Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Book Spotlight with Helen Pollard

Today, I have fellow Astraea Press author Helen Pollard talking about her romance, Warm Hearts in Winter. I adore this cover.



Can two hearts thaw on the midwinter moors?


Blurb:

Forced by circumstance into the world of temping, when Abby Davis accepts an assignment in the wilds of Yorkshire as personal assistant to a widowed novelist, she assumes he is an ageing recluse.

Thirty-something Jack Blane is anything but. Still struggling to get his life and writing career back on track three years after his wife’s death, Jack isn’t ready for a breath of fresh air like Abby.

Snowed in at his winter retreat on the moors, as the weeks go by and their working relationship becomes friendship and maybe more, Abby must rethink her policy of never getting involved with someone at work … and Jack must decide whether he is willing to risk the pain of love a second time.


Buy Links:


About the Author:



Helen Pollard writes contemporary romance with old-fashioned heart. She firmly believes there will always be a place for romantic fiction, no matter how fast-paced and cynical the world becomes. Readers still want that feel-good factor - to escape from their own world for a while and see how a budding romance can blossom and overcome adversity to develop into love ... and we all need a little love, right?

A Yorkshire lass, Helen is married, with two teenagers. They share space with a Jekyll and Hyde cat that alternates between being obsessively affectionate and viciously psychotic. Antiseptic cream is always close at hand.

When Helen’s not working or writing, it goes without saying that she loves to read. She also enjoys a good coffee in a quiet bookshop, and appreciates the company of family and close friends.

Find Helen at:


Excerpt from Chapter One:

Abby chewed her lip in anxious concentration as she peered through the windscreen, her fingers gripping the steering wheel so hard her knuckles were white. The narrow country road would be hard to negotiate at the best of times, but in the dark and the snow it was almost impossible. Despite her slow speed, the full beam from her headlights barely showed a bend until she was almost upon it — but since there was nowhere to turn around, all she could do was grit her teeth, stay calm and fervently hope her satnav didn't lead her down a sheep track or into a swollen river.
She allowed herself a soft curse at the weather and directed another at Casey while she was at it. It was all her fault this was happening. No, that wasn't true. Her friend was only trying to help, and it was because of their friendship that Abby had been foolish enough to accept this assignment. That and the fact she'd had little choice in the matter. Her recent bad luck — if that was what you could call it — hadn't allowed her the luxury of choice. She needed a job. Her best friend managed a temping agency. A job came up. Abby had exactly ten minutes to decide whether to accept the post of personal assistant to some thriller writer she'd never heard of. Casey had heard of him and recommended she did. Actually, she reminded her she was in no position to refuse. It would be a challenge, Casey said. Unusual, Casey said. Abby trusted her and accepted.
And now look. Desperate to set off before the weather deteriorated, she'd packed in such a hurry she'd probably forgotten half of what she needed, and she'd been driving for two hours through conditions that only got worse by the minute. She wasn't sure her ageing car could take much more. The wipers were clogged with the thick snowflakes that swirled across the windscreen, reducing visibility to virtually nothing. She had no idea what she would do if something came in the opposite direction — although she was so far out in the middle of nowhere she doubted there was another soul around. That is, apart from Jack Blane — her new boss for the next few weeks — who in his wisdom had chosen to write his latest novel miles from civilization on the bleak Yorkshire moors in the worst winter weather for years. Abby had heard writers liked solitude, but this was ridiculous!
Just as she was beginning to think this whole thing must be a bad dream, her satnav archly informed her she was nearly there. Abby slowed her car to a crawl, peering over the steering wheel like an old lady who'd forgotten her glasses.
"Nearly where?" she asked the machine's know-it-all voice.
A dark shape loomed at the side of the road, and she screeched to a halt. Not a bright move. The car skidded nearly full circle, and Abby had to fight both the wheel and her own panic to regain control. Her heart thudding, she opened the driver's window and stuck her head out. A house of forbidding dark stone, dusted liberally with snow, stood silhouetted against the grey sky. Abby glared at her satnav and back at the house. Well, this must be it. There was certainly nowhere else in sight.
"Great. Out of the frying pan and straight onto the set of Wuthering Heights," she muttered.



 Ooh, I just love that excerpt!
Yes, I agree, we all need love and the feel-good factor. Exactly why I like to write romance.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Book Spotlight - Heather Gray

Today, I have fellow Astraea Press regency and inspirational author, Heather Gray, talking about her new release, Queen. It's book 3 of her Regency Refuge series.


Back Cover Blurb:
You can't hide from the past.

Queen's world was shattered, and she was banished to a foreign land. Years pass before she dares to return, but what she finds is of little comfort. Greed and dishonesty have festered and grown in her absence. Embittered and cynical, Queen trusts few people.

Owen pursues a clandestine investigation and finds himself working side-by-side with a veritable ghost, an agent few have seen, a master of disguise known simply as Queen.  He craves her trust…but then uncovers a secret from his family's past that could destroy her.


Queen once sought refuge in America and now seeks it in disguise. Owen has always found his refuge in God, but will his faith be strong enough for the challenges ahead? Can he convince Queen to stop hiding, or is he doomed to become her most hated enemy?

Excerpt:

Three days had passed since the beginning of his employment with Lady Rutherford. Owen stared at the ledgers spread out across the considerable breadth of the walnut desk and blinked slowly. By jove, I think I'm on to something here. At the sound of approaching feet, he closed the ledger and picked up some of the late viscount's correspondence.

The housemaid shuffled in then. "I'm here to stoke the fire, Mr. Lobbing."

"Go ahead. By the by, can you tell me your name? I keep forgetting to ask."

She bobbed her head and gave a half-curtsy. "Isadore."

"I'm pleased to meet you, Isadore."

"But we've met before, Mr. Lobbing."

He chuckled. "Of course, but we've not been introduced until this moment."

She gave him an odd look and went about her business with the fireplace. He'd not seen her the last couple of days, and according to Chambers, she'd been punished for some infraction and assigned scullery duties. The butler hadn't been forthcoming about the infraction, so Owen had been left wondering.

"It's good to see you out and about again, Isadore. The footman did a passable job with my fire, but he's not nearly as efficient as you."

She glanced at him with wide eyes before she dropped her gaze back to her task. Once she was done with the fire, she took a step toward the door, but her foot caught on the edge of a rug. Time slowed. Isadore lurched to her right then overcorrected and stumbled wildly to her left until her feet became tangled up in the legs of a globe stand. The globe teetered, its position precarious, and Owen jumped to rescue it. Neither of their jobs would be secure if something happened to the globe, and he had a feeling Isadore didn't have many employment choices.

Isadore, in fighting to get her feet free, finally sent the globe stand toppling onto its side. The globe tumbled out, striking the floor before Owen could get a hand on it. He helped Isadore to her feet and found his eyes drawn to her blue ones in the most peculiar way. Owen turned his back to her and set the globe's stand to rights again. Then he reached for the globe, but Isadore must not have been quite steady on her feet yet, for her foot slipped past him and kicked the the spherical object before she regained her footing.

"I'm so sorry, Mr. Lobbing. Do you think it's damaged? I can't get in trouble again, I jus' can't."
Owen glanced from Isadore to the globe. It had made a sound when rolling that last little bit. "I'm sure it's fine. You'd best be on your way."

He picked up the globe and examined it. Much to Owen's relief, the sphere remained unbroken. Isadore did not need more trouble with her employer. Waiting until the maid was out the door, he shook the globe. A definite clank met his ears. Owen ran his fingers across the globe's entire surface. A compartment had to be hidden within. Sure enough, over the western part of the colonies along one of the seams, a slight irregularity could be felt along the surface, nothing more than a small bump. Firm pressure from his fingers, and he heard a satisfying click. The globe came apart in his hands.

Author Bio:

Heather Gray authors the Ladies of Larkspur inspirational western romance series, including Mail Order Man, Just Dessert, and Redemption.  She also writes the Regency Refuge series: His Saving Grace, Jackal, and Queen - plus contemporary titles Ten Million Reasons and Nowhere for Christmas.  Aside from a long-standing love affair with coffee, Heather’s greatest joys are her relationships with her Savior and family.  Heather loves to laugh, and this theme is prevalent in her writing where, through the highs and lows of life, her characters find a way to love God, embrace each day, and laugh out loud right along with her.

You can find Heather online at http://www.facebook.com/heathergraywriting, http://www.twitter.com/laughdreamwrite, and http://www.heathergraywriting.com.  She can also be found most days at The Inspired Inkpot, a street team, prayer group, and all around awesome place to hang out - http://www.facebook.com/groups/theinspiredinkpot.

Buy Links:

Friday, November 7, 2014

Cats!!

I love cats!

Cats change your life. They bring joy and sometimes a whole cocktail of emotions - frustration, grief, love, pleasure, laughter. They have such unique personalities - each one is SO different. The list goes on.

We had a black and white cat called Cutex which we bought as a kitten only months after arriving back in our home country, South Africa. Cutex wasn't always the easiest cat. She was always hungry!! I used to get so frustrated with her in the kitchen because she nagged me for food constantly. Eventually I got used to it and started to see the humour in it.

She adored dairy. Cheese, butter, cream. Anything with a drop of dairy in it became a treat.

She was also extremely grumpy. Maybe because the last few years of her life, she had allergy and skin problems and didn't like to be touched much. I even tried to cut out dairy from her diet, but somehow she found it and ate it - whether from our plates or in some toast crumbs (with butter). But her grumpiness was funny and I know it sounds mean, but she made us laugh. She was like loving and grumpy at the same time. She used to hold meowing conversations with my husband sometimes. My husband is the resident Dr Doolittle in our home - he has such a way with animals. They all adore him!!




Anyway, she passed away several months back. We still don't know what happened to her but we found her dead in the yard of the people a few houses up from us. Either she was knocked down or attacked and went in there to lie down or her body gave it. She just hadn't been looking good the last few months before she died but there was nothing seriously wrong with her except for the allergies.

My kids really wanted another cat. And so did I. But we were wary. We didn't feel like we could replace Cutex. No, you can never replace a pet. They're each unique and special in their own way. We took a drive out to our local SPCA and looked at what cats they had. Two cats caught our eye - the one was long-haired and beautiful and not so much a kitten anymore. The other one was white with brown splotches and the friendliest little thing. It kept on coming to us and wasn't scared. He would see us off as we went there three times before we eventually chose him.

His name is Laska and he is the most wonderful cat! He's got a great personality. He's fearless. The vet called him "Rambo" when we took him for an injection because he didn't flinch. He's the only cat who's not scared of our two dogs and has befriended the dog that used to chase our cats the most outside.

Laska is playful, energetic yet can look so sleepy sometimes and he actually likes to be held. Not many cats do. When my husband went to Canada for three weeks, the one weekend my kids were away on camp. I was quite lonely. I'm so used to my family around, so it was kind of horrible. Anyway, Laska was great company. He slept in my room for the two nights. He loves to sleep by our heads or necks and purrs loudly most of the night. It's so cute although you don't get much sleep.

Here's a couple of pics of him:



We have another beautiful cat called Ginger. She's sweet and gentle and a wonderful cat. My son and her have a special bond. Here's a pic of her.


Anyway, you must wonder what this has to do with books and writing. Well, in His Halloween Kisses, the hero Byron give Ali a black cat. She's most upset in the beginning because he doesn't even ask her but just drops it off at her home. I won't tell you what happens, but here's a short snippet from the scene when she discovers he's given her a cat:

That evening, Ali came in the door and ran to the couch to rest her weary feet. She’d taught five lessons in one day and couldn’t be happier. If it weren’t for the horrible let--‐‑down of the night before, she would be at her happiest in ten years. Who would have thought she’d love teaching art, of all things? Not science, not history, but art. Watching what the kids under her instruction produced brought her even more joy than when she’d designed her own jewellery. Who would have thought? Pat, her long--‐‑time school friend and now roommate, came through and stood staring in at her.
“Guess what?” She clapped her hands together.
“Someone dropped this off for you.” Pat ignored her and pointed down at a basket on the floor which Ali hadn’t noticed yet.
The basket wriggled and moved. Something black peeped from inside of it.
“What’s that?”
“I think it’s a cat.”
“I’m sorry?”
“A cat. You know, those furry pets that have whiskers, a tail, and go ‘meow.’”
“I know what a cat is.” She walked up to the basket and opened the lid. A tiny, furry, very black face stared at her and gave out a little squeak that could pass for a meow.
“It’s a kitten, not a cat.”
Pat merely stared at her, a cookie poised in her hand but not going to her mouth.
She touched the cat’s head tentatively, wondering if it would try to scratch her.
“You’d think it was still Halloween,” Pat said. “Black cat with an orange basket on a blanket filled with spider print.”
“Oh my goodness.” Ali stepped away. “How could he?”
“Who?”
“He thinks gifts are going to take away all the problems—thinks he can buy my understanding.”
Pat merely stared on. Obviously Janet hadn’t told her about her bad date the night before.
“I don’t even want a cat. How can someone give a pet without asking? A pet is a big thing. You have them for years.”
“It has beautiful eyes. They’re blue.” Pat knelt next to the basket and picked up the little creature.
Her heart went out to the helpless thing, but really, she couldn’t look after a pet. She worked all day and had busy nights now with school preparation. And besides, she could barely afford to feed herself. What was he thinking?
And what did he want from her?
“Most kittens have blue eyes, don’t they?” Ali came up to her friend and peered into the lost little face.
“Mew.”
“She’s hungry.” Pat handed it to her. “Feed her.” She had no choice but to take the furry, wriggling thing.
“Aren’t you listening to me? I don’t want it.”
Pat moved towards the door. “I don’t think you have a choice. Black cats are bad luck.” She gave her a wink and walked out of the room.
“Wait! Pat…Pat! Did you see who brought it?”
Pat turned around from walking halfway down the passage.
“He was really cute, Ali. And he said he’s sorry. What more can I say?” Pat shrugged and slipped into her bedroom, shutting the door behind her.
The kitten stared up at her as if to say “I’m hungry.” She bent down and looked in the basket. Sure enough, he’d placed a baby blanket on the base with a Halloween print of spiders, creepy hands, and jack-o’-lanterns. Also in the basket sat kitten food in a
sealed bag on top of two small orange bowls.
The absolute cheek to assume she’d accept a pet without questions.
Giving someone a big responsibility like this wasn’t like giving a piece of jewellery or a bouquet of roses. This meant years of commitment. You asked before you gave someone a pet. What if she didn’t like cats? What if she were allergic to them? And if one of her roommates were allergic? Didn’t he think? He had absolutely no sense at all. One minute, he kissed her, the next minute he was engaged, and the next he disrupted her whole life.
“Ugh!” she screamed. The kitten sprang out her hands and scampered to a corner behind the couch. Oh great. Now she’d scared it.
She had to feed the creature, and then she’d phone the SPCA to find a new home for it. After searching for ages for a pair of scissors as her mind was all over the place, she cut open the bag and poured some kibble into one of the bowls. Maybe the sound would summon the cat out of its hiding place. Nothing. It remained
curled up in the corner, its little heart causing its whole body to shake. She didn’t mean to scare it so much.
Laying the blanket flat on the floor right next to the kitten, she put the food bowl on top of it and then quickly went to fill up the other bowl with water. When she got back, the wiry little ball of fluff had tucked in already, now oblivious to whatever had made it scared. Its tail zoned towards the ceiling while crunching sounds emanated from its small head.
If only she could keep it.
But no, she couldn’t. And she should phone Byron first before the SPCA. He knew where the cat came from and should return it there.
She slumped back onto the couch, wondering what to say to him. Really, did she have to talk to him tonight? She’d so hoped she’d never ever see him again.
A pungent smell wafted up towards her nose. Oh no! She’d forgotten that kittens didn’t know how to go outside to the toilet. Running around to the baby blanket, she found a steaming parcel on the floor by the couch. Great. Her roommates will love her now. She picked up her cell phone and dialed his number. “Why didn’t you give kitty litter with the basket? In fact, why didn’t you check with me first before giving me a pet? What were you thinking?”
“Good day to you too.” Byron sounded unusually cheerful despite the status of their friendship.
“Good day.” Was she being rude? Hearing his voice, all the anger seeped out of her.
“She needed a home, and I wanted to show you I’m sorry.”
“Sorry for what?” She wanted to scream at him, but the kitten waddled up to her on shaky legs and put a tiny, sharp claw on her foot.


Friday, October 31, 2014

New Release - Kiss My Lips by Stella Eromonsere-Ajanaku

Title: Kiss My
Lips
Series: Holiday
Series, #2
Genre:
Romance/Contemporary/Multicultural/Interracial
ISBN:
978-1502776549 (Paperback)
Publication Date:
Wednesday 29th October 2014
Cover Artist: Love
Bites And Silk

Kiss My Lips (Holiday
Series Book 2) is a sequel to
Stolen Valentine
Kiss (Holiday Series Book 1).
 Add to Goodreads


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

White Christmas Kiss Released

Release day for my Christmas romance! Woohoo! Thank you, Astraea Press. You rock!!


Everything about the settings in this book are dreamy - white Christmas, passenger liner, Europe. All beautiful, exotic locations. It was great fun to write. And I loved working with a wounded heroine - my favourite. Rachelle's wounds are partly self-inflicted - she's too hard on herself and hasn't come to terms with her past mistakes. Don't we all suffer from regret at some stage in our lives but it becomes dangerous when it stops us from opening our heart to love.

Blurb:

Rachelle runs a little wedding chapel on the Coderica Passenger Liner. Two years on the passenger liner haven’t helped her find peace from past mistakes. Ray brings his girlfriend on the Coderica’s grand cruise to Europe. When his plans to marry her in the little chapel go horribly wrong and the relationship fails, Ray and Rachelle are drawn to each other like moths to a flame. Romance blossoms in Europe, culminating on Christmas Day. But the cruise ends and Rachelle isn’t sure she’s ready to leave the Coderica with Ray. Will the memory of their white Christmas kiss be strong enough to bring them together forever?

Excerpt:

“I’m thinking of ending the whole relationship.”
The woman walked to the fire and placed her hands near its warmth. “The air by that window is cold.”
“The weirdest thing is that I’m actually enjoying being away from her.”
“Would you like another drink?”
It was actually humorous how she avoided the conversation. He shook his head. “I’d like to get to my ship cabin safely without toppling overboard.”
“Whatever.”
“Are you feeling relaxed?”
She shrugged.
He couldn’t bear it any longer. In a moment, he rose and moved to her, placing his hands on her sagging shoulders. “What did you run away from?”
“I’m sorry?” She turned to him, her eyes haunted, cheeks flushed with embarrassment—or was it the heat of the fire?
“I can see it in your eyes…the hurt…the confusion.”
She pulled away and attempted to walk back to the window, but he grabbed her hand, desperate for her to open up and release the pent-up, albeit negative, energy. The force of their opposite movements made her spin around to face him, her soft cheeks inches from his gaze. Her lips were pursed and pale pink—no lipstick, no cracks, just smooth and plump. A warm vanilla scent wafted from her hair, mingling with the lazy smell of liqueur and wood smoke. In a moment, he’d tucked her up against him, and he’d moved his lips onto hers. The pressure he gave her surprised even him, as also the need to remain there, locked in a kiss in a smoky bar in Spain when his future wife stood vigil in a hospital back home.
He expected her to pull away and break the contact. Waited for her scathing comment to add fuel to his guilt. Instead, her whole body softened in his grasp, making him unable to retreat. He explored her mouth with simple movement, which she mirrored. They were instinctively in tune, and the arousal he experienced sent shock waves through him. It felt so intense that he was now convinced Desia wasn’t the only woman who stirred him to such passion. In fact, this felt far deeper and more intense than Desia’s…

“I have to go.” She pulled away and turned from him, grabbing her jacket in haste.

Buy Link:



Saturday, October 25, 2014

Autumn's Kiss Blog Hop

Ten sweet romance authors got together and wrote a book. Ten short romances set in fall, the season of change, of harvest, of traditions. What a fun experience. We found each other on the Clean Romances Facebook group.

I have to say, I'm truly humbled to have my little story amongst the gems of this book. It's an amazing read!!

Here's a sneak peak of the book which is now available for purchase. We're offering up prizes to those who take part in the blog hop.


Buy Links:

Amazon
Smashwords

The Book Trailer: http://youtu.be/Lfp4wxnWuWo

The title of my story in the book is called "The Fall Apples and Mr. Craigson."

So, I set out to write a fall romance. Not being from the US, our fall is in April. Our apple tree comes alive at that time and our dogs feast on what falls to the ground. We haven't eaten many of the apples, but they are improving with each year. Most years though, the birds and bugs get to them first. Still, I love the apple tree. One year, we had a bumper harvest, and I managed to make an apple pie with the apples. Here's a pic of one my daughter picked compared to a store-bought apple:



So, the apple tree inspired my short story in the anthology. Trina has a row of apple trees that she wants cut down. When she hires Mr. Craigson to help out with the job, she's shocked at how attracted she is to him. It causes problems. She's supposed to be married - well pretending to be married to a rich businessmen to keep unwanted men away. Mr. Craigson sees through her facade though, but is she ready to give her already bruised heart away?

If you fill in your answers to each question along the blog tour, you can win a grand prize. Also, I will be offering a copy of His Halloween Kisses, my holiday romance novella to one commenter on this blog post. Although I love to receive your comments, that will not give you automatic entry for the grand prize (and it's grand - about $70). You need to fill in the form and follow each blog hop. Please find the link to the other blogs below:



Ready for My Question??

What is Trina's secret?

A. She's in an unhappy marriage.

B. She's committed a crime.

C. She's pretending to be married to a rich man.

Type in your answer in the form below:



docs.google.com
docs.google.com

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Cover Reveal - The Dance of the Firefly

I'm so happy that my book has a cover!! Yippie!! I loved this book - just love the characters, especially my heroine, Rowena. She touches a cord with me. This is my first multi-cultural romance and I loved writing it!!

And it's about ballet which I'm crazy about. As a kid, I had two dreams - become an author or a ballerina. I chose the one and now I'm writing about the other, lol. (Just a little secret - in retrospect, I would have hated the life of a ballerina. I like a quiet, family life which matches an author much better. And another secret - I don't think my body was cut out for such athletic stuff but I enjoy tinkering around with ballet workout sessions at home sometimes.) Oh, my high school friend ended up being a ballerina and danced for an American ballet company. Boasting here *wink, wink*. Anyway, I haven't maintained contact with her - different worlds I suppose.

Enough of that. Get on with the book...

So take a look:


The cover shows the characters so well. Rowena is a ballet teacher who couldn't follow her dream of dancing on stage. She lives in Zambia and Cameron is a South African worker on contract in Zambia, a single dad with a daughter who needs a female role model in her life. I lived in Zambia for seven years and had to use it for a setting in one of my books. What better than the Ubuntu line of Decadent Publishing for entering a new African culture?

Here's the blurb:

Zambian ballet teacher Rowena Chisanga agrees to give her most difficult student extra lessons because she doesn’t have a mother. What she didn’t bargain for was falling for Jamey’s South African father. Although Rowena and Cameron share the grief of losing a loved one, they are of different race and culture. To complicate matters, Cameron’s work contract in Zambia is soon to end, and Cameron holds fast to the memories from his past marriage. Not willing to sacrifice his daughter’s well-being for a short-lived fling, he chooses to return early to South Africa without informing Rowena. On top of that, she is afraid to give her all to Cameron and Jamey, especially when it means giving up her long-awaited dream to dance in a ballet company. When life’s conflicts and their memories and hurts are pitched against them, can their love survive?