Blog Tour, Excerpt & Giveaway:
By Vawn Cassidy
London Underside, Book 1
For Lord Everett Stanley, escaping his fate seemed impossible. As the second son, he’s destined for ordination and the life of a priest, but he’s hiding a dangerous secret. The laws punishing homosexuality by hanging may have been repealed but he and others of his kind are far from safe. Given no other choice, they take solace in the underground molly houses of London. Now that fragile world is threatened when the East End is rocked by a series of gruesome murders.
Inspector Archibald Franklin worked hard to overcome his working-class roots, making a name for himself as a respected inspector of Whitechapel’s H Division, but when he begins to investigate the deaths of several beautiful young men, fate throws him into the path of the handsome and enigmatic Lord Stanley. His gut instinct tells him the young lord knows more about the murders than he lets on, but the closer he gets, the more Everett calls to him in a way he’s tried to deny his whole life.
As a reign of terror grips London, they are drawn together in order to stop a monster, but for Archie, the growing feelings he has for Everett are a betrayal of the very laws he has sworn to uphold. And as the killer closes in, the two men find themselves bound together by a passion that may be their ultimate salvation or their utter destruction…
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The streets were still dark as Charlie left the house in Islington. The first pale strains of pre-dawn would soon illuminate the grimy streets with an eerie glow, but for the moment there was a peaceful stillness, almost as if the world were holding its breath.
His arse ached pleasantly with every step, and his well-used cock was sore against the rough material of his trousers. The hour was late by the time the Colonel had finished with him. Not that Charlie was complaining, he always enjoyed his time with the vigorous older man. The colonel was a rough but generous lover.
In fact, he’d enjoyed himself so thoroughly he’d missed the last tram back and there was no chance of him reaching his lodgings before they locked the doors. With no alternative available, he’d spent a few hours kipping on a chaise in the parlour, knowing that his lordship wouldn’t mind. It was why Lord Francis had purchased the house in Islington, so boys like him would have a safe place to indulge without risking trawling through Hyde Park. They weren’t prostitutes by any means, most of the young men such as himself were gainfully employed elsewhere.
His Lordship gave them a place to indulge their needs and no money ever changed hands, unlike some of the other Molly houses in London. The house in Islington was one of the safer places he knew of, with entry by invitation only. It minimised the risk, but they still had to be careful. The magistrates may have stopped hanging his kind but it didn’t mean he wouldn’t serve hard time if he was caught by the peelers.
He pulled his collar tight. The damp chill of the early hours seemed to sink right into his bones, causing him to shudder. Hurrying down the narrow misty street, he felt another shiver skitter down his spine on sly, spindly fingers– only this time, it wasn’t from the cold.
He stopped and turned back to look, certain someone was following him. His eyes narrowed but all he could see was the foggy, dim street behind him. With a small frown, he turned and hurried on; he didn’t have the time to dawdle as he had a fair distance to cover before dawn. The trams wouldn’t be running this early and his employer would not take kindly to his late arrival.
Focusing on the uneven cobbles beneath his feet, he turned down a darkened alley. There was more than a bite to the air, which probably meant snow before long. His fingers were already stiffening as he clutched the collar of his coat to ward off the cold.
He reached the end of the alley and turned, drawing up short when he found an abandoned hand-drawn cart. Frowning, Charlie glanced around, unable to see anyone as another bank of low-lying fog rolled across the road. Approaching the cart cautiously, he peered into the back and, to his confusion, saw a fair-sized crate, open and lined with hay, the lid propped against its side. Beside it was a small hammer and a pile of iron nails.
Deciding it was none of his business, he turned sharply and found himself colliding with a heavy chest. Charlie stumbled back a pace, his gaze skimming the man he’d collided with. He was a giant, standing almost two heads taller than Charlie, with shoulders so wide, Charlie doubted he’d be able to fit through a doorway without turning sideways. His hands were huge, his fingers thick and his knuckles dusted with wiry black hair.
Charlie’s gaze was drawn slowly upwards, past the man’s worn woollen coat to his thick neck, a jaw covered with a coarse, dark stubble, and lips set in a thin line. The rest of his face was cast into shadow by the brim of his shabby bowler hat.
“Pardon me, sir,” Charlie muttered as he attempted to step around the huge fellow.
The stranger simply stepped with him and continued to block his path. A small flutter of panic beat against Charlie’s ribs as he sucked in a breath and attempted to step to the opposite side, but once again the silent and unnerving giant moved into his path.
“Sir.” Charlie squared his narrow shoulders, holding his spine ramrod straight so as not to betray his unease. “Please stand aside.”
The man did not move, nor did he speak. Charlie felt cold fear trickle down his spine, as if he’d been doused by icy shards of winter rain.
“Shall I call out for the constable? I passed one not one street back and he was heading in this direction,” he lied, trying to present a confidence and authority he did not have.
For a second, they stood together, locked in silence. Then, just when Charlie was contemplating making a run for it, the giant stepped aside. Swallowing, he gave the man a curt nod and moved past. He barely got two steps away when he felt one of those huge arms wrap around him, pinning his arms to his sides. He struggled and cried out as a cloth was pressed over his mouth, muffling his frantic yell for help. A cloying scent filled his nose and mouth. The world around him began to spin and the cobbles tilted beneath his feet. His eyes rolled back in his head and his body went limp as everything turned black.
He didn’t feel a thing as he was picked up like a rag doll, nor did he stir when his slight frame was tucked into the crate. He didn’t register the lid lowering nor the ominous knocking as the nails sealed it shut.
In fact, there was no one, as the first pale rays of dawn began to break through the fog, to notice the enormous brute of a man slinging the leather strap over his wide shoulders and picking up the handles to drag the small cart behind him down the empty street in silence.
Enter the Giveaway:
To celebrate the release of Molly Boys, Vawn is giving away a Signed Paperback and swag pack!
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About the Author:
Vawn Cassidy is the MM pen name of British author Wendy Saunders, as Vawn she writes contemporary and paranormal MM romance. She has a deep love of history and the supernatural. Inspired by the Victorian era and classic gothic literature, it has been a real labor of love for her to create an LGBTQ+ gothic romance series.
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