Thank you for checking out the cover reveal for The Imperfection of Swans. I can’t tell you how excited I am about this novel. Well, actually, I’m gonna try.
Swans marked several firsts for me.
This was the first book I wrote after ‘retiring’ from fifteen years of teaching special education. My first creation as a full-time author. It was also my first experience with writing about someone I know.
See that gorgeous guy on the cover? Well, a couple of years ago, when I was starting my side photography business, I asked my best friend to model for me. What advertizes your photography skills better than a pretty person, right? I mean, look at him. I could be the worst photographer in the world, and I wouldn’t get a bad shot. The picture you see before you is a photo from that shoot. Ever since I snapped the shutter, that image kept screaming for me to tell its story. And in all honesty, it didn’t need to be told simply because my best friend is so pretty. Kevin is also amazing, interesting, and complex. I about died when he gave me permission to use his life as inspiration for this novel.
You see, Kevin is one of the most driven and successful businessmen that I know. A businessman who dreams of owning a wedding dress shop. A beautiful man who has struggled with an eating disorder for much of his life. A vivacious man from a lively Italian family. While the story is fiction, my friend let me pour aspects of his life out in these pages.
The scene I’m giving you is the prologue, and the only flashback scene of the book. While there is much humor and a ridiculous amount of love in this story of a man who decides to risk it all for his dreams, I wanted to give you taste of some of the demons Kevin will have to face to earn his happily ever after and part of the reason he loves wedding gowns to such an extent.
Thank you so much for taking the time to check out The Imperfection of Swans, which will be released on January 18. There is a pre-order link on this blog as well. I can’t wait for you all to love Kevin as much as I do!
Kevin Bivanti’s dream is to open a wedding dress shop, a place with the stunning gowns to make every bride-to-be feel adored. At thirty-eight, he quits a successful advertising career to buy an old brownstone in a trendy Boston neighborhood and to make his dream a reality. When one of his cosigners drops out, fate intervenes, ushering in Casper James, who hopes to open his own bakery. With Casper willing to take the risk, their ambitions meld into a wedding dress and wedding cake boutique.
Extensive renovations to the brownstone, an affair with his ex-husband, family drama with his mothers, and the anxiety of significant life changes push Kevin to the brink of a nervous breakdown. In the midst of stress and uncertainty, Casper becomes more than a business partner, a mutual attraction that adds another layer of intensity and risk.
With their dreams on the verge of reality, Kevin and Casper must find the courage to face the stress of managing their attraction, the gamble of a new business venture, and the resurgence of Kevin’s personal demons.
AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER FROM
RELEASED JANUARY 18th, 2016
The Imperfection of Swans
Twenty-six years ago
The hunger didn’t hurt.
Actually, it did a little. His stomach cramped. His head seemed to spin every so often. His hands trembled, a touch. Those were okay, not too big a deal. More than anything, the hunger felt safe, strong. It felt powerful. Kevin felt powerful.
Kevin Bivanti hadn’t eaten in three days. There had been a saltine the evening before, and though a twinge of guilt tugged at him about the indulgence, the cracker had been mostly air. That shouldn’t matter, should it? He thought the three days still counted. A saltine wasn’t food, not when you only had one.
With his schedule, between getting up before the sun for the paper route, and the alternating events after school of student council, play rehearsal, and choir practice, it was easy to convince his moms that he’d eaten elsewhere. That one of the teachers brought snacks, or he’d stopped by a friend’s house to help with homework and eaten with their family.
While a matter of pride to brag to his seventh-grade friends at lunch that he’d not eaten in days, that he was above such trivial needs, he couldn’t let his moms know. Kevin would rush through the door in the evening, kiss them both hello, and shut himself in his room, ready to face the hours of homework. If only that were an excuse too. He had friends who claimed to be studying in their rooms but were really playing on Game Boys, sneaking out to meet friends, or simply avoiding the work to be done. Not him. Hours upon hours he worked every night. Never taking a break or slipping up, not like he had with the saltine. There was no room for a slipup. He’d worked too hard, and he was not going to fail.
Times like this were the only thing in his way, and the realization made them so much worse. Time wasted as he curled up on the floor beside his bed, his arms wrapped around his knees, struggling to breathe. So much time just trying to pull oxygen into his lungs. Papers to be written as he lay shaking, thinking he was going to die, waiting for that last breath to refuse to enter his body. Twenty-five blank pre-algebra problems taunting him while he lost his mind.
That was the worst part.
Much worse than thinking he was dying.
He’d been in this position so many times over the past year and a half that some part of his brain knew he wouldn’t die. That he would arrive on the other side and still be there, the work waiting. But he wouldn’t be able to do it. At least at some point, he wouldn’t be able to do it.
He was going crazy.
After one of these attacks, he knew he wouldn’t come out of his curled-up position. His body might, but his brain, the stuff that made him Kevin, would remain in a tight ball, shaking on the floor, trapped in panic, forever.
Sometimes, during the worst moments, Kevin would manage to call out. Either a cry of fear or yell for one of them. They would hear, rush into his room, and soothe him. His moms gently caressed his back and hair, whispering calming words, even as he could hear fear seeping into their voices. They knew he was going insane. He knew they did.
And he couldn’t stop it.
This night, even as he lay in the claws of terror, Kevin knew this was one of the better nights. He wouldn’t need to call them, wouldn’t need to let them see yet another example of his failure. If he could just stretch out his hand the few feet and pull his salvation from under the bed.
After two attempts to drag in more oxygen, Kevin gave up on breathing and managed to throw a trembling hand toward the magazines that lay a million miles away.
He didn’t realize he’d taken ahold of them until they were mere inches from his face.
As the bedside lamp caught their glossy covers, a small molecule of oxygen found its way inside, giving Kevin enough strength to flip the magazine open, taking advantage of the salvation inside.
With each turn of the page, Kevin’s heart rate slowed. The shaking gradually stilled as one gorgeous white gown gave way to the next.
Muscles released their cramping and progressively loosened as the tips of Kevin’s fingers traced the intricate patterns in the lace.
Tears dried on his cheeks, and the corner of his lips gradually turned up at the peaceful, happy expressions of the beautiful brides.
Breathing slowly returned to an automatic function with every passing page of flawless bridal photos. Each one soothingly perfect. The lines of the dresses artful yet purposeful. The beautiful structure of the white gowns both hypnotizing and inspiring.
Within fifteen minutes, Kevin had once again taken his place at his desk, the bridal magazines captivating and healing him enough to stave off the insanity for a while longer.
A few more pages and he’d be able to return to his work. Return to his goal. But for now, he’d found strength enough in tulle, brocade patterns, and silk.
Brandon Witt resides in Denver, Colorado. When not snuggled on the couch with his two Corgis, Dunkyn and Dolan, he is more than likely in front of his computer, nose inches from the screen, fingers pounding they keys. When he manages to tear himself away from his writing addiction, he passionately take on the role of a special education teacher during the daylight hours.