Plumber’s Mate Mysteries News – and a Giveaway

I’m delighted to say that the sixth Plumber’s Mate Mystery, Stop Cock, will be coming out from Riptide Publishing on 14th June 2021. Cover to be revealed soon – but meanwhile, here’s the blurb:

A match made in heaven – but the honeymoon from hell

Plumber Tom Paretski and his newly-wedded husband, PI Phil Morrison, plan to enjoy their honeymoon in Italy to the full. It should be the start of a wonderful future together. But when Wayne—Phil’s ex best mate and Tom’s former bully—turns up unexpectedly at their hotel, issues from their schooldays threaten to derail the fun. Tom may not bear a grudge against Phil for past injuries any longer, but Wayne’s another matter—or is he?

Wayne now seems determined to make friends, but Tom’s struggling to forgive and forget. To add to his confusion, cryptic messages from home spark the question: Are he and Phil are really as in tune as he thought? Tom’s not the first man Phil ever made a commitment to, and that marriage turned sour sooner rather than later.

It shouldn’t surprise them when death explodes onto the scene in shocking fashion, and their honeymoon turns into a murder investigation. When the group of locals Wayne had been meeting with turn their attention to Tom’s psychic abilities, he and Phil will need to pull together to figure out what’s going on—or risk this trip being the last they’ll ever take.

And book #2, Relief Valve, is now available in audiobook, and #3 and #4 are on their way!

To celebrate, I’ve got 3 US and 2 UK audible codes for Relief Valve to give away:

If you dig up the past, be prepared for some dirt to stick.

The relationship between Tom Paretski, a cheeky plumber with a gift for finding hidden things, and PI Phil Morrison may only be a few weeks old, but already it’s under attack. Tom’s friends and family are convinced the former bully isn’t good enough for him, and they’re not shy about saying so.

Then Tom’s prickly older sister, Cherry, is poisoned at her own engagement party. Tom’s left reeling and not knowing who to suspect. Could it be her new fiancé, Gregory, a cathedral canon with an unfortunate manner and a taste for taxidermy? Or someone from her old writers’ circle, which she left after a row? Or could the attack be connected to her work as a barrister? Meanwhile, Tom’s honorary auntie’s left him a gag gift from beyond the grave that could be more significant than anyone knows.

Phil’s fighting against the clock to solve the case before somebody ends up dead. And with the poisoner hiding a dark secret, Phil’s terrified Tom could have been the target all along.

Amazon & Audible

To be in with a chance, just leave a comment on this post (wherever you see it) stating your email address and whether you’d prefer a US or UK code. I’ll make the draw around teatime on Valentine’s Day. Good luck!

ETA: The draw is now closed, and all winners have been contacted. Thanks to everyone who played! 🙂

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Bleak Midwinter Quiltbag Funfest

Blurred frosty scene in background; snowflake in foreground; text: Bleak Midwinter Quiltbag Funfest Dec 26 to Jan 6

Merry Midwinter greetings to you all!

A bunch of authors of queer historical fiction from the QUILTBAG Historicals FB group have got together to brighten this dark time with posts loosely (sometimes very loosely!) themed around the 12 days of Christmas. And there’s a truly fantastic giveaway, which you can enter here – just follow the link and sign up with your email or FB to be in with a chance.

The theme today is turtledoves, and as I’m sure everyone knows, they’re commonly considered a symbol of lovers—faithful lovers at that, as the birds are reputed to mate for life.

I was amused to discover recently that “turtledoves” is also Cockney rhyming slang for gloves, which influenced my choice of snippet for you. It’s from To Love a Traitor, my novel set in the shadow of the First World War. Here we see our two would-be turtledoves, George and Matthew, early on in their acquaintance, attempting to rescue a cat from a tree on a chilly December evening:

They came to a stop at the foot of a large sycamore tree, almost at the end of Marlbury Crescent. “He’s there—look!” Matthew pointed, and George could just make out a pair of bright green eyes in an area of black-on-black. “Oh, you silly animal! How am I going to get you out of there?”

“Maybe he’ll come down if you call him?”

“Don’t you think he’d have come down by now if he could?” Matthew’s voice was anxious.

“Well, it’s worth a try, isn’t it?” George said practically.

“Marmaduke! Marrrrrrmaduke! Din-dins!”

Both of them called for what seemed like hours, coaxing and wheedling and banging the tin for all they were worth, but Marmaduke merely yowled at them and refused to budge. Matthew looked around for a moment. “There’s nothing for it. George, would you give me a leg up?”

George stared at him in disbelief. “Have you lost your mind? It’s dark, and it’s icy, and in case you’ve forgotten, you’ve only got one arm. And you want to go climbing trees?”

“I can’t leave him there all night! He’ll freeze!”

“I wasn’t suggesting we leave him there. Come on, if you go down on one knee, I’ll use you as a ladder until I can reach the lower branches.”

“Are you sure?”

“Of course I’m sure. Now, come on before we all freeze.”

His face tight with worry, Matthew did as he was bid.

Jamming his hat down firmly on his head, George clambered awkwardly up, instinctively attempting the impossible feat of standing on his friend’s leg and shoulder without actually putting his full weight on the man. It was doubtless a relief to both of them when he finally managed to swing himself up into the branches of the tree.

There was already a thin layer of frost limning the branches. George’s leather gloves slipped on the bark, so he pulled them off with his teeth and let them fall, only to discover that frozen fingers were little better. Nevertheless, he climbed grimly onwards, determined to reach his goal if only to prevent Matthew trying anything ridiculous. Marmaduke yowled encouragement, while a faint “Be careful!” warmed his heart from below. His hat was an early casualty, and twigs snagged George’s hair and caught on his woollen scarf, pulling out great loops of wool and impeding his progress. Still he struggled on.

It felt like an age before he was able to look up and see Marmaduke’s eyes, not three feet away. George inched along the branch, its protuberances digging painfully into his stomach, queasily aware he was now level with the second-story windows of the nearest house. As he got within a foot of his quarry, it suddenly occurred to him he had absolutely no idea how he was going to climb down with a cat in his arms.

Marmaduke solved that problem neatly by employing George as a sort of human ladder, gratefully digging his claws into George’s flesh as he went.

* * *

Book cover: To Love a Traitor by JL Merrow. Young man gazes out soulfully.

Wounds of the heart are the hardest to heal

Solicitor’s clerk George Johnson has a secret goal when he moves into a London boarding house in the winter of 1920: to find out if his fellow lodger, Matthew Connaught, was the wartime traitor who cost George’s adored older brother Hugh his life.

Yet the more he gets to know his quarry, the more George loses sight of his mission—and his heart. Blessed with boyish good looks and charm in abundance, ad man Matthew is irrepressibly cheerful despite having lost an arm in the Great War—and soon makes plain his attraction to George.

Matthew’s advances become ever harder to resist, and George tries to tell himself his brother’s death was just the luck of the draw, and to forget he’s hiding secrets of his own—including who he really is.

But as George’s feelings for Matthew grow, so does his desperation to know the truth about what happened that day in Ypres.  Even if it means he’ll lose the man he’s come to love.

Available in ebook and paperback: JMS Books | Amazon

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Holiday Cheer guest post and giveaway

I’m a guest today on Ofelia Grand’s blog as part of her Holiday Cheer event, where I’m talking about Christmas Magic – and there’s a giveaway! Why not pop on over and leave a comment to be in with a chance to win?

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Rainbow Snippets will remember them

Usually on Remembrance Sunday, we go to the service at the war memorial in the village – there’s always a big turnout. However, this year we were all asked not to congregate there, so we observed the silence on our doorsteps instead, and a couple of the neighbours said a few words from the service.

It seems appropriate to post a snippet from my WW1 novel, To Love a Traitor.

George has taken a room in the same lodging house as Matthew, whom he suspects of having been a spy in the war and responsible for the death of his brother. However, George finds he’s becoming far too close to the man he’s investigating:

“Matthew,” George whispered, laying a hand on his shoulder. Matthew started violently. “It’s all right,” George reassured him. “It’s just a dream.”

George started to unwind the sheets from the sweating form. It seemed to help—as Matthew’s limbs were freed, the thrashing eased. “Hush,” George kept repeating. “It’s all right. Just a bad dream.”

“George?” Matthew’s voice was hoarse. “George, what are you doing here?”

“I heard you cry out. I think you had a nightmare.”

“God, George… I was back there in the dugout, when that wretched shell landed and it collapsed… Oh Lord—you don’t want to hear about this. I’m sorry, George. Just being a bit of an idiot. Sorry to have woken you.”

Don’t forget to check out the rainbow snippets Facebook group for more little excerpts from a whole host of talented authors

To Love a Traitor

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Wounds of the heart are the hardest to heal

Solicitor’s clerk George Johnson has a secret goal when he moves into a London boarding house in the winter of 1920: to find out if his fellow lodger, Matthew Connaught, was the wartime traitor who cost George’s adored older brother Hugh his life.

Yet the more he gets to know his quarry, the more George loses sight of his mission—and his heart. Blessed with boyish good looks and charm in abundance, ad man Matthew is irrepressibly cheerful despite having lost an arm in the Great War—and soon makes plain his attraction to George.

Matthew’s advances become ever harder to resist, and George tries to tell himself his brother’s death was just the luck of the draw, and to forget he’s hiding secrets of his own—including who he really is.

But as George’s feelings for Matthew grow, so does his desperation to know the truth about what happened that day in Ypres.  Even if it means he’ll lose the man he’s come to love.

Available in ebook and paperback: JMS Books | Amazon

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Rainbow Snippets is feeling pun-tastic

Autumn is upon us, and it’s a favourite season of mine, so this week’s snippet is from the appropriately named Fall Hard (see what I did there?)

Here, our amnesiac hero Paul is reconnecting with a former colleague in Iceland:

“Did I like it here?” I asked, anxious to change the subject. “I mean, I think I must have, but…”

“Oh yes—at least I think so.” Mags hesitated. “Of course, I was never quite sure how much was Iceland and how much was Sven.”

“Did you know him well?” Did I love him very much? was what I really meant.

“I—well…” She fiddled with the rearview mirror. The plastic figure of a red-haired, grinning troll someone—I?—had hung from it swung crazily. “I really only knew him through you.”

She hadn’t liked him, I was suddenly sure. I frowned. “How did I meet him?”

“Through a mutual acquaintance. Egil Skallagrimsson.” I blinked. She’d just named a man who’d been dead for a thousand years.

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When you’ve already paid the price for falling, is it safe to trust again?

An accident at Iceland’s Gullfoss Falls robbed British academic Paul Ansell of his American lover—and his memories of all their time together. Eight months later, back in the volcanic land to resume his research on bloodthirsty Viking Egil Skallagrimsson, Paul is still struggling to get his life back together. But trying to deal with his growing feelings for enigmatic Icelander and jet-boat driver Viggo is even harder.

Is Paul’s explosive attraction to this tall, tattooed, modern-day Viking all physical—or sparked by hidden memories?  Paul’s drawn to the idea of a fresh start, but troubled by Viggo’s odd reluctance to talk about their friendship before the accident.

Meanwhile, Alex Winter, a Boston history professor on a working holiday, won’t stop asking disconcerting questions. Unsure whom to trust, and unable to trust himself, Paul begins to suspect the fall at Gullfoss was no accident—but he’s about to learn that some things are better off forgotten.

Available in ebook: Amazon | Kobo iTunes | B&N

Don’t forget to check out the rainbow snippets Facebook group for more little excerpts from a whole host of talented authors

And there’s still (just!) time to enter the Pressure Head Audiobook Giveaway

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Pressure Head audiobook giveaway

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I’m delighted to say that the first of my Plumber’s Mate Mysteries, Pressure Head, is now available in audiobook – and I have four free audio codes to give away!

If you’d like to be in with a chance to win one, just leave a comment on this post wherever you see it, stating whether you’d like a US or UK code (I have 2 of each) and leaving your email address so I can get in touch if you win.

I’ll make the draw on Sunday 27th September, probably around tea-time. Good luck!

Some things are better left hidden.

Tom Paretski’s not just a plumber with a dodgy hip courtesy of a schoolboy accident. He also has a sixth sense for finding hidden things. Called in by the police to help locate a body near Brock’s Hollow, he’s staggered to encounter Phil Morrison, his old school crush—and the closeted bully whose actions contributed to Tom’s accident.

Phil’s all grown up now, and Tom’s unwilling attraction to him is back with a vengeance. Phil’s now openly gay—and what’s more, he’s interested in Tom’s personal charms as well as his psychic talents. As a private investigator called in by the dead woman’s parents, Phil is sceptical about Tom’s unusual gift, but nevertheless quick to spot its potential to aid him in his work.

The further they go with the investigation, the less they can ignore their shared past, and the more the pressure and the heat build between them. But Tom isn’t certain he wants to know the secrets he’s helping to uncover, while there’s a murderer on the loose who won’t hesitate to kill again—and this uneasy couple is moving right into his sights.

Amazon | Riptide | Kobo | Barnes & Noble

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New in KU – Pressure Head and Caught!

For the first time, the first books in two of my series, The Shamwell Tales and The Plumber’s Mate Mysteries, will be available in Kindle Unlimited for the next 90 days – grab them while they’re there!

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Rainbow Snippets is celebrating International Cat Day

Happy International Cat Day! Wishing warm laps and tuna fish suppers to cats everywhere. 🙂

In this not-unrelated snippet taken from the second of my Shamwell Tales, Played, our dramatic hero Tristan is in the depths of despair – and about to finally meet an elusive inhabitant of the house he recently inherited:

Of course Con had been upset. Who wouldn’t be upon discovering they’d just shagged a base, imbecilic turd? Tristan was a flesh-monger, a fool, and a coward. And that was the best that could be said of him. He lay there, the cushion still over his face in the vague hope he might manage to smother himself, until an odd sensation at his naked hip caused him to freeze in alarm.

It happened again. There was something smooth and warm brushing against his skin, soft yet hard, like an iron fist in a furry glove. And there was the definite suggestion of whiskers.

Don’t forget to check out the rainbow snippets Facebook group for more little excerpts from a whole host of talented authors

Played! – #2 in The Shamwell Tales

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All the world’s a stage . . . but life doesn’t come with a script.

Posh boy Tristan Goldsmith has one last summer of freedom before he joins the family firm in New York—no more farting around on stage, as his father puts it. But the classically trained actor can’t resist when the Shamwell Amateur Dramatics Society begs him to take a leading role in their production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. As an added incentive, he’ll be giving private acting lessons to a gorgeous local handyman who’s been curiously resistant to Tristan’s advances.

As a late-diagnosed dyslexic still struggling with literacy, Con Izzard’s never dared to act before. With arrogant yet charming Tristan helping him with his lines, he finally has his chance to shine. But Con’s determined not to start a romance with a man he’s convinced only wants a casual fling.

Tristan’s never been one to back down from a challenge, especially when he realises his attraction to the tall, muscular handyman isn’t just physical. Just as he thinks he’s finally won Con’s heart—and given his own in return—disaster strikes with a slip of the tongue that shatters Con’s trust and sends him running for cover. This show may be over before the curtain’s even opened.

Available in ebook and paperback: 

Riptide | Amazon

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Rainbow Snippets is feeling the heat

The mercury was in the mid-thirties yesterday, which for a lily-skinned Brit like me is definitely Too Hot. On the other hand, though, it did make me feel like I was in Italy, which is where the book I’m currently working on, the 6th Plumber’s Mate Mystery, is set.

So this week I’m snippetting from Heat Trap, my 3rd Plumber’s Mate Mystery, which is set during a very hot summer:

Making a slightly embarrassing contrast with my slobbing-around-the-house-in-a-heat-wave gear of shorts and a crumpled T-shirt, Phil was freshly shaved and wearing a crisply ironed short-sleeved shirt loose over a pair of chinos. The outfit did a very nice job of showing off his broad chest and shoulders and trim hips. You’d think a big bloke like him would feel the heat more—would show it, even, him being a blond and all—but he always managed to look cool whatever the weather. Maybe he kept ice cubes in his undies.

Nah, I’d have noticed. I mean, I don’t like to brag, but I reckon I was pretty well acquainted with the contents of Phil’s undies.

Don’t forget to check out the rainbow snippets Facebook group for more little excerpts from a whole host of talented authors

Heat Trap – #3 in the Plumber’s Mate Mystery series

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Old flames can leave a nasty burn.

It’s been six months since plumber Tom Paretski was hit by a shocking revelation about his family, and he’s been avoiding dealing with it ever since. His lover, PI Phil Morrison, wants Tom to dig deeper into his history and try to develop his psychic talent for finding things, but Tom’s not nearly so keen. Just as he decides to bite the bullet, though, worse problems crawl out of the woodwork.

Young Devil’s Dyke barmaid Marianne has an ex, Grant Carey, who won’t accept that things are over between them, and he’s ruthless in dealing with anyone who gets in his way.  When Carey threatens an old friend of theirs, Phil and Tom step in to help—but that makes them targets themselves.

What with his uncertainty about Phil’s motives, Tom’s family doing their best to drive a wedge between them, and the uncovering of an ugly incident in Phil’s past, Tom’s not sure who he can trust—and the body he finds in the pub cellar isn’t the only thing that stinks.

Amazon paperback | Kindle Riptide 

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Counter Culture is out in audiobook and I have codes to give away

I’m delighted to say that Counter Culture, my light-hearted rom-com starring a steampunk and a retail worker, is now out in audiobook. And to celebrate, I have FOUR Audible codes to give away!

To be in with a chance of winning a code for a free audiobook, just leave a comment on this post (wherever you see it) with your email address and stating whether you’d prefer a US or a UK code. I’ll make the draw on Sunday 26th July.

ETA: The draw is now closed and winners have been notified by email. Thanks to every one who played!

And here’s a snippet to whet your appetite – here, our heroes have, after many near-misses and mortifying mishaps, actually managed to get together for a cup of tea:

“You know, you’re a lot more normal than I thought you were,” Robin said as they carried the teas to the living room. “Um, that came out sounding wrong.”

Archie laughed and put on a posh voice. “How dare you, sir! Accusing me of normality—the very idea! This means teacups at dawn.”

“It does?”

“Er, that works better if you’ve actually heard of tea duelling.”

“People duel with tea?” Robin’s eyes widened. “I suppose a fresh pot could give you a nasty scalding.”

Don’t forget to check out the rainbow snippets Facebook group for more little excerpts from a whole host of talented authors

Counter Culture

Customer service has never been this personal.

Robin Christopher, beleaguered retail worker, isn’t having an easy November. His boss is raising stress levels planning a Black Friday to end all Black Fridays, his family doesn’t understand him, and his best friend thinks his new crush is a hallucination brought on by watching too many episodes of Doctor Who.

Archie Levine dresses in Victorian style and divides his time between caring for his young son and creating weird and wacky steampunk gadgets from bits of old junk—when he’s not looking after his mum and trying to keep on good terms with his ex. The last thing he’s got time for is a relationship, but the flustered young man he met while disembowelling a fridge is proving very tempting.

When his mum’s social conscience is roused by a local store with a cavalier attitude to the homeless, former rough sleeper Archie shares her anger. Little does he know that Robin works for that same store. When Archie finds out he’s sleeping with the enemy, things could cut up very rough indeed.

Available in ebook, paperback and now audiobook: Riptide | Amazon

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