Friday, 30 November 2012

Happy St. Andrew's Day!

Today is the 30th November and it's St. Andrew’s Day in Scotland


www.123rf.com

Nowadays not much happens in Scotland that’s unusual on St. Andrew’s day. People go to work, children to school, and life goes on as normal. There has been some recent campaigning to have it deemed a public holiday in Scotland and used to encourage tourist traffic. That’s not quite happened yet- some people think Scottish weather too unpredictable, and they would be right about that! Children in my local school used to have a Scottish focus day on November the 30th, though my information on that may be a little out of date. It is, however, Book Week Scotland so the chances are that at least some classes will be reading and discussing the story of St. Andrew, and how the Saltire flag came to be the symbol of the day.

Right now it's a freezing cold start to the day. Scraping of car windows is going on and some, like me, chose to ignore that chore and decided to walk to school and out and about locally. Jack frost is definitely nipping those toes, and although it is sunny I doubt much melting will happen during the day.

 Morning sun  -  the view from my desk. Crisp leaves and crunchy grass. I'm happy. I love walking in the cold air when suitably wrapped, and I don't have to feel guilty about NOT raking up those leaves! But back to St. Andrew's Day. 

What is the Saltire, or St. Andrew’s flag, all about?

There have been various versions of the tale and I give you only one here.


The Patron Saint of Scotland is St. Andrew. Andrew was one of the Twelve Apostles, a disciple of Jesus. Like Jesus was nailed to a cross to die so, too, was Andrew. It is said Andrew did not think himself worthy of being on the same shape of cross as Jesus, who had an upright (plus) cross. Instead, Andrew’s was a ‘multiplication sign’ cross. After his death Andrew’s remains were buried in Greece, in Patrae.

By almost 400 AD the Roman Emperor of the time, Constantius, declared Patrae was not a suitable place for the relics to lie and ordered the remains to be brought to his capital city of Constantinople.
At that time the keeper of the remains was Regulus. Regulus had a dream where an angel told him that instead of Constantinople the remains should be taken to the edge of the world, at that time known as Caledonia.

After a hazardous journey with the casket Regulus arrived at Mukros, on the east coast of Scotland. He buried the remains there and set up a church. The English translation for Regulus is ‘rule’ and to this day there is a stone tower at St. Andrews, in Fife, called Saint Rule’s Tower. It lies next to the ruined cathedral in St. Andrews. It is said the stone tower replaced Regulus’s original wood, mud and turf church and the bones of St. Andrew lie buried beneath it. 

We then skip on to the year 761AD when the kingdom of the Picts (then only a part of what we know of as Scotland today) was battling against the Anglo-Saxons (northern England of today). The two armies were encamped near each other ready to do battle when Angus, king of the Picts, had a dream. He saw St. Andrew come towards him bearing a silver cross (saltire) which shone out against the blue of the sky. The next day the Picts won the bloody battle and henceforth the saltire was adopted as the badge of the Picts.
Many years later the badge of St. Andrew was adopted as the standard for the whole unified Scotland, the land of Scotland as we know it today.


And so, it is said, the saltire cross came to represent Scotland.

Enjoy St. Andrew's Day.

Slainthe!

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Book Week Scotland

This week is Book Week Scotland. Organised by The Scottish Book Trust events are taking place all over Scotland. Poetry and prose readings are taking place, book discussions are happening and the sharing of lovely words in happening schools, libraries, Old Folks Homes (seniors centers).

The youngest children in all schools are being given free packages of books to take home and savour with their parents and carers.




My contribution was having my photograph taken by a local photographer who freelances for a local newspaper- Inverurie Advertiser. I officially handed over a print copy of The Beltane Choice to Deborah Leslie, the Reader in Residence for Aberdeenshire, who received it as the representative of Aberdeenshire Council. My historical romance will now be available for borrowing in Aberdeenshire Libraries.


Photographic update on this next week - when next week's edition comes out.

Slainthe!

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Topaz Eyes is coming but here's a little taster for your enjoyment.

My ancestral mystery - Topaz Eyes - will be launched on the 7th December by Crooked Cat Publishing.  





Why not setttle down for a few moments and watch my book trailer video- then you'll have a tiny idea of what you can expect....





And after that you can read the EXCLUSIVE excerpt on my Topaz Eyes excerpts page. Check the top tabs above the home post for access.

Slainthe!



Monday, 26 November 2012

Watch out for THE ACCIDENTAL COUGAR!

Monday Moments has a newly released debut novel to present to you today. The Accidental Cougar was released only two days ago from The Wild Rose Press!
 


What an arresting cover!

Blurb: Forty-one-year-old Nicole Woods was content raising her son alone, working as an ad exec, and indulging in the more than occasional cleaning frenzy...until the night she met Wil Blanco. Her friends have decided that while her son is away for six weeks, it's the perfect opportunity for Nicole to have a summer fling. Heading the top of the list is Wil -- sexy, successful, full of life...and twenty-five! Regretfully, Nicole declares him "hands-off," but soon he's complicating everything, from her job at the advertising agency to her self-imposed ban on relationships. When Wil becomes her top client, she has even more reason to adhere to her "hands-off" policy. So why is Nicole finding it so hard to keep her hands off him?


Here's the merest, tiniest taster for you to enjoy!
                Wil exited the freeway and they didn’t speak again until he pulled up in front of her condo. Wanda’s voice sang inside her head: “He’s perfect for a summertime fling.”
                If only she were mentally ready…”If only I were ten years younger.”
                “Then I probably wouldn’t be attracted to you.”



Tiffany N. York lives in Southern California with her spirited son, diva Chihuahua, a varying number of cats, and two screeching parakeets. She writes fiction to escape reality. The Accidental Cougar is her first novel. She loves to hear from readers about anything and everything. 

  
Goodreads     Facebook    Twitter



Sunday, 25 November 2012

Flappers, Flasks and Foul Play



 
Tag Line: “Boardwalk Empire" meets "The Great Gatsby" in this soft-boiled historical mystery, set during Prohibition in 1920s Galveston: the "Sin City of the Southwest." 


Ellen Mansoor Collier is a Houston-based freelance magazine writer whose articles and essays have been published in several national magazines including: FAMILY CIRCLE, MODERN BRIDE, GLAMOUR, BIOGRAPHY, COSMOPOLITAN, COUNTRY ACCENTS, PLAYGIRL, etc. Several of her short stories (both mystery and romance) have appeared in WOMAN'S WORLD.  

A flapper at heart, she’s the owner of DECODAME, specializing in Deco to retro vintage items (www.art-decodame.com). Formerly she's worked as a magazine editor/writer, and in advertising sales and public relations. She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Magazine Journalism.  During college, she once worked as a cocktail waitress, a short-lived experience since she was clueless about cocktails. Flappers, Flasks and Foul Play is her first novel, inspired by real people and places.  Currently, she’s working on the sequel. 


"When you grow up in Houston, Galveston becomes like a second home. I had no idea this sleepy beach town had such a wild and colorful past until I began doing research, and became fascinated by the legends and stories of the 1920s. I love the glamour and excitment of The Jazz Age, but Prohibition was also such a dark and dangerous time in American history. Jazz isn’t a debutante or socialite, she’s a reporter caught in between the two halves of Galveston society, struggling to do the right thing despite all the temptations and decadence of the era." 



Author Links:
Website     http://www.art-decodame.com/



Buy Links:
Amazon   http://www.amazon.com/Flappers-Flasks-Foul-Play-ebook/dp/B008QRJ0XM/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1353000060&sr=1-1&keywords=Flappers%2C+Flasks+and+Foul+Play
Barnes & Noble  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/flappers-flasks-and-foul-play-ellen-mansoor-collier/1112135350
Smashwords    http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/178224


Blurb:
"Boardwalk Empire" meets "The Great Gatsby" in this soft-boiled historical mystery, inspired by actual events. Rival gangs fight over booze and bars during Prohibition in 1920s Galveston: the "Sin City of the Southwest." Jazz Cross, a 21-year-old society reporter, feels caught between two clashing cultures: the seedy speakeasy underworld and the snooty social circles she covers in the Galveston Gazette.

During a night out with her best friend, Jazz witnesses a bar fight at the Oasis--a speakeasy secretly owned by her black-sheep half-brother, Sammy Cook. But when a big-shot banker with a hidden past collapses there and later dies, she suspects foul play. Was it an accident or a mob hit?


Soon handsome young Prohibition Agent James Burton raids the Oasis, threatening to shut it down if Sammy doesn't talk. Suspicious, he pursues Jazz but, despite her mixed feelings, she refuses to rat on Sammy. As turf wars escalate between two real-life
Galveston gangs, Sammy is accused of murder. Jazz must risk her life and career to find the killer, exposing the dark side of Galveston's glittering society.

Excerpt:
Why in the world was Agent Burton here? Everyone stopped working to watch him make his grand entrance. People don't usually parade around in a newsroom: They sort of shuffle or stumble or stomp—unless a story's really hot, then they'll run. I felt like running away too, but I stayed glued to my chair, pretending to work, my heart racing. What did he want from me?  

Burton seemed to enjoy the attention as he headed my way. He was hard to ignore: Standing before me, all six feet-plus of golden skin and hair, he towered over my desk. Looking up, I noticed the curious eyes watching us in the too-quiet newsroom. The reporters stopped typing, fingers poised over keys, hoping for a scoop. My boss stared with unabashed interest.  

"To what do I owe this disturbance?" I adjusted my cloche, acting nonchalant.  

He grinned at me, then looked around the suddenly still office. "I need to ask you a few questions. Can we go somewhere private?"  

"What do you want?" I put on a brave face so the newsboys wouldn't see me sweat.  

Burton scanned the hushed room. "You really want to discuss it here, out in public?"  

He had a point. Did I want the whole staff listening in on my private conversation? He probably wanted to discuss Sammy, who was no one else's business.  

"Let's go outside," I agreed. Head down, I followed him past a leering Hank, feeling like a naughty kid going to the principal's office.  

Nathan entered the newsroom, a camera slung over his shoulder, stopping to stare at Burton. "Jazz, is everything jake?"  

"Everything's berries." I smiled to pacify him but, I admit, I had the jitters.  

"I remember him. Your boyfriend?" Burton seemed amused.  

"He's the staff photographer." I ignored his crack. "And a good friend."  

Outside, I felt safe among the throng of people and automobiles passing by in a rush. The hustle and bustle of the streets and sidewalks seemed almost comforting. I looked around for Golliwog, our resident stray cat, but she must have been making her daily rounds for scraps.  

"How was lunch?" In broad daylight, Burton didn't seem quite as menacing or intimidating. Besides, a group of hard-boiled reporters peered out the newsroom, spying on us.  

"Fine." I covered my growling stomach. "What brings you here?"  

"Sorry to barge in that way." He smiled, tugging on his hat. "But I had to get your attention. You wouldn't give me the time of day the other night." 

"Can you blame me? A raid isn't exactly the best way to meet new people."  

"I think we got off on the wrong foot." He stuck his hands in his pockets, jingling some change. "Perhaps we can talk over dinner, instead of standing out here on the sidewalk?"  

"Dinner?" Was he serious? "Just like that?" I snapped my fingers. "You waltz in as if you owned the place—like you did at the Oasis—and expect me to dine out with you, a total stranger, because of your badge? You've got a lot of nerve, mister."  

"I wouldn't be a Prohibition agent if I didn't." He looked smug. "How about tonight?"  

"Tonight? I usually work late." I admit, I was curious. What did he really want?  

"Every night?" He raised his brows. "Don't they let you off for good behavior?"  

"For starters, I don't even know you and what I do know, I don't like at all." I squinted in the sun. "And I don't appreciate the way you bullied us at the Oasis. I thought people were innocent until proven guilty, not the other way around." I wasn't usually so bold and blunt with strangers, especially lawmen. Maybe it was his youth, or maybe I'd finally found my moxie.  

"You must mean Sammy. Fair enough." He held up his hands. "If it makes you feel any better, my gun wasn't loaded that night."  

"Small comfort now, after you scared everyone half to death." So it was all an act? 

Burton looked down at his boots, as if reconsidering his options. "I hoped you could get to know me over dinner, but how about a quick bite now? I haven't eaten."  

"Why not?" I nodded, not wanting to let on that I was famished.

Burton stopped at a sandwich vendor on the corner, and tried to pay for my lunch and Nehi, but I pulled out a quarter before he did. It wasn't a date!  

"Where can we talk, in private?" He motioned towards the newsroom. "Away from prying eyes and ears."  

Anxious, I led him towards a city park and we sat on opposite ends of a bench, my clutch bag like a barricade, keeping my distance.

"So what's the emergency? Why did you come by today, out of the blue? I hope I'm not under arrest!" I half-joked.


Best wishes to you, Ellen, for a great launch of Flappers Flasks and Foul Play.

Slainthe!

Saturday, 24 November 2012

What catches the attention?



When it comes to writing a review for another author, or reading reviews of my own novels, it's clear that they can vary such a lot. In general, though, there needs to be something in the novel that all readers latch on to. 
What would you say is the common aspect in these clipped pieces from reviews of THE BELTANE CHOICE? 
 
 
'Full of sensual descriptions and evocative vocabulary, ‘The Beltane Choice’ explores the role of a strong, determined female in a patriarchal culture. Nancy Jardine’s disciplined prose expresses sexual repression and dramatic tension in its well-focussed narrative. I was fascinated by the reconstruction of Celtic tribal life, leaving me wanting to discover more about the culture and beliefs.' Jeff Gardiner
‘The plight of captives in the ancient world is shown well, as is the looming threat of Rome to the free Celtic peoples.’ Lyndsay Townsend

‘Impeccable prose, suitably matched to the times of turbulent Roman Britain, marches the story towards a fitting political and personal conclusion - but not without some satisfying twists.’ Jane Bwye

‘Nancy Jardine weaves an intriguing plot with very interesting colorful secondary characters. The writing is brilliant and I found myself totally immersed in the ancient Celtic world. She has certainly used a lot of historical research and authentic details for her storyline. The very dramatic context and romantic conflict are skillfully combined. The dialogs are fantastic and the phrasing is so original it gives the characters’ speech a sense of genuine authenticity.

The wonderful descriptions have both captured my mind and fuelled my imagination. Ms. Jardine made me feel as though I had been transported to Northern Britannia of those troubled and perilous times. What a fabulous book! I give it 5 stars.’ Black Tulip

‘The Beltane Choice sweeps you back to when northern Britain was claimed by Celtic tribes who successfully banded together over time to drive back the unrelenting Roman Army. The love story of Lorcan and Nara is as wild as that untamed land and as sweet as heather mead. Nancy Jardine creates vivid settings and real characters you care about from page one. Loved this book!’ Kate Robbin

 ‘The sights, sounds, smells, homes, festivals and clothes of first century Scotland came to life for me and I warmed to the characters, especially grumpy old Tully. It made me want to find out more about what happened to those communities when the Romans came marching across the land.’ Kim Walker

‘Ancient history is the least genre that I would be interested to read but when I started reading The Beltane Choice, it has actually caught my attention and has changed my perspective. Nancy has successfully turned the past era to the present time and she made it more livable for the readers. The flow of the story is engaging and riveting; the characters are realistic and have definitely fulfilled its purpose.’ Lynn Bardo

‘The historical side is meticulously researched (it is set in Northern Britain in 71 AD, against the background of the Roman invasion) and has, at its heart the paradox of a conflict between conflicts (on the one hand, the inter-tribal conflicts that had riven British societies for centuries and, on the other, the conflict with the Roman invader that requires those societies to come together. As such, it combines a very human and personal story with a very believable vision of Late Iron Age society in Northern Britain.’ Mark Patton

 ‘I was riveted by this story of the Celts indigenous to the area of southern Scotland and northern England - not too much has been written about this turbulent time for the tribes, the Roman invasion.’ Mary Rose Caslin

‘The Celtic period in which this novel is set adds an extra dimension for readers who like history.’ Sceptic Meg

‘The book was set in a very interesting historical period and the author used this to her advantage’ Specs and Ginger




Friday, 23 November 2012

Review for How To Look Like You by Rose McClelland

How To Look Like You by Rose McClelland


I just finished reading this amusing read. Here's my review:

This is a highly entertaining book to read, easy to put down and pick up again if unable to read in one sitting. The lives of the characters are portrayed really well by Ms McClelland; the story well constructed (see later point too)

The life behind the door of reality TV is nicely done without being too detailed, the glitter that the viewer sees a bit dimmed behind those locked and closed doors. The disintegration of relationships, the development of new ones and the highlighting of shallow characters is all there. I found the main characters all pretty likeable, flaws and all, and it would be lovely to meet them ‘in real life’. At least one secondary character I found less so, and I’d be tempted to have a word or two in his ear. I won’t name names, you’ll just have to read the book yourself to find out! 

Even when I like a novel very much I still sometimes find something annoying about it - and for me that was the biting sarcasm and bitchiness of one of the characters which made her less likeable, yet so true to life. The dipping back and forth of character point of view I also found a bit irritating, at certain times during the novel, but it didn’t in the least dim my pleasure in reading it. 

I’d rate this book a strong 4 and three quarter stars...

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Paula Martin and 'Her Only Option'

I'm delighted to welcome my friend, Paula Martin, today. I can't quite remember where I first met her, but I think it was on the blog of a mutual author friend.  Paula's one of the most hard working authors I've had the pleasure of 'cyber'meeting, so far, and she'll pull out the stops to help anyone with a problem! 

She has another new release to share with us today and, yet again, it sounds like fantastic read.



That's a fantastic looking cover, Paula. Tell us a bit about it, please. 


My latest novel, ‘Her Only Option’, was released at the beginning of this month, two years after it was first inspired by my visit to Egypt in October 2010. At the start of my visit, I didn’t consciously think, “This might be a good setting for a novel.” I was far more excited about seeing some of the ancient sites.

I’d always dreamed of visiting the Valley of the Kings, and could hardly believe it when I finally stood in the antechamber of Tutankhamen’s tomb, and peered over the railing into the burial chamber where the gold sarcophagi had been found. I marvelled at the vastness of the Temple of Karnak at Luxor, with its carved columns, and huge carved wall friezes.
image courtesy of Paula Martin

I held my breath as the sun rose over Lake Nasser, turning the pre-dawn greyness of the Abu Simbel temples into a glorious sandy gold. I enjoyed watching ordinary life going on in the small villages we passed as our ship cruised along the wide river from Luxor to Aswan.

So many indelible memories remain printed on my mind. However, the moment when the first seed of a story idea was sown in my mind came, not at any of the amazing ancient sites, but during an afternoon’s relaxation on the sundeck of our ship when it was moored at Aswan. I started to imagine my (as yet unnamed) hero and heroine on a cruise ship sundeck, and then wondered, “What if they were on different cruise ships but met when the ships were moored alongside each other?”

That moment marked the start of the process of creating a new novel. First I had to work out who these two people were, and then to think about what story they were going to create for me.

Here’s the result:

Neve Dalton loves her job as a tour guide on a River Nile cruise ship as much as she values her independence. She isn’t ready to settle down with her Egyptian boyfriend, despite his repeated proposals and his father’s desire to see him married.

Nor is she ready to meet Ross McAllister, a compelling and fascinating archaeologist. She struggles against her growing attraction to him until she can no longer ignore what her heart is telling her. This is the man who sets her soul on fire.

When she starts receiving cryptic messages, and Ross’s work in the famous Valley of the Kings is threatened, Neve has to make a heart-breaking and life-changing decision which she feels is her only option.

Can they discover whose enmity is forcing them apart before it’s too late?

And here’s the scene where they first meet, on the sundecks of two neighbouring cruise ships:

Pulling off her ponytail band and running her fingers through her natural waves, she returned to the sun-lounger where she’d left her bag. After daubing herself liberally with sunscreen, she adjusted the large umbrella to give some protection from the strong afternoon sunshine, and then leant back, relaxed and closed her eyes.
About half an hour later, conscious of something she couldn’t quite define, she half-opened one eye. A broad chest partly hidden by an unbuttoned blue shirt filled her line of vision.
Squinting against the brightness, she saw strong arms and well-formed hands. His slim fingers curled over the top rail of the neighbouring sundeck and she let her gaze travel down the horizontal bars. Her glance took in his strong abdominal muscles, the curve of his slim hips, clad in tight-fitting red swimming trunks and his long, muscular legs.
Mmm, rather nice, was her immediate reaction.
“Good afternoon,” he said.
Embarrassed that her eyes had surveyed the length of his body, she looked up at his face. Even though he wore sunglasses, she knew he was staring at her.
“Oh—hello.” She sat upright and wished she could pull her large beach towel around her as a shield against his scrutiny.
He slid his glasses to the top of his head, flattening his thick dark hair. She couldn’t help but notice his amazing blue eyes. They reminded her of the shimmering ultramarine water of the ship’s swimming pool. His tanned features were as impressive as his male physique—broad forehead, high cheekbones, the slight indent of dimples in his cheeks, a wide mouth and a finely chiselled jaw.
Some primeval response stirred inside her.
“I was admiring your beautiful figure.” His deep voice held the faint lilt of a Scottish accent. “I hope you don’t object?”
A shaft of disappointment quenched her initial spark of interest. For some reason, she’d expected him to be different from the smooth-talking posers who sometimes tried to chat her up. Instead, it seemed he was simply another cruise-ship Casanova who thought flattering words in a deep honey-rich voice would make women fall at his feet.
Politeness to guests was rule number one, however, especially as he was on one of the Rahman cruise ships. Her professional persona surfaced. “Not at all.” She kept her voice casual while giving what she hoped was her best ‘I know your type and you don’t impress me one bit’ smile.
“You look lonely,” he said.
Realising her coolness hadn’t put him off, she reached for the bottle of sunscreen from the small table next to her lounger. “I’m enjoying the solitude. It doesn’t happen very often.” Maybe he’d take the hint from that.
He didn’t. “So where’s everyone else?”
“If you mean the guests, they’ve gone to the airport. The next group is due to arrive about five o’clock.”
“Ah, you’re staff then. What do you do? No, don’t tell me—” His glance slid down her body again. “With a figure like yours, you have to be with the Health and Fitness Club.”
“I’m a tour guide,” she replied, with as much dignity as she could muster.
“Oh, one of those.”
She bristled with indignation. Not just a cruise-ship Casanova, but a rude one too. “One of those? What’s that supposed to mean?”
He shrugged. “You hear them everywhere you go. Churning out half-baked facts from poorly-written and often inaccurate guide books.”
Her indignation flared into annoyance. “And that’s what you think tour guides do?”
“Most of them, yes.”
The man was insufferable. If she hadn’t been so annoyed by his condescending dismissal, she’d have informed him that she held a degree in Egyptology. But he wasn’t worth the effort. Anyway, he’d probably make another derogatory comment in response.
“So what do you do?” she asked with sugar-coated politeness.
“I’m an archaeologist.”
“Oh, one of those.” She couldn’t stop herself from repeating his earlier words but wished she hadn’t when she saw the lift of his eyebrows followed by an amused glint in his eye.
“I asked for that, didn’t I?” His grin, showing even white teeth, was disarming and infuriating at the same time.

 Paula Martin had some early publishing success in her twenties with short stories and four contemporary romance novels, but then had a break from writing while she brought up a young family and also pursued her career as a history teacher for twenty-five years. She has recently returned to writing fiction, after retiring from teaching. and has had four  romance novels published, ‘His Leading Lady’ in June 2011, ‘Fragrance of Violets in February 2012’,‘Changing the Future’ in May 2012 and ‘Her Only Option’ in November 2012.
She lives near Manchester in North-West England, and has two daughters and two grandsons. Apart from writing, she enjoys visiting new places and has travelled extensively in Britain, mainland Europe, the Middle East, America and Canada. Her favourite places are the English Lake District and Ireland. She’s also interested in musical theatre and tracing her family history.

Group Blog (with 3 other writers): http://heroineswithhearts.blogspot.com

Find all her books on Amazon http://amzn.to/KtlU6Y

I have to read this one soon, Paula. I loved the little bit of Egypt that I visited years ago, but I only saw the areas nearest to Cairo. The Valley of the Kings, Karnak... there are so many parts of Egypt for me to still visit. 

Thank you for popping in today, and my best wishes for great sales.

Slainthe! 


Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Review for PLAYING ON COTTON CLOUDS

I just read a great book called Playing on Cotton Clouds by Michela O'Brien. I gave it 5 *****



Here's the review I posted on amazon and Goodreads.



An engrossing read!

I really enjoyed reading this book! Emerging adulthood, for some, is a wonderful, carefree time with an emphasis on achieving what you daily desire. For others growing up is a painful, disappointing and distressing time where little of what you want seems achievable, and alternatives are sought. That’s the way of it for Michela O’Brien’s characters, and very true to life in general. Aiden is a likeable character, full of flaws, and seemingly successful in his love life. But does he get his just desserts? You have to read the book to decide that one. Seth is a darker, more complicated character, his dependencies intricate and heartbreaking, at times. Of the female characters Livy’s experience and maturity is gained painfully – but she’s a doughty survivor. What I loved about this book are the themes that run through it, and how those very themes can take a circuitous route at times. Loyalty is a very strong theme. How the sexually carefree Aiden presents that loyalty is well crafted, his deviations believable since that’s how life is. I rooted for Livy’s loyalty to be rewarded but was it? I’m not so sure. Love in many different forms and depths, is very well portrayed in Playing on Cotton Clouds- also reflecting life in general. I have no hesitation in recommending this book.



Monday, 19 November 2012

Monday Moments welcomes Willa Blair




 Wild Rose Press author, Willa Blair, has brought along her latest novel today.



Highland Healer

That's a very Scottish looking cover, Willa!  Being Scottish, I have to approve of the tartan and the...hmm...all the rest! Willa's not been on my blog before so I asked her some nosey questions to get to know her a little better. 
 
Did you always plan to be a writer or was it something that just happened? 

I think I was born to write.  I was my state’s winner in a national essay contest in the 7th grade, I wrote essays, articles and poems for school publications, and even started some books.  I still have a few of those books--handwritten in pencil that is fading away.    

What’s your favourite scene in Highland Healer? 

Toran shows up at the door of Aileana’s chamber after he’s kidnapped her from the lowlander army where she’s spent the last two years as the healer and taken her to his keep.  He can’t believe his eyes when he sees her backlit by the hearth fire.  She can’t believe his nerve, showing up at her door.  Neither knows whether to trust the other.  Both have a lot to gain, and to lose, by what they reveal by their words and actions.  

Do you have plans for a new book?  

Yes! 

That’s a beautifully positive answer, so is Highland Healer part of a series? 

Yes!  Book 2 is already with my editor, along with a synopsis of book 3, which I’m currently writing.

What message do you hope readers take away from Highland Healer?

The theme of this book is trust.  Toran has to learn to trust Aileana’s strange abilties (yes, there’s more than one) and that her expertise deserves as much respect as his.  Aileana has to learn to trust Toran, a man who has complete control over her life and well-being, despite having spent the last two years as the prisoner of another powerful and dangerous man.  They both must learn to trust that the other is their perfect partner before they can move forward and live happily ever after.  

It sounds like a great series, and being Scottish how can I not like you writing about Scottish heroes!

Buy link to Amazon:  http://ning.it/PbhhUB

Blurb:  
HE NEEDS HER FOR HIS CLAN.
HE WANTS HER FOR HIMSELF.
CAN HE HAVE BOTH?
Toran Lathan never expected to become Laird, and never expected to meet a woman like Aileana Shaw. Her healing ability is just what his people need, but Toran cannot resist her beauty. Yet will loving him destroy her ability to heal?

Aileana Shaw has a healing touch – and a special talent she must keep secret. Stolen from her home by a marauding army, she’s kidnapped again by the Highland Laird she heals. Is she a prize of war, or the prize of his heart?

While Toran battles the invading lowland army, he also battles his desire for Aileana. And Aileana must decide if she can trust her secrets to this fierce warrior who needs her talent, but wants her love.

Excerpt:

Despite his threats a few moments before, she had sensed no real animosity in him. She’d been treated well since arriving at the Aerie. Her dream of a home, with people who cared about her, perhaps a family of her own, rose unbidden to her mind, and with it came a familiar lump in her throat. She was tired, she thought, to let that longing overwhelm her now. She folded her arms under her breasts and kept her eyes on the flames. She heard Toran move from the door to stand behind her. She tensed as his hands came to rest on her shoulders. He turned her gently, but irresistibly, to face him.

“What should I do with so beautiful, so valuable, a prize?” he murmured, almost to himself.

His deep blue gaze ensnared Aileana as completely as his hands. She knew she should be outraged at being called a prize. He’d done it before, on the way here. Did he truly see her that way? She refused to be chattel any longer, she told herself, and would not allow him to treat her so. But she found she could not summon her ire. One of his hands left her shoulder and he lightly touched her cheek, then slowly slid his fingers down her throat to her collarbone.

There, he hesitated, and Aileana held her breath until he moved the hand back to her shoulder.
His simple touch sent shivers dancing and nearly undid her.


Willa Blair is the award-winning author of Scottish Historical and Contemporary Romance, both with a touch of the paranormal.    
 She grew up reading science fiction and loved books about psi talents.  With her Scottish heritage, writing a Scottish historical and incorporating those special talents made perfect sense to her. The result is her award-winning debut book, HIGHLAND HEALER, the first in her Highland Talents series. The official release date is 4 January 2013, but it’s already out on Amazon Kindle.

Married to her own military hero golf fanatic, she lives in the Texas Hill Country north of San Antonio.



HIGHLAND HEALER w/a Willa Blair, available NOW on Amazon Kindle http://ning.it/PbhhUB
Available January 4, 2013 from The Wild Rose Press
Twitter @willablair

Thank you for featuring on Monday Moments, Willa. Good luck with that great sounding series. 

Slainthe!

Friday, 16 November 2012

Another great 5* review for The Beltane Choice

A new 5 * review has just been posted on amazon UK and Goodreads for The Beltane Choice. My thanks to Lyndsay Townsend for these lovely words.







5.0 out of 5 stars Authentic Celtic romance 16 Nov 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
From its exciting, tense opening, 'The Beltane Choice' grips and never lets go. Nara, the heroine, is of her time - a brave, independent young woman mysteriously rejected by her own family yet striving to do the best for her tribe. Lorcan, the man who rescues her then captures her, is an enemy - or is he?

The sparks between these two feel real and the whole setting is authentic and very realistic. The attitudes of the ancient Celts are brought vividly to life by Nancy Jardine and Lorcan, a man with tactical understanding and compassion as well as courage, is a superb hero. The plight of captives in the ancient world is shown well, as is the looming threat of Rome to the free Celtic peoples. In the end, to save their tribes, Nara and Lorcan must make a heat-breaking choice - so will they win through to their own deserved happy ending? The way they do so is very beautiful.

If you are looking for a historical romance that is different, authentic and original and rooted thoroughly in the past, look no further.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Secrets of the Sapphires has popped in!

I'm delighted to have Toni Sue Versteeg, a fellow TWRP author, visiting. She's been game for a very short interview and has brought the blurb and an extract from her Wild Rose Press release-Secrets of the Sapphires.


I’ve recently been a guest on your Friday Funny slot on your blog. Can you tell us, please, which genre of writing is your preference? 

While Romance is my genre, I have several sub-genres that I love writing. Paranormal is first. There is something about the unknown and undiscovered that makes me tick. The second is actually comedy. I guess that’s where the Friday Funny comes from. I do love to tangle the mystery into pretty much everything.


How long have you been a published writer?  

My first novel, Another Time, Another Place, was first released by a very small press in December, 2006.

How long does each book take to write?  

That answer is all over the place. It depends on how much the muse decides to cooperate. ;) My first book took me about 5 years, where I actually completed another during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).


I find myself doing a lot of research. Did you need to do a lot of research to create your work?  

I’m a research-aholic. Google is my best friend! During my most recent book, I involved a lot of people in my research: fellow writers, an IT professional, and even a vampire expert.

Do you have a preference for using settings you’ve personally experienced or do you create a totally fictional landscape? 

I’ve always lived by the words ‘write what you know’ when it comes to settings. Of course, the research came in handy with England. I’ve never been there, but I will one day. It is at the top of my bucket list.

What’s the name of your most recently released novel? 

Secrets of the Sapphires

Describe your heroine in ten adjectives.  

Stubborn, proud, obstinate, beautiful, broken, lonely, lost, good, honest, loyal.

What are you working on just now? 

The sequel to Secrets of the Sapphires. It is tentatively titled Coming Back to Bite You.

What words describe you best? 

Unfortunately, procrastinator would be the top. I work on adrenaline best. I’m also determined, appreciative, and pretty darned funny at times. ;)

Do you have goals for 2013? 

My goals for the New Year are pretty lofty.  I did just sign a contract with New York Times best-selling author Gemma Halliday to co-author her new series. We start writing in January! I can’t tell you how excited I am!

That sounds incredibly exciting, Toni Sue. My best wishes to you for getting a great start on it. 

Here's the blurb for Secrets of the Sapphires, followed by a great little excerpt so keep reading! 

Nia Brooks entered the CIA to get to the bottom of her parents' deaths. Joining the Paranormal Division, she learns to fend for herself after dealing with prejudice, not to mention the vampires and shifters. Paired with an egotistical agent, the bloodsuckers and hairy boys don't seem so bad.

Garrett Van Deren has his own agenda behind joining the CIA. When his dead partner's body disappears without a trace, Garrett knows the vampire underground is responsible and the Paranormal Division offers him answers. He slams head first into a roadblock when he meets his new partner. A hundred pounds soaking wet, he'll be babysitting instead of tracking down the killer. 

Tossed back in time by a mysterious white sapphire, two headstrong agents must learn to trust one another while they search for a way back to the Twenty-First Century and the people responsible for the rift in time.

Excerpt:

Gasping for air, Nia found herself in awe of her surroundings. What must have been the dungeon in the castle’s first days was now an open, cavernous room. Stone pillars braced the floor in even spaces throughout. A ledge ran along the bottom of the wall across the entire expanse with random holes divoting the floor and wall. The only structures within the depths were a small metal cage standing in front of a makeshift wooden booth.

As Gentry shoved her inside the cage and locked the door, he answered the question rambling around in her muddled mind, “We keep this cage here for our less willing participants.”

She tried to stand but slid through cool, thick liquid on the floor and fell against the rough bars. Barbs tearing through her skin, she looked down to tend her arm. The dark red puddle of blood she was standing in caught her attention instead.

She looked up at Gentry through the window of the booth now and screamed, “You bastard! Is he dead?”
“Hmm,” his voice rang out over a microphone, “he wasn’t when I sent him back in time, but he was bleeding pretty badly…as you see.”

A bright light blinded her, distracting her from screaming the obscenities on the tip of her tongue. A sparkle on the front of the cage caught her eye. She made out the form of an emerald-shaped clear stone with floral engraving hanging from the side of the cage as the light source narrowed and honed in.

Reaching toward the glittering gem, she uttered, “Mom’s necklace,” as the light shifted into a beam through the facets of the jewel and slammed into her chest. The light spread throughout her, ripping her apart. Nia’s shrill scream echoed in her own head.

Buy links for Toni Sue on The Wild Rose Press

Amazon.com
http://www.amazon.com/Secrets-Sapphires-T-Sue-VerSteeg/dp/1612171796/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1352838446&sr=1-1&keywords=Secrets+of+the+Sapphires



It's been great having you here today, Toni Sue. The very best wishes for successful sales. 

Slainthe! 

Monday, 12 November 2012

Monday Moments presents Monogamy Twist

Today's Monday Moments features Monogamy Twist.

You don't need too much introduction today since I'm the author. A first novel to be published will probably always have a place in an author's heart. It may not be the best constructed book they've ever written, but if it's got to the stage of being a solid print book (e-book version too) I'm sure it will be memorable. I certainly feel that way. I will never forget the first excitement of the contract, doing the edits, getting the front cover design, being given a release date and then the waiting. Feeling that book in my hands was fantastic! 

Monogamy Twist is my first history/ mystery. No, I'm not writing a series of books, it just seems that I'm inclined to writing novels with some form of historical/ ancestral based content. I guess my love of history has more than a little to do with that. 

Monogamy Twist has some interesting scenes that my editor of the time asked more than once to have the sex 'ramped up' even more, before she was satisfied it fit the Champagne Line for the Wild Rose Press. 

 




Blurb:
Luke Salieri thought he'd seen everything. But when he inherits a dilapidated English estate from a woman he's never heard of—and with quirky conditions besides—it’s a mystery he wants resolved immediately. There must be a woman out there who can meet his needs. But how far will he have to go to persuade her? Lucrative employment for a whole year? The job of researching the old house and its fantastic contents is enticing – but Rhia Ashton can’t see herself living with gorgeous Luke Salieri and not wanting his body as well. Can she live and sleep with him for a whole year and then walk away? Rhia has her own ideas about what will make it worth her while.

Excerpt:


He ripped off his jacket and threw it across the room. Her ears rang like a clarion but she refused to acknowledge it as he ranted. “You’ve signed that bloody contract and Greywood needs you now! What you’ve started you have to finish!”
Bloody Hell! The way she was feeling she’d leave him high and dry…but Greywood?
She lifted her head. Luke’s natural olive skin tone was leached to a greyish white. Too bad! He deserved to feel as sick as she’d been feeling all day!
Her words were a whisper. “Who is Danielle?”
“Nobody important,” Luke answered into the dark, sinister cloud that enveloped them. His rage was under wraps for now, subdued by her example. At her unimpressed glare he added, “She’s a woman I was dating before I met you.”
Rhia exhaled, her chest heaving with the effort of replying, her eyes puffy from an earlier bout of crying. “Before you met me or…” her voice trembled on the last word “…while?”
“While?”
“Last weekend in London?” Her eyes were the sharpest darts, very pained darts, but she didn’t care now if Luke noticed or not. “Did you meet up with her then?” Her chin wobbled on the last, so difficult had it been to get the words out, but there was no way she was going to be palmed off with lies or platitudes.
“Sod it! I’m not going to lie to you!”
Luke wrenched off his tie to the beat of some impressive Italian swearing. Plonking himself on the edge of the bed beside her he took a cautious breath before replying.
“Yes, I saw her in London last weekend.”
Rhia couldn’t stifle the sniff as she slid away from him.

Monogamy Twist is available in print and e-book from The Wild Rose Press, B&N, Amazon