I’ll start off with a big shout out to Anders for letting me stop by and say a bit before pitching my latest book “A Bouquet for Adam” at you. If any of you have read my contemporary romances and mysteries, you already know I have a tendency to write about things that are news and or issues. Sometimes, I write about homeless youth, sometimes about poaching threatened and endangered species, sometimes it’s about surviving homophobia. This time, with the help of my lovely and talented coauthor K.T. Spence, I’m diving into autism.
Overall, I think authors have a responsibility to educate as well as entertain. I always love it when I hear from one of my readers and they tell me about how my books inspire them to get out and have a new experience or meet new people. If I can help calm people’s fears and give them hope, I’m doing a good job. There’s a lot of books, movies, music and art out in the world. A large majority of it is just for entertainment, and some of my works are like that, although I do try and slip in simple messages into even my paranormal books. Life has to be more than just the werewolf meets the bear shifter and they fall madly in love and go play in the honey pot for the rest of their lives. Although the honey pot can be very sweet and a lot of fun.
Changing people’s minds about things is also a very big part of what I try and do. I hope through my writing I’ve stopped a few people from doing stupid things that get wildlife killed and maybe helped them realize we’ve got some big problems in gay homeless youth and acceptance. We can all use a lot more acceptance in our lives. With “A Bouquet for Adam” I hope K.T. and I have been able to show people how their friends and family with autism are just like them. They want to be loved, feel secure, and left to live their lives. We all have simple pleasure and we all deserve to be happy. The overall message in this new book is one of acknowledging that just because someone is different, doesn’t mean they’re broken and need fixing. I think we can see a bit of the MC Adam, in everyone. If my readers can see that, then my job has been done.
Adam Stephens’s simple life working in Denver as a computer programmer is turned upside down when his mother suddenly dies. His crazy relatives in Virginia want him to move in with them because they believe his autism makes it impossible for him to care for himself. But life improves, at least for a time. One day while wandering through the botanical gardens, he runs into struggling wildlife photographer Trent Osborn.
As a hesitant love blossoms between the two, Adam’s aunt and uncle push for him to live with them. Adam again refuses. The struggles between his desires and what everyone else wants collide. Adam disappears, and Trent is unsure if he’s run off to escape life’s pressures made worse by his autism, or if something far more sinister has happened. Trent embarks on a cross-country journey in search of Adam. What he discovers changes the course of his and Adam’s lives and the lives of everyone connected to them.
The path widened and then skirted a hot spring. Trent gestured to the steaming, bubbling water. “Here we are.”
“I’ve never been to a hot spring before.” Adam knelt on the large flat rock that marked the edge of the pool. “It’s not very big.”
Setting his camera bag down just far enough that it would be out of any splash zone, but close enough he could get it if he needed to, Trent pulled his T-shirt off. “It doesn’t need to be. There’re just two of us.”
Adam looked up, and his eyes widened. “We didn’t bring any swimsuits. Are we supposed to swim naked? What if someone sees us?”
Trent bent down and untied his hiking boots. “There’s no one around. If someone comes down the trail, we’ll hear them before they get here. It’s not a very quiet trail.” He slipped out of his boots and left them next to the camera bag, carefully rolled up his socks, and put them in the boots.
“Is that what you call it when the leaves and pine needles crunch under every step?” Adam stepped away from the spring, moving next to the camera bag that was quickly being covered with Trent’s clothing.
“Yep.” Trent pulled off his underwear and added them to the pile before walking toward the spring. “You know, I wish I’d thought to bring towels, but I didn’t know we were going to make it this far today.” The steam rolled around him as he eased down into the water. “At least it’s warm enough we should dry quickly without chilling too much, once we get out of the water.”
Adam stood quietly by the camera bag, indecision marring his handsome face. “You’re sure it’s okay?”
“We’re not going to get arrested or anything, I promise.” Trent sighed as the water enveloped him up to his chest. “People do this all the time.” He didn’t actually know whether or not people skinny-dipped in this particular hot spring he’d found several years earlier while tracking a moose through the mountains, but he’d come across folks in other springs that dotted the area around Aspen.
A heavy sigh escaped Adam, and he pulled off his shirt. “Okay, I guess. I usually don’t like to try new things, but this seems to be a time for a lot of new things for me.”
“You’re never too old for new experiences.” Trent leaned against the flat rock where Adam had been earlier. The water’s heat already helped his frustration-tense body relax even more than the mile hike from the Jeep had.
Adam bent over to get his shoes off and then moved as fast as he could to get the rest of his clothes off and get in the water. A couple of waves sloshed rising water around as Adam scampered in.
Then Adam paused with a look Trent couldn’t read on his face. “It’s really hot. I didn’t expect it to be so hot.”
“Some hot tubs are warmer than this.” Trent moved his hand through the water, creating more waves. “Give it a couple of minutes. You’ll adjust.”
Review by Roroblu’sMum
Brilliant, believable, sad and yet happy tale.
I may be lambasted for this, but this book was a brilliant example of how normal and functional people with ‘conditions’ are, though said conditions often mean that wrong assumptions are made about them. In this, Adam has Asperger’s syndrome, but leads a fulfilling life, with a well-paid and responsible job that suits his skills, and he’s even been given a promotion.
I liked that the tale was written with depth in both leads and that every interaction they had was meaningful for them both. For Adam, because it was his first time experiencing a relationship, and for Trent, because he was learning to live again after losing someone. The storyline was a touch predictable, but it was so well and believably done that I was happy to go with the flow. It’s a pity that once again, religion gets a bit of a bad press in this, with members of the church, including a social worker and policemen, being shown as corrupt and misguided. But, there were goodies too, including a judge whose own son had been sent to a church conversion camp, but who was fair and just in his judgment. And, I did like that a bully and his aforementioned cronies were about to get their comeuppance.
The tale only loses a tiny mark as it ended incredibly abruptly, with the bouquet of the title. There was no discussion about the rest of these guys’s lives, about Adam’s job, about where they would live and how/if they could live together. There was talk of Adam having to testify against his uncle, but that too was left in limbo. I couldn’t quite believe that the authors would leave the tale here, as it didn’t seem that there was enough left to be told that they guys would need another book. I just wish they’d given Adam especially, and readers, that little bit extra, that perfect start of a HEA.
4.75* – this only loses a 0.25* due to the abrupt ending.
A.J. has been writing to pass the time since high school. The stories he wrote helped him deal with life. A few years ago, he started sharing those stories with friends who enjoyed them and he has started sending his works out into the world to share with other people. He lives in the mountains with his extremely supportive husband. They have a lot of critters, including dogs, cats, birds, horses, and rabbits. When not writing, A.J. spends a lot of time hiking, trail riding, or just driving in the mountains. Nature provides a lot of inspiration for his work and keeps him writing. He is also an avid photographer and falconer. Don’t get him started talking about his birds, because he won’t stop for a while.
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K.T. Spence is a Colorado author owned by a one-eyed cat named Jacq and has a daughter who is on the autism spectrum. Both want all of her attention, albeit in different ways, and she manages to scratch out stories in her spare time. K.T. Spence is a Colorado author owned by a one-eyed cat named Jacq and has a daughter who is on the autism spectrum. Both want all of her attention, albeit in different ways, but she manages to scratch out stories in her spare time. K.T. is an avid reader. Having learned on her own to read when she was three, she has never not had a book in her hand. In the winter while her mate and daughter are skiing, you’ll most likely find her with a book in one hand, a hot toddy in the other, escaping into whatever world she’s come across. Or she’ll have her fingers on her laptop keyboard, pounding out the next story or thoughts that come to mind. Her dreams include self-sufficiency from writing and riding and owning her own horses. If not writing and/or taking care of her daughter, you’ll find her down at the barn, grooming and learning as much as she can.