Friday, 17 May 2013
Get your imaginative hats on because there's a new contest for unpublished writers!
What's more, I'm judging the erotic romance/erotic category.
Check out all the details for the In Shadows Writing Contest and I hope to see your entries piling up on my desk...
Posted by Lily Harlem at 08:41
Wednesday, 15 May 2013
In 1867 Nicola Douglas attends a London lecture that inspires her to change her life. With no family, but a good education, she boards a ship to Australia with high hopes of a fresh start in a new country as a governess. But Sydney is full of young women with similar hopes and equally poor prospects. When Nicola is at her lowest, she meets Nathaniel West. Try as she might, her attraction to Nathaniel West grows. She also meets a visiting American, Hilton Warner. As both men shower her with attention, Nicola reaches a crisis. She came to Australia expecting to be a governess, but finding love, and being married, shows how empty her life has been since her parents' death. Her achievements at the Governess Home are vital to her. Can she have both? To reject both men would relegate her to spinsterhood, but if she makes that choice, would her career ever be enough to sustain her?
Nat shook the sweat from his eyes, ducking his head and weaving to the side, making sure he kept his shoulders and fists up high to protect his chin. From the corner of the chalked square, he made out the old hunched-back man, who stood and, holding the brass bell aloft, rang it heartily three times. Cheers and shouts went up, there was a surge towards the fighters but the organiser’s men held the rowdy mass back.
“Christ man, what’s taking you so long?” Tristan thumped Nat’s back, laughing. “You should have had him in the first minute. The man is lead-footed.”
Nat wheezed the air into his lungs and wiped the sweat from his eyes. “I want to keep out of his reach, he can hit like a hammer.”
“Nonsense, man. He’s like a windmill, arms everywhere.”
“Shut up will you, and get me some water.” Nat closed his eyes for a moment, trying to block out the sight and noise of men baying for his blood. What possessed him to agree to this fight? He was no longer a young man of twenty. It’d been a few years since he celebrated his thirtieth birthday, which should have been enough warning to give up this sort of sport and stick to cricket. He hadn’t been practising in months, and it showed.
Tristan thrust a crude tin cup into his hands and water sloshed over his wrist. “It’s only water, perhaps you need something stronger.”
“Sod off.” He gulped the water down just as the hunchback rang the bell again. Surging to his feet, he berated himself once more in agreeing to this madness. Already his opponent, some dockland fellow with missing teeth, had jabbed him in the ribs, which ached when he moved. Another lucky punch had caught his eye and likely tomorrow he’d have the bruise to show for it.
He raised his fists, keeping light on his feet as he’d been taught as a schoolboy back home in England. His wiry opponent gave a little jab, testing the way it was to be in this round, but Nat was tired of the game. It’d been a spur of the moment decision to enter the square, a desperate need to burn off some restless energy that bedding with his current mistress didn’t do last night.
Weaving, ducking, he circled the opposite man, looking for a way to end the match so he could return to his club and drown his sorrows for another day. He thought of her then, the woman who’d haunted his mind. Nicola Douglas. His blood grew thick in his veins as an image of her face swarmed before him.
He never saw the punch, just felt the intense pain of the other man’s fist hitting his jaw. The impact made him bite his tongue and the stinging pain joined the thudding ache of his face. He staggered, tasted blood. The crowd, mainly all working class, shouted encouragement to their champion and jeered at Nat when he readied himself again.
Anger cursed through Nat and brought him awake and into focus. Thinking of that damned woman had been his downfall. He’d be on his back if he didn’t concentrate.
Uttering a filthy swear word, he pivoted on one foot, danced a side-step and taking the fellow unawares gave him a quick three jab attack that sent the man to his knees. Nat jigged away, hopping from foot to foot at the edge of the square, waiting to see if he regained his feet, but the fellow knew he was beat and surrendered the purse.
Declared the winner by Mr Kent, the organiser, Nat was given the purse of four guineas. The unruly crowd went into a frenzy, the shouts and yelling growing into a deafening roar, as not many had backed Nat. He knew their thinking, a workingman’s strength up against a toff who did nothing but sit around in his club all day. But who’d got the last laugh this time? Little did they know that he enjoyed physical pursuits and had been fighting since he was a small boy. Not many had the better of him.
“Excellently done, West.” Tristan once more thumped his back and gave Nat his shirt and coat. Nat winced, moving his shoulders to ease on the shirt over the wet stickiness of his sweat-soaked body.
“Let’s get out of here.” Nat grabbed the rest of his belongings from Tristan. Now the fight was over, it wouldn’t pay to stay in this rough neighbourhood. The four guineas was hardly worth it really, but then it’d never been about the money, just the sheer joy of beating another. However, today the win left him with a sour taste in his mouth that had nothing to do with the bloodied tongue and lip.
“Wait, I’ve yet to collect.” Tristan disappeared into the press of workingmen.
Nat groaned in frustration. Hanging around would only be asking for trouble. Already he was sensing a change in the atmosphere. He kept his head down but managed to glance around, taking in the situation. Mr Kent was arguing in the corner with five men, all baying for blood. They’d lost heavily by the looks of it. Shrugging on his jacket, Nat walked backwards a bit, heading towards the barn doors and the alley beyond. Damn Tristan, where was he?
Nat swung around and waited for Kent to wield a path through the thick of the crowd towards him. “I’ve an appointment, Kent, got to go.”
“Can I book you in for another fight next month?”
“No, not this time.” He wasn’t stupid. Kent had scored a high profit today.
Tristan joined them, hurriedly stashing coins into his bulging pockets like a child stealing sweets. “Nice afternoon’s entertainment,” he said with a grin.
“Let us go.” Nat made for the door, glaring at any man who made eye contact with him. Lord, he was stupid to risk his neck at these back alley fights. If anything happened to him, Frances would be alone.
Once clear of the old barn, he squinted in the harsh sunlight. The squeal of pigs came from the slaughterhouse on the right. He shivered, despite the mild spring warmth of the September day.
“Shall we have a drink at the club?” Tristan replaced his hat as they headed left.
“I don’t particularly care. I just want to be clear of that lot in there.”
“You think it could have turned ugly?”
“I’m sure of it. Too much money changed hands. Kent has pulled a fast one I think. He’s seen me fight before but that was a new crowd.” As if to justify his words, a shout came from behind them. When Nat turned and saw the dozen or so men spilling out of the barn, yelling fit to be tied, his guts squeezed dread. He turned to Tristan and had to smile at the shock on his face. “Well, friend, I hope you can run fast.”
Monday, 13 May 2013
Wylam is a small village ten miles west of Newcastle upon Tyne, unremarked in the general scheme of things. The earliest recorded reference tells that the settlement belonged to Tynemouth Priory. It is believed that Guy de Balliol, Lord of Bywell, gave Wylam to the Priory in 1085, and the lands were held until the dissolution of the monasteries in the 16th century. Once an industrial workplace with collieries and an ironworks, it is now a commuter village for Newcastle and Hexham.
A famous man was born in the cottage on the north bank of the Tyne. George Stephenson arrived in the world on 9th June 1781. The tiny cottage housed three other families along with the Stephensons and conditions were cramped. he is famous as the man who began the railway boom, but he was not the only rail pioneer in the area. Timothy Hackworth, also born in the village, worked with Stephenson. William Hedley, born in the nearby village of Newburn, designed the engine named Puffing Billy in 1813, two years before Stephenson produced his first locomotive Blucher.
At 17 George became the engineman at Water Row pit in Newburn. Illiterate because his parents could not pay for schooling, he paid to study reading, writing and arithmetic at night, and in 1801 became brakesman who controlled the winding gear at Black Callerton Colliery. In 1802 he married Frances Henderson and moved to Willington Quay, east of Newcastle, where they lived in one room of a cottage. He made shoes and mended clocks to supplement his income. Their son Robert was born in 1803 and in 1804 they moved to West Moor, near Killingworth where he worked at the Killingworth Pit. Life was not easy, but his life was not unusual for the time.
In 1806 Frances died of tuberculosis. George left his son with a local woman and went to work in Scotland at Montrose, but returned to West Moor after a few months when his father was blinded in a mining accident. In 1811 the pumping engine at Killingworth stopped working and George offered to get it working again. His success brought him the post of enginewright for all the colliery engines at Killingworth. He went on to become an expert in steam-driven machinery.
Work with steam engines progressed throughout the 18th century. The earliest form of railway used horses to pull carts along rails. Richard Trevithick had a working steam locomotive on rails in Wales in 1804 and it worked with mixed success. He visited Newcastle and spoke of his work to colliery owners and engineers, who began experimenting with steam locomotives. In 1825 George Stephenson built the Locomotion for the Stockton and Darlington railway company. In 1829 he built the Rocket which won the Rainhill Trials which established Stephenson and his company as the pre-eminent builder of steam locomotives in the world. His rail gauge of 4 feet 8 and a half inches is the world’s standard gauge today. His cottage at Wylam is open for inspection, and what was once the railway line runs right past what was once his front door. The romance of steam lives on!
Wednesday, 8 May 2013
His Secret Dancer
Breathless Press, Calgary, Alberta
Cover Artist: Mina Carter; Editor: Tasha Taylor
Reviewed by David Russell
A truly bisexual threesome: the protagonists are Francine, who found her first awakening with a lesbian relationship on a camping expedition at 16; her husband Daniel, who has a secret transvestite alter ego as Danielle, and Tomasz, who has bisexual feelings.
Francine and Daniel are struggling with an unsatisfactory married life. Daniel’s experiments are partly motivated by a desire to escape. He has ‘a haze of feminine sexuality and masculine need; under the persona of Danielle (the name taken from his great-grandmother, a Russian ballerina), he works as a ‘T Girl’ in a night club, owned by Tomasz, an ‘alpha’ economist and stockbroker. Tomasz desires Francine. Francine, in parallel, longs for a girl’s mouth and for ‘manhood’. The furtive side of the marital relationship is portrayed by their secretly examining each others’ clothing and personal effects. In the climax, Francine falls in purported Lesbian love with Danielle. When she discovers Dan’s true identity, he experiences a synthesis of ecstasy and rage. Tomasz moved to Paris; he and Danielle meet there.
The plot is substantially thickened by the crisscrossing of desire between the 3 parties: “He (Dan) wanted them both; but he hadn’t expected that they would want each other.” He wonders if he could be both a male and a female sex partner with both of the others. His experiments have some measure of success; after much staleness, he rediscovers the frissons of adolescence. There is an exploration of polarity – “feminine sensuality underpinned by the hint of secret masculinity”.
Without the explicit physical references, this book would be romance – its beautiful cover fits perfectly into this mode. It celebrates the sensual and the tactile, the thrill and suspense of anticipation. The manifestations of those aspects in clothing and cuisine are explored in exquisite depth: “He (Dan) wanted the added sensuality of his skin being caressed by his love’s silk and nylon as his own soft feminine attire caressed hers . . . silken feminine nylon encasing rigid masculinity”. Chocolate is supremely sexy. Supremely, it honours physical beauty and faces the fact that this can be androgynous/transgender. Many of the ‘straightest’ of males like dressing up in female clothing (good beginning piece about the ‘chaps’ dressed as girls going to the May Ball). As a non-fan of the explicit, my reservations are overridden by the work’s overall lyricism and sensitivity.
Tuesday, 7 May 2013
My second MM book is out on the 7th May from Samhain. It's set partly in London, partly in the wilds of Scotland and also in Northumberland.
Keeping an eye on his charge isn’t easy. Keeping his hands off? Impossible…
It took attending his own funeral to force Logan to accept a new life as an undercover MI6 agent. That doesn’t make his latest assignment any less aggravating. Babysitting a Russian pop star with delusions that someone’s trying to kill him.
Other than an inexplicable attraction Logan ruthlessly suppresses, he couldn’t have less in common with the irritating, arrogant rich kid. He’s even prepared to walk away—until very real bullets start flying.
After his mother’s death, Zak Kochenkov’s life unravels in an impenetrable haze of grief, drugs and alcohol—until one bodyguard candidate stands out. Except his hopes of having some fun with that guard’s body evaporate when he realizes Logan is buttoned up tighter than a clam.
The first thing Logan learns is that his charge won’t do as he’s told. And there’s some secret behind his haunted eyes that shakes Logan’s resolve to keep him at arm’s length. Because he knows if he lets passion close his eyes, that’s when danger will find them both…
Product WarningsContains a sexy bodyguard with a tortured past, and a spoiled rock star with a tortured conscience. Stir (don’t shake), and prepare for spontaneous combustion
There are some pics of the settings on my blog http://barbaraelsborg.blogspot.com/
Including here! Had some fun taking this one. Those who know where it is will understand why.
Saturday, 4 May 2013
Yes I’m smiling. Last night friends and family celebrated with the requisite champagne and cheesecake. This new release makes 6 books in two years. I’m not as prolific as some, but I am steady and I have a lot of stories tucked away in my imagination. I long for a cable to plug into my ear so I can upload all the stories in my head directly to the laptop. The backlist would be HUGE.
Loving Leonardo by Rose Anderson
*** A Two Lips Reviews Recommended Read ***
A CataRomance Sensual Reads
Reviewer’s Choice Winner for Historical Romance
A Victorian polyamorous love story
with a touch of reader-interactive art history
The adventure continues…
Loving Leonardo – The Quest
Buy On Amazon
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Art Historian Nicolas Halstead never could have imagined a book Leonardo da Vinci created for his lover Salai existed, let alone lead to subtle declarations of love worked into da Vinci masterpieces. Nor did he ever picture himself a married man in a polyamorous relationship.
Happy and content, Nicolas, Ellie, and Luca embark on a quest to learn all they can about the greatest mind of the Renaissance. But their world takes a devastating and deadly turn that sends Nicolas into the seedy deviant underworld of Victorian London. It soon becomes clear that Conte Acario Bruno lives, and the madman wants far more than Leonardo’s book. He wants Nicolas dead and Luca for himself.
Ellie turned and my arms enfolded her. She murmured against my lips, "That was wonderful."
Luca said, "That was beautiful i miei amori."
Surprised, Ellie started. She laughed. "I didn't hear you come in."
"I tried to come earlier, but there were too many people in the hall. Instead I finished my bath and came when I could enter unseen. I'm glad I entered when I did. I felt the power of your coupling as if I were between you."
Ellie smiled coquettishly, "As we're students of empiricism, I believe we'll have to test that theory, won't we Nicolas?"
"Indeed." What a minx she was. Luca laughed.
Without preamble, she said, "Gentlemen, excuse me if you will. My bath will be brief."
I hurried through my own, in part because the water had gone cold, in part because Luca brought his book with him. Within minutes Ellie and I were ready to plot our course of action for the next day.
Joining Luca at the desk, we huddled over da Vinci's book with mirror and extra lamp. I looked at the text again. It was tucked into the individual angel wing feathers wrong-side-up where the sfumato blurred the feathers into the surroundings.
Luca translated the Italian for us again. "Go no further my love, lest you read the first. Seek La Scapigliata. She will show you the way."
Ellie's eyes were sparkling. "I can't wait."
We spent the next several hours discussing the extraordinary genius of the subtle gradation of tone found in sfumato. Unlike other artists of the age, Leonardo applied his range of earthy greens, blues, and browns in a glaze, each watered-down color precisely laid over a base coat. Adding form and depth to the subject and background, this fine application of color allowed the original layer to show through each subsequent layer.
Knowing technique like I did, I explained how this process of layering wasn't generally used among his contemporaries because it was time consuming, taking days to dry between applications. His system allowed him to create the illusion of depth and distance. As an artist in the truest sense of the gift, Leonardo approached painting and sculpture from the mathematical perspective of sacred geometry. This perfect symmetry was what drew the eye all these centuries later.
Though my gaze was drawn time and again to the sfumato on each page, we'd agreed, for the time being, to wait and unravel the mystery one page and one message at a time. My imagination devoured the explicit illustrations on each slowly-turned sheet. Luca's eyes met mine over a particularly arousing scene. Returning to the script, he translated for us a most beautiful expression of love.
Were I blind, my ears would hear your breath and heartbeat.
Were I deaf as well, my nose would find you by the warm scent of your skin.
Were I deprived of sight and sound and scent, I'd seek your taste.
Were I unable to see and hear and smell and taste, my hands would reach for you.
Were I a husk of a man, my heart would know you.
Ever the minx, Ellie closed the book and set it, and our theories, aside. She went to her trunk and withdrew three silk scarves. These we tied around our heads like blindfolds. Feeling our way to the canopied bed, she drew the velvet curtains closed and we immersed ourselves in total darkness. Deprived of sight, we gave over to our other senses.
I could see why Leonardo blindfolded himself. Submerged in touch and sound, scent and taste, I understood why he sought this heightened sensitivity. Deprived of sight, it was as if I'd been handed a key to unlock my other senses. The dichotomy of experiencing Luca's firm well-muscled body and Ellie's soft slender curves in complete sightlessness thrilled me beyond comprehension. Their breathy sighs and gasps filled my ears. Even the small hairs on my skin were as whiskers on a cat with which to feel their bodies in the stygian night.
I maneuvered on and around my lovers. The lavender ghost of their soap mingled with their heady musk of desire, and I tasted the salt and clean sweat of exertion upon their skin. All of it: sound, taste, touch, and scent painted a picture in my imagination. They were two exquisite dreams made flesh, and I swear I saw the glow of their souls through my blind eyes. We praised one another's perfection with an eye for detail that da Vinci himself would have surely applauded.
Tomorrow we'd find his La Scapigliata.
Friday, 3 May 2013
Yes, that's right, Confessions of a Naughty Night Nurse is FREE on Amazon UK. Go, run, grab your copy, it's only free for a limited time so please spread the word and if you enjoy my naughty nurse up to high jinx in Yorkshire, a review would be hugely appreciated!
I guess you could call me a jack-of-all-trades nurse. I find work satisfaction in whichever department the hospital needs me most, as long as it’s through the darkest hours. Needless to say I’ve seen it all over the years, been there and done that, what’s left to shock me isn’t worth knowing. But it’s so often the quieter night time where the real high jinx abound.
Yes, the nocturnal life is the one for me. With a weakness for sexy guys wearing white coats and dangling stethoscopes, my fantasies are often realised and I’m adept at finding relief from the hospital grind in shadowy corners and cosy linen cupboards.
Of course my dedication to patient comfort is paramount. What kind of nurse would I be if it wasn’t? But when one act of extreme, albeit highly inappropriate, kindness forced me to become the hospital director’s snitch, the length I went to in order to keep my job, satisfied my desires and found me the love that had always evaded me. A love that made me push even my not-so-professional boundaries to the extreme.
Posted by Lily Harlem at 09:00