#Author Spotlight Georgia Hill & #BookReview ‘While I Was Waiting’ for @BrookCottageBks

Today I’d like to introduce you to Georgia Hill, author of a While I was Waiting, a unique novel which combines contemporary and historical romance set in the English countryside. 

While I Was Waiting Tour Banner

Genre: Historical/time-slip romance
Release Date: 2/7/15 (e-pub) 10/9/15 (print)
Publisher: Harper Impulse

Blurb

Tired of her life in London, freelance illustrator Rachel buys the beautiful but dilapidated Clematis Cottage and sets about creating the home of her dreams. But tucked away behind the water tank in the attic and left to gather dust for decades, is an old biscuit tin containing letters, postcards and a diary. So much more than old scraps of paper, these are precious memories that tell the story of Henrietta Trenchard-Lewis, a love lost in the Great War and the girl who was left behind.

WIWW final cover

BUY LINKS
AMAZON UK
AMAZON US

MY REVIEW

While I was Waiting combines sweet, contemporary romance as well as historical fiction, revealed through letters and a memoir written by the previous, deceased owner of Clematis Cottage, where our main character, Rachel, is now living.

After moving away from London to Herefordshire, Rachel, an illustrator, moves to rural England, and finds romance in Gabe,  a local builder’s son, who is working on her run down cottage. At the same time, she becomes obsessed with Hetti’s incomplete story, which she aims to discover.

Rachel has many personal issues such as lack of trust, insecurity, and a controlling and sometimes obsessive personality, which make it difficult for her to make lasting relationships with men. Gabe has problems of his own, which he’s not willing to share either, so their relationship will have a few ups and downs. It’s a HEA, so they manage to sort it out in the end, with the help of a puppy called Piglet, time, and sharing their real feelings.

I liked the way the author was able to give the reader a feeling for life in a small rural village, from an idyllic, as well as a realistic perspective, as the residents have to cope with the devastating impact of Foot and Mouth disease.

It’s not only a sweet romance, the novel also delves the reader into the trauma and suffering caused by the First World War, and the way cancer affects a family.

The secondary characters, the Estate Agent, the Vicar, Gabe’s parents, Stan and the locals at the pub, etc. are believable, added to the plot, and made the story more varied and interesting.

It was pleasant and easy to read, and had a very English feel to it. Especially for lovers of sweet romance.

While I was waiting author

ABOUT GEORGIA HILL

I used to live in London, where I worked in the theatre. Then I got the bizarre job of teaching road safety to the U.S. navy – in Marble Arch!

A few years ago, I did an ‘Escape to the Country’. I now live in a tiny Herefordshire village, where I scandalise the neighbours by not keeping ‘country hours’ and being unable to make a decent pot of plum jam. Home is a converted Oast house (Old agricultural building used for drying hops), which I share with my two beloved spaniels, husband (also beloved) and a ghost called Zoe.

I’ve been lucky enough to travel widely, though prefer to set my novels closer to home. Perhaps more research is needed? I’ve always wanted to base a book in the Caribbean!

I am addicted to Belgian chocolate, Jane Austen and, most of all, Strictly Come Dancing.

****

AUTHOR LINKS
FACEBOOK

TWITTER

BLOG

PINTEREST

Lovely to have you on my blog today, Georgia.

It was a pleasure to read and review your novel for Brook Cottage Books, and learn more about you.

#Author Spotlight @NicciMayne and #BookReview Full Circle for #RBRT

I recently reviewed Full Circle – A Duke Lost as part of Rosie’s Book Review Team (#RBRT)

NM Cover

My Review

This is a historical romance, set in Regency England. It has three main characters and four distinct parts.

The first part is a poetic and unhurried. It takes us through an intense and beautiful love story between a Duke and a young deaf girl. Bram is the honourable Duke of Bramford, who has fought for his country and is very loyal to the crown. The wedding had been arranged by his mother since the bride was two years old! Anna is an orphan who has been living practically on her own all this time, in an isolated castle in Scotland, waiting for her betrothed. When they meet, in her 18th year, they are both surprised to fall in love. I thought I was going to read a sweet, traditional romance, because their love story was drawn out in great detail. I didn’t mind, because I love historical romances, but I did wonder where the story would be going.

The second part of the plot moves on with the only obstacle to their happy marriage, namely Bram’s best friend, Michael, Earl of Milford, who thinks Bram should marry a richer and more worldly society lady. Surprisingly, Michael also falls in love with Anna, and although their friendship is threatened, Michael finally remains both their friends.

The plot then takes a third surprising twist (I can’t go into any detail without including a spoiler), and Anna will learn that her husband is not the man she thought he was, and that he has other priorities and duties in life, which exclude Anna and their children. Anne must turn to Michael for support, with Bram’s approval.

Finally, the title refers to the end of the story in which harmony is restored, at great emotional cost to all involved. It’s not a sad ending, although it’s not a perfect HEA either. I think it’s the best possible ending, although I can’t help feeling sorry for the way in which one of the characters is excluded from ‘the circle’.

The three main characters were engaging, and the plot, which was slow at first, moved on well in the second part. Especially for lovers of historical romance.

****

I asked Nicci if she would like to take part in an interview so we could know more about her and her, her novel, and writing process.

Quote-Nicci-Mayne_1000

This is your first published novel, and it’s set in Regency England. What is it about the Regency era that most interests you?

I’m going to tell you a little story about a dream I had many times before even having set foot in England:
Surrounded by village shops and treading a cobblestone street, I smile to myself. A feeling of absolute pleasure comes over me. I love everything about the quintessential English style. The higgledy-piggeldy street starts to incline and I look up towards an emerald green hill. A winding path leads up to a church of magnificent proportions. A proud steeple signals a hearty welcome. I approach with eagerness. But with every desperate step I take, the church seems further and further out of my reach…
I came to England having stored this in a remote part of my subconscious. When I visited Chesterfield, the dream came rushing back to me. If you have not been there before, the town has an ordinary church with the most extraordinary twisted spire, both of human and natural creation. At that very moment, I realised I had truly found my home. England.
And if you know anything about English people or culture, you know that that spire is more than just a bizarre piece of architecture. It is wholly unique and yet considered. Inconsequential and yet determined. Beautiful. Like it’s people.
It has a history that can be felt in the rhythm of it’s pulse.

Is your plot based on any real historical event or people?

I have worked for twenty years in social care and, for much of that time, I have had the privilege of knowing people who have overcome adversity and have challenged the cruel hand that life has dealt them. I admire these people for their fight and optimism. But it wasn’t until I watched a movie made by deaf children to help people who can hear understand what life is like for them that I realised deaf people are inspirational and truly lovely and positive people.
I then reached out to deaf people using social media and read some of their stories. I was especially touched by a piece written by Christina Hartmann. She describes a world of deafness that has shaped her life into something quite beautiful and personal. Her world is clearly hers and hers alone to cherish and enjoy. She wrote:

“Make no mistake: my deafness was no curse. It shaped my perspective of the world, and I’m glad for it. For me, deafness opened up new worlds, rather than the other way around”.
I encourage you to find Christina’s personal account called ‘What it is like to be deaf from birth’.

What are the challenges facing authors of historical novels?

First and foremost, Anachronisms. If you have never heard of this very wicked word, the best way to explain it is by giving you an example of my own close call- in Full Circle- A Duke Lost, the Duke’s best friend, Michael, is having a full-on rant about the major mistake the Duke will be making if he marries Anna. Michael goes on to say:
“Don’t do it man. Every eligible beauty between here and London is ready to be set before you to be savoured and selected, each and every one resplendent in this season’s finery and primed to please. The one you are hell bent on has baggage, a heaping pile of baggage the size of the Matterhorn.”
Originally, this read “a heaping pile of baggage the size of the Kilimanjaro.”
Fortunately, my editor, Jacqui, is not only a linguist extraordinaire, but an English history enthusiast and she knew that Mount Kilimanjaro would not have been well-known during the period Full Circle is set in. She also uses Census information to research the names I use for characters to ensure they are ‘period appropriate’. Perhaps the moral of the story is that behind every good author is a ‘Jacqui’.
This leads onto the next set of challenges:
Historical accuracy vs. the use of creative license (where would a romance novel be without creative license… snooze fest!).
Too many descriptive paragraphs vs. too few (how much is too much, how little is too few?) and then, my arch-nemesis,
To use the Queen’s English or something a little more universal (I vote for “ma’am” as in “farm”, and not “ma’am” as in “jam”, but this is apparently not everyone’s cup of tea!)

Which writers have inspired you as an author?

I first read Pride and Prejudice as a teen. Now, you may not be surprised by this, after all, Jane Austen is probably many, many people’s first waltz with period romance. But South African teen’s are no ordinary teens, not those born in the ‘70’s anyway. I had a very sheltered life. My idea of a good man was one who worked hard, mowed the lawn on a weekend, knew how to ‘braai’ (barbecue) and at some point in his life had played rugby. Needless to say Mr. Darcy, made my pulse race.
After that I couldn’t get enough of period books. Although Pride and Prejudice will always have a special place in my heart, Forest Lovers by Maurice Hewlett is my absolute favourite. Set in the medieval times in a dream world, Maurice Hewlett describes an awe-inspiring love.

What are you working on now?

Hedgerows & the Imperious Duke’ is a period novel that tells the story of two unique people: Shael Nathan Averay, 11th Duke of Stanthorpe, born to wealth and expectation. However, he is no ordinary member of the aristocracy and is prone to extreme peculiarities which are not tolerated amongst the ton. He doesn’t blame anyone for detesting his company; he feels the same way about himself. Although alone and absolute, self-pity is just not part of his vocabulary. In fact, he feels little for anyone. He knows he is a monster.

The Duke resigns himself to the life of a recluse. But he does not take into account the fifth and youngest of the girls he has earmarked to be the future wives of his brothers- Nelle- an untamed, playful and nature-loving sprite who makes it her personal mission to show the Duke a life previously unknown to him. Unexpectedly, Nelle’s life is not what it appears to be on the surface and the Duke’s poor social skills, joined with his insular nature, means that he fails to recognise a kindred, suffering soul. Will he be in time to save her?

Well, you will have to read the book! But, I can tell you this, these star-crossed lovers make my tummy turn and their cruel circumstance made my editor extraordinaire cry…

Nicci Picture
What would you like readers to know about you?

I suppose I could tell you that which you could read on any of my networking site (trained social worker, studied psychology, love my family, love my dogs, love England), but instead, I will tell you a few select things that will help you understand why I can write about adversity:
~ I am convinced I can feel my eyebrows growing, like aliens on my face. I have Googled this phenomenon and can’t find anyone like me. It doesn’t feel good to be different.
~ I am obsessive about clean and clear surfaces. Order and control are biggies for me. I understand that feeling vulnerable can make you feel a little doolally.
~ I had very bad early childhood experiences. I know what it is like to feel ‘little’ in a very big world.
~ I believe Lattes are a key source of essential nutrients.

Where can readers find out more or contact you?

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NicciMayne.givelifeago/?ref=hl
Twitter: https://twitter.com/NicciMayne
BingBing: http://www.thebingbing.com/niccimayne
Email: niccimayne.givelifeago@gmail.com

Where can readers buy your book?

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Full-Circle-Duke-Nicci-Mayne-x/dp/1515271269/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1452808804&sr=8-1&keywords=nicci+mayne
Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B011Z3UZF0?*Version*=1&*entries*=0
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/593044

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Thank you for stopping by, Nicci. It was a pleasure getting to know you better.

#Author Spotlight LeeAnne Hansen and #Review of ‘Ghost Light’

I occasionally download and review books from Story Cartel. I’m so glad I found Ghost Light here a few weeks ago, quite by chance, because it’s a fabulous novel. I’d like to introduce you to LeeAnne Hansen, because I became her fan almost from page one. This post includes a short blurb, my review, and an author interview.

ghost light cover
Blurb Ghost Light

Fiona Corrigan sometimes has difficulty discerning between the reality of stage and real life, especially when it comes to the attentions of her handsome co-star, the dark, brooding, Patrick Berenger.

Before they can depart for Edinburgh for their next performance, Patrick and Fiona’s acting troupe are mysteriously summoned to a remote village in Scotland, in the dead of winter. Once there, although stranded by a massive storm, Fiona is happy that she will finally have the time alone with Patrick that she needs to seduce him.

Unfortunately, Fiona couldn’t have anticipated Sean’s appearance, (Patrick’s equally handsome, drunken cad of an older brother) or his devastating effect on both her and Patrick. Nor could she have anticipated the true purpose of the strange summons by the eccentric landlord, the dark secrets he would reveal in twisted ways, or the identity of the phantom woman who haunted the stage each time the ghost light went dark.

Set in 1920’s Scotland, Ghost Light is equal parts tingling romance and chilling ghost story.

****

My 5-Star Review

Sometimes it takes a few pages to get into a novel, but this is another novel I knew I’d love from the first line. ‘Devon slammed his glass down onto the wooden desk, sloshing whiskey onto his hand.’ Then a very theatrical exchange between two lovers takes place. A few pages on, the passage ends with ‘Then the lights fell to black. And the curtain dropped.’ Fabulous! I knew the novel would mix reality and fiction, real life and stage life, and it did not disappoint.
There are two unusual and impossible love stories, which are linked to form a complex love triangle. The brooding and moody Patrick, and his fiery and impulsive brother, Sean.

The love story in the novel is Fiona’s journey of self-discovery. What does she want from life? What is love? Who does she love? The decision seems easy, at first, but soon their relationships become more intense, and Fiona realizes she desires real love and passion, instead of a romantic idealization of love. The outcome is traumatic, as she continues to deny her need for real love. There are moments she seems to prefer to experience an ideal yet imaginary love on stage, because she is afraid of unleashing her real passion.

It is an intense novel because the characters are a group of actors who travel to an isolated Scottish village, Loglinmooth, just as winter is falling. Most of the action takes place in a spooky castle and a haunted old family theatre, which has been opened for the purpose of their visit, to put on a play. All the characters are well-developed; merry Abby, enigmatic, dark Gavin, enthusiastic and encouraging Nicolas, their director, and inspiring and learned Andrew the playwright, to name a few.

There’s a cryptic letter, a mysterious train journey, a disappearing coffin carrying the brothers’ cruel, dead father. A vampire-like butler, a vanished mother, whom many believe to be a ghost, a ghost, a murderous plot, a murderer, a play which mirrors the characters lives, and lots of chilling moments along dark passages and rickety backstage.
It has all the ingredients of an entertaining and chilling ghost story, with engaging characters, a sound plot, and a passionate love story. A wonderful winter read!

I contacted LeeAnne on Twitter, before I even finished Ghost Light to tell her how much I was enjoying it. When I finished reading (a sad moment because I was having such fun!), I asked her for an author interview, and here it is:

LeeAnne Hansen

1- Ghost Light is set almost entirely in a small Scottish village, including a haunted castle and old theatre. Could you tell us what inspired you to write this novel? Is it based on a true story or event?

Well, there was a personal experience but sadly it was not in a castle. A few years back, a friend and I attended a play together to see a mutual friend perform. The theater had this plaque in the lobby dedicated to their ghost light. My friend that was with me had never heard of a ghost light which had surprised me because having grown up and gone to school in theater, I just always assumed it was something that everyone knew about. So, as I was explaining to him how it was meant to keep ghosts away but most likely to keep people from tripping at night I realized that Ghost Light would be a great title for a novel. That thought later inspired me to touch on a few other theater traditions and superstitions in Ghost Light; for example, to never whistle on stage, or mention that cursed Scottish play Macbeth by name, things like that. And in addition, having traveled to Scotland and Ireland, I found the setting and atmosphere there just right for a ghost story.

2- I’ve noticed that both your novels to date, Ghost Light and Yonder include ghost stories. Why are you so interested in ghosts? Do you believe in ghosts?

Well, I am a huge fan of the mysterious and unexpected, like The Twilight Zone and Hitchcock movies as well as classic ghost stories like The Shining or The Haunting of Hill House. I love a story where the main characters have set goals they are trying to achieve but something unexpected or unexplained enters that plan. As for ghosts, I have had a few experiences with them and the thing I have found is that whenever the topic of ghosts comes up, almost everyone has their own story or wants to hear yours. Nora Roberts used a metaphor to talk about ghosts once that said something about when a plant dies the roots still remain or are left behind. I always really liked that.

Cover for ebook- Yonder

3- What would you say to a reader to convince him/her to read Yonder?

Yonder is a mix of so much of me and that time period. It has the music I just adore of the 20s-40s. The chapter headings are all songs from that era. (I even created my own playlist for the songs and listen to it constantly while I am writing.) It is also close to my heart and past, being that my Grandmother was from Mississippi and she was Southern through and through, not to mention the cover of Yonder is her statue my Grandfather (who fought in World War II) gave her. Yonder also has a bit of what it was like growing up in the Bible Belt, which is a hard thing to explain to people outside of that belt, but it is the world that the character’s of Yonder exist in and it was part of my childhood. I also think the 1940’s was such a romantic and beautiful time period and if I had a time machine I would travel back to the dances my Grandmother always talked about. I love the music, the clothes, the fact that there was no text messaging or social media complication; it just seems like the perfect world for a girl to get swept off her feet.

4-What’s your writing routine like?

I establish the characters first and then let them tell me their story. I don’t really plot. For example, the villain in Ghost Light was never intended to be evil, they just literally stepped up and took over. I was completely surprised. Although, looking back now, all the clues were right in front of me, even if I wasn’t totally aware of placing them there. Another example would be, in Yonder there is a scene with Isabel sitting on a dock and she impetuously throws off her dress and leaps into the lake … which surprised the hell out of me! What can I say? That girl is a hot mess and she just likes to take over whenever she can.

5- What are you working on now?

The sequel to Yonder called The Great Hereafter. It is quite an experience that book. It has gotten darker than I had expected. Our poor main character has one hell of a story to tell.

6- What would you like readers to know about you?

Well, I adore Monty Python. I have the biggest crush on Dean Martin. I love me some chocolate salted caramels. I am a huge romantic. I also have a scar above my eye from believing Peter Pan had taught me to fly. One of my first stories I had written as a child was Star Wars fan fiction … I will not be sharing that one but it was written in different colored ink that varied page from page.

I love this picture of LeeAnne. Doesn’t she look like a character straight out of her novels?

LeeAnne.1

 

7- How can readers find out more about your books or contact you?

 

     My official website is- www.leeannehansenbooks.com – which I have a blog on. I try to tell stories of the history of certain things that happened in my books.

 

I am also on twitter under @LeeAnne_Hansen_   or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/LeeAnne-Hansen-164792133615223/

Thank you for visiting my blog, LeeAnne.

You can find her books in the following links:

 
They are also available on all platforms, be it ITunes, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, really any online store.
Thank you so much for visiting my blog, LeeAnne. It’s been a pleasure to have you here tell everyone about your wonderful books!
 

 

#Author Spotlight @Patricia_Sands & #BookReview of her Novel ‘The Promise of Provence’ for #RBRT

I recently read and reviewed The Promise of Provence as part of Rosie’s Book Review Team.

Promise of provence cover

My Review

The Promise of Provence is an innovative and unusual type of novel because the heroine is not an innocent or feisty young woman in search of a career or a companion. The main character is a middle-aged woman, in her late fifties, who finds that the life she was living, and had planned to continue leading, disintegrates unexpectedly before her eyes. As a result, she is forced reinvent herself and redesign her future.

The first part of The Promise of Provence carries us through the traumatic events, which will shatter Katherine’s life. As all life-changing experiences, the difficult moment must first be overcome in order to move on to the following stage. The rest of the novel deals with how she recovers from the loss and renews her faith in herself.

I enjoyed the interior monologue of a mature woman, facing life choices, normally associated with younger women, such as coping with men’s sexual advances, finding a place to live, and meeting new friends. Katherine has the intelligence and experience to realize what she wants, and the courage to leave her comfort zone and attempt to get over the sadness she feels and recover her self-esteem.

She does something she has always dreamed of doing; she visits Europe. When she takes part in a home exchange holiday in the South of France, it will change her life forever, because she finds new incentives in life. Katherine’s journey is spiritual and emotional as well as geographical.

‘I thought I was coming on this exchange to run away from something, but now I feel I was really running toward something – a new me.’

I enjoyed her travels in Europe. She carried me away with her curiosity and sense of adventure, showing me the scenery, the delicious food, and museums, chateaux, and historic sights of France, Monaco, Budapest, and Italy.

Throughout her travels, she meets some wonderful people, but she also has some unfortunate experiences. There is romance, and there are some nasty characters, too. The romance, which eventually evolves, is not a whirlwind, and it is not the central issue in the novel, but it is solid, because it has potential to develop. Presumably it will be one of the main storylines in book two, Promises to Keep (Love in Provence Book 2).

It is a well-written and moving story, which transmits hope and optimism. A person’s happiness is in his/her own hands. As Francois tells Katherine:
‘Life is full of choices. Don’t be afraid to make them when you know they are right for you. You are much younger than I and have so much to live. Live it well.’

****

I enjoyed the book so much that I asked the author, Patricia Sands, some questions for an Author Spotlight.

Patricia sands

1- The Promise of Provence and its sequel, Promises to Keep, are doing very well with 400 reviews between them. Why do you think the series is so popular?

When I first published The Promise of Provence, I thought it was a stand-alone novel. However, I received so many emails from readers asking for more of Katherine’s story that I decided to add two more books, shorter than the first. The majority of my readers love stories set in France and many are devoted Francophiles. After Amazon Publishing contacted me and purchased the rights to the series, my readership is increasing even more through their great marketing. I feel tremendously grateful to have been offered this opportunity to work with Amazon’s Lake Union Publishing, their women’s fiction imprint.

2- The main character in your novel embarks upon a new life when she’s well over fifty. Were you surprised that so many readers were interested in reading about this type of heroine?

It’s been a lovely surprise, thanks!
My first novel, The Bridge Club, is about eight women and follows their lives until they are in their ’60’s. I heard from a large number of readers then who said they enjoyed reading about older female characters and that’s what encouraged me to continue writing to my demographic. Now I know that the majority of my readers are over 40 and many over 60. They tell me it is rare to find novels with older characters and they like that about my stories.

3- What inspired you to set it in Provence?

I’ve had a love affair with France since I first spent a year in Europe after university, when I was twenty-one. Fortunately, I’ve visited different parts of that beautiful country many times throughout my life. For the past twenty years my husband and I have spent extended time every summer in the south of France, usually in Nice or Antibes. In 2011, we rented an apartment in Antibes for five months where I wrote the first draft of The Promise of Provence.
On many of our visits, we have arranged some of our accommodation through home exchanges and that’s one of the reasons I wrote that experience into The Promise of Provence. It’s a fabulous way to travel!

4- What are you working on now?

I’ve recently finished final edits with Amazon’s Lake Union Pubishing for “I Promise You This“, Book 3 in the Love In Provence series. It will be published in spring, 2016. The plan is to write another three-book series with the same characters in the south of France as they open a small inn. I’m excited about getting on with those books and thrilled that I can keep writing about the part of the world that my readers love as much as I do.

5- What would you like readers to know about you?

I love writing and all the work that goes with it! It’s been a great surprise to me to begin a completely new career as an author after I turned sixty. I’m often asked to speak to women’s groups and love to encourage women of all ages to follow a dream, no matter how old we are. It’s never too late!

I also love hearing from readers and believe that’s an author’s greatest reward. I send out a newsletter once a month and feel that’s my chance to speak to each one of the subscribers. There’s always at least one book giveaway per letter (from many of my author friends) and often there are sneak peeks at my writing, along with photography and information about France.

6– How can readers contact you or find our more about your books?

I can be reached directly by email at patriciasandsauthor@gmail.com. All my book information and a sign-up link for my newsletter can be found on my website: http://patriciasandsauthor.com/

I’d like to thank Patricia Sands for writing such a lovely book and for visiting my blog. It was wonderful to read her novel and find out more about her books and her writing process!

#Author Spotlight Helena Newbury & #BookReview ‘Kissing My Killer’

This Friday, please welcome Helena Newbury, New York Bestelling Author who has written a series of action packed and romantic, suspense thrillers that are fast becoming readers’ favourites. Let’s find out why!

Kissing My Killer. Blurb.

A full-length standalone bad boy romance with HEA and no cliffhanger or cheating.
I know I should be afraid of him. He’s huge. Powerful. Cold as ice. But when he looks into my eyes, he can’t pull the trigger. And the way he gazes at me makes me weak. Now we’re on the run together. They say he’s a monster, but I’ve glimpsed the person inside. The man sent to kill me is the only one who can save me…and I might be the only one who can save him.

Kissing My Killer 600x900

Kissing My Killer. My Review.

I knew I was going to love this book from the first line of the first chapter narrated by Alexei: ‘I met her on my way to kill someone.’ When I finished chapter one and Alexei says ‘I didn’t know it then, but nothing would ever be the same again.’ I knew I was hooked. I’d continue reading impatiently until I reached the last line.

There are 90 short chapters narrated alternately by Alexei and Gabriella, in the first person. Both characters tell us exactly what they’re thinking and feeling, which makes the reader feel part of their story and their lives. First person narrators get under the character’s skin and into the reader’s head in a direct and powerful way.

The main characters are perfectly portrayed. I felt I knew them both from the beginning. Clever, warm and kind Gabriella, struggling bravely to overcome her own demons, and fearsome Alexei, the unfeeling, killing machine who gradually discovers that life is not black and white, because choices and changes are possible. There’s an instant and powerful connection between them, which is drawn out carefully as the chemistry unfolds almost burning your kindle!

The plot is well planned and fast paced with plenty of action and twists, which kept me turning pages. We are immersed in the workings of the Russian mafia, meeting an array of cruel and powerful gangsters involved in lucrative and illegal trade, including human trafficking. We also rush around New York city, visiting seedy motels, diners, as well as ships and luxurious parties. We’ll also travel to Russia, where the plot is finally wrapped up.

Alexei and Gabriella found themselves in dead-end situations more than once. It seemed as if there was no way out for them, but of course, it’s a standalone romance, so it’s no secret to let you know that there’s a happy ending and no cliff-hanger. However the journey towards the awaited end is absolutely thrilling.

I’m not surprised it has 4.8 average on 72 reviews. It has been number 1 bestseller on Amazon.com and is currently number 2 in Organised Crime. And it was published three weeks ago!

I loved it! I can’t wait to read the next ‘kissing’ novel.

****

When I finished reading, I contacted Helena via her Amazon author page, where her email is available, and asked her if she’d take part in an Author Spotlight on my blog, and she was kind enough to accept.

Here are the questions I asked her and her answers.

1- I loved Kissing My Killer. It’s the only novel I’ve read so far, but I’m going to read them all! Although it’s a standalone, I didn’t realise when I read it that it was part of a series, the ‘Kissing’ books. Where did you get the idea or inspiration for this series?

Thank you! I like to write standalone romances with a fresh hero and heroine each time, but I also like to set them all in the same world so that characters can come back for guest appearances and we can see how the couples are doing. That means you can start with any one you like and you won’t miss anything or feel you have to catch up, but once you’ve read a few you’ll start to notice the little cameos and things I put in. The common themes are that there’s always an element of danger, usually crime, a strong heroine and a bad boy hero. My first three books (Dance For Me, In Harmony, Acting Brave) form a separate trilogy that’s a bit more New Adult and a bit less Romantic Suspense, although they’re still set in the same world.

2- I’ve noticed on your Amazon Author page that you have published many books in 2015. What’s your writing routine?

I’m very fortunate to be able to do this full-time. I get to write all day, starting at about 8.30am and finishing about 6.30pm, so that helps a lot. I write in roughly one hour chunks with little breaks between and that works for me, but everyone’s different. I use a standing desk most of the time so that I’m not slumped in a chair all day. I try to make time to go to the gym every day, too, for the same reason – when you work from home it’s really, really easy to wind up in your pyjamas all day 😀

3- Kissing Her Killer is number one amazon best seller in Romantic Suspense right now. Congratulations! How long did it take you to get there? What’s your advice for other authors?
This is the most successful book I’ve done so far. Each one of the Kissing books has been slightly more successful than the one before it. I released my first book, Dance For Me, in 2013. So it’s taken about three years and seven books. I’ll say the same thing I always say to other authors: write. Write words. Find the time. That’s the only thing that really matters. The authors I know who are successful all have that in common: they get their words written. Then, once you’ve finished, make sure it’s edited and proofread and write a great blurb and get a great cover that are both appropriate for your sub-genre.

4- What are you working on now?

The next Kissing book. Out in January, all being well.

5- What would you like readers to know about you?

I’m very approachable and always happy to chat on email. I love my readers! 😀

International Buy Link : http://smarturl.it/kissingmykiller

Links to Helena’s social media:
Blog: http://helenanewbury.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/HelenaAuthor
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/HelenaNewburyAuthor
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/helenanewburyauthor
Google+: http://gplus.to/HelenaNewbury
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/helenanewbury/
Amazon Author Page https://www.amazon.com/author/helenanewbury
Get a free exclusive novella when you join my newsletter: http://list.helenanewbury.com

Thank you for visiting Rereading Jane Eyre, Helena. I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series!

If you enjoy well-written romantic suspense with lots of action, this is a book for you!

#Author Spotlight Helen J. Rolfe & #BookReview ‘What Rosie Found Next’ for @BrookCottageBooks

This Book Review and Author Spotlight is part of a Blog Tour of ‘What Rosie Found Next’  by Helen J. Rolfe, organised by Brook Cottage Books.

What Rosie Found Next Tour Banner 1

Blurb: What Rosie Found Next
Genre: Romantic fiction / Women’s fiction
Release Date: 3rd November 2015

A shaky upbringing has left Rosie Stevens craving safety and security. She thinks she knows exactly what she needs to make her life complete – the stable job and perfect house-sit she’s just found in Magnolia Creek. The only thing she wants now is for her long-term boyfriend, Adam, to leave his overseas job and come home for good.

Owen Harrison is notoriously nomadic, and he roars into town on his Ducati for one reason and one reason only – to search his parents’ house while they’re away to find out what they’ve been hiding from him his entire life. When he meets Rosie, who refuses to quit the house-sit in his parents’ home, sparks fly.

Secrets are unearthed, promises are broken, friendships are put to the test and the real risk of bushfires under the hot Australian sun threatens to undo Rosie once and for all.

Will Rosie and Owen find what they want or what they really need?

BUY LINKS:
AMAZON UK
AMAZON US

What Rosie Found Next - bookcover - KDP version

My Review of What Rosie Found Next by Helen J. Rolfe

Now and again you read a wonderful book that’s like taking a holiday. No stress, no fussing, just relaxation and enjoyment. That’s exactly how I felt when I read What Rosie Found Next by Helen Rolfe. It’s no spoiler to say that there’s a happy ending, and that’s something the reader senses right from the start, but how to keep the reader interested? It’s not an easy task to convince the reader to keep turning the pages, but Helen Rolfe succeeds delightfully. What’s her recipe? She makes sure we’re interested in the characters and the plot. I was really interested in Rosie and her life, which was at an emotional and professional crossroads, and of course, I was also interested in Owen’s family secret. It was fun to watch their interaction, from his first unexpected intrusion, moving on to friendship, and more. There were also some ups and downs to the romance and twists in the plot, mainly due to a love triangle, including Rosie’s boyfriend, and Owen’s family secret.

I loved the setting in Magnolia Creek, in Australia, including various visits to nearby beaches. It was also interesting to read about how the population prepares for and deals with bushfires. I’m impatiently looking forward to reading more books in this series.

I’d like to thank the author & Brook Cottage Books for my advance copy in return for an honest review.

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I’ve asked Helen to answer some questions about her novel and her writing process, so let’s find out more about this talented writer.

Author photo - Helen J Rolfe 1

1. What would you say to a reader to convince him/her to buy your book?

My books are an escape with the beautiful settings and love stories about characters and lives that aren’t necessarily easy. My characters in The Friendship Tree, Handle Me with Care and What Rosie Found Next all have challenges that readers will relate to I’m sure, and the books deal with heavy issues in a way that leaves you feeling uplifted. If you enjoy romance, family stories and blossoming friendships, you’ll enjoy my books.

2. What inspired you to write What Rosie Found Next?

That’s a tough question and I can’t actually remember what triggered the initial idea although I remember when I thought of it I was living in Australia and it was the height of summer. So I guess perhaps the news of bushfires in Victoria may have given me the foundations for my characters and the setting of Magnolia Creek. My ideas often start as small as that and then the characters come to life in my mind and I write a bit of a CV for each of them. This was the first book in the Magnolia Creek Series too so I did spend some time thinking about the town, sketching out where people lived, thinking of characters who may have stories of their own in later books.

3. Can you tell us about your writing routine?

I write Monday to Friday and sometimes a bit on the weekends although I have young children and so weekends are all about family time whether it’s cooking together, playing board games or going to the park or for a walk.

When I write I work during school hours which is great. The house is quiet! I generally answer emails and go onto Social Media first and then with a clear mind I can get on with my Work In Progress.

Like many other writers I do procrastinate – who doesn’t – but try to discipline myself as much as I can.

4. What are you working on now?

I’m writing the second book of the Magnolia Creek Series but I can’t say much else for now… I’ve finished the first draft and am now working my way through editing. It’s quite daunting! I can’t wait to share it with readers sometime in 2016.
Thank you for answering my questions, Helen, and I’m impatiently waiting for book two!

 

MORE ABOUT HELEN J ROLFE

Helen J Rolfe writes contemporary women’s fiction. She enjoys weaving stories about family, relationships, friendships, love, and characters who face challenges and fight to overcome them.

Born and raised in the UK, Helen spent fourteen years living in Australia before returning home. She now lives in Hertfordshire with her husband and children.

You can find out more or contact Helen on the following social media:

Facebook: http://facebook.com/helenjrolfe
Twitter: https://twitter.com/hjrolfe
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/helenjrolfe

Giveaway
£10 /$15 Amazon gift card

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/4be03017116/

#Author Spotlight Mandy Lee & #BookReview of her Novel ‘You Don’t Know Me’

You all know why I love Romantic novels and Byronic heroes. If you don’t remember, check this post!

To sum up, they simply are tantalising, because the reader knows that this disgusting frog will become an irresistible prince, with the heroine’s invaluable help, by the time the novel / trilogy is concluded. To quote myself:

‘Byronic heroes are brooding, darkly handsome, and they have a secret, hidden past, which makes them behave antisocially. They are usually worldly, rich, cynical, destructive, and resentful. They have difficulties identifying and even expressing their emotions, and women find them extremely alluring. They are idealized yet flawed characters, who need to be recovered and repaired by the perfect heroine.’

But what are the heroines like? What kind of a woman can fall in love and transform this semi-monster into a cuddly teddy bear?

Answer: A feisty, intelligent, strong-willed, generous and loving spirit, who also has issues of her own to deal with, just like Maya.

Fishing for Hyenas and looking for sleeping Penguins: A story of

 

I loved ‘You Don’t Know Me’ right from page one. It is a well-written, well-plotted, fun and enjoyable, romantic and erotic read. When I started reading I thought, ‘This is the novel I’ve been waiting to read for months.’ I love romance, and I also enjoy an erotic twist, if the characters and plot are enticing enough, and Maya and Dan are an enthralling couple to follow.

Our heroine, Maya Scotton, is an artist with a severe case of painter’s block, who takes on an office job at a construction company in order to pay the bills. She meets the seemingly heartless and mysterious owner of the company, and they both embark on a steamy and complex relationship, which will keep you turning pages impatiently.

Maya is a friendly, funny and loveable young woman, who is denying her artistic talent, by running away from herself. She desperately needs the love, reassurance and security that Dan offers.

Yet Dan has dark demands and a shocking secret. Dan is not who he seems. You don’t know me ends with a revealing cliffhanger, and I’m impatiently waiting for book two.

There is suspense as well as romance, building up to a final shocking secret, which both links them painfully yet threatens to keeps them apart forever.

I love character driven novels, and all the characters in You Don’t Know Me are so well-crafted that I felt as if I could see and hear every one of them. Everyone who appears is valuable to the reader, because they have a specific role in the plot, which moves on with every page.

The big plus, at least for me, is that it takes place in London, mainly around the South Bank, which happens to be one of my favourite places! I’ve walked near and around GabrieI’s Wharf many times, but now I can’t wait to go back and have a coffee there, Dan’s favourite place! There are many more places to look out for. Mandy Lee has drawn me into the characters’ fictional world, and I loved it!

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                                             Dan and Maya’s London

One of the great things about being a writer, being a reader and reviewer, and having a blog in the 21st century is that you can meet and speak to other writers on Social Media. I ‘met’ Mandy on Twitter, by chance. I’m always interested in debut authors and romance, so I decided to give her book a go a few weeks ago. I was so impressed that as soon I finished reading it, I contacted her for an author interview and spotlight on my blog. I’m also telling everyone I know to give it a try. For less than the price of a coffee you get to meet a lovely young painter, fall in love, and visit London!

Here’s the interview:

Your author profile on Amazon says you work in the field of education. This means you have a full time, demanding job. I know first-hand because I’m a teacher! How did you manage to find time to write at the same time and what’s your writing routine?

Teaching is a demanding job and it’s been tough trying to fit it all in. When I get home from work, I generally take an hour or so to wind down, walk the dog, and get the dinner ready. Then I switch on the laptop and write for as long as I can. At the weekends, I do about six hours a day. In the holidays, it’s the same. I’m looking forward to giving up the full time job at Christmas, after which I’ll be taking five months off to finish the trilogy. After that, I’ll do a little supply to help pay the bills, but I’ll be able to focus a lot more on writing. I’m lucky. My family are very supportive.

What would you say to a reader to convince them to read your novel?

If you love a good story, then you won’t be disappointed! I’ve been told more than once that it’s a real page turner. Readers also tell me that they love the steamy sex scenes, and that they get thoroughly involved with the characters. It’s also pretty funny in places!

You don’t know me has romance and suspense, right to the end. You could have written a more traditional type of romance with a similar storyline, why did you decide to write an erotic instead of a more traditional type of romance?

I’m a big fan of erotic romance. I started off by reading the 50 Shades trilogy because all of my friends were reading it. I really didn’t think I’d enjoy it but I was hooked! I then went on to read other erotic romances. In particular, I loved Sylvia Day’s Crossfire series and I also lapped up the This Man trilogy by Jodi Ellen Malpas. I guess I just enjoy a good sex scene. On that level, it’s pure escapism. But the additional challenge with erotic romance is to weave the sex into the storyline so that it’s absolutely essential. I started You Don’t Know Me as an experiment to see if I could do it. Along the way, I think I finally found my genre!

Your novel has been compared to 50 Shades of Grey, I know you don’t mind this comparison, but in what ways would you say it’s similar and/or different to 50 Shades?

I’ve read quite a few erotic romances and there are similarities between all of them, the most obvious being the idea of the rich but damaged alpha male who’s unexpectedly brought to his knees by a woman. There’s nothing new in this. I think Charlotte Bronte might have got in there first with Jane Eyre, only without the sex! Having said that, I consciously worked to make my book different to 50 Shades. For example, my heroine isn’t an innocent ingénue. Maya’s a little older, definitely sexually experienced and she’s got demons of her own to deal with. She’s more than capable of giving Dan a run for his money, and while she’s willing to give him control in everything sexual, she won’t let him walk all over her outside of the bedroom. I wanted my male lead to be different too. Yes, he’s an alpha male with a shady past and kinky sexual preferences, but he wants to leave behind the hard core BDSM. Although it’s partly about the need for control, his interest in BDSM is more about escaping from who he really is. He doesn’t want that escape any more. As you get to know him, you also discover that he’s not a power-hungry control freak at all: there’s a much softer side trying to get out. And as I was creating my ideal man, he also needed a damn good sense of humour!

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You say in your biography that you are in the shadows and prefer not to share an author picture due to your job. I presume that if your wrote a more mainstream type of fiction, you wouldn’t be in the shadows. Why do you think there’s a stigma in being an author of erotica?

If I weren’t a teacher, I’d be more than willing to share a picture! In fact, I’d love nothing more. Generally speaking, I don’t think that there is a stigma attached to writing erotica, not any more. In my case, it’s just that some parents might have an issue with their children being taught by someone who writes explicit sex scenes. And more than that, I’m pretty sure that if the students found out, some of them would end up reading it, and that could cause all sorts of difficult situations!

What are you writing at the moment and what are your plans for the future?

At the minute, I’m working on True Colours, the sequel to You Don’t Know Me. The second draft is done and I’m now editing and revising. It should be ready for publication just after Christmas. Then I’ll be finishing the trilogy. Before I wrote You Don’t Know Me, I wrote a comedy trilogy set in the world of education. An agent showed interest in it at one point, but couldn’t offer representation. I’m having that edited at the minute and I’ll be self-publishing it under another pen name in the New Year. But the plan is to continue with erotic romance. I have notebooks full of ideas for future stories!

How can readers find out more or contact you?
Twitter – @mandylee2015
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/Mandy-Lee-424286884398779/?ref=hl
Website (including blog) – http://www.mandy-lee.com/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14125711.Mandy_Lee

Where can readers buy your book?
Amazon UK

Amazon US

#Author Spotlight Gloria Antypowich & #BookReview of her Novel ‘Full Circle’

This week’s Author Spotlight features  Gloria Antypowich and her novel Full Circle.

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My Review

One of the reasons I read is to travel, and another is to encounter events beyond my daily routine. In Full Circle, I was alternately shocked, surprised, upset, and cheerful. I also travelled to Canada and found out what life on a ranch is like! So it was a satisfying read. I especially enjoyed the dialogues and the descriptive scenes which transported me to another continent.

The four main characters are very well-developed, which made me care about what would happen to them, and plenty of things happen! I read about many life changing and dramatic events in their lives, such as loss of parents and children, neglect, fear of commitment, divorce, betrayal, marriage, pregnancy, falling in and out of love, depression, as well as disturbing events such as child murder.

It is a romance, so it is not a spoiler to say that there is an optimistic ending. However, it is not an ordinary or simple romance, the story gradually unwinds and becomes more complex as the plot grows and the characters develop.
At the start of the novel Shauna Lee Holt is a successful accountant with her own business in a Canadian town, who promiscuously enjoys the company of men. We will learn that there is more to Shauna Lee than lust when Brad appears in her life, like a catalyst, and turns her world upside down, as he discovers (with the reader) the traumatic secrets of her past.

Brad is generous and supportive and helps her discover the healing power of love, instead of (or as well as) lust, and helps her face the truth and discover who she is and what she wants to make of her life.

Although Full Circle is part of a series, this can be read as a stand-alone novel. I have not read book one, The Second Time Around, but now I’m curious to find out more of the back story of the lives of Colt and Frank Thompson, the happy couple who seem to have everything, but are also struck by dramatic events in Full Circle.

There are two more novels in the series, The Hand of Fate and Second Chance, which I look forward to reading.

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I read and reviewed this enjoyable novel last summer and asked Gloria to answer some questions to get to know more about her work and her writing routine.

1- What would you say to readers to convince them to buy Full Circle?

If you are looking for something more than a traditional romance, you will enjoy Full Circle. Your first impression of Shauna Lee Holt could easily be disdain because, while she is a successful business woman, in her personal life she is promiscuous, sleeping with different men on a regular basis. When Brad Thompson arrives on the scene she hits on him immediately, but he is different from the other men she knows. He is attracted to her, but he is not willing to play her game. He makes it clear to her that he will not have sex with her until they have gotten to know each other and established the beginning of a truly monogamous relationship. He’s determined not to be another one in a string of guys in her bed, but she certainly does test his resolve.

Behind the façade she has created, Shauna Lee is a tormented person who feels unworthy of love and she doesn’t know how to be with a man like Brad. As he gets glimpses of her tragic past he begins to realise that she may never be able to give him what he wants. When they begin to make headway, shadows from her past come forward, like ghosts slipping through the cracks that Brad has pried opened in her armor. Will Shauna Lee let Brad stand by her side and help her like he wants too, or will fear overrule and cause her to slam all her emotional portals shut again?

This story is filled with drama. It revolves around betrayals, hatred, infanticide, regret, revenge, strong friendships and unconditional love. Bring your box of Kleenex when you sit down to read. There will be times when you may laugh, but I’m certain there will be more times when you will feel like crying.

2.What inspired you to write the Belanger Creek Ranch Books?

The Belanger Creek Ranch Series has been a long journey for me. Over 30 years ago I was fortunate to be able to attend RWA conferences in the USA for a few years in succession. Then one year I decided to go to a writer’s workshop in Regina Saskatchewan. That would have been a long two day drive for me, and my husband didn’t want me to go by myself, so he went with me. I had romanticised about the Cypress Hills. They are a high point of land that straddles the SE corner of the province of Alberta and the adjoining SW corner of the province of Saskatchewan: an anomaly in the otherwise flat land of the prairies. Exploring them was on my agenda for that trip. On our way back home to B.C., we detoured off Highway 1 and visited Loch Levan, then drove through the Center Block of the Interprovincial Cypress Hills Park, and across the Gap Road to historic Fort Walsh in the West Block. Among other things, I saw the biggest grasshoppers I have ever seen in my life on the Gap Road! I made notes and took pictures—we talked to a couple of ranchers and that was research for my first book. I wrote the book, had an agent who presented it to Harlequin, who in turn gave me a polite not-now letter, so I went on to other things. I published that original book as “Hearts at Risk” in 2011, and after a few people said they wanted to know more about the characters I decided to write a second book, “You Can Run,” in 2012.

Then my husband decided to write and publish his hunting memoir and his personal memoir, so I put my writing aside and dedicated my time to editing and revising his manuscripts. As well, there were 350 pictures in his personal memoir and 150 in his hunting memoir. I had to prepare those pictures for the publisher by converting them to black and white, editing them with Photoshop Elements where necessary and resizing them. Then I had to number them according to where they would be placed in the individual manuscripts and create place holders in 3 separate files for each book. It was a major project!

In 2014 I settled into my own writing again. I still loved and believed in the characters and story of my first two books (even though they were total flops) so I did an extensive rewrite of “Hearts At Risk,” and it became The Second Time Around, Book One of the Belanger Creek Ranch Series. Then I tweaked the manuscript for “You Can Run” and it became Full Circle, Book Two of the Belanger Creek Ranch Series.

I like a series of books if they relate to each other, but can be read on their own, and by the time I started writing again I knew I wanted to do a book that included a surrogacy. That book went through 3 title changes—at first I was going to call it “The Bastard and The Barren”. My husband has no input in my books (in fact I don’t think he’s even read books three and four), but one day he when he came into my office and when he saw the file name on my computer he was disgusted!! Any way as the book evolved—(or possibly I was the one who evolved) I decided the title was going to be “The Gift” Then when I did the very final edit—I knew there was so much more to that book than just the gift of surrogacy, and after I changed the last paragraph, I decided to call it The Hand of Fate. Two new characters had been introduced into the “Belanger Creek Ranch family” and the idea for A Second Chance, Book Four was spawned.

I choose to call the series The Belanger Creek Ranch Series, because thirty years ago when we drove through that country I had made a note about a small creek named Belanger Creek. I have no idea what the area is like now, but there was not a ranch there then.

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3. What’s your writing routine?

Insane!! I’m a total “pantster.” I’ll have an idea and I’ll do thorough research as background material. Then I’ll just jump right in and start writing—for hours and days and weeks and months.

Since my husband also writes, that is OK when he is settled in front of his computer, but when he isn’t, I think not having “a wife” for weeks on end gets frustrating. He doesn’t say much…although sometimes actions speak louder than words! My kids rag on me for living an unbalanced life—no exercise and sitting at the computer non-stop. Our oldest daughter and her family live upstairs (we live on the ground floor of the same house) and if she looks out of her bathroom window at midnight and sees the glow of the light from my office, she will go into their spare bedroom just above where I am working and stomp on the floor to let me know that she doesn’t approve! Our children and grandchildren are proud of my accomplishments—I have to correct myself here-they are proud of both of our accomplishments—but they just don’t get what it’s like to be a writer!

4-What are you working on now?

I am not writing right now—I am marketing, marketing, marketing!

But I have many ideas simmering on the back burner. I have done research for a possible rodeo series—I know a stock contractor, a bull fighter, a chuckwagon owner, a chuckwagon outrider and a bull rider, as well as a tie down roper. I do much of my research on line, but I like to get a feel for what characters would think and do from real life people if possible. Most of what I learn never makes it into a book, but it makes me feel that I can write with authenticity.

I also have a “series” that’s been on my mind for a few years—one book would be titled Too Little Too Late, another Meant to Be and the third would be The Ties That Bind. They are all about married couples whose relationships face challenges. Too Little Too Late and The Ties That Bind are not actually “happy ever after” books. Meant To Be has heartache but ends happily. They all deal with harsh realities of things that do happen in life. I have thought about them for so long, but am not certain that I want to go down that road yet.

I have also thought about doing a series about girls who arrived on The Bride Ships in the 1800’s—that’s more historical—but there is such fascinating, and yes, horrible stories to be gleaned from that time in the US and when the gold rush was in full swing in the Cariboo area of British Columbia, where I live.

Also I wrote another book years ago that was about a surrogacy contract that fell apart when the intended mother died. More than once I have thought about bringing it to life. I loved that book and still remember it clearly—it had a paranormal element to it.

So as you see, I have plenty of ideas to work on—and in honesty, undoubtedly less than 20 years to write—if I’m very fortunate. Oh mortality!! And the hand of fate! One never knows what will come into your life in a given time. So I choose to live one day at a time!

Lucy, Thank you so much for featuring me in your Author Spotlight!

It was a pleasure having you on my blog, Gloria.

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If you’d like to contact Gloria, here are her social network links:

FaceBook: http://tinyurl.com/Gloria-Antypowich-Author-Page
Twitter: https://twitter.com/glantypowich
My webpage is http://gloriaantypowichauthor.com/home/
My Blog: http://gloriaantypowich.com/blog/
GoodReads: http://tinyurl.com/goodreads-Gloria-Antypowich
Linkedin: http://tinyurl.com/Linkedin-Gloria-Antypowich

Purchase link:

My books on Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/Gloria-Antypowich-Amazon

#AuthorSpotlight: Frances Evesham, #Author of ‘Danger at Thatcham Hall’

Victorian Crime Mystery 

Frances Evesham writes Victorian crime mystery. Danger at Thatcham Hall is her second novel. It takes us back to Thatcham Hall, the location of her first novel, An Independent Woman. Thatcham Hall ia a large country estate in Victorian England, where the reader will encounter more mysteries and romance.

Danger at Thatcham Hall pic

My Review

Danger at Thatcham Hall is easy to love if you enjoy well-written, entertaining, moving, exciting, and romantic, crime novels, set in Victorian England. It was easy for me to love. Victorian England is my favourite place, so it was a joy to spend several hours wandering around the English countryside, solving crimes.

On this occasion, there are two guests at the Hall, and a murder mystery to be unraveled, which endangers the lives of the residents at the Hall. Nelson is Lord Thatcham’s ambitious lawyer, who is a physically and spiritually scarred man, having experienced trauma at war and the betrayal of his fiancée. He meets Olivia, a strong willed pianist, who fears she may have to become a governess due to the constraints women faced when pursuing musical careers.

They stumble across a dead body, and Lord Thatcham asks Nelson to investigate the accusations against one of his staff. Nelson accepts the job and with Olivia’s help finally disentangles the mystery.

There are plenty of richly drawn characters including a villain, a spoilt child, the imposing Dowager, the lovers, a mysterious healer, villagers, farmhands, and servants at the Hall. The reader is submerged with the characters into daily life in Victorian England, including a visit to London.

Once again, the author shows expert knowledge of Victorian England, which she transmits wrapped up in an enjoyable parcel of mystery, action, and romance.

Danger at Thatcham Hall can be read as a stand-alone. The action in the first book in the series, An Independent Woman, revolved around Lord Thatcham and how he met his wife-to-be, Philomena. My only complaint is that I would have liked to see more involvement of these two impressive characters in this second novel. Of course, it is no longer their story, but I came to like them enough to want to know more. If you have not read an Independent Woman yet, I also highly recommend it, too!

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Frances writes historical fiction, as I do. It’s great to be able to chat with another author with similar interests as a writer. This is part of our virtual conversation.

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  1. What would you say to a reader who doesn’t usually read historical fiction to give it a try?

Imagine living in a world where everything is different: clothes, culture, food, manners and customs, but where people’s deep feelings are the same as yours.

Picture yourself as a servant, up at dawn to clean fireplaces, or a labourer working every daylight hour on someone else’s farm, or toiling in a dirty, noisy factory. Perhaps you’d rather be a member of the aristocracy, rich and envied, moving in a small social circle, but closely watched, terrified your slightest mistake will see you ostracised forever from society. How would you feel if you had to marry for money, were forbidden to own property or travel alone?

Falling in love, longing for happiness, struggling against the difficulties and barriers of a past time stopping you reaching your goals: would you sink or swim?

When you buy historical fiction, you travel back in time to that different world, letting modern day stresses and strains fall away from your shoulders as, for a few, precious hours, you belong in another vivid time and place.

I think this is a wonderful answer, Frances! I absolutely agree. One of the most exciting things a reader can do is travel in time. It’s somewhere you’ll never be able to visit unless a writer takes you there!

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  1.    Where did the idea or inspiration for Danger at Thatcham Hall come from?

It’s such a delight to pick up a story and lose all track of time, reading murders, mystery, history and crime. I devour Philippa Gregory, Agatha Christie and Robert Galbraith as well as the 19th century novelists, Wilkie Collins, Mrs Gaskell and the Brontes, Charles Dickens, and my all-time writing hero, Jane Austen.

Danger at Thatcham Hall lets me introduce Olivia, a women with a talent repressed by the social order of the day, to Nelson, a wounded, bitter soldier searching for his own place in society. They spar together, trying to solve a series of thefts and murder, each wondering whether the other can be trusted.

It’s a joy to indulge a love of spooky old buildings, deep, dark woods and gothic crypts, and meet old friends from An Independent Woman; Philomena, Hugh and his irrepressible son John.

We share the same favourite writers, Frances. Jane Austen, The Bronte’s, Wilkie Collins, and Charles Dickens, are so much part of my literary mind, that I’m sure I’d be another person if I hadn’t read their novels! I certainly wouldn’t write what I write or the way I write. I feel so much respect for them that I constantly turn to them for inspiration.

 

3- Can you tell us something about your next project?
I have a third Thatcham Hall Mystery in progress, and I’ve also begun a new series of short, contemporary murder mysteries set at the seaside in Somerset, called Exham on Sea. I’m planning to bring out new Exham on Sea stories every 3 or 4 months, because they’re such fun.

Somerset makes a terrific setting, full of misty levels, miles of sandy beaches, and the ancient, atmospheric sites of Glastonbury Tor and Brent Knoll. My own town, Burnham on Sea, boasts the shortest pier in the UK and possibly the oddest lighthouse, with nine wooden legs rooting it in the sand.

That lighthouse features on the cover of the first story in the series, Murder at the Lighthouse. Libby Forest picks her way through the intricacies of small town relationships to uncover the killer of the town’s famous folk-rock star, Susie Bennett, helped by Bear, an enormous Carpathian Sheepdog, Fuzzy, the aloof marmalade cat and the unsettling, secretive Max.

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Somerset is a lovely part of England. I haven’t been there for a long time. I’m sure it’s inspirational. I’m looking forward to reading your short mystery, Murder at the Lighthouse, and your next instalment of the Thatchan Hall Mysteries.

The sea and coastal areas are no doubt an added stimulus for artists. The first two volumes of the Eyre Hall Trilogy are set almost entirely in Yorkshire and London, although the final chapter of Twelfth Night  at Eyre Hall, also includes a sea voyage to Jamaica and back. However, my third novel takes place in Yorkshire and Cornwall. I bet that surprised you! I can say no more…

 

  1. What’s your writing routine like?

I’ve just started writing in a standing position, with a raised desk, to counteract the effects of sitting in a chair all day. Of course, there’s new research out now, suggesting it does no good at all.

When I’m in the middle of a story, I hardly notice the time passing, because I’m lost in my fictional world. I’ve taken to setting alarms to remind me to get up and walk about from time to time. When I get to a knotty problem, or can’t see how my characters can possibly get themselves out of their latest mess, I go for a walk on the beach and eat ice cream. That usually does the trick.

I’ve never tried standing up while writing! I also forget to walk around while I’m writing, so my legs feel heavy and swollen sometimes. When that happens, I usually go for a walk, too, but I think I’ll take some ice cream next time. Sounds like a plan!

I’ve had a great time answering your questions, Luccia, thanks so much for inviting me.

Thank you so much for coming, Frances. It’s been great having you.

That was fun!

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Find out more about Frances:

Frances Evesham: Author of The Thatcham Hall and Exham on Sea Mysteries for readers who love Agatha Christie, Jane Austen, Midsomer Murders and cosy crime

Her Website

Her Twitter 

Her Facebook

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I’ll be doing Author Spotlights every Friday. I have quite a few lined up for the following months, but if you are an author and you would like to be featured, please let me know. I’m especially keen on featuring debut and independent authors. I enjoy all sorts of novels with engaging characters and compelling plots, especially romance, historical, mystery and suspense.

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See you all next Friday for next weeks’ Author Spotlight.

Have a great weekend! Read a book!

 

 

#BookReview and #AuthorSpotlight: Bert Murray #Author of Through The Riptide #RBRT

This weeks’ Author Spotlight Features Bert Murray, co-author of Through the Riptide

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My Review

After fighting off an attack and escaping a sexual assault with the help of her friend / neighbour and his dog, Lindsey decides to leave Manhattan for a time to recover emotionally. Her ambitious and self-absorbed ex-boyfriend, Karl, offers her a job and a change of scene in the Hamptons, and although her mother warns her of the dangers of going back instead of moving forward, she accepts Karl’s offer.

The setting moves from bustling New York to the idyllic Hamptons with its wonderful beaches and exclusive restaurants and lifestyle.  While Lindsey is there, she encounters some charming and other dangerous characters, among them, a quiet stranger she meets on a bus. They will all help her on her way to a partial recovery from trauma, and make her stay at the Hamptons unforgettable.

The plot moves forward neatly, gradually unravelling secrets, lies and criminal acts, leading to a satisfying ending. Lindsey does finally manage to find a way of moving forward emotionally and professionally, ironically by following her mother’s advice, which she ignored at the beginning of the novel. Mothers are so wise! Finally it looks like love could win the game, and each character is dished out what he or she deserves!

I didn’t realise there was a previous novel where some of the characters were introduced until I finished reading Through the Riptide, so it could be read as a stand-alone. There are hints of a back-story involving Karl, Jasmine and Colin, which isn’t told in any detail, but I could imagine many things which had happened twenty years ago, were disclosed in book 1, which should probably be read to get the complete picture.

Through The Riptide is a pleasant and well-written summer read, with interesting characters and a sound plot.

I read Through the Riptide as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team.

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Author Spotlight Questions for Bert:

Bert Murray

  • What would you say to a potential reader to convince him or her to read Through the Riptide?

Through the Riptide is a novel about not giving up hope that in time you can find the right person to love.

  • Where did the idea or inspiration for the novel come from?

Phyllis Fahrie and I wanted to continue the story of Colin, Jasmine and Karl. We decided that a new character, Lindsey, should tell this story and that it would be set about twenty years after Colin Preston Rocked And Rolled ended.

  • Can you tell us something about your next project?

Phyllis Fahrie and I are now working on the third installment of the Colin Preston Series.

  • You write with Phyllis Fahrie. Could you tell us about the writing process when there are two authors?

I found it to be quite a challenge to collaborate on a novel with another writer. You don’t have the same freedom as you do when you are writing on your own. However, the synergy between two different styles can push you out of your normal comfort zone and has the potential to produce superior results. When there are two authors working on a novel you have to be willing to be creative and do things in a different way than you are accustomed to. It isn’t easy. But I am very happy with the end result!

Thanks, Bert. It was a pleasure reading your book and having you as a guest on my blog!

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Find out more about Bert and his other books:

Website: http://www.colinprestonrockedandrolled.com/

Twitter: @BertM51

Purchase links:

Amazon: Through the Riptide – http://amazon.com/dp/B00XD7U5MK

Amazon UK: Through the RIptide – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Through-Riptide-Colin-Preston-Book-ebook/dp/B00XD7U5MK

Amazon: Colin Preston Rocked And Rolled – http://www.amazon.com/Colin-Preston-Rocked-And-Rolled-ebook/dp/B004GEAOO8

Amazon UK: Colin Preston Rocked And Rolled – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Colin-Preston-Rocked-And-Rolled-ebook/dp/B004GEAOO8