Today is day two of a double play of featured authors, and I get the great honor of highlighting A. M. Leibowitz’s new release, Minuet, book four of the Notes from Boston series. Best of all, 1) Amy has shared a unique post with us today and 2) there’s a giveaway involved so make certain you read everything (like you need the encouragement).
Publisher: Supposed Crimes
Release Date: Sunday, September 1 2019
Format: Paperback, eBook
Genre: LGBTQ Romance/ Contemporary Lit.
Word Count: ~93k
Cover Artist: Brett Kessler
Keywords/Categories: LGBTQ, polyamory, aromantic, transgender man, bisexual, pansexual, triad, ménage, fat character, addiction, series, series finale
Is This Part of a Series?: Yes
Series Title: Notes from Boston
Position (Number) in Series: Fourth
Necessary to Read Previous Books: No, But It Doesn’t Hurt
Other Books in Series Available for Review?: Yes
Other Books in Series:
1 – Anthem
2 – Nightsong
3 – Drumbeat
Warnings: There is no graphic description of anything, but there are themes of addiction/recovery/relapse, gender dysphoria, family violence, adultery, and body image
Book Blurb: When it comes to love, Mack Whitman prefers to limit it to writing songs and poetry. Aromantic, he’s content to have quality friendships and people who sometimes also share his bed. He’s never considered himself the jealous type. But when he sees everyone in his life, from his best friends to his occasional partners, moving toward more settled lives, it leaves him frustrated, disappointed, and worried he’ll be left behind.
Amelia Roberts doesn’t care about the genders of her partners as long as she follows her one rule: Don’t ever fall in love. It’s worked out well for her, since that’s a line she knows she’ll never cross with Mack. He’s as happy as she is to keep things as they are. The only trouble with her philosophy is that she didn’t count on meeting the one person who might change her mind.
Jomari O’Brien’s supportive family made it smooth for him to transition several years ago. Since then, he’s been in and out of love, and other people’s beds, plenty of times, and he has no regrets. Each one is a small part of a larger symphony. Becoming involved with two people at once is a more complicated harmony, but it’s one he’s willing to learn as long as they are.
Their individual melodies become discordant as they struggle to make them fit together. But if all three can learn to play with each other instead of against, they may yet hit all the right notes.
Series Blurb: When Trevor, Nate, Jamie, and Mack moved in together, they had no idea how it would change their lives. Four roommates. Four stories about living and loving in the City on a Hill.
Non-Exclusive Excerpt: They paid for the groceries and headed for Mack’s van. Once they’d loaded it up, Mack went to start the van, but Trevor put a hand on his arm.
“I’m not letting you go home without talking about what the hell that was back there. You were really pissed off when you came to see me. You’re calm now, but if you go back home, you’re gonna get right back into that mess all over again.”
He was right, and Mack knew it. He turned over the engine. “Look, it’s freezing out here. I’ll drive you back, and I’ll explain on the way.”
Mack waited until they were out on the road to say, “It’s fucking weird, having both of them together. It’s not like it hasn’t happened before, but not like this. I don’t know. It felt like they were doing this bonding thing, and I wasn’t part of that.”
“I get it,” Trevor said.
“Do you? Because your family looks different.”
“What is it you wanted? To have Amelia to yourself? You’ve said she’s not your girlfriend. So why does it matter?”
“I don’t know!” But he did know. He had a very clear idea why it bothered him so much. Mack slammed his palm against the steering wheel. “She and I…we’re both fucking Jomari. We all know, but we’ve never hung out just the three of us.”
Trevor seemed to contemplate that. “Yeah, I’d say that’s different from my family. It really bothers you, huh?”
“Not that. It’s…” Mack didn’t know how to explain the way he’d seen the tender gestures between Amelia and Jomari. Sure, she would do the same for him, but it didn’t look or feel identical for some reason Mack couldn’t pinpoint. “I guess they’ve been getting to be closer since she started playing with Cian’s band.”
“Makes sense. Spending more time together. But you think there’s more going on?”
“I don’t know,” Mack admitted. “Up until now, I wouldn’t have thought so. She always said she was mostly into women. She doesn’t date men, and she made that clear to me. I didn’t care. But now here she is, and I can’t really tell what’s going on. She’s already cancelled plans with me so they could go out.”
“Ah.” Trevor was quiet a moment. “People change, you know. Until Andre, I thought I only loved Marlie and the couple times I fooled around with guys were, like, just sex. Then after Andre, I thought maybe Marlie was my exception and I mostly wanted guys. Now I’m not sure, but it doesn’t matter because this works for us. Jamie’s only into men, but I know he’s fucked women on camera and enjoyed it. He said Cian can’t separate love and sex, he’s got a high drive for both, and he doesn’t care about gender at all. Maybe Amelia’s needs have changed.”
It wasn’t only about whether or not her relationship with Jomari was changing. It was why. Why now, after years of things being the same? What made him different from everyone else? Mack hated the feeling she’d finally had enough and was choosing someone who might be able to give her what he couldn’t. But why would she have told him their kind of relationship was enough if it wasn’t? She knew who he was and that he made no apology for it. Was it like Trevor said, and she was changing, or had she been dishonest?
“Listen,” Trevor said as they pulled into his driveway. “Why don’t you invite Jomari for Thanksgiving?”
“It might be easier if it’s not the three of you having to figure this out alone, that’s all.” Trevor unbuckled, but he didn’t move. “Talk to them. The only way I made it work with Andre and Marlie is by telling them both the truth. And the only way I didn’t fuck it up with Jamie was by telling them I needed him in my life too.” He curled his fingers into a fist. “If only we could work that out.”
Mack didn’t reply. Jamie was still a sore spot for both of them. He helped Trevor unload the groceries and put things away. They had some time for him to think about inviting Jomari, but he wasn’t sure he was going to.
“Thanks for your help,” Trevor said. “Hey, you feeling better?”
“Maybe.” Mack accepted the Night Crawlers from Trevor. “I should get these to the others.”
Back in the van, Mack looked at the package on the passenger seat. For once, Trevor was right, but tonight he didn’t have the right words. Instead, he would bring the sour gummies as a peace offering and sit with them this time, even if it meant he had to watch confusing science fiction shows. He pulled out onto the road and headed for home.
Exclusive Content: Evolution of the Notes from Boston series
Notes from Boston began years ago as a short story about a reality-style show featuring a famous (heterosexual) pop singer with a big secret. Yes, really.
I don’t remember what made me set it aside other than being sidetracked with writing an actual novel. That one got published while poor Trevor languished in the Reject Drawer.
Series fiction was as popular then as now. Since I wasn’t actively writing a sequel (or prequel) for my existing novels at the time, I promised my publisher a brand-new series. To spark my creativity, I went back to the Reject Drawer and resurrected Trevor in a new form.
This time, he was a Christian pop singer who had written a song about a hot encounter with a stranger. His boss inadvertently takes it for the next big worship song and takes it public, causing a domino effect. (This was my way of poking fun at how sensual, and specifically homoerotic, a lot of popular praise & worship music is.)
I gave Trevor three roommates, all of whom factor into the mess created by Trevor’s not-really-about-Jesus song. My kids suggested setting it in Boston, a city my family knows well and loves. Music is an important source of inspiration for me, and I wanted to write about it. Originally, the roommates were supposed to be bandmates, but it didn’t fit. I intended them to form their own band, which can be evidenced in how I created the characters (a pianist, a singer, a drummer, and a guitarist). That didn’t work either, but I did retain their primary instruments.
This, too, evolved. I didn’t have the entire series outlined, but when I conceived romantic partners for them, I wanted music to be integral to the relationships. While the exact nature of this changed as the stories progressed, I did manage to keep that structure.
A plan was hatched. The series had a name, and I already had individual novel titles and a basic format. I even had covers done. I would write one gay/MM romance novel for each, as this is basically what I was doing at the time. Naturally, I’d make my MCs bisexual, since that’s my thing.
Let me tell you, my characters had other ideas.
In the first book, Trevor was meant to break up with his girlfriend and end up with Handsome Stranger, the subject of his song. That happened, more or less. Except Trevor wasn’t content with that. It was obvious he genuinely loved the woman he’d been with since their teen years in church youth group. I couldn’t split them up. Nor could I leave out the man he’d come to cherish.
Enter the three of them working through a polyamorous relationship. Didn’t see that one coming. But hey, I rolled with it.
I managed to stick to more traditional one-on-one romance in book 2. Still my own style, and still with complications. But Nate, roommate number 2, got his HEA. Great!
In book 3, I tried, I really did. But the MCs once again showed me that love can bloom in all sorts of ways, and sometimes one person can’t meet all your needs. Jamie, roommate number 3, made his wishes clear. Thus was born a different type of polyamorous relationship from the one Trevor had with his partners.
And now we’ve arrived at the last part, which ended up being both the trickiest and yet somehow the most conventional in terms of the romance aspect. The first thing that cropped up was that I hadn’t written any of the rest of the series in a woman’s POV, despite Trevor having a girlfriend. The second was that I’d established another one of the MCs (in my notes, I don’t think on page yet) as trans. And finally, Mack, roommate number 4, was definitely established as aromantic. They all wanted a story, but how in the world was I going to make everything work without sounding like an Issue of the Week story?
Fortunately, everyone pitched in. I had loose ends to tie up, and here was a chance to break up the band. (Literally—the running joke that Mack’s band is awful comes to a head.) The chosen family in the series lent a hand to help Mack and his partners work out a kind of relationship that satisfied everyone. And of course, I let the entire crew ride off into the sunset. Just how I did that, I will leave up to readers to discover.
I never set out to write about different kinds of polyamory. I’m in a monogamous relationship myself, though I’m open to whatever works for a given situation. I do have many friends who are polyamorous, though, and there is quite a variety in how that looks for them. I drew on that knowledge while writing, and fortunately, plenty of them were willing to tell me their stories. People tend to open up when they sense genuine interest and a non-judgmental approach.
I believe this series is complete as it is. There are probably some stories that could be written about side and minor characters who have appeared throughout. I may write them someday; who knows? For now, I’m moving on to other projects.
So there it is. A story that went from a silly reality-show concept to a story about four musicians ended up as a series about what different kinds of relationships can look like. It’s been a wild ride, but I’m glad my characters pulled me along for it.
Author Bio: A.M. Leibowitz is a queer spouse, parent, feminist, and book-lover falling somewhere on the Geek-Nerd Spectrum. They keep warm through the long, cold western New York winters by writing about life, relationships, hope, and happy-for-now endings. Their published fiction includes several novels as well as a number of short works, and their stories have been included in multiple anthologies. They are an occasional host for Bi+Plus, a podcast for the bi+ community, as well as doing bi+ advocacy work and curating the best-of bi list on the QueerBooksForTeens website. They are a social media contributor for Supposed Crimes, LLC, and they post about news, reviews, and updates. In between, they blog coffee-fueled, quirky commentary on faith, culture, books, chronic illness, and their family.
A.M. is giving away a $10 Amazon gift card AND the first three books in the series in eBook format as a single prize. For a chance to win, enter via Rafflecopter HERE.