Today we’re happy to welcome back author Joe Cosentino to share with us his new series Cozzi Cove. The first book, Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back, is out now from NineStar Press. Learn more about what inspired Joe to write this series and see our thoughts on the first installment. Enjoy!
The start of a new MM romance series
COZZI COVE: BOUNCING BACK, a novel published by NineStar Press
by Joe Cosentino
Okay, so we’re all feeling claustrophobic, overworked, and generally cranky from the winter. Like a rainbow in the sky (no pun intended), I’m here to remind everyone that summer is just around the corner. To that end I’ve written the first book in a new MM romance beach series, COZZI COVE: BOUNCING BACK published by NineStar Press.
Last summer I was vacationing with my spouse on the New Jersey shore and it hit me like a ton of seaweed. I imagined this little beach town, built by Calvin Cozzi I with eight bungalows on a private cove called Cozzi Cove. Upon inheriting Cozzi Cove from his father, Calvin Cozzi II sensed his son’s sexual orientation and rented the bungalows each summer to men like his son. As Calvin Cozzi III (Cal) inherits Cozzi Cove, my series begins.
Cozzi is a quaint beach town with the main beach, bay, miniature golf course, trampoline emporium, salt water taffy shop, local bar, and a sumptuous seafood restaurant. Each bungalow at Cozzi Cove is furnished with hand-carved nautical furnishings, and has a stunning view of the bay and lighthouse in the distance.
Don’t you just get lost in that book cover? That’s exactly as I picture the cove. A cove is formed when softer rocks are worn away by the sun and salty water faster than the harder rocks surrounding them. This creates a gorgeous bay of turquoise water shielded by large rocks in the distance and smaller rocks near the water’s edge. It is amazingly beautiful, and I love sharing that view in the book.
My leading character is Cal Cozzi. Cal, short for Calvin, is thirty years old, tall, and muscular. His Italian and Scottish heritage left him with striking auburn hair and a strong nose. He dabbled as a professional football player then restaurant owner, but neither was a good fit. After Cal’s parents died in an automobile accident, he found his calling: managing Cozzi Cove.
Cal shares Cozzi Cove with a number of regulars and a large group of guests in intercut stories. Lance is twenty-four, short, stocky, African American with dark hair and dark eyes and amazing dimples. He grew up poor, and worked hard getting scholarships and maintaining good grades throughout school. As a second grade teacher, Lance is off during the summers, his favorite time of year. This leaves him more time to do what he loves most: being with Cal for the last five years.
Connor, the college student assisting Cal in running Cozzi Cove, is packed with muscles and hormones. He revels in Cozzi Cove, and in checking out each resident for a possible fling on the cove.
Tommy, the bald, muscular, tattooed resident of Cozzi Cove who owns the local bar has held a torch for Cal since high school. Carla Mangione who runs Carla’s Seafood Restaurant holds a similar torch for Cal’s sister.
Cal’s sister, Taylor, drops in from Rome, Paris, Wall Street, or Palm Springs. As a tough as nails top one-percenter, the world revolves around her, which makes her hysterically funny.
The guests are quite an eclectic group. After my two Bittersweet Dreams novellas, An Infatuation and A Shooting Star (In My Heart Series) published by Dreamspinner Press, were released, countless readers begged me for more time with one of the characters from An Infatuation (Divine Magazine Readers’ Choice Award 2nd Place for Best MM Romance). So that character and his brother are the first guests at Cozzi Cove.
So the vacationers are two brothers/college students who look alike, but couldn’t be more different. Mario is searching for love, and Harold is searching for lust. A wealthy older couple, Josh and Greg, play matchmakers for their gorgeous son Christopher. Opposites attract as multifaceted Tim meets shy Mark, and porn star Chuck Caliber connects with Sean, a virgin romance novelist. Finally computer game designer Arthur has a midnight sea rendezvous with a merman. Even Cal faces an emotional upheaval when a gay bashing turns into something quite unexpected for him.
The novel is full of humor, tragedy, mystery, and romance. Everyone has a secret at Cozzi Cove. However, nothing is what it seems at the magical place called Cozzi Cove.
The second book, COZZI COVE: MOVING FORWARD, is set for release by NineStar Press on April 18. Move over Melrose Place, I can also see COZZI COVE as a television series. Make me an offer, producers!
So grab your Speedos, suntan lotion, and shades, and head to Cozzi Cove. A bungalow and a beach towel are waiting for you!
ABOUT THE BOOK:
Mario and Harold are brothers and college students who happen to look alike, but couldn’t be more different: Mario is searching for love, and Harold is searching for lust. Josh and Greg, a wealthy older couple, are matchmakers for their son, Christopher.
When it comes to Connor, the maid, packed with muscles and a roving sponge, anything can happen. Opposites attract as wild Tim with the secret past meets shy Mark, and porn star Chuck Caliber connects with Sean, a virgin romance novelist.
And what will happen when computer-game designer Arthur has a midnight sea rendezvous with a merman? Even married Cal faces an emotional upheaval when a gay bashing turns into something quite unexpected.
What secrets and passions lie in magical Cozzi Cove?
As Lance rested in bed and Cal was putting on jeans, sandals, and a canary polo shirt, they heard Connor enter the living room and call out to Cal. After giving Lance a kiss on the cheek, Cal begrudgingly left his lover, shut the front bedroom door after himself, and then met up with Connor, who was standing next to the living room sofa.
Connor said, “It’s good to be back at work.”
“How were your grades at college this year?”
Connor shrugged his muscular shoulders. “Pretty average.”
Cal thought, If average is getting Cs and Ds. “I’m guessing you were quite involved with extracurricular activities.”
“One or two.” He giggled. “Maybe, three.”
Cal had a soft spot for the kid. “You did a nice job preparing the bungalows yesterday.”
“I aim to please.”
Cal thought the nineteen-year-old looked like an American flag in cutoff blue jeans that matched his eyes, a T-shirt and sneakers that matched his red hair, and pale skin with freckles.
“How can I be of service to you today, boss?”
Cal ignored Connor’s obvious double meaning.
“Just the usual routine.” Cal wasn’t immune to Connor’s charm, but Connor was a kid, and Cal was a one-man man. “Carry their luggage into the bungalows when the guests arrive. Turn down beds at four p.m.” He attempted to look sternly at the boy. “… Without you in them.”
“Me come on to a guest?” Connor feigned surprise.
“Yes, you, Connor. This is a vacation resort, not the baths.” Cal moved behind his desk. “After today, make up the rooms late mornings and early afternoons. Leave the sheets and towels in front of the garage for the laundry pickup. And don’t forget to sweep out the parking area.”
Connor saluted. “Aye, aye, Capitán .”
They heard a knock at the front door. Cal shouted, “It’s open.”
“Is this the office?”
“We’re informal here,” Cal explained. He typed into his computer, and then motioned for the young man to join him.
“I’m Mario Ginnetti.” He placed a piece of luggage at his feet. “Is it okay to park in the lot?”
Connor seemed to nearly salivate at Mario’s arms in his violet short-sleeved shirt. “You can park anywhere you like.”
Ignoring Connor, Cal said, “Yes, that’s the lot for the bungalows.” Cal handed Mario a key. “You’re in Bungalow One. I’ve got your credit card, so you’re all set.” He took a map from the topmost desk drawer. “The ocean beach is open to the public and is only minutes away. You can swim, surf, snorkel, or go on a glass-bottom boat there.” He pointed to various black dots on the map. “You’ll want to get some groceries here. Tommy Malone’s is a good bar, and Carla’s is my favorite seafood restaurant. This place has killer ice cream, which you can work off here at the gym.”
Connor interjected with, “If you need help finding anything, just ask me. I’m a native.”
“Or you can come into the office and ask me.” Cal handed Mario the map and then pointed outside. “The cove is private property. You can sit out there all you like. The bay water is calm and warm. As you can see, the view is amazing.”
Connor added with a grin, “Nude sunbathing is permitted.”
Mario was visibly trying to take it all in.
“Any questions?” asked Cal.
Mario’s dimples appeared. “Will the weather always be this nice?”
“From your lips to the sea gods’ ears.” Cal smiled. “The weather report calls for rain, so that means it’s going to be sunny all week. Connor will take you to your bungalow.”
Connor looked like the wolf meeting Little Red Riding Hood as he took Mario’s luggage. “Follow me, Mario.”
At risk of dating myself, Cozzi Cove reminds me a little bit of Fantasy Island – a colorful cast of characters all looking for a little escape from reality in paradise. Cozzi Cove’s coastal views and serene setting certainly provide the backdrop for a refreshing getaway, and at first glance all indeed seems to be cozy. It’s not until we get to know the guests and staff that we realize paradise isn’t always what it appears to be.
Cosentino tells the stories of the guests and owners at Cozzi Cove as separate yet intertwining stories, a delivery style that’s genius. It’s a bit like watching segments unfold in soap opera fashion. Each plot gets its due focus with Cosentino always keeping the overall arc in view, making it simple for readers to see how each piece fits into the larger puzzle. I’ll admit at first I had some difficulty keeping track of who was in which bungalow, but don’t get discouraged – as you get to know each guest better, it becomes easier to remember who’s behind Door #3.
While the story is rife with the humor and lighthearted romance I’ve come to associate with Joe Cosentino, it also addresses several serious topics associated with the gay community: homophobia, stereotyping and coming out. I appreciate the way Cosentino pokes fun at social issues and stigmas through lighthearted exchanges. For example, in one scene a couple staying at Cozzi Cove console one another over the fact that their son might be straight. They worry he’ll be shunned and they’ll be ostracized by their friends. It’s dialogue like this that plainly demonstrates how ridiculous those attitudes are in the first place.
I’m already looking forward to what’s coming next to Cozzi Cove – gI have a feeling it’s much more than meets the eye. Book two is already on the horizon, and I know I’ll be back to visit.
RATING: BAD ASS BOOTS
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Amazon Bestselling author Joe Cosentino wrote Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back (NineStar Press), Drama Queen and Drama Muscle Nicky and Noah mysteries (Lethe Press), An Infatuation, A Shooting Star, A Home for the Holidays, The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland(Dreamspinner Press), Paper Doll (Whiskey Creek Press) and Porcelain Doll (Wild Rose Press) Jana Lane mysteries, and The Nutcracker and the Mouse King (Eldridge Plays and Musicals). He has appeared in principal acting roles in film, television, and theatre, opposite stars such as Bruce Willis, Rosie O’Donnell, Nathan Lane, Holland Taylor, and Jason Robards. His one-act plays, Infatuation and Neighbor, were performed in New York City. He wrote The Perils of Pauline educational film (Prentice Hall Publishers). Joe is currently Head of the Department/Professor at a college in upstate New York, and is happily married. His upcoming novels are Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward (Nine Star Press), Drama Cruise Nicky and Noah mystery (Lethe Press), and Satin Doll and China Doll Jana Lane mysteries (Wild Rose Press). Joe was voted 2nd Place for Best MM Author of the Year in Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Awards for 2015!
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