives. I knew someone in Pulse that night. Someone who didn't walk out. And having grown up in an era when clubs like Pulse were everything, our very sense of community, it still strikes me hard in my soul.
So Pride month is hard.
But it's worth celebrating. So I'm celebrating love, and I'm celebrating PRIDE and I'm showcasing some of my favorite novellas that I wrote and published with Dreamspinner Press. I'd love to say there's a sale, but there's not—just good solid short fiction of the gay boy gets gay boy variety. Take a look.
Celebrate PRIDE. Celebrate love.
I get some flack sometimes for portraying parents harshly. Sometimes it's both parents, sometimes just one, but usually a character has someone in their family who just is not that supportive person that we all hope to have;; coming out.
Romances are fantasy, but when we write about a community there's a responsibility to be true to the heart. And part of that is that the relationship with parents, especially with coming out, is complex. There's a whole range of reactions, and that should be represented.
But on Mother's Day, really I want to look at a story where the mothers are front and center—which means looking at Andrew's Prayer.
I love this story because the women who shape Drew are really incredible examples of how important the relationship with a mom can be. It's curious, I think, that Andrew's Prayer starts with an outed Drew returning home, knowing his mom has found out that he's gay. The second paragraph of the story says this:
Coming home hadn’t been a difficult choice. Sure, it was over a thousand miles. Sure, it was going to be hot, sticky, and miserable. It was still home. His mom was the only person in his life who’d said “I love you” that he had believed. She’d even said it after she found out. She’d been in tears, she’d screamed. But she’d still said “I love you,” and Drew never doubted for a moment that she’d meant it.
Throughout the book, the relationship with his mom is so important, but Drew is established as a character who doesn't really believe in love. Except that he knows his mom loves him. He knows it so much that he goes home, knowing, expecting that she won't accept him.
But she's the one who immediately confronts him with what's important.
“What about love? Andy, my precious baby, what about finding someone to love you?”
Drew doesn't believe in love, but throughout the book it is his mom who is there to help him recognize it, to help him find it, and to push him, when he needs it.
Pick up Andrew's Prayer at Purple Horn Press or get it for kindle at Amazon.
Happy Mother's Day to all the mother's out there, and also to all gestational parents, whether they identify as mothers or not.
Looking for a great book but not in the mood for the mom dynamic? May 13 is the last day of Dreamspinner's In and Out of This World Sale... lots of great paranormal and contemporaries on sale. Which includes all of my books with them.
So, what is it like going to a meeting of an LGBTQ+ student group?
With a character like Rory, who has been thrust into a leadership role in one, this was a question I knew we'd see the answer to. Student organizations are often run haphazardly, with partial executive boards, missing officers, and on the drive of what can be only one or two dedicated people.
How do I know?
As a student, I was the political chair of the LBGA, the co-chair of the Disability Action Network, and served on the cabinet of the student government for a student body of 25000 people. I also spent fifteen years of my career in student affairs working with and advising students in exactly those roles.
Smooth operations among the student organizations exist, but usually only for a time, and often—so very often—the load eventually falls on a few.
In Becoming Rory we see Rory struggling in that role. Alone he is trying to pull together a community, and he's got a hard one to manage. Because the religious right can say all they want about the gay agenda... there isn't one gay community. And that's just the GAY community, when we're talking about the LGBTQ+ community. Doing it alone can't be easy. An organization like that should have at least two and probably three other people sharing that responsibility. At my school, the executive board was an eighteen person monstrosity... except that three people were holding down fourteen of those roles.
When I wrote the Queer Alliance meeting, I wanted it to feel right. From the fearless Cian showing up in a skirt to the terrified first year student Ian whose courage was all in just walking through the door, to bisexual Eric who expected showing up and talking about being bi to be easier than it turned out to be. I stood in Rory's shoes. I can't begin to think how many young men like Ian I talked to. How many like Bethany. I hope that it's gotten easier to make them less afraid when the fearless Cian characters walk through the door—they're totally based on a first year student I knew with perfect legs, who, yes, often showed up for meetings in a skirt. And just as often had to run to the meeting because they were chased (in heels) on the way.
They were heady places. Accepting and terrifying and hot... because they were the one place on campus where you might just make a connection. And while that part is less important now (because of the internet), I hope the community and the atmosphere still shines through.
Maybe a kid like Ian will read my story. Maybe they'll realize it doesn't have to be terrifying. And if they do, it'll all be worth it.
Rory Graeble returns to college determined to reinvent himself. Too many years have been wasted with masks, but becoming a student leader is a step Rory isn’t sure he’s ready for. A new identity takes more than just a new nickname, and Rory knows he has to take the chances that his old self would never risk. When that chance is a party that ends with an anonymous hot skater’s tongue down his throat and a phone number in his pocket, Rory knows what he has to do.
Danny Smits never expected to see stuffy lit geek Rory Graeble trying to be out, trying to be proud, trying to be… Rory. It’s damned sexy, and too much for the entrepreneurial skater to resist. When Rory calls him back the day after the party, Danny knows Rory has changed. But will Danny’s haunted past deter Rory? Or will Rory embrace the chance to experience everything the closet had stolen away? Danny believes in keeping things real, in a brutal honesty he knows means Rory will run screaming.
But this time Rory isn’t running.
Published by Purple Horn Press (only $3.99 until the end of April!)
Becoming Rory is also available from Amazon
Writer of the mysterious, fantastic, and the romantic. Sometimes sappy. Often angsty. Always searching for the sexy. Stories about men who love men.