Posted in Book Review, New Books

5* Review:Summer at Castle Stone – Lynn Marie Hulsman

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Shayla Sheridan’s a New York native-born into big city luxury, but she’s never really fitted in with the “it” crowd. Desperate to make it as a writer and to finally step out from her famous father’s shadow, Shayla decides to take on a tricky assignment across the pond…

Swapping skyscrapers and heels for wellies and the heart of the Irish countryside, Shayla must go about ghost-writing a book of recipes by the notoriously reclusive and attractive head chef of Castle Stone, Tom O’Grady.

The only problem? He has no idea that she’s writing it.

Summer at Castle StoneMy Review

‘Summer at Castle Stone’ has all the important ingredients of romantic comedy. Shayla is a likeable comic heroine who doesn’t quite fit in the competitive, edgy world where she exists. Tom, a reclusive, ex celebrity chef is the perfect sexy, conflicted hero. Maggie, Maeve, Tony and Brigid head a cast of realistic and interesting secondary characters whose eccentricities enhance the story’s comedy and romance. Shayla’s identity crisis, which is deeper than a change of name, provides the misunderstanding, which threatens her chance of happy ever after.

The story highlights the ups and downs of ‘living the dream’ in New York beautifully and contrasts this with the community and quaintness Shayla finds in an Irish village and country estate. Castle Stone provides many hilarious moments as Shayla gets to grips with the country way of doing things. The insight into the world of writers and publishing gives this story depth and adds to the enjoyment.

Shayla is intelligent and street wise but her lack of close family support reveals a vulnerability that puts her happiness in danger. She attracts your empathy and you really want her to be fulfilled and happy. Shayla’s and Tom’s attraction and emotional connection give this story plenty of heat.

‘Summer at Castle Stone’ is a classy, witty story with lots of laughs, a few tears and most importantly heartfelt romance.

I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Summer at Castle Stone by Lynn Marie Hulsman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Summer at Castle Stone by Lynn Marie Hulsman

Lynn Marie Hulsman

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Check out my review of Christmas at Thornton Hall also by Lynn Marie Hulsman

Posted in Inspiration

The Last Flowers of Summer? – Hardwick Hall

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Hardwick Hall and Gardens

 Earlier in the week I blogged about my visit to Hardwick Hall and Gardens. If you read my Tuesday post you’ll appreciate I got more than expected when I visited the house. 🙂

 My earlier visit to the beautiful gardens was I’m happy to say uneventful but enjoyable. In late August the flowers were not at their peak but there were still lots of beautiful flowers to be admired.

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There was also an exhibition of modern sculpture in the gardens depicting ‘The Men who Built Hardwick’.

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What I loved about the gardens was how family friendly they were. Children were encouraged to play on the vast grassy areas with hula hoops. ball games and skittles. A far cry from visiting stately houses when I was a child when ‘Keep Off The Grass’ was the most common sign. 😉

Continuing the activities for the young at heart there was some very cute trees with their own small doors for any Fae or small creatures that lived in the gardens.

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 If you prefer something more classical, these ladies should appeal?

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Definitely plenty of inspiration for a historical romance here?

Thanks to my lovely husband for taking the flower, house and statue photos for this post x

Posted in Author Interview, Blogging Communty

Author Interview: Felicity Kates – Steam Bunny

cover-finalToday on my blog I have the lovely Felicity Kates. She is the author of Steam Bunny an erotic romance novella brimming with originality and naughtiness.

 Read my 4* review of Steam Bunny here.

 Author Interview

1. I loved the originality of your debut erotic romance novella ‘Steam Bunny’. What inspired you to write this story?

It was almost a dare, actually. My good writing friend, Zara Cox, saw I was struggling with what I was working on at the time and said, “Take a break and try something new. 1000 words a day and you’ll have a novella written in a month. I know you can do it if you try.” So that’s what I did. I put together a brief outline of all the things I like best—art, romance, Steam-punk and fan expos—mixed in some seriously smexy characters and out popped Steam Bunny.

I’d never written erotic romance before. I’d never written first person before. So this is a definite debut book for me in many respects. And I’m really pleased with how well it’s been received. It’s very exciting.

2. Can you describe your writing process if you have one?

It always starts with a word. Something I hear that makes me think of a title or a phrase. The imagining happens next and scenes play out in my mind. I write them down. A plot takes form as characters begin to come to life. I don’t know them yet, but I discover them as I begin to write their journey. They often reveal to me the most unexpected things by about chapter 3. So I have to go back and change things again, always keeping in my mind where the story is headed in the end. The first rough draft—it’s not pretty. I let it come out as fast as my fingers can fly. Then I spend weeks and weeks revising that into something people can read and (hopefully) enjoy.

3. What’s next after ‘Steam Bunny’?

Steam Bunny is the first in a new series of erotic romance novellas called Little Miss Kick-Ass. The next book, Fit To Be Tied is due out in December of this year.

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Picture Courtesy of Pussycat Promotions

4. How important is writing in your life?

Writing is my obsession. If I don’t write, I get cranky. If I had to choose between writing and sleeping (which I often do), I’d choose writing  🙂

 5. It’s increasingly important for authors to have a social media presence. Is this something you enjoy? Do you have a favourite social media platform and why?

I love talking with readers and other writers. It’s the self-promotion part I have a hard time with. I’m a reclusive wall flower by nature and running around to different online groups and saying, “Hey look at me!”…that’s something I need to work on. But it gets easier the more I learn and try. 🙂
I’m most visible on Facebook. But am also on Twitter, Goodreads and Pinterest. I also have my blog, Kates Korner, where I talk about things more in-depth.

6.What types of books do you like to read?

I really enjoy all types of books. But anything with a bit of romance and adventure, whether it’s contemporary or historical, fantasy or sci-fi, those I enjoy the most.

SteamBunnyBlurbPicture Courtesy of Pussycat Promotions

7. I enjoy reading all types of romance, women’s fiction, thrillers and mysteries and plan to experiment with all these genres in my writing. Do want to specialise in erotic romance or would you like to write something different? If so what.

My main writing has been in romantic sci-fi/steam-punk under the pen name of Kate Reedwood. I’m hoping to have an exciting announcement about that soon. Erotic romance is a new adventure for me, but one I thoroughly enjoy and will continue to pursue as well.

8. What made you decide to self-publish?

I needed a way to publish my work in a way that could fit with me and my lifestyle. Most people don’t know it, but I have Multiple Sclerosis. It’s not very advanced yet and I refuse to let it stop me from living a full life, but it does slow me down. Self-publishing seemed a good option for its flexibility.

9. What do you see as the advantages of self- publishing?

You set your own deadlines. You have creative say over your covers and content. It’s nice if you are an established author looking for more control over your work. There isn’t any middleman taking a cut of your profits if that’s what you’re in the business for.

10. Are there any disadvantages?

It’s hard if you are a new author. Without a publisher giving your work credibility and an established fan base, it can be very challenging to attract readers. You aren’t going to be a number one bestseller on your first try. Not unless a lightning bolt of publicity strikes you at the right time.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve written the best book in the Universe, self-publishing as a brand new author is a bit like being at a fair and standing on a ratty soap box, waving your arms around saying, “Who wants to try a new book?” and having ninety percent of the crowd pass you by as they go to the next stall over where the author is impeccably dressed with a flashy banner ad and a handful of professional people creating a buzz in the crowd.
There’s a lot to learn about promotion and business and you really need to work hard every day to expand your reach and broaden your market.
But creating a fan base takes a lot of time and effort, whether you’re traditionally published or indie, so my advice to new writers out there is to make your books the very best they can be and never, ever give up. Listen to feedback, but understand you can’t please everyone, so don’t even try. Keep the vision in your mind of where you want to go and what you want to do. Then go out there and do it.

Thank you so much for having me on you blog today, Jane. It’s been both a pleasure and an honour.

 

Thanks Felicity great answers hope to see you again soon 🙂

Posted in My Dogs

We’ve Had Oby A Year – In Pictures. – Honorary 7th Birthday :-)

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Oby’s 7th Birthday 27 August 2014

We adopted Oby our lovely German Shepherd/Border Collie a year ago today and as you can see he is a beautiful dog.

If you want to read about how we got Oby, check out my daughter’s post on Seek My Scribbles.

Oby was six when we got him but we didn’t know the exact date of his birthday  so we decided on 27 August, which was the day he came into our lives.

Here’s Oby’s first year with us in pictures :

Oby August 27 2013 - His first day with us.
Oby August 27 2013 – His first day with us.
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Early Morning Walk Spring Bank Holiday May 2014
One of Oby's favourite places
One of Oby’s favourite places
Oby's Favourite Toy
Oby’s Favourite Toy

 

Oby  on Jazz's Birthday June 21 2014
Oby on Jazz’s Birthday
June 21 2014
Oby on the beach Northumberland July 2014
Oby on the beach Northumberland July 2014
Oby on the Beadnell Beach Northumberland 2014
Oby on the Beadnell Beach Northumberland 2014
Race you...
Race you…

Oby’s birthday was a great excuse for some new toys which Jazz was more than happy to share 🙂

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Jazz shares Oby’s Birthday Toys
Oby seems to like birthdays?
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Happy 7th Birthday Oby 27 August 2014
Posted in Inspiration, Writing Journey

A Strange Experience in an Historical House.

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I always enjoy celebrating birthdays and anniversaries. Last Wednesday August 20th was my 31st wedding anniversary and as part of the celebrations Vince and I visited our local stately home Hardwick Hall, which is owned by the National Trust. As National Trust members we are regular visitors to the grounds since it is only five or so miles from where we live but  I have never visited the house, so we left the dogs at home with our daughter and set off for a few hours of exploring the house and gardens.

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The gardens although not in their full summer bloom were spectacular as you can see. I will blog about the gardens another time. The house was seriously impressive from the outside, it is notable for the amount of windows it has. It was built between 1590-1597  for Bess of Hardwick (1527-1608).  I was particularly interested in the tapestries for which  Hardwick is famous. Some of these have been sent away for specialist cleaning and restoration and the finished result is spectacular.

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The entrance hall was dark, despite the numerous windows. Most of the windows were screened to protect the tapestries from the sun and there were copious amounts of  dark wood paneling. So that explained the darkness but not the oppressive feeling I experienced after a few moments standing in the hall talking to one of the volunteers.

Undeterred  we carried on into the exhibition rooms adjacent to the entrance, which were dark with uneven floors. I tried to concentrate on the tapestries many were darkened by age. The longer I remained in the rooms the more disoriented I became. Initially I put it down to the low ceilings and darkness. I have suffered from severe vertigo in the past so I recognised the symptoms, dizziness, nausea and the inability to walk in a straight line but that didn’t explain the oppressive presence I also felt in those rooms.

I stuck it out as long as I could and then told Vince I had to get out of there. I wanted to see the rest of the house despite feeling ill so  we kept going up to the next floor and the amazing room where Bess of  Hardwick received her guests. This room was lighter with higher ceilings and seemed free of the oppressive presence  I sensed in the rooms below. The long gallery was also on this floor and it’s reputed to be haunted but I felt nothing there. Probably because there were lots of little children running about, which made us all smile.

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Then came the bedrooms, which were colour themed. The green room was opulent as the picture below shows. So was the blue room but it was also freezing. I don’t mean draughty. I mean icy cold. I couldn’t stay in the room long enough to take a photograph.

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The rest of the house was interesting and I will share my thoughts and photographs in another post but my lasting impression will be the oppressive presence of the lower rooms and the icy coldness of the blue bedroom.

I checked to see if anyone else had recorded a similar experience  and found this article, which mirrors my feelings about the blue bedroom.

I haven’t experienced anything like this for a number of years and certainly didn’t expect to feel so debilitated in a house full of tourists but I did. I will continue to visit the gardens and park and admire the grandeur of the house from outside but I don’t think I will be stepping inside anytime soon. 🙂

Has this happened to you? Check out my other ghostly encounters:

Have You Ever Stayed in a Haunted House?

Ghostly Experience in the Lake District.

Posted in Author Guest Post, Blogging Community, Blogging Communty

A Guide to Love – Remy – Meet My Character Blog Tour

My friend Christy Newton is guest blogging here today and is going to introduce one of her characters as part of the meet my character blog tour. Over to you Christy. 🙂

Lovely Jane Hunt invited me to take part in the Meet My Character Blog Tour. Last week she introduced me to Zane the wolf shifter from The Dragon Legacy. You can read about him here.

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Sexy and determined, Remy Rosetto must go to Sand Crest Island to find a letter from his grandfather in order to earn his inheritance. Remy finds the island quaint, but really just wants to get back to his penthouse in New York… even richer than he already is. He has no interest what the island has to offer until he runs into exotic Daphne.

BLURB

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Remy is sexy! And he smells like spice cake and heaven.

Here is a quote from a reviewer about Remy:

“Now Remy.. oh Remy! Mr. Sex on a stick, man in a suit…. He’s charming, SEXY, loving, sweet and cares a lot about Daphne. You will fall for his charm, gestures and little things he does for Daphne. And the realizations that come to him on this overall journey for him. And you will love him with his fabulous lines.” Remy is also very determined to get what he wants, especially when what he wants changes from his inheritance to Daphne.”

Here is an excerpt:

EXCERPT

‘He grinned. “I’m staying.” “Fine.” She stood up. “Help me to my room, then.” Remy smiled as if he’d won a prize. He put his arm around her waist and helped her hobble to her room. When they reached her door, he turned her to face him. “Goodnight.” Without warning, he moved his lips to hers. When he slipped his tongue into her mouth, instead of protesting, she grabbed the back of his head and pressed his mouth harder into hers. Dizziness consumed her. His hands massaged her butt as he pulled her closer into the hardness of him. Mmm. He tasted as good as he smelled.’

 

You can purchase A Guide to Love for only .99 cents here:

Buy Links

Amazon

Amazon UK

 

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I would like to invite:

Susanne Matthews

Deborah O’Neill Cordes

Christine S. Feldman

Jennifer De Cuir

Meredith Daniels

To share their amazing characters with us.

Posted in Book Review, New Books

5* Review: Stable Mates – Zara Stoneley

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Secrets and scandals, love and lust – when the ‘Cheshire Set’ are up against the ‘Footballer’s Wives’ the only common ground is carnal…

Flirting and fun seem the perfect antidote for Lottie’s battered heart, and where better to find them than back in tranquil Tippermere, home of sexy eventer Rory Steel, the smiling Irish eyes of hunky farrier Mick O’Neal, and mysterious newcomer, model Tom Strachan?

But when landowner Marcus James drops dead unexpectedly, and the threat of his waggish wife Amanda selling the heart of the village out from under them looms large, things look like they’re about to heat up in and out of the saddle.

With tensions running high, and the champagne flowing as freely as the adrenalin, is it any wonder that love catches more than one of them unawares?

My Review

Stable Mates‘Stable Mates’ is a fast paced, eloquent slice of English life. The old money and traditions of the Cheshire set meet the new money and celebrity of wags of the soap and sports stars. Horses and dogs are an integral part of the Cheshire set and effortlessly compete with the wags for attention and money. A delightful romp peppered with humour, sadness, scandal and steamy sex.

The villages of Tippermere and Kitterly Heath are polar opposites whose residents both attract and repel the other. The characters are a clever mix of unique and stereotypical. They give the reader an insider point of view which is both amusing and sensitive. The animal characters are also fabulous and will be instantly recognisable to anyone whose life revolves round dogs and horses.

‘Stable Mates’ is an enticing mix of credible and pure fantasy and provides the essential element of all good stories escapism. There is so much scope with these characters and setting that I hope this is the first of many stories.

I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Stable Mates by Zara Stoneley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Stable Mates by Zara Stoneley

Zara Stoneley
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Posted in Book Review, New Books

4* Review: A Place For Us – Harriet Evans

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The day Martha Winter decided to tear apart her family began like any other day.

The house has soft, purple wisteria twining around the door. You step inside.

The hall is cool after the hot summer’s day. The welcome is kind, and always warm.

Yet something makes you suspect life here can’t be as perfect as it seems.

After all, the brightest smile can hide the darkest secret.

But wouldn’t you pay any price to have a glorious place like this?

Welcome to ‘Winterfold’.

Martha Winter’s family is finally coming home.

My Review

A Place For Us  Part 1Although series are very popular, I’m not sure the format is ideal for this story. Women’s fiction serials are not a new concept. They were popular in women’s magazines in the late sixties and seventies. Magazine serials had a week’s gap between instalments. These stories have approximately a month. Many readers will struggle to remember where they are in the story with any clarity especially since it ends before any notable action takes place.

Martha sends her widely scattered family a cryptic invitation to her eightieth birthday party. The multi points of view give the reader important insight into each character’s conflicts and emotions. The disparity between the family’s public persona and the reality of lies and secrets makes interesting reading. Not only do they hide the truth from outsiders they also keep secrets from each other.

The characters are well written; full of flaws, which make them memorable. In most cases the characters have at least one or two redeeming features. The ethos of this story is essentially sad. Most of the characters regret their major life choices and wish they’d chosen differently. Martha wonders if the decision to buy ‘Winterfold’ and all that it entailed was worth the sacrifices.

Slow paced and lacking in action; part 1 introduces the characters, the reason for their reunion and its possible consequences. I am interested to see what happens next.

I received a copy of this book from Headline via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

A Place For Us Part 1 by Harriet Evans

A Place For Us  Part 1 by Harriet Evans

Harriet Evans

Jane Hunt Writer First Steps

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Posted in Blogging Community, Writing Journey

Meet My Character Blog Tour – Zane – Wolf Shifter- The Revenge Masquerade (The Dragon Legacy Series #2)

My wonderful writing pal Shehanne Moore – Smexy Historical Romance invited me to take part in the Meet My Character Blog Tour.

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Courtesy of Shehanne Moore’s Smexy Historical Blog

Last week she introduced the courtesan half of her next novel

‘The Viking and the Courtesan’

Lady Malice.-  You  can read about her here.

 

I’m introducing my latest hero Zane the wolf shifter who many of you may remember from The Dragon Legacy.
Zane and his witch Jasmine made such an impact on me and my readers that I wrote their story as the second book in The Dragon Legacy Series even though neither of them are dragons. 🙂

I enjoyed putting together my Pinterest board for the Revenge Masquerade, particularly searching for visual inspiration for Zane both the man and the wolf.

Zane met Lukas nearly a thousand years ago when the dragon saved him from demons who slayed his family…

‘The angry cries of desperation from his allies, the wolf- shifters, alerted him. He swooped and scorched the demons with his fiery breath. Too late. All the wolf-shifters lay dead, except for Zane. He still fought, covered in blood and gore, with tears of hate and grief on his face. He didn’t notice Lukas at first, fighting for his life with increased desperation as he watched his family die around him. The
attack was so quick; the wolves couldn’t shift in time. Zane killed the last demon as Lukas landed.’

Fire met Ice when Jasmine saw Zane

‘A flash of silver hair caught her attention as Jasmine carried a tray of clean glasses out of the conservatory. Zane, she ignored the unexpected hypnotic pull. She wouldn’t turn round for another man in pursuit of her power.
“Hi, shall I walk you into dinner?” Zane’s deep voice forced her acknowledgement of him, so Jasmine smiled. “Thanks, but,” she indicated her outfit, glad of her watertight excuse, “as you can see I’m the hired help. I’ll be serving at the table rather than sitting at it.” ‘

‘Zane ushered her into the alcove, dominated by a beautiful lemon tree. Her stiff shoulders betrayed her annoyance, but her body relaxed as his warmth enveloped her. A small victory since Jasmine let his alpha behavior pass without comment. “You need to stay away from Xavier. He knows who you are. He wants your power.” Jasmine’s gaze clouded. “I don’t understand. What do you mean, who I am?” He didn’t have time for games. “He knows you’re a witch!” ‘

Zane is a heartbreaker…

 ‘He smiled at the thought of the fiery haired witch saving herself for him. Strong willed, powerful and a future guardian witch, she didn’t need a man to complete her life. Fortunately he was more than a man.”I have to go Jasmine.”
“You’re leaving now?” Shock and disbelief filled her emerald gaze hastily masked. “Oh, I see. You meant to say goodbye and leave before and instead we… This was a mistake then.” She looked away but not quickly enough for him to miss the sheen of tears which marred her sparkling green eyed gaze.’

And a Fighter…

‘Zane launched himself at Xavier
and pinned him against the jagged rock. He threw his head back and plunged in for the kill.’

All excerpts- ©The Dragon Legacy Series  Jane Hunt –  Crimson Frost Books 2013/2014

Follow Zane’s adventures in The Revenge Masquerade out December 2014 from Crimson Frost Books.

 I would like to invite:

Susan Arden

Tracey Rogers

Fiona Chapman

Christy Newton

To share  one of their fabulous characters with us. 🙂

 

 

Posted in The Revenge Masquerade, Writing Journey

Sunday Snippet: The Revenge Masquerade – Jane Hunt

PicMonkey CollageHere’s a snippet from my upcoming release The Revenge Masquerade which is due for release in December 2014. The second book in The Dragon Legacy series, this is Jasmine and Zane’s story set in romantic Venice and the Italian Lakes.

Sunday Snippet

The shrieking noise quieted and the unmistakable creek of the heavy door alerted him of someone’s approach. His hackles rose and then flattened in recognition of the scent; a mixture of flowers and spice unique to Jasmine. He resisted the urge to shift into his human form. As a wolf their encounter would remain platonic. His mind and heart warred over the morality of his desires. He couldn’t stay. His mission necessitated he leave immediately. Was it fair to take Jasmine’s heart and leave her alone with needs mere memories wouldn’t satisfy? The wolf ignored his human conscience. Time was short and the instinctive need to brand the flame-haired witch with his mark too strong. He shifted back into his human form.
Zane leant against the jagged stone wall. His naked body barely registered the rough-hewn rock which imprinted his skin. His abrupt shift into human form didn’t include clothes. The cool night air soothed his fevered body as Jasmine appeared. A faint blush stained her pale skin everywhere his gaze rested.’

©Jane Hunt 2014