Today at my blog, I have author Amanda Meuwissen in the interview chair. We are talking about five of her romance books previously released. I’m also reviewing Coming up for Air, a m/m romance. Don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway.
1. Hi, Amanda. First off, readers have an idea of the writer you, but what about the everyday you? Can you share about your personal life?
Amanda: I just hit my golden anniversary to my husband this year, 12 years of marriage on July 12th, and we are the proud parents of a furry baby, Helga Von Puff-n-Stuff, who is also 12. We got her the week of our honeymoon. I have a day job as a marketing manager for a company that provides marketing software for auto dealers, where I’ve worked for over a decade, and I live in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota. I love my neighborhood because I can walk anywhere I need to go – Target, grocery store, liquor store, my doctor’s office, etc. – which is important since I don’t drive. I’ve never gotten a driver’s licence and never plan to. When not working or writing, I play videos games, Dungeons & Dragons, and watch every possible genre of TV and movies, including anime and horror.
2. You are spotlighting five books for this tour. They are all m/m romance. What made you decide to write in this genre?
Amanda: It has been twenty years since I started writing M/M. I suddenly found that I connected with these male characters more than I ever did female ones and found my voice by telling their stories. It’s connected to my own gender identity and sexuality for sure, but simply put, they are the stories that resonate for me.
3. Let’s start with Coming Up for Air. Can you tell me what inspired you to write this book and where you got your ideas from? It’s very interesting—interesting enough to make me want to read and review this book.
Amanda: The book is dedicated to the person who first came up with the prompt as an image set on Tumblr, and I fell in love and asked to take that story idea and roll with it, which was the base idea of a thief being dropped into a river after crossing the wrong people only to be saved by a merman who follows him home. A fun and unique take on The Little Mermaid, going back to the roots of a more deadly and terrifying siren over friendlier merfolk – except for the MC, Tolly, who is a dear.
4. What about the main characters for Coming Up for Air. What do you love most about Leigh Hurley and what makes you want to shake him?
Amanda: You’ll notice I have a theme in many books with characters being thieves/criminals with hearts of gold, who aren’t really that bad and more like antiheroes. I love how Leigh takes himself for granted, needing to be shown how wonderful and worthwhile he is. But oh he is stubborn! Part of his stubbornness is to not take advantage of the sweet, virgin merman who rescued him, when he really wants to, which is very endearing, even though everyone will be yelling at him to just give poor Tolly what he wants.
5. The same goes for goes Tolomeo. What do you love most about him and what makes you want to shake him?
Amanda: He is just such a sweety, and a deadly package wrapped in an adorable façade makes for a very layered character. He’s part of a race of murderers, but he doesn’t want to hurt anyone. That doesn’t change how vicious he can be when necessary. I love that duality in him. His biggest problem is not being completely honest with Leigh, though part of that is magic preventing him from being honest, so it becomes very frustrating but more so pitying of Tolly’s situation.
6. Let’s move on to A Model Escort. Why write about a male escort? Where did the inspiration come from?
Amanda: I enjoy taking familiar tropes and turning them on their heads. In this case, you think it’s going to follow The Pretty Woman dynamic, but instead of hiring an escort for sex, Owen wants companionship, so the MCs grow a friendship before anything sexual happens between them. I also wanted to a take more positive take on sex workers that is often overlooked, villainized, or seen as something to escape because it’s low or dirty.
7. Let’s do a different take on Cal Mercer. What does he love most about escorting, and what does he loathe about it? Why did he choose to become an escort in the first place?
Amanda: Cal loves making others happy. He loves knowing he can give them something no one else can and thrives off the thrill of doing so and how good at it he is. What he hates is it doesn’t always fulfill him as much as he wishes, because he’s lonely, wanting a deeper connection with someone, especially as he’s getting older. He didn’t have the best childhood, never feeling like he could please his father, which definitely played a role in him pursuing escorting.
8. Why does a shy man like Owen Quinn decide to hire an escort for companionship? Where does he find the courage since he’s a total failure with anything on a sociable level (BTW, I adore that about Owen)?
Amanda: Owen has just moved to a new city, with no friends or family around, a new job, and he’s just coming off a long and emotionally abusive relationship. Diving into dating sounds terrifying to him, but he’s also lonely, so his sister’s idea to hire someone sounds like the best solution. The loneliness and anxiety is strong enough that he finally just snaps and contacts the agency. He certainly almost backs out multiple times.
9. What makes A Model Escort different from other male escort romances?
Amanda: Very sex worker positive, as mentioned, with a focus on the friendship, connection, and romance over time in the bedroom. This is my tamest novel, because it didn’t feel right to go as in depth with the sex after the soft, sweet setup, but I love it for that, because it makes this particular book unique among my others. It’s almost the Hallmark movie of my titles.
10. Moving on to Interpretive Hearts, how much research went into writing a character with a disability?
Amanda: Quite a bit, especially where it pertains to physical therapy. Luckily, I have a good friend who is a nurse, and I was able to grill her on a lot of my questions besides doing online research. I also had some previous background knowledge from research into characters with missing limbs/prosthetics from my YA novel, Life as a Teenage Vampire.
11. Where did the inspiration come from to write Interpretive Hearts?
Amanda: It came from a writing prompt, but it was simply: At the Beach. How I spun that into an aging dancer/choreographer dealing with hip surgery and falling for his young neighbor, I honestly don’t know, it just flowed into my brain like the tide. I love the idea too of a character trying really hard to push someone away and avoid them because they don’t want to deal with romance, but then they can’t seem to escape that person, because they are everywhere.
12. What do you love most about Teddy and what makes you want to shake him?
Amanda: I love Teddy’s grumpiness, while also being a big softy, seen especially through his relationship with Frankie, a young girl also getting PT because of a lost leg. His biggest problem though is allowing himself to open up to new experiences and people in his life. He wants to be a hermit, but he really wants connection and needs to finally admit that to himself.
13. The same for Finn. What do you love most about him and what makes you want to shake him?
Amanda: Finn is described as a ball of sunshine. He’s charming, while also fumbling at times, walking into hilarious foot-in-mouth syndrome. His problem is playing the happy side of him up too much and ignoring that he’s still hurting from years of being more aloof. He craves connection too, because he doesn’t feel like he’s ever truly found it, having a dark part to his past that makes connection difficult for him. He’s trying though, just like Teddy is trying with the physical and emotional side of things too, and that is commendable.
14. After Vertigo sounds very intriguing. Where did the inspiration come from? And what was your writing process like?
Amanda: I’m a huge comic book nerd, both on the DC and Marvel side. My favorite superhero is The Flash, and I loved the idea of making a speedy thief instead of a hero, and to let a person without powers be the standout superhero instead, facing insurmountable odds. I take this further by having Ben, the powerless MC, also having social anxiety. He needs the superfast thief he blackmails into helping him save the city to loosen him up, and Grey does everything he can to do just that.
15. If a reader asked you why they should read After Vertigo, what would you tell them?
Amanda: It’s frenemies to lovers, since Grey isn’t really a villain, just a snarky criminal, so if you enjoy that in any way, and have a fondness for superheroes, this is a unique and fun take, while letting the powerless person shine. There’s also a judgmental cat, many twists and turns, and an MC obsessed with romance novels.
16. Lovesick Gods plays on Greek mythology. How much research went into this novel to create a world of your own fictional gods?
Amanda: Research really only went into naming. These aren’t actually a version of Greek gods; they’re superheroes and villains with powers that allow them to name themselves after that mythology. The reason they chose Greek names is because they live in Olympus City, and the naming convention stuck after the first villain dubbed himself Thanatos. But I adore Greek mythology, so choosing the right names took some time, especially for Prometheus. His powers revolve around ice, so I loved the idea of him naming himself after the figure who stole fire from the gods.
17. You can only recommend one of your five novels for this blog tour to a reader. Which one would you recommend, and why?
Amanda: Lovesick Gods. It’s my favorite, but be warned, it isn’t a standalone but book one in a two-book series. It’s very visceral emotionally (and occasionally with the action/brutality). The superhero character in this title is acting very villainous by deciding to seduce and use his nemesis. And his nemesis isn’t the villain of the story but proves to be thoughtful and sweet and not that bad after all, as he slowly falls in love with his ill-intentioned hero. I love that twisted dynamic, and how they manage to find love despite all the odds against them. Unlike After Vertigo, this one is a true enemies to lovers story and covers some heavier topics, like bipolar depression and trauma.
17. Which novel of the five was your personal favourite to write, and why?
Amanda: Coming Up for Air. That story just flew out of me. Everything came so naturally, I don’t think I’ve ever written something so fluidly, where the ideas were always right at the tips of my fingers. Those characters knew their modern fairy tale and how everything was going to go.
18. What do you enjoy most about writing?
Amanda: Rereading what I wrote. I’m not afraid to say that I’m my own favorite author because I write what I want to read and enjoy every moment of getting to read each chapter as its finished.
19. What do you enjoy least about writing?
Amanda: Finding the time. Sometimes it can be frustrating when you want to just get it all out of you RIGHT NOW but can only dedicate a short time to writing each day.
21. I enjoy doing random questions, so humour me:
- What’s your favourite movie?
The Fifth Element
- What book is currently in your e-reader?
I don’t use an e-reader. I’m old school and always wait to have a paperback. So I’ve been paging through K.L. Hier’s Cold Hard Cash again in prep for the sequel that released on June 26, 2020 – Hard Earned Cash. That book will be next, now that the paperback is available as well.
- Who’s your favourite musical group?
I can’t choose a favorite, because I like a huge variety of music types – and honestly don’t know who sings what most of the time – so I’ll name a band that I’ve recently come to really love, and who I would have seen in concert earlier this year if 2020 had gone a little differently. Ice Nine Kills.
- What song puts a smile on your face?
You and Me, my husband and my song.
22. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Amanda: Just remember how important you as readers are for us authors. Every rating or comment left on Goodreads or Amazon has a profound effect on us, so take the time to leave them whenever a book truly moves you or even just makes you smile. It encourages us to write more that much faster.
Book Title: Coming Up for Air
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Tiferet Design
Length: 66736 words / 191 pages
Release Date: April 30, 2019
Genre/s: Romance / Gay / Paranormal / Urban Fantasy / Merman / Shifter / Crime / Mystery
Trope/s: not what he seems, thief with a heart of gold, friends to lovers, fated love
It’s not easy being someone’s fairy tale.
Blurb: Leigh Hurley is making a name for himself among thieves and criminals, even if it isn’t the life he would’ve chosen. He shouldn’t have screwed over the Moretti brothers, though. It landed him in the river with weights on his feet. But somehow he’s escaped certain death. The last thing he remembers before waking on the riverbank is a beautiful face and a soft kiss.
Then, Tolomeo turns up naked at Leigh’s apartment.
Tolly comes from a race of killers—merfolk who drown humans for fun. But Tolly is different, and when he sees a human in trouble, he offers a kiss, granting the man the ability to breathe underwater… and himself the ability to walk on land, at least until the next full moon. The ancient laws state that if he is given a vow of love by the one he kissed, he will be able to keep his legs. If not, he will be put to death when he returns to the water.
But love is not something Leigh offers easily… and Tolly has a secret of his own.
Note: It is a standalone story.
I read one m/m book about merfolk, so when the chance came my way to read another, of course I grabbed it. Since the blurb is available to read, I’ll get right to the review.
First, Leigh is in a deep funk. And I’m not talking about his problems with the Moretti brothers, either. When he’s in the water wearing cement shoes, there’s no panic, no fear…only regret. He gives a half-hearted attempt to save himself, but not 100%. Basically, he’s done with life. He knows he’s screwed up. So this sets up his character arc.
It’s almost as if he has a death wish because after he’s saved by Tolly, Leigh doesn’t try to hide, he doesn’t attempt to stay underground in case he’s found to be alive. He plain out doesn’t care. There’s no fight in him at all.
As for Tolly, this is a man who wants to live, and he’s willing to risk everything, even his life, to get what he wants. In a society that is built on killing humans, Tolly is different. He wants to find love, and he does in Leigh. The clock is ticking for Tolly, so he jumps into action right away to track down Leigh after saving him.
They are seeing life through different glasses, and it shows. It sets up the relationship arc for the story and how they’ll eventually help one another to become the person they truly want to be. This was executed wonderfully.
Although I did enjoy parts about the mafia, and the suspense, I did find that there were too many secondary characters interfering with what could have been a great development of the romance between Tolly and Leigh. Still, they had their times alone to cement their bond.
The setting was well done. The author painted me a wonderful picture of each place Tolly and Leigh encountered. I enjoyed the dialogue between the two, and how they engaged with the other characters. I also loved the peek into the merfolk world and its customs.
There was a great build-up for the money shot moment at the end. This was skillfully executed because once I hit that point, I couldn’t put the book down and had to find out how Leigh and Tolly would handle their reality.
This is a nice read. It’s not too heavy and not too light. It’s a book I recommend.
Book Title: A Model Escort
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Bree Archer; Design by Paul Richmond
Length: 60686 words / 225 pages
Release Date: March 5, 2019
Genre/s: Contemporary Romance / Gay
Trope/s: shy protagonist, pretty woman, friends to lovers, abusive ex,
male escort, May-December Romance
What’s the value of love?
Blurb: Shy data scientist Owen Quinn is brilliant at predictive models but clueless at romance. Fortunately, a new career allows him to start over hundreds of miles from the ex he would rather forget. But the opportunity might go to waste since this isn’t the kind of problem he knows how to solve. The truth is, he’s terrible at making the first move and wishes a connection didn’t have to revolve around sex.
Cal Mercer works for the Nick of Time Escort Service. He’s picky about his clients and has never accepted a regular who is looking for companionship over sex—but can the right client change his mind? And can real feelings develop while money is changing hands? Owen and Cal might get to the root of their true feelings… if their pasts don’t interfere.
Note: It is a standalone story.
Book Title: Interpretive Hearts
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Alexandria Corza
Length: 50692 words / 197 pages
Release Date: November 19, 2019
Genre/s: Contemporary Romance / Gay
Trope/s: friends to lovers, May-December Romance, living with disability, neighbors
Love is easy once you learn the steps.
Blurb: In the competitive world of dance, Teddy was a flawless performer and hardass choreographer who students feared and admired in equal measure. But hip surgery ended the glamour and drama, and now Teddy is recovering at his beach house, lost and listless.
Until he meets Finn, his neighbor, who is too perfect, gorgeous, and kind to exist—but very ill timed. In a seaside town as small as theirs, they can’t avoid each other, especially since Finn is also Teddy’s new physical therapist. But Teddy isn’t the man he used to be, and though Finn flirts shamelessly with him, Teddy can’t believe a has-been dancer is worthy of someone so young and full of life.
Finn’s sunny smile is also hiding heartache. Pursuing Teddy challenges both his professionalism and his self-preservation, but if he can convince Teddy to trust him, maybe they both can heal.
Note: This is a standalone story.
Book Title: After Vertigo
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Tiferet Design
Length: 66422 words / 194 pages
Release Date: December 10, 2019
Genre/s: Gay / Paranormal Romance / Science Fiction / Urban Fantasy / Superheroes
Trope/s: frenemies to lovers, social awkward protagonist, 40-year-old virgin,
antihero, save the world, thief with a heart of gold
Heroes aren’t born, they’re made – sometimes reluctantly.
Blurb: In a flash, the world changed. A solar flare—later dubbed Vertigo—activated the DNA of more than half the world’s people, granting them special abilities. Brilliant scientist Benjamin Krane might be Powerless, but his inventions are the only thing giving the police a fighting chance against super-powered evil. Ben doesn’t have much of a life beyond work, and when he gets wind of a robbery one evening, he decides to test his newest invention personally….
A thief, rogue, and shameless flirt, Grey Miller—aka the Streak—likes shiny things, but he doesn’t hurt people. When Ben catches him—and proposes they team up against the real bad guys—Grey doesn’t know whether it’s the offer or the man he can’t resist. But one thing’s for sure—they’re an ideal match in more ways than one.
With a psychotic supervillain’s catastrophic plan moving forward and everyone he cares about in danger, now might not be the best time for Ben to give in to Grey’s seduction, no matter how tempting. Grey is a man of secrets, and if Ben wants a future with him, he’ll have to learn to trust Grey—and himself.
Note: It is a standalone story.
Book Title: Lovesick Gods
Cover Artist: Mario Hernandez, Design by Veronika Dolnikova
Length: 106609 words / 313 pages
Release Date: October 1, 2017
Genre/s: Bisexual / Urban Fantasy / Dark Romance / Superheroes
Trope/s: enemies to lovers, corrupted hero, redeemable villain, living with bipolar disorder, thief with a heart of gold
Heroes aren’t meant to act like their villains—or fall in love with them.
Blurb: The elements touch everyone on Earth—Fire, Water, even Light—but every so often someone becomes more attuned to their elemental leaning and develops true power. When an evil Elemental known as Thanatos arrived in Olympus City, it saw the rise of its first hero—Zeus. But the death toll caused by defeating Thanatos changed Zeus, who by day is young detective Danny Grant.
It’s been six months since Thanatos terrorized the city at the start of Lovesick Gods. Danny should be used to his duty behind the mask, but the recent past haunts him. His girlfriend left him, he snaps at the barest provocation, his life feels empty—he needs an outlet, any outlet to pull him out of his depression.
Enter notorious thief Malcolm Cho, the Ice Elemental Prometheus. There was a time when Danny welcomed a fight with Cho, filled with colorful banter and casual flirtations that were a relief compared to Thanatos. Even as a criminal, Cho had recognized the threat Thanatos posed and promised to help Danny stop him, but the day Danny needed Cho, he never showed. Cho was the reason so many people died that day—including Danny’s mother.
Danny decides to teach the man a lesson and fan the fire of their attraction into something more. At worst, he’ll get some no-strings-attached sex out of the deal and finally blow off steam; at best, he’ll get Cho to fall in love with him and then break his heart to spite him.
Danny doesn’t expect to fall for Cho in the process, and he certainly can’t predict the much darker threat on the horizon.
Note: This is part 1 of a 2-part series.
Amanda Meuwissen is a bisexual and happily married 35-year-old geek. Primarily an M/M romance author with a focus on urban fantasy, she has a Bachelor of Arts in a personally designed Creative Writing major from St. Olaf College and is an avid consumer of fiction through film, prose, and video games. Amanda lives in Minneapolis, MN, with her husband, John, and their cat, Helga.
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