Christmas Awards 2011

Saturday 26 December 2009

The Winners of the Christmas Award

The winner of the Main Christmas Award 2009 is Lindsay Townsend for Bronze Lightning, publisher Siren Book Strand.

The winner of the Short Award is Delilah K. Stephans for Sarah's Story, publisher Red Rose Publishing.

The winners will be notified and receive a prize.

The voting was keen but these two books won by several votes. Congratulations to the winners and a big thank you to all the people who voted.

The voting winner is Pam Brooks - an ebook has been sent.

Wednesday 9 December 2009




















The list will stay up until Christmas Eve and the winners will be announced after Christmas this year. Don't forget, the winner of each group receives a prize and one lucky voter from each list will recieve an ebook free.

Please vote and make an author happy!

Featured Book

Miss Clemence Ravenhurst never expected to find herself dressed as a boy and fleeing through the night time streets of Kingston, Jamaica. Nor was being snatched by some of the nastiest pirates in the Caribbean the sort of thing a wealthy heiress expected to happen. But even worse than life on board Red Matthew McTiernan’s ship was the realisation that she was falling in love with Nathan Stanier, renegade naval officer, ship’s navigator and her only protector. Clemence finds herself fighting for her life and her love on both the high seas and the drawing rooms of fashionable England alongside a man with his own battle between his desires and his dut

Sunday 6 December 2009

Two Gentlemen From London

Two Gentlemen From London
Fenella-Jane Miller
Robert Hale
222 pages
ISBN 978-0-7090-8896-7

Colonel Robert Sinclair and Major Dudley stumble upon two ladies in distress when their carriage breaks down. Annabel and her mother are hiding from Lady Rushton's brutal husband. They ran away when Sir Randolph's depravity became too much, but he is still searching for them and he has Annabel in mind.

To keep her safe from this menacing predator, Robert is prepared to marry Annabel, though he believes at the start that he can never again give his heart. Can he forget the past and can she overcome her fear and find happiness?

This is a fast-paced Regency with many twists and turns. It is an enjoyable novel, amusing and lively. I recommend this popular author. Her books are always worth seeking out and reading. 4.5 red roses. Linda Sole

An Interview with Fenella Miller

Tell us a little about yourself

What do you write? Romantic historical fiction

Why do you write? Because I have to – it's what I am – a writer. However, my wish is for a reader to pick up my book and love it, to be transported to another world for a few hours.

What are you writing now? I am writing a romantic suspense set in 1940 in and around Debden airfield.

What kind of clothes do you like to wear? Casual - I wore a skirt the other day and my friend didn't recognize me.

Are you in love? Have you ever been? I have been in love - but fortunately that changes to loving someone in a different way. Although I love to write about passionate relationships.

Do you have a dream lover – and what does he or she look like?
My dream lover is a character usually, Richard Sharpe (played by Sean Bean of course) or the dishy doctor in Gray's Anatomy, known as Macdreamy.

What kind of comfort food do you like best?
I love chocolate – but have to limit myself to a couple of bits once a week. I avoid 'comfort food' as I'm gluten intolerant. Also have lost 18lbs and have no wish to put it back again.

What makes you laugh? Cry?
Sometimes a book makes me laugh out loud, but not very often. Usually a film, something like Mama Mia. I shed a few surreptitious tears when Didge died on Neighbours - when my last dog died, and at weddings and funerals.

What do you do to amuse yourself when not working?
Writing is not working, as far as I'm concerned. I walk the dog twice a day, go to a French conversation class and meet up with other writers at least once a week. I also read a couple of books a week.

What is it in a man or woman that turns you on? The clean version please!
I like a tall man, with a good head of hair and a charismatic smile. After that it's personality that counts.

What do you hate about life?
Nothing -why should I? I'm doing what I've always dreamt of doing, am a published writer, my children are happy, I'm happy - could do with more money, but who couldn't?

What do you hope to achieve in life and when will you know that you have been a success?
I'm determined to become a successful writer, to have hundreds of thousands of eager readers rather than hundreds.

What are you going to write next?
When I've finished the current romantic suspense I will be back to writing Regency romantic adventure, my two publishers would be put out if they didn't get something new every year.

Saturday 5 December 2009

Featured Author/ Fenella J. Miller


'Miss Bentley, lawks a mussy! They're here. Young Fred saw the carriage turn into the lane not ten minutes ago.'

Annabel Bentley dropped the jar of bramble jelly she had been about place on the shelf in the pantry. 'After so long? I had thought Mama and I safe from him.' Stepping over the sweet mess on the flagstones she gathered up her skirts, calling over her shoulder as she ran. 'You and Tom know what to do; we have about thirty minutes before they arrive.'

How had he found them? They had been so careful these past years, had not even attended church or visited Ipswich themselves. Her heart pounding, she ran upstairs calling her mother.

'Mama, we are discovered. We must get organized or it will be too late.' She had hoped never to be reminded of that black time again.

Lady Sophia appeared from the south facing chamber she used for her studio, as usual she had paint streaks on her face and fingers. 'Are you quite certain, my love? I can hardly credit that monster has been able to find us.'

'Well, he has. Mary and Tom are putting on the holland covers, we have to clear your studio.'

In the beginning they had practiced this exercise several times, but as the months, and then the years, slipped by they had stopped rehearsing. However, the boxes were ready and it was the work of moments to fill them with the paraphernalia.

'Quickly, open the panel and I'll start taking things through.' Annabel tried to recall how long it was since she had checked their intended hiding place. It must be almost a year, the two secret rooms would be dust covered, but it was too late to worry about that. There was the clatter of footsteps and their servants arrived to disguise the bed chambers they had been occupying with covers.

'Miss Bentley, everything's ready downstairs, we shall have your rooms done in a trice. Fred is moving the horses, I reckon we'll be prepared in good time.'

'This room is finished; all we need is sufficient food and water for today and tomorrow. No doubt you will be obliged to offer accommodation tonight, but when he finds he's mistaken, he will surely leave first thing.'

'He'll not get a meal he'll enjoy tonight, I'll make sure of that.'

'Thank you, Mary. I cannot imagine why the three of you have stayed with us so long in this isolated place, but we could not have managed without you.'

'Bless you, miss, it's been our pleasure. You mustn't worry. If you and Lady Sophia get settled, we'll be up with what you need as soon as we've done here.'

Annabel stepped into the hidden passageway, relieved to see her mother had not been idle, the sconces were burning and she had sufficient illumination to fasten the panel behind her and to pick up one of the remaining boxes.

The passageways and narrow staircase led from top to bottom of the ancient mansion. The place had once been used by smugglers and although the exit to the beach had fallen into disuse years ago, it was still possible to get from the kitchen to the hidden apartment in the attic.

She followed the twists and turns without hesitation, it was fixed in her mind. She could hear her mother moving about ahead of her and guessed she would be setting up her easel.

'There you are, my love. I shall run back and fetch the last box whilst you check we have everything we need up here. I fear the bed linen will be damp after so long.'

Annabel didn't bother to argue that she was younger and fitter and should be the one to go back, for it would be untrue. Her mother was barely eight and thirty, and she nineteen on her last name day, they would be taken for sisters if ever they appeared together in public.

These secret rooms had been constructed when the house was built. There was no way to enter them via the attics, the only panels that opened were in the room that had been used as a studio and the boot room in the basement. She walked across to the low doors that opened onto the roof.

She pulled them back and stepped out, knowing she could not be seen from below. Brandon Hall, originally built in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, now had a false edifice making it appear what it was not. Behind the brick frontage, hidden between two chimney breasts, was a space more than large enough to walk about. She carefully removed the brick that filled the peephole.

Her throat constricted and her hands clenched. Fred had not been mistaken. Already half way down the long curving drive was a smart, black travelling carriage. They had not received a visitor since they had joined Great-Aunt Beth, nobody knew they were there. It could only be her stepfather, Randolph Rushton, and his loathsome man of affairs.

A vivid flash of lightning split the sky. She counted, had reached five, when the thunder followed. The storm they had been anticipating all day would be upon them within the hour. She prayed the river that ran parallel to the lane would not flood, the last time it had done so it had been a week before the road was passable.

Her mother appeared at the door, her face pinched and pale. 'Come in, my dear, we must get ourselves settled whilst it is still light enough to do so. You know we cannot risk more than a single candle once it is dark.'

'Very well, Mama, the carriage will be here imminently. We can't move about once it arrives, you know how sound echoes down the passageway.'


The coach rocked violently. 'God's teeth! Sinclair, are you certain we have taken the correct turning?'

Colonel Robert Sinclair grinned at his companion. 'The yokel the coachman questioned a while ago directed us along this godforsaken track. It's your family we're visiting, Dudley, not mine, remember.'

'My sister said she lives in rural splendour, not that she lived somewhere as inaccessible as this.'

The horses slowed to a walk and Robert lowered the window. 'I can see something carved into the gatepost.' He leant out and could just make out some letters under the verdigris. 'Yes, it's definitely Brandon Manor.' He shouted up to the coachman. The groom sitting next to him on the box, hung precariously over the edge to listen. 'This is it. The drive is in no better state than the lane. Take it carefully, I don't want my horses lamed.'

'Very well, Colonel, we'll take it steady.'

The driver waved his whip in acknowledgement and Robert resumed his place on the squabs. This was turning out to be a more interesting excursion than he'd anticipated. When Dudley had suggested a visit to darkest Suffolk to see his sister Amelia, he had agreed. Since Waterloo, and reduced to half pay, even a sojourn in the country seemed preferable to kicking his heels in town, and having too much time to dwell on his loss.

'I know your sister has been widowed, but surely her finances are not so parlous that the estate has fallen into disrepair?'

'To tell you the truth, I know little about Brandon Manor or her dead husband. She met and

married Sir John Barton whilst I was on the Peninsular with you fighting Napoleon. She has two

children, I misremember their names, but from what I recall, Barton was a young man with deep pockets. Amelia wouldn't have looked at him otherwise.'

Robert smiled. 'She always said she would marry money; but I'm surprised she chose someone who lives so remotely. I doubt she has much social life stuck out here in the back of beyond.'

The sky was rent by a sheet of lightning closely followed by the rumble of thunder. 'That's all we need, a storm. The going is too poor for us to make faster progress; I fear we're going to be caught in a downpour.'

'At least we will be well looked after when we arrive. Amelia keeps a good table. This journey has been beyond tedious, I cannot wait to stretch my legs and enjoy a decent meal.' Simon Dudley shuddered. 'The repast we were given last night beggars belief.'

'It didn't prevent you from finishing it,' Robert said dryly. The carriage dropped into another pothole tilting dangerously; he was catapulted from his seat. 'Dammit! That's the axle gone. God knows how we're going to get it fixed out here.'

He untangled himself from his friend and reached up to grasp the door which was now above his head. 'Did I hurt you?' Major Dudley shook his head. 'I must get out and help Jethro with the horses. We're still a mile from the house; I fear we're going to have to walk.'

The team might be in imminent danger of entangling themselves in the traces. He prided himself on having four incomparable matched bays and had no intention of letting any one of them injure themselves. Heaving himself upright he smashed the door open; he thrust through the opening to roll down the carriage to the ground.

His driver was before him and had his knife out to slice through the leather. There was no sign of the groom. He ran to take hold of the bit of the lead horse, he pulled the animal's head down and spoke soothingly until it calmed. 'Where's Billy?'

'I ain't had time to check, sir, he went over the side and I've not seen him since.'

There was the thump of boots as they hit the ground behind him. 'Dudley, my groom's hurt. Check on him.' He knew his friend wouldn't question his orders; after all he'd been following his commands during the years they had served together in the same regiment.

'A concussion, he's out cold, but his pulse's steady. How the devil are we going to get him to the house?'

'I can see help arriving; there's a pony and trap heading this way. I find it decidedly odd that Amelia can provide us with nothing better than that.'

Dudley shrugged. 'I suppose it might have been sensible to have informed her of our coming.'

'Good God! How did the regiment survive with you in charge of transport? I should not have agreed to accompany you, or use my carriage, if I had known we were not expected.'

The trap clattered to a halt beside them and an elderly retainer scrambled out, a younger version, obviously his son, close behind. 'It's going to rain something heavy any time now, sir, so we best get you to the hall before it do.'

Robert nodded. 'My groom is injured, take him and our bags. Major Dudley and myself will ride.' The man touched his cap and vanished to the far side of the tilted carriage to collect the patient. He was about to swing up on the horse he was holding when something the man had said made him stop. 'Is this Brandon Manor?'

The two servants staggered around, the comatose body between them. The older man answered. 'Bless you, sir, no it ain't. This is Brandon Hall. Brandon Manor is ten miles away, at Upper Brandon. This here place is Lower Brandon.'

Fenella Miller is a popular author who writes unusual and well researched Regency novels.

In Miss Bennet and Mr Bingley Fenella J. Miller returns to Jane Austen's best loved novel, Pride and Prejudice, giving an insight into both Charles and Jane's private thoughts through that difficult year.
We discover what changed in London and how Charles filled the days until he was able to return to Netherfield. This book takes you past the wedding -- located then it becomes the heroine of the hour.

"Jane Bennet is in the spotlight in Fenella J. Miller's delightful novel. We see Jane's growing love for Bingley as well as her view of Elizabeth and Darcy's unfolding relationship, and we find out what happened to her in London when she thought all was lost. Humourous, engaging and true to Jane Austen's world, this is a charming read for all Austen fans." Amanda Grange

Wednesday 2 December 2009

An Interview with Linda Acaster

Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Linda Acaster, I live on the coast in Yorkshire, England, and I’ve been writing on and off since my teens. I’ve always enjoyed history, especially Dark Age and Early Mediaeval. I’m fascinated by the lives of ordinary people, how they lived and worked, and the fact that they occupied the space in and on which I now live my life, so often even my contemporary fiction is influenced by aspects of the past.

What do you write?
I tend to write a bit out of left field. For instance, my Romances don’t necessarily follow the usual path for love stories – “Torc of Moonlight” is about the power of women but the main viewpoints are male – and I like a good dose of high adventure mixed with gritty realism. Even when I was writing Historical Romances for Harlequin I was always teetering on the edge. My editor balked at my casting a Viking hero as an historically sound werwulf. Perhaps I was just ahead of my time and I should resurrect him.

Why do you write?
Oooh, there’s a question for the psychiatrist’s couch. I enjoy exploring the dynamics of relationships, the sometimes fine line between the dark and light emotions and the influences that can make a person lean, even temporarily, to one side or the other. For instance, in “Torc of Moonlight” I have two sets of characters in parallel: one couple make love, the other couple has sex. Current society tends to consider these terms interchangeable, but they’re not.

What are you writing now?
With “Torc of Moonlight” just out I’m cogitating, letting a scenario and a set of characters foment. I feel that the follow-up should be another Paranormal, but even though there is a romance at its heart, what is rising seems more like Gothic Horror. Like I said, left field.

What kind of clothes do you like to wear?
Slender, well-cut, elegant outfits that carry a sense of the tactile. Unfortunately I don’t have that sort of lifestyle, so I’m more often seen in jeans and flat boots. Well, you try walking down a muddy track to view a historical site in killer heels.

Are you in love? Have you ever been?
Of course. Dear Reader, I married him.

Do you have a dream lover – and what does he or she look like?
Hubby, still. And he’s tall, dark and handsome complete with velvet brown eyes. Didn’t I do well?

What kind of comfort food do you like best?
If I’m relaxed it’s canned tomato soup; if I’m stressed it’s dark chocolate Hobnobs and coffee so strong it would melt silver.

What makes you laugh? Cry?
Laugh: a good comedy or a deeply layered joke.
Cry: another’s sacrifice; watching on television the silent people gather at Wootton Bassett

What do you do to amuse yourself when not working?
Research tends to be viewed not as work but as a day out. Enjoying the company of friends over a home-cooked meal and a bottle of wine.

What is it in a man or woman that turns you on? The clean version please!
Looks initially – I still go for the tall, dark, handsome type – but it is that indefinable extra, not so much charisma, more an aura that is carried, that makes the difference.

What do you hate about life?
I don’t hate anything. Life irritates me. It keeps getting in the way.

What do you hope to achieve in life and when will you know that you have been a success?
Phew, if I had that taped I probably wouldn’t need to write!

What are you going to write next?
It might be my Romance that’s trying to be a Gothic Horror, if I can pull it into some sort of order. I’ve a non-fiction writers’ manual that should take precedence as it is nearing completion, and I’d like to rewrite that historically sound Viking werwulf. Decisions, decisions…

Tuesday 1 December 2009

Devilish Lord, Mysterious Miss

Devilish Lord, Mysterious Miss by Annie Burrows
Mills and Boon Historical Romance
4 Stars

Annie Burrows' latest Regency for Mills and Boon is an enthralling and suspensful romantic tale which will keep you engrossed until the final page!

Christopher, Lord Matthison, had fallen head over heels in love with Cora Montague, his best friend's younger sister, from the very first moment he laid eyes on her. Despite the difference in social classes - and his need to marry an heiress - Lord Matthison had been determined to wed Cora. But just days before the wedding, he had disappeared off the face of the earth...

Lord Matthison had searched high and low for the woman he loved more than anything else. But Cora Montague was nowhere to be found. Sinking slowly in a cycle of degradation, dissipation and gambling, Lord Matthison wasted his life drinking and raising hell. But one night, on his way home after yet another session at the cards table he finally spots her; the woman who is the mirror image of his beloved Cora. But, he is shocked when he confronts her and realizes that she has no recollection of him... or of her own past.

Mary is a simple seamstress at Madame Pichot's boutique who had come to London seven years ago and who is unable to remember a single thing about her past...but one kiss from Lord Matthison's lips and she is utterly enchanted. As Mary slowly falls for Lord Matthison, she cannot help but wonder whether she is setting herself up for heartbreak...or whether Lord Matthison's love will unlock the secrets of her past..and her heart.

Devilish Lord, Mysterious Miss is an absolutely fantastic read that will captivate and enchant romance readers everywhere. Full of intrigue and romance, Devilish Lord, Mysterious Miss is a captivating Regency historical romance fans just shouldn't miss.

Featured Book/Linda Acaster

TORC OF MOONLIGHT explores the controlling influences of current and past relationships: person to person, person to place, the past to the present.

Nick Blaketon came to the University of Hull to play rugby, drink beer and get laid. Now into his second year, none of it is going right for him. Alice Linwood escaped a claustrophobic home-life full of unresolved trauma, only to bury herself in restrictive research so as to uncover the shrine of a forgotten Celtic water goddess. To Celtic Briton Ognirius Licinius Vranaun, who betrayed his name, his ancestry and his people's religion for the trappings of a Roman lifestyle at Derventio (Malton), the goddess of the pool is not forgotten, nor forgiven. Is this why universities surround the North York Moors as once did mediaeval seats of learning? Why does tutor Leonard Harkin continue to search for his soulmate, despite his reputation among female students and warnings to leave from his estranged partner? Nick takes none of Alice's theories seriously - until the trees crowd in and he realises that his training regime is not to hone his rugby skills.

Author's Note:
The places in TORC OF MOONLIGHT are real and are described as true as fiction allows. The county of Yorkshire, once home to the Celtic Parisi and Gabrovantices, has more ancient springs known enigmatically as Lady Well than anywhere in England.

Alice dipped her fingers in the beaker. ‘Most often the water from these springs was used medicinally for joint problems, eye ailments, that sort of thing.’
Her hand reached for Nick’s face. Water dribbled down his torn cheek, first paralysing the scar tissue and then searing it with heat. Icy fingertips painted lines across his forehead and over one eye, following his facial injury. Nick leaned into her delicate touch, his breathing growing shallow, his gaze intent on her face, tracing caresses of his own. Her auburn hair was lost to the rock’s leaching colour, her pale eyes to the silver cascade.
‘Will... Will it heal bruises?’
‘I’m hoping so.’
With trembling hands he reached for the buttons of his shirt. Alice’s calm expression changed to one of dismay as his chest and ribs were freed of the garment. The beaker slipped in her hand, spilling the last of the water.
‘Nick... Nick, what happened to you?’
He didn’t want to explain. He wanted only for her to touch him with her ice-bound fingertips, anoint him with the fire-filled water.
‘Why didn’t you say? Nick, you must be in awful pain.’
The only pain he felt was an ache within his soul that only she could soothe. He dropped to his knees, reaching out a hand to lift water from the shallows. The cold clamped about his wrist, striking up his forearm in an attempt to drag him further in. The temptation to submit was strong, but he resisted, lifting his numbed hand to Alice’s face to smooth away her frown.
‘I’m not hurt,’ she murmured.
‘Yes you are, I know you are.’
Heat lit in his fingers as he touched her skin. It built to a fire along his knuckles and in his palm as he traced her cheekbone and her chin, easing to a tingling as the paralysis faded and his fingers caressed down her throat and over her collarbone.
She dipped between his reaching hands to rise again, and his body shuddered beneath the onslaught of liquid ice as it cut over his shoulders and down his back, over his shoulders and down his chest, the anaesthetizing cold penetrating each aching muscle, each bruised rib. In its wake the fire came, scorching impressions of her fingers into his flesh, and into his desire.
As his mouth sought hers, her name eased from his throat, a sibilant invocation, and he fed his fingers through her auburn hair and inside the neckline of her top to ease it from her shoulders.

Comment. This looks like being a fantastic read Linda