While I can understand the phrase ‘you can’t be a little bit pregnant’, I sure as hell believe that that you can be very pregnant – and that’s certainly how I feel at the mo!
Fidget is due on to make his appearance on the 26th Dec, but he could arrive at any minute, so if you’re trying to get hold of me, or if I go quiet, then you know why and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible!
In the meantime – Happy Holidays!
With the release of The Actor and the Earl on Friday, I thought I’d talk a bit about the romance of courtly love, or more particularly the poems/play scene I selected to use in the novel.
Anthony Crofton had some serious making up to do in the story, and he could come across as not the most likable of fellows… I like to think that he redeems himself but I can understand if some folks think that once git always a git!
I chose three: Spenser’s Fire and Ice; Shakespeare’s Sonnet 20 and Benedick’s monologue (beginning “Love me? Why, it must be requited. I hear how I am censured” from Much Ado About Nothing.
And apart from the obvious that I like them, I did choose them for a reason…
Fire and Ice speaks of a burning passion that is rebuked by a cold heart. Here Anthony, know he needs to work hard to win forgiveness.
Sonnet 20 was chosen as the narrator is thought to be addressing a young man – how could I not use it? And the warmth of the words are meant to express Anthony’s sincerity of his regret and that he wishes Sebastian to know his true feelings.
And finally, the scene from Much Ado About Nothing. Well, what can I say? This is favourite Shakespeare play, and this one of my favourite scenes. Sebastian is a romantic and actor … this for me was a must!
But can a leopard truly change is spots? Can Anthony change? I’d like to think so but I don’t make things easy for my boys, and in the sequel Duty to the Crown (due for release March 2013) more hurdles are put in their way.
Win a copy of the paperback here: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1613
Link for The Actor and the Earl:http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/s
With the release of The Actor and the Earl coming soon (30th Nov), I thought I’d share one of my favorite scenes from the novel – the wedding feast.
Anthony jumped down from the coach, and then turned back to offer Sebastian his hand as assistance. Sebastian, wary of falling face first, gingerly stepped down, and was relieved not to have slipped. They’d drawn up outside a large house with a well-maintained rose garden in the front and a pathway that led away down the side to a courtyard.
From the outside, the house reminded Sebastian of the townhouse across the river he’d left that morning, but all thoughts that the two were similar were lost as he entered the hallway. The wooden panels that lined the route to the dining room were carved with a floral motif so detailed that only a master craftsman could have produced such quality, and the family silver on display marked generations’ worth of wealth.
“You’ll have plenty of opportunity to stare in wonder on another day,” said Anthony, who didn’t let Sebastian linger, his strong hand guiding him along. “I don’t want Cook to fry my tail because I can’t control my new bride and the wedding feast runs late.”
“That is no way to talk to a lady!”
Anthony raised an eyebrow. “I count myself suitably chastised.”
A quartet of minstrels began to play as they entered the dining room. Following behind was a large collection of wedding guests, again most of them not known to Sebastian. But he was distracted from trying to place the faces when he saw the spectacular arrangement on the table in front of him. The head table was draped in green silk and dressed with three large green branches decorated with peacock feathers and violets.
At either end was a gilded cage holding two turtle doves. And from a spike on the top of the cages were a host of ribbons in the colors of the Crofton crest of arms. Sebastian stared into the cage, cooing at the speckled feathers of the doves, as he and Anthony made their way to the two chairs in the middle of the table.
The guests, in sways of rich velvet and silk, took their places at the tables and stood waiting to be given permission to sit. Anthony picked up a knife and rapped it against the side of a silver candlestick until he got the silence he wanted.
“Lord and ladies, honored guests, thank you for being here today.” He raised his goblet, which Sebastian noticed was already full of red wine. “A toast to my lovely new wife. To Lady Bronwyn.”
The guests murmured their agreement, each picking up a goblet from in front of them and drinking a toast.
“Please,” said Anthony, “enjoy the feast to celebrate this special day.”
As Anthony sat, two oak doors that Sebastian hadn’t noticed before were flung open and a stream of servants entered the room carrying the platters of food for the first course of the feast. He could see a quarter of salted stag, numerous stuffed chickens, and, judging by the smell as it passed, a loin of veal. But the most amazing thing was an enormous pie, carried on the shoulders of two young men, which was set down at the end of the table. Sebastian craned his neck to watch as the crust was removed by a serious-looking woman with a silver dagger, and he gasped as a whole roe deer, a gosling, chickens, pigeons, and a rabbit were revealed, all baked together.
Sebastian was presented with a selection of the meats in thick slices by a servant, his mouth watering at the delicious smell. Picking up his knife, Sebastian made to help himself to a large chunk of rabbit when he stopped himself, having caught a glimpse of one of the ladies staring at him. He carefully cut the meat into small strips and watched woefully as Anthony speared a large piece of venison on the end of his knife and bit into it enthusiastically.
Anthony saw him, reached over, and picked up a piece of rabbit. “Come, my love, let me feed you.”
Sebastian was set to refuse, but, conscious of the wedding guests, he opened his mouth. Anthony smiled and fed him the small piece of rabbit, stroking Sebastian’s cheek with his other hand as he did so. The light touch of Anthony’s fingers made his breath hitch and his heart rate quicken. He opened his mouth wider to accept another morsel, which Anthony happily provided.
For a moment, it was as if it was just the two of them, alone. Anthony’s pupils dilated as Sebastian licked his lips, but the spell was broken as a cheer went up, and a burly man seated at the head of the table on their left called for another toast.
“That,” whispered Anthony as the guest wished the couple a successful marriage, “is Lord Tobias Tallin, one of the richest men in England. The women to his right, who disapproved of your table manners earlier, is Lady Alice, his wife.”
Sebastian nodded, not trusting his voice as Anthony rested his hand on his thigh, the heat from it radiating through the layers of his skirts. He reached out to pick up his goblet for the toast, but knocked it sideways, spilling the red wine across the silk cloth.
Sebastian was on his feet, flushed with embarrassment as the wine spread across the table. “I… I’m sorry.”
Anthony shushed him, picking up the goblet. “It is just wine. Nothing to be sorry about.”
A servant was already cleaning up the spill, and another refilled the goblet. Sebastian yelped as Anthony pulled him back so he was sitting in his lap. Sebastian looked quickly to the guests, expect them to scandalized by Anthony’s antics, but while a couple of the woman narrowed their eyes at the impropriety, most of the others were smiling and laughing at the sight. Anthony offered Sebastian his own goblet to drink from for the toast, which Sebastian accepted, unable to drag his eyes away from Anthony’s, and he thought Anthony was going to kiss him again, but instead he took the goblet back and drank deeply from it.
The next course arrived, and Sebastian attempted to sit in the empty chair, but Anthony held him firm, his arm around Sebastian’s waist preventing him from escaping. The second course was just as extravagant as the first. Silver salvers loaded with chickens and pigeons were presented to the guests, and three large sturgeons cooked with parsley joined the food parade, with the centerpiece being a whole roast boar with an apple in its mouth.
Throughout the courses, Anthony was attentive, feeding him bits of meat and sugary delicacies or stroking the back of his neck while being careful not to dislodge Sebastian’s wig as the minstrels continued to play. The food was so expensive that it would’ve been mere fantasy for him to afford during his time in the theater. Over the different courses, guests came to give their blessing, either individually or as couples. Anthony introduced each in turn, and Sebastian realized every one of them must’ve been a member of the nobility and a regular at court. But although their words sounded sincere, Sebastian could tell by their expressions or something about their eyes that they were more curious about Anthony’s choice of wife than having any real desire to wish them well in their start to married life.
There was only so much Sebastian could eat with the corset in place, and by the time the final course was finished, he had to wave away any attempt from Anthony to feed him further. The hours had bled away in a stream of faces, whose names Sebastian thought he would never remember if they were to meet again, and the constant touches of Anthony, which warmed his skin and made it very difficult to remember that their marriage was nothing more than playacting and convenience.
With a final round of toasting, Anthony guided Sebastian to his feet, and they took their leave, exiting the hall hand in hand to the applause of the wedding guests. When the large door closed behind them, they stood together at the foot of an ornate wooden staircase lit by candles.
Anthony grabbed both of his hands and kissed them. “Our wedding night awaits, if you desire it so.”
“I have never….” began Sebastian.
“That was not my question.” Anthony squeezed his hands. “Let me take care of you.”
The gentleness behind Anthony’s words and the hours he’d spent on the other man’s lap made Sebastian’s uncertainty evaporate. He nodded slowly. “Yes.”
You can also read the first chapter at the novel’s page at Dreamspinner Press. Here:
Well, I’m all of a quiver again… my historical m/m novel The Actor and the Earl is due to be released on the 30th November from DSP.
As you can imagine I’m very excited to this in print - I enjoyed writing this so much. :D
I have been incredibly lucky to have Anne Cain for an artist, and it a fabulous cover.
So I present:
The Actor and the Earl
Elizabethan actor Sebastian Hewel takes his bow at the proscenium only to embark on the role of a lifetime. When his twin sister, Bronwyn, reneges on the arrangement to marry Earl Anthony Crofton, Sebastian reluctantly takes her place. At nineteen, Sebastian knows his days as a leading lady are numbered, but with this last performance, he hopes to restore his family’s name and pay off his late father’s debts. Never mind the danger of losing his head should he be discovered.
He didn’t expect Anthony to be so charming and alluring—not to mention shrewd. While he applauds Sebastian’s plan, Anthony offers a mutually beneficial arrangement instead. Sebastian will need every drop of talent he has to survive with both his head and his heart intact, because this is the best part he’s ever had
Available to pre-order from Dreamspinner Press: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/p
Oh dear, I’ve been a bit rubbish updating lately, but better later than never, eh?
It’s been a couple of busy months. I’m beginning to gear up for the release of my historical romance novel The Actor and the Earl (due to be published in November by Dreamspinner) – the cover spec has been filled out, and I’m waiting for edits. And its sequel, Duty to the Crown, is finished and had been submitted to DSP, so I’m waiting eagerly for news of whether they accept it or not *bites nails*.
The sequel to Servitude is coming along a quite a pace as well. Idolatry is currently at 22K words, and I’m about to start playing in the parallel dimensions (very exciting – well to me!).
Believe or not it’s nearly time for the UK GLBQT Meet – 2 weeks to today – I can’t wait to be back in Blighty for it! The Lashing of Sauce Anthology is out, and it feature my F/F story Faulty Genes.
And on a more personal note, I’m very excited as we are expecting our first baby in December… we’re very happy :)
Let’s just say, 2012 is shaping up to be one hell of a year!
So Servitude has been out nearly a month and I must say it is all still a little surreal!
If you want to sign up for a chance to win a copy of the novel (ebook) then Man Oh Man reviews are running a giveaway... head on over here:
And Servitude has received a 5 star review from MM Good Book reviews:
And Jessewave gave it 4.5 stars:
All in all a pretty good start!
Now must get back to the sequel to The Actor and the Earl, which has a title… Duty to the Crown.
Being an actor isn’t a glamorous profession in Elizabethan London, but at least Sebastian Hewel isn’t risking a trip to the executioner’s block whenever he takes to the stage. However, when his twin sister Bronwyn reneges on the arrangement to marry Earl Anthony Crofton, Sebastian has no choice but to accept the role. And while he may have played a woman on stage, it doesn’t prepare him for a life as Lady Bronwyn, the wife of the charismatic Earl Crofton, a man who has quite the reputation at court. And Sebastian will need every ounce of his acting skills to survive with both his head, and his heart, intact.
Better get on with the sequel then!
With Servitude being released on the 4th June, it's shaping up to be one hell of a month :D