Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Miriam Newman: 'The King's Daughter'


Born to a dying queen and an ambitious king, Tarabenthia is heir to the crown of Alcinia.  Yet when the idyll of her childhood ends she will defy her father, tipping the balance in a world poised on the brink of destruction and leaving history to judge whether she is heroine or harlot.

In a time of war, what would you surrender in the name of love?

There was only one direction I could look and that was down the road where we had just come.  Now someone else was coming straight up the middle so that people scattered like chickens.  A young, unhelmeted Omani trooper was riding down that road on a fine long-legged gray horse, bawling in a voice which did not doubt its own authority.  Though I couldn’t hear the words, I knew what he was saying—troops were coming and he wanted the way cleared NOW.

 I couldn’t clear the road.  I was chained in it and knew my peril.  There was a
curve in that road and by the time they saw me, it would be too late.  My only hope was
that Frado would unfasten the manacles and push me off the road and for a fraction of
a second I actually thought he might do it, if only to avoid trouble with the Army.  He
got free of a woman who had been throwing melons at his head when she ran for her
life and came back beside me, but he was still in a fury and it was only to punch me
in the face.

I heard the gray horse score the cobblestones, launching into a full charge.
Sparks flew where his metal shoes beat on the stones as he came like evil incarnate,
ears pinned and teeth bared, head snaking as he went straight for Frado.  Fat as he was,
Frado could by no means get over the wall on my side of the street and started to
trundle to the other side and, with that, the horse was on him.  He was obviously a
well-trained cavalry mount and I thought the rider meant to let him savage his target.  
But at the last moment the trooper swung his horse just enough to clear Frado, jerked
his foot from the stirrup and kicked the slaver squarely in the back at a speed just under
that of a battle charge.  The force was so great that it picked up that mountain of a man
like a doll and deposited him face down near the opposite side of the street.
My vision had taken on the preternatural sharpness that precedes seeing nothing
and I saw in heart-stopping detail the first of what seemed like a hundred horses coming
around the curve at a fast canter.  If I had been in better condition, I would have
wondered why a number like that was coming at such speed through a country at peace,
but just then I was in no condition to care.  I lay there like something thrown on the
midden heap.

That point man didn’t have the job, though, because he was slow or stupid.  I
heard the noise of his horse coming back and saw a boy no older than myself with a
shining mane of chestnut hair already dropping from his trotting mount and running
towards me with the horse close behind.  With no time to spare, he clucked his horse
over me in the position a war horse takes to shield a fallen rider, dropped the reins
and threw himself on top of me.  He was protecting me with his body, arms curled
over my head, pulling my face into his chest, so I saw little of what followed, but I
heard it:  the tremendous din of all those horseshoes, riders cursing, horses snorting
in surprise, and the squealing and kicking of the horse over top of us.  That boy was
holding me like a lover and I could feel from his involuntary shudders that he was
inches from death, but he never moved and neither did his horse.  The troopers didn’t
want to kill their own man and horses listen to each other better than they do to us, so
between the efforts of riders and the violence of the gray horse trying to save his rider
the line shifted and passed and I was still alive.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Review of Tangled Love

I am delighted to share this review of Tangled Love which is at Amazon.uk kindle books.

Love, betrayal, treasure trove,

J. Pittam "Maythorn" (Hertfordshire, England)

This review is for: Tangled Love (Kindle Edition)
I very much enjoyed this new author. Tangled Love is set at the turn of the 18th century it follows the fortunes of Richelda, poverty-stricken daughter of a now-dead Jacobite. Richelda is haunted by the childhood oath she made at her father's instigation, to regain their ancestral home. She knows she has little chance of fulfilling that dream - until her wealthy aunt promises to make Richelda her heiress. But there is a condition; she must marry the man of her aunt's choosing- Viscount Lord Chesney. Richelda's feelings for Chesney are ambivalent and her heart already belongs to her peniless childhood companion, Dudley.

Love and betrayal, misplaced loyalties, even the promise of a treasure trove make this an charming story with a well-rounded, believable heroine and a delicious hero. Rosemary Morris's attention to historical detail brings period and place vividly to life. More please.

All the best,
Rosemary Morris

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Guest Blog with Helen Hollick

I'm delighted to announce that I am a guest of Helen Hollick, the international best seller, at:http://helen-myguests.blogspot.com.

Helen asked me to invite ten guests - visit the blog to find out who I invited. I hope you will find them intriguing,

All the best,


Tangled Love the tale of two great houses and their owners set in 1706 available now from MuseItUppublishing,Kindle,Kobo,Sony-e-reader and elsewhere.

A Noble Place out now!

A Noble Place by Anne Brear

A Noble Place is set mostly in Berrima and surrounding district of the Southern Highlands of New South Wales.

Australia 1850. Phillippa Noble, strong minded, spirited and adventurous, urges and encourages her
parents and her twin to emigrate to the distant land of Australia to begin again. In a new country they can
put their tainted past behind them, and Pippa can forget the unrequited love she felt for a distant cousin.
Pippa blossoms in the new country and is determined that their horse stud will be the finest in the land.
However, circumstances ensure that not all is golden. For every success, she has to bear up under the
challenges of bushfire, death, the return of an old love and danger on the goldfields. Her strength is tested
as she tries to find the right path to happiness, but it is the near loss of her dearest friend that makes her
realise true contentment rests within her grasp and she must not let it go.

The sharp scent of eucalyptus permeated the air and Pippa sniffed deeply, wondrously. At intervals, trees
thick with blooms of yellow, which she knew to be called wattles, punctuated the grey-green landscape and
gum trees let their little blooms of red dance in the breeze. She jerked suddenly as a low branch jagged at
her skirt. Her father helped to extricate the material and when her petticoat's lace hem tore, she cared little. Nothing and no one could spoil this day.
Gerald grimaced at the ruined fabric. "˜You should not have come, my dear."
"˜Nonsense, Father." Pippa grinned. "A little hardship strengthens character."
"Mr Noble." Robson gestured to a large eucalyptus trunk. The surveyor's initials were cut deep into the bark.
Gerald consulted his maps. "This ridge ends another ten yards further on."
Pippa hurried the remaining distance, nearly tripping in her haste. She stepped beyond a large tree and
stopped. Below, bathed in golden glory, lay their valley. Tingles of excitement mixed with reverent joy
sucked her breath away. She scanned the horizon of rugged hills and then gazed down at the inviting valley. It was everything she'd dreamed of and more because it was real. "It's perfect."
"How in God's name are we to get down there with the wagon?" Robson mumbled, breaking her spell of
wonder. He walked closer to the edge and peered down at the jagged outcrops of rocks and boulders that
broke up the density of the trees.
Gerald took off his hat and wiped his sweating forehead with a handkerchief. "Maybe further along there is
an easier route down."
They walked on for another hundred yards before finding another tree with the surveyor's initials marked in it
and also an arrow scratched next to them. Robson pointed to a gentler slope and a roughly cut track
snaking through the trees and scrub. "If the surveyor went down there, then that must be the easiest way."
He frowned. "I wonder if he took transports."
"Likely packhorses." Gerald studied his maps again.
Pippa walked to the edge of the slope. She paused to gauge the steepness and then reached for a nearby
sapling to keep her steady as she edged her way down.
Her father's shout made her stop and glance back. "It's all right, Father. Hold on to the trees."
Robson and Gerald hurried towards her and gingerly made their way down to her side. Gerald gripped her
arm. "You are too headstrong. It was a foolish thing to do."
She tossed her head. "I wasn't going to be left behind."
"You'll be the death of me, girl," Gerald panted and wiped his forehead again.
As they concentrated on getting safely to the bottom, the sounds of the bush intensified. An unseen bird
made the sound of a whiplash cutting the air, flies buzzed, twigs snapped underfoot and small lizards
slithered over rocks.
The track brought them out on the left side of the valley. At the bottom, the trees and scrub thinned out to
grassy plains. Emerging out of the shade, the heat intensified. Pippa wished she had brought her parasol
with her, but had left it in the gig so she could hold her skirts up with both hands. Sweat trickled inside her
collar and dampened her bonnet. She licked her dry lips. "Is there water close by?"
"Here, miss, I have water with me." Robson handed her a leather-bound canteen.
"Thank you." She stopped to drink and chuckled as the cool and pleasant water trickled down her chin.
Drinking from a canteen was an art she had not yet mastered.
"Do you see that thin line of gum trees in the middle over there?" Robson pointed in front of them.
Pippa studied the ragged thin line and nodded.
"Those trees edge the creek bank." He turned to Gerald. "Do you see that flat rise to the right of the creek
bend, Mr Noble?"
"Aye, lad, I do."
Robson smiled. "I think it would make an ideal homestead site."
Gerald slapped Robson on the shoulder. "I think you may be right, my man."
Pippa hesitated as the two men walked on. She slowly turned a full circle, taking in the broad sweep of the
valley. Acres of waist-high brown grass rippled in the infinite breeze like a long slow wave on a lazy sea.
She strolled on, enjoying the feeling of walking on her own land. She now understood the power it gave men
and why they did almost anything to acquire property. They broke their backs trying to keep it viable in the
hard times and, in good times, they looked to buy more.
The intensity of her feelings was frightening. Her land. Her future.

Anne Whitfield has written a wonderful saga of passion, promise and survival featuring a strong and valiant
heroine who is in the same league as Catherine Cookson's Tilly Trotter and Barbara Taylor Bradford's
Emma Harte in A Woman of Substance. Courageous and independent, Pippa Noble is a heroine readers
will admire, cheer for and hope to emulate.
With its spellbinding blend of romance, heartbreak, passion and drama, A Noble Place is the perfect book
to curl up with on a cold autumn night. Don't miss it!
Review by Julie for SingleTitles.com

Buy now for Kindle!

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Happy Valentines! Come share the Romance!

Happy Valentine's Day! Please come share the romance - tell us if you are doing anything romantic today and please feel free to add your romantic reads to the comments section below.

Tell us about your books and stories! If you have any offers or Giveaways for Valentines, please feel free to add those in the comments section, too!

Friday, 10 February 2012

Whispering Shadows

Whispering Shadows is a romantic ghost story with a mystery, set close to Florence in Italy.  I got the idea for it when visiting one of the many museums there. It was first published by Mills & Boon, later by Severn House, and is now enjoying a new life as an ebook.

Abigail Carter feels stifled as companion to Emilia Goodenough, and the responsibility of her wayward sister Polly. Then Emilia's nephew, Carl Montegne, sweeps the ladies off to Italy to help him search for the long lost family fortune. But even a romantic castello doesn't stem the friction between them - until the quest suddenly turns to danger, and Abigail discovers the extent of her feelings. 

This short extract comes when Abigail is helping Carl to clean and restore his family's castello.

'What will you do with this place?’ she asked, and Carl’s jaw tightened as if she had no right to put such a question.
   ‘Live in it, what else?’
   She stared at him consideringly for a moment, but the question niggling in her mind had to be asked. ‘How could you afford to?’ By the narrowing of his eyes and the white line that formed above the rigid mouth Abigail saw she’d over stepped the boundary of good manners despite her efforts to the contrary. ‘I’m sorry; it really is none of my business.’ He looked so infuriated and yet oddly flattened by her question that she felt guilty and instinctively put out a hand. ‘Forget it. I had no right to ask.’ Desperately she looked about for a diversion. ‘What a very splendid fireplace. And that brass clock is showing the solar system, is it not? How lovely.’
    ‘My father was born here.’
     Abigail looked up at him in surprise. She saw by the tautness of the skin about the eyes the strain he was under, and by the set of his shoulders how he fought it. When he said nothing more she quickly averted her eyes from his face. ‘I dare say they used to cut logs the length of small trees for this dog grate.’ Anything to fill the awkward silence.
   Carl was still standing by the vast sideboard, fingering Saturn as if to etch it into his memory. ‘There would once have been pewter and silver plate on this sideboard, majolica from Urbino, and, on the floor, skins and embroidered rugs from the East. A house with money and style, but, I think, very little love. My father, Filippo, ran away from his home while still a young man because he did not get on with his own father, as I in my turn did not get on with mine.’

   ‘How very sad.’
   He shrugged as if it were of no account, yet she knew that was not the case. ‘My grandfather, Guiliano di Montegelo, was said to be very autocratic and had it in mind for my father to marry a rather dull elderly lady who had ample funds but few charms.’ Carl gave the ghost of a smile. ‘My father refused and ran away with my mother, Vittoria, a girl he had known all his life.’
   ‘How romantic.’ Abigail was staring at the softened face, entranced. But this sensitivity was soon masked and the tone became cool and practical once more.
   ‘Not in the least. They spent half a lifetime wandering like gypsies, determined not to return here, waiting for the old man to die, so wrapped up in their own needs there was no place in their life for anything or anyone else, not even a small boy.’
   ‘That’s why they sent you to England, to school?’
   ‘Let’s say that I was an encumbrance.’ The bitter tone showed how deeply the hurt had scored. ‘But the castle, now that the old man is long dead, and with no other di Montegelo left but me, is now entirely mine.’ There was grim satisfaction in the voice and the dark eyes glittered with purpose. ‘I intend, for the first time in my life, to have a real home. To stay here, in Italy, and build a new life. Whatever it takes to restore this place to its former beauty will be done. I have to do it, do you see?’ He glared at her then, and as he looked into her eyes the gaze softened slightly and he smiled. ‘I don’t mean to sound so vehement, but it is important to me. Can you understand?’
   Abigail nodded and came to stand before him, to rest her hands impulsively upon his. ‘Oh, I do. And I’m sure that you will achieve your aim. You can do anything in the world if you want to, my mother always says so, and I believe that, don’t you?’
   Carl laughed out loud and, taking her by surprise, wrapped his arms about her, hugging her to him. ‘I wish I could. It is a pleasantly comforting maxim. What a treasure you are. But there was little money with the inheritance, and precious few signs of family artefacts here.’ He sighed, looking about him with a grim resignation, but still not releasing her from his hold. She felt her own breathing move in accord with his. ‘I am not without funds, but this project is going to take all of them and more besides.’
   Abigail had both of her hands flat against his broad chest. She could feel his heartbeat, her own seeming to match it as she smiled up at him. ‘I believe you can do it.’ His soft breath whispered over her lips as he looked down into her upturned face. She read a flicker of delight and surprise in his eyes, and something she didn’t dare name.
   After a long moment he allowed his lips to tilt into a smile. ‘Every man, they say, needs a woman to believe in him.’ He continued to study her, his hands holding her fast against the hard length of him, so that Abigail could not have moved had she wanted to. Never had she been so close to a man before and it made her go hot and cold all over just thinking about it. ‘I thank you,’ he said, and, reaching down, put his lips gently upon hers and kissed her.
   They tasted warm and slightly salty, and as Abigail melted against him she felt his hands curl into her back, gripping her tightly as if a spasm had shot through him. Then it was over and he was giving a half laugh, striding away from her, calling over his shoulder that they would do the rest of the house another day, while Abigail rocked upon her feet, her head in a spin.

You can download a longer sample or buy the book on Amazon:

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

My first MM story and first from Samhain is out today. The story takes place in two locations, Wyoming and London. Well, and a bit of the south coast! I used a location I researched on Google and then later went to see it for myself. (See me in photo) Lucky Google had it right!

Stockbroker meets stock breaker. But who’s taming whom?

London stockbroker Jasper Randolph flies to Jackson Hole with hopes as high as the Grand Tetons. Hope that the getaway will force him to let loose, get dirty, and overcome a deep-seated phobia about horseback riding.

He hadn’t counted on an attraction to the dude ranch owner’s son, a man with sun-tousled hair, eyes bluer than Wyoming skies…and a father who’d rather eat tofu than accept his only son’s sexuality.

The moment Calum lays eyes on the uptight, buttoned-down Brit, he’s lost. But with his own saddlebags full of emotional baggage, he knows he should be looking at anything but Jasper’s spotless riding boots and tight-fitting jodhpurs. Trouble is, Jasper makes his heart buck like a wild horse trying to break free.

Despite the differences that set them oceans apart, they fall hard and fast. Trouble isn’t far behind, and they’re in for a rocky romantic ride. Especially since there’s growing evidence that someone is willing to do anything—no matter how dangerous—to poison their love.

Product Warnings

Mix one sun-bronzed cowboy with a yummy Brit who’d give Darcy in his wet shirt a run for his money. Mix gently. Try not to drool.



Monday, 6 February 2012

David Russell's 'Further Explorations' now released!

Published by Devine Destinies: 'Further Explorations' by David Russell

ISBN# 978-1-77111-060-0
Series: #0
Word Count: 11611
Page Count: 67
Heat Level: 2
Category: Contemporary Romance

Purchase Link: http://www.devinedestinies.com/further-explorations/

David Russell


Energised by their lovely liberating experience, Janice and Cedric are determined to ‘spread their wings’ and take the world by storm, a two-person conspiracy. They head off physically in different directions, but remain in constant depth communication electronically, ever comparing notes, monitoring each other’s minds and experiences for a depth of mutual understanding. They may meet again fully equipped with a great depth of self-knowledge, and a knowledge of each other’s depth. They negotiate giddy peaks of high finance; Janice even does into ‘dreamscape’, making a pact with the devil. Further delights of sensuality are explored by both, with exotic partners; the depths and shallows of life are all embraced …


At last to be over there, down to earth, facing a new glitter, an array of visual and tactile delights… At last some real ice-breaking eye-contact in an all-American bar, and this time, massive breakthrough—no jitters! Zarinda’s iridescent, predatory eyes pierced through Adrian’s nerves and brain cells to his marrow. That perfect foil, seemingly non-existent in his past. With her swarthy skin and her obvious impulsiveness, she felt like the diametric opposite of Janice, therefore essential for him to complete his equation. On the first registering, Janice’s initial tentative quivering was erased by Zarinda’s radiant, undeflectable gaze. There was an ageless quality in her bearing, luscious blend of supple youth and maturity. These days there are those who can manage all that into their fifties and sixties.
Cedric blushed. “My impulses have recently been liberated. I have broken a blockage.”
She sized him up, down to the depths, with one penetrating glance. “You recently discovered the
right combination for your lock and now you can go ahead with me. Our vista is ever expanding.”

He had to go through the modulations of hair and skin colour, the gamut of cover, different sizes, too, but go easy on the cellulite, which was no great difficulty for him. To get the full relish and savour of all of this, he had to go through the wardrobe gamut that covered and garnished those bodies, lotions, fake tans and all, the flesh matching the photographs.

Meanwhile, Janice was sensually pulling on, zipping, buttoning those outfits whispering, “Have I perfected my magnetic allure?” He was going past the outfitters seeing his fantasy partners in and out of that array of garments through every shade of light and darkness…deliciously massed sensation of flesh, muscle and bone…the hardness of the latter sublimated as a foundation for suppleness, the crucial phrase, suspended on breath and tongue. “Undress me.”

They were in dream concert, synchronized and occasionally syncopated, strutting the world’s catwalks—starting horizontal, then ascending, oblique, to culminate in the spirit-bedroom, their path to ecstasy strewn with flowers of discarded velvet and shot silk. Their overwhelming electricity constantly recharged all the camera flashlights’ batteries. Their essence was diffused into the flashes. “Iconic perfection, darling!”

David Russell.

Sunday, 5 February 2012


My latest release, Sebastian's Salvation will be available on February 7, 2012 at Siren-BookStrand. The story occurs mostly in London with the heroine being the daughter of an earl. The hero is an American former Army Special Forces man. He's been wounded in a mission and is now the toast of London society as a painter of nudes. This story is a romantic suspense. Here's a link to the book trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z-DIBWvGsoI&feature=youtu.be


Joanna Gresham passed Margaret in the hallway of Bast’s building. Margaret carried a saddle under her arm.
Margaret stopped her and hitched the saddle to a more comfortable position. "You one of the many?"
"Many what?"
"Clients of Bast’s?"
Joanna shook her head. "No. But I’m thinking about it. I was at his show last night and am very impressed."
"With the man or the artist?" The woman smiled coyly
"The artist of course." Joanna stood tall and looked down her nose at the impertinent woman. The nerve to ask me such a thing. As if I’d be interested in a hoodlum.
"Don’t have to get huffy, Lady Joanna. All the women in town are swooning over the man. Some are even commissioning portraits just to tempt him with their bodies. No harm meant."
Joanna ran her hands through her hair. "Sorry. Just moody, I guess."
"No problem. Enjoy your session."
"I don’t have a session. I’m just going to talk."
"Good luck then. I think you’ll like Bast. I gotta go. Late for a practice run."
"Good luck with practice. Ta, Margaret." Joanna waved good-bye and approached the door to Bast’s atelier. Why am I so nervous? He’s just a man I want to hire. Why should I feel so skittish? Joanna knocked lightly on the door.
The door burst open, and the man asked, "What did you for—"
He stopped short. "Uh. Sorry, I thought you were Margaret, come back for something she forgot. She always leaves something behind."
"Is that why you were already at the door?"
He smiled. "Yeah. I give her about three minutes after she leaves to come dashing back. I thought I timed it right." His smile got larger.
Why does his smile have to be so spectacular? He’s gorgeous even with that scar across his face. "Sorry, it’s just me. I’m not sure if you remember—"
"Of course, I do. You’re the lady in the alley, the one that needed no help with her aching feet. Come on in." He opened the door wider to allow her access to the loft.
Once they were inside, he showed her over to a client chair. He took a seat behind the desk, leaned across the top, and asked, "What can I do for you?"
She put one hand on the desktop and scraped her nail across the surface. "I was at your show last night—"
"Yeah, I know. I saw you, remember?"
"I recall." She frowned. Was the man determined to make her feel stupid?
"Sorry, ma’am. I didn’t mean to interrupt you. Go on." Bast nodded his encouragement.
"I was thinking I might want a portrait of myself. Your work is impressive. Very tasteful. I know it seems like I’m just jumping on a trend, but I really am in awe of your abilities."
"Thank you, ma’am. I appreciate it. I’m a little full right now. The show last night garnered me a lot of commissions, and I’m afraid I don’t have time to add one more person to my schedule. I’ll be glad to put you on the waiting list." He pulled a pad out of his top drawer.
She stood, and the chair teetered and fell back against the wall. "I know what you’re doing. You jerk."
He leaned back in his chair and looked at her. His face showed no emotion. "What’s your problem, Lady?"
"Lady? You say it that way because you know who I am? You think you can be a sarcastic bastard to me?"
"Ma’am, you came in here, didn’t introduce yourself to me, and now you’re offended? I can’t figure that out. All I said was I have to put you on my waiting list. How you think that’s something offensive, I don’t know." He sat forward in the chair.
She glared. "I’m Lady Joanna Gresham. I don’t do waiting lists."
He stood up and walked around the desk to her. He got in her face and said, "I don’t do snobby Ladies. So, I suggest you get out of my studio."
Joanna pushed his chest. "I just bet you don’t do ladies." She looked around and took in the whole room and nodded toward the fainting couch under the window. "I bet you do the ladies right over there."
Enraged, he grabbed her arms and shoved her against the wall. He pressed against her. "If I wanted to do a lady, I’d do her right here against this wall." He lifted her off her feet as if she was no larger than a toy doll and pulled her over to the other client chair. He sat in it and pulled her on top of himself. "Or here in this chair."
She jerked off his lap and stumbled backward. "How dare you touch me, you arrogant—"
"What? Black bastard? Is that what you want to call me, your white holiness? Lady Joanna Gresham that doesn’t do waiting lists? Huh? Huh? That what you want to say?" He stood up.
She continued to back up. "You’re crazy. You know that? You’re insane."
He stalked toward her. "And you’re all alone here with me. A crazy, scar-faced, big black man who isn’t intimidated by a title. Now, what are you gonna do?"
"I’m leaving." She flounced toward the door.
Just as she got to the door and opened it, he slammed his hand on it and shut it. His body leaned against hers. He pressed against her and whispered, "I bet you always leave. When the going gets tough and you don’t get your way, you leave. Right?"
He let go of the door and stepped back. "Thank you for coming by, ma’am. I’ll be sure to not add you to the waiting list."

Friday, 3 February 2012

Gilli Allan: 'Torn'

“I love this novel! It’s warm and witty and sharp and clever and it made me think,” says Margaret James.

“I found it deeply moving,” says Katie Fforde.

“...emotional, sad, happy, funny and just generally fab! ”says Kim Nash. For Kim’s full, Five Star review go to:

“...A clever, thought-provoking read ... I hope Gilli will write more novels like this one,” says Lally. For Lally’s full, Five Star review go to: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/pdp/profile/AYMF754XCSYDW/ref=cm_cr_pr_pdp

“...TORN is anything but your standard romance with predictable conflicts and stereotypical characters. It's much much more, and a thoroughly enjoyable read,” says Sandra Nachlinger. For Sandy’s full, Five Star review go to:

“.... couldn't put it down. Romance in the real world. Highly recommended,” says Adele Granby.

“...Has a modern take on romance and doesn't flinch from the downsides. Well written, poignant with a very surprising ending, but still a feel good factor ... a 'must buy',” says Sacha.

Find the full reviews at:



To buy go to:  http://www.amazon.co.uk/TORN-ebook/dp/B004UVR81Y

In TORN Jessica has escaped from her old life and moved to the country. All she wants, after the turbulence of the past, is to be a good mother to her young son, with no distractions and no temptations.

But things are never that simple. She soon finds that country living is not like the glossy magazines. Though the problems are different there are still problems. And the friends she makes and the issues she faces pull her in opposite directions.

If she could only get one aspect of her life right it would be a help, but her primary resolve - to avoid any kind of relationship with a man - is soon subverted. On her way to meet him for their first assignation she is racked with doubt about what she is about to do.

Excerpt ........

Veiled in frost and Old Man’s Beard, the trees and hedgerows which skirted the lane were grey overlaid on a backdrop of other greys – silver and charcoal, graphite and opal; the river beyond, and the gently rising landscape, dissolved into mist. The route was familiar enough; she had driven this way from Cherub’s nursery around the far side of Spine Hill many times before, but then she’d been heading into town – and she’d not been trembling. After delivering Rory she set off slowly, the speedometer barely reaching above twenty-five, and the nearer she got, the lower her speed dropped. She passed the driveway to the farm and shortly joined the eastern end of her own lane. She made the turn towards Warford then crossed Skirmish bridge.

Here, on the right, just a few feet of verge divided the boundary of Gore Farm from the road. In places the lichen-encrusted dry-stone wall had been repaired. Bright, implausible sections of newly laid stone interlinked with the old weathered wall in bleached blonde patches. Jess shook her head. Concentrate. Where was the signpost? Had she unquestioningly accepted Danny’s directions she should have been looking on the left but she knew it couldn’t be. At long last, when she spotted it, it might just as well have been a skeleton hanging on a gibbet.

She was bone cold and shivering as she made the right turn into the opening marked with the footpath finger-post. Her pulse raced, her thoughts whirled in a repeating loop: why am I doing this? The farm track seemed impossibly long. It became ever more overgrown. Elder and Blackthorn on either side scraped the car as it passed. The sharp, sudden whip crack, as a long frond of bramble slapped the windscreen, made her gasp. Her heart rattled against her ribs.

‘Oh God! Oh my God! This is the wrong way. I’m sure this is the wrong way! Perhaps the turning was on the left,’ she whispered to herself, even though it would have defied logic. ‘Where’s the pull in? I’m going to arrive at a dead end!’ But her worry was not about a lengthy stretch of reversing; a part of her did not want to find the discreet back way that led to Danny’s caravan at all. If the adventure had to be aborted she would feel relief from the acute sense of guilt that gripped her. The continuous chant from her conscience called her heartless and unnatural for abandoning her sick child. Yet Rory had seemed happy enough to be left; after several days incarcerated at home with only mother for company he’d become bored and grouchy. Rationally she knew that a few hours engaged in social activity was just what he needed to take his mind off his lingering snuffle and cough. But a part of her wanted to scrub this and go back for him. A part of her wanted to return home, unsullied.

Just as she despaired of finding the spot Danny had described, the track widened in front of a gate. After pulling in she just sat for a while, head bowed onto folded arms. Then she breathed in, squared her shoulders and opened the car door. Danny had said it would be safe to park here. It was obvious the track was hardly used except by the occasional walker or by Danny himself, going into town with his bike. The gate hadn’t been opened for years. An old chain and padlock, mahogany with rust, was wound round and about the gate and its post. Danny must heft his bike over the style – the only way into the field.

Though it felt as if she’d driven miles beyond the farm buildings she must have executed a loop. She was now only a few hundred yards above the caravan and beyond it the stone barns, which shielded the house from view. As she got closer she could hear the massed bleating of the pregnant ewes coming from the barn. A curtain twitched in the back window of the caravan, then suddenly he was there, pale and hesitant, standing by the tow bar end. They scarcely touched but he hustled her quickly up the front steps and inside, keeping himself between her and the farm buildings. A transistor radio was on. Danny turned off what sounded like Radio Four.

‘I was afraid you wouldn’t find me. I’m no good at directions.’

‘I found it easily.’ Why make the moment any more awkward by complaining he’d muddled left and right?

‘Is there anything you want Jess? Can I make you a cup of tea ... or?’

‘No nothing. This is madness Danny. What am I doing here?’ she blurted then was instantly mortified by his pained expression. He shrugged helplessly.

‘If you don’t know...?’

He looked as strained as she felt. Of course he was worried. He would have to be a man of blinding self-confidence not to feel a little concern about his performance, given the first mishap. Jess already knew he wasn’t that kind of man. He wasn’t a man at all, not yet, but he was brave – brave to have put himself on the line like this. Anxiety, guilt, responsibility all clamoured for ascendancy in her head. This was so unfair of her, to accept his invitation and then to blow hot and cold. And yet, and yet - she could not go through with something, believing it to be wrong, just to reprieve herself in his eyes. Could she?

‘I’m sorry, Danny. I feel about as sexy as a plate of cold, cabbage,’ she said, mournfully. Danny smiled and shrugged again.

‘It doesn’t matter. We can just sit and talk for a bit. I’d prob’ly be a let down on the sex side, anyway. You’ll not be missing much.’

This made her laugh. ‘Don’t be daft. I’m sure there are ways of getting round....’

‘My inexp’rience?’ He’d begun to seem more relaxed, more in command of the situation; almost as if, by admitting his lack of sexual prowess, he had defused the tension. Was he really only nineteen? He made her feel silly, tongue tied, inept.

Looking around she took in the dented walls, the dirty, cracked and broken linoleum which partially covered the floor. Yellow flowery curtains were drawn across the small windows diffusing the light and casting an amber gloom over the interior. At the kitchen end, a small Calor Gas cooker, its ceramic surface veined brown with age and baked on grease, was next to a little sink with a mucky looking draining board. A kettle and a few upturned mugs stood on the raw edged MDF work-top; below it, a curtain in dingy shades of brown and orange check, hung from a wire to the floor. A partial room divider separated the kitchenette from the living area. On one side a couple of metal-legged chairs with blue plastic seats shared the space with a small table, partly flapped down against the wall; its surface was marked by heat rings and old cigarette burns. Opposite, a multi-coloured cover, decorated with stars and moons and runic symbols, was draped over a narrow divan bed. Dangling from the ceiling above was a mobile hung with crystals and feathers. There were a few posters on the walls, in the ‘Save the Whale’, ‘Cherish Mother Earth’, and ‘Fur Looks Best on the Original Owner’ tradition. Even as she took in his sparse living arrangements Jessica was aware he was scrutinising her.

‘This van must be half a century old. Is it yours?’

‘No, the boss got it from somewhere for me to doss in. It’s all I need.’

‘Then you’re not very demanding.’ It was the lack of books, of magazines or newspapers that made the place seem so bare, she realised.

‘Even if I was living in a place as small as this I’d still want more around me in the way of possessions. Most of my stuff is still in store, but I had to have some personal stuff, books and so on, to move into the cottage with.’ There weren’t even any of the technological gizmos she might have expected to see in the room of a young man, except.... ‘Oh, is that your phone? You’ve found it?’ She stretched for the box, lying on a tilting shelf, by the divan. ‘Have you even opened it yet?’

Danny shrugged. ‘Pete knows I don’t like things like that. I don’t know why he gave it to me.’ From the growing assurance of earlier he seemed suddenly guarded. She tipped the phone out onto her palm then pressed a few of the keys. Apart from the name, Pete, and his number in the contacts list, it seemed unused; the memory empty.

‘Perhaps he wants to keep in touch?’

‘Doubt it.’ He stayed by the window, pulling back the curtain to look out.

‘When you said your brother had given you a mobile phone I assumed he’d passed on an old one,’ she said. ‘It’s a model I’ve been thinking of upgrading to. It’s got loads of extra apps. And he’s already set it up for you. It’s fully charged and you’ve loads of credit!’ she continued. ‘Wow! I’d like a brother like yours. I’ll put in my number and my email address. Look, that’s your number.’ Jess retrieved her own phone from her bag and entered Danny’s number into her contacts list, then entered her details into his. She fiddled a bit more and the phone went through its repertoire of call jingles. ‘Which one do you want? All you have to do is make sure you keep it charged up. And here’s the phone number to credit your account, when you need to. Look. The instructions are all here.’ She kept turning the phone in his direction, to show him the display, but he kept his back resolutely turned. ‘Aren’t you interested?’ she said at last. ‘Danny?’

He turned towards her then, but he was frowning. ‘Why are you so obsessed?’

‘I’m not. But if you started to use this ... kept it switched on ... we could keep in touch?’

He took the phone out of her hand and put it down without looking at it.

‘It’s not how I want to keep in touch. I prefer to see people face to face when I talk to them. I like to look in their eyes, see if they’re telling the truth.’

There were many practical objections she could make to this statement but, suddenly disconcerted by his level gaze, she sat down on the side of the divan. With a faint tinkle, the mobile hanging above her head, shimmied. Looking up she could see that it was a more intricate piece of work than she’d first thought; a lacy cat’s cradle of beads, feathers, a variety of different snail shells and crystals.

‘I love this. Where did you get it?’ She was thinking that Rory might like one over his bed – then that she would.

‘I made it. It’s a dream-catcher.’

‘You made it...! But it’s beautiful!’

He gave her a sideways look as if unsure of her underlying meaning.

‘I’m sorry, that came out wrong ... I mean it. It’s just ... a lovely thing.’

Almost haltingly, as if confused by her praise, Danny began to describe how he’d made it and the materials used.

‘And that bluey-green feather’s from a Jay, the gold one’s a Cock Pheasant, the white one with the speckles is from a Barn Owl.’

‘Danny?’ Jess ceased to look at the feathers he pointed out. She laid her palm against his cheek. ‘Ssshh.’ From then on their mouths were otherwise engaged. He might be young, he might be sexually inexperienced but in the kissing game he was a natural, Jess thought vaguely, before her brain switched to a mode where rational, sequential thought was replaced by instinct and need.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012


My latest Regency comedy novella, An Inheritance for the Birds, the next entry in The Wild Rose Press's Love Letters series, is now available. All the stories start with a letter that changes the hero's and heroine's lives. Mine is a letter about an inheritance, but there's a catch...

Available at The Wild Rose Press.


Make the ducks happy and win an estate!

Mr. Christopher "Kit" Winnington can't believe the letter from his late great-aunt's solicitor. In order to inherit her estate, he must win a contest against her companion, Miss Angela Stratton. Whoever makes his great-aunt's pet ducks happy wins.

A contest: What a cork-brained idea. This Miss Stratton is probably a sly spinster who camouflaged her grasping nature from his good-natured relative. There is no way he will let the estate go to a usurper.

Angela never expected her former employer to name her in her will. Most likely, this Mr. Winnington is a trumped-up jackanapes who expects her to give up without a fight. Well, she is made of sterner stuff.

The ducks quack in avian bliss while Kit and Angela dance a duet of desire as they do their utmost to make the ducks--and themselves--happy.

Yawning, he shut the door behind him. Enough ducks and prickly ladies for one day. After dropping his satchel by the bed, he dragged off his clothes and draped them over the chair back. He dug a nightshirt from the valise and donned the garment before he blew out both candles.

Bates had already drawn back the bedclothes. The counterpane was soft under Kit's palm, and covered a featherbed. He grinned. By any chance, had they used the down from the pet ducks to stuff the mattress and pillows?

After tying the bed curtains back, he settled into the soft cocoon and laced his fingers behind his head. Tomorrow, he would have it out with Miss Stratton about the steward's residence, but that was tomorrow. He fluffed up his pillow and turned onto his side…


A bundle of flapping, squawking feathers exploded from the depths of the covers and attacked him. Throwing his arms over his head for protection, Kit fell out of bed. He scrambled to his feet and bolted for the door, the thrashing, quacking explosion battering him. A serrated knife edge scraped over his upper arm. "Ow!" Batting at the avian attacker with one hand, he groped for the latch with the other.

The door swung open. Miss Stratton, her candle flame flickering, dashed into the chamber. "Esmeralda, you stop that right now!"

The feathered windstorm quacked once more and, in a graceful arc, fluttered to the floor.

Kit lowered his arms and gave a mental groan. A duck. He should have known.

Thank you all,
Linda Banche
Welcome to My World of Historical Hilarity!