Romancing The Romance Authors with… Rachel Brimble

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Welcome to the penultimate edition of Romancing The Romance Authors. This feature is retiring at the end of the year in favour of some exciting new developments on the blog, which I will be announcing in due course. In the meantime, let’s enjoy chatting with this episode’s guest author about writing romance… Rachel Brimble.

Tell me a bit about the type of books you write and where you are in your publishing journey.

Right now, I am concentrating on writing historical romance set in the Victorian period. My last series was set in the Edwardian period. I’m fascinated with both periods so I think I’ll be staying within these two eras for the time being!

I am currently working on my 30th novel and have 27 books (contemporary and historical) published by various publishers – my next book/series proposal is currently under consideration so I’m hoping for some good news soon.

Why romance?

Because I love it! I love exploring relationships whether they be within family, friends or colleagues, but it the romantic relationships I enjoy writing the most. With so much doom and gloom in the world, there is nothing better than escaping into a love story – for both me and my readers!

What inspires your stories?

So many things, but my stories usually start with either an historical event or person who takes my interest. Alternatively, an historical building, house or village will spark my imagination. Once I find myself constantly thinking about one of these things, I know a story is brewing. I let it settle for a while and soon enough I know the general plot and then I have to create the right characters to tell the story.

Who are your favourite romance authors, past and/or present?

Past – Jane Austen/Georgette Heyer          Present – Nora Roberts/Julia London/Julia Quinn

If you had to pick one romance novel for me to read, which one would you recommend?

Ooh, this is so hard, but my latest obsession is the Bridgerton series – I loved the TV adaptation of book 1 but, as an author, I was desperate to read the books and praying I enjoyed them even more. All I can say is I am absolutely LOVING them… definitely more than the TV series! Highly recommended if you love you romance with plenty of fun and laughter!

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Escape to the ballrooms of Regency London with this beautifully designed boxset of the first four books in the worldwide bestselling Bridgerton series, the inspiration behind the Netflix phenomenon. In this glamorous, witty series, the Bridgertons reign over the Ton, watched (and gossiped about) by a mysterious columnist known only as Lady Whistledown . . .

The Duke & I
Simon Basset appears on the verge of proposing to the lovely Daphne Bridgerton. But secretly their affair is a ruse to escape marriage-minded society mothers . . . Or is it? Amidst the glittering, gossipy, cut-throat world of London’s elite, there is only one certainty: love ignores every rule . . .

The Viscount Who Loved Me
Anthony Bridgerton needs a wife. As the oldest son, he knows it’s high time he settled down and ensured the continuation of the Bridgerton line. What a shame then, that he seems to have fallen in love with entirely the wrong woman . . .

An Offer From a Gentleman
One ball, one unknown woman and one magical night, changed everything for Benedict Bridgerton. Now, he has sworn to find and wed his mystery miss, for he knows this is his only chance for a fairy tale love story . . .

Romancing Mr Bridgerton
Penelope Featherington has loved her best friend’s brother, Colin Bridgerton, ever since she was a girl. When she discovers his deepest secret she must decide: is it time to share her own?

Which romantic hero or heroine would you choose to spend your perfect romantic weekend with? Where would you go and what would you do?

I love Anthony from book 2 in the Bridgerton series, The Viscount Who Loved Me – after losing his beloved father, he has inherited the title, riches and property but he is deeply affected and bereaved by his loss which makes him so very real. He is strong, handsome, cares for his mother and siblings and harbours a deep sense of duty. What’s not to like?

If I could have a day with him, I would want to go somewhere beautiful in the country, like the Cotswolds. Walk, talk, take tea and later a wonderfully intimate dinner with music and wine. After that, who knows…

What is your favourite thing about being a member of the RNA? What do you think you have gained from membership?

My favourite thing is the friendships I’ve made over the years! I have gained so much support and mentorship since joining the RNA that I never feel alone in my writing endeavours which is so, so important. When I was starting out, I learned so much by attending the conferences and talking to published writers. Everything I learned would have taken me so much longer to carry out alone.

The RNA also offers the wonderful New Writers Scheme where an unpublished author can have their entire manuscript critiqued for a cost that is so much lower than a writer would pay for such a service elsewhere. It’s invaluable!

What one piece of advice or tip would you give to new writers starting out in the romance genre?

See above! First priority should be to join the RNA as you will have immediate access to published and unpublished writers who are on hand to answer questions via the FB page. You will also be able to join the New Writers Scheme.

Practically, the best advice I can give is to make sure you finish your novel, polish it, let it sit awhile and then revisit it. Ensure your story is the absolute best it can be, preferably having been looked at by trusted critique partners and/or a proofreader. Then make sure you submit it to agents/publishers! So many don’t take this terrifying step and if you don’t, nothing will ever change for you.

Tell us about your most recent novel.

My most recent novel is Trouble for the Leading Lady which is book 2 in my Victorian trilogy, The Ladies of Carson Street. Both this book and book 1, A Widow’s Vow, can be read stand-alone.

Trouble For the Leading Lady is Nancy’s story – Nancy is a good-time girl who dreams of one day being onstage. Deep inside, she knows her aspiration is never likely to come true when she lives and survives in the backstreet taverns and houses of Victorian Bath. Then she meets theatre manager, Francis Carlyle… and her dream turns into something else entirely as she and Francis join forces to help the children of Bath’s workhouse. You can buy a copy here.

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Bath, 1852.

As a girl, Nancy Bloom would go to Bath’s Theatre Royal, sit on the hard wooden benches and stare in awe at the actresses playing men as much as the women dressed in finery. She longed to be a part of it all and when a man promised her parents he could find a role for Nancy in the theatre, they believed him.

His lie and betrayal led to her ruin.

Francis Carlyle is a theatre manager, an ambitious man always looking for the next big thing to take the country by storm. A self-made man, Francis has finally shed the skin of his painful past and is now rich, successful and in need of a new female star. Never in a million years did he think he’d find her standing on a table in one of Bath’s bawdiest pubs.

Nancy vowed never to trust a man again. Francis will do anything to make her his star. As they engage in a battle of wits and wills, can either survive with their hearts intact?

The second in Rachel Brimble’s thrilling new Victorian saga series, Trouble for the Leading Lady will whisk you away to the riotous, thriving underbelly of Victorian Bath.

About the Author

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Rachel lives in a small town near Bath, England. She is the author of over 25 published novels including the Ladies of Carson Street trilogy, the Shop Girl series (Aria Fiction) and the Templeton Cove Stories (Harlequin).

Rachel is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association as well as the Historical Novel Society and has thousands of social media followers all over the world. 

To sign up for her newsletter (a guaranteed giveaway every month!), click here: https://bit.ly/3zyH7dt

Connect with Rachel:

Website: https://rachelbrimble.com

Facebook: Rachel Brimble Author

Twitter: @RachelBrimble

Instagram: @rachelbrimbleauthor

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Friday Night Drinks with… Melissa Oliver

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We’ve arrived at the end of the month again already, can you believe it? And we are now only four weeks away from Christmas! I think it is time to start the Christmas celebrations and tonight I will be having my first festive Friday Night Drinks with Mills and Boon author… Melissa Oliver.

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Thank you for joining me for drinks this evening. First things first, what are you drinking?

It’s getting close to the Christmas season, so I’m going to be indulgent and go for an Expresso Martini, or a Bailey’s White Russian. 

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Yes, it’s definitely cocktail season. If we weren’t here in my virtual bar tonight, but were meeting in real life, where would you be taking me for a night out?

 We’re going all out, Julie, so I’ll be taking you to the Connaught Bar in London, with it’s elegant Cubist wood-paneling, huge smoky mirrors and signature Martinis! We could pretend we’re in a James Bond film or something!

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If you could invite two famous people, one male and one female, alive or dead, along on our night out, who would we be drinking with?

I would go with a couple who sizzled on the big screen together, oozed elegance but are sadly no longer with us- Peter O’ Toole and Audrey Hepburn- they would definitely keep us entertained with their stories and add a dash of glamour to the place.

So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?

I have just completed my latest historical romance for Harlequin Mills and Boon, which kicks off a new series set in Medieval London. I’m really excited about it as both the hero and heroine are quite different from any characters that I have written before and the backdrop of London is really exciting- there’s something quite familiar and accessible about it but obviously with it being set in the 13th century, quite different as well. 

What has been your proudest moment since you started writing and what has been your biggest challenge?

Like many writers, my biggest challenge was finally getting published. It can be soul destroying getting those rejection emails but once you get that offer of a book deal, it more than makes up for it. And I’d say that my proudest moment was winning the prestigious RNA Joan Hessayon Award in 2020 for my debut, The Rebel Heiress and the Knight (Notorious Knights book 1). It was definitely the cherry on top after being offered said book deal with Harlequin Mills and Boon. I remember walking around in a daze for a few days afterwards wondering if it really had happened or whether my active imagination had run riot! 

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What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as you like, its just us talking after all!

I’m not going to deny that the lure of having a book adapted for film or tv wouldn’t be amazing and of course if that opportunity came my way, I’d grab it with both hands. In the meantime, I want to develop as a writer, continue to enjoy what I’m doing, write books that captivate and are really, really, really successful, reaching more readers all over the world. In other words, I would love for my books to become bestsellers. 

What are have planned that you are really excited about?

I really enjoyed writing my latest book, The Knight’s Convenient Alliance– (Notorious Knights book 4), because …

1) It’s a Medieval romance with plenty of intrigue, adventure, drama, set in King Henry III reign.   

2)The leads first meet in book 3 of the Notorious Knights series. 

3) They have both been marred by tragedy in the past. 

4) The hero is an Agent of the Crown.  

5) There’s lots of banter between the leads- Brida O’Conaill is far too serious and Tom Lovent can’t help but tease her. 

It was a lot of fun to write but having said that, this book marks the end of the Notorious Knights series, which also meant having to say goodbye to many characters from previous books- it was a little sad but I’m really happy where I ended it.  

I love to travel, and I’m currently drawing up a bucket list of things I’d like to do in the future. Where is your favourite place that you’ve been and what do you have at the top of your bucket list?

I love Italy- it’s filled with so much history, culture, art & beauty, not to mention incredible food! My favourite places include, Rome, Tuscany, Venice and the Amalfi coast. 

I also love places of significant historical interest- Pompeii, The Acropolis, the Pyramids of Giza, the Colosseum and Persepolis have been some of the most amazing places I’ve been to and following in that vain, I would love to see the lost city of Petra in Jordan. The Red Rose city looks so romantic, so breathtakingly majestic, I really can’t wait to see it in person. One day…  

Jordan is also really high on my bucket list. Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself.

I used to make made-to-measure wedding dresses which was something I really enjoyed doing at the time. I particularly loved to find out the stories of how and where my clients met their fiancés. So yes, I’ve always been a romantic at heart!

Books are my big passion and central to my blog and I’m always looking for recommendations. What one book would you give me and recommend as a ‘must-read’?

I love Georgette Heyer’s Regencies. They are so witty, so well-crafted with endearing characters, sparkling dialogue and amusing plot lines. She’s considered to be one of the first historical romance authors and her books have classic timeless quality which I return to again and again. If I had to pick one (which would definitely change depending on my mood, by the way) I would go with Sylvester or maybe Frederica but then there’s The Grand Sophy and not forgetting Cotillion

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Endowed with rank, wealth and elegance, Sylvester, Duke of Salford, is ready to find a bride.

His pursuit of a partner sets him on course to Phoebe Marlow, a young lady who is far more concerned with riding than sewing or beautiful clothes.

With Phoebe struggling to meet her family’s demands of gentility and poise, a potential match with Sylvester is exceedingly advantageous. So, it is very intriguing indeed when a visit from her potential suitor causes Phoebe to flee her home.

When the pair meet again and an unexpected adventure ensues, Sylvester comes to realise that there is much more to Phoebe than her reputation affords . . .

So, we’ve been drinking all evening. What is your failsafe plan to avoid a hangover and your go-to cure if you do end up with one?

I always know my limits so never drink to the point that I would have a hangover the following morning but one tip is to alternate your drinks with fruit juice or water and failing that, a full English breakfast with lots of tea does the trick.

After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?

Spa and afternoon tea with friends. Long walks with my husband, our daughters and cocker spaniel Mr Darcy, followed by a pub lunch with log fires. And finally then cuddled up on the sofa for a movie night with big buckets of pop-corn to share. 

Melissa, I have had the best time chatting to you this evening, thank you so much for joining me.

Melissa’s latest book for Mills and Book Historical is The Knight’s Convenient Alliance (Notorious Knights, Book 4) was published yesterday in the UK and Australia and is out in the USA on 30 November. You can buy a copy here.

Cover- Harlequin The Knight's Convenient Alliance

The only man who’s tempted her…

Now poses as her husband!

When an injured knight arrives on Brida O’Conaill’s doorstep, the village assumes he’s her long-lost husband. But her only previous connection to Sir Thomas Lovent was an intense shared moment at a tournament years ago. Brida maintains the pretence while she nurses him, yet once he’s back to full, virile health, she cannot reveal Thomas is not her husband – or that she’s unmarried! – when everyone is expecting them to act like man and wife…

Melissa Oliver is from south-west London where she writes historical romance novels. She lives with her lovely husband and daughters, who share her passion for decrepit, old castles, palaces and all things historical.

Melissa is the WINNER of The Romantic Novelist Association’s Joan Hessayon Award for new writers 2020 for her debut, The Rebel Heiress and the Knight.

When she’s not writing she loves to travel for inspiration, paint, and visit museums & art galleries.

You can find out more about Melissa via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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Romancing The Romance Authors with… Lesley Field

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I love my bi-weekly chats with romance authors on a subject close to my heart… the writing of romance novels! I can’t wait to hear what this week’s guest has to say on the subject, so I am delighted to welcome to the blog…. Lesley Field.

Tell me a bit about the type of books you write and where you are in your publishing journey.

I write both contemporary and historical romance. My contemporary novels are set in Canada and my historical novels are set in and around the Regency period. I first started writing in 2012 when I saw a short story in a magazine and thought, “I could do that.” So I did. I wrote a contemporary novel, intended to be a short story, but it became more. Eventually it turned into a 90,000 work plus novel which later became the first book in my Saunders series, Saunders-Lies and Deception. However, that was not my first published novel. Having written contemporary I wondered if I could write historical as I’ve always loved reading historical books. Again, I sat at the computer and wrote, Dangerous Entrapment, which became the first book in my Duchess in Danger series. I was fortunate enough to get a publishing contract for that book from Canadian publishers. The book was published in 2015 and to my delight (and shock) was shortlisted for Historical Novel of the Year 2016 by The Romantic Novelists Association (RNA). I published a further 6 e-books through my Canadian publishers, 3 more in the Duchess in Danger series, and 3 books in my Saunders series, Saunders-Lies and Deception, (book 1) Saunders-Endings and Beginnings, (book 2) and finally, Saunders-Sisters and Lovers, (Book 3). All books were set in Banff, Canada. In the meantime I had obtained a publishing contract from a UK publishers for a further contemporary romance set in Canada, Betrayal. The rights to all 7 books have recently reverted back to me and I decided to take a big step away from publishers and become an independently published author. I now have all 7 books re-edited and re-published through Amazon KDP under the publishing name of “Wild Moose Publications,” which is in fact me. 

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Why romance?

I think because I’m a romantic at heart and I love a happy ever after. Not everyone gets that in life but they do in my books. Also I believe that we all need something to make us smile, to take us away from the everyday problems that life throws at us. There is enough violence in life and it’s lovely to sit and escape from it all, even if it’s only for a short while. Not, that there isn’t some danger in my books, or temporary heartache caused by misunderstandings, there is. But it’s the smile on a readers face when they reach the end of the book that’s my main goal.

Also there is sexual content in my books, which goes beyond the bedroom door. Some people like this, some don’t. So if a reader doesn’t like this my suggestion is, skip that bit. In my 2nd book in the Duchess in Danger series, Dangerous Deception, I pushed my boundaries as regards the sexual content. It was way out of my comfort zone and when I’d finished it I had to walk away from the laptop as I was actually shaking. There is always a reason for something like that, and in that particular book it had to be severe to justify the later action/belief of my heroine. I do accept that some people would be offended by some of the content, but those things happened in that era.

What inspires your stories?

I wish I knew. I never know where or when a storyline will suddenly pop into my head. My Saunders series was only intended to be one book, but book 2 came to me when my hubby and I were on a coach tour in America. There was a lot of scribbling in a notebook on that journey. Now I take a laptop with me when we travel. I always remember my mum telling me that I had a vivid imagination, so I guess that’s where the inspiration starts. Sometimes it could be something in a book that I‘m reading. Just a comment made about a person and I can start to weave a story around them, which could eventually turn into a book.

Who are your favourite romance authors, past and/or present?

I have to say Georgette Heyer and Barbara Cartland as past authors, not forgetting the Brontes and Jane Austen. I certainly can’t forget Jane Austen as the 3rd Book in my Duchess in Danger series, Dangerous Desire, was awarded a Jane Austen Complimentary Award. For present day authors I have a leaning toward Bella Andre, for contemporary. I think she writes the most sensual loves scenes, I only wish I could do half as well. For historical, Sarah MacLean, Ella Quinn, Stephanie Laurens, and more recently Elizabeth St Michel. 

If you had to pick one romance novel for me to read, which one would you recommend?

This is a really difficult question to answer as there are so many romantic books out there. I could say Bridgerton, which would be a no brainer. But I think I’ll suggest a contemporary novel, something from Bella Andre’s Sullivan series. I love this series and, as I previously said, I find her description of sex scenes sensual rather than sexual. I would choose, Can’t Help Falling in Love. As a bonus could I suggest a historical novel, set amid the American Civil war, Surrender to Honor, by Elizabeth St Michel. This is the second book in her Surrender series. The description of the events and the relationship between the main characters, where no quarter is asked and no quarter given, keeps you captivated until the last page.

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Gabe Sullivan risks his life every day as a firefighter in San Francisco. But after learning a brutal lesson about professional boundaries, he knows better than to risk his heart to his fire victims ever again. Especially the brave mother and daughter he saved from a deadly apartment fire…and can’t stop thinking about.

Megan Harris knows she owes the heroic firefighter everything for running into a burning building to save her and her seven-year-old daughter. Everything except her heart. Because after losing her navy pilot husband five years ago, she has vowed to never suffer through loving – and losing – a man with a dangerous job again.

Only, when Gabe and Megan meet again and uncontrollable flames of desire ignite between them, how can he possibly ignore her courage, determination, and beauty? And how can she deny not only his strong bond with her daughter…but the way his sweetly sensual kisses are challenging her to risk everything she’s been guarding for so long? If one – or both – of them aren’t careful, they just might end up falling in love.

Which romantic hero or heroine would you choose to spend your perfect romantic weekend with? Where would you go and what would you do?

I think it would have to be Ethan Slade from my own novel, Betrayal. A hunky rancher/businessman. I describe him as, “a rancher who exudes testosterone enough to make your toes curl.” Time spent on his ranch on the outskirts of Calgary, romantic picnics and riding into the foothills of the Canadian Rockies with him would be wonderful. That would keep me occupied all weekend. I always fancied myself as a cowgirl, then again perhaps I am in a parallel universe.

What is your favourite thing about being a member of the RNA? What do you think you have gained from membership?

I think the RNA is fantastic. I came through the New Writers Scheme which is an amazing opportunity for new writers. The organization is so helpful and I have gained friends, and an insight into writing and publishing that I would never have discovered. I also find the other members are most helpful if you have a problem and there does not appear to be any back biting or hostility amongst members, unless I’m walking about with my eyes and ears shut. I’m proud to be a member of this amazing organisation.

What one piece of advice or tip would you give to new writers starting out in the romance genre?

Never give up and keep reading. Read a much as you can, not only in your own genre, but push your boundaries and open your mind to what others are writing. Never take a rejection personally, and keep submitting, or look at the possibility of going independent. Although, I do think that to be published by a publisher will give a person an insight into editing and what is needed to promote their book. I have learned a lot from my editors and am carrying that into my independent publishing world.

Tell us about your most recent novel.

My most recent novel, which was published on 8th November 2021, was my first independently published novel. Apart from a first for independent publishing it was a first for the genre, as it’s a time travel novel, moving from 2009 back to the Regency period. It does contain sexual content, as do all of my novels as mentioned above. The title is Duchess Thro Time, and it tells the story of Kate who is celebrating her friend Charlotte’s (Charlie’s) birthday, at the country home of Charlie’s grandparents, Halford Park. Finding herself betrayed by her two best friends she flees to the top floor of the house. Finding a door she’s not seen before she follows the sound of music and finds herself back in 1811 and under the suspicious eye of the local spy master. What happens next takes her on a journey of discovery which I hope the reader will enjoy. I have to give credit here to my wonderful husband who has prepared the cover art work for both the e-book and print book. You can buy a copy of the book here.

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Kate Thornton loves Halford Park, the country estate of her best friend’s grandparents, the Duke and Duchess of Halford. A party celebrating (Charlotte’s) Charlie’s birthday, finds them both dressed in gowns from the Nineteenth century. As the party progresses Kate discovers she’s been betrayed by her two best friends. A confrontation and heated words send Kate fleeing to the top floor of the house and into an area she’s not seen before.Following the sound of music she finds herself among people dressed the same as her. Believing this to be Charlie’s idea of a joke she slips out into the garden. As she tries to obtain a service for her phone she is approached by Marcus Welford who escorts her back into the house. When there is a threat of danger he offers her protection. Discovering that Marcus Welford is the Sixth Duke of Halford, and Charlie’s several times removed grandfather is a shock. Unable to understand how she has travelled back to 1811 Kate is grateful to Marcus for keeping her safe, especially when she risks being accused of being a French spy. As they become close danger forces Marcus to extend his protection to marriage. A marriage of convenience soon turns to more.
Can this marriage work or must Marcus send her back to her own time?
And if he sends her back can either of them live without the other?

About the Author

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Lesley Field was born and grew up on Teesside, in the North East of England. She enjoyed riding and reading and later spent most of her working life pursuing personal injury claims on behalf of claimants. When retirement came she kicked off the restraints of the law and discovered her real self. What she discovered or re-discovered was writing something she’d dabbled in when she was in her teens. Although writing contemporary fiction set in Canada, she also writes historical fiction, set in London in and around the Regency period. Using her love of Canada and her enjoyment of horses she brings both to her books.

Lesley is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association coming in through their New Writers Scheme. Having now progressed to full membership she is also a member of ROMNA and a member of Promoting Yorkshire Authors. 

Happily living on the North Yorkshire coast with her husband she spends her days enjoying life, and writing.

Connect with Lesley:

Website: https://lesleyfield.com 

Facebook: Lesley Field

Twitter: @lesley_field2

Instagram: @lesley_field2

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Book Review: The Wolf Den by Elodie Harper #BookReview

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Sold by her mother. Enslaved in Pompeii’s brothel. Determined to survive. Her name is Amara. Welcome to the Wolf Den…

Amara was once a beloved daughter, until her father’s death plunged her family into penury. Now, she is owned by a man she despises and lives as a slave in Pompeii’s infamous brothel, her only value the desire she can stir in others.

But Amara’s spirit is far from broken. Sharp, resourceful and surrounded by women whose humour and dreams she shares, Amara comes to realise that everything in this city has its price. But how much will her freedom cost?

I had heard marvellous things about this book, but hadn’t really grasped what to expect before I picked it up. Whatever it was I thought I was going to read, it wasn’t this but, wow, what an incredible, accomplished and entertaining piece of work this is, I absolutely adored every page of it.

Set in the brothels of Pompeii, this book explores in colourful, vivid and violent detail the day to day realities of life in these establishments for the women forced to work and live there. The brutality of what they were subjected to on a daily basis, the degradations suffered, the indignities they had to go through to survive… but also the bravery, the friendship, the humour and the hope that kept them going, held them together and made those lives a little less bleak.

Elodie Harper endows these characters that are so distant in history from ourselves with a humanity to which we can all relate and makes them come to brilliant life. Every sense is awakened by her writing, until the reader is living and breathing life in Pompeii along with the characters. I was absolutely blown away with how vital her writing about the period is; if you didn’t know better, you might assume she had been there at the time.

I was mesmerised by this book. Once I picked it up, I could not put it down. It was one of the most compelling novels I have picked up these year. It made me wince, it made me outraged, it moved me, it made me laugh, it made me cry and it gave me hope. This book is the first of a trilogy, with the new book due next year and, as soon as I had finished, I went out and bought a copy in hardback in anticipation of collecting the full set. I absolutely cannot wait for Amara’s story to continue and The Wolf Den is undoubtedly going to be one of my top books of the year.

The Wolf Den is available now in all formats and you can buy a copy here.

About the Author

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Elodie Harper is a journalist and prize winning short story writer. Her story ‘Wild Swimming’ won the 2016 Bazaar of Bad Dreams short story competition, run by The Guardian and Hodder & Stoughton and judged by Stephen King. She is currently a reporter and presenter at ITV News Anglia, and before that worked as a producer for Channel 4 News.

Connect with Elodie:

Website: https://www.elodieharper.com/

Twitter: @ElodieITV

Instagram: @elodielharper

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Blog Tour: The Forgotten Maid by Jane Cable

The Forgotten Maid

I am delighted to be taking part in the blog tour today for the latest book by one of my favourite RNA authors, Jane Cable. The book is The Forgotten Maid, a dual timeline novel set in picturesque Cornwall. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part in the tour and to the author and publisher for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

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Two centuries apart, two lonely women seek a place to call home…

Cornwall, England, 2015

Nomadic project manager Anna Pritchard has arrived in the village of Porthnevek to oversee the construction of a trendy new glamping site. But with many members of the local community strongly opposed to the development, she quickly finds herself ostracised and isolated.

Seeking to ease her loneliness, Anna begins volunteering at a nearby National Trust house in Trelissick, once owned by the aristocratic Daniell family. In her new role, Anna soon feels her attachment to both Porthnevek and Trelissick deepening. And as she spends more and more time steeped in local history, it seems that the past and the present are beginning to collide…

Belgium, 1815

After losing her brother in the Battle of Waterloo, French army seamstress Thérèse Ruguel is taken to London by war artist Thomas Chalmers, becoming his reluctant muse. But with Thomas’s mother unhappy with the arrangement, Thérèse is soon sent to Cornwall as a lady’s maid to Elizabeth Daniell, a kindly relative of the Chalmers family.

Able to speak only a little English — and with the other servants suspicious of her — Thérèse feels lost and alienated. And when she discovers her brother may still be alive, she must decide whether to continue with her new life in England, or brave the dangerous journey back to her homeland…

What became of Thérèse? Can Anna unearth the ghosts of the past?

And has Anna finally found where she belongs…?

This book promises everything I love in a book. Gorgeous Cornish setting? Check. Dual timeline? Check. Exploring a fascinating period of history? Check. I went into it full of anticipation and I can tell you, the book fulfilled its promise in every respect.

The main protagonist is Anna, a rootless young woman who moves from project site to project site around the country with nowhere to call home and some unspecified trouble in her recent past that she can’t quite shake. When she arrives in Porthnevek, she is drawn to the wild beauty of the place, as well as its rich history, but is shocked at the hostility of the locals. She manages to carve out a little community for herself nevertheless, but becomes intrigued by one historical figure in particular.

Back in the Regency period, another young woman is feeling displaced, this time by war and loss, and is equally foreign and friendless in Cornwall. However, she has a saviour in her kind mistress and begins to settle into a new life, until her past also comes back to haunt her.

The parallels in the lives of Anna and Therese are subtly drawn but compelling, and I was equally entranced by the lives of these very different but connected women, separated by two hundred years of history. I had never really given any thought to what might happen to women affected by war in the 1800s, so Therese’s plight but an interesting and fresh spin on the Regency aspect of the story. We still get to read about all of the fabulous balls and social events that form the backbone of Regency novels, but the focus here in more on what happens below stairs and behind closed doors for women who have even fewer options than the monied classes. It is a sobering lesson in how far feminism has come in 200 years.

The detail of the effects of industrialisation on Cornwall, and the vast differences in benefits for the owners and the workers was also woven into the story beautifully and was enlightening. I personally love a book that I feel is teaching me something I didn’t know whilst I am reading it, and Jane has clearly done a lot of research for this book so it feels historically accurate. At the same time, you are not bombarded with historical fact, the balance the author has achieved is perfect.

This is also true in the division of the story between Anna and Therese. I liked the fact that the story switched between the timeline in chunks, rather than chapter to chapter. It allows the reader to develop and maintain a connection to each woman, rather than flitting between the two constantly, which can sometimes interrupt the establishment of relationship between the reader and the characters. I really felt immersed in each story and time period when I was reading those chapters. This was a book in which I did feel like I completely lost myself, and the read flew by very quickly, always the sign that I am engrossed in the tale the author is telling.

If I had any minor complaints they would be, firstly, that Anna is way too fickle with her affections, despite the fact that Jane was trying to persuade us she was exercising caution, and I wasn’t 100% buying it, particularly the first time. Also, I felt the storyline involving her family was not really committed to fully and should either have been developed more fully, or omitted altogether. These are me looking for things to criticise though, they did not detract in any meaningful way from my enjoyment of this book.

If you enjoy a dual timeline novel, and would be interested in a novel exploring the Regency period with a different spin, this is the book for you. It whisked me away and kept me entertained throughout, and I was left very satisfied with the whole reading experience. That’s a pretty good investment of 99p, if you ask me,

The Forgotten Maid is a beautiful time-shift romance set in Cornwall between the Regency era and the modern day. It is the first book in the Cornish Echoes Dual Timeline Mystery series and for a limited time is only 99p. You can buy a copy here.

Make sure you check out the rest of the tour:

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About the Author

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Jane Cable writes romance with a twist for Sapere Books, and The Forgotten Maid her first novel set in her adopted county of Cornwall. She is lucky enough to have been married to the love of her life for more than twenty-five years, and loves spending time outdoors, preferably close to the sea on the wild and rugged north Cornwall coast.

She also writes emotional women’s fiction as Eva Glyn, published by One More Chapter.

Connect with Jane:

Website: http://janecable.com

Facebook: Jane Cable

Twitter: @JaneCable

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Blog Tour: I’ll Be Home For Christmas by M W Arnold

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I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour today for the release of book three in The Air Transport Auxiliary Mystery Club series by M W Arnold, I’ll Be Home For Christmas. Thanks to Mick and Rachel of Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be part of the tour and to Mick for providing me with this great character interview for me to share with you today.

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A mysterious key left by her murdered sister, leads Air Transport Auxiliary pilot Betty Palmer on a journey of discovery and danger. Given up to an orphanage upon birth, the parents she’s long thought had no part in her life force themselves back in, purely out of greed and self-preservation.

Penny’s life is unexpectedly turned upside down by a potentially life-changing situation, which causes her wounded husband to question their marriage. No-one seems safe in this year of turmoil in the middle years of the war, as some relationships face breaking point whilst others become stronger.

Kidnap, crashes and dogfights, the girls of the Air Transport Auxiliary Mystery have never faced such dangers. To survive may not be enough as they must find the strength to rise above the most trying times yet of their lives.

Let’s go over now to one of the main characters in the novel, Betty Palmer, and have a chat to her, shall we?

So Betty, a little bird tells me you’re a colourful character. Would you care to comment?

That depends. Will everything I tell you in this interview be kept confidential? Specifically, from the police? Well, if that’s the best you can promise, I’ll just have to trust you. Yes, I suppose you could say I’ve dallied with my fair share of lively enterprises, but I’m really not sure how much I should tell you. I had an unusual childhood, something more akin to Oliver Twist, though a little more structured.

Now you really have my attention. You’ve got to elaborate.

Must I? Oh, very well. My twin sister and I were put into an orphanage because our parents only wanted a boy. You tend to grow up tough and quickly in those places and we quickly learned the only people we could totally trust and depend upon, were each other. Remember I mentioned Oliver Twist? We learned certain, skills as we grew older, which influenced what we did for a living once we were able to escape. That probably doesn’t sound as if were were…honest. Very true, but we did have our own code and only ever dealt with those who could afford to lose things or, who were evil. I know that sounds like some kind of thing you’d read in the legends of Robin Hood, but that’s where the similarities end; we didn’t give to the poor.

That’s quite a story. You mentioned a twin sister.

Yes, Eleanor. I’m very sad to tell you she was…murdered in January of 1942, so you’ll never be able to meet her. I know I didn’t go into details about what we did to make ends meet – sorry, but no promises are worth going to jail for – so I shall only say, she was a girl of undoubted skill in her chosen profession. Indeed, in certain circles, she was quite famous. You could even say that the corridors of power were lined with her pictures.

Perhaps we should move on. Are there any of your colleagues to which you are particularly drawn?

Really? You wish to put me on the spot. To be honest, after I lost my sister, I never expected to become close to anyone again. Certainly, I never intended to allow myself to. Then fate foisted three girls upon me to which I’ve grown inordinately fond, even though one is a Yank! They are all capable of causing me equal amounts of grief and joy so no, I don’t believe there is a single one of which I am fond over any other. I know that isn’t the answer you wanted but would it help if I also told you, I now believe I have the family I never believed I would ever get.

Do you remember where you were when this terrible war broke out? And what you were doing?

You really are determined to get me to say what I was doing, aren’t you? Well, sorry, I’m still going to keep that to myself, though I’m certain you have already made your own assumptions, those will have to do. Let me just say, I was busy valuing certain items my sister may have acquired in the course of her business. However, the very next day, I began to look into what I could do for my country. I didn’t think I was patriotic until I heard the wireless and then saw the headlines in the newspapers. I eventually joined the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force. Unfortunately, this was not a very good experience for me and I was very happy and also relieved when I found out about the formation of the Air Transport Auxiliary. I’ve found my freedom and true happiness amongst its members.

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I am sure this has whetted your appetite to find out more about Betty and her past and her experiences in the Air Transport Auxiliary. Well, I guess you had better buy a copy of I’ll Be Home For Christmas! You can find it here.

Make sure you follow the rest of the tour for reviews of the book and other great content:

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About the Author

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Mick spent fifteen-odd years roaming around the world, courtesy of HM Queen Elizabeth II – gawd bless her – before becoming a civilian and realizing what working for a living really was.

He loves traveling, and the music of the Beach Boys, Queen, Muse, and Bon Jovi. Books play a large part in his life, not only writing, but also reading and reviewing, as well as supporting his many author friends.

He’s the proud keeper of two Romanian Were-Cats bent on world domination, and enjoys the theatre and humoring his Manchester United-supporting wife. Finally, and most importantly, Mick is a full member of the Romantic Novelists Association. I’ll be Home for Christmas will be his third novel with The Wild Rose Press.

Connect with Mick:

Facebook: M W Arnold Author

Twitter: @mick859

Instagram: @mick859

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5BTjvD9Jp–rLfjB9hcd9g

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Friday Night Drinks with… Joan Schweighardt

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Welcome to November! It’s Friday again and I’m away at the moment, so I am fully relaxed and in a sociable mood. the perfect time to have Friday Night Drinks with another fabulous author. Tonight I am delighted to welcome to the blog… Joan Schweighardt.

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Welcome, Joan. Thank you for joining me for drinks this evening. First things first, what are you drinking?

Caipirinha! It’s a Brazilian drink, consisting of Cachaça (a spirit made from sugarcane juice), lots of fresh lime, and sugar. I generally stay away from sugar, but this is a special occasion.

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If we weren’t here in my virtual bar tonight, but were meeting in real life, where would you be taking me for a night out?

Since I’m starting off with a Brazilian drink and hoping you’ll join me and try one too, let’s go to Brazil. I know a great river/rainforest guide down there. He calls himself Carlos the Jaguar: He has a small boat and he takes tourists up and down the river, or he did, in the days I want to remember (pre COVID and pre all the mining and drilling that’s been going on forever but has really picked up in the last few years). Anyway, it’s a lovely night and the river will be as smooth as glass and the banks will be alive with the songs of insects and frogs, and, every now and then, curious screeches we can’t identify. 

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If you could invite two famous people, one male and one female, alive or dead, along on our night out, who would we be drinking with?

How about two Scots? I’m thinking Anne Donovan and Thomas Lipton. I’ve only read one of Anne Donovan’s novels, and but it was wonderful and I intend to read more. The one I read, Buddha Da, begins with this line: is “My da’s a nutter.” It’s a coming of age about a girl (the narrator) whose happy-go-lucky but none-too-spiritual father comes home one night and announces he’s going to take up meditation at the local Buddhist center. 

As for Thomas Lipton, he was actually born in Ireland but moved to Scotland very shortly thereafter. Here in the U.S., we really know him these days for his tea, but he was a very famous man back in the 1920s, here as well as in the UK, a large-hearted man who quit school at the age of 13 to help his parents run their Glasgow grocery shop and whose marketing genius made all of them fabulously wealthy. He didn’t sit on his money either; Lipton was a renowned philanthropist, always giving to the poor, and he made sure his employees at the various businesses he came to start (some in the U.S.) were fairly paid. (One of my fictional characters in my recent trilogy worked for him, so I have this firsthand.) He loved the sea, Lipton did, and he participated in the American Cup year after year—and never won. But he won the hearts of sea lovers everywhere with his personality and generous nature. 

So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?

I’m writing; I’m always writing. I’ve been writing since I was a little kid. I’ve always worked on my own projects, but I also made a career writing for other people. I’ve written for newspapers, PR companies, corporate clients and several private clients who had stories to tell but neither the time nor inclination to do so themselves. I’ve recently finished the trilogy I referred to above, and now I’m putting together an anthology with several other writers and completing a non-fiction about my younger sister, who died almost four years ago.

What has been your proudest moment since you started writing and what has been your biggest challenge?

By 2000 I had three novels published, and I had a friend who had written a brilliant novel, better than anything I’d ever written, but hadn’t been able to find a publisher for it, even with an agent. It bothered me so much that I decided that I would start a small publishing company and publish not only her novel but books for other people who were being passed over too. I told my friend I was going to publish her, and she was thrilled. And then I woke up a few mornings later and thought, What have I got myself into? What do I know about publishing, other than that I’ve had stuff published myself and I’ve done a bit of freelance for publishers? And how could I have forgotten that I’m really shy and suffer from imposter syndrome and seldom step out of my comfort zone?

Long story short, I did it, because I’d made a commitment. I’m proud of that, and I’m proud that I actually became a pretty good small publisher. The authors I published got interviews and book reviews and won awards. At some point the distributor I was working with went bankrupt (this is the challenging part), owing me and several other client publishers a lot of money. I found another distributor, but I could never get back on my feet, and so I shut down my little publishing company five years after I’d started it. Publishing was a roller coaster of an experience, especially since I freelanced for clients the whole time I was publishing. I learned so much—about myself, about the industry, even about unique ways to recover from a relatively big financial loss. I never regret doing it.

What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as you like, it’s just us talking after all!

I’d like to see my recently completed trilogy become a Netflix or Amazon Prime or whatever series. I wrote a story bible based on the three books and offering my vision of how they would work in a series, and I sent it to the one person in the film world that I have indirect access to. He liked it enough to ask me (indirectly) to send the three books, which I did. I’ve got my fingers crossed, though I know my chances are slim to non-existent.

What have you planned that you are really excited about?

I’m excited to see what my next big fiction project will be. I’m always happiest when I’m writing fiction. I’m waiting for the universe to point me toward it, so I don’t have much to say about it at this moment in time… which is fine, since, as mentioned above, I’ve got some nonfiction projects to keep myself busy.

I love to travel, and I’m currently drawing up a bucket list of things I’d like to do in the future. Where is your favourite place that you’ve been and what do you have at the top of your bucket list?

My favorite place is the South American rainforest. That’s why we’re sitting here, with Carlos the Jaguar making our caipirinhas and Thomas Lipton and Anne Donovan chatting away about the highlands. Another favorite place is Ocracoke Island, which is one of the barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina, and the only one that isn’t connected to the others by road. You have to take a ferry to get there. I’ve been to Ocracoke many times, in many seasons, with many different people. On my bucket list is the chance to stay there for a full month, in a big rental house from which friends and family can come and go, during the off season when it’s not so crowded.

Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself.

When I was a kid we were poor and my father could never make ends meet with his machinist job alone. So he did work on weekends for the supermarket we lived near, retrieving grocery carts people walked off with and picking up trash in the supermarket parking lot with a long stick that had a nail at the end of it. Oh was I embarrassed to see him out there, in his big army coat when it was cold, picking up other people’s trash and shoving it into a cloth bag he carried on his shoulder. I didn’t want anyone to know I was related to him. 

We live near an arroyo that has a bike path on one side and a dirt trail on the other. We walk our dog on the dirt trail, and it is always filthy, everything from candy wrappers to burger bags and soda cups to the tiny liquor bottles the night hawks leave behind. Once a week I take my trash grabber and a paper bag and pick up all the trash. My father is no longer among the living, but I always imagine he’s watching me, amused because I tried so hard not to be like him. And I always say something corny like, “Turns out I’m my father’s daughter after all,” in case he’s listening from the great wherever, to let him know I miss him and I don’t mind being like him one bit. 

That’s such a lovely sentiment! Books are my big passion and central to my blog and I’m always looking for recommendations. What one book would you give me and recommend as a ‘must-read’?

The Dogs of Babel by Carolyn Parkhurst is a wonderful story about a linguistics professor who tries to teach his dog to talk because the dog was the only witness to his wife’s death. Parkhurst never tells the reader what the poor professor is feeling; she only tells us what he is doing—and that has more power to make us feel his emotion than if she had spelled it out.

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A poignant and beautiful debut novel explores a man’s quest to unravel the mystery of his wife’s death with the help of the only witness — their Rhodesian ridgeback, Lorelei.

So, we’ve been drinking all evening. What is your failsafe plan to avoid a hangover and your go-to cure if you do end up with one?

I can drink as much as the next woman, so I don’t anticipate a hangover. But if I get one, I’ll take an aspirin and spend the day on the sofa with a book.

After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?

Maybe a nice hike in the mornings, and then back to the sofa with a good book, whether I’m hung over or not, in the afternoons. 

Sounds perfect. Joan, thank you so much for taking the time to chat to me this evening, I have thoroughly enjoyed myself.

The latest books by Joan Schweighardt, The Rivers Trilogy includes the novels Before We Died, Gifts for the Dead and River Aria. You can buy the book as a Kindle boxset here. All three books work as standalone novels, but to sum them up collectively:

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In 1908, two Irish American brothers leave their jobs on the Hudson River docks of Hoboken, New Jersey, to seek their fortunes tapping rubber trees in the Brazilian rainforest. They expect to encounter floods, snakes, and unfriendly competitors, but nothing prepares them for the fact that the Amazonian jungle will take most of their crew and that saving the life of one brother will require leaving the other behind.

The trilogy follows Henry Ford’s plot to desecrate the rainforests and own the rubber trade, the impacts of World War I and prohibition on daily American life, and, finally, the journey of a talented young soprano who travels in the latter part of the 1920s from her birthplace in Brazil to New York City, where she struggles to make peace with her Irish American father, while establishing herself in the world of metropolitan opera.

Joan Schweighardt is the author of nine novels, two memoirs, two children’s books and various magazine articles, including work in Parabola Magazine. She is a regular contributor to Occhi Magazine, for which she interviews writers, artists and filmmakers. In addition to her own projects, she has worked as an editor and ghostwriter for private and corporate clients for more than 25 years. She also had her own independent publishing company from 1999 to 2005. Several of her titles won awards, including a Barnes & Noble “Discover Great New Writers,” a ForeWord Magazine “Best Fiction of the Year,” and a Borders “Top Ten Read to Me.” And she has agented books for other writers, with sales to St. Martin’s, Red Hen, Wesleyan University Press and more.

Her most recent work is the Rivers Trilogy—Before We Died, Gifts for the Dead and River Aria—which moves back and forth between the New York metro area and the South American rainforests from the years 1908 through 1929.

You can connect further with Joan via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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Desert Island Books with… Lucy Morris

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This week I have packed off author Lucy Morris to my virtual desert island to kick back, relax and indulge herself in reading five of her favourite books to her heart’s content. Let’s see which five titles she has snuck on to her raft, shall we?

Book One – Dune by Frank Herbert

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Melange, or ‘spice’, is the most valuable – and rarest – element in the universe; a drug that does everything from increasing a person’s life-span to making intersteller travel possible. And it can only be found on a single planet: the inhospitable desert world Arrakis.

Whoever controls Arrakis controls the spice. And whoever controls the spice controls the universe.

When the Emperor transfers stewardship of Arrakis from the noble House Harkonnen to House Atreides, the Harkonnens fight back, murdering Duke Leto Atreides. Paul, his son, and Lady Jessica, his concubine, flee into the desert. On the point of death, they are rescued by a band for Fremen, the native people of Arrakis, who control Arrakis’ second great resource: the giant worms that burrow beneath the burning desert sands.

In order to avenge his father and retake Arrakis from the Harkonnens, Paul must earn the trust of the Fremen and lead a tiny army against the innumerable forces aligned against them.

And his journey will change the universe.

I love this book, and I’m super excited for the new film. 

I first read it when I was fifteen. I’d stayed up late one night, and the David Lynch 1984 adaptation suddenly came on the telly. I was entranced! The beautifully earnest Kyle MacLachlan, not to mention the sweaty and incredibly sexy Sting emerging from a random tube of steam! Hello first villain movie crush!

So, I gave the book a go…and loved it, going on to read the whole series. Which only gets more bonkers with each book. However, the first book, Dune, will always be my favourite.

I was obsessed with the crazy mix of science fiction, epic saga, and the extensively detailed civilisations described. I love writing worldbuilding to this day, and I’m not happy unless there’s a bit of drama and magic in my stories.

Book Two – Defy Not the Heart by Johanna Lindsey

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Reina seethes with rage over her fate: taken captive by the knight Ranulf — a golden giant of a man — who has pledged to deliver her to the nuptial bed of the despised Lord Rothwell. She will never accept such bondage — and Reina offers herself to her kidnapped instead, offering to make Ranulf a great lord…if he agrees to wed her.

But the brave knight desires much more than a marriage of convenience from this proud, headstrong lady who treats him with scorn yet makes his blood run hotter than liquid fire. She must come to him of her own free will — or Ranulf will take her. For the passion that consumes them both cannot long be denied — even though gravest peril surely awaits them on the heart’s trail to a destines and turbulent love.

This was the first romance I ever read, and it’s still my most treasured book. As well as the Fabio paperback from my mum’s collection, I also own it on my kindle for whenever I might need a comfort read. Honestly, I don’t tend to re-read books, but this one is my go to ‘warm hug’ of a book.

It’s a medieval romance with mercenary, Ranulf (a very viking-style hero), being paid to kidnap the heroine, Reina. She’s a small and pragmatic lady who knows she needs to marry soon to protect her kingdom from those who wish to steal it by force. My latest book ‘A Nun for the Viking Warrior’ is a nod to the ‘look’ of these two characters, as I have a giant softie hero and tiny bookish heroine.

Ranulf is welcomed into her castle when he fights off one such attack, only for him to steal her away in the middle of the night. Reina then convinces Ranulf to marry her —instead of delivering her to the old man who paid him to steal her away.

There’s so much I love about this book. The humour — the heroine’s gay best friend is hilarious, as is Ranulf’s ugly cat. There’s also so many delicious tropes thrown in that you can’t help but read it all in one sitting. Plus, there’s lots of lovely sweet romance, with the hero going from a big brute of a lover to taking the time to learn how to satisfy her properly.

I know Johanna Lindsey books are considered bodice rippers and aren’t very PC by today’s standards, but I love them, they’re pure fantasy and great fun.

Book Three – The Complete Poetry of Maya Angelou

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I absolutely love the poem ‘Still I rise’, it’s so beautiful and electric. 

‘You may write me down in history

With your bitter, twisted lies,

You may trod me in the very dirt

But still, like dust, I’ll rise.’

It’s like a call to arms for all the downtrodden people in the world, to rise up and be proud despite adversity. I think if I were shipwrecked on a desert island, I would sit and read aloud her poems to keep my spirits up, or commiserate my downfall depending on my mood.

Book Four – Wilderness Tips by Margaret Atwood

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A leathery bog-man transforms an old love affair; a sweet, gruesome gift is sent by the wife of an ex-lover; landscape paintings are haunted by the ghost of a young girl.

This dazzling collection of ten short stories takes us into familiar Atwood territory to reveal the logic of irrational behaviour and the many textures lying beneath ordinary life.

Margaret Atwood is a sensational writer, and ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ should be required reading for every adult on the planet in my opinion. I find her ‘MaddAddam’ books fascinating to read and love the crazy ideas she comes up with.

But for a desert island, I would take her collection of short stories. Each one is bizarre and fascinating. However, one of her stories from this collection has always haunted me. The girl in the landscape painting, in ‘Death by Landscape’ it’s so poignant and eerie.

Book Five – The Poetic Edda: Stories of the Norse Gods and Heroes  by Jackson Crawford

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“The poems of the Poetic Edda have waited a long time for a Modern English translation that would do them justice. Here it is at last (Odin be praised!) and well worth the wait. These amazing texts from a 13th-century Icelandic manuscript are of huge historical, mythological and literary importance, containing the lion’s share of information that survives today about the gods and heroes of pre-Christian Scandinavians, their unique vision of the beginning and end of the world, etc.

Jackson Crawford’s modern versions of these poems are authoritative and fluent and often very gripping.  With their individual headnotes and complementary general introduction, they supply today’s readers with most of what they need to know in order to understand and appreciate the beliefs, motivations, and values of the Vikings.” –Dick Ringler, Professor Emeritus of English and Scandinavian Studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison

This is a book/text I’ve only ever dipped in and out of. In my research I’ve read countless books on the Viking era, and read many translations of the old Norse myths. But I’ve never actually read the original text fully. So, as I’ve plenty of time to spare on my desert island, it’d be good to read it. To double check all the other books gave an accurate rendition!

I’ve always loved the old Norse myths and legends, and had a children’s version of them that I read over and over. I love how the Gods are portrayed as real people, with flaws and vices just like the rest of us. They can also die, and Ragnarok (the end of days) is as much of a threat to them as death is to us, and yet there’s a beautiful cycle to the stories. In the same way that the seasons come and go. Ragnarok will lead to everyone’s death, but then all the God’s will be reborn again to play out the same story once again, in an endless turning of the wheel of time.

I also really like how Old Norse myths seem to closely relate to Roman and Greek myths. There’s an interesting familiarity to myths and old religions. As if there’s a shared consciousness that brought them about, or, more likely, they stole pieces they liked and incorporated them into their own tales…much like how they lived raiding from other people, or settling in new lands.

My luxury item

Irn Bru. I love the Scottish pop and couldn’t live without it! Tea would come a close second. Maybe, I should have a tea bush…so I can always have tea? As I think my iron bru would run out very quickly, and I’d just be left with a load of empty cans!

About the Author

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Lucy Morris has always been obsessed with myths and legends. Her books blend sweeping romance with vivid worldbuilding to whisk you away to another time and place filled with adventure. Expect passion, drama, and vibrant characters.

Lucy lives in Essex, UK, with her husband, two children, and two cats. She has a massively sweet tooth and loves Terry’s chocolate oranges and Irn-Bru. In her spare time, she likes to explore castles with her family, or drink bubbly with her friends.

A member of the UK Romantic Novelists’ Association. In 2020 she was delighted to accept a two-book deal with Harlequin after submitting her story to the Warriors Wanted submission blitz for Viking, Medieval, and Highlander romances.

She hasn’t looked back since.

Lucy’s latest book for Harlequin Mills and Boon, A Nun for the Viking Warrior, is out now and you can buy a copy here.

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Forced to wed the warrior

Falling for the man…

Noblewoman Amée Évreux had pledged her life to God, until her father promised her in marriage to thundering Norseman Jorund Jötunnson. After escaping her overbearing father, Amée vows never to fall under another man’s thumb, but her resistance to being Jorund’s wife turns to desire as she gets to know her intriguing new husband. For beneath his fierce exterior she’s glimpsed an unexpectedly pure heart. If only she can penetrate the fortress that surrounds it…

Lucy is currently running a competition with some fabulous prizes, including signed books from an array of Historical Romance Authors. All you need to do to enter is sign up for her website newsletter.

Connect with Lucy:

Website: www.lucyMorrisRomance.com

Facebook: Lucy Morris Author

Twitter: @LMorris_Author

Instagram: @lucymorris.author

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Blog Blitz: The Secrets of Hawthorn Place by Jenni Keer #Extract

The Secrets of Hawthorn Place

I am delighted to be taking part in the blog blitz for the delightful new book by author, Jenni Keer, The Secrets of Hawthorn Place. I haven’t yet managed to read the book, but I will be reviewing it in a few weeks time. For now, I have an appetite-whetting extract to share with you. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part and to the author for allowing me to share this extract with you today.

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Two houses, hundreds of miles apart…yet connected always.

When life throws Molly Butterfield a curveball, she decides to spend some time with her recently widowed granddad, Wally, at Hawthorn Place, his quirky Victorian house on the Dorset coast.

But cosseted Molly struggles to look after herself, never mind her grieving granddad, until the accidental discovery of an identical Art and Crafts house on the Norfolk coast offers her an unexpected purpose, as well as revealing a bewildering mystery.

Discovering that both Hawthorn Place and Acacia House were designed by architect Percy Gladwell, Molly uncovers the secret of a love which linked them, so powerful it defied reason.

What follows is a summer which will change Molly for ever…

Now, over to Jenni to introduce her extract.

Thank you so much for visiting Julie’s blog today. Here is an extract from The Secrets of Hawthorn Place. In the contemporary story, Molly has just arrived in Dorset to stay with her grieving grandfather, and we get a feel for his unusual house through her eyes. Walter isn’t coping with the death of his wife and spoilt Molly is in for a shock as she struggles to take care of him. Little does she know, this is the start of a summer that will change everything, especially when she stumbles across an unbelievable secret in the very heart of the house.

I stood at the top of the steep stone steps and looked down into a dip of tree-shielded land. From the road you’d never guess there was a house nestled at the bottom. It reminded me of childish efforts to stop someone copying my work at school by covering the page – as if the trees were huge hands shielding it from prying eyes. In fact, the closest you could get a car was the main road above, where Brian’s ostentatious Audi was now parked ahead of Granddad’s ancient Fiat. 

We clambered down the steps and my breath caught in my throat as I looked over to Hawthorn Place. With one foot on the bottom step, and the other on the ancient herringbone brick path that curled around the house, I felt as if I was standing over the meridian line in Greenwich. It was a point where I was in two places at once – two different worlds. I could never understand why flint and brick had been used for the house, when the surrounding landscape was awash with scars of pale stone, exposed through the green of the fields and hills. Portland was only a few miles away, famous for its quarries, and the obvious choice of building material. The property was odd not only in its construction, but also its location. It simply didn’t belong here, even though I wasn’t sure where it did belong.

‘I could murder a cup of tea,’ I announced, as I tumbled into the hallway and threw my arms about my dear old Granddad. He looked slightly startled by my exuberance but I’m embarrassingly tactile. Probably the Italian in me.

I abandoned my shoes and hooked my rucksack over the quirky crenellated post at the bottom of the main oak staircase. Identical posts were dotted up the stairs, and always reminded me of tiny wooden castles in the air – all part of the charm and mystery of the house.

‘I’ll put the kettle on, love,’ Granddad said.

‘Molly is capable of doing that. You’re not to run around after her, Dad.’

It wasn’t said unkindly, but I still glared at him. 

‘I’ll make it, Granddad. Sorry. You don’t have to wait on me.’

‘Nonsense, I bet you two are gasping.’ He toddled off to the kitchen, as Brian parked my suitcase at the foot of the stairs and, neither of us commenting on the muddy trail over the cluttered floor, we followed behind… 

I hope readers are curious about the quirky house, and are also pulled to the historical thread, where we follow the Arts and Crafts architect, Percy Gladwell, and discover why Hawthorn Place is so special to him. Thanks so much for letting me share this extract.

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I’m sure, like me, you now can’t wait to read this book and, if so, you can buy a copy here.

Make sure to check out some of the other blogs participating in the blitz, as detailed on the poster below:

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About the Author

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Jenni Keer is a history graduate who embarked on a career in contract flooring before settling in the middle of the Suffolk countryside with her antique furniture restorer husband. She has valiantly attempted to master the ancient art of housework but with four teenage boys in the house it remains a mystery. Instead, she spends her time at the keyboard writing commercial women’s fiction to combat the testosterone-fuelled atmosphere, with her number one fan #Blindcat by her side. Much younger in her head than she is on paper, she adores any excuse for fancy-dress and is part of a disco formation dance team.

Jenni is also the author of The Hopes and Dreams of Lucy Baker and The Unexpected Life of Maisie Meadows.

Connect with Jenni:

Facebook: Jenni Keer

Twitter: @JenniKeer

Instagram: @JenniKeer

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Blog Tour: The Room in the Attic by Louise Douglas #BookReview

The Room in the Attic

Delighted to be taking my turn on the blog tour for The Room in the Attic by Louise Douglas today. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part, and to the author and publisher for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

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A child who does not know her name…

In 1903 fishermen find a wrecked boat containing a woman, who has been badly beaten, and a young girl. An ambulance is sent for, and the two survivors are taken to All Hallows, the imposing asylum, hidden deep on Dartmoor. The woman remains in a coma, but the little girl, Harriet, awakens and is taken to an attic room, far away from the noise of the asylum, and is put in the care of Nurse Emma Everdeen.

Two motherless boys banished to boarding school…

In 1993, All Hallows is now a boarding school. Following his mother’s death and his father’s hasty remarriage, Lewis Tyler is banished to Dartmoor, stripped of his fashionable clothes, shorn of his long hair, and left feeling more alone than ever. There he meets Isak, another lost soul, and whilst refurbishment of the dormitories is taking place, the boys are marooned up in the attic, in an old wing of the school.

Cries and calls from the past that can no longer be ignored…

All Hallows is a building full of memories, whispers, cries from the past. As Lewis and Isak learn more about the fate of Harriet, and Nurse Emma’s desperate fight to keep the little girl safe, it soon becomes clear there are ghosts who are still restless.

Are they ghosts the boys hear at night in the room above, are they the unquiet souls from the asylum still caught between the walls? And can Lewis and Isak bring peace to All Hallows before the past breaks them first…

Goodness, what did I just read? From the very opening chapters of this new book by Louise Douglas, my heart was pounding, I was holding my breath, the hairs on the back of my neck were standing on end, and I was absolutely glued to the page.

I started reading this book very late one night just after I had gone to bed, which was a mistake because the book creeped me out right from the off. As soon as you crawl between the pages, you know you are reading something that is going to keep you on the edge of your nerves, so it may not be recommended for readers of a very nervous disposition. Set in an old asylum which then became a strict boarding school in the midst of the brooding expanse of Dartmoor, there could not be a creepier setting for a story. When I was young, I was addicted to the Famous Five books by Enid Blyton. The thirteenth (coincidence?) of these, Five Go To Mystery Moor, involved spooky goings on on a deserted moor and it scared the bejesus out of my as a kid, so any ghost story set on a moor is guaranteed to give me the wiggins. The author does an absolutely amazing job of bringing the very disturbing setting to vivid life, both in its incarnation as an asylum and a boarding school, a little too vividly for those with active imaginations perhaps!

The story line is divided between three timelines – modern day, 1993 when All Hallows was a boarding school, and the turn of the twentieth century when it was an asylum for those people deemed insane. The narrator in the first two timelines is Lewis Tyler, as a grown man and when he was a pupil at the school. Back in time, we are following the story of Emma Everdeen, a nurse at the asylum. The book switched between the stories with ease, never breaking the tension, and deftly entwining them to great effect. Each of the characters hooked me in, and I was truly feeling genuine fear for all of them by the end. The storytelling is so skilful that it is impossible not to become fully invested in the outcome for all involved.

The story is a clever and intriguing mix of thriller, mystery, ghost story, family drama and exploration of social issues affecting women in the early 1900s. There is something here to appeal to every type of reader, and I can’t imagine there are many people who would not enjoy it (other than those who really don’t enjoy being kept on the edge of their nerves throughout a book.) You can tell that the author did a lot of research into the historical aspects of the book, it is beautifully rich in detail, but this is only used to enhance and not detract from the story. I am honestly so impressed with the authors skill in balancing all the different aspects of this novel to deliver an engrossing, affecting and thrilling story. I think my heart has only just slowed back to its normal speed after finishing it.

I absolutely loved this book, I cannot recommend it highly enough. Perfect October reading, buy it immediately.

The Room in the Attic is out now in all formats and you can buy a copy here.

Award-winning author Louise Douglas was a recent guest on the blog, and you can read my fascinating interview with her here.

Make sure you check out some of the other reviews posted by the other marvellous bloggers taking part in the tour:

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About the Author

Louise

Louise Douglas is the bestselling and brilliantly reviewed author of 6 novels including The Love of my Life and Missing You – a RNA award winner. The Secrets Between Us was a Richard and Judy Book Club pick. She lives in the West Country. Louise’s first book for Boldwood, The House by the Sea was published in March 2020.

Connect with Louise:

Facebook: Louise Douglas Author

Twitter: @LouiseDouglas3

Instagram: @louisedouglas3

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