Book Title: Last Call in Wonderland
Author: Rob Browatzke
Cover Artist: Alexandria Corza
Release Date: August 4, 2019
Genre/s: Contemporary gay fiction
Length: 62000 words/330 pages
It is a standalone story.
Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited
Last Call Is Coming
Wonderland is the hottest club in River City, but it’s time to close. It’s a different world now, and club owner Chester doesn’t see Wonderland having a place in it. What will that mean for resident bartender and hotty bottom Brandon Sweet? Or for headliner, the Queen of Hearts? Or customers like Jesse and Colton, whose open relationship and threeways are the stuff of legend? This group of friends navigate the changes in their lives until one night when everything changes for good.
Brandon Sweet’s first thought on waking up was this isn’t my room.
His second thought was oh god, who is this?
He rolled over, facing away from the stranger next to him, in this strange bed in a strange room. He hadn’t even had that much to drink really. At least, not compared to a weekend night.
It’s the tequila, he thought. I need to stop with the tequila.
“Morning,” the twink next to him said with a moan.
Brandon rolled back over and took him in: brown curls and blue eyes and a smooth slender torso with a whisp of hair on abs that disappeared into the white sheets tangled around his waist. Whoever he was, he was certainly Brandon’s type.
“Morning,” Brandon said, sitting up in bed, letting the sheet drop to his lap. He looked down at his own body, comparing it to the twink beside him. Not bad, for thirty-one, but oh, to be twenty-one again! When he was twenty-one, he could’ve handled twice the tequila he’d had last night, and woken with half the headache. He knew he could have, because he had done just that. Week in, week out, for a decade.
Too early for that train of thought, he told himself.
“I had a really good time last night,” Twink said.
“Me too, me too. Hey, where’s my phone?” He looked on the floor for his clothes.
“Other room. You stripped off as soon as we got here,” Twink said with a smile. “So hot.”
“Hey, what can I say? I know what I want.” Don’t know your name, mind you, but I do remember how badly I wanted to get laid.
He did love a good Thursday night fuck.
“I can’t believe I finally got to fuck THE Brandon Sweet.”
Brandon smiled at him as he stood up. “Hope it was everything you expected.”
Twink reached across the bed to run his hand over Brandon’s abs. “And more!”
Brandon smiled again. “I’m going to get dressed then. Work night.”
“I’ll walk you out.” The twink stood up and yes, Brandon remembered that impressive appendage. Young, hung, and hard – check, check, check.
Had they gone to Brandon’s last night, if he’d woken up with home turf comfort, he’d be pushing Twink back into the bed and climbing aboard to go again. Here though, in a room he didn’t know, with a guy he didn’t know, he suddenly felt vulnerable.
Once he’d slid back into underwear and jeans, it was a bit better. But his phone had 3% power, 32 notifications and it was halfway through the afternoon. He had to get home.
“Hey, my phone’s dead. Can you call an Uber for me?” He hated to ask but…
“Really?” Twink asked. “You said last night you only live a couple blocks away.”
That rang no bells, but Brandon was professional. “Oh yeah, I remember now,” he said, pulling his shirt over his head. “Will you be out later?”
“It’s Friday,” Twink said. “Of course.”
As Twink walked him to the door, Brandon took in the apartment, trying to find something to jog his memory. It was simple, sparse, and wholly unfamiliar. Luckily, as he bent down to tie his Converse, he happened to glance at the fridge, where a photo radar ticket was held by a magnet. With his name in black and white.
“Ok, well, I’ll see you later then, Billy,” he said.
Twink laughed. “You don’t know my name, do you?” he asked. “Billy’s my roommate.”
Fuck. Brandon swallowed and smiled. “Sorry. Tequila. What was it again?”
“Derek.” Twink grabbed Brandon by the belt and pulled him closer, taking his hand and guiding it down. “You’ll remember this at least,” he said.
Brandon smiled again, kissed Derek’s cheek, and bolted out the door.
from Rob Browatzke
Behind the Scenes with the Cast
(Warning: contains spoilers)
- Brandon Sweet is the first character we meet in Last Call (LCiW). We’d already seen him in both Wonderland and Through the Mirrorball (TM) but this is the first time we get to get inside his head. He’s a beautiful bartender, that much we already knew, but this is the first we learn that sometimes, he feels that’s all he is. Even though he is very sex-positive, he is looking for love. Brandon’s type is simple: hung, smooth-bodied twinks. Something that didn’t really make into the final edition of LCiW is Brandon’s concern that he’s aging out of that demographic and what will that mean for his sex life? Maybe though, the romance he finds in this book means he won’t need to worry about that just yet. (Yes, Brandon is based on a real bartender, and yes, that bartender was beautiful).
- Chester Macdonald is next to get introduced. Readers of the first two books hadn’t seen Chess before, but really, could there be anything Wonderland without a Chesire grin? Chester is the owner of Wonderland, a club he had ran with his now-deceased husband Jack. Grief over Jack’s death isn’t as raw as it was years ago when Jack passed, but it is something Chess carries with him constantly. He’s certainly the oldest character I’ve written so far, and has seen so many changes in his life, in the queer community, etc. It’s his own failing health that makes him decide to close down the bar though.
- Jesse Sterling comes next. Jesse and his boyfriend, Colton, are Wonderland’s WonderTwins. They love sex, with each other and with the random partners they add to the mix. It seems there are few in Wonderland who haven’t, at some point, been one of those randoms. Jesse loves sex, but what he realizes in LCiW, is that he loves Colton more. Open relationships are increasingly common, for couples of all orientations, but navigating them is just as tricky as anything monogamous. Wonderland is very much their home away from home, as gay bars are to so many.
- No queer club would be complete without a drag queen, and Wonderland fills that role with their Queen of Hearts, Aaron Matthews. Aaron was almost the villain of the piece when I was writing Wonderland, but the chemistry he had with his ex, Alex (that book’s lead character), changed course. Now, Aaron is a proud drag queen, but one who has sometimes sacrificed love for his art. With the news of Wonderland’s pending closure, he’s forced to look at his life and where he wants it to go. Can anything compete with the glow of the spotlight and the deafening applause though?
- Steven Thompson was the “damsel in distress” of the first two books. We didn’t get to see much of him. Steven being missing was the catalyst for all of the action in W. We got to see him with Alex a lot more in TM, but we didn’t get to see how everything that had happened to them had affected him. Here, we do, although briefly. There were things Steven had to say, but for the most part, LCiW is the story of Brandon, Chess, Jesse, and Aaron.
- What of Alex Lewison though? He was the painfully and frustratingly flawed main character of the first two books. I was pretty done with his story when I finished TM. He deserved a happy ending at that point, and this book was born out of the other people in his life and the chance to explore their stories. He almost didn’t get that happy ending here. The first drafts of LCiW, Alex’s fate was very different than what it ended up being. You can maybe get a hint of what that fate was, in the Steven POV chapters, but if you’ve been with Alex for the whole journey down the rabbit hole, I hope you’ll agree that anything less than survival would have been needlessly cruel here.
- There are other characters in the books of course, minor but no less wonderful: the Hatter with his music and millinery; the Caterpillar with his drugs; the Walrus, whose friendship with Jesse is truly the pearl in the oyster for him. They’re here, in LCiW, just as they were in the other two books. Now, they’re joined by Lucy Lewd, a new queen to the scene who challenges Aaron’s spot on stage; by Monty, a silver fox who catches the twins’ attention on the dance floor one night; by the Dormouse, who watches silently from the darkness and feeds on his own rage; by Derek and Billy and Oliver and Lucas and Blake and Keith and so many other boys in the bar. The paths of all these people cross and cross again, most often in Wonderland. Like so many gay bars, Wonderland is a sanctuary where the woes and griefs of the outside world can fade away. At the gay bar, when the music has your soaring and the lights have you glowing, everything can feel so perfect. This book forces the question: what happens when that perfection is shattered?
About the Author
Rob Browatzke has been writing for as long as he can remember, and is pretty darn excited for someone else to be reading his stuff finally! When it comes to gay bars and booze and drugs and drama, he knows what he’s talking about. He came out in the mid-90s, and liquor and drama went hand in hand. He has 20+ years of experience working in gay clubs in Edmonton, Alberta, and his current Wonderlounge is every bit as amazing as Alex’s Wonderland. Rob is now 8+ years clean and sober, although there’s still a bit of drama once in a while, for old times’ sake.
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