A Steamy M/M Romance
Book Name: Taken Back
Series: (Taken Series, #1)
Release Date: July 27, 2016
Publisher: Tipsy Goat Press
Cover Artist: Cali MacKay
Pages or Words: 48000 words
Categories: M/M Romance, Fiction
Sometimes you need to go back to your past, in order to move on to your future.
Jax Hunter has spent the last ten years trying to forget his first love Nathan Steele—and the brutal betrayal that derailed everything he’d worked so hard for. Jax has finally gotten his life back together, when Nathan returns to deliver another blow – his company is set to bulldoze the bar he’s built from nothing.
Ever since that summer in high school, Nathan has been denying his feelings for Jax—the only person he’s ever loved. Nathan knows Jax might never forgive him, but when Nathan’s uncle is murdered and Nathan might be next on the hit-list, Jax is the only one he can turn to.
Jax still doesn’t trust Nathan—not with his bar, and for damn sure, not with his heart. But the more time they spend together, the harder it is to resist the undeniable passion between them. Can they overcome their past hurts and learn to trust each other again? Or will another betrayal tear them apart forever?
Today I’m pleased to welcome my friend, Cali Mackay, and her writing partner – and my new friend - Julie Farrell. Cali and I have known each other for a few years now, and I get to beta her traditional MF romances, but she and Julie are now branching into MM romance and boy what fun I had reading Taken Back (out 27th July 2016)! Cali’s American, a mum of two (not counting pets!) and married to an Irishman, and Julie comes from Good Old England, but is currently living in Spain in the sunshine. Let’s get to know them without further ado.
Roroblu’s Mum: Cali and Julie, thank you for agreeing to being grilled interviewed by yours truly. So, please tell us all about yourselves and how your writing collaboration started.
Cali and Julie: We first met online via a good friend and fellow romance writer, and clicked straight away. We’re part of a small group of writers that meets daily online, so we’ve gotten to know each other very well. We decided to start collaborating only in February of this year, and we’ve had so much fun working together, especially when we met up for a writers’ retreat in Maine. We laughed so much it hurt but were able to get lots of Taken Back written.
Roroblu’s Mum: And ladies, how easy was it going from writing MF to writing MM? And, why the change to MM? What do you consider the main writing differences…apart, obviously, from the down and dirty stuff?
Cali and Julie: Julie was actually already writing MM when she first met Cali, and she loves it. And Cali had done some erotica that involved MFF, MMF, and anything goes!
We both enjoy reading MM and figured it was a natural progression for our writing. The main differences are trying to wrangle all the masculine pronouns (he, his, him, etc.) without confusing the reader or sounding repetitive. Also, the tension and conflict is oftentimes coming from a different place, for example dealing with issues of homophobia in society.
Roroblu’s Mum: Julie, name 3 things you couldn’t live without, and 3 things you wish would just bog off and leave you alone.
Julie: Tea, yoga, and books are a must. Things I’d like to do without are sunburn, homophobia, and spiders.
Roroblu’s Mum: Cali, you also design your own book covers - what side of your book activities do you enjoy more – the writing or the book covers? If you weren’t writing and designing covers, what would your days consist of?
Cali: I love writing. That said, sometimes it’s fun to take a break and play around on Photoshop. As for career choices, if I wasn’t writing, I’d probably be working in some biotech lab.
Roroblu’s Mum: How long did it take you to plan and write Taken Back, and how did you write the tale with the Atlantic dividing you? Did you each write a character/a chapter/did one concentrate on dialogue and the other storyline? I mean, it’s a story set in the US, with US leads, written by a British author and an American one…
Cali and Julie: It only took four months to write, and planning was done over a very excited Skype call. At the beginning we each took a character and wrote their chapter (Cali wrote Jax, Julie wrote Nate). But when we were in Maine, we discovered that it was so much easier to write together, while sitting side-by-side, so we decided to use Skype and ‘share screen’ to emulate that experience. Which means we can write even faster!
Roroblu’s Mum: What do you do in your spare time? What’s your idea of the perfect day off?
Cali and Julie: Write other stories! ;) To be honest, we spend all day every day writing and dealing with other book stuff—but we love doing it. Although, Julie does manage to escape for yoga twice a week, and Cali’s family drags her out of the house from time to time.
Roroblu’s Mum: Ladies, where can fans meet you in 2016 and 2017?
Cali and Julie: Dublin, Ireland in October 2016, Mobile, AL in March 2017, and then Chester, UK in April 2017. Though we may still add other dates.
Roroblu’s Mum: I see that book 2, Taken Again (featuring Carter from Taken Back), is out in Autumn 2016 – can we have a bit of a teaser - a Divine exclusive - please? And, how many books are planned in the series?
Cali and Julie: Sure, here’s chapter one! We plan to write at least five books in this series.
A Divine Exclusive Excerpt from Book 2
It was almost as if the air in the bar shifted around me. Despite it being a packed Friday night, I immediately spotted him and my heart dropped, years of anger and betrayal surging through my soul. “Are you fucking kidding me? What the fuck are you doing here?”
I growled out the words, grabbing the baseball bat from behind the bar. I needed him gone. Needed him out of my life once and for all. Riding on a wave of fury, I stalked towards the guy who’d shattered my heart and abandoned me. I shoved Seth, my hands connecting hard with his muscular chest. “You fucking asshole. Get the fuck out of my bar.”
“Carter… just hear me out.” Seth did nothing to defend himself, an exhausted look of apology on his face, his soulful brown eyes pleading with me to listen. “Please… can we talk? This is important.”
“I don’t fucking care. You lost the right to my help when you chose your lies over me.” Emotions I had longed buried assaulted me, ripping open wounds that had never fully healed, even if I’d somehow mustered the strength to keep moving forward with my life, though he’d always haunted my thoughts, making it impossible to truly move on.
Before Seth could argue with me, Jackson was at my side, stepping between us and taking up my fight, though I was happy to deal with himself. “Sorry, but you need to take your ass out of here, before this gets ugly.”
“Honestly, I didn’t come here looking for trouble. I just need to talk to Carter—and it can’t wait.” Seth sounded rattled and desperate enough to have me wondering what the hell was going on, since he’d never been anything but cool and calm, unwilling to waiver from his rockstar image—not that I cared.
I put a hand on Jackson’s arm to let him know I was okay, and had this under control. If anyone was going to throw Seth out, it’d be me. “I’ve got this. He’s leaving The Goat—either under his own steam, or with my help.
” Jackson stepped aside, though he didn’t go far, nor did he take his eyes off Seth as I stepped forward and grabbed him by his worn leather jacket, and hauled towards the door, the patrons of The Goat all clearing the way. I ignored his pleas as I dragged him outside into the cold night and rid myself of him with a hard shove.
He spun to face me, still looking devastatingly handsome with his tousled dark hair, deep brown eyes, and new tats peeking from his T-shirt onto his neck. “Someone knows, Carter. Please… I’m not asking for a lot. I just need to talk to you.”
“Yeah, well, I’m fucking busy working for a living.” And just like that, I turned around and walked back into The Goat, leaving him on the sidewalk as he called my name.
Not that he was going anywhere.
At the end of the night, I found him leaning against my car, his long legs stretched out in front of him. I waved off Jackson and Nate, knowing they wouldn’t be happy that Seth was still lingering, and though they got in their car, they didn’t leave.
I shook my head and unlocked my car, pulling the door open. “You’re like a bad fucking penny, Seth.”
“For fuck’s sake… I just want to talk to you.” His London accent had yet to fade, despite his years of living in the States—and fuck, but it still made my cock go hard, even he was a bastard. “Just let me buy you a midnight breakfast. There’s got to be some twenty-four-hour place around here.
” I wanted to tell him to go fuck himself, but if it was related to his secret, then I’d be a real asshole if I walked away without at least hearing him out. “Get in the fucking car then. Pain in the ass.
” His expression relaxed with relief, as he climbed into my car, and I gave the boys a wave to let them know it was okay, so they wouldn’t be waiting around and worrying. I drove us out of town, towards the only diner still open this late at night. Tension hung in the air between us, our past issues too big to ignore, despite the years apart.
“I’m sorry, you know… I never meant to hurt you.” The sincerity in his voice caught me off guard, though it did little to temper my hurt and anger with him.
“Well that’s just fucking brilliant then. I guess that makes it all better.” I forced myself to focus on the road, my hands tight on the steering wheel as I gripped it to keep from throttling him. “Because you’re clearly here to apologize, rather than because you need something. Fucking manipulative bastard.”
“It’s not as if you’d accept my apology anyway, if I’d come here out of the blue—and you sure as shit don’t want to see me, so why would I have come here to stir things up other than because I need your help and my life is on the line.” He let an exasperated sigh and ran a rough hand through his hair, the action at once so familiar.
Ignoring him, I pulled into the parking lot and walked towards the diner, leaving him to follow, without so much as a glance in his direction. Because he might be in trouble, but he was still an asshole.
Of course, I should have known better than to go anywhere in public with him. We’d barely been shown to our table when heads began to turn in our direction, and a rumble of whispers started. I groaned, hating this, knowing exactly how it would play out, his adoring fans swarming him for autographs and pictures.
And I was in no fucking mood.
As Seth’s fans found the courage to approach him, I bit back my frustration, and waited it out, grateful that it was two in the morning and most his fans were in bed. And being the constant performer that he was, his mood shifted to a carefree smile that lit up his eyes with a sultry soulfulness that even I had a hard time ignoring, which was exactly why Seth Black was so fucking dangerous to be around.
To his credit, he did his best to wrap things up quickly, before turning back to me.
“Sorry about that. You know what it’s like.”
“Yeah… all too well, which is why you’re no longer in my life.” That wasn’t exactly the truth since we’d broken up for completely different reasons, but at the moment, I didn’t give a shit about the details. “What the fuck do you want, Seth? Because my patience with you was razor thin to begin with.”
His mood was now dead serious, and the genuine fear in his eyes was a rare thing, which only spoke to how dire things were for him. “Did you tell anyone?”
My rage returned at the implied accusation. “You’re a fucking asshole. How could you think I’d do something like that? I’m not the one who betrays people in this relationship—that honor is all yours.
” He pulled out a letter and slid it across the table at me. “Well, someone found out, and you’re the only other person who knows the truth.
” I opened the letter to a mostly blank page, with just a single line typed across it.
I know what you did at Clearwater Lake.
I could see why Seth was so freaked out now. “Is that it? They didn’t send anything else?
” Seth leaned forward across the table, keeping his voice to a whisper as I folded the paper back up again. “No… nothing. I don’t even know what they fucking want with me. I don’t know who they are… what they know... They’ve asked for no money, and the cops haven’t arrested me.”
“And you don’t have any clue as to who’s behind this?” Because by the looks of it, Seth was screwed.
“No… no clue at all. And that’s why I need your help. I’m begging you, if you ever felt anything for me, you won’t let me deal with this on my own.”
And yet, that was exactly what I was going to do.
Roroblu’s Mum: Do you read reviews of your books? If yes and it comes to your attention that a reader/reviewer didn’t get the ending he/she wanted from your book, how would that make you feel? Would it make you sad/irritated/a little dejected, or would you try to see through the comments and realise that you’ve touched a person’s life? Would it make you feel as if you had to write more, give readers what they want/need?
Cali and Julie: We both realize that you can’t make everyone happy, and different people want different things from a book. That said, if multiple reviewers say the same thing, then it’s something we’ll definitely look into and might consider changing. As for feeling sad or irritated, not at all. We’ve both been writing long enough to have pretty thick skin and not take reviews personally. When it comes to giving readers what they want, we definitely want them to be happy, but we also try to maintain a balance of telling the story that we want to tell.
Roroblu’s Mum: What’s your secret super power (well, not so secret once you answer this)? And what’s your Kryptonite?
Cali: Mine is both. It’s that I’m ADD, which helps me because I tend to have a lot of energy to get stuff done, but I also get easily distracted so I have a hard time focusing for any length of time on what I’m working on.
Julie: This isn’t my experience of Cali at all! I feel like she’s SO focused she’d have us working twenty-four hours a day, and I’d have to sneak out to go to the bathroom and grab some tea. ;) But this is obviously great for our working partnership.
Roroblu’s Mum: Do your friends and family know you write gay romance? Are you open about it, or is it a secret entrusted to a few? Have you encountered any incomprehension/questions/strange looks/disapproval/the third degree?
Cali and Julie: We’re both open about it. There’s nothing to be ashamed of.
Roroblu’s Mum: What kind of research did you do you do for your guys, plot and theme? Do you know many MM couples IRL that you draw inspiration from? Do you have a…ahem…purely for research purposes only (yeah…right!) Grindr profile? Do you subscribe to any…sites where you can do visual research?
Cali and Julie: For research, we use Tumblr extensively for – ahem – visual research, and we read a lot of other MM romance books.
Roroblu’s Mum: And finally, ladies, the quick fire round:
What’s your favourite song? Our song is There She Goes by the LAs, which we both love.
What can you be bribed with? Ice cream for Cali. Tea and cake for Julie.
What about the UK/US makes you proudest? Cali: I live in a very liberal state, and I’m proud of that. Julie: That we have freedom, democracy, and tea.
Tom Hiddleston or Matt Bomer? (Er, you’re allowed extra time to ogle, drool…research and compare. We both love Matt!
Describe yourself in one word. Cali: Amazing Julie: Lovely. (We’re doing each other, yeah baby!)
Next holiday destination? Cali: Greece. Julie: Actually, it’ll be the UK!
Italian, Greek, English or French (can refer to food, drink and/or guys, lol – you choose!). Julie: All of the above. Cali: That works for me too. Just throw a Scotsman in wearing a kilt.
Favourite scent on a guy? Cali: Mont Blanc, Legend. Julie: Just good old fashioned manly sweat.
Slave to cats, BFF to a dog or something else entirely? Cali: I’m a sucker for all animals, my husband is the only one keeping me from opening a zoo. Julie: I love cats.
The weirdest bit of fan mail you’ve had is….? Cali: I had a stalker sending me pictures of dead deer, while he held a rifle. Julie: Luckily I’ve so far escaped the weirdos.
Plotter or pantser? Cali: Total pantser. Julie loves to plot. But we find our balance together.
Who would play Jax and Nate if the guys made it to screen? Jensen Ackles for Jax, and Nate would be played by Theo James.
Last one, I promise – what’s your guilty pleasure? Julie: Brad Pitt smeared in chocolate sauce. Cali: Binge-watching series on Netflix.
Meet Cali MacKay & Julie Farrell
Cali MacKay and Julie Farrell are romance writers and long-time friends, who have combined their passion for M/M romance to write together, bringing you the steamy stories they've dreamed up. they've had a blast writing them, and hope their passion for the stories will come through in their writing, and you'll enjoy the characters they've brought to life, just as much as they do.
Where to find the authors: Website / Mailing List