The Romance Reviews

The Romance Reviews

A Spell in Provence

A Spell in Provence

Saturday, 26 December 2015

The Blue Men of the Minch

I really enjoyed reading tales and legends from Scotland whilst researching for my historical romantic trilogy DANCING FOR THE DEVIL, which is mostly set in the far north of the Highlands.

In Book 1 of the Trilogy - THE DREAM CATCHER - my heroine's first experience of Scotland is a terrible storm as her ship sails through the Minch - the body of water stretching between the north-west Highlands, the northern Inner Hebrides and the Outer Hebrides.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay
Folklore tells of a tribe of supernatural sea creatures who inhabited these waters - the Blue Men of the Minch. Partly human and partly mermen, they had blue skin and used to swim alongside ships and try to lure sailors into the water. They also had the ability to conjure storms and wreck ships, but interestingly they spared sailors who had a talent for poetry...

They were said to live in caves at the bottom of the sea but their sentinel were always on the look out and alerted the others when a ship was sailing through the Minch. The chief of the Blue Men then gathered his men, ready for the attack. Before attacking the ship he would rise high in the water and shout to the skipper two lines of poetry. If the skipper was unable to respond immediately by adding two lines to complete the verse, the Blue Men would take the ship and drag it down to the bottom of the sea. If the skipper could complete the verse, his ship would be allowed to carry on safely.

Here is a traditional boatman's song about the Blue Men.

Here is a boatman's song about the Blue Men:

When the tide is at the turning and the wind is fast asleep,
And not a wave is curling on the wide, blue deep,
Oh, the waters will be churning in the stream that never smiles,
Where the Blue Men are splashing round the charmèd isles.


As the summer wind goes droning o'er the sun-bright seas,
And the Minch is all a-dazzle to the Hebrides,
They will skim along like salmon--you can see their shoulders gleam,
And the flashing of their fingers in the Blue Men's Stream.


But when the blast is raving and the wild tide races,
The Blue Men are breast-high with foam-grey faces;
They'll plunge along with fury while they sweep the spray behind,
Oh, they'll bellow o'er the billows and wail upon the wind.


And if my boat be storm-toss'd and beating for the bay,
They'll be howling and be growling as they drench it with the spray--
For they'd like to heel it over to their laughter when it lists,
Or crack the keel between them, or stave it with their fists.


Oh, weary on the Blue Men, their anger and their wiles!
The whole day long, the whole night long, they're splashing round the isles;
They'll follow every fisher--ah! they'll haunt the fisher's dream--
When billows toss, Oh, who would cross the Blue Men's Stream!


(taken from http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/celt/tsm/tsm08.htm)

So where does the legend of the Blue Men of the Minch come from?
The obvious explanation is of course that the Blue Men are in fact not magical creatures at all, but porpoises which are often seen in the seas around Scotland.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay
Historians also suggest two other possibilities. Firstly, the tales of Blue Men may refer to the ancient Picts who used to paint their body and may have used kayak-like boats to cross the waters of the Minch, therefore giving the impression that they were only half human.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay
Another explanation links the Blue Men to the time of the Vikings who around the 9th century took Moors captured in North Africa to Ireland to be slaves. The Vikings spent winter months near the Shiant Isles in the Minch, and some historians believe the blue men are in fact "marooned foreign slaves" (Mackenzie (2013), loc. 1391). More specifically, these Moors may be Tuaregs, who were always called the 'Blue Men of the Desert' owing to their indigo clothing and headscarves.
 
Then again, they might just be magical merfolk...

THE DREAM CATCHER is available from http://www.amazon.co.uk/Dream-Catcher-Dancing-Devil-Book-ebook-y/dp/B017D73N0Q/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Friday, 11 December 2015

CALLIE'S CHRISTMAS COUNTDOWN by Julie Ryan

I am delighted to welcome Julie Ryan today to talk about her writing and her novel CALLIE'S CHRISTMAS COUNDOWN. There is a great giveaway at the end of this post, so don't miss out!

Hello Julie, what can you tell us about you?
I’ve always had a love of languages so after studying French at University I went off to live in Greece, spent a year in Thailand and then started a language school in Poland. I now live in rural Gloucestershire with a husband, young son and two cats but draw on my travels for inspiration in my writing.

We have been renovating our run-down property for ten years now and I can’t wait until I have a study of my own. Actually, I’d settle for having a room that is finished! I usually end up writing on the dining room table.

When not writing I can be found reading or blogging and I am a keen member of our local amateur dramatic group, taking part in the annual panto – Oh yes I am!

How lovely to hear that you love languages and that you speak French. C'est merveilleux! And how exciting to set up a language school in Poland. You certainly have led the life of a globetrotter!

What did you want to be when you were a child? Did you always know you wanted to write? 
I’ve always loved writing and as a child wrote little sketches for my friend and I to perform. I never thought of it as a career though. In primary school I fancied myself as a musician, then as an actress before finally becoming a teacher. It’s only in later life that I’ve found the right moment to fulfil my dream of becoming a writer.

I know this is a difficult question, but I am always fascinated to find out how other writers get ideas for their stories, so I must ask... Where do you get your inspiration from, Julie?
It can be a line from a song or something heard on the radio. I take inspiration from anywhere, as I think everything in life influences you; all the books I’ve ever read, all the people I’ve ever met all play a part.

It's true that anything can trigger an idea!

Can you tell us about CALLIE'S CHRISTMAS COUNTDOWN?
‘Callie’s Christmas Countdown’ is a short novel with a feel good factor. It’s humourous and just the thing to dip into when you need a break from all the festivities. Callie wants everyone to have a good Christmas and puts everyone else first. For the perfect Christmas, she has to get her divorced parents talking, sort out her flatmates lives and as a wedding planner organise the best Christmas Eve wedding ever for a client. In doing so, however, it means that she’s likely to end up spending Christmas alone.

What are you working on at the moment?
I’ve just finished my first Christmas story. I’ve been working on it for the last two years. It really shouldn’t have taken so long but I’ve got about four WIP at the moment. There might be a fourth book in the Greek Island mystery series, I’m working on a cosy mystery set locally plus a couple of other ideas. I don’t know which one will win but I’ll go with whichever seems to be pulling me the most.

Locations are very important in my writing. What about you? How do you pick the location for a story?
I think the locations just pick me. For the Greek mysteries the setting is an amalgamation of several islands I’ve visited, mainly because I loved them all and couldn’t decide which one I preferred. This way I get to choose the best bits from them all.

For the Christmas novel I decided to set in close to where I live. There’s always room for artistic impression though!

What comes first when you are thinking of a new story - the plot or the characters?
It depends. Sometimes I have only the vaguest idea of a plot and a couple of characters. It’s only when I start writing that other characters suddenly appear and drive the plot forward. Sometimes it all starts with a novel title and takes off from there. Either way I just love the idea of creating something from absolutely nothing. Try as I might I can’t plot out a whole book. I think that even as the author I need to have that element of surprise myself to keep me guessing.

I am just the same, Julie! What was your best ever moment as a writer?
The moment I hit publish on my first novel was pretty awesome. Getting my first five star review also left me on a high but I guess the absolute best moment was holding the paperback copy of my first book. That is such a special moment and I couldn’t stop stroking it. It made me feel like a ‘proper’ author as I can now add my own book to my bookshelf.

Thank you very much!

You are welcome, Julie. I wish you good luck with your novel.

Blurb
Callie is an event planner, organising weddings and corporate parties. What she'd really love however, is to organise the perfect Christmas. How difficult can it be after all? She simply needs to get her divorced parents talking to each other, sort out a Christmas Eve wedding for the daughter of a millionaire and wait for her hunky, rich boyfriend to propose. What could possibly go wrong?
 

BUY LINKS



About Julie Ryan
Julie was born and brought up in a mining village near Barnsley in South Yorkshire. She graduated with a BA (hons) in French Language and Literature from Hull University. Since then she has lived and worked as a Teacher of English as a Foreign Language in France, Greece, Poland and Thailand. She now lives in rural Gloucestershire with her husband, son and two cats, a rescue cat and a dippy cat with half a tail.  She is so passionate about books that her collection is now threatening to outgrow her house, much to her husband’s annoyance, as she can’t bear to get rid of any! They have been attempting to renovate their home for the last ten years.

She is the author of the Greek Island Mystery series, Jenna’s Journey, Sophia’s Secret and Pandora’s Prophecy, each of which can be read as a standalone. She considers Greece to be her spiritual home and visits as often as she can.


Twitter  @julieryan18


 
GIVEAWAY

1.£5.00 amazon giftcard uk OR $10.00 paypal int

2. ebook Callie's Christmas Countdown

 
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Sunday, 15 November 2015

Tin Hinan, the Tuareg Queen

My historical romance THE LION'S EMBRACE, which was published by Áccent Press last August, is mostly set in North Africa in 1845. The heroine, Harriet Montague, hires scout Lucas Saintclair to rescue her father, an archaeologist who she believes has been taken hostage in the far South of Algeria. Harriet's father, Oscar Montague, was on the trail of the legendary Garamantes' emerald mines when he discovered the tomb of Tuareg queen Tin Hinan.

I absolutely loved researching the many legends and tales associated with this mysterious queen who is said to have founded the Tuaregs.

Tin Hinan, the queen the Tuaregs still call ‘Our Mother’, is rumoured to have come from the country which would now be Morocco with her maid servant Takamat. They settled at Abalessa, an oasis in Southern Algeria, and their daughters are rumoured to be the founders of all the Tuareg tribes. Her tomb was discovered by archaeologist and adventurer Byron Khun de Prorok (what a name!) in 1925.

In ‘The Lion’s Embrace’, I have used my 'artistic licence' in that Oscar Montague discovers the tomb in 1845 but it is then closed up and left untouched.

However, I kept all the details of the artefacts, of the gold, silver jewellery, precious and semi-precious stones which were found as accurate as possible and stuck very closely to the description of the remains of the Tuareg queen.

When her burial chamber was opened, archaeologists found the queen lying on a bed of hand-carved wood, facing toward the East. She was wrapped in a leather shroud, and wore fifteen solid silver and gold bracelets, a diadem made of emeralds, ostrich feathers and a long cornelian necklace.

In the days before carbon dating, it was the imprint of a coin with the effigy of Emperor Constantine on a sculptured bowl which enabled historians to date the tomb from the 4th century AD. The body of Queen Tin Hinan as well as all the artefacts found in her tomb are now in the Bardo Museum in Algiers.

From the top of the tomb, one can see the beautiful, mysterious Hoggar mountain range, particularly the great Koudia – which the Tuareg have named the ‘Roof of the Sahara’, and where according to local legends, the King of the Djins (the King of the Evil Spirits) lives. One can see the iconic Mount Illiman too.

Even before her tomb was discovered, the numerous legends surrounding Queen Tin Hinan inspired Pierre Benoit to write his classic novel ‘Atlantide’, published in 1919. His heroin, Antinea, and her followers are descendants of the people of ‘Atlantis’ who had taken refuge in the Hoggar after a great disaster destroyed their world. Antinea lives in a palace hidden in the mountains, where she seduced and entrapped lost explorers to the Sahara.


Recently there has been some controversy about the identify of the woman who was buried at Abalessa, with some historians now disputing that the remains belonged to Tin Hinan at all!

Whoever was buried there however was a woman of immense prestige and immense wealth.

Friday, 13 November 2015

Guest Blog by Jenny Kane - Christmas at the Castle: Festive Literary Festival Fun!

Today, I am delighted to welcome multi-talented author Jenny Kane whose latest release, CHRISTMAS AT THE CASTLE, is published by Accent Press.

Hello Jenny and welcome. I was very interested in your post about the Tiverton Literary Festival, all the more than I am shortly to take part in a literary festival with Helena Fairfax and Melinda Hammond in Todmorden, Yorkshire on 21th November.

By the way, I love the cover of your novel!

Last June I took part in one of the most stressful experiences ever devised to part writer-kind from his or her wits. I helped to run a literary festival- the first ever Tiverton Literary Festival. I have long suspected I'm a bit crackers- but taking on an organisational role on a festival committee that only consisted of three people, was the final proof of my insanity.

Furthermore- despite the worry, the sleepless nights, the panic, the very real fear that no one would turn up to hear our wonderful authors speak- I loved it. I loved every single terrifyingly panic making minute of it. I guess it's the timid writer person's equivalent to riding a rollercoaster.

I gained a great deal from my experience as a literary festival organiser, rather than as a literary festival guest, and I certainly confirmed my theory that everything we do in life has a story attached. Every day in Tiverton during the three month run up to last June’s Literary Festival, threw up a new 'incident' that had a storyline running right through it!

What a waste it would have been not to use some of these 'incidents' in my next book? It would have been a crime! And so, for this Christmas's 'Another Cup of...' series novella, I have taken the character of Kit Lambert out of the comfort of Pickwicks Coffee Shop in Richmond, London, and sent her off to a literary festival, not in Devon, but in the beautiful Crathes Castle in Scotland.

 Blurb

Christmas at the Castle is a seasonal treat from Jenny Kane, featuring much-loved characters from her bestselling novel Another Cup of Coffee.
When hotshot businesswoman Alice Warren is asked to organise a literary festival at beautiful Crathes Castle in Scotland, her ‘work mode’ persona means she can’t say no – even though the person asking is her ex, Cameron Hunter.
Alice broke Cameron’s heart and feels she owes him one – but her best friend Charlie isn’t going to like it. Charlie – aka famous author Erin Spence – is happy to help Alice with the festival…until she finds out that Cameron’s involved! Charlie suffered a bad case of unrequited love for Cameron, and she can’t bear the thought of seeing him again.
Caught between her own insecurities and loyalty to her friend, Charlie gets fellow author Kit Lambert to take her place. Agreeing to leave her London comfort zone – and her favourite corner in Pickwicks Café – Kit steps in. She quickly finds herself not just helping out, but hosting a major literary event, while also trying to play fairy godmother – a task which quickly gets very complicated indeed...

***
I chose to set my fictional literary festival in the Deeside area of Scotland because it is one of my favourite places in the country. It was while I lived in the village of Banchory, only three miles from Crathes castle, that I began my career as a writer 11 years ago. I remember thinking at the time, that the castle would be an excellent place for a literary festival...

 Extract-
...Hoisting up a large box of Christmas decorations, Cameron headed off to find a couple of gardeners, and a very long ladder. It was time to start getting the Victorian-style lanterns draped around the formal garden.

Alice swore under her breath. She wasn’t used to being denied what she wanted during business transactions. She’d worn an extra-short skirt as well. OK, so she knew that flashing a bit of leg in such a cold climate made her request look a bit desperate, but she was still surprised when the local bookshop owner had said no.

Honestly! All she was asking was that he’d buy a selection of books written by all the authors coming to the festival. She wasn’t offering him any financial help, but obviously all the sales money would be his, and she wasn’t going to charge him for the stand at the castle she was proposing he sold his stock from. She was doing him a huge favour, and the chance to boost his Christmas sales. What was wrong with the man? All the city bookshops made this system work.

Turning her Suzuki off-roader into the drive that wound its way up to Crathes Castle, Alice’s satisfied smile returned as she reflected how her flirty magic had worked so much better on the local catering companies and wine merchants. Letting her have goods on sale or return in exchange for sponsorship meant she had a boot full of champagne, red and white wine, and enough ingredients for mulled wine to keep everyone tipsy until July.

Pulling into the staff car park, Alice was surveying the immediate grounds for any willing helpers to carry the crates of alcohol into the storeroom for her, when Cameron came out of the castle’s side door, his arms wrapped around a giant cardboard box.

Lucky box. Alice couldn’t prevent the flutter of lust that rose within her. It was always the same whenever she saw Cameron, with his thick, muscular arms on display to the elbows, his tightly curled ginger hair cropped back army style, and his sturdy frame so strong and capable. She fancied him something rotten, and more – much more – but the fact he wanted more from her as well frightened her to death. And as being afraid was a sign of weakness, and powerful businesswomen did not have time for weakness in their lives, Alice had kept her feelings a secret and walked away.

She was fairly sure she’d broken his heart, but Cameron had never actually said so, and she certainly wasn’t going to act on her lust-fuelled imagination and ask him outright. Anyway, she’d broken her own heart as well, even though he didn’t know that.

Picking up a box of wine, Alice called across the empty car park, ‘Cameron, where do you want the festival booze? Any handy chaps around to help me unload the Jeep?’

Whirling around, Cameron crashed the side of the lanterns box against the solid wooden door that he’d been in process of swinging shut behind him. ‘Damn it, woman, you made me jump.’

‘Sorry. It’s just these are heavy.’ Alice fluttered her eyebrows at him, unable to stop herself from flirting in the line of duty.

‘And I suppose you think this box is feather-light!’ Cameron tried not to glance at Alice’s long, bare legs or ask if she was freezing as he put down his own box and took hers. ‘Over here. I’ve cleared a space in the store of the Horsemill, seeing as that’s where the festival will be mostly taking place.’

Managing to make the words ‘Sounds sensible’ sound like ‘Thank you,’ Alice picked up another box and followed Cameron into the round stone building where once horses had walked in never-ending circles, turning the millstones that had crushed oats. Now the building housed a restaurant and seminar facility. It was the perfect place for a book festival, and once the staff had finished decorating it with traditional garlands and trees from the wood, it would be the very essence of a Scottish Christmas.

Desperate to break the silence that hung between them, Cameron asked how the festival preparations were going.

‘Great. There’s one or two problems to overcome, but there always are with events like this.’

‘Have we sold many tickets?’

‘Not yet. I find it’s always last-minute with bookish things.’

Sensing evasion, Cameron risked his blood pressure increasing and studied Alice properly, ‘My future depends on this Alice. How many tickets, roughly, have been sold for each event?’

‘Approximately none at all.’

‘What!’

‘Keep your kilt on, Cameron. We have ages yet.’ Alice mentally crossed her fingers against the lie she was telling. ‘Literary festivals are always last minute.’

Cameron’s forehead knotted attractively as he stared down at Alice’s shorter frame, his Scottish burr sounding gruff as he asked, ‘and the other problems?’

‘Local bookshop owner is being difficult and my right-hand girl has walked out on me.’

Opening a vast cooling cupboard in which to place the champagne, Cameron said, ‘I can’t imagine John at the bookshop being difficult?’

‘He doesn’t run it any more. John passed it on to his nephew. Believe me, he is a very different kettle of fish.’

Cameron grunted, ‘You mean he wants to make a profit and not a loss?’ Not giving Alice the chance to reply, he went on, ‘So you’ve upset the new bookshop guy. Nice going, Ms Warren...’

 ***

If that mini extract has whetted your appetite, you can buy Christmas at the Castle from -

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Christmas-at-Castle-Jenny-Kane-ebook/dp/B015J87DTI/ref=sr_1_2?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1442588560&sr=1-2&keywords=christmas+at+the+castle

Although this is the fourth book in the Another Cup of series, Christmas at the Castle can be read as a standalone story.

Many thanks,
Jenny xx

Bio-
Jenny Kane is the author the contemporary romance Christmas at the Castle (Accent Press, 2015), the bestselling novel Abi’s House (Accent Press, 2015), the modern/medieval time slip novel Romancing Robin Hood (Accent Press, 2014), the bestselling novel Another Cup of Coffee (Accent Press, 2013), and its novella length sequels Another Cup of Christmas (Accent Press, 2013), and Christmas in the Cotswolds (Accent, 2014). Jenny’s fourth full length romance novel, Another Glass of Champagne, will be published in 2016.
Jenny is also the author of quirky children’s picture books There’s a Cow in the Flat (Hushpuppy, 2014) and Ben’s Biscuit Tin (Coming soon from Hushpuppy)
Keep your eye on Jenny’s blog at www.jennykane.co.uk for more details.
Twitter- @JennyKaneAuthor
Facebook -https://www.facebook.com/JennyKaneRomance?ref=hl 
Jenny also writes erotica as Kay Jaybee.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Cover Reveal for DREAM CATCHER

Getting the cover for your latest novel is a very special moment indeed, and I was both a little apprehensive and excited yesterday when I opened the email from my editor with the photo of the cover for my historical romance DREAM CATCHER, which will be released on November 26th by Áccent Press.
 
The story is set in the winter of 1847 near Cape Wrath, in the far North of Scotland, and opens with a terrible storm at sea. As it turned out, I had absolutely no reason to feel apprehensive at all! I think that the cover artist has managed to capture both the atmosphere and harsh Scottish landscapes, and the lovely, sunny personality of the heroine.
 
What do you think?

Here is the blurb for the novel.
DREAM CATCHER
Can her love heal his haunted heart?
Cape Wrath, Scotland, November 1847.
Bruce McGunn is a man as brutal and unforgiving as his land in the far North of Scotland. Discharged from the army where he was known as the claymore devil, haunted by the spectres of his fallen comrades and convinced he is going mad, he is running out of time to save his estate from the machinations of Cameron McRae, heir to the McGunn's ancestral enemies. When the clipper carrying McRae’s new bride is caught in a violent storm and docks at Wrath harbour, Bruce decides to revert to the old ways and hold the clipper and the woman to ransom. However, far from the spoilt heiress he expected, Rose is genuine, funny and vulnerable - a ray of sunshine in the long, harsh winter that has become his life.
But Rose is determined to escape Wrath and its proud master - the man she calls McGlum.
DREAM CATCHER is the first of the DANCING FOR THE DEVIL trilogy and is followed by BLUE BONNETS and SWORD DANCE.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

We'd Rather Be Writing! (than cooking, ironing, cleaning...)

I am very happy and proud to be one of the 88 authors included in this great book!

WE'D RATHER BE WRITING is a cookbook with a difference and is now available for pre-order from http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01638N5PO/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B01638N5PO&linkCode=as2&tag=loiswins-20&linkId=MQVE6BQSWYFAUO5X 

Have you ever wished you could find more time to do the things you want to do, rather than just doing the things you have to do? Most authors juggle day jobs and family responsibilities along with their writing. Because they need to find time to write, they look for ways to save time in other aspects of their lives.

Cooking often takes up a huge chunk of time. In We’d Rather Be Writing: 88 Authors Share Timesaving Dinner Recipes and Other Tips you’ll find easy, nutritious recipes for meat, poultry, pasta, soup, stew, chili, and vegetarian meals. All of the recipes require a minimum of prep time, freeing you up to read, exercise, garden, craft, write, spend more time with family, or whatever.

Within the pages of We’d Rather Be Writing: 88 Authors Share Timesaving Dinner Recipes and Other Tips you’ll be introduced to authors who write a wide range of fiction—everything from mystery to romance to speculative fiction to books for children, young adults, and new adults—and some who write nonfiction. Some of the authors write sweet; others write steamy. Some write cozy; others write tense thrillers.

Some are debut authors with only one published book; others are multi-published and have had long publishing careers. Some are New York Times and USA Today bestselling authors who may or may not be familiar to you, but being a bestselling author doesn’t mean they still don’t have to juggle their day job along with their writing.

The authors who contributed to this book are a rather creative and resourceful bunch when it comes to carving out time from their busy lives. So in addition to timesaving recipes, within the pages of this book you’ll find timesaving and organizational tips for other aspects of your life. And if you happen to be a writer, you’ll also find a plethora of great ideas to help you organize your writing life.


 I hope you will enjoy this book! I know I am looking forward to learning great time-saving tips and discovering delicious new recipes.

 



Thursday, 17 September 2015

Can you speak camel?

It's amazing what you find out when you write a novel! While researching the background and setting of my historical romance THE LION'S EMBRACE, I came across fascinating material about North Africa - enchanting Tuareg poems and legends, accounts of expeditions in the Sahara, beautiful photos of the most breathtaking scenery...and this fabulous snippet of information about camels, taken from the anthology 'Contes et Légendes du Niger' by Pierre-Marie Decoudras and Laurence Rivaille and published by Karthala, Paris.
 
Why was I so interested in camels? Because much of the story is set in Southern Algeria where my hero Lucas Saintclair takes the heroine Harriet Montague in the hope of finding her missing father. On the way, they encounter danger and treason, adventure and passion - it is a romance after all! They also hook up with a Tuareg tribe to travel to Tamanrasset, and Harriet gets to find out a little about the nomads' way of life.


Image courtesy of Photokanok at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Camels aren't only essential to local tribes as a means of transport. They are also companions and 'an inexhaustible source of information'[1]. Not only do they know where to find pastures and water holes, but they also warn their owners of dangers and trouble ahead. Some nomads even claim that their camel can talk!

Here are a few examples recorded by the authors. When a camel walks around the campsite several times at dawn then kneels down in front of its master's tent and grunts, it is warning about unwelcome visitors. When it stands looking to the East sniffing the air for several hours, it announces a storm. And if a camel refuses to stand up whilst being harnessed, it's a sign that its owner shouldn't travel that day, but stay in his tent and drink tea.

I completely empathise with that camel. I often feel like that in the morning too!

 

 




[1] 'Contes et Légendes du Niger', Pierre-Marie Decoudras et Laurence Rivaille, Editions Karthala, Paris

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Elaine Violette's Regencies


I am delighted to welcome another great romance writer today - Elaine Violette.

Hello Marie and thank you for inviting me to your blog!  What a lovely place to visit and share my two recent Regency Romance Kindle releases, Regal Reward on August 27th and A Convenient Pretense on September 1st. 

Can you tell us about your novels?

       I’d love to tell you about both.

In Regal Reward, my hero, York Blackstone, is virile, reckless, and obsessed. He lived as the privileged first son of an Earl until his father is falsely accused of treason, imprisoned, and his family tossed to the streets of London. As a mere child, he turns to thievery to live and care for his grieving mother and sickly younger brother. His inherited aristocratic bearing makes him a leader in his world of thieves. He becomes obsessed with clearing his father’s name, reclaiming the title and lands lost, and making the villain who destroyed his family pay for his misdeeds. His ruthless occupation as a highwayman, leads him, one night, to discover the beautiful Lady Marielle Henley asleep in the woods with her dog Beatrice and her newborn pups. He is disbelieving of his find. What is a prim and proper miss doing asleep against and old Oak tree in the dead of night with only a dog and her brood? Fearful, but defiant, Marielle struggles with her captor who tosses his prim package on his horse with her bundle of squirming animals and steals her away to his seclude cottage.  York won’t let his captive’s allure turn him from his goal when he realizes he can use her as a pawn in his vengeance.
 
Regal Reward can be purchased on Amazon at http://amzn.com/B013TRQ9C8.

 In A Convenient Pretense, my second Regency release, my lovely heroine, Emily Grace, is independent, stubborn, and a self-declared poetess. I enjoyed being able to include a bit of poetry as she sits and ponders her craft. Emily observed her father and mother’s failed marriage and has chosen a single life much to her widowed father’s dismay. Here’s a snippet of an opening poem which is a self-proclamation of her views on marriage.

          Foolish is a maiden who sets her heart a flight    

   With dreams of wedded bliss that surely lead to strife.

         She might best consider a single life…

 
When her father forces her to go to London for the Season, she must obey.  Aunt Delia is given the task of finding her niece a suitable husband. Her aunt’s best friend Agatha has been anxious to find her disinclined nephew, Lord Marcus Deming, a suitable wife. The two spirited aunts conspire together and set up a meeting. When Emily and Marcus are introduced, Emily can’t deny her attraction to his startling good looks but she refuses to be drawn in to his charm.  When she discovers that Marcus has an aversion to marriage, she boldly suggests a convenient pretense of courtship. He agrees it will save them both from their aunts’ badgering and their parade of candidates. Emily didn’t expect to fall in love with her collaborator. Little does she know when she escapes London and returns home, a more sinister pretense is afoot, one that will destroy her family.  Only Marcus, the man she’s run from, can untangle the deception. Are Emily and Marcus too much alike to realize they belong together? 
 
A Convenient Pretense is available on Amazon at http://amzn.com/B014Q1EKU4

Both novels sound absolutely wonderful. Just the kind of stories I love to read! I need - but rarely get - quiet to write. What about you? What is the one thing you absolutely need to write?

          An empty house is best when I’m typing away and inventing characters and plots. My writing space is a bedroom turned into an office. Only the occasional interruption from my husband, wondering if I’m still alive, breaks my concentration.  I need total quiet when I’m writing though I do miss my dear Cocker Spaniel’s breathing when she used to be stretched out on the rug by my chair. She passed away and I still haven’t convinced my dear husband to rescue another pet.  I’m working on it.

I'm sorry to hear that, Elaine. We do get very attached to pets. They make wonderful companions...

What are you working on at the moment?

Presently I’m polishing up my fourth Historical Romance. The Journal of Narcissa Dunn is a departure from my previous books. It takes place in New England and has inspirational elements.  The idea of this story came from a walk in a cemetery a few years back.  I read the epitaph of a girl that passed away at eighteen in 1808. I never forgot it. Once I finished my third novel, I knew my story for her had to be written.   I look forward to its release in a few months. 

Another great read I musn't miss!

And now for the word association fun test!

           Pick 5? Here are flash responses.

                   Day -         Sunshine, writing, busyness

                   Night-       A glass of wine and TV with hubby

                   Winter-    Too cold for comfort. Furry slippers

                   Summer- Beach time. Lobster. My favorite time of year

                   Travel-      Gaining new perspectives. Love new places

It was such a pleasure visiting, Marie, Thank you for your gracious hospitality.  I’d like to invite readers to my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/elaineviolette.author where they can subscribe to my monthly newsletter for news on upcoming releases, contests, and recipes too.  (I love to bake!)
 
You are very welcome, Elaine. It was a pleasure talking to you!

Author Bio

Elaine is a veteran English teacher and holds a BS in English Education from the University of CT and an MS in Educational Leadership from Central CT State University.  She presently teaches public speaking part time at a local community college. She is a PAN member of Romance Writers of America, CT Romance Writers (CTRWA) and Charter Oak Romance writers (CORW). She resides on the Connecticut shoreline and especially enjoys being a wife, mother, and grandmother.

 

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

RACING HEART by June Moonbridge

I am delighted to welcome June Moonbridge and her novel RACING HEART today. There is a giveaway at the end of the post, so don't forget to click on the link!

Hello June, and thank you for coming on the blog today. What can you tell us about RACING HEART?

Racing Heart is a Romantic Suspense novel, set against the glamorous backdrops of Monaco, Paris and Nice. It mixes romance and mystery as Desirée Hart struggles to come to terms with her past to be able to embrace her future and love into her life.

The Riviera is a wonderfully glamorous setting for a romance! I would like to know more about your characters. In three words - What kind of man is your hero?

Lorcan Shore is an international F1 star, with golden heart and misunderstood behaviour.

In three words - What kind of woman is your heroine?

Désirée Hart is a young woman trusts no one, especially when love is in question, she also has too many skeletons in her closet.

And what did Lorcan think the first time he saw Désirée?

After realising that the car collision could be his fault and after his driving skills were brutally verbally attacked by her, he realises she likes to be in control of her life. After turning his invitation for a drink down he’s certain of it. 

What about Désirée? What did she think of Lorcan the first time she saw him? 

Before she recognises him, Désirée thinks Lorcan is one idiot of a driver.

What is the one thing you absolutely need to write? (quiet, music, an empty house?)

A mug of coffee, music and a time past midnight. I’m a night owl… and most of my writing is done at that time.

I would probably fall asleep! I'm more of a early morning person. Give me a silent house and lots of tea or coffee, and cake, of course, and I am very happy!

Do you find it difficult to come up with titles for your novels?

Somewhat difficult. Although I found the title quite soon, the publisher (Safkhet Soul) decided with me agreeing, to change its current one.

I absolutely love the names of your hero and heroine - Désirée is such a romantic name... How do you pick the names of your characters?

Basically I choose a name and a surname. After that the research is done – if there is anyone in the world that has that name… If I find that there is a real person who owns that name, then I try to combine it with middle name if not – the name is born… ;)

What are you working on at the moment?

It’s another romantic suspense, set mostly in a different climate zone and culture.

And now for the word association fun test!

Day            day job                                   

Night          writing                 

nature        peace

books          escape

music          relaxation

Thank you so much June for coming on the blog today. I wish you lots of luck with RACING HEART.

Here is a little bit about the story...

Desiree Hart in desperate search for her kidnapped son, does everything in her power possible to find him. Due to a letter she receives after official search was closed, she changes everything; her appearance, her hometown and even her name.

When she meets Lorcan Shore, the Five Times F1 World Campion, their encounter is everything but ordinary. Out of pure fear for her life, she loses her temper and spits over everything he is absolutely certain he can do the best; how to drive.

Leaving him alone on Grand Corniche she is certain she would never see him again. But the next morning proves her being totally wrong. He was no quitter and no matter how she tries to run and hide, her heart desires at the end come back to the surface…

Will the man of her dreams be able to fulfil them all? Including the most important will he help her find her missing son?



The person behind the name of June Moonbridge, has many names and many faces too. Although living in the same area, she was born and raised in one country  and now living in another.

She studied economics, and quickly realised she hated it. Afterwards, she found herself working in mainly male businesses; at first in automotive and later - steel products productions. She can choose for you the best steel you need, but don't, please don't, ask her which lipstick to use.

She started to write in her high school and was negatively criticised by her teacher. Stubborn as she is that didn't stop her. Under different pen names for her stories she tried to get some independent opinions, which came back as good reviews in magazines and later she published three books.

Giving birth to two children, and learning that her second child has Autism, she married the father of them and continued to work. All that together took all of her free time. But the desire to write didn't die. When life somehow sorted itself out, she decided to write her novel in English and her first submission to Safkhet was rejected… 

For what happened later… read third paragraph, second sentence.



https://twitter.com/JMoonbridge

@JMoonbridge


GIVEAWAY: 2 e-copies of the book!