Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Out of the Shade by S.A. McAuley Blog Tour

The hardest battle is the fight to be yourself...

Jesse Solomona has always tried to be the perfect straight guy—a cocky sports fan capable of drinking more than he did in his fraternity days and an expert at one-night stands. That he hooks up with just as many men as he does women is a secret Jesse's been hiding for years, fearful of losing his family and tight group of friends. He's a Kensington boy—a group of guys that grew up in the same neighborhood and somehow all ended up back in their hometown. They, and his family, are the only things that still matter in his otherwise soul-sucking life.

Chuck Dunn, a tattooed and pierced sports photographer, has refused to step back into the closet since he was disowned by his family, but he keeps choosing men who can't fully be with him. Finally free from a long-term relationship he should've ended years ago, he quits his high-profile gig in favor of getting back to the art of sports photography—documenting a local boxing club that works with at-risk teenagers. He may not have the same swagger anymore, but he's working to be happy with who he is.

When Chuck joins one of the Kensington boys' community center sports leagues, Jesse's self-imposed rules are systematically demolished. But there's one barrier Jesse can't find the strength to break through—coming out to the other Kensington boys. Chuck knows hooking up with Jesse is a bad idea. Falling for him even worse. But he can't stay away.

Chuck is damaged by his past. Jesse is frightened about his future. But, together, they may just be able to come out of the shade.

Reader Advisory: Out of the Shade is a standalone novel with an HEA that carries the following warnings--alcoholism, mentions of sexual and physical abuse, mentions of drug addiction, mentions of rape, attempted suicide by a minor character, violence, homophobia, closeting.

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Jesse downed the dregs of his coffee and draped an arm over the back of the booth. “How long you gone for?”

“What? You want to see me again?”

“Maybe.” Definitely.

“About three weeks, depending on how fast I can work. Give me your phone.”

Jesse lifted an eyebrow but entered the passcode and slid it over to Chuck.

“The factory stock background? Really, Jesse?”

Jesse shrugged. “Can’t offend anyone with that.”

Chuck shook his head and tapped on Jesse’s screen. A split-second later Chuck’s cell pinged. Chuck moved over to his own phone and typed something out, pushing Jesse’s cell back toward him at the same time.

Just as Jesse picked it up, a text popped up in a new thread with a number that wasn’t in his contacts—Kiss my ass, beast

Jesse smirked.

Chuck sat back, waving a hand across the table. “There. You have my digits and I have yours. Call me, maybe?”

“You didn’t.”

That one dimple was in full effect when Chuck smiled this time. “I did. Gay, remember? Now walk me to my truck.”

Chuck swiped the bill before Jesse could and went up to pay instead of waiting for the server.

Jesse hesitated at the side of Chuck’s truck, wondering whether Chuck would try to kiss him, but Chuck just threw a lop-sided grin at him and said, “I’ll see you.” Then he opened his door, settled in, and drove off with one last wave as he pulled out of the parking lot.

Jesse stood there, stunned.

Chuck had just given him the same brush-off that he’d given to more girls than he wanted to count.

Shit. This was what that felt like?

Call me, maybe?

Fuck it. No better time than the present. Jesse dug in his pocket for his phone. He saved the number from his text thread and hit the button to call. Chuck picked up on the first ring. “Miss me already?”

Jesse could picture Chuck driving, his phone cradled to his ear, that sideways grin plastered to his face. “Three weeks, huh?”

“Yeah. Give or take.”

He wanted to say, text me when your flight lands. But how fucking needy was that? Instead he said, “Just making sure you didn’t give me a fake number.”

“I’m not into games, Jesse. I’ll text you when I get into New York. Call me when you have time.”

“Okay,” he replied, surprised at the relief that was evident in his voice.

Three weeks.

His cock ached at the thought, but his chest hurt even worse.

It had only taken one night for Chuck to burrow under his skin.


This was not how he’d expected the night to end at all.

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

S.A. McAuley is a new-to-me author.

I need to preface this spoiler-free review by stating there are three triggering plot devices within Out of the Shade. The highs and lows of alcohol addiction, as well as the aftermath of recovery. The second is domestic abuse, dealing with Jesse's sister, which is also another real-life trigger for me. As for the third plot point, I won't mention that, as it would spoil the reading experience. However, if you are concerned, I'm positive other more comprehensive reviews will state it. Basically, this book had the trifecta of craptastic bad events that happened to me all rolled into one.

To be honest, I struggled with the writing style, flow of information, and voice of both the author and the characters at the start of the novel. I was in editor-mode, where my eye picks up things I wish it wouldn't, making reading enjoyment most difficult. This is on me. I will say, the vibe changed from the beginning portion, where it felt as if there wasn't much romantic tension nor connection, because it became physical too quickly. However, this did shift to add a plethora of emotional depth as the novel progressed. So those who are struggling for the first quarter, the novel does become more... just more. If you read as I do, this portion of the review is simply to state that I'm glad I continued to read, even after struggling.

There was also a vibe that this was a continuation from another series – I have no idea if it is or isn't. Many relationships are hit upon, a quick rundown of what occurred, making me feel as if I was missing their books. But that may have just been me, seeing as this had a very large cast of characters.

Jesse is conflicted on his sexuality. Conflicted as to whether or not his chosen family of friends and loved ones would accept him as he is. The in-the-closet plot device, added with the very real fear of coming out, were the cause of the majority of the angst, conflict, and strife, added in with the alcoholism which was strengthened by said fear and shame.

Jesse was hard to read, as he was highly emotionally immature for his chronological age. Stunted to behave as if he were a late teenager. Jesse's behavior was difficult to swallow, some of his actions were quite triggering for me to read, where I had to step back and take a break. I will say, I appreciated the authenticity of his character development.

Chuck was definitely the more mature of the two, but he was also cynical and closed off, not only to Jesse, but to the reader. While I enjoyed what was on the surface, since Chuck didn't reveal much of himself, this meant I too didn't know much about him. It was easier to connect to Jesse, as the reader, than it was to Chuck, even with the atrocious behavior.

After the initial portion, the novel proceeded to be more slow-burn, weaving a more realistic relationship, as Jesse evolved in all aspects of his life.

After struggling at the start, I am glad I soldiered forth, because I truly did enjoy the novel, was rooting for Jesse and Chuck, while curious about many of the side characters. My emotions ran the gamut.

I do recommend Out of the Shade to MM romance fans, and I look forward to reading more by this author in the future.

Author S.A. McAuley is a wandering LGBTQ author who sleeps little and reads a lot. Happiest in a foreign country. Twitchy when not mentally in motion. Her name is Sam, not Sammy, definitely not Samantha. She’s a dark/cynical/jaded person, but hides that darkness well behind her obsession(s) with shiny objects.

Connect with S.A.

Twitter  ~  Instagram  ~  Website  ~  Goodreads

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Out of the Shade by S.A. McAuley to read and review for this tour.

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