Speak Its Name
 

Aftermath
 

Expectations riding on a generation of young Englishmen are immense; for those who’ve something to hide, those expectations could prove overwhelming.

When shy Edward Easterby first sees the popular Hugo Lamont, he’s both envious of the man’s social skills and ashamed of finding him so attractive. But two awful secrets weigh Lamont down. One is that he fancies Easterby, at a time when the expression of such desires is strictly illegal. The second is that an earlier, disastrous encounter with a young gigolo has left him unwilling to enter into a relationship with anyone. Hugo feels torn apart by the conflict between what he wants and what he feels is “right”. Will Edward find that time and patience are enough to change Hugo’s mind?

Gentleman’s Gentleman
Lord Robert Scoville has lived in a reasonably comfortable Victorian closet, without hope of real love, or any notion that it’s right there in front of him if he would only open his eyes and take notice of his right-hand man, Jack Darling. Jack has done his best to be satisfied with the lesser intimacy of caring for the man he loves, but his feigned role as a below-stairs ladies’ man leaves his heart empty. When a simple diplomatic errand turns dangerous and a man from their past raises unanswerable questions, both men find themselves endangered by the secrets between them. Can they untangle the web of misunderstanding before an unknown attacker parts them forever?

Hard and Fast
Major Geoffrey Chaloner has returned, relatively unscathed, from the Napoleonic War, and England is at peace for the first time in years. Unable to set up his own establishment, he is forced to live with his irascible father who has very clear views on just about everything—including exactly whom Geoffrey will marry and why. The trouble is that Geoffrey isn’t particularly keen on the idea, and even less so when he meets Adam Heyward, the enigmatic cousin of the lady his father has picked out for him… As Geoffrey says himself: “I have never been taught what I should do if I fell in love with someone of a sex that was not, as I expected it would be, opposite to my own.”

 
From Josh Lanyon, author of Adrien English Mysteries

“Dashing spies, bold Regency bucks, and the flower of English manhood vie for readers’ attention in this smart, original and engaging trilogy.This is not your mother’s historical romance!”

 
Excerpts:

Aftermath by Charlie Cochrane

Easterby laid his hand on Hugo’s shoulder, not knowing any words that he could share. He felt that he should be making some wise pronouncement either to offer comfort or to persuade Lamont that all his guilt and distaste was stupid, but he’d no idea what would work in either case. By accident he hit upon exactly what Hugo required; not gabbling words or advice, pious or otherwise, but a quiet companionship. All the comfort that Hugo needed, he found in that light touch upon his back; all the counsel that he sought was in the gentle breath playing upon his cheek. After a moment or two, he looked up at Edward and smiled wanly as if he was broken in heart and spirit. “I know it’s a simple choice, but it’s one I can’t make. Part of me says I should say farewell here and now, taking myself away from you and all the temptation you bring. And the other half says you’re the thing I treasure most in all the world and I should just stay with you and risk everything.” He shrugged and merely patted Easterby’s back. “I’m sorry. It’s me. I’m hopeless and that’s all there is to it.”

Edward remembered all the college stories about Lamont that he’d heard when he first come up to Cranmer—Lamont being held up as the shining example, the man that all other men should aspire to. Seeing him so distraught, so lacking in any confidence in his own powers, was untenable. “You’re not hopeless. Far from it.” He tried to catch Hugo’s eye. “It’ll be all right. It will.” The words sounded so vapid, so utterly useless, but somehow they sparked a slightly happier smile from Lamont.

Gentleman’s Gentleman by Lee Rowan

Jack said nothing. He didn’t dare. The truth was stirring in him like a living thing, but he simply did not know what to say. No, he wasn’t mistaken. I would love to have you take advantage of me! That would hardly do. In fact, he was grateful for his lordship’s integrity. How wretched it would have been to serve under an officer who expected sexual favors, if the attraction were not mutual.

But was it mutual? Jack could not deny what he himself felt. And hope stirred again, a tenuous thread of possibility. A man who would not take advantage might be exercising self-restraint, not indifference. Did he dare speak?

Lord Robert was still fuming, oblivious to Jack’s dilemma. “He must have thought me absurdly naïve. I suppose I was. It had never occurred to me that anyone would stoop so low as to make such an assumption about me. Or about you!” He looked up, his eyes full of some unspoken emotion. Anger? Guilt? “My dear fellow, I am deeply sorry. You must believe I never intended to subject you to anything like that. I can’t do a damned thing about my own nature, and I’m grateful beyond words for your tolerance. I had no idea you would be offered such an insult.”

“Insult, my lord?” Jack’s chest felt tight, and his heart was suddenly pounding. Here it was, then—the chance of fulfillment or the destruction of all he had come to know.

“That you were my—that I would—” Lord Robert flung a hand into the air, helplessly.

“The only insult Captain McDonald offered,” Jack said carefully, “was the assumption that I would be willing to lie with him.”

It was Lord Robert’s turn to hesitate. “I’m not certain I understand.”

Their eyes met once more, and Jack could not look away. “He was not mistaken about my nature.” And, since at this point there could be no going back, he added, “Nor my feelings for you.”

Hard and Fast by Erastes

I stepped forward to him. “Your nature,” I said, between gritted teeth, “has been nothing but unnatural since the first moment we met.”

He didn’t move a muscle, didn’t take his eyes from mine; for all his apparent fragility, he certainly didn’t appear to be intimidated by me.

“Perhaps,” he said, almost idly, as if he weren’t being towered over by a furious and insulted major, “it takes one to know one.” It was as if our intimacy had not taken place and we were swapping insults in a card room.

I grabbed him then, with hands long schooled to denial; not to take what they wanted, not to fire at civilians, not to touch what it should not touch. I crushed him to me; I heard his cane fall to the floor and felt him waver in my arms as he struggled to support himself. All this in a moment, and all I had registered from him was the sudden intake of breath. No complaints, no barbed wit, no exultation—nothing that I had expected.

I felt nothing of the giddiness I had heard poets sing about. I felt like Hercules, his last task completed. I felt fierce and victorious, swept away with the madness of the moment. His hair was against my cheek, the scents that had haunted my dreams were more real and more delicious than I had remembered. He clung to me; his right arm around my neck for support, his left arm snaked around my waist. I shuddered in pleasure as he turned his face a little and his skin touched my face. Gooseflesh sprung around all over my body as he touched my cheek with his lips.

There was no thought in what happened next; I remember every second of it, but I remember most clearly of all that I made no decisions in my actions. Everything I did was ordained …

 

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