Tag Archives: London setting

Another one to add to my favourites shelf from J.R. Lawrie

57431205._SY475_The Sheltering Tree by J.R. Lawrie

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

J.R.’s debut collection of short stories is one of my favourite books of all time and this one has gone right next to it on the shelf.

The relationship between Alastair and jay is perfectly developed through intense chemistry when they first meet, to a hesitant friends with benefits sexual exploration and then into a deep friendship.

They are studies in opposites, Alastair’s high flying job as Commander of the Metropolitan Police puts him in the spotlight, but it’s something he does under sufferance. Jay’s role as CEO of a company helping at risk kids is close to home, and he’s hiding a painful secret which would have devastating consequences if it comes out.

There’s a tension runs through the book because of this secret, which the reader isn’t a party to either in full, which makes the narrative pacing a perfect blend of the quieter, intimate moments with the suspense elements.

Sex is inspired between these two. Alastair hasn’t had chance to have a relationship for years, Jay is too busy hiding himself to really let go but together, they fly high.

The scenes at Cliveden are among my most favourite romantic encounters in any book, they’re so filled with all the feelings the two men are trying to suppress. The speculative added commentary from the hotel staff just pops the cherry on an already delicious cake imho. It made me smile big time.

There’s also an excellent set of secondary characters, one of my favourites being Alastair’s personal assistant (and general go-to gal) Juliet, who is encouraging and mothering of him even though she’s much younger.

I won’t go into the details of the suspense element of the plot, only to say that it works perfectly throughout as Jay’s past comes back to threaten not only him, but Alastair’s position. The build-up to the final quarter of the book will make your heart race as the danger gets closer.

Oh, and the wee little Easter Egg reference to Richard from J.R.’s Let Your Heart Be Light: A Collection of M/M Holiday Romances was brilliant. If you’ve not read that book yet, I’d definitely suggest you do!

I can’t wait to see what other people think of this book, it’s one of my absolute favourite reads in any genre.

#ARC kindly received from the author in return for an honest and unbiased review

View all my reviews

Release Blitz: King’s Man by Sally Malcolm

King’s Man | Sally Malcolm

Outlawed #1

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Release Date: March 25th, 2021

Universal Link: https://bookgoodies.com/a/B08T8CW98X

Add to Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/56795634-king-s-man

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Blurb

What happens when the love of your life becomes your enemy?

Had there been no war, Sam Hutchinson and Nate Tanner would have lived their lives together as intimate friends, and secret lovers. But when the revolution convulsed America, it threw them down on opposite sides of the conflict…

Five years later, Sam is a Loyalist refugee in London, penniless, bitter, and scrambling to survive amid the city’s shadowy underworld. It’s a far cry from his respectable life as a Rhode Island lawyer, and the last person he wants to witness his ruin is Nate Tanner— the man he once loved, the man who betrayed him.

The man he can’t forgive.

Now an agent of the Continental Congress, Nate is in London on the trail of a traitor threatening America’s hard-won freedom. But the secret mission of his heart is quite different. Nate longs to find Sam Hutchinson—the man he still loves, the man he lost to the war.

The man he can’t forget.

When their lives unexpectedly collide, Sam and Nate are thrown together on a dangerous mission. And despite everything that still divides them, old passions begin to stir…

But can they seize this second chance at love, or is their tangled past too painful to forgive?

Excerpt

Nate fidgeted. He crossed his ankles, re-crossed them. He opened a book — he still had his nose in a book at every opportunity — closed it again. Sighed. Shifted. Eventually he spoke. “I’d give my right arm for a slab of that gingerbread they sell down at the docks.” His accent was the accent of home and it fell with distressing softness on Sam’s ears. “Have you tried it? Best thing about London. Well, aside from the bookshops.”

Sam didn’t intend to reply, but his stomach gave a disloyal growl and Nate huffed a soft laugh. It jabbed like a dart, familiar and painful. “I avoid sugar these days,” Sam said gruffly. “It’s difficult to enjoy the taste when it’s polluted by the blood and tears of enslaved people.”

Nate inclined his head in acknowledgment, hands spread ruefully. “I buy free sugar whenever I can. But I admire your principles, Sam. I know you have a sweet tooth.”

They both did. Back in Rosemont, they used to buy slabs of almond cake, sometimes honey cake, and eat it together outside the church in the half hour John Reed allowed them for breakfast. You wouldn’t know it from Nate’s slight physique, but he’d always eaten like a horse.

Sam closed his eyes against an unbidden flash of memory: that lissome back glistening in the moonlight as Sam moved inside him, the green scent of the riverbank all around them. He cleared his throat, shifting uncomfortably as his prick grew heavy. Dear God, and with Nate right there.

He made himself summon a different memory instead: a dozen burning torches in the hands of his neighbors, the terrifying stench of hot tar, suffocating feathers clogging his mouth and nose. And Nate, silent and watching while the mob imposed their ‘justice’.

“I looked for you,” Nate said softly, as if plucking the thought from Sam’s mind. “As soon as I could, I went looking for you. But the British line was so close…” Sam didn’t know how to respond to that. Was he supposed to feel grateful? “After the fighting moved on, I traced you as far as —” Nate’s voice faltered “— as Simsbury Mine. But beyond that, nothing.”

“That’s because I escaped. The bastards didn’t know where I went.”

“That’s what I hoped.” Nate smiled fleetingly, uncertain as butterfly wings. “I prayed for it.”

That was something from a man with no real faith, but it only made Sam’s hurt that much sharper. “No point digging all that up.” He turned back to the window.

“Dig it up? It’s hardly buried.” The bench shifted as Nate slid closer.

Sam could feel the heat of him through his clothes. Or perhaps something more than heat — the life of him, the profound bond that had once held them close. “It’s done,” Sam said tersely. “It’s past. Best leave it there.”

A taut silence. “If we leave the past in the past, can’t we be— Can’t we at least try to be friends again?”

The clear longing in his voice coiled around Sam’s heart with hot pressure. He hated that Nate sounded like home, he hated that the very sight of him twisted raw scars in his chest until they bled, and he hated that Nate wanted to pretend the past had never happened. “No,” he said, blinking at his reflection in the window glass. “No, we can’t.”

“But the war’s over.”

“Says the man working for the Continental Congress.”

Nate sighed. “That doesn’t make us enemies.”

“Maybe not. But I still—” Sam turned, and the words fell away unspoken. Hell, but Nate was close, leaning expectantly into the last splash of sunlight. Their knees almost touched, the space between them a raw gash of loss and want. A breeze from the open window set Nate’s hair shifting, sunset lending more copper than was due to those errant strands. His mouth parted as if to argue or to kiss, lips pink and a little chapped, his warm brown eyes luminous with misplaced hope.

Sam imagined taking his face in his hands, the scratch of stubble against his palms, the way Nate would melt when Sam kissed him. He imagined pushing Nate backward, fingers curling into his coat —

And he imagined slamming him hard against the seat, shaking an apology out of him, howling his pain and fury until Nate understood.

You betrayed me. You abandoned me. You let them destroy me.

“You still what?” Nate prompted softly, ghosting fingertips across Sam’s knee, stirring the hair on his arms, the back of his neck. “Sam? You still what?”

His fingers gripped the edge of the bench seat. “I still hate you.”

Nate stared for a blank moment, then turned away with a sharp twist of his body and a flash of hurt in his eyes.

Hell, but that felt sweet—harsh and sweet like vengeance or victory. Or punishment. Sam didn’t know whether he was ashamed of himself, or proud.

After some time, Nate spoke. “Well, that’s a shame,” he said in a strained voice, “because we were good friends once.”

“Yes.” Sam’s voice scratched in his throat, rusty as old nails. “We were. Real good.”

They rode the rest of the way in silence.

Read The Prequel

Rebel

Outlaw #0.5

Rebel

Buy Links:

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08W5B1F6G

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B08W5B1F6G

Add to Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/57004021-rebel

Blurb

Samuel Hutchinson has lived his whole life in Rosemont, Rhode Island. And as far as he’s concerned, his future is fixed: complete his legal training, marry a respectable woman, and settle down to raise a family.

But Sam never counted on meeting Nathaniel Tanner.

Clever, urbane, and dazzling, Nate has been banished to Rosemont by a father determined to remove him from the rising political tension in Boston. The last thing Nate expects to find in the sleepy Rhode Island town is a man who’s not only interested in Nate’s radical ideas, but who interests Nate in return.

In every conceivable way.

Over books and conversation, their friendship deepens. But when Nate dares to confess his true feelings, Sam faces a stark choice—reject his friend and continue to live a lie, or rebel against everything he’s been taught and embrace his heart’s desire…

About The Author

Sally Malcolm

Sally Malcolm was bitten by the male/male romance bug in 2016 and hasn’t looked back. Her stories are emotional, romantic, and always have happy endings. She lives in South West London with her American husband, two lovely children, and two lazy cats.

Social media

Twitter @Sally_Malcolm

FB: https://www.facebook.com/sally.malcolm.3/

Newsletter sign up (to get a free copy of Rebel): https://mybookcave.com/d/d295175a/

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Release Blitz: Eight Acts by A.L. Lester

Eight Acts | A. L. Lester

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Publisher: JMS Books LLC

Release Date: March 20th, 2021

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 20,225

 Buy Links:

Amazon US | Amazon UK

Add to Goodreads

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Blurb

It’s the summer of 1967 and the Sexual Offences Act has just decriminalized consensual gay sex in private between two men over twenty-one.

Percy Wright and his friend Les Baker have both taken temporary jobs teaching English as a foreign language in London during their long summer break from teaching at a rural boarding school near Oxford.

Thirty-three-year-old Percy is keen to soak up some theatre, music and general culture, whilst the younger Les is also keen to experience the varied gay social scene. When Les picks up a man called Phil at the box office of the Albert Hall when he goes to buy tickets to a Promenade Concert, Percy inadvertently gets thrown together with Adrian Framlingham, Phil’s friend.

Adrian is all the things Percy likes in a man…funny, kind and steady. When Les gets hurt, Percy turns to Adrian for support, but as the end of the summer looms it seems as if their affair will come to a natural end.

What will happen when Percy goes back to his everyday life as a house-master? Will he and Adrian stay in touch? Does he even want a long-distance relationship when arranging to meet someone for sex is still illegal, even if the act itself is not?

Content Warning: secondary character suffers off-screen assault/implied rape. Takes place five years before Taking Stock.

Excerpt

“Shall we go for a walk in Hyde Park this evening?” Les said with forced casualness, shoving toast into the toaster in a bleary fashion.

“Tonight?” Percy said. It was a Thursday.

“One of the blokes I was talking to at the William at the weekend mentioned it. Said it’s an interesting place of an evening.”

He put the emphasis on interesting.

“Les…,” Percy was reluctant. “I’m not sure it’s my kind of thing.”

“What, getting your rocks off isn’t your kind of thing?” Les said, slightly snippily. “Don’t pretend you haven’t been having it off with Adrian for the last fortnight.”

Percy didn’t have anything to say back to that.

“We’re back to school in two weeks,” Les said, almost wearily. “And I want to have as much fun as possible before I get shut up in that damned boarding house with sixty adolescent terrors for another year.”

Percy watched him, steadily.

“This is…so different,” Les continued. “I don’t want to miss anything.”

“Didn’t you have a social set at university?” Percy asked. Not that he had himself, really.

“In York!?” Les said with an derisive huffing noise. “Not these kind of friends. I just want…something, Perce.”

Percy could understand that. “I know, he said. “I know you do. But…is Hyde Park after dark really what you’re looking for?”

Les sat at the small table and focused on buttering his toast fiercely. “I won’t know if I don’t go, will I?” he said. “It’s okay, Perce. You don’t have to come. I know it’s not really your scene.”

Les was so much younger, sometimes, Percy thought.

“What about Phil?” he asked.

“Nice bloke,” Les said, dismissively. “I don’t want a wife, though, Percy. I want some fun.”

Percy sighed. “Well, what time are you thinking of going?” he asked. “I’m meeting Adrian. He’s managed to get tickets for Hello Dolly at Drury Lane.” This would be the fourth time they had deliberately arranged to meet. After their first outing to the Prince William in Hampstead nearly a fortnight ago, they’d met in the week at a pub close to Adrian’s offices after work and gone on and had a meal. And on Sunday they’d begun the day by walking along the Embankment, had some chips in a pub they’d come upon and then spent the afternoon in Regent’s Park. It had been a really lovely day out. He’d felt guilty leaving Les on his own, but Les seemed happy enough going up to the Prince William by himself, once he’d been introduced around the weekend before.

“No idea what time,” said Les, interrupting his memories. I was going to come home and have some tea and then go on out. So you can still come along if you change your mind.”

Percy shook his head. “I won’t change my mind. I’ve got to be out of the door at about six, so I was going to come home, bolt a bit of toast and change, and then go on out. We’re having supper somewhere afterwards, I think.”

Les made grunting assent.

Percy was worried about him. The huge platter of different places and experiences that had opened to them over the last month were so different from anything either of them had experienced before. Percy was much more cautious than Les. He didn’t seem to have the same need to grab everything with both hands and try it all out. He was a decade older, he supposed. Whether than meant it had drained out of his system without him noticing whilst he was busy trying to hide it all, or whether it just meant he was a bit more sensible than he would have been a decade ago, he didn’t know.

What he did know what that in his opinion, Les was going to get in to trouble. And Percy wasn’t prepared to be dragged in to trouble with him.

“You will be careful, won’t you?” he said, diffidently. “Just…be careful, Les.”

Les looked over at him. “I’ll be careful. And you…you have a good time, yeah? If I don’t see you before you go out. He seems like a really nice bloke.”

Percy smiled. “He is. He’s a really nice bloke.”

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Meet the Author

Writer of queer, paranormal, historical, romantic suspense. Lives in the South West of England with Mr AL, two children, a badly behaved dachshund, a terrifying cat and some hens.

Likes gardening but doesn’t really have time or energy. Not musical. Doesn’t much like telly. Non-binary. Chronically disabled. Has tedious fits.

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