Friday, October 13, 2017

A tour of Combe St Philip

When Sophie, Jessica, Anne and I looked around for a setting for our fictional Cotswold village, I immediately  thought of Castle Combe - the prettiest village in England. Allegedly. (Other villages are also extremely pretty!)

I'd had lunch at the Manor House Hotel with the Bath and Wiltshire Romantic Novelists' Association chapter when Jill Mansell gave a talk there.

She'd used the hotel in her book, Daisy's Place and I knew it would work very well for Hasebury Hall, the childhood home of Hope Kennard, Sophie's heroine (The Prince's Bride).


Sophie, Jessica, Anne and I had a day out walking the ground of "our" village on a gloriously sunny spring day and had a wonderful lunch there, purely in the necessity of research, you understand. Research is not all about surfing the 'net and dusty libraries!


Jessica, who'd been the first out of the traps with a draft ms, had named the church  where the wedding was to take place St Philip and All Angels and when we went into the beautiful church in Castle Combe, one of the first things we saw was this array of angels on either side of the aisle. 

One of those spine-tingly magic moments for a writer.

We found a suitably ancient monument where our bride's ancestor would have been laid to rest and imagined a stained glass window bearing his coat of arms,

There was some discussion about the differences between a US wedding and one taking place in the UK - the bridesmaids follow the bride in the UK. The fact that the bride and groom (and their witnesses) disappear into the vestry after the service to sign the register. Details that may not be used but are important to know.

We walked around the churchyard, working out the where the television people would put their cherry picker - my heroine's concern - and, because that's what you can do when you've created your own location, we turned it around so that the heroine, walking from her family home, would not have to walk all around the graveyard. 

There were other important locations. This is the market cross, Ally's home, and the Three Bells where Ally was working when Fredrik arrived unexpectedly.  



Actually the pub isn't in Castle Combe but in the equally pretty village of  Lacock and is the pub where our local Romantic Novelists' Chapter meet for supper once in a while.






And the last picture refers to something that our village and Castle Combe have in common. They are both used as locations for films and tv dramas. 

Castle Combe was recently used in the film War Horse.






Friday, September 29, 2017

An Invitation to a Royal Wedding




Here it is! My first book from Tule is part of the Royal Wedding Invitation series, a quartet (although each book stands alone) set in the Cotswold village of Combe St Philip and San Michele, a small country with an Adriatic coastline and mountainous interior.

It all started just about a year ago when I was asked if I'd like to be part of a small series set in the Cotswolds with a wedding at it's heart.

The timing was perfect for me. I've known Sophie Weston, Jessica Hart and Anne McAllister for many years and I couldn't think of three authors I'd rather be working with.

It's enormous fun working with other writers. You get to bounce ideas off each other, go a little wild, stretch your imagination in new ways. I also learned - from Jessica Hart - the joy of using a timeline. (So organised - not at all like the way I tend to go off into the mist!) Sophie supplied an entire history for the royal family and found us our imaginery principality and Anne did her inimitable thing and tossed in an American rock star as the best man.

We settled on our village in the Cotswolds - modelling it on Castle Combe - the prettiest village in England. Anne was coming to the UK in the spring and we decided that once we had broken the back of the writing, we would all spend the day there, getting the feel of the place. The books would be delivered by May and published in the summer.

Oh dear.

The best laid plans...

Jessica, who with her Pamela Hartshorne hat on had a mainstream women's fiction novel to write, flew out of the traps and produced her first draft in record time. After that things went downhill fast.

First Anne broke her wrist and, rather later, discovered that she had also broken her finger. Then I broke my arm. That was two of us down to one-handed typing and when all the focus you need to create your world is spent struggling to type (or use dictation software that hates you) there's not much left over to get the words down.

Tule were understanding. The delivery dates were put back six weeks.

Jenny was next to be struck down - this time with a series of horrible of viruses. Other dramas followed, but eventually, the books were all delivered into the hands of the waiting editor.

Fabulous covers were produced and we did have our day out in Castle Combe. We walked the ground on which events took place and had lunch at the Manor House Hotel - which we had recast as Hasebury Hall - under a cloudless blue sky. And we had a fabulous lunch.

That wasn't the end, of course.

We might have hundreds of books between us but there were revisions. It's part of the process, a chance to tighten up the prose, put right the names of minor characters that had been changed (and which I'd forgotten). I'd missed the "s" of the end of the Crown Prince's name, my hero's name was changed from Jensson to Jansson in one of the books. Some scenes were cut, a few new ones were written, all perfectly normal - especially when four authors were writing crossover scenes from different points of view.

Here is the blurb for the series -

A baronet’s daughter is marrying into European royalty and the wedding is set to take place in her pretty Cotswold village, where she grew up. Each hero/heroine is providing a wedding service– catering, PR, security, best man. They aim to make the royal wedding an unforgettable one. Love finds each of them along the way.

And here's a taste from The Bridesmaid's Royal Bodyguard -


“ALLY!”
Ally Parker glanced at the clock and sighed. Jennifer Harmon, the landlady of the Three Bells and her temporary boss, never failed to find a last-minute job that would take her over her basic hours. Extra minutes for which she would not be paid.
Mostly, because she needed a jobeven one that involved scrubbing the floors of a busy gastro-pub—she gritted her teeth and got on with it, but not today.
She had to get away promptly for the first test in the once-in-a-lifetime PR gig handed her by her BFF, Hope Kennard. Not that she could tell Jennifer the reason she had to leave on time.
Much as she’d enjoy wiping the superior look off Jennifer’s face by explaining that she was meeting Count Fredrik Jensson, Head of Security for the San Michele royal family, this morning at Hasebury Hall, Hope’s marriage to His Serene Highness Prince Jonas Reval was very much on a need-to-know basis. Family, bridesmaids…
“Ally!” The second summons was sung out so sweetly that she knew Pete must have joined his wife in the bar to set up for the lunchtime rush. That would make things easier, at least for today. Jennifer would dissect any excuse she offered with her scalpel of a tongue but Pete would wave her out of the door. It would give his wife even more reason to give her a hard time when he wasn’t around but right now she’d take it.
She gave the range of stainless steel sinks one last wipe down but kept on her pink rubber gloves when she walked into the bar so that she couldn’t be accused of not working every second she was being paid for.
“Oh, there you are, Ally. I was beginning to think you’d slipped away early.”
Jennifer looked her up and down, clearly enjoying the fact that, having lost her “glamorous” job in London, her working wardrobe now consisted of a wrap-around pinny that had belonged to her grandmother and the scarf she wrapped around her hair to protect it from the scent of cooking and ale that lingered in the air.
“No, still here—” she looked up as the bar clock clicked onto the hour, setting her free “—although I do have to leave promptly today,” she reminded her, pulling off one of the gloves to emphasize the point.
“Of course, my dear. I wouldn’t dream of keeping you a minute over your hours.” Her smile might have convinced anyone who didn’t have the misfortune to work for her. “The only reason I called is because you have a visitor.”
A visitor?
She turned as Jennifer gestured in the direction of a tall figure standing with his back to her in front of the fire.
Who…?
He turned as if she’d spoken the word out loud and any number of words skittered through her brain  mostly of the what-the-hell variety  but her over-riding thought was that Count Fredrik Jensson looked a lot more dangerous in person than he had in the photographs she’d found online.
His thick, light brown hair, cut almost brutally short, looked as if it had been touched by the hard frost riming the hedges as she set out for work at dawn. His eyes were a matching icy grey and he had the hard-boned good looks that turned strong women to jelly.
Jennifer, gossip antennae twitching like the whiskers of a mouse scenting cheese, was simpering in expectation of an introduction.
The man might be dangerously sexy but he was also dangerously stupid. Fortunately, her three years working for a gossip magazine had given her plenty of practice in diversionary tactics.
Before he could speak she flung her arms wide and exclaimed, “Fredrik!” hoping he’d have the sense to follow her lead. “How wonderful! I wasn’t expecting to see you until later.”
The last, at least, was true. Plan A had been to present herself at Hasebury Hall on the dot of ten o’clock, city-smart and thoroughly professional in her “serious” suit and the Manolos she’d bought with a bonus when she’d been flavour of the month at Celebrity magazine.
She hadn’t anticipated the need for a Plan B but no one could accuse her of being slow on her feet.
Jennifer, agog at the arrival of a drop-dead gorgeous male, needed distracting. If she thought they had history, she wouldn’t be wondering what he was doing in Combe St Philip; her imagination would already be filling in the blanks.
Peeling off her other glove and stuffing them both in her apron pocket, Ally placed her hands on the sleeves of his coat and, leaning forward to brush her lips against his cold cheek, murmured, “Just play along.”
For a heartbeat nothing happened, but Count Fredrik Jensson was not slow on his feet, either. While she was distracted by the enticing scent of cold skin, tingly fresh air, leaves mouldering beneath the bare canopy of winter woods, his hands encircled her waist and before she could blink he was crushing her against the soft cashmere of his coat and the hard body it concealed.
“Alice…”
Never had her name sounded so desirable and, held by his penetrating grey stare, she only realized his intention a split second before he lowered his mouth to hers.
Her tiny mew of protest was obliterated by the touch of cold lips that sent a shiver to her toes. Her brain, seeking an appropriate response to the shocking experience of being kissed senseless by a man she’d only moments before set eyes on, floundered as the ice of his mouth combined with the heat of hers in an explosion of pleasure.
Her last coherent thought as she closed her eyes and kissed him back was more

The books are being released on the 13th, 15th, 18th and 20th October but are up for pre-order now. Go get them!

Tule
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon Australia
iTunes
Nook
Googleplay
Kobo

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Back to school...

and it's time for some me-time with four lovely new books from Harlequin Romance this September. (That's Cherish in the UK and Forever Romance in Australia) including Andrea Bolter's fabulous debut, Her New York Billionaire.


Harlequin Books

Monday, August 28, 2017

Special Launch Price



Trouble in Paradise is a revamped Liz Fielding classic that was originally published by Harlequin Mills and Boon - for marketing reasons that had nothing to do with the story - under the title All She Wants for Christmas.

It has now been given a facelift and it's original title, so grab it now at the special launch price of 99c (US), 99p (UK).  Actually if you use the Smashwords link (they cater for all ebook platforms) you'll onl pay 99c wherever you are!

* * *

Hugo Griffin thinks Maddy Osborne is a spoiled little rich girl. She thinks he's a gigolo who is after her vulnerable godmother's fortune.

Stranded alone together on Paradise Island, forced to work together to survive, they have all the time in the world to discover that first impressions can be misleading...


Here are the links -

Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon Australia
iBooks
Smashwords
Nook
Kobo


And here's my inspirational Pinterest board

* * *

Coming Soon


Here's a sneak peak of the cover of my first book from Tule - The Bridesmaid's Royal Bodyguard - I'll let you know when it's available for pre-order.

Friday, July 07, 2017

The magic begins...



I'm guesting over at Tote Bags & Blogs today, talking about my new project with best writing mate Kate Hardy.

Do pop by if you have a moment to eye up the latest hero!

Sunday, July 02, 2017

It's #freebie and #bargain week!

It's time to load up your eReader, phone, iPad with freebie and bargain books for the holidays!

Dangerous Flirtation is free on Amazon until Tuesday and Smashwords are having their summer sale this week. Some of my books are free, some have a great big discount. Click on the books and you'll see how much on the right hand side, along with a code to use at the checkout, including my Little Book of Writing Romance for just $1.25

And in case you've missed it, there's a box set of my three long Beaumont Brides romances for just $2.50.