Nine Ladies Dancing

Bleak Midwinter Quiltbag Funfest!

I should have done this yesterday for the Nine Ladies Dancing day of The Bleak Midwinter Quiltbag Funfest over at Quiltbag Historicals, but as usual I’m a day late, if not a dollar short. Jones, who is not really a lady, trying to wriggle out of dancing at Lady’s Nailsbourne’s ball, near the beginning of The Flowers of Time.

Do bob on over to the facebook group if you have a moment and like queer historical fiction. Different writers are posting snippets of their work for all the twelve days, and there’s an eighteen-book giveaway draw ending on the 6th of January.

Lady Nailsbourne’s Ball

The ballroom was sweltering. Jones went to push her hair off her face and then remembered and stopped. Her feet hurt in the ridiculous tiny shoes and the corset was pinching her. Her long gloves were making her elbows itch.

The Flowers of Time

Although that might have been the conversation.

She gritted her teeth and nodded once again to the young man who was attempting to engage her interest with a tale of his morning’s fox hunt. “How fascinating!” she attempted to simper. Her simpering skills clearly needed work, because he flinched.

Luckily at that point, the music stopped. They bowed to each other with ill-disguised relief and then Jones remembered she was supposed to curtsy. Too late now. He held out an arm and she took it delicately in order to be escorted back to her chaperon.

She disguised a snort.

Fat lot of good Aunt Caroline would do to protect Jones’ virtue.

Despite herself though, she smiled at the older woman as she rejoined her small group of older ladies. Her escort, Mr Danvers, handed her off with a mutter about going to get her some punch.

She hated punch.

Aunt Caroline gave her a nervous smile. “Frances, my dear! You looked so graceful. Your partner was clearly extremely taken with you!”

Jones raised an eyebrow at her. Her aunt patted her arm in subtle admonishment and hissed. “Stop that! Nice young ladies do not raise their eyebrows! Especially one eyebrow at a time!” before replastering the smile on to her face.

This wasn’t working. She’d known it wouldn’t work and she’d told them it wouldn’t work. But she’d promised Pater that she’d try and she always kept her promises.

Danvers returned with the punch and presented it to her as if he had pulled a rabbit out of a hat and expected applause. She thanked him politely and he retreated, clearly as relieved as she that his obligation to her had been discharged.

“Aunt, I need some fresh air, I think. May I go out to the gardens? Or to the terrace?” The ballroom had been hot with the heat of hundreds of wax candles in the chandeliers when their party had arrived and as the space had filled and the dancing started, the temperature and the odour had risen and risen.

“My dear girl, of course you may. Do you wish for company?” Her ringlets trembled a little as she raised her lorgnettes and peered through them inquisitively. Aunt Caroline was positively cheering for Jones to be importuned into a compromising position by a likely young gentleman and so to have her married off before the season ended.

It was the point of the whole exercise.

“I’ll be fine, Aunt. Only for a few minutes.”

“I believe the terrace is that way.” Aunt Caroline pointed with her glasses and Jones began to make her way through the crush to the large open doors, attempting not to slop her punch onto her gloves. People were sorting out partners for the next dance and she avoided making eye contact with anyone as she moved forward through the jostling crowd. The musicians kept the music going…a piece by Bach, she thought. The music was actually outstanding, a small positive in what was an exceedingly trying evening.

It was a blessed relief to step into the cooler air of the terrace. There were liveried footmen standing on either side of each of the tall French windows that let on to the terrace. They didn’t return her small smile. She wasn’t comfortable here. Ignoring the servants might be the done thing in polite society, but it went against all her instincts.

She smoothed the fine silk of her dress down her middle in a nervous gesture she couldn’t quite suppress and stepped past them out in to the cool of the night. It wasn’t actually all that dark…there were lanterns at strategic intervals along the retaining wall that threw pools of soft light that didn’t quite meet between the sconces. Lady Nailsbourne had had her gardeners place potted trees and bushes all along the expanse. It was lovely. A perfect place for a romantic liaison, should she be seeking one.

Which she was not.

Buy The Flowers of Time

The Flowers of Time. A non-binary explorer. A determined lady botanist. Mystery, monsters and romance in the 1780s Himalayas.

October’s Giveaway: Audiobooks

Right then. I’ve decided I’m doing a New Thing ™. Each month, I’m going to to a giveaway draw that runs for a whole month, with the winner selected on the 1st of the following month.

So this month, October 2020, I have copies of all three of the current Lost in Time audiobooks to give away, with either US or UK codes. To enter, go to the KingSumo sign-up page. You can just leave me your email address, or for more chances to win, share the post or follow me on insta or twitter–you know the drill. I won’t be using the email addresses for anything other than selecting the winner–the KingSumo thing does that for me–so if you want to be notified of future draws, please either keep an eye on my social media or join up to the newsletter or my Lester Towers facebook group.

You can hear a sample of the narration for each one here on my YouTube channel (which I would like admiring looks for, please, because honestly, although I used to work in cutting-edge IT, that was twenty-five years ago and I feel like I’m drowning these days). You can click through to buy-links from there if you don’t want to wait until November and see whether you’ve won!

Callum is currently working on Inheritance of Shadows and he is going to try to fit Taking Stock and The Hunted & the Hind in during the first part of 2021.

I know I keep banging on about it, but I am so pleased with the work of both narrators. They have caught the sense of both the stories and my characters perfectly and are really a joy to listen to.

Come and chat to me!

As I may have mentioned in passing (SNORT), Taking Stock is out tomorrow. I am dropping in to chat to a few places over the next day or two, so please do come along and say hello!

8.20 to 8.40pm BST (15.20 EST): Bryce Winters’s Wildflowers. Bryce also has a release, today! So I’m popping in there for a bit to chat.

9 to 10pm BST (4pm EST) I’m at the Talking RoMMance with a British Accent group! I’m considering doing a reading. Maybe. If the kids have gone to bed. Perhaps.

Tomorrow the 19th, I’m at QueerRomanceInk from 9pm BST (4pm EST) for an hour for a chat. Sarcasm and prizes!

Plus, I have five copies of Inheritance of Shadows to give away to celebrate! Join up here!

a giveaway

In the spirit of being a marketing supremo, I have set up a giveaway of five copies of Inheritance of Shadows to celebrate the launch of Taking Stock. It runs from now until midnight on the 19th of September and the more you do the clicky thing the more chances you have to win.

Inheritance of Shadows is set fifty years before Taking Stock on Webber’s Farm in 1919. You can meet Matty, Laurie’s uncle, and his friend Rob. They are both dealing with the aftermath of the Great War whilst investigating the peculiar way Matty’s brother Arthur died and why Matty is getting sicker and sicker.

You can pre-order Taking Stock from JMS Books here, or wait until we have Amazon pre-orders in a week or two.

Finally… look at the lovely map Elin drew me of the farm!

release day! The Flowers of Time

Today is the book-birthday of The Flowers of Time!

You can find the buy-link and read all about the book here…there’s an excerpt and a clip of me reading it.

Plus, to celebrate the launch I am off on a blog-tour over the next ten days. You can see the schedule below and the things I’ll be talking about.

I’m also hosting some lovely people here on own site to talk about magic, gender and journeys (not necessarily all at once!) in their own books. I’ll be putting a post up introducing them tomorrow.

Today though, I am over at Queer Sci-Fi, answering questions about my writing process. And other things. Because otherwise that would make for a short interview! Thank you so much to the QSF guys for hosting me.

Finally…scroll down to enter the Rafflecopter draw for a universal e-reader cover and a leather-bound notebook, not at all unlike the book in the story!

This week you can find me at:
a Rafflecopter giveaway