When Rainbow Gold Reviews opened its doors almost two and a half years ago we each picked a book that would post on opening day. Well I picked ‘Unbreak My Heart’ by K-lee Klein and instantly fell in love. With Brett and JT and with K-lee’s writing. I have almost devoured everything she has written. I was saddened to hear that Amber Quill was closing its doors since this was where Brett and JT called home. So when I found out that Dreamspinner Press would be re-publishing it, I was over the moon. You see I read a lot, like hundreds of books a year, oh who am I kidding I probably read thousands in a year. So you know how hard it is to remember them all. There are few that have stuck with me, very few, but this one? Well this one holds a very dear place in my heart. Not only was it my very first review for RGR but it is one that stuck with me, changed me and my reading. It made me take a chance and read something out of my comfort zone. Because it broke me, oh how it broke me and I am not one for major angst. But OH MY GOODNESS did it put me back together again, in the best possible way. When I asked K-lee if I could give it a shout out to celebrate its new cover, new publisher and new release day she graciously agreed. But not only that, she did one better, she is giving you an excerpt, one of my FAVORITES, and a giveaway. So lets give a HUGE THANK YOU to K-lee Klein for sharing Brett and JT with us today. Congrats K-lee, so proud of you.
And here is the link to my very first review on RGR the wonderful ‘Unbreak My Heart’
Release date – August 5, 2016 from Dreamspinner Press
Brett Taylor’s world collapsed three years ago when he lost the love of his life. Almost as bad as the grief is the advice he’s starting to get from everyone and their brother, telling him it’s time to move on. They’re flat-out wrong. He left his career as a musician and escaped to his ranch because he needs the peace and quiet, and he’s doing just fine. He doesn’t want anyone invading his memory-filled, booze-fueled solitude.
JT Campbell’s world has been defined by his parents’ money, status, and his own empty relationships, until he’s desperately sick of it. A quest to find something meaningful leads him to Brett’s failing ranch. It’s supposed to be a brief stay. JT never wanted to be anyone’s savior or compete with the ghosts of lovers past. Still, he can’t help wanting this gruff and grieving man.
JT’s mind knows it’s a bad idea, but his heart keeps pushing him to find out what lies beneath Brett’s rough and broken exterior. Brett’s not going to make it easy. JT can only be patient, keep his sense of humor, and hope for the day he may be allowed far enough into Brett’s world to unbreak his heart.
Brett wasn’t entirely sure why he ended up at the bunkhouse before heading into the house to change out of his uncomfortable-as-fuck clothes. His hand was on the latch of the old screendoor and he’d called out JT’s name before his brain had time to catch up. Only way he could explain it was all the yipping and yapping his mama had done in his ear all night, every other word out of her mouth had been JT’s name or something about him.
Brett swore she was trying to brainwash him, not that she really had to try hard. The kid had been on his mind for the past couple of weeks steady anyhow, something he’d tried hard to ignore.
“Hey, Brett. You’re back early.”
JT’s face was flushed, a little shine of sweat covering his forehead like he’d been out running, really nervous or maybe had been exerting himself. Holy hell.
Brett’s own face seared from the inside out. “Fuck, I didn’t interrupt you, did I?”
JT tilted his head to the side, a frown on his lips. “What?”
Get your mind out of the gutter, man. “Never mind. Um…. Mama tired out quick tonight. Or maybe she just couldn’t find enough to gossip about.” He ducked his head and smiled, sneaking a look at JT through his lashes. “Anyhow, I was wondering if you wanted to have a beer and a game of crib.”
If he’d been a betting man, Brett would have bet one hundred to one that the comfort level between him and JT had changed since earlier that evening. It wasn’t anything JT had said or done, but the nervousness of his body language and the almost panic in his face was something Brett couldn’t help noticing. He shouldn’t have invaded the kid’s space. It was a fucking stupid, impulsive whim to come rushing through the door anyhow.
“Sorry. I shouldn’t have… what?”
“I could use a beer, and I think I can whip you tonight, since you’ve been hanging out with the old folks for hours. Bet your head is spinning.”
JT smiled sweetly, his eyes seemingly recovering some of their brightness. A displaced giddiness shot through Brett, and before it registered in his brain, he’d pulled the kid into his arms and tucked him tight against his chest.
The embrace didn’t last long, and at first JT didn’t even hug back, but Brett, feeling a little terrified, backed away quick as he could. Embarrassment heated him from head to toes, and he was damn positive his skin glowed scarlet. He swept a hand over his head, yanking on the elastic in his hair and pulling it free so he could thread his fingers through it for comfort.
Despite suddenly feeling like a blushing virgin, JT had felt good in his arms, far better than he should have. Brett had felt their hearts beating against each other for a short moment, and he’d been half-hard from the simple closeness.
He couldn’t remember the last time he’d hugged someone purely for his own enjoyment, a time when one hadn’t been forced on him or from him because of sympathy or even pity. He didn’t necessarily know why it had happened, and it left him practically choking on a lump in his throat while his brain spun wheelies inside his thick skull.
He struggled stupidly for something to say, for some sassy remark to make it all go away, but at the same time he wanted to do it again.
“I should apologize,” he mumbled when he was able to speak again. “All the fussing mama and her friends did must have rubbed off on me. I swear those ladies would have held onto me all night if they had the chance. Was pretty damn glad to get out of—”
Brett figured he must have been rambling, something he’d only started doing recently when he was talking to JT. Dammit, he needed to get a grip. He was sweating like a whore in church and no doubt making the kid even more uncomfortable than he already looked.
“Brett… you all right?”
The words were soft, but they snapped Bret back to attention, forcing a small smile on his face. He met JT’s hot gaze for a second before averting his own.
“Yeah. Um… fine. Think you’re gonna kick my ass tonight, do ya?” JT nodded smugly before giving Brett a little push toward the door. “I’m thinking you must have got into my whiskey when I was out.”
Brett couldn’t seem to tear himself away from JT’s radiating warmth, at least until JT gave him another shove. “The game isn’t gonna play itself, cowboy.”
He smirked when JT’s cheeks pinked up. “Cowboy?”
“Sorry. It just slipped out.”
A genuine smile curled Brett’s lips as he draped an arm around JT’s shoulders, pulling him out the door with him—the severity of what he’d done suddenly dissipating and blowing away with the breeze. “I guess it’s only fair, since I tend to call you kid a whole lot.”
“Yeah, you do.”
They joshed and joked all the way back to the house, and Brett decided he must have imagined the awkwardness from before. Things were back to comfortable and most of the embarrassment of the hug had seeped out of his head… most of it.
At one point, JT lagged behind to tug at his boot. Brett waited, placing the flat of his palm on JT’s lower back when he caught up again. He ignored the hive of hornets zipping round his belly, and concentrated on the happy feelings washing over him. It felt good and even natural to touch JT so casual-like, as if it was something he did every day. And, for a moment, Brett actually let himself hope it was possible that it would become that way.
He snuck a peek at JT, a stupid grin taking over his face when he saw the enthusiasm and brightness return full force. The swarm buzzed their disapproval, forcing Brett to question just what the hell he was doing, what he was thinking. He shifted his hand away too fast, stumbling over his own feet in his haste to put some space between him and JT. He grabbed at JT’s shirt to steady himself, and they ended up tangled together on the ground, their asses hitting the dirt at exactly the same time in a cloud of dust and “oofs.”
After the initial shock had passed, they burst out chuckling, and Brett felt something unknot inside him, something deep and painful slip a little further toward freedom. JT struggled to push himself to his feet, face mere inches from Brett’s, and without any conscious thought guiding him, Brett leaned in and pressed their mouths together—sweet, chaste, and totally terrifying.
JT’s gaped, one hand reaching for Brett, but Brett was already pulling away and hoisting himself up from the ground.
“Fuck. That was a mistake.” He wasn’t sure he said it out loud, but he made sure his next words were heard. “I’m… um, sorry. Think I’m gonna take a raincheck on that game. Mama must have worn me out with all her socializing.” He avoided JT’s line of sight again, moving away from the hand that reached out to touch him. “I swear I’ll let you kick my ass—”
“… tomorrow night, kid. I’ll… I’ll see ya in the morning.”
Brett never met JT’s gaze as he jumped the steps and was inside the house before JT had a chance to say anything else. He slammed the office door behind him, his fingers already reaching for the bottle of Jack before he’d turned on the light. After tipping the bottle to his lips, he let the whiskey burn its way down his throat, not caring how his belly protested at the painful intrusion of the alcohol. Long pulls from the bottle had his throat working hard and his brain spinning before the booze even had a chance to reach it.
He wanted to touch the kid. Not in a perverse way by any means, though those desires were packed away tight in the belly of the beast. But they were also mixed with a steady impulse to brush the curls away from JT’s forehead so they didn’t hide his beautiful browns, and a need to wrap his hands around JT’s waist, and pull him into a hug—a real hug that wasn’t hurried or shameful.
He wanted JT’s body warm and alive in his arms, pressed against him with nowhere else to be. He wanted to sit side by side, thighs touching, hands twisted together, heat and breath mixing and mingling as they shared a quiet moment.
Brett didn’t want to want all those things. He didn’t want to feel like JT fit, to sense how well he fit at the ranch, fit in Brett’s house—fit with Brett period. He wasn’t being stubborn or bullheaded like he was sure his mama would accuse him of. He was being practical and levelheaded, and maybe protecting himself in a selfish kind of way. He couldn’t afford to lose anyone else inside his heart and just how many times could a heart be broken anyhow? Plus, it wasn’t like he had any right to pull someone into his life only to fuck it up either.
He wasn’t strong enough to take any more pain and… fuck it! It all came down to one thing—Brett didn’t deserve to have the tingling of emotions that were already sparking inside him. He’d fucked up with Walt, and he never intended on giving himself the opportunity to do it again to anyone else.
He had a good life now, and though he didn’t feel like the man Walt left behind anymore, that man was still there waiting to pay his dues for the failures in his life—in Walt’s life. Brett had learned to stand on his own two feet, had learned not to be a selfish bastard, had learned to live a quiet existence that suited him and brought him his own form of peace more and more every day. At least he thought he had, and that had to be good enough.
The words came easily tonight, his writing barely legible since the fingers of his free hand wouldn’t release the needy glass figure of his friend for the night. He needed to clear the kid from his brain, but even after trying to numb his lips with whiskey he could still taste JT there, and he liked it. Goddamn it, he shouldn’t like it.
Afterward, he stumbled to the barn, barely keeping his feet moving, the distance seeming so much farther than it normally was. He’d barely returned to the office, hand already wrapped around the bottle again, downing the amber liquid like a man dying of thirst, when his stomach heaved and his body jolted with nausea.
He managed to muddle his way to the wastepaper basket in the corner before the alcohol and whatever else forced its way up his throat again. He emptied his stomach in the can, his whole body convulsing and sweating as he dropped to his knees. His eyes stung with unshed moisture, and everything else burned as he let himself fall backward on the floor, before straightening to drop his head to his hands.
K-lee Klein loves guys with long hair and tattoos, and you’ll often find her front and center at her favorite rock concerts. She has bounced around Western Canada all her life, but will always consider the solitude and beauty of the British Columbian mountains home. Her life is blessed as the proud mother of three now-grown but still spoiled kids, the servant of two bossy felines, and the wife of a truly patient husband.
Her writing muse is terribly temperamental, so to keep him close by and in check, she had him inked on her left calf. The gorgeous, long-haired, mostly naked, kneeling angel that resulted is truly a work of art, although he’s still a handful and hopelessly uncontrollable. She writes on his schedule and inspiration.
K-lee tends to fall easily into obsessions. When something grabs her attention, she jumps into it headfirst with complete abandon. Actors, musicians, superheroes, fictional characters, and brainwashed assassins all hold spots on her cannot-get-enough list. She once followed Thirty Seconds to Mars around the United States and Canada and saw them perform fourteen times that year. Obsession sometimes leads to ideas for her kneeling angel to turn into stories.
Although an introvert in person, she’s extroverted online and has met many wonderful friends there, sometimes with the added fun of meeting them in person at gay romance conferences. She’s grateful for all the people in her life who accept her as she is and support her through her ups and downs as mom, wife, and joyfully obsessed writer.
Places to find K-lee.
Website – kleeklein.com
Twitter – https://twitter.com/Klee_Klein
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/kleemoon
Facebook author/reader group https://www.facebook.com/groups/812548795471921/
Comment on this post for the chance to win an copy of ‘Unbreak My Heart’ or something from K-lee’s backlist.
You need to be 18 years or older to participate. Void where prohibited. Etc.
This giveaway will end on August 14th, 2016 at 11:59 PM CDT.