Oh My Shelves welcomes author Nicki Bennett to the blog with the release of her story in the Dreamspun Desires series, The Cattle Baron’s Bogus Boyfriend – releasing Monday May, 16, 2016 from Dreamspinner Press – and to share a bit with us from the book on the Cinderella trope and shopping.
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The Shopping Expedition
A big part of the fun of writing a Dreamspun Desire is being able to play with tropes, and one of several that feature in The Cattle Baron’s Bogus Boyfriend is the classic Cinderella story. The book’s point-of-view character, Jonah Hollis, is a farm boy from Oklahoma who’s moved to the big city of Dallas after having been unwillingly outed in his small hometown. Though he’s learned to adapt to city life in the eighteen months he’s lived with his roommate Wes and their friends Aidan and Sammy, he’s still a bit of a country boy at heart.
One of the running jokes between the roommates is that Jonah doesn’t dress the part for the urban metrosexual lifestyle he now lives:
“Jonah!” Sammy said loudly. “Tell me you did not come here straight from work. You’re giving gay men a bad name, dressed like that.”
“What’s wrong with the way I’m dressed?” Jonah asked. He didn’t think his khakis and pale blue dress shirt looked bad, though maybe they’d gotten a little wrinkled between the long day and the heat.
“Have we taught you nothing, child?” Sammy waved a hand to indicate his and Aidan’s attire. Jonah thought the rich purple V-neck Sammy wore contrasted beautifully with his dark skin, while Aidan’s green-and-white paisley accented his pale complexion and red hair, even though neither of them were shirts he’d be comfortable wearing. “It’s too late to take you shopping now, but I’m coming to look through your closet before we go clubbing tomorrow night. If we can’t find anything fit to be seen with you in, you can borrow something from one of us.”
“I wouldn’t fit in anything of yours,” Jonah pointed out. He certainly wasn’t heavy, but Sammy was half a head taller and at least twenty pounds lighter than he was, while Aidan was built like the construction worker he was.
“Sure you would,” Aidan said. “They just wouldn’t hang on you the way most of your shirts do. You’ve got a good build. You ought to show it off.”
Tight-fitting shirts weren’t very practical for working on a farm, but if Jonah said that, he knew they’d just remind him he didn’t live on a farm anymore. And he didn’t have to dress to hide the fact that he was gay anymore either.
Despite Sammy’s teasing prediction that left on his own, Jonah would show up for clubbing dressed in “overalls and a straw hat,” Jonah is confident in his ability to make his own clothing choices. That is, until the day his millionaire boss, Lincoln Courtwright—who Jonah’s had a secret crush on since he started working for him—asks Jonah to accompany him to the event of the Dallas social season, the Cattle Baron’s Ball. And not only to the ball, but also to the exclusive Underwriter’s Party for major donors. The ball itself might be described as a “boots-and-blue-jeans affair,” though as Sammy observes, “There are boots, and then there are boots.” But the Underwriter’s party is semiformal, and Jonah didn’t even bring a suit with him to Dallas.
That’s when self-appointed “fairy godfather” Sammy steps in. And it leads to one of my favorite scenes in the book – the shopping expedition.
Jonah’s previous experience with buying a suit was shopping with his mom at the JCPenney in Muskogee. Unfortunately Sammy was not going to let him flip through a few coats on a rack and decide between navy or black. As soon as the sales associate heard what Jonah needed an outfit for, he ushered them to a curtained-off area at the rear of the store, where suit after suit was brought out for consideration.
“Basic black,” Sammy decreed, “with a slim cut to show off the boy’s killer bod.” After finally narrowing the selection to three, he pointed Jonah toward the dressing room. “Here, I’ll hold your wallet while you try them on.”
Jonah knew he was in trouble when he got into the dressing room and found none of the garments had price tags. He couldn’t help feeling a bit like one of the dolls Caylee used to play with as he paraded out each style for Sammy’s evaluation. They finally agreed on a single-breasted black jacket with slim-cut slacks in a lightweight wool-silk blend. The sales clerk brought in several shirts to pair with it, and Sammy insisted he buy at least two. “You can wear the lilac shirt to the party and the white one with the jeans to the ball.” There were also ties to consider, and Sammy had the salesman bring in shoes in Jonah’s size to be sure the pant hems hung at just the right length. Jonah considered himself lucky Sammy didn’t insist on having him model underwear and socks to go with the ensemble.
Once the sales clerk had marked the suit for the adjustments needed to fit it to Sammy’s satisfaction, Jonah was finally allowed to change back into his own clothes. When he got to the register, Sammy pushed a credit card slip in front of him. “I had them go ahead and ring everything up. Here, sign this.”
The total made Jonah boggle. “Are you sure we can’t just go somewhere and rent something for the night?”
Sammy glowered. “Do you want to look like someone your boss rented for the night?”
That was almost too close to the truth for Jonah, though he couldn’t admit it to Sammy. He shook his head.
“I didn’t think so. I had them ring this up on his credit card, and believe me, he’s getting a bargain.”
Jonah wasn’t sure about that, but at least he wouldn’t embarrass Linc by what he wore. He took a deep breath and scrawled his signature.
The Cattle Baron’s Bogus Boyfriend: by Nicki Bennett
Series: Dreamspun Desires
Release Date: May 15, 2016
Published By: Dreamspinner Press
Dreamspinner • Amazon • ARe
It might be a sham to his boss, but it’s all too real to him.
Administrative assistant Jonah Hollis has nurtured a hopeless crush on his boss, millionaire cattle rancher Lincoln Courtwright, ever since he started working for him. But hope is kindled when Linc and beautiful rodeo star Melissa Cutler break up just weeks before the biggest event of the Dallas social season, the Cattle Baron’s Ball, and Linc asks Jonah to accompany him in her place.
Is it all a ploy to make Melissa jealous? Can Jonah fit into Linc’s world? It takes some encouragement from his roommates and his best friend, Caylee, for Jonah to agree. Before long, Jonah dares to believe Linc might just feel something for him… until interfering family and a series of misunderstandings threaten his fragile dream of happiness.