Thursday, 22 August 2019

August Round Robin - Stories that make you want to travel...


In my latest contemporary romance, A PARIS FAIRY TALE, which was released by Choc Lit in July, the heroine Aurora Black is a paleographer hired by a Paris auction house to value an ancient illuminated manuscript. She has to work with daredevil journalist Cédric Castel to unravel the mysteries surrounding the manuscript.

Although the story is mostly set in Paris, Aurora and Cédric travel to Turin and they also visit a chateau in the Massif Central. The inspiration for the chateau was a wonderful place I visited during a recent holiday in Auvergne. Isn't this castle beautiful?

Chateau de Chareil-Cintrat, Auvergne, France
(Excerpt from Chapter Three – A PARIS FAIRY TALE)
‘I’ll be fine here, Jérôme. Merci et bonsoir.’ Aurora shut the passenger door and watched the black Lexus speed away. The tyres splashed into puddles, and the tail lights soon disappeared in the line of traffic on Boulevard Saint-Germain, still busy despite the late hour.

The rain had stopped, and the wet pavements glistened and reflected kaleidoscopes of neon lights of the district’s many bars and restaurants. In fact, Papa Louis, the jazz club Cédric Castel had mentioned earlier, was only a few streets away – at least that’s what Jérôme had said as he drove her back from Neuilly.

Why was she even thinking about Castel? The man was smug and obnoxious – the archetype of the pushy journalist, and it seemed that she was stuck with him. What could Florent Maupas be thinking of, allowing him to shadow her as she worked on the manuscript? It would be impossible to concentrate with him at her side, watching, assessing, judging – waiting no doubt for her to make a mistake, and confirm what he already believed: that she had only been offered the job because she was Augustus Black’s granddaughter.

She pushed back a feeling of unease. The thing was, he may well be right. Once again, Augustus’s formidable shadow stretched over Aurora.
Trying to ignore the pain in her foot, she turned into a side street and hobbled across the tiny Furstemberg Square where trees created pools of shadows around an old-fashioned cast iron lamp post.

This was one of her favourite places in Paris. Centuries before, the artists and craftsmen and women she so admired had walked along the same streets on their way to purchase paints or pigments from the apothecary shops in the Ile de la Cité, or sheets of vellum from the tanners in nearby rue de la Parchimenerie, or to visit the libraires who commissioned their work. Perhaps they still haunted these narrow streets, and watched over her right now…

The thought of walking among ghosts made her smile as she strode into the narrow Impasse Fleury leading to the apart-hotel Florent Maupas’s secretary had booked for her.

As she reached out to push open the side panel of the porte cochère, a gust of wind rustled through the branches of the square’s Paulownia trees. The light from the old-fashioned lamp post flickered and the darkness filling the alleyway grew thicker. Uneasy, Aurora glanced over her shoulder. A large shadow appeared to detach itself from the wall and move towards her.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay
Blurb from A PARIS FAIRY TALE

Is Paris the city of happily ever afters?
Workaholic art historian Aurora Black doesn’t have time for fairy tales or Prince Charmings, even in the most romantic city in the world. She has recently been hired by a Parisian auction house for a job that could make or break her career. Unfortunately, daredevil journalist Cédric Castel seems intent on disrupting Aurora’s routine.
As Aurora and Cédric embark on a journey across France, they get more than they bargained for as they find themselves battling rogue antiques dealers and personal demons, not to mention a growing attraction to each other.
But with the help of a fairy godmother or two, could they both find their happily ever afters?
A PARIS FAIRY TALE is available from Amazon as an ebook and audiobook


To read more extracts from stories that will give you a taste for travel, please visit:






Tuesday, 23 July 2019


A PARIS FAIRY TALE
By Marie Laval

It’s publication day for A PARIS FAIRY TALE! Thank you so much to everybody at Choc Lit for making this happen, and for giving the book such a gorgeous cover… Montmartre and the Sacré-Coeur have a special importance in the story and I was delighted to see it featured so prettily on the cover.
Blurb
Is Paris the city of happily ever afters?
Workaholic art historian Aurora Black doesn’t have time for fairy tales or Prince Charmings, even in the most romantic city in the world. She has recently been hired by a Parisian auction house for a job that could make or break her career. Unfortunately, daredevil journalist Cédric Castel seems intent on disrupting Aurora’s routine.
As Aurora and Cédric embark on a journey across France, they get more than they bargained for as they find themselves battling rogue antiques dealers and personal demons, not to mention a growing attraction to each other.
But with the help of a fairy godmother or two, could they both find their happily ever afters? 

A PARIS FAIRY TALE is available as an ebook and audiobook on Amazon and various other platforms.
You can find many beautiful photos of Paris and illuminated manuscripts which inspired the writing of A Paris Fairy Tale on Pinterest (https://www.pinterest.co.uk/laval0232/)


Thursday, 25 April 2019

COVER REVEAL FOR SUMMER DREAMS AT VILLA LIMONCELLO!

COVER REVEAL TIME!


I loved Daisy James' WEDDING BELLS AT VILLA LIMONCELLO and was very happy to find out that the second book in the series, SUMMER DREAMS AT VILLA LIMONCELLO, would be released on June 13th!

Today I am delighted to be part of the cover reveal for this enchanting romantic novel set in Tuscany. Isn’t it absolutely beautiful?


Escape to Villa Limoncello… where dreams come true in the most unexpected ways.
Izzie Jenkins never expected to find herself living in a gorgeous oasis in Tuscany but when life gives you Villa Limoncello you say thank you and bake treats to celebrate!
Izzie and debonair chef Luca Castelotti are officially setting up shop together but when their inaugural ‘Pasta and Painting’ venture is sabotaged and one of their guests poisoned they’re forced to turn detective. Because if they can’t find the culprit, they’ll be out of business before they’ve even begun...
A gorgeous holiday read perfect for fans of Sarah Morgan and Jenny Oliver

You can buy Summer Dreams at Villa Limoncello from Amazon by clicking here



Friday, 8 February 2019

Cover Reveal for Daisy James!

I am delighted to be part of the cover reveal for Daisy James’ latest novel, WEDDING BELLS AT VILLA LIMONCELLO!

Doesn’t this look absolutely gorgeous and make you want to dive straight into the picture, grab a glass of homemade lemonade and enjoy an afternoon in the hot Italian sunshine?




Escape to Villa Limoncello… where dreams come true in unexpected ways. 

When Isabella Jenkins is unceremoniously fired from her fancy London job, she escapes to Tuscany. A few weeks hiding amongst rolling hills and grape vines at Villa Limoncello sounds exactly like the distraction she needs.
But Italy holds emotional memories for Izzie and with a hapless handyman, a matchmaking village matriarch and a gorgeous – if infuriating – local chef named Luca Castelotti, her quiet Italian get away turns into an unending cacophony of chaos.

Suddenly Izzie finds herself on a mission to pull off the wedding of the century and maybe get her life in order in the process. If only Luca’s gorgeous smile wasn’t such a powerful distraction…

You can buy Wedding Bells at Villa Limoncello here



Saturday, 1 September 2018

It happened on Dufferin Terrace by Melanie Robertson-King


I am delighted to welcome Melanie Robertson-King today with IT HAPPENED ON DUFFERIN TERRACE, a sweet romance that has just been released by King Park Press. There is a giveaway at the bottom of the post. Don't miss the chance to win a copy of the ebook!


Series: It Happened (book1)

Genre: sweet romance
Release Date: July 22, 2018
Publisher: King Park Press
Miracle on 34th Street meets Sleepless in Seattle.

Toronto business consultant, Serenity Layne, knew the only person she could depend on was herself. Married to her career, she has no time for other pursuits and life’s intangibles.

Widowed for three years, Roger Scott, a data security specialist in Quebec City, is a single parent to his ten-year-old son, Adam.

On a day out on the Plains of Abraham with their black Labrador retriever, Roger’s cell phone rings incessantly. Adam has played matchmaker and put his father’s profile on a number of online dating sites.

The week before Christmas, Serenity is heading up a series of meetings after a six-month study of the Canadian retail chain, jonathans. After an unpleasant encounter with one of the store managers, she escapes from the boardroom of the Château Frontenac Hotel, only to be bowled over by Roger and Adam’s dog.

Guilty over the accident, Roger invites Serenity out for a drink by way of apology. Over the course of the week, and spending time together, feelings long dormant for Roger are re-awakened. At the same time, emotions foreign to Serenity fill her with contentment and happiness.

Will the couple get their happily ever after?
EXTRACT

The following morning, six months of gruelling work came to fruition. In the Place d’Armes conference room, Serenity turned on her MacBook Air with the PowerPoint presentation and ensured the projector functioned. In addition to the electronic copy, the hard copies she made in Montreal for the jonathans participants were placed them in front of each chair.

This was the first time her superior sat in on one of her meetings, making her more nervous than normal. Did he not trust her judgement?

Scheduled to start at ten a.m., a number of attendees were still missing. The time function on her Fitbit indicated three minutes to go. The managers had to arrive soon or her boss's trust in her abilities would be shattered. A brief assessment of her leather-bound notebook confirmed the time and date.

Gradually, men in three-piece suits, shirts and ties straggled in. They nodded at her as they took their seats. During her visits to the outlets across Canada, she came together with them. All were friendly and cooperative. Some stores performed well, while others struggled.

The head of jonathans made his entrance. Well over six feet in stature, with a stocky frame, his imposing size commanded respect and attention.

“Good morning,” she said.

The man acknowledged her with a nod of his head and moved to the head of the table.
Now, she and the other attendees waited for her missing employer and one last jonathans employee.

“We’ll give them another five minutes then we’ll start. In the meantime, feel free to look at the documents in front of you.” She lingered by the chair used by the director of the Vancouver location and smiled.

The door burst open, eliminating the opportunity to speak with the gentleman. In the gap stood the man from the Yorkville Avenue outlet, as unkempt as the first time she met him. When he looked up, his eyes bulged, and his jaw dropped. “You’re the hard-nosed, jumped up high and mighty who made trouble. You’re the reason we’re having this powwow,” he snapped.

The hairs on the back of her neck bristled. Coat plucked from the rack, she darted out the door putting on the garment on the fly. The man busted her straight away. No way could she head this meeting now. Where was Martin Thacker? He would have stood by her.

She left the hotel, turned right, and scurried through the arched vehicular entryway on Rue Saint Louis. From there, she stumbled to the boardwalk running adjacent to the spectacular architecture and overlooked the St. Lawrence River and the town underneath.

Snow, packed down from shovelling and plowing, made the boards slippery. High-heeled shoes were inappropriate for the conditions, but escaping that room was paramount.

Why did she allow that man to antagonize her? Any other time, any other meeting and she would have let comments like his roll off her. This action was out of character.
Struggling to maintain her balance, she picked her way to the hand rail. At least she had gloves in her pockets. After extracting the knitted mittens, she pulled them on her hands and tried to regain her composure so she could go back to the meeting. She would have to create an excuse for her sudden departure.

Arms resting on the bannister, she took in long, slow breaths. Each time she exhaled a puff of steam formed in front of her.

About to go back into the warmth of the hotel’s conference room, she let go and turned. A massive black dog charged at her with a man and a boy in pursuit. The ear flaps of the man’s trapper hat resembled wings. Stretched out horizontally, how he managed not to take flight astounded her.

“Tori, bad girl. Halt.” The man shouted commands to the canine, but the animal was oblivious to them.

Before she had an opportunity to react, the black Lab launched itself in the air and hit her square in the chest knocking her to the ground. The impact sent her eyeglasses flying and they crashed on the granite ledge beneath the handrail. The child dove for them but couldn’t get a proper grip. His fingertips brushed the frames and her eyewear skittered away from him on the icy rock and vanished.

BUY LINKS


ABOUT THE AUTHOR



Melanie Robertson-King has always been a fan of the written word. Growing up as an only child, her face was almost always buried in a book from the time she could read. Her father was one of the thousands of Home Children sent to Canada through the auspices of The Orphan Homes of Scotland, and she has been fortunate to be able to visit her father’s homeland many times and even met the Princess Royal (Princess Anne) at the orphanage where he was raised.


Twitter: @RobertsoKing

Goodreads Author Page: Melanie Robertson-King



GIVEAWAY
An e-copy of the book


Tuesday, 24 July 2018

A Plague on Mr Pepys by Deborah Swift


I am delighted to welcome Deborah Swift today and learn more about her new release in the Women of Pepys Diary Series - A Plague on Mr Pepys. There is a fantastic giveaway at the end of this post, so don't miss out!


Series:  Women of Pepys Diary Series #2
Genre: Historical Fiction
Release Date: July 5th 2018
Publisher: Accent Press
The second novel in the series based on the different women in Samuel Pepys’s famous diary.

Sometimes the pursuit of money costs too much...

Ambitious Bess Bagwell is determined that her carpenter husband, Will, should make a name for himself in the Navy shipyards. To further his career, she schemes for him to meet Samuel Pepys, diarist, friend of the King and an important man in the Navy.
But Pepys has his own motive for cultivating the attractive Bess, and it's certainly not to benefit her husband. Bess soon finds she is caught in a trap of her own making.
As the summer heat rises, the Great Plague has London in its grip. Red crosses mark the doors, wealthy citizens flee and only the poor remain to face the march of death. 

With pestilence rife in the city, all trade ceases. 

With no work as a carpenter, Will is forced to invest in his unscrupulous cousin Jack's dubious 'cure' for the pestilence which horrifies Bess and leaves them deeper in debt. 
Now they are desperate for money and the dreaded disease is moving ever closer. Will Mr Pepys honour his promises or break them? And will they be able to heal the divide that threatens to tear their marriage apart?

EXTRACT

London, March 1663

‘Here’s the address,’ Bess said, pressing the paper down on the table in front of her husband. She patted him on the shoulder, which released a puff of dust. Will was a fine figure of a man – tall and blond, with arms muscled from lifting timber, and the fine-boned hands of a craftsman, but his clothes were always full of sawdust and wood-shavings.

He turned and smiled, with an expression that said he was ready to humour her.

‘It’s on the other side of the Thames, close to one of the shipyards. Big houses all round. A nice neighbourhood. Quiet.’

‘Where?’ Will asked, standing to pick up the paper, and stooping from habit because their attic room was so low.

‘Deptford.’ She held her breath.

‘Deptford?’ he said, throwing it back down. ‘We’re not living in Deptford.’

‘Oh, Will, it has to stop sometime. He won’t even know we’re there.’

‘You don’t know my father, he gets to know everyone’s business.’

‘That’s no reason. That terrible brimstone preacher lives just round the corner, and we manage well enough to avoid him.’

‘Ho, ho.’

‘We need never see your father. The Deptford yard is enormous. More than a mile end to end. Just think, you could work there fitting out ships, and you’d never set eyes on him.’ She tugged at his sleeve. ‘The workshop’s so fine – you should see the workbench. More than eight foot long, and it runs right under the window. You can nearly see the whole shipyard from there.’ She paused; she knew his weak spot well. ‘And the house will be perfect for your new commission. You won’t have to hire a work place again.’

‘It’s more than we can afford, love, to buy a house.’

‘You’ll get better commissions though, once people see Hertford’s chairs. You should see it! There’s room for your lathes and there’s already a wall with hooks for hanging tools. Just come and look, Will. That’s all.’

Will sighed. ‘Suppose looking won’t hurt.’

*

In the panelled chambers of Thavie’s Inn, Holborn, Will Bagwell lifted the quill and dipped it in the ink. His heart was pounding beneath the buttons of his doublet. The paper before him was thick vellum, as if to emphasise the serious nature of the agreement. Ten years’ of his wages in a good year. An enormous loan. He wanted to read it again, for it was a lot of writing to take in, in a language that took some fathoming. But they were all waiting.

Behind him, he could hear Bess breathing; feel the heat of her hand on his shoulder. He tapped the nib on the edge of the bottle to shake off the excess droplets of ink; Bess’s hand tightened. He swallowed. Just shy of sixty pounds. If he signed this, there would be no going back.

He hesitated, and looked up. Opposite him, the turtle-faced goldsmith, Kite, nodded and narrowed his eyes in a tight smile of encouragement. The notary, an official from the Inn of Chancery in a blindingly white cravat, was impatient, shifting from foot to foot. No doubt he’d seen such an agreement many times.

A deep breath. Will felt the nib touch the paper and suddenly, there it was – his signature flowing across the page. He had no sooner lifted the pen from the document than it was swiped out from under his gaze, and Kite the money-lender was scribbling his name under Will’s. Immediately, a serving boy came with a stub of smoking sealing wax, and even before Kite had time to press the metal die into the red puddle on the paper, the notary was adding his witness signature.

It was over in a few seconds and Will’s damp palm was gripped momentarily in Kite’s wrinkled one, before the duplicate loan agreement and the house deeds were thrust into his hand for him to sign.

‘My man Bastable will collect the repayments on the last day of each month,’ Kite said.

Will felt dazed. He wanted to turn back time, give the agreement back. But they were all smiling, Bess most of all. Her face lit up the room. She had her fine house now, and he couldn’t let her down, could he? But all he could think of was the feeling of his empty purse, like a lung with the breath squeezed out of it.

BUY LINK
Check out book 1 in the series!



PRAISE FOR PLEASING MR PEPYS

'Swift is a consummate historical novelist, basing her books on immaculate research and then filling the gaps between real events and real people with eloquent storytelling, atmospheric scene setting and imaginative plot lines' The Visitor

'Pepys and his world spring to vibrant life...Gripping, revealing and stunningly imagined, Pleasing Mr Pepys is guaranteed to please' Lancashire Evening Post

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

From Deborah Swift:
I write historical fiction, a genre I love. I loved the Victorian classics such as Jane Eyre, Lorna Doone and Wuthering Heights. As I child I loved to read and when I had read my own library books, I used to borrow my mother's library copies of Anya Seton and Daphne du Maurier. I have loved reading historical novels ever since; though I'm a bookaholic and I read widely - contemporary and classic fiction as well as historicals. 

In the past I used to work as a set and costume designer for theatre and TV, so I enjoy the research aspect of creating historical fiction, something I loved doing as a scenographer. Each book takes about six months of research before I am ready to begin writing. More details of my research and writing process can be found on my website. I like to write about extraordinary characters set against the background of real historical events.

I live in North Lancashire on the edge of the Lake District, an area made famous by the Romantic Poets such as Wordsworth and Coleridge. 
I took an MA in Creative Writing in 2007 and now teach classes and courses in writing, and offer editorial advice from my home. A Plague on Mr Pepys is my ninth published novel.

GIVEAWAY
1 paperback (UK only) & 1 ebook(international)

Friday, 22 June 2018

June Round Robin: Keep Writing


Why do you write or feel compelled to write even through the difficult parts?

This month’s round robin particularly appealed to me because experiencing difficult spells in my writing is something that I unfortunately seem to go through quite often.

Typing ‘The End’ on that first draft is one of the most exhilarating moments I have experienced as a writer. The sheer relief of having ‘stuck to it’ and brought my project to completion is incredible, even if it is still a very rough version at this stage. I am not even mentioning having the book accepted for publication, getting through the various rounds of edits, and of course seeing the book published and reading reviews.

Before reaching that wonderful stage however, there are many dark moments. Moments of doubt, loss of belief in the story and my skill as writer, and worst of all for me, the broken connection with the characters who suddenly stop ‘talking’ to me.

I love writing. It’s all I always wanted to do. I think about my story when I am driving, cooking, walking, ironing, washing my hair or drinking a cup of coffee; I dream about my hero (I know, it sounds silly and a little pathetic). I agonise about the twists and turns of my plot and subplots. I have conversations with my characters, laugh at their jokes, shake my head at their stupidity, or marvel at their ingenuity. I speak lines of dialogue aloud in different voices even when my children look at me in a funny way. When you do all that, you just don’t let those dark and difficult times defeat you. You don’t give up. You get on with it.

I find that when things get really tough, it’s usually because I cannot ‘hear’ my characters any longer, or because I got lost in an over-complicated plot. The best strategy for me then is to go back to the very beginning of the story, in order to add – or delete – layers and details, rekindle that precious connection with my characters, get the spark and the fun in writing again. 

There are many inspirational quotes from writers about dealing with writer’s block, self-doubt and dark and difficult moments, but I particularly like the ones below by JK Rowling.

“I just write what I wanted to write. I write what amuses me. It's totally for myself."

“What you write becomes who you are… So make sure you love what you write!”

Having fun and writing what you love is crucial, even if it means writing in a different genre or switching to short stories instead of writing a novel. A group of author friends and I recently released an anthology of feel-good and heart-warming short stories set in the fictional Yorkshire town of Haven Bridge (loosely based on the real town Hebden Bridge) in a bid to forget about the usual pressures and find 'the fun in writing again.' Miss Moonshine's Emporium of Happy Endings was released in May, and has since become a bestseller.


I may lose faith at times, and put a story aside for a few weeks or months, or go back to the beginning several times. I may even abandon a project for several years. But ultimately I cannot imagine my life without writing. 

Miss Moonshine's Emporium of Happy Endings is available for only £0.99 as an ebook and £7.99 in paperback  here.
Please click on the links below to read what these authors have to say about the topic!