Guest Post with Excerpt by Max McGowan, author of Five-Sided Heart

FiveSidedHeartNoah Trevelyan has lost his moorings. Disowned over his sexuality as a teenager, he hasn’t been back to his home on the Outer Banks since his fisherman father kicked him out. But when he returns for the Old Man’s funeral, he discovers his father left him the house and boat in his will. Noah must choose whether to stay or go, but he won’t be alone.

There’s Ian, working to overcome the emotional scars left by a domineering ex-boyfriend, and Ty, a cheerful housekeeper who’s struggling to take care of his Alzheimer’s-stricken aunt. There’s Joshua too, running from the destruction of his old life, and Gabriel, who was once beaten and left for dead, and doesn’t know how to survive on his own.

Will they find in each other the strength and courage to keep living—and learn, together, how to love again? A polyamorous relationship is the last thing any of them expected to find in the Outer Banks, but it might be what they need most, and it might even be their redemption—if they can keep their group from breaking apart under the pressure.

Hello, Kimi-chan Experience! Thanks for hosting this guest post for my new novel, Five-Sided Heart.

I love polyamory. Always have, always will. The idea of an entire group of people held together by bonds of affection, passion and friendship captured my heart from the moment I first heard of it, first realized it was an actual thing that actual people sometimes actually did. All that potential, and all that love. I had to write about it.

When it came time to blog about it, I knew I wanted to introduce my characters.

Gabriel, lord. Gabriel was my problem child. There’s always one, and he jumped right in there with both feet. I think because he was the kind of person I’ve been before—the kind of person I can still be sometimes. He’s been hurt, and badly. He’s frustrated by his inability to be perfect, and he let that get so far under his skin that he ended up with scars on the inside and the outside.

Not an easy man to love—mostly because he wouldn’t let anyone even try. Whenever inspiration failed him and his art suffered, he blamed himself. His taste for rough sex started out as the only medicine he could bear to swallow, especially because it wasn’t what he needed. He wanted to be punished for being himself, but ended up being abducted and left for dead. He accepted the blame when he was told it was his fault, and internalized the shame. Even now, he thinks he’s broken because he still likes rough sex, likes being told what to do, and doesn’t know how to ask for it in a safe way.

He’s come to the Outer Banks with the intention of ending it all.

Not easy to write.

But the thing is, Gabriel can’t find the ending he thought he wanted. Instead, he finds himself caught up in something that’s beginning. Something that his passionate soul has been dying of thirst for, though he never knew it. Men who understand him, who can give him what he really needs, and help him learn how to live again rather than drift away into darkness. Whether he likes it or not—and whether he can learn how to love freely, with an open heart.

He wants to trust them. He wants to learn how to forgive himself. He wants to love.

Learning how is the difference, for Gabriel, between life and death.


A few minutes of rummaging through a closet netted Joshua two pockets full of necessary toiletries and a handful of clean-smelling sweats. Small sizes. They’d likely shrunk in the wash and been thriftily saved. He found towels, scented with a different brand of laundry soap, in the hall closet.

It’d do.

He followed his ears and the sound of clanking pipes to another door, where he heard the distinct patter of shower spray on a tile floor and the sound of a body moving slowly through that water. Joshua rapped his knuckles against the door. “Gabriel?”

No answer. Frowning, Joshua tried again. Still no luck.

Could be he was still shocky. Joshua wasn’t sure. He kept flashing back to the way Gabriel had gone limp when towed, not even trying to fight, and it didn’t sit right no matter how Joshua tried to shift it around.

Ah hell. Joshua tried the knob. The pitted brass turned easily—not even locked—and a billow of steam rushed out. Good lord, was he trying to boil himself alive? Joshua swung the door open wider.

Still no response. He could see Gabriel, though, still on his feet, his head bowed directly beneath the spray. The clear glass door of the walk-in shower hid nothing, and though he had indeed gone as red as a lobster from the heat, his scars still showed lurid purple. Gabriel rubbed at them with his bare hand, no soap, as if trying to scrape them away.

Joshua dropped his goods on the sink top and rapped his knuckles against the wall. “Gabriel? You okay?”

He got a reaction that time, all right—a startled gasp, a jerk upright that slung a comma of water from Gabriel’s sodden hair against the shower wall, and two quick steps backward that smacked his shoulders into the same wall. Jesus. He’d been through some shit, hadn’t he? Those scars were vicious. Defensive wounds on his arms and a crosshatched pattern sliced from temple to chin. His mouth ticked up slightly on that side, as did the corner of the eye.

Gabriel’s throat worked convulsively as he stared wide-eyed at Joshua. Slowly, ever so slowly, his scarred hand closed into a fist. “Do you like what you see?”

Well, shit. Joshua held his arm in front of his face. “Didn’t mean to stare. Sorry. Just brought you some dry stuff.”

“Why shouldn’t you stare? Go on. Do you like what you see?”

Gabriel’s wide eyes were wild, feverish, and wouldn’t let Joshua turn his gaze discreetly away. Bringing out the claws and yet pleading with Joshua at the same time, for—what?

All right, then. Joshua dropped his arm and looked frankly at Gabriel. Taking him in good and proper, from his long hair, saturated and gone dark as ink, to the fine lines of his bones and the slim strength in his shoulders, his arms, and his legs. The scars petered out over Gabriel’s ribs, then cropped up again briefly at his hips.

He had been beaten—and beaten badly. Whoever had done this had carved on his face and finished the job by kicking the shit out of him. No wonder Gabriel came across as skittish as a feral cat.

And yet… and yet. Beneath the marred skin, Gabriel’s bones were still as fine as carved ivory.

Gabriel swallowed again, painfully loudly. “Well?”

Joshua shrugged. “I’ve seen worse.” Hell, he’d seen worse done while guards had their backs turned and pretended innocence, though he wouldn’t tell Gabriel as much.

Gabriel scoffed at him.

“They’re just scars,” Joshua said, because they were. “You’re lucky.”

Fine lines appeared on Gabriel’s forehead as if he wasn’t sure he’d heard right. “What?”

“You lived. Whoever did that probably didn’t mean for you to. But you did. They’re just scars. The rest of you, that’s beautiful to see.” Joshua raised one shoulder, embarrassment making him gruff. “I’ll leave you in peace.”

He could feel Gabriel staring holes through his back until he closed the bathroom door behind him.

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About the Author

Max MacGowan is a work in progress. They’ve just turned forty, and are determined not to go gently into that good night. They identify as nonbinary genderqueer, and prefer they/them pronouns. While they can be quiet, friends will tell you all that still water can’t quite hide Max’s quirky personality, Or maybe it’s the ever-present puckish twinkle in the eyes that’s really to blame.

Max has a fantastic time writing male/male romance, and is especially fond of polyamory, found families, love in unexpected places, friends who become lovers, and romantic comedies. They’re owned by two rowdy tomcats who take pains to make sure their owner doesn’t ever get the status confused.

You can find Max on Facebook at: or send them an e-mail at “”. They’d love to hear from you!

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