Title: Piece Us Back Together
Author Name: Cate Ashwood, L.J. LaBarthe & Raine O’Tierney
Publication Date & Length: May 20, 2015 – 260 pgs
A M/M Romance “Healing” Anthology
Red Runs Through by Cate Ashwood
Carter McClintock’s life is uncomplicated. For the past five years, he’s spent so much time in hospital scrubs that one day bleeds into the next, and that’s just the way he likes it. That is, until he meets Matthew Nolan. Carter has never had a patient affect him the way Matthew does. During Matthew’s stay in the hospital, the chemistry is unmistakable, and once he is discharged, Carter asks him out.
Despite the obvious attraction between them, Matthew’s HIV status keeps him from handing Carter his heart, refusing to believe anyone could ever truly want him. When Matthew’s past comes to light, their budding relationship is threatened before it has even begun. But Carter isn’t one to give up without a fight and he will do anything to show Matthew the lengths he will go to keep them together.
All That Shimmers by Raine O’Tierney
Beau Bell is a former Olympic hopeful, left paralyzed from the waist down after a car accident. He has every reason in the world to be pissed off and miserable, yet he’s training for the Paralympics Men’s 100m—S6 division. The chair? Just a part of who he is now. Beau’s attitude is golden. If only he could contend with this one little issue: errant erections and no way to relieve them!
Nikša Meríc is a lonely scientist and really bad poet living underneath the old building where he does his research. Every night he watches his neighbor through his basement window as he undresses in his wheelchair. Although there is no apparent reason for Nikša to be unhappy, he’s struggled with depression his whole life and has tried to kill himself on multiple occasions.
When Beau proposes that his “voyeur” come over and help him experiment with the erections he can’t actually feel, the relationship they build is a sexual one. But the relationship they need is one that will heal each other’s hearts as well.
Swimming with Elephants by L.J. LaBarthe
After suffering a torn rotator cuff in his left shoulder, Garrett believes his life is over. Depressed, bereft, in pain, and unable to return to the career he loves as an arborist, he sees no hope or future for himself. But a trip to Havelock Island in India turns his world upside down. He meets Jai, an Indian nurse, and becomes smitten with him. Near the end of his trip, while swimming with an elephant, he tells Jai how he feels.
After Garrett returns to Australia, he wonders if he can ever be healed of all his pain—physical, emotional, and mental—and fears that love and romance will never be his again. But then Jai turns up in Perth and brings with him astonishing news.
I kept feeling that the main characters were defined by their disabilities rather than the disability just being a small part of the person. This might have been because the authors were charged with writing on the theme of disability, or it might have been because ensuring readers understand a complex disability takes time and these were short stories.
There were parts of all three stories that I really liked.
In “All that Shimmers”, Beau’s swimming is described beautifully. I liked the power he had in the water, and I enjoyed the banter between Beau, his coach, and his opponent.
In “Swimming With Elephants”, I liked Garrett’s home menagerie and his passion for his job.
It was Carter’s thoughtfulness I enjoyed in “Red Runs Through”. I loved the presents he brought the bed bound Matthew.
This wasn’t a favourite book, but it is a collection of sweet, romantic short stories.
Piece Us Back Together – Anthology
RO: Oh, it used to be absolutely amazing. I had pictures of abandoned psychiatric hospitals on the wall, dried roses everywhere, old typewriter, an apothecary–very me, very inspiring–but I’ve just moved to a brand new house so all that’s in there now is a daybed with the world’s most unfortunate comforter. I love my mommy but I let her pick it and…bright orange, yellow, and purple with ruffles…doesn’t exactly fit what I’ve got in mind for the writing room.
2) Is there one of your characters that you relate to (from any of your works)? Why?
RO: Autumn from Most Beautiful Words I think. Awkward little girl? Yep, that’s me!
3) If you couldn’t be an author, what would you do instead?
RO: Professional sushi eater and sampler of Vietnamese coffee.
4) Is there anything that you learned during the writing process that you wish you had known before hand?
With this story specifically, I didn’t realize how much I would enjoy being part of an anthology. It helps that Raine and LJ are my friends, and it makes coordinating a lot easier since we all chat anyway, but this experience was good for me. I was motivated to meet deadlines, and excited to read the others’ stories as well. I would definitely do another anthology down the road.
5) Is there anything that you wish you could change about your book now that it is out?
I don’t think so… I guess we’ll wait and see how the reviews go. 😉
6) How do you come up with new ideas for your story?
This particular story is based (incredibly loosely) on a patient I met a long time ago. He was also HIV positive and very young an that stuck with me. I wanted to write an HIV positive character in a manner that wasn’t completely doom and gloom, and I wanted to give him his happily ever after, because I think it’s important that people understand the ins and outs of the disease. So I started with “Matthew”, and worked from there, building him a life, and a relationship, and his HEA.
7) What’s next for you as a writer?
I have two more books—the last two—in The Archangel Chronicles coming out, and I’ve finished a sci-fi m/m romance. I’m currently working on my second co-authored title with Cate Ashwood, and I have a contemporary m/m romance set in the outback of South Australia and a paranormal set just north of Boston on the go. In between writing, I’ll be researching for my next historical, which will be set in 1920s Adelaide, South Australia, and will be a sequel to the novella, The Body on The Beach.
8) Where do you live? Do you think this influences how or what you write?
My home city is Adelaide, the capital city of the state of South Australia. I do think it influences my writing a little, certainly when I write Australian characters, I draw from around me with those characters. I also tend to set my Australian stories in places I know quite well. The m/m contemporary I’m working on at the moment is set in the outback, specifically the Flinders Ranges in South Australia, and it’s one of my most favourite places on the planet, so it’s a bit of a love letter to that region as well.
9) What is your favorite genre outside of the one you write in? Why?
I cross the streams in my writing and so I think the only one I haven’t dabbled in at some point is horror. That’s because I’m a horror wuss and can’t cope with it in my TV/film/novels. This is even though I thoroughly adore the show Fortitude, which is incredibly well written and the narrative is so tight and intricately crafted, the acting reflects that and the scenery is amazing. And the horror elements make me squeak and cover my eyes.
SO. Taking that into account, I do most enjoy writing fantasy/paranormal/light sci-fi and history, predominately 12thcentury European. The first because I like being able to invent my own magical system and technology system and the second because I love history and that period, particularly in France and the Byzantine Empire, are my most favourite eras.-L. J.
10) Do you have any vices? Shoes, coffee, shopping…etc?
Smith’s cheese and onion chips. They are my vice. Nomomom. Ahem. Also shoes. I love my shoes, especially the amazing Mary Jane’s made by the company Hot Chocolate and boots made by Demonia or Doctor Marten. Once a punk chick, always a punk chick, I suppose—I’ve been one since I was 14, so it’s here to stay!
Raine O’Tierney lives outside of Kansas City with her husband, fellow Dreamspinner Press author, Siôn O’Tierney.
When she’s not writing, she’s either asleep, or fighting the good fight for intellectual freedom at her library day
job. Raine believes the best thing we can do in life is be kind to one another, and she enjoys encouraging fellow
writers! Writing for 20+ years (with the last 10 spent on M/M) Raine changes sub-genres to suit her mood and
believes all good stories end sweetly. Contact her if you’re interested in talking about point-and-click adventure
games or about which dachshunds are the best kinds of dachshunds!
L.J. LaBarthe is a French-Australian woman, who was born during the Witching Hour, just after midnight. From this
auspicious beginning, she went on to write a prize-winning short story about Humpty Dumpty wearing an Aussie
hat complete with corks dangling from it when she was six years old. From there, she wrote for her high school
yearbook, her university newspaper, and, from her early teens to her twenties, produced a fanzine about the local
punk rock music scene. She loves music of all kinds and was once a classical pianist; she loves languages and speaks
French and English and a teeny-tiny smattering of Mandarin Chinese, which she hopes to relearn properly very
soon. She enjoys TV, film, travel, cooking, eating out, abandoned places, urbex, history, and researching.
L.J. loves to read complicated plots and hopes to do complex plot lines justice in her own writing. She writes
paranormal, historical, urban fantasy, and contemporary Australian stories, usually m/m romance and featuring
m/m erotica. She has won a Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention and another award for Best Historical Gay Novel.
L.J. lives in the city of Adelaide, and is owned by her cat.
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.