I’m thrilled to welcome Anna Butler here for the final day of her tour for Gyrfalcon and The Gilded Scarab. Anna and I became friends online rather more years ago than I care to remember; when we finally met in real life, I found she is at least as warm, witty and wonderful as her writing.
Which neatly leads me to the reason she’s here. Never one to do things by halves, Anna has had two books released within days of one another. I’ve mentioned The Gilded Scarab a time or two before, and its fantastic world-building, sly humour, tension and politics, and a protagonist who isn’t as insouciant as he’d like everyone to believe. Poor health has prevented me from reading Gyrfalcon yet, but I know I’m going to be in for a treat when I do. Welcome, Anna!
I’m delighted to be here at Sarah’s blog for my last stop on what’s turned out to be a much longer blog tour than I ever anticipated.
Sarah and I go back years. More years than I care to admit to, although Sarah can be a little more sanguine about it as she appears to be wearing rather better than I am. We have met several times in real life as well as online, and I can guarantee that the writer of the best-breeched m/m romance I’ve ever read, is one of the nicest people around. I knew, you see, that when I asked online if people would be willing to host me, I could count on Sarah to step right up to help me bring it to an end, the way Sarah Madison stepped up to kick it off. They’re friends. They’ve been wonderful and supportive and it didn’t surprise me one bit.
What has humbled me is the sheer number of people with whom I’ve had only the smallest interaction in the past, who said, “Of course, come to my blog and talk about your stories. I’d be delighted! What date suits you?”
It has brought home to me, so strongly, that this is a real community of writers. Given the genre we share, that almost guarantees we have mindsets, values and philosophies in common, although that isn’t to say we all think exactly alike. Things are more shaded than that.
Of course there are disagreements and rivalries. We’re still human after all. But when push comes to shove, we are a community of people who support each other, who will give up space to help other writers market their books, who look on each other as comrades, and who are allies to the bigger LGBTQ community and work to support it. A community of people who care.
That’s a cool sort of community to belong to, don’t you think?
Bless you all. And thank you.
BLURB: The Gilded Scarab
When Captain Rafe Lancaster is invalided out of the Britannic Imperium’s Aero Corps after crashing his aerofighter during the Second Boer War, his eyesight is damaged permanently, and his career as a fighter pilot is over. Returning to Londinium in late November 1899, he’s lost the skies he loved, has no place in a society ruled by an elite oligarchy of powerful Houses, and is hard up, homeless, and in desperate need of a new direction in life.
Everything changes when he buys a coffeehouse near the Britannic Imperium Museum in Bloomsbury, the haunt of Aegyptologists. For the first time in years, Rafe is free to be himself. In a city powered by luminiferous aether and phlogiston, and where powerful men use House assassins to target their rivals, Rafe must navigate dangerous politics, deal with a jealous and possessive ex-lover, learn to make the best coffee in Londinium, and fend off murder and kidnap attempts before he can find happiness with the man he loves.
(Cover by Reese Dante)
He drew a breath so shaky I heard it from where I stood beside the bed. And another. He turned his head toward me at last, and the firelight sprang up to light the side of his face, limning his cheekbone in red-gold, sliding its way across the side of his neck and pooling shadows in the hollow of his throat, slipping more shadows under his cheekbones and edging the line of his jaw.
The firelight loved Edward Fairfax, breathed living gold into him.
The breath caught in my throat. He was beautiful in this light. Very beautiful.
“I said I’d been away a long time, just as you had,” he said. “The commitments I had… well, they involved other people and promises made that I couldn’t break. It has been a very long time since I was free to be with someone like you, Rafe. And although I’ve been back to Margrethe’s three or four times recently, I haven’t allowed things to go this far.” Edward’s smile, the little crooked turning-up of his mouth, was pained. “I think I’m a little nervous.”
I could understand that. My hands were trembly, and I had to keep working my mouth to moisten it, it was so dry. I may even have been a little nervous myself. Odd, though, how his honesty, the lack of polite evasion, prompted the same in me. “It’s been a while for me too. Not because I was ever lucky enough to find one person the way you did, if I understand what you say about commitment—the Lancaster luck doesn’t run that way. But still, the life I had, the Aero Corps… I couldn’t risk it. So it’s been a long time.” I managed a grin. “At least, a long time since it wasn’t furtive and quick and in the dark, as if it were shameful. Nothing as open as this. But what I remember of it, it’s a pleasure I would really like to taste with you.”
He nodded, and this time his smile looked real. “I would be very glad to retaste it with you, Rafe.”
I took a step toward him. He pulled his hand out of his pocket and held it out to me.
I sought for something to say as I took it. His palm was warm and dry, and his fingers curled around mine. “Do you like kissing?”
This time I got the full smile, bright and dazzling and lighting up his whole face. “I do.”
“Not all men allow it.” I made a gesture with my free hand. “There’s a spot there I’d rather like to kiss.”
The particular kissable spot was under his chin, half-hid in flickering shadow, half-lit by the firelight. I laughed when my lips settled against the skin of his throat, and he laughed with me; I felt it thrumming in his throat. I raised both hands and held his face, tilting it away from the fire. His eyes were shadowed. I used my fingertips first, following the light down the side of his jaw, tracing the line of his neck and smoothing into the warm hollow at the base of his throat. The little bones cradling it were hard under my fingers, harder still under my tongue. The hollow of his throat tasted of salt.
Edward sighed, his hands fell onto my shoulders and squeezed, his head tilted back to let me do my worst. It would be all right. We’d find our way back to our old lives together.
The next kiss wasn’t gentle. It set the world ablaze.
WHERE TO BUY THE GILDED SCARAB
All Romance as an ebook
Earth’s last known colony, Albion, is fighting an alien enemy. In the first of the Taking Shield series, Shield Captain Bennet is dropped behind the lines to steal priceless intelligence. A dangerous job, and Bennet doesn’t need the distractions of changing relationships with his long-term partner, Joss, or with his father—or with Flynn, the new lover who will turn his world upside-down. He expects to risk his life. He expects the data will alter the course of the war. What he doesn’t expect is that it will change his life or that Flynn will be impossible to forget.
As advertised, the Shield officer was proving to be the enigma that everyone had expected.
Flynn had worked it that first briefing so he got a good look before anyone else. He liked what he saw. In his black uniform, the Shield captain stood out in the crowd of Fleet pale grey. Everything about the Shield rig was plain. The rank pips in the stand-up collar of the tunic under his flight jacket were a dull silver, and only about half the size of the ones Simonitz wore. There wasn’t a medal ribbon in sight. Only the tiny, ornate Shield badge at his throat was a bright silver.
The monochromatic look suited the Shield captain, matching his black hair and the pale grey eyes. The captain’s hair had more cowlicks than a field full of heifers, spiking up despite it being worn longer than was strictly regulation. Flynn took note, too, of cheekbones so sharply defined that they looked like they’d been machine cut, and a strong mouth. The face was youthful, except for the eyes. They’d seen a lot. Altogether, the Shield captain was definitely one of the pretty people in life. Almost as pretty as Flynn himself.
Cruz, to whom he imparted this insight in the OC after Bennet’s first visit, rolled her eyes so hard it was a wonder the girl didn’t have to grope about on the deck for them. She had never appreciated his true worth. He had to guilt her into buying him a beer in reparation.
He sipped his beer appreciatively. It always tasted better when someone else was paying. “What d’you think of him?”
“Seems pleasant enough.” Cruz shrugged. “He didn’t tell us much, though. I didn’t think he would.”
“No. And that first briefing was a bit basic. Wonder what he was fishing for there.”
“We’ll likely find out in time,” said Cruz.
“I’d rather know now.” Flynn took a pull on his beer. “Simonitz doesn’t like him.”
“Did Sim ever apply for Shield?”
“You picked up on that too, did you? I don’t know, but there were a few hints there. I thought the Shield was pretty gracious about it, with Sim sitting there glowering all night.”
Cruz nodded. After a minute, she said, “He was good with Nairn, taking him seriously. Some people might have laughed or slapped the kid down.”
“Nairn’s a question mark on legs, some days.”
“He’s young for his age.”
“And getting a severe case of hero worship,” Flynn said, laughing.
Cruz looked at Flynn, brown eyes warm with affection and amusement. “He’s not the only one, I’d say.” She smiled. “Would you?”
WHERE TO BUY
Gyrfalcon is available as an ebook at Wilde City Press
Comment here and get an entry in a rafflecopter to win an Amazon gift card (drawn when the blog tour is over at the end of March).
In addition, one commentator chosen at complete close-eyes-stick-a-pin-in-it random will get their choice of a little pack of Gilded Scarab or Gyrfalcon loot and a free copy of FlashWired (a gay mainstream sci-fi novella).
Anna Butler was a communications specialist for many years, working in UK government departments on everything from marketing employment schemes to running an internal TV service. She now spends her time indulging her love of old-school science fiction. She lives in the ethnic and cultural melting pot of East London with her husband and the Deputy Editor, aka Molly the cockapoo.