Title: Cross To Bare
Author: Susan Mac Nicol
Series: Men of London #5
Release Date: November 10th 2015
Genre: MM Contemporary Romance
Tough in business but romantic at heart, fashion designer Lenny James isn’t hiding his masculinity behind his super successful female alter ego, but a vulnerability that only handsome financier Brook Hunter will be man enough to reveal…and worship.
TWO OF A KIND
It’s amazing what a little mascara and lipstick, a blonde wig, false boobs, and top-notch female fashion can hide. Not that Lenny James is hiding his masculinity. He uses his normal voice when he’s Laverne, and he’s not particularly camp as a man. His reasons for creating his alter ego are locked deep in his past. He is who he is: tough in business, and a romantic at heart. What he’s hiding is vulnerability. He wants a man to accept both sides of him.
Gorgeous, commanding, and dark as sin, Brook Hunter meets Lenny and knows nothing about Laverne until fate pushes her into his path. Cross-dressing is as far from Brook’s reality as fashion is from his world of diplomacy and high finance. Understanding and truth take time, and trust doesn’t come easy. But Brook is about to show Lenny that there are no sides to true love, just the place where they meet in the middle.
Throughout the Men of London series, Susan Mac Nicol has created male characters who are loving, special and touch our hearts. Cross To Bare is no different, but by her own admission Susan Mac Nicol has never written a story like this one before. For a start, this is a romance shared between three people, yet it is not a ménage relationship.
Lenny is the caterpillar to Laverne’s butterfly. This is not to say that Lenny is not beautiful in his own way; in fact he is sexy, warm, intelligent and passionate but his alter-ego Laverne shines just a little bit brighter.
Cross-dressing is a delicate subject which many of us have preconceptions about and misunderstand. I know for a fact that Susan Mac Nicol consulted someone with personal experience – and this shows throughout the story. We find it easier to reconcile the personalities of Lenny and Laverne because Susan Mac Nicol ensures we understand Lenny’s reasoning behind how he lives, without assuming that he is unhappy as a man.
“I am transvestite. I wear women’s clothing and have a whole, different persona when I do. That doesn’t mean I’m going to run out and get a va-jay-jay, or have boob implants. I love being a man.”
Although Laverne does play the drag-queen role, in which her humorous side is celebrated, Susan Mac Nicol also shows her to be a tough and hard-working businesswoman, who is fantastic at her job.
Lenny and Laverne are both strong personalities but without Brook Hunter Cross To Bare would not be the story it is. Brook may not have the flamboyance of Leslie, the stubbornness of Draven, or the emotional intensity of Tate, but his development has clearly been well thought through by Susan Mac Nicol, allowing us to deeply connect with him.
We witness Brook undertake a journey. We never doubt his feelings for Lenny, but wonder how, or if, he will accept Laverne. This is one of the main reasons why the story is so touching and emotional.
Cross To Bare has so much more – including cameos from all of our favourite Men of London characters, particularly Leslie. The story takes us into the cut-throat world of fashion where we see betrayal and cheating. Cross To Bare has some truly heart-warming and hilarious moments and for me, Susan Mac Nicol can do no wrong!
We welcome Laverne Debussy-Smith to All in One Place
Me: Thank you for meeting with me Laverne. I love your shoes!
Laverne nods head regally, but she has a wicked sparkle in her eye.
Laverne: “Thank you, chicken. I’m rather partial to them myself. They’ve been used in some interesting…positions.”
Laverne winks at me and I feel myself flush.
Me: Wonderful, let’s get started on the questions then.
As a businesswoman could you ever see yourself taking over Alan Sugar’s role on The Apprentice?
Laverne: “Oh, my God, no. That man is one nasty piece of work and I have no intention of aspiring to be such an a-hole. However, give me a bevy of naked men parading around trying to sell me their new business ideas on fashion and I might consider having my own show. ‘Laverne Does Britain’, how’s that for a title?
Me: Have you and Brook had any more moments like that backstage at Club Delish?
Laverne fans herself but that naughty twinkle in her eyes is still there.
Laverne: “How on earth did you hear about that -were there hidden cameras in that damn room? I wouldn’t put it past that cheeky Ryan to have those to record his own dalliances in there with the delicious Mango. I’d pay to see those snippets…but darling, don’t you know a lady never kisses and tells?”
She blows a kiss at me, like Marilyn Monroe. I feel oddly privileged to have been treated to one of them.
Me: Have you met Brook’s parents yet?
Laverne: Oh God, yes. It was the most nerve wracking experience of my life. I was throwing up for two days before we went there. I shouldn’t have worried. Dianne and Harry were absolutely charming and I can see where Brook gets his poise and good looks from. I made a bit of a fool myself over the snacks but then I’m used to ribs in a bucket, not that fancy cuisine they like to serve.
Me:What is the best piece of advice Leslie has ever given to you?
Laverne: “Ahh, my favourite little chicken. “ Laverne sighs fondly. “He told me to get my head out of my arse and consider following the path of true love.” Laverne grins. “That wasn’t quite how it turned out, from my side anyway, but it all worked out for the best. Of course, that meeting in my office added five years onto my life, it was one of the most surreal experiences ever. And I’ve had a few of those.”
Me:Do you have any New Year’s resolutions for 2016?
Laverne rolls her eyes. “Sweetheart, no one sticks to those bloody things. The minute the first week of January is over, if not sooner, everyone goes back to their old tricks and all good intentions are forgotten”She smirks. “And I’m not one for good intentions. I prefer the bad kind.”
About the Author
Susan Mac Nicol is a self-confessed bookaholic, an avid watcher of videos of sexy pole dancing men, geek and nerd and in love with her Smartphone. She is never happier than when sitting scribbling down words and making two men fall in love.
In an ideal world, Susan Mac Nicol would be Queen of England and banish all the bad people to the Never Never Lands of Wherever -Who Cares. As that’s never going to happen, she contents herself with writing her HEA stories and pretending, that just for a little while, good things happen to good people.
Sue is a member of Romance Writers of America and Romantic Novelists Association in the UK. She lives in the quaint village of Bocking in Essex, set in the countryside and not far from the sea should she get the yen to eat crab or oysters on the Cromer Pier.