Defined By Deceit
Genre: Gay contemporary romance
Publisher: All Romance eBooks
Date of Publication: June 1, 2016
Number of pages: 289
Word Count: 77000
Cover Artist: Erin Dameron Hill
He tried to drown his demons, only to find they could swim.
Life isn’t always fair. Llewellyn Gardner knows that first hand. He was on the fast track—college dreams, a boyfriend—until one night of extreme passion changed everything. Eight years later and out of prison, he still lives with the aftershocks of that night. Everywhere he turns there’s another reminder of crime people insist he committed, so he runs away to a new town to start over.
For Shane Smith, Jr., owner of Smith Construction, there’s something about the gorgeous, misunderstood man with the overly expressive eyes and dark past. Shane sees the good in Llewellyn— it’s why he hired him—and he isn’t going to let the man cut himself off from the world.
Llewellyn isn’t sure what to think about Shane. After years of protecting himself from being tricked twice, he’s worried. What will happen if Shane doesn’t believe the truth about his past?
Read on to read an excerpt, find out more about the wonderful Author, my review, and a giveaway!
Llew shouldn’t have let Moss’ words bother him, but they did. You would’ve thought he was on the Feds’ most wanted list the way his boyfriend was acting. He yanked his backpack off the floor and slung it over his shoulder. When he got to the marble foyer, he tried to ignore the disdainful look Moss’ father threw him.
“Good evening, Mayor McGregor, Mrs. McGregor, how are you?” Llew said in his most polite voice.
“Oh. Hello, Llewellyn. I’m just fine, thank you. If you’ll excuse me,” Mrs. McGregor said, on her way past him. She never wasted time on pleasantries with him.
“What are you boys up to at this late hour?” Mayor McGregor stood eyeing them cautiously, one hand in the pocket of his dress pants, the other leaning on the mahogany foyer table.
Llew looked at his watch. It’s not even seven o’clock. “Um, I just stopped by to give Moss his AP History notes back. He loaned them to me—”
“Why don’t you have your own notes, Mr. Gardner?” Mayor McGregor said, standing taller and removing his suit jacket, his face tight and impassive.
“Father. Remember I told you—”
“Mr. Gardner can speak for himself.” Moss’ dad cut him off.
Llew looked back at his friend and saw how he hung his head at his father’s tone. “A couple guys on by brother’s crew caught the flu, so I missed my last two classes on Monday to help out at the business.”
“I see,” Mayor McGregor said casually. “Why don’t you two step into my office for a quick chat?”
“Father, Llew’s brother is waiting for him.”
“Sir, I know you’re extremely busy. I didn’t mean to infringe on your family’s time.”
Both of them were trying to avoid any type of chat, conversation, pow-wow, or anything else with Moss’ father. He was intolerant to say the least; but whatever he wanted to discuss with them wasn’t going to be fun.
“I’ll be brief.” His tone and his expression said that it wasn’t an option.
Moss sat ramrod straight in one of the two wingback chairs facing his father’s large desk. Llew placed his backpack on the floor and gingerly sat in the other chair. He wasn’t slouching, but he wasn’t about to sit at attention like he was in front of the President of the United States, either. Although the design of Mayor McGregor’s office could fool you into thinking you were; it was even oval-shaped. The American flag stood tall behind him, just in front of the royal blue curtains flanking the window. The wall was adorned with degrees from UCLA and Harvard. Expensive-framed pictures of Mayor McGregor with influential politicians were mounted on the adjacent wall, and sat on three large bookcases. Llew’s head whipped around from the massive thirty- by-twenty-inch framed family painting when Mayor McGregor cleared his throat.
“How’s the business going for your brother, Llewellyn?”
Llew looked to his boyfriend, but of course, his head was tucked low, not meeting his father’s eyes. Well, this pompous bastard didn’t intimidate Llew. His father had instilled good moral values in him and his brother before his death. Llew had no reason to hang his head.
“Business is doing well, sir. Leslie’s even picked up some commercial properties in Colonial Heights. He’s had to hire a third crew to cover the demand,” Llew said proudly. His brother had really done well with his father’s legacy.
“Are you going to be joining his crew after you graduate in a couple months?” Mayor McGregor inquired casually. He had dismissed Llew’s proud statement, continuing to follow his own agenda, without bothering to look at Llew as he shuffled some papers around on his executive-style desk.
“Yes, sir. I’m going to work for him like I do every summer. Then I’ll be leaving for college in the fall,” Llew said, trying unsuccessfully to meet Moss’ eyes.
Mayor McGregor’s bushy eyebrows shot up, almost to his hairline. “Oh, really. Ahh, yes. You probably got an athletic scholarship.”
“Yes, sir, I did.”
“What school have you chosen?”
“I haven’t yet, sir. I’m still waiting to hear back from my first choice.”
Moss finally turned his head towards him, eyes begging. What the hell? Llew looked tiredly at his boyfriend, knowing that he was pleading with Llew not to mention the possibility of him attending UCLA. Honestly, though, how was that going to be a secret any longer, once he was accepted? Word traveled quickly in their parts. No doubt, his big brother would be bragging all over town, too. It had been his parents’ dream for both of their sons to go to college. Unfortunately, Leslie had to leave during his second year in graduate school to bury his parents and take care of Llew.
“And your first choice?” he asked impatiently.
Llew and Moss continued to watch each other. Moss’ brows scrunched together with annoyance. Fuck that. Llew was pissed now. True, they were both in the closet; because it just wasn’t worth the trouble to come out in their town. He hated when Moss made him feel like he wasn’t even worthy of being his friend. Why couldn’t they go to the same school? UCLA was ranked number twenty-three in the nation’s top universities. It took more than just the ability to catch a football to get in. Moss should be proud of him, not only as his boyfriend, but as his best friend.
“Virginia Tech, sir.”
“Mmm. They have a good athletic program. You should fit right in, Mr. Gardner.”
Llew’s jaw was clamped shut so tight, it ached. He released a calm breath before adding, “They have a top-ranked engineering program, sir; since I also have an academic scholarship.” Llew held back his grin at the faint redness that was creeping over the mayor’s pristine white collar. Llew had already been accepted to Virginia Tech, but he couldn’t stand the thought of being twenty-four hundred miles away from his boyfriend.
If his father were here, he’d tell Mayor McGregor exactly what he thought of his son’s athletic and his academic accomplishments. He wouldn’t let anyone talk down to him. He wanted to do his father proud, but he loved Moss, he’d do anything for him. They only had to endure this bullshit a little while longer.
“You know Moss will be attending the family alma mater, UCLA, to carry on the McGregor tradition. You boys have been inseparable since middle school and I’ve tolerated it because it—”
“I’m sorry, sir. Tolerated it?” Llew interjected, his anger quickly bubbling to the surface.
Mayor McGregor sat forward, his hand tightly gripping the polished surface of his desk. “Yes, tolerated it. Boys will be boys. Now it’s time for Moss to grow up and be a man, leaving childish things behind. He has a duty and obligation to his family’s name.”
Llew didn’t know why he looked at Moss then, but he did. How could he sit there and allow his father to degrade someone he loved like that? Did Moss consider him to be a “childish thing” in his life?
“I understand, sir. I best be getting home now, my brother and I have plans,” Llew said as respectfully as he could muster, already standing and slinging his book bag over his shoulder. They had nothing more to discuss.
About the Author:
A.E. Via is a best-selling author in the beautiful LGBTQ erotic genre. She’d been reading gay romance exclusively for over ten years before she decided to submit one of her own stories for publication. Her writing embodies everything from spicy to scandalous. Her novels often include intriguing edges and twists that take readers to new, thought-provoking depths. When she’s not clicking away at her laptop, A.E. devotes herself to her family—a husband and four children.
Although she’s still a fairly new author, she has plenty more to come.
For more information on other books by A.E., visit her website:
3 ecopies of an ARe Out For You book
This book was a romance in the true sense of the word. It followed the basic formula of a romance novel, while injecting individual elements that made it an engaging read.
I can’t remember the last time I read a romance that felt this powerfully real. Maybe that’s hyperbole, but Llew’s travails throughout the story really struck me. His pain and struggle was palpable, and especially in the beginning, almost difficult to read. Injustice like what happened to Llew happens every day, and reading about it made me think about those problems more.
Llew pays a heavy price for events completely out of his control, and the results of those events stain his entire life from that point forward. He moves to a new town looking for a fresh start, but his ugly history follows him. Slowly, he builds a family of choice that believe in his innocence, and help him regain his power and will to live and even thrive once more.
Naturally, that family’s central figure is Shane, the extremely hot, extremely compassionate owner of the construction company where Llew finds a job in his new town. Shane meets Llew before everyone in the community finds out where Llew has been for the past 8 years, and why. Shane’s attraction toward and affection for Llew doesn’t change. It was so easy for me as the reader to fall in love with Shane–he sees who Llew is on the inside, and that’s the man he falls for.
I liked the way this author found an acceptable balance between romance and a more realistic view of how men treat sex. The two are separate, but slowly blend. I also liked that while Llew prefers to top in sexual situations, he and Shane don’t devolve into the stereotypes of their preferences you often see in m/m romance. (I’ve been reading a lot of discussions about the substantial differences between gay romance and m/m romance, so I’m all thinky now about the way that gay men see themselves vs. the way we straight, female m/m romance/erotica fans think about who gay men are, how they act, and what they do in bed. It’s a longer discussion for another day.) They’re both just men, not gay stereotypes.
(I’m certainly not saying I’ve never slid into these “roles” in my writing, either. I’m just trying to learn to be more sensitive.)
ANYhoo. I couldn’t help but be involved with Llew’s story (The whole thing really is his.) I found myself rooting for him all the way. He truly deserved good things after the terrible events of his youth.
DEFINED BY DECEIT isn’t perfect. For example, like the standard romance formula that it follows, the internal and external conflicts were fairly easily resolved. I don’t mind when loose ends are tied up — this IS a romance, after all– but it probably didn’t have to happen so smoothly or so fast. There are extremely painful moments that effect a lot of the story, but in the end… well, I can’t really tell you. That would be a spoiler!
That being said, overall I found this a really engaging read. Another one that I finished in a couple of super-long sessions! I loved the characters, I couldn’t help being outraged, hopeful, and happy in different parts of the book, right along with Llew himself. That’s a sign of good writing, in my opinion. The rich, colorful secondary characters add an extra dimension that makes the story even better than it otherwise might have been.
I am going to give DEFINED BY DECEIT a solid FOUR BATTY MOONS!