Hi, and thanks for stopping by on the massive Bluewater Bay Virtual Book Tour. And thanks to our host for having me! My name is L.B. Gregg and I write m/m contemporary romantic comedies. This week, the second book in Riptide’s multi author series Bluewater Bay is my very own contribution—There’s Something About Ari.
Some of my favorite romance novels of all time are second chance stories when characters meet as children or teenagers and years later, after overcoming some necessary drama, they find happily ever after. In There’s Something About Ari, at age seven, Buck Ellis falls in love with Ari Valentine. He might not know what love is exactly, but he’s smart enough to see that Ari Valentine is someone special. Confident, fun, exciting, and adventurous, Ari’s friendship becomes the light guiding Buck through loneliness and grief. Buck knows that they’re meant to be together.
Of course, it’s a romance novel, so things are never easy!
I invite you to read the opening scene in There’s Something About Ari.
Ari said, “I’m in Mr. Bennett’s room.”
“Me, too.” Mr. Bennett might sit Ari next to me, because I modeled good behavior. That’s what all the teachers said. “Why are you wearing the yellow Power Ranger? That one’s a girl.”
“Yellow’s my favorite color. I don’t care if it’s a girl’s shirt. I like girls. They’re okay. I really like your shirt.” I was wearing a blue Cub Scout shirt, like all the other boys in my class, and the fabric pulled across my chest. “Are you in Scouts?”
I nodded. “We don’t do much, yet. We’re supposed to go camping. That’s why I joined. My mom just had a baby and she can’t take me camping anymore.” I didn’t mention the thing about my dad being sick, because it made my stomach hurt and I’d eaten a lot of candy. I didn’t want to puke in front of the other kids.
Ari twisted on the swing. “Can I come too? To Scouts? And camping? I could go with you. We can be friends, if you want. I like you. We can go together.”
I like you.
Those three words pierced the loneliness and chased away my shyness. I pictured the two of us walking into the Scouts meeting room, side by side. Sharing a tent on the sleepover. Eating marshmallows and reading comic books. Shooting rockets in the backyard like my dad used to do. A friend.
Hope curled inside my belly, and it soothed the hunger that Skittles never eased. I gripped the metal chain with one hand; the other, I wiped on my clean school pants. I held my palm above my head, waiting until Ari beamed and slapped me up high with a solid thwack.
Best high five ever.
That’s the day I fell in love with Ari Valentine.
When not working from her home in the rolling hills of Northwestern Connecticut, author L.B. Gregg can be spotted in coffee shops from Berlin to Singapore to Panama–sipping lattes and writing sweet, hot, often funny, stories about men who love men. www.lbgregg.com
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