LIVING OUT LOUD
NYRAE DAWN & CHRISTINA LEE
RELEASE DATE: 09.08.17
Wander Aguiar Photography
COVER MODEL: Brook
Ben Emerson has lived by his minister father’s rules most of his life. Born into an ultra-conservative church community, he’s finally brave enough to break free and move to San Francisco. Distancing himself certainly helps create a new mindset, but living as an openly gay man takes some getting used to. When he reaches out to Xavier, a childhood friend who lives in the city, Ben isn’t sure how he’ll respond given their thorny history. Ben hopes the familiar connection will help him right some wrongs as well as provide the solace he’s been craving.
Xavier Ramos is who he is, and he doesn’t give a damn what anyone thinks. Whether it’s eyeliner, nail polish, tattoos or his love of hooking up, he uses his body as a form of self-expression but doesn’t let anyone get too close. When Ben reenters his life, Xavier helps him experience the city and feel comfortable in his own skin. Seeing the world through Ben’s eyes, he begins to wonder if he’s also not living as freely as he thought.
When Xavier challenges Ben’s beliefs about sex, it becomes explosive—for both of them. Xavier breaks apart Ben’s sheltered world and shows him what it’s like to live out loud. The more time they spend together, the more Xavier begins to long for Ben in a different way—one that both surprises and scares him. But real life doesn’t fade into the background, so when Ben’s past comes knocking, old habits are hard to break. Testing the foundation of their deepening connection will take a trust that will either bind them…or tear them apart.
**Riley Hart writing as Nyrae Dawn
**Ben is from PAINT THE STARS and Xavier is from A HUNDRED THOUSAND WORDS, but LIVING OUT LOUD can be read as a complete standalone.
“Get your ass down here.” He frowns and I pat the floor beside me. “I’m serious, B. Get your ass down here. You can take it off when I’m done if you don’t like it. How do you know if something’s your style if you’ve never done it?”
I blow on my fingernails trying to get them to dry. Ben doesn’t move right away, but then he slides down to the floor beside me.
My pulse kicks up a notch. I don’t know why I want this so much for him.
He puts his hand on the table and I paint the first nail.
“I feel stupid,” he tells me.
“Do you think I look stupid with it?”
“Hell no. You look hot but—”
“But nothing. Be quiet and let me work.”
He chuckles. “You’re bossy.”
“You ain’t seen nothing yet,” I reply before getting back to work on his nails. His fingers are long, thicker than mine. His hands are beat up from his work, rough and abused with little scratches on them. “I can’t wait till you can touch me. I love rough hands.”
“Oh shit,” he says with a thickness to his voice that tells me he’s getting turned on again.
I finish the first hand before saying, “Now, the other.” He sets that hand on the table, but I grab it, suck one of his fingers into my mouth, even though I hadn’t planned to touch him again tonight.
“Fuck, Xavier,” he says and his eyes roll back in a way that really gets me hard.
“You’re trembling,” I tell him as his hand gently shakes.
“That’s because I’m really turned on right now.”
4.5 out of 5 stars
Living Out Loud is a new contemporary bringing two characters from previous books by these authors together. However this can be read as a standalone, unless of course you haven't read Paint The Stars and A Hundred Thousand Words...in which case you need to grab those, also.
Ben and Xavier couldn't be more different but at one time they were the best of friends. Only Ben's religious upbringing pushed itself between them after a youthful kiss. Ben has had to overcome his upbringing and break from his family in order to live his life to the fullest but he still deals with the religious guilt instilled in him from childhood and his teen years. Xavier is a tattooed and pierced, out and proud man who's lived by his own rules since his 'family' basically paid him to leave.
Living Out Loud is an apt title for Ben and Xavier's story. Xavier has a wall that he's created between him and any potential for more then just a one-night stand with whoever he meets. Ben's upbringing gives him such horrible guilt and angst that it's impossible for him to enjoy being with anyone. Once these two reconnect, though, their lives start to change. They both realize that the other person is who they want to be with, they just have to overcome their own insecurities and their own past issues. Ben's story is going to make most of us readers rage against his parents and his upbringing. The flip side of that is seeing Ben open up and learn that being gay isn't wrong and enjoy having a relationship with another man.
I honestly think that these two characters are my favorite by this author team. Xavier is such a fierce personality, while Ben is trying to find his feet but it still grabbing life with both hands. Watching their relationship deepen and seeing them start to overcome their issues by exploring their possibilities together is going to keep you engrossed in this book until the final words on the last page. You can't deny that these boys weren't meant to be together, nor that they show the other person what it means to have someone to support them and to just be there for them.
The authors gave just enough backstory on both Ben and Xavier to set up their story but not so much that it overwhelmed the current time line of the story. It was the perfect amount for this reader. I wish there had been a bit more confrontation from Ben to his family but really the way that conflict wrapped up worked for Ben. Again we have characters that have also created their own family with the people they've met, showing that, especially in the LGBTQ community, blood doesn't necessarily create a family...we do.
This is a fantastic read, and one I highly recommend both for fans of both authors and for those that enjoy the friends to lovers storylines. You need to grab this one but plan time to read it in one sitting!
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Nyrae Dawn can almost always be found with a book in her hand or an open document on her laptop. She couldn’t live without books—reading or writing them. Oh, and chocolate. She’s slightly addicted.
She gravitates toward character-driven stories. Whether reading or writing, she loves emotional journeys. It’s icing on the cake when she really feels something, but is able to laugh too. She’s a proud romantic, who has a soft spot for flawed characters, who make mistakes, but also have big hearts.
Whether she’s writing young adult, new adult, or adult you can always count on a healthy dose of romance from her books. She likes to tackle tough subjects, and believes everyone needs to see themselves in the stories they read.
Nyrae is living her very own happily ever after in California with her gorgeous husband (who still makes her swoon) and her two incredibly awesome kids.
Once upon a time, I lived in New York City and was a wardrobe stylist. I spent my days shopping for photo shoots, getting into cabs, eating amazing food, and drinking coffee at my favorite hangouts.
Now I live in the Midwest with my husband and son—my two favorite guys. I've been a clinical social worker and a special education teacher. But it wasn't until I wrote a weekly column for the local newspaper that I realized I could turn the fairytales inside my head into the reality of writing fiction.
I write Adult, New Adult, and M/M Contemporary Romance. I'm addicted to lip gloss and salted caramel everything. I believes in true love and kissing, so writing romance novels has become a dream job.