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GUEST POST: Strokes on a Canvas by H. Lewis-Foster

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It’s lovely to be here to celebrate the release of my new novella Strokes on a Canvas. I’ve written a number of historical romances, from the Regency era to the swinging sixties, but this is my first set in the 1920s. Full of exciting new trends in fashion, literature and art, the decade has inspired some great stories on the page and on screen, so I thought I’d share a few of my favourite 1920s adaptations.

Brideshead Revisited

I always enjoy reading this novel by Evelyn Waugh, but like so many people, I completely fell in love with the TV version starring Anthony Andrews and Jeremy Irons. Those two beautiful young men punting down the river among the dreaming spires of Oxford, or drifting in a gondola on a Venetian canal, were one of the most romantic things I’d ever seen. It may be completely innocent compared to more recent fare, but as love stories go, it’s hard to beat

Bright Young Things

Based on another Evelyn Waugh novel, Vile Bodies, this fabulous film was directed by the equally fabulous Stephen Fry. While it shows the outrageous decadence of the young and wealthy in the 1920s, and the relative freedom for gay men of that class, there is also a very touching sadness behind the glitz and glamour. Well worth a watch if you missed it first time round.

Jeeves and Wooster

This affectionate retelling of PG Wodehouse’s stories is one of my favourite TV series ever. Stephen Fry stars this time, as the imperturbable valet Jeeves, while Hugh Laurie is his endearingly clueless boss, Bertie Wooster. It goes into fantastic detail in creating the 1920s both in England and the States, and while most of it is set in a world of privilege and is extremely funny, it doesn’t shirk away from some of the darker sides of the decade.

Downton Abbey

I know it’s not exactly an adaption, but Downton Abbey was undoubtedly a phenomenon. It may have flown through the decades at breakneck speed, but it certainly gave us a taste of what life might have been like in the 1920s—the music, the clothes, the social etiquette—for the wealthy and those that worked for them. And it gave us the charming, if scheming Thomas, who sadly never did find the man of his dreams. But as there are rumours of a Downton Abbey movie, you never know…

Strokes on a Canvas is now available at Amazon.

Blurb

London, 1924. Bank clerk Evan Calver is enjoying a quiet pint and notices a man smiling at him across the bar. While the Rose and Crown isn’t that kind of pub, Evan thinks his luck might be in, and he narrowly escapes humiliation when he realises the man is smiling at a friend. Eavesdropping on their conversation, Evan discovers the man is named Milo Halstead and served as an army captain during the war.

The next day Evan goes to the British Museum, where he bumps into Milo again. This time Milo introduces himself, explaining he’s an art teacher and would like to paint Evan’s portrait for a competition. Evan can’t believe an upper-class artist would want to paint the son of a miner, but he agrees to sit for Milo. Their acquaintance blossoms into friendship, and Evan hopes it might become more, but when a dense smog descends over the city, their future is as unclear as the London sky.

Excerpt

On the opposite side of the cabinet, a man was gazing intently at Evan’s favourite amphora. Evan doubted he was having the same thoughts as himself as he scrutinized the naked athletes, but he seemed transfixed by its sporting design. The dark-haired man was wearing a brown pinstripe suit, the kind seen in newspaper photographs of famous actors and royalty, and which Evan could never hope to afford. The stranger looked born to wear his stylish attire, his confident posture showing the suit’s fine cut to full advantage. Then he raised his eyes, and Evan saw the man was not a total stranger. His hair was smooth with brilliantine, and he wasn’t wearing his gold-rimmed glasses, but he was unmistakably Captain Milo Halstead.

Evan was about to make a hasty exit, when he realised the former soldier was smiling at him through the glass. He may have looked smarter than he had last night, but his smile was still as warm and kind as one of Miss Nightingale’s nurses. Evan didn’t imagine the captain remembered him, but he smiled back, thinking it would be impolite not to, then turned to walk away. To his surprise, Evan’s action was mirrored on the other side of the cabinet as Captain Halstead moved in the same direction. He was still looking at Evan, still smiling, and as they both reached the end of the cabinet, Evan wondered what would happen next. Would words be exchanged? And what would those words be? If Milo remembered him from last night and wasn’t the genial man he seemed, they might hint at blackmail or violence.

Evan was tempted to put his head down and make a run for it, but he didn’t want to attract the attention of the museum guards. He took a breath and steadily stepped forward, only to find Milo standing in his way.

“Excuse me. Could I get past?”

“Of course, but…” Milo’s smile was uncertain now, but he didn’t move from Evan’s path. “It was you I saw in the Rose and Crown last night, wasn’t it?”

Evan lowered his eyes and weighed up his options. He could admit he was at the pub and ask to know what business of Milo’s it was. Or he could deny being anywhere near the place, or even knowing of its existence. The latter seemed the most sensible choice, avoiding all confrontation, but when Evan looked up and saw Milo’s blue eyes sparkling cheerfully back at him, he was overwhelmed by a longing to spend a few seconds more in his company.

With no idea of Milo’s intentions, Evan answered, “That’s right. I saw you there too.”

About the author

logo-h-lewis-fosterH. Lewis-Foster lives in the north of England and has always worked with books in one form or another. As a keen reader of gay fiction, she decided to try writing herself and is now the proud author of several short stories and a debut novel ‘Burning Ashes’.

H. creates characters that are talented, funny and quite often gorgeous, but who all have their faults and vulnerable sides, and she hopes you’ll enjoy reading their stories as much as she loves writing them. H. has also ventured into playwriting and was thrilled to see her first play performed at the Southend Playwriting Festival.

Website: http://hlewisfoster.wix.com/books

Twitter: https://twitter.com/HLewisFoster

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HLewisFoster

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In The Blue Moonlight by H. Lewis-Foster

    SMIn the Blue Moonlight H. Lewis-Foster

In The Blue Moonlight

By H. Lewis-Foster

Publisher: Wayward Ink Publishing

Cover Artist: Lily Velden in collaboration with Design Bug

Pages: 22 pages

Blurb

Simon has a good job and a nice house, and according to his best friend Chris, he’s turning into a boring old fart. So it’s totally out of character when Simon bares his bum to the local constabulary on a night out with his brother’s student mates. He hopes he’s put the incident behind him, when Simon bumps into one of the officers.  Simon fears he’s in trouble, then thinks he’s in luck when PC Mark Timmis buys him a drink – but life in a rural English town is never as simple as it seems.
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Excerpt

On a count of three from Tim, the most vocal of the group, six students and one financial expert lowered their trousers to reveal a remarkably varied set of backsides. Glancing sideways, Simon spied a pert pair of buttocks which could have graced a swimwear ad, a scrawny little bum which could barely have held up its owner’s jeans, and an unusually hairy arse adorned with a love-heart tattoo.

Then Simon looked round at the uniformed recipients of their cheeky display. Their jaw-dropping looks of surprise were priceless, and Simon genuinely hoped a passer-by had snapped them on a mobile phone. Simon soon realized, however, that it was he and his mooning chums who were far more likely to end up on YouTube.

Only one of the policemen wasn’t gaping like a truncheon had been shoved somewhere unexpected. A smile crept onto the face of the tall, blond and undeniably handsome officer. Simon instinctively smiled back, until he noticed the copper’s colleagues had recovered their professional poise and were readying themselves for action. Tim gave his orders once more.

“Leg it!”

Giveaway

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Rafflecopter Prize: E-copy of In The Blue Moonlight

Buy Links

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http://www.amazon.com/Blue-Moonlight-H-Lewis-Foster-ebook/dp/B00OJ31NQ4

http://www.waywardinkpublishing.com/product/in-the-blue-moonlight-by-h-lewis-foster/

About the author

H. Lewis-Foster lives in the North of England, and has always worked with books in one form or another. As a keen reader of gay fiction, she decided to try writing herself, and is now the proud author of several short stories and her debut novel ‘Burning Ashes’. She was also delighted to see her first play performed earlier in 2014.

H. likes to create characters who are talented, funny and quite often gorgeous, but who all have their faults and vulnerable sides, and she hopes that you’ll enjoy reading their stories as much as she loves writing them.

Author Contact: https://twitter.com/HLewisFoster

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Burning Ashes by H. Lewis-Foster

Burning AshesBurning Ashes by H. Lewis-Foster

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

The Blurb…

Intelligent and confident, Australian cricketer Nat Seddon is one of the world’s best bowlers. He’s openly gay, but keeps his private life to himself, everything under control. But on the last day of his team’s “Ashes” tour of England, he meets Scott Alverley, England’s promising new batsman. Nat tries not to be attracted to Scott, but he can’t help finding the privileged young man handsome and endearing. Nat is tempted by a little end of tour fun, but finds himself playing agony uncle to a virgin. Instead of going home to bask on a beach, he spends a wet week in the north of England with Scott. Try as he might to resist, he can’t help falling hopelessly in love.

The hectic sporting calendar is a persistent obstacle to their growing romance; Nat and Scott are rarely even on the same continent. They make the most of the time when they can be together, but the months apart take a toll on Scott, professionally and personally. The possible solutions are nearly unthinkable, but if they are willing to make sacrifices that will change their lives forever, they might hold on to the love they found in the Ashes.

So what did I think?

Okay, so cricket isn’t my favourite sport. Yes, I’m an Aussie, I even have a test cricketer in my family tree but cricket is boring! Hubby buys tickets every January and every year I do everything to avoid having to go (luckily with great success!) Anyway, happily this story isn’t too focused on the particularities of the game and most of the time is spent with the main characters as they deal with the challenges of their relationship.

This is a case of instalove as a champion fast bowler from Australia falls for an up-and-coming player from the English side. What follows is a long distance relationship that has career and life-altering impacts for the two men.

The last 25% of the book was actually the most enjoyable – it had more angst and a couple of cute twists where it looked like something bad happened but it hadn’t really  (although after the third such incident it felt like this trick was slightly overused).

There is lots happening in this book and it covers a quite a long period of time (over 6 years). I was surprised by a significant event at about the halfway point in the story as I wondered why such a climatic event would be at this midway point and what was then left. However the story continued to cover careers, injuries, world travel, family, sacrifices and love.

The characters are totally self-sacrificing, tripping over themselves to be the one to give up things for the other’s happiness but I think I actually liked this in the context of this story. I liked the protectiveness they felt and the love they shared. I appreciated that these strong sportsman weren’t afraid to cry, particularly Nat, the older of the two.

The insta-love was a bit unbelievable but acknowledged by the characters “How could he give up his whole life for a man with whom he had almost nothing in common and with whom he’d spent roughly five weeks since they met?” and I was a bit surprised by the choice made by one character to leave his country and coach for the other side. But I liked the cute cultural references and the way the story was told.

A sweet 3.5 stars.

Buy Burning Ashes from Amazon.

Buy Burning Ashes from Dreamspinner Press.