bare: Release Day Post With Lynn Kelling
Naked at First Sight.
The dating process is all about a slow reveal of who we really are. We hide embarrassing truths beneath the gloss of how we want to be perceived by those we like or find attractive. The first date is filled with awkward questions that pick away at the hard shell of our social armor, because the playacting has to end eventually. Gradually, we’ll relax, let down our walls and be ourselves again. Then, the real tests begin as we see if the match is right or not. But still, it usually takes a while to get there.
In my new novel, bare, this entire phase of the relationship is skipped right over with the two main characters, Ev and Adam. Ev is literally naked the first time he sees Adam, because Ev is a nude model and Adam a teacher and painter. Ev is the subject and Adam the artist seeking to translate what he sees into a powerful message through art. For Ev, there is no way to hide or disguise himself. And it’s not just physical nudity that challenges Ev. He does find Adam—and the confident, powerful way Adam pursues things—highly attractive. But Ev quickly discovers he can’t hide those feelings from Adam either. Physical arousal is a no-nonsense, in-your-face reality.
I found that dynamic fascinating—Ev pressed hard into the vulnerable state of having so much revealed so quickly to a gorgeous stranger, and Adam with an unusual amount of power over the situation. Ev understands how disastrously things could turn out. On his “first date” with Adam, he is buck-naked and hard as a rock. It brings the sexual nature of their chemistry right into the forefront. Ev can’t hide it. Adam refuses to pretend he doesn’t notice. In fact, Adam uses his advantages to further weaken Ev in order to claim even more power for himself.
This wouldn’t work with many people, but Ev has spent his entire life pretending to be something he’s not. His whole identity is wrapped up in presenting to the world a persona that is faultless, moral, straight, conservative, devoutly Southern Baptist, and loyal to a father who is a prominent Republican politician. It’s who his family demanded he be, and it’s all Ev knows. He hasn’t had the chance to test those labels to see if they fit or not. He’s a sophomore in college, far from home, away from the endlessly watchful gaze of his parents. His privacy with Adam is the first real opportunity to forget the rest of the world and what they expect, to look inside and try to discover what’s really there.
This is the type of journey I think all college age people go on (though maybe with less nudity). They finally have their independence. They’re out in the world, defining their future, carving a path, making their own choices. It’s terrifying and exhilarating at the same time. But it’s easier to make mistakes, to stumble and take an occasional hard fall, when no one is really watching too closely.
Ev’s problem is that Adam sees everything. He understands the surface, and the initial struggle Ev faces in modeling for someone like Adam. But that’s not enough. In his quest to expose a fuller definition of what it means to be a man, in a way that not only includes vulnerability, but celebrates it as beautiful and desired, Adam begins to push Ev as hard as he dares to keep opening up, to show more and more, to acknowledge what’s scary and go through with it anyway. Because we never know unless we try. Unless we test ourselves to see what we’re made of when it really matters.
Adam doesn’t let Ev have privacy or run from the things he fears most, but he also doesn’t let him go through that process alone. He sticks by his side to encourage him along and show him just how great he is when he’s not even trying.
There are valid reasons to keep things to ourselves, to be guarded and careful in how much we expose and when. But there are just as many reasons to be braver in the ways we accept ourselves and chose to show that to those in our lives. Our happiness and the quality of our existence are the only things really at stake. We’re responsible for what we chose to take on, and what we run from. Ev is dared to challenge every one of his assigned labels and to find new ones of his own choosing. Adam is there to show him the way.
Ev Myers was looking for trouble when he signed up to do nude art modeling, but he wasn’t expecting this much trouble. All he’d wanted to do was rebel against the moral limits of his strict religious family and the PR requirements of his father’s senate seat. He saw how much bigger his world could be when Professor Adam Buchanan opened Ev to new passions and new experiences but when Ev’s family learned how far he had gone, they decided to resort to kidnapping and brainwashing to save their son from sin and scandal—even if it kills him. (M/M)
Lynn Kelling began writing in order to tell stories that aren’t afraid of the dark, don’t hold anything back and always strive to be memorable, forging lasting attachments between character and reader. Her inspiration comes from taking a closer look at behaviors and ideas lurking at the fringes of life—basically anything that people may hesitate to speak of in mixed company, but everyone wonders about anyway. Her work is driven by the taboo in order to expose the humanity within it. Lynn is an artist, designer and lover of any form of creative self-expression that comes from a place of honesty and emotion, whether it’s body art or opera. She has had multiple novels published, has written over seventy works of erotic fiction of varying lengths, and always has several novels in progress.