Is there a time limit on love and forgiveness?
Fifteen years ago, Manny didn’t show up to take Wes to the Shelby High School prom as he promised. Instead, Wes found Manny’s letter jacket at their meeting spot without a note or any explanation.
From college to his current job in Monterey, California, Wes has carted the jacket around as a memento of his teenage love and rejection. This year he decides enough is enough. He’s attending the high school class reunion, returning Manny’s jacket, and going home free to find the real love of his life.
When Manny sees Wes at the reunion tour of the new high school facilities, he’s determined not to let his teenage lover leave without them clearing the air and possibly getting back together.
Through reunion activities such as a quiz bowl, meet-and-greet meals, and a formal banquet with a prom-like ball as well as outside activities like the quinceañera of Manny’s niece, Wes and Manny work through the lies and misunderstandings of the past.
With so much to reconcile and forgive on both sides, will they end up together? Or go their separate ways with only memories of the past?
Publisher: JMS Books
Release Date: Saturday, March 20 2021
Genres: contemporary gay romance
LGBTQ+ Identities: gay
Tropes: second chance romance; big misunderstanding, clash of cultures
Keywords/Categories: contemporary, high school reunion, stood up for the prom, come home again, blast from the past, reunion, gay, gay romance, mm, mm romance, second chance, big misunderstanding, culture clash
What’s taken from real life in When Heart Becomes Home
Readers are always curious about what an author takes from real life and uses in a story. When Heart Becomes Home borrows quite a few bits and pieces from my life. Here are a few:
The letter jacket that belongs to no one in the family that’s followed us from house to house across the country: My husband swears that the fact a jacket with the surname of Alvarez on it which has hung in every house we’ve ever lived in came about because of a locker room mix up. Since he’s my husband and I love him very much, I believe him. Still, the jacket has nagged at me since I made its acquaintance. Has the jacket enjoyed living with us from its home in San Antonio and on its journey to Houston, Colorado, Northern Virginia, and now California? Or does it wish it had hung in the Alvarez family closet all these years? I’ll never know. But now it has a fictionalized account to go with it.
The Trap: Yes, there is a run-down bar in South Sacramento’s Pocket Area called The Trap that has been declared an Historic Landmark. Sac’s Trap sits on the edge of grade school playground. I know! The Trap’s reputation as what one news report called “Sacramento’s oldest dive bar” began in 1860. Unlike The Trap in my story, Sac’s Trap has retained its rural, seedy appearance under an old tree with no parking lot to speak of. I doubt the number of people I squeezed into the story’s Trap would fit into Sac’s real bar. The guys in the story would have had to celebrate the high school reunion somewhere else, maybe the Virgin Sturgeon or the Delta Queen which both sit on the Sacramento River.
CeeCee’s Quinceañera: I’ve been to one whole quinceañera in my life. One. And it was a memorable occasion for this Catholic who doesn’t speak Spanish. So why was I invited and how did my experience transfer itself to Wes’ version in the story? Well, I was dating an Hispanic man in Houston during a time when Latinos weren’t Mexican-American or Latino. He was cute, funny, and sexy, not to mention we had a lot in common—just not language or culture. I grew up in Nebraska at a time when very few Mexican-Americans lived there, so I was struggling to keep up in Houston. Since I wasn’t looking for a husband—I was in the middle of getting a divorce—I’m not sure how my Hispanic friend’s mother got the idea we were serious. Maybe because he invited me to his cousin’s quinceañera, a rite of passage I’d never heard of before. At any rate, if you want to see it through my eyes, or at least Wes’ eyes, read the book.
Those are only a few ways my life has turned into fodder for my books. There are other examples as well, but these should be enough to make you wonder as you read a description or are placed in a scene if what you’re reading is real or imagined. Either way, it’s all fiction. Trust me.
Currently, I’m writing another Heart/Home novel about a former cop who was wounded in a robbery gone wrong and who is now recuperating in Spindrift, California, a small town on coastal Route 1 near Mendocino. He’s prone to sudden brain glitches that incapacitate him. Worried about him, his parents persuade him to share his house with an artist who’s fresh out of a horrible relationship. As well as writing that book, I’m planning the next Foothills Pride books and a holiday short story. In other words, I’m still making up stories from my life experiences and loving it.
Manny and I had never talked about college or the future. We’d been too centered on sex.
Because of all my wanderings through the past, it took me a few seconds to process what he’d told me. He’d written me a letter, and on the night of the prom, he had put it with the jacket at our prearranged meeting place.
He’d left the jacket—for me. He hadn’t crushed it into the ground in some undecipherable message. He’d left it with a note for me.
What had happened? Who’d come along and taken the note? And tried to blot out the jacket? Why hadn’t he or she taken it, too?
There was still a lot of food left on our plates when we both stopped eating and sat staring at each other.
“Okay, please tell me what happened from your side. What did your letter say? I have to make sense of this.”
He put his hand on the table, open for me to grab it with mine. We needed to hold on as we looked down at the rift that had separated us for fifteen years.
“What the letter said was I was stupid and asked you to forgive me. I knew I was gay. You knew I was gay. Hell, most of the town and the class probably knew, too. Everyone but my mother who insisted I wasn’t. According to her, none of the Garcias or the Escobars had ever been. She had read about homosexuality running in family lines. We had no gay men in the family. Therefore, I could not possibly be gay.” His thumb started rubbing over the back of my hand. “But I am. I knew it then. And I know now she knew it.”
The last part was said so low and his thumb over my skin was so seductive the words at first bypassed my brain. He kept speaking, so I had to scramble to keep up.
“Her big ambition for me wasn’t to get into a good college and have a fulfilling career like some parents wanted for their kids. No, it was for me to be a chambelane for as many of the daughters of friends as she could arrange, pick one of the girls, get married, and have as many kids as the girl would allow.” His thumb stopped, and he stared into my eyes.
“All I wanted to do was go on dates with you and for us to go to the prom. Together. As boyfriends. That’s all.”
His soulful eyes reflected the conflict between him and his mother.
“In the end, she won a tiny victory that has nicked away at my soul. When it came time for me to stand like a man, I failed. I cut myself down to her size. I agreed to play her game of life.” He looked away and sighed. “I learned the quinceañera waltz. I partnered her friends’ daughters. She smiled at me and bragged about her dutiful son. She dangled me by the strings she had woven since I was a baby.”
A short silence descended on us. I had nothing to say and knew he had a lot more to tell me.
Pat is giving away two $10 Amazon gift cards with this tour
Pat Henshaw has spent her life surrounded by words: teaching English composition at the junior college level; writing book reviews for newspapers, magazines, and websites; helping students find information as a librarian; and promoting PBS television programs.
Pat was born and raised in Nebraska and since then has lived at various times in Texas, Colorado, Northern Virginia, and now Sacramento, California. Over the years, Pat has traveled to Mexico, Canada, Europe, Nicaragua, Thailand, and Egypt, and Stowe, Vermont, where she now has family.
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