Division I college football coach Peyton Stone has a secret. It’s not so much that he’s gay. It’s that he’s fallen in love with his older Iraq-War-vet-turned-starting-QB Brady Winter. Willing to deny himself for the sake of the Golden Eagles football team, Peyton focuses helping his team score touchdowns, but when he discovers the attraction is mutual, he jumps in with both feet.
For each, the stakes are high: bowls, limelight, press, and the NFL. But Peyton and Brady find time during the season to carve out their own private and sexy refuge. Only jealous whispers force the head coach to see what he didn’t want to see and he tears the two apart. It’s only when Brady’s war injuries threaten his health that Peyton reluctantly returns to the team — under cover! The two concoct a plan to pass off Peyton as Brady at the bowl game, thereby preserving Brady’s health and perhaps earning a national championship. Will anyone notice the difference? Does anyone really want to? Most of all, can the pair’s sense of honor outlast the deception?
The most unusual novel I’ve read this month! If I could use one word to describe all of the characters in this novel it would be, unapologetic. Every single character is self-absorbed. They each have their motives for what they do, how they are, how they speak, and how they act. Some of the behavior is rather appalling. There’s misogyny, homophobia, heterophobia, and self-loathing sprinkled throughout the different personalities. They’re all interesting and bring a bit of realism to Peyton’s story.
Peyton isn’t much. Yes, he isn’t much. A former football player that let his first love (or more like infatuation) pretty much ruin his chance of playing professional football. A closet case and kind of spineless. Peyton comes across as self-absorbed as the rest, but once you really get into the story you realize he’s just lost. Not only lost, but a big oaf of a guy that just wants to live his life as a gay, poetry fanatic, football player. He became quite endearing as the story progressed.
He also desperately wants the quarterback.
As offensive coach, he shouldn’t fraternize with a player. He knows he’s doing everything wrong, as he always does, yet he just can help himself. That’s how Peyton loses his job but gains a boyfriend, Brady. The starting quarterback!
Things with Brady spiral out of control as Brady is sideline with a potentially life threatening injury and they decide to masquerade Peyton for Brady. It helps that they look so much alike. Which should be creepy but really, it’s just part of all the wheels and cogs necessary to make this harebrained idea plausible.
The story ends perfectly because in life not all things work out. Someone has to lose something for someone else to be the winner. Right as Peyton and Brady are getting in deeper in the charade, there’s a big shift. It’s no longer what Peyton wants but what Brady needs. Peyton finally figures it all out and that’s what made the journey through this story worthwhile.
A truly unique football story. I loved the play on the two lead protagonists names. I could totally appreciate the irony of the name choices. Sadly, I feel that this story is kind of true representation of society today. The younger kids, heck even the older generation like Hackett, are all just in it for themselves for their own goal for their own victory for their own fulfillment.
Today we’re thrilled to host Joe Cosentino on 3 Chicks After Dark to talk about his latest Nicky & Noah Mystery, Drama Muscle, from Lethe Press. Joe’s here to share why he wrote these stories and to offer an amazing giveaway – be sure to enter for your chance to win. Thanks for joining us and welcome, Joe!
WHY I WROTE THE NICKY AND NOAH MYSTERIES Book Two: Drama Muscle, published by Lethe Press by Joe Cosentino
Don’t you love this site? The 3 Chicks are the best! They asked me to tell you why I wrote my latest novel, Drama Muscle, the second Nicky and Noah mystery. Okay, I’ll be honest here. I have always been fascinated with bodybuilders. Not only for the obvious reason (their muscles!). Honestly, the concept of eating protein every two hours, lifting weights for three hours a day, shaving every body part, spray tanning, and posing in tiny gold trunks is amazing to me. What dedication! When I tried it, I saw very little results—except a frozen shoulder and pulled lower back. You have to admire these people who have so many muscles they don’t even need to iron their shirts! When watching a bodybuilding competition on television (I admit it), I quickly noticed the link between bodybuilding and theatre. Given my background as an actor and college theatre professor, I realized the second Nicky and Noah mystery would take place in the Bodybuilding Department at Treemeadow College.
If you haven’t read Drama Queen (you should!), the Nicky and Noah mysteries are set in an Edwardian style university founded originally by a gay couple (Tree and Meadow) whose name the university bears: Treemeadow College. It is a gay cozy mystery comedy series, meaning the setting is warm and cozy, the clues and murders (and laughs) come fast and furious, there are enough plot twists and turns and a surprise ending to keep the pages turning, and at the center is a touching gay romance between Associate Professor of Directing Nicky Abbondanza and Assistant Professor of Acting Noah Oliver. Along the way, Nicky and Noah fall in love, as I’ve heard the readers fall in love with them. Like an Agatha Christie novel, the mystery is the central focus with red herrings and inversions leading to a satisfying conclusion. As in an Armistead Maupin novel, the characters are wacky, surprising, and endearing.
In each book Nicky and Noah eavesdrop, seduce, role play, and finally trap the murderer, as pandemonium, hilarity, and true love ensue for a happily ever after ending—until the next book. Reviewers called Drama Queen “hysterically funny farce,” “Murder She Wrote meets Hart to Hart meets The Hardy Boys,” “a captivating whodunit,” and “the funniest book of the year!” Who am I to argue?
In Drama Queen college theatre professors were dropping like stage curtains and amateur sleuths/college theatre professors Nicky and Noah had to use their theatre skills, including impersonating other people, to figure out whodunit. When the ebook reached #18 on the Amazon bestsellers list in its category and the paperback and audiobook (with all twenty-four roles played by Michael Gilboe) sold like tickets to Wicked after the Tony Awards, it was time for another Nicky and Noah mystery.
In the current novel, Drama Muscle, Nicky and Noah don their gay Holmes and Watson personas again to find out who is murdering musclemen in the Physical Education Department. In the novel Nicky is directing bodybuilding students in Treemeadow College’s annual Bodybuilding competition on campus. Bodybuilding students and faculty drop faster than barbells until Nicky figures out the identity of the murderer, as well as Noah’s secret revolving around Van Granite, one of the bodybuilding professors. Noah’s hysterically funny parents visit from Wisconsin and are drawn into the action, and Nicky and Noah reach a milestone by the end of the novel. I’ll never tell. You have to read the novel.
As a college professor/department head, I have always been aware that colleges are rife with mystery, romance, and humor. It is my joy and pleasure to share these stories with you. So take your front row seat. The curtain is going up on young bodybuilders at Treemeadow College. Lights (and weights) up! And let me know what you think at http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com. Let’s pump up!
ABOUT THE BOOK:
It could be lights out for college theatre professor Nicky Abbondanza. With dead bodybuilders popping up on campus, Nicky, and his favorite colleague/life partner Noah Oliver, must use their drama skills to figure out who is taking down pumped up musclemen in the Physical Education building before it is curtain down for Nicky and Noah. Complicating matters is a visit from Noah’s parents from Wisconsin, and Nicky’s suspicion that Noah may be hiding more than a cut, smooth body.
You will be applauding and shouting Bravo for Joe Cosentino’s fast-paced, side-splittingly funny, edge-of-your-seat entertaining second novel in this delightful series. Curtain up and weights up!
Noah opened his mouth to say something, but Rodney Towers interrupted. “Professor, I was thinking about what Professor Abbondanza mentioned.”
Noah sighed. “Which of the numerous things said by Professor Abbondanza are you referring to, Rodney?”
“The thing about Zeus and Ganymede getting it on.” Rodney looked as if someone had held his nose and poured vinegar into his mouth.
Noah tried to speak again, and Maria Ruiz (our Athena) interrupted. “Homophobe anyone?” Maria stood nose to nose with Rodney. “What’s wrong with you, Rodney?” She pointed to the twins at the other end of the line. “Tim and Kim are playing Hercules and Adonis. Everyone knows they were a couple. You don’t hear them complaining.”
“Um now that you like mention it, Kim would rather, you know, play another part,” said Tim.
“Um so would Tim,” added Kim.
Posed with their hands on their hips, the twins looked like an advertisement for The King and I in double vision.
Let me explain. Kim and Tim Sim (Try saying that three times fast), as identical twins, can read each other’s minds. I could never read my brother’s mind when we were kids. That’s why I had to read his diary, listen in on his phone conversations, and bug his book bag.
The muscles on Rodney’s massive back curled as if snarling. “Let me make myself clear, Maria. I’m not happy playing Zeus, because I don’t want any part of an unnatural lifestyle.”
Maria shot him dagger eyes. “And pumping iron three hours a day and spray-painting our bodies is natural?”
“Maria knows all about being natural. Don’t you, Maria?” said compact Jonathan Toner (Achilles) with a smirk on his pimply face.
“Shut up, Jonathan,” replied Maria as if swatting a pesky fly.
Rodney said to his workout partner, “Maria, don’t rag on me because I believe in the Bible.”
“Then you better get to work in the fields, ’cause you’re a slave, honey,” Maria answered with a wave of her muscular arm and snap of her strong fingers.
“Kiss my muscular black ass.”
“Kiss my muscular Latina ass.”
Noah said, like a referee at an A.D.D. Little League game, “Okay, let’s talk about your character, Maria. Athena was the goddess of wisdom, courage, and justice. As you think about your poses—”
“Try to incorporate those feelings into your performance,” I said.
“Right,” Noah added with narrowed eyes in my direction.
I mimed buttoning my lips and rested my back against the wall.
Noah continued, “And Jonathan, Achilles was shot in the heel, the only weak part of his body.”
“Hence the term ‘Achilles heel,’” I added, then placed my hand over my big mouth.
Jonathan flexed his small, high-peaked biceps. “There’s no part of me that’s weak.”
“Except your brain,” said Maria.
Waving his stubby finger under her square jaw, Jonathan said, “Careful, Maria. You don’t want to piss me off.”
Like a substitute teacher on the last day of school, Noah tried to keep control. Noticing Mack Heath (Ganymede) standing quietly, Noah said, “Let’s talk about Mack’s character.”
Middle weight, fair, perfectly proportioned, and amazingly cut, Mack said, “Didn’t Ganymede represent youth and beauty?”
“Correct!” I said then covered my mouth with both hands.
Jillian Flowers (our Aphrodite), a raving blonde beauty, gazed at Mack with lust in her violet eyes. “You um totally are like Ganymede, Mack.”
Mack’s cheeks grew flushed. “Thanks.”
“For what?” Jillian asked.
“You just said I’m like Ganymede.”
Jillian said, “Um isn’t that like who you are, you know, playing?”
Poor Jillian. Last year, while working out, a barbell accidentally fell on Jillian’s head, leaving her with poor short-term memory.
“Let’s talk about your character, Jillian,” said Noah, clearly hoping to get things back on track. “Aphrodite is the goddess of beauty—”
“And love,” I added, then hid my face underneath my blazer.
Jillian batted her long lashes at Mack, then rested her strong hand on his mountainous shoulder. “Did um Aphrodite and Ganymede ever like, you know, hook up?”
“No, they didn’t, Jillian.” Mack slid his shoulder out of her clutches.
“Who didn’t what?” asked Jillian in confusion.
“Aphrodite and Ganymede were never a couple,” Mack explained, then walked away.
Jillian responded, “Who said they were?”
“Tim is like getting, you know, bored,” said Kim.
“Kim um wants to like get back to, you know, rehearsing,” added Tim.
Having lost his patience, Jonathan walked past each of his classmates with a smirk on his pockmarked face, like a carnival sharpshooter wiping out a row of rubber duckies. “Jillian, Mack isn’t into you. Mack isn’t into anybody, except Mack. Tim and Kim, you don’t need this competition. Stay home and wait for Daddy Big Bucks Sim to kick the chop suey. Maria, you don’t want to tick me off, and you know why. Rodney, join the twentieth century.”
Thank you to Joe Cosentino for sharing Nicky and Noah with us – we’ve been lucky to have the opportunity to review his books. Rarely do you find a writer with delivery quite like Joe’s, and I’m here to tell you it’s perfect for readers like me who don’t like to take anything – even romance – too seriously. Joe injects humor into every situation; I couldn’t make it through much of this one with a straight face. Only a lover of mysteries could piece together a plot like this, interjecting a perfect balance of humor and romance into a continuously twisting plot. Nicky and Noah just seem to make everything a little more interesting.
Drama Muscle is yet another whodunit adventure for this creative couple, continuing their stint as makeshift detectives while teaching at Treemeadow College. Just like last time, Nicky and Noah are up to their necks in drama and danger – as the people around them begin dropping like flies, it seems no one is safe. Pay attention to Nicky’s distracted obsessions – at first I thought one in particular was just a little side plot, but it was really a creative foreshadowing of the solution to the murders. Just one of the many ways Cosentino will keep you entertained and guessing until the very end.
RATING: BAD ASS BOOTS!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Amazon Bestselling author Joe Cosentino wrote 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), Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back (Nine Star 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 Drama Cruise Nicky and Noah mystery (Lethe Press), Satin Doll and China Doll Jana Lane mysteries (Wild Rose Press), and Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward (Nine Star Press).
3 Chicks also wants to extend a special congratulations to Joe Cosentino for winning Best Contemporary Novel, Best Mystery Novel, Best Crime Novel, and Best Humorous Novel of 2015 for DRAMA QUEEN, the first Nicky and Noah mystery published by Lethe Press, in the Divine Magazine Readers’ Poll Awards!
Post a comment below about why you like to read mysteries. The one that tickles our whodunit bone the most will receive a code for a gift audiobook of DRAMA QUEEN, the first Nicky and Noah mystery by Joe Cosentino (performed by Michael Gilboe, published by Lethe Press) from the author.
Release Date: June 6, 2015 Published by Lethe Press Review Copy from Author
ABOUT THE BOOK:
It could be curtains for college theatre professor Nicky Abbondanza. With dead bodies popping up all over campus, Nicky must use his drama skills to figure out who is playing the role of murderer before it is lights out for Nicky and his colleagues. Complicating matters is Nicky’s huge crush on Noah Oliver, a gorgeous assistant professor in his department, who may or may not be involved with a cocky graduate assistant…and is also the top suspect for the murders! You will be applauding and shouting Bravo for Joe Cosentino’s fast-paced, side-splittingly funny, edge-of-your-seat, delightfully entertaining novel. Curtain up!
In a crafty whodunit where everyone’s a suspect, Joe Cosentino leads us on a dramatic chase for answers. The setup is brilliant and the execution of the mystery plot is flawless. The delivery from Nicky’s point of view is perfect for the story, giving an almost stream of consciousness feel. I especially enjoy the way Cosentino works in Nicky’s inner thoughts adding a lot of levity in an otherwise tragic and suspenseful situation.
The first victim of the crime is none other than a widely disliked, loudmouth professor in the theater department. His tragic demise is untimely, leaving motive and opportunity for so many characters. I love a story of this nature and how it keeps you analyzing and guessing throughout as you try to piece together the puzzle and discover exactly what happened. Cosentino masterfully reveals his clues while twisting things just enough to maintain the element of surprise. It seems no one is safe as suddenly members of the Treemeadow theater faculty begin dropping like flies.
If I had to choose, I’d say my favorite scene is from the department meeting right after the first faculty member is killed. The combination of acting talents present in that room loans itself to a very entertaining scene where most are trying to feign sadness over his passing. Trying to discern the genuine feelings from the theatrical performances is a lot of fun, and I think exemplifies the playful nature of this murder mystery quite well. I look forward to reading the next Nicky and Noah mystery!
RATING: BAD ASS BOOTS!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Joe Cosentino is the author of An Infatuation (Dreamspinner Press), Paper Doll the first Jana Lane mystery (Whiskey Creek Press), 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 Drama Muscle the second Nicky and Noah mystery (Lethe Press), A Shooting Star (Dreamspinner Press novella), A Home for the Holidays (Dreamspinner Press holiday novella), and Porcelain Doll the second Jana Lane mystery.