The Romance Reviews

The Romance Reviews

A Spell in Provence

A Spell in Provence

Monday, 22 December 2014

Seaside Sunsets by Melissa Foster


BOOK 3 in the Seaside Summers Series
Jessica Ayers has lived a sheltered life with little more than cello lessons and practices taking up her day. Now a member of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, she escapes the prim and proper symphony to vacation in the Seaside community in Wellfleet, Massachusetts, and determine if she is living life to the fullest or missing it altogether.

For the first time since developing the second largest search engine in the world, billionaire Jamie Reed is taking the summer off. He plans to work from the Cape and spend time with his elderly grandmother—and falling in love is not in his plans.

From the moment Jamie and Jessica meet, the attraction is white-hot. Once-overly-focused Jamie can think of little else than sensual, smart, and alluring Jessica, and Jessica discovers a side of herself she never knew existed. But when Jamie’s business encounters trouble and his attorney and best friend intervenes, he proves that the blond beauty is too distracting for Jamie. To make matters worse, it appears that Jessica might not be who she says she is, turning Jamie’s life—and his heart—upside down. In a world where personal information is always one click away, Jamie must decide if he should trust his heart or watch the woman he loves walk away


http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/seaside-sunsets-love-in-bloom-seaside-summers-book-3

https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Melissa_Foster_Seaside_Sunsets_Love_in_Bloom_Seasi?id=alkeBAAAQBAJ

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00PCWBIIE

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/seaside-sunsets/id909952527?ls=1&mt=11#
Melissa Foster is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling and award-winning author. She writes contemporary romance, new adult, contemporary women’s fiction, suspense, and historical fiction with emotionally compelling characters that stay with you long after you turn the last page. Her books have been recommended by USA Today’s book blog, Hagerstown Magazine, The Patriot, and several other print venues. She is the founder of the  World Literary Café and Fostering Success. When she’s not writing, Melissa helps authors navigate the publishing industry through her author training programs on  Fostering Success. Melissa has been published in Calgary’s Child Magazine, the Huffington Post, and Women Business Owners magazine. 

Melissa hosts an annual Aspiring Authors contest for children and has painted and donated several murals to The Hospital for Sick Children in Washington, DC. Melissa lives in Maryland with her family.

Visit Melissa on social media. Melissa enjoys discussing her books with book clubs and reader groups, and welcomes an invitation to your event.

Authors Links:






Sign up for Melissa's newsletter to stay up to date with releases and giveaways



The giveaway on this tour will be 3 ecopies of Book 2 in the series Seaside Hearts. The rafflecopter code or link can be used.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Mary Waibel is on the blog with Faery Marked!



Thanks so much for doing this blog swap with me today, Marie. I’m super excited to be here and to have you over on my blog. I hope those of you visiting here have a minute to stop by and see what Marie had to say about her writing process.

I’m always intrigued by the different ways authors write. While there are many similarities, each of us bring our own unique spin to the process. It’s the same for what inspires us. Most authors I know can find inspiration anywhere. A song. A poem. A picture. A person they see walking down the street.




Cinderella by Elena Ringo

My idea for Faery Marked came from an idea. My husband and I play D&D (Dungeons and Dragons). Well, it’s been a few years, but I was thinking about the difference between a sorceress and a mage. See, in the D&D universe, a mage learns magic by studying while a sorceress is born with the ability to use magic. However, the magic stays dormant, usually not revealing itself until the teen years, often with quite explosive events.

So, I wondered what it would be like to be an average teenage girl and wake up to find your ceiling on fire. But not with normal fire. No, with purple fire.  And from there I was swept away into the land of Faery, and Faery Marked was born.



When Callie Rycroft wakes to find purple flames flickering on the ceiling, she believes she’s still dreaming. But soon she’s forced to accept that she has magic―a special magic that grants her entrance into the Faery Realm.

For centuries humans have been banned from Faery, but dangerous times call for dangerous measures. Declared Champion by the Faery Queen, Callie is assigned a Guardian, and tasked with finding the Cordial―a magical elixir needed to keep the portal to the Faery realm a secret from humans.

The upside? Reece Michaels, the boy she's been crushing on for years, is her Guardian. Callie hopes that, by spending time with Reece, he'll start to see her as more than just his best friend's sister.

The downside? She's in a race not only against time, but against another Champion, and a rogue Guardian―a Guardian who stands to threaten her developing relationship with Reece.

Magic, mistaken identities, and hidden agendas are the least of Callie's worries when she learns that the Cordial requires a sacrifice. Will Callie be willing to risk everything―even Reece―to complete her task as Champion? Or will she let the portal open, and doom both realms?

Available at AMAZON

Win a signed copy of Faery Marked and other swag. Details HERE. Don’t miss out on this LIMITED TIME OFFER!!!


YA author Mary Waibel’s love for fairytales and happy-ever fill the pages of her works. Whether penning stories in a medieval setting or a modern day school, magic and romance weave their way inside every tale.

Strong female characters use both brain and brawn to save the day and win the heart of their men. Mary enjoys connecting with her readers through her website: marywaibel.blogspot.com


Thank you for being on the blog Mary and the best of luck with your wonderful new title FAERY MARKED.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

New Cover for A SPELL IN PROVENCE

I am delighted to present the new cover for A SPELL IN PROVENCE which is to be published on December 19th by Accent Press. Although I loved the original cover, Rebecca Lloyd, my fantastic editor at Accent, felt that it was a little too carefree for the storyline and that a darker, more mysterious picture would suit the plot better. So this is it!  What do you think?
With few roots in England and having just lost her job, Amy Carter decides to give up on home and start a new life in France, spending her redundancy package turning an overgrown Provençal farmhouse, Bellefontaine, into a successful hotel.

Though she has big plans for her new home, none of them involves falling in love – least of all with Fabien Coste, the handsome but arrogant owner of a nearby château.  As romance blossoms, eerie and strange happenings in Bellefontaine hint at a dark mystery of the Provençal countryside which dates back many centuries and holds an entanglement between the ladies of Bellefontaine and the ducs de Coste at its centre. As Amy works to unravel the mystery, she begins to wonder if it may not just be her heart at risk, but her life too.  

http://www.accentpress.co.uk/Book/13421/A-Spell-in-Provence.html


Saturday, 15 November 2014

NICE GIRLS DON'T... by Sue Barnard


Who knows what secrets lie hidden in your family’s past?

Southern England, 1982.

At 25, single, and under threat of redundancy from her job in a local library, Emily feels as though her life is going nowhere – until the day when Carl comes into the library asking for books about tracing family history.

Carl is baffled by a mystery about his late grandfather: why is the name by which Carl had always known him different from the name on his old passport?

Fascinated as much by Carl himself as by the puzzle he wants to solve, Emily tries to help him find the answers. As their relationship develops, their quest for the truth takes them along a complicated paper-trail which leads, eventually, to the battlefields of the Great War.

In the meantime, Emily discovers that her own family also has its fair share of secrets and lies. And old sins can still cast long shadows…

Can Emily finally lay the ghosts of the past to rest and look forward to a brighter future?

A tale of discovery, love and fate.




NICE GIRLS DON'T is available from
  


 SUE BARNARD

Sue was born in Wales some time during the last millennium.

After graduating from Durham University with a degree in French, she returned to Manchester (where she had spent her formative years) and got married, then had a variety of office jobs before leaving the world of paid employment to become a full-time parent.  If she had her way, the phrase “non-working mother” would be banned from the English language.

Sue has dabbled with writing for most of her life.  Her first success was at primary school, where she won a competition run by Cadbury’s which involved writing an essay about chocolate.  Her prize was a tin containing a selection of Cadbury’s products.  She still has the tin to this day, and keeps it as a reminder of her humble writing origins.  The chocolate is long since gone, but the tin is now home to her supply of pens and pencils.  In recent years she began to take writing more seriously and studied a series of writing courses with the Open University.  As well as having work published in Best of Manchester Poets (Volumes 2 and 3), her achievements have included winning a T-shirt for writing a limerick (which summed up the plot of Macbeth in five lines) and winning first prize in Writing Magazine’s 2013 poetry competition for new subscribers.  In 2013 she joined the editorial team of Crooked Cat Publishing, who also published her debut novel The Ghostly Father (a new interpretation of the Romeo & Juliet story) in February 2014, and her second novel Nice Girls Don’t (a romantic intrigue set in 1982) in July 2014. Sue’s mind is sufficiently warped that she has also worked as a question-setter for BBC Radio 4’s fiendishly difficult Round Britain Quiz – a phase of her life which caused one of her sons to describe her as “professionally weird.”  She lives in Cheshire and Anglesey (thought not at the same time – she isn’t THAT weird) with her husband and a large collection of unfinished scribblings. Blog: http://broad-thoughts-from-a-home.blogspot.co.uk/ PROMO BLITZ DAY 15TH NOVEMBER  

Thursday, 6 November 2014

A Spell in Provence soon to be published!

A SPELL IN PROVENCE is now available for pre-order at Accent Press. 


And here is the blurb!

With few roots in England and having just lost her job, Amy Carter decides to give up on home and start a new life in France, spending her redundancy package turning an overgrown Provençal farmhouse, Bellefontaine, into a successful hotel.

Though she has big plans for her new home, none of them involves falling in love – least of all with Fabien Coste, the handsome but arrogant owner of a nearby château.  As romance blossoms, eerie and strange happenings in Bellefontaine hint at a dark mystery of the Provençal countryside which dates back many centuries and holds an entanglement between the ladies of Bellefontaine and the ducs de Coste at its centre. As Amy works to unravel the mystery, she begins to wonder if it may not just be her heart at risk, but her life too.  

http://www.accentpress.co.uk/Book/13421/A-Spell-in-Provence.html





Friday, 17 October 2014

FORGIVING NANCY: Janice Cairns is on the blog today!

Hello Janice, and thank you very much for coming on the blog today.  First of all, I like to congratulate you on the recent release of your novel FORGIVING NANCY. This must be a very exciting time for you.

 

What did you want to be when you were a child?  Did you always know you wanted to write?
Looking back there were two occupations that rather appealed to me, one was working in a circus, maybe as an acrobat on the high wire.  I remember loving films about circuses.  The other notion I had was to be a gym instructress.  But I wouldn't say that my heart was rigidly set in either of these, these jobs were a kind of vague notion of what I'd like to do, jobs I would have embraced happily. 

No, I wouldn't say I had wanted to write from a very early age.  However, when I was around 15 or 16 years old I began to write poetry.  Then, when I was in my 20's and 30's I began to write diaries and stories.  Writing was something I naturally liked to do.  But I don't think I had in mind early on that I was going to become a writer.

 You must have been were very brave if you contemplated being an acrobat or a high wire artist. I suffer from terrible fear of heights. I can't even climb onto a stool without having palpitations (which is a good excuse for asking my husband to clean the top of the kitchen cabinets, by the way!)

Do you have a writing routine?
 I wouldn't say I had a rigid writing routine but when I have a work in progress I will add more words to it each day. I write every day.
 
I do agree with you here. It's very important to write every day and keep in touch with your characters.  What is the one thing you absolutely need to write?
 I think you need a sense of discipline.

I think you are absolutely right, once again. Some writers also need a special writing place. What about you? Do you need somewhere special to write or can you write anywhere?
I write in my front room, I find this to be the room of the house I'm most comfortable to write in.  I sit by the window where I have a lovely view of the Firth of Forth.  I find the view of the sea conducive to writing.

I would so love a writing room of my own, and a view of the sea, of course! It must be very soothing and inspiring. I am a big fan of the photos you post on Facebook. You always take such wonderful photos of Edinburgh and the nearby  coastline - not to mention of your fantastic hat collection!

Can you tell us in three words what kind of woman Nancy, the heroine of FORGIVING NANCY is?
Beautiful, spontaneous, individual.

What about Maxwell, your hero?
 Complex. Individual. Enigmatic.

That sounds like a fascinating combination - and I do love your hero's name! 
Can you tell us what you are working on at present?
The Sequel to 'Forgiving Nancy'.
 
Here is a little bit more about Janice.
Born in Ayrshire and educated at Ayr Academy, Janice Cairns has had an assortment of jobs. She's worked in child-care, law, insurance, media and creative writing. Janice lives in Edinburgh now; the city has been home to her for the last thirty years. It is here that her dream of becoming a writer is coming true. This last year, she has polished her debut novel, 'Forgiving Nancy'. She is absorbed in the marketing for this novel currently and does feel her days in advertising have helped with the marketing aspects of her being a writer today. 

In the last year or so she has also spent time developing her social media sites such as Facebook, twitter and her blog. She loves to keep these pages thriving and also is loving taking the photographs she does for her sites. Her main passion being writing, though, it is no surprise to her to find she has a second novel brewing and evolving within her. 

Already some plans are gurgling in the pipeline for what might follow ' Forgiving Nancy'. Janice's life could be described as a happy mix of active marketing for her first novel and laying some foundations for what is to come. She finds time in her busy schedule to enjoy walks at the Botanic Gardens or by the sea or even in the busy beautiful city she lives in. She has always considered her walks as important to her as she thinks these activate her creative thoughts and actually inspire her to write.

And here is the blurb for FORGIVING NANCY.
Recapture your love and his heart with Forgiving Nancy

Two marriages real bloopers, the third one is going downhill. Nancy went from just getting by to lady in a seriously wealthy household and threw it all away. Will Maxwell forgive her?

Left alone in London, finally Stella found a reason to move to Edinburgh. She tried to win Maxwell over, but to no avail. Will she find her love in the end?

One wrong decision a lifetime ago. Now Madam Melody chances upon her daughter in Edinburgh. Will she find forgiveness?

Forgiving Nancy draws pictures of rich Edinburgh and the poor parts of town. It conjures up images of scrumptious foods and homeless shelters. It weaves together the lives of people and will make you want to continue reading and, one day, visit Edinburgh and all its wonderful hotels, cafés, gardens, and, of course, the castle.

BUY LINKS

Thank you very much for coming on the blog today Janice. I do wish you the best of luck with FORGIVING NANCY!



Tuesday, 7 October 2014

A Spell in Provence: Cover Reveal!

I am delighted to have received the cover of my contemporary romantic suspense A SPELL IN PROVENCE which is shortly to be published by Accent Press!


The colours are enchanting and I can almost smell the lavender and feel the heat of the sunshine.
Thank you Accent Press for a gorgeous cover.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Blog Hop Character Interview: today, Lucas Saintclair!

Thank you very much  Edward Hoornaert, fellow MuseitUp author, for tagging me in the Meet my Character Blog Hop. You can find Edward on http://eahoornaert.com/

I am today interviewing Lucas Saintclair, the hero of my historical romance THE LION'S EMBRACE. Saintclair is taking a well-deserved rest at The Seventh Star, a tavern on the Algiers docks, after returning from yet another secret mission in the Sahara. Arms crossed on his chest, his long legs stretched out in front of him, he is reclining against the back of his chair, seemingly lost in thoughts. But as I come nearer, I can see that his piercing blue eyes never cease to scan the dark, crowded and stuffy room. As always he is on the alert for spies his enemy - Lieutenant Mortemer, from the French army - regularly sends to trap and kill him.

I hope he'll be willing to answer a few questions for the 'Meet my characters' blog hop. From what I know of the man, his answers will be brief and to the point.

Lucas, are you a fictional or a historic character?
Fictional, entirely.

When and where is the story of THE LION'S EMBRACE set?
It is set  mostly in North Africa. I grew up in Bou Saada - an oasis on the edge of the Sahara desert. This is where I learnt to become a scout -  the best in the Barbary States. I left Bou Saada five years ago. I don't know if I'll ever return. Something happened there back in 1840, something I can't forgive myself for...  
 
What should we know about you?
Believe me, the less you know, the better. For you, and for me.

I take a deep breath and wonder if he'll answer my next question.

What messes up your life at the moment?

He doesn't answer straight away but leans across the table and lights up a cheroot to the flame of a candle. He draws on his cigar, smiles a thin smile, and answers.

A woman, who else? A young, naive and irritating English woman called Harriet Montague who insists on hiring my services to lead her and her pompous fiancé to Tamanrasset where her archaeologist father was abducted by Tuaregs. I tried to tell her she won't last three days - let alone the three months we need to reach the Southern Sahara. She won't listen but offered me a small fortune, as well as a treasure map to take her...so what's a man to do?

He smiles another cynical smile and carries on.

I'll take her, of course. Or at least, I'll take her part of the way and do everything in my power to discourage her from travelling further...Then she'll beg me to send her back to Algiers, and I'll get to keep the money and the treasure map.

Poor Harriet Montague. I hope she makes it to Tamanrasset.


One last question, I ask him. Would you mind telling me what your personal goal is?

He draws on his cigar and his face disappears behind a cloud of smoke. He's taking so long to reply I'm not sure he heard me.
 
Revenge, he says at last, his voice hard.

I hold my breath. Saintclair isn't a man I'd like to cross. I can see he won't say anymore, so I'll leave him alone...

THE LION'S EMBRACE is published by MuseitUp Publishing. You can find it at http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Lions-Embrace-Marie-Laval-ebook/dp/B00BACDSK6
and http://www.amazon.com/The-Lions-Embrace-Marie-Laval-ebook/dp/B00BACDSK6



Thursday, 11 September 2014

Laura James is on the blog with Follow Me, Follow You!

I am so happy to welcome Laura James on the blog today. Laura's new novel FOLLOW ME, FOLLOW YOU is published by Choc Lit and was released on September 7th. Laura is on tour and has kindly stopped by today. Laura will be giving away a copy of her book, so please leave a comment at the bottom of the post and click on the Rafflecopter code link!

Laura is married and has two children. She lives in Dorset, but spent her formative years in Watford, a brief train ride away from the bright lights of London. Here she indulged her love of live music, and, following a spectacular Stevie Nicks gig, decided to take up singing, a passion that scored her second place in a national competition.

Laura is a graduate of the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writers’ Scheme, a member of her local writing group, Off The Cuff, and an editor of the popular Romaniacs blog.

Laura was runner-up twice in the Choc Lit Short Story competitions. Her story Bitter Sweet appears in the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Anthology. Truth or Dare?, Laura’s debut novel, was shortlisted for the Festival of Romantic Fiction Best Romantic eBook 2013 and the 2014 Joan Hessayon New Writers’ Award. Follow me, follow you is Laura’s first Choc Lit novel published in paperback.

Hello Laura and a very warm welcome. The release of FOLLOW ME, FOLLOW YOU must be an exciting time for you. What did you want to be when you were a child? Did you always know you wanted to write? 
I wanted to be a child psychologist, but sadly my maths skills were lacking. In later years, I attended a counselling skills course and trained as a youth worker.

I’ve written ever since I can remember – comics, poems, daft limericks, song lyrics ‒ my A Level essays would be considered novellas these days …

I was the same when I was growing up, always writing short stories, poetry (bad poetry I hasten to say) and was - and still is - rubbish at maths! What is the one thing you absolutely need to write?
Thinking time, followed by the chance to talk it out.

It can be hard to find thinking space but, like you, I find it a necessity. Silence too, but I don't often get any. Can you describe your writing space?
I work in the kitchen. My desk is in the corner, facing a wall, adorned with a beautiful framed Rosina Wachtmeister print of a gondola, and I believe the Rialto Bridge, in Venice. A much better use of the space than, oh, I don’t know, say cooking …

Lovely! The print must be very inspiring - not to mention the proximity of the biscuit tin (I am speaking for myself here!)

In three words, can you tell us what kind of man Chris Frampton, your hero, is?
Adventurous, impulsive, dedicated.

That sounds like a great combination. What about your heroine -Victoria Noble?
Focused, conscientious, caring.

Victoria is such a lovely name... What is your favourite part / line / dialogue in your novel?
Not quite a kiss, but a collision of colossal proportion.’

That's a great line! What was the most difficult part to write in your novel?
I struggled with the opening page. I wanted to introduce the reader to a flawed heroine, who has a strained relationship with her young son. It took many re-workings and plenty of great advice from fellow writers before I was happy with Victoria.

Many thanks for inviting me here, Marie.
You are very welcome Laura. It was a pleasure to find out more about you and FOLLOW ME, FOLLOW YOU. I wish you the very best of luck with the release of the novel.


Here is the blurb

You save me and I'll save you...
Victoria Noble has pulled the plug on romance. As director of the number one social networking site, EweSpeak, and single mother to four-year-old Seth, she wrestles with the work-life balance.
Enter Chris Frampton, Hollywood action hero and Victoria's first love. His return from LA has sparked a powder keg of media attention, and with secrets threatening to fuel the fire, he's desperate to escape.
But finding a way forward is never simple. Although his connection with Victoria is as strong as when he was nineteen, has he been adrift too long to know how to move on?
With the risk of them breaking, will either follow their heart?

And now for an excerpt:
Victoria was attempting to create the impression she was engrossed in her work. From the moment Dan collected Seth, she’d buried her head in buff-coloured files, raising it once to study her monitor. At that moment, she realised Juliette was watching her.
‘I’m all right, Joo, honestly.’ That was a lie. She was preoccupied with thoughts of Chris Frampton returning home, considering ways to stop EweSpeak’s Board of Directors from travelling a destructive path, and despairing over her non-existent relationship with her son. She grimaced. ‘Apart from the blinding headache.’
She thrust herself away from the desk and rubbed the back of her neck. Her life was too cluttered for her to make informed decisions, and too many demands were being made of her, emotionally and physically. Something had to give. ‘I could do without this stupid business with the board.’
‘Do you think they’ll go ahead?’
Victoria huffed. ‘Of course they will. They’re motivated by money. They’ll do whatever it takes to keep their bank accounts full and their fat backsides comfortable.’
‘But they have a duty of loyalty, and their report states the move will secure the future of EweSpeak—’
‘It only secures their position, Juliette. Let’s face facts. We made bad choices, electing certain members to the board. We were blinded by their past successes. They’re cut-throat businessmen with reputations to uphold.’ Victoria swung her chair round and gaped at her sister. ‘I’ll bet a year’s salary there’ll be redundancies.’
‘But if charging clients to join will increase profits—’ 
Victoria cut her off again. ‘Did you miss the bit where they proposed paying celebrities for exclusive bleats? It’s ridiculous. It won’t work. People will opt out. Our followers enjoy the personal contact, the chance to hold a discussion with like-minded souls, maybe even exchange a bleat with their idol. If it’s sensationalism they want, they’ll buy a glossy magazine, or worse, they’ll flock to our competitors. They won’t subscribe to our network.’ She shook her head. ‘It has disaster written all over it.’
‘I don’t see it. The board’s acting in the company’s best interest. We have to make money. And it’s not just their pockets they’re lining, is it?’ Juliette waved a hand in the direction of the window. ‘I don’t hear you complaining about the flashy, two-seater sports car you’ve parked in our private garage.’
Victoria reached for the remote on her desk, and switched on the TV. ‘I need a break.’ She stood, gave her arms a stretch, and walked across to the sofa, collapsing into it, irascible and frustrated. Surely Juliette wasn’t voting with the board? Victoria cast her eyes to the large screen, scoured through the programme guide, and settled on a news channel.
It was a mistake.
Wherever her eyes fell – the TV, online, mobile applications – Chris’s then thirty-five-year-old haunted face appeared, vacant, pale and broken. There was no escape from the dated footage of him being jostled out of the way of bloodthirsty, aggressive photographers or being hustled into his ranch house by burly security men. Victoria had seen the images thirty, maybe forty times in the last couple of years. Every piece of technology in her office was broadcasting his grief all over again, and each time his name was typed, bleated, or beamed across the Internet, and for every second his tormented features were on public display, Victoria was on trial. Her technology, the company, the brand she had developed and grown was helping prolong his terror. To see this beautiful man reduced to a floorshow for the cheap seats made her sick to the stomach.
She jumped at a touch to her arm.
‘Are you okay?’ Juliette took the remote from Victoria, switched off the TV, and sat down. ‘I’m sorry I called him your obsession. This must be hard for you.’
Victoria shrugged. Although she understood Juliette’s concern, she didn’t appreciate intrusion, and sharing, as her sister called it, was not Victoria’s way. There’d been far too much of that already. A small shudder ran through her. ‘It’s complicated,’ she said, hoping a few words, regardless of content, would appease Juliette.

You can find Laura at:


Book Trailer
 http://youtu.be/wWrG6tXmsIY


The Giveaway on this tour will be a paperback copy of the book.

RAFFLECOPTER CODE
http://www.rafflecopter.com/ rafl/display/4be030176/ http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/4be030176/

Saturday, 6 September 2014

When inspiration strikes!

I always seem to have lots of ideas for plots and characters swirling in my head, but with a full-time job and an inability to write two different stories simultaneously, it often feels more like a curse than a blessing.

I often find that inspiration for a new story strikes when I least expect it, for example when I'm driving and I see an unusual name on a road sign or a map - a name which is almost a story in itself, or when I am sitting in a café or a restaurant and overhear a few words of people's conversation, or even just when I'm having a walk alone around the reservoir near where I live...In the past I have also found ideas in poems and songs, in a piece of classical music or a painting, in a dream even!

Places are a great source of inspiration too, but it's not always the obvious that can be inspiring. I recently visited Bordeaux in the South West of France. It's a beautiful town, with quaint old buildings, narrow cobbled streets and tiny squares with picturesque cafés.

I loved walking along the river Garonne between the town's new bridge and its old 'Pont de Pierre' - Bordeaux' famous stone bridge.
Moored between the massive river cruise ships full of tourists was a small, decrepit, abandoned boat with a very unusual figurehead.

I knew straight away I had found something very special but I didn't quite know what exactly until tonight when I was chatting about Bordeaux with my daughter. She said something about that poor old boat, left to rust along the quays. We started talking about who it could belong to, why it was empty...and suddenly an almost fully formed plot and cast of characters emerged in my mind. I hurried to jolt everything down, and a few minutes later, I even had the opening sentences of the novel and the title too!

Now I am so excited I can't wait to get started on this new story - it's just like going on a new adventure. I do however have another romance novel to finish first.

What about you?

How do you get your inspiration for a story, and what was the most unusual way you found ideas for a novel? I'd love to hear from you.


Sunday, 17 August 2014

Isabelle Eberhardt: Dreamer, Nomad, Writer...And inspiration...

My friends and the people who have read my stories know that I was always fascinated by North Africa. My mother was born and brought up in Algiers. She was from a French, Spanish and Italian background and had a very colourful family (to say the least!). She left Algeria during the war of Independence in 1962, never to return, but her wonderful stories about the places and people of her childhood always made the place special for my sisters and I.
My grandparents' house in Suffren, near Algiers which was shared with two other families
As a teenager I read many novels and short stories which were set there. I particularly loved 'Bivouacs sous la Lune' by Frison-Roche for his beautiful tales of the Sahara and its lost kingdoms.

Maxime Noiré Les marchands arabes à Biskra
And then I discovered Isabelle Eberhardt and fell under the spell of her short stories, which brought the tastes, smells and landscapes of North Africa to life. Her often tragic characters were unforgettable. Her writing was neat, precise, simple but incredibly powerful and transported me to a bazaar in a small town of the M'zab, or along the steep, narrow alleyways of the Algiers Kasbah, or again across the magnificent wilderness of the Saharan plains.

I was also intrigued by her as a person because her life is definitely a case of reality being more fascinating than fiction. Like Alexandra David-Neel who travelled to Tibet and converted to Buddhism, Odette du Puigaudeau in Mauritania, or again Ella Maillart in Asia, Isabelle was one of the very first Twentieth century women who travelled alone - and relished the adventure and the solitude.

'For those who know the value of and exquisite taste of solitary freedom (for one is only free when alone), the act of leaving is the bravest and most beautiful of all.'



Isabelle Eberhardt: 'A nomad I will remain for life, in love with distant and uncharted places.'

Isabelle was born in Geneva in 1877, the illegitimate daughter of Natalia, the widow of a former aide de camp to the Russian tsar Alexander II, and a Ukrainian scholar - an anarchist, according to some. Although her family was shunned by Geneva's polite society, Isabelle was well educated and spoke French, Russian, Italian, German as well as Greek, Latin and Arabic.

From a young age she dreamt of adventure in far away lands, North Africa especially, where two of her brothers joined the Foreign Legion. She was twenty when she travelled to Bône in Algeria, where she lived with her mother and converted to Islam. After her mother's death, she started travelling extensively across Algeria, alone, dressed as a man and under the name Si Mahmoud Saadi. 


'Je suis seul, et je rêve' (I am alone, and I dream). 

It's interesting to see that she writes about herself as a man (by using the masculine form of 'seul'). Dressing up and living as a man allowed her freedoms which would have been denied to her as a woman - the freedom to travel or have access to zouaias (islamic religious schools), taverns and brothels.

In 1901 she married Slimane Ehnni, a spahi - a soldier from the French colonial army's light cavalry regiments, but her life was cut tragically short by a flash flood in Ain Sefra in October 1904. She was only 27 when she died.
'Oued dans une oasis' by Maxime Noiré, to whom Isabelle dedicated her story 'Pleurs d'Amandiers'  1903 ('Weeping Almond Trees')
I can't resist posting this beautiful painting by Maxime Noiré, 'the painter of horizons on fire and weeping almond trees'. Actually it sounds better in French: 'Le peintre des horizons en feu et des amandiers en pleurs'.

And what about this extract of one of her short stories set in Bou Saada - the Saharan oasis nicknamed 'the city of happiness' which was well-known to Hugo and Lucas Saintclair, the heroes of my historical romances ANGEL HEART and THE LION'S EMBRACE.

'Bou-Saada, la reine fauve vêtue de ses jardins obscurs et gardée par ses collines violettes, dort, voluptueuse, au bord escarpé de l'oued où l'eau bruisse sur les cailloux blancs et roses.' Isabelle Eberhardt, Pleurs d'amandiers, 1903

I won't even attempt to translate this into English!

North Africa and my mother's childhood stories also inspired me to write short stories, one of them was published in Accent Press' SHIVER anthology last October. I find the mix of cultures and popular beliefs fascinating. Berber, Arab, Spanish, Italian, French  - brought their own superstitions. But that will be for another post....


 http://www.amazon.co.uk/Shiver-collection-halloween-stories-best-selling-ebook/dp/B00O9VKGJG/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8


What about you? Who was the writer who influenced you the most and made you dream?





Saturday, 16 August 2014

GOLD MEDAL for THE LION'S EMBRACE

Just received this email this morning and it made me very, very happy!

Congratulations Marie Laval for winning in the Gold Medal in the 2014 Global ebooks Awards Fiction - Romance (Historical) category for The Lion's Embrace. 
Thank you so much to my publisher Lea Schizas at MuseitUp Publishing, my editors Nancy Bell and Julie Lynn Hayes, and Charlotte Volnek for the beautiful cover!


http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Lions-Embrace-Marie-Laval-ebook/dp/B00BACDSK6

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Historical Romances for Summer

Thanks to my publisher, MuseitUp Publishing, my two historical romances ANGEL HEART and THE LION'S EMBRACE will be available at the special price of £0.77 or $0.99 this weekend, ending on Sunday 27th July. You can buy either from MuseitUp or from Amazon by clicking and following the link or simply click on the covers on the right-hand side bar!

ANGEL HEART
A mysterious Templar relic. A web of intrigue and lies. A woman about to lose her heart.

Super Weekend $0.99 BUZZ Deal…
Angel Heart by Marie Laval
Historical Romance
Now ONLY $0.99 until midnight Sunday, July 27

“Angel Heart by Marie Laval is a stunning piece of historical romantic suspense, exquisitely written and lovingly told, against the backdrop of the close of the Napoleonic era in France.” 5 star review

“The book is well written and detailed. There are a lot of unsavory, devious characters and many secrets for Marie-Ange to find out. Secrets about who her father really is, secrets about what really happened to her mother, and secrets about why everyone wanted to possess the Cross of Life.” 4 star review

“If you enjoy a good romance, mystery, fantasy, and history ANGEL HEART fits the bill. ANGEL HEART kept my interest with the ending pages being the best part with a good deal of tension and intrigue.” 4 star review

 and MuseItUp Publishing

THE LION'S EMBRACE
Passions, lost treasures and deadly secrets in the heart of the Sahara...
Super Weekend $0.99 BUZZ Deal…

The Lion’s Embrace by Marie Laval
Historical Romance
Now ONLY $0.99 until midnight Sunday, July 27

“The Lion's Embrace by Marie Laval is a wonderful exploration of a lost world - the desert state ruled by an unsympathetic colonial power. It's also a powerful romance with two engaging central characters: Harriet Montague and Lucas Saintclair.” 5 star review

Exotic locations, steamy romance, intrigue, and tons of action. This story will have you on the edge of your seat and anxious for each turn of the page.” 5 star review

Excellent read!” 5 star review


and MuseItUp Publishing