We love it when authors stop by TCO to talk about their latest releases (or even old releases!), and I’m very excited to have Kilby Blades stop by and talk about her latest release, Adam Bomb. I kept putting off reading this book, not because I didn’t want to read it, but because I was a little too excited to read it, and wanted to allow myself to relax a little and take the time to enjoy it. 🙂 And the author interview that Kilby has below hits on a topic that was very prevalent in the book, the heritages of these two very different, but so compatible men. With two heritages that are just not seen often in romance novels, it was fantastic to see how they were able to integrate their worlds. Take a peek and let us know what you think!
Levi Cossio’s best friend Adam has always been larger than life: a smoking-hot billionaire hotelier whose charm can bend the world to his whim. When New York City stops being big enough for both of them—at least if Levi ever wants to fall out of love with Adam—he leaves it behind for a job in in San Francisco.
But when Adam pulls an Adam—upending the calm new life Levi has come to love with a plea to lend his talent to a worthy cause—Levi is helpless to resist. Adam will be the first Fortune 100 CEO to come out of the closet on a grand scale. He needs a trusted ally on his PR team. Levi is a lauded portrait photographer. And the job will only last three weeks.
Levi accepts on one hidden condition: he’ll keep his new friends away from Adam, certain that if they get a whiff, they, too, will fall under Adam’s spell. Bent on keeping his two lives separate, Levi barely makes it through the first two weeks unscathed—and then Adam drops another bomb….
Q: So your heroes are named Levi and Adam. Can you describe them for us, physically? You know…not that we care whether they’re hot.
Kilby: (Laughs). Well they are hot and I’d date both of them, ideally at the same time. Levi’s the one on the cover of the book. He’s got hazel eyes and a cropped beard and this really silky hair that kind of falls in front of his eyes and that he’s always pushing back so he can look through the view finder of his camera (he’s a photographer). Adam is an inch or two taller, so about six-foot-two. He’s also got dark hair and he vacillates between being clean shaven and letting it go until he has a little sexy stubble, but he also has a dimple that Levi really loves. Adam’s other distinctive feature are his golden eyes.
Q: Can you say more about heritage? The two heroes in Adam Bomb have backgrounds that are seldom represented in romance. How did you come up with their characters?
Kilby: Levi’s parents are from Argentina, but Levi himself has never been to Argentina; that circumstance—as well as South American identity—aligns to my own family ties. Adam’s parents are from Iran and his ethnicity is Persian Jewish. His family is loosely based on the family of a friend of mine. Being raised by driven, ambitious immigrant parents explains the parallels in some of their world views. But a lot of the tension between them comes from the inevitable encroachment of their class differences. Their dynamic is one I’ve personally lived. They’re dealing with some layered issues related to that.
Q: Uh-oh. Adam Bomb sounds angsty. Is it?
Kilby: There’s no high angst on the page. Actually, there are a lot of funny parts because Adam and Levi are best friends of twenty years, so they’re half-old married couple, half-bro banter and they really enjoy one another. The chemistry is really fun. Still, Levi is desperately trying to fall out of love with Adam and when he makes the unilateral decision to move to San Francisco, it forces both of them to talk about what it means for their friendship.
Q: Let me get this straight: Levi is in love with Adam so he moves away from where Adam is? How does this remotely make sense?
Kilby: (Laughs). It’s an act of self-preservation. Not only is Levi in love with Adam—Levi has been in love with Adam for ten years. He’s never going to tell Adam because he’s not willing to risk losing their amazing friendship in case things get weird. And he’s also realized he can never get over Adam if they live in the same city. Adam has been away from the U.S. for nine months because he was running the Tehran hotel. When the story starts and Adam announces he’ll be there for an extended stay, it upsets the cocoon of psychological safety Levi has built. That’s where the title comes from: Adam Bomb.
Q: So Adam Bomb means that Adam’s return is running, or, “bombing” Levi’s plan?
Kilby: Adam has a big personality and he has a tendency to disrupt. Levi has a tendency to get steamrolled by Adam. But it’s more nuanced than that—Adam isn’t a heartless, oblivious dick and Levi isn’t a shrinking violet. Like a lot of relationships, it’s complicated 🙂
Three things happened to Levi every time he saw Adam: anticipation prickled his neck, he quelled the impulse to wet his lips, and his dick got a little hard. Then there was the tunnel vision thing—the way that, when Adam walked into a room, noises dulled and periphery faded for a pregnant moment and there was no one but the two of them.
They weren’t alone, of course. Adam was never alone. Today, a gaggle of smartly dressed flight attendants flocked around him.
“Fucking Adam,” Levi muttered. Even as he shook his head, Levi’s lips curved into a smile. Adam didn’t notice him at first. But that was the way it always was—Adam busy noticing whoever’s pheromone he liked best, and bystanders busy noticing Adam.
Levi had forgotten how comical it could be. Adam had that kind of charisma. When he walked into a room, records scratched to astonished silence, and people stopped what they were doing to look. Levi had seen babies stop crying to smile at him and fierce-looking dogs leave their masters’ sides to be petted by this man. It wasn’t just Levi. Everyone was attracted to Adam.
Recollection of what a nuisance Adam’s ridiculous magic could be didn’t stop Levi’s grin from widening. The man was a golden-eyed god. He had his Iranian-born parents to thank for regal bone structure, pouty lips, and luminous, polished-bronze skin. Levi appreciated Adam’s utter perfection as a specimen of the male ideal just as much as anyone else. But unlike everyone else, Levi saw Adam for more than sex on legs. Levi knew his heart. They’d known one another since they were boys.
“Come out with us tonight.” A flight attendant in a dark pencil skirt suit smiled with suggestive lips painted in the same shade of vermilion as the ascot around her neck.
“Sorry, babe… I got plans.” Adam said it with a billion-dollar smile. She leaned in and gazed at him dreamily, as if he’d just invited her to join him in a suite at the Kerr instead of turning her down flat. Adam was the only person Levi knew who could hand someone a steaming, stinking shit burger and have the person he served it to beg him for more.
And just like that, Adam’s gaze slid right to Levi—with precision—as if he’d known where Levi stood all along. Adam kept walking, never missing a beat, disentangling both women from beneath his arms.
“Sonofabitch,” Adam said, the corner of one lip quirking into a smile and his eyes glowing soft embers as he looked at Levi; it was a frat boy thing to say, but Adam was kind of a bro. Adam threw his arms around Levi and they shared a bear of a long hug.
“I missed you, brother,” Adam murmured a second before releasing his embrace and holding Levi by the shoulders, at arm’s length. He said it with earnest intensity that got Levi every time.
I waited a bit to read this book, for several reasons. I was a little too excited to read it, because I knew it had many elements that I love, and I wanted to give myself time to chill out and read it with that mindset. But also, sometimes when you are too excited, there’s a concern that a book is bound to let you down. I shouldn’t have been concerned. The author absolutely didn’t let me down.
As this is a category romance, it had one of the classic tropes of unrequited love. And poor Levi, he had it BAD! He loves his best friend, and he’s in love with his best friend. And he’s not willing to risk his best friend in order to love him by being physically close to him. He knew he needed to keep his distance, so that he had a chance to find a life that didn’t revolve around his love for Adam. I was very impressed with what he did. He was confident, moved himself across the country, took his career to new heights, and was able to make new friends, and a new life for himself that did not include Adam.
Until Adam decided to insert himself there. And so the story begins. 🙂
Adam was definitely a force to be reckoned with. That much personality is hard to come up against and come out the other side feeling like you are not second best. Levi did a great job of doing that, and trying to keep his two lives separate was his mental way of keeping that in place. However, Adam being Adam, he did not allow that for long. 🙂
I loved that their heritages were a huge part of who they were, and ones that are rarely represented in any romance genre, much less m/m romance. However, it wasn’t everything about them, even as some of their motives were driven by their heritages.
The author broke the book into four parts (more three in my eyes, but who am I? 🙂 ) and it was definitely relevant to how the book played out. This isn’t often done, but it provided the reader with the opportunity to see how things evolved during the course of the changing of these two best friends relationships.
This easily could have been way more angsty, but by it being a category romance, I’m glad it was fairly low angst. Levi loved his best friend, just as much as he was in love with him. He never wanted to change him, just to change how they loved each other. With Adam, the type of person he was, that easily could have been a huge issue. That is a lot of personality to go up against.
Overall, I recommend it, especially if you love the trope of unrequited best friend love. That is on the mark 100%.
4 pieces of eye candy
Kilby Blades is a 40-time-award-winning author of Romance and Women’s Fiction. Her debut novel, Snapdragon, was a HOLT Medallion finalist, a two-time Publisher’s Weekly BookLife Prize Semi-Finalist, and an IPPY Award medalist. Kilby was honored with an RSJ Emma Award for Best Debut Author in 2018, and has been lauded by critics for “easing feminism and equality into her novels” (IndieReader) and “writing characters who complement each other like a fine wine does a good meal” (Publisher’s Weekly).