Guest Post | The Long Game by Ellie Thomas

Ellie Thomas is back on the blog! I love the cover of The Long Game, so pretty 😍 Welcome, Ellie!

The Long Game Promo 1

Thank you so much, lovely Ofelia, for having me as your guest again. I’m Ellie Thomas, I write MM Historical Romance and today, I’ll be chatting about the Long Game, my Advent Calendar story for JMS Books, which will be a free download from the publisher on release day.

As I’m sure Ofelia and most other authors will agree, even when a story ends, the characters can linger in the mind long after we type The End. When I wrote A Roll of the Dice over a year ago, from time to time, I thought about Joshua and Frank, who got together in that short story, and I wondered how their love story was progressing.

Something intrigued me about the dynamic between these two men from very different worlds who met and fell for each other in a London Gaming Hell, one as a waiter and the other as a customer. Joshua Jones, a young man of colour and an aspiring artist from the mercantile middle class who holds down two jobs to fund his art studies, catches the eye of Frank Bartlett, nearing forty, an aristocrat with no need to work, but who out of a sense of duty, spends his time as a politically neutral unofficial diplomat.

What I liked about these two was that their attraction was not necessarily that of an older experienced, powerful man meeting, seducing and dominating a young student. There’s a powerful sexual pull between them, but Joshua is both smart and feisty and decides to allow the attraction to take its course. In the same way, Frank is far from shallow and enjoys spending time with Joshua out of bed as well as between the sheets. So I felt their relationship had so much potential.

So when the JMS Books Advent Calendar story submission call was announced, it seemed the right time to return to the clubs of late 18th century London and revisit our couple eighteen months following the final chapter of A Roll of the Dice.

In The Long Game, although Joshua and Frank remain committed to each other, life, politics and health issues get in the way of their romance. The shine is still bright on this relatively new relationship after an idyllic summer in Italy, but with winter approaching, events threaten to separate them. It takes all of Joshua’s resolve to convince Frank he’s willing to stick by him.

That’s what I love about these two. Despite superficial differences in age, class and colour, they are both complicated, caring and driven personalities who give their energy to causes close to their heart. But Frank needs to learn to trust, prioritise and comprehend that all Joshua wants is for Frank to choose him once and forever.

The Long Game

The Long GameDuring the autumn of 1765 in London, Joshua Jones, a young working man of colour and aspiring artist, is grafting hard at his studies while earning his keep as a waiter in an exclusive St. James’ gambling club managed by his uncle.

The only cloud on Joshua’s horizon is the progress of his love affair with Frank Bartlett, an older man and unofficial diplomat who met and seduced Joshua the year before.

After an idyllic summer in Italy together, reality bites when they return to London, and Frank plunges into dealing with the disastrous political fallout from the proposed Stamp Act. Joshua understands his lover’s preoccupation but worries he is being pushed aside as Frank becomes so involved in diplomatic wrangling that he risks injuring his health. During tough times, Joshua is determined to stick with Frank. But will Frank take notice? And how can Joshua convince his true love that he is there for the long haul?

Extract:

As he left the table, his conversation concluded, Frank caught Joshua’s eye and gave him a nod as if to ask him to follow. With a glance around the room, checking that no guest needed his immediate attention, Joshua followed Frank into the service corridor.

Despite Frank’s pleasant expression, Joshua thought he resembled a death’s head in the murky lamplight. 

“I don’t want to delay you,” he said, a worrying rasp in his voice. “But I wanted to tell you that I have to liaise with a select party of influential merchants this evening, then I must report to Burke after that, so God knows what time I’ll be free. So you needn’t bother coming to my rooms tonight.”

“Why not?” Joshua asked, reasonably enough. “I can simply go to bed and sleep.”

Frank looked uneasy at being contradicted.

“Well,” he said with an attempted smile that did not reach his tired grey eyes. “I’ll be out all night, and you’ll probably sleep more soundly in your own bed. It seems pointless to inconvenience you further, as there can be no sport in this for you.”

“Sport?” Joshua echoed. But in his haste to finish the discussion and move on to an urgent conference, Frank did not heed the warning edge in Joshua’s voice.

“It can’t be very entertaining for you to wait around for me endlessly,” Frank clarified.

Joshua looked steadily at Frank, his doubts and anxieties crystallising in a surge of anger.

“Sport? Entertainment? Do you assume they are my sole reasons for choosing to be with you?”

Frank’s diplomatic poise deserted him, and he looked taken aback. “Well, no, of course not,” he said, adopting a more conciliatory tone. “But it’s unfair of me to expect so much from you this past while, when I can give so little in return.” 

Although these arguments had crossed Joshua’s mind as this dreary month had dragged on, it was like a slap in the face to hear Frank voice such reservations.

He raised his chin, his eyes meeting Frank’s in a blaze of indignation. “How timely to learn that after eighteen months or more, you regard me as so superficial,” he said coldly.

Frank was speechless, as if the brief discourse he had planned had unexpectedly veered into disastrous territory. Under normal circumstances, with Frank looking so worn and ill, Joshua might have compromised. But abruptly, he felt that the limit of his patience, stretched thin over the past weeks, had finally snapped. 

He looked at Frank as he gathered himself to smooth over the sudden gaping impasse. “You know that’s far from true,” Frank began. “It occurred to me that our current situation was unsatisfactory and that you deserve far more consideration than I can lend you presently. I’m only trying to let you off lightly.”

“I wait for you in your rooms night after night by choice. I don’t need your damned consideration, thank you kindly. As for letting me off lightly? I’m not some giddy fly-by-night whore who will flit to the next man if you can’t spare me your attention. How dare you!” With a final furious glare, Joshua turned on his heel and stalked down the corridor towards the public rooms.

“Joshua!” Frank called after him, but Joshua paid no heed, even when Frank attempted to call his name again, and his voice cracked, prompting that awful tearing cough.

The Long Game Promo 2

Book Links:

Publisher: https://www.jms-books.com/ellie-thomas-c-224_420/the-long-game-p-4553.html

Universal Book Link: https://books2read.com/u/mBv65k

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BN51KSK1/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3S0UMLZ633V81&keywords=the+long+game+ellie+thomas&qid=1669211128&sprefix=the+long+game+ellie+thomas%2Caps%2C181&sr=8-1

Add to Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/63828882-the-long-game

Add to Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/books/the-long-game-by-ellie-thomas

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

Guest Post | Smoke by Amy Spector

Today, we have Amy Spector back on the blog! She’s here to talk about Smoke, her newest story, and I don’t know how long ago it was I first saw the cover – years ago. I’ve been wanting to read it ever since, and I have it, I actually opened it the other day, read the first page, and then something happened that forced me to put away my phone. I will get back to it, though! Welcome, Amy!

Smoke FB 3

Firstly, I wanted to give a big thank you to Ofelia for letting me stop by her blog!

Saturday was release day for Smoke, my newest paranormal M/M romance. It was a long time in coming—a super long time—being that I started the story it in early 2018 just before taking a two-year break from writing. But, even though my life took an unexpected turn, I never doubted I’d finish the story. I loved Saalik too much to abandon him. And now I’m thrilled to finally share it with everyone!

Wyatt Calder is trapped in a life he never wanted. It would take a miracle to escape. Or at least a little magic.

Smoke

Smoke Cover HalfSizeWyatt Calder is trapped— in a rundown neighborhood, in a dead-end job, by the endless string of trouble his brother drags to their door—and it seems he’s destined to slowly fade away within the aging walls of Picket House, longing for his best friend’s cousin. That is until his upstairs neighbor Abel Walters dies on the staircase just outside Wyatt’s door.

Saalik has spent most of his existence asleep and waiting for the next person to discover his bottle and claim their wishes. And the last four years playing prized possession to Abel Walters and spying on the downstairs neighbors. But he has a plan. And, like every plan worth planning, it has taken patience. But if life as a Jinn has taught Saalik nothing else, it’s taught him that.

When a break-in sends Wyatt out his second-story bedroom window and into his dead upstairs neighbor’s apartment, he finds more than a place to hide. He discovers a magical solution to all his troubles.

Or does he? Because really, when is life ever that simple?

Paranormal Gay Romance: 19,936 words

 Buy Links: JMS Books • Amazon • Universal Buy Link

Excerpt

Wyatt woke to the sound of the ocean. It roared in his ears and he could smell the salt in the air and feel the heat of the sun as it beat down on his face.

He smiled and opened his eyes to a darkened room. The curtains of the window above him blew in with a cold breeze, rain drops coming in with each gust. He was freezing.

A movement drew his attention away from the open window and he found a man watching him. Wyatt jerked up, startled, banging his head against the wall in his hurry to be upright and the man watching him took a silent step back and laughed.

“Fuck.” Wyatt squeezed his eyes tight, rubbing the spot at the back of his skull. “You scared the shit out of me.”

“But then, I don’t think you’re particularly brave.”

“Huh?” Wyatt stopped rubbing and opened his eyes. The man was…well fuck, the guy was naked.

Wyatt watched as he walked on bare feet around him where he sat on the floor of the unfamiliar room. One of the dead man’s rooms, he realized, and grimaced. “I’m sorry about Mr. Walters.”

“Are you?” The guy stopped and studied Wyatt a moment as if trying to gauge the truthfulness of his statement. A trail of blue smoke drifted in a lazy and hypnotic way from his nose, creeping down his body to swirl around the wrist of his right hand, weaving playfully between his fingers. It was quite a trick, like how Wyatt’s grandfather had been able to breathe out donut shapes with his cigar smoke. “I’m not.”

With that he turned around and silently padded out the room, leaving Wyatt where he sat on the cold floor.

When Wyatt realized he wasn’t coming back, he pushed himself up and noticed that the shelf he’d knocked over the night before had been tipped back up and everything returned to its place. Slowly, he ventured out into the rest of the apartment. The rooms were much the same as his in that they had a similar floor plan; small eat-in kitchen, living room, a short hall that held a bathroom, a bedroom on either side. Beyond that, it was nothing like his own place. Instead of old carpet, the floors were warm dark wood with colorful rugs. The woodwork was a bright, clean white and, unlike Wyatt’s place where it had been replaced years before with something cheap, looked like it was original. The walls were a neutral cream. What you could see of it anyway, as each and every one was covered in sketches and tapestries, and paintings in large ornate frames.

He maneuvered around the obstacle-course of furniture, following the sound of activity down the hall and into a bedroom where he found his host hunting through a chest a drawers, pulling out pants only to discard them on the floor.

“Who’s that?” Wyatt asked pointing at the painting the hung above the dresser.

“Raphael’s Portrait of a Young Man.”

“The painter?” Wyatt knew how stupid the words were before they were out of his mouth, and from the look on the naked man’s face, he agreed. Embarrassed, Wyatt looked away from his eyes, only then realizing what his host was doing. “Mr. Walters’ pants aren’t going to fit you.” The old man had been taller for one thing, and bigger around.

“No,” the naked man agreed. “But they will fit you. And I want yours.”

Wyatt looked down at his old sweats with their elastic waist and drawstring. “You want to wear mine?”

“Yes. Tell me to.”

“Tell you to what?” Wyatt rubbed at his head again. Was there a bump or was he imagining it?”

“Tell me you want me to wear your…”

“Sweats.” Wyatt supplied.

“Exactly. Tell me to wear your sweats.”

“What’s your name?”

The man blinked. “What?”

“Your name? What’s your name?”

His brow furrowed—dark brows over darker eyes—and then he shrugged. “Saalik. But someone I used to know called me Saal.”

“Okay, Saal, I would like you to wear my sweats.”

 You can also read out a longer excerpt HERE. 

About Amy

Amy SpectorAmy Spector grew up in the United States surviving on a steady diet of old horror movies, television reruns and mystery novels.

She blames Universal for her love of horror, Edward Gorey for her love of British drama and writing for awakening the romantic that was probably there all along.

Amy lives in the Midwest with her husband and children, and more cats than is strictly necessary.

Check out Amy’s BioLink to find out where you can find her online and to learn how you can receive a free book.

Guest Post | Second Wind by A.L. Lester

Second Wind: Meet Martin Reed!

Hello everyone! Thanks so much to Ofelia for letting me drop by today to tell you all about Second Wind, my new release.

Second Wind is a new story in my Theatr Fach universe. Theatr Fach (or ‘little theatre’) is the community theatre in the small Welsh seaside town of Llanbarac. The stories focus around the staff and their friends and family. The first story, Out of Focus, came out in the summer and Second Wind is the second. You can read them in any order though.

I’ve dropped in today to tell you a bit about one of the MC’s, Martin.

Second Wind Martin

Martin came to Llanbaruc as a stage manager at Theatr Fach twelve years ago when he’d first gone back to work after having his daughter Shannon. He’d had two years parenting and was increasingly unhappy at home with the baby at the whim of Lee, his husband. Things had begun to fall apart after Martin had a difficult pregnancy and depression once the baby arrived. Lee didn’t understand PND or Martin’s trouble with dysphoria while pregnant. And he resented the lack of cash coming in to the household with Martin not working any more.

Martin finally realised he couldn’t live like that and took Shannon and left. Llanbaruc was a pretty little town with a community feel where he and Shannon could make a home together. Lee was easier to get on with as a co-parent rather than a partner and it was an amicable divorce. When Martin had begun to think he was ready to transition a couple of years after he’d settled in to his job, Lee took it in his stride and backed him up. He’d learned a few lessons along the way over the last few years as well.

Martin’s happy. He’s got a good set of friends here in Llanbaruc. Shannon’s a good kid. They’re a team.

Martin isn’t the first trans character I’ve written, but I think he’s probably the most rounded. I set out to create a character who was happy with himself. I wanted his transness to be incidental to the story rather than the focus. He’s a normal guy, going about his normal life, happy with who and where he is.

Second Wind

Second Wind

What do a shy French-horn-playing accountant and a single-dad trans trumpet player have in common other than both being members of the community orchestra at Theatr Fach in the little town of Llanbaruc?

Gethin’s been more or less hiding from life since his marriage broke up a couple of years ago. He’s joined the orchestra because his sister told him he needed a hobby rather than sitting at home brooding about his divorce.

Martin is careful who he dates because of his gender and his teenage daughter. He came to Llanbaruc as a stage manager for the Theatr Fach twelve years ago. He’s got a good set of friends here. Shannon’s a good kid. They’re a team.

Martin and Gethin hit it off. Will their mutual baggage prove too much to sustain a relationship?

A gentle m/transm romance in the Theatr Fach universe.

Buy Links: Amazon US : Amazon UK : JMS Books : Everywhere Else

Second Wind keywords

Excerpt

“Martin!” Julie, the lead violin, waved him over. “This is Gethin,” she said, her hand on the arm of a tall, thin man nervously clutching a French horn and peering out from behind a thick pair of glasses. He resembled a nervous heron. “He’s new,” she added unnecessarily. “Can you take him under your wing a bit?”

Martin shot her a look. She was a very competent, friendly woman with no tact at all.

“Of course,” he said. “Pleased to meet you, Gethin,” he held out a hand and Gethin took it. “I’m Martin. Trumpet.”

“Gethin Jones,” the thin man said, shaking his hand a little too hard. His palm was warm and firm and he was clearly apprehensive. “Erm. French horn.” He waved his instrument vaguely at Martin. “As you can see.”

Martin smiled. “Come on,” he said. “Brass is over here. Let me introduce you around.” They started picking their way through the chairs. The brass section was made up of Martin and Alan on trumpet, Tim and Lucy on trombone, and Portia, a ten year old who played a tuba almost as large as she was. They were setting up music and gossiping about their week when Martin and Gethin reached them.

“Hullo hullo,” Martin said. This is Gethin Jones.” He waved vaguely at Gethin beside him. “Gethin, this is Tim, Lucy, Alan and Portia.” Everyone made noises of greeting. The room was beginning to echo with the sound of instruments being tuned and scales being played. It was a familiar cacophony.

“Are you Marion’s Gethin?” Lucy asked suddenly, leaning toward them to be heard over the cat-like screech of a young violinist and a burp from Portia’s tuba.

Beside him, Gethin tensed. “Not any more,” Gethin said brusquely, nodding. “But yes. I used to be.”

Lucy nodded, blushing. “Sorry,” she said. “My sister is Penny Wright. They went to school together. Penny told me what happened.”

Gethin nodded again. “Pleased to meet you,” he said, again. He didn’t add anything else. He seemed almost paralytically shy. But then, Martin would be reticent if he knew everyone was talking about his private business.

“I’ll go and get you some music,” Martin said, forestalling any more awkwardness. “Here, stick your horn down on the seat and grab yourself a music stand from the stack in there”. He gestured at the open door of the cupboard behind them.

The spare sheet music was on the table at the front. He made his way across the room, wending around chairs and people offering greetings until he could pick up a sheaf.

Julie met him there. “Is he all right?” she hissed at Martin, glancing past him over his shoulder at Gethin, an anxious expression on her face.

“Yes? Why shouldn’t he be?” Martin asked, frowning at her, puzzled.

“He’s Posey Morgan’s brother,” Julie hissed some more. “You know. Posey the health visitor?”

Martin shook his head. “Not my area,” he said apologetically. “Never met her.” He couldn’t remember who Shannon’s health visitor had been. An older woman though, no-one who could have been the sister of someone Gethin’s age.

Julie scowled at him, apparently blaming him for his lack of knowledge. “Well, she said he needed to get out of the house,” she continued, still hissing. “His wife left him two years ago and he’s become a recluse, she told me. I suggested he come along here to help take him out of himself.”

Martin bit his lip. As a gentle first step back in to a social life, he had his doubts about the suitability of the orchestra. One of it’s other activities was going to the pub after practice on a Friday and drinking steadily ‘til closing time. And there was a country-dancing-for-exercise sub-set of members he tried to avoid … they’d invited him along to one of the sessions and he’d been crippled for days afterwards.

“So?” he said. “He seems perfectly normal.”

“The wife took off with his best friend,” Julie told him, shooting another guilty look over his shoulder at the brass section, who were settling the newcomer in their midst like a chicken in a nest of ferrets. Martin stopped himself turning properly to look at them, watching out of the corner of his vision.

“I’ll keep an eye on him,” Martin promised. “Does he actually play?”

“He brought it in to the shop to have it serviced,” she said. “He seemed to know what he was doing. And Posey said he played at school. But I don’t think he’s done much of anything for a while.” She pulled a face. “He’s an accountant.”

Buy Links: Amazon US : Amazon UK : JMS Books : Everywhere Else

Second wind banner

AllyAbout A. L. Lester

Writer of queer, paranormal, historical, romantic suspense, mostly. Lives in the South West of England with Mr AL, two children, a terrifying cat, some poultry. Likes gardening but doesn’t really have time or energy. Not musical. Doesn’t much like telly. Non-binary. Chronically disabled. Has tedious fits.

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