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Book Exposure: Falling Hard: Stories of Men in Love, by Dale Cameron Lowry

fallinghard

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Falling Hard features nine of Dale Cameron Lowry’s best short romance stories, available for the first time in one book. Meet a sign language interpreter who finds unexpected love at middle-age, college students in their first relationships, a vampire who would rather be a vegan, and a proudly gay ex-Mormon atheist who sells Bibles for a living. From sweet to erotic, this collection exhibits the quirkiness, fun, and diversity Dale’s writing is known for.

Here is a taste of each story in Falling Hard:

  • Mi Alma — Ex-Mormon Alma Larsen doesn’t know the first thing about alcohol, so he hires bartender Damian Banks to help out at his winter holiday party. They build a friendship that simmers with sexual tension—and possibly something much deeper.

  • Loggerhead – Soon after they fall in love, Jake makes Eric a promise inspired by an old track uniform. But demanding work schedules at Jake’s four-star restaurant and Eric’s newspaper keep them from following through. Six years later, they take the honeymoon they never had, heading to the Florida coast in search of sea turtles—and rekindling their passion for each other in the process.

  • Reading the Signs — The only thing twenty-three-year-old Theo De Jong expects when he enrolls in a summer school for linguists in New Mexico is to get more ideas for his master’s thesis in Dutch Sign Language. But then he meets the American sign language expert Alfonso Grossman, and sparks fly.

  • Born of Fire — The fairies on Ireland’s north coast are notorious for kidnapping, and Aodhán of County Donegal has the scars to prove it. When the fairies abduct the handsome youth Cainnech, Aodhán seeks to free him—but risks losing his health and Cainnech in the process.

  • Ghost of a Chance — When shy Jeremy Anderson meets mysterious and dapper Frank at his spooky old university library, their connection is instant. Their romance waxes with the full moon—but just as quickly, Frank’s interest seems to wane. He insists that he loves spending time with Jeremy, but then why does he keep Jeremy at arm’s length?

  • Far From Home — Rajiv met and fell in love with his husband, Mateo, when they were both members of the scientific team responsible for transforming Mars into a home suitable for humans. But years into their shared mission, Rajiv is ordered back to Earth to restore the barren lands of the American Midwest. With a little help from technology, the two men find innovative ways to nurture their long-distance relationship while they wait to reunite.

  • Sweeter Than Blood — Keith was a vegan before a hot encounter with a stranger turned him into a vampire. In the year since, his sire, John, has tried to make up for the mistake by teaching Keith everything he knows about being a non-murderous bloodsucker. But temptation is strong in the form of Andres, a regular customer at the barbershop where Keith works. When Andres finally asks Keith on a date, the real danger begins.

  • Rough Love — Blake thinks new boyfriend Michael doesn’t like French kissing. Michael thinks Blake doesn’t like rough sex. Neither are virgins, except in the art of conversation. Can they set things straight before the honeymoon’s over?

  • Pacific Rimming — On Mike’s fortieth birthday, his husband, Ken, takes him on vacation to Vancouver Island in Western Canada to celebrate. While Mike mourns his loss of youth, Ken encourages him to recapture it by bedding a gorgeous twenty-something man they encounter while hiking in Pacific Rim National Park. A night of no-holds-barred passion among the three men reveals a sizzling chemistry, and when Mike and Ken return home they find themselves longing to reconnect with the young Jason. Can what started as a one-night stand transform into a threesome that lasts?

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From Rough Love

Caffeine made me talk a mile a minute, so I ordered decaf. My nerves made me speak a mile a minute, anyway. Michael seemed to think this was cute. I’d say one thing and he’d ask me to say more. I told him about growing up as the only out gay kid in my tiny southern Idaho town, where the hottest teen nightspots were the retention pond north of Larsen’s potato farm, evangelical revivals, and dances at the Mormon stake center—none of which were good places to find a boyfriend. I told him about the Harry Potter/Draco Malfoy gay fanfiction I used to write in high school as my only escape. I told him about happily losing my virginity to another guy’s hand at three in the morning on the bus ride from Idaho Falls to Boston when I came out for my first semester of college.

You might as well have grown up in another universe,” he said. “I’ve never been west of the Mississippi. Plus, I lost my virginity in eleventh grade. And then I discovered my prostate.” He sucked his bottom lip in and rolled his eyes in orgasmic pleasure. “When did you discover yours?”

I blushed, which was ridiculous. It wasn’t like I hadn’t had this conversation before with other guys. But then, Michael wasn’t another guy. “I’m more of a top,” I said. “Touching my prostate makes me feel like I have to pee.”

To each his own.” He said this lightly, as if this were an interesting bit of trivia and not a sign from God that we were a match made in heaven. I swallowed my disappointment and changed the subject back to our early biographies.

He was from in state, raised in Boston by a Jewish mom and a black dad who also became Jewish, but not until he had a spiritual experience at Michael’s bar mitzvah. I blushingly admitted I’d never even heard of a bar mitzvah until I started college.

He cocked his head like a bird. Another adorable gesture to add to the list. “Not a ton of Jews in Idaho, I take it?”

No. It’s about fifty-five percent Mormon and fifty-five percent evangelical, at least where I lived.”

That adds up to more than one-hundred percent.”

That’s how it felt, like everyone in town was a card-carrying member of the man-wife missionary position society. Our ‘sex ed’ was a five-minute lecture in ninth grade where my biology teacher chewed a piece of gum and then asked the students who wanted to chew it next.”

What does that have to do with sex?”

She said our bodies are like pieces of gum, and when we have sex it’s like getting chewed. No one wants to chew someone else’s gum, and no one wants to marry someone who isn’t a virgin.”

His eyes bulged out of their sockets. “You’re kidding me.”

Uh-uh. Ironic that our school had one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the state. Maybe because the prevailing rumor was that if a girl was on top, she couldn’t get pregnant. Forget about being gay.”

And my rabbi’s a lesbian who volunteers at Planned Parenthood. Different worlds.”

I wanted to be part of that world. It sounded a lot nicer than the one I was from.

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Book – Falling Hard: Stories of Men in Love

Author – Dale Cameron Lowry

Star rating – ★★★★★

No. of Pages – 233

Cover – Hot!

Would I read it again – Yes!

Genre – LGBT, Contemporary, Romance

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** I WAS GIVEN THIS BOOK FOR MY READING PLEASURE **

Reviewed for Divine Magazine

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I’m new to Dale Cameron Lowry’s work, but as soon as I was asked to read and review this, I jumped at the chance. The blurbs sounded incredible.

I loved that the blurbs for all stories were included at the beginning. I always read the blurb of a story before reading the book, but when there’s a collection like this, it’s nice and easy to flick back before starting each story to get an idea of what to expect. I also loved that there was a brief explanation of what each “Part” represented and that each story came with a heat rating. That’s great information to have on hand. (Example, one flame equals no sex, two is fade-to-black and then more detailed as they increase to five flames)

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Part 1: Falling Fast

Mi Alma

Length: 4-14%

POV: 3rd person, one character

Heat Rating: 🔥🔥🔥

I loved this! It was sweet, romantic and had a nice sensual feeling about it, too.

I liked the use of thoughts connected to a current moment to show a relevant flashback or memory, providing us some context as well as characterisation in a nice, subtle way that didn’t break the moment. The memory was short and to the point, gave us insight into who Damian was as a child and how that impacted him into adulthood, without being overbearing or overly distracting from the current scene.

The story was well paced, with a nice exploration of the way both characters interacted. The use of conversation and simmering chemistry had a great balance to it, providing romanticism as well as a realistic situation that was both sweet and natural.

I loved both Damian, whose POV we got to see, and Alma, who was this sweet and shy ex-Mormon still trying to find out who he was outside of his religion.

A really great story that captivated me right from the start and kept me smiling until the end.

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Favourite Quote

“Alma took a sip of his coffee and studied Damian’s face over it. “So you’re gay, too, huh?”

“It’s not obvious?”

Alma shrugged. “I got a vibe, but I wasn’t sure. I have the world’s worst gaydar.”

“Mine’s not great, either, unless I’m in a gay bar,” Damian said.”

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Loggerhead

Length: 14-27%

POV: 1st person, one character

Heat Rating: 🔥🔥🔥🔥

Ugh! Although the heat went up in this story compared to the previous one, it was just as full of subtle, flirtatious seduction as I’d hoped. This time, we have an established couple, as one of them – Eric – thinks about how they ended up together and how it’s all led to this one vacation where they rediscover each other. It’s beautiful to read the way he thinks so fondly about how they met and all the little things they’ve shared over the years, then to see his realisation that he’s somehow gotten comfortable and forgotten what it felt like to fall in love and feel that spark.

The characterisation, again, was fantastic! Very emotive and touching, while still being hot and fun.

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Favourite Quote

“He turned to me at one point, holding a pair of carrots for me to inspect. They twined around each other like lovers – had somehow grown that way in the ground. I hid this form the line cooks because I wanted to show you, he said. This is what’s happening to my heart, with you.”

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Reading the Signs

Length: 27-35%

POV: 3rd person, one character

Heat Rating: 🔥🔥

Honestly, you’re probably getting sick of me saying “I love” and gushing over the stories, but damn! For me, reading this as my first ever story by Lowry, I couldn’t have picked a better option. Every story so far is total perfection.

I’m so pleased this story was a fade-to-black because it just…is. That’s what it’s meant to be. Anything overtly sexual would have ruined this sweet, beautiful blossoming romance and taken away from the tentative, anticipatory mood of the moment. The fact that they thought it was their one and only shot to have something with each other just made it so much more emotionally connective that seeing them in bed would have ruined that feeling. Because that’s what this one is about – the emotions.

And, can I just say an amazing well done for the attention to detail, without being excessive, while dealing with the sign language issue? I mean, not only is it awesome to see another diverse character but I was able to follow and understand everything, even though I don’t know sign language and certainly don’t know it in these languages. I never felt out of my depth.

Again – perfect!

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Favourite Quote

““You Americans are much more gregarious than the Dutch. In Holland, offering to spend five hours in a car with someone you barely know is about as serious as asking them to get married.” Theo instantly regretted the comparison. Alfonso was going to think he was some kind of creeper. Theo needed to learn to think first, talk later.

But Alfonso simply shrugged it off. “Don’t worry,” he said, eyes glimmering. “I won’t ask you to marry me until we’ve known each other for at least a year.””

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Part 2: Falling Fantastically

Born of Fire

Length: 35-46%

POV: 3rd person, one character

Heat Rating: 🔥🔥

Exploring the supernatural world of fairies and changelings, this story kept the same because, understated tone of the others in the collection so far. Aodhán is the incredibly strong main character, disabled after his mother mistook a childhood illness as proof that he was a changeling and placed him in the fire to be returned to her. He lives a simple life, respectful and strong willed, never letting his disability hold him back. Cainnech is the ‘man on the moon’ from Dublin; the impossibly beautiful man who he falls in love with. Together, they explore the reality of disfigurement and love at first sight, their connection growing into something sweet and delicate. The fade-to-black was perfectly placed and used, especially since this story is set way back in time to hundreds of years ago.

As a disabled person myself, with limited mobility, I loved and commend Lowry for the way they wrote Aodhán. All too often, disabled characters are labelled as grumpy, depressed or bitter. Aodhán is none of those things; he’s the exact opposite because he’s happy just to be alive. I love seeing that. But I also love and appreciate the way that, when given the opportunity to have his disabilities removed, he jumped for joy and wanted to be more like everyone else, removing the pain and disfigurements that made him feel less than everyone else. Even his pain later, his anger and the fear he held about Cainnech’s reaction were brilliantly written and relateable.

Excellent job!

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Favourite Quote

“Fever makes the fires of love burn hot. I need you to quench them.”

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Ghost of a Chance

Length: 46-55%

POV: 1st person

Heat Rating: 🔥🔥🔥

Okay, that’s it. I throw my hands up. I was absolutely sure that I wouldn’t be able to pick a ‘favourite’ story, because they’re all that good. But…this may be my favourite so far.

I’m a sucker for a good ghost story, especially a romantic one. And, of course, the fact that I cried pretty much says everything about how touching and real and amazing it was. To top it off, I love the 50’s, I love Jewish characters/holidays and I love geeks. So…it pretty much has everything I could want in a story.

Jeremy is adorable. Geeky, introverted but not so much that he doesn’t have any friends, and smart enough to not freak out, to put the pieces together and to think logically when the big revelation comes. And…Gosh…Frank. So 50’s and so dapper and preppy in a good way, so charming and cute and fun. I could go on and on and on. The chemistry these two share is off-the-charts adorable.

The romanticism of their relationship and how slowly and naturally is progresses is perfect. Even the hot moments, which were pretty hot, were just right for the story and the characters. It made sense to have them share that moment with us, to show us what they were capable of and that they could share such a thing with each other.

The ending was perfect and I loved the solution they came up with. It was just…perfect…that’s the only word for it. Through and through, start to finish, perfection.

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Favourite Quote

“I looked up to find him gazing at me. He had this look of wonder no one had ever directed at me before; I had the impression that I was a new star in the sky, seen by a human for the first time.”

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Far From Home

Length: 55-61%

POV: 3rd person, one character

Heat Rating: 🔥🔥🔥🔥

This sci-fi story is the shortest so far, but the hottest. On the surface, it’s all about these two guys separated by a million miles, between Earth and Mars, finally reconnecting through warp-speed communications. But, on a deeper level, there’s this aching, pining need for Rajiv to see Mateo again. Not just in a hologram or visually, but to feel him, smell him and wrap his senses around everything that makes Mateo who he is. It’s…beautiful. There’s no other word for it.

Sad, lovely and heart-breaking in many ways, the ending is perfectly written to show that no matter the adversity, a true love will stretch across any boundary, any distance and still beat with the same strength as if they were right next to each other.

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Favourite Quote

“Mateo smiled “You’re really here with me, aren’t you? I mean, I know I’m on Mars and you’re on Earth, but…” He pressed his hand to the center of Rajiv’s chest, just above his beating heart. “Here.”

Rajiv returned the gesture. His husband’s skin was warm, and he felt Mateo’s heart thumping beneath it. “Always. You’re my home.””

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Sweeter Than Blood

Length: 61-72%

POV: 1st person, present tense

Heat Rating: 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥

Wow! That was one hot little number!

I love that it’s told in 1st so that we get that really visceral connection to Keith. He’s a sweet, if lonely and conflicted, guy and a nearly turned vampire. The struggles he goes through are nicely explained and explored throughout his thoughts and experiences. Most of all, though I wasn’t sure how it was going to end, I really loved his connection and relationship with John. The way it was shown to be both physical, in the past, and still emotionally close, in the present, was great to see. Although Keith was furious with him for what he’d done, they had never turned their backs on one another.

Andres was an interesting character, since he seemed to perfect at first. At the same time, despite this being a world of vampires, the way they interact and the eventual outcome is so realistic. It’s so typical for someone to get in over their head and expect one thing only to get another. But, on the other hand, it’s also part of human nature to see what we want to see and I love how that was explored here.

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Favourite Quote

““I wish you wouldn’t be so cold. We’re in the same boat. Why not be friends instead of just sire and spawn?”

In spite of myself, I give his hand a soft squeeze. “Be patient. After a few hundred years my resentment might fade enough that I can look at you without wanting to punch you in the face.””

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Book 3: Falling Deep

Rough Love

Length: 73-85%

POV: 1st person

Heat Rating: 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥

*fans self*

I’m speechless. That was HAWT! I mean, one-handed-read, get-me-a-cold-shower hot!

Again, we have a really diverse set of characters who challenge all sorts of relationship issues while still managing to share a hot, romantic relationship. The unashamedly sexual Blake is a riot! He’s fun and feisty and it’s really sweet how he tries to give Michael what he deserves in a loving relationship. But it’s also really funny how it backfires! Michael himself is great. A Jewish, mixed-race boy that sets Blake’s nerves on fire, while still being supremely hot and seductive. The chemistry between these two is palpable! Yet the story still manages to challenge the difficulties of ingrained beliefs, religion, race and the idiocy of college boys assuming things because they can’t communicate with each other.

I love that although they don’t talk about it with each other, both characters know themselves and their sexual needs well. Neither are afraid to ask for what they want, once the final confrontation is made, but it’s also sweetly adorable that it takes them so long to reach such a discussion.

Oh, and I’m a huge fan of Drarry, too, so I’m so chuffed to see some Harry-Draco love here.

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Favourite Quote

“Michael was a bit of a genius, and funny to boot. By the time our two hours were up, I was swooning over his brains as much as his butt.”

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Pacific Rimming

Length: 85-98%

POV: 1st person

Heat Rating: 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥

Wow! Again. Not just hot, but profoundly sweet and touching in all the right ways.

Jason, Mike and Ken are all amazingly individual people, with their own quirks and personalities and that really comes across so easily. Ken is the protector, Mike the shy and reserved one while Jason is a little more adventurous. Together, all three had the perfect chemistry.

I loved that Ken was deaf and secure enough not to take offense at Jason’s terrible attempts at ASL. But at the same time, he was happy to help teach him how to improve without being condescending. Mike, as well, as wonderfully open to the fact that Jason wanted to try even if he didn’t succeed. The same could be said for their relationship – they all wanted to put in whatever they could to make it work for the short term, without putting pressure on what it could be in the long term.

Wonderfully sweet, scorching hot and brilliantly done.

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Favourite Quote

“I have heard stranger love stories, but this is my favourite.

It’s ours.”

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OVERALL

What a fantastic collection of stories! And, don’t underestimate that tag in the title. This really is a story about men falling in love. It’s not erotica. It’s not cheap thrills. It’s not even cheesy romance. This is real men, of all different ages, backgrounds and showing a range of diversity in various forms, sharing their stories of romance and love.

Normally, I offer a star rating for each story, but I don’t need to do that here. Every story is 5 star quality. Perfection. Beautiful. Romantic. All of these stories are those things and more. Some made me cry, some made me laugh and you can bet your bottom that I was smiling through almost every one of them. They may tackle tough issues, real challenges that relationships can face, but they do it in a respectful, compassionate way that draws the reader into the story. Because these are feel-good stories of love and overcoming all the odds.

I’ve fallen in love with Dale Cameron Lowry’s writing and I’ll be reading any and every book they ever write.

The characters are diverse, well explored and detailed only enough that it feels comfortably like I know them but without drifting into excessive detail. The stories are sweet, charming and beautiful, because they place the emotional connection of the couples at the very heart of the story and only add the heat when appropriate. And the attention to detail within the worlds – whether it be sci-fi, contemporary or paranormal – is incredible. The authenticity of the characters and their struggles – race, hearing, religion and humanity – make these stories real, relateable and the kind of stories that will stick with you for a long time.

These stories have been crafted with love.

You couldn’t ask for a better collection.

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Falling Hard is currently available through the secure downloading platform PayHip, Amazon, Apple, and other sellers worldwide. You can read a preview and find sales outlets at:

dalecameronlowry.com/books/falling-hard/

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Dale Cameron Lowry

Dale Cameron Lowry lives in the Upper Midwest with a partner and three cats, one of whom enjoys eating dish towels, quilts, and wool socks. It’s up to you to guess whether the fabric eater is one of the cats or the partner. When not busy mending items destroyed by the aforementioned fabric eater, Dale is a writer and editor who enjoys wasting time on Tumblr, listening to podcasts, studying anatomy, getting annoyed at Duolingo, and reading fairy tales. Previous careers include sign language linguist, grocery store clerk, journalist, gardener, and camp counselor.

Dale began writing for fun at the age of eight and has been making up stories ever since, from overly workshopped literary fiction to off-the-cuff fanfic. Queer Mormons have a way of popping up in Dale’s work, whether it’s romance or erotica, sci fi or fairy tales, slice-of-life contemporary fiction or spine-tingling horror. So do immigrants and emigrants, people with disabilities, multilingual folks, and others who live their lives navigating multiple cultures.

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2 thoughts on “Book Exposure: Falling Hard: Stories of Men in Love, by Dale Cameron Lowry

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