The Silence of the Stars by Kate McMurray w Pasta Frutti di Mare and a fab French White.

SilenceoftheStars[The]LGKate McMurray does something in her books that I love. She mixes culture, setting and characters in a way that make her stories rich and interesting every single time. This book, a spin off  The Stars the Tremble,  is a beautiful love story of two men who have not been able to find what they are looking for. Sandy and Everett in each other not only find love, but they find ways to heal, so that they can build the life they always wanted.

Kate’s book always appeal to me because she writes about things I love, like baseball, the opera, or the magic of New York city. Sandy and Everett’s story had the music, and New York City as lovely complements to their romance. This story as charming as it was, also dealt (very well I thought) with PTSD and the struggle with which so many men and women in this country live with when they return from war. There is so much stigma in admitting to being damaged on the inside. Voicing that your head and your heart might never heal even after your body has is something that is just not done. Sandy came back from war broken inside and he just powered through all that pain. He needed to heal and forgive himself and Everett needed to trust his heart to someone that could really treasure it, just as it was.

For this book I wanted to make something a little fancy, like Everett could be, but also fast and simple like Sandy would be able to make if he was in the mood to do a little romancing. So, I came up with a quick and SUPER easy pasta e frutti di mare (pasta with seafood) recipe. I paired it with a lovely French white blend wine that is absolutely perfect to enjoy a seafood dish. The Domaine de Pajot Les Quatre Cepages is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Colombard, Ugni Blanc, and Gros Manseng, it’s a crisp and lightly fruity wine with no sweetness. A wonderful complement to the dish, for about $9.00 a bottle also a great deal!

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Now the story. Sandy has never been very lucky in love. He was in the closet for most of his 20s and 30s while he served in the military. Once he was discharged after a injury during active combat he came back home to NYC and found a good job working with his best friend Mike in his contracting business, he was settled and even bought a house to fix up. But love, it didn’t really pan out. He couldn’t seem to get past one night stands or relationships with men that wanted to change him. After his last breakup Sandy was starting to feel a bit hopeless that he might never have the family he always wanted. That is until Sandy gets to his new contracting job in Brooklyn and meets his new client. Everett Blake, is a violinist and also the hottest thing Sandy has ever seen. They are both on the same page with the attraction and pretty soon they are having a hot and heavy affair.

Both Sandy and Everett can sense that they can fall pretty hard for each other but they are unsure. They each have their insecurities, Sandy still struggles with the memories from his time in Afghanistan and Everett is still trying to figure out what it is that makes him end up in relationships that make him feel so bad about who he is and what makes him happy. They are reluctant to bet on each other. Meanwhile Sandy is fixing up his house with his own hands and is trying to hold on to his dream of filling it up with family, a man he loves and children to raise together. But things are not looking too good for Sandy’s dream, even after meeting Everett and how good they are together. Maybe he’s just too damaged.

This book dealt with a pretty heavy subject, but it did so in a way that was respectful and not melodramatic which I appreciated. Sandy and Everett were falling in love,  and that involved them getting to know the wonderful as well as the not so nice sides to each other. Everett parent’s were snobby and judgmental, while Sandy was struggling to move past his trauma. Things were far from perfect, but they made it work, because they were in love and their future would be much better together than it would be apart.

I love Kate’s writing, it’s quiet and thoughtful and she gives her characters so much depth. Her men are all flesh and blood, and they have a vulnerability that always affects me. In this series particularly I really enjoyed the contrast of her heroes, the blue collar guys with the classical musicians, so unlikely and yet they were just right for each other.  She just goes to the core of what is most important, love…There is always common ground to be discovered and explore when love is the foundation. All in all I really enjoyed this book. I just plain love Kate’s writing.

Definitely recommend.

The Silence of the Stars is available for purchase here.

Pasta Frutti di Mare

1 pack of spaghetti or linguine

3 garlic cloves minced

2 tablespoons of fresh parsley chopped

1 cup of white wine (I used the Domaine the Pajot!)

1 dozen large raw shrimp peeled with tails

1 can of chopped clams with juice

1 can of mussels in juice

2 tablespoons of butter

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 tablespoon spoon of cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon of water.

salt and pepper to taste.

Directions:

Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.

In a hot sautee pan put the butter, oil and garlic at medium-high heat. After a minute add the garlic, sautee for a minute stirring so it doesn’t burn. Add the shrimp and cook for two minutes after they look cooked take out and set aside. In the same pan add the wine,  mussels and clams with juice to the mix.

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Make sure you mix in the garlic and butter on the pan to the seafood, season with salt and pepper and reduce heat to simmer and cook for five minutes or so. Once the mix is fragrant add the cornstarch and stir until the mixture thickens. Add the shrimp back to the sauce, toss in pasta and parsley. Serve with fresh grated Parmesan cheese.

Hope you enjoy the book and give the food and wine a try. They are all quite delicious and perfect for these summer months!

Cheers and Happy Reading!

 

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Gay Athletes: My Favorite Sports Themed Romances

The sports world in this country has been shaken up quite a bit recently. Michael Sam one of the NCAA top football players came out as a gay man, just months before the NFL draft (where he is expected to be a top pick). Also recently Jason Collins a veteran NBA player, who came out a few months ago, signed a contract with the Brooklyn Nets making him the first openly gay athlete to play in an American professional sport. These news are heartening, because despite some nasty responses (from all the usual haters) I think both men have received  great support. It is an interesting time we are living in.

Last week a bill that would essentially have given Arizona businesses a license to discriminate against LGBT people was vetoed by the governor. I think that veto was in a large part due to the incredible amount of public outrage that followed it passing the house. It is sad to think that something so hateful would make it as far as it did, but at the same time, it is encouraging to see that people would not take it sitting down. It will be interesting to see if the testosterone fueled world that is American professional sports can evolve with the times.

Professional sports are an insular world, we see these men that look like gods, that have such power, these amazing specimens of maleness and masculinity playing these sports. We root for them, live and die with their wins and losses…Their victories feel like our victories and yet we don’t know WHO they are. Who they love, who nurses their wounds when they take a beating, who helps them celebrate their moments of glory.

As a sports fan I’ve always been fascinated with what these men’s lives are in private could be like. Are they gentle, passionate, intense, aloof? Who knows right? But we can still get a glimpse of it in the fiction world. When I was thinking of what I should come up with for this week I thought, ATHLETES! I have quite a few favorite novels that feature sportsmen,  as one or both heroes in the story. I thought that would be a fun list for today.

locker room

Clearly my #1 was going to be The Locker Room by Amy Lane, I don’t even think it’s possible for me to make a favorites list that doesn’t include a book from hers at this point. Isn’t it a law somewhere? All Favorites List MUST include an Amy Lane title…Or is that just the voices in my head? So, yeah Xander and Chris the most lovely of all my lovelies. The princes of my Boy Love Kingdom. If you have not read this book you absolutely must, not only is it Amy Lane at her best, but the basketball court scenes are outstanding. Wonderfulness all around. For my original Goodreads review, click here.

out in the field

Out in the Field by Kate McMurray is probably the one book I’ve read in this genre that could have been tailor made for me. I’ve said this before, but from the moment I started reading M/M, I REALLY wanted a book with MLB players, particularly if one of the heroes was a Dominican. I am a huge baseball fan and being Dominican, this book was just literally my DREAM premise. What’s even better is that I LOVED it. Every page, it was above and beyond all my expectations. Iggy and Matt are two of my favorite couples, and read after read that feeling just gets more solid. If you want to read an incredibly realistic and encouraging story about coming out and living in and retiring from a life in sports, this one IS IT. For my original Goodreads review click here.

heart in hand

Heart in Hand is essentially fan fiction, the main characters are Sidney Crosby and Alec Ovechkin who are both professional hockey players. The author ships them in this story which is worthy of ANY publishing house. These two guys were epic. Ovie, man that dude made me cry like a beeyotch. This book had it all in terms of what I look for in stories with athletes, an incredibly respectful and reverent tone about the seriousness and what it takes to become a successful professional athlete, wonderful action moments and some epic highs and lows. There were mighty moments in this book, how people responded to these guys and their story…EPIC. If you have not given this one a try DO IT. You will not regret it. For my original Goodreads review, click here.

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WINE BREAK!!!!!!!

The wine for this post is a DEELISH and super affordable New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.  The 2013 Monkey Bay Sav Blanc is a slam dunk! Not only is it super affordable, $8.99 a bottle it is crisp, citrusy and delicious without any bite at the end. I’ve gone back for this wine a few times since I first tried it, and it will surely be a regular this summer.

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dance with me

Dance with Me by Heidi Cullinan also made it to this list, because it’s awesome.  And because it showcases two men doing ballroom dancing, which if not a traditional sport it is incredibly athletic. Ed and Laurie are incredibly endearing. They are also very strong willed characters. Ed is dealing with life after an injury that ended his ability to play football, which he loved, and Laurie has quietly been licking his wounds after being utterly rejected for trying to challenge tradition in Ballroom dancing. They come together to dance, and it heals them both. Lovely story. For my original Goodreads review, click here.

steamroller

Steamroller by Mary Calmes…Ahhhh that sweet Mary crack that only she can provide. This story has college age heroes, one a cynical little shit who EVERYONE loves and the College Football Star that comes after him with unfettering focus. I love this story, in many ways sports are not at the forefront, but the CULTURE of collegiate sports is highlighted in an interesting perspective. The star who wants to be free of  the burden all the adoration and pressure to be the best represents, and on the other side of the coin the cynical boy that has formed an unfair opinion of who a jock is or can be. So yeah, I liked this one, and it served up all the good stuff we love in Ms. Calmes’ stories. I’ve gona back for MANY a re-read

BONUS PICK: Love of Sports Series by TA Chase

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This series is an oldie, but a goodie. I read it a really long time ago, like thousands of books ago, but I still really like it. The first story has professional basketball star as one of the heroes and the second a NASCAR driver. The writing is a bit on the sweet side, but I liked the characters and enjoyed the romance as well. These are good for a light, fluffy read!

Hope the list is useful in finding some new books to read! I love all these stories, and hope some of them become part of your favorites shelves!

Cheers and Happy Reading!

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