Thank you, lovely Nell, for having me as a guest on your blog again! I’m Ellie Thomas, and I write MM Historical Romance. I’m here today to chat about Queer Relations, my September release for JMS Books.
When I was Nell’s guest in July, talking about my story Twelve Letters, written for JMS Books’ Twelfth Anniversary celebrations, I mentioned how much I enjoy writing ensemble stories. Little did I realise, at the time, that I would be writing a follow-up to that tale!
I’m not precisely sure why a close-knit group of characters spurs my imagination. Of course, I thoroughly enjoy writing about the love stories of individual couples. But there’s something about the dynamic of friends, the way they interact, bounce off and talk to each other which seems to inspire me.
This particular group of six men seems to have taken permanent roost in my head, and I’m already on book four of this series. I blame my characters entirely!
At the end of Twelve Letters, set in Regency London during the Season of 1814, we had two newly-established couples. Firstly, easy-going gentleman Jo Everett and Bond Street tailor Daniel Walters, then gruff Captain Ben Harding and serious young doctor Edward Stephens. In Queer Relations, set in autumn of the same year, Jo’s short-term ill-advised love interest from the first book, Percy Havilland, is unsuccessfully trying to get his claws into an older man, the very wealthy and very wary Nathaniel Brooks, who takes no nonsense from his would-be paramour.
But Percy’s spoiled and privileged life is about to be turned upside down, and with it, all his relationships. The haut ton cachet he took as his birthright disappears before his eyes as he faces social ruin. During this redemptive process, he discovers that this unlikely band of companions refuse to abandon him, with Nathan as his most staunch defender. Of course, this is a love story, with the focus on Percy and Nathan, but ably supported by my ensemble cast.
In the autumn of 1814, the Honourable Percy Havilland is generally content with his sheltered existence in London’s exclusive Mayfair. As a society beau, renowned for his fair and youthful beauty, an object of desire to other well-born gentlemen, Percy is slightly miffed that his personal life is not running as seamlessly as he might wish.
His good-natured lover from the spring Season, Jo Everett, has inexplicably lost interest, and his replacement, Nathaniel Brooks, is far too hard-headed to be cajoled and manipulated into pandering to Percy’s every whim.
But these trifles are cast into proportion when out of the blue, a family scandal of immense proportions threatens Percy’s peace of mind and his standing amongst the ton. Fearing rejection or even social banishment, to his surprise, Percy discovers a small, unconventional band of friends, including Jo, who are prepared to stick by him. And more importantly, he finds Nathan is utterly reliable in a crisis.
Will Percy remain spoiled, immature and pampered? Or can he grow from this disaster to appreciate the value of true friendship? And might he even learn to love?
While standing amongst a group of partygoers but not actively conversing, Percy pondered the state of his liaison with Nathan with a habitual twinge of frustration. Of course, he always had the option of drawing back and ending the affair, which he knew Nathan would respect and accept without question or fuss.
But for some unfathomable reason, even when he and Nathan were at odds, Percy vacillated over making such a drastic decision. Both men were accustomed to getting their way, and Percy found that their frequent battles of will had an unexpected bonus of adding a piquant frisson that Nathan seemed to appreciate, given the resulting spark in his eye. Also, although Percy would never admit this to Nathan, there was something oddly restful about occasionally ceding responsibility and control to another.
As his thoughts roamed, he found his gaze had drifted towards Nathan, standing next to Jo, both of them listening intently to Captain Harding. While considering his two lovers, past and present, Percy felt that an independent observer would judge Jo the better looking, being nearly a decade younger, slimmer, and with clean-cut regular features crowned with thick chestnut brown locks and smiling grey eyes. Percy could appreciate that viewpoint, but all the same, he could not help but feel that familiar sizzle of attraction as he surveyed Nathan.
Although the same height as Percy, with Jo only slightly taller than them both, Nathan’s heavier build made him appear shorter, emphasised by his dark hair neatly cropped in a no-nonsense style, with no attempt to disguise a slightly receding hairline. His features were rugged, and his eyes, an indeterminate brown, could appear flat, cold, and expressionless when considering a matter of high finance or if exasperated with Percy, but could dance with lights of warming caramel when amused or aroused.
Percy’s eyes wandered over Nathan’s body, slightly too thickset to be shown to best advantage by the current slim-fitting fashions, but as Percy knew from experience, was solid muscle beneath the covering cloth. Nathan was widely admired as having a very fine seat on a horse, and he practiced this exercise daily on Rotten Row, hours before the polite crowds came to trot and dawdle and chat.
This constant discipline resulted in those magnificent thighs that Percy now beheld and could enthusiastically vouch for their undoubted stamina. With a little shiver of appreciation, Percy’s focus moved towards Nathan’s face, now looking at him with undisguised amusement.
Before turning back to answer a query from Jo, Nathan favoured Percy with a salacious wink and a distinctly wicked grin.
Given this encouragement, especially as Percy had been thoroughly distracted by idle speculations about thighs for the remainder of the evening, when in Nathan’s carriage after the party, Percy was distinctly disappointed when Nathan mentioned dropping him off at Mount Street.
“Can’t I come home with you?” Percy protested.
“I have an early engagement tomorrow morning,” Nathan explained calmly.
Percy batted his eyelashes and delivered his prettiest pout, sliding his hand onto Nathan’s temptingly rock-hard upper leg. “Please?” He entreated.
Nathan retorted, “You are the most incorrigible hussy!” But as the carriage passed the end of Percy’s street, Nathan did not give the order to stop, and as they bowled along the street-lit roads of St. James’, Percy could see he was smiling.
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.