Release Blitz for Lost and Found by Liv Rancourt (excerpt and giveaway)

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Length: 75,000 words approx.
 
Price: 2.99 (4.99 from October 20)
 
Blurb
 

A dancer who cannot dance and a doctor who cannot heal find in each other the strength to love.


History books will call it The Great War, but for Benjamin Holm, that is a misnomer. The war is a disaster, a calamity, and it leaves Benjamin profoundly wounded, his mind and memory shattered. A year after Armistice, still struggling to regain his mental faculties, he returns to Paris in search of his closest friend, Elias.


Benjamin meets Louis Donadieu, a striking and mysterious dance master. Though Louis is a difficult man to know, he offers to help Benjamin. Together they search the cabarets, salons, and art exhibits in the newly revitalized city on the brink of les années folles (the Crazy Years). Almost despite himself, Benjamin breaches Louis’s defenses, and the two men discover an unexpected passion.


As his memory slowly returns, Benjamin will need every ounce of courage he possesses to recover Elias’s story. He and Louis will need even more than that to lay claim to the love – and the future – they deserve.

 
Excerpt
 

The table on the other side of me was empty, at least until I’d poured myself a second glass of wine. Then, crossing the room in a familiar halting rhythm, my neighbor, the man from the café on the Place du Tertre, took a seat.


I raised my glass in a toast of alcohol-fueled enthusiasm. “It’s nice to see you.”


He blinked as if surprised by my words. “I’m not sure I know you.”


His gaze suggested otherwise. “A while ago, you were at L’Oiseau Bleu.” I swirled the wine in my cup. “Are you following me?”


“I had a taste for fish.” Hooking his cane over the edge of his table, he shrugged again. “And I have better things to do than observe the habits of a drunk American.”


We were interrupted by the arrival of my dinner. There might have been humor in his tone, but still, the sting of his words quashed the impulse to invite him to join me.


Turning to the waiter, slick black hair gleaming, he placed his own order. When the waiter brought his wine, I took the opportunity to raise my glass a second time. “Cheers.” I deliberately did not smile. “Comment allez-vous?” How are you, using the formal “vous,” not the more intimate “tu.”


Tu. In all my time in France, I’d never regularly used the personal form of address. To be honest, if English had an equivalent construction, I could have said the same about my friends and family at home.


Bien. I am well.”


His tone, and the slight tremor of his fingers on his glass of wine, hinted otherwise. He turned as if to shield himself from my appraisal. I couldn’t help myself. It was my nature to observe. Assess. Diagnose. “I’m Benjamin Holm.” The distance between us was too great to bridge with a handshake.


He raised his glass. “Louis Donadieu.”


I forced my fork through the crisp crust of fish. Juices ran free, and my mouth watered. I ate, hunger keeping my attention fixed on the food on my plate. Though it had been almost two years since I’d last sat at an army canteen, I still attacked each meal as if someone might steal it away.


At my last bite, I glanced at Louis. He watched me, a pool of stillness amidst the confusion around us. “Did you even taste it?”


“Yes.” Swirling my fork through the drippings on my plate, I fought the urge to smile, unsure of the rules for the game he played.


He sniffed. “Bien.” Shifting in his seat, he poured himself more wine. As long as he wasn’t looking, I continued my assessment. He held his right leg extended, as if he was unable to bend it at the knee, but was otherwise quite vigorous, virile even.


I finished my peas and potatoes, bemused by my strange dinner companion. After a week in Paris, I’d had no luck with my main goal, and this conversation, though tentative, intrigued me.


“Were you injured?” I gestured at his feet with my wine.


“What?”


“In the war. Your leg.” His narrowed gaze suggested I’d transgressed. So, no questions about his health. “Pardon. I did not mean to—”


“No, I was unable to participate in the grand conflict.”


He turned his attention away, leaving me confused. This was less a game than a jousting contest. Rather than bring another helping of rudeness on my head, I swallowed the rest of my wine and prepared to leave.


“What are you doing?”


I paused in the act of reaching for my wallet. “I’m finished. I need to be going.” Though I had no real destination beyond the poor comfort of my solitary rooms. Instead of my wallet, I fished out the photograph. “Here.” I stood, leaning over his table and offering him the picture of Elias. “I’m looking for my friend Elias. Have you seen him?”


Always the same words, bringing the same blank response.


“Maybe he doesn’t want to be found.” He tapped the white edge of the photograph, and I snatched it away.


“He’s my friend.”


“So?”


His acid tone burned through my good humor. Who is this man to follow and then abuse me? “Have a good evening.”


“Good evening, though if you give up so easily, you must not really want to find him.”


Surprise kept me planted by his table. “Do you know where he is?”


He tipped his glass in my direction, the corner of his lips curling in what could not truly be called a smile. Though it wasn’t a scowl either. “No, but if I do see him, I will send him to the heavy-footed American man who lives on the floor above me.”


Tired of being the target of his sport, I straightened, falling into the habitual pose of a military officer. “Again, good evening.” Annoyed beyond what the situation called for, I departed.



About Liv Rancourt



Liv Rancourt writes romance of all kinds. Because love is love, even with fangs.


Liv is a huge fan of paranormal romance and urban fantasy and loves history just as much, so her stories often feature vampires or magic or they’re set in the past…or all of the above. When Liv isn’t writing she takes care of tiny premature babies or teenagers, depending on whether she’s at work or at home. Her husband is a soul of patience, her kids are her pride and joy, and her dogs – Trash Panda and The Boy Genius – are endlessly entertaining.Liv can be found on-line at all hours of the day and night at her website (www.livrancourt.com), on Facebook (www.facebook.com/liv.rancourt), or on Twitter (www.twitter.com/LivRancourt). She also blogs monthly over at Spellbound Scribes (https://spellboundscribes.wordpress.com/). For sneak peeks and previews and other assorted freebies, go HERE to sign up for her mailing list or join the Facebook page she shares with her writing partner Irene Preston, After Hours with Liv & Irene. Fun stuff!
 

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Love Historical Romance with a Twist? Check Out the Release Blitz Ride the Whirlwind by Jackie North (excerpt)

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Ride the Whirlwind

Jackie North

M/M Romance, Time travel, Historical

Release Date: 09.17.19

Ride the Whirlwind-ebook

Cover Designer – Jay Aheer

Blurb

Soulmates across time. Two hearts, stronger together.

In present day, Maxton is good at finding trouble and bad at everything else. Then he receives a letter from his friend Laurie, who went missing. The letter is dated over one hundred years in the past.

In 1892, Trent Harrington, sheriff of Trinidad, Colorado, cast off by his family, lives a respectable but lonely life, devoid of any closeness. He knows he will be alone forever.

Trying to escape a past that keeps chasing him, Maxton drives south to Mexico. When his car spins off the road, he is swept up in a desert whirlwind, which takes him back in time to the year 1892. There, unused to the laws of the wild west, Maxton gets arrested, and is subject to the terrifying whims of two deputies who can do whatever they want to him.

Sheriff Trent Harrington of Trinidad is tasked with escorting Maxton to Trinidad. The request isn’t unusual, but the young miscreant is. Maxton draws Trent’s heart out of its shell with his flashing green eyes and lush head of hair. It isn’t right. It isn’t natural. It’s illegal. Yet Trent cannot resist the impetuous young man.

As the two men travel through the dry, lonely desert to their destination, will they find in each other the love and companionship they never thought they’d have?

A male/male time travel romance, complete with the scent of desert roses, brilliantly colored sunsets, starlit nights, roast rabbit over an open fire, growing honesty and trust, and true love across time.

Buy Link: http://mybook.to/RideTheWhirlwind

Contains references to Honey From the Lion and Wild as the West Texas Wind but can be read on its own.

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Excerpt

Though he very well knew that pride went before a fall, Trent felt quite pleased with himself. He’d managed to purchase two sturdy mounts: Old Sue, a calm-eyed mare who looked pleased to be saddled up and given something to do, and Lathalad, a pinto with remarkable blue eyes, an even more remarkable mostly white coat with a narrow black streak running down the center of his long tail.

He was a beauty for sure, but carried a scar across his breast, which might be the reason he was a tad skittish when he was brought out and trotted around. Trent worried until the man at the stables convinced him the horse could carry a man and supplies easily, that he was built for long rides. As well, Trent caught Maxton looking at the horses, and thought that the gelding was of the appropriate size.

They’d bought supplies of beans, packets of jerky, and, of course, ground coffee. He purchased a coffee pot, two tin cups and bowls, two tin spoons, and a used cutting knife, which he strapped to his right thigh below his gun belt. Whatever meat they needed Trent would shoot along the way.

Trent packed the saddlebags on each horse, showing Maxton how it was done, how to tighten the girth on a saddle, how to adjust the stirrups. How to fasten a pair of canteens across the cantle and tie them tight so they wouldn’t knock about and startle the horse. Then he tied his carpetbag behind the saddle on Old Sue, and the two bedrolls behind the saddle on Lathalad.

Maxton followed along with only half of his attention, as his other half seemed to be scanning the horizon on the edge of town where the stable was located. As well, he was making an expression that Trent couldn’t quite define, but he thought Maxton felt he was being treated like a fool who didn’t know any better. Maybe he did and maybe he didn’t, but it was better safe than sorry.

“It’s just past noon,” said Trent. He took his hat off, wiped his forehead with the back of his sleeve, then settled his hat on his head again. “But we can head out now and make our way out into the wild.”

Trent smiled, and wondered if he should actually share what he was thinking, but why not? He and Maxton would be together for several days, what harm would it to do admit this one little thing.

“I do love sleeping beneath the stars,” he said, now, looking at Maxton as he said it. Testing the waters. “Which is a little foolish, seeing as how if we waited a few days and taken the stage, we’d sleep in a hotel every night.”

“I don’t mind sleeping under the stars,” said Maxton. “Took a class on the constellations once, so I know a lot of them.”

Maxton stopped himself from saying more, and shrugged as if it was of no consequence to him. It was the same devil-may-care attitude that he’d carried with him from the moment Trent had laid eyes on him in the cell in Dilia.

Someone had taught Maxton not to care or, if he did, not to let on. Someone had taught him to hide every thought, whether foolish or wise. Someone had taught him to carry himself as though he might be under attack at any given moment.

Trent knew the feeling. Knew what it was like to hide what you were and what you thought. Knew what it was like to be wary and to dance beneath the surface of your own life until you forgot what it was like to breathe fresh air, to hold your head high and be exactly who you were.

Though, as to what Maxton was hiding, Trent didn’t know. He wanted to know, though, because there was a fire in that young man’s eyes. A soft shy tenderness, which Trent saw as Maxton looked out at the horizon and chewed his lower lip, like he was expecting something to come blasting at him from out of the desert.

Jackie-logo1

Jackie North has been writing stories since grade school and spent years absorbing the mainstream romances that she found at her local grocery store. Her dream was to someday leave her corporate day job behind and travel the world. She also wanted to put her English degree to good use and write romance novels, because for years she’s had a never-ending movie of made-up love stories in her head that simply wouldn’t leave her alone.

As fate would have it, she discovered m/m romance and decided that men falling in love with other men was exactly what she wanted to write books about. In this dazzling new world, she turned her grocery-store romance ideas around and is now putting them to paper as fast as her fingers can type. She creates characters who are a bit flawed and broken, who find themselves on the edge of society, and maybe a few who are a little bit lost, but who all deserve a happily ever after. (And she makes sure they get it!)

She likes long walks on the beach, the smell of lavender and rainstorms, and enjoys sleeping in on snowy mornings. She is especially fond of pizza and beer and, when time allows, long road trips with soda fountain drinks and rock and roll music. In her heart, there is peace to be found everywhere, but since in the real world this isn’t always true, Jackie writes for love.

Website – http://www.jackienorth.com/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/jackienorthMM

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Twitter – https://twitter.com/JackieNorthMM

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18128460.Jackie_North

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https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/jackie-north/

Sign Up For My Newsletter – http://eepurl.com/drakS1

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A Caryn Review: Dancing with the Lion: Becoming (Dancing with the Lion #1) by Jeanne Reames

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Rating 4.5 out of 5 stars

Focusing on homosexual relationships in historical fiction in the ancient Greek world is not new – The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller and The Persian Boy by Mary Renault have done so and reached wide audiences – but I am still thrilled to see another entry into this particular area, especially when that relationship is deep, abiding, and meaningful.  There have been centuries of writing and thinking that served to ignore and whitewash what was an important, and beautiful, part of the history of that era.  While there are certainly many parts of the culture that I am glad are no longer accepted – the treatment of women, slavery, constant wars, to name a few – the general acceptance of sexual love between two men (or women) deserves to be remembered and celebrated.

I also have a weak spot for epic stories, and the life of Alexander the Great is certainly a compelling subject.  Dr. Reames added to this book what is a new twist for me – using Hellenic (Greek) nomenclature for names, places, and concepts.  Thus we have Alexandros, Aristoteles, Philippos, etc, instead of the usual westernization of the names, which lends it an additional air of authenticity and interest.  There is a wonderful section where Hephaistion tries to puzzle out whether eros – sexual passion – can exist with true philia – brotherly love  – in his relationship with Alexandros, and the use of the Hellenic terms made me really look at the debate in a deeper way.

The book begins when Alexandros was 13, and newly entering the ranks of the Pages, or the servants of the king, Philoppos of Makedon (Philip of Macedonia).  Even at this young age, Alexandros had to find a balance between being set apart as a prince, and Philoppos’ heir, and yet still one of the youth of Makedonian aristocracy training to become a soldier and officer.  Hephaistion was 17, the youngest and only surviving son of Amyntor, who ran away from his home to Pella against his father’s wishes, and Philippos was more than willing to add him to the ranks of Pages.  Partly because both young men were outsiders in a way, and partly because of their natural intelligence and curiosity, Alexandros  and Hephaistion struck up an unlikely friendship, that deepened over the next few years in the time they spent as part of a select group of young men tutored by Aristoteles.

The coming of age of a prince must necessarily be different from that of other boys, no matter how much Alexandros might want to be like them.  The court of Philippos was full of political machinations, and Philippos himself was a master manipulator.  Alexandros’ mother had her own ambitions for him, and she also used Alexandros as a pawn in the power games she played with her husband.  Surrounded by people who wanted to use him, Alexandros found his friendship with Hephaistion one of the few things he could fully trust and depend upon.  Although their culture was accepting of same sex relationships, these relationships were typically defined with a very particular power dynamic – the older “erastes” was the lover and dominant partner, the younger “eromenos” was the beloved, and submissive.  Alexandros and Hephaistion loved one another, but how could they have that type of relationship when Alexandros was the future king?  (NOTE – by keeping the ages of Alexandros and Hephaistion relatively close together, the author was able to introduce this idea without giving it the creepy connotations of the modern day practice of pederasty, which is pretty much flat out pedophilia from what I’ve read about it.  I have to give the author props for that – even if I don’t know if their relationship was consistent with how the custom was truly practiced)

This book sets up what I expect will continue to be an amazing story.  I know how it ends of course – sometimes isn’t that the worst part of a fictionalized biography? – but I can’t wait to see the rest of the journey between here and there.  There is a large cast of characters, which can be confusing at times, but they are all nuanced, multifaceted people.  Warrior king Philippos; philosopher Aristoteles; priestess/witch/mother Myrtale; as well as the young men tutored by Aristoteles along with Alexandros, all interact in complex ways that seem to drive towards some inevitable destination.  This is definitely a character-driven plot, which is my favorite!  The book ends as Alexandros participates in a venerable ritual that fully initiates him into manhood, a logical completion of Becoming, which makes me truly anticipate the next chapter of Alexandros’ life in Book II:  Rise.

I can’t wait to read the next book!

Cover art by LC Chase captures the ancient setting well, but does not reflect the grand, heroic nature of the characters.

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 282 pages
Published July 1st 2019 by Riptide Publishing
Original Title Dancing with the Lion: Becoming
ISBN139781626498969
Edition Language English
Series Dancing with the Lion #1
setting ancient Greece

Cover Reveal for Gentleman Wolf by Joanna Chambers

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Release Date: August 26 2019
 
Cover Design: Felix d’Eon
 
Blurb 
 

An elegant werewolf in Edinburgh…


Lindsay Somerville, the most elegant werewolf in Paris, has no great wish to return to his home city of Edinburgh, but when he learns that the cruel Duncan MacCormaic is on the Continent and hunting for him, he reluctantly agrees to go into hiding.


Duncan, who held Lindsay in abject captivity for decades after savagely transforming him with his bite, has been trying to find Lindsay since the day he escaped his prison a century before. If Duncan can find him, he has the power to compel Lindsay to obey his every command, so the more distance Lindsay can put between them, the better.


… on a mission…


While he’s in Edinburgh, Lindsay has been tasked with acquiring the “Naismith Papers”, the writings of a long-dead witchfinder. It should be a straightforward mission. All Lindsay has to do is charm an elderly book collector, Hector Cruikshank. But Cruikshank may not be all he seems—and there are others who want the papers.


… meets his match


As if that were not enough, while tracking down the Naismith Papers, Lindsay meets stubborn architect Drew Nicol. Although the attraction between them is intense, Nicol seems frustratingly determined to resist Lindsay’s advances. Somehow though, Lindsay can’t seem to accept Nicol’s rejection. Is he just moonstruck, or is Nicol bonded to him in ways he doesn’t yet understand?

 
About The Author
 

Joanna Chambers always wanted to write. She spent over 20 years staring at blank sheets of paper and despairing of ever writing a single word. In between staring at blank sheets of paper, she studied law, met her husband and had two children. Whilst nursing her first child, she rediscovered her love of romance and found her muse. Joanna lives in Scotland with her family and finds time to write by eschewing sleep and popular culture.


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Love Historical Romance? Check Out the Release Blitz for The Duke & The Dandy Highwayman (Duke & Dandy #1) by Zakarrie C. (excerpt and giveaway)

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NEW RELEASE

Book Title: The Duke & The Dandy Highwayman Trilogy

Author: Zakarrie Clarke

Publisher: Self-published

Release Date: May 6, 2019

Genre/sHistorical M/M Romance (Regency), Comedy/Humour

Trope/s: Forbidden Love, Highwayman/Duke

ThemesDuty, Expectations of Society, Redemption Tale

Heat Rating:  4 flames

Length: approx. 100,000 words

It is a standalone story

Add on Goodreads

Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

AVAILABLE FREE FOR A LIMITED TIME

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Blurb

‘The Most High, Noble and Potent Prince, His Grace Padraic, Duke of Waterford.’

After enduring the Ducal Grand Entrance, one might be forgiven for thinking that an evening could only improve. One would be wrong. Padraic was then duty bound to find an amiable miss to romance and dance attendance upon. In truth, the Duke was rather more partial to establishments that promised charms he would ne’er find in the arms of a Lady. Such dalliances did add a dash of decadence to his life of ducal drudgery, but time was tick-tocking and a blue-stocking bride must be wooed, and wed…

Raff of the Rookeries. The most afeared rake-hell to have haunted the highways since Darkin denied them the pleasure at the gallows…by stepping off the ladder before they could whip it from under his feet. Raff had fought his way up to rule the roost with instincts as razor-sharp as his dirk. His sword skills, fists, and wily wits had stood him in good stead, but none had proved as invaluable as the weapon he’d ne’er needed to tend. His fury. A rage every bit as lethal as arsenic—deadlier than brawn, brains, or bravado—Raphael had carried it like a toxic plague. Until, he became Raff of the Rookeries. Unleashed upon the underworld, it was the most formidable foe in London. Two men from two different worlds…a mere few miles apart. That is, until the fateful night when The Duke was halted in his tracks by a very Dandy Highwayman…

Excerpt

Mayhaps twenty minutes later, the air turned decidedly rank; a stench that came accompanied by random street sounds and the odd drunken shout. They were, beyond any shadow o’doubt, heading for some godforsaken part of town. A logical assumption, further embellished by the aroma of decaying cabbage and other, far less salubrious odors.

If the Devil himself intended to demoralize the poor, he could not find a means more agreeable to his plans, than the London slums.

“Nearly there, Yer Grace,” The scoundrel called over his shoulder as they slowed to a trot.

“Where is ‘there’?” Padraic dared to wonder.

“My humble abode. It’s where you’ll be staying awhile; leastways until someone coughs up for yer safe return.” The highwayman’s voice sounded harsher, colder while imparting this, as if his words were poisoned by the rancid air as they fell from his lips.

“Whereabouts are we?” Padraic asked, curious as to whether his rogue would answer.

“The Strand.”

It was as he’d expected. They were in the warren of narrow, filthy streets and alleyways in the densely populated slums. Home to one of London’s most notorious Rookeries. An utterly lawless labyrinth of squalid living, gin dens, bawdy houses, and brothels. Popular legend told of a traveller who had entered Portugal Street on his way to The Strand and never emerged. His ghost was, apparently, still searching for a way back to civilization. Padraic would just have to hope to fare rather better than he.

The Duke had e’er been horrified that people were forced to live this way, right under the refined noses of the ton. Poles apart, but virtually overlapping in proximity. Padraic had poured thousands into funding an orphanage and school for foundlings, when he came into his inheritance. He visited them oft, choosing the staff himself to ensure that no child was ill-treated, but there was only so much he could do. With all the will in the world, there wasn’t a great deal to be done, as long as those in power turned a blind eye to the suffering of others.

“Whoa…” When Demon clattered to a halt on the cobblestones, the Duke reluctantly relinquished his grip about his captor’s person. The scoundrel shifted in the saddle and with one sharp tug, the kerchief was gone, alongside a fair few strands of hair that were tangled into its knot. The Duke scarce felt the sting as his hungry gaze guzzled the sight it had been denied for the duration of the ride. ’Twas with a devilish wink that the highwayman threw a leg over the horse’s head, before lightly dismounting.

“Billy, m’lad!” He hailed a youth seated on the front steps of a large dilapidated townhouse, holding a lantern aloft. An endearing grin lit up his grimy face as he sprang to his feet.

“Yer all right, Raff?” he chirped, in very genuine cockney tones.

“Too right I am. We ’ave ourselves a guest m’friend. Yer Grace, this is Billy—he ain’t got another name—so I can’t tell yer that. Billy, this ’ere is His Grace, The Duke of Waterford, so yer better mind your p’s ’n’ q’s, like I taught yer.”

“Hello Billy, it’s a pleasure to meet you,” Padriac greeted him.

“Lawks! I can’t fink why, Yer…Grace?” Billy glanced at the man he’d called Raff, seeking reassurance for his form of address, and received an approving nod.

“I can’t think why ’twould not be.” Padraic smiled. Billy looked puzzled for a moment—as if trying to make sense of something he’d patently understood—then just beamed instead and reached for Demon’s halter.

“See that he’s rubbed down and well-fed, won’t you, Billy? I need to get our guest settled in.”

“Righto. C’mon Demon, let’s be ’avin yer, there’s oats awaiting and some fresh hay.”

“After you, Yer Grace…” The rascal sketched a bow, waving his hand with a flourish as he bent extravagantly low, before straightening up to push open the front door. It was painted black; blistered, peeling and desperately in need of a fresh coat. A large, dimly lit hallway lay beyond it, with a wide staircase ascending on the left.

“Raff! I’d almost given up ’ope on ya. Thought you’d gone a-whoring,” announced a stocky, bow-legged man, with close-cropped hair and forearms like lamb shanks. His broad grin revealed several missing teeth, the remaining ones having seen better days. Several decades ago.

Despite having tugged his kerchief down when they entered, Padraic was still unable to drink his fill of Raff’s face, for much of it was cast into shadow and the rest, obscured by a tangled fall of hair.

“Not tonight Bluff, I was off procuring us a guest,” he smirked.

“Crikey, you’ve nabbed a right nob. Who the ’ell is he?”

“This ’ere’s The Duke of Waterford.” Raff declared, inclining his head with divine insolence.

“Lawks! A Duke? Couldn’t yer find a Prince ’anging about then?” Bluff gaped.

“’Fraid not, we’ll just ’ave to slum it…” Raff tutted, with a fulsome sigh.

“I hope yer don’t expect me t’curtsy. I ain’t got the legs for it.”

“You ain’t got the legs for owt except sitting on ’orseback,” Raff retorted, about a breath before his tone darkened to a deadly rasp. “Bluff. See to it that no one. But no one. Lays a finger on him.” He added nary a dire threat, nor had he raised his voice. Raff had, in fact, lowered it to a lethal lash of sound that sliced the air like a whip—but it was the glint of green he levelled at Bluff that made the man swallow visibly while nodding several times.

“Will do, Raff. He’ll fetch a pretty price, won’t he?”

“Too bloody right, he will. I’ll have to keep him up top with me—Duke he might be—but he ain’t above being too ripe and ready by ’alf.”

“A dark ’orse is he? I ain’t at all surprised, now you mention it. Beggin’ yer pardon, Yer Dukeness. Right, I’ll just wait for Billy an’ lock up then.”

“Thanks, Bluff. ’Night.”

“’Night Raff…’night yer Dukeness.” Bluff doffed an imaginary cap at Padraic, who inclined his head with ducal gravity, so as not to disappoint him. The amiable miscreant was chuckling away to himself as he took his leave of them, before disappearing through a door further down the hallway.

“Right then, Yer Grace, up yer go. Right to the top,” Raff instructed, gesturing towards the staircase with a regal sweep of his hand.

“Are you locking me in the attic?” Padraic asked, as he clasped the bannister.

“I am, indeed. Yer can’t get up to any mischief up there.”

The Duke thought it might be wise to hold his tongue and make his way upstairs, afore the scoundrel decided to shove him in the coal cellar instead. Padraic’s brain was abuzz with demon steeds, daft monikers, and bandy-legged blackguards. A boy with only one name and a heart of gold.

About the Author

After moving to London at eighteen and flitting about for far too long, Zakarrie settled, as blissy as can be, by the sea. ’Twas here that her castaway dreams resurfaced and she began to write; stories that are, in truth, better at being her than she’s ever been. Her one hope now is that someone, somewhere, will enjoy the misadventures of her miscreants as much as she loves writing them.

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A MelanieM Review : Under The Radar by Lillian Francis

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

It’s 1942 and after a sexual indiscretion, US Navy pilot Zachary MacKenzie is sent to serve in the Royal Navy’s submarine service—a shockingly harsh punishment for a man who loves to fly. The submarine is oppressive and frustrating for him, and he’s marked out from his peers, publicly by being American, and privately by his attraction to men.

The only bright spot is the company of his steward, sonar operator Gethin Llewelyn. Despite the differences of rank and background, they’re drawn to each other. Gethin’s integrity complements Zach’s casual joie de vivre, and soon the friendship develops into something much more.

As the threats of war increase, the submarine is plagued by potentially hostile vessels, and circumstances lead them to suspect there’s a spy amongst their own crew. Being forced even closer together as they work for the greater good reveals a new awareness, and Zach doesn’t know what is in more danger, the vessel under his charge or his heart.

I am a long time lover of historical novels, historical romance included, among them several stories of Lillian Francis.  So I knew I was in good hands historically speaking when it came to the era and details of naval mariner life found in Under The Radar by Lillian Francis.  As always the author ended up delivering so much more than I anticipated, astonishing me with new revelatory details about gay life from that time period, secret naval oddities and historic events that Francis folds effortlessly into her novel and romance, along with characters that show great growth and redemption.

It is the latter that had me most concerned and yet won me over the most. US Navy pilot Zachary MacKenzie is passionate about flying, his need for the sky almost as fierce as his need and passion for men, but homosexuality isn’t merely a sin, it’s against the law, ending careers and sending people to jail.  But Zachary has an arrogant, almost fearless streak that gets him in trouble time after time until one last scandal sees him bedding the wrong person and ending up with an enemy too powerful  for his friends and family to assuage.  It costs him his “sky and flying”.  He’s sent to serve in a submarine in England.

You would think he’d be more contrite but no.  The character of Zach barely acknowledges his part in all of it.  And I had a huge time connecting with him.  His attitude towards trying to seduce Gethin (a true innocent about his attraction towards men), his responsibilities on board, Zach was just too glib for me to like.  Especially in contrast to the realistic portraits of submariners on board and the life everyone was living there.  Luckily, the author proceeded to slowly have the character of Zachary MacKenzie undertake a much needed personal growth, his character changing as his relationship with Gethin turned from pursuit into friendship and his appreciation of the people and duties on boards shifted as well.

The life inside the small cramped “tin can” of a 40’s submarine is mind boggling.  The descriptions of how the men lived must have come from journals it feels so real and authentic.  That includes the fact that homosexuals serving in the navy (or later adopted outside military services) used a secret language called Polari to speak to one another, a sign of recognition and let each other safely know they knew you were  one of them.  Here the author uses it in a wonderful scene and it sent me scrambling to know more about a piece of history I’d never heard about. Astonishing to learn that the language has been in use worldwide from 1600 to 1970’s, until LGBT laws made the language less needed. And the use of stewards in a submarine! A place where headroom was scarce alone with personal space!  And the fact that carbon monoxide poisoning was a constant threat upon diving…well the facts of life on board just continued to amaze me.

So with such a rich, solid foundation and framework established with her history and naval and gay culture, Francis proceeds to give her readers a wonderful slow burn romance with elements of suspense and drama that keeps both the characters and reader deeply connected to the men and plot right up to the end.  It’s all the many interlocking relationships here, the friendships that add to the romance as well as to the structure and responsibilities needed to run the submarine. It’s such a tight knit community of men that spills from career into friendship and in this case (and others) into romance and love.

And at the end, I’d gone from not liking Zach very well to whole hearted admiration for the man he’d become.  That went for Gethin too.  What a journey this was, what a path both still had still ahead.

Under The Radar by Lillian Francis is such an incredible historic romance, one I absolutely recommend.  You  feel as though the era and these men come alive for you.    It’s a romance not to be missed!

Cover art: Tiferet Designs.  Love the sub emerging behind the character and the beards, which yes, many of the submariners had.  Its part of the story.  Wonderful cover.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Universal Link

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 407 pages
Published April 14th 2019 by Finally Love Press
Original Title Under the Radar
ASINB07QMM3H8R

New Book Release Blitz and Giveaway for Rebecca Cohen’s Anthony, Earl of Crofton

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Cover Design: Garrett Leigh @ Black Jazz Design
 
Length: 66,000 words approx.
 
Blurb



A tale set in Stuart England, where the king’s life depends on his most loyal of subjects.


Anthony Redbourn, Earl of Crofton, delights in his reputation as a charming rogue. Life is never quiet at the court of King James I, especially with his good friend and secret lover, Sebastian Hewel, by his side. As an actor with the celebrated King’s Men, Sebastian has his own admirers, but neither man has eyes for anyone else.



When a plot against His Majesty is uncovered it threatens Anthony and Sebastian’s charmed lives, and they are dragged into the political intrigue and the race to save the king from danger. Fear that a traitor is linked to the King’s Men leaves Sebastian and Anthony with no choice but to stage a very public dissolution of their friendship, so Anthony can be free to be the patron of a new rising actor, and Sebastian can be the prodigy of another noble.


It is a dangerous game they are playing to expose the plotters and still find a way to meet in secret, as Anthony is adamant that they will not sacrifice the love they have fought so hard to win. They will do whatever it takes to protect the king’s life, and their commitment to each other.
 
Author Bio
 

REBECCA COHEN spends her days dreaming of a living in a Tudor manor house, or a Georgian mansion. Alas, the closest she comes to this is through her characters in her historical romance novels. She also dreams of intergalactic adventures and fantasy realms, but because she’s not yet got her space or dimensional travel plans finalised, she lives happily in leafy Hertfordshire, England, with her husband and young son. She can often be found with a pen in one hand and sloe gin with lemon tonic in the other.

 

Giveaway

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Cover Reveal for Rebecca Cohen’s Anthony, Earl of Crofton (giveaway)

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AVAILABLE APRIL 25 2019
 
 
Cover Design: Garrett Leigh @ Black Jazz Design
 
Length: 66,000 words approx.
 
Blurb



A tale set in Stuart England, where the king’s life depends on his most loyal of subjects.


Anthony Redbourn, Earl of Crofton, delights in his reputation as a charming rogue. Life is never quiet at the court of King James I, especially with his good friend and secret lover, Sebastian Hewel, by his side. As an actor with the celebrated King’s Men, Sebastian has his own admirers, but neither man has eyes for anyone else.



When a plot against His Majesty is uncovered it threatens Anthony and Sebastian’s charmed lives, and they are dragged into the political intrigue and the race to save the king from danger. Fear that a traitor is linked to the King’s Men leaves Sebastian and Anthony with no choice but to stage a very public dissolution of their friendship, so Anthony can be free to be the patron of a new rising actor, and Sebastian can be the prodigy of another noble.


It is a dangerous game they are playing to expose the plotters and still find a way to meet in secret, as Anthony is adamant that they will not sacrifice the love they have fought so hard to win. They will do whatever it takes to protect the king’s life, and their commitment to each other.
 
Author Bio
 

REBECCA COHEN spends her days dreaming of a living in a Tudor manor house, or a Georgian mansion. Alas, the closest she comes to this is through her characters in her historical romance novels. She also dreams of intergalactic adventures and fantasy realms, but because she’s not yet got her space or dimensional travel plans finalised, she lives happily in leafy Hertfordshire, England, with her husband and young son. She can often be found with a pen in one hand and sloe gin with lemon tonic in the other.

 

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A MelanieM Review : Murder at Oakschott Hall by Jim Austen

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Rating: 3.25 stars out of 5

In the Junior students’ dormitory at Oakschott Hall, a heavy gaslight falls from the ceiling, crushing the head of a student sleeping beneath it. Was it simply a tragic accident? To avoid publicity, the Headmaster asks Colin Revell, a young Oxford University graduate and former Oakschott student, to quietly investigate.

While interviewing the faculty and staff, Colin meets Max Lambourne, a handsome don who was wounded and gassed in WWI. When Colin tries to help Max overcome his trauma and depression, the two men fall in love and begin an erotic affair.

But when another student dies—diving at night into an empty swimming pool—murder is suspected. Students and faculty all come under suspicion, and rumors proliferate when Scotland Yard intervenes. Meanwhile, during all this confusion and wild theories, the murderer sees Colin and Max as threats. Unbeknownst to the two lovers, their lives are now in danger.

Murder at Oakschott Hall by Jim Austen is my first novel by this author and it’s in a genre, two in fact, that are hard to get right.  The first is the historical novel.  This is set in 1927 in England and has its own lingo/colloquialisms and historical framework wherein  the story and characters have to adhere to.   For Austen, that meant having his characters with WWI as part of their back history, including being gassed,  and having PTSD although it wasn’t called that at the time.  Getting all those elements that make an era come alive without making it feel like a history info dump takes hard work and i believe that Austen did a great job here, albeit with an occasional  slip up or two.  This author is inordinately fond of the word queer and uses it so frequently that it becomes not only noticeable but an annoyance.  When you count it’s use 3 times in 3 short sentences in a row, well, you can see my drift.  Other words could have been substituted but he was either making a point about its use in the 1900’s which yes, we know it meant something different, or its just his favorite word.  Either way, it took away from the scenes becauses it was a distraction.

The other thing that is hard to write?  A good old mystery!  And here, Austen does well too.  The author keeps us guessing  with multiple suspects right up until the end, with just the right amount of twists and turns to keep the main character poised for either a major breakthrough or major trouble.  Either way, I thoroughly enjoyed this element of the story.

No, I think where the story floundered a bit was in the romance itself.  And perhaps the main character of Colin Revell.  He just never seems to have much substance to him. A flighty sort might be one description.  I didn’t particularly like him.  And the romance?  A total case of instant love or lust.  It was a matter of Max Lambourne having a bad case of PTSD which turns into sex, when they barely knew each other in 1927.  Talk about taking risks.  Which of course turned into “I love you” almost immediately.   I mean how fast could my eyes roll? Yes that fast.  What follows between them is just as superficially epic while asking the reader to believe this is a real relationship.

No for me, while the historical elements and mystery worked, the two main characters actually didn’t, which was sort of a first.

I think that while I wouldn’t read this story again, I would seek out more from this author.  As I said there’s much to recommend here,just not the romance.  If you like historical mystery, pick it up for that.  And the language and setting.  I never could resist a mystery.

Cover Design: Reese Dante

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UKExclusive to Amazon and Available to Borrow with Kindle Unlimited

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 204 pages
Published February 19th 2019 by Flying Heron Press
ASINB07NJ2L79L
Edition LanguageEnglish

Love Historical Fiction? Be Sure to Check Out the Tour for The Fall Guy by Chris Quinton

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UKExclusive to Amazon and Available to Borrow with Kindle Unlimited
 
Length: 13,000 words approx.
 
Blurb



In 1920s New York, Pinkerton Agent John Brady is assigned to a brutal robbery/kidnapping, an open and shut case with an obvious culprit – but nothing and no one are what they seem.



Small-time crook Cesare Donati has the perfect getaway: a transatlantic cruise ship. When Brady turns up at his cabin door, Cesare knows he is out of options until they reach England.


Will London be a safe haven or a place of reckoning?

About The Author
 

Chris Quinton started creating stories not long after she mastered joined-up writing, somewhat to the bemusement of her parents and her English teachers. But she received plenty of encouragement. Her dad gave her an already old Everest typewriter when she was ten, and it was probably the best gift she’d ever received – until the inventions of the home-computer and the worldwide web.


Chris’s reading and writing interests range from historical, mystery, and paranormal, to science-fiction and fantasy, writing mostly in the male/male genre. She refuses to be pigeon-holed and intends to uphold the long and honourable tradition of the Eccentric Brit to the best of her ability. In her spare time [hah!] she reads, embroiders, quilts and knits. Over the years she has been a stable lad [briefly] in a local racing stable and stud, a part-time and unpaid amateur archaeologist, a civilian clerk at her local police station and a 15th century re-enactor.


She lives in a small and ancient city in the south-west of the United Kingdom, sharing her usually chaotic home with an extended family, three dogs, a frilled dragon [lizard] and sundry goldfish and tropicals.

 
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