Tag Archives: Guest Post

Blog Tour: A Right To Know by Jude Tresswell

A Right To Know | Jude Tresswell

County Durham Quad #7

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Release Date: July 31st, 2021

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Male/Male Menage

Length: 57,300

Buy Links:

Amazon US | Amazon UK

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Blurb

“A son! A child! How? Why? Fuck! Phil! You can’t have! And does this sperm-child want to see you?”

Abandonment, trust, suspicion and compromise—integral parts of a mystery that involves industrial espionage, sperm donation and coming to terms with oneself and the truth.

Sperm donors know that now, under UK law, offspring who reach eighteen have the right to learn a donor’s identity and last known address, but Phil Roberts donated before the law was changed. He is shocked and dismayed to learn that he has a son called Lewis who intends to visit. Phil’s husband, Raith, is furious—and very scared.

What does Lewis Lennon really want? The man he has always called ‘dad’ is dead. Was his death suicide or was he murdered? Lewis wants Phil to find out.

So, Phil, Raith, Mike and Ross, the County Durham Quad, plus their special friend, Nick, are embroiled in another investigation, but, as always, their relationships come under scrutiny too.

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Excerpt

Phil sat at the big kitchen table. His beard, neatly trimmed as always, failed to hide the lack of colour in his face. He looked shocked. He was holding a letter.

“You alright, Phil?” Mike was puzzled and concerned. “Bad news?”

“Not ‘bad’ exactly. Unexpected. Very.” He sighed. “I’ve an eighteen-year-old son. Sperm donation.”

Raith, Phil’s husband, dropped the glass of juice he was drinking. It rolled off the table and smashed as it hit the floor.

“A son! A child! How? Why? Fuck! Phil! You can’t have! And does this sperm-child want to see you?” Raith snatched the letter from Phil’s hands. “I can’t read this fucking stuff; it’s in joined-up. Why didn’t he type it?”

“He probably felt that this was more personal,” Mike suggested, retrieving the letter from the floor where Raith had slung it in disgust and shaking it free of orange juice.

“It’s fucking personal alright. You always said they couldn’t identify you, Phil. What the fuck’s gone wrong?”

“It looks as though we might find out,” said Ross, the fourth member of the quad. He was reading the letter over Mike’s shoulder. “He intends to visit. I think we need to talk.”

***

Mike, Ross, Raith and Phil, four men who shared a home in Tunhead, a tiny hamlet in the Durham hills. Tunhead derived its name from Tun Beck, a little stream that flowed into the larger River Wear. Tun Beck lent its name to BOTWAC too—the Beck on the Wear Arts Centre.

Ross managed BOTWAC, Raith provided paintings and ceramics and Mike carried out the maintenance. Phil was the only one whose work was separate. He was a surgeon at Warbridge Hospital, an hour’s drive away and, in a sense, his medical background was the cause of the morning’s shock announcement. The four of them talked about the news that evening.

“You knew I’d donated sperm, Raith.” Phil had always made it clear that when he was a medical student, like many others on his course, he had donated both for research and for procreation.

“I know that, but you’d always done it anonymously. You said so, and you never did it after they changed the law.”

Raith was referring to a change that occurred in 2005 regarding data held at UK fertility clinics. At licenced clinics, that is. Prior to the change, offspring conceived by sperm or egg donation could learn some information about their donor when they reached sixteen, but what was released was very general. If donors wished to remain anonymous, they could do so. From 2005, though, anonymity was lifted. Sixteen was still the age of release of the ‘non-identifiable information’, but at eighteen, offspring conceived by donation had the right to be told their donor’s name and date of birth and, also, their donor’s last known address.

“I didn’t donate after two thousand and five. I think I’d know if I did.”

“Sperm can be frozen though, can’t it, Phil? Perhaps it was used after the change was implemented.”

“Only for another year or so, Ross, and under the old anonymity rules. There was a transitional period but, after that, sperm could only be used in exceptional circumstances. To create a sibling, for example. I remember being contacted about it. I had the option of… going public, if you like, but I chose not to do so. I didn’t want…I didn’t want a child, well, not one that I’d feel some responsibility for. I suppose, if I’m honest, I did want to pass on my genes, have that sense of immortality—I knew it was unlikely that I’d ever father a child with a woman. I just wanted to… be helpful, I suppose. I gave a brief self-description at the time, but the details would apply to thousands of people: eyes, hair, height, weight, ethnicity. Even if you narrowed the count with ‘student medic’ and my year of birth, you’d still be talking hundreds. I was careful not to leave traces.”

“How thoughtful of you!”

“That’s not helpful, Raith.”

Ross chastised gently but, tonight, too harshly for Raith.

“Helpful! It’s not help Phil needs—it’s a fucking vasectomy, but he’s eighteen years too late. I’m going up.”

No hugs, no kisses—the little goodnight habits that told the men that they were loved and cared for and cared about. Just “I’m going up” and heavy footsteps on the stairs.

If my books were films…

The books are set in the hills and dales of north-east England, but who would be the actors walking over the wonderful scenery? Choosing is hard. I never visualize the Quad except in the vaguest of ways. That’s one of the reasons why the covers are always silhouettes.

I ‘hear’ my four men, but I rarely ‘see’ them. But, also, would someone known to me, perhaps through British television, be familiar to readers from elsewhere? Not sure, so I’ve chosen some actors that I know have appeared in productions that aren’t exclusively UK based. Three actors anyway – to play Mike and Phil and Raith. I’m stuck for an actor for Ross.

Mike Angells: ex- cop, resourceful and tough but emotionally needy and loyal to a fault, and a man with a local accent. I love the range of accents in England and I know that good actors can emulate them, but I’ve chosen a native northerner to play Mike: Sean Bean.

Well, the Sean Bean of maybe twenty years ago as he was in the series, Sharpe. Mike’s Bishop Auckland accent would be different from Sean Bean’s Sheffield one, but the two would share some features. Softness, roundedness, some of the vowel sounds… I could listen to Sean Bean talk all day and, writing this now, I’m wondering if, subconsciously, I modelled Mike on Richard Sharpe. Even down to the swearing!

Phil Roberts: surgeon, over-worked, cautious and worried. Welsh parents though he was born and raised in Newcastle (on Tyne – there are several UK Newcastles.) 

I’ll choose a proper Welshman: Tom Ellis. I know him from the comedy series, Miranda, but he plays a very different sort of character in the series, Lucifer. I think he’d do Phil beautifully. Exactly the right age (early forties) and, as far as I can imagine Phil facially, the right sort of narrow features. I do know that Phil has a neatly trimmed beard – just like Tom Ellis’ on his Wiki page. Tom would have to ditch the smiles, though: Phil is a (mostly) serious guy.

And so to Phil’s husband, Raith Rodrigo Roberts-Balaño aka Raith Balan. Artist, ceramicist, a one-off. Fool or genius? Who knows? He’d need to be played by someone who could run with his extremes.

I know who it would be: Eoin Macken. I think that, in the USA, he’s known for the series The Night Shift, but I know him from Merlin. His Sir Gwaine would hit just the right Raith-note. What’s more, Macken is, or was, a model. He’d know how to carry off Raith’s eccentric clothes and appearance.

In the new tale, Raith has threaded miniature bells all through his long, dark hair. I’m sure that Eoin Macken in Gwaine mode would look great as he tinkled his way over the Durham moors to paint the streams and waterfalls. So that’s three of the four, but who would play Ross?

Ross Whitburn-Howe: Mike’s civil partner. (England and Wales: civil partnerships. Not marriages, but with many protections of marriage e.g. regarding wills) Slightly built, curly hair, lively, brisk. Late thirties now, but still cute – very. Nobody cute enough springs to mind. I’m open to ideas. 

Thank you for the opportunity to chat – Jude

Re. the scenery, drone footage with extracts from the stories can be found on Jude’s YouTube Channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCKhPb-WpyW3fUXnqjvTnCqA

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Discover the entire series

Tales that track the exploits of Mike, Ross, Raith and Phil, four men who live and love in County Durham, North-East England. Together with, from Book three onward, their friend, Nick Seabrooke, the Quad solve crimes, are accused of crimes and, occasionally, commit crimes.

Their actions jeopardise their relationships. Sometimes, the biggest threat they face is staying together. Each tale comes with its own plot, and background is included to aid new readers. Feel free to jump in anywhere.

Available from Amazon

About The Author

I’m a long-married, asexual, cis-gender female who lives in southeast England. I’m from northern England though, and the north is the setting of all my stories. You can see the setting on my Youtube channel. This isn’t a #ownvoice tale, though there’s certainly some ace-rep in it.

Part of the motivation was my dismay at receiving, unasked for, the results of an ancestry test earlier this year. A different situation from Phil in the story, but I felt for him!

A TW: parental suicide. Again, it’s something I have experience of. I hope I have dealt with it sensitively.

Website | Goodreads

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Guest Post: The Captain and the Prime Minister by Catherine Curzon & Eleanor Harkstead

The Captain and the Prime Minister | Catherine Curzon & Eleanor Harkstead

Captivating Captains #6

Release Date: March 3rd, 2020

Buy Links: 

Universal Link: https://mybook.to/captainprimeminister

Pride Publishing: https://www.pride-publishing.com/book/the-captain-and-the-prime-minister

Plus all other ebook platforms

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Blurb

When a devoted prime minster has a second chance at romance, he discovers that love is love on Downing Street.

Captain Tom Southwell has swapped bullets for babies and works as a manny at one of the world’s most famous addresses. Behind the doors of Downing Street, he cooks dinner, puts the children to bed and is the prime minister’s best friend.

Alex Hart is the prime minister Great Britain’s been dreaming of. He’s dedicated, caring and has a conscience. He’s also a widower with two small children. The last thing he can let himself do is fall in love with the manny who has held his family together.

When an old flame from Tom’s past gets in touch, Tom’s first instinct is to keep him at arm’s length, but hell hath no fury like a yoga teacher scorned. As Alex fights to push a life-changing bill through Parliament, the tabloid vultures are circling. With rumors swirling about the prime minister and his gorgeous manny, every shark in Westminster senses blood.

Will Alex put love ahead of duty, or will the most important man in the country be the loneliest, too?
Will Alex put love ahead of duty, or will the most important man in the country be the loneliest, too?

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The first six of the Captivating Captains novels

The Captain and the Cavalry Trooper

The Captain and the Cricketer

The Captain and the Theatrical

The Captain and the Best Man

The Captain and the Squire

The Captain and the Prime Minister

are all now available on Kindle Unlimited.

Hide from the trenches in an elegant chateau, meet your dream man on a cricket pitch or dash through Regency England. There’s a captain for everyone.

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Exclusive Guest Post

Eleanor sat down to chat about how the series came about and what prompted the writing duo to keep going with their Captivating Captains series.

After we’d finished writing our first novel together, The Captain and the Cavalry Trooper, we started to think about whether or not it would work as a series.

We started off by wondering what could come next in the world of that story, but by then we’d come up with an idea for a romcom, which was a different genre, a different time period and had a completely different cast. How could there be a series?

Yet perhaps there could be — the romcom still involved a captain, after all.

That novel began life as The Longley Parva Cup, but once we realised we had a series on our hands, we gave it a new name: The Captain and the Cricketer. We then brainstormed a list of potential captains. I won’t reveal them all, but what would become The Captain and the Theatrical first came to us as we noted down ideas for a Regency Captivating Captain novel. It would have to include a uniform with lots of brocade, of course!

Inspiration for pairings will come from both of us. The Captain’s Ghostly Gamble was one of Catherine’s, because highwaymen used to be known as captains, and she came up with the wonderfully foppish eighteenth-century Captain Cornelius Sheridan.

I came up with the idea of a lifeboat captain as the hero of a Christmas story — which became The Captain’s Cornish Christmas — when I was at a romance writers’ meet-up. I was in the middle of talking about romances set in Cornwall with a friend when I happened to look up and see the RNLI collection box on the bar. And Captain Jago Treherne popped straight into my head.

We were on our way back from Bath in Catherine’s car when the seeds of our latest Captivating Captains novel, The Captain and the Prime Minister, were sewn. Catherine had just been giving a talk at the Jane Austen Festival, and we were chatting about ideas for stories, after being prompted by a fabulously named road we’d passed (which I’m not giving away!).

Catherine said she’d been thinking about a story where a male politician falls in love with a man, maybe the family’s nanny, and how their relationship could risk the politician’s career. As she used to work at the Houses of Parliament, it sounded like a good idea because there’d be all of Catherine’s insider knowledge to draw on, which would make the story authentic.

We parked the idea for a while as we worked on other projects. But then one day we were chatting about ideas and brought up the political romance again. We mulled it over, then we realised it could be a Captivating Captains novel if the nanny had a military background.

And so our characters came to life. Alex Hart, a widowed Prime Minister, who falls in love with Tom, the family manny who’d swapped bullets for babies after leaving the army.

As we’ve seen with Philip Schofield recently, it’s not plain sailing for a celebrity to come out, and it was interesting to explore that idea in the novel. And we hope you do too.

About The Authors

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Catherine Curzon and Eleanor Harkstead began writing together in the spring of 2017 and swiftly discovered a shared love of sauce, well-dressed gents and a uniquely British sort of romance.

They drink gallons of tea, spend hours discussing the importance of good tailoring and are never at a loss for a double entendre.

They are the authors of numerous  short stories and two novel series, the de Chastelaine Chronicles, and the Captivating Captains, published by Totally Bound and Pride.

Their novel The Ghost Garden has been shortlisted for the 2020 Romantic Novel Awards.

Social Media

Find out more at www.curzonharkstead.co.uk

Follow Catherine at: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Bookbub

Follow Eleanor at: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Bookbub.

Sign up to their newsletter and receive a free, exclusive short story “Brighton Beaux”. https://curzonharkstead.co.uk/newsletter

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Review & Blog Tour: A Body In The Bathhouse Guest Post from Brad Shreve

A Body In The Bathhouse | Brad Shreve

Mitch O’Reilly Mysteries #1

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Buy Links:

Amazon US | Amazon UK 

Universal Link

Exclusive to Amazon and Available to Borrow with Kindle Unlimited

 Length: 65,000 words approx.

Cover Design: UmeWorks

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Blurb

On the verge of bankruptcy, private investigator, Mitch O’Reilly takes any gig that comes his way, while running his Eye Spy Supply shop in a forgotten Los Angeles strip mall.

After two tours in Afghanistan, Mitch’s life amounts to operating his store, coping with his fun-loving sister, Josie, and scoring with anonymous men he meets online. That changes when he gets a break.

A beloved comedy scriptwriter is murdered at a bathhouse, and Mitch is hired to prove the innocence of the club custodian. Adapting from a two-bit gumshoe to a high-profile sleuth proves more challenging than he expected.

As if Mitch didn’t have enough to deal with, charismatic bathhouse operator, Trent Nakos, enters his life. After a heartbreaking past, the manager is the definition of a man the brooding P.I. actively avoids.

Following leads from sprawling mansions to sketchy hoods is demanding but becomes more troublesome when deadly threats jeopardize the biggest opportunity of his career.

 

A Little History About Bathhouse Culture

Some people have been curious why I wrote a mystery that takes place in a bathhouse. The answer to that is simple. It seems, unlike many authors who tell me they struggle to come up with titles to their novels, I have the opposite problem. The titles hit me and then I must work a story around it. Not the easiest route, but it’s what works for me.

I don’t know when or where the title A Body in a Bathhouse hit me, but I knew right away I had to use it.

Once I decided to write a mystery involving a bathhouse that’s where the fun began. I learned about the history of bathhouses and bathhouse culture. The more I learned, the more I wanted to learn. The history is long. The early Greeks and Romans made public baths part of their culture around 20 BC. Some were large enough to hold 600 people. But those aren’t the types of baths I’m talking about, and I don’t have enough space for 2,000 years of history. 

Gay bathhouses showed up in the U.S. around the turn of the 20th century. Many old traditional Turkish baths built small private rooms for gay men to use. American’s first police raid of a bathhouse was in 1903 in New York City and 23 men were arrested and 7 were sentenced to long-term prison sentences.  

For decades bathhouses were a safer, though not safe, place for gay men to meet others for sex. 

Modern gay bathhouses sprouted up in the 1950s. These supplied not only a sexual outlet, but social as well. Men could be themselves around other gay men, with no fear of blackmail or harassment. When men had sex, it was without the need for secrecy or fear of judgement. There was still the fear of raids and arrests, but they were safer than public parks and restrooms. 

Gay bathhouses hit their heyday in the late 1960s and 1970s when they became fully licenses business. With the advent of the gay liberation movement, many became the hub of the gay community, offering pride events, voter registration, and plenty of entertainment. Bette Midler got her start performing in bathhouses. One time she was accompanied on the piano by Barry Manilow. “Bathhouse Betty” performed at the Continental Baths that opened in 1968 and included cabaret shows, disco dancing, an Olympic size swimming pool, held 1,000 men, and, of course, had plenty of small private rooms.

The glory days of bathhouses ended in the 1980s with the advent of the AIDS epidemic. During the 1970s, there were as many as 30 gay bathhouses in San Francisco. When the epidemic led the city to outlaw club sexual activity in 1984, the last one within the city closed in 1987. Before the epidemic there were about 200 bathhouses nationwide; today there are less than 70.  

One challenge of bathhouses today is after the 1980s they were no longer social centers and reverted to nothing more than safe places for anonymous sex. With the advent of the internet and applications like Grindr, they are less needed, and clubs close every year. Hell, sometimes all you need is to catch another fella’s eye while in the supermarket. Something unheard of not long ago. 

I cover much of this in A Body in a Bathhouse though in a more entertaining way than this history lesson. Today’s bathhouses know if they continue to only hand out towels at a small fee for men looking for sex they will not survive. To continue, they will need to return to the days of being a social and cultural center. Many clubs are making the effort, how many will succeed only time will tell.

Blog Tour

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 About The Author

After growing up in Michigan and North Carolina, Brad Shreve criss-crossed the country while working in the hotel industry. In addition to working in hotels as a bellman, front desk clerk, and reservation call center director, he’s managed coffee houses, waited tables, sold potato chips off a truck and even hocked pre-burial funeral plans.

He credits Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak for developing his interest in art and storytelling. He’d spend hours on the floor sketching and painting and writing stories. My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George gave him his first inklings that he’d like to be a novelist someday.

In addition to perpetually thinking of how to kill people, he’s a proud dad, a beach bum, and coffee house squatter.

He currently lives in the Los Angeles South Bay with his husband, Maurice.

Website/Newsletter Sign Up:  www.bradshreve.com

Facebook Group:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/bradshreve

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bradshreveauthor


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