Sunday, 30 June 2019

New Release Spotlight & Excerpt: Say No To The Duke by Eloisa James

Author: Eloisa James
ISBN: 9780062877826
Price: $7.99
On-Sale Date: 6/25/19

Could she possibly refuse a duke’s hand—in favor of a sardonic, sinful rake?
Lady Betsy Wilde’s first season was triumphant by any measure, and a duke has proposed—but before marriage, she longs for one last adventure.
No gentleman would agree to her scandalous plan—but Lord Jeremy Roden is no gentleman. He offers a wager. If she wins a billiards game, he’ll provide the breeches.
If he wins…she is his, for one wild night.
But what happens when Jeremy realizes that one night will never be enough? In the most important battle of his life, he’ll have to convince Betsy to say no to the duke.

They moved toward each other as if they were following the steps of a very slow, very grand country dance. One that was danced by kings and queens and countryfolk alike.
When they were beside each other, she squared her shoulders and met his eyes. “I decided to come to you. I hope that is all right.”
I do believe that you are the bravest woman I’ve ever met,” he replied.
He couldn’t have said anything better; Betsy felt herself begin to glow. “I haven’t been brave to this point, but I have made up my mind to change. I outlawed being nervous, but now I need to outlaw being afraid.” She hesitated. “I have chosen courage, and now I choose happiness.”
I love you as you are,” he whispered, and then his mouth came down on hers.
Her breath caught in her throat because their tongues met as if they kissed every day, every night. He tasted right, which sent a shiver through her whole body, and pushed her against him gently, the way a pebble might roll up a beach when the tide comes in.
One doesn’t fight the tide.
Eloisa James is a USA Today and New York Times bestselling author and professor of English literature, who lives with her family in New York, but can sometimes be found in Paris or Italy. She is the mother of two and, in a particularly delicious irony for a romance writer, is married to a genuine Italian knight. Visit her at

Saturday, 29 June 2019

New Release Spotlight & Guest Post: The Road to Cromer Pier by Martin Gore

The Road to Cromer Pier by Martin Gore

Janet’s first love arrives out of the blue after forty years. Those were simpler times for them both. Sunny childhood beach holidays, fish and chips and big copper pennies clunking into one armed bandits.
The Wells family has run the Cromer Pier Summertime Special Show for generations. But it’s now 2009 and the recession is biting hard. Owner Janet Wells and daughter Karen are facing an uncertain future. The show must go on, and Janet gambles on a fading talent show star. But both the star and the other cast members have their demons. This is a story of love, loyalty and luvvies. The road to Cromer Pier might be the end of their careers, or it might just be a new beginning.

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Plays or Novels? Decisions......Decisions....
I started my creative writing journey with pantomimes, which led to plays and then novels. So which do I prefer writing? Well there are of course pros and cons to both.

I do have some concerns that professional theatre is stifling plays. The cost of actors is such that writing a play with more than four characters is virtually a kiss of death. They simply cannot or will not take the risk. I count myself as a lover of theatre, particularly of musical theatre, but I seldom go now as the new plays on offer don’t seem to have good stories, tending instead to push an agenda, be it austerity or gender or race. A notable exception was Maxine Peake’s Beryl, which featured the life of cyclist Beryl Burton, and a cast of six! The Hypocrite, a play about Lord Hotham and his fracas with the King at the gates of Hull was brilliant, but the huge cast benefited from RSC funding.
I remember reading Michael Eisner’s biography about the turnaround of Walt Disney in the nineties. At the time Disney’s fortunes were fading. At his first script meeting, where he attended as an observer, people kept asking ‘What would Walt have done?’. Having heard this a few times Eisner reminded his people that whilst Walt Disney was clearly a genius, he was in fact dead. What mattered was having a great story. The resurgence of Disney under his leadership was down to telling great stories that make you laugh or cry.
Tell a great story and people will come. I love Tim Firth’s writing, from the hilarious Flint Street Nativity to the inspiring Calendar Girls. Amanda Whittingham’s Ladies Day is fabulous too. I also saw Curious Incident, which explored autism brilliantly, but in a heart warming and humorous way.
But the instant reaction of the audience in a live theatre is just fantastic for a writer. I love to hear what works and what doesn’t. I wrote He’s Behind You to take a funny dig at privatisation, but it also had a controlling man subjugating an intelligent woman. The audience reaction was great, but they laughed in places that I had not expected. The male lead was featured watching his own funeral from heaven and the audience laughed. It had not occurred to me that it was funny, but the audience clearly did. Mind you it can work the other way. In a 2008 pantomime I wrote a Gordon Brown gag which didn’t get a laugh all week! Well you can’t win ‘em all.
But you are restricted in writing plays. Even leaving aside the number of actors you can have, staging, sound, lighting and costumes are all potentially problematic. Giving Cinderella fifteen seconds to get her frock on is unlikely to go down with costumes, and having a dozen people leaving that stage at the same time is unlikely to find favour with the Stage Manager who is working in the dark to change the scenery at the time.
Modern scene changing is amazing, with simulation the order of the day. The days of elaborate sets have largely gone. Curious Incident, a play about an autistic adolescent, was extraordinary in this respect. The simulation of a tube train using only sound and light was terrific. There are just so many examples. As a writer you need to cover all of these aspects.
Casting too can be tricky. Too many characters with playing ages in their twenties will work well in professional theatre, but won’t do well in an Amdram group of average age seventy! Certainly my Amdram Group. The Walkington Pantomime Players, struggles to find contemporary comedies with a cast of six or above.
Novels give you so much more time to weave backstories and develop characters. I enjoy holding images in my head as I travel, so I can feature them in my books. We stayed with friends in Magdale near Holmfirth in Yorkshire, and the old mill I saw there became the mill in Pen Pals. Again in Pen Pals the two lovers starting their affair in Florence was no accident. I’d visited two year’s previously and loved the place, particularly The David.
In The Road to Cromer Pier the theatre is real of course, which posed a particular problem. How do you do justice to a real show which is an iconic piece of British Theatre? It took me eighteen months to rework the draft to make it work. But the surrounding locations provided a rich source for the book. I might wish that Cromer Railway Station was more evocative of the town’s Victorian past, but it is utilitarian and bleak. However given the mood that Lauren was in as she sat there, her dreams shattered, austere and bleak worked very well. Even the Argos store next door plays a part, silently mocking their ex-employee, as she sees it.
The canteen scene in Pen Pals was a particular favourite of mine. I wrote it as an exercise in a creative writing class originally, but it fitted perfectly as Brenda toured the closed factory site, so full of memories. Before I retired I had visited an old cosmetics factory near Wakefield, with a view to leasing part of it. We toured the site, and came to the huge canteen. Obviously the site had employed many people, but they were long gone, leaving the canteen forlorn and empty. It just worked so well with the mood of my character as she went around her factory one last time.
But there are downsides to novels of course. The seemingly endless editing isn’t so much fun, and proof reading? For someone with the attention span of a goldfish it is a nightmare, but as the author YOU and only YOU are responsible for the final product.
Feedback you get much less spontaneously, but get it you will. In my case I got many great reviews, with the only negative being for grammar. I earned my living for many years through effective writing, and I regarded it as a key strength. On reflection those that criticised Pen Pals were right to do so however. Nothing kills a readers enjoyment of your story more than a missed word or incorrect use of grammar. The latest version of Pen Pals is now perfected, but the ratings are on there. The only three star reviewers loved the story but not the grammar. Sometimes you have to take it on the chin!
Amongst the many lovely reviews though my favourite came from an adopted child, who said that in Pen Pals I got her attitude to her birth mother spot on. That sort of comments really lifts you, and keeps you going.
So I see merits to writing both plays and novels, and The Road to Cromer Pier is available as both. If your Amdram group wants to try the play why not contact me through the website on or twitter @authorgore ?
Martin Gore

 June 2019

I am a 61 year old Accountant who semi-retired to explore my love of creative writing. In my career I held Board level jobs for over twenty five years, in private, public and third sector organisations. I was born in Coventry, a city then dominated by the car industry and high volume manufacturing. Jaguar, Triumph, Talbot, Rolls Royce, Courtaulds, Massey Ferguson were the major employers, to name but a few.

When I was nine year’s old I told my long suffering mother that as I liked English composition and drama I was going to be a Playwright. She told me that I should work hard at school and get a proper job. She was right of course.

I started as an Office Junior at Jaguar in 1973 at eleven pounds sixty four a week. I thus grew up in the strike torn, class divided seventies. My first career ended in 2015, when I semi retired as Director of Corporate services at Humberside Probation. My second career, as a Non Executive Director, is great as it has allowed me free time to travel and indulge my passion for writing, both in novels and for theatre.

The opportunity to rekindle my interest in writing came in 2009, when I wrote my first pantomime, Cinderella, for my home group, the Walkington Pantomime Players. I have now written eight. I love theatre, particularly musical theatre, and completed the Hull Truck Theatre Playwrite course in 2010. My first play, a comedy called He's Behind You, had its first highly successful showing in January 2016, so I intend to move forward in all three creative areas.

Pen Pals was my first novel, but a second, The Road to Cromer Pier, will be released in the Summer of 2019. 

I’m an old fashioned writer I guess. I want you to laugh and to cry. I want you to believe in my characters, and feel that my stories have a beginning, a middle, and a satisfactory ending.

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Friday, 28 June 2019

Release Day Spotlight & Review: Foxglove Farm by Christie Barlow

Foxglove Farm by Christie Barlow

Return to Love Heart Lane for friendship, romance and a community who will be be there for you no matter what…
Isla and Drew Allaway appear to have the perfect life – a strong marriage, two beautiful children and their picture-perfect home, Foxglove Farm.

But, new mum Isla is struggling.  She loves her little family but with Drew working all hours on the farm, Isla’s lonely.
When she discovers that Drew has been keeping secrets from her, Isla has to face losing the home they all love.
Can the Love Heart Lane community pull together once more to help save Foxglove Farm?  And can Isla save her home…and her marriage?

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Love Heart Lane and the author are new to me, yet I quickly embraced this close-knit Highlands community with a delightful bunch of locals adding support and quirky diversions to the narrative.

Isla and Drew Allaway own and run Foxglove Farm where they live with their young sons. Both are busy with responsibilities and as a consequence has forgotten to devote time for themselves. When it becomes obvious something is wrong, neither seem capable of communicating. With each bad-tempered exchange, the rift widens within their marriage causing their relationship to deteriorate further. Can they find a way to turn things around?

For a change, I enjoyed reading about an already established couple who love each other but somehow have lost the spark which ignited their relationship in the first place. I'm sure many readers will identify with Isla and Drew and the issues they have. While the narrative focuses on problems any couple can face, the turning point wasn't. After a catalogue of errors, luckily, things start to get back on track again-hurray!

The protagonists are both relatable and likeable, so much so, you want to knock their heads together to make them see sense, at least in the beginning. Both have their flaws exposing themselves to potentially life-changing consequences. However, in the end, things turn around and work themselves out leading to a happily-ever-after for them both. Of course, there's plenty of neighbourly help and support from a warm and friendly group of friends and acquaintances. An honourable mention goes to the eccentric and generous Martha Gray...she's a ray of sunshine.

The overall atmosphere of the narrative is positively 'feel good' even though the main plot's centred around a struggling family. I've read a few similar novels to this and Foxglove Farm definitely stands out in the crowd. The author has written a lovely flowing narrative with plenty of things happening but not in an overwhelming way.

***arc generously received courtesy of HarperImpulse via NetGalley***

Christie Barlow is the author of A Year in the Life of a Playground Mother, The Misadventures of a Playground Mother, Kitty's Countryside Dream, Lizzie's Christmas Escape, Evie's Year of Taking Chances, The Cosy Canal Boat Dream, A Home at Honeysuckle Farm, Love Heart Lane and Foxglove Farm. Her writing career came as somewhat a surprise when she decided to write a book to teach her children a valuable life lesson and show them that they are capable of achieving their dreams. The book she wrote to prove a point is now a #1 bestseller in the UK, USA & Australia. 

Christie is an ambassador for @ZuriProject raising money/awareness and engaging with impoverished people in Uganda through organisations to improve their well-being.

Twitter @ChristieJBarlow 
Facebook page Christie Barlow author

Thursday, 27 June 2019

New Release Spotlight: The Body in Belair Park by Alice Castle

The Body in Belair Park

Beth Haldane is on the verge of having everything she’s ever wanted. Her son is starting secondary school, her personal life seems to have settled down – even her pets are getting on. But then the phone rings.
It’s Beth’s high maintenance mother, Wendy, with terrible news. Her bridge partner, Alfie Pole, has died suddenly. While Beth, and most of Dulwich, is convinced that Alfie has pegged out from exhaustion, thanks to playing with Wendy for years, Beth’s mother is certain that there is foul play afoot.
Before she knows it, Beth is plunged into her most complicated mystery yet, involving the Dulwich Bridge Club, allotment holders, the Dulwich Open Garden set and, of course, her long-suffering boyfriend, Metropolitan Police Detective Inspector Harry York. The case stirs up old wounds which are much closer to home than Beth would like. Can she come up trumps in time to stop the culprit striking again – or does the murderer hold the winning hand this time?
Before turning to crime, Alice Castle was a UK newspaper journalist for The Daily Express, The Times and The Daily Telegraph. Her first book, Hot Chocolate, set in Brussels and London, was a European hit and sold out in two weeks.
Death in Dulwich was published in September 2017 and has been a number one best-seller in the UK, US, France, Spain and Germany. A sequel, The Girl in the Gallery was published in December 2017 to critical acclaim and also hit the number one spot. Calamity in Camberwell, the third book in the London Murder Mystery series, was published in August 2018, with Homicide in Herne Hill following in October 2018. Revenge on the Rye came out in December 2018. The Body in Belair Park will be published on 25th June 2019. Alice is currently working on the seventh London Murder Mystery adventure, The Slayings in Sydenham. Once again, it will feature Beth Haldane and DI Harry York.
Alice is also a mummy blogger and book reviewer via her website:
Links to buy books:
Alice lives in south London and is married with two children, two step-children and two cats.

Win a signed copy of The Body in Belair (Open to UK and US Only)
*Terms and Conditions –US and UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Spotlight & Review: Another Shot by Stephen Anthony Brotherton

Another Shot by Stephen Anthony Brotherton

It used to make me feel special, the fact that they knew me, knew what I wanted, but it had soured with repetition. I’d become my drink order – that’s what it felt like. But it was okay. People watching in this place made me feel part of the world, got me away from the house for a few hours. And it was here she came back to me. I hadn’t seen her for three decades and suddenly there she was, standing next to my table.
‘Hello, Freddie’.”

Another Shot tells the story of Freddie and Jo-Jo, who are reunited in a coffee shop thirty-five years after the end of their teenage romance. Jo-Jo finds Freddie through a mutual friend, and tells him that she is emigrating following the death of her husband. She gives him a photograph of the two of them on their first weekend away, a trip to Blackpool.

How they originally met, why they parted, what happens in their lives apart is all told through a series of flashbacks. These memories feed into events when they meet up again and explain why, despite the passage of time and the intensity of their still simmering love, there is no future for their relationship.

Amazon UK      Amazon US 

What happens when you meet your first love again, thirty years after you parted ways? 

Freddie's surprised when Jo-Jo got in-touch with him again after all these years. Seeing her again brought back memories and feeling he'd long buried, or so he thought. However, their meeting ended in the same way as their relationship with more unanswered questions than answers. 

Freddie and Jo-Jo's story is like a trip down memory lane. Even though I worked out I am five years younger than the protagonists, I can relate to details referenced about how life was in the 1970s and 1980s. Reminders of long-forgotten clothing trends, popular foods and music of the times had me laughing out loud as well as reminiscing about the era which spanned my childhood. The memories flooded back; some good, some not so good... 

I like how we get to understand how each viewed their relationship and it's easy to feel their attraction and love for each other. Yet, it is also clear they are dissimilar people who have differing ideas of what they want and need. Jo-Jo is more concise about her wishes and needs whilst Freddie is more of a plodder, accepting what life has thrown at him rather than having a clear view about chasing ambitions. 

Initially, it concerned me how the author wrote the narrative as a series of vignettes. Each either involves a point of view change, or flashback. Thankfully, Mr Brotherton manages to keep everything flowing perfectly so to not confuse a reader like myself if too many shifts away from the main plot occur. Each vignette is sufficiently long for me to not forget past details and as the story unfolds, the layers are easily absorbed and remembered. There's also a cliffhanger, which I love because I'm invested in knowing how the story unfolds for Freddie and Jo-Jo and looking forward to how the author continues it.

Whether you are a reader of a certain age like myself or just interested in books with flashbacks to the 1970s and 1980s, Another shot is the first book in a trilogy which will appeal if you want to enjoy reliving memories from the past through Freddie and Jo-Jo's eyes.

***Review copy received courtesy of the publisher via Rachel's Random Resources***

I was born in Walsall, grew up in the West Midlands and now live in Telford with my two cats, Boris and Tai. After working in the health and social care sector for over thirty years, I have now taken early retirement to write the trilogy that has been rooted in my head for most of my life.
Another Shot is the first book in the Shots trilogy, which is based on a first love relationship I had as a teenager. It tells the story of Freddie and Jo-Jo, who are reunited in a coffee shop three decades after the end of their teenage romance. How they originally met, why they parted, what happens in their lives apart, and what happens when they reunite is all told through a series of first person vignettes. The second book, An Extra Shot, will be published in July 2019. I am currently working on the final instalment.
Getting these stories down on paper has been a cathartic process. I hope you enjoy them. ‘

 Instagram @freddiejojoreunited

Spotlight & Price Drop Alert: Passport to Happiness by Carrie Stone


Passport to Happiness by Carrie Stone

An inspiring and escapist read – Eat, Pray, Love meets Bridget Jones!
So, in a spontaneous moment of bravery (perhaps spurred on by a few cocktails) Everly books a holiday.  Time away, alone, to find out what she really wants from life.

Will the trip of her dreams…
Everly Carter is bored.
With her job, with her single status and with the never ending line of rubbish men on Tinder.  Tired of going through the motions of seeming happy, Everly wants to be happy!
Become the journey of her lifetime?
Everly’s search for happiness takes her to picturesque Swiss villages and the sunsets of glamourous Bermuda.  But with every new stamp in her passport, Everly still feels as though something is missing…
Could it be that true happiness is hard to find, until she finds herself?

PRICE DROP ALERT! Passport to Happiness now just 99p in UK! Grab your copy ‘ 

Carrie was born and raised in London, but her love for travel and adventure has seen her spend the last fourteen years living and working internationally. She is currently based in Spain alongside her husband, young daughter and adopted Indonesian dog, Bali. 

Carrie is a traditionally published author with Harper Impulse, as well as an independently published author. When not writing, she works as a Psychic Medium & Spiritual Coach ( To find out more about her, connect on Facebook (Carrie Stone) or Twitter @CarrieStoneUK