Today, I’m hosting author Amy-Alex Campbell and her latest release Beneath the Grandstand, a m/m contemporary romance. Be sure to check out my book review. And don’t forget to read the excerpt.
Book Title: Beneath the Grandstand
Author: Amy-Alex Campbell
Publisher: AAC Publishing Australia
Release Date: October 27, 2020
Genre: Australian M/M Romance
Trope/s: Friends to lovers, Security guard & homeless man
Themes: Homelessness, depression and anxiety, childhood abuse (non-sexual)
Heat Rating: 3-4 flames
Length: 75 000 words
How do you define two lost souls who are completely alone in the world except for each other?
Blurb: When Cameron’s failing relationship finally comes to an end, he finds himself on the streets of Sydney, homeless and alone. All he has left is a suitcase full of his clothes, and his job as a security guard. Battling severe depression and anxiety, Cameron fears he has hit rock bottom.
A chance meeting with a young homeless man soon changes everything, though. Abused as a child, the mysterious Mr Loner has a dark secret that threatens to unravel his very existence. Will Cameron get his happily ever after, or will Mr Loner’s past destroy them both?
Note: A confronting MM romance set in Western Sydney, Australia. The second installment of The Marsden Park Series.
The stench of BO and stale sweat hung in the air, thicker than the throng of people packed into the vestibule of the train. As the doors opened at Redfern station, the passengers took a collective gasp and squeezed in tighter together, as more people forced their way into the overcrowded space. Someone elbowed Cameron in his back, and shoved him nose-first into another man’s armpit; on his other side, he could feel someone’s dick grinding into his hip. Cameron grimaced and managed to turn his face away from the armpit. The day these people spend $3.95 on some deodorant, I’ll have a bloody stroke, he thought irritably.
With a jerk, the train started rolling slowly towards Central Station. Peak hour on any Sydney train was a nightmare, especially on one of the older trains that were overheated and stunk like dirty leather. Cameron berated himself for taking the 7am shift; it was Friday and supposed to be his day off. His last shift had finished at midnight, and with over an hour travel each way, he had been lucky to get three hours sleep.
The train pulled in at the station with a screech and another jerk. Cameron patted his arm to ensure his security license was still firmly in its pouch on his arm, then braced himself. As soon as the doors opened, he was swept with the crowd of commuters onto the platform, and into the tunnel towards the concourse.
Once he reached the concourse, the crowd thinned, and he was able to walk at his own pace again. There was a slight chill in the air; winter was just a few weeks away, and soon that chill would turn into an icy frost. Cameron shivered and walked faster towards the main exit.
He knew better than to even try to catch the light rail that early in the morning. He tapped his Opal card at the barriers, and cut through the park next to the station. It would be much faster to walk the distance, than try to squeeze onto another overheated sweatbox.
The park was full of brightly coloured tents, the only shelter that the homeless people had. Cameron felt bad for them; he himself was a bee’s dick away from being homeless, and the thought of living on the streets terrified him. With a lurch, he pushed the thoughts from his mind, and picked up his pace.
When I read the blurb, I was hooked. Australia. Check. Homelessness. Check. A young man of mystery also homeless. Check.
First, the two characters. I really liked Cameron. He suffered from anxiety and depression, was dealing with a not-very-kind ex who didn’t care he was throwing Cameron out to the streets, but Cameron was determined to begin anew. I liked his determindness. Some might have given up, but he didn’t. He also shows compassion and empathy for the homeless. He works as a security guard, yet doesn’t treat the people who hang around the place he’s guarding as less than human. Yes, he does his job, and he does it well, but he’s also tolerant enough not to use his position to bully them.
Because he’s this way, he has a chance meeting with an enigmatic young homeless man named Dalcian. Through Cameron’s kindness, he wins Dalcian’s trust. As for Dalcian, because of the abuse he’s suffered, he’s soft-spoken, shy, and weary. But he has faith, and he hasn’t given up on trusting others, either, because he begins to let his guard down for Cameron.
As for the setting, this was done nicely. I enjoyed being taken all over Australia, catching a glimpse of the east coast, the west coast, and even the outback.
For the pacing, it moved slowly, but it was a nice slow. The novel had to move at this pace to bring to life the budding relationship between Cameron and Dalcian. This was wonderfully executed. There was some unnecessary “filler” where my eyes did glaze over, but not enough to make me put the book down.
The plot was well done. It starts out as contemporary but then shifts to romantic suspense. It did jolt me for a second, this turn-about, but I found myself really enjoying the last part of the book.
I found the ending a little too happy LOL, but that’s just me. I would have settled for a nice quiet finish, but the author gives readers a big cheerful closing for Cameron and Dalcian.
This is a nice slow read at the beginning that moves into fast-paced suspense towards the ending.
It’s a wonderful m/m romance I recommend.
Amy-Alex Campbell is a queer Australian author who grew up near Bendigo, Victoria.
While epic fantasy is her genre, Campbell also writes M/M romance. In contrast to her fantasy series, the Marsden Park series is written in ‘Australian’.
When Amy-Alex isn’t writing, she is either adding lore and blogs to her website, or caring for her yabbie and two axolotls.