Hello and welcome to everyone who’s reading this, the third stop on the blog tour for The Crimson Outlaw, my historical m/m novella set in Transylvania. If you’re still reading from this point on, thank you for that! And thank you to my hosts here on the Sid Love blog for having me. I hope not to lower the tone 🙂 If you’re following the whole tour, quintuple thanks, and you may find it easiest to do so by keeping up with the schedule on this page.
I thought I’d take a break from the interview questions today and give you an excerpt exclusive to this site instead.
This is our heroes’ first meeting, at a dance in the village hall, while Vali is running away from home, and Mihai is not telling what his secret is:
He let his shoulders fall back and his limbs loosen. The girl twirled in place, her skirt spreading out and lifting with the motion to reveal shapely legs. She looked at him challengingly, and, with a cocky smile, he launched himself into the feciorească, clicking his heels and leaping high, stamping and slapping his thighs to show off the strength of his legs, the lightness and wildness of his frame.
At the second leap, the door opened behind his partner, and a man came in who had to bow to fit his head beneath the frame. A giant of a man, made bigger by a sheepskin coat turned skin-side out. The skin had been dyed crimson and covered with swirls of indigo embroidery. It made his shoulders and his arms look huge, but he wore it lightly, stopping just inside the door and raking Vali with a long, hot piercing look. His eyes were a blue so deep they almost matched the stitching on his coat.
Vali felt the gaze all over him like the tingling of nettles, and as he was already dancing a dance designed to show off a man’s beauty and vigour, he doubled his efforts. The girl grinned, and in the crowd three voices called out encouragement, but Vali didn’t stop until he had seen the giant’s mouth turn up slightly at one corner. Then he took the girl’s hand and led her into a couple dance, floating slightly on the knowledge that every time he glanced over, those dark blue eyes would be fixed on him.
After far too long, the dance came to an end. The musicians—Lautari gypsies in long coats, with rosin from their bows whitening their splendid moustaches—took a brief gulp of their drinks. Vali lead the girl back to the girls’ side, parted with a bow, and was just—finally!—making his way over to investigate the little half smile on the big man’s face, when an unwelcome toper with a mild look and a big nose barged into his way.
“Well danced indeed, sir. I am Nicolae, the horse doctor. What can I do for you?”
Damn. He looked over Nicolae’s shoulder, saw that his predicament had only widened the stranger’s smile. Someone had found a table for the man, and even now there was a steady stream of visitors to it, shaking hands, leaving a tot, leaning down to whisper a word or two and get an answer, leaving with thanks.
It’s as though he’s a boyar, holding court with these people as his petitioners. Vali dragged his gaze back to the broken blood vessels on the end of the horse doctor’s nose. “I . . . Um. Yes. My horse was lamed by bandits on the path. He’s at the house of Ilie and Crina up by the orchard. Would you go and look at him, please? And take this in payment both for his treatment and his board.”
Nicolae did not share the old couple’s reluctance to accept silver. He snatched the belt plaque from Vali’s fingers so fast it made them sting. “Of course. At once.”
But he was at least as good as his word, turning to leave, letting Vali make his own visit to the stranger’s throne. Not sure if he was a supplicant or a challenger.
As he approached, the big man took off his hat. His shaggy hair was chestnut brown, full of little licks of fire red, copper red, even crimson. His brows were dark and raised in approval. A generous mouth stretched his amused smile into smugness. Above strong cheekbones, his eyes snapped, full of boldness and challenge and unmistakeable want.
The pull of it brought heat welling beneath the surface of Vali’s skin. Made him breathe hard and wipe his hot hands on his flanks, glad for the long fall of his untucked shirt over his lap. The man was important in some way and could undoubtedly get away with a great deal. Vali was more important, but could not, not if his father ever—
Thoughts of his father—all thoughts, in fact—fled from his mind as the man took hold of his hand and pulled him down to a seat. Vali had been dancing, but the red-haired man’s touch was still scorching against his skin. He’d be a furnace under the jacket. Vali—who had done a great deal of fantasising in his life and very little acting on it—shocked himself by licking his lips and leaning forwards to place an open hand over the man’s heart. His shirt was unlaced, tucked into a great belt of stiff blue leather, and Vali’s thumb slipped beneath the collar. Hot indeed, every bit as hot as he had hoped.
He tried to straighten, draw away, but a big hand came down on the nape of his neck and effortlessly held him in place. “I’m Mihai Roșcat. Normally I’d want an introduction before we went on to fondling, but in your case, I’m willing to make an exception.”
I ran something very complicated with my last tour. This time I think I’ll keep it simple. If you would like to win your choice out of my backlist titles (any one novel, or two novellas) comment to be put into the hat. At the end of the tour I’ll draw a name from all those who have commented during the week and post an announcement of the winner on my blog, Facebook and twitter so that you can contact me with your choice and your email address, and I can get your prize to you.
Alex Beecroft is an English author best known for historical fiction, notably Age of Sail, featuring gay characters and romantic storylines. Her novels and shorter works include paranormal, fantasy, and contemporary fiction.
Beecroft won Linden Bay Romance’s (now Samhain Publishing) Starlight Writing Competition in 2007 with her first novel, Captain’s Surrender, making it her first published book. On the subject of writing gay romance, Beecroft has appeared in the Charleston City Paper, LA Weekly, the New Haven Advocate, the Baltimore City Paper, and The Other Paper. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association of the UK and an occasional reviewer for the blog Speak Its Name, which highlights historical gay fiction.
Alex was born in Northern Ireland during the Troubles and grew up in the wild countryside of the English Peak District. She lives with her husband and two children in a little village near Cambridge and tries to avoid being mistaken for a tourist.
Alex is only intermittently present in the real world. She has led a Saxon shield wall into battle, toiled as a Georgian kitchen maid, and recently taken up an 800-year-old form of English folk dance, but she still hasn’t learned to operate a mobile phone.
She is represented by Louise Fury of the L. Perkins Literary Agency.
Connect with Alex:
- Website: alexbeecroft.com
- Blog: alexbeecroft.com/blog
- Facebook: facebook.com/AlexBeecroftAuthor
- Twitter: @Alex_Beecroft
- Goodreads: goodreads.com/Alex_Beecroft
Vali Florescu, heir to a powerful local boyar, flees his father’s cruelty to seek his fortune in the untamed Carpathian forests. There he expects to fight ferocious bandits and woo fair maidens to prove himself worthy of returning to depose his tyrannical father. But when he is ambushed by Mihai Roscat, the fearsome Crimson Outlaw, he discovers that he’s surprisingly happy to be captured and debauched instead.
Mihai, once an honoured knight, has long sought revenge against Vali’s father, Wadim, who killed his lord and forced him into a life of banditry. Expecting his hostage to be a resentful, spoiled brat, Mihai is unprepared for the boy to switch loyalties, saving the lives of villagers and of Mihai himself during one of Wadim’s raids. Mihai is equally unprepared for the attraction between them to deepen into love.
Vali soon learns that life outside the castle is not the fairy tale he thought, and happy endings must be earned. To free themselves and their people from Wadim’s oppression, Vali and Mihai must forge their love into the spear-point of a revolution and fight for a better world for all.
– You can read an excerpt and purchase The Crimson Outlaw here: