Taking Stock: sneak preview

Since it’s not yet available on the wizzy Amazon-viewer thing, I thought you might like a sneak preview of the first chapter of Taking Stock!

Chapter 1: Betrayal

September, 1971

“What?” Phil said. “You thought I wouldn’t mind?” He swallowed roughly. “We’ve been together for over a year, Richard. There’s some expectation of loyalty comes with that. I would have thought.” He looked at the younger man stood in the center of his cream living room carpet. “Or perhaps not.”

Richard didn’t even have the grace to look ashamed. “It wasn’t anything, Phil. You’re being stupid. I sucked him off, that was all.” He didn’t even blush. He looked irritated, if anything. “You’re being very unreasonable.”

“You’ve been living here for nearly twelve months. You didn’t think that the assumption would be of monogamy?”

Richard made a dismissive huffing noise and shrugged. “That’s not how it’s done, Phil my dear. Not these days. You’re delightfully old fashioned in some ways, but you’re being very stick in the mud about this.”

Phil shut his eyes for a moment. “It’s not the first time then?”

Richard waved his hand in a dramatic gesture, the tight sleeve of his orange and brown striped shirt flexing along with it. “Leave it, won’t you. It’s not important.”

“Not important to you? Or not important to me? Because I assure you I think it’s important. It’s very important. Richard.” He swallowed. “I… I’ve come to care for you.”

Richard raised an eyebrow. “My dear Phil. Is this a declaration? How thrilling! Do go on.”

Phil said nothing. Clearly he had been barking up the wrong tree. He shoved his hands deep into the pockets of his trousers and turned away to look out of the inverted arched window at the lake. There were some ducks shagging enthusiastically on the edge of his view. More than what’s going on in here, he thought, dismally. No more shagging for me.

Richard had joined the firm eighteen months ago as a junior in Phil’s department and had quickly made his interest in Phil clear. Oh, he was discreet at work…the rough and tumble of the trading floor wasn’t tolerant of anyone who didn’t follow the public-school rugger-bugger stereotype. He’d made it clear that he was interested in Phil though. Phil’s friend Peter had pointed it out to him first. Phil was usually a bit slow on the uptake.

“You want to watch that one,” he’d said one evening as they were sat, backs to the bar, watching the younger traders horse around at a table on the other side of the room. “He’s trouble. And he likes you.”

Phil looked at him. “He likes me? What do you mean?”

Peter glanced at him. “You know what I mean. He likes you. Didn’t you notice him flirting when he came up to get his round in? You could take him home tonight if you wanted to.” He took a swig of his beer. “Bet he sucks cock like a Hoover,” he said wistfully.

You take him home if you feel like that about him,” Phil said, slightly acerbically. He could never tell when someone was coming on to him.

“Nah mate, I’ve got enough on my hands already.” He nodded toward one of the other young men at the same table. “Hips like a snake. And he knows how to use ‘em.”

Phil blushed. Peter was a lot more open about his partners than he was and always had been, even before the change in the law. Phil was never going to out himself to anyone other than his closest friends.

The next time Richard came up to the bar, Phil returned his smile. “Let me buy you a drink?” he asked.

“Sure,” the younger man replied.

And that was that. A few weeks later he had moved into Phil’s spacious flat in the middle of the city and he’d been here ever since. Apparently using it as a base to bring blokes to suck off on his days off while Phil was at work.

Not good.

“I’d like you to leave,” Phil said, turning back toward him. “Pack a suitcase. You can come back for the rest of your things another day.”

“What?! Are you serious!” Richard’s voice rose in both pitch and volume. “Phil, darling, it really didn’t mean anything! It’s you I want to be with!”

“But I don’t want to be with you. You’ve been lying to me and you’ve been bringing people I don’t know here for sex behind my back. I can’t live like that.”

“I’ll stop! I promise!” Richard’s voice was tearful.

“Rich. Please. Don’t…make this any harder than it is.” Phil turned away again. The ducks were still shagging. It looked like the lady duck was drowning. “Please just go. And leave me your key. You can stay with Peter or someone tonight; you’ve got lots of friends. I just…can’t.” His heart hurt. Richard’s sobbing cut him to the quick.

“You bastard!” Richard spat out. “I didn’t have to move in here with you, you know! It was you who asked me!”

“And now I’m asking you to move out.” Phil folded his arms. He was having trouble holding on to his composure. “I’ll ring Peter now and ask him if you can stay there tonight. He’s got a spare room.”

He moved out to the hallway and picked up the telephone. “You can pack some clothes while I do it.”

And that was that. Just over a year of unwedded bliss destroyed by another man’s underpants left in the bathroom.

Ofelia Grand: Quinny, Focus!

Let’s welcome Ofelia Grand today, to talk about her new release, Quinny, Focus! about love in the time of social distancing!

Thank you for having me here today. I thought I’d swing by and talk a little about my newest release, Quinny, Focus!

2020 Happened and the World Changed

Don’t worry, I’m not gonna get political. We all know what state the world is in, we’re all suffering in one way or another, and we’re all trying to cope with the situation at hand. For me personally, the pandemic has meant a lot more time to write than normal since I only work a handful of hours a week at my day job—if that. It is what it is, and I’m blessed. I’m a writer which means, for a few hours every day, I escape reality and live in whatever world I’m creating. Normal years, I write a lot of paranormal stories, and I’ve written some this year too, but I’ve mostly written contemporary—contemporary like it was in 2019. I’ve comforted myself by dropping my characters into a world that’s familiar to me.

With Quinny, Focus! that’s changed. JMS-Books came out with an in-house call, requesting short stories that tackle the challenge of finding love when you have to stay six feet apart.

How do you date while staying six feet apart?

I thought it would be fun to explore, so I came up with Quincy Dean, a twenty-sixyear-old man who’s lusting for his neighbour. Now, there is one thing you need to know about Quincy—he’s not the most observant person in the world. He should know better, but don’t judge him too harshly.

Excerpt:

For a second, Quincy was at a loss for words. “You want a relationship?”
“Of course not! Have you seen the offerings out there?”
“You hang around the wrong places.”
“I haven’t left my apartment in months.”
Quincy bit his lip. “True, but when all this is over. Do me a favor and don’t go to The Blue Horse to hook up.”
The Blue Horse was a small pub with rainbow wallpaper and sculptures of two huge, blue horses by the entrance and a few blue horses, though smaller, inside. Subtle it was not, and the clientele matched the decor.
“Why? If I want to score, I know I will if I go there.”
“Yes, but it’s a risk going there without wearing bio-hazard clothing.” Quincy shot to his feet as there was movement in the window across the yard.
“Sweetheart, right now you need bio-hazard clothing wherever you go. Do you have a face mask matching your outfit?”
Quincy squinted, the sun was reflecting on the glass, but was there someone else in Will’s apartment?
“Quinny?”
Quincy raised a hand to shield the sun, but it didn’t help the reflection.
“Quincy!”
He jumped. “Yes, sorry, I’m here.”
“Are you?”
“Ty, I need to go. I think there’s someone in Will’s apartment.” He was about to disconnect when Ty shouted at him.
He held the phone away while trying to see what Will was up to. When Ty had quieted, he brought it back to his ear. “What?”
“Don’t do anything stupid! I swear to God, you have the brain capacity of a fouryear-old.”
“I do not.” Though he pouted like one. “And what if I do? I like my men a little older than me.”
Ty snorted. “Older? Will is twenty-nine.”
“Thirty-one.”
The sigh traveling the line made Quincy frown.
“If you Google his address, it lists his birth date. He’s twenty-nine. You’re twenty-six, love.”
“Yes, but I look twenty-two.”
A breath-long silence followed, then Ty spoke again. “I give up.”
“What, no, you can’t give up on me.”
Ty chuckled. “Don’t do anything stupid, Quinny.”
“Stop calling me that.”
Ty made a noise, could be affirmative, but Quincy didn’t dare hope. “Does he know you live across from him?”
“I assume…” Did he, though?
“You haven’t told him?” Ty’s voice grew in volume.
“Well, I assumed… I know who he is, he must know who I am. There aren’t many people named Quincy Dean in the world, he has to know it’s me.” He frowned for a second then shook his head. Of course, Will knew it was him he was talking to. “Who flirts with strangers online?”
Ty laughed. It started like a surprised chuckle, but it grew and grew until Quincy wanted to tell him to shut up.
“What?”
“Oh, dear. You are priceless.”
Quincy snorted.
“Okay.” Ty blew out a breath. “Do me a favor and don’t do anything that will give him cause to call the police about a stalker in the neighboring house, okay?”
“I’m not stalking him. I just want to know if he has company over there. Why would he allow anyone inside his apartment?” He pressed his nose against the window glass and squinted at the light. “I think it’s a woman. Sure looks like long hair.”
“Quinny! Stop it.”
“But it’s soon time for our three o’clock coffee.” Was Will having coffee with someone else today? He hadn’t mentioned it when they’ve talked over breakfast.
“Sweetie, maybe it’s his sister, maybe something happened, maybe it was a surprise visit and—”
“They’re not six feet apart! He’s giving her a hug.”
Ty sighed. “As I said, maybe something happened. Maybe, there was an accident, someone in the family might have gotten…sick.”
Quincy swallowed. Shit. “Yeah, you’re right.”
“I know, I am.”
Maybe something had happened, and Will was comforting his sister. Quincy would have to be there for him now.

Quinny, Focus!

Quincy Dean is one lucky guy. After months of virtual flirting, he’s convinced the man of his dreams is living next door. True, they’ve never spoken face-to-face, and William Johnson has never posted a picture of himself, but how many William Johnson’s could there be? Quincy is positive the two of them would be great together. But if he’s ever going to get the chance to convince Will of that fact, he’s going to need to do it before his perfect man figures out he’s too good for Quincy’s little corner of Whiteport and disappears from his real life forever.


But how do you woo someone when you have to stay six feet apart? Direct messages are great, but they aren’t very romantic. And when Quincy begins to notice that Will’s messages don’t always match up with what he’s seeing through his blinds, he worries that even online he and his dream guy are drifting apart. Six feet or not, it might be time to ask Will out on a date.

About Ofelia Gränd

Ofelia Gränd is Swedish, which often shines through in her stories. She likes to write about everyday people ending up in not-so-everyday situations, and hopefully also getting out of them. She writes romance, contemporary, paranormal, Sci-Fi and whatever else catches her fancy. Her books are written for readers who want to take a break from their everyday life for an hour or two.
When Ofelia manages to tear herself from the screen and sneak away from her husband and children, she likes to take walks in the woods…if she’s lucky she finds her way back home again.

Website : Newsletter : Facebook Page : Facebook Group : Pinterest : Instagram

interview: Charlie Cochrane

Today the lovely Charlie Cochrane is here to talk about her Cambridge Fellows, Jony and Orlando, her Lindenshaw mysteries and all sorts of other things, too!

So, Charlie, why are you ACTUALLY doing this interview? Apart from satisfying my nosiness!

Just for fun, of course, and because you’re someone I enjoy chatting to. Endearingly dotty, just like I am.

Having said that, I’m presently working on the next Cambridge Fellows mystery, so I thought it might be nice to give my sets of sleuths a bit of a mention. There’s Jonty and Orlando (the aforementioned Cambridge Fellows) whose romantic mystery adventures take place in the early 20th century. Despite the fact their first adventure came out in 2008, they always have new readers discovering them. If one of them drops me a message about that, it always makes my day!

Then I have the Lindenshaw series, which is contemporary and a sort of Midsomer Murders/gay romance crossover. Last, but not least, there’s my 1950s actor laddies who play Holmes and Watson both onscreen and off.

What started you writing?

I’ve always made up stories, either to amuse myself or my daughters. It seemed natural, once I had a bit of time to write, to start cutting my teeth on a wider audience. (Lordy, you sound like a vampire, Charlie.) Like many authors I know, I started by dabbling in fanfiction, which was a safe place in which to learn and hone the craft of writing.

I was specifically inspired to write the Cambridge Fellows stories by my love of Golden Age mysteries and the fact that there really needed to be some of them with gay characters. I couldn’t find any—well, no overt ones—so I had to create my own.

Where do you write?

Primarily in our study. While I can scribble things in a notepad almost anywhere, if it’s ‘proper’ drafting or editing, then I have to be either at the desk on the PC or working on my laptop in the dining room. When we were in lockdown I had to sometimes make do with my third option, which is at the breakfast bar in the kitchen, although that usually means covering over whatever jigsaw we have going! (Mad, crazy rock and roll life of the author…)

What do you like to read?

Loads of stuff. From WE Johns’ Biggles books, to non-fiction about the soldiers of World War One, through Golden Age mysteries, a smidge of gay historical romances and – when I can get hold of them – old ‘Victor Book for Boys’ annuals. I have binge read phases, where I work through everything I can get my hands on from a particular author. Patrick O’Brian and Jerome K Jerome are two examples of authors with whom I’ve gone on a reading bender.

I actually began reading before I started school by borrowing my big brother’s comics – The Victor, The Hornet, Superman and Batman DC comics. They were so full of action, with strongly drawn characters and plot lines. So much better than girls’ comics of the time. It’s no wonder I find it natural to write about men…

What are the three books you’d take to a desert island? Why would you choose them?

Mary Renault The Charioteer (original version). I reread this book every year and try to imagine what happened next to the three main characters, ending up with many variations on happy and not so happy endings. It’s a little gem of a story: Renault can say more in one word than many authors can in a page.

Michael Innes Death at the President’s Lodging. Again, a book I reread every year, it being a beautifully constructed mystery with several incredibly slashy scenes. There’s also something rather spooky about the book. It was written in the 1930’s, set in a fictional Oxbridge university, geographically half-way between Oxford and Cambridge. It’s location? Bletchley. Which is weird, given what would be happening there a handful of years later.

A book of Shakespeare’s sonnets. Plenty of food for slashy thought there and I guess I’d have plenty of time to study them on that island.

Writing is an intrinsically solo occupation. Do you belong to any groups or associations, either online or in the ‘real’ world? How does that work for you?

Yes I do and how does that work for me? It seems to involve a lot of raising of my volunteering arm! I’m a member of:

Romantic Novelists Association: which is mainly online at present but in normal times involves yer actual meetings. I’m the local chapter rep and have also been helping to assess pitches for their new online learning sessions.

Mystery People: this organisation was crucial in my involvement with The Deadly Dames and getting us started with the various gigs we’ve done at libraries, literary festivals and conferences. As you say, writing is a solo job and these days is mainly online, so getting out and doing these events, meeting other authors and readers, is a lifeline to normality.

International Thriller Writers: like the other groups, that’s involved a mixture of meetups and online activities. I regularly conduct interviews for their Magazine The Big Thrill with authors who have upcoming releases—through that I was introduced to the amazing Vaseem Khan Baby Ganesha books.

Oh, and I’m also on the organising committee for UK Meet…

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I like watching sport (on telly or, in normal times, live). I especially enjoy rugby but cricket and golf are pretty cool, too. I like the theatre, concerts, walking and playing indoor bowls—and if there’s a bingo night at hubby’s golf club, I’m in like Flynn. I’m also an active member of my local church. (Like I said, wild lifestyle.)

In terms of new things, during lockdown I’ve learned a lot about applying for grants, for example from the National Lottery, although that’s with my charity board hat on. I appear to have lots of hats…

Tell me a little bit about your most recent release. What gave you the idea for it? How long did it take to write? What did you enjoy about writing it? What did you hate?

My most recent release was the fifth Lindenshaw Mystery, A Carriage of Misjustice. The first book in the series began life as a script idea for Midsomer Murders and—long story short—metamorphosed into a cosy English mystery with a gay couple (cop and teacher) at its heart.

In a similar way, elements from A Carriage of Misjustice started off as an abortive romance story, based around a player suffering a life-changing injury at a rugby training session. It didn’t work, so I cannibalised the setting, with a murder happening on the same evening the injury occurred. While the romance was a non-starter, the murder plot flew along. It also involved me doing the best ever bit of research, contacting a company to find out what the item they manufactured was made of and whether you could kill someone with it.

A Carriage of Misjustice

Murder doesn’t care if you’re a newlywed.

Detective Chief Inspector Robin Bright and Deputy Headteacher Adam Matthews have just tied the knot, and all they want to do is sink into blissful domesticity. Unfortunately, there’s no chance of that when a chilling murder at a rugby ground takes Robin miles away to help his old boss solve it.

The mystery seems impossible to crack. Everyone with a motive has an alibi, and those without alibis don’t have a motive. Robin’s determined that this won’t be the case he’s unable to unravel. Not when he’s got his old boss to impress and a new team to lick into shape.

Back at home, Adam joins a fundraising choir to keep himself occupied. Surely a case that’s so far away won’t draw him in this time? Fate has other ideas, though, and danger turns up—quite literally—on his doorstep. He’ll need Campbell the Newfoundland for both company and protection this time around. 

Find Charlie!

:: Website : Blog : FB : Twitter : Goodreads : Email ::

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!

Lost in Time audiobook!

The audio version of Lost in Time is now available on Audible! I am so, so excited. Callum Hale has done a wonderful job and you can hear a sample and/or buy a copy here. His quintessential British accent brings it all to life!

:: Grumpy detectives : magic : frustrated newspaper photographers : time-travel : suspense : 1920s London : gay romance ::

Lew Rogers’s life is pleasantly boring until his friend Mira messes with magic she doesn’t understand. While searching for her, he’s pulled back in time to 1919 by a catastrophic magical accident. As he tries to navigate a strange time and find his friend in the smoky music clubs of Soho, the last thing he needs is Detective Alec Carter suspecting him of murder.

London in 1919 is cold, wet, and tired from four years of war. Alec is back in the Metropolitan Police after slogging out his army service on the Western Front. Falling for a suspect in a gruesome murder case is not on his agenda, however attractive he finds the other man.

Both men are floundering and out of their depth, struggling to come to terms with feelings they didn’t ask for and didn’t expect. Both have secrets that could get them arrested or killed. In the middle of a murder investigation that involves wild magic, mysterious creatures, and illegal sexual desire, who is safe to trust?

Audible UK : Audible US