This weekend #Author Shout-Out we have with us
Lillian Francis. Author of gay romance. Happy Endings guaranteed. Eventually.
Lillian Francis is an English writer who likes to dabble in many genres but always seems to return to the here and now.
Her name may imply a grand dame in pink chiffon and lace, but Lillian is more at home in jeans, Converse, and the sort of T-shirts that often need explaining to the populous at large but will get a fist bump at Comic-Con. Lillian is a self-confessed geek who likes nothing more than settling down with a comic or a good book, except maybe writing. Given a notepad, pen, her Kindle, and an infinite supply of chocolate Hob Nobs and she can lose herself for weeks. Romance was never her reading matter of choice, so it came as a great surprise to all concerned, including herself, to discover a romance was exactly what she’d written, and not the rollicking spy adventure or cozy murder mystery she always assumed she’d write. Luckily there is always room for romance no matter what plot bunny chooses to bite her, so never say never to either of those stories appearing.
Lillian lives in an imposing castle on a windswept desolate moor or in an elaborate shack on the edge of a beach somewhere, depending on her mood. And while she’d love for the heroes of her stories to either be chained up in the dungeon or wandering the shack serving drinks in nothing but skimpy barista aprons more often than not they are doing something far less erotic like running charity shops and shoveling elephant shit.
Drawn to the ocean, although not in a Reginald Perrin sort of way, she would love to own a camper van and to live by the sea.
Renaissance (Village Love Book 2)
Smudge really needs to get laid, if only to stop himself wondering about the softness of Raleigh’s curls and why he keeps running away.
After his tumultuous teenage years, Smudge has settled into his quiet life in the sleepy English village of Slopy Bottom. He’s his own boss with the time and space to indulge his artistic creativity. And he has friends. He’s happy. Satisfied. Lonely. And the pool of potential soulmates is almost non-existent. His friends, Rick and Mal, flush with their own happy romance, keep trying to set him up with the most incompatible men, and he’s never finding true love on Grindr. Hell, he’s not even going to manage a hook up based on the kinky messages he’s been getting recently. He’ll just have to slake his desire to find his own HEA in the pages of bosom-heaving romance novels.
Raleigh is the darling of Slopy Bottom’s blue rinse brigade: church organist, mobile librarian, and apparently wedded to his trademark cardigans. He seems to be the polar opposite of the artistic Smudge, whose brightly coloured mohawk and piercings should be a red flag to Raleigh. Yet he’s yearning for company too. It’s just that Raleigh has less expectation and definitely less courage to chase after it, for reasons that he keeps very close to his chest. Reasons that don’t stop him from being drawn irresistibly to Smudge.
Smudge is sure that the way Raleigh runs from him whenever he sees him is cruelly deliberate. A reflection on his bad boy looks and his disdain for Raleigh’s precious church. So why can’t he stop thinking about the softness of Raleigh’s curls and his delicate body? Then Raleigh offers an olive branch of sugar and caffeine, Smudge’s favourite combination, starting them on a road to an awkward truce. And when they are conned into working together on a community project at the local hospital, the proximity ignites a spark that can’t be ignored. But navigating the murky waters that could take their relationship beyond tentative friendship all depends on whether Raleigh can release his secret fears – and whether Smudge is the man to share and allay them.
Word count: ~72000
Cover designed by Garrett Leigh at blackjazzdesign.com
Buy Links: Kobo // Payhip // B&N // Smashwords
Add it to your Goodreads bookshelf here.
About the Series
Renaissance is book 2 in my series, Village Love. Village Love is set in the fictional Sussex village of Slopy Bottom. I’ll let Rick (from Resistance) tell you how Slopy Bottom got its name.
“It’s one p, Slopy Bottom. The village has been there centuries. Local historians think it started life as Slope Bottom since the oldest houses are on the low slope at the bottom of a hill. The rest of the village spread out into the valley as the years went by but the name stuck. At one point the village was all but owned by a French lord, which could account for the mispronunciation, and it appears to have been Slopy Bottom ever since.”
Who’s this Rick you mention? I notice he’s in the blurb for book two, as well.
Rick is the village gardener/handyman. His story of how he struggles to fit his sexuality and his London-born Pakistani boyfriend in to his life in his sleepy village home is told in Resistance (Village Love #1). Rick and Mal’s meet-cute is told in a short story, Resonance. As Resonance doesn’t take place in the village it has been assigned as Village Love 0.5.
Do I need to read the other books in the series to read this one?
No. Each book deals with a separate couple. However, in such as small village people bump into each other all the time. So yes, characters will appear that the reader is introduced to in the previous books.
Where can I buy the previous books?
Resistance Universal Amazon link myBook.to/Resistance_LF
Resonance Universal Amazon link myBook.to/ResonanceL_F
At all the other usual suspects: Kobo // B & N // Smashwords. And on my Payhip page. If you buy there and share on social media you’ll get a discount.
Will there be more books in the series?
Definitely. I’m gearing up to start work on Book 3, Trevor’s tale. I have very brief story lines, if they work out, for at least a Book 4, and maybe a Book 5. If you read a particular character that you like drop me a line and let me know, I’ve undoubtedly got a plan to pair him with someone!
About the Author
Lillian Francis is a self-confessed geek who likes nothing more than settling down with a comic or a good book, except maybe writing. Given a notepad, pen, her Kindle, and an infinite supply of chocolate Hob Nobs and she can lose herself for weeks. Romance was never her reading matter of choice, so it came as a great surprise to all concerned, including herself, to discover a romance was exactly what she’d written, and not the rollicking spy adventure or cosy murder mystery she always assumed she’d write.
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“No, no, no! Don’t you dare. Not again.” Smudge tightened his grip on the books in his hand and hastened his pace.
Surely, he wouldn’t? But Smudge knew the exact moment Raleigh clocked him. The way his head shifted between all points of his escape. To Smudge. The door of the mobile library bus. The pull-down steps, currently occupied by Mrs Danridge, one of the frailer members of the Slopy Bottom community. She was Smudge’s only hope that he would make it to the village green car park where the bus was parked.
With the length of the main road of Slopy Bottom stretching before him like a scene out of Alice in Wonderland or the Wizard of Oz, Smudge broke into a jog. The plastic covers of the library books slipped in his sweaty clutches and he slowed to tighten his grasp. He should have put the bloody things in a bag. The last thing he wanted was his choice of reading matter to be scattered across the tarmac of Bridge Street.
Satisfied he wasn’t going to lose his latest round of catnip reads, he raised his gaze and refocused on his target. Mrs Danridge had reached the bottom of the stairs—with a helping hand from Raleigh no doubt.
Talk of the devil. That tousled-haired alleged angel of the village looked straight at Smudge, his gaze dropping to the hand that held the books Smudge needed to return, and then leapt back up the steps.
Smudge paused long enough to take a breath and shout, “Don’t you dare leave, Raleigh Fortier.” Then he put on a new burst of speed even as the steps disappeared from view.
The engine of the old bus roared to life and by the time he’d covered the last four hundred metres, the mobile library had disappeared in a shower of gravel leaving nothing but a cloud of dust.
“Don’t expect me to pay late charges on these,” Smudge shouted after the bus. “I should report your skinny arse. You four-eyed, curly-mopped, fuckwad.” He kicked a larger stone in the direction the bus had disappeared and watched it skitter across the now empty car park.
He turned toward the sound of disapproving tsking and shrugged apologetically at Mrs Danridge. “The library was supposed to be here for another hour.” He attempted to explain his irate behaviour to the pensioner. It sounded lame.
“I’m sure Raleigh had his reasons for closing early.”
Yeah, he hates me. And the feeling is more than mutual.
“He’s a good boy and a cherished and loved member of this village. I’m sure he’ll waive the charges if you explain.” She smiled, but it was tight lipped and nothing like the sunshine that she would have bestowed on Raleigh. Gauges, tats, and a purple faux hawk with green streaks would do that. Or maybe she believed the rumour that he was growing marijuana in the workshop behind his print shop. “And I don’t know who you think you plan to report him to. The mobile library is a local service and has always been run by the church. Certainly in my lifetime. I suppose you could speak to the vicar, but as Raleigh is his organist and you barely set foot in church…” She seemed to remember her Christian sentiments, but she still pursed her lips as though sucking on a lemon. “I can vouch you were here at the right time, I suppose.”
Don’t put yourself out, lady. Putting those feelings into words wouldn’t help his cause. Neither would reporting Raleigh, because, as she rightly pointed out, curly-headed organist versus multi-coloured faux-hawked atheist, the odds were stacked against him.
“I guess so.” It wasn’t just about the money, though. He’d hoped to pick up the next book in the series he’d been reading. He’d requested the book as soon as he knew the release date and it was a popular enough series that Raleigh couldn’t refuse to purchase the book for the library. Not that he’d ever turned down one of Smudge’s requests. Apparently if the people of Slopy Bottom and the surrounding villages wanted to read a book, Raleigh did his damndest to get it for them. “Thank you. I’m sure you’re right and Raleigh had his reasons.”
The words stuck in his throat but he could hardly protest that Raleigh was the spawn of the devil and that this wasn’t the first time he’d driven off and left Smudge standing in the street like a fool. Nobody would believe him. Not of Raleigh.
“I’m heading to the church to discuss the flower arrangements for Sunday’s service. I could take your books and leave them at the vicarage with a note, if you can’t get here at the weekend or on Tuesday,” Mrs Danridge offered, already working the zip open on her shopping trolley.
Tuesday. The day Raleigh did story time on the green with the preschoolers if the weather was nice. The long-range forecast predicted traditional August sunshine for the next fortnight and he’d probably be doing something with the older kids as well since the schools were breaking up this week for the summer.
“No. That’s fine. I’ll catch him Tuesday.” By the sodding neck if Raleigh tried to pull that stunt again. Except he couldn’t strangle the local librarian, not with an audience of under-fives hanging on Raleigh’s every word. “Thank you for the kind offer, though.”
Not that he’d take it up in a month of Sundays. Heaven forbid the village busybodies should get a look at his reading matter. The thought was barely formed when he felt plastic slip from his grip. He flailed for the escaping paperback, and ended up just juggling the remaining five in his hands, as the sixth landed on the ground with a thwack and a spray of dust. A swarthy Arab Prince, bare-chested and bronzed, manhandled a veiled maiden in a desert backdrop. Sins of the Seven Veils. Could have been worse. The latest in the Highland Wolfman series was still in his increasingly sweaty clutches. Well, not the latest; the latest was somewhere on that bloody bus. His cheeks burning, Smudge scooped up the book from the dirt and pivoted away from Mrs Danridge with mumbled words of farewell.
Coffee or back to the print shop? He’d told Pete, his apprentice, he’d be about an hour—he liked a leisurely flick through the titles. Even when he picked his six books, he stayed, studying the artwork on the lurid covers. The library soothed him—even with Raleigh’s presence—and he didn’t want Pete to think he’d hurried back because he didn’t trust the lad.
Across the road, the dual scents of caffeine and sweet baked goods emanated from Latte Nights and Earl E Mornings assaulting his senses and making his mouth water. Maybe Adam had made brownies.
Coffee it was then.
* * * * *
Reviews for the series so far.
“I recommend this to those who love village stories, fantastic characters, overcoming fears, budding love and easy going stories where love shines through.” – 4 hearts from Pixie at MM Good Book Reviews
“All in all: a sweet, cute, feel-good story with lovely characters and a lot of Britishness. And I can’t help it, I love the Britishness. Recommended.” Laura at From Top to Bottom Reviews
“This was one of the most disarmingly charming British books I’ve ever read, it was funny, sweet, romantic with fantastic characters that I fell in love with. Definitely recommendable!” 4.5 stars from Mari at Bayou Book Junkie
“It was everything I wanted in this genre. Sweet, witty, comforting – and utterly English.” 4 heart review from Lorix at BMBR
“Kudos to Ms Gideon for providing a Muslim character who is human, not villainized or made perfect. Mal has given up a lot to be true to himself (his family, his church) and I loved that he kept his connection to his religion despite it all. He is a man of faith and that faith shows through. I loved him.
I thought this was a lovely book with characters who were willing to wait and be there for each other. Recommended.” 4 heart review from Lucy at Hearts on Fire
“I highly recommend the two stories I’ve reviewed here today. I guess you could read Resistance without reading Resonance first. But why would you? They are both a delight.” 4 heart review from Dan at Love Bytes Reviews
“The short was a beautifully surprise especially cause it is very detailed in the writing, an almost unique trait. Characters well delined, medical procedures well explained and an intrigued atmosphere. I truly felt myself in that room with Mal and Rick. It’s very rare to me to find good shorts around, Resonance was a winner.” 4 star review from Stella at Scattered Hearts and Rogue Words
“Rick and Mal and their relationship is exactly what I like to see in my books, it was sweet and sexy, but most of all was realistic, in the fear of being out of the closet, in the fear of lose someone cause you don’t want to close that closet you opened years ago. I saw the deep hope in a possible future made of uncertainties and at the same time full of the desire to be beside your love one even if you are miles away from him. I saw how much they tried, just like we do everyday in our real lives.” 4 star review from Stella at Scattered Hearts and Rogue Words
Resistance was named one of Hearts on Fire’s favourite reads of 2016.
Resistance received an Honorable Mention in the 2016 Rainbow Awards.
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