Friday, 10 September 2021

Her Nanny's Secret by Jan Baynham

I am delighted to welcome author Jan Baynham today to talk about her latest release. I was particularly interested in this story since it is partly set in France - in beautiful Normandy, to be more precise... Over to you, Jan.

Thank you for having me on your blog, Marie, to talk about my third novel, Her Nanny’s Secret, published this week by Ruby Fiction.  As with all my novels, it is set in both beautiful rural mid-Wales where I grew up and in a foreign location. In this case, the contrasting setting is Normandy in Northern France, first in 1943 when the area was occupied by the Nazis and then two decades later when my main character travels abroad for the first time.

           Although the town of Ville de Roi and the surrounding villages of Collinac and Sainte Marie-Hélène are fictional, I’ve based them on the area around southern Normandy I know well.France was always our holiday destination of choice when our children were small. Over the years, we have visited and hosted many children and adults from our twin French town, too, and as I was writing, it brought back many happy memories.

          The story opens in 1943; we meet Odile who lives with her parents helping them on the family farm to eke out a living during the German occupation. She leads a double life as an active member of the French Résistance, taking risks and showing bravery in the movement for which her elder brother has already lost his life. The farmhouse where they live used to be an old mill, hence its name Le Vieux Moulin.

In 1963, Annie travels to the same area and eventually the same old mill and I tried to imagine what it was like to visit France for the first time. Here are a few experiences that were new for Annie. She was amazed by the abundance of flowers in every town and the fact that even the smallest village that seemed to have a square and a town hall.

Pretty window boxes adorned the upstairs windows and scarlet summer geraniums and tumbling blue lobelia gave a blaze of colour. They hadn’t walked far when they reached a large, paved area in front of an ornate building. Red brick formed a pattern around the gable and rendered façade, and the word MAIRIE was spelled out using the same brick.

In the square of Ville de Roi, she was fascinated to watch groups of people playing a game she hadn’t seen before, the popular French pastime of pétanque, and observed how animated they became as the game progressed.

          The one thing Annie loved most was sitting outside the numerous cafes and bistros with the sun on her face and sampling foods that were new to her, amazed at the range of breads, pastries and gateaux on offer.

Studying the menu. Annie had never seen such a choice and couldn’t decide from the images between a savoury galette filled with ham and cheese, topped with a fried egg, or, to satisfy her sweet tooth, a crêpe, oozing with cooked local apples and whipped cream. Pancakes were only ever eaten on Shrove Tuesday at home and then always with sugar and lemon juice.

Perhaps her favourite outing was to the famous St Mont Michel lying out in the bay opposite Ville de Roi and linked to the mainland by a causeway. She enjoyed walking through the narrow streets and winding her way up to the Gothic abbey perched on top.

The view from the very top was spectacular and worth the effort. They wandered around the arched cloisters that edged formal gardens and then found a bench for Annie to read the guidebook she’d bought about the abbey.

Annie would never forget her first visit to France, the landscape she travelled through, the pretty villages, the language she heard spoken and the warmth of the people she met. When she arrived, she could never have dreamt that the secret she’d held for over twenty years would be resolved in the way it did. But I can’t give away any spoilers, can I?

Thank you so much for this, Jan. Your new story sounds wonderful. I have always wanted to visit beautiful Mont Saint Michel and I hope I can one day...

*****

Buying Links for Her Nanny’s Secret:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Her-Nannys-Secret-compelling-self-discovery-ebook/dp/B09BNP3S1P/

 https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/search?query=Her+Nanny%27s+Secret+Jan+baynham

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/her-nannys-secret-jan-baynham/1139955323?ean=2940162201946

Author Links:

Twitter: @JanBaynhamhttps://twitter.com/JanBaynham

Facebook: Jan Baynham Writer https://www.facebook.com/JanBayLit

Blog: Jan’s Journey into Writing https://janbaynham.blogspot.com

Tuesday, 17 August 2021

How a story is born... Inspiration for HAPPY DREAMS A MERMAID COVE

Happy Dreams at Mermaid Cove is the third of my novels set in the Scottish Highlands... and it definitely won’t be the last. I have always felt a very special attraction for Scotland and its wild, romantic and magnificent landscapes. 

Coral Beach on Skye Curtesy of Pixabay

I have only been there twice but my dream would be to travel all around the Highlands, then stay in a cottage near the sea for a few weeks, perhaps even on the Isle of Skye where my story is set - although not in the Arrandale Peninsula, since I made it up!  


Isle of Skye Curtesy of Pixabay
Getting the setting just right was essential for my story and I spent a long time reading about different Hebridean islands, including Muck and Rum. One of my favourite books was the fascinating A Drop in the Ocean by Polly Pullar and Lawrence MacEwen – the laird of Muck - about his family, his work and his life on Muck. In the end I had to choose an island big enough and with enough people living there to have a mobile library service and I decided on Skye. However, having never visited the area I didn’t want to get anything wrong, so I invented Arrandale and its Gaelic name of Fearann nan Aislingean Sona- the Land of Happy Dreams.

My inspiration for Happy Dreams at Mermaid Cove was the photo of a yellow mobile library on a deserted Scottish road that author friend Melinda Hammond posted on Facebook at the beginning of 2020. It captured my imagination so much that I started writing a story about it straight away. 

Highlands Mobile Library Curtesy of a friend!

I knew a little about mobile libraries because a very long time ago, I actually worked in one in the Wigan area for a few weeks, and what fun it was. Of course Wigan and its surroundings are very flat, unlike Arrandale, and there were no Highland cows crossing the road or fierce storms battering the countryside... and no mermaids.

Blurb

From the big city to a little yellow mobile library on the Isle of Skye ... When Jenna Palmer agrees to the new position of mobile librarian on the tiny Arrandale peninsular of the Isle of Skye, she knows she’s signing up for difficult working conditions and mediocre wages. But Jenna needs to get away, and a little yellow mobile library called Buttercup could be her escape to happier dreams ...
However, whilst Jenna can get to grips with foggy island roads, local mermaid legends and even big purple monsters, she never expected to have to contend with a boss as grumpy as Daniel McGregor, or a young book lover as enthusiastic as his niece, Katrina.
Arrandale might represent Jenna’s safe port in a storm, but could she and Buttercup also become a beacon of hope to Daniel, Katrina and the entire island community?

HAPPY DREAMS AT MERMAID COVE is available as an ebook, audiobook and paperback on Amazon and as an ebook from Kobo.

Sunday, 16 May 2021

Cover Reveal for HAPPY DREAMS AT MERMAID COVE

I am delighted to show my cover for my new contemporary romance which will be released on June 22nd by Choc Lit UK. It is so happy and cheerful it never fails to lift my spirits when I look at the little yellow mobile library and the gorgeous cottage and landscape behind it.

Here is the blurb:

From the big city to a little yellow mobile library on the Isle of Skye ...
When Jenna Palmer agrees to the new position of mobile librarian on the tiny Arrandale peninsular of the Isle of Skye, she knows she’s signing up for difficult working conditions and mediocre wages. But Jenna needs to get away, and a little yellow mobile library called Buttercup could be her escape to happier dreams ...

However, whilst Jenna can get to grips with foggy island roads, local mermaid legends and even big purple monsters, she never expected to have to contend with a boss as grumpy as Daniel McGregor, or a young book lover as enthusiastic as his niece, Katrina.

Arrandale might represent Jenna’s safe port in a storm, but could she and Buttercup also become a beacon of hope to Daniel, Katrina and the entire island community?

My inspiration for writing Happy Dreams at Mermaid’s Cove was the photo of a yellow mobile library on a deserted Scottish road that author friend Melinda Hammond posted on Facebook at the beginning of last year. It captured my imagination so much that I had to start writing a story about it straight away. Of course, being a very slow writer it took me over a year to complete.

I knew a little about mobile libraries already because a long time ago I actually worked in one in the Wigan area for a few weeks, and what fun it was! During that time, I met the man who was to be my love, my companion and my happy dream for the following thirty one years, and who was taken so abruptly from us several weeks ago... Robert was a librarian before he retired, and funnily enough our eldest son is almost coming to the end of his apprenticeship to be a librarian, and our daughter is a librarian at school too. It must run in the family.

I hope you will enjoy travelling in Buttercup with Jenna, and spending some time with her friends and the gorgeous Daniel McGregor in Arrandale, the land of happy dreams.

By the way, don’t try to find Arrandale on a map of the Isle of Skye because I made it up!  

HAPPY DREAMS AT MERMAID COVE is available for pre-order here.



Saturday, 13 February 2021

ESCAPE TO THE LITTLE CHATEAU Finalist in the RNA Awards!

I am delighted to announce that my romantic suspense novel ESCAPE TO THE LITTLE CHATEAU, which was published last October by Choc Lit, is a finalist in the prestigious RNA Awards in the Jackie Collins Romantic Thriller category. 

It is a great honour and I am absolutely over the moon that the story has made it to the final five. The awards ceremony will be virtual this year and takes place on 8th March, and actor and radio presenter Larry Lamb will host the awards.

Blurb:

Will Amy’s dreams of a Provençal escape come true?
There are many reasons Amy Carter is determined to make Bellefontaine, her farmhouse hotel in the French countryside, a success. Of course, there’s the time and money she’s put in to making it beautiful, but she also has something to prove – particularly to people like Fabien Coste.
Fabien is the owner of the nearby château, and he might just be the most arrogant, patronising man Amy has ever met ... unfortunately, he’s also the most handsome.
But as rumours circulate in the local community and secrets about the old farmhouse begin to reveal themselves, Amy quickly sees the less idyllic side of life at Bellefontaine. Could Fabien be the man to help prevent her Provençal dream from turning into a nightmare?

Escape to the Little Chateau is available from Amazon and kobo



Release date for ANGEL OF THE LOST TREASURE

Only two weeks before my latest novel, ANGEL OF THE LOST TREASURE, is released by Choc Lit. 

ANGEL OF THE LOST TREASURE is a historical novel, and a new and completely revised edition of a novel previously published about six years ago. I loved writing that story, not only because I completely fell in love with the hero Hugo Saintclair, but because it is set in and around Lyon, the beautiful city where I grew up.

The novel is full of mystery and action, secret societies and political intrigue, and of course romance! 

Researching and writing the story was pure pleasure from beginning to end.

Here is the blurb for the novel:

When young widow, Marie-Ange Norton is invited to Beauregard in France by the mysterious Monsieur Malleval to collect an inheritance, she has no choice but to accept.
But when she embarks on the voyage with her fiery-tempered travelling companion Capitaine Hugo Saintclair, little does she know what waits for her across the sea in turbulent nineteenth-century France on the eve of Napoleon’s return from exile. When she arrives, she is taken aback by Malleval’s fascination with her family – seemingly inspired by his belief they are connected to a sacred relic he’s read about in coded manuscripts by the Knights Templar.
As it becomes clear that Malleval’s obsession has driven him to madness, Marie-Ange is horrified to realise she is more the man’s prisoner than his guest. Not only that, but Hugo is the only person who might be able to help her, and he could represent a different kind of danger ...

ANGEL OF THE LOST TREASURE will be released on 23rd February and is available for pre-order https://www.amazon.co.uk/Angel-Lost-Treasure-Marie-Laval-ebook/dp/B08TX52MWK/ref and Kobo https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/angel-of-the-lost-treasure


Saturday, 5 December 2020

A Remedy in Time, a fascinating time travel novel by Jennifer Macaire

 Something a little different today but absolutely fascinating!

I am delighted to welcome Jennifer Macaire and her new book, A REMEDY IN TIME, a time travel adventure, which will be published by Headline Accent on 7th January 20121. Hello Jennifer and thank you so much for coming on the blog today.

Thank you for having me as a guest on your blog! I'm here to talk about my newest time travel book, 'A Remedy in Time', and what inspired me to write it. 

I've had a passion for time travel ever since I found out about dinosaurs. I admit, I've watched the Jurassic Park series about a hundred times. The dinosaurs never get boring for me. When I was in kindergarten, I stood at the blackboard and drew huge dinos. A t-rex chased a triceratops, a stegosaurus lumbered across a swamp, while a huge brontosaurus (now known as apatosaurus, which is a pity, given that brontosaurus meant "thunder lizard") grazed on high tree tops. One of my teachers discovered my obsession, and she would take me from class to class so I could draw and give a talk about dinosaurs.

Then one day I happened on a Reader's Digest that featured sabretooth tigers. In the illustration, the tigers are attacking a mammoth that has somehow gotten entrapped in a tar-pit. I stared at that illustration for hours, trying to imagine how the sabretooth tigers could hunt and eat their prey with such massive canines.

That was that for the dinosaurs. Suddenly I was fascinated by a time when woolly mammoths, huge cave bears, and even sloths the size of small houses, roamed the frigid plains of the ice-age tundra. The sabretooth tiger, with its out-sized canines became my spirit animal - I read everything I could about them, and spent my time drawing pictures of extinct mammals. Needless to say, the sabretooth tiger was the beast that really caught my interest.

Years and years later, I stumbled on a blogsite that featured fossils, and it amused me to try and guess the mystery photos the author posted. And then one day, lo and behold, there was a sabretooth tiger! I recognized it right away. In the blog post, the author admitted that scientists still argued about how the animal hunted its prey. I started imagining a trip to the past to film a documentary about sabretooth tigers.

Of course, the trip would start at Tempus U, where my time travel books all start from. And the heroine this time would be a single-minded young woman who not only specialized in paleolithic animals but infectious diseases as well, because when I started writing the book, there had been a breakout of an especially virulent form of typhus in California. And so I wove a story about corporate greed, vaccines, man-made diseases, and a trip to the far, far past. A Remedy in Time is available for preorder, and will be published January 7th, 2021!

And here is the fabulous cover my publisher, Headline Accent, made for it!

To save the future, she must turn to the past . . .

San Francisco, Year 3377. A deadly virus has taken the world by storm. Scientists are desperately working to develop a vaccine. And Robin Johnson – genius, high-functioning, and perhaps a little bit single-minded – is delighted. Because, to cure the disease, she’s given the chance to travel back in time.

But when Robin arrives at the last Ice Age hoping to stop the virus at its source, she finds more there than she bargained for. And just as her own chilly exterior is beginning to thaw, she realises it’s not only sabre-toothed tigers that are in danger of extinction . . .

Preorder from:

Amazon uk ; Amazon com  ;  Amazon au

Follow Jennifer on twitter & Facebook 

Excerpt: 

I lay with my face in the grass. I hadn’t vomited, but that’s only because I couldn’t take a full breath. I knew that as soon as my diaphram started working again I’d spill my guts. It didn’t take long. “Why, oh why, did I agree to this,” I said, between bouts of retching and paralyzing pain. Finally, I managed to get to my knees. “What if a sabre tooth tiger had been here? We’d already be eaten, or worse.”

He shook his head. “See how the air around us is faintly blue? We’re protected by the tractor beam for a good hour. Nothing can get in.”

I reached out my hand and touched the blue-tinged air. It was a little like being surrounded by a very faint fog. I poked. My finger tingled and stung. “Wo cao!” I said. As I watched, the blue shivered and began to fade. “It’s almost gone. Let’s go. We should send some vidcams out and see if there are any spots that look like a good campsite.”

Donnell looked at his comlink.

“What time is it?” I asked. “Is time here different, I wonder? It was nearly noon when we left the, um, future.” I glanced at my own comlink. “It’s one minute to one. Amazing. We go back ten thousand years in little more than an hour. A-fucking-mazing. Look at this place!” Mouth open in amazement, I gazed around. We were on the side of a grassy hill, and we had a good view of the surrounding area. I forgot about my pain, I was in the past! I was here! I staggered to my feet and looked around. “Wa cao! We’re really here! There is a ta me da giant armadillo down there. Putain, a glyptodon! This is amazing. Look at that! It looks like a walking igloo except it’s brown, not white. Donnell, look!”

Donnell didn’t look at the scenery. He looked at me, and said, “Robin, I just wanted to say I’m sorry. I’m really very sorry. I didn’t have a choice in the matter.” He looked truly upset.

I hastened to reassure him. “No need to apologise. Look, I know you didn’t want to have me as a partner. I overheard you talking to the dean. It doesn’t matter. Let’s just make this trip a success. We have many lives depending on us.”

He made a strange noise. Then his face turned ashen, and he gagged like he was about to be sick. I thought he was still feeling the effects of the trip. I bent to help him to his feet, but he gagged again, then screamed.

“What is it? Donnell? What is happening?” I didn’t understand what I was seeing. His leg, his leg was shrinking. He shrieked, grabbed his leg, and his hands sank into his, well, where his thigh should have been, and then he sort of slid and slumped to the ground, convulsing, his body moving as if waves were tossing it, as if he were made of liquid, and his clothes became wet, and the strongest, strangest smell assaulted my nose.

I think I started to scream then too. Then my breath ran out and all I could do was squeak, squeak, squeak, as I tried to drag air into my lungs.

He must have been in dreadful pain. He screamed until the end. Until all that was left was his chest and his head, then those too sank into themselves and all that was left were clothes and boots, and a pink, foamy gel.

I spun around and flailed at the air, at the faint wisp of blue that still lingered. I found my voice. “Help!” I screamed, “Help, help, help!”

No one came. Below me, in the valley, the glyptodon lifted its head and seemed to look in my direction.

I couldn’t stop shaking, and I couldn’t seem to be able to breathe. Black spots danced in front of my vision and I knelt down, bent over, and hit my head on the ground. “No. No. No! That didn’t just happen. It’s a hallucination. You’re still unconscious. You’ll wake up in a minute. Wake up, Robin. Wake the feck up.” I dug my fingers into the dirt and screamed again.

Tuesday, 20 October 2020

A romantic suspense novel set in Provence

Escape to the Little Chateau is published today by Choc Lit UK!

Mystery, romance and a fascinating journey into the history of Provence…

Blurb

Will Amy’s dreams of a Provençal escape come true?

There are many reasons Amy Carter is determined to make Bellefontaine, her farmhouse hotel in the French countryside, a success. Of course, there’s the time and money she’s put in to making it beautiful, but she also has something to prove – particularly to people like Fabien Coste.

Fabien is the owner of the nearby château, and he might just be the most arrogant, patronising man Amy has ever met ... unfortunately, he’s also the most handsome.

But as rumours circulate in the local community and secrets about the old farmhouse begin to reveal themselves, Amy quickly sees the less idyllic side of life at Bellefontaine. Could Fabien be the man to help prevent her Provençal dream from turning into a nightmare?

Escape to the Little Chateau is available from Amazon uk and Kobo

It was previously published as A Spell in Provence by Accent Press in 2015. This is a revised, edited and updated version. Published October 2020 by Choc Lit.