Monday, 19 June 2017

Pick up your copy of summer romance The Cloud Seeker, FREE on Instafreebie!

I'm looking for more reviews for my book, The Cloud Seeker. It is currently free on Instafreebie until 7th July!



Cat Cartwright's sixth sense tells her there are storms brewing in her peaceful English village. A stranger is in town, one that she does not trust despite her attraction to him. He is also the estranged father of Luca, the young boy she looks after for one of her closest friends and his spiteful wife. As the handsome, irritable New Yorker is gradually accepted into the community, Cat has no choice but to watch the strengthening bond between father and son, knowing that Max O'Donnell is not all he seems. 


A tale of ghosts, redemption, and romance, set in the Chiltern hills of summer.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

His Laughing Girl by Ellen Whyte


Cynics read no further because this is a pocket-sized (104 pages) romantic delight, detailing the insta-love between curvy, sexy Sophie and her billionaire client, techie geek Richard. Their increasingly heated flirtation is taking place amongst his super-model entourage, all who have Richard in their sights, and aren't afraid to try to put big-hearted, big-boned Sophie in her place.


But this is an Ellen Whyte book, which means our heroine is ballsy and not intimidated (too much) by the sniping of the beauty bots, and Richard, our single-minded hero, only has eyes for Sophie's curves. Ellen has given her characters three-dimensional lives, not just dressed them up like paper dollies (oh look, he's a tech genius, she's a chef!) without giving some insight into exactly what they do for a living. Richard's house party as he tries to woo a Russian businessman into investing into his product, and the challenges Sophie faces as she balances the picky meal requirements of all the guests, are a case in point. I've said before, and I'll say it again, Ellen Whyte (and as A J Adams) imbues her stories with an intelligence as well as lush romance, not insulting the reader by assuming they just want to get to the kiss at the end.

The story is told from both Sophie's and Richard's point of view, which again is ambitious for a relatively short book. It would have been far easier just to give Sophie's version of the story, but the fact that Richard has his say as well, tells me that the author really cares about her characters and wants them to have their own voice. It succeeds very well and gives the story a lot more depth.

So yeah, for someone who doesn't really do romances without a lot of bedroom action or deep-rooted angst, this old cynic's granite heart has been melted. The insta-love, the HEA, the strong heroine, the hot guy with all the money = sold.

BLURB


“To being wicked.” His grey eyes were laughing at me. “Together.” 

The pleasant thumping in my knickers became a vigorous pounding. Richard Cummings was gorgeous. I could feel his charm wrapping around me like a warm blanket. 

Irresistible, right? I heard myself quip, “Are you Cumming onto me?” 
He bounced right back, “Absolutely.”

Oh well, I told myself. It’s just a flirt fest. I have those all the time, and it hardly ever comes to anything. Because of the curves, probably. Men like me, but after we’ve had a laugh, they go to bed with someone skinny. 

This was no different. I’d have a giggle with Richard, enjoy the charm and the good looks, lust after him a little bit, and know it was purely a game. Because tech billionaires with a penchant for A-list models don’t fall for curvy caterers.

*****
Curvy chef Sophie Weston has given up on love. But when she is hired to cater for a very exclusive house party, she falls instantly for handsome tech tycoon Richard Cummings. However, she quickly discovers that Richard has a shady past. Should she trust him or should she walk away before her heart is broken again? A fun uplifting romance with a big beautiful woman and a yummy billionaire. 

Friday, 19 May 2017

The Truth About Goodbye by Russell Ricard


This review was first published on the WROTE Podcast LGBT website. 

The Truth About Goodbye is the self-assured debut novel from Russell Ricard, handling a tough subject with humour and grace. How does one move on from the grief of losing one’s husband? Of course, everyone is different, but it is Sebastian’s story which is told here. On the face of it, an ageing chorus boy, is dealing with two significant life events. The one year anniversary of the death of his husband, and turning 40 in the midst of an unforgiving and cruel environment; the New York show scene.


Sebastian’s well-meaning friend, Chloe, tries to make him feel better by setting him up with a date, failing miserably as Sebastian is still trying to accept and move on from his husband’s death. (Not surprisingly. A year is not that long when it comes to the loss of a true love.) Sebastian has tried a variety of distractions, including throwing himself into his choreographing work, with limited success. In the end, he has to face his grief alone, with all the requisite elements it throws at him. Anger, both at himself and his husband for leaving him, guilt at what was said or not said on the night he died, and fright at the thought of losing what they had forever, and erasing it with someone new. Through techniques taught by his lifestyle guru and grief counsellor, Sebastian gradually learns to accept his aloneness, and not be afraid of it. It is this journey of acceptance and dealing with loss, on which the novel is founded.
A very self-assured book, yet not an over-confident one.
Sebastian has lost a lot, as we discover through the book. Abandoned at birth, then losing his eccentric but much-loved adoptive parents, followed by the death of his husband, it seems inevitable that Sebastian expects to lose everything he loves. As he gradually learns to accept that loss, and realises that life is for living, not waiting to die, we see him blossom from a fragile, vulnerable man to one who regains his confidence and vitality. The emotional way he finally looks back on the night his husband dies, and eventually accepts it, is accomplished. Like I said at the beginning, this is a very self-assured book, yet not an over-confident one.
I didn’t get the strong feeling this was a “New York” novel, or even one set in the show business arena. There are elements of dance, as Sebastian is shown tutoring a group who are already stealing his thunder as younger, fitter versions of himself, but the main story is about how he deals with a painful event in a life that has been defined by loss. The author has a talent for letting the reader into the lives of his characters from the beginning. Sebastian is flawed but you feel his pain, as he doubts his own sanity and viability as a man alone. Middle-aged wild child, Chloe, is frustrating but ultimately endearing. Greg, Sabastian’s nemesis and rival, could easily be a caricature but somehow manages not to be. And Reid, Sebastian’s potential love interest, is cute as a button and kind with it, but is it too soon for Sebastian to find love?
Due to the central premise of the book, there is a fair amount of navel-gazing, but Sebastian’s friends provide light relief, notably ex-Rockette Chloe. The dialogue between them felt real and convincing. Sebastian comes across as fragile, needy, a little bit tetchy, but ultimately I liked him and wished him well. You get to know about his family, why he is the way he is. It’s a balanced story that pulls you with it, like a seemingly calm river hiding rip currents beneath the surface. I found it to be that rare thing, a fairly light read that leaves an echo long after it has been completed.

BLURB


Sebastian Hart has dealt with a lifetime of goodbyes. And now, a year after his husband Frank’s death, the forty-year-old Broadway chorus boy still blames himself. After all, Sebastian started the argument that night over one of Frank’s former date items, someone younger than Sebastian who still wanted Frank.

Challenged by his best friend, the quirky ex-Rockettes dancer Chloe, Sebastian struggles toward his dream of becoming a choreographer and grapples with romantic feelings for Reid, a new student in his tap class.

Ultimately, Sebastian begins to wonder whether it’s his imagination, or not, that Frank’s ghost is here, warning him that he daren’t move on with another love. He questions the truth: Is death really the final goodbye?

Sugar & Spice by Garett Groves


Hello! Review time again. This review first appeared on the WROTE Podcast LGBT writers website.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Although part of a series (Spice of Life), it was a standalone, straightforward read, with zingy dialogue and two engaging main characters.
When I first started reading, I thought Max, the young, hot, clueless wannabe model, was a bit of a knob, to be honest (US readers, that isn’t a good thing.) He certainly didn’t endear himself to me when we were first introduced. Yes, he has the body, but he also has a self-destructive streak that I wanted to slap out of him. It was hardly surprising that Lucas, the older man who had been around the block a few times, was wary when Max made play for him in a gay bar. Encounters like that seem rarely destined to last.

But Lucas was a sweetie. I had the feeling that the author was trying for David Gandy, but I read Lucas as Henry from Cucumber. The image was thankfully shaken off when he and Max first hook up for their first pearl-clutching sexual encounter, after which, Lucas has the presence of mind to leave, rather than fall headlong into an improbable “mind-blowing sex all night” scenario.

And it is this restraint which makes the book work. Max does all the running. Lucas is the one holding back. At 45, he has doubts about his viability both as a lover and and photographer, so when Max has eyes for no-one else, he is understandably wary.

Max is also learning a sharp lesson in humility, after being fired from his job and dumped as favoured model for his photographer ex-boyfriend, but he is also wary of Lucas’s motives for wanting to hire him for his own photography purposes.

When they begin to work together, the awkwardness is almost painful, and Lucas’s attempts to make things right between Max and his former crush are excruciating, but in a good, “read it behind my fingers” way. You’re never really sure whether these two will make a successful couple. The odds seem stacked against them, for all Lucas’s wealth and Max’s worldliness, but the pay-off is worth the slow burn. (No spoilers – the author guarantees an HEA on Amazon. Also, no cheating or cliffhangers – good to know for people who hate both, like me.)

The author has paced this book very skilfully, creating an enjoyable, fun read with depth, and characters that feel real and well-rounded. And Lance, Max’s frenemy, is hilarious. I spent most of the book not trusting him, expecting him to stab Max in the back. Will he? Won’t he? Read it and find out.

BLURB

After getting rejected by the only guy that he’s ever allowed himself to feel something more than lust for, Max Williams has convinced himself that the bachelor’s life is the only way for him to live. At 28, Max has everything he needs for it: a smoking body, just enough money to keep the drinks coming, and an endless supply of guys that are more than happy to keep his bed warm at night. Still, he can’t shake the feeling that something is missing.

When he loses his day job thanks to his partying and the modeling career he’d been trying to build collapses, Max isn’t sure of so sure of himself anymore, but there’s one thing he knows without a doubt: something’s got to give.


Lucas White has a reputation of his own–and he’s tired of it. The security provided by his cushy job as editor-in-chief of a legendary local photography magazine has kept him stagnant for too long both professionally and personally. He never dreamed he’d be able to retire by the age of 45 and start his own passion project, but that’s exactly where he’s found himself and it hasn’t been an easy transition.

While celebrating his last day at the office, Lucas and Max get up close and personal at a new bar and Lucas’s entire world turns into a photo negative. Max is the perfect model that he’s been looking for to bring fresh eyes to his new venture, but he looks so much like someone who once broke his heart–and Lucas isn’t sure that he can look at Max’s beautiful body every day for work without continuing to touch it.

Against his better judgment, Lucas hires Max. As they start working together, the line between employer and employee quickly blurs, and not even the pact they made to remain strictly professional seems to keep things in focus. Though they know better, neither man can resist their desire for something more–but Max is afraid of commitment, and Lucas can’t stomach the idea of being taken advantage of by another pretty face. 

Will their differences bring them down, or will they come together like sugar and spice?

Saturday, 15 April 2017

I'm Now On Instagram!

Yes, folks, I've discovered another way of reaching out to you, after being reliably informed that all the wise authors use Instagram instead of Facebook, where they are too easily distracted by cat videos and heated discussions.

They obviously hadn't heard of Cats Of Instagram, or followed Bianca del Rio. 

Anyhoo, I'm now on Instagram, so if you want to stalk me, I post lovely pictures of the Chilterns countryside, my cat, clouds, and teasers/excerpts from my books, and my name on there is.......





Hope to see you there!

Friday, 14 April 2017

An Asian Minor: The True Story of Ganymede (Audiobook) by Felice Picano


This book was originally written in 1981 by Felice Picano, and details the early life and career of Ganymede, as told by the alluring boy in his own words. It is extremely well-written, a colourful, ribald account of his escapades as he fights off the attentions of men of all rank and age. His beauty also captures the attention of various Immortals, who will go to great lengths to seduce him. It probably should be noted to those unfamiliar with Ancient history that Ganymede is 12 at the beginning of the book, so 21st century sensibilities do not apply.

The book hasn’t been in print for a long while, but now it has been republished as an audiobook, narrated in a salacious drawl by Jason Frazier. This is the first audiobook I have listened to all the way through. The delivery is everything, especially with a book that could be dismissed as being either too highbrow by some or too lightweight by others. This would be a shame. In fact, it is a witty, sexy, sometimes humorous account of Ganymede’s life. The reader gets a peephole view into the lusty world of Troy and its inhabitants, where beauty is highly prized and judged at every turn. Ganymede is the most beautiful of all boys, gaining sexual experience with a variety of Immortal lovers, before being disgraced and shunned for rejecting the top man, Zeus; probably not his greatest career move.

Jason Frazier’s voice should have an R rating. He could read a telephone directory and make it ooze with sexual promise. The book itself is not explicit, but the theme of lust runs through it in a pulsing thread. Ganymede learns humility, but still retains an arrogance that only truly beautiful people can get away with. He isn’t particularly likeable, but that doesn’t matter. His story is told in such rich and gorgeous detail, one cannot help but be captivated. This is a book to be savoured at home, rather than driving, or in a public place, as it would be a crime to miss a single word.

I was given a copy of this Audiobook in return for an honest review.

His Competent Woman by Ellen Whyte


This is the first in a new genre for Ellen Whyte, who is better known as dark romance/suspense author AJ Adams.

I was expecting great things of this book, which is a fairly quick read at 100 pages, and I wasn’t disappointed. This is a hugely enjoyable addition to the popular BBW-Billionaire genre, with an engaging character in the form of Emma, struggling to make ends meet with her young son, who has just been diagnosed as dyslexic. In order to pay for the equipment and tutoring he will need in the future, she has to find a job, and fast, but her interview with billionaire Curtis West does not go well. When his PA suddenly quits, Emma in the right place at the right time and she blags her way into the job. Curtis has his own secret, which Emma is well-qualified to help him with. 

Straight away, it was obvious this didn’t fit into the normal tropes of quick-read romances. For a start, Emma has a son with educational needs, and Curtis quickly becomes less of a tiger and more of a pussycat under Emma’s no-nonsense approach. The company that Curtis heads up isn’t there for window-dressing. He actually knows what he’s talking about. The author has done her research well and it feels effortless. Yes, it’s a romance, but it’s heart is based in reality, which makes both characters likeable from the start and gives the story a lot of depth for a relatively short book. 

The story is written in the first person, first from Emma’s point of view and then Curtis’s. Normally, I’m not keen on this, but because each chapter is marked with the name of the person talking, it actually works. After a few pages, I just didn’t think about it. It’s always worth mentioning though.

Finally, I loved the way Emma shared her most private thoughts with the reader, and some of them were very sexy. There is one hot scene which I won’t spoil but it is more romantic than balls-out sexy, and it totally fitted with the tone of the book.

So a quality read from Ms. Whyte, and a worth-while, intelligent addition to an increasingly crowded genre. If you only ever read one BBW-Billionaire romance, make it this one!