Driving in the Outback

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Janet Gover has recently celebrated the paperback release of her novel, Little Girl Lost, which returns us to our favourite Australian town of Coorah Creek! In today’s post, Janet takes us up and down some of the outback roads which were inspiration for the book. Watch out for kangaroos! 

When I first came to live in England, one of the things that amazed me was all the conversation about roads – or more precisely routes.

I’d listen to people saying – ‘The M3 was jammed so I exited at the A30 and came via the B389…..’

This doesn’t happen in the outback of Australia.

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You don’t have a lot of options on outback roads.

We don’t give all our roads number in the same way. But more importantly, a lot of the time there is only one road that leads from A to B.  In the towns, of course, there are options, but where I learned to drive there was only ever one road that went where I wanted to go, and it was flat and pretty much straight, owning to a lack of rivers and hills. And as often as not, it was a dirt road as well.

This is the sort of road I learned to drive on. Although not when it rained. It’s too easy to get bogged on the black soil tracks.

This is the sort of road I learned to drive on. Although not when it rained. It’s too easy to get bogged on the black soil tracks.

When I first saw an OS map, I was really surprised at the scale and detail. The owner of that map was equally shocked to learn that in Australia, we don’t have anything similar. The country is too big, and vast areas of it have no roads, no buildings … not even a creek. The only tracks are those left by cattle or sheep or camels. An OS map would have very little to show.

Driving a long straight outback road is so very different to driving on an English motorway. For a start, you can go for an hour or more without even seeing another car. The English motorways have lights. The only lights in the outback are the car’s headlights. It gets very dark out there.

There are warning signs like this in a lot of places, but the kangaroos don’t read the signs. You can find them anywhere.

There are warning signs like this in a lot of places, but the kangaroos don’t read the signs. You can find them anywhere.

There is always the risk of an animal – most often a kangaroo, on the road. And if a kangaroo seems to jump out on front of you in a vaguely suicidal fashion – that’s just what they do. You have to stay alert. And never forget that where there is one kangaroo, there’s bound to be more, and just because one has safely crossed the road ahead of you, you still need to be ready to slam the brakes on.

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It’s easy to see where someone had taken some pretty fast evasive action.

I was recently driving near Canberra with an English friend – who was very excited to see kangaroos on the side of the road. He didn’t seem to understand that they made me, as the driver, wary.

In Little Girl Lost, we spend a bit of time on outback roads – with Tia on her motorcycle, with Pete in his truck. And of course, Sergeant Max patrols the road.

This is the Harley Davidson motorcycle I gave to Tia. I found it in a car park in the Middle East – but it looked just right.

This is the Harley Davidson motorcycle I gave to Tia. I found it in a car park in the Middle East – but it looked just right.

There is a certain magic to driving an outback road late at night. The sky is just amazing – the stars seem very close. The night air smells like nothing I have found anywhere else in the world.

Sometimes it can seem as if you are the only person left in the world.

Now there’s a story idea in the making!

A truckie heading west into the outback.

A truckie heading west into the outback.

 

Little Girl Lost is now available to purchase as an eBook and paperback. Click HERE for buying options.

For more information on Janet Gover, follow her on Twitter: @janet_gover
Visit her website: www.janetgover.com

Tennis at Christmas?

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Tennis and Christmas? Not a natural match, perhaps – but Kathryn Freeman makes it work in her new novel, A Second Christmas Wish! And she has written about how she did it … 

My first Christmas book, A Second Christmas Wish, was out at the beginning of November. I confess I haven’t been this excited about Christmas since Father Christmas came down the chimney and left presents on the end of my bed.

Those were the days. Days I dragged out of my memory when I began to plot out this story. Not to recreate them, but to remember some of the magic of Christmas that crowded shops, Christmas card writing and remembering to book my online grocery slot two months before I need it, has dimmed.

In fact before I began to write A Second Christmas Wish I made a list of all the things I liked most about Christmas; the nativity play, mince pies, snow balls, Christmas trees. Festive traditions a reader would easily associate with Christmas and which I gleefully weaved into the story. I also ended up including a few themes not traditionally associated with Christmas though. Like tennis.

Umm, so why on earth did I write about tennis in a Christmas book? The answer lies in my heroine, Melissa and her son, William. They are still recovering from her ill-fated marriage to a man who turned out to be a manipulative husband and cold father. It’s left them both wary of men and disillusioned with Christmas.

I needed them to meet a man who would help put some sparkle back into their Christmas. But how to meet him? William lacks confidence so I thought giving him some lessons in a sport would help improve this. Also because I’m a sucker for a sports star. Over the years I’ve had many sporting idols, like Jonny Wilkinson, Seve Ballesteros, Michael Owen. And don’t get me started on Jenson Button … he’s why I ended up writing a romance about a sexy racing driver.

Sorry, talk of Jenson has derailed me. Sexy men have a habit of doing that. I was deciding on a sport for my young hero, William. I considered football, but for a sensitive boy that didn’t seem quite right. I could have gone with a snowy theme and picked skiing but again, pushing a shy boy down a slope didn’t fit well with me, though of course I’m sure skiing coaches aren’t that mean.

The more I thought about it, the more tennis seemed a perfect fit. It isn’t a contact sport but you can learn in a group. Plus it’s a sport I know something about because I play it myself and my sons both had coaching from the age William is in the story. That’s the only reason they can beat me now of course …

So that’s how the hero of A Second Christmas Wish became ex-tennis professional Daniel McCormick. A man who’s recently opened a tennis academy, teaching youngsters the joy of the sport he loves but had to give up through injury. He’s over six feet of rippling athleticism. Imagine a combination of Pat Cash and Rafael Nadal. I know I did, when I was writing him. He certainly added a sparkle to my days but the question is, did he do the same for Melissa?

… And you can find out whether he did in A Second Christmas Wish which is now available to buy on all eBook platforms! 

Kindle UK  Kindle US  Kindle AUS  Kindle CA

For more information on Kathryn, follow her on Twitter @KathrynFreeman

Or visit her website: www.kathrynfreeman.co.uk

The Perfect Christmas Kiss

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Today sees the release of Alison May’s Christmas Kisses; a collection of gorgeous festive stories about three girls searching for ‘the perfect Christmas kiss’. But does that ‘perfect’ kiss even exist? Alison asks that exact question in today’s blog post … 

The idea of writing a post about ‘The Perfect Christmas Kiss’ seemed such a good idea as an abstract concept when I agreed to it a week before I had to actually sit down and write anything. It’s such a beautiful romantic idea – surely everyone has an idea of their perfect mistletoe-moment?

You might have a fantasy of meeting your flawless long-distance lover at the top of the Empire State Building as the bells chime to ring in Christmas Day. Or you might prefer a more traditional English Christmas scene – maybe with snow falling over a village green outside a beautiful old stone church, everyone wrapped up in hats and scarves and the love of your life with a sprig of mistletoe and a certain twinkle in his or her eye? Or perhaps you’re not a lover of Christmas and would prefer to be whisked away to a sunkissed beach to forget the festive season altogether and indulge in a little holiday romance whilst you’re there?

But here’s the problem – all of those ideas sound lovely in practice but they’re fantasy, aren’t they? And there’s nothing wrong with a bit of fantasy, but trying to translate fantasy into real-life is a surefire recipe for anti-climax and disappointment. That sunkissed beach sounds lovely, but actually having a frolic on it is just going to lead to sand in your pants and a sunburn in places that the sun really isn’t supposed to shine. The meeting at the top of the Empire State Building is such a romantic idea, but once you actually get there you’ll be sharing the viewing platform with every other lovelorn hopeful in New York city, and there’s nothing worse than having to form a queue every time a eligible-looking singleton appears on the off-chance that they might be the one for you. Even the snow-covered English village sounds frankly off-puttingly chilly, and realistically, you’re going to have a streaming nose and chattering teeth if you stay out trying to canoodle for too long.

So here’s my suggestion for the perfect Christmas Kiss – don’t plan it. Perfect moments are something that happens, not something that can be prepared. You know how nights out where you swear that you’re just going to have one drink and then end up crawling home at 3am are always more fun than big nights that take weeks to plan? Well I think perfect Christmas kisses might fall into the same category. Whatever you think perfection is going to look like, that’s almost certainly not how it would actually turn out. Perfection, where is exists at all, exists in the surprising and the unexpected, in the spontaneous and the organic, rather in those things that have been meticulously planned and preconceived. That’s something that each of the heroines in Christmas Kisses has to learn in their own different way. Perfect is never really what you think it’s going to be. Sometimes you have to open your mind and enjoy the moment that you’re in right now, whether it looks like you expected or not.

Christmas Kisses is now available to purchase in paperback from all good book stockists and retailers. Click HERE to order from Amazon. 

For more information on Alison, follow her on Twitter @MsAlisonMay.

A Hallowe’en Faerie Tale: Final Part by Jane Lovering

Halloween Round Robin DAY FIVE

 

Happy Halloween everyone! We know you’ll no doubt be busy preparing for trick-or-treaters and pumpkin carving but make sure you take some time out with your morning coffee to read the last part of our Halloween Round Robin and find out what happens to Kalen and Faye. A Jane Lovering finale is not to be missed :) There’s one more competition to enter too!

Please note: To enjoy this story, you should read each part in order.

Click HERE to read Part One by Berni Stevens

Click HERE to read Part Two by Rhoda Baxter

Click HERE to read Part Three by Christina Courtenay

Click HERE to read Part Four by Kirsty Ferry 

A Hallowe’en Faerie Tale: Final Part by Jane Lovering

We danced for what felt like days, but every time I glanced up the moon was still in the same position, as though it had been nailed to the black silk of the sky.

‘The queen wishes to meet our human guest,’ Kalen said, after we’d performed a particularly difficult waltz that had left me out of breath whilst all the other dancers seemed unaffected, almost cat-like in their grace and elegance, and also their air of slightly self-satisfied arrogance. ‘She is intrigued by your presence.’

He took my hand and led me to a dais, surrounded by gauzy curtains which fluttered in an unfelt breeze. Upon the platform sat a woman so beautiful that I immediately felt pathetically unworthy and slightly fat in my laced-up bodice and swirly skirt. Everything about her was perfect. Her hair was glossy black, parted in the middle and rippled with just enough curl to make it not hang like a 1960’s folk singer. Her face could have advertised anything from perfume to expensive cars and she wore a dress that managed to leave everything to the imagination whilst assuming that you didn’t have a very good one. She looked like Faerie Barbie.

‘So.’ And even her voice was perfect, light and amused, accentless. ‘This is the human woman that you rescued from the Dark Court’s attention.’  She rested her chin in her cupped hand and looked at me as though she was going to buy me. ‘Hmmm.’ She made a ‘twirling’ motion in the air with her other hand and Kalen obediently swung me around.  ’I suppose she will do.’ Then her attention focused in on me. ‘Has Kalen provided you with refreshment yet, my dear? Do have a cup of sherbet.’

I wanted to point out that, what with it being Halloween, I’d already had enough sherbet to knock out a ten-year-old, but Kalen was already passing me an ornate silver goblet filled with liquid. It foamed and smelled of all the delicious things I’d ever eaten or drunk. I realised that, with all the dancing and partying and not knowing how much time had elapsed, I was actually really thirsty, and raised the cup to my lips.

A large tartan shopping bag appeared out of nowhere and smacked the goblet from my hand, spilling frothing liquid across the impeccable grass in front of me.

‘Don’t you know that you never eat or drink in Faerie?’ a crotchety voice asked. ‘Honestly, what do they teach them in schools these days?  Well, geography, I suppose. And French. But obviously not how to behave when you’ve been stolen away by the Folk… tch.’

Mrs Alden, wearing what looked suspiciously like a winceyette nightie and ankle-high slippers in purple tartan stood in the middle of the faerie ball, as incongruous as a naked man in Harrods. She’d lowered her wheeled shopping bag, but was still holding it slightly threateningly by its long handle.

The queen looked furious.  She actually hissed at Mrs Arden.

‘Now, now, my lady. You’ll not use this poor child in one of your battles against the Unseelie.’ Mrs Arden gave me A Look. ‘Just because she’s a bit simple and has her head easily turned by a man in tight britches does not give you the right to keep her in Faerie.’  A hand fastened around my wrist. ‘And you, come with me.’

She pulled me away from the floating candles and the music and the laughter.  Away from the magic that had made me feel so special, and back through the wooden door. Instantly we were outside the flats again and I could smell the rubbish bins and the damp compost from my pots. My clothes were back to being jeans and trainers, and I felt a brief pang for the loss of the cobweb dress and silver slippers. Mrs Arden continued to bundle me until we were back inside the building, and then inside her flat, whereupon she pushed me down into an armchair, made a quick phone call that I couldn’t hear, and turned to me.

‘I suppose you told them your name.’  She was shaking her head. ‘Really, child.  You let yourself be elf-struck, and on this night of all nights … well. You were just lucky I was there.’  She reached into the tartan shopper and pulled out another horse-shoe, this one was still bright and had a few nails protruding. Mrs Arden sighed. ‘And at my age I shouldn’t be wrestling with horses, it’s no joke trying to pull these things off, you know, when you’ve got half a tonne of Welsh Cob trying to nibble your nightie.’

I was still stunned.  I just sat, trying to get my head around what had just happened.  The memory of the faerie ball was fading, wisping into dream.

‘I knew what was happening the second you burst in and stole my horseshoe. If you eat or drink in Faerie, they have you, you know.’  Mrs Arden’s voice softened now. ‘They can keep you for two hundred years and do what they want with you. And what they want is rarely pleasant.’ Her voice dropped away, as though she knew. ‘And then they just drop you back where they found you.  All your family dead and gone, never knowing what happened to you.’

There was a knock at the door and she went off to open it to a tall young man with familiar piercing blue eyes, who I was absolutely NOT going to refer to as Kalen No. 3. ‘This is my great great grandson,’ she said.

The young man smiled at me, with absolutely no sense of recognition, but a warm friendliness. ‘Hello,’ he said. ‘I’m Mark.’

I opened and closed my mouth a couple of times.  ’And I’m …’ I hesitated.

Mrs Arden twinkled at me. ‘It’s all right,’ she said. ‘Halloween is just about over, and this one is definitely mortal. He’s the spitting image of his great great grandad, though …’ she added softly.

‘I’m Faye,’ I said.  ’From next door.’

Mark nodded. ‘I’ve seen you coming and going, when I’ve been visiting Great Gran. I’m renovating the old hall down the road there, going to turn it into a house … I was going to knock and ask you to come over for a coffee, but …’ he spread his hands, ‘it just never seemed the right time.’

Mrs Arden nodded to herself, as though quietly satisfied. Then she stared at the space above the door where I’d wrenched holes in her architrave. ‘Now, I’ll leave you two alone together to get to know one another … and to get that bloody horseshoe back up where it belongs!’

We were beginning to have our suspicions about ‘Kalen Number 1′, but we’re so glad Mrs Arden stepped in to save the day – and that Faye finally met the ‘right’ Kalen (or Mark!) What a fabulous way to end our Round Robin and to begin the Halloween celebrations! 

Thank you to all of our talented authors for putting the story together. We don’t know how you manage it! And thank you also to everyone who has read the story and commented. We hope you’ve enjoyed it and that you all have a wonderful Halloween. 

COMPETITION TIME!

If you enjoyed Jane’s writing in today’s Round Robin, you might want to read one of her novels – and this could be your chance! We have one copy of Vampire State of Mind and some Halloween chocolate to give away. To enter, simply comment below and tell us what you think of the story so far :)

There will be a competition each day of our Round Robin and all winners will be announced 1st November.

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A Hallowe’en Faerie Tale: Part Four by Kirsty Ferry

Halloween Round Robin DAY FOURChristina Courtenay left us on the brink of being whisked away to a Halloween faerie ball yesterday (and we don’t mean just a costume party!) But will Kirsty Ferry make sure we end up there safely today? Let’s find out! Remember to read right until the end for the competition. 

Please note: To enjoy this story, you should read each part in order. Click HERE to read Part One by Berni Stevens first, HERE to read Part Two by Rhoda Baxter, and HERE to read Part Three by Christina Courtenay.

A Hallowe’en Faerie Tale: Part Four by Kirsty Ferry

His hand was cool in mine. He pointed towards my little kitchen door, which led out into a rather nasty, concreted yard. My bins were out there, and a couple of plant pots that I’d tried to encourage into flower over the summer. A wooden door was built into the wall, and beyond that was the back lane that ran behind the terrace.

‘Out there,’ he said. ‘Come on.’

He stepped towards the door and I wasn’t even sure if he’d touched it or not; but it swung open and we were suddenly in my yard. He walked over to the door in the wall, and again that one swung open.

‘Where are we going?’ I asked. ‘There’s nothing out there.’

‘Oh, there is, there is. You just don’t know how to look for it yet,’ he said. His eyes glittered in the moonlight – for moonlight it was, a clear, full moon hanging like a talisman in the velvet sky, and a breath of wind kissed the back of my neck. ‘Now, my Faye, my beautiful Faye -  look with your heart.’

As one, we stepped out into what should have been the back lane and I stared around me, enchanted.

Where I should have been faced with brick walls and high fences, I was looking out onto open fields, dotted here and there with clusters of trees strung with tiny lights. Candles hung, seemingly in mid-air, flickering golden shadows over the grass. Faint music drifted through the evening, and the soft sound of laughter wound itself around me. Shadows moved on the fields, dark figures drifting around, coupling, then uncoupling, as if they were doing some kind of complicated dance.

‘Look down,’ Kalen whispered in my ear.

I did as I was bid and saw that I was wearing a full-skirted black dress, covered with sparkling silver cobwebs. The heavy fabric brushed the floor and I stuck my foot out, intrigued to see a silver slipper where my old trainers had been.

‘Is this the faerie ball?’ I asked softly, almost scared to blink in case this sparkling, starlit scene disappeared.

‘It is,’ replied Kalen. I cast a glance at him and he was no longer dressed casually – if I was some sort of faerie princess, he was definitely the faerie king; all the way down from his tawny hair to his golden waistcoat to his black breeches.

‘Kalen! Hail fellow, well-met!’ I turned and saw another warrior standing behind us. ‘And who is this?’ The man, dressed in a similar fashion to my escort – but thank God this one had dark hair, and wasn’t about to confuse me as a potential Kalen 3 – bowed deeply and I had the awful feeling that my jaw slackened and dropped, as I raised my hand, almost automatically, for him to kiss it.

‘This is Faye,’ said Kalen, amusement in his voice. ‘I don’t think she quite believes in us yet. But she will.’

The dark-haired one smiled down at me and nodded. ‘She will,’ he said. ‘Now come; you must greet our queen, and invite our young friend to feast and dance, as we all must do, this hallowed evening.’

‘And will we be expecting guests from our rival court?’ asked Kalen, drawing me close and walking me across the frost-tipped grass.

‘I trust not,’ replied the stranger. ‘There is too much danger if they come tonight. They will not be made welcome, and this young lady is, regardless, our greatest bargaining tool if they do.’ He looked sidelong at me, a knowing half-smile on his moon-shadowed face and for the first time, I began to panic.

‘Hold on,’ I said. ‘Bargaining tool? What do you mean by that?’

Kalen smiled down at me and pulled me closer. ‘It’s not often we have girls like you at our Balls,’ he said. ‘You are, my lovely Faye, the perfect guest.’

There was something in the way he said my name, in the way his Irish lilt melted around the word, that made me really, really wish that I hadn’t told any of them my name. Especially not on All Hallows Eve.

We were just starting to enjoy that faerie ball – but now we’re feeling a little bit on edge again. Can’t wait for Halloween tomorrow and to see how Jane Lovering will finish it. It’s sure to be a treat!

COMPETITION TIME!

If you enjoyed Kirsty’s writing in today’s Round Robin, you might want to read one of her novels – and this could be your chance! We have one copy of Some Veil Did Fall and some Halloween chocolate to give away. To enter, simply comment below and tell us what you think of the story so far :)

There will be a competition each day of our Round Robin and all winners will be announced 1st November.

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Part Five by Jane Lovering is now available to read, click HERE

A Hallowe’en Faerie Tale: Part Three by Christina Courtenay

Halloween Round Robin DAY THREEWhen we left off yesterday, Faye was placed in a predicament when she was suddenly faced with not one, but TWO Kalens! Where will Christina Courtenay take us today, and where can Kirsty Ferry possibly take us tomorrow? We can’t wait to find out! Make sure you read right until the end for the competition. 

Please note: To enjoy this story, you should read each part in order. Click HERE to read Part One by Berni Stevens first, and HERE to read Part Two by Rhoda Baxter.

 A Hallowe’en Faerie Tale: Part Three by Christina Courtenay 

Kalen One spared me a quick glance and nodded surreptitiously towards Mrs Alden’s door. I got the message and knocked somewhat frantically. Meanwhile, he hissed something at Kalen Two. I only heard a few words, but it was enough to make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up again.

‘I warned you … mortals … fight to the death … Unseelie … queen …’

Just then, Mrs Alden opened her door. ‘Oh, it’s you, dear. I thought the children had come early this year. What do you – ’

I didn’t let her finish, but pushed past her and turned to reach up above her door, unhooking the horseshoe. ‘Sorry, no time to explain. Need this. Costume,’ I breathed, then rushed out into the passage, slamming the door in her face. Very rude, I know, but it was for her own good.

‘Kalen!’ I walked over to the two men and lightly touched the horseshoe to K Two’s elbow. He yelled and jumped about a foot in the air while the horseshoe hissed against his skin, having apparently burned its way through his clothing.

‘Why, you little …’ He wasn’t looking polite any longer and I took a step back as I read violence in his eyes.

‘Wow!’ I blinked. So it was true. But then that meant that K Two was a … Jesus! I was standing right next to a fricking faerie! A bad one.

Kalen One was smiling and crossed his arms over his chest. ‘See? I told you. Now go!’ he told K Two. ‘And don’t you dare touch her again. She’s under my protection now.’

Kalen Two sent me a death glare that made me shiver right down to my toes, but without a word he pushed past K One and out the front door into the dark night.

I tried to get my breathing under control because my heart rate was going ballistic. Clutching the horseshoe in front of me like some sort of mini shield, I backed away. ‘I, uhm, perhaps I’d better … you know …’ I nodded towards the door to my own flat. ‘Thank you for …’

I couldn’t say the words out loud. Thank you for rescuing me from a bad faerie.  Oh, and by the way, are you one of the good ones? It sounded too incredible. And maybe I’d dreamed that hissing bit? Yeah, I must have done. There was no such thing as faeries.

‘There are, you know.’ Kalen said, leaning against the doorframe as if he planned on staying there for the foreseeable future.

‘Wh-what?’

‘Faeries. We do exist. As you just saw.’ His smile had reached his eyes and that impossibly blue gaze was keeping me rooted to the spot. I couldn’t take the few steps to my door, couldn’t lift the keys to fit in the lock, couldn’t … I took a deep breath and closed my eyes. I had to break his spell. For spell it surely was.

‘Okay. If you say so. But now I really must get on. It was lovely meeting you. Have a great rest of the evening.’ I knew I was babbling, but he made me nervous and I didn’t want to discuss this anymore.

He chuckled. ‘Fine, have it your way for now, but later you will believe. Trust me.’

I didn’t want to trust him at all, but had a feeling I didn’t have a choice in the matter. Thankfully, the first trick-or-treaters chose that moment to ring the door bell and I was finally able to move my limbs and enter my flat. Unfortunately, so did Kalen, although yet again he’d managed to do it before me. ‘How the hell …? Oh, never mind.’ I was getting a bit irritated by this habit of his. ‘Don’t you ever wait to be asked?’ I muttered, but his only reply was another deep chuckle, which resonated inside me in a very unsettling way.

‘I’ll help you with the sweets,’ he said. ‘You’ll need protection against some of the little monsters out there.’

He wasn’t wrong. I’d had problems with belligerent teenagers the previous year. They’d insisted they were still young enough to need sweets but privately I’d thought it a bloody cheek. This time I needn’t have worried – one look from Kalen and the teens disappeared into the darkness, presumably to terrorise some other people.

When all my sweets were gone, I hung a sign on my door which I’d prepared beforehand. ‘All out of sweets – come back next year. Happy Hallowe’en!’

‘I like a woman who’s organised,’ Kalen commented, his eyes twinkling again. I tried my best not to look into them because I was sure that was a dangerous thing to do. Although perhaps it was too late for such thoughts … As if to confirm this, Kalen put the kettle on and made himself at home in my tiny kitchen alcove, where he could barely turn around. The small space only emphasised his broad shoulders and muscular build. Casually, he said, ‘So, time for you to pay me back.’

‘Excuse me?’ I sank down onto the nearest chair.

‘Tea or coffee?’ he asked, searching my cupboards for what he needed.

‘Either. Whatever. What do you mean, “pay you back”?’

He didn’t reply until he’d made us both a hot drink and placed mine in my hands. Sinking down onto the nearby settee, he smiled again. ‘I saved you from the bad faerie and you gave me your name, so you owe me. It’s Hallowe’en, right?’

‘Right, but …’

‘That means that for tonight, you have to come with me wherever I wish.’

I almost choked on a mouthful of overly sweet tea. ‘Come with … Says who? Wh-where?’ My thoughts were whirling. I’d allowed a madman into my home. An axe murderer? A rapist? Maybe the other Kalen had been the good one? How could I be sure this one didn’t get burned by iron as well? I hadn’t tried to touch him with the horseshoe.

He held out his arm. ‘Do it.’

I frowned. ‘Stop. Reading. My thoughts! It’s seriously annoying,’ I grumbled, but I grabbed the horseshoe anyway and put it on his arm. A little puff of steam rose into the air, but his clothing remained intact and he didn’t yell. I narrowed my eyes at him. ‘So, just because the iron doesn’t hurt you, I’m supposed to trust you? I don’t think so. I’d like you to leave now. Please.’

He shook his head and sighed while putting his mug on the floor. ‘Sorry, Faye, but it doesn’t work that way. You should’ve been more careful.’ He stood up and held out his hand. ‘Come, I have things to show you. And the Queen awaits. Wouldn’t you like to go to a ball?’

‘A … faerie ball?’ It sounded amazingly tempting when he asked, that wonderful Irish lilt in his voice. ‘But I don’t have anything to wear!’

Okay, so that was possibly the most shallow, girly thing I could have said, but it made Kalen laugh out loud.

‘That, my dear, is the least of your worries. Trust me.’

He held out his hand again and this time I took it. It wasn’t as if I had a choice, did I?

Oh, beginning to wish that somebody like Kalen would whisk us off to a faerie ball – but we’re not at the happily ever after yet! Kirsty Ferry will bring us one step closer tomorrow, before we finish with Jane Lovering on Halloween :)  

COMPETITION TIME!

If you enjoyed Christina’s writing in today’s Round Robin, you might want to read one of her novels – and this could be your chance! We have one copy of The Silent Touch of Shadows and some Halloween chocolate to give away. To enter, simply comment below and tell us what you think of the story so far :)

There will be a competition each day of our Round Robin and all winners will be announced 1st November.

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Part Four by Kirsty Ferry is now available to read, click HERE

A Hallowe’en Faerie Tale: Part Two by Rhoda Baxter

Halloween Round Robin DAY TWO

In yesterday’s instalment of our Hallowe’en Faerie Tale, Berni Stevens introduced us to Kalen and Faye. Today we have Rhoda Baxter picking up where she left off and we can’t wait to find out more! Remember to read on right until the end to find out how to take part in one of our special Halloween competitions :)  

Please note: To enjoy this story, you should read each part in order. Click HERE to read Part One by Berni Stevens first!

A Hallowe’en Faerie Tale: Part Two by Rhoda Baxter

It was fully dark now. I pulled my bag a little closer to me, as I hurried along. It wasn’t far to my place and I’d been down the road many, many times before, so why the sense of unease? I guess Kalen’s warning spooked me more than I thought.

I looked over my shoulder at the church hall. It was dark and still again. As though Kalen had never been there at all. I stopped and turned back to stare at it. Nothing moved. The light in the window was gone. There was only one road away from the building and I was on it. If Kalen had left, I’d see him. Odd.

I could go back and see what was going on … except, it was getting late. My stomach gave a little growl. Yep. Definitely getting late. I had leftover pasta bake waiting for me at my place.  I didn’t need to worry about Kalen. He looked like a guy who could take care of himself. Besides, there wasn’t anything to worry about. Was there?

I hitched my bag up a bit. There was approximately half a kilo of mixed sweets in there. Mrs Alden, my neighbour in the flat across the hall liked to put a pumpkin out, so we always got kids coming round trick or treating. They always tried knocking on my door after Mrs Alden had given them chocolates.

I lived in one of the old townhouses that had been converted into flats. The flats at the top were lovely and roomy, but down at the bottom, Mrs Alden and I had tiny little one bedroom places that barely passed the bedsit/flat divide. As I neared the door, I fished out my key and put it in the lock.

And something changed.

The hairs on the back of my neck tickled and they rose. I had the strangest sensation between my shoulderblades. As though, if I just turned round, I would find someone watching me. I turned the key in the lock, fighting the urge to turn. Just before opening the door, I looked over my shoulder. Someone was walking towards me from the direction of the church. Kalen?

I paused, my hand on the door-handle. Suddenly, the door flew open, wrenching me forward into the house. I would have landed face first if someone hadn’t put out a strong arm and caught me.

‘Woah. Are you okay?’ said the owner of the arm. A warm, solid, male arm, I noticed. Behind him, the door thumped shut.

I regained my balance and turned to thank him. The words fizzled out in my brain. Kalen. Against all common sense, he was standing in front me. Inside the house.

‘Hi.’ He smiled. ‘I’m Kalen. I’m visiting my friends upstairs for a few days. Are-’ he stopped. Frowned. ‘Is something wrong?’

‘You. But. How?’ I shook my head. He had been behind me. It’d just seen him walking up the road. There was no way he could have got in before me. The feeling of wrongness, of things out of place, returned in full force. I clutched my bag to me, although it wasn’t much use to me unless I was going to kill someone slowly with diabetes.

The new Kalen seemed concerned. He gazed at me, with intense blue eyes. ‘Are you okay miss … er … I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your name?’ It was question. An invitation.

‘Fay-… Fe-licity,’ I remembered Gran’s warning this time. ‘I’m Felicity.’

‘Pleased to meet you Felicity,’ said the new Kalen. ‘I’m sorry. I didn’t realise you were trying to open the door at the same time as me. Are you okay?’

Behind him someone hammered on the door. He glanced back at it. My mind whirred. What else had Gran told me? Didn’t I have to invite them in … oh no, that was vampires … Iron. That was it. They didn’t like iron. I started to back away towards the door to my flat.

Did I have anything iron? Mrs Alden had an old iron skillet. She’d shown me once. And there was a horseshoe above the door to her flat. On the inside. Not much use to me now.

The hammering on the door grew louder.

‘You have very insistent trick-or-treaters around here,’ said the new Kalen.

‘Uh … yes. Yes. Quite frequent too.’ Should I try and get into my flat? I didn’t want whatever this weirdness was to follow me in there. My eyes flicked to Mrs Alden’s door. If I could get there … I could get hold of the horseshoe …

There was a soft pop, like one of those suction pads coming off a wall, and the front door flew open. The guy standing in front of me whirled round to face … Kalen. Great. There were two of them now.

They glared at each other. Weird and identical with their tawny hair and matching intense stares. They circled each other. This was creepy as all hell. And worse, they were in between me and the front door.

Oh wow! We were NOT expecting that. And now there are two Kalens – but the question is which one is good, and which one is evil? Maybe we will find out tomorrow when Christina Courtenay takes up the reins …

COMPETITION TIME!

If you enjoyed Rhoda’s writing in today’s Round Robin, you might want to read one of her novels – and this could be your chance! We have one copy of Please Release Me and some Halloween chocolate to give away. To enter, simply comment below and tell us what you think of the story so far :)

There will be a competition each day of our Round Robin and all winners will be announced 1st November.

PLEASE RELEASE ME_front150dpiPart Three by Christina Courtenay is now available to read, click HERE

A Hallowe’en Faerie Tale: Part One by Berni Stevens

Halloween Round Robin DAY ONE

 

It’s that spooky time of year again and what better way to celebrate than a Round Robin written by five talented Choc Lit authors? To start off our Hallowe’en Faerie Tale, we have our very own vampire expert Berni Stevens! Make sure you read right until the end for details on how to take part in a competition too – we’ll be giving out prizes throughout the week right up until Halloween!

A Hallowe’en Faerie Tale: Part One by Berni Stevens

I’ve always had a strange fascination for the abandoned church hall at the end of our road. It’s been lying empty and disused for years, shrouded in neglect and secrecy. I’ve never seen any birds in the trees that surround it, and I’ve certainly never heard a bird sing there. The place looks forlorn and unloved.  I think it’s quite sad.

The date engraved on the plaque above the old oak door, says ‘1750’, so I assume the building is protected. Hopefully that will keep greedy property developers at bay.  It has to be the only reason the hall’s still standing, and thirty ‘luxury apartments’ not put up in its place. Real estate in this part of London is valuable and much sought after. The church itself was turned into an academy for the performing arts some years ago, aimed at children aged between eight and sixteen. Know your market. There are plenty of pushy parents in this area, who want their little darlings to be famous. Actually, there’s probably plenty of little darlings who want to be the next pop prince or princess too.

I stopped by the crumbling brick wall that circled the hall. To my surprise I saw a light inside. A trick of the light reflected from the street lamps maybe?

Without thinking, I walked up the path to the front door. Stretching out a hand, I touched the rough wood. It felt strangely warm to my touch, and when the door swung open, I squeaked in alarm. A warm yellow light flooded out onto the path, and I stepped back, not wanting to intrude.

‘Come on in,’ said a deep male voice.

Yeah, like that was going to happen. Impulsive I may be, but I’m not stupid.

‘Who are you?’ Not the best line, but I couldn’t think what else to say.

I could hear someone walking towards me, and moved back to a safe vantage point closer to the pavement. A tall figure loomed in the doorway.

‘I’m called Kalen,’ he said. He sounded vaguely Irish, his voice lilting and pleasant. ‘And you are?’

‘Faye.’

‘Are you indeed?’ He sounded amused.

I vaguely remembered my grandmother telling me you should never give your name freely to strangers. I couldn’t remember why.

‘Kalen is an unusual name.’

Piercing blue eyes searched my face. ‘It means warrior.’ He said.

‘In what language?’

‘It’s Celtic. You are very inquisitive.’

I flushed with embarrassment. ‘I’m sorry.’ I turned away. ‘I should go.’

He was suddenly standing in front of me. His hand rested gently on my arm. ‘No, I’m sorry,’ he said. ‘That was exceedingly rude of me.’

He looked every inch a warrior, tall and lean with a mane of tawny hair that nearly reached his broad shoulders.  A  contemporary warrior in faded blue jeans and a navy shirt.

‘I shouldn’t be here.’ I made to move around him, but he didn’t move his hand from my arm.

‘I didn’t mean to make you feel unwelcome … Faye.’

The way he said my name sent a little shiver down my spine. Definitely time to go. I looked down at his hand on my arm and he moved it at once.

‘You should take care who you give your name to, especially on these dark evenings.’ He spoke conversationally, but his words scared me.

‘Why?’ I couldn’t help asking the question. Funny how his warning sounded the same as my grandmother’s.

‘You never know who might be listening.’ He glanced over his shoulder as if expecting to see a crowd of people. ‘Or who might be wanting to use it.’

‘For what?’

‘A person’s name is a powerful thing. If the wrong kind take control of it, they control the person.’

Wrong kind?

‘You gave me your name, Kalen.’

He gave me a mocking smile. ‘So I did. But there are not many would control me. Or try.’

I tried for a change of subject. ‘Are you renovating the hall?’

‘Perhaps.’

‘I must go.’

He gestured for me to go around him. ‘It was a pleasure to meet you, Faye. Remember what I said about your name. Be careful – especially on All Hallows Eve.’

‘Now you’re scaring me.’

‘Much better to be afraid than to lose yourself.’

I left him standing on the path staring after me, as I trudged home down the hill. I remembered the old stories of the Seelie and Unseelie courts that Gran used to tell. They had always fascinated me. The shining good faeries of the Seelie Court, versus the dark bad faeries of the Unseelie Court. All nonsense of course.  Even to someone called Faye. Although I wouldn’t mind bumping into Kalen the warrior again …

An intriguing start! But who is Kalen, and will Faye meet him again? We hope so! Find out tomorrow when Rhoda Baxter will be taking up where Berni left off. Can’t wait :)  

COMPETITION TIME!

If you enjoyed Berni’s writing in today’s Round Robin, you might want to read one of her fantastic vampire novels – and this could be your chance! We have one copy of Dance until Dawn and some Halloween chocolate to give away. To enter, simply comment below and tell us what you think of the story so far :)

There will be a competition each day of our Round Robin and all winners will be announced 1st November.

DANCE UNTIL DAWN_FRONT small

Part Two by Rhoda Baxter is now available to read, click HERE

A Little Sugar, A Lot of Love – are YOU a real-life Katie?

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In celebration of the recent launch of A Little Sugar, A Lot of Love in paperback, we have the lovely Linn B. Halton on the blog, chatting about Katie, the main character of the novel …

On the surface of it, as we glance at other people’s lives it can seem that they have cracked it. They found the key that allowed them to unlock their dreams and create a perfect life. But that’s the type of thought that follows a really bad day, when everything seems to be going wrong – and we’ve all had days like that!

Common sense tells us that beneath the exterior façade that the world sees is all of the same turbulent, emotional stuff that lurks everywhere. It lurks in your life and in mine, and no one is exempt.

Fictional stories about life and love can’t really be told without there being a moral to the tale. And A Little Sugar A Lot of Love is no exception. We all have dreams, but how often do we become side-tracked because life and relationships get in the way? Katie’s bakery shop is her dream come true. Ah, I hear you thinking, Katie should be more focused on her business and making a profit, and less on supporting the people around her. The moral being: chase your dream if you really want it to come true. Well, yes and no.

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I’m not saying that if you have a dream you shouldn’t pursue it with all of the vigour, enthusiasm and energy you can muster. After all, if you do nothing, nothing happens. Most things in life don’t come easy and usually you have to put in a ton of commitment and work before you see any results at all.

No, the moral I’m talking about is something that is often overlooked in that focused mind set to achieve a specific goal. It’s the old adage ‘be careful what you wish for’ because how can anyone know what will really make them happy until they actually experience it?

The late astrologer and philosopher, Jonathan Cainer, once said in an interview that nothing he had ever purchased had given him much more than a very brief sense of satisfaction. Therein lies a big truth, in that satisfaction usually comes from the feelings of achievement and self-worth of doing, or creating, something. But the whole point about being careful what you wish for, is that in life there is always a need to be constantly standing back to assess the bigger picture. And that’s because life is all about change. The person you are today is someone who will continue to evolve as each day passes and you gain more life experiences.

Katie is like so many of us in that she is working towards her dream of running a successful bakery, but she also carries some weighty responsibilities for the people she cares most about, which at times becomes draining. There is never time for her to do more than simply get through each day, so she ends up being reactive, rather than pro-active. Life simply happens.

And that is what is at the heart of this story. A reminder that we aren’t responsible for other people’s actions and sometimes we have to accept what isn’t within our power to change. Katie is a nurturer, but sometimes the kindest action of all is one of letting someone go. And as for the dream? Sometimes it has to change because we change and that isn’t a bad thing, but a way of helping us avoid having to be careful what we wish for—

Writing is my dream, but life took me in various directions before I was finally able to sit down at the keyboard and write my heart out. For me the dream is holding a paperback copy of A Little Sugar, A Lot of Love in my hands and seeing it on the bookshelves in stores as I browse. That’s not to say it eclipses my other dreams of being a wife and mother, and having had several very diverse, but satisfying, careers. But this happens to be the ‘me’ time in my life and while I’ve never been busier, I can honestly say it was well worth the wait! Of course, it takes a whole team of people to make it happen and that includes the wonderful readers and reviewers! Achieving a dream is a blessing and I’m counting mine.

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Wishing you well in the pursuit of your dreams …

Linn x

For more information on Linn:

Website/blog: http://linnbhalton.co.uk/

Twitter: @LinnBHalton FB: Linn B Halton Author

A Little Sugar, A Lot of Love is now available to purchase in paperback and eBook format. Click HERE for buying options. 

SHORT STORY: A Rose Among Thorns by Christina Courtenay

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A charming short story by Christina Courtenay just in time for the weekend! If you’ve read The Velvet Cloak of Moonlight already you might recognise a certain house …

Merrick Court, July 1670

‘I don’t understand why you insisted on bringing me here, Mama. It’s humiliating and utterly pointless!’
Rose Parry swished open her fan and tried to hide behind it. Not that anyone was looking at her – the great hall of Merrick Court was full of people, all talking at once, but the undoubted centre of attention was the dashing heir to the estate – Rupert, Viscount Cadell. His parents, the Earl and Countess of Merrick, appeared to have invited as many young ladies of marriageable age as possible, together with their parents. There were whispered rumours that Lord Cadell was to select a bride from among the girls present today.
‘How can he possibly make a choice when he’s only just met everyone?’ Rose scoffed. She considered it highly unlikely he’d fall in love at first sight, even though she had to admit she’d been instantly smitten with him when they’d been introduced earlier. A silly reaction and one she’d do well to forget.
    ‘It is very odd, to be sure,’ Rose’s mother Anne agreed. ‘His parents are apparently insisting that he choose a wife for himself.’ She sniffed. ‘They claim to have married for love and want their son to have the same opportunity. A lot of nonsense, if you ask me.’   Most parents did not consult their offspring, but contracted advantageous matches on their behalf. Rose thought it kind of Lord Cadell’s parents to give him such freedom, but it didn’t make a difference to her. She had no chance of catching him. The room was full to bursting with pretty girls and there was no way she could compete. With her wild mane of bright red curls and a face marred by freckles, there was simply no point her being here. She watched as Lord Cadell moved away from the group he’d been talking to, then lost sight of him. The room seemed less bright without him to focus on.
‘Perhaps the young man likes redheads,’ Anne soothed, then ruined it by adding, ‘There’s no accounting for taste, you know.’
Rose clenched her fist so hard she almost snapped the delicate spokes of her fan. Her mother meant well, but she could be exceedingly tactless at times.
Taking a deep breath, she concentrated on her surroundings rather than the chattering throng. The dark oak panelling gleamed with polish, there was a rather splendid fireplace with a carved surround, and intricate plasterwork on the ceiling. Several large windows let in the summer sunshine and the double doors had been left open, showing a glimpse of the garden. Rose longed to escape into the cool shade of the trees outside.
‘Mrs Parry, Miss Parry, I understand you have already met my son. I was just telling Rupert you have come from Ewyas Harold.’
Rose turned to find her hostess, Lady Merrick, smiling at them, and next to her stood the heir. The sight of him had the same impact this time – like a blow to her middle – and she drew in a deep breath. He was tall, like his father, and had inherited his sire’s handsome features, but his colouring was all from his mother’s side – hair like golden honey and eyes as blue as forget-me-nots. Combined with a decidedly masculine physique – his broad shoulders filled out his dark silk coat to bursting point – he was everything a woman could wish for.
‘I trust you are enjoying your visit to Merrick Court, ladies?’ he said, giving them a graceful bow.
Rose longed to shout ‘No!’, but of course she couldn’t. Instead, she curtseyed politely and murmured, ‘How could we not?’
When she looked up, Lord Cadell was looking at her with raised eyebrows, as if he’d heard her unspoken thoughts. Rose felt her cheeks heat up.
‘It is rather warm in here,’ he said. ‘Perhaps you’d care to take a turn in the garden with me, Miss Parry?’
   Rose looked around. There were at least a dozen girls nearby, all more beautiful than herself. She frowned. ‘Are you sure you wouldn’t rather walk with someone else? I wouldn’t want to waste your time.’
   She heard her mother draw in a hissing breath, while Lady Merrick’s eyes opened wide before she turned a splutter of laughter into a cough.
   Lord Cadell’s mouth quirked. ‘I’m quite sure, but thank you for your concern. Shall we?’ He held out his arm and Rose had no choice but to put her fingers on it and follow him outside. To her surprise, her mother didn’t follow to chaperone them, but then they would probably stay within sight of the house. Rose imagined a dozen pairs of eyes stabbing her back with jealous fury, but she hadn’t asked to be singled out in this fashion so she pretended not to care. No doubt Lord Cadell would soon become bored and return to the others. In her haste to escape, however, she caught her heel on one of the stairs and her shoe came off.
   ‘Allow me.’ Lord Cadell bent to retrieve it, then helped her put it on.
Rose felt her cheeks flaming – what must he think of her? Not just plain, but clumsy as well. ‘Thank you.’
   But he pretended as if nothing had happened and again gave her his arm. ‘Would you like to see the knot garden? It is my mother’s favourite spot.’
   ‘Y-yes, please.’
   ‘So you live near the old abbey then?’ Lord Cadell asked.
‘Abbey Dore, yes, in the Golden Valley. Our home is not far from there.’
  ‘A beautiful place, I believe.’
   ‘Indeed, but so is this.’ Rose looked around and admired the profusion of roses and other flowers that surrounded them. She noticed Lord Cadell was taking her further away than she’d thought but it was a relief not to have everyone’s eyes on them.
‘I’m glad it pleases you. Do you like it enough that you can imagine yourself living here?’ Lord Cadell had stopped by a small fountain.
Rose let go of his arm and marched over to a stone bench, sitting down rather abruptly. ‘If you are going to make fun of me, you may as well return to the house and leave me here. Thank you for escorting me, but I shall be fine on my own.’ She turned her face away from him, trying to stem the tide of anger that threatened to boil over into even stronger words. How dare he toy with her in this fashion? He’d never choose someone like her when he had all those beauties waiting indoors.

He didn’t leave, however. Instead, he came to sit on the bench beside her and put his hand on her arm. ‘What did I say? I didn’t mean to offend you.’ When she glanced at him, he was frowning, the twinkle gone from his blue eyes.
She moved away from his gentle hold and blinked back tears of humiliation. ‘Must I speak plainly?’
‘Please do.’
‘Very well. My mother should never have brought me here today. She knows my father will find me a husband, someone who will overlook my faults in exchange for a substantial dowry.  I doubt you need one of those so there’s no reason for you to leg-shackle yourself to a freckle-faced redhead. You can have your pick of the county’s beauties.’ She nodded in the direction they’d come from. ‘So please, waste no more time on me.’
He tilted his head slightly to one side and looked at her. Really looked at her. Rose felt a blush creeping up her cheeks and wished he would just go away and stop tormenting her. That handsome face was doing strange things to her insides and she couldn’t stop herself from staring at his perfect mouth with longing. But it was madness. Such a man was not for her, she’d always known that, had resigned herself to a sensible choice. Or she’d thought she had until now.
‘You’re wrong, you know,’ he murmured.
‘About what?’
‘When I look at you I don’t see a freckle-faced redhead, as you said. I see a lady with the most amazing hair I’ve ever laid eyes on – like a fiery sunset combined with molten copper – and a lovely face accentuated by a very few freckles. They do nothing but draw attention to a pretty little nose and a pair of emerald eyes a man could drown in. Are you sure you own a looking glass, Miss Parry?’
‘I … beg your pardon?’ Rose was stunned. Why was he saying these things? What could he possibly hope to gain? ‘If you’re thinking that dowry of mine sounded tempting, I do believe Miss Griffiths has one twice as large.’
Lord Cadell laughed. ‘I see I shall have to speak plainly as well. Are you in love with someone else?’
‘No, of course not! Why would you think that?’ Rose was confused.
‘Because you are doing your utmost to put me off courting you.’
‘Cour– … you can’t be serious?’
‘Oh, I assure you, I’ve never been more serious in my life. Your dowry doesn’t tempt me in the slightest, but you do. Your beauty may be different from the other girls’, but it is unique and appears to be coupled with sense. You are the only lady here today who hasn’t simpered at me, batted your eyelashes or tried in any way to attract my attention. That is refreshing and intriguing, believe me.’
Rose stared at him, trying to see if he was in earnest. The incredibly blue eyes stared right back and then he smiled, a smile that made her feel quite faint.
‘I can see it will take me a while to convince you,’ he said. ‘Just tell me one thing – do you find me repulsive?’
‘Don’t be ridiculous!’ The words were out of Rose’s mouth before she could stop them.     ‘I-I mean … I’m sure you are very aware of your charms.’ If he was fishing for compliments, he wouldn’t get them from her.
He laughed again. ‘Well, there’s no accounting for taste, I understand.’
She frowned up at him. Had he heard her mother earlier? His smile told her he had. ‘My mother didn’t mean …’
   ‘Your mother will need to learn some tact, but I shall inform her she was right in this instance – I find I do like redheads. Or rather, one particular one. And perhaps this will convince you of my ardent regard?’ He leaned over and kissed her, softly placing his lips on hers while gazing into her eyes.
   Rose couldn’t look away, nor could she leave. Her lips moved of their own accord, melding with his, and a tingling awareness spread right through her. When she opened her mouth to gasp in surprise, he deepened the kiss and it was some time before she became aware of her surroundings again. ‘My lord!’ she protested, knowing he shouldn’t have taken such liberties. But it sounded feeble even to her own ears and he grinned as if he knew she didn’t mean it.
To her surprise, he got down on one knee in front of her and brought something out of his pocket. He held out a sparkling emerald ring on the palm of his hand. ‘Miss Parry – Rose – would you do me the honour of becoming my wife? That kiss confirmed what I already guessed – we are eminently suited to each other in every way.’
‘But … we only met an hour ago.’ Rose looked from him to the ring and back again.
‘It only takes a moment to fall in love and I am sure I have found my perfect rose today among the thorns.’
Feeling dazed, but happier than she’d ever thought possible, Rose held out her hand. ‘I do believe you’re right – it only took one look in my case, so yes, I will. If you’re sure?’
He slipped the ring onto her finger. ‘I am.’ And then he kissed her again to prove it.

If you enjoyed Christina’s writing, why not give her new time-slip book, The Velvet Cloak of Moonlight a read? Click HERE for buying options.
For more information of Christina, follow her on Twitter @PiaCCourtenay