Thursday, April 02, 2015

Blue Eyed Stranger (Trowchester Blues #2) Pre-Release Review, Guest Post, Excerpt and Giveaway.

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Another super book in the Trowchester Blues series from Alex Beecroft. I was intrigued with all the going-ons that take place in historical re-enactment clubs and morris dancing teams, but then add a sweet romance to it and I enjoyed this book from beginning to end. I now know more about Saxons and the history of morris dancing too. Goes to show that reading M/M romance has also added a wealth of general knowledge too – lol!

I asked Alex about these things in order to shed a little more light on them and why they feature as a backdrop in Blue Eyed Stranger. There is also a giveaway where one lucky winner can choose any book from Alex’s backlist.


Guest Post

Mark: Could you describe to the uninitiated a little more about historical enactment and morris dancing and why they play a role in this book for you?

Alex: I think it's clear by now that I have a permanent and deep fascination with history. It's a fascination that doesn't go away. Even when I'm not writing historicals, it plays out in other ways, coming out in characters who share the same... obsession seems too strong a word. Characters who share the same deep connection to the past that underlies much of my own worldview.

It comes out in different ways in me too. When I was much younger, the sheer glamour of the Viking and Saxon warrior cultures swept me away. I wished I could have been a chain-mail clad hero like Beowulf or King Alfred. And interestingly enough, it turned out that there was a way to do that – I could join an Anglo-Saxon and Viking reenactment society. OK the weapons would be blunt and nobody would actually get killed, but that was a bonus.

I joined Regia Anglorum in 1990, and my first battle was the 1000th anniversary of the Battle of Maldon. Our combat system was based on hit points, so our battles weren't scripted – whichever side won was the side that fought best on the day. It was all very exciting and glamorous, and the fact that the real life parts of it were immensely hard work and physically gruelling added to the sense that we were tough and set-apart and doing something hard and real.

When I moved into Cambridgeshire, though, I encountered morris dancing, and morris dancing was a pastime that had actually survived as a living tradition since the 15h Century. With reenactment, I was trying to recreate something dead, but with morris I was actually partaking in a living tradition. Plus it was fun. So I got heavily into that, and have been heavily into that for the last seven years. They're both such unknown and – I think – fascinating subcultures that I thought it would be fun to share them with the world, so I wrote a book in which a reenactor and a morris dancer fall in love.

Mark: I had to laugh at the scene where both Martin's and Billy's clubs have their altercation due to double booking at an event. Also the political goings-on within the clubs. Do these type of clubs really get that political?

Alex: Oh God, yes! The altercation is based on numerous personal experiences I've had with both cultures. Because reenactment tends to attract people who really want to strut around wearing a sword, and morris still has enclaves where it's an all-male affair, both subcultures tend to be quite macho. (I realize it's hard to believe that a culture of men wearing flowers and waving hankies tends to be macho, but dig down and it's all about the stick-measuring contest.) The business with cars that try to drive through the middle of a morris dance is something I've experienced myself, for example. A driver rude enough to try will come across a tribe that will not be moved unless they're willing to run someone over. It's all fun and games, but we're very bolshy if you mess with us.

Sadly, if you put two such tribes up against each other it would be quite easy for the posturing to get out of hand. It is, largely, posturing, like two stags butting antlers – they're just trying to prove who's boss, and don't mean to do harm, but you know, people can get carried away.

Of course everything that people do involves politics – because politics is just the way that humans deal with each other. Once you start looking at it, almost everything we do as humans is about regulating power. You can't get away from that.

Mark: In the book Billy is suffers from depression which can be a crippling illness. You write about it so beautifully and bring Billy's feelings across so well, why did you decide to choose a character suffering from depression?

Alex: Oh, I'm glad you thought I handled it well. Thank you! I can't say exactly why I chose Billy to have depression, but I think that as it was a book that drew so heavily on my own experiences of the things that made me happy, it may have felt balanced to also involve one of my own handicaps. I've suffered from depression most of my life. Chiefly SAD, which has made winter over the last fifteen years feel like a fight for survival. I'm lucky in that it's treatable with vitamin D and a lightbox, plus I've finally got around to getting myself some therapy, and I have to say I've the best winter this year I can remember for a long time.

At any rate, for a long time my (birth) family had me convinced that there was nothing wrong with me at all, I was just lazy and feckless and forgetful and couldn't be bothered to make an effort to behave like a normal person. I don't think that attitude helped me any.

Recently I've been thinking about inclusiveness in media – how nice it is to see yourself in books, on the TV or the movies. More than nice, seeing yourself reflected in stories as a worthy human being is a thing that's helpful to anybody, whether because of their race or orientation or gender or their state of mental or physical illness.

I'm only just realizing how nice it is to see people who resemble me in media. But having realized it, I figure it's part of my job as an author to make it happen. So Billy gets one of my demons, poor chap. I hope he appreciates it!

Alex  X



Title: Blue Eyed Stranger (Trowchester Blues #2)

Author: Alex Beecroft

Publisher: Riptide Publishing

Release: 6th April 2015

Genre: M/M (contemporary)


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Billy Wright has a problem: he’s only visible when he’s wearing a mask. That’s fine when he’s performing at country fairs with the rest of his morris dancing troupe. But when he takes the paint off, his life is lonely and empty, and he struggles with crippling depression.

Martin Deng stands out from the crowd. After all, there aren’t that many black Vikings on the living history circuit. But as the founder of a fledgling historical re-enactment society, he’s lonely and harried. His boss doesn’t like his weekend activities, his warriors seem to expect him to run everything single-handedly, and it’s stressful enough being one minority without telling the hard men of his group he’s also gay.

When Billy’s and Martin’s societies are double-booked at a packed county show, they know at once they are kindred spirits, united by a deep feeling of connectedness to their history and culture. But they’re also both hiding in their different ways, and they need each other to be brave enough to take their masks off and still be seen.


Mark’s Review

Modern day saxons and morris dancers; I must admit while reading this book I actually learnt so much about what people get up to in their free time, how people keep history and traditions alive, etc. it introduced a whole new world to me. At the beginning I didn’t have a clue about the different traditions in morris dancing and its history or how the whole re-enactment scene brings history alive so spectators like myself can get a real impression of history first hand. By the end of the book I was totally enriched about  traditions and pastimes, although I knew they existed, never really bothered thinking too much about. Do you need to be a history buff or need an in depth knowledge of British culture to understand this book? No, not at all. It is all perfectly explained throughout the book, but slowly so you’ll  need to be patient until things become clear if you’re not familiar with any of this for a story setting.

Martin is an history teacher who just loves to bring his history lessons alive and enthuse the children he teaches. Well, he definitely manages this and teaches them a history that is exciting, real and somewhat unconventional. Showing them the rich tapestry of different heroes from different, cultures, race and creed and not the generic, white anglo-saxon history that the syllabus dictates. Why? Well, Martin is black and feels that he needs to teach and show an all inclusive history. As a teacher myself I thought this idea was absolutely wonderful!! However, the school is run by a somewhat conservative regime under the headmistress and inevitably  two world’s collide. In his free time he belongs a started a historical re-enactment club, Bretwalda, whose period is the saxons and frequent shows around the country entertaining the public with shows of battle scenes and saxon encampments.

Billy belongs to the local morris dancing side (team), the Griffins, another tradition going back to 15th century England. Kept alive all this time by the numerous clubs around the country. But even here there are regional variations and Billy’s team belongs to the Border Morris who dance with blackened faces.

I must admit it took me a few chapters to get into the whole scene of both of their hobbies not having a clue about either. But whether it was intentional or not, at the beginning as a reader I was kept guessing a little as to what all this could be until things are gradually revealed and it is perfectly clear. I loved the second chapter where Billy is introduced, mystical and mysterious and asking myself what exactly has he been doing sat in a graveyard all night. However, as I read further I realised that this was part of the ploy to bring across the suffering of Billy’s illness and works perfectly. I don’t know how Alex did it but she had me feeling sorry for him from  the very first time we read about him. Then when we find out what he is suffering from it makes everything all the more poignant but there are brighter times ahead for him which made my heart lift by the end of the book.

Martin and Billy first meet when the organisers of an event double book them which leads to an altercation of soap opera dimensions. I loved this, these guys all in their respective traditional get-ups fighting out whose slot it is. It was just comical to think of these guys arguing in their get-ups while the public is looking on. Anyway, when Martin and Billy meet, Martin is taken aback by the shy and unassuming Billy.  Billy has good days and bad days, and despite what happened this was one of his better days.

I loved the way that they both had their issues they had to overcome in order to find their HEA. Billy with his illness and Martin not being able to come out due to his parents, his job and fellow club members. After all Saxon warriors are real men, rough and tough, not gay. Oh the prejudices I could have screamed especially with the conservative school he was working for. No wonder he was banged up in the closet when he first meets Billy. But his love and care for Billy changes all this.

I also felt Billy’s pain, always putting himself down, believing himself to be worthless, always doubting himself and others, no self-confidence to speak of which would have him running away from everyone and anything. Cocooning himself up in his flat and shutting the rest of the world out. He would have days where too many people, too many noises, too much sensory input would have him running scared. My heart just wanted to reach out to him.

When these two were together you could just feel that they were so right for each other, but they both have to overcome their obstacles in their own way. In doing so they find a greater love for each other that just flourishes until they get to their HEA. Oh my I have read a number of HEA in my time as a reviewer but this one really was exquisite! Had me oohing and aahing all over the place for days.

Although this is the second book in the Trowchester Blues series it can be read perfectly OK as a stand alone. We meet one of the characters from the first book, Finn, when they have a cup of coffee in the bookshop. But there is no need to have any knowledge of Finn from the previous book as these guys don’t know him and just see him as the colourful bookshop owner that he is. So it’s more like a series of books based around a town and the individual stories of its inhabitants.

Another great addition to the Trowchester Blues series and can’t wait for the next one to be released. I’m seriously invested in this series now.



Chapter One

“I am Hasheput! Tremble before my mighty sword!”

Martin Deng detached himself from the shelter of the school’s back porch to watch tiny Trisha Nkembe flourishing her badminton racket like a legendary weapon of yore. She had an army of five followers, their scowly-faced seriousness a little belied by the plastic bobbles in their hair. They were facing off the dastardly Ammonites, led by Oscar Peterson in a bucket helmet liberated from the gym equipment storage room.

Martin smiled and walked into the standoff, where he was eyed with resentment and trepidation, and one cry of “I never did nothing!” from Natalie Hoon in the back.

“We don’t mean no harm,” Trisha got out, preempting his teacherly wrath. “We ain’t going to have a real battle. It’s a peace talk, right? Because they know already that Queen Hasheput is gonna smash their heads in if they try anything.”

The combination of defiance and enthusiasm warmed his heart. “Oh, no,” he said, before he could spoil their playtime entirely. “That’s fine. It’s just that her name is Hatshepsut, which is a little harder to say but worth it, don’t you think? And it’s not a sword; it’s a mace.”

“What’s a mace, sir?”

“It’s like a big club.” He gestured. “Like a baseball bat, but made of stone. You really would be able to smash people’s heads in with it.”

“Whoa, cool!”

“Just—” he backed off with a hand gesture that gave the breezy May lunchtime back to them “—checking your historical accuracy. Might as well get it right, right? Carry on, then.”

A real punch-up across the other side of the playground caught his eye, making him turn and stride away to break it up, but he did it with an internal smile. It was great to see the kids responding to history with such enthusiasm. Great to see the way they bloomed when they realized that the world was full of heroes just like them.

He relived the memory of Trisha’s head coming up, her eyes widening, as he told them about the Nubians in Egypt. When he first took over the class, she had been one of those students who laid their heads on their arms, draped over their desks like the dead.

He knew how she felt. The teaching of history in UK schools could so easily be an all-white thing. Not a deliberate glorification of the Anglo-Saxon race, nothing as egregious as that, but simply the underlying assumption that all the important things in world history had been done by white people, whether those people were British or Roman.

Trisha’s astonishment when he began to put up images that proved there had been people of colour in Britain since Roman times, and that people of colour had had a long and glorious history in the world, had been echoed all over the class. Children who’d picked up the modern myth that all black people had once been slaves, and who therefore had rejected history as something they didn’t want to know about, suddenly began to see themselves as kings and prophets and world leaders.

It was Martin’s magic. Once he’d seen the transformation in his black kids, he’d hunted down little-known facts for the children of other ethnicities, and for the girls. Through warrior queens, pioneer aviators, the Night Witches of the Second World War, and the pirate empire of Ching Shih, he had taught his girls that they too could be glorious. Now they came into his class prepared to be amazed and inspired. They came with their heads up and their little faces bright, reassured of their own noble heritage and potential.

And apparently it spilled out onto the playground too.

After dealing with the scrap before anyone got a bloody nose, he handed off the playground watch to Mrs. Hobbs, the chemistry teacher, so that he could retire to the staffroom and get some lunch.

Satisfaction carried him buoyantly through corridors whose yellowed paint was pocked all over with the greasy spots of Blu-Tack. The macaroni art of the junior school wing gave way to the informational posters of the GCSE curriculum as he swung past the ground floor toilets, up two flights of stairs, and into the attic room the teachers had claimed for their own.

Mr. McKay, the PE teacher, looked up from his Tupperware container of quinoa salad to say, “All right?”

“Pretty good,” Martin agreed, putting the kettle on for a cup of tea and a pot of instant noodles. “You ever thought of teaching them fencing? They don’t know the first thing about real armed combat.”

McKay laughed, and gave him the you’re a weirdo but you seem harmless expression he so often got when he forgot himself and talked about his obsessions. “Well now, I would have said that was a good thing. Actually, I think sports were invented to replace the use of lethal weaponry among our schoolchildren.”

Early summer sunshine slanted into the room through the windows at the eaves and heated up the old sofas and the paint. With the advent of the hot dust smell he associated with summer, his mind turned to the weekend. The first show of the season.

It was Friday, and freedom was only three hours away. And there were so many things he still had to do.

The kettle switched itself off. “Yeah,” Martin said, tipping water on his lunch and filling the air with a smell like Marmite. “But you have to force them to do games. I bet they’d be queuing up for sword fighting, and it’s good exercise.”

McKay looked at him sideways from beneath his sandy lashes. “You’re itching to get away, aren’t you? Got one of your events this weekend?”

“How could you tell?” In Martin’s day, PE teachers had been nasty, small-minded little martinets. He was always thrown when McKay said something insightful.

McKay laughed again. “Any time you start talking about sword fighting, I know you’re due in on Monday bruised and hungover and stinking of smoke.”

Martin found himself by the window, gazing out over car parks and the backs of the suburban streets, tapping on the glass. He wasn’t sure if McKay’s comment had provoked his impatience, or if it had been simmering all day, simply interrupted by the satisfaction of having something he’d taught finally sink in.

“Well, it would be good if I could get away.” Articulating the sentiment seemed to make it worse. “I’ve got a show over in Trowchester that opens at nine o’clock tomorrow morning. Which means I’ve got to get the car packed and drive over there tonight . . .”

And I have to unpack when I’m there, and set up my tent and the work shelter, and find the people in charge of providing sand and wood for the firebox, and locate the standpipes for water. Which will inevitably not be turned on yet. And hunt down the guy responsible to get him to turn them on. And fill the water barrels, and haul them from tap to tent. And cut up the wood because it will be too thick. And inflate my mattress. And locate a shop where Edith can buy fresh milk and bread. And . . .

Fucking organisers who wanted their shows open first thing in the morning had no idea. If he had to spend all day at school first, he’d be doing all of it in the dark, working flat out until midnight or later. He’d start the weekend exhausted and cranky, and it would only go downhill from there.

“I’ve actually only got one lesson scheduled for this afternoon,” he ventured.

McKay snorted, and rose to check the timetable pinned on the corkboard by the fridge, above the dozens of used tea bags heaped on the empty foil takeaway container. “I . . . happen to be free at that time. But I don’t know shite about history.”

Tempting. Very tempting. “I . . . uh. I have a programme about the Air Transport Auxiliary I’ve been meaning to show them for the Second World War module. If you were kind enough to take over for me, all you’d need to do would be to wheel the TV in and switch it on.”

McKay put his whistle between his teeth and gave him a double thumbs-up. “But you’ll owe me. Next sports day, you’ll be my second-in-command.”

Martin rolled his eyes as though he were very put-upon, but couldn’t help grinning, immensely relieved. This would help so much. “It’s a deal.”

His back was to the door, and his nose in his plastic pot of noodles as he slurped them down. He didn’t register there was something wrong until McKay straightened up, tucked his whistle inside his shirt and gave him the urgent side-eye of doom.

Only then did he hear the faint creak of leather shoes and scent the Old Spice aftershave of the Head’s PA, standing silently, judgmentally, directly behind him.

Glossy was the word that came to mind when Martin contemplated the Head’s personal assistant. One of the new breed of young men who spent more time than pageant queens beautifying themselves. Charlie’s carefully cropped red hair had a curling spiral shaved above one ear. There was a gold ring in his left eyebrow, but from the neck down he was plastic perfect, as though he had spent his lunch hour pressing his slacks and starching the points of his collar.

“Mr. Deng. The Head would like a word with you.”

Martin’s good mood took a nosedive, as though the engines had cut out catastrophically on both wings. “I’ll be right along. Let me just . . .” He waved his fork to illustrate the inch of noodles and the half cup of tea he had left to consume.

“Of course.” A cold smile, too indifferent to be called hostile, and the PA departed.

“I hear tell he files his socks on the Dewey Decimal System,” McKay murmured sympathetically, “and only goes home to plug himself into the wall to recharge.”

The noodles had in fact lost their appeal. Martin pinched the foil cover back in place over the top of the tub and dumped them in the bin. “What have I done now, I wonder?”

“One way to find out.”

The school was laid out on a roughly cruciform pattern, all four corridors coming together to form a central hub. Here, the desks of the school’s administrative staff surrounded the inner sanctum of the Head’s office. Martin waved to Maureen on reception, but she was too busy trying to puzzle out a spreadsheet—nose pressed to the computer screen—to acknowledge him.

Going past, he stopped outside the white-painted door in the white-painted wall, retucked his T-shirt into his trousers, and smoothed down his jacket sleeves.

The door sat ajar in its frame. Snatches of voices filtered through the crack. Martin stepped up to knock, and heard the gravelly alto of the Head’s voice scoff, “I even heard he might be gay.”

He froze midmovement. His heart stilled and his ears strained to hear more. Charlie was saying something now, but it was too smooth, too low-key to make out.

“Well, one doesn’t want that kind of person in charge of vulnerable children.”

The air around Martin burned away in a short-lived inferno of rage, and when it was gone, fear rushed in to fill the gap. He loved this job, this school, but damn, he despised the Head, and she . . . well she obviously returned the sentiment. But she couldn’t do anything. Even if she did find out he was gay—and God knew how she would do that when he hadn’t had time for a relationship in the last three years—she couldn’t fire him for it. He would take it to an employment tribunal. He would win.

And then everyone would know.

He swallowed, all the joy of the playground gone beyond recall. He wasn’t ready for anyone to know. Not yet. Not with his father already disappointed he was a jobbing teacher and not a professor. Not with his mother already blaming herself for his sister’s depression, certain to blame herself for this too.

Queasy, seasick from being tossed between anger and dread, he pushed the door open without knocking and went in.

“. . . don’t want to do anything illegal.”

The door bounced off the rubber stop screwed into the blue carpet. Charlie fell silent and turned to look at him, pulling the lever arch file he carried closer to his chest.

Behind the desk, the Head placed her pen carefully in its penholder. She had finely coiffed bright silver hair and wore a black polyester blouse printed with white dots.

“Thank you, Charlie.”

She indicated the seat across from herself, and as Martin lowered himself into it, Charlie left the room and closed the door behind him.

“Mr. Deng. I won’t keep you long. I know you have a lesson coming up in—” she checked her watch, which hung around her neck on a chain like a steampunk pendant “—ten minutes. I presume you know why you’ve been called here.”

“I don’t,” Martin said curtly. If she was going to insult him, she could damn well have the courage to do it to his face. “I’ve not been made aware of any problem.”

“Oh well, consider this fair warning, then.” She smoothed her skirt over her knee and tilted her office chair back to stare out of one of the small windows through which she kept her eye on the surrounding desks. Her pink lipstick matched her nail varnish so perfectly it looked as though she’d lacquered her lips.

Time was suspended for an agonising moment, and then she began to speak. “I’m afraid, Mr. Deng, that your performance is subpar. I’m going to have to insist on some changes in future. Firstly, this is a school into which parents compete to place their children. Your appearance should reflect that. This—” she gestured at his clothes “—is unacceptable.”

He could see that, he supposed. Truth was, he’d put on something this morning that he would be able to load the car in. The work shelter was coated inside with soot, the cooking equipment coated with it outside, so he was wearing a black Metallica T-shirt, and perhaps he should have gone the extra step and added Get changed into camping tat to the long list of things he had to do this evening.

Acknowledging the fairness of her point, he nodded, chastened and not liking the feeling very much.

“Your timekeeping leaves a great deal to be desired.”

The weight in his stomach sank a little lower. Looked like she had a point there too. “I’m sorry?”

“Unpaid leave is for emergencies, Mr. Deng. Not so you can drop your responsibilities here whenever your bizarre hobby calls you.”

Guilt began to tip back into anger again. “That’s not fair. I don’t do it that often. It’s been, what? Three times this year so far.”

“Three times this year and we are barely into May.” She levelled her chair off and skewered him with a gaze that was like an icicle driven through the eye. His lips went cold. “Last year it was twice before May, seven times over the summer, another three over the autumn term. I note therefore that it’s escalating. There is little point in retaining a teacher who can’t be bothered to be here.”

“Bretwalda is young,” Martin said defensively. “My reenactment society, that is. This year is important for it to establish itself. But when it has—when it’s properly up and running—I’ll be able to ease back and let other people do some of the work.”

The Head looked at him as though he had been trying to explain how the dog had eaten his homework. “The troubles of your private life do not concern me. I need to know that when you are employed by this school, you will actually be available to this school. I expect more from my team, Mr. Deng. I expect commitment, and I’m not sure you have it.”

“That’s a bit rich. I spend hours at home, fact-checking the curriculum, figuring out how it can be tweaked to make it interesting and affirming for my class. I’m utterly committed to—”

The Head raised her painted-on eyebrows at him. “And that,” she snapped, her voice so frigid it was a wonder the particles of dust in the air didn’t precipitate as snow, “that is my third point. Mr. Deng . . .”

It was really beginning to annoy him the way she kept referring to him. Yeah, that’s my name. Don’t wear it out.

“I must insist that you return to teaching the curriculum as it is set. No more of these wild forays into the realms of the outrĂ©. You’re giving the children a false impression of the past. A parade of freaks and exceptions do not constitute history.”

Martin had taken the other two points relatively calmly, since they reflected on nobody but himself. Touching this one was like touching a match to petrol. He filled up with so much fire he could feel it squeezing out through his pores.

“‘Official’ history—” Martin curled his fingers in the air to make the condemning quote marks plain “—the history they want us to teach, is nothing more than a tool designed to make every one of those kids think that if it’s not done by white men, it’s not important. You know what I found when I started looking? I found that people of colour had been here all along. We’d been doing amazing things all along, and someone deliberately took that knowledge away. Someone chose to cover those facts up to keep us in our place. I’m not teaching my kids exceptions. I’m teaching them the truth.”

He had half risen from his seat, his fingers gripping the edge of the desk tightly as the flip side of Trisha’s joy scoured through him. Fury. Because finding out that you’d been here all along also meant finding out that you’d been lied to all this time. Deliberately lied to so you would carry on feeling small and worthless and foreign, so you would feel you had less of a right to be here than your neighbours.

“That’s quite enough.” The Head had shrunk back into her seat. A shrill note in her voice sobered him up. He hadn’t meant to frighten her.

She pulled a lace-edged handkerchief from her pocket and wiped her brow. “This school is in the business of making sure our children pass the exams they will need for their future. Regardless of your opinions on the veracity of the material, you will teach your class the curriculum as it is given to you. Do you understand me?”

Oh yes, he understood. He thought again about Trisha, how her whole soul seemed to light up when she learned of Kandace of Nubia, of Nefertiti, and Hatshepsut. He would welcome an angry woman with a stone mace at his back right now.

Could he do it? Could he teach the pap that was handed down to the kids here as history? Next year, could he watch the new faces stay closed, and live with himself knowing those kids’ hearts were withering inside with every iteration of the unspoken message that they weren’t interesting enough to make it into the books?

But in this climate of recession, with jobs hard to come by and his father’s disappointment like Banquo’s ghost at his feast, could he refuse?

Fury blazed and then burned out. He didn’t need this right now. He had a show to get organised. The rest of the garrison were depending on him. He could figure this one out later if he could only get away. “I understand.”

“Good,” she said and smiled at him, driving a nail straight through his heart. “Then you may go.”



Meet Alex Beecroft



Alex Beecroft is an English author best known for historical fiction, notably Age of Sail, featuring gay characters and romantic storylines. Her novels and shorter works include paranormal, fantasy, and contemporary fiction.

Beecroft won Linden Bay Romance’s (now Samhain Publishing) Starlight Writing Competition in 2007 with her first novel, Captain’s Surrender, making it her first published book. On the subject of writing gay romance, Beecroft has appeared in the Charleston City Paper, LA Weekly, theNew Haven Advocate, the Baltimore City Paper, and The Other Paper.


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  1. Angela
    Thank you for this post. Looks like another good read, the cover is nice too :)

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. I am British so I love reading history about our strange and wonderful land. I know Morris Dancers preform strange dances but it is so great people are keeping old traditions alive. I also enjoy reading anything Alex writes.

  4. I've never heard of Morris dancing before this but I want to know more now!

  5. I really enjoyed Alex's account of her involvement with both the Viking/Saxon Warrior re-enactment and morris dancing groups. I live in the US so all that I have known about are Civil War, Revolutionary War, or Renaissance fair re-enactments. It is good to widen our knowledge base.

    And for discussing depression, I thank you for that also. I know some people who still to this day refuse to believe that it exists. I keep hoping that they will see the light one day and be more supportive of their family members!

  6. Thanks so much for the review!


  7. i enjoyed the blog post today feel that i actually learned something

  8. Great post. Many of us have masks.

  9. interesting interview :)
    love the excerpt

  10. Thank you for the interesting interview. This was the first time I've heard of Morris dancing so that is something to look more into.

  11. I've just checked Morris Dancing on the internet and it is fun! I wish I could see some day a life performance. Thank you for the interesting review

  12. I just looked up Morris Dancing and Border Morris on YouTube. It looks like a lot of fun. I really enjoyed your post. Thanks for the excerpt and giveaway. Great review Mark.

  13. Very informative post! Great excerpt.

  14. Thank you! I love getting more of the backstory...Great interview

  15. Thanks for the great interview. I live in the US so reenactments of battles here are common, but I didn't realize that you had them in there too. It makes sense, just hadn't ever heard of it.

  16. I like that It show that we all are different. That it is the differences I feel that make us as humans. If we were all this same people would be so boring. Plus I love the ancient time's and have wonder how it would be to be different from the norm.

  17. I also love history and when I was at school, then college I often partook in reenactment groups, once I was a wench with a English Civil War group and another I was a ladies maid at medieval fair, which was so much better than being a wench that had to collect the weapons and belongings of the fallen! I must confess that even though I did not Morris dance, I also used to be part of a historical folk dance group and we danced around a ribboned maypole.

    Thank you for a chance to win one of Alex's books and I am adding this one to my wish list :)