…small-town found-family solace is also the bedrock of our fourth and final romance, TAKING STOCK (JMS Books, 280 pp., e-book, $3.99), a queer 1970s romance by A. L. Lester set in rural England. Fans of Cat Sebastian and K. J. Charles will find this book quieter but no less pleasing. Phil is a stockbroker in disgrace after his ex-boyfriend frames him for insider trading; when he retreats to a country cottage he is soon smitten by Laurie, a former runaway turned farmer just beginning to put his life together after a stroke. It’s rare to see chronic disability handled with such precision in romance — the author’s own experience certainly informs the text — and this book is open about how Laurie’s frustration makes him vulnerable as he relearns the limits of his body’s capabilities. But it is no savior narrative: Phil’s own past has enough pain in it that it feels like any rescuing is entirely mutual. It’s a delicate story, clearly told. It’s restrained but earnest; the focus on farm life (spring-fed ponds and sheep shearing!), and on rebuilding and rebirth, offers an earthy kind of hope, for whenever you feel like the world is falling to pieces around you.
I can’t really articulate how chuffed I am by this. The other three books Olivia reviews are by authors I admire immensely and it’s wonderful, and rather shocking, to be written about on the same page as both them and Cat Sebastian and K. J. Charles. Thank you so much to everyone who has bought Taking Stock. I really hope you enjoy it.
I had a lot of backstory about how Laurie’s friends dealt with his stroke that were from different POV’s and/or slowed it all down unbearably. Here, Sally, Laurie’s best friend, is talking to Patsy, who runs the Post Office.
Deleted Scene #2
“He’s going to be a handful,” Patsy Walker said to her friend Sally Beelock as she filled the tea-pot. “You’ll have trouble with him.”
Sally pulled a face. “You don’t need to tell me that,” she said. “He’s already talking about coming home and the stupid idiot can’t even stand up without help yet.”
“He’s improving though, yes?” Patsy asked.
“Yes, definitely. And it’s only been a week. They say that he needs to keep trying to move everything, his arm, his fingers, his leg, and the more he does that the more it’ll help.” She sighed. “They don’t know if it’ll all come back properly, but they say there’s a good chance.”
Patsy passed her a mug of tea and sat down opposite her at the kitchen table where she could see in to the shop. There weren’t any customers at the moment, but the early autumn day was warm and she had the outside door propped open as usual, so the bell wouldn’t ring if anyone came in and she had to keep an eye out.
“How are you managing?” she asked Sally. “It must have been a shock. He’s only what, thirty?”
“Thirty-three,” Sally said absently. “Yes. I thought that was curtains for him to be honest, Pat. Jimmy came down to get me at Carsters once the ambulance had gone. He didn’t tell me much, just said I should get into the hospital. Apparently he was unconscious, pretty much.”
Patsy patted her hand. “Well, he’s going to be fine, love. You’ll see. Look at Roger Chedzoy. He had a stroke four years ago and you’d never really know to look at him now.”
“He’s sixty-three though,” Sally said. “I mean, there’s never a good age, is there? But Laurie’s so young.”
Patsy nodded. “And that means he’s got more fight in him and he’ll get over it quickly. You’ll see.”
Apologies for the utter, utter lack of blogging–my brain has truly not been in the game over the last few months. The Post-Lockdown, New-Me routine is aiming to post something every Tuesday if everything works out with the kids going back to school etc.. And as a first post… DRUM ROLL…
Taking Stock is coming on 19th September!
It’s 1972 and Laurie is a farmer with a problem. He’s had a stroke and he can’t work his farm alone any more. Phil is running away from London and the professional suspicion that surrounds him at his City job. They’re both alone and unsure what the future holds. Can they forge a new life together with their makeshift found family in Laurie’s little village?