Thank you so much, lovely Nell, for having me as a guest on your blog today. I’m Ellie, and I write MM Historical Romance novellas. I’m popping in today to chat about Gentlemen in Love, a Regency Box Set containing six of my previously published stories.
What makes a Regency romance distinctive? Of course, the historical setting of late 18th and early 19th century England dictates that to a degree. But there are also familiar themes that readers recognise and enjoy. It is a period when romantic love became a popular idea, which resonates with us today. There are also distinct differences, as this was a society with strongly demarked social boundaries and where etiquette was all-important. Also, it was a time when love between two men was illegal, which lends an extra poignancy to MM Regency romance.
Regency romance tends to be set in the ballrooms, country house parties and fashionable resorts of the period where romance blossoms between couples of the same class and financial circumstances or those who dare to cross the social divide.
Together with social hurdles, there can be personal reservations about romance. In A Christmas Cotillion, while trying to behave as the perfect guest at a country house party, my MC Jonathan gradually comes to terms with past losses to allow his attraction to flourish for local squire’s son Nick.
In The Thrill of the Chase, gentle Adrian is escorting his cousins to the fashionable resort of Cheltenham while countering the unsubtle advances of Regency rake, Guy. I enjoyed how Guy’s unabashed sexuality played out amongst the customary soirees in various ballrooms and assembly rooms, with Adrian’s rabbit-in-the-headlights reaction to such shamelessness.
For the setting of A Marriage for Three, it’s money, power and class as well as lack of prospects for women which informs this story. Charlotte might be an independent young woman, determined to support her family as much as her two adult brothers, but her career prospects are minimal. A practical offer of marriage from Anthony, a close friend of the family and wealthy landowner, becomes her only option, despite the fact he’s in a long-term relationship with his steward Simon. It was interesting to explore the dynamic between these three people as emotional equals as they work out their unconventional future as a family.
There’s also a sense of class difference in One Summer Night, where middle-class civil servant Martin has a passionate encounter with aristocratic Will. Martin gradually realises that Will exists in a gilded cage, his circumstances dictated by his politically ambitious father, who just happens to be Martin’s department superior. With a fake engagement between Will and his childhood friend Imogen thrown into the mix, there’s a wealth of misinterpretations for my couple to untangle before reaching an understanding.
Manners and mores also influence A Midwinter Night’s Magic and Shore Leave. For Matthew in A Midwinter Night’s Magic, a careless acceptance to a Christmas country house party leads to him being stranded due to bad weather with his despised ex-lover Crispin while being forced to participate in amateur dramatics. It’s little wonder that some Shakespearian magic is required to bring the warring couple to reconcile.
Shore Leave is also impelled by the workings of polite society in the popular resort of Bath, where Naval Lieutenant Jacob steers his younger sister through the social round and encounters seasoned exquisite Sebastian. But when it comes to matters of the heart, Sebastian is less forthcoming, and both men have to work at turning this attraction into a fully-fledged romance.
In Regency England, whether about their daily business in London, attending a country house party or visiting a fashionable spa town, an array of gentlemen meet their match and attain a happy ever after.
Some couples find new love, while others rekindle a long-lost spark in this collection of six light-hearted MM Regency romances from Ellie Thomas, containing the following stories:
A Christmas Cotillion: Thirty-year-old Jonathan Cavendish has long given up any thought of romance. He grudgingly accompanies younger cousin Freddy to a Christmas country house party, as Freddy is infatuated with the lovely Belinda.
To his surprise, Jonathan catches the eye of Nick, a local farmer’s son. The initial attraction seems to be mutual, but can Nick break through Jonathan’s defences and teach him to love again?
A Marriage for Three: When Anthony Wallace proposes to Charlotte Grenville, she is shocked. Lottie has always seen him as an older brother, and she is also aware of his romantic devotion to his Anglo-Indian estate manager, Simon Walker. Should she accept this financial arrangement merely to support her ailing family? And will her growing attraction to Simon be a threat to all their happiness?
A Midwinter Night’s Magic: Matthew Lewis is trapped at a Christmas country house party by snowy weather and forced to take part in a reading of a Midsummer Night’s Dream. To make things worse, his lost love Crispin Marley, to whom he has sworn undying hatred, is among the guests. Can some fairy magic from Puck help the estranged couple to make amends for once and all?
The Thrill of the Chase: In 1813, when modest Adrian Lethbridge visits fashionable Cheltenham to help launch his young cousins into society, to his surprise, he catches the roving eye of Captain Guy Ransome. The ex-army officer is everything Adrian yearns to be; devilishly handsome, experienced and confident. So Adrian is in disbelief that the attraction is mutual. But can he summon the courage to act on his desires?
One Summer Night: After a passionate encounter with a stranger in an alleyway one summer night in 1801, Whitehall clerk Martin Dunne is shocked when he encounters the object of his desire at a society function, complete with a powerful father and a pretty bride-to-be. Is his seducer not to be trusted? And have Martin’s dreams of future encounters and possible romance crumbled to nothing?
Shore Leave: Jacob Longley, Naval Lieutenant, is all at sea in the fashionable Bath Spa. As he attempts to steer his younger sister Letty through the social whirl with a close eye on her reputation, his striking looks can’t help but catch the attention of the exquisite Sebastian Fforde. Will either man break through the other’s reserve? And could their mutual attraction blossom into love?
Excerpt from A Christmas Cotillion:
Mr Hammond’s chance came when Jonathan was on the dance floor, already partnered for the next dance. Belinda, for once, was unaccompanied but still standing up, as though eager to join in. Mr Hammond was near her, but unfortunately looking in the other direction.
Jonathan glanced over in helpless frustration, not wanting to abandon his young dance partner in the middle of the floor just as the music was about to start. As he again looked from one to the other, he caught the eye of the handsome farmer’s son. He was serving refreshments amongst those who had taken part in the last set of dances. He followed his direction of Jonathan’s scrutiny clearly with a sharply raised eyebrow.
As if receiving intelligence, he nodded at Jonathan decisively, put down his tray on a side table and eased the few yards through the gaggle of couples approaching the dance floor and tapped Mr Hammond on the shoulder.
Luckily, just then the music started and Jonathan saw his expressive face indicating a social dilemma. He nodded towards Belinda and then pointed to the momentarily abandoned tray as if explaining why he could not partner the young lady for himself. When all had been made clear to Mr Hammond, he received a grateful smile from the young man, as though Mr Hammond was doing the favour. He then turned back to collect the tray and offered the contents to the thirsty crowd.
It was neatly done, with Mr Hammond now obliged by his very good manners to ask the young lady to dance. Mr Hammond braced himself and made his way to Belinda, face flushed with embarrassment as though expecting a rebuff. Instead, he received her hand and a warm smile. Jonathan didn’t realize he was holding his breath until the couple reached the floor, unimpeded.
After a hectic country dance, Jonathan and his puffing partner retired from the fray. He was satisfied to see Mr Hammond and Belinda remain on the floor for the next set of dances, now conversing with apparent ease. As he looked at this with a feeling of pleasure, a glass of sparkling wine was placed in his hand with a murmured, “That was a good notion.”
He looked around in surprise to see the farmer’s son right next to him. Close up, his eyes were very blue indeed and his wide mouth was curved in that increasing familiar smile. Jonathan felt as tongue-tied as Mr Hammond had been previously in Belinda’s presence as he stiffly thanked the young man for his assistance. He seemed unfazed by Jonathan’s constraint.
“Just call me Cupid, or rather Nicholas, or even Nick, if you prefer,” he said with another dazzling grin, before turning gracefully to serve refreshments to the guests behind Jonathan.
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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.