Bold and clever, THE CAVANAUGHS are unlike any other family in early Victorian England!
Lord Kit Cavanaugh is all business and a gentleman of means. He has discovered his true path and it doesn’t include the expected society marriage.
Miss Sylvia Buckleberry is a woman of character whose passion is her school for impoverished children. The only way Sylvia can save her school after it is forced out of its building is by working with Kit, but this proves to be a daunting task…
Kit and Sylvia fight for the futures they hold dear. Together they are an unstoppable duo.
I received a eopy of this book from Mills and Boon in return for an honest review.
The decadence of the Regency era lends itself to romance and passion, but the Victorian era is less showy, more introverted, and harder to romanticise. Stephanie Laurens manages to explore the major themes of the Victorian era, invention, innovation, insurrection and poverty, yet still, produce a devastating romantic hero and a passionate romance between Kit and Sylvia.
‘The Pursuits of Lord Kit Cavanaugh’ is the second in ‘The Cavanaugh’s’ series. but reads well as a standalone. The historical details focus on Victorian philanthropy and enterprise. Both championed by Prince Albert and Queen Victoria. If you enjoy the TV series ‘Victoria’, this explores the era and its people with similar vivacity and vivid imagery.
The romance begins gently, the barely acquainted couple meet again and both see a different side to the person they first met. The old adage of ‘not judging a book by its cover’ comes to mind when reading this story. As Kit sees beneath Sylvia’s cold austere mask, and she realises there is more to him than the rakehell, he purports to be.
The plot is varied and complex and has an essential undercurrent of menace, which makes historical romance enthralling. The insight into Victorian society is authentic and engaging and provides a perfect setting for this romantic adventure, so in keeping with the period.
We are introduced briefly to other members of the Cavanaugh family, Rand and Felicia, who feature in book one of the series and Stacia and Godfrey, whose stories are yet to be told. The scandalous and emotionally damaging spectre of Kit’s late mother has made him cautious of women and society. Sylvia’s independent, intelligent outlook on life is refreshing and makes him seek something he never believed he would.
Adventure, romance, and even a Victorian villain this story has a little of everything and is as enthralling and enjoyable for lovers of historical romance and fiction.
A stolen sister. A daughter determined to uncover the truth.
Belle Hatton has embarked upon an exciting new life far from home: a glamorous job as a nightclub singer in 1930s Burma, with a host of sophisticated new friends and admirers. But Belle is haunted by a mystery from the past – a 25-year-old newspaper clipping found in her parents’ belongings after their death, saying that the Hattons were leaving Rangoon after the disappearance of their baby daughter, Elvira.
Belle is desperate to find out what happened to the sister she never knew she had – but when she starts asking questions, she is confronted with unsettling rumours, malicious gossip, and outright threats. Oliver, an attractive, easy-going American journalist, promises to help her, but an anonymous note tells her not to trust those closest to her. . .
Belle survives riots, intruders, and bomb attacks – but nothing will stop her in her mission to uncover the truth. Can she trust her growing feelings for Oliver? Is her sister really dead? And could there be a chance Belle might find her?
I received a copy of this book from Penguin UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Such an evocative read, this story of loss, political unrest and a quest for the truth takes place in Burma during the 1930s, with slips back in time to 1911 and the 1920s.
Belle has left England, for a life as a singer in exotic Rangoon. She’s not the usual type of singer they have, but her talent and independent spirit bring her both admirers and adversaries.
Her mother’s failing mental health blighted her childhood, but after her father’s death, she discovers her parents once lived in Rangoon and had and lost a child there. Can this terrible tragedy explain her mother’s illness and what happened to her missing sister?
Belle’s search for the fate of her missing sister reveals more questions and answers, Oliver an attractive journalist offers to help, but can she trust his motives, or should she rely on the establishment to help her?
The plot is engaging. The perfect pacing adds to the story’s sense of mystery and menace. The political climate is dangerous, and Belle shows her emotional strength as she witnesses unspeakable violence and prejudice.
Full of powerful imagery, both in terms of the geographical and historical setting and the vivid characterisation, this story enthrals the reader. There is a mystery to solve a family tragedy to witness and empathise, and a lovely romance.
A lovely escapist read, which will touch your emotions and inspire your imagination.
Extract from The Missing Sister – Dinah Jefferies
Rangoon, Burma, 1936
Belle straightened her shoulders, flicked back her long red-gold hair and stared, her heart leaping with excitement as the ship began its steady approach to Rangoon harbour. Rangoon. Think of it. The city where dreams were made, still a mysterious outline in the distance but coming into focus as the ship cut through the water. The sky, a shockingly bright blue, seemed huger than a sky ever had business to be, and the sea, almost navy in its depths, reflected a molten surface so shiny she could almost see her face in it. Even the air shimmered as if the sun had formed minute swirling crystals from the moisture rising out of the sea. Small boats dotting the water dipped and rose and she laughed as screeching seabirds swooped and squabbled. Belle didn’t mind the noise, in fact, it added to the feeling that this was something so achingly different. She had long craved the freedom to travel and now she was really doing it.
With buzzing in her ears, she inhaled deeply, as if to suck in every particle of this glorious moment, and for a few minutes, she closed her eyes. When she opened them again she gasped in awe. It wasn’t the bustling harbour with its tall cranes, its freighters laden with teak, its lumbering oil tankers, its steamers and the small fishing boats gathering in the shadow of the larger vessels that had gripped her. Nor was it the impressive white colonial buildings coming into sight. For, rising behind all that, a huge golden edifice appeared to be floating over the city. Yes, floating, as if suspended, as if a section of some inconceivable paradise had descended to earth. Spellbound by the gold glittering against the cobalt sky, Belle couldn’t look away. Could there be anything more captivating? Without a shadow of a doubt, she knew she was going to fall in love with Burma.
The heat, however, was oppressive: not a dry heat but a kind of damp heat that clung to her clothes. Certainly different, but she’d get used to it, and the air that smelt of salt and burning and caught at the back of her throat. She heard her name being called and twisted sideways to see Gloria, the woman she’d met on the deck early in the voyage, now leaning against the rails, wearing a wide-brimmed pink sun hat. Belle began to turn away, but not before Gloria called out again. The woman raised a white-gloved hand and came across.
‘So,’ Gloria’s cut-glass voice rang out, breaking Belle’s
reverie. ‘What do you make of the Shwedagon Pagoda. Impressive, no?’
‘Covered in real gold,’ Gloria said. ‘Funny lot, the
Burmese. The entire place is peppered with shrines and golden pagodas. You
can’t walk without falling over a monk.’
‘I think they must be splendid to create something as
wonderful as this.’
‘As I said, the pagodas are everywhere. Now, my driver is waiting
at the dock. I’ll give you a lift to our wonderful Strand Hotel. It overlooks
Belle glanced at the skin around the other woman’s deeply
set dark eyes and, not for the first time, tried to guess her age. There were a
number of lines, but she had what was generally termed handsome looks. Striking
rather than beautiful, with a strong Roman nose, chiselled cheekbones and sleek
dark hair elegantly coiled at the nape of a long neck . . . but as for her age,
it was anyone’s guess. Probably well over fifty.
Gloria had spoken with the air of someone who owned the city. A woman with a reputation to preserve and a face to match it. Belle wondered what she might look like without the thick mask of expertly applied make-up, carefully drawn brows and film-star lips. Wouldn’t it all melt in the heat?
‘I occasionally stay at the Strand after a late night, in fact, I will be tonight, though naturally, I have my own home in Golden Valley,’ Gloria was saying.
‘Golden Valley?’ Belle couldn’t keep her curiosity from showing.
‘Yes, do you know of it?’
Belle shook her head and, after a moment’s hesitation,
decided not to say anything. It wasn’t as if she knew the place, was it? She simply
wasn’t ready to talk to someone she barely knew. ‘No. Not at all,’ she said. ‘I
simply liked the name.’
Gloria gave her a quizzical look and Belle, even though she had
determined not to, caught herself thinking back. A year had passed since her
father’s death, and it hadn’t gone well. The only work she’d found was in a friend’s
bookshop, but each week she’d pored over the latest copy of The Stage the
moment it arrived. And then, joy of joy, she’d spotted the advertisement for performers
wanted in prestigious hotels in Singapore, Colombo and Rangoon. Her audition
had been in London, where she’d stayed for a gruelling two days and an anxious
wait until she heard.
She stood and took her place in front of the camera… It was now or never”
Bryony Masters has been looking for her long-lost sister, Hannah, for years, but when their father has a stroke her search takes on new urgency. So when primetime game show, What Happens in France, puts a call-out for new contestants, Bryony spots the ultimate public platform to find her reality TV-obsessed sister, and finally reunite their family.
With the help of handsome teammate Lewis, it’s not long before she’s on a private jet heading for the stunning beauty of rural France. With a social media star dog, a high maintenance quiz host and a cast of truly unique characters, Bryony and Lewis have their work cut out for them to stay on the show and in the public eye. Yet as the audience grows and the grand prize beckons they find that the search that brought them together may just fulfil more than one heart’s wish…
I received a copy of this book from Canelo via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Bryony decides entering a game show is the best way to publicise her search for her sister. Hannah left home when she was sixteen, and although Bryony has always sought to reconnect with her, through her blog, when her father becomes ill, the need to reach Hannah is vital.
A chance for romance presents in the form of Lewis, not only cute but a lovely person, who is prepared to help Bryony in her quest to find Hannah. Winning the game show is not the main reason for entering, but it becomes important, leading to many humorous moments, as they battle against the other competitors.
Bryony and Lewis head a great character list, whose true personality traits soon become evident as the competition progresses. Not everyone is likeable, but that adds to the authenticity.
The trip through France and the food make this a sensual delight and the challenges the teams face in the game show, absorbing and realistic.
A character-driven, romantic-comedy full of vivid imagery. The perfect book to escape with for a little while.
Guest Post – Carol Wyer – GAMES PEOPLE PLAY
of this post was actually the working title of my latest book until I had an
epiphany before I submitted it to Canelo and changed it to What Happens in France.
always found coming up with book titles one of the most difficult parts of
writing a book. I remember my debut novel (Mini
Skirts and Laughter Lines) was called A
Twinkle in My Wrinkle until an hour before it was published! Titles are
hugely important and even though I spend hours awake going through what I think
might work, I don’t always get it right and my publisher invariably changes
them to something more appropriate.
Titles aren’t always the only part of the book that causes me mental anguish. In the case of this book, it wasn’t the plot or the characters, it was coming up with ideas for crazy games for a reality television show that would be highly entertaining.
took some doing but I was really pleased with the results. One of easiest to
conjure up was a race up a steep hill in beautiful rural France. This wasn’t
taxing at all because not only have I raced on the circuit at Castle Donnington
but for many years I lived in the Tarn and Garonne region, near a town called
St Antonin Noble Val that hosts such a hill climb every August 15th. It’s an
incredibly popular event, attracting racing drivers and amateurs alike and
about half the population of the region who line the twisted route from the
bottom of the hill in the picturesque medieval bastide town to the summit some
250 metres high.
The course de circuit is 1.5 kilometres long and that may not sound very special or spectacular but believe me, it is. The route runs along the jaw-dropping Aveyron Gorges with phenomenal views to the river where canoeists anchor their kayaks to observe the race, while others jostle for space behind massive hay bales that line the road.
noise is phenomenal – a growling that fills the valleys like a hundred angry
dragons battling for supremacy. Each car ascends, engine at full throttle and
navigates the sharp bends and turns, hurtling towards the finish line, egged on
by eager cries and cheers.
Bryony and Lewis take on a similar challenge in their furry 2CV, I thought back
to the eager faces, the supportive crowd and buzz of excitement that
accompanied the event at St Antonin. No matter if you aren’t a car enthusiast,
you can’t help but be captivated by the setting and the atmosphere, and in no
time at all, you find yourself cheering along with the others.
hope you’ll root for Bryony and Lewis in What
Happens in France, although they’re up against fierce competition and
you’ll find your loyalties tested. Besides, the host of the show isn’t keen for
them to win… why not? You’ll have to read the book to find out!
FROM WHAT HAPPENS IN FRANCE:
‘Come on, Furby!’ Lewis pumped the accelerator pedal. The sunshine streaming in through the windscreen was causing him to squint. At last, the car sputtered into life and they made it onto the starting line.
La Pommeraye was a 2.5-kilometre hill climb and the trio of bizarre cars and film crew had attracted a large crowd of supporters who lined the closed circuit, cheering for each of the contestants as the cars raced by. Lewis and Bryony were the last to attempt the climb.
They waited by the lights, currently on red. It seemed to take an age for them to change.
‘Go… go… go!’ Bryony yelled as they tore up the hill past the spectators who waved at them. ‘Right bend!’ The car bore to the right, past a house outside which stood three children holding a sheet marked Allez Furby.
‘We have fans,’ said Bryony, clinging to the grab handle as they rejoined the main road and hastened past more fields. The circuit was an ordinary D road with some sharp bends and twists, railings to one side and all exits blocked off. It made for an exciting circuit although the furry Citroën was nowhere near as fast as the cars that usually competed in the annual hill climb.
Bryony adjusted her racing helmet. The strap was tight under her chin and she had to shout so Lewis could hear her commands. He could see the bends but it helped if she warned him of them too, given he had enough to manage with handling the vehicle.
There was no time to take in the fields of meadow flowers or the cows lazily grazing or the high banks of grass filled with people. Lewis was committed to finishing the race in the fastest time possible without crashing, and Bryony to holding on for dear life.
A bend to the left, another sharp one to the right and an inflatable bridge across the road bearing the name of the show. Cameras to the left and the right and cheering French people. They crossed the line.
Bryony high-fived Lewis. ‘Great driving.’
‘Bit different to that track day I did but not bad at all,’ he replied.
They climbed out of the car hoping they’d done enough to win the challenge.
As a child, Carol Wyer was always moving and relied on humour to fit in at new schools. A funny short story won her popularity, planting the seed of becoming a writer. Her career spans dry cleaning, running a language teaching company, and boxercise coaching. Now writing full-time, Carol has several books published and journalism in many magazines.
Carol won The People’s Book Prize Award for non-fiction (2015), and can sometimes be found performing her stand-up comedy routine Laugh While You Still Have Teeth.
For a shameless libertine and a wily smuggler in the London Underground, marriage is more than convenience—it’s the strategy . . .
Christopher “Kit” Ellingsworth, war veteran and newly minted Earl of Blakemere, buries his demons under every sort of pleasure and vice. His scandalous ways have all but emptied his coffers . . . until a wealthy mentor leaves him a sizeable fortune. The only stipulation? He must marry within one month to inherit the money. Kit needs a bride and the bold, mysterious Miss Tamsyn Pearce seems perfect.
Husband hunting isn’t Tamsyn’s top priority—she’s in London to sell her new shipment of illicit goods—but she’s desperate for funds. When a handsome earl offers to wed her and send her back to Cornwall with a hefty allowance, Tamsyn agrees.
But when an unexpected proviso in the will grants Tamsyn control of the inheritance, their arrangement becomes anything but convenient. Now, Kit’s counting on his countess to make his wildest dreams a reality and he plans to convince her, one pleasurable seduction at a time…
An enticing medley of Regency London Society and Cornish smugglers provides an exciting setting for this ‘Marriage of Convenience’ historical romance with a strong feminist theme.
Kit, the Earl of Blakemere is a veteran of Waterloo, he is a consummate rake, who has to marry. Tamsyn is forced to earn money in an unorthodox way when her parents die, and her uncle refuses to support the estate’s villagers. She needs a rich husband to buy back the estate.
Kit and Tamsyn meet at a society ball and the physical attraction is strong, but will a ‘Marriage of Convenience’ succeed when they are both keeping secrets and their emotions are starting to mirror their passion for each other?
This is an exciting story, with complex characters and contemporary exploration of historical themes. Kit has lasting effects from his war service, recognised in today’s society as Post Traumatic Stress. Tamsyn is a society lady, with feminist views and actions, not accepted in Regency society.
The attraction is passionate, the story well-paced and varied, the characters multi-layered and believable, with an adrenaline-fueled satisfying ending.
I received a copy of this book from Mills and Boon via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Q&A Eva Leigh #CountingOnACountess #BlogTour #MillsandBoon
What do you find inspirational about Regency England?
I love that there was a mix of different classes, genders, races, and sexualities—particularly in London—and we as readers and authors get to explore the dynamics of shifting borders. The social constructs were more fluid than I believe we realize, and I love playing with that.
Would you have liked to have lived in this era? Why?
Nope! I don’t fancy being considered a man’s property. I’d rather write about hidden pockets of resistance in that world.
How do your stories differ from other Regency romance novels?
Honestly, I don’t like to compare myself or my books to other authors or their works. I like that we each provide different stories, different facets, different characters. My books often consider people who don’t quite conform to societal expectations, and I have a very strong feminist sensibility which plays out in the pages of my work.
Do you draw your characters from real life or are they purely a product of your imagination?
I take inspiration from history and do a substantial amount of research to learn about people such as confidence artists or smugglers. The characters are born from what I learn and my own imagination.
Can you tell us a little about the ‘Scandalous Ladies of London’ series?
Regency London existed beyond the ballrooms and private clubs of the elite. As the television series “Taboo” explores, there were thousands of liminal figures in this world, and I wanted to explore it. In particular, women were a major part of this in-between world, and I thought, Wouldn’t it be fascinating to make my heroines shady? Also, I love an across-the-tracks romance.
What sort of books do you enjoy reading and why?
Naturally, I love romance, so that constitutes a considerable amount of my reading. Historical, contemporary, erotic, and the occasional paranormal. I’m getting into reading more Young Adult fiction because of the breadth of characters, settings, and topics. It’s really amazing to see marginalized voices finally getting heard—though we have a long way to go as far as representation and #ownvoices are concerned.
What are you currently writing?
It’s very exciting because I’m currently working on the first book in a new series inspired by classic American ‘80s movies. The heroes all meet during “detention” at Eton—which, yes, is loosely based on The Breakfast Club! I’m really loving writing the first book in the series because I get to be a little silly, a little funny, and also discuss important topics like gender roles, biases in the sciences, and the need for ecological conservation. The usual Eva Leigh book! 😉
‘It’s not my habit to seduce impoverished widows…’
The Duke of Greyland lost his heart – and a princely sum – to a charming, beautiful and destitute widow who, after one passionate night, vanished without a trace. Cassandra Blair grew up on the city streets, picking pockets to survive. Greyland was a rich mark – to be fleeced and forgotten – only she’d never forgotten him.
Years later, chance brings them together again, in a London gaming hell. Grayland is desperate to have her… never suspecting everything about his lover was a lie. But finding herself in dire financial straits, at risk of losing everything, Cassandra has no choice but to beg the man she betrayed for help.
The proud Duke will assist her under one condition: she doesn’t leave his sight until her debts are paid! But can the real Cassandra – the smart, streetwise survivor – steal his heart all over again?
Book one in ‘The Scandalous Ladies of London’ series.
A different trope from the usual Regency romance, this story has some originality, an anti-heroine character rather than an anti-hero. The story creates an interesting relationship between the Duke and the con- artist, but even though she fools him once, Cassandra ultimately needs his help and position to survive, which detracts from her independence.
The Duke of Greyland lacks the arrogance customarily associated with his rank in Regency romance. He has many appealing traits, not least his passionate nature and support of those less fortunate than he. However, he does lack authenticity.
This story scores highly for sensuality, the connection between the Duke and Cassandra is hot, and the love scene leaves little to the imagination. They explain why the Duke acts as he does and their deepening emotional attachment underlines every kiss.
Overall this is a lovely story, which superficially explores the seedier side of Regency England while delivering a passionate love story.
I received a copy of this book from Mills&Boon via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
I’m pleased to welcome Angel Nicholas to my blog today, on the last stop of her blog tour for ‘Dying for Love’. She shares her thoughts on romance in literature and why the addition of suspense makes it more enjoyable for her both to read and write. As a lover of romantic suspense myself I agree. I’ve read ‘Dying for Love’ and included my review below, its definitely worth a read.
Here’s what Angel has to say…
Romantic suspense is a fascinatingly diverse sub-genre that draws on the heat and infamous Happily Ever After of romance while tangling it mercilessly with the ruthlessness of the seedier and often bloodier side of life. It’s my favorite sub-genre to read, and the one I can’t stop my fingers from typing.
Romance draws a great deal of criticism; within the literary world, from readers and non-readers alike. We’re told that romance is too simplistic, that it leads to unrealistic expectations of romance, of men, and of life in general. It’s a “silly” genre with no literary merit whatsoever. You gain no greater knowledge of the world, its history, its people, or nature. There’s no purpose! All of which makes me roll my eyes. Is there any purpose to the popular action flicks? Is there any purpose to ballet? Is there any purpose to music? Life is hard, and I make no apologies for seeking pleasure and enjoyment in whatever guise I deem worthy.
What these naysayers fail to acknowledge, or perhaps refuse to acknowledge, is that romance novels do have merit. They do, in fact, serve a greater purpose. Study after study has confirmed that romance readers are more empathetic and open-minded than their non-reading counterparts. I would wager they’re also more empathetic than non-fiction readers. A story that engages your heart and emotions stays with your forever. You remember the lessons taught to the hero and heroine in circumstances you may well never endure, yet you’ve grown just the same. A romance reader is far more capable of lending a sympathetic ear and tender shoulder to cry upon, thanks to the hours she’s happily devoted to vicariously living a fictional couples trials. And yes, their ultimate happily ever after.
Let’s talk about the oft condemned “happily ever after.” As I mentioned above, and as you’re more than likely already aware, life is hard. We’re seldom granted a happily ever after. Even when we are, there’s the AFTER to deal with. After falling deliriously in love. After the fairytale wedding. After the lazy, lusty honeymoon. After the much anticipated new baby arrives. After…we return to reality. To demanding bosses, long work hours, exhausting commutes, burned spaghetti, dirty toilets, piles of laundry, and endless responsibilities. Books are a pleasurable—there’s that dirty word again—escape from those responsibilities. Based on how many memes are floating around social media bemoaning “adulting,” a welcome escape.
Suspense is a little trickier to explain. Romance is marvelous to read, and even more so to experience in real life. But—you knew one was coming, right?—it sometimes strikes me as too much. Too mushy and sweet and lovey dovey and just gag me with a spoon already. Suspense gives the story an edge. It makes me sit up a little straighter and turn the pages a little faster. I devour a well-written romantic suspense in a way that rarely occurs with straight romance. I’m not sure what this says about me, but I especially love writing the dark side of romantic suspense. I have a stack of books devoted to the psychopathy of serial killers and the deeply emotionally disturbed. I want to know what makes them tick, so I can create a three-dimensional villain as striking in his, or her, own way as the hero and heroine. A well-written villain is a thing of rare beauty. I particularly like a villain that you almost hate to see finally meet his well-deserved end.
I suppose part of the appeal is my need to torture the hero and heroine as much as possible before giving them their well-deserved happily ever after. I want them to earn it! When you read a scene in Dying for Love that has you gasping and wide-eyed, a little shocked and maybe even tearful, feel free to picture me hunched over the keyboard, cackling madly and pausing ever so often to rub my hands together in gleeful joy over the havoc I’m wreaking. It’s a fair depiction, after all.
Death is preferable to what awaits in her forgotten past…
Coffee is the only thing standing between Grace Debry and a straight-jacket since she gave up swearing in honor of her foster mom. A rash of break-ins make her wonder if caffeine is enough. Especially when the notes left behind make it personal. Her brand-spanking new life is more nightmare than dream-come-true.
All Matthew Duncan has wanted since hiring Grace is to have her in his passenger seat, his arms, and his bed. As they grow closer, the feisty brunette proves to be a handful—one Matt is happy to hold. He’s determined to give her the happily ever after she stopped believing in years ago. Unfortunately for Grace, it will take more than Matt’s considerable resolve to keep her safe.
Three’s a crowd—not that he cares. Every move she makes, every breath she takes … he’s watching. Waiting to reclaim what he lost.
The beginning of this story is so sad. The woman’s despair is tangible and the vivid description sets the scene perfectly, for what is to come. I re-read this chapter after I’d finished the book and its impact was even greater. The story restarts, twenty five years after the opening scene and focuses on Grace a clever, resourceful woman with a self-depreciating sense of humour. A series of unexplained incidents unnerve her and threaten to spoil her new life. Passionately drawn to his clever employee, Matt fears the implications both of sexual harassment and the fear of rejection. He denies his desires, until a personal tragedy warns him life is short; so he risks all to get to know Grace on a much closer and personal level. New characters, cleverly introduced ramp up the well written suspense. The reader glimpses pieces of the puzzle with tantalising slowness. The antagonist is menacing, a shadowy figure that threatens everything Grace holds dear. Grace and Matt’s passionate relationship is sizzling and balances the story’s dark suspense beautifully. The combination of the romance and suspense makes this an all night reader, with an unexpected twist at the end and the promise of a happy ever after. Perfect. I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Angel Nicholas spent her childhood writing angst-ridden poetry and hiding behind romance novels. Now the mother of four children and one beautiful grandchild, fiction is still her refuge. Excessive caffeine fuels her typing. The splendors of Idaho inspire her muse. When she’s not torturing her characters, Angel can be found in the nearest coffee shop or shoe store.
I am interviewing Iris Blobel today, as part of the ‘Echoes of the Past’ blog tour.
How long have you been writing Iris?
I released my first book in 2009 after lots of edits and proofreads … I’d say it’s only been about eight years.
Why do you enjoy writing?
I think I’ve always been a day dreamer, but because I love numbers and English is my second language, I never really considered myself as a writer. But a few boring nights and I put some words onto paper… and I really enjoyed that more than knitting, painting, or exercising. The “voices” in my head haven’t stopped talking to me since.
Do you write at specific times of the day or just when you can?
With a family, work, and a once-a-week radio program, I write when I can. Sometimes too much, often not enough. I try to keep a good balance not to neglect my family, but to look after myself as well.
‘Echoes of the Past’ isn’t your first book is it? What are your other books about?
My books are all over the place, but all romance stories. I’ve got a book that was fun to write because it was set in Australia and Ireland, but gave me grey hair trying to get the correct chronological order. “Innocent Tears” is about a man who’s become a father of a little six-year-old girl literally overnight – I loved it. Then there’s my Beginnings series, which is set in one of the most beautiful places here in Australia: Tasmania, but it also has a book, which is based on our travels to the US a few years ago. My Sports series was fun to write because I finally had some really sexy guys in my story – with attitude and such! So they’re all different, but ALL of them include the main theme of family and friendship.
Do you have a special place where you like to write?
I’ve got my very messy corner in the lounge room. My little girl gave me a little chest of drawers to get organised, but … *sigh* … as over-tidy as I am with most of the things in life, that corner will always be messy I suppose …. LOL
Is your writing process well defined or haphazard? Can you describe it?
I usually come up with a story outline when I’m on holidays, but I am part of a group called “Tuesday Tales” where we write to a different prompt each week, I’d say my writing process is more haphazard… chaotic and not streamlined… a mess to clean up when it comes to revisions.
‘Echoes of the Past’ is a reunion romance, can you tell us a little about it?
It’s more than simply a reunion romance, it’s about Connor who’s coming back to Australia after living in London for over twenty years. And for some reason he’s not able to remember his childhood in Fermosa Bay – he can’t remember his friends, including Emily, the girl he kissed when he was seven, most importantly, he cannot remember anything about his biological father. It’s a journey of discovering his childhood, of understanding and accepting the question “what could’ve been if”, and the re-connecting with old friends.
The setting of your book is particularly appealing, how important is the setting when you write your story? Does the setting ever inspire the story?
Very important. If the setting’s not right for me, the story doesn’t flow. That’s why I usually set a story in places I’ve been to or I love. The beach, for example, or Tasmania. “Fresh Beginnings” is set in the US and it was so much fun going through my travel diary to get the ideas. I’ve just started another story, which is set in New Zealand, a place we visited last year. Can’t wait for the story to progress.
Apart from writing, do have any other things you love to do, or dedicate time to?
My family! I do a German radio program every week … initially it was very challenging to do it, but now I love it. It’s a big thrill for me!
What writing plans do you have for 2016?
February and March are busy with new releases and all the promo work that comes with it … I’m hoping that once the promo side of things have settled a bit to finish my New Zealand book and Fermosa Bay #3.
I’ll look forward to reading those Iris, thank you for talking to us.
Here’s a more about ‘Echoes of the Past’ The first book in the Fermosa Bay series and a link to my review.
ECHOES OF THE PAST by Iris Blobel Series: Fermosa Bay Book #1 Publisher: Limitless Publishing Release Date: February 16, 2016 Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Emily Bradshaw waited over twenty years to see Connor again…
When her childhood friend, Connor Walsh, returns home to see his ailing father, Emily is elated to be reunited with the handsome man who moved to London so many years ago. But excitement fades to disappointment when he doesn’t remember her—or their first kiss. With her crush on Connor still in full swing, she’s determined to enjoy the short time he’s in Fermosa Bay, even though she knows her heart will break when he returns to his life in London.
When Connor receives news that his biological father is terminally ill, he returns to Fermosa Bay, Australia.
With memories of his childhood tucked fondly in the back of his mind, returning to the small, coastal town leaves him to wonder how life would have been if his mother had never taken him away. Would he have been married and had children? Perhaps with Emily Bradshaw…
Secrets from long ago begin to unfold…
As Connor and his father grow closer, Connor learns his parents have a broken love story of their own. Will the echoes of the past lure him into staying, maybe for good? Or will he relive his parents’ tragic story and flee to London?
‘Connor leaned against the window frame with his arms crossed as he watched the waves crashing against the rocks. In front of him, as wide as the horizon, was the ocean. With the clouds drifting in from the sea, the sky had turned grey and dark, and he knew there’d be even more rain coming later in the day.
He would’ve enjoyed the scene if it hadn’t reminded him of his changing life. He’d been back in Fermosa Bay for two days already, but the memories of the first seven years of his life he’d spent in this small Australian coastal town were tucked away in the back of his mind. Seemingly inaccessible. Nowadays, his life was in London and had been for the last twenty-three years. He took a couple of deep breaths as he looked towards the harbour in the distance, and the small town in the alcove with the hilly forest in the background where he’d spend the first seven years of his life. It was truly one very picturesque little place.
A noise from the other end of the house hauled him back from his thoughts, and he stepped away from the window. Over the last few weeks, since he’d decided to accept Jack’s invitation to Australia, he’d had visions of what he’d find here. His mother hadn’t told him much about the time she’d lived here, except about Jack owning a pub. Connor had been furious for her lack of memory, but in the end admitted to himself it’d probably not been a time she’d like to remember.
So he was surprised to find out that Jack lived in this massive house just outside Fermosa Bay, on the top of the cliffs, with a view over the ocean. The house had five rooms and a small study at the back. The lounge room, with a high pitched ceiling, had wood fire heating and a big window front. Connor had loved the house the instant he’d stepped into it.
When he entered the hall, he saw his father and said, “Good morning, Jack.”
The old man sighed sadly. “You still can’t bring it over your heart to call me Dad?”
Connor’s gaze wandered from his father to all the many framed photos along the wall. Jack was in many of the photos, but most them had people in them he didn’t know, except the biggest one, which showed Connor as a child in Jack’s arms. A wave of sadness shook him. No, it wasn’t in him to call him Dad. Or to even think of him as his dad.
After a moment’s silence, he turned to his father and shook his head. “Sorry.”
Jack coughed, and Connor quickly rushed to his side, holding him upright.
“Another bad day?” Connor asked.
“Son, there will be no more good days. One day is like the other, until it will be the last.”
The words struck Connor deep enough to feel some emotions for his father. He knew time was running out, but hearing it made it sound final.
“There’s a front coming, but I think you’d be able to sit outside for a little while. At least until the nurse comes.”
Jack simply nodded.
Connor helped his father out onto the deck where the old man sat down on his swing seat.
Without a reply, Connor stepped away and watched the sea again.
“I couldn’t keep you away from the water when you were a child,” Jack said.
“What do you mean?” Connor asked.
Jack didn’t answer, so he turned around to look at his father. The old man stared into the distance, a withdrawn expression on his face.
“You were constantly in the water. Whatever opportunity you had, you grabbed your little board and spent most of the day there.”
“So what happened?”
His father shrugged. “You left with your mother.”
Sitting down on the chair next to Jack, Connor let out a long breath. “Something must’ve happened. I never go near water, let alone go in it.”
Still gazing into the distance, Jack said, “I still have the blue board. Ethan’s little son sometimes uses it nowadays.”
Not sure where the conversation was heading, Connor just went along. “Who’s Ethan?” he asked.
The reaction from his father wasn’t what he expected. With his shoulders sagged, Jack closed his eyes. He looked so old and frail. From what Connor saw in all the photos around the house, cancer had taken a lot of life out of his father, leaving behind a haggard body with no energy left. Initially, he’d been taken aback by their similarities in looks, with their dark brown eyes and dark blond hair, including the stubborn curl above the ears, but after all, Jack was his father.
“Ethan was your best friend when you lived here.”
Pain shot through Connor as he was again confronted with a piece of information about his past that he knew nothing about. What had happened all those years ago, that his memory blocked these recollections of his childhood?
“How is your mother?” Jack asked suddenly.
Was it a sign of his illness that the old man wasn’t able to hold on to one topic anymore, or was he out to annoy Connor?
“She’s doing well.”
Jack nodded. “She was beautiful when she lived here. So beautiful.”
Leaning forward to rest his arms on his knees, Connor asked, “Why did you ask her to leave?”
Finally, their eyes locked, and his father’s confusion took Connor aback.
“Son, what are you talking about?”’
Iris Blobel was born and raised in Germany and only immigrated to Australia in the late 1990s. Having had the travel bug most of her life, Iris spent quite some time living in Scotland, London as well as Canada where she met her husband. Her love for putting her stories onto paper has only emerged recently, but now her laptop is a constant companion.
Iris resides west of Melbourne with her husband and her two beautiful daughters.
Next to her job at a private school, she also presents a German Program at the local Community Radio.
In the quaint, seaside town of Silenshore a legacy of secrets is about to be revealed…
Growing up in the imposing Castle du Rêve during 1940s wartime, young Evelyn longs for a life outside the castle walls. She dreams of attending glamorous parties, gracing the silver screen and being swept off her feet by a dashing, debonair beau. But innocent Evelyn is unaware that her bid for freedom from the oppressive castle will change the course of more than just her life…
In the early Sixties, sweet, intelligent Victoria meets the man of her dreams! Yet the expression of their love comes with consequences. In the shadow of the mysterious castle, is their relationship doomed from the start?
In the present day, Isobel has just learned she’s pregnant. An unexpected challenge she can only hope she’s up to. Except living in the father of her child’s family home, beneath the eyes of the castle, all is not as it seems… Soon secrets that have been hidden for decades threaten to change the lives of Isobel’s new family irrevocably.
Three women’s lives tangled together in a web of secrets, scandal and deceit, as the legacy of Castle du Rêve is finally discovered…
A few years ago, when I was starting to think about ideas for The Secrets of Castle du Reve, I came across an article on homes for unmarried mothers. I’d heard about the homes before that, but reading about individual women who’d been forced to go away to have their babies in secret, sometimes not even telling their families because of the scandal that it would cause, really touched me. Soon after I read the article, I saw an episode of Long Lost Family that outlined the case of a woman who had been sent to a mother and baby home in the 1960s when she was seventeen. I couldn’t stop thinking about it, and about how different life is now.
Motherhood was particularly significant to me at that point because my first daughter was about two years old then and I was feeling stunned by how powerful and intense it all was. I already knew that motherhood would be an important part of my book. The idea of having to hide a pregnancy, and the different ways relationships have been seen throughout the last hundred years or so added a whole new dimension to my plot. It took ages to decide on how to include something about mother and baby homes. I wrote so many different scenes, and even had some poor characters that didn’t make it into the first draft.
I didn’t know much at all about the homes before I started writing the book, so I read a lot of accounts of women who’d been forced to go away to have their babies, and I stared quite endlessly at pictures of the places they’d stayed in, imagining what it must have been like for them. I read about the types of lives the women had before they’d become pregnant, and the stark contrast of their times in the homes. Once I’d done my research, I enjoyed placing Isobel in 2010 alongside Victoria in the 1960s. Both women fall in love quite quickly and have such different experiences, mainly because of how much things have changed for women in a relatively short amount of time.
The clichéd writing advice that people always seem to share is: write about what you know. But I like writing about things that I don’t know. I love learning about times that have passed and bringing them back to life. For me, that’s what curling up with a book is all about.
Thanks for revealing some of the secrets behind your story Hannah. I certainly agree that its much more fun to write about things that are new to you because the research is such an important part of the writing process. I am currently reading this intriguing story and I’ll be reviewing it here later this week.
I have written stories for as long as I can remember. I love writing about how fragile the present is and how so much of it depends on chance events that took place years ago. I studied English at the University of Chester, and I know work in a College where I mentor degree students. The most important things in my life are my family, my friends, books, baking on a Saturday afternoon, getting glammed up to go out for champagne and dinner and having cosy weekends away. I live in Blackpool with my husband and our two little girls
This weekend the paperback version of The Dangerous Gift went live on Amazon. This was a noteworthy moment for me. This is my third published book, but it’s the first available as a paperback and that feels like a step forward.
I still think there is a misconception that an author is not properly published until they can hold a copy of their book in their hand. Is this how other authors feel? It seems out of sync in this technological age. Where almost everything can be done in a virtual setting.
I hardly ever read paperbacks or hardback books now, for me its far more convenient to use my Kindle, which I can even read with the lights out, because it’s back-lit. 🙂 I do most of my reading at night and I often have insomniac tendencies, so an electronic reading device is perfect for me.
I was sent a paperback from a publisher just before Christmas for review and although it was great to look at the cover in colour, (not possible on my type of Kindle), I couldn’t honestly see any other reading benefits and now I’ve read it, I have to make space for it on my oversubscribed book shelves.
So for me eBooks are preferable to paperbacks both in terms of usability and storage. Yet the myth lingers that I am a ‘proper’ author now I have a paperback version of my book. What do other author’s think?
Comment below or chat with me on Twitter at @jolliffe03 #authorchat.
My eBook version of The Dangerous Gift releases tomorrow 9 February , so I’ll leave you with my short and simple book trailer …
Today I have Rebecca Barber on my blog. She has just released -‘Nobody’s Obligation’,the second in the Swimming Upstream series, with Limitless Publishing. I will post my review of this book, later this week, now to meet the author behind the story.
Welcome Rebecca. What made you become a writer? I don’t know if I ‘became’ a writer because it was something that I’ve always done. Now that it has become public and real, more people are aware and the stories of when I was a young girl have emerged revelling that I was always writing short stories even if the only person who read them was my mum! I think the main reason I write is to let everything out that builds up inside of me. It’s my release. When life gets too much, too stressful, too overwhelming writing just makes it better. What inspired you to write the ‘Swimming Upstream’ series? A boy. He was my childhood celebrity crush and for years he was the love of my life (even my husband is aware of this). The dream that he could live a normal life out of the spot light and be happy inspired the Swimming Upstream series (and even better if he could be happy with me ☺) Can you tell us a little about your latest release-‘Nobody’s Obligation’? Nobody’s Obligation is the story of Ava Jacobs and Tyler Andrews. Coming from completely different worlds, they are both thrown off their axis when their worlds collide. But life isn’t playing fair and keeps throwing them together unexpectedly forcing them to confront the elephant in the room – their growing attraction for each other. What’s the hardest part of writing a book, for you? Why is this? The hardest part of the Swimming Upstream series is putting myself out there. I didn’t realise when I was writing them just how much of myself slipped in but seeing them out there now scares me to death. The idea that someone will judge me and make assumptions based on this is terrifying. What’s your favourite part of being a writer? Why do you enjoy this? Escaping reality. By day I’m an accountant. The world is black and white and the answer is either right or it’s wrong. But with my writing I can invite into my world not only shades of grey but also every colour of the rainbow. I can be whatever I want to be and wherever I want to be. The escapism is intoxicating. Where do you create and write your stories? Anywhere and everywhere. When I need uninterrupted time and I can find it, I go sit in the park or on the beach and type until the battery dies. Otherwise it’s in my purpose built office (thank you husband!) I’m one of those tortured souls who suffers from writers block right up until that moment when I climb into bed and switch off the light then the ideas come thick and fast. Do you still find time to read? What type of books do you relax with? Reading is my other great escape. I average finishing two books a week (sometimes more – this week I’ve already read four!) I read everything and anything. From crime to mystery to a heartfelt tear jerker. I read biographies and anything else that looks interesting. I’ll even admit to having read both the Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey series ☺ Christmas is almost here. Do you love or hate this time of year? Both. I love the romanticism of Christmas – the food, the decorations, spending time with family. But I hate that it has become such a production that you spend almost all of December so stressed out about having a gift for everyone and not just a gift, the right gift. Trying to fit everything in all in one month detracts from the fun and enjoyment you can have. What have you got planned for 2016? No plans as yet (and I know I’m running out of time). I know I want (and need desperately) a holiday so whether that is travelling with my husband or sitting on a secluded beach writing I’m not 100% sure at this stage.
Ava Jacobs is a shy accountant by day, aspiring romance writer by night—and her first novel just got published…
Romance isn’t a big component of Ava’s life. That is, her real life. As the monotonous nature of crunching numbers and drawn-out board meetings slowly eats away at her, the only bright side to her otherwise mundane routine lies on the black and white pages of her debut romance novel. Her inspiration? A long-time infatuation—Tyler Andrews.
Until the Olympic swimmer read her novel and connected the dots…
Tyler Andrews is used to being the center of attention. But when his sister throws a romance novel in his lap, he’s surprised to be the inspiration for the hot, hunky hero. He has no idea who Ava Jacobs is, but he’s not at all happy with her using his likeness to spice up her steamy scenes. When he finally tracks her down, it’s her likeness that intrigues him.
It takes just one romantic dance at a company banquet to spark disaster…
When Tyler’s manager arranges a daring publicity stunt and offers him as an auction item at Ava’s fundraising banquet, the bids come in quick and hot. Little did Ava expect the winner, a work colleague, to donate Tyler as Ava’s date. With all eyes on the Olympic athlete, Ava can’t refuse a romantic dance. But even though Tyler was the inspiration for Ava’s steamy novel, she refuses to accept his attention if it’s not real.
Will Tyler lose the one woman who caught his interest? Or will Ava push him away in an effort to prove she’s…
After a half hearted attempted apology, Tyler no longer feels any animosity towards an obviously nervous Ava. Happy with the outcome he heads home and back to his life. But barely minutes down the road he realizes that there is something about this girl that he can’t quite understand. Something he needs to. Turning the car around he returns to find out more. Scheming with Ava’s boss, Matthew wasn’t hard and soon enough he’d whisked her away to a lunch at a winery on the edge of town. Working on the Principal that once he had the chance to get to know her the attraction would fade, Tyler pulls out all stops.But the attraction doesn’t fade.When they coincidentally end up seated beside each other on the flight to Los Angeles, where a disgruntled Tyler is being “pimped” out by his management team to spend time on cross promotion with the American team and the darling of their sport. But when they fall asleep wrapped around each other, a fellow passenger leaks the photos to the media and by the time they land at LAX the vultures are waiting. Attempting to shield Ava, Tyler goes defensive and is gob smacked when Ava gallantly steps forward and puts the press back where they belong, before boarding her connecting flight to New York for a well earned holiday. With his mind caught on the feisty brunette, Tyler’s time in Los Angeles is a nightmare and he is in a hurry to return home.Unit he gets there.Arriving at his gated home he finds the Australian media camped out on his doorstep desperate to find out what is going on. Refusing to answer, Tyler bunkers down and his sister Katie arrives to dig a little further and uncover what is going on in her brother’s head.Ava has the time of her life travelling and falls instantly and irrevocably in love with New York City. After a long, exhausting flight Ava climbs on the bus to take her the rest of the way home. Despite the chaos and excitement that New York provides, Tyler Andrews was never far from her mind. And as Ava sat on the bus, her head resting against the window there he was. Standing on the footpath at the airport. Desperate for him not to see her, Ava turns away from the window and burrows her head.By the time Ava returns to her life, everyone is asking what’s going on. They saw Tyler in the office, they know about the lunch and now they’ve seen the photos of them together on the flight. Denial after denial Ava’s completely over hearing about Tyler Andrews but her best friend and current receptionist, Amanda, won’t let her forget about it. But life was never that kind to her. Instead, while she’d been enjoying her well deserved break she’d been nominated to organize the company gala ball.Focusing all her attention on what everyone just assumed would be the best ball ever held, Ava threw herself headfirst into organizing and before she knew it the night was here. Everything was going as planned until her boss, Christopher, introduced the special guest auction item. A date with none other than Tyler Andrews. It took all of Ava’s strength not to throw up. Standing beside Tyler, Ava didn’t think it could get worse. But she was wrong.Jake, a colleague and a friend joined the bidding and soon won the auction but when he laughed and announced that he didn’t want the date for himself, but would be donating it to Ava, her heart sunk and Ava faltered. When Tyler wrapped his arms around Ava and pulled her onto the dance floor she lost all conscious objection and fear of people looking at her and simply enjoyed the moment. Until Tyler opened his mouth. When Ava politely informed him that he didn’t need to take her out on a pity date, Tyler declared that he always stuck to his obligations. Disgusted at herself, Ava storms off leaving Tyler standing alone in the centre of the dance floor.Ava wouldn’t return his calls and Tyler was becoming increasingly frustrated. He had to make this date happen but he didn’t know what to do so he went to his friend and co-conspirator Jake for advice and with Jake on his side Ava didn’t have a choice. After a simple, sweet date and everything that Ava could have asked for, dinner and movie at Tyler’s place they innocently fell asleep on the lounge. But the next morning Ava freaked out. Again. Amanda tried to get Ava back under control and calm but it wouldn’t work. She refused to talk about him or to him and Ava had managed to convince herself that everything that had happened was wrong and the only reason that Tyler was paying any attention to her at all was out of pity. Amanda reminded Ava that they had tickets to his upcoming meet and for the first time Ava was thankful for such crappy seats. But when they got there the seats weren’t so crappy. Unbeknownst to Ava the scheming had been happening behind her back and she now sat front row. But before the racing could even start she was summoned to the rooms below where she was reunited with Tyler. After a brief meeting and declarations and apologies all was resolved and they were on the same page. They were officially together. Tyler goes out to races and wins. Ava climbs back into the stands and cheers on her man.