Beautiful Corfe. Have you been?

Corfe Castle is as its name suggests; a castle nestled high on the hill in the village it dominates and lends its title to. As a child, on our way to Studland Bay, I’d gaze wistfully at its majestic beauty, my forehead pressed up against the window as I dreamed of lords and ladies and princesses of yesteryear, always dreaming of visiting one day with my own gallant knight. Corfe Castle had me entranced, and I knew my first experience within the castle grounds had to be with someone special. Not just anyone, but the man I was going to marry. Continue reading

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Book Review: Blood Dark by Lindsay J. Pryor

Blood Dark (Blackthorn, #5)Blood Dark by Lindsay J. Pryor

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Every time I read a new instalment in the Blackthorn series, it’s touch and go whether they will top my favourite (which happens to be Blood Roses – the second book in the series of eight). I love all of the Blackthorn books that I’ve read so far – they never cease to keep you on the page, turning the leaves long after you should have put the book down and go to sleep… or feed the kids… or the cats… or do the weekly food shop (you know, the boring-but-necessary stuff). But it’s always been Blood Roses for me. The ultimate will-they-won’t-they love affair, the kind of love that’s impossible to survive against the odds, and leaves you hanging like an unspent intake of breath. If there was ever a contest for the best in the series, for me, it’s Blood Roses. Hands down. The emotional turmoil and suspense in THAT book tops them all.

Until now.

Blood Dark is the fifth instalment of the Blackthorn series, and brings us back to Kane and Caitlin, who we saw in the first book of the series. The pair have an undeniable chemistry, which we were privy to in Blood Shadows. As a VCU (Vampire Control Unit) agent, Caitlin Parish is the most unlikely candidate for a relationship with Kane Malloy – the most wanted vampire by the head of the Global Council. And her decision to return to work after the dangers they faced and battled together is driving a wedge between them. Kane has his own demons to deal with – literally – and the ultimate struggle for this hero/heroine is that they still can’t seem to trust each other, especially as they both seem to be on different sides. It’s not just a battle of vampires vs. humans in this series, or indeed this story, as Lindsay J. Pryor introduces us to more of the intricately described – and terrifying – fourth species (monsters to any Blackthorn virgins). As a master vampire, it’s Kane’s job to keep Blackthorn safe, but his relationship with Caitlin is complicating matters. He’s got an important job to do, and being with Caitlin is not only putting her life in danger, but also the future of Blackthorn. The whole book is a rollercoaster of emotional tension, but it was the twist at the end that got me. I’ve since read Blood Instinct – book number six – but Blood Dark is still very much at the forefront of my mind. Kane Malloy is a classic alpha male hero – you know he’s bad, he can be really bad – but this book gives us what many Kane fans will already have guessed; that underneath it all is a tortured bad boy who really just wants to love and be loved in return. It’s got it all – the suspense, the horror, the heat, the ‘ahhh’ moments, and best of all, the ‘oh my god I can’t believe the author has just done that to me!’ moment.

I LOVED it. I frowned. I gasped. I cried. I had my hand clamped over my mouth on a plane from Inverness to London. Then it ended. I closed the book, and then I mourned for a brief period. You know – that book hangover period.

And then I downloaded the next one.

If you haven’t tried Blackthorn yet, isn’t it about time you did?

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The following text is from the book description on Amazon.co.uk. See below for buy link:

‘There are guardian angels, and there are monsters with wings’

Caitlin Parish should have been the last person to fall for a vampire. A member of the Vampire Control Unit, her relationship with master vampire Kane Malloy had explosive consequences. Caitlin’s colleagues count her as the enemy. And now she’s going back.

Kane has made powerful enemies of his own – and is being targeted by the head of the Global Council, Sirius Throme. With the stakes higher than ever before, Kane knows caring for Caitlin makes him vulnerable. Worse, her decision to return to VCU feels like betrayal.

With Throme threatening to tear Blackthorn apart, and the prophesied vampire leader finally revealed, Kane and Caitlin must both fight with everything they have to stop an all out war. But they’re fighting on opposite sides…

Right when she needs him most, Caitlin makes a shocking discovery about Kane. Has he been playing her all along? And can she trust him with her life when he won’t even trust her with the truth?

The choice Caitlin makes will change the game in Blackthorn forever.

Download Blood Dark from Amazon here.

If you’re a Blackthorn virgin, click here to begin your journey into the world of Blackthorn with Blood Shadows.

Book Review: Confessions of a Chalet Girl by Lorraine Wilson

Confessions of a Chalet Girl (Ski Season, #1)Confessions of a Chalet Girl by Lorraine Wilson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Holly is out of her comfort zone when she takes a job as a chalet girl to escape her demons, but she quickly becomes involved with her super sexy boss, Scott. However, he has a secret of his own, one which could send her on the next plane home.

I read this gloriously sweet, decadent novella in one evening, a lovely mix of heat, spice and conflict and a nice big dollop of Love.

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Book review: Blood Torn by Lindsay J. Pryor

Blood Torn (Blackthorn, #3)Blood Torn by Lindsay J. Pryor
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I make no secret of the fact I am a big fan of Ms. Pryor’s world of Blackthorn. The first book in the series, Blood Shadows, was a whirlwind, gripping story about fierce, feisty agent Caitlin Parish – from the Third Species Control Division – intent on bringing down the notorious master vampire, Kane Malloy. This story almost prevented me from preparing the kids’ dinner a few nights in a row.

Then came the second book, Blood Roses, and the incredibly dark vampire, Caleb Dehain, who I absolutely loved. I think I loved Blood Roses, with Caleb and Leila – a serryn born to destroy him – more than I loved Blood Shadows (although I’d never have guessed it at the time).

Ms. Pryor creates strong, but seriously flawed heroines, on a mission to take down the enemy they’re destined to fall in love with, but not without consequence.
She likes to put some serious obstacles in the way of these couples, leaving you wondering how on earth they’re going to come through it unscathed.

I got my ‘claws’ into Blood Torn by downloading it as soon as it was released, and spent an entire evening into the early hours reading the first half. I’d have pulled an all-nighter if I could, because the threads Ms. Pryor kept spinning kept me turning, page after page after page with questions, desperate to know what happened next.

The first two books follow the story of two of the key players – the two most powerful vampires – in Blackthorn.

Blood Torn, on the other hand, is all about sexy Lycan leader Jask Tao, and Phia McKay; the sharp, impulsive younger sister of Leila from Blood Roses, and she’s intent on bringing down ALL of the Third Species leaders. What she doesn’t count on, though, is Jask being a force to be reckoned with, someone who challenges her very being, her reason for existing and all of her values. He breaks her down, gets under her skin, and gets into her head and she’s powerless to stop him, although she certainly gives it her best shot. As with all of Ms. Pryor’s books, we are left with a Happy For Now, but there are some mammoth challenges left in the way, all leading up to what I expect will be a massive show-down – yet to be revealed. Once I’d experienced all the action and conflict (and not to mention steamy scenes) unfold between Jask and Phia, a feeling of deep unease crept over me at the prospect of the next book. Because while we have a Happy For Now, Ms. Pryor has laid the path for an even darker journey into the next book, a taster of which is provided at the end of Blood Torn. I read the first chapter horrified, then gasped as it came to an abrupt end. Because, although disturbingly dark, I was so embroiled in the lives of the characters of Blood Torn, so wrapped up in their world, that when I got to the next part of the story, I simply wasn’t ready to leave Blackthorn. Alas, I shall just have to wait until Blood Deep is released. Or read all three books again.

Once again, a fabulous instalment from Ms. Pryor. Absolutely spectacular.

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Book number three in the making

For those of you who read the opening chapters of The Gateway many months ago, you’ll be interested to hear that they’ve changed a great deal since Emmeline’s story first emerged in my head. I can’t share any of it with you currently, as I have sent it for consideration to a publisher and am awaiting their response: yay or nay. I pitched the story to them last week, and was over the moon to pique their interest and be invited to submit the entire manuscript. Even if the only response I get is thank you but no thank you, that’s good enough for me, as I’ve taken the first step in getting it “out there”. 

More excitingly, as many authors find, one or two secondary characters have gradually taken on a life and journey of their own, and I’ve found myself over the past few weeks curling ideas around in my head, tasting scenarios and wondering how I could share their story. Then, yesterday, I found myself penning character traits and backgrounds, and before I knew it, a sequel had unfolded before me. I’ve just spent half an hour typing it up, and will probably spend next week doing research into the mid 1930s (that’s all I’m saying for now). 

I didn’t want to class Time For Love (formerly The Gateway, and a lot different to the original version) as a time-travel romance, but as genres would have it, it would seem that’s the category it falls into. According to Goodreads, a time-travel romance is: A novel that features time-travel or a dual-time story-line with a romance theme. This pretty much sums up Time For Love, as it’s not strictly time-travel, but is set in two different time-zones. The sequel will also follow this theme and I’m already really excited about it. I’m also nervous of the level of research required, as although it’s fiction, some aspects can’t be made-up. How I ended up weaving history into my writing is beyond me, but I really enjoy it.

On a separate note, I haven’t forgotten about my second novel, so painstakingly crafted during NaNoWriMo 2013. It’s completely unrelated to the time-travel romance books, which seem to be developing themselves in my mind. In fact, novel number two – a contemporary romance – has been printed and is patiently awaiting a redraft.

So, while I’ve been quiet, rest assured that I am squirreling away behind the scenes, and seem to have found a new addiction. I just wish I could spend all day dreaming up stories, characters and plot-lines, but real life must go on and I have some potatoes waiting to go in the oven for our Sunday roast. 

Thanks for reading, I’m off to finish making dinner, while my mind wanders to a time long ago. 🙂 

Another NaNo win, another novel

ImageLast Friday, 29th November, I was delighted to cross the National Novel Writing Month finish-line at 10:50pm – on a Friday – when most other people my age were down the pub, or spending time with their families and partners.

Our kitchen was being decorated over the weekend, and I needed to keep little Miss Chapman out of the way in order for the painting to be completed, so I took the mischievous little munchkin away for a couple of days. As such, Saturday was not available to me for NaNo-ing, and I set myself the target of finishing my next novel by Friday 29th instead.

Thanks to some super-duper supportive friends on Twitter, we all got together every day last week and smashed those word-count targets, and as a result, I passed the 50,000 mark required to ‘win’ NaNoWriMo. The only problem was, the story wasn’t finished, and I hate to leave something incomplete. So I didn’t validate. I couldn’t. I’d written 50k, but I wasn’t done.

Bring on the beans!!
Bring on the beans!!

So, after a day of cleaning the kitchen in prep for decorating, I sat down with a very large cup of black coffee, and I wrote. For three hours solid. I don’t know how I managed to write another 3.5k in that time, on a Friday night, while I needed matchsticks for my eyes. But I did it. I could see the finish line and I began to get really excited about the ending.

As my last blog-post portrayed, I wasn’t overly enthusiastic about this story during week two. Which was strange, as I’d got really excited while planning the outline and story-arc. But, I told myself it was only because it was a first draft. And that first draft is now finished, which means I have the skeleton of another story.

I have my second novel – and I think I’m in love with the hero.

There are plenty of authors who have written more than one novel, and I’m just a little fish in a very big sea (as yet to be published). But, who cares? There are also plenty of people who haven’t even made it through their first novel.

That’s why NaNoWriMo is so fantastic, it gives you the drive, the support, the belief in yourself to get that book written, not to mention the amazing amount of support.

Here's to you, self-doubt!
Here’s to you, self-doubt!

It might only be a first draft, and I might still be working on my first book, but the important thing, for me, is that I am one step closer to publication, and still on the path to believing that I can do this. I stuck two fingers up in the face of self-doubt – and it felt very bloody good (although this cat only managed one).

How about you? Did you participate in NaNo this year? Did you win?

Any other wannabe ‘winners’ taking part next ?

It’s only a first draft

For those that don’t know, I’m participating in NaNoWriMo again this year. Write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. 

It’s day eleven, and I’m currently at just over 18,000 words. Totally on target, and I haven’t even written anything today. 

So why am I not feeling the enthusiasm and excitement that I felt last year? Is it because it’s my second project, or because I’m still hung up on the story I wrote last year? 

After chatting with a Twitter friend this morning, I’ve decided I need to remind myself that It’s Just A First Draft. I feel that I should be bounding around with enthusiasm for my characters, that they should be calling me to write them every day. Except, it’s just not happening. Then I have to remember last year, when I found myself wondering what on earth I was doing, when I hadn’t even planned ANY of the story, just the basic outline. That was even harder. The trouble is, this new project has been planned with not just a backbone, but a rib cage and limbs as well, and although I’ve created plenty of conflict, it just doesn’t seem to be reaching the page. Then I have to remind myself that It’s Just A First Draft. And I have my character profiles sketched out too. 

I remember reading my first draft after last year’s book and cringing at how terrible it was, and now that it’s in it’s fourth draft and (almost) ready for submission, I’m still hung up on it. It’s a bit like trying to start a new love affair when you haven’t finished with the old one yet. Except, I needed to take a step back from it, to start something new and then come back to Time for Love with a fresh eye, having completed my second project. 

The point is, Time for Love (formerly The Gateway) has been re-written twice already and I need to keep reminding myself of that as I write my second book (as yet untitled). 

I’ve written this blog post with the intention of giving myself a pep-talk and to snap out of that “self-doubt” darkness looming over me (hey, it’s November, and it’s dark and wet), and hope that anyone else reading this will find some encouragement in it too. 

I might have written 18k so far and been a very good girl with keeping to target, but I can’t guarantee that it’s any good. But, hey. 

IT’S ONLY A FIRST DRAFT. 

Keep that in mind, and good luck all you other Wrimos. Keep rooting for each other. 😉

 

Book Review: What’s a Girl to Do? By Aimee Duffy

What's a Girl to Do? (Indecent Proposals # 1)What’s a Girl to Do? by Aimée Duffy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Shey Lopez is a girl with attitude, working as an editorial assistant at one of New York’s top magazine publications. When she meets hotshot business man Calvin Jones, the chemistry between them is explosive from the start. But the combustible relationship which develops between them is far from smooth, as while they can’t resist their sizzling attraction to each other, both Shey and Calvin have their own secrets and trust issues to prevent them ever having a future together. Shey doesn’t do one-night stands, and Calvin won’t offer a relationship. Is it possible for them to work through their arrangement and satisfy their attraction to each other before moving on?
This first erotic novella from Aimee Duffy is scorchingly hot, but true to form, the author ties in a steamy read with plenty of emotional conflict from lovable characters.
A perfect read to escape from reality for a couple of hours, with two perfectly flawed characters. Oh, and did I mention the sexy hero?

This review was written in exchange for an advance review copy of the novel from the publishers. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.

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Excerpt

The first novella in a thrilling, pulse-racing new erotic romance series, Indecent Proposals. Three best friends, Shey, Eloisa and Georgia take on the most powerful and eligible men of the New York dating scene. ‘I’m not coming over.’ Shey replied confidently. ‘Then maybe you could return the favor now.’ Wait, he didn’t mean… ‘Slide your hand beneath your panties and tell me how ready you are for me.’ Oh my god, he did. Single Manhattanite Shey Lopez doesn’t do one night stands, or have relationships she can’t control. Especially if giving in to playboy Calvin Jones means losing her heart in the process. However, Mr Won’t-Take-No-For-An-Answer always gets what he wants and there’s only so many times a girl can resist such a enticing proposal… View all my reviews

Book Review: Once Upon a Twist by Aimee Duffy and Michelle Smart

Once Upon A TwistOnce Upon A Twist by Michelle Smart
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

We all love a happy ending. We also really enjoy an entertaining read which allows us to escape into the land of make-believe for a few hours and come back to reality sporting a secret smile.

This anthology, brought to you by romance authors Michelle Smart and Aimee Duffy, will tick the boxes. Based on the traditional fairy tales of Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood, these stories come with their own little twist. For once upon a time, in a land far, far away, monsters run amok. Zombie-like creatures are feasting on mankind throughout the kingdom, while elsewhere a big bad angry wolf is on the brink of wiping out the entire human population. Yet these heroines aren’t the swooning, dependent females you’d expect; Ella and Red are feisty, headstrong, smart and independent. They’re also a whole heap of fun.

With a big splash of horror (watch out, some scenes are a little gory!) a dash of humour and a healthy dose of good old ‘amour’, these fairy tales for Grown Ups will be sure to leave you with that ‘ahhh’ factor.

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Once Upon A Twist

When the sun goes down, guess what’s coming out to play… ?

Once upon a time in a land far, far away, the creatures are coming…

In a land run by misogynists, where fair maidens are deemed liable to fall in a dead faint at the sight of blood, Prince Charming is worried – the creatures that have destroyed their neighboring kingdoms are coming for them. He judges it imperative to get all the females to safety, but first he needs to break the enchantment enslaving his One True Love to her hateful home. Oh, and there’s the small matter of the Ball to get through too.

But when the creatures reach them ahead of their expected time, all plans are foregone. Can Ella break her wicked stepmother’s enchantment? Can she save her handsome Prince and the kingdom before midnight strikes? And can she show his soldiers what it really means to kick a monster’s butt? The clock is ticking…

Many, many years later…

When Ruby visits her grandmother in the deep, dark forest, she stumbles into a nightmare. Her grandma’s been attacked by a wolf-like creature, and an ancient disease that turned people into monsters is back… and so is the cold-hearted ex she walked out on a year ago.

Now she has to either accept Jeremy’s help or face becoming a monster herself. Fighting alongside the man she once loved isn’t easy, especially when she discovers there’s more to Jeremy than the cheating bastard she took him for.

As they fight to survive the disease and save those they love, can they keep from falling for each other all over again?