Monday, January 7, 2019

Release Blitz: Tea by Matthew J. Metzger (Review+Excerpt+Giveaway)

Title: Tea
Series: A Cup of John, Book One
Author: Matthew J. Metzger
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: January 7, 2019
Heat Level: 3 - Some Sex
Pairing: Male/Male
Length: 76800
Genre: Contemporary, contemporary, British, trans, gay, age gap, blue collar, disability, ableism, body dysphoria, PTSD/mental abuse/self-image issues, family issues, #ownvoices

Add to Goodreads


John only went into the cafe to have a brew and wait out the storm. He didn’t expect to find love at the same time.

And it really is love at first sight. Chris is like nobody John’s ever known, and John is caught from the start. All he wants, from that very first touch, is to never let go. But John is badly burned from his last relationship and in no fit state to try again. When Chris asks him out, he ought to say no.

But what if he says yes instead?


Matthew J. Metzger © 2019
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One
“Fark this,” Rhodri said, “fer the ace o’ farking spades.”

John grunted, busy watching a Facebook slanging match unfolding on his phone. It had started to snow, which—despite Sheffield getting snow on a regular basis in the winter—ensured everyone promptly forgot how cars worked.

A fact that Rhodri backed up by leaning out of the van window and bellowing, “Who taught yer to farking drive, yer daft cunt!” at a middle-aged man in a BMW.

John snorted, grinning, and squinted out of the slush-smeared windscreen. They were nearly at the high street.

“I can walk from here,” he said. “Turn around and use the ring road, if you don’t want to be here all night.”

“Fark the ring road,” Rhodri grumbled in his thick, garbled accent. “It’ll fark the suspension.”

“You mean it’s not already?”

Rhodri snarled a defence of his beloved, twenty-year-old death trap of a van, but John firmly stuck by his assertion as the rust bucket was hauled over to the side of the road, and the handbrake screeched like a banshee in an opera house.

“Monday for the renovation?” John asked as he curled his coat collar up.

“Yeah. Gazzer’s looking fer a spring sale.”

“Have a good weekend, then.”

“Fark off.”

John grinned and slammed the passenger door on the pseudo-affectionate dismissal. The day Rhodri Campbell started talking nice to his friends was the day hell froze over.

Mind you, John thought, squinting at the black sky, that might not be too far off.

He was supposed to meet his older sister for dinner, but she’d be at least another hour. Grimacing at the weather, John decided to find a café and settle in to wait out the snowstorm. Hunching his shoulders, he broke into a jog, aiming for the first sign he saw, and soon shouldered his massive bulk through the glass door of a tiny, heavenly warm coffee shop.

It was busy inside. Everyone else had had the same idea. The floor was crowded with shopping bags, a buggy thoroughly blocking one aisle. John’s absurd size earned him some dirty looks that were hastily wiped away when he glanced back. Even the barista, when he asked for a large tea, sighed and popped her gum like it would be an enormous bother to cover her wide-eyed stare. The prickle of unease rose under his skin, and he forced it back down.

“Keep the change,” John told her as he handed over three pounds and folded his arms to wait, knowing that—even in Sheffield—a man with biceps like the steel ropes on a suspension bridge was not going to be left waiting for long. Especially if he folded his arms.

That was when he messed up.

He stepped back to glance around for a table, and in doing so, bumped the one directly behind him. A cup banged. Someone swore. And John felt the hot flush of shame flood his face, even as he spun on his heel to try to fix the damage.

“I’m so sorry. I—”

“It’s all right. I think it missed me.”

“Here, let me get you another—what was it?”

And then the man looked up from patting down his jeans and T-shirt with a napkin and smiled right into John’s face.

And John just stopped.


The way the man smiled was…breathtaking. Literally. The air caught in John’s chest, his lungs seizing for a brief moment, when a crooked smile spread across narrow features, creasing a pale face from good-looking into gorgeous. It was like the sun bursting over a still sea, like the car dashboard when the ignition was first turned in the dark. A sudden spark lit behind an attractive face to make it utterly beautiful, and John stared.

The stranger was tall and lean, with a halo of messy black curls that surrounded his face and threw the ethereal beauty of that smile into sharp relief. The smile itself was formed out of the most ridiculously kissable mouth John had ever seen. And the face. God. It blazed with the brilliance of that beam, and above it lay the burn of eyes the colour of an endless summer sky.


“A mocha with peppermint and a double shot of espresso.”

“A…what?” John asked, still staring stupidly.

The man chuckled, and John died. His soul ascended into heaven on the back of that sound. Jesus. Holy goddamned Jesus.

“Just ask for Chris’s regular.”

“T-that’s you, then?”


“Um. John. Nice to—nice to meet you.”

The touch of his hand was like a cattle prod. John felt it all the way up to his brain, and the most inappropriate parts of his brain too. He had to learn how to breathe again. His heart was pounding. He wanted—desperately, stupidly, urgently—to reel Chris in and kiss him as if they were the only two people in the room.

He didn’t.


He let go and ducked back into line to ask for the guy’s regular. Tipped double. And when he took it back to the table, John knew for his own sanity and safety he should apologise once more, take his tea, and go.

Instead, he said, “Mind if I join you?” and instantly hated himself for it.

And then didn’t, when Chris smiled a little wider and said, “Please.”

“I am sorry about that. I’m not usually that clumsy.”

“Just an accident. It sounds busy in here.”

“It…is,” John said slowly and frowned.

Then it clicked. That brilliant blue was as vacant as a summer sky too. And he’d never once looked John quite in the eyes. John glanced about. There was a cane leaning up against the table. A glint of a gold medical bracelet around one thin wrist. And the way Chris slid his hand across the table, heels together and fingers spread, until he found the coffee cup…

“Are you sheltering from the weather too?”

“Uh, yeah,” John said, snapping out of his reverie. “It’s snowing. I’m supposed to meet my sister for dinner later, but I’m stupidly early, so…here I am.”

“Lucky me.”

John blinked.


“Sorry, sorry.” Chris waved a hand. “Ignore me. Big important family dinner, is it?”

“No, not really. She probably just wants to have a whine about our mum. Mum’s—well, Mum.”

“Let’s pretend for a minute I don’t know your mum…”

John chuckled, ducking his head. “Mum’s…she loves us, she wants the best for us, but her best and our best doesn’t always mesh, you know?”

“Ah, one of those. Yes, I know.” Chris raised his cup in a saluting gesture. “To parents running interference.”

“She’s very practical,” John said. “Very—you know, we ought to all marry well-off, well-educated folks with careers and good ankles. And Nora—my sister—she’s cocked that up a bit.” Then he winced at his crass phrasing and started to apologise.

Chris talked right over it. “Cocked it up how?”

“Well, she’s currently divorcing her well-off, well-educated, well-ankled husband for a bloke who makes sandwiches.”

Chris snorted and laughed. The coffee cup wobbled dangerously before he set it down to put a hand over his mouth and laugh a little harder, and John curled his toes in his boots. A warm flush spread from head to toe. God, he wanted to touch that. Wanted to reach out and curl his fist into that wild hair and kiss him like the world was ending.

John wanted him.

“Well,” Chris said when he’d recovered, “if your sister has a voice anything like yours, then that’s the luckiest sandwich man in the world.”


“What about you? Ditching your missus for the maid?”

John’s stomach twinged. “There’s no missus.”

“Or mister?”



“Sorry,” Chris said again. “I guess I’m being a little too hopeful.”

Hopeful? What?

“I—are you…flirting with me?”

“Yes.” Chris raised both eyebrows. “Don’t tell me that doesn’t happen often.”

“Well…it’s been a while,” John admitted. “And not usually in coffee shops.” Or from men. John wasn’t exactly good-looking, and in his experience, it was mostly women who were into the huge and hulking thing rather than men.

“Where does it usually happen? I could always try doing it there, if you like.”

John barked a startled laugh. “Er—well—clubs. Here’s—here’s nice though. Here’s fine.”

“I refuse to believe it doesn’t happen often.”

“It doesn’t.”

“Really? Hm. Local clubbers need to open their ears, then.”

“I—thank you?”

“I’m making you uncomfortab—”

“No,” John interrupted quickly. “I just—I’m…not used to this.”

Chris turned the coffee cup around in his hands, biting his lip.

“You sounded…I don’t know. You sounded like you saw something you liked. And I felt something when you shook my hand.”

“You…you don’t want to be trying me out,” John said carefully.

Chris smiled.

It wasn’t the bright, beautiful smile. It was a slow smirk, devious and dirty. And John’s cock swelled fiercely in his jeans. His dick didn’t care about Daniel and his damage. His dick just wanted to have that incredible body around it, and to hell with the risks. Oh, God. That was a dirty trick, and judging by the way Chris lounged in his chair, pure sex, he knew it.

“You have a voice,” Chris said, “like the hot afterburn of whiskey.”


“Smooth, liquid, and so easy to bask in. Like being drunk and not caring.”

John swallowed again. He was half hard. Chris spoke so slow and soft, so very deliberately, that it was turning him on even though he wasn’t saying anything filthy at all.

“I’m a dumb idea,” John croaked.

“So am I.”

John wanted to look away. But he felt incapable of not looking. He was spellbound, completely captured by this stranger’s wide smile and fluttering hands. They were large hands, but thin. John wanted to call them spidery. Long fingers, but narrow palmed. He wondered wildly what they felt like. John’s hand were rough from his trade, but Chris had a completely smooth paleness to his skin tone, and his face was impossibly young, not weather-beaten and wind burnt. His hands, John decided, would be just as smooth. They would be cool, too, like refreshing water against John’s calluses.

And then they slid over the table and hooked casually over John’s thumb.

John’s heart hiccuped and clenched again, and the flood of pure want was so powerful that his vision flexed, like a fisheye lens homing in on this stunning man. He wanted to kiss him, hold his hand, say yes, something. And yet he felt paralysed—moths to flames, deer to headlights, whatever. He was caught.

“If you’re really not interested, then that’s fine,” Chris said. “But—”

“That’s definitely not it,” John muttered.

“So—you want to get dinner sometime?”

The smile softened into something sweeter. More hopeful. More—

John’s dick softened. Because his heart tightened, his stomach clenched, and his throat opened.

He should say no.

He was still a mess from Daniel, still wounded after nine whole months, still unable to so much as flirt on Grindr without questioning himself, his motives, how he came off. There was no way this was a good idea. Not with anyone, and least of all this brilliant, beautiful, blind guy.

After all, if Daniel were right—

If Daniel were right, if there had been any truth in the things he’d said, then John was the last person who should be going out to dinner with a blind man.

John should have said no.

But he said yes instead.


NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble

4.5* Loved parts of it, liked parts of it. It educated me, and made me think. And, I want more, big time.

A Matthew J Metzger book is guaranteed quality, but not always stomachable. This is one of his best works, and as it ended, I was slightly disappointed for about 5 seconds until I turned the Kindle page and realised that book 2, which seemingly takes place 3 years down the line, comes out soon. YAY!!! I'd only been disappointed as I wanted more of this tale, because Chris and John's relationship, easy though it might have seemed (in some ways), was one where there would be on-going issues, and I needed more of these guys. I needed to know that each thought the other worth it, and that they were working towards a HEA. I needed to know how that HEA would work out, because there are questions, questions, questions in this book, and in the guys' relationship, that need answers.

The blurb of this tale doesn't tell you how good the book is, how complicated each guy is, and what challenges each will face. It is a tale that I can't go into too much to avoid spoiling it, but it is an excellent one for the most.

I liked Chris's strengths, convictions, flaws, sense of humour and confidence, but at times, his attitude and prickliness grated. I'm not saying that he wasn't entitled - in fact, I don't think that I've read about a character who's perhaps more entitled, or know anyone who's perhaps more entitled - but at times it felt like he was rather selfish, despite having an extended, loving, non-conventional and utterly supportive family. I got that he was wary, that he had multiple baggage, but at times when he lashed out, when he laid it all out, he came across as utterly abrasive, as 'it's me against the world' and that's a trait I've come across in similar characters to Chris. Again, I can't say more, but it did make me wonder about chips on shoulders and making life harder for oneself, because of one's expectations/prejudices/tarring everyone with the same brush. I did also wonder why the author made him what/how he was, and then added the other two issues that made up Chris (I can't use the words, 'that Chris suffered from', as that's not the impression I got. I didn't feel that Chris suffered from anything, or was anything less than any Joe Average RL guy; he was just one with added... issues). I think Chris is perhaps THE character with the most issues to deal with that I've ever come across, and I want and need to read more of his journey to his HEA. I also wish I could've seen him on the cover of the tale, as my imagination is running riot right now, from the descriptions that the author gave.

John was a gentle giant, at six feet, eight inches tall, but he had his issues, too. For him, poor guy, those weren't self-inflicted - not that Chris's were, either - but as the result of a manipulator that if I met, I think I'd be giving him a piece of my mind. What happened to him - thankfully not told in detail or in flashback - is a dating nightmare, especially for someone of his size and appearance, and I thought the author showed him realistically. John had counselling in this book, and yes, it'd been suggested ages ago, and he'd sort of balked at the idea, but he went into it for the right reasons, cautiously, uncertainly, and I think that that aspect was especially well done and realistic. I think that the author portrayed John as a warts-and-all guy absolutely perfectly. And, with John's final reveal, MJM made me, once again, proud to be British, with our (for the most, from personal experience) live and let live attitude.

The counselling part of the tale, however, leads me into where I only liked the book: to have a trans, 'non-passing and fine with not passing' MtF counsellor was excellent. I've never come across one in a tale, and for John, for the tale, they were a perfect addition, I thought. But, there was a lot of didactic stuff to do with the counsellor - it didn't quite feel organic to the tale, and things seemed to be there perhaps for the right reasons, but done heavy-handedly and with too much 'you will get an education at my hands', I felt. I think I get why the author did this; he doesn't hide that he's trans and maybe he wanted to take the opportunity to educate people? Yes, I knew of the 'Mx' title that some people prefer to use; yes, I knew of the singular 'they/them' that some people prefer to use, but to have it spelt out, first by the counsellor's secretary (who sounded like an old-fashioned dragon of a GP's receptionist - didn't those die out years ago?) and then by the counsellor themselves, was a little too 'let's stop everything and have a lesson, right here, right now'. I got why the author did it. I got why the counsellor did it, but the timing, and the delivery, were just a little too... personal. It felt like entitlement on the author's part, and yes, he is entitled, because after all, it's his book, but it just felt like something not 100% integral, not 100% organic to the tale. I did appreciate the education, I did appreciate understanding more to be able to show proper respect, but, I am not sure that this was the right place or way to deliver that education. It just took the tale from being all about understanding, acceptance, decent RL people who don't want the world, just basic happiness and acceptance, to something a bit 'planted'. But, that's minor in the whole scheme of the tale.

As it ended, I felt that the guys were going to be building something solid and lasting. I think there will be more issues in their way, as John and Chris have barely skimmed the surface of what life with each other will mean. I think John will need counselling for a while, and I think that Chris will likely have some to do with what he has planned for himself, and I suspect that stuff to do with his plans will surface, realistically. I hope that the author 'goes there' with those things surfacing, much as he 'went there' with the counsellor thing. And, they've not yet fully met each other's family, and I suspect that there will be many mixed reactions to come, all of which I want to experience, and yes, book 2 hints at that. Luckily, it seems there won't be a long wait.

ARC courtesy of NineStar Press and Bayou Book Junkie, for my reading pleasure.

Meet the Author

Matthew J. Metzger is an ace, trans author posing as a functional human being in the wilds of Yorkshire, England. Although mainly a writer of contemporary, working-class romance, he also strays into fantasy when the mood strikes. Whatever the genre, the focus is inevitably on queer characters and their relationships, be they familial, platonic, sexual, or romantic.

When not crunching numbers at his day job, or writing books by night, Matthew can be found tweeting from the gym, being used as a pillow by his cat, or trying to keep his website in some semblance of order.

Website | Twitter


a Rafflecopter giveaway

  Blog Button 2

No comments:

Post a Comment