Don’t be a stranger








Next weekend, I’m doing something new and different for me: I’m going to the UK GLBT fiction meet in Bristol.

I’ve been to conferences before, but not writing-related conferences. And not, crucially, as me, only than as a representative of someone or something else.

Never, never with the expectation (or at least, hope) of enjoying myself.

I’m going to this conference as an author, but I’m going as a reader too. There are some writers I really adore going: Jordan Castillo Price, Harper Fox, K J Charles, J L Merrow – loads of others too. People I just want to say ‘thanks’ too. And ‘how did you get that idea?’ And quiz them about their process.

I also want to talk to readers, as fellow readers. I want to talk about the stuff I like to read and what drives me insane and what just *gets* me right in the gut. Why I read what I read. The compulsion of it, and the pleasure. The ‘money shots’ of romance and why they are powerful. The best reading moments I’ve experienced. What reading means to me. Actually, more than anything, I think it’s this that I look forward to.

I’ve been experiencing that back and forth through the online romance community for the last 7 or 8 years. More than anything else, it was that that got me (and kept me) writing, so to have these conversations face to face will be the greatest of all treats.

I’ve never met any of the other attendees of this conference in real life and that’s a wee bit daunting but I’m packing two pairs of big girl pants to be safe. Two pairs of big girl pants and 150 swag bag thingys and a handful (literally an handful) of copies of Provoked in print.

I’ll see you there, maybe.

Don’t be a stranger, ok?

Enlightened – blurb and excerpt

I’m excited to share the blurb for the final book in the Enlightenment series along with an excerpt!



Five months ago, David Lauriston was badly hurt helping his friend Elizabeth escape her violent husband. Since then, David has been living with his lover, Lord Murdo Balfour, while he recuperates.

Despite the pain of his injuries, David’s time with Murdo has been the happiest of his life. The only things that trouble him are Murdo’s occasional bouts of preoccupation, and the fact that one day soon, David will have to return to his legal practice in Edinburgh.

That day comes too soon when David’s friend and mentor takes to his deathbed, and David finds himself agreeing to take on a private mission in London. Murdo is at his side in the journey, but a shocking revelation by Murdo’s ruthless father leaves David questioning everything they’ve shared.

As tensions mount and the stakes grow higher, David and Murdo are forced to ask themselves how far they’re prepared to go—and how much they’re prepared to give up— to stay together. And whether there’s any chance of lasting happiness for men like them.



While David undid the buttons of his breeches, Murdo moved to sit beside him, shouldering his way out of his coat and wadding it up to make a cushion of it, careless of its fine elegance.

“Put that at your back and lean against the wall,” he said, handing the wadded-up coat to David. “Then lay your leg over my lap, and I’ll see to you.”

With another sigh, a more contented one this time, David obeyed. Just changing the position of his leg helped ease the pain, letting Murdo take the aching weight of it across his powerful thighs.

“Can you get your breeches off from there?” Murdo asked.

“Perhaps if I leave one leg on—”

Murdo made a huffing noise of frustration, cutting him off without words, and leaned over to grab hold of David’s borrowed breeks and tug at them, forcing David to arch his hips off the seat. A moment later, Murdo had drawn them off altogether and tossed them unceremoniously onto the opposite bench. The next moment he was rolling down the stocking on David’s right leg and peeling that off too.

David watched, unprotesting now, as his injured limb, pale and somewhat wasted still, was laid bare. Despite regular exercise, his right leg remained slightly thinner than the left. The knee looked wrong to David too, a bit off centre somehow. He made a face, not liking the sight of his weakness. It wasn’t just how it looked. It was the physical reminder of everything he couldn’t do. Walk, climb, run. The things he’d always loved and, until now, had taken for granted. Abilities he may never fully recover.

“What’s wrong?” Murdo asked. He missed nothing, damn him.

“I hate the look of it,” David said shortly. “It’s ugly.”

Murdo’s brows drew together in a puzzled expression. He turned his head to the offending limb, caressing the length of it with his hands while David watched. Murdo had strong, capable hands that could rub the pain in David’s leg away, gentle hands that could wring such sharp pleasure from David’s body he couldn’t stop himself crying out from it.

David watched, mesmerised, as Murdo went through the now-familiar motions of opening the liniment jar, dipping his fingers in to get a bit of the dense, waxy stuff, then rubbing it between his hands, releasing a scent that David would associate forever with soothing comfort and relief. And then Murdo’s hands were on David, slowly sweeping up the length of his thigh, his thumbs digging into the wasted, perennially tired muscles, the blunt heels of his hands kneading and working over the damaged architecture of David’s injured limb.

David closed his eyes, giving himself over to the singular pleasure of pain relief, letting himself have this, take this. This freely offered gift.

“It’s not ugly,” Murdo murmured. “Nothing about you could ever be ugly to me.”

His voice was soft and deep, as free from laughter as David had ever heard it, and David’s heart clenched in the cage of his chest to detect the sincerity in it. He swallowed, embarrassed to realise that Murdo had probably seen the bob of his throat and correctly read its meaning.

This vulnerability seemed to grow deeper each day, in direct proportion to the depth of his feelings. The two were linked, quite inextricably, his affection for Murdo exposing him in ways that horrified him. The protective barriers he’d spent a lifetime building up felt like they were crumbling away in the face of emotions he was helpless to deny. There would be no protection left to him when this ended.

And the end was coming.


Excerpt from Beguiled


I’m so pleased to finally be able to share an excerpt with you from Book 2, Beguiled:


David sagged against the iron railings in front of Balfour’s house and looked up at the windows above him, his chest aching. As with all the other private houses on the street, the drapes were open, the windows illuminated. And two floors up, a solitary figure stood at the drawing room window, staring out.

It was as though a giant hand gripped David, crushing him till he couldn’t breathe. He stared, his hungry gaze eating up the picture Balfour presented, alone in his elegant castle.

Why should that sight make David feel so sad?

Why should it make him feel anything at all?

Just then, Balfour shifted. He began to scan the crowd on the street below his house, as though he’d felt David’s attention somehow, like a physical touch. Or heard it, a silent call.

David watched, waiting helplessly for Balfour to find him, and moments later, he did. His wandering gaze halted on David, and their gazes caught and held—for an instant, no more—before Balfour whirled away from the window and was gone.

It occurred to David, somewhere in the back of his mind, that now might be a wise time to leave; that further encounters with Murdo Balfour might not be prudent. But he didn’t move. He leaned against the railings and stared at the glossy front door. And half a minute later, when it swung open, sure enough, there was Balfour, limned in light, a bright, excited smile on his handsome face. “Mr. Lauriston,” he called, lifting his voice against the chatter of the crowd and beckoning with his arm. “Won’t you come in?”

David found himself walking towards the short flight of steps that led to Balfour’s open door. He moved like a man in a dream, travelling west against a river of people flowing east, and ascended the steps. When he finally halted in front of Balfour, he had not the slightest idea of what to say, only hesitated, greedily taking in the picture the other man presented. Balfour’s habitual expression of faintly mocking amusement—one lifted brow, a curl to his lip—seemed to have deserted him, and an unfamiliar tenderness warmed his dark gaze.

“It’s good to see you again,” Balfour said. “I was afraid…we wouldn’t get another chance.”

David frowned at that comment, and for some reason that provoked a smile from Balfour. The lines at the corners of his eyes deepened with gentle merriment.

“Come in,” he repeated, this time putting his hand round David’s shoulder and propelling him forward. “Come and take a glass of wine with me at least.”

Perhaps it was the dreamlike quality of the evening that made David accept Balfour’s invitation. The night seemed filled with infinite possibility. Infinite magic. He murmured his agreement and followed Balfour inside and up a set of stairs that felt familiar enough to imbue him with an unsettling sense of déjà vu as he mounted them. At the top of the stairs, they turned to walk down a corridor that led to a cavernous set of rooms he remembered all too well.

No open drapes here. No, this was very private indeed.

“Wine?” Balfour offered, crossing the room to a sideboard that already held a half-drunk glass of burgundy liquid.

“Yes, please.”

Balfour topped up the glass he’d been drinking from and poured another, handing the fresh one to David. Again that feeling of déjà vu spiked, drenching David in memories of standing in this very room, drinking Murdo’s wine and wondering what he’d been thinking of to come here. Wondering what the night would bring.

He took a healthy swallow from his glass, hoping to calm the nerves clamouring in his gut.

Balfour said, “I’d just been thinking of you. I couldn’t believe it when I looked out my window, and there you were, looking up at me.”

“I didn’t plan to come. I was caught up in the Illuminations and came upon your house unexpectedly.” David felt a flush stain his cheeks at the half lie.

The quirk of Balfour’s lips was oddly tender. “I suppose it was too much hope that you couldn’t stay away.” He paused, then added, “But I’m glad Fate brought you here.” He raised his glass in brief salute, then drank deeply, and, after a moment, David followed suit. Somehow they both ended up draining their glasses.

David’s glass dangled from his fingertips, the wine warming his blood. He couldn’t think what to say, what to do, just stared at Balfour, tall and elegant in his expensive coat and pristine linen, as perfectly put together as a man could be. A knot of yearning twisted inside him, a yearning that was all tied up with his memories and with the way Balfour studied him, his gaze suddenly gone hot with desire.

Balfour crossed the space between them and tugged the cool glass from David’s fingers, setting it aside and taking David’s face in his hands, bringing their lips together—

—in a kiss.

For an instant, David froze, passive and disbelieving, as Balfour’s lips pressed against his own; then he groaned, lifting his hands and fisting them in Balfour’s clothes, gripping him, and pulling him closer with jerky, desperate movements.



Official Blurb for Beguiled (book 2)

A fleeting pleasure is the sweetest seduction…

Enlightenment, Book 2

David Lauriston couldn’t be less interested in King George IV’s first visit to Edinburgh. But with Faculty of Advocates members required to put on a minimal show of patriotism, David makes an appointment with his tailor for a new set of clothes—only to run into a man he hasn’t seen for two long years.

Lord Murdo Balfour.

Much has changed since their bitter parting, except their stormy attraction. And when Murdo suggests they enjoy each other’s company during his stay, David finds himself agreeing. After all, it’s only a temporary tryst.

Amidst the pomp and ceremony of the King’s visit, Murdo’s seduction is more powerful than David ever imagined possible. But when other figures from David’s past show up, he is drawn into a chain of events beyond his control. Where his determination to help a friend will break his body, threaten his career, and put at risk the fragile tenderness he’s found in Murdo’s arms.

What’s next?

This. July 2013.


Lowborn David Lauriston lacks the family connections needed to rise in Edinburgh’s privileged legal world. Worse, his latest case—defending powerless weavers accused of treason—has brought him under suspicion of harbouring radical sympathies.

Troubled by his sexuality, tormented by memories of a man he once platonically loved, David lives a largely celibate life—until a rare sexual encounter with a compelling stranger turns his world on its head.

 Cynical and worldly, Lord Murdo Balfour is more at home in hedonistic London than dingy, repressed Edinburgh. Unlike David, he intends to eventually marry while continuing to enjoy the company of men whenever he pleases. Yet sex with David is different. It’s personal, intimate, and instead of extinguishing his desire, it only leaves him hungry for more.

As David searches for the government spy who betrayed the weavers,  he begins to suspect that his mysterious  lover has more sinister reasons for his presence in Edinburgh. The truth could leave his heart broken… and more necks stretching on the gallows.

Ooooooh! New book!!

Yes! Release day for Unforgivable, book of my heart, is almost upon me! Tomorrow, 15th January by lovely Samhain Publishing!  Tres exciting, mes chums!


I’ve already had lovely reviews from Joyfully Reviewed and Night Owl Reviews. What’s more, Dear Author has (both excitingly and slightly nerve-wrackingly) indicated it’s a recommended read for January – but I won’t see the review till tomorrow.  *bites nails*.

What else?  Oh yes, I have blog posts and giveaways lined up at Novel Thoughts tomorrow, at Smexybooks 16th Jan and at Book Binge at some point next week hopefully (details to follow).

And FINALLY, I am also giving away a copy here, tomorrow.  Please leave a comment for a chance to win.  Go on, it’s free!

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

george st east

Josh Lanyon tagged me in the Next Big Thing Blog Hop.  This is the deal: I answer ten questions about my ‘next big thing’ and then I tag some other authors to do the same.  Simple!  The idea is it lets you find out what your favourite authors are up to while being introduced to authors who might be new to you.

Although I have a book coming out in January (Unforgivable, released by Samhain 15th January 2013) which I am super-thrilled about, the purpose of this blog hop is to talk about what I’m working on now, my current WIP, which is a M/M historical set in early nineteenth century Scotland.

1. What is the working title of your book?

It’s very much a working title…  A Provocative Gentleman

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

It’s been at the back of my mind for years – I kept trying to make it work as a M/F but it never clicked – then I thought of writing it as a M/M and everything fell into place.  I wanted to set the story in the masculine, professional world of early 19th century Scotland.  I wanted to have my protagonists moving freely in that world.

3. What is the genre of the book?

Historical M/M

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

They wouldn’t be perfect, but maybe Elijah Wood for David (serious, sensitive) and John Hamm for Murdo.

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

When David Lauriston shares an anonymous sexual encounter with a compelling stranger, he has no idea that this single reckless act will come back to haunt him when he goes looking for the secret government agent who sent his friends to their execution.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency/publisher?

It remains to be seen – I’m about to submit to the editor I worked with on Unforgivable and have my fingers crossed she’ll like it!  Edited to add – it will come out with Samhain in August 2013.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Six months – I plan three books in the series and some of that time was devoted to planning the other two books. That was the first draft, I have to stress!

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Oh, I’m not sure! What I can say is that my aspiration was to write a historical M/M that reads as a plausible account of a homosexual man of the time.  So whilst I wouldn’t compare this to an Alex Beecroft, she is the kind of writer I think does that very well.

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Lots of things in lots of ways. The biggest inspiration was my home country, Scotland. As a longtime romance reader, I’m very aware of the ubiquitous Highlander romance hero, but as a living, breathing lowland Scot, I don’t relate to that character at all.  I wanted to write about a different kind of Scot.  A Scot of the 19th century, of the British Empire.  A city-dwelling lowlander who would never put on a kilt or know a word of gaelic. A Scot who has come out of the Enlightenment and who views himself as a citizen of the world.

10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

It’s kind of a love letter to Edinburgh.

I’ve tagged Carolyn Crane, Kate Rothwell, Katie Porter and Ruth A Casie to continue the hop!

Check out Josh’s blog hop post here: