Today the lovely Brooke Edwards stops by as part of the celebration of her new short story, Sweet Dreams. She talks about the book, provides an excerpt and there’s a giveaway!
Hi Nic, thanks so much for having me to visit and chat about my new release. It’s been a while since I’ve released anything new and this is a marked departure from my last novella. Sweet Dreams is a fluffy little romance and was a much less harrowing writing experience. I found myself a little exasperated with the characters sometimes but their story was pretty straightforward when it came down to it. Lonely baker saves movie star from death by stampede by denying he ever saw him, romance blooms, nosy family members and a Twitter-happy photographer burst their happy little bubble and somehow, everything ends on a positive note. As Nic can well attest, this is very different to the last book I released!
My kitchen is one of my favourite places to be, so lots of that passion bled through into Benji as this story was taking place. My granddad used to help me up onto the counter so I could sit and watch while he worked his culinary magic. As a kid I just wondered why he added wine to everything – as an adult I realised that was the magic. Neither of my parents are very inclined towards culinary adventures which meant I got roped into dinner duty a lot growing up. Luckily, it meant that when the time came I was at the very least more than capable of feeding myself well and now my granddad comes to ME for dinner.
Food and art intertwine when it comes to Benji’s life throughout the story, as he uses it to honour lots of emotional connections to his past and present. From a way to indulge his memories of his grandmother, to deepen his connection with Cara and to reach out to people in a way that was much easier for him than words. For Benji, it was much easier to spend three hours crafting an intricate tower of spun sugar, fragile pastry and carefully piped cream than it was to open his mouth and express actual emotions. Then along comes Dane, someone who does most of his communicating in the conventional way, with words and body language. Luckily for Benji, Dane’s communication skills extend to being able to read him better than most and he doesn’t have to venture too far out of his comfort zone. I think Dane probably liked to think he was something special, being completely open to being wooed with chocolate tarts and sugar crystals. Personally, I can’t think of many people that wouldn’t work on. On that note, I hope you enjoy this little excerpt!
Throwing himself into work is what gets Benji through the next two years. Sienna cuts her shifts to just the few hours over morning and afternoon rush, more out of love and loyalty than any real need for the wage anymore. Graham is a senior partner in a law firm that his grandfather founded back in the seventies. Benji makes a lot of awkward housewife jokes at the wedding that Graham finds hilarious, Sienna not so much.
His mother tuts and makes concerned noises but never quite gets around to actually having the expected talk about the damning lack of girlfriends, let alone the alternative, and his father drops by some Friday nights after work with a six-pack of beer and quiet companionship.
One Friday night in early November, after a couple of beers each, Benji manages to coerce his father into an apron and they make a dizzying array of scones together.
Benji isn’t sure why but he blurts it out while they’re transferring the scones off the baking trays to cool. “Dad, I’m gay.”
His father drops a scone and looks at Benji sideways, disgruntled. “Did you have to say that while I was grabbing something hot?” He bends down to pick it up and then straightens, putting the floor-scone aside. “Not to take the wind out of your sails, bud, and I’m glad you actually said something but we figured that out ourselves when your mom found the stash of men’s fitness magazines under your bed in your senior year.”
The beer dulls the surprise and takes the edge off just enough for Benji to bark out a laugh that is mostly amused and only a little bitter about the time he’s spent agonizing over confessing it. His father slings an arm around his shoulders and drags him in for an awkward hug.
After that, he kind of wishes he hadn’t come out because his mother loses any fear about talking about it.
“Benji, sweetheart, I know you love it but the shop can’t be your whole life. You need to settle down, there are plenty of lovely young men around to choose from!”
Incidentally, Benji doesn’t settle down. He has a couple of short-lived flings that he can’t help but think were doomed from the start, and gets his first taste of heartbreak when Mark, the first hookup that he’s wanted to repeat, doesn’t even bother to let him down gently.
“You’ve been ghosted, dude,” Glen says when he can’t take Benji’s constant hovering over his cell anymore. “Total dick move but happens all the time.”
It’s a conscious choice for Benji to stop going out and looking for company after that.
The fourth anniversary of Cara leaving comes and goes, marked by Sienna’s sixth month of pregnancy and another addition to Benji’s wall of postcards from all over the world. He can’t read the postmark on this one but the stamp has a kangaroo on it and the front of the postcard is a collage of pristine beaches.
“Four years to make it to Australia,” Sienna says when she comes in and lets herself around the counter, seeing the new card. “What has she been doing?”
Benji’s laughter bubbles out of his mouth all over again and he just waves at the card, unable to explain. Sienna lifts an eyebrow and takes it down, flipping it over to read out loud.
“B and S,” she says, already grinning. Her free hand drops down to cradle the swell of her belly. “I’ve enlisted the help of a self-professed expert Australian hunter (we met in a bar in Melbourne) to track down the fabled fourth Hemsworth brother. She says we’re probably going to have to cross the whole country because she’s been looking for years and hasn’t found him yet. I know that you support me fully in this adventure. Do yourself a favor and look up the Great Emu War. I expect an emailed report on it – well, never, but also please do it. With love, C.”
Benji keeps laughing and waves towards the office and the laptop where he’d left the Wikipedia page open when Sienna just looks at him expectantly. “The emu war,” he manages to choke out as she goes. “The Australian Army lost!”
Sienna’s laughter starts up within seconds of her sitting down at the laptop and Benji can’t stop snickering to himself as he goes to get the pastry trays out of the oven when it beeps.
Drop a comment about your favourite dish, sweet or savoury, with your email address for a chance at the giveaway, there’s a free copy of Sweet Dreams and a $5 Amazon GC up for grabs. The giveaway closes midnight 24th April (Sydney time).
Sweet Dreams is available on Amazon and through KU here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XSJDGDQ?ref_=pe_2427780_160035660
and you can catch me online in the following places:
Facebook at www.facebook.com/brookeedwardsauthor
Or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org too!
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