Guest Post | London Calling by A.L. Lester

Guest-Post

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!

London Calling banner

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,

Ally

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.

“Alec…”

Carter jerked back as if he’d been burned.

Buy London Calling – Enter Giveaway Draw

 

London banner

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

Guest-Post

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…

Excerpt:

 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

Guest Post | The Quid Pro Quo: Simon Frost

Guest-Post

Hello there everyone! Thank you so much to Ofelia for letting me drop in today to tell you all about my latest release.

The Quid Pro Quo is the second in the Bradfield trilogy, although it will stand alone. It’s set a few months after the end of The Fog of War and stars Walter Kennett, Sylvia’s friend, and Simon Frost, a detective who comes to Bradfield to investigate a murder. It’s a gay, historical, paranormal, romantic murder-mystery with a m/transm couple set in rural England in 1920.

Today I’d like to introduce you to one of the main characters, Simon Frost!

Simon Frost

Simon Frost

Born: 1885, Taunton, Somerset.

Profession: Police Detective.

Smokes: Does not smoke.

Drives: Has the use of a police Crossley 20/25.

Lives: Rooms in a boarding house in Taunton where he’s lived for years. His sister keeps nagging him to move back into the family house, but he likes his independence.

Appearance: 5’11”, thin, brown hair, light brown eyes, aesetic face, has a limp from being hit by shrapnel in the war.

Personality: Quiet, perceptive, thoroughly decent sort of person. Has come back from the war to his work as a detective with a gammy leg and a deep desire not to have anything exciting happen to him ever again. Likes to read. Used to play football, but his leg means he can’t any more.

Simon took a long time to come together as a character. To begin with he was simply a foil for Walter (who I wrote about at Nell’s blog yesterday). And then he began speaking with his own voice and wouldn’t shut up. For a quiet man, he had an awful lot to say.

At the end of the day, he’s thoroughly ordinary. He does his job because he believes in it. He’s not exclusively a murder detective, Taunton doesn’t get enough of that sort of crime to need one. But he handles what murders they do get; and he is painfully aware that it’s his job to give these people a final chance to speak and the dignity and justice of the truth. He doesn’t have much time or patience with people who have an agenda that runs antithetical to that.

As far as he’s concerned, everyone has secrets; but some secrets are more deadly than others. Some secrets you can leave alone because they’re not hurting anyone. Others need to be exposed to the light so that justice can be done. Some of the conflict between him and Walter in the story come from their disagreement about what secrets are necessary to expose and which can be safely left to lay quiet.

He has a good relationship with his family. His sister and his brother-in-law run the family ironmonger’s shop and look after his dad—his mother died a few years previously—and he sees them regularly. He’s got a nephew he regularly goes to watch playing football now he can’t play any more himself.

He’s in constant pain from the healing wound in his leg. Some days it’s really bad and he thinks there might be shrapnel stuck in it. Walter is always on at him to get Sylvia to look at it…she’s good with wounds, he says…but Simon hasn’t quite got there in his own mind yet. His wartime experience was banal in the sense that nothing happened to him that didn’t happen to millions of other men. He just wants to put it behind him and move on.

He doesn’t have any hopes of finding a bloke to have any sort of permanent relationship with, he just wants to do his job well, spend a bit of time with his family, occasionally go to the pub with his friends and sleep well at night.

Some of the things he finds out when he visits Bradfield in the wake of a peculiar murder mean the sleeping well at night is off the cards for a while! I really like him as a person. He’s just…straightforward. I spend a great deal of time creating complex characters with enormous hang-ups and it was lovely to be able to write someone who was essentially very boring (IN A GOOD WAY, PLEASE BUY MY BOOK! 😊) and normal!

The Quid Pro Quo

The Quid pro QuoVillage nurse Walter Kennett is content with his makeshift found-family in tiny Bradfield. However one midsummer morning a body is found floating in the village duck pond, dead by magical means.

Detective Simon Frost arrives in Bradfield to investigate a inexplicable murder. The evidence seems to point to Lucille Hall-Bridges, who lives with doctor Sylvia Marks and nurse Walter Kennett at Courtfield House. Simon isn’t happy—he doesn’t believe Lucy is a murderer but he’s sure the three of them are hiding something. In the meantime, the draw he feels toward Walter takes him by surprise.

Walter is in a dilemma, concealing Sylvia and Lucy’s relationship and not knowing how much to tell Frost about the paranormal possibilities of the murder. He isn’t interested in going to bed with anyone—he’s got a complicated life and has to know someone really well before he falls between the sheets. He’s taken aback by his own attraction to Detective Frost and angry when Frost appears to twist the spark between them to something transactional in nature.

Will Walter be satisfied to stay on the periphery of Lucy and Sylvia’s love affair, a welcome friend but never quite included? Or is it time for him to strike out and embark on a relationship of his own?

The second in the Bradfield trilogy, set in the Border Magic universe. Stands alone. Transm/m couple.

books2read.com/TheQuidProQuo : Buy from JMS Books : Add on Goodreads : Find on author-website

Excerpt

As Simon was replacing the device on the telephone table a pretty young woman put her head out of a door at toward the end of the hall. “Sylv!” she said, “Do you want tea? I’ve boiled the kettle.” and then when she realised he wasn’t who she thought he was, “Oh, I do beg your pardon! I thought you were Dr Marks!”.

“She’s still in the surgery,” Simon nodded across the hall.

The woman emerged into the hall. “Lucille Hall-Bridges,” she said, extending a hand. “I’m a friend of Sylvia’s. I help with the house.”

Simon took her hand in his. Her grip was sure and warm. “Detective Frost,” he replied. “Nice to meet you, Miss Hall-Bridges. She had a recent bruise running from her jaw to just below her eye, entering the black-and-purple stage.

“I’ve made a pot of tea,” she was saying. “I don’t know whether anyone will want any, but I do like to feel useful and tea is so…normal-making, isn’t it?”

He nodded, slightly bemused at her chatter. “Yes, indeed,” he said. “Very normal.”

She gave a perfunctory tap on the surgery door, opened it and disappeared inside without waiting for a response. “Sylv, Walter, I’ve made tea. Would you and your detective like to come into the drawing room?” Her voice faded, presumably as she joined them in the examination room.

There was a pause. Then, “Oh!” he heard her say. “Oh.” She sounded a little shocked. “What’s happened to her hands?” she asked.

“Scraped on the bottom on the pond I think,” Simon heard Dr Marks say. “She was face-down in the water.”

“Oh.” Miss Hall-Bridges’ voice was small. “Sylvia…there’s…she’s…I can feel…do you think…?” Her voice trailed off and Dr Marks spoke over her, clearly away they might be overhead.

“Let’s not worry about that now, shall we? The policeman is sending her down to Taunton to a postmortem. You go and take the tea-things into the drawing room. We’ll just cover her up.”

books2read.com/TheQuidProQuo : Buy from JMS Books : Add on Goodreads : Find on author-website

About A. L. Lester

AllyWriter 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

The Quid banner