Marc reviews ‘A Home for the Holidays’ by Joe Cosentino. The book was released by Dreamspinner Press on December 2nd, 2015 and is 52 pages long.
RGR received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
We’re happy to host Joe Cosentino on RGR today to talk about his short holiday novella “A Home for the Holidays”. Check out my review of the book, read the interview with the author and the excerpt he has provided and comment on this post for your chance to win a backlist e-copy by Joe Cosentino.
Bobby McGrath’s Christmas trip to the beautiful Italian Island of Capri to meet his eccentric, extended family offers stunning views—none more stunning than his third cousin, Paolo Mascobello, a real stocking stuffer. As the two young men embark on a relationship, Bobby, a driven law student, learns to relax and bask under the old Italian moon, and Paolo realizes there’s more to life than a frolic on the beach. For the two to find everlasting amore, Paulo must overcome his fear of commitment and learn to follow his dreams, and Bobby must get his wish for happily ever after. “Reading this little holiday treat is like taking a romantic trip to gorgeous Capri, Italy!”
Paul Richmond is my favorite cover artist, but this cover is not for me. The guys are hot, but the light and shadows on them looks weird. I know cover models are usually photoshopped together, but it doesn’t feel very subtle here. Still, I have seen MUCH worse covers for such short stories and it’s cool that the book has a real cover.
While the title is similar to many other holiday titles, there is a benefit to knowing that a book is a holiday story from the title alone.
This is the story of Bobby and Paolo, third cousins who fall in love during the holidays in Capri, Italy. Bobby has the opportunity to meet his extended family in Italy and visits the beautiful island of Capri. This branch of the family turns out to be pretty well off and he gets to stay at a beautiful Italien villa.
Readers get to meet many quirky family members, who all have a certain charm despite their faults. However the book is not long enough to really develop them beyond the fun, but slightly stereotypical surface. The family interactions make the book colorful, though and I enjoyed meeting the family (including Bobby’s own family).
Bobby is easy to like and identify with and Paolo is kind of a playboy with a good heart and deep-set angst. It was really nice to see them court each other and for the tension between them to heat up and boil over. They have great chemistry and their budding holiday romance is sweet and delicious.
For me it wasn’t a problem that they were third cousins. They may be related, but not closely and in any case they are both guys, so there isn’t even a possibility for them to produce offspring with genetical defects.I was surprised, however, that it was not a bigger topic in the book. Bobby doesn’t struggle with it beyond wondering once if it is incest and asking three people if they are okay with it – which they were. I kind of expected a certain taboo to come with this romance, but it really is a non-issue in this story.
The most beautiful thing about this book for me was the fact that it took me to a different place. Winter holiday stories usually make me think about snow and cold temperatures and it was a nice change to read about winter in moderate climate on a beautiful Italian island. The author describes the food, taste, smells and sights in a beautiful way and made me want to go on vacation, too.
The story does feel a bit rushed for me, but with only 52 pages there is not a lot of time to let things develop at their own pace, if you want to get to a HEA at the end of the story. It is a sweet romance with a beautiful setting and a hot, short read on a cold day.
The Rating: 7.5/10 Pots of Gold (75% Recommended). Compares to 3.75/5 Stars.
Interview with Joe Cosentino, author of the short holiday novella “A Home for the Holidays”
- When did you start writing?
My mother says I was telling stories in the womb. Actually she tells me I took forever to come out (of her womb)—and she says it still hurts! As kids my sister, neighborhood friends, and I created full theatrical, costumed and choreographed musical productions in the garage. After majoring in theatre in college I became a professional actor, working in film, television, and theatre opposite stars like Rosie O’Donnell (AT&T industrial), Nathan Lane (Roar of the Greasepaint onstage), Bruce Willis (A Midsummer Night’s Dream onstage), Charles Keating (NBC’s Another World), Jason Robards (Commercial Credit computer commercial), and Holland Taylor (ABC’s My Mother Was Never a Kid TV movie). Moving on to playwriting and ultimately writing novels came next. Along the way I received two master’s degrees and became a college professor/department head, though my mother says I don’t have a “real job” like my sister the accountant.
- What are the rules for writing a good romance story?
The writer and reader must fall in love with the leading characters while the characters are falling in love with each other.
- What is your writing process?
I approach my writing in the same way as acting. I start with character biographies and ask questions about each character. Who do they love, hate, fear? What do they want? What is standing in the way of them getting what they want? What was their history? Then I get them talking to one another and the magic happens. I write an outline, but I deviate from it constantly. My spouse reads my second draft then I write my third draft.
- We are here today to talk about your holiday short novella, A Home for the Holidays published by Dreamspinner Press. Tell us about the story and setting, and how you came up with them?
Most of the statues in Italy are of naked muscular men. I got your attention with that one. Here’s the story. After writing two well-received Bittersweet Dreams novellas, AN INFATUATION and A SHOOTING STAR (In My Heart Series) published by Dreamspinner Press, and an Amazon bestselling gay comedy mystery, DRAMA QUEEN the first Nicky and Noah mystery published by Lethe Press, I needed a vacation. My family members suggested a trip to Italy. As Italian Americans, I assumed they were biased. However, like Kunta Kinte charting his roots, my spouse and I dipped into our savings—and dipped into the Dramamine, and booked a flight and bus tour from the US to Rome, Naples, Venice, Assisi, Lake Como, Milan, Florence, the Amalphi Coast, Pompeii, Tuscany, and Lake Maggiore. We had the vacation of a lifetime seeing the most gorgeous architecture, natural resources, and views. We ate delicious food and reveled in the art, history, and beauty (as noted previously with the musclemen statues). The people were warm and friendly as was the weather. However, there was no site more gorgeous, magical, and romantic than the Island of Capri. Upon arriving back in the US, I realized I had to write a romantic story taking place in Capri.
In this short novella, Bobby, a young, Italian American law student, travels to Capri to meet his quaint Italian relatives. Though they get off to a rocky start, he falls in love with his handsome, muscular, sexy Italian third cousin, Paolo. Their relationship with highs and lows and some captivating surprises is the core of the story. Since I come from a long line of funny Italian Americans, I included a good deal of humor in the story as well with Bobby’s and Paolo’s eccentric families.
- Tell us about your main characters?
Bobby has my sensibility and sense of humor. Like Harold in AN INFATUATION and Jonathan in A SHOOTING STAR, Bobby is sweet, sensitive, and smart. As a law student, he has buried his head in his books. As the novella begins, he is ready for an adventure—and ready for first love.
Paolo is loosely based on my cousin’s cousin who lives in Italy. Like Mario in AN INFATUATION and David in A SHOOTING STAR, Paolo is handsome, muscular, charismatic, and like many people in Italy, much more interested in love than in work. He is also a gifted artist.
Bobby’s mother is loosely based on my mother. She is hysterically funny, and loves her son dearly.
Paolo’s grandmother is a riot. She is loosely based on my grandmother who said, “A boy leaves home with a wife or in a coffin.”
- What about A Home for the Holidays makes it different from other MM holiday novellas?
The descriptions of the gorgeous Island of Capri make me feel as if I am back on that magical island with its enormous cliffs sitting majestically on the turquoise water, and stunning views of the Bay of Naples, the Amalfi Coast, and the mountains of Calabria. Capri also has the most amazing villas, restaurants, shops, and people.
- The main characters are third cousins. Might that ruffle some feathers?
As Paolo says in the story, it is not unusual for distant cousins to couple in Italy. This was the case with my great uncle and great aunt. Besides being third cousins, I also like how Bobby and Paolo are such opposites. Unlike Bobby, Paolo is quite experienced in matters of the heart. Also unlike Bobby, Paolo loves the finer things in life, but doesn’t want to work for them. He is quite concerned about his body, clothing, and social life. I think Bobby and Paolo bring out the best in each other.
- What’s your next MM release?
Dreamspinner Press is publishing my novella, THE NAKED PRINCE AND OTHER TALES FROM FAIRYLAND, releasing January 27. They are my funny, creative, romantic, and very gay takes on Cinderella, Pinocchio, Jack and the Beanstalk, Goldie Locks and Three Bears, and The Snow Queen. Hopefully Disney will take note and finally make a movie with a leading character who is openly gay.
- Have you considered writing a series?
I have three series. First, my Nicky and Noah mystery series from Lethe Press is a farcical, gay, cozy, who-dun-it. In DRAMA QUEEN (released in March on e-book, paperback and audiobook performed by Michael Gilboe), theatre college professors are dropping like stage curtains. With the inept local detective more interested in getting into Nicky’s pants than solving the murders, it is up to well-endowed Directing professor, Nicky Abbondanza to use his theatre skills (including playing other people) to solve the case, while he directs a murder mystery onstage. Complicating matters is Nicky’s intense crush on Assistant Professor of Acting, gorgeous Noah Oliver, the prime suspect in the murder. In DRAMA MUSCLE (releasing Jan. 2 from Lethe Press) Nicky and Noah have to use their theatre skills to find out why musclemen are dropping like weights in the Physical Education department while Nicky directs the Student Bodybuilding Competition. In DRAMA CRUISE (releasing soon from Lethe Press), Nicky and Noah go on a cruise to Alaska, and discover why college theatre professors are going overboard like lifeboats while Nicky directs a murder mystery dinner theatre show onboard ship. (I want to play Martin Anderson, the department head, in the TV series!)
I also have the Jana Lane mysteries with straight leading characters and gay supporting characters. Jana was the biggest child star in Hollywood until she was attacked on the studio lot at eighteen years old. In PAPER DOLL (released in March from Whiskey Creek Press), Jana at thirty-eight lives with her family in a mansion in picturesque Hudson Valley, New York. Her flashbacks from the past become murder attempts in her future. Forced to summon up the lost courage she had as a child, Jana ventures back to Hollywood, which helps her uncover a web of secrets about everyone she loves. She also embarks on a romance with the devilishly handsome son of her old producer, Rocco Cavoto. In PORCELAIN DOLL (releasing March 2016 from The Wild Rose Press), Jana makes a comeback film and uncovers who is being murdered on the set and why. Her heart is set aflutter by her incredibly gorgeous co-star, Jason Apollo. In SATIN DOLL (releasing from The Wild Rose Press in 2016), Jana and family head to Washington, DC, where Jana plays a US senator in a new film, and becomes embroiled in a murder and corruption at the senate chamber. She also embarks on a romance with Chris Bruno, the muscular detective. In CHINA DOLL (releasing from The Wild Rose Press in 2016), Jana heads to New York City to star in a Broadway play, enchanted by her gorgeous co-star Peter Stevens, and faced with murder on stage and off. I am currently writing RAGDOLL, where Jana stars in a television mystery series and solves a murder mystery on and off the set. Since the novels take place in the 1980’s, Jana’s best friends are gay, and Jana is somewhat of a gay activist, the AIDS epidemic is a large part of the novels. (I want to play Jana’s agent, Simon Huckby, in the TV series!)
Finally I have a new series of novels set in a gay resort on the New Jersey shore called COZZI COVE. (Though I hide under a beach umbrella due to my fair skin, I love the beach!) They are releasing in 2016 from Nine Star Press: COZZI COVE: Bouncing Back and COZZI COVE: Moving Forward.
Thank you for the fun interview. I hope readers will pick up this short novella. It’s a lot cheaper than a trip to Italy, and is bursting with the sights, scents, sounds, tastes, and romance of the magnificent island of Capri at Christmas time! I love hearing from readers. They can contact me at: http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com.
I found an empty powder blue sitting room and sat on a high-backed chair next to a blue-tiled fireplace, then opened my books on my lap. After a few minutes had passed, I looked up and found Paolo leaning on the fireplace mantel. He was wearing a stylish purple shirt and gray pants—both skintight.
“Why are you studying?” he asked in English.
I jumped, and the books hit the orange and blue tiled floor. “I take my bar exams this summer.”
He turned up his full upper lip. “It is December.”
“There’s a lot to study.”
Paolo sat on the window seat and looked out over the stunning landscape. “Did you not hear Mama at lunch? I am your designated tour guide.”
I rested the books on a sturdy end table. “You don’t have to do that. Go out with your friends.”
The rays of sun from the window made his sapphire eyes glisten. “Mama does not take no for an answer.”
Looking at the dancing flames in the fireplace, I said, “I’m fine here. Thank you anyway, Paolo.”
He shrugged his huge shoulders and started to leave. Halting at the doorway, he said, “Why did you come to Capri?”
“To spend Christmas with my Italian relatives.”
Paolo pointed to himself, smiled, then held out his hand to me.
Returning his smile, I said, “I don’t want to be a burden to you, Paolo. We can tell Mama you took me out.”
He leaned back as if he’d been shot. “Lie to Mama? Never!”
Paolo held out his hand again. It was smooth and strong. I couldn’t resist taking it. Paolo pulled me up to stand next to him. He smelled of clean sea air. I grabbed my books, and we went upstairs to unload them and put on our jackets. Then I followed Paolo to a courtyard next to the villa, where we stopped next to a motor scooter.
Two helmets rested on the seat. Paolo placed one over his thick, wavy hair, then handed me its companion. When I couldn’t figure out how to fasten it, Paolo did it for me, like a mother putting a snow hat on a toddler. Then Paolo instructed me to climb on the scooter behind him, and he took off.
As we sped down the rural road, I held on to the back of the scooter, looked out at the amazing view, and shivered from the cool air.
Paolo called out, “Put your hands in my jacket pockets.”
Obeying Paolo’s orders, I enjoyed the warmth of the leather fabric and the touch of Paolo’s abdominal muscles against my hands.
Like most drivers in Italy, Paolo sped along the windy roads. When we reached a zigzag or a turn in the road, I held on tighter.
Paolo shouted, “Do not worry, cousin. You are safe in my hands.”
Somehow I knew that was true.
Comment on this post for the chance to win a backlist eBook by Joe Cosentino.
You need to be 18 or older for the chance to win. Void where prohibited. Etc.
This giveaway ends on December 28 at 11:59 PM CST. Good Luck!
Amazon Bestselling author Joe Cosentino wrote An Infatuation, A Shooting Star, A Home for the Holidays (Dreamspinner Press), Drama Queen the first Nicky and Noah mystery (Lethe Press), Paper Doll the first Jana Lane mystery (Whiskey Creek Press), and The Nutcracker and the Mouse King (Eldridge Plays and Musicals). He has appeared in principal acting roles in film, television, and theatre, opposite stars such as Bruce Willis, Rosie O’Donnell, Nathan Lane, Holland Taylor, Charles Keating, and Jason Robards. His one-act plays, Infatuation and Neighbor, were performed in New York City. He wrote The Perils of Pauline educational film (Prentice Hall Publishers). Joe is currently Head of the Department/Professor at a college in upstate New York, and is happily married. His upcoming releases in 2016 are The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland (Dreamspinner Press), Porcelain Doll & Satin Doll & China Doll Jana Lane mysteries (Wild Rose Press), Drama Muscle & Drama Cruise Nicky and Noah mysteries (Lethe Press), and Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back & Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward (Nine Star Press).