Guestpost, Release Blitz

New Release Spotlight: Queer Relations by Ellie Thomas

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?

Buy links

JMS Books :: Amazon :: Universal Book Link


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.

Twitter: @e_thomas_author

Guestpost, Release Blitz

New Release Spotlight: One Summer Night by Ellie Thomas

Thank you so much for having me as your guest again, lovely Nell! I’m Ellie Thomas, I write MM Historical romance, and today I’ll be chatting about my new release, One Summer Night, written for JMS Book’s Night or Day story submission call.

When I chose to write about the option of Night in this story, I didn’t realise it would be such a contrast to my bright and breezy July story, Twelve Letters, written for JMs Books 12th Anniversary celebrations and concerned with the social life of the ton. Although these are both Regency stories, this one is centred around the political power base of London society. Martin, one of my main characters, is working as a clerk in Whitehall, and aristocratic Will, his love interest, is under the thumb of his wealthy and politically influential father.

Will is under so much pressure that something has to give, so it’s no surprise that his first meeting with Martin is no-holds-barred and passionate! These two first lay eyes on each other in an ordinary tavern (The Cheshire Cheese in Fleet Street, which is still a very popular pub). But when researching this story, I was fascinated to learn about numerous well-known meeting places for gay men in Regency London. As well as indoor locations such as bagnios (Turkish baths), certain coffee houses and Molly Houses, there were plenty of outdoor areas, such as Sodomites Walk on Upper Moorfield, where men could meet and hook up. Despite punitive laws, the Regency gay scene was thriving!

That public yet secret world informed so much of my story, with Martin and Will, unsure of the other’s feelings and intentions have to don a social mask in their everyday lives. This element of secrecy inevitably causes confusion until they have the opportunity to talk. Only then do they have the chance to transform a brief night of passion into the start of a true love affair.

In 1801, Martin Dunne spends his days as a hardworking clerk at the War Office in London’s Whitehall. One summer evening, after a drink in a Fleet Street tavern, he has an unexpected passionate encounter with a seducer who haunts his dreams.

But when they accidentally meet at a society function, the alluring stranger not only turns out to be the son of one of Martin’s superiors but also betrothed to a trusting young lady.

Martin’s hopes are dashed as he imagines the Hon. William Grant is a cynical rake of the worst kind. But has he misunderstood the situation? And might he allow Will to explain and give their fleeting connection a chance to develop into a fully-fledged romance?

JMS Books :: Amazon :: Books2Read


Feeling hot and tired by the end of the working day, Martin trudged home along Whitehall. Not having the luxury of a valet, once washed and shaved, he struggled into his evening clothes and combed down his thick dark hair. Then he practiced a smile in the spotted mirror, softening his serious expression, before setting forth on foot along the busy Strand towards Charing Cross. As he walked past his fellow citizens, the sticky evening made him uncomfortable in his constrictive evening clothes. At least it’s not raining, he thought, and he wouldn’t disgrace his superiors by arriving at a prestigious destination looking like a drowned rat.

Once at the palatial and newly renovated mansion, where no expense or extravagance had been spared, there was the usual endless queue on the stairs before the formality of announcements and resultant herding of guests into an already crowded reception room. Martin made small talk with some vaguely familiar faces from Whitehall who wouldn’t normally have deigned to notice him. He was anticipating when he might be able to escape when Sir Hervey was before him, smiling in gracious condescension.

“Enjoying yourself, Dunne?” He asked, and Martin replied with suitably muted enthusiasm.

“Met many people as yet?” The great man inquired, and as Martin demurred and started to say that he had been conversing with mutual acquaintances, his host turned to call someone forwards.

Martin felt a dull sense of obligation as Sir Hervey introduced a young lady in her early twenties, fragile and sweetly pretty in a simple white gown, the fashion for narrow skirts flattering her petite form. 

“Miss Imogen Ashley,” Sir Hervey intoned, as the young lady curtseyed, her eyes demurely downcast, “affianced to my son. I don’t think you’ve met my youngest, William, have you?”

Without waiting for an answer, he moved to one side to tap a young man on the shoulder. Martin’s first thought was that he was almost as fair and delicate as his intended, and then, as those all-too-familiar eyes met his, he realised with a jolt that this perfectly turned out pink of the ton, furnished with a dauntingly influential father and a winsome bride to be was the seductive stranger from the alleyway who filled his tumultuous dreams.

During the blur of introductions, that sultry gaze, so full of unspoken desire the night before, was blank, betraying no emotion after a flash of alarmed recognition. In such a crush, since neither of them reacted, no one noticed the sudden tension between them. Despite this, Miss Imogen moved a little closer to her betrothed, taking his arm as if sensitive to a change in his mood.

For the remainder of the reception, Martin could not have said who he spoke to or what he said, and as soon as he was able, he slipped away from the party unnoticed. On his way home, when he stopped off at a tavern for a tot of rum, all he could see in his mind’s eye was the shock in those speedwell-blue orbs. 


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.

Twitter: @e_thomas_author

Guestpost, Release Blitz

New Release Spotlight: Twelve Letters by Ellie Thomas

Thank you so much, lovely Nell, for having me as your guest again today! I’m Ellie Thomas, I write MM Historical Romance, and I’m here to chat about Twelve Letters, my new release for JMS Books.

Although my stories always have a historical setting, I try not to stick to a certain period so I don’t get stuck in a rut! With this in mind, so far this year I’ve set stories in Elizabethan and 20th-century London, and also 17th-century Oxfordshire.

But despite my best efforts, I have to admit that my writing comfort zone is the late 18th to early 19th century, around and about the Regency period. For some reason, (possibly reading far too much Georgette Heyer as a teenager) I feel at home there and, although I always need additional and specific research for each story, it somehow feels natural to place my characters in that specific late Georgian era.  If I can add a sprinkling of humour, that’s even better, and by adding an ensemble cast I’m in my element.

So when my story idea for JMS Books’ 12th Anniversary celebration ticked all those boxes, I was buzzing! In the plot for Twelve Letters, the characters and relationships of a group of men living in Regency London are intertwined, aided by all those letters passing between them. Although this is very much a romance, the catalyst for this comedy of errors is between two lifelong platonic friends.

At the start of the story, my main character, easygoing Jo Everett, is doing his best to stop the irascible Ben Harding from fighting a duel. If he wasn’t in such a rush to dissuade his friend from killing young Edward Stephens, then Jo would probably not have confused his notes written to his tailor and his impossibly spoiled current squeeze, Percy, and we would have had a very different story!

But as it is, Jo must placate Ben, and liaise with an apologetic Edward (who Jo correctly guesses has a huge crush on his friend). Then, once the letters mix-up comes to light, Jo has to knuckle down and sort out the confusion he has caused, with surprisingly romantic results. 


In Regency London, Jolyon Everett is determined to dissuade his irascible friend, Captain Ben Harding, from fighting a duel. However, before commencing on the pressing business of defusing Ben’s misplaced anger, Jo writes two letters, one to Percy Havilland, his very demanding paramour and the other to his tailor, Daniel Walters. With those trifles out of the way, he can concentrate on persuading Ben to reprieve young Edward Stephens, a newly qualified doctor, who Jo suspects has a serious crush on Ben.

But the best-laid plans can go awry, as do the letters and, as well as a furious Ben, Jo finds himself at the mercy of an outraged Percy and an amorous tailor. Can he convince Ben not to shoot Edward after all? Will he soothe Percy’s ruffled feathers? And might Jo realise that true love can be found under the most unexpected conditions?

Buy links:

JMS Books :: Amazon :: UBL


Jolyon arrived at the Piccadilly quarters of one of his closest friends, Captain Ben Harding. Despite the early hour, he was unsurprised to see that gentleman ready for the day, his long trousers and gleaming Hessians hiding his missing foot, the result of an injury at Badajoz, and wearing a ferocious expression. With his smouldering dark eyes and wayward curls, he could be compared to the notorious poet, Lord Byron, but Jolyon knew better than to voice that opinion to avoid being skewered by the poker within reach on the hearth. 

“I know why you’re here, Jo,” Ben said to him, waving him into the other armchair at the side of the fireplace while he poured coffee for them both, “and you won’t coax me to soften my resolve.”

“I think this has all been a misunderstanding,” Jo replied patiently, as though he hadn’t spent hours of the previous evening, or rather early morning, trying to persuade an irascible Ben to pardon the unfortunate young man who had caused him such dire offence.

“That damned stripling belittled me,” Ben said, with a glare as hot and black as the scalding coffee.

“On the contrary, I don’t think that was his intention,” Jo corrected him gently. “The lad is quite new to town ways and was deeply in his cups. We’ve all been there,” he shrugged forgivingly.

Ben merely snorted his disagreement, and Jo wouldn’t have been surprised to see steam emanating from his nose. He had the mental image of Ben as a bull, a ring through his nose, pawing the ground in rage, raising a cloud of dust. He quickly stifled a smile.

“And anyway,” he continued stoically, “as you have appointed me as your second, I don’t need to point out how serious the consequences could be. Frankly, for a man of your military experience, this is no less than a deliberate execution.”

At that, Ben harrumphed but did not yell at him, which Jo felt was progress. Even hampered by his artificial foot, Ben was a dead shot and could still competently hold a sword. The poor young doctor was no match for him. The problem is, thought Jolyon, Ben’s spoiling for a fight, and this feckless young fellow simply blundered into his sights. 

Since the siege at Badajoz, Ben’s attitude had become increasingly sour. Jo couldn’t be more sympathetic at his friend’s long months of recuperation, slowly learning to walk again, coming to terms with the fact he was no longer physically whole. Ben was fiercely proud, and only a few of his intimates knew what a harsh struggle this had been. 

The other loss, that of his Lieutenant, his love, his faithful companion who had perished during the siege, was even more unbearable. After two years of grieving, rather than coming to terms with his bereavement, Ben seemed increasingly embittered and permanently angry. As he sipped his coffee, Jo reflected that although he loved Ben like a brother, even the most commonplace remark could set him off in a rage these days. 

“It will take more than your blandishments to change my mind,” Ben said. Jo reckoned this was a retreat from thirsting for blood and spitting fire. He prepared to press his advantage when they were interrupted by Ben’s serving-man, Cribbins, another veteran of the Peninsula Wars.

“Excuse me, Captain. A letter has arrived for you by hand. I was told it was urgent,” he said, passing over the note to Ben before picking up the empty coffee pot.

As Cribbins left the room, Ben unfolded the letter, scanned it briefly then handed it over to Jo. “Is this your doing?” he asked suspiciously.

The note was written in crabbed handwriting eminently suitable for an aspiring doctor, but once deciphered, Jo saw with some relief that the meaning in the short paragraph was genuine enough. 

If I have to face the consequences of my actions, I will do so as a gentleman, even if it causes my demise. I am writing not to abjure myself from bodily harm, but I bitterly regret offending someone who deserves only the greatest admiration and respect and so, whatever may happen, I apologise unreservedly.

“Nothing to do with me,” Jo said blandly as Ben stared into the fire, mulling over the letter, looking more than ever like a brooding Romantic poet. Jo observed Ben’s countenance with a glimmer of optimism. With those simple, heartfelt words, the lad had inadvertently appealed to Ben’s strong sense of fair play. Couldn’t have put it better myself, Jo thought with some satisfaction.


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.

Twitter: @e_thomas_author

Guestpost, Release Blitz

New Release Spotlight: Keep it Down! by Ofelia Gränd

Today, I welcome my dear friend Ofelia back to the blog, but idk if I’ll allow her back if she keeps calling me out like this when she’s here for a visit 😁 What am I talking about? The angry laundry room notes she writes about! Been there, done that, both giving and receiving. Luckily, I have my own laundry room these days and a well-trained husband who knows how to behave in it, so there’s no need for angry notes anymore. 😁

But enough talk about Swedish passive-aggressiveness; here’s Ofelia.

Hello, everyone! Thank you, Nell, for letting me drop by again. I don’t know if you know, but JMS Books is turning twelve this month, and to celebrate, there will be a lot of stories that have something to do with twelve released. My contribution is Keep it Down!

I had so much fun writing this story. If you didn’t know, I have a thing for stationery. I’m not like Nell who is a fountain pen fanatic, but notebooks, bullet journals, washi tape, fine liners, highlighters, pens and pencils are drawn to me. Yup, I wrote that with a straight face. So when the story call came, and it said the stories should have a dozen of something – emails, flowers, or whatever we wanted – what popped up in my mind was Post-its.

I began spinning a story about two guys living in the apartments next to each other and there being an exchange of, to begin with, angry Post-it notes.

Swedes, as a general, avoid conflict. It’s in our DNA, but sometimes you need to put your foot down. Do you know how Swedes do it? We write angry notes.

It’s standard in Swedish apartment buildings that there is a laundry room in the basement where the tenants book their washing times in advance. There is so much anger in a laundry room. Did someone steal your time slot – write a note! Did someone fail to clean the filter in the dryer – write a note! If the laundry room is dirty – write a note!

Eason writes angry notes. Nate thinks he’s flirting.

So, twelve Post-its, the first ones are angry, but they turn a little less so as the story progresses. Nothing says love like Post-its, right? LOL


One day, Eason Wickham will push his next-door neighbor down the stairs. Nate Allen might be hot, but he’s the most annoying person Eason has ever met. He has no respect for the people living in the building, and night after night, he has a party. Whenever Eason rings his doorbell and tells him to keep it down, he flirts and tries to get Eason to come inside.

Calling the cops does not affect Nate’s behavior, and neither do Eason’s angry Post-It notes. But when Eason is hit by a car and fractures his leg, Nate sends his friends packing and makes sure Eason is okay. He cooks for him, shops for him, and does his laundry, but he’s still the most annoying person Eason has ever met. Right?

The cute Post-Its Nate leaves for him to find doesn’t mean he’s a different person, and while Eason longs for when Nate gets off work every day, it doesn’t mean they should be more than friends. Does it?

Contemporary Gay Romance: 14,878 words

Buy links

JMS Books :: Amazon ::


Grabbing his dirty clothes, detergent, fabric softener, a to-go cup with more coffee, and his phone, he headed down to the basement. He was gonna sit out in the morning sun and read while the washing machine did its work. Taking a deep breath, he smiled. He loved mornings off. There was nothing better.

When he neared the laundry room, he could hear the washing machines at work and froze. It was his time slot. He fiddled to get his phone out of his pocket—two minutes until it was his turn. Next, he double-checked the time booking board—it was his booking cylinder in the slot.

Yanking the door open, his feet slapped against the concrete floor when he hurried to the small room with the washing machines. There were two washing machines and one dryer and they all looked as if they belonged in an industrial building. In the first room, there was an ancient mangle machine he doubted anyone living in the building ever had used. He placed his to-go cup on the bench along the wall where you could fold your laundry, and next to it, he placed his other things.

Locating the power cord behind the first washing machine, he yanked it out of the socket. Then he did the same with the other machine. The silence following had him taking a deep breath. Now what?

He plugged in the cords again and the machines started blinking, the display telling him to restart the cycle. Ha! He would not. He had booked this time.

There was one of those wire baskets on wheels, and Eason pulled it close as he opened the door of the first washing machine. The clothes were sopping wet and a puddle of water soon formed on the floor. For fuck’s sake!

He opened the second door and pulled out the equally wet clothes from the machine. Placing the basket over the drain out in the room with the mangle, he then got to work with putting his laundry in the machines—one with light colors, one with dark.

Once the machines were working, he took a sip of coffee before jogging up to his apartment and writing a note in bold letters: Don’t steal laundry times! He contemplated adding a stronger word, an angry emoji, his name… in the end he added an FFS! at the top as heading. It made him feel better.

Jogging down to the basement again, he put the Post-it on the booking board and went to grab his coffee.

The sun was shining on the bench along the wall right outside the laundry room, and he could hear the machines working from there. Taking a deep breath, he tried to get back into the headspace he’d been in earlier, before he’d walked down to find some idiot having stolen his time. Closing his eyes, he enjoyed the caress of the morning sun, the birds tweeting, and the fragrance of summer. It wasn’t too hot yet, but the day was only beginning.

He opened the reading app on his phone, sipped on his coffee, and allowed the words to take him to another world. He didn’t know for how long he’d been sitting there when he heard the laundry room door bang shut. There was no window he could look in through, so he got to his feet, pocketed his phone, and hurried into the building.

Moments later, he opened the laundry room door only to find Nate standing there staring at the dripping wet clothes in the wire basket.

“Yours?” Of course, they were. Who else would steal someone else’s time slot? No one in the building was as disrespectful as Nate.

“You took them out?” He turned to look at Eason, his expression unreadable.

“Of course, I did. I booked this laundry time last week. I book this time every week. It’s my time.”

“Yeah, but my clothes were dirty.”

“My clothes are dirty too. You think you have more right to clean clothes than I do?” Eason tried hard to keep his voice leveled.

“No, but… I haven’t booked any time.”

Child, he was talking to an overgrown child. “Then you fucking should have! Stop acting like a kid, it’s off-putting. You’re a grown man, for fuck’s sake!”

Nate’s eyes widened, and a slow grin stretched his lips. “But you weren’t using the machines when I got here.”

“No, I came down when my time started.” He gestured at the still dripping clothes. “So please, take your things and go, because the laundry room is mine for another hour and a half.”

“But can’t I at least put the clothes in the dryer.” Nate gestured at the dryer. As if on cue the washing machines hit the spin cycle.

“No, I’ll need it soon. May I suggest walking your sweet ass out to the booking board and sliding your cylinder into one of the available holes out there?”

Nate grinned again. “Are you talking dirty to me, Eason? I didn’t think you were the kind, but I have to say it’s working.”

Eason glared. For a second, he feared he’d blush, but he managed to keep it at bay while holding on to the glare. Nate groaned but walked out to the booking board. “The one after yours is available.” His voice filled the entire basement, and Eason almost called back to keep it down. “And I see you’ve indulged in your fetish for Post-its.” Next, he mumbled something in a low voice Eason couldn’t catch.

Soon after Nate walked into the laundry room again. “Can I take you out for coffee?”

Eason raised his cup to show he already had coffee.

“I didn’t mean now. Later or some other day?”

“I… eh…” Eason frowned. “Why?”

“What do you mean why?”

“I don’t like you. Why would I want to have coffee with you?”

“Ouch.” Nate put a hand over his heart. “But I think you could like me if you only gave me a chance. And stopped calling the police every time I have people over.”

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

Blog :: Newsletter :: Facebook :: Goodreads :: Bookbub :: Pinterest

Release Blitz

New Release Spotlight: Held Close to My Heart by Ellie Thomas

Thank you again, lovely Nell, for having me as your guest today! I’m Ellie Thomas, and I write Gay Historical Romance. In this blog, I’m chatting about Held Close to my Heart, my story for the June Hugs or Kisses submissions call for JMS Books.

Apart from a brief trip back to Elizabethan London for the Spice of Life in February and a look at the 1930s Gay Scene  for London in the Rain published in April, most of my stories scheduled for this year are Regency Romances, and quite a few of them are set around London.

So for Held Close to my Heart, I thought I’d mix things up a bit and subsequently chose a seventeenth century setting in rural Oxfordshire. Also, as my stories are often about burgeoning romances between men who have only just met, I rang the changes in this one, featuring an established couple.

The story is mainly from the point of view of Luke, agonising over the future of his relationship with his childhood sweetheart, Jem. These two young men grew up together and were inseparable until their late teens. But as the story starts, they are now in their early twenties, with Jem spending much of the year in London at the decadent court of King Charles II (which was great fun to mention), leaving Luke in Oxfordshire to work his family farm. Luke feels they have grown apart and over the course of the summer while Jem is at home, Luke agonises jealously over his apparently unrequited love.

As well as checking small but important details about farming in Oxfordshire at that period, I also eagerly raided my bookshelves. It was pure self-indulgence to give Luke an interest in literature because that allowed me to quote from at least one of John Donne’s sublime poems. Also, it gave me the perfect excuse to re-read Graham Greene’s fascinating Rochester’s Monkey, a biography of John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester, the archetypal Restoration rake.

Rochester’s short life was a riotous comet, action packed, full of contradictions and very much a man of his tumultuous time. The son of a Royalist father and Parliamentary supporting mother, this dissonant background was reflected in his actions as he veered between condemning the corruption of the Royal Court and extreme overindulgence in drink and sex, while penning sharply witty and often utterly filthy poetry.

With the example of such a colourful Restoration figure in mind, I couldn’t help but allow my main characters to reflect some of Rochester’s qualities, albeit in a far less extreme way. Luke is my Puritan, serious, clever and thoughtful, the dutiful son who tills the land for the benefit of his family, with no one, not even Jem, guessing at the volcanic emotions beneath his stoic surface. In contrast, Jem is straightforward, sunny, fun loving, pleasure seeking and easy going, seeming perfectly suited to the self-indulgent atmosphere of the Restoration Royal Court.

I thoroughly enjoyed writing about these two opposites attract characters, not only to explore the differences between them but also to reveal, once miscommunications are resolved, that they might be two halves of a perfect and complete whole.


Since their mid-teens, Luke has been deeply in love with his childhood friend and neighbour, Jem, who spends most of the year at the decadent court of King Charles II in London. In the intervening years at home on Twelvetrees Farm in Oxfordshire, Luke has been occupied by helping his disabled father run their small estate, taking on the burden of work to support his family. Meanwhile, Jem has enjoyed all the worldly pleasures available to him at court.

When they are both twenty-one, and Jem returns to Westlecot Manor to spend the summer, Luke’s feelings for him reach boiling point. Luke can no longer cling to the belief he is important to Jem. He is overwhelmed by jealousy at the prospect of Jem’s dalliances with any visitors to the manor house, while aware that Jem is bewildered by his outbursts of disapproval.

Will Luke allow his jealousy to get the better of him? Might he dare to speak his deepest feelings? Or would that destroy their lifelong bond forever?

Gay Historical Erotic Romance // 11253 words

Buy Links

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I cursed myself for allowing my resentment to get the better of me. I should have accepted Jem as a bright and carelessly happy creature and be grateful he still sought my company despite being surrounded by a glamorous throng.

But somehow, as June became July, my sense of grievance gathered. I used the excuse that I was dog tired, working from dawn to dusk, my father’s worries for the coming year burdening me, as I pushed myself even harder in an attempt to allay his anxiety.

Weary as I was by late in the day, I couldn’t refuse to accompany my family to the evening diversions at the manor. It would have seemed churlish to our good friend Sir Harry, and, with so many men present used to casual customs, I was needed to help my mother keep a careful eye on my sisters or be a strong and willing arm to support my father when required.

Repressing a yawn while watching the dancers, I tried not to resent Jem, glowing with health, well-rested, the life and soul of the party, conviviality itself. For some reason, this particular night, he bore the brunt of my frustration, his vibrancy and happiness contrasting painfully with my cares and exhaustion. I cursed his leisure time, his immaculate appearance, his care-free existence. I was heart-sore with wanting him, sick of myself and my ever-present foul mood.

We were about to depart for home, leaving the merrymakers to continue dancing until the early hours. I had fetched my mother’s shawl for her and was walking through the vestibule by the library on my way to the entrance hall where my family made their farewells.

At that very moment, one of the court ladies emerged from behind the library door, flushed and giggling, in the act of retying the laces at the front of her bodice. One step behind her, inevitably, was Jem, an amused smile on his lips as though he had been well-entertained.

“Luke,” he called out to me in good spirits as the lady scurried off to her chamber to tidy herself before returning to the main party. “Are you enjoying yourself?”

The expected polite reply froze on my lips.

“Your father is a generous host as always. But I’d rather be in my bed, and resting up for the long day ahead,” I replied curtly.

“Oh, come now,” he said jovially, patting me on the arm, “after your labours, you should take the opportunity to make merry amongst us all.”

“Take your example, you mean?” I asked sharply.

Jem seemed to perceive my uncertain humour, and his smile faded. “Luke, what’s the matter? Did you not enjoy our party?”

His innocent query unleashed my pent-up bitterness.

“It’s all very well for you to say, without a concern in the world. You don’t have to rise as soon as it’s light, be an extra pair of hands for your father so that he doesn’t fret himself into an early grave or keep watch over your mother and sisters and worry about her portion and their dowries. Those weights are not on your shoulders.”

Jem tried to calm me with a quip, “But they are such powerful shoulders,” he said, running an appreciative hand over the sleeve of my sober jacket. Rather than soothing me, that seductive touch stung me to harsh speech.

“Not that you’d care or notice,” I continued bitterly. “You’re too busy chasing after any available skirt or pair of breeches.”

Jem looked taken aback by my outburst. “But Luke,” he started to protest mildly.

“Oh, away with you. Go frolic with whom you please,” I said roughly, and for the first time ever, I walked away from him without a second glance, let alone an ameliorating word.


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.

Twitter: @e_thomas_author