Follow Peter into the summer following his senior year to face new beginnings, new friends, and old baggage.
After a tumultuous final year of high school, Peter Mandel needs a break. It’s the summer of 1991, and his secret relationship with his ‘best friend’ Adam Algedi is put on hold as Adam goes away to Italy for the summer. On the cusp of adulthood, Peter has a couple of months to explore who he is without Adam at his side.
Enter Daniel McPeak, a slightly older, out, responsible college guy with a posse of gay friends and an attraction for Peter. Drawn into the brave new world of the local gay club, Peter embarks on a whirlwind of experiences—good and bad—which culminate in a hotel room where he has to make the ultimate choice.
But Adam will come back eventually, and there are promises that have to be kept. As autumn draws near and college awaits, can Peter break free of the binds of twisted first love? And what exactly is Daniel’s role in his life – a brief temptation, or something more?
Join Peter in the second book of this four-part coming of age series as he struggles to love and be loved, and grow into a gay man worthy of his own respect.
This new series by Leta Blake is gay fiction with romantic elements.
Book 2 of 4.
Length: 100,000 words, 328 pages
These books contain aspects of: New Adult fiction, ‘90s gay life, small city homosexual experiences, Southern biases, sexual exploration, romance, homophobia, bisexuality, and twisted-up young love. Oh, and a guaranteed happy ending for the main character by the end of Book 4.
November 28, 2016
Leta Blake Books
’90s Coming of Age, book 2
Contemporary, New Adult, Coming of Age
328 e-book pages
See the book on Goodreads
Ratings are 1 to 5 stars and based mostly on GoodReads standards.
Huh? No… that’s not my wifi password. That was just me exerting a little bit of…well, not frustration, exactly, maybe enthusiastic stupification, onto my keyboard. DAMMIT PETER!
Also, I might be a wee bit vexed that there is not a whole lot I can say about this book without dropping some MAJOR spoilerage. To that I say (with the utmost respect): DAMMIT LETA BLAKE!
We’re just two books in and this series is shaping up to be a sweeping, epic, and timeless coming of age tale. It has gripped my heart to the extreme, and I am pent up with overwhelm at the magnificence and beauty of it all.
Some big words and feelings up there.
It’s true, though.
This is the ongoing story of Peter who’s finding his way, getting his feet under him as he enters adulthood. He’s in love. Maybe. But, is it really true love, that first love? The kind that can go the distance? Will it even survive the summer? And, what then? And what if…what if there’s someone else? Someone who might hold his heart with more care?
We’re entering love-triangle zone with this one, folks. On one acute corner is the guy who’s familiar, the first love, the one who tugs at loyalties — even when there’s so much uncertainty as to that devotion going both ways and evidence suggesting the contrary. On the other corner stands the possibility of someone new and shiny, someone who seems really sweet and kind and good to the core, plus soooper-duper hot.
Peter is still figuring himself out in some monumental ways. He’s had troubles with his parents, his friends, and all is not easy as a Sunday morning with his love life.
And God, adolescence/young adulthood sucked back in the early 90s, probably now too. But before texting and cell phones, IMs, DMs, PMs and such — and so many ways communication is easier now, the questions and uncertainties just lingered for days and weeks on end because there was no alternative. I remember those days — waiting by the phone that was attached to a wall, waiting for a letter to arrive in the mail, something that would assuage the wondering faster, even if by just a tiny bit.
But, Peter’s got some great folks in his circle. And his parents are trying, even if it’s a little better-late-than-never. He’s spreading his wings in his outness by making new friends who’re also queer — cautiously (most of the time), with folks he can trust (usually). But definitely with folks who will have his back — and tell him when he’s fucked up, keep him on the right track, accept him for who he is.
Y’all, I said this was epic. It’s a saga. There are no great sweeping resolutions to be had quite yet. There’s still lots of growing to do. Lot’s of lessons to learn. Strength and confidence to gain. AND WHO WILL LOVE PETER THE WAY HE DESERVES?
It’s a journey, that growing up business. I remember it well, and not always so fondly.
But, two books in, and I am all over this series for all the places it will lead and all of Leta’s beautiful words. As vexed as I am, marinating in this stupification, I can’t freakin’ wait to see what happens next.
The stool next to me wasn’t empty for long. Minty dropped onto it, his purple tutu rubbing against my chinos and his thin, white arms curled up to rest on the bar. He stared at me for a long, curious second. “I’ve met you before, right?”
“Yeah.” I shook off my disappointment and gave him my attention. “Last spring, up on campus.”
“Did we fuck?”
I almost choked on my soda. “No.”
“Right.” Minty frowned. “Did I suck you off?”
I stared at him.
“My car was broken down,” I said slowly. “Daniel helped me.”
Minty grinned. “Oh, right! I remember now. You looked amazing that night. Made of moonbeams. Everyone was made of moonbeams.” He tilted his head. “You look all right now too.”
Minty laughed and fluffed his tutu. He turned away from me to hammer his fists on the bar. “Jolly Zima, Barry! Watermelon! Hit me!”
Barry rolled his eyes, but he pulled a Zima out from the fridge and popped the lid, then reached under the counter and came out with a watermelon Jolly Rancher, unwrapped it, and dropped it into the drink. Minty slapped three dollars down and took a dainty sip.
“Ah! Perfection!” He turned to me with his eyelashes lowered flirtatiously. “Anyway, back to what you were saying. We haven’t fucked yet?”
Startled, nervous laughter bubbled out of my mouth.
“Minty,” Barry said. “Drink your Zima and leave Peter alone.”
“Sure thing. You’re the boss.” Minty sighed and leaned toward me conspiratorially. “He won’t fuck me either. What’s a girl gotta do these days? I mean, I look good, don’t I?”
I looked him over—white, though scuffed, ballet slippers, purple tutu, toned, pale, lithe arms, and his made-up face. “Sure. You look really pretty.”
Minty grinned. “Aw, you know how to make a girl feel nice.”
“Didn’t I just see you downstairs with two guys, though?”
“Two? Please. That’s just a warm-up.” He sniffed.
Renée appeared at my side, dropping an arm around my shoulder. “Minty, doll baby, I need you backstage in an hour. You’re my naughty boy tonight.”
“Okay, but I want to wear my tutu.”
“You’ll be gorgeous.” Renée grabbed hold of Minty’s face and looked him over. “We need to put some eyelashes on you too.”
“And red lipstick.”
“Yes! Every man in this room will ache to be in that pert ass of yours.” She glanced at me and then back at Minty. “Except Peter here.”
“He catches?” Minty asked.
“Like Johnny Bench, baby.”
I didn’t like my positional preferences being discussed like it was any of their business, but I was mystified that Renée seemed so certain about it. Was there something about me that screamed loves it up the ass?
“How do you know who Johnny Bench is, woman?” Barry handed Renée a milky-looking drink topped with brown liquor.
“I’ve never mentioned baseball to you and you know it.”
“Of course not. You’d never do that to me. Earl at Ringo Comics, though, he babbles on and on about it when he’s trying not to come. Earl says I catch like a pro.” She patted her ass.
Daniel was right last spring when he said Robert and Renée were the same but different people. Robert could be sassy and forthright about his sexual shenanigans, but raunchy details rarely left his mouth. My face burned.
“Hear, hear!” Minty cried, throwing back his head to draw a long swig from his Zima.
Barry frowned. It was the first time I’d seen Barry look even moderately unhappy about Renée—or Robert’s—indiscretions.
“What?” Renée asked defensively.
“Earl’s positive.” Barry’s gaze bore into her. “You used a condom?”
“Of course!” Renée licked her lips and shifted nervously to her other foot, her hip cocking out. “I always do. You know that.”
Minty bit his purple-painted thumbnail, eyes going distant. “I’m probably positive. I should get tested. My mom wants me to get tested.”
Barry nailed Minty and Renée with a frustrated glare. He reached under the counter and pulled out two condoms. Then his gaze shifted to me and he pulled out a third. “For fuck’s sake, use these. Every time. Every damn time.”
Renée stuffed the condom in her bra. Minty held it up in front of his face and then gave it a kiss before lifting up his tutu to tuck it into the waistband of his white briefs. Nodding, I pocketed the one Barry handed to me, even though I wasn’t going to need it. Adam was in Italy and the casual sex Minty and Renée played with was something I’d never risk.
Breaking the tension, the two guys Minty and Daniel had come upstairs with shoved into the space between us, ordering beers from Barry and slinging their arms around Minty’s shoulders or Renée’s waist.
“Who’s this?” asked the muscular, olive-toned one, dropping a kiss on Minty’s upturned cheek.
“Peter,” Minty said sweetly, like I was a cat he was fond of. “He knows Renée, Barry, and Daniel.”
“Ah.” The guy was handsome with bedroom eyes. Dark circles smudged beneath them, as if he’d just left a fistfight or he’d been crying his eyes out. Both thoughts twisted something up in me, a hand grabbing my heart and squeezing for a second. He looked like he needed a hug.
Minty caught me staring up at his friend. “He’s smarter than he looks,” he said, out of the blue, and I blinked in confusion. “And he likes to kiss more than fuck.”
“Okay?” I had no idea why Minty was telling me this.
“Oh, and he’s a big pussy cat when he’s in love.”
“Is he your boyfriend?”
“What?” Minty looked scandalized. “Of course not. That’s gross.” He grinned slyly. “He could be your boyfriend, though.”
I shook my head, and Minty laughed.
“Name’s Antonio,” the guy said, sticking out his hand. “Ignore him. He’s always trying to set me up with pretty bottoms. I keep telling him I’m not a top.”
Minty rolled his eyes. “You have to be a top. Have you looked in the mirror? Those eyes? That mouth? Your tough-guy pout? C’mon. Fuck me.”
Antonio sighed. “I only like to stick it in chicks. I’ve told you.” He tugged their Asian friend a little closer. “This one’s the top.”
I gulped club soda, unsure how to deal with a conversation with complete strangers about who liked what about butt sex.
“I forget you’re bisexual,” Minty said archly to Antonio. “You never bring girls around.”
Antonio snorted. “I love eating pussy, but nothing beats a cock up my ass.”
“Cheers!” Minty cried, toasting the sentiment.
Antonio went on. “Sometimes a man’s gotta make a choice about what he wants to pursue in life, and, well, I’m chasing dick.”
“Can’t blame you for that, man,” Barry said, nodding.
Minty grabbed their Asian friend’s tie and pulled him down close, saying to me, “This is Windy. With an ‘i’ in the middle and a ‘y’ on the end. And he tops like a champ.”
Windy kissed Minty’s cheek and winked at me.
Minty’s eyes narrowed. “Don’t ask where he’s from, it pisses him off.”
“Why would I ask him that?” I said, confused.
“People always want to know. ‘Are you from Japan? Or China?’” Minty rolled his eyes. “He’s from Vietnam.”
Windy shoved Minty hard enough to unseat him from his stool. “I’m from Kentucky, asshole.”
I sipped my club soda. “Kentucky’s nice. Horse farms. Bluegrass.”
Once Minty had righted himself, he gripped my shoulder and whisper-yelled into my ear, “Windy’s basically my best friend besides Daniel. We only fucked once.”
Windy corrected him again. “Twice, actually.”
“That’s how I know for sure he’s a great top. You should try him.”
“Um, no. Thank you. I’m good,” I babbled.
Windy laughed at me and then swept in and gave Minty a wet kiss on the mouth. I wasn’t sure if there was tongue or not. Breaking away, Windy grabbed Minty’s Zima and took a swallow from it.
“So, Minty and Windy, are those your real names?” I asked.
“Is your real name Peter?” Minty asked, his eyes narrowed.
“Well, aren’t you lucky then?” He tossed head, lifted his hand dramatically, and Windy pulled him up from the stool. “To the dance floor!” He grabbed hold of my arm and tugged me up too. “Let’s show this crowd what gorgeous bitches we are!”
About the Author:
Author of the bestselling book Smoky Mountain Dreams and fan favorite Training Season, Leta Blake’s educational and professional background is in psychology and finance, respectively. However, her passion has always been for writing. She enjoys crafting romance stories and exploring the psyches of made up people. At home in the Southern U.S., Leta works hard at achieving balance between her day job, her writing, and her family.
Two lucky winners will receive an e-book copy of book one — Pictures of You.