Title: The Guy With The Suitcase
Series: Once Upon a Guy, Book One
Author: Chris Ethan
Genre: Gay Romance, Contemporary, New Adult
Pierce is homeless.
Young and strong-willed Pierce has been living in the streets of New York City for six months, since his parents kicked him out of their perfect, Christian, suburban house. Pierce is gay. And he is suffering the consequences for being true to himself.
Rafe is homeless.
He is also sick. Impressionable, but far from innocent, Rafe ran away from home almost a year ago. His sickness is slowly killing him. But Rafe is not a hopeless case. He has learned to get by. Nights of paid passion turn to sheltering warmth from the imminent New York winter.
And then there’s a suitcase. Pierce’s suitcase, which holds secrets from everyone including its owner.
When their worlds collide, their lives intertwine and when the world seems bent on bringing the two souls to their knees, fate has other plans for them.
Caution: Contains adult language, New York City streets, tough life choices, sexual tension, stubborn brutes and swoon-worthy romance.
He felt like punching himself. What the fuck was wrong with him? Why was he focusing on all the cons? What had happened to him? He used to be such a positive person. A healthy man with a passion for his body and an empathy for the planet he lived on. He was a recycler, an energy and water saver, and a vegan bodybuilder in the making. To an outsider’s eye, he would be the epitome of a hipster, coming from a middle-class Christian family from Upstate New York. But he was nothing like his parents. They were the reason he’d become so pessimistic. Before they kicked him out, he was his own man. Now, he was a nobody at the mercy of the kindness of strangers.
No. Pierce dismissed the negativity for now. He was going look at everything good about his life at that particular moment. He had a job. In a few months, he’d have a room, hopefully sooner if it paid well. His own room. Maybe next year he could resume college too. If to have all that he had to sleep wherever he could for another month or so, he would brave the winter. He would sleep in the subway. He would sleep at Central Park. He wouldn’t even care if he’d get pissed on or mugged again. If that’s what it took to kick start his life, he would do it.
A shout permeated his ears and he turned to find the source. He couldn’t see anything, but a second scream guided him down the road he was walking and in to an alley between two apartment buildings. Two men were knelt on the ground pinning someone from the hands and legs while a third guy was unbuttoning the victim’s trousers, shutting his mouth with his hand.
The victim was also a guy. Pierce knew because he tried to ungag his mouth and grunted.
“Shut the fuck up, boy. When you give up your ass, you ain’t screaming.”
“Hey!” Pierce shouted at the guys before he could control himself. The guy who was doing the unbuttoning turned and, seeing Pierce, stood up. Pierce etched closer. The only streetlight in the alley hit the victim’s face and Pierce recognized it. It was Rafe.
This book surprised me. I was expecting the usual – homeless guy, who is usually involved in some area of the sex industry, is rescued and falls in love with his rescuer. And yes, there was an element of that here. Rafe is homeless, sick and hopeless, working the streets in a desperate attempt to earn enough money for his next month’s supply of the medicine he needs to stay alive. However, this is where it diverges from the usual trope.
Pierce is also homeless, thrown out of his home for coming out. However, Pierce is far from helpless. He manages to retain his dignity and his drive and he saves himself, and Rafe, by doggedly chasing his dream of a job and a life against all the odds. He finds himself a job and eventually a home, with Rafe who he drags along with him until they are both working and off the streets.
Where does the suitcase come in. Ah, well throughout the story Pierce holds on to a battered old suitcase that is the source of his inspiration and which drives him on when all he wants to do is give up and go under. It tells the story of a remarkable man who was Pierce’s model and inspiration and in whose footsteps Pierce seeks to make himself worthy to tread.
I’m not sure if this was meant to be a YA but it certainly has that feel and I think it is a book that should be found in a school library. It teaches that not all homeless people are the same, none of them live on the streets out of choice, and all of them have either given up and are waiting to die, which is a tragedy we should all take responsibility for, or fighting toward a better life, fuelled by hope and a retained sense of dignity. It is a sad reflection of society that despite giving it their best shot so many people pass from one category to the other – some sooner; some later. They all have stories that Pierce catalogues through photography and some of which we are privileged to peep into via this beautiful story.
The romance between Rafe and Pierce is unhurried and beautiful in its elegance and its role in bolstering both of them when they might otherwise have given up. At one time or another both have hauled the other up when they would have slipped under.
You might have guessed that I loved this book. Yes, there are some rough patches – not just in the storyline but its delivery but, you know what, they didn’t matter. Not one whit. This is a strong story with strong, determined characters who provide better role models than many who are presented to young people in a clean homogenized package, tied up with ribbon. In an ideal world they might be enough; in this one they fail to prepare young people for the harsh realities they might well have to face on one side of the fence or the other.
This book is not only worth reading, but worth reading again and again and will leave you with a sense of completion and hope, but also, I would hope, a little more compassion from those who are trying hard to make a life, just like you and me, but who might just need a little hand up the ladder.
Interview with Author
Let’s start by telling us, in twenty words, or less, what you’re book’s about.
The Guy With The Suitcase is a gay romance about two homeless teens finding love in the streets of the Big Apple.
What was it that led you to write in the genre(s) you write?
I always meant to write a romance or two, but until last year, when I started attending book conventions and fairs I got into it more. Of course an interaction with a publisher in NY was what inspired my current novel and the series it belongs to. From there on, it seems impossible to turn it off. Pairing people for potential books, I mean.
Are your books character led or plot led, or both?
They have a bit of both. A great character goes a long way and their exploration can take up an entire series, but without some plot, even the best characters can fail to deliver. I think in romance you have to have an even balance between the two for a good outcome.
What is your favourite part of the writing process?
It’s finding out what hardships and troubles will get between the couple and their happy-ever-after. It’s what makes the story all the more interesting and it’s what pushes me to write it so that I can get to the end and put them where and whoever they belong with.
What is your least favourite part of the writing process
Do you have to ask? Editing.
No. Scratch that. Promoting. That’s the devil. You have to sell your baby. And unlike actual babies, you don’t always think they’re that great to begin with. *evil grin*.
Where do you get your inspiration for your characters?
Everywhere and anywhere. It could hit me anytime. At work, on the train, at home. I can never find shelter from those damn plot bunnies. Save me!
Tell us a little about the characters in your book and their story. You can use more than twenty words this time.
Pierce is 20 and has been kicked out of his Christian home because of his sexuality. He roams the streets of New York City trying to find purpose for his life and build it again and get back the future he once had. Rafe is also a homeless teen, who sells his body in order to provide for himself. They meet under strange circumstances and their entire worlds collide. The rest that follows you have to find out for yourself *wink*
If you could have one wish what would it be?
That I could provide for myself in a way that would allow me to write full-time. I guess. Or a mansion in Hawaii. I’m cool with either.
What’s your deepest fear?
If I came to dinner what would you feed me?
Something mildly spicy, mildly Asian, mildly Mediterranean, mildly vegan.
Which of your characters would you like to be sharing the dinner table with us?
Pierce and Rafe for sure. And Vance and Damian would be fun. They’re cool guys.
Tell us in the character’s own words, what he/she would have to say about you.
“I f*cking hate you…I love you. I hate you….okay, I love you. Wait!”
What would they say (again in their own words) about themselves, and their story that will make us want to read about it?
“Our story ain’t pretty, but then again life ain’t pretty, but it’s sweet, it’s heart-warming and if you don’t fall for Rafe that way I did, then there’s something immensely wrong with you” Pierce
Which other fictional character(s) would you like to be present at the dinner party?
I’m currently reading For Never and Always by Ana J. Phoenix and her characters, Carter and Seth, would be fun to hang around with. Also, Harry Potter…
What other authors would you say have either influenced your writing or you would like to emulate?
JK. Rowling has certainly influenced my entire career up to today. Anthony Horowitz’s writing and process inspired my own technique, so I guess those two would have to fight for the top spot.
Which character from literature, would you most like to have invented?
Uhm…Harry Potter. Of course. That world-building…
What do you prefer writing. A one off novel, a series or short stories?
A little bit of everything for me. I’ve written all, but if I had to chose I’d say a series.
What kind of books do you read (if you have time to read)?
I read books in my genre (it’s called research, okay? Whatever) and a lot of fantasy and paranormal.
Where do you see yourself personally and professionally in 5 years time?
Hopefully happy in both parts of my life and unfortunately with five times the amount of novel ideas on my WIP (works in progress) list.
Do you have any other projects in the offing we should look out for?
Keep an eye on my Amazon author page as you will be seeing a few titles available for pre-order soon. Men of Spring, the first of a shifter novella series will be one of them. Also, Pretty Little Red, the second book in Once Upon A Guy series will be coming this summer.
Where can we find you?
You can find out more about me on my website http://rcethan.com, which at the moment houses my alternate persona’s books and info, but which shall soon have a little “room” for my Chris Ethan titles.
On Facebook.com/chrisethan.author and amazon.com/Chris-Ethan/e/B01AHDN3FI
Prize Bundle: The Guy With The Suitcase Mug, Chris Ethan pen, and $5 Amazon Gift Card
About the Author
Chris Ethan is a book whore. He enjoys selling his feelings for money and other pleasures and is blatantly unashamed to do so for as long as he breathes. Chris Ethan is also a persona for Rhys Christopher Ethan, author of fantasy and sci-fi. He uses Chris Ethan to share stories of adult queer romance with those who need it. Before you delve into his books however, be warned. He likes putting his characters through shitstorms and hates anything conventional. But then there’s that darned happy-ever-after. Also, he likes swearing. Deal with it!