Thankful for Romance
I have a confession to make – I love romance. Everyone loves a happy ending, don’t they? But for some people romance is a dirty word in literature, never to be taken seriously. Romance fiction covers anything from Barbara Cartland to Jilly Cooper through to the much more risqué Shirley Conran and now modern chick-lit, as it’s called, but it’s also Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, Shakespeare, Charles Dickens and many others. I never considered myself to be a reader of romance but that’s nonsense. I read romance all the time, in historical stories, crime stories, family sagas and even in sci-fi novels; I just liked my romance to be more than male hero finds, rescues, then gets off with the female lead.
One of my favourite books as a teenager was The African Queen by C. S. Forester, an unlikely romance between two middle-aged people who find each other and sink a German warship. Charlie Allnutt wasn’t a handsome hero and Rose Sayer wasn’t looking for him, but they found love and acceptance in adversity. My fourteen year old self wept when they spoke of love. Maybe I’ve always looked for something different and I’m thankful for that. You see I like being unconventional, and I like reading stories, so if I was going to read romance it would be the type of book that was different, which brings me to my sort of romance, and I have another confession - I’m an addict.
I found gay romance back in the 1980s, looking for something different again, and read many stories published by Gay Mens’ Press. Then, with the internet and fanfiction, I discovered story upon story of romance between men and I devoured them up like a thirsty woman who finds an oasis in the desert. I began to write my own stories, first fanfics, then original pieces, and the voices that spoke to me were male. They insisted their stories were told; I’m thankful they did and that they allowed me to do the telling.
I started writing Sporting Chance, my debut novel, in my spare time. Iestyn is a teacher, they say write what you know and, after thirty years in education, I knew, and Dan is someone who sadly doesn’t exist – an out gay rugby player. The story is about them finding love and keeping it, because gay sports people are always news, aren’t they? In my novel there are no dramatic announcements about sexuality; it is essentially a story about love and romance between two people looking for a happy ever after and how, when one person is famous, life can interfere.
So, when someone asks me what I write about I proudly say I write about romance – romance between men. Thankfully, they are the voices who speak to me and whisper to me in the night, and I hope they always will.
Blurb for Sporting Chance:
Sometimes keeping hold of love is just as hard as finding it.
Dan and Iestyn are looking for romance. A school trip, a love of history, a wedding, a tango, the game of chess, and their friends and family all help the two men to realise that they’ve finally found true love with each other.
Iestyn thinks that he’s completely ordinary and that Dan is the only out and currently gay rugby player anywhere. Being gay can be difficult enough. Being famous also has its problems. But being gay, famous and a sportsman can make finding love complicated. So when Dan Morgan meets Iestyn Jones and gives him his phone number, their road ahead has more than a few bumps to overcome.
Will Iestyn and Dan overcome the obstacles thrown in their paths? Or will fame destroy their lives as well as their love?
Except from Sporting Chance
When I was told I could include a short excerpt from the book to go with this piece I knew immediately which bit of the story to choose.
When his phone buzzed, Iestyn took it out expecting to find a kiss or two from Dan for midnight.
“What?” he exclaimed.
“What is it?” Julie asked.
He showed her the phone. “Bloody hell! Why are you still here? Get out and find him. I’ll be fine.”
Iestyn kissed her. “That’s your New Year’s kiss,” he said. His heart was pounding nineteen to the dozen. He couldn’t believe that Dan had left his party to find him.
He slipped out of the back door. It didn’t appear as if anyone was paying him attention as he stood at the door looking around the car park. Headlights flashed once from across the gravel, and he ran over and opened the SUV’s passenger door.
“Get in,” Dan said. He’d parked so that the front of the car faced away from the pub.
“I can’t believe you’re here,” Iestyn said, trying to catch his breath. “I didn’t expect this. What about your party?”
“I left Mac in charge. I suddenly realized I wanted to give you a New Year’s kiss in person, if that’s all right with you.”
Iestyn still couldn’t believe it. Is this man really that perfect? “Go on then,” he said. “I think it’s seconds from midnight.”
Iestyn leaned across until their lips met. Dan cupped either side of his face as he sank into the kiss. Nothing else mattered to either of them at that moment and they continued kissing. Dan bit Iestyn’s lower lip and sucked it as he reached out with his tongue looking for more contact. Finally, they broke apart.
“Blwyddyn Newydd Dda,” Dan said, grinning broadly.
“Happy New Year to you too,” Iestyn replied, taking hold of Dan’s hand. “Nice car,” he added. “You’d better get back to your party.”
“Wish you’d come with me,” Dan said.
“Can’t. I shouldn’t leave Julie. I’ll see you Tuesday. We’ll go in my car, yeah.” He started to open the door but Dan pulled him in for another brief kiss.
Iestyn sat back and grinned. “If you keep doing that, I’ll never get out of here.” He caught Dan’s glance toward the back seat. “Don’t even think about it. I’m way too old to contort myself enough to have sex with you in the back of your car.”
“Spoilsport,” Dan replied, laughing.
Reluctantly, Iestyn opened the door and stepped out then watched the SUV pull out. If it was cold, he couldn’t feel it. There was no ground under his feet as he made his way back to the pub.
Shit, can I fall in love so quickly? The only answer he could find in his head was a resounding Yes!