What Would You Say to Your First Crush? : Can’t Buy Me Love by Jane Lovering

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It’s release day for the paperback edition of Can’t Buy Me Love so it’s only fitting we have the wonderfully funny Jane Lovering on the blog today! In Can’t Buy Me Love, Willow runs into her old university crush Luke – and can hardly believe her luck when, after years of looking straight past her, he finally notices her … and appears to like what he sees. But is it all that it seems?

You’ll have to read the book to find out but, in the meantime, Jane’s chatting about old crushes here today. Tell us about yours! 

Ah, those crushes we all had on the unattainable ‘gorgeous’ man … maybe at school?  Wasn’t there always a sixth-former that all the girls dribbled after? Or at University, like Willow, the heroine of Can’t Buy Me Love, who fancied the one man who always seemed to be utterly self-possessed, the only person who knew what was going on at all times, the centre of attention? Or maybe yours was even later, at work, that drop-dead handsome bloke who’d sometimes give you a cheeky wink and a smile, until you hoped it might turn into something more … then you found out he’d moved to the Manchester office and you’d never see him again?

We’ve all got them.  Men from the past that we dreamed would one day turn around and say ‘forget all these others, you are the one for me!’  Have you ever wondered how it would go if they turned up one day and actually did say that?  Would you still go weak at the knees?  (I suppose it depends on how much time has passed, if he’s now fat, bald, four times divorced and a dad of fifteen, you might not be quite so keen). Or would you tell them that they’d had their chance, you’re happy now and they’re ten years too late…?

Have you ever been tempted to look them up on Facebook?  Of course, we all know Facebook only shows the highly edited snapshots of someone’s life (#feelingblessed #makingmemories, why are there no Facebook hashtags for #feelingbloodyannoyed or #makingamessofdinnerasusual?), but there’s still that temptation to check up on old flames – or even flames that weren’t so much flames as ‘fire at a distance’ – to see whether their lives really did live up to their youthful promise.  Is he still as good looking?  Has he married a model, got two perfect children and moved to a thatched barn conversion in Devon?  Or do we secretly hope that he’s lost his hair and teeth, gained nine stone and has mostly been spending his time on a plastic chair at the local Job Centre?  That will teach him not to have noticed us …

So, would you?  If your old crush turned up, still looking pretty much the same and saying he remembered you and he’d always fancied you?  And, more importantly, would you ever ask him ‘why now?’

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Can’t Buy Me Love by Jane Lovering is now available to buy in paperback. Click the banner above for purchasing options.

For more information on Jane Lovering:
Follow her on Twitter: @janelovering
Like her on Facebook: Jane Lovering Author
Check out her blog: www.janelovering.co.uk 

Love Me for a Reason by Angela Britnell

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Hands up those of you with a weakness for a smartly dressed man – yes, I’m talking to you! Nathaniel Dalton, my gorgeous new Choc Lit hero, fits the bill perfectly and he’d be thrilled to hear me say so. When I first “saw” him in his beautiful designer suit, handmade shirt, silk tie and gleaming wingtip shoes I had a little swoon, but when I picked myself off the floor I discovered why appearance meant so much to him and a niggle of sympathy crept in.

When you’ve grown up as the son of hippy goat farmers in rural East Tennessee you either follow the same path or make a one hundred and eighty degree turn in the other direction like Nathaniel. When the story begins he’s achieved most of his goals with a top notch accounting job, a fancy condo in the most sought after part of Nashville and the financial security to help out his eccentric family. When the time is right he’ll select one of the elegant Nashville socialites he routinely dates to be his wife. But we all know what happens to plans don’t we?

In Nathaniel’s case it’s Daisy Penvean. Daisy of the flowing tie-dye clothes and laid back artistic lifestyle, whose iron has been gathering dust forever. Nathaniel shouldn’t be attracted to her but can’t seem to help himself. Daisy hates the fact she fancies a man whose shoes are so shiny she could fix her make up in them. But she can’t help it either.

Outward appearance. It says a lot and yet it’s often the unsaid that means more. Maybe that’s why so many romantic heroes are men in uniform – whether it be military or fireman’s uniforms, or their own version like Nathaniel. It says something about them but leaves a layer of intrigue out there as to whether the man underneath matches the outer persona.

You’ll have to read Love Me for a Reason to discover Nathaniel’s “uniform” secrets and whether he has left the past behind as much as he thinks, or whether he ever really wanted to in the first place.

Love Me for a Reason is now available as an ebook on all platforms. Click on one of the links below to purchase.

Amazon UK   Amazon US  Amazon CA  Amazon AU

For more on Angela, follow her on Twitter @AngelaBritnell

Happy Easter from Choc Lit (and welcome to the first part of our Round Robin)!

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Hello and welcome to the first part of our Easter Round Robin! Every day over the Easter break we will be posting an extract of a story written by a Choc Lit author, with the first part being today and the last part on Easter Monday. Make sure you come back to the blog daily to see what happens next. 

Kicking us off today is Jane Lovering with a very seasonal extract … which also involves cockroaches!  

Grace had never liked Spring. There was something about all the birds tweeting in the hedges, advertising their availability for a mate, that made her think about those internet dating sites she’d signed up to and totally failed to get anywhere with. She wondered if the sparrows ever had to suffer the birdie-equivalent of men who took you to dinner twice and then expected to move in, or vanished, never to be heard from again. Watching a particularly persistent blackbird, she had to conclude that, yes, they probably did.

Her friends were all terribly encouraging, of course.  “Give it another go,” they all said, from their cosy, settled places on the sofas next to their comfortable other halves. “There’s someone for everyone out there.” Grace pulled a wry face every time she heard that.  Maybe, then, she wasn’t “everyone”. Or maybe men didn’t find a woman who ran a pest-extermination business and spent most of her working days in waist-high waders carrying metal traps and enough lethal pharmaceuticals to eradicate a small country, to be possible dating material?

Grace started her van and began the long drive out to her latest call; a farm twenty miles away, which had apparently had an influx of cockroaches.

The farmer wasn’t in. This wasn’t completely unheard of, Grace had been to many call-outs in rural areas where she’d been left to get on with whatever the job in hand required without any input at all from anyone else, and no sign of another human being, apart from occasional glimpses of someone in overalls doing something determined with a grain silo on the other side of a yard.  So today was no different.  She pulled on her protective clothing, pushed open the unlocked farmhouse door, and began her usual assessment of the pest situation on her hands and knees around the kitchen.  She’d just got herself wedged into a promising corner between an Aga and a double-sized fridge, where several slower-moving than average cockroaches had become subjected to her Spring-fuelled wrath, when a door opened in another corner of the room and she heard several men come in.

‘I dunno, Mac,’ one was saying as booted feet walked past her.  ‘I’m not convinced.’

‘I’ve got to do something.’ Another voice, this one belonging to the full-length Wellingtons, lightly splattered with mud, that were standing just in front of Grace’s corner.  When she raised her eyes from the floor, she could see that these boots led to beige trousers and then on up to a jacket.  She couldn’t see higher up, but there was something about the voice that was horribly familiar.

Grace drew herself further back into her corner, barricading herself almost subconsciously from the speaker, with two bags of cockroach bait.  Surely it couldn’t be.  No.

‘The farm isn’t making any money.’  The voice spoke again, and this time … Grace felt herself going red and hot … there couldn’t be any doubt.  It was him.  HIM.  And here she was, crouched in a corner wearing neck to ankle rubber, and gloves that wouldn’t have been out of place on an episode of a vet programme, her blonde hair under a baseball cap and her hands full of chemicals. The world could, at least, have been kind and allowed her to meet HIM again when she was wearing a designer dress, Louboutins and knock ‘em dead perfume.

But no. The world, it appeared, was going to force Grace to confront the lost love of her life, whilst looking like an advert for kinky sex.

How is Grace going to manoeuvre herself out from this tight spot? Find out tomorrow when it will be Janet Gover taking over for the second part of our Round Robin :)  

Jane’s latest book, How I Wonder What You Are, is available in Kindle, Kobo, Google Play & iBook format. It will be published in paperback on May 7th. Click HERE for buying options.

You can follow Jane on Twitter HERE

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Val on Romance and the F-Word

This is Tweedledum here – sorry, I mean Val. Tweedledee – aka Liv – is busy taking care of her daughter and new grandson. I know we all wish them well. So this is another benefit to a writing partnership and sharing a brain – when one of us is busy, the other can leap into the breach and write the blog entry. :)
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“Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn!”

When Rhett Butler hurled this final insult at Scarlett O’Hara in “Gone With The Wind,” my grandmother said there were some gasps from the 1939 audience in her local cinema. It’s a mild curse word now, but in those days censors could demand profanity be toned down in a movie. It’s such a famous line now that it’s almost impossible to imagine it rewritten. Would “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a hoot” or “Who gives a fig?” have had the same impact?

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Swearing in movies, and in literature, can still be a thorny issue today, though. Some people have no problem with it, others are strongly turned off. In the romance genre, in particular, the f-word seems to be frowned upon. So what should a romance writer do?

• Avoid curse words completely? Sacrifice verisimilitude so as not to sacrifice readers?

• Tone down the strong language, substituting ‘jeez’ for the Christian deity invoked in a non-religious context?

• Or is the judicious use of the f-bomb okay when it’s appropriate for character and situation?

I suspect many writers would favour the last option. Use curse words as an expletive when the character is shocked or surprised by something – and use them sparingly in the belief that less has more impact.

Researchers into profanity in everyday conversation have reported that actually a very small percentage of all words spoken are taboo words, although that’s likely to vary if you’re in say a pub or a prison or a school playground (speaking from personal experience as a teacher!). So using strong language sparingly in a novel would seem to mirror what we experience in real life.

What happens, though, if you have a character who swears a lot? Writers know that some characters take on a life of their own. Sometimes they seem to arrive on the page fully formed, and they will have their say. To restrict that character’s use of cursing could be viewed as self-censorship, which is supposed to be anathema to all artists.

And what if a publisher insists profanity be toned down or removed, either for reasons of house style or because they feel the readership won’t approve? Is that an issue writers should take a stand on in the interests of protecting their artistic vision, or is it not something worth arguing about?

To swear or not to swear in romantic fiction, that is the question.

I’d love to hear your views – and I swear (ha! ha!) I won’t accuse you of potty mouth if you’re moved to drop an f-bomb. ;)

Sarah Tranter – my first post!

I cannot believe I am doing this. That I am actually in a position to be writing a post on this blog in order to introduce myself as the newest Choc Lit author. Wow. Truly wow. Yet even now it doesn’t feel real. Ever since Choc Lit said yes to my book, reality has remained the preserve of moments. Seriously incredible moments. Seriously squealy moments. And I’m not a squealy person (and I know spellchecker is telling me squealy is not a word but it should be). But I now squeal. And normally at the most inappropriate times because I have no control over when these moments of reality might hit. But anyway ― sorry! This is not meant to be a blog about squealing. So….

A pretty pic of Wiltshire

A pretty pic of Wiltshire

Hello. My name is Sarah Tranter and I am the latest addition to the Choc Lit author family. And what do you know ― I just squealed! Right. Professional. I believe I need to tell you a little about myself and my book. I’m not used to talking about myself so my advice is to skip the next couple of paragraphs in order to get to the interesting stuff about the book.

I live in Wiltshire with my long suffering husband (nobody likes being woken up at 3am as a reality moment hits their bed buddy) and our two beautiful boys. So, yes, I am a proud mum and I also write. Obviously. Not that I can possibly imagine you are interested, but before the mum and the writing bit, I worked in London in public relations although I initially started out in

2 Wiltshire boys who may or may not be related to me

2 Wiltshire boys who may or may not be related to me

politics. Still can’t quite believe that fact but yep. I did a degree in politics at Leicester,

some voluntary work for the Labour Party in Yorkshire and then a stint as a constituency researcher for a Labour MP. I loved it too.

Yet writing has always been there. If it hadn’t been for a boy (my now manly husband) changing my plans, I was all set to study English Literature and creative writing. It’s something I knew, even then, I wanted to do. It took the passing of far too many years before I got back onto the creative writing track. And then it simply happened. I still don’t know how. I was at home with my boys and at my lowest after a car accident and found myself writing a scene ― about a car accident. That first scene grew into a chapter and then more scenes, more chapters written during stolen moments and before I knew it I had a book. In fact I had the ingredients for a trilogy.

So the book! ‘No such thing as… immortality?’ is the first book in the ‘No such thing…’ paranormal romance trilogy and will be published in January 2013!

A vampire.  NOT Will but I needed a visual

A vampire. NOT Will but I needed a visual

It is Choc Lit’s first book to be written entirely from the hero’s perspective. It obviously includes a car accident but to give you some blurb, this opening book is about a community of five vampires in residence at a remote house in Derbyshire. Their community and relatively peaceful existence is shattered by the discovery that despite the fact they don’t believe in faeries, it seems that fate may have thrust one into their midst.

It’s essentially Will’s story. And he’s a vampire. Not only does he not believe in faeries but he has taken great comfort over the years in both his physical and emotional invulnerability. So from my perspective, he was long overdue a shake-up :) So as not to give too much away, I will say no more. Except that I am very much hoping it is as enjoyable to read as it was to write.

So there you go. My hello and an introduction to the book. And if you are still reading this, thank you! And thank you Choc Lit and its wonderful authors for such an incredible welcome into the family ― and to my writerly (spellchecker can go and jump) friends for their support. You know who you are. Thank you!

Henri asks, can you be a feminist and still read romantic fiction?

woman-reading1I don’t see why not. Just as lipstick and high heels – once seen as emblems of a male oppressive society – don’t make women unequal to men today, neither does our choice of literature. After all, such things come down to personal tastes and should have nothing to do with politics.
Romantic fiction has been accused of giving women unrealistic expectations about real-life relationships. This debate was further fuelled last year when a Salt Lake City newspaper likened reading romantic fiction to an addiction which needed to be “cured”. Okay, aside from the fact that this newspaper article was aimed at a specific audience, it’s not the first time we’ve heard that romance is “bad” for us. But why?
Do they seriously think that women can’t tell the difference between fantasy and reality? That seems rather patronising to me! It’s not romantic novels that tell women what to expect from relationships, but our own sense of self-worth.
Today’s woman knows that a good relationship is about sharing the responsibilities as well as all the fun bits. It’s about equal support, being each other’s best friends. About tolerance and understanding. Giving as well as receiving. About feeling secure enough to sometimes be moody and unreasonable, not perfect, without worrying that it’s all going to be taken away because You’re Not A Good Girl all the time. champagne-and-chocolates1
So what if we dip into a work of escapist fiction now and again – and here I’d like to add other genres as well, such as sci-fi, crime, and even some of the classics – books that transport us from our everyday lives to different worlds? Surely this is nothing more than the literary equivalent of champagne and chocolates. We might not need it, but we certainly like it.
One could even argue that romantic fiction, as it is written today (here I emphatically do NOT include the so-called “bodice-ripper” with its ugly gender stereotyping, which was popular in the 70s and 80s), can be regarded as the ultimate feminist novel. True, it’s about getting the man, but on the female protagonist’s own terms after she’s been on a journey of self-discovery and realises she deserves a hero who’s devoted to her and attentive to her emotional and sexual needs.
The late Penny Jordan, one of Mills & Boon’s most popular authors, always said ”that a thoughtful cup of tea brought to your bedside each morning means more to me than the huge bouquet of flowers bought once a year.” (Quote: The Guardian Online, 15/1/2012). She wrote over 200 romantic novels in a career spanning 30 years, but always kept a very firm grip on reality.
So yes, I definitely think women can want equality and still read romantic fiction – one is a way of life, the other is how we choose to entertain ourselves.

Writing Industries Conference

Just a quickie – I’m leading a panel about the development of romantic fiction in the digital age at the wonderful Writing Industries Conference at Loughborough University on Saturday (the 6th). My fellow panellists are Mary Nichols, who writes Mills & Boon romances and also mainstream women’s fiction, and Lynne Connolly, who writes paranormal romance.

Hope to see some of you there!