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 :

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!

50% Flash Sale at JMS Books!

For July 12th and 13th only, there is a 50% ebook and paperback sale at JMS Books! I’m about to nip over and bag some bargains!
This sale includes all my ebooks plus my new release, Twelve Letters, a Regency romp written for JMS Books’ 12 Anniversary submission call, where, naturally enough, all stories had to incorporate the number twelve!

Before Jolyon Everett rushes to rescue his best friend Captain Ben Harding from fighting a duel, he hastily dashes off two letters, one to his demanding lover, Percy Havilland, and the other to his tailor, Daniel Walters. In his hurry, Jo has no idea what chaos he has caused. But might his muddle pave the way to unexpected romance?

Rainbow Snippets: Twelve Letters

It’s very fortuitous that Rainbow Snippets Saturday has fallen on the release day for my new story, Twelve Letters!

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 reading everyone else’s snippets!

Twelve Letters was written for JMS Books’ 12th Anniversary submission call, where stories had to be based around the number twelve. It’s currently on 20% off in the JMS pre-release/new release sale with an additional 12% July anniversary discount. It’s also included in the July Smashwords 50% sale. As I write historical stories, a tale where the sending (or missending) of letters dictates the plot seemed irresistible!

This is a fun MM Regency romp featuring an ensemble cast of gentlemen and unexpected romance. My snippet is taken from the first chapter of my story, where my main character, Jolyon Everett has written a love note to his impossibly spoiled current squeeze Percy, before dashing off to dissuade his best friend from fighting a duel.

Setting off toward Piccadilly, he smiled at the thought of the reception of his letter to his paramour, Percy Havilland, who liked nothing so much as words of worshipful fervour to rouse his ardour and retain his fluctuating interest. 

Percy was a veritable Adonis with blond curls, large blue eyes, kissable lips and the most delectable arse in London. It was also a very popular arse, given any discreet gossip among men of their tastes. “Changes his lovers as often as his drawers,” one gentleman had said rather wistfully. 

Jolyon knew he was fortunate to have those dazzling sapphire eyes stray his way, and even if the affair didn’t last until the end of the Season, he was doing his best to hold Percy’s flickering attention for as long as he could. He’d been rather pleased with his turn of phrase, flowing over two pages, painstakingly penned at his writing desk, while he was wrapped in his banyan. When glancing through the note, Jo rather smugly judged his tone to be the correct combination of slavish devotion and utter filth to garner an enthusiastic reception.

Universal Book Link

Release Day! Twelve Letters

And it’s release day for my new story Twelve Letters! This Regency romp was written for JMS Books’ 12th Anniversary submissions call where romantic plots had to hinge around the number twelve.

As I write historical stories, I couldn’t resist the idea of unexpected romance springing up amongst my ensemble cast of Regency gentlemen as their letters swirled around London in this light-hearted frolic.

This story is currently on a 20% off pre-release/new release sale until July 16th at JMS Books added to the month-long 12% anniversary discount. It’s also included in the 50% off Smashwords July sale. Bargains galore!

In Regency London, Jolyon Everett is determined to dissuade his irascible friend, Captain Ben Harding, from fighting a duel. However, before commencing on the pressing business of defusing Ben’s misplaced anger, Jo writes two letters, one to Percy Havilland, his very demanding paramour and the other to his tailor, Daniel Walters. With those trifles out of the way, he can concentrate on persuading Ben to reprieve young Edward Stephens, a newly qualified doctor, who Jo suspects has a serious crush on Ben.

But the best-laid plans can go awry, as do the letters and, as well as a furious Ben, Jo finds himself at the mercy of an outraged Percy and an amorous tailor. Can he convince Ben not to shoot Edward after all? Will he soothe Percy’s ruffled feathers? And might Jo realise that true love can be found under the most unexpected conditions?

Universal Book Link.

July Sales at Smashwords and JMS Books!

There are not one but two fabulous ebook sales throughout July! Smashwords has its annual Summer to Winter 50% off sale. Just add the coupon code SSW50 at checkout. All my books are included!

As part of their 12th Anniversary celebrations, JMS Books has a 12% sale until the end of the month. As this includes up upcoming release Twelve Letters, that reduction will be on top of the 20% pre-release/new release sale. Bargain time!

I’ll certainly be filling my basket from both these sales. Happy reading!

Before Jolyon Everett rushes to rescue his best friend Captain Ben Harding from fighting a duel, he hastily dashes off two letters, one to his demanding lover, Percy Havilland, and the other to his tailor, Daniel Walters. In his hurry, Jo has no idea what chaos he has caused. But might his muddle pave the way to unexpected romance?

Rainbow Snippets: Shore Leave

It’s always fun to join in with Rainbow Snippets! Authors who take part post six lines from one of their stories on their blog, with a link back to the group post on Facebook.

My Rainbow Snippet for this week is from Shore Leave, published by JMS Books, and I can’t believe this story is now over a year old!

This gentle romance is set in the heyday of eighteenth-century Bath, where Naval Lieutenant Jacob Longley, more at ease at sea than on land, is accompanying his younger sister Letty in her first introduction to polite society. Jacob is immediately attracted to the gallant Sebastian Fforde who appears perfectly at ease at every Assembly Room function.

In this scene, Sebastian has just given Letty an informal dance lesson and is now putting Jacob through his paces, and for a brief moment, the men are left alone…

Jacob was achingly aware that their hands were still clasped from the dance, bodies almost in contact. Sebastian looked at him teasingly from under his long lashes and deliberately closed the gap. Being slightly shorter, he rose forward on the toes of his dancing pumps to raise his lips to Jacob’s.

Even after the steady escalation of attraction and longing since his initial sight of Sebastian, Jacob was rocked by the power of that first touch. He thought that such a gentle kiss should be full of promise and not this earth-moving thunderclap. Jacob felt like the oaken main mast of a ship that had been struck by lightning.

Coming Soon! Twelve Letters

After a visit to the 1930s for London in the Rain in April, then 17th-century Oxfordshire for my June story, Held Close to my Heart, I’m firmly in the territory of Regency London for Twelve Letters, my July story for JMS Books‘ 12th Anniversary submission call.

This story is an ensemble piece and very much a Georgette Heyer-influenced romp, with society gentleman trying to talk the other out of duels, misplacing indiscreet letters and unexpectedly falling in love.

It will be released on July 9th and is currently in the pre-release/new release sale at JMS Books until July 16th.

In Regency London, Jolyon Everett is determined to dissuade his irascible friend, Captain Ben Harding, from fighting a duel. However, before commencing on the pressing business of defusing Ben’s misplaced anger, Jo writes two letters, one to Percy Havilland, his very demanding paramour and the other to his tailor, Daniel Walters. With those trifles out of the way, he can concentrate on persuading Ben to reprieve young Edward Stephens, a newly qualified doctor, who Jo suspects has a serious crush on Ben. But the best-laid plans can go awry, as do the letters and, as well as a furious Ben, Jo finds himself at the mercy of an outraged Percy and an amorous tailor. Can he convince Ben not to shoot Edward after all? Will he soothe Percy’s ruffled feathers? And might Jo realise that true love can be found under the most unexpected conditions?


Recent Reads: Force Majeure and Kisses for a June Afternoon

I relish all the stories I’ve read by Sophia Soames but I have to say that Force Majeure, her latest book, is a tour de force! For this tale we’re straight into wonderfully familiar Sophia Soames territory, with intertwined themes of friends to lovers, coming of age, the swooping ups and downs of first romance, noisy, messy, caring families and so much love.

Force Majeure is set in contemporary Berlin and narrated by teenager Oakley, an only child of fractiously divorced parents whose life comes under further pressure when he realises he has fallen in love with his childhood friend and neighbour, Cemil.

The way these two young people work out their relationship issues while exploring their own identities is touching and real, with all the painfully joyous oversensitivity of first love. Sophia explores delicate issues of sexuality and identity with a sure touch and brings them alive in her loveable characters, with their contrasting but always supportive families. I was so involved in their story and cheering Oakley and Cem to find their so-deserved happy ever after!

Kisses for a June Afternoon is an equally romantic short read by another of my favourite authors. This is a continuation of K.L. Noone’s Wes & Finn stories about a devoted couple, one a Hollywood movie actor making a comeback after a serious injury, the other a professor of Medieval Literature, who live together in California. The delightful previous short stories charting the course of their relationship by K. L Noone are October by Candlelight, December with Peppermint, February Sugar and Tempests in April. After cruelly throwing Finn down a flight of stairs in her April story, (I think we forgive you by now, Kristin!) in Kisses for a June Afternoon, Wes and Finn reaffirm their commitment in this gorgeous mood piece, with plenty of sunshine, kisses and loving bedroom games. Simply gorgeous!