Captain Theodore Hedgeford was once the Adonis of his cavalry unit. A devastating injury at Waterloo leaves him disfigured, and earns him a new nickname: Caliban. His lover abandons him, leaving Theo to suffer through his recovery alone. Determined to protect his heart from further pain, Theo finds his vow challenged by a not-so-chance encounter with cavalry groom Robin Thornfield. Unprecedented sexual pleasure and the comfort Rob provides war with the humiliation of being unable to care for himself.
Robin Thornfield has longed to be by Theo’s side since Rob was a groom for their cavalry unit. Undaunted by Hedgeford’s devastating injuries, Rob takes the position of valet and sets about making himself indispensable. He is determined to provide for all of Theo’s needs: physical, emotional, and sexual. When Theo’s former lover returns with blackmail on his mind, Rob knows he must protect both Theo and their newly discovered love.
The mineral waters closed abruptly over Theo’s head, and he flailed about, trying to get from his back to an upright position with his head above water where it belonged. Strong hands gripped him under the armpits and yanked him up above the water’s surface.
Spluttering and gasping for air, Theo was chagrined to find that he had made the mistake of relying on strength he no longer possessed. Now he was indebted to a stranger for his life.
“Thank you,” he croaked out between spasms of coughing. Thornfield’s strong arms held Theo steady, bearing his full weight without effort, seeming unconcerned that he held a naked man against his own skin.
The realization that this powerful stranger had stripped bare to enter the pool sent a flush of desire through Theo. He’d been held against too many male bodies not to realize this man was well formed everywhere, not just in his shoulders and face.
“Injured you may be, Captain, but at least one part of you is in prime condition.”
Theo went scarlet from his head to well beneath the water line. Embarrassingly, his erection did not diminish. The sound of Thornfield’s deep chuckle in his ear merely fanned Theo’s desire.
“Now then, Captain, if you are quite done with being offended at your friend’s interference, permit me to accompany you to somewhere more comfortable. I have a carriage waiting, so there is no need to call for a chair.”
After that ridiculous plunge beneath the water, Theo wasn’t certain he wanted to go anywhere at all with Thornfield. Even so, his body’s embarrassing reaction made Theo want to know the man more intimately. That calm, unruffled reaction to Theo’s arousal had awakened his curiosity.
“Here we go.” Thornfield pulled Theo’s left arm around his neck, catching Theo’s right hip with his other hand.
Theo gasped a little at the pain in his left side and back, until the pressure of a strong hand on his hip eased the strain. Though not a short man himself, Theo realized Thornfield likely stood several inches taller than six feet, to judge by the upward angle of his arm as it rested across those broad shoulders. Unexpectedly, Theo’s pride rebelled, though he’d accepted such assistance from his fellow officers. “I can manage,” he panted, pushing away from his erstwhile savior. Though admitting it would be humiliating, just staying upright was proving to be harder than expected.
“If you don’t stop fussing like a baby, I will carry you like one,” Thornfield remarked mildly, keeping a firm grip on Theo’s waist. “Bear with the indignity and the pain, please. Better that than have you fall again and injure that leg beyond repair.”
Theo stopped struggling at once. The thought of enduring more surgical ministrations on his leg left him queasy, though other parts of him were responding despite his feelings of humiliation. That large, warm hand easily spanned Theo’s hip, making him wonder how it would feel to have his cock wrapped in Thornfield’s strong fist.
Damn. That wayward thought brought his flagging erection to full mast again. With an effort, Theo redirected his mind toward the excruciating climb out of the baths. Despite the shallow steps placed for convenient entry and exit, his slip had wrenched his hip badly, and his legs were shaking beneath him. If Thornfield hadn’t been present, he might have drowned, unable to bring his weakened muscles to lift him from the water.
His ardor waned at last, and he sat shaking on the edge of the bathing pool. Damn his body for betraying him and leaving him vulnerable. He’d managed on his own just fine this morning—oh, yes, just fine, except for nearly falling on the floor in his attempt to reach the chamber pot beneath the bed. Quite humiliating to realize his salvaged leg could not bend worth a damn to allow him to sit with ease.
A large length of heavy linen landed across Theo’s shoulders, interrupting his maudlin ruminations and trapping the heat of the mineral bath against his skin. He looked up to see Thornfield standing over him with a similar length wrapped and knotted about his waist. “Thank you,” Theo replied, striving for the civility appropriate to the situation.
Thornfield didn’t immediately respond. When he did, his words had nothing to do with courtesy. “You nearly died at Hougoumont, Captain. That was barely six months ago. You really shouldn’t be out and about without an orderly.”
Hurt roiled through Theo’s gut. By rights, it should have been Joseph standing there, or Will Haverly, not this strapping lout with bad manners. “I’m fine, blast your hide! I’m perfectly capable of managing on my own.”
Then the meaning of Thornfield’s words struck home. You nearly died at Hougoumont. He swallowed. That meant Thornfield had been at Waterloo, in that damnable mess of a cavalry charge. Or at the hospital. “Who are you, Robin Thornfield? Just what do you know about me?” His voice came out in a croak, but he didn’t care. Suspicions flooded his mind—suspicions of Haverly acting in some damn fool manner to replace Joseph and give Theo what Will himself couldn’t.
“Who am I?” Thornfield’s voice held amused chagrin and the faintest touch of sarcasm. “Nothing but a groom, Captain. A cavalryman assigned to care for the horses until they all died or until I did.” After a pause, he continued. “What do I know about you? More than you think, but not as much as I’d like.” He squatted beside Theo, giving him an eyeful of what the cloth covered.
It was a nice eyeful, Theo thought, wishing he still had the courage to reach out and touch what Thornfield seemed to be offering. Thoughts of Joseph’s back as he stormed out of the tent interfered.
Thornfield leaned close, whispering in Theo’s ear. “Your grey was too gentle to ride into battle. You should have chosen a better mount.”
It felt like an accusation. “He was prime blood!”
Thornfield smiled at Theo’s infuriated retort, kneeling to take the cloth from Theo’s nerveless fingers. He began drying Theo, starting with his shoulders, rubbing firmly enough to sop up wetness, but gently over the tender flesh of the scars. “True, Captain. Even so, your gallant Smoke had neither the stamina nor the temperament to withstand cannon fire without terror. Had he been steadier, you might have escaped with less injury. You might have been able to flee on horseback with Captain Haverly rather than simply becoming his shield.”
Theo shivered at the memory of his horse shying from the smell of blood and the sound of cannon thunder, throwing Theo to the ground and shattering Theo’s leg in stamping panic. A convulsive twitch shuddered through him at the memory of the pain.
When Haverly had come to his rescue, dismounting to haul him up, there had been only the shrill, warning scream of the shot whistling. Only scant seconds to protect the man Theo loved more than life from the devastating shot flying at them.
Copyright © Autumn Montague
In honor of my new release, Loose Id has put my first novel on sale today! Blood Sworn 1: Salva Me is on sale for 20% off – if you missed it the first time, come check it out now!
My newest story for Loose Id just released today, 12/22/2015! Siren’s Daughter, the first in my Bacchanal Moonrise Mating Cruises series. A lusty siren, a hot Japanese selkie (yes, you read that right), and a blind date on a cruise ship: the perfect combination for sparks!
Cassiopeia Thalassus has a problem. Under a strict injunction not to come home until she’s pregnant, she’s been sent on an eight day matchmaking cruise by her father, Poseidon. The Bacchanal Moonrise has a reputation as the perfect place for a fling – casual or otherwise. Cassie’s been sent to meet a prince, and she hopes the guy is someone she can fall in love with. On the other hand, the Siren in her is all too willing to settle for just anyone. This prince had better be worth the potential heartache.
Kenta Ōwatatsumi agreed to this date at the encouragement of his oldest brother. Tired of the usual women who only want him for his Selkie magic, Kenta is looking for someone who wants him for more than just sex and Selkie parlor tricks. His aniki promised him someone different. His first sight of Cassie Thalassus, however, has him questioning his brother’s good sense. Instead of a simple blind date, Kenta’s been tricked into a stud call for a lusty Siren. His brother got one thing right, though. Cassie’s certainly different.
Because she’s not just one breathtaking woman, she’s two.
Sound exciting? You can buy it here:
Yes, you read that right! Salva Me will be coming to you soon in print form…watch for it at Loose Id and Amazon!
On another note, gomen’nasai!
My profound apologies for such an extended absence. I can only offer the excuse of extenuating family circumstances (yes, authors have families, too!) As recompense, I’d like to offer a small token of Japanese beauty for your serene contemplation while you wait anxiously (I hope!) for your print copy of Salva Me:
I’ll post a little excerpt for you tomorrow…
As you can see from the photos I’ve posted here, and on my Facebook page if you’ve popped in over there, I find the landscape of Japan quite awe-inspiring. So what, exactly, caused me to write such a dark, disturbing tale as Salva Me? I mean, vampires? In Japan? Regency vampires? Come on, right?
Well, aside from my fascination with all things Japanese, I grew up loving horror stories too. I mean, as a kid I’d watched Gegege no Kitaro, absorbing Japanese mythology by proxy, clueless about what was going on. Then, we moved to the states and I grew older, and discovered American horror. You know, those late Saturday night midnight chillers? I used to babysit a lot, and those late night horrors filled my time and spurred my imagination. When I discovered Jane Austen, I thought my scary story days were over.
And then I discovered yaoi manga. Jackpot! Gay romance in all its forms, from historic Japan to fantasy worlds to Regency and Victorian eras, and vampires, yokai, oni, ghosts, and gods of all sorts. I was hooked. If you read my interview with Emily Carrington, you’ll know I have an alter ego who writes straight historical romance. When Emily joked with me about joining the dark side, I said “yeah, maybe I should write a gay, regency, vampire romance. And throw in something Japanese for a twist.”
And so it started. Why vampires? Well, they’ve fascinated me for a long, long time. But I didn’t want to follow everyone else. I wanted to do something different. So I asked the first question – do they have to be dead?
That’s for part 2. See you then!
Stop by and see my interview with Emily Carrington on a little of the behind-the-scenes magic of Salva Me!
At her website here: http://emilycarrington.com/salva-me-and-how-to-write-gay-regency-vampires/
I’m giving away a free copy of Salva Me to a lucky commenter…hope to hear from you there!
Sorry to be gone for so long…chalk it up to a crazy busy life in my non-writing world. But let’s step back into things, and take a look at something unique about Japan–the continuous fusion of foreign elements into Japanese culture. It’s something that’s been going on since Japan opened its doors to the world in the mid-1800s.
If you ask almost anyone from Western cultures, they can probably point out a variety of things that mean ‘Japan’ or ‘Japanese’ to them. But most people probably wouldn’t list the mastery of assimilation and blending to create something new and uniquely Japanese in that list. Yet many of the most iconic symbols of Japan have been imported, adopted, and blended into a new fusion of quintessential Japanese.
Look at food, for example. Chefs are always experimenting, but where masters of, say, French or Italian cuisine might look down their noses at anything but the ‘pure’ form of their craft, Japanese chefs look to enhance traditional recipes with a new spice, a new ingredient, or even a blend of East and West. Take the omelet, a breakfast standard here in the US. Japan has omurice, an omelet draped over a bed of rice, and frequently topped by ketchup or something equally unusual.
And then there’s Valentine’s day. Here in the US, Valentine’s day is dominated by women expecting their men (or significant others) flowers, chocolates, jewelry, dates at fine restaurants, all in the name of romance and love. In Japan, on the other hand, women do the giving, mostly in chocolates, to the men they hope will acknowledge them. Men return the gifts to that special someone on March 14, White Day, a holiday unique to Japan.
Japan’s habit of assimilation and fusion goes back centuries, and includes centerpieces of their culture, like rice, shoyu, and kanji. Yet every time the Japanese adopt something from another culture, they shape it and mold it, creating something new and unique, and quintessentially their own.
One more reason I love Japan, and all things Japanese!
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