#SalesSaturday | A Touch of Spice by Ellie Thomas

Today, we have Ellie Thomas on a visit! She’s here to tell us about A Touch of Spice that’s released today 🥳 Welcome, Ellie!

Touch of Spice Promo 2

Thank you so much, lovely Ofelia, for having me as a guest on your blog today. I’m Ellie, and I write MM Historical Romance novellas. Today is release day for my new story, A Touch of Spice, set in Elizabethan London, so it’s great to celebrate that here!

I tend to write about a range of historical periods in my MM Romances, so I always enjoy trying to give my readers a flavour of the specific period in which my stories are set. The Tudor period is so colourful and immediate and yet so different from our 21st-century lives in terms of attitude and customs.

This is the second story about my couple, Gregory and Jehan, who got together in last year’s Valentine’s tale, The Spice of Life, set in the early 1570s. For my new story, it’s a year later in their ongoing romance, and they are hoping to live together after some delay to their plans. So I wanted to place them firmly in the streets of Elizabethan London with day-to-day life bustling around them.

Of course, resource books are an invaluable aid in conveying a specific era. As usual for all things Tudor, I snagged my copy of Ruth Goodman’s How To Be A Tudor, which relates everyday life from dawn to dusk.

It was such a great help with the details of Gregory and Jehan’s daily life as they manage the spice shop in a lane off bustling Fleet Street. After some reading, I could also describe street scenes in terms of what people wore, how they acted and what they might say. This is where Ruth Goodman’s book How to Behave Badly in Renaissance Britain came in handy. I mean, who could resist an entire chapter on insults?

Early in my story, after Gregory visits Jehan in the spice shop, he comes across an altercation about a badly parked cart blocking the street. I simply had to follow the pithy comebacks of the time when the carter runs out of patience and asks the interfering do-gooder to, “Kiss my arse!” Some insults are as effective now as they were then.

In writing gay historical stories, I’m always aware of the punitive laws in past centuries. In 1533 under English law, sex between two men became illegal and punishable by death. Since it was normal for men to share bedrooms and even beds without remark, the law seems at odds with established and accepted customs.

It was fascinating to learn from How to be a Tudor, that much of the population might have been confused or unaware as there was no specific explanation of sodomy in this law. As Ruth Goodman explains, “those who took part in male homosexual behaviour, as well as their friends, colleagues and neighbours, could simply fail to see the connection between that which was condemned and that which formed everyday life.”

In this way, I could imagine Gregory and Jehan peacefully settling into their new domesticity, sharing the business, a home and a bed, at least privately, like any young couple starting out together, with little fear of outside interference to their future happiness.

Touch of Spice Promo 1


Mistress Cecily looked up from her stitching with a smile as Gregory entered her sewing room. Gregory felt a sting of nostalgia, that increasing sensation of being caught between two worlds. The safe patterns of boyhood grated against the exciting challenges of impending adult independence as he passed the age of a serving lad, only tied to this place by family loyalty.

As a courtesy, Gregory reported the purchase of the nutmeg and delivered his lady’s remaining money. Mistress Cecily nodded her head absently without bothering to count the change.

“And how is young Master Zanini today?” Mistress Cecily inquired.

“Both he and his trade are doing well, and he sends his compliments,” Gregory replied, the courtesy causing Mistress Cecily to smile more widely.

The Master and Mistress, Gregory’s de facto parents, had been delighted when he broached the notion of entering into merchandising. Jehan’s skill and knowledge of the goods he sold were never in question but Master Crossley had previously dealt with the business side of running the shop where Jehan was apprenticed. So the newly established merchant had scant experience of running a business and little certainty in his ability to notate letters and numbers.

Here, Gregory held the advantage. Growing up in a considerable household and being involved in its daily management proved invaluable, and Master Robert had guided him through the rest, poring for hours over the business ledgers and discussing how best to invest Jehan’s store of sovereigns.

If Master Robert had gladly imparted his knowledge of bookkeeping, Mistress Cecily had immediately bestowed her patronage on the Ludgate shop. Gregory reckoned that Master Crossley would not be dismayed at losing such a prestigious customer since he owned both premises, but Mistress Cecily’s friendly support to Jehan was a boon, as well as her recommendation of his services.

A few months after Jehan started trading from the narrow shop, Gregory was set to join him, openly as a partner in the business and privately, to conduct their burgeoning love affair. In overcrowded London, it was usual for men to share a room or even a bed without inciting gossip or moral outrage. Additionally, there was a small upstairs front room in direct proportion to the shop below, ideal for keeping the shop’s records. This chamber had a decent-sized window overlooking the street, garnering enough natural daylight for scribing.

Gregory had been preparing to decamp to Ludgate permanently in the depths of winter, when Master Robert’s elderly father had fallen down from the icy front steps of the Bishopsgate house. The doctor declared that Master Edward was lucky to get away with shock and bruising and a clean break of the bone in one arm. Gregory was a particular favourite of the old gentleman and had attended him in recent years more from fondness than duty. After the accident, not only did Master Edward require more practical assistance until his limb was mended, but the shock of the injury suddenly aged and confused him. For some months, it seemed that only Gregory’s presence could restore his good humour.

Neither Master Robert nor Mistress Cecily expected Gregory to remain to tend to their kinsman, but he could not bear to leave under the circumstances. After all, he reasoned, they had unhesitatingly opened their home and hearts to an orphaned boy. It would be unthinkable to repay those long years of kindness with desertion, especially when the old master needed him.

When he tried to explain his decision to Jehan, he feared outright rejection, even the end of their dreams of forging a life together, but although Jehan’s expressive face was sombre at the disappointing tidings, his dark eyes were full of compassion. “Family comes first,” He said. “You can’t desert Master Edward now. I sympathise, and I would expect no less of you. After all, if you hadn’t stuck by me when I was in trouble, where would I be now? You’re not the kind of man to abandon loved ones to follow your own desires, and I cherish you all the more for that quality. Never fear, I can wait a while longer.”

A Touch of Spice

atouchofspiceIn the spring of 1573, twenty-one-year-old Gregory Fletcher is a happy man, set to move into the spice shop on London’s Ludgate Hill with his true love Jehan Zanini, who he spared from being condemned as a thief the year before.

But Gregory’s kind inclinations to help others in need tend to thwart the couple from fulfilling their dreams as Gregory delays living with Jehan to assist his adoptive family in a crisis.

Then William Anstell, their friend and the cause and saviour of Jehan’s previous problems, gets amorously involved with an unscrupulous tavern server and relies on Gregory and Jehan to resolve his embarrassing mess.

Can the lovers finally put aside distractions and other people’s problems to find lasting happiness?

Book links:

JMS Books :: Amazon :: Books2Read :: Goodreads :: Bookbub

About Ellie Thomas

Ellie Thomas lives by the sea. She comes from a teaching background and goes for long seaside walks where she daydreams about history. She is a voracious reader especially about anything historical. She mainly writes historical gay romance.

Ellie also writes historical erotic romance as L. E. Thomas.

Website: https://elliethomasromance.wordpress.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/elliethomasauthor/

Twitter: @e_thomas_author

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19835510.Ellie_Thomas

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/ellie-thomas

One thought on “#SalesSaturday | A Touch of Spice by Ellie Thomas

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s