This is Ashavan Doyon posting from The Novel Approach — the final stop on our blog tour for Steven’s Heart. I have a special place in my heart for the Novel Approach, which gave a touching and honest review of Loving Aidan last year after it came out calling it “a very honest story of college-aged angst.”
I know that reviewer felt badly for Steven, and I hope that Steven’s Heart brings those feelings to a satisfying resolution. In writing romance it can be so tempting to write about first love. And we see that in Loving Aidan from Steven and Sammy. But Aidan has been burned in love, and that changes his reactions a lot in the story.
So in Steven’s Heart we see a reflection of that. Steven also is burned by that first love, painfully aware that love doesn’t just go away. And so what we see with Steven is a journey towards being willing to take that risk that goes with taking a second chance and trying to find love again. I think that’s a really romantic idea. Anyone who has suffered a broken heart (which, let’s face it, is most of us after we get to a certain age) knows what a struggle it can be to open your heart after suffering that pain. I get comments sometimes about how love doesn’t really hurt that much when you lose it, like the portrayal of that loss is unrealistic. Most often it’s a critique of the men crying that much.
Men cry plenty, they just are careful, very careful, about who is allowed to see it. And that’s how most men in the US are raised. We’re trained not to cry in public. We’re taught to believe that showing that emotion is feminine and negative (sexism at work, because note that being feminine is automatically seen as negative for a man) and that is especially true for young gay men, who are often working so hard at hiding anything that might show them as feminine, because those are the tells that people use to attack them for being gay, for seeming gay. So I wanted to show that pain as it is. And for those naysayers who think I’ve exaggerated what that is like — please know that if anything, I’ve gone in the other direction and softened it.
Steven acknowledges that truth to Sarah early in the story. He’s talking to Sarah and he tells her outright that men cry all the time, that they just don’t let people see it. Really it’s that conversation that pushes Steven into a place where he can be ready to consider love again. And I think it’s because he’s hearing his own feelings reflected back. Steven broke Sarah’s heart. And hearing her talk about that, having her remind him that he’d want her to find love again, that he’d want her to at least try to find love again — it’s that reminder that makes Steven feel compelled to finally go to Aidan and say goodbye.
That we can come from a place of such pain and find joy again is, I think, one of the most remarkable things about relationships. They can tear us to pieces, but because they can also build us back up, there’s a drive and a tentativeness and wonder that I think is really special when the people involved have had that love. Because then those lovers, they know what’s at risk. They understand what that pain is. And that’s part of why I show that pain the way I do, because I think it’s really important for the reader to understand that Steven knows what that risk is. He’s had that pain. And he’s walking into that chance again. He’s doing it knowing how much loving someone can hurt.
I hope readers will enjoy Steven’s Heart. I hope they’ll see not only the angst, of which there’s plenty, but also the joy and the fun and the mystery.
Thanks again to The Novel Approach for hosting this stop on the blog tour! I’ll leave you all with the cover and blurb for the story. I hope you’ll read it and learn what taking that chance brings to Steven.
Blurb: When a love triangle breaks, Steven Everett is left alone to grieve over a boyfriend lost to someone else. Surrounded by friends too tied to Aidan’s new lover to give advice, Steven turns instead to a broken and beaten man, Aidan’s other ex, Michael Rossier, who also knows the pain of having loved and lost Aidan. Steven’s and Michael’s confessions grow deeper, each confiding in the other until neither can deny an attraction. But being with Michael feels like cheating, and Steven isn’t sure what to do. The connection get stronger every day, and Steven realizes he’s facing an impossible choice.
To make a relationship with Michael work, Steven needs to make peace with Michael’s troubled past. Even more terrifying, he’ll have to tell Michael the secret he’s never told anyone, not even Aidan. With Michael recovering from yet another surgery, Steven leaves to face the ghosts of the past. He has to be certain. This time, Steven knows, the decision means revealing the secrets of his heart and hoping their fragile feelings can survive.
Ashavan Doyon spends his days working with students as part of the student affairs staff at a liberal arts college. During lunch, evenings, and when he can escape the grasp of his husband on weekends, he writes, pounding out words day after day in hopes that his ancient typewriter-trained fingers won’t break the glass on his tablet computer. Ashavan is an avid science fiction and fantasy fan and prefers to write while listening to music that fits the mood of his current story. He has no children, having opted instead for the companionship of two beautiful and thoroughly spoiled pugs. A Texan by birth, he currently lives in New England, and frequently complains of the weather.
The Giveaway: Two e-copies of Steven’s Heart, One print copy of Loving Aidan *(US residents only)