The Heart of the Story

Happy publication day to Angela Britnell!  Angela’s stopped by to tell us a bit more about her new novel, Celtic Love Knot.

Storytelling is at the heart of my new contemporary romance ‘Celtic Love Knot.’ Olivia Harding, a Celtic mythology professor from Nashville, Tennessee has built up a stellar academic career around her fascination with ancient stories and how they’ve developed over the years to become part of the culture. But for my hero, Lanyon Tremayne, one particular story has defined his life leaving him isolated and withdrawn. He’s carried the burden of blame for his brother’s death for so long it’s become part of who he is, and without breaking a promise, something he’s vowed never to do, his life is unlikely ever to change.

Olivia travels to Cornwall because her particular love is the legends of the Cornish giants, especially Bolster who is reputed to have terrorised the small village of St. Agnes. The Tremayne family have lived in that area for generations and Lanyon initially has a sceptical view of Olivia’s chosen career, mocking her when they first meet.

‘Next thing you’ll tell me you believe in Piskies and Knockers.’

Because Lanyon is tighter than a clam where it comes to revealing anything meaningful Olivia jumps to negative conclusions about him. It’s only when she’s talking about the story of the local giant, Bolster, to a young boy and his mother that she begins to wonder if she’s misjudged him.

‘Thank the nice lady for telling you the story,’ she urged.

‘It’s not a story, it’s real.’ He fixed Olivia with his sharp blue eyes, ‘isn’t it?’

She hesitated, trying to find the balance between the complete truth and an outright lie. ‘Well, we’re not sure. You know sometimes you tell your friend a story and he passes it on to someone else and the story changes?’ Kenvor nodded, looking very serious. ‘No one has ever proved it’s not true.’

‘Good,’ he tugged on his mother’s hand. ‘Come on, Mum, let’s go. Thanks.’

They left and Olivia rested her back against the cool rock for a few seconds. Did the same thing happen to Lanyon? Had the car crash story taken on a life of its own until it became ‘the truth’? For someone who was an expert in research and sorting out fact from faction she’d done a lousy job with Lanyon.

The stories Olivia and Lanyon tentatively begin to exchange shape their relationship, the same as they do with every couple – along with the age old questions of how honest to be, when to talk and when to hold back. On the surface he’s the one with the most to gain by opening up, but Olivia is burdened by her own family secrets and isn’t about to let them go easily.

As the Bolster Festival approaches, the main reason for Olivia being in Cornwall, and their stories weave closer together my characters both have life-changing decisions to make.

Can two tangled lives make a love knot?

Only the storyteller knows the answer …

Available on Kindle UK and Kindle US 

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Birthday Celebrations: Part Two by Angela Britnell

What’s a girl to do with over 400 prawn vol au vents? Sugar and Spice author Angela Britnell picks up the story today and introduces an interesting twist …

Armed police? As if her day wasn’t bad enough already. This had to be a joke. Kate approached the door and cautiously opened it, half expecting it to be kicked from her hands.

‘Gotcha!’

Her gaze travelled upwards and met a pair of bright blue eyes. The first thing she registered was that the exceptionally tall young man grinning at her had a. the reddest hair she’d ever seen, b. no police uniform or gun, and c. was holding out a massive white box.

‘Cakes Galore at your service.’ He thrust the box towards her with a wide grin.

‘Are you a bloody nutcase?’ Kate glared. ‘Were you trying to give me a heart attack?’

‘Hey, why don’t you try approaching a house that sounds like World War III is in progress, armed with only a cake box. Seemed a good idea at the time.’ He shrugged. ‘The name’s Marcus.’

…find some other bloke called Mark…

This must be an omen. ‘Do you like prawns?’

‘Excuse me?’

‘It’s a simple question,’ she said, exasperated.

‘So it may be, but not one I regularly get asked when delivering cakes,’ he teased. ‘Dare I birthday cakeask if you want to explain all this?’ He gestured around the room and Kate realised the full extent of her meltdown. ‘Most people hang the balloons up instead of massacring them.’

Before she could stop herself the whole sorry story poured out. All the plans she’d made. Her errant brother’s disappearance. Finally she ended with her irrational reaction.

‘Heck. So I’m guessing you won’t want this?’ Marcus pointed at the huge chocolate cake. Kate peered in through the plastic cover of the box and blinked back tears. She’d found an old photo of her brother as a baby and Mark’s toothy grin smiled up at her amid decorations all in his favourite red and white Arsenal colours. Was she such a bad sister that he had to flee to Turkey to escape her well-meant plans?

‘What will you do with it?’ she asked.

‘We’ll take it to one of the old people’s homes nearby. They do pretty well out of our rejects,’ he said with an easy smile and Kate found she couldn’t stay mad at him. ‘Back to the prawn thing. The answer’s yes and I haven’t had lunch so bring them on.’

Being pathetically grateful to anyone wasn’t in Kate’s DNA but she almost flung her arms around Marcus’s neck. ‘I’ll get us some.’ She ran into the kitchen and loaded a big plate with vol au vents before grabbing a bottle of champagne and two glasses. ‘There we go. Eat up. Only three hundred and fifty left to go.’

His eyes widened. ‘Were you expecting a hoard of marauding Vikings?’

Kate bristled. ‘The etiquette books all say to allow ten per person per hour if it’s replacing dinner, which this is – or rather was. Plus my brother’s friends don’t go in for RSVP’s much so I wasn’t sure how many were coming.’

‘Sorry. All the more for us.’ He picked up one and bit into it with obvious pleasure. ‘These are good.’

She opened the champagne and poured them both a glass. ‘How about a toast to my absent brother? To Mark!’ Kate relaxed back in the chair and thought how much nicer this was than dealing with a house full of people.

‘Kate! I just got a text from the caterer…’ Meg burst in through the door and stopped, staring at them both in horror. ‘Stop eating those things right now!’

Angela Britnell was born in St. Stephen, Cornwall, England. After completing her A-Levels Angela_author pictureshe worked as a Naval Secretary. She met her husband, a US Naval Flight Officer while being based at a small NATO Headquarters on the Jutland Peninsula in Denmark. They lived together in Denmark, Sicily, California, southern Maryland and London before settling in Franklin, Tennessee.

Angela won Choc Lit’s Search for an American Star competition. Her novels include Sugar and Spice and What Happens in Nahsville.

Follow Angela on Twitter: @AngelaBritnell

COMPETITION – NOW CLOSED!

If you haven’t already entered our free prize draw to win any 5 Choc Lit novels, including advance 2014 books, enter now! Simply answer the following question:

In part one of the story, how many balloons has Kate blown up for her brother’s birthday party? Send your answer to info@choc-lit.com with ‘Birthday Competition’ as the subject line.

Luscious Lily’s Southern Fried Chicken Recipe!

Clingy pink T-shirt with plunging neckline – check. Pink mini-skirt with flirty pleats – check. Large sparkling earrings – check. Kissable bright pink lip gloss – check. Ankle threatening pink stilettos – check. One last spray of perfume and Luscious Lily is at work.

In case y’all don’t know me I’m Lily Redman, better known these days as my alter ego Luscious Lily. These days being a good cook isn’t enough to get the sort of ratings a TV 9781781890837celebrity chef needs, and so my sleazeball ex-fiance and former business manager, Patrick O’Brian had the bright idea to make me stand out by crafting an image no one would forget.

The only problem now is that I’m stuck with her. Most people don’t see past the glossy in-your-face image to the ordinary Tennessee girl underneath. Cooking is everything to me and it’s what I have the least time for now. Give me a fresh chicken and my grandmother’s cast iron skillet and I’ll turn it into love on a plate. I’ll make you smile when you bite through the crispy outside to savour the juicy meat, and in turn that will put a happy grin on my face. Nurturing people through food is all I ever wanted to do but nowadays it’s all publicity shots, guest appearances on daytime chat shows and cookbook tours.

But recently I met a man who’s thrown me for a loop and I sure don’t know what to do about him. I’ve always believed the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach but this one couldn’t care less about food so I’m stumped. Oh, his eyes lit up when he saw me in full Luscious Lily mode the first time, but now the darn man stares at me as though he sees right through the glitz and is trying to work out who I really am. His name’s Kenan, and yeah it’s a weird name something to do with a Cornish king, but he’s beyond hot and I don’t know what the heck to do about him.

I guess I’m goin’ to have to work out a different way to his heart and see what happens to me along the way. If you want to find out how successful I am you’re goin’ to have to read our story in ‘Sugar and Spice’. You can’t miss the cute cover – it’s totally Luscious Lily all the way!

LUSCIOUS LILY’S SOUTHERN FRIED CHICKEN

I cut up a whole chicken into eight pieces to get 2 breasts, 2 thighs, 2 legs and 2 wings. Don’t even think of using boneless chicken breasts! About 8 hours before you want to eat you need to marinate the meat to make it even more tender and delicious. My grandmother always did it in good Southern buttermilk so I do the same because I don’t want her to come back and haunt me. If you can’t buy buttermilk just take regular milk, add a dash of lemon juice or vinegar and leave it sit a while so it gets a little thicker and has a tang to it. Cover your chicken with this and set it in the refrigerator.

When you’re ready to start cooking pat your chicken pieces dry and set them to one side. In one bowl mix up 3 eggs and about 1/3 cup water (80 ml). In another bowl mix together 2 cups all-purpose flour (250g plain flour), 1 teaspoon of paprika (5 ml) and salt and pepper to taste. Dip your chicken first in the egg/water mix and then into the flour mixture.

Put enough canola oil into a cast iron skillet (every Southern lady inherits one of these) or a Dutch oven so it will about half cover your chicken and heat to 350 degrees F (180 C). Gently lower your chicken into the hot oil and don’t crowd the pan – it’s better to do it in 2 batches. Remember the smaller pieces won’t take as long. Cook about 6-8 minutes on the first side and then turn it over and do about another 6 minutes. Take out and set on absorbent paper to soak up some of the oil.

Round up the people you love and enjoy with fresh biscuits, sliced tomatoes, green beans and potato salad. As soon as you take a bite you’ll think you’ve died and gone to Southern heaven!

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Southern Temptations by Luscious Lily

Sugar & Spice

This is my story! Luscious Lily.

Hi y’all and welcome to ‘Luscious Lily’s Southern Temptations.’ Pull up a chair, pour yourself a glass of sweet tea and I’ll share a few of my cooking secrets with you. Southern women are born knowing how to cook and to us there’s nothing better than feeding a house full of people we love. My recipe today is a special one for us ladies. I grew up listening to my Mama and her friends sitting together on our front porch indulging in some gentle gossip and cake baking one-upmanship. Everyone had her own specialty and they weren’t always generous when it came to recipe sharing. I’ve heard more than one lady accused of missing out an ingredient on purpose. It would always be strenuously denied…but everyone knew the truth.

If you can picture spring time in the South you’ll understand why I picked ‘Luscious Lily’s Lemon Squares’ to share with you today. The air is warm, the blossoms are heavy on the trees and the humidity isn’t yet wrecking havoc with your hair. A pitcher of iced fruit tea sits on the table along with your best crystal glasses. There are starched linen napkins, never paper, or one of the long line of Southern grandmothers (with a smile on their face and a spine of steel) will come back to haunt you. The napkins are essential to wipe the powdered sugar off your fingers because these lemon squares are dredged in it as soon as they come out of the oven and the darn stuff sure does get everywhere. These cakes are a manifestation of the true Southern woman with their buttery crumb base, a sharp lemon centre and all hidden under a covering of sweet sugar.

Always remember to toss in a little love when you’re cooking and you can’t go wrong! Y’all come on back soon for more of ‘Luscious Lily’s Southern Temptations.’

Lemon SquaresLEMON SQUARES

1 ½ cups (190g) all purpose (plain) flour

3/8 cup (45g) powdered (icing) sugar

½ teaspoon (2ml)  salt

¾ cup (170g) butter or margarine, softened

 Rub above ingredients together until it starts to stick together (butter can still be in small lumps). Press into a greased 9 inch x 13 inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees F (180C) for 15 minutes.

While that is in the oven cooking mix up the top layer.

 3 eggs

1 ½ cups (300g) sugar

½ teaspoon (2ml) baking powder

4 ½ Tablespoons (65g) all purpose (plain) flour

4 ½ Tablespoons (65ml) lemon juice

½ teaspoon (2ml) grated lemon rind

 Combine above ingredients and pour over baked layer. Return to the oven and bake at 350 F (180C) for 25 minutes. As soon as it comes out of the oven sprinkle with powdered sugar (icing sugar). Cut into squares to serve.

 Sugar & Spice by Angela Britnell that features the lovely Luscious Lily  is available as an eBook today and in paperback from 7th May 2014.  Check her out here…

 

So, what does happen in Nashville?

What Happens in Nashville?

The short answer is – a lot! Both for the characters in my new Choc Lit novella and in real life.

I’ve lived just outside Nashville for nearly 18 years now and have finally written a story based totally in my adopted hometown. In ‘What Happens in Nashville’ straight-laced English lawyer, Claire Buchan, is dreading her sister’s hen party;  a week in Nashville filled with honky-tonks, karaoke and cowboys.  When she meets Rafe Castello he fits the cowboy stereotype perfectly with his handsome looks and roguish charm but as he and Claire get to know each other, she realises there is far more to him than meets the eye. That’s also the perfect way to describe the city of Nashville to anyone who has never been here.WHIN_150dpi

Anyone who explores beneath the surface of ‘Music City USA’ finds a far more varied town than its commonly held image might lead you to believe. If you want country music, honky-tonks and cowboys they’re there in plenty but how about a world-renowned symphony orchestra, the top-ranked Vanderbilt University, a vibrant waterfront along the Cumberland River and a growing restaurant scene that goes far beyond traditional barbeque? For Civil War fanatics Nashville and the surrounding area is a huge draw with its antebellum mansions and historic battlefields. If art is your thing then check out the stunning Frist Center for the Visual Arts. I could go on and on but having just reread the last paragraph think I’ll now be in line to get an offer from the Nashville Tourist Board any day now!

For a little fun here’s an excerpt from ‘What Happens in Nashville’ when Claire first spots Rafe at the Nashville hotel where the party will be staying.

‘She dropped her bags and set off in search of another human being. To the right of the elegant curved staircase she noticed a glass door and wandered over to peer out through into a small garden. On the wrought iron bench in the centre of the grass a man with a black cowboy hat tipped down over his face was stretched out with his long bare legs hanging out over one end, swigging beer straight from the bottle. Wonderful. Very classy.’

In her mind Claire immediately labels him as a no-good cowboy before they even speak and over the next week comes to realize how wrong she was in her first assumptions. Just like Claire I’ve had to revise a lot of my opinions over the years! The old adage about not judging a book by its cover – although the cover of ‘What Happens in Nashville’ is so pretty I wouldn’t blame you for that – is so true here in Nashville. The scruffy man with his worn jeans and scuffed cowboy boots sitting at the next table to you in a restaurant could easily be a multi-millionaire, Grammy award winning songwriter, university professor or professional athlete.

I’ll finish in true Southern style (you’ll have to ignore the Cornish accent) by saying ‘Y’all come on now and find out what happens in Nashville.’

P.S. Nashville has an interesting chocolate connection! In 1912 Nashville produced the first combination candy bar with more than one principal ingredient. They were named ‘Goo Goo Clusters’ possibly after the first words of the inventor’s baby! They’re still made in Nashville but known internationally. Here’s a link to the company’s history page: http://bit.ly/1hVZvOs

What Happens in Nashville is available in all countries that have access to Amazon Kindle including Kindle UK, Kindle US and Kindle Australia.

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