I am so excited that LOVE & AGITA by Grayson Avery is available now and that I get to share the news!
If you haven’t yet heard about this wonderful book, be sure to check out all the details below.
This blitz also includes a giveaway for a $10 Amazon GC’s courtesy of Mallory & Rockstar Book Tours. So if you’d like a chance to win, check out the giveaway info below.
About The Book:Title: LOVE & AGITA
Author: Grayson Avery
Pub. Date: September 30, 2022
Publisher: Farcical Press
Formats: Paperback, eBook
"The Hating Game meets My Big Fat Greek Wedding!"
You think you have a crazy family? Meet Leo Donati, a great guy from a wacky
New York Italian family, who is expected to live his life a certain way. There
are a few family rules etched in stone that he has done his best to follow:
1. Attend Sunday family dinner. It’s at 2:00. Nobody knows why.
2. Love your mother.
3. Never tell Nonna you're full. Unless you have a death wish.
4. Marry Italian.
5. Family comes first. Always. Friends come and go, but family is forever.
The only problem? He's not living his best life. Not even close. Single, lonely, and spending way too much time at the gym burning sexual energy and ungodly amounts of pasta, Leo hopes his life will change when his father hands over the family business. If only things were that simple. A takeover offer on the business puts Leo on the war path against a strikingly sexy, but overly competitive Jewish woman who is seemingly intent on ruining his life. At least that's how Leo sees it.
As tension rises and Italian tempers flare, Leo wonders if perhaps hate isn't the most accurate word for how he feels about his new nemesis. But it could never work. Yeah, the pizza bagel exists, but real-life cultural divides are more complicated than that, aren't they?
Humor abounds as corporations and cultures collide. Leo tries to thwart the takeover, find love and happiness, while also trying to avoid being bludgeoned to death by his Nonna's wooden spoon.
Love & Agita is a laugh-out loud, romantic comedy that has it all: twists, turns, emotional depth, sparkling chemistry and hilarious banter that flies off the page.
Family is like lasagna. At least my family is. Pasta. Meat. Sauce. Cheese. All ingredients have their own unique characteristics, a role to play, and interact differently with each other. My parents are the pasta, firm enough to set boundaries, but can soften under some heat. My siblings are the meat. You’ll understand when you meet them. Nonna is the sauce, adding a little spice and sometimes making things go down a little smoother. And I’m pretty much the cheese in my family, tasty with a little bite, keeping the rest of it together.
Done well, lasagna is a wonderful recipe. All I can tell you is that my family is not always done well…Lasagna is easy to assemble, but under too much heat, things get messy. And the heat was about to get turned up. We’re not talking normal, run-of-the- mill 350 degrees. The oven was about to go nuclear and the cheese that holds everything together was about to be stretched to its limits.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves here. Let me introduce myself. My name is Leo Donati, although my mother calls me Leonardo when she’s angry. Thwacks from a wooden spoon and an unleashing of Italian curses usually accompany the wrath. Even at thirty years old, the damn things still sting like, well, like a mother… It’s because her forearms are like bricks, built by millions of revolutions stirring the marinara sauce.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, my family’s Italian. And if you’re gonna hang with us, you should know our rules. We only have a few, but they’re not to be broken unless you want to become acquainted with the aforementioned spoon.
1. You must attend Sunday family dinner. It’s at 2:00. Nobody knows why.
2. You love your mother.
3. You never tell Nonna you're full. Unless you have a death wish.
4. You marry Italian.
5. Family comes first. Always. Friends come and go, but family is forever.
These rules are etched in stone. There's also an unwritten rule that states women have to have half of their wardrobe in animal print. I don’t necessarily agree with that one, but the rest are legit, and I live by them every day. Or tried to. I was single with not a whole lotta luck in the lady department, despite my rugged handsomeness and world-class charm. Surprising, I know.
There’s one more thing to know about my family before you meet them. As wacky as they are, I love them more than anything. They’re fun, loud, exciting, albeit slightly embarrassing, but I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else when I’m with them. Most of the time, I love being a part of the Donati family. Being a part of something bigger than myself. Having people I can count on. Most of them. Some of them. Well, my mother and grandmother. And Pop when we’re not clashing at work.
We own a print shop or actually, a bunch of them. Donati Printing. My grandfather started the business, then gave it to my father, who has run it for the last twenty-two years, and I’m eagerly awaiting my turn at the helm. I’m only thirty and I’ve been in the business almost twenty years myself. I started way back when child labor was an acceptable practice. I was what they call a Printer’s Devil, doing just about everything: changing ink and paper, stacking boxes, collating projects, and even making local deliveries on my Mongoose bike. Now, I’m the Vice President, in charge of the operations of seven shops spread across Long Island.
It’s probably best to start this story on the Friday morning before I got our October financials. It’s what really turned up the heat on said lasagna. After a client meeting with The Hampton’s magazine that I hosted at our eastern facility in Riverhead, I headed into our first shop and de facto headquarters in Huntington at about noon. The acidic smell from the print facility grappled with Rebecca’s sweet-smelling perfume. Rebecca worked the front and was one of the few non-Donatis employed at HQ, not because I ran out of cousins, but because we needed people to actually work. Most of our employees were some sort of relation and saw their paychecks as more of an allowance than for services rendered.
Rebecca looked up when I entered. “Hey, boss.” She was about six inches shorter than me at about 5’6” and thin, with oversized red glasses. She wore a vintage ‘I love 80s hairbands’ t-shirt with tight jeans and her brown hair in a ponytail. She was cute, but more in a sisterly kind of way. I actually liked her more than my own sister most of the time.
“How’s it going in here?”
Rebecca huffed. “Frankie’s late on the Grappolo job. Again. Claims the machine is slow. But it’s only ‘slow’ for him,” she said, heavy on the air quotes.
I nodded. “I’ll look at the machine and have a chat with him.”
“None of them listen to me,” she admitted, slumping into her chair.
“Join the club,” I said, laughing.
The door burst open behind me. My mother’s voice boomed through seemingly half the town, “I’m here!”
My beautiful mother enjoys making a good entrance. The first thing I always notice about her is her thick, wavy black hair and blue eyes. And the halo floating above her head on most days. Always dressed to the nines. That day, she wore black pants with a white blouse covered by a white apron that tried, but couldn’t hide a shiny gold belt. Her black high heels were a size below circus stilts and her earrings of linked crosses dangled to her shoulders like small weathervanes.
“Give me a kiss,” she said, admiring my handsomeness, and then engulfing me in a hug.
I did as I was told.
She pinched my cheek and said, “Such a handsome boy. Is it wrong of me to say since you look like me? It’s a wonder you’re not married already.”
I groaned, wondering if she just broke the record on how quickly she brought up my lack of a life partner. “Please, not today, Ma. Why are you still wearing your apron?”
My mother pulled Rebecca in for a hug. “Your father likes his veal nice and hot. I took it straight from the oven.”
“You cook in this?” Rebecca asked, admiring her blouse.
“When you find the one you love, you want to take care of them and be wanted by them. Plus, I have to save my animal print for when I’m feeling frisky.”
I threw up in my mouth and then managed to say, “Tell him to put it in the microwave. You’re gonna kill yourself running around in those shoes. And me with your T.M.I.”
My mother nodded to me as she spoke to Rebecca. “He used to try on my shoes when he was a kid. And my bras.”
Rebecca laughed while I said, “Thank you for that, mother. Always so helpful.”
“I want to take care of your father. Someday you’ll have a wife who cooks for you like I do for your father. The key to an Italian man’s heart is through his stomach.”
“I don’t need to know that, Ma. I need to know the key to a woman’s heart.”
Rebecca said, “It’s through his tongue.”
My mother chuckled. “She’s not wrong. Your father, well, he’s not the best down there, but—”
“Ma, please. Geez, can we talk about something else? Let’s get Dad his veal before it gets cold.”
She headed toward the door, key fob in the air. “Help me get the food.”
My mother didn’t cook for us every day. It was Fat Friday. At least that’s what I called it. My mother brought lunch for the entire crew every Friday. Trays and trays of salad, pasta, and something parmigiana-ed. It didn’t matter what it was. Throw some breading, sauce, and cheese on it and it was amazing.
We stepped outside into the crisp November air, a blue sky overhead, and made our way toward her black Cadillac parked illegally in front of the building.
“So, how’s Natalia?” my mother asked, popping the trunk. Her halo faded.
I was too annoyed to enjoy the marvelous scent of my mother’s sauce emanating from the trunk. I answered in a huff, “Ma, I told you we’re not together. We’re just not compatible.” I prayed to Saint Monica, the Patron Saint of Patience, who is also pretty much out of patience with the rest of my family.
“I thought you were going to propose?”
I grunted as I picked up a box of four tin catering trays. Even though I’m in great shape, she cooked for a small army. “I was absolutely not going to propose to her. I don’t love her. We broke up months ago. You know this.”
“I’m waiting for you to realize you made a mistake.” She held the door for me as we returned and then lovingly slapped the back of my head.
I held back a growl. “I won’t settle just because you want me to get married. I haven’t found the right person. I want to love and live my life fully. Do you want me to get divorced?”
My mother led me into the break room, waving my concern away. “We don't get divorced. We make excuses that the church will accept for annulment. Don't worry, you'll meet the perfect Italian girl. I just know it,” she said with a twinkle in her eye.
I navigated two large tables and plopped the food on the counter beside the tiled sink.
I turned to my mother to see a dartboard with my face on it, the likely doings of my brother, Benny (Benito), and cousin, Frankie. “Can we talk about something else? What’s going on in your life?”
“Oh, don't get me started. Your father ate some of Nonna's mustache removal concoction. Again.”
I rolled my eyes. “Why don't you just buy the Nair stuff in a tube or bottle? Why does Nonna have to cook it on the stove? You know he can’t resist what you both cook.”
“It’s more potent. After an Italian woman turns forty…we grow hair in places…just forget about it.”
I threw up in my mouth and began opening the containers while my mother grabbed the plates and silverware from the cabinets.
“So, what happened with Natalia again? She’s pretty and sweet, and from a good family.”
I sighed and waited for my anger to subside before answering. “Ma, I think we need to take you to the doctor to get your memory checked. We’ve been over this. Twice just this morning. I don’t love her. She doesn’t love me. I want to feel more than physical attraction to a nice person. I want to find a love where you just know you have to be with that person forever. Where you’re just…drunk in love with that person.”
“Your father farts the alphabet in his sleep. Is that intoxicating love for you or what?”
I slapped some salad onto my plate. “Seriously, Ma. Where you would do anything for that person, anything just to be with that person.”
“Your Papa was like that. He used to stare at Nonna’s meatballs, hearts in his eyes. You know, the ones stuffed with gabagool. With a little ricotta on top.”
My mother removed her apron and tossed it across a chair. “Okay. Okay. And Natalia doesn't do that for you?”
“With Natalia, there’s no gabagool. No ricotta. Yeah, she’s got the meat, but I want it all. We both agreed we weren't right for each other. I promise you, I want nothing more than to have kids and get married.”
“Not in that order,” she said firmly.
I laughed. “I didn’t list them in order. Ma, I gotta go. Thanks for lunch. I can’t eat with the family today. I need to prep for a meeting with Pop.”
“Make sure he respects your ideas. You’re such a smart boy. You’ll be running this place one day. I’ll see you on Sunday, my love.”
I filled the rest of my plate with veal and a little linguini, kissed my mother goodbye, and headed back out front to Rebecca like a salmon swimming upstream, slipping around and between the salivating lunch crowd.
“Becs, can you bring me October’s numbers before you grab lunch? I gotta prep for my meeting with Pop.”
She held a stack of papers up. “Not sure you want to see these.”
“That bad, huh?”
She just scrunched up her nose as a response and handed them over. At least she didn’t fake hurl.
“Why are they so bad?” Rebecca asked.
“PremaPrint is discounting heavily. We lost two accounts.”
“We gotta do something.”
I nodded. “That’s what my meeting with my father is about. We have to get with the times and start advertising online.”
“Good luck with that.”
I headed into my office and pored over the numbers while I ate. Nonna would’ve been upset with how little I ate, but the numbers were that nauseating. I couldn’t remember the last month they were that bad. The silver lining was that at least it gave me ammo to help me shift my father’s thinking, and I was gonna need a lot of firepower.
One thing you have to know about my father is that he’s old school. There’s a certain way to do things and you don’t change them. Even if the business is getting pummeled, apparently. He is a tough man to get to know and to get through to.
But I had to stand up to him. I promised myself I would. It was time he allowed our business to enter the next generation. Our new reality. Printing was a tough business. Consolidation going on all around us. Rising paper costs. Geographic borders widening. And that was before the family drama.
Just before the meeting, I slipped into the bathroom, splashed some water on my face, and stared at myself in the mirror. “It’s my time. Be strong. You’re a smart boy.” I rolled my eyes, and tried to shake my mother’s voice from my head.
A voice echoed from the stall behind me, “You got this, bro!”
I nearly crapped in my pants. “Jesus, Benny. Why are you always in here?” Meet meatball number one, my brother, Benito.
“I have irritable bowels.”
“You’re allergic to hard work is what it is.” I shook my head as I left.
“Good luck, bro! You got this!”
Just as I was heading into the meeting, my phone rang. It was meatball number two, my sister Gianna.
“Can you watch the kids tonight? Sal and I want to go out.”
“Hello, to you, too. Can’t tonight. I’m going out.”
“Please? We never get to. I already have reservations at Alberto’s.”
“You always go out. And Mom’s on my case again about getting married.”
“So, go out tomorrow night. Please? I’m begging. I need a break. You love the kids, don’t you?” She went straight for my jugular. I adore my nieces and nephew.
“Of course. More than you. Like your kids are Alberto’s and you’re Olive Garden.”
She whined a drawn out, “Pleeeease?”
I huffed and let out a retaliated, “Fiiiine.”
“Thanks, big bro. You’re the best.”
“Mm, hmm.” I stuffed my phone into my pocket with another huff and whispered, “Just livin’ my best life. Can’t even stand up to my sister.”
I took a few minutes for myself outside, psyching myself up. I headed back in at 2:00 and smacked myself in the face. I gotta do this. For my future. For the family’s future.
About Grayson Avery:
Grayson Avery is a romantic comedy author of The Sweet Water Circle, published by the humor-focused imprint, Farcical Press.
Writing is Grayson's passion. For so many people, reading is a chore or something they don't even do, so he tries to write stories that transform that experience for them. His focus is on creating fast-paced and laugh-out-loud (like real LOLs, not the fake texting kind) romantic comedies and adventures to contend with so many competing forms of entertainment. It's his mission to be better than Real Housewives...is that even possible?
Grayson is also an entrepreneur, a baseball coach, husband, and father. He would like to one day bury the hatchet with his arch nemesis, Bradley Cooper, on a Maury-Povich-themed episode of Between Two Ferns, write a screenplay with Tina Fey, and hit the USA Today and NY Times Bestseller's lists with massive amounts of inappropriate humor. Buy a book, will ya?
While he claims he is the most handsome author writing in the rom com genre, more pictures exist of the Loch Ness Monster and Big Foot than of Grayson. He also claims he is often mistaken for Tom Cruise's cousin and has been featured barechested on more than a dozen naughty novels. Independent fact checkers hired by Grayson have verified said claims.
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