The Santa Dash: Part Two by Clare Chase

Round Robin

Kathryn Freeman started us off with a Santa Dash yesterday, and now Clare Chase is taking us right up to the starting line. And just what will happen with those two rival Santas? Will Ellie have to choose between them? ;)

Remember to read right until the end if you’d like to take part in our competition! In order for the story to make sense, you will need to read Part One by Kathryn Freeman first, which can be found HERE.

The Santa Dash – PART TWO

Ellie felt a blush creep up her neck. Thank goodness her Santa beard was so thick. But the guy’s flattery didn’t entirely distract her. What was his connection with Julian? Suddenly, she realised she’d left an awkward pause in their conversation. ‘What were you doing anyway, running before everyone else had started?’ she said, quickly.

‘Ah!’ His eyes were twinkling again. ‘Yes, sorry about that. I got a bit held up and I didn’t want to miss the start of the race. My phone’s at home and,’ he tapped his wrist, ‘my watch packed up a week ago so I couldn’t check the time. I don’t need to clock watch for work so I haven’t got around to getting it fixed.’

Ellie was about to ask him what he did when an elderly lady with a blue rinse squeezed her way between two especially rotund Santas.

‘Ah there you are, Jamie,’ she said, beaming up at the man Ellie had knocked over. ‘It took me ages to spot you in the crowd. I’m so glad I didn’t make you miss the race. I wanted to thank you again.’

Ellie wondered what ‘Jamie’ was being thanked for, but at that moment, Julian tore himself away from the gaggle of women who’d surrounded him and caught her eye, his handsome features made all the more irresistible by a smile. Within a moment he’d ushered her towards the front of the throng of Santas. ‘Don’t want to get stuck at the back with the stragglers, do we?’ His hand was still on her shoulder as he guided her into the front row of queueing runners. ‘I hope Jamie wasn’t making a nuisance of himself.’ She noticed his jaw was taut now, and his smile had faded. ‘I’d be curious to know what he said about me.’

Ellie felt the warmth of his hand through her Santa suit. It was definitely lingering on her shoulder longer than was necessary. She tried to concentrate on what he was asking. ‘Well, I gathered you’re not the best of friends, but he didn’t seem keen to talk about it.’

Julian’s smile was back. ‘No, well, he wouldn’t. Whatever he told you wouldn’t reflect well on him. Still if he didn’t elaborate, I won’t either.’ He moved his hand from her shoulder and touched what would have been her cheek, but was currently just nylon beard. She squirmed with embarrassment. It really was too unfair that she was finally within a hair’s breadth of him – dressed as a fat, ageing man with glue-on eyebrows. ‘Don’t worry,’ he said, as though reading her mind. ‘You carry off facial hair very nicely.’

At that moment, Ellie noticed a woman with cascading auburn locks that shone in the winter sun. She was standing at the edge of the Santa dash course, wearing a mini skirt, suede jacket and long boots. Distressingly, she seemed to be trying to attract Julian’s attention. When the woman caught her eye and gesticulated, Ellie realised she’d have to give in and let him know.

‘I think someone in the crowd’s waving at you,’ she said, nudging him and pointing.

Julian looked round and spotted the glamorous woman. As Ellie watched she was surprised to see him look startled, and then hesitate before responding. It took at least five seconds for him to muster a smile.

‘Melissa!’ He shouted at last. ‘I’d no idea you’d be here.’

‘Mum said you were running. I thought it would be a hoot to come along and see you. Mind you, I imagined it would be much harder to pick you out.  I might have known you’d barge your way to the front though. Why on earth aren’t you wearing a beard?’

Rather than replying, Ellie noticed Julian suddenly seemed preoccupied with the crowd of Santas behind them. His brow was furrowed and his shoulders tensed as he craned round. She followed his gaze, and found she was looking into the eyes of Jamie, three rows behind them. Then, after a second, Julian looked back at the woman called Melissa again.

‘What is it, Julian?’ Ellie asked.

Suddenly his eyes were back on her. ‘Nothing,’ he said.

And at that moment, a man with a loud hailer distracted them both. ‘Marks, set, go!’

Curiouser and curiouser! Of course Clare Chase’s part was going to end with a bit of a mystery! Can’t wait for tomorrow when Jane Lovering will be taking us for the next mile in our Santa Dash … 

COMPETITION TIME

If you enjoyed Clare’s writing, why not try and win a copy of her novel, You Think You Know Me … we’ll even throw in some Christmas chocolate too!

To be in with a chance of winning, simply read Clare’s extract and answer this question …

What is the mystery woman’s name? 

If you know the answer, email it to info@choc-lit.co.uk. The winner will be selected at random and will be announced at the end of the week. Good luck!

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Read Part Three by Jane Lovering HERE

The Jade Lioness by Christina Courtenay: Release Day and Competition!

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Jade is something that is undeniably Oriental and for me the mere word evokes images of the Far East and exotic settings. It’s been considered precious for millennia and has been used from prehistoric times, first to make tools as it’s such a hard material, then later merely for ornamental purposes. It has great significance for Asian people and is thought to embody many virtues. And no wonder – it’s truly beautiful!

The first time I saw a jade object I was seventeen and visiting Hong Kong with my parents. The shops there were full of jade jewellery – chunky bracelets, delicate rings and pretty necklaces. I loved the colour and feel of it (it’s lovely and cool to the touch) and could totally understand why the Chinese found this material so attractive. As I have green eyes, I immediately felt that this was the perfect accessory for me and I came home with quite a few additions to my jewellery box …

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At the time, I didn’t know that there are actually two types of jade – the minerals nephrite and jadeite – slightly different in colour and hardness, but similar enough that they were thought to be the same thing in the past.  Nephrite comes in many shades from almost white to dark green, as well as reddish, whereas jadeite has more colour variations, even blue, lavender and pink.  In the finest jade, the colour is supposed to be evenly distributed.  Both types are polished to a shiny finish, with nephrite being more resinous while jadeite can have a mirror type shine.

The translucent, emerald-green jadeite is the most sought after variety – the more see-through the better (like the bowl in the photo).  It was traditionally considered a “gem” (and a royal one at that since the Chinese emperors loved it), although it is actually just a stone or rock, and it was more highly prized than gold or silver.  In fact, the Chinese valued it the way Europeans did with gold or diamonds.

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So, when the time came to choose a title for the third instalment in my Japanese trilogy, the word jade sprang to mind and we ended up with The Jade Lioness. I think it captures the essence of the story and I hope the readers will agree!

PrizesToday is paperback publication day for The Jade Lioness, and to celebrate we thought we would give you the chance to win a signed copy of the book plus a little piece of jade – there are two sets up for grabs:  a necklace or a little figurine, together with a lovely Chinese silk pouch for each.  A third runner-up can win the book and a silk lipstick case in jade green.  To be in with a chance, just leave a comment below and tell us what you think about jade and/or the colour green (which is a calming and positive colour I think, signifying spring and rebirth, although sometimes it’s also the colour of poison!).  Does it have any special significance for you?

In the meantime, here’s the blurb for The Jade Lioness:-

Can an impossible love become possible?

Nagasaki, 1648 Temperance Marston longs to escape war-torn England and explore the exotic empire of Japan. When offered the chance to accompany her cousin and Captain Noordholt on a trading expedition to Nagasaki, she jumps at the opportunity. However, she soon finds the country’s strict laws for foreigners curtail her freedom.

On a dangerous and foolhardy venture she meets Kazuo, a ronin. Kazuo is fascinated by her blonde hair and blue eyes, but he has a mission to complete and he cannot be distracted. Long ago, his father was accused of a crime he didn’t commit – stealing a valuable ornament from the Shogun – and Kazuo must restore his family’s honour.

But when Temperance is kidnapped and sold as a concubine, he has to make a decision – can he save her and keep the promise he made to his father?

The paperback of The Jade Lioness is now available to order on Amazon UK & Amazon US.

Find out more about the author, Christina Courtenay, on her website or follow her on Twitter @PiaCCourtenay.

Choc Lit on holiday!

Choc Lit on Holiday

Are you a Choc Lit reader and lucky enough to be going on holiday this year? 

Why not enter our summery competition? Here’s how:

1. Pack your Choc Lit paperback or load up that eReader.

2. Take a photo of your Choc Lit paperback or the front cover of your eReader (as shown above) by the pool, on the beach, in a French cafe, or up a mountain if that’s more your style!

3.  Send the photo to us at info@choc-lit.com with the subject heading ‘Choc Lit on Holiday’. Make sure you tell us where you are.

The best photo will win a year’s supply of Choc Lit books. The closing date is September 30th 2016 so get snapping! We’re looking forward to seeing your entries :)

Full terms and conditions available from info@choc-lit.com