Monday, 22 July 2013

Book Review: Lost to the Desert Warrior

Lost to the Desert Warrior
by Sarah Morgan

Published: August 2013 by Harlequin Mills & Boon
Format: Paperback & ebook
ISBN-13: 9780373131778

"Walking into the lion's den unprotected, Princess?" For Layla, princess of Tazkhan, her arranged marriage means one thing - a lifetime of cruelty and captivity. Such an unendurable prospect drives her to throw herself at the mercy of Sheikh Raz Al Zahki - her family's greatest enemy!

Raz demands one thing in return for the safe haven Layla is seeking - this brooding desert king wants to make her his queen! Her freedom might be secured, but now her heart is at risk, for soon she's lost to the scorching heat of their marriage bed. However, it will take more than fire to thaw her guarded husband.
Sheikh stories are not normally my thing and I haven't read one for years (in fact I'm not sure that I've ever read one), but the blurb for Ms Morgan's book piqued my interest and I decided to give it a go. I'm so glad that I did because I fell in love with Raz and enjoyed this book from its exciting start to the satisfying happy ending.

Layla is incredibly brave and a worthy heroine for Raz. She is determined in a quiet, non-feisty kind of way and applies logic to help her work out how to handle a situation. Raz is a born protector - both of his family and also his country. Together they are perfect for each other.

We see Layla's sister, Yasmin, and Raz's brother, Salem, briefly. She is lost in the desert and Salem is despatched to find her. Can't wait to read their story!

A great story which I thoroughly enjoyed. I give this book 5 out of 5.

Thank you NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to read it.

Monday, 15 July 2013

RNA Conference: my first ever editor pitch

Back home now safe and sound after an excellent weekend in sun-soaked Sheffield at the Romantic Novelists' Association Annual Conference.

I had booked a 1 to 1 slot with a Mills & Boon editor beforehand, but as the dreaded hour grew closer I was more and more panicked by what I'd done.

On the morning of my pitch I felt more nervous than when visiting the dentist. I couldn't eat any breakfast (now that's really nervous for me). I'd rehearsed my pitch until I was word perfect. I knew my theme and I knew my character arcs. But all that angst was for naught. Pippa Roscoe, Acting Assistant Editor for Mills and Boon Modern, was delightful and immediately put me at my ease. My pitch was unnecessary and she plunged straight into telling me what she thought about my 1st chapter and synopsis.

The good news is my chapter wasn't awful and I wasn't publicly humiliated and thrown out of the conference. So thank you Pippa for being so kind and it was lovely to meet you.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Book Review: One Night with the Enemy

One Night with the Enemy
by Abby Green

Published: August 2012 by Harlequin Mills & Boon
Format: Paperback & ebook
ISBN-13: 9780263891010

In Argentina’s breathtaking vineyards … Nicolás de Rojas and Madalena Vasquez had a stolen affair amongst the Mendozan vineyards – until Maddie discovered a devastating secret about Nic, and left without another word. He will have her once again! Now Maddie is back, having inherited her family’s struggling vineyard, and she’s at Nic’s mercy – right where he wants her. He’s one of Argentina’s most successful vintners, and Maddie desperately needs Nic’s help. But will she agree to his condition? One exquisite night with him … to finish what they started eight years ago …
One of my favourite stories of all time is Romeo and Juliet, and this novel gives a modern twist to Shakespeare's play.

The de Rojas and Vasquez families have been feuding for so long that no one is quite sure how it all started. Eight years previously, Nic and Maddie's relationship was forbidden and the consequences of it left them both badly hurt. Now Maddie has returned home to Argentina to try and rescue the family vineyard that has been neglected by her late father. But Nic will do everything he can to get rid of her and get her out of his life before she can hurt him again like she did all those years before.

I really enjoyed this story and Ms Green wrings out every ounce of emotion throughout the book. Plus she throws in some interesting little details about wine making (my field of expertise is more on the drinking side).

I couldn't put this book down once I'd started it. I can see why it was M&B's Book of the Month and give it 5 out of 5.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Beautiful Book Cover

My lovely friend, Jules, has just received the photo shot of her new book cover. Isn't it gorgeous?

Talk to me will be published by Choc Lit next year and I can't wait to read it. Well done Jules!

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Book Review: Princess in the Iron Mask

Princess in the Iron Mask by Victoria Parker
Princess in the Iron Mask
by Victoria Parker

Published: May 2013 by Harlequin Mills & Boon
Format: Paperback & ebook
ISBN-13: 9780263900187
A princess in hiding.
Dispatched by the king to retrieve his headstrong, errant daughter, Lucas Garcia thought this was just another day at the office. That's before he meets Princess Claudine Verbault, who's adamant that returning to the kingdom that banished her as a child is never going to happen.

A barely concealed attraction!

Hidden from the spotlight, the now-independent Claudia has learned the art of being the anti-perfect princess. But Lucas does not look like the kind of man to accept insubordination! If only she could bargain with this frustratingly immovable man....… and give him something to distract him from his duty!

It's always exciting to read debut books by new Mills and Boon authors and this book did not disappoint.

Claudia is a highly intelligent woman and brilliant scientist who just needs a little more time and more funding to come up with a cure for the condition that plagued her childhood. She was packed off to a hospital in England as a child and has never forgiven  her parents for abandoning her. Lucas is the man responsible for restoring order to her parent's kingdom and the man her father sends to bring her home. Only trouble is Claudia has no intention of going with him, but Lucas won't take no for an answer.

Lucas is a gorgeous hero, sexy as hell, but with a traumatic past. Claudia is a great heroine - vulnerable but with lots of determination and inner strength, and they make a perfect couple. I loved the ballroom scenes which showed how far Claudia had come from the woman she was at the start of the story.

A great debut novel and I give it 4 out of 5.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Procrastinating Again!

You Should Be a Romance Novelist
You see the world as it should be, and this goes double for all matters of the heart.
You can find the romance in any situation, and you would make a talented romance story writer...
And while you may be a traditional romantic, you're just as likely to be drawn to quirky or dark love stories.
As long as it deals with infatuation, heartbreak, and soulmates - you could write it.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Book Review: Her Man in Manhattan

Her Man in Manhattan
Trish Wylie
Published: April 2013 by Harlequin Kiss
Format: paperback
ISBN: 9780373207114
Up close and personal—with her bodyguard!

It seems mayor's daughter Miranda Kravitz has scored herself a new and very dreamy bodyguard! Apparently the fireworks between them are scorching, but will this tabloid darling really be willing to give up her newfound taste for freedom—no matter how gorgeous Tyler Brannigan is?

Rumor has it Brannigan hates playing by the rules and has used up all his strikes with the NYPD vice squad. So now this cop's paying his dues with a temporary assignment as babysitter. If anyone can keep this Manhattan princess in check, surely it's this tough-guy detective? Hopefully handcuffs won't be necessary!
I came to this series late, in fact I didn't even realise it was a series until after I'd finished this book. This is the third book about the Brannigan family. The first is Olivia Brannigan's story in The Inconvenient Laws of Attraction (duh! I'd even got this one on my TBR pile and still didn't click that it was connected). The second book is Daniel Brannigan's story in New York's Finest Rebel. Having met and fallen in love with Tyler in this story I will definitely be checking out the rest of the Brannigan family.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story. A tortured hero and a heroine who is so much more than the pampered princess she seems. What's not to like?

I loved this book and give it 5 out of 5.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Book Review: Shadow Woman

Shadow Woman
Linda Howard
Published: January 2013
Format: ebook
ASIN: B008H33U7W
Lizette Henry wakes up one morning and makes a terrifying discovery: She doesn’t recognize the face she sees in the mirror. She remembers what she looks like, but her reflection is someone else’s. To add to the shock, two years seem to have disappeared from her life. Someone has gone to great and inexplicable lengths to keep those missing years hidden forever. But the past always finds a way to return.

Strange memories soon begin to surface and, along with them, some unusual skills and talents that Lizette hasn’t a clue about acquiring. Sensing that she’s being monitored, Lizette suddenly knows how to search for bugs in her house and tracking devices in her car. What’s more, she can elude surveillance—like a trained agent.

Enter a mysterious and seductive stranger named Xavier, who claims he wants to help—but who triggers disturbing images of an unspeakable crime of which Lizette may or may not be the perpetrator. With memories returning, she suddenly becomes a target of anonymous assassins. On the run with nowhere to hide, Lizette has no choice but to rely on Xavier, a strong and magnetic man she doesn’t trust, with a powerful attraction she cannot resist. As murky waters become clear, Lizette confronts a conspiracy that is treacherous and far-reaching and a truth that, once revealed, may silence her and Xavier once and for all.
You are drawn into this story right from the first page. Lizette starts to realise there are holes in her memory and when she tries to remember she has awful headaches. She bumps into a mysterious man who seems familiar, but as events unfold she isn't sure if he's trying to help her or kill her. There are crosses and double crosses throughout the book and you're not always sure who are the bad guys and who are the good guys.

This isn't quite as good as some of Ms Howard's older books (Son of the Morning is one of my all-time favourites), but it was still a gripping read and once I started I couldn't put it down.

I really enjoyed this book and give it 4 out of 5.

A big thank you to NetGalley for letting me read this book

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Reaching for the Stars - The Video

Look what I found while I was procrastinating researching on t'internet. Came across this lovely interview with Janice Horton, the author of Reaching for the Stars.

Janice's new novella Voodoo Wedding has just been released, I can't wait to read it after enjoying How do you Voodoo?

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

And the winner is...

Last night at a glittering reception, Judy Finnigan and Richard Madeley announced the five category winners who will contest the prestigious Romantic Novel of the Year.

Sarah Mallory won The RoNA Rose Award with Beneath the Major's Scars

Contemporary Romantic Novel winner - Katie Fforde
Epic Romantic Novel winner - Rowan Coleman
Historical Romantic Novel winner - Charlotte Betts
Romantic Comedy Novel winner - Jenny Colgan
Young Adult Romantic Novel Winner - Victoria Lamb
Sophie Kinsella was presented with Outstanding Achievement Award

The winning novels will now be read and judged by five independent industry experts, and the overall winner will be revealed at the Romantic Novelists' Association's (RNA) Summer Party on 16 May 2013.

Annie Ashurst, current RNA Chair, told the capacity gathering of some 250 romantic fiction authors, publishers and guests how proud the Association was of its finalists and winners.

"Tonight we are here to celebrate the success of our brightest stars. We are proud of their talent, tenacity and dedication to their craft. It is a lonely thing to write a novel, and to keep on going even as doubts set in - as they do with us all. Our Awards give us an opportunity to publicly recognising the enjoyment you bring to your readers. Congratulations to you all."

Long-time RNA member, Sophie Kinsella, was honoured with an Outstanding Achievement Award for her continued contribution to the world of romantic fiction.

The category winners 2013
Katie Fforde won the Contemporary Category for the second year running with Recipe for Love. This category is for mainstream romantic novels set after 1960. The other competing authors included Veronica Henry, Mhairi McFarlane, Monica McInerney, Sue Moorcroft and Polly Williams.

In the Epic Category, which deals with issues or themes including multi-generational novels, Rowan Coleman triumphed with Dearest Rose. Other finalists included Madeline Miller, Dilly Court, Kate Moreton, Gill Paul and Liz Trenow.

Finalists in the Historical Category (set before 1960) included Charlotte Betts, Christina Courtenay, Kate Furnivall, Pamela Hartshorne, Susanne Kearsley and Mary Nichols. Charlotte Betts was declared the winner with her novel The Apothecary's Daughter.

In the Romantic Comedy Category, for consistently humorous or amusing novels, the finalists included Jenny Colgan, Victoria Connelly, Jane Costello, Nicola Doherty, Belinda Jones and Jane Wenham-Jones.  Jenny Colgan claimed victory with Welcome to Rosie Hopkins’ Sweetshop of Dreams.

The Young Adult Category features protagonists who are teenagers or young adults and the shortlist this year included Jo Cotterill, Laura Jarratt, Marie-Louise Jensen, Victoria Lamb, Sarra Manning and Susan Waggoner.  Victoria Lamb was declared winner with her book Witchstruck.

The RoNA Rose Award, which recognises the best in category/series and shorter romance that focuses on a developing love affair between hero and heroine, was presented for the second year running to Sarah Mallory, author of Beneath the Major's Scars. Her rivals included: Fiona Harper, Heidi Rice, Carol Townend, and Scarlett Wilson, who had two books nominated. This category does not go forward to contest the Romantic Novel of the Year.

Congratulations to all the winners and the finalists. Can't wait for the Summer Party.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Hiding Exposition

Thanks to a tweet by Roz Morris, I came across this article by Janice Hardy.
You hear it all the time. Make it active. Start with the action. Make sure your characters act. But we've all written scenes where we have to convey a lot of information and there is no action to speak of. We know we can't just flop the info out there and get away with it, so what can a writer do? How do you convey all that information and still keep the scene tense?

I like the layer technique.

On the first draft, I just write what needs to be said and don't worry that it's probably a pretty boring scene. It's critical info, and what matters at this stage is getting it in there.

Once that's done I go back and look for ways to add the "action," which is often just another way of saying tension or narrative drive. Something is moving the story forward, making the reader want to know what happens next. A lot of times this is just the protag worrying they won't get what they want. Whatever it is, there's something unsettling about the scene that's making the characters tense in some way, and the reader unsure (and eager) to know what happens next.

Even in a scene that has no actual action, there are plenty of places you can layer in conflict and keep things tense.
Read this great article on Janice's blog: The Other Side of the Story Ready, Set...Where's the Action? Keeping Informative Scenes Tense

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Happy Valentine's Day

I received these beautiful flowers from my fiancé for Valentine's Day. Aren't they gorgeous?

Thanks also to Portia Potts Floristry for making such a lovely arrangement. I'm afraid the photo doesn't do justice to the deep magenta of the anemones and gerbera.

I also received this great card. How very apt!

Here's hoping your Valentine's has been everything you wanted and inspired your writing muse.

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