Talking with author Berengaria Brown
Does anyone enjoy reading about romantic vacations?
Over the years my day job has involved a lot of travel, not just inside the state, or even in the United States, but around the world.
Now, before you start jealously sticking pins in a wax Berengaria doll, please remember that I went to these places for WORK. Mostly what I saw was a lot of airports, and far too many conference rooms, which all look pretty much the same. Sometimes I couldn’t even remember where I was because the surroundings were so similar to everywhere else. Think McDonalds. The McDonalds in Cleveland looks the same as the McDonalds in Akron, looks the same as the McDonalds in Baltimore, and in London, Paris, Nairobi—I’m sure you get the picture.
But every now and then I managed to carve out a few days of sightseeing between business meetings and to actually enjoy visiting the places where I was.
Like many authors, I’m always thinking “what if?” One day I thought, “What if a travel company sent people around the world looking for love? Where would they go?”
The characters that immediately arrived in my head clamoring for their happy ending were all male. I write MM, FF, ménage, and MF so I’m used to writing the HEA the characters demand, but I hadn’t actually pictured a Gay Travel agency, until I began to think how awesome that might be. And what problems gay lovers might have finding romance around the world.
It was hard to narrow down my favorite destinations to just four very different places, all extremely romantic. But hey, that leaves open the possibility that one day in the future, Tyler Robbins might decide to send out more men in search of their own romance.
Gay Travel Inc. Book 1: “Gay Lovers in Paris” (MM) by Berengaria Brown
Sean Zagorc’s boss, Tyler Robbins the owner of Gay Travel Inc., sends him to Paris to write about gay romance in the City of Lovers. Tyler expects him to send multiple tweets every day about romantic scenery, romantic venues, romantic meals, romantic everything. How can Sean do that without a partner?
Elementary school teacher Antoine Dupre nursed both his elderly parents until they passed. Now he has a week’s vacation in Paris before selling the family home and finding a job. He’s on a very strict budget, and plans to spend most of his time in the Louvre looking at the exhibits.
Fate brings them together and Antoine is attracted to the American in the business suit. He agrees to help Sean take a few pictures, maybe spend a day together visiting somewhere suitable for Sean’s work like the Eiffel Tower. That should be romantic enough for Tyler, shouldn't it?
Gay Travel Inc. Book 2: “Gay Lovers on Safari” (MM) by Berengaria Brown
Tyler Robbins, the owner of Gay Travel Inc., decides to send four of his best—and single—travel agents to different continents to report on romantic travel venues. He sends Preston Bennetts to Kenya on a safari. Preston is excited by the idea until he discovers that homosexuality is illegal in Kenya. How is he supposed to complete his assignment? Fortunately he meets Austin and Ryan Holder. Austin has always wanted to visit Africa and Ryan has accompanied him because the old man is getting frail. But they’re both great company and Ryan agrees to help Preston.
Their constant search for romantic photo opportunities has Preston and Ryan thinking lustful thoughts about each other. That absolutely can’t happen in Kenya though. Any sign of gay activity could have them sent to jail.
Will taking pictures of the Big Five game animals satisfy Tyler and prevent Preston and Ryan from touching each other?
Tyler Robbins, the owner of Gay Travel Inc., decides to send four of his best—and single—travel agents to different continents to report on romantic travel venues there. Quentin Wood is sent to Australia but after twenty-two hours of flights and a fourteen hour time zone change he’s exhausted. Add to that he can’t understand a word of the mangled English his guide, Justin Cook, uses.
Juz likes the look of his sexy new client, if he’d just relax a little. Juz is determined to show the man he calls Woody all the sights, including some more intimate personal ones.
Quentin can’t get his head around the idea of driving two thousand miles in two days to visit some place where the temperature sits above one hundred degrees for six months straight. Tyler has sent him to Hell. But if this is Hell, that means Justin’s the devil, and he’s a mighty attractive devil.
Story Excerpt from “Gay Lovers in Paris”
Sean had intended to go to bed after he’d unpacked his luggage. But common sense told him that to get over any jetlag he needed to adjust to Paris time as fast as possible. It was evening, but it wasn’t bedtime yet. So a walk might help him see some of the nightlights of Paris as well as tire him out. Although it’d felt like he’d done plenty of walking around three airports already today. But walking outside would be much more enjoyable and he’d spent more than eight hours sitting on the plane as well today so he ought to get some exercise.
He Googled the map of the eighth arrondissement on his cell phone and marked a walk that was a round trip of about three miles. That was plenty for this evening.
Sean wound his way through narrow, cobblestoned streets filled with old stone houses. Buildings here were limited to 121 feet in height, about five or maybe six stories, and the old-world flavor had been retained, giving it great atmosphere. Sean snapped off half a dozen pictures, trying to show the bright starry sky as well as the ancient stone buildings with their window boxes full of flowers. Other areas of the city permitted tall buildings, but Sean found he liked the feel of this area. It was unique and definitely fitted a romantic theme. That would please Tyler.
Sean reached the Champs-Élysées and began walking down it, enjoying the crowds out walking, the warm summer night, and the busy, yet happy atmosphere. When he reached the Obelisk of Luxor, he stopped to read about all the machinery and effort needed to move the huge piece of stone. He stepped back to take a picture and then moved sideways an inch at a time, wanting the lights still on the obelisk for his picture, but also some of the starry sky behind it for romantic effect.
He groaned when he saw his photo, after all his efforts, had come out blurry and deleted it. A diffident voice behind him asked, “You don’t have the selfie stick. Would you like me to take the picture with you in it?”
Sean whirled around. He’d been told the French preferred foreigners to use their language, yet here was someone speaking English with a strong French accent.
“Thanks for offering. I suppose I’d better buy a selfie stick tomorrow. But what I really need is a clear picture of the obelisk, with stars in the background.”
He also didn’t want to hand his cell phone to a stranger, no matter how polite. It had everything he needed for his work on it, as well as far too much personal data to risk someone hacking into it. So he shook his head and dropped his phone into the inside pocket of his suit jacket.
“Let me try,” the persistent man said, worrying Sean even more. As unobtrusively as possible he buttoned his jacket. Not only would someone need to reach inside his coat now, but even if he was moving it couldn’t flap open.
However, the man pulled out his own cell phone and waved Sean over to stand in front of the monument. It was so enormous it would be almost impossible to get a complete picture of it from any closer than this.
The man’s hair shone blond in the bright lights as he patiently moved this way and that and then held up a hand. Sean turned slightly to smile at him, still a little wary that someone would jump him and try to rob him, but no one was close to him. The man hurried across and showed him the picture.
“It’s perfect, thanks. Can you message it to me, please?”
He gave his cell phone number and a moment later it dinged and there was the picture. “That’s perfect. Amazing.” Sean smiled his thanks to the stranger.
The man was grinning happily. Despite his brain telling him to remain wary, Sean held out his hand. “Sean.”
“Can I buy you a coffee? I saw a café just along here a little way.”
“Thank you, I’d like that.”
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