An Interview with Connor O’Riley, a character in
COZZI COVE: MOVING FORWARD by Joe Cosentino, book 2 in the Cozzi beach series, published by NineStar Press
I have in the tearoom with me today Connor O’Riley, a character in Joe Cosentino’s second Cozzi Cove beach novel, Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward.
This is the first time I’ve been in a tearoom standing up.
Hm. Since the readers can’t see you, how about you tell them what you look like, Connor.
I’m twenty, a college student, tall, with curly ginger hair, crystal-blue eyes, light skin, freckles, and muscles from working out at the gym in Cozzi.
A lot of guys like ginger hair.
And I like a lot of guys.
What’s your major at college?
What do you do at Cozzi Cove?
A better question would be who do I do, and the answer is, as many guys as possible without getting fired.
Fired? You mean hot?
No, I mean fired. I’m the maid at Cozzi Cove and the owner, Cal Cozzi, threatened to terminate me if he catches me in the cove with one more guest.
Has that stopped you?
Not so far.
I didn’t think so. Tell us about your boss, Cal Cozzi.
He’s really old, thirty-one. But he’s still in great shape. That’s him on the left of the cover.
Another redhead. I think I like Cozzi Cove. Tell us more about Cal.
After college Cal dabbled as a professional football player then restaurant owner, but neither was a good fit. After his parents died in an automobile accident, Cal found his calling, managing Cozzi Cove.
What is Cozzi Cove?
Cozzi is a New Jersey shore town named after Cal’s great-grandfather who built eight bungalows on a private cove called Cozzi Cove. He also made every stick of furniture in each bungalow by hand—each with a nautical theme. Each bungalow has an amazing view of the bay and lighthouse in the distance. The main beach and boardwalk are only a mile away. It’s a very romantic place.
What’s a cove?
The bungalows on Cozzi Cove are set on a stretch of cove formed when softer rocks were worn away by the sun and salty water faster than the harder rocks surrounding them. This created a gorgeous bay of turquoise water shielded by large rocks in the distance and smaller rocks near the water’s edge. I’ve as they say, spilled a little seed there quite often.
How did Joe Cosentino think you up?
Joe told me I’m a combination of a few guys he knew as an actor.
And how did Joe come up with Cozzi Cove?
Joe’s family vacationed every summer at his aunt and uncle’s bungalow on the New Jersey Shore. He has terrific memories of swimming and making sandcastles at the beach, wading in the bay, playing miniature golf, eating salt water taffy, jumping up and down on trampolines, and eating at his family’s favorite seafood restaurant. All of those places are in the fictitious place Joe calls Cozzi Cove. That’s my home.
You were in book one of the Cozzi Cove series too. How was Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back, received?
They liked us. They really liked us.
After Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back released, many readers and reviewers praised its romantic, humorous, dramatic, mysterious style, and interwoven captivating stories. For example, TBR Pile wrote, “I loved this story. It carries you through the full range of emotions, from joy to sadness, from happiness to anger. The characters are beautifully written.” “I look forward to a return visit to the Cove.” So Joe wrote Cozzi Cove: Moving Froward. As with the first book, romance is everywhere on Cozzi Cove in book two, and nothing is what it seems.
Besides you and Cal, who are the other characters in both books?
Cal’s boyfriend Michael is on the right side of the cover. Michael works for Cal’s old friend Tommy Malone, a bald, muscular, tattooed resident of Cozzi Cove who owns the local bar and has a crush on Cal. Carla Mangione runs Carla’s Seafood Restaurant. She hold a torch for my sister Taylor who drops in from Rome, Paris, Wall Street, or Palm Springs in each book. As a tough as nails top one-percenter, the world revolves around Taylor, which makes her hysterically funny.
Like in book one, book two is made up of interwoven stories about Cal, you, and the guests in the seven bungalows. Who are the guests this time out?
In this novel Rodney Maxwell and Dennis O’Halloran are a Tony Award winning actor and his estranged producer/husband with their two hired bodybuilder studs, Jarek and Zeus. Rodney and Dennis’ theatrical bantering makes me laugh. Jarek and Zeus make me drool into my mop bucket. Speaking of drooling, there’s also Michael’s muscular study buddy from college, Carlo from Italy. And there’s a new man of mystery, handsome George Valis, who seems captivated with Cal. And computer analyst, Sam, enlists his best friend Chase in a scheme to attract Sam’s hunky, unsuspecting best friend, Raul. Hunter, a female gay romance novel enthusiast, wants to experience gay life off the page. And finally Gil Van Truren tries to end it all—until he sees a vision of his studly first love from college. And wow is it some vision!
What secrets, humor, tragedy, mysteries, and passions lie in the magical place called Cozzi Cove this summer?
You’ll have to read the book to find out.
What is the moral of the story?
Take a chance on love.
Did Joe pattern Cal after himself and Taylor after his sister?
A few traits here and there, but Joe and Cal are very different, though Joe’s sister is opinionated like Taylor.
Cal and Michael go through a rough patch as their relationship continues in this book from book 1, and Cal makes a personal shocking discovery.
That’s Cozzi Cove, just when you think you’ve figured it out, there’s a game changer.
Will there be more Cozzi Cove novels?
Joe is writing the third book now. Good thing. Otherwise I would get bored just taking up space in Joe’s brain.
Do you see Cozzi Cove as a movie or television series?
Joe wants to play Gil.
Who do you see playing you?
There’s nobody like me.
Maybe our readers can help. There are also a number of love scenes in the books, including a really hot scene for you. How did readers respond to those?
So far so good.
Tell us about Joe’s other gay romance releases.
An Infatuation and A Shooting Star (In My Heart bittersweet dreams novellas) published by Dreamspinner Press are loosely based on Joe’s high school and college years respectively. They were so popular as individual e-books, Dreamspinner Press published them together in one paperback. Joe still receives comments from readers that those stories made them laugh, cry, feel romantic, and changed their lives. An Infatuation won Second Place in Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Poll Award for Best Romance of 2015. A Home for the Holidays is Joe’s popular holiday short novella from Dreamspinner Press about an American law student who, as Joe did, takes a trip to the romantic and gorgeous island of Capri, Italy, where he embarks on a relationship with his captivating third cousin. The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland from Dreamspinner Press is Joe’s gay take on my favorite beloved fairytales like Cinderella, Goldie Locks and the Three Bears, Pinocchio, Jack and the Beanstalk, and The Snow Queen.
Joe also has two mystery series as well.
Joe’s Nicky and Noah mystery series from Lethe Press are farcical, gay, cozy, who-dun-its. In Drama Queen theatre college professors are dropping like stage curtains. With the inept local detective more interested in getting into Nicky’s pants than solving the murders, it is up to well-endowed Directing professor, Nicky Abbondanza to use his theatre skills (including playing other people) to solve the case, while he directs a murder mystery onstage. Complicating matters is Nicky’s intense crush on Assistant Professor of Acting, gorgeous Noah Oliver, the prime suspect in the murder. Drama Queen (Divine Magazine’s Readers Poll Award for Best Mystery, Best Crime, Best Contemporary, and Best Humorous Novel of 2015) is available as an ebook, paperback, and audiobook performed by Michael Gilboe. It is often on Amazon’s bestseller’s list in its category. In Drama Muscle Nicky and Noah have to use their theatre skills to find out why musclemen are dropping like weights in the Physical Education department while Nicky directs the Student Bodybuilding Competition. In Drama Cruise (releasing soon), Nicky and Noah go on a cruise to Alaska, and discover why college theatre professors are going overboard like lifeboats while Nicky directs a murder mystery dinner theatre show onboard ship.
In the Jana Lane mysteries, with straight leading characters and gay supporting characters, Jana Lane was the biggest child star ever until she was attacked on the studio lot at eighteen years old. In Paper Doll Jana at thirty-eight lives with her family in a mansion in picturesque Hudson Valley, New York. Her flashbacks from the past become murder attempts in her future. Forced to summon up the lost courage she had as a child, Jana ventures back to Hollywood, which helps her uncover a web of secrets about everyone she loves. She also embarks on a romance with the devilishly handsome son of her old producer, Rocco Cavoto. In Porcelain Doll (The Wild Rose Press), Jana makes a comeback film and uncovers who is being murdered on the set and why. Her heart is set aflutter by her incredibly gorgeous co-star, Jason Apollo. In Satin Doll (The Wild Rose Press), Jana and family head to Washington, DC, where Jana plays a US senator in a new film, and becomes embroiled in a murder and corruption at the senate chamber. She also embarks on a romance with Chris Bruno, the muscular detective. In China Doll (releasing late May from The Wild Rose Press), Jana heads to New York City to star in a Broadway play, enchanted by her gorgeous co-star Peter Stevens, and faced with murder on stage and off. Since the novels take place in the 1980’s, Jana’s best friends are gay, and Jana is somewhat of a gay activist, the AIDS epidemic is a large part of the novels.
But I’m not in any of those books.
But you are in Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back and Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward. Besides reading the Cozzi Cove novels, how can readers connect with you?
Joe loves hearing from readers. They can contact him at: http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com. He’ll tell me what they said. He tells me everything. And I in turn tell him things to write in the Cozzi Cove novels. Sometimes I make him laugh, cry, or blush. So everybody grab your Speedos, suntan lotion, and shades and head back to Cozzi Cove. Cal’s welcome mat is out for you. I hope to see you on the cove!
Publisher: Nine Star Press
Cover Design: Arai Tan
Length: 60,000 words
Release date: April 18, 2016
On Cozzi Cove at the New Jersey Shore, handsome Cal Cozzi’s seven bungalows are once again open for summer and love. The vacationers include Rodney Maxwell and Dennis O’Halloran, a Tony Award winning actor and his estranged producer/husband with their two hired studs, Jarek and Zeus. Computer analyst Sam enlists his best friend Chase in a scheme to attract hunky Raul. Middle aged Gil Van Truren wants to end it all—until he sees a vision of his first love. Cal also has his hands full with college student Michael—his new young lover—Michael’s study buddy Carlo, man of mystery George Valis, and Connor, the houseboy packed with muscles and a wondering sponge. All the while Hunter, a female gay romance novel enthusiast, experiences gay life off the page. What secrets, humor, tragedy, mysteries, and passions lie in the magical place called Cozzi Cove?
Cal Cozzi sat on the white sandy beach like a king on his throne. The thirty-one-year-old thought about his great-grandfather, Calvin Cozzi III, who had built the eight bungalows, seven of which Cal’s father, Calvin Cozzi II, had rented to guys like Cal when Cal was a boy. With both men long gone, Cozzi Cove was Cal’s heritage, lifeblood, and oasis. As he gazed out at the ancient lighthouse near the horizon, Cal filled his lungs with salty sea air. He was happy to be home.
A familiar yawn and warm breath on his neck caused Cal to turn around and throw his arms around the stocky young man who plopped down next to him. Over a decade younger than Cal, Michael Rodgers rubbed his fingers over dark eyes. Resting his head with its chestnut-colored locks on Cal’s chest, Michael said, “I missed waking up in your arms.”
They shared a long kiss and then rose and stood at the water’s edge, watching the seagulls fly across shades of amber, violet, and flame that were fading to reveal a bright-blue sky. With Cal’s Italian and Scottish heritage and Michael’s Swedish and African lineage, Cal thought their skin glistened in the sun like jewels.
Shorter than Cal, Michael licked Cal’s neck.
“Hey, stop licking. I don’t have any pets.”
“You do now.”
Cal took the boy in his arms and smothered his youthful face with kisses. Though Cal would never forget Lance, the soul mate he’d lost to cancer two years prior, he couldn’t escape the fact that he was growing more and more in love with Michael every day they lived together. Michael’s high-energy zest for life and brutal honesty in speaking his mind both infuriated and delighted Cal. And Cal was well aware that his straightforward, hardworking masculinity still made Michael weak at the knees after living together in the main bungalow for nearly a year.
“Let’s get some breakfast.” Cal ran his fingers through Michael’s curly hair.
Michael kneaded the muscles in Cal’s back. “What are we having?”
“I’m having the honey buckwheat pancakes I made. What are you having?” Cal slapped Michael’s firm buttocks playfully, and then ran away as Michael chased him, laughing.
As they headed for the main bungalow, Cal scanned the row of seven guest bungalows on the cove. Cozzi Cove itself was a quiet stretch of beach with waves tickling jagged rocks perched on white sand only a mile away from the open ocean. Though he was excited about the start of the summer rental season, Cal knew he’d miss the tranquility of having the cove to himself—with Michael.
Michael followed Cal into the kitchen. As Cal gazed at the lantern-shaped kitchen clock on the wall, he admired his grandfather’s taste in decorating all of the bungalows with wood-carved, nautical-themed furnishings.
Sitting at the table, Michael said, “When do the guests arrive?”
“Check-in starts at eleven a.m.”
Michael giggled. “Do I have to check in?”
Cal kissed the top of his head. “Yeah, into my bedroom.” He served the pancakes and orange juice before sitting next to Michael. “What time do you have to leave for school?”
Michael answered with his mouth full. “College! I’m taking a summer class at State, not going to morning kindergarten. I’m a junior.”
“Very funny. In the fall I’ll be a senior, like you.” He kissed Cal’s wide nose.
“Hey, your lips are covered in honey.”
“So they tell me.” Michael continued eating.
“Does your study buddy tell you that?”
Michael raised his eyes to the mermaid-shaped lighting fixture as if gathering patience. “Carlo is my partner.”
“In my advanced photography class.”
“Is that what they call it at State?”
“Maybe in your day.” Michael’s eyes gleamed devilishly. “Hey, did they have college back then?”
“I’ll put you over my knee, young man.”
“Promises, promises.” Michael swallowed his last piece of pancake and then gulped down the rest of his orange juice. “Carlo is coming here before our class. We’re taking some shots of the cove.”
Cal felt his expression harden. “I thought you were going to mow the lawn, rake the pebbles, and hose down the sidewalk around the bungalows.”
“Done.” Michael put his plate, glass, and fork in the sink.
“Last night, when you were in the shower.”
“That’s why you didn’t come in with me.”
Michael wrapped his arms around Cal. “Can I take a rain check for tonight?”
“Maybe you should ask Carlo.”
“Carlo doesn’t shower. He takes baths.”
Cal did a double take. “And you know this how?”
“He told me.” Michael ran into the back bedroom, the home of his computer and photography equipment.
Cal felt his blood boil. Taking in some deep breaths, he told himself to calm down.
Michael came back holding a number of prints and placed them on the kitchen table. “What do you think?”
Cal looked down at photographs. “Nice composition, proportions, and shading.”
He pointed at the dark-haired, dark-eyed, olive-skinned, very muscular young man with a stoic Roman nose, dimples like craters, and a cleft chin like the San Andreas Fault. “Your professor brought in an Italian porn star?”
“Watch many Italian porn films, do you, Cal?”
“Obviously you don’t have to.”
“That’s Carlo. I took them in class.”
Cal offered a weak smile, trying hard not to let the anger and jealously he was feeling show on his face.
Michael ran his finger over the photographs. “Our professor complimented me on the line and shape.”
“I can see why.”
“And the contour and shading.”
“I’m really proud of them. Tommy loved them too.”
Cal rose and put his breakfast things in the sink. “When did you show these to Tommy?”
“Yesterday afternoon when I was working at Tommy’s bar. The pictures of Cozzi Cove are for our next assignment.”
“‘Hot Italian guy on the beach’?”
“‘Summer magic.’ ” He hugged Cal’s neck. “And there’s no place more magical or more romantic than Cozzi Cove in the summer.”
After Michael headed into the bathroom, Cal heard Connor’s jeep pull up into the parking lot.
A minute later, Connor’s voice rang out. “Hi, boss. Private Connor O’Riley reporting for duty.”
Cal met Connor in the living room. “Hi, Connor. Good job cleaning the bungalows yesterday. I aired them out last night. Do me a favor. Get some fresh towels from the bin outside and put them in the bungalows.”
In his usual skintight white T-shirt and short-shorts, the freckled twenty-year-old saluted. “Aye, aye, Capitán.” Connor licked his red lips, which matched his frizzy hair. “Where’s Michael?”
“In the shower.”
“Does he need more towels?” Connor headed toward the bathroom.
Cal grabbed his muscular arm. “Down, boy. And keep it in your pants when the guests get here.”
Connor feigned shock. “Me? Make a play for a guest? Never! Cal, you wound me to the heart.”
“You must have studied dramatics at the college this year.”
Connor batted the long lashes over his sky-blue eyes. “How else could I have dated all the gay dudes?”
Cal laughed. “I’m sure you dated them.”
“I did.” Connor revealed his pearly-white teeth. “It was the football team last year who went straight, pardon the pun, for the touchdown.”
Cal put his arm around the boy’s wide shoulders and walked him to the front porch. “Please get straight to work so everything is ready when the guests arrive.”
Connor said with the eagerness of a child at Christmas, “I can’t wait to see our pick of the litter.”
“Look, don’t touch.”
Connor opened the front door and bumped into Carlo, whose crimson dress shirt had enough buttons open to reveal impressive pectoral muscles. “Welcome to Cozzi Cove!”
As he entered the front porch, his dark eyes glistened in the morning sun. “I’m Carlo. I’m looking for Michael Rodgers.”
Cal shut the door behind him and shook Carlo’s hand, noticing the bulge in Carlo’s black slacks. “Please come in.”
Praise for COZZI COVE: BOUNCING BACK:
“I loved this story. It carries you through the full range of emotions, from joy to sadness, from happiness to anger. The characters are beautifully written.” “I look forward to a return visit to the Cove.” TBR Pile
“Heartbreaking and heartwarming, sweet beginnings for some, sour endings for others, emotions jumping off the page as you turn eagerly to read more, welcome to Cozzi Cove. The author measured his scales to perfection in delivering the perfect balance of love, laughter and tears in this sexy, fun filled holiday romance entwined with some sadness. Summer magic waved it’s wand at all who visited and stayed at Cozzi Cove and I was one of those who wanted to stay.” Three Books Over the Rainbow
Praise for Joe Cosentino’s books:
“unbelievably beautiful” “a masterpiece” Lovebytes Reviews
“as Joe Cosentino proves time and time again, with his wonderful writing and storytelling ability, love will prevail, and you will smile from ear to ear.” Kathy Mac Reviews
“a master class in how to write short fiction (or any fiction). Joe Cosentino has provided a work that will leave you thinking and wanting to savor and re-read it again and again.” GGR Reviews
“Like an onion, Joe Cosentino’s stories have layers.” “For those readers looking for something a little bit different – dare I say unique? For those readers who like to laugh. For those readers who appreciate the nuances of people and the way each character is different. For those readers who want to read a damn good story – check out this author. I’m glad I did.” “A truly fabulous read.” Boy Meets Boy Reviews
“From the beginning I was enthralled and couldn’t wait to finish the book.” Inked Rainbow Reads
“This is polished prose at its best. Intelligent writing, a thought-provoking plot and characters befitting the theater genre” “one of my favorite reads this year.” Love’s Last Refuge Reviews
“Don’t miss this one friends, it is a heartfelt story magical in the telling! Thanks Joe for putting your heart on the page for us to savor!” Bike Book Reviews
“It’s unusual for me to get sucked into a book in the first chapter but it grabbed me early and I read the whole thing in one day”. Nautical Star Books
“There were times I laughed and then there were times I cried…unforgettable.” Multitaskingmomma Reviews
“I really loved this book and having an ending that made me laugh and cry at the same time is testament to the brilliant writing.” BooksLaidBareBoys
“The author executed his storyline with a marvelous precision that would be the envy of many authors. He draws the readers into the lives of his characters, they become real and in turn, their emotions becomes yours.” “If you can only afford to buy one more book this year, buy this one.” Three Books Over the Rainbow Reviews
Bestselling author Joe Cosentino wrote Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back & Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward (NineStar Press), Drama Queen and Drama Muscle Nicky and Noah mysteries (Lethe Press), In My Heart/An Infatuation & A Shooting Star, A Home for the Holidays, The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland (Dreamspinner Press), Paper Doll & Porcelain Doll & Satin 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. 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) and China Doll Jana Lane mystery (Wild Rose Press). Joe was voted 2nd Place for Best MM Author of the Year in Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Awards for 2015!
Web site: http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com