Book Title: Fauxmance in the Falls
Author: J.E. Birk
Publisher: Maple Mountains Press
Cover Artist: Cate Ashwood
Release Date: April 20, 2023
Genres: Contemporary M/M Romance, small town romance
Tropes: Fake relationship, small town, age gap, alpha doctor, grumpy/sunshine
Themes: Redemption, coming out, found families
Heat Rating: 4 flames
Length: Approx. 92 000 words and 331 pages
It’s the first book in the series and does not end on a cliffhanger.
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Never date your dream doctor
I'm here to destroy this town. How did I end up in a fake relationship with its hero?
I've spent my life proving to my grandpa and dad that I'm more than just the Lewis family mistake. So when Grandpa sends me to Devon Falls, VT to take some ridiculous leaf festival to court, I head straight there and get to work.
But Dr. Jack Lancer keeps getting in my way.
He's everywhere. Helping me out with my migraines, making me dinner, insisting people be nice to me even though I’m the enemy. Who is this guy? The next thing I know I'm pretending to be Jack's boyfriend to get him out of a bind. I swear he's putting kindness pills in my food or something.
Jack thinks he can fix me the same way he fixes everyone else. But I'm not broken. This podunk town will be when I'm done with it, though. And Jack? Well, he's about to learn the meaning of the term "collateral damage." Because I'll do anything to win this case and end this festival.
Even if it means losing something that feels an awful lot like love.
Fauxmance in the Falls is an age-gap romance featuring a small town full of quirks, a grumpy lawyer and a charming physician, a fake relationship gone wild, some inappropriate use of a doctor’s office, and a healthy mix of humor and angst. It stars Benson Lewis, who first appeared in the book Counterpoint.
Benson stands before us, looking as wrecked as I could ever imagine seeing him. He’s barely standing upright, and there are dark circles surrounding his sagging eyes. He’s wearing a wrinkled pair of jogging pants and a shirt that looks like he’s sweated through it, and his facial expression screams of absolute misery. I simultaneously feel extremely guilty for knocking on his door and extremely glad that I did. “Benson,” I say softly. “Migraine?”
He nods, immediately wincing at the head motion. And that tiny little movement is all the cue I need to start taking charge.
“Elijah, I need you to run to the drug store,” I tell him quietly. I list off a series of items that Benson likely needs.
“Be right back,” Elijah whispers, though I never warned him about being quiet. He’s far more astute than his grandparents give him credit for. He runs off down the hall and I step into Benson’s space, examining him with my eyes. “How long?” I ask.
“Since the Thai restaurant.”
Shit. Almost twenty-four hours, then. “Have you taken anything?”
“Just aspirin.” He winces at the ray of light peeking around the door from the hallway. “Don’t have anything else,” he mumbles. I’m going to make sure we correct that the second he’s well enough for conversation. But right now, all I want to do is make him feel better.
“Okay,” I tell him gently. “We’ll fix it, Benson. I’ve got you. You’re not on your own anymore.”
He stares at me, squinting, and I notice his eyes are wet. “I’m really glad you’re here,” he says hoarsely.
I startle slightly. I know Benson well enough by now to know those probably aren’t words he says often.
I guide him gently into the apartment, which is a small studio with a double bed in one corner and a combination kitchen/living room taking up most of the space. The curtains are closed tightly. They’re mostly light-blocking, at least. I surprise him, I think, when I guide him over to the sofa and help him lay down there. “I’m going to get you some water and change your sheets,” I whisper. “Have you been able to keep food down?”
He shakes his head slightly.
“Well, I sent Elijah for applesauce and electrolytes. We’ll see if we can fix that.” I can feel his eyes track me as I make use of what his small space has to offer. I find a glass of water and help him sit up long enough to take a few sips. When he shakes his head at me, I don’t push for him to drink more. I find clean sheets and quickly make his bed, then grab some sweatpants and a Burlington U Law shirt from his dresser. “C’mon,” I urge him. “Let’s get you into some more comfortable clothes.”
He holds onto my shoulders as I help him step out of his pants. I look away to give him as much privacy as possible, but Benson draws my attention back to him when he says, “this isn’t really how I envisioned you getting in my pants for the first time.”
The corners of his lips are turned up in a hint of a wry grin, and my heart speeds up. Has he really had those thoughts too? Now is not the time for that conversation, unfortunately. “Me either,” I tell him, keeping things light as I help him into the fresh pants and shirt.
I change the sheets on the bed and get him settled into it before I dampen a washcloth with cool water. Some migraine patients are sensitive to any kind of touch when they have episodes like this, but Benson sighs with happiness when I lay the cloth across his forehead.
I sit down gently on the side of his bed. “When Elijah gets back we’ll try food and more water,” I tell him. “Get excited for that applesauce.”
Benson grimaces. “I’ll try it,” he promises. “I already feel better than I did. Thank you, Jack.”
I gently take one of his hands, and when he doesn’t object, I hold it while I rub my thumb against his palm. “Thank you for what?” I ask. I’m not sure what I’m being thanked for. Changing someone’s sheets and getting them some water when they’re ill are about the most basic things you can do for another human.
“No one’s ever really done this before. You know. For me,” he mutters. “Not lately, anyway.”
“Do you get migraines often?” I ask him.
He sighs. “I used to get them a lot more when I was younger. I thought they were going away. But lately they’ve been getting worse.”
“Who used to take care of you when you got them?” I ask.
He shrugs into the sheets around him. “I think my nannies did. Well, some of them anyway. Until they… couldn’t anymore.” Benson grimaces again, and I decide this isn’t the best time to have this conversation.
“You’re going to be okay,” I tell him. It’s a universal line I’ve used a million times in my career. Some patients believe it. Some don’t. From Benson’s expression, I can’t tell where he stands.
“It was worse last night,” he replies. “In the middle of the night. It was so bad. They’ve gotten worse lately, like I said. I was here, in this bed, and the pain was so awful I started to wonder if I was going to live through it. And I kept thinking… kept thinking that I didn’t want to die by myself in a studio apartment. Alone. All by myself.” He closes his eyes against pain I can’t see, and suddenly I need to be holding more than just his hand.
“You’re not alone,” I tell him. I lean over farther and graze his cheek with the fingers of my other hand. It’s a test to see if my touch hurts, but all he does is lean farther into it. And just like that, I know I’m doing the right thing. “You’re not alone right now,” I repeat. “And you never have to be alone again. Not if you don’t want to be. You have me now. Me and Elijah.”
Benson has settled his cheek deep into my hand at this point. He’s almost nuzzling it. “Not forever,” he mumbles. “Just for now. Just for pretend.”
About the Author
J.E. Birk was raised in Vermont and is now adulting in Colorado with intermittent success. She is a long-time lover of stories, and she writes and reads in worlds where imperfect characters find their happily ever after. Snag free bonus content and stay up-to-date on J.E. Birk's news and releases by signing up for her newsletter.
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