Today I am so pleased to welcome Jackie North to Joyfully Jay. Jackie has come to talk to us about her latest release, At Lodgings in Lyme. She has also brought along a great giveaway. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!

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Exclusive Excerpt

This is from early on in the story. The two main characters, Jack and Oliver, have only recently left London and don’t have any money for either a night at an inn or a pair of seats on a coach headed west. Jack intends to steal, and all Oliver can do is watch. (From Oliver’s point of view.)

***

The idea of merely watching Jack steal, as opposed to stopping him, was, of course, the issue at hand. What Jack proposed to do, in the coaching inn yard of the King’s Arms, amidst a pair of six-horse, long-distance coaches, one coming, one going, was to pick someone’s pockets.

He was rubbing his hands together, pulling at his knuckles to warm them up, and looking out across the cobblestoned yard through sheets of rain as they spattered into the hillocks of gray-pitted snow. All business, focused on the task at hand.

If there was a single word in all the Queen’s English to stop him, then Oliver did not yet know it. Besides, after only a single afternoon’s trudge in the rain, he was already cold right through; the idea of a hot meal promised by Jack’s notorious employment was battling hard, and winning, against the sin of it.

As they stood beneath the crooked balconies of the coaching inn, Oliver looked at Jack. The both of them were too road-spattered to be completely unobtrusive, but Jack had insisted that no one would notice them.

What was perhaps worse than standing out, if Oliver allowed himself to think about it, was the condition of the red scarf around Jack’s neck. The walk from London, and the grime from less-than-salubrious stopping places, where they’d sat upon hard rocks or climbed over lazy fence stiles, all of them had left their mark.

Now the scarf was not only tattered along the edges, it was suffused with gray. No longer red, no longer cherry. No longer a resplendent representation of anything good, or snug, or safe.

Oliver made himself turn away from these dismal thoughts, and made himself remember he was in the wide, wide world, out beneath a bleak, weeping sky because he had chosen to be.

“Don’t forget you said you’d—” He paused to consider a moment, not wanting to be in charge of this mad plan. “You promised to pick the right person. Like the gentleman in the bottle-green coat.”

“Do you actually think it makes a difference, Nolly?” Jack was laughing at him outright, mouth wide, with only a small wince as his split lip cracked open. “Stealin’ is a sin, no matter the reason. Ain’t that in the Bible?”

“As if you’ve ever read any of it,” said Oliver with a snap, even though he knew he could not deter Jack from this plan.

Jack merely winked at him, and began to move toward the center of the courtyard, rain leaving hard, silver streaks on his hat. He said, as bold as he ever was, “You might as well come with me; you’ll be a great foist, if I needs one.”

Jack strode the sleek cobblestoned yard, jerking his head back to set his top hat to rights, cracking his fingers with his thumb, the furtive movement hidden beneath the too-long arms of his coat sleeves. He tugged on Oliver’s jacket, drawing all of Oliver’s garments close, reminding him how cold and damp he was, and how much more cold and damp he would be if he forced them to sleep under a hedge.

He did not want that for himself. Besides, Jack looked pale with that dark bruise on his cheek, and as he turned, he moved with some stiffness, which caused his movements to be jerky, not like the usual smooth ease that followed Jack’s every move.

Oliver let himself be led, ducking his head as he stepped out into the splattering rain, clutching the three books. He told himself that he was doing this for Jack so that Jack could have a hot meal and a dry place to lay his head, but not for himself, no, never that. And particularly not because of his fear that Jack, not being a tame and sensible companion, might leave him otherwise. Not that Jack had said or in any way indicated that. But Oliver had no tether to hold him. If Jack left, then Oliver would be alone in the wide world, standing out of the rain beneath the balcony of a coaching inn.

But while he could not hold Jack, he would much rather travel to Lyme Regis, from whence the Flemings had come, with him than without him. For he could not imagine walking along the road without Jack, without Jack’s green eyes and that ready smile. Even Jack’s mockery had become necessary in his life; he could not manage without all of that, so he would manage to do with it. Not that he would ever inform Jack of his trepidation, for Jack would only mock him all the more.

He followed close behind Jack, the brim of his hat tipped down so that he did not have to meet anyone’s eyes. Nor see the face of the gentleman in the bottle-green jacket, silky scarf wrapped snugly around his neck.

The gentleman was shielded from the damp gusts of wind by his manservant, who, taking one look at Jack, nonchalantly looked the other way. It was a nice coat that the gentleman wore, and Oliver envied its fine, somber lines, which were thick enough to withstand even the most insistent gales.

Of note, the gentleman, top hat shedding the rain with ease, the cravat around his neck a dense and spotless white, appeared to be quite well off. Enough to have, possibly, afforded his own coach and four, but who, for some reason, had determined that a conveyance departing from this lowly country coaching inn was the way to go.

It was truly going to happen, then, as it had so long ago, with Jack on the job and Oliver standing by, an observer and half-hearted participant, only this time, not so innocent.


Blurb

at lodgings at lyme coverOliver & Jack, Book 2

An orphan and his street thief companion flee London’s now-dangerous streets and the threat of the hangman’s noose. This is the love story of Oliver Twist and The Artful Dodger.

After Oliver commits murder to protect Jack, they head south to Lyme Regis. Along the way, Jack becomes ill, and Oliver is forced to gut fish to pay the doctor’s bills.

Oliver tries to balance his desire for respectability with his growing love for Jack, while Jack balks against the conventions of society and wants to ply his trade.

In spite of their personal struggles, and in the face of dire circumstances, they discover the depth of their love for each other—but can their love survive?

A gay, m/m Victorian-era romance with grumpy/sunshine, hurt/comfort, opposites attract, emotional scars, and pure, sweet love. A little sweet, a little steamy, with a guaranteed HEA.


Bio

jackie north bio imageJackie North has been writing stories since grade school and spent years absorbing the mainstream romances that she found at her local grocery store. Her dream was to someday leave her corporate day job behind and put her English degree to good use and write romance novels, because for years she’s had a never-ending movie of made-up love stories in her head that simply wouldn’t leave her alone.

As fate would have it, she discovered m/m romance and decided that men falling in love with other men was exactly what she wanted to write books about. In this dazzling new world, she is now putting stories to paper as fast as her fingers can type. She creates characters who are a bit flawed and broken, who find themselves on the edge of society, and maybe a few who are a little bit lost, but who all deserve a happily ever after. (And she makes sure they get it!)

She likes long walks on the beach, the smell of lavender and rainstorms, and enjoys sleeping in on snowy mornings. She is especially fond of pizza and beer and, when time allows, long road trips with soda fountain drinks and rock and roll music. In her heart, there is peace to be found everywhere, but since in the real world this isn’t always true, Jackie writes for love.

Connect with Jackie:


Giveaway

To celebrate the release of At Lodgings In Lyme, Jackie is giving away the winner’s choice of any ebook from her backlist. Two winners will be chosen. Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway for your chance to win!

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