Prism Book Alliance® would like to thank Heidi Cullinan for taking the time to talk with us today about their retro title from Samhain A Private Gentelman. Prism Book Alliance® recently reviewed A Private Gentelman. You can find the review here.
Retro Reads Spotlight with Heidi Cullinan
We are here today to talk about A Private Gentleman. What can you tell us about this book?
A Private Gentleman is an early Victorian romance between Michael Vallant, a “gentleman of the evening” and Lord George Albert Westin, a marquess’s second son. Lord Westin is painfully shy and has a debilitating stammer, but loves orchids and so drugs himself with laudanum enough to attend a lower society ball, where he meets Michael. Michael is attracted to him, until he finds out who Lord Westin is, or more to the point who his father is: a man who gravely abused Michael in the past.
Tell us more about our main characters.
Lord Westin, “Wes” to his family and “Albert” to Michael, is a kind but shy man who has retreated from society and focuses on his love of plants instead, particularly orchids. His stammer renders him an outcast in society, which is to say nothing of what would happen if his homosexuality were discovered. His father is cruel to him, by turns heaping disdain on him and using him like a pawn for his own ends. He’s drawn to Michael because of his vibrancy and forthrightness, and as they get to know each other, his love of reading.
Michael grew up in a lower middle class environment, until his mother, a higher-class prostitute, sold him to a client because she was having trouble finding ones of her own. Michael escaped and made a friend and protector, and eventually turned to prostitution on his own terms. He reads in his spare time, unable to get enough books into his life. He finds Wes attractive, but when he discovers Wes’s father is the man Michael’s mother sold him to, his old trauma comes back with a vengeance and he finds himself unable to work. He asks to meet again with Wes, hoping perhaps exposure to the son will cure him of the father, but everything gets complicated when they both fall in love.
What makes this book so special to you as its creator?
This book was my way of addressing my own recovery from sexual abuse and some trauma from my past that kept haunting my daily life. I’d long ago dealt with it in therapy, but in talking with a friend and with a few issues in my life at the time, I found I wanted to address it more directly. For those who have read it (or might), writing the scene with Michael at Bodelain where he looks at his reflection was better healing for me than years of therapy.
This is your only Historical M/M title to date. Any plans for more?
I keep meaning to, but I’ve developed this nasty habit of starting too many series and being unwilling to say no to ending the ones I have. Gay historicals are tricky for me, because I want a happy ending with minimal shadows, but to achieve that I have to work around all kinds of societal conventions and overlook hard truths, such as the house where Michael worked would have unquestionably been raided and shut down.
That said, I do have a steampunk/alternate history novel coming out in February, Clockwork Heart.
If you could change one thing in A Private Gentleman what would it be and why?
Oh, I never turn away a chance to go over my work and clean away old habits, but most readers don’t notice those changes.
How will the world end?
In a spray of glitter.
If you could give one piece of advice to new writers, what would it be?
Read everything. And take your time to learn your craft. Slow and steady really does win this race.
Tell us about some of your other titles.
There are a lot. I’ve written across almost every subgenre of romance, have highly erotic and almost sweet, have new adult and older romances and some that have May-December heroes. You can find out more about all my works here: http://www.heidicullinan.com/books-by-genre, where you can filter by genre or series, but you can also use this guide to help you narrow your choices: http://www.heidicullinan.com/Getting-Started
Rapid Fire Time
Jazz or Pop? Depends on the day, but usually pop.
DC or Marvel? Marvel
Swift or Perry? Neither
Boxers or Briefs? Briefs are hotter, but I don’t ever tell men what to wear.
Go Fish or Old Maid? God, I can’t stand either
Apple or Android? Apple
Trees or Flowers? Both
Lucky Charms or Trix? Lucky Charms
Red or White? Red
Long or Short? Long
What are you working on? What is next?
Right now I’m working on about ten things at once, though a new standalone (please, God, be a standalone) new adult novel looks like it might be collecting my attention for the moment. I will though be continuing the Love Lessons and Roosevelt series in 2016.
What’s out next is Winter Wonderland and Clockwork Heart. Winter Wonderland is the final book in the Minnesota Christmas series, about three gay bears who live in a small town in northern Minnesota, and Clockwork Heart is about a French tinker and his enemy soldier lover whom he saves from death by giving him a clockwork heart, which turns out to be the secret weapon both armies are seeking.
Title: A Private Gentelman
Author: Heidi Cullinan
Cover Artist: Angela Waters
Genre: Gay, Historical, Romance
To seal their bond, they must break the ties that bind.
Painfully introverted and rendered nearly mute by a heavy stammer, Lord George Albert Westin rarely ventures any farther than the club or his beloved gardens. When he hears rumors of an exotic new orchid sighted at a local hobbyist’s house, though, he girds himself with opiates and determination to attend a house party, hoping to sneak a peek. He finds the orchid, yes…but he finds something else even more rare and exquisite: Michael Vallant. Professional sodomite.
Michael climbed out of an adolescent hell as a courtesan’s bastard to become successful and independent-minded, seeing men on his own terms, protected by a powerful friend. He is master of his own world—until Wes. Not only because, for once, the sex is for pleasure and not for profit. They are joined by tendrils of a shameful, unspoken history. The closer his shy, poppy-addicted lover lures him to the light of love, the harder his past works to drag him back into the dark. There’s only one way out of this tangle. Help Wes face the fears that cripple him—right after Michael finds the courage to reveal the devastating truth that binds them.
About the Author
Heidi Cullinan has always enjoyed a good love story, provided it has a happy ending. Proud to be from the first Midwestern state with full marriage equality, Heidi writes positive-outcome romances for LGBT characters struggling against insurmountable odds because she believes there’s no such thing as too much happy ever after. Find out more about Heidi at heidicullinan.com.
An ebook copy of the novel to a random winner chosen by the blogger
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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