RoMMantic Reads: Bowled Out

This week’s free read on RoMMantic Reads Zine is perfect for the start of the cricket season in this part of the world! Bowled Out by Fiona Glass is a charming, funny and delightfully cheeky take on a cricket match. Even if you don’t like cricket, I can guarantee you’ll enjoy this story!

Guest Post: Run Wild, Run Free by Fiona Glass

I’m delighted to hand my blog over to the lovely Fiona Glass to chat about her recent release, the gorgeously atmospheric 1950s set Run Wild, Run Free. A lovely treat of a story with a fascinating background.

The history behind Run Wild, Run Free

There were times, writing my latest book Run Wild, Run Free, when I wished I’d picked any other period except the 1950s because it was so hard to research. It’s before my time (yes, really!) but not so long ago that there’s heaps of information available (like, say, Tudor times). So setting a book during those years was really tricky.

Luckily the internet always has an answer to most questions, so I was able to look stuff up and at least get a general impression of the period. My editor at JMS Books was also invaluable at fact-checking the historical stuff and putting me straight where necessary. But the biggest source of information was actually from my own family.

Joey’s mother isn’t based directly on my Mum, but I drew on tales she told me about her own upbringing in a lower middle class family in Liverpool at a time not too far removed from the book. Her stories of scrubbing the front step, of always having to think about what the neighbours might think, of fitting in with societal norms, seemed quite alien when I was growing up decades later and they’ve stayed with me ever since. I feel like it must have been a challenging time to live through, especially if like main character Joey you were neuro-diverse and/or gay, or just rebellious or wanted to be different.

The background to Joey’s disappointment over art college was taken directly from my own great-aunt’s experience, again not that long before Run Wild, Run Free is set. A talented designer, she spent one year at art college herself, before her slightly ageing parents decided that as the youngest daughter, it was her place to move back home and look after them. Although she would have been over the age of consent by then there was no other funding available and without their permission she couldn’t stay on at college. Sadly she never got the chance to go back, so we’ll never know how good a designer she could have been. I really hope that Billy gives Joey the chance my great-aunt never had!

Although most of my books have a historical element to them somewhere I don’t often set them entirely in a different period, but in this case I’m glad I persevered and hope that the result is an entertaining portrayal of times that aren’t really all that long ago, but when attitudes were so very different to what they are now.


Blurb: Growing up in a 1950s mining village in the English midlands is hard for someone like Joey, who’s known he was different since he was a kid. All he wants to do is run wild on the hills, watching nature and indulging his love of art. All his parents want is for him to settle down: marriage, a home of his own, a steady job down the mine, and not so much as a whiff of art college. But none of that appeals to him.

Everything changes the summer he turns eighteen, when the gypsies come to town. They’re here for the local farmer’s beet harvest, but the villagers resent them and Joe’s Mam won’t even let him speak to them. Dirty, lazy, good-for-nothing layabouts, she calls them. But when Joe meets Billy on the hill behind the village, the man isn’t dirty at all, just good-looking, good-humoured and surprisingly kind. Best of all, Billy shares his love of the natural world.

Unbeknown to his family the two become friends, and then more than friends. But when the farmer’s barn burns down and Joe’s brother Rob puts the blame on Billy, Joe must decide whether to stay loyal to his family, or grow up fast and risk everything he’s familiar with to help the man he’s come to love.

Bio: When she isn’t being a pane in the glass, Fiona writes darkly humorous, quirky books involving history, the paranormal and romance in varying (and varyingly weird!) combinations. They include gay ghostly romances December Roses and Ghosts Galore, historical romance Run Wild, Run Free, and gay vampire romance Echoes of Blood.

Fiona lives in a slate cottage within stone-throwing distance (never a good idea in Glass houses…) of England’s largest lake. She enjoys history, gardening and photography, and rarely has her nose far from the pages of a book – or a cup of tea.

Buy links:

JMS Books:

Amazon UK:

Recent Reads: Criminal Intentions Season Two and Run Wild, Run Free

A couple of weeks back I devoted my Recent Reads blog to Season One of Criminal Intentions by Cole McCade. Since then, I have been compelled to read Season Two, as I am completely addicted to detective and romantic partners Malcolm and Seong-Jae. So this week I have to devote some space to raving about it. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!

In Season Two, Cole takes us away from the police procedural setting in Baltimore explored in Season One as our couple is seconded to the FBI in Los Angeles (Seong-Jae’s family base plus his place of previous employment) in a gripping investigation to track down the terrifying Golden Ratio killer.

This is not only a tense race against time in a gruelling manhunt but also delves into the strain of this brutal case on our couple. This is particularly difficult for Seong-Jae, not only facing his more recent ex, the FBI division chief, Aanga Joshi but also coming to terms with his troubled teenage years and their consequences as a connection between the Golden Ratio killer and Sila becomes apparent.

I found this an amazing combination of deeply scary twistedness (I had to skim-read over some of the gorier bits as I’m such a wuss) balanced by the depth and sweetness of Seong-Jae and Malcolm’s relationship. An edge of the seat read throughout. And yes, I’ve already started on Season Three!

In complete contrast to tracking down modern American serial killers, Fiona Glass’ new release Run Wild, Run Free is a gentle foray into a small-minded, small mining town in 1950s England.

Neuro-divergent Joey, considered locally as ‘different’ is struggling at the cusp of adulthood within the narrow confines of parental and societal expectations when he meets charismatic Billy, a member of the travelling community, in the area for seasonal work. The two young men initially bond over a shared love of the natural world.

Joey’s point of view is so engaging and endearing with his clear-sighted outlook as he gradually accepts his emerging feelings for Billy and matures as a consequence. The romance is very sweet and special with Billy’s care and desire for Joey shining through.

What made this beautifully written story so special for this reader were the detailed and exquisite descriptions of the countryside through Joey’s eyes. As with all Fiona‘s stories, I found Run Wild, Run Free so emotionally satisfying, as Joey found his voice and his chance of escape from his humdrum existence in this gorgeously evocative and atmospheric story.

Recent Reads: Second Wind, Embers of Bridges and Hedonist 2

What I love about this genre is the wide scope of stories and sub-genres, and I think this week’s three Recent Reads really encompass that breadth.

I’ll kick off with Second Wind by A.L. Lester, another of their charming one-off romances set around the Theatr Fach in the small fictional Welsh town of Llanbaruc. Ally gives us such a solid sense of place and a close-knit community, where everyone knows each other’s business and gossip is rife. In Second Wind, there’s that lovely sense of almost claustrophobic caring that’s put across with wisdom and humour, as Gethin, slowly recovering after a devastating marriage break-up, is pushed into joining the truly awful community orchestra by his well-meaning but overbearing sister. He’s befriended by Martin, a trans man and single parents, and these two lovely people begin a tentative romance.

This is such a gentle, life-affirming story about healing and mending and finding your feet with the right person. I hope we get another visit soon to Llanbaruc and the Theatr Fach for a fresh romance.

Recently, I was lucky enough to get an ARC for Embers of Bridges by Tess Makovesky. This is the crime noir author name for Fiona Glass who writes MM romance, and so the author explained to me that this particular story didn’t quite fit in the romance genre. I thoroughly enjoy crime or detective stories so I was more than happy to approach this story with an open mind. I’m so glad I did as it’s an absolute cracker!

Mickey, the thoroughly likeable main character, is stuck in a rut in a low-paid dead-end job and living with his widowed mum in Birmingham. To add a little colour and excitement to his life he goes on the odd burglary job with his best friend from school, Gary. If Mickey is honest, it’s Gary rather than the thrill of petty criminality that’s the main pull. But Mickey draws the line at admitting to himself that he’s hopelessly in love with his best mate.

Whether she writes as Tess or herself, Fiona is fantastic at building an atmosphere, one of the gripping elements of this contemporary compelling gay noir story. There’s such a sense of tension that develops as the reader realises Mickey’s idolisation of Gary is ultimately his Achilles’ heel. Beautifully written and quietly compelling, this is a gem of a story. So if you like to read beyond romance, Embers of Bridges is definitely a must-read!

It’s out of the closet and into the midst of steamy MM erotica for my third Recent Read. I’ve loved all of Roe Horvat’s Hedonist fantasy books that take place in the court of the omega King Sebastian. In these stories, Roe’s created a unique take on MM Omegaverse in a sumptuous, sensual, breathlessly erotic atmosphere redolent of an alternative harem.

In the second collection of bonus novellas of this series, Hedonist: Stories of Love and Lust 2, Roe tells the story of two couples that were supporting characters in the original Hedonist series, Thomas and Orin and Ursus and Stephen. The scope of imagination in the world-building of this series is breathtaking and I do hope Roe revisits King Sebastian’s court for further thrilling hedonism.

Recent Reads: Heat Haze and Bad Boyfriends Inc.

As it is the end of the summer, this week’s Recent Reads are fun and feel-good reads, perfect for any upcoming holidays and all available on KU.

Heat Haze: Summer Sizzlers by Fiona Glass is a delightful collection of 5 contrasting short stories. I loved the variety of locations, characters and tone in each of these compact yet perfectly realised romantic tales. Whether the main character was yearning for love, firmly attached, or suddenly unsure of their relationship status, I felt like I’d travelled to Malta and Saltzberg and all the other scenic spots closer to home and got away from it all. Beautifully written and deliciously steamy, Heat Haze is a perfect summer read.

Bad Boyfriends Inc. the hilarious series set in Sydney by Lisa Henry and Sarah Honey starts with the premise of a professional ‘bad boyfriend’ to help parents see a current and disapproved squeeze of their student offspring in a better light.  I loved how the concept of Bad Boyfriends Inc. would seem like a good idea to a cash-poor student and his clientele!

This series starts with Awfully Ambrose, where Ambrose Newman, a drama student who also supports his mentally unwell mum and is making enough cash this way to get by in a haphazard manner. During a professional date and while in full bad boyfriend mode, he meets sweet and shy Liam, whose appalled first impressions are laugh-out-loud funny – until he discovers the truth and decides to hire Liam himself.  I loved how both characters were so well-developed so that I was cheering on their tentative romance. The supporting cast was warm and wonderfully quirky, just adding to the fun, with a special shout-out to Liam’s grandpa and his beloved tractor.

With Ambrose’s retirement from Bad Boyfriends Inc. his housemate and trainee pre-school teacher, Harry Townsend takes over in Horribly Harry with his own unique flair on the bad boyfriend role, complete with appalling clothes and prepared lines that result in getting drinks poured over him or being covered in pavlova!

Jack and Harry’s first dramatic meeting was beautifully done when Jack almost accidentally kills Harry with a strawberry smoothie, as was their growing attraction to one another, especially as these feelings were entirely new for Harry, who has accepted up to this point that he’s asexual. Their romance was so sensitively written and utterly adorable and the next book was perfectly set up for the third bad boyfriend and final roommate, the incorrigible Tristan. I really can’t wait for autumn and Terribly Tristan!