A MelanieM Review: Foxglove Copse (Porthkennack #5) by Alex Beecroft

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

A Porthkennack Contemporary Novel

After a massive anxiety attack, Sam Atkins left his high-powered job in the City and committed himself to life on the road in a small van. Six months in, he’s running out of savings and coming to the conclusion that he might have to go home to his emotionally abusive family.

Needing time to think, he takes a walk through a copse by the Cornish roadside, only to stumble upon the body of a ritualistically killed sheep. As he’s trying to work out what the symbols around the animal mean, the sheep’s owner, Jennifer, and her nephew, Ruan Gwynn, come upon him.

Ruan is a kind-hearted young man with a large supportive clan, and since he and Sam feel almost instant attraction, he doesn’t want to believe Sam is a sheep-killing cultist. In fact, the moment he lays eyes on Sam’s miserable solitary life, he wants to rescue the man. But as the killings escalate, he and Sam need to stop whoever is actually to blame before they can concentrate on saving each other.

The Porthkennack series from Riptide Publishing has become a serious addiction of mine and this latest story, Foxglove Copse (Porthkennack #5) by Alex Beecroft is an excellent example why.  Alex Beecroft gives us Porthkennack from two perspectives, that from the insider, Ruan Gwynn, from one of the ancient families in this Cornish seaside town and the other, Sam Atkins, an ’emmett’, an outsider.  Sam has left his old life behind as a matter of emotional and physical survival.  Sam has fled his controlling, emotionally abusive family, his job, everything and he’s now living out of his van which he has parked in a field in Porthkennack.   And trouble has found in in a huge and troubling way.

Porthkennack itself is not just a setting but a vivid, stirring major element of this series.  It’s layered in ancient history, murder, smugglers, a tightly knit community that believes it can police itself and its actions as it has for hundreds of years.  There’s a tapestry of dependency and communication that’s often invisible to outsiders and making that come alive and apparent to everyone in all the scenes takes a wonderful eye and great writing.  Alex Beecroft has done that here.

All the hidden currents of this village flow around the events that are happening and Sam picks on up them even if he’s not sure what they mean at first. Ruan is aware at the surface of which families might be involved, but as Ruan investigates further into his village’s past, even he is surprised by the revelations.  I love Ruan.  His desperation and bravery as he knowingly goes against village “law’ and tradition only bring us closer to him.  This is a character who’s very vulnerability makes him shine so bright.

Each author builds on the other’s stories and universe which is fascinating. Porthkennack’s legends and histories keep evolving. I loved the author’s take on characters met in other stories.   As always the local, ancient criminal family, the Lusmoores figure large and here I got to see matriarch Wyn Lusmoore in a totally different light than I did in House of Cards (A Porthkennack novel) by Garrett Leigh.  Which was perfect indeed.   Nor was she the only Lusmoore that showed up or character from the village.

So many terrific elements here from the young girls who banded together around the van and Sam, like Tegan and Maryam, aunt Jennifer and Alana.  With Beecroft’s excellent characterizations, these people came to life here and I felt like I knew them all.  Plus the sensitive manner in which the author handled Sam’s anxiety attacks and their debilitating effects it made our connection to and understanding of Sam even stronger.

In all, Foxglove Copse (Porthkennack #5) by Alex Beecroft is just a terrific story.  It has a great mystery, wonderful romance and is set in a village I never tire of visiting.  The books in this series are mostly independent of each other.  House of Cards by Garrett Leigh does have a sequel coming out soon and some in the series are historical.  But if you love M/M contemporary romance with a touch of mystery, this one is a sure winner!

Cover by G.D. Leigh is perfection.  From the color tone to the character, it has it all.

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 249 pages
Expected publication: September 4th 2017 by Riptide Publishing
ISBN139781626495463
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesPorthkennack #5

This title is part of the Porthkennack universe.

In Our Contemporary Spotlight: Foxglove Copse (Porthkennack #5) by Alex Beecroft (tour and giveaway)

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Foxglove Copse (Porthkennack #5) by Alex Beecroft
Riptide Publishing
Cover by: G.D. Leigh

Available for Purchase at Riptide Publishing

✒︎

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Alex Beecroft’s tour for Foxglove Copse, another Porthkennack story, one we highly recommend along with the series from Riptide Publishing.

 

About Foxglove Copse

After a massive anxiety attack, Sam Atkins left his high-powered job in the City and committed himself to life on the road in a small van. Six months in, he’s running out of savings and coming to the conclusion that he might have to go home to his emotionally abusive family.

Needing time to think, he takes a walk through a copse by the Cornish roadside, only to stumble upon the body of a ritualistically killed sheep. As he’s trying to work out what the symbols around the animal mean, the sheep’s owner, Jennifer, and her nephew, Ruan Gwynn, come upon him.

Ruan is a kind-hearted young man with a large supportive clan, and since he and Sam feel almost instant attraction, he doesn’t want to believe Sam is a sheep-killing cultist. In fact, the moment he lays eyes on Sam’s miserable solitary life, he wants to rescue the man. But as the killings escalate, he and Sam need to stop whoever is actually to blame before they can concentrate on saving each other.

Now available from Riptide Publishing. http://www.riptidepublishing.com/titles/foxglove-copse

About the Porthkennack Universe

Welcome to Porthkennack, a charming Cornish seaside town with a long and sometimes sinister history. Legend says King Arthur’s Black Knight built the fort on the headland here, and it’s a certainty that the town was founded on the proceeds of smuggling, piracy on the high seas, and the deliberate wrecking of cargo ships on the rocky shore. Nowadays it draws in the tourists with sunshine and surfing, but locals know that the ghosts of its Gothic past are never far below the surface.

This collaborative story world is brought to you by five award-winning, best-selling British LGBTQ romance authors: Alex Beecroft, Joanna Chambers, Charlie Cochrane, Garrett Leigh, and JL Merrow. Follow Porthkennack and its inhabitants through the centuries and through the full rainbow spectrum with historical and contemporary stand-alone titles.

Check out Porthkennack! http://www.riptidepublishing.com/titles/universe/porthkennack

About Alex Beecroft

Alex Beecroft is an English author best known for historical fiction, notably Age of Sail, featuring gay characters and romantic storylines. Her novels and shorter works include paranormal, fantasy, and contemporary fiction.

Beecroft won Linden Bay Romance’s (now Samhain Publishing) Starlight Writing Competition in 2007 with her first novel, Captain’s Surrender, making it her first published book. On the subject of writing gay romance, Beecroft has appeared in the Charleston City Paper, LA Weekly, the New Haven Advocate, the Baltimore City Paper, and The Other Paper. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association of the UK and an occasional reviewer for the blog Speak Its Name, which highlights historical gay fiction.

Alex was born in Northern Ireland during the Troubles and grew up in the wild countryside of the English Peak District. She lives with her husband and two children in a little village near Cambridge and tries to avoid being mistaken for a tourist.

Alex is only intermittently present in the real world. She has led a Saxon shield wall into battle, toiled as a Georgian kitchen maid, and recently taken up an 800-year-old form of English folk dance, but she still hasn’t learned to operate a mobile phone.

She is represented by Louise Fury of the L. Perkins Literary Agency.

Connect with Alex:

Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Foxglove Copse, one lucky winner will receive a $10 Amazon gift card and an ebook of their choice from Alex’s backlist! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on September 9, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

A MelanieM Review: Sons of Devils (Arising #1) by Alex Beecroft

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Rating: 2.75 stars out of 5

British scholar Frank Carew is in Wallachia to study the magic generator on nobleman Radu Vacarescu’s land. There, his party is attacked by bandits and his friends are killed. Pursued by a vampiric figure, he flees to Radu’s castle for help.

Unfortunately, this is precisely where the vampires came from. If allowed, they would feed unchecked and spread their undeath across the whole Earth, but Radu maintains a shaky control over them and keeps them penned in his tiny corner of the country.

As Frank recovers from his assault, Radu finds himself falling for the young man. But loving Frank and not wanting to lose him leaves Radu vulnerable to his demons’ demands. Can he bear to let them feed on the man he loves? Or must he give in to their blackmail and set them free to feast on his entire country?

I have mixed feelings about this story.  From the synopsis it feels as though it will be told from Radu’s pov.  Instead, its mostly from Frank’s and that gives this story an entirely different and for me disappointing perspective.  Think prey instead of predator because that’s mostly what Frank is here.  He’s the mouse the cats play with before they eat him.

Given that the story is seen from a very shaky Frank who never seems to be able to recover from the constant mental, emotional and physical shocks and attacks he’s under, you never get the chance to know Radu. Or understand the attachment forming between himself and Frank.  Yes, he yells out that “he’s mine” but I never got that was out of  love, more a sense of protection and possessiveness.  Honestly?  Frank’s a bit of a wash too.  There’s a neat bit about magic here but that’s quickly lost which was the most interesting thing about Frank.

Had the story been told from Radu’s perspective, I think I could have understood his feelings more.  As it was I felt that they were lacking. At least towards Frank.  His bitterness and rage about other aspects of his life?  Yep, got that in spades.  Wish his relationship with Frank was as easily laid out in this story or as powerfully felt.

Beecroft does a superb job with the location and foundation here.  You understood the role of the peasants, the culture, and the dire situation they were in.  The castle itself is absolutely hair-raisingly scary.  These are not your sparkly or nice  vampires.  These are your old-fashioned predators who see humans as food.  They are cruel and rapacious.  So if you are expecting anything else.  This is not the story for you.

The story starts to fragment when two other elements are brought in, that of magic (the reason Frank had come to the land) and a war that starts up in Istanbul against Britain that will pull everyone here in.  But you don’t fully get that until book 2.  Just a sudden switch in narrative which is jarring, then a switch back to Frank and then a switch again at the end.  It took me a while to remember where in the switheroo I was.  All ends on a bit of a question mark leading to Angels of Istanbul (Arising #2).  I suppose I will go there just to see what happens next to Frank and Radu.  I’ll let you know what I find.

Cover by: Simoné. Absolutely beautiful covers.

Sales Links   Riptide Publishing | Amazon

 

Book Details:

ebook, 232 pages
Published March 13th 2017 by Riptide Publishing
ISBN139781626495548
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesArising #1

In Our Spotlight: Angels of Istanbul (Arising #2) by Alex Beecroft (tour and giveaway)

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Angels of Istanbul (Arising #2) by Alex Beecroft
R
iptide Publishing
Cover by: Simoné

Read an Excerpt/Buy It Here at Riptide Publishing

 

About Angels of Istanbul

Wallachian nobleman Radu is recently arrived in Bucharest with his vampire parents. Welcomed as an eligible bachelor, he’s introduced to the enchantress Ecaterina, whose salon is Bucharest’s centre of magical expertise. 

But when Ecaterina’s brother dies of a mysterious new plague, it’s clear to Radu that his parents have not been idle. Soon Bucharest is in the grip of an undead epidemic—a less than ideal time for Ottoman Sultan Mahmud, Wallachia’s overlord, to call Bucharest’s nobility to assemble their armies in Istanbul for a holy war against Britain.

The Wallachians have long resented their Ottoman overlords, so Radu seizes the chance to eliminate them while also ridding Bucharest of the undead: he leads an army of vampires to Istanbul and sets them to feed on the Turks.

As Radu’s demons gut the city of Istanbul, their plans become horribly clear. This is only the start. With the Ottoman armies under their control, the undead are poised to suck the life out of the whole world. Radu, his lover Frank, and Ecaterina are appalled at what they’ve unleashed. But they may be too late to stop it.

Now available from Riptide Publishing

This title is #2 of the Arising series.

About Alex Beecroft

Alex Beecroft is an English author best known for historical fiction, notably Age of Sail, featuring gay characters and romantic storylines. Her novels and shorter works include paranormal, fantasy, and contemporary fiction.

Beecroft won Linden Bay Romance’s (now Samhain Publishing) Starlight Writing Competition in 2007 with her first novel, Captain’s Surrender, making it her first published book. On the subject of writing gay romance, Beecroft has appeared in the Charleston City PaperLA Weekly, the New Haven Advocate, the Baltimore City Paper, and The Other Paper. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association of the UK and an occasional reviewer for the blog Speak Its Name, which highlights historical gay fiction.

Alex was born in Northern Ireland during the Troubles and grew up in the wild countryside of the English Peak District. She lives with her husband and two children in a little village near Cambridge and tries to avoid being mistaken for a tourist.

Alex is only intermittently present in the real world. She has led a Saxon shield wall into battle, toiled as a Georgian kitchen maid, and recently taken up an 800-year-old form of English folk dance, but she still hasn’t learned to operate a mobile phone.

She is represented by Louise Fury of the L. Perkins Literary Agency.

Connect with Alex:

Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Angels of Istanbul, one lucky winner will receive $10 Riptide credit and their choice of ebook from Alex’s backlist! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on April 1, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

Love Never Dies in ‘Sons of Devils (Arising #1)’ by Alex Beecroft (giveaway)

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Sons of Devils (Arising #1) by Alex Beecroft
R
iptide Publishing

Cover by: Simoné

Available for Purchase/Read an Excerpt at

Riptide Publishing

 

About Sons of Devils

British scholar Frank Carew is in Wallachia to study the magic generator on nobleman Radu Vacarescu’s land. There, his party is attacked by bandits and his friends are killed. Pursued by a vampiric figure, he flees to Radu’s castle for help.

Unfortunately, this is precisely where the vampires came from. If allowed, they would feed unchecked and spread their undeath across the whole Earth, but Radu maintains a shaky control over them and keeps them penned in his tiny corner of the country.

As Frank recovers from his assault, Radu finds himself falling for the young man. But loving Frank and not wanting to lose him leaves Radu vulnerable to his demons’ demands. Can he bear to let them feed on the man he loves? Or must he give in to their blackmail and set them free to feast on his entire country?

Now available at Riptide. http://www.riptidepublishing.com/titles/sons-of-devils

About Alex Beecroft

Alex Beecroft is an English author best known for historical fiction, notably Age of Sail, featuring gay characters and romantic storylines. Her novels and shorter works include paranormal, fantasy, and contemporary fiction.

Beecroft won Linden Bay Romance’s (now Samhain Publishing) Starlight Writing Competition in 2007 with her first novel, Captain’s Surrender, making it her first published book. On the subject of writing gay romance, Beecroft has appeared in the Charleston City PaperLA Weekly, the New Haven Advocate, the Baltimore City Paper, and The Other Paper. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association of the UK and an occasional reviewer for the blog Speak Its Name, which highlights historical gay fiction.

Alex was born in Northern Ireland during the Troubles and grew up in the wild countryside of the English Peak District. She lives with her husband and two children in a little village near Cambridge and tries to avoid being mistaken for a tourist.

Alex is only intermittently present in the real world. She has led a Saxon shield wall into battle, toiled as a Georgian kitchen maid, and recently taken up an 800-year-old form of English folk dance, but she still hasn’t learned to operate a mobile phone.

She is represented by Louise Fury of the L. Perkins Literary Agency.

Connect with Alex:

Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Sons of Devils, one lucky winner will receive a $10 Riptide credit and one ebook from Alex Beecroft’s backlist! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on March 18, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

Love Mythology & Romance? Check out Labyrinth by Alex Beecroft (giveaway)

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Labyrinth by Alex Beecroft
R
iptide Publishing
Cover by: Simoné

Release Date:  November 21, 2016

Read an Excerpt/Buy it Here

About Labyrinth

Kikeru, the child of a priestess at the sacred temple of Knossos in ancient Crete, believes that the goddesses are laughing at him. They expect him to choose whether he is a man or a woman, when he’s both. They expect him to choose whether to be a husband to a wife, or a celibate priestess in the temple, when all he wants to do is invent things and be with the person he loves.

Unfortunately, that person is Rusa, the handsome ship owner who is most decidedly a man and therefore off-limits no matter what he chooses. And did he mention that the goddesses also expect him to avert war with the Greeks?

The Greeks have an army. Kikeru has his mother, Maja, who is pressuring him to give her grandchildren; Jadikira, Rusa’s pregnant daughter; and superstitious Rusa, who is terrified of what the goddesses will think of him being in love with one of their chosen ones.

It’s a tall order to save Crete from conquest, win his love, and keep both halves of himself. Luckily, at least the daemons are on his side.

Labyrinth is now available from Riptide Publishing! http://riptidepublishing.com/titles/labyrinth

About Alex Beecroft

Alex Beecroft is an English author best known for historical fiction, notably Age of Sail, featuring gay characters and romantic storylines. Her novels and shorter works include paranormal, fantasy, and contemporary fiction.

Beecroft won Linden Bay Romance’s (now Samhain Publishing) Starlight Writing Competition in 2007 with her first novel, Captain’s Surrender, making it her first published book. On the subject of writing gay romance, Beecroft has appeared in the Charleston City PaperLA Weekly, the New Haven Advocate, the Baltimore City Paper, and The Other Paper. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association of the UK and an occasional reviewer for the blog Speak Its Name, which highlights historical gay fiction.

Alex was born in Northern Ireland during the Troubles and grew up in the wild countryside of the English Peak District. She lives with her husband and two children in a little village near Cambridge and tries to avoid being mistaken for a tourist.

Alex is only intermittently present in the real world. She has led a Saxon shield wall into battle, toiled as a Georgian kitchen maid, and recently taken up an 800-year-old form of English folk dance, but she still hasn’t learned to operate a mobile phone.

She is represented by Louise Fury of the L. Perkins Literary Agency.

Connect with Alex:

labyrinth_tourbanner

Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Labyrinth, one lucky winner will receive their choice of an eBook off Alex’s backlist! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on November 26, 2016. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

A MelanieM Review: Blue Steel Chain (Trowchester Blues #3) by Alex Beecroft

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

BlueSteelChain_600x900At sixteen, Aidan Swift was swept off his feet by a rich older man who promised to take care of him for the rest of his life. But eight years later, his sugar daddy has turned from a prince into a beast. Trapped and terrified, Aidan snatches an hour’s respite at the Trowchester Museum.

Local archaeologist James Summers is in a failing long distance relationship with a rock star, and Aidan—nervous, bruised, and clearly in need of a champion—brings out all his white knight tendencies. When everything falls apart for Aidan, James saves him from certain death . . . and discovers a skeleton of another boy who wasn’t so lucky.

As Aidan recovers, James falls desperately in love. But though Aidan acts like an adoring boyfriend, he doesn’t seem to feel any sexual attraction at all. Meanwhile there are two angry exes on the horizon, one coming after them with the press and the other with a butcher’s knife. To be together, Aidan and James must conquer death, sex, and everyone’s preconceptions about the right way to love—even their own.

There are certain books you approach with definite expectations of what you will find with the characters and plot.  Sometimes those expectations are met, other times they aren’t.  But on those rare occasions, something else happens, a book doesn’t exceed your expectations, it blows them all to hell, widening your horizons and smacking you in the face with your assumptions.  That’s what occurred  with Alex Beecroft’s Blue Steel Chain, the 3rd book in the Trowchester  Blues series.

My love for the previous novels is apparent in the reviews I wrote and the author interview I conducted.  Alex Beecroft brought alive the small village of Trowchester, with its canals, long boats, antique bookshops, Morris Dancers, historic reinactors and characters of every type imaginable, every type except boring and uninspired. Up until now Beecroft has ushered me into her world with such amazing details such as musical instruments of antiquity I yearned to hear, dances I wanted to watch and a place I desperately wanted to be real.  Her characters, wounded, snarky, and amazing made me laugh, cry and nod my head in recognition and joy.   Then came Blue Steel Chain and everything went topsy turvy.

Where to start when everything is unexpected and sometimes hard to understand?

Blue Steel Chain is beautifully written and thought provoking.  And for me, it was also hard, emotionally, to digest at times.  At the heart of all the thoughts and feelings whirling around in my head is the character of Aidan Swift.  At sixteen, already thrown away by his family for his sexuality, he is fair prey for an older man hiding sick, abusive behaviors and deeds.  Now eight years later, Aidan is a perpetually frightened, submissive, abused young man.  Sometimes left chained and alone for hours as punishment, isolated from all around him, his state of mind is one of fear, chaos, an overwhelming need to please and much , much more.

Alex Beecroft makes Aiden so real your heart bleeds for him and your stomach churns during the scenes he has with his abuser.  Trust me, those are hard to take because we have quickly come to love Aiden so.  But Aiden has another secret.  He’s asexual.  That makes those scenes where he is being sexually abused even more problematic.  Why?  Because of the way he sees them.  I thought I understood what  asexuality meant.  Apparently not.

I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a character  (or author for that matter) recently that made me question my assumptions about sexuality and relationships as Aiden and Alex Beecroft have. We live in Aiden’s skin here.  Every moment, every thought that occurs from his  brief secret excursions away from the house where he is kept, out over the meadows, into the local museum where archaeologist James Summers is toiling over the latest batch of “finds” and having his own relationship issues.  Aiden’s brief moments of joy, his initial fear of Jamie, his curiosity and ,man,, this makes me want to cry again, his love of pottery and the art he was forced to abandon…we are there inside him, listening and weeping.  And hoping for a rescue.

Jamie too needs help. We’re let into his point of view as well, important in a story such as this one. His long term  relationship has diminished to the point that he rarely sees his “partner, and when he does, he dissolves into  a doormat for his rockstar lover to walk over. Jamie too is a believable human being, full of frailties, preoccupied with his bits and pieces of antiquity and his life in Trowchester.  It takes the arrival of Aiden in his life to shake up the status quo and get him moving again.  Jamie is not asexual but gay with a healthy appetite that’s been repressed by his current relationship and lover.

There are some incredibly scary scenes that involve characters from the previous stories who help Aiden escape and start a new life.  These moments in the novel are heart-stopping, white-knuckle, “wap your head against the wall” exciting and frustrating, all at the same time.  You know those bits where you are yelling at the actors on the scene to get moving?  Yep, that happens here.  But its what comes later that will blow your perceptions of romance and a relationship to bits.  Some will like it, some will love it and others won’t get it at all.  At times, I was all  three.

Ever think what it must be like to be asexual and love someone who is not?  What does it mean to be in a relationship when one partner loves sex and the other doesn’t?  How does that work?  If it does? Beecroft takes those questions and gives us some answers through the relationship dynamics between Jamie and Aiden.  At times I found myself shaking my head, thinking this can’t possibly work  But a conversation with a friend who is asexual basically confirmed that is does, more often than we think.

Can a relationship work when you must schedule times for sex because to do otherwise is an abuse of another’s wishes and needs?  Can a sexual being truly understand how an asexual person feels and act accordingly?  And visa versa?  These are all issues Alex Beecroft brings into her characters and storyline.  It made me rethink my own assumptions about relationships, what works, what doesn’t and  Steel Blue Chain has left me with even more questions and jumbled ideas, making me revaluate what I thought I knew about people, recovery and love. And did so through the character of a wounded,yet resilient young man called Aiden.

Blue Steel Chain came very close to a five star rating but a few things still bothered me at the end.   There was so much going on here that I thought the idea of all those years of abuse would leave mental, emotional scarring far wore than the physical marks Aiden wore from his time in captivity.  Yes, it was mentioned he was seeing a therapist, but it felt a little glossed over and not in keeping with the realism of the rest of the story.   Perhaps that would have made this a 600 page story, who knows?

Still, I find that Blue Steel Chain is the most ambitious and surprising of the three novels.  Is it my favorite? No. Is it the most remarkable?  Yes, I think so. Blue Steel Chain will challenge your perceptions of love and romance, it will make you rethink your definitions of love and long term happiness.  And it makes me yearn for more of this remarkable village, its incrediblely human and addicting inhabitants, and the stories they still have to tell.

Cover Art by Lou Harper.  I  like the branding, the tone and design works with all three stories but I’m just not sure that model works for any of the characters within.

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | All  Romance (ARe) | Amazon | Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 250 pages
Published July 27th 2015 by Riptide Publishing (first published July 25th 2015)
original titleBlue Steel Chain
ISBN139781626492066
edition languageEnglish

Trowchester: it’s the fourth smallest city in Britain, and visitors sometimes think it hasn’t left the Middle Ages yet. There’s a Bronze Age barrow, a wide network of ley lines, the best tea shop in the county, and more morris dancers than you can shake a stick at. Trowchester attracts those who have been hurt and those who are looking for sanctuary from the modern world. But scratch the surface and there’s murder and mayhem aplenty. People come here to find love, but they’re forced to learn bravery first.

The release order of the Trowchester series is Trowchester Blues, Blue Eyed Stranger, and Blue Steel Chain, but you can start with withichever book catches your eye; they each stand alone. I highly recommend them all.

Trowchester Blues (A Trowchester Blues Novel)
Blue Eyed Stranger (A Trowchester Blues Novel)
Blue Steel Chain (A Trowchester Blues Novel)

Alex Beecroft Returns to Trowchester with Blue Steel Chain (Trowchester Blues #3) A Stunning Novel! – giveaway

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Blue Steel Chain (Trowchester Blues #3)
by Alex Beecroft

Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Cover Artist: Lou Harper

Sales Link: Riptide Publishing

BlueSteelChain_TourBanner

About Blue Steel Chain:

At sixteen, Aidan Swift was swept off his feet by a rich older man who promised to take care of him for the rest of his life. But eight years later, his sugar daddy has turned from a prince into a beast. Trapped and terrified, Aidan snatches an hour’s respite at the Trowchester Museum.

Local archaeologist James Huntley is in a failing long distance relationship with a rock star, and Aidan—nervous, bruised, and clearly in need of a champion—brings out all his white knight tendencies. When everything falls apart for Aidan, James saves him from certain death . . . and discovers a skeleton of another boy who wasn’t so lucky.

As Aidan recovers, James falls desperately in love. But though Aidan acts like an adoring boyfriend, he doesn’t seem to feel any sexual attraction at all. Meanwhile there are two angry exes on the horizon, one coming after them with the press and the other with a butcher’s knife. To be together, Aidan and James must conquer death, sex, and everyone’s preconceptions about the right way to love—even their own.

Blue Steel Chain by Alex Beecroft is available from Riptide Publishing on July 27.

About Author Alex Beecroft

Alex Beecroft is an English author best known for historical fiction, notably Age of Sail, featuring gay characters and romantic storylines. Her novels and shorter works include paranormal, fantasy, and contemporary fiction.

Beecroft won Linden Bay Romance’s (now Samhain Publishing) Starlight Writing Competition in 2007 with her first novel, Captain’s Surrender, making it her first published book. On the subject of writing gay romance, Beecroft has appeared in the Charleston City Paper, LA Weekly, the New Haven Advocate, the Baltimore City Paper, and The Other Paper. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association of the UK and an occasional reviewer for the blog  HYPERLINK “http://speakitsname.com/” \n _blankSpeak Its Name, which highlights historical gay fiction.

Alex was born in Northern Ireland during the Troubles and grew up in the wild countryside of the English Peak District. She lives with her husband and two children in a little village near Cambridge and tries to avoid being mistaken for a tourist.

Alex is only intermittently present in the real world. She has led a Saxon shield wall into battle, toiled as a Georgian kitchen maid, and recently taken up an 800-year-old form of English folk dance, but she still hasn’t learned to operate a mobile phone.

She is represented by Louise Fury of the L. Perkins Literary Agency.

Connect with Alex:

Website:  “http://alexbeecroft.com/
Blog:  http://alexbeecroft.com/blog
Facebook:http://www.facebook.com/AlexBeecroftAuthor
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/Alex_Beecroft
Goodreads:  http://www.goodreads.com/Alex_Beecroftt

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Giveaway:

Every comment on this blog tour enters you in a drawing for a signed paperback from Alex Beecroft’s backlist. (Any title which has a paperback edition, excluding Blue Steel Chain.) Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on July 25. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Don’t forget to add your email so we can contact you if you win!  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.

Trowchester Blues ( A Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words ★★★★★ Series)

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Trowchester Blues coverBlue eyed Stranger coverBlueSteelChain_600x900

 

 

 

 

Trowchester: it’s the fourth smallest city in Britain, and visitors sometimes think it hasn’t left the Middle Ages yet. There’s a Bronze Age barrow, a wide network of ley lines, the best tea shop in the county, and more morris dancers than you can shake a stick at. Trowchester attracts those who have been hurt and those who are looking for sanctuary from the modern world. But scratch the surface and there’s murder and mayhem aplenty. People come here to find love, but they’re forced to learn bravery first.

The release order of the Trowchester series is Trowchester Blues, Blue Eyed Stranger, and Blue Steel Chain, but you can start with withichever book catches your eye; they each stand alone.  We highly recommend them all.

– See more at Riptide Publishing’s Trowchester Blues  series page.

 

A Musical Interlude with Alex Beecroft and Blue-Eyed Stranger(guest post and contest)

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Blue eyed Stranger cover

kantele-11-string-model

If you have read the reviews of both of Alex Beecroft’s Trowchester novels, you will know that I am deeply in love with this small village and its inhabitants.  In Blue-Eyed Stranger, the music and musical instruments that Alex Beecroft makes sing through the many passages of this story were old in origin but new to me in sound and shape.  woman playing the kanteleI had to go looking through the web for the pictures of the instruments themselves and the sounds they bring forth.  If only I had this post before hand!  Morris dancing, the kantele, and other folk tunes have become my latest obsessions thanks to these stories and their author.  Read on and let them become yours as well.

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A Musical Interlude – a Blue Eyed Stranger Guest post

It occurs to me that there’s a lot of music in BES, and it’s music of a kind with which most readers may not be familiar. ‘Folk’ in general conjures up different things on either side of the pond, and then there’s the Viking music which scarcely anyone has heard. So, come with me on a whistle-stop tour around the music in Blue Eyed Stranger.

Let’s start with the title. In fact the blue eyed stranger the title refers to is Billy Wright himself, champion dancer of the Stomping Griffins, but this is the dance and the tune that morris aficionados will think of if you ever say ‘Blue Eyed Stranger’ to them.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DQGJj-gkaO0

It’s also a good example of the Cotswold style of morris, which the Boy prefers because of its technical difficulty, (lots of tricky footwork) but which tends to leave audiences cold.

This, on the other hand, is a good example of the Border style of morris, which the Griffins find themselves doing more often because it’s what the people like to watch.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fjRTALO-l1w

Quite honestly I largely agree with the people on this one.

Somewhere around the middle of the book, Billy takes an unsuspecting Martin to a session at his local pub. If, like Martin, you’ve never wandered into anything like that before and are a bit bemused, it goes a bit like this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KCzMh5f89Wc

Anyone can turn up. If you know the tunes you break out your instrument and start playing along with everyone else. If you don’t know them, you listen hard and try to pick them up by ear, or you go and buy another beer. If no one’s playing and you can think of a tune, start it and everyone who knows it will join in with you. If you don’t know the tunes it’s trickier, so it’s a good idea to go on somewhere like Folk Tune Finder and learn a few things before you go. Most folk music is in the key of D or G. Stick to those and you should be fine.

The world of folk music and dance is still a very vibrant and lively part of most English towns and villages. There’s little difficulty in coming across it if you’re looking. Indeed, sometimes when we break out the instruments people leave the pub, going ‘oh, blimey, we don’t want that!’ So sometimes you can even find it when you’re not looking.

The world of Ancient music is a different story, but it too is out there.

Here is an example of the five stringed kantele that Annette plays. I think if you listen closely you can just about pick up the sound of it singing to itself underneath the tune. It’s clearly something which is difficult to capture on a recording.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1VEr-Suti4M

Technically, the kantele is a Finnish instrument rather than a Viking one, but as I’ve said elsewhere, the Vikings had trade routes just about everywhere. And speaking about things that are found just about everywhere, this next instrument – the Anglo Saxon hearpe (also known as a lyre) – is ancient and ubiquitous and found everywhere. You can evidently do a lot more on it than it initially seems. A lovely thing!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QHA5SvmJyJM&list=RDQHA5SvmJyJM#t=173

this is what Martin lends to Billy and Billy – who is a violinist – picks up immediately.

Later, after the book closes, they start researching the music of ancient Meroe, from which Martin’s ancestors come, but I found when I started looking into it that it was a huge subject about which I was not yet equipped to have an informed opinion. But interestingly, look

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ApHRWB9zcLs

that lyre is not a far cry from the Saxon one, is it? I like to think the musical traditions would fit well together, since their players obviously have.

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STRW Author BookSynopsis

 

Blue Eyed Stranger (Trowchester #2) by Alex Beecroft

Billy Wright has a problem: he’s only visible when he’s wearing a mask. That’s fine when he’s performing at country fairs with the rest of his morris dancing troupe. But when he takes the paint off, his life is lonely and empty, and he struggles with crippling depression.

Martin Deng stands out from the crowd. After all, there aren’t that many black Vikings on the living history circuit. But as the founder of a fledgling historical re-enactment society, he’s lonely and harried. His boss doesn’t like his weekend activities, his warriors seem to expect him to run everything single-handedly, and it’s stressful enough being one minority without telling the hard men of his group he’s also gay.

When Billy’s and Martin’s societies are double-booked at a packed county show, they know at once they are kindred spirits, united by a deep feeling of connectedness to their history and culture. But they’re also both hiding in their different ways, and they need each other to be brave enough to take their masks off and still be seen.

Link to STRW Review:  Find it Here

Buy It Here:  Riptide Publishing

Book Details:
eBook ISBN: 978-1-62649-212-7
eBook release: Apr 6, 2015
eBook Formats: pdf, mobi, html, epub
Print ISBN: 978-1-62649-213-4
Print release: Apr 6, 2015
Word count: 67,000,Page count: 246
Cover by: Lou Harper

This title is part of the Trowchester Blues universe.

 

STRW Author Bio and Contacts

Alex Beecroft is an English author best known for historical fiction, notably Age of Sail, featuring gay characters and romantic storylines. Her novels and shorter works include paranormal, fantasy, and contemporary fiction.

Beecroft won Linden Bay Romance’s (now Samhain Publishing) Starlight Writing Competition in 2007 with her first novel,Captain’s Surrender, making it her first published book. On the subject of writing gay romance, Beecroft has appeared in theCharleston City Paper, LA Weekly, the New Haven Advocate, the Baltimore City Paper, and The Other Paper. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association of the UK and an occasional reviewer for the blog Speak Its Name, which highlights historical gay fiction.

Alex was born in Northern Ireland during the Troubles and grew up in the wild countryside of the English Peak District. She lives with her husband and two children in a little village near Cambridge and tries to avoid being mistaken for a tourist.
Alex is only intermittently present in the real world. She has led a Saxon shield wall into battle, toiled as a Georgian kitchen maid, and recently taken up an 800-year-old form of English folk dance, but she still hasn’t learned to operate a mobile phone.

She is represented by Louise Fury of the L. Perkins Literary Agency.

Connect with Alex:
Website: http://www.alexbeecroft.com
Blog: http://www.alexbeecroft.com/blog
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AlexBeecroftAuthor
Twitter: @Alex_Beecroft
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/Alex_Beecroft

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Giveaway

Every comment on this blog tour enters you in a draw for a $15 Riptide gift card. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on April 11. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Don’t forget to add your email so we can contact you if you win!  Must be 18  years of age or older to enter.  Prizes provided by Riptide Publishing.

A MelanieM Review: Blue Eyed Stranger (Trowchester Blues #2) by Alex Beecroft

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Blue eyed Stranger coverFor Billy Wright and Martin Deng, life presents very different but just as challenging obstacles to overcome on  a daily basis.  Billy Wright’s problem? He’s only visible when he’s wearing a mask, which is  fine as Billy performs at country fairs with his local morris dancing troupe. But when the dancing is over, Billy’s life is lonely and empty, made seriously worse by his crippling depression.

In any crowd Martin Deng would stand out but he is that more startling as a member of a historical reenactment troop . After all, there aren’t that many black Vikings on the living history circuit. But as the founder of a fledgling historical re-enactment society, Martin is  lonely and harried. The headmaster as the school he teaches at doesn’t like his weekend activities, his warriors seem to expect him to run everything single-handedly, and it’s stressful enough being one minority without telling the hard men of his group he’s also gay.  Or coming out to his family.

When Billy’s and Martin’s societies are double-booked at a packed county show, they know at once they are kindred spirits, united by a deep feeling of connectedness to their history and culture. But they’re also both hiding in their different ways, and they need each other to be brave enough to take their masks off and still be seen.

The village of Trowchester crept into my heart with the first story in the Trowchester series, Trowchester Blues.  I fell whole heartedly in love with the layered characterizations, and richly textured story set within a fictional town so memorable and believable that I never wanted to leave. I knew another story was coming but wondered if it could possibly live up to the story that preceded it.  I shouldn’t have worried.   Blue Eyed Stranger is just as moving and rich as the first, perhaps even more.

Blue Eyed Stranger (Trowchester Blues #2) by Alex Beecroft is not a continuation of Finn and Michael’s story.  In fact, Finn, and his book club make only scant appearances here, along with Trowchester’s archaeologist James.  No, this story belongs totally and gloriously with the characters of Billy and Martin, a duo so odd and compelling that I wondered how Alex Beecroft came to think of them at all, let alone as a couple.

Billy Wright has so many layers to his character.  We meet him in the throes of a deep depression attack.  He is unable to move, even if its to save himself from the cold and exposure.  The thought that finally creeps through the  blackness enveloping him is the county fair his Morris troop, Griffins, is to dance at and we begin to understand how important dancing is to Billy’s survival.  The music, on my what  incredible music,that exists in Billy comes later.  With Billy, its at though he is enveloped in an invisibility cloak, one that oddly enough disappears once Billy dons the makeup and yes, cloak of a Morris dancer.  And then he flies, and takes our hearts with him.

I didn’t really understand that much about Morris dancing, the various types (Border, Cotswold, etc) and apparel and facial makeup the dancers put on.  But as Billy explains it to Martin, the knowledge and history (as well as misunderstandings about the black face  makeup), flow as naturally in the dialog as it would in a conversation with someone new and interested in what you were doing.   Beecroft gave me a nice foundation of knowledge that sent me off to Youtube for examples of all types of morris dancing and music.  But its not just in the explanations but in the descriptions of Billy and his troop as they whirl and jump and the clash of their wooden staffs that make this element of the story come alive!  I felt that not only could it see it happening, I could hear the various instruments played and the crowd react with glee and appreciation.

On the other side of this unlikely pair is Martin Deng, a phyically impressive man, whose biracial appearance sets him apart (father is from Ethiopia and an English mum).  His profession is to teach history in school but his passion?  To bring it to life as an active member and founder of a fledgling historical re-enactment society.  Martin is not only passionate about being historically correct in appearance and actions but as a black Viking he calls attention to himself just in his presence alone.  Martin is also gay, a fact he hides from almost everyone, including his family.  His small group, Bretwalda, is a splinter group from a larger more restrictive society and Martin is buried under the pressure of a new troop, obtaining new recruits and managing their increasing fair/event schedule while maintaining his job. It a precarious position, and becoming more so by the minute.   Martin may appear to be the opposite of Billy but underneath, that simply isn’t true.  Both men care deeply and passionately about history and representing it accurately.  While Billy is out with his sexuality, but unless he has his true self cloaked behind his Griffins attire, then Billy is less than assured about his attractiveness and appeal.

Their romance is believably full of obstacles, including Billy’s depression which is handled realistically and authentically and Martin’s fear of being ostracized if his homosexuality were known.   Both Bill and Martin need to address issues within themselves before they can move forward as a couple together and the manner in which Alex Beecroft understands this and makes the reader a part of their process elevates this narrative even higher.

Bily and Martin’s journey is fraught with misteps, fear, and ignorance but the trip they take together is gripping, emotionally rewarding, and results in what is one of my favorite books of the year to date.  You don’t have to have read the first story, Trowchester Blues, to read this one.  It does beautifully as a stand alone.  But together?  The portrait of an amazing small village full of people you would love to meet becomes richer and, quite frankly, more addictive.

Need a new passion or several?  Pick up Blue Eyed Stranger by Alex Beecroft, its my of my finest reads to date this year!

Cover art by Lou Harper.  I love the cover, but the inclusion of the gun (a minor element) surprises me other than to brand the series.  Give me a hearpe or a true Viking helmet instead!

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing   All Romance (ARe)   Amazon coming closer to April 6th.

Book Details:

ebook, 230 pages
Expected publication: April 6th 2015 by Riptide Publishing
original titleBlue Eyed Stranger
ISBN139781626492127
edition languageEnglish

Books in the Trowchester Series

  • Trowchester Blues
  • Blue Eyed Stranger (Trowchester #2) Expected publication April 6, preorder now
  • Blue Steel Chain (Trowchester Blues, #3)Expected publication: July 27th 2015