by Anna Denisch Genre: Alternate Historical LGBTQ Romance
A heart-warming and entertaining poly romance story about marriage bonds, friendship, and the endless supply of love we all carry in our hearts.
According to the rumors, Ainsley is a prostitute. To escape the meddling ways of their families, Ainsley and his husband Graham move to a new town where they hope to find peace. Ainsley spends his days worrying if Graham's decision to marry him was the right one, and he is devoted to giving Graham the life he deserves.
Andrew Croften has never been one to settle down, despite how desperately he seeks companionship. His romantic life is a series of half-flung flings that earned him the title of 'home wrecker' and his professional life is haunted by his long-term bully. But when he visits his friends' party and meets the charming and adorable Ainsley, he devises a plan to steal him away from his husband.
Yet Croften finds himself drawing closer to Graham as well, especially as Graham's brother and Croften's bully are intent on causing chaos in their lives. Perhaps three heads (or rather hearts) are better than two
“Here,” he said, slowing to a walk and grabbing Graham’s wrist. “Let me see it.”
Graham looked sick. His hand shook as he let Croften uncover it. Fuck. His thumb was purple and swollen.
“Yeah,” Croften said. “That’s broken.”
He started leading them towards the doctor’s office. Graham was unusually pale. He was still biting his lip, and he refused to look up. Croften figured it probably hurt. He had broken his toe once as a kid. It never did set properly (part of why he walked like that), and it had hurt like hell. He had to give props to Graham. Croften had cried for a solid hour.
They had to wait for the doctor to see them, of course. They were given a small bag of ice and told to sit down and just wait. Graham didn’t fight it as Croften continued to hold the injured hand, pressing the ice to it firmly. He winced once, but that was all. He still didn’t look at him.
Croften was perfectly content to sit there in silence. For all of two minutes. “So, uh, you never learned to punch, huh?” Graham did not respond. One the plus side, Croften wasn’t really as afraid of being murdered by a guy who didn’t know how to punch.
“What are you gonna tell Ainsley?” He didn’t exactly want Ainsley to know the truth. Mainly because he was afraid he’d go talk to Henri and things would just get more out of hand. Graham remained silent.
“Hurt that bad huh?” He figured Graham was just concentrating on not yelling out or crying. A noble goal. Still nothing.
Well, as long as he wasn’t going to be talking…
“Thanks,” Croften said. Graham didn’t speak, but he did finally look up at him. Croften looked down at the hand he was holding. He didn’t notice how smooth Graham's hands were before. And warm, despite the ice on the knuckles. “No one’s...uh...no one’s ever done something like that for me before.”
He could feel himself blushing and it was stupid. Graham was the enemy. He was the block in the road that led to Ainsley. He shouldn’t be thanking him. He shouldn’t be drawn to the warmth his body radiated.
“You are worth more than you think,” Graham said, his voice soft and quiet. Croften pretended not to hear him.
Anna Denisch was born and raised just outside of Baltimore City, but she has never called it home. When not traveling around the world or daydreaming about dragons, she spends her time looking at books she wants to read without actually touching them. She received her M.F.A in Creative and Professional Writing from Western Connecticut State University and considers daily if she is just insane enough to take her family’s sometime suggestion of getting a PhD.
What are some of your pet peeves?
Okay, honestly my biggest pet peeve is modern adaptations of Shakespeare plays that still use the old language. I just…I get it, because the writing is like, half of the deal but like…if you’re gonna modernize it, MODERNIZE IT
If you knew you'd die tomorrow, how would you spend your last day?
I am a very stubborn and spiteful person who would 100% spend my last day trying to prevent it from being my last day. (With the people I love, of course, just in case).
Describe yourself in 5 words or less!
Stubborn, Spiteful, Storyteller (that’s the title of my one-day forthcoming autobiography, ya know, once I hit it big and famous)
What inspired you to write this book?
This book was mainly written out of spite, which can be a useful motivational tool. I had gotten so tired of seeing the same old ‘jealous husband/loveless marriage’ troupe going around (mostly in fandom spaces, ngl) and I just wanted to shatter that concept. I wanted to write a story that had a similar set up, but that did something new and unique with it instead, such as turning a love triangle into a healthy poly relationship.
What can we expect from you in the future?
Hopefully more of the same and a bunch of the different! I already have a sequel to Devotion in the works, and I have a half-plotted adjacent historical romance set in the 1900’s on the back burner as well.
For my non-romance-centered books, I have a few other manuscripts finished, but only one is even close to being ready to be released into the wild. The goal is to at least make enough selling one book to be able to publish the next.
Do you have any “side stories” about the characters?
I have several.
One of which is a special short story I’ll be getting out to people on my mailing list about these three absolute fools getting married.
There is also the following conversation that unfortunately never made it to the book but which I am still fond of:
Ainsley: Surely you two can get along. There must be something you have in common.
Croften: I mean, we both like you?
Ainsley: Other than that.
Croften: Oh, I got it! We’re both bi!
*enter all the face palms*
How did you come up with the concept and characters for the book?
Like all great works of literature, this actually did start out as fanfiction. The character Graham was originally based off was someone I related to a lot, and who got the most amount of heat/hatred in the community. Which was fun times. So really, the spite of that drove this to creation. The characters and situations have changed a lot since it was a fanfic, but the spite is still all there, trust me.
Where did you come up with the names in the story?
I, like many writers of my time, utilize the behind the name website. I looked up names from England and browsed through them until I found the ones that fit well with my characters and their personalities.
Ainsley’s name means things like ‘solitary’ and ‘hermitage’
Graham’s name means things like ‘gravelly homestead’
And Croften’s name just had a fun sound to it as ‘town with a small, enclosed field’ doesn’t really say much about him as a person. (Or does it?)
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
I think what I enjoyed the most was the speed it got written. Not so much edited, but you know how it is. I was diagnosed with ADHD just a few weeks before writing this, and I actually started it in the first week I started taking medication. Now, I am still chasing the high that first month of medication gave my writing, but overall, I can’t even remember what it was like trying to write unmedicated, and how I ever got anything finished at all beforehand.
Who designed your book covers?
My book cover was designed by my wonderful and amazing friend and spectacular artist Arka! She’s been a friend of mine for a few years now and has always been my go-to for any art commission need. We’ve both grown a lot in our art over time, and I’m so honored to be able to work with her time and time again.
If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
All I’ve got so far is either Tanc Sade or Robert Sheehan as Croften
If you could spend time with a character from your book whom would it be? And what would you do during that day?
I think it would be a lot of fun to hang out with Ursula and just revel in all the different ways she’s tortured Croften throughout the years.
Convince us why you feel your book is a must read.
Mainly because while doing research for comps I found it hard to find any. I believe that every audience should have the book they’re looking for, no matter how niche it is.
What are your top 10 favorite books/authors?
(In no particular order)
Markus Zusak – The Book Thief, The Messenger
Andy Weir – The Martian, Artemis
Claire North – The First 15 Lives of Harry August
Cat Sebastian – The Queer Principles of Kit Webb
Emily Skrutskie – The Abyss Surrounds us
L. A. Meyer – Bloody Jack Series
How long have you been writing?
Since I could hold a pencil. But I’ve been telling stories since I could speak semi-coherent sentences.
What do you think about the current publishing market?
I think it’s highly saturated and yet unnecessarily gate-kept. There are a lot of writers and fantastic books that should be published but that aren’t because mainstream publishers only want the next hit that will appeal to as many people as possible. And since indie or self-publishing continues to have such a stigma to it, niche topics just aren’t making the market.
Do you read yourself and if so what is your favorite genre?
I used to read a LOT but then I got a degree in fancy reading and decided that I would apparently not read ever again (mostly). When I can be bothered to read, I usually go for SF/Fantasy or, surprising even to myself, non-fiction on the memoir/self-help end of the spectrum.
Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time?
If you could see the number of WIPs I have right now….
I usually have a bunch of half-strewn about ideas and pages, but when it comes to actively working on books, I tend to focus on one for a short amount of time and then shift to another. That’s kind of how I ended up with three finished manuscripts all in about a few weeks of each other.
Pen or type writer or computer?
I am mostly a computer writer because my handwriting is awful, and I think too fast for my wrist to keep up. (My fingers are much better at the pace I set). However, whenever I’m traveling, I love nothing more than having a notebook(must be hardback and spiral bound) and pen ready to go, even if it’s easy enough to use my laptop.
A day in the life of the author?
Wake up. Lay in bed and daydream about books you’re working on. Get out of bed and eat an easy to make breakfast because people who have the energy to actually cook in the morning scare you. Do your day job (blog writing, wa, hecking, hoo). Complain about your day job to your roommate when they get home from work (night-shift nurse). Procrastinate doing your day job as you fiddle on your phone/play around online. Eat lunch and finally finish your gosh darn assignments for the day. Tell yourself you’ll work on your other freelance projects, but really just read or do some light housekeeping instead. Get the fear-spiration halfway through the afternoon and do some other freelance work. Eat dinner, also something easy because, honestly, people who have the energy to cook at all are terrifying and should be feared. Tell yourself you’ve done a lot today and sit down to either watch TV or play a game. Decide at 9 or 10 at night that it’s the perfect time to actually work on your own writing. Don’t get enough done. Rinse, wash, repeat.
Do you have any advice to offer for new authors?
Don’t listen too well to anyone’s advice (even mine! Yes, this one right here!) Everyone has their own style and format, and anyone offering advice on writing will be inflicting their own judgement (including me, who is a writer that disagrees with many so called ‘writing advice’ posts I see all the time).
The only advice you should follow with 100% devotion (see what I did there?) and intensity is as follows:
Keep writing, and don’t give up.
Describe your writing style.
I have a very sparse, quick style. I think it probably stems from my ADHD, but I’m not a reader that enjoys a lot of descriptions or anything like that. In fact, I tend to just blow through most of it and just get on with the story. I think physical description is good if it lends to the plot or character development, otherwise, a) what does it matter? And b) I want to let the reader imagine their own world/setting, not tell them about it.
This is a very unpopular writing style/opinion on writing and reading, even among my close friends and family.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I think a lot more readers want your originals than may be expected. The way I see it, there’s an audience for every book, so why write for a different audience when you can fill that one’s needs just fine.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
Well…the longest book took me…7 years.
Devotion took a month.
(First drafts anyway)
Do with that what you will.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
I believe in writer’s being blocked. But I don’t think there’s any one surefire way to get around it or that it’s something that can’t be dealt with. I think writer’s block is a big term that covers a lot of issues creatives face on a daily basis. But it’s easier to just say you have writer’s block so people leave you alone to deal with it.
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