Chance César is fabulously gay, but his gender identity—or, as he phrases it, “being stuck in the gray area between girl and boy”—remains confusing. Nonetheless, he struts his stuff on the catwalk in black patent leather pumps and a snug-in-all-the-right (wrong)-places orange tuxedo as the winner of this year’s Miss (ter) Harvest Moon Festival. He rules supreme at the local Beans and Greens Farm’s annual fall celebration, serenaded by the enthusiastic catcalls of his BFF, Emily Benson.
Although he refuses to visually fade into the background of his rural New Hampshire town, Chance is socially invisible—except when being tormented by familiar bullies. But sparks fly when Chance, Pumpkin Pageant Queen, meets Jasper (Jazz) Donahue, winner of the Pumpkin Carving King contest. Chance wants to be noticed and admired and romantically embraced by Jazz, in all of his neon-orange-haired glory.
And so at a sleepover, Chance and Emily conduct intense, late-night research, and find an online article: “Ten Scientifically Proven Ways to Make a Man Fall in Love With You.” Along with a bonus love spell thrown in for good measure, it becomes the basis of their strategy to capture Jazz’s heart.
But will this “no-fail” plan work? Can Chance and Jazz fall under the fickle spell of love?
Title: Love Spell
Author: Mia Kerick
Publisher: NineStar Press, LLC
Release Date: September 17, 2018
Heat Level: 1 – No Sex
Genre: Contemporary YA, contemporary, YA, non-binary, bullying, homophobia, coming-of-age, humorous
Just call me brazen.
It occurs to me that brazen—unabashedly bold and without an inkling of shame—is the perfectly appropriate word to describe moi right about now. It is, however, the only perfectly appropriate part of this evening. Which is perfectly appropriate, in my humble opinion. So get over it.
I lift my chin just enough to stop the stiff orange spikes of glitter-gelled hair from flopping forward onto my forehead. Who can blame me? These spikes are razor sharp—best they stay upright on my head where they belong. And gravity can only do so much to that end.
Okaaaayyyy…sidetracked much? Forces rebellious thoughts on business at hand.
Chance César is a brazen B.
I stare ’em down, but only after I pop the collar of the blinding “Orange Crush” tuxedo I’m rockin’ and shrug my shoulders in a sort of what-the-fuck fashion. Rule of thumb in this queen’s life—first things must always come first.
Pop, shrug, and only then is it kosher to stare. I clear my throat.
“Eat your ginger-haired heart out, Ed Sheeran.”
Based on the buzz of scandalized chatter blowing about in the crisp evening breeze, I’m reasonably certain that nobody in the crowd heard me speak. And although several of the girls currently gawking at me may do double backflips over my red-haired counterpart across the pond, they don’t give a rat’s ass about Chance César. In fact, I have a sneaking suspicion that they view my atomic tangerine locks as more reminiscent of Bozo the Clown than of the smexy singer-songwriter.
They are, however, completely unaware that this carrot top is going to make Harvest Moon Festival history tonight.
Refusing to succumb to the impulse to duck my head, I take a single shaky step forward onto the stage that’s been set up on the dusty ground beside a vast—by New England standards—cornfield. The stage doesn’t wobble, but my knees sure as shit do. Okay, I’m an honest diva and I tell it like it is. And I’m what you might call a freaking wreck.
Nonetheless, this brazen B takes a deep breath, blows it out in a single gush, and starts to strut. This boy’s werkin’ it.
Smi-zeee!! Yeah, my smile is painted on, just like my trousers.
Chance, you are by far the edgiest Miss Harvest Moon this ramshackle town has ever had the good fortune to gaze upon. I am a major fan of positive self-talk.
Using the feigned British accent I’ve perfected—thanks to long hours of tedious practice in my bathroom—I dish out my next thought aloud. “I wish I’d put in a tad more practice walking in these bloody heels before going public in ’em.” And despite one slight stumble—a close call to be sure—the clicking sound my pumps make is crisp and confident. I saunter out onto the catwalk.
#TrueConfessions: Faking foreign accents is a hobby of mine. I can yammer it up in improvised French, German, Mexican, Russian, and plenty more accents, but I don’t mimic Asian languages, as it seems too close to ridicule. My plan for the rest of the night is to continue vocalizing my abundant thoughts in Standard British, with a hint of Cockney thrown in for charm. After all, New Hampshire is the “Live Free or Die” state, and I’ll do what I laaaa-like. Yaaasss!
First: Teenagers are ridiculous.
Second: It makes me feel incredibly old to say that.
Third: Chance is exhausting but in the cutest ways
Chance is voted Miss something or other in his towns Miss Something or other pageant, cuz kids are mean, and they thought it would be funny for the boy to be queen… didn’t they realize he’d own it?! If they didn’t, they got schooled….cuz he owned it.
I couldn’t imagine being an openly gay, genderfluid teenager, confused about his gender identity and having to navigate high school in today’s world. People are so intolerant, and ignorant, that it had my heart hurting for the things that he had to put up with. And if we know anything about my rants, its when people get away with being terrible, and those A-holes made high school hard for him, and I hated reading that… Thankfully, Chance has his bestie Emily, and she’s more than just a bestie, she’s the family he doesn’t have. His parents are awful too…. They’re not abusive in any typical sense of the word, but there’s no love there, and that made me sad for him too.
Now, at the miss whatever pageant (it was a cute and clever name, I just don’t remember what it was called), he meets Jasper, who he aptly nicknames Jazz… Jazz is sweet and shy and about fifteen kinds of adorable. His mom works any spare second she can, and Jasper is left juggling school, a job and helping raise his little sister…. Is that not just the cutest?! Chance is quite smitten with him at first site, even though they’ve been going to the same school together, forever.
Unfortunately, two things happen…. One, Jazz already likes Chance but doesn’t just come out and tell him…and two… Chance and Emily come up with the most ridiculous list of ways to make Jazz fall in love with him. Now, some of these were downright stupid, and I couldn’t believe that they A. believed it would work, or B. attempted to try them. No wonder Jazz got the wrong idea, the suggestions were terrible and terribly executed lol though it was entertaining (at times) (other times, exhausting)
So, when the list is almost finished, the only two things left are the only suggestions that he’d have needed all along, it was too late…. Or was it? There are a couple really good lessons in this story, and it would be one I’d let my newly “out” thirteen year old read…. If he could understand the lingo… I’ll admit, there were a couple times I had to be like…what in the world does that mean?!…. You’ll get there though.
If you enjoy YA, overly dramatic, sarcastic and sassy, gender-confused and charming…..or the quiet and shy, simple boy…. Give this one a chance, <wink wink>
4 pieces of eye candy from me
Mia Kerick is the mother of four exceptional children—one in law school, another at a dance conservatory, a third studying at Mia’s alma mater, Boston College, and her lone son still in high school. She has published more than twenty books of LGBTQ romance when not editing National Honor Society essays, offering opinions on college and law school applications, helping to create dance bios, and reviewing English papers. Her husband of twenty-five years has been told by many that he has the patience of Job, but don’t ask Mia about this, as it is a sensitive subject.
Mia focuses her stories on the emotional growth of troubled young people and their relationships. She has a great affinity for the tortured hero in literature, and as a teen, Mia filled spiral-bound notebooks with tales of tortured heroes and stuffed them under her mattress for safekeeping. She is thankful to NineStar Press for providing her with an alternate place to stash her stories.
Her books have been featured in Kirkus Reviews magazine, and have won Rainbow Awards for Best Transgender Contemporary Romance and Best YA Lesbian Fiction, a Reader Views’ Book by Book Publicity Literary Award, the Jack Eadon Award for Best Book in Contemporary Drama, an Indie Fab Award, and a Royal Dragonfly Award for Cultural Diversity, among other awards.
Mia Kerick is a social liberal and cheers for each and every victory made in the name of human rights. Her only major regret: never having taken typing or computer class in school, destining her to a life consumed with two-fingered pecking and constant prayer to the Gods of Technology. Contact Mia at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit at www.miakerickya.com to see what is going on in Mia’s world.