A Closer Look at Alex Beecroft and Trowchester Blues (contest)

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Trowchester Blues cover

 Trowchester Blues by Alex Beecroft

Here today is Alex Beecroft talking about Trowchester Blues, the first in a new series and one of Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words’ highly recommended reads.  Here Alex is talking a little bit about why England as a setting…

I’ve answered so many questions and written so many blog posts about this book that I’ve got to admit I’m running out of things to say, so I’m going to start plundering the questions people have asked me already.

In an early interview, I think with Riptide for their featured author spot, I was asked “Why do you choose to set your books in England?” I gave a short answer there, but I’ve got more to say, so I’m going to flesh it out a bit here.

The first factor, of course, is the simple requirement to “Write what you know.” When I write historicals or fantasies, that part isn’t really important. I imagine things hard, or I do as much research as I can, and – and this is the crucial thing – nobody else knows any better. So I can write whatever I like and nobody can say ‘pah, what do you know?’

But in contemporary life, if I wanted to write a story set in the USA, there would be thousands of people who knew that setting better than me. I’d be working from research and imagination, they’d be working from a knowledge that had settled into them over a lifetime. How could I, a stranger, ever draw a portrait of a location that was anything but a shallow veneer compared to the reality experienced by someone who actually lives there, someone who knows what the nights smell like, and how the dust on the pavements (sidewalks) squeaks under the shoe.

Much better to choose a setting that I know that intimately, so that when my editor says “You’ve said he left his sledgehammer ‘in’ the porch. Don’t you mean ‘on’ the porch?” I can reply “No. The kind of thing you call a porch we call a verandah. “This is a porch in the UK.

If I set a novel in the UK then suddenly I am the one who has a lifetime’s experience with the mores, assumptions and unstated expectations that rule the characters’ lives. As Oscar Wilde says, Britain and America are two great nations separated by a common language, but we’re also separated by different assumptions and cultures. Fifty Shades of Grey, from what I’ve heard, is written by a Brit who doesn’t really understand how the culture in the US works, and it shows. (Her characters wear dressing gowns instead of robes, and make cups of tea for visiting workmen, which is de rigueur over here but I hear is not done in the US.)

Plus, I know what the evening sunlight looks like on the Peaks, and I’ve experienced the intimidating unassailable politeness of your average policeman, and I have tasted the food, and attempted to hold my own in the relentless banter of your average pub, and I know whereof I speak.

All of that aside, why not set a story in the UK? It’s not the done thing to say so – patriotism is considered a bit suspicious in Britain, a bit vulgar and worrisome, as if it’s a sign that you’re also a closet UKIP member – but I kind of like my country. Admittedly, I don’t know any better, because I’ve never lived anywhere else. But although I hated London, as soon as I moved out into the countryside I felt like I’d come home.

Do you watch Miss Marple? With the gossipy neighbours in their beautiful, twee little villages. Murder, surrounded by dahlias? Those twee little villages actually do exist still. The churches and the ancient monuments, the landscape covered in ruins and history, the summer fetes in which the local vicar has to award a prize for the grower of the best marrow? It’s all true. And having plunged myself into that lifestyle eagerly and discovered the joys of the yearly agricultural shows, harvest festival, Plough Monday and the pagan weirdness of things like the “Straw Bear Festival”, I wanted to celebrate the charming eccentricity and the continued survival of that way of life.Straw Bear Festival

Variety is the spice of life, after all. And despite our reputation for the blandest food on the surface of the earth, you can’t go into a UK curry house and not realize that we also love our spice. There’s a lot to be explored in a country where the accent and the culture can change completely within five miles. Who better to explore it than someone who’s lived it all of their lives?

About Trowchester Blues:

Michael May is losing it. Long ago, he joined the Metropolitan Police to escape his father’s tyranny and protect people like himself. Now his father is dead, and he’s been fired for punching a suspect. Afraid of his own rage, he returns to Trowchester—and to his childhood home, with all its old fears and memories. When he meets a charming, bohemian bookshop owner who seems to like him, he clings tight.

Fintan Hulme is an honest man now. Five years ago, he retired from his work as a high class London fence and opened a bookshop. Then an old client brings him a stolen book too precious to turn away, and suddenly he’s dealing with arson and kidnapping, to say nothing of all the lies he has to tell his friends. Falling in love with an ex-cop with anger management issues is the last thing he should be doing.

Finn thinks Michael is incredibly sexy. Michael knows Finn is the only thing that still makes him smile. But in a relationship where cops and robbers are natural enemies, that might not be enough to save them.

See more here at Riptide Publishing.  And you can follow the tour here.

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:
Website: alexbeecroft.com
Blog: alexbeecroft.com/blog
Facebook: facebook.com/AlexBeecroftAuthor
Twitter: @Alex_Beecroft
Goodreads: goodreads.com/Alex_Beecroft

Giveaway

Every comment on this blog tour enters you in a drawing for an e-book from Alex Beecroft’s backlist (excepting Trowchester Blues). Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on February 15. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries.

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A MelanieM Review: Trowchester Blues (Trowchester Blues) by Alex Beecroft

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Rating: 4.75 stars rounded up to 5 out of 5

Trowchester Blues coverAs a Metropolitan Police Officer Michael May has seen it all, including the worst people can do to each other,  and it’s getting to him.  When confronted by the monster who has tortured and murdered a number of young girls, Michael loses it and  assaults him.  The ramifications of an officer attacking “an alleged suspect” will be ignored only if Michael “retires”.  It’s an act he agrees with even if it destroys a part of him.

The recent death of his brutal father gives Michael a place to disappear to, the small quaint town of Trowchester.  He’s inherited his childhood home with all its damaging memories of his abusive father and frail mom, and the narrowboats moored at the shared dock behind the house.   Beset by memories, afraid of his own rage, Michael is lost until a chance meeting with the town’s antique book seller changes everything.

Fintan Hulme is now an honest man.  Five years ago that wasn’t the case.  Then Finn was a happy  high class London fence, specializing in rare books and object’s d’Art.  But then everything changed and Finn turned his back on his old life and criminal associates to open a antique book shop in Trowchester where he became a model citizen.

Until the past finds him once more and embroils him in a crime with far reaching consequences.

For Finn, falling in love with an ex-cop with anger management issues is the last thing he should be doing, only he can’t seem to help himself.  And Michael, unaware of Finn’s background, is just starting to trust his instincts and people once more.

When the past collides with the present, and criminals starting to appear around every corner,  can an ex-cop and ex-con pull together to save not only their relationship but their lives as well?

Trowchester Blues by Alex Beecroft is such an amazing story.  It hooked me in from the opening paragraphs and our heartbreaking introduction to burned out cop Michael May.  He and his partner, Jenny Smith (another well done character), enter a basement that contains the mutilated corpse of a young girl.  The descriptions are horrifying and the reactions of May and his partner human and unstandable. But for Michael May, its the final straw, the last act of a depraved monster that puts Michael’s rage at himself and society over the top.  It’s impact is visceral, the memories of it on the reader and May lingers throughout the story.

We get May’s frustration and anger at his inability to keep something like this from happening as well as the possibility that the murderer will get off with a light sentence and do it again.  But the years and Michael’s abusive past turns Michael into a vengeful attacker, something that no law enforcement agency can afford to have working for them.   The scenes within the Metropoliton Police Station and its Captain give Michael an  authentic background and an avenue for our empathy and feelings for this sad, lonely man.  And the darkness follows May and the story as the location changes to the village of Trowchester.

This story has so many layers to it and all the characters you will meet.  These are complicated people with varied pasts, intellect and skills.  Michael, Finn, and all the rest lead lives that will fascinate, and compel you on through adventures, events both glorious and disastrous in nature. It’s sexy, and hot.  Be prepared for a little kink but the reasoning and actions not only make sense but feel right for both men and their burgeoning relationship. It all works sublimely as a whole. Beecroft’s narrative is lively, magnetic in its ability to hold your attention, and gripping in its suspense and ability to surprise you.  I hated to put this book down.

Confession time.  I wanted Trowchester to be real even though I knew through the author’s notes it was fabricated for the story.  Trowchester felt alive, its aged streets and canals so imaginatively described that I felt as though I could see them.  And it was the perfect setting in which to meet Fintan Hulme, a beautifully realized former thief of intellectual and emotional depth.  What a perfect character, not just in his personal qualities,  the wonderful way in which the author constructed him.  Fintan has such dimension, including his love of books. That is especially conveyed through the shop he owns and has lovingly decorated. It in his passionate tirade delivered to an unfortunate and all important book owner.  Fintan is a puzzle, but one the reader will love to figure out.  We take him to heart and fear for him when his past finds him again. And his matchup with a fireplug of an ex-cop who is his intellectual and emotional match is a true wonder.

I loved everything about this story, including learning about the narrowboats (more googling to my delight), and antique books. I enjoyed Beecroft’s creation of a village where the economical vicissitudes have wrought  a revival that brings with it the world-weary sophisticates and gay tea shop owners but still has a dark side that exists along the docks.  The suspense and pain of discovery, the desolate past that mixes with a hopeful but shaky present for all involved here.  Even a “ghost” in need of help appears and grabs at our hearts.  And I realized that the last thing I wanted to do was see the end of this story.  I wanted Trowchester Blues to continue and enlarge, pulling in more of the characters we meet along the way to the resolution.

Lucky for us, we’re going to get it.  Alex Beecroft is not done with Trowchester yet.  Be still my heart.  There is more to come. Alex Beecroft has at least 2 more stories planned for 2015 in the Trowchester series and I can’t wait.  Until then, grab up this marvelous tale and make the acquaintance of two opposite yet equally compelling men and their journey towards love and a future together.  It’s a book you won’t want to put down and one you will happily pick up again and again while waiting for the next in the series.  It’s one of my highly recommended reads!

Cover Artist Lou Harper does an amazing job.  It’s perfect.

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing    All Romance (ARe)  Amazon    Buy it here

Book Details:

ebook, 290 pages
Expected publication: February 9th 2015 by Riptide Publishing
ISBN139781626491984
edition languageEnglish
seriesTrowchester Blues

Books in the Trowchester series are:

  • Trowchester Blues (Trowchester #1) to be published February 9th, 2015
  • Blue Eyed Stranger (Trowchester Blues #2) to be published April 6, 2015 by Riptide
  • Blue Steel Chain (Trowchester Blues #3) to be published July 27, 2015 by Riptide