The Romance Reviews

The Romance Reviews

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Change the Game


POST NUMBER 250!!! How exciting that it ends up on this news?!

The joy of finishing a story can never be understated! The relief can be cut into eight and shared among family. No lie. I started and finished 85% of it in November last year, and couldn't figure out how it would end. On, actually that's a lie. I knew, I just couldn't write it. The story was like "and what?" to me, mocking me each time I opened it on Google Docs. And work imploded, so I was doing eleven hour days (I know some people do a lot more, but for me - this was looooooooooong) and I had no energy to be sucked into the emotional vacuum of this tale. I'm sure I've posted this excerpt before, but it seems to have vanished. (I'm watching you Facebook...)

It hasn't got a final title yet, I've been calling it by the initials of the main characters JMAZ.
Jamie or by his Spanish name Jaime
Mical bitch who's a witch
Aaron Jamie's best friend who happens to be a werewolf (hence the name puppy)
And Zlatan who is possibly my most favourite secondary character ever. I love him like I love Hernando from Sense8.

My iPhone repeatedly changed JMAZ to Hamaz, frightening me deeply. Just so you know what has given me so much joy to shove to the side to write anything else, here's a snippet of the hero's best friend getting in the heroine's face. Trying anyway...

Aaron marched up to Mical and said, “What the fuck are you doing?”
She tilted her head to the side. “Aaron! Looking as beastly as ever.” Her midnight eyes ran over him critically. “Didn’t fancy shaving?”
His face flushed with embarrassment. “Why would you…” He leaned across the bar and hissed, “You coming back here… What the fuck? This wasn’t the plan!”
Mical shrugged. “Change of plan.”
“Says who?”
“Says me, little puppy. I asked for your help, because you care about Jamie.” She wrinkled her nose, looking him up and down. “A little more than is healthy for one of your description. So, do me a favour. Shut up, back off, go away. And if you’re a good boy, I’ll leave you a bowl of Pedigree Chum for you.”
Aaron backed off, too aware of what she knew and what she could do to him. What she’d done to him before. His own anger pushed him forward once more. “You don’t get to come here and fuck everything up. Not without an explanation. And not if you love Jamie the way you swear you do.”
Her eyes flashed and at last, the true person behind the shiny, glossy model-like beauty began to emerge, in the lengthening of her chin, the engorgement of her eyes and the tightness in her lips. “Never question my feelings again. I’ve warned you before. Or do you fancy walking on all fours tonight?”
Aaron shrank from her. She wouldn’t dare! “It’s not… It’s not that time.”
“Only because I haven’t made it that time.” She leaned back and her face returned to normal. “Now, you can have a pint, but you need to behave yourself.”
“I’ll be over there. Waiting. Whatever you say, you owe me.” He stared at her until she lowered her gaze, his heart beating frantically in fear. Of course she knew he was right. Why would she deny that, when she knew she’d done a complete U-turn on what they’d agreed?

Mical handed over a pint of bitter. “I suppose I do.”

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Live To Tell


Just following on from the Billy's got a lot to catch up with, I thought I'd give a little teaser of Addicted to Witch. The excerpt sort of speaks for itself...


Excerpt Magic Excerpt

He lifted the jumper from her torso and gave pause to admire her, briefly wishing he lived in a time of the Renaissance artists who would have fallen to their knees in gratitude for a muse such as her. They would have been allowed to look, feast their eyes, but never, ever allowed to touch. Only him. His hand slid inside her jeans and he hardened instantly at his discovery. Scalp tingling at the tug she gave on his hair when his fingers slid inside her, he curved them with insistence. His mouth touched her neck, the swell of her breasts and back to her lips. She tasted like ecstasy, he thought, his mouth trailing to her earlobe, biting down as she began to tighten around his soaked fingers.
“Auden,” she gave a gasping cry.
Satisfaction pulsed through his sex at the need in her voice. He wanted her to give herself completely to him, like she had only a few hours ago.
“Auden, stop.” She pushed at his shoulders, her eyes round with surprise, looking just beyond his shoulder as her orgasm took her. With Helena still shaking beneath him, his fingers caught in the grip of her body, he turned his head. His heart froze. Romely stood there, her mouth parted in horror.
“What are you doing?” Romely whispered.
Helena struggled from underneath him and righted her clothing. “What’s going on?”
Auden opened his mouth to speak, and found his throat closed up. Goddamn you, Romely! 
She turned to Helena. “Do you know he’s in a relationship? With me? We have been for years.”
Helena looked at Auden, her eyes narrowed. “Is that true?”
No! He wanted to scream. Not a sound emerged from him.
Romely spoke again. “We’re trying to work things out. At least I thought we were. Do you like stealing other women’s men?”
“Wait a minute.” Helena got to her feet. “I didn’t know. I’m not psychic. I didn’t see or hear anything from Auden that you even exist.”
“But I do,” Romely said. “He can’t get away from that simple fact. I do exist. He and I are meant to be together.”
“I’d dump him if I were you,” Helena said harshly. “He obviously didn’t think about you once.” She turned back to Auden, her palm connecting painfully with his cheek, the sound echoing in the hallway. “You don’t seem like a coward. But I know better than anyone how appearances can be deceptive.” She started up the stairs. “I’ll just get my things and leave.”
Romely inclined her head. “I think that’s best. I can give you a lift to the station, if you like.”
Helena’s mouth parted in surprise before she said, “I’ll be all right. Thanks.”
As Helena hit the top step, Romely spoke. “Well, that was really inconsiderate of you.”
“Fuck you, Romely.” Auden blinked the water from his eyes, caused by Helena’s slap. She had a right to be angry; he wished he could correct her. He wanted to change her mind so badly. This was such bullshit.
Romely snorted. “If you had, it’d be a different story now, wouldn’t it?”
Furiously, he got to his feet, fully intending to strangle the life from her.
“Ah ah!” she held up a hand—preventing Auden from moving any closer. “You still don’t understand, do you? Even after all this time. You are mine. Just as I’m yours.”
“I don’t want you!” he shouted.
“I don’t believe you. We can do this dance for eternity, or you can start thinking smart. No more girls like that.” Romely gave a sneer. “She seems scared of her own shadow. Why would you waste your time?”
“You wouldn’t understand.” He sat back down on the step in defeat. “You’re a sith.” Her mouth tightened in disapproval. “We can carry this on as much as you like. I’ll still hate you.”
Her eyes danced with joy. “You know where that comes from, don’t you? It’s only the other side of love.”
He sent her a look he prayed conveyed how fucking stupid he found her. “It comes from the fact you have stolen everything good in my life because I don’t see you as anything more than a spot I could bleach out. You’re strong, but you can’t change our rules. You can’t make me love you.”
“I’m leaving you alone to get there by yourself,” she sighed. “You will. Just, focus.”
“Lift the curse.”
“No, Auden. It’s for your own good.”
“What do you know about what’s good for me?” he asked, perplexed. “That’s the problem, Romely, you don’t know me. You just have this fanciful idea about me that isn’t true.”
“It is! You just won’t admit what you are. I know you deep down. I saw it all those years ago. I saved you from a life of waste.”
“And keeping me a prisoner in my own home isn’t waste of life?”
Romely’s temper flared. “If you weren’t fucking strange women, you’d be meditating on how to make yourself a better man, the man that deserves me!”
“Oh Jesus Christ, no!” he bellowed.
Romely watched him, wide-eyed. He hadn’t displayed that much emotion to her in years. She gave a small shrug. “Then we’re back to the beginning.”
Helena hurtled down the stairs. “I’ll post the clothes back to you,” she said, barely looking at him.
No, don’t leave, please!
“Helena,” he started, before Romely locked his jaw with a single look. Helena murmured an apology to Romely.
“How will you get back to the house?” he ventured.
Still not looking at him, she indicated the door. “I’ve called a cab. It’s waiting outside.” Her gaze lifted, connecting with his own. “Oh… Go to hell.”
There was his salvation, walking away from him. Romely closed the door behind her and turned back to him. “How shall we work through this?” she asked with an expectant smile. “I mean I’m upset, but I forgive you.”
The lights inside the house dimmed, the clouds darkened the sky. Every single piece of furniture in the vicinity rose from the ground and launched toward Romely. With a scream, she held up her hands as the furniture exploded into dust. Covered in powdered wood and grit, she heaved at him, “You did this to yourself!”
“Get out.” Not waiting for further argument, he trudged upstairs to his bedroom and closed the door. His hand tightened on the handle and he slammed the door into the frame again and again and again until the wood splintered and the handle came away from the door altogether. He threw the handle to the carpet and lay down.
Closing his eyes he envisioned Helena, looking like a fairy princess, hunting for rosemary. No. He wouldn’t allow this. There was no way he’d give her up. He’d had the briefest taste of freedom on Helena’s lips, and he wanted it all.

Now was not the right time to defy Romely’s curfew and get up to London. But he absolutely would. Find Helena and try to get around the impossibility of his situation. He had to.


Thursday, 9 July 2015

Once More With Feeling


I know I know, the list of books that need to be re-published is getting longer. I've been so focused on getting the latest Italian Knights book finished, that I did forget about them. But I'm back on it, getting new covers for them all and just making sure it reads right. But these are the books that are off the book shelves for the time being:


  1. Addicted to Witch
  2. Said the Demon
  3. Angel's Baby
  4. Put Out The Zombie
  5. Sympathy for the Devil
  6. The Baby Gift
  7. Vintage Pleasures
  8. Sweet Child of Mine
  9. Army of You and Me
  10. Nights of Roshan
  11. An Old Cake Tale
  12. On Set
Not to worry, they will be back soon, prettier and shinier than before! 

I don't regret anything in my literary life. I am really proud of all the stories I've written and who I've written for - because they've led me to this point. To be a better, more dedicated writer, to appreciate my readers even more than I already do - because you support me no matter what. 

When the new ones come out, old faithfuls, don't feel the need to repurchase. There won't be any changes to them, only a soundtrack at the front, which I will start bringing together for them all. I posted this on my page, and I'll say it here too: 

If you have any questions for me, burning deep in your soul, that you need answers to, ask me. That's what I'm here for. Only Hank holds the power, so I may take a while trying to pin him down then he lets me know (he's so secretive these days. I can barely get a name out of him, let alone a story). Ask away. There's nothing I won't answer about my books, or the places that they're set. I've had a jolly good time in them, and there's no reason you shouldn't either. 




Tuesday, 30 June 2015

It's About Time


Normally I'd be all apologies about how long it's taken - I'm British, it's an automatic reflex to apologise for anything and everything. But I'm rather pleased I took my time. That I absorbed everything during my time in Lucca, Tuscany. That I did drink most of their wine, and use their olive oil on my hair (sooooooo gooooooooood!). That I allowed myself to be swayed by Hank and the romance of Italy to give my best to Durante and Ella's tale. And you will find bits of me all over this story. Make sure your ereader has one of those screen protectors...

So here we are, and if you're not sold - have a read of the blurb and this little snippet to see who's wandering the hills of Lucca with the farmer and his bird.

Verde Bianco Rosso on Amazon

Verde Bianco Rosso on All Romance eBooks

Eau de blurb 

Widow. Sister. Mother. All those labels hung from Emmanuella Harrison, like the 'A' of shame. After so many years of playing it straight, she'd forgotten who the real Ella was. Sometimes, whenever she managed to make the severe Durante Da Canaveze smile, the sparkle of the woman she'd been a long time ago ignited in her. But the Mother label needed to be first and foremost. No messing around with sexy farmers. Farmers! Just farmers. None of that. All right, maybe a little bit of messing around. The tip doesn't count.

The moment Ella drifted into Tuscany, Durante started to doubt the wisdom of his years of self-imposed solitude. With every teasing grin, backless dress and playful conversation, he fell more and more deeply under her spell. As dazzled as he is by her, Durante is convinced his history is enough to not deserve anyone, let alone someone like Ella.

And yet, without the labels, without the barriers, without being afraid of what may be, no two people will ever be as perfect for each other.

The penultimate story in the Italian Knights Series is all about blunt children, loud mouthed opinionated, family members, redemption in farming olives and how love can make one forgive even the most off-key of voices.

Eau de excerpt

He woke with the weighty sense of self-disappointment. He’d done something silly last night before he’d passed out. Even though his body vehemently disagreed with him on the assessment, it had been silly to kiss Ella. It should have been a surprise that he remembered, but no amount of drugs would take away what Ella’s lips felt like on his. Talking in the cold light of day would make sense.
It was half six in the morning. He’d overslept, and right through not only his natural body clock, but that of his actual alarm.
He showered in ice-cold water to eliminate the stubbornness of his hard-on. There was no time to indulge in getting rid of it the old-fashioned way. He didn’t bother to shave, and instead threw on clean clothes.
A knock on Ella’s door found the guest room empty. He could, however, smell coffee.
Surprised that she was already awake, Durante made his way down the stairs. Ella glanced up from her own cup as soon as he walked in. She does not look like an angel, he warned himself. Get hold of yourself, man…
“Morning,” she said, cheekiness in her tone.
“Good morning.”
“Those are some drugs, eh?” she teased.
“Ella…” he began, but she spoke over him.
“You had five calls. I’ve taken messages, but I’d call down to the groves first. They seemed to think I’ve killed you in some sort of ceremony for witchcraft.”
He closed his eyes. They could manage without him for five minutes, goddammit. An unspoken realisation that this was what their life would be like if that kiss was more than just a drug-addled error. Him mollifying his workers. Her on her own.
“Can I give you a lift to the town?”
“I’ve got my bike,” she reminded him gently. “Coffee, muffins, and waffles. Only because I saw you’ve got a waffle iron and it hasn’t come out of the packaging.” She put her cup in the dishwasher and hopped off the chair. “Nice place you’ve got here.”
“Come for a tour,” he offered, feeling there was an opportunity that was slipping through his grasp. “Wine, cheese, and olives. I’ll even smile.”
Ella touched his arm as she passed. “You hate tourists. See you later.”
He rubbed his cotton-covered chest as if he could wipe away the disappointment of being so close to starting something. What was so crushing about ‘just for now’ compared to ‘never-ever’? He knew the difference now. With a shake of his head, he flipped through the messages, written partly in shorthand, but all in Italian.
Clever, exceptionally talented woman.
A call to the groves calmed any immediate nerves. They were expecting a delivery of expensive truffles to add another flavour to a selection of their matured olive oil. The temperature gauge in the fermentation rooms wasn’t reading correctly. Durante made several calls, and within half an hour, all was resolved.
The temperature gauge issue concerned him. Fermentation of the grapes was such a delicate process and if the coolness in the vats were not maintained, the bottles for this year would be a write-off. But the engineer who worked regularly for him was exceptional and would have no issue readjusting the machinery if need be.
Durante would find his way down to the rooms once he’d finished his messages. The others were from the tour company to ensure they were expected and would be arriving in two hours’ time.
The last message was from his brother, Massimo. That could never be good.
“What’s the matter?”
“Hello to you, too,” Massimo said dryly. “I wanted to say thank you for shipping the wine. Are your supplies drained?”
“By you, no. Although your Sofia gave it a go.”
“She does like a drink. Speaking of surprising women, who was that delightful young lady who answered my call?”
Durante could feel himself blushing. “Just a friend.”
“You do not have female friends. As a matter of fact, I do not believe you have any friends at all.”
“And what category would you place Belinda Afriyie?”
“My woman,” Massimo replied without hesitation or embarrassment. “Would you not agree?”
“I don’t know. You didn’t hang around for me to make a full assessment. She’s not Mary Alice.”
“I know.” The relief in his voice was unmistakable. “How many men are fortunate enough to receive a second chance? In any event, let us return to the topic of your delightful young woman.”
God, sometimes Massimo was like a dog with a bone. “Your progeny poisoned me. She drove me home. That’s all.”
“You are lying,” his brother said, and—damn him—there was a grin in his voice. “She was permitted inside the fortress.”
“Did you want something else, Massimo? I need to work.”
“No. Nothing else. I am here when you are ready to tell the truth.”
“To you? The master of artifice? I’ll pass that to the left,” Durante sneered. “Call me when Belinda has you chained somewhere repenting for your sins.”
Ciao, Durante,” Massimo said, laughing.

He hung up and picked up the rest of his breakfast muffin. He’d had no idea he had poppy seeds in his pantry. Ella really was talented. He wished he knew what he could give to her. Without that, he doubted she’d give even the smallest part of herself to any man.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Along The Way





This was a bigger list than I originally intended. Just like this story is a lot longer than I originally intended. It's got everything this soundtrack - from my favourite new band - Vaults - I frakking love everything they do. I can't even describe the stalker mode I have gone into, checking daily for new songs! - to my Christmas staples I had to get in the mood. And singing hymns at one in the morning does not make you friends with anyone. Anyone. Even if you're in tune. From old skool heavies - Basement Jaxx, Chemical Brothers, Lamb and Fugees (return to the 90s!) to the newbies Ella Eyre and Ella Henderson (heroine namesakes with beautiful voices). Each song fits to every part of this story and I hope you enjoy the music as much as I do and will for a long time to come.

Verde Bianco Rosso on Spotify
  1. Vaults Lifespan
  2. Mapei Don't Wait
  3. James Brown I Got The Feeling
  4. Bombay Bicycle Club Home By Now
  5. Jamie Woon Shoulda
  6. Basement Jaxx Lights Go Down
  7. Chemical Brothers Close Your Eyes
  8. Lamb We Fall In Love
  9. Ivy Quainoo Soul Suckers 
  10. Ghostpoet Survive It
  11. Vaults Cry No More
  12. Solomon Grey Choir to the Wild
  13. Purity Ring push pull
  14. SOHN The Wheel 
  15. Massive Attack ft Madonna I Want You
  16. All Saints Under the Bridge
  17. Coldplay Violet Hill
  18. Fugees Ready or Not
  19. Bastille Oblivion
  20. Ella Eyre Together
  21. Jackie Wilson (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher & Higher 
  22. James Vincent McMorrow You Know
  23. Keaton Henson In The Morning 
  24. Lorde Bravado 
  25. Jamie xx Girl 
  26. Sia Elastic Heart
  27. The Choir of Trinity College Cambridge The Shepherd's Farewell
  28. The Choir of Kings College O Little Town Of Bethlehem
  29. Miguel Adorn
  30. James Bay Let It Go
  31. Foals Stepson
  32. Band of Horses The Funeral 
  33. Ella Henderson Yours 
  34. Ellie Goulding Starry Eyed
  35. Florence + The Machine Seven Devils 
  36. Luke Sital-Singh Fail For You
  37. Alt-J Hunger of the Pine 
  38. Giuseppe Verdi Messa da Requiem Libera me
  39. M83 Soon My Friend 
  40. Jose Gonzalez Step Out

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Tell Me About It



Yes, I've been quiet. Only because I've been working hard on getting this book into ship shape. I mean it's now 75,000 words (because I confused my editor by writing faster than I think.) But at the very least, you now get a good idea of what the deuce is going on in this story.

Like Winter in Game of Thrones, it's almost here...


Eau de blurb 

Widow. Sister. Mother. All those labels hung from Emmanuella Harrison, like the 'A' of shame. After so many years of playing it straight, she'd forgotten who the real Ella was. Sometimes, whenever she managed to make the severe Durante Da Canaveze smile, the sparkle of the woman she'd been a long time ago ignited in her. But the Mother label needed to be first and foremost. No messing around with sexy farmers. Farmers! Just farmers. None of that. All right, maybe a little bit of messing around. The tip doesn't count.

The moment Ella drifted into Tuscany, Durante started to doubt the wisdom of his years of self-imposed solitude. With every teasing grin, backless dress and playful conversation, he fell more and more deeply under her spell. As dazzled as he is by her, Durante is convinced his history is enough to not deserve anyone, let alone someone like Ella.

And yet, without the labels, without the barriers, without being afraid of what may be, no two people will ever be as perfect for each other.

The penultimate story in the Italian Knights Series is all about blunt children, loud mouthed opinionated, family members, redemption in farming olives and how love can make one forgive even the most off-key of voices.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Power


I'm feeling a bit out of sorts. This is normally what happens when you finish a book that has taken over your life for the better part of a year (looking at you Durante and Ella).

Normally if I finish a contemporary, I switch to paranormal, to effect a bigger change and to disconnect from the characters of the completed book. And it went a little left field. I did a little excerpt of this story, when I was furiously writing to meet the NaNoWriMo target of 50,000 words. Yeah, I didn't finish the story even though I met the target. It's turning into a never ending gumball. The hero and heroine, to explain, are disconnected because of a whole bunch of complicated stuff I can't really expand on because... it is complicated, and my brilliant idea to make them reconnect is a sex rite. You read that correctly. So paganism, symbolic vessels, nudity and the power of sex. And I wrote all of it.

I'm disturbed. Probably because I'm a good Christian girl (don't laugh, tis true) and it was drummed in early that paganism is wrong and sex is a bad word that you don't do unless you're married and you only do once for babies and that's the last you have of it, and you're not supposed to enjoy it or think of anyone else while you do it, apart from God, because it's for God and God's glory. Christian guilt is real.

While I conjured rain and fire and earth and air, my Sunday School teacher was in my ear, telling me it's all wrong. And yet, I say no, whatever guilt lingers. The power of sex with someone you love, trust, honour and cherish is that spiritual connection. And it's a connection that blooms and grows and deepens each time it's shared. It is powerful and truthful and soulful. I wonder if that's why sex is so feared because of what it can do to the mind, body and soul. My hero and heroine are using it for good. To realign themselves to each other. To defeat the bad guy(s) (thing. Whatever it is. I still don't quite know.) It's good magic. The best kind.

I absolutely refute the implied wrongness of a sex rite for my paranormal hero and heroine. They need it. Or they're gonna die. You know, it's probably a good thing I'm not a pagan. I'd totally fall for that line.