Tag Archives: hero

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.

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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

 

The Saxon Outlaw’s Cover reveal

The Saxon Outlaw’s Revenge is out in November in print and ebook in December and I can finally share the cover art and blurb.

At the mercy of her enemy! 

Abducted by Saxon outlaws, Constance Arnaud comes face-to-face with Aelric, a Saxon boy she once loved. He’s now her enemy, but Constance must reach out to this rebel and persuade him to save her life as she once saved his… 

Aelric is determined to seek vengeance on the Normans who destroyed his family. Believing Constance deserted him, he can never trust her again. Yet, as they are thrown together and their longing for each other reignites, will Aelric discover that love is stronger than revenge?

 

SOR front

I’ll be honest and say the cover doesn’t show the Aelric I had in my head because he’s a Saxon so really should be much blonder than reddish and with longer hair (he’s been living wild in the forests of Cheshire for years after all).  I’d used Tom Hiddleston and Tom Felton as inspiration.  Having said that, I love the pose and his brooding intensity.  He does look like someone who might seriously consider whether to sacrifice the woman he loved to get his revenge on the man he hates.

The original cover was slightly different and I emailed my editor and asked if the hair colour could be changed and the art department worked their magic.  The original and new covers are here for comparison.

SOR spot the difference copy

It’s a December release so will be alongside Christmas books on the shelves so I think the candles give it a festive touch too.

The book can be preordered here for readers in the USA and here for readers in the UK

The UK cover hasn’t been finalised yet so I’ll be interested to see which one they go for.

I’d love to know what you think.  Let me know in the comments below.

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

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

 

A very eventful day and a new contest!

Today is the first anniversary of the publication of Falling for Her Captor.  It’s been a fabulous year since release.  The book has received some amazingly positive reviews.  I had a second book released in July, my third is with my editor and I’ve started writing the fourth.

Today was always going to be a celebration of that but it turned out there were multiple reasons.

I found out that Hugh, hero of Falling for Her Captor has made it into Harlequin’s  Hero of the Year contest.  There are sixteen heroes to choose from who will be narrowed down until only one remains.  He’s currently in Region 3 up against a straight laced District Attorney and needs your support to make it through to the next round!

Vote for Hugh here

You can vote daily so remember to go back tomorrow (and the day after…and the day after…)

Falling for her Captor is also released in French today.  If you always meant to brush up your language skills there can’t be a better way than trying to get your tongue round this.  It’s available on Amazon.

Book things aside, the most important thing that happens today is that my son is 10.  Ten.  Double figures.  Closer to adulthood than birth.  This makes me feel all kinds of strange (and old).  He’s currently doing musical things I don’t understand with electronics that alarm me for the number of dials and jacks.  I miss the days of Duplo but he’s turning into such a lovely, grown up boy and I love him loads.

Shameless self-promo

Harlequin are running a contest to find the Harlequin Hero of the year.  The hero has to appear in a book published between October 2014 and September 2015 which means both Hugh and Will are eligible.  The top sixteen heroes will face off to find hero of the year (and who wouldn’t want to watch those scenes acted out) and it would be lovely to see a Historical hero in the mix.  If you’ve enjoyed my books and think Hugh or Will have what it takes please nominate them.

You can Vote here by leaving a comment or tweet to Harlequin Books using the hashtag #HarlequinHero including the name of the hero, book and author.

Nominations end on September 20th.

Sam Vimes -Alpha Male

If you’re reading this post because you follow the blog and are expecting to read about historical romance or Mills & Boon then be aware- this post is different.

It’s only fair to warn you now that this isn’t going to be very coherent because after hearing about Terry Pratchett’s death on Thursday I’m still too sad to articulate properly. I’ve been reading the Discworld series since I first picked up Sourcery back in 1989 and was hooked. I wanted to write something to mark the event which has – no exaggeration – hit me like the loss of a friend and which days later still brings a tear to my eye when I think of it. I could wax lyrical for hours about the humour, warmth, optimism, humanity and anger in the series but there are better writers out there doing a much better job of discussing Sir Terry’s legacy and impact than I could. I’ll just descend into fangirl quoting, try to explain the plots of 40 books and then go off for a cry.

What I do do though is write heroes and throughout the Discworld series I believe one character evolved more than any other. To me he is one of the great alpha male creations in literature and I’ll freely admit to having a huge crush on His Grace, His Excellency, The Duke of Ankh; Commander Sir Samuel Vimes (Blackboard Monitor) and I know I’m far from alone.

A series of books set on a flat world that moves through space on the back of a turtle might seem an unlikely place to find a hero, but the embittered loner fighting his demons is a staple of fiction and I would argue (and will at length if given enough vodka and ginger beer) that had Sam Vimes appeared in any other genre he’d be hailed as one of the great examples of the last half-century. He’s written in the vein of Noir detectives: jaded, cynical and at rock bottom. Like them he needs a purpose in life and the love of a good woman to redeem him and across the Guards strand of novels the story of how he gets these makes compelling reading.

All alphas need a fault to overcome and we first meet Sam Vimes in Guards! Guards!, drunk in a gutter and despairing, having seen the worst and believing there is nothing better to come. He’s been ground down by years of working for psychotic leaders and as we see in Night Watch -to my mind one of the most moving and justifiably angry books written in any genre- from his first days on the job he’s lived through revolution and seen death and loss that would make any man turn to the bottle.

Over the course of Guard! Guards!, in part through his meeting with Lady Sybil, Vimes gradually begins his redemption. This will eventually lead him to become one of the most powerful men in the city while still maintaining his integrity and determination. He’s the archetypal poor kid from the slums made good and throughout the series his innate sense of justice sees him evolve into a knight-errant figure and champion of the underdog (or under goblin) who would not be out of place in any romance novel.

Vimes an anti-authoritarian cynic who constantly sees the worst in humanity (and dwarfantiy and trollanity etc- this is the Discworld after all) yet manages to remain a believer in the need to do the right thing, however hard that might be and however difficult the decisions are. He has swagger and presence; whether facing down the tyrant who rules the city, a gang of backstreet thugs or a group of civic leaders and scheming nobles who still view him as a jumped up slum dweller.

An alpha hero needs to be able to fight. Physically Vimes is tough. He walks the street of the city in battered armour and old boots even when he’s the richest man in the city. He’s capable in a street brawl, battle scarred and often beaten and bruised but gamely carrying on, chewing on his cigar in a manner reminiscent of Clint Eastwood’s Man With No Name and waving a crossbow or dragon with extreme prejudice. When I wrote the duel between Hugh, the hero of Falling for Her Captor, and the villain Duke Stephen it was at least in part influenced by the image of Vimes wearily pulling himself to his feet for a final showdown.

He isn’t perfect- he has his faults but like all great heroes strives to overcome them. He keeps a bottle of best whiskey in his desk drawer to prove daily he can resist temptation and because these are fantasy, when he battles his inner demons he does so in the very real sense of the word.

Commander Sam Vimes of the City Watch

Because these are humorous fantasy novels rather than Romances we don’t get to peek through the keyhole of Sam and Sybil’s bedroom. They aren’t that sort of books. We do, however get a clear insight into their relationship and romance and one thing is absolutely clear- this is a man who simply adores his wife. Who is devoted to her and who will do anything for her (crime solving allowing). This is a man who runs barefoot through the forest, pursued by werewolves to save his wife. A man who will fight across time itself to get back to her. A man who will crawl on his knees through underground caverns to single handedly exact vengeance on a group of fundamentalist conspiracists , all the while screaming the words of a bedtime story he’s promised to read to his son.

I defy any red-blooded woman not to read these books and fall in love with Vimes to some degree.

I first met Vimes at the tender and impressionable age of 14. Terry Pratchett said he imagined the character looking like the late Pete Postlethwaite but to me he was always a little bit Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones, a touch of Sean Bean as Sharpe and later on, a bit of House era Hugh Laurie (apparently a popular choice for the role if it ever comes to the screen).

Vimes, along with Lindsey Davis’ M Didius Falco, pretty much set the bar by which all men are judged.

Poor things.

If I could ever write a hero with one tenth of the appeal of Sam Vimes I’ll consider myself a very happy author indeed.

That we’ll never discover what happens to Sam, or any of the other characters is one of the reasons Sir Terry’s death has hit fans so hard. There is a Disc shaped hole in the world and I’m already missing the future books that will never be written.

I’d like to imagine circumstances contriving to necessitate Sam eventually becoming Patrician, a role he’d take reluctantly but one he’d shoulder in order to ensure the lives of Ankh Morpork citizens are worth living. Whatever happens he’s out there in seven books (not counting cameos) wearing old boots, giving chase and aiming to keep the promises he’s made.

Now if you’ll excuse me I’m off to raise a glass of Bearhugger’s Whiskey Cream.

I’ve got mail

One of the best things about this writing business is getting boxes of books through the post. Who doesn’t like getting parcels, and filled with books. What could be better.

Oh yes, getting a parcel filled with books with my name on them!

These turned up today completely out of the blue which makes it doubly exciting because I wasn’t expecting any.

I reckon he would have given Hugh a run for his money.
I reckon he would have given Hugh a run for his money.

I secretly wanted a brooding hero on my cover so Zachary Black is the next best thing. Later I’m going to prop the books up next to each other and make him and Aline talk to each other.

I know I have blog readers in Australia (hello, I love your country, haven’t been for years)so if you’ve seen this on the shelves I’d love you to let me know. If you’ve bought it, even more so.

Celebrating

A very short post because it’s been a long week. In my other job I’ve had a lesson observation and am in the throes of rehearsals for the Christmas play (insert all the traditional cliches about 5 year olds in Nativities- they’re all true).

On my non-school days (I hesitate to call them days off) I’ve been working on my revisions for my second book. A couple of days ago my editor emailed to say she loved them and we’re there with it.

I wondered if the thrill of having a manuscript accepted would wear off but if anything this feels even better than the first time around because it shows me I wasn’t just a one hit wonder. It’s also important because I’ve proved to myself that I can write to a deadline rather than taking my time over a few years with no real timescale as I did with the first one. Now I’m looking forward to the next stages of the process, which I didn’t even realise existed before FFHC was bought. Hello art sheets and browsing the internet for pictures of my hero to send the cover design team – such a trial. We shall not mention Word document track changes at this point…

To celebrate my sale I’m running a giveaway on Goodreads for a copy of Falling for Her Captor https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/117401?utm_medium=api&utm_source=giveaway_widget It’s UK only this time and ends next weekend in time to beat the Christmas postage mayhem so might make someone a fab present(and you don’t have to tell them it was a freebie) so spread the word.