Posts Tagged ‘historical romance’

I’ve been waiting for this one with considerable excitement because a) werewolves, b) historical that isn’t Regency!!! * c) it’s by Joanna Chambers with a cover by one of my favourite artists d) it’s available from today, and e) there’s a giveaway at her website where you could win a copy of the book and a $20 giftcard! Scroll down for details.


Gentleman Wolf (Capital Wolves duet #1)

An elegant werewolf in Edinburgh…

1788. When Lindsay Somerville, the most elegant werewolf in Paris, learns that the man who held him in abject captivity for decades is on his way to France, intent on recapturing him, he knows he must leave the Continent for his own safety. Lindsay cannot take the risk of being recaptured—he may have been free for a century but he can still feel the ghost of his old chains under his fine clothes.

… on a mission…

While he’s in Edinburgh, Lindsay has been tasked with acquiring the “Naismith Papers”, the writings of a long-dead witchfinder. It should be a straightforward mission—all Lindsay has to do is charm an elderly book collector, Hector Cruikshank. But Cruikshank may not be all he seems, and there are others who want the papers.

… meets his match

As if that were not enough, while tracking down the Naismith Papers, Lindsay meets stubborn architect Drew Nicol. Although the attraction between them is intense, Nicol seems frustratingly determined to resist Lindsay’s advances. Somehow though, Lindsay can’t seem to accept Nicol’s rejection. Is he just moonstruck, or is Nicol bonded to him in ways he doesn’t yet understand?

Note: this is the first book of a duology – the story continues and will complete in the second book, Master Wolf.



* This is in no way to suggest that I dislike Regency but it was only NINE years and I get very excited to see some of those other many thousands of years getting some attention.

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I’ve always felt very privileged to host authors on my site, especially when it gives me a chance to meet new people. Sarah Ash has just had her first historical novel published with Manifold Press, though she is no stranger to the book world having many very enticing fantasy series listed on her website, and I hope we will soon see more from her.

Thank you Sarah, for answering my questions so kindly.

1/Have you been writing for long? Do you still remember your first story?

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I started off with little poems and plays that I persuaded my (long-suffering) school friends to act in but I finished my first novel when I was thirteen, a fantasy called The Miglas set in and around Wookey Hole (heavily influenced by Alan Garner). After that I just carried on but – although I was invited to talk to an editor and was very nearly published as a teenager – it didn’t happen and I went off to train as a musician instead.

2/Was there anything in particular that triggered the idea for Scent of Lilies? Have you ever been to Istanbul?

Scent of Lilies grew from my first ever published short story Ninufar’s Kiss which was all about Tekla. I’d been listening to Bulgarian folk songs (the amazing voices of Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares which still gives me goosebumps) and the characters just turned up (as they do). I’ve never been to Istanbul (Crete is the closest I’ve come) but a visit some years ago to the Chapelle des Moines in Burgundy with its wonderful 11th-12th century Byzantine frescoes by an unknown team of artists inspired me to do research as to how the artists worked. The main protagonist of my fantasy trilogy The Tears of Artamon, Gavril, is a portraitist (his mother Elysia is also a painter) so I seem to be fascinated by artists and the magic they wield.

3/What is your favourite genre to write/read? Is there one you would love to have a bash at/one that you’d avoid like rattlesnakes?

I like to read and write genre mash-ups. So although fantasy is my main genre as a writer, I’m thrilled to have a story coming out in The Alchemy Book of Horror #2 later this year.

4/What are you working on now?

I’m currently doing edits on The Arkhel Conundrum, Book 4 of The Tears of Artamon. It’s been a while since I returned to these characters but readers kept asking me ‘What happened to Gavril and Kiukiu?’ so I hope they won’t be disappointed with the new developments!

5/ Can we please have an excerpt?

With pleasure… here’s an extract from Scent of Lilies

book cover showing water liliesIt was late afternoon and the sun was already dipping westwards, flooding the isthmus with a dazzle of golden light. Damian turned to gaze upwards at Saint Thekla: a large tiled dome, the intricate masonry beneath sun-gilded from grey to rich ochre.

He took in a deep breath. This was the moment. His career depended on it. He reached for the iron handle on the great wooden door, turned it, pushed, heard the slow creak of the hinges go echoing into the high-vaulted recesses beyond, and went in.

Acrid smell of new lime plaster, white dust like fine sand coating the new floor tiles and somewhere further in, the hollow tap and drag of a builder’s trowel smoothing mortar against brick.

He stood a while, blinking, until his eyes became accustomed to the shadows, the flagstones chill beneath his feet.

A faint, dusty light was filtering into the church from many-paned windows high above the nave. Tentatively, he moved toward it. Tall columns of somber marble loomed out of the darkness. He put out a hand and touched their smooth chill, shivering as he did so.

His footfall echoed and re-echoed around the silent church. Perhaps Alastor had finished work for the day. It would be hard to work in this gloom for too long without risking eyestrain.

And suddenly he found himself beneath the central dome with shafts of light swimming with golden motes glinting in from a circle of high-arched windows set high above, catching flame in his dark hair. Beyond in the dimness he could just make out the planks and ladders of a ramshackle construction of half-completed scaffolding.


The choked whisper came from high above, echoing round and round the dome. Startled, Damian peered uncertainly up into the shadows, the dusty light falling full on his face.

“M-M-M-Maestros Alastor?”

“Who the devil are you and what do you want?”


Author bio

Sarah Ash trained as a musician but writing fantasy novels has allowed her to explore her fascination with the way mythology and history overlap and interact (her second published novel Songspinners is set in an ‘alternate’ eighteenth century Bath, her home city).The five novels in the epic fantasy Artamon sequence (Random House) are also set in an alternate eighteenth century world – with daemons and dragons. The recent Tide Dragons series grew from Sarah’s love of all things Japanese (especially manga and anime which she regularly reviews). It draws on the ancient legend of the Tide Jewels and the lifestyle of the Heian imperial court. Book 1 The Flood Dragon’s Sacrifice is available in ebook and paperback formats; Book 2 Emperor of the Fireflies is now available in ebook format!  http://www.sarah-ash.com   @sarah_ash7



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It’s always fun to try something new and, for me, this week, it’s a podcast story. I’ve listened before to Night Vale – who hasn’t? – but I’ve never listened to an audio book or heard a story read by an actor in a less formal setting.

This came about as part of a Facebook thread on the Queer Sci Fi group. We were all invited to post about what we wrote – which meant I was completely out of place since the majority of my work is historical – and then the person who made the original post paired off all the writers with the idea that we could read each other’s work and maybe do a bit of cross promotion. I’m delighted to say that I was paired up with Heather Rose Jones whose rendering of the stories of the Mabinogion as Merchinogion are absolutely my type of thing to read.

My favourite edition of the Mabinogion is the one illustrated by Alan Lee

The Mabinogion is a collection of ancient stories that weren’t written down until the 12th century and weren’t properly translated until the 19th century. Lady Charlotte Guest, a friend of our local Welsh loving Lady Llanover, made the first translations expanding upon previous work by scholar William Pughe. These stories contain many of the themes found in British mythology and also some of the oldest references to King Arthur. Just for clarity, in Welsh ‘mab’ means son/boys so Mabinogion is stories of the sons – ‘merch’ = daughters/girls 🙂 and that makes a lovely change.

Heather’s stories also feature a leading lady called Elin who is WAY cooler than I am!

Even more interesting – these stories have been produced as a podcast so you can listen to them or read the text. I particularly enjoyed the bilingual blurbs. I may not know more than basic Welsh but it’s a lovely language to hear spoken. Because it is an ancient language it has had to work hard to catch up with the 21st century. Old words take on new meanings and so the language builds up layer upon layer. The first story “Hoywverch” can be split neatly – hoyw and verch – and could be rendered merely as ‘gay women’ according to the dictionary, but scrape away just a little from the surface and they are also “radiant, illuminated and brilliant ladies” and I find that very satisfying. Book two is entitled “Hyddwen” – the white deer – and that taps straight into a powerful otherworldly celtic motif. These stories are beautifully written, with a wonderful rhythm to them and delicate little descriptions spark throughout the plot.

Here is Hoywverch and here Hyddwen. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.


Heather Rose Jones writes fantasy, historic fantasy, and historical fiction, including the Alpennia series with swordswomen and magic in an alternate Regency setting. She blogs about research into lesbian-like motifs in history and literature at the Lesbian Historic Motif Project which provides inspiration for her fiction. She has a PhD in linguistics, studying metaphor theory and the semantics of Medieval Welsh prepositions, and works as an industrial failure investigator in biotech.

Heather has a page on Facebook and can also be found on Twitter.

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comfy chairHappy Thursday!
Today I have a brand new-to-me author in my Comfy Chair. Alyson Pearce is an American transplant currently living in London, where she works full time in publishing and as an author of M/M romances. She fell in love with romances after discovering her grandmother’s library and hasn’t looked back. As a member of the LGBT community, she believes that everyone deserves their chance at a happily ever after.

She has recently released a new series set in the Regency period that follows the adventures and misadventures of a group of gentlemen who are artistically inclined.

Welcome Alyson

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

I’m an American by birth, currently living in London while I finish up a masters in Publishing. My passion is romance, of course, but I also love crime, fantasy, and historical fiction. I came to the M/M romance genre through a mix of M/F romance and M/M fanfiction. I found the subgenres of romance I enjoyed (mainly historical, with some paranormal as well) and the tropes I enjoyed in fanfiction. Then I decided to combine the two, both in reading and in writing, which opened up a whole new, exciting world. After reading Bonnie Dee and Summer Devon’s Seducing Stephen and The Gentleman and the Rogue, I tried writing my own novel, and that became The Viscount and the Artist.

In that crucial inspiration stage of a new story which comes first? Plot, situation or character?

Normally I’ll get a glimpse of characters in a situation. For Andrew and Jeremy, it was “what if this peer who didn’t want to be a peer fell in love with an artist?” I had the roughest picture of who Andrew and Jeremy were as characters—kind of like looking at one of those pixilated Classical art works. You know more or less who they are, but not the specifics. Before I write a single word, though, I flesh them out and get to know them as well as possible, that way I know how they would react to a certain situation.

The Viscount and the Artist is the first of what will surely be a long series. When writing series, what measures do you take to keep track of those annoying little details – eye/hair/skin colour, preferred mode of transport, rank or profession, quirks or mannerisms – that are so easy to drop into text and so easy to forget about but will be needed in the next book?

I keep a story bible with all of the series information in it. All of my characters have multiple pages of character sheets, down to the smallest quirk. I also include setting details, historical details, timelines, family trees, and so on to try and keep everything organised. With each book, I add to the story bible.

Villains are incredibly important in fiction since they challenge the main protagonists and give them something to contend with beyond the tension of a developing relationship. The cruel sea. The serial killer. The society itself. Your hero’s inner demons. What sort of villains do you prize?

I love sympathetic villains. In The Viscount and the Artist, the main villain is absolutely society, but that leads to two physical villains—one you see coming and one that’s a bit of a surprise, so I won’t give too much away. With each of those villains, I did my best to make them more than just the ‘bad guy.’ Lady Dersingham isn’t just the woman who’s trying to wed Andrew. She’s also a widow who’s trying to find some source of stability in a world that doesn’t cater to women. And the mystery villain I won’t spoil also battles with their own inner demons, although I have to admit this villain is far less sympathetic. Writing villains you can identify with and sympathise with is just more fun for me, and I think it adds another great element to the story.

Could we please have an excerpt of something?

Instead of remaining in the library, Jeremy explored the house. He hadn’t had much of a chance to the day before, and since this was to be his home for the next two weeks, he wanted to be able to find his way around. When he had accompanied his father on the many dinners Richard had invited them to, he only saw the ground level. There was much left to explore. Making his way through the drawing room and past Andrew’s study, he paused outside the parlour. The door was partially closed, but he could hear voices from inside.
“…can’t ask that of me yet. I’ve only just come into the inheritance.” The voice was unmistakably Andrew’s.
“Even so, as it stands, there is no heir. What if something happens to you?” Phoebe asked.
Andrew scoffed. “Nothing is going to happen to me.”
“We thought nothing would happen to Nathaniel. We thought nothing would happen to Papa. You need to be married, and soon. I suggest by the end of the Season.”
Married? Jeremy couldn’t see Andrew as the marrying kind. Even if he preferred the company of women to that of men, he didn’t seem like the type to settle down.
“And I suppose you already have a candidate in mind?” Andrew asked.
“Lady Dersingham.”
“Lady Dersingham?” Andrew’s voice was sharp. “You would have me—your own cousin—marry that harpy?”
“That harpy happens to be one of my closest friends. I see nothing wrong with her,” came Phoebe’s haughty tone. “It’s common knowledge that she fancies you. She’s already invited you to her ball. It would be the perfect chance for you to get to know her.”
“I don’t want to get to know her! Besides, she’s only just come out of mourning.”
“Which makes this the perfect time for her to seek another marriage.”
“And what of the fact that she’s a scheming, self-centred excuse for a woman?”
“Again, I will remind you that she is a dear friend. If you really feel that way about her, I suggest the two of you go your own way after your marriage is consummated. As long as you produce an heir, I see no problem.”


The Viscount and the Artist

Andrew Cardwell is a man driven by duty to his country and to his family. After the death of his uncle, he’s determined to provide security and stability for his family as the new Viscount Cardwell—even if that means marrying and producing an heir. Surprising himself, Andrew decides to sponsor a young artist named Jeremy for the season, to help him find a patron. What he doesn’t anticipate is how well Jeremy fits in his bed…and his life.

Jeremy Leighton knows what it’s like to be a disappointment. The only son of a vicar, he’s refused to follow the path his father set for him, choosing his passion for art, instead. He accepts Andrew’s proposal, hoping to prove to his father—and himself—that he can succeed as an artist. After spending time with Andrew in and out of bed, Jeremy struggles not to fall for the damaged viscount, knowing the season will likely end in Andrew’s engagement.

Between a meddling cousin, a widow on the hunt for a new husband, and their own doubts about the relationship, how can Andrew and Jeremy shed the expectations of others to find true happiness?

Buy Links:
Amazon – http://bit.ly/ViscountandtheArtist
Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1535207388
Are – http://bit.ly/TVATAARE
B&N – http://bit.ly/TVATABN

About Alyson

Dear reader,

Allow me to tell you a bit about myself. I fell in love with stories at the tender age of five. With a librarian for a grandmother and an English and History teacher for a grandfather, I suppose it was fated. My first stories were records of my time spent at their house, embellished here and there when I felt the need. I soon moved on to re-writing pop culture classics like Star Wars. Unsurprisingly, those were abandoned as soon as I learned what copyright was.

Over the next few years, I developed a love of fantasy and historical fiction, and tried my hand at writing both. During that time I also picked up my first romance in the basement of my grandmother’s house. It wasn’t until I started writing fanfiction, though, that I actually started writing romance. That was also where I discovered slash fiction. I quickly added in m/m fiction to my reading, and eventually decided to give writing it a go.

The Viscount and the Artist is my first novel.

Website – http://www.alysonpearce.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/AlysonPearceAuthor/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/pearce_alyson

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Book One Synopsis


Stiles Langberry leaves England under the dark cloud of blackmail.

He resettles in America with a new name, becoming a Pinkerton Agent.

His new employer sends him undercover to a brothel that serves homosexual men, where prostitutes are being murdered. In the course of his investigation, he becomes involved with Paul, one of the prostitutes. Complicating matters, one of the suspects draws Stiles like no man before him. Stiles knows he must stop the killer before he strikes again.


Book One Synopsis


Pinkerton Agent Stiles Long is sent to the Circle W Ranch to uncover who is killing the ranch’s cattle. In order to discover the truth about the goings on at the ranch, Stiles has to prove to the ranchers he’s more than a good-looking city slicker.

Savage Beare, the head ranch foreman, is far from happy that Stiles is there to check things out. He has secrets of his own.

Stiles finds Savage incredibly good-looking, but cold and aloof.

He’s also a suspect. One of many.

When Stiles’ best friend and partner, Lizzie Ferguson, is kidnapped things begin to shake apart.

Stiles doesn’t trust anyone and he needs to find Lizzie before it’s too late.


Buy Links

Don’t miss the discounted pre-order and buy prices until 48 hours after release!

WIP: http://www.waywardinkpublishing.com/product/pinkerton-man-series-by-cj-baty/
ARe: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-pinkertonmanseries-2058762-158.html
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Pinkerton-Man-Books-One-Two-ebook/dp/B01H1ZCQTE/
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Pinkerton-Man-Books-One-Two-ebook/dp/B01H1ZCQTE/
Amazon AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/Pinkerton-Man-Books-One-Two-ebook/dp/B01H1ZCQTE/
Amazon DE: https://www.amazon.de/Pinkerton-Man-Books-One-Two-ebook/dp/B01H1ZCQTE/



STILES LANGBERRY HAD thought his world was perfect. He was considered handsome by most women and men. His father had graciously left him a very tidy sum upon his death, to do with as he pleased. His position of constable at Scotland Yard was one he enjoyed, mostly because he didn’t have to work for a living. And most importantly of all, he had the perfect discreet lover in the winsome Viscount Harold Crosby. Life was good, until…

Several months ago, the first letter had come. A blackmailer’s letter. It was descriptive, citing times and places he and Harry had enjoyed each other’s company. He ignored it. He told Harry to ignore the one he received as well. But Viscount Crosby turned out to be a coward wrapped up in a beautiful package.

Harry paid the requested amount and, by doing so, admitted his relationship with Stiles and opened the door to more letters. They came more frequently, demanding larger and larger sums of money.

Stiles refused to pay the demands and, since Harry was filling the filthy blackmailer’s pockets, the fiend had left him somewhat alone. That is, until poor Harry offed himself and the vile beast’s money stream dried up.

He still refused to pay, and shortly the letters stopped as suddenly as they had begun. Stiles hoped that whoever the blackmailer was, he’d given up or, more than likely, switched to some other poor sod for his pennies. He soon found out that wasn’t the case.

Book Trailer

About the author

CJ BATY lives in southwest Ohio with her very patient husband and two encouraging children. Her heart however, lives in the mountains of Tennessee where she hopes to retire some day. The mountains have always provided her with inspiration and a soothing balm to the stresses of everyday life.

The dream of writing her own stories started in high school but was left on the back burner of life until her son introduced her to Fan Fiction and encouraged her to give it a try. She found that her passion for telling a story was still there and writing them down to share with others was much more thrilling than she had ever expected.

One thing she has learned from life and she is often heard to say is, “You are never too old to follow your dream!”

C.J. BATY can be found at:

Website: http://cjbaty.blogspot.com.au/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=344242482358480&fref=ts
Twitter: https://twitter.com/cbaty

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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.


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?


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.


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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It’s not long to wait until Rag and Bone is out – a full length novel set in the Magpie world and featuring brand new protagonists but as a lovely little taster, here is A Queer Trade, introducing Ned and Crispin and a brand new type of magic.


Title: A Queer Trade

Author:K J Charles

Pages: approx 50

Available: NOW


Apprentice magician Crispin Tredarloe returns to London to find his master dead, and his papers sold. Papers with secrets that could spell death. Crispin needs to get them back before anyone finds out what he’s been doing, or what his magic can do.

Crispin tracks his quarry down to waste paper dealer Ned Hall. He needs help, and Ned can’t resist Crispin’s pleading—and appealing—looks. But can the waste-man and the magician prevent a disaster and save Crispin’s skin?

A 16,000 word story set in the Charm of Magpies world, and a prequel to the novel Rag and Bone (March 2016). This story was first published as part of the Charmed & Dangerous anthology.


Ned Hall, waste-man, was not enjoying his day.

He was generally happy in his work. It wasn’t a job for the weak, heaving waste down narrow stairs and hauling the handcart over cobbled or rutted streets, and after a while you could never get the paper dust out of your skin, but he liked it. Liked dickering over ha’pennies, liked seeing the odds and sods that came up in the piles, and mostly liked being his own master, a very long way from the docks.
It was a good life. A queer trade, to be sure, selling on psalters to wrap pork in, or dead men’s love letters to go round an ounce of baccy, but it suited him. So it was impossible to say just what was wrong now.
Ned pulled at his ear, scratched inside it with a finger. He’d done that so often it was beginning to feel sore, but he couldn’t stop, because he couldn’t shift the feeling that he could almost, not quite, but maybe, if he could just turn his head the right way, hear something.
Except there was nothing there to hear, and it was driving him to Bedlam.
He clapped both palms to his ears, gave them a rub so vigorous that he felt they might come clean off, and was engaged in that undignified act when a knock came from behind.
“Mr. Neddy Hall?”
Ned turned to look, and blinked. A gentleman, of sorts, stood in the doorway, in a tentative sort of way, like he was trying not to be there. A flash sort, dandyish clothes. Slim, no great height, or age either: about twenty, Ned reckoned. A narrow, nervy sort of face, and a head of hay-coloured hair, that yellow-brown shade.
“That’s Ned, if you don’t mind. Something I can do for you, sir?” The ‘sir’ was for the clothes, mostly: there was something about the way the visitor stood, hip tilted and weight on one foot, that didn’t say authority.
“Um, I’m trying to find some waste paper. Can you help me?”
Ned spread his arms wide, an invitation to look around that the young man took up, reddening as he grasped the silent point. The small room was paper from floor to ceiling, great piles and drifts of it, mounds of the stuff, white and yellow and browning, plain and printed and scrawled upon, a few bundles bound with string, most loose.
“You want waste, I’ve got it. How many hundredweight?”
“I mean, some specific paper,” the young man said, a little reproachfully, as if Ned should have known that. He had a trace of one of those country accents that sounded like a stage pirate talking, so you could hear the r in ‘paper’. “My ma— My, uh, teacher died and the house was cleared while I was away. They sold a lot of papers they shouldn’t have and they wouldn’t tell me where they sold them, and I have to find them. It’s terribly important.”
His eyes were wide and pleading, Ned observed, but the greater part of his brain was taken up with the observation that the toff talked like a molly. Not like the Cleveland Street boys, or anything. Just, a light voice that danced a bit and put a lot of stress on a few words, the sort of voice that made you think, I know your sort.
And the molly knew he knew, because the colour swept across his pale skin. “Can you help?” he asked, and there was an obvious effort to go a bit more manly there.
“What name?” Ned asked.
“Uh, Tredarloe. Crispin Tredarloe.” The young man did something Ned would never have predicted: he stepped forward and put out his hand. “Pleased to meet you, Mr. Hall.”

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Author Bio:

I’m a writer of romance, mostly m/m, often historical or fantasy or both.

I’m also a freelance editor, and I blog about writing and editing at kjcharleswriter.com.

I live in London, UK, with two kids, a tolerant husband and an even more tolerant cat.

Follow me on Twitter @kj_charles or friend me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/kj.charles.9

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