For Love of Max by Julie L. Hayes
Life is truly beautiful! Richard actually asked me to marry him, do you believe it? Of course there’s a small hurdle we have to cross – namely that gay marriage isn’t legal here in Missouri. But it’s a start, right?
Things are looking up for us, now that I know the truth about Richard. Our careers are doing well, we’re blissfully happy together, and Mother has given us her blessing! My sister Diana is going through boyfriends like some people change clothes, I wonder if she’ll ever find Mr. Right? Cat’s cousin has turned out to be a real interesting character, and the most interesting thing is – he’s a werewolf! And more disturbing than that, I think that maybe my father (that shadowy figure who’s never figured in my life) might just be someone named Jason. It’s a long story.
Just when I thought I had things figured out, they change, and I find out that what I thought I knew was just so much nonsense. In other words – lies. Who can I trust? Other than Richard, of course. And what should I believe? And why does it seem like the world is trying to shake me out of my lycanthropic closet?
What’s a gay werewolf to do?
“Max, quit wiggling and stand still!” Richard admonishes me, “or I’m going to get mascara in your eye, and that won’t feel good at all. Not to mention it might get infected.” Obediently, I still my movements. I don’t relish having that wand shoved into my wide open orb. Or anywhere else, for that matter. And as squeamish as I am about germs, I’ve no desire to find myself fighting some sort of ocular infection either.
I’m not very sure about this, not sure at all. Yet I’ve allowed myself to be talked into it. Naturally. My silver-tongued boy of mine can talk me into just about anything. This can’t be news to any one of you, whether you’ve been following this tale from the beginning, or arrived at any point in between. Max in Richard’s hands is simply Silly Putty.
“There!” he exclaims with satisfaction, standing back to admire his handiwork. I can see by the gleam in his eyes he’s very pleased with the result. Lust exudes from every pore as he scans my form. I pirouette prettily for his inspection and delectation as we stand together in our bedroom. I’m garbed in an ensemble consisting of a red silk corset, black garters, strategically torn black fishnets, and black platforms which if I’m lucky I won’t fall from. I also have a face full of cosmetics—white foundation, blue shadow, kohl mascara, and eyeliner enough for several people. I draw the line at lipstick, though; I find the texture of it abhorrent on my lips. I don’t even care for ChapStick. Richard accedes to my wishes. Says he prefers my natural shade anyway. It makes it that much easier to kiss me, which he proceeds to demonstrate. And if you haven’t guessed from that description what we are about, it’s Rocky Horror Picture Show night, and I’m dressed as Doctor Frank-N-Furter. Richard’s been trying to get me to do this for some time now, and I’ve finally given in. Or given up. Surrendered. Cried uncle. However you want to say it, I’ve done it. Richard will play Rocky, of course, in a tight gold lamé Speedo which makes my blood pressure rise just looking at it, causing other things to rise as well.
“You’re sure it’s not too cold for that?” I ask, nodding at his skimpy costume.
“I have you to keep me warm, sweet thing.” How can I argue with that? I can’t, of course.
Not that I intend to let him walk out of the house like that; he’s going to wear a long coat over the requisite white bandages, both of which only come off inside the theatre itself, and only to the gaze of the Rocky Horror aficionados. I myself have a black cloak, ala the mad doctor, and I won’t take it off ’til then either. Unless I regain my sanity in the meantime, and refuse to take it off at all. Is that very likely? You tell me.
“You know something,” he says, his eyes continuing to caress my costumed figure blatantly, “I think if you offered yourself up for the Virgin Auction, you’d probably fetch a good price. I’d certainly bid on you.”
“Fat chance of that,” I snort derisively, “I know better now. And besides, I no longer qualify as a virgin, as you very well know.”
He smirks at me in return. “I’ve quite taken care of that, haven’t I?”
“Very funny, that’s not what I meant, and you know it. Besides, I wasn’t a virgin when we met, if you’ll recall. You didn’t seem to object then, now did you? No, I was talking about the first time we went to see Rocky Horror, which would be the only time that we were actually virgins. In that respect, that is.”
He moves closer, his arms sliding around me, his hands caressing my buttocks through the medium of the silken material between us. “You wouldn’t even dress up,” he remembers, a soft smile gracing his face.
“No, I wouldn’t.” No argument there.
“No, you wouldn’t,” he echoes, his lips running softly over mine, “and if you want to be technical, we didn’t even get to see it, did we?”
No, we didn’t. All my fault. That time.
Is the White Knight in Shining Armor Passé?
Remember Marian the Librarian, Meredith Willson’s heroine in The Music Man? Brash, bold and independent, she braved the ignorance of the town she lived in regarding her relationship with an older gentleman, and with her book knowledge and her intimacy with such scandalous authors as Balzac and Rabelais! She was the subject of gossip by every biddy in town, but she never backed down, nor apologized for who she was! And yet even she sat in her window seat, gazing up at the full moon with dreamy eyes, and professed her desire for a white knight on a noble steed to come into her life.
Times have certainly changed. Back then, normalcy consisted of the man of the house as the breadwinner, who braved the big bad world every day in his quest to make a living for his family and bring home the bacon so his wife could cook it up. She, on the other hand, took care of the house and children, and found fulfillment in being housekeeper and nanny. An unpaid job, perhaps, but a very important one. Those times are for the most part gone. While there are still women who do not work outside of the home, they are now the exception, rather than the rule. It’s really only been over the last thirty to thirty five years that these changes have been wrought. When I was married to my first husband, back in the mid-70’s, it was expected that I would stay home and he would work. The fact that that didn’t last was not a testimony to anything but my bad taste in men.
Now the economy requires that both the husband and wife work in order to support the household, not to mention that there are households with only one parent, who have no help in that regard. What of the jobs that were once the purview of the housewife—the house and the children? At first, the wife was expected to not only work a full-time job, but to juggle the rest of it as well. And not complain about it. While her hubby came home from work, and relaxed in front of the TV with his newspaper, while he waited for his evening meal to be served.
Well, the times, they certainly have changed. Women took a good look at their lives and said wait just a minute buddy, it’s your house and your kids too. You’re not special, lend a hand. And many did. Some who didn’t quickly found out the meaning of the word d-i-v-o-r-c-e.
So, what has this done to that old bastion of female escapism, the romance novel? The hero has undergone some dramatic changes. Women have stopped looking for that white knight on a steed who’ll carry them away to a mythical land of milk and honey and love everlasting, because they know that’s a dream, and it doesn’t exist. What they want now is a man who is capable of changing a diaper, fixing a broken sink, searching for a lost dog, and being thoughtful and caring, while remembering all major holidays and special occasions without having them imprinted on his forehead. And he doesn’t have to be Mr. Hunky to do it. Face it, Mr. Hunky’s nice to look at, but muscles and dreams only get you so far.
Women have also changed in their romance novel reading habits with the meteoric rise of the m/m romance novel. Men and women both have embraced this genre, and their attitudes and lifestyles are reflected in the various heroes that can be found on the market. While there are plenty of Mr. Hunky’s out there, there are also men who are beautiful inside and normal guys on the outside (except to their partners, of course).
One book that never fails to come to mind when I think of a regular hero is Bernard: Diary of a 46 Year Old Bellhop, by SL Danielson. Bernard is 46, overweight, suicidal—and yet underneath it all beats a good heart, one which the writer reveals in the course of the novel. While his crush/partner, the gorgeous doctor who saves his life and steals his heart has character flaws of his own that aren’t immediately apparent on the surface.
Today’s hero has to do more than look good, he has to be useful. And he has to be caring. Men born and raised in generations past were taught not to show their feelings, so they didn’t. They held back in many ways, while the women were taught to accept what was offered to them. Today, the men have gained the right to show their emotions, while the women are free to stand up and say no, that’s not what I want.
Maximillian Montague is the hero of my series, To the Max. At forty-four, he is a nice looking guy, but no Adonis. He’s intelligent, caring and sensitive—and he’s gay. Plus he’s a werewolf. It’s hard to tell sometimes which causes him more problems. Maybe it’s his family and friends?
The second book in the series has just been released by Silver Publishing—For Love of Max, which continues where the first one left off. Having overcome adversity and heartbreak in the first book, you’d think Max’s life is happy and on course—not! Life is throwing him some more curves, ones that he has to deal with, including an issue which he never actually expected to have to deal with in his lifetime. Amy, the villainess from the first book, is still around, and she just may have competition for the title of worst person in Max’s life. With Richard by his side, Max feels he can weather anything. But can he? Only time will tell!
Hunky heroes are still around, of course, and always will be, but let’s hear it for the every day Joe who barrels into our lives in his used car and his sensible shoes, and his heart of gold!
Thank you for having me here today, Amber! And thanks everyone who stopped by! Tell me about the heroes in your life and what they mean to you! I’d love to hear about them!