Romancing The Romance Authors with… Lynne Shelby

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The final ever Romancing The Romance Authors! It’s been great fun doing this feature over the past 18 months but it’s retiring now, ready for a new feature in January. Let’s send it off with a bang by talking romance with author… Lynne Shelby.

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

I write contemporary romance set in the world of theatre and film or in a foreign location that I have enjoyed visiting. I was first published in 2015, when my debut novel, French Kissing, won a national writing competition and since then I have had four more novels published. I am currently editing my sixth novel, Rome for the Summer, which will be published in 2022.

Why romance?

Before I wrote romance, I tried my hand at writing science fiction, fantasy, historical and mainstream stories, but about ten years ago, I ‘discovered’ romantic fiction and realised that with my stories all having a romantic relationship at their centre, romance is what I’d been writing all along without realising it. I enjoy writing (and reading) romance because, with it’s assurance of a happy-ever-after or happy-for-now ending (or even a hopefully-ever-after ending) it is a genre whose books leave the reader feeling positive about life and love, whatever tribulations the heroine and hero have to overcome along the way. 

What inspires your stories?

I find that almost anything can inspire a story. For example, a photograph or a painting or visiting a new place can spark an idea. My most recent novel, Love on Location, was inspired by a visit to Greece when I knew I simply had to write a book set in that beautiful country. I also get a lot of ideas for stories from overheard conversations on trains or buses, or even in the queue at the supermarket!

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

Jane Austen, Miranda Dickinson, Paige Toon, Kate Eberlen, Jojo Moyes

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

This is a very hard question to answer as there are so many fabulous romance novels to choose from, but I would have to say Pride and Prejudice as it sets the standard for every romance novel that came after it.

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

It has to be Mr Darcy! I’d hope to be invited to a ball at Pemberley where I would dance ‘til dawn.

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

My favourite thing about being a member of the RNA is that events such as the Annual Conference have given me the opportunity to meet so many wonderful authors who write in the romance genre. RNA members are very generous with their advice, and if anyone has a question about writing there is usually someone in the organization who can answer it. Besides which, it’s great to meet other people who don’t look at you askance when you talk about the people in your head! I have learned so much about writing since being in the RNA and made some amazing writer friends.

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

Keep going, even when you find writing hard – it’s perseverance that turns a writer into a published author.

Tell us about your most recent novel. 

My most recent novel, Love On Location, is a contemporary romance set in the world of film-making, in London, Athens and on a fictional Greek island that bears more than a passing resemblance to Santorini.

When screenwriter Laurel Martin is asked to rewrite the script for a new timeslip movie set in ancient Greece, she expects the film’s historical advisor to be an elderly academic. But when she meets Professor Jason Harding, a young and unexpectedly handsome archaeologist with his own ideas about the script, she finds that the job isn’t going to be as simple as she first thought…

A screenwriter. An archaeologist. A film crew on location on an idyllic Greek island. Will movie magic lead to real life romance?

The book is available in ebook and paperback formats here.

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When screenwriter Laurel Martin is hired to rewrite the script for a new timeslip movie, she expects the historical advisor hired by the studio to be an elderly academic who won’t interfere too much with her writing. But when she meets Professor Jason Harding, a young and unexpectedly handsome archaeologist who has his own ideas about the script, she realises the job isn’t going to be as simple as she first thought.

As their work takes them from arguing over historical details in a cramped London office to discovering the hidden beauties of a Greek island, Laurel and Jason’s relationship starts to echo the romance of their script.

But with Laurel’s actor ex-boyfriend making trouble at home, and constant issues with the volatile director, will Laurel and Jason ever be able to write the happy ending for their own story?

About the Author

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Lynne Shelby writes contemporary women’s fiction and romance. When not writing or reading, Lynne can usually be found at the theatre or exploring a foreign city with her writer’s notebook, camera and sketchbook in hand. She lives in London with her husband, and has three adult children who live nearby.

Connect with Lynne:

Website: https://www.lynneshelby.com

Blog:  https://www.lynneshelby.com/blog-1

Facebook: LynneShelbyWriter

Twitter: @LynneShelby5

Instagram: lynneshelbywriter

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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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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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Romancing The Romance Authors with… Kathy Strobos

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I am delighted to be chatting today to another romance author about why she loves and writes in the genre. Please welcome to the blog, author… Kathy Strobos.

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

I’ve written three books so far, all of which have been through the RNA New Writer’s Scheme. I’ve also taken a lot of classes. My first writing course was the Penguin UK Writer’s Academy “Constructing a Novel” course, and my teacher said the exchange between Audrey and Eve (two characters in Partner Pursuit) was “sparky.” That made my month. I realized I could write commercial fiction—and not just legal briefs. I took some more courses and finished the novel. I submitted it to the RNA New Writer’s Scheme. I received very positive feedback that encouraged me to keep writing. I think I floated on air for several weeks as a result of this final line of my first report: “In this rollercoaster narrative, the plot is deftly handled, and the conclusion is fun. Partner Pursuit has plenty of the feel-good factor that makes this romantic comedy such an enjoyable and satisfactory read.” 

I published Partner Pursuit in October. It was briefly in the Amazon Top 50 Best Sellers for City Life and Humorous American Literature in paperback. I will publish Is This for Real? in January and then publish Caper Crush in May 2022. And then write some more. 

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An opposites attract, friends-to-lovers, slow burn, fake dating romantic comedy

Love is all fun and games until somebody gets hurt. Usually me. I admit it, I’m a relationship-recluse. Ironic, given that I write romantic comedies. So, I’m on a sabbatical from dating.

Which is why fake dating my best friend Rory is fool-proof. Rory suggested it because he needed a date for work functions. And I can use our experiences as fodder for my romcom novel. Plus, my sister doesn’t know it’s not real and she is thrilled that I’m not walling myself off emotionally. Her words, not mine. But I do wish she would stop saying that she always suspected there was something more between me and Rory. She should realize that we’ve been friends forever so I’m immune to his appeal. 

We would never work. Rory is such a romantic; he still believes in that perfect love similar to his parents’ marriage. My parents fought bitterly. So, we are better off as friends. I can’t risk losing our friendship, even if this might be my chance—before his ex-girlfriend wins him back.  

Those flickers of attraction? Easily extinguished by cold water reality—like a two-mile hike in drenching rain over sand with wheelie luggage. 

But our relationship is not sticking to the plot—or is it?

I think that they are all a mix of women’s fiction with romance/romantic comedy/chicklit. Partner Pursuit focuses a lot on Audrey’s journey and her legal career. Is This for Real? is more focused on the romance. And Caper Crush is more focused on the romantic comedy.

Why romance?

I read romance, probably because I like to read stories with a HEA. And it took me awhile to find my husband, so I had a lot of dating stories (good and bad) while I was single. Audrey’s bad date in Partner Pursuit was based on one of my dates, although I made it much worse in the book. 

What inspires your stories?

I initially started drafting Partner Pursuit because I watched a really bad romcom, and I thought, I could write a better one. I really miss the brilliant romcoms like When Harry Met Sally, Bridget Jones, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days and The Proposal. So, I started writing scenes of Partner Pursuit. Partner Pursuit was also inspired by my having a hard time finding work/life balance while working as a corporate lawyer. But I also did make a lot of great friendships at the office, so I also wanted to convey those friendships. 

I love fake dating stories and friends-to-lovers so that inspired Is This For Real?

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

Jane Austen, Sophie Kinsella, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Giulia Skye, Jill Mansell, Helen Fielding, Hester Browne, Judith McNaught

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

The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella. Kinsella is brilliant at comedy. 

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Samantha thrives under pressure. A high-powered London lawyer, all she can concentrate on is taking the next step in her career; eating, sleeping, seeing friends – even taking a breath – will have to wait.

But just when she’s about to get everything she has ever wanted, Samantha makes a mistake. A fifty-million-pound, career-destroying mistake. Unable to face the consequences, she does the unimaginable and runs away…

Catching the first train she can, she finds herself in the countryside, outside a beautiful grand house. Mistaken for another woman, she falls into a new job as the family’s housekeeper.

Disaster ensues. In a blink, her life has shifted from writing briefs to washing them – and she has no idea how to work the washing machine. Let alone the oven. A former master of the takeaway menu, she’s now expected to whip up fine cuisine.

But gradually, she falls in love with her new life in a wholly unexpected way. Will her employers ever discover the truth? Will Samantha’s old life ever catch up with her? And if it does…will she want it back?

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

That is super difficult. After much consideration, I’ve picked Nelson of the Hester Browne Little Lady Agency series. For my perfect romantic weekend, we would fly to Costa Rica. We could go sailing there (Nelson can sail), do a little easy hiking, have romantic dinners with beach breezes etc., and spend some time at the beach. 

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

I have gained so much. First, my favorite thing is the friendships I have made. I made so many friends when I was at the RNA Conference in Leeds. That was an amazing experience. Everybody was so friendly. I went not knowing anybody.

I met my now-critique partner Giulia Skye on the train to Leeds, and we immediately clicked as we discussed The Hating Game and the novels of Susan Elizabeth Phillips. Now we email each other weekly, and she is the one who encouraged me to indie-publish. But I’ve made a lot of friends at the RNA (also online via the Facebook groups). It is great being friends with other writers.

Second, I think the critiques in the NWS are invaluable. 

Third, I also enjoy the camaraderie, friendships and mentoring in the Facebook groups. 

Also, the RNA Conference, the online classes and the magazine articles are really helpful. I had a 1-to-1 consultation for my Partner Pursuit blurb at the RNA conference this past summer.

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

Join the RNA New Writer’s Scheme. (If I am only allowed one piece of advice). Second, just write. You can fix a rough draft. For me, I get better ideas when I re-read what I’ve written. 

Tell us about your most recent novel.

Audrey is a workaholic lawyer. She is trying to make partner—with only six months until the decision. She’s torn because she’s stressed by working so much, but she also loves being a lawyer and the analytical thrills. And then she meets Jake.

Jake is a fun-loving music marketing executive. He definitely doesn’t want to date a workaholic lawyer—because his dad was one, and his dad often put work before family. I made him a music marketing executive because when I became in-house counsel, I worked for the parent company of a music company, among other things. When I would ride up in the elevator in the morning, other people would talk about how they’d been up all night at a concert. I thought, “wow, that’s so different than my life writing a brief or compliance policy until late at night.” You can buy a copy of Partner Pursuit in ebook and paperback here.

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When a workaholic lawyer meets a fun-loving music marketing executive for opposites attract, friends-to-lovers adventures, which partnership will she choose?

Workaholic lawyer Audrey Willems is not going to take any chances with her bid to become a partner at her New York law firm—especially with only six months until the decision. 

Until she bumps into Jake—her new neighbor. Jake is a fun-loving music marketing executive who might just be The One.

He’s funny, caring, supportive—and able to kill water bugs in the bathroom.

But Jake will never date a woman married to her job. His father was a workaholic lawyer who never had time for family. 

And she’s just got the case of a lifetime—the one she needs to win to make partner.  Working 24/7 at the office may not even be enough hours to pull off a victory.

If only she had not met him now.

Audrey is determined to prove that she can juggle work and romance—even if managing court cases, candlelit dinners, and bike rides around Manhattan is a lot harder than it looks.  She keeps canceling dates for yet another case crisis.

But when making partner is like a game of musical chairs and the last seat is a business-class alone, which partnership will she choose?

About the Author

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Kathy Strobos is a writer living in New York City with her husband and two children, amid a growing collection of books, toys and dollhouses. She grew up in New York City and graduated from Stuyvesant High School, Harvard-Radcliffe University magna cum laude, and Columbia Law School. She spent two semesters abroad at the Universiteit van Amsterdam. She previously worked as a lawyer. She left law to pursue her dream of writing fiction full-time and getting in shape. She is still working on getting in shape.

Connect with Kathy:

Website: https://kathystrobos.com

Facebook: Kathy Strobos Rewrites

Twitter: @KathyStrobos

Instagram: @kathystroboswriter

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Romancing The Romance Authors with… Victoria Walker

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Today I am delighted to be discussing the writing of romance and all things love-related with author… Victoria Walter.

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

I write contemporary romance novels and I’ve just self-published my first book. I have re-written it so many times and I love the hero, Jonas, so much I just had to get him out there! I’ve written another three books since and am querying with publishers for one of those at the moment. 

Why romance?

I grew up reading Enid Blyton, especially Malory Towers and the Famous Five. My year 6 teacher was pretty exasperated about my lack of author variety and tried to make me read Douglas Adams – which I did much later on and loved – but I knew that I could rely on Enid Blyton to tell me a story I wanted to read. That philosophy is probably why I like romance. It’s sometimes described as formulaic but you will never read the same book twice. I love the initial spark of attraction and the journey as it builds into a relationship between the main characters. There is always a will they/won’t they element to a romance that keeps me reading on, wondering if there will be a happy ever after even though I know there will be!

What inspires your stories?

So far my books have been inspired by places I’ve visited. Before I started writing my first novel, I’d been reading a lot of romances set in New York and for some reason thought that’s where my novel should be set, even though I’d never been there. So when I went to Reykjavik and fell in love with the place, I thought it was easily as romantic as New York and would be the perfect backdrop for a love story.

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

I love Jilly Cooper. She’s not perhaps a traditional romance author but some of her heroes are just knee-weakeningly gorgeous. I’m thinking of Luke Alderton in Polo when I say that. I also love anything by Sarah Morgan. I felt so lucky when I discovered her and could then plough through her back catalogue.

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

Oooh, it’s so hard to choose one but I’m going to go with Not Your Cinderella by Kate Johnson because I’ve read it at least three times and I love the chemistry between Jamie and Clodagh and Jamie is probably my perfect man and is strikingly similar to my husband now that I think about it. Apart from the royal element. I love the third book in the same series too, Not Your Knight in Shining Armour which has a fabulous heroine.

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The most eligible bachelor in the country? All Jamie wants to do is finish his PhD and live a quiet life, but since he’s actually Prince Jamie and he’s been famous since the minute he was born, that’s not likely to happen.

Clodagh doesn’t believe in fairytales, and no handsome prince is going to sweep her off her feet. She’s worked too hard to escape the wrong side of the tracks, and the last thing she needs is the world’s press finding out who she truly is.

But Jamie and Clodagh can’t fight the heat between them, and when the eyes of the world turn on them the pressure is only going to rise. Can true love conquer all? Can the fairytale come true? And what kind of girl wears a glass slipper anyway?

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’d head to Snow Crystal resort and spend the weekend with Jackson O’Neill from Sleigh Bells in the Snow by Sarah Morgan. We’d take a sleigh ride through the forest, snuggled together underneath plenty of blankets, and end up at the chocolate shack for a Bailey’s hot chocolate. He’d take me onto the slopes and teach me how to ski. I’d be brilliant obviously but it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world if I fell over and needed a hand to get up. We’d relax in a hot tub with a glass of rose before he’d cook an amazing dinner which we’d eat by candlelight in his cosy log cabin. And if we ended up in a nest of rugs and blankets on the floor in front of the roaring fire while the snow fell gently outside, that’d be the perfect end to the day and would probably see us through the rest of the weekend.

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

My favourite thing about the RNA are the people I’ve become friends with. Everyone is so willing to share their experience and are so supportive to new writers and have the unwavering belief that getting published is just a matter of perseverance. I’ve been on the New Writers’ Scheme for five years and I would never have managed to write a novel worthy of anyone reading it without the feedback from the reports or the access to the amazing conferences. 

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

Join the RNA New Writers’ Scheme and go to the annual conference! And read as much as you write in the genre you’re writing.

Tell us about your most recent novel.

Snug in Iceland is a winter romance which follows Rachel’s journey from London to Reykjavik as she is tasked with setting up a new retail store for the company she works for, Snug. Rachel relishes the opportunity to take a break from her everyday life, even her boyfriend Adam, to see if her absence might inject a spark into their staid relationship. Iceland captures Rachel’s imagination and she realises with the help of tour guide, Jonas, that there is more to life than the one she was living in London and she has to decide whether going back to the same life is what she really wants. There are lots of great Icelandic locations which readers have really loved so far with lots of reviewers saying they want to visit. Iceland is amazing. I can’t wait to go again myself. My husband is keen to go in the summer for a change but I think the magic is in the ice and snow.

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Rachel Richards is stuck in a rut. Her boyfriend Adam barely notices her most of the time and her life in London isn’t as exciting as it should be. When the company she works for, Snug, asks her to oversee the opening of a new store in Iceland, she jumps at the chance for a change of scenery.

Exploring Reykjavik with the help of Icelandic tour guide Jonas, Rachel discovers that life is out there waiting to be lived. As she falls in love with Iceland, she begins to see what is important to her and wonders whether the life she left behind is what she wants after all…

You can buy a copy of Snug in Iceland in paperback and ebook formats here.

About the Author

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Victoria Walker has been writing romantic fiction since a visit to Iceland in 2014 inspired her first novel. As well as writing, she spends her free time dressmaking, knitting and reading an inordinate amount of contemporary romance, occasionally punctuated by the odd psychological thriller and saga.
In the past she has worked as a cinema projectionist, a knitting and sewing tutor and has owned a yarn store, all things which will no doubt appear in her books if they haven’t already.
Victoria lives in the Malvern Hills with her husband and two teenage children. 

Connect with Victoria:

Website: https://www.victoriaauthor.co.uk

Facebook: Victoria Walker

Twitter: @4victoriawalker

Instagram @victoriamakes

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Romancing The Romance Authors with… Natalie Normann

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Today’s interviewee is a previous guest of the blog and lovely author and I am really looking forward to hearing more about her journey in romance writing. It is the fabulous… Natalie Normann.

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

I have been a published author since 1995. Most of my books in Norwegian have been historical romance series, but I’ve also written thrillers and children’s horror stories. Last year I published two contemporary romance books with One More Chapter, A Very Hygge Holidays series. Right now I’m working on a new story, and I’m having a blast with it. Never thought I’d be writing in English, so that’s a major change in my journey. 

Why romance? 

I love romance! I’ve always written what I love to read myself, and romance is my favourite genre. Nothing beats a well written romance with a happy ending. 

What inspires your stories? 

Food for one thing, I love writing about food. Not much of a cook myself, but I do like to eat. And I’m really thrilled to be writing stories set in Norway. Everybody knows about Nordic Noir, where the landscape is always dark and gloomy, and then someone horribly gets killed. I’m happy to write Nordic Romance that shows the beauty of Norway. 

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

I have a long, long list of favourites. I love Jane Eyre, have done since the first time I read it. I love the blockbusters from when I grew up; writers like Colleen McCullough and Barbara Bradford Taylor. After joining the RNA, I have discovered so many new and amazing writers. Jan Baynham writes wonderful sagas, Christina Courtney’s viking stories are just wow, Sue McDonagh’s contemporary romances set in Wales are a true delight, and I’m always looking forward to a new book by Fiona Leitch – to name a few. 

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

Actually I’d recommend another Scandi. Pernille Hughes wrote the delightful Probably the Best Kiss in the World, set in Copenhagen, one of my favourite cities. I’m really looking forward to her next book. 

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Jen Attison likes her life Just So. But being fished out of a canal in Copenhagen by her knickers is definitely NOT on her to do list.

From cinnamon swirls to a spontaneous night of laughter and fireworks, Jen’s city break with the girls takes a turn for the unexpected because of her gorgeous, mystery rescuer.

Back home, Jen faces a choice. A surprise proposal from her boyfriend, ‘boring’ Robert has offered Jen the safety net she always thought she wanted. But with the memories of her Danish adventure proving hard to forget, maybe it’s time for Jen to stop listening to her head and start following her heart…

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

Oh, that’s a tough one. I’m honestly the least romantic person you can imagine. But a man who can cook and handle a boat, would do me just fine. I haven’t decided on his name yet …

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

The RNA is  such a special place. When I came to my first chapter meeting, I was living in Cardiff, and the brilliant writers in Cariad Chapter couldn’t have been more welcoming. And during the pandemic, I’ve been able to Zoom with them from Oslo, so I still feel I belong to the chapter. I miss the conference something awful, I’ve only been to two, so fingers crossed there will be one next year. I love the support I have experienced from so many lovely people. I’m impressed at what the RNA has done, and I hope it will continue like that. 

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

Read a lot of different books so you find what you like. There’s a lot of subgenres and one is not like the other. Then, when you start writing, don’t take the three first chapters too serious. They will change. Also, the good thing about writing, is that you always learn more. It’s never boring. 

Tell us about your most recent novel.

A Very Hygge Holiday has two books, Summer Island and Christmas Island. The paperback for Christmas Island is out on October 14th. They are both set on a small, windy island on the Norwegian west coast. Summer Island tells the story of London Chef Jack who inherits a smallholding on the island, and has to find what what that means to him. In Christmas Island, Holly, Jack’s sister, needs to get away from her life, and decides that the island would do fine. She does not expect to be roped into celebrating Christmas the Norwegian way. 

We tend to take Christmas a tad too serious, I’m afraid. 

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In the bleak midwinter…
A really frosty wind is making Holly’s life absolutely miserable

After all the years of hard work it took Londoner Holly Greene to become a doctor, now it could all be taken away and she only has herself to blame. She’s retreating to her brother’s rustic home on an island off the coast of Norway to lick her wounds. Only, it’s the middle of winter and icy slush plus endless darkness isn’t exactly the cheery, festive getaway she had imagined.

Nearly stumbling off the edge of a cliff in the dark, Holly is saved by Frøy, a yellow-eyed cat of fearsome but fluffy proportions, and his owner – grouchy, bearded recluse, Tor. Tor has his own problems to face but the inexplicable desire to leave a bag of freshly baked gingerbread men on Holly’s doorstep is seriously getting in the way of his hermit routine.

Call it kindness, call it Christmas, but Holly’s arrival means midwinter has never looked less bleak.

You can buy copies of the books here and here.

About the Author

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Natalie Normann grew up in a small shipping town on the west-coast in Norway. She wanted to be a writer as soon as she realised that books were written by real people. Her debut novel was published in Norwegian in 1995. Since 2007 she has written Historical Romance in Norwegian and recently published her 66th book. Summer Island and Christmas Island are her first books in English.

Connect with Natalie:

Facebook: Natalie Normann

Twitter: @NatalieNormann1

Instagram: @natalienormann

TikTok: @natalieromancewriter

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Romancing The Romance Authors with… Lynda Stacey

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This week’s romancing writing guest is my neighbour, good friend and amazing author… Lynda Stacey.

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

Hi Julie, thanks for having me. The books that I write are suspense, however they always have an underlying romance. I like to mix the two, because in normal life, none of us can tell what will happen from one day to the next. So, to ensure that my heroine has a great story, along with a varied lifestyle… I throw everything at her, all at once.

Why romance? 

Because in life, we all love to be loved. I honestly believe that people are like pack animals, they want to be part of a group, a tribe, a couple. So romance is a lovely way to show my hero and heroines softer side, even though most of the time I like to give them truly kick ass attitude.

What inspires your stories?

I really have no idea. It’s normally a house, a hotel, a landscape. There’s always a place, or moment in time that I like to grab hold of. Once I have a location, then I tend to build the story around it.

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

I grew up devouring Enid Blyton. All of my age group did. I read every book repeatedly. 

As an adult, I love Lesley Pearce, Kate Morton and Nora Roberts, I’ve read almost everything they wrote and to be honest, one of my favourite ever quotes that a reader gave to my books was that I wrote like Nora Robert. It’s an accolade which I find both amazing and terrifying at the same time, because I’d love to be compared to her.

This was the quote:

‘Lynda Stacey is up there with Nora Roberts when it comes to writing jaw-dropping, nerve-twisting and addictive tales spiced with intrigue, passion and suspense.’

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

Oh wow, that’s like asking if I have a favourite child. If I were pushed, I’d probably say pretty much anything by Nora Roberts.

Maybe, Sanctuary. It had quite a few twists and turns that I really loved the island setting, along with a ‘will they, won’t they’ love affair that set my spine tingling, that was balanced with the underlying thriller, where you were never sure who was the killer.

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Successful photographer Jo Ellen Hathaway thought she’d escaped the house called Sanctuary long ago. She’d spent her loneliest years there after the sudden, shattering disappearance of her mother. But now someone is sending Jo strange, candid pictures, culminating in the most shocking portrait of all – a photo of her mother, naked, beautiful and dead.

Jo returns home to face her bitterly estranged family, only to find an unexpected chance for happiness in the form of architect Nathan Delaney. But while Jo and Nathan hope to lay the past to rest, a sinister presence is watching from the shadows. And Jo will soon learn there is no peace at Sanctuary . . .

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’d have to say, ‘my hero at home’, my husband Haydn is my everyday romantic hero. We’ve been together for 30 years, and I’m not planning on swapping him anytime soon. So, my perfect romantic weekend with him would be on the Maldives, where we could lie in the sun, scuba dive and drink cosmopolitan’s while watching dolphins leap through the waves and take in the sunset as it slips into the sea.

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

The RNA is amazing. I love everything about it. From the day I joined, I became part of a tribe. I got to meet and listen to some of the most amazing authors, who freely gave their knowledge, time, and wisdom. The small nuggets of information that you pick up are priceless and I can honestly say that being a part of the RNA put me on the right path. Without them I doubt I’d have ever become a published author.

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

Listen and learn, and no matter how busy you are each day, take a moment to congratulate yourself for every word you write. It’s one more word that counts and a word closer to writing ‘The End’.

And remember, every word you write means something – even if only to yourself.

Tell us about your most recent novel.

My latest book is called No Place Like Home. 

Sister’s Molly and Beth move to a remote, cliff top property that they inherit following their mother’s brutal murder. It’s a house that overlooks the beach, the sea, and the town of Filey and should be the most beautiful place on earth to live. But someone is out to kill them, and they have no intention of stopping. 

It’s a story of loss, of love and of family ties. A story that shows how extremely protective of her sister Molly is, but it also shows the way she struggles with the fact that she’s suddenly become an impromptu parent – to a very vocal teenager. 

Doing all she can to keep Beth safe, she realises that danger could literally be around every corner, she doesn’t know who to trust and, in the end, she finds herself living in a world where almost everyone around her could want her dead. 

Will Molly manage to survive, will she keep Beth safe? Or will life on the edge of a cliff suddenly become more dangerous than she’d thought?

It’s out now in all formats and you can buy a copy here. (You can read my review of No Place Like Home here.)

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He knows where you are…

Sisters Molly and Beth Winters thought the remote clifftop house would be the perfect place to hide away after their mother’s brutal murder. They were wrong….

He wants revenge…

Because someone from the girls’ past has already found their safe house and he is watching and waiting in the shadows ready to make them pay.

He won’t stop until you’re dead…

Their new home should have been the place the sisters were safe.

But no place is safe forever.

About the Author

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Lynda grew up in the mining village of Bentley, Doncaster, in South Yorkshire,

Her own chaotic life story, along with varied career choices helps Lynda to create stories of romantic suspense, with challenging and unpredictable plots, along with (as in all romances) very happy endings.

Lynda joined the Romantic Novelist Association in 2014 under the umbrella of the New Writers Scheme and in 2015, her debut novel House of Secrets won the Choc Lit Search for a Star competition.

She lives in a small rural hamlet near Doncaster, with her husband, Haydn, whom she’s been happily married to for almost 30 years.

Connect with Lynda:

Website: http://www.lyndastacey.co.uk

Facebook: Lynda Stacey Author

Twitter: @LyndaStacey

Instagram: @lynda.stacey

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Romancing The Romance Authors with… Nancy Peach

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Today’s guest on Romancing The Romance Authors is a debut author whose publication journey I have been following closely so I’m very interested to see her take on writing romance. Pleased to welcome to my blog for the first (but surely not the last) time… Nancy Peach.

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

I’m just beginning my publishing journey so haven’t really fixed on a type yet, but my debut Love Life is published with One More Chapter and probably sits in the rom-com category. Love Life has a Pride and Prejudice style plot, but it’s also set in a hospice, which I think gives it a different perspective. I suppose that if I have a style of writing it is to tackle hard topics with a light touch. I am a big fan of finding humour in dark places and was longlisted for the Comedy Women in Print prize last year for my novel Sandwich which deals with dementia. 

Why romance?

Because love and romance are at the heart of all universal stories – in a way I think it’s impossible to write books and not write about romance. All the greatest authors have known that the most direct route to a reader’s mind is via the heart and many of the fictional characters we hold dear are the ones who have been affected by a doomed romance or a grand passion. Every genre, whether it be crime, historical or dystopian science fiction, has romantic themes running through it and without a hint of a love interest a story loses depth and fails to engage a reader. 

All of the above, plus I like writing sex scenes.

What inspires your stories?

Daily life – I enjoy finding inspiration hidden in the mundane, whether that be at home or at work. Being a doctor means that I am fortunate enough to witness many elements of human behaviour and interaction. It is a great privilege to have this level of access to people’s lives and relationships and it’s one of the things I enjoy most about my job. I am obviously very careful never to break confidentiality and none of my patients’ details will ever make it directly to the page, but a lot of what forms the basis of my books comes from making general observations about the human stories I see unfolding in front of me every day. 

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

Generally, those who introduce an element of humour in their writing. Whether it be sharply satirical like Jane Austen or gently comical like Beth O’Leary, or full-blown hilarious like Helen Fielding, Marian Keyes, Mhairi McFarlane and Lucy Vine. 

Having said that, some of the most deeply affecting love stories I’ve read recently have not fallen into the comedy category – Delia Owens’ ‘Where the Crawdads Sing’ and Anthony Doerr’s ‘All the Light We Cannot See’ had me in absolute bits.

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

That is such a hard question to answer (frantically tries to narrow down enormous shortlist). I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a more perfect package than Beth O’Leary’s The Flatshare as an example of a modern contemporary romance, but the gold standard for me will always be Pride and Prejudice. I can’t possibly say anything about this book that hasn’t already been said, but each line is a masterclass in wryly observed understatement, like a permanently raised eyebrow. Jane Austen is a genius.

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The pride of high-ranking Mr Darcy and the prejudice of middle-class Elizabeth Bennet conduct an absorbing dance through the rigid social hierarchies of early-nineteenth-century England, with the passion of the two unlikely lovers growing as their union seems ever more improbable.

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 would jump into bed with Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy and likely never be seen again.

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(PSA: Anyone who ever chooses Mr Darcy as the answer to this question will invoke the gratuitous photo of Colin Firth in a wet shirt. you have been warned.)

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

The RNA was my first introduction to fellow writers. Before joining I had no idea about the publishing industry, no knowledge of writing technique and no concept of how to turn my idle scribblings into a real piece of work. I stumbled across the New Writer’s Scheme in 2019 when I had completed a very rough draft of what was to become Love Life and couldn’t believe that there was a way of having my manuscript critiqued by people working in the industry and for it to be included in my membership fee. More specifically, the RNA was an invaluable source of advice during that first year when I was hopelessly naïve about publishing deals. If I hadn’t had their support at that critical point in my writing journey, I think I would be in a very different place now.

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

Keep writing and make sure you are always doing it for fun. It’s easy to get bogged down with whether you’re going to get an agent, whether you’ll be published, and whether you’ll be able to give up the day job and pursue a career as a writer. This makes the whole thing feel terribly pressurised and the reality may be that an ultimate dream of being a professional writer is either unattainable or takes an extraordinarily long time to realise. So, whilst you are waiting for international fame and glory, my advice is to treat writing like a brilliant, gloriously fulfilling hobby. By saying this I am in no way intending to diminish the experience or the process, but I see writing as a release valve, its primary function is to do me good and to make me happy. If what I produce makes other people happy too then great, but I try not to lose sight of why I write – I do it because it love it, anything else is a bonus.

Tell us about your most recent novel.

Love Life is a romantic comedy featuring a hospice doctor, Tess, who is having difficulty recovering from the shock of finding her boyfriend in bed with another man. Whilst at work she encounters Edward, a man who is in denial about his mother’s terminal illness and who, as a result, hates the hospice and all it stands for. Unsurprisingly Tess and Edward dislike each other in the beginning, despite having met before in entirely different circumstances, but as Edward’s mother becomes more unwell, they begin to discover common ground. The story also features a daytime television host battling it out with a Jane Austen character as dual narrators, an absent father, an over-protective mother, a problem with binge-eating, a blind date with an estate agent, a veterinary emergency, a brush with the General Medical Council and a fair bit of shagging. You can buy a copy of the book here.

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It is a truth universally acknowledged that a Yorkshire lass in possession of a career, a house, and a cat, must be in want of a husb—
Oh get a grip!

Dr Tess Carter is no starry-eyed Jane Austen heroine. After all, if your dad left without a backward glance and you found your last boyfriend in bed with another guy, you wouldn’t believe in romance either. And the voices in Tess’s head – you know, the ones that tell you you’re not good enough, not pretty enough, not clever enough – well, these voices are very loud. Very loud indeed. Especially when the proud and disagreeable son of one of her patients starts challenging her every decision.

Edward Russell might have a big job and a posh voice, but Tess is determined not to let him get to her, especially if she can get her inner monologue to stop with the endless self-sabotage. And Edward, it turns out, may be less of a prat than he first appears; he’s certainly handy in a crisis.

In the real world, where gentlemanlike manners and out-of-the-blue declarations of love are a story-book fantasy, it’s up to Tess to decide whose voice to listen to … and how to make her own heard.

About the Author

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Nancy is a writer of commercial women’s fiction, a mother of three and an owner of various ridiculous looking pets including a dog who unexpectedly grew to be the size of a small horse. She is also a practicing doctor working for both the NHS and a national cancer charity. Over the years her medical job has provided her with an insight into many aspects of human behaviour, across all walks of life, and she is endlessly fascinated by the people she meets. She has always loved to write and finds the process incredibly therapeutic as well as being a welcome diversion from some of the less glamourous aspects of her other roles. Being a medical doctor, her sense of humour is already quite dark; she prides herself on being able to find comedy in challenging scenarios and has found this to be an essential skill in both her domestic and working life. Love and laughter are the best of medicines and she tries to channel as much of them as possible into her blogs www.mumhasdementia.com  and www.nancy-peach.com as well as her books – casting a wry and discerning eye over the human condition and tackling heavyweight issues with a light comedic touch. 

Nancy’s work has been longlisted for the Comedy Women in Print Prize and shortlisted for a Harper Collins / Gransnet competition. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and is represented by Tanera Simons at Darley Anderson Literary Agency. Her debut novel Love Life is published by One More Chapter at Harper Collins.

Connect with Nancy:

Website: https://nancy-peach.com/

Facebook: Nancy Peach Writer

Twitter: @Mumhasdementia

Instagram: @nancy.peach

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Romancing The Romance Authors with… Jacquelyn Middleton

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Today’s romance-loving guest, joining me to chat all things love and literature is author, Jacquelyn Middleton.

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

Thank you for asking! My books are character- and relationship-driven stories about people dealing with the triumphs and disasters we all experience. They’re also love stories for hopeful romantics—I say hopeful because my novels are always optimistic and ‘happily ever afters’ are more important now than ever before. But life is messy, relationships are messy, and my books aren’t afraid to go there too. 

I’m also an own voices author—I’ve had anxiety, panic attacks, and depression all my life, and I include mental health in my books. I’ve always felt that there should be more representation of mental health in novels. And by more representation, I mean realistically and empathetically portrayed mental health. I’ve seen many novels where mental health issues are treated like a character trait and nothing appears on the page to show its reality. Anxiety and depression aren’t disorders you can try on like a trendy pair of jeans. My goal is to entertain AND bust the stigma—one book at a time. If one person with anxiety or depression comes away after reading my books and feels understood and not alone, I’ve done my job. 

I’ve written and self-published five books to date, and several have won awards including the Best Canadian Author award from the then-Canadian chapter of RWA in 2019 for my third book, Until the Last Star Fades. My most recent book, The Certainty of Chance, is a Christmas love story set in London and it releases on October 14.

Why romance?

To quote Madeleine in my book, The Certainty of Chance, “I love love.” There’s nothing better than an amazing love story with a happy ending. Love IS everything. Can you imagine a world without it? With all the awfulness out in the world, we need stories that celebrate love and hope more than ever before, and romance does that and more.

There are some folks in the book world who think romance novels aren’t as difficult to write as other genres and they couldn’t be so wrong. Writing emotional and heartbreaking scenes (not to mention realistic and heartfelt sex scenes) takes talent and lots of practice. Love is one of the most complex emotions we have. Many of us aren’t great at communicating love or other associated emotions, so it makes sense that it’s also very difficult to write. I think since most romance authors are female, there is a tendency to pass the genre off as fluffy, socially unimportant, and easy to write. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

It’s also worth pointing out that the romance genre was one of the first to showcase diverse characters and provide a platform for own voices authors to explore different races, religions, abilities, health challenges, and more. Consent and birth control are regularly featured. Today’s romance is very progressive, and has moved on considerably from the novels with Fabio on the cover that our parents and grandparents read years ago. And for the most part, women have lead this charge towards change.

What inspires your stories?

So many things! Basically, I write what I want to read, so my ideas usually come from what interests me: travel, songs, magazine articles, even real life experiences. I enjoy writing stories set in places I love and have visited. London, New York, Dublin, Manchester, the Orkney Islands—they’ve all shown up in my books. 

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

I have so many! Emily Henry, Abby Jimenez, Zoë Folbigg, Mhairi McFarlane, Sally Thorne, Mia Sheridan, Christina Lauren, Karen Swan, and Renée Carlino. 

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

This is such a tough question! I think I’ll go with my all-time favourites, which I keep coming back to: Christmas at Tiffany’s by Karen Swan, You Had Me at Hello by Mhairi McFarlane, and if I can sneak in another, I’d say Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren. It’s more of a women’s fiction/romance hybrid, but it’s SO GOOD! I own multiple copies from multiple countries. It’s beautiful. Okay, I know I cheated here, but picking one was impossible.

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Cassie settled down too young, marrying her first serious boyfriend. Now, ten years later, she is betrayed and broken. With her marriage in tatters and no career or home of her own, she needs to work out where she belongs in the world and who she really is.

So begins a year-long trial as Cassie leaves her sheltered life in rural Scotland to stay with each of her best friends in the most glamorous cities in the world: New York, Paris and London. Exchanging grouse moor and mousy hair for low-carb diets and high-end highlights, Cassie tries on each city for size as she attempts to track down the life she was supposed to have been leading, and with it, the man who was supposed to love her all along.

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

Oh my goodness, there are SO many! Ahh, I’d love to have a weekend with Henry from Christmas at Tiffany’s, but he’s quite adventurous which isn’t really my thing at all! I like my comforts, so I’d probably prefer to hang with out with Ben from You Had Me at Hello. This story takes place in Manchester, so I think Ben and I would indulge in the best of the city. We’d go for a meal at San Carlo and then to see a play at the Royal Exchange. If we scored tickets, perhaps we’d go see Man United play at Old Trafford. I’d love a weekend full of theatre, food, and football! 

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

I’m an overseas member living in Toronto, so I haven’t been able to take part in any in-person events, but I enjoy the emails and discussions online. It’s wonderful just to associate with fellow romance authors. Many literary folk don’t ‘get’ romance, so to have that shorthand with my colleagues is invaluable. Pre-pandemic, I travelled to the UK at least twice a year, so I’m hoping down the road I might be able to engage more in-person.

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

Write! I know everyone says that, but for a good reason—it’s true! It’s also important to read a lot. It’s the best way to learn. There are also some great books for writers that get into structure, plot points, character goals. 

Tell us about your most recent novel.

My most recent novel, The Certainty of Chance, releases October 14 in ebook and paperback. It’s a beautiful, poignant Christmas love story about Madeleine Joy, an American woman, who becomes stranded in London when an Icelandic volcano erupts and its hazardous ash closes European airspace indefinitely (this really happened back in 2010!). She gets picked up by a London cab driver named Julian Halliwell and fate throws them together the week before Christmas. Madeleine is dealing with the upcoming one-year anniversary of her best friend’s death and isn’t feeling very Christmassy, while Julian is all about the holly and lights much to Madeleine’s dismay. It’s a heartwarming story of love, loss, serendipity, and the belief that what’s meant for you won’t pass you by. You can pre-order it here.

THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT DECEMBER…

Madeleine Joy is feeling more meh than merry. When an Icelandic volcano erupts six days before Christmas, hazardous ash congests European airspace, canceling flights indefinitely—including the thirtysomething’s connection to Paris. Stranded alone in London, separated from her sister, and with the devastating one-year anniversary of her best friend’s tragic death just days away, Madeleine has never felt less festive. And as if things couldn’t get worse, the cute guy driving the cab to her hotel won’t shut up about carolers and tinsel…

Julian Halliwell is one of life’s sunny optimists. A former music journalist, he’s embraced his love for London by starting his own black cab business, enthusiastically ferrying passengers from one historic landmark to another. But life hasn’t always been easy for Julian. Having navigated several life-changing setbacks including a cruel betrayal by his former fiancée, Julian remains hopeful that he’ll meet somebody kind, who shares his love of music, his corgi named Winnie, and of course, the magic of Christmas time in London.

Despite being an unlikely match, fate seems determined to throw them together. But can the grieving American find joy again in a world where the lights have all but dimmed?

About the Author

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Jacquelyn Middleton is a multi-award-winning author of love stories for hopeful romantics–‘hopeful’ because her novels are always optimistic and she believes ‘happily ever afters’ are more important now than ever before. But life is messy, relationships are messy, and her books aren’t afraid to go there, too. If you enjoy character and relationship-driven stories about people dealing with the triumphs and disasters we all face, Jacquelyn’s books are for you.

In 2019, she was named BEST CANADIAN AUTHOR at the RWA’s Toronto Romance Writers ‘Northern Hearts’ Awards for UNTIL THE LAST STAR FADES. She is also the author of LONDON BELONGS TO ME, LONDON, CAN YOU WAIT? and SAY HELLO, KISS GOODBYE.

An own voices author, Jacquelyn has dealt with anxiety, panic attacks, and depression all her life, and is dedicated to depicting mental health challenges realistically and empathetically in her novels.

Jacquelyn’s books have been featured by The Hollywood Reporter, NBC News, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Daily News, USA Today, Cosmopolitan, Redbook, Hypable, and the Huffington Post.

A life-long Maple Leafs fan and Anglophile, Jacquelyn previously worked in television broadcasting and as an award-winning freelance writer. She loves comic cons, London, and theatre, and lives in Toronto with her British husband and Japanese Spitz.

Connect with Jacquelyn:

Website: https://www.jacquelynmiddleton.com/

Facebook: Jacquelyn Middleton

Twitter: @JaxMiddleton

Instagram: @jaxmiddleton_author

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Romancing The Romance Authors with… Julia Ibbotson

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Today I am delighted to be joined by author Julia Ibbotson to talk about romance writing and what it means to her.

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

I’ve always written since childhood, but while I was starting to find my feet as a published author, I wrote a variety of books: a children’s novel (S.C.A.R.S, a fantasy medieval time-slip with knights and dragons!), a recipe/history of food/memoir book (The Old Rectory: escape to a country kitchen) and a trilogy set partly in Ghana spanning from the 1960s to the 1990s (The Drumbeats trilogy). 

I then found my direction as I went back to my roots of Anglo-Saxon (medieval) language, literature and history, which was the mainstay of my first degree, and I wrote A Shape on the Air, an Anglo-Saxon time-slip with mystery and romance. All my books so far (apart from S.C.A.R.S which I self-published on Amazon) are published by Lume, who gave me a deal after just two months on the RNA’s fabulous New Writers’ Scheme. They’re all available on Amazon.

I loved going back to my research and seeing the more recent archaeological discoveries that have altered our perceptions of the so-called ‘dark ages’, the early Anglo-Saxon period. There’s a bit about this in my website blog. I devoured the research and even now I have to pull myself away from it to actually write the books! So, I’ve got two sequels to A Shape on the Air (in the Dr Dulac series) sitting on my computer ready for action (The Dragon Tree and The Rune Stone). At the moment, I’m writing a new series of time-slip mysteries (the Lady Mildryth series) and the working title of the first is Daughter of Mercia. All with lovely hints of romance, of course.

Why romance?

To be honest, I think most novels have romance somewhere in them! But personally, I really think that close personal relationships are the food of life, and I like to write about real life and emotional truth. I guess that’s really the thread that weaves through all my books. I don’t write genre romance or ‘happy ever after’, although maybe ‘happy for now’ endings, and there is a certain amount of gritty realism in my novels. I want my readers to feel they can identify with the main characters and their search for happiness – it’s not always an easy journey but I want readers to feel that there is hope, so they are ‘feel-good’ stories in a wider sense.

What inspires your stories?

Time and place, and the strength of women to rise above adversity. My Drumbeats trilogy spans 30+ years, starting in the 1960s, a fascinating period to write about, allowing me to do lots of wonderful research! And the ‘place’ is Ghana, West Africa, which I know quite well as I lived there for a while. It’s an intriguing, fantastic country and culture, exotic and so interesting. I wanted my readers to feel that they were really there at that time. 

My Dr DuLac series and also my new Lady Mildryth series are time-slips partially set in the early Anglo-Saxon period, the 5th and 6th centuries in the midlands of England. That period inspires me so much, as it was a time of great change and new beginnings for this country, and I try to make the books as authentic as possible, with lots of details of Anglo-Saxon life at that time, with all its conflicts and confusions, but also with its mundane daily life as a backdrop. I don’t write kings and battles; I write more about everyday people and their lives.

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

Well, I love time-slips, of course, and read a lot of Nicola Cornick, Barbara Erskine, Pamela Hartshorne, Susanna Kearsley and Christina Courtenay. But I also love straight-forward historical novels like those by Dinah Jefferies and Philippa Gregory, with all their vivid recreations of time and place. They really allow you to escape and transport you to another world.

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

Only one?! So hard. I love Jane Austen but I’ve resisted the urge to say ‘Pride and Prejudice’! I would recommend ‘Chocolat’ by Joanne Harris: delicious, gorgeous, magical, and romance in its widest sense. Who could forget the wonderfully drawn characters with all their strengths and weaknesses: Vianne and Anouk, Joséphine and Armande, Fr Reynaud, and of course the mysterious and intriguing Roux. And I love books set in rural France; this one is very evocative and makes me feel as though I’m really there, even smelling the chocolate pralines. I can’t believe it first came out over 20 years ago!

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In the small French village of Lansquenet, nothing much has changed in a hundred years. Then an exotic stranger, Vianne Rocher, blows in on the changing wind with her young daughter, and opens a chocolate boutique directly opposite the church. Soon the villagers cannot keep away, for Vianne can divine their most hidden desires.

But it’s the beginning of Lent, the season of abstinence, and Father Reynaud denounces her as a serious moral danger to his flock. Perhaps even a witch. If Vianne’s chocolaterie is to survive, it will take kindness, courage and a little bit of magic…

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’m going to be very cheeky (is this allowed?) and say my own hero, Rev Rory, the hot vicar from A Shape on the Air!  He’s strong, yet sensitive, understanding yet at times confused, clever yet sometimes a little ‘dense’ in terms of Viv’s feelings – well, I guess they both are, really, otherwise there wouldn’t be a ‘will they, won’t they?’ thread. He’s the sort of man you could trust and rely on, yet he would also be exciting and fun to be with. I think he would be very interesting to spend a weekend with. Where would we go? It has to be a romantic winter walk through the cobbled streets of York, then a candle-lit dinner at a top, but cosy, restaurant. We’d stay at a beautiful historic hotel with open fires, heavy beams and inglenooks. 

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

The NWS is a fantastic opportunity and gave me the confidence to pitch for publication. But the support and friendship is amazing; you feel as though other members understand exactly what you are feeling about being a writer, the highs and lows, whether they are debut writers or successful established authors. You can always ask for advice and folks are happy to help. I’ve learned a lot about social media and book promotion which I wasn’t great on before! There are great learning opportunities too to help you refine your writing skills, through the conference sessions and now our online Learning Hub courses, which started during the lockdown. And the RNA is a very ‘broad church’: many of us write other than ‘genre romance’, romcoms or what used to be called ‘chick-lit’ – we also write historicals, alternative history, thrillers, psychologicals, crime, and of course time-slips/dual time – Anglo-Saxon, Viking, medieval, Tudor … 

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

Not one, but those here are linked! In any genre, persevere, have faith in yourself but listen to advice. In the romance genre, even loosely (!) join the RNA – there’s a wealth of advice and support there. And go with your gut instinct: at times there will be conflicting advice, even amongst industry professionals. Listen to what they say but make up your own mind. Don’t get too distressed about rejections. Many highly successful authors have had loads of rejections from agents and publishers, so keep going even when you feel like deleting your whole manuscript! I nearly deleted A Shape on the Air after a depressingly negative critique, but before I could do so, I received an amazingly enthusiastic one – and ended up with a publisher for it! Even industry professionals differ and remember they’re looking for what’s selling at that moment – and they’re still subjective individuals with their own taste and preferences. Finally, join the Society of Authors who also give brilliant support and advice on contracts and other legal issues.

Tell us about your most recent novel.

My latest, The Rune Stone, is the third in the Dr DuLac series and it awaits publication (hopefully out soon!), so in the meantime you could start with A Shape on the Air! The latter is about Dr Viv DuLac, an academic and medievalist, whose story is woven through her connection to the 5th century Lady Vivianne who is betrothed to the loathsome Sir Pelleas. Both are fighting traumatic relationships and a desperation to save their own secure world. Can they help each other across the centuries? There’s a mystery for them to solve before they can find love and stability. There’s a strong supportive warrior and a hot vicar in the mix too!

The Rune Stone continues the story of both women and their new lives, but there’s a twist of misfortune to battle against that comes to light through the discovery of a rune stone in the churchyard and Dr Viv and Lady Vivianne’s lives again become intertwined as the mystery of the ‘rune curse’ evolves. It gives me shivers even as I think about it!

I hope you read A Shape on the Air and enjoy it (and the rest of the series when they come out) and I’d love to hear your reviews on any of my books, however brief, on the Amazon page – they mean so much to us authors! Many thanks. A Shape on the Air is available here.

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Dr Viv DuLac, a medievalist, is devastated when her partner Pete walks out (and with her best friend too) and it seems that she is about to lose everything. Drunk and desperate, her world quite literally turns upside down when she finds herself in the body of the fifth century Lady Vivianne.

Lady V has her own traumas; she is struggling with the shifting values of the Dark Ages and her forced betrothal to the brutish Sir Pelleas, who is implicated in the death of her parents.  Little does Viv realise that both their lives across the centuries will become so completely intertwined.

Haunted by both Lady Vivianne in 499 AD and by Viv’s own parents’ death and legacy, can Viv unlock the mystery that surrounds and connects their two lives, 1500 years apart, and bring peace to them both?

About the Author

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Julia Ibbotson is fascinated by the medieval world and the concept of time. She sees her author brand as a historical fiction writer of books that are evocative of time and place, well-researched and uplifting page-turners. Her current series focuses on early medieval time-slip/dual-time mysteries. Julia read English at Keele University, England, specialising in medieval language, literature and history, and has a PhD in socio-linguistics. After a turbulent time in Ghana, West Africa, she became a school teacher, then a university academic and researcher. Her break as an author came soon after she joined the RNA’s New Writers’ Scheme in 2015, with a three-book deal from Lume Books (Endeavour) for a trilogy (Drumbeats) set in Ghana in the 1960s. She has published three other books, including A Shape on the Air, an Anglo-Saxon timeslip mystery, with two more sequels written. Her work in progress is the first of a new series of Anglo-Saxon mysteries (Daughter of Mercia) where echoes of the past resonate across the centuries. Her books will appeal to fans of Barbara Erskine, Pamela Hartshorne, Susanna Kearsley, and Christina Courtenay. Her readers say: ‘Julia’s books captured my imagination’, ‘beautiful story-telling’, ‘evocative and well-paced storylines’, ‘brilliant and fascinating’ and ‘I just couldn’t put it down’.

Connect with Julia:

Website: https://juliaibbotsonauthor.com/

Facebook: Julia Ibbotson

Twitter: @JuliaIbbotson

Instagram: @julia.ibbotson

Pinterest: Julia Ibbotson

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