Monday, November 28, 2016

Release Day Blitz: You Are Not Me by Leta Blake #Review #Excerpt #Giveaway

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Title: You Are Not Me
Series: '90s Coming of Age, #2
Author: Leta Blake
Publisher: Leta Blake Books
Release Date: 11/28/2016
Heat Level: 3 - Some Sex
Pairing: Male/Male
Length: 100,000 words
Genre: New Adult, coming of age

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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.


So. Here we are again. Leta Blake sure knows how to bring the pain ... and the angst and the feels, doesn't she? If you have not started her '90's Coming of  Age series, stop immediately and fix that. Like right now. The second book of the series, You Are Not Me, is every bit an emotional roller coaster as the first book, Pictures of You. And probably a little more. A few things before we get much farther. These books are not stand alone's so if you haven't read the first book, you won't have any idea what's going on because You Are Not Me picks up right after the end of book 1. Next, this isn't your typical romance. So if you're expecting hearts and flowers and lots of swoony sighs, this isn't that kind of book. Also, Leta has mentioned numerous times that this series will be four books long and as such, things are still developing and changing, so if you're thinking that things are settled, think again. You will laugh and cry, a lot, in You Are Not Me. And oh my will you ever get angry and frustrated. But this series is about a journey, as the name suggests, so be prepared for all manner of ups and downs and sideways and back steps. It's all worth it in the end. 

Our hero, Peter Mandel, has just graduated from high school. His closeted and secret boyfriend, Adam Algedi is off to spend the summer in Italy and at the end of book 1, Peter vowed to use their time apart to make some changes to his life. He's willing to wait for Adam, who has promised that they'll be able to be together once he gets back from overseas and they both start college (even though they'll be attending different colleges). Nice words for sure, and while Peter clings to the hope that Adam--who has not had the best track record in the past of keeping his promises--means what he says this time, a part of him knows that things are going to change once again. He's come out to his parents, he's making new gay friends and having experiences, both good and bad, that continually shape his beliefs not only in the world around him, but in himself, too. I love Peter as much in You Are Not Me as I did in Pictures of You, but man oh man did I ever want to give him a swift kick in the ass on SO many occasions. Growing up is never easy, is it? We all make choices that have consequences and we hopefully learn from our mistakes. The way Leta has Peter take a step forward in finding himself only to fall back is frustrating for sure, but it's very realistic as well. 

I adored the addition of the Tilt-a-Whirl gang. Minty and Windy and Antonio and Daniel (who we did meet in book one) brought so much to this book and just highlighted how much more Peter has to learn. I loved how involved Robert and Barry are in Peter's life and I think they really provide some much needed guidance for our young and often clueless hero. I was happy to see Mike again, and I hope he's around in the following books. Peter's experience with Bobby was so poignant and emotional and really brought home how much AIDS and HIV impacted everyone at the time. And I have to mention Peter's mom, who after book one I was so not a fan of, but oh how Leta has redeemed her. Both of Peter's parents actually. The honesty and the communication between them all was refreshing and they've become such a support for Peter. Peter's world is expanding, he's trying new things, he's making new friends but the pull Adam has on him is still always there. Even with the growing attraction between Peter and Daniel, Adam is always there. 

So, let's talk about Adam a bit, okay? This guy. *sigh* I have no idea where Leta is going with him, even at the end of Your Are Not Me, it feels like there's more to come. I don't think it's going to be pretty though, what comes next. In Pictures of You I could empathize with him and his situation. He's terrified of his father finding out he's bisexual, and with good reason. And then we have Leslie, the other person Adam is in love with, who STILL doesn't know about Peter and what he means to Adam. I just can't see this turning out well at all. And really Adam's feelings for Peter seem to border on obsession way more than they do true love. He's so manipulative and conniving, and SO very good and guilting Peter into saying and doing things, even though Peter knows better (no matter how much he is ruled a bit by a very healthy sexual appetite). My sympathy for Adam has come to an end, though. Peter needs to move on from him and I hope he does, for his own sake. The loss of a first love is always traumatic and to some extent I can get behind Peter's refusal to let Adam go, but I really hope he does. And it's not just because of Daniel, who is just so perfect for Peter. Daniel is everything Peter needs- caring, supportive, patient, and let's not forget just downright swoony as all hell, too. Because, jeesh, he's fabulous. 

I'm so looking forward to the next stop on Peter's journey. He's got a ways to go yet, but I sure am rooting for him. He's young and imperfect and continually growing and learning. Leta Blake has written a magnificent tale of finding your path and yourself, and how the things you learn and the people that come into your life have a way of shaping you. It's not always easy. There is pain and tears and such heartbreak, but the reward of coming out the other side is worth it. Leta's writing as always is incredible, and the pop culture references sure brought me back and made You Are Not Me come alive. People, this series is special. Truly special and one not to missed. I know a lot of folks like waiting until a series is done before diving in but in this case the journey, the waiting for what comes next, is to be savored to really appreciate what Leta has done with these characters. Don't wait. Anticipate with the rest of us, you won't be sorry if you do!


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. “Well?” “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.” “Thanks?” 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 listen!” “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.” Windy laughed. 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. “Yes?” “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!”




Meet 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.

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