Andrea Dalling on Her New Novel Up and Coming

Confidence is my favorite quality in a romance hero. Sometimes, though, a guy can go overboard. I love it when arrogant romance heroes get their comeuppance (Darcy, anyone?). So when Emmett Cross popped into my head, I knew I had to write his story.

Emmett is one of the heroes of Up and Coming, my new release from LoveLight Press. He’s a talented college quarterback with professional prospects and a reputation for showing grace under pressure. He didn’t get to that position by doubting his abilities.

Despite his over-the-top self-confidence, Emmett has redeeming characteristics as well. He’s a kind and loyal friend who’s devoted to his parents and teenage sisters. He works hard and demands a lot from himself. Recognizing his weaknesses as well as his strengths, he does his best to overcome them.

Emmett finds his comeuppance in his friend Jake. Jake has had a crush on Emmett for years but didn’t expect it to come to anything. Emmett thought he was straight until their kiss changed everything. He knows that coming out as bisexual could threaten his pro career.

Jake is patient with Emmett, understanding the struggles he’s going through. But he won’t be made to feel like Emmett’s needs are more important. Jake may not have Emmett’s earnings potential, but he’s heading to grad school to study genetics. He’s dedicating his life to curing inherited diseases. And he won’t be brushed aside when Emmett’s other priorities compete for his attention.

A natural leader, Emmett quickly learns that Jake isn’t willing to merely follow. Jake wants a partnership, and he won’t settle for less. Theirs is a match between equals. Emmett will have to learn to compromise to keep Jake in his life.

Here’s an excerpt from Up and Coming:

Waseem and the guy he’s been dancing with come back to the booth and squeeze in. “You guys,” Jake complains, “I’m practically sitting on Emmett.”

Emmett goes with it and pulls Jake up into his lap. It’s a gay bar, so what the hell? Only Jake looks at him with this weird expression on his face. Emmett smiles playfully, and Jake relaxes.

It’s odd, though, how good Jake’s body feels against Emmett’s. He’s got his arm around the smaller man, because there’s really nowhere else to put it, and it’s comfortable. Emmett’s not used to that kind of intimacy with a man—honestly, he thought it might be kind of creepy, but it’s not. A warm, happy glow rises in his chest, like nothing he’s felt before.

Jake’s still kind of rigid, so Emmett says in his ear, “It’s okay, I won’t bite.” Jake smiles and settles into him. Emmett tries to listen to the conversation—Adams is talking about some economics project—but all Emmett can think about is how good Jake smells. Some citrusy hair product and clean, male musk. Emmett wants to touch that hair, breathe him in, but he’s not that drunk.

A shiver shoots up his back as he realizes he’s hard. Can Jake feel that? The way he’s sitting, probably not. He’s on Emmett’s thigh, not his crotch, but his leg is draped over Emmett.

And suddenly Emmett is acutely aware of Jake’s weight on his body, and how much he wants to touch him. Jake is beautiful, with his blond hair and shining, pale blue eyes, his kind smile and sun-kissed skin. Emmett puts his other arm around him and says in his ear, “You’re the hottest guy in here, you know that?”

Jake looks at him all wide-eyed, and it’s sexy as hell. Emmett has never thought about a man being sexy before, but Jake is. He fits Emmett’s body perfectly, and the thought does something weird to him. Emmett is hot all over, and he’s got a strange pulling feeling in his gut, like there’s a line between the two of them that’s tightening, drawing them together.

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Up and Coming releases on October 28. I hope you come to love Emmett and Jake as much as I do. Happy reading!

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