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Title: Roller Girl
Author: Vanessa North
Cover Artist: L.C. Chase
Genre: Contemporary, Gay, Gay Fiction, Gay Romance, Romance
Release Date: 07/25/2016
Recently divorced Tina Durham is trying to be self-sufficient, but her personal-training career is floundering, her closest friends are swept up in new relationships, and her washing machine has just flooded her kitchen. It’s enough to make a girl cry.
Instead, she calls a plumbing service, and Joanne “Joe Mama” Delario comes to the rescue. Joe is sweet, funny, and good at fixing things. She also sees something special in Tina and invites her to try out for the roller derby team she coaches.
Derby offers Tina an outlet for her frustrations, a chance to excel, and the female friendships she’s never had before. And as Tina starts to thrive at derby, the tension between her and Joe cranks up. Despite their player/coach relationship, they give in to their mutual attraction. Sex in secret is hot, but Tina can’t help but want more.
With work still on the rocks and her relationship in the closet, Tina is forced to reevaluate her life. Can she be content with a secret lover? Or with being dependent on someone else again? It’s time for Tina to tackle her fears, both on and off the track.
“What do you do?” Joe asks, her blue eyes dancing over the rim of her beer. “Now that you’re not a pro wakeboarder.”
“I’m a personal trainer. I mostly work with people getting in shape after years of not being active, help them set appropriate goals so they don’t get injured. I’ve got a few bodybuilding clients too, which is fun in a different way—hence the extra treadmill time. I have to look the part to sell my services.”
“I bet that’s a rewarding line of work.” She fidgets with her coaster, not meeting my eyes, but I’m captivated by the way her eyelashes lie soft and dark along the top of her cheekbones. So pretty. Then she looks up and I’m caught staring. A flush warms my cheeks as she continues, “I mean, I help people, and that’s cool, but you change their lives.”
“Some of them. Did you always want to be a plumber?”
Shaking her head, she laughs. “Hell no. I wanted to be an equestrian.” She says it with a childish lisp and makes air quotes around the word. “Does anyone want to snake out drains for a living? Like I said, Dad taught me. It’s good money, and I don’t have to work for anyone else. It’s what it is, you know?”
“You get along well with him? Your dad?”
“Oh totally. It’s like . . . you wouldn’t expect this big redneck dude to be okay with the gay, but he’s cool. And I was always a bit of a daddy’s girl, following him around, wearing my pink glittery toy tool belt and pretending I could fix anything. And he never told me I couldn’t. He did have to break it to me gently that we couldn’t afford a horse though.” She says it without bitterness, smiling like even that is a happy memory.
“He sounds great.”
“He is. How about your family—you said you’re divorced? How long has that been?”
Butterflies in my stomach. How much to tell?
“Um, yeah, my family’s okay. We’ve been through some rough patches, and I—” My face grows hot, and I grip my beer in both hands like it’s a lifeline. “I’m sorry, the divorce is hard to talk about.”
“Are you okay?” Her eyes go wide with concern. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to pry, just making small talk. I was wondering if your interest was a rebound thing. Which if it is—”
“It’s not that. I still have a lot of complicated feelings for my ex, but she isn’t . . . she isn’t queer.”
Joe’s forehead wrinkles in confusion, and then her lips fall open in a little round O. She looks at me, studying me as if trying to see signs of who I used to be, or maybe still puzzling out what I told her. Finally, she smiles. “Thank you for trusting me—I can’t imagine coming out is easy.”
Relief floods me and frees up the words I’d been struggling to say.
“It’s why talking about the divorce is hard. It’s why talking about my family is hard. It’s not that any of them are awful or anything—even my dickhead brother manages the right pronouns most of the time—it’s just . . .” Oh God. My nose is stinging. I can’t cry here. Not fucking now. “It’s complicated, and it ends up being easier if we don’t see each other much. Holidays, if we’re all in town.”
“I get it. I’m sorry.” She takes my hand in hers and gives it a gentle squeeze. The contact is electric, bringing me back to the present and the attraction and the first-date excitement. “Remembering your pronouns is, like, the bare minimum of courtesy, even for dickhead brothers. I guess small talk can be a minefield for you, huh?”
I take a deep breath. “I don’t think there’s such a thing as small talk when you’re getting to know someone. Everything is a revelation.”
Her smile breaks out then, a revelation in itself, and she nods. “Totally.”
Stella returns with our food and slides into the booth next to me after setting it on the table. She leans toward me and whispers conspiratorially “She giving you the pitch yet?”
“Pitch?” I look at Joe quizzically.
Her grin fades. “Yeah. Okay, here is where I confess that I didn’t just invite you out because I think you’re cute. I totally do. But I kind of had an ulterior motive.”
My heart sinks. The first woman I’ve actually been interested in since Lisa moved out, and she comes with ulterior motives. “I see.”
“Shit. I’m sorry.” Stella stands up. “Okay, I’m gonna go.” She flashes an apologetic smile and returns to her perch behind the bar.
“Hear me out, okay?” Joe points to a banner over the bar. “See that?”
Lake Lovelace Rollergirls. The banner is purple and silver, with retro lettering, stars, and hearts.
“I founded the team—I coach them now. Stella’s our jammer.”
“What does that have to do with me?”
“You ever roller-skate when you were a kid?”
“I was born in 1977; what do you think?”
She grins. “Okay, so, we’re a new team, we don’t have a lot of members, and we’re trying to change that. The competitive season runs from December to June, but this year’s season was a total bust. We need talent. You’re a former professional athlete. You’re strong, and if you wakeboarded professionally, you’ve got to have good balance. Also, you know how to compete.”
Hope flares up in me. I’ve missed competition so much. Does she know what she’s dangling in front of me? Is she really asking?
“You want me to play on your team?”
To celebrate the release of Roller Girl, Vanessa will be sending one lucky winner a special gift basket! Gift basket will include an autographed copy of Roller Girl, a purple Lake Lovelace Roller Girl t-shirt in your size, a pair of waffle earrings, some derby stickers, and more! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on July 30, 2016. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!
About the Author
Author of over a dozen novels, novellas, and short stories, Vanessa North delights in giving happy-ever-afters to characters who don’t think they deserve them. Relentless curiosity led her to take up knitting and run a few marathons “just to see if she could.” She started writing for the same reason. Her very patient husband pretends not to notice when her hobbies take over the house. Living and writing in Northwest Georgia, she finds her attempts to keep a quiet home are frequently thwarted by twin boy-children and a very, very large dog.
Connect with Vanessa:
- Website: vanessanorth.com
- Facebook profile page: facebook.com/AuthorVanessaNorth
- Twitter: @VanessaNWrites
- Goodreads: goodreads.com/VanessaNorth
One random commenter with thoughtful, relevant comments will win a $25 gift certificate each month in 2016.
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