Once more we’re indebted to our friends over at the Historical Novel Society for some hugely encouraging reviews of our output. HNS reviewer Viviane Crystal has been considering two of our more recent publications, with highly gratifying results:

Speaking of Morgan Cheshire’s A TIME TO KEEP, the reviewer clearly enjoyed the author’s gentle tone:

This story of their love is depicted in serene, peaceful ways, highlighting the normalcy of their relationship

and concludes by calling it “[n]icely crafted historical fiction“, with which we can only concur!

The reviewer was also impressed with our Second World War anthology CALL TO ARMS, singling out some stories for individual mention – such as Megan Reddaway’s ‘The Man Who Loved Pigs’ and Julie Bozza’s ‘We Live Without A Future’ – before concluding that the book as a whole is “An interesting […] and memorably inspiring body of historical fiction.

Coming from someone who presumably by definition reads a great deal of historical fiction, this is quite an accolade – and one we’re immensely pleased with.

Thank you so much, Viviane Crystal and the HNS! We’re thrilled that you enjoyed our books so much, and grateful that you took the time to let us know!


Actually, as we don’t always get notified when new reviews appear, these are a few weeks old by now – the festive season having intervened. Nevertheless we’re always delighted when reviewers take the time to comment on our work!

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On 25 November 2017 Dee England at Love Bytes Reviews gave this assessment of Farah Mendlesohn’s debut novel SPRING FLOWERING:

This wasn’t a bad book, it just wasn’t for me. If you enjoy historical lesbian fiction with an extremely languid pace, and a sex scene or two to spice it up, this could be just the ticket.

Disappointing as this is, we do understand that it’s not possible to hit the bullseye every time – and we’re also aware that many readers consider the book’s leisurely construction one of its greatest assets – so we’ll thank the reviewer for their time and politely agree to disagree on this one, we think!

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Also at Love Bytes Reviews, Becca – in a review published on December 13 – delivered an emotional response to Morgan Cheshire’s Rainbow Award winning A TIME TO KEEP.

This book was exceptional. It depicts the life of two very young lovers as they start their journey and live their lives. […] The story weaves you on a path full of love, hope and loss in a very … almost poetic way.

Having witnessed the writing process at close quarters we know this review will mean a great deal to the author, so on Morgan’s behalf we’d like to thank the reviewer for her most encouraging words.

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It’s not impossible that there are more reviews, of these and other MANIFOLD PRESS titles, which haven’t reached us yet at Megaheadquarters. If you know of one that we haven’t mentioned, on a substantive review site or blog, please don’t assume we’ve seen it and ignored it; the day-to-day practicalities of keeping the Press going often mean that things get missed accidentally, and we’re always grateful for a timely reminder!

Three cheers for the Rainbow Awards 2017!

We’re absolutely delighted by the final results of the Rainbow Awards 2017, which have been announced overnight. The Press received some wonderful recognition, amidst a patently strong field of entries.

Author and stalwart colleague Morgan Cheshire deservedly won first place in the category Best Gay Historical for her novel A TIME TO KEEP (details at the Press website).

The judges said:

1) This was a beautifully written book that had me enthralled from the first page to the last. I was emotionally involved with the characters and transported in time and place to the village of Thornton and into the lives of Matthew, Ben and Sam. I have no hesitation at all to give this book top marks.

2) This felt like one of those generations-long epics. You can feel time fly by, how people try to grasp at happiness and love, only to be foiled by life, war, and death, and in the end renewing their passion for life. The writing is plain and matter-of-fact, yet full of rich natural imagery and lovingly painted landscapes, and that is what makes the whole thing work. There’s the historical framework of WWI against the lives and loves of two young men–and then a third. This story speaks of memories gilded by the passage of time, of a nostalgia for better days before wars decimated men and left them as walking shadows. It speaks of hope most of all, how love endures even in the face of death, and how love can transform sorrow to happiness. An absolutely beautiful story, and I’m not even a fan of the 20th century.

A TIME TO KEEP was also a Runner Up for Best Gay Book.

Meanwhile, debut author Dorian Dawes came equal second in the category Best LGBT Anthology / Collection for their anthology HARBINGER ISLAND (details at the Press website).

The judges said:

1) There was much to like about this book. The title was evocative, and the diversity of characters was both welcome and believable. It was a solid, good read.

2) Delightfully creepy tale that could well have been part of the Twilight Zone series, complete with menacing townsfolk and rotting buildings A different twist is given in part by the main characters who are mostly transgendered. Interesting and spooky plot.

3) I loved the way the stories all linked together to form a full story. Great sense of evil and horror, and interesting diverse characters. Hope there’s a sequel as it feels as though the fight against evil has only just begun.

HARBINGER ISLAND was also a Finalist for Best LGBT Book.

This recognition is on top of Honourable Mentions for A TIME TO KEEP and HARBINGER ISLAND, as well as:

(This may be a good time for a reminder that HARBINGER ISLAND and TO THE LEFT OF YOUR NORTH STAR, as well as other titles, are currently on sale at Smashwords.)

Congratulations to all the authors and publishers who took part! Hearty thanks for the efforts put in by the judges, and above all by Elisa Rolle, who really is a miracle worker. Thank you! ♥

Santa Baby, slip a paperback (or two) under the tree…

Life having slightly got the better of us here at Manifold Press lately, we’ve unfortunately missed a couple of opportunities to bring new paperback editions of some of our titles to your attention. Today, however, with the launch of the paperback version of Morgan Cheshire’s A TIME TO KEEP, we have an opportunity to put that right. So, out with your time-turner (or, if you prefer, hop into your blue Police box) and let’s take a brief trip back to May 2016!


Adam Fitzroy’s THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER WYE sneaked out in paperback a good eighteen months ago, and we completely forgot to mention it at the time! It’s the modest little tale of an organic farmer, the obligations he’s inherited from his dead brother, and the return of a long-lost friend who seems determined to share his burden. Join Rupert, Jake, and their assorted family and friends as they investigate a series of mysterious occurrences on an isolated Welsh land-holding, and juggle with the demands of an irascible TV chef!


F.M. Parkinson’s THE WALLED GARDEN is really too well-mannered a book to make a great fuss about itself, but for those who enjoy Dickens, Mrs Gaskell, the Brontes and other authors of the period who tell a story slowly and with masses of corroborative detail the new paperback version will be a welcome addition to their library. When William Ashton is employed as Edward Hillier’s gardener he is attracted to his master but – in an unforgiving social climate – love is slow to blossom, albeit lasting when it does.


Morgan Cheshire’s A TIME TO KEEP is another of her trademark gentle love stories, this time taking place in the years immediately surrounding the First World War. Two workhouse boys in love, Ben and Matthew, make their tentative way in the world, determined only to stay together. Ben secures employment on a farm, Matthew becomes an assistant lock-keeper on a busy canal. When war comes, however, their hopes are crushed, and Matthew must continue alone – until, that is, the providential arrival of a stranger gives him something new to hope for.


We love all three of these books, and we’re delighted to see them in paperback form; there’s loads of good reading here for the long winter evenings, and they’re just the thing to slip into someone’s Christmas stocking … or, indeed, your own!

Honourable Mentions for A TIME TO KEEP, LIKE PEOPLE

Those wonderful people over at the Rainbow Awards are still reading, bless their hearts, and in the past week they’ve bestowed Honourable Mentions on a further two Manifold Press titles!

About Morgan Cheshire’s A TIME TO KEEP the reviewers had this to say:

This story speaks of memories gilded by the passage of time, of a nostalgia for better days before wars decimated men and left them as walking shadows. It speaks of hope most of all, how love endures even in the face of death, and how love can transform sorrow to happiness.

Their response to R.A. Padmos’s LIKE PEOPLE was rather more compact – but, really,  Exciting historical novel. Enjoyed every word is everything a potential reader needs to know!

Once more we’d like to thank the Rainbow Awards judges for their time and their good opinions; it really is very gratifying to see our books making such an impression in the wider world!


Our new titles are now available!

It’s release day at last! Our three new titles are from Manifold Press stalwarts Morgan CheshireElin Gregory and RA Padmos. We have also released a free anthology of extracts in honour of the 50th anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act 1967 in England and Wales.

The new novel from the exceedingly popular Elin Gregory is THE BONES OF OUR FATHERS.

There’s dirty work at the dig when museum curator Malcolm and contractor Rob become entangled in one another and in also the machinations of money-mad developers and treasure-seekers. Extraordinary measures may need to be employed, in what we’re calling a ‘Gregorian classic’…

Buy links:

Morgan Cheshire tells stories that are both thoughtful and entertaining – and she’s done it again with A TIME TO KEEP.

This is the bitter-sweet story of Matthew, workhouse boy turned lock-keeper, whose love for Ben is cruelly interrupted by the First World War. Fans of English Edwardiana and Great War fiction should enjoy this one very much.

Buy links:

As we have come to expect from R.A. Padmos, her LIKE PEOPLE is a superb historical novella which really tells it like it was. Karl Meisner has been fighting for five years in a war he never wanted, for a nation-state Karl knows very well wants him dead – for Karl Meisner is a man who loves men. We follow him through the last days of the war as he survives being shelled by the Russians, manages to walk in a state of exhaustion with other soldiers and refugees to the river Elbe, and surrenders to the Allies. From there he ends up in a prison camp in England – where he meets Nathaniel Cyfer, a man who must have no reason at all to ever like let alone love him.

Buy links:

OUT OF THE SHADOWS: EXTRACTS FOR AN ANNIVERSARY 1967-2017 acknowledges the 50th anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act 1967 in England and Wales.

This is a free anthology of extracts from Manifold Press titles that illustrates in a modest way the changes experienced by gay men over the centuries in Britain, and how the social and legal situations may have affected individuals. The extracts begin with the Romans in the 1st century CE, and bring us right through to current issues such as marriage equality and gender-fluid pronouns.

Download links:

We hope you enjoy reading these new stories!

The 50th anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act 1967

Today, 27 July 2017, marks the 50th anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act 1967, which decriminalised private homosexual acts between men over 21 in England and Wales. As is obvious from the length of that description, this was only a partial victory, and we can hardly pretend that gay men and other people in the LGBTQ+ spectrum enjoy full equality even now.

Despite those caveats, the legal victory in 1967 and all the progress made since are things to be celebrated. The Manifold Press team was surprised and delighted by how many of Britain’s cultural institutions are acknowledging the milestone of this anniversary during 2017 – and we wanted to celebrate, too.

Hence, OUT OF THE SHADOWS: EXTRACTS FOR AN ANNIVERSARY 1967-2017. This is a free anthology of extracts from Manifold Press titles that illustrates in a modest way the changes experienced by gay men over the centuries in Britain, and how the social and legal situations may have affected individuals. The extracts begin with the Romans in the 1st century CE, and bring us right through to current issues such as marriage equality and gender-fluid pronouns.

The anthology also includes a detailed timeline of gay history in England, from 17 BCE through to the present day, written by Fiona Pickles.

This free eBook is available to download directly from Smashwords and its distributors, in all available formats. We plan to also make free paperbacks available at Queer Company 3.

We’d like to thank all the Manifold Press authors for supporting this project, and in particular the following authors for agreeing to us sharing their work: Julie Bozza, Morgan Cheshire, Adam Fitzroy, Elin Gregory, Sandra Lindsey, Eleanor Musgrove, R.A. Padmos, F.M. Parkinson, Cimorene Ross, and Jay Lewis Taylor.

We hope that readers will find much to ponder in this volume, and if you are inspired to explore further – whether in our titles or elsewhere – that would be marvellous, too!

New titles for 1 August announced today!

The days when we get to announce our upcoming titles are some of the most thrilling in the whole of our publishing calendar; it’s just like planning a surprise party for somebody and then anxiously watching their face as they walk in all unknowing…

In this spirit of excitement, therefore, we’re very pleased to be announcing details of the new books we’ll be publishing on 1 August 2017.

First, there’s a welcome return for Morgan Cheshire; her lovingly-crafted historical novels have always been popular, and we’re sure this will also be the case with A TIME TO KEEP.  It tells of the tribulations experienced by Matthew and Ben, two lads who leave the workhouse in 1909 and start a life together.  But this isn’t the best period of history for happy-ever-afters, and when War descends Matthew is left to try to make some kind of sense of his future…

Alongside this, we have another new title from our good friend Elin Gregory – this time the tale of small-town museum curator Malcolm, who becomes entangled with contractor ‘Dirty’ Rob (a man who makes his earth move!), a significant archaeological discovery on a building site, and the machinations of unscrupulous treasure-seekers; really, what more could any reader want?

As an added bonus this time, we also have the return of R.A. Padmos’s ‘Espresso Shot’ LIKE PEOPLE, which originally debuted last year.  For technical reasons we had to remove it from sale immediately – but now it’s back, and is available to purchase again from today.  As World War Two draws to a close, Karl meets Nathaniel – but is this any time to be starting something new?

These three books represent a perfect snapshot of our broader output, and we’re very proud of them all; they two new ones will be available to pre-order shortly, and will be on general sale through our usual outlets as from 1 August 2017 – enjoy!

A sense of place

An author guest blog by Morgan Cheshire

When writing historical fiction set in an urban environment, with both gentlemen still living with their families, it can be quite difficult to find a suitable location to forward their romance.

ALWAYS WITH US is set in Victorian Liverpool, with its many hotels, but that meant there was always the risk of being recognised. I needed somewhere away from the city, that Harrison had legitimate reason to visit, which had suitable accommodation, and could provide a reason for not returning home. Enter the village of Eastham, across the river Mersey.

Eastham is one of the oldest villages on the Wirral and has been inhabited since Anglo Saxon times. The oldest part of the modern village is to the east of the A41 and is centred on St Mary’s church, the scene of the funeral of one of Harrison’s clients. There has been a ferry service between Liverpool and Eastham since the Middle Ages, originally operated by monks from the Abbey of St Werburgh.

A large increase in traffic in the 1700s led to a new pier being built and there could be forty coaches a day, both passenger and goods, arriving to cross the river to Liverpool. In 1816 paddle steamers replaced sailing boats, but it was less than thirty years before demand for the ferry service declined after the opening of a rail link between Chester and Woodside Ferry, Birkenhead.

The village had now spread to the west, on the other side of the main road, and to get to the ferry itself you had to drive down through farmland. To increase his profits the owner of the ferry, Thomas Stanley – the Stanleys are an old Cheshire family – built a hotel adjacent to the pier at Eastham Ferry. To attract more visitors to the hotel he also decided to build an adjoining Pleasure Garden and charge admittance. It was a big undertaking and must have required quite an investment of time and money. The landscaped gardens included ornamental trees and fountains, and in the spring Azaleas and Rhododendrons made a colourful display.

The gardens became a popular choice for a day out, especially attracting visitors from the city who came to enjoy the fresh air strolling among the flower beds. There was, however, more to see and do than admire the intricate planting. There were tea rooms to rest and enjoy cakes and sandwiches while listening to music from the performers on the band-stand; theatrical productions also appeared on the open-air stage – presumably ‘weather permitting’, although I have attended an open-air production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream where it rained solidly and there were some very sodden fairies – but luckily the audience was under cover.

For the energetic there was a ballroom to enjoy, a boating-lake, and a water-chute. One of the major attractions was the zoo; lions could be seen in wheeled cages that were drawn around the park, monkeys and an antelope had their admirers, and then there was the bear-pit with its two occupants.

As a child wandering around the overgrown woodland and finding uneven stone steps, slippery with moss, that led down to a strange stone-lined pit felt like finding a place out of a fairy tale – especially as the sun never seemed to penetrate the leaves of the Rhododendron trees. It wasn’t until much later that I found out it had originally been a bear-pit, and given that the original occupants would not have had a very good life perhaps the gloom was a fitting memorial. In its day the bear-pit was a highly popular place, though, and an iron-work dome meant that people could stare at the bears in complete safety.

In the summer entertainers performed in the gardens; these included Blondin, a famous tightrope-walker, who once wheeled a local boy across a high wire in a wheelbarrow. I wonder what Health and Safety would have to say if he tried that today?

Another visitor, in 1854, was the United States Consul in Liverpool, author Nathaniel Hawthorne, who wrote admiringly in his journal about the antique houses and picturesque aspect of the village itself.

As the Gardens prospered so did Thomas Stanley. The Manchester Ship Canal was opened by Queen Victoria in 1894, just before the events of ALWAYS WITH US, and in 1897 an archway was built at the entrance to the Gardens to commemorate her Diamond Jubilee.

The popularity of the Pleasure Gardens was not to last, however.  Eighty years after it was opened it was in decline, and the last paddle-steamer made the river crossing in 1929. The following decade saw the gardens neglected and falling into disrepair; the iron pier and Jubilee Arch were dismantled, and except for local dog-walkers the place was forgotten.

In 1970 it was designated a Woodland and Country Park and visitors returned to stand on the truncated pier and look out across the river to Liverpool, to watch tankers going past before they entered the Ship Canal which would take them to the oil refinery at Ellesmere Port and the docks at Manchester.

Thankfully the hotel remains, and it is possible to have a meal in the restaurant. There are no flower beds but the bluebells can be admired in the spring, and a bird-hide attracts both people and birds. A lot of the rhododendron growth has now been removed and it is possible to wander the paths and find hidden steps, including those that lead to the bear-pit.  However I doubt if many people realise what a thriving centre the Pleasure Gardens once were; indeed I would not have known myself if I had not been searching for the ideal place for Harrison and Daniel to further their relationship!

Manifold Press paperbacks

The Press doesn’t issue paperback editions of all our titles, as the decision to do so is driven by the individual authors. That being said, we’re delighted with the twenty titles that have made it into print thus far! There are new ones on the way, so it seemed to be a good time to take stock of what we have so far.

A veritable rainbow of books from Manifold Press!
A veritable rainbow of books from Manifold Press!

Our current paperback titles are listed here, along with Amazon US buy links:

The Apothecary's Garden paperback coverAlways With Us by Morgan Cheshire

The Apothecary’s Garden by Julie Bozza

Between Now and Then by Adam Fitzroy

Butterfly Hunter (#1) by Julie Bozza

Of Dreams and Ceremonies (Butterfly Hunter #2) by Julie Bozza

The Thousand Smiles of Nicholas Goring (Butterfly Hunter #3) by Julie Bozza

The Butterfly Hunter Trilogy (incorporating all three novels plus the free short story Like Leaves to a Tree) by Julie Bozza

Dear Mister President by Adam Fitzroy

Make Do and Mend paperback coverThe Definitive Albert J. Sterne (incorporating the novel and the stories published separately in the eBook Albert J. Sterne: Future Bright, Past Imperfect) by Julie Bozza

Ghost Station by Adam Fitzroy

Homosapien … a fantasy about pro wrestling by Julie Bozza

Make Do and Mend by Adam Fitzroy

Mitch Rebecki Gets a Life by Julie Bozza

A Pride of Poppies Modern LGBTQIA Fiction of the Great War – anthology including stories by Julie Bozza, Barry Brennessel, Charlie Cochrane, Sam Evans, Lou Faulkner, Adam Fitzroy, Wendy C. Fries, Z. McAspurren, Eleanor Musgrove and Jay Lewis Taylor

A Pride of Poppies - paperback coverRavages by R.A. Padmos

Solemn Contract by Morgan Cheshire

Stage Whispers by Adam Fitzroy

A Threefold Cord by Julie Bozza

The ‘True Love’ Solution by Julie Bozza

The Valley of the Shadow of Death by Julie Bozza

We hope you’ll enjoy these paperback editions and – like us! – are looking forward to more titles coming soon.