We’re so pleased to welcome author Susan Roebuck to TNA today to celebrate the re-release of her novel, Perfect Score.
Thank you so much, Lisa, for hosting me here today.
They do say that your first love is the best. In my case, I think it’s my first published book that is my love.
Perfect Score was first published in 2010 and has now been re-released by Mundania Press. It is male/male romance suspense but not “steamy” at all. Perfect Score is set in the US in the 1960s. I placed the time setting there because one of the main characters, Sam (my favorite), has dyslexia and at that time, the condition was not treated as sympathetically as now. His poor schooling and upbringing has left him with a stammer.
There are many issues in this book: dyslexia, as mentioned, and pharmaceutical company corruption are just two. Here’s the blurb:
Feckless, exasperating Alex Finch is a rich, handsome and talented singer/songwriter who longs for two things: a career as a professional rock singer, and to have his love for Sam Barrowdale reciprocated. But drifter Sam’s two aims are simply to earn enough money to pay his sister’s medical bills and to hide from the world his reading/writing and speech disability. At this time the word “dyslexia” is generally unknown so to most people he’s just a “retard”. From the severe knocks life’s dealt him, Sam’s developed a tough outer coating and he has no time for a spoilt, selfish guitar player.
Despite his defects, Alex’s love for Sam never wavers and when Sam unexpectedly disappears, Alex begins a somewhat bungling quest to find him, only to discover that Sam has a fearful enemy: Alex’s powerful and influential yet sociopathic uncle.
As Alex spirals downwards towards alcoholism, many questions need answering. Just why did Alex’s evil uncle adopt him at age eleven yet deny him any affection? And what’s the mystery behind Alex’s father’s death?
Both seem to face unbeatable odds. Are they doomed to follow separate paths forever?
And here’s a couple of scenes from the third chapter when Sam (who works on Alex’s parents’ ranch and also in the local bar) meets Alex for the first time:
Sam was lounging against a fence taking a break from digging an irrigation ditch when a blue Ford Mustang swirled up to the house and skidded to a halt. A tall pale young man dressed entirely in black, with a mane of hair as black as his clothes and down to his shoulders, got out, hoisted a duffle from the vehicle and limped into the house. A shriek from Mrs. Pike and Sam assumed prodigal Alex was home.
Sam turned his attention to the warm newborn calves, stretched out like seals in the willow patch. “Make the most of it, little babies,” he murmured. “Tomorrow’ll turn icy again.” He sauntered into the barn where he contemplated a tiny nose and front feet emerging from a heifer’s straining rear.
Just before midday he went into the kitchen to inform Mr. Pike about a fourth birthing, news that brought a smile to his craggy face. Sam was about to leave when Alex wandered in and leaned against the door, blocking Sam’s exit.
“Where’s my dinner?” gummed Josh Pike who for reasons Sam couldn’t fathom always removed his teeth to eat.
“In the cow pond, where d’you think?” Alex said loudly, a cigarette balanced on his lower lip sending up wisps of smoke that forced his green eyes to squint. Sam glanced from mother to father but neither reacted to Alex’s strange response. Mrs. Pike continued broiling steak while Josh Pike sat squarely at the sticky table, one meaty hand holding a knife, and stared at Mrs. Pike’s ample rear.
Humming, Mrs. Pike placed a full plate in front of her husband, her attention on the flickering TV set.
“Here’s your poison, darling. Eat it all up now,” Alex continued in his mocking voice. Although neither elder Pike took any notice of Alex’s rudeness, Sam was reluctant to hear any more. He padded toward Alex who watched his approach with obvious amusement. When he reached the door, Sam nodded at the handle indicating he’d like to leave. Alex hesitated just a moment too long before silently stepping aside.
An hour later in the bar, Sam handed a second shot of Wild Turkey to Dr. Trillium who sat stick insect-like on a bicycle saddle stuck on a pole.
“Thanks. Not visiting the Pike Ranch so much these days, but I hear tell that all’s well up there.”
Sam swabbed down the bar with a dirty cloth and nodded.?“Josh Pike says you’re preparing new forage pastures. Impressive.” Sam stared into middle distance. “S…seeds and things.” Although
Sam smiled affably at the older man, he was tired of the questions. He drew a beer for another customer, and then folded his arms, his attention on a poker game, the players filmy like ghosts in the thick smoky atmosphere.
Trillium smacked his thin lips. “You got any orphans? Bum calves?” Sam shook his head and Trillium raised his eyebrows. “None?”
Sam shook his head again. “No breeches?”
Sam decided for politeness sake he should give the veterinary a little more attention. “They’re okay. Any C…C sections and Mr. Pike…um…would have called you.”
“Thanks very much. By the way, Mule Palmer was asking me today if I knew anyone interested in exercising one of the horses up at the Raw Pines. A three year old colt.”
Sam shook his head, but, undaunted, Trillium continued. “He’s the Raw Pines foreman, you know, been away for his annual break. There’s good stabling up there, but they’re short-handed. Only a little fella—the colt, not Mule Palmer.” He waited for Sam to acknowledge the joke. “Would you be interested?”
Sam was startled. “Me? I don’t have time…no extra time.” And feeling that was the end of the conversation, he picked up a color crayon and began marking labels on bottles he was stacking. He sensed the veterinary’s myopic eyes on him.
“I feel there’s some kind of methodology connected to what you’re doing.”
Sam nodded and held up a yellow crayon against the Miller bottles.
“Ah. I get it. Yellow for Miller, Blue for Budd, Red for Schiltz, Green for Falstaff, Orange for Canadian Club. Very pretty. A regular rainbow.”
Sam ignored the condescension, put his crayons under the counter, inspected a pot of beer nuts and removed a piece of lint. “They breed horses on Pine…Raw Pines?” He wiped his hands on his pants.
“I’m not the one to ask. I, unlike others, do not hold the privilege of being invited to enter that exclusive territory. They have their own veterinary. It’s an experimental farm.”
Sam often made his way up the creek to the ranch neighboring the Pike Ranch, and he’d seen the large herd of longhorns and the weird- looking corn that grew from seed to eighteen inches in a month. He’d also spotted seven pregnant heifers corralled separately and had been unable to identify the breed of milky-colored cattle.
By evening he’d served enough liquor to swim in; three men and two women were asleep on a pool table; he’d served a zillion lukewarm franks and beans, shouting One up! after each one, and was sick of showing dirty glasses to water when a figure emerged through the fug from the general direction of the jukebox. Jim Reeves sang. As Alex approached, Sam’s first thought was that his black leather vest and well cut black leather pants were too good for the likes of the Thud Bar, for the likes of High Falls or even the whole planet for that matter. His next thought was to wonder why Alex limped. He even had time to decide that the guy didn’t resemble either his mother or his father. Alex settled on a tractor seat next to Trillium who had returned for his evening stint.
“Evenin’ Doc.” Alex pushed his long hair out of his eyes.
“Alex.” Trillium drained his whiskey and set it down with a bang. He gave a brief nod at Sam before he quickly left the bar.
“Nice to see you too.” Alex watched the veterinary’s retreat then turned to Sam with a white smile.
“Hi. Didn’t get a chance to say hi in the kitchen, so I’ll say it now. You’re Sam.”
“Yes,” Sam acknowledged. “Wh…what’ll you have?”
“And I’m Alex.”
“I’ll just have a beer tonight.”
Sam pulled a beer, handed it over and watched as half disappeared in one gulp.
“Hear it’s not so good to get on the wrong side of you.” Alex’s voice was soft—surprising because of his size, being a good head taller than Sam and easily forty pounds heavier.
About the Author
Born and raised in the UK, but now living in Portugal, I’m a published author who is also addicted to reading beautiful books. My mind’s always a-bubble with ideas for new books.