Saturday, 20 January 2018

#Saturday Shorts- Rhia Ashton from #Monogamy Twist

Happy Saturday wishes to you!

It's time for another short and snappy interview but instead of a fellow author, today it's a character from my contemporary romantic mystery #Monogamy Twist. The questions are only a little different to those I'd be asking my author friends, so if you've not yet read the novel, meet the main female character, a lovely young lady...

www.123rf.com
Welcome to my blog. please tell us a little about yourself. 

Hello there! My name is Rhia Ashton. I’m an ancestral family tree researcher who used to work in the cut-throat world of the museum scene in London but I swapped that to come and live in rural Yorkshire. I now run my own ancestral research company and love living in my small cottage just along from the gates of Greywood Hall. My main company now is my fabulous Irish Wolfhound, Thor- though very soon that’s about to change…

When is your best time to write?

Thor is a large, energetic dog that needs walked at least a couple of times a day so I tend to be up early for him and at my desk somewhere between 8 and 9 a.m. I try to set aside most of the day for my researching, and note-taking so there isn’t really a ‘best’ time for me. I confess to often writing my reports in the evening though I’m not a workaholic! 

Which social media platforms do you find most comfortable to use?

Ah, what a question. That can very much depend on whether I have a good internet connection, being out in the boondocks! I left most of my friends and acquaintances behind when I left London but I use Facebook when I want to connect with by best buddies.

Please tell us what your latest work is all about.

Well, here’s the strangest thing. Right now I hardly know the answer to that because, as of yesterday, not only have I got myself involved in a new research job up at Greywood Hall, I’ve also entered into a completely different sort of contract alongside that job. I don’t want to jinx things too much by talking about it before the ink is properly dry on the contract—actually I’m expecting to sign that later this morning—but the best I can tell you is that I’ve also signed up to be an official errr... companion to the new owner of Greywood Hall. 
Once the contract is signed I can give you lots more details about the whole weird situation but I can tell you that I’m absolutely itching to get into the rooms up at Greywood Hall to see what I can find there.

Did anything in particular influence you to take this new contract?

Well, let’s say there was a bit of persuasion, maybe even a touch of coercion by the brand new owner of Greywood Hall who, by the way, is probably the most gorgeous man I’ve ever clapped eyes on. Now (i.e. since yesterday afternoon) I’m beginning to realise he’s manipulative but also one of the most attractive men I’ve ever met. 
Can you see my dilemma here?

Will the research at Greywood Hall be particularly specialised?

I imagine my skills learned at University and my previous work in a London museum will be well used to unravel the secrets that are up in that old house. My main task is to find evidence which will support why Luke Salieri, the new owner, was chosen as the beneficiary of Amelia Greywood’s Dickensian will- and I really do mean the quirkiest will conditions anyone is likely to come across!  

What do you know of Luke Salieri?

At the moment? Not a lot! He was born in Australia. His mum is an Aussie but he said his dad was Italian, hence the Italian surname. He told me his background has been in the construction business but he came to England some years ago and has been mainly involved in renovating sizeable old properties, making them fit for corporate retreats and hotels with conference facilities- that sort of thing.

What’s Luke’s greatest weakness?

You’ll have to ask me that when I get to know him properly.

What’s his greatest strengths?

From one meeting, I’d definitely say he’s persuasive, maybe even ruthless.

Do you think you’ll enjoy the new job?

I’m going to adore all of the historical research and all of the cataloguing up at Greywood Hall. The other aspect of the contract, living with Luke Salieri for a whole year, just might be an unbearable burden!

What’s your favourite leisure occupation?

Taking Thor for long walks!

Do you have a favourite place to ‘hide’ out from life?

Well, that’s essentially why I moved to my cottage in Yorkshire. It was to hide away from my past life in London, not to mention being somewhere that I’d never meet up with my conniving ex- partner ever again.

Favourite food and drink?


I love a really rare steak and a glass of Malbec to wash it down. Mmmm. You're making me hungry. I have to  pop into the kitchen for something to nibble on. 

Thanks for being a great interviewee, today, Rhia. Best wishes for that new job of yours, you've a lot of challenges ahead! 

Buy a copy HERE

Slainthe! 

Friday, 19 January 2018

#2 Someone to #Lean on - #Sir William Kirkcaldy of Grange

Friday means it's time to give those supporting secondary characters a bit of the limelight! 

Today, I'm joined by my Crooked Cat author friend, Jennifer Wilson, who has picked a really great secondary character to feature. I've read Kindred Spirits: Royal Mile  and felt that Sir William was a lovely guy who went all out to help those he loved though, at that point, I didn't know much about his background. Jen's going to tell you more about his turncoat tendencies (Oops did I say that? So many courtiers of the era turned whither and thither many times). Please read on...

Sir William Kirkcaldy of Grange Wikimedia Commons 
Hi Nancy, and thanks for inviting me over today, to talk about a secondary character, and one who I was really chuffed to include.
I’m glad to say that for both Kindred Spirits: Tower of London and Kindred Spirits: Royal Mile, my main characters have been there before a single word was written. Richard III and Mary, Queen of Scots were shouting at me to be written about – I just needed to find a story that worked for them.
After them though, the supporting casts proved trickier. London and Edinburgh have a lot of possible ghosts to pick through, even if you narrow it down to just a handful of locations! For the Royal Mile though, one man stood out: Sir William Kirkcaldy of Grange. 
I had first come across Sir William in a novel, The Last Knight and the Queen of Scots, by Linda Root, as I was stocking up my shiny new Kindle for a trip north of the border. I’d never heard of him before, but his tale stayed with me, and I knew he would fit into Mary’s ghostly court perfectly, even though, as far as I can tell, there’s no record of his ghost being recorded anywhere.
Born around 1520, Sir William was a fascinating character, who found himself both ally and enemy to Queen Mary, and took part, as a young man, in the infamous murder of Cardinal Beaton in 1546. He then turned his hand to spying, known by the code-name Corax to Edward VI of England. Well, to his advisors, anyway.
Mary, Queen of Scots - Blairs Museum
Wikimedia Commons
In Queen Mary’s trials with her court, he started in opposition to her, against her marriage to Lord Darnley, and became embroiled in another infamous murder, that of poor David Rizzio. Happily, my versions of Sir William and Rizzio see fit not to discuss the issue, but as with William Hastings and Richard III, it cannot be easy, spending eternity with one involved in your murder.
For the final years of his life, Sir William switched to Queen Mary’s side of the debate, and held Edinburgh Castle for her from October 1571 to its surrender in May 1573. Despite many standing in his defence, he was hanged in the city in August that year.
It was this final act in favour of Queen Mary that won Sir William his place as ghostly Mary’s most trusted friend and advisor. He was so interesting to write about, capturing that heroic edge, and, after all, who doesn’t love a knight in shining armour, willing to fight and lay down his life for his lady? It all gets very Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves for this romantic!
I’ll not give the game away as to the plot of Kindred Spirits: Royal Mile (because what would be the point of that?!), but I knew I couldn’t let Sir William go passing through his white light, and vanishing from my Kindred Spirits world. As a result, there is always the chance he’ll make a reappearance at some point in the future. After all, with all that living he got through, he’s bound to have plenty of places to get his haunting teeth into…
About Jennifer
Jennifer is a marine biologist by training, who spent much of her childhood stalking Mary, Queen of Scots (initially accidentally, but then with intention). She completed her BSc and MSc at the University of Hull, and has worked in marine environmental consulting since graduating. Enrolling on an adult education workshop on her return to the north-east reignited Jennifer’s pastime of creative writing, and she has been filling notebooks ever since. In 2014, Jennifer won the Story Tyne short story competition, and also continues to develop her poetic voice, reading at a number of events, and with several pieces available online. She is also part of The Next Page, running workshops and other literary events in North Tyneside.

Jennifer’s debut novel, Kindred Spirits: Tower of London, was released by Crooked Cat Books in October 2015, with Kindred Spirits: Royal Mile following in June 2017. 
She can be found online at her website, on Twitter and Facebook, as well as at The Next Page’s website
Her timeslip historical romance, The Last Plantagenet? Is available for download from Amazon.

Thank you for coming, Jen. Sir William is definitely one to watch. I don't see him as being a completely nasty character from that portrait - there's a hint behind the eyes of some hidden depth, a softness, although he must have had to be quite ruthless at times. 

I added the one of Mary, Queen of Scots which is in the Blairs Museum near Aberdeen. I remember being very impressed with it when I visited some years ago with a class of primary school kids. I stood discussing it with a small group of 10 year olds who came to the same impression as me that there was a calculation in Mary's eyes, a cold watchfulness. I'm sure that she had to be very watchful for a good part of her life.  

Portraits could never hide all the traits of the person being painted, in my opinion, so a really good look might just reveal some tiny little aspect of their character. 

Till the next supporting character visits...enjoy the days between.

Slainthe! 


Tuesday, 16 January 2018

#Review 4 of 2018 Spiral of Hooves

Tuesday Late...

If I made any resolutions at the beginning of this year it was to try to make sure to post a review as soon as possible after finishing a novel. This is the latest fiction I've read during the last week though I've been doing a lot of non-fiction research. How I quantify that as books read on Goodreads just isn't so easy.

If you're a lover of watching horse riding programmes on TV then this intriguing tale may be for you!


Spiral of HoovesSpiral of Hooves by Roland Clarke
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this tale of intrigue which kept me on my metaphorical toes, especially towards the end. There were many surprises unravelling that I hadn’t anticipated even though I did manage to work out a few of the mysteries. There were parts of the description which made me feel as though I was watching a horse riding event on TV- which I used to enjoy years ago but haven’t indulged in for some time.
Various themes are covered in this complicated plot- coping with a physical issue that others may not need to organise their life around; genetic manipulation of stock; illegal drug use; sabotage and murder – to name some of the themes.
Though Armand Sabatier is a tortured soul at the beginning, and there’s a wee bit of repetition of this, it’s worth reading on because I felt he was a character who blossomed very well as the plot unfolds. There are some lovely characters and some who made my teeth grit frequently but I’ll leave the new reader to work out if they feel the same after finishing this action packed story.



Happy reading to you and to me! My next reading is something I'm a little embarrassed about because I'm going to reread a couple of novels, hopefully skim read them, because for some reason they're still on my Kindle to be read pile even though I'm sure I've read them. There are no reviews to be found so I'll be having a quick reminder what they're about since I read them a couple of years ago and after that amount of time, I rarely remember more than the gist of novels.

Slainthe! 

Monday, 15 January 2018

#2 Monday Meanders with #Katharine Johnson

Good Morning -it's #Monday Meanders!

It's a windy, cold, almost snowy day here in my part of Aberdeenshire, Scotland, but it's okay because my new #Monday Meanders slot is designed to transport me, and hopefully also you, to other gentler climes.

This week's new destination, I'm delighted to tell you, comes via my talented Crooked Cat author friend Katharine Johnson. She's sharing information with us about her forthcoming book The Secret  (published by Crooked Cat Books) though we'll have to bide our time till later in the year to get our hands on it. The new novel sounds like just the ticket to take me to a brand new location, especially so since Katharine has included some truly wonderful photographs for us to get a real feel for the place.

Settle in and enjoy both Katharine's photos of the locale and her wonderful description of it.

Welcome to my #Monday Meanders feature, Katharine...

Hello Nancy - thanks so much for letting me visit your blog to talk about the setting for my next novel which comes out this summer.


Courtesy - Katharine Johnson
The Secret is set in a fictional Tuscan village called Santa Zita. It’s the same village as the one in my previous book The Silence, which was published last year. Although it’s a standalone story it’s about another secret harboured by Villa Leonida, the house at the centre of The Silence. This time, however, it’s a wartime secret.

One of the things that drew me to Tuscany as a setting was that it has such a rich, multi-layered history. A house like Villa Leonida would have experienced several reversals in fortune and would have many stories to tell. 

The isolated position of some of the mountain villages makes them hard to access and it's easy to imagine a secret being contained within their walls for many years.


Courtesy - Katharine Johnson
The Secret's about two girls growing up in Mussolini’s Italy and a secret they share that has devastating consequences reaching right up to the present day.

Santa Zita is perched precariously on a mountain and from below the houses look in danger of tottering down the hill but it has a wonderful view of the valley below with its rooftops and bell towers and the surrounding mountains.

The streets are steep and narrow, criss-crossed by arches and washing lines. There's a central square which houses the church of Santa Zita, a bar and a restaurant run by two eccentric, warring brothers. 

The village is surrounded by chestnut forests, and a fire is lit for three months during winter in the the chestnut drying tower at Villa Leonida to dry the chestnuts which are used for making flour. 


Courtesy - Katharine Johnson
Also on the slopes are vineyards, olive groves and fruit orchards.

When Martina and Irena are growing up the village square is the social hub and the focus for celebration suppers after the grape and olive harvests when long tables are set out across the square and lanterns strung among the trees. Martina’s wedding to Gianni is also celebrated in the square.


Courtesy - Katharine Johnson

Martina and Irena sit on the wall of the fountain in the square each day to wait for Gianni who lives in Villa Leonida to join them so they can walk to school together. Gianni’s family is highly respected, the wealthiest in the village, and Villa Leonida the most prestigious dwelling. 

Martina who lives in a small, terraced house below Villa Leonida often imagines what it must be like to live there and take part in the glamorous events she hears about. So when Gianni asks her to marry him she’s thrilled. But neither life at Villa Leonida nor marriage to Gianni are as she imagined.

When war breaks out all their lives change dramatically. Loyalties are divided, food is scarce and friendships betrayed in a climate of fear and suspicion. 

Seventy years on, Martina and Irena’s children have a chance to put right a wrong but doing so carries a risk that one of them would do anything to avoid.
Courtesy - Katharine Johnson

Although the village and its events are entirely fictional, the story is inspired by the history of many villages in Tuscany where I’ve had a home for a number of years. 


Katharine Johnson is a journalist with a passion for books, old houses and all things Italian (except tiramisu). She grew up in Bristol and has lived in Italy. She currently lives in Berkshire with her husband, three children and madcap spaniel. She plays netball badly and is a National Trust room guide.


The Secret will be published this summer by Crooked Cat Books. 

The Silence, which is also set in Villa Leonida but is about a secret from the 1990s is available to buy now http://mybook.to/TheSilence


Website/blog 
Facebook
Twitter









Since Katharine shared another brilliant photo I'm going to add it here because that bridge is just begging to walked over so that we can admire the peaceful water! 
Courtesy Katharine Johnson
Thank you so much for sharing your new novel with us today, Katharine. I'll be watching out for the launch so that I can uncover its secrets! Best wishes for all of your writing projects in 2018. 

Slainthe! 

Saturday, 13 January 2018

#Saturday Shorts- Carrie Ann Schless!

Happy Saturday wishes to you!

It's also going to be a #HappyCrookedCaturday since my interviewee is another member of the Crooked Cat Books author cattery!

I'd like to welcome debut author, Carrie Ann Schless to the #Saturday Shorts my new 'short and snappy' interview chair today, the first of 2018.

It's a brief introduction to my author friends though if you want to learn more I'm confident there will be longer interviews elsewhere across the net, but here's a glimpse of what life is like for Carrie-Ann whose debut ebook version launched yesterday at a Facebook party.

I believe she also has a live paperback launch as well so if you live in her area, she'd be over the moon for you to pop in. Her newly launched Romance is called Another Woman's Man.

Let's get to know Carrie-Ann...

Welcome to my blog Carrie-Ann. Please introduce yourself briefly: 

Hi, I’m Carrie-Ann Schless and I live in S. E. England. I’m a single Mum and I work part time at a card shop.

When is your best time to write?

I tend to write any time but annoyingly evenings are when my idea’s flow more, or anytime when I’m unable to write like when I get in the bath!

(Nancy: I agree - Where's an old fashioned dictaphone when you need one? Actually I never used one of them but it might have done the trick. That really is an annoying time to get ideas!)

Which social media platforms do you find most comfortable to use?
Carrie-Ann Schless

I have been using Facebook for ten years now so it just feels normal to me. What did we do before Social Media? No honestly I’m asking as I seriously don’t remember.

Please tell us what your latest book is about and its genre.

Another Woman’s Man is a Woman’s fiction novel primarily about an affair but with a lot of other themes going through it.

Did anything in particular influence you to write it?

Amongst other things I found it crazy that so many of my friends received messages from other peoples boyfriends and started to wonder how I would feel if they decided to date these men.

(N: Now that's an interesting observation. Definitely a breeding ground, I think, for some further investigation /jealousy unless of a very innocent nature!) 

Did your novel require any specialised research?

Not particularly. You don’t need to go far to find somebody that has been through this.

Who's your main character?

Casey Turner. It sounds crazy but I’ve grown fond of her. I miss having her around!

What’s your main character’s greatest weakness?

Danny. She just can’t seem to say no to him.

What’s your main character’s greatest strength?

She cares very deeply for the people important to her.

Are you a lover of editing your work?

I actually quite enjoyed editing first time around, but I wouldn’t say I loved it.

And now for some fun stuff about you...What’s your favourite occupation? (apart from writing!)

I always wanted to be an actress

(N: There's still plenty of time for a career change!)

Do you have a favourite place to ‘hide’ out from life?

I love nothing more than a dance floor of a nightclub but only when the music is decent.

Favourite food and drink?

I love Chinese food, and I may be known to have the odd vodka and coke.

~

Thank you Carrie-Ann for giving us a tiny edge into your favourites. Another Woman's Man is now on my kindle, as of yesterday, but for others who haven't yet bought it-
Click the link here: 


Find Carrie-Ann Schless here:  www.carrieannschless.com





 Till another Saturday Short comes along... Have a great weekend. 

ps Use the 'Follow the Blog' email sign up box on the right sidebar to be sure to catch the next post on Nancy's Novels. 

Slainthe! 

Friday, 12 January 2018

#1 Someone to #lean on...meet Ruaridh

It's Friday 
…heralding the end of the working week and my new Friday theme begins today. 

I’ve done something similar in the past about those supporting characters in a novel who just keep shy of the main limelight but I believe they really deserve a bit of exposure. Therefore, in order to promote those impressive supportive secondary characters, which virtually all stories that I’ve read require, they will have my Friday blog slots from now until the end of March. I'll be joined by lots of supportive secondary characters penned by my guest author friends from next week onward till the end of March, so please keep popping in and enjoy those who don't quite get the star spots of the books they appear in.  


It was hard for me to choose which of my characters to begin the series with since I’m quite partial to a good few but the toss of the coin has gone to my lovely Ruaridh in my humorous contemporary mystery Take Me Now.

Ruaridh as the father of the main male character, Nairn Malcolm, was a joy to create. At the outset of writing the novel my intention was that it would be a fairly simple romantic comedy mystery and for any kind of romance there’s generally a need for a rival for the heroine’s attention. 

To suit the domestic situation my hero and heroine find themselves in, I didn’t want another younger character invading the castle. To make my situation work for Aela as the interviewee for a job at the restored island castle, I needed another man familiar with the house and familiar with Nairn Malcolm who was interviewing Aela for a job.  

Who better than Nairn’s very likeable, footloose and fancy free, father! The image below is probably just about right for how I see Ruaridh. I popped in my usual images for Aela and Nairn- I hope you like them,too! 


Here’s a long extract introducing Ruaridh:

www.123rf.com
Six thirty-five?
Aela peered at the clock again, memories of the evening before slamming in. She had intended to check on Nairn during the night, but it was well past the time for that.
Bacon was crackling and crisping under the grill. She was finishing the last of a stack of pancakes, having found some maple syrup in one of the well-stocked cupboards, when she became aware of someone entering the kitchen.
“Well, isn’t this a sight for sore eyes, lass.” Ruaridh’s voice boomed in the near silence. “It’s about time someone as beautiful as you made something smelling so good in this kitchen.”
“What? No blonde bunnies cooking for your son?” The tart comment slipped out.
Ruaridh’s chuckle was infectious. “Och, no, Aela. Nairn’s blonde bunnies wouldn’t have a clue about which end of a wooden spoon to use.”
She gurgled along with him as he came over to the cooker and inspected her gelling pancakes, the current batch blowing bubbles, just ready for turning.
 “Nairn’s lady-friends aren’t Scottish island mentality. They’re more inclined to baking themselves in the sun at his Corsican villa than whipping up a batch of pancakes.”
Mentally filing away the snippet of information, she avoided further banter about Nairn’s women friends. “Well, this is no culinary feast, but there’s plenty if you haven’t eaten yet.”
“You’re tactful, too,” Ruaridh praised before he asked for an update on Nairn.
www.123rf.com
Aela’s hearty laugh pealed out. “Nope. I’m not too good at tact, but I know when to keep my mouth shut which isn’t exactly the same thing. It’s just the two of us again. Your son sure likes the land of nod.”
Bacon slices and a stack of pancakes were placed in front of Ruaridh before she sat down with a full plate for herself. His chuckling continued as he complimented her on her cooking initiative.  
“I hope you don’t mind me doing this. You did say to make myself at home, and making breakfast seemed fair since you cooked for me last night.”
Ruaridh answered around a mouthful of syrupy pancake. “No problem at all, lass. Glad to have you on board.”

“On board what?” Nairn’s question had their heads whipping around. It was obvious neither Aela Cameron nor Ruaridh had heard the whisper of the wheelchair, but his enquiry interrupted their conversation.
“On board the company flagship, of course. Morning, Nairn. I see the long sleep improved your temper.”
His father continued to eat, his mumbles coming around mouthfuls of bacon, his sarcastic wisecrack accompanied by a wink first for Aela, and then one for him. A reaction typical of Ruaridh. What the hell did he mean? Company flagship? He must have given the woman a job, but he remembered not a blasted thing about it, and now his father and Aela Cameron were tucking into food at his kitchen table. He snagged Aela’s gaze. Her molasses-rich eyes were twinkling, but not at him. Ruaridh was the source of her good spirits.
www.123rf.com
How Nairn looked
before his bike spill! 
“Good morning, Miss Cameron.” Turning to Ruaridh he ensured his voice was saccharine sweet. “Morning, father.”
“Oh, my word, lass. Do you hear that?” Ruaridh laid his hand theatrically over his heart. “Somebody in this room must have got out of the wrong side of the bed.”
Aela Cameron laughed again. The woman was far too flippant. Something about disrespect niggled at Nairn. He was sure he’d felt it the day before, as well as finding her too inclined to laugh at the state he was in. None of the banter shared with Ruaridh made him feel any better. Even the cosy sight of them sitting at his table aggravated him. It had been his father’s hearty laugh and a gentler tinkle of female amusement that had wakened him. Though he couldn’t hear what they’d been saying, it was obvious Ruaridh and Aela were getting along very well.
With a scrubbed face and still drying hair hanging straight down her back - a black shimmer trailing almost to her waist - the woman was striking. No doubt she’d ensnared Ruaridh’s attention from the sound of the charm oozing out of his father. The thought of his old man flirting with Aela Cameron held no appeal. At fifty-seven, Ruaridh was very popular with the local ladies even though he’d never shown signs of wanting to remarry after the divorce to Nairn’s mother more than a decade ago. Yet Nairn knew Ruaridh was more than capable of acquiring a new woman, or wife, if he were to choose.
“Would you like breakfast, Mr. Malcolm? I’ve made plenty.”
She’d made herself at home in his kitchen? Bloody hell! Had he given her a job as his cook as well? She’d soon learn he cooked for himself when he was home, though, maybe not right now since his injuries were a damned nuisance. He swallowed his pride, with difficulty.
“I would. Thank you, Miss Cameron.”
Aela jumped up and removed a chair to make room for his wheelchair, her movements efficient.
“So you’re making use of the chariot then? Just think, Nairn, with a bit of practice you’ll be doing wheelies on the quay side, and you’ll have forgotten your stookies.” Ruaridh’s chuckled comments were interspersed by pauses, as he mowed his way through his plateful.
Nairn made no initial comment, Aela cutting pancakes and bacon into small pieces before placing the plate in front of him. Did she think he was incapable of feeding himself? Annoyance stirred again as he focused on his father’s remarks and grins but much as he tried, he couldn’t quite suppress the twitch at his mouth because his father often managed to make awkward situations light hearted. “Thanks for fetching it. Wheeling around, strangely enough, is much easier on the ribs.”
“All joking aside, how do you feel this morning, Nairn?” Ruaridh flicked open the syrup bottle, added some to the residue of his pancakes then waved it, asking a silent question.
After receiving a liberal sprinkling of tawny maple syrup over his breakfast, Nairn picked up his fork with his less than expert left hand. “The headache and disorientation have finally gone, thank God.” He deliberately sought out Aela’s eyes. Eyes he thought were maybe hiding something? “Miss Cameron will be delighted to know, like a good boy, I’ll take the painkillers on a regular basis till the ribs heal and not be stupidly macho about it.”
He watched Aela suppress a grin, didn’t break a smile himself, but he remembered more of her barbed words of the previous afternoon – because what he’d just stated was a sanitised version. There was no hint of remorse or embarrassment in her expression as she attacked her stack of pancakes with enthusiasm. He’d expected his comment to ruffle her, but there wasn’t a hint of discomfort showing.
A bit of pancake was shuffled around before he managed to spear it properly. He just caught Aela Cameron’s full blown beam in his peripheral vision as he lifted the fork to his mouth. She was laughing at him again, looking as though she knew something he didn’t, but he’d turn the tables on that soon enough. Only good manners prevented him from throwing her right out on her ass. Out of his kitchen. Out of his castle. He gulped over a mouthful. Out of his jobs. Out of reach of…Ruaridh…who was behaving as though Aela Cameron belonged at his table, as if she’d been a fixture for ages.
Ruaridh must have asked the woman to stay overnight.
The sweetness of the syrupy pancake was suddenly sickening. What had happened before she’d gone to bed in the apartment? The pile of pancake and bacon pieces slowly found their way to his mouth as he deliberated how to achieve her expulsion, because the woman was a thorn in his already aching flesh. He laid down his fork to fumble for the napkin Aela had set beside his plate and used it to mop the sweat from his brow. The room was so damned hot now he wished he’d not squirmed his way into his towelling robe. Maybe he was running a temperature? When he looked at his table companions it seemed he was the only one to feel the excessive heat.
The meal progressed, Ruaridh and Aela dominating the conversation. Ruaridh chattered about sights to see down in the town of Mariskay; Aela responded she’d been delighted with her short foray down to the harbour. Nairn found Aela’s voice husky - not a figment of his imagination, and just what he remembered from his erotic early-morning dream. Replies he gave were minimal as he concentrated on attacking his food, making sure it reached his mouth and not the floor.
“No, lass, I’ll tidy up.” Ruaridh intervened as Aela started to clear the table when all three of them had finished. “Nairn will want to formalize your job, now.”
“Formalize her job?” His comment spat out along with a bit of pancake. He tried to interpret the statement as Ruaridh continued to stack the dishes.
“Aela needs to get started on the backlog of your calls as soon as possible, Nairn. You know how your inquiries build up.”
“Your timely reminder is duly noted, Father. Since you’re so up to date with my business, maybe you should be the one to formalize Miss Cameron’s job?” He knew Ruaridh’s sigh was for effect…and as a blatant prod since his father’s expression and body-language indicated he was being obtuse.
“Nairn. Appropriate documents weren’t ready yesterday. You only dealt in the verbal. Do I have to remind you that you were not compos mentis? Aela needs to sign her contract.”
 “Her contract?” Nairn stared, a tense silence lingering. Ruaridh muttered as he stacked the dishwasher. He glared at Ruaridh’s obdurate back because his father was up to something, though he didn’t know what.
Aela, he was gratified to see, gaped at both of them.
He blasted his father to hell and damnation along with a few curses well-aimed at himself as he acknowledged what must be done to salvage the mess he appeared to have made. Wheeling himself out of the kitchen, he snapped, “Miss Cameron. Come to the office, please.”
Aela didn’t immediately follow him. He could hear her tight voice speaking with Ruaridh as he bowled along the corridor.

I'm looking forward to meeting some more secondary supporting characters next week. Tune in to the historical one Jennifer Wilson has for us! 

(ps I've read the book she's highlighting and what she's sending on is perfect!) 

Slainthe!




Wednesday, 10 January 2018

#Review 3 of 2018 Little Gray Dress

Little Gray Dress by Aimee Brown

My thoughts on this quick read: 

In many ways the plot was very predictable yet the author brought a fresh vibrant approach to the prickly subject of break-ups and subsequent meet-ups. 

The story flows effortlessly and is a very humorous read, especially so if you're recuperating from a health issue, if you want to be entertained without expending much effort, or perhaps on holiday.

The characters are almost all likeable, if we exclude the irrational and somewhat crazy ‘baddie’. The settings are quite impressive and well described. It would be interesting to get to know Liam the helpful, just-a-little-bit-gorgeous friendly, barman, a little bit better - but maybe that's in the pipeline!

I’m not a great fan of the dotting-back-and-forth on the timeline technique but it didn’t stop me from reading on to the end.

Chick-lit fans would, I’m sure, be really pleased to read this amusing read.  


I rated this with 5 stars on Amazon and Goodreads.

Slainthe! 

Monday, 8 January 2018

#Review 2 of 2018 Death in Dulwich

Here's another book read recently...

Death in Dulwich by Alice Castle 

I really loved the setting as described- the fabulous old school of Wyatt’s with its stunning architecture, as privileged as you could ever get and then the author comes to describe the location of the (no spoilers) action at the beginning of the novel. That description prompted the first laugh of the story, and I found a good few more. 

If you want a quick entertaining read that’s a cosy murder mystery, then Death in Dulwich will tick the boxes but you’ll have to add a few more because Beth is a bit different from some other sleuths I’ve read about. She’s quite unflappable, very inquisitive, at times sneakily persuasive and prone to entering situations she’s not exactly planned for. 

I was just getting to know that nice man Harry York, the real detective, when the story ended and he’d be nice to know even better.


Of course, maybe a read of Book 2 will help with that?  

This was a 5 star entertaining read. 
Slainthe! 

#1 Monday#Meanders!

Happy #Monday to you! 

#Monday#Meanders is the new title for my Monday slot and my theme will be on using special locations in a novel/s. The beginning of a new year is a time that I like to dream of places to go, or places to research to use in my contemporary mysteries. It isn't easy to use famous locations in my historical Celtic Fervour Series because chances are they didn't exist almost 2000 years ago. However, that is a challenge I might take up the next time I'm the posting on Mondays between now and the end of March 2018.  

I've a lot of lovely guest authors visiting in the coming weeks to share their special locations with us so please pop in on Mondays! 

Here's the place I'd like to kick off with...



Ah! It's true that the map above has a lot of potential locations, but which particular one do I mean?

I tend to choose my locations very carefully, as I expect most authors do. There’s generally a fantastic reason for choose one particular place instead of another but today I’m featuring Tallinn, Estonia.

Tallinn features in my fun corporate-sabotage, romantic mystery Take Me Now, though only briefly.
 
Tallinn, Estonia (image via www.123rf.com)
Tallinn, the capital city of the small independent Estonia has a population size that’s about half of my nearest city of Aberdeen, Scotland

Tallinn’s population is around 400,000, Aberdeen City not quite hitting the 2000,000 mark. With Estonia being only around 1.3 million it’s one of the smaller unitary states of the European Union. 

An interesting fact, perhaps needing further investigation, is that there are a lot more women in Estonia than men (ratio said to be 100 females for 84 men, accounted for in some part by the fact that women outlive men by 20 years). Estonia also has a small population for the geographic area. The land mass of Scotland is 80, 077 sq metres (population ~5.3 million). Estonia is 45, 336 sq metres (population ~1.3 million). I thought Scotland had lots of islands at around 790 but Estonia can boast some 1,520 islands!

Kalevipoeg is the country’s national epic story and it tells of a wonderful giant who throws stones and talks to hedgehogs. There's a local giant of Aberdeenshire who is known for throwing stones but I've not read that Jock O' Bennachie talks to hedgehogs- must look that up sometime soon *wink*. 

Tallinn is a beautiful city that’s steeped in history, best loved for its Medieval Old Town. Walk the streets and find the castles; Baroque buildings; and Orthodox (Russian style) Religious architecture in cathedrals and churches. 

When choosing some places to mention in Take Me Now, I chose to Tallinn as one of the cities that Nairn has to make a superfast trip to to check on his water-sports business. Unbeknown to Aela, her boss Nairn has organised for her to experience a kayak trip out on the waters. What a lovely gesture! 
However, you can read in this excerpt that Aela learns Nairn isn’t just interested in giving her a taste of his adventure sport…

"...
Like the good little PA she was, she trotted to reception to find he’d surprised her again. Nairn had arranged for her to be included in the afternoon kayaking tour around the waters of Tallinn.
Fabulous.
The ancient marine castle of Tallinn was astounding as Aela paddled her way around the bay in a two-person kayak, an instructor from the centre seated behind her. Strong sunshine reflected off the water, the old medieval town a fascinating backdrop for it. The stone fortifications, turreted walls and parapets made such an impact from the water her smile seemed never ending. The old prison buildings were just as fascinating as they paddled by. The whole tour was exhilarating.
Four hours later, she was struggling out of her buoyancy aid just as Nairn hobbled up to her, the clip taking more than a few tries before she could undo it.
“Impressed?” Nairn’s midnight blue eyes twinkled.
She could barely answer, so fired up with the pleasure she’d just had. “Totally incredible, and I must come back, sometime, and do the two-day kayak tour to the island of Saaremaa that your guide just told me about.”
She dropped the buoyancy aid onto the counter top as the assistants hung the returned suits on the racks and stowed the other gear in behind. Peeling off her sticky neoprene-sided boots, she dumped them too before she turned to Nairn and gave him an unconscious hug of thanks, her eyes latching onto his. “You’ve no idea how so at home I felt paddling out there on the water. Peter the Great’s walled city is incredible, unlike anything I’ve experienced and to see it from out on the bay like that was…heaven.”
Nairn’s arms clasped around her. Even more heaven, but his next words shattered her comfort zone.
“Sorry to burst your euphoric bubble, Aela,” he grinned down at her, those eyes of his a teasing glimmer. “I need you to tell me right now. How easy was it to unclip?”
Aela knew her eyes hit the ceiling. “You used me as a guinea pig?”
Nairn’s answering laugh said it all.
She couldn’t believe it. Nairn had given her such a fabulous experience…yet had used her at the same time - the devious sod! Still, she couldn’t stop the mirth rising. “You watched me, didn’t you? So you know just exactly how much I fumbled, Nairn Malcolm. And it’s only the month of June…not September, or October, when it’s much colder!”  

Personally I'm hoping to visit Tallinn quite soon, also for a very short time like Aela but I don't see me kayaking or bog-shoeing in the woody bogs around Tallinn avoiding the wild wolves. Tallinn is one of the stops on the cruise my OH has booked for June 2018, so I'll let you know later this year what my thoughts are on the city.

Till the next #Monday#Meanders... 

If the above whetted your appetite for a fun read try here:





Slainthe! 



Wednesday, 3 January 2018

#B.R.A.G. Medallion for The Taexali Game!

Happy 3rd January to you!

It was a complete delight to read an email stating that The Taexali Game had been awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion.

This is a very great honour and I'm humbled to be joining a long line up of hugely worthy authors on the indieB.R.A.G. website. To be able to declare myself as a 'B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree' on my website and blog gives me immense pleasure because I've recently got to know some historical authors who are also on the indieB.R.A.G. website and their work is incredibly good. 

So what does that acronym stand for and how did The Taexali Game come to gain such an impressive status?

The indie part is fairly self-explanatory and indicates that only self published books of a certain high standard  qualify for an award from the site.

B.R.A.G. stands for Book Readers Appreciation Group.

The Taexali Game was read by a number of readers who thoroughly 'marked it off according to 10 strict criteria' e.g title; cover; plot; characters; writing style; dialogue; chapters; copy editing; content editing... and most important for me as a brand new self- publisher...formatting!

That highly important formatting process which took me on and off a whole month of effort to be sure of!

Out of 10 categories The Taexali Game was awarded a 5/5 in 8 of the categories which delights me very much.

So having achieved the personal status of being a B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree what's next?

Actually, I'm not sure, apart from the fact that I'll be proclaiming it highly around and about and I'll be adding the new cover with explanation on the sidebar of this blog. And then it'll be a website change....and then who knows? 

Meanwhile a little celebratory drink is in order.

Slainthe! 

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

#Review 1 of 2018 The House at Ladywell

January 2nd - Review 1 of 2018

I've decided to try out this new reviewing system this year though I might just need a wee prompt to keep it up. let me know, please, if you see me slipping or deviating too much from the format!

The House At Ladywell by Nicola Slade.

This was a thoroughly enjoyable book that I wished I could read in one sitting since I was engrossed. As it happened I read it over one day and one night! 
The tale of the house at Ladywell slowly unfolds with historical glimpses of the surroundings and the inhabitants over the centuries from the earliest Roman times to the present day. Those snatches of previous residents are skilfully interwoven for the reader as the new owner delves back to uncover details about the previous occupants of the house bequeathed to her. The perpetuity of descendants of one family being in situ over 1500 years and more has, I think, got to be a rare occurrence anywhere but it rings true for The House at Ladywell. 
The characters are beautifully drawn and the writing and editing superb. 
The background of Freya Gibson is eventually revealed but the revelations, I think, further enhance her strong character. I’d love to meet Patrick- that successful author and the man in Freya’s life! The supporting characters are also well rounded, especially Nathan the man who can get Freya anything decoratively speaking and the tiny Mary Draper who is like a little whirlwind.
The supernatural aspects of the house work immediately: the ‘house’ now winding a positive spell of its own! (hopefully all previous negatives having been set in 'balance').

This 5 star read is to be recommended for those who love a good mystery; a satisfying romance; and those who enjoy a little dash of the supernatural added in for good measure.

Slainthe! 

Lang may yer lum reek!

Happy New Year to yin an a'! May 2018 be a wonderful one for you. 

Being not quite well enough has delayed my New Year Greetings but I think I might just be waving goodbye to the nastiest virus I've had in a long time.

That's my excuse for not sending my New Year Greetings till today, the second of January.

The only good thing about being in poor health is that I read a lot more than I would normally have yesterday, being 1st January. My aim to get straight back to my writing is delayed again till I summon the energy. However, my new year wishes are extended to all who read this blog.



Slainthe!