Review and Guest Post: Teach Me by Sloan Johnson

Two words stripped Austin Pritchard of the privileged life he’s used to. The moment he uttered the words, “I’m gay,” he realized there is no such thing as unconditional love. Now, he’s gone from traveling the world with his family to living on the streets trying to figure out how he’s going to stay in school.

A chance opportunity changes everything. Austin impresses the foreman and lands a job, but even more, he catches the eye of David Becker, who is determined to teach him that true love doesn’t come with strings.

The only thing David had as a child was love. His family struggled to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads. That has driven him to stay focused on his goals; become a tenured professor at a university and save enough money to build a home of his own. It’s not until he sees an insecure college student working on his new house that he realizes that he hasn’t planned on someone to share his life with. He’s about to learn that everything he’s already accomplished is nothing compared to the task of making Austin see that he is worthy of love.

This book was one that I enjoyed parts of, but not others. I liked David and Austin’s slow build up in their relationship. Austin wasn’t emotionally in a place where he could start a relationship when they first met. I liked that Austin was willing to put aside his pride and insecurities and accept David’s help. My favorite scene is the epilogue. It gives the reader a look at David and Austin a few years after the main story. As someone that is constantly wanting to know how characters are after the story ends, this made me happy. There were only two things I didn’t like. There was more telling than showing and the dialogue felt a little stilted and formal. All in all it was pretty minor things to not like. I’m eager to read more from this author.

Guest Post:
When I approached Sloan with my idea for her post, I was nervous she wouldn’t want to write about the topic. Writers face far too many roadblocks that I got mad when I read how many people reviewed the book one way or another because she “previously wrote M/F” or “is an M/F author writing M/M”. Maybe I’m in the minority but I don’t care what type of books an author writes before or after the one I’m reading. Do I like the story? Were the characters believable within the constructs of the book? Those are the things I look at. If I judged every book based on what else the author wrote, I’d miss some pretty good books. So read and enjoy what Sloan has to say as an author dealing with this right now.
I still remember the day I learned that JD Robb and Nora Roberts were the same person. I was confused as to why a very successful romance author would create a whole new persona for herself for a different genre. After all, wouldn’t she want her loyal fans to know about her new venture and fall in love with the new books? It wasn’t until recently that I understood that this probably wasn’t a move she wanted to make, so much as one she felt she needed to make in order to be taken seriously.

I’m an avid reader. If I added up the time I spend reading vs. the time I’m writing, I’d probably be a bit embarrassed by my lack of productivity. Why does that matter? Because I spend a lot of time reading reviews. And yes, many times I wind up on Goodreads because I love the lists over there.

It was shortly before I released Teach Me that I noticed a disturbing trend. Apparently, there is a contingent out there who feels an m/f author should not write m/m novels. It seemed every book for which I browsed reviews had reviews like this. I thought I’d be okay because I asked several gay men to read my book to make sure I wasn’t stereotyping gay men in my book. I felt prepared.

The reviews still came. Luckily, the overwhelming majority of reviews are positive, but I’d be lying if I said it’s not the ones saying I had no business writing an m/m because I’m an m/f writer that stuck in my mind. It’s especially disconcerting because I have far more m/m projects in the works than m/f, simply because I fell in love with the characters and ideas.

Writing is something most of us do because we love it. Words are a drug we can’t live without. Most of us don’t think about whether or not we’re “supposed” to write something, because once the idea is in our heads, the only viable option is to write. If that means doing research to make the story believable and accurate, we’ll (hopefully) do it. If it means breaking out of our comfort zone, we’ll do it. What we won’t do, can’t do, is tell those voices in our heads that we can’t write something because it’s not the genre of our previous books.

Now, here’s the big question: At what point can an m/f author be considered a versatile author? If an author who found her passion in the m/f work realizes that she enjoys m/m more, will she gain more respect after the number of m/m works passes the number of m/f works?

About Sloan:
Sloan Johnson is a big city girl trapped in a country girl’s life. While she longs for the hustle and bustle of New York City or Las Vegas, she hasn’t yet figured out how to sit on the deck with her morning coffee, watching the deer and wild turkeys in the fields while surrounded by concrete and glass.

When she was three, her parents received their first call from the principal asking them to pick her up from school. Apparently, if you aren’t enrolled, you can’t attend classes, even in Kindergarten. The next week, she was in preschool and started plotting her first story soon after.

Later in life, her parents needed to do something to help their socially awkward, uncoordinated child come out of her shell and figured there was no better place than a bar on Wednesday nights. It’s a good thing they did because this is where she found her love of reading and writing. Who needs socialization when you can sit alone in your bedroom with a good book?

Now, Sloan is a tattooed mom with a mohawk and two kids. She’s been kicked out of the PTA in two school districts and is no longer asked to help with fundraisers because she’s been known to lose herself with a good book and forget she has somewhere to be.

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