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When characters don’t die as planned… The Rodeo Knight
Hello, this is Ashavan Doyon and I’m so happy to be here at Open Skye Book Reviews to talk to you about The Rodeo Knight, the second edition of The King’s Mate, and the anthology collection, The Chess Master Chronicles.
That’s a lot coming out all at once isn’t it! I’ve spent a lot of time talking about The King’s Mate on some of the other blog tour stops, so for this blog entry, I’m going to focus on The Rodeo Knight.
I love this story. I’m going to talk a little about it and the characters, but I’m also going to talk a bit about what it wasn’t. See, when I went to the Dreamspinner Author workshop, I sorta knew I wanted to pitch the third story for the Sam’s Café Romances. It made sense, it was an established story, The King’s Mate had some reasonable sales, and there was a direction to the story.
In The King’s Mate we meet Russ and witness the beginning of his romance.
In A Wounded Promise we see that romance tested as the two lovers live together.
Of course, I had a plan for the sequel. I went down with a story in mind to pitch. And, in the course of sessions about what sequels should be and should not be, my idea died a painful slow death.
You see, book 3 was supposed to be about Sam’s death and how that affected the characters at the height of their happiness. It was meant to be a heart attack on the eve of the wedding. Hard working Sam, of course, with Justin otherwise occupied, would be working too many hours. Justin would blame himself, as would Russ. Their difficulties in grief would throw doubt on their romance, on their commitment, on their ability to comfort. They would need to rediscover their paths, and Justin, in particular, would need to decide whether to work to keep the café open or go to art school, with the separation that would mean for the couple.
It was a heart-wrenching painful story concept, with a lot of angst and beautiful sad moments. It’s the kind of story I write very well. It’s not, of course, what I wrote.
So now that you know what the story isn’t….
I still throw a wrench in the works for Russ, but book 3 is not the story of Russ or Justin. They had their happy ending. But book 3 is the final piece of The Chess Master Chronicles, and it tells the story of the two chess masters: Russ and his husband Brian, a grandmaster. We’ve seen Russ’s story. Book 3 is Brian’s story.
Wait. Isn’t Brian supposed to be dead?
Yeah, yeah. You’ve been following this blog tour right? If so, you know that Brian had total retrograde amnesia. It’s thanks to his brother Brandon that he finally gets some confirmation that he’s been lied to, that he had another life, and goes in search of it.
Of course, it’s too late. He arrives in town and finds Sam’s Café only to get the news that Russ is on his honeymoon. It’s in the aftermath of getting that news that he first meets Sylvester. We get a hint of that in the blurb, but here’s a chunk of the actual meeting from the story in an exclusive excerpt:
Spring in New England didn’t mean warmth. The chill felt bitter despite the improvement over the snow blanket of pure winter. Sylvester breathed in and then out, focusing on the warm misty trail of his breath. It was almost like smoking, but not. No matter how bad it might be for him, he ached for that burning intake of heat, to exhale a bit of real smoke. It calmed him. It always had.
He settled against the wall to the far side, a place he could lean in case his leg acted up. He could feel the eyes on him. That wasn’t new. He tipped the brim of his hat down, putting his eyes in shadow, and wrapped his arms around his chest. The bells at the door of the café chimed. Sylvester looked away. The deep, ragged breaths spoke of upset and someone who did not want attention. He could appreciate that feeling.
The breathing was almost a sob. Then there was the rolling grind of someone striking a lighter. A calm as someone sucked in breath and then exhaled slow. The familiar smell just set Sylvester’s craving higher.
He might have resisted for a minute, perhaps two, before he broke down. “Don’t suppose you have a smoke?” Sylvester asked, his eyes pointedly down.
There was a hesitation and Sylvester almost backed away. But then the familiar shape of a pack was offered. He smiled and looked up. The man’s eyes were bloodshot and tears welled in the corners. But they were also beautiful, a stunning brown full of warmth and intensity. Sylvester tapped the edge of the pack and pulled out the cigarette, then held it to his lips and fished in his pockets for a lighter, but the man was faster, holding up a flame as Sylvester sucked to get the flame started. The familiar burn settled, and he breathed out slowly.
The man was still staring at him.
“Thanks.” Sylvester held the pack out, and the man’s hand brushed his. It was cold, but warm at the same time, the touch soft, as though the man had never worked a day in his life. Sylvester looked up and their eyes met again. Tears welled slowly before they escaped and trailed down the man’s cheeks, the speckled darkness of five-o’clock shadow a fierce contrast to pale skin. The hand was still against his. A flush filled Sylvester’s cheeks as he let the pack go. Tears hadn’t kept the man’s eyes from opening wider, his lips from spreading, just slightly. Dear God, stop looking at those lips or he’ll know what you’re thinking!
I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into the story. The Rodeo Knight releases on November 30, along with the second edition of book 1 The King’s Mate, and a print only anthology edition of the first three books of the Sam’s Café Romances — The Chess Master Chronicles. See you at the next stop (December 2, My Fiction Nook).
For fifteen years, Ashavan Doyon worked with students in the student affairs office of a liberal arts college. He recently decided to shake things up a little, and is now working in the publications and communications office at the college. During lunch, evenings, and when he can escape the grasp of his husband on weekends, he writes, pounding out words day after day in hopes that his ancient typewriter-trained fingers won’t break the glass on his tablet computer. Ashavan is an avid science fiction and fantasy fan and prefers to write while listening to music that fits the mood of his current story. He has no children, but lavishes attention on his sole remaining fur child, a very elderly pug. A Texan by birth, he currently lives in New England, and frequently complains of the weather.
Ashavan went to school at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, getting his degree in Russian and East European Studies, with a focus in language and literature. He has two incomplete manuscripts from college that he goes back compulsively to fiddle with every so often, but is still not happy with either of them. He still loves fantasy and science fiction and reads constantly in the moments between writing stories.
You can find me online at:
Sam’s Café Romances: Book One
Russell Pine comes to Sam’s Café every morning to enjoy the best coffee in town and to chat with Sam Tesh, the owner, a loyal friend for the past twenty years. When Sam offers him a challenge, Russ reluctantly takes it on, acting as the master opponent in a chess tournament. As the days pass and the hopefuls fall to the chess mastermind one by one, Russ discovers that the contest isn’t the only game being played.
Russ finds himself the focus of a secret courtship through words and pictures left for him to discover each morning. Will a hint of cologne on the paper lead him to his admirer? In a café full of young and beautiful minds, who is looking at the graying chess master?
First Edition published by Dreamspinner Press, June 2013.
The King’s Mate (Dreamspinner): https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/the-kings-mate-by-ashavan-doyon-7831-b
The King’s Mate (Amazon):
The Chess Master Chronicles (Dreamspinner)
Sam’s Cafe Romances books 1-3, print only:
Sam’s Café Romances: Book Three
Struck by amnesia after a car crash, Brian Stouten has been living a life laid out by his family, a heterosexual life that just doesn’t fit. When he learns it was all a lie, he returns to the small college town that’s his only clue to his past. But the town is still unfamiliar, and the man he’d hoped would make all his memories return is on a honeymoon with another man. To add insult to injury, everyone thinks Brian died in the crash. It’s only when an out-of-place cowboy asks to bum a smoke that Brian realizes this trip was meant to be.
Sylvester Thomas has always fought a secret desire, and done it successfully. But when geeky Brian offers him a smoke and a light, a simple brush of hands has Sylvester’s hidden passions burning deep. Did he make a mistake letting Brian walk away?
The Rodeo Knight (Dreamspinner): https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/the-rodeo-knight-by-ashavan-doyon-7832-b
The Rodeo Knight (Amazon):
The Chess Master Chronicles (Dreamspinner)
Sam’s Cafe Romances books 1-3, print only: