Prism Book Alliance® would like to thank Brandon Witt for stopping by today.
Title: The Imperfection of Swans
Author: Brandon Witt
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Brandon Witt / Paul Richmond
Genre: M/M Romance
Kevin Bivanti’s dream is to open a wedding dress shop, a place with the stunning gowns to make every bride-to-be feel adored. At thirty-eight, he quits a successful advertising career to buy an old brownstone in a trendy Boston neighborhood and to make his dream a reality. When one of his cosigners drops out, fate intervenes, ushering in Casper James, who hopes to open his own bakery. With Casper willing to take the risk, their ambitions meld into a wedding dress and wedding cake boutique.
Extensive renovations to the brownstone, an affair with his ex-husband, family drama with his mothers, and the anxiety of significant life changes push Kevin to the brink of a nervous breakdown. In the midst of stress and uncertainty, Casper becomes more than a business partner, a mutual attraction that adds another layer of intensity and risk.
With their dreams on the verge of reality, Kevin and Casper must find the courage to face the stress of managing their attraction, the gamble of a new business venture, and the resurgence of Kevin’s personal demons.
The Imperfection of Swans / Excerpt and Giveaway
Maybe you’re the type of person who loves weddings. You love to go to weddings, plan weddings, sift through wedding dress magazines. Or, maybe, just maybe, you’re like me, and avoid weddings like the plague. You have to be one of my best friends who’d I’d die for or my brother (who I would also die for) in order for me to attend. Either way, no matter which type of person you are, there is one thing on which we can agree. Wedding cakes are AMAZING!!! Like, really. I want to get married just so I can have a wedding cake testing day! You might have thought I helped rally for equal marriage rights for my gay brothers and sisters. You probably thought I did so for the sake of love. Nope. It was all about the cake.
Well, maybe not entirely.
But the cake sure doesn’t hurt.
Several years ago, I did a photo shoot of my best friend. The picture you see on the cover of The Imperfection of Swans is one of the photos I took of Kevin. It screamed at me from then on to write its story. I finally did. I got Kevin’s permission to use many true aspects of his life within this novel. One of Kevin’s dreams is to leave his high-power, high stress corporate world and open a bridal shop. Inspired by his dream and his powerful personality, Swans is the result of me saying, what if…
(That, and spending two days researching in the most elite wedding dress shop in Denver. I’d love to tell you some of the clients who fly from around the country to buy their gown at this shop, but I agreed not to. Needless to say, I saw an entirely different side of the wedding industry. It was a ton of fun. And, let me tell you, designer gowns? Nearly a great a cake.)
The Imperfection of Swans is arriving into the world on January 18. Just a few short days away. I will include a pre-order link in this posting.
Below is an excerpt, where Kevin and Casper meet for the first time.
Okay, let me set the scene. (I feel like I’m on Jay Leno or something.)
Casper just agreed to meet Brent, who is a guy he has occasionally hooked up with, but doesn’t really like, and his co-workers, out for party. However, after he agrees, Brent tells him that his group is meeting at the restaurant where Casper is the head pastry chef. Though he realizes he was invited as nothing more than a guaranteed good table, Casper goes anyway, just to prove a point. Upon arrival, Brent announced to his co-workers that Casper is his boyfriend, which he isn’t.
This is the scene where Casper meets Kevin for the first time and learns about his dreams of a wedding dress shop.
Despite Brent’s awkward introduction, Casper was glad he’d come. The table fell into an easy buzz, splitting off into pairs. The two on the opposite end, whose names he couldn’t remember, Brent and Kevin, and he and Monica, who turned out to be a riot. So much so, that between Monica’s irreverent humor and over-the-top makeup, Casper wondered about the possibility of her being a drag queen. The desserts passed his inspection, and the second glass of port made the softly lit room fuzzily romantic and pushed away the thoughts of returning to work here the next afternoon.
In between laughing bouts with Monica, he found himself nearly staring at the man across from him. Kevin was stunning. His short-cropped hair was dark, so dark that Casper couldn’t tell if it was a deep brown or actually black. His eyes were similar, dark brown with flecks of green that caught the light. A five o’clock shadow darkened his cut jaw and lightly cleft chin. He seemed small, probably about the same height as Casper, though it was hard to tell with them both sitting, but it was easy to see Kevin kept in shape. Again Casper found himself thinking about sex as he looked at him, imagining the muscles and lean body that waited under the designer clothes.
He’d glanced at Brent occasionally to see if Brent noticed his “boyfriend” inspecting Kevin so closely. Every time he looked, Brent’s full attention was honed onto Kevin as well. If Casper was reading Kevin’s expression correctly, it seemed that Kevin wasn’t exactly comfortable with Brent’s intensity or his nearness. He did a good job hiding it, but it was there. Or maybe it was just the buzz Casper had going.
One of the name-forgotten women on the opposite end interrupted Casper’s lustful inspection. “So, Kevin, now that Sylvie isn’t here to get teary every time we try to bring it up, tell us about this wedding dress shop you’re buying.”
Looking relieved to have a place to direct his attention, somewhere other than Brent, Kevin cleared his throat nervously. “Well, I’m hoping to buy a building, and I’m hoping to open a wedding dress shop there. The loan is in progress. It’s been about three weeks. It’s taking forever with all the different angles we have to cover, but I think it’s looking good. If all goes smoothly, we should close in a week.”
Brent spoke up, seeming like he was trying to regain Kevin’s attention more than actually from genuine interest. “It’s in one of those old brownstones, right?”
“Well that narrows it down. Very deductive, Brent.” Monica didn’t like Brent. No doubt. Actually Casper had noticed that it seemed no one at the table liked Brent. “Imagine. A brownstone. In Boston.”
Kevin started to laugh, then cut off abruptly, with a side-glance toward Brent. “You’re right. It is in a brownstone. Right across from the theater in South End.”
Casper sat up straighter. “The one pretty close to the Eagle?”
“Uhm….” Kevin narrowed his eyes.
“About a block away from The Butcher Shop.”
His eyes lit up. “Yes! That’s the one. You’ve seen it?”
“Yeah, I went by it tonight.” Casper noticed Brent giving him an accusing look. “I, uh, went to a play this evening.” He turned back to Kevin, shoving his irritation with Brent aside. “The one with the green storefront and the blacked-out windows.”
Kevin nodded. “Yes. That’s it.”
“Wow. I’m so stinking jealous. I was just thinking how I’d kill to open a bakery in that spot. Good for you!” Casper meant it. “I hope it works out for you. You’re giving me hope. What’s it like inside?”
Kevin faltered for a moment, a look of stress or fear washing over his features. “Oh. Let’s just say it’s beautiful from the outside.” A nervous laugh escaped, and he cleared his throat once more. “I’ve spent more time in there than I should. The first floor isn’t too bad. Well, I thought so at first, until I saw the other three stories. I can’t figure out how a building in that location was allowed to get into such a mess. Some old lady lived in the top two floors and ran a business of some kind on the main level. A shoe shop, I think it was. I thought with it being in a historic district, it would be in decent shape.”
Brent smacked Kevin on the shoulder. “You’re going to have a three- story wedding dress shop? I didn’t know there were that many options. They’re just a bunch of white dresses.”
Casper couldn’t help but roll his eyes. If Brent was trying to get into bed with Kevin, which he obviously was, regardless of his sudden status as Casper’s boyfriend, he’d just ruined any shot he’d had. Probably hadn’t been much of one to begin with.
“Well, no, it won’t be a three-story wedding dress shop.” Kevin scooted infinitesimally away from Brent. “At most it could be two, one day. It could be a four-story building, but it’s divided into three. The first level has high ceilings that take up two stories. There is a second floor, but it’s a mess. And the top floor is an apartment, of sorts—gorgeous windows, but it should probably be condemned. I think I’ll have to shut off the two upper floors. It would be too expensive to redo the whole thing and fill the entire place up with inventory. But maybe one day.”
Brent tried again. “An expensive brownstone and you’re only going to use one level? Talk about financial suicide. I think you need me to help you with business planning. I might be better at it than you.”
The entire table gaped at Brent.
Casper wanted to stand up and announce to the restaurant that Brent never had been nor ever would be his boyfriend.
Monica let out an exasperated breath. “As much as I hate to ever agree with even a drop of what comes out of Brent’s mouth—”
“Shut up, Brent. Go get us coffee or something.” The practiced sneer cutting across her face was most definitely drag queen worthy.
The hurt that crossed Brent’s face actually made Casper feel a bit sorry for him.
“As I was saying,” Monica addressed Kevin. “He might have a point. Maybe you could rent out the second level to another business or something.”
Kevin considered for a moment, then shook his head. “I don’t want some random store taking away from the shop. I want the brides to feel like they are in an exclusive, enchanting wedding shop.”
Monica lifted her last forkful of chocolate cake between them. “Rent to a wedding cake baker. One-stop shop.” She popped the cake in her mouth, then motioned toward Casper, not bothering to finish chewing. “Hell, get this one to do it. This cake is fucking fantastic.”
Casper turned toward her, trying to keep his jaw from hitting the floor.
In that one statement, Casper felt the world shift. A spike of terror flooded through him, then longing, followed by the realization of how ludicrous it would be.
A grin began to spread over Kevin’s face. “Huh. Monica, you may be onto something. I’d not thought about that. That could be amazing. And charging rent could help me with the mortgage.” He let out a laugh, one that sounded like relief. “If you ever need a wedding dress, it will be on the house!”
Monica grimaced. “No thank you, honey. Though I will take a free wedding cake. Seven layers.”
Kevin grinned. “You got it.”
Fate. People had always called him crazy to believe in fate as much as he did, but Casper didn’t care. Sure, you had to work hard. Had to work your damned ass off, but you also needed to look for fate. Too many people worked their whole lives for a dream and ignored signs and nudgings. Others didn’t work at all and simply waited for fate to drop a golden ticket in their lap.
Casper Leroy James was of neither variety.
He looked around Savor, slightly dazed and already mentally saying a surreal good-bye. When he refocused on the table, he saw Kevin watching him.
Casper took a breath. “Actually, Monica, that’s a great idea. If that happens, I’ll make you a seven-layer wedding cake every single year.” He kept his gaze locked on Kevin’s eyes, judging the sincerity. “Are you serious? Do you think a wedding dress and cake combo is a good idea?”
Kevin nodded slowly, seeming as dazed as Casper felt. “Yeah. I think so. I’d never thought of it before, but it could be pretty amazing.”
Never let fate slip through your fingers. Casper pulled out his wallet and fished inside, finding what he was looking for, then holding it out to Kevin. “Here’s my business card. Think about it, and let me know. I’ll rent a floor from you. I can bake a variety for you or whatever you might need so you know the quality.”
“Don’t you need to think about it?” Kevin looked at him like he was crazy.
“No. Not for a minute.” A sense of excited calm settled over him. “Nope. You say the word, and I’m all in.”
The discussion around the table gradually slid to other things, but Casper heard none of it. He was lost in his mind. Lost to images of cakes, marble counters, creating his own visions.
He could feel it. This was it. Sooner than he’d dreamed and totally different than he’d considered. But this was it.
For anyone who comments on this post, I will come back on the 9th of January, put each name in a hat (or a bowl, something—I don’t wear hats), and pick two people to win a copy of an eBook on my backlist, any one they want.
About the Author
Brandon Witt’s outlook on life is greatly impacted by his first eighteen years of growing up gay in a small town in the Ozarks, as well as fifteen years as a counselor and special education teacher for students with severe emotional disabilities. Add to that his obsession with corgis and mermaids, then factor in an unhealthy love affair with cheeseburgers, and you realize that with all those issues, he’s got plenty to write about….
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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