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Archive for the ‘Excerpt’ Category

Today I am welcoming an old friend to the Comfy Chair – well not old exactly but I do seem to have known Lillian for a good number of years and I remember the first edition of New Lease of Life coming out. Here it is in a shiny new second edition and will be an adornment to TBR piles everywhere.

Details of the book, buy links and a substantial excerpt are blow the author interview.

So welcome Lillian and thank you for answering my questions.

~~~~

Elin: Can you tell me a little about yourself? For instance, do you have to have a day job as well as being a writer?

Urgh, the less said about the day job the better. It’s soooo boring. I want to be something exciting, like marine biologist or super spy.

Elin: When you aren’t writing, is there any other creative activity you enjoy? Have you ever written about it?

I’ve tried many but none seem to fit. Knitting – OMG, I’m awful. Cross Stitch – enjoyable but so slow. Card making – fun but ethically goes against my safe the trees stance. I’d love to try something a bit more messy and physical: glass blowing, forging, pottery throwing.

Elin: Can you name any author/authors, past or present, who have been a great influence on your work?

Honestly, no. The books that shaped my formative years and early 20s were golden age mysteries, spy stories, and noir style PIs, nothing like the stuff I write, and I see nothing of what I read in my own work. I never read het Romance, and so have no reference point with that genre.

Elin: What are you reading? Something to be clutched to the bosom or tossed aside with force? Fiction or non-fiction? Recommendations please.

I read so much. Fiction. Non-fiction. Graphic novels. Single issue comics. Webcomics. Audiobooks. Paper reads. Kindle. Digital. Podcasts. Cereal packets. Okay, that last one isn’t true, but only because I don’t eat boxed cereal.

Currently I’m reading:

Kindle: Stolen Hart by E Davies. Love this series so much. Contemporary small town romance done right.

Paper: Scarecrow & the army of thieves by Matthew Reilly. It’s my bath book and I honest couldn’t care if it fell in the water. It’s not as bad as the first Scarecrow book (that I dnf’d) but it’s still not great. I’m only reading because I already owned it and I can’t bear a book leaving the house without at least giving it a chance.

Audio: Kiss Me Again by Garrett Leigh. I loved this as a read and the audio version is just as good.

Hardback: Ruso & the demented doctor by R S Downie. Historical mystery. It’s great but heavy, so I pick this up less often.

Comic: I’ve just finished Gotham City Monsters by Steve Orlando in single issues. Excellent fun if you like an antihero or outright villain as your hero, and with great artwork.

And not really a book, but most definitely a story: Critical Role’s D&D campaigns 1& 2: ‘A bunch of nerdy arsed voice actors who sit around and play dungeons and dragons.’ I’m all caught up with 2 and I’m steaming through campaign 1 while they’re on hiatus. Excellent interactive storytelling; Matt Mercer is awe-inspiring.

Elin: Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Pantser. Or more truly a plantser. I generally have an idea of where the story is going and several key scenes sketched before I sit down to write anything.

Elin: Do your characters arrive fully fledged and ready to fly or do they develop as you work with them?

Definitely develop as the story progresses.

Elin: Do you have a crisp mental picture of your characters or are they more a thought and a feeling than an image?

Thought and feeling. I really have to focus to get a proper visual. It’s not something I have right at the beginning.

Elin: Villains – incredibly important in fiction since they challenge the main protagonists and give them something to contend with beyond the tension of a developing relationship. What sort of villains do you prize? A moustache-twirling nightmare or … ?

Sometimes the villain is the character’s own internal thoughts and belief. Sometimes it’s the last person you’d expect. And sometimes it really is the most obvious person in the story.

Elin: What are you working on at the moment? Can you discuss it or do you prefer to keep it a secret until it’s finished.

I’m eager to get to Trevor’s HEA in the Village Love series. Anyone who’s read the series knows he hooked up toward the end of the last book with Smudge’s former Grindr regular.  Doesn’t seem like a lasting relationship to me…

Plus I’m looking at another historical. This one will be an animal based story, like Theory Unproven.

Elin: Could we please have an excerpt of something?

Certainly. Here’s a scene from New Lease of Life.

“Who’s Pip?” Colby asked before he could censor himself.

The side table under the window held nothing but a smattering of books and magazines, and a vase—chunky and colourful, Whitefriars Glass if Colby’s assessment was correct—devoid of flowers. Phillip indicated that Colby should place the box there and frowned. No doubt pondering whether he should answer the question or tell Colby to mind his own business.

I am. My friends called me Pip.”

Called? Colby daren’t ask about the use of the past tense. Instead he rolled the nickname around in his head for a moment, wishing he could try out the simple syllable on his tongue.

“So…” Colby traced a finger over the edge of the box, snatching it away when Phillip—Pip—glared at him. “The box is down now. Are you going to show me?”

“Show you?” With the permanent frown Phillip wore, it was hard to tell, but Colby thought he sounded confused.

“That your unwanted collection is suitable for my shop,” Colby reminded him, as offhand as he could muster.

It gave Colby little satisfaction to watch Phillip wince and bristle as the dual barbed comment hit home. An impressive feat that made Phillip’s slender frame appear as if he were vibrating.

“Oh, I’ll show you.”

Carefully, Phillip eased the lid from the box and removed the top album. Colby read the date over his shoulder. According to the label, the album covered the first nine months of last year. Apparently it had last been updated in September, just seven months ago.

Resting all his weight on the crutch and all but cradling the album to his chest, Phillip flicked through several pages before turning it to show Colby the image he had chosen to illustrate his point.

For a moment Colby took his time to appreciate the quality of the album; the thick vellum pages, photographs held in place with corner mounts rather than glue, and a thin page of translucent tissue-like paper to protect the image. Everything about Phillip and these clothes screamed loved and cared for, and yet again, Colby wondered why anyone who had invested that much care and attention would want to get rid of them.

A younger-looking Phillip—although from the dates Colby knew this could be no more than fifteen months ago—smiled out of the photo at him. His blond hair was neatly trimmed in a short back and sides, more reminiscent of the style of yesteryear than the recent bastardization of the cut by footballers and celebrities alike. His blue eyes shone with laughter, happiness directed at the photographer rather than for the camera, and Colby knew he had now met the man who friends called Pip. Pencilled in beneath the photo, perfect penmanship recorded the occasion. Pip. Emily’s wedding. February. Just over a year ago, then.

Belatedly Colby remembered he was supposed to be looking at the clothes. Pip had combined what appeared to be a vintage, single-breasted tux with a cream and pale green silk brocade waistcoat.

“Waistcoat and tux combo,” he said with a shrug. “Impressive, but everyone dresses up for weddings.”

“That combo is a late 1930s Hart Schaffner Marx two-piece tuxedo with shawl lapels and a vintage Chinese silk brocade waistcoat from the fifties. It took me weeks of trawling to find that piece.”

And yet you are giving it away. What happened to you?

“Still, it’s a wedding photo.” Colby snorted, fabricating the disdain for effect. He had to admit Pip looked bloody amazing, although he couldn’t decide how much of that had to do with the clothes. That smile would brighten up even the crap he was hiding away in now. “Even I can look good at a wedding.”

Colby grabbed his phone from his back pocket and started to flick through his photo album.

“You look great as you are,” Pip said with more sincerity than Colby would have expected. “Very presentable. Stylish.”

Surprised, Colby glanced up from the search of his photo gallery to find Pip—because he couldn’t be anything else now that Colby had seen the man smile, if only second-hand—studying him.

“What? You’ve got that whole ‘lumberjack in the city’ look going on. I couldn’t pull it off, but you…” Pip paused and raked his gaze over Colby’s body. “You look very manly.”

Colby ignored the disappointment he felt knowing that Pip’s interest was in the wrapping and not the contents.

“Thanks.” He returned his attention to the phone, finding the photo he was looking for almost immediately. Then he held his phone out to Pip, the screen on display. “Look.”

“Oh. Very smart.”

Pip didn’t sound impressed. In fact, he sounded downright disappointed.

“Sorry, do I not meet your exacting standards? I thought I looked okay. Handsome, even.”

“You do. Very James Bond.”

“Yeah, if Bond was a builder from Billericay.”

“Don’t put yourself down.”

Colby shot his companion a disbelieving look that was meant to convey the old adage about pots and kettles, but apparently the message got mixed up in the silent communication.

“You do look handsome. I thought, from what you said earlier….” Pip shrugged and forced a smile. Compared to the blinding grin he’d displayed in the wedding photo, it might as well have been a grimace. “She’s a lucky lady.”

“I don’t see why. I got the looks and the brains.” Colby glanced at the screen and couldn’t stop his own smile from peeking through. “Nah, she’s beautiful. I still say I got the brains, though.”

“You make a lovely couple.”

“You should see her husband. Six foot four. Muscles everywhere. In fact you could say he’s full of them.” Colby grinned, pleased with the word play.

“Why are you talking about yourself in the third person?” Pip frowned. “Don’t. It’s weird. I wouldn’t have said you were quite six four, though.”

“What? I’m six two. I was talking about my brother-in-law. He’s Australian. You know? Like the song?” Before he could bemoan Pip’s lack of eighties pop knowledge, realization crashed into Colby. “You thought we were married? Ewww, no. That’s my sister. I gave her away.”

“Isn’t that a father’s job?”

“Normally.” Needing something to do, Colby locked his phone and slipped it back into his pocket. “Ours forfeited the right to that job when he walked out on us as kids.”

“Sorry.” Contrition softened Pip’s voice, and Colby had no trouble believing that this stranger wasn’t just paying lip service.

“I got over it a long time ago. And I wasn’t kidding earlier. Out and proud.” Colby smiled. “But my point still stands. People dress up for weddings. And they rarely wear tweed, knitted waistcoats, or slacks.”

“Don’t know why. Tweed can be combined in so many ways. No reason why it can’t be smart enough for a wedding.”

“Careful, your enthusiasm is showing.”

Dumbstruck, Pip spluttered, and Colby took advantage of the distraction to steal the photo album.

“Let me see.” Colby hummed as he turned to the next page and found a couple of informal shots of Pip, the combination of a variety of layered tweeds and a Fair Isle knitted waistcoat working on his slim frame despite—or because of—the differing patterns, textures, and colours.

The next page showed the same outfit in a staged setting, a group of four photographs: the tweed combined with a belted herringbone wool coat in one, front and back shots of the original outfit, and one shot with Pip’s head cropped out of the photo.

“What’s with the headless horseman shots?” He turned the book to show Pip what he was referring to but kept it out of the smaller man’s reach.

“Give that back.”

Colby flicked to the next page, barely acknowledging Pip’s protest.

Pip and Davy.

“Davy” was dark where Pip was fair. His olive-toned skin, beautifully contrasted against Pip’s healthy glow, hinted at least one Mediterranean parent. One of Davy’s arms was slung casually over Pip’s shoulder, and the pair leant into each other with an ease that proclaimed more than a passing friendship. So where’s Davy now?

The camera loved Davy, and it was obvious that the feeling was mutual, but it was Pip’s smile and the gentle mischief in his expression that drew Colby’s attention away from the more classically handsome man.

A nudge against his bicep warned Colby of Pip’s presence at his side. He could have sworn he heard Pip mutter “Davy, of course” under his breath. Instinctively, Colby shifted the book out of reach.

“Close your mouth,” Pip snapped. “You’re catching flies.”

“I was just admiring—”

“Davy. He was a photographer.” Pip caught his breath. “Is… Davy is a photographer. He was my…”

Pip trailed off as if the words had simply dried up on his tongue. Thankfully, because Colby suddenly had no desire to know what Davy and Pip had been to each other. Not when the passing of that relationship had apparently left Pip a shell of his former self. Colby could fill in the gaps, even though he’d never had a relationship that intense. World. Life. Reason to get up in the morning. Colby had to say something to stop the maelstrom of unfathomable jealousy from twisting around in his head.

“He looks more like a model.”

“That would make his day, hearing that.” Pip sounded fond, as if he’d forgotten the circumstances he found himself in, just for a moment. “He took that shot. He’d been playing around with the timer on the camera.”

“He’s good.”

Pip snorted, an exhale of air from his nose that might have been amusement but for the muttered “good-looking” barely loud enough for Colby to hear. “Strictly amateur. Photographer is not a suitable job for a diplomat’s son. Not when he has a First from Cambridge.”

“Is that where you met? At university?” Why was he torturing himself with these questions? Because it would tell him more about Pip, obviously. About just how far he was out of Colby’s league. Cambridge. Not some grubby inner city polytechnic that tried to pass itself off as a paragon of higher learning.

Unfortunately that was a question too far for Pip’s newfound tolerance.

“None of your bloody business.” The anger flared bright, and Pip reached for the album. “I asked you to give that back.”

“Just one more.” Colby was more than aware that he was pushing his luck, but a desire to ensure that Pip remembered him, even if for the wrong reasons, urged him on.

At about six inches shorter than Colby, Pip could be tucked quite easily under Colby’s arm. Colby would be able to tug Pip against his larger bulk and surround him. And as Colby stared at the smiling man in the photos, Colby found himself itching to do just that. But the reality of the bitter, angry man standing in front of him reasserted itself.

“Give that back, you… you bully.”

Bully? That would be the last word any of his friends or former clients would ever use to describe Colby. It struck him as so out of place that he laughed.

He flipped a couple of pages, hoping to land on a more summer-focused photograph, and the laughter died on his lips.

“Oh my,” Colby whispered on an exhale as all his breath seemed to be squeezed from his chest.

 

Book Cover - New Lease of Life, cover art by Paul RichmondNew Lease of Life by Lillian Francis

 Second edition

Cover art by Paul Richmond

 Universal buy links: https://books2read.com/newleaseoflife

 Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27973790-new-lease-of-life

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/books/new-lease-of-life-by-lillian-francis-2020-03-18

 

Blurb

Phillip used to laugh a lot, back when his friends called him Pip. However the good deed that left him hospitalised not only marred his body, it stripped him of his good humour too. Ever since, he has pushed his friends away and shut out the world. Donating his vintage clothing to a charity shop should have been the final act in a year-long campaign to sever the links with the man Pip used to be, but the stranger on his doorstep awakens feelings in Pip that he hasn’t experienced since the incident that left him angry at the world and reliant on the cold metal of the hideous hospital-issue crutch.

Colby forces his way into Pip’s life, picking at the scab of his past. Colby isn’t interested in Pip’s money or his expensive address. He has only one goal: to make Pip smile again.

With every moment in Pip’s presence, Colby chips away at the walls Pip has built around himself. Pip knows it’s impossible to fight his attraction with Colby’s sunny disposition casting light into the darkness in his soul.

 

 

 

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It’s always a red letter day when one of my dear friends releases a new book for me to enjoy, but when it’s a new instalment of the fabulous Lancaster’s Luck series OOH BOY!!

Peeps, this is SO GOOD.

publicity for book featuring cover

Title: The God’s Eye
Author: Anna Butler
Series: Lancaster’s Luck
Necessary to read previous 2 books? Best read in sequence
Wordcount: c110,000
Category: Steampunk adventure | M/M romance.
eBook Publication Date: 21 January 2020
Publisher: Glass Hat Press © 2020
Editors: Desi Chapman (Blue Ink Editing)
Megan Reddaway
Cover Artist: Reese Dante
Internal Art: Margaret Warner

Blurb:

Rafe Lancaster is reluctantly settling into his role as the First Heir of House Stravaigor. Trapped by his father’s illness and his new responsibilities, Rafe can’t go with lover Ned Winter to Aegypt for the 1902/03 archaeological digging season. Rafe’s unease at being left behind intensifies when Ned’s fascination with the strange Antikythera mechanism and its intriguing link to the Aegyptian god Thoth has Ned heading south to the remote, unexplored highlands of Abyssinia and the course of the Blue Nile.
Searching for Thoth’s deadly secrets, Ned is out of contact and far from help. When he doesn’t return at Christmas as he promised, everything points to trouble. Rafe is left with a stark choice – abandon his dying father or risk never seeing Ned again.

Goodreads link

Digital Stores link

About The Series
The Lancaster’s Luck series – which is best read in sequence – charts the adventures of Rafe Lancaster, ex-aeronaut and pilot in Her Britannic Majesty’s Aero Corps. After being shot down and injured in action during the Boer War in 1899, Rafe’s unable to continue as a fighter pilot.

The Gilded Scarab
Returning to London, hard up and looking for a new career, Rafe buys a coffeehouse close to the Britannic Imperium Museum in Bloomsbury where he meets love of his life, archaeologist and First Heir House Gallowglass, Ned Winter.
The Gilded Scarab was a finalist in the Romantic Times Reviewer’s Awards, and nominated for the Independent Publishers Book Awards in 2015.

The Jackal’s House
Ned’s excavation at Abydos, Aegypt, faces disruptive tricks and pranks that develop into a real threat to their lives, all seeming orchestrated by the god Anubis. When the life of Ned’s young son is on the line, Rafe carries out a daring rescue attempt and learns the shocking truth about his own heritage.
The Jackal’s House won joint first place for Best Gay Historical Romance in the 2018/19 Rainbow Awards, and joint third place for Best Gay Book.

GIVEAWAY

Between 20 January and 07 February, enter this Rafflecoptor for the chance of a first prize $20 (or equivalent) Amazon gift card, or the second prize of an ecopy of The Gilded Scarab

Rafflecoptor code: Click here to enter the competition

EXCERPT [NSFW}

The rhythm was always there, underlying everything.
Our lives for the last few days had been all chaos and confusion—anarchic, even—but at that time and in that place, in a quiet private room, with the muted sounds of a Cairo night drifting in past the half-drawn curtains, we found our peace again. It was there in every touch, every movement, every kiss, every gasp and low moan, every hitched breath and soft-voiced word. With us through entangled limbs, fingers laced together or smoothing heated skin; through kisses flaming like comets across a winter sky; shaking with us through every shattering moment.
Harmony and empathy. Two of the pillars holding up my world.
I never used to believe in love. Not before Ned. He did change me, I can’t deny it. But for the better, I believe. Thanks to him, I felt love then.
And now. And always.
It was hard to breathe. I let my fingers move in the cool, fine linen sheets to ground myself, remind me who I was and where, and raised myself to stare down at Ned’s head, bright gold in the lamplight. He looked back up at me, greeny-hazel eyes warm, expression soft, smiling around the tip of my cock, teasing me with his tongue. First with a languorous sweetness, his tongue flickering so softly, so gently, I was straining to feel it. Then, without warning, he changed the entire cadence. The unhurried touch of his lips became a sudden, hard lick from root to crown and, each time he reached the crown, he stayed there to savour it, mouthing it and swirling his tongue around the tip until I was giddy. Faster. And faster. Urgent. Demanding. And slackened again in an instant. Sweet again. Calming me with lips and tongue.
And all the time, one of his hands trailed up the inside of my leg from knee to the softer skin of the inner thigh, and back again. Over and over. Fingers fluttering and sometimes barely touching, sometimes the harder pad of finger tips pressing and claiming. The other hand he twisted, somehow, to find the bottle of fragrant oil, and while his tongue now teased the skin of my thigh, he smoothed the oil over my straining cock.
By then I was helpless, writhing, hips rising and falling to match Ned’s rhythm. A restrained, quiet pace when Ned had offered slow, undemanding sweetness, faster when he denied me the delicious, calm deliberation for a more frenzied, powerful snap of the hips.
I was the arrow trembling against the pulled bowstring, waiting for the pluck of Ned’s fingers to send me flying.
Perfection.

About Anna

Once Anna was a communications specialist with several UK government departments. These days she’s thankfully free of all that, and writing full time. Anna lives in the depths of the Nottinghamshire countryside with her husband and the Deputy Editor, aka Molly the cockapoo, who’s supported by Mavis the Assistant Editor, a Yorkie-Bichon cross with a bark several times bigger than she is but with no opinion whatsoever on the placement of semi-colons.

Website and Blog

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It’s always good news when a book is released in the lovely Alpennia series. Congratulations, Heather Rose!

FLOODTIDE

HISTORICAL FANTASY
from Heather Rose Jones

Editor: Medora MacDougall
Cover Design: Sandy Knowles

ISBN: 9781642470468
Trade paper, 270 pp, $16.95
Ebook, $9.99
Lesbian Historical Fantasy
Bella Books, Inc.
Publication Date: November 15, 2019

The streets are a perilous place for a young laundry maid dismissed without a character for indecent acts. Roz knew the end of the path for a country girl alone in the city of Rotenek. A desperate escape in the night brings her to the doorstep of Dominique the dressmaker and the hope of a second chance beyond what she could have imagined. Roz’s apprenticeship with the needle, under the patronage of the royal thaumaturgist, wasn’t supposed to include learning magic, but Celeste, the dressmaker’s daughter, draws Roz into the mysterious world of the charm-wives. When floodwaters and fever sweep through the lower city, Celeste’s magical charms could bring hope and healing to the forgotten poor of Rotenek, but only if Roz can claim the help of some unlikely allies.

Set in the magical early 19th century world of Alpennia, Floodtide tells an independent tale that interweaves with the adventures.

A stand-alone book in the Alpennia series (Alpennia #4)

Bella Books logo - female silhouette in front of open book.

Buy from Bella: https://www.bellabooks.com/product/9781642470468/
Buy from Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Floodtide-Novel-Alpennia-Heather-Jones/dp/1642470465

Excerpt

You know the scent of lavender on the fresh sheets? When you take them from the linen press, you breathe it in, remembering the long rows of purple flowers in the summer sun. You think of the smile on the maisetra’s face when she settles in for the night with that scent still lingering. That’s what I always imagined love would be like.

But loving Nan was like stripping the lavender spikes in Aunt Gaita’s stillroom back in Sain-Pol. The sharp resin filled my head and the memory of it clung to my hands and my clothes. I’d say the prayers to Saint Cheler with my aunt as we distilled lavender water and mixed herbs to add to the soap. Sometimes I’d get a warm, stretchy feeling at the base of my belly, like the one I got during the mysteries at church.

When I was in the middle of the lavender harvest, I’d forget about everything else. I wouldn’t think about how lucky I was that Aunt Gaita picked me out from my brothers and sisters to learn a trade and teach me how to behave proper in service. I’d forget about tending the boiler where the linens were soaking. My mind would wander off and she’d box my ears and threaten to send me back home to mind the babies. I knew she didn’t mean it, but the scent was that strong it could drive everything else out of my head.

Loving Nan was like that. I was never free of thinking of her. I’d watch her from the laundry room door as she went up and down the stairs to the family rooms and find excuses to call her over to ask about some mending she’d brought down. I’d lean close and breathe in how lovely she smelled. Then at night, even when we were so tired we could barely talk, we’d kiss and cuddle in the narrow bed we shared.

Nan was the one who taught me what to do with that feeling in my belly. We’d never meant it to go further than the ordinary sort of keeping company. Most girls in service have a special friend. You get lonely away in the city with no family about. But it did go further. I was so hungry for Nan we’d be up late into the night, trying not to make noise and wake Mari in the next bed and then stumbling bleary-eyed through the morning chores.

Bio

Heather Rose Jones is the author of the Alpennia historic fantasy series: an alternate-Regency-era Ruritanian adventure revolving around women’s lives woven through with magic, alchemy, and intrigue. Her short fiction has appeared in The Chronicles of the Holy Grail, Sword and Sorceress, Lace and Blade, and at Podcastle.org. Heather blogs about research into lesbian-relevant motifs in history and literature at the Lesbian Historic Motif Project and has a podcast covering the field of lesbian historical fiction which has recently expanded into publishing audio fiction. She reviews books at The Lesbian Review as well as on her blog. She works as an industrial failure investigator in biotech pharmaceuticals.

Book Links

Bella Books: http://www.bellabooks.com/Bella-Author-Heather-Rose-Jones-cat.html
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Heather-Rose-Jones/e/B00ID2LQE6

Social Media:

Website and blog: http://alpennia.com
Twitter: @heatherosejones
Facebook (author page): https://www.facebook.com/Heather-Rose-Jones-490950014312292/

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I’m very pleased to welcome my friend Liv Rancourt to my blog today in order to celebrate her new book Lost and Found, which has a fantastic cover, with an excerpt and a giveaway. But first, here’s a little message from Liv:

Hello! I just wanted to drop a quick note to thank Elin for having me on her blog. The very best part about this publishing community is how supportive everyone is. As an indie author, I don’t have a publisher’s marketing department to rely on. Instead, I have friends like Elin who will help me spread the word about my newest release.
So…yeah. Thanks Elin! And thank you to everyone who has shared my posts and tweets and what-have-you. I’m very proud of Lost & Found – and I LOVE the cover art – and am happy to have it out in readers’ hands!

Lost & Found
By Liv Rancourt>/h2>

Blurb

A dancer who cannot dance and a doctor who cannot heal must find in each other the strength to love.

History books will call it The Great War, but for Benjamin Holm, that is a misnomer. The war is a disaster, a calamity, and it leaves Benjamin profoundly wounded, his mind and memory shattered. A year after Armistice, still struggling to regain his mental faculties, he returns to Paris in search of his closest friend, Elias.

Benjamin meets Louis Donadieu, a striking and mysterious dance master. Though Louis is a difficult man to know, he offers to help Benjamin. Together they search the cabarets, salons, and art exhibits in the newly revitalized city on the brink of les années folles (the Crazy Years). Almost despite himself, Benjamin breaches Louis’s defenses, and the two men discover an unexpected passion.

As his memory slowly returns, Benjamin will need every ounce of courage he possesses to recover Elias’s story. He and Louis will need even more than that to lay claim to the love – and the future – they deserve.

About Liv Rancourt

Liv Rancourt writes romance of all kinds. Because love is love, even with fangs.

Liv is a huge fan of paranormal romance and urban fantasy and loves history just as much, so her stories often feature vampires or magic or they’re set in the past…or all of the above. When Liv isn’t writing she takes care of tiny premature babies or teenagers, depending on whether she’s at work or at home. Her husband is a soul of patience, her kids are her pride and joy, and her dogs – Trash Panda and The Boy Genius – are endlessly entertaining.

Liv can be found on-line at all hours of the day and night at her website (www.livrancourt.com), on Facebook (www.facebook.com/liv.rancourt), or on Twitter (www.twitter.com/LivRancourt). She also blogs monthly over at Spellbound Scribes (https://spellboundscribes.wordpress.com/).

For sneak peeks and previews and other assorted freebies, go HERE to sign up for her mailing list or join the Facebook page she shares with her writing partner Irene Preston, After Hours with Liv & Irene. Fun stuff!

Giveaway
Click here to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway to be in with a chance to win a $25 gift card. Giveaway ends 10/31/19.

Excerpt from Lost & Found by Liv Rancourt:

M. Richard was wise to have sent me straightaway. By the time I strolled down the Boulevard de Magenta to Le Marais, found the street and the shop, and had an extensive fitting, I barely made it home in time to meet Louis. I was putting the finishing touch on my tie—the Windsor knot gave me trouble—when he knocked on my door.
“Bonjour, I’ll be…” All I could do was stare. Never a shabby dresser, tonight the exquisite cut of his suit made the most of his broad, lean body, and his precise hairstyle brought out the dramatic lines in his face. “One, um, one moment.”
I backed away, gesturing for him to come in. Even his cane had been replaced by an elegant black walking stick with a gold handle.
He paused a moment before responding to my request. “Double breasted? Where have you been hiding this? You look superb.”
I busied myself collecting my wallet, murmuring the name of the shop.
“In the Marais Quarter?” He spoke with a hint of amusement. “You traveled far.”
Collecting myself, I moved toward the door. “M. Richard sent me.”
He smirked. “Good thinking on his part.”
The evening was warm and clear, the memory of sunset only an aqua light in the western sky. In the half-light, I brought myself to broach the possible awkwardness between us. “I was surprised to hear from you.”
“I find myself drawn to your plight.”
“You do?”
“Absolument.”
I couldn’t tell if he was laughing or not. “Regardless, I do appreciate the invitation.” We smiled at each other through the twilight. “Now, should I rely on you to speak for me?”
That earned me a raised eyebrow.
“My accent.”
Louis laughed. “My friend tells me that most of the other guests share your particular malady, so you’ll feel at home.”
At home? “Perhaps.”
His chuckle dispelled what was left of my distress, and we walked on in comfortable silence. Navigating the narrow stairs to the Métro proved a challenge for Louis, so once we were on the platform, I took the initiative. “Someday, you should let me look at that.” I waved in the direction of his leg.
“Someday, I would like you to do more than just look.”
Louis met my surprise with bland amusement, though when it became apparent I was too flustered to respond, he changed the subject. “The train won’t come for a while. Tell me more about your friend Elias. I need to know the kind of man he is, to know whom I should talk to tonight.”
“What kind of man?” Looking to the past was safer than dealing with the gentleman standing next to me, so in the concrete cave, under the harsh fluorescent lights, I told him a story. “Elias is always up to something, you know? Like…” A particular memory made me smile. “Do you ski?”
“Un peu.” He indicated a small distance with thumb and forefinger.
“Okay, so one night, he knocked on my window after I’d gone to bed. There was about three feet of snow on the ground, but the moon was out, and he wanted to ski.”
I’d dressed as quickly as possible. Outside, the air was so cold, ice crystals formed with every breath. “He followed me to the barn, where I saddled up our old gelding Rocky. Elias didn’t have skis of his own, so he grabbed mine and climbed up behind me on the horse. The moon was huge that night, and so bright we could see just fine.”
“We rode up along the ridge behind our house, four, maybe five miles until we got to the crest. Our plan was he should ski, and I’d ride down to meet him, and then we’d switch. Rocky was stable enough even for Elias to ride.”
His expression neutral, Louis nodded at me to continue. A rumble started from far off. The train must be coming.
“Well, what we didn’t figure was there was ice underneath the snow. Things had warmed up just enough to melt a little, then we’d had a hard freeze, followed by another dump of snow. Elias got himself buckled into the skis, and right as he’s about to take off, he hollers to the heavens.” And with the moon behind him, he’d looked like some forest spirit come to life. “That yell stirred things up, and the snow started sliding.”
The rumble grew, and a pinpoint of light appeared in the tunnel ahead of us. “He’d set off an avalanche.” Though miles and years away from that moment, my heart still skipped a beat. The noise of the train echoed the roar of the snow in my mind. “I thought, God, he’s done. He’ll be buried in snow, and I’ll never find him.
“I brought Rocky as close to the edge as I dared, but all I saw was snow and ice and torn-up trees. We raced down the ridge, faster than I’d ever seen that horse move, through the valley to the place where we usually met up. I figured Rocky and I would do better climbing up to find Elias rather than trying to get down from the top. And you know what?” Full of the one moment I’d never forget, I barely looked at Louis. “He skied up like nobody’s business. He’d stayed just ahead of the snow, said he’d never skied so fast in his life.” I looked toward the ceiling, blinking fast. Elias had made it, his face burned from the cold. His eyes, though. His eyes had been full of stars.
“Come.” Louis took my arm, leading me back to the present as much as onto the train. We fell silent, settling side by side on one of the wooden bench seats. When Louis spoke, the sound of his voice startled me.
“I think your friend has a very big soul.”
I kept my gaze fixed on the window, though all I could see was the gray cement wall of the tunnel. “Big soul? Yes.” And a bigger heart.

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Today I’m really pleased to feature a new book from an old friend. Welcome JB. Wishing you and your new books all the best wishes in the world.

book cover shows title and two young men kissing

Book title: The Boyfriend Trap
Author: JB Buell
Genre: Gay Contemporary Romance
Length: 23,965 words
Heat rating: Moderate

Summary:
Male stripper Jamie has been seeing his boss, club owner Luke, for a while now. Jamie wants a more committed relationship, but Luke is dragging his heels about getting more serious with Jamie or introducing Jamie to his daughter, Sofia.

But Sofia has had enough waiting around to meet her dad’s not-so-secret boyfriend, and devises a plan to get them together.

In this sweet rom-com, two grown men find themselves outwitted by a precocious eight-year-old.

Author Interview

Question 1:
So JB, can you tell me what your new book is about?

Answer 1:
‘The Boyfriend Trap’ is a story about Jamie, his boyfriend Luke, and Luke’s young daughter Sofia, whom Jamie meets for the first time on a day out.

Jamie is a male stripper slash mud wrestler, and he’s perfectly fine with that. He’s also been seeing his boss, Luke, the club’s manager. Jamie thinks they have a future together, but Luke is hesistant to introduce Jamie to his young daughter, Sofia, and include Jamie in on family time.

This has left Jamie feeling shut out from Luke’s life, and he can’t help but wonder if it’s because his lifestyle isn’t what Luke wants after all. So Jamie gives Luke an ultimatum: either they’re serious about each other and spend more time together, including meeting Luke’s family, or Jamie walks.

Then Sofia, Luke’s eight year old, surprises Jamie with a phonecall out of the blue, and invites him to their family picnic.

Jamie suspects that Luke may be unaware of this invitation, but he goes along anyway because he loves Luke and wants to be part of his life.

It turns out that Sofia has arranged a surprise picnic date for them (Luke is certainly surprised), but Sofia seems so thrilled about meeting Jamie that they can’t be mad, so they go along with her scheme and end up having a fun day together.

Maybe a little family day out is just what they all needed!

Question 2: Stripper/mud wrestler is a wonderful profession. I have to ask, what kind of research did you do?

Answer 2: My interest and love for clubs, nightlife, and what could be viewed as unconventional professions started from a young age watching movies, TV procedurals (like Law & Order), and American wrestling. What I like showing about characters who may have unusual jobs or careers is that they’re also regular people too, and this story in particular is mostly focused on the home, domestic and family side of things.

Jamie is concerned that his job and his background are what’s stopping him from having a committed relationship with Luke, so showing Jamie in a very normal setting like a picnic in the park on a family outing, and then baby-sitting for the first time on his own, was kind of throwing him in the deep end of family life. But it all turns out okay!

Question 3: One of the most important characters in the book is Luke’s daughter, Sofia. How did you tackle writing someone with that young point of view?

Answer 3: My inner child is louder than my inner adult, so it was no problem for me.
Lol, joking. (But not really.)
I don’t often write young characters, but it was fun writing Sofia who is bright and bubbly, in contrast to her dad, Luke, who has a very dry sense of humor and could even be described as grumpy at times. That was a fun dynamic, and then bringing Jamie in seeing Luke and Sofia interact for the first time, he gets to see a softer side of Luke in dad-mode.

EXCERPT:

“Who’s Jamie?” Sofia asked.

Luke coughed into his glass, trying not to choke on the orange juice he’d been drinking. He looked around to where Sofia was sitting at the table, homework all spread out. His cell phone was there too, screen up on the table, and Luke cursed his own stupidity.

“What?” he said, acting nonchalant as he wiped OJ off his chin.

Sofia gestured at the phone with her pencil. “It’s lit up three times with the name Jamie. Who’s Jamie?”

“He’s someone daddy works with.” Luke swooped in and grabbed his phone. “You finish your homework and I’ll get started on dinner in a minute.”

Sofia was quiet, watching him closely. Luke felt his flush intensify under her gaze, then thankfully she changed the subject.

“Can we have pasta?” she asked.

“Sure,” he agreed with relief.

When Sofia turned back to her homework, wriggling excitedly at the prospect of food, Luke opened his phone’s lock screen to read his messages.

4:13 Jamie: Hey

4:25 Jamie: I miss you. Can we talk?

Luke sighed inwardly. He’d better try get this straightened out.

* * * *

Sofia was feeling nosey.

Her dad was great, but he could be so secretive and squirrely about things.

She quietly left the table and tip-toed through the apartment, right up to her dad’s bedroom door. She put her ear close, and listened.

“Yeah, of course I want to see you,” her dad was in the middle of saying. “Well, no… You gotta give me a chance here, Jamie …”

It sounded like he was placating the other person, using his patient and quiet tone of voice.

Sofia frowned, trying to place the tone. It almost reminded her of a mommy and daddy talk, when they’d tried to keep quiet and talk about something in another room so Sofia wouldn’t overhear.

But her parents were divorced now, and her mom had a boyfriend who was very nice.

It was kind of sad that her dad always seemed to be on his own. He needed someone nice too.

Sofia listened, heard him say, “I promise I’ll talk to her. Of course I want you to be involved, Jamie, but you gotta give me a chance to tell her. There hasn’t been anyone since her mom, okay? This is a big deal…”

Sofia’s breath caught as her eyes widened. Was he talking about her? He had to be. So, did that mean…?

Sofia grinned to herself.

Her dad had found someone. Finally.

* * * *

Available from Saturday 28 September with JMS Books

Buy link: http://www.jms-books.com/jb-buell-c-224_405/the-boyfriend-trap-p-2905.html

Author bio: JB Buell is a non binary writer (they/them, or he/him) of m/m romance and gay rom com stories. They are a cat person, and can’t decide if they’re more of a coffee or tea person but is quite happy to drink both.

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My visitor today is Sean R Robinson, author of More than Starlight, More than Rain in the Rainbow Bouquet anthology.

Welcome Sean and thank you for answering my questions.

For how long have you been writing?

I think I wrote my first book in elementary school, about four pages long and colored with crayons. Professionally, my first publication was in 2015.

What attracted you to the brief for Rainbow Bouquet?

When I was in graduate school at the University of Southern Maine, I read Farah’s Rhetorics of Fantasy and it really changed the way I thought about the genre — from something that was kind of “fluff” into something that mattered, and could be considered academic. The opportunity to share a story in an anthology she was editing made me really excited, and after looking through my work, I thought I had a piece that would be a good fit. So here we are.

What inspired your story?

My story is about a space marine, Gavin Rourke, who is at the end of his life looking back. These themes have always appealed to me: hyper masculinity juxtaposed against genuine emotion. Gavin has loved and lost, and that’s another place that I like to mine creatively. Beyond that, I want love stories that are about love rather than labels. Gavin is in love with a person who happens to be another man, and that’s the story, and it provides visibility without turning it into a story other than a love story…or a ghost story.

Please tell me about your current work in progress.

I’m working on a novel with a writing partner. After a few faltering stops, I think we’ve started building momentum. It’s high fantasy, and I’m just trying to enjoy it as I go, regardless of how silly it may sound.

Could we see an excerpt?

The coach was a grand thing, all gilt and gold, pulled by a pair of matched horses. Mathilde would have known what their color was called, and what breed they were. I almost asked her, but as we rolled down the drive, she had pulled the curtains open, looking at anything but the rest of us.
“Shut that window,” Housekeeper said. “do you want to be robbed?”
Mathilde blinked her eyes slowly. “Yes?”
I laughed, because there was no other answer. My sweet, violent sister.

Where may we follow you online?

On Twitter @Kesterian or my website http://www.seanryanrobinson.com

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Stories of love in the past, present and future…

book title



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I’m delighted to welcome Garrick Jones – author of O, Canada in Manifold Press’s latest anthology Rainbow Bouquet – to my blog today.

Thank you, Garrick, for so kindly answering my questions.

For how long have you been writing?

I retired from an active performing career in 1999, taking up the position as Lecturer in Music at CQUniversity in tropical northern Queensland. Always having been a keen letter writer (remember those days?) and having done three university degrees while performing (two in research) I found academic writing right up my alley. I retired six years ago and started to explore the LGBT literature, finding very little dealing with Australia that wasn’t angstful. While much of it was excellent (Holding The Man, Head On, etc.) there wasn’t anything about gay men and our history, other than non-fiction. So I decided to see what came from my fingers. I happened to run across some very helpful professional writers, who steered me in the right direction. Having my first professional edit was an eye-opener. I suddenly realised it was something I could do, and I haven’t stopped since. I’ve only, in the past seven months had the courage to submit to editors, with a deal of success. What is it about us writers and self-worth?

What attracted you to the brief for Rainbow Bouquet?

I wanted to try my hand at writing a Romance story. Romance is not really my thing; my books have romance in them, usually as a thread throughout the story, but it’s not the focus.

What inspired your story?

A combination of two real-life stories. Canada, because I went there on an exchange program in 1963 at the age of fifteen, and was mesmerised by the handsome airline pilot sitting at the tour desk in the lobby of the Hilton Hawaiian Hotel. He became a fantasy as I gradually grew into my sexuality. The roses? Ah, my wonderful Craig, who remembered every occasion, whether real or imagined with flowers and gentle whispers in my ear.

Please tell me about your current work in progress.

I’m at an interesting crossroads right now. One work ready to go to the editor, another just come back from betas, the third with a theatre historian to check details, and the fourth a book I half-finished over a year ago, but found it too confronting to continue with. I’m currently looking at it to see if I can go on. However, the next book you might see in print is The Cricketer’s Arms, a book beta-read by the wonderful British author, Charlie Cochrane. It’s an old-fashioned, pulp-fiction style detective novel, set in 1956, involving cricket match fixing (and written before the dreadful controversy this time last year, how prescient of me) gang wars, and sex trafficking. It’s a cracker of an action mystery story, even if I say so myself.

Could we see an excerpt?

I’ve attached the first section, with the knowledge that it may not end up word for work in the final version once the glorious Victoria Milne has had her way with it.

I’d just put a fresh sheet of paper in the typewriter, typed the date at the top of the page, “Tuesday, 17th of January, 1956,” lit a cigarette, and stretched back while I got the first dozen or so words sorted out in my head, when someone thumped at my front door.
“Who is it?” I called out, as I walked down the hallway.
“It’s me.”
“Fuck off!” I said.
“Come on, Clyde. Open the door. It’s business.”
I turned and leaned against the wall of the hallway, out of sight of the ripple-glass panels of the door, and ran my hand through my hair. I didn’t want him here—not now, not ever. He began to pound at the door, and I began to worry about the neighbours.
“Clyde! I’m not going anywhere. Open the fucking door!”
I strode to the door in a fury, pulled it open, grabbed him by the tie and one lapel of his jacket, and then dragged him into my hallway, slamming the door shut behind us with my foot. Something in the kitchen rattled. We stood for what felt like five minutes, but which could only have been the same number of seconds. But, in those five seconds, I’d inspected every square inch of his face, fought the feeling of his body pressed up against mine, and taken a deep lungful of his breath in my face—he still smelled the same. Damn him.
“Hello, Clyde,” he said, cheekily, and then ran his hands up between mine and forced them apart. I let go of his tie and jacket. He took my cigarette from my mouth and took a puff. “Still smoking this shit?”
“What’s it to you, Sam?”
“You used to call me Sammy, Clyde.”
“You used not be to be an arsehole.”
He laughed in my face. We hadn’t moved, the toes of our shoes touching, our knees the same. I cursed myself inside. I had no self-control. I tried to move away from him, but he grabbed my shirtsleeve.
“Let go,” I growled.
“Or what?”

Where may we follow you online?

Website – https://garrickjones.com.au

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Stories of love in the past, present and future…

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