Saturday, 30 March 2013

Mary Nichols: 'Escape by Moonlight'

As usual Allison and Busby have given me a lovely cover. It is so atmospheric and perfectly reflects the story of danger and intrigue during World War II when ordinary people found themselves in extraordinary situations. I like writing about the Second World War and it amuses me to think that is it now considered history because it happened in my lifetime. And like everyone who spent their formative years during those six years, it made an indelible impression on me. It is a fund of good plots.

This is the story of two girls, Elizabeth de Lacey and Lucy Storey, both from the Norfolk village of Nayton, the one wealthy and privileged, the other the daughter of the local stationmaster, poles apart but linked by war.
Elizabeth is holidaying with her maternal grandparents in Haute Savoie in 1939 when war breaks out. Along with her aunt, Justine, she becomes involved with the French Resistance helping allied airmen and escaped prisoners of war over the Swiss border, which becomes more and more risky as Germany takes over the whole of France. Lizzie's life is one of secrets, betrayal and danger culminating in a fierce battle between the resistance fighters hiding in the mountains and the Germans determined to wipe them out. The death of a cousin, the demise of her grandparents and falling in love with Roger, an SOE agent, add to her anxieties. They are in terrible danger and the only way to save them is to fetch them home to England. But that is not as easy as it sounds.
In England, Lucy works for her bullying father at the Nayton railway station. She secretly loves Jack de Lacey, Elizabeth's half brother, but she knows he is way above her socially and in every other way, but when he saves her from being raped, their friendship deepens into love. But there is class prejudice and a mystery surrounding Lucy's past to overcome. It takes Jack's other sister, Amy, an inquisitive evacuee living with the de Laceys, a German bomb and an explosion on the railway line to bring everything to a head in Lucy's world.


Elizabeth propped her bicycle against the barn door and stood a moment to watch a buzzard circling above the meadows, searching for prey. She saw it plummet to earth and then rise clutching something in it talons before it flew off towards the line of trees higher up the slopes. She loved this little farm in the foothills of the Haute Savoie, home of her maternal grandparents. To her it was a place of holidays, a place where she was free to wander about the paths and meadows, to enjoy the shade of the woods, to cycle along its narrow paths, swim in the lakes, ice-cold though they were, and come back to huge delicious meals, cooked by Grandmere. In the summer everywhere was lush and green, the meadows where Grandpere's cattle and goats grazed were dotted with wild flowers. Higher up, above the forest, the peaks of the alps poked upwards, bare rock in summer, covered in snow in winter.
The summer would come to an end soon, though it was taking its time this year, and she would go home to make up her mind what she was going to do with her life. Would Max ask her to marry him? Would she say yes? She was not altogether sure. She loved him, but was she ready to settle down to domestic life as the wife of a regular soldier? Wouldn't she rather have her own career, do something useful, learn to live a little first? And if there was a war, what then? Max had said war was inevitable, even after Chamberlain came back from Munich waving that piece of paper which he said meant `peace in our time' All it did, according to Max, was give the country time to step up its armaments, build more ships, aeroplanes and tanks, and train more troops in readiness. Would there be work for her to do in that event? After all, in the last war, women had done all sorts of jobs normally done by men and done them well too.
Scattering the farmyard chickens, she turned towards the house. It was a squat two storey building, half brick, half timber, with a steeply pitched, overhanging roof so the snow would run off it in winter. It was surrounded by a farmyard but there were a few flowers in a patch of garden on the road side, and pelagoniums tumbled in profusion from its window boxes. It was not large, but roomy enough for her grandparents to have brought up three children: Pierre, who lived a few kilometres to the west of Annecy and had his own small vineyard; Annelise, Elizabeth's mother; and Justine, who had been born when her mother was in her forties and was only nine years older than Elizabeth. She taught at a school in Paris.
The kitchen was the largest room and the warmest - too warm in summer because the cooking and heating of water was done on an open range. A large table, flanked by two benches, stood in the middle of it covered with a red check cloth. It was laid with cutlery and dishes taken from the dresser that filled almost the whole of one wall. Grandmere, her face red from the fire, was standing at the range stirring something in a blackened pot that smelled delicious. She was a roly poly of a woman, dressed in a long black skirt, a yellow blouse and a big white apron. Her long grey hair was pulled back into a bun.
`Where's Papie?' Lizzie asked. Brought up by a French mother who had brought her and her siblings to visit her parents frequently as they grew up, she was completely bilingual.
`He went into Annecy to see the butcher. The old cow is past milking and will have to be slaughtered. He said he would be back in time for dinner.' To Marie Clavier the midday meal was always dinner, the evening meal supper.
Elizabeth busied herself fetching out the big round home-made loaf, glasses and wine in a jug which she put ready on the table. `I saw a buzzard dive for a mouse just now. It always amazes me that they can see such a tiny creature from so high up.'
Her grandmother laughed. `What is it they say, "eyes like a hawk"?'
They heard the noisy splutter of the ancient van her grandfather used to drive into town and two minutes later he came into the kitchen, followed by his black and white mongrel. `It's all arranged,' he said, sitting in his rocking chair by the hearth to remove his boots. He wasn't a big man, but had a wiry strength that years of working a farm single-handed had bred in him. He had thin gingery hair and an untidy beard streaked with grey. `Alphonse Montbaun will come for the cow at the end of the week. He'll cut it up and keep it in his deep freeze for us.'
`Will you buy another?' Elizabeth asked him. She had become inured to the idea of eating cattle she had seen munching grass on the slopes. Grandpere had called her soft when, as a small girl on her first visit, she had recoiled at the idea.
`I think I'll get a couple of heifers and introduce them to Alphonse's bull.' He came to the table and sat in an armchair at its head while his wife ladled the soup into bowls. `When are you going home, young lady?' he asked.
Elizabeth laughed. `Do you want to be rid of me, Papie?'
`You know I don't, but the rumours are flying. The German army is gathering on the Polish border and this time it won't be like Czechoslovakia; there'll be no appeasement. You'll be safer, at home.'
`Sacre Dieu!' the old lady said, crossing herself. `You are never suggesting we are not safe here?'
`I don't know, do I? But we haven't got an English Channel between us and the Boche.'
`We've got the Maginot Line.'
`A fat lot of good that will do against aeroplanes and bombs.'
`Albert, you are frightening me. It was bad enough last time, I don't want to go through that again.'
`Perhaps you won't have to. If they come, our armies will drive them back again. That nice young man who came to stay earlier in the summer will see to that.' The `nice young man' was Captain Max Coburn who had come to share a few days of his leave with Elizabeth. He had charmed her grandparents with his old-fashioned manners, his smart uniform, his blue eyes, golden hair and neatly clipped moustache. It had been a glorious few days, the weather had been perfect and she had taken him all round her favourite haunts: the glittering ice-cold lakes, the little hamlets with their agile goats and the canyon at the Devil's Bridge Gorge, not to mention the breathtaking scenery with Mont Blanc crowning it all. Not until his last day had either of them mentioned war.
`It's going to come, Liz,' he had said. `Hitler will not be satisfied with Czechoslovakia; he wants the Danzig corridor and he'll go for Poland next. Britain and France will have to honour their commitment to help. Don't stay here too long.'
`Oh, Max, you can't think the Germans will come here surely?'
`I don't know, but I would rather you were safe at home in England.'
`And you?'
`I'll go where I'm sent.'
`I hope you're wrong. I couldn't bear to think of you in the middle of the fighting and Papie and Mamie put in fear of their lives. They remember the last war so vividly. Perhaps I should try and persuade them to come home with me.'
`Yes, do that. I'm sure your parents would approve.'
`Mama has tried to get them to come to Nayton many times over the years but Papie would never leave the farm. He always said he wouldn't trust anyone else to look after his livestock: cows, goats, chickens and his beloved dog. And I think he is a little in awe of Papa, though he would never admit it.'
`Surely not? Lord de Lacey is the mildest of men and he adores your mother.' Her paternal grandfather had died when she was small and her father had inherited the baronetcy and Nayton Manor, her Norfolk home.
`I know.'
Everyone in the family knew how her father had met her mother; it was a tale Papa loved to tell. Already a widower, though childless, he had been a major in the British army in the Great War and had been taken prisoner and shipped off to Germany. He had jumped from the train on the way and made his escape. Annelise, who was working in the hospital at Chalons at the time to be near Jacques, her soldier fiancé, had found him wounded, hungry and thirsty in a ditch, too weak to move. She had fetched help and he had been carried on a stretcher to the hospital where she continued to look after him until he was strong enough to return to duty. He had not forgotten her and when the war ended in November 1918, went to see her at her home in Dransville before going back to England. By then she had a small son, Jacques, whose father had been killed in the fighting.
They had fallen in love and, defying the conventions of the aristocracy and the ill-concealed disapproval of Papa's friends, were married in March 1919. He had adopted Jacques. Nine months later Elizabeth had been born, then Amy in August 1921, and finally young Edmund in 1927.
`I hope you are wrong. I hope you are all wrong,' she had told Max. `I can't bear the thought of people being killed and maimed. Why can't governments settle their differences without going to war?'
He had no answer to that and the following day had left to rejoin his regiment, but he left her wondering about her grandparents. Would they come to England with her? `My Channel crossing is booked for the ninth of September,' she told them as they ate their soup. `I don't see any need to go before that.'

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Coming to an eReader Near You...

I'm delighted to announce that Smut by the Sea Volume 2, edited by myself and Victoria Blisse, is coming very soon! Here's the blurb and an excerpt:

Light hearted, sexy fun by the sea is the theme of this erotic anthology, edited by Victoria Blisse and Lucy Felthouse.

From the sun soaked beaches of Brazil to the altogether cooler coastal towns of England, Smut by the Sea Volume 2 has it all. Whatever your interpretation of naughty seaside fun, there’s something nestling between the covers for you. Amusement arcades, beach houses, mermaids, honeymooners, shipwrecks, sex toys and more abound in this exciting collection of stories from erotica’s finest authors.

Contains stories from Victoria Blisse, Tilly Hunter, Rachel Randall, Giselle Renarde, Tamsin Flowers, Lucy Felthouse, Kate Britton, Jillian Boyd, Bel Anderson, Cass Peterson, Delyth Angharad, T C Mill, Erzabet Bishop, Tenille Brown and Annabeth Leong.


Brigit loved the seaside. She always had, probably because visiting it was a rarity. Living in the centre of England meant that even the nearest seaside town was over an hour and a half away—and the nice resorts even further.

Which was why her boyfriend, Allen, proposed a long weekend in Brighton. He knew how fond she was of the seaside. Unsurprisingly, she agreed delightedly.

“It’s a long way,” she said. “But it doesn’t matter. We’d never go anywhere if we lamented the length of the journey.”

As it happened, the travelling wasn’t too bad. Miraculously the M1 was clear all the way down to the M25—and even that notorious motorway wasn’t experiencing its usual havoc. A straight shot south on the M23, then the A23 took them towards Brighton, and they navigated the one-way systems and lack of road signs and—eventually—found their hotel.

“Wow,” Brigit said, stretching luxuriously after getting out of the car, “that didn’t take as long as I thought. Shall we check in, dump our bags and go and explore?”

“Sounds like a plan to me,” Allen replied with a grin.

They slammed their respective car doors, grabbed the bags from the boot and headed into the hotel. Fifteen minutes later, after using the toilet and freshening up, they were back outside.

“Nice choice of hotel, babe. I like it.” Brigit said.

“I’m glad. I researched it well,” Allen replied.

“The bed looks nice and comfy.”

“Well, I’m sure we’ll be able to give it a decent road test later.” He winked at her, and got a slap on the arm for his trouble.

“You’ve got a one-track mind, you have.”

“Well, what do you expect when I’ve got a girlfriend that looks like you?”

She giggled. “Charmer.”

“That’s me. Okay, now I’m back in good books,” Allen said, “what do you want to do? Now, I mean. Not at bedtime.” He waggled his eyebrows.

Brigit stuck her tongue out at him before replying. “I dunno. Just look around I guess. Get our bearings. See what there is to do around here.”

They walked hand-in-hand towards the seafront, then along it in the direction of the pier. They passed the burnt out shell of the West Pier, and Brigit wondered aloud whether it would ever be rebuilt or demolished. Or would the blackened skeleton be left there forevermore, a reminder of what once was.

Soon, they drew close to Brighton Pier. Brigit turned to Allen with a grin.

“What?” he said, then followed her almost manic gaze down the length of the pier, towards a building with fake turret-type things and some very real flags. He sighed. He couldn’t be sure from here, but he thought it was bound to be the amusement arcade. “Oh, you want to go in there, do you? I wonder why?” His voice was laden with sarcasm in his last sentence.

“You know damn well why. Come on!” Brigit tugged him along the last few metres of the pavement and onto the wooden slats of the pier. “Ooh, we can have fish and chips when we come out, if you want.”

While we're awaiting publication, you can add the book to your Goodreads shelves here:

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Guest blog: Christina Phillips - 'Betrayed'

In 51 A.D., Druid priestess Nimue is injured and enslaved by the hated Roman Legions. Even though she is drawn to her captor, she’s determined to escape and complete her mission for the Briton king and her duty to Arianrhod, the goddess she is bound to.

The tough Roman warrior who captures her is far from the brutal barbarian she expects. His touch inflames her desires and passion burns between them. Though Nimue does not accept her enslavement, her heart surrenders to her enemy. When Arianrhod appears to her in the form of an owl, Nimue knows the union is blessed.

Roman warrior Tacitus is enchanted by the fiery beauty who shows no fear and challenges him at every turn. Though enslaving her goes against his heart, he’s determined to make her his. No woman has ever heated his blood as she does. But when he discovers her true nature as one who actually communes with the gods, his loyalties are torn between his heritage and a woman who could destroy everything he’s ever believed in.

A Romantica® fantasy erotic romance from Ellora’s Cave

Excerpt ~ from Chapter One (edited for PG rating)

An eerie chill trickled along Nimue’s spine, causing the hair to rise on the back of her neck and arms. Without thinking she leaped to her feet, dagger once again in her hand. But it wasn’t a lone legionary who had caught her so unawares. It was a mounted Roman officer, in a flowing scarlet cloak, with his shield in one hand and sword in the other.
For a moment all she could feel was the erratic thud of her heart in her ears, the uneven gasp of her breath in her throat. The sun dazzled her, glinting off the polished metal of his armor as he stared down at her, and obscurely she noted his impressive biceps, his muscles flexing as he urged his horse forward.
Flee. The command whispered in her mind, faint and insubstantial. But the treacherous rocks on her right, the fast flowing stream at her back and the steep bank on the far side did not offer her a speedy escape. But somehow she had to lead him farther away from the queen and princess. Except he had effectively trapped her by the edge of the stream.
Yet even as the weight of her responsibility tormented her conscience, she couldn’t drag her fascinated gaze from the Roman. His face was hard, autocratic, unsmiling. The face of countless Romans, and yet like none she had ever seen before. His eyes were narrowed, his strong jaw shadowed. And the tip of his sword was a mere arm’s length from her face.     
“Surrender to the might of the Eagle,” he said in the ancient Celtic language of her people. His voice was deep, sensuous, and dark embers stirred between her thighs, as if she faced a brave warrior of Cymru instead of a cowardly barbarian of Rome. “And you shall remain unharmed.”
Her palm was sweaty around her dagger and she tightened her grip before it slipped from her grasp. She might not have a chance against this Roman but she would never surrender to him. And she would never willingly give up her weapons, either.
“I would sooner die fighting you,” she said in Latin, just to show him she was no ignorant native of a fractured land. Her mother had taught her the language well. “Than surrender my freedom to your filthy Emperor.”
She had no freedom under Rome. As soon as they discovered she was a Druid, her life would be forfeit. Crucifixion was terrifying enough, but it was the torture she would doubtless endure beforehand that shriveled her soul.
His black stallion whickered, pawed the ground, but the Roman did not break eye contact nor did his sword waver.
“Brave words, little Celt.” Still he spoke in her language, and disbelief unfurled through her breast at the tone of his voice. Did he find her challenge amusing? “But I don’t fight women.”
She ignored the threat of his sword and stepped forward, her dagger on clear display. He had no right to enter her land and then mock her prowess as a warrior. Just because she did not possess the brute strength of a full-grown male didn’t mean she lacked dexterity or speed. She glared up at him, wishing, obscurely, she could see the color of his eyes.
“Why? Are you afraid I may unman you?” Why was she trying to raise his ire? Wouldn’t it make more sense to beg for freedom? Pretend to be a mere peasant, caught up in this revolt? Perhaps, then, he would allow her to escape without persecution?
Even as the thought teased her mind she knew the silver bracelets on her wrists, the torque at her throat and jewels in her ears plainly branded her as anything but a peasant.
For one brief moment the corner of his lips quirked, as if he found her not only amusing but highly entertaining.
“I believe,” his voice was a seductive caress along the naked flesh of her arms, the exposed swell of her breasts. “I am more than man enough for you, Celt.”

Monday, 25 March 2013

Coming Together Triumphantly - a charity anthology

Coming Together: Triumphantly is a collection of erotica that deals with reclaiming the body and sexuality after trauma. It contains stories of triumph, of healing, and of appreciating the body and its abilities after (and in spite of) the changes brought about by illness/injury. This collection will benefit the National Women's Health Network.

This collection is edited by Dorla Moorehouse, who pitched the idea to Coming Together as follows:

In late 2010, my friend and fellow writer Reesa Brown and I decided we wanted to edit an erotica anthology based around reclaiming the body and sexuality after trauma, such as illness or assault. This idea was very important to Reesa, who was a breast cancer survivor. We mapped things out, found some interest from other writers we knew, and put together a call for submissions, but then Reesa's cancer returned. She spent most of 2011 fighting, and most of the time she was too ill to work. We planned to relaunch our efforts as soon as she was well, but unfortunately, that day never happened. After grieving her death in January, I've decided I want to continue along with the project as planned, even though she is no longer here to co-edit with me. While more than a year has passed since our initial plans, my motivation is stronger than ever.

CONTENTS:  Shy Bird (Lily Harlem); Scarlet's (Maxine Marsh); Mine Like The Rest of You (Teresa Noelle Roberts); How Love Can Triumph Over Cancer (Mark Lawrence); Love the Second Time Around (Deva Shore); My Stillness (Corey Fisk); Finding Christine (Alicia Baines)

A note from Lily Harlem - I was keen to add to this collection of stories that aids such a good cause, and it's not the first time I've donated stories to Coming Together, I also have a steamy menage tale in Coming Together; As One. Shy Bird was interesting to write, I made the guy the one overcoming physical injury and although he's a big, tough, leather-wearing, tattooed biker, it is the shy, unassuming girl who he takes up bird watching in the Norfolk Broads with who finally heals his heart.

You can find out more about Triumphantly (available in print and ebook) here.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

The Chick Lit Bee: Author Guest Post: Dreams Take On A Life of Their ...

The Chick Lit Bee: Author Guest Post: Dreams Take On A Life of Their ...: When I was preparing to write Dream a Little Dream , I knew a couple of things. I knew that the heroine was Liza Reece, who readers would...

Beautiful Britain

I just can't help but be inspired by the wonderful country I live in, but none more so than the Cotswolds. I spent last week there with Mr Harlem and we had a wonderful time. The cute, topsy-turvey villages are quintessential England. From their sandy colour brickwork to their tiled roofs and walled gardens, there is nothing remotely ordered about the mishmash of houses and shops, the roads go from wide to breathe-in narrow, hills flow right down to the entrance of the villages and gurgling streams pool into ponds full of mallard ducks.

I've been several times over the years and I always have the urge to walk for miles then settle in one of the many welcoming pubs by a fire and enjoy some good food and fine wine.

Of course I like to find time for a little shopping too, and last week in the slightly-larger-than-average village of Winchcombe I had a delightful few hours mooching around shops with names like -  Sprogs and Boogiebeat (kids stuff) The Winds of Change Gallery, Just In, Me Me Me (clothes), and enjoyed tea and scones in Food Fanatics Delicatessen - yum!  I came home mainly with tasty treats in my bag though having a particular fondness for art, had money been no issue there were several pictures in the gallery I would have treated myself to.

I always play a game with my lovely man, which house we'd have if we could have any. I'm always hard pushed to decide if I would want a small cute one, all chintzy and cosy...

Or one with an obligatory thatched roof...

Or something big and sprawling, mansion-like...

Or even something quirky - of which there are many to chose from...

Whichever one I choose, in my imagination, I'd be sure to see something else on my next visit that grabs me more, depending what mood I'm in. And I'm already looking forward to my next Cotswold trip, though between now and then I wonder if I'll set another story there? Without intentionally setting out to, I have three books all based in the Cotswolds, I guess that shows how under my skin this beautiful part of the world has got.

Thanks for reading

Lily x

PS - My books set in the Cotswolds...

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Far Beyond Rubies by Rosemary Morris

I am delighted to announce Far Beyond Rubies by Rosemary Morris will  be sold in  store on March 29. The historical novel is already available with pre-order savings at:


Far Beyond Rubies

When Gervaise sees Juliana for the first time, he recognises her, but not from this lifetime…
Back Cover

Set in 1706 in England during Queen Anne Stuart’s reign, Far Beyond Rubies begins when William, Baron Kemp, Juliana’s half-brother, claims she and her young sister, Henrietta, are bastards. Spirited Juliana is determined to prove the allegation is false, and that she is the rightful heiress to Riverside, a great estate.

On his way to deliver a letter to William, Gervaise Seymour sees Juliana for the first time in the grounds of her family home. The sight of her draws him back to India. When “her form changed to one he knew intimately—but not in this lifetime,” Gervaise knows he would do everything in his power to protect her.

Although Juliana and Gervaise are attracted to each other, they have not been formally introduced and assume they will never meet again. However, when Juliana flees from home, and is on her way to London, she encounters quixotic Gervaise at an inn. Circumstances force Juliana to accept his kind help. After Juliana’s life becomes irrevocably tangled with his, she discovers all is not as it seems. Yet, she cannot believe ill of him for, despite his exotic background, he behaves with scrupulous propriety, while trying to help her find evidence to prove she and her sister are legitimate

Author’s Notes

When the popular Charles II died in 1685, he left a country torn by religious controversy, but no legitimate children. The throne passed to his Roman Catholic brother, James.
It was an anxious time for the people, whose fears increased when James II became so unpopular that he was forced into exile, and his daughter, Mary, and her husband, William of Orange, succeeded to the throne.
The Act of Settlement was passed in Parliament in 1701 to prevent a Roman Catholic inheriting the throne. This meant the Roman Catholic son of James II, by his second wife, Mary of Modena, could not become king.
In 1702, James’s childless younger daughter, Anne, inherited the throne from her sister Mary, and Mary’s husband, William of Orange.
Anne’s Protestant heiress was Sophia, the granddaughter of James I. If Sophia died before Anne, Sophia’s uncouth son, George, Elector of Hanover—who spoke no English—would be next in the line of succession.
Anglicanism, a mixture of ancient Catholic ritual and Church government with Protestant tenet, was the official national religion, re-established by law in 1660. Queen Mary and Queen Anne were staunch supporters of the Anglican Church.
Anglicans and non-conformists united in their loathing of the Roman Catholic Church. The Catholics, or papists, as they were called, were suspected of endlessly plotting against the Government, and their civil liberties were restricted. For example they were forbidden to travel more than a mile or two from home.

Chapter One


“Bastards, Juliana! You and your sister are bastards.”
Aghast, Juliana stared at William, her older half-brother, although, not for a moment did she believe his shocking allegation.
It hurt her to confront William without their father at her side. At the beginning of April, she and Father were as comfortable as ever in his London house. Now, a month later, upon her return to her childhood home, Riverside House, set amongst the rolling landscape of Hertfordshire, his body already lay entombed in the family crypt next to her mother’s remains. Would there ever be a day when she did not mourn him? A day when she did not weep over his loss?
A cold light burned in the depths of William’s pebble-hard eyes.
Juliana straightened her neck. She would not bow her head, thus giving him the satisfaction of revealing her inner turmoil.
William cleared his throat. His eyes gleamed. “Did you not know you and your sister were born on the wrong side of the blanket?”
Anger welled up in her. “You lie. How dare you make such a claim?”
Hands clasped on his plump knees, William ignored her protestation. “You now know the truth about your whore of a mother,” he gloated.
Well, she knew what William claimed, but did not believe him. “You are wicked to speak thus. My mother always treated you kindly.”
“As ever, you are a haughty piece.” William’s broad nostrils flared. Anger sparked in his eyes. “My dear sister, remember the adage: Pride goeth before a fall, however, do not look so worried. I shall not cast you out without the means to support yourself.”
William rang the silver handbell. When a lackey clad in blue and gold livery answered its summons, he ordered the man to pour a glass of wine.
Juliana watched William raise the crystal glass to his lips. What did he mean? How could she maintain herself and her sister? She had not been brought up to earn a living.
She looked away from her half-brother to glance around the closet, the small, elegantly furnished room in which she kept her valuables and conducted her private correspondence before her father’s death.
Now it seemed, William, the seventh Baron Kemp, and his wife, Sophia, had sought to obliterate every trace of her by refurbishing the closet. Where were her books and her embroidery frame? Where was Mother’s portrait? Rage burned in the pit of her stomach while she looked around her former domain. Juliana wanted to claw William’s fat cheeks. It would please her to hurt him as he was hurting her. No, that wish was both childish and unchristian. She must use her intelligence to defeat him.
At least her family portrait—in which her late mother sat in front of Father, and she and William, dressed in their finest clothes, stood on either side of Mother—remained in place. One of her father’s hands rested on her pretty mother’s shoulder, the other on the back of the chair. A handsome man, she thought—while admiring his relaxed posture and frank expression, both of which depicted a man at his ease.
At the age of five, she already had resembled Mother when Godfrey Kneller painted her family in 1693. They both had large dark eyes and a riot of black curls, as well as fair complexions tinged with the colour of wild roses on their cheeks. She touched her narrow, finely sculpted nose. Judging by the portraits, she inherited her straight nose, oval face, and determined jaw from Father.
Her hands trembled. After Father died, she knew life would never be the same again. Yet nothing had prepared her for what would follow.
Today, when she first stepped into the spacious hall, it seemed as though she had also stepped over an invisible threshold. From being a beloved daughter of the house, she had become her half-brother’s pensioner. Knowing William and Sophia’s miserly natures, she doubted they would deal kindly with her. Yet she could not have anticipated William’s appalling accusation of illegitimacy, and his arrangement—whatever it might be—for her to earn her living.
The lackey served William with another glass of wine.
William jerked his head at the man. “Go.”
Her head still held high, Juliana looked at tall, fleshy William. She liked him no more than he liked her. Indeed, who would not dislike a man so parsimonious that he neither offered his half-sister the common courtesy of either a seat or a glass of wine? Infuriated by his gall, she clasped her hands tighter, trying to contain her anger and keep her face impassive.
She shivered. Today, when she alighted from the coach, rain soaked her clothes. On such a wet, grey day, why did no fire blaze in the hearth? Here, in the closet, it was scarcely warmer than outdoors. She clenched her hands to stop them trembling and imagined the heart of the house had died with Father.
“You shall put your fine education, which our father boasted of, to good use,” William gloated. “You shall be a teacher at a school in Bath.”
Fury flooded Juliana’s chilled body. “Shall I?”
“Yes. Our father saw fit for you to have an education far beyond your needs. You are more than qualified to teach young ladies.”
“Beyond my needs? Father admired Good Queen Bess and other learned ladies of her reign. He deplored Queen Anne’s lack of education. Our father decided no daughter of his would be as ignorant as Her Majesty and her late sister, Queen Mary.”
The purple-red colour of William’s cheeks deepened. “Enough! I despise over-educated women.”
She stared at him. Undoubtedly his mean-minded wife had influenced him. Sophia was jealous because her own schooling comprised of only simple figuring, reading, and writing learned at her mother’s knee, whereas Juliana benefited both from the tutors her tolerant father, the sixth baron, had engaged, and her father’s personal tuition.
William interrupted her thoughts. “You have no claim on me. Moreover, our father left you naught in his will. To make matters worse the estate is so neglected, I cannot afford—”
“Cannot afford,” she broke in, outraged. “What nonsense is this? I have lived here for most of my life. Father encouraged me to familiarise myself with Riverside estate. I know every detail of it. Father even encouraged me to examine the accounts. I assure you everything is in perfect order, and the estate is profitable.” Scornfully, she assessed the poor quality of William’s black broadcloth coat and breeches. “You are a wealthy man. Besides the income from the Kemp estates, you have the revenues from those you inherited from your mother, God rest her soul. You could bear the expense of half a dozen siblings.” She glared at him. “I shall ask nothing for myself, but what of my sister?”
Despite her pride, Juliana’s heart pounded with fear for Henrietta. Although she cared little for William, who had rarely spoken a kind word to her, she adored her eight-year-old sister. She would do all in her power to care for and protect the child.
While she waited for William’s answer, she thought how different their lives would have been if, when she was ten-years-old, Mother had not died after giving birth to Henrietta. Although she should not question the will of God, sometimes it was almost impossible not to.
William shifted in his seat. The brass buttons of his waistcoat strained in the buttonholes due to the pressure of his sizeable girth. Juliana wrinkled her nose. Unlike their fastidious father, her half-brother did not bathe regularly. In fact, he reeked of stale perspiration, partially masked by musky perfume which nauseated her.
“Henrietta shall go to school.” William averted his eyes from her. “After all, I am a generous man. I shall pay for her education. She may think herself fortunate. I am under no obligation to support her.”
Juliana did not doubt he would send Henrietta to a school which charged the smallest possible fees, one which skimped on good food—a school at which clever Henrietta would learn little.
William sipped his wine. Did he want her to cry? If so, he would be disappointed. She would no more do so now than when she was a child, when he pinched her or pulled her hair out of jealous spite because he believed Father favoured her. Yet William never had any reason to envy her because Father had told her he loved William as much as he loved her and Henrietta.
How heartless her half-brother and his wife were. When Father died, they ordered her to remain in London, and at the time of Henrietta’s greatest need, confined her to Riverside House. For the first time since their marriage two years earlier, William and Sophia had returned to Riverside. Now, William’s cruel plan to send Henrietta away from home astonished her.
“Pay attention, Juliana!”
“I am all attention. You told me you will send Henrietta to school,” Juliana said, jerked from her still raw grief by outrage, yet determined not to make a fool of herself by pleading with him. “Be good enough to excuse me, I must see Henrietta. Where is she?”
“I have no patience with the snivelling brat. On my orders, she is not allowed out of the nursery.”
Juliana’s dislike of William flamed like a live coal. She could not endure the unreasonable fool’s behaviour for another moment. The sight of Father’s favourite gold ring, set with a diamond, on the puffy finger of William’s right hand, brought a lump to her throat. The diamond, of the finest quality, caught the light, displaying the colours of the rainbow. She coughed to check rising emotion. “I am going to the nursery.”
William raised his hand. “Grant me a moment more of your time.” He smirked. “Those of your clothes my lady wife deems suitable for your new position are in her tirewoman’s chamber, where you will sleep tonight.”
So, Sophia had appropriated her silks and satins, velvets and furs, before relegating her to a servant’s bed!
An outraged tremor ran through Juliana. More than likely, instead of the large bedchamber reserved for the mistress, Sophia had moved into the smaller, more comfortable one she, Juliana, had always slept in; the one adjoining the large bedchamber traditionally used by the Master of Riverside.
The thought of William sleeping in her courtly father’s bed intensified her grief. Never again would Father summon her in the morning to partake of hot chocolate and read to him while he lay abed, or while, on cold days, she sat snuggled up on the large wingchair by the fire.
“You may go, Juliana.”
How dare William dismiss her as though she were a servant?
She regarded William with acute distaste, but mindful of her training in the ways of society, Juliana curtsied before she straightened her back, hands clenched at her side to control her impotent wrath.
After she withdrew, she hurried not to the nursery, but to the closet which had been her father’s.
Without hesitation, Juliana opened a drawer and then pressed a knob at the back which opened a secret drawer in a lacquered cabinet. Smiling, she removed a drawstring purse bulging with gold coins.
Juliana sank onto a chair. Furious with William, she considered her situation. Until now, she took Riverside House—with its pleasure gardens, fruitful orchards, outbuildings, stables, and home farm—for granted, as she did the fertile acres encompassing villages and tenant farms.
Why did Father will the estate—which her maternal grandfather settled on Mother and she left to Father—to William? Deep in thought, she frowned. Why, in spite of his promises not to do so, did Father appoint William to be not only her own, but also Henrietta’s guardian?
Despite her love for Father, resentment stirred deep within her. She stifled it. Throughout his life, her father’s word was always as good as his bond. Now, although broken promises were his only legacy, he would not have failed her without good reason. But what could the reason be?
She frowned. Notwithstanding William’s words, Juliana believed she and Henrietta were legitimate. No lady as virtuous as her mother would have lived in sin with any gentleman. She cupped her chin in her hand. Bitter laughter escaped her. If William lied about that, what else was he lying about? Yet could he have spoken the truth? Could she and her sister be bastards? Surely not, for in that case her mother would not have been accepted at court as her father’s wife. Would it not have been impossible for a mistress to masquerade as a wife?
Nothing made sense. If Mother had been Father’s mistress and their daughters were illegitimate, how could Father have acquired the right to leave the estate to William? She had been told her grandpere settled Riverside on her mother, but was it true? What of her mother’s will? The will in which Mother had left jewellery and other personal possessions to both her daughters? Did Mother leave the estate to Father, or had she married him? If she had, the property would have become Father’s. But she had been told that under the terms of grandpere’s will, Mother’s eldest child would inherit Riverside. Was it true?
Well, she would not accept William’s claims. She would go to London immediately and consult Father’s lawyer, but first she must see her sister.

Friday, 15 March 2013


New Historical Romance—

Broken Legacy—Intrigue, Mystery and Romance. 
Lord Gerard Lenister needed the ladyafter their meeting, he wanted her.

For seventeen years Lady Eloise Granville lived in France thinking herself a bastard. Not until her life was threatened did her father cross the English Channel to reclaim her as his legitimate daughter. Now four years later a revolution roars its ugly head in France. Rumors abound of Lady Eloise’s life before her emergence in Englandrumors that link her to the notorious leaders of the French Revolution.

Lord Gerard Lenister knows well the whispered connections Lady Eloise has across the Channel and the disdain that Society holds for the lady. It matters little to him. He could have cared less if she was the incarnation of a she-devil. He would marry Jezebel herself if she helped him on his mission. He is that desperatebut soon he discovers that Lady Eloise is not what she seems.
Thrown into the midst of the Reign of Terror that the French Revolution became, Eloise had long struggled with the questions arising from her birth. She had run from her past. Still, an air of mystery surrounds her. Forced into a marriage she neither wanted or desired, she finds herself drawn to the man who is now her husband. She commits herself to his mission and places her life in jeopardy for his cause.
Lord Gerard had put into place his plan to save his children. Marrying Lady Eloise would give him the leverage he needs to save them. He needed her connections...nothing more. Soon, he realizes the woman he married is nothing like the woman she had been portrayed. Gerard learns quickly not all is what it seems. Never did he consider she would risk her life not only for him, but his children as well nor did he consider that Eloise would evoke feelings within him he did not know existed.
Thrown into a terror few escape, Gerard and Eloise discover a connection that will bind their lives But fate has intervened. Now, time is running out and Gerard is faced with a decision. A choice has to be made—his children or his wife.
Connect with Colleen Connally
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              Jerri Hines

Thursday, 14 March 2013

The Glorious Twelfth by Alan Calder-Inspirational Caithness

Many writers draw inspiration from the buildings and physical geography of their surroundings.
     In my second novel, The Glorious Twelfth, the Sinclair mausoleum at Ulbster is the model for Sir Ranald's mausoleum. It stands in open farmland near the ruined farmstead of Ulbster Mains to the south of Wick. The weather vane on the top records 1700 as the date of construction. Maps indicate that the site was formerly a chapel dedicated to St Martin and the surrounding graveyard bears testament to the ground being consecrated. An ancient Class II Celtic stone originally stood in the graveyard confering great antiquity on the site. The stone now stands in the Caithness Horizons Museum in Thurso.
     The square building has very pleasing proportions, topped by a complex ogive shaped roof where the tile size varies accoring to the slope. Internal steel bars have been installed to provide further support for the roof. The burial crypt was cleared of remains and filled in some time ago. It had long since been supplanted by a new mausoleum built near Thurso Castle by Sir John Sinclair, the famous agricultural improver, around 1800. 
The second inspirational building is the ruined Castle Sinclair Girnigoe, built by the Sinclairs. A major archaeological project is currently in progress to both understand the history of the building and stabilise it against further deterioration. The latest research suggests that a building stood on the site as early as the thirteenth century. It was heavily fortified and the major administrative centre of its day, but was abandoned as early as 1680. Cycling to this castle was a favourite boyhood outing. We climbed the walls, explored the dungeon, heart in mouth, and went down the passage to the sea. It is the fictional site of the final dig at the end of The Glorious Twelfth.  
With best wishes
Alan Calder

 Also by Alan Calder, The Stuart Agenda published by Willowmoon



Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Lindsay Townsend: 'Flavia's Secret', a new excerpt.

Here's a new excerpt of my historical romance, 'Flavia's Secret,' set in Roman Britain. In this excerpt, Flavia, a Celtic slave, is going shopping in Aquae Sulis (Roman Bath) with her new master Marcus.


On their way through Aquae Sulis, Flavia kept watching for another glimpse of Agrippina’s mysterious spice seller, but did not see the caped young woman again. Soon the wonders of the city itself were clamoring for her attention—she had rarely wandered in these fashionable parts, close to the great bath itself. Certainly not in the company of a man with whom she almost had to run to keep up: Marcus’ smooth, flowing stride covered a great deal of ground. Flavia trailed in his wake as he wove effortlessly through the close-packed buildings and the bobbing mass of tourists, grizzled soldiers and trinket sellers. She was breathless and over-awed when they came to the tailor’s shop, conscious of her shabby clothing and flyaway hair.

One of a block of three, the tailor’s was a smart establishment, built within sight of a three storey hotel and the great new barrel vaulted roof of the main baths. Set between a Gaulish wine shop on one side and a potter’s selling fine tableware on the other, it was roofed with tiles rather than the more common thatch, and was in two storeys with smooth plastered walls and large wooden shutters, now fully open.

Crossing in Marcus’ shadow to its open door and supercilious-looking owner, Flavia felt even more out of place. Around her, she could smell a heady swirl of perfumes as people came and went from the baths and hear the sound of sawing and the masons shouting to each other within the precincts of the shrine itself. There was always building going on in Aquae Sulis, ancient place of healing and now a Roman spa.

Telling herself that she would one day walk these cobbled streets as a free Celt, Flavia tilted up her chin, determined to show no nerves.

‘Flavia.’ Marcus had kept glancing round to check that she was with him and now he turned back to her, blocking the view of the bowing tailor. ‘Before we are overwhelmed by offers, we should have a plan of campaign.’

He grinned, making the ragged scar close to his lower lip disappear, making light, too, of his own words and laughing at himself.

An attractive trait, Flavia thought.

‘Do you?’ he asked softly.

She had done it again, missed a question. Perhaps it was his largeness, his maleness. She stared at the hand now clasping hers, her own palm dwarfed in his. ‘I don't know,’ she murmured, for something to say. A gust of wind cut through her patched dress, dragging several strands of Marcus’ glossy dark-brown hair across his forehead. Was it as tough and unyielding as it looked?

‘You are shivering, we must go in. But if no favorites, then a color you particularly dislike—surely you have that?’

‘Yes, imperial purple,’ Flavia said promptly, returning his look with a steadiness she did not quite feel.

He laughed aloud. ‘A pert reply! Very well, little Celt, your scruples will be respected. Come.’ He drew her into the shop with him.

To see more, please go here:

and here:

Best wishes, Lindsay Townsend

Lindsay Townsend, historical romance.
or follow me at Twitter: @lindsayromantic

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Eroticon 2013 Write Up by Lucy Felthouse

Eroticon is a conference for erotic writers and sex bloggers, organised by the incredibly capable Ruby Kiddell. This year it took place in London. There's more information here.
So, without further ado...
Wow… how to write this post without making it longer than the average short story?! I guess I’ll keep it short and to the point, and of course, the photos will speak a thousand words… or something. I am still exhausted from a fabulous weekend, and therefore my brain is not firing on all cylinders. Probably not any, actually. So, here goes:
davethebearFriday night:
Not part of the conference, but a fabulous night out with K D GraceVictoria BlisseLily Harlem,Tabitha RayneLexie BayKay Jaybee and myself. K D Grace organised a trip to the Volupte Lounge in the City of London. We had a delicious dinner in Belushi’s first of all, then headed off for some burlesque. And it was brilliant. I’m afraid the names of the performers escape me (though I suspect K D Grace will have them all listed in her write-up), with one exception. Dave the Bear. Yes, Dave. A man, who kayboozeperformed some boylesque. For me, he was the highlight. He was very funny, sexy and totally bonkers. Our table laughed, cheered, whistled and whooped throughout, and also very much enjoyed Stefan, a rather attractive young man who was dragged onto the stage and made into the partner of a Russian ballerina – who happened to be a man. For the sake of brevity, I’ll just say this was a night full of friendship, giggles and fun. And Kay Jaybee with her first shot – a Butterball, which was delicious.
So – conference time. A very tired bunch of smut writers made their way from their hotel to the conference, popping into Waterloo station for some food and drinks first. I attended the opening speech, Brook’s speech on sexual health and contraception (which I found fascinating, and am hoping to have one of the members on my blog at some point), then Kristina Lloyd’s creative writing workshop. I’d never met Kristina before, so like the fangirl I am, I asked her to sign one of her books for me, which she very graciously did after the workshop. During, though, there was no time for autographs – it was a packed session which produced a hilarious outcome. We had spreadsheets with differently coloured blocks, and we had to write various things in the boxes. For example:
Name four things that sparkle:
  • Edward Cullen
  • Stars
  • Ice
  • Snow
It was early in the morning (especially for me, I’m not at all a morning person), which is my only excuse for the first answer. But it did make me giggle. Our homework is to write something containing some of the words and elements we came up with. Hopefully I’ll be able to get to that soon.
Then came refreshments, and I ended up not going to any of the sessions because I was too busy chatting with people, both people I already knew, and those I was lucky enough to meet. Next came Remittance Girl’s workshop, which was more theoretical than Kristina’s, but incredibly thought provoking, and left me with many thoughts whizzing around my head.
Afterwards came lunch, and I accidentally got chatting and ended up  missing the next session, because I didn’t want to walk in late – oops! But some fantastic conversations were had – not least one with Mario Cacciottolo, who runs the Someone Once Told Me website, which is a fabulous idea – check it out to see what it’s all about. It turned out we both went to the University at Derby (though not at the same time) and actually had one of the same lecturers – what a small world!
Soon, many people were flagging, including myself, so me, Victoria Blisse, Lexie Bay, Lily Harlem and Tabitha Rayne headed over to see the Sh! Girlz. Tabitha had never met them before, so it was a very exciting experience for her, and of course I’m always delighted to see the ladies, especially since Renee, Jo and Shelly were there. So it was hugs all round, some signing of books, some giggles, some purchasing, then we reluctantly went on our way – via a pub – to go and get something to eat. I led the girls from London Bridge Tube station to Gourmet Burger Kitchen on Clink Street without consulting a map, impressing them all :D After feeding our faces, we headed back to the hotel and nattered until almost one in the morning. Which leads me to…
Even more tired, we headed –  bags and all, as most of us went home straight after the conference – back to the venue. Victoria and I were on the first panel, about anthologies, so we had to liven up. Thankfully we managed it (Victoria is fine with mornings, luckily, so she chivvied me along!) and had a great panel with Rachel Kramer Bussel and Maxim Jakubowski with lots of varied and fun questions, which I hope we answered successfully.
Again, lots of networking and chatting was done, and so I didn’t attend any more sessions until the afternoon, which was K D Grace’s creative writing workshop. She’s my friend, so I admit I am biased, but it was excellent, interesting and very informative. I got a little bit of my novella written, so I came away with something to work on, too.
Sadly, it was then time to go. A huge round of goodbyes were made at the venue, then some of us headed to Waterloo station, where another round of goodbyes were made. I then headed onto the Northern Line to St. Pancras, and eventually, home. I was so knackered it was a struggle not to fall asleep on the train, but I managed it. Just.
The tiredness was absolutely worth it. Writing is such a solitary business that it’s absolutely fantastic to be able to  meet up with like minded people and chat, share ideas, and just generally have fun. I don’t regret missing some of the sessions, purely because the time I spent meeting new people and being with ones I already knew was invaluable. Sadly, I didn’t get to meet everyone I wanted to, but I checked a few off the list, which I’m very pleased about. And there’s always next year to meet the rest. I can’t wait! Well done, Ruby Kiddell – you pulled it off again, and it was even better than last year. Roll on Smut by the Sea!
Lucy Felthouse is a very busy woman! She writes erotica and erotic romance in a variety of subgenres and pairings, and has over seventy publications to her name, with many more in the pipeline. These include Best Bondage Erotica 2012 and 2013, and Best Women's Erotica 2013. Another string to her bow is editing, and she has edited and co-edited a number of anthologies. She owns Erotica For All, and is book editor for Cliterati. Find out more at Join her on Facebook and Twitter, and subscribe to her newsletter at: