Posts Tagged ‘historical romance’

It’s not long to wait until Rag and Bone is out – a full length novel set in the Magpie world and featuring brand new protagonists but as a lovely little taster, here is A Queer Trade, introducing Ned and Crispin and a brand new type of magic.


Title: A Queer Trade

Author:K J Charles

Pages: approx 50

Available: NOW


Apprentice magician Crispin Tredarloe returns to London to find his master dead, and his papers sold. Papers with secrets that could spell death. Crispin needs to get them back before anyone finds out what he’s been doing, or what his magic can do.

Crispin tracks his quarry down to waste paper dealer Ned Hall. He needs help, and Ned can’t resist Crispin’s pleading—and appealing—looks. But can the waste-man and the magician prevent a disaster and save Crispin’s skin?

A 16,000 word story set in the Charm of Magpies world, and a prequel to the novel Rag and Bone (March 2016). This story was first published as part of the Charmed & Dangerous anthology.


Ned Hall, waste-man, was not enjoying his day.

He was generally happy in his work. It wasn’t a job for the weak, heaving waste down narrow stairs and hauling the handcart over cobbled or rutted streets, and after a while you could never get the paper dust out of your skin, but he liked it. Liked dickering over ha’pennies, liked seeing the odds and sods that came up in the piles, and mostly liked being his own master, a very long way from the docks.
It was a good life. A queer trade, to be sure, selling on psalters to wrap pork in, or dead men’s love letters to go round an ounce of baccy, but it suited him. So it was impossible to say just what was wrong now.
Ned pulled at his ear, scratched inside it with a finger. He’d done that so often it was beginning to feel sore, but he couldn’t stop, because he couldn’t shift the feeling that he could almost, not quite, but maybe, if he could just turn his head the right way, hear something.
Except there was nothing there to hear, and it was driving him to Bedlam.
He clapped both palms to his ears, gave them a rub so vigorous that he felt they might come clean off, and was engaged in that undignified act when a knock came from behind.
“Mr. Neddy Hall?”
Ned turned to look, and blinked. A gentleman, of sorts, stood in the doorway, in a tentative sort of way, like he was trying not to be there. A flash sort, dandyish clothes. Slim, no great height, or age either: about twenty, Ned reckoned. A narrow, nervy sort of face, and a head of hay-coloured hair, that yellow-brown shade.
“That’s Ned, if you don’t mind. Something I can do for you, sir?” The ‘sir’ was for the clothes, mostly: there was something about the way the visitor stood, hip tilted and weight on one foot, that didn’t say authority.
“Um, I’m trying to find some waste paper. Can you help me?”
Ned spread his arms wide, an invitation to look around that the young man took up, reddening as he grasped the silent point. The small room was paper from floor to ceiling, great piles and drifts of it, mounds of the stuff, white and yellow and browning, plain and printed and scrawled upon, a few bundles bound with string, most loose.
“You want waste, I’ve got it. How many hundredweight?”
“I mean, some specific paper,” the young man said, a little reproachfully, as if Ned should have known that. He had a trace of one of those country accents that sounded like a stage pirate talking, so you could hear the r in ‘paper’. “My ma— My, uh, teacher died and the house was cleared while I was away. They sold a lot of papers they shouldn’t have and they wouldn’t tell me where they sold them, and I have to find them. It’s terribly important.”
His eyes were wide and pleading, Ned observed, but the greater part of his brain was taken up with the observation that the toff talked like a molly. Not like the Cleveland Street boys, or anything. Just, a light voice that danced a bit and put a lot of stress on a few words, the sort of voice that made you think, I know your sort.
And the molly knew he knew, because the colour swept across his pale skin. “Can you help?” he asked, and there was an obvious effort to go a bit more manly there.
“What name?” Ned asked.
“Uh, Tredarloe. Crispin Tredarloe.” The young man did something Ned would never have predicted: he stepped forward and put out his hand. “Pleased to meet you, Mr. Hall.”

Buy Links:

Amazon UK | Kobo | Amazon US | Smashwords | ARe

Author Bio:

I’m a writer of romance, mostly m/m, often historical or fantasy or both.

I’m also a freelance editor, and I blog about writing and editing at kjcharleswriter.com.

I live in London, UK, with two kids, a tolerant husband and an even more tolerant cat.

Follow me on Twitter @kj_charles or friend me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/kj.charles.9

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For those of you who, like me, have been gagging for the next episode in the five part Dominus series, Part Two, Games of Rome is available today. For those of you who haven’t tried it yet, but enjoy a highly spiced alternate history setting with masses of incident, brutality and plot, why not give it a go?

Cover by Fiona Fu


In this sequel to Dominus, Gaius Fabius Rufus, the victorious general of Rome’s brutal Dacian Wars, finds his loyalties and his affections pulled in different directions. Should he return to Rome and secure his claim to the imperial throne, or remain at his seaside villa and protect his pleasure slave, the fierce Dacian prince, Allerix? Retaliation for the murder of his beloved friend beckons him home, but his desire for justice could put both him and Allerix in mortal danger. As Gaius’s deceptions multiply, another tragedy strikes. Will the Lion of the Lucky IV Legion be forced to sacrifice his besotted heart to achieve his aspirations for supreme power?

Every moment since Allerix’s violent capture has tested the young prince’s fortitude and cunning. If he can kill the triumphant emperor who decimated his Dacian nation, revenge and immortality will be his glorious, everlasting rewards. But to realize his scheme for vengeance, he must deceive the Roman master whose body he lusts, the handsome, arrogant man whom he has grown to adore and admire. Can two former enemies—the conqueror and the conquered—find trust and true love, or are the consequences of war destined to tear them apart? Can Gaius and Allerix survive the perilous games of Rome?

Dominus is a plot-packed erotic m/m fantasy set in ancient Rome during the reign of Emperor Trajan (AD 98-117). Games of Rome is the second book in this alternative history saga—a tumultuous journey of forbidden love, humor, sex, friendship, political intrigue, deception, and murder.

Buy Links:
Amazon UK | Amazon US | Smashwords

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A King Undone
by Cooper Davis

Noble Pleasures, Book 1

Sometimes you have to risk everything, to follow your heart…

In a world where gentlemen openly court and marry fellow noblemen, the threat of scandal still lurks behind every velvet drape for kings and princes. Such has been the fate for King Arend Tollemach, forced to sacrifice his heart on the altar of regal duty.

Now that his wife is dead and his royal obligations are at an end, he’s ready to take an unthinkable risk. King Arend seeks a concubine from Temple Sapphor, a secretive, gated world where he will finally shed his virginity—as least as it pertains to making love to a man.

Julian never thought he’d spend ten years on the temple shelf, passed over again and again. Just when he despairs of ever finding placement in a nobleman’s bed, Arend walks into the temple. A lonely eyed, beautiful king who could easily steal his heart.

Arend discovers he has no problem opening his bed to the exquisite concubine. The problem lies in finding the key to his long-shuttered heart.

Warning: Contains a beautiful, virgin king desperate to bed another man, a concubine who fantasizes about being claimed and revered by a strong monarch, and a sea of scandal set against a sensual, palatial backdrop.

Buy Links:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/King-Undone-Noble-Pleasures-ebook/dp/B00MX2DQ2C

BN: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-king-undone-cooper-davis/1120185734?ean=9781619224278

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/a-king-undone

Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/do/book/a-king-undone/id911401338?l=en&mt=11

Google: http://books.google.com/books/about/A_King_Undone.html?id=mahUBAAAQBAJ


Cooper Davis first discovered the allure of m/m storytelling when she watched My Beautiful Launderette with a college roommate. Later, her passion for stories about men falling in love and finding their HEA together was stoked by online slash fiction. After years as an avid fan of m/m and slash, Cooper finally decided to try her hand at penning her own stories about same-gender romance and love.

A voracious reader across all subgenres of m/m fiction, Cooper is particularly fond of courtships set against the breathless backdrop of scandal and intrigue found in period drawing rooms. She is thrilled that her first historically themed m/m romance series debuts this December with A KING UNDONE (Samhain).


Contact info: http://cooperdavisbooks.com/contact/
Website: http://cooperdavisbooks.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/CooperDavisBook
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cooperdavisbooks

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A Taste of Copper by Elin Gregory

Your master has the field for today, but his name, whatever it might be, is without honour.

Olivier the squire worships the Black Knight and takes a fierce joy in his prowess as he defends a bridge against all comers. Olivier only wishes that his master loved him as much in return instead of treating him as a servant and occasional plaything.

Then word comes that the King desires to cross the bridge. With an army approaching, a bright eyed archer enticing Olivier to desert and the first cracks beginning to show in the Black Knight’s gruff demeanour, Olivier is left wondering if his honour is worth more than a chance for happiness.

Word count: 25,900
Cover Art: Meredith Russell
Editor: Erika Orrick
Copyright: Elin Gregory


Laden with a steaming bucket in one hand and a platter bearing bread, sausage and a jug of wine in the other, Olivier shouldered aside the entrance flap to enter the pavilion. Sir Maheris was still armoured but had removed his helmet and pushed back his coif. His short cap of black hair had spiked up with sweat, and deep lines bracketed his full lips. Maheris had fierce black eyes beneath frowning brows, but Olivier had seen his scowl ease into a gentle smile when he slept. Olivier wondered what dream could put that soft vulnerability on Maheris’s face and prayed one day to see such a smile turned towards him.

But now Sir Maheris was glowering. “You were delayed? Perhaps the horses ran off? Undo these buckles.”

“Sir?” Olivier put his burdens down and hurried to his side. “Did I fasten them too tightly? Your pardon, sir, I…”

Maheris grunted and raised his left hand, ungauntleted now, to show it bright with blood. “A lucky stroke,” he said. “Reihershof’s point caught a chink in my brassard.”

Olivier’s heart thumped fast as he assisted Maheris. Blood was still dripping, the sharp scent of it mingling with the stench of iron and old sweat from the padded doublet. He set the pieces of armour aside to clean later and eased the doublet over Maheris’s head. The left sleeve of it weighed heavy with blood, and the shirt beneath was sodden. Olivier bit his lip as he eased the clotted fabric away and saw the bright trickle that followed.

“That will do,” Maheris said once he was bare to the waist. His heavy shoulders and chest gleamed with sweat, his skin goosefleshing in the chill air, but he waved Olivier away when he brought Maheris a towel. “Time for that when the wound is sealed,” he said as he took a seat. “You know what to do.”

The wound in his bicep gaped like a hot, wet mouth.

“Is it clean?” Maheris demanded. “Get on with it, boy.”

Read the whole of the first chapter here.

Buy Links

Many thanks to Love Lane Books for organising a Rafflecopter giveaway with a very generous prize. Check it out!

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It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these so it was quite nice to be tagged by Sarah Granger, author of A Minor Inconvenience, one of my favourite historicals. You really need to check it out, okay?

I have four questions to answer about my writing process, which is quite hard because my process changes all the time. On this occasion I’m going to talk about a big partially completed, and currently stalled, project called A Fierce Reaping, about a troop of Romano-British cavalry fighting the Anglo=Saxons in post-Arthurian Northumbria and Yorkshire.

What am I working on?

A Fierce Reaping is based on Y Gododdin, a piece of poetry written in Old Welsh in about the 9th century though it deals with events that occurred at the beginning of the 7th century. I’ve got about 60,000 words of it so far, am halfway through and have the most difficult section – needing to kill off a lot of people – still to write. I wrote the first 50k words during Nanowrimo in 2011 and have added to it sporadically since but decided that it might be better to finish a few short projects rather than devote the couple of years I’d need to getting AFR finished and redrafted.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Less romance. Romance is not a genre I ever got into – I just upped the violence levels in the ‘bloke books’ I used to read. Westerns, fantasies, Age of Sail books, military thrillers, police procedural – all focussed on the action rather than the development of a loving relationship. I’ve nothing against romance, in fact I quite enjoy reading someone else’s, but in my writing process I get distracted from relationship angst and introduce the action adventure elements. In fact I’m usually MORE excited about the plot than I am about the romance when I’m reading too. I also don’t write much sex. I use it as a motivator, a reward, or a way of upping the stakes for the characters. BFFs get distressed when the other is in dangers; lovers get distraught! A Fierce Reaping should end up at about 100k words when I’m done and it will have 3 sex scenes. It doesn’t need any more to make the plot points I want to make and since I really don’t enjoy writing sex scenes – I mean I REALLY don’t enjoy writing them and the insistence of the M/M reading community that books with no explicit rumpy pumpy are a waste of pixels hurts my soul – I see no point in adding any more.

Why do I write what I do?

Firstly, choice. More choice in LGBTTQ fiction HAS to be a good thing. Yes I know that contemporary erotic fiction is the best seller but I’m petty certain that there are enough people out there who would enjoy the gay equivalent of Sharpe or Hornblower or James Bond – plot driven historical or contemporary stories with gay protagonists and maybe a little bit of sexiness – to make them worth writing. I don’t expect to sell well but I think it’s very important that the choice is there whether people buy it or not.
Secondly the shameful erasure from history of the tremendous contribution made to civilisation by LGBTQ people. Too often lives have been censored or bowdlerised to remove any reference to alternative sexuality. In most cases we’ll never know the true stories but we can make it clear in fiction that LGBTQ people were there and worked as hard, were as heroic and as competent as anyone else, but without the solace of being able to acknowledge their loved ones.

How does my writing process work?

Frankly it takes a while. I’ve never been one of those people who can read a prompt and a month later have a perfectly constructed first draft ready to polish for submission. In the case of A Fierce Reaping, it’s a story with which I have been familiar since reading it in translation 40 years ago. The actual poem is a series of death songs for warriors killed on a raid deep into territory held by the Saxons, so hardly a light and fluffy story but one of how pride and ambition lead an army to disaster. Atrocities occur on both sides and the climax is a bloody and tragic one.S o how to wring a happy ending from all that death and despair? I read the text again and figured out a way it might be done in about 2010. Then I wrote about Greeks and pirates instead and didn’t pitch into the Romano-Celtic period until late 2011. I read all the different translations of Y Gododdin I could get my hands on, refamiliarised myself with arms and armour, growing seasons, probable diets, the uber-macho death wish mindset of a culture that deemed it a grand and glorious thing to die in battle. Then it was November and I bashed out 53k words during a daily hour in the morning and another just before bedtime. They aren’t good words but they are there and I added another 10k over 2012 while I got a novella, a short story and a novel published. I was looking forward to carrying on with A Fierce Reaping in 2013 then I had to adjust my daily routines to fit around a newly retired husband and writing went out of the window.
Once a story has lost its impetus it’s very hard to get gong on it again. I find it very easy to go back and revise then find I’m doing a complete rewrite, and that’s a lot to commit to when only managing about 500 words a week, sometimes less. This spring I got my hands on a different translation of the base text that turned some of my ideas on their heads and had to do some replotting. I think the new version will hold water against all 4 translations and I’m looking forward to getting on with it again, but when it will be finished I have no idea. If it’s finished, when it will be published I have even less idea – I don’t know of ANY publisher now that Cheyenne is closing its doors who might be prepared to handle something like this.

For the moment I’m concentrating on the second draft of Eleventh Hour, set in 1920s London, and am still waiting to hear whether Riptide wants A Taste of Copper, a story with an erstaz medieval setting loosely based on the Black Knight sketch from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I keep promising myself that I’ll finish AFR when I have found a home for those, but I could say that about any of the half dozen novels on my had drive, some of which are almost complete. One thing at a time is a lesson I have only recently learned.

Since I have to pass on the baton to other writers I asked for volunteers and Mia Kerrick, Elliott Mackle and R. S. Charles responded. They will be posting their writing process pieces on Monday, May 19th. Links later.

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Sometimes my Saturday recommendations are books that I picked up on a whim. Books that I read with a growing sense that I was seeing something wonderful and special unfolding before my eyes. Sometimes they are books written by well loved authors so I am fairly certain that I am going to like what I see. Sometimes they are books with which I’ve had a bit more to do, yet are still eagerly awaited.

This week’s book is one of the latter. I saw it at first draft stage and was blown away with it, and I can assure you that the final version is even better.

The Reluctant Berserker by Alex Beecroft explores a period of history for which the records are regrettably murky, but the art and the poetry are sublime. The centuries between the departure of the Romans and the flowering of the great Saxon kingdoms are called the Dark Ages and to modern eyes appear to be a time of savagery as the people teetered in the balance between Christianity and paganism yet there was enormous grace, sensibility and faith as well.

That spirituality is important to the story is evident from the opening line which could have been taken directly from Beowulf or the Dream of the Rood. In hearing a breeze bourn run of harp notes Wulfstan is doomed, although it takes him a while to realise it. There’s this gorgeous sense of melancholic inevitability about it all – man is whirled by his fate as a leaf on a stream – which may not sit well with a modern reader raised to believe that anything is possible if you put your mind to it but was part of life to our Anglo-Saxon ancestors. Another thing that may not sit well with modern readers is the prescriptive attitudes to sex but this is a serious historical novel rather than an historical fantasy and, as such, reflects the attitudes of the time.

Wulfstan is a typical warrior, massive, agile, aggressive, the elite of his band. He is valued by his lord for his ability and feared by his fellows for his sudden uncontrollable rages. His closest friend is Cenred, the only man who can safely approach him when in the grip of his ire. He takes pride in his status and only he knows his darkest secret, his shameful urge to be more ‘womanly’. This is a secret that can never be told. For Wulfstan to desire other men is acceptable – women are in short supply and prone to die in childbirth so taking a male slave or servant lad is a good substitute – but Wulfstan MUST be the one to do the taking. Any suspicion that he desires to be the one taken would ruin him. Naturally the suspicion arises, with tragedy as a consequence and Wulfstan is left with a terrible choice to make.

On the other hand, the beautiful, delicate scop [itinerant musician and poet], Leofgar, appears to be everything a man might desire as a yielding and compliant bed mate but is actually an assertive and pride-filled top. A scop is both despised and feared. He is dependent on charity for bed and board but if angered can make a rhyme to flay the bones from a man’s pride. To humble himself to another man’s desire is beyond Leofgar. Naturally he is placed in a position where he either has to bow or be broken.

How both men deal with their choices, their burdens, their persecutors, makes up the rest of a book filled with delicious details and fancies expressed in the flowing language of a scop. Other beauties are period appropriate yet strong female characters following their own minds, the innocent faith in the goodness of Mother Church, the acceptance of the power of the unseen world over man’s fate and that the villains, even the most cruel and abominable villains by modern standards, are obeying the dictates of their own social status or natures. I really admire that.

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Beloved Pilgrim
by Kit Moss

A Harmony Ink Press Young Adult Title

2nd Edition

At the time of the earliest Crusades, young noblewoman Elisabeth longs to be the person she’s always known is hidden inside. When her twin brother perishes from a fever, Elisabeth takes his identity to live as a man, a knight. As Elias, he travels to the Holy Land, to adventure, passion, death, and a lesson that honor is sometimes found in unexpected places.

Elias must pass among knights and soldiers, survive furious battle, deadly privations, moral uncertainty, and treachery if he’ll have any chance of returning to his newfound love in the magnificent city of Constantinople.

Available now from Dreamspinner’s Harmony Ink range and from the usual ebook retailers.

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As usual I’ve lost the plot a bit this week as far as signing up for stuff but here’s a Saturday Rec post anyway.

I’m a big fan of historical action stories, and of action stories in general. Until I found the growing M/M genre knocking on for 10 years ago now, I had never read romances – preferring Fred Forsythe or Patrick O’Brien to Loretta Chase or E L James – and I still have problems getting my head around the tropes. Some of the best stories I’ve read play all kinds of games with these ‘set in stone’ rules.

Because I know that I have problems with romances I scan the ebook sites very quickly ignoring all the naked torsos and cuddling contemporary couples, instead pouncing on anything with a gun on the cover, a suggestion of noir or a whiff of historical costume. The Boys of Summer went on my To Read List the moment I saw the gorgeous cover.

Boy, did I feel daft when I read the blurb and realised that it was a contemporary romance but actually it was that glorious thing – a twofer! As in two for the price of one.

The contemporary romance concerns David, a location prospector for the film industry checking out sites in the Hawaiian archipelago, assisted by Rick, a pilot, whose skill at the controls is the only thing between them and death when a tropical storm blows up. There’s action right from the first page and the pace continues, with quieter moments that allow the reader to catch up and realise just how much trouble the protagonists are in. Neatly inserted into the contemporary narrative is a slightly slower paced story set during the Second World War where another David and Rick carry out an exquisitely agonised courtship against a backdrop of code breaking and far too many sorties as a fighter pilot. This part of the book was beautifully done and impressed me very much – a clear 5 star read. Then we return again to the present with a greater sense of purpose and urgency.

How one story fits with the other would be a spoiler, as would how the past impacts on the present so I’ll say no more about it other than that it was a damned good read and kept me entertained throughout.

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