Guest post by Alisha Costanzo, author of Loving Red. Check out the excerpt for the book below!
Writing in the male perspective is akin to freedom. And although I love to write empowered women in their various levels or snark, sarcasm, stubbornness, sweetness, and strength, something about slipping into a male’s persona liberates me. Granted, most of the time, I find it easier.
No. This isn’t because I believe males are less complex than females. In general terms, we’re much the same. But I’ve always fancied male friends over females ones, listening to them fight over videogames, tease each other, argue with no fallout, and bond without the need to shop for shoes, talk about the opposite sex (although that can happen with men as much as with women), gush about their feelings, or manipulate for their own gains.
Okay, I know, it seems like I’m giving women a bad name here. I’m not. I’m a feminist with all of those negative connotations attached. I don’t hate men, and I don’t hate women. I merely think more like a man.
In fact, I’ve taken the gender personality test, which my husband gave me in his first years as a Psychology major, and I came out close to 50-50 on the scale—a half of a point leaning towards male rather than female.
And don’t get me wrong. I can be a damn girl sometimes, too. Just throw a spider at me. I squeal and jump and climb on chairs until someone else comes to kill it or put it outside. I like shoes and purses, although I never wear heels and I hate to carry a purse. Go figure. I love being a wife and taking care of my husband. I love to cook for him—most days. I’m motherly toward my students, calling them my kids, giving them advice, and most times, merely listening when they need to talk.
But man, I love the power of being a male on the page. This started with my alternate personas online, via facebook roleplaying. I knew how to be tough and dirty, how to flatter a woman properly, how to flirt and be perverse without overstepping my bounds, how to show just enough sensitivity and pain that women would fall for me. And I wasn’t a slut or a whore or trying too hard. Even when I was all of those things.
Again, I don’t believe males and females are all that different from one another. How can we be? We’re all human. Yes, yes. The hormones. Blah. So I become a bitch every once in a while. Men can be assholes. What’s your point?
Okay, maybe I need to reign in my own point here.
Stereotypes and sexism still affect us. (No, I won’t get on a rant about this; you’re safe to keep reading). So being a male is liberating. I love being a romantic goofball without being needy. Although men, you can be damn needy, too (*coughs and whispers my husband’s name*). I love swearing like a sailor, having tattoos, doing the heavy lifting, grossing people out, and being the real pervert that I am, and not only being found attractive for it, but being the ideal male.
But the best part is my ability to show how a man can be more than what the media portrays him as—more than a set of six-pack abs, bulging arms, scruff, and testosterone. Instead I show men as geeks and goobers, who want to be held, and have fears. They can be melodramatic, lonely, and just as good of a caretaker as a woman. They don’t have to be knights in shining armor. Instead, they’re free to be partners.
Boden and Eilion, two of my fae, have quickly become favorites of mine for their inability to hide their emotions, to run when they’re outmatched, and for breaking the stereotypes. Since I love them, why wouldn’t I love writing in their perspectives?
About Loving Red
For Sergeant Severins Bouvier, silence means tactical planning and a large death toll, and he can’t shake how danger threatens him on the beaches of Miami, especially after seeing one of his associates in a local sandwich shop. Worse, the enemy seems fascinated with the woman he can’t stop thinking about—a woman determined not to trust him.
Everything about Sev crashes through Kaia’s carefully placed boundaries, traps, and avoidances. Regardless of her lack of interest in the majority of men, the ones that did catch her off guard left a lot of collateral damage. Who better than a soldier to understand that?
The problem is that she trusts him. Just not with her heart.
Amazon—N/A (I will have this for you before September 9, 2015)
Sach met them on the small porch with a .22 rifle pointed at the woods behind him, likely loaded with silver and cold iron since no bullets existed to kill vampires, but a well-placed shot would slow one down. Kaia moved fast and disappeared inside in under a minute. Thank the Gods she took direction well. When a soldier didn’t learn to obey, they tended to die.
Lacey trotted out of the trees and up to the porch, changing into her dark almond form and trailing her hands over Sach’s front as she rounded him. She peered over his shoulder to meet Severins’ gaze. “One fell into a trap, and the others ran off scared. She won’t get out anytime soon, so when you’re ready for her…”
Her hand dipped down between Sach’s legs, and he grunted. Lacey had a reputation for sexual aggression after her transformations, especially when she fought. “Wake Dylan to take your watch.”
He merely nodded to her, and she sauntered back into the woods.
“Looks like you need clothes.”
“I could do with that.”
Sach nodded inside, and Severins followed, walking into the cabin he knew too well to see Kaia sitting in front of the glowing coals in the fireplace. The way she looked him over gave him a charge, and he worked hard to control himself. She turned away with blush on her cheeks and neck, shoving an aroused growl through his chest.
But Severins tailed Sach into the single bedroom, where he gained a new Army issued uniform with jacket and boots included to dress in.
“Probably sick of that, but it’s what we’ve got to fit you. Surplus store in town.”
Sach moved over to Dylan and whacked him with a rolled up newspaper. His brother sat up swinging, a full snarl on his mouth. “Go take watch.”
“I just got to sleep.”
“Argue with Lace about it.”
Grumbling loudly, Dylan rolled out of bed and dressed, grabbing his gun and punching Severins in the shoulder on his way out. Nabbing the thick brush on the low dresser, Severins followed him, pushing him along when he stopped to whistle at Kaia.
“Don’t try me, cuz.”
“Just appreciating your taste.”
Kaia sent him the same man-killing look Severins earned when he first asked her to dinner, and Severins laughed at its effectiveness. Her gaze warmed as she took in his uniform, a tiny smile lifted her lips when he neared her. “You’re right, you do look good in uniform.”
He tossed the jacket and brush on the couch and sank down next to her. “Keeping warm?”
“Yeah. I’m recovering. Do we know anything?”
The skin of her cheek was soft under his thumb. “Not a lot. We’ve caught someone and need to interrogate her.”
“Her?” Kaia’s pulse skipped into high gear.
“So I’ve been told.”
“They won’t torture her, will they?” Fear and concern leaned her into him, and he wrapped her up in his arms.
“No. We won’t hurt her unless she makes us.”
Nodding, she stroked his chest and sank into his embrace, and he traced the bumps of her spine through her sweatshirt. When her shoulders dropped from her ears, Severins shifted her in his lap and reached for the brush. “Let me brush your hair. It’ll help you feel a bit more normal.”
“That would be nice.” Hugging her knees, she shook her hair out, trusting him not to hurt her. He’d learned the tricks to tangles when his daughter was three and her soft curls got long enough to knot together. Kaia’s hair was windblown but not terribly knotted, and Severins brushed out the ends, collecting it all in his hand before working up to her scalp. She sighed when he finished, running her hands through it and shaking it around before she looked over her shoulder at him. “Thank you.”
Leaning forward, he grabbed her around the waist and pulled her back against him. His nose sank to her neck behind her ear, taking in the intoxicating spicy and citrus scent of her. “You’re welcome, beautiful. Why don’t you make yourself at home and take a nap on the couch. You didn’t get much rest when we stopped the last time.”
The sound of her soft laughter eased his mind and tightened his body. “You must be a kind, gentle, and doting father, the way you’re taking care of me.”
Grinning against her throat, he said, “The way I want to take care of you has nothing to do with my capabilities as a father, I promise you that.” Teeth at her skin, he gave her a sharp enough nip to make her shiver.
“Well, your capabilities as a father might just make you more attractive.”
His bites followed the curve up her neck. “Is that right?”
Hand lifted to trace his jaw, her fingers found his high and tight again, and she sighed. “When you’re out, will you grow your hair or leave it like this?”
A snort burst from him. “Well, I used to have long hair, so I’m sure I can manage to keep it at an easy, hair-pulling length.”
A wide grin lit up her face, and she turned against him, those delicate fingers brushing over his brow, and she looked him over. Tension filled the gap between them, and she closed it, pressing her mouth over his with such a sweet and innocent kiss that pieces of him broke and reformed, making him the man he needed to be to love her right when the time came.
Severins held onto her tightly, wishing they weren’t on the run, that he didn’t have to worry about her safety, and that he could woo her the right way with romantic nights and silly mornings of laughter and playfulness. She deserved nothing less. Yet here they were, hidden away in his cousins’ cabin in the Alabama boonies, trying to outrun a pack of Celampresians and in search of her ex—the man who broke her heart. The man they both protected. Was he running head first into the most stupid mistake he’d ever make?
About the Author
Alisha Costanzo is from a Syracuse suburb. She earned her MFA in creative writing from the University of Central Oklahoma, where she currently teaches English. She’s the author of BLOOD PHOENIX: REBIRTH and BLOOD PHOENIX: CLAIMED, and co-editor of DISTORTED. UNDERWATER, her new anthology, is undergoing serious edits for its 2016 release. In the meantime, she will continue to corrupt young minds, rant about the government, and daydream about her all around nasty creatures.
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