Saturday, 13 February 2021

ESCAPE TO THE LITTLE CHATEAU Finalist in the RNA Awards!

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

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

Blurb:

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

Escape to the Little Chateau is available from Amazon and kobo



Release date for ANGEL OF THE LOST TREASURE

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

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

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

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

Here is the blurb for the novel:

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

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


Saturday, 5 December 2020

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

 Something a little different today but absolutely fascinating!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Preorder from:

Amazon uk ; Amazon com  ;  Amazon au

Follow Jennifer on twitter & Facebook 

Excerpt: 

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

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

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

Donnell looked at his comlink.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 20 October 2020

A romantic suspense novel set in Provence

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

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

Blurb

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 


Tuesday, 19 May 2020

My Inspiration for ‘A Mother’s Secret By Jan Baynham


Inspiration for Jan Baynham's 'A MOTHER'S SECRET' 

I am delighted to welcome fellow ChocLit UK / Ruby author Jan Baynham today. Jan's debut novel A MOTHER'S SECRET was released in April 2020. Today she is telling us about her inspiration for writing the novel.

I have always been intrigued by family secrets and the fact that these sometimes do not come to light until after a person has died. I read of someone who was sorting through her mother’s things after her death and found a diary. In there, the young woman learned about a part of her mother’s life she knew nothing about. The ‘what ifs?’ started in my head. At the time, I’d been reading a novel where the rustling in the trees sounded like whispers and inanimate statues took on the form of ghosts of the people they represented. Perhaps the whispering could show the presence of a past family member. Always fascinated by the bond between mothers and daughters, this was basis for ‘Her Mother’s Secret’. 


Very often, the close relationship between mothers and daughters means that they would know things about each other no one else would. I wanted to explore how my character, Alexandra, would feel when she found out about her mother, Elin’s secret life. How could her mother have kept this from her? How would she feel? I needed Elin to have been able to keep her secret from everyone, even her own mother, until she died.

I decided that Elin would be an artist, having just finished art college. She travels to Greece to further her painting skills and while there, something happens that she never mentions again. I chose a setting where the colours would be more vibrant and intense perhaps than in her home country of Wales. In awe of the wonderful palette of colours seen in every landscape, Greece was my obvious inspiration. Every holiday has inspired me with contributions to create characters and settings that are hopefully authentic showing the climate, the vivid colours of the sea and the flowers as well as the warmth of its people.


BLURB:

A secret left behind in the summer of ’69 …
It’s 1969 and free-spirited artist Elin Morgan has left Wales for a sun-drenched Greek island. As she makes new friends and enjoys the laidback lifestyle, she writes all about it in her diary. But Elin’s carefree summer of love doesn’t last long, and her island experience ultimately leaves her with a shocking secret …

Twenty-two years later, Elin’s daughter Alexandra has inherited the diary and is reeling from its revelations. The discovery compels Alexandra to make her own journey to the same island, following in her mother’s footsteps. Once there, she sets about uncovering what really happened to Elin in that summer of ’69.

BIO

After retiring from a career in teaching and advisory education, Jan joined a small writing group in a local library where she wrote her first piece of fiction. From then on, she was hooked! She soon went on to take a writing class at the local university and began to submit short stories for publication to a wider audience. Her stories and flash fiction pieces have been longlisted and short listed in competitions and several appear in anthologies both online and in print. In October 2019, her first collection of stories was published.  Her stories started getting longer and longer so that, following a novel writing course, she began to write her first full length novel. She loves being able to explore her characters in further depth and delve into their stories. She writes about family secrets and the bond between mothers and daughters. Partly set in the last year of the 60s, ‘Her Mother’s Secret’ takes you to sun-drenched Greece, her favourite holiday destination.

Originally from mid-Wales, Jan lives in Cardiff with her husband. Having joined the Romantic Novelists Association in 2016, she values the friendship and support from other members and regularly attends conferences, workshops, talks and get togethers. She is co-organiser of her local RNA Chapter.

‘Her Mother’s Secret’ is available on Amazon:
You may find out more about Jan here:
Twitter: @JanBaynhamhttps://twitter.com/JanBaynham
Facebook: Jan Baynham Writer  https://www.facebook.com/JanBayLit/
Blog: www.janbaynham.blogspot.co.uk                                         


 Thank you very much for coming on the blog today, Jan!

Monday, 18 May 2020

A PARIS FAIRY TALE - Five Random Facts about Ancient Manuscripts!


Ancient manuscripts and A PARIS FAIRY TALE
By Marie Laval
 When I started writing A PARIS FAIRY TALE, I embarked on a fascinating journey through the ages and the history of illuminated manuscripts. The story took a long time to research but since research is one of my hobbies, it was a pure joy. 

I read articles and books on the subject – my two favourite books being the wonderful Meetings with remarkable Manuscripts by Christopher de Hamel and Master of Death by Michael Camille – but I also registered on a couple of courses on Ireland and the Book of Kells run by Futurelearn (https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/book-of-kells) and on art trafficking (https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/art-crime), both so very informative and completely free!

The main plot of A PARIS FAIRY TALE revolves around a manuscript which everybody believed destroyed in a fire, but which mysteriously resurfaces and which the heroine, Dr Aurora Black, is asked to authenticate and value. The manuscript in question is the Heures de Turin, a genuine illuminated manuscript, which was indeed lost in the great fire of the Turin University Library. Therefore, the story of it being found again is completely fictional!

So what did I learn in the course of my research? Lots and lots of fascinating facts but I will limit myself to five.

1.     Most manuscripts from medieval Europe were written on vellum, or animal skin, usually calf, sheep or goat. The production of one single book would usually require the skins of a whole flock.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay

2.      The largest illuminated manuscript is the Codex Gigas, currently located in the National Library in Stockholm. Also called The Devil’s Bible because it is believed to be cursed, it is nearly nine inches (22cm) thick and 36 inches (92cm) tall, and is said to have required more than 160 animal skins to complete. It was created in the 13th century in the Benedictine monastery of Podlažice in Bohemia. The ‘most mysterious’ manuscript is the Voynich manuscript, written in an unknown writing system no professional code-breaker or cryptographer has yet managed to translate. It has been carbon dated to the 15th century, and features hundreds of very peculiar astrological, anatomical and vegetal illustrations.

3.     The most common pigment used in illuminated manuscripts was red. The most precious was ultramarine, obtained from lapis lazuli, which came all the way from Afghanistan and was more precious than gold.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay

4.     When book production was no longer the monopoly of monasteries and guilds of illuminators were established, many workshops employed women to paint borders, letters or miniatures in manuscripts, but Christine de Pizan (1364-1430) was the first ‘woman of letters’ to make a living by writing, illustrating and producing books for the French court.


5.     As a deterrent against theft and vandalism, scribes would write dramatic curses in manuscripts threatening thieves with excommunication, disease and pain. Here are two examples of such curses: “May the sword of anathema slay if anyone steals this book away”  or  “If anyone take away this book, let him die the death; let him be fried in a pan; let the falling sickness and fever size him; let him be broken on the wheel, and hanged. Amen.”

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

A PARIS FAIRY TALE is available as an ebook and Audio book from https://www.amazon.co.uk/Paris-Fairy-Tale-heart-warming-recommended-ebook/dp/B07SV2VTJL/ref

Wednesday, 25 December 2019

BLUEBELL'S CHRISTMAS MAGIC


BLUEBELL’S CHRISTMAS MAGIC, my first ever Christmas romantic comedy, was published by Choc Lit UK on November 19th.
As random as it seems, the inspiration for Cassie Bell's story was a family holiday in the Lake District, Christmas cracker jokes and the 1980s band Bananarama – and in particular the song ‘Cruel Summer’. It does seem a bit strange, but that's how inspiration works for me. Even if I can usually pinpoint the exact moment or place when I got the first idea about a new story, the process of creating characters and a plot line usually takes me a long time and is a complete mish-mash!

I first had the idea for BLUEBELL when staying in a tiny cottage in Coniston, which is one of my most favourite places in the UK and one I try to visit every year. The scenery there is beautiful, the village so quaint and lovely, and the lakeside is just wonderful. One of the places I particularly love is Brantwood, which was John Ruskin’s house. The view of the lake from the terrace is one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen. Last time we went we stayed in a holiday cottage near a very old farmhouse with strange round chimneys, which gave me the idea for Belthorn Manor where the hero Stefan Lambert comes to stay to forget all about Christmas…
Lake Coniston

No Christmas would be complete without Christmas cracker jokes, and I had a lot of fun finding some to put into the book – some of them were supplied by my friends and my children, and others I made up myself (but I won't say which ones)!
Photo courtesy of Pixabay

What about Bananarama and their song ‘Cruel Summer’? Well, in my story, Cassie Bell always wears dungarees when she does her cleaning job, and she ties her hair up with a scarf, like the singers in the clip. She also used to be in a Bananarama tribute band when she was younger.

I hope that BLUEBELL’S CHRISTMAS MAGIC will be the first of a series of standalone romantic stories set in the same Cumbrian village of Red Moss, and I am now working on the second novel.

Blurb
A gorgeous new Christmas story from the author of bestselling novel Little Pink Taxi
A flick of a feather duster and a sprinkle of Christmas magic …
Cassie Bell is used to mess. Her cleaning business, Bluebell Cleaning, is well known in the Cumbrian village of Red Moss. However, now it’s almost Christmas and Cassie has a slightly messier situation to deal with than she’s used to.

She’s been hired to help Stefan Lambert, an injured army helicopter pilot who’s staying at the local Belthorn Manor whilst he recovers. Stefan resents Cassie’s interference and is definitely not looking for Christmas cheer. But Cassie prides herself on sparkling surfaces – so, can she bring some festive sparkle to Stefan’s life too?

You can buy BLUEBELL’S CHRISTMAS MAGIC as an ebook and audio book here from Amazon UK