Title: Just The Way You Are (Just Life #4)
Author Name: E E Montgomery
Publication Date & Length: April 17, 2015 – 70,000 Words
After ten years in an abusive relationship and a near-fatal knife wound, Jonathan Watson is finally free. Unused to being able to make even the smallest decision and smothered by family and well-meaning neighbors, he’s floundering in the real world. Jonathan is afraid of falling into another relationship too quickly and realizes he needs time to rediscover who he is before he attaches himself to another man.
He never counted on meeting Ben Urquhart, though. Ben tempts Jonathan to forget everything and take a leap. For Ben, it’s love at first sight, and he doesn’t want to take it slow. He wants to build a life with Jonathan, free from harm and full of laughter. But before they can take the next step, they must protect Jonathan from his possessive, threatening ex. Jonathan must find the courage to confront him and break the chains of his past before he can be truly free to build a future with Ben.
Just the Way You Are was a sweet but heartbreaking story. Jonathan was trying to get away from an abusive live in boyfriend and met Ben. Jon was afraid to let himself fall in love. If anything could go wrong in a relationship I think it happened to Jon.
Jon and Ben’s relationship developed into something real after taking time to get to know each other. I loved how Ben took the time with Jon to build up his self esteem and help him become more confident. Jon’s neighbors were a highlight in this story. They were very entertaining.
This was a very encouraging story of finding that right person to love. If you want to read a sweet love story this one is for you.
JONATHAN SHIVERED in the early morning air but not from the chill. He wrapped his arms around himself and groaned as his wound tugged against the movement. He relaxed slowly as the pain eased. From where he stood, he could see between the two apartment blocks to where the sun glinted off the Brisbane River. Five years ago he used to watch the ferries puddle their way up and down the river, dropping passengers here at Hamilton and across the way at Bulimba. He’d missed that view for a long time. He wondered if he’d miss the house now that he was leaving it.
The house was gray—morning gray, Anthony had called it, but it had always looked like unwashed, neglected underwear to him. The lines of the house were precise and symmetrical, unlike the yard. The front lawn bore scars, just like his chest. They were from his Cruiser skidding to a stop the night Anthony had sent him to kill Mark. His eyes burned as he thought how close he’d come to doing what his boyfriend told him to.
At the time, he didn’t think he had any other choice. It was kill or be killed. Literally. By the end of that night, Mark had been the only one left uninjured. Liam’s leg had thankfully healed quickly where Anthony had stabbed him.
Anthony was still in hospital with a self-inflicted knife wound to the stomach, and Jonathan… Jonathan was done with that life. Anthony’s knife in his chest—so close to his heart it was clearly intended to be fatal—had cured him of whatever delusions he’d held onto that let him believe he was in love with the man. Even Anthony’s assertions that Jonathan was responsible for him being in a wheelchair since the car accident two years before wouldn’t get him to stay.
He was out of it now, or at least he would be as soon as the removalists came and took his stuff away. Then he could begin to heal. The first step had been to learn to breathe again after his lung collapsed when Anthony stabbed him.
The next step… he didn’t know what the next step after this was. He wasn’t going to admit it to anyone, but he was just as terrified now, starting a life of his own—on his own—as he was when he thought he was going to die.
The trembling began again. Dizzy. Couldn’t catch his breath. He leaned beside the front door and forced himself to bring his mind back to the here and now and looked around again. There was a new section of fence now, and the Cruiser had been repaired and sat at the curb, waiting for him. His cousin must have had the damage repaired while Jonathan was in the hospital—learning how to make his lung work again after his boyfriend had tried to kill him. He shook the thoughts from his head. He had to stop thinking like this or he’d go mad.
Sleep last night had been impossible. The house had been cleaned, but nothing was going to completely remove the blood splattered on the white carpet. His blood.
A low rumble burbled through the air, and a truck turned onto the street. Jonathan’s heart raced. “You can do this,” he whispered, although he wasn’t quite sure which part of “this” he was talking about. It could be dealing with strangers on his own, or it could be leaving Anthony—finally. He pressed the heel of his hand over the dressing on his chest. Staying with Anthony was no longer an option.
The truck stopped and turned to reverse into the driveway. The high-pitched beeping made Jonathan jump and, to calm himself, he focused on the two men sitting in the cab. The driver looked young and blond, the passenger older and shriveled, his hair sticking out in unkempt tangles.
“Two people. Not Anthony. You’re outside, everything’s marked. You don’t need to go inside with them at all if you don’t want to. You can do this.” He counted his breaths in and out. The beeping stopped, the engine cut out, and the driver’s door opened.
Long, well-formed legs slipped from the cab, by-passing the step completely as a muscled body slid to the ground.
Khaki cargo shorts bunched enticingly around a spectacular package before settling loosely around slim hips as the man’s boot-clad feet landed on the ground and he stood away from the truck. Jonathan moved his gaze up the body.
The worn T-shirt did nothing to hide the trim stomach and prominent pecs and the sleeves framed the rounded deltoids perfectly. Jonathan sighed as he lifted his focus higher to see the man’s wide smile.
1) Can you describe in detail what your writing environment is like?
My writing environment changes depending on what stage of writing I’m at. I have a small secretaire in my entry at home. I use that desk with my laptop computer to write character profiles, synopses and chapters. The wall behind me is divided into sections by string, and index cards are stuck to the wall. Each index card has a summary of a scene and is placed where it belongs in the story. I do my planning this way because I don’t always write a story chronologically. With the cards, I can write whatever scene is in me while still making sure it will fit the plot.
I take my laptop to libraries and coffee shops to write. These environments aren’t always quiet but I’m away from home and all the distractions I find there. I find anywhere that’s out of a main thoroughfare and has a table, then write until I have a completed scene (1000-3000 words). Then I have a break before moving to another place and writing again.
I have a desktop computer in my office at home. My office houses the majority of my library. I’m in the process of cataloguing my non-fiction library according to the Dewey Decimal System. The sections that I’ve completed are in order and books are easily found. The majority of the rest of my collection is in haphazard stacks on my desk, on top of filing cabinets, on chairs or the floor. It looks an appalling mess, but I can nearly always pinpoint exactly where the book I need is, within seconds. I use my desktop computer primarily for editing although I do write new words there as well. The desk is large so I can spread out my notes, flow charts and diagrams so I can see exactly what needs to be fixed.
Final edits are always noted on my Kindle before I make changes on my desktop. I send a text version of the book to my Kindle and read it as a book, rather than a writing project. I annotate as I go. This method picks up nearly all typing errors, repetitions and redundancies and most of the smaller inconsistencies in plot.
2) Is there one of your characters that you relate to (from any of your works)? Why?
I have a definite soft spot for David from Between Love and Honor and The Courage to Love.
David always tried to do the right thing and he struggled with the restrictions that placed on his actions. I’ll admit, though, I was ready to hit him over the head with something by about two-thirds of the way through The Courage to Love. He was so reluctant to move forward from his past.
3) If you couldn’t be an author, what would you do instead?
I want to be an author more than anything, so that’s what I do. If it was impossible, I’d be a librarian—which is rather fortuitous as I am one.
4) Is there anything that you learned during the writing process that you wish you had known before hand?
I think I learned to write backwards. I have no trouble with imaginative, convoluted plotting, although most of that gets simplified before submission. I always struggle to ensure all my characters have clear goals, motivations and conflicts. It seems pretty obvious, I know, and I always think I’ve done it and got it right, but then I get to about two-thirds into the book and suddenly realize it’s not working and I have to go back and fix it before I can move on. The fix always involves the main characters’ goals, motivations and conflicts.
5) Is there anything that you wish you could change about your book now that it is out?
I adore most of the characters in Just the Way You Are. Neridah and Tahlia are the perfect comic foil for oh-so-serious Jonathan. Col and Lorraine’s journey is so sad and poignant. I think I did a reasonable job showing Jonathan’s struggles through his insecurities. In my head, Ben is adorable. He’s accomplished and well-rounded, and amusing. I’m not convinced all that shows on the paper as well as it might. There are a couple of scenes between Jonathan and Ben that would have strengthened their relationship (I think), but there was nowhere in the plot those scenes would fit so I never wrote them. One day I’ll write them and put them on my blog for readers to enjoy.
6) How do you come up with new ideas for your story?
Most of the time, it’s a throw-away line from someone. For example one story I wrote, but haven’t sold yet, began when someone asked me if I’d ever wanted to change sex at will. I’ll bet you can guess what at least one of the characters can do! The Just Life series grew out of my observations of a barista at my favourite coffee shop. I loved the way he interacted with his colleagues and customers and had to put some of that into a story. Daron looks a lot like him.
The rest of the series came from constantly asking myself ‘What if…’.
7) What’s next for you as a writer?
I’m working on a number of different projects at the moment. Dreamspinner Press has picked up my first Science Fiction book, The Planet Whisperer, and it’s in editing. It’s about a man who has the ability to terraform planets with a look and a word. It’s a bit more difficult and more interesting than that, but you can read the book to find out how. As a hint, I discovered I have a limited number of ways to describe a blow job! In case you’re wondering, it’s less than the forty-two required by the story. The Planet Whisperer is due for release in December/January.
I’m writing a new book, a contemporary Science Fiction, that’s set on two planets in two dimensions and in three different times. The plotting alone kept me up for weeks. It’s hard work and moving slowly, but it’s a lot of fun.
I’m rewriting a book that is part of the same series as The Planet Whisperer. I thought I was going to edit it, but took one look at it and realized it needed more than that. About half the book has been rewritten to make it stronger. I’m much happier with it than I was before. I’ve been posting short excerpts on my blog as I go, so readers can get an idea what it’s like from them.
I’m editing another book that I’ve been working on for a while. It’s set on two different planets over a space of seven years and has multiple plots, each with its own set of major characters. It’s not an easy project but I love the story and will keep working on it until I get it right.
8) Where do you live? Do you think this influences how or what you write?
I live in Queensland, Australia, and my environment definitely influences what I write about and how I write. Queensland, as a state, has a reputation for being conservative and, for the most part, peaceful. It’s a nice place to be, but there are still murders and domestic (and other) violence. Because we don’t see a lot of it (not compared to other countries), it’s incredibly shocking when it does happen.
One of the reasons I began writing M/M romance is the pervasive ‘don’t-ask-don’t-tell’ attitude here.
9) What is your favorite genre outside of the one you write in? Why?
I write romance. Sometimes it’s contemporary, sometimes with a bit of mystery or suspense.
Sometimes it’s Science Fiction/Fantasy. That’s what I write and what I read most. I also read Science Fiction without the romance element but if I want to read something totally different, I’ll pick up a biography.
10) Do you have any vices? Shoes, coffee, shopping…etc?
I’m incredibly boring, really. I don’t smoke. I rarely drink alcohol. I don’t do drugs, except for the rare times I get a migraine—then I’ll take anything put in front of me if it works. I don’t drink coffee. I don’t enjoy shopping, especially clothes shopping. If I need new clothes, I research online, go to the one or two shops I know I’ll find what I’m looking for, buy it, take it home to try on, and return if necessary. If I spend more than twenty minutes in a clothing shop, there’s something seriously wrong with my day.
A tea shop is an entirely different beast. I love tea. I have over 150 teapots and about half that number of different teas. I don’t like tea bags—the tea has no room to move in order to properly steep. Just so you know: steeping tea is about more than getting the right colour. It’s also about bringing out all the subtle flavours locked in the leaves by the drying and fermentation processes.
I can tell if the water is hot enough for a white, green or black tea simply by looking at the size and frequency of the bubbles. I know that’s idiosyncratic, but is it a vice?
E E Montgomery wants the world to be a better place, with equality and acceptance for all. Her philosophy is: We can’t change the world but we can change our small part of it and, in that way, influence the whole. Writing stories that show people finding their own ‘better place’ is part of E E Montgomery’s own small contribution.
Thankfully, there’s never a shortage of inspiration for stories that show people growing in their acceptance and love of themselves and others. A dedicated people-watcher, E E finds stories everywhere. In a cafe, a cemetery, a book on space exploration or on the news, there’ll be a story of personal growth, love, and unconditional acceptance there somewhere.