Brendan Thackeray-Prentiss is an Ivy League-educated trust-funder who Gotham Magazine named the most eligible gay bachelor in New York City. He lives for finding his soulmate, but after walking in on his boyfriend of three transcendent months soaping up in the shower with an older female publicist, he’s on a steady diet of scotch, benzodiazepines, and compulsive yoga. Men are completely off the menu.
Callisthenes Panagopoulos has a problem most guys dream of. With the body and face of a European soccer heartthrob, the vigorous blond hair of a Mormon missionary, and a smile that makes traffic cops stuff their ticket books back in their utility belts, he’s irresistible to everyone. But being a constant guy-magnet comes with its discontents, like an ex-boyfriend who tried to drive his Smart car through Cal’s front door. It makes him wonder if he’s been cursed when it comes to love.
When Brendan and Cal meet, the attraction is meteoric, and they go from date to mates at the speed of time-lapse photography. But to stay together, they’ll have to overcome Cal’s jealous BFF, Romanian mobsters, hermit widowers, and a dictatorship on the brink of revolution during a dream wedding in the Greek isles that becomes a madcap odyssey.
A gay romantic comedy of errors based on Chariton’s Callirhoe, the world’s oldest extant romance novel.
|Publisher:||NineStar Press, LLC|
|Product dimensions:||5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.68(d)|
Read an Excerpt
BRENDAN THACKERAY-PRENTISS was not interested in finding a boyfriend.
He reminded himself of this whenever he passed by an attractive young man on the Upper East Side streets, or when this or that friend took to social media to proclaim a change in their relationship status, or when he clicked through an especially earnest e-mail driving for donations to help gay couples maintain their legal status in the Deep South Bible Belt, and most of all when people asked him, "How is it possible the most eligible gay bachelor in New York City is still single?"
Brendan had made a vow, and it had received the endorsement of his therapist, Dr. Clotilde Trapp. He was taking time off from sex and dating in order to clear his head, and to renew, and to rise up from the ashes like a phoenix, if he wanted to be dramatic about it, which he truly had earned the right to be.
Thiago, a model and an erstwhile compulsory homosexual, had thoroughly shattered Brendan's belief he knew anything about love. After three full months of practically living together — including traveling together to St. Barts for the most we-belong-together weekend ever experienced by two sexually attracted, socially, intellectually, politically and morally compatible people in the universe — the fantasy had dissolved to black and been unveiled as a waking terror when Brendan returned to his apartment one afternoon and walked in on Thiago and a fortysomething, obscenely nippled fashion publicist in the shower. Thiago's only words — "You can join us if you want."
Brendan was on a detox from the gays (and those who styled themselves as "gay-adjacent") for at least thirty days. His hookup and dating media had been deactivated. His libido had been psychically stowed up in bubble wrap and locked away in storage. No flirting with the coffee shop barista when he purchased his daily macchiato. Eyes on his own business in the locker room at the tennis and racquet club. No "what-if" conversations with himself about a new guy in the neighborhood who kept the same schedule for picking up his groceries. Brendan was entirely committed to an asexual lifestyle, drawing on the same well of discipline that had seen him through his presummer purge of sugar, bread, and alcohol.
That was until he opened the tinkling bell door of The Golden Fleece Antiques and Curio Shop on Lexington Avenue, and a young man at the cashier's desk looked up at him with the buoyancy of a hand-raised golden retriever.
"Hi!" the clerk said.
He had a preternaturally handsome face of Mediterranean origins and the vigorous, cherubic hair of a Mormon missionary. He wore a teal, graphic T-shirt, which augmented the stunning aquamarine color of his eyes. The T-shirt rode up his upper arms, which were well defined like an Olympic diver or a god of Mount Olympus for that matter. The shirt was emblazoned with a triple-scoop ice cream cone and a question: "Want a lick?"
Brendan's mouth hung open. He couldn't produce a word or even budge. Helpfully, the shop clerk didn't act like he was a mentally impaired patient run free of his caretakers.
"Sorry to startle you. I guess I overdid it with the welcome. I haven't had a customer all morning. Take a look around and don't mind me. Or go ahead and mind me if you need any help."
Brendan smiled, nodded, and took a stumbling step toward the nearest display of bric-a-brac.
The shop felt like a cage in which he'd been ensnared. Brendan tried to fix his attention on the chintz teacup sets and art deco tumblers, but his awareness of the clerk was too much. Was he supposed to pretend he wasn't sharing the same space with the most deathly adorable creature he had ever seen in his entire life? Brendan's heartbeat accelerated to the range of near cardiac arrest, and he was reasonably sure he was sweating through the armpits of his burgundy gingham shirt.
He drifted discreetly behind a shelf of African fetishes to consider his options. He could make a sprint for the door and fast-track down the street, never to step within ten blocks of the shop, praying to never run into the clerk again. The alternative was to have to face that otherworldly, beautiful man as a garbling, awestruck lunatic.
Brendan clamped down on his panic. He was twenty-eight years old, far removed from his scarring teenage years at boarding school, charting out routes through campus to avoid running into his torturous crush — Jacob Chandler, captain of the lacrosse team, who used to punch his shoulder and call him "Brendawg," which sent him into a withering, red-faced fits of aphasia. Brendan now held his own with men. He had no reason to feel inferior. He kept his body in shape. He wasn't too modest to acknowledge his WASPy good looks claimed attention at times. Gotham Magazine had named him the most eligible gay bachelor of 2018.
For all he knew, the clerk was one of those oblivious heterosexual types who didn't notice when other men took an interest in them. It made no difference anyway. Brendan had sworn off sex and dating. Even if the clerk was amused or offended by his shrinking, girlish behavior, they were nothing but passing strangers.
A reasonable plan came together. Brendan would grab the first thing in reach, pay for it at the counter, and exit the store with the dignity of having conducted himself like a normal customer.
"Looking for anything in particular?"
Brendan seized up like a jailbird caught in searchlights. That friendly, innocent voice. A hint of a lazy, Upstate accent? A cool wash of awareness passed over Brendan. Was he really plotting schemes to rush out on a stranger whose shop he'd entered quite willfully? Brendan came around the shelf, holding it together for the moment.
"My grandmother's birthday," he said. "She collects cameos. I've been buying them for her since I was a kid." Brendan tried something breezy. "I saw the name of your store and thought I might be in luck."
The clerk set down a leather-bound book he'd been reading. "We're Greek, but we don't have any cameos that old. I mean, the store's Greek. My uncle owns it. My great-uncle actually. I'm only half Greek. The other side's Polish and German. But we do have some Victorian cameos in the cabinet." He stood up from his chair and waved Brendan over to a glass-enclosed jewelry case.
Ornamental pins and pendants swam in Brendan's vision. His gaze bobbed stubbornly up to the clerk on the other side of the cabinet. He was as adorable as a puppy. Barely out of college, Brendan guessed. Was he a cuddly puppy in bed? Christ. Brendan's imagination had burst free from its hinges, and he couldn't stop himself from stealing glances at the clerk. His pectorals filling out his T-shirt. The golden hairs on his anatomically perfect forearms. The flecks of sun on his long, broad nose. His supple, berry-brown lips. "Want a lick?" Yes, please. At the crook of the clerk's neck, and his armpit, and his nipples, and every blessed place between his legs. A smoldering image blew up in Brendan's mind's eye. The clerk's mouth opening wide to swathe his tongue around a triple-scoop ice cream cone.
"I'll show you what we've got."
Brendan buried his gaze in the floor while the clerk unlocked the cabinet. A blush seared his face. He felt like a pervert and never more happily so.
The clerk brought out a double cameo silver hair comb and two cameo brooches and set them neatly on the glass counter. Brendan awakened to the world of the antique shop. Grandmum's birthday. Focus Brendan. He looked over the jewelry. A gold-framed brooch with a cherub carved on its oval plaque caught his eye. His grandmother had an extensive collection of ladies' silhouettes. The cherub was special.
"I like that one too," the clerk said, looking from the brooch to Brendan with a grin.
"It's gorgeous," Brendan said.
"Is your grandmother romantic?"
Brendan smirked. "I suppose. She's been married three times."
"It's Eros. The god of love. That's why I asked."
Was there a defensive tone in the clerk's voice? Had Brendan been too brusque? The thought of hurting his feelings shamed him. "It's really exceptional," he said.
"She's lucky to have a grandson like you."
Brendan shifted this way and that like a bashful boy.
"I mean, a lot of people, when their grandparents get old, they hardly pay any attention to them at all." The clerk said it like he was sharing shocking news from an investigative report. So sweet and unpretentious. Brendan's insides turned to goo.
He came back together. "Oh. My grandmother and I are very close. She practically raised me. I'm closer to her than my mother and father."
Their glances met for a breath and then darted away.
"You know, you're a really sweet guy," the clerk said.
Brendan ventured a glance at him. "You barely know me."
"I think you are. I mean, how many guys take off from work in the middle of the day to buy birthday presents for their grandmother?" The clerk tucked his hands into the pockets of his jeans and rocked back on his heels. His face darkened, and he looked askance with a self-reproachful snigger. "I shouldn't have said that. Probably made you uncomfortable. Never mind me. I'm always going on too much, talking to the customers."
Brendan shook his head. "I don't mind at all."
"So what'll it be? Is that the one?" he asked, giving Brendan a playful shrug of his blond eyebrows.
The clerk grinned. "I'll get it wrapped up for you."
Brendan followed him to the cashier counter, where he brought out tissue paper and cellophane tape. With the impending termination of their transaction, a sorrowful ache worked through Brendan. His glance pivoted around. It was only lust. In which he was not permitted to indulge. But what if the clerk was "the one" he was meant to be with? What if fate had conspired to introduce him to his soul mate while he'd marked off a blackout period in his dating life? He had to take these things into consideration.
He noticed the leather-bound journal on the counter. Lettres de Jean-Arthur Rimbaud. The clerk was reading love poems by the most notorious, iconic homosexual who had ever lived? This was encouraging.
"You like Rimbaud?" Brendan asked.
The clerk looked up from his wrapping. "Yeah. I thought I'd try to read his work in the original French this summer."
"I minored in French literature," Brendan blurted out.
This earned him a smile of gleaming, white teeth. "I was a classical studies major."
"I minored in that too." Brendan tried to explain without sounding pretentious or mentally unbalanced. "I was an English major, but I couldn't really decide what I wanted to do. I ended up triple minoring in French lit, classical studies, and art history. With a certificate in dramaturgy."
"That's amazing. What do you do now?"
"Um, my family has a business. It's not anything related to my degree."
"What kind of business?"
This was always the hard part to broach with new acquaintances. Brendan usually made up something about the freight industry, which was reliably dull enough to scare away follow-up questions. It was terribly awkward to introduce himself as a trust-fund brat with a token job in his family's multibillion-dollar, international shipping company. But Brendan felt horrible about lying to him.
"Have you heard of Thackeray Worldwide Enterprises?"
"No. What's that?"
"It's a company my great-great-grandfather founded. We ship things around the world."
"Wow. That's great. I mean, you must get to travel to a lot of interesting places."
Brendan's glance slid away. "Um, sometimes."
The clerk laughed nervously. "I'm sorry. That was a really boneheaded thing to say. I don't imagine you go traveling around the world with the packages."
Brendan snorted mildly. "It's not such a glamorous business. Nothing most people have any interest in knowing about."
"Hey, my name's Cal." The clerk reached out his hand. "That's short for Callisthenes. From the Greek side of the family. I guess that's pretty obvs."
Brendan shook his hand, firmly like a regular guy. "I'm Brendan." The warm contact of their hands had his knees weakening. He couldn't think of what to say next. He couldn't even disentangle himself from the handshake.
"Nice to meet you, Brendan."
"Nice to meet you too." Brendan released the poor guy's hand. Damn, was he far gone. Forgetting how to do a normal handshake? He truly had regressed to adolescence. He'd happily stand there all day just to bask in Cal's aura. What was he to do when he finished paying? Brendan had to come up with something so he could see Cal again.
Cal finished taping the gift and brought out a shopping bag from beneath the counter. "Almost done here." He added with a touch of self-recrimination, "Probably would have helped if I'd told you the price first."
Brendan took out his leather wallet from the pocket of his chinos. "How much is it?"
"That one's three-hundred fifty."
Brendan scrounged out his credit card and handed it to him. "I see why you're called the Golden Fleece."
"Let the buyer beware," Cal said with a smirk.
They smiled at each other while Cal held Brendan's credit card. The last grains of sand were slipping through the hourglass. Brendan hoisted up some courage.
"Would you like to get together sometime?"
Cal grinned big. "What did you have in mind?"
Brendan shifted his weight. "I don't know. This might be a stab in the dark, but I'm thinking you like ice cream."
"I do." Cal glanced down at his shirt. "That's, like, uncanny you'd say that."
"Have you been to Frozen Zachary's?"
Brendan mugged woefully. "It's only the best ice cream in Manhattan. If not the world. Right in the neighborhood here. Third Avenue and Seventy-Ninth."
"I just moved to the city two weeks ago," Cal said. "I'm still finding my way around." He swiped Brendan's credit card, and a receipt churned out from the machine.
"Where are you from originally?"
"Upstate," Cal said. "Have you heard of Syracuse?"
Brendan nodded. "Sure."
Cal handed him the receipt and a pen. "I'm just here for the summer, watching the shop while my uncle is visiting family in Greece."
Brendan quickly signed the receipt. "Then you have to let me take you to Frozen Zachary's. It's a once-in-a-lifetime New York experience."
"Once in a lifetime, huh? Then I guess I'd be crazy to refuse."
Brendan lit up like a high-voltage light bulb. He had a date with the hottest and nicest guy in the world. They tapped each other's numbers into their cell phones and made plans to meet at the ice cream parlor the following night.CHAPTER 2
LATER THAT EVENING, Callisthenes Panagopoulos met his roommate and best friend, Derek Foster, for a free, outdoor screening of the Mae West film I'm No Angel. The Bryant Park film festival of Hollywood classics was one item on a long list of things Cal had researched for them to do that summer. They only had twelve weeks in New York City, and Cal was determined to get as much out of the experience as possible. Derek had a seasonal job at a booth for discount theater tickets while Cal tended his uncle's antiques shop. Their paychecks had to go almost entirely to the rent of their one-bedroom, sublet apartment, but Cal had found a treasure trove of free entertainment in the city.
The small urban park was overfilled with picnicking families and couples. Cal scanned through the crowd and spotted a spare spot centrally located for viewing. It looked like a tight fit, but when he led Derek across the lawn to claim it, some very nice ladies with shellacked helmets of hair and Broadway T-shirts looked up at Cal and quickly shrugged back their blanket to make space. A pair of older gentlemen stared at him dreamily and scooted back in their lawn chairs so Cal would have some room in their direction as well.
Cal unrolled a tatami mat from his college backpack, and he and Derek seated themselves hip to hip. Cal unpacked two fried egg sandwiches and a sixteen-ounce can of Budweiser, which he portioned into paper coffee cups liberated from a nearby deli. They chomped on their sandwiches as the opening credits blared from the giant screen.
Mae West had always been a campy curiosity to Cal, but he found his attention drifting away from the film. Was the guy he met in the store earlier that day for real? It felt like it had been a dream. He wasn't supposed to be fishing for dates while he was working, but he hadn't been able to stop himself. Brendan was gorgeous and smart and really sweet and considerate, and he knew about Arthur Rimbaud, and he'd minored in classical studies. He was a native New Yorker, which made him something like five thousand times more interesting and worldly than anyone Cal had met before. And like a total airhead, Cal had asked him if he did a lot of traveling, working in the shipping business, as if he freighted the goods across the Atlantic himself. Brendan probably had some high-powered executive job. Cal winced, thinking about how dumb he'd acted.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Irresistible"
Copyright © 2018 Andrew J. Peters.
Excerpted by permission of NineStar Press, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Every once in awhile my habit of not reading blurbs means I find something wholly unexpected, and Andrew J. Peters' book Irresistible is definitely one of those times. What starts out as a lovely little summer romance quickly turns into a 'what-the-heck' is going on here situation. It's silly and campy and corny and wonderful. Everything these two go through to get their happily ever after had me chuckling and seriously questioning what on earth this author was doing here (like, is he serious?). Ha, well yes, in a way he is. In the Author's Note at the end of the book Mr. Peters explains how he's drawn from an ancient novel [Callirhoe by Chariton of Aphrodisias] to bring the story into the modern age, and adapted the characters for an MM romance. When Mr. Peters very eloquently explains how he's drawn from that story to write Irresistible it made me appreciate this novel even more. My first experience with the writing of Andrew J. Peters, I was repeatedly delighted by the unique and creative way he phrases things. The details and explanations behind the characters' actions is charming and makes for a refreshing change from the status quo in romance novels. I'm looking forward to reading more by this talented author.
3.5 stars- I’ve neither read this author’s work nor the ancient Greek work Irresistible is based upon, but the blurb sounded fun and I’m always up for a good romantic comedy. Admittedly, I didn’t know quite what to make of the writing style and pacing at first. This was insta-love magnified, and it was more than a little jarring when combined with a quick, sometimes scattered narrative. However, once I adapted and recognized that the erratic and rushed rhythm was the point, it was easier to embrace this story where pretty much anything goes. Despite having a fast-traced relationship, I did like Cal and Brendan together. At times they were overly sweet, but it worked well in this story. Although I would have liked more relationship and character development, it was cute to see two people unlucky in love find their person and hold onto each other NO MATTER what comes their way…because it’s a lot. The plot of Irresistible takes full advantage of readers suspending their disbelief and after I settled in, I have to admit the book’s eccentric characters and outrageous storyline is a lot of fun. I still don’t know that I’d wholly consider it a standard romantic comedy, but I did chuckle at the absurdity sometimes and I’d guess comedy is really the only way to classify this high energy, slightly crazy romance. If you’re in the mood for something totally different but still with an air of romance, Irresistible most certainly fits the bill. *eARC received via Netgalley. The author and publisher had no influence over this review*