THE SPEAKEASY SERIES REVIEW TOUR
Media mogul Jesse Murtagh and bartender Kyle McKee decide to go into business together and open Under Lock & Key, a speakeasy on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. The bar, with its secret passphrases and craft liquor cocktails, becomes a sanctuary for Jesse and Kyle’s circle of friends, who gather once a month to catch up with each other and share their experiences.
Under is both hangout and haven for the men who spend time within its walls and their friendships build family ties that are sometimes missing from their own lives.
The stories can be read in order or as standalones.
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With A Twist (The Speakeasy Book 1)
by K. Evan Coles and Brigham Vaughn
Love, served with a twist.
Nursing a broken heart when his ex-boyfriend, Riley, leaves him for the love of his life, Carter, Will Martin throws himself into teaching at NYU and writing. An invite from Riley to a speakeasy called Under helps Will begin to heal, and he finds himself enjoying both the drinks and the company.
Soon after, he’s shaken by news of his father’s cancer diagnosis and Will reluctantly returns to Long Island to see the man who disowned him after he was outed.
Sparks fly when Will meets his father’s mentee, Republican Senator David Mori, who is both mixed race and openly gay. Will is looking for a no-strings-attached fling and David is leery of getting involved with his mentor’s son, so they keep their affair a secret.
As his father’s health worsens, Will elects to remain in Garden City and his relationship with David grows beyond casual sex. Now, both men must decide how to bridge the divide between them.
Extra Dirty (The Speakeasy Book 2)
by K. Evan Coles and Brigham Vaughn
Love, served extra dirty.
Jesse Murtagh loves his life as a wealthy bisexual businessman dedicated to the pursuit of pleasure. With a circle of friends he trusts implicitly, he enjoys a successful career in his family’s business and as co-owner of Under, an uptown speakeasy, with his friend with benefits, Kyle McKee.
Music teacher and part-time DJ Cameron Lewis lives modestly in a DUMBO loft and isn’t interested in serious relationships. However, he’s always up for some casual fun.
Doing a favor for his friend Carter Hamilton, Jesse meets Cam and is immediately charmed. When Jesse discovers Cam’s other life as a DJ, he is further intrigued. Viewing Cam as a challenge, Jesse pulls out all the stops, but his usual methods to avoid serious relationships fail. Though Cam has no intention of becoming attached, he begins to fall for Jesse, unaware that Jesse’s feelings are changing.
Afraid of heartbreak, Cam pulls away, leaving Jesse bewildered and hurt. They remain friends until a series of misunderstandings widens the rift to breaking point. When Cam steps in to help Jesse through a family crisis, they realize they care for each other more than they’ve been willing to admit. Jesse and Cam don’t want a traditional relationship, but can they build a future that makes them both happy?
Brigham and K. Evan discuss the newest story in The Speakeasy Series: Extra Dirty…
BV: “Extra Dirty” is a contemporary romance. It might veer into erotic romance at times because Jess and Cam aren’t shy about their sex lives. But other than that it’s pretty straightforward as far as genre.
KEC: “Extra Dirty” explores what happens when consensual non-monogamists fall in love.
Give us a little insight into your main characters. Who are they?
KEC: Jesse Murtagh is a wealthy pansexual businessman dedicated to the pursuit of pleasure. He loves his Manhattan lifestyle and circle of trusted friends and enjoys dual careers as both media mogul and as co-owner of Under, an uptown speakeasy.
Music teacher Cameron Lewis lives modestly in a DUMBO loft. He’s not interested in serious relationships, but always up for casual fun. He has a big, joyous working-class family and balances his teaching with a part-time gig as nightclub DJ.
Will we be seeing these characters again any time soon?
KEC: “Extra Dirty” is the second book in The Speakeasy series which means that yes, readers will see Jesse and Cameron again.
Which actor would you like to see playing the lead character?
BV: From the very beginning, we pictured Jesse Murtagh as Chris Pine and very quickly settled on the model Ken Bek for a facecast for Cameron Lewis. We always have really clear images of our characters and even down to the personalities, and those guys really give off the right vibes for the characters.
Now, we delved into a little more about these authors and what makes them tick…
Tell us a little about yourself.
K. Evans Cole (KEC): I’ve been writing a long time, but only started publishing books in 2016. Right now, I have two contemporary series under my name through Pride Publishing — “Tidal” and “The Speakeasy” which I wrote with Brigham Vaughn— and a third solo series, “Boston Seasons,” coming soon. I’ve also recently begun publishing works independently and that’s been a great adventure. I live in the New England area of the U.S. where I have a day job and an eleven-year-old son, so I write on my off time and basically drink a ton of coffee.
Brigham Vaughn (BV): I have been published since 2014. I have written nearly thirty books that are a mix of short stories, novellas, and novels. They are all contemporary romance and are mm, mmf, and ff stories. I am hoping to explore some BDSM and paranormal stories in the near future. I live in Michigan in the United States. I write full-time, which is demanding, but I’ve learned a lot from it and hope to continue to be able to do so in the future.
What would people be most surprised to know about you?
KEC: As I meet most readers and authors through social media rather than in person, it might surprise some to know I’m mixed race–Filipino and Caucasian. I’m very open about my ethnicity but also guarded about putting personal details on social media, so I look for opportunities to express my experiences as a person of color through the characters I write.
How do you relax?
KEC: My favorite chill-out activity has always been reading, but I also enjoy baking and binging Netflix like it’s going out of style.
BV: Badly? Honestly, I really struggle to relax. But I go to a yin yoga class once a week which really helps, and I have friends who know how to get me to unwind and not be thinking about work. At least for a little while. Otherwise, I love to cook, travel, do photography, and generally explore the world around me.
Do you have a favorite quote (either from your own books or one you’ve read)?
KEC: “For reasons I still don’t understand, you chose me, messy life and all. And even though I still stumble around a lot trying to find my way, you are one of the brightest spots in that messy life and I’m happier with you than I’ve ever been.”
BV: “We said nothing. There would be time to talk later. Time for apologies and plans and healing the hurts. But for now, there was only reconnection. His hands said everything as they splayed on my back, pulling me tighter against his body. I told him I’d missed him as I pushed him up against the door of his apartment. It was perfect and right and not enough.”
What’s your favorite book or a book that changed your life?
KEC: I read Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” while in college. That was the first time I looked at someone else’s work and understood the possibilities—and power—of world building within the confines of my own reality.
BV: Oddly enough, for me, it was a Margaret Atwood story as well, although it was “The Blind Assassin”. I’d always been an avid reader, but with that book, I fell in love with her writing and the lyrical but pointed way she writes. When I first began writing I cried when I realized my work sounded nothing like hers, but ultimately she gave me that desire to be able to create something uniquely my own.
How long have you been writing and what made you fall in love with writing?
KEC: I started writing when I was in middle school and it was “my thing” by the time I reached college. I declared myself an English Lit major, but I took as many creative writing classes as I did literature classes and that first time someone’s eyes lit up because they liked something I’d written? I was hooked for good.
Did you always want to be a writer?
KEC: I started talking about wanting to be a writer while still in high school, so the easy answer is “yes.” And while the route I traveled to become an author was circuitous, I have always considered myself a writer.
BV: I never had any intention of becoming a writer. So when I began writing for fun in my late twenties, I never considered the idea of making a career of it. But eight years (and millions of words later) I am a full-time author. It is simultaneously the most exhausting and rewarding thing I’ve ever done. It took me a long time to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up, so the fact that I was able to pursue a writing career and have made a (very modest) success of it is both amazing and delightful to me.
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
KEC: My ambitions are to keep growing and changing and improving my craft. There are genres I want to write in and endless worlds to build, and all of that gives me deep satisfaction.
BV: I want to continue to push myself as an author. I recently published a novel that was a huge challenge for me and I want to continue to have projects like that because I know it made me grow and improve. I also want to be able to continue to write full-time and (hopefully!) make enough at it that I can move out of my parents’ house. They’ve been wonderfully supportive of me and what I’m trying to achieve but I’d be thrilled if my writing income could allow me to support myself.
What’s your favorite part of writing?
KEC: World building and plot development are probably my favorite parts of writing. I love being able to realize a universe for my characters and guide them through it (though often, I’m the one that’s along for the ride).
BV: Getting to know the characters. For me, it’s always like they’re a little hazy at first. I can see a blurry outline of them, but as I go they get sharper and sharper into focus until it’s like they’re performing a little stage play in my head. By the end, I would swear they could just step out of my brain and into real life and I adore that process of getting to know them.
Why did you choose to write LGBTQ+ romance? Why not another genre?
KEC: Being mixed race means I don’t really “fit” anywhere — I’m too brown to be a white person and too pale (and tall) to be Filipino. I was born this way and there’s nothing I can do to change who I am, nor would I want to. I think this makes it easy for me to identify (to an extent) with characters who are also on the outside a bit, whether that be due to sexual or gender identities, or a host of other factors.
BV: I didn’t so much choose it as fell into it, but once I arrived I couldn’t go back. I’m bisexual and there were just no stories about people like me. So being able to tell them is hugely rewarding. I feel like I am contributing to the world and making more voices and stories heard for the people who need to hear them. There is nothing more rewarding than that for me.
What sort of reception do you get when you told your family and friends about the genre and stories you write? (I ask this question to help show stories of hope and support and that, fellow people in the LGBTQ community could relate to or draw hope from 🙂 )
KEC: The people in my life who know about my writing are very supportive of both the genre and the stories themselves.
BV: My parents always said they wanted me to find my passion. So when I did, I wasn’t at all shocked when they were hugely supportive (down to letting me move in when I quit my day job and decided to write full time). And they are (slowly) reading my books. I am writing them faster than they can keep up. My friends are hugely supportive, and in fact, on the day of my first book release, my best friend sent a bouquet of flowers to my day job, which was so incredibly sweet. My extended family isn’t interested in reading my work but has been wonderful about asking how it’s going and cheering for my successes.
What’s your favorite part about the LGBTQ+ community?
KEC: The community’s collective strength, support, drive to create change in the world, and optimism is my favorite parts.
Describe a scene in your writing that has made you laugh or cry?
KEC: I tend to get attached to my characters, so tears and laughter while writing are not a rare occurrence. I recently wrote a scene in which a character spilled a lot of deep, emotionally scarring family information that they’d been holding back for years—his admission pained me so much I ended up in tears. On the flip side, I wrote a proposal not long ago that felt so satisfying I cried again, but this time out of happiness.
Tell us a little bit about your writing style.
KEC: Typically, my style is informal and leans toward journalistic (or I try, at least). This approach works well with the contemporary stories I’m writing at this time. But style should fit the story, too, so if I were to write a historical romance, for instance, I’d be more formal overall, particularly with dialogue.
BV: Dialogue is my strong suit. I love writing great banter, but I tend to struggle with scene setting so that’s always a lot more deliberate. One of the best reviews I ever got said that my writing was “sparse yet lyrical” which is honestly the highest compliment I can think of.
What does your writing process look like?
KEC: I typically write up a rough outline of how I’d like to see a story pan out and make adjustments from there as I go. I like to find a facecast for the MCs and sometimes visuals to help me understand where they live and work.
When/where is your favorite time/place to write?
KEC: My most productive time to write is on the weekends and on my days off from the day job. I like to get up on the early side and write through as much of the day as possible.
Do you write any other genre?
BV: K. Evan and I do have a paranormal short story available called “Inked in Blood”. We have talked about writing more paranormal together, which is exciting. And I am planning to do a paranormal BDSM series in the next year that I am also excited about.
KEC: I’m planning to explore the paranormal and sci-fi genres–I love them both.
What was the last book you read? What did you like about it?
BV: I’m currently reading “The Bourbon Thief” by Tiffany Reisz. She’s a stellar author and does a phenomenal job of dropping you right into the story and making you desperate to learn more. There’s a dark and interesting backstory that I am so fascinated by and I can’t wait to learn how it all concludes.
Have you held any interesting jobs while you worked on your books?
BV: For a little while, I spent some time doing transcription. It was actually quite interesting and I was getting pretty good at it, but it really took away from my writing time. And I wasn’t earning enough at it to make it worthwhile.
I also seem to be building a gig as a house/dog/teenager sitter. For several years, my cousin has asked me to watch their teenage son whenever she and her husband are on business trips. It’s usually a few times a year at most and they pay me well to run him around to all of his activities and make sure he practices his cello and does his homework. Recently, friends have also asked me to stay at their place while they’re on vacation and watch the house, feed and walk the dogs, water the plants, etc. It really is the perfect side gig because I can write from anywhere and it brings in a little extra income without interfering much with my writing time.
KEC: I work in the tech business and it’s definitely a very interesting field.
I’d really like to thank K. Evan and Brigham for their time! I loved learning more about them and look forward to more from The Speakeasy Series and can’t wait to see what these great authors will write about next!!
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