Book Spotlight: Controlled Burn by Erin McLellan

Controlled Burn
by Erin McLellan
Date Released: August 14, 2017

About Controlled Burn
At eighteen, Joel Smith’s life fell to pieces. His boyfriend died in a car crash while reading a sext from him, the local newspaper outed them both in the aftermath, and his parents got a divorce. Joel did everything possible to outrun his past: he moved to Oklahoma for college, legally changed his name, and started over.

Since then, he hasn’t let anyone get close—not his classmates, not his roommate, and definitely not his hookups. The strategy has served him well for over three years. Why would he change it now?

But Joel doesn’t plan on the articles about his boyfriend’s death being used as a case study in one of his classes. And he doesn’t plan on Paulie McPherson, who is sweet and giving and fun. In Paulie, he finds a home for the first time in years.

But love isn’t simple, and lies have a tendency to get in the way. Joel must figure out if he’ll allow his grief to rule him, or if his connection with Paulie is worth letting all of his walls come tumbling down.

Read my five-plus-starred review of Controlled Burn.

Add Controlled Burn on Goodreads.

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A Note from Erin McLellan
Hello! I’m Erin, and welcome to the blog tour for my m/m college romance, Controlled Burn! I can’t wait for you to meet Joel and Paulie, and hope you enjoy their romance as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Follow along as I stop off at several blogs throughout the week, and don’t forget to leave a comment for a chance to win a $25 Riptide Publishing gift card!

A Guest Post from Erin McLellan
Weird Habits of Joel and Paulie

We all have those weird habits that drive people crazy. I, for one, don’t do the dishes until it is at DEFCON levels of disgusting in my kitchen. I also sometimes read the ending of books first, and drink Dr Pepper in the middle of the night. It’s a problem.

Learning people’s habits is a good way to get to know them a little better, so here are a couple of weird habits of my main characters, Joel and Paulie. Some of these you’ll see explicitly in Controlled Burn, but most of them are just extra info on my characters.

1. Repressing or hiding his emotions

This isn’t exactly a fun fact, but it’s certainly a bad habit. Joel’s emotional disconnect causes a lot of problems for him, and it’s one of the main issues he has to overcome in the story.

2. Skipping assignments

Joel is a good student, but he is also a discerning student. He’s that guy who calculates the lowest possible grade he can get on a test or paper in order to maintain his grade point average. He does the bare minimum to keep good grades in the classes that he doesn’t care about, and, yes, sometimes he skips assignments altogether.

3. Drinking crappy alcohol

Let’s face it—if there’s a time to drink less-than-great alcohol, it’s in college. Joel has taken a Jägermeister shot, or two, or three, in his day.

4. Loud sex

Joel has an issue with being a little loud. He tries to keep it down, but when Paulie is involved, he normally doesn’t succeed. Maybe this isn’t so much a bad habit as it is Joel being super duper lucky.

5. Being obnoxiously good at old school Nintendo games

Joel grew up playing Nintendo, or NES, and he’s so good at old school Nintendo games, like Super Mario Brothers 3, that Paulie and Joel’s best friend, Travis, hate playing with him. He remembers where all the shortcuts and power-ups are, and is frankly no fun to play with at all. The worst part is—he’s so nonchalant about his skill that it only pisses off his competitors. Spoiler Alert: You might see a hint of this in Travis’s book, which is coming up next!

*  *  *

1. Not saying “spoiler alert” 

Paulie grew up without very much secular influence. He didn’t encounter the pop culture phenomena of his youth until he was well into adulthood. As a result, he’s never quite understood the concept of spoilers. Someone told him Dumbledore died before he’d even cracked open a Harry Potter book (spoiler alert!), so now he thinks that’s normal. He’s a good person to avoid the day after a new Game of Thrones episode.

2. Talking about grades

Paulie is that guy. You know the one. He wants to know everyone’s test scores, and doesn’t seem to understand that it is invasive to ask.

3. Buying pointless junk at junk stores

Paulie has an apartment full of quirky, kitschy junk store finds. He buys the incomplete set of dinosaur corn-on-the-cob holders because he thinks they’re funny, even if he never eats corn on the cob. His home is full of weird coffee mugs and colorful knick-knacks that he doesn’t necessarily have room for.

4. Scarves

The guy likes his scarves, okay? He has a huge collection and loves them very much.

5. Pet names

Paulie likes giving people nicknames and pet names. Pretty early in the story, he starts calling Joel “buttercup”, and it sticks. To be honest, Joel doesn’t seem to mind.

About Erin McLellan
Erin McLellan writes contemporary romance, often set in the South or Midwest—particularly Oklahoma, Kansas, and Texas—with characters that are complex, good-hearted, and sometimes a little quirky. Erin likes her stories to have a sexy spark and a happily ever after.

Erin has a bachelor’s degree in creative writing from Oklahoma State University and a master’s degree in library and information studies from the University of Oklahoma. She has always enjoyed writing, but becoming a librarian and meeting enthusiastic romance readers helped her find her own writing passion. Now Erin cheerfully writes romance with characters across the LGBTQIA spectrum. A former public librarian, she still enjoys being surrounded by books and readers, but Erin hopes to find her stories on the shelves as well.

Originally from Oklahoma, she currently lives in Alaska with her husband, and spends her time dreaming up love stories set in the Great Plains. She is a lover of chocolate, college sports, antiquing, Dr Pepper, and binge-worthy TV shows.

Connect with Erin

To celebrate the release of Controlled Burn, one lucky winner will receive a $25 Riptide credit! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on August 19, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info! 

Follow the Controlled Burn blog tour.


  1. I appreciate the review!

    vitajex at aol dot com

  2. Thank you for sharing these tidbits about the characters!
    humhumbum AT yahoo DOT com

  3. Congratulations on your book release, Erin. Those are CUTE weird habits :)


  4. I look forward to reading it, thanks for the blogtour. And congrats on the new release!

  5. Congrats, Erin, and thanks for the list of habits. I'd hate to say what mine are. But it makes these guys sound interesting to read about. -
    TheWrote [at] aol [dot] com

  6. Thanks for sharing about Joel & Paulie, but quite honestly: they'd both drive me insane.
    legacylandisa at gmail dot com


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