I hate Sam Shelby. So why do I want to kiss him?
Sam never expected to move back to Cleveland. Donovan never expected to be attracted to a man. Well, shit happens.
After high school, Sam Shelby moved to New York. Eight years later, he returns to Cleveland and lands a job at the best ad firm in town. It would be the perfect gig, if his boss weren’t such an ass.
After his wife leaves, Donovan Cooper questions everything. The arrival of a young, arrogant, gifted graphic designer at Donovan’s firm is the last straw.
Tempers flare over office gossip, and following a nasty argument and scathing kiss, Donovan flails away from heterosexuality while Sam struggles to keep his “no relationship” rule intact.
Despite ugly socks, fiery fights, and their best intentions to not fall in love, these bullheaded coworkers can’t deny their chemistry. Donovan seeks happiness while Sam seeks success, but is there room for more?
Cover Artist: Natasha Snow
Release Date: September 4, 2020
Genre/s: Contemporary MM romance
Trope/s: enemies-to-lovers, age gap, co-workers, office romance,
bisexuality, businessmen, artists, bondage, comedy
Themes: sexual awakening
Possible triggers: depression, suicidal ideations, biphobia
Heat Rating: 4 flames
Length: 71 000 words
It is a standalone book.
Buy Links - Available on Kindle Unlimited
Introduce yourself and your writing.
I’m a Halloween-obsessed extroverted introvert who loves yoga, pizza, horror movies, and my sexy rock-climber husband. I live in Cleveland, Ohio, but I’d really like to live in a Tim Burton film. I bartend to retain my sanity. I write mostly MM romance in all genres: paranormal, dark and twisted, fluffy and funny. As long as I get to work with charismatic characters who can’t keep their hands off each other, I’m happy.
Tell us about your new release. What inspired you to write it?
I first wrote a novella entitled “Abstract Love” at the behest of friend and colleague Renee Botbyl for the now out-of-print Come Play charity anthology. It was for a great cause: The Trevor Project, an organization that provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ young people under 25. As someone who suffers from severe anxiety and depression, this is a cause I take personally. Initially, the novella had a solid beginning, middle, and end, but Renee told me to end on a cliffhanger … and write a novel about Donovan and Sam. So I did. Abstract Love is dedicated to her.
What are you working on at present? Would you like to share a snippet?
I’m so weird. If I’m working on a new project, I won’t talk about it. AT ALL. It’s like I’m afraid that if I speak of them, the characters will flee. So … yes, I’m always working on something, but I dare not share.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Stop listening to other people; write for you. Rejection is a constant, so get over it. Enjoy the process, not the end game. Writing is your job but not your life. No matter what you do, some people will never like you.
Is there a book you wish you had written?
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde.
Are any of your characters based on you or people you know?
Monica in Abstract Love is very much based on my beautiful friend Keri.They have the same hair, tattoos, glasses, and style. They’re both sassy, smart, confident women. I love women who stand out amongst the masses and embrace their identities without fear. That’s Keri.
Do you get emails asking why characters didn’t get together and whether you’re going to write more about them?
Haaaaaaa OMG yes. I think most authors do. In Abstract Love, brooding bad boy photographer Elliot has become a surprise fan favorite. People are shouting at me to write his love story. We’ll see …
Are you a cat person or a dog person? Tell us about your pets.
Dog. I have two rescue pit bull mixes. My daughter Ripley is named after the Alien heroine. My son Raylan is named after Raylan Givens from Justified. They both hate the postman. Ripley sneaks under my bed when she’s anxious. Raylan is obsessed with a plastic blue ball. Like, if you say, “blue ball,” the little dude loses his sh*t.
Are there big events in your life that affect your writing?
Don’t know if there’s a specific event, but my depression certainly does. There’s usually a point of despair for all my characters—a dark place they must choose to embrace or escape. Writing about depression is a form of exorcism for me.
If you had access to a time machine just once, is there anything you'd go back and change? Either on a personal level or an historical event?
Change? No. We’ve all seen the movies. That never ends well. Would I go back to Paris in the 1920s so I could hang out with Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Zelda, and Stein? Oh, hell yes.
Donovan sifted through a few hand-drawn logos on the desk and froze when he found a crudely drawn sketch of himself. Sam must have done it during a meeting at some point, capturing Donovan’s faux hawk, wide jaw, and severe expression.
Jesus, was this what other people saw when they looked at him? Did he really look so miserable?
“Make yourself at home?”
Donovan dropped the picture and stood straight at the sound of Sam’s voice.
He leaned against the doorframe, with one ankle crossed over the other.
“It’s really bullshit when people say that, you know?” Sam said. “Make yourself at home. No one actually wants their friends to take off their pants, drink all their beer, and binge The Great British Bake Off.” He paused. “What are you doing in my office?”
“I didn’t mean to snoop.”
The office door closed as he stepped inside. “Sure you did, or you wouldn’t be in here, so what’s up?”
Sam circled the desk, so Donovan circled the other way, although he noticed it was true what coworkers said: Sam did smell good—like clean laundry and cedar. “I think we started off on the wrong foot.”
Sam snort laughed and flipped through some files on his desk. “More like wrong continent, man.” When he found what he was looking for, he tapped the file’s corner against his palm. “I can handle guys like you, you know.”
Donovan shifted back on his heels. “Guys like me?”
“Hmm. Corporate assholes. All you see are dollar signs. You take no pleasure in your work. Advertising is money to you, not art, but without the artists, there wouldn’t be advertising, so…” He sucked his cheeks into his mouth, a momentary fish face.
Donovan wanted to tell him it wasn’t true. Donovan loved art.
He used to love art.
Sam continued, “I know I look like a six-foot-two Disney princess, but you’re not gonna rattle me.” To prove his point, Sam got right up in Donovan’s personal space until Donovan took a step back. Again, he was not used to dealing with someone his own height. “And I’m right about the Great Lakes ad campaign. If you’d pull your head out of your ass, maybe you’d notice.” He turned away abruptly.
“I’m sorry.” Ouch, that hurt coming out.
Sam’s rebuttal: “Prove it.”
He rested a hand on the desk and cocked his hip out—the very picture of young attitude. “Listen to me in meetings.”
“I was listening.”
“Nope.” He shook his head and ran a hand through his unkempt, unprofessional hair. “No, you were hearing. I need you to listen. There’s a difference. And I know I’m just some fucking kid to you, but I ruled the New York City advertising scene. I know what I’m doing, Donovan, so let me do it.”
“Fine.” He’d had enough. He’d apologized, okay, so he’d done his Monica-enforced duty. He didn’t owe Sam anything else.
He didn’t run for the door, but he definitely moved with speed.
Sara Dobie Bauer is a bestselling author, model, and mental health / LGBTQ advocate with a creative writing degree from Ohio University. She lives with her hottie husband and two precious pups in Northeast Ohio, although she’d really like to live in a Tim Burton film.