Sebastian & Nial studyAs I mentioned the other day about Mash posts, it’s also been a long time since I did a “here’s where I’m at” post.

Between twice-weekly giveaways, and weekly book releases, right up until the end of last year, there really wasn’t space to add any other posts, except here and there.

I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this before, but the end of 2013 sees the end of all my re-releases.  All my books that I have ever written or published have now been released under my own imprint (and therefore are under my complete control — happiness is relative!)

From here on in, everything I release I have to write, first.  That’s going to slow the release rate down a fair bit, depending on how bloody minded I can be about keeping to my writing schedule, and hitting my writing targets.

But I am looking forward to breaking a lot of new ground in 2014.  My tentative release schedule is pretty full.

The first cab off the ranks for 2014

This is a story that many reviewers and readers have asked for.  Finally, I get to deliver.

Southampton Swindle is the story of how Sebastian and Nial from the Blood Stone series first met, in the eighteenth century.

For me, this is new fiction territory:  MM romance.  And it was so much fun to write!

I don’t have a page for the book yet (or at least, I didn’t when I wrote this!), or a blurb.  But you know Nial and Sebastian and you’ve learned a little bit about their pasts from the books in the series.  The story title should give you another big hint.

The book is novella length (80 pages for those of you that still think in terms of pages), and is the first of a series of mini-stories featuring characters and situations from the Blood Stone series.  I’m calling the mini-stories “Blood Drops”.  Southampton Swindle is Blood Drops 1.1 (that is, it comes in between the first book of the main series, Blood Knot, and the second book, Blood Stone).

There is also a Blood Drops 1.2 warming up in the back of my brain, that I will write immediately after this one.

I’ll provide more details (like a blurb) in the days ahead as I would like to have this published at least by mid-January.  Stay tuned!

Meantime, here’s a flash excerpt to whet your appetite.

“Nathaniel!  Oh, my goodness.  You’re here!”  The exclamation was almost fevered in its intensity, drawing Lady Wandsworth’s attention away from Sebastian.  He sighed within, and turned to face the newcomer with a pleasant smile.

The man had his back to him.  He was bending over the hand of the maiden while the two matrons fluffed and fluttered on either side of her.  The maid, Sebastian realized belatedly, was rather beautiful in a young, dimple-cheeked and creamy skin way.  She had abundant dark mahogany curls cascading beneath the straw sun hat she wore, which the blue ribbons complemented nicely.

She turned to the women on either side of her, glancing at them.  “Madam Beauchamp, Lady Allsworth, may I present to you my fiance, Nathanial Smythington, the Earl of Beechwood?”

The earl gave both matrons a courtly nod of the head and they fanned themselves, clearly flustered.

Sebastian chewed the inside of his cheek to stop from laughing aloud.

The maid, whose name he still did not know, caught at the earl’s elbow and turned to Lady Wandsworth.  “Lady Mercy,” she said.  “It is my honor and delight to present Nathaniel to you.  Nathaniel, this is Lady Mercy Wandsworth, the dowager Duchess of Pembroke.”

The earl had turned to face Lady Wandsworth and Sebastian got his first look at the blighter.

He wasn’t at all what Sebastian had expected.  Sebastian had assumed a belted earl would be well into middle age and hunting for a suitable wife to carry on the family line.  This fellow looked to be somewhere in his thirties – perhaps close to Sebastian’s own thirty one years.  He was extraordinarily handsome, with very clear, very blue eyes and glossy black hair that shone in the weak sunlight.  He smiled as he took Lady Wandsworth’s hand and bowed over it, giving her what Sebastian was quite sure was intended to be a knee-weakening smile.

“Lady Wandsworth, you have been so kind in taking care of my fiance while I was in France.  I hope Beatrice has been entertaining you?”

Lady Wandsworth gave a warm smile of her own in return.  “Beatrice is a most agreeable companion.  It has been a delight to have her stay in my home.  The halls do not echo quite as loudly while she is with us.”

Smythington turned to Sebastian and held out his hand.  “Nathaniel Smythington,” he said shortly.  “I don’t know you.”

Sebastian took his hand automatically and squeezed.  There was power to spare in the man’s grip.  Somewhere under the snug-fitting coat and breeches, he had muscle.

“Richard Laurier,” Sebastian said just as shortly.  “The Lady Wandsworth and I are acquaintances.”

(If the book sounds intriguing to you, and you want to know when it is released, subscribe to my New Book Release Announcement list.)

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