Review of Dear Santa, Dear Dad by T.J. Masters

Dear-Santa-for-Amazon

Amazon.co.uk

Widower Steven drives to the North of England two days before Christmas to meet his estranged son Andrew hoping for a reconciliation. Steven had rejected his son when, as a 19 year old student, he came out to his parents as being gay. Andrew now lives with his partner Peter who initiates contact with Steven by forwarding on to him the almost childlike ‘Letter to Santa’ that the lad has written asking for a father who loves him.
At first Andrew is hostile to his father’s overtures but the bad weather conspires to strand them all together over the Christmas period. Father and son both experience a steep learning curve, not helped by the father realising that his son’s lover is actually older than he is. Proximity breaks down barriers and the three men work together in the spirit of cooperation and of the season to create a Christmas experience which will change their lives for ever.

Review by HP

Dear Santa, Dear Dad, is a thoroughly charming story of family reconciliation.  When Andrew Barnes was nineteen, he came out to his family and his father Steven disowned him for it. Now that Steven is a widower, he wants to make amends. A letter he receives from Andrew’s partner Peter becomes the catalyst, sending  Steven on a trek through a snow storm, a few days before Christmas for a surprise visit to Andrew and Peter at their cottage, located outside an quiet little village in Northern England.

I’ve never been to England, but T.J. Masters did a lovely job of painting the quaint little town and I had no trouble placing myself right there alongside Steven, through whose eyes we see the story unfold.  I felt Steven’s nervousness as he first walked back into his son’s life, and his disappointment when the initial meeting didn’t go as well as he’d hoped—not that he really expected better, but he’d hoped.

Even though the reconciliation was Steven’s idea, he struggles to understand his son’s life, but the important part is that he genuinely wants to. And honestly, if it hadn’t been a struggle for him, it wouldn’t felt as real as it did.  The small cast of secondary characters are well fleshed out as well, serving to anchor the reader village life.

Dear Santa, Dear Dad, is a short, sweet, mostly light-hearted story, and a perfect afternoon read, especially for the days leading up to Christmas.

Giveaway of Dear Santa, Dear Dad by T.J. Masters

What is your earliest Christmas memory? Tell us in the comments below to enter into the giveaway for T.J. Master’s Christmas story, Dear Santa, Dear Dad. The giveaway will close on 2nd December at midday GMT.

Dear-Santa-for-Amazon

Amazon.co.uk 

Amazon.com

Blurb:

Widower Steven drives to the North of England two days before Christmas to meet his estranged son Andrew hoping for a reconciliation. Steven had rejected his son when, as a 19 year old student, he came out to his parents as being gay. Andrew now lives with his partner Peter who initiates contact with Steven by forwarding on to him the almost childlike ‘Letter to Santa’ that the lad has written asking for a father who loves him.
At first Andrew is hostile to his father’s overtures but the bad weather conspires to strand them all together over the Christmas period. Father and son both experience a steep learning curve, not helped by the father realising that his son’s lover is actually older than he is. Proximity breaks down barriers and the three men work together in the spirit of cooperation and of the season to create a Christmas experience which will change their lives for ever.

Excerpt:

I soon arrived at the gate to Stonecroft Cottage. Either side of the gate were tall dark fir trees entirely festooned in white Christmas lights. Andrew was a great one for all the trappings of Christmas and I guessed this might be his doing. Several windows glowed with the warm light from inside the cottage, and the porch around the door was also covered with more bright fairy lights. Although a city boy at heart, I could instantly see the attraction of this idyllic rural setting.

After a brief pause to take in the scene, I pushed the gate which resisted because of the snow collecting behind it. I closed it again and walked the few steps over virgin snow to the door. There was a heavy iron knocker in the middle of the old, very shiny, red painted wooden door. I knocked twice, although my heart was beating so hard I wasn’t sure if I needed to.

Suddenly a light came on over my head and the door opened. It wasn’t Andrew, but an older man about my own age and height, maybe an inch or so taller at six-one, a very trim athletic build with dark salt and pepper hair and a warm, welcoming smile.

“Hello. Can I help you?”

“I’m looking for Andrew Barnes, have I got the right place?” My rational brain had by now deserted me and was floating some place just out of reach. I looked him up and down again. He was wearing light framed glasses and was clearly fit beneath a warm check shirt and a pair of cord trousers. Could this be Andrew’s boyfriend?

“Andrew. Yes, of course. Good Lord. Mr Barnes? Sorry, I wasn’t expecting… golly. Do come in. Sorry, I’m Peter, Andrew’s partner.”

I shook the hand that reached out but I had temporarily lost the power of speech. How could I have been so stupid? My son was cohabiting with a man old enough to be his father! Why hadn’t anyone told me? Margaret, my wife, must have known but she’d said nothing. If I had felt unprepared before, I was now utterly lost and almost ready to turn and run away.

“Who is it?” came a voice from the back somewhere.

Peter called out to him, “You need to come out here for a minute.”

I heard the clatter of cutlery from what must have been the kitchen and then Andrew came through the door wiping his hands on a dishcloth.

“What’s up?” He saw me and froze as recognition descended. “Dad? What on earth are you doing here?”

“Hello, Son,” I said weakly. This wasn’t quite how I’d imagined our big reunion.

Andrew folded his arms across his chest.

“I’m your son again, am I? Why are you here?”

As I’d expected, this was not going to be easy.

Peter came to my rescue. “Let’s get inside, shall we? Let me take your jacket, Mr Barnes.”

“Thanks and please call me Steven.”

While he took my jacket and hung it by the door, Andrew just stared at me darkly. Peter moved between us and ushered me into the living room. The setting was so cosy and comfortable that I was able to relax somewhat from the ‘fight or flight’ scenario of the front doorstep

The room was larger than I had expected and was dominated by a huge fireplace with a blazing log fire. At the far end of the room was a ceiling-height Christmas tree which took up a whole corner and was covered in decorations and bright twinkling lights.

“Please sit down, Steven. Can I get you a drink?” Peter appeared genuinely welcoming at least.

“Thank you. Whatever you guys are drinking is fine.” I was still struggling to speak.

“How about a brandy to warm you up?”

“Just a small one please. I need to drive back afterwards.”

Andrew remained standing, clearly on edge and visibly annoyed at my presence in his home.

“Why are you here, Dad? Come to spoil another Christmas?” The bitterness was clear in his voice.

I had caused that. I couldn’t blame him for being angry or bitter about this whole situation, but somehow I had to convince him I wanted to resolve it. I was asking a lot because not only had I rejected him, but my selfish behaviour had prevented him from having a full relationship with his mother during the last months and weeks of her life. Margaret’s death had left a huge void at the core of the family, but before she slipped away she had charged me with sorting out the mess I had created. Would he ever forgive me for that?

There had been times recently when I felt I was hoping for too much. I had caused so much hurt that I probably didn’t deserve forgiveness or reconciliation with Andrew, but somehow I had to try. I didn’t expect instant absolution for my sins but I needed to at least present my case.

“No, Son, that’s not my intention at all. I just wanted to talk to you, then I will go away and leave you alone.”

Peter placed his hand gently on his lover’s shoulder. “Sit down, my love and just let him speak. I will go and leave you two to talk.”

“No!” Andrew snapped back, almost pleading. “Don’t go anywhere. Anything he has to say, he can say to both of us.”

Andrew sat in the dark leather Chesterfield armchair opposite me and Peter sat on the arm of the same chair. “So, how did you find us, Dad?”

“Peter kindly sent me a Christmas card and hinted I might send one to you here.”

Andrew glared at his boyfriend. “You invited him? What on earth were you thinking?”

Before Peter could answer I jumped in to defend him.

“No. No! He didn’t suggest this at all. I just got your postal address from the letter. I’m sure he sent it with the best of intentions.”

“I can’t believe you did that without telling me!” Andrew admonished Peter. He then turned to me and said, “You didn’t have to drive up here in person.”

“I’ve been a prize idiot for way too long, Son, and I need to put things right between us.”

“Don’t you think it’s a bit late for that?”

The bitterness was now sounding more like deep-seated anger.

“Your letter gave me some hope that we could patch things up,” I said, feeling like a man clinging desperately to the edge of a cliff.

“What letter? I never wrote to you.”

I looked at Peter, who now wore a pained expression.

“I passed your letter to Santa onto your dad. I was hoping it might prompt him to send you a Christmas card.”

“I can’t believe you betrayed my trust like that, Peter. How could you?”

Peter turned and placed a hand on Andrew’s shoulder. “I never meant to hurt you. I just thought it was the right thing to do.”

Andrew looked up at him sternly. “For a very intelligent man you can be really stupid sometimes!” He bounced out of the chair and stormed from the room. I stood as if to follow.

“It’s okay, let him go.” Peter slid from the arm of the chair to take Andrew’s place on the seat. I sat down again, but after a moment of silence I put my drink on the coffee table.

“I should go. I’m sorry, it was a stupid idea and I never intended to cause any trouble between you two.”

Peter looked alarmed at this. “You can’t possibly be planning on driving back to London tonight?”

“No it’s fine. I’m staying at The Centurion in the village so I can drive home tomorrow.”

Author bio:

T.J. Masters is a fifty-six-year-old author and life coach living in Hertfordshire just to the north of London, England. T.J. has shared thirty years of suburban life with his civil partner Ian, and they enjoy the love and support of T.J’s large Irish family who all live nearby. In 2009 T.J. took early retirement from a thirty-three-year school teaching career and decided to follow a new path. After qualifying as a life coach, T.J. found that he was coaching a couple of authors who were going through the process of giving birth to the book which “had always been inside them.” This rekindled T.J’s long-held desire to write and get published.

With a lifelong passion for books, learning, and the sharing of knowledge, T.J. woke up to the realization that he had stories to tell, books to write, and less than half a lifetime left to do it in. As for the kind of books he is writing… well, let’s just say that he decided to channel over thirty years of experience in the gay BDSM lifestyle into a genre where it would be most appreciated!

Alongside this passion for books and writing, T.J. also found an outlet for his inner geek and has become a great advocate for social media in various forms. Blogging has become a great outlet for T.J’s many interests including the writerly ones. The author has a website where he blogs regularly and he loves to interact with his readers and followers at http://www.tjmasters.com.

Giveaway of Goblins by Melanie Tushmore

Read on to find out how to win a paperback copy of new fantasy release Goblins!

Here’s a riddle for you, dear reader.

If you have a mysterious forest set in the heart of England…

MT1

Throw in some folklore, and magic mushrooms…

MT2

And fair folk who look like 80s goths…

MT3

Shake in some humans – a warlock, and a cavalier, to be exact! –and what would you get?

Well, in this instance, it would be Melanie Tushmore’s fantasy M/M romance, Goblins! New from LT3 Press. Goblins buy link  

MT4

 Excerpt

The rider’s foot caught in one of the stirrups as he fell, and he cried out in pain. “Midnight!” he shouted, as the beast stamped its hooves. “Stop, stop!”

“Oh dear!” the birds called. “Stupid human!”

The rider managed to free himself, and fell to the ground in a heap. The horse snorted, shaking its head, then stamped a few paces away. “Midnight!” the rider called. He shifted on the ground, trying to stand. His ankle blazed in pain; I could feel the rush of hot energy from where I sat watching. His anguished cry echoed through the trees, and the birds continued to laugh. He sat still on the forest floor, clearly stunned and unable to move. His hat had been lost, revealing a head of long, russet red hair. “Oh, no,” he murmured. “No. God … God, please. Please, help me.”

I hadn’t heard many humans speak. To me, their voices sounded thick and heavy. This voice, however, sounded light and different. I simply couldn’t help myself as I answered, “What is wrong, human?”

The rider looked about in shock, trying to see who had spoken. “W-Who’s there?”

“You asked for help, did you not?”

He still couldn’t work out where the voice had come from. Perhaps my dark feathers made me hard to pick out in the gloom but, honestly, were humans really this stupid?

“Y-Yes,” he said. “God, who are you?”

In a dramatic display—because how could I resist?—I flew down from the tree in front of him and changed into my human likeness. My legs lengthened and I stood on the ground with human feet. My wings changed into arms, my feathers smoothed into pale skin. My beak shrank into lips as I smiled at him. “Whatever I am, you may call me a god if you wish.”

His eyes bulged as he stared at me. “But y-you’re a m-man.”

I grinned, flashing my teeth. “Man, no. Male? Certainly. Would you rather me a female, human?”

“W-What?” He leant back, trying to shuffle away. I dropped forward and crawled over him. He stilled, blinking at me with large blue eyes.

Tilting my head, I stared in wonder. Never had I seen eyes like these before. I pulled back a little, taking in more of the human, close up. His face was hairless, like mine, but creamy and smooth.

Mmm. What would he taste like? I flared my nostrils, scenting him. His lips quivered, and I could smell his breath as he exhaled. He had eaten sweet meats not long ago, and drunk wine. The smell of his skin was even more enticing, damp with human sweat. The scent of fear was strong. There was something else, too; a deep, irresistible smell resting below his skin, in his blood. I longed to sniff more, to lick and taste him.

I quirked a smile. “You smell interesting.”

“W-What?” he squeaked, like a timid mouse. He blinked at me, wary, unmoving. I let my gaze rove over him, from the long red hair that framed his pretty face, down to the clothes that held his slim body. I wanted to press my face against him and smell more.

“How is your injury?” I held his eye as I moved back.

“I-I’m fine,” he said, trying to move away. A sharp wince and he stilled again.

“Come, come. Don’t be shy. Let me see.” I moved to sit by his injured ankle, lifting it gently in my clawed hands. Oh dear, claws. I’d forgotten about those. I willed my claws to retract; I was clearly too excited. Carefully, I removed the riding boot from his foot.

He gasped, wincing again. “It hurts.”

“Yes, I’m sure it does.” I glanced at the empty boot I now held, and gave into the temptation to sniff it.

“Excuse me!”

I grinned at him. “Yes?”

“What do you think you’re doing?”

“Smelling your boot. Very interesting.”

His lips pursed, and colour rushed to his cheeks. He looked deliciously indignant. I had to admit, it was a good look on him. I chuckled to myself, setting his boot aside. “Let me have a look then.” I examined his foot, then his ankle. The pain came from there, but it was only a minor sprain.

“Nothing broken,” I said, lowering his foot. “Easily mended.” I rose and strode off, looking amongst the brush.

“Wait! Where are you going?”

“Looking for plants. Have patience, human.” I located thistle-wood, linlem, and doc leaves, cradling them in my arms. I walked past the human, throwing him a smile as I approached his horse.

“What are you doing?” he demanded. “Don’t touch my horse!”

“Your horse is injured,” I said over my shoulder. “I’ll tend to him first.”

“What? The horse first?”

“Yes.”

He muttered something in response. I grinned, amused that he was so put out. A haughty tone had entered his voice, replacing his fear.

Interesting.

To make the medicine, I had to chew the linlem and thistlewood, grinding the plants to a paste in my mouth. Not terribly pleasant. Then I spat the paste onto the doc leaves. “This will help,” I whispered to the horse. It understood, and waited patiently, letting me rub its lower hind leg; a sprained muscle, not as bad as the human’s injury. With rest, it would recover soon.

With the horse seen to, I gathered my plants and returned to the human. He glared at me, his jaw set. He probably wished the look to be intimidating. As the blood pumped around his body, it gave off more of that delicious smell.

“Why, human,” I teased. “You’re pouting.”

His eyes narrowed. “I am not, sir. And I insist you address me properly.”

“Oh?” I stuffed linlem and thistle-wood into my mouth, chewing as I spoke. “And what should I call you?”

“My name is Cashel.”

“Ah.” I spat the plants into my hand, holding his blue gaze as I reached for him. He winced when I touched his ankle, but otherwise made no sound. Such a stoic little human. He pressed his lips together as I massaged the plant paste into his skin. The tendons and sinews underneath shifted with my touch, and I had to mind my claws, which had grown long again. I didn’t want to scratch him, not yet.

The plant juice mixed with my spit cooled the inflammation as I rubbed his foot. “Cashel.” I grinned, trying out his name on my tongue. “Is that better?”

“That’s enough now.” He glared, pulling his leg back. “Tell me who you are.”

I let him pull away, raising an eyebrow as I studied him. “Hmm.” I grasped the doc leaves. “Hold still, human.”

“I told you, my name is—”

“That’s not your name.”

He stilled at my words. I finished binding his ankle, then looked up at him.

“Y-Yes, it is.”

“Oh, no.” I cocked my head. “No, that’s not your name.” I would’ve been able to spell you, otherwise.

He stared back at me, silent.

“Hmm. You’re very interesting, human. You smell so heady and strong. You sound different. You’re not from here, are you?”

“I-well, no, I’m-But it doesn’t matter where I’m from!” The colour rose in his cheeks, and I could smell the blood heating him. I inhaled deeply, closing my eyes.

“Mmm. I want to lick you.”

What?” He all but shouted, shuffling back over the ground. “No! Get away from me! What the devil are you?”

I crawled after him, smiling. “You won’t get far, human. Not with that swollen ankle.”

“Stay back!” he ordered, his eyes blazing defiantly. “Stay back, or so help me—”

“Ah.” I stilled in surprise. “You’re a royal.”

The angry expression was wiped clean off his face. I knew instantly that this human would be a terrible, terrible liar. “What?” he croaked. “N-No, I’m not.”

“Mm, yes, you are.” I bent forward again, scenting him. “Who are you? A prince of humans?”

What? No, don’t be ridiculous! I’m-I’m not— ” He swallowed, then asked quietly, “Are you going to kill me?”

Buy Goblins Book 1 now!

Blurb: 

In the 17th Century, the ancient sprawl of Epping forest is bursting with magic and those who go unseen by human eyes: the elves who rule the summer court, and the goblins who rule the winter court. It is said that if a human catches the eye of one of the fey, they are either doomed or blessed.

Wulfren & the Warlock

When Wulfren wakes from a strange dream of a human captor with long silver hair, and grey eyes, his brothers tell him they rescued him from a warlock, and take Wulfren back home to the goblin king’s palace. But Wulfren isn’t so sure the matter is that simple. Why was he missing so long? What are the strange dreams of the beautiful man with the silver hair? Dalliances with humans are severely frowned upon, especially by Wulfren’s father, but Wulfren is willing to risk the scorn of his family to find the human who haunts his dreams.

Quiller & the Runaway Prince

After a hard winter, Quiller is sent deep into the forest on a family errand, and is surprised when a human stumbles into his path. Quiller swoops in to pester him, perhaps even eat him, but there is something special about the human: his scent is royal, though he protests that he is not, and soon Quiller finds himself agreeing to help the human with his troubles—in exchange for a kiss.

Goblins buy link!

Want your chance to win a free* paperback copy of Goblins?

Read on!

All you need to do is comment below with the phrase, “I’m not afraid of the goblin king!”

If you dare…

Please leave your name, and your email address written as so:

name at hotmail dot com

To be in with a chance to win Goblins in paperback (*postage free within the UK, but for overseas posting, a Paypal payment will be required!)

Draw will take place on Sunday 1st December at 6pm GMT.

Good luck!

Goblins buy link

Melanie’s website

www.melanietushmore.co.uk

Melanie’s twitter

@melanietushmore

RJ Scott’s Geography Stuff

Geography Stuff

RJ1 Did you know that only 837 miles will take you from the very bottom of England to the very tip of Scotland and would take you 14 hours approximately to drive. That gives you a scale for the size of our island. England itself, is divided into counties and the county I live in, Buckinghamshire,  is kind of in the middle near London (see black arrow on Map). Buckinghamshire, or Bucks as we shorten it to, is 606 Sq miles which is about two fifths of the size of Rhode Island. ROFL… (the size of nine District of Columbia’s put together). Buckinghamshire borders seven other counties: Middlesex, Surrey, Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Northamptonshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire. The border with Surrey is only a few miles long. My town is roughly 40miles NW of London. The population in Buckinghamshire is 644,000 people.

History Stuff

Buckinghamshire is an historic county and has been in existence since it was a subdivision of the kingdom of Wessex in the 10th century. It was formed out of about 200 communities that could between them fund a castle in Buckingham, to defend against invading Danes (looks at Pippii pointedly). During his reign, William the Conqueror (the 1066 Battle of Hastings guy!) annexed most of the manors for himself and his family. In the English Civil War (Cavaliers, Roundheads, Charles, Oliver Cromwell!) Buckinghamshire was mostly Parliamentarian, although some pockets of Royalism did exist. Some villages to the west of the county, were under constant conflict for the duration of the war. waddesdon manor The Roman road Watling Street runs across the north-east of the county through Stony Stratford, intersecting with the older Icknield Way just east of the county Bletchley Park is near the City of Milton Keynes, the site of World War II British codebreaking and Colossus, the world’s first programmable electronic digital computer. Bletchley Park Colossus Florence Nightingale was a guest at Claydon House on more than one occasion. Sir Harry Verney who lived in Claydon House was influential in the creation of railways in Buckinghamshire. Buckinghamshire is home to the world famous Pinewood Studios Silverstone Circuit – the home of British Formula 1, straddles the Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire border. New GP Circuit Trace The County Town of Buckinghamshire became Aylesbury in the sixteenth century, one possible reason for this was Henry VIII’s desire to please Anne Boleyn’s father. Thomas Boleyn was a prominent landowner in the town. RJ2 On the day World War II broke out, 4,048 London children had been evacuated to Aylesbury. The Great Train Robbery happened in this county, where raiders, back in the 60s got away with 2-and-a-half million in old bank notes In the US they have Camp David, in the UK we have Chequers, which is about five miles away from my town. It is the ‘country residence’ of British Prime Ministers since 1917. Chequers was once used as a prison for the younger sister of Lady Jane Grey. The house, also has links with Cromwell’s family, and contains many artefacts and other memorabilia related to the Lord Protector. chequers

Writery stuff

John Milton came to Chalfont St Giles, situated in the south of the county in 1665 to escape the Great Plague (along with one hell of a lot of Dukes, and Lords, and Royalty!). It was there that he completed his epic poem ‘Paradise Lost’ and begun ‘Paradise Regained’. His cottage there is his only surviving home. Roald Dahl moved to Great Missenden in the 1950s and lived there until his death in 1990. Most of his best loved novels were written in a shed he kept in his garden there. Enid Blyton lived in Beaconsfield, also in the south of the county, in a house called ‘Green Hedges’ named by her readers’ in a competition. The Bekonscot Model Village in Beaconsfield is the oldest model village on earth and inspired Enid Blyton to write about Toytown and its most famous resident Noddy? It was built in 1928 by a wealthy accountant at his country home, his wife having given an ultimatum that his model train had to leave the building. Originally a hobby and to amuse friends it was opened to the public in 1929 to great acclaim. Laudably all its profits go to charity. Mary Shelley prepared Frankenstein for publication whilst living with her new husband in Albion House, Marlow. They shared the house with Claire Clairmont and her child, Alba, fathered by Lord Byron. Terry Pratchett was born in Buckinghamshire. R.J. Scott:  About me…I live in the UK just outside London. I love reading anything from thrillers to sci-fi to horror; however, my first real love will always be the world of romance. My goal is to write stories with a heart of romance, a troubled road to reach happiness, and more than a hint of happily ever after.

Bodyguard to a Sex God

Bodyguard to a Sex God400x600

Buy Links – eBook

Love Lane Books | Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK) | All Romance | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Sony | Smashwords

Blurb:

Bodyguard Adam Freeman draws what everyone else thinks is the short straw at the convention for a procedural cop show – as bodyguard to TV actor Logan Brady. Or as the Internet has labelled him, Logan ‘Sex God’ Brady.

Logan is taking part in a convention at a London Hotel for his show ‘Night Cop’ and someone is threatening his life. Adam gets more than he bargained for when his client combines coming out of the closet with them both trying to stay alive.

Excerpt – Chapters 1 & 2

Chapter 1 
“Hey, Blondie.”
Adam Freeman showed the office manager his middle finger at the familiar and detested nickname and then crossed to the coffee machine. He was tired and just this side of irritable and Ross Jackson knew exactly which buttons to press to wind Adam up big time. Adam hoped the middle finger would be enough to get Ross to shut up, but no such luck.
“That kind of morning, eh?” Ross offered with a laugh. He sidled up to Adam and bumped shoulders, causing Adam to curse under his breath when hot coffee splashed his hand. “It’s only gonna get worse.”
Adam needed this coffee. He lived on the opposite side of London from Bodyguards Inc., and the traffic on the motorway had been murder, even this early in the morning. He couldn’t fault the premises—a converted barn on the land of the manor house Kyle Monroe had inherited six years ago. But he could definitely fault having to battle every commuter in the city just to get his briefing.
“How can anything be worse than an hour stuck on the M25?” Adam asked wryly. Then he really wished he hadn’t. Sitting down behind his immaculately tidy desk, Ross leaned back in his chair with his long legs in front of him and his hands behind his head. He was the picture of nonchalance yet had an air of knowing something that Adam didn’t.

“The M25 is nothing on this. We had a call-in,” Ross said. “You’re up on a Pretty Boy job.”
Adam closed his eyes and cursed. His absolute worst contracts involved being in charge of what Bodyguards Inc. labeled—off the record—as Pretty Boys. Actors, singers, and in a worst-case scenario, reality TV stars. Every one of them paid well, but dealing with celebrities who had more money than sense all because they epitomized ‘star’ was his idea of hell. The last job—Jesus—that X-Factor runner-up who demanded Adam call him ‘sir’. He’d kept dropping Simon Cowell’s name like he personally knew the guy. In addition, he was arrogant, narcissistic, and had the IQ of a snail. Adam was well out of that particular job.
“Not only that,” Ross continued, “but it’s a science-fiction fantasy convention gig.”
“Convention? Like Trekkies?” Adam couldn’t believe that he’d timed his life so poorly that he was going to be surrounded by people wearing fake ears and speaking Klingon.
“No, like vampires and stuff.”
Adam cursed and Ross just grinned. Bastard. “Is it too late to take some sick days?” Adam said.
“Are you sick, Adam?” The new voice belonged to Kyle, boss and owner of Bodyguards Inc. His drawling American accent was so damn sexy and for a second Adam allowed himself to stare. Adam was fascinated by Kyle’s accent, and hell, he’d let Kyle charm him using just his voice, and maybe his large hands, any day he wanted. Pity the owner of Bodyguards Inc.—or BI as Kyle called it—was so gone on Ross, despite the fact his personal assistant remained oblivious to that fact.
“No. I’m not sick,” Adam said. No point in lying. Kyle could spot a lie a mile off.
“I have a job for you. I’m guessing Ross already gave you the heads-up? Star of an American TV series over here for a convention in London. He’s been receiving threats, had a near-miss with a car trying to run him down, and also had some objects left in his trailer on set.”
“Objects?”
Kyle peered at the list. “Antique knives on two separate occasions, four deliveries of red roses with thorns intact, and one dildo.”
“So it’s a sex thing then?” Adam wasn’t surprised. Actors weren’t renowned for high moral standards. The guy involved probably slept with everyone and had encountered someone just slightly mentally unhinged. Still, that didn’t make terrorizing the man okay so Adam concentrated on the rest of the briefing.
“The network has decided he needs tracking from airport to hotel, through the convention, and out the other side to the airplane home with a handover after one week in the US. This Friday through ten days to a Monday. Good money. You want it?”
Adam considered his options here. If he could just push past the memories of past contracts with similar clients he would be fine. It crossed his mind that perhaps he should ask if there were anything else that he could do instead.
“No chance of a nice industrial threat job? Or maybe I could work the desk for a week?” The joke fell flat as Ross narrowed his eyes at the question. No one went near the desk. That was Ross’s domain and no one else’s.
Kyle shook his head. “Sorry, dude. This is the only new thing on the BI books today. Well, not exactly the only one, but Ed and Lorna both turned Pretty Boy down. So yeah, it’s mostly your decision. If you want it, say so, otherwise I’ll tell his management team no.” Kyle waited patiently for an answer, all serious and businesslike.
“Why did no one else want the job?” Adam asked, suspicious of what he’d just heard. Kyle opened his mouth and then shut it again. Evidently the other close protection agents’ reasons wouldn’t be good ones. Ross dived in to help.
“Lorna just got off a case and she’s recuperating, as you well know,” Ross explained. Like that explained why she wouldn’t take on one of her favorite kinds of cases.
“I just got off a case as well,” Adam protested. A case involving an idiot, two guns, a case full of whisky, and a week of driving all over the bloody country. Not a good one at all.
“Yes,” Ross said dryly, “but you weren’t shot at, Adam, and she was.”
“Flimsy excuse. Bullet didn’t actually hit her,” Adam pointed out with a laugh. Gallows humor always worked best in these situations. He liked Lorna a lot; the feisty redhead was fun and damn good at her job. No one wanted to see her shot. Well, apart from her ex who had been served with a restraining order. “What about Ed?” He knew he was clutching at straws. Ed had seniority at BI, having been with Kyle since it started six years ago.
“Ed said, and I quote, ‘I can’t deal with screaming fans.’” Ross shrugged. “You know he’s far too old and grumpy to deal with screaming women.”
“He’s the same age as me,” Kyle observed. He sounded affronted and Adam hid a smile.
“See? Old,” Ross joked. Adam watched the byplay with interest. His boss was so head over heels with Ross and Adam wondered how Ross could fail to see the hurt in Kyle’s eyes at the comment. Kyle was thirty-five or as near as, and Ross was only twenty-five… still, age was an irrelevant thing in Adam’s eyes. Ross was losing out; Kyle was a good man.
“I’ll take the job,” Adam said, just to break the tension. Yes, he would do this. That was his job. He could manage ten days. Kyle tore his stare away from Ross and held out the folder with the information Adam would need. Taking the folder was implicit agreement that he would accept the job.
Kyle disappeared into his office and slammed the door shut behind him. His hurt followed him like a cloud. Ross didn’t even look up from his desk.
“Why do you do that?” Adam asked.
“Do what?” Ross responded. The question was accompanied by a distracted frown.
“Go on at Kyle about his age all the time.”
Ross huffed. “It’s only a joke. He doesn’t care. Anyway, the other computer is all yours.” Evidently the discussion was over. Ross buried himself in other work, leaving Adam to get on with what he needed to do.
There was always a strictly professional brief in the folders that Ross created and Kyle handed out. However, a good Google search often highlighted elements in the case that would be useful. Adam had four days until the client’s plane landed at London Heathrow so he opened to file to build the foundation for the assignment.
Even he couldn’t help but raise his eyebrows when he saw the guy he was being assigned to look after. Logan Brady was some high-class Pretty Boy material. Twenty-nine. Brunet. Actor. Those were the basics. Adam peered at the photo; he wasn’t sure if it was just the print resolution but Logan’s eyes were really stunning and an incredibly bright blue. His hair had a soft curl to it and was in one of those short, tousled cuts. He wasn’t smiling in the photo. He had that typical shot used for publicity where he was staring moodily at something just off-camera. There was red around his mouth so Adam scratched at the photo. Nope. It wasn’t coming off the photo. Reading the label explained a lot. ‘Night Cop – Vampire, Cop. Brother, Lover. Killer, Hero. Isaac.’.
Okay. So Logan Brady played a guy called Isaac from one of these über-popular vampires-are-cool shows crossed with some kind of police procedural show. He was seriously nice eye candy. That part was going to be extremely easy to handle for ten days.
Flicking through the pack, Adam pulled out pictures of the girlfriend, a blonde-haired green-eyed beauty who clung to Logan’s arm in the photos like a limpet to a rock. Logan wasn’t smiling in any of the photos. Whether paparazzi or studio shots, he appeared to use the patented cool-vampire stare for all of them. To Adam’s eyes he just looked permanently pissed off. But then the young girls liked that kind of thing, he supposed.
A quick search had many more pictures, both the same vampire character and others going back maybe ten years to a fresh-faced Logan in some kind of teenage high school show. Adam didn’t exactly have his finger on the pulse of kids’ TV shows, nor did he watch anything with vampires in it, to be fair. But hell, if the stars all looked like this guy, then he may well change his mind. Seems vampires and pissed-off faces paid well; pictures of Logan’s house showed a small place in LA up in the hills, at least so the label to the photo said. There were paparazzi shots of Logan in his garden, Logan eating out at dinner, Logan swimming, Logan shopping. Jeez, Adam wouldn’t have been surprised to see pictures of the actor taking a shit.
The fact that the paparazzi had snapped so many photos of this TV star was no surprise to Adam. Over three-quarters of BI cases were with people in the public eye, actors, politicians, the British aristocracy, and so many other high-profile people. Adam was never sure how they coped being out there for everyone to see, but then, he guessed the money helped.
The information on the hit-and-run was sketchy. The internet had nothing apart from gossip and hearsay. Apparently a car had lost control and crossed the street, glancing the wall and coming to a stop next to Logan. Either the term ‘hit-and-run’ was not an appropriate one to use on this occasion, or the journalists hadn’t gotten the full story. Adam suspected the latter based on how the network now appeared to want to wrap their star in cotton wool.
Ross crossed over and placed sheets of paper next to the open folder. He frowned. Gone was the man who called him Blondie. In his place was serious-Ross with a focused look.
“Logan Brady’s manager sent over copies of the notes Logan’s been receiving. It’s not good. They’re all addressed to Isaac,” he said.
“The character he plays on the show,” Adam confirmed.
“Yeah. There’s also more information on the alleged hit-and-run. Logan is one lucky bastard that he wasn’t a human sandwich between two or three tons of SUV and a solid brick wall.” He left without further discussion, and curious, Adam rifled through the notes.
Words jumped out at him from the different sheets of paper; love and hate and all the emotions in between. Celebrities received threats all the time; it was almost a way of life that once you were a ‘personality’ you attracted the crazy out of the woodwork. The last case he’d worked on for the Metropolitan Police had been a stalker case and the client said she received threats just as often as she received proposals of marriage.
These notes were well written, the grammar was good, they were tidy, and Adam filed away that information as possibly useful. As to the content, there was nasty, vicious prose in one, wheedling love declarations in another, all written in the same hand and signed with the initials IR. Threats to kill Logan over some kind of relationship with an Annabelle? Adam checked the file. Annabelle wasn’t the girlfriend. A hunch had him checking the show listings. Annabelle was the heroine to Logan’s bad boy on the show, played by an actress named Marissa.
So the same guy that professed love for Logan in one letter demonstrated an equally vicious hate in the next, all because Logan’s character had kissed Annabelle in an episode. Great, so he was dealing with a total nutjob then, an irrational person with severe pretend-life issues. The car accident details Ross brought over were far more detailed than those Adam found on the internet and he spent a while looking at photos. If the car hadn’t hit a street lamp then Logan would have been seriously hurt. The driver ran but what few witnesses there were had caught sight of a woman—short, slim, with blonde hair to her waist—fleeing the scene. There were no CCTV photos, either. Apparently whoever owned Logan’s contract at the studio wanted a lid kept on things.
There was no indication that Adam had a bodyguard in the US, why did the guy’s manager think that he would need one on his visit to the UK? The probability that the perpetrator followed Adam from the US was slim. Then he reached the last note in the list. A simple two sentence missive that was written so tidily that it was a shock to read the actual words:
“I’ll be at the convention in London. I can’t wait to meet the man who is the other half of me.”
Ah. That explained the need for a bodyguard then.
“Does he have a bodyguard in the US?”
“Some kind of driver guy shadows him, but the network is getting serious and have brought someone in for you to do a handover in LA.”
“And the cops? Do they have Logan Brady under surveillance?”
“No. The agent said the cops felt it was nothing, not yet.” Adam knew where the cops were coming from, each district had a glut of certain crimes, and in LA it seemed maybe crimes against actors were the drug of choice. He knew the feeling of saying to someone, “I’m sorry, but until there is proof, until someone gets hurt, there is nothing we can do.” Still, these notes were pretty damn specific in what they were saying. As to hiring a bodyguard, BI often took on cases where the victims didn’t want police involved so that was nothing new.
“Anyway, no cops. Whoever pays Pretty Boy’s wages wants it kept low-key. A vulnerable actor makes for a shit ‘heroic, in-your-face vampire cop’ and the show is, and I quote, ‘coming up for renewal’.”
“A dead actor isn’t going to cut it much for renewal either,” Adam deadpanned.
“I checked into the initials IR; the convention organizers are cooperating but no one on their lists matches up with those initials. There are a mix of UK, European, and US fans attending the convention. Not that we can narrow it down, the letters came from the UK, tracked through to an East London PO address in Greenwich so it could be anyone already here. No addresses in the convention database match though. There are fourteen hundred attendees; it’s a big pool of bodies, eighty-five percent of them female.”
Adam looked down at the letters. Despite the statistics offered to him it would be foolish to accept at face value that a woman had written the letters. There was also no evidence that whoever wrote them would desire to drive a car straight at Logan. Nothing matched just yet and you couldn’t just cut out an entire gender based on assumption.
Ross continued, “Logan Brady is staying at the Upton Levington Manor Hotel. It’s a suite with three bedrooms so you’re sleeping there. I booked it through from tonight so whoever got the contract can get sorted.”
Adam closed the folder and knocked it once on the desktop to align the paper. A familiar buzz of excitement shot through him. Getting his teeth into a job was always a good thing. Whatever the case was.
“Good luck with your Pretty Boy, Blondie,” Ross called as Adam was leaving. A middle finger up at his friend through the glass was a nice end to the visit. He was still smiling when he reached his car over the fact he’d managed to hide Ross’s stapler again. When would the man ever learn to leave the damned thing where Adam couldn’t see it?
Chapter 2 
“You know why having a bodyguard is a bad thing, Jimmy.” Logan slumped back into the corner of the SUV seat and closed his eyes. How had it come to this? The letters had started out like a million others he received. Simple and to the point, they declared love and forever and very often included lace panties or some other random piece of clothing. He’d had wedding invites sent to him with his name next to the applicable girl or boy; hell, he’d had notes claiming babies as his. Nothing quite as disturbing as these letters, but then again, this person sending them was probably a mental patient or something. Mostly harmless. That was what he had to think otherwise he’d be jumping at his own shadow.
“Bodyguards Inc. is the best, Logan, and they are very discreet. I’m forwarding the mail to you with the details for the guy who is looking after you. He’s the most suitable they have for you apparently. He’s done a lot of these celebrity gigs. You have to know I’m paying a lot of money for the best.”
“You’re paying? Don’t you mean I’m paying?” Logan snapped. He immediately regretted the tone in his voice. Unlike a lot of industry agents, Jimmy was a good guy. “Sorry. I’m on edge.” Jimmy chose to ignore the quick outburst; he was good at doing that.
“BI has a fine reputation. I know a guy who knows the brother of a cousin to the man who runs it.”
Logan had to laugh. Jimmy knew everyone in one huge network of people. Locating a bodyguard agency via a friend of a brother of a second cousin twice-removed wouldn’t be a shock for a resourceful man like Jimmy.
“Anyway,” Jimmy continued, “we also have the new bodyguard that will be in place soon after you get back from the UK. Your English guy will be coming to the States with you to do what they call a handover. I’m guessing they’ll exchange notes.”
“Why can’t the US bodyguard start now and just go with me?”
“He’s not contracted until the first of the month, and the network wants you to have someone with local knowledge when you’re in England. This BI company will be more than suitable. And don’t forget you have Mike looking out for you up until then.”
“Great.” Logan felt tired and just this close to cancelling the UK trip. If it wasn’t for the fans he would be letting down then he may well have done so by now.
“Stacia wants to go with you. She’ll back you up. It won’t be any different than any other trip for the show. Just play the happy boyfriend and let her do her thing, and let the bodyguard do his as well.”
“I’m not taking Stacia. I won’t put her in any kind of danger.” As it was he had already begged off a dozen or so joint invites and begun to create a little media space between him and Stacia. She would stay safe that way.
“I don’t think the decision will be yours to make if she gets her way,” Jimmy pointed out.
“We were talking…” Logan wasn’t sure how to word this. “Stacia and I that is. She said Bryan isn’t doing so well with this whole her-pretending-to-be-my-girlfriend thing. Says it’s holding her back and that he loves her. Hell, he as good as proposed last weekend. Time has come to end this with her.” Bryan was a good guy, an cop who adored Stacia. He’d been damn patient for the last six months since he and Stacia had met. They had to keep their relationship a secret just so Stacia could keep making people believe she was with Logan.
Jimmy sighed. “I know that. She called me as soon as he asked her. She’ll cover you in London, but post-convention we probably need to find someone else. Talk to her, Logan, find out how she wants to deal with it. A discrete breakup with you in stages that we can filter to the internet should take care of it.”
Anxiety twisted inside Logan at the coming change in his ordered life. Stacia had been his wingman for three years now. The blonde beauty was the perfect foil for him and provided that brick wall between what he was and what he let people see. They’d met through the show. Night Cop had just entered its second season and she was brought on as a series baddie for a few episodes. She was a close friend, knew all his secrets. And he was a bankable commodity; her career had gone from strength to strength since they’d ‘gotten together’. She’d just landed a recurring role on a new comedy. Had to be a good thing for her; she deserved a good career and a man who loved her.
“Matt doesn’t have to hide,” Logan said. He couldn’t stop the sadness in his tone. He wanted what actors like Matt Bomer had. A partner he could really love, kids maybe someday, but still able to do what he loved—act. Finding another woman to be his plus one in order to keep his cover to the public at large was getting to be too much and he hated the lies.
“Then you need to make a choice,” Jimmy said patiently. Logan could probably quote word for word what his agent and closest friend was going to say. “Your decision is easy. Be honest with yourself and with everyone else, then deal with whatever happens next. You know whatever you decide, there will always be work for you and I will have your back in anything you choose to do.”
“I know you will, J, and I love you for it, man. It’s just… I’m coming up on thirty and I don’t have a clue what kind of roles will be out there for me as I age, let alone if I came out of the closet. I’m not sure I’d still get work as the ‘Sex God’ the tabloids keep labeling me as.”
“You don’t need the money,” Jimmy pointed out. “You could do what you want to do, go into directing, go back to school. Hell, Lo, you’ve been acting since you were fourteen, in public and in private. Aren’t you ready to be yourself now?”
“It’s not that easy. I can’t just decide to come out as gay.”
“You can. It’s very easy.”
“What are you saying, Jimmy? That I should make a different decision? I’ve been pretending for so long and hiding… and hell, what about Stacia? She’ll be embarrassed, humiliated.”
Jimmy chuckled. “This is Stacia we are talking about. She’s got balls of steel and she just wants you happy. We can manage this in a million ways. Call you bisexual, use the morals get-out clause in your contract. You can take some time off, decide what you really want now. And, Lo, remember…”
“What?”
“Thirty is a good age to change your life.”
Logan ended the call and he switched to his email. The mail from Jimmy with details of the bodyguard company was at the top of the list and he clicked on the link to view the attached photo. His eyes widened when he saw the cute blond in the photo. Well. Cute might just be the wrong word. The man was looking stern, there was no smile, and Logan couldn’t see the color of the man’s eyes or anything. But hell, the body and face were fine.
At least his bodyguard would provide him with some male eye candy to stare at when he was surrounded by a million and one screaming fangirls. The document described Logan as thirty-one, blond, brown eyes, five-ten, ex-cop, specialist in hand-to-hand combat. Brown eyes, eh? Logan loved brown eyes. And hell, with this guy he wouldn’t mind a little hand-to-hand combat either.
They arrived at the studio. The blacked-out windows combined with utilizing the lesser-known back entrance to the studio meant he wasn’t spotted. He loved his fans; without them he wouldn’t be where he was, and he doubted Night Cop would have been renewed past season one. Now on season five, he really considered himself fortunate for the show to have such a loyal fanbase. It was only… some of the fans were really intense and despite being six foot and more than capable of running quite fast, he wasn’t beyond being scared when large groups of screaming girls—and boys—got up in his space.
“Okay back there, Logan?”
Logan nodded to his driver. Mike was one of the only people outside Jimmy who knew the real Logan, and sitting in the back with scripts on the long drive from home to here had meant several long conversations with the burly driver. Jimmy had handpicked Mike and normally Mike would have gone to the UK with him, but his daughter was having a baby. There was no way Logan was taking the experience of being here for his daughter away from Mike. She was already six days late and the hospital wouldn’t let it go much further. If only she’d had it on time Mike would be going with him, could be the brick wall between him and the fans. But on the other hand, Mike wasn’t a trained bodyguard, he was just a big guy with a soft heart.
“Just organizing the trip to London,” he answered and waved his phone in front of him. Mike nodded in the mirror. The SUV pulled in beside a whole row of similar vehicles, and turning the engine off, the driver turned in his seat.
“Did Jimmy find someone good?” Mike looked concerned.
Logan recalled Adam Freeman’s details. Not the fact he was five ten with brown eyes and blond hair but the stuff Mike would want to know, the fact the guy was qualified to look after him.
“Adam Freeman, British and a former cop, came over from some kind of special department out of London, counterterrorism or something. He’s a specialist in hand-to-hand combat and is good at his job apparently.”
“An English Jack Bauer.” Mike smirked.
For a second a flash of his frequently used Jack Bauer fantasy slid into Logan’s thoughts, but he ruthlessly pushed it to one side. “I wish.”
They exchanged smiles. They’d done the whole ‘I wish I was going, sorry to let you down’ chat and they didn’t need to say anything else. Logan climbed down from the SUV.
“Later,” he said. Mike sketched a wave goodbye and left to park. Logan strolled through the maze of small buildings and onto lot five, exchanging hellos with anyone he crossed paths with. The LA sun was starting to heat the air and he shrugged off his jacket. Today was the final day of shooting episode ten and it was outside work right on into the night. That was what he needed, hard, physical fight scenes in the dark with fake rain. Hell, at least it would make him forget the letters and the fact that Jimmy was right. He had a meeting with the network in a couple of weeks and he needed to take that time to consider his entire future. He owed it to himself, he owed it to Stacia, and he owed it to the show.
Jimmy would back whatever he decided. This kind of support was invaluable to have from your agent. If Logan came out as gay or bi or whatever Jimmy spun for him, then he could at least stop lying. He’d need to handle it carefully. Stacia could be part of the fallout through no fault of her own and he didn’t want her to be laughed at in any way.
“Logan, makeup now; I have you with Teresa in twenty.” A harassed assistant scurried over with a clipboard in hand. “We need the post-fight scars and the tattoos and we need it for ten.”
And so it started.

Review: Bodyguard to a Sex God by RJ Scott

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Buy Links – eBook

Love Lane Books | Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK) | All Romance | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Sony | Smashwords

Review by Aurore Rose

Adam gets stuck with convention detail when he is forced on an assignment to be the bodyguard to a ‘pretty boy’, otherwise known as actor Logan Brady. Logan has received threats and was involved in a near miss ‘hit and run’ it’s Adam’s responsibility to ensure Logan’s safety on U.K. soil, but Adam has to fight his attraction for the closeted TV star.

Logan is freaking out not only from the threats to his life but to the secrets he has held for years to be able to stay on top in the television business. He has a lot of decisions to make that doesn’t impact just him, but his best friends and fellow actors as well. Everything comes to a breaking point in the U.K. and he can’t fight his attraction to Adam. However, his stalker is still lurking and their personal relationship may just stand in the way of their professional one.

Body Guard to a Sex God by Rj. Scott is crazy good. Not only are the main characters strongly written, so are the sub characters. The writing makes it very easy for the readers to feel what the characters are feeling.  This is a fun whodunit lite read that will keep you guessing until the very end. Just when you figure it out, the game changes.

The story technically takes place in only a few days. Rj Scott has written it to feel like it takes longer for things to run its course. It didn’t feel rushed even though the timeline was much shorter than the reader was made to feel.

This story gets a five star rating. If you are a fan of Rj Scott, this is a must read. If you have never read anything by Rj Scott this is a good place to start.

Rating: 5 stars

Giveaway: Clare London

I’m offering a free download of Freeman today to a lucky commenter on this blog and *also* to a commenter on the video reading. Don’t forget to leave your email address so I can contact you if you win! The giveaway will be picked on 27th November at 5pm, GMT.

 LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION 

“Look,” says Hubby with a wry smile. We’re snuggled on the sofa together, watching a movie. “It’s set in London.”

Is he psychic, you ask? A close friend of the producer? A devout follower of IMDB and/or the celebrity movie news websites? No. He’s just seen the double-decker red bus trundle past in the background LOL.

CL1

So many movies and pictures rely on triggers like that, don’t they? For London, we have the buses, the black taxis, the phone boxes (vanishing fast), the London Eye, Big Ben, TowerBridge … to be honest, we’re spoiled for choice of iconic scenes.

My recent release FREEMAN is set in London. When I first drafted it, I deliberately set it in AnyCity rather than a specific place. It was to add to the mystery of the story, the “Everyman” nature of Freeman himself. But when I re-released it earlier this year at Wilde City Press, I made it clearer that the city I used as its setting was London.

Excuse my bias towards London, but I’m living and working there, it’s the city I know best, and it fascinates me. But I’ve also written stories set in Brighton, Totnes in the south-west, Exeter, Scotland and various “alternative, no-name” cities around the British Isles.

And of course, other cities – as they say – are available! I’ve read and enjoyed many stories set in the United Kingdom that evoke marvellously the spirit of the place, its scenery, its history and the unique characteristics of its inhabitants.

Hubby and I also joke about movies set in the US, how it sometimes seems there are only 5 cities in existence – New York, Washington, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco – and they’ve been devastated by enough giant monsters / aliens / natural disasters / Decepticons to make us wonder how there’s anything left for any future features LOL. But again, in fiction, there’s the option of so many more places that can come alive in the reader’s imagination.

How do you feel about physical setting in the books you read? Do you skip over the scene-setting as background wallpaper, or does your reading act as a travel pass to exciting new places? Do you admire the author’s love for the place, or wonder just how much research they’ve done to get authenticity? How do you feel if a book features *your* place, or somewhere you know well – does it thrill or creep you out?

Let us know! As they say, it’s all about Location, Location, Location.

~~~~Clare~~~~

FREEMAN BUY LINK  

EXCLUSIVE today: this link to an extract from FREEMAN, read aloud for your entertainment!

Freeman’s return to the city is quiet, without fuss. Another client: another case. He’ll source what they need and be on his way. But he’s been missed by more people than he thought: his ex-wife, his ex-lover, and his ex-business partner. And at least one of them wants him the hell gone again.

Freeman — private, controlled – just does his job. But when he strikes up an unusual friendship with the young runaway Kit, trouble comes looking for both men, ready to expose secrets that can destroy their fragile trust. Yet, for Kit, Freeman’s more than ready for the challenge.

Clare London

Writing … Man to Man

         

Book of the Day: Once Upon a Haunted Moor

Once Upon A Haunted Moor

Gideon Frayne has spent his whole working life as a policeman in the village of Dark on Bodmin Moor. It’s not life in the fast lane, but he takes it very seriously, and his first missing-child case is eating him alive. When his own boss sends in a psychic to help with the case, he’s gutted – he’s a level-headed copper who doesn’t believe in such things, and he can’t help but think that the arrival of clairvoyant Lee Tyack is a comment on his failure to find the little girl.

But Lee is hard to hate, no matter how Gideon tries. At first Lee’s insights into the case make no sense, but he seems to have a window straight into Gideon’s heart. Son of a Methodist minister, raised in a tiny Cornish village, Gideon has hidden his sexuality for years. It’s cost him one lover, and he can’t believe it when this green-eyed newcomer stirs up old feelings and starts to exert a powerful force of attraction.

Gideon and Lee begin to work together on the case. But there are malignant forces at work in the sleepy little village of Dark, and not only human ones – Gideon is starting to wonder, against all common sense, if there might be some truth in the terrifying legend of the Bodmin Beast after all. As a misty Halloween night consumes the moor, Gideon must race against time to save not only the lost child but the man who’s begun to restore his faith in his own heart.

Excerpt:

It was dark by the time they reached the house, and Gideon was beginning to regret his impulse of hospitality. It wasn’t that Tyack had said or done anything to annoy him on the way back – fact he’d sat silently, eyes fixed on the road ahead – but what was Gideon meant to do with him all night? He could hardly run him into Bodmin to see a film or sit cosily with him in the village’s one excuse for a restaurant. The house, when he pulled open the stiff old door, didn’t help any – simply exhaled at him its air of chilly neglect. He supposed he was ashamed: his home wasn’t fit for a visitor, and nor was he…

“What the bloody hell did this?”

Gideon stopped in the hall. Tyack was motionless in the doorway, one finger pressed to the paintwork. It had still been dark when Gideon had left that morning. Either because of that or because he hadn’t wanted to, he hadn’t seen the mark. It was a deep scratch. It ran from the lintel to within two feet of the ground. It gave Gideon the coldest, most miserable sensation he’d ever experienced, as if some vile fairy story he’d been told as a child had turned out to be true. He couldn’t bear to think about it. “Kids. Twigs. I don’t know.” He stamped off into the living room. “I’m sorry the place is so perishing cold. The stove’s awkward, and if I’m not around to – ”

“My one at home is like this. I’ll have a go at it.”

“Er… right. I’ll fix us a drink if you like. I’ll stick a pizza in the oven.”

“Ta.”

Gideon left him crouched in front of the stove. Halfway to the kitchen he remembered that he’d never called the Truro HQ to check Tyack’s credentials, and he quietly let himself into the study and unhooked the landline phone.

When he emerged, his visitor was sitting on the granite hearth, and the room was full of dancing firelight. “Wow. What did you do?”

“Some damp moss was blocking the flue. I got it down.” Tyack looked up at him mildly. The dog had taken up position on the far side of the stove, and between them they looked like a pair of guardian deities in a Roman temple. “I’m not here to step on your toes, Gideon. The Truro police just honestly thought it might be worth a shot to send me here. I’ve had a bit of luck in cases like this before.”

There was no way Tyack could have heard his phone conversation from here, or even from outside the thick study door. Gideon wanted to snarl at him.You’ve had damn-all luck so far, haven’t you, unless you count wasting three hours of police time up a godforsaken hill… But that was a mote in his neighbour’s eye, and the beam in his own was killing him. He made his way blindly to a hearthside chair and sat down. “I’ve been screwing this up. I’m just a village copper, Mr Tyack – pub brawls and lost sheep.

“It’s Lee. And – they’ve sent CID men out here, haven’t they? Search-and-rescue specialists. They haven’t found her either.”

Gideon propped his elbows on his knees. He wanted the comfort of this thought, but he couldn’t allow it to himself. “I’ve been good at my job until now. But I’ve started buggering up ordinary things. Paperwork, letting Ross Jones get away with his marijuana crop. I’ve… panicked, I suppose. What if this never ends? What if they never find her?”

Tyack’s hand closed on his shoulder. “Sometimes they aren’t found.”

“Christ. I don’t think I could bear that.” Gideon kept his head down. For Tyack – Lee, his mind easily corrected him, just as he’d substituted Isolde for Kye – for Lee to be touching him like this, he must be kneeling close. Right at Gideon’s feet. “Why am I telling you all this?”

“People do tell me things. Shall I get those drinks?”

“Okay. They’re in the …”

“Sideboard, second cupboard on the left. That’s not a psychic thing – you left the door open.”

“Oh, God.” Gideon tried to rub away the remembered feel of Lee’s grasp. “I hardly touch the stuff, except…”

“Except this last week or so. And that’s not a Gideon thing, is it?”

Gideon wanted to argue. Nobody but James had had any right to know what his things were, and James had declined the pleasure. But the fact was that he’d started to combat the long nights of Lorna Kemp’s absence with a tumbler or three of scotch. He watched while Lee took out a pair of shot glasses instead, and poured them a measure each. The drink looked civilised like that somehow, companionable and sufficient. Lee handed him his glass his silence and began to look around the room, as if giving Gideon time to compose himself. He stopped in front of a photograph. “These are the Methodist parents?”

“Grandparents, actually. We come from a long line. That’s my mum and dad in the picture to the left, the one with Dark Old Chapel in the background.

“This house feels like theirs, not yours.”

The photos were the room’s sole decor. Pastor Frayne hadn’t been a harsh man – he just hadn’t seen the use of earthly comforts. “It is. I had a flat in the village, but… my father got Alzheimer’s, and they’re both living in care.” Gideon knocked his scotch back. “My ma says it’s God’s will.”

“And do you think so too?”

Gideon hesitated. He was bright enough, he knew, but his circumstances hadn’t favoured independent thought. It had taken him a long, hard time to work some things out for himself, and he wasn’t finished. When he considered this, though, he found that he was certain. “No. I think it’s a miserable, pointless disease that needs to be cured.”

“So… between these godfearing parents of yours, and being part of a police force that’s two decades behind the rest of the country in its attitudes – ”

“Don’t.” Gideon cut him off sharply. “Look – for what it’s worth, you seem like a decent guy. But…”

“But you’re getting tired of having your brains picked, and you reckon it’s only fair that I tell you some stuff in return.”

Gideon repressed a smile at the irony: Lee had fished that thought up so neatly that it might as well be flapping and wet on the hearthrug. “Something like that, maybe.”

“Fair enough. What do you want to know?”

Do you have a boyfriend? Gideon clamped his mouth shut. What the hell was the matter with him? Lee had returned to sit by the fire. He’d wrapped his arms around his knees and his skin was glowing amber in the uncertain light. Clearly he spent at least as much time on the boats as in parlours reading fortunes, and Gideon had had a lonely untouched year of it, but still… “Does it always hurt?” he asked suddenly. “When you have a – a vision, or whatever you call them?”