Welcome to our third week of celebrations for the amazing
In today's post, we'll look at two books set in the Shatterproof Bond universe, plus a personal story Isobel has chosen to share. There's also another chance to win one of her books!
First up, Top Hat, a prequel to Shatterproof Bond
Child protégé Sam Aiken is the youngest student studying Linguistics at Oxford University. Frustratingly, being so young means Sam doesn’t get to enjoy student life in the same way the older students do.
He is obsessed with his studies and close to graduation, but when Sam’s elderly Master, Professor Alfred Moxley dies suddenly, Sam finds the replacement professor brought in to get him and his classmates through their last few months of study, to be more than a little distracting. Dr. Alexander Deveraux becomes Sam's new obsession, and he wants to learn more from the young, brilliant, queer professor than just Linguistics!
Also available as an audiobook, narrated by Gary Furlong.
EIGHT YEARS AGO…
When Associate Professor, Dr. Alexander Deveraux strode into the Ramsay Lecture Theatre at the University of Oxford, the air was sucked out of Samuel Aiken’s lungs, and he struggled to catch a breath.
Alexander Deveraux moved with effortless grace. Black silky hair fell past his shoulders and framed a long, angular face that displayed more than a hint of androgyny, what with razor sharp cheekbones and well-shaped brows. His sapphire blue eyes were deep set, feline and shrewd, his nose was aquiline, and his lips were thin and held in a studious straight line.
Dr. Deveraux was not attired like any Professor Sam had ever seen. His military style coat clung to his tall, thin frame like a glove and made him look more like one of the students than a member of staff.
Occasionally the Joker, sixteen-and-a-half-year-old Sam Aiken had a fascination with finding ways to make miserable looking people smile. This mischievous streak appeared to have gotten him into trouble because Sam knew the moment he saw Dr. Deveraux’s blue-eyed gaze, that he was well and truly screwed. Sam recognized the man. To his horror, this man was the cute passenger who’d sat in the opposite seat to Sam on the London Paddington to Oxford train that very morning. Sam had been shamelessly eyeing him up for the whole journey, trying to make his beautiful thin mouth break into a grin. The traveler stayed silent and introverted for the whole journey, listening to music on his iPod, and he never cracked a smile, not even once. And so, on arrival in Oxford, Sam exited the train feeling unimpressed and defeated.
Thinking about that morning’s journey made Sam’s blush. He wished he could hide his face in his hands, but no. That would not help. There was no escape from this embarrassing situation. He was overwhelmed at seeing the man from the train again—a man he’d found so intensely mysterious and captivating. Sam’s pulse raced uncontrollably, and all rational thought escaped him. It was going to be a long first day back!
The Oxford University terms were split into Michaelmas, from October to December, Hilary, from January to March, and Trinity, from the end of April to Mid-June. Sam had returned to his studies after the Christmas break for his final Hilary term to discover his tutor, Professor Alfred Moxley, had passed away over the holidays. Sam was unaware of the circumstances of his death. Professor Moxley had been a well-spoken, rotund, bookish Irishman in his late sixties, and it was to have been his last year in academia before retirement. Sam had been fond of the old man ever since they’d first met over three years ago. It had been difficult for Sam to adjust to University life at the tender age of fourteen. He’d lost his mother to Cancer, and in the intervening years, his sister Annabelle was to be his only source of any kind of maternal affection and guidance. Professor Alfred Moxley behaved like a father figure during Sam’s years at Oxford—more than his own father had ever done, and so his sudden death cut Sam deeply.
The group of students sitting in the Ramsay Lecture Theater was just six months away from graduation, and all of them were majoring in Linguistics. Sam was also studying Arabic as his second subject. The majority of Sam’s classmates were in their early twenties. He was by far the youngest student on their course, and, in fact, the youngest student attending Oxford University. It had been at the University’s discretion as to whether they accepted young protégés as students, but Sam’s father, Sir James Aiken’s healthy financial donations paved the way for his only son to secure a place at the prestigious University College.
Sam loved finding out how the world worked, and even as a child he always had his head in a book. His thirst for information gave the impression that he had the attention span of a pigeon, but that wasn’t right. Sam was just very curious and observant—especially when it came to handsome men.
Alexander Deveraux was fascinatingly different. Sam was intrigued and sure as hell that he had never been so deeply attracted to another man before. Not that there had been many ‘other men’! And so, as he struggled to breathe and gather his thoughts, Sam watched Dr. Deveraux place his messenger bag on the worn oak lecture table, send a glare to the handful of students scattered around the large hall, and unbutton his black military coat. A lump grew in Sam’s throat as the buttons were slowly undone one—by—one, revealing a smart pale shirt, tie and vest ensemble. And then a lump grew in Sam’s jeans when Dr. Deveraux’s eyes fell upon him, pinned him, and stayed there.
©Isobel Starling 2018
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Secondly today, Silken
Matthew Fisher loved being a dancer, but his ten-year ballet career came to an abrupt end with a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. He had to find a new job, and luckily, his sister was friends with Annabelle Ramsay-Aiken, only daughter of property magnate Sir James Aiken. She arranged an interview, he was accepted, and six months on the job training saw Matthew stepping out as a real estate agent for Aiken Luxury Lettings. Now, instead of stretching at the barre, Matthew spends his days inspecting the vacant London homes of their rich and famous clients.
Losing his dance career had left a huge hole in Matthew’s heart, and to fill it Matthew began a Tumblr blog dedicated to his fetish for wearing lingerie. He wanted to give his followers the impression he lived a charmed life, so decided to use A.L.L properties as locations for erotic photo shoots.
One of his online followers pressed all of Matthew's buttons, and a long distance, online Dom/sub relationship develops between them. But when the relationship suddenly moves from online fantasy to real life... can Matthew really submit?
Matthew had never met the tenants, Mr. Martinez, or his wife, but a silver framed photograph stood beside the bed on a nightstand. He picked the frame up and stared at a sun-kissed smiley image of a couple, the man standing behind the woman, his arms wrapped tightly around her slim waist. Matthew’s brows rose in admiration; Jack Martinez was a silver fox. He appeared to be in his late forties and had white, gray close-cropped hair and silver stubble clinging to the jaw of a disarmingly handsome face. His skin had a golden tan, and his eyes were azure blue. A wide wolfish grin spread across Matthew’s face and his brows arched salaciously.
“Well, well, Mrs. M, your husband is quite a catch”, he said out loud. He stared at the gorgeous, perfect couple for a moment and wondered if the image was of generic models that came with the frame or if this delicious specimen of manhood, Jack Martinez was real. He must be real; after all, they’d spoken once on the phone the week before when Martinez gave Matthew instructions on what needed to be done at the apartment when he departed.
Matthew wore a wicked smirk as he recalled the man’s whiskey worn American timbre. It was the kind of voice that made his balls ache with lust. God, he really did need to get laid, but that would not be happening anytime soon. Matthew’s Dom had forbidden it. That was one of the ground rules of their online D/s relationship. Neither would take other lovers, and Matthew had given control of his orgasms to his Dom. He would not come unless Austin82 permitted it, and then the man wanted to see the evidence. Luckily, the message Matthew had received on entering the apartment had been from his Dom, giving him permission to come that day so he would be getting some relief. The voice and photograph of Jack Martinez meshed together in his mind, making one hell of an alluring image. Matthew placed the frame back onto the nightstand. He knew he would put that image to good use later.
Matthew turned to study the bedroom, which had a classy, oriental infused interior design with accents of cream, black, and silver. He enjoyed fantasizing about the lives of his clients. On opening the doors of the slide-robes, he saw a small selection of garments. The lack of clothing was not unusual as this was not a permanent residence by any means. There were business and casual clothes for him and stylish feminine clothing for her. Veronica Martinez was slim, her choices were expensive and timelessly classy, as were Jack’s, just as Matthew had expected for the couple in the photograph.
A seamless pane of floor to ceiling, heat reflective glass acted as the outer wall of the room, displaying stunning bird's eye views of the British capital. A king–sized bed overloaded with a scatter of designer cushions atop a black silk coverlet dominated the space. To Matthew’s right, a door led to the en-suite, and then, to the left, his eyes fell on the large ebony, lacquer work, chinoiserie style dresser that sat opposite the bed. He ran his finger along the top to check that the cleaner had at least dusted and then placed his phone on the surface. Matthew had chosen to inspect this particular apartment because it was the only one on his list that day where the clients were a couple. He hoped he was not wrong about Veronica Martinez. With a mischievous glint in his eye and a sudden flush of covert guilt, Matthew gave a testing tug on the shiny brass ring handles of the top drawer. It silently slid open. He peeped inside, and his breath caught as he exclaimed a drawn out “Ohhh.” Matthew’s heart swelled. He saw, to his delight, a drawer filled with neatly arranged lingerie.
“All that silk, satin and lace.” He murmured dreamily to himself. Matthew licked his lips, and his pupils dilated with the excitement of seeing such a wonderful collection of feminine underwear. His fingers brushed over the lingerie. It was all purchased from the most expensive designer labels, Fox and Rose, Agent Provocateur, Bourdelle, and Myla. Matthew was at once head-over-heels in love with what he saw. The silk and Chantilly lace garments were red, black, dusky pink, emerald green, purple, and turquoise—all of his favorite colors. It was like they had been chosen just for him, and not for Veronica Martinez. He picked up a pair of red lacy French knickers and let the fabric fall through his fingers. He moaned out loud, and his dick throbbed. His fingers smoothed over the floral lace design and as he stretched it over the back of his hand, he marveled at the beauty of it. Matthew bought the garment to his cheek and rubbed the knickers against his clean-shaven skin. It was so sensual. The feeling of the soft fabric against his flesh made his suit trousers suddenly feel… restrictive.
Matthew’s interest in lingerie began when he was training in Russia. He’d loved wearing tights since he was a child, and from the moment he started training in classical ballet he was drawn to being around the girls, with all the froufrou, netting, ribbons, and figure-hugging Lycra. His girlfriends would let him sneak into their dressing room to chat. They had no idea that he had an alternative agenda for being there—which was to savor the slow sensual drag and stretch of gossamer on shapely calves and thighs as the dancers pulled stockings over taut flesh. He didn’t want to fuck any of them, oh no, he’d known from his teens he was all for the boys and got pleasure of a different kind from watching them. But watching the female dancers dress was a near religious experience. It was the ritual of dressing, the look of the fabric, the way it enhanced the line and shape of their limbs, and way it stretched and clung to the form that he found so very erotic. He’d known then he’d wanted that silken fabric against his own skin.
Matthew picked up another pair of emerald green silk panties. He sniffed the panties, but they smelled of nothing like they had never been worn and never been washed with household detergent. As he inspected the collection, he discovered that it was, in fact, all brand new, and nothing had been worn. He found that odd. Veronica Martinez must be mad to have abandoned this treasure trove of pretties, unworn, unloved. Whoever she was, Matthew found her lack of respect for the garments a little disappointing, but no matter. He was in a naughty, dirty mood, he was alone, and there were so many pairs of panties to choose from.
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A Personal Story
Radio Ga Ga! By Isobel Starling
I recently had my very first radio interview—an author and narrator chat with the narrator of my audiobooks, Gary Furlong, hosted on Beaten Track Radio by author F.E Feeley Jr. www.beatentrackradio.com
I’ve been a late night radio fan since I was ten years old. I used to steal my mum’s small transistor radio from the kitchen each night and secretly list to Radio Luxembourg under my covers when I should have been sleeping. That statement dates me a lot, I know. Let’s just say it was the early 80s and leave it at that! My love for radio continues, but affections have shifted to audiobooks, and even though I still love radio – particularly comedy on BBC Radio 4, audiobooks have stolen my heart.
The radio interview happened because my author friend S.J Himes did ‘Author Chat Live’ on Beaten Track with the narrator of her Beacon Hill Sorcerer series and newly released “The Solstice Prince” (Realms of Love), Joel Leslie Froomkin. I tuned in., and it was great to hear S.J’s voice. Like with many of our online friends we don’t speak in real life, and only read one another’s words. We all have to guess at who our friends really are and put our own voices to them, so it was lovely to hear her voice and make her real
I mulled over giving it a try and mentioned this to S.J. She encouraged me with DO IT! in my messenger inbox. So, never one to walk away from a challenge I contacted my narrator Gary Furlong, and he immediately said yes. I emailed Beaten Track hoping to schedule something. Then I got an email asking if we could do it the coming Sunday…with just four days notice. It was soon, WAY sooner than I’d anticipated. I thought I’d need more time to mentally prepare myself to do it, but Gary said he was available so, taking the bull by the horns I said yes.
Being a writer, or a narrator for that matter, means we spend a lot of time alone with voices in our heads. It’s isolating, and while we connect with the muse, we disconnect with other things that make us human, like having a good natter, for instance. It’s easy to be a keyboard warrior, but reaching out and saying hello as one person to another person is another matter. It can be really hard if you’re out of practice. With my current headspace I feel I need to reach out a bit more, so the moment I plugged into the Beaten Track radio station portal and heard Frederick say ‘Hello,’ and eventually Gary, it was such a delight. Hearing them both chat with me and each other calmed my fears a little. It made me take a reality check and remember times when I’d had to speak in public that were a million times more intimidating than having a natter with a writer host and my narrator.
The show itself on Sunday 29th April was lots of fun. I wish you could hear it, I really do, but unfortunatley it wasn’t recorded. It’s a shame because, as we say in Ireland, the craic was good! Gary Furlong live narrated some love letters I’d written for my characters Sam and Declan, and so I was sad the show hadn’t been recorded. But being a gentleman, Gary recorded them separately for me and you can listen to the 3 minute excerpts here:
We had so much fun doing the show that we will be back on, so keep an eye on my social media for interview dates.
About the author:
Isobel Starling spent most of her twenty-year professional career making art in Ireland. She relocated to the UK and, faced with the dreaded artist’s creative block, Isobel started to write and found she loved writing more than making art.
Isobel is currently working on her sixteenth book. The Shatterproof Bond series is an Amazon Gay Romance bestseller and is being translated into French with Juno Publications, German with Deadsoft Verlag, and Italian with Quixote Edizioni. The series is also available as audiobooks, narrated by Gary Furlong. “Fall Together” and “Sweet Thing” will be translated into French by Reines- Beaux Publishing.
“Silken” is in audio, narrated by Gomez Pugh. “Silken” is also available as a German translation, and will be translated into Italian, and French in 2018.
Thanks for joining our celebrations for this fantastic author. Come back next week for more of Isobel's book, our author interview, and a chance to win a copy of the Shatterproof Bond Art Zine!
Until then, happy reading!