Brian Stagliano’s life should be pretty sweet right now. Two of his closest friends are getting married, and he’s taking a new, exciting step in his career as a doctor. Most amazing though, his best mate has been given the all-clear from cancer. But Brian’s normal has just been tipped A over T and the friendship he’s relied on for years is in danger. All because of five little words.
Andrew Fitzroy should be on top of the world. The cancer that’s haunted him is gone. He can finally get on with his life—except he doesn’t know what that life is anymore. Is he brave enough to come out as bisexual? Should he pursue architecture or stay in construction? Either way, Andrew knows happiness won’t be his until he has what his engaged friends have—love, joy, passion. So, he says those five little words to Brian—I’m in love with you.
Friends since childhood, Brian and Andrew have always been closer than brothers. Best mates. Nothing could ever tear them apart. Except for those five little words. Now, Brian’s not sure about so many things—their friendship, his own desires—and the foundation Andrew’s built his world on feels like its crumbling. But if they manage not to destroy everything they have together, Andrew and Brian might just find a new normal with each other.
Hello! I’m L.J. Hayward and you may know me from the Death and the Devil series, MM romantic suspense about a spy and an assassin. Now I have a new story for you all, the first book in a series of MM contemporary romances set in my home city of the Gold Coast, Australia. The series is called Gold Coast Collage and book one is “The New Normal”, about Brian Stagliano and Andrew Fitzroy, best friends since they were kids. They’ve shared a lot of ups and downs, including the Big C, and now they’ll have to fight to survive the next one as well—the one where Andrew tells Brian that he’s in love with him.
For various reasons, it’s been years since I’ve had a furry/feathered/scaled companion. I do plan on rectifying that soon (I really want a Bengal cat or two!), so until then (to be honest, after then even) I have to satisfy myself with giving my characters pets, so Brian and Andrew have Schrodinger. They also have Archimedes. Occasionally, they have Tolstoy. In other words, Schrody is Archy is Tolly. A cat with enough names he’s actually got an excuse for ignoring them all.
Archy began his life with Andrew and Brian as a weak, scared kitten who hid in Andrew’s shirt. He grew into a large, opinionated cat with a penchant for dairy milk and terrorising the local German Shepherd. Schrody loves his humans in his own way, but his affections are easily bought, depending on who has what he currently wants . . .
Archimedes, currently planted on the end of Brian’s bed grooming himself intimately, looked up at Andrew, gave a purely feline sniff of distaste, and went back to licking his butt.
“Traitor,” Andrew muttered to the cat on his way past to the stairs. He was barely halfway down when the cat trotted past him.
Archy was sitting by the fridge when Andrew got to the kitchen. His purr kicked in like an outboard motor when Andrew opened the fridge. Up on his hind legs, front paws on Andrew’s knee, he smashed his face into his thigh, rubbing one cheek then the other over him.
“Aw, kitty kisses. Someone wants milk.”
Archy/Schrody is based on two cats I’ve had. One was Jerry, a tiny, grey feral kitten my dad rescued from a cane field. Jerry was so little when he came home my mum had to teach him to lap milk. He grew into a beautiful giant, peaceful and patient, and while we never knew his heritage, he looked very much like a Russian Blue. My dad used to vacuum the loose fur off him. The second cat to inspire Archy/Schrody was Lister. He came from the pound and was a feisty, unknown mix who took forever to grow into his huge ears. He was hugely independent and enjoyed lying in ambush for the unwary. When Willow, a cattle dog/German Shepherd mix, joined us, Lister was the boss of her too, even when Willow grew to four times his size. I used to walk Lister on a harness and lead whenever we moved and he needed to learn his new territory because keeping him inside was impossible.
Our pets are important. They’re companions and confidants, giving comfort, loyalty and amusement. My characters are always going to have pets, even if they aren’t conventional ones.
I’ll start off with this…there was a lot going on in this book, almost too much. There were ex’s all over the place, some sleezy people, lots of friends around and in the MC’s business, and a cat who shan’t (literally) be named. Amongst all that, there were two MC’s who had clearly been together in every sense except the actual physical sense. They lived together (except when they fought), had a cat together, and carried each other through the toughest of times.
It was very clear from the beginning that these two loved each other, and so I have to say I was honestly fairly shocked that Brian became so hung up initially over Andrew’s telling him he loved him. However, as the book continued, it became clear that Brian had his own issues to deal with, since he was not out as bisexual either. That was a wild ride, as well. lol
In the end, what I enjoyed most about the book (besides the cat who could never be named, but also was quite sassy) was that the relationship evolved for them. No pressure from Andrew that Brian had to come out, once they were together. They just found a good rhythm that worked for both of them. Their friends were a bit nosy, but definitely had their friends best interests at heart…most of the time. 🙂
I enjoyed watching the evolution of these two, as they went about their daily lives, trying to figure out what was best for them together and separate. Also, as an aside, because of the book, I had to look up what chicken spaghetti was, and then made it over the weekend. Delicious! Try it. I recommend the Pioneer Woman recipe. lol
I definitely want to see what a second book in this series looks like. 🙂
4 pieces of eye candy
Hi! I’m L.J. Hayward and I’ll be your author for this biography.
L.J. Hayward has been telling stories for most of her life, a good deal of them of the tall variety. She loves reading but doesn’t seem to have enough time between wanting to be a more disciplined writer, being the actual erratic writer she is, and working for dollars in a dungeon laboratory. She also lives on the Gold Coast in Queensland, but rarely sees a beach and can’t surf, though she thinks living on a houseboat might be fun. At least then she’d have an excuse to get a cat.
Me Just Rambling & Stuff
I’ve been telling tales (some of them of the tall variety) for most of my life. The first book I ever produced was about Easter, as I recall, and was written in crude pictographs. In my defence, I reckon I was about three. Stapler-binding was the format of choice (way, way before the advent of the e-book). First story with words (and pictures) was about a trip to the moon, in which I included the exhaustive research I did on the matter by saying it took three days to get there. Sadly, the trip was cut short when a puddle of blood (!! – quite gory for its day and age) was discovered on the moon, so the characters had to leave before the murderous aliens found them. Nail bitting stuff!
Beyond that, I don’t recall exactly when I began to think seriously about writing. I always enjoyed a creative writing exercise in high school, but hated scientific writing in university. Not enough room for drama or humour or unicorns. But even before I began writing stories down, I was writing them in my head. Serious writing started around the mid-twenties. Good writing started a couple of years later. Even better writing is still in progress.
As a pathology scientist, blood and medicine is a big part of my life and, naturally, have an influence on my writing. My first book, Blood Work, had its origins in how blood behaves in transfusions (vampires drinking blood is basically a transfusion, right? Right.).
Of course, recently I’ve moved into M/M romantic suspense, with the publication of Where Death Meets the Devil. I’m blaming Manna Francis’s Administration series for hooking me into the wonderfully wide and diverse realm of queer fiction. It’s a genre pool I plan on wallowing in for good long while. 😉
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