Category Archives: The Blacksmith’s Wife

Meet Roger- cover reveal

I love getting covers through. There’s always a slight anxiety that the model or scene won’t resemble anything in the book but so far (Saxon’s black hair aside) I’ve been very pleased with mine.

The cover for Redeeming the Rogue Knight was particularly important because it was my first book that was linked to a previous one through a character.  We’ve already met the hero Roger in The Blacksmith’s Wife as he was Joanna’s original crush (boo, hiss).  His brother Hal was on the cover of that book so I made it clear when I filled in the Art Fact Sheet that I was hoping for someone with a family resemblance.  Here’s what they gave me.

RTRK NA cover

The story starts with Roger and his companion leaving a nobleman’s house around dawn.  Judging by the colour of the sky it’s pretty early and he certainly looks like he’s checking he isn’t being followed.

‘Roger finished dressing rapidly in his thickly padded jerkin and travelling cloak and reached for his sword. He cast a final look around the room in case they had forgotten anything before leading the way to the kitchens where he knew there was a door that would be unguarded. Making friends with the maidservant was proving to have a benefit he had not anticipated and they were able to creep out without being spotted and make their way to the stables.

In silence, they wrapped sacking around their horses’ hooves and shouldered their saddles. The animals snickered in protest at the early start and Roger paused to run his hand across the rough winter coat of the chestnut courser. They led their mounts around the edge of the courtyard. Fortune was on their side as they passed through the gateway without notice.’

Have you spotted the anachronism? It was the second thing I saw (right after I’d stopped admiring Roger’s arms) but most people admitted they never got past looking at Roger.  Anyway, I’m very happy with it and I think the covers make a lovely pair.

I can definitely see a family resemblance, can you?

Dany brothers NA covers.

 

Redeeming the Rogue Knight is out in August (print) and September (ebook) and is available to preorder viewBook.at/RogueKnight

The Blacksmith’s Wife is still available if you want to discover his backstory myBook.to/BlacksmithWife

 

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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.

 

library-van
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.

churchminshull
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!

secretbooks

 

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.

library-inside
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).

park-farm
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.

sash
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.

Dance the night away.

>An older post updated to include the scene from Redeeming the Rogue Knight.<

It’s party season and I’m looking forward to getting out on Friday night for a dance with my colleagues so I thought I’d share some of the scenes from my books involving dancing. I love dancing and don’t get to do it often enough so I make sure my couples get the chance.  Learning how to dance properly is on my to-do list when I eventually have the time (and a willing partner).

First from Falling for Her Captor

Falling for Her Captor

Stephen slammed his goblet onto the table. ‘We should dance!’ he shouted, and applause filled the room.

He reached out his hand to Aline, his jaw set and his eyes narrowed. Reluctantly she took his hand and walked to the centre of the room, her eyes cast down. A hush descended over the hall.

‘A quadrille for Lady Aline,’ Stephen announced.

The musicians took up their instruments once more and began to play a simple melody. Stephen took Aline’s hands and together they began to circle the room, the familiar steps of the dance coming back to her as they moved together. She caught a glimpse of Hugh again, deep in conversation with a young woman dressed in scarlet. The woman put her hand to his arm and dipped her head coyly. Hugh smiled. Aline frowned, then caught herself in the act. What was it to her who he talked to?

Hugh gave no indication of noticing her, though she thought she saw him glance in her direction as Stephen lifted and spun her. Stephen didn’t look away from her face, however, and she dared not stare too obviously.

The musicians increased their tempo and other couples joined Aline and Stephen on the floor. The dance became more intricate now: the pairs were weaving between each other, now in one circle, now in two, now in lines, the men lifting the women in sweeping arcs before moving speedily on to a new partner. After her long confinement Aline leapt high and swung wildly, laughing and lost in the dance—until she looked into the face of her newest partner.

A half-smile played upon Hugh’s lips as he bowed to her. His blue eyes met her own. Familiar arms encircled her waist and lifted her off her feet, spun her. They passed shoulder to shoulder, their hands brushing fleetingly as they circled round, their eyes never breaking away.

Then he was gone.

 

Next one from the midwinter feast which Will has staked his savings on in A Wager for the Widow (the dress in the excerpt is the one Eleanor wears on the cover).

piccie

Eleanor walked through the doorway and Will forgot everything.

She wore green. Pale silk under a mantle of heavy, emerald velvet laced with gold braid from beneath her high breasts to her slender waist. Her hair had been twisted atop her head and encased in a net of gold so that her braids flamed between the metal. The gown left her shoulders bare and the elegant expanse of creamy flesh sent Will’s heart thudding into his stomach.

Half-a-dozen men leapt to their feet as they saw Eleanor, but Will was quicker. He tore his gaze from the curve of her throat and collarbone and strode to her. He bowed before her, then lifted his head. His eyes travelled slowly up her body until he met her gaze, determined to leave her in no doubt of the effect she was having upon him. She looked uncertain until Will gave her a discreet wink. She smiled back and the world brightened, as though a hundred more candles had begun to burn.

‘Let me escort you to your seat, Lady Peyton,’ Will said formally. As she took his outstretched arm he whispered in an undertone, ‘You’re the most beautiful woman in the room. It was worth the hailstorm to see you in that dress.’

Eleanor said nothing, but a blush crept across her cheeks and her fingers tightened on his arm. Will led her to her seat, reluctantly relinquishing her to the company of the Sheriff of Tawstott. He could barely keep his eyes from her for the rest of the feast.

When the final dishes had been removed the tables were cleared for the dancing to begin. The musicians tuned their instruments and an expectant hush fell over the hall.

Allencote began to thread his way through the crowd towards her and Will crossed the room to her side. The two men reached her at the same time. Eleanor looked from one to the other apprehensively.

‘Will you dance the first measure with me, Lady Peyton?’ Allencote asked, a shade before Will could ask the same question.

Eleanor’s eyes flickered briefly to Will’s. He held her gaze boldly though his stomach curled with anxiety. It was out of his hands now. If she chose Allencote, he had lost everything.

 

Hal and Joanna’s first dance is at their wedding reception in The Blacksmith’s Wife

Blacksmith's wife cover

‘We should dance,’ Hal said, pushing his chair back and helping Joanna to her feet. He was quick on his feet and graceful. Under any other circumstance dancing with him would have been a delight, but as he led her through the steps Joanna’s thoughts were on his last words. When the day ended they would return to Hal’s lodgings with all that must happen between a husband and wife. The thought made her feel nauseous and she stumbled her footing through the next steps of the reel. Hal’s arm came about her waist, leading her back into the rhythm.

‘Are you ill?’ he asked, concern clear in his voice.

‘Just a little tired,’ Joanna answered.

As she passed down the line one of Simon’s associates overheard her words. He grasped her round the waist and lifted her high. ‘The bride wishes to sleep,’ he cried. ‘We shall have the bedding ere long!’

Joanna’s blood froze in her veins. That part of the wedding night had kept her awake night after night. She had steeled herself to bear whatever her husband bade her do, but to be disrobed in front of the guests would be unendurable. Cheers soared around the room, echoing his words. Joanna felt herself passed from guest to guest through the steps of the dance. Her protestations were ignored as hands gripped her skirts, pulling at the cloth as if they would begin undressing her right there. Laughing faces leered at her as for one terrible moment she became the centre of a circle of dancers before a pair of strong arms gripped her and she was clasped against someone’s chest. She tried to pull free but a soothing voice hushed her, brushing her hair from her face.

‘I’m sorry to disappoint you, gentlemen and ladies, but there will be no bedding,’ Hal said.

Joanna gave a gasp of relief. He smiled down at her with eyes full of intent that caused a shiver to race along her spine.

‘My wife is my own tonight,’ he said quiet enough for only her to hear.

 

Next, the book where no one dances, but which contains a dance scene nevertheless, The Saxon Outlaw’s Revenge

SOR front

The second time they met it had been spring, not many weeks later than it was today. A time after they had settled in Hamestan, but before the thegns rose against her people. A market day filled with rare laughter and music where Constance had believed they were becoming accepted, that they could live in peace alongside each other.

There had been dancing and she’d watched enviously as the girls spun about the circle with their skirts flying, trying to ignore the stares and whispers.

Aelric had been at the centre of the knot, a set of pipes to his lips and his red-blond hair falling into his eyes. He had paused his tune as he spotted her watching and threaded his way through the circle towards her and held out his hand. When she indicated the stick she leaned on his expression hadn’t been one of pity or ridicule like she was used to, but regret. Instead of turning immediately back to the dance he’d taken her hand and bowed, then walked with her through the marketplace, leaving his friends behind.

She’d fallen a little bit in love with him at that moment.

 

Since I originally wrote this post I’ve published Redeeming the Rogue Knight

Featured Image -- 2066

Even though he’s injured, Roger Danby can’t resist the chance to try get Lucy into his arms for a spin.

He took a brief moment of respite, enjoying the view of Lucy’s legs as she twisted her feet to grind the rushes firmly into place. In the time it had taken him to finish his task she had completed half of hers. She looked as though she was working her way through the measure of a dance.

Roger began to whistle the tune to a French jig that sprung to his mind. Lucy stopped mid-step, one leg bent with heel raised in a pose that twisted her hip to the side and caused the curves of her waist and breasts to command Roger’s attention. The effect was only spoiled by the manner in which she glared at him suspiciously. He explained what he was doing and she rolled her eyes as if it confirmed her opinion of him as a wastrel, lowering her leg and smoothing her dress down.

‘We could dance together and finish in half the time,’ Roger suggested with a bold grin. Despite the soreness of his wound he suddenly found himself yearning for further movement. The idea of taking Lucy in his arms and pulling her close as they worked through the steps made his spirits lift. Some dances involved more than hand holding and polite bowing. She did not refuse immediately and looked almost as if she was considering his suggestion seriously, but then shook her head.

‘It’s been too long since I danced. I fear I’d make a poor partner for a man used to fine company.’

He’d expected refusal, but not this excuse. Denial that she had time to spare for such diversions, possibly. Suspicion that it was a ploy of some sort, almost certainly. A criticism of her own abilities, not at all.

‘I don’t think you would,’ Roger said.

He walked to stand opposite her, adding a slight swagger to his walk. He took his time as if he was taking his place in the middle of a dance floor in front of assembled nobles, enjoying Lucy’s eyes on him. Lucy shifted her stance, straightening her back and letting her hands drop to rest at her sides, watching as he crossed to her. As much as she might deny it, Roger recognised she was readying herself to dance.

His pulse began a low drumbeat in his ears.

The skin at the creamy hollow of Lucy’s throat flickered as she lifted her head to meet his eyes, gazing intently at him through pale lashes, before glancing away in a show of modesty that made his blood begin to race all the more for doubting it was real. The room grew hotter, smaller, enfolding them both in a moment that had sprung from nowhere. Roger swallowed, acutely aware of how much he wanted the woman standing before him.

To find out what happens next in any story click on the names of the book to get hold of a copy.

Harlequin hero of the Year

I’m delighted to announce that my Blacksmith hero Hal has made it into the first round of Harlequin Hero of the Year

Each week, the top heroes will go head-to-head for your votes to move on to the next round. Voting for the first round is open now with three days to go.

Hal is the only Historical hero  in the contest so if you loved the character, the book, or just have a soft spot for Historicals (or blacksmiths) please show your support and vote him through.

Vote for Hal Danby

Blacksmith's wife cover

 

Sneak peek

With less than a week to go until the release of The Blacksmith’s Wife I thought I’d share a snippet.  This is the first meeting between Hal and Joanna.  Joanna has talked her way into the tournament grounds, hoping to find Sir Roger, the knight she is in love with.

Joanna made her way to the courtyard where makeshift stables and workshops had been assembled. She had given up hope of finding Sir Roger when, through a sudden parting in the crowd, she saw familiar black curls and glimpsed the line of his jaw just as he turned away.

A thrill of anticipation rippled through Joanna as she eased her way towards him. It had been six months since Sir Roger had last been in York. Despite the urge to run to his arms Joanna stood back and watched in admiration.

Sir Roger was facing away from her, sharpening a sword with slow, sure strokes. He had removed his armour and padded woollen tunic, but instead of the customary fitted doublet of fine wool he favoured, he was dressed in britches and a shapeless tunic drawn in at the waist with a thick belt. As Joanna watched he laid the sword on a trestle table, rolled his head from side to side and stretched his arms high.

Intending to surprise him Joanna crept behind him. She reached on tiptoe to whisper in his ear, her lips close enough to brush against his hair.

‘Greetings, my lord, I’ve been searching for you.’

He stiffened and turned to face her. Joanna found herself gazing up into Sir Roger’s eyes.

In the face of a stranger.

Her mouth fell open and she stumbled backwards away from the man, dropping her bag. Explanations and apologies tumbled unintelligibly from her lips.

‘I didn’t know… I thought you were… I mean… I’m sorry!’

The man folded his arms across his broad chest. His lips curled into an amused smile. Joanna took another step back, her mind whirling with confusion and embarrassment. Her voice tailed off. Her heart was pounding so loudly she would swear it must be audible. She covered her face with her hands in an attempt to conceal the blush that was turning her pale complexion scarlet and peered through her fingers.

It was little wonder she had mistaken the man for Sir Roger. From behind they shared the same build and unruly curls. Facing her there was still a resemblance. She noticed for the first time that what she had taken for a belt was a long leather apron tied about his waist. Whoever he was, the stranger was no knight.

‘I beg your forgiveness!’ Joanna said, wincing with embarrassment.

The man ran a hand through the tangle of black curls that fell to just below his ears. He eyed Joanna with an open interest that made her heart thump.

‘No forgiveness needed. I thought Lady Fortune was finally smiling on me but alas it seems not,’ he said with an exaggerated note of regret. ‘It’s been so long since I have had such a greeting that I believe I should be thanking you for the experience! Perhaps I will do as a companion?’ he suggested.

If that has whetted your appetite then the book is available at Amazon, B&N, Kobo and other online retailers. Preorder now

I also have an Amazon giveaway running until May 2nd which is open to readers in the US Enter here

 

 

Reviews advance readers

Giveaway time

I received my author copies of The Blacksmith’s Wife so am running a giveaway via Goodreads to win copy.

Enter here

The giveaway is open to readers in the UK, North America, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Europe (any further afield and the postage kills me).

Nearer release date I’ll be doing guest posts on a number of blogs and running giveaways via those too so keep watching for details.Blacksmith's wife cover

Cover Reveal

I’ve received the cover art for The Blacksmith’s Wife and I have to say it’s certainly eye catching!

Blacksmith's wife cover.jpg

Obviously the big difference between this and my other books is having more than one person and a change of composition.  I love my single ladies on Falling for Her Captor and A Wager for the Widow but as a reader I’m always drawn to covers with the characters interacting.  As a friend said of this cover that they look like they’re in the middle of an argument but you can tell there is attraction running beneath it, which sums up the book well.

Hal is a wonderful looking hero who is close enough to Aidan Turner to make me happy (I did put in a request).  I can’t remember if I described Joanna wearing green in the story but I’m pleased to have another green-clad heroine to continue the theme of my other two books.

I love the tagline on the front as well.

Here’s a short extract that might have inspired the cover art.

Hal did not answer when she knocked on the door. She thumped again and when there was still no response she cautiously lifted the latch and entered. The heat was stifling. Hal was standing with his back to the door. He had removed his tunic and sweat ran in rivulets down his back, his shirt clinging to his body. He worked silently, unaware of her presence, tapping the bar of glowing metal, flattening and turning it as it lengthened into a sword blade.

As she stood, back to the door watching in fascination, Hal swore. He began to hammer harder, turning the blade over and over until, with a roar of frustration, he lifted the hammer high and brought it down hard on the anvil beside the blade.

Joanna gasped at the sudden ferocity.

Hal stiffened and turned.  ‘How long have you been watching?’ he asked furiously.

‘Not long…’ Joanna faltered. She reached for the door latch. ‘I’ll go.’

‘No, don’t. I’ve lost my way with this piece.’ Hal lowered his hammer and rubbed his eyes wearily. ‘Why are you here?’

Joanna held out the ale. ‘It’s hot today. I thought you might be thirsty.’

He stared at the mug uncertainly before taking it. He raised it to his lips, but paused and his eyes filled with suspicion.  ‘You haven’t visited me here since your first day. Why now?’

Preorder The Blacksmith’s Wife

I’d love to know what you think of the cover so please leave a comment to let me know.

 

 

Belated New Year greetings

Happy New Year.  I feel there should be a statute of limitations (or perhaps a statue of limitations) on saying that.  It’s been a hectic time, as I’m sure it has been for everyone.  My plan to write at least two chapters of m WIP over my Christmas break didn’t go according to plan, though I did manage to scribble notes in between the mince pies and cake.  Just as well as it’s due to my editor by the end of March!  The story is set in Norman Cheshire so I have lots of excuses to go for walks into the hills to soak up the atmosphere for research.

2016 will be another exciting year for me because my next book The Blacksmith’s Wife is out in May.  I haven’t got a cover yet but here is the blurb.

‘A passion forged from fire 

Rejected by her favored knight, Joanna Sollers knows she will never love again. Especially when the man she’s now forced to marry is none other than her beloved’s half brother!

For blacksmith Hal Danby, marrying Joanna makes his lifelong dream of entering the Smiths’ Guild possible, even if the secrets in his past mean he’ll forever keep his distance. But everything changes with one stolen night, and in the arms of his new bride, Hal wonders if this loveless arrangement could transform into something real…’

I was pleased to see the gorgeous Aidan Turner, the inspiration for Hal,  getting so much positive attention for his many charms in And Then There Were None.  Here’s a quick pic in case you missed it.  Definitely someone I’d want to sweep me off my feet.

The rather lovely Aidan Turner

 

I hope I get a cover model just as striking!

I’ll be sure to share its soon as I can.

 

In the meantime, a reminder that I’m on Twitter and Facebook (despite Facebook’s attempts to bury pages under a patio where no one will find them) so do pop in to say hello.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Blacksmiths-Wife-Harlequin-Historical-ebook/dp/B017RCL96M