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Gabbi Grey: Why I Chose a Polarizing Subject for my Story (Contest)
Wednesday, September 7th, 2022

I love writing for my publisher, The Wild Rose Press.  When they put out a call for erotic stories set in exotic locales for their hottest line, I was all-in.  I’d written a story for them earlier that I set in my favorite city in the world — Vancouver, Canada.  When my editor confirmed that Canada was considered an ‘exotic location’, I knew where I was going to set my story.

Now, I’m Canadian.  Aside from politics, guns, and a few other diverging issues, we are a lot like Americans — we consume much of the same media, face the same climate change threats, and speak the same language (although the accents vary — and I threw in a character from my ancestral province of Newfoundland for that extra Canadian diversity).

Anyway, I had my location.  I brought in a couple of characters from a previous book (don’t worry, this new book is a complete stand-alone), then I needed a scenario.  In a moment of solemn reflection, I realized the story I wanted to tell — the story I needed to tell.  I had a studio executive from Hollywood heading to Vancouver to wait until a crisis blows over.  My previous story set in Vancouver involved the movie business (a huge industry up here in Canada), so I had everything I needed. Oh, I needed another hero.  Enter a genuinely nice naïve young man, making his way in a world he doesn’t always understand.

Okay, I named him Seamus (a good Newfie name).  I named my studio executive Frank and called the book Vanishing in Vancouver.  I wrote the book, felt good about it, and sent it off to my editor.

The editorial team came back with a few changes.  Like the title.  It didn’t really say sexy.  This was supposed to be a story about an American coming to a foreign land and having a sexy affair — the series is, after all, named Passport to Pleasure.  (Other titles included Sorrento Seduction, Steamy Cairo Nights, Hot Highland Fling, Getting Lucky in London, and Pacific Persuasion. Oh, and also, Frank didn’t scream hero to them.

I wracked my brains. Then pulled in a couple of friends.  One suggested Valentino — named after Rudolph Valentino, the sexy Hollywood actor.  And the character could be nicknamed Val.  Hence Valentino in Vancouver.

The editorial team loved it, and the project got the green light.

I worried about the sensitive nature of the topic, and a friend who was reading the book for me expressed concerns after the first chapter.  In fact, she wrote to me and asked if she was safe to proceed.  I assured her I’d never do anything against my own moral code — and this is a gay romance, not a political statement.

But can a book be both?

I’m inviting readers to take a gander through the book.  Go in with an open mind.  This is one take on a very real issue facing workplaces today. (And other scenarios as well, but I went with work to set my story.)

And I’d love to hear from you.  For a chance to win a $5US Amazon Gift Card, can you think of a book that tackled a tough topic?  A book that resonated with you? One you think the world should read?  Feel free to comment, and a random commenter will receive the GC.

Valentino in Vancouver

Hiding out may be the hottest thing he’s ever done.


When I need to get away from the heat in Los Angeles, I head to a friend’s house in Vancouver, Canada.  I just need to hide out. Oh, and that cute redhead? A mighty fine way to pass the time. Will this fling become something more by the time things cool down?


When I’m invited to my boss’s house for a party, I’m thrilled.  And nervous. Then I meet a guy who helps me relax. Even when I find out who he is, I keep coming back for more. Only it turns out I might be way over my head. Can I get out before I fall for him?

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About the Author

USA Today Bestselling author Gabbi Grey lives in beautiful British Columbia where her fur baby chin-poo keeps her safe from the nasty neighborhood squirrels. Working for the government by day, she spends her early mornings writing contemporary, gay, sweet, and dark erotic BDSM romances. While she firmly believes in happy endings, she also believes in making her characters suffer before finding their true love. She also writes m/f romances as Gabbi Black and Gabbi Powell.

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12 comments to “Gabbi Grey: Why I Chose a Polarizing Subject for my Story (Contest)”

  1. Gabbi
    · September 7th, 2022 at 8:20 am · Link

    Thank you for hosting me! Love, Gabbi

  2. Randall J
    · September 7th, 2022 at 8:33 am · Link

    I loved this story… I recognized it’s controversial to present a character who is unjustly accused of inappropriate behavior since the Me Too movement became something that rarely allowed for innocence… These characters were amazing and I loved the story!!

    One ‘tough topic’ book I recall is Point of Contact by Melanie Hansen… single gay dad father loses his only son to the conflict in Afghanistan… lost in his grief he finds common ground, and more, with his son’s best friend from his unit… when I read the blurb, I thought, how is she going to pull this off? One of the most amazing stories I’ve ever read, though I’ve never ugly cried more when reading a romance novel.

  3. Kaje
    · September 7th, 2022 at 9:42 am · Link

    Gay romance books by their nature carry politics with them, since politicians still use LGBTQ people as political scapegoats and use their lives as pawns. So they’re a natural venue to also address other topics and injustices.

    Although I have to chuckle at Canada being an exotic location. Beautiful, admirable, and hey-I-want-to-escape-there? Yes.

    One “tough topic” book I enjoyed was LA Witt’s “Aftermath” which puts cis male impotence front and center in a romance.

  4. Lindsay
    · September 7th, 2022 at 11:06 am · Link

    I must read low-angst LGBTQ+ books because I’m having a hard time thinking of a tough-topic one. An MF I love is Sarina Bowen’s Steadfast, which has a character dealing with the recovery from his heroin addiction.

  5. Jennifer Beyer
    · September 7th, 2022 at 1:32 pm · Link

    I love the book One Call Away by Felice Stevens. I don’t know if most would consider it a sensitive topic but one man is recovering from a brutal attack and the other is a closeted gay man that is part of an Orthodox Jewish family. I remember thinking that I had never run across a story that dealt with someone that is an Orthodox Jew even though I’ve known many in my life. It was a beautiful portrayal of family and love.

  6. Colleen C
    · September 7th, 2022 at 4:54 pm · Link

    I have read a wide variety of books that deal with tough topics… some show them more in depth than others…

  7. Mary Preston
    · September 7th, 2022 at 6:16 pm · Link

    I think that books should highlight tough subjects. I know I enjoy reading them and gain more insight. No particular titles come immediately to mind.

  8. flchen1
    · September 8th, 2022 at 12:30 am · Link

    I really enjoyed Valentino in Vancouver—in thought you tackled the topic very well, and made it real in a way that wasn’t sensationalizing. As for other books that handle tough topics, I think this shouldn’t really be one, but I find that more books recently do portray well-written characters who have mental health concerns in a very realistic and positive light, and I really appreciate the much wider range of representation! I think it truly helps destigmatize mental health care and also just showing people in all their different and still glorious ways.

  9. bn100
    · September 8th, 2022 at 6:28 pm · Link

    can’t think of any

  10. Mary McCoy
    · September 10th, 2022 at 10:09 am · Link

    I know I have read and enjoyed plenty, but what popped into my head was actually a series by Mary Balogh. The Survivor’s Club is a band of veterans or survivors of the Napoleonic War who were brought together to heal and support each other by an older man who lost his son followed by his wife due to the war. They came to him all with different types of wounds and injuries and in their three years healing, they became closer than many families. Each book in the series takes a different survivor and tells his or her (yes, there is one lady of the group) story.

  11. ButtonsMom2003
    · September 12th, 2022 at 1:56 am · Link

    I loved Valentino in Vancouver. I know I’ve read a lot of books that tackle tough topics but I’m terrible at recalling titles as I read way too many books to keep them all in my head. LOL

  12. Katherine Anderson
    · September 17th, 2022 at 10:54 pm · Link

    I love books that highligh tough subjects, but they must be researched and written true to reality…..too many times its used as an attention grabber or loom I’m being inclusive and not handled respectful at all

Comments are closed.