Author spotlight: Second Wind by A. L. Lester

I’m so looking forward to this new release from Ally Lester, which sounds simply wonderful!

Second Wind is out now!

Are you looking for a low angst gay romance with a trans MC set in a little Welsh town? With a truly terrible community orchestra? A. L. Lester has got you covered.

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Second Wind

What do a shy French-horn-playing accountant and a single-dad trans trumpet player have in common other than both being members of the community orchestra at Theatr Fach in the little town of Llanbaruc?

Gethin’s been more or less hiding from life since his marriage broke up a couple of years ago. He’s joined the orchestra because his sister told him he needed a hobby rather than sitting at home brooding about his divorce.

Martin is careful who he dates because of his gender and his teenage daughter. He came to Llanbaruc as a stage manager for the Theatr Fach twelve years ago. He’s got a good set of friends here. Shannon’s a good kid. They’re a team.

Martin and Gethin hit it off. Will their mutual baggage prove too much to sustain a relationship?

A gentle m/transm romance in the Theatr Fach universe.

Buy Links: Amazon US : Amazon UK : JMS Books : Everywhere Else

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Excerpt

“Martin!” Julie, the lead violin, waved him over. “This is Gethin,” she said, her hand on the arm of a tall, thin man nervously clutching a French horn and peering out from behind a thick pair of glasses. He resembled a nervous heron. “He’s new,” she added unnecessarily. “Can you take him under your wing a bit?”

Martin shot her a look. She was a very competent, friendly woman with no tact at all.

“Of course,” he said. “Pleased to meet you, Gethin,” he held out a hand and Gethin took it. “I’m Martin. Trumpet.”

“Gethin Jones,” the thin man said, shaking his hand a little too hard. His palm was warm and firm and he was clearly apprehensive. “Erm. French horn.” He waved his instrument vaguely at Martin. “As you can see.”

Martin smiled. “Come on,” he said. “Brass is over here. Let me introduce you around.” They started picking their way through the chairs. The brass section was made up of Martin and Alan on trumpet, Tim and Lucy on trombone, and Portia, a ten year old who played a tuba almost as large as she was. They were setting up music and gossiping about their week when Martin and Gethin reached them.

“Hullo hullo,” Martin said. This is Gethin Jones.” He waved vaguely at Gethin beside him. “Gethin, this is Tim, Lucy, Alan and Portia.” Everyone made noises of greeting. The room was beginning to echo with the sound of instruments being tuned and scales being played. It was a familiar cacophony.

“Are you Marion’s Gethin?” Lucy asked suddenly, leaning toward them to be heard over the cat-like screech of a young violinist and a burp from Portia’s tuba.

Beside him, Gethin tensed. “Not any more,” Gethin said brusquely, nodding. “But yes. I used to be.”

Lucy nodded, blushing. “Sorry,” she said. “My sister is Penny Wright. They went to school together. Penny told me what happened.”

Gethin nodded again. “Pleased to meet you,” he said, again. He didn’t add anything else. He seemed almost paralytically shy. But then, Martin would be reticent if he knew everyone was talking about his private business.

“I’ll go and get you some music,” Martin said, forestalling any more awkwardness. “Here, stick your horn down on the seat and grab yourself a music stand from the stack in there”. He gestured at the open door of the cupboard behind them.

The spare sheet music was on the table at the front. He made his way across the room, wending around chairs and people offering greetings until he could pick up a sheaf.

Julie met him there. “Is he all right?” she hissed at Martin, glancing past him over his shoulder at Gethin, an anxious expression on her face.

“Yes? Why shouldn’t he be?” Martin asked, frowning at her, puzzled.

“He’s Posey Morgan’s brother,” Julie hissed some more. “You know. Posey the health visitor?”

Martin shook his head. “Not my area,” he said apologetically. “Never met her.” He couldn’t remember who Shannon’s health visitor had been. An older woman though, no-one who could have been the sister of someone Gethin’s age.

Julie scowled at him, apparently blaming him for his lack of knowledge. “Well, she said he needed to get out of the house,” she continued, still hissing. “His wife left him two years ago and he’s become a recluse, she told me. I suggested he come along here to help take him out of himself.”

Martin bit his lip. As a gentle first step back in to a social life, he had his doubts about the suitability of the orchestra. One of it’s other activities was going to the pub after practice on a Friday and drinking steadily ‘til closing time. And there was a country-dancing-for-exercise sub-set of members he tried to avoid … they’d invited him along to one of the sessions and he’d been crippled for days afterwards.

“So?” he said. “He seems perfectly normal.”

“The wife took off with his best friend,” Julie told him, shooting another guilty look over his shoulder at the brass section, who were settling the newcomer in their midst like a chicken in a nest of ferrets. Martin stopped himself turning properly to look at them, watching out of the corner of his vision.

“I’ll keep an eye on him,” Martin promised. “Does he actually play?”

“He brought it in to the shop to have it serviced,” she said. “He seemed to know what he was doing. And Posey said he played at school. But I don’t think he’s done much of anything for a while.” She pulled a face. “He’s an accountant.”

Buy Links: Amazon US : Amazon UK : JMS Books : Everywhere Else

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Description automatically generatedAbout A. L. Lester

Writer of queer, paranormal, historical, romantic suspense, mostly. Lives in the South West of England with Mr AL, two children, a terrifying cat, some poultry. Likes gardening but doesn’t really have time or energy. Not musical. Doesn’t much like telly. Non-binary. Chronically disabled. Has tedious fits.

Facebook Group : Mastodon : Newsletter (free story) : Website : Link-tree for everywhere else

Release Day! Coming of Age

And Coming of Age, the third story in my Regency romp Twelve Letters series is now on release!

I so enjoy writing about my motley ensemble cast of men about town as they find and try to hold onto lasting love. My established couples of Jo and Daniel, Ben and Edward and Regency himbo Percy and his Nathan are back and facing new joys and challenges.

Coming of Age is currently on a 20% off pre-release/new release sale until November 25th at JMS Books.

After the London Season of 1815, having guided his younger sister Eustacia through her come out despite the social impact of a disastrous family scandal, Percy Havilland is at a loose end. Accustomed to being spoiled and generally admired, although still wealthy, he is shunned by most of the ton. Also, he discovers that he misses looking after his sister now she’s returned to the family estate in Sussex. Taking his frustrations out on Nathaniel Brooks, his long-suffering lover, only makes Percy more uncertain about his future.

Also, Percy’s good friend Jo Everett is having his own problems, thwarted in his dearest wish to share a home with the love of his life, Daniel Walters, a hardworking Bond Street tailor. And the final couple in the ensemble, Captain Ben Harding and Dr Edward Stephens realises the course of true love doesn’t always run smoothly.

Can this society of gentlemen solve their romantic dilemmas to their satisfaction? And might Percy, with a birthday looming, surprise himself by opening up to love?

Universal Book Link.

Author spotlight: The Setup by Ofelia Grand

I’m delighted to turn the floor over to Ofelia Grand who also has a new release out today! Congratulations, Ofelia! I was lucky enough to be an ARC reader for The Setup and it’s an absolute delight.

The Setup by Ofelia Gränd

Blurb :

Three years ago, Dax Howard got out of a bad relationship and swore never to date again. He loves his picturesque cabin outside Nortown and is looking forward to three weeks of quiet over the holidays. He hadn’t foreseen a stranger turning in on his driveway in the middle of a snowstorm, claiming he’s there for a date.

Ellis Rush has risked his neck driving in a snowstorm to meet his friend Daniel and his boyfriend Dom for a double date he agreed to go on as a favor. Reaching the destination, he can’t see Daniel’s car anywhere, and when the mountain of a man opening the door says he’s never agreed to go on a double date, Ellis realizes he’s been played.

The more Ellis explains the situation, the more annoyed Dax gets. Dom is one of his closest friends, and he does not appreciate the setup, no matter how intrigued he is by Ellis. Since the roads are undrivable, Dax invites Ellis to stay, and together they plot their revenge. Cooking for Ellis, kissing Ellis, and sleeping next to Ellis isn’t the same thing as dating, is it?

Contemporary Gay Romance: 14,382 words

Links:

20% Off at JMS-Books: https://www.jms-books.com/ofelia-gr%C3%A4nd-c-224_377/the-setup-p-4528.html

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0BM39P5R1/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i1

Universal Buy: https://books2read.com/the-setup-ofelia-grand

Add to Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/63140613-the-setup

Add to Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/books/the-setup-by-ofelia-grand

Excerpt:

“This is Daniel.”

Judging by the background noise, Daniel sat close to a TV. Anger sparked in Ellis’s mind, and he turned to look at Dax, who was watching him. He pointed at the phone and then drew his finger over his throat, telling Dax he was gonna kill Daniel. Since Dax was a mind-reading alien, he understood perfectly and nodded. Or Ellis hoped he understood.

“I’m calling from Mountain Valley Hospital. Is this Daniel Fletcher?”

Daniel was quiet for a few seconds, and Ellis almost felt bad.

“Yes, this is Daniel Fletcher.”

“Ellis Rush has been admitted, and you’re his emergency contact. He’s in surgery at the moment, but we’re doing everything we can to save him.”

Silence again.

“What … what happened?” Daniel’s voice shook, and Ellis winced. Dax nodded at him, though.

“Car accident. It took some time before anyone could get to him in this weather –”

“Oh my God! Will he be okay? How bad is it?”

“Bad enough for him to unfriend you, fucker! How could you send me out into the woods in this weather? I could have died.” Ellis should feel bad for scaring Daniel, but he didn’t. He was angry now. Daniel was watching TV while he was risking his life in a freaking snowstorm.

“Fuck, you scared me, Ellis.”

“I scared me! I could’ve died.”

Daniel sighed. “I know, I know, but did you make it there?”

Did he make it there? It should be obvious to Daniel he wasn’t there. He gestured at the phone and rolled his eyes at Dax. “I’m stranded, Daniel. The snow is too deep to drive in.”

“Yes, but did you make it to the address I gave you? Is it his phone you’re calling from?”

The fucker. This was a setup. He gave Dax a narrowed-eyed look. He didn’t think Dax was in on it if it was a setup. “No, I didn’t make it to the address you gave me.”

Dax raised his eyebrows in question, and Ellis waved at him to be quiet. He wasn’t showing any signs of wanting to speak, but better make it clear words weren’t welcome right now.

“I’m at this old ogre’s place, and I swear he has children in the basement. He has that look, you know? As if he keeps a harem of little girls locked up somewhere.”

“What?”

“Sociopath eyes, but at least he allowed me to borrow his phone. I think his wife is dead. She’s sitting in an armchair in front of the TV, but she looks stuffed. No movements, I don’t think she’s breathing.” He lowered his voice to a whisper. “There are a lot of creepy animals mounted on the walls. I think he’s into taxidermy, and maybe … I think he’s done his wife.”

There was a rustle on the other end, and he could picture Daniel pinch the bridge of his nose. He often did when things didn’t play out the way he’d planned.

“Are you being pissy?”

“No! I’m scared. You know how I babble when I’m scared.”

Daniel sighed. “You always babble.”

“Yes, but what if he kills me before the tow truck can get here?” Ellis leaned against the counter and watched Dax as he put a plate, a glass, and cutlery on the table. For someone as big as he was, he sure could move soundlessly. He was older than Ellis, but he might have misjudged his age a little. Now, when he was relaxed, he looked younger. He’d guess past forty, but early forties instead of late, as he’d assumed when they’d been outside.

He was one fine specimen — broad shoulders, large hands, and when he smiled, Ellis’s gut tightened.

“Ellis!”

“Huh? Sorry, I wasn’t listening.” Because he’d been watching Dax, was still watching Dax, and the little twitch at the corner of his mouth made Ellis want to lick it. It would be weird to lick the corner of someone’s mouth simply because they almost smiled, but Ellis wanted a taste.

“Ellis!”

“What?” This time Dax smiled for real, and Ellis’s blood rushed through his veins, making heat pool both here and there.

“Have you called a tow truck?”

“Of course, I have! How do you suggest I get home otherwise?”

Daniel groaned. “This was not how it was supposed to go.”

“No! I never should have left home. I told you I never should have left, but you talked me into it.”

“I’m sorry! Demond said it had to be now when the weather was bad or Dax never would’ve let you over the threshold.”

Ellis froze. He was in the right place? But Daniel wasn’t here.

Rainbow Snippets: A Trick of the Light

As it’s release weekend for my new story A Trick of the Light, I had to choose some lines from it for this week’s Rainbow Snippets!

Authors who take part in Rainbow Snippets each weekend 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.

A Trick of the Light was written for the JMS Books’ Halloween Trick or Treat submissions call and is currently in the 20% off pre-release/new release sale at JMS Books. The story is set in England in 1950s Bristol and ties in with last year’s 18th-century Bristol-set Halloween story, A Tricky Situation as my main character makes a cameo appearance as a ghost.

In A Trick of the Light, Kenneth Taylor has been thrown out of the family home by his dad for having his own life ambitions that go beyond working in the factory where his father is a supervisor. In this snippet, in his shabby rented room in bomb-damaged Kingsdown, Kenneth has been mulling over his options, none of which seem promising, as well as the dilemma of his increasing attraction to Gino, the son of a local café owner. Undecided and discouraged, Kenneth glances in the mirror and sees more than his own reflection, faced with a ghostly vision from a previous century…

He was wearing striped satin knee-length breeches topped by a rich orange coat fitted to the waist, the full skirts ending at mid-thigh, with lace ruffles at his neck and wrists. The finishing touches to the outfit were shiny buckled shoes on his feet, and even a short, powdered wig covering his natural hair. He looked as if he’d stepped out of a historical film or one of Kenneth’s school history books.

But the expression on his face was kind, even compassionate, as though he sympathised with Kenneth. Transfixed, Kenneth watched as the effigy slowly faded, leaving him alone in the darkness with the sound of dance music echoing from the floor above.

Release Day! A Trick of the Light

It’s that time of year again for JMS Books‘ Trick or Treat submission call! Last year I wrote A Tricky Situation, my Halloween story set in the Kingsdown area of 18th-century Bristol. This year, A Trick of the Light is also set in the same district and city, but in the 1950s. This wasn’t down to lack of imagination on my part, but rather too much!

I imagined Kit, the main character of A Tricky Situation, returning in ghostly form to help a young man in a more modern era, as he endures a similar life crisis. For A Trick of the Light, I thoroughly enjoyed researching and writing about mid-20th century Bristol and contrasting that with the 18th-century flashbacks in the story.

A Trick of the Light is currently on a 20% off pre-release/new release sale until October 7th at JMS Books.

Kenneth Taylor has bright plans for a future as an engineer. In the summer of 1957, as soon as he returns home to Bristol from two years of National Service in the Royal Signals, a furious row with his dad means he’s thrown out of the house, and his prospects are in jeopardy.

He finds lodgings in the hilltop, bomb-damaged suburb of Kingsdown, determined to be independent and juggling night school with his humdrum day job. He soon meets Gino, the good-looking son of a local café owner and is thrilled when the attraction proves to be mutual. As their romance blooms, Kenneth finds unexpected encouragement from an apparition in the mirror who inhabited the house in the late 18th century.

When the ghostly vision of Kit also appears to Kenneth in his dreams, it seems they have much in common when Kit reveals his dilemma at a similar age, concerning his growing attachment to a young man, Ned. Past and present intermingle as Kenneth faces parallel and difficult decisions. But can he trust Kit? Or is it all merely a trick of the light?

Universal Book Link.

Rainbow Snippets: Queer Relations

For this week’s Rainbow Snippets, I’m choosing another few lines from my new release, Queer Relations published by JMS Books.

Authors who take part in Rainbow Snippets each weekend 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.

Queer Relations follows on from my ensemble story Twelve Letters about the lives and loves of a small group of Regency gentlemen. The plot concentrates on spoiled brat Percy Havilland, whose privileged life is thrown upside down in a family scandal.

In this snippet, Percy has just been kindly rescued from social embarrassment by his former lover Jo Everett, my main character in Twelve Letters, who is reflecting on the recent past while walking home from Percy’s house with his true love Daniel Walters…

In the spring and while in Percy’s calculating clutches, Jo had mis-addressed two letters. One was a wildly indiscreet letter to Percy and the other, a note about trimmings to his tailor. What could have been a disaster had turned out to be the stroke of luck of a lifetime, Jo mused, as it had afforded him the chance to associate with and fall in love with Daniel, whose thoughts also seemed to be dwelling on those past events.

“Now I’ve met him, I can understand why he inspired that letter. Mr. Havilland is extremely beautiful,” Daniel said rather wistfully. 

“Percy? Oh yes, very pretty,” Jo said in an offhand tone as if agreeing to a well-established fact like ‘old King George is mad,’ or ‘we are at war with France.’ “But to my eyes,” Jo added firmly, “you are far lovelier, and altogether a finer man than Percy could ever be. And,” he continued, bending slightly to whisper in his loved one’s ear, “you’re a hundred times better in bed.”

Recent Reads: Big Boy Pants, Dear Diary and Terribly Tristan

I’ve been lucky enough to read not just one ARC or pre-release this week, but three! And they have all been wonderful reads.

Big Boy Pants by N E Mack is now on release (from September 15th) and is the third story in Straight Lace, an ongoing series of 6 MM erotic shorts. They centre on Bryan, a student jock ‘twunk’ who makes some extra cash as a gay-for-pay cam boy. Of course, it’s all an act, or so he thinks, despite his increasing bond with his favourite viewer, I’m Watching.

I am hooked on the sly humour with which the continuing story is told, from Hidden to Frills to Big Boy Pants. Bryan’s reaction to his unexpected journey of discovery is note-perfect as his trepidation and surprise are overcome by uncontrollable desire and he slowly realises that he might be ‘a little bit gay.’ This is another perfectly polished gem in an outstanding series. Can’t wait for the next one!

Holly Day’s delightful short story Dear Diary will be released on September 17th and is currently on a pre-release/new release 20% sale at JMS Books until September 23rd.  In this sweet and moving story, the diary format worked perfectly to show the mindset of the diarist, who suffers from anxiety and depression, further triggered by a romantic breakup. The ups and downs of his progress are charted in the tone of his entries and especially by the presence of lovely Lars. This was so heartwarming, rooted in reality but also wonderfully romantic. Such an engaging read.

The final story in this fab trio is Terribly Tristan by Lisa Henry and Sarah Honey, the third and final story in their wonderfully funny Bad Boyfriends Inc. series, set in Sydney’s student district. Terribly Tristan is now on pre-release and will be out on October 18th. The first two books in the series Awfully Ambrose and Horribly Harry are now available on KU and are highly recommended for anyone in need of a giggle!

As ‘slutty butterfly’ Tristan has fluttered around in the two previous books as roommate to Ambrose and Henry in a rickety student house, I couldn’t wait for his story! If Ambrose used his acting skills to make some cash as a professional bad boyfriend, Harry accrued deliberately appalling wardrobe choices, whereas now it’s Tristan’s turn, he simply truthfully tells the horrified parents of his ‘dates’ how much he adores sex with as many partners as possible.

His meeting with Leo made me cry with laughter and I was giggling all the way through this delightful tale as Tristan realises that after working his way through the hot male population of Sydney while not remembering anyone’s name, he might decide not only to be a proper boyfriend to Leo but a good one too.

It was lovely to be back in the shared house with Tristan and coupled-up Harry and Jack, and a treat to have a heart-melting cameo from Ambrose and Liam. This was such a heartwarming story and the perfect finale to this terrific and very funny series.

Rainbow Snippets: Queer Relations

As it’s release weekend for my new Regency romp, I thought I’d share 6 lines from Queer Relations for this week’s Rainbow Snippets. Queer Relations is now on a 20% new release sale at JMS Books until September 16th.

Authors who take part in Rainbow Snippets each weekend 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.

Although it can be read as a standalone, this tale follows on from my July story Twelve Letters about a group of young gentlemen living in the exclusive West End of London. This snippet is taken from the start of Queer Relations where Percy Havilland, an outrageously spoiled brat, is mulling over the unsatisfactory state of his love life, having failed to play off his most recent lover, Jo Everett, with his current beau…

But Jo had not responded with the passionate fervor that Percy anticipated. As the Season drew to a close, Percy had seen very little of Jo, and Nathaniel Brooks, rather than taking Jo’s place with the alacrity Percy anticipated, had kept a calculated distance. 

After gracing several country house parties with his presence over the summer, Percy had returned to the capital with the presumption that his days and nights would resume their uninterrupted and pleasurable course. However, although he was affable enough whenever Percy encountered him at a St. James’ gentlemen’s club or a lady’s salon, Jo showed no sign of wishing to reignite his liaison with Percy. 

There were even some peculiar rumors abounding in their select and private circle of gentlemen who enjoyed other gentlemen, that Jo was involved with someone outside the ton, even a cit, which Percy dismissed out of hand. After tasting Percy’s perfections, it was impossible that Jo would ally himself with someone ugly or common.

Release Day! Queer Relations

And it’s release day for my new story Queer Relations! When I wrote my July story Twelve Letters for JMS Books‘ 12th Anniversary celebrations, I thought that was the end. But the ensemble cast seems to have roosted in my head and they keep giving me story ideas. Each story can be read as a one-off. In this one, Regency brat Percy Havilland takes centre stage…

Queer Relations is currently on a 20% off pre-release/new release sale until August 26th at JMS Books.

In the autumn of 1814, the Honourable Percy Havilland is generally content with his sheltered existence in London’s exclusive Mayfair. As a society beau, renowned for his fair and youthful beauty, an object of desire to other well-born gentlemen, Percy is slightly miffed that his personal life is not running as seamlessly as he might wish.

His good-natured lover from the spring Season, Jo Everett, has inexplicably lost interest, and his replacement, Nathaniel Brooks, is far too hard-headed to be cajoled and manipulated into pandering to Percy’s every whim.

But these trifles are cast into proportion when out of the blue, a family scandal of immense proportions threatens Percy’s peace of mind and his standing amongst the ton. Fearing rejection or even social banishment, to his surprise, Percy discovers a small, unconventional band of friends, including Jo, who are prepared to stick by him. And more importantly, he finds Nathan is utterly reliable in a crisis.

Will Percy remain spoiled, immature and pampered? Or can he grow from this disaster to appreciate the value of true friendship? And might he even learn to love?

Universal Book Link.