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 stops by again and this time he brought Michael with him. These two are a total hoot and I hope you read through all of the highlights of their adventures and people they’ve met. Read and enjoy!
Cal: Hi, Molly Lolly readers. It’s Cal Cozzi again. Remember me from COZZI COVE: BOUNCING BACK last month. Well, I’m back again for the next book in the Cozzi Cove series, COZZI COVE: MOVING FORWARD. And I brought Michael Rodgers with me, since he’s finished with school.
Michael: College, not school!
Cal: Michael’s a sassy one, but I know how to tame him.
Michael: And I know how to tame Cal.
Cal: Even though there’s an over ten-year difference in our ages, we have a good relationship.
Michael: Yeah, Cal’s a good old man.
Cal: I’ll get you later for that, Michael.
Michael: Promises, promises.
Cal: We should tell the readers about COZZI COVE: MOVING FORWARD.
Michael: That’s us on the book cover. I’m the hot young guy on the right.
Cal: That’s me on the left. Michael and I met in COZZI COVE: BOUNCING BACK.
Michael: You should tell them about Cozzi and Cozzi Cove: your heritage.
Cal: Cozzi is a New Jersey shore town named after my 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 place I loved as a kid, and still love. Tell them what a cove is, college boy.
Michael: 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.
Cal: After COZZI COVE: BOUNCING BACK released, many readers and reviewers praised its romantic, humorous, dramatic, mysterious style, and interwoven captivating stories.
Michael: We should tell them about the recurring characters.
Cal: You’re quite a character. Go for it.
Michael: Besides us, there’s Connor, the college student assisting Cal. Connor is packed with muscles and hormones. He revels in Cozzi Cove, and in checking out each resident for a possible fling on the cove.
Cal: He’s also hot for you.
Michael: But I only have eyes for you.
Cal: Let’s keep it that way.
Michael: I work for Tommy Malone, a bald, muscular, tattooed resident of Cozzi Cove who owns the local bar and has held a torch for Cal since high school.
Cal: I’m not interested in Tommy.
Michael: Let’s keep it that way.
Cal: Carla Mangione runs Carla’s Seafood Restaurant. She holds a similar 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.
Michael: And there are some new characters in COZZI COVE: MOVING FORWARD. 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.
Cal: Don’t forget your muscular study buddy from college, Carlo from Italy.
Michael: Carlo’s my photography class partner. And how about you spending so much time with the resident man of mystery, handsome George Valis?
Cal: And computer analyst, Sam, enlists his best friend Chase in a scheme to attract Sam’s hunky, unsuspecting best friend, Raul.
Michael: And Hunter, a female gay romance novel enthusiast, wants to experience gay life off the page.
Cal: Don’t forget middle aged Gil Van Truren who tries to end it all—until he sees a vision of his studly first love from college.
Michael: So many secrets lie in Cozzi Cove.
Cal: You’ll have to read the book to find out about them. Just when you think you’ve figured it out, there’s a game changer. But true love wins in the end. Hey, let’s tell them about Joe’s other books.
Michael: Why? We aren’t in any of them.
Cal: Joe created us. It’s the least we can do in return.
Michael: Okay, there’s An Infatuation and A Shooting Star (In My Heart bittersweet dreams novellas) published by Dreamspinner Press loosely based on Joe’s high school and college years respectively. 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.
Cal: 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.
Michael: 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 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.
Cal: They’re all great books. As Michael said, we aren’t in any of them.
Michael: But we are in the Cozzi Cove series published by NineStar Press. So grab your Speedos, suntan lotion, and shades and head back to Cozzi Cove. Cal’s welcome mat is out.
Cal: I hope to see you there!
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.”
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!
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