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Wishing Rebecca Cohen a very happy release day for the latest in the Crofton Chronicles.

I read it while it was under construction and I must say it had everything I demand from a historical – loads of authenticity, a cracking romp-along plot and characters to die for. 

And can I say what a fabulous cover Garrett Leigh has produced for it. Just stunning

I’ll be hosting Rebecca for a Comfy Chair session later in the week, but for now here’s the blurb and some links:

James Redbourn, Viscount of Crofton, enjoys all the pleasures King Charles II’s Restoration court affords him. His encounter with the enigmatic Chivalrous Highwayman in Epping Forest, sets the court aflame. Tales of the charming rogue treating his latest victim with his usual gentle hand has ladies’ fans quivering with every whisper.

While the Chivalrous Highwayman is a delicious fantasy, it is the intriguing Adam Dowson, the son of one of the greatest Cavalier generals, who is firing James’s daytime desires. Their friendship might be growing stronger, but Adam seems to be one of the few men who is impervious to James’s charms, no matter how hard James tries.

When James’s father become deathly ill, James races home. He is ill-prepared to become the 4th Earl of Crofton, and his father’s vague but dire warnings on his deathbed only make matters worse. Now the earl, James must discover what is happening at Crofton Hall that had troubled his father so deeply.

James turns to Adam for help. Despite Adam’s own secrets, James trusts him. James hopes he’s not making a mistake, risking his family estate, and his already bruised heart. Together, they need to work to clear out the rotten core at Crofton Hall, and along the way secure a happy future for them both.

James. Earl of Crofton

Amazon UK

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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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I think we all have favourite books that stay with us for a long time. This is one of my top reads, and also one that made it a little hard for me to sleep at night because ooh boy some bits are viscerally upsetting. But there’s a happy ending too, and that’s important.

fingerprints

The Definitive Albert J. Sterne
by Julie Bozza

Tag line: An obnoxiously immovable object is partnered with an undeniably irresistible force – in pursuit of a cruelly imperturbable serial killer.

Review snippet: “a terrific novel, ambitious in both its scope and complexity”, LadyM for Reviews by Jessewave

Introduction: This well-respected novel was Runner Up (equal third) in the Best LGBT Mystery/Thriller category of the Rainbow Awards 2011. It is now being re-released, after first being published in two volumes by Manifold Press. The original novel and companion anthology have been stitched back together into one long tale.

Blurb: Albert Sterne, forensics expert with the FBI, is so obnoxious on the surface that no one bothers digging deeper. When he’s sent to Colorado to investigate the work of a serial killer, he encounters Special Agent Fletcher Ash and they end up reluctantly joining forces to unravel the case. It’s only a matter of duty, though; it can’t be more, because Albert doesn’t do friendship – and he certainly doesn’t do love!

Genre: gay fiction; contemporary; love story; serial killer thriller; not a romance!
Word count: 226,000 words
Publisher: LIBRAtiger
Release date: 16 April 2019
Formats: eBook, paperback

Buy links:
• Universal Buy Link: https://books2read.com/b/bpjyBJ
• Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B07QGM44WN/
• Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07QGM44WN/
• Amazon AU: http://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B07QGM44WN/
• Amazon DE: http://www.amazon.de/dp/B07QGM44WN/
• Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/932637
• Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1116840309?ean=2940156040803
• Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/the-definitive-albert-j-sterne-1
• Google Play: http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN9781925869125
• iTunes US: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-definitive-albert-j-sterne/id1459015054?mt=11

<<0>>

Author bio:

Julie Bozza is an Aussie-English hybrid empowered by writing, fuelled by espresso, calmed by knitting, overexcited by photography, and madly in love with Amy Adams and John Keats.

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I’ve been looking forward so much to this book’s release. I betaed two of the drafts and have been blown away by the way the story has been developed. Such an exciting and satisfying tale.

Highly recommended to anyone who enjoys tales featuring WW2, spies, gay culture and a love story.

 

Book Cover showing a young bearded man with the sea and a submarine in the background

 

Under the Radar

 Tagline

Navigating the deep waters of war and love.

The Book

It’s 1942 and after a sexual indiscretion, US Navy pilot Zachary MacKenzie is sent to serve in the Royal Navy’s submarine service—a shockingly harsh punishment for a man who loves to fly. The submarine is oppressive and frustrating for him, and he’s marked out from his peers, publicly by being American, and privately by his attraction to men.

The only bright spot is the company of his steward, sonar operator Gethin Llewelyn. Despite the differences of rank and background, they’re drawn to each other. Gethin’s integrity complements Zach’s casual joie de vivre, and soon the friendship develops into something much more.

As the threats of war increase, the submarine is plagued by potentially hostile vessels, and circumstances lead them to suspect there’s a spy amongst their own crew. Being forced even closer together as they work for the greater good reveals a new awareness, and Zach doesn’t know what is in more danger, the vessel under his charge or his heart.

Author recommendation

From Polari to Polaris, it’s never been just the nice girls who love a sailor. Lillian Francis effortlessly evokes the claustrophobia and camaraderie of life—and forbidden love—aboard a WW2 submarine. – JL Merrow

Word count: ~138,500

Cover designed by Tiferet Design

Buy Links: Kobo // Payhip // B&N // Smashwords

Universal Amazon link:

mybook.to/UndertheRadar_LF

 

Add it to your Goodreads bookshelf here.

                                                

About the Author

Lillian Francis is a self-confessed geek who likes nothing more than settling down with a comic or a good book, except maybe writing. Given a notepad, pen, her Kindle, and an infinite supply of chocolate Hob Nobs and she can lose herself for weeks. Romance was never her reading matter of choice, so it came as a great surprise to all concerned, including herself, to discover a romance was exactly what she’d written, and not the rollicking spy adventure or cosy murder mystery she always assumed she’d write.

http://lillianfrancis.blogspot.co.uk/

Twitter @LillianFrancis_

Facebook

Facebook Author Page

Lillian’s Lovefest – FB group

BookBub

Goodreads

Sign up for my newsletter

Email: lillianfrancis@rocketmail.com

 

 

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It’s been a tense week for all kinds of reasons, some personal and tense for the wrong kinds of reasons and some book related because Midnight Flit flew the nest. Naturally I have been reading to calm myself down. This week it has been crime drama and I have 2 recommendations, because I enjoyed them equally for very different reasons.

The first was Murder of a Straw Man, book 1 of the Dancing Detective series by Robyn Beecroft. Not a romance, though there is potential, it very much falls within the genre of very very British cosy/quirky mysteries but this one has a more then usually engaging and diverse cast. At the end of the story a few threads are left dangling, but that is FINE as it’s book one of a series and good series need through plot, don’t they. Book 2 is available, which is nice.

The second was Kill Game, book one of the Seven of Spades mysteries by Cordelia Kingsbridge. This is very much an American book – hard boiled characters walking mean streets, and the murders are MORE, more plentiful, more graphic – but the characters are differently engaging and equally diverse. Like the Straw Man there is a through plot but this one is more of a cliff hanger and I’m looking forward to reading the several other books in the series when my book budget allows.

Morris dancers in rural scene bloodspattered seven of spades
book title
book title

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Sometimes it’s really worth checking out backlists. There are some marvellous books out there but with hundreds of new titles every week it can be very hard to find them.
Authors – have you got a title a year or more old that could do with a little love?
Readers – have you got a favourite book that you think deserves some attention?

Message or email me and we’ll set something up.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I have a double favourite this week. My guest is Charlie Cochrane, one of my favourite people, and the book is Awfully Glad, one of my favourites of her books. It isn’t very long but it covers themes close to my heart – people who dare to be themselves and who have the courage to try and get what they really want even though the odds are stacked against them. Please do check it out, I’m sure you’ll love it as much as I do.

Blurb:

WWI hero Sam Hines is used to wearing a face that isn’t his own. When he’s not in the trenches, he’s the most popular female impersonator on the front, but a mysterious note from an anonymous admirer leaves him worried. Everyone realizes—eventually—that Sam’s not a woman, but has somebody also worked out that he also prefers his lovers to be male?

When Sam meets—and falls for—fellow officer Johnny Browne after the war, he wonders whether he could be the man who wrote the note. If so, is he the answer to Sam’s dreams or just another predatory blackmailer, ready to profit from a love that dare not speak its name?

Excerpt:

Corry ushered the gaggle of officers out, leaving Sam alone with the business of casting off one persona and putting his real face back on. While being Madeleine was always exhilarating—especially when some poor dupe fell for the trick—he was more comfortable in his own skin. He knew men who weren’t, of course, who’d have envied him this opportunity to prance about onstage and garner the temporarily deluded worship of ranks of young men, but that wasn’t his cup of tea. Somehow his being a rugby-playing, Military Cross-winning officer added a certain authority to the deception. A female impersonator he might be, but nobody would ever accuse him of being a pansy.
He considered his reflection, which was almost passable now that the red patches on his face, where he’d smeared off the make-up, had faded and his hair had been towelled to a tawny dark blond. He looked younger than twenty-seven, barely a touch of six o’clock shadow, which was why Madeleine was always so authentic looking, of course. He’d make some young lady a wonderful husband, as his family kept reminding him.
Except that was on the bottom of his list of priorities, possibly even below getting himself stuck on a piece of barbed wire.
Make some chap a lovely husband? Yes, well, less chance of that happening than George V coming out here, shaking the Kaiser’s hand, and putting this whole mess to an end right now. Still, he couldn’t deny that the last few minutes had been pleasant. Corry was a great bloke—if he knew, then he was keeping his own counsel—and the ginger-headed lad had blushed rather attractively, even if the rest of his face seemed to consist of rough and pockmarked terrain.
The other two officers had been a treat for the eye, though. Did somebody in the regiment have an eye for a handsome face and make sure the pair had been assigned to the same battalion?
A small shape, just at the corner of Sam’s vision, caught his attention: a small piece of writing paper, or something else of the same colour, between two jars of make-up on the makeshift dressing table.
He prised the thing out—a little piece of paper, which had clearly been folded with great care before being wedged in such a position as to be visible only to someone sitting in the chair. It hadn’t been there before the show, and he’d swear it hadn’t been there at the interval nor straight after they’d taken their curtain call, either. Which meant, presumably, that one of his little gaggle of visitors had left it. Except he hadn’t noticed anybody put it there, or even one of the officers touching the jars on the table. Someone must have had a good tactical eye, an appreciation for the lay of the dressing-table land, and the ability to make a bold but discreet move. That hardly narrowed the field, did it? They were army officers, after all.
He turned the paper in his hand, imagining some poor chump of a second lieutenant writing love lines to Miss Madeleine, leaving them here, and then not being able to retrieve them after the great denouement had occurred. How that chap would be squirming now at the thought of Sam reading the lines he’d penned and having a good laugh over them. Perhaps it would be kinder just to chuck the note in the bin, rather than making the man suffer embarrassment. He might have put his name to it, after all.
Still…

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I asked Charlie for a recommendation and this is what she said:

Too much choice! I’ll go with the first book which came to mind, which is Tamara Allen’s charming Whistling in the Dark. Such a gentle, atmospheric and beautifully written book, conjuring up a post-war America that’s trying hard to re-find its feet.

Whistling in the Dark

Biog and links: As Charlie Cochrane couldn’t be trusted to do any of her jobs of choice—like managing a rugby team—she writes. Her favourite genre is gay fiction, sometimes historical (sometimes hysterical) and usually with a mystery thrown into the mix.

She’s a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, Mystery People, and International Thriller Writers Inc., with titles published by Carina, Samhain, Bold Strokes Books, Lethe, MLR, and Riptide. She regularly appears with The Deadly Dames and is on the organising team for UK Meet.

To sign up for her newsletter, email her at cochrane.charlie2@googlemail.com, or catch her at:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/charlie.cochrane.18
Twitter: http://twitter.com/charliecochrane
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2727135.Charlie_Cochrane
Blogs: http://charliecochrane.livejournal.com and https://charliecochrane.wordpress.com/
Website: http://www.charliecochrane.co.uk

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Sometimes it’s really worth checking out backlists. There are some marvellous books out there but with hundreds of new titles every week it can be very hard to find them.
Authors – have you got a title a year or more old that could do with a little love?
Readers – have you got a favourite book that you think deserves some attention? Message or email me and we’ll set something up.

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My guest this week is Alexa Milne and the book is Sporting Chance, which has the utterly winning combination of love, Wales and rugby. I have no idea how I missed this one when it came out!!

 

Blurb

Sometimes keeping hold of love is just as hard as finding it.
Dan and Iestyn are looking for romance. A school trip, a love of history, a wedding, a tango, the game of chess, and their friends and family all help the two men to realise that they’ve finally found true love with each other.
Iestyn thinks that he’s completely ordinary and that Dan is the only out and currently gay rugby player anywhere. Being gay can be difficult enough. Being famous also has its problems. But being gay, famous and a sportsman can make finding love complicated. So when Dan Morgan meets Iestyn Jones and gives him his phone number, their road ahead has more than a few bumps to overcome.
Will Iestyn and Dan overcome the obstacles thrown in their paths? Or will fame destroy their lives as well as their love?

Buy links
Publisher – https://www.pride-publishing.com/book/sporting-chance
Amazon UK – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sporting-Chance-Alexa-Milne-ebook/dp/B00PC750DS
Amazon US – http://www.amazon.com/Sporting-Chance-Alexa-Milne-ebook/dp/B00PC750DS
All Romance – https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-sportingchance-1667146-149.html
Kobo – https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/sporting-chance-1
Barnes and Noble – http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/alexa+milne?_requestid=352600

Excerpt

Chapter 1

Oh hell!

His arse hit the ice.

This was going to be so embarrassing.

He really should have looked where he was going and taken more care. It wasn’t that he meant to show off in front of the kids when they’d goaded him into demonstrating how he could skate backward. But that was how he found himself crashing into another body, a rather large male body, then scrabbling, unsuccessfully, to try to get himself up as he apologised. Iestyn heard the kids laughing. How the hell was he going to get up and retain some sort of dignity? Whose bloody idea had it been to come on this skating trip from school, and why had he volunteered to go? He heard a voice—a rather gorgeous lyrical voice—say something, but he wasn’t sure what. He found himself looking up into the face of the most handsome man he’d ever seen.

“Would you like some help getting up?” the vision said, holding out a hand.

Iestyn took the help offered and let the good-looking stranger pull him to his feet. He was shocked to find, when he’d stood up, that the man appeared to be significantly taller than his own nearly six feet.

“Thanks,” he said, brushing the ice from his trousers. He glanced over to find the kids staring at him. “What? You’ve seen a man fall over before, haven’t you? Even a teacher.”

But they just kept on staring at the man who had helped him up.

I asked Alexa for a recommendation and this is what she said:

The book I’m going to pick is The Salisbury Key by Harper Fox. This is one of the first mm books I read and I was lucky enough to win a signed copy in a competition. I enjoyed the story because it wasn’t a straight forward romance and it was set in Britain. Some might  think the relationship between the two main characters moved too quickly, but for me they worked. The story involved solving a mystery as well as archaeology. The sex was well written – there, but not intrusive to the story. Overall, it was a great read.

Goodreads page – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/9848848-the-salisbury-key?from_new_nav=true&ac=1&from_search=true

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