Hello, I’m Elizabeth Noble and thank you for stopping by and to Kathy for hosting me today!
The May/December romance is one of my favorite tropes. I use an age gap of eight to ten or more years in most of my books.
You have the older man who, like fine wine, just gets better with age. Combine that man with a younger man who brings a new perspective to a relationship and what’s not to love?
The greatest thing about this trope, to me anyway, is its versatility. I love that I can include an age difference in just about any plot. Giving my characters that age gap automatically adds so many obstacles and conflicts, some significant, some minor, but all give a little more spice and interest to the main story-line.
Did I mention May/December is a personal favorite of mine?
Characters are able to connect with each other and the reader through their age-related insecurities. Their romance blooms under the safety and knowledge that no matter what others might think, the characters can support each other. They learn about themselves and their love interest and develop a commitment to their new-found relationship.
While the main theme of High Test isn’t a May/December romance, it is a significant aspect of the story. Each man must deal with how society sees him, as a gay man and as someone dating an older/younger man. A bit of a double whammy. Neal, the older of the two, has the maturity that comes with age to be very forgiving when the need arises. Hayden, the younger of the couple, reaches within himself to find the courage to ignore how others might judge him for dating a man twenty years older than himself.
Title: High Test by Elizabeth Noble
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Imprint: Dreamspin Desire
Genre: Contemporary, Gay, Romance
Length: 202 pages/Word Count: 52,776
The coffee is rich. Hayden isn’t. But Neal doesn’t need to know that—yet.
Hayden Owens is just your typical graduate student working his way through school as a barista for the Owens Coffee Company—no relation. But he keeps the “no relation” part to himself when he meets dashing architect, Neal Kirchner, a successful older man from an old-money family. Hayden doesn’t exactly lie, but he figures it can’t hurt for Neal to believe he’s a rich kid. After all, Hayden doesn’t want Neal thinking he’s a gold digger.
The closer they become, the harder it gets for Hayden to come clean. Something always seems to get in the way. When a company bankruptcy and a jilted, vindictive woman threaten to expose his charade, Hayden thinks it’s all gone down the drain. Luckily Neal is ready with some innocent trickery of his own.
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They strolled down the sidewalk. Despite his earlier feelings of inadequacy, Hayden felt comfortable with Neal. The walk gave him a chance to get some clean, fresh air into his lungs and clear his head. His insides were more settled, and the tense feeling in his chest dissipated.
When they reached the bistro door, Hayden’s panic ratcheted back up. The people inside were sharply dressed, even the ones in casual attire and jeans. They had designer bags and expensive, tasteful jewelry. Hayden might not have been able to afford such things, but he saw enough at work to know many of the labels.
What the hell was he doing here trying to blend in wearing a simple Henley, Chucks, and off-the-rack department-store jeans?
Neal must have sensed Hayden’s hesitation because he picked then to put one arm around Hayden’s back, squeezing his shoulder for a few seconds. He moved his hand lower and rested it between his shoulder blades. “Would you like to try the patio or eat inside?”
“Patio. It’s so nice out tonight, and I’ve been cooped up in the coffeehouse since one.”
Neal stepped up to the hostess desk and said, “Two. A table on the patio, please.”
Hayden saw Neal put one hand on the desk and the woman there smiled and asked, “Will fifteen minutes be all right?”
He couldn’t see the denomination, but Neal had very discreetly given the young woman a folded bill that obviously made her very happy.
Neal smiled warmly, slipped his hand into his pocket, and said, “That would be perfect.”
“If you gentlemen would like to wait at the bar, there’s plenty of room.” The hostess nodded toward a large wooden bar with brass trim. She handed Neal one of those disks that would light up when their table was ready.
“Thank you.” Neal turned to Hayden. “Shall we?”
Hayden smiled and ducked his head as they walked to the bar. He’d never been in a place like this. A few people were very obvious when they looked at him and Neal with raised eyebrows. He could practically read their thoughts: He was interested in nothing but the man’s money and was probably a hired escort, and a few other judgments that became less polite as Hayden mentally scrolled down the list. A young woman with a man easily twice her age caught his eye, winked, and offered him a thumbs-up.
Turning tail and running crossed Hayden’s mind. The problem was he really liked Neal and had the impression Neal was genuinely interested in him. He kept asking himself over and over if he would find Neal so appealing if he were a factory worker or worked in retail or tended bar. Hayden kept coming up with the answer yes.
Neal moved a tall chair out from the bar and swung it around for Hayden before taking a seat in the next one over. “Do you like wine?”
“Um… I-I guess. I haven’t had much and don’t really know about many kinds. My family isn’t much for wine.” Hayden laughed nervously and ran one finger over the edge of the bar. He could simply go to the bathroom and slip out the back door. A quick glance around the restaurant convinced him that might not be possible since the men’s room was in plain sight of the bar.
Neal smiled, and the corners of his eyes crinkled. He chuckled softly, reached over and stroked the back of Hayden’s hand a few times. “Would you try one of my favorites if they have it here?”
Hayden kept his ass firmly on the seat and nodded. He realized Neal would be deeply hurt if Hayden snuck out. Memories of the emotions he’d experienced when he thought Neal had stood him up flashed across his mind. Not following through with dinner would be just as bad, if not worse. He took a deep breath. “I’d love that, thank you.”
Mystery, action, chills, and thrills spiced with romance and desire. ELIZABETH NOBLE started telling stories before she actually knew how to write, and her family was very happy when she learned to put words on a page. Those words turned into books and fan fiction that turned into a genuine love of M/M romance fiction. Being able to share her works with Dreamspinner is really a dream come true. She has a real love for a good mystery complete with murder and twisty plots as well as all things sci-fi, futuristic, and supernatural and a bit of an unnatural interest in a super-volcano in Wyoming.
Elizabeth has three grown children, two grandchildren, and is now happily owned by an adorable mixed-breed canine princess and her sidekick tabby cat. Elizabeth lives in her native northeast Ohio, the perfect place for gardening and winter and summer sports (go Tribe and Cavs!) and stargazing all year long. When she’s not writing, she’s working as a veterinary nurse, so don’t be surprised to see her men with a pet or three who are a very big part of their lives.
Elizabeth has received a number of amateur writing awards. Since being published, several of her novels have received Honorable Mentions in the Rainbow Awards. Jewel Cave was a runner-up in the Gay Mystery/Thriller category in the 2015 Rainbow Awards. Ringed Love was a winner in the Gay Fantasy Romance category of the 2016 Rainbow Awards.