Wednesday 31 July 2013

Fiction and Reality - Reluctance by Jen Black

The orangery at Gibside
Mary Eleanor Bowes was the daughter and heiress of George Bowes, a wealthy businessman who died when Mary was 11 years old. He left her a vast fortune estimated at between £600,000 and £1,040,000, which he had built up through control of a cartel of coal-mine owners. Mary became the wealthiest heiress in Britain, perhaps in all of Europe. She encouraged the attentions of many young men of noble birth and married the 9th Earl of Strathmore on her 18th birthday, 24 February 1767. According to her father’s will, the Earl changed his name from John Lyon to John Bowes. The couple lived extravagantly and the Earl spent much of his time restoring his family seat Glamis Castle.

On 7 March 1776, Lord Strathmore died from tuberculosis at sea on his way to Portugal.
At that time, the countess was pregnant by a lover, George Gray a Scottish "nabob" who had made and squandered both his and his first wife’s fortune.

Despite the pregnancy, the dowager countess was loath to marry Grey, since her loss of rank would be considerable and Grey's fortune had been lost. She maintained remarkably candid diaries for much of her life, and wrote of her many abortions brought about by drinking "a black inky kind of medicine.” She continued the affair with Grey and underwent further abortions and was on the point of marrying him when charming and wily Anglo-Irish adventurer, Andrew Robinson Stoney, manipulated his way into her household and her bed.

Calling himself "Captain" Stoney he insisted on fighting a duel in the dowager countess's honour with the editor of The Morning Post, a newspaper which had published scurrilous articles about her private life. In fact, Stoney had himself written the articles both criticising and defending the countess. He now faked a duel with the editor, the Revd. Henry Bate, in order to appeal to Mary's romantic nature. Pretending to be mortally wounded, Stoney begged the dowager countess to grant his dying wish: to marry her. Taken in by the ruse, she agreed.

The tale goes on, and it is easy to find out more about the tribulations of the countess and the prolonged court case that ensued. I have known most of these facts for many years, for the Bowes home and estates were at Gibside, not ten miles from where I live. Intrigued by the story and carried away by the sad romanticism of the now roofless Gibside Hall, I decided to write my own version, using only the bare bones of the story. Mary Eleanor became Frances Bowes, and the dreadful Stoney morphed into Mr Holbrook, so handsome in his regimentals. Frances’s mother, match-making hat firmly in place, claims that he’s admirable husband material but fails to convince Frances, who is far more concerned about Jack Slade’s dramatic re-appearance in the neighbourhood.

Gibside morphed in a fictional Gybford, but the lands and houses are true to the area if not to absolute fact, and I’ve incorporated a fictional tangle of emotions and a heart-rending denouement. I called the book Reluctance, and MuseItUp published it for me and made it available in several formats including Kindle.

Loaded by Jen Black,

Tuesday 30 July 2013

Testing Tom by Lucy Felthouse


When Katrina’s ex, Tom, turns up on her doorstep, he’s literally the last person she was expecting to see. After dumping her and running off with a vanilla chick, Tom broke the Domme’s heart and left her seriously hurting. So when he returns, begging for another chance, Katrina is understandably very confused and protective of her bruised feelings. She finds it very difficult to believe that he’s turned his back on a vanilla lifestyle for good and wants to be with her, a professional dominatrix. Rather than letting her head or her heart figure out what to do, whether to forgive him, she decides to put Tom through a series of challenges that will prove his devotion to her—or not. Testing Tom is not something she’d ever expected she’d have to do, but to her, it’s the only way she can be sure whether he’s back for good.


Katrina was halfway through an episode of her favorite drama series when her doorbell rang. She jumped, gasping as her heart lurched painfully, then pressed ‘pause’ on the remote control. Wincing slightly as she unfolded her legs from beneath her bottom—she’d been watching the program back-to-back for a couple of hours and she was stiff—she moved to the window and peered out through a gap in the curtains, careful not to let the mystery visitor see her, should she need to ignore them. Cold callers were common in her area, and drove her crazy. If she wanted to buy something, she’d contact them, not the other way around.

As it happened, it wasn’t a salesperson. She ducked back from the window, clenched her hands into fists.

“What the fuck is he doing here?”

He was literally the last person she’d expected to see standing at her door. Prince William or George Clooney would have been less of a shock.

For there, outside her house, stood the man that had broken her heart several months ago. Thomas Black. She hadn’t seen hide nor hair of him since, and now, totally out of the blue, he’d turned up.

Katrina contemplated ignoring him, going back to her show and pretending she wasn’t in. But apparently that wasn’t an option.

“I know you’re there, Katrina,” he yelled through the letterbox, “your car is on the drive, and I can see the glow of the telly through the curtains.”

Katrina decided it was time to get thicker curtains. Not wanting to cause a scene, which her nosey neighbors would no doubt adore, she moved to the front door, unlocked it and flung it open.

“Get in,” she said, quickly closing the door behind him, then turning to face her unwanted visitor. “What the hell do you want?”

He held his hands up in supplication, then spoke. “Look, I know I’m probably the last person you expected to see—wanted to see—but I have to talk to you. Please?”

He adopted the puppy-dog look he’d long-since perfected. Katrina sighed.

“You’ve got five minutes. Sit down.”

They moved over to the sitting area, and Katrina deliberately sat in the chair, so Tom couldn’t sit next to her. Settling onto the end of the sofa nearest to her, he clasped his hands together, presumably to summon his courage, and began.

“Kat, I’m here to say I’m sorry, all right? I was wrong, so wrong, to finish with you the way I did and go off with Alicia.”

“She dumped you, has she?” Katrina clenched her teeth, and felt the rage beginning to build inside her. If Tom thought he could come running back to her because his bimbo had ditched him, then he had another think coming.

“No,” he said firmly, and, she suspected, honestly. “I finished with her, actually. When I realized that I wasn’t happy with her. She never made me feel the way you do, Kat. Not once. And I know, I know it’s my fault. I wanted something… different from what we had, or at least I thought I did. I couldn’t help thinking at the time that what we did was wrong, was weird. Abnormal, even. So when Alicia started flirting with me at work, I started thinking perhaps I should try for something normal. Like everybody else out there.”

He fixed her with his soulful gaze, and continued. “But I couldn’t have been more wrong. Yes, Alicia offered me normality, a vanilla relationship, but I soon discovered it couldn’t satisfy me. Sure, she could make me come in all the usual ways—”

“Ugh, I don’t want to hear this, Tom. I don’t want to hear about your sex life with someone else!”

“Sorry, Kat. Please, just let me finish?”

When she gave a curt nod, he carried on speaking.

“Alicia could make me come in all the usual ways—I am just a man, after all—but it wasn’t the same. Wasn’t as good. It wasn’t long before I started to miss you, miss what we had together, both in and out of the bedroom. I ignored it for as long as I could, forced myself to make the effort with Alicia, but it just got to the stage where I couldn’t do it anymore. Couldn’t ignore what I was, what I enjoyed, what I needed. And that’s you, Kat. I need you, and everything that goes with you.”

As a Domme, Katrina had become an expert in hiding her feelings, whether she was aroused, angry, happy, sad… it was all stuffed behind a stern facial expression. Now, though, she almost faltered. When Tom had left her, she’d remained cool and silent until the door had slammed. Then she’d broken down. She’d been deeply in love with him, and his decision had left her devastated. Months down the line, her love for him hadn’t faded, not one bit, and the fact that he was here, right now, apparently trying to get her back, was something she’d never expected. She didn’t know whether to laugh, cry or throw something at him.

She didn’t do any of those things. She kept her face straight, her thoughts whizzing through her head at a hundred miles per hour. Eventually, after letting him squirm in his seat for a minute or so, she replied. “So what exactly are you saying, Tom? What do you want?” She knew the answer, but she wanted to make him suffer, the way he had done to her after ditching her for something, someone, that could never satisfy him.

Lucy Felthouse is a very busy woman! She writes erotica and erotic romance in a variety of subgenres and pairings, and has over seventy publications to her name, with many more in the pipeline. These include Best Bondage Erotica 2012 and 2013, and Best Women's Erotica 2013. Another string to her bow is editing, and she has edited and co-edited a number of anthologies. She owns Erotica For All, and is book editor for Cliterati. Find out more at Join her on Facebook and Twitter, and subscribe to her newsletter at: 

Saturday 6 July 2013

Guest blog: Elaine Violette - 'A Convenient Pretense'

Emily Hughes has little patience for the frivolity of the season. Marriage brought out only the worst in her parents and if she has her way, she’ll avoid matrimony altogether. Only the demands of her father are enough to force her to join her aunt in London for the festivities.
Marcus Deming, Earl of Pembridge, refuses to love after watching his father succumb to a broken heart. Marcus will marry, but only for the convenience of producing an heir. Love need have no place in a marriage.

Emily and Marcus agree to spend the season in each other’s company, fending off the worst of the suitors and their aunts’ schemes. It isn’t until Emily is called home to aid her ailing father that she and Marcus realize their pretense has escalated into something far more intense. So alike, right down to a shared stubborn streak, it’s going to take a common enemy and the ability to admit when they’re wrong for Marcus and Emily to secure the future they suddenly can’t imagine living without.


When I am reading an historical romance, I enjoy the spunky, sometimes snarky dialogue between the hero and heroine that eventually leads to a closer encounter. In my previous novel, Regal Reward, a notorious highwayman, kidnaps the rebellious daughter of an aristocrat and gets much more than he bargained for. In A Convenient Pretense, my newest release, a handsome earl refuses to believe that a young, beautiful woman prefers to become an old maid, rather than marry him. Here’s a brief excerpt between Marcus and Emily in A Convenient Pretense:

“Yes, you were going to say something else?”
“Reading,” Emily replied, perhaps too abruptly. “My father and I both love to read.”
Marcus slanted his eyes toward her. He wondered if she used books to avoid looking at her own future, particularly a marriageable one.
“I find no shame in admitting that I am a bit of a bluestocking. We often read Shakespeare’s plays together and argue our varied interpretations. Just before I left we were rereading Hamlet and arguing over the prince’s irrational behaviors. We become quite adamant in our opinions, while at the same time enjoying our debates.”
“And you thought that would shock me?”
“I am well aware that men are not always pleased with women who enjoy intellectual discussions or pursuits.”
Marcus laughed. “And since you have no desire to wed, I assume that my opinion would be the least of your concerns.”
“You are correct, of course. The single life offers the advantage of pursuing interests that a husband might scorn.”
“Scorn? What an interesting word. I find it difficult to imagine you doing anything that might be so disapproving unless, of course, you desired to step into a man’s shoes.” One side of Marcus’ lips lifted in a sardonic grin.
“And take on what would be considered a man’s occupation?” Emily glared, pursing her lips.
“How on earth did we get on this subject? I realize you are an intelligent and independent woman. Any gentleman you might choose in the future would find you quite adequate.”
“Adequate?” She winced. “I shan’t be satisfied with adequate. If I planned to marry, and I don’t, I would expect equal consideration in all matters and appreciation for my talents.”
At that, a slow, crooked grin spread over Marcus’ face. His eyes lowered to her lips and down to her low-cut gown. “I am certain your talents would be highly appreciated.”



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