|A Valet's Duty|
H Lewis-Foster, welcome to Romance Lives Forever. Let's talk about your book, A Valet's Duty.
Genre: Gay historical
Publisher: Silver Publishing
Cover artist: Reese Dante
Length: 34 pages
Heat rating: Sensual
Tagline: Sexual favors and emotional ties cross the class divide in Edwardian England.
Blurb: At the turn of the twentieth century, Henry Simpkins is a valet at Taverslow, the Earl of Wayshaw's
Somerset home. When the Earl's younger brother,
Rafe, arrives from his villa in Italy,
Henry is given the task of caring for his mischievous dogs, Pepe and Paolo. As part
of his valet's duties, he also goes to Rafe's room each night to tidy away his clothes.
One night, Rafe tentatively asks Henry to go beyond his valet's duty to relieve Rafe's sexual tensions. Henry enjoys their increasingly intimate encounters, but he's soon disturbed to find he feels more for Rafe than mere physical attraction. Henry faces a difficult decision, as he knows he cannot remain in the same house as Rafe if his affections are not returned.
Silver Publishing https://spsilverpublishing.com/
What are your main characters' names, ages, and occupations?
Henry Simpkins is 29 and is valet to the Earl of Wayshaw.
The earl's younger brother, Rafe, is a 28-year-old gentleman.
"You are joking, aren't you? I'm a valet, not a stable lad."
Henry Simpkins had only been at Taverslow a couple of months, and he wondered if he'd made a mistake by moving out to the country.
"You are to serve as valet to his lordship's brother and Mr Rafe is very fond of his dogs."
Henry noticed Fenton the butler's faint smirk.
"Think yourself lucky he's only brought two. There were four of them last time he was here."
Henry would be valet to as many gentlemen as his job required, but waiting on their pets was a step too far. Henry hated dogs. He'd been bitten by one when he was a
lad and hadn't forgotten the painful experience. The culprit had been the pampered Pekingese of his uncle's aristocratic employer and Henry had avoided canine company
Henry followed Fenton through the house, its walls festooned with paintings and gilt-framed mirrors. He recalled his previous place of employment, which couldn't have been more different. Wareham Mews had been the
abode of the Berringtons, whose family wealth had been acquired in the publishing
industry. They were pleasant enough and terribly modern—they'd installed electricity
in every room—but Henry didn't share their taste in interior design. They'd taken
a liking for a Mr Mackintosh from Glasgow,
and while his finely carved chairs were undoubtedly stylish, they looked bloody
Even so, Henry couldn't deny he'd had some fun at Wareham Mews. The Berringtons threw fabulous parties, where women dared to bare their ankles and sometimes a
lot more, as they danced to the latest American music. They even hired a ragtime band one night. When Henry had finally been dismissed, he found some entertainment of his
own with the valet of one of the visiting guests. He'd thanked heaven for the relatively smallstaff of a
London residence, as it meant
he had a room of his own tucked away in a tiny roof turret. As the music continued
several floors below—the party lasted into the early hours—Henry took full advantage.
The bed springs had squeaked like they were about to give way and his companion
cried out in such ecstasy when he came, Henry was afraid there would soon be a knock
on the door to find out what was he was up to.
It had been one hell of a night, but shortly after Henry heard the Earl of Wayshaw required a new valet for his
Somerset home. Henry loved
living in London
with all its madness and bustle, and his friends working in houses only a stone's
throw away, but Henry was rapidly approaching the age of thirty. He needed to move
to a larger, more established house if he wanted to advance his career.
And so Henry found himself standing in Taverslow's drawing room, with its ornate ceiling and sumptuous crimson furniture. Noticing a low rumbling sound, he looked around to trace its source. Two pairs of glimmering brown eyes stared up at him.
"These are your wards, Mr Simpkins." There was no doubting the smirk on Fenton's face this time. "Pepe and Paolo."
"Pepe and Paolo?" Henry tried, in vain, not to laugh. "But they're Yorkshire Terriers."
"That they may be, but Mr Rafe spends a lot of time in
hence the rather exotic names." Fenton dropped two leather dog leads into Henry's
hand. "Just walk them,
feed them, and don't let them run off, and everyone will be happy."
What do you enjoy most about writing?
Unlike some writers, I really enjoy sitting in front of a blank screen and putting down my initial ideas. I like getting to know the characters and working out where the story is going. While I have a rough idea of plot when I start writing, sometimes a character or a crucial piece of action will completely change, and it's very satisfying to complete that first draft. I must admit, I also enjoy going back over my work, improving it line by line. For that reason, I'll never be the quickest of writers, but I like to make my stories the best they can possibly be.
If you could give the younger version of yourself advice what would it be?
Start writing sooner! While I always had ideas for stories, I never had the confidence to write them down. It took quite a few years for me to put pen to paper, then to finally send my work to a publisher. I'm just so happy I got around to it eventually.
What is your work ethic when it comes to writing?
I try to spend my mornings writing, before I go to my 'ordinary' job. However, as I've had so many stories published over the last few months, this time has more often been spent checking edits, corresponding with publishers or doing promotional work. I do enjoy that part of the writing process, but I'm really looking forward to doing some actual writing again.
Do things your family or friends do ever end up in a book?
Not consciously, but I suppose the odd phrase or incident might end up in a book without me realizing. I genuinely don't base my characters on people I know, or even famous people. I think you have much more freedom as a writer if your characters come totally from your imagination. Fortunately I have a very vivid imagination!
What are some jobs you've done before (or while) you were a writer?
I've worked in libraries and archives for a while now, mostly in universities. It's amazing how much libraries have changed in only a few years. They are no longer the silent, dour places they often were, but are more relaxed and welcoming. I'm lucky enough to be able to work part-time, and to spend the rest of my time writing, which is an ideal combination.
Which of your books would you recommend to someone who doesn't normally read your genre, and why?
I would probably recommend an early story of mine, Counting Parakeets, which is about a doctor, a performance artiste and a pet parakeet named Ollie—an interesting combination, I'm sure you'll agree! While there's plenty of simmering sexual attraction between the two main characters, Counting Parakeets is a sweet and funny story which I think anyone would enjoy, whatever their usual reading tastes.
What is your favorite holiday and why?
I know most people like going to the coast or the country on holiday, but there's nothing I like more than a city break. I had a gorgeous holiday in
Paris a little
while ago—it is an amazing city. The architecture is stunning and the food is wonderful,
of course. I love taking a vacation in London
too, as I adore going to the theatre. There's such an array of plays and musicals
to see, it's my perfect place to visit.
What good book have you read recently?
I've recently discovered the novels of Mary Renault. She was an English author who started writing gay romances in the 1950s. Most of them are set in Ancient Greece, which means they haven't dated as some books do. They aren't as graphic as some modern gay fiction, but they perfectly combine historical detail and tender love stories. One of her earlier works The Charioteer is a love story about three men during World War II, written only a few years after the end of the war. Considering the social and legal situation at the time, it was an incredibly brave thing to do.
What do you like to do when you're bored?
I honestly can't remember the last time I was bored. Within a matter of months, I've had my debut novel Burning Ashes and three shorter stories published, as well as moving to a
new city and a new job. If
I do get a spare moment, I like watching a good film. I have very eclectic tastes,
but my favorite film of recent years would have to be Weekend, a British film about two young men who spend an intensely romantic
weekend together. There are no special effects or big stars, but it's beautifully
written and acted.
Please underline which statement is more like you:
"I am a vacation spa because I am laid back and relaxed."
"I am a ten-countries in ten-days tour vacation, because I do things as fast as possible."
Please complete the sentences
I love pizza with goat's cheese.
I'm always ready for chocolate cake.
When I'm alone, I like listening to music – especially Rufus Wainwright.
You'd never be able to tell, but my first pet was a goldfish called Fred.
If I had a halo it would be glowing all the colors of the rainbow.
If I could cook like Jamie Oliver I'd open a fabulous restaurant.
I can never stop writing because I've got too many stories I want to tell.
Burning Ashes (Dreamspinner Press)
Northern Relations (Amber Allure)
To Protect the Heir (JMS Books)
Ballet Nights (JMS Books)
Betting on Snow (Dreamspinner Press)
Counting Parakeets (JMS Books)
Secret of the Code (JMS Books)
Balancing the Books (JMS Books)
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