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Society of Gentlemen: Gay. Regency. Loveswept.
I am quite ridiculously pleased to say that Loveswept, the previously entirely het romance imprint of Penguin Random House, will be publishing their first m/m romance in 2015. It’s a Regency trilogy called Society of Gentlemen. And it’s by me.
I am delighted about this for me, obviously. I am ecstatic because every time a mainstream romance publisher takes a punt on queer romance, we not only open out the potential readership, we also move one tiny step closer to a wider acceptance that romance shouldn’t be segregated by the gender and orientation of the protagonists. This is what we started Queer Romance Month to say: A love story is a love story, and nobody’s love is a subgenre. Queer romance should be published alongside het in the big publishers as well as by the dedicated smaller presses and the self pubbers who have done so much—with the only discriminating factor for anyone being, ‘Is this a satisfying love story? Is this a good book?’
So I’m happy about this. I am also thrilled to the point of explosion for Boys in our Books and in particular Susan Lee, and here’s why.
Susan came up with the idea of publishing a m/m historical anthology for charity. I signed up. Sure, I’ll write you a story! I said, and then, rather nearer the deadline, Oh God, I promised to write you a story, didn’t I? Um…yeah…I’m totally on that, honest…
Susan’s aim was simple. She had been a sworn ‘I don’t like historicals’ reader, she had been converted to the joys of m/m historicals over the last year and she wanted to spread the love. Right, I thought. What made me love historicals?
Georgette Heyer, that’s what. I have read Heyer’s oeuvre approximately 97 times through. I could probably write out The Unknown Ajax from memory. I love everything about Heyeresque Regency. And it had always seemed to me to be ripe for queering. So I wrote ‘The Ruin of Gabriel Ashleigh’ about a young wastrel ruined at the card table, and the man who ruined him, and a game of cards that turns out to have everything at stake. It was full of the things I like best in Heyer—young idiots acquiring a bit of sense, sarcastic gamblers, tight trousers—plus some of my own favourite things, such as UST till your ears bleed, and sex on tables (YES I HAVE A THING WITH THAT). And a little bit of hinterland, too, because it’s important to the story that Francis Webster, the gambler, has powerful friends:
Webster was an intimate of the set headed by Lord Richard Vane, dubbed by some the Ricardians. These were an oddly assorted group of men, of varied birth, wealth, or brain, including some very queer fish indeed, but they shared qualities of self-possession and a strong mutual loyalty that made them bad men to cross, and with Lord Richard, Mr. Julius Norreys and Sir Absalom Lockwood among their number, few felt able to set themselves up in opposition. The Ricardians set their own fashions and chose their own friends with little care for the world’s judgement, and the world made way for them.
That was what I wrote. That was all I wrote. That was all I meant to write. I was working on something else anyway. I had absolutely no intention of thinking about who Richard Vane might be, or how it would work to have this little group of men, gay in dangerous times, banded together for mutual protection under society’s nose. I definitely didn’t mean to wonder what would happen to the Heyeresque Regency romance if it collided with the social unrest and brutal totalitarian politics of the actual Regency period, where you could be hanged for speaking out about the Government just as much as for sodomy…
Who was I kidding. I wrote a full set of synopses the next evening: about a young Radical plunged into the Ton and his mentor Julius Norreys, an exquisite with a past. About Dominic Frey of the Home Office and his Radical seditionist lover, trapped between passion, politics and treason. About Lord Richard Vane, torn apart by a love that really can’t speak its name. I wrote chapters. My glorious agent sold it to Loveswept so fast my head is still spinning. This thing is on.
The Society of Gentlemen trilogy was seeded when Susan asked me to write a story for the BIOB anthology Another Place in Time. So thank you, BIOB; thank you to everyone who’s bought Another Place in Time and supported AllOut; most of all, thank you, Susan. This one’s for you.
The first Society of Gentlemen book, A Fashionable Indulgence, is scheduled for August 2015 publication with Loveswept.
Read ‘The Ruin of Gabriel Ashleigh’ along with five fabulous m/m historical romances by some of my favourite writers in Another Place in Time, available on Amazon.com, Smashwords, Amazon.co.uk and ARe. All proceeds go to AllOut.org.
Flight of Magpies, book 3 in the Charm of Magpies trilogy, is out on 28th October so I’ll be back here to talk about it then. It really is all about me, isn’t it.
And do not fail to visit Queer Romance Month, where flash fiction and fascinating blog posts are still coming thick and fast throughout October.
ABOUT KJ CHARLES:
I’m a writer of romance, mostly m/m, often historical or fantasy or both. I also have a contemporary thriller as well. I like to mix it up.
I blog about writing and editing at kjcharleswriter.wordpress.com.
I live in London, UK, with two kids, a tolerant husband and an even more tolerant cat.
Follow me on Twitter @kj_charles or friend me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/kj.charles.9