5 Stars for The Storm Before the Calm by Cate Ashwood @cateashwood #MM #romance

StormBeforeTheCalm[The]FS

Title: The Storm Before the Calm
Author Name: Cate Ashwood
Publication Date & Length: June 5, 2015 — 200 pages

Synopsis

Charlie has one passion in life: dancing. It’s his salvation when it feels like the world is swallowing him whole. When his mom secretly secures him a spot in the summer intensive at the Free Rein Dance Company in New York, he is thrilled. He knows that once the summer ends, he’ll have to return to Beacon to get a job and help support his family, but for those two months, he can spread his wings.

In New York he meets Max, a junior instructor who is everything Charlie wishes he could be. Bold and self-assured, Max radiates pride in who he is. As they spend time together, Max shows Charlie what life can be like past the walls of his closed-minded home town. But Charlie doesn’t know if he’s ready to show the world who he truly is when standing in the spotlight is the last thing he wants.

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Review

FiveStars

I loved this! Great characters, great story, great setting and all the emotion I expect from Cate Ashwood at her best.

Charlie is a brilliant leading man. I loved watching him grow into himself. His dance scenes were beautiful and his emerging confidence was wonderful to witness.

Max is also amazing. Older, confident and talented, he is the perfect man to help Charlie become comfortable in his own skin..

As always, Ashwood makes us feel everything her characters feel as we fall in love with them. Beyond the central relationships, secondary characters come to life beautifully. New York comes alive through Charlie’s narration. The city emerges as a vibrant, heaving culinary heaven, a place where everyone can be freely accepted.

I love the detail Ashwood put into her dance scenes, especially at the start. I was a little sad that as Charlie’s relationships progressed, the detailed descriptions of his dancing waned. I wanted more dancing!

This is a fantastic story. Highly recommended.

Sarah

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Excerpt

My fingers tugged at the edge of the cardboard cozy wrapped around the cup as I waited for him to speak. The silence between us felt heavy, and the awkwardness settled in around me as he stared at me, his mouth quirked in a playful expression.

“What?” I asked finally.

“Nothing,” he replied, smiling. “So I guess we should get started.”

“Sure.”

“I think maybe just one, two songs at most. The festival isn’t until the end of the summer, so we have lots of time.”

“What festival is it again?” I asked.

“OutShine,” he responded.

“What kind of festival is that?” I asked.

“It’s a big arts festival that takes place throughout the city, mostly in parks. There are exhibits and performances, and a huge celebration at the end. It was started a few years ago to raise awareness and money for gay rights.”

“Oh. Are you… I mean….”

“Gay?” Max supplied.

“Yeah.”

“Yes. Are you?”

“I… no, uh I…,” I stuttered. I was stunned by how nonchalant and completely unapologetic he’d been about his sexuality, as though admitting to me he was gay was the most ordinary thing in the whole world. A part of me wished I could do that. I could nod and say the words like it was as natural as telling him I was blond or I liked chocolate ice cream.

“It’s okay, Charlie. No big deal. You don’t have to be gay to participate. Originally, all the artists were gay, but it has grown and evolved now to include everyone, which is how it should be,” Max said, shooting me an understanding look.

I should have corrected him. I should have told him, but I’d never said the words out loud. Hell, it was hard enough for me to form that three-word sentence in my head. Even as I sat there, my brain rebelled, doing its own version of sticking its fingers in its ears and humming. So instead of being honest with him about who I was, I let him assume I was something else.

AuthorInterview

1) Can you describe in detail what your writing environment is like? 
At the moment, I have a pile of laundry to my left, more Fisher Price toys than you can count strewn across the floor, and sun shining through the windows. I write in my living room, which doubles as my husband’s office, our family space, and Nugget’s play room. There are huge windows, though, so I have a nice view of outside, and I can watch the baby play while I’m writing. It’s not exactly a writing cave, but I love it.
2) Is there one of your characters that you relate to (from any of your works)? Why?
I think there are pieces of ourselves in all the characters we write. Charlie, one of the main characters in this book, is a lot like me in some respects, and totally different from me in others. I was a dancer. I get nervous about going new places and meeting new people. I map out routes and research in advance if I have to go somewhere I’ve never been before. But I’m lucky. I was never bullied. I’ve never been as broken as Charlie is. But he’s special to me because I understand him.
3) If you couldn’t be an author, what would you do instead?
I have a day job–I work as a phlebotomist, but if we’re talking creative as a replacement for writing, I would definitely be a photographer. I’ve always loved photography, and now that we have a baby, I can’t tell you how many pictures we have!
4) Is there anything that you learned during the writing process that you wish you had known before hand? 
How busy it can get. I suffered from a serious case of writer’s block for a while, and when I became unblocked, I wrote a lot. A LOT. And in the last few months, I’ve been going through edits, and proofs, and promotion, and it takes up a lot of time. It’s fun, and I really enjoy it, but there’s more to writing a book than just writing the book.
5) Is there anything that you wish you could change about your book now that it is out? 
No, I don’t think so. I wish I’d been able to do more research in person! I’ve been to New York quite a few times (my sister used to live there), but I don’t think I’ll ever be able to visit enough. I love that city.
6) How do you come up with new ideas for your story?
This one was inspired by my past experiences, but the original idea sparked from a video of Magnus Labbe about two years ago This is it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wriSrR2HEO8
He is beautiful, and his fluidity and lyricism is incredible. If you’ve got some time, you should take a look at all his videos on YouTube. He’s only gotten better in the last two years. So incredible.
There isn’t a lot of pole dancing in the book, but it certainly inspired the story.
7) What’s next for you as a writer? 
I have a few more books coming out this year, so that is keeping me pretty busy. I’m working on two new series as well, so I’m alternating writing those with some standalone novels. I’m really excited about them all because they’re all such different projects.
 
8) Where do you live? Do you think this influences how or what you write? 
I live in White Rock, which is a little tiny, teensy city just outside of Vancouver in Canada. It has an impact on some stories for sure. Brick by Brick, the book I wrote with L.J. takes place in an abandoned house that I saw driving through Aldergrove once. I sent her the photo, and we created a book around it. The EMS series I’m working on now takes place in Vancouver. It’s a beautiful city and one of the greatest things about the area is how diverse it is.
 
9) What is your favorite genre outside of the one you write in? Why?
I really enjoy paranormal. I just love the tropes that go with it. There are no limits, and reading something beyond reality is always nice.
10) Do you have any vices? Shoes, coffee, shopping…etc?
I like bad TV, like made for TV movies, and those unrealistic dramas. Oooh and Cheetos. So good.

AuthorBio

Cate Ashwood wrote her very first story in a hot-pink binder when she was in the second grade and found her passion for writing. Her first successful foray into romance writing came five years later when she wrote her best friend, who was experiencing a case of unrequited love, her own happily ever after.

Cate’s life has taken a number of different and adventurous roads. She now lives a stone’s throw from the ocean, just outside of Vancouver, British Columbia with her husband, her brand new little boy, and her two cats. Her life is filled with family and friends, travel, and, of course, books.

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