When a single kiss calls your sexuality into question, there’s only one sure path to a reliable answer: further research.
I like to think I know myself outside and in. As a developmental psychologist, I’ve spent years exploring the true foundations of my identity. So, when losing a bet means kissing my best friend, Logan, I already know I’m going to hate every second of it. All the relevant questions regarding my sexuality were asked and answered years ago. The results were conclusive: despite the odd same-sex attraction, I dislike being touched by men.
That is, it seems, until Logan is the man doing the touching. The intense desire aroused by his kiss contradicts all my expectations and I have no idea how to integrate the new information. Thankfully, I know exactly how to uncover the truth about myself—once and for all.
I’ve put a lot of effort into keeping Patrick out of my fantasies and in the friend-zone. Our recent lip-lock may have unleashed my feelings for him temporarily, but I’ll get them back on their platonic track in no time. Falling for a friend, especially a sexually ambivalent friend, is a one-way ticket to heartache.
But, when the unforeseen impact of our kiss inspires Patrick to conduct an experiment into the extent of his bisexuality, I can’t resist volunteering to help. If any man is going to join Patrick on his journey of self-discovery, it’s sure as hell going to be me.
Book Title: The Experiment
Author: Rebecca Raine
Cover Artist: Bec Rivers
Release Date: Tuesday, 18 August (AEST)
Genre/s: Contemporary MM Romance
Trope/s: Friends-to-Lovers, Gay for You, First-time Gay
Themes: Friendship, Self-discovery, Self-experimentation
Heat Rating: 4 flames
Length: 85 000 words/ approx. 210 pages
It is a standalone book.
The prized possession you value above all others…
My phone. My entire life is organized through my phone. I would be completely lost without it.
The unqualified regret you wish you could amend…
Buying a two-door car. I had no idea I’d be still be driving that car around after giving birth to two children years later. Do you have any idea how hard it is to fit a baby car seat into one of those things? Because I sure as hell do!
The temptation you wish you could resist…
YouTube. I love YouTube! There is soooo much to watch: fan-made videos of all my favourite couples; lessons from my favourite self-development gurus; tips for organizing my life, work and home. I can get lost in YouTube for hours. Some of my favourite channels include: Lessons from the Screenplay, Binging with Babish, and Primitive Technology Man. If I ever get stranded on a desert island, I with totally know how to build a hut.
The film you can watch time and time again…
A Room with a View. It was one of my favourite movies as a teenager. It’s everything I adore in a movie … beautiful, funny and romantic. I can happily watch Lucy and George fall in love over and over again.
The unlikely interest that engages your curiosity…
Graphic design. I started making graphics when I joined Instagram in February of 2019. The more I play with pictures the more I love trying new and interesting techniques. I’ve really enjoyed watching my own development over the past year and a half.
The poem that touches your soul…
Invictus by William Ernest Henley. I love the poem so much I incorporated it into one of my novels, All the Broken Pieces.
The song that means the most to you…
Uprising by Muse. It’s a kick-arse song that always gets the blood pumping.
The unfulfilled ambition that continues to haunt you…
Supporting my family with my writing income. That’s the big dream. I will keep whacking away at that thing until I conquer it. Or die trying. 😊
Your early recollections of writing fiction…
I was in Grade 4 when I wrote a story for school. It was a sweeping saga set during the American Civil War (I’d recently watched Gone with the Wind) and featured a brave and beautiful heroine. It had some minor historical inaccuracies (like the heroine finding out the war was over when she heard it on the radio) but I clearly remember getting lost in the telling of that tale. Then, one day, I arrived at school to be told I was supposed to have finished it over the weekend. I hurriedly wrote a ‘and then I woke up’ ending and handed it in. The teacher loved it… except for the disappointing ending. I don’t blame her.
The crime you would commit knowing you could get away with it…
I would absolutely rob a bank. Gimme the cash!
The philosophy that underpins your life…
You can’t fail if you never give up. I may not be fast, but I am bloody tenacious.
The character you enjoyed writing the most…
Oh no, that’s like trying to choose between children. I suppose the character I enjoyed most was Jeremy (from Everything We Need and All the Broken Pieces). Probably because, of all my characters, he was the most ‘real’ to me. He’s the character I never made up. Instead, he waltzed into my head, fully formed, and introduced himself.
The character you found difficult to write…
Harrison (also from All the Broken Pieces) because he hurt the most. He suffered from Major Depressive Disorder and went through a depressive episode during the book. Put that together with his painful backstory and… well, I shed quite a few tears spending time with Harrison.
The book you enjoyed planning/writing the most…
That would definitely be my latest book, The Experiment. I never felt like I had to plot this book. Instead, the whole story downloaded into my head fully formed and all I had to do was roll with it. There was still a lot of work involved in the actual writing part, but I always knew the story was there. That took a ton of the pressure off, leaving me free to have fun with it.
And the promo…
Tell us something about your new release, The Experiment.
The Experiment is a contemporary MM romance. It contains friends-to-lovers, gay-for-you and first-time-gay tropes and has a solid HEA. There’s plenty of fun to be had, a little angst, and hot sexy times.
At its core, The Experiment is a story of self-awareness. It’s the push and pull between what we believe to be true about ourselves, and the subconscious parts of us that lurk deep beneath the surface. What would you do if you uncovered a part of yourself—an intensely vibrant part—that you had no idea was there? Would you want to learn more?
Where did the idea for The Experiment come from?
I was at home, minding my own business one day, when a new idea came to me in a flash of inspiration. I could see a man trying to psyche himself up to kiss another man, even though he really didn’t want to. I knew they were in a bar, and that he was doing it to satisfy a lost bet, but other than that I had no idea what was going on.
Then the man turned to his friend, who was sitting beside him, and said, “You know, mate, this would be a hell of a lot easier if you’d quit laughing.” In that instant, I knew the friend was the man he would end up kissing, and he would be anything but reluctant by the end of it.
I loved the idea so much I grabbed a notebook and pen and spent the next hour furiously scribbling down every detail I could come up with. That scene became the opening of The Experiment and that one line of dialogue is still there, exactly the way Patrick said it the first time.
What makes The Experiment different from other novels?
One of the interesting quirks of this book is that it isn’t set out in chapters. Instead, it’s divided into the sections of a research experiment. Including the Research Question, Participants and Methodology, and Data Gathering, all the way through to the Conclusion. It was an idea I had early in the planning, and it grabbed me from the start. The more I wrote the more the idea seemed to fit. By the end, I couldn’t imagine setting it out any other way.
Are you more like Patrick or Logan?
My personality definitely shows up more in Patrick’s character. Like Patrick, my background is in psychology. And, while I’m not as obsessed with self-awareness as Patrick, I am well and truly an overthinker. There is nothing I like better than experimenting with new tricks and techniques to find better ways of doing things. They usually have to do with trying to figure out how to write faster.
“You can do your experiment with me.”
My heart pounds, as I wait for him to respond to my offer. The part of me that’s sure he’ll say yes is already weak with relief that he won’t go out looking for anyone else. I don’t want other men touching Patrick. If he’s only ever going to do this experiment with one man, I want that man to be me.
“I thought you wanted to go back to the way things were.” His gaze is wary, and he has yet to move a muscle. “We’re friends, nothing more. That’s what you said.”
“Yes, and it’s still true,” I assure him. “I do want to go back to being friends. But we can do it after the experiment.”
His breath has quickened and, when he speaks again, his voice is rough. “Are you sure you want to do this?”
“It’s the best viable solution,” I tell him, as if coating my possessiveness with a thick layer of pragmatism will make it less obvious. “Don’t forget, it was my kiss that breathed life into your queerness.” My body reacts to the idea of doing it again… and again… and again. However many times he needs to be satisfied. I make a show of licking my lips, enjoying the way he watches with rapt attention. “How much do you want to bet I can get more than a boner out of you?”
With a start, his eyes narrow and he points a finger at me. “No more bets.”
Laughing out loud, I nod. “That’s right. How could I forget?”
He runs a hand over the back of his neck as he looks around the bar, before returning his gaze to me. “I’ll admit, when I decided to do this, my first instinct was to come to you.” He gestures at me with an impatient hand. “You’re the only guy I’ve ever enjoyed kissing and it totally blew my mind. Why do you think I’m doing this in the first place?” he growls, his frustration coming through. “It’s not just because of what happened when we kissed. It’s the fact I can’t stop thinking about it.”
He’s not the only one. I’ve rubbed my cock raw in remembrance. The urge to shove him back against the nearby wall washes over me. I want to give him something new to think about. Ignoring the impulse, I swallow hard and speak in a low voice. “When you’re thinking about it, are these analytical thoughts about what it all means? Or are they wanking thoughts?”
He glances away, trying to appear nonchalant. “Both.”
My muscles tighten at the thought of him with his hand wrapped around his throbbing dick, fantasising about kissing me while he pants and moans his way to orgasm. I want to know what he looks like when he comes. What he sounds like. How he feels.
“But,” he says, with emphasis, interrupting the lustfest going on in my head, “I decided against it because I know you don’t—” The words cut off and his eyes close briefly. “I don’t want us to stop being friends.”
“I don’t want that either but, Patrick, you’re playing with fire here and assuming no one will steal the matches. I’m the only one I trust to do this right.”
He’s still reluctant. I can feel the force of his doubts. But he hasn’t said no.
“Patrick, listen to me.” I slide a hand around the back of his neck, urging him to meet my gaze. “You need someone you can trust to stop when you say stop, no matter what’s happening when you say it. Someone who won’t get pissed at you and accuse you of being a tease when you leave them with blue balls.” Releasing him, I grin. “Besides, you tried looking for someone else to kiss. It didn’t work. You chose me and now you’re stuck with me for the duration.”
He huffs out an indignant sound. “I could find someone else to kiss,” he blusters, “if I looked really hard… for about ten years.”
I laugh out loud, knowing I almost have him convinced. “Yeah, but even if you did, it wouldn’t matter.”
“Why is that?” He leans closer, as if he’s looking forward to my response.
In that instant, I realise how badly I want this—him. I want to tug on every thread of his sexuality, freeing each strand for thorough inspection. I want to tie him in knots, before making him unravel for me. And I want him to know, every second along the way, I’m the one who is doing this to him. That I’m the only man to ever make him feel this way.
Licking my lips, I take a step closer and bring my face in next to his. “Because even if you did hit your limit with someone else, you’d always wonder how much further I could have taken you.” I lower my head, so he can feel my breath against his neck as I go in for the kill. “Patrick, my friend, I’m going to drag your arse so far down my end of the spectrum, you’ll have to claw your way straight.”
Sorry, nope. I was 5% and already had 3 notes written about eye rolling things. Two of them were questionable language/phrasing. “Tickling man tonsils”? Seriously? And “He comes across as a breeder”. Sorry, but I take offense with that term.
And the last was “We don’t hang out all the time because you rub me the wrong way.” Said from one friend to another. When they both want to sleep with each other. Who tells a friend that they rub them the wrong way?
After those I had to go to Amazon and look up the author to see if I had read anything else by her. Big nope. Why? I think all but 2 or 3 were traditional hetero romances. It just makes me wonder why she then decided to write gay romance. Because it is popular? Sorry, go back to what you know.
I read the whole thing. It wasn’t AS cringy as the first 5%, but it wasn’t great. So much stereotyping. So much just silliness. Patrick is in a master’s program for developmental psychology and to justify his feelings for his friend Logan (out of the closet gay) he wants to approach it as an experiment.
He decided as a teenager that he was straight. That’s nice, but a developmental psychologist focusing on human sexuality will KNOW that sexuality is fluid. So, duh.
Logan was already kept a secret by another friend and it ruined a life long friendship. And he is going to do it again?
I’m sorry, it was just not a good book at all. Get a good beta reader (or 5) who know MM romance. Because this wasn’t it.
Rebecca is a long-time lover of all things romance. Whether it’s a book, movie, or real life, she will always have more fun if there’s a love interest thrown into the mix. She lives in Queensland, Australia with her very own hero husband, two quirky kids and one big, black dog. Other than reading and writing books, her favourite things include loud music, enjoying a glass of wine on the patio, organising everything in existence, and spending too much time on the Internet.
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