This “Meet the Character Day” blog is part of a series examining my romance novels. In each “Behind the Scenes” blog, I talk about why I wrote the book, share my thoughts on the plot and/or characters, and reveal what I loved most (or least) about writing the book. The “Meet the Character Day” blogs are fun chats with the heroes and heroines from my romances. Warning: blogs may contain spoilers.
Hello romance lovers! Today we’re chatting with Everett Kinkade, the hero from A Secret Match by Kelli A. Wilkins. Let’s see what’s on Everett’s mind…
Greetings, Everett. A Secret Match is a contemporary gay romance set in the world of professional wrestling. Can you tell us a bit more about the book?
Absolutely, and please, call me Ev. Kelli got the idea for this story while she was writing A Deceptive Match, her straight romance that also takes place in the wrestling world. I was a secondary character in that book. I helped the hero (Vin) and the heroine (Danni) get together. Vin is my best friend, so I acted as a soundboard/matchmaker for him and Danni.
While Kelli was writing A Deceptive Match, she knew I needed my own book, but she wasn’t exactly sure what the storyline would be. Then one day on the way to work, the majority of the plot popped into her head, and she was off and writing. She says I’m one of those characters who tries to take over a book. (Laughs) And why not? I’m charming, and witty, and handsome. Who wouldn’t want to read about my life?
A big part of the novel centers around me dealing (or rather, not dealing) with my sexuality and my (un)willingness to be open about who I really am. My longtime partner, Josh, is tired of being kept in my “walk-in closet” and wants me to come out (at least to friends and family) but I’m concerned about losing my job. (Will fans accept a gay wrestler?) Part of me wanted to keep everything just as it was because that’s safe. But another part of me longed to stop pretending and hiding the truth.
Do you sometimes want to strangle Kelli? What sort of upsetting things did Kelli do to you in the book?
At times, yes! The book starts off great, but within the first two scenes, all hell breaks loose. Josh tells me he’s tired of being my little secret, and wants me to come out. That caught me off guard and it was something I was not at all comfortable with. (Kelli loves jumping right into conflict!) So, Josh gave me an ultimatum. (Sighs) Things didn’t go well for us, and I was devastated. Only one person knew about Josh, so I turned to my best friend, Vin, for help and advice.
Over the course of the book I had to come to terms with accepting myself for who I am, what I am, and how I’m perceived by the wrestling fans, my coworkers, and everyone else. Being an openly gay wrestler was something I didn’t sign up for, and Kelli threw me into a lion’s den! I did eventually come out—not once, but twice!—on live TV. That changed everything and took the story in a whole new direction.
Looking back, I realize it was for the best and Kelli knew exactly what she was doing, but at the time, I was physically hurt, emotionally wrecked, confused, and pretty pissed. Vin and Danni helped me through all the turmoil, and Josh stood by me when I needed him most.
What is it about Josh that makes you crazy in a good way?
He likes to drive me nuts on purpose. He enjoys teasing me and pushing my buttons and my boundaries. But it’s always in a positive way, for my own good. He’ll deliberately force me to come out of my shell and open up to new people and new experiences. And I love him dearly for it.
Was there an instant attraction between you?
Yes and no. I met Josh at the gym—but it wasn’t a gym hookup. I noticed him out of the corner of my eye and thought he was cute, but I was so deep in the closet I didn’t dare approach him. Josh asked me for training advice and we got to know each other in a casual way. Then one night he asked me if I wanted to grab a bite to eat, and the rest is… in the book! (Laughs)
Kelli did an excellent job of working my first meeting (and first kiss) with Josh into the book. They are some of the most sensual, tender scenes she’s ever written. I was incredibly nervous and unsure of myself, and Josh was there to put me at ease.
Tell us a little bit about your world. What are your greatest challenges?
I’m on the road wrestling about 300 days a year, so one of my greatest challenges is maintaining my relationship with Josh. We don’t see each other all the time, but we’re constantly talking on the phone and sharing photos. When Josh has time off from work he comes on the road with me and we hang out before my matches. It’s not easy (okay, it’s almost impossible) to have a “normal” home life, but we do the best we can—and we make the most of the time we have together.
Describe yourself in four words.
Sensitive, strong, sexy, wiseass.
Do readers need to be wresting fans to enjoy A Secret Match?
Nope! Wrestling is the setting or backdrop to the main romance. Kelli wrote the story in a way to help non-wrestling fans understand the moves, terminology, and action. So they won’t be confused or lost.
Kelli says the only difference between A Secret Match and other contemporary gay romances is that the story is about wrestlers instead of more “traditional” characters, like police officers, Navy SEALs, FBI agents etc. She could have written a similar gay romance about another sport (like hockey or basketball) but she chose wrestling because she’s been a life-long wrestling fan, and it’s what she knows and loves.
Okay, tell us the truth. Are the characters in the book based on real wrestlers?
Nope. Kelli gets asked this all the time, and I’m here to say emphatically none of the characters in the book are based 100% on any one wrestler. Kelli drew upon her years of wrestling knowledge and took bits and pieces of different wrestlers to create the people in the story. I’m drawn from at least five different guys. Even Nick August isn’t completely based on a famous “billionaire” wrestling promoter and owner. He’s close, but even he’s not 100%.
What do you and Kelli think of wrestling’s popularity these days?
We’re loving it! The wrestling world is getting lots of exposure and is certainly part of popular culture. There has been a recent wave of wrestler biographies, crossover shows featuring wrestlers, and wrestlers guest-starring on reality shows. Maybe we started a trend, because now people want to see behind-the-scenes shows of what goes on in the ring, out of the ring, and what happens backstage that fans never know. It’s an interesting business, for sure.
Anything else you want to add?
Thanks for letting me share my thoughts with everyone. I’m grateful to Kelli for sharing my story with the world. And I’m pleased to help her promote it during Pride month. A Secret Match isn’t just a “wrestling story” or a typical romance loaded with sex scenes, it’s a sensitive, coming out story that resonates with all types of romance readers; straight, gay, or whatever.
A Secret Match is a fantastic story, and it’s Kelli’s favorite gay romance. Anyone who likes a good love story/romance should read the book. And you don’t have to be a wrestling fan to enjoy the book. But you might become one after you read it! (Laughs)
If gay romances aren’t your thing, I urge you to check out the book that introduced me to readers, A Deceptive Match. It’s a hot romance and a fun behind-the-scenes look into the world of professional wrestling.
Kelli has written romances in all genres—historical, paranormal, contemporary, gay, and straight—but they all have two things in common—they’re all unique stories, and they’re anything but boring! I hope you’ll check them out. I plan on reading her other two gay romances, Four Days with Jack and Killer in Wolf’s Clothing.
I invite readers to catch up on all of Kelli’s romances and visit her on social media. If you missed a blog, you can catch up here: https://www.kelliwilkins.com/blog
A SECRET MATCH
Everett Kinkade is a world-famous professional wrestler and the sexy heartthrob of millions of adoring female fans. But Ev has a secret he doesn’t dare share with anyone. He’s gay.
After years of being Ev’s secret lover, Josh is tired of hiding in the shadows and wants Ev to openly acknowledge their relationship. Coming out is the last thing Ev wants and fears it will ruin his career.
One night in a moment of truth, Everett outs himself on live TV. There’s no going back, and his announcement sparks a firestorm of problems—both personally and professionally. He’s forced to come to grips with who he really is while facing down a manipulative boss and a tag-team out to destroy him.
Torn between living a lie and losing the man he loves, Ev has risked everything… can he find a balance between his career and his heart?
Order A Secret Match here:
All other platforms: https://books2read.com/u/md6rZb
Read reviews here: https://www.kelliwilkins.com/a-secret-match
Don’t miss the book that introduced Ev to fans… A Deceptive Match:
All other platforms: https://www.books2read.com/u/3RB96j
Read reviews here: https://www.kelliwilkins.com/a-deceptive-match
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kelli A. Wilkins is an award-winning author who has published more than 100 short stories, 20 romance novels, 7 non-fiction books, and 3 horror ebooks. Her romances span many genres and settings, and she likes to scare readers with her horror stories.
She released Journaling Every Week: 52 Topics to Get You Writing in early 2021. This fun and innovative guide to journaling is filled with hundreds of thought-provoking prompts designed to get you writing about your feelings and emotions.
In 2020 Kelli published Love, Lies & Redemption, a western romance set in 1877 Nebraska. This novel blends a sensual love story with mystery and danger.
Visit her website/blog www.KelliWilkins.com for a full title list and to find all her social media links.