When they say be careful what you wish for, do you pay attention?
Neither did Oliver Tunstead.
Oliver wishes for nothing more than to get his mind off his crappy bartending job, pile of debt big enough to swallow him whole, and playboy ex-boyfriend/boss who refuses to back off. Too bad distractions, like the hot little convertible he has his eye on, cost megabucks. And Oliver is flat broke. Renting the spare bedroom in his rundown beachfront cottage is his only option to pick up the cash he needs--a risky proposition, as Oliver is the polar opposite of a people-person. When he responds to a bizarre ad in the Waterfront Gazette seeking summer housing, he gets more than he bargained for. But Oliver can cope... After all, how much harm can a single quirky tenant do to his tightly guarded life in three short months?
Where Oliver is a loner by design, urban cowboy Bodie is a loner by necessity. Family trouble long ago dropkicked him onto the path of a lifelong wanderer. This changes when Bodie moves into the tiny beachfront cottage and starts working the door at Oliver's bar.
Despite Oliver and Bodie's nearly paralyzing instinct to avoid commitment, they fall into a wary romance. And to their surprise, life as a couple is sweetly satisfying; that is, until their jealous boss devises a cruel plan to destroy the tentative bond they've built. True to form, Bodie hits the road, leaving Oliver to lick his wounds alone.
Can these wounded souls defy their urge to flee and fight for love?
**Trigger Warning: mention of childhood sexual molestation of adult character, graphic physical violence, off-page coerced sexual interaction.
Heat Level: 4
Romantic Content: 5
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Gay
Protagonist 1 Age: 18-25
Protagonist 2 Age: 26-35
Tropes: Beach Romance, First Time, Healing Power of Sex, Hurt / Comfort, Lone Wolf, Love Can Heal / Redemption, Office / Workplace Romance, True Love, Uncommunicative Masculinity
Word Count: 57,000
Setting: Small island town
Languages Available: English
Series Type: Same Universe / Various Characters
I needn’t have worried about Bodie keeping up. He’s a born runner, which is surprising for a man of his size. Once again, my mind is drawn to the question of football positions. Would he be a running back? A tight end? The quarterback? I shrug as I chase him along the beach, where the waves meet the sand. The man is big and fast—that’s all I know.
We pace the beach for an hour, sprinting until we’re both dripping with sweat. When we finally stop, Bodie toes off his sneakers, yanks his T-shirt over his wide shoulders, and plunges into the water.
“Shit,” I murmur to Hugo, who is sizing Bodie up, right alongside me. The guy is built like a freaking gladiator. A broad sculpted chest tapers to a narrow waist. A just round enough ass, well displayed by soaking wet basketball shorts. Long, muscular legs. Light auburn fur in all the right places. A crown of russet curls. “My God…”READ MORE
My dog’s interest runs more to the “Bodie’s swimming without me” direction than my “what an amazing piece of eye candy” bend. He trots out to join him.
“Water’s frigid,” Bodie announces with an exaggerated shiver.
“It doesn’t seem to be stopping either one of you,” I call back. “But pardon me if I don’t join in.”
The sight of my two housemates frolicking in the Atlantic Ocean warms my heart in a way that it hurts to admit. My immediate instinct is to turn my back on them. To make my way up the sand to the street just to distance myself from a vision so bittersweet. But I don’t. I let the sight sink into my soul.
I’m a damned fool.COLLAPSE
Romuald Dzemo on Readers' Favorites wrote:
"...While the plot is simple, the beauty of this story lies in the subtlety with which the author develops the characters and in the small details that embellish the plot. The writing is top-notch and I enjoyed the way the author explores the emotions of the characters. The theme of romance is beautifully developed and I loved the gradual manner in which the connection between Oliver and Bodie builds up. The author makes it feel natural and uses suspense in a way that increases the reader’s interest in the story and the characters. Born for Leaving is a story with characters that readers quickly learn to care about; they are real and written into real-life situations. It is an emotionally rich and captivating story that is hard to put down."
K.C. Finn on Readers' Favorites wrote:
"Born for Leaving by Jude Munro is an endearing read, a contemporary romance with sophisticated characters and a well-imagined plot. Oliver has a lot to deal with. Apart from having huge debts, he is broke, and bartending doesn't bring in enough. So, he decides to take on a roommate. Renting out the spare room in his cottage won't hurt. When he replies to the ad in the Waterfront Gazette, the last thing he expects is to get himself entangled with Bodie. But sharing a home with Bodie brings more than friendship. A romance quickly develops and as it deepens, their boss gets jealous. His sinister plan to break the bond between Oliver and Bodie succeeds. Can Oliver handle the devastating consequences?
The story starts slowly, introducing the reader to the protagonist, and I was hooked on his personality as he struggles to bring out the humorous part of himself in his effort to answer the ad. The story becomes more interesting as the reader moves from page to page and each layer of each character's personality is unveiled. Even readers who are not into same-sex relationships will find it easy to relate to, even root for Jude Munro's characters, thanks to the realism infused into the writing. The crisp writing combines with a strong and consistent narrative voice to deliver an enjoyable reading experience. The characters are vulnerable and it wasn't hard for me to feel for them. Bodie has issues with his family, a background that makes him solid, the kind of character readers are keen to see evolve. The way the relationship between Oliver and his boss is written helps to strengthen the emotional conflict and moves the plot steadily forward. Born for Leaving has a good dose of pathos, beautifully-crafted scenes, and a lot of what readers look for in realistic stories."
Jim Dunaway on Amazon.com wrote:
"...Author Jude Munro has crafted an excellent work of romantic fiction that offers plenty of emotional complexity and drama for its central pairing. I especially enjoyed modern-day cowboy Bodie and the unpicking of his difficult family history. The author really works hard through every chapter to deliver fully fleshed out people with understandable motivations for their actions, whether good or bad. This makes readers more and more invested as the story goes on and grows complicated, with a killer antagonist who really puts the pressure on bringing the new relationship to breaking point. The dialogue, too, is a particular triumph, serving to help characterize the protagonists, but also deliver both humor and heartbreak with its realistic phrasing. Overall, I would definitely recommend Born for Leaving to readers looking for high quality and emotional M/M romance."
Kevin Casey on Amazon.com wrote:
"Incredible. Amazing. Awesome. Astounding. Did I mention incredible? That's just a few words to describe Born For Leaving. Not to mention engrossing.
After reading Born For Leaving I did something I've never done before. As soon as I finished reading it, I immediately turned back to page 1 and read it all over again.
At first, the characters seemed to be a little one-dimensional with not much substance. My first impression was another twink-meets-gym-bunny story. I could not have been more wrong. It didn't take me long, perhaps 5 pages into the book to discover just how strong and multi-faceted the characters are.
I've read other books where I was reading along and all of a sudden wham! The characters were almost completely different. How in the hell did that happen? I say to myself, going back several pages, even a complete chapter in order to figure out what made the characters change so quickly.
No so with Born For Leaving. Character development happened at an even and easily followed pace. Even the villains, one of whom is a real nasty piece of work whose actions are so despicable that no employee should ever be subjected to, much less forced to endure. I really wanted to jump into the story in order to 'take out the trash.' It was a necessary plot point, though, the type that can create an emotional response in the readers. It certainly did me.
There's much more I could say, but to do so would require me to give spoilers. No can do.
I can sum Born For Leaving in six short words... Buy it. Read it. Love it.
I give Born For Leaving 5 out of 5 stars and I can't recommend it highly enough, It's a book that belongs on everybody's Kindle, Nook or any other eBook reader.
I sincerely hope to see more of Ollie and Bodie, and the amazing supporting characters of Hugo, Mika, Nico, Sam, and that little scene-stealer LeeLee."
Tammy Ruggles on Reader Views wrote:
A Match Made In A Want Ad
Reviewed in the United States on July 2, 2020
"I gotta tell you I am a huge fan of Mia Kerick. Her writing is so wonderful. I am thrilled that she has branched out into adult romance as JUDE MUNRO and kept the new adult for teen readers under the Mia Kerick banner. Now let me tell you older readers BUY THIS BOOK!!!
BORN FOR LEAVING is spectacularly good... I read it in one day because I couldn’t put it down... go! Now! Jude Munro... same great writing just new name...
Oliver needs a roommate for the summer to help ends meet and Bodie needs a place to live... a match made in a want ad... but will the connection last?... will Bodie stay or continue his life of wandering and move on from what could be the best thing to ever happen to him?...
don’t wait go buy this book today... can’t wait to see what lies in store in this New England State of Mind series by Jude Munro..."
Rainbow Reader on Goodreads wrote:
“Born for Leaving (New England State of Mind Book 1),” by Jude Munro, is the perfect romance for the beach. The story centers around two male characters--Oliver and Bodie--who are loners, but seemingly destined to meet when Oliver, who is strapped for cash, places an ad in the paper seeking a roommate to share expenses. This is how he and Bodie meet. But since they are both loners, and so different from each another, how will this work out? A better question is, now that their mutual attraction has been established, do they even have a chance at a relationship, as both have a problem with commitment? This is where the plot builds and the plot thickens. Throw a jealous ex/boss into the mix, and you have a classic will they/won't they saga in your hands. The language and scenes are explicit at times, but this is, after all, a romance.
Jude Munro is obviously a terrific, talented writer, and her gift for plotting, characterization, dialogue, and suspense-building shines through, making the first in this particular series a real heartbreaker. This author has built truly believable, empathetic characters, intriguing scenarios, and situations that demand to be resolved. But will they be? You have to read the book to find out.
The thing I like best about “Born for Leaving,” and Munro's writing (and there are many things to choose from) is that she chose to make this a romance story about two realistic, human men--not just another gratuitous sex story (not that there's anything wrong with that). But this writer, and this novel, is a cut above the rest because of her choices, which makes the steamier scenes ring truer. It's nice to know you're in capable hands with gay romance, because sometimes it can come off as exploitative or pretentious. You don't have to worry about that with Munro. She knows how to tell a good story, and I suspect it wouldn't matter the genre.
All of the elements you love in a romance novel are here: Diametrically opposed characters, sexual tension, romance/love, and...I should stop before I spoil the ending. Summer reads are a dime a dozen. Some you forget about the next day. “Born for Leaving,” by Jude Munro, is one you will remember for a long time. Fans of "Brokeback Mountain" would love this book.
Evie Drae on Goodreads wrote:
"Well, I just finished that read in one single sitting when I'd already been up for over 24 hours before starting to read. If that doesn't say it all, I'm not sure if I'll be able to do it any better justice. But I'll certainly try.
This book hit me in every one of my feels. Bodie and Oliver might be two of my favorite characters I've had the pleasure of reading in quite some time. They have such delightfully unique voices—even though this is written in first-person single POV with Oliver as the MC, the dialogue and their various actions and mannerisms were so very well crafted and unique.
They both had heartbreaking backgrounds and trials and tribulations in their present lives, but Bodie broke me. Absolutely shredded my soul. I needed his HEA like there was no tomorrow, and when the black moment hit, I crumbled. I stopped breathing. I almost straight up forgot to breathe.
Overall, this is a highly, highly recommended read, and this author is being added to the tippy top of my follow list."
Lily Michaels on Goodreads wrote:
"...Where does one start when attempting to write a review for a book that changed their life? Okay, okay. Melodramatics aside, I mean it. Born for Leaving by Jude Munro hit me in a very special, emotional, and high-impact readerly spot. It was one of those books that gave me such an intense book hangover when it was over, I sought out another read as completely opposite it as possible—a psychological thriller with a lesbian lead—just to keep my mind from spiraling in circles. Because I couldn’t get this book, or its wonderful characters, off my mind."
Natural Bri on Goodreads wrote:
"...There are so many twists and turns and absolute soul-crushing moments of heartbreaking devastation when long held secrets are revealed that my review would be a book in itself to recap it all and wouldn’t even come close to doing the story justice. When I tell you that these are two broken boys just looking for love and acceptance, that is a complete and total understatement.
In the interest of full disclosure, had this story not been written so exquisitely and each and every characters created and molded with such beauty and care, the lack of CW/TW would have resulted in—at the very least—a 1 or 2 star loss on my review and, quite possibly, me even scrapping the read and returning it to the publisher with a refusal to review. When I say that Born for Leaving overcame many of my own personal readerly biases as well as my deep concerns about the absence of warnings to rank as one of my favorite reads of 2020, that is a weighty statement.
Born for Leaving is an emotional roller coaster than takes you on incredible highs and gut wrenching lows that I can’t possibly summarize and, even if I could, wouldn’t come close to being crafted as poignantly and beautifully as Ms. Munro did in the story. This is a book I can’t possibly recommend highly enough, but please keep in mind the warnings I listed above."
"Where to begin? This book, well, it is just excellent. It is written perfectly, with a certain depth and attention to detail that this type of story particularly needs. It starts with two brilliant characters, think ver opposites attract, whom are from not only different walks of life, but also whom have very different perspectives.
They are both wary of commitment, due to past heartache. They know that they should avoid one another, but the pull is beyond their control, and then they have to deal with what follows. The author gives us depth and emotion that really makes you part of this story. You love them and cry for them, when things take a turn.
Then the twist is thrown at you, and you struggle to see them apart. It is written so well, that it truly pulls at your heartstrings. Just like every page of this book, the author truly created a believe moment, and story"
Born for Leaving, like many of my romance novels was inspired by a song. "Colder Weather," by the Zac Brown Band is a gorgeous song, but these lyrics made me think and drove me to create.
Well it's a winding road
When you’re in the lost and found
You're a lover I'm a runner
We go 'round 'n 'round
And I love you, but I leave you
I don't want you, but I need you
You know it's you who calls me back here
Oh I wanna see you again
But I'm stuck in colder weather
Maybe tomorrow will be better
Can I call you then
'Cause I'm a ramblin' man
I ain't ever gonna change
I gotta gypsy soul
And I was born for leavin' (born for leavin')
What would drive a man to be a lifelong wanderer? To refuse to settle down? And so, I wrote Born for Leaving about Oliver and Bodie, two loners who reluctantly fall in love, largely thanks to forced proximity in a tiny cottage by the ocean.