It’s time for another summer of sun, sand, suntan lotion, sandals, and Speedos on Cozzi Cove at the New Jersey Shore. Cal Cozzi’s seven bungalows are once again open for love. This summer, sexy Cal welcomes back his brother and sister, who are confronted with people from their pasts. Connor, the maid packed with muscle and mayhem, becomes the subject of a handsome young psychologist’s study on human sexuality. Tommy, the strapping, bald and tattooed local bartender, is captivated with guest Cory Magnum, a police officer with a secret. Another guest, Bill, a disbelieving pastor, is inspired by a vision of two sexy male angels on the cove. And Cal and Michael reach a plateau in their relationship. What secrets, humor, tragedies, mysteries, and passions lie waiting to unfold in this magical place called Cozzi Cove?
Molly: Hello, everyone. Celebrating the release of Cozzi Cove: Stepping Out, the third novel in Joe Cosentino’s Cozzi Cove series, I’m chatting with Cal Cozzi, the leading character in the series and owner of Cozzi Cove, a gay resort on the New Jersey shore. Welcome, Cal.
Cal: Thanks for rescuing me from the first two book covers. I love the series, but I get tired posing in my swim suit over the cove for so long. I’m glad Joe and NineStar Press gave me a rest and used my brother George for the cover of book three, Cozzi Cove: Stepping Out. George came back into my life in book two Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward. Now in book three his ex-lover reappears and my brother is in for a wild adventure.
Molly: Both of you brothers look pretty good to me. And who’s the other handsome fellow with you on the cover of book two?
Cal: That’s Michael Rodgers, a college kid who landed at my doorstep in book one Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back. We became a couple in book two. Now in book three our relationship reaches a new plateau.
Molly: Let’s get to know Cal. What did you want to be when you were a kid?
Cal: My great-grandfather built the eight bungalows on the private cove with an amazing view of the bay and lighthouse in the distance. The main beach and boardwalk are only a mile away. I grew up there as a kid and had a great time swimming, building sandcastles, playing miniature golf, bouncing on trampolines until I was green in the face, and collecting seashells. It’s a cozy place. No pun intended. As a teenager, I realized I was good at football. That became my dream, until I was injured. That ended my professional career before it began. Since I’m also a good cook, as Michael reminds me when he wants dinner, I owned a restaurant for a while. After my father passed on in a car accident, I was proud to carry on the family tradition and manage Cozzi Cove. So I came back home to where I belong, Cozzi Cove, and realized the lighthouse is in my mind, the sun is in my skin, the sea air is in my veins, and the turquoise water and sky are in my heart.
Molly: Nicely said, Cal.
Cal: You can thank Joe Cosentino. He’s the man behind the man. I tell him what to write and he tells me what to say.
Molly: What do you value most in your family members and friends?
Cal: Honesty, acceptance, and no judgment. I try to live my life the same way. I don’t have a lot of people in my life, but those around me are all really special to me. There’s Michael of course who is my heart and soul. My brother George helped me renovate Cozzi Cove. We’ve also been there for each other through personal trials, helping each other come out on top (no pun intended). My sister, Taylor, drops in from Rome, Paris, Wall Street, or Palm Springs periodically. As a type A personality and top one-percenter, the world revolves around her, which makes her hysterically funny. We are also incredibly devoted to each other. You’ll learn something shocking about Taylor’s past in this third book as she goes through some pretty emotional experiences. Lucky for Taylor her best friend, Cozzi restauranteur Carla Mangione, is there for support. Carla is the salt of the earth. Tommy, the bald, muscular, tattooed resident of Cozzi Cove who owns the local bar has held a torch for me since high school. He’s also been a good friend. Connor, the college student assisting me, is packed with muscles and hormones. He also still revels in Cozzi Cove, and in checking out each resident for a possible fling on the cove—which he occasionally enjoys and thinks I don’t see. He’s become part of the family. In book three, Connor becomes the subject of a handsome young psychologist’s study on human sexuality with unexpected results.
Molly: I’m thinking you need a theme song for Cozzi Cove. What’s your favorite song?
Cal: An oldie, Barry Manilow’s “Could It Be Magic,” since Cozzi Cove is a magical, romantic, and fascinating place where nothing is what it seems, anything can happen, and everyone falls in love.
Molly: You seem like the perfect person. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
Cal: I’d be able to control my temper a bit more. Since Michael has a bit of a temper too, it has caused some drama for us.
Molly: What word or phrase do you overuse?
Cal: “Enjoy your stay at Cozzi Cove,” which I say to the guests each summer. And we’ve gotten quite an assortment of guests.
Molly: Tell us about one of them in book three.
Cal: Bill, a disbelieving pastor, sees a vision of two sexy male angels on the cove, which leads him to start a new life.
Molly: Tell us more.
Cal: You’ll have to read the books published by NineStar Press: Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back (TBR Pile Favorite Book of the Month/Rainbow Award Honorable Mention), Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward, and now Cozzi Cove: Stepping Out.
Molly: What’s next for you, Cal?
Cal: Cozzi Cove: New Beginnings releases on March 27.
Molly: And after that? Might you pop up in Joe Cosentino’s Nicky and Noah mystery series or his Jana Lane mystery series?
Cal: You’ll have to ask Joe.
Molly: It’s been a pleasure, Cal. How can readers contact you?
Cal: Through Joe’s web site at: http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com
Molly: Thanks for visiting the site, Cal.
Cal: Now it’s your readers’ turn to grab their Speedos, suntan lotion, and shades, and head over to Cozzi Cove. I’ll have a bungalow waiting for each of them.
A soaring golden orb turned the violet, pink, and tangerine sky into a canvas of blue. Early morning was Cal Cozzi’s favorite time. Treading water in the cove that had boasted his family name for generations, Cal felt as if his blood was the bay water, his flesh was the sand, and his soul was the sun. And Michael Rodgers was his heart. Michael swam over to him and wrapped his stocky arms around Cal’s neck. Cal cupped Michael’s firm bottom and squeezed him in closer. As Michael caressed Cal’s muscled back, they shared a salty wet kiss.
Cal looked up at a seagull gliding to the lighthouse in the distance. He pondered having the freedom to fly away from Cozzi Cove, but there was no place he’d rather be than in the confines of his legacy with the man he loved.
Cal’s great-grandfather, Calvin Cozzi I, had built everything in the sleepy town on the New Jersey shore, including the eight bungalows on the cove. This beautiful spot was the result of sun and salt water wearing away softer rocks more quickly than the harder rocks surrounding them.
Cal’s legacy was passed down to him from his great-grandfather through his grandfather, Calvin Cozzi II, and finally by his father, Calvin Cozzi III. Cal’s father, sensing his son’s sexual orientation as a boy, had opened Cozzi Cove as a gay resort.
Though Cal had dabbled briefly as a professional football player, and then as a restaurant owner, neither was a good fit. It wasn’t until after the unfortunate death of his parents in an automobile accident that he found his true calling: managing Cozzi Cove. The previous summer, Cal had been united with his half-brother, George, an architect, and the two of them had recently completed renovations on the bungalows, expanding them to add modern amenities while maintaining their grandfather’s nautical theme.
The tip of his head only reached Cal’s chin, so Michael had to stretch up to kiss his nose. Cal’s Italian and Scottish heritage had given him height, auburn hair, emerald-green eyes, an olive complexion, a strapping build, and a wide nose, which, as noted, Michael liked to kiss. “Should we be skinny-dipping at the start of a new summer season?”
“Probably not.” Cal ran a strong hand through Michael’s chestnut hair and gazed into his exotic eyes.
“What if a guest comes early?”
“He can get his own boyfriend.” Cal pressed his tongue inside Michael’s welcoming mouth. It felt warm, and Cal wanted more. As Michael stroked Cal’s broad shoulders and round pectoral muscles, prominent from working out at Cozzi’s gym, Cal pressed his nose against Michael’s thick neck and enjoyed the scent of vanilla. Michael’s African-American and Swedish heritage awarded him smooth golden skin that Cal loved to caress. Cal thought about the eleven-year difference in their ages, how they had met when Michael, still in the closet, tried to gay bash him in an alley, and the year Michael still had left to finish college. It was illogical and improbable for Cal and Michael to be together, yet it felt incredibly right. At that moment, he couldn’t be more in love with Michael.
George Valis, wearing a violet polo shirt and white shorts that accentuated his muscular legs, stepped out of Bungalow Seven and met them at the cove. “Hey, my ex back in Maine dumped me, remember? Stop rubbing in your happiness, you two.”
“Have breakfast with us.” Michael’s dimples appeared. “Cal is making a feast.”
“And Michael is cleaning up after me.”
“As usual.” George winked at Michael.
They got out of the water and put on the terrycloth robes they’d left on a rock at the water’s edge. Cal smiled at the sight of his brother’s height and eye color, which was exactly the same as his own. Cal and George shared the same father, with George being the result of Cal Cozzi II’s infidelity. They had met for the first time last summer when George looked Cal up, and Cal couldn’t have been happier to have a brother like George. He mussed George’s dark hair affectionately. “After breakfast, I’ll pack a lunch for your ride back to Maine.”
Michael’s shoulders slumped. “Do you have to go?”
Cal put his arm around Michael, recalling the brother Michael had lost two summers ago to suicide. “Bungalow Seven is always here for George.”
“Good.” George grinned like a kid with a secret. “It looks like I’ll be staying for a while longer.”
“Yeah!” Michael gave George a hug. “Cal will make a special celebration dinner tonight.” He kissed Cal’s cheek. “My favorite is surf and turf.”
“How about I leave my turf and throw you in the surf at the main beach instead?” Cal kissed Michael’s neck and then turned to his younger brother. “What’s up, bro?”
George looked at them and giggled. “Clearly you two, just before I arrived.”
Cal moved in and placed George in a playful headlock. “Look, little brother, the guests will be here soon. If you want breakfast, spill it.”
Bestselling author Joe Cosentino wrote Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention), Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward, Cozzi Cove: Stepping Out, and Cozzi Cove: New Beginnings (NineStar Press); Drama Queen (Divine Magazine Readers’ Favorite LGBT Mystery Novel and Humorous Novel), Drama Muscle (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention), Drama Cruise, Drama Luau, Drama Detective Nicky and Noah mysteries (Lethe Press); In My Heart/An Infatuation & A Shooting Star (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention), The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland (Open Skye Book Reviews Favorite Audiobook of the Month), and A Home for the Holidays (Dreamspinner Press); and Paper Doll, Porcelain Doll, Satin Doll, China Doll, Rag Doll (The Wild Rose Press) Jana Lane mysteries. 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. He was voted 2nd Place for Favorite MM Author of the Year in Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Awards, and his books have received numerous awards.