Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Promotional Post: The First Morning After by Marie Lark #Review #Interview #Giveaway

Blurb: For as long as he can remember, Danny Rojas has wanted All-Star first baseman, Mitchel Finch. And he could swear that in high school, Mitchel was interested, too. But the baseball team made Danny’s life a living hell back then, and the moment he was able, he got out. Five years later at a friend’s wedding, Danny finally has the chance, and more importantly, the courage, to act on his years-long crush. 

Mitchel Finch used to have it so good—a brilliant athlete with lots of friends, a gorgeous girlfriend, and a place of importance in his home town. All he had to do was play it straight. But when an injury ends his baseball career, and his best friend’s wedding reminds him of everything he lost, Mitchel jumps at the opportunity Danny gives him—a night to be honest with himself. A night to finally feel wanted for exactly who he is.

The trouble is, neither of their circumstances has changed by morning. Mitchel is still closeted, and Danny is still the town pariah. Can a connection, building for years and forged in one night, survive the first morning after?

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Danny had been sweating pretty much the whole day, but he felt almost smothered as he strode into the parking lot. Should he head straight for his room? He hadn’t given Mitchel the number. Curious looks or no, Mitchel had never said a word to keep his teammates from making Danny’s life a living hell. 

If worse came to worst, he could run. Even in these shoes and pants, Danny Rojas could always run. 

Walking right past his room, Danny kept his hands loose at his sides. What the hell had he been thinking making a pass at Mitchel Finch Jr.? No boost of confidence fueled by righteous fury at the injustices of his youth could justify that kind of foolishness. His mother had raised him better than that. His mother had tried to teach him to disappear, and this was the opposite of disappearing. Even though Mitchel himself had never taken part in any of the team’s cruelty, that didn’t mean he— 

Danny rounded the corner of the building to find Mitchel standing in the shadows, leaning against the bricks like something out of a movie. He glanced up at Danny’s arrival, straightened from the wall when Danny walked right past him. 

“What’re you—” 

“Just checking something,” Danny called as he jogged to the back of the building and peered down the line of rooms. No Clarks lurked there either, with or without bats. When he turned back around, Mitchel had his hands shoved deep in his suit pockets and his shoulders hunched. Danny slowed his approach until they stood a few paces apart. The nighttime breeze blew dust and grit across the parking lot, and Mitchel appeared to be dug in. He’d made the first move. The ball was in Danny’s court. 

“You still in, Fincher?” Danny asked, throat dry for the amount of liquid in his stomach. 

Mitchel shook his head, and Danny exhaled sharply, unsure if he should be relieved or disappointed. 

“Don’t call me Fincher,” Mitchel said. “That’s my old man’s name.” 

“All right.” He said it like a question. 

“And, yeah, let’s do this. Last thing I want’s one of Liza’s twenty-eight cousins running into us at the ice machine.” He glanced around, expecting a different kind of audience than Danny had. 

“You bet.” Danny tilted his head toward the rooms on the front side, working with everything he had to maintain his cool. “I’m in 7, right here on the end.” 

Mitchel gestured for him to lead the way, so Danny went. He dug in his pocket for the room key and tried not to tense up at the feeling of Mitchel at his back. Hands still shaking a little, Danny managed to turn the key in the lock and let them into the drab little motel room. He flipped on the light and jumped when Mitchel shut and bolted the door behind them. 

They both shed their jackets, and in the dim orange light of the room, Danny could see where Mitchel’s dress shirt was damp with sweat. Mitchel eyed the queen-size bed with what looked like skepticism, as if he couldn’t believe what they were about to do. Danny himself was having trouble picturing the two of them on it—without clothes, just skin and breath and friction. 

“I’m gonna—” He nodded toward the bathroom and escaped there, though he left the door open as he ran the sink and rooted through his shaving kit for the strip of condoms and lube he’d packed. When he’d found them, he washed his hands. Then, spotting Mitchel in the mirror, he shut off the faucet and turned to face him. 

“I’m not reading this wrong, right?” Mitchel leaned his shoulder into the door jam. “You weren’t thinkin’ we’d just catch up on local gossip.” 

When Danny shook his head, Mitchel came the rest of the way into the bathroom. Danny shuffled back a half step and bumped up against the sink counter. “Well, I would like to do that, but I think we should fuck first. This was your idea though, so. Whatever you want.” His pulse skyrocketed as he said it. He was stalling, of course, to make space for the full realization, Mitchel Finch picked me up at his best friend’s wedding. Seeing Mitchel in the doorway put the fire of adrenalin in his veins. He looked Mitchel right in the face and dared him to make the first move. 

Mitchel looked Danny up and down where he stood at the sink—let his gaze linger in a way he never quite had in school. “College was good to you, Rojas. You look good.” He came a step closer, his eyes stuck about waist-level—right where Danny’s cock had begun to chub up under Mitchel’s scrutiny. Christ, all Danny had ever wanted was for Mitchel to look at him like this. 

“Thanks for noticing. You know you’re still fucking gorgeous.” Even in a suit that looked like it had belonged to his dad when he was twenty years younger and thirty pounds lighter. 

Mitchel smiled like he did know but hadn’t heard it in a while. He licked his lips, pinched the bottom one gently between his teeth, and closed the last few inches between them, sliding one foot between Danny’s. “How long you been sweet on me, anyway?” Bracing his hands on either side of Danny’s hips, Mitchel boxed him in. They were the same height now, and Danny felt like he’d always wanted Mitchel Finch. 

“Since I learned what dicks were for,” he answered. “Watched you play ball in middle school and wanted to get you all flustered behind the bleachers. I’d’ve had no idea what to do, but that’s what I wanted.” 

Mitchel breathed in sharply and made a quiet, desperate-sounding noise before he grabbed Danny’s elbows and squeezed. The fierceness of Mitchel’s grip startled Danny enough that he instinctively drew back. He’d taught himself not to do that once he’d left home for college, but being back in Peach Blossom, every bit of muscle memory had returned. Mitchel dug his fingers into the meat of Danny’s triceps, dragged his shirt sleeves up, and just—he just looked at Danny for a minute. 

Luckily, Mitchel didn’t seem to notice Danny’s flinch. “You know what to do now?” Mitchel asked, gaze stuck on Danny’s mouth. 

“Yeah, I do.” He wet his parched lips. “Do you?” 

Mitchel huffed an unhappy laugh. “You’d be surprised what I know.” Then he leaned in and kissed him. 

It…wasn’t a nice kiss. Mitchel pressed into him until he was bent back over the counter, until all he could do was grab hold of Mitchel to keep from falling backward into the sink. Mitchel clutched at him, hands clumsily groping up his arms to his shoulders, closing briefly around his throat, and slipping down to his waist. Danny tried to keep from closing his eyes so he wouldn’t miss a moment of Mitchel’s desperate touches, but when Mitchel bit a trail of kisses from his mouth to his collarbone, he couldn’t keep from tipping his head back and groaning. 

“Yeah.” Mitchel kneaded his hands at Danny’s waist. “Want me to fuck you? Get inside you, make you feel it?” 

The heat in those words shook him to his bones, and Danny slouched against the sink a little as his knees turned to soup. “You think I’m gonna say no to that, Mitchel Finch?” 

He couldn’t help superimposing the carefree, gifted kid Mitchel had been over this version of him—still handsome as hell but edged with bitterness. Whiskey instead of Coke. And apparently well past the sidelong-looking stage of his interest in guys. Maybe he hadn’t been saving himself this whole time for a straight best friend. 

Mitchel’s hands tightened on his waist a moment before he spun him around and pushed him against the sink. He grabbed both Danny’s hands and braced them on the counter as Danny grunted his surprise, scrambling to fit himself in the narrow space Mitchel left for him. 

Gaze lifting to their reflection, a part of him was prepared for Mitchel in a Sharp Shin’s uniform, but that warped, false memory flickered and died when Mitchel bent his head and bit a kiss over the first bump of Danny’s spine. Nerve endings fired all down his shoulders and back, and he shivered hard, breathing out a laugh. 

“Jesus. You want—right here?” 

Mitchel nodded without breaking the kiss. He rolled his hips, the shape of his cock thick and obvious against Danny’s ass. Thick, obvious, and yet somehow more than Danny could comprehend after so many years of imagining it. He watched them in the mirror, reached back when Mitchel finally let one of his hands free, and rubbed his palm through soft, sand-colored hair. Fucking against a motel bathroom sink might not be the most romantic way of acting on his years-long crush, but the way Mitchel touched him, put him where he wanted, Danny didn’t think this was about romance or tenderness. 

Well, that was all right. Danny wouldn’t know what to do with it anyway.


This story was rattling inside my head after I finished it. I was having issues with deciding where the line of understanding ended and frustration began.

This is a jock/geek trope and those are awesome! I do love them but this one took a different turn for me. Danny and Mitchell are the MC's. In High School Danny is the outcast, geeky, gay kid. Mitchell is the baseball star, super popular, has the love of a town and the prettiest girl.

When Danny leaves this homophobic town to return five years later, he's confident, comfortable, and stronger. Mitchell however is still in the town that hate built and is still the town hero. An injury has stopped him from pursuing his dreams but he's loved all the same. He's also WAY in the closet. Danny's shock that his crush growing up is gay fills him with  hope. A one nightstand brings his fantasies to life and that's where a lot of hope dies.

Mitchell is super frustrating. I get he's the product of the society he lives in. But he isn't a stranger to the rights and wrongs of the world.

Danny and Mitchell's story is a growing up of sorts and it ends in an HFN sort of way. There's SO much more story to tell and it felt somewhat open in the end. I don't want to assume a second book is on the horizon but hopefully there is. Danny and Mitchell's story isn't over yet.


Thanks so much for having me here, Meredith! I’m so excited to talk about The First Morning After!

Are you a baseball fan, and if so what’s your favorite team?

I am a baseball fan, though a recent one. Hockey is my greatest love, but there’s something really romantic to me about a baseball game—the warm summer evenings, the lights, the hotdogs, and the kind of lazy pace of the games that can suddenly be SUPER EXCITING with a brilliant play or a great hit. I’m a Pennsylvania girl, born and bred, so my favorite team is the Pirates. Talk about a romantic city to see a game! PNC Park is beautiful, and the view of the Pittsburgh skyline is magnificent. I love the sense of community and pride in your boys down there on the field, and in The First Morning After, I really tried to convey that about Peach Blossom.

What compelled you to write this story?

Well, a couple things. First, I got the nugget of the idea from a picture I came across on the internet a while back, and it was—what if this guy who thought he was hot shit in bed was really actually not, and the best thing for him was to be taken down a few notches and shown how it was done?

Second, I wanted to tell a story about someone who appeared one way to his friends and community, but who actually hid an entire identity from them. Pair him with someone who’d never been any good at hiding anything, add in the image from above, and voila! Mitchel Finch and Danny Rojas were born! It’s a twist on the Geek and the Jock, where the hotshot jock ain’t so hot anymore, and the geek has a lot to show him.

Why do you feel athletes, in this day and age, remain closeted?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot, and I just read this really interesting article about it in the Chicago Tribune only yesterday that helped clarify this question for me. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/ct-gay-athletes-stay-in-closet-spt-0626-20160624-story.html) Great strides have been made in terms of overall acceptance of the LGBT community (though not without tragic backlash), and I think the same can be said for the athletic community. You Can Play has worked hard to combat open homophobia on sports teams, and certainly on women’s teams, there are plenty of athletes who’ve come out.

But the dudes remain stubborn, and don’t think it’s because male athletes are inherently more homophobic than any other segment of the population. I think male athletes are more wrapped up in what it means to be a Man than any other segment of the population. Performative masculinity—being strong enough and badass enough—is inextricably tied to being a sports star. No pain, no gain. Play through it no matter what. Don’t show weakness. Don’t talk about your fears or your feelings. And feel free to mock anyone who pushes back against these restrictions. This doesn’t even scratch the surface of how male athletes are expected to relate to and treat women, which, frankly, makes me sick to my stomach.

What it all boils down to, I think, is this: there is no greater insult to a man than calling into question his manhood. Whether it’s from a homophobic slur or calling him a woman doesn’t matter so much these days. The guys who use such insults might not consider themselves homophobic, but you can be damn sure they have strong opinions about what it means to be a man… which ends up amounting to the same thing for a closeted athlete.

On the one hand, I’m optimistic, because the culture really is changing around acceptance of the LGBT community. On the other, what lies ahead is tackling the entire Toxic Masculinity monolith, which is significantly more daunting. And until that structure starts to come down, it’s not surprising to me at all that gay athletes choose to keep their sexuality secret. If they don’t feel welcome in their own locker rooms, how can we, the public, ask them to share what is already a personal and private matter? We can’t.

Will you be writing more sports books and if so will they be baseball or will you venture to other sports?

Yes, I will absolutely write more sports romance! I have a couple more books planned in this series around other members of Mitchel’s baseball team, and after that I’ve got an entire hockey series mapped out which I cannot wait to get going on! They’ll mostly be M/M, but I like ladies, too, so they’ll be there, too.

What can we expect from you in the future? 

I’m finally starting up a newsletter! (There’s a popup form on my website!) And there’ll be a free short story about what happens next to Mitchel and Danny in between The First Morning After and the next book in the series.

About the Author

 Marie Lark is a part-time teacher and rest-of-the-time writer. She lives in New York with her very respectable husband and tiny dog. She writes contemporary New Adult and LGBTQ romance, but loves love stories of all kinds. Romance is like kung fu—it’s in everything. Jackie Chan said that, right?


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  1. Sounds like a good book! Thanks for sharing with us.

  2. Congratulations on the release of The First Morning After! Love the excerpt as this is my type of read!


  3. I am always up for sport-themed romance :)

  4. Thank you for the interview and the excerpt! The book sounds fantastic.