REVIEW and GIVEAWAY: The New Normal by L.J. Hayward

The Official Description: Brian Stagliano’s life should be pretty sweet right now. Two of his closest friends are getting married, and he’s taking a new, exciting step in his career as a doctor. Most amazing though, his best mate has been given the all clear from cancer. But Brian’s normal has just been tipped A over T and the friendship he’s relied on for years is in danger. All because of five little words.

Andrew Fitzroy should be on top of the world. The cancer that’s haunted him is gone. He can finally get on with his life—except he doesn’t know what that life is anymore. Is he brave enough to come out as bisexual? Should he pursue architecture or stay in construction? Either way, Andrew knows happiness won’t be his until he has what his engaged friends have—love, joy, passion. So, he says those five little words to Brian—I’m in love with you.

Friends since childhood, Brian and Andrew have always been closer than brothers. Best mates. Nothing could ever tear them apart. Except for those five little words. Now, Brian’s not sure about so many things—their friendship, his own desires—and the foundation Andrew’s built his world on feels like its crumbling. But if they manage not to destroy everything they have together, Andrew and Brian might just find a new normal with each other.

Just the facts: Friends to lovers, exploring sexual identity

This book is a ride through changing feelings and exploring sexual orientation. It’s also about friend through good times and bad. – Kinzie Things

My thoughts bit: Brian Stagliano is a new Doctor and has just been by his best friend’s side through a journey with cancer. Andrew has been through hell and back with cancer. He’s finished chemo and is in the clear. After a few too many drinks one night, he tells Brian that he loves him.

This book seems like it’s a simple premise, but it isn’t really. It’s about change in all its permutations.

Andrew has been through a world of change. His battle with cancer left him with a changed body and depression. It took away his career aspirations and changed a lot for him. What didn’t change was his friendship with Brian. Brian was at Andrew’s side through every horrible step and he’s never been closer to anyone.

When Andrew reveals how he feels about Brian it throws both men for a loop. For the first time in their friendship they aren’t sure how to be themselves around one another. And it’s not just their friendship that suffers. They have a wonderful group of friends and the strangeness between Andrew and Brian seeps into all their relationships.

The other interesting thing in this book is the way that the author gets the character to explore “labels”. As Brian struggles to understand himself and what or who he is attracted to, the frustration is very real. He doesn’t want to be labeled, nor does he want anyone else telling him what “he is”. Speculation about Brian’s sexual orientation becomes a real bone of contention! He’s under a lot of pressure even if it’s perceived rather than real. The author does a great job of exploring how “labels” can make people feel pressured, but at the same time they can make things easier for friends.

Another thing I’d like to say is that Hayward does a fantastic job of moving the plot along and building tension! There were a couple of things that really ratcheted up the tension and meant that I didn’t put the book down for a while!

In short: I really enjoyed this one!

Things You May Want To Know: Please be aware, I’m by no means an expert on what may or may not have the potential to disturb people. I simply list things that I think a reader might want to be aware of. In this book: (SPOILERS) Cancer, body altered because of cancer treatment, homophobia, harassment at work, sexual harassment, hate crime, violence, a sucker punch that results in unconsciousness

To celebrate L.J.’s new release, we are giving away $10 Amazon GC and an e-copy of your choice of one of L.J. Hayward’s back listed books.

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About L.J.:

Hi! I’m L.J. Hayward and I’ll be your author for this biography.

Official Blurb
L.J. Hayward has been telling stories for most of her life, a good deal of them of the tall variety. She loves reading but doesn’t seem to have enough time between wanting to be a more disciplined writer, being the actual erratic writer she is, and working for dollars in a dungeon laboratory. She also lives on the Gold Coast in Queensland, but rarely sees a beach and can’t surf, though she thinks living on a houseboat might be fun. At least then she’d have an excuse to get a cat.

Me Just Rambling & Stuff
I’ve been telling tales (some of them of the tall variety) for most of my life. The first book I ever produced was about Easter, as I recall, and was written in crude pictographs. In my defence, I reckon I was about three. Stapler-binding was the format of choice (way, way before the advent of the e-book). First story with words (and pictures) was about a trip to the moon, in which I included the exhaustive research I did on the matter by saying it took three days to get there. Sadly, the trip was cut short when a puddle of blood (!! – quite gory for its day and age) was discovered on the moon, so the characters had to leave before the murderous aliens found them. Nail bitting stuff!

Beyond that, I don’t recall exactly when I began to think seriously about writing. I always enjoyed a creative writing exercise in high school, but hated scientific writing in university. Not enough room for drama or humour or unicorns. But even before I began writing stories down, I was writing them in my head. Serious writing started around the mid-twenties. Good writing started a couple of years later. Even better writing is still in progress.

As a pathology scientist, blood and medicine is a big part of my life and, naturally, have an influence on my writing. My first book, Blood Work, had its origins in how blood behaves in transfusions (vampires drinking blood is basically a transfusion, right? Right.).

Of course, recently I’ve moved into M/M romantic suspense, with the publication of Where Death Meets the Devil. I’m blaming Manna Francis’s Administration series for hooking me into the wonderfully wide and diverse realm of queer fiction. It’s a genre pool I plan on wallowing in for good long while. 😉

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