Vahin Arora, Hamburger Mary’s sexy bartender, plays the flirtatious role so well even his closest friends—his chosen family at Mary’s—don’t realize Vahin hasn’t had a hookup in months. Then Tall, Dark, and Handsome steps through the door, and Vahin’s libido races back to life.
Being a black cop on the Denver police force is no easy job—Marlon Barton can’t imagine adding being gay to the equation. And while Marlon loves his work as an officer, his life has taken a turn for the hellish because of his new partner, the nephew of a senator.
Fleeing his partner’s company one night, Marlon stumbles into Mary’s for the first time… and wakes up with a hangover in the bartender’s bed. The one-night stand heats up into a budding romance, but not without stress as Marlon’s partner’s actions threaten Vahin’s livelihood and Marlon’s future on the force. Can Vahin and Marlon face the challenges and hold on to the love, friendship, and family they’ve found?
There are moments in life that change your trajectory. That is most definitely true in the case of love. For me, it was my friend insisting I get a beer with him in the middle of the day. For my boyfriend, it was going to lunch with his friend and then grabbing a drink in the middle of the day. Our paths collided, and we’ve been together ever since. I am not a bar person at all. Nor am I a beer person. It still seems strange to me that had I not broken my normal patter than day, I’d be living a very different life six years later.
I wanted to share an excerpt that highlights that very quality for my two lovers in Vodka & Handcuffs.
The same is true for how Marlon and Vahin meet. Marlon had a shit day of traffic patrol. His partner, Andrew, is a racists jerk, and annoying too boot. Marlon just needs some time away from him. That’s all he needs, really. Well, he needed it more than he knew…
He needed to cool down before meeting the guys at Brother’s Bar. It would be nothing but talking shop, and at the moment, he wouldn’t be able to keep his tongue in check when it came to Andrew. Not that the others wouldn’t understand. They all pretty much hated Andrew, which was one of the main reasons Marlon had the privilege of being his partner. Marlon was about as difficult to rile up as a bushel of frozen cucumbers, at least that was how Chief Schmidt worded it. Still, if Marlon said too much, it was sure to get back to Andrew somehow, and he would make Marlon’s life even more miserable.
Part of him almost wished he’d let Andrew do something. Something that would be big enough to negate Andrew’s ties to his senator uncle and former police chief grandfather. Although, that big enough something would’ve come at the cost to an innocent family who’d had the misfortune of a bike accident.”
The possibilities that flooded his mind the past few months rushed through him like a hurricane. Thirty-eight wasn’t too old to start a new career. He’d been on the force for fifteen years. That was a good amount of time, for anyone. A life change could be what he needed.
Except it hadn’t even been a thought until Andrew started occupying the passenger seat. Andrew had been a pain in the ass since day one, but he was steadily getting worse. It was only a matter of time. And Marlon didn’t want to be anywhere near when that time came. But he didn’t want to stop being a cop either. He loved being a cop.
At least he used to.
He could move. California had always been alluring. But he was too much of a family guy to want to leave Denver.
Marlon pulled his car into Brother’s Bar parking lot, slammed it into park, and smacked his open palm onto the steering wheel, imagining it was Andrew’s face. He’d have to talk to the chief, again. One of these times, he’d listen. And screw cooling down. He needed a drink, and if he happened to spout off too much about Andrew, then so be it. He turned off the engine, got out of the car, and halted.
“Oh. No fucking way.”
He narrowed his eyes and glared at the red sports car glowing directly under the street lamp illuminating the parking lot. He didn’t need to inspect. Didn’t even need to see the vanity license plate to know it was Andrew’s. Just his damned luck. Andrew hated the guys as much as they hated him. It only made sense Andrew would choose this night—the night when Marlon was more fed up than he’d ever been—to try to be one of the boys.
Marlon slipped right back into his car and peeled out of the lot, cursing under his breath. He drove for a bit longer, then realized he was cruising up 17th Street—the old gay section of 17th Street.
He’d spent many an hour at JR’s when he was younger and at the Wrangler after that. Both were now gone, making way for upper-class, straight, yuppieville.
The new Hamburger Mary’s caught his eye; at least a bit of the old gayborhood was left, refurbished or not. He drove past it without a second thought. Drag queens weren’t his thing. Although… he’d heard the new location had more of a sports bar feel to it. It didn’t sound as relaxing as unwinding with the guys, but if he couldn’t be with other cops, at least he’d be around gays. And most importantly, Andrew wasn’t there.
He made it about another half mile before he turned around.
On the 8th of May, please pop on over to Boy Meets Boy for the final Vodka & Handcuffs blog tour, where I’ll give you a sneak peak at what’s to come.
Blog Tour Schedule:
April 19 – MM Good Book Reviews
April 24 – Joyfully Jay
April 25 – Open Skye Book Reviews
April 26- The Novel Approach
April 26 – Alpha Book Reviews
April 27 – Love Bytes
April 28 – Divine Magazine
April 28 – My Fiction Nook
May 1 – Two Chicks Obsessed
May 8 – Boy Meets Boy
One of the things that I enjoy most about Brandon Witt’s books is that there are always aspects of the books that you just don’t find in many other m/m romance books. Vodka and Handcuffs is a perfect example of that type of book.
Vahin, a man who when disowned by his Muslim family for being gay found a family at Hamburger Mary’s, accepted his life as it was. In his 30s he decided to stop the hookups, enjoying his job at Mary’s. A drunken hookup up with a partially closeted Marlon wasn’t in his plans, but after Marlon’s bad day with an openly racist partner, they ended up in bed. Once they were sober, working their way towards a potential relationship was a challenge.
This novella hit on so many issues that are relevant in today’s society. First, open racism and bigotry (sadly) has become more rampant in recent months, and Brandon hits on this from both Marlon and Vahin’s POVs. Even with the characters being gay, the more challenging piece was working their way through Marlon’s partners disgusting comments and actions. These are not easy issues to tackle. In the m/m romance genre, often any sort of bigotry is portrayed due to the characters sexuality (which does come into play as well), but the characters’ skin color was just as much a conflict to be addressed. I really appreciated that Brandon used this as conflict in the book. It happens, its realistic. Being gay can be and often is what causes characters to engage in hate crimes. However, the primary conflict here was not merely the characters sexuality, but their race as well.
The love and appreciation between all the side characters in their self-made family was evident. I can’t wait to see where this series continues to move forward. Brandon has done a stellar job with this series so far.
Side note: I think I am going to be hitting Hamburger Mary’s during my time in Denver for GRL. 🙂
4 pieces of eye candy
Brandon is offering up one of his backlist titles (and there are some amazing 5 star reads in that backlist, just saying…) to one of our readers. So give him a big congrats, and let him know what you are looking forward to most about reading Vodka & Handcuffs.
Brandon Witt’s outlook on life is greatly impacted by his first eighteen years of growing up gay in a small town in the Ozarks, as well as fifteen years as a counselor and special education teacher for students with severe emotional disabilities. Add to that his obsession with corgis and mermaids, then factor in an unhealthy love affair with cheeseburgers, and you realize that with all those issues, he’s got plenty to write about….
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