by Alex Beecroft
Date Released: April 30, 2018
About Contraband Hearts
His future depends on bringing the smuggler to justice. His heart demands to join him.
Customs officer Peregrine Dean is sent by his patron to investigate rumors of corruption in the Porthkennack customs house. There he is tasked by the local magistrate to bring down the villainous Tomas Quick, a smuggler with fingers in every pie in town. Fired with zeal and ambition, and struck to the core by his first glimpse of Tomas, Perry determines to stop at nothing until he has succeeded.
Tomas Quick is an honest thief—a criminal regarded by the town as their local Robin Hood. He’s also an arrogant man who relishes the challenge posed by someone as determined and intelligent as Perry. Both of them come to enjoy their cat-and-mouse rivalry a little too much.
But the eighteenth century is a perilous time for someone like Perry: a black man in England. Two have already disappeared from the wrecks of ships. Tomas and Perry must forsake their competition and learn to trust each other if they are to rescue them, or Perry may become the third victim.
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About the Porthkennack seriesWelcome to Porthkennack, a charming Cornish seaside town with a long and sometimes sinister history. Legend says King Arthur's Black Knight built the fort on the headland here, and it’s a certainty that the town was founded on the proceeds of smuggling, piracy on the high seas, and the deliberate wrecking of cargo ships on the rocky shore. Nowadays it draws in the tourists with sunshine and surfing, but locals know that the ghosts of its Gothic past are never far below the surface.
This collaborative story world is brought to you by five award-winning, best-selling British LGBTQ romance authors: Alex Beecroft, Joanna Chambers, Charlie Cochrane, Garrett Leigh, and JL Merrow. Follow Porthkennack and its inhabitants through the centuries and through the full rainbow spectrum with historical and contemporary stand-alone titles.
Find the Porthkennack series on Goodreads.
A Guest Post from Alex Beecroft
Let’s Do Something to Help
When I was doing my research for Contraband Hearts, I read Black and British: A Forgotten History by David Olusaga. That was where I learned that one of the hazards of being a black person in 18th Century England was to be kidnapped off the street and sold into slavery. Even when a law had been passed saying that any slave who set foot in Britain, by that act should be immediately freed—that there could be no slavery in Britain—the law was ponderous and largely unenforced, and members of Britain’s large black community were always at risk.
When I read that, it chimed with what I’d been reading on social media in the 21st Century, where a black person just going about their daily business is always at risk of being accused of crime, of being arrested and swept up into prison, where they will be put to work just like a slave, or in the worst cases simply killed.
That’s why—although I hesitated to write about such a terrible subject—I eventually decided that Perry would face and overcome that threat. I didn’t want to whitewash the struggles a young gentleman of color would have faced. But I also didn’t want to center them, because despite that threat black people at the time, just as now, were not victims, they were citizens, living, working and going about their daily lives like everyone else.
I hope I’ve managed to get that balance right—it’s not for me to judge. I wait eagerly to see what you think. 😃
Early in David Olusaga’s book, he recounts how his family was forced out of their house by threats and bricks through the window when he was a child. Naively, I was horrified, as an insulated white person I had thought that kind of thing didn’t happen in my country any more. The truth was, though, that it had just been invisible to me until I finally thought of listening to a black person’s experience.
Throughout the history of our countries, black people have been living their lives with unbearable threats hanging over their heads, starting with the threat of slavery and death but trickling down to daily acts of prejudice that go unseen by most white people because they’re not being aimed at us. Jokes that aren’t funny, unwritten rules regulating who gets promoted and who doesn’t, the fact that there are three superhero franchises headed by a white bloke named Chris (or is it four now?) for one headed by a black man.
Despite the fact that we’re no longer in the 18th Century, it’s still harder for black people to see their efforts rewarded. It’s easier for a white person like me to be published with a book about a black hero than it is for a black author. That can’t be right.
I believe that diverse books are needed—that’s why I wrote one! But as a white author I recognize that I have the privilege in this situation. So that’s why I’ve decided to use that privilege to suggest that perhaps if you don’t have many books by authors of color, it would be a great idea to get some.
Here, for example, are a few suggestions: Xen X Cole McCade, Remmy Duchene, Harper Miller, J.M Dabney, Christa Tomlinson, Avril Ashton, LaQuette, Riley Hart, Jayce Ellis, A.E. Via, and Sharita Lira.
Sharita also runs Queer in Color, which has regular spotlights on authors of color:
Queer in Color Website - https://queerincolor.weebly.com/
Queer in Color Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/QueerInColor/
Queer in Color Twitter - https://twitter.com/QueerInColor
Sign up for the Queer in Color Newsletter - https://t.co/fOCPqesIFT
Alternatively, this site seems to have a huge variety of books you could choose from. I’m going to bookmark it and start diving in myself:
Women of Color in Romance - http://www.wocinromance.com/
Learn things that you never knew before, support some fantastic authors and be entertained in the process—it’s a triple win.
Meanwhile, after pontificating about how lucky I have it as a white author, what can I do to help? Well, as some of you may know, my son is trans, and the problems of trans people are also always on my mind. Trans people are disproportionately targeted for violence, and among those trans people the ones who suffer most are trans women of color.
So I have decided to donate my royalties from Contraband Hearts to Black Trans Advocacy who work specifically to support and advocate for black trans people in society. Riptide have generously offered to do the same, which means that 100% of the profits of this book will be going to make the world a better place. That certainly puts a smile on my face! 😃
Alex Beecroft is an English author best known for historical fiction, notably Age of Sail, featuring gay characters and romantic storylines. Her novels and shorter works include paranormal, fantasy, and contemporary fiction.
Beecroft won Linden Bay Romance’s (now Samhain Publishing) Starlight Writing Competition in 2007 with her first novel, Captain’s Surrender, making it her first published book. On the subject of writing gay romance, Beecroft has appeared in the Charleston City Paper, LA Weekly, the New Haven Advocate, the Baltimore City Paper, and The Other Paper. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists' Association of the UK and an occasional reviewer for the blog Speak Its Name, which highlights historical gay fiction.
Alex was born in Northern Ireland during the Troubles and grew up in the wild countryside of the English Peak District. She lives with her husband and two children in a little village near Cambridge and tries to avoid being mistaken for a tourist.
Alex is only intermittently present in the real world. She has led a Saxon shield wall into battle, toiled as a Georgian kitchen maid, and recently taken up an 800-year-old form of English folk dance, but she still hasn’t learned to operate a mobile phone.
She is represented by Louise Fury of the L. Perkins Agency.
Connect with Alex
To celebrate the release of Contraband Hearts, Alex is giving away a $10 Amazon gift card and an ebook from her backlist, your choice! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on May 5, 2018. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following along, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!