Author: Barbara Bell
Book: Cutie Pies
Page/Word Count: 121 pages, 29K words
Categories: Gay Romance, Contemporary Romance
Release Date: March 19, 2018
Cover Artist: L.C. Chase
4.5✨s from Lucy (Hearts on Fire Reviews) – Adorable, that is the only thing I could think when I finished this book. Absolutely adorable. Joey is clerk at Cutie Pies, an adult store. It’s the perfect place for him and he has a great boss in Kate and an awesome bestie, Becca, who works with him. Joey’s family was not and is not supportive of him (mom sends him antigay books for Christmas) so Cutie Pies is the world to him.
When the shy, quiet Mick comes in to buy, of all things, a 10” dildo, things are looking up even if Joey isn’t supposed to flirt with the customers. I have to say, Joey and Becca are silly and together they act like big kids. I liked that, because Joey deserves some fun. What starts off as a flirtation ends up as longing on Joey’s part, at least until he finds out Mick has a boyfriend, one he’s been with since high school. But then Mick comes back and continues buying and Joey continues longing.
The story is just so cute and both of them, plus Kate and Becca, have their awkward funny moments. I loved when Mick wants to talk to Joey and asks him to go to a quiet place, then they end up at a tiki bar, where the short Mick ends up, “…mortified, not to mention tiny thanks to the too-low seat and the too-high table.” The visual made me laugh. Similarly, their date for Mardi Gras, complete with happy ending, made me laugh. The side story of Becca and Kate worked in well and the glass “art”.
I loved that Joey got to be surrounded by a supportive, loving family (Mick’s) and that Mick got to be with someone who cherished him. It’s just sweet and charming, and as I said – adorable.
About Barbara Bell:
Barbara Bell grew up on a sheep farm in rural Australia, moved to Brisbane when she was nineteen to study film, and now lives in Sydney with an ever changing cast of housemates and a colony of bees.
She is an avid traveller, a proud geek, and loves telling stories about human relationships and how strange and silly (but also beautiful) they can be. She began writing when she was eleven years old and believes it’s probably too late to break the habit now.
Five of My Favourite Fictional Relationships
Cutie Pies is a love story.
Hopefully that doesn’t come as a surprise. It is, after all, a romance.
However, love is a universal emotion, something we all know and can connect with, and so love stories can be found in almost every genre in almost every medium. Star Wars has Han Solo and Princess Leia, Pirate of the Caribbean has Will and Elizabeth, and Lord of the Rings has Aragorn and Arwen (as well as Legolas and Gimli though that’s a discussion for another day).
But, some love stories seem to rise above the rest.
They’re not always the best love stories. Sometimes they are just the most real. Or, sometimes they connect with us on a personal level. But, for whatever reason, they stick with us.
And so, without any further ado, here is a list of five fictional relationships that have stuck with me. Keep in mind, these relationships aren’t necessarily romantic (or even always healthy!), they are simply pairs which I think have a compelling dynamic. I’ve also tried to draw from a variety of different sources. Hopefully my eclectic media consumption habits aren’t too distracting…
Lestat de Lioncourt and Louis de Pointe du Lac from Ann Rice’s Vampire Chronicles
That’s right, first on my list is the OG gay vampires themselves, Louis and Lestat. For those that haven’t read Ann Rice’s books, Lestat is a vampire who meets and turns Louis because he wants a companion in his eternal second life. While at first Louis embraces his new existence as a vampire he quickly realises the horror of what he’s become and rebels against it (and Lestat). Their relationship is that of enemies and lovers, fighting in ideologies but still not quite able to let go no matter how much they hurt each other.
Sounds messed up? That’s because it is. This list isn’t of the healthiest relationships in fiction, just some I find the most compelling. And compelling these two are. They’re complex, manipulative, and at times downright abusive. But the feelings they have for each other are both so erotic and so vivid they can’t be ignored. At the end of the day Ann Rice tells a captivating story about two very flawed men (or monsters) and how their existences interweave.
I told you not every duo on this list was romantic. In this case the love these two characters share is entirely familial. Nani and Lilo – if you haven’t seen the movie – are sisters. Nani is an adult and is desperately trying to make ends meet in order to take care of her much younger sister Lilo after the death of their parents. Lilo doesn’t make this easy when she adopts an alien creature hell-bent on destruction.
This is easily my favourite relationship to ever come out of Disney (and there are a lot of good relationships in Disney’s armada of films). Watching this movie it is easy to see both the love these two have for each other as well as the extreme differences in their positions and personalities. They come into conflict without either one of them being at fault and those fights are so honest and familiar to any of us who have siblings. I also really emphasise both with Nani’s struggle to hold what little family she has together, and Lilo’s childlike misunderstanding of the whole situation.
Xena and Gabrielle from the TV show Xena: Warrior Princess
Yes, I‘m a cliché. Like many queer girls my age I grew up obsessed with Xena: Warrior Princess. There’s a good reason for that. The show not only had a tendency towards incredibly strong and interesting female characters, it was also the first time I saw two women in love and kissing on TV. Watching it today is a little cringey because it’s very much a product of its time and the special effects have not aged well, but the two main characters and the relationship between them is as interesting as ever.
Xena and Gabrielle are the quintessential ‘friends to lovers’. In the first few seasons of the show they have a very platonic hero/sidekick dynamic and even fall into romantic entanglements with other characters (though none of these ever last long). However, as the show progresses the two go through an incredible amount together and slowly it becomes clear that they care about each other in way far deeper than (I think) was originally planned by the show’s writing team. I like this because this couple was never written to belong to each other… but they fit anyway. There is something very beautiful and very real about that.
Ezio Auditore da Firenze and Sofia Sartor from the Assassin’s Creed games
The Assassin’s Creed games have been among my favourite games for a very long time. And, like many fans of the series, my favourite character in the games is Italian Stallion, Ezio Auditore. Ezio is first introduced as a brash young man only interested in having fun and seducing women. However, as he gets older he matures and by the time he’s sporting grey hair he’s both a very skilled assassin and a very wise and careful man. This is when he meets Sofia, a woman who, in his youth, he wouldn’t have taken the time to get to know. But now he falls in love with her, and she with him.
There is a quiet honest beauty with Ezio and Sofia. They’re both older (though Ezio more so than Sofia), both focused on their own goals and passions, and yet both very happy to help and be there for each other. What’s more, they’re both strangers in a strange land at the time they meet and are able to help and confide in each other as they settle into their new lives. What can I say? It’s nice to see the Italian Stallion finally find love with someone as independent and competent as him.
Clark Kent and Lois Lane from DC Comics
Clark Kent is Superman, the most powerful being on the planet, capable of bench pressing skyscrapers and crushing coal into diamonds. Lois Lane is an award winning journalist, a part time damsel in distress, and one of the only people in the world that doesn’t need kryptonite to make the man of steel fall to his knees. Witty, friendly, snarky, and fun, these two have been the power couple of DC Comics since the 1930s and I don’t see that changing anytime soon, especially as they now parents to boot.
I love the spirit they have. Lois is plucky and not afraid to stand up for herself while Clark is both happy to play second fiddle to her as well as be the hero when it’s required. They are equal despite the massive differences in their physical strength, have fun together, and aren’t afraid to push each other’s buttons. However, despite all that, they also deal with some very serious story arcs and have withstood more than their fair share of trauma.
That’s my list! I hope you enjoyed it and, for those of you planning on picking up my novella Cutie Pies, I hope you love their relationship just as much as I’ve loved these. Let me know which couple is your favourite in the comments below and don’t forget to leave your contact details for a chance to win an ecopy of the book. You can buy my novella Cutie Pies where ebooks are sold. Follow along with the rest of the book tour to learn more about it.
Thanks for reading,
Where to find Barbara Bell:
To celebrate this release, one lucky winner will receive a copy of Cutie Pies! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on March 24, 2018. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries.