Coming up… my Big Fat Christmas Stories Giveaway!

I feel like I’ve been saying this a lot lately, but I really am a huge fan of Christmas romance stories. And for that reason, I’m going to be doing a fabulous 12 days of Christmas giveaway from 1st to 12th December.

There will lots of Christmas stories being given away – both my own stories and some fantastic stories by other authors (complete with mini reviews from me). So please pop round, 1st-12th December, for lots of chances to win a lovely free festive read.


Everyone is gagging for Jo Chambers' 12 days of Christmas Stories Giveaway!

Everyone is gagging for Jo Chambers’ 12 days of Christmas Stories Giveaway!

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What’s the buzz…?


It’s been a while since I released a book and suddenly it’s all happening! Last week I released Humbug and tomorrow (yikes, tomorrow!) it’s the turn of Unnatural.

Unnatural has basically been two-thirds of 2015 for me. I feel like I’ve lived with those characters for a long time (not quite as long as Murdo and David, to be sure, but still). And now, finally, I’m releasing them into the world…

Anyway, there have been reviews and blog things already and there’s more to come, so I’ve posted some links below. And also, there are giveaways in some of these places…and more giveaways to come!

Lovely reviews of Unnatural:

Recent fun Interviews and blogposts at:

And more to come at:

  • Sinfully on 24th Nov
  • Prism Book Alliance on 26th Nov
  • Joyfully Jay on 2nd Dec

I should also say that, if you entered my newsletter giveaways, I will be confirming the winners of the Humbug and Unnatural giveaways tomorrow.

EDITED TO ADD: The winners of the newsletter giveaways were Susana (Unnatural), Meital (Unnatural), Judy (Humbug) and Kathy (Wish Come True). Apologies that I’m not able to respond to each entrant individually and please note that there will be more opportunities to win copies of my books over the next couple of weeks!

And finally: I’ll be doing a big Twelve Days of Christmas Stories Giveaway in December, starting with my next release, the Wish Come True anthology, and featuring a heavenly host of very cool authors and their amazing Christmas stories. So stay tuned!


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Release day giveaway

JOANNA - humbug-f-sml

So, my friends, in celebration of the release of my Christmas story, Humbug, I will be giving away THREE copies of Humbug or (if you already have it) last year’s festive story Rest And Be Thankful, your choice.

To enter, just leave a comment telling me who your favourite character in a Christmas story is, whether book, movie or other.

Good luck!



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Humbug is out!

My Christmas novella, Humbug, is out! See buy links here.

Also, I am talking about it over at Boys In Our Books. There’s giveaways!

Also, if you like giveaways, you should totally sign up for my newsletter (look right!) because I’m issuing one on Friday with more of ’em!

JOANNA - humbug-f-sml


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Lots of stuff happening …

JOANNA - humbug-f-sml

I’ve been very remiss when it comes to updating this blog with what’s coming up – mainly because I have been seriously up against it with deadlines on a constant basis for months now. However, all my work is coming to fruition now, and I’m finally getting organised, so…now would be a great time to subscribe to my newsletter. Seriously, do it. I’m writing it now and there will be multiple giveaways in it for my multiple releases!

Release the first: Humbug, on 19th November

Release the second: Unnatural, on 24th November

Release the third: Wish Come True, on 1st December

More details re all on the Coming Up and Books pages.


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Excerpt from Unnatural…


I’ve got the final files now so it’s time for an excerpt from Iain Sinclair and James Hart’s story, which comes out in November. In this scene, a young James discovers something about Iain he hadn’t guessed before …


When he got to the end of the garden, his dancing slippers were soaked from the wet grass, but he didn’t care, just leaned on the fence and looked out over the little manmade lake his grandfather had created fifty years before, James’s favourite place on the whole estate.

He wasn’t sure how long he stood there, just looking out over the water, or when he became aware of the presence of others nearby. At first all he heard was a low chuckle of laughter, then the murmur of voices—two at least, or were there three? However many there were, the voices were male, the husky laughter they shared, low and intimate—and growing nearer. James didn’t want to see anyone, talk to anyone. He stepped back into the shadow of one of the willows that ringed the lake, hiding himself, and waited for the owners of those voices to materialise, searching his shadowy surroundings with his keen scientist’s gaze.

They emerged at last from a clump of trees twenty yards away, two figures, walking side by side. Their shirts blazed white in the darkness making James frown with puzzlement till they drew nearer and he realised they’d been swimming. The wet linen clung to their torsos, and both of them carried some bundled-up clothing under their arms.

It was Iain. Iain and, of all people, Mellick, one of the grooms. Laughing together—like equals.

James realised they were going to pass the willow he stood under. He stepped back, even further into the shadows, moving slowly and carefully so as to make no noise, obscuring himself behind the solid arching trunk of the old tree.

They didn’t notice him, just walked on, still murmuring to each other, chuckling softly now and then.

After a little while, James realised where they were going—they were making for the boathouse, growing more careful as they drew closer to the ramshackle building, both of them looking around several times before, one after the other, they entered, and the door closed behind them.

From his place in the shadows, James felt as though his breath had got stuck in his throat. Only when the two men were out of sight behind that closed door did he manage to gasp a breath. He knew what this was, or he thought he did, and now he was feeling too many things all at once. Curiosity and excitement, and anger too, that Iain had wanted this more than he wanted to be with James tonight.

But of course, this was different.

He’d suspected as soon as he’d caught that first glimpse of them emerging from the trees, heard the soft, intimate music of their voices. James might have no experience himself, but he’d heard about men who indulged in…unnatural desires. Men who did the very things that he spent hours in his bed at night trying to imagine while he stroked his aching prick.

He would never have thought that Iain would want this, though. Iain, who was so manly and vigorous. Iain, who was the most bruising horseman James knew, who could bowl anyone out at cricket. Iain, who could run faster, climb higher, swim more strongly than anyone.

Without consciously deciding to do it, James found himself walking slowly towards the boathouse, his steps carefully silent. He knew these paths like the back of his hand, had been walking them since he was a tiny boy collecting tadpoles in spring, and he made no sound as he approached the wooden structure that housed the rowing boats for the lake.

Silently, he drew closer to the single, small window. A faint glow from within told him they’d lit a candle, a reckless decision since, even standing a couple of paces back from the glass, James could make out the two men inside as they came together.

They put their arms around each other so that they stood chest to chest, and then their lips were meeting—

They were kissing each other.

James’s chest ached. He couldn’t even put a name to the feelings that rushed through him at the sight of Iain Sinclair in Mellick’s arms, kissing him with the same heated passion that James had seen between the upstairs maid and the second footman when he’d walked in on them in the stables last summer.

On the one hand, the realisation that Iain did this—this thing that James wanted to do so very badly—was like some great door of possibility opening wide.

On the other…he felt almost sick with the pain of witnessing Iain doing this with someone else.

And alongside those mingled feelings of excitement and pain, there was something else, something infinitely more physical. The crawling, insistent rise of his own arousal.

James watched, dry-mouthed, as Iain stepped back from Mellick and whipped his shirt over his head in a flash of white, revealing the broad line of his shoulders and the perfect planes of his smooth, pale back. When he stepped forwards again, he took Mellick’s face into his hands and drew him into another passionate kiss.

Oh, Jesus in heaven.

James pressed the heel of his hand over his stiffening cock, the satin of his evening breeches smooth against his skin. He shuddered and bit his lip. He was going to lose himself right here, watching this.

After another minute or so of kissing, Mellick drew his head back, flashed Iain a grin, and dropped fluidly to his knees, busying himself with unfastening Iain’s breeches while Iain rested one hand on Mellick’s shoulder in a gesture that struck James as unexpectedly tender. He’d heard men talk about sodomites, and they always made the act sound appalling. Violent and brutal. Someone being made to bend and take it. Pain and shame. Who could ever want that?

This was nothing like that.

Once Mellick had unbuttoned Iain’s placket, he glanced up again. He wasn’t grinning now, but there was still a half smile on his face and his eyelids were half-lowered, giving him a look of languid promise. Slowly, without moving his gaze from Iain’s face, he reached inside Iain’s breeches and drew out his cock.

For several of James’s frantic heartbeats, the groom simply admired Iain’s sizeable prick, his frank gaze warm, then he leaned forward, engulfing it in his mouth.

Iain’s head went back, eyes closing, lips parting in obvious pleasure.

Oh God.

James rubbed his hand over his breeches a few more times, but it wasn’t enough. With a rough exhalation that was part helpless gasp, part protest, he ripped the buttons of his own breeches open and drew out his hard shaft.

Mellick’s head was moving up and down. James couldn’t see precisely what he was doing, but it didn’t matter. He probably wouldn’t have looked if he could see. His eyes were all for Iain, for the strong arch of his throat and the abandoned, almost painfully intimate expression on his face. For the way he gripped Mellick’s shoulder with one hand and palmed the back of his head gently with the other, canting his hips forwards for more.

Oh God, Iain.

James’s hand was moving with a steady rhythm now. As he watched Iain respond to Mellick’s attentions, he felt oddly at one with him. Imagined that, somehow, Iain’s pleasure was mounting at the same pace as his own.

Strange, to feel so intimately connected to someone who didn’t even know he was there.

He saw the pleasure peak and crash through Iain’s body. Saw the way his hand tightened, knuckles whitening, on Mellick’s shoulder and his whole body seemed to go taut and still, other than his hips, which stuttered in Mellick’s firm grip. And then James’s own crisis was upon him. He bit his lip against the desire to cry out and, eyes still fixed on Iain Sinclair— now caressing Mellick’s hair with seeming affection—stroked himself to a wrenching completion, spilling his seed on the ground like an offering.


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I reader, the Italian edition


My holiday in Italy (which was amazing! See above – Cortona where we spent our second week) brought with it lots of very cool books. My kids are getting older now and the constant supervision that was needed just a couple of years ago has now let up considerably. Now I can read while they swim and play and an hour or more can go by at a time without someone needing something. It’s one of those weird ironies of parenthood that this independence I’d longed for just a short time ago now makes me feel contrarily bereft. Ah well. At least it provides me with ample reading – and listening – time.

First up on the reading front was Two Gentlemen of Altona by JA Rock and Lisa Henry. This was a fun romp. Feeb Mac meets con man Henry when Henry witnesses a murder – Mac is forced to hunt Henry down then protect him. Mac is gruff and Henry is charming and there’s a nice thread of real emotion running through the frolics. My only gripe was a certain… ahem, lack of completion in this volume. If you catch my drift. It was quite the tease.

My first audio book of the holiday was Plan B by SJD Peterson. I love this book – have read it twice – and the narration on this one is pretty good, if a little too arch at times for my liking. Having said that, this is a first person POV story and the MC, Danny, does have a distinctive voice in the book that the narrator echoes in a way that felt accurate so it does work – I guess what I’m saying is that he lost a teeny bit of likeability for me in the from-reading-to-listening transition but that’s audio books for you. All books have to pass through reader filters but to me, it feels like audiobooks have extra filters to get through.  For me, the parts of this audiobook that really took off were the dialogue sections between Danny and Lance. The narrator does a fantastic and very distinct voice for Lance and it just flows – I can’t imagine it’s easy to carry off transitions between different character voices smoothly in dialogue scenes.

My next read was a free bit of Sterek fanfic that Sam Evans pointed me to, Little Wild Animal by Lisa Henry. I’d been tweeting about teetering on the edge of the rabbit hole of Sterek fanfic just before I went on holiday (after reading one piece) so I knew this was a dangerous course of action.

It’s probably just as well I had no internet connection for a week after reading Little Wild Animal since I guzzled up this fun and touching lost boy tale in a few big gulps. I think I begin to see the lure of fanfic. The ready made characters. The possibilities that it offers, both to follow /build and to subvert. Even after reading just two (vastly different) examples, and never having watched an episode of Teenwolf, I can begin to see the blurred outline of this universe and key things about the characters: a bouncy naïveté to Stiles, a reserve and intensity to Derek. ‘S’interesting.

My next read-y book was Megan Erickson’s Trust the Focus which I liked a lot. Great friends-to-lovers coming out tale. NA. Nice, rounded characters and a road trip that rollicks along at fair old clip. I could quibble with a few things here and there but you know what? Why would I, when I enjoyed it so much? I then guzzled Kate McMurray’s first Rainbow League book, The Wind Up. For some reason, I enjoy Kate McMurray’s baseball books, despite my fundamental lack of interest in sport generally and complete and total ignorance about baseball in particular. This story was slightly different from others of hers I’ve read, being about an amateur team rather than a pro team. It was a nice and easy read, light on angst and I burned through it quickly.

On the audio front, I moved onto the second and third books in the I Spy series by Josh Lanyon. I have been eating up Lanyon’s audiobooks one by one and loving revisiting his whole oeuvre in that way. Whilst these were not my favourites, they’re still great. The narration on these ones is difficult – the poor narrator’s got to pull off a British first person POV AND a second MC with a distinct  (Shenandoah Valley) American accent. I’m guessing the narrator is actually American. Although the British accent he uses is good, I kept detecting what sounded like an American hard “a” creeping in. Of course, for all I know, the southern accent he uses for Stephen could be off but the fact is, I can’t judge the accuracy of that one so I assume it’s fine. All of which underlines that listening to an audio book is a highly subjective experience.  The general performance here (as with other Lanyons I’ve listened to) was well-matched to the book – spot-on for the flat, jaded, bleakness of Marc’s first person pov. And the voice he adopts for Stephen voice is great. Again, the tricky dialogue sections just sang.

My next read was Marie Sexton’s Shotgun. Although I liked this book, it’s main pleasure ended up being that it sent me back to revisit an earlier book in the series, Promises, which I found I enjoyed more the second time around. Loved actually. Then, as often happens on holiday, that sent me off to reread another favourite, False Start by Janey Chapel – it’s not related to Promises in any way, it’s just that I thought of it as I was reading Promises. I adore this short novella about a closeted man coming home for his college reunion and meeting up with his out ex boyfriend. Really nice writing, strong emotion and a neat, satisfying running metaphor. It’s not whack-you-round-head amazing, just a great example of a story you see a lot in MM romance done really well. I’ve read it at least 4 times now.

From what I can see, Janey Chapel hasn’t written anything new for a while :-(

My final holiday audio was Floodgates by Mary Calmes. This is classic Calmes with a loved-by-everybody-but-oblivious-to-his-own-charms pretty boy and a big, hard, superalpha cop pairing. This story also features a dickhead, cheating, handsome ex and there’s a murdering stalker too. Nice narration. I liked it a lot. Lots of standard Calmesisms that are like catnip to me. I have to admit to loving the climactic sex scene in which Cord demands Tracy’s agreement to a committed relationship using only the power of his mighty wang. There’s a great line where Tracy gasps something like “Sex talk means nothing,” and Cord replies, “It means EVERYTHING.” (my emphasis). And it’s cheesy but I love it so much! I could use that single example as a springboard into a whole new blog post about “money shot” moments like that in romance novels, both het and queer. But time, sadly, doesn’t allow.

Happy reading days.


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My next release…

…will be Unnatural, due for release by Samhain in November 2015. This is the story of Captain Iain Sinclair and James Hart, previously glimpsed in Beguiled and Seasons Pass. Blurb and cover are below and I hope to share an excerpt soon.



Captain Iain Sinclair. Perfect son, perfect soldier, hero of Waterloo. A man living a lie. The only person who really knows him is his childhood friend, scientist James Hart. But they’ve been estranged since Iain brutally destroyed their friendship following a passionate encounter. 

Iain is poised to leave the King’s service to become an undercover agent in India. Before he leaves his old life behind, he’s determined to reconcile with James. An invitation to a country house party from James’s sister provides the perfect opportunity to pin the man down. 

James has loved Iain all his life, but his years of accepting crumbs from Iain’s table are over. Forgiving Iain is one thing—restoring their friendship is quite another. 

In the face of James’s determined resistance, Iain is forced to confront his reasons for mending the wounds between them. And accept the possibility that James holds the key to his heart’s desire—if only he has the courage to reach for it.


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Why do I read romance? #167

Maybe one day I’ll definitively answer this question. Today’s attempt ventures onto new ground.

I’ve been listening a lot to Dexys’ 2012 album One Day I’m Going to Soar this week. I got this album shortly after its release and loved it. One of the things I loved about it was that it was a single theme/single story album which is always red letter for me (since I am all about theme, baby). However, in my head, it was a relationship-gone-wrong story and I never really got beyond that. I did as I usually do with it, which is to say I played it death for a few weeks (cause I tend to saturate myself with the stuff I love, you know? Roll in it. Soak in it) but I was pretty much always doing something else at the same time.

Usually writing.

Recently, though, I started walking to work a couple of times a week and I began listening to whole albums with all my attention in a way I haven’t done for quite a while.

This week I picked up One Day I’m Going to Soar and you know what I discovered? It’s not about a relationship gone wrong (though that’s part of how Kevin Rowland shows you what it is about).

It’s actually about a man discovering, and accepting, who he is.

It’s about him answering the question Who Am I?

In his case, the answer is that he’s kind of an eternal outsider who has no desire to be paired up in life or to have a family life. He wants to be free (and the exuberant “Free” at the end of the album is a superbly defiant and joyous two fingers to everyone who thinks that being single is the end if the world).

So anyway, the thing – the big exciting thought – that hit me as I listened to this album, again and again this week, was that I was reacting to this album, this story, the way I react to great romances – even though the guy ends up alone at the end. Like, I was excited by the whole thing and happy at the end and hopeful. And I was identifying, present in my shadowy way in these songs. There but not, like when I read.

It made me think again about why I read romance. It me wonder whether romance –  that core love story  – in some ways is just like setting or plot or characterisation for me? Like, it’s part of *it*( what I’m looking for) but not actually *it*.

Perhaps *my* thing, the thing I am  always looking for, is about realising or actualising the self (something I’ve sort-of blogged about before here)? Discovering – or maybe turning into – who you *really* are?

Perhaps my love of romance isn’t so much about love stories as it is about this essential identity story and it’s just that romance is the best place to find this in its purest form because romance (particularly LGBTQ romance) is so focused on that “Who am I?” question? 

This is a big idea for me and it’s giving me food for thought.

This is my (current) favourite song from the Dexys’ album, Nowhere is Home which is just so great. I particularly love the part where he talks about wanting to be “the man of my dreams” (3:45ish).

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An unexpected pleasure

So I came back from my week away and there was a note that the postman had left a parcel with my neighbour. Inside was this:


So I looked inside. There was a bookmark:


I was none the wiser. I flicked around the pages, checked the flyleaf and back copy…





Then I finally turned to the other flyleaf, and there it was:


 You see that? The top one: “Eva Clancy”

That’s me.

Now published in paperback in Japan.


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