Friday, November 20, 2015

Blog tour: The Cowboy in Unit E

Title: The Cowboy In Unit E
Series: A Mockingbird Place Novel
Author: Kris Cook
Genre: M/M Romance
Release Date: November 17, 2015

The good news is the most gorgeous cowboy I've ever seen is moving in next door to me. The bad news? He's not alone. Hanging on his arm is a very pregnant woman. Are they a couple? It sure looks like they are. So not only is he not gay, but he also has a girlfriend, or a wife, or whatever. Just my luck.

**** 
21-year old Trace Cotton is an artist who never shows his paintings to anyone. When cowboy Luke Wagner moves into Mockingbird Place with a very pregnant Ava, Trace believes he must fight his attraction to Luke since he’s taken. 
When Ava collapses outside Trace’s apartment, he comes to her rescue. Things aren’t what they seem on the surface, but when Trace finds out the truth will it be too late for a chance at something real with Luke? 
Warning: contains hot showers with singing, two sexy men kissing, and sexual situations taking place in a 10-unit Mediterranean complex filled with college-aged hotties.

“Yes, I recommend the series. Smokin' hot and smart men who are not afraid to expose their feelings or get in touch with their emotional side. Well done, again, Mr. Cook! I look forward to the next book - impatiently!“  ~4 Star Review from Happily Ever Chapter
I stand by my front window, where the light is best this time of day, gazing at the white void, praying for inspiration. The blank canvas taunts me. Where to begin? It’s always like this when I start a new painting. It has to mean something. I need feeling and life. Right now, all I have is emptiness.

My roommate and best friend, Jackson, always teases me about my process—or in his words my “idiosyncrasies.” My last painting took me over a month to complete, but the first ten days was like this one, staring at the canvas before I pressed a brush filled with paint to its surface.

Out of the corner of my eye, through the window, I see one of my new neighbors walking up the sidewalk. Ava Stone is pregnant and is carrying a big box. In her current condition I wonder if she should be lifting heavy things.

She and her good-looking cowboy, Luke Wagner, are moving into the apartment next to Jackson’s and mine—Unit E. That leaves Oliver’s old apartment, Unit F, as the only vacancy at Mockingbird Place. I met the couple at the complex’s yard sale when they were taking a look at the apartment. They were living in a motel so that Ava could start her classes at the university on time until they could find a place to rent. Ava and Luke’s new home had been empty for quite some time. Until now. I’m glad it’s finally going to be occupied and hope the new couple will be good neighbors. And most of all I have to stop thinking about one of them.

I’ve never been attracted to cowboys before, but there is something about Luke that I can’t quite seem to shake. But I need to. He’s obviously taken and straight.

When Ava smiles at me as she turns to go into her apartment, I wave.

Glancing back at my canvas, I feel so frustrated. I’m no closer to an idea than before. Why do I do this to myself? No one will ever see this work when it’s completed. This painting is for my eyes only now that Malcolm is gone. He was the only one I was ever comfortable sharing my work with. He got it. He knew what I was trying to say with each piece.

Like everyone else at Mockingbird Place, I thought he would live forever, even though he was eighty-two when he died. In June, we had his memorial in the courtyard and planted a tree in his honor near the pool.

I see Ava heading back to the parking lot and wonder how many more boxes she and her boyfriend have to unload. I decide to finish my coffee before I put my brushes away and help them.

I step back from the blank canvas. Should I paint another portrait of Malcolm? No. I just can’t bring myself to paint him again. It hurts too much. I need more time. Right now, I could use an idea for this canvas, but I’m at a total loss. Damn it.

My art continues to be therapeutic for me. When I was twelve years old my counselor suggested art therapy and I found my passion. I can place myself inside my paintings, feeling the breeze on my skin or hearing the crashing of the waves on the shore. I’m there and I don’t feel the pain. Still, my paintings allow me to gaze into the darkness of my past. They also help me release the tension and anxiety.

Actually, I wish all of my paintings could remain private. Each is so personal and carries its own meaning. Whenever anyone looks at my paintings I feel exposed and vulnerable. Dirty. I wonder if people can see my younger self weeping from the despair in my brush strokes. I definitely can, no matter the composition I’ve created, whether beach or mountain scene, whether wild animal or newborn baby, whether impressionistic or realistic. Each painting carries drops of the pain from my past.

Two of my pieces were on display for my professors to judge. I wonder if it was worth the As I got on both, because it nearly wrecked me until I was able to take them back to my storage unit. That’s where I keep my completed paintings.

This semester is so much better than last. I have a fantastic schedule and only have to be on campus two days a week. The rest of the week is mine. All mine. And the classes that I am taking don’t require students to create and present a work of art, unlike last semester.

As I put my empty cup down, I see Ava collapse and the box she was carrying crash to the ground.

A blast of electricity shoots through my body, and I toss my brushes aside and rush out my door.

“Ava. Ava.” I lift her head off the ground and start shouting for her boyfriend. “Luke. Get out here. Ava has passed out.” Where the hell is he?

Her eyes open. “What happened?”

“You passed out and fell,” I tell her.

“Oh no.” Ava rubs her hands over her belly. “Thank God, I just felt a kick. I think the baby is fine.”

Kick or not, I know she needs to see a doctor. “Where’s Luke?”

Before she can answer, I see him running up the sidewalk.

He kneels down next to me and shoves a sack in my chest. “My God, Ava, what happened?” he asks in his thick West Texas accent. “Are you okay?”

Though starting in straight erotic romance, Kris's total focus now is on gay romance. When asked why recently, his answer was "My muse finally came out of the closet. Isn't it about time? I’ve been out since I was twenty-five." A voracious reader, Kris loves many genres of fiction, but this writer's favorite books are romances that are edgy, sexy, with rich characters and unique challenges. Kris' influences include Anne Rice, JR Ward, Lexi Blake and Shayla Black. Last year, Kris married the love of his life Stephen.
 

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The Cowboy in Unit E has the same realistic, complex, multi-layered characters we met in The Marine In Unit A, plus 2 new characters taking up residence in Mockingbird Place.

Readers are introduced to the very pregnant Eva Stone and the hunky cowboy Luke Wagner, who immediately catches the eye of resident artist Trace Cotton.

Even though signals coming off Luke are quite clear, tortured sole Trace is convinced of Luke's heterosexuality because of Anna.

How many times have people, both gay and straight been in this same situation? I know I have more than once. Clear cut signals can sometimes be easily misinterpreted. What am I talking about? Read The Cowboy In Unit E to find out.

The story is not without near tragedy and angst. The way that the residents of Mockingbird Place rally around and support Trace, Eva and Luke is exactly the way everyone should help out their neighbors.  Humanity at it's finest.

The question remains, is Luke straight or gay? The residents work to find out, and if he is, can Trace catch his interest? The author makes this happen without the appearance of the residents butting into the private lives of Trace, Anna and Luke, with unexpected results.

The way the author accomplishes this plot point the same way as he handles the rest of the story, pulling the readers in without excess wording or hyperbole, and those who know me personally know the word hyperbole is generally not in my vocabulary, but it's definitely called for here.

As I have stated previously, Mockingbird Place, with it's awesome, close-knit, and welcoming family of residents, is a place I would definitely love to live in. Everyone looks out for each other, even through tragedy.

All of the characters combine to create an engrossing page-turner.

The Cowboy in Unit E contains story arcs that are realistic, almost if they'd been taken from news headlines. It's more about life outside the bedroom. If you're looking for a book with lots of explicit sex scenes you are in for a disappointment. Instead it's all about dealing with whatever life throws at you, especially with the support of friends and family.

I really like the fact that you don't have to read The Marine in Unit A to understand what's happening in The Cowboy in Unit E. To me, those are the best kind of sequels.

The ending even hints at a possible third Mockingbird Place novel, possibly titled The ? in Unit ? (no, I don't know anything for sure. This is mere supposition (again, a word I never use) on my part.

The promotional group I blog for gives us a scale of 1 to 5 upon which to rate the pre-release books we review. If I could, I'd give this book a 100, but I have to settle for a 5.

This is clearly one of the finest pieces of literature I've ever had the pleasure to read. I will most definitely be reading it , and The Marine in Unit A again.

Bottom line:  read it!











 

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