New Release Blitz: Until the Real Thing Comes Along by Chris Simon (Excerpt & Giveaway)

Title:  Until the Real Thing Comes Along

Author: Chris Simon

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: 05/14/2024

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 101200

Genre: Historical, Romance, historical, family-drama, gay, 1920s, 1930s, in the closet, docker, fire, Brighton, football match

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It’s 1932 and middle-class Malcolm lives with his mother in Highgate. Though confident and capable at work, he is tormented by “beastly inclinations”—a strong attraction to young men. One drunken evening at Charlie Brown’s pub in Limehouse he meets Alfie, a working-class docker—and the most beautiful young man Malcolm has ever seen. Alfie is friendly, kind and changes everything by making Malcolm’s inclinations seem considerably less beastly—but in 1930s London, this can surely have no future. Alfie is younger, apparently “normal”, and from the Isle of Dogs, far from Malcolm’s cosy world of quiet privilege.

Nevertheless, Malcolm launches himself into Alfie’s world of rough pubs, a dance club, and even a football match. Resigned to a platonic friendship, he is thrilled to find that Alfie has other ideas. But by offering him something he hadn’t even dared wish for, fate may have called his bluff and he fears his own naivety and sexual inexperience will see him squander this unexpected shot at happiness. After some excruciating but sound advice from a more worldly friend, the relationship becomes sexual, and more emotional, but remains an unsuitable attachment that cannot last forever.

When Alfie is nearly killed in a fire at the docks, and war planes on maneuvers growl over the Docklands skies, both are reminded that life is too short to worry about “forever”. During a police raid on an illicit West End club, Alfie’s heroism saves Malcolm from ruin, convincing him that whatever the future holds, this boy loves him now. The disapproval of families and friends, a hostile society, Malcolm’s insecurity, and Alfie’s belief that he’ll eventually get married because “that’s what young men do” cannot thwart a love that grows in unpromising ground and endures no matter what is thrown at it.


Until the Real Thing Comes Along
Chris Simon © 2024
All Rights Reserved

Grubby Angels

August 1922

This was wealth. This was power. This was the world in which Malcolm Trevelyan must make his mark.

A line of black cranes dipped and swung over the cobbled north quay of the Western Dock, as they lowered crates and barrels towards the waiting men below. Once landed, the goods were loaded onto handcarts and spirited away into the transit sheds nearby. The noise of the crane winches and the shouts of men drowned out any words of explanation from the guide escorting the small group of six trainee import clerks of which Malcolm was a part.

Beyond the transit sheds stood ancient brick warehouses, bulging with cigars and raw tobacco, grain, fragrant spices, ivory, and ostrich feathers. He breathed in the aromas of the nation’s store cupboard, awed by the sheer scale of the warehouses and by the range of goods he saw in them. Beneath their feet lay a labyrinth of cool vaults packed with puncheons and hogsheads of port, brandy, and wines. The London Docks were an organised chaos and just about the most exciting thing that sixteen-year-old Malcolm had ever seen.

But it wasn’t just the goods. Out on the quayside an even greater impression was made on him by the flat-capped, waistcoated dockers, concentration straining their features, skin glowing with their exertion. They worked in gangs, intimidating clutches of masculinity, strong and foul-mouthed. Most were middle-aged, weather-beaten, worn and scarred, but there was a handful of younger men among them. They were cocky lads—a different breed from any Malcolm had seen before and he was drawn to them. Strong, lithe, and energetic, they laughed and joked together with an easy familiarity he envied.

The dockers paid little heed to the gaggle of pale-skinned trainee clerks observing them. They would spare them attention only if the party looked like they were getting in the way, at which point a youngster would be sent to shoo them off, as though they were scavenging gulls circling over a consignment of raw sugar.

As the visitors weaved tentatively through the busy crowd, a sudden violent hailstorm lashed down on the quayside. Everyone ran for what shelter they could find, apart from the crane drivers, who watched the scurrying smugly from their cabins. Malcolm found shelter in the narrow covered doorway into a warehouse. It was padlocked and he had to share the brick arch with two young dockers and endure the bittersweet sensation of having them pressed up against him. Having their hard bodies and the smell of their sweat so close would no doubt have repelled some people. Not Malcolm. The sweat was fresh, the result of honest toil. And the bodies—well.

The young lads were deferential to him, in case he was someone important, toning down their profanities and allowing him as much space as they were able to. In adjusting his stance to try to give Malcolm more room, one of them yelped as a hailstone the size of a quail’s egg struck his bare arm. His face, close to Malcolm’s, blushed engagingly and he laughed.

“Ow! That bleedin’ hurt!”

“Don’t be such a jessie,” jeered his mate. “Wotcher stick yer arm out for anyway, yer fathead.”

“I was trying to give this gentleman a bit more room, weren’t I? Yer don’t want ’ailstones getting on yer nice duds, do yer, guvnor?”

Malcolm smiled weakly but was unable to utter a single word, let alone form a sentence. This lad of around his own age had called him “guvnor” just because he was wearing a suit, yet he was the tongue-tied one.

The hail lashed down for five minutes before stopping abruptly, allowing the young dockers to return to their labours.

As the clerks filed back out of the dock gates chattering about what they’d seen, Malcolm was disconsolate, because his desperate longing had undermined the excitement he’d felt at having seen the Port of London working at close quarters for the first time. He was no longer incarcerated in boarding school. There were plenty of girls for him to look at, in the streets and in the typing pool at work, but nothing had changed. Boys still preoccupied him and none more than these working-class lads. They were so different from him and the boys he’d known at school—and nowhere was safe, because the streets of London teemed with them. He wouldn’t even know whether the two young dockers would have been considered handsome or not. Their faces had yet to have years of hard labour etched upon them, they’d yet to sustain scars or lose teeth, their complexions were unravaged by the drink to which they would probably turn for comfort. Their youth and vitality, their common clothes and flat caps, the hair cut short at the napes of their necks and their choirboy faces tormented him still.

He could tell himself his inclinations would shift towards women in due course, but he knew it wasn’t true. In a week or two, he would have forgotten about these two particular lads, but there were legions of grubby angels dressed as thugs to fill him with a burning longing for… Well, he wasn’t quite sure for what.

What could he do about it?

The answer was obvious. He must put all his energy into his work and see how far it would take him. It was his duty to achieve wealth and power to ensure his mother would live the rest of her days in comfort, and above all, he mustn’t allow himself to indulge in any behaviour that would bring disgrace down upon her. He must not merely put aside his unnatural feelings but bury them absolutely and forever.


NineStar Press | Books2Read

Meet the Author

Chris Simon is the youngest son of a headteacher and was born and brought up in North Wales. He attended college in Liverpool and Manchester studying Geography and English and returned to Wales to work at a holiday camp, doing everything from chalet allocations to scrubbing grill pans in the off season. He did this over three summers before moving to London to join the civil service, starting in North London benefit offices and ending with the Department for Transport in Westminster.

As well as football and music, Chris has a great love of social history, particularly that of London. After visiting the capital at the age of twelve his desire to live there became the first certainty of his life. He settled in Walthamstow in East London and is a keen supporter of Manchester City and, of course, Wales. It had always been his intention to write a novel whenever he found the time—and now he has.

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