Monday, 25 March 2013

SALE of Crooked Cat books!

My Crooked Cat books are available from Amazon at only 77p / 99c for the next four days in the Crooked Cat Easter Sale! (25th - 28th March)

77p   Amazon UK 

99c     Amazon US

A peculiar invitation to Heidelberg embroils Keira Drummond in the search for a mysterious collection of extraordinary jewels once owned by a Mughal Emperor; a hoard that was last known to be in the possession of Amsterdam resident, Geertje Hoogeveen, in 1910.
Who among the progeny of Geertje – hitherto unfamiliar third cousins brought together for the quest – can Keira rely on? Distrust and suspicion among them is rife.
Which one is greedy, and determined enough, to hire thugs to tail her… and worse… as she travels to Vienna and Minnesota?  Can Keira even trust Teun Zeger - a Californian she is becoming very drawn to – as they pair up to unearth the jewellery?
As they follow a trail of clues, will they uncover the full collection before the hired gun kills them? Details remain furtive and undisclosed until danger and death forces their exposure. And who harbours the ultimate mystery item that is even more precious than the Mughal jewels?
Greed, suspicion and murder are balanced by growing family loyalty, trust, and love.

77p    Amazon UK 
99c    Amazon US  

Can the Celtic Tribes repel the Roman army? AD 71

Banished from the nemeton, becoming a priestess is no longer the future for Nara, a princess of the Selgovae tribe. Now charged with choosing a suitable mate before Beltane, her plan is thwarted by Lorcan, an enemy Brigante prince, who captures her and takes her to his hill fort. Despite their tribes fighting each other, Nara feels drawn to her captor, but time runs out for her secret quest.
As armies of the Roman Empire march relentlessly northwards, Lorcan intends to use Nara as a marriage bargain, knowing all Celtic tribes must unite to be strong enough to repel imminent Roman attack. Nara’s father, Callan, agrees to a marriage alliance between Selgovae and Brigante, but has impossible stipulations. Lorcan is torn between loyalty to his tribe and growing love for Nara.  
When danger and death arrive in the form of the mighty Roman forces, will Nara be able to choose her Beltane lover?
To check out the other books available see them on the Crooked Cat Bookstore

And He Cooks Too

Monday Moments features my Wild Rose Press author friend- Barbara Barrett. Her latest novel 'And He Cooks Too' has come to visit, having launched only days ago!

Let's find out what it's about...

Three men, three lies. One thought it was for her own good, one did it for his own good, and the third nearly destroyed her career. Blacklisted by the city's finest restaurants, Chef Reese Dunbar must now put the resuscitation of her battered reputation in the hands of yet another man. The television experience Nick Coltrane's cooking show offers is her best option for restoring her name and becoming the Big Apple's super chef. But after giving her body and heart to him, her trust is put to the test when she discovers that Nick has lied about the real reason he brought her on board, and worse yet, Nick can't cook.

"I checked you out before I accepted this job."
"You knew?" he asked, his voice catching.
She gave him a Mona Lisa type smile. "I do my research, Nick."
The spicy beef dish he'd just consumed seemed to congeal in his stomach. Had she checked out his cooking credentials also?
"I can see you on the stage." She laughed. "Maybe more than behind the stove."
Lady, you don't know how right you are. "Ah, well, cooking's my new love."
"Where did you do your training? The Internet didn't mention that."
Great. She had him. The only way he could think of to deflect this conversation was to play dumb. "Huh?"
She leaned in, revealing more decolletage. "Cooking school. Which one did you attend?"
He struggled to come up with a response, but his mind was elsewhere. Mesmerized, he watched as she played a finger around the rim of her margarita glass, picking up stray salt particles. How was a guy supposed to think up a plausible story to explain his origins when his brain was otherwise engaged?
She touched her fingertip to her lips. Nick couldn't speak. His eyes locked on her lips as other parts of his anatomy were unlocked. Was she coming on to him?

About the author:

Barbara Barrett spent her professional career as a human resources analyst for Iowa state government, and that training has stayed with her in her writing of contemporary romance fiction. The theme of her writing, “Romance at Work,” reflects her fascination with the jobs people do and infiltrates her plots almost to the point of becoming a secondary character. 
A member of Romance Writers of America and several of its affiliate chapters, she was first “published” in sixth grade when a fictional account of a trip to France appeared in her hometown newspaper, the Burlington Hawk-Eye. Years later, she was fortunate enough to visit the subject of her essay, although in it she never envisioned that she would trip on a curb near the Arc d’Triomphe and have to limp her way through the Louvre.

Now retired, Barbara spends her winters basking in the Florida sunshine and returns to her home state of Iowa in the summer to “stay cool.” She is married to the man she met in dormitory advisor training her senior year of college. They have two grown children and six grandchildren. When she’s not writing, she’s busy lunching with friends or playing Mah Jongg.
 Her first book, The Sleepover Clause, was released by Crimson Romance in September of 2012. Her second book, And He Cooks Too, was released by The Wild Rose Press on March 22.
 She loves talking about writing romance and welcomes invitations from book clubs to join them via phone calls or the Internet.  Check out her contact information to request she visit your book club.

Contact Information for Barbara Barrett:
Twitter: bbarrettbooks

Thank you for featuring on Monday Moments, Barbara. Best wishes with your new novel.


Sunday, 3 March 2013

Monday Moments - I Know You Know

Monday Moments on my main blog features Helen Howell, a fellow Crooked Cat author. Helen has some great answers to my interview questions over there but she has kindly shared her blurb and an exciting little exerpt here. 


The darkest cards in the tarot deck reveal the darkest side of the man sitting opposite Janice—Mr. Edgar Kipp.

She feigns an inability to read for him, but will he believe her?  His parting words indicate that he knows she knows he's a serial killer. And he plans to return. 

The voice of her dead grandmother urges her to be careful, warning Janice she might be seeing her own future in those foreboding cards. 

But Janice doesn't want to listen. Gran's dead. 

How can she possibly help her?

Excerpt from Chapter 1 - The Reading:

Present day

“Well, tell me my fortune then. What do you see?” he asked in a sharp nasally voice.

Janice stared at the man sat opposite her. He had pinched features and thinning greasy hair parted just above his ear and swept over the top of his head. Nothing about him was unusual. He would easily fade into a crowd, yet there was something about him that made her flesh creep. 

One of her clients had recommended him and, although that strange voice of his had echoed down the phone, he had seemed reasonable. Well, as reasonable as one could tell from a telephone conversation. She had told him the fee and he had agreed, so she gave him a time and a date and wrote it in her diary. Now facing him, she wished she hadn’t let him into her house.

She glanced down at the pack of cards in her hand and began to shuffle them. Her reluctance to read for him was growing with every moment that passed.

Be careful what you say. He’s dangerous, warned the voice. You’ll see, the cards will show you. We’ll read them together, but say nothing.

“What are you waiting for? You’re a fortune-teller, aren’t you?” He pressed his thin lips together.
Janice continued to shuffle the cards. Who are you? What are you? She asked silently as she flipped over the first card. The Devil.

He’s evil, whispered the voice. He’s unbalanced, obsessed.

Janice looked at the card on the table. Obsessed, but with what? Almost afraid, she turned over the next card and stared. Death stared back at her. 

Amazon Author Page: 

Helen’s Author Page at Crooked Cat can be found here:


Helen has also published:

Jumping At Shaddows is available from Smashwords

Praise for Jumping at Shadows
‘Howell’s ability to tell a good story is abundantly evident in Jumping at Shadows.’
‘Jumping at Shadows is a truly delightful read.’
‘Howell’s work is a lot like J. K. Rowling’s.’
‘Jumping at Shadows is definitely a page turner.’
‘Jumping at Shadows took me on an unexpected adventure. It made me feel as if I were on a magical journey with the two girls. A very good read!’
‘The character development in this was so good.’

Friday, 1 March 2013

5* review for THE BELTANE CHOICE newly posted on Goodreads

Newly posted 5* review to Goodreads (27th Feb) by Lisl for THE BELTANE CHOICE. My thanks to Lisl for taking the time to post such an excellent opinion of my historical novel.

In ancient Britain bitter weather, harsh conditions and tribal inter-fighting conspired with other elements to make life difficult and cumbersome. Beltane, therefore, was a welcome diversion, certainly for many reasons, amongst them the community-wide celebration of oncoming summer and the freedoms it ushered in. Occurring in May, modern peoples could relate to the anticipation and joy of the season, replete with symbols of new life, light and plenty. Lovers united, the sun waxed its power and people prepared animals and household goods for the time when winter would once more secure its chilly embrace. It is in expectation of this time in A.D. 71 that Nancy Jardine sets her account of Nara of the Selgovae, whose first words in the book are uttered to a wild boar: “You have my spear and my sword, but you will not have my life.” Nara’s declamation immediately tells of her strength as well as humor, despite being wracked with frustration at her predicament—namely being stuck in a tree, shortly to be felled by a boar she had the misfortune to encounter.

As The Beltane Choice opens Nara playfully foresees reality when a handsome stranger rescues her, resulting in immediate mutual attraction, despite her own inexperience with the opposite sex. Nara, however, is reticent about divulging her own information apart from her general identity, and the would-be lovers discover they come from enemy tribes. Believing he may have a worthy bargaining tool in Nara, Lorcan of Garrigill takes the girl as his prisoner; over the course of several days the two head for the Garrigill stronghold, where he plans to develop his strategy for repelling the approaching Roman army. During this time the pair slowly begin to learn about one another and both are beset by conflicting and confusing sentiments. It is a journey rife with displays of anger and emotional outbursts on the parts of Lorcan as well as Nara.

Here Jardine expertly establishes in her narrative the method of cross perspectives, a potentially tricky technique given the confusion that so often results in the attempt to streamline characters’ perceptions into dialogue and passages. No such difficulty here, partly because of the protagonists’ opposing viewpoints, but also owing to the smooth flow of their dialogue. The author masterfully handles the speech with language that feels genuine without being foreign. Months are measured in moons, age in winters. She also maintains a masterful balance between a reader- and writer-friendly storyline, utilizing such words as bannock and bratt, terms that may be unfamiliar but which populate sentences that draw us into the world they inhabit. Within this journey the reader so often instinctively comprehends, frequently without the registration that this was ever lacking in the first place.

As inhabitants of this world, that is the 21st century, it would be difficult not to be aware of the divide between representations of men and women in an earlier era, and those of our own time. Men who treat women with respect often are believed to have only recently popped into existence; before their arrival, males of the world were cruel or indifferent, without exception imposing their will onto the females of their societies.

Unfortunately, in many or even most instances, this was indeed true. However, history does tell of not a few women who broke from their received roles and the men who valued their subsequent contributions. While these men and women may be statistical anomalies, historically speaking, they are not unusual. Therefore, to happen upon men in The Beltane Choice who show consideration towards women strengthens the story, especially given Jardine’s treatment of them. They are in fact products of their time, but the author is clever enough to recognize that an insightful man intuits value where he sees it. None of the characters pretend to pander to our sensibilities: Lorcan’s father is an irascible old man, short and stinging with his words, but an able leader who is dismayed and disgusted when he learns of another chief’s horrific treatment of his own daughter. Tully is wise enough to know the worth of a gifted woman, even if her own father did not.

But Jardine also keeps it authentic: as in real life, it takes all kinds, and readers come across able and productive men, as well as those who simply take from life without thought to the consequences, for themselves or others. In Garrigill Nara the Selgovae is attacked by two who resent her presence—perhaps also her beauty—and are later punished for the deed. While an important episode that highlights the suspicion of and willingness to harm anything foreign, the episode and its aftermath remain undeveloped, which is unfortunate owing to the import of recognizing such episodes that mar or weaken unity against common enemies. Nara’s beauty, recognized by all, exists on multiple levels, and despite her sometimes-poor choices with regard to action or response, she is shown to be keen and level headed, thoughtful and deliberate.

Such is her way in how she considers the upcoming Beltane festival and the choice she will have to make regarding a lover. Will she have a choice? What of the Roman army marching on the settlement where she is held captive? And her native estate? How does all this impact the array of emotions she feels in response to Lorcan, her captor? He is absolutely smitten with her, though he, too, experiences conflict within and without. He is dedicated to his father and the safety of their tribe, but wants to have Nara as well. He realizes his plan has gone awry and he, too, considers the future with apprehension.

Nancy Jardine has woven a tale as complex as the Celtic knot that graces the book’s cover. Winding and illusory, readers may see one circumstance, but events intercede to disabuse us of any notion that this is a simple story. The endless and unified nature of the cover illustration reflects the events occurring in the lives of those in The Beltane Choice, individually and as humans who experience these occasions across time. And, like the winding knot that appears as sheer simplicity but is much more beneath, the smooth passage from Nara’s entrapment by the boar to her ultimate choice, the author utilizes language in a way both straightforward and elegant.

I would be remiss to omit any sort of detail about the sexual tension that runs through the entire book and moments in which Nara and Lorcan’s indecisive attractions teeter on a precipice. The suggestive nature of the wording is very much like the Celtic knot as discussed above: on one level very evocative and at times openly sensual. But to leave it at that would be less than honest, because it is also lovely and metered, occasionally blatant, as reflected in the pair’s actual experiences. More suitable to the abilities of a mature reader—one who can rise above mere titillation—it is the poetry of two bodies, articulated perhaps as those of the era, with their sexual sensibilities, may have expressed it. It is also crucial to note that Nara and Lorcan both see it as much more than a mere physical act—though they are honest with themselves (and us) and do not deny this aspect—incorporating into their possible union the future at the heart of the Beltane choice—and The Beltane Choice.