Monday, November 19, 2018

RELEASE BLITZ & REVIEW - The Breaths We Take (Seasons of Chadham High Book 3) by Huston Piner

Title: The Breaths We Take
Series: Season of Chadham High, Book Three
Author: Huston Piner
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: November 19, 2018
Heat Level: 1 - No Sex
Pairing: Male/Male
Length: 101100
Genre: Contemporary YA, LGBT, historical/early 90s, YA, high school, first love, coming-of-age, aging relative, family issues, weddings, HEA

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It’s 1992, and seventeen-year-old Ben
Carpenter has everything all figured out. He’s gay, with a supportive family;
he makes decent grades; and in Ted, Hope, and Doris, he’s got three great
friends he can always depend on. If he only had a boyfriend, life would be
perfect, and he’s working on that.

But things are getting complicated.
First, Doris drags him into an ill-fated matchmaking scheme that could destroy
their friendship with Ted and Hope. Then, Grandpa Marty moves in, throwing the
whole Carpenter household into a total uproar. If that’s not enough, the only
way for Ben to get in his community service hours is to volunteer at the senior
center, even though old people give him the creeps. And then there’s that
little matter of his feelings for Ted’s brother Adrian that confuse him and
threaten to expose a secret Ted must never know.

Ben’s journey is littered with
misunderstandings, tender moments, and unexpected ghosts from the past that
reveal a two-decades-old mystery. As events unfold, Ben is forced to reevaluate
what friendship, family, and love are really all about, and he discovers that,
sometimes, there’s more to life than a happy ending.

Seasons of Chadham High explores the
evolving experience of gay teenagers in different eras—from the psychedelic
sixties, through the me generation seventies and eighties, to the nihilistic
nineties and beyond.

My Rating - 3 Stars!

The Breaths We Take by Huston Piner, is an okay read. 

Ben's in high school, the year is 1992, and we get to follow along as Ben deals with wanting a boyfriend, a secret relationship, friend issues, and his grandfather's declining health. In other words, Ben has a lot to deal with and has a lot on his mind.

I enjoyed this story, but it's also a bit choppy in it's writing and it could have used more character development. 

That said, I like that age difference between Ben and his eventual boyfriend. Their romance however, seems to just happen, without a ton of build-up. I did enjoy the secretive aspect though. 

I found the friend storyline a little strange. Yes, it was something teens would do, but it just went too far, in my opinion. 

On a side note, we also get to see a middle age romance, as two former lovers are reunited. It's sweet and inspiring. I appreciated a lot of the nursing home moments and characters.

Overall, The Breaths We Take had a lot of promise, and I'm glad I read it, but it definitely feel short.


The Breaths We Take
Huston Piner © 2018
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One
September 1992

There are certain days when everything
just seems to come together. Then there are those days when things all fly
apart. Well, there’s also the kind when things begin to change. For me, a sunny
day at the start of my junior year of high school was such a day. It began like
any other, but before it was over, my life had taken a turn, and soon,
everything—from my relationships with friends and family to what I thought I
knew about love—would be changed forever.

So there we were, at one of the tables
outside the lunchroom, just back from Labor Day weekend. Doris and I were
sitting across from Hope and Ted, all of us soaking up the sunshine. The wind
was a little gusty, but nobody was complaining. At least it drove the stench
off. (Only Chadham High would put the dumpsters right around the corner from
the school’s one outdoor eating area.)

“Hey Ben, pass the salt.”

I cut Ted a reproachful glance. The only
shaker was two tables away.

“Why am I always the one who has to get
the salt?”

“Don’t be such a whiner. It’s like
social contract theory. You do little things for us, and we all do little
things for you.”

“Such as…?”

Hope flicked sandy-brown bangs out of
her face. “Such as making sure you find the right guy to hook up with.”

“The right guy?” I said, depositing the
shaker just out of Ted’s reach. “What do you mean the right guy?”

“Oh come on, Ben. You know when the
right guy comes along, we’ll all chip in to help you get him.”

“Yeah, yeah, like that’s ever going to
happen. Here. At Chadham High. In this lifetime.”

Doris nudged me in the side. “You’ve
just got to be patient.”

“Patient? My high school career’s
already halfway over, and I’ve got nothing to show for it. ‘The right guy.’ At
this point, I’d be happy to have any guy show even a hint of interest in me.”

I hadn’t even finished speaking when
Grant Framingham shuffled past us. Doris raised a sarcastic eyebrow and
snickered, watching me grimace at his weasel-like nose and mousy brown hair.

“Really? Any guy?”

“Uh, no. On second thought, I’ll wait
for the right guy.”

“You mean Colby Ryder,” Hope said in a
playful, mocking tone.

As if on cue, Colby emerged from the
lunchroom, that luxurious ebony hair of his floating in the breeze, those
dark-chocolate eyes gleaming in the sunlight. My heartbeat quickened, and my
skin tingled at the very sight of him. He was so hot you could get burned by
just touching him—not that I’d ever had that opportunity.

I watched him pass us, my shoulders
slumping, while various fantasy images danced through my head.

“Oh God, what I could do to that boy.
Why oh why couldn’t he be gay?”

“Benjie,” Doris chirped in a singsong
voice. “Whining.”

“It’s just not fair,” I said peevishly.
“And I’m not a whiner.”

They all laughed.

Okay. The truth was, maybe I did whine a
bit—every now and then. But whining just came with the territory when you were
seventeen years old, gay, and devilishly handsome, and you had about as much
chance of finding a boyfriend as winning the lottery.

My problem was a question of
demographics. Chadham High was one of those places where everybody fit into
neat little boxes. We had the snotty I’m Involved in Everything and All the
Teachers Love Me association. Then there was the I’m a Jock and I’ll Punch Your
Face if I Want To crew. We had the obligatory I’m Smart and You’re Not guild,
the My Religion Says You’re Going to Hell congregation, and any number of the
I’m a (fill in the demographic group of your choice) and I’m Better Than You
societies. And of course, what self-respecting high school would be complete
without the Dude, Pass that Joint tribe? As for the rest, they all fell into
the Please God, Just Let Me Live Long Enough to Get Out of Here nation. That’s
the box Ted, Doris, Hope, and I were all in.

But what we didn’t seem to have at good
old Chadham High, at least as far as I’d been able to tell over the past two
years, was more than the one lone gay student—me. Now, they say statistically,
at least five percent of any given population will be homosexual. That meant
there should have been about a hundred or so young gay people running around,
and therefore, at least a few of them should have been healthy gay males. But
if there were any other queers at Chadham High besides me, I’d long since come
to the conclusion they were masters of disguise. I mean, sheesh. Talk about
keeping a low profile.

I plopped my elbow on the table and
cupped my chin in my hand. “Why can’t any of the beautiful guys around here be

“Well,” Ted said, “good looks are God’s
compensation for not giving us straight guys a good sense of fashion.”

Doris leaned back in her chair with her
mouth hanging open and stared at him.

“Oh Ted, I’m so sorry, and you lost out
on both.”

She burst into a fit of laughter, and
Hope and I snickered.

Ted ignored her, stretched for the
shaker, and sighed when he had to half stand to reach it. Then he
unceremoniously dumped an ungodly large mountain of salt on his food.

Doris scowled.

“Ted, I swear you’re going to give
yourself a coronary.”

He raised a sodium-laden fork to his
mouth. “It’s the only way I can stand to eat this crap.”

She shook her head as Hope picked up the
shaker and poured a liberal mound of salt onto her own plate.

“You know, you could just get an apple
or an orange.”

“Even the fruit here stinks,” he said
through a mouthful of whatever it was he was eating.

He was right. I glanced at the orange
peel lying in my tray. There’s sour, and then there’s sour, but the sour in
that orange had just been plain off.

Doris twiddled a strand of wavy black
hair. “Has anybody had any luck finding something for their community service

“I was hoping to do the Y,” Hope said,
“but they told me all their volunteer openings were already filled weeks ago,
and they’ve got a waiting list a mile long.”

“Yeah,” Ted said. “I got the same answer
when I called the city park service Friday afternoon. Apparently, the school
board didn’t take into consideration there are only so many volunteer positions
available in Chadham County. Adding juniors and seniors to the number of
underclassmen already required to do CS was an idea bound to fail.”

“Well,” Doris said with a grin, “I’ve
got mine all set and ready. I talked with my priest, and she said I could help
out preparing the Saturday meals-on-wheels plates.”

“Hey,” Hope said, “do you think I could
help out there too?”

“I can ask. I don’t know how much help
they need though. She told me they’ve got a pretty large group of people
working it. But yeah, I’m sure they’ll let you. And even if they don’t, if I
drive you there Saturday, they’ve at least got to give you credit for the time
you’re there with me.”

Hope smiled. “Cool. What about you, Ben?
Are you having any luck?”

I folded my arms and sighed. “Oh yeah,
I’m having great luck—all of it bad. Last week, I went to city hall, and they
said no to everything, even the neighborhood beautification program.
Apparently, you’ve got to have some kind of advanced degree in agriculture just
to pull up weeds around here. And Saturday, I even checked out the library.

“Well,” Doris said, “you’d better come
up with something. Two hundred hours is a lot of time to fill, especially if
you’ve got to limit it to weekends and after school.”

“Don’t rub it in,” Ted said.

Hope patted him on the wrist. “Aw, I’m
sure you’ll both find something.”

I scoffed. “Tell me something, Hope.
Your middle name wouldn’t happen to be ‘Springs Eternal’ by any chance, would


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Meet the Author

Huston Piner always wanted to be a writer but realized from an early age that learning to read would have to take precedence. A voracious reader, he loves nothing more than a well-told story, a glass of red, and music playing in the background. His writings focus on ordinary gay teenagers and young adults struggling with their orientation in the face of cultural prejudice and the evolving influence of LGBTQA+ rights on society. He and his partner live in a house ruled by three domineering cats in the mid-Atlantic region.

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