The Romance Reviews

The Romance Reviews

A Spell in Provence

A Spell in Provence

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Welcome to Bestselling Romance Author Anna Markland

I am delighted to welcome bestselling author of Medieval Romance Anna Markland to the blog today. Anna's latest romance LOYAL HEART will be released on May 3rd but is available to pre-order right now.
Hello Anna and welcome. Can you tell us a little about you?
I was born in Lancashire but I’ve lived most of my life in Canada.

Lancashire is where I live now. It's a beautiful part of England but a long way from Canada! Tell me, what did you want to be when you were a child? Did you always know you wanted to write? 
I wanted to be a teacher, and I followed that dream for many years. I loved teaching, but eventually felt the urge for a different career.

Teaching is indeed a wonderful job, but it can be very stressful too...Where do you get your ideas for your stories?
History provides a basic storyline for the writer of medieval romance and then I fit my characters into that. As for the things that happen to them in the books, who knows? I have on occasion used aspects of my family’s experiences. For example my granddaughter was badly scalded as an infant. Peridotte, the heroine of Hearts and Crowns suffers a scalding. Adam, the hero of Haunted Knights loses his hearing to an illness. I have a grandson who is deaf.

Can you tell us about LOYAL HEART?
It’s Book One of a new series that’s an offshoot of a previous series, The FitzRam Family Trilogy. Blythe, one of the daughters of that family, an Englishwoman, married a Saxon count called Dieter von Wolfenberg and went to live in Saxony. This series tells the love stories of Blythe and Dieter’s children. Their daughter Sophia is the heroine of Loyal Heart. I don’t seem to be able to leave my families in limbo. The amateur genealogist in me wants to follow them from one generation to the next.

I think you're right. Authors do get attached to their characters and their family. I had the same issue with the Saintclair family in my historical romances...I just couldn't let them go! Can you describe your hero in three words?
Brandt is unhappy, pessimistic, an outsider.

And your heroine?
Sophia is optimistic, spoiled, determined.

What did Brandt think the first time he saw Sophia?
I think the excerpt gives a fair indication.

It does indeed (the excerpt is at the end of the post)! What did Sophia think of Brandt the first time she saw him?  In her own words:

She turned impatiently, fully expecting yet another overweight count or baron. Instead, her father was shaking hands with a young man who was far from portly. The giant stood taller than any of her brothers, even Johann, though he was probably about the same age as her half-brother. Glossy hair, as inky black as hers was blonde, framed his face before falling to broad shoulders. He was too stunning to be true, the kind of knight troubadours sang of.”

Brandt looks like a wonderful hero...Tell me, Anna, what is the one thing you absolutely need to write?
Quiet.

Like me, then, Anna, although I rarely get any! What are you working on at the moment?
Book Two of the Von Wolfenberg Dynasty Series, Courageous Heart, which will star Sophia’s brother, Lute (short for Luther).

Promotion is part of an author's 'job'. I personally find it quite difficult and time-consuming. How do you promote your work?
For the past few years I’ve hosted other authors on a weekly blog. I’ve since been invited to be part of several anthologies with many of those writers and that has helped introduce my work to their readers too.  I find the hardest thing about promotion is to be consistent, but with FB, Twitter, etc., you have to be consistently putting out the message.

I know this next question is quite tricky, but what is your favourite hero from a film or a novel ever?
From a film I would have to say Yul Brynner in The Magnificent Seven, or any film he starred in, just because I loved Yul Brynner. Can’t say I have a favorite heroine. Jane Eyre perhaps.

It's a long time since I watched a film with Yul Brynner. I'll never forget how great he was in The King and I, one of my favourite films when I was a child...How do you pick the location for a story?
History usually chooses my settings.

I love choosing names for my characters, especially for my historical romances. How do you choose yours?
I’ve used the names of some of my grandchildren and children, or I’ve researched medieval names of the region.

What comes first when you are thinking of a new story - the plot or the characters?
The characters, although I have to fit them into the historical framework.

What was your best ever moment as a writer?
When I got the first review on my first book, Conquering Passion. A 5 star!!

That must have been a wonderful moment indeed, Anna! One last question...Do you find it difficult to come up with titles for your novels?
Yes.

Thank you very much for answering all my questions today, Anna. Now for the WORD ASSOCIATION FUN TEST! What are the first three words that pop into your mind when you think of....

winter: snow, Christmas, sleds

summer: beaches, gardens, warmth

romance: writing, heroes, love

writing: computer, Amazon, royalties

chocolate: allergic, dark, smooth


Oh no...Don't tell me you are allergic to chocolate!

Here is the blurb for LOYAL HEART

An impossible choice…love or family loyalty. 
Book I of a brand new series from Anna Markland, The Von Wolfenberg Dynasty. 
Sophia falls in love with a guest at her brother’s wedding, but he is an envoy sent by her father’s enemies. Brandt intends to return home as soon as his unwelcome obligation to attend the wedding is fulfilled. It quickly becomes apparent he’ll be lucky to leave the celebrations alive. 

You can buy LOYAL HEART at



Excerpt:

Brandt became frustrated when several pavilions obscured his view of the young woman’s progress, then gasped when he caught sight of her again. She’d removed her head-covering. Masses of blonde hair cascaded down her back almost to her bottom. A golden cloak.

In a moment of lunacy he was tempted to rush across the meadow and compliment her riding skills so he could get closer to the incredible tresses, mayhap sift his fingers…But he closed his mouth and jolted back to reality quickly. He was an outsider. An enemy. Better not to attract attention.


Author Bio

Passion conquers whatever obstacles a hostile medieval world can throw in its path. My page-turning adventures have earned me a place on Amazon’s All-Star list. Besides writing, I have two addictions-crosswords and genealogy, probably the reason I love research. I am a fool for cats. My husband is an entrepreneur who is fond of boasting he’s never had a job.I live on Canada’s scenic west coast now, but I was born and raised in the UK and I love breathing life into the history of my homeland.

Escape with me to where romance began.

You can find me at my website and my Facebook page, Anna Markland Novels.Tweet me @annamarkland, join me on Pinterest, or sign up for my newsletter.

Thank you very much for being my guest today, Anna. I really enjoyed finding more about you and your new book and I wish you lots of success with LOYAL HEART.


Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Welcome to Tom Williams and BACK HOME


I am delighted to welcome fellow Áccent Press author Tom Williams on the blog today. Tom's latest historical  novel 'BACK HOME' was released on April 14th. Welcome, Tom, and thank you for being a guest today. What inspired you to write your John Williamson stories?
Historical novels come in all shapes and sizes. Many are pure escapism – whether they are tales of love and romance, or of battle and adventure. Many, though, use the past to comment on the present. Sometimes it is easier to talk about the 21st century by writing about events that seem safely in the dead past. Even in my straightforwardly escapist adventure story about the British expedition to Argentina in 1806, the whole question of when a liberation becomes an invasion does rear its ugly head. I was in Argentina researching this soon after the Iraq invasion and some of the documents the British produced, which promised the locals freedom from Spanish tyranny, look remarkably similar to the promises we were making to the Iraqis at the time. You can enjoy Burke in the Land of Silver without knowing or caring that the whole ‘invasion or liberation’ argument had happened almost two hundred years earlier, but if you picked up the reference it might have given you food for thought.

The John Williamson stories, set against a background of Victorian colonialism, were always going to be more political. As ‘colonialism’ has become a bad word, the question of what Britain was doing ruling so much of the world and whether this had any positive aspects has become a very sensitive one. My answer is that the history of colonial rule is more complicated and morally ambiguous than we often see it these days, although colonialism, in the end, seems to damage both the colonialists and the people they colonise. I’ve tried to reflect this in Williamson’s first two adventures, The White Rajah and Cawnpore, where his efforts to improve life for the natives in the Far East both end in bloodshed.

In Back Home the political issues are central to the story. After a lifetime in the Far East, Williamson returns to London to find a city where the gap between the ruling classes and the poor reflects the gap between colonisers and colonised in Borneo and India. The London of 1859 faced many of the same challenges as we see today: mass immigration, political unrest, the threat of political violence, and rapid expansion of the city which stretched its infrastructure to breaking point – all this against foreign policy concerns and the fears of Britain being drawn into a new war in Europe.

Would our rulers today respond to political unrest with surveillance by government agents, blackmail, police brutality, unlawful detention and even murder? I couldn’t possibly say. But John Williamson discovers that the authorities in 1859 can be very ruthless indeed.

Enjoy Back Home as a tale of crime and adventure with a Dickensian backdrop or as a comment on London today. It's entirely your choice. I hope it’s a good read either way but I hope, too, that there is stuff in there to make you think about 2016 as well as 1859.
 Author bio
Tom used to write books for business. Now he writes about love, death, and adventure in the 19th century, which is much more fun. It also allows him to pretend that travelling in the Far East and South America is research. Tom lives in London. His main interest is avoiding doing any honest work and this leaves him with time to ski, skate and dance tango, all of which he does quite well.

You can find Tom at



Twitter @TomCW99

Excerpt:

John Williamson has arranged to meet someone in a public house in Seven Dials, a slum near Covent Garden.

  The triangular shape of the building, occasioned by the peculiar arrangement of the streets, meant that the interior was well lit, despite the grime that covered the windows. Twenty or thirty people sat about the place or lay slumped over the tables, apparently sleeping. A couple of fellows were standing at the bar. They were being served not beer, but a clear liquid which, from the prevailing smell of the place, I recognised as gin.

As I watched, the men at the bar upended their glasses, downing the contents at a gulp, before making their way uncertainly to a space at one of the tables, where, regardless of the mess of crumbs and pooled liquor that stained it, they settled their heads upon the wood and promptly fell into a stuporous sleep.

Watching the scene, I paused, uncertain of whether or not to remain. The landlord, though, called across while I hesitated.

‘What’s your pleasure, sir?’

He spoke with a distinctly Irish lilt to his voice and I stepped hesitantly forward. ‘A pint of beer?’

‘We’ll serve you beer willingly, sir.’ He made his way to the beer pumps that lay at the farther end of the bar. ‘We serve Wood Yard’s here, sir, a fine beer and local. Do you know the brewery, sir?’

I confessed that I did not and he insisted on explaining exactly where it was. It stood, indeed, nearby and if the pervasive stench of the place was not so strong I would probably have smelt the distinctive aroma of beer being manufactured, but the brewery lay a little to the South and out of my way. ‘It’s a fine beer, sir, you must admit it,’ he said, passing over a glass of some cloudy liquid which, once I sipped at it, I had to admit tasted a great deal better than it looked.

‘You’ll be wanting to sit with that,’ he said.

I glanced around, but the two men who had been at the bar when I arrived seemed to have taken the last convenient seats. This did not worry the landlord, though, for he stepped from behind the bar and walked to one of the nearer tables where he proceeded to shake awake the man who was slumped there. ‘It’s time you were awake, Higgins. Will you have another glass?’

Higgins shook his head, gazing blearily around. He reached toward his trouser pocket and then, as if recollecting himself, shrugged. ‘No money,’ he mumbled.

‘Then you’d best be on your way,’ the landlord said, not unkindly and, taking Higgins firmly by the arm, he escorted him to the door.

I took the place he had vacated and concentrated on my beer, trying to ignore the stentorian snoring of the men on either side of me. I sipped slowly, anxious that I should not have finished before Harry had the chance to join me.

I need not have worried. Barely ten minutes after I had started my pint, Harry Price appeared that the door.

I beckoned him over, calling for the barman to provide another drink.

The barman poured Harry’s beer and brought it to our table, nudging one of my neighbours awake and evicting him, as he had the unfortunate Higgins.



Wednesday, 6 April 2016

SWORD DANCE is out!

I am delighted to announce that SWORD DANCE, Book 3 in my Scottish historical romance DANCING FOR THE DEVIL has been released by Accent Press. The cover really shows my heroine's lovely, sunny personality, don't you think? 

 So, what happened in Books 1 and  2, THE DREAM CATCHER and BLUE BONNETS and what can we expect in SWORD DANCE?

The story so far...
Cape Wrath, Scotland, November 1847.

When her ship is caught in a terrifying storm off the far north of Scotland and she catches her first glimpse of Wrath Lodge, Rose believes she has reached the gateway to hell. Her encounter with Wrath's laird Bruce McGunn does nothing to reassure her. A reckless officer discharged from the army, McGunn holds a bitter grudge against her husband's family, the wealthy McRaes, and Rose is soon horrified to find out that he means to hold her to ransom in order to save his estate from financial ruin.

 Bruce's health is failing, and he fears he is descending into madness with terrifying hallucinations tormenting him every night. Soon something else is keeping him awake - a growing attraction for his captive, and the gruesome discovery of two women's bodies near the castle. One of them, Malika, is a childhood friend of Rose's she last saw in Algiers the day before her marriage to McRae. How the women died, who killed them and disposed of their bodies is a mystery Bruce now has to solve.  

Rose manages to escape Wrath, taking with her a posy of pine sprigs she believes was given to her by the Dark Lady, Wrath's resident ghost, and her confused feelings for Wrath's tormented master - the man she calls McGlum.

Here is an excerpt. I hope you enjoy it.

‘What are you doing? Please stop,’ she breathed, as his lips trailed along the curve of her throat. 
          If only he could... He looked up and the seductive power of her sultry, heavily made-up eyes gleaming in the moonlight hit him like a bolt of lightning. Every fibre of his body reacted to the feel of her soft body against his, the warm fragrance of her skin. She was right, though. What the hell was he doing? Once again he reminded himself that he had no right to feel that way, no right to want her, but damn it, the woman would tempt a saint. And he was no saint.
          He swallowed a deep, hard breath, released her and made himself step back. ‘All right. We’ll stay here a while and wait until McRae and his remaining guests have gone to bed. Where’s your horse?’
          ‘I left it tied to a post behind the hunting lodge.’
          ‘What about your bag?’
          ‘It’s still strapped to the saddle. By the time I spoke to the girls and the musicians, we had to get ready to come here.’
          ‘How did you manage to get into the hunting lodge without being seen by McRae’s men?’
          ‘It wasn’t easy. I got stuck as I sneaked in through one of the downstairs windows and ripped my - ’
          ‘You got stuck?’ He would have laughed if he weren’t so angry.
          ‘The musicians had to pull me in. We had to be quick and very quiet, because Cameron’s men were in the kitchen.’
          Damn the woman. Didn’t she care about the danger she put herself in?    ‘So, after clambering through a window, you had the brilliant idea to disguise yourself as a dancer and throw yourself into the lion’s den.’
          She flinched at the harshness of his tone. ‘I thought I could avoid bumping into Cameron.’
          ‘You bump into everything and anything you come across, why not McRae?’ he interrupted, taut with temper. ‘He could have recognised you when you were with the others in the music room.’
          ‘Then I would have confronted him and exposed him for the liar and the debauched rake he is in front of all his guests!’ The baubles on her necklace tinkled like little bells as she shook her head.
          ‘Weren’t you afraid of all those men ogling you, lusting after you?’ Me included, he remembered, guilt tightening his chest.
          ‘Well, I... I didn’t think I would have to dance. My plan was to get into the castle and hide until I could speak to Lady Sophia. Unfortunately, Cameron’s manservant was watching us like a hawk and I had no choice but to go into the music room with the others. The girls promised to create a diversion so that I could sneak out unnoticed.’
          ‘A diversion? That’s a mild way of putting it,’ he sneered. ‘The girls’ dancing was... ahem... striking, to say the least. Ask that poor old man who collapsed.’ He drew in a deep breath. ‘Anyway, where did you learn to dance like that?’
          She lowered her eyes, snapped a leaf from a nearby bush and tore it into tiny pieces that spiralled to the ground. ‘Malika taught me, in secret. She always said I was good enough to be one of them.’
          She was right, her dancing had been entrancing, mesmerising, but he wasn’t going to tell her. ‘I still can’t believe you took such risks tonight, just to talk to McRae’s fiancée. It was stupid and foolhardy.’ And damned brave, too, even though he would never admit it. Gripped by conflicting urges, he towered above her, his fists clenched and his jaw set. 

SWORD DANCE is available from Accent Press and from Amazon








  








Sunday, 3 April 2016

DOLLAR SIGNS by Manning Wolfe

I am delighted to welcome Manning Woolfe on the blog today. Her latest novel, DOLLAR SIGNS, is a legal thriller which was released last February by Starpah Books, LLC. There is the chance to win a copy of the book at the end of the post!

Blurb
MERIT BRIDGES, an attorney and widowed mother in Austin, Texas, works hard, drinks too much wine, and sleeps with younger men. When Merit goes after a shady corporation threatening her client, she encounters hired gun Boots King. His charge is simple, “Stop her!” Merit and her team – including Betty, a mothering office manager with a bad-ass attitude – struggle to stay alive, while they navigate a labyrinth of legal issues, and prove once again that you don’t mess with a Texas lady lawyer.

BUY LINKS




ABOUT THE AUTHOR

MANNING WOLFE an author and attorney residing in Austin, Texas, writes cinematic-style, smart, fast-paced thrillers with a salting of Texas bullshit. The first in her series, featuring Austin Lawyer Merit Bridges, is Dollar Signs: Texas Lady Lawyer vs Boots King.

A graduate of Rice University and the University of Texas School of Law, Manning’s experience has given her a voyeur’s peek into some shady characters’ lives and a front row seat to watch the good people who stand against them.


PRAISE FOR DOLLAR SIGNS!
A legal thriller not to be missed…Manning Wolfe just put
herself on my list of must-read authors. — Mark Pryor, Hugo
Marston Novels

Move over, John Grisham. There’s a lady lawyer in town.
Elizabeth Garcia, Deputy Ricos Tales

This novel is smart, funny, moving, and entertaining as hell.
Jesse Sublett, 1960’s Austin Gangsters

A great read, and Texas crime fiction has a new star.
Bill Crider, Dan Rhodes Mysteries

Pages smoke like burnt fried chicken grease on a Saturday
night…This one, my friends, is a non-putter-downer!
George Wier, Bill Travis Mysteries.

A high-speed storyline full of twists and turns upon a stark
background of reality as lawyers might really experience
it. Manning Wolfe is one of the up and coming legal thriller
writers of this generation. Read her and enjoy her, but don’t
expect much sleep! — John Ellsworth, author, Thaddeus
Murfee Legal Thrillers
GIVEAWAY
Ecopy of the book