Friday, November 3, 2017

Friday's Film Adaptations: The Girl on the Boat by PG Wodehouse


Summary:
The Girl on the Boat features red-haired, dog-loving Wilhelmina "Billie" Bennet, and the three men, a long-time friend and admirer of Billie, a lily-livered poet who is engaged to Billie at the opening of the tale, and his dashing cousin, who falls for Billie at first sight. All four find themselves on an ocean liner headed for England together, and typically Wodehousian romantic shenanigans ensue.

Note: It first appeared in 1921 as a serial in the Woman's Home Companion in the United States under the title Three Men and a Maid.



CHAPTER I
A DISTURBING MORNING
Through the curtained windows of the furnished flat which Mrs. Horace Hignett had rented for her stay in New York, rays of golden sunlight peeped in like the foremost spies of some advancing army. It was a fine summer morning. The hands of the Dutch clock in the hall pointed to thirteen minutes past nine; those of the ormolu clock in the sitting-room to eleven minutes past ten; those of the carriage clock on the bookshelf to fourteen minutes to six. In other words, it was exactly eight; and Mrs. Hignett acknowledged the fact by moving her head on the pillow, opening her eyes, and sitting up in bed. She always woke at eight precisely.

Was this Mrs. Hignett the Mrs. Hignett, the world-famous writer on Theosophy, the author of "The Spreading Light," "What of the Morrow," and all the rest of that well-known series? I'm glad you asked me. Yes, she was. She had come over to America on a lecturing tour. 
About this time there was a good deal of suffering in the United States, for nearly every boat that arrived from England was bringing a fresh swarm of British lecturers to the country. Novelists, poets, scientists, philosophers, and plain, ordinary bores; some herd instinct seemed to affect them all simultaneously. It was like one of those great race movements of the Middle Ages. Men and women of widely differing views on religion, art, politics, and almost every other subject; on this one point the intellectuals of Great Britain were single-minded, that there was easy money to be picked up on the lecture-platforms of America, and that they might just as well grab it as the next person.

Mrs. Hignett had come over with the first batch of immigrants; for,spiritual as her writings were, there was a solid streak of business sense in this woman, and she meant to get hers while the getting was good. She was half way across the Atlantic with a complete itinerary booked, before ninety per cent. of the poets and philosophers had finished sorting out their clean collars and getting their photographs taken for the passport.

She had not left England without a pang, for departure had involved sacrifices. More than anything else in the world she loved her charminghome, Windles, in the county of Hampshire, for so many years the seat of the Hignett family. Windles was as the breath of life to her. Its shady walks, its silver lake, its noble elms, the old grey stone of its walls--these were bound up with her very being. She felt that she belonged to Windles, and Windles to her. Unfortunately, as a matter of cold, legal accuracy, it did not. She did but hold it in trust for her son, Eustace, until such time as he should marry and take possession of it himself. There were times when the thought of Eustace marrying and bringing a strange woman to Windles chilled Mrs. Hignett to her very marrow. Happily, her firm policy of keeping her son permanently under her eye at home and never permitting him to have speech with a female below the age of fifty, had averted the peril up till now.

Eustace had accompanied his mother to America. It was his faint snores which she could hear in the adjoining room as, having bathed and dressed, she went down the hall to where breakfast awaited her. She smiled tolerantly. She had never desired to convert her son to her own early-rising habits, for, apart from not allowing him to call his soul his own, she was an indulgent mother. Eustace would get up at half-past nine, long after she had finished breakfast, read her correspondence, and started her duties for the day.

Breakfast was on the table in the sitting-room, a modest meal of rolls, porridge, and imitation coffee. Beside the pot containing this hell-brew, was a little pile of letters. Mrs. Hignett opened them as she ate. The majority were from disciples and dealt with matters of purely theosophical interest. There was an invitation from the Butterfly Club, asking her to be the guest of honour at their weekly dinner. There was a letter from her brother Mallaby--Sir Mallaby Marlowe, the eminent London lawyer--saying that his son Sam, of whom she had never approved, would  be in New York shortly, passing through on his way back to England, and hoping that she would see something of him. Altogether a dull mail. Mrs. Hignett skimmed through it without interest, setting aside one or two of the letters for Eustace, who acted as her unpaid secretary, to answer later in the day.

She had just risen from the table, when there was a sound of voices in the hall, and presently the domestic staff, a gaunt Irish lady of advanced years, entered the room.

"Ma'am, there was a gentleman."

Mrs. Hignett was annoyed. Her mornings were sacred.

"Didn't you tell him I was not to be disturbed?"

"I did not. I loosed him into the parlour." The staff remained for a moment in melancholy silence, then resumed. "He says he's your nephew. His name's Marlowe."

Mrs. Hignett experienced no diminution of her annoyance. She had not seen her nephew Sam for ten years, and would have been willing to extend the period. She remembered him as an untidy small boy who once or twice, during his school holidays, had disturbed the cloistral peace of Windles with his beastly presence. However, blood being thicker than water, and all that sort of thing, she supposed she would have to give him five  minutes. She went into the sitting-room, and found there a young man wholooked more or less like all other young men, though perhaps rather fitter than most. He had grown a good deal since she had last met him, as men so often do between the ages of fifteen and twenty-five, and was now about six feet in height, about forty inches round the chest, and in weight about thirteen stone. He had a brown and amiable face, marred at the moment by an expression of discomfort somewhat akin to that of a cat in a strange alley.

"Hullo, Aunt Adeline!" he said awkwardly.

"Well, Samuel!" said Mrs. Hignett.

There was a pause. Mrs. Hignett, who was not fond of young men and disliked having her mornings broken into, was thinking that he had not improved in the slightest degree since their last meeting; and Sam, who imagined that he had long since grown to man's estate and put off childish things, was embarrassed to discover that his aunt still affected him as of old. That is to say, she made him feel as if he had omitted to shave and, in addition to that, had swallowed some drug which had caused him to swell unpleasantly, particularly about the hands and feet.

"Jolly morning," said Sam, perseveringly.

"So I imagine. I have not yet been out." 
"Thought I'd look in and see how you were."

"That was very kind of you. The morning is my busy time, but ... yes, that was very kind of you!"

There was another pause.

"How do you like America?" said Sam.

"I dislike it exceedingly."

"Yes? Well, of course, some people do. Prohibition and all that. Personally, it doesn't affect me. I can take it or leave it alone. I like America myself," said Sam. "I've had a wonderful time. Everybody'streated me like a rich uncle. I've been in Detroit, you know, and they practically gave me the city and asked me if I'd like another to take home in my pocket. Never saw anything like it. I might have been the missing heir! I think America's the greatest invention on record."

"And what brought you to America?" said Mrs. Hignett, unmoved by this rhapsody.

"Oh, I came over to play golf. In a tournament, you know."

"Surely at your age," said Mrs. Hignett, disapprovingly, "you could be  better occupied. Do you spend your whole time playing golf?"

"Oh, no! I play cricket a bit and shoot a bit and I swim a good lot and I still play football occasionally."

"I wonder your father does not insist on your doing some useful work."

"He is beginning to harp on the subject rather. I suppose I shall take a stab at it sooner or later. Father says I ought to get married, too."

"He is perfectly right."

"I suppose old Eustace will be getting hitched up one of these days?" said Sam.

Mrs. Hignett started violently.

"Why do you say that?"

"Eh?"

"What makes you say that?"

"Oh, well, he's a romantic sort of fellow. Writes poetry, and all that."

"There is no likelihood at all of Eustace marrying. He is of a shy and  retiring temperament, and sees few women. He is almost a recluse." Sam was aware of this, and had frequently regretted it. He had always been fond of his cousin in that half-amused and rather patronising way in which men of thews and sinews are fond of the weaker brethren who run more to pallor and intellect; and he had always felt that if Eustace had not had to retire to Windles to spend his life with a woman whom from his earliest years he had always considered the Empress of the Washouts, much might have been made of him. Both at school and at Oxford, Eustace had been--if not a sport--at least a decidedly cheery old bean. Sam remembered Eustace at school, breaking gas globes with a slipper in a positively rollicking manner. He remembered him at Oxford playing up to him manfully at the piano on the occasion when he had done that imitation of Frank Tinney which had been such a hit at the Trinity smoker. Yes, Eustace had had the makings of a pretty sound egg, and it was too bad that he had allowed his mother to coop him up down in the country, miles away from anywhere.

"Eustace is returning to England on Saturday," said Mrs. Hignett. She spoke a little wistfully. She had not been parted from her son since he had come down from Oxford; and she would have liked to keep him with her till the end of her lecturing tour. That, however, was out of the question. It was imperative that, while she was away, he should be at Windles. Nothing would have induced her to leave the place at the mercy of servants who might trample over the flowerbeds, scratch the polished floors, and forget to cover up the canary at night. "He sails on the 
'Atlantic.'"

"That's splendid!" said Sam. "I'm sailing on the 'Atlantic' myself. I'll go down to the office and see if we can't have a state-room together.

But where is he going to live when he gets to England?"

"Where is he going to live? Why, at Windles, of course. Where else?"

"But I thought you were letting Windles for the summer?"

Mrs. Hignett stared.

"Letting Windles!" She spoke as one might address a lunatic. "What put that extraordinary idea into your head?"

"I thought father said something about your letting the place to some American."

"Nothing of the kind!"

It seemed to Sam that his aunt spoke somewhat vehemently, even snappishly, in correcting what was a perfectly natural mistake. He could not know that the subject of letting Windles for the summer was one which had long since begun to infuriate Mrs. Hignett. People had certainly asked her to let Windles. In fact, people had pestered her.

There was a rich, fat man, an American named Bennett, whom she had met  just before sailing at her brother's house in London. Invited down to Windles for the day, Mr. Bennett had fallen in love with the place, and had begged her to name her own price. Not content with this, he had pursued her with his pleadings by means of the wireless telegraph while she was on the ocean, and had not given up the struggle even when shereached New York. She had not been in America two days when there had arrived a Mr. Mortimer, bosom friend of Mr. Bennett, carrying on the matter where the other had left off. For a whole week Mr. Mortimer had tried to induce her to reconsider her decision, and had only stopped because he had had to leave for England himself, to join his friend. And even then the thing had gone on. Indeed, this very morning, among the letters on Mrs. Hignett's table, the buff envelope of a cable from Mr. Bennett had peeped out, nearly spoiling her breakfast. No wonder, then, that Sam's allusion to the affair had caused the authoress of "The Spreading Light" momentarily to lose her customary calm.

"Nothing will induce me ever to let Windles," she said with finality, and rose significantly. Sam, perceiving that the audience was at an end--and glad of it--also got up.

"Well, I think I'll be going down and seeing about that state-room" he said.

"Certainly. I am a little busy just now, preparing notes for my next lecture." 
"Of course, yes. Mustn't interrupt you. I suppose you're having a great time, gassing away--I mean--well, good-bye!"

"Good-bye!"

Mrs. Hignett, frowning, for the interview had ruffled her and disturbed that equable frame of mind which is so vital to the preparation of lectures on Theosophy, sat down at the writing-table and began to go through the notes which she had made overnight. She had hardly succeeded in concentrating herself when the door opened to admit the daughter of Erin once more.

"Ma'am, there was a gentleman."

"This is intolerable!" cried Mrs. Hignett. "Did you tell him that I was busy?"

"I did not. I loosed him into the dining-room."

"Is he a reporter from one of the newspapers?"

"He is not. He has spats and a tall-shaped hat. His name is Bream Mortimer."

"Bream Mortimer!" 

"Yes, ma'am. He handed me a bit of a kyard, but I dropped it, being slippy from the dishes."

Mrs. Hignett strode to the door with a forbidding expression. This, as she had justly remarked, was intolerable. She remembered Bream Mortimer. He was the son of the Mr. Mortimer who wanted Windles. This visit could only have to do with the subject of Windles, and she went into the dining-room in a state of cold fury, determined to squash the Mortimer family, in the person of their New York representative, once and for all.

"Good morning, Mr. Mortimer."

Bream Mortimer was tall and thin. He had small bright eyes and a sharply curving nose. He looked much more like a parrot than most parrots do. It gave strangers a momentary shock of surprise when they saw Bream Mortimer in restaurants, eating roast beef. They had the feeling that he would have preferred sunflower seeds.

"Morning, Mrs. Hignett."

"Please sit down."

Bream Mortimer looked as though he would rather have hopped on to a perch, but he sat down. He glanced about the room with gleaming, excited eyes. 
"Mrs. Hignett, I must have a word with you alone!"

"You are having a word with me alone."

"I hardly know how to begin."

"Then let me help you. It is quite impossible. I will never consent."

Bream Mortimer started.

"Then you have heard about it?"

"I have heard about nothing else since I met Mr. Bennett in London. Mr. Bennett talked about nothing else. Your father talked about nothing else. And now," cried Mrs. Hignett, fiercely, "you come and try to re-open the subject. Once and for all, nothing will alter my decision. No money will induce me to let my house."

"But I didn't come about that!"

"You did not come about Windles?"

"Good Lord, no!"

"Then will you kindly tell me why you have come?" 
Bream Mortimer seemed embarrassed. He wriggled a little, and moved his arms as if he were trying to flap them.

"You know," he said, "I'm not a man who butts into other people's affairs...." He stopped.

"No?" said Mrs. Hignett.

Bream began again.

"I'm not a man who gossips with valets...."

"No?"

"I'm not a man who...."

Mrs. Hignett was never a very patient woman.

"Let us take all your negative qualities for granted," she said curtly.

"I have no doubt that there are many things which you do not do. Let us confine ourselves to issues of definite importance. What is it, if you have no objection to concentrating your attention on that for a moment, that you wish to see me about?"

"This marriage." 
"What marriage?"

"Your son's marriage."

"My son is not married."

"No, but he's going to be. At eleven o'clock this morning at the Little

Church Round the Corner!"

Mrs. Hignett stared.

"Are you mad?"

"Well, I'm not any too well pleased, I'm bound to say," admitted Mr. Mortimer. "You see, darn it all, I'm in love with the girl myself!"

"Who is this girl?"

"Have been for years. I'm one of those silent, patient fellows who hang around and look a lot but never tell their love...."

"Who is this girl who has entrapped my son?"

"I've always been one of those men who...." 
"Mr. Mortimer! With your permission we will take your positive qualities, also, for granted. In fact, we will not discuss you at all. You come to me with this absurd story...."

"Not absurd. Honest fact. I had it from my valet who had it from her maid."

"Will you please tell me who is the girl my misguided son wishes to marry?"

"I don't know that I'd call him misguided," said Mr. Mortimer, as one desiring to be fair. "I think he's a right smart picker! She's such a corking girl, you know. We were children together, and I've loved her for years. Ten years at least. But you know how it is--somehow one neverseems to get in line for a proposal. I thought I saw an opening in the summer of nineteen-twelve, but it blew over. I'm not one of these smooth, dashing chaps, you see, with a great line of talk. I'm not...."

"If you will kindly," said Mrs. Hignett impatiently, "postpone this essay in psycho-analysis to some future occasion, I shall be greatly obliged. I am waiting to hear the name of the girl my son wishes to marry."

"Haven't I told you?" said Mr. Mortimer, surprised. "That's odd. I haven't. It's funny how one doesn't do the things one thinks one does. I'm the sort of man...." 
"What is her name?"

"... the sort of man who...."

"What is her name?"

"Bennett."

"Bennett? Wilhelmina Bennett? The daughter of Mr. Rufus Bennett? The red-haired girl I met at lunch one day at your father's house?"

"That's it. You're a great guesser. I think you ought to stop the thing."

"I intend to."

"Fine!"

"The marriage would be unsuitable in every way. Miss Bennett and my son do not vibrate on the same plane."

"That's right. I've noticed it myself."

"Their auras are not the same colour." 
"If I've thought that once," said Bream Mortimer, "I've thought it a hundred times. I wish I had a dollar for every time I've thought it. Not the same colour. That's the whole thing in a nutshell."

"I am much obliged to you for coming and telling me of this. I shall take immediate steps."

"That's good. But what's the procedure? It's getting late. She'll be waiting at the church at eleven."

"Eustace will not be there."

"You think you can fix it?"

"Eustace will not be there," repeated Mrs. Hignett.

Bream Mortimer hopped down from his chair.

"Well, you've taken a weight off my mind."

"A mind, I should imagine, scarcely constructed to bear great weights."

"I'll be going. Haven't had breakfast yet. Too worried to eat breakfast. Relieved now. This is where three eggs and a rasher of ham get cut off in their prime. I feel I can rely on you." 
"You can!"

"Then I'll say good-bye."

"Good-bye."

"I mean really good-bye. I'm sailing for England on Saturday on the 'Atlantic.'"

"Indeed? My son will be your fellow-traveller."

Bream Mortimer looked somewhat apprehensive.

"You won't tell him that I was the one who spilled the beans?"

"I beg your pardon?"

"You won't wise him up that I threw a spanner into the machinery?"

"I do not understand you."

"You won't tell him that I crabbed his act ... gave the thing away ... gummed the game?"

"I shall not mention your chivalrous intervention." 
"Chivalrous?" said Bream Mortimer a little doubtfully. "I don't know that I'd call it absolutely chivalrous. Of course, all's fair in love and war. Well, I'm glad you're going to keep my share in the business under your hat. It might have been awkward meeting him on board."

"You are not likely to meet Eustace on board. He is a very indifferent sailor and spends most of his time in his cabin."

"That's good! Saves a lot of awkwardness. Well, good-bye."

"Good-bye. When you reach England, remember me to your father."

"He won't have forgotten you," said Bream Mortimer, confidently. He did not see how it was humanly possible for anyone to forget this woman. She was like a celebrated chewing-gum. The taste lingered.

Mrs. Hignett was a woman of instant and decisive action. Even while her late visitor was speaking, schemes had begun to form in her mind like bubbles rising to the surface of a rushing river. By the time the door had closed behind Bream Mortimer she had at her disposal no fewer than seven, all good. It took her but a moment to select the best and simplest. She tiptoed softly to her son's room. Rhythmic snores greeted her listening ears. She opened the door and went noiselessly in.

Film
During the 1920s, two young men returning to England on a transatlantic liner fall in love with two fellow passengers.

Release Date: August 5, 1962(UK)
Release Time: 90 minutes

Cast:
Norman Wisdom - Sam Marlowe
Millicent Martin - Billie Bennett
Richard Briers - Eustace Hignett
Philip Locke - Bream Mortimer
Sheila Hancock - Jane
Athene Seyler - Mrs Hignett
Bernard Cribbins - Peters
Noel Willman - Webster
Reginald Beckwith - Barman
Timothy Bateson - Purser
Peter Bull - Blacksmith
Martin Wyldeck - J.P. Mortimer
William Sherwood - Mr Bennett
Georgina Cookson - Passenger

Author Bio:
Sir Pelham Grenville Wodehouse, KBE, was a comic writer who enjoyed enormous popular success during a career of more than seventy years and continues to be widely read over 40 years after his death. Despite the political and social upheavals that occurred during his life, much of which was spent in France and the United States, Wodehouse's main canvas remained that of prewar English upper-class society, reflecting his birth, education, and youthful writing career.

An acknowledged master of English prose, Wodehouse has been admired both by contemporaries such as Hilaire Belloc, Evelyn Waugh and Rudyard Kipling and by modern writers such as Douglas Adams, Salman Rushdie and Terry Pratchett. Sean O'Casey famously called him "English literature's performing flea", a description that Wodehouse used as the title of a collection of his letters to a friend, Bill Townend.

Best known today for the Jeeves and Blandings Castle novels and short stories, Wodehouse was also a talented playwright and lyricist who was part author and writer of fifteen plays and of 250 lyrics for some thirty musical comedies. He worked with Cole Porter on the musical Anything Goes (1934) and frequently collaborated with Jerome Kern and Guy Bolton. He wrote the lyrics for the hit song "Bill" in Kern's Show Boat (1927), wrote the lyrics for the Gershwin - Romberg musical Rosalie (1928), and collaborated with Rudolf Friml on a musical version of The Three Musketeers (1928).


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Release Blitz & Blogger Review: Merry Gentlemen by Josephine Myles

Title: Merry Gentlemen
Author: Josephine Myles
Genre: M/M Romance
Release Date: November 3, 2017
Cover Design: Harper By Design
Summary:
’Tis the season of goodwill to all men… even the one who dumped you.

Riley MacDermott is going places. Managing the annual Bath Christmas Market—which involves long hours in the cold and a whole lot of hassle—will secure the promotion he needs to afford to move out of his noisy, top-floor flat. Where not even his balcony is safe from an aggressive seagull.

The last stallholder he expects to see is his ex. Riley never recovered from their break up, and five years on the old chemistry still sparkles. Shame they can’t seem to manage a simple chat without arguing.

Stan never wanted to leave the love of his life, but the pull of the woods was too strong—and Riley wouldn’t hear of leaving the city. Reconnecting is painful, but Stan still jumps at the chance to stay with his old flame during the Market. And damn the consequences.

As the weeks pass, the two grow closer than ever. But despite scorching sex and cozy intimacy, they both know they face a cold and lonely future. Unless they can figure out a compromise.

Warning: Contains sex in a shed, a seagull with a grudge, glamping, awful Secret Santa underwear, misuse of an ABBA song, and as many wood-related puns as the author thought she could get away with.

Re-Read Review October 2017:
It may only be the 1st of November but its never too early to read a Christmas romance, or in my case re-read this little gem from Josephine Myles.  Having been immersed in all kinds of paranormal for the past 6 weeks, Merry Gentlemen was a lovely respite and just as entertaining as I remembered.  Riley and Stan just grow on you but that's not to say you don't want to give them a good shaking or two.  Characters just do their own thing sometimes and they rarely listen to the reader so you just have to let the boys work it out at their own pace 😉  So if you're like me and doing a re-read then you'll love it again and if this is a new one for you well as I stated at the beginning, its never too late to let the Christmas spirit into your heart and Merry Gentlemen is the perfect way to do that.

Original Review January 2016:
I featured Merry Gentleman in Part 3 of my Random Tales of Christmastime posts but I only just a got a chance to read it after the holiday.  I've never read Miss Myles before but I will be checking out her backlist this year.  Interesting story of getting what you want only to realize, is it really what you want?, when better than the holidays to have an epiphany about what is really important in life.

RATING: 


You could lose yourself in Stan’s eyes. Well, I could. They reminded me of sun-bleached denim, with a deeper indigo ring around the outside. They were the kind of eyes that spoke of hard work in the great outdoors, and if it hadn’t been for the fact they’d been just the same back when he’d slaved away as a housing officer, I’d believe they really had been lightened by the sun. His hair certainly had. I’d always thought of him as a dirty blond rather than a honey one.

I still thought of him as a dirty blond, although not because of the colour of his hair.

Before my brain could get hijacked by thoughts of just how dirty Stan could be, I recovered my manners and stuck my hand out.

“Stan. Fancy seeing you here. I had no idea. Really.”

Stan stared at my hand like I was offering him a slice of mouldy pizza. I was just about to snatch it back when he grabbed it and held on.

“Ri? You look… You haven’t changed. Not one bit.”

Normally I’d preen a little at a comment like that. Make some allusion to Botox—not that I had any desire to freeze the expression out of my forehead, as how would I cope if I couldn’t do my patented single-eyebrow raise?

But right now, with Stan holding my hand in his rough, calloused—oh my God, he had genuine, honest to goodness callouses!—paw, I found it hard to do anything other than fight down my body’s instinctive response to him. I wanted to hit him and I wanted to lick him all over, and I couldn’t bloody well figure out which urge was winning.

Actually, right now I needed to stop paying any attention to my body and concentrate on keeping my cool. Couldn’t have Stan seeing me ruffled.

“Well, you’ve definitely changed,” I said. “You’ve got that whole rugged, outdoorsy vibe working for you now.” I didn’t need to hide the fact I was checking him out, thank Christ, so I took my time drinking in the sight of him. “Going back to nature really does pay off, doesn’t it? Shit, you never bulked up this well in the gym. And you’re tanned in the winter, but not a streak of orange to be seen. It’s a modern day miracle. Hallelujah.”

“I don’t need to fake it,” Stan growled, tilting his head back to look down at me and making the most of his three-inch height advantage. It was his arrogant-bastard pose, and he bloody well knew I was a sucker for it because I’d once made the mistake of telling him. Never, ever let a toppy git know just how much they turn you on, or you’ll spend your whole bloody life in a state of perpetual turned-on-ness. Was that even a word? It was now.

“What happened to your hair?” I said, reaching out for a lock. “Totally hot, but aren’t you getting a bit old for the whole surfer look? And you’re way too landlocked, down in deepest, darkest Somersetshire.”

“Piss off, Ri,” Stan said, but there was no heat in his words. The heat was all in his eyes, beaming out and frying me like a laser beam. They’d find me later, nothing more than a pair of melted boot soles on the cobbles.

Was that angry heat or turned-on heat? Couldn’t figure it out on him either. I had to face it, we both had ample reason to be pissed off with each other, but five years was a long time to hold a grudge.

“Much as I’d love to get on my way, it’s actually my job to check up on you. See if there’s anything you need any help with. Lend a hand, you know.” Jesus, could I have made that sound any more like a come-on? Clearly my mouth was in cahoots with my dick rather than my brain. I bit the inside of my lower lip, just to show it who was boss.

But Stan just carried on staring at me, while the sun-warmed denim of his eyes frosted over.

“Right. Just your job.” Oh, that guttural Slovakian accent! After the best part of a decade of living in the UK, Stan’s had definitely mellowed compared to when we’d first met, but it was still sexy as hell. “I’ll make sure I let you know if there’s anything you can help me with.” He stepped a little closer then, and tucked both thumbs into the waistband of his combats, hands framing his package like I needed any reminding of what was hidden in there. Well, not so hidden. Whereas I was a grower, Stan was most definitely a show-er, meaning his tackle was almost as big flaccid as it was erect. Not that that was a disappointment. More of a relief, really. If he’d got any bigger when hard, I’d have had to make like a snake and dislocate my jaw before giving him a blowjob.

And I really didn’t need to be remembering blowing Stan right now.

Author Bio:
English through and through, Josephine Myles is addicted to tea and busy cultivating a reputation for eccentricity. She writes gay erotica and romance, but finds the erotica keeps cuddling up to the romance, and the romance keeps corrupting the erotica. Jo blames her rebellious muse but he never listens to her anyway, no matter how much she threatens him with a big stick. She’s beginning to suspect he enjoys it.

Jo’s novel Stuff won the 2014 Rainbow Award for Best Bisexual Romance, and her novella Merry Gentlemen won the 2014 Rainbow Award for Best Gay Romantic Comedy. She loves to be busy, and is currently having fun trying to work out how she is going to fit in her love of writing, dressmaking and attending cabaret shows in fabulous clothing around the demands of a preteen with special needs and an incessantly curious toddler.


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Release Day Blitz: Butterfly by Cambria Hebert

Title: Butterfuly
Author: Cambria Hebert
Series: Public Enemy
Genre: New Adult Romance, College
Release Date: November 3, 2017
Cover Design: Cover Me, Darling
Illustrator (images inside the book): The Illustrated Author

Summary:
Drunken brawls. One-night stands.

No-show interviews. Toilet-papering my hoity-toity neighbor’s house.

Insulting my fans. Trashing hotel rooms.

What’s it take to become public enemy number one?

I just told you.

I’ve done all that and more.

My poor conduct got me on the Celebs Behaving Badly list

and ultimately ruined my career.

From the world’s number-one popstar to world’s most hated.

That’s me. Ten Stark.

Go underground, they said. Stay out of the spotlight.

Most importantly, stay out of trouble.

Everyone loves a good comeback story.

For once, I listened.

I met someone who didn’t know my name,

my face, or the bad behavior that defined me.

She taught me I wasn’t who everyone thought I was—everyone including me.

Then someone whispered my name and things got messy, as they always do.

Now I want her back.

I’m not a caterpillar, but a butterfly.

My wings are in full color, not just black and white.

But first, I have to shed my cocoon and fly.



Prologue
Ten
Five countries. Thirteen cities. Four weeks.

A show in each city, interviews, press… people. Masses of people.

This was my life. A never-ending cycle of shows and appearances and, as of late, an ever-growing list of bad behavior.

I lifted the silver flask up to my lips, then screwed my face into a snarl when my lips and tongue stayed dry. “Why is this empty?” I said to everyone and anyone.

“Because you drank it all?” someone to my left offered.

I gave them a withering look. “You don’t get paid for sarcasm. Fill it.” Thrusting the flask toward the minion, I dismissed him and gazed out the window. My knee bounced rapidly. The nervous energy coiling in my system was never satiated. Not even when my veins had more alcohol in them than blood.

Seconds later, the flask appeared under my nose, and I swiped it up and tipped it back. The familiar burn of vodka slid down my throat. After two long draws, I pulled it back, tucking it into my chest to sigh.

“Where are we again?” I asked as the limo slid to a stop. Even through the heavily tinted windows, the flashbulbs from all the press and fans were blinding. I slid the Versace sunglasses down off my head, over my eyes.

“It’s nighttime,” the person sitting beside me intoned.

I glanced over, not bothering to remove the glasses. “Do you value your job?”

People were banging on the windows, trying to peer in. Their hot breath left clouds on the outside of the glass, and security shouted at everyone to get back.

My assistant shrank. “Well, yes.”

“Then shut up.” I turned away, back to the window and the chaos that reigned beyond it. I took another long swig of the top-shelf vodka.

“We’re in Amsterdam,” my manager said from across the limo.

Beside her, my bodyguard pressed a finger to the black piece in his ear. “All clear,” he told me.

As the door opened, I stuffed the flask into my tailored, leather designer jacket. It wasn’t available to the public yet, not for anyone who wasn’t me.

Screams and shrill cries cut through the night, drowning out all my own thoughts, making me feel numb.

The second my foot stretched out of the ride, the noise level went up about twenty notches. Unfolding from the backseat, I felt the familiar weight of the flask in my pocket.

The second the car door slammed behind me, I threw up my arms and grinned. “What’s up, Amsterdam?”

Everyone went crazy. Women were crying, even some dudes. A plethora of hands and arms reached out over the guardrails, straining to touch me, as everyone screamed my name.

I gave a couple high-fives as flashbulbs burst around me, making my eyes strain.

“C’mon,” my bodyguard said, ushering me toward the entrance.

As we went, I would pause for a couple photos and stop to sign a few posters featuring my face.

“Please, Ten!” Girls were begging, trying to get my attention.

Just before the entrance to the venue, I stopped and went to the rail again, posing to take a selfie with a few fans.

“Oh my God, I love you!” someone screamed.

“You and everybody else,” I muttered.

I moved toward the door, but a dark shape darted out in front of us. I blinked.

A man with a camera and a bag of white shit clutched in his hands jumped in front of us. “You suck!” he spat and lifted the bag, no doubt to bomb me with whatever that shit was.

“Whoa!” My bodyguards pushed me out of the way as the powder disbursed all over the ground instead of all over me, as was intended.

The asshole lunged to the side, managing to get out of the clutches of my guard. He sprang toward me. I didn’t think. I just reacted and threw out my fist, nailing him right in the face.

He went down, falling right in the center of the mess he created. His body writhed as he screamed and yelled. “My nose!” he wailed. “You broke my nose.”

Men ushered me away, stepping in front of the spectacle, and whisked me into the building.

“I’m going to sue you!” the man roared. “I’ll see you in court!”

That was the last thing I heard before the doors cut off the circus.

***

“You shouldn’t have done that.”

I turned around, the flask clutched in my hand, to face the door my manager was filling.

“That asshole had it coming.”

“Probably.” She amended, no give in her voice. “But it doesn’t matter. You know this is going to be yet another PR nightmare. One you can’t afford.”

I drained the contents of the flask and then dropped it on the table beside me. My assistant was nearby, and I motioned for him to fill it up again.

“You’ve had enough.”

“You’re my manager, not my mother.”

“Seems to me you could use some mothering,” she snapped. “You have a show to perform.”

I spread out my arms. “I’m here, aren’t I?”

“You can’t perform if you can’t stand up.”

A stage tech stuck their head in my dressing room. “We need you backstage.”

I moved across the room, swiping the flask out of the minion’s hand to take a lengthy, healthy swig before thrusting it back. Wiping my mouth with the back of my hand, I belched.

“Let’s do this.”

On my way out the door, my manager, Becca, grabbed my wrist. “You know the deal.”

“I know. Say nothing. Even when the fans act like entitled little assholes.”

“Don’t mention what happened outside either.”

I laughed.

“You smell like a fucking brewery,” she said, disgusted.

Snatching my arm back, I strode out and went down the long hallway toward the stage. People parted as I walked, making room for me.

The wail of the crowd could be heard even back here. The act who warmed them up must have done their job. I couldn’t even remember who it was.

I didn’t care.

“Suit up!” someone yelled, and I was gestured toward the back. A few minutes later, I was strapped into some kind of harness with cables, and the crowd began to chant my name.

Anger rose up inside me. Anger at everything and everyone. Energy from the crowd, the music, everything in this entire building pressed in, fighting for room inside my body, pushing out who I was as a person, and dominating.

I was just a guest here. A guest in my own skin.

The air was thick with heat, even the A/C pouring through the large vents was no match for the way it suffocated everything around me. The crush of bodies, the lights, equipment—all created a barrier. The heat would only grow more intense as the show went on.

“You good?” one of the stagehands asked beside me.

I nodded.

“Just like rehearsals.” He reminded me.

I nodded again. I’d done this so much sometimes I dreamed about flying. Some nights it was a nightmare, falling into a dark, bottomless abyss. Just me falling, rapidly plummeting farther into nothing.

Other nights, it wasn’t so scary. It was a tease. I started out here, backstage, hooked up and ready to fly high. Only when my feet finally left the stage, everyone and everything fell away. I flew off, suddenly unbound by a harness and able to go anywhere I pleased. Away from here. Away from it all.

Free.

Music started up. Lights dimmed. People went wild. Adrenaline flooded my veins, and my stomach tilted a little. I blinked back the woozy feeling and shook my head slightly. When I opened my eyes, the world wasn’t tilted like my stomach and my feet were hovering over ground.

My voice filled the arena as it did every concert night. The fans couldn’t see me yet, but my words were everywhere.

“Perfection can be found between the rhythm and the beat.”

The familiar whooshing sound of fog machines pumping out mist filled the stage, and I stared down, watching it fill the space like fog on the set of a horror movie.

I kept going higher and higher above the thousands of people in attendance. Some had glow-sticks, waiving them around. Others had lighters. Some people just screamed.

The crush of bodies made me instantly tired. The anger I felt warred with the exhaustion. All these people claimed to love me… but I knew better.

Maybe some did, sure. But most? They were here to watch me fail. Hoping to see some bad behavior. Hoping I’d give them yet another reason to hate me.

I’d be front page news tomorrow, regardless of how well this concert went tonight. Regardless of how successful this entire tour had been.

I’d be the lead headline because I decked a “fan.” Never mind he was trying to fucking flour-bomb me, then attack me when that was thwarted.

Fuckers.

All of them.

Up here above it all, I got some sudden clarity. Like I was finally blissfully alone in a crowded arena.

The familiar beat of a song written just for me obliterated all other sounds. Below me, the crowd roared and bounced around, looking like a giant mosh pit.

A spotlight clicked on, illuminating me.

I went through the motions, the carefully choreographed movements.

“Who’s ready for the best night of your life?” I asked the crowd, and the harness swung me down closer.

Everyone seemed ready.

Everyone but me.

Maybe it was the vodka.

Maybe I was bat-shit crazy.

Maybe I just didn’t fucking care anymore.

Or…

Maybe it was the catalyst that saved my life.

Right there as I soared overhead all the adoring fans, something snapped inside me.

Since I was basically tied up, flying high, my options for getting away, for getting the hell out of there, were limited.

I did the first thing that popped into my mind.

Nimbly, my fingers reached for the zipper on my jeans. As the crew swung me toward the stage, I opened up. I released all the vodka that had been filling up my bladder and making me uncomfortable as hell.

I let it rain.

People started shrieking.

I heard my manager screaming in my earpiece. I ripped it out and threw it into the crowd.

“He’s pissing all over us!” someone shouted.

Complete chaos reigned.

I finished up and gave it a little shake. My feet hit the stage. The cords holding me snapped free. My band, everyone on stage with me, was gaping in shock.

I tucked myself back into my jeans, feeling much lighter than before. Everyone was still losing their minds. I held up my hands, and the place went silent.

Tomb silent.

I could have heard a freaking pin drop. Instead, I actually heard my own thoughts.

What the fuck are you doing? You just pissed on your fans. Literal piss.

Everyone waited for me to say something. Apologize. Claim I was sick.

Rotating my hands so my palms faced the crowd, I gave them the finger.

With both hands.

Now you know. The culmination of events.

How I became Public Enemy Number One.

Author Bio:
Cambria Hebert is an award winning, bestselling novelist of more than twenty books. She went to college for a bachelor’s degree, couldn’t pick a major, and ended up with a degree in cosmetology. So rest assured her characters will always have good hair.

Besides writing, Cambria loves a caramel latte, staying up late, sleeping in, and watching movies. She considers math human torture and has an irrational fear of chickens (yes, chickens). You can often find her running on the treadmill (she’d rather be eating a donut), painting her toenails (because she bites her fingernails), or walking her chorkie (the real boss of the house).

Cambria has written within the young adult and new adult genres, penning many paranormal and contemporary titles. Her favorite genre to read and write is romantic suspense. A few of her most recognized titles are: The Hashtag Series, Text, Torch, and Tattoo.

Cambria Hebert owns and operates Cambria Hebert Books, LLC.


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