An Unlikely Alliance by Ellie Thomas

by | Jun 14, 2024 | Author | 0 comments

Exploring Historical MM Romance: An Unlikely Alliance by Ellie Thomas

It’s a pleasure to drop into Authors Lounge to chat about my most recent release, An Unlikely Alliance. I’m Ellie Thomas from the UK, and I write MM Romance Historical novellas. I’ve been a published author for over four years and have written forty novellas, with most of my stories set in the popular Regency era.

I do like to mix things up and challenge myself (and cram even more research books into my overstuffed bookshelves). I also have stories written in Tudor and Stewart times, plus a few set in the 20th century. A change is as good as a rest!

An Unlikely Alliance is set firmly in my Regency comfort zone but with a distinct difference. It was written for a submission call with the remit that stories had to be Regency and feature a three-way romance! I felt that writing a convincing MMM romance story within the historical context of the times would be a fun challenge.

Contrasting Characters in Regency London: The Story of Clem, Abe, and Humphrey

My primary intention was to create three contrasting characters with different social backgrounds in the context of Regency London. Firstly, we have Clem Metcalfe, in his early twenties. Clem is an orphan and a scholar, recently graduated from Oxford University, having found a prestigious post as a private secretary in Mayfair. But something went horribly wrong, and subsequently, Clem lost his job along with his professional reputation. After a few months of unemployment, Clem has to settle for a relatively modest secretarial job in a less fashionable district, working for Mr Arbuckle, the epitome of a stingy employer.

Then there’s Abe Pengelly, whom Clem met during those dark months. Abe, the son of a Covent Garden courtesan, is in his mid-twenties. After a foray into theft and street fighting in his teens, Abe eased away from outright criminality and buys and sells information instead, which led him to his first contact with Clem. The two men are already lovers at the start of the story. Abe has a soft spot for wary Clem, but their relationship never quite progresses. That is, until Clem meets Humphrey Atkinson.

A Regency Romance: Clem, Abe, and Humphrey’s Unlikely Alliance

Humphrey is a modest young gentleman, a useful spare man for his aunts and female cousins to escort them around the balls and assemblies of the Season. Within his social sphere, acknowledging his sexuality would be unthinkable. So his encounter with Clem is life-changing, and when Abe joins them, sparks really start to fly. Adding a villain, Clem’s former employer, Richard Farquarson, with a joint grievance against him, gives purpose to this romantic alliance and sparks the plot.

When my characters started to evolve clearly, the next vital ingredient was a sense of place. I had to choose a specific setting for them each and find a central meeting point. The obvious area where three such different men might bump into each other was Covent Garden, but I’d already used this colourful district for my Town Bronze trilogy, also set in the Regency.

Discovering The Old Red Lion Tavern: Abe’s Perfect Hideout

Then I came across a fantastic article by writer Lizanne Lloyd about The Old Red Lion Tavern at Holborn. This infamous inn that straddled the Fleet Ditch was a hive of criminality during the 18th century, harbouring such nefarious villains as Jack Sheppard. Its labyrinthine secret passages meant that during an armed incursion by the authorities, a felon could escape from their clutches via the Fleet River to the Thames.

In my story, this location seemed the perfect base for Abe, garbed in an old-fashioned red velvet coat and occasionally armed with a blunderbuss, borrowing a hint of the inn’s notorious heyday. Once I had Abe’s base of operations, the other locations fell into place.

A Tale of Three Locations: The Setting of An Unlikely Alliance

Humphrey lives at the other end of Holborn in aristocratic Bloomsbury, where his aunt has a house on Red Lion Square. Clem’s employer lives further west at Leicester Square, but Clem frequently drinks at Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese Tavern on Fleet Street, a stone’s throw away from Abe’s headquarters. And when Abe is off duty, his home with his mother is in respectable Soho, neatly sandwiched between Bloomsbury and Leicester Square.

When I first started An Unlikely Alliance, published in May, I assumed it would be a one-off. However, the characters stayed with me, and the sequel, An Increasing Entanglement, will be released in July. But the story doesn’t end there! There will be at least one more story in this series, my Christmas story for this year, to give Clem, Abe and Humphrey their definitive Happy Ever After.

Connect with Ellie Thomas: History, Romance, and More

Thank you again to Authors Lounge for the opportunity to chat about my story. For more history and romance, here’s my website link and you can also find me at my cosy Facebook Reader’s Group, Ellie’s Eyrie for virtual cake and history jokes. My featured story, An Unlikely Alliance is available on Amazon.


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