Today I am so pleased to welcome Anna Butler to Joyfully Jay. Anna has come to talk to us about her latest release, The God’s Eye. She has also brought along an exclusive excerpt and a great giveaway! Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
I’m delighted to be kicking off the launch tour for The God’s Eye here today, and what better way to celebrate than to share with you the inspiration behind the book? What kicked it off, so to speak.
If you were a rich 16C man (always men, sad to say), you would have probably prided yourself on your ‘cabinet of curiosities’, the museum-like room where you kept your collection of sculptures and paintings, curious items from home or abroad and anything to do with exotic animals, from a stuffed crocodile to a “mermaid”.
We probably all have our own cabinets—which don’t have to have a physical existence—where we keep precious memories, mementoes, items that intrigue us or which are emotionally satisfying. It would be mentally unhealthy, I think, not to have this stuff, even if we’ve never before thought of it as a coherent collection of items that bring us joy.
My personal ‘cabinet’ has a section on curious mysteries. Things that have caught my imagination over the years and which are fascinating and fun, and even when science explains them all very nicely, thank you, they remain fascinating and fun. Things like Klerksdorp spheres, the Piri Reis map remnant, the (still indecipherable) Voynich Manuscript and a dozen other items which over the years have been given a semi-mythical status and hawked happily around the internet compiled into lists entitled something like The Ten Most Puzzling Ancient Artefacts – and no, really, I’m not just a clickbait article! Trust me!
One thing that sometimes makes the internet lists and is definitely highly regarded in my personal cabinet, is the Antikythera mechanism. Unlike some of the more obvious fakes and hoax ancient mysteries, this one is real. In 1900, divers off the Greek island of Antikythera found the remains of an ancient shipwreck, the ship’s cargo scattered over the sea bed: mostly the remains of bronze and marble statues, pottery amphora, silver coins and, retrieved the following summer, a box with a lump of solidified metal inside it. Within a year, Greek archaeologists realised that inside the box they had something with cogs and gears and wheels: a machine, a complex mechanism of over 30 bronze gears. While wooden cogs and wheels had been known in ancient time, this is the first evidence that engineered metal was used to create… well, to create *something*. A machine, it seems, constructed by some ancient astronomer to follow the movement of the moon and sun through the zodiac.
This is complex stuff. To fully understand it—and I don’t!—you need to know a lot about astronomy, solar years, things like the Metonic cycle… and a whole host of things that in my mind are fascinating, but fade to insignificance against the fact that this most Greek of artefacts is inscribed with (among a lot of other things), the names of several Egyptian months. Egyptian months!
Two of my “ooooh shiny!!” antenna quivered violently at this. Many years ago, my undergrad degree covered a great deal of classical history and literature. I have a long and abiding interest in ancient Greece, in what Rafe Lancaster’s lover, Ned Winter, provocatively describes as “all that Hellenic rubbish”. Another great love of mine, almost as venerable as that for classical literature, is Egyptology. There is a very good reason why Ned is an Aegyptologist and Rafe took his degree in Classics: they marry together two obsessions of mine.
And so does the Antikythera mechanism.
A Greek artefact, with strong links to Egypt – could I have found anything more perfect to pique Ned Winter’s interest? All I needed to do to create my story, was tie the mechanism more closely into Ancient Egyptian myth and history. And with a self-deprecating cough and a turn of his head so his bird’s eye could contemplate me, the ibis-headed Egyptian god Thoth stepped out of the shadows to remind me that when the gods created the world, he is credited with making the calculations for the establishment of the heavens, stars, Earth, and everything in them. He directed the motions of the heavenly bodies and was known as the ‘reckoner’ of the time and seasons. In other words, Thoth was the first scientist.
After that, it was simple. Of course, Thoth had created the first Antikythera machine, and used it to measure the heavens as he was making those calculations that created the world. Of course, that meant that his temple and myth and history give Ned the clues he needs to search for the legacy Thoth has left behind. And – also, ‘of course’ – that then leads to intrigue, murder and mayhem as Ned and Rafe battle to keep Thoth’s secrets from destroying mankind.
And all the while, the real Antikythera mechanism, the archetype of the model found on the sea bed, the massive machine hidden in Thoth’s workshop, ticks on through the millennia.
Until the day when, right before Rafe’s and Ned’s horrified gazes, it stops.
I pulled him close. When I pressed my face into the crook of his neck and shoulder, my nostrils filled with the citrusy scent of the Aqua Mirabilis he used as cologne. He carded his fingers through my hair.
Ned laughed again when he felt my shivery response. “I think I need to warm you up.”
He took my hand, pulling me towards the bed. I shuffled inelegantly across the soft linen sheets to make room for him, then let him take the lead in our lovemaking. He was a master at pleasuring me, using his fingers to glide up my outer thighs and hips, hands spanning my waist, stroking over my chest to tweak my nipples—I might have vocalised my satisfaction at that particular point and sought his mouth. Heat gathered, my cock heavy with anticipation, but Ned, damn him, was still working on smoothing his fingers up over my shoulders, stroking and caressing, leaning down to follow the line of my throat with his lips before drawing back and cradling my face between his hands. Then, at last, he kissed me.
We were tangled, bare skin against bare skin, legs entwined, hands stroking and smoothing, ghost-touches leaving fire in their wake. Ned’s cock pressed against my hip.
“Mmn?” Ned’s mouth covered mine for an instant, cutting off my voice.
“I wish I could stay.”
I was sorry, as soon as I spoke. It broke the mood. Ned froze, just for a moment, before shaking his head, and he surrendered to a hectic urgency, a spiky desperation. Fingers tightened in my hair, his mouth hot and reaching for mine over and over again, once gentle kisses now savage and aching and demanding, the jerky movements of his hips rubbing his cock against mine with a frantic energy.
Every sinew burned with the need to be closer, to soothe Ned’s desperation and hide my own. Ned let out a low, pained groan, and he kissed me, fierce as a striking hawk. He splayed his hands against my bare back, pulling me in, clutching me so ferociously his nails felt they were gouging into me. We moved in a wild rhythm, clinging to each other with grasping hands. Harder and faster. Faster. The cadence so rough as we rubbed against each other, mouths sealed in messy, fiery kisses, molten lava raced through my veins, choking my breathing into short, harsh gulps for air. My chest ached.
“Rafe!” Ned pulled away his mouth long enough to let out my name in a low, broken cry as he juddered and shuddered to his fulfilment. I matched him, mirrored him, shaking with my own passion and need and the despairing sadness that we would be apart for so many months.
For a long time, neither of us moved. Ned was a warm weight, familiar, so very dear to me. I could conceive of nothing better than to be entwined like this for the rest of our lives, listening to his breathing, feeling the beat of his heart against mine, watching him while he was sleeping.
“I wish to God you could stay, too.” Ned’s voice was rough. “I’ll miss you.”
The ancient Greeks called it: lakhtara. Something more than the nostalgia of longing for a lost past, but a feeling close to it—the nostalgia of longing for something immeasurably dear. A deep melancholy, a sense of “missingness” cooled my blood. I’d miss him too. Be lost without him.
More than I had ever thought possible.
Rafe Lancaster is reluctantly settling into his role as the First Heir of House Stravaigor. Trapped by his father’s illness and his new responsibilities, Rafe can’t go with lover Ned Winter to Aegypt for the 1902/03 archaeological digging season. Rafe’s unease at being left behind intensifies when Ned’s fascination with the strange Antikythera mechanism and its intriguing link to the Aegyptian god Thoth has Ned heading south to the remote, unexplored highlands of Abyssinia and the course of the Blue Nile.
Searching for Thoth’s deadly secrets, Ned is out of contact and far from help. When he doesn’t return at Christmas as he promised, everything points to trouble. Rafe is left with a stark choice – abandon his dying father or risk never seeing Ned again.
Title: The God’s Eye
Author: Anna Butler
Series: Lancaster’s Luck
Necessary to read previous 2 books? Best read in sequence
Category: Steampunk adventure | M/M romance.
eBook Publication Date: 21 January 2020
Publisher: Glass Hat Press © 2020
Editors: Desi Chapman (Blue Ink Editing) and Megan Reddaway
Cover Artist: Reese Dante
Internal Art: Margaret Warner
Anna lives in the depths of the Nottinghamshire countryside with her husband and the Deputy Editor, aka Molly the cockapoo, who’s supported by Mavis the Assistant Editor, a Yorkie-Bichon cross with a bark several times bigger than she is but with no opinion whatsoever on the placement of semi-colons.
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Anna has brought a great giveaway, including a first prize $20 (or equivalent) Amazon gift card and second prize “The Gilded Scarab” as ebook to give away on her tour. Follow the Rafflecopter below to enter. The giveaway runs through February 7th.
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