Like Stars by Selina Kray Guest Post, Excerpt, Review & Giveaway!

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Hi peeps, we have Selina Kray stopping by for a visit with her debut novel Like Stars, Selina chats a bit about Like Stars title, I’ve nicked a bit of an excerpt, we have a fantastic comment giveaway and we have Prime’s review for you to check out. So peeps check out the post then leave a comment to enter the giveaway! <3 ~Pixie~ 

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 Like Stars


Selina Kray

What if your true love walked back into your life five years after his death?

Nathaniel Thredgold has finally returned from the war. Or has he? His lover, Wesley Douglas, isn’t sure. Wesley must put aside his engagement, his disbelief, and his anger to give his professional opinion. The truth about their relationship isn’t an option. But is this stranger really the Ravensworth heir and Wesley’s long-lost love? When your heart’s at stake, there’s no room for doubt.

Set in the Edwardian era, Like Stars is a tale of mysterious identities, scandalous family secrets, and lovers in a dangerous time.

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Selina chats What’s in a title?

Hi, everyone! My name is Selina Kray, and my first novel, Like Stars, is now out in print at Amazon and Barnes & Noble! The kind folks at M/M Good Book Reviews have graciously allotted me this space to celebrate this milestone, so a big thanks to them, especially Pixie!

Like Stars is a bit of an unusual title, and it wasn’t the first one the book had. Originally, the book was called After the Storm. If you’re familiar with the Mumford & Sons song of the same name, you’ll see what I was going for there:

            “There will come a time, you’ll see
            With no more tears
            And love will not break your heart
            Or dismiss your fears
            Get over your hill and see
            What you’ll find there
            With grace in your heart
            And flowers in your hair”
                        (“After The Storm”, Sigh No More, 2010)

Thematically, it worked. The mood conjured by those lyrics and the music evoked the same atmosphere that I was going for in the book. But the more I thought about it, the more I thought perhaps the title wasn’t right after all. For one, there’s no storm in the book, not even metaphorically. After discussing it with some beta readers, I knew I had to go back to the drawing board.

It was to poetry that I looked for my new title. This time, thankfully, the book was already written, so I had a better idea of the characters and the themes the title should subtly convey. Still, it took me a couple of angsty months and lots of hand-wringing. It became such a joke in my family that my mother would start every conversation with: “So do you have a title yet?”

Finally, a friend gave me one of the most beautiful books of poetry that I have ever received, Richard Siken’s Crush. If you love verse, you have to score yourself a copy. If you love M/M, the lush, visceral poems in this collection are all about a gay love affair. It was in “Saying Your Names” that I found my title (note that this is only a small part of the poem):

            All night I stretched my arms across
            him, rivers of blood, the dark woods, singing
            with all my skin and bone Please keep him safe.
            Let him lay his head on my chest and we will be
            like sailors, swimming in the sound of it, dashed
            to pieces. Makes a cathedral, him pressing against
            me, his lips at my neck, and yes, I do believe
            his mouth is heaven, his kisses falling over me
            like stars. (Richard Siken, Crush, 2005)

The two main characters in my novel, Nathaniel and Wesley, are amateur astronomers. Nathaniel in particular is a bit of a contradiction, a romantic who wants to join the military. Though he dreams of leading men into battle, he secretly loves poetry and has been known to recite a verse or two while traipsing up a hillside, like some Byronic hero. But he discovers there is nothing poetic about reality of the Second Boer War.

The contrast between the softer and sharper aspects of his character are, I think, reflected in the dark imagery of Siken’s poem. You never really know if the poem depicts a love scene or a murder, just as the mystery of the book is whether the man who returns from the war is, in fact, Nathaniel, or an imposter.

In the novel’s flashbacks, which detail Wesley and Nathaniel’s pre-war romance, both are on the brink of leaving home, of finding their place in the world. They are, in a sense, like shooting stars. After the war, even though there’s the mystery of Nathaniel’s identity to resolve, they are still young men brimming with potential. So, to me, Like Stars was the perfect title for my historical romance.

Like Stars is now available in print from Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and in eBook format from MLR Press, All Romance eBooks, and other eBook vendors.


Chapter One

Summer, 1907

Dr. Wesley Douglas’ entire world unraveled and re-spun itself the instant he saw the hooded man looming in the doorway of the Raven’s Claw Inn. It was not his custom to stare so openly, but neither was he accustomed to seeing a ghost with the face of his long-dead lover under the midday sun. Haggard as the grim reaper himself, his face half-concealed by the drape of his long black hood, this specter from his past stole down the side alley that led to the main road. The sight was so unexpected, so breath-stealing, that Wesley nearly plowed into an overhanging sign as he turned to follow him.

He shut his eyes for a second, indulging in a violent and hopefully unseen shiver. Cursing under his breath at his susceptibility, he steered his horse around the man, then veered into an about-face confrontation. Rallying his senses, Wesley looked again, staring flagrantly at the man’s few discernible features, scrutinizing every visible curve and slope of his visage for confirmation of the dour-clothed stranger’s identity. When a lone, dark eye flickered into view, Wesley’s heart leapt in his chest.

His shock was such that he dropped his horse’s reins. Bracer reared, his flailing hoofs threatening the sheep that clotted the street like blow-off tufts from a cotton field. If Wesley had not been suffering some form of spook-induced paralysis, he might have flown off his horse and chased the scoundrel down. He might have gripped him by his collar and spat in his face. He might have struck at him with little more than his long-kindling agony and a riding crop. As it was, he could only gawk at what must be a ghost.

If it were a commonplace occurrence to encounter Nathaniel Thredgold’s ghost whilst traversing the small, shadowy lane between the dressmaker’s and the inn, Wesley might have patronized the area more frequently. As it was, the herd of ornery sheep stationed themselves, with airs of glowering intimidation, before the butcher’s shop, thus blocking all traffic, equine and otherwise, on the high street. This was not an uncommon occurrence in the picturesque yet somnambulant village of Haversham, a close-knit and somewhat cloistered community in the wilds of Derbyshire. Nestled a touch too snugly between two towering hills, village life flowed at the same pace as the current of the tranquil river that arced around it to the east.

With shaking hands, Wesley gripped Bracer’s reins and heeled into his flanks, urging the horse to vault over several clusters of sheep, who baaed indignantly. Soon, he was galloping down the country roads at such velocity that wind blew through his hair, even on a stagnant midsummer day. It was only once they jumped the stone fence into the courtyard of his cottage home that he dared draw breath, dared let his shock overtake him, dared wonder what manner of mischief now stalked the path to Ravensworth Hall.

By the time he shucked his boots and crept through the side door, Wesley was a good way to composing himself. The unseasonable humidity, never welcome to one of his fair complexion, had made him so woozy that he had fallen victim to fanciful imaginings of the most pedantic and fruitless sort. What, after all, had he truly seen of the man? A veiled visage? A lurching step? A sallow cheek, its edges darkened by the drape of his hood? No scientist of merit could form a concrete notion, let alone a hypothesis, based on such scant evidence. Servant to logic and rational thought that he was, he could only conclude that, once again, his damnable emotions had colluded to deceive him, to make real what he very well knew could not be.

About Selina

Selina Kray is the nom de plume of an author and English editor. Professionally, she has covered all the artsy-fartsy bases, having worked in a book store, at a cinema, in children’s television and in television distribution, up to her latest incarnation as a subtitle editor and grammar nerd (though she may have always been a grammar nerd). A self-proclaimed geek and pop culture junkie who sometimes manages to pry herself away from the review sites and gossip blogs to write fiction of her own, she is a voracious consumer of art with both a capital and a lowercase “A”.

Having long ago realized that she was the Salieri to the lit world’s Mozarts, she has embraced her love of erotica with intricate plots, complex characters, and lots of heart. Whether she has achieved this goal is for you, gentle readers, to decide. At present, she is hard at work on future novels at home in Montreal, Quebec, with her wee corgi serving as both foot-warmer and in-house critic.

Twitter: @selinakray
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Win one copy of Like Stars, either in eBook or print format

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Selena Kray - Like Stars 300x450Title: Like Stars

Author: Selina Kray

Genre: Historical

Length: Novel (369 pages)

ISBN: MLR-1-02014-0332

Publisher: MLR Press (14th November 2014)

Heat Level: Low

Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥ 4 ½ Hearts

Reviewer: Prime

Blurb: What if your true love walked back into your life five years after his death?

Nathaniel Thredgold has finally returned from the war. Or has he? His lover, Wesley Douglas, isn’t sure. Wesley must put aside his engagement, his disbelief, and his anger to give his professional opinion. The truth about their relationship isn’t an option. But is this stranger really the Ravensworth heir and Wesley’s long-lost love? When your heart’s at stake, there’s no room for doubt.

Set in the Edwardian era, Like Stars is a tale of mysterious identities, scandalous family secrets, and lovers in a dangerous time.

Product Link:

Review: This book is very much reminiscent of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle/Sherlock Holmes, which is also mentioned once or twice at the beginning of the book. The scientist in me was also thrilled by the mention of Darwin, once again, despite being post Darwin’s death this is about the time that his ideas started to become accepted. The setting is rural England in 1907 (with flash backs to the 1890s), so we’re in the Edwardian era and really only a few years shy of WWI (depending on your idea of a few). That being said, the world we’re presented with is very much starting to resemble the world we now know. There are also a lot of hints dropped in reference to classic writers, particularly Charles Dickens.

From that introduction, I think it’s obvious that this one has captured my imagination. As said in the blurb, Nathaniel Thredgold left his home and position to join the army where he later fought in the Boer War (technically Second-Anglo Boer War, 1899-1902). However, after an attack it had be presumed that he had been killed along with the rest of his regiment. When a scarred man arrives in the village of Haversham (which had me thinking of Dickens) claiming to be Nathaniel, Nathaniel’s best friend is called in to help establish the scarred man’s identity. Enter Dr Wesley Douglas, who is somewhat a cross between Holmes and Dr Watson type character.

Wesley finds it impossible to believe that the scarred man is not Nathaniel and despite evidence, he doggedly hangs onto his belief to the point of frustration. The young men had also been lovers until their parting. He and Nathaniel had parted ways after a bad fight where certain words were exchanged along. Now, though, Wesley is engaged to Beatrice, though that in itself is an interesting circumstance and he finds it hard that “Nathaniel” hasn’t spoken to him at all about their argument. To use a phrase used commonly in the regency romances, he is very mule-headed! But besides that, I love the way Wesley ticks, he is very rational and evidence based type person, which would be why he is a doctor. He enjoys his work and instead of working in London, which he could have done easily as the son of a baron, had opted for his home village.

In retrieving the information for this review I read some other reviews, interested in what others thought, and I thought that some people really didn’t read it after two thirds. Please don’t do that! It was probably around this point I was looking at the page count and getting frustrated with Wesley, but the pay off for reading is brilliant! Although not strictly conventional and almost expected in the MM historical genre, I really loved the ending. In fact, the entire book is very much emotionally engaging (hence mentally shaking my fist at Wesley). The flashbacks to just over ten years prior add a nice touch too.

On a minor note, for me as a reader, it took me about the whole first chapter to adjust to the wording/writing style, despite the fact I’ve read many regency based books for the century of Georgian to Edwardian era. I’m not sure why, but if anyone else has the same problem, I promise you that if you are truly into this book you’ll have no problem as you get immersed into it.

There are so many elements that make up this book and make it fun and engaging, there’s a little bit of mystery, some minor plotting, a lot of melodrama, not a lot of romance but more so physicality.

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12 thoughts on “Like Stars by Selina Kray Guest Post, Excerpt, Review & Giveaway!

  1. I love the cover. And the blurb. I think I’m going to love this book. Thank you for the giveaway.

  2. It’s such a lovely title, and I’ll admit to wanting to read the book solely because of it, even moreso now that I know the meaning behind it.

  3. This sounds wonderful. Love the cover. Thanks so much for the excerpt and chance to win a copy.

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