Guest Post: Writing Historical Romance (The Quid Pro Quo) by A.L. Lester

Hello there everyone! Thank you so much to Nell for letting me drop in today. I popped in during the autumn to talk about The Quid Pro Quo when it came out  and I have a bit more about it here for you today! It’s the second in the Bradfield trilogy (although it will stand alone) and is set a few months after the end ofThe Fog of War

It stars ex-army nurse Walter Kennett and Simon Frost, a detective who comes to Bradfield to investigate a murder. It’s a gay, historical, paranormal, romantic murder-mystery with a m/transm couple set in rural England in 1920. This is not a snappy tag-line, I appreciate 😊. 

Rather than tell you more about the story itself (you can scroll down for the blurb!), today I thought I’d talk about my process for writing historical stories. My longer books are mostly set in the Border Magic universe, which is where I get the historical-paranormal combination from. Yes, it’s an alternate universe…but not in the sense that I twist history. 

I like to be very precise in my historical research—part of my historian’s soul I think. I put my characters in a historical situation with all their day-to-day issues and then I think to myself…how best can I freak them out even more?

Recently I’ve written a few more contemporary short stories and novellas; and I’ve realised how complicated I make things for myself. I had a bit of a wobble in December and early January about the third Bradfield book. It seemed overwhelming to put together the history, the paranormal underlay that bleeds through to our world and then on top of that, weave in the actual plot of the novel. I had to step back and put it on the backburner for a while. 

Instead, I’ve amused myself by writing two very different short stories. One is a contemporary gay romance set in the theatre world (Out of Focus, out on 26th March) and the other is for the Naked Gardening Day anthology I am in with four other authors, (including Nell) that will be released on 7th May—Warning! Deep Water! The latter is a historical story, but set in the late 1940s. My Mama can remember what that was like, so my research was basically rocking up to her house, making us a pot of tea and asking her questions. 

It was a surprise to me how much fun I had writing both of these. They are both settings I know quite well—I worked in the theatre industry for a while and I grew up on a horticultural nursery very similar to the one in Warning! Deep Water!, so I didn’t have to stop every five minutes and to check something or look up language usage at The Etymology Dictionary or Green’s Dictionary of Slang. It meant I could focus more on the weaving of the romance. 

It felt different to write and I’m now deciding whether to write something else without paranormal and/or historical shenanigans, or whether I’m ready to plunge back into the Bradfield universe. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy writing historicals—the attention to detail and the research is very absorbing. And I have the story for Bradfield #3 roughed out in my head. It’s just a case of getting it down on paper.

But I’m not sure whether I’m ready for the pace of it. Historicals are definitely slower to write than anything set in a modern context simply because if you want to get it right you have to look things up. I definitely can’t write them in the school holidays because being surrounded by children is a step too far!

On the other hand though, there is something very satisfying about laying out the historical framework…putting Sylvia and Walter down in Bradfield, recovering from their experiences in World War One France, thinking about things like…how would they do the laundry? (the housekeeper does it, mostly, in a copper in the wash-house), would they have a telephone? (yes), would Sylvia know about xyz medical practices? All those everyday questions that in a contemporary one can make assumptions about or fudge a bit from ones general knowledge but in a historical needs to be looked up. 

And then once I’ve got the framework in place and I work out how the characters fit into the world around them, I throw in the paranormal stuff to push them off balance.

I am a terrible person and not a friend to my creations. Please insert your own evil cackle here. 

So there you are! If you like to read lesbian romance, then I recommend starting the series with The Fog of War. But The Quid Pro Quo stands alone—there’s a bit more about it below. And if you want an introduction to Bradfield and my writing you can download a free stand-alone short story, An Irregular Arrangement, when you sign up for my newsletter.

Again, thank you so much to Nell for having me visit!

The Quid Pro Quo

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

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

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

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

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

Buy from JMS Books : Buy from Amazon : Buy everywhere else : Add on Goodreads

Writer of queer, paranormal, historical, romantic suspense, mostly. Lives in the South West of England with Mr AL, two children, a terrifying cat, some hens and the duckettes. Likes gardening but doesn’t really have time or energy. Not musical. Doesn’t much like telly. Non-binary. Chronically disabled. Has tedious fits.

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Blog Tour, Guestpost, Release Blitz

New Release Spotlight: The Drunken Dog by Ofelia Gränd

Hello everyone! Thank you, Nell, for allowing me to steal a spot on your blog again. Yesterday, The Drunken Dog was released, and it’s a short paranormal gay romance story that I wrote for JMS Books’ Sugar or Spice call.

It’s a call for short stories that had either something to do with sugar or something to do with spice. I picked spice. Otis, one of my main characters, finds Zev’s, my other main character, scent spicy and gets a bit obsessed with it.

As I am here guesting the queen of short stories, I thought I’d let you in on a little secret. Writing short stories is super hard! You want a plot, you want character depth and development, and you need to show all that on a few precious pages. I used to love writing short stories. Flash fiction was my go-to format. I loved the challenge of telling a story in 1000 words or less.

Now? I still love short stories, but all my ideas seem to be too big. I don’t know when I broke myself LOL

The Sugar or Spice stories were supposed to be 5,000 to 11,999 words, and I really tried to stick to that. I did! But The Drunken Dog is 12,121 words. It was 11,988 words when I submitted it, but once we’d gone through the editing process, we had added to it.

That’s fine… sort of. There is another short story call for Rain or Shine stories that will be out in April. I’ve submitted a story for it… A story that is 12,864 words now. We haven’t done the editing yet. My lovely publisher said it’s okay. It’s not to go into an anthology, so some extra words won’t mess up anything, but if you know me, you know I have this thing about following instructions.

If a story call states 12k as the maximum limit, 12,001 is not okay in my world, and now I’ve messed up twice. 

I’m broken.

So, kudos, Nell. Keep up the good work, and keep the stories within the call limits! (LOL, thank you, I’ll try my best!!)

The Drunken Dog, as I mentioned above, is about Otis and Zev. Otis is a vampire who had to kill his rockstar persona since people were starting to take notice of him not ageing. Zev is a crossbreed, he’s part werewolf, part cú sídhe which is a fae hound. And there is this spicy scent…

If you’ve read Cup o’ Sugar, you’ve run into Zev before. You don’t have to have read it to read The Drunken Dog, though. Zev is a member of the same pack as Roarak in Cup o’ Sugar, but I tried to make the stories stand alone. The Cake Shop, which is the 12,864-word story that will come in April is also about a member of the pack but can be read as a standalone.


Zev Nightfall has a secret. For two years, he’s been the beta in a loosely knitted werewolf pack, but he’s not a werewolf. He’s a crossbreed, part wolf, part fae, which is a death sentence in most packs. That’s not his only problem. One night he meets Otis, a vampire. Shifters and vampires aren’t friends, yet fighting is the last thing on Zev’s mind. 

Otis Miller is in the middle of rebuilding his rockstar persona. Again. A hundred years ago, all he had to do was to move when people started noticing him not ageing. With cameras and social media, it doesn’t work anymore, and he isn’t sure he has the energy to start over. Then there is the shifter coming to the bar where he’s singing. He makes Otis want to jump off the stage and never look back. 

Zev knows he shouldn’t get involved with a vampire; he has enough problems as it is. But Otis is alone and vulnerable, and it tugs at Zev’s heartstrings. Normally, Otis stays away from other supernatural beings, but something about Zev makes him want to curl up on his lap and forget about the world around them. But how would two people from enemy species make things work, and will Zev’s pack ever accept not only a crossbreed but a vampire as well?

Gay Paranormal Romance: 12,121 words

JMS Books :: Amazon ::


When they’d packed up, he went to the bar where Gerald was cleaning up. All the customers had left, the door was locked, and the emptiness of the deserted bar seeped into his soul. “Was it a good night, Gerald?”

Gerald shrugged. “It was okay.”

“What did Zev say before he left?”


Otis rolled his eyes.

Gerald didn’t spare him a look. “He wanted to know which nights you’re here.”

Butterflies spread in Otis’s chest. “And you told him?”



“No.” Gerald put down the glass he’d been wiping.

“Why?” Otis hadn’t meant to whine, but why? What if he never saw him again?

“You wanted him to know?”

Otis opened his mouth to say of course he wanted Zev to know, then he stopped himself. “Did he ask so he could avoid me or because he wanted to come when I’m here?”

Gerald widened his eyes. “How would I know?”

“You didn’t ask?”

“I told him I didn’t want any trouble, and he said he didn’t intend to cause any. Then he left.”

“But… will he be back?”

Gerald frowned. “How should I know?”

Otis pinched the bridge of his nose.

“Does it matter?”


Gerald pursed his lips before grabbing a dishrag and wiping the bar. “I’m sure he’ll be back. He usually comes in the afternoon on weekdays, an after-work drink, I suspect.”

“He’s an alcoholic?” Could shifters be alcoholics?

“I find that hard to believe. He usually has a beer or a whiskey, then he leaves.”

“If I come in as soon as I wake, I might catch him.”

Gerald was quiet for several seconds. “You’re sure he’s a shifter?”

Otis nodded.

“Aren’t you mortal enemies?”

Otis shrugged. “It’s more our races are sworn enemies than on an individual level.”

“And you want to… be his friend?”

Otis had no idea. He wanted Zev to touch him, he wanted to taste his blood, he wanted to curl up on his lap.

“Maybe I’ve been surrounded by humans for too long. It was such a relief to talk to someone who knew what I am without having to hide. I didn’t have to pretend.”

“I know what you are.”

Otis sighed. “Yeah, but you don’t understand.”

“I don’t?”

“No. I’ve looked like this for almost four hundred years now. I change my name, and now and then I change my occupation, but every night is pretty much the same. I always have to pretend to be something I’m not.”

“And for fifteen minutes you didn’t, and now you’re fretting about him walking out the door without promising to see you again. Is he gay?”

Otis stared. “I don’t know. My glamour didn’t work on him, and he didn’t smell of arousal.”

“Your glamour… and it should have? Maybe he isn’t a shifter.”

“It should have worked, he is a wolf shifter, but he smells… spicy.”

Gerald shook his head. “He’ll be back.”

“You think?” If he had a heartbeat, it would’ve been drumming fast.

“If you’re this interested in him, then I’m sure he’s at least a little curious about you too.”

Otis wasn’t so sure. “He has a pack. He doesn’t have to hide what he is all the time. I don’t think our fifteen minutes together had the same impact on him that it had on me.” And didn’t that suck.

Gerald laughed. “You mean you failed to charm him?”

Otis rested his head in his hands. “Yeah, my charm didn’t work on him.”

“No, I meant, not you messing with his mind, just you, the real you.”

A knot formed in Otis’s gut. The real him? He was nothing interesting. Without his glamour, there was nothing that would lure Zev to him.

About Ofelia:

Ofelia Gränd is Swedish, which often shines through in her stories. She likes to write about everyday people ending up in not-so-everyday situations, and hopefully also getting out of them. She writes romance, contemporary, paranormal, Sci-Fi and whatever else catches her fancy.

Her books are written for readers who want to take a break from their everyday life for an hour or two.

When Ofelia manages to tear herself from the screen and sneak away from her husband and children, she likes to take walks in the woods…if she’s lucky she finds her way back home again.

Find Ofelia on social media

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Guestpost, Release Blitz

New Release Spotlight: The Wingman by Holly Day

My dear friend Holly Day is visiting today, talking about her brand new release The Wingman. She brought an excellent excerpt, so excellent I’m gonna have to read this book even though one of the MCs doesn’t want a boyfriend! (You’ll get it soon, I promise! 😆 )

Hello, everyone! Thank you, Nell, for letting me swing by again. I’m here today to chat about my 14th release in the same number of months. This time around, we’re celebrating National Wingman Day, which is observed annually on February 13th. I’m guessing it has something to do with the 14th being Valentine’s, and we’re supposed to go on dates then, but I could be wrong.

Wingmen… Do we really need wingmen? I’d be extremely uncomfortable to have a friend try to score for me. I mean, I met my husband in 2002, so I haven’t tried to score in quite some time LOL, but seriously?

If a person came to chat up their friend to me, I’d be hesitant and would probably sneak away at the first opportunity. There has to be something wrong with them if they can’t fix dates on their own, right?

Do your own trolling, peeps!

In The Wingman, it’s more a case of a self-proclaimed wingman than something the characters have agreed upon. Cole got out of an abusive relationship a year ago and has been holing up in his bakery ever since – happy in his own little world of cinnamon and vanilla. And who wouldn’t be?!

But then we have Gavin, Cole’s best friend, and he thinks it’s time for Cole to hook up with someone. He takes it upon himself to find the perfect guy for Cole.

Nell once told me that she doesn’t like books where the main character doesn’t want a boyfriend. I’m sorry, Nell, but Cole doesn’t want a boyfriend. The only one he wants to spend time with is Gavin. 

They go to a bar, but since Cole has no interest in any of the guys there, and Gavin deems everyone unworthy of Cole’s attention, his success as a wingman is questionable LOL.

I loved writing this story. It’s just a short little thing, but it’s very dear to me, even if the concept of a wingman is absurd 😆

A wingman should help me get a date, not glare everyone to death.


A year ago, Cole Hudson got out of an abusive relationship. Since then, he’s been hiding in the kitchen of his bakery, avoiding people best he can. He prefers it there, but his best friend Gavin has other ideas.

Gavin is set on finding him a boyfriend, but Cole doesn’t like hanging around bars, and it’s precisely what Gavin has in mind. As Cole’s self-proclaimed wingman, Gavin is on the hunt for a worthy partner, but it isn’t an easy find.

Cole doesn’t want to date; he only wants to spend time with Gavin. Gavin only wants Cole to be happy. How many men flocking around Cole will he have to chase away before the right one shows up?

Gay Contemporary Romance: 11,424 words

JMS Books :: Amazon :: books2read/TheWingman


The February night was icy cold, and Cole shivered. He took a stumbling step, and Gavin grabbed his arm, which had him hissing.

“This no-touch thing, it’s new.” He didn’t make it a question but he let go of Cole’s arm.

“You touch me.”

“Yes, but you flinch and wince and hiss. And when someone wants in your pants, you panic.”

Cole opened his mouth to object, but what came out was a deep sigh. It formed a cloud in the cold.

“You used to touch me.”

Cole stared at him. “What?”

“Before. You used to grab my arm, shove me, slap my shoulder, sometimes you hugged me. I believed you stopped because you were angry.”

With a stumbling step, Cole came to a stop. “What?” He wanted to hug Gavin, but he didn’t want to appear… needy. He could manage on his own.

“I disappointed you. I should’ve been around more, should’ve checked in on you way more often than I did, but the asshole was always there, and I didn’t want to cause trouble.”

Cole stared while trying to make sense of the words. “What… do you mean?”

“We always looked out for each other, and I failed you. I know I did, but for how long are you gonna be angry with me?”

“I’m not angry.” He rubbed his forehead. “Why would I be angry?”

Gavin narrowed his eyes. “You’re avoiding me.”

Cole shook his head. He wasn’t, he just… “It’s cold, let’s go.”

Gavin grabbed his arm, and instantly he stiffened again.

“See? I might be stupid, but I can tell when I’m not wanted. It’s a superpower I have. I never believed I’d see it in you, but I know I’ve failed you.”

“No.” The crushed look on Gavin’s face broke Cole’s heart. “This is why we don’t drink.”

Gavin raised one eyebrow, but this time it wasn’t playful like it most often was. “We used to drink. Used to go out and grab a beer together all the time.”

They had, before Brian. Cole stared; he hadn’t reflected on how it had changed. “I’m not angry. I’m not disappointed. And nothing of what happened was your fault.”

“What happened, Cole?”

Cole shook his head. “Let’s go.”

Gavin said nothing but walked next to Cole—close, but not close enough to touch.

“I’m not angry.” How could he ever think Cole was angry with him?

“You’re something.”

Cole nodded, he was, but it had nothing to do with Gavin. “I’m broken.”

Gavin snorted. “You’re not broken. You need a good—”

“If you say fuck, I’ll hit you. I don’t want or need to get laid, okay?”

Gavin narrowed his eyes. “But I’m your wingman.”

“You’re my friend. And let’s be honest, you haven’t been acting like a wingman. Joseph called you my guard dog.”

“Joseph?” He growled the name.

“The man you saved me from.”

“Cupcake, you’re a magnet. I’ve saved you from a lot of men tonight.” He straightened his back as if proud, and Cole snorted.

“That’s what I mean. A wingman should help me get a date, not glare everyone to death.” Though he didn’t mind. Gavin could glare at whomever he wanted.

“They don’t deserve you.”

Cole’s heart did a double beat. “What?”

“Fishing for compliments.” Gavin tsked, but a smile tugged at the corner of his mouth.

“No. I… why take me there if you don’t think I should be with any of them?”

Gavin shrugged and put his hands in his pockets. “Let’s get a move on. It’s freaking cold.”

Cole could only agree and hurried his steps toward his apartment. They didn’t speak until they reached the door and Cole turned to Gavin. “I… eh… had a great—”

“Get in. I’m coming with you.”

“No, you don’t—”

“We’re not done talking.”

“What?” Cole stared at him. They didn’t talk. It was an unspoken rule. Cole fed Gavin cinnamon rolls, and Gavin brought a couple of beers and a movie if something was bothering one of them. They did not talk about it. But Gavin hadn’t been around with a case of beer and a movie in years.

“We don’t talk, Gav. It’s not who we—” It was a lame attempt to get out of what was coming.

“We are now. You end up in hospitals when we don’t talk—”

“It had nothing to do with us not talking.”

Gavin motioned for him to go up the stairs, and Cole sighed.

About Holly:

According to Holly Day, no day should go by uncelebrated and all of them deserve a story. If she’ll have the time to write them remains to be seen. She lives in rural Sweden with a husband, four children, more pets than most, and wouldn’t last a day without coffee.

Holly gets up at the crack of dawn most days of the week to write gay romance stories. She believes in equality in fiction and in real life. Diversity matters. Representation matters. Visibility matters. We can change the world one story at the time.

Connect with Holly on social media:

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Guestpost, Release Blitz

New Release Spotlight: The Spice of Life by Ellie Thomas

Thank you so much to the lovely Nell Iris for having me as your guest today! (You’re very welcome, it’s always a delight to have you!) I’m Ellie Thomas, and I write Gay Historical Romance. In this blog, I’m chatting about The Spice of Life which is my story for a Valentine’s Sugar or Spice submissions call for JMS Books.

After lurking around the 18th century for a few stories, I thought it timely to return to the reign of Elizabeth I. My other Tudor tale, Stage Struck, is set in the world of Elizabethan theatre in 1590’s London. This is a topic for which I have a lasting passion and have read around and taught about for many years.

So I decided to set myself a challenge and get out of my comfort zone and place The Spice of Life a couple of decades earlier in the 1570s amongst the merchant classes and gentry of London. Then I promptly panicked and convinced myself I knew nothing!

That was the cue to reach for my overstuffed bookshelves and my go-to author about all things Tudor, Ruth Goodman. What makes this author so special is that she is a living historian. For television programmes and her independent research, she has spent much of her career living as someone would in the past, with Tudor times being her speciality. Her books are crammed full of detailed observations about how ordinary people lived. As well as giving the reader a wealth of knowledge, Ruth Goodman’s writing is always entertaining and often very humorous, so a fun read.

The two books I dipped into for my research were How to be a Tudor and the splendidly titled How to Behave Badly in Renaissance Britain. Fortunately, I had read them both before, otherwise, I would have got horribly sidetracked, and my story would never have been written!

Having chosen my main character Gregory to be a serving man, I was reminded about the Tudor custom of such employment. Unlike later eras, where being a servant was a job for life, this was a transitional role for young people, as working in a household was regarded as training for an independent future. The same goes for Gregory’s love interest, Jehan. As an apprentice, he would have expected to learn how to become a spice merchant in his own right. So when Jehan gets into trouble through no fault of his own, he has a great deal to lose!

I also learnt details about the pomander, an object which is pivotal to my plot. These canisters contained perfume to ward off noxious smells of the city streets and ranged from something as simple as a lavender bag to costly containers filled with expensive resin, like the one that causes all the mayhem in my story. My imagination was caught by Ruth Goodman’s gorgeous description of a pomander, when worn by a lady, releasing its perfume every time it knocked against her skirts with each step.

Also, her detailed description of Tudor underwear (or lack of it) and the ins and outs of the workings of codpieces were vital for the love scene between Gregory and Jehan. Essential knowledge!

As the story played out in my mind, I could picture Gregory scurrying around London, trying his best to help his beloved Jehan escape danger. It was a boon to have such a reliable source to check those little details of Tudor life to help my story come alive.


At twenty years of age, Gregory Fletcher is content with his life, biding his time as a serving lad for kindly, wealthy relatives in Elizabethan London. Sometimes, he wishes for a spark of excitement in his staid existence. The occasional glimpse of Jehan Zanini, the handsome apprentice of a local merchant, adds spice to his dreams.

Out of the blue, Jehan is accused of stealing from an aristocratic customer. Gregory fears he may never see him again and is concerned for Jehan’s liberty and even his life. When Gregory gets the chance to help Jehan escape his fate, he grasps the opportunity without hesitation.

Can Gregory engineer Jehan’s flight from London and the authorities? Might he even clear Jehan’s name? And will their adventure draw them closer or fling them apart forever?

Books2read :: JMS Books

Cover The spice of Life by Ellie Thomas


“Do you have anywhere to go?”Gregory asked.

“Other than trying to reach my uncle in Southwark, no,” Jehan replied.

“Right, then. I can find you a place to rest up for the day, and we’ll make a plan from there,” Gregory said decisively. He attached the leads to the patiently waiting dogs, and with an encouraging smile at Jehan, he said, “This way,” and the ill-assorted foursome left the field.

The dogs had expended their spare energy racing around the field and were content to trot at Jehan’s slower speed, since his limbs were stiff after a chilly night lying on the hard ground. “Where are we going?” he asked tentatively as they walked into the city.

“My family home, at least that of my master, off Bishopsgate,” Gregory said briefly as they turned onto that thoroughfare and passed St. Helen’s church.

“Wait here,” he said as they arrived at the side gate he had unbolted for his morning walk with the dogs. He pushed it open and peered into the yard, which was still quiet and empty.

“Follow me,” he said to Jehan, and the men and hounds crossed the yard towards a cluster of outbuildings, some of which were much older than the house itself. At the back of these was a small barn, sometimes used as an apple store, but currently unoccupied. While mulling over the problem of where to hide Jehan, this seemed the perfect spot. 

Gregory opened the door and was pleased that the shed was dry and sound. He jerked his head towards the half-loft. “You get yourself up there, and I’ll find you some blankets.”

Jess and Roamer were content to explore this new place quietly, snuffling around as Gregory went into the stables as stealthily as he could and found some old horse rugs that wouldn’t be missed.

He let himself back into the barn and climbed the makeshift ladder to the loft, where Jehan was waiting, looking slightly lost. “Here you are,” he said, spreading a blanket over the covering of old straw on the planked floor. Jehan lay down obediently as Gregory knelt, heaping the rest of the blankets over him. “I should be able to get some food for you at dinner time,” he said.

Jehan’s eyes looked heavy already, “All I need to do right now is to get some sleep.” Then he hesitated and asked, “Why are you helping me?”

Looking down at that drawn, vulnerable face, Gregory thought, because you’re handsome and charming, and I have a liking for you, so it pains me to see you brought so low. But instead of voicing his thoughts, he said stolidly, “Such a charge could be brought against any of us. But for the grace of God, it could be me.”

“Thank you,” Jehan said, seemingly satisfied with that explanation, his eyelids closing. Gregory was so close to him that he could see the sweep of those long, dark eyelashes over Jehan’s pale cheek. Gregory imagined he could still perceive a hint of intoxicating spices from Jehan’s body as it warmed under the blankets. He ached to run his finger down the elegant cheekbone or even steal a kiss. But he contented himself to put a comforting hand on Jehan’s shoulder instead.

“You get some rest,” he said gruffly.


Ellie Thomas lives by the sea. She comes from a teaching background and goes for long seaside walks where she daydreams about history. She is a voracious reader especially about anything historical. She mainly writes historical gay romance.

Ellie also writes historical erotic romance as L. E. Thomas.

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Secrets on a Train

Release Day: Secrets on a Train

Wohoo, today is release day for Secrets on a Train, my short, sugary (as in real sugar, not fluffy sweetness), flirty, meet-cute story about two strangers who meet in a silent car on the train on their daily commute to work. How do you even flirt with someone when you’re not allowed to talk and deliver your best line (along the lines of How you doin?)?

It turns out that as long as you have pen and paper, you’re fine. Take Runar and Valentin’s word for it.

It’s the fountain pens that capture Valentin’s attention on the morning commute, not the perfectly imperfect man who spends his train rides using them. Not his pinstriped suits, his chin-length hair, or his perpetually raised eyebrow. But one morning when the man strikes up a written conversation, Valentin gives up all pretense. It’s not just the pens. It’s the man. Runar.

The conversations continue, and the men get to know each other better, sharing secrets they’ve never told another soul. The connection is powerful, growing stronger with every encounter, every scribbled conversation, every scorching look. But can secrets shared on a train be enough to build a forever?

M/M contemporary / 9889 words

I loved the flirting!

Pre-release review from Xtreme Delusions


That purple ink. I can’t get over it. So far, he’s only used black or blue ink, serious colors to go with a serious-looking man, making his handwriting almost ominous. But the purple ink softens the sharp edges of his writing—turning the angry-looking slashes into swoops and swirls—and of the man himself.

I grab my phone off the table and tap out a question. What’s up with the purple ink?

He draws a big question mark on the paper, but his quirked eyebrow already asked the question.

It seems so…bubbly. You don’t give me a bubbly impression, so it surprised me.


I nod.

Ink can be bubbly? The corners of his mouth twitch, as though he’s holding back a smile.

Today’s pen is as sleek as a samurai sword. Your usual black slashes would be more in style.

His eyes crinkle. You’re keeping track of my pens?

I nod. You haven’t used the same one twice since I started sitting across from you.

My admission—revealing that I’ve watched him every day for weeks—could’ve, should’ve, made him wary of me. Scared him even. But nothing in his demeanor suggests that’s the case. Instead, he relaxes back into his seat, crossing his legs over the knees, brushing out invisible wrinkles of his already immaculate suit, smirking as he catches my gaze following his every movement. He wiggles his foot, smirk widening as he gets the desired effect of my complete attention.

I tear my gaze away to ask him another question. How many fountain pens do you own?

He slides his calf down his shin, slowly. When his foot hits the floor, he lets his knees fall open and his hands land on his thighs. He might as well have drawn a huge arrow pointing at his dick and written LOOK THIS WAY! with his irresistible purple ink.

So I oblige him. I look at his long legs, his powerful thighs that not even the fabric of his pants can hide. And I look at his bulge, embraced and emboldened by pinstripes. Tantalizing, promising hidden wonders, making me want to fall on my knees and bury my face in the V of his legs and inhale him. Ingest him.

I run a trembling hand through my hair and let my eyes wander up his body and meet his gaze.

He leans forward to pick up the pen, his eyes never leaving me. More than fifty, he writes without looking, his words veering off the lines. I have to read it three times before understanding.

Oh right. Fountain pens.

Why that many?

I inherited my grandfather’s collection. He always said that a true gentleman needs a pen for every occasion.

And is bright purple ink a suitable color for a true gentleman?

Who said I was a gentleman? His dark eyes burn into me, threatening to set me on fire, and I grab my coffee and drink down a huge gulp to stop myself from licking my lips or doing something equally embarrassing.

My mistake, I type on my phone when I’m sure my hands won’t tremble.

I’m glad I picked the purple. Caught your attention. I want to write “everything about you catches my attention,” but instead, I take another drink of coffee, our gazes locked over the rim of the paper cup, clashing, vying for dominance, and when Runar shifts on his seat and smooths his pant legs with trembling hands, I can barely stop myself from making a victorious fist bump in the air, happy I’m not the only one affected by whatever’s going on between us.