Way back in the way back, when I was in seventh grade, my default best friend who stepped in after my bestest best friend passed away introduced me to Bruce Springsteen. Her college aged brother listened to Bruce, and so we must listen to Bruce too. My first favorite song was "Thunderroad" followed by pretty much all of the Born to Run album, followed by pretty much all of Darkness on the Edge of Town.
And my very favorite track on Darkness was "Candy's Room."
Remember, I was in seventh grade-- it took me a while to figure out why strangers from the city would bring Candy fancy clothes and diamond rings-- but something there must have stuck. "Cause they don't see that what--what--she--she--wants--wants--is ME!"
That idea that although parts of Candy were for sale (and yes, I did figure out which parts) there was still a part of Candy that wanted pure, unswerving devotion--that stuck. That was real to me.
There's a moment in Ethan in Gold in which Jonah recalls movies and songs about men in love with prostitutes, and how he'd never been able to figure out why a man would want a woman who was "cheating" on him. I remember trying to wrap my head around that, and the answer I came to in the end was that sex was sex and love was love, and sometimes they were exactly the same thing and sometimes they were as far apart as fish and flowers. The hard thing-- the human thing--was negotiating the space between.
When Ethan starts out this story, he is young, and he's had a hard initiation into the differences between sex, love, exploitation, and power exchange. He could probably write his own psyche manual by the time he's twelve but all he frickin' wants is a goddamned hug.
I like Ethan. He's proactive. He wants a hug, goddammit, and he'll do what he has to to have that need fulfilled.
In the end, what he chooses for that need is Johnnies.
There is a quote from Supernatural, when Castiel has been ejected from a brothel, where he says, "That young woman has a deep seated need for a father figure," and Dean replies, "The whole world stays in business because of daddy issues."
And mommy issues.
And that's where we go with Ethan in Gold.
This story made me cry--ugly, snot cry-- in a lot of places, some of them places people probably would not even guess. It snuck up on me that way. The whole time I was thinking, "Well, it couldn't possibly be as painful as Chase," but I forget all of the lesser ways people can hurt each other without even trying. The scenes in which Ethan is interacting with his peer group, and they are all in so much pain but no one ever talks about it-- those made my stomach clench. In the end, Ethan and Jonah needed their happy ending because we need to believe that all people can have a happy ending, in spite of pain, in spite of past, that happiness can be reached for in the now.
Anyway-- Ethan in Gold is out! It's available from Dreamspinner Press, All Romance e-books, and (eventually in Kindle) from amazon.com. I hope it makes you cry-- and I mean that in the best possible way. I hope it touches you. Ethan was... well, irrepressible, mostly, and damaged, and fun, and Jonah gave me faith in so very many things.
Here's the blurb and the excerpt-- enjoy. Oh yeah- and we can't forge the prayer! Can you join with me?
Holy Goddess, merciful God-- let it not suck! Cannyagimmehallelujia? Iknewyacouldamen!
Ethan in Gold
Johnnies: Book Three
Evan Costa learned from a very early age that there was no such thing as unconditional love and that it was better to settle for what you could get instead of expecting the world to give you what you need. As Ethan, porn model for Johnnies, he gets exactly what he wants—comradeship and physical contact on trade—and he is perfectly satisfied with that. He’s sure of it.
Jonah Stevens has spent most of his adult life helping to care for his sister and trying to keep his beleaguered family from fraying at the edges. He’s had very little time to work on his confidence or his body for that matter. When Jonah meets Ethan, he doesn’t see the hurt child or the shamelessly slutty porn star. He sees a funny, sexy, confident man who—against the odds—seems to like Jonah in spite of his very ordinary, but difficult, life.
Sensing a kindred spirit and a common interest, Ethan thinks a platonic friendship with Jonah won’t violate his fair trade rules of sex and touch, but Jonah has different ideas. Ethan’s pretty sure his choice of jobs has stripped away all hope of a real relationship, but Jonah wants the whole package—the sexy man, the vulnerable boy, the charming companion who works so hard to make other people happy. Jonah wants to prove that underneath the damage Ethan has lived with all his life, he’s still gold with promise and the ability to love.