The Romance Reviews

The Romance Reviews

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

I Fought The Law

And we're off again! Christmas is taking up a lot of time (everyone wants everything done now, me to put on a nice dress, socialise and smile. I'm still exhausted from that marathon month writing, have no patience to do it to order) But more importantly is to get this book back out again. Maybe because it's a little too close to home, or maybe it's because of Nonna Mamione, or Rocco's smoothness, or I see family and friend's in Anna's fuck you and your ilk attitude, or even that I wrote it so damn fast, that this is genuinely one of my favourites. And there's nothing more satisfying in this world than helping a nutty, unbalanced, hilarious old bird. Once again, a Knight for your pleasure.

The Claim on Amazon
The Claim on ARe

R v Blurb [2014]

Rocco Mamione has possibly the best wingman in the world. His grandmother. He had no idea that when his nonna was fired from the job she had for thirty years, she’d demand the best employment lawyer in London. A lawyer who just happens to be his ex-girlfriend. His nonna has been giving him the “where are my great-grandbabies?” goo-goo eyes for some time and is convinced that Anna is the perfect woman to multiply those slightly unbalanced Mamione genes. Truthfully, he only ever imagined having babies with Anna. To get her back will be the ultimate challenge, but Rocco is nothing if not Sicilian-resilient.

Anna Taylor is not an Ice Princess. Rocco Mamione just burned her heart to a crisp six years ago. Anyone can talk about it, if they want a biro in their eye and an invoice for the advice to shut up. Smart enough to want to avoid further heartbreak and a potential conviction for murder, Anna does her best to not be led down the Mamione path again. Definitely not by his crazy grandmother or her crack-addictive cakes. Not by Rocco’s slick lines and hard body underneath those tailor-made suits. And absolutely not by the fact that she loves him. Still. After all this time. The truth about their break up may just do it.

The third book in the Italian Knights series is one cup good sponge, two cups of endurance, redemption, and a lot of letting go. If only to get a bit of Sicilian... 

 R v Excerpt [2014]

“But I—” Imogen’s eyes widened and her mouth fell open. What was she looking at? Anna turned around and saw Rocco heading for the lifts. “What the hell?”
“Yeah,” Anna said shortly. “Look, I’ve got to go. I’m late.”
“Are you mad? Have you lost your mind? Did you forget what he did?”
“What the two of you did?” Anna corrected. “No. I haven’t. But I have a job and it needs doing.”
Imogen stared at her in disbelief. “I never thought you were that stupid, but it’s obvious you want to get under him again.”
“I’m going now because I’m not going to dignify that with an answer.” She headed in the same direction as Rocco, in fact, feeding into a perverse need to see how the two of them would behave toward each other.
“Hold the lift,” she called, just as Rocco took a step inside. He held the door with one large hand, and his eyes lightened deviously on Imogen, with baby in tow.
“Imogen Barnes,” he said. “Look at you, rearing the innocent.”
Anna was shocked. Whatever she had expected, it wasn’t that.
“I’ll wait for the next one. Anna, I’ll talk to you when you get your senses back.” The lift doors closed just as the baby started to wail again. Rocco leaned against the closed elevator doors.
“So you’re still friends. Really?”
Anna glanced at him edgily. “Sometimes, yes.”
“Forgive me if I find that absurd.”
“She’s made up for it. It was a mistake.”
He snorted a laugh. “It was a fabrication.”
“Excuse me?”
“I said, it was a fabrication. You tell me what on this planet would induce me to fuck that?”
“I don’t know, maybe simple availability!” Anna raged. “Oh, look, there’s a pussy, why don’t I stick my dick into it?”
Rocco suddenly crowded her space, and she found herself pressed to the wall of the lift, clutching the support bars. “You knew every single inch of my body. Ask her. Compare notes.”
“Why would she lie about that? Why would she completely ruin our friendship over a lie?”
He shrugged. “Why does anyone do something that makes them infamous in a person’s life? What else does she have going for her? Ask her where my tattoos are. If she slept with me like she said she did, she’ll know.”
“That’s crap, what if I’d told her?”
“Did you?”
Course not, the wonders of his body were all for her and for everyone else’s imagination. “It won’t prove anything.”
He smiled sadly. “My learned friend, I beg to differ. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Sunday, 7 December 2014


I don't know if you know, but I wrote this story in 36 days. I have no idea what Hank was on but he had other things to do that month and wanted to get on with them, rather than deal with Rocco pining for his tempesta. Without further ado, here is the soundtrack for Rocco and Anna's battlefield love story:

I've mixed it up from the original soundtrack, only because I don't want repeats of the same tracks. It tickles the OCD patient hiding within me...

  1. Florence and the Machine Shake It Out 
  2. TI ft. John Legend Slide Show
  3. Maxwell Pretty Wings
  4. Madonna She's Not Me
  5. Justin Timberlake What Comes Around
  6. Birdy Shelter
  7. One Republic Apologize
  8. Mumford & Sons I Gave You All
  9. Gnarls Barkley Crazy
  10. Gnarls Barkley Run
  11. Faithless Don't Leave
  12. Massive Attack Paradise Circus
  13. Arcade Fire Ocean Of Noise
  14. Rihanna ft Drake What's My Name
  15. Interpol The Lighthouse
  16. Zero Seven Ghost Soul
  17. The Rapture How Deep Is Your Love
  18. Kanye West ft Bon Iver Lost In The Woods
  19. Tom Rosenthal Take Care
  20. Chaka Khan Love Has Fallen On Me 

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

The Fairytales of Christmas

I am trying to keep all my literary balls in the air, at the moment. I sent out a little reminder that I am actually alive (sort of) and this time last year, I completed a little collection of stories all around the Christmas holidays. Each story connects with the one before - two by two, like the Ark. Gosh, I love this time of year. Yes it's cold. No, there is no snow (can't remember the last time it actually snowed at Christmas in London). Yes, I will eat my body weight in mince pies and brandy cream. And still be hungry. With all of that, I get to see my friends, my family all happy, and joking, and laughing and most likely having a snooze in the corner. But as NaNoWriMo has taken over my life, I may need to wait a little bit longer until I can get into the party-writing spirit.

The Fairytales of Christmas on Weyward

So for you, I've re-compiled the playlist for The Fairytales of Christmas. You know Spotify doesn't give me everything I want. Sad face. On the other hand, some cracking Christmas tunes right here. I know one isn't Christmassy at all, but on three repeats, I wrote that story. Can't be unhappy when this music exists. Enjoy!

The Fairytales of Christmas on Spotify

Past & Present Pleasures
  • The Fairytale of New York - The Pogues
Fate & The Future
  • The Christmas Song - Ella Fitzgerald 
The Gift Of Donna
  • Jingle Bells - Michael Buble 
India's Christmas
  • All I Want For Christmas - Mariah Carey
A New Noel
  • Mirrors - Justin Timberlake
Changing Lights
  • Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas - Christina Aguilera
Shopping For Two
  • White Christmas - Otis Redding
Season of Diamonds
  • Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! - Frank Sinatra
Miller's Girl
  • Put A Little Love In Your Heart - Al Green 
Jingle In The Night
  • Santa Baby - Eartha Kitt
Castle Family Christmas
  • I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day - Wizzard
Brooke & A Hard Place
  • Merry Christmas Everyone - Shakin' Stevens

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Violet Hill...

I'm still wrestling with the uncontrollable beast that is NaNoWriMo. And I've done something I really wish I hadn't.

I have a plot device. It unveils the villain. It brings the hero and the heroine together - because nothing defines love like a goddamn crisis. And it teaches my beta to be a better man. A more deserving man. His eyes are opened to all that he is and all that he can be. There's logic to the madness. And yet, I don't want to do it. I don't want to kill off this character. I need to. The story doesn't work if I shirk it.

I've killed off people before. It's not an IK story if there aren't a few bodies littered around. (Oh god, there are two massacres each in the next two) . That's not what's making me hesitate. I've killed off people I didn't care about. I didn't blink when I had them shot. Or their neck snapped in two. Or their ribs kicked through their lungs...  Of course it's simple to slit a literary throat when you can't see their smile, or hear their voice, or ignore special they are. I shouldn't do it, but I must. Hank tells me I must. He's also told me he'll make it all right. I call him an out and out liar. So while I've been a quaking mess sobbing over something I'm yet to do, Janet Eckford reminded me that she's done this. *side eye for the pain she caused me* It hurt at the time; tears were shed; but it made sense in the end.

That's all I can hope for.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014


For some reason I've signed myself up to the undeniable pressure that is NaNoWriMo. 50,000 words in 30 days. I don't know why?! One is not a flower that blooms in the dark. Or some such rubbish. We're on day 4, and.... Well I'm ahead. Just. And it's a story that I've started and abandoned a thousand times. I knew there was something wrong with it. Something missing. I couldn't quite grasp what it was. Until a day before NaNo was to begin, I had a light bulb moment. The heroine always had this rather mystical way with words and an even more alluring way with men. So Hank nudged me and said bluntly, "Bitch is a witch."
"No, she's just... Just... Bitch IS a witch. Who knew?"
"Me. You weren't listening."
I've got a lot to do. 36,000 things to do... But with a strong start these last few days, I've got room to do it. I will do it! Plus it's only pushing my competitive side. I want to win something this year. I mean a drink or a free meal is all very well and good but I want a badge! Badges plural! I love a badge. And a tiara. Might get one of those too for the 30 November. Now, to plotting!

Friday, 31 October 2014

The Dead, The Damned and the Darkness

Happy Halloween! Holidays equals presents and presents equal... Well a re-release but I'm glad it's back out in the world. On the most spooky day of the year, let the dead rise again!

Shibah's Monster on Amazon

Dr. Blurb

Dr. Shibah Kusi is a woman who lives by the rules of science. There isn’t anything that can't be explained or rationalised by what she’s learned in her work as a pathologist. It’s kept her grounded and it has kept her sane. Until one night, in the depths of the mortuary, she comes face to face with the dead body of her childhood crush, Marek Kaszynski. All she wants at that moment, seeing the man she’d always been in love with dead, is to bring him back to life. Change their future to reflect the promise of their history. 

At just past midnight, everything she wants will rise from the jaws of death. And in spite of everything she’s learned and everything she knows, Shibah will do anything to protect Marek. Whatever the cost...

Dr. Excerpt

Shibah was past wide awake. This was a state of complete chemical alteration, with Marek’s unrelenting erection pressing between her thighs. She wanted to blame her wet underwear on the shower, but this was a metronome of sexual need counting down to how long it would take for her to succumb. Get up, get up, get up five minutes ago, get up!

This couldn’t be good for his circulation. It took a good fifteen minutes of struggling but she eventually broke Marek’s hold and slipped from his body. With a foot braced against her old mattress, she heaved him onto his side and into a foetal position. The man slept like the dead.

Was he dead? She stared at him until she could see the rise and fall of his body. Closing the door behind her, she made her way to her parents’ room and sat on the bed in her damp towel.

What else could she do for now? No way could she sleep knowing her reincarnated childhood sweetheart was in the next room regenerating or something.

Oh God, he’d beaten that security guard to death. Well, it was either that or genital worms would have got Aaron. The sexual hazard of sticking one’s genitals into corpses. A snort of laughter escaped her before they quickly became sobs. Now what? Now fucking what? Her bag vibrated and she jumped a foot into the air. Kevin.


“Where are you?”

“At my parents. Just easier to get here. I didn’t want to drive for ages after such a long shift.” How easy it was to lie.

“I wish you’d called. I’ve been worried here.”

“I’m fine. Honestly,” she forced lightness into her tone. Why was he doing this? He should have made this sort of effort months ago.

“Well, call me in the morning”

“If I can. Goodnight.”

“Night. Love you.”

She ended the call before he asked why she didn’t say it back. I love a monster and that means I couldn’t have ever really loved Kevin, she whispered. Maybe if she got a little sleep she could start to process what her next steps were. And they had to be smarter than covering up a murder. Arranging herself on top of the duvet and beneath an electric blanket, Shibah forced her eyes closed and practised some deep breathing. Space. Calm. Breathe. Marek. Hearts. Marek drawing hearts on me. My wrist. My tummy. Between my legs with his tongue. No, no. He never touched me, he only kissed me once. And that kiss had been erotic perfection. He crossed her mind every time anyone looked at her in an even vaguely sexual way. Space. Calm. Breathe. Repeating the phrase over and over seemed to help, the warmth of the blanket lulling her into sleep.

She was back inside the lab. Marek was prostrate on the mortuary table in front of her. As she’d done before, she lifted his hand to her lips, tracing her thumb over the heart tattoo. His pulse jumped under her lips and her gaze fell on his face, still grey and waxy. Her hand traced over his forehead and she watched as sparks flew between their skins. White orbs fixed on her, his hand large and strong caught the edge of her lab coat, pushing it away. Obeying the silent command, Shibah allowed the lab coat to fall to the floor, leaving her in a simple pencil skirt and white blouse.

“Lift it up,” he commanded, his voice still sounding as if his voice box had been grated. She caught the hem of her skirt and pulled it above her waist. His fingers felt rough against her bare thighs. She couldn’t help her own shock at how dark she looked against his hand, even as it rose higher, scraping over her panties. Her breath locked in her throat as soon as he touched her beneath the lace. A gasp—desire and surprise—sounded loudly in the lab. Skin slipped against skin, Marek’s hand moving higher along her thighs, until he parted her sex and sank his fingers deep inside her. She rocked against his hand and almost lost her voice when he caught her just where she needed him. The response of her body skated down her legs and coated Marek’s fingers. Her eyes flew open at the sound of his grunt of pain. She glanced down and saw stark red half-moon circles where her nails had dug into the flesh of his torso. “Sorry,” she heaved.

“Come here,” he said in quiet invitation. She stripped off her skirt and panties before straddling him on the table with ease. He burned her with the heat of his cock, the tip brushing over her clit. Oh, God, how she remembered this fire! Sweat beaded between her breasts and at the small of her back. Marek caught her hips with hands that bit into her flesh, forcing her to look at him. The whiteness in his eyes had given way to that startling silver of her sweetheart.

“Take it,” he urged. Slowly she sank down onto him, the thickness of his cock pushing into her, spreading her little by little. She leaned down onto his chest and touched his cheek bones with the tips of her fingers.

“Every time,” she whispered, “every time I did this, I wished it was you.”

He kissed her, brushing his lips over hers. “It is me.”

Shibah woke, drenched in sweat and her hand locked between her thighs. The dream had been so vivid, she could feel the hardness of Marek within her. Ever since she’d touched him, the strangest sensations had assailed her. Stop it, she told herself. Just stop. She threw the blanket aside and showered properly, this time taking the care to put a cap over her hair. Changing into comfortable clothing that her mother kept aside for her, despite her stepfather’s need to have Shibah out of the house, she made her way down the stairs and sat at the kitchen table. It was barely two in the morning and she was afraid of what she’d dream about if she went back to sleep.

Folding her arms on the table, she watched water drip from the tap in the sink. Her mum should get that fixed. Levi was useless at DIY. He was good at manipulation but nothing that was inanimate. Horrible man. It took three inhalations to calm down. She’d worked so hard to put her feelings for Marek into perspective. Teenage infatuation with someone untenable. A crush on a boy who was angry and hurt and damaged. She’d told herself many times that it wasn’t fair for her to feel like that about him. Not when it couldn’t and wouldn’t last. Eventually it worked. The self-coaching did what it was supposed to, just so she could get on with her life. Meet someone else. Not expect the world from them. “Now he’s here,” she said. It changed everything. She buried her face in the crook of her arm and willed herself to stop thinking. To just stop.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Of Monsters and Men

Just in time for Halloween - or really, any time you're in the mood for something a little on the dark side... I re-present to you Shibah's Monster.

Maybe paranormal isn't your thing, or you don't do scary. Well let me reassure you, this isn't scary at all - and I wouldn't say that to you if it wasn't true. You're hearing from the wimp who couldn't sleep after watching The Blair Witch Project (to be fair, I saw a preview screening, left the cinema at 1.30 in the morning in the damn suburbs). And it comes under paranormal because, seriously, dead people don't rise from their graves. Even though I wish a few would. So there we are. All in all, it's about the power of love over the curse of death. Yes!

So to music! This is the soundtrack to Shibah's Monster. Hold on to the one you love...

Shibah's Monster on Spotify

  1. Craig Armstrong Storm
  2. Jay-Z and Kayne West ft Frank Ocean No Church In The Wild 
  3. Radiohead Karma Police
  4. Tom Odell Another Love
  5. Eminem Beautiful Pain
  6. Dante Alighieri & Patrick Cassidy Vide Cor Meum
  7. The xx Reunion
  8. 112 Cupid
  9. Portishead Machine Gun
  10. Bloc Party The Prayer
  11. UNKLE ft Richard Ashcroft Lonely Soul
  12. S. Carey Mothers
  13. The Chemical Brothers Setting Sun 
  14. London Grammar Hey Now
  15. James Blake Retrograde
  16. Editors Nothing
  17. Chase & Status Alive
  18. Harry Gregson-Williams The Letter
  19. Gabriel Faure Requiem Op. 48 Agnus Dei
  20. The xx Unfold