Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Rite of Summer by Tess Bowery (VBB, excerpt, review) Goddess Fish Tours

It is my pleasure to have a guest post from Tess Bowery today:

TB:  First off, thank you so much for hosting me today! I’m thrilled to have you on the tour, and to be able to ‘meet’ your readers.

I’ve been asked about publishing quite a bit, of course, and I’m happy to talk about the path I took to get to this point.

I’ve been writing stories since I was little; my mother has a handful of things I wrote when I was five and six that she refuses to let me burn. It took me thirty years from those first filled scribblers, though, to get to a point where I was willing and able to send a manuscript off to a publishing house and have it accepted.

My biggest obstacle on the path to getting a book out has always been a lack of confidence. I always used to make the excuse that I didn’t have enough time to sit down and write 90,000 words. Or that I didn’t have any original ideas. Compared to fighting off that firebreathing dragon, the rest of the process has been remarkably simple.

It’s so easy, especially for women, to believe that we’re not ‘good enough’ – to internalize all those messages that say that if we’re not publishing our first books by the age of twenty, bestsellers by twenty-five, we’re already all washed up. Or to look at the stack of well-thumbed favorites on the bedside table and say ‘I’ll never be able to write as well as Guy Kay / Stephen King / Nora Roberts / Margaret Atwood; why set myself up to fail?’

I used to flip through my folders of unfinished ideas and notes and think, ‘if only I were able to write this story the way I want it to be told.’ (If only I could cook like Julia Child, host like Martha Stewart, have the beauty of Halle Berry, etc etc etc… the demands we make on ourselves are so much stronger than anything coming from outside.)

The problem is, that quickly becomes a terrible feedback loop, where the negative self-talk leads to nervousness, which leads to half-assing something from fear of failure, which… leads to failure. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I got my sorely-needed kick in the pants from a friend of mine who read my amateur writing and fanfic. She asked a simple question, that became a complicated one: ‘have you ever tried writing something for publication? Then how do you know?’

And I had no answer.

At least, not one that didn’t boil down to ‘because I don’t believe that I can.’

(She’s the kind of friend who would kick my butt from here to Poughkeepsie if I tried that excuse, anyway.)

So I sat down to write, taking my favorite of the ideas scribbled down in my notebook. Having a passion for the subject matter helped, because it made the research fun. I could pretend that I was doing the entire thing purely for my own entertainment, which made it far less daunting to actually consider submitting.

To an editor.

Who would read and judge my writing.

(Doing some industry research helped. I carry a hefty dose of spite against those who’ve called LBGT representation an ‘unimportant minority interest.’ I operate very efficiently when ‘so there’ is part of the equation.)

The thing that I found the most helpful, after the initial ‘god no!’ reaction was over, was to enlist the help of some cheerleaders.

I conscripted my partner and a handful of very good friends into reading chapters of my first draft as they spooled out. Sometimes they commented, sometimes they didn’t. Even when they were quiet, the knowledge that I had them at my back was enough to make it easier, even once I was biting my nails waiting for replies from publishers.

The process becomes about taking that leap of faith, and learning to trust ourselves when we say that we have engaging stories to tell.

Come by on June 2nd, 7 pm Eastern Time, to join me in the chatroom for the release party! I’ll have giveaways and prizes as well as interviews and a social hour. I look forward to seeing everyone! 

Tess Bowery is an east coast writer of historical LBGT erotic romance (can it get more niche?) She’s an academic with a masters in history, which she is abusing relentlessly in pursuit of happy endings. Rite of Summer is her debut novel. This highly-charged erotic romance is available now for pre-order --Samhain -- and releases officially on June 2nd.

Get updates and book information at Tess' website, or hang out with Tess at Tumblr, or @tessbowery on Twitter.


Rite of Summer

by Tess Bowery



There are terrors worse than stage fright. Like falling in love.

Violinist Stephen Ashbrook is passionate about three things—his music, the excitement of life in London, and his lover, Evander Cade. It’s too bad that Evander only loves himself. A house party at their patron’s beautiful country estate seems like a chance for Stephen to remember who he is, when he’s not trying to live up to someone else’s harsh expectations.

Joshua Beaufort, a painter whose works are very much in demand among the right sort of people, has no expectations about this party at all. Until, that is, he finds out who else is on the guest list. Joshua swore off love long ago, but has been infatuated with Stephen since seeing his brilliant performance at Vauxhall. Now he has the chance to meet the object of his lust face to face—and more.

But changing an open relationship to a triad is a lot more complicated than it seems, and while Evander’s trying to climb the social ladder, Stephen’s trying to climb Joshua. When the dust settles, only two will remain standing...



The man in the portrait was not classically handsome. His mouth was too full and his hair too red for that, his jawline perhaps a little too soft. But his eyes crinkled at the corners with secret mirth, as though sharing a very private joke with the viewer, and those lush and generous lips curled up at one corner. He sat in a smock and his shirtsleeves, a palette on the table behind him. His head tilted very slightly to the side, like he was listening to some secret, lively song. His eyes caught and held Stephen, grey as stormclouds over the cliffs, a hint of blue that was the clear sky breaking through, and a knowing look that struck some chord deep within that Stephen could not immediately name.

He wanted-

Well, he wanted a great many things. But never before had a portrait been responsible for a curl of longing or desire twisting its way up from the center of his being, some vague and wistful sense of thwarted desire focused on that arresting stare.

I wonder if he would look at me that way in life.

I wonder who he is.

A faint scuff of feet behind was all that gave Stephen warning before someone spoke, and he managed neither to whip around in surprise, nor jump like a child caught where he shouldn’t be. “He’s not a particularly good-looking fellow, to deserve such lengthy scrutiny.”

The voice was an unfamiliar one, a warm rich tenor that verged on a deeper range, a faint northern accent coloring the tone.

“I suppose not,” Stephen replied, pausing to allow his heart to slow before he introduced himself. “If you value men solely based on looks. But there is more life in his expression than in all the other portraits put together. Either the sitter was a man of uncommon vivacity, or the painter was exceptionally fond of him.”

He turned and looked at the man standing behind him.

His hair was shorter now, and he was dressed for dinner, his cravat impeccably tied and tucked into a cream waistcoat. The man from the portrait stepped in to the gallery, framed by a shaft of light that fell across the floor from the hall. His eyes had not been exaggerated. They had been perhaps underplayed, and that grey-blue gaze regarded Stephen with a peculiar intensity. He was a little taller than Stephen, his frame of very pleasing proportions, and had a controlled energy to his walk that suggested strength lying beneath the layers of wool and linen.

“Or he was his own painter,” the newcomer said, his lip quirking up in that selfsame knowing smile, “and both irredeemably prone to vanity and in desperate need of an honest friend to check him in his fancy.”

Buy links:



Publisher (Samhain)


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Tess has been a fan of historical fiction since learning the Greek and Roman myths at her mother's knee. Now let loose on a computer, she's spinning her own tales of romance and passion in a slightly more modern setting. Her work in the performing arts has led to a passion for the theatre and dance in all its forms, and been the inspiration for her current books. Tess lives on the east coast, with her partner of fifteen years and two cats who should have been named 'Writer's Block' and 'Get Off the Keyboard, Dammit.'

Tess can be found reblogging over on, twittering at @TessBowery, and talking about writing in general and her books specifically over at

Rite of Summer on GoodReads

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Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here.


My review:

4 out of 5 stars

Rite of Summer by Tessa Bowery is an erotic m/m and m/m/m historical romance that is the start of the ‘Treading the Boards’ series.  Stephen Ashbrook and Evander Cade are an established couple who have managed a comfortable life under the patronage of the Earl of Coventry, who is impressed by Evander’s talents as a composer but merely tolerates Stephen as an accompanist.  A house-party changes the duo’s lives forever, as an encounter with painter Joshua Beaufort, who has admired Stephen from afar, changes the dynamics of their relationship and forces some unpalatable truths to come to light.  The societal persecution of gay men intensifies with horrifying and discouraging impact, and Stephen’s world spirals out of control and he must find the strength and conviction to follow his heart, no matter what obstacles are in his way.

This very spicy tale gives an intriguing look at a frighteningly unbending society with distressingly fatal consequences for those who don’t comply with the purported requirements for acceptable behavior.  It was fascinating to see the courtship dance from two different perspectives against the backdrop of aristocratic England and the contrast between wickedly carnal intimacies and staid bucolic pursuits in the country was deftly presented.  The ending felt a bit rushed to me as the various resolutions are rapidly detailed but it was lovely to see some of the characters mature.  I was drawn into the story and enjoyed the interactions with some of the secondary characters and I would be curious to find out more about a few of them, so I will be on the lookout for sequels.

A copy of this story was provided to me for review.


  1. Replies
    1. You are welcome, thank you for giving me the opportunity to learn about a new-to-me author.

  2. Thank you so much, both for hosting and for the review! I really appreciate the time it takes to read and review, and I'm immensely grateful. <3

    1. I appreciate your acknowledgement of the time and work that is required to write a review. Obviously, I enjoyed your story (although I occasionally wanted to smack a certain self-centered composer, lol) and look forward to revisiting this world in the future. Thank you for taking the time to interact with my visitors!

    2. Evander deserves a good smack. [nods seriously] I approve.

  3. So awesome this is the first M/M historical that I have seen! Put it on my wish list and can't wait to read it :)

    1. Yay, and hello! There are definitely others out there, but I shan't discourage you from reading mine first. ;)

    2. Hope you enjoy it, Crystal. There are several lovely m/m historical series that I have read and I have added this author to my 'liked' list!

  4. Replies
    1. You are quite welcome, thank you for visiting, Rita!

  5. Thank you for the post and contest.

    1. Thank you for reading! Good luck on the draw! :D

    2. You are very welcome, Betty. Thanks for taking the time to visit and comment!

  6. A fabulous post thank you & a gorgeous cover.

    1. Thank you so much! I was so lucky to work with Gabrielle at Samhain for the cover art. She was fantastic, really captured what I was looking for, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I get her again on the sequel.

    2. I agree, Mary. It is a striking cover. Hopefully they will let you request the same cover artist, Tess!

    3. Fingers crossed! I haven't seen the cover draft for She Whom I Love yet, so I can't be sure.

  7. Thanks for the great post! I bet many readers know exactly what you are talking about with the negative self-talk loop. I am glad you overcame it and got your book published. Rite of Summer sounds great - I recommended it to my local online library as a book for them to purchase.

    And I loved this line of yours: "I operate very efficiently when ‘so there’ is part of the equation."

    1. That is a great line, isn't it, Jen? There are lots of fun quotes in the story and I am sure that Tess will be very pleased to hear that you recommended it. Thanks for visiting!

    2. Oh my goodness -- thank you so much! I really appreciate the recommendation as well as the kind words. Word of mouth is the absolute best, and thank you for the time you took out of your day to pass on the information!

      My best work is fueled by a combination of spite and coffee. We have a friend who is best known for what was long-ago dubbed the 'Oh YEAH?' moment:

      - He was stung by a wasp while he was trimming his hedge, (Oh YEAH?) and razed the entire hedge flat to the ground.

      - Or the time the 2-litre of pop overflowed on his hands while he was opening it. (Oh YEAH?) so he stuck a cherry bomb inside and set it out in back. Plastic shrapnel everywhere, and the deck was sticky for weeks.

      - Or the time he was given a potted cactus for a housewarming gift and he stuck his thumb rather badly on a spine. (Oh YEAH?) So he took it outside, along with a hockey stick, and beat it into little green bits of cactus pulp.

      (Let it be said that he has never, ever been violent to animals or people, for the record. He's a puppy.)

      Anyway, the Oh YEAH? moment has become part of our lexicon around here. When I'm in the dumps or feeling down about something, uninspired or mired in the middle of the plain of lethal flatness that hits halfway through a project -- I think of Big P and his chainsaw / hockey stick / cherry bombs.

      I say 'oh YEAH?'

      And then I can I jam words out with typing loud enough to hear throughout the house, and a grin on my face that scares the cats.

  8. Love the excerpt, looking forward to reading this book