Review: The Great Lover by Jill Dawson

the great lover

I’ve talked about this recently, but I’ve just finished my re-read and thought it deserved a short review.

It’s 1909 and Nell Golightly is a (fictional) maid in service at the Orchard in Grantchester, where the poet Rupert Brooke is staying. They become friendlyish and briefly intimate as it follows the ups and downs of his life during the prewar years.

So, this is a favourite book of mine. It is extremely self-indulgent, and I love it. If you would like to imagine Brooke, who was a handsome bastard, running his fingers through his floppy blond hair and getting a lot of stiffies, I recommend this book wholeheartedly.

It’s beautifully written (structurally and the quality of the prose), and cleverly written, as Jill Dawson captures Brooke’s voice so well. I’m conscious that this is a queer Romance blog and that sort of prettiness won’t appeal to everyone. That’s not to say Romance can’t be pretty because of course it very much can, but it’s usually got a bit more oomph if you know what I mean. In the middle of a kissing scene in a Romance no one is breaking off the action to talk about bees or their dead father or their overbearing mother for the fifteenth time. It’s a different focus. But I like it.

It also doesn’t have a happy ending. I know that will put some people off too, particularly as Brooke was, well, I suppose many people would call him bisexual today, though I’m not sure he’d have used that word then even if he had the vocabulary. But he died of an infected insect bite on the way to fight at Gallipoli, so we’re not plumbing tragiqueer territory here in that regard. There are also the sorts of attitudes you might come to expect from that period in time which I know some readers might be sensitive to.

Ah, but it’s so good. I was dubious the first time I read it because inserting a fictional character into a real persons life and giving them the sort of importance that Nell has in the book, seemed a bit, I don’t know, wrong? But it works. She’s a good insert because she brings a working-class perspective, which is something Brooke and his group of friends didn’t have. There’s a particularly good scene, not involving Nell but good nevertheless,  where Brooke goes to address the Working Man on Poor Law Reform and it gets across perfectly how little he understood them or himself.

Who Brooke is and how he behaves is brilliantly done. He’s very much a real, fully fleshed person. He has many and varied faults, and you can see how he was shaped by upbringing, class (he was middle-class, could there be anything more damning?), and the circles he moved in. It’s hard to feel sorry for someone when they’re saying things like “Don’t be a feminist, be a woman,” and if you don’t put the book down at any point thinking, what a tosser, I’d be surprised. But that’s what he was like. He was a bit of a tosser. He does a lot of tossing off in the book, intellectually and physically.

I always describe Brooke as my problematic fave. I know he was a nob, and a nob that could easily be taken down in an argument. I also know he was human and his circumstances were what they were. And, of course, he’s dead. He can’t grow or change (or defend himself, which is probably a good thing). I have to accept what’s there, even if I don’t like it.

And that’s what this book does. Nell judges him but she accepts him too because she’s in no position to change him either.

With all that in mind, I declare this book a five star read! I hope that if anyone decides to read it off the back of this review that they enjoy it as much as I do.


On context

So my last post was a gushing review, and this is about one of my favourite books ever. There’s a lot of love here at the moment! But I notice that not everyone loves the things I love as much as I do so I wanted to talk about context.

I’m currently re-reading The Great Lover by Jill Dawson. I’ve read it lots of times before and it’s great. I recommend it wholeheartedly! But when I added it on Goodreads I noticed it was rated 3.21 overall which seems very low for a book of such high quality.

I suspect it’s because it’s called The Great Lover, which is the name of a poem by Rupert Brooke, who is the subject of the novel. And while Brooke was extremely good looking and was interested in a number of women, he wasn’t exactly Don Juan. It might have given readers the wrong impression.

He was also quite a fragile man (the book does, in part, cover the period of his nervous breakdown and I know from personal experience people can by none too sympathetic), and somewhat problematic–another thing that might put them off. As it’s based on his life, there’s not the same narrative you’d get with a completely fictional book, though the fictional character Nell’s story provides structure. Basically, I can think of a lot of reasons why a casual reader who has never heard of him might be disappointed with the book.

But it’s fantastic. Jill Dawson gets Brooke’s voice spot on. I’ve spent a lot of time reading his articles, poetry, and letters and if I didn’t know what was real and what was obviously fictional, I could not tell you where the joins are. It’s a really superb piece of craftsmanship. She made him what we know he is (a total arse) and what we want him to be (a flirty dreamboat), which is really quite something. There are times when you won’t like him very much and there are times you’ll be sympathetic. You may even get a bit swoony on occasion.

It’s literary, but also extremely fanficcy. There’s a lot of stuff about how gorgeous he was and a great deal of focus on him getting erections. As a Romance reader and writer, I’m used to men stiffening up at the mere thought of a kiss, but there’s a lot even by my reading standards. If there’s one take away this book, it’s that Brooke’s penis stood to attention a fair bit.

Jill Dawson is a bit of a Brooke fangirl. I once read an interview with her where she said she was handed one of his notebooks and she was aware that, kept in his top pocket, it would have been close to his heart. And I remember laughing because that’s exactly the sort of over the top cheesy stuff I love and then wishing I could hold it too.

That’s not to say he’s perfect in it. God, that would take a lot of scrubbing. Real people are not perfect, nor should they try to be. Nothing is glossed over. You’ll either be able to feel sorry for him or you won’t and I wouldn’t blame you if you couldn’t.

But it’s a really good book, and I’d like it regardless of the subject matter because I enjoy the parts with violet-eyed Nell who acts as our window into his world. She’s a very practical and level-headed young woman and is the perfect counterpart to him. No nonsense. No swooning unless she’s looking at his hair, face, or feet (or erection) and that’s just noticing really, not swooning. She’s hardly noticing at all. Definitely no swooning going on haha.

I can recognise that a lot of the reason I love it is my own context. I’ve got all the background stuff in my head already from countless hours reading about him and his friends, and where he went and what he did, and reading it in his own voice. I’ve had tea at the Orchard and walked passed the Old Vicarage. I’m no expert on Brooke, but I’ve got considerably more knowledge of him going into it than other casual readers.

Personal context is, in my mind, the most important part of how I as a reader interact with a book–this book, for example, and in my last post when I talked about Wintergreen and My Last Husband. I’m sure there were lots of references in those that passed me by entirely because I’m not a great reader of horror, but I recognised the nods to Wilde and so read through that lens.

Of course, good writing requires no context to understand. Accessibility is important and who wants to be the sort of smug cunt that’s obsessed with their intellect? Yawn. Also, speaking as a reader again, who wants to only read difficult books in their leisure time when there are so many fun books out there too? I know I don’t! By the way, none of the books I’ve mentioned in this post require any kind of special background knowledge to read them. They are all great on their own merit. I wouldn’t call two of my favourite living writers smug cunts! You can make up your own minds about Wilde and Brooke.

I suppose what I’m getting at is that sometimes a book is what is presented on the page and sometimes it’s all the things that have come before it in the reader’s life. I cannot help what I do and don’t know and so what a book ends up meaning to me is invariably based upon that.

You see, I have a great love for The Great Lover because I feel like it was written for me. It’s not, obviously, but that doesn’t change how I feel when I’m reading it. It’s like someone asked what sort of book I would like and then wrote it down for me to find in Waterstones one day. Books have an emotional impact beyond the storyline. You can read a book that impresses you, entertains you, or moves you, but it’s very hard to find a book that plucks who you are and what you love out of the air and gives it life. Those are the really special ones.

From the opposite point of view, a book can really hurt you. I read a short story by EM Forster the other day called Albergo Empedocle. It’s about a man who doesn’t sleep for three days and then has a psychotic episode from which he doesn’t recover. He imagines a past life as a Greek and then ends up living it in an asylum. I’ve lived through something frighteningly similar, though I did recover. After reading it I had some diazepam and a ropey few days.

Being part of the MM romance community, I see a lot of talk about hurtful books. Be it praise or criticism, authors would do well to put any feedback into context. Who does it come from and why? It must be hard to write about (if not for) a group of people if you’re not listening to them and interacting with them in meaningful ways.

Whatever a writer’s intention, whatever has gone into creating the book, readers will bring something of themselves to it. That’s why a book can be marvellous when you’re fifteen and dreadful when you’re thirty-five. And why a 3.21 rating on Goodreads doesn’t matter a jot.

On stuff I like

I’m going to be blogging more, which is a distraction from fiction writing but a necessary one. For years writing was my hobby and I found it fun and relaxing. Now it’s work, and it’s work I can do all day if I don’t stop myself. If I spend a lot of time doing it all day I then cannot bear doing it at all for months.

So, I need a new hobby, or in this case a return to an old one. I’ve never really been able to get into normal fandoms and have always been more interested in fangirling queer creatives–many problematic, some of questionable talent, all of them dead. I used to fall head over heels in love at the drop of a particularly good couplet and then chase them around the country (no small feat for a non-driver) going and seeing things they saw and places they lived. I can’t do that now I’m a parent, but I can blog about them here and share it with you all.

Hopefully this will help me be more productive on the fiction side because I’ll be relaxed and happy.




The Ruin Series- Alexis Hall (An Act of Fangirling)

It’s that time. The Alexis Hall fan club is now in session. I have given in to fawning because he is so marvellously talented I hardly know what to do with myself when I’m reading him.

This series is currently four shorts, one available through Riptide and three you can get for free by visiting his website (worth doing, particularly if you are interested in Hugh Grant movies and ducks).

Sand and Ruin and Gold is the first and the longest of the books and is about the relationship between a performing merman and his trainer. It’s lyrical, written like a fairy tale and without a word of dialogue. I would guess (I over think most books, but this is with a bit of leading from a Goodreads review by the dedicatee, which I read before reading the book) it’s a metaphor for MM Romance as a genre, not just in the form of the voiceless, untameable merman who is kept in captivity like a killer whale, suffering all the accompanying injuries they sustain in that situation and forced to perform tricks, but also the princely trainer who has been genetically engineered to physical perfection. It’s not a romance, and it is quite sad. They are two different species and ultimately belong to different worlds.

I found it thought-provoking and a bit unnerving. I’m a queer person and have always read queer literature, and consequently, that’s left me reading a fair amount of MM Romances over the past ten years. For numerous personal and financial reasons, I’ve chosen to write them. It made me feel a bit uncomfortable, which was, I think, the aim of it too. The book is about them being seen as queer men, but I suppose it’s also about the ugliness many see when they look at the genre.

Draconitas is the second story in the series. This was a creepy little thing, seemingly set in the same post-apocalyptic world as S+R+G, and featuring another prince. This one is on trial, and he meets a beautiful dragon man who is into flattery, hoarding treasures (there is a theme developing here, stick with it), and consent. It’s so short that if I say much more I’ll give away the ending but it’s a bit of fun.

Wintergreen is different. There’s no prince, no ruins, no monsters. It feels like it’s set in the real world. Oscar Wilde and Christie’s auction house exist in its universe. It’s not a story as such, just a little scene about making a cup of tea. It is rather kinky.

I must confess, I have been told by many an ungrateful sod that I make a dreadful cup of tea. I have clinical anxiety and couldn’t maintain my former six cups a day habit so now I have to buy decaf. It’s just brown water with a bit of milk in it. So reading about how to make a proper cup was, for me, a strange sort of thrill. Tea makes me jittery, but the act of making tea is actually very soothing and yet, because it has to be a perfect cup, there’s an underlying tension to the scene.

It’s quite romantic, I thought, though I suppose the talk of knives and corrections, wax running like blood, might be unsettling to some. We don’t know the gender of the characters involved or much about them. The narrator is a sex worker and a sub, the dom has money and unusual tastes. They don’t have sex. There’s love there, on both their parts.

I think it’s probably my favourite of the tales because I dreamed about it a few days after I read it. I am a decidedly vanilla person and far too self-conscious to ever indulge in the sort of stuff that goes on in kinky books. I read them dispassionately, often by accident because I don’t spend a lot of time looking at blurbs or reviews and I’m a total cover whore. But for some reason, this stayed with me and not in the same way S+R+G did.

It probably stayed on my mind because I re-read The Picture of Dorian Gray immediately afterward, and while I don’t like much beyond its trash-melodrama style (which I flipping love), it was the perfect companion piece. For all Wilde’s aestheticism, that is a book with quite a lot to say, no matter what he might have argued in the preface. But Wintergreen, with its pretty prose and allusions to blue china, felt like it had hit the mark dead on. As an exercise in the aesthetic, I’m more than a little bit in love with it.

And then, reader, and then I only went and bloody read the last book in the series so far, My Last Husband. And if reading Wintergreen before The Picture of Dorian Gray was a happy accident then reading My Last Husband straight after was like winning the lottery.

It’s gloriously, vulgarly aesthetic. A chef with 31 Michelin Stars! “Doesn’t everyone have a van Gogh?” I was howling! And the horror is all done with an easy aristocratic charm. Oscar WISHES he could! And I was just grinning and laughing and loving every line of it, and by the end I had goose pimples. Not just because it was creepy but because I knew I’d read something that was really really good.

I think this little series of shorts perfectly showcases what I have come to admire about Alexis Hall. He’s often clever but never seems to suffer from the burden of having to be clever every time. I fear this may make him a bit of a genius.

On Dorian Gray AKA Vanessa the Iconoclast

I threatened to write a blog about how much I love Dorian Gray and here it is. This is also a blog about The Picture of Dorian Gray which *spoiler alert* I do not love.

The Picture of Dorian Gray was probably the first queer book I read. It was that or Naked Lunch. I would have been somewhere between twelve and fifteen years old, and I would say that it’s aesthetic certainly had an effect on young me. I wouldn’t have called myself Mulberry if I didn’t love a bit of purple, and I have always enjoyed a campy, overdone melodrama. This is very much that. It’s chock full of exclamation marks, half the dialogue is cried rather than spoken (the rest, unfortunately, is dense, self-satisfied paragraphs of crap often passed off as either insight or wit), and the prose is ultraviolet. Everything is “monstrous.” If, like me, you have ever admired a blush suffused upon an ivory cheek, this one is for you. The book’s one saving grace is that it is, as a piece of literary art, pure trash. I love that.

I re-read it this week and it’s much worse than I remember it being when I was a teen, though, I’d read Teleny last year, so I wasn’t wholly surprised. Teleny is a truly terrible erotic novel often attributed to Oscar Wilde. It has a lot of sex, much of it grotesque. One scene that sticks in my mind has a man shove a bottle up his arse and it breaks inside of him. He’s going to die anyway, so he shoots himself instead to maintain a bit of dignity. In another, Des Grieux, the main character, finds his mother shagging his lover Teleny. This leads to both men attempting suicide. It’s pretty awful, but I can’t help but admire the fact someone managed to dream this stuff up, write it down, and we’re still reading it more than a hundred years later. To me, that’s a win.

And therein also lies The Picture of Dorian Gray’s achievement. It’s considered a classic, and it’s still being read. And not read. I often think Oscar Wilde is considered a great wit by people who haven’t read him. He made a name for himself out of a dozen good epigrams. Unfortunately for readers, they were inelegantly shoehorned into quite the most dreadful shit.

Harry gets most of the good lines because he does most of the talking. He’s a man who loves his own voice and his opinions, most of which are trash. He’s one of those idiotic men who thinks he’s very clever because other men bother to listen to him. The book is grossly misogynist, anti-Semitic, racist, and generally tiresome but it is at its worst when Harry is talking, which is pretty much all the time during the first two thirds. The book shouldn’t even be called The Picture of Dorian Gray. It should be called Lord Henry Thinks He’s Cleverer Than You (But He’s Not).

I try not to judge historical works of literature, or indeed modern literature, for containing unpalatable attitudes and unlikable characters. The world is not perfect, I don’t expect or want art to be either, and that is my privilege. Your mileage may vary on the matter. I can distance myself from such things normally as a consumer and a creator as these characters exist for a reason. But I could quite happily punch Harry in the face because he is the most odious turd of a man.

There are some good points. When the book gets going, it really gets going. And Basil is a very sweet character and his romantic feelings for Dorian are genuinely charming. The artist in love with his muse is something I will eat with a spoon at every opportunity. Shame he had to die really.

Not only is it still read, it has also been adapted, most recently into Dorian Gray, a movie which is almost wholly unlike the book. It is wildly decadent. We actually get to see the parties and girls and boys and gin and opium, and Dorian has a personality of his own! He’s not just some vanity stricken boy fallen under the influence of a fatuous windbag. He delights in his own wickedness. And he has learned to be truly wicked deep down in his soul.

While The Picture of Dorian Gray is a turgid philosophical novel about, amongst other things, beauty, Dorian Gray is simply beautiful. Well, the CGI isn’t beautiful. It’s not even good by 2009 standards, but the clothes, the sets, the cast all come together perfectly. Ben Barnes is gorgeous. I’ve seen him on stage twice back when he was in Birdsong, and he’s even better looking in real life. Really an astonishingly beautiful creature. Breathtakingly handsome. Everything Dorian should be.

And it’s a proper horror. Dark and creepy and dangerous throughout while the book waits for the third act before we get even a whiff of the gothic. I loathe horror usually, but I really enjoy it in this film. I’m not someone who enjoys being scared, but I think that it appeals to me on so many other levels that it has never truly scared me. I enjoy Dorian’s Victorian look and bisexual bad boy behaviour too much to find him frightening. That’s how I want to die.

Perhaps that’s my problem, that I’m too shallow, too interested in the aesthetics of it to be moved by the book. Dorian Gray is pretty by today’s standards, not 1890’s. It’s modern narrative structure is an improvement to that in the book; the dramatic elements within it are more believable. Sybil doesn’t have to kill herself for being a terrible actor! Which is a pity, because that is rather fun. She gets to be pregnant outside of marriage instead.

Beauty in The Picture of Dorian Gray is aestheticism. It consists of long descriptions of jewels and embroidery and other assorted knickknack finery. It’s about name dropping the sorts of people you’ll only know about if you’ve had a classical education or someone has written a particularly enthralling twitter thread about them. At times it’s so awkwardly and embarrassingly pretentious  (normally a major plus point for me but we all have our limits) that you’ll be tempted to skip the whole thing and just go see Doctor Faustus instead. That’s got simmering homoerotic undertones, at least you know who Helen of Troy is, and hey, it’s called a Faustian pact, isn’t it?

This pithy observation was brought you by the Campaign to make Kit Marlowe your Historical Queer Fave.

Of course, the book was written at the end of the nineteenth century. I can appreciate that it is of its time and I can certainly appreciate that it is of it’s movement. I can appreciate that it was once considered scandalous and immoral. I can appreciate the size of the bollocks Oscar Wilde needed to write this book and then release it to the public. I can, more specifically, empathise with other people who love Oscar Wilde for what he represents as a visible and vocal figure in queer history. He is the purplest of all homosexuals, of course everyone is a bit in love with him. Wouldn’t it be marvellous if his writing could live up to the hype! But its just not a very good book.

To me that’s the irony of the whole thing. The Picture of Dorian Gray is a novel grown ugly up in the school room while Wilde is kept forever alive and beautiful by the image he and it represent to us. As he said, those that go beneath the surface do so at their peril.

Now I’m really going to shock you because, despite the fact it’s obnoxious, I’m going to recommend you read it. I don’t think people should feel obliged to read classics because they’re classics (though many are brilliant), life’s too short for that, but I do think young queer people should know their own cultural history. Some of that entails watching Paris is Burning, which is fabulous. Some of that entails slogging your way through The Picture of Dorian Gray.

And some people like the book. Who am I to judge? I’m not the arbiter of good taste after all. I’m just a woman.

Now for some obligatory throat porn. It is a little known fact that Ben Barnes has genetically more in common with giraffes and sharks than other humans. Enjoy.


An interview with Matt Doyle!


Today I’m welcoming fellow Ninestar author, Matt Doyle, to my blog. Matt is here to talk about himself and his latest book, Addict.

Hello Matt! Tell us a little bit about yourself and your latest book.

Hi everyone. My name is Matt Doyle and I’m a UK based author. Depending on your definition, I’m either Bi or Pan, and I identify as Gender Fluid. Most of my work has a grounding in science fiction, but I tend to blend it with other genres too. As well as writing far too many books at once, I also run a pop culture blog, am an avid cosplayer, and dabble a little with art.

My latest book, Addict, is the first novel in my new series, The Cassie Tam Files. The books are LGBT tech noir, meaning that they combine some elements of science fiction with crime noir, and feature an LGBT protagonist. Basically, imagine throwing a hard-boiled detective into the near future and you’re on the right route.

Addict was released in May 2017 via NineStar Press, and follows a PI named Cassie Tam on her latest case. She’s hired by Lori Redwood to investigate her brother’s death as, although the police declared him to be one of many VR junkies to accidentally overdose on synthetic stimulants, she believes that there’s something more going on. Cassie thinks that it’ll be easy money, but the more that she digs, the more that things don’t seem to add up. The second book was also signed by NineStar Press, and I hope to have a release date soon.

What attracted you to writing an FF novel?

You know, you’re the first person to ask me that. It wasn’t actually planned that way. I’d had the concept for the mystery and some of the tech pieces in mind for a little while, and I knew that I wanted to write a Chinese-Canadian protagonist who happened to be gay, but I hadn’t really nailed down the finer details of the MC. It was when I sat down to start writing – with the intent of just seeing what character developed – that Cassie essentially wondered into my head and told me in no uncertain terms that this was her book. Having a fully formed character waltz into your mind is a blessing, so I wasn’t going to argue with her.

I should note that had the character been a Chris Tam for example, I would still have had gone down the same route though. You see, I come across more LGBT novels than any other genre. I’m not a pure romance writer by nature though, and I’m frankly awful at erotica, so the idea was to continue writing genre fiction that just happened to have an LGBT lead. The main thing for me was to tell a tale where the MC’s sexual orientation was simply part of who they are rather than the whole focus. Cassie fits that well for me; she’s smart, tough, snarky, and happens to be attracted to women.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

I’m somewhere in between. Usually, I’ll plot some key points but leave most of the book open to pantsing, then go into it and realise that I still haven’t learnt the lesson that I should really be more of a plotter. That being said, some of my favourite scenes have come from just winging it, so there’s clearly a method to my madness, even if it is accidental.

Who are your major literary influences?

It isn’t always apparent, but I do draw a lot from a few different places. Terry Pratchett is a big one because his work has been with me since I was about ten. He really taught me that you could have complex, serious stories, but still have some humour to them.

Mark Z Danielewski is another big influence right now. House of Leaves is one of my favourite books of all time, and even if I don’t myself write ergodic literature, reading it reminds me that it’s fine to experiment and try new things in my work.

I’m also a big lover of Urban Fantasy. Kelley Armstrong and Patricia Briggs essentially provide me with models for how to set my stories out. It’s been mentioned a few times in fact that Addict feels a little like an Urban Fantasy novel at times. That was intentional, because I enjoy how the genre builds stories.

What sort of goals do you have for your career?

Ah, to be able to make a living doing this. I’d be happy to be making a regular income that covers the bills. That’s a little boring as an answer though, so if we’re looking to the bigger goals, I’d really love to see my work adapted into other media. Seeing Cassie Tam as a Netflix series or a getting the Telltale Games treatment would be so cool!

And finally, if you could pass on one thing you’ve learnt since your writing career began, what would it be?

It would be this: there’s no one right way to do this. There are so many stories that we can tell, and even more ways that we can tell them. Should you seek advice from others? Of course you should. Just know that not all of it will likely fit with you. The best thing you can do as a writer is to find your path and tell the stories that you want to tell.

Thanks for taking the time to talk to us today, Matt!


New Hopeland was built to be the centre of the technological age, but like everywhere else, it has its dark side. Assassins, drug dealers and crooked businessmen form a vital part of the city’s make-up, and sometimes, the police are in too deep themselves to be effective. But hey, there are always other options …

For P.I. Cassie Tam, business has been slow. So, when she’s hired to investigate the death of a local VR addict named Eddie Redwood, she thinks it’ll be easy money. All she has to do is prove to the deceased’s sister Lori that the local P.D. were right to call it an accidental overdose. The more she digs though, the more things don’t seem to sit right, and soon, Cassie finds herself knee deep in a murder investigation. But that’s just the start of her problems.

When the case forces Cassie to make contact with her drug dealing ex-girlfriend, Charlie Goldman, she’s left with a whole lot of long buried personal issues to deal with. Then there’s her client. Lori Redwood is a Tech Shifter, someone who uses a metal exoskeleton to roleplay as an animal. Cassie isn’t one to judge, but the Tech Shifting community has always left her a bit nervous. That wouldn’t be a problem if Lori wasn’t fast becoming the first person that she’s been genuinely attracted to since splitting with Charlie. Oh, and then there’s the small matter of the police wanting her to back off the case.

Easy money, huh? Yeah, right.


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On Goodies and Baddies

I’ve just finished editing my anthology short for Manifold Press, The Lord and Christopher Sly, and one of the editing comments I received was that the lord is a character of “dubious integrity.” Now, I really liked that phrase when I saw it and it summed up quite nicely what I like about my characters too.

I’ve always considered myself a good person, a moral person, if you will. I think the majority of people think of themselves as such, whether their version of morality means voting for Trump or supporting human rights, and most people aren’t self-aware enough to recognise when they fail to reach their own predefined notions of good and bad. I see it all the time on Twitter, where I think the desire to be decent and to be heard, probably reaches its zenith. Sometimes those goals clash. At least most people are trying, and if nothing else, it’s not Facebook.

My experience is that most people range from full-on hypocritical to just a bit wishy-washy when it comes to being good. I’m not sure that makes the best characters every time, but it is how people really are for the most part.

So, what sort of man is my lord? Well, if you are familiar with The Taming of the Shrew, you will know he’s the sort of man that will play a trick on a tramp which, in my mind, makes him a total shit. I was queering things up, so in this instance he’s motivated by his romantic interest in Christopher Sly, but the trick still entails getting him into bed, which is a bit cheeky, let’s be honest. He wouldn’t touch Sly without permission, he’s not evil, but he’ll certainly enjoy seeing him in his bed.

I do quite enjoy an evil character, though I’ve not yet written one. I’ve got an idea for a bisexual love triangle about three absolute rotter conmen/women, but I’m not sure it will ever see the light of day. I know most of the queer romance community is sick of the bad bisexual trope, but personally, I love it. More bad boy and bad girl bisexuals, please!

Squeaky clean heroes just get a bit boring sometimes, I think. I’m the sort of person who watches Dorian Gray and thinks he wussed out too soon. He could have slutted about for another twenty-five years! I’d love to read the story of an out of control Dorian shagging his way around Europe, a trail of exhausted prostitutes and frustrated policemen in his wake. I mean, I know he ruined Sybil and murdered poor old Basil, but he’s awful pretty and good fun at parties. How can anyone say no to this face?


One day I will do a blog post on all the reasons why I love Dorian Gray, but it will mostly be gifs of Ben Barnes throat porn and those big shark eyes of his.

And talking of pretty boys of dubious integrity, I’m currently working on the last Trojan Men book, Paris, and Helenus. Paris is a piece of work in my first book, but by book four he’s mellowed enough that he’ll put Troy above his own desires. He’s no longer a legendary shagger, mores the pity, but he’s about to meet his fated mate. Let’s hope he’s worth it, eh Paris?

2017 Round-Up

2017. The only year that could be worse than 2016. I don’t even want to begin talking about the political fuckery that is going on in the US and UK right now because I’ll just rant for two hours and reach the conclusion that the French had it right all along. Vive la guillotine! Or, at least, lock the thieving bastards up.

But as it’s my blog and I’d like to make myself feel better, I thought I’d list all my writing achievements in 2017 and what I’m hoping to achieve in the coming year.

Three contract offers!

Seven releases!

Finally set up my newsletter!

Quite pleased with that, all told, though I do wish I’d written longer stories. My word count for releases is only 160k. That’s one novel to some writers!

These were some of my other goals for the year:

  • Sell 1000 books
  • Earn £1000
  • Get 1000 KENP reads on one day.
  • Get into the top 100 on Amazon Gay Romance.
  • Have 100 followers on my Facebook author page

Counting Kindle Unlimited reads and freebies (my rules and IDGAF), I’ve more than achieved the first goal. My readership seems to be 70% KU so hello to you all! Hello to all the non KU readers too! You guys all keep me going so here’s a big THANK YOU to you all!

I did not earn £1000 unfortunately. Maybe next year!

I did get 1000+ KENP reads on lots of days! I peaked at roughly 2,800.

I did get into the top 100 on Amazon Gay Romance! Strictly Incubusiness climbed to 94 in the paid UK chart! I was very pleased with that.

I did not get 100 followers on my Facebook author page. In fact I think I’ve finished the year with less followers than I started with. Oops. In my defence, I loathe Facebook and rarely go there. It has been much neglected by me. And on that note, if you’d like to keep up with me then my Newsletter, which comes with a free copy of The Folly, and Twitter are the best places to do it.

So, what’s to come in 2018? More novellas. I’ve got several historical novellas plotted and I’d originally hoped to release them all this year but they’ll move to 2018 instead. There will be the final Trojan Men books, at least two Alexander Club books, and I’ll finish writing and polishing the second Goldfox book and then work out what is going to happen to it. There may be a comedy too, set in the same world as Strictly Incubusiness. It all depends on whether or not CB Archer will be hosting another #Buttweek. I have also plotted a full length novel which I intend to write and then submit to either an agent or a publisher I’ve not worked with before. We shall see. I’m very keen on spreading around the risk with my writing, self-pubbing some, working with various presses with others, but it means my plans for how and when to release each MS often change several times even while I’m writing.

Anyway, that’s what I hope to achieve. Chances are I will write several books that I hadn’t planned on, just as I did this year!

In Development 2018

This is a very rough outline of what to expect for 2018. It looks a bit ambitious again, but I’m hoping to hit this as a target this time. Four of these titles are in the editing stages, three are partially complete first drafts, and another three are freebie shorts under 5k each. So this won’t represent masses of writing for me this year and feels quite doable. Only two are full length novels, and short ones at that.

January Atymnius and Sarpedon (Trojan Men)
February Untitled Regency
March An Important Man (Alexander Club)
April A Mulberry Morsel
May Anthology Short
June Paris and Helenus (Trojan Men)
July Untitled Fantasy Comedy
August A Mulberry Morsel
September The Billionaire and the Ballet Dancer
October A Man for the Gentleman
November Untitled Christmas Short (Alexander Club)
December A Mulberry Morsel


Desires of the Deep–CB Archer. Release Day Review!



Cliff Waters has been mistakenly assigned to the Underwater Wing of The College of United Monsters (C.U.M.) and trying to fit in is like being a fish out of water, except he is underwater, and is not a fish. Sudden surges in popularity (as well as sudden urges) now fill up Cliff’s schedule to the absolute limit. How will Cliff cope with becoming the most popular man in the underwater campus? With lots of sexy man on man action of course!


This is the start of a new series from CB Archer. The gaymer theme is gone but the monsters remain, and this time it’s a whole university!

Cliff is the only human to be enrolled in the underwater classes and the merfolk love him, particularly his long human legs. He is dependent on magical merfolk kisses to keep from drowning and finds no shortage of willing volunteers. But there’s more than merfolk down there and he has caught the eye of sweet Humboldt who is interested in more than his legs!

Although this was a new setting, this book is very much still in the CB Archer mould. There’s puns a plenty, lots of one liners, and trademark CB outlandish characters and even more outlandish sexy situations. I had many a chuckle, especially at Barb the lady dragon!

I am a big CB Archer fan (dare I say the biggest?). I laugh on every page of his books and love how wonderfully silly he can be. If you are looking for something that is unique and queer and hilarious then this is the book for you.

Amazon Global       Goodreads       Publisher


Clunk! Cliff watched through the crack with a hushed sense of curiosity. A heavy helmet was tossed onto a Slam Sports™ bag, which Cliff knew had to be the original slam noise he heard before. Two more sets of Slam Sports™ bags were flung onto the bench, followed by two more helmets. One of the bags, clearly not ever treated with respect in all of its days, burst open to reveal the contents. Pads, jock strap, jersey, athletic cup, grease paint. This was all football gear. That made sense, Cliff knew that the College of United Monsters had one of the best football teams around and try-outs would be happening all week.

“What the hell is wrong with both of you today?” A gruff voice called out, “We spent all summer training and now neither of you can even remember that try-outs started today!”

A senior merman, with the biggest physique Cliff had ever seen, swam into the change room and started to put on his football gear like a practiced pro. He had long, pink hair, but on him, it was manly.

“That’s Lance Dolphini,” whispered a voice from the next stall. “He is the star running back.”

The voice had known it was caught in the act of spying earlier, and now it was providing helpful exposition, perhaps in an attempt of peace.

Cliff wondered for a moment how a merman could be the star running back for a football team that he knew played exclusively on land. He wondered so hard that his grade in Suspension of Disbelief plummeted to a C-.

“It isn’t our fault!” the nameless green-haired merman from earlier said, as he rounded the corner into view.

“Yeah!” agreed a voice that Cliff recognized before he came into view. Leith McWhalen, the winner of more kisses from Cliff today than anyone, came into the room.

“Yeah, yeah. I heard all about how you two want to be where the people are.” Lance, the star, scoffed. “What’s the matter, can’t keep it in your tails for two minutes?”

The unnamed green-haired merman protested fiercely. “You don’t understand, Lance, you haven’t seen him.”

Leith’s face lit up. “Yeah, he has legs and stuff! He uses them to walk around on those — what do you call them? — feet, I think. He’s perfect!”

Cliff couldn’t help but blush. He did have legs and it showed.

“Heh. I’m sure I could resist the legs of one puny human. No sweat,” Lance said as he snapped on his merman jockstrap and flexed confidently.

“Plus he needs my kisses to live,” Leith said through a grin.

Cliff coughed out a strand of bubbles. This was perfect timing. His Merfolk Kiss was starting to wear off. Soon he would no longer be able to breathe. He turned to whisper a prayer to the next stall, begging for a Merfolk Kiss but all he saw was a flash of purple as it darted out of a nearby window. Escaping was a perfect plan and he would follow.

Cliff darted towards the window, forgetting that Merfolk Kisses made the recipient a much better swimmer than they are normally. As opposed to a stealthy escape like planned, he managed to crash out of the stall and land face first onto the tile floor with a squeak.

Three startled mermen were looking down at Cliff.

Lance was the first to break the silence. “Holy crap. You told me he had thing-a-ma-bobs, but I didn’t realize how … leggy they would be.”

Cliff remembered that he had legs and they were sprawled all over.

“Fuck, look at his perfect legs. I bet he can walk. I bet he can run. I bet he can stay all day in the sun,” the green-haired merman said as he felt up his mernipple.

Cliff remembered that he was still wearing only his Speedo from his earlier shower.

“I’ve already had to go five solo rounds today to calm down the McWhalen thanks to his kisses. This is fuel for another round now. Watch how my fire — what’s the word? Burns!”

Cliff remembered that he was also about to drown. That was the most important thing to remember and he should have remembered that first. Cliff lifted his arms and the three mermen helped him up. He frantically gestured at his mouth to try and convey his message.

Leith grinned. “With pleasure!”

Cliff was brought in close to the handsome merman, who planted only a small peck of a Merfolk Kiss on his lips. Oxygen filled his lungs, but he knew it wouldn’t last for more than a few breaths. He gave a quizzical look.

“If you want more, I got plenty,” Leith said with a smirk. “Come and take them!”