Title: Cozzi Cove (Stepping Out)
Author: Joe Cosentino
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: January 23, 2015
Genre(s): Gay contemporary romance
Page Count: 216 pages
Reviewed by: Natosha
It’s time for another summer of sun, sand, suntan lotion, sandals, and Speedos on Cozzi Cove at the New Jersey Shore. Cal Cozzi’s seven bungalows are once again open for love.
This summer, sexy Cal welcomes back his brother and sister, who are confronted with people from their pasts. Connor, the maid packed with muscle and mayhem, becomes the subject of a handsome young psychologist’s study on human sexuality. Tommy, the strapping, bald and tattooed local bartender, is captivated with guest Cory Magnum, a police officer with a secret. Another guest, Bill, a disbelieving pastor, is inspired by a vision of two sexy male angels on the cove. And Cal and Michael reach a plateau in their relationship.
What secrets, humor, tragedies, mysteries, and passions lie waiting to unfold in this magical place called Cozzi Cove?
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A soaring golden orb turned the violet, pink, and tangerine sky into a canvas of blue. Early morning was Cal Cozzi’s favorite time. Treading water in the cove that had boasted his family name for generations, Cal felt as if his blood was the bay water, his flesh was the sand, and his soul was the sun. And Michael Rodgers was his heart. Michael swam over to him and wrapped his stocky arms around Cal’s neck. Cal cupped Michael’s firm bottom and squeezed him in closer. As Michael caressed Cal’s muscled back, they shared a salty wet kiss. Cal looked up at a seagull gliding to the lighthouse in the distance. He pondered having the freedom to fly away from Cozzi Cove, but there was no place he’d rather be than in the confines of his legacy with the man he loved.
Cal’s great-grandfather, Calvin Cozzi I, had built everything in the sleepy town on the New Jersey shore, including the eight bungalows on the cove. This beautiful spot was the result of sun and salt water wearing away softer rocks more quickly than the harder rocks surrounding them.
Cal’s legacy was passed down to him from his great-grandfather through his grandfather, Calvin Cozzi II, and finally by his father, Calvin Cozzi III. Cal’s father, sensing his son’s sexual orientation as a boy, had opened Cozzi Cove as a gay resort.
Though Cal had dabbled briefly as a professional football player, and then as a restaurant owner, neither was a good fit. It wasn’t until after the unfortunate death of his parents in an automobile accident that he found his true calling: managing Cozzi Cove. The previous summer, Cal had been united with his half-brother, George, an architect, and the two of them had recently completed renovations on the bungalows, expanding them to add modern amenities while maintaining their grandfather’s nautical theme.
The tip of his head only reached Cal’s chin, so Michael had to stretch up to kiss his nose. Cal’s Italian and Scottish heritage had given him height, auburn hair, emerald-green eyes, an olive complexion, a strapping build, and a wide nose, which, as noted, Michael liked to kiss. “Should we be skinny-dipping at the start of a new summer season?”
“Probably not.” Cal ran a strong hand through Michael’s chestnut hair and gazed into his exotic eyes.
“What if a guest comes early?”
“He can get his own boyfriend.” Cal pressed his tongue inside Michael’s welcoming mouth. It felt warm, and Cal wanted more. As Michael stroked Cal’s broad shoulders and round pectoral muscles, prominent from working out at Cozzi’s gym, Cal pressed his nose against Michael’s thick neck and enjoyed the scent of vanilla. Michael’s African-American and Swedish heritage awarded him smooth golden skin that Cal loved to caress. Cal thought about the eleven-year difference in their ages, how they had met when Michael, still in the closet, tried to gay bash him in an alley, and the year Michael still had left to finish college. It was illogical and improbable for Cal and Michael to be together, yet it felt incredibly right. At that moment, he couldn’t be more in love with Michael.
George Valis, wearing a violet polo shirt and white shorts that accentuated his muscular legs, stepped out of Bungalow Seven and met them at the cove. “Hey, my ex back in Maine dumped me, remember? Stop rubbing in your happiness, you two.”
“Have breakfast with us.” Michael’s dimples appeared. “Cal is making a feast.”
“And Michael is cleaning up after me.”
“As usual.” George winked at Michael.
They got out of the water and put on the terrycloth robes they’d left on a rock at the water’s edge. Cal smiled at the sight of his brother’s height and eye color, which was exactly the same as his own. Cal and George shared the same father, with George being the result of Cal Cozzi II’s infidelity. They had met for the first time last summer when George looked Cal up, and Cal couldn’t have been happier to have a brother like George. He mussed George’s dark hair affectionately. “After breakfast, I’ll pack a lunch for your ride back to Maine.”
Michael’s shoulders slumped. “Do you have to go?”
Cal put his arm around Michael, recalling the brother Michael had lost two summers ago to suicide. “Bungalow Seven is always here for George.”
“Good.” George grinned like a kid with a secret. “It looks like I’ll be staying for a while longer.”
“Yeah!” Michael gave George a hug. “Cal will make a special celebration dinner tonight.” He kissed Cal’s cheek. “My favorite is surf and turf.”
“How about I leave my turf and throw you in the surf at the main beach instead?” Cal kissed Michael’s neck and then turned to his younger brother. “What’s up, bro?”
George looked at them and giggled. “Clearly you two, just before I arrived.”
Joe Cosentino was voted 2nd Place Favorite MM Author of the Year in Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Awards. He is the author of the Cozzi Cove series: Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention/TBR Pile Favorite Book of the Month), Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward, Cozzi Cove: Stepping Out, Cozzi Cove: New Beginnings (NineStar Press); the Nicky and Noah mysteries: Drama Queen (Divine Magazine Readers’ Favorite LGBT Mystery Novel, Humorous Novel, and Contemporary Novel), Drama Muscle (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention), Drama Cruise, Drama Luau, Drama Detective (Lethe Press); the Dreamspinner Press novellas: In My Heart/An Infatuation & A Shooting Star (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention), The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland (Open Skye Book Reviews Favorite Audiobook of the Month), A Home for the Holidays; and the Jana Lane mysteries: Paper Doll, Porcelain Doll, Satin Doll, China Doll, Rag Doll (The Wild Rose Press). He has appeared in principal acting roles in film, television, and theatre, opposite stars such as Bruce Willis, Rosie O’Donnell, Nathan Lane, Holland Taylor, and Jason Robards. Joe is currently Head of the Department/Professor at a college in upstate New York, and is happily married.