Guestpost

New Release Spotlight: Gentlemen’s Agreement by Ellie Thomas

Thank you so much, lovely Nell, for having me as your guest again today. I’m Ellie, I write MM Historical Romance novellas, and I’m here today to chat about my latest release, Gentlemen’s Agreement which is currently in the 20% off pre-release/new release sale at JMS Books until January 20th.

This is the fourth story in my Regency romp Twelve Letters series, with an ensemble cast and a London setting. The first story takes place during the spring Season of 1814 and introduces three potential couples. Jo Everett, my MC, a gentleman about town, falls in love with Daniel Walters, a Bond Street tailor. Jo’s best friend from schooldays, Captain Ben Harding, meets his match when he decides to woo rather than shoot Doctor Edward Stephens, after Edward’s first catastrophic attempt to admit his feelings for Ben.

The third couple, who get together properly in the second story, Queer Relations, set in the autumn of 1814, are Percy Havilland and Nathan Brooks. Nathan, a much-respected gentleman in his thirties with a sharp business brain, should have more sense than to fall for the lures of the divine Percy. Blond, bratty and physically gorgeous, Percy’s an appalling flirt with a vast number of notches on his bedpost.

In Queer Relations, a family scandal upturns Percy’s rarified existence, and his rocky relationship with Nathan deepens. Percy also finds he has true friends in the group who rally around to support him when he faces social rejection.

In the third story, Coming of Age set in late spring 1815, the three relationships are well-established, but the course of true love never runs smoothly. Edward and Ben’s relationship is strained by distance and family disapproval. Edward is now based in rural Wiltshire, assisting his father in the family medical practice. Although Ben, in the guise of a patient, is more than happy to abandon London for Edward, the older Mr Stephens worries that Edward is wasting his skills pandering to one wealthy invalid. Although Jo and Daniel are blissfully in love, their desire to live together is thwarted by the rigid class divide, almost driving them apart.

During books 2 and 3, Percy is preoccupied with looking after members of his family and relies on Nathan’s support and advice, even if he has to be persuaded to act on this wise guidance.

In Gentlemen’s Agreement, which takes place in September 1815, these issues of the heart come to a head for our couples. Will Ben and Edward, pining horribly for each other, get the chance to be physically closer? Will Jo and Daniel get their heart’s desire to share a home? And will Percy manage his increasing family responsibilities and still find time for Nathan?

When writing this fourth story about my couples, I thought it would be the finale. But I’m currently writing a spin-off story, The Misfit, out on April 1st, and have a short Twelve Letters story scribbled in a notepad, titled May Wedding, for a May release. So Gentlemen’s Agreement may be the final story in the main thread leaving our three couples happily settled, but my Regency boys will return!

The group of Regency men who meet each Thursday at The Golden Lion in London’s St James’ find their lives become increasingly intertwined during the early autumn of 1815. Now the long wars with France are finally over, Jo Everett and Captain Ben Harding are heavily involved with their charity to assist injured ex-servicemen, as well as encountering personal complications. 

Ben’s romantic interest Edward Stephens remains a hundred miles away in Wiltshire, and although Jo and his true love Daniel Walters are in the same city, they are no closer to fulfilling their dream of sharing a home. Reformed brat Percy Havilland has a deluge of relatives and increasingly convoluted family problems to deal with in his new Chelsea abode, distracting him from his older partner Nathan Brooks. 

As the gentlemen juggle their feelings and duties, Ben’s former commanding officer involves them in capturing a spy ring that has inveigled the most exclusive ranks of high society. Their remit is to help foil Napoleon’s restoration as Emperor of France before he reaches the remote island of St. Helena and permanent exile.

Can this motley group of Regency men attain their happy ever after with their chosen partners? And as the nefarious treachery plays out in the select ballrooms of Mayfair, might Percy save the day by flirting for England?

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Extract:

“Me?” Jo’s voice rose to a squeak. “Are you certain that the Colonel mentioned me by name? I’m bound to be the last person considered fit for subterfuge, as I’d go blundering around like a bull in a china shop. Doesn’t your lot have properly trained agents for this sort of venture?”

My lot, be damned! Leave me out of it,” Ben grinned, sitting in his armchair and sipping the brandy he felt he deserved to extinguish the lingering taste of Amontillado and spycraft. “If you reckon you have no talent for espionage, what about me? I always steered clear of that side of operations while in the field. Although,” he said more seriously. “I was grateful enough for any information received in advance of a skirmish.”

Jo’s cheerful expression grew momentarily serious. “If that brought you safely through battle, then it must have some merit. But, even if I wanted to assist, I can’t fathom how an ordinary fellow like me, with no military connections except for you, can be of any assistance.”

“You’ve hit on the Colonel’s point exactly. Now hostilities are over, he posited that the arena of conflict is no longer the battlefield but the evening party. If he or his informers suddenly started to flock to Mayfair, the likely suspects would reconvene somewhere safer and hard to reach. But since the drawing room is your natural habitat, you would rouse no suspicion. 

Jo gave a noncommittal grunt as Ben warmed to his theme. “I can’t imagine I’m the only junior officer he’s approached. I surmise the Colonel has an extensive brigade of ex-soldiers and their cronies amongst the clubs and sporting venues to cover all eventualities.”

As Jo looked slightly reassured at not being singled out alone, Ben continued, “I have to admit the Colonel is astute in his selection. You’re not only more than socially acceptable, but you’re eminently reliable. No, don’t contradict me, I’ve known you too long. You never ratted on me at school for hiding Granger’s riding crop when he threatened to use it on us younger boys, even when he swore he’d truss you up over an open fire if you didn’t confess.”

Jo did not seem completely reassured by this fulsome commendation as he said doubtfully, “If you put it that way, I’ll be glad to do my bit, naturally, but I can’t promise I’ll be much use.”

“I won’t leave you in the lurch. I might even attempt to attend a few more parties for a good cause. Heaven knows I get invited to enough of them. Colonel Graham said he’d be grateful for extra recruits at our discretion. Is there anyone trustworthy you can think of offhand?”

“Well,” Jo began. “There’s always Percy.”

Ben glared at Jo in disbelief. “Percy?” He remonstrated. “Unless he’s gazing at his reflection I wouldn’t grant him any abilities of observation.”

“You’d be surprised at Percy’s powers of perception,” Jo said thoughtfully. “A year ago I would have said you had a fair point, but now he’s…”

As Jo paused to find the correct phrase, Ben could have easily supplied several examples including, become more bearable, less of a pointless popinjay, begun to notice other people exist. He was about to interject witheringly with his favourite, no longer a completely selfish arse, when Jo added, “…mellowed.”

Ben grinned. “If you say so. I remain to be convinced, but I bow to your superior knowledge. I have to admit I wasn’t keen on imposing on you or any of our friends, but Colonel Graham’s dire warnings of conspiracies convinced me. We simply cannot risk Napoleon getting free again and raising another army.” He shuddered at the recollection of Napoleon’s daring escape from exile in Elba, landing near Cannes in the South of France and sweeping through the country unchecked until his narrow defeat at Waterloo.

“I was unable to take part in the battle, but I can assist now, with a little help from my friends.”

“I’ll be glad to join your civilian platoon and be on the lookout for those all-important names you mentioned. And, with your approval, I’ll mention it to Percy, on a need-to-know basis.”

“Then I can advise Colonel Graham that matters are in hand.” Ben raised his glass, “To Operation Ballroom!”

Bio:

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.

Website: https://elliethomasromance.wordpress.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/elliethomasauthor/
Twitter: @e_thomas_author
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19835510.Ellie_Thomas
Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/ellie-thomas

About Nell

Goodbye December

New Year’s Day
sunlight on every field
is beloved

Matsuo Basho

That was 2022, folks. There have been better years, don’t you agree? But the focus of this blog post is December, and overall, it wasn’t too bad. Some parts were even excellent. Shall we have a look?

The first weekend of December, we went to visit my daughter to set up the Christmas tree. This year we had help: my very bossy and enthusiastic grandbaby did most of the work…as you probably can see on this detail image from the tree. Usually, we try to space out the decorations a bit more, but little W had other ideas. It was so much fun to decorate the tree with her. 😍

One early morning on my way to the office. I loved the color palette. I didn’t love the icy winds as much.

We were hit by a cold spell. For a few days, the temperatures plunged to -15C (5F) and I almost froze my behind off, but we lit both fires to keep warm. It was very cozy, but I was happy when it got warmer.

We had tickets to a concert one Friday evening. It was a Swedish synth-pop band playing, Adolphson & Falk, who were on tour celebrating the 40th anniversary of one of their most popular albums. It was a fantastic concert and we were energized and happy when it was over.

Only a couple days before we were meant to set off on our Christmas travels, we had car troubles and we had to leave it in the shop. The problem was more advanced than they’d first anticipated and it took longer than expected, so we had to wander around Malmö for hours and hours, waiting for the damned thing to be finished. In the end, they couldn’t fix it the same day, and since we were leaving early in the morning the next day, we got a rental. It was a foggy and dreary day and we had lots of stuff we were going to do that day in preparation for Christmas that we never got around to because of this hassle.

Let’s go to a bookstore, I said to my husband as we waited for the shop to get in touch with us about the car. I have new bookshelves to fill, after all. But Swedish bookstores are kind of boring if you don’t want to read Swedish or translated books, so I didn’t find a single thing I wanted to buy. Instead, I sat on a bench outside the store, muttering about how boring it was while reading a Christmassy story on my phone.

But in the end we left home as planned and arrived at my daughter’s house on schedule, where we kicked off the Grand Christmas Tour. On the morning of Christmas Eve (Swedes celebrate on Eve), my granddaughter discovered gifts underneath the tree that hadn’t been there when she went into the shower earlier, but that suddenly appeared at the same time as Gramma and Grampa 😍

After we’d opened presents and had breakfast, we left to have Christmas lunch with Little W’s other grandparents. Then we spent Christmas Day with my in-laws, and Boxing Day with my parents and brother.

On the 27th, the tour continued to a friend’s house where we were treated to lots of lovely food and conversations. Our friends have a huge great Dane who loved me (of course, he did; I’m allergic and can’t cuddle, so all dogs work hard to seek my attention) and guarded me and wanted to sit on my lap. He’s a beauty.

After that, we could finally go back home to some peace and quiet and a calm morning with tea and a book. I say “some” peace and quiet, because my daughter and her family went with us, and the house is never quiet with a toddler, right? 😍

New Year’s Eve was a lovely family affair, with an outdoors hot dog lunch, a beautiful New Year’s cake, a wonderful dinner, a New Year’s quiz (that I won!!), and cuddling with Little W by the kitchen fire. This moment right here in this picture, was the best moment of all of 2022.


Tell me something you did in December!

And here’s to a happy new year. May 2023 be better than the previous few years, amirite?

Read Around the Rainbow Web Ring

Read Around the Rainbow: Do you have a writing plan for next year?

Read Around the Rainbow is a blogging project featuring yours truly, A.L. Lester, Ofelia Gränd, Holly Day, K.L. Noone, Amy Spector, Addison Albright, Fiona Glass, Lilian Francis, and Ellie Thomas. Every month, we pick a topic and then we blog about it. Check the other blog posts by clicking the RAtR widget in the sidebar, or the links at the bottom of this post.


The RAtR topic for December is Do you have a writing plan for next year?

I’m not the kind of writer who makes detailed writing plans. I know most other authors have detailed plans, for example series writers have the next installments planned out, or in general, authors who are more organized than I am (…it isn’t hard, I promise 😁). But I’m a hardcore pantser (something I’ve written about before, e.g. in last month’s RAtR post) and that applies to my entire writing career and not just my writing style.

Or maybe that’s not exactly true. There are a few exceptions, all of them tied to submission calls put out by my publisher. Towards the end of the year, they usually post a whole bunch of sub calls for the coming year, and I read through them and get inspired by some (or all). I write down the ones that caught my attention in my bujo and if inspiration strikes, I write a story and submit something that will fit. So for 2023, I’ve signed up for an in-house thing in December, and I’m also eyeing the Second Chances one and the Silver Foxes one on this list.

Not everything I write is for a submission call; sometimes inspiration strikes and I write and submit whatever it is, but that’s the pantser part of my writer personality. It’s mostly spur-of-the-moment inspiration, and it’s not planned. I let my inspiration take me wherever it wants to go, and I refuse to plan ahead.

But. Here’s the thing.

Since I started my Day Job almost two years ago, I’ve had a very hard time balancing a full-time job with life and a writing career. For the first time ever, I’ve missed a deadline and have been forced to pull out of a project I’d signed up for. My lovely publisher agreed to extend my deadline so I had time to finish my story (After Marcus), but I’m someone who hates being late so I felt awful. I still feel awful thinking of it now.

So my goal for 2023, my writing plan, is to try to find a work-life balance. I need to figure out a way to be able to both work full time and write. Maybe not the most exciting plan, but it’s paramount. If I can’t make it work, the alternative I see is that I quit writing, but that’s not really an alternative, is it?

So. Wish me luck. And if you have any insights, please tell me in the comments.


Don’t forget to check out my fellow RatR authors to see what their writing plans for next year are.

Amy Spector :: Ellie Thomas :: A.L. Lester :: Holly Day :: Ofelia Gränd :: Addison Albright :: K.L. Noone

Guestpost

New Release Spotlight: A Christmas Engagement by Ellie Thomas

Thank you so much Nell for having me as your guest blogger today. I’m Ellie Thomas, I write MM Historical Romance and I’m dropping by today to chat about my new release for JMS Books’ Naughty or Nice Christmas call A Christmas Engagement.

When I chose Nice as my theme for this Regency-set Christmas story, I wanted that quality to embody one of my two main characters so that quality would shine through when all looked lost. Of course to engineer that, I had to cause a major crisis, so at the beginning of my story, my main characters Charles and Avery (my Mr Nice) are an established couple who have recently become estranged.

Although Charles is responsible for their separation, I didn’t want to make him undeserving of Avery’s goodness. Charles is off kilter and out of is depth due to the sudden illness and passing of his father. This loss causes for him (at least temporarily) to reject his longstanding partner.

As a man in his mid-twenties, Charles not only has full responsibility for running a working farm and estate but also the practical welfare of his mother and younger siblings to consider. So his sensation of being overwhelmed is understandable. He reasons that now he is the head of the family, he should marry to consolidate the family’s lasting security. This would be reasonable enough if not for the fact he’s gay and has been in an exclusive relationship with Avery since university.

Although this may seem drastic to modern sensibilities, in less enlightened times, some people from the LGBT community did feel forced to compromise to society’s norms and to marry women, which must have been a very sad and difficult situation for everyone concerned. So Charles’ dilemma (although self-imposed) is far from unique.

As this is a romance, I wanted it to be clear that the only person putting pressure on Charles is himself. His mother is astounded by this sudden decision, and puzzled by the fact that Charles intends to travel to the popular resort Bath immediately to select himself a bride at haste, which explains the semi-ironic story title.

When Charles arrives in Bath, complete with his mental clipboard to check list attributes of suitable ladies (although he seems fairly terrified of most of them) inevitably, fate intervenes to have Avery visit the city with his wise Great Aunt Clarissa, who has quietly supported her great-nephew’s relationship with Charles since the very start.

The story is from Charles’ point of view, but I hope Avery comes across in all his unfailing kindness, never losing his ultimate faith in Charles. Rather than being bitter or angry, he sees Charles’ uncharacteristic behaviour as lost and misguided because he understands Charles so completely. Avery’s tactic is to wait for Charles to see reason.

Even as I was writing this, I was urging Charles to come to his senses before he did something irrevocably stupid. There was always the hope that the temptation of Avery, in all his glorious niceness, would win the day, especially since he never really lost Charles’ affection for these two to win their Happy Ever After. 

In 1805, Charles Denham’s comfortable life in Regency London with his long-term partner Avery Mallory is disrupted by the sudden death of his father. As the heir to a modest country estate in Gloucestershire, Charles returns home to care for his bereaved family and take up his new responsibilities.

Overwhelmed with grief, rather than leaning on Avery, Charles rejects his love and becomes fixed on the idea of taking a wife for reasons of family duty alone. With this plan in mind, during early winter, he travels the short distance to Bath only to find that Avery and his family have already arrived at the resort.

Will Charles follow through with his ill-conceived plan for a hasty betrothal by Christmas? Or will he come to his senses and resume his relationship with the nicest man in England?

JMS Books :: Amazon :: Books2Read :: Goodreads :: Bookbub

Extract:

Charles paused before saying clearly and deliberately. “With Papa’s passing, it seemed expedient to start to look out for a wife.”

He heard Avery’s sharp intake of breath as Aunt Clarissa looked at him shrewdly. Her bright, old eyes, darker and sharper than Avery’s, seemed to pierce his soul. “You have come to the right place,” she remarked. “Far better to make your selection at your convenience in Bath than to be bothered with the fancy folderols of the London Season. I might be biased as I have fond memories of the place. The town will never be the same as in the heyday of Beau Nash, but it still passes muster, although I say it myself. And you should find a wide array of suitable ladies now you are resolved on matrimony.”

Charles had the sneaking suspicion that Aunt Clarissa was laughing at him and was spared further embarrassment by the timely approach of Mr. King. 

“Ladies,” Mr. King uttered, addressing the group. “Might I interest you in a game of Cribbage at the Card Room tonight? The tables are filling up quickly, and I’d be glad to put your names down. From experience, these events prove very popular and can be over-subscribed.”

That popularity was confirmed by eager fluttering from the group of ladies, mercifully distracting Aunt Clarissa’s attention away from Charles. 

Charles’ dearest hope was for Avery to have melted away into the surrounding throng during the conversation. Having only begun to establish himself in the confines of Bath’s society, Charles could not afford to cause gossip or general disgust by delivering a cut direct. And in truth, he flinched from being unnecessarily and publicly cruel. None of this was Avery’s doing. He must simply accept that Charles’ priorities had altered with his father’s death.

But when Charles glanced around, Avery was still standing there. He looked a trifle pale at Charles’ announcement but managed a smile as he said conversationally, “You must wonder why we are here. I’m sure you remember all those letters from my aunts pressing Aunt Clarissa for suggestions for her seventieth birthday celebrations?”

Charles nodded as he remembered their shared London rooms in Rupert Street, Avery’s face alight with laughter as he passed Aunt Clarissa’s typically scathing letter over the breakfast table for Charles’ amusement, in a gesture of everyday intimacy.

“Well, Aunt Clarissa refused to be contained by any sedate or convenient notions and decided to drag us all to Bath for the occasion, complete with a hired house on The Circus. According to her, since she’s in her dotage, she won’t get another opportunity to relive her past successes or criticise the current fashions and assembled company at the top of her voice. As you can imagine, both my aunts are thrilled.” Avery’s mobile mouth quirked with humour, and Charles was almost tempted to smile with him until Avery asked, “What does your mother think of your resolution to marry?”

Avery was still smiling, but his eyes seemed almost as shrewd and watchful as Great Aunt Clarissa’s. Charles was only glad that the necessarily loud interchange between the Master of Ceremonies and a lady of the party who was hard of hearing masked the personal turn of the conversation.

“She is delighted I’m assuming my obligations in seeking to establish our family connections.”

“Is she?” Avery sounded mildly surprised. “I’d have thought she would be far more concerned about your happiness and state of mind.”

“I am happy,” Charles retorted.

“If you say so,” Avery smiled agreeable before asking casually, “and since when have you been attracted to women?”

Charles bristled, “What’s that got to do with anything?”

“Everything, I’d say if you seek marital accord.” Avery had the gall to look faintly amused as Charles cast around for a suitable retort, stumbling over half-remembered phrases he had recited to his mama. As Charles reeled off homilies on duty and family responsibility, Avery’s smile faded. But rather than displaying the outrage or bitterness of a repulsed lover, Avery’s expression was full of compassion, tinged with sadness. 

Charles completed his speech, sounding pompous and prematurely middle-aged even to his own ears. Avery opened his mouth to impart an urgent observation before hesitating. Instead, he patted Charles on the arm, saying, “I’m sure you know best, Charles,” in a manner that implied no confidence whatsoever in his former lover’s judgement.

Bio:

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.

Website: https://elliethomasromance.wordpress.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/elliethomasauthor/
Twitter: @e_thomas_author
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19835510.Ellie_Thomas
Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/ellie-thomas

Nell Iris' Christmas

Merry Christmas

I just wanted to pop in and wish you all a Merry Christmas (if you celebrate) or a happy Saturday (if you don’t). In Sweden, our main celebration is today, on Christmas Eve, so as you’re reading this, I’m either stuffing my face full of food (Christmas ham!), drinking glögg (mulled wine), watching Donald Duck (it’s a Swedish thing), or playing with my darling grandbaby.

And I thought, maybe you wanna read a book full of Swedish Christmas traditions today on Christmas Eve? All of the things I mentioned above (except my grandbaby!) is in this book and it’s cute, borderline instalovey, and full of mulled wine. What more could you want? 😀

“I have a Santa emergency and I desperately need your help.”

Sigge isn’t exactly a grinch when it comes to Christmas, but he’s not a fan of the holiday either. So when his new neighbor Kristian shows up in a panic, begging him to help by donning a Santa suit, Sigge’s gut reaction is to say no. But Kristian is cute and funny, rendering Sigge powerless against his heartfelt plea — especially after a promise of spending more time together — so he agrees.

The instant connection deepens as they share mulled wine and conversation as easy as breathing. But is it just holiday magic swirling in the air, or is it something real? Something that will last into the new year and beyond?

M/M contemporary / 13 816 words

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