Today, the lovely Ellie Thomas is back on the blog! She’s talking tropes in her Regency box set, Gentlemen in Love, which is released today!!! Welcome, Ellie!
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. My first box set of previously published Regency stories is now on release, so in this blog, I’ll be chatting about the six stories in Gentlemen in Love.
In terms of popular MM Romance tropes, many of my stories contain an element of Hurt/Comfort. That’s particularly apparent in A Christmas Cotillion, where my MC Jonathan, forced by family obligation from his hermit-like existence, attends a Christmas country house party. Surrounded by merrymakers, he comes to terms with a painful past love affair, and his close proximity to local squire’s son Nick opens up the possibility for fresh romance.
Regency country house parties are an ideal setting for a Forced Proximity trope. In A Midsummer Night’s Magic, I couldn’t help but throw embittered estranged lovers Matthew and Crispin together at a Christmas gathering. In this Enemies to Lovers story, both men are trapped for several days due to a heavy fall of snow blocking all exits. Also, they are expected to socialise politely and even take part in a group recital of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Thank goodness a bit of supernatural twinkly love magic from Puck intervenes before Matthew actually kills Crispin!
The Enemies to Lovers trope also appears in One Summer Night. After an initial passionate encounter in a tavern alleyway in London, Martin makes all kinds of wrong assumptions about Will’s motives, casting him as a villain. It doesn’t help that Will is involved in a Fake Relationship and pretend engagement with his childhood best friend Imogen. Martin has no idea that neither of them is remotely romantically attached to the other. There is a sense of Opposites Attract about Martin and Will. Martin is upper middle class, steady, circumspect and prone to criticism, whereas Will is an impulsive, creative, free spirit. The differences between them cause Martin to misjudge Will while still desiring him. It was fun to untangle these knots of misunderstanding for their Happy Ever After.
There is another kind of Fake Relationship in A Marriage for Three when Anthony asks Charlotte to marry him, even though he is in a long-term relationship with his steward, Simon. Anthony’s proposal is purely pragmatic. As a wealthy landowner and a friend of Charlotte’s impoverished family, he autocratically sees marriage as a neat solution to help the people he cares for without any emotional considerations. Charlotte and Simon, far more sensitive than Anthony, have their reservations, especially when they start to develop feelings for each other. So having caused the situation, it’s up to Anthony to ensure the future happiness of his found family.
Opposites Attract is the dominant trope in The Thrill of the Chase, where shy, innocent Adrian is pursued around Regency Cheltenham by experienced rake Guy. I thoroughly enjoyed writing about the dynamic between these two, with Guy consistently ruining a potential moment of closeness with a crude suggestion, sending Adrian running for cover. For their relationship to develop, Adrian must learn to stand up for himself, and Guy has to rein in the cheesy lines and sexual expectations for some patience and consideration. Since Guy is an army captain, there’s an element of military romance.
In Shore Leave, Jacob is a Lieutenant in the British Navy, which also gives this story a touch of military romance. There’s a sense of Opposites Attract between Jacob, who is far more comfortable on board his ship than escorting his sister around fashionable Bath when he meets society beau Sebastian. But beneath his polished manners, Sebastian is emotionally reticent, and it’s up to both men to act upon their mutual attraction to blossom into lasting love.
Gentlemen in Love
In Regency England, whether about their daily business in London, attending a country house party or visiting a fashionable spa town, an array of gentlemen meet their match and attain a happy ever after.
Some couples find new love, while others rekindle a long-lost spark in this collection of six light-hearted MM Regency romances from Ellie Thomas, containing the following stories:
A Christmas Cotillion: Thirty-year-old Jonathan Cavendish has long given up any thought of romance. He grudgingly accompanies younger cousin Freddy to a Christmas country house party, as Freddy is infatuated with the lovely Belinda.
To his surprise, Jonathan catches the eye of Nick, a local farmer’s son. The initial attraction seems to be mutual, but can Nick break through Jonathan’s defences and teach him to love again?
A Marriage for Three: When Anthony Wallace proposes to Charlotte Grenville, she is shocked. Lottie has always seen him as an older brother, and she is also aware of his romantic devotion to his Anglo-Indian estate manager, Simon Walker. Should she accept this financial arrangement merely to support her ailing family? And will her growing attraction to Simon be a threat to all their happiness?
A Midwinter Night’s Magic: Matthew Lewis is trapped at a Christmas country house party by snowy weather and forced to take part in a reading of a Midsummer Night’s Dream. To make things worse, his lost love Crispin Marley, to whom he has sworn undying hatred, is among the guests. Can some fairy magic from Puck help the estranged couple to make amends for once and all?
The Thrill of the Chase: In 1813, when modest Adrian Lethbridge visits fashionable Cheltenham to help launch his young cousins into society, to his surprise, he catches the roving eye of Captain Guy Ransome. The ex-army officer is everything Adrian yearns to be; devilishly handsome, experienced and confident. So Adrian is in disbelief that the attraction is mutual. But can he summon the courage to act on his desires?
One Summer Night: After a passionate encounter with a stranger in an alleyway one summer night in 1801, Whitehall clerk Martin Dunne is shocked when he encounters the object of his desire at a society function, complete with a powerful father and a pretty bride-to-be. Is his seducer not to be trusted? And have Martin’s dreams of future encounters and possible romance crumbled to nothing?
Shore Leave: Jacob Longley, Naval Lieutenant, is all at sea in the fashionable Bath Spa. As he attempts to steer his younger sister Letty through the social whirl with a close eye on her reputation, his striking looks can’t help but catch the attention of the exquisite Sebastian Fforde. Will either man break through the other’s reserve? And could their mutual attraction blossom into love?
Excerpt from A Christmas Cotillion:
Mr Hammond’s chance came when Jonathan was on the dance floor, already partnered for the next dance. Belinda, for once, was unaccompanied but still standing up, as though eager to join in. Mr Hammond was near her, but unfortunately looking in the other direction.
Jonathan glanced over in helpless frustration, not wanting to abandon his young dance partner in the middle of the floor just as the music was about to start. As he again looked from one to the other, he caught the eye of the handsome farmer’s son. He was serving refreshments amongst those who had taken part in the last set of dances. He followed his direction of Jonathan’s scrutiny clearly with a sharply raised eyebrow.
As if receiving intelligence, he nodded at Jonathan decisively, put down his tray on a side table and eased the few yards through the gaggle of couples approaching the dance floor and tapped Mr Hammond on the shoulder.
Luckily, just then the music started and Jonathan saw his expressive face indicating a social dilemma. He nodded towards Belinda and then pointed to the momentarily abandoned tray as if explaining why he could not partner the young lady for himself. When all had been made clear to Mr Hammond, he received a grateful smile from the young man, as though Mr Hammond was doing the favour. He then turned back to collect the tray and offered the contents to the thirsty crowd.
It was neatly done, with Mr Hammond now obliged by his very good manners to ask the young lady to dance. Mr Hammond braced himself and made his way to Belinda, face flushed with embarrassment as though expecting a rebuff. Instead, he received her hand and a warm smile. Jonathan didn’t realize he was holding his breath until the couple reached the floor, unimpeded.
After a hectic country dance, Jonathan and his puffing partner retired from the fray. He was satisfied to see Mr Hammond and Belinda remain on the floor for the next set of dances, now conversing with apparent ease. As he looked at this with a feeling of pleasure, a glass of sparkling wine was placed in his hand with a murmured, “That was a good notion.”
He looked around in surprise to see the farmer’s son right next to him. Close up, his eyes were very blue indeed and his wide mouth was curved in that increasing familiar smile. Jonathan felt as tongue-tied as Mr Hammond had been previously in Belinda’s presence as he stiffly thanked the young man for his assistance. He seemed unfazed by Jonathan’s constraint.
“Just call me Cupid, or rather Nicholas, or even Nick, if you prefer,” he said with another dazzling grin, before turning gracefully to serve refreshments to the guests behind Jonathan.
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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.