Thank you, lovely Addison, for having me as a guest on your blog again! I’m Ellie Thomas, I write MM Historical Romance, and I’m here today to chat about Queer Relations, my September release for JMS Books.
As a terrible history nerd, I enjoy writing about the social and historical context in the chosen period where my stories are set, and I’m always mindful that MM relationships were illegal in the UK until as late as 1967. However, that doesn’t mean that throughout history, there weren’t openly gay individuals or thriving gay scenes in our major cities. The 18th-century area of London, commonly known as Sodomites Walk, says it all!
Despite punitive laws, many devoted couples over the centuries simply slipped under the legal radar, and of course, it always helped if you were wealthy and privileged and had the right connections, a bracket into which some of my ensemble cast falls.
Queer Relations is set in the rarified world of London’s West End in the Regency period and is the follow-up story to Twelve Letters, my story for JMS Books’ twelfth-anniversary celebrations. As a backdrop, it features the same couples who got together in the first book, Jo Everett and Daniel, and Jo’s best friend, Ben Harding and Edward leaving the focus on the next would-be couple in the group.
At the start of Queer Relations, bratty toast of the ton Percy Havilland and older lover Nathaniel Brooks (who should know better) are circling warily around each other, unsure whether their mutual attraction will end in a relationship or disaster!
Gorgeous and spoiled, Percy conducts his affairs with gentlemen in private while publicly gracing the grand ballrooms of Mayfair. After all, at only twenty-three and the fourth son of a baronet, he’s under no pressure to marry. Percy has no issue with being an openly gay man within a discreet inner circle of the ton. So his life-challenges are not due to his sexuality but his social standing, which is threatened by a massive family scandal.
These revelations leave him and his siblings disinherited and illegitimate, with the calamitous result of being socially ostracised. I relished writing about that impact on Percy and how that experience might change him for the better, with the help of his true friends, and most importantly, deepen his connection with Nathan.
In the autumn of 1814, the Honourable Percy Havilland is generally content with his sheltered existence in London’s exclusive Mayfair. As a society beau, renowned for his fair and youthful beauty, an object of desire to other well-born gentlemen, Percy is slightly miffed that his personal life is not running as seamlessly as he might wish.
His good-natured lover from the spring Season, Jo Everett, has inexplicably lost interest, and his replacement, Nathaniel Brooks, is far too hard-headed to be cajoled and manipulated into pandering to Percy’s every whim.
But these trifles are cast into proportion when out of the blue, a family scandal of immense proportions threatens Percy’s peace of mind and his standing amongst the ton. Fearing rejection or even social banishment, to his surprise, Percy discovers a small, unconventional band of friends, including Jo, who are prepared to stick by him. And more importantly, he finds Nathan is utterly reliable in a crisis.
Will Percy remain spoiled, immature and pampered? Or can he grow from this disaster to appreciate the value of true friendship? And might he even learn to love?
While standing amongst a group of partygoers but not actively conversing, Percy pondered the state of his liaison with Nathan with a habitual twinge of frustration. Of course, he always had the option of drawing back and ending the affair, which he knew Nathan would respect and accept without question or fuss.
But for some unfathomable reason, even when he and Nathan were at odds, Percy vacillated over making such a drastic decision. Both men were accustomed to getting their way, and Percy found that their frequent battles of will had an unexpected bonus of adding a piquant frisson that Nathan seemed to appreciate, given the resulting spark in his eye. Also, although Percy would never admit this to Nathan, there was something oddly restful about occasionally ceding responsibility and control to another.
As his thoughts roamed, he found his gaze had drifted towards Nathan, standing next to Jo, both of them listening intently to Captain Harding. While considering his two lovers, past and present, Percy felt that an independent observer would judge Jo the better looking, being nearly a decade younger, slimmer, and with clean-cut regular features crowned with thick chestnut brown locks and smiling grey eyes. Percy could appreciate that viewpoint, but all the same, he could not help but feel that familiar sizzle of attraction as he surveyed Nathan.
Although the same height as Percy, with Jo only slightly taller than them both, Nathan’s heavier build made him appear shorter, emphasised by his dark hair neatly cropped in a no-nonsense style, with no attempt to disguise a slightly receding hairline. His features were rugged, and his eyes, an indeterminate brown, could appear flat, cold, and expressionless when considering a matter of high finance or if exasperated with Percy, but could dance with lights of warming caramel when amused or aroused.
Percy’s eyes wandered over Nathan’s body, slightly too thickset to be shown to best advantage by the current slim-fitting fashions, but as Percy knew from experience, was solid muscle beneath the covering cloth. Nathan was widely admired as having a very fine seat on a horse, and he practiced this exercise daily on Rotten Row, hours before the polite crowds came to trot and dawdle and chat.
This constant discipline resulted in those magnificent thighs that Percy now beheld and could enthusiastically vouch for their undoubted stamina. With a little shiver of appreciation, Percy’s focus moved towards Nathan’s face, now looking at him with undisguised amusement.
Before turning back to answer a query from Jo, Nathan favoured Percy with a salacious wink and a distinctly wicked grin.
Given this encouragement, especially as Percy had been thoroughly distracted by idle speculations about thighs for the remainder of the evening, when in Nathan’s carriage after the party, Percy was distinctly disappointed when Nathan mentioned dropping him off at Mount Street.
“Can’t I come home with you?” Percy protested.
“I have an early engagement tomorrow morning,” Nathan explained calmly.
Percy batted his eyelashes and delivered his prettiest pout, sliding his hand onto Nathan’s temptingly rock-hard upper leg. “Please?” He entreated.
Nathan retorted, “You are the most incorrigible hussy!” But as the carriage passed the end of Percy’s street, Nathan did not give the order to stop, and as they bowled along the street-lit roads of St. James’, Percy could see he was smiling.
Ellie Thomas lives by the sea. She comes from a teaching background and goes for long seaside walks where she daydreams about history. She is a voracious reader especially about anything historical. She mainly writes historical gay romance.
Ellie also writes historical erotic romance as L. E. Thomas.