The Boys of Summer

Sarah Madison
The Boys of Summer
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Dreamspinner Press
Release Date
December 2015
Contemporary Romance, LGBTQ

2nd Edition

David McIntyre has been enjoying the heck out of his current assignment: touring the Hawaiian Islands in search of the ideal shooting locations for a series of film-company projects. What's not to like? Stunning scenery, great food, sunny beaches… and Rick Sutton, the hot, ex-Air Force pilot who is flying him around.

Everything changes when a tropical storm and engine failure force a crash landing on a deserted atoll with a WWII listening post. Rick's injuries and a lack of food and water mean David has to step up to the plate and play hero. While his days are spent fighting for survival, and his nights are filled with worrying about Rick, the two men grow closer. David's research for his next movie becomes intertwined with his worst fears, and events on the island result in a vivid dream about the Battle of Britain. On waking, David realizes Rick is more than just a pilot to him. The obstacles that prevented a happy ending in 1940 aren't present today, and David vows that if they survive this stranding, he will tell Rick how he feels.

First Edition published by Createspace, 2013

Book Review by Susan Mac Nicol (author)
Jun 22, 2013   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
311 people found the following review helpful
I am not ashamed to say I cried reading this book. I'm not normally one to do this but when I reached a certain part of this story, I blubbered like a whale. Now I'm not going to tell you anything about the event that made me weep, as that would spoil it, so you'll have to read it for yourself.

I truly loved this book. It's the first time I've read anything of Sarah Madison's and needless to say, I intend reading anything else she's written. Ms Madison has a style that draws you into the lives of her characters, plays their story out with ease and makes you feel you are there with them.

David McIntyre is happy in his job as a scout for touring the world, looking for ideal locations for film projects. He likes his lifestyle of good clothes, fine wine and living the high life. And when he meets the sexy and rough ex Air Force pilot, Rick Sutton, on one of his scouting projects, he feels life just couldn't get any better. Until the small plane they are both in crashes, leaving them to depend on each other for their survival. David soon finds out that he has an inner core of steel beneath his rather 'socialite' appearance, which is put to good use when he has to take care of an injured Rick.

David finds himself fantasizing about Rick in many ways, not least the burning desire to have his way with him. And when he has an extremely vivid and erotic dream about the pilot, David realizes that what he feels for Rick isn't just a crush or the need for a quickie, but a much deeper and more intense emotion.

There was a lot of humor in this book with the banter between David and Rick, a trait I enjoy as it makes the reading journey so much more enjoyable. The relationship between these two men develops slowly but intensely. Being together, the only two humans on a deserted island, makes the need to bond and support each other so much more necessary.

Ms Madison writes with a wonderful flowing style, her words effortless and magical, drawing you into her story. This book is not filled with sex but more sensuality, and when the sex does happen, wow! It's intimate, loving and filled with emotional overtones. I loved David and his endless supply of optimism, his surprise at his inner strength when he actually manages to survive a plane crash and become Rick's 'doctor'. And the quiet, strong, determined Rick, who's also finding himself with feelings beyond what he thinks he wants, is a wonderfully rich character.

I can highly recommend this book to anyone wanting a romantic, sensual read with plenty of wonderful funny and tender moments. I'd advise having tissues at the ready though, unless it's just me being 'uber' sensitive. You decide.
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BOOK INTERVIEW on November 2013
Interview by Susan MacNicol

Hi Sarah, welcome to The Romance Reviews! We can't wait to hear all about The Boys of Summer!

Q: What is your inspiration for this story?

First let me say how delighted I am to be here and what wonderful questions these are! You're really giving me a chance to tell you why I love this story so much and that's always fun for me!

It all started when I decided I wanted to write a story about two men of extremely different personalities who get marooned together and have to rely on each other for survival. Shortly into the story, I had this image of Rick, my ex-military hero, dressed in an RAF uniform and leaning casually against the side of a Spitfire. Obviously, this wasn't going to work in a contemporary romance, but I thought, 'hey, I can make it a dream scene.' Only me being me, I began the research necessary to get the details right, and the next thing I know I got pulled into the history of the Battle of Britain and it was over a month before I came up for air. I knew then I couldn't do justice to the lives of those incredibly brave young men with a simple dream sequence. I also felt compelled to tell the story of two lovers who couldn't have their happy ending because of the era in which they lived. I knew I was taking a big gamble by inserting a long dream sequence into the middle of the modern story, but it was really important to me to share some of what I'd learned.

Q: What kind of research did you have to do in the course of writing this story? How did you go about researching the topics in your book, such as the air force stories? Please share an interesting fact or unique experience in the course of your research.

See, that's the funny part! I only meant to get a few details necessary to write a short dream scene. Like whether Americans had flown with the RAF before the US had officially entered the war, and if the term 'dog tags' was already in use by the time my story took place, that kind of thing.

Well, I started on Wikipedia, and then I began reading library books and haunting the WW2 aisle at the bookstore. I watched movies about the war, drawing on what I learned from Enigma and Flyboys, and incorporating those details into my 'scene' as well. I also read Fighter Boys: The Battle of Britain, 1940 by Patrick Bishop.

I read about the Messerschmitt and the Hurricane and the Spitefire and the pros and cons of each. The more I read, the more appalled I was at how little I knew of this time period and the sacrifices made by everyone during WW2. I was stunned to discover how young these fighter pilots were--a necessity dictated by the fact that there were no pressurized cabins at first. You had to be young in order to handle the G-forces of the turns and dives in the airplanes of the day. Many of these pilots were just schoolboys, really. When I read that many of them were sent into battle with less than eleven hours of flight training, I knew I had to tell their story. Especially since homosexuality at this time was punishable with either prison time or chemical castration.

Q: I just loved the character of David McIntyre with his snarky sense of humor and his blabber mouth in the face of both danger and the attraction he feels to Rick Sutton. Is this the way you always saw him developing? Please tell us more about him.

You've got me smiling here! When I create characters, I usually find something within each of them that I can identify with and I run with it, exploring that aspect of myself through their personalities. David was fun because he is ultimately an entertainer, regardless if he is in front of the camera or behind it. As such, he often says things that he probably shouldn't because he knows on some level it will get a reaction--and getting a laugh is sometimes more important to this kind of personality than always being the 'professional' in any situation. He's learned that humor can go a long way to making a bad situation tolerable, something he's had to perfect in dealing with the film industry and managing celebrities. But when push comes to shove, he can be serious and he can get the job done--even if it is something outside his comfort zone.

Q: David is a location scout but at heart, he thinks of himself as a photographer. It's his passion. What made you choose this particular profession for him?

Ah, I love photography myself, even if I only have a point-and-shoot camera. I think you have to have an eye for photography and it is this ability that also makes David good at his job as a locations scout. I also think the desire to capture a moment as a permanent image can, for some people, be a way of distancing themselves from any given situation. Of putting themselves in the position of being the Impartial Observer. So even when things are kind of dire, David is still documenting them with his camera.

Q: David sees Rick as his Indiana Jones or the world-weary private eye. Rick is that sort of almost jaded character with a lot of living in him and has obviously seen the world. Please tell us more about Rick and what made him this way? What do you think it is that men (or women for that matter) find attractive in this sort of laconic, charming scruffy adventurer persona?

I think when you have an emotionally challenging profession, like being a police officer, or in the military, or in the medical field, there is a tendency for the intelligent, compassionate person to develop shielding because it is necessary for survival and sanity. Also, no one who hasn't experienced what you've lived through can understand exactly what it is like, so finding someone you can talk to about your day can be difficult. Sometimes it is just easier to pretend everything is fine than it is to open the floodgates and let all the bad stuff out.

In Rick's case, not only did he do what he had to do in order to survive, but by breaking the 'code', he has also cut himself off from everyone that might have given him the support he needs. To make matters worse, he is beating himself up for giving up the profession he worked so hard to attain because he could no longer deal with it. For Rick, this isn't a simple matter of making a conscious decision to change careers--he can't help but see leaving the military the way he did as a personal failure. I think most compassionate people faced with burnout feel terribly guilty about deciding to do something else. They feel as though they've let down the career that they'd chosen and sacrificed so much for in the past.

I think one of the reasons people find this sort of character so endlessly fascinating is because they can see all that potential for greatness there. It's often buried under a ton of baggage and sometimes the damage is too extensive to heal, but everyone wants to try anyway. They want to be the one who rescues the injured hawk, nurses it back to health, and teaches it to fly again. Always provided, that is, that the hawk decides captivity is a good deal. That's where it gets tricky. Most people who want to be the rescuer in this kind of situation want their wounded hawk to be independent with everyone else but them. In an adult relationship, however, you it is crucial to want what is best for the other person, even if that means letting them go. And of course, in an adult relationship, even an independent person must admit that he needs help from time to time. Both factors are necessary for the relationship to ultimately be a healthy one.

Q: What made them perfect for each other?

David is not afraid of talking, and he can talk enough for the both of them. By that, I mean that he isn't shy about saying what's on his mind, and will force issues out into the open as a result. Rick finds him amusing, which is good. Rick needs to learn how to laugh again. David is also perfectly content to let Rick take the lead in the matters where he is expert--and yet he can step up to the plate and perform when it is necessary. Rick can be strong for David, but more importantly, he can be vulnerable for David too. David, in turn, is more courageous and determined on Rick's behalf than he would ever be on his own.

Q: What is the most romantic moment between the two?

Well, this is part of the dream sequence, so don't let the way it ends stop you here! Sometimes romantic moments break your heart just a little--picture the goodbye on the tarmac in Casablanca!

Enjoy this excerpt:

They traveled back to the base in silence. Sutton got behind the wheel and David did not question his desire to drive. David sat staring out of the windshield with unseeing eyes as the scenery passed them by. Too soon. Too soon. Soon they would be back to the base and it would be all over. He huddled down in his seat, fedora tipped low over his eyes in self-protection. He was startled when he felt Sutton's hand take his and he looked down to see their sets of fingers entwined, pressed against his thigh like a small, sleeping animal. He opened his mouth to speak and knew instinctively that if he did, the spell would be broken, that Sutton would withdraw and the contact would be lost. He remained silent. Sutton continued to hold his hand, there at the level of the car seat, hidden from main view. He released his grip only to change gears and quickly recaptured David's hand again, all the while staring ahead at the open road, not speaking, as if his hand was somehow behaving without his knowledge or permission.

As they neared the base, Sutton finally relinquished his hand for good, and deftly managed to light another smoke, using his elbow to steady the wheel while he cupped the lighter around the end of the cigarette and sucked to ignite the tip. They continued to drive in silence as they entered the base. The car pulled to a smooth stop. They sat unmoving within. David knew that he should get out, that he should walk round to the driver's side and clap Sutt on the shoulder in a friendly sort of way, wish him luck and walk away, but he didn't want to move, to be the one to end it. Please, he thought, give me something, anything, to remember you by.

What he got was a brief, devastating smile. "Mac." Sutt's voice was gentle and yet at the same time, resolute. "It was good. Thank you."

He gave a sharp nod in return; not trusting his voice, afraid if he spoke it would be in a torrent of words, creating a scene that would embarrass them both. Sutton opened the car door and stepped out, not looking back. He stood by the open door, stretching like a cat in the early morning sun. Reluctantly, knowing there was nothing else that he could do to stop this moment, to prevent time from moving forward, David also got out of the car. The base suddenly pressed its existence in on him, the sounds of airplanes taxiing to the runways, the shouts of corpsmen struggling to be heard over the heavy machinery, the smell of petrol in the air. He closed his eyes briefly, as if to shut it out, and then made his way round to the driver's side of the car.

Sutton had already stepped away from the door. He tossed a wave back over his shoulder like he was merely heading off for breakfast.

"So long, David." The simple good bye made David catch his breath, knowing it would be the last time Rick would ever call him by name.

David watched him cross the compound, hoping he would turn, would do anything to acknowledge that this was a substantial parting of ways, but he did not. David was forced to stand at the open car door, gripping the frame tightly as he watched that straight, slim back disappear into the main building. It was the last time he ever saw him.

Q: How difficult was it to run the two stories side by side in this book--the past and the present--and ensure that the two characters in each scenario were seen as different people with distinct personalities of their own?

The dream section was so real to me that I didn't have difficulty writing it. By this point in the story, I knew the characters so well and I was deeply immersed in the history I needed for the correct detail. That section practically wrote itself. I wrote it from the standpoint of it being past lives for the characters. Same people, but altered by the circumstances of their current existence. I confess, I am fascinated by that sort of 'viewing through a slightly skewed lens' and I love the idea of alternative universes and parallel lives. I would love to write an entire series in which each story took place in a different universe for the same set of characters, but I doubt I would find a market for it!

I enjoyed taking elements from the main story and weaving them into the dream sequence. My hope was that these would serve as little roadside markers for the astute reader--a means of indicating that this wasn't reality. I wanted the reader to become totally absorbed in that section, much the same way I did when researching the history, but I wanted some part of their brain to be ticking over the fact that this section was here and wondering why.

Q: I know you have the view that love is love no matter whether it's man/woman or man/man. Yet the M/M genre is one that can be quite purist in its views. What's your take on this when you're writing? Do you ensure you cater for just the one audience? Would you ever include hetero POV or sex scenes in your M/M books if that was what the plot demanded?

I seldom think about genres or tropes or expectations when I'm actually writing. I'd probably be better off if I did! I've written sci-fi, paranormal, and contemporary stories--if I stuck to one type of story, I might be a bit more recognizable, have a more identifiable brand, as it were. I know that the bestselling M/M romance stories are contemporaries, but I find it very hard to write a straightforward contemporary romance without throwing some sort of weird twist into it. I just end up writing the kind of story I like reading myself. Try as I might, I can't do anything else.

Same goes for telling stories about relationships. They're messy because people are complex and messy themselves. I'm going to write the story that my characters need me to write. I can't help it. If I have a character that is deep in denial as to his sexuality, he might well have a relationship with a woman. I'm not necessarily going to go out of my way to vilify her either because she's in a relationship (or has been) with my main character. If the plot demands it, the story gets it--but only if the plot demands it.

One of the best examples I can think of is how in Brokeback Mountain, the main characters married women because that was what was expected of them. They may have loved these women. They certainly had sex with them. But the very act of contrasting sex between Ennis and Jack and Ennis and Alma showed where the real passion lay. That can be a very powerful means of storytelling.

Bottom line for me, though, is that I firmly believe in happy endings. My day job is tough sometimes. I write stories because, even though I love to torture my characters, I want everything to turn out all right for them in the end. So it is unlikely I'm going to write the kind of story that is impossible to end well.

Q: What's your view on writing sex scenes? Some M/M books seem to be wall-to-wall sex, just pages of sheer man-on-man action. I think you're one of the authors who subscribe to the relationship and story making up the book with sex as another facet. Is this a true perception, do you think?

Oh dear, I probably get this all wrong too. :-) See, I think sex scenes should further the story in some way. I like sex. I like writing about sex because I like writing about relationships and I think sex (or how you deal with it, or even the lack of it) is an important part of relationships. But I tend to have two, maybe three major sex scenes in a story and that's it. More than that, and it is hard for me to keep the action fresh. More importantly, it is hard for me to keep it smokin'. And that's what I'm going for. Sex is like a seasoning for me. Not enough and the meal is bland. Too much and every dish tastes the same.

Q: Why do you think the gay man love story is such a popular genre? Is it the thought of two strong men letting down their barriers and showing us their vulnerabilities?

I've given this a lot of thought, and in the end, I can only answer for me. See, the first time I read a M/M romance, I felt as though I had finally discovered adult fiction for the first time--fiction written just for me. I'm not a girly-girl. I'm not particularly romantic. I don't think every story needs to have an "I love you" in it. I struggle to finish reading stories in which the heroine becomes Too Stupid To Live the moment she falls in love.

For the first time, I felt as though I had characters I could identify with. Sounds strange, right? That a straight woman would identify with gay male characters? But what I love about M/M romance is that the characters come into the relationship as equals. Each one gets to take turns being the hero. I also love how writing male characters allows me to explore different aspects of my own personality without resorting to self-insertion into the story. It's a freedom to be the real me that the conventions of traditional romance don't always allow.

I always identified with the male characters in any story or television program when I was growing up. The men got the best roles, had the best lines. That's not necessarily the case these days, but the number of kick-ass heroines that I can identify with is still pretty small. Not to mention the fact that most people in the GLBTQ community can identify with being the 'outsider.' I know what it is like to be bullied. I know what it is like to feel like I'm not part of the cool crowd. To even be hated simply for who I am. I can use these life experiences in my storytelling and exorcise them at the same time.

There is also the sheer hotness factor. One of the hottest cinematic kisses I've ever witnessed took place in Brokeback Mountain. You know the one I mean. When Ennis and Jack meet behind the hotel and fall on each other like two men starving for the oxygen that can only be found in each other's lips. It's intense, it's forbidden, it's full of heartbreak. This is meat and drink to an author. We can't help it. There is a degree of built-in angst to many M/M romances that begs to share its story.

I suppose that the argument could be made that women reading and writing exclusively about M/M romance are in danger of fetishizing homosexual relationships. For me, however, it all comes down to characters first. I write about the characters that interest me. At the moment, they happen to be male. I hope one day to create female protagonists that I can admire, without falling into the tropes I grew up reading. I mean, seriously, how many women have you met with violet-colored eyes? :-)

Q: What's up next for you?

At the moment, I am working on the sequel to my FBI paranormal story, Unspeakable Words. It's been a long time coming (for which I apologize to the fans who've been waiting for it!) but I'm about halfway through the first draft now. I'm being very mean to the boys this time around, and yes, there is one more story planned to resolve everything in the end!

After that, I have plans to write a heterosexual romance--it is my first attempt at writing a story with a heroine that I don't want to slap twenty pages into the story, so we'll see how that turns out. It's set in the world of sport horses, something dear to my heart, as I used to compete in the sport known as eventing.

I also have several sequels planned for the characters in Crying for the Moon--I want to tell the story of how secondary characters Nick and Peter met, as well as reveal what happens when the vampire and werewolf populations, normally immune to all viruses and disease, succumb to an unknown new and fatal illness--and only Tate Edwards holds the cure.

My list of proposed stories is about seven deep at the moment, so I'm not going to run out of stories to tell any time soon! The problem, as usual, is finding as much time to write as I would like.

One of the best vacations ever? I went with my boyfriend to one of his work conferences, and while he was at his meetings, I sat at a hotel room desk facing the harbor and wrote to my heart's content. I'd take a break to meet him for lunch, and then in the evenings, we'd wander the town and do fun things together, like take in an outdoor film, or go to a museum. I wrote between five to ten thousand words a day and it was effortless. Now that's the life!

I hear you! That does sound awesome. Thanks for being with us to talk about THE BOYS OF SUMMER!

Heads up!
Check out the review for THE BOYS OF SUMMER!
from Susan MacNicol!


Sarah Madison is a veterinarian with a big dog, a big horse, too many cats, and an extremely patient boyfriend. She writes because it is cheaper than therapy.



Unspeakable Words

Crying for the Moon


Practice Makes Perfect

A Summer Fling


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