Title: No Sacrifice
Author: Grace R. Duncan
Genre: M/M Erotic Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: June 23, 2014
Length: Novel / 400 pages
Buy links: Dreamspinner Press | All Romance | Amazon
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Patrick has taken his acting talents from high school all the way to a role in a major television show. But as the show progresses, his life of absolute certainties crumbles when he finds himself reacting to the kisses of his male costar. He refuses to accept it, reminding himself he’s married and a father—and thus, straight.
One night he goes to drink his worries away, meets Chance Dillon, and can’t take his eyes off the man. After having a little too much alcohol, he spills his problem to Chance, who helps him realize there’s something other than gay and straight. Patrick’s new understanding of his bisexual identity helps him sleep better—until the next day, when he discovers Chance is a sound technician on the same set.
As their friendship grows and Patrick’s marriage ends, he recognizes a possibility for much more with Chance. But Patrick isn’t ready to be out the way Chance has been for so long, and when the matter is taken out of Patrick’s hands, he pushes Chance away to spare him the mess Patrick’s life has become. By the time he realizes his mistake, it may be too late.
No Sacrifice is the first contemporary romance from author Grace R. Duncan and I can honestly say, I cannot wait for more from her. I read her alt-historical books Choices and Deception, so when I was offered No Sacrifice, I jumped at the chance to read. And while it’s very different—no sex slaves or BDSM, lol—it is a simply wonderful read. From the very beginning of the story I was sucked in. The world building is exemplary, the character growth profound, and the story itself, engaging and honestly interesting.
Patrick is unhappily married when the book starts, working hard as an actor while his wife is working in Canada on her own show. When he reacts to his costar (a man) his world is changed forever. Do not make the mistake of thinking Patrick cheats. It’s not in him. But he does struggle with his desires and interests. Thankfully he meets Chance who teaches him there is something between the black and white lines of gay and straight.
The fact Patrick is bi at both the beginning and the end of the book made it all the better for me as I hate seeing bi characters “realize” they were gay all along, thereby negating the reality of all the bi/omni/pan/etc sexuality people in the world.
In the end, this is a story of love, personal growth, family, and acceptance and is one I will reread. It is a thick book, but well worth the time spent between the pages. If you love HEAs, strong men with heart that are beyond stubborn, and the best supporting cast ever, then this is a must read!
“WELL, THANKS for dinner,” Chance said when they stood outside Pablo’s.
“You’re welcome. Thanks for the ride. I’ve got to just break down and start driving myself, but… I hate LA traffic.” Patrick shook his head.
Chance chuckled. “I don’t blame you. You ought to see Atlanta traffic. I swear there are spots that are even worse.”
Patrick stared. “Tell me you’re kidding me.”Chance shook his head. “No, seriously.”
“Wow. Well, uh, yeah, glad I don’t live there.” He paused and considered Chance for a long moment, who didn’t seem to be in any bigger rush to leave than he was. “So, uh….” He felt like squirming. This is ridiculous.
“Do you… want a ride home?” Chance asked when Patrick didn’t say anything more.
“Naw, I can walk. It’s not far,” Patrick replied and took a deep breath. “’Sides, I was thinking about going to see what was in the theater. Do… uh… do you want to go with me?”
Chance frowned. “I can’t.”
Patrick swallowed, annoyed with himself at just how keen the disappointment was. It’s not like he was asking Chance out on a date… right? “That’s… cool. Okay, well, uh….” He looked away, wishing he hadn’t asked.
“I’m sorry,” Chance said. “I have a gig tonight. Most Wednesdays, actually, if we finish on set early enough. But tonight’s kind of important or I’d call and cancel.”
“Oh!” Patrick blinked. “Oh, well, uh, that’s cool.”
“Would… you like to go with me? It’s just a quiet place tonight, not all that exciting or anything, but….”
Patrick suddenly felt about a million times better. He reminded himself he was being absurd. He hadn’t asked Chance on a date. They were friends—only friends—it shouldn’t matter. “Yeah, I’d like that, actually.”
Chance’s smile was huge, and Patrick had to work hard not to stare. His attraction to Chance hadn’t faded in the time since that first night at the bar, though Patrick did his damnedest to keep it buried. He valued his friendship with Chance, and on top of that, he’d heard his friend protest enough when Marcy pushed them to date. He didn’t have to hear more to understand Chance wasn’t interested in him like that, so attraction would only make things awkward.
“Great! Uh… I have to go by my place to get my guitar. I don’t like to leave it in the hot car.”
“I wouldn’t either. Um.” Patrick paused to glance down at himself. He was still in the plain T-shirt and jeans he’d been wearing after changing out of costume. “I should probably go home and change.”
“You look gr… uh, fine,” Chance said, and Patrick looked up, raising his eyebrows. “That’s all I wear. And, uh, in fact, it might be best if you don’t dress up any more. Um… I guess I should tell you that the club is a gay club.” Chance bit his lip.
Patrick shrugged. “I don’t care, but… that makes sense, then,” he said and chuckled. “Well….” Patrick held his hand toward Chance’s car. He waited until Chance passed and caught a glimpse of the man’s ass. Which was really nice. Stop it! Friend, remember? He continued to scold himself as he got in the car.
He was a little surprised when they were at Chance’s place only a minute or so later. He shouldn’t have been—Chance hadn’t driven the night they’d had dinner at Pablo’s the first time, so the man couldn’t live too far. He found himself quite glad they lived so near to each other.
Chance’s apartment was even smaller than Patrick’s place. It was, essentially, one room—though it was big enough to be sectioned off. One corner held the bed—rumpled, at the moment—with a side table and a chest of drawers. Opposite the bed, a wide closet stretched along the wall to the bathroom doorway. A tiny table took up the corner opposite the bed and sat next to the galley kitchen. In the third corner, a two-seater sofa sat in front of a wall-mounted TV, which had a bench underneath that held a PlayStation 3 and a messy stack of games and DVDs.
The lion’s share of the room, however, was taken up by Chance’s audio equipment. Large speakers flanked a component sound system beyond anything Patrick had ever dreamed of owning. A rack of audio CDs ranging from Adam Lambert to ZZ Top and almost everything in between hung on the wall above. Next to the system stood a digital piano with handwritten music on the stand and beyond it a small desk with an open laptop, currently off.
“Sorry, it’s… a disaster,” Chance muttered, red-cheeked, as he snatched up clothes that had been tossed willy-nilly on the floor.
Before Patrick could say anything—like assuring Chance his own apartment was much worse—Chance was fussing with the bedclothes, and Patrick’s eye was caught by the poster on the wall above it—and the not-quite-life-sized version of himself staring back. Next to him stood Sebastian, with Angelo and Rhys, farther along and, of course, the show’s logo below them.
He tore his eyes away from the poster to see Chance staring at him, still holding a bundle of clothes. “Uh… nice poster. I didn’t know they had those.” When Chance didn’t reply, he added, “And don’t worry about the apartment… mine’s worse—much worse.” He wondered at the look on Chance’s face, the slight blush on his friend’s cheeks. The blue eyes darted from him to the bed and back again, and that’s when Patrick saw it: a stuffed dragon that took up a chunk of the corner. When that registered, he spotted the smaller versions on Chance’s chest of drawers and then the others around the room in spots here and there—on the stereo rack, the TV bench, and so on.
It took Patrick about three seconds to figure out what was going on. “The stuffed one is cool. Is that supposed to be Smaug?”
The relief in Chance’s eyes would have been obvious to a blind man. “Uhm… yes… uh, actually.” He paused to blink at Patrick. “Aren’t you going to make some sort of comment about… toys… or something?”
Patrick shook his head. “Your older brother?” he asked.
Chance nodded. “And Vannah.” He looked down at the bundle of clothes in his hands as if just remembering they were there, then threw them into a basket before crossing the room again. “They loved to tease me about being too old to play with toys and stuff. Vannah eventually stop
ped, but Gareth never did. Then again, Gareth’s an asshole on a good day.” He shook his head and picked up the acoustic guitar Patrick hadn’t noticed earlier from its stand next to the piano. Behind it sat another stand that held an electric version.
“My brothers and sisters used to make fun of me for acting out parts and stuff. I quit doing it for a while. Until Noa came along—that’s my youngest sister. She used to like to dress up and play, and I got away with it with her.” Patrick sighed. “Siblings can be so mean.”
“Yeah, no kidding…. Well, you know my guilty pleasure now,” Chance said as he tugged the guitar case out from under his bed and laid the instrument inside. “What’s yours?”
Patrick considered it while Chance flipped the clips closed on the case. “Donuts.”
“What?” Chance asked, turning around. Patrick blushed when Chance’s gaze raked over his body, obviously considering whether or not he could possibly eat a lot of donuts.
“It’s a thing. I try to get to the crafty for it in the mornings before they’re all gone. But… yeah, those glazed ones? Even when I’m not on set for the day, I’ll go to the little place over on San Fernando.” He cleared his throat and scratched the back of his head. “I kinda get grumpy when I don’t get to the crafty in time in the mornings, and Rhys gives me so much shit about it.” He chuckled. “So, yeah….”
“Well… that’s… not bad.” Chance’s watch started beeping then, and he looked down. “Shit, we have to go.”
When they were settled in the car and on their way, Chance weaving through the traffic like a pro, Patrick asked, “So, where is it? Is there an… area that’s primarily for the gay community?”
“West Hollywood has a bunch of clubs and things. On Santa Monica Boulevard, mostly. Sophia’s—where we’re going—is just off Santa Monica and is pretty big for its drag shows. But Sophia and Andy have those on the weekends.” He fell silent as he worked his way over into another lane, then onto the Golden State Freeway. “I hate the highways here, but the stop and go drives me more nuts,” he grumbled. “Anyway, Sophia asked me… oh… about six months ago, if I’d come in and sing on Wednesdays. Took her nearly a month to convince me.” He chuckled. “I told you….”
“Yeah, stage, deer-in-the-headlights,” Patrick agreed, grinning. “How’d she do it?”
“She threatened to strip right in front of me if I didn’t agree.”
“Oh God, that must have been funny,” Patrick said around laughter.
“Well, it could have been worse—you’ll see why in a few—but yeah… it was as much because I didn’t want her partner Andy on me.” He shook his head.
“How’d you get over the deer thing?” Patrick asked.
Chance sighed but didn’t answer for a moment as he maneuvered through traffic. When he was on the exit ramp, he replied, “Usually I just try to pretend I’m jamming with friends or just… by myself or something, you know?”
“Yeah, I got ya. That’s how I got through my first few shows.” Patrick chuckled. “Then they applauded, and I kind of got addicted to it. I miss that. Sometimes I think I’d rather be on stage—the more immediate feedback, you know?”
“You mean being yelled at by Jack isn’t enough?” Chance asked.
Patrick laughed. “Um… I think I’d prefer the applause.” He snorted as he tried to get control.
“But… Jack’s so loveable!”
Patrick lost it again, and by the time he got control they were pulling into the tiny parking lot for Sophia’s Desert Palace. The back of the building was comprised of simple red brick with a small burgundy canopy over the single door. Chance took a spot in the far corner, and they climbed out. “This is the backstage entrance. The main entrance is on the other side.”
Patrick wasn’t sure what he was expecting of Sophia’s Desert Palace, considering the name and red brick exterior, but it seemed to be what Benny’s was trying to be. The interior looked like something straight out of an Arabian Nights type of story or something. The sand-colored walls had arches inset with small fountains surrounded in bright tile. More tiles in mosaics covered the floor in front of the stage and on either side along the walls. Tables just big enough for a cramped four sat on this portion of the floor. In the center of the room, a sunken wooden dance floor became wide stairs farther back, until it reached a bar that looked like it’d been plucked straight from Casablanca.
On either side of the bar, polished wooden steps curved up to a balcony above that formed the same U-shape as the tile floor below. Patrick could make out more tables along the railing.
“There’s a table right up front over there that you can sit at, if you’d like,” Chance said, pointing.
“Sounds good. Um….”
“It’s usually really quiet tonight. I’ll do a couple of sets and see how it goes, but I’ll be with you for the break. And if anyone bothers you, tell them you’re with me. Except… her,” he said, turning a smile on the very tall, very beautiful, woman approaching. “Hi, Sophia,” Chance greeted her.
Aside from being so tall, she put most of the women he knew to shame. Perfect makeup, impeccably coiffed deep red hair, bright green eyes, long matching fingernails, and heels that would kill his mother and sisters if they tried to walk in them. The dress she wore hugged her curves in all the right ways, and Patrick was slightly relieved to discover that women hadn’t, at least, started turning him off.
“Well, it’s about time you got here. I was missing you!” she said, and Patrick paused to puzzle over the voice briefly. It seemed deeper than was normal for a woman. Then he got a closer look at her and could not mistake the Adam’s apple. Before he could put all the pieces together, she spoke again.
“Oh! You brought a date!” she crowed, turning to Patrick, who was, unfortunately, staring.
“He’s not a date, Sophia. He’s my friend, but be nice. I’m not sure he’s used to queens,” Chance chided.
“Queens?” Patrick asked, blinking up at her.
Sophia laughed delightedly. “Oh, he’s a treasure. Where did you find him?” she asked as they started crossing the floor, taking Patrick’s arm. Patrick crooked it automatically and looked up at her again, trying to figure out what he was missing.
“Benny’s, actually, though we work on the same show. Patrick Tearney, this is Sophia Sweet. Sophia, Patrick Tearney, who plays Nadir.”
“Oh, yes! I knew I saw him somewhere! It’s lovely to have you here, dear.” She patted his hand when they st
opped at the table.
“It’s a pleasure.” Patrick, remembering the lessons his da had drummed into him, took her hand and kissed it.
“Oh, he’s a charmer too! You better hold on to this one!” She grinned down at him. “Darlin’, first drink is on me.” She glanced over at Chance. “Think he’d really have it on me?” she asked.
“Sophia!” Chance scowled.
“I see! I get it now, dear. Never mind that, Patrick, darlin’.” She patted his cheek and turned to Chance. “So why isn’t it a date?” she demanded, tapping one… large… heeled foot.
That’s when everything finally clicked into place for Patrick. He couldn’t believe it took him that long. “Uh, I’m married… ma’am,” he said, drawing her—his? Her, he decided. Drawing her attention back to him.
“Oh! Married, are you? Is he here in LA?”
“Uh, no, I’m married to a woman.”
Sophia seemed a little thrown off for a moment and rested one hand on her large chest. “Really?” she asked, blinking at him. When he nodded, she
shrugged. “Well, no one’s perfect,” she said, and at the growl from Chance, added, “Fine, fine, to each his own, I suppose. You’re still pretty, dear.” She patted his hand and turned to Chance, leaned in, and whispered something in his ear.
Patrick grinned when Chance rolled his eyes. “Really, Sophia, leave it alone! I can get my own dates,” he grumbled.
She laughed. “You keep saying that, but I don’t see you in here with anyone… or leaving with anyone for that matter. We may not be quite the same kind of place for cruising as some of the clubs on Santa Monica, but I’m sure there are plenty who’d take you home.” No Sacrifice 53
“I’m not interested in that, Soph. You know that,” Chance said.
Patrick didn’t like the thundercloud expression on Chance’s face. She’d obviously struck a nerve. “Uh, when does the show start?” he asked to head off any more discussion.
“I do need to get set up. Don’t harass him, Soph. You okay, Patrick?”
“Yeah, I’m fine,” he said, shooting his friend a smile and pulling out a chair. “Did you want to sit down, Sophia?”
She grinned at him and patted his cheek again. “Not now, darlin’, but I’ll stop by later. Thank you. What’s your poison?”
“Oh, uh… Jameson?” he asked, and she nodded. “And Guinness, if you’ve got it.”
“We do.” She watched Chance climb the stairs to the stage, then turned back. “He’s a very lonely boy here in LA, with no family and only a couple of friends. Not that he’ll say anything—he won’t. It’s good he’s got a friend like you.” Patrick opened his mouth to reply, but then she stepped back and said, “But it’d be better if he had a boyfriend like you.”
With that she turned and walked away. Patrick watched her go, more confused than he’d been yet.
Grace Duncan grew up with a wild imagination. She told stories from an early age – many of which got her into trouble. Eventually, she learned to channel that imagination into less troublesome areas, including fanfiction, which is what has led her to writing male/male erotica.
A gypsy in her own right, Grace has lived all over the United States. She has currently set up camp in East Texas with her husband and children – both the human and furry kind.
As one of those rare creatures who loves research, Grace can get lost for hours on the internet, reading up on any number of strange and different topics. She can also be found writing fanfiction, reading fantasy, crime, suspense, romance and other erotica or even dabbling in art.