Most gay men wouldn’t expect to see their dreams come true in a small town in the Deep South. But the road to true love can lead to the unlikeliest places . . .
Disowned by his conservative Peruvian parents, Lito Apaza headed for gay-friendly Atlanta. Resilient, charismatic, and successful, he’s built a life on his terms—with a new family of friends and the unconditional love of his dog, Spot. Then his job forces him to relocate to tiny Black Lake, Alabama. Here, being fabulous isn’t exactly the town motto. However, Lito can’t help who he is any more than he can curb his feelings for a certain sexy ex-soldier.
A former dog handler in Afghanistan, Dave Schmidt now runs a volunteer K9 search-and-rescue team. Until he met Lito, his nights were free. As their hook-ups grow hotter, Dave and Lito have to admit this could be something nearer to romance. It’s not what Lito expected. And Dave isn’t used to the scrutiny of being visibly gay. Yet everything they’ve been secretly searching for could be right here in Black Lake. If Dave and Lito want a future together, one of them will have to make the first move . . .
Praise for Worth Waiting For
“Qualls provides a sweet romance with some spice while tackling issues such as coming out as an adult, family relationships, and religious acceptance or denial of LGBTQ lifestyles.” —Library Journal
“A sexy new voice, full of promise. These heroes stole my heart!” --Annabeth Albert
“Sexy, fun and well written . . . the perfect book for a cozy night at home reading. I can’t wait to see what Ms. Qualls has in store for us next. --J.L. Langley, bestselling author of The Tin Star
“A charming, sexy, and beautifully crafted tale that tugs at the heartstrings. Can't wait to read more from this talented author!” —Sara Brookes, award-winning author
Qualls's second Heart of the South contemporary (after Worth Waiting For) is a city boy country boy tale that is a bit facile in its approach to gay hookups and prejudice, but offers decent chemistry and a bonus bit of charm for dog lovers. Designer Carlos "Lito" Apaza leaves his friends in Atlanta for tiny Black Lake, Ala., where he works for a small hotel chain. He finds a social outlet in training his dog, Spot, to participate in a K-9 search and rescue team, which moderates his frustration with being "the only man... the only non-white person, the only non-straight one, and the only one who's ever lived within reasonable shopping distance of an IKEA" in his workplace. He also finds a more personal interest in the search team leader, military veteran Dave Schmidt. The bigotry Lito experiences in rural Alabama is based mostly in cluelessness and almost always conflates homophobia and racism, which comes across as simplistic. Qualls does a decent job of making Dave and Lito's friendly hookups sexy despite their relative mundanity and basis in a limited choice of local partners, but fails to convince readers of Lito's willingness to shun urban work opportunities and return to Black Rock for Dave and the team. There's little to elevate this contemporary over others in the genre.