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! 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! It has...

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Isabelle's Choice

Isabelle's Choice

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

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.

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.