By Kate McMurray
If you’re familiar with my work, you may have guessed that I’m a total sucker for the friends-to-lovers and second-chance romance tropes. I particularly like stories in which two people who knew each other as children realize something new about each other as adults.
The Boy Next Door is a riff on this theme in some ways. Jase and Lowell were childhood friends who grew apart as teenagers. At the start of the novel, they haven’t seen each other in sixteen years.
But think about your childhood best friend. Maybe you’re still in touch with that person, or maybe that person is just a fond memory, but we carry artifacts with us. (For example, I just moved, and recently unpacked a box that contains photo albums stuffed full of pictures of me and my friends in high school and college. Some of those people I’m still in touch with, some are just Facebook followers, some I’ve lost complete track of.) I think there’s a peculiar intimacy you have with a childhood best friend, too, a close friendship that only exists when we’re a certain age.
So The Boy Next Door is the story of what happens when two childhood best friends reconnect as adults. They’re basically strangers, but they have a shared history: they come from the same place, had common interests as children, have something between them that attracted each other long ago. They have a shorthand but have to get to know each other again. Things are complicated by the fact that Lowell had a crush on Jase when they were teenagers and Jase, well, he kind of has a crush on Lowell now. It’s a relationship that has the potential to blossom into something beautiful, but of course, there are complications, including the fact that Jase is so very far in the closet.
Life is full of surprises and, with luck, second chances.
After his father’s death, Lowell leaves the big city to help his sick mother in the conservative small town where he grew up. He’s shocked to find himself living next to none other than his childhood friend Jase. Lowell always had a crush on Jase, and the man has only gotten more attractive with age. Unfortunately Jase is straight, now divorced, and raising his six-year-old daughter. It’s nice to reconnect, but Lowell doesn’t see a chance for anything beyond friendship.
Until a night out together changes everything.
Jase can’t fight his growing feelings for Lowell, and he doesn’t want to give up the happy future they could have. But his ex-wife issues an ultimatum: he must keep his homosexuality secret or she’ll revoke his custody of their daughter, Layla. Now Jase faces an impossible choice: Lowell and the love he’s always wanted, or his daughter.
Kate McMurray is an award-winning romance author and an unabashed romance fan. When she’s not writing, she works as a nonfiction editor, dabbles in various crafts, and is maybe a tiny bit obsessed with baseball. She has served as President of Rainbow Romance Writers and is currently the president of the New York City chapter of RWA. She lives in Brooklyn, NY.