Category Archives: Romance

Medieval Monday

Bob Geldof sang that he didn’t like Mondays but I do because it means another Medieval Monday excerpt.  Today I’m hosting Lane McFarland.

The Daughters of Alastair MacDougall Series

Set in late thirteenth century Scotland, this series tells the stories of Laird Alastair MacDougall’s four independent and oftentimes, headstrong daughters coming of age in a country fraught with war and feuds amongst rival clans. Follow his daughters as their lives become intertwined with four fierce, rebel highland warriors bent on eradicating the English soldiers from their homeland.

Lindsey

Who said life was fair? Certainly not Lindsey MacDougall. She rebels at a world dominated by men. Dressed in lad’s clothing, she manages her father’s stables, caring for, breeding and selling horses. Unwavering on performing her duty to the rebellion, Lindsey throws caution to the wind and secretly delivers missives behind enemy lines to the Scottish warriors.

Logan Ross uses his happy-go-lucky smile to warm the hearts of many willing lasses, but it also masks his pain—the pain of his birth. As a bastard son, he is unacceptable for any Laird’s daughter, including the spirited Lindsey MacDougall. However, she haunts his dreams. Determined to prove his worth, he throws himself into the middle of the rebellion, leading men into mortal danger.

After helping Logan escape from a brutal English dungeon, Lindsey fights her traitorous attraction to the virile highland warrior, vowing never to lose her heart to any man.

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Her pulse pounded in her ears, and she trembled with rage. She wanted to pounce on him, grab his blade, and sink it into his gut. Straining to gain composure, she turned her back on the men and set her basket on the floor. Her hand trembled as she inhaled the putrid air and struggled to calm her nerves. She must maintain her heartless pretense, appear untouched by the savagery. Biting the side of her lip, she rummaged through the jars and extracted the healing salves.

Chains rattled behind her. Thumps of dead weight and groans indicated the guard had freed the men. As he marched from the cell, he cast a look at Lindsey and slammed the door. The lock clunked, and his booted footsteps grew quieter as he strode away.

Follow along next week by checking out Jenna Jaxon’s blog with excerpt #10 https://jennajaxon.wordpress.com/

 

BUY LINKS: AMAZON

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Romance on the Road

‘I’m glad I caught you, Elisabeth.  I’ve got a proposal for you…’

Words to stir anyone’s heart.  In this case not from Tom Hiddleston (I keep hoping) but the librarian at Macclesfield Library where I do my Tuesday morning writing session.  She asked me if I would be interested in taking part in the Romance on the Road campaign organised jointly by Mills & Boon, The Reading Agency and the Mobile Library Service.

Mills & Boon have had a long involvement with mobile libraries but I didn’t know until I started looking into the campaign that Charles Boon, one of the founders, worked in a mobile library before going into partnership and starting the publishing house.

With all that in mind, and the chance to spread the Mills & Boon love for Valentine’s Day, how could I resist!

As a result, earlier this week found me out bright and early in Cheshire , heading down country lanes that got smaller and more twisty to meet up with Jon and the mobile library. While over 70 mobile libraries are taking part in the event around the country, Cheshire East has been chosen to be one of the ‘Fabulous Five’ with stickers, balloons,sashes for the driver, and gifts to give out to library users.

 

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There was a sticker on the front too!

 

Our first rendezvous was in the car park of the Badger Inn Church Minshull .  I waited, hoping I was in the right place and before long the car park had filled up with a group of eager readers, waiting with piles of books.  I can imagine that if I lived there the tri-weekly visit would be a real highlight for me.  I was excited even waiting once!  The library van arrived decorated with stickers and a poster with my books in the window, the doors slid open and in we went to be greeted with bunting and shiny pink padded envelopes.

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Church Minshull residents joining in a photo opportunity – thank you all.

I had taken along some of my books to discuss and the villagers were particularly impressed with the cover of The Blacksmith’s Wife, especially when I mentioned I had asked for Aidan Turner as the cover model.  They told me that inspired by the recent BBC adaption of Poldark, the village had got together and created a calendar featuring village men in Poldark-y poses.  So far they’ve raised over £2000 which is incredible!

It was wonderful to meet such an enthusiastic crowd and I’m half tempted to move there, if only so I can join the ballroom dancing class!

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If you’re wondering what I’m holding in the photos, they’re Valentine’s gifts that Mills & Boon had sent along.  I had a box  of packages waiting for me inside the library.  It was very hard not to peek to find out which books were inside!

 

 

The residents of Church Minshull went off for their regular post-library coffee in the pub while I looked on enviously.  While we waited for time to leave, we made a display of some of the copies of Mills & Boon titles that were in the library van.

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Some of the Mills & Boon titles that were in the library.  Have you read any of them?

Our next stops were at the two ends of Home Farm Park in Lea where we met residents who live on the park permanently (I was super impressed with Jon’s ability to  reverse park in such small spots).  It was a warm, sunny day so it was nice to stand around with light streaming in through the library door and be able to chat to borrowers (of library books, not small people living under the floorboards).  One of the visitors told me her daughter lives just outside Macclesfield and is a keen reader of historical so I was pleased to be able to give her a copy of The Saxon Outlaw’s Revenge which is set in the area.  We spent some time discussing our favourite historical authors and browsing the shelves (the library is impressively stocked with something to suit everyone- a real TARDIS).

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Jon with his special pink sash in the background.

I recommended my favourite author and managed to pick up a copy of a book I’ve been searching for in the process (well I couldn’t spend a morning in a library and not leave with something).

The van had to move on to the next stop and I needed to get back to carry on writing my new story.  Before I said goodbye I did get to wear the sash that I had been coveting since I arrived.

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The closest I’ll get to being Miss World!

The van goes out on three-weekly timetables around villages in Cheshire. The promotion is running until the 14th February and there are still plenty of gift bags to collect before Valentine’s Day itself so keep an eye out for the van with pink stickers heading your way!

Thank you Cheshire East Libraries for inviting me along.  I had a lovely morning and it was great to see how well the library was used.  I’m lucky to have always lived in towns where there is a library and made great use of it, from nipping in on the way home from school as a teenager to fill in time before the bus (and often missing the next as a result of getting absorbed in a book) to taking my own young children as welcome moment of sanity amid sleepless nights and PND.  Not everyone is so lucky to have a library on their doorstep and the Mobile Library Service provides a wonderful way of accessing books for those living too far to get to one regularly.  With funding cuts and libraries being threatened increasingly with closure, keeping services like this going will be so important to people living in more isolated areas.

Libraries, exploring and Mills & Boon- three of my favourite things in one day!

 

The Reading Agency is a charity whose aim is to inspire more people to read.  They do a superb job of encouraging people of all ages to pick up a book and targeting groups who might not have access otherwise.  You can find out more of what they do here.

Valentine Giveaway

It’s the season of romance (unless you’re cynical and Northern like me).  To celebrate Valentine’s Day Harlequin are running a giveaway with a difference.

All the authors taking part are giving away a copy of one of their own books and a secret surprise title by another author.  I’m giving away a copy of The Saxon Outlaw’s Revenge  and I’ll give you a clue to my secret book-it’s by one of my fellow Unlaced Ladies – all Harlequin Historical authors who manage The Unlaced Book Club where we discuss writing, inspirations and anything else that takes our fancy with a historical or romantic theme.

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The giveaway runs for the whole of February.  Lucky it’s a short month so you won’t have to wait for too long to find out if you’ve won.

You can enter the giveaway here or by clicking the picture and find details of other authors taking part with the hashtag #HarlequinSecretValentine on Twitter.

 

 

 

Medieval Monday- Introducing Laurel O’Donnell

Christmas is over but that doesn’t mean we can’t still enjoy a bit of Yule magic.  Here is the wonderful Laurel O’Donnell with Mistletoe Magic

A confident knight arrives home to find his childhood friend grown into much more than he remembered. The lady of the castle keeps a dangerous secret that threatens all she holds dear. Will Mistletoe Magic save them?

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Yuletide. It had always made Jaclyn Fainwick excited and happy with the potential of what the future held. This one day, amongst all the rest, was when every hope, every dream could come true. She loved this day above all the rest in the year.

She sat before the hearth in the Great Hall, waiting for the festivities to begin, swinging her feet back and forth. She had been waiting for most of the day. Her father would come, and her mother, and her brother. All the people she loved would be together on this day. No matter where they were or what they were doing, they would always gather together on the Yuletide.

She twisted and looked behind the large wooden chair she sat in. The shadows at the back of the Hall were getting long as the sun set, stretching dark fingers into the Great Hall. But no one was coming. She turned back and clutched her hands in her lap. If she were very good, her father would bring her something wonderful. A strand of her long dark hair had pulled free of the braid at her back and she swatted it back in place.

The flames danced in the hearth, warming her. She had been alive for ten Yuletides, this would make her eleventh, enough to know that the Yule log would soon be burned. It wouldn’t be long now.

Around her, the servants cleared the tables from the feast. A dog rushed beneath the table to gobble up a scrap of the duck that had fallen.

Suddenly, booted footsteps echoed down the hall.

Her stomach lurched with excitement and Jaclyn turned to see her friend, Alexander, run into the Great Hall, followed by her brother, Paul. She sat back in disappointment. Alexander reached her side first, skidding to a halt on the rushes.

“I told you she’d be in here,” Paul said, stopping at her other side. He was out of breath as if he had run a far distance. His brown hair was in a disarray on his head; his blue jupon was askew, his black boots dirty.

Alexander looked at her and grinned.

Jaclyn’s heart lurched at his twinkling blue eyes, as it always did. Even at thirteen summers, Alexander was the most handsome boy she had ever met. His blonde hair reached to his shoulders and always had just the right amount of wave to it. He was not dressed as nicely as Paul, but he carried himself with more confidence. He usually wore a leather vest and black leggings, the same he was wearing on this Yuletide.

He met her gaze. “Your father is coming,” he said with restrained exuberance.

She turned in her chair to face the door.

“I was going to tell her,” Paul complained.

It didn’t matter who told her. Outside the door in the hallway, Jaclyn heard heavy footsteps. It sounded like the entire village was with her father! She could barely sit still in her exhilaration. A moment skipped by and then her father appeared. He was the tallest man of all the men following behind him, his shoulders broad, his hair dark. He was surrounded by knights and villagers. They entered the hall behind him as he walked toward her.

She stood to greet him.

“My dove,” he whispered and greeted her with a hug.

She embraced him.

He pulled back to look at her. “Before we light the Yule log, I want to give you this. You have been a very good girl this year, and a wonderful daughter.” He held something out to her.

Jaclyn hadn’t noticed he was carrying anything. She looked down to see he was holding a branch with green leaves and white berries. She gasped, “It’s beautiful!” and took the branch from his hand.

“The berries reminded me of the winter snow,” her father said softly.

Jaclyn nodded. “But the green leaves belong in the summer!” She looked up at him. “The trees have long since lost their leaves. Where did you find it?”

“I had to travel very far to find it.” he told her, leaning in to add, “It’s magical.”

“Like Yuletide!” Jaclyn gasped.

Her father smiled and nodded. “That’s why I brought it to you now. Keep it safe, child.”

Jaclyn nodded and hurried through the villagers and gathered guests. She paused to glance back at her father. He was silhouetted before the warm hearth fire, his arms on his hips, watching her. She curtseyed slightly. “Thank you, Father.”

He dipped his head in a nod.

Jaclyn knew the perfect place to keep it safe. The perfect spot for it. She raced to her room and flung a cloak about her shoulders. She paused to stare at the branch. It was amazing. Summer and winter, all rolled up into one glorious plant. She gently touched one of the berries.

“Father’s going to light the Yule log.”

Buy Mistletoe Magic

Things that aren’t romantic.

My husband and I have an ongoing debate about whether certain things are romantic or not (buying flowers, meals out, taking your own wine glass to the kitchen at bedtime…)

One of our occasional disagreements is over the Roy Orbison song ‘Drove All Night’.

For anyone who doesn’t know the song it’s about a bloke who decides he misses his girlfriend/wife/partner so drives to her/their house through the night.  He arrives in the morning (no mention of pausing for a shower after a six r seven hour car journey)and wakes her up for sex.   He is proud of this fact.

I’m fairly sure that you can tell from my synopsis which side of the debate I come down on.

Stopping someone having a lie in because you were feeling horny is not something to be proud of.

‘I drove all night, crept in your room, woke you from your sleep, to make love to you.’

Umm… no.  That’s you feeling entitled to a reward for unasked for spontaneity.

Try driving all night, creeping in with a pot of tea (and a bacon sandwich if you’re really pressed for time), leaving it by the bed then GOING AWAY FOR HALF AN HOUR.

Then you might be in with a shot (bonus points if you make a start on tidying the kitchen while you’re waiting).

Anyway, here’s the video, which is pretty cool.

I’m unlikely to ever use it as a book inspiration because I promise that whatever my heroes do to show their devotion it will never involve interrupting sleep.

Tell me your least romantic romantic gestures?

On the subject of romance, next month is Valentine’s Day.  I’ll be running a special giveaway for a chance to win a copy of The Saxon Outlaw’s Revenge so watch this space.