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Excerpt from Beguiled

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

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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.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

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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.

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The cover for book 2 in the Enlightened trilogy

The cover for book 2 in the Enlightened trilogy

Murdo has nipples like chapel hat pegs…. and he’s daring you to do something about it

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August 25, 2013 · 8:53 am

Provoked is out!

Provoked_cover

I am still on holiday in Spain but Provoked releases today!  (Check it out here or at any of the other places-to-buy on the Buy Links page of this site).

This is my first series and it has a romance arc that stretches over three books (be warned…)  The trilogy is set in 1820s urban Scotland and is the story of David Lauriston, a lawyer from a humble background and Murdo Balfour, an anglified Scottish peer.

This first instalment – when David and Murdo meet – takes place in 1820 against the backdrop of a recent radical uprising whose instigators David defended in court.  Book 2, Beguiled (which releases in December) takes place two years later during King George’s visit to Edinburgh and book 3, Enlightened (May 2014) concludes their story.

In celebration of this momentous (for me) occasion, I am giving away a copy of Provoked and an Amazon voucher for $25 to a lucky winner!  Just leave a comment to be entered.

The winner will be announced on my return on 28th July.

Best of luck.

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One week to go and a prize!

I am actually in Spain at the moment – check me out with my nifty technological genius, blogging in advance!

The point of this entirely UNspontaneous post is to say that Provoked releases in just one week on 23rd July 2013.

In celebration I will be giving away a copy of Provoked and an Amazon voucher for $25 to a lucky winner!  Winner to be announced on 28th July (when I get back, don’t you know).

Do tweet this, if you know me!

Adiós!

 

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Early reviews for Provoked

I got two lovely reviews from Dear Author and Jessewave today – three actually since the Dear Author one is from Willaful and Sirius. I’m so happy!

Some particularly nice comments:

There are times of great tension and excitement, but Provoked mostly moves at a gentle pace, suiting its gently heroic subject; still, I was never less than thoroughly absorbed in it.

Willaful

 

I thought the writing in this book was gorgeous – when I want to stop, reread, taste every word or almost every word.

Sirius

 

I have to say that the sense of place was pitched just right. I used to live in Edinburgh—in fact for a time I lived on the same street where David lives (Blair Street)—so it was a delight to re-tread the wynds and closes of Old Town and the wide avenues of New Town in my imagination as I read this book. Anyone interested in this period will find something to enjoy in Provoked. I thoroughly recommend it and am very much looking forwards to Book 2.

Leslie, Reviews at Jessewave

 

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What I’m excited about right now

So, I haven’t blogged in forever, but actually lots of good stuff is happening!

My next novel, Provoked, is out in a few weeks (23rd July 2013 from Samhain).  You’ll find the blurb and link to an excerpt on the Books page.

I’m excited.  It’s my first M/M and my first serial; this is book 1 in a trilogy. I can also confirm that book 2 (Beguiled) will be out on 23rd December and book 3 (Enlightenment) on 6th May 2014.  So all three books will be out within ten months.

And oh, I love writing these characters, David Lauriston and Murdo Balfour.  I think I’ll be quite sad when I finish book 3.

The story is written from the sole POV of David i.e. a limited third person POV.  This was a departure for me.  With my previous novels, I’d grown used to writing in what is the established norm of M/F historical romance, namely revolving third person POV.  I’m not sure why it’s so prevalent but it’s really ubiquitous in M/F romance.  One of the things I found a little bit discombobulating when I started reading M/M romance was the sudden apparent freedom to write in all sorts of ways – first person POVs, limited third person, revolving third and first – anything goes!  I soon went from being discombobulated to being intoxicated.

And ok, so a move from revolving third to limited third isn’t the HUGEST change in the world but it’s more challenging than you might think.  The thing about revolving POV, you see, is that you get the chance to show both characters’ development through their own internal narratives, but with limited POV, you have to show both through one character and that character is hampered by his own views and flaws and issues.  When I first started, it felt like it was it was all challenge and no opportunity, but as I got further into writing from David’s sole POV, I began to see that limited POV is freeing too.  You get to hint. You get to (in fact you have to) show things through dialogue and action.  You learn to respect gaps. The unsaid.

Maybe I’ll tackle first person POV next.

In other news, I’m currently loving wasabi peas. Crunching away on some right now.

Provoked_cover

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My next release!

I now have a cover for my next release, Unforgivable, due out from Samhain Publishing in January 2013. The blurb’s not official yet.

Five years ago, Gil Truman was blackmailed into marrying plain, sickly Rose Davenport. As soon as their hasty wedding was over he took her to his remote estate in the North of England and left her there, hoping never to see her again.

Rose is no longer the shy, homely girl Gil married. She wants her notorious philanderer of a husband to return to the marriage bed. When she confronts Gil at a masked ball and he fails to recognise her, Rose gives into temptation and lets him think she is what she seems—a beautiful stranger. But during their passionate night together, Rose learns the truth of why Gil married her and uncovers a past full of old wounds and lies.

Is it possible for Rose and Gil to overcome their blighted history? Or are some mistakes simply…unforgivable?

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More lovely reviews…

These are lovely:

The story is quite lovely as is the writing. This being Chambers first I know it certainly won’t be her last. It’s a fantastic story and one definitely worth reading. [4.5 out of 5]

Tracy’s Place

 

I really enjoyed this book, which is Chambers’ first published work.  I wasn’t too sure at first since I’m not a fan of the female-dressed-up-as-a-male theme, but it was well done here.  So often, it takes the hero the entire book to realize that the boy/man he’s oddly attracted to is actually a woman, and the implausibility of that annoys me.  Not so here – Nathan isn’t stupid, and he and many other characters catch on to Georgy’s charade quickly.  The pacing of the novel also worked very well.  Chambers creates two wonderful characters and gives them ample time and opportunity to fall in love with each other.  [Rating A-]

The Brazen Bookworm

Escape Rating B+: There were two plots going on in this book; the romance between Nathan and Georgy, and the recovery of Harry and Georgy’s inheritance and the villain’s quite nasty attempts to prevent that recovery. Both come to a lovely happily ever after at the end. The irony of the villain providing the solution to the puzzle was quite delicious.

There are multiple points of view about gender identity and homophobia or the lack thereof in this society. For what would otherwise be a pretty light story, there’s a fairly serious discussion going on here.

Reading Reality

The execution was even better than the promise. Not only did Joanna Chambers do the “forbidden” things that I looked forward to (and if you want to convince yourself how awesome she is, read this amazing scene on her website), but she managed to capture the intimate, asymmetric relationship that arises between servants and their master.

Courtney Milan

I loved Janet Webb’s take:

The intimate, private world of the valet/master relationship is at the crux of The Lady’s Secret. Objects, like gleaming leather boots, experiences, like steaming hip baths, presentations, like an orange cut in perfect eights each morning, become talismans. Scientists have proved what we intuitively know: smells—or in the more flowery language of romance, scents—can transport you to a place known only to your memory.

An alternative title for this book, particularly in the opening chapters, might be The Gentleman’s Dressing Room, a place redolent with scents and textures. This gentle reader was thrilled to discover that Georgy has to shave Harland twice a day.

Heroes and Heartbreakers

And I really like this one that made me laugh!

In all honesty I expected the Lady’s Secret to suck. Seriously. I thought it was going to be horrible. I was so freaking shocked it was awesome I was extremely happy it was so good.  [Rating B]

Romance Reviews Forum

There’s also a few more reviews on Goodreads!

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Reviews!

I have three reviews at goodreads!  And they are lovely!

4 1/2 stars. You know those romance tropes that make you internally go, “oh God no” whenever you see them in a blurb? Everyone has different ones, of course, but chicks in pants is one of mine. Strangely enough, in the right hands those tropes sometimes make the best books — Heyer’s The Masqueraders is a long time favorite of mine, and now there’s The Lady’s Secret, which also makes a chick in pants utterly sublime.

Willaful

Sublime!

4.5 stars – The writing is quite exceptional, especially since this is a debut. The story somewhat predictable, (after all, it is a romance) but stll fresh. The delivery entertaining. The fact that I was reading Elizabeth Hoyt’s Scandalous Desires at the same time, and found it in no way overshadowed this debut, is testament to the enjoyment I got from this novel. There were some great moments of humour, especially (as expected) when Nathan felt curious interest in his young valet. But this was not overdone nor heavy-handed.  A very impressive debut and I will be reading the next novel by author Joanna Chambers.

Jill

Exceptional!
 
4.5 stars. Really enjoyed this one. I wasn’t too sure at first since I’m not a fan of the female-dressed-up-as-a-male trope, but it was well done here. Chambers creates two wonderful characters and gives them ample time and opportunity to fall in love with each other. There were some interesting descriptions of class here, and just a touch of ‘Downton Abbey’ involved. Overall, a great historical read, and one that I’m fairly certain I’ll want to read again in the future.
Sarah (The Brazen Bookworm)
 
A great historical read!
 
Colour me happy!
 

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