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

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“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

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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.

Facebook Group : Mastodon : Twitter : Newsletter (free story) : Website : Link-tree for everywhere else

Guest Post | London Calling by A.L. Lester


We have the lovely A.L. Lester on a visit today! Welcome, Ally!

Hello everyone! Thanks so much to Ofelia for letting me drop in today. My mission this week is to tell everyone about the release of London Calling, the box set of my 1920s London Border Magic series. It comprises Lost in Time, Shadows on the Border & The Hunted and the Hind. And I have a giveaway!

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Lost in Time was the first book I had accepted for publication, by JMS Books in 2017. I’d tried self-pubbing it the year before and it hadn’t gone well—I was very inexperienced and my proofing and editing was sub-par. I was very lucky JMS took me on and beat both me and my manuscript in to shape!

When I finished it, it was supposed to be a stand-alone with a happy-for-now ending. Generally speaking I think it’s quite hard to write happy-ever-after stories when your setting is the inter-war years in Europe; and even more so for LGBTQ+ people given the law and social attitudes of the time. Looking at the book with the experience I have now, the ending was quite tentative. It’s clear Alec and Lew have reached a resolution; but I don’t demonstrate at all what that resolution might be. I had a vague idea I’d write a sequel; but again, I really didn’t know where I’d go with it.

Shadows on the Border was a bit of a surprise to me—this is one of the things, good or bad, about ‘discovery writing’…you can end up with something you really weren’t expecting. I was expecting to write about Fenn and Will, I think, for the whole book; and instead it turned out to be more about Alec and Lew, the end of their story; and the beginning of Will and Fenn’s. I then moved on to try and tie Will and Fenn’s tale up in The Hunted and the Hind. And that…well. I struggled not to write a fantasy tale set in another world—I ended up taking a load of stuff out that will be a great foundation for an otherworldly high fantasy if I want to!

All in all, although Lost in Time does work as a standalone and Shadows on the Border ties up Alec and Lew’s story nicely, they work best as a series, all three together. And I am really pleased to present them here as the box set!

I am also very happy to tell you that the three books are available in audiobook, narrated by the most excellent Callum Hale, British Narrator ExtraordinaireYou can listen to him reading the first half hour of Lost in Time here. I was so lucky to find Callum as a narrator—we found each other at Audible and since then we have worked out an independent relationship. He exactly gets each of the characters in this universe. The audio for Lost in Time was being produced as I was finishing The Hunted and the Hind and eventually as I was writing it I could hear the characters talking in the voices Callum had given them.

All in all, I am really pleased to finally have them out in a box set and to have all three available in audio to accompany it. It feels like I’ve done my best for the trilogy and I hope you feel the same way after reading and/or listening! For a chance to win copies of all three of the London Calling audiobookspop on over to the Audiobook Draw and throw your hat in the ring!

With best wishes and happy reading,


London Calling

London Calling box set

Queer British Lovecraftian historical romantic suspense set in 1920s London.

Lew Tyler is dragged from 2016 to 1920 by an accident with border magic whilst he’s searching for his missing friend. He’s struggling to get to grips with life a century before he was born. Detective Alec Carter is trying to solve gruesome murders in his patch of London, weighed down with exhaustion and a jaded attitude to most of his fellow humans after four years of war. In the middle of a murder investigation that involves wild magic, mysterious creatures and illegal sexual desire, will Alec and Lew work out who is safe to trust?

Sergeant Will Grant, Alec’s right-hand man, is drawn to the mysterious Fenn. Is Fenn a man or a woman? Does Will care? And Fenn…Fenn has a secret. They live beyond the border between 1920s London and the magical Outlands and they need to get home. Are they prepared to achieve that by double crossing Alec, Will and Lew? 

Two couples hold the fabric of reality in their hands. Will it make them or break them? 

Buy London Calling now if you like murder, time-travel, grumpy detectives, the blues, magic, gay romance, m/enby romance, tea and not-quite-elves. With swords. Well, one elf. With one sword. And he’s very decent about it.

Buy London Calling – Enter Giveaway Draw

Read an Excerpt

Carter on his doorstep when he got home again was just taking the piss. All Lew wanted to do was climb into his bed and sleep and pretend he was in his comfortable flat-share in 2016 and could wake up and listen to his iPod.

He didn’t even bother to greet Carter this time, just wordlessly locked up the bike and opened the door into the flat so he could come inside. He was glowering again. Lew wished he could say it didn’t suit him. “Come in. Glowering doesn’t suit you.”

Carter grunted wordlessly and suddenly Lew had had enough of it.

“No, honestly. It makes your face all scrunched up—” he demonstrated, “—and I’m sure it’s bad for you. Wrinkles or something.” He couldn’t seem to shut up. Poking a bear would probably have been safer. He wanted to get through to him, though, he wanted to make him growl. The other day and being punched in the face had at least proved Carter had some emotion in there somewhere; he couldn’t feel anything from him, most of the time. He chucked his biking goggles onto the small settee and turned to the kitchen cupboard. “Do you want a drink? I’m having a drink. I’ve had a shit day so far…a shit week, in fact.” He paused, considering, “…maybe even a shitty two years. And so, I’m going to have a drink. You’re welcome to join me.”

He clattered the bottle and a couple of glasses out of the cupboard and smashed them unsteadily down on the counter top. He felt unsteady all over, actually, as if he’d already drunk too much. Adrenaline, and lack of sleep, probably.

He pulled the cork out of the bottle and started to slop spirit into the glasses. Then, all of a sudden, Carter moved to stand close behind him, still not speaking. He hadn’t been expecting it and it made him even more mentally off balance.

He could feel the warmth of the other man’s body through the back of his shirt, although they weren’t touching. He was boxed in by his arms, either side of him, hands flat on the counter. It was shockingly intimate, although Lew didn’t think Carter meant it to be. He meant it to be intimidating. The otherman said, softly, “Tell me. Tell me. Tell me what’s going on. Why have I got more dead men turning up with the same wounds as your friend Fornham?”

Bloody hell. More of them. That was very, very bad. “Get off me.” Lew spoke equally quietly.

There was a pause for a second. “No,” said Carter.

“You don’t know what you’re messing with. Get off me.” Again, that pause.

“No.” His voice was rougher this time.

Lew noticed Carter’s knuckles were white where he was holding the countertop either side of the whisky bottle and the glasses. He shivered.

Suddenly he could feel things coming off Carter after all: the want and the fear and the desperate sense of disgust at himself. The anger and the confusion he felt toward Lew because he wanted Lew and yet he didn’t trust him, with this or with anything, and it was all against his better judgement. The emotions hit him like a wall coming up out of the dark all at once and completely floored him; and he gasped.

Slowly, he pushed the bottle away from him—always with the drink when Carter was around, he absently thought—and turned around, careful not to touch him. They were nearly of a height—he didn’t have to tilt his head much to see that Carter’s eyes were green. Lashes long and dark. He didn’t pull back. It was mid-afternoon and his beard was coming through.

Lew swallowed. “I don’t want to lie to you.”

It came out rougher than he had intended and Carter’s eyes dropped to his mouth.

“Then don’t!” He pulled back angrily and turned away, hands shoving fiercely through his hair. “Tell me what’s going on!”

“Carter…Alistair…” He couldn’t bear the wave of confused anger and emotion coming off the man and he stepped forward and put his hand on his arm, turning him back toward him.


Carter jerked back as if he’d been burned.

Buy London Calling – Enter Giveaway Draw


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About 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 hens and the duckettes. Likes gardening but doesn’t really have time or energy. Not musical. Doesn’t much like telly. Non-binary. Chronically disabled. Has tedious fits.

Facebook Group : Twitter : Newsletter (free story) : Website : Link-tree for everywhere else

Guest Post | Holiday Garage by Jaymie Wagner


Today, Jaymie Wagner is here to talk about her story, Holiday Garage. Welcome, Jaymie 😊

“Where are the lesbian Hallmark movies?!”

That was the question on Tumblr that got me thinking, and eventually writing back in 2019. We did finally get a lesbian Hallmark movie last year, but we can do more!

Besides, we all know those cheesy Hallmark plots are a goldmine of cute, feel-good holiday content that is just waiting to be tapped and turned into all kinds of queer goodness.

So, picture this: A lonely widow gets stuck on the side of the road when her car breaks down on Christmas Eve, and there’s only one garage open.

The hotels are booked solid, but the Mechanic has an apartment right above the shop and offers a place to spend the night…and did I mention the mechanic is awfully cute?

Throw in a quiet holiday dinner, a snowy night, some ice skating, and perhaps – just perhaps! – you end up with a chance for love again.

(Oh, and a kiss under the mistletoe, because of course there needs to be a kiss under the mistletoe!)

Sounds interesting?

Well, then – let’s take a peek at the little town of Holliday, Illinois…


 Holding up a hand in a “Wait just a second” gesture, the welder (mechanic? Owner? All three?) pulled off her heavy gloves and apron before walking into the waiting area. “Hullo! Welcome to Holliday Garage!” 

   Emile blinked in surprise at the woman’s English accent. At least now she knew why Mike had seemed so amused when she’d asked if the garage had experience with Europeans. “Ah. Hello…”

  The mechanic cocked her head slightly, then laughed at herself. “Oh! Sorry, I’ve gotten used to living in a pretty small town.” She offered a hand with a friendly smile. “Nyra Olson.”

   “Emile,” she answered, shaking the shorter woman’s hand. “Emile Meunier.” 

   “Pleasure to meet you, Emile Meunier.” Nyra’s grip was firm, with calloused fingers that lingered perhaps a moment longer than absolutely necessary. 

   Emile was a bit shocked by the warmth in her touch, but tried to explain it away as her own cold skin and Nyra having just finished working with a torch. Still, she found herself wishing the brief contact had lasted another second or two longer as Nyra stepped back and pulled a heavy red and black checked flannel off of the coat tree in the corner.

   “So, obviously you had a spot of car trouble. Can you tell me what happened, exactly?” 

   Emile grimaced as she buttoned her coat back up again. “I was shifting when I suddenly went out of gear. I tried upshifting with no change, and trying to go down another gear didn’t work either.”

   Nyra gave a pained ‘ooof’ as she finished shrugging on her flannel. “I’ll be honest – that doesn’t sound good. If you’re lucky it’s just a plug, maybe a connection for the electronics in the gearbox. If not…” 

   Emile groaned. She hadn’t wanted to spend the holidays with Sofia  or their other friends, but she’d expected to be at home, not stranded in the middle of nowhere. “I will try to hope for the best, then.”

Holiday Garage

holidaygarageFive years after the death of her husband, ballet teacher Emile Meunier just wants to drive home after a long week of work and have a quiet Christmas at home. But everything changes when her car breaks down and she finds herself in the little town of Holliday on Christmas Eve.

Then she gets an offer of food and a place to stay from the town mechanic Nyra. Is it just a moment of kindness from a stranger? Or a chance at something more?

JMS Books