Friday 28 August 2015

Level Hands by Amy Jo Cousins - Book Excerpt
Level Hands by Amy Jo Cousins was released this week by Samhain Publishing. Check out an excerpt below! ...also check out that cover... mmm.

From the Blurb:

Rafael Castro is so far out of his element he can’t even see it anymore. Carlisle College in Massachusetts is a long way from his Chicago home, even farther from his Dominican Republic roots.

The only thing keeping him attached to his last nerve is the prospect of seeing Denny Winslow again. The first time they met, Denny taught Rafi to fly across the water, rowing hard in a knife-like boat. Now, two years later, on the wings of a rowing scholarship, Rafi is attending Denny’s elite college.

Even before the excitement wears off, Rafi is struggling with classes and fending off rumors that Denny’s family, not Rafi’s talent, won him his spot. To quash the gossip, Rafi tries to steer clear of the man he wants. A plan that evaporates in the fire of renewed attraction.

But Carlisle’s academic pressure cooker has Rafi barely treading water. And when a family crisis hits, both Rafi and Denny must pull hard to keep their relationship from capsizing in rough waters.

Warning: Contains a surly Dominican-American guy determined to show no weakness, a golden boy who knows his soft spots, some seriously dirty bachata dancing, and an excellent excuse for voyeurism in the locker room.


“Aww, yes.” Rafi punched a fist into the air and spun around in a tight circle, executing some quick steps. “This is a groove.”

Denny smiled at him from where he stood by the door, bag slung over his shoulder, and Rafi’s stomach flipped.

“Come on.” Rafi jogged over to his iPhone and cranked up the volume until the music was blasting. Making his way back to Denny, he waited until he was close enough to talk over the hit song. “Let’s dance.”

“Here?” Denny backed up a step. “No way. I’ll trip on a barbell or a weight bench or something and kill myself.”

“Outside then.” Rafi left the building, waving for Denny to follow. “We can still hear the music.”

The concrete pad between the boathouse and the dock was always kept clear of anything that might trip an unwary rower with a boat balanced on his head. Clean and empty, it was a perfect dance floor. Rafi dropped his backpack and hit the open space like he was entering a nightclub. Denny stood in the doorway, gear bag on the ground, and watched.

Rafi danced. He swiveled his feet and his hips, taking quick steps one in front of the other and then back, while Santos’s high-pitched voice sang in Spanish and the island music played behind them. Like the notes sang in his bones, he turned and turned again, until he’d made his way over to Denny, because dancing by himself was never as much fun as dancing with someone else.

“Holy shit. I can’t do that.” Denny had straightened up, shaking his head, eyebrows pinched together.

“Sure you can.” Rafi grabbed him by the hand. Denny’s fingers were strong, his palm hot with the leftover warmth of all that friction against the pull bar. “C’mon, I’ll show you. It’s fun.”

“It’s not fun if you can’t do it,” Denny argued, leaning back against Rafi’s grip.

“You can.” Rafi tugged him forward, knowing Denny really wanted to dance, but held back out of fear of looking foolish. You wouldn’t know anything about that now, would you? But Rafi remembered Chicago, lingering echoes of weeks Denny had spent following him around like a puppy, wanting to do what he did. Play how he played. Roam where he roamed. And even, once, dance how he danced. “Just watch me.”

And Denny did. Rafi remembered the one time Denny had seen him dance before. Rafi had dragged him to a street fair, ignoring Denny’s reluctance at the noise, the crowd of people who looked so different from him, the constant flow of words around him in languages that were not English. He’d gotten a thrill at the idea that he was showing this cute— so cute— young white boy something he’d never experienced before.

Denny had balked at being led onto the impromptu dance floor in front of the stage, hovering on the edge of the dancers while Rafi dove right in. He’d danced first by himself, but had held out a hand to a woman after a minute, pulling her close when she laid her palm on top of his. They’d stepped and tangled knees and spun out at times, dancing together for a song before splitting apart in a natural separation that led him to other dancers in the crowd. The entire time, Rafi had felt Denny’s eyes on him from the outskirts, watching the couplings and uncouplings through song after song, his gaze drawn like a magnet to Rafi.

He’d wondered if Denny knew how much longing was in that gaze.

Rafi had never wanted to dance with another man so much. Hell, he’d never really even thought about dancing with a boy before then. Dancing was something he did with girls, even though he wasn’t interested in where the dancing might have led if he weren’t gay. But watching Denny watching him as he swayed and spun, Rafi had wished so hard to dance with Denny he’d wondered if he could make it happen.

But when Rafi had circled back to Denny— a grin glowing on his face, the back of his neck sweating but cool because his long hair bounced in a rubber band on top of his head— and grabbed his hand, it had only taken two steps before Denny flinched. Maybe because he didn’t know the dance. Or he felt as if everyone in the crowd were watching him because he was white, because he was tall, because he was dancing with another man. Rafi didn’t know exactly why, but Denny tugged free of Rafi’s hands, retreating to the sidelines again.

No one else was around now though. Maybe here, Rafi could wrap his arms around something he’d wanted since that street fair.

You owe me, Carlisle. Give me something good to make up for the other shit. Let Denny dance with me.


Level Hands by Amy Jo Cousins is a new adult romance, released by Samhain Publishing on August 25, 2015.

Find this book at: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iTunes | ARe | Publisher | Goodreads

About the Author:

Amy Jo Cousins writes contemporary romance and erotica about smart people finding their own best kind of smexy. She lives in Chicago with her son, where she tweets too much, sometimes runs really far, and waits for the Cubs to win the World Series.

Fun facts: Amy Jo can get back into a kayak in the open water if she falls out of it, taught herself and her son how to say I love you in seventeen languages, and once ran the table in a game of eight ball.

Social Links: Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Website

More from Amy Jo Cousins on Love Reading Romance:

Dance Hall Days by Amy Jo Cousins - Book Excerpt from All in a Day's Work 
Callie, Unwrapped by Amy Jo Cousins - Book Review