Highland Arms – released again!

Hello friends,

Are you busy with your Christmas preparations? Cookies baked, shopping list written for the holidays? Or are you trying to escape it all?

We're still fairly calm here. Shopping isn't done yet, though we already have plenty of logs and coal to keep us warm at least. And wine, bubbly and beer chilled. But we'll do the food shop tomorrow. Not looking forward to facing the desperate crowds that pile up their trolleys like there's no tomorrow. Well, in this case, no post-Christmas. We'll see...


Right, so in the midst of all this festive chaos, Highland Arms was re-released through Crooked Cat Publishing. I'll always be grateful to The Wild Rose Press for giving me my first signed contract, but I'm also looking forward to new ventures. Highland Arms is the first in The Highland Chronicles series – a selection of historical romance adventures set in the Scottish Highlands during different time periods.

Highland Arms is set in 1720, five years after the first ill-fated Jacobite rebellion. Danger lurks all around you as the Jacobites are defeated, but not thrashed (like after the '45). So of course, my hero, Rory Cameron, is involved in some way. A rebellious Highlander waiting for his next chance. But along comes Miss Catriona MacKenzie, fresh from Edinburgh. And she pokes her nose into his business affairs, unravelling things that should remain hidden. 

The second book in the series will be Highland Escape (working title). Starting with the battle at Falkirk in July 1198, it tells the tale of a young Scottish knight, Cailean MacKinnon, whose life is saved by an older knight, who then dies in a skirmish. Meanwhile, a group of English knights kidnap the dead man's daughter to marry her off to a mercenary in the pay of King Edward. Cailean manages to kidnap her from the kidnappers and takes her to his remote castle on the isle of Mull. But Isobel isn't the grateful heiress he expected to find, and she soon seeks a way off the island... 

A third book is planned to take place 15 years after Highland Arms, around the time of the infamous '45 rebellion and will be based around a character who appears in Highland Arms as a crafty boy. 

So, have I whetted your appetite? :-) Why not make a start on the series now!

Highland Arms is busy climbing the Amazon charts in the UK already, 
currently at #65 in the Scottish Historical Romance charts.  



Blurb:

Betrayed by her brother’s lies, Catriona MacKenzie is banished from her home to her godmother’s manor in the remote Scottish Highlands. While her family ponders her fate, Catriona’s insatiable curiosity leads her straight into trouble–and into the arms of a notorious Highlander. 

Five years after an ill-fated Jacobite rebellion, Rory Cameron works as a smuggler to raise money for the cause–until Catriona uncovers a plot against him and exposes his activities. Now, Rory is faced with a decision that could either save their lives or destroy both of them. 

But he’s running out of time… 

~~~~~ 

Highland Arms is the first in The Highland Chronicles series of historical romance novels set in the Scottish Highlands.


Birthday or Christmas?

Today, as my 2nd part of the fabulous and popular Christmas with the Crooked Cats event, I'm chatting about birthdays. Mine, and that of others. December children.

It's tough being a December birthday child. Or is it? 



Many of my online friends are Sagittarians like me. We're a creative bunch! For example, authors Nicky Wells, Mandy James and Rose McClelland are all pre-Christmas birthday girls. 

But I can see the pity in your eyes. "Poor you," you say. Must be tough getting less attention as everyone is so focused on Christmas. 

And then, "Did your parents not combine celebrations when you were little?" 

Umm, no! From an early age onwards, I pointed out an important difference to my nearest and dearest: Christmas Eve is on the 24th. My birthday is on the 20th! There are three full days in between. They may as well be three months! ;-)

"But don't you get fewer presents?" 

I never thought so. There was equal focus to make my birthday special. It was 'my' day as opposed to Christmas, which was a day for the extended family. I had my birthday parties, later converted into trips into Heidelberg for a burger and some shopping.

As for family Christmas, sadly, there are very few of my relatives left now, so I cherish the memories of my gran's and aunt's cooking. And how many birthday girls and boys can say that they have home-made Christmas cookies on their birthday? I used to love baking with my gran and still have her old cookery books, one dating back to the 1930s when she was in training. I remember good afternoons in her kitchen. Freshly baked cookies!

"But it's dark and cold!" 

You mean it's atmospheric, with festive lights everywhere? Christmas trees, cosy markets, candles and spiced hot chocolate with marshmallows or mulled wine - what more would I want?

OK, for a while I envied my summer birthday friends. Barbecues, outdoor kids' party fun, trips out. But as a true winter girl, I prefer my season. It's even snowed on my birthday now and then. One particular time there was so much, we had a snowball fight and made snow angels. Happy me!

So, to all of you who pity us: don't! We're very happy with our dramatic, warm, cosy season... :-)

Today there's sadly no snow, but hubby and I will be going for a nice meal, followed by drinkies on the Royal Mile! We might even make it to the Christmas market...

~~~

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas!


~~~

PS: Today is also the re-release day for Highland Arms. Exciting! If you love historical adventure with danger and romance set in the windswept Scottish Highlands, check it out! It's now available through Crooked Cat Publishing on Amazon UK, Amazon US and Smashwords! :-) 


Celebrating St Nicholas Day

6th December is St Nicholas Day.

This is not really noted in the UK, but it is commemorated every year in Germany, where I grew up, in a really nice way.

On the night of the 5th to 6th December, kids put one boot outside their bedrooms (yes, I did; well, up to the age of around 12). Legend has it that during the night, St Nicholas fills it with nuts and tangerines, apples and chocolates and a couple of small presents. So, on the morning of the 6th, children find a small treasure when they wake up. :-) (Note: choose a non-smelly boot for better effect!)

But who was St Nicholas? And why does he go around German houses during the night before his name day, dishing out goodies?
Russian Icon of St Nicholas, c. 1500, ( (c) National Museum, Stockholm)
The original Nicholas was Greek bishop of Myra, in Lycia, Asia Minor, around 300 AD. Very little is known about the actual person – even accounts of his parents vary – although it appears he was very religious from an early age onwards. But there are plenty of legends.

He was said to have been very helpful and caring, often saving people from starvation. The number three seems to feature in various stories surrounding him. He is said to have resurrected three children killed by a butcher before he could turn them into pies; then he was rumoured to have saved three sailors during a fierce storm, guiding their ship to a safe haven.

Another (and perhaps the one that many will recognise) was about a poor man who had three daughters he was unable to provide with a dowry. The saint is said to have thrown three purses through a window and the chimney into their house (he was clearly afraid of being turned away!). Now, who does that remind you of? Yup! Good old (well, new-ish) Santa Claus!

Gentile da Fabiano's The dowry for the three virgins ((c) Pinoteca Vaticana)

Christmas with the Crooked Cats

From today up to 6th January 2015, I'm celebrating the winter season with a group of fabulous Crooked Cat authors!
So, come and join us!
Find seasonal short stories and poems, excellent gift ideas and great reading material for the holidays when you finally get to put your feet up! Everyone welcome!

We'll see you there! :-) 

Nicky Wells introduces A Fairy Tale in New York

Today, I'm thrilled to welcome a very special friend, author Nicky Wells. She had the wonderful idea to combine a New York Christmas with a romance of a special kind: he's a rock star! An intriguing mix, don't you agree? I can't wait to read it!

But now, let's hear it from Nicky...



A Fairy Tale in New York… involving snow and a stranded rock star. What on earth inspired this story? I mean, the rock industry is hardly the stuff of fairy tales, or is it?

This is only one of the incredulous reactions I got when I first announced I was writing a Christmas book mixing together  Christmas with my love for rock, music, and fairy tales. Those ingredients go together perfectly, as far as I’m concerned.

Fairy Tale in New York is my version of the perfect Christmas story, and I really went all out on the happiness factor. Everything gets kicked off with an epic snowstorm—and I mean epic, of the ground-all-planes-and-halt-all-transport variety. You see, being snowed in somewhere is on my bucket list. I’ve always fancied being snowed in, if only just for a day. The drama, the excitement, and the snow!! (There’s really not enough snow in the season that the UK optimistically calls ‘winter’.)

Obviously there’s romance, because I’m a hopeless romantic. And true to form, there’s a rock musician because you know how much I love my golden-voiced bad boys. However, this story is about lead singer Jude as much as his girlfriend and baby daughter. Honestly, trust me, it’s a winner!

Last but not least, there’s a whole lot of new experiences for said rock musician that lend the story its panache and gravity. For despite all its good cheer and fluff (yes, fluff, it is a Christmas book after all!), I like to sneak in a message of personal growth and caring for others. Because that’s what Christmas is all about.

But why New York? I’m asked. Why not London, or anywhere else in England?

Welcome to Rosanne Bittner

Today, I welcome author Rosanne Bittner, whose latest release, Desperate Hearts, is out now. Rosanne chats about reading and writing - she's on to her 60th novel! That's got your interest, hasn't it?!

Over to Rosanne!


Good morning from Rosanne Bittner!  

I am always happy to visit other blogs related to romance writing and reading, something we all love!  I hope you will pick up a copy of my September (2014) book, DESPERATE HEARTS, a great “wild-west” action romance set in the little gold town of Alder, Montana.  I know you will love the hero, Mitch Brady, a vigilante who is tough on the outside but so caring on the inside.  Mitch can be a ruthless, unforgiving lawman when it comes to men who harm others for no good reason, especially those who harm women, but on the inside he just wants to love and be loved and find a woman with whom he can finally settle.  Along comes heroine Elizabeth Wainright, who arrives in Alder under mysterious circumstances.  Beautiful and alone, Mitch decides he needs to watch out for this young woman who has managed to grab at his heart.  He wants her for himself, but little does he know that Elizabeth is running from the law and a cruel relative back in New York City!  Through the story Elizabeth has to learn to trust Mitch, and he in turn has to learn the truth about this woman with whom he’s fallen in love. 
     DESPERATE HEARTS is my 59th published novel.  I’ve been writing over 30 years and have won numerous writing awards.  Most of my books are about America’s Old West of the 1800’s, an era of unbelievable growth in America, and packed with food for plot, from the building of the Transcontinental Railroad to the discovery of gold, the settlement of endless untamed country, battles with Native Americans (and I’ve written stories about the history of Native Americans, told mostly from their point of view), the Mexican War, and even the Civil War touched on the West.  I have also written about the French & Indian Wars, the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and border wars that took place between states before the breakout of the Civil War.  My goal has always been to relate real American history through fictitious characters in an exciting way, and from reader feedback I receive, I know I have accomplished that goal.
     I have lived in southwest Michigan my whole life.  It’s a beautiful state, and we are only about 10 minutes from Lake Michigan, one of the 7 wonders of the world.  Yes, there is a lot to be said for Michigan, but for some reason my heart has always been “out West.”  Maybe it’s because I grew up on TV westerns and lots of western movies and western heroes like John Wayne and Clint Eastwood.  All I ever wanted to read was books about pioneers and Indians.  If not for all my family being here and helping run a family business here, I would love to be living out in the Rockies.  Instead, my husband and I have traveled the west extensively for about 30 years, and I have visited every place I’ve written about.  I can tell that my love for American history and America’s West shines through in my stories, because so many readers tell me they feel like they were “right there” in my stories and that the characters seem so real.
     The first book I remember reading that truly made me want to write about pioneers is A LANTERN IN HER HAND by Bess Streeter Aldrich.  It’s the story of a woman who gave up all her own dreams of being an artist and a singer to go settle in Nebraska with her husband, following his dreams of becoming a big landowner and farmer, rather than following her own dreams.  When they settle in Nebraska, there is absolutely nothing there and no  close neighbors, and this book really hits deeply at the heart with how lonely pioneer women were when having to live in such remote areas.  It’s just a beautiful story that is unforgettable.  I was 14 when I read that book, and it has stayed with me all these years.
     I hope you will pick up DESPERATE HEARTS and let me know what you think – and watch for my 60th book next July – DO NOT FORSAKE ME.  It’s a sequel to OUTLAW HEARTS, and a fabulous love story – the saga of a wanted man and the woman who becomes his rock and his strength, and who teaches this man what love is all about.  DO NOT FORSAKE ME is a gritty, sometimes hard-to-read western that depicts the depths of love between a man and a woman who have to face danger and demons together.  The demons are things from Jake’s past that have haunted him all his life, and which he finally faces in DO NOT FORSAKE ME. You won’t want to miss this story, coming from Sourcebooks, with gorgeous, sweeping covers by Jon Paul!
     Thanks again, and happy reading!


~~~~~

Thank you, Rosanne, for such a fascinating post. Many congratulations on reaching such an impressive milestone – 60 books! A fab reason to celebrate. :-)


~~~~~

SHE’S A WOMAN WITH A SECRET

Elizabeth Wainwright is on the run. Accused of a murder she didn’t commit, she has no choice but to cut ties with her old life and flee West. The last thing she wants is attention, but when her stagecoach is attacked, she suddenly finds herself under the fierce protection of one of Montana’s famed vigilantes…whether she likes it or not.
HE’S A MAN WITH A CODE
Lawman Mitch Brady is sworn to uphold justice in the wild lands of 1860’s Montana. He’s never met a man he’s feared, and he’s never met a woman more desperately in need of his help. Something’s shaken the secretive Elizabeth, but as he gets to know the beautiful city belle, he finds the only thing he wants more than her safety…is her trust.
Buy Links: 

Amazon  Barnes & Noble   Kobo  iBooks  

~~~~~


Follow Rosanne here:

Website
Blog
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
Google+
Pinterest





Click on the banner for more blog tour dates and information about Rosanne!



Silent Deception by Cathie Dunn - an excerpt

As the nights draw in, I think it's the perfect time to share an excerpt of my paranormal romantic novella, Silent Deception

Cornwall. A haunted house. A feisty heroine. A dark secret...

There you are! :-)


Blurb:


Having inherited a family estate she’d never heard of, Minerva Goodridge travels to Cornwall to take charge of her new home. But fatal memories lurk in the shadows of Trekellis Manor. As the locals keep away from the house, Minnie accepts the help of a stranger. Can she trust him?

Gideon Drake, 8th Earl of Rothdale, is on a mission to uncover a family secret linked to Trekellis Manor. But the arrival of Minerva, the new owner, disrupts his investigation. Attracted to the headstrong heiress, he decides to take action – and ends up uncovering more than he expected.

Gideon must weigh up his family’s reputation against Minnie’s, but will the revelations tear them apart?


Silent Deception is a romantic Victorian suspense novella set in Cornwall.

~~~~~

Excerpt:

“Oh, there you are.”
Minnie shrieked, and turned quickly. She hadn’t heard him coming in. “You gave me a right fright, Mr. Drake. Oh…” Her gaze met the pile of linens he carried. “You found some. Wonderful.”
He nodded. “Aye, there are linen cupboards. The blankets at the top are useless, but wrapped beneath them I discovered bed linens, table covers, throws.” He grinned. “Someone was keen to preserve this stuff.”
Minnie clapped her hands in delight and took several off him. Her hands slid over the soft fabric. “These are wonderful. I hope they fit.”
“One way to find out.” He winked and strode up the stairs.
Minnie darted after him, her skirts hitched up. “Wait!” Her breath came in short bursts as she rushed after him.
But he’d already disappeared into the corridor. Oh, how unseemly. He couldn’t possibly help her make a bed. 
A bed!
“Mr. Drake, you can’t…” She caught up with him in her bedroom where he’d dumped the linens on the mattress. “I mean, I’ll take over from here, thank you.” Unable to look at the bed, she concentrated on shaking out the pillows.
“As you wish, Miss Goodridge. It is likely a wise idea.”
Minnie blushed at his knowing smile. “Thank you,” she said, “although of course I’m most grateful for what you’ve done.”
“My pleasure.” He raised an eyebrow. “Can you ride?”
“I’m sorry?” The heat in her cheeks deepened. With great care, she placed the pillow on the chaise longue and linked her hands, lest she betray their shaking.
Mr. Drake’s grin widened. “A horse.”
“Ahh,” she said, relieved, her voice not entirely steady. “Yes, I learnt to ride. Why?”
“Well, how would you like to travel about the countryside? Walk?”
Oh dear. She’d never given this a thought. How indeed would she make her way to Trekellis? “Erm, no. By horse. Would you know where I could purchase one?”
“Aye.” He nodded, his lips still quirking. “Why don’t I make some arrangements over night and return with a horse for you in the morning?”
Relief flooded through her. “That would be very kind, but I don’t want to trouble you too much.”
“’Tis no trouble at all. I’ll also make some enquiries about help for the house. It’s not wise to live here on your own, and you need help.”
Minnie nodded. It made perfect sense. “But did you not say earlier you aren’t local either? How would you–?”
“I’ve met folk during my stay in Trekellis.” His tone was determined, final. “Are you sure you have everything you need for tonight?” His gaze held hers, the hidden meaning behind his words clear.
“Yes, thank you, Mr. Drake. I have some provisions in my trunk. They should see me through for a few days.”
“Then I’m taking my leave.” He bowed. “I shall see you tomorrow.”
“That would be lovely. And,” she smiled and held out her hand, “thank you for all your help.”
Stepping forward, he dropped a lingering kiss on her hand, his eyes not leaving hers. “It’s a pleasure.”

~~~~~

I hope you've enjoyed this tidbit. 

You'll find Silent Deception on Amazon for just 97p / 99c

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Silent-Deception-Cathie-Dunn-ebook/dp/B008GF3T7C

http://www.amazon.com/Silent-Deception-Cathie-Dunn-ebook/dp/B008GF3T7C/

A Woman of Honour by Marlow Kelly - blurb blitz tour

Welcome to author Marlow Kelly, who is celebrating the release of A Woman of Honour, a riveting romance set in the best place for those – medieval Scotland. ;-) Can you resist?

Have a look!



A Woman of Honour
by Marlow Kelly

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

BLURB:

Duncan Campbell wakes to discover he is imprisoned with a woman in his enemy's dungeon in the Highlands of Scotland. The disenchanted warrior hopes his last few moments on earth will be spent in the arms of the sweet-voiced Isabel. If only she will cooperate.

Isabel Douglas has no intention of obliging the crude captive. The penniless noblewoman considers herself too tall and thin to be desirable. She intends to become a nun. But first, disguised as a boy, she must deliver an important letter to Scotland's hero in hiding, King Robert the Bruce.

Together, the pair make a daring escape that plunges them into the bleak countryside in the middle of winter. In the struggle to survive, they learn the true strength of their feelings for each other. But when Duncan's animosity towards the king becomes evident, Isabel must decide between her heart and her country.
  
~~~~~~~~~~~~~

EXCERPT:

Duncan Campbell drifted into consciousness and opened his eyes to absolute blackness. He lay perfectly still on the cold, dirt floor listening. A small rustle of fabric echoed in the darkness. He cocked his head, getting a sense of the sound’s location, then rose to his feet.

“Tell me who you are before I tear you apart,” he roared, seizing his opponent. Whoever it was didn’t answer, just silence. A fist punched him on the nose. Pain ricocheted through him, and he grabbed his face. In the dark, he lost his balance and fell in the dirt, cradling his head in his hands.

“Oh my, are you all right?” asked a small voice.

“No, I’m not.”

“You threatened me, and I wanted to give you fair warning I will fight back if you touch me.”

The lyrical voice stunned him. A woman? She spoke Gaelic with a strong, lowland accent. He shook off the pain and asked, “Where am I?”

“Dunstaffnage Castle. Don’t you remember your capture? I’ve heard of people getting a bump on the head and not remembering their own name. Is that what happened to you? Did you bump your head?”

Lord, she was talkative.

“Is it?”

“I remember I was hit from behind scouting the bast….Are we in the dungeon?” He rose to his feet.

“Yes.”


He grunted. On the bright side he hadn’t gone blind. On the other hand they were in a dank, windowless cell with no hope of escape. There wasn’t even a sliver of light coming through the door.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

After being thrown out of England for refusing to drink tea, Marlow Kelly made her way to Canada where she found love, a home and a pug named Max. She also discovered her love of storytelling. Encouraged by her husband, children and let’s not forget Max, she started putting her ideas to paper. Her need to write about strong women in crisis drives her stories and her curiosity regarding the lives and loves of historical figures are the inspiration for her characters.

Links:

http://www.marlowkelly.com/
https://www.facebook.com/marlowkelly
http://twitter.com/want2write





Marlow Kelly will be awarding a $25 Amazon GC to a randomly drawn winner 
via rafflecopter during the tour.