I’m delighted to be at the Purple Rose Tea House today. Purple is absolutely my favourite colour (as you’d see if you looked in my wardrobe), so I feel very much at home here.
I’m sure the first thing a lot of you thought when you saw the cover for my new novel Burning Ashes was, ‘Why is this gorgeous guy wearing a slightly odd American football helmet and carrying a piece of wood over his shoulder?’ It’s a reasonable question, and the answer is that Burning Ashes is all about cricket—and true love, of course!
Now I guess most of you know as much about cricket as I do about baseball (nothing whatsoever, I’m afraid), but for the purposes of reading my novel, there are only two things you need to know:
- Cricket is hugely popular and one of the biggest rivalries in the sport is between England and Australia, when they play in the ‘Ashes’ series.
- There is nothing sexier than a man in cricket whites!
Cricket whites are very traditional—a pair of full-length white trousers and a simple white shirt—and they can transform any man into a suave sportsman. But when those whites are worn by a supremely fit professional athlete, it really is a fabulous sight. Of course I love the game too—sometimes it’s a frantic whirl of runs and wickets, and sometimes an intriguing battle of wits—and I’d happily sit and watch it all day (English weather permitting!). But the wonderfully attractive stars of the modern game are a real added bonus. (Just take a look at the current England squad – you’ll see what I mean!)
So with that enticing picture in mind, let me introduce you to Nat and Scott, the main characters in Burning Ashes. Nat Seddon is part of the Australian team touring England, and as you’d expect from a fast bowler, he’s tall, strong and confident, and full of controlled aggression. He’s openly gay, but hates any media invasion of his privacy, and he doesn’t do relationships. He has friends with whom he has a very active sex life, but it doesn’t go any further than that. All in all, Nat is perfectly happy with his life…
…until he meets Scott Alverley, England’s newest batsman. Scott is young, talented and handsome, but he’s also utterly endearing. When Scott plucks up the courage to ask Nat back to his apartment, Nat is wary of having a one-night stand with a fellow player. What he doesn’t expect is for Scott to come out to him—Scott has never even kissed another man. In fact, they are both in virgin territory. Nat isn’t used to giving advice, but he finds himself talking and listening to Scott. Then as Nat is about to leave, they kiss. Nat has known ‘all kinds of kisses all over his body: sweet ones, rough ones and downright dirty ones’, but this is a kiss that will turn his life upside down forever.
Nat and Scott are completely different characters, but they are both adorable in their own ways. Nat tries to be sensible in the face of emotional chaos and is wonderfully protective of Scott, while Scott comes up with impulsive ideas which never quite turn out as he planned. Through it all, the only constant in their topsy-turvy world is their love for each other. No matter how much time they spend apart, they’re determined to be together.
I hope you’ll love Nat and Scott as much as I do—and you never know, you might fall a little bit in love with cricket, too.
Intelligent and confident, Australian cricketer Nat Seddon is one of the world’s best bowlers. He’s openly gay, but keeps his private life to himself, with everything under control. But on the last day of his team’s Ashes tour of England, he meets Scott Alverley, England’s promising new batsman. Nat tries not to be attracted to Scott, but he can’t help finding the privileged young man handsome and endearing. Nat is tempted by a little end of tour fun, but finds himself playing agony uncle to a virgin. Instead of going home to bask on a beach, he spends a wet week in the north of England with Scott. Try as he might to resist, he can’t help falling hopelessly in love.
The hectic sporting calendar is a persistent obstacle to their growing romance; Nat and Scott are rarely even on the same continent. They make the most of the time when they can be together, but the months apart take a toll on Scott, professionally and personally. The possible solutions are nearly unthinkable, but if they are willing to make sacrifices that will change their lives forever, they might hold on to the love they found in the Ashes.
H. Lewis-Foster has worked with books, in one form or another, since leaving university. As a keen reader of gay fiction, she decided to try writing herself, and is now the proud author of several short stories and a debut novel.
H. has lived in various parts of the UK and has recently moved to the north of England, where she’s enjoying city life, especially the theatres and cinemas. She tries not to watch too much television, but is a big fan of Downton Abbey, and while she’s writing, she loves listening to Test Match Special (where they spend far more time talking about cakes than cricket!)