Three Heroes, Three Times the Trouble

Next week Monsoon Mists, the final instalment in my Kinross trilogy, is released in paperback and as always I’m chewing my nails wondering how it will be received and whether readers will like my hero.  Because let’s face it, the hero is the most important part of a romantic novel and the ideal scenario is of course that readers will fall in love with him.  It’s what you’d like for every hero you create, but this time there was added pressure – would he be able to match up to his father and brother who’d gone before him?

TradeWinds:Layout 1When I wrote Trade Winds I was totally in love with the hero, Killian Kinross, myself.  As an author you have to be, otherwise why would anyone else feel the same?  He’s handsome, with long auburn hair and intensely blue eyes (and yes, he was based on my favourite actor in the looks department) – what can I say, I’m shallow and I like my heroes to be good-looking!  But I think what I liked most about him was his sense of humour and mischievousness.  He didn’t take himself too seriously, was a bit of a ‘bad boy’ (okay, a lot of a ‘bad boy’!) as he’d never been in love until he met the heroine, and he just generally enjoyed life to the full, making the best of every situation and his skills.  I was told readers liked him too, which was lovely but rather daunting when I came to write the second book in the trilogy, Highland Storms.  This featured Killian’s eldest son, but how to create another gorgeous hero without making him a copy of his father?

Layout 1I solved that problem by (a) making him take after his mother in looks, apart from the blue eyes, so although still handsome he’s totally different to Killian, and (b) giving him a personality that’s almost the opposite of his father’s.  Brice had been in love with the same girl since his teens and would never have dreamed of cheating on her.  He’s quiet and calm, and although he has a sense of humour and can sometimes be mischievous, he’s a lot steadier than his father ever was.  Doing what’s right is important to him and he’d never go looking for adventure just for the sake of it.  He has all the ‘big brother’ traits when it comes to his siblings and his clan – caring, protective and careful.  Yet when it matters most, he shows himself to be every bit as strong as his father.

9781781891674The third book, Monsoon Mists, features Brice’s younger brother Jamie.  He had a lot to live up to and I must admit I found writing him very difficult at first!  In the end, however, I let him show me his character himself.  I started to write down his back story and somehow he evolved inside my head and little by little, I realised what he was like.  I knew he was a ‘bad boy’, like his father, since he’d caused Brice a lot of grief in Highland Storms.  In looks, he also took after Killian (apart from having his mother’s eyes) and to begin with, he was just as wild, if not worse.  Poor Brice had his work cut out keeping his little brother out of trouble, while Jamie himself never had a care in the world until a scheming minx called Elisabet changed everything.  That’s when his life is suddenly turned upside down and so is his character.

From having been a carefree young man, he becomes cynical, introverted and a staunch supporter of justice.  A womanizer no longer, he mistrusts all females and it takes a very special lady to try and make him see that they’re not all like Elisabet.  But has he really changed completely?  You’ll have to read the book to find out, but we all know the past has a habit of catching up with us when we least expect it …

Monsoon Mists

Sometimes the most precious things cannot be bought …

It’s 1759 and Jamie Kinross has travelled far to escape his troubled existence – from the pine forests of Sweden to the bustling streets of India.

Jamie starts a new life as a gem trader, but when his mentor’s family are kidnapped as part of a criminal plot, he vows to save them and embarks on a dangerous mission to the city of Surat, carrying the stolen talisman of an Indian Rajah.

There he encounters Zarmina Miller. She is rich and beautiful, but her infamous haughtiness has earned her a nickname: “The Ice Widow”.  Jamie is instantly tempted by the challenge she presents.

When it becomes clear that Zarmina’s step-son is involved in the plot Jamie begins to see another side to her – a dark past to rival his own and a heart just waiting to be thawed. But is it too late?

'Promote Me!' portrait

Christina can be contacted via her website, Twitter and Facebook.

Monsoon Mists is available in paperback and on all eBook platforms including Apple and Kobo. Kindle UK, Kindle US and Kindle AUS

What is Christina up to at the moment?

tgf_packshot-copy2When you’ve had a book published, done all the PR/blogging/tweeting etc to launch it into the world and things start to calm down again, the question you are asked most frequently is “what are you working on now?” (That is, if you are talking to fellow book-lovers/writers, not family members who still haven’t realised that writing isn’t a hobby you pursue in between cooking, cleaning or washing up for them.)

For me, that question often doesn’t have a straight-forward answer, because I’m a bit of a writing butterfly. I flit from one story to another, working on one for a while, then get bored and work on something else – I have a very low boredom threshold. Apart from new writing projects, there are also edits for forthcoming novels that have to be done of course, so sometimes that means I can be working on up to four different stories more or less at once. Here’s a little summary of what I’m doing right now:-

Edits for New England Rocks – I’ve just finished the second round of edits for my YA novel due to be published in August (yeah, very excited about that!). There was a small snag, shall we say, which eagle-eyed editor Rachel discovered in between Edit no1 and Edit no2, so that took a couple of days to fix, but I think we’re sorted now (at least I hope so!). I’ll have to wait until next week to find out and then there will be proof-reading.

Umpteenth draft of second YA novel, sequel to the above. I wrote this a while ago and when starting to revise it again I discovered I’d used the hero’s name in another book – disaster! Cue major trawl through endless name lists in order to find one that suited his personality. I can’t write unless my characters have the right names!

Second draft of Monsoon Mists (provisional title), the third in the Kinross trilogy. Those of you who read Highland Storms will know that Brice Kinross’s brother Jamie caused a lot of trouble, but things were not quite what they seemed so I thought it only fair that he should get to tell his side of the story. For the last few months or so, I’ve been working on this and at the moment I’m chewing my nails waiting to receive my beta readers’ verdicts. I know it will need more work, but at least I’ve got to the stage where I dared to send it to them (progress indeed)!

Revision of the third book in my Japanese trilogy so that I might dare to send it to the Choc Lit tasting panel. That’s going to take some time …

In between these bursts of writing, I’m also trying to prepare myself for the RT Booklovers’ Convention in Kansas City which I’ll be attending at the beginning of May with some of the other ChocLiteers. In case you think we’re just going there to have fun (you may have heard that there are parties just about every night and even a ball, not to mention male cover models on the premises 24/7?) – fear not, I promise we will be working hard. Workshops, talks, networking, you name it – we’ll be attending everything. And we’ll report back afterwards with, hopefully, plenty of inspiring photos. With all this socialising, er, I mean working, I have a feeling my wardrobe and suitcase are both going to prove woefully inadequate, but as the convention hotel is apparently situated right next to a shopping mall, I’m not too worried. I may even forget a few things on purpose :-)

So what are you up to?

RoNAs – Result!

Monday was the Big Day – the annual RNA Awards now called the RoNAs (Romantic Novel Awards) – and as you may have heard already once or twice (or maybe more?), Choc Lit had a triumphant afternoon!

Kate, Christina and Jane

Kate, Christina and Jane

Jane Lovering won the Romantic Comedy category with Please Don’t Stop the Music, Christina Courtenay won the Historical Romantic novel category with Highland Storms and Kate Johnson only just missed out in the Contemporary novel category with her wonderful The Untied Kingdom.  As she lost to Katie Fforde, the RNA’s lovely President, we didn’t mind too much, and two out of three is a pretty good ratio any day!  And as Peter James, the chairman of the Crimewriters’ Association said before he handed out the prizes, all the shortlistees were winners – we totally agree with that.

Rather than boring you with endless trumpet-blowing though, we thought we’d give you Jane’s, Christina’s and Kate’s take on some other aspects of the awards ceremony.  Here is what they had to say and please let us know if you agree with them:-

awjane-with-awardsmallThere were some fabulous outfits on display, which was your favourite?

Jane – Well I was lusting ever so slightly over Katie Fforde’s full-length coat/dress thing.  I’d have looked like a bag of elderly onions in it, but she looked gorgeous.

Kate – There were so many lovely outfits, it’s hard to choose! Christina’s own lovely mauve jacket and boots – ooh, those gorgeous boots! – probably take the prize for me. Marina Fiorato gets Best Hair, Katie Fforde wins Best Cape, and of course our host, Jane Wenham Jones, for her platinum frock, gets Best Dress.

Christina – I was very taken with Jean Fullerton’s emerald green suit as I love bright colours, but I also coveted Liz Fenwick’s fabulous purple jacket.

awchristina-with-awardsmallAnd then there are the shoes – not counting your own, which ones did you wish you’d been wearing?

Jane – Um.  Is it wrong of me to say that I wasn’t looking at people’s feet?  Although, Christina, I did notice your rather lovely lilac boots…

Kate – I’m not sucking up here, but when I invited my mum her first thought was which shoes to wear. I covet her gold sandals terribly; it’s probably just as well we don’t take the same size!

Christina – My feet wished they’d been wearing Jane’s boots, but Bex Leith’s black shoes were wonderful so I’d probably have thrown caution to the wind and picked those.

The ‘bubbly’ was flowing, do you prefer it pink or normal?

Jane – As long as it keeps flowing I am really not bothered. Give it fizz and keep it coming!

Kate – Well, if there’s bubbly going I’m not picky about the colour. Although I will say that the first time I tasted Bollinger was the first time I “got” champagne!

Christina – Neither – hate the stuff!  Unless you put peach juice or Kir in to make it ultra sweet.

Which was your favourite canape?

Jane – I didn’t eat any.  I was too terrified and then too shocked.  And ever so slightly too busy drinking…

Kate – I’m not large on the canapés, being that it’s often hard to tell whats in them (I don’t eat meat or shellfish). But the salmon ones were nice. And matched the champagne.

Christina – Salmon, definitely, although I was in such a state of shock I can’t actually tell you what the others were!

awardauthorssmallMost amusing comment of the afternoon (either in a speech or normal conversation)?

Jane – Hazel Osmond and I had a discussion about weeing in handbags in extremis. It amused us and probably disgusted onlookers, particularly when I did the actions.  Not the real actions, I hasten to add.  Although it was a long way to the toilets and I feel that no-one would have blamed me.  Except Hazel, obviously.

Kate – Should I drop Jane in it for her split crotch/handbag comments? [Looks like she'd done it herself, Kate!] No, okay. I heard someone say that the Ladies bathroom was bigger than the Blue Banana. (It was. It really was.)

Christina – The whole of Peter James’s speech was great, but I can’t recall the specifics – fortunately Emma Lee Potter has mentioned it on her blog.

Finally, we heard Kate’s hero Harker mentioned quite a few times during the event (in fact, if there had been a ‘best hero’ award, we reckon he would have won it hands down!) – who was your favourite hero out of the ones in the shortlisted books?  (If you can’t choose, we’ll allow you two)

Jane –Nope, sorry, I refuse to acknowledge that any hero exists except for Harker.  Apart from maybe Gus, from Katie Fforde’s Summer of Love.  He’s cute too.  And my Ben… in fact, all of them are pretty phwoooaaar-worthy, now I come to think of it.

Kate - Aw, yes, Harker is grumpy he didn’t win anything. He’s not used to losing: where he comes from you win, or you die. I do recall Jan Jones’ Hugo from The Kydd Inheritance being rather heroic when it came to highwaymen, and of course, the lovely Brice Kinross in all his intelligent, brave, kind and handsome glory. Now … which book was he from, Christina?

Christina – Apart from Harker?  Well, Ben in Please Don’t Stop the Music is definitely my kind of guy – former rock star, slightly moody, handsome in a grungy kind of way.  And I loved Riccardo in Marina Fiorato’s Daughter of Siena – wow, gorgeous Italian with an amazing sense of honour, and also very kind and considerate!

So there you have it, our brief take on the RoNAs.  Now comes a nail-biting wait to see who of the five category winners will take home the overall “Romantic Novel of the Year” title – if you’d like to help vote for any of them, please go to the Awards Website.

Christina and Man’s Best Friend

Sykes the Thespian Dog

Sykes the Thespian Dog

I think most of you know by now that I love dogs and have three of the little rascals who more or less rule my life.  (Yes, I know I’m supposed to be the “alpha dog” of the pack, but somehow I got ousted … no idea how that happened!)  Maybe that’s why they keep ending up in my novels?  Not exactly like mine, but just dogs in general.  They’re not always the centre of attention or have huge roles to play, but they are there in the background, doing what dogs excel at – being man’s best friend.

I was reminded of their appeal and why I love them so much when I happened to see the cover of this week’s Country Life magazine. Normally they have castles, gundogs or other such things on the front and portraits of debutantes inside, but this week they’re featuring Sykes the thespian dog. In case you don’t know who he is, he’s an extremely clever and talented little actor, who has appeared in countless films (including some with Johnny Depp apparently!). He also starred in an award-winning advert where he played Harvey, a rescue dog with unbelievable skills looking for a home! (See for yourself on Youtube here if you missed it). Currently he’s stealing the show in the new series of Midsomer Murders – I thought maybe it was just me, but apparently most other people think so too. Personally, whenever he’s on set, I forget all about the Inspector and the grisly murder victims. I’m much more interested in seeing what Sykes is going to get up to. And he never disappoints. He has a very expressive face!sykes2

So am I going mad? Turning into a crazy old dog lady? I don’t think so (at least not yet :) ). There is something particularly appealing about a dog (or any pet I suppose) who is intelligent enough to help their human owners. Especially if they save the day, sound the alarm when danger approaches or just leans on their human friend to give them sympathy when it’s needed. I explored this in Highland Storms, where the heroine’s dog Liath does his best to get in on the action and I have to admit I loved writing the scenes featuring him. I only wish my own dogs were as obedient or had half his brain cells, but that’s another story …

Any other animal lovers out there? Please tell me it’s not just me!

Choc Lit Christmas Special – Day 12

choclit-logoxmassmaller3We have reached the final day of our special Christmas blog series and we hope you’ve enjoyed our posts! Tomorrow is New Year’s Eve, and most of us are hoping to have a wonderful celebration of some kind. So we thought we’d end our ‘twelve days of Christmas’ by telling you about some of our most memorable New Year celebrations over the years – some good, some not quite what they were meant to be …

JaneI fell asleep with my face in a trifle once. But, you know, party … Sometimes, when I get a cold, there are still mandarin orange slices …

clxmaschampagneJuliet – 1999, fireworks, and that once-in-a-lifetime feeling – unless you’re a vampire – of being on the brink of a new millennium!

Chris – Being offered a Choc Lit contract in December 2009 was the realisation of an ambition I’d held since I was a little girl. Raising a glass at midnight on the last day of 2009, knowing that in 2010 I would be a published novelist, was a very special moment indeed!

Linda – Very low key really, 31st December 1999. A family meal with lots to eat and drink and a lot of laughs, stopping up until the early hours. It was what happened afterwards that was magical. My son and I were the only ones left standing and just before dawn we decided to walk down to a local cove and sit on the beach to watch the new century’s dawn. It was heart-stoppingly wonderful as the sun peeped up from the horizon. Someone let off fireworks on the headland and my son stripped to his boxers and went for a swim while I paddled in the shallows in a pancake flat sea. No photo, alas … we didn’t stop to think of that in our last minute decision to try and make a dawn of the millennium memory … shame.

Sue – May I have the funniest? I’d just begun a relationship and we went to a club in a hotel for New Year’s Eve. A lot of people in the club were laughing because there were two men in drag in a drunken stupor on a pool table in one of the outer rooms, and everyone was trooping out to look at them. So we went, too. And one of the guys came round from his drunken stupor and said, ‘Hello, Sue!’ It was Tony and Steve, who I’d been to school with. It wasn’t the impression I’d planned on making on my date …

EvonneThe year I fell in love for the first time, of course. I’m a romantic novelist!!

Margaret – I wonder why it seems right and even desirable to do the conga round the street on New Year’s Eve, but not at any other time of year? I used to live in Berkshire before I moved to Devon, and my next door neighbours always had great New Year’s Eve parties. I don’t remember them in any huge detail – I can’t think why – but the conga-round-the-street part sort of sticks in my memory.

KateMy favourite New Year’s Eve was only last year, when I went to Port Isaac in Cornwall with my family. We spent the evening in the pub by the harbour, drank champagne and nibbled canapés by the open fire, then moseyed down to the beach at midnight to drink wine, watch fireworks, and set off Chinese lanterns. And have a little paddle in the sea, of course!

Christina – Can’t remember the year (late 1970s?), but some school friends of mine were house sitting a small four bedroom house and decided to throw a New Year’s Eve party. Approximately 200 of our fellow students turned up … don’t think there was much left of the house or furnishings afterwards!  (Whenever I see the film 10 Things I Hate About You I think about that party!)

Henriette – One New Year’s Eve I spent with some friends in Copenhagen, and after the bells had rung in the new year, the guests trooped outside to set off fireworks, as tradition has it. But everyone in the street did the same and after a while the air was so thick with white smoke, it was like a cordite-scented pea-souper. It took the whole night for it to clear!

We’d love to hear about some of your most memorable New Year’s Eve parties, so before you start to drink champagne and sing Auld Lang Syne, please leave a comment below for a chance to win Christina Courtenay’s novel Highland Storms!

We wish you a very happy, healthy 2012 with lots of time for reading!

Highland Storms competition – winner

Thank you very much to everyone who took part!  There were so many great replies, I couldn’t choose which was the best, so in the end I had to resort to writing everyone’s names on pieces of paper and drawing the winner out of a hat!

The winner of the£20 Amazon gift voucher is – Laura E James!!  Congratulations!

And as there were so many of you, there is also a runner up who receives a copy of Highland Storms and that is – Livbet! Congratulations to you as well!

Many thanks again!

If anyone feels like partying today, the lovely Heroine Addicts are throwing a cyber launch party for Highland Storms over on their blog, so please come and join us and tell us what you’re bringing to enhance the festive atmosphere :)

Highland Storms – publication day!

Tomorrow is the offhighlandstorms_coversmallericial publication day of Highland Storms, the sequel to Trade Winds, and I’m absolutely thrilled! In some ways it feels like I’ve been waiting ages for this, but in others, the day has come around very quickly indeed.

It’s only just over a year since Trade Winds was published and I was very pleased to be able to continue the story. I hadn’t originally planned on writing a sequel, they just seem to happen with me. I was going to leave Killian and his wife to live their Happy Ever After life, but somehow I couldn’t quite let go. And their baby boy, born all the way over in China, seemed to me to be a fighter – well, he had to be in order to survive a journey like that! Then I began to imagine him as a grown man and what he’d be like, combined with the fact that at some stage, he’d have to take over his father’s Highland estates, and the story took off from there …

I’ve been on a blog tour in honour of Highland Storms and this was meant to be the final stop, but we’ve added a few extra dates as follows, so please stop by if you have a moment:-

7th November – Eliza Knight’s blog www.historyundressed.blogspot.com

10th November – Helen Hollick’s blog http://helen-myguests.blogspot.com/

27th November – Cathie Dunn’s blog http://cathiedunn.blogspot.com/

12th December – The Word Wenches blog http://wordwenches.typepad.com/

In the meantime, to celebrate publiction day, here’s a chance to win a £20 Amazon voucher – just answer the following question – Do you prefer blond men or dark-haired ones and why? (I’d like to know because I had a hard time deciding which of my heroes I liked best – Killian or his son Brice).  Competition ends at midnight on Friday 4th November.

Highland Storms blurb:-


Who can you trust?

Betrayed by his brother and his childhood love, Brice Kinross needs a fresh start. So he welcomes the opportunity to leave Sweden for the Scottish Highlands to take over the family estate.

But there’s trouble afoot at Rosyth in 1754 and Brice finds himself unwelcome.  The estate is in ruin and money is disappearing.  He discovers an ally in Marsaili Buchanan, the beautiful redheaded housekeeper, but can he trust her?

Marsaili is determined to build a good life.  She works hard at being housekeeper and harder still at avoiding men who want to take advantage of her.  But she’s irresistibly drawn to the new clan chief, even though he’s made it plain he doesn’t want to be shackled to anyone.

And the young laird has more than romance on his mind.  His investigations are stirring up an enemy.  Someone who will stop at nothing to get what he wants – including Marsaili – even if that means destroying Brice’s life forever …

Highland Storms, ISBN: 978-1-906931-71-1, published by Choc Lit 1st November 2011, available to buy from Amazon or The Book Depository or please click here for further retailers

To read an excerpt, please click here

Christina Courtenay’s New Cover

highlandstorms_coversmallerI’m absolutely thrilled to be able to share my brand new cover with everyone – behold Highland Storms!  I think the Choc Lit cover designer has outdone himself this time and has produced exactly the sort of thing I had imagined for this novel.  I may be just a tad biased, and you probably all know by now that I’m very partial to lilac, but I think this is just fab!

Highland Storms, which is the sequel to Trade Winds, will be published in November, so there’s a while to wait yet before seeing the actual finished book, but I don’t mind now because I know I’ll love it.  Just to whet your appetite, here is a short blurb:-

Brice Kinross thinks he’s very different from his flamboyant father and younger brother Jamie, and the only thing he wants out of life is to settle down with the girl he loves.  When she jilts him in favour of his brother, however, he is forced to rethink.  Taking over his father’s Scottish estate and becoming the next chief of the clan suddenly seems very appealing, but the Scottish Highlands in 1754 is not the hospitable and welcoming place Brice remembers from childhood.  In order to successfully take over his inheritance, he’ll need to discover qualities he never knew he possessed.  And when he meets a woman who is more than his match and a villain hell-bent on taking what belongs to Brice, life begins to get interesting again …