Monday, July 28, 2014

Character Interview - Rachelle from White Christmas Kiss

Today, I'm going to interview the heroine from one of my books. Book #3 of The Wedding Girls' Series, has been contracted but will only be released closer to Christmas as it's a Christmas story. Seeing it's July and some people are celebrating "Christmas in July" plus it features in my book, I'm going to interview Rachelle.

I don't know if anyone reading this post read my debut novel, Wedding Gown Girl. One of Kienna's clients at the wedding boutique where she works confides in her that's she doesn't love her groom. Kienna can't bear to leave the man ignorant so contacts him and warns him. Rachelle is the bride who actually jilts Blake at the altar. Blake, despite his broken heart, is attracted to Kienna and a relationship develops between them. Rachelle even goes so far as to send Kienna bad messages and sabotage their relationship.

So, White Christmas Kiss is Rachelle's story. Doesn't the bad girl deserve a second chance at love?



Here's a blurb of the story:

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?

Character Interview:

What’s your favourite part of the day? Morning, afternoon or night?

Definitely a morning person. I'm fresh and alert first thing and fade towards evening, but since I've met Ray, I'm more flexible. He keeps me alert because I don’t want to miss a single moment with him.

If you had to take anyone with you on a long journey away from home, who would it be?

Well, I’ve spent two years of my life journeying far from home. To be honest, I don’t know. I’m estranged from my parents. Once I meet Ray, he would, of course, be my first choice. I mean we fell in love on tour so touring would bring back memories of those precious moments together discovering one another.

Name one of your weaknesses that you’d like to work on.

I do tend to be a little suspicious of people. I don’t trust easily. I also tend to live in the past, reliving my mistakes and wishing I could have done things differently.

What question would you like to ask your creator?

Why Ray? Why did you send him to me? I know he’s right for me but I just wanted to know your thinking. I wonder if I'd met him earlier if I would have been ready for him. 

If you could do anything over again in the book, what would it be?

I would have tried much harder to mend the broken relationships in my life. I’d be willing to ask questions instead of believe the worst of people’s reactions.

If you were able to invent something totally new for your world, what would it be, and why do you think it’s needed?

Phew, that’s a hard question. I would maybe invent a device that could check whether you love someone to eliminate all the doubts and problems before marrying them. Who wants to go through those months of questioning and doubts before the big day? But come to think of it, I think the best way to find out if you love someone is to go through some challenges together, and no machine can tell you what’s in your heart. So, no, I don’t think that would work. How about a software program that takes a photo of a woman and puts different wedding dresses on her or flowers for the chapel, or whatever so she doesn’t take so long to choose what she needs? I’m babbling on. I’d better move on to the next question. Oh wait, how about a love ship? A passenger liner purely for the purpose of bringing people together. It's a wonderful place to meet someone. I think there was a TV program in the eighties called The Love Boat. That would be the best invention ever.

Is there anything you’ve always secretly wished for but isn’t mentioned in the book?

I think I’ve always wanted a baby. Haven’t been ready for one with all my relationship problems, but I’ve always secretly longed for a child to nurture.

If you could commission a painting from a famous artist, what would it be of?

Now that’s the easiest question so far. I’d love a landscape of Copenhagen covered in snow. Or any European country. The snow epitomizes romance and purity—second chances. It washes away all the dust and dirt gathered from months of mistakes and provides a clean slate.

What’s your most embarrassing moment?

I have to say the day I left Blake at the altar. Those moments standing at the back of the church were the most hair-raising of my life. I couldn’t take those steps, and my family’s gazes were on me waiting for me to go. When I told my dad no, I couldn’t marry Blake, I felt dead inside, but now I’m glad I did because I’ve met Ray.

Are you similar to how you were as a child or have you changed significantly? If you’ve changed, what changed you?

I’ve changed a significant amount. I had an easy, almost spoilt childhood. I was the only child and my parents pampered me. They were good to me and I’m forever grateful, but I owe my outlook on life now to the hard two years I spent on the Coderica Passenger Liner. Hardships soften you. I wouldn’t have been ready for love if I hadn’t realised how lost I really was. I had to go through that to appreciate the simple things in life.

What is the most sacrificial thing you’ve done for someone else?

I have to be honest, most of my life, I’ve been rather selfish. Only since I went on the Coderica, did I try to find ways to help others. Often after a long day at work in the chapel, I would fill in for my fellow crew members at the theatre bar. Some nights, I could barely keep my eyes open, but I found joy in giving them a chance to go off the ship or to rest their weary heads.

What do you prefer? Rock, classical, jazz, country or other?

I love my instrumental music and would often let it tinkle on in the background in the chapel on the ship. It’s peaceful, calms the mind and heart, and still allows me to focus on my work. Christmas music has a special place in my heart now, but you need to read the book to find out why.

Cat or dog person?

I haven’t had a pet for years. You can’t keep a pet on an ocean liner. I love to watch the dolphins and whales in Cape Town when the ship docks there. We don't see them every time so it's a real treat when we do.


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Character Interview and Spotlight - Elizabeth West


Today, I have fellow Astraea Press author, Elizabeth West, talking about her inspirational YA novel, Different. She writes sweet, inspirational romances of varying genres - touching and beautiful. Accompanying her is the character from her novel, Jezebel Smith, who will give us some insight into herself.


Different

Anything can happen when the rules change.

Blurb

Jezebel Smith is different. She can’t talk, she doesn’t look like anyone in her family, and no matter what she does it’s always the wrong thing. God accepts her for who she is, but He’s the only one who does. Then she finds an unconscious man in her favorite cave, and her life is turned upside down. New people and new rules collide with the old, leaving Jezebel unsure of which set of rules apply to her life. When the strangers in town attempt to help her out of the nightmare she’s grown up in, it promises to change her life forever.

Excerpt

The distant drip of water echoed off the rocky walls as Jezebel Smith wandered through her cave. Pungent fumes from her kerosene lantern stung her nose, and she wished for a flashlight. But her family would miss a flashlight. They never noticed when she took the old lantern from the barn.

Turning her face away from the lantern, she caught a whiff of the familiar scent of the rocks around her. She loved the fresh, earthy smell of her cave. Through countless hours of careful practice, her hiking boots barely produced a whisper on the bumpy path leading to her special cavern. If she swung the lantern on its creaky handle, however, she could fill the cave with a creepy echo that reminded her of Halloween.

She passed through an opening in the wall and entered a large cavern with several ledges in one end. As she approached the lowest ledge, the glow from her lantern touched an unfamiliar lump on the floor below the rocky shelf and she froze. She knew every inch of this cavern — every rock, ledge, and bump in the floor. No one ever came here. Nothing ever changed unless she changed it. The cave was the only thing she could count on to always stay the same.

This time, however, there was something new. The cave had broken its own rules, adding a boulder where one didn’t belong. She crept toward it, fighting tears of hurt that the cave would trick her like everyone else, and the golden light of her lantern revealed it wasn’t a boulder after all — it was the still form of a man. Her pulse pounded in her ears, so loud it threatened to drown out her own thoughts. Where had he come from? Why wasn’t he moving? Her heart skipped a beat. Was he dead?

Buy Links

Because the book is a brand new release, please follow the link to Elizabeth's website for buy links: E.A. West

Author Bio

E.A. West, award-winning author of sweet and inspirational romance, is a lifelong lover of books and storytelling. In high school, she picked up her pen in a creative writing class and hasn’t laid it down yet. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys reading, knitting, and crocheting. She lives in Indiana with her family and a small zoo of pets.

Where to Find E. A. West



Character Interview - Jezebel Smith

What’s your favourite part of the day? Morning, afternoon or night?

Morning and afternoon are definitely better than night.

If you had to take anyone with you on a long journey away from home, who would it be?

I don’t know. There haven’t been very many people in my life that I would want to go on a long journey with. I don’t really like going places I’ve never been anyway. Unfamiliar things make me nervous.

What is your motto in life?

Always do your best to follow the rules.

Name one of your weaknesses that you’d like to work on.

I don’t know if it counts as a weakness, but I have a speech impairment that makes it nearly impossible to talk a lot of times. I would LOVE to be able to talk as easily as everyone else.

What question would you like to ask your creator?

Why did you give me such a difficult life?

If you could do anything over again in the book, what would it be?

I would probably try harder to talk before the day I found Daniel in my cave.

Give a memory from childhood.

A lot of my memories from childhood aren’t things I like to think about. But I do remember the first time I ever caught a snake. I’d been watching it for a while and finally worked up the courage to reach out and grab it. I caught it right behind its head so it could bite me. When I picked it up, it wrapped its long, slithery body around my arm. The snake’s skin was so smooth, and I could feel how strong it was. I’ve loved snakes ever since.

Is there anything you’ve always secretly wished for but isn’t mentioned in the book?

I’ve always wanted to go to a zoo. I love animals, and a zoo sounds like it would be amazing. My brothers and sisters always talked about the trips their classes at school took, but I was never allowed to go on any trips with my family or anyone else. Maybe someday I’ll be able to go to a zoo and see all the animals I’ve only ever heard people talk about.

If you could commission a painting from a famous artist, what would it be of?

I think I would want a painting of the woods or maybe my cave. Those are my two favorite places and so relaxing.

What’s your most embarrassing moment?

It’s hard to pick just one because I have a lot of embarrassing moments. When you’re as different as I am and don’t understand a lot of things everyone else seems to be born knowing, embarrassment is a way of life.

Are you similar to how you were as a child or have you changed significantly? If you’ve changed, what changed you?

I’m only fifteen, so it hasn’t been that long since I was a child. I think I’m still pretty much the same girl I was a few years ago, but two things have changed me. I became a Christian and I got older.

What is the most sacrificial thing you’ve done for someone else?

I risked severe punishment to get help for Daniel when I found him in my cave. He had that cut on his head and couldn’t seem to stay awake. I was so scared, but I knew he needed a doctor. So I went into town anyway, even though I wasn’t supposed to go there.

What do you prefer? Rock, classical, jazz, country or other?

I don’t really listen to a lot of music, but I like bluegrass and Appalachian mountain music. That’s what I grew up listening to, and it feels like home… in a good way.

Cat or dog person?


Dog person, definitely. I like cats and all other animals, except spiders (they are so creepy!), but I’ve always dreamed of having my own dog.


Thank you for stopping by, Elizabeth and Jezebel. It was fascinating to discover more about you. I love knitting too, by the way.


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Book Spotlight - Never Say Forever

I don't know if you remember that I had Karen King talking about her young adult novel a while back. Well, she's back and this time, she's writing under Kay Harborne and she's writing romance - although, unknown to me, she's pretty old hat at that too! I adore the tagline of her book and it hooks me straight away - Do you follow your dream or do you follow your heart?

Kay Harborne has written several romance stories for women's magazines. Her romance novel The Millionaire Plan was nominated for the RONE Award earlier this year. Never Say Forever was originally published by as a People’s Friend Pocket Novel, then in large print by Linford Romance. She is delighted that Astraea Press have republished it.  Kay has also written many children's books under the name of Karen King. She loves reading, writing and eating chocolate.

Never Say Forever is about to be released so the buy links below may not lead you directly to the book yet but keep your eyes open for this fascinating book.


Blurb:

Do you follow your dream or follow your heart?

That’s the decision Kendall McKenzie has to make when she meets hunky businessman Jake Newman. It’s obvious that he’s as attracted to her as she is to him. But Kendall has vowed to never get married – and it seems that Jake, too, is determined to never commit. When the two are together however sparks fly and it’s obvious to everyone except themselves that they’re meant to be together. Can Kendall trust Jake enough to give him her heart? And if she does will she have to say goodbye to her dream?

Excerpt:

He turned and saw an open door leading into the kitchen where Kendall, her back towards him, was unplugging the kettle. She was wearing a neat, grey, pinstriped suit, the jacket tapering in at the waist and the skirt finishing just above the knee, with enough of a slit to reveal her very shapely legs.

She turned around and smiled at him, and his heart missed a beat. She was incredibly pretty and fresh, even at this early hour. Her glowing hair was loosely tied back from her face, which was bare of make-up apart from a touch of lipstick, and her eyes were bright and sparkling, as if she’d had a restful night’s sleep.

“OK, I’m ready now. I’ve just got to get my suitcase out of the bedroom.”

Here was where he was supposed to tell her that she was staying at the Birmingham office, that he didn’t need her in Spain, after all. But the words wouldn’t come. He might not need her in Spain with him, but he definitely wanted her there.

“Ouch!” Kendall’s cry of pain interrupted his thoughts. He dashed down the hall and saw her bending down, rubbing the back of her leg, the suitcase on the floor behind her.

“Are you all right?” he asked, worried. His eyes rested on the hole in her tights and the bruise already forming. “That looks nasty,” he said sympathetically.

She flushed. “The case was heavier than I thought. I stumbled and caught the back of my leg with it. I’ll be fine. I just need to change my tights.”

“I’ll wait in the car for you.” He effortlessly picked up the heavy suitcase. “And we’re all right for a few minutes if you want to put some ice on that bruise.” Without waiting for an answer, he carried the suitcase out the front door.

Maybe he was the one who needed the ice, he thought, as he took the case down to the car. The sight of Kendall’s bare skin peeping through the hole in her tights and hint of cleavage as she’d bent down to rub her leg had certainly made his temperature rise.

Don’t even think about it, he warned himself as he pressed the remote to open the car boot. This was a business trip, and he had to keep it that way. He never mixed business with pleasure and he wasn’t about to start now. Not even with Kendall McKenzie.

Especially not with Kendall McKenzie.

****

It was only as she walked into the car park at the back of the flats that Kendall realised she didn’t know what sort of car Jake drove, but the sleek midnight-blue sedan just had to be his. She was a bit taken aback when he got out, walked around, and opened the passenger door for her. Not many guys did that nowadays.

“Thank you,” she said as she slid onto the leather seat.

“My pleasure.” There was a hint of teasing in his reply, as if he knew he’d surprised her.

“Love the car,” she said as he got in beside her.

He flashed her a smile. “I quite like it too.”

“It might have been better if you’d got someone to drop us off at the airport so they could take the car back,” she suggested. “I wouldn’t risk leaving a car like this parked at the airport.”

ʺI’m not. I’ve left a spare set of keys with my chauffeur. He’ll pick it up later this morning then drive it home for me. It didn’t seem fair to drag him out of bed this early.”

He’s a nice guy, Kendall thought, kind and considerate yet rich and successful. In her experience, the qualities didnʹt always mix.

As they drove along, she was acutely aware of his presence beside her, of his strong hands holding the wheel casually but firmly, of his left hand reaching down to change gears effortlessly and smoothly, just a few centimetres from her knee.

“How long did you teach in Thailand?” he asked her. “I spent a bit of time over there myself a couple of years ago. It’s a beautiful country.”

“I was there for a year.” She was glad of the diversion. “I taught in a school in Chiang Mai.”

For the rest of the journey they spoke about Thailand and some of the other countries they had both visited, and she realised that he was actually very easy to talk to with a good sense of humour. She was almost sorry when they arrived at the airport; she’d enjoyed his company so much.


Careful, she told herself. I bet he’s as charming as this with all the women he meets. She knew he had a reputation for collecting beautiful girlfriends — Tanya had hinted as much at the engagement party. He was the eternal bachelor. Well, she was the eternal bachelor girl, wasn’t she? She could handle Jake Newman, even if he did make her go all goose-bumpy.

Buy Links:

Kay's Links:

Twitter: @karen_king


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Author Interview with Elizabeth Morgan


I have fellow Decadent Publishing author, Elizabeth Morgan, who's written her first sweet romance. (She actually writes in a rainbow of genres.) Today, she's talking about her latest sweet, contemporary romance called Stepping Stones. As soon as I read the excerpt of this book, I was hooked. She's running a blog tour and there are prizes to be won so click on the rafflecopter link below to enter the competition. I think you only have today and tomorrow left to enter.


Blurb:

There's nothing like a wedding to bring the family together....

If not for her baby sister’s impending marriage, Margaret West would never return home. But after six long years, she finds herself a maid of honor who must answer to the people she left behind.

If her parents’ interrogation doesn’t drive her to drink, facing her foster brother, Adrian, just might. To make matters worse, her ex-fiancé is the vicar who will conduct her sister’s ceremony.


Everyone demands to know why she ran off. But the more time she spends at home, the more Margaret realizes even she doesn’t know the real reason.

Length: Novella (32,000/91 pages)| Content: Sweet Romance/Contemporary| Publisher: Bono Books


Excerpt:

“When is Aidy getting here?” Jessica grabbed the large bowl of scrambled eggs and brought it closer to her plate.
“I think his flight is due in at three.” My mother placed a dish of bacon on the table and took a seat beside me. “He will be in time for the wedding rehearsal; don’t worry.”
 My stomach clenched. “Wedding rehearsal?” I coughed, trying to clear the chunk of toast lodged in my throat. “What wedding rehearsal?”
“Today at four. We’re running through the service.” Jess scooped egg onto her plate. “I told you.”
Nervous laughter bubbled in my throat and try as I may, I couldn’t stop shaking my head. “No.” I patted my chest. “No, you never mentioned a rehearsal.”
“Oh.” She placed the bowl back in the middle of the table. “I could have sworn I did.”
“Nope, you didn’t. Believe me, I would have remembered otherwise.” I grabbed my mug and knocked the coffee back before finishing my piece of toast.
“Well, it’s no big deal.” Edward took the bowl of eggs and helped himself. “Just a quick run-through.”
“Will everyone be there?” Forcing a smile on my face, I looked up at them both, hoping like hell my question would pass as innocent and genuine curiosity.
“Anyone who is involved in the wedding itself will be.”
Great. So that meant Jessica, Edward, the parents, and the bridesmaids, plus me. That left Adrian and…. “Will Vicar Taylor, be there?”
Oh God, did my voice just go higher?
“Yes, Margaret, William will be there. He is the one who is marrying Jessie and Edward, so he needs to be there.” My father skewered some bacon and tomatoes onto his fork.
Grimacing, I reached out and grabbed another piece of toast. “Just a question, Pa.” A stupid one, but a question nevertheless….
“It is normal for people to have wedding rehearsals, Margaret. Just because you—”
Jess picked up the coffeepot. “Does anyone want more coffee?”
I straightened, my focus fixed on Pa. “I’m aware of that.”
“Maggie?”
My father’s shoulders went rigid. He lifted his head and our gazes locked. I didn’t miss the way the muscle in the side of his neck ticked. Arguing with my father in front of Jessica and Edward was not an option, so I looked away.
“Please.” I held out my mug and Jess poured the dark liquid.
I could kick myself. A wedding rehearsal hadn’t even crossed my mind. Having to stand at the altar before William on the actual wedding day would be hard enough, but having to do it twice…my stomach churned.
“So, will Adrian come straight to the church?” Edward cut the awkward silence.
“Yes. He will get a taxi to the church, and then we will bring him and his luggage back here.” My mother held her mug out to Jess.
“Adrian is staying here? Tonight?” I added sugar to my coffee. “Won’t it be crowded? I thought—”
“No more crowded than it was in your childhood.” My father took a bite out of his toast.
More and more good news. Of course he would be staying here; it was his family home after all. I guess, it was stupid of me to hope that he would go to a B&B, but my parents wouldn’t have allowed it even if he did suggest it. I hadn’t seen him in six years, hadn’t spoken to him. And yet, in a couple of hours I would be locked in the same house as him.

Buy Links:


Author Interview:

What is the best thing for you about being a writer?

The best thing about being a writer is that I get to create worlds and then share them with other people. I have always had a vivid imagination and it has always been my belief that I have this imagination and these strange dreams that I have for a reason. And that reason is to write stories and share them with the world.

What is the hardest thing for you about being a writer?

Wanting to write, having these scenes play in my head, having these dreams, but not having the time to write, which is sometimes the case. And then, when I have the time, sometimes I haven't got the energy because I've had a tough day, or something is going on in my personal life etc. And it is very frustrating, because I do just want to sit and write.

What genre/s do you write and what genre is your latest release?

I'm a multi-published author of urban fantasy, paranormal, erotic horror, f/f and contemporary; all my stories have a degree of romance, a dose of action and usually a hit of sarcasm, sizzle or blood, but no matter what I give a unique and often humorous spin to my stories.

I like variety so if I have a story idea and it is outside my "usual" genre, well, I will still write it. I like trying different things, and I've had the idea for a reason and that reason is to write that story.

My latest release is a sweet contemporary romance. It is the first, and currently the only sweet romance I have written, and it is very family orientated.


What essential things have you learned about writing in the last year?

That each author is different and that we all have our own time limits and routines, and everyone works at their own pace.

I often find myself freaking out that I am only writing/publishing X amount of books a year, and yet everyone else is doing double the amount, but life affects and it isn't a competition.

Who is your favourite heroine from your books and why?

Heather Ryan from my Blood Series is my fave heroine so far simply because she was the first heroine I ever wrote. She has changed a lot from the original draft, but life has really dealt her all the rubbish cards. Her life, her purpose is so crazy, but she handles it with a lot of sarcasm and humour and just gets on with her life's mission, because she has no other choice. It's admirable.

What type of hero do you like? Super alpha, wounded or somewhere in between? Or even something totally different? You could give an example from a movie or well-known book.

I like all types of heroes. I love Dracula; dark tortured soul. I love Mr Rochester from Jane Eyre; he is wounded, alone, angry. I love Rick O'connell from The Mummy. I love Gambit from X-Men. I could go on, but I won't. We will be here all day otherwise. ;-P

Tell us about your journey in writing this book.

The idea started with a dream, which I let stew for a while. A year later I sat down and started writing I got two chapters written and then one of my Werewolves from the Blood Series barged into my brain and started growling over the fact that I hadn't written his and his mates story.

It's very hard to ignore a Werewolf, especially Owen MacLaren, so I stopped writing Stepping Stones and wrote She-Wolf. After I had finished that book, and Owen was happy, I continued with Stepping Stones until I had it finished.

The book was originally published in November 2012, but the publisher closed a year later and the rights were reverted back to me. So, I cleaned it up and submitted it to Bono Books (Decadent Publishing) and it was contracted.

I feel that this new edition is tons better than the original, and I absolutely love the book cover and can't wait to share this new and improved version with you all.

Tell us three quirky or interesting things about yourself.

I'm very open-minded and I am a huge believer in fate, reincarnation, soul-mates, and well, I believe that everything in life happens for a reason.

I collect Venetian masks.

I have one tonsil. lol

What rituals do you use to help you focus or get the words down on the page e.g. music or a snack.

I usually always have a playlist for each of my projects, or at the very least one song that can sum the whole feel of the story up. No matter what I have to have my headphones on and music playing, that way it blocks all other sounds out and I find I can concentrate on the project better. And a cup of tea always helps. ;-P

Mention something unique about your books and your writing style.

They usually have a lot of humour, sometimes it is a little dark or possibly twisted, but I think you will always giggle at something in my stories.

What book would you like to work on next?

I'm currently in the middle of editing the first book in my urban fantasy series, Cranberry Blood (Blood Series: Book One.)

The novel - along with its prequel She-Wolf - was originally published in 2011 and 2012, but after the publisher closed down and I received my rights back, I decided to self-publish the books and all that will follow.

So, She-Wolf & Cranberry Blood will be re-released on August 25th. I will be starting book two in the series in the summer, after I finish my present current WIP, which is a brand new fantasy romance.

Thanks so much, Elizabeth, you are very interesting. And yes, sometimes finding time to write is challenging! I'm also in the middle of two books at the moment with about two or three other ideas floating around in my head.

Where you can find Elizabeth online:



From Elizabeth: Thank you for having me over today and thank you to all of you for stopping by. If you would be interested in winning a copy of my new release, Stepping Stones or maybe a swag pack, then please do leave an entry on the rafflecopter. J

Check out the beautiful prizes:





Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Book Spotlight with Heather Gray

I'm happy to have Heather Gray with me today talking about her new release, Jackal. It's book 2 of her Regency Refuge inspirational historical romances. I love Regencies but could never write them. I take my hat off to Heather for writing in this fascinating genre. She's conquered other genres too. The cover is beautiful!


JACKAL
(Regency Refuge #2)
Media Kit

Back Cover Blurb:
Hiding in the shadows just got harder.

When tragedy strikes, Juliana and her family must flee their home. Can they persuade a virtual stranger to help them? Juliana isn't so sure, especially after their chaperone threatens to cane him. Even as Juliana struggles to trust him, she finds herself drawn to this mysterious man. Surely all she wants from him is refuge…

Rupert is a man whose life depends on his ability to remain unnoticed. What, then, is he supposed to do with this family he's inherited?  His life is overrun with an ancient chaperone who would terrify a lesser man, two spirited girls, and the secretive Juliana – someone he comes to think of as his own precious jewel.

With this new responsibility thrust upon him, Rupert will have to make sacrifices – but will God ask him to sacrifice everything?


Excerpt:
1810
A duke had been cut down in the prime of his life. According to the War Department, The Hunter was to blame.
Jackal had been put onto The Hunter's scent and told to ferret him out at all cost. It was his job, his duty to the crown, and he treated it with the seriousness it demanded. Evil could not be allowed to go unpunished, and people who took pleasure in destroying the lives of others would not walk away with impunity, not on his watch.
Jackal met with his contacts in the Austrian government and found no gratification in revealing they had a traitor in their midst. It had been a necessary move, and now the problem would be dealt with. The Austrians would put The Hunter down, and England's hands would remain clean of the mess, exactly as the minister wanted.
Grim foreboding furrowed his brow as he left the meeting with the Austrians. His lack of evidence mocked him. He'd done as ordered, and they'd believed him, but had it been his choice, he'd have gathered more proof first.
Jackal climbed into his carriage and slapped his hand against the roof, signaling the driver with his readiness to depart. A lengthy ride awaited him. He would leave the carriage and his current identity behind in Munich once he arrived there. New papers and fresh horses were waiting for him. The same would happen again when he crossed over into Stuttgart, and then again in Brussels. His task was clear: remain alive long enough to claim each of the new identities and return safely to his homeland.
Sitting back on the roughly cushioned seat, he accepted what he'd begun to suspect. This would be his last assignment for the crown. He was getting too old for the job. The time to retire was upon him. The younger bucks were willing – if not entirely ready – to take their place among the ranks of the unseen, unknown, and unnamed heroes of war. Jackal shook his head. Not too long ago, he'd been one of those young bucks. Ready for retirement at age thirty-two? The thought would be laughable in any other career. In his line of work, though, only those who retired young lived to be old and grey.
Lost in melancholy, Jackal barely noted the change from the raucous noise of a bustling merchant district to the quiet pastoral sounds that would accompany him on most of this journey. Europe was a large land with rich cities interspersed with vast emptiness dotted with small hamlets. Traveling by carriage would take weeks, but as long as he could report back that he'd done as ordered, it would be worth the time.
He settled into his seat. They were still days from their first sanctioned stop. As always, the best defense was to keep moving.

****

A change in the carriage's soothing methodical movement woke Jackal from his doze and alerted him that something was amiss. Awareness coursed through his veins, pushing away the remnant of sleep. A quick glance at the curtained window told him it was late morning. They'd ridden through the night to put as much distance as possible between them and Vienna – the current hub of Austrian government.
The carriage was moving with a wildness he'd felt only one other time in his life. Dread snaked through his middle as he accepted the truth. There was no longer a driver in control of his conveyance. Jackal crouched low on the floor for balance as he prepared to throw open the door and jump. Perhaps he should have sought retirement one assignment sooner.
Before his hand could touch the door, a jarring force threw Jackal against the seat to his left, shooting pain up his arm. They'd been boarded, then, and his driver – an agent he'd worked with for years – had likely not been alive to sound the alarm. Emotion would come later. For now, Jackal needed to focus on one thing: Survival.
The carriage gained speed under the skillful hand of whoever now sat in the driver's seat. I should have jumped when I had the chance. Jackal shook his head as he calculated the odds of survival.
Palming his gun, he pounded on the roof of the carriage, commanding the driver to stop. Surprise flared to life as his conveyance did indeed come to a standstill. Rather than slow to a gentle stop, the carriage halted its forward momentum in a skidding bone-shaking fashion. It was the kind of stop that guaranteed no beast would be able to walk away from it afterward.
Jackal jumped before the dust could settle. His best chance would be to go on the offence and catch the driver off-guard. Though he'd assumed the driver had a partner, nothing could have prepared him for the vicious attack awaiting him on the other side of the door.
Jackal no sooner touched the ground than he was trampled under the anxious feet of a high-stepping horse. He'd not even had a chance to gain his footing. As he lay on the ground, Jackal both heard and felt the breaking of bone in his left leg. A couple of his ribs surrendered to the heavy hooves as well. Rolling onto his side, he took aim at the perpetrator. The sun blinded him, and he could distinguish no features on the man whose gun dared him to move. In the split second it took for him to reassure himself he was not aiming at an innocent bystander – for they were indeed in one of the numerous modest hamlets that dotted the continent's countryside – the rider pulled the trigger, and pain seared through Jackal's already throbbing leg. It felt as if the lead had burrowed its way into his very bone.
He pulled the trigger of his flintlock pistol, and the man on the horse recoiled. Even as Jackal reached for the gun concealed at the ankle of his wounded leg, he knew it was futile. The rider had a second gun in-hand before his own fingers even brushed against the grip of his hidden weapon. Pain tore through his shoulder, immobilizing his shooting arm. Another ball of lead ripped into his middle. He felt his blood seeping out onto the street.
Accepting his fate, he asked only one thing. "At whose hand am I to die this day?"
Laughter vile enough to sour port met his question. "Today the Jackal shall meet his end at the hands of The Hunter."
The Hunter? The Austrians were supposed to have him by now.
"Your plan failed, and I am free. Prepare to die."
Blackness closing in around him, Jackal released the last thought held captive in his mind.
Why God?
Cold claimed his body as he slipped into darkness. He neither heard nor felt the next shot.

Author Bio:
Heather Gray is the author of the Ladies of Larkspur inspirational western romance series, including Mail Order man, Just Dessert, and Redemption.  She also writes the Regency Refuge series with titles His Saving Grace, Jackal, and the soon-to-be-released Queen.  But that's not all!  Interested in contemporary Christian romance?  Take a look at Ten Million Reasons and Nowhere for Christmas.

Heather loves coffee, God, her family, and laughter – not necessarily in that order!  She writes approachable and flawed characters who, through the highs and lows of life, find a way to love God, embrace each day, and laugh out loud right along with her.  And, yeah, her books almost always have someone who's a coffee addict.  Some things just can't be helped.


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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Book Spotlight - Krysten Lindsay Hager

Krysten Lindsay Hager is a fellow Astraea Press author. She's written her debut novel and it looks like a great read for teenage girls.


Krysten Lindsay Hager is an author and book addict who has never met a bookstore she didn’t like. She’s worked as a journalist and also writes middle grade, YA, humor essays, and adult fiction. Her debut novel, TRUE COLORS, will be out June 17th from Astraea Press. She is originally from Michigan and has lived in South Dakota, Portugal, and currently resides in Southern Ohio where you can find her reading and writing when she’s not catching up on her favorite shows.

I so agree, Krysten, bookstores are great!!



Blurb:


Every day I walked down the sidewalk to school and wished I were one of the interesting popular girls who ran up with exciting news. Just once I’d like to be one of those girls instead of the being the one who didn’t get invited to things because people “forgot” about me.

Landry gets pushed into trying out for the American Ingénue reality show modeling competition with her two best friends.  She doesn’t think she stands a chance, but she advances to the next level in the competition and her friends ignore her when they get cut.

Enter the gorgeous Devon, who also makes the first cut and includes Landry in her clique. Devon becomes the perfect best friend, but can their friendship survive the competition?

Landry hopes her big break could come at any moment, but soon sees there’s much more to modeling. She begins missing out on being with friends and has the chance to have a boyfriend when she meets a boy named Vladi from another school.


Part of Landry wants to be famous (and have her hair look good for once), but part of her just wants to be accepted. She learns about friendships, being true to yourself, and that a good hair conditioner doesn’t hurt.

Excerpt:

The competition was for girls between the ages of thirteen and seventeen, but it felt like Ericka, Tori, and I were the youngest ones there. I only saw a couple of girls from school, and the lineup looked more like something you’d see on a music video set. All the girls were gorgeous, and they had these curvy womanly bodies. I looked like a skinny little kid next to them. The first girl walked out, and I heard the judges say she “owned the runway,” and, “walked like a gazelle.” I was starting to feel ill. I wasn’t sure which way it was going to come, but I knew I had to find a bathroom — fast. I started to get out of line when Ericka grabbed my wrist.

“It’s almost time,” she said. A tiny bit of spit flew out of her mouth and hit my cheek.

I wasn’t sure why she was so intent on me going through with it, but she had a death grip on my arm, so I didn’t have much of a choice. Her number was called and she walked out to the stage. One of the other girls said she walked like a kid with sand bucket stilts on her feet, but she came back with a smirk on her face like she knew she’d get chosen.

“They said they had never seen such long legs,” she said.

Tori was next.

“She walks like a gorilla at feeding time,” said the girl behind me. I went next, and I tried to focus on not tripping over my feet. My mom’s pumps had a rubber sole on the bottom, which probably wasn’t the brightest idea seeing as my shoes were making squeaking noises as I walked. I was so nervous I couldn’t stop smiling as I walked. I looked like the plastic clown who blows up balloons with its mouth at the Pizza Palace. When I got to the end of the runway, I tried to cross my feet to turn like the other girls had, but I over rotated and ended up doing a full spin which made my kilt fan out and gave the mall walkers a view of my blue underpants. I tried to act like it was intentional and did an extra turn. One of the judges put her hand up to stop me, and I held my breath as she started to speak.


Ooh, that excerpt makes me so curious!!


You can find Krysten here:


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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

New Release Spotlight and Book Review

The last of the series is now out - Winds of Change of the Island Girl's Trilogy. I just finished reading the book today so find my review below. Don't you just adore this cover?


Blurb:

To be with him feels like playing Russian roulette blindfolded all while knowing she bet from borrowed lease. Can something this wrong be....right?

Neha Hemant has always been called the neutral one – like sensible Switzerland. She’s never rocked the boat, and has always done everything expected from her, an Indo-Mauritian woman.

So where’s the fulfillment, the sense of completion...

And worse, why does she find this feeling of coming home with a man totally not right for her? She’s a widow with three teenage children, and Logan Warrington is a reformed bad boy, and her boss.... He shouldn’t have the power to make her burn, make her yearn, and wish for nothing more than damning the consequences, not when she has lived her whole life trying to do the right thing society expected of her.


As the winds of change blow on Neha’s life, could the time have come for her to step out of her bubble, and live for the moment, and herself?

You can catch all of the first two chapters of the book here, and if you want to delve into the whole deal, then here are the links where you can find WINDS OF CHANGE (Island Girls #3)




My Review

Zee is a master story teller. She's woven a tale of complex, real characters who go through the storms of change in this heart-wrenching and touching novel. Neha doesn't like change. She likes her world in a perfect flux but when her husband disappears in a flood and they can't find his body, she and her kids presume him dead. She's coped so long with a distant and uncaring husband anyway, so her life changes little until she obtains a new job at a TV broadcasting company and she meets Logan. Logan brings a storm into her passive, resigned existence and stirs up Neha's true heart. Logan is a fascinating character. He's a New Zealander - reminds me of one of the All-Black bulky rugby players - although he's an ex-boxer. He's got his own baggage and at first he seems harsh and unreachable. Neha's attracted to him but also intimidated by him. He reminds me a bit of a bull in a China shop with a very soft heart hidden inside. Neha is the opposite - she's soft, pliable, peace-loving and one of those woman who does the right thing even if it hurts. I love the way they work out to be perfect for one another but it takes Neha a long time to come round. At times, I was annoyed with Logan, especially around the middle of the book. I wished he would just make a move and follow his heart, but I know deep inside that if he had, he would have scared her off. She reminds me of a doe in the bush - you dare not make a sudden, harsh movement, because then she'll make a dash for it. As much as Logan can be brash and bulldoggish at work, he's really gentle with Neha and he takes his time with her. This story has many facets and will keep you going for some time - it's like a real family saga. It was lovely to learn about the last sister in the trilogy and discover her story and her heart.

To be honest, Neha and Logan remind me eerily like my husband and I before we married - very similar personalities and conflicts that we went through so I could identify with a lot of the book. Logan is a lot like my husband who eventually couldn't take my nonsense anymore but it was a good thing, lol. I loved the way Logan broke through her shell of "right" and warmed her heart to his passion. The love scenes were touching and beautiful and real. A romance with a very realistic feel to it.


If you haven't already, you can find Zee here:

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