After his father’s heart attack, Isaiah Morrell gave up cooking in his own high-end Atlanta restaurant to return home to Reynolds, North Carolina, in order to help his father Thomas heal and to keep an eye on his business Neighborhood Shindig. A collection of food trucks and other small businesses, Shindig is a popular destination in this college town, but Isaiah longs for the fast pace of a big-city kitchen. Until he meets Joel…
Joel Fisher has been out of commission from a serious illness for the better part of a year, but now he’s ready to reclaim his life—except his apartment has been sublet, his partner is missing, and their shared food truck is stripped of everything not attached. In short, Joel has nothing. After an uncomfortable night sleeping on the food truck floor, Isaiah and Thomas Morrell give Joel an offer he can’t refuse: a rented room in their house, as well as their help creating a new food truck concept. Joel hates accepting charity, but he’s hit rock bottom and has nowhere to go but up.
Working with seemingly uptight Isaiah is actually pretty fun, and the pair bonds over a challenge to create a unique grilled cheese sandwich. Light flirting melts into a deeper connection neither man expects, but Isaiah isn’t in Reynolds for much longer, and Joel can’t get attached to the gorgeous professional chef. As Isaiah’s feelings for Joel strengthen and grow, he entertains the idea of staying in Neighborhood Shindig for good—but Joel hasn’t asked him to…
Welcome to Neighborhood Shindig, a friendly place where you can snack on a lamb kebab while getting your hair done, pick up your favorite herbal tea blend, and then go listen to live music under the pavilion. We’re happy to have you.
Neighborhood Shindig Series, Book #1
Contemporary MM Romance
Release Date: 06.13.19
Cover Designer: Sloan J Designs/https://www.facebook.com/sloanjdesigns/
Hey, y’all! Thank you for having me at Two Chicks Obsessed. I’m A.M. Arthur, and I write LBGTQ+ romance across the spectrum of both sexualities and subgenres. I’m here today to celebrate the recent release of my brand-new food truck-centered series, Neighborhood Shindig. The first book in the series, Melting For You, kicks it off with Joel Fisher, a young guy with a run of bad luck, and Isaiah Morrell, the spoiled son of a locally renowned chef. Together, the pair hatch a plan to open up a gourmet grilled cheese food truck, and naturally shenanigans ensue—and the pair falls in love.
Now Neighborhood Shindig probably sounds like an odd name for a romance series, and it’s named after the main location of the books. Set in the fictional down of Reynolds, North Carolina. Shindig is a fenced-in private lot with six stationary food trucks, eight small business shops (called pods), and a big open-air pavilion in the middle with picnic tables for guests. It’s an eclectic place with no two businesses alike, and also a safe space for people to come, enjoy live music while snacking on a bowl of gourmet nachos, and maybe get your nails done while you’re at it (after the nachos, of course).
One of my favorite aspects of writing series romance is being able to use a setting as a character in and of itself. To give a location its own personality and make readers feel as if they’ve visited it simply because the characters have. Heidi Cullinan did this so well for the town of Logan in her Minnesota Christmas series, and by the end of book one (Let It Snow) I felt like I’d been to Logan myself. K.A. Mitchell made Baltimore, Maryland, come alive in her Bad in Baltimore series (book one Bad Boyfriend) by featuring locations well-known to locals, while still putting a creative spin on things. Also, the town of Zebulon leapt to life in Keira Andrews’ Amish books (starting with A Forbidden Rumspringa).
I tried to make Neighborhood Shindig as a location come alive for readers by giving it fun characters, unique food truck concepts (admittedly some more than others), as well as interesting small business pods to shop in. I hope I’ve intrigued you enough to pay your own visit to Shindig and dive into Melting For You!
What are some of your favorite book series where the location is just as important a character as the people on the page?
Joel found a parking spot near his building and got out, grateful to stretch sore, aching limbs. Long car rides were more difficult for him now, and he’d tried to stop as infrequently as possible, so eager to surprise Steve. Joel scanned the lot for Steve’s hatchback. It was midday on Tuesday, so the Shindig lot was closed—it gave not only the small business owners who rented pods, but also the owner/manager one full day off a week. Didn’t mean Steve had to be home, though.
Their unit was on the fourth floor, no elevator, and Joel hated that he was panting a bit by the time he got there. Definitely needed to start working out more, get back into shape. He was already tall and lean, but he’d lost about fifteen pounds of muscle this past year.
Excitement rolled through his belly as he put his key into their unit’s lock and turned—except it didn’t unlock. He double-checked, but yeah, right door and right key.
Maybe Steve had needed to change the locks for some reason? He pushed the doorbell and waited, trying to fight back a big smile. The knob rattled and a chain slid back. The door opened about a foot and a dark-haired woman stared at him. “Can I help you?” she asked.
Joel blinked hard. “Um, does Steve Winslow live here?”
Don’t I live here?
“Not since the first of the month,” the woman replied. “He had to move suddenly, so I’m sub-leasing it through the end of the month, until my place is ready downstairs. Who are you?”
“Joel. I live here.”
“Oh, right, you’re the ex he mentioned.”
“Ex?” Ex what? He’d texted Steve yesterday about frivolous things, and Steve hadn’t said a damned thing about sub-leasing their place. A place Joel had paid this month’s rent on. “What do you mean ex?”
“He said you guys broke up, so you moved back to live with your parents in Virginia, and he’s moving…somewhere, I don’t think he said where. But your stuff is still here. He packed it up and left it in the hall closet.”
Joel did not understand what was happening right now. “We didn’t break up. We have a business together for God’s sake. I don’t understand.”
“Listen, do you want to come inside and sit? You look pale.”
“Um, yeah, thanks.”
The apartment was small, one-bedroom and only about six hundred square feet. It had come furnished, so none of the big stuff was his, and he’d taken clothing and his electronics with him to Virginia. Those personal things were in his car right now, waiting to be unpacked.
He sat on the familiar sofa, legs suddenly trembling, and tried to wrap his brain around what was happening.
The woman appeared with a bottle of water. “Here. I’m Emily, by the way.”
“Joel.” Had he already said that? “Steve never told me he moved out.”
“Oh, wow, that’s harsh. He ditched your place without telling you?”
“At least the lease isn’t up until August.” It gave him time to plan, even if it meant a strange female roommate for a few weeks. He couldn’t really afford the place on his own, and he still had no clue what was going on with the food truck.
“Um…” Emily chewed on her bottom lip. “The lease is month-to-month. It’s over in, like ten days, and I have a document with the landlord stating I’m the tenant.”
Joel gaped. “But…this is my place.”
“My place, dude, and no offense, but I do not know you, and I make it a point not to live with strange men.”
“How the hell can he change the lease without me…signing…? Fuck.” Because he dealt with college students, the building’s manager had multiple lease options. Year-long, which is what Joel always signed, but also college-term leases that lasted the length of the college’s school year, and then month-to-month options for the summer, or for temporary tenants. When Steve said he’d renewed the lease last summer while Joel was sick, Joel had assumed he’d done another full-year contract.
Joke’s on me.
“If you don’t believe me, I can get a copy of the lease,” Emily said.
“I believe you. I just don’t understand why he’d do this. Why he wouldn’t at least call and tell me he was leaving, or that if I came back I’d be homeless.”
What a great start to A.m. Arthur’s Neighborhood Shindig series! Now, to be fair, A.m. Arthur is absolutely in the top five of my favorite m/m authors, so I’ll admit to a little bit of bias, but the world that A.m. Arthur has created in the Neighborhood Shindig is absolutely endearing!
Ok.. So, Melting For You, here are your characters. First, you have Joel, a 20-something young man who is just returning to Reynolds, North Carolina after spending a year living with his parents while he was extremely ill. Then, you have Isaiah who’s come home to help care for his estranged father, who just happens to be the owner of Neighborhood Shindig. When Joel arrives in Reynolds, it quickly becomes clear that his former business partner and casual lover, has stolen from Joel, left Joel homeless, and left their jointly run food truck a barren disaster. But all hope is not lost. Enter, Isaiah and his father.
Isaiah is not quite sure where he belongs anymore. He’s managed to work his way to the top of the restaurant business in Atlanta, but now that he’s back home in Reynolds he finds himself questioning whether or not Atlanta and the restaurant he co-owns is really where his passion is best served.
In Melting for You, Isaiah and Joel become friends first, then lovers, and together they begin a journey into finding a place that feels like home. As they work together to get Joel’s food truck back up and running, they begin to learn just what it means when a place feels like home. This is a sweet and simple story of two men, a lot of grilled cheese, and a city square full of food trucks and family. Welcome, my friends, to Neighborhood Shindig… Oh, and fair warning, this book will leave you hungry, lol!
5 pieces of eye candy to A.m. Arthur’s Melting for You.
A.M. Arthur was born and raised in the same kind of small town that she likes to write about, a stone’s throw from both beach resorts and generational farmland. She’s been creating stories in her head since she was a child and scribbling them down nearly as long, in a losing battle to make the fictional voices stop. She credits an early fascination with male friendships (bromance hadn’t been coined yet back then) with her later discovery of and subsequent love affair with m/m romance stories. A.M. Arthur’s work is available from Carina Press, SMP Swerve, and Briggs-King Books.
When not exorcising the voices in her head, she toils away in a retail job that tests her patience and gives her lots of story fodder. She can also be found in her kitchen, pretending she’s an amateur chef and trying to not poison herself or others with her cuisine experiments.
Facebook group Pot O Gold: https://www.facebook.com/groups/300209733646247/