Monday, April 10, 2023

Virtual Book Tour + #Giveaway: The Love that Binds Us by Phoenix Blackwood @GoddessFish

The Love that Binds Us

by Phoenix Blackwood

GENRE: LGBTQIA+ Coming of Age


From the outside, Alex has a perfect life. She has a partner who loves her, gets good grades in school, excels at most sports, and has a big heart. From the inside, Alex’s life is anything but perfect. She hasn’t spoken to her father in years. She’s hiding the fact that her once-best-friend now-romantic-partner Theo is trans and nonbinary from her homophobic mother. Bullies are harassing her and Theo at school, taunting and shoving. It’s all becoming too much for Alex to bear.

Things take a surprising turn when Alex’s mother discovers her relationship with Theo. After Alex is thrown out of her house and taken in by Theo’s foster family, Alex can live honestly. For a while, things start to feel manageable. Alex finds a new group of friends. She navigates what “family” means beyond her mother and sister. She even considers forgiving her mother’s past mistakes. But forgiveness requires honesty. Secrets Alex’s mother has been keeping are surfacing, trying to bind Alex to misery. As Alex learns the full truth of her mother’s past mistakes, she will need the love of her chosen family and friends to gently bind her life into a shape that keeps her whole.

Purchase The Love that Binds Us on Amazon


I sat on my bed and pulled Theo down to my level, kissing them on the forehead. They sat down with me and kissed me on the lips until they were leaning over me and my hands were wrapped around the back of their neck, pulling them closer. They were so soft, always so tender. I focused all my attention on the kiss, so much so that I didn’t hear the small squeak of my door opening. Theo pulled away suddenly, jarring me and forcing me to look in the direction of their gaze.

Leah had opened the door. She stood there with her mouth open, her face frozen in wonder and confusion. She’d known Theo since we’d become friends, I bet she had never imagined finding us kissing when she opened my door.

Theo and I looked at each other in horror. The secret was out, how were we going to get her to keep quiet? We should’ve been more careful. We’d gotten too comfortable.

I signed for Leah to come sit between us on the bed. My face got hot as she sat and tears brimmed in my eyes. My mom could never, ever find out - Leah knowing was so dangerous.  She looked up at me with wide eyes and signed, “Boyfriend?”

Theo must’ve seen the panic rising up in me, because they took over. They gently rested one hand on her shoulder to get her attention and then explained, “We love each other. I’m not a boy, but I’m still her partner. I’m like a boyfriend, just minus the boy part.”

Walking through the threshold of Theo’s house was like a weight lifting off my shoulders, all the tension of home and school falling away. This was what home was supposed to feel like. I flopped down on the couch and Theo joined me a couple minutes later with two mugs of tea, handing me one. I leaned into them as they wrapped an arm around my shoulders after turning the television on to the latest show we’d been binging. This felt so safe, so calm. A feeling I rarely got in my own home. Always on edge, an internal dissonance telling me that I wasn’t good enough. Here, I was everything I was supposed to be.

We watched television until Seth–Theo’s brother–made his way down the stairs and started rummaging through the kitchen to start dinner. The house was quickly filled with smells that made my mouth water - meat searing in a pan, vegetables being chopped, pasta water boiling. I sat in the scents until I couldn’t take it any longer and my stomach growled, causing me to get up and make my way into the kitchen.

Seth shot me a sly smile. “Probably another ten minutes.”

I pouted, staring at the food and willing it to cook faster.

Guest Post

While I identify very strongly with Theo (the main character of book 1), I’m more similar to Alex in many ways. In particular, her need to please everyone around her. She tries so hard to make sure that everyone else is happy, that she forgets about herself. She associates acts of self-love with selfishness, and her reasons for doing things are almost always connected to protecting other people.

For instance, when Alex leaves home very early in The Love that Binds Us, it could be seen as an act of self-preservation. However, the reason that really goes through her head is to protect her sister. Protect her from seeing her mother’s hatred, to not let her grow up in a violent home. When bullies assault Theo and Alex verbally and physically at school, Alex is more focused on being there to keep Theo’s emotions under control, rather than worrying about her own safety.

Just like Alex, I’ve been a people-pleaser since a very young age. I always try to make everyone around me happy, and get very down on myself when I can’t. I forget myself in situations and try to be there for other people, regardless of how I’m feeling. This can be to a great detriment to myself, so I feel Alex’s struggle in that aspect.

Related to that trait, Alex prides herself in her grades. She’s smart as a whip, but things begin to bog her down during her story, and she becomes frustrated with this. She lacks the ability to give herself grace in difficult times, and begins to lash out without meaning to. I remember the first time I got a grade below a B, I was so angry with myself that I cried for hours, afraid of what other people would think of me. Alex no longer has anyone that really looks at her grades, but she’s self-critical enough that the white hot anger towards herself is still there.

The saving grace in all of this is Theo – they do their best to meet her needs and talk her down when she’s too hard on herself. However, Theo holds Alex in such a high regard that it’s another expectation that weighs heavily on her shoulders. They absolutely do not mean for it to be, and they’d never become angry with her if she failed to meet any expectations. They don’t know about this because Alex holds this all very close to her chest. She doesn’t tell people that all these things are swarming around inside her, because she thinks it would be selfish to do so. She’s been self-reliant from a very young age, meeting her mother’s disapproval at every corner, that she feels she should be able to navigate life on her own. Only a truly loving relationship – the one she has with Theo – will be enough to pull her out of this and into a reality where she’s the best person she can be.

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Born and raised in New England, Phoenix has always been a creative – whether it’s painting or writing. From a very young age, Phoenix has envisioned and created characters, writing them into existence and exploring them through visual arts. Having graduated to first-time short story author, Phoenix is embarking on a journey towards novel writing as they finally bring characters they’ve known for years into the world. Phoenix is neurodiverse and intersex and hopes to bring more representation to both topics with their writing. They believe in creating relatable characters that people can find themselves in and empathize with.



$10 Amazon/BN GC

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Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thanks for hosting!

Rita Wray said...

I liked the excerpt.

Marcy Meyer said...

The cover looks great. Sounds like a good story.

Sherry said...

The book sounds very interesting.

Kim said...

I really enjoyed your guest post. Thank you for sharing.