Writing Update and Cover Reveal!

It’s been an exciting start to the week as I not only have a story release date but a cover image for my upcoming August story!

One Summer Night, a Regency romance written for JMS Books’ Night or Day story submission will be released on Saturday, August 20th. This story is set amongst the great and powerful statesmen and families of Regency London and is slightly more steamy than usual. I blame my characters!

After a passionate encounter with a stranger in an alleyway one summer night in 1801, Whitehall clerk Martin Dunne is shocked when he encounters the object of his desire at a society function, complete with a powerful father and a pretty bride-to-be. Is his seducer not to be trusted? And have Martin’s dreams of future encounters and possible romance crumbled to nothing?

Free story at QueeRomance Ink!

I’m so excited to share that my very first story, A Christmas Cotillion is one of the four free MM Romance books in this month’s Queer Romance giveaway pack! To access the books, all you need to do is to sign up for the QueeRomance Ink mailing list, which is free for readers! Nothing like a freebie!

For a bit of Christmas in August, this Regency story is set at a Christmas country house party where my main character, Jonathan Cavendish, after spending some years alone after a relationship ended badly, starts to embrace life among convivial company, especially and handsome and charming local farmer’s son called Nick…

Jonathan Cavendish is a thirty-year-old bachelor and has become quite reclusive in the years following a failed romance with the love of his life, Sebastian, who he met at university. In the years following their split, he has thrown all his energy into restoring the small estate that he inherited from a great uncle and has put aside any thoughts of romance.

 Although he’d rather remain at home alone for the festive season, this year he’s accompanying his cousin Freddy, in his early twenties, to a Christmas country house party. Freddie seems to be constantly falling in love and on this occasion, he is infatuated with a young lady called Belinda. This time, Freddy thinks his feelings are for real and is prepared to ask for her hand in marriage. Jonathan is asked by Freddy’s anxious mother, his Aunt Matilda, to accompany him to the house party to keep an eye on the situation, in case the young lady turns out to be an unsuitable choice.

Despite this inauspicious beginning, Jonathan relaxes over the course of Christmas, guides Freddy through his various romances and makes genuine friends with his hosts and their guests. He also catches the eye of Nick, the handsome son of a local well-to-do farmer, who is a constant presence at the various entertainments.

Nick is intrigued by Jonathan’s kindness and also by the sadness he hides from public view. The initial attraction seems to be mutual, but can Nick break through Jonathan’s defences and teach him to love again?

Here’s the QRI link: https://www.queeromanceink.com/join-our-email-list/

Rainbow Snippets: The Thrill of the Chase

It’s the first Rainbow Snippets weekend in August! As usual, authors who take part in Rainbow Snippets are encouraged to post a few lines from one of their stories on their blog and then link back to the group post on Facebook. I always enjoy joining in with Rainbow Snippets, especially to read and comment on everyone else’s choice of snippet.

This week, I’ve decided to post a snippet from my January story for JMS Books, The Thrill of the Chase. This is an Opposites Attract Regency frolic set in the resort spa town of Cheltenham in Gloucestershire in 1815.

My main character Adrian is a shy country gentleman charged with escorting his young cousins around the spa when he attracts the amorous attentions of Captain Guy Ransome, an older man and a bit of a rake. Guy initially comes on far too strong, flustering poor Adrian into fleeing from his advances. Following a confrontation, the two gradually agree on a tentative peace…

He quickly glanced over his shoulder, reassuring himself there was no one within earshot, before saying quietly, “But I do have a question. If it is so simple for you to find, er, obliging company, then why would you bother with me?”

The Captain looked momentarily disconcerted and took another sip of his drink while formulating his reply. At last, he said, “I find you intriguing. As you pointed out, not everyone is an easy, ah, encounter, and I find that strangely refreshing.”

At this unexpected declaration, Adrian felt the dreaded flush start to rise from his neck and over his cheekbones. Seeing this, the Captain added naughtily, “And when one is on the hunt, the pursuit of a wild rabbit is so much more diverting compared to a tamed domestic pet.”

Recent Reads: Diversion

I was taking part in a social media event the other week when author Eden Winters was chatting about Diversion, the first book in her Romantic Suspense series of the same name. It sounded so intriguing that I downloaded it straight away and was completely hooked from the first chapter!

The fascinating and thoroughly researched background to these stories is the ‘grey area’ loophole in the American prescription drugs market, exploited for huge gain by the unscrupulous.

Cue Richmond ‘Lucky’ Lucklighter, past master of the prescription drugs diversion game and poacher turned gamekeeper, serving out his remaining sentence working for the Southeastern Narcotics Bureau. If you’ll forgive the pun, he’s an arresting narrator, snarky and hilarious while keeping the world and his feelings at a suspicious distance with serious attitude and a diet of junk food and caffeine. He is not best pleased when he is paired with Bo Schollenberger, a clean-cut, healthy-eating, college-educated pharmacist who seems to be the antithesis of Lucky and isn’t best pleased to be referred to as ‘newbie’ or ‘fresh meat’.

Sparks fly between the two as Lucky discovers mild-mannered and handsome Bo won’t let him have the last word and once they are on an undercover assignment, they realise there is more to the other than meets the eye when mutual understanding dawns and passion flares.

The growing relationship between these two complex men with well-hidden insecurities is the beating heart of these fabulous stories as Diversion continues through Collusion, Corruption, Manipulation, Redemption, Reunion, Suspicion, Relation, Tradition, Decision and Benediction. Each can be read as one-off stories, but I binge-read all in short order as I couldn’t get enough of Lucky and Bo and the thrilling and complex story arcs that Eden Winters creates for these wonderful characters.

When I was reading through reviews of all these marvellous stories, a common comment was, “Why isn’t this series better known?” And I can only echo that sentiment, which is why I’ve devoted this edition of Recent Reads to this fantastic example of superbly written, thrilling, engaging and swooningly hot Romantic Suspense.

I felt bereft when I finished Lucky and Bo’s stories so I’m thrilled to say that Eden has announced a spin-off book to this series called Petty Crimes due for release this autumn. I simply can’t wait!

Rainbow Snippets: Held Close to My Heart

I’ve chosen a short extract from my June story, Held Close to My Heart for this week’s Rainbow Snippet.  This story was written for the Hugs or Kisses submission call for JMS Books.

Along with my other titles, it’s is included in the final weekend of the July sales. There’s 12% off at JMS Books and 50% off at Smashwords. Summer bargains!

As always, authors who take part in Rainbow Snippets are encouraged to post a few lines from one of their stories on their blog and then link back to the group post on Facebook. I always enjoy joining in with Rainbow Snippets, especially to read and comment on everyone else’s snippet.

This story is set in 17th century Oxfordshire and is narrated by Luke, a young man desperately in love with his childhood friend Jem. When Jem occasionally returns home from the decadent court of King Charles II in London, the pair pick up their friendship as occasional lovers, but Luke longs for so much more…

I merely grunted in response, not wanting to show a sour face, especially after the joy of our first coupling for many months. But Jem knew me too well, and his eyes danced with amusement as he regarded my expression. “My puritan,” he said fondly, as he kissed my forehead and then turned aside to collect his scattered clothes from the dirt floor.

I watched him as he dressed, efficiently covering his slender body with an old linen shirt and coarse breeches, as graceful as if he was in court dress. Jem stood and reached a hand down to help me up. “Come on, lazybones,” he said. “Get your clothes on, and I’ll race you to the river.”

Read Around the Rainbow: How does music affect your writing?

I always enjoy reading about how music or sounds influence fellow authors when they are writing. So when music was suggested for this month’s Read Around the Rainbow topic, I was very much looking forward to hearing about everyone’s story playlists or what sounds inspire them to write.

Personally, I was slightly stymied, as at the first sound of music, I’m compelled to get up and dance. As that’s counterproductive to writing, I tend to write in silence! I thought I might have to give this month a miss, but when chatting online to the other lovely authors in the blog ring, we discussed the topic more generally, which gave me a germ of an idea.

My upcoming August story for JMS Books Night or Day submission call is called One Summer Night. It’s set in Regency London, and luckily enough, one of my main characters, Will, is a talented violinist, a profession he is unable to pursue due to his wealthy father’s disapproval. Although Will’s musical accomplishments are a side element to the story, I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the popular musical entertainments of the era when researching for this story.

The late eighteenth century and early nineteenth century were prolific for jobbing professional musicians. In London alone, orchestras were in demand, not only for private parties but also for performing in the many theatres, for example, Drury Lane or the Lyceum as well as other venues such as the Pantheon and the Argyll Rooms which hosted exhibitions, masquerades, balls and concerts.

Also, outdoor places of entertainment during the summer months catered for all sections of society and were hugely popular, like Ranelagh Gardens in Chelsea (which still exists intact) to Vauxhall Gardens across the River Thames. In 1749 a rehearsal of Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks at Vauxhall attracted an audience of 12,000, and in 1786 a fancy-dress jubilee catered for 61,000 revellers! In her wonderful Regency blog, the author Rachel Knowles has a couple of fascinating articles on the layout of the gardens and the variety of musical entertainments at Vauxhall in that period.

I stumbled across a comprehensive list of musicians who performed at Vauxhall Gardens in its heyday, and unsurprisingly, they were also regularly employed in theatre and assembly room orchestras. London’s live music scene was as vibrant then as it is now!

In One Summer Night, I couldn’t resist mentioning a performance featuring John Addison, a well-known and popular cellist at Vauxhall in the early 1800s. And when my characters attend a concert at The Pantheon on Oxford Street, I had to show Will, my violinist, escaping the confines of a theatre box and braving his father’s fury to mingle with his musical colleagues.

I’m looking forward to reading about the other bloggers discussing actual music!

My post will be linked on the last Friday of every month with posts from fellow blog ring members. There are four other writers blogging in the Read Around the Rainbow Webring this month… find their posts about their musical inspirations and playlists!

Ofelia Grand : Addison Albright : Fiona Glass : K. L. Noone :

Recent Reads: Black & White and One Night Stand

It’s been a great week for contrasting reads! I thoroughly enjoyed dipping into The Perdition Club, a great idea for a multi-author series around set around an exclusive hedonistic club in Regency London. There are five terrific stories so far, including The Sinner’s Gamble by the lovely Merry Farmer and The Scot’s Wager by Hannah Morse, The Wrong Rake by Eliot Grayson and Merry Farmer again with The Runner and the Runaway (currently on pre-release).

The second instalment in the series is Black & White, written by Ruby Moone, one of my favourite historical authors. Ruby pulls us into the historical setting seamlessly, introducing Jasper Black, one of the club’s owners to Alexander White, with an instant sizzle of attraction. The unfolding plot is gorgeous and historically on point (the underwear detail is especially delicious), as we get to know both men. Their initial no-strings arrangement shifts into a deeper connection as Jasper gets involved in Alex’s complicated life and his adorable (if lively) younger brothers. A perfect, heartwarming Regency delight!

Also, I was lucky enough to get an ARC for a brand new release from Colin Dereham. Congratulations, Colin! One Night Stand is a collection of three stories, two of which involve characters from Colin’s previous books, The Hound and The Lookout.

In Bear Affair, Colin describes the meeting between Angus and Gary (which is alluded to in Hound). They have a passionate and loving one-night stand which paves the way for their future relationships, but poignantly not with one another.

Similarly, in Bourbon and Cigarettes, (following on from the events of Hound) Gary’s partner Jeff bravely consults a therapist to deal with his painful past experiences, which he fears are a barrier to a happy future with the man he loves so dearly.

Blinder, the middle story in this collection featured four new characters (who I hope we’ll meet again). Narrated by Ben, recently legally blind after years of eyesight problems, at a wedding with his friend Damo, where they meet and have a memorable encounter with Ric and Tony. As well as plenty of passion, there is so much vulnerability in this story, especially in the connection between Ben and Tony, which gives the readers high hopes that this is the start of something special.

What makes Colin’s writing so special is his own unique brand of earthiness and authenticity. His characters are always three-dimensional, sexually open and emotionally complicated which gives these stories such resonance.

Rainbow Snippets: More Twelve Letters

For this week’s Rainbow Snippet, I’ve chosen another few lines from my July release for JMS Books Twelfth Anniversary Celebrations, Twelve Letters. As this is a light and bright Regency Romance, there are so snippets that make me laugh – and will hopefully make others laugh too!

Twelve Letters is included in the July 12% sale at JMS Books and is half price in the month-long Smashwords sale. It is also available on Amazon.

Authors who take part in Rainbow Snippets are encouraged to post a few lines from one of their stories on their blog and then link back to the group post on Facebook. I always enjoy joining in with Rainbow Snippets, especially to read and comment on everyone else’s snippet!

In my snippet, my main character Jolyon Everett has dashed off two letters, one a passionate missive to his current squeeze, the other a note about buttons to his tailor, Daniel Walters. As Jo is preoccupied with trying to stop his best friend from fighting a duel, it’s not entirely surprising that he mixes up the addresses, with interesting results…

Daniel unsealed an unremarkable note, addressed to him with a scrawl he thought to be young Mr. Everett’s, a secret favorite of his. As he started to read the opening greeting, My most ravishing one, the whole delight of my existence, the tips of his ears went pink.

As he read on, the letter only became more explicit. Rather than a discussion of cloth or cut, this letter concerned the calibration of an altogether more intimate kind, the sublime curve of a buttock, the faultless line of a curving spine, the defined slope of a slender, muscular thigh, and more intimate areas were discussed in rapturous detail. Daniel’s blush rose at the passionate phrases that seared his mind and fired his imagination.

Of course, being so near to handsome Corinthians and even touching them in a purely professional manner was a perk of his job, but this was far beyond his most private fantasies. Could it possibly be meant for me?

Rainbow Snippets: Stage Struck

Saturday has come around again, and it’s time for Rainbow Snippets! Authors who take part in Rainbow Snippets are encouraged to post a few lines from one of their stories on their blog and then link back to the group post on Facebook.

I look forward to checking out the Rainbow Snippets group to read everyone’s extracts and thoroughly enjoy perusing my ebook catalogue to choose six lines from one of my stories. So this week, I’ve chosen Stage Struck, which I can’t believe has been published for a full year! It’s included in JMS Books12% Anniversary sale for the month of July.

This very short story (under 5000 words) is written in one of my favourite settings, the colourful and often dangerous world of theatre in Elizabethan London. So this was a pleasure to write and felt like sheer self-indulgence!

My main character, Stephen, a young scribe, is bitten by the theatre bug and regularly crosses the Thames to Southwark to the Rose or the Globe to watch the latest plays and admire the players. After one performance, he follows his latest fancy, a bit player of his own age, to a nearby tavern and plucks up the courage to approach him…

Close-up, he was even better looking than he had appeared on stage. He had changed into simple clothing that befitted his rank, in contrast with his fashionably styled hair and pointed beard that were the marks of the nobility he pretended to be during the play.

Stephen thought that the waves of thick dark hair falling over his collar suited him. In profile, he glimpsed well-opened dark eyes and long black eyelashes that almost swept his cheek. To add to the look of a privateer he caught the glint of a gold earring.

Stephen braced himself, clearing his throat nervously. “Can I stand you a tankard of ale?”

Recent Reads: The Power of Zero and Hidden

So this week’s recommended reads are two series, one an established collection of ongoing stories and the other, the very first of six hot short tales!

I accidentally stumbled across the Power of Zero books by Jackie Keswick while taking part in a social media event and then luckily got chatting to this lovely author!  I was very intrigued by the prequel series, starting with The Power of Zero (Zero Rising #1) and had to download it straight away.

This first back story portrays the main character, Jack Horwood, as a child and young teenager. Although his background and circumstances are harrowing, the story is perfectly pitched as a Young Adult tale, as we see Jack surviving and thriving on the streets of central London and eventually trusting the kindness of a stranger, Rio Palmer a British Secret Service hacker, who becomes his mentor.  

Of course, I was hooked and moved straight on to the next prequel, Two Divided by Zero, where having left the army in his early twenties, Jack becomes a mature student, and am thrilled to learn there will be a third book in this series. Then I moved on to the Power of Zero proper, starting with Job Hunt, where Jack is all grown up, fully qualified and at a loose end. Puzzling out what to do next, while at a job interview, he bumps into Gareth Flynn, his former CEO, who Jack has held a torch for since he was seventeen. Jack’s feelings for Gareth are undimmed and he discovers the spark is mutual.  From there, I galloped through Ghosts, House Hunt, Swings & Roundabouts and Dating Games and will eagerly await book 6!

The chemistry and deepening relationship between Jack and Gareth (I challenge you not to fall in love with them both) is the heart and soul of these books, with plenty of skullduggery, personal vendettas, hacking, military intelligence and police procedure to drive the complex, visceral and exciting plot! Jackie writes romantic suspense at its very best.

I was also chatting to the lovely Nadia Mack the other day. She’s a wonderful author who writes under two other names, Bronte Meredith for her LGBTQ+ Young Adult stories (I read and loved Sunkissed) and N E Mack for her erotic MM stories.

As I was lucky enough to get an ARC of Hidden by N E Mack which is the first in a series of erotic shorts about Bryan, a young Australian student, who reckons he’s straight but does a little camming from home to pay the rent and afford a few luxuries in life. This is a sly little gem of a story, rich with characterisation, including Bryan’s flatmates and a mysterious cam patron who unexpectedly gets Bryan’s panties in a twist. Oh, and talking of panties… Well, you’ll have to read the story to discover more! Bryan is not the straight and confident hunk he assumes he is and the author teases out the very beginning of his journey into unknown and naughty territory. There is so much in this short tale that it reads like a much longer story than 6k words and s funny, knowing, teasing, surprising and very erotic. I will try not to badger Nadia too much for part two!