Monday, April 24, 2017

ANZAC Day 25th April



Every year ANZAC Day is held on 25th April in Australia. It celebrates the soldiers who fought in World War I (initially) but also commemorates all wars that Australians have fought in.
ANZAC means Australian and New Zealand Army Corp.

There are moving and emotional parades through nearly every town in Australia and wreathes are laid at cenotaphs. After the memorial services, the public go to the local pubs and clubs and have a beer or two and play two-up, a gambling game involving throwing two pennies up in the air.

This year, I'm not in Australia, as I now live in England, however, after finishing writing my last novel, which is set in WWI and about young Australian men going off to the battlefields of Gallipoli and then France, I feel this ANZAC Day is more meaningful than ever before for me.


For the novel I have had to research an enormous amount of details of the first world war from the Australian point of view. I've read diaries written by soldiers to get a feel of what they went through, and although I read many soldiers' diaries, it is the diaries written by nurses who took care of these broken men which I found the most fascinating. The nurses who cared for soldiers very close to the front line had very few comforts and worked long arduous days. They received little or no recognition after the war was over and that is unjust in my opinion.
I've watched documentaries to see original footage. I want to do justice to al those brave men and women who left their homes and families and went overseas to defend our way of life. How brave and how unselfish they were.

It should never be forgotten that we live our lives in the comforts that we do, because those men and women sacrificed themselves for us.

No matter how many years go by, we should never forget.




 
 

Friday, April 21, 2017

Where Dragonflies Hover - Split era novel

Where Dragonflies Hover review:

Wow! Wow! Wow! I was intrigued when I picked up Where Dragonflies Hover , (WWI Nursing, crumbling old manors and romance are the perfect combination to me) but as I delved into the story that AnneMarie Brear created, I was captivated, enchanted and completely in love with the characters, story, setting...just everything! This really is a truly special novel. --Sorcha O'Dowd, Old Victorian Quill


Amazon Australia https://goo.gl/uvfKtV



Thursday, March 2, 2017






The Matfen Affair by Jen Black


EXCERPT:
“It’s time you learned to defend yourself against that over-opinionated hussy.”
“Robert!” My hand shot to my mouth at the word hussy and my eyes were no doubt like saucers. A typical feminine reaction, but so ingrained I had executed it before my thoughts caught up with me. Knowing I was blushing did not help, but I raised my chin an inch or so, for I was nothing if not stubborn. “You should not call any lady by such a name.”
His brown eyes sparkled as the sun caught them. “Amelia is far from being a lady.” Tall, vivid and confident, he spoke partly in jest, but did not trouble to hide what he thought of my meekness, or my sister.
“She is outspoken,” I said slowly. “Mama has often said she ought not to be so forward with her opinions.” Then loyalty to my sister came to the fore. “Robert, I cannot agree with you. Amelia is a lady.”
He leaned toward me, his expression surprisingly serious above his impeccably white neckcloth and my heart skipped a beat. I had been in love with Robert Fenwick since I was two years old, but he had no idea of my feelings. Oh, he knew I liked him and enjoyed our friendship, but the intensity of my feelings was my secret. Sometimes I plotted and dreamed of ways to make him fall in love with me, but had not yet dared to put any of them into practice. “You are the true lady, Leigh. Now, come and walk with me while we discuss how best to bring you out of your shell.”
“I am not in a shell,” I protested. “Really, Robert, I am not sixteen. I wish you would not treat me as if I were.”
He glanced down at me as we continued to walk between lines of lavender. “How old are you, Leigh?”
“You know very well that I am nineteen.” Of course he knew, for his family lived across the valley and he and I had learned to ride our ponies together when we were both still in our smocks. I was the elder by one day, but he thought himself vastly superior to me, no doubt simply because he had been born male.
No matter what he said, I could not resist his charm for long. Walking with my cousin Robert Fenwick was always a pleasure whatever the weather, but especially so in today’s early summer sunshine. Blue sky arched over our heads and the hills that formed the border with Scotland rolled green to the distant horizon. At this time of year England’s most northerly county was always beautiful.
“I am serious, Leigh. It is time she stopped bullying you.”
“She doesn’t really bully me.”
His answer was merely to raise his eyebrows almost to his hairline, so in hope of distraction, I said, “Amelia will be entirely focussed on her latest beau for the next few days. She won’t take much notice of me.”
My elder sister had somehow contrived an introduction to Lord Felsham, one of the few notables in Northumberland, and had spoken of little else but his perfect manners, good looks and vast estates for the last three weeks.
Robert glanced in every direction and then leaned closer to me. “That is part of the problem. Haven’t you heard?”
“Heard what?”
“Can you keep a secret?”
When I nodded impatiently, he said, “Her beau won’t be at Matfen for the wedding. Felsham has contracted measles and will be persona non grata for some time.”
I stopped in the middle of the gravel path. “Oh, no!”
Our families were due to travel south to Matfen Grange in a day or two in order to celebrate my cousin Lucy Fenwick’s wedding. Such gatherings brought the rather large Fenwick clan together in one building, and offered a chance to meet old friends and perhaps make new acquaintances. I had been particularly looking forward to this wedding because I was to be bridesmaid to my cousin Lucy. Almost two years my junior, she was to marry Adam Ridley, aged twenty-five. Seven years was not generally thought too great an age difference, though I did have my doubts, for Lucy was a very young seventeen. Though I hoped Adam was not a frivolous young man about town, I equally hoped for Lucy’s sake he was not averse to gossip and fun.
“The young couple will have to marry without Lord Felsham’s presence,” Robert said with a chuckle.
But I was not thinking about the bridal couple. “Amelia will be distraught,” I said softly. “She has spent days deciding which gowns to take to Matfen. This is poor news indeed.”
“Why so?” Robert asked. “Lord Felsham’s absence should not spoil your enjoyment.”
I had few illusions about my elder sister. Once decided that Lord Felsham was excellent husband material, she had every intention of entrapping him by fair means or foul. News of his indisposition was likely to throw her into a fit of the dismals for days. I looked down at a clump of lavender growing in the border that ran along the side of the house. Several bees collected pollen and their contented hum was as pleasant to the ear as the scent of lavender to the nose. He was right, of course. My sister’s bad humour would not stop my enjoyment in wearing my new gown and being part of the wedding celebrations. A shell pink delight, my dress was already rolled in soft cloth to prevent creasing during the journey.
“The bride won’t care a jot if Felsham is missing or Amelia is in the droops,” Robert said cheerfully. “She probably won’t even notice his absence. The groom has never met either of them, so he won’t be affected.”
“That is true, but you know how Amelia will be if Felsham is not there.”
“She will be in a fit of the dismals, and when that happens, everyone will suffer?”
I could not contradict him. Yet his comment, and the glance that accompanied it, lifted my spirits. “That is true.”
“You give her too much credit, Leigh.”
“You are right. We should not allow measles to spoil anyone’s wedding.”
At that moment, a loud hail drew our attention to the corner of the house where the old pine tree stood sentinel. Cousin Robert groaned.
“Shush. She will hear you.”

“I don’t give a damn if she does.”

The Matfen Affair

A New Release for those who like Regency Romance with a difference!

Leigh Fenwick is looking forward to being bridesmaid for her cousin Lucy, and isn't very pleased when a ghost invades her bedchamber on her first night in Lucy's home.

It doesn't help that her sister Amelia, in her autocratic way, has decided to pay an unaccompanied visit to her latest beau, Lord Felsham, who lives nearby. The rules of London Society may be less strict in the Northumberland countryside, but some things are just not done even there!

With a bridegroom who suffered a fall from his coach on the journey to his wedding, a demanding ghost and a tearful bride, Leigh hardly has time to think of her own romance with her childhood friend and confidante, but weddings, even when they are not your own, have a way of bringing emotions to the surface.

Pubished in February 2017 on Kindle, The Matfen Affair can be found at:







Sunday, February 26, 2017

Aurora's Pride out now!

Aurora’s Pride - Victorian historical romance.

Amazon Australia https://goo.gl/YkZrOx


Saturday, February 25, 2017

Love Romance and Dragons? Try Historical Fantasy 'The Virgin, the Knight and the Dragon'

The Virgin, the Knight, and the Dragon (MF)
Medieval Creatures 2
Heat Rating: SENSUAL
Word Count: 24,824
Fantasy,  Historical,  Romantic Suspense

PRE-ORDER HERE!

AVAILABLE: Wednesday, March 8th

[Bookstrand Romance: Historical, Fantasy, Romantic Suspense, HEA]

This story is a sequel to my Medieval Creatures 1 book, The Virgin, the Knight and the Unicorn.

BUY BOTH BOOKS HERE

Blurb

Can Princess Adela, heiress to a deadly destiny, be saved by the love of a knight errant?

The youngest of nine sons, Jesse is used to neglect and hand-me-downs. Becoming a knight through his own efforts, he encounters a beautiful, virtually naked stranger in the countryside above the farmlands of his old home. Who is she and how can he help her?

Flaxen-haired Adela D’Varm is compelled by the magic of a faery geas to remain in the high grasslands until she is rescued by a knight—a worthy knight who must contend with a dragon. But this dragon is no ravening beast, as knights soon discover if they offer Adela any insult.

Amiable and truly chivalrous, Jesse is different. Through their encounters—amusing, tender, exciting—he and Adela fall in love. But, even as they marry, Jesse and Adela encounter a deadly conspiracy and a final test for Adela.

It seems that Jesse has deserted her—or has he?

 Excerpt:


Ahead he could hear a deep rumbling, like a cat purring—a cat the size of a hut. There was a smell of blood in the air and a savour of roasted meat.
Dragons, like wolves, prefer to feast on horses, not men.
From where had that thought sprung? Jesse felt for an instant as if he was bathed in heat—real, forge-hot heat. Older memories and stories trickled up and down his back in a messy puddle of sweat.
A dragon. Walter the shepherd whispered there was once a dragon up on these high grasslands. A creature of faery. Maybe it has returned.
The sweat turned clammy on his back. Trying not to stiffen up, Jesse choked down a cough. Above him, how high and how far off he did not want to know, he listened to the sounds of gnawing.
Turn back or go on? Either action held both appeal and risk. To retreat might mean survival or a blast of fire at his back. To go on—if he bested a dragon, he would be as famous as Beowulf.
No doubt Beowulf was an elder son . With my luck, I could win and gain nothing but a few coins for my trouble. Any treasure would be claimed by my older brothers.
Jesse stopped crawling. Roast horse swirled in his nostrils and, despite his wavering dread, his mouth watered. Wanting to travel light and make haste, he had not eaten well for days. Succulent, hot meat tempted him to raise his head.
A dragon rose on its haunches to tear and swallow a morsel of some animal that once may have been horse. Again Jesse’s hunger flared.
His older brothers would never have attempted what he planned, but that was a virtue. Why not? he decided, as the dragon took another bite. A dainty bite, he noted, for a beast as long as a cavalcade.
It did not kill the knight. The thought was almost a prayer. Inspired—or mad, or truly desperate—Jesse threw down his weapons and rose out of the grass, his hands filled with herbs. He averted his eyes, hardly daring to look.
“Good day.” He was glad he had planted his feet wide apart and pitched his greeting above the steady breeze of the dragon’s breathing. “May I join you?
“I have brought herbs.” He raised his cupped fingers, allowing some greenery to slip from his hands so the dragon would know he was unarmed. “Good eating herbs, wild parsley, wild mint, wild sorrel, also called vinegar leaves. I think you will find they enhance the taste of your meat.”
He stepped forward, placed the herbs on a boulder, and stepped back. “The marigold is simply for the colour,” he added, his throat growing dry again as he sensed the dragon leaning closer.
It must work, a wild, mad babbling voice wailed in his head. Dragons are said to be silver-tongued and to understand speech. And I like animals. Jesse had worked with hawks, horses, oxen, sheep, chickens, and goats and found each creature appealing, in its own way. Dragons were creatures of faery, and perhaps more. If there is a dragon, there must be a maiden close, a living maid. The old stories always have both.
Those jaws of hell gaped nearer, each tooth sharper than any sword. Through his half-closed eyes, it seemed to Jesse for an instant that the beast was smiling, which was surely impossible. Determined to look his probable death in the face, Jesse stretched on tiptoe,  raised his head and stared.
Now he could study it more closely. The dragon  was a shining gold blending to silver, lean and long as a vast snake or a whip, but with powerful legs and a deep chest. Jesse could not see any wings, but he did note, with a certain detached surprise, as of someone who could perish at any second, that the beast was ornamented with flashes of silver and gold scales about its neck, like a necklace. It had a narrow, almost elegant snout, prick ears topped by small, shiny spines, and deep large eyes the colour of an emerald. Strangely beautiful eyes that were considering him in a thoughtful, almost tender way .
“Thank you.” The voice sounding in his head was not his, though how had the dragon spoken?
Jesse decided not to trouble over that and made a bow. He sensed the dragon deftly plucking at the herbs, heard the faint scratch of very sharp claws on the boulder, then flinched as a round cut of steaming horse steak was placed on top of the boulder, laid neatly beside the rest of the herbs.
No one would believe I shared my dinner with a dragon. Jesse ate in a daze. The meat was cooked to a turn, and tender.
“Thank you for the flowers.” Again the voice that was not his sounded in his head.
Jesse harnessed his manners and his wits and swallowed the final piece of meat before he answered. “It is my pleasure.”
A wave of heat surged over his neck, followed by a percussive clap of huge, scaly wings. The force half stunned Jesse, and when he stirred again the dragon was gone.

“Good day.” A small slim young woman stood over him. She gave the same greeting that he had given the dragon, and her dainty bare feet rested in the hollow made by the dragon’s claws. “Are you hurt?”
Jesse shook his head. The woman seemed to be wearing nothing but a cloak. She had a flower in her electrum-pale hair, a marigold.
The same as the spray I gifted the dragon. She has the same colour scales—sorry, hair—as the beast, and the same deep green eyes. What is going on?







Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Catrina's Return - Victorian historical



Catrina's Return

Blurb:
1899. A life altering event led Catrina Davies to hide from her family and society. Alone in the Scottish Highlands she exists in a lonely world cared for only by her saviour, a kind old gentleman. When she receives a surprise visitor, Travis Millard, the man she used to love, her head and heart are thrown into turmoil. 
Travis is determined to save her from this poor life and return her to her family where she belongs. No one is more surprised than he when she agrees to marry him. 
When Catrina arrives back at her family estate, Davmoor Court in Yorkshire, she is stunned to see the changes. While her father clings to life, Davmoor is nearly ruined by her brother's gambling obsession, and there is something strange about his new wife. 
As Catrina adjusts to her regained position in society and being with Travis, her marriage comes under attack from Travis's grandmother, who has her own secrets and reason for loathing the Davies family. 
When one of her brother's adversaries comes to stake his claim on the estate, the resulting chaos threatens not only Catrina's home, but the very lives of those she loves the most. 
Can she find the strength to fight once more for the right to be happy?

Catrina's Return is available in paperback or ebook for pre order now.



Monday, January 30, 2017

Breathless In the Bush: Favourite Aussie Romance Reads of 2016

Breathless In the Bush: Favourite Aussie Romance Reads of 2016: By the Breathless Bloggers So great to have our favourite reads get the thumbs up from Keith Urban (courtesy of giphy.com)! It has...

Breathless In the Bush: Favourite Aussie Romance Reads of 2016

Breathless In the Bush: Favourite Aussie Romance Reads of 2016: By the Breathless Bloggers So great to have our favourite reads get the thumbs up from Keith Urban (courtesy of giphy.com)! It has...

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Isabelle's Choice

Isabelle's Choice


Blurb
Halifax, 1876. On the death of her mother and sister, Isabelle Gibson is left to fend for herself and her brother in a privately-run workhouse. After the matron's son attempts to rape her, Isabelle decides to escape him and a life of drudgery by agreeing to marry a moorland farmer she has never met. But this man, Farrell, is a drunkard and a bully in constant feud with his landlord, Ethan Harrington. When Farrell bungles a robbery and deserts her, Isabelle and Ethan are thrown together as she struggles to save the farm. Both are married and must hide their growing love. But despite the secrecy, Isabelle draws strength from Ethan as faces from the past return to haunt her and a tragedy is set to strike that will change all of their lives forever.

Isabelle’s Choice is available for preorder now and will be released March 14th 2017.
Amazon UK  https://goo.gl/THWIyH


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Gybford Affair by Jen Black

"Feisty, enigmatic, devious, independent and sweet characters unite to shape a very nice read!  Nicely done, Jen Black!" Viviane Crystal




The Gybford Affair: the heiress and the fortune hunter

Blurb: The quiet life of Frances, Lady Rathmere, is disrupted forever the day Jack, 4th Marquess of Streatham, arrives from London and almost rides her down. At the same time a stranger arrives in the locality, makes a play for her young cousin and scandalous letters accusing Frances of an illicit liaison appear in the national press. Is Jack their author? Frances is convinced he is, and has no idea the trouble those letters are going to bring in their wake.


Excerpt:
Frances loved Cloverdale with its odd shaped windows and the ill-matched gargoyles perched at each corner of the roof almost as much as her beloved Gybford. Most of the furniture in the drawing room had been removed to show off the wide polished oak floorboards, the small square Turkey carpet in the centre of the room and allow guests space to circulate. The sight of a tall gentleman whose bright red uniform dominated the soft grey stone fireplace and clashed with the pale gold curtains made Frances wince.

“Is he not handsome?” Mary whispered.
The stranger did not lack for admirers. Mama stood to one side, Uncle William, his navy jacket stretched tight across his broad chest, to the other. Aunt Jane, in an elegant high-waisted gown, was there with her son Charles and his wife, Catherine.
“I cannot see his face,” Frances said, amused by Mary’s obvious partiality for the stranger. “He is certainly tall and men always look well in uniform.”

Mary’s attention was fixed on the soldier in a most obvious way. Catherine’s glance flickered to Mary and, with a slight shake of the head, on to Frances. Everyone, it seemed, was aware of Mary’s feelings.

The stranger turned and smiled. His boots gleamed black against the pale hue of his breeches, and the scarlet jacket, white waistcoat and gold buttons seemed over bright in her eyes. Military uniforms brought back uncomfortable memories of Rathmere for Frances.

Charles touched her arm. “Allow me to introduce my friend Mr Andrew Holbrook, late of Cambridge and as you see, currently an officer with the 30th Regiment of Foot. Andrew, this is my cousin Frances, Lady Rathmere.”

Holbrook exhibited not a trace of shyness, but bowed with style and revealed excellent teeth. At close quarters, his height and breadth made Frances feel small and dainty. Lines bracketed his mouth, though Frances imagined he could not be more than thirty years of age. Black hair waved back from his broad brow, sharp blue eyes examined her, and then he favoured her with a delightful smile. He was certainly attractive. Well aware of the fact, too, Frances decided.

“I am happy indeed to make your acquaintance, Lady Rathmere.”
Frances dipped a slight curtsy. “I am delighted to meet a friend of my cousin, sir.”
Holbrook turned toward her. “I understand you live at Gybford Hall, no more than three miles from here.”

By turning he had cut Mary out of the conversation, and seemed unaware of any misdemeanour. Mary’s fine skin flushed and, crestfallen, she retreated from the circle, turned and hurried to the window at the far side of the room.
Though everyone in the district knew Gybford Hall was her home, Frances found she resented him knowing it. He would soon be asking if she had plans to marry and what her annual income might be. She chided herself for being silly, for no one would be so abominably rude.




Friday, January 13, 2017

Treatment of Women in the Spanish Civil War

Before the Spanish Civil War, girls had a very poor education. Boys were permitted to stay on at school much longer, while for girls it was merely a means for learning domestic duties. It irritated Rosita and no doubt women in the real world that they were legally obliged to leave school at twelve, despite their love of education and desire for a career. Nor were women permitted to take a job outside the house without the permission of their father or husband.

But the war initially brought a change in status for women, as they wished to do their bit to help in support of their husbands. Many received their best education during the war years, assisted by Mujeres Libres, which did a great deal for the emancipation of women. This organisation didn’t do battle with men, but neither did it believe that women should be ruled by them. They claimed all women should be considered equal and have the same education and opportunities as men.

 Women working in the war was not approved of by the Fascists, even if it was only doing the laundry for soldiers. Nor were they allowed to wear overalls or carry guns. Both left and right wing parties tended to dismiss women’s efforts as inappropriate, treating them more as sexual objects. They were expected to practise self-sacrifice and self-denial for their family, husband and the church. Some women tended to assume that the problems were more about class and economics, rather than gender. Others would deny they were feminists, nervous of endangering their efforts for equality and the fact they had no wish to be ruled by controlling men.

The problem was that if the authorities could not find the man they were seeking, they would arrest his wife or children simply for that reason. They hoped that threatening a man with that possibility could result in his surrender. Tragically, family differences could on occasions reveal where a fugitive was hiding. Women were often imprisoned for helping family and friends to escape. They could even be denounced by a neighbour, alleged friend, or family member.

After the war, they were returned to the kitchen, rather as was the case in the UK following both world wars. Women yet again felt cloistered, offered a very limited education and every effort was made to prevent them from attending university. They were even denied the right of divorce, contraception, abortion, or to open their own bank account. And no job was allowed once they were married. Laws were set up to ensure that women acted only as good wives and mothers. Fortunately, this anti-women attitude did eventually change, although it took some time. And the characters in this book are generally strong women, who very much do their bit to help, no matter what the risks involved.


It is 1936 and Spain is on the brink of civil war. Across Europe, young men are enlisting in the International Brigade to free their Spanish brethren from the grip of Fascism, leaving sisters and lovers at home. But not all women are content to be left behind. In Britain, Charlotte McBain and Libby Forbes, friends from opposite sides of the class divide, are determined to do what they can; in Spain, Rosita García Díaz, fiercely loyal to her family and country, cannot stand by and watch. Three brave women, inspired by patriotism, idealism, love and even revenge, dare to go into battle against tradition and oppression. 

Tying them all together is Jo, Libby’s granddaughter. Five decades later she travels to Spain hoping to make sense of a troubling letter hidden among her grandmother’s possessions. What she learns will change all of their lives forever. Deceit, heartbreak, and a longstanding fear of reprisals must all be overcome if the deeds of the forgotten women are to be properly honoured.

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Romance is important and why I write it!

I have been asked a few times why I write romance books, (sometimes complete with that look of disdain as though it was beneath them, you know, the common look people often give romance authors...)
I replied that the genre chose me, but on consideration, I realised that writing about two characters who find that instant spark - that immediate connection - is a privilege and a joy. Through my characters, I get to experience that initial rush of blood, the heart somersaulting and chemistry that comes when we find another person attractive and interesting.
Could there be a better topic to write about? Romance in some form is usually found in all genres, but a lot of people don't believe that. However, if you study some of the other fictional genres, you might be surprised to see that love between characters is usually a base to build stories on. For example: revenge on a murdered loved one (crime) or twisted love/stalker (horror)

Just like my characters, everyone needs romance in their lives.
Romancing a potential partner opens up so many possibilities in each other, especially the all important communication.
What is more perfect than feeling you are loved? Or more importantly, being shown you are loved?
And that's the piece most people mislay...Showing they love someone. We are all guilty of doing it as life gets in the way and we have pressures and responsibilities, etc. However, it takes but a minute to show you love someone. I make sure my characters do it.
In my book, Long Distance Love, Liam fills a room with flowers for Fleur, but it doesn't have to be that grand a gesture! It's the little things that makes a difference:
An email/text/message saying, I love you...
a phone call, just because you can....
a bath run as you walk in the door...
a special smile just for you...
dinner arranged and the cleaning up shared...
a shoulder to fall asleep on...
a kiss hello and goodbye - both are important...
a hand to hold...
cuddling on the sofa...
a cup of coffee brought...
stopping for a moment to say, how was your day...
taking care of them when they're ill...
listening to that special song you share...

The list is endless, of course, but the message is there, clearly - we all love to be romanced. We all need it in our lives. We all want our special 'other' to show us that they are thinking of us and that's why romance books and movies are so popular - if we don't have it for real in our lives, then we need to find it elsewhere. 

However, for me, there is also the satisfaction of creating love and romance for others to read, to experience, to search for in their own lives. It's true I put my characters through drama and hardship but in the end they find happiness, which is what we all want.

We should never accept the ordinary, but strive for the extraordinary.
An unashamed romance author.