The Rodeo Knight
Sam’s Café Romances: Book Three
Struck by amnesia after a car crash, Brian Stouten has been living a life laid out by his family, a heterosexual life that just doesn’t fit. When he learns it was all a lie, he returns to the small college town that’s his only clue to his past. But the town is still unfamiliar, and the man he’d hoped would make all his memories return is on a honeymoon with another man. To add insult to injury, everyone thinks Brian died in the crash. It’s only when an out-of-place cowboy asks to bum a smoke that Brian realizes this trip was meant to be.
Sylvester Thomas has always fought a secret desire, and done it successfully. But when geeky Brian offers him a smoke and a light, a simple brush of hands has Sylvester’s hidden passions burning deep. Did he make a mistake letting Brian walk away?
The Chess Master Chronicles (Dreamspinner)
Sam’s Cafe Romances books 1-3, print only:
*Runs in* Am I on time? Did I make it? *wipes brow* Thank goodness.
I’m Ashavan Doyon and I’m so pleased to be here at Two Chicks Obsessed with Books and Eye Candy. Two great things to be obsessed by! I’m here today to talk about The Rodeo Knight, my newest release with Dreamspinner Press. It doesn’t come by itself though! As book three of a series, it comes with a rerelease of The King’s Mate (a true second edition that is almost twice the length of the original novella) and the release of a print only edition of an anthology that collects all three of the Sam’s Café Romances into a single volume — The Chess Master Chronicles. I received my copies yesterday and they are gorgeous!
Well yes, I’m biased. Of course I am. But then, Bree Archer does beautiful work. The covers are stunning and I was so very pleased that they were able to get Bree, who did the original artwork for A Wounded Promise, to come back and do new designs for The King’s Mate (as a short story in a novella, it never had unique cover art) and The Rodeo Knight. That process was really fun and interesting and I got to see a lot of options. For The King’s Mate we were a bit more limited, since we didn’t want to show the love interest on that cover, and the model was established, I really only had two poses to choose from. For The Rodeo Knight we went back and forth a lot more. It was important to me that the model look like a geek and not a GQ model trying to look like a geek. I think the cover achieves that for Brian nicely.
For the record, I too am obsessed with books and eye candy. I’m so far behind on my reading I don’t even want to think about it most days. Like a lot of people I read to relax (and look at eye candy to relax, go figure). But as a US resident we’ve been dealing with an election, and the vitriol on both sides has been at a ridiculous high. I’d had hopes it would normalize after the election but I think we all know how that went. So, I’m reading before everything gets censored I hope, and I’m looking at eye candy … likewise. Yes, I have a favorite porn studio. No, I don’t model my characters after the porn models, though I know authors who do that. For me it’s the face more than the body that makes the porn star, and you can see that in my choices for covers. A Wounded Promise, Justin in his hoodie staring right at you. The stare from the cover of I Almost Let You is similar.
When talking about The Rodeo Knight, it’s natural to talk about our chess master, Brian. He is, after all, the return character. Russ’s partner and (almost) husband back from the dead. Makes for some great interesting drama, and it overshadows our other primary character a little.
This was a hard story to write because there’s folks who want the true love between Brian and Russ to win out. But Russ has his happy ending from the first two stories. And it was important to me not to destroy that, though the revelation that Brian is alive certainly brings some drama to Russ’s life for a while. How and why Brian can set that aside is something the story explains. But that same why also leaves Brian open to a new romance, and that romance has a name: Sylvester.
Even though Sylvester is only in his mid-twenties, he understands some of what our amnesiac hero is going through. Sylvester has also lost his entire life because of an accident. A competitive bull rider who poured his life into his work, a freak accident has cost him everything, including the shield that he used to stay alone.
What we know about Sylvester is that he was good. He spent his winnings on his parents and his family. He had some saved, but because of the medical bills from his accident, they’re barely covering his school. This is partly his own fault. He didn’t go to school nearby. He didn’t try for a community college. He ran away, someplace far. Someplace liberal. Someplace no one would take him to a rodeo (though Brian tries!) and he might, if he was brave, be able to finally be himself. He gets to the University and finds himself too broke and too embarrassed by that to pursue anyone. Until he meets Brian.
I liked the idea of a young man in a sporting career who has to start over because it resonated so well with Brian’s own loss of memory. Why a cowboy (well, bull rider)? Because I’m Texan, and I always thought they were sexy. Don’t you? I think if you’re interested in the story you probably do. Cowboys were some of my first sexy images of men as a boy. In the city, the rodeo meant country music and going to the Astrodome to see this epitome of masculinity. It was a touch of country to a city boy even though I was from the suburbs. To this day, I love a man in a cowboy hat who needs just a touch of a shave.
Worse, I’m a product of my generation. I couldn’t make the image work, for me, without putting a cigarette in his mouth. Marlboro man did his job well. But that also gave me a way to have my cowboy and my chess master meet. One of the few things we knew about Brian going into the story (from A Wounded Promise) is that he was a chain smoker.
I hope you enjoy how I portray Sylvester in The Rodeo Knight. If you haven’t already checked it out, there’s a post today at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words with an interview – I talk about my experience with books as a kid and when I first started writing. And I’ll talk more about the second edition of The King’s Mate tomorrow at Tammy’s Two Cents. Until then, you can always contact me through my website www.ashavandoyon.com
This was the first book I’ve read by Ashavan Doyon. Unfortunately, I didn’t read books 1 and 2, in this series. I might have connected more with the secondary characters, if I had. Although the book seemed a little disjointed in places to me, I know that was likely because I was jumping into the middle of a series. I think I’d like to go back and read books 1 and 2, to get more of a feel for the entire series.
I can see why this might have been difficult to write for the author, with the character having been declared deceased previously, and the surviving husband having moved on. Readers of the first two books would be rooting for Russ to stay with Justin, and still rooting for the MC Brian to still get his HEA, which they both do. However, walking on that tightrope must have been a challenge for the author, and I applaud his efforts. That fine line between wanting a grief stricken former spouse to find a way out of what would be a new type of grief, and yet having read his recovery story might be troubling to some readers.
I think the author did a fantastic job of that. Brian didn’t have any feelings for his former spouse. Period. He thought he should, and yet didn’t. He had instant feelings for Sylvester, and moved forward with those feelings right away. He didn’t hesitate and worry about how other people in the town would see it, he had his life back and wanted to get to living it right away. He’d been forced to live through one hell, then forced to live another hell his parents thrust upon him.
Sylvester was sweet and so proud. Not willing to show a weakness if he could avoid it. He needed someone who was willing to jump all in with him, because he would never have taken that step forward on his own.
There are things I would have liked to see more resolution with. I was left wondering how Russ and Justin were able to move forward and deal with it. I was left wondering how they integrated into the fabric of the community. And I was left wondering if there was resolution with Brian’s parents.
I enjoyed the writing style of the author, and appreciated how very different all of the characters personality quirks were written. They were integral parts of the characters, and the author made sure to keep them incorporated throughout the book.
3.5 pieces of eye candy.
The King’s Mate
Sam’s Café Romances: Book One
Russell Pine comes to Sam’s Café every morning to enjoy the best coffee in town and to chat with Sam Tesh, the owner, a loyal friend for the past twenty years. When Sam offers him a challenge, Russ reluctantly takes it on, acting as the master opponent in a chess tournament. As the days pass and the hopefuls fall to the chess mastermind one by one, Russ discovers that the contest isn’t the only game being played.
Russ finds himself the focus of a secret courtship through words and pictures left for him to discover each morning. Will a hint of cologne on the paper lead him to his admirer? In a café full of young and beautiful minds, who is looking at the graying chess master?
First Edition published by Dreamspinner Press, June 2013.
The Chess Master Chronicles (Dreamspinner)
Sam’s Cafe Romances books 1-3, print only:
For fifteen years, Ashavan Doyon worked with students in the student affairs office of a liberal arts college. He recently decided to shake things up a little, and is now working in the publications and communications office at the college. During lunch, evenings, and when he can escape the grasp of his husband on weekends, he writes, pounding out words day after day in hopes that his ancient typewriter-trained fingers won’t break the glass on his tablet computer. Ashavan is an avid science fiction and fantasy fan and prefers to write while listening to music that fits the mood of his current story. He has no children, but lavishes attention on his sole remaining fur child, a very elderly pug. A Texan by birth, he currently lives in New England, and frequently complains of the weather.
Ashavan went to school at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, getting his degree in Russian and East European Studies, with a focus in language and literature. He has two incomplete manuscripts from college that he goes back compulsively to fiddle with every so often, but is still not happy with either of them. He still loves fantasy and science fiction and reads constantly in the moments between writing stories.
You can find me online at: