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Release Blitz: The King’s Delight by Sarah Honey

The King’s Delight | Sarah Honey

Tales of Lilleforth #1

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Release Date: January 14th, 2023

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King Leopold of Lilleforth rules his kingdom well. He’s handsome, intelligent, and charming. It’s no wonder the neighbouring kingdoms are eager to provide him with a princess to marry. There’s just one problem—Leo has no interest in princesses. His tastes tend more towards handsome young men who enjoy a good spanking.

Felix Hobson left the kingdom of Lilleforth as a teenager to train as a groom. While he was away he learned a lot, and not all of it had to do with horses—although riding crops were definitely involved. Now an adult, Felix is home to take up the position of royal groom, where he hopes he’ll have plenty of opportunities for a roll in the hay.

When Felix mistakes Leopold for a horse thief and attempts to seduce him, Leopold is delighted by the irreverent, attractive lad, and sparks fly. Their arrangement is all fun and games, right until they both fall hard and fast. But while what they have together is a delight, there’s no way it can last—can it?

They’ll have to navigate a visiting princess, an assassination attempt, and a kidnapping if they want a chance to find out.

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It wasn’t all that uncommon for like to be attracted to like, and most people didn’t seem to care what other people did in bed, but it wasn’t something Felix had ever explicitly shared with his father either. He stared at the ground as he walked, his chest tight.

Janus gave a noncommittal hum, and when he spoke there was no judgment in his tone. “I had wondered. A good-looking boy like yourself, living in a kingdom the size of Fortescue, yet your letters never once held any mention of romance.” Felix risked a sideways peek and found his father regarding him with a soft look. “It’s all right, son. You’re in good company.” Janus lowered his voice. “Royal company, if the stories are to be believed.”

Felix almost stumbled over his own feet at that. “How do you know that?” he asked, intrigued. “Has the king said—”

His father chuckled. “Nobody has said a word. The castle staff have been the very soul of discretion, as they always are when it comes to lovers. But I didn’t become the captain of the guard by failing to see what’s in front of my face. And the fact is the king has turned down seven marriage proposals from princesses in surrounding kingdoms in the past two years since he took the throne.”

“That doesn’t mean anything, though.”

“Not on its own, no. But very occasionally I’ve admitted young men to the castle for private meetings with His Majesty, and I do not believe that there is any business so urgent that it needs to be discussed in the king’s bedchamber at midnight.”

“There might be other reasons. Maybe it’s espionage and he’s meeting his spies.” Felix wasn’t sure why he found it so hard to believe that the king held the same inclinations as him, but even considering it made his heart flutter in his chest.

“Yes,” his father said drily. “Pip, the baker’s lad, is highly trained in espionage. That must be it.”

That startled a laugh out of Felix. They approached the small side door to the castle that led in through the wet room and laundry area to the kitchens. “Fine. Your explanation makes more sense.”

It was cool inside the stone walls, the shade a welcome relief from the midday sun, and Felix and his father both splashed cold water on their faces at the washbasins that were set on a wooden trestle for just that purpose. Janus wiped the sweat from the back of his neck with a damp cloth. “You keep what I’ve told you quiet, mind,” he said. “Not because it’s wrong, but because it’s nobody’s business but the king’s.”

Felix nodded. He could be discreet when the occasion called for it. Felix had no desire to jeopardise his father’s position by failing to hold his tongue. Besides, if anyone could appreciate the freedom a little privacy afforded, it was him. Still, he was glad he’d shared with his father today. It meant that if whispers did get back to him about Felix bedding the occasional lad around the castle, at least his father wouldn’t be too surprised.

“Are you moving into your cottage today?” His father’s voice pulled him from his thoughts.

Felix nodded. “I’ll finish moving my things after lunch and then spend the afternoon with the horses.” Felix’s new position as the king’s groom came with his own small cottage adjacent to the stables, and after six years of bunking in shared quarters at Fortescue, he was looking forward to the privacy.

“And when are you meeting the king?”

Felix made a face. “Matty said—”

“You mean His Excellency—”

Felix rolled his eyes. “Fine! His Excellency, Chancellor Mattias Allingdon, says he’ll arrange something next week, but that Leo—His Majesty, I’m trying, all right?—is snowed under for the rest of this week with some sort of quarterly meetings. But Matty also said there’s no rush because Leopold won’t have time to ride this week anyway.”

His father was obviously fighting to hold back laughter. “You really do struggle with titles, don’t you?”

“I swear, they’ll be the death of me.” Felix let out a frustrated sigh. “Maybe when I meet the king, I’ll just nod and smile and stay silent.”

His father did laugh then. “I’m remembering now why we kept you away from King Leopold when he was still only a prince.” He patted Felix’s shoulder in a comforting gesture. “Try not to worry, son. As long as you take good care of Blackbird, I suspect the king will forgive you anything. And Felix? It’s good to have you back.”

He pulled Felix into a rough hug, and Felix returned it wholeheartedly.

It was good to be back.

Felix was looking forward to settling into his new position, getting to know the horses and the other grooms, and being able to see his family more often than his previous annual visits to Ravenport had allowed.

And from a personal viewpoint, now that he was home for good, Felix was in a place to entertain the possibility of maybe finding someone for more than a casual stroll in the meadow. While he’d enjoyed sowing his wild oats over the past few years, waking up next to a different body every morning was losing its thrill, and he was starting to yearn for something more than a fling.

Felix knew that, objectively, he was attractive. His past lovers had praised his long limbs and lean build, his honey-gold eyes and long lashes. There had even been a hasty, filthy ode composed by a lusty bard that sang the praises of his soft skin and thick, dark hair, and how perfect it was for tangling fingers in during a quick rut against a wall. He’d been told he had a mouth made for kisses and sin.

And that was all well and good, but surely there must be more? What he really wanted was to find someone with shared interests that went beyond the physical.

Surely, in a city the size of Ravenport, there must be at least one available man who’d find him attractive and intelligent, someone who would look past his surface good looks and see the person underneath…someone who was willing to while away more than a single evening with him? Perhaps there might even be someone who worked at the castle.

He could only hope.

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About the Author


Sarah started life in New Zealand. She came to Australia for a working holiday, loved it, and never left. She lives in Western Australia with her partner, two cats, two dogs and a life-size replica TARDIS.

She spends half her time at a day job and the rest of her time reading and writing about clueless men falling in love, with a dash of humour and spice thrown in along the way.

Her proudest achievements include having adult kids who will still be seen with her in public, the ability to make a decent sourdough loaf, and knowing all the words to Bohemian Rhapsody.

She has co-authored both the Bad Boyfriends, Inc and the Adventures in Aguillon series with Lisa Henry. Socially Orcward, the third book in the Aguillon series, was runner up in the Best Asexual Book category in 2021’s Rainbow Awards.


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To celebrate the release of The King’s Delight, Sarah is giving away a $15 Amazon Voucher

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Release Blitz: The Captain and the Cavalry Trooper by Catherine Curzon and Eleanor Harkstead


The Captain and the Cavalry Trooper

by Catherine Curzon and Eleanor Harkstead


As the Great War tears Europe apart, two men from different worlds find sanctuary in each others arms.

Captain Robert Thorne is the fiercest officer in the regiment. Awaiting the command to go to the front, he has no time for simpering, comely lads. That’s until one summer day in 1917, when his dark, flashing eye falls upon the newest recruit at Chateau de Desgravier, a fresh-faced farmer’s boy with little experience of life and a wealth of poetry in his heart.

Trooper Jack Woodvine has a way with strong, difficult stallions, and whispers them to his gentle will. Yet even he has never tamed a creature like Captain Thorne.

With the shadow of the Great War and the scheming of enemies closer to home threatening their fleeting chance at happiness, can the captain and the cavalry trooper make it home safely? More importantly, will they see peacetime together?

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Northern France 1917

The wagon carrying Jack Woodvine bumped and jerked along the poplar-lined lanes, a fine spray of mud rising up each time the huge wooden wheels splashed through a puddle.

He had given up checking the time and, even though the journey was far from comfortable, tried to doze as he passed along under the iron-gray sky. A chateau, they’d said. Different from the barracks he’d been in when he was first deployed. Doubtless it would be a dismal old fortress, but was it silly of him to hope for bright pennants fluttering from a turret?

Finally, the wagon drew up at a gatehouse of pale stone. As Jack climbed out, dragging his kitbag behind him, sunlight nudged back the clouds and turned the gray slate of the roofs to blue.

“You the new groom?” A soldier appeared from the gatehouse. His cap was so low over his eyes that Jack couldn’t make out his expression.

“Yes—Trooper Woodvine. Jack Woodvine.” He took a letter from his pocket and held it out to the man. “I’ve been transferred from another battalion. This is the Chateau de Desgravier?”

“Yes, Trooper! Turn left at the bottom of the drive for the stables. Quick march!”

The last thing Jack wanted to do was march, quickly or otherwise, but he shouldered his kitbag, jammed his cap onto his head and marched down the tree-lined avenue.

It was thickly leaved, but through the branches he could see the white stone of the chateau ahead. He rounded a bend in the driveway and he saw it—Chateau de Desgravier.

An enormous tower rose up in front of him, its roof reaching into a delicate point. Jack sighed, the spots of mud on his face cracking as he smiled. It might not have had pennants floating from it, but it was exactly like something from a fairytale. Beside the tower were the stone and brick and filigreed windows of what looked to Jack like a palace. Who would ever think that the front was only a few miles to the east?

Quick march!

Jack continued on his way, turning to his left just as he’d been ordered. The path here bore evidence of horses—straw, manure, the marks of horseshoes. Ahead, an archway, figures at work. A lad of Jack’s age maneuvering a wheelbarrow, another leading a horse out to the paddock.

This wouldn’t be so bad. It seemed to be a peaceful place, and easy work for a lad like Jack. He raised his hand and grinned at the grooms as he headed under the archway and into the vast stable yard.

Then he heard singing. In French.

Jack dropped his kitbag and looked round. The voice was that of a man, yet heightened slightly, giving it a teasing, effeminate edge, and Jack couldn’t help but follow it like a sailor lured by a siren, pulled along the row of open stables toward that lilting chanson. Inside those stables young men labored and sweated, brooms swept and spades shoveled, yet one of the boxes at the far corner of the yard seemed to have been transformed into an impromptu theater.

Jack hardly dared glance through that open door, yet he couldn’t help himself, blinking at the hazy darkness of the interior where half a dozen grooms lounged in the straw, watching the chanteur in rapt silence.

Right in front of Jack, his back to the door, was the figure of a young man, clad in jodhpurs, polished riding boots and nothing else. No, that wasn’t quite true, because he was wearing something, the sort of something Jack didn’t really see much of in Shropshire. It was some sort of silken scarf, a shawl, perhaps, that was looped around his neck twice, the wide, dazzling red fabric decorated with intricate yellow flowers.

They were bright against the pale skin of his naked back, as bright as the tip of the cigarette that glowed in the end of a long ebony cigarette holder that the singer held in his elegant right hand. He gestured with it like a painter with his brush, making intricate movements with his wrist as he sang, his voice a low purr, then a high, tuneful trill, then a comically deep bass that drew laughter from his audience.

He moved with the confidence of a dancer, hips swinging seductively, head cocked to one side, free hand resting on his narrow hip and here, in this strange fairytale place, he was bewitching.

The singer executed a near-perfect pirouette yet quite suddenly, when he was facing Jack, stopped. He put the cigarette holder to his pink lips, drew in a long, deep breath and blew out a smoke ring, his full lips forming a perfect O.

“Well, now.” He sucked in his pale cheeks and asked, “Who on earth have we here?”

Jack blinked as the smoke ring drifted into his face.

“Tr-trooper Woodvine, reporting for Captain Thorne. I’ve been transferred—I’m his new groom. I don’t suppose—”

The words dried in Jack’s throat. As enthralling as this otherworldly figure was, with his slim face and high cheekbones, there was an unsettling glint of mockery in his narrow blue eyes.

“Sorry.” Jack took a half-step backward. “I interrupted your song. I should…”

The singer moved a little, just enough that he could dart his head forward on its slender neck and draw his nose from Jack’s shoulder to his ear, breathing deeply all the way. They didn’t touch but the invasion, the authority, was clear. However lowly their station, Jack had wandered innocently into someone else’s domain.

When the young man’s nose reached Jack’s ear he threw his head back and let out a loud sigh through his parted lips, arms extended to either side. Then he finally spoke again, declaring to the heavens, “I smell new blood!”

Behind him, his small audience tittered nervously and his head dropped once more, those glittering blue eyes focused on Jack.

“Trooper Charles, sir!” He executed a courtly bow, the hand that held the cigarette twirling elaborately. “But you’re so darling and green that you may address me as Queenie. Aren’t you the lucky one?”

Jack reached for the doorframe to casually prop himself against it and essay the appearance of calm. Queenie?

“You may call me Jack.”

He extended his free hand to shake. A handshake showed the mettle of a man, his father was always telling him so. A good, firm hand at the market and a fellow would never have his prices beaten down.

Queenie’s narrow gaze slid down Jack like a snake and settled on his hand. He didn’t take it, didn’t move at all for a few seconds as the silence between them grew thicker. Then, in one quick movement, he placed his cigarette holder between Jack’s fingers and said, “Have a treat on me. Welcome to Cinderella’s doss house!”

Jack brought it hesitantly to his lips, smiling gamely at the grooms who made up Queenie’s audience. He pouted his lips against the carved ebony and inhaled.

The cough was so violent that Jack nearly dropped the holder, but an instinct in him born of a lifetime on a farm of tinder-dry hay meant he clamped it between his fingers. As he heaved for breath, he stamped on the nearby straw, suffocating any sparks that might have fallen.

The other grooms laughed and Queenie’s head tipped back to emit a bray of hilarity as a strong hand walloped Jack’s back.

A friendly Cockney burr chirruped, “Cough up, chicken—there’s a good lad!”

“We have a new little chicky in our nest,” Queenie told his audience, turning to address them. “I want you all to make him terribly welcome, or he might burn down our stables and then where would your Queenie sing?”

The stocky lad who had rescued Jack from his coughing fit was a head shorter than him. He pulled a face that could have been a smile or a sneer and took the cigarette holder from his fingers. He passed it to Queenie, all the while fixing his stare on the new arrival.

“Trooper Cole. Wilfred, that’s me. You’re Captain Thorne’s new boy, aren’t you?”

He laughed, then turned his head to spit on the floor, pulling a skinny roll-up from behind his ear.

“I’m Jack Woodvine. I mean…Trooper Woodvine.”

“I s’pose me and Queenie better take you to your quarters?”

“That would— But…oughtn’t I to introduce myself to Captain Thorne?”

“I’d say that’s a bit difficult, seeing as he’s not here at the moment.” Wilfred picked up Jack’s kitbag as easily as if it were spun from a feather. “Come on, soldier. Your palace awaits!”

“Captain T is an angel.” Queenie draped one arm sinuously around Jack’s shoulders and walked him back across the stable yard, his naked torso pressed to Jack’s rough tunic. “You’re going to have a bloody easy war, he’s soft as my mother’s newborn kitten.”

He glanced back at Wilfred and asked, “Wouldn’t you say so, Wilf?”

“Not half!” Wilfred laughed, striking a match to light his cigarette. “You couldn’t find a nicer bloke in the entire regiment.”

Jack grinned as they headed up the creaking wooden stairs above the stables. New quarters and new friends, and he wouldn’t have to rough it in a tent. Maybe there’d even be warm water for a bath.

“Well, that’s good to know. The officers were a bit…brusque at my last place.”

“Brusque?” Wilfred raised an amused eyebrow. “That’s a fancy word for a groom!”

“Ignore our lovely Wilf. Strong as an ox, bright as a coal shed.” At the top of the stairs Queenie turned to address Wilfred and Jack, his pale hand resting on the crooked handrail. “Thorny is adorable, not brusque at all. Welcome to our little slice of heaven!”

With that he lifted the latch and threw the door open, directing Jack to enter with another low bow.

Review Snippets

“If you’re a fan of historical romance, soldiers in uniform, beautiful English prose, then I highly recommend this book.” – CF White

“This is wonderful, a haunting tale of love found in the most unexpected and dangerous places between two characters, who are sensitive and courageous.” – Frankie Reviews

“The book was remarkably written, funny, witty and full of unique and interesting references to the period. The dialogue was quick, flirtatious and intriguing and the descriptions were beautiful.” – Ruby Scalera

Author Bios

Catherine Curzon  is a royal historian who writes on all matters of 18th century. Her work has been featured on many platforms and Catherine has also spoken at various venues including the Royal Pavilion, Brighton, and Dr Johnson’s House.

Catherine holds a Master’s degree in Film and when not dodging the furies of the guillotine, writes fiction set deep in the underbelly of Georgian London.

She lives in Yorkshire atop a ludicrously steep hill.

Eleanor Harkstead likes to dash about in nineteenth-century costume, in bonnet or cravat as the mood takes her. She can occasionally be found wandering old graveyards. Eleanor is very fond of chocolate, wine, tweed waistcoats and nice pens. Her large collection of vintage hats would rival Hedda Hopper’s.

Originally from the south-east of England, Eleanor now lives somewhere in the Midlands with a large ginger cat who resembles a Viking.