Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Pauline Barclay’s characterisation and descriptive location is so skilful you feel as if you’ve stepped back in history, in this book to the sixties, and could reach out and shake hands with Bertie and Kitty and the wonderful secondary characters who serve to make the story even more believable and rounded. Meeting Bertie sweating under the ‘deceptively amiable gaze’ of one of the two owners of Raffles, you’re right there, behind the oversized mahogany desk, realising alongside Bertie that your luck might have finally run out.

Bertie, despite his habit, is likeable. He’s a gambler through and through, and you want to scream at him to stop!!, knowing that he can’t, knowing that he’s surely heading for catastrophe, that he’s likely to end up losing his hard-won business as well as the woman he loves, despite people’s assumptions he could have only married Kitty – ten years his senior, for her considerable fortune. We do wonder, did he? Will his habit drive him to temptation, to use her as well as deceive her? And deceive her he does. Kitty is sharply intelligent and independently minded within the constraints of the sixties, but her love for him and her belief in him is unshakeable – at the beginning. Sadly, Bertie, we know can only learn the lesson, that gambling is a fool’s game, the hard way. So does he lose all he’s worked so hard for? Can their marriage possibly survive when Bertie is playing with such high stakes? You simply have to read the book. Even if Bertie has finally overcome his addiction, as Kitty says, ‘deceit is a hard lesson to unlearn’. And gambling is a hard habit to kick. Will he always be a chancer? Do we want him to take one final chance? As with previous books of Pauline Barclay’s, In The Cold Light of Day, is one I would highly recommend you pick up and lose yourself in. Loved it.

Pauline Barclay brings you Emotional Passionate Moving Stories.

Find out more about Pauline at:

Book Promotions: Chill With a Book

Sometimes It Happens… B.R.A.G. Medallion Honouree

Thanks for reading. 

Keep safe all!

Lots of love,


Monday, 23 March 2015

I’ve been challenged by Sue Moorcroft to join in the Lovely Blog Hop to share some of the things that have helped shape my writing and my life.

You can find links at the end of the post to other writers I find inspiring. Firstly though, I’d like to thank Sue, not only for the nomination, but for being one of those inspiring writers. Sue’s novel, Starting Over, was one of the first Choc Lit books I read. From there I devoured a fair few. Good job Choc Lit’s heroes are like chocolate – irresistible. Thanks to Sue and those other Choc Lit authors, I discovered the perfect ingredients to make up a Choc Lit book and I’m super-pleased to now be following in their footsteps. My own book, The Rest of My Life, comes soon – from Choc Lit!   

First Fond Memory 

Lying on my back in the garden on a warm sunny day, making castles in the sky. I think I was about five. I was obviously a dreamer, even then.


Ah, books. My love of books, or rather awe of, came from my father. An avid reader, he could often be found scowling over the cover of one of his books if you dared look as if you were about to turn over a corner of a page on the book you might be reading. Aaaargh! Sacrilege! Books were to be treated with respect and woe betide anyone who did otherwise. I must admit I can empathise with that now I know the many, many hours of love poured into the writing. My dad's favoured author, though, Charles Dickens, was perhaps a bit heavy reading for a five-year old dreamer, so I tended to go more for Enid Blyton and, dare I say, the ‘Just William’ books by Richmal Crompton, which I borrowed from the library. I have no idea why, except that I was perhaps a bit of a tomboy (my football was tucked under my arm while I was lying in that garden dreaming). From there I went on to read such books as Lord of the Flies by William Golding and A Kestrel for a Knave by Barry Hines. Yup, definitely a bit of a tomboy.

Lately, a book that stays with me is The Memory Book by Rowan Coleman. When I first picked this up, I peeked under the cover, read the first few pages, and then snapped it shut and stared at it as if the contents might leap out and bite me. The subject matter is early onset Alzheimer’s Disease, a subject I have close personal experience of and one which is terribly difficult to write engagingly about. I was intrigued to see how the author handled it. I am pleased to say she did it with sensitivity, tenderness and quiet humour. It’s a beautiful, poignant story turning around the love that binds mother and daughter together, and one I would love to have written, though I doubt I could have done it quite so skilfully.


Heaven, particularly when you come from a large family. There wasn’t a lot of money to splash about between six children, so the library was my lifeblood and my sanctuary. It was there that I seized upon a book by Marika Cobbold: Guppies for Tea (I was a bit older then!), at the forefront of which is a young woman’s relationship with her grandmother. That book stayed with me. I remember thinking, I want to write like that. I found my first Kathy Lette book soon after, which led me to buy all of her sharply witty books, and from there I went on to read such fabulous authors as Marian Keyes, whose first book, Watermelon, I simply loved. Her books tend to deal with modern ailments, but are always written with compassion and humour, which is now something I strive to do myself. Without libraries to hide away in, I doubt the writing bug would ever have bitten.

What’s Your Passion?

Apart from writing, dogs. Disabled dogs, to be precise. I foster all sorts of odd dogs. Three legs or four, one eye or two, they’re all the same to me. I simply give then what they need: love.


I was lucky enough to get chosen to attend an art and design school when I was eleven (art was my thing – good job really. I was hopeless at maths!). I was terribly shy, however, and didn’t think I particularly excelled at anything. It was there that my English teacher, possibly seeing someone who needed a little confidence boost, marked up one of my essays as excellent. It worked. I started to believe in myself and my writing then. Early motherhood meant further education was cut short but, being determined (or stubborn, I’m not sure which), I have finally now completed my MA in Creative Writing. It’s only taken me the odd bazillion years or so!


To quote Sue, I truly think writing is a compulsion. While some might not have a burning desire to put pen to paper, everyone has a story to tell. As a writer you get into the habit of people watching, wondering about their lives, loves and passions. For instance, while I was at a hospital recently, where I found myself having to wait around a lot, I encountered an elderly gentleman. Nothing spectacular about that you might say, but … Well, let me describe him. His hair was gunmetal grey, streaked silver. He wore a blue, pin-striped suit, a waistcoat, from which dangled a gold pocket-watch chain, a white shirt and tie. He used a walking cane, but didn’t have a limp. What struck me most, though, were his shoes. Highly polished and neatly laced, the sole of one of them hung loose and flapped as he walked. Now, he surely has a story to tell.

Thanks for reading!

Other awesome authors I’ve nominated are:

Keep safe all!

Lots of love,


Thursday, 19 March 2015

Phew, so what a mad two months it has been. Skipping over the part where I was hovering around operating theatres more than the surgeons (my partner is doing fabulously now! Thank you to my lovely family and friends, who shouted out their unstinting support on FB and kept me relatively sane), I had a lovely surprise when BestChickLit.com showcased my books with Safkhet Publishing in a week long Bonanza! What a fabulous gesture! I had no idea they were going to actually read and review them all! One, yes, quoting lovely Francesca Verbeeten as to reasons why: ‘After meeting Sheryl Browne at the 2012 Festival of Romance and promptly spilling my wine over her gorgeous dress, I apologised profusely, promising to read her latest release and review it for the site. Having finally reached it in my ‘to read’ pile, feeling terrible it’s taken so long to get to it, I found it was well worth the wait . . .’

I keep telling her the stain came out in the wash and that the dress wasn’t really designer, but … Bless her socks, I think she felt a tad guilty. Francesca, I’ll wear it next time as evidence.

I’ve included a few snippets below, but to read all the reviews please do have a browse of the fabulous BestChickLit.com site (offering much-needed support to authors).

In other news: my new novel, The Rest of My Life, brought to the attention of Choc Lit's MD, Lyn Vernham, by Head Fiction Buyer at WHS Travel, Matt Bates (who read the manuscript after meeting me at the Romantic Novelists' Association's Annual Conference and recommended it as a good fit for the publisher's list), looks to be on line for publication in May! I can honestly say that working with Choc Lit Editor Jane Eastgate on the book has been exhilarating, definitely reminding me how important it is to get a set of professional eyes to peruse my work.

My thriller, Death Sentence, title suggested by a chief constable no less, is currently also in edits with Safkhet Publishing, so it’s all go, go, go. Still, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I am therefore I write, to quote the title of the 2014 Birmingham City University anthology (in which one of my shorts appears *blows own trumpet shamelessly*. I simply wouldn’t know how to be without my writing, apart from a little bit madder, possibly.

Snippets from my Book Week Bonanza reviews:

  • Recipes for Disaster - Perfect for dog lovers, foodies and anyone who has lost faith in the existence of good men.
  • Somebodyto Love - Be prepared to laugh and cry and get lost in a world safe in the knowledge that everything is going to work out okay.
  • Warrantfor Love - This book is an absolute gem and totally hilarious … underneath it all the issues that Paul and Leanne are dealing with are serious and that is what really draws the reader in. This really is a book to devour …
  • A Little Bit of Madness - This is the perfect read for when you are tired and a bit fed up with life – it will restore your faith in humanity (with a little help from the dishy PC Alex Burrows of course!).
  • Learning to Love - Yet again Sheryl Browne paints a vivid picture of real life, making you laugh and cry and feel every ounce of emotion right alongside her characters.
  • The Edge of Sanity - I’d definitely recommend this one. And for die-hard rom com fans, this book might just seduce you into reading a whole new genre!
Thank you, Elizabeth, Francesca and Charlotte at BestChickLit.com! After a bit of an ugh time, this was just what the doctor ordered. Yes, writing is my passion, but it’s an awfully lot more satisfying when people read and love your work and help get the word ‘out there’.


Keep safe all!

Lots of love, 


Saturday, 14 March 2015

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked up this book. Aware it was a ‘man cheats’ story, I hoped it wasn’t going to be a tale about ‘revenge best served …’ It wasn’t. I’m delighted to say it was a bright, uplifting read with a touch of Florida sunshine. Well done to the author for the evocative location descriptions, which transported me right there from the grey old UK. Well done, too, on the attention to detail regarding Carrie’s career as an interior designer. I found her character totally believable. Actually, she’s one of those women you would love to hate (beautiful, talented, well off), but can’t help but fall in love with, particularly as, through the sub-plot, we see her caring nature and realise when she loves she loves with all of herself. Without wishing to give the plot away, the scene where she dashes back to be at her sister’s side had me welling up. Congratulations here, Brad, for turning convincingly from playboy into perfect hero.

Briefly, the story opens with Carrie leaving work early on her sixth relationship anniversary, intending to make one of her boyfriend’s fantasies come true, only to find him indulging a fantasy of his own with someone else over the kitchen island. Forgoing cutting off his shirt sleeves, after a respite to collect herself, Carrie decides on a new life instead, in a new town, away from the reminders of her failed relationship. Brad, aforementioned hero, is anything but when we first meet him. He’s drunk, to be exact, and with is playboy reputation, is someone to be avoided (not easy when he turns out to be her first client). He’s also got the hot looks that hook. Again, the author makes him believable and, more importantly, root for him when Carrie’s ex-turns up to derail his and Carrie’s fledgling relationship. I won’t say more for fear of spoilers. Would I recommend it? Yes, definitely. I read The Right Design in two sittings. It’s a real feel-good read. Oh, I have to mention the cover. Just gorgeous. Loved that coral and blue almost as much as Brad did.


Interior designer Carrie Newman could not have envisioned a more perfect life for herself. She had a great job doing what she loved, wonderful friends, and a close relationship with her sister and brother-in-law. Add in an amazing man who she’d hoped would soon become her husband, and her life was perfect. Until one devastating decision ruins her relationship and changes the course of her life. Determined to make a new start, Carrie leaves Texas and heads to Palm Beach to pick up the pieces of her shattered and broken life. The last thing she expects is to find herself attracted to her first client at her new job—Brad Larson, who has proven himself time and time again to be caddish. But there’s something beneath the surface of Brad’s arrogant exterior that keeps her craving more of him—something almost sweet that Carrie can’t seem to resist. Is Carrie ready to take another chance on romance? And will this new design of her life prove to be the right one…?

About Isabella:

Isabella grew up with a book in her hand, and to this day nothing has changed. She is a member of the Romance Writers of America and has been featured on several blogs. While Isabella doesn’t blog a lot, she focuses her time on featuring other writers, along with writing and editing.
She lives in Dallas with her husband and cat. She enjoys spicy Mexican food and drinking margaritas, and can be found spending time with family and friends, cheering on the Texas Rangers, and reading.

Isabella’s short story, Meet Me Under the Mistletoe, was featured in Simon & Fig’s Christmas anthology, Merry & Bright, in November 2013. The Right Design is her first novel.

To learn more about Isabella Louise Anderson and her books, click HERE to see her author website.

Amazon UK

Keep safe all!

Lots of love,


Monday, 9 March 2015

What’s the best thing to do when waiting for a loved one to have an operation? Get yourself lost in a good read. That’s exactly what Zanna Mackenzie’s ‘And The Earth Moved’ provided me. Joining hapless, yet feisty, Amber, and the hunky CCIA agent with a soft centre, Charlie, on a murder mystery trail was a far more absorbing place to be than the hospital waiting room. The story follows Amber, part-time barmaid and horoscope writer for the local rag, as she becomes embroiled in the search for the suspected murderer of her celebrity ex-boyfriend’s brother. You simply know she’s also going to get her emotions embroiled with Charlie from the get-go and yet the romance element is perfectly paced, delivering the perfect dollop of satisfaction. No spoilers, but I liked that the author left the reader suspecting there might be one or two future ups and downs in the relationship, which will take it nicely into the next in the series. What I particularly liked was that Charlie was believable as a CCIA (Celebrity Criminal Investigation Agency) agent. His attitude, competent, crisp, yet caring and protective, was just right. His methodology was believable. Obviously some research has gone into the detail. I also liked the setting. You could almost smell the beer being pulled in the traditional pub and the diesel and dust of the quarry. The attitude of the men working the quarry, the dumper bearing down on Amber and Charlie after a less than friendly reception … Well, if you want to escape in a book, And The Earth Moved is a good choice. 

And The Earth Moved

Amber Reed CCIA Mystery Book One ~ “Romantic comedy meets celebrity murder mystery”

Book Blurb:

When celebrities need a crime solving quickly and discreetly they call in the specialists, the Celebrity Crimes Investigation Agency, otherwise known as the CCIA…

One desperate phone call is all it takes to turn Amber’s day from boring to completely crazy.
The call? Her old university boyfriend Ennis, now a heartthrob actor, begs for Amber’s help.
His brother Joel is dead and Ennis has to discover the truth about his death before the world’s media hear about it and batter his door down demanding answers.

The CCIA has already assigned its top agent, Charlie Huxton, to the case. Amber’s mission? Ennis doesn’t trust a stranger to keep quiet so he pleads with Amber to shadow and help Charlie throughout the investigation. Ennis was her first love and she still has a soft spot for him – how can she refuse?

Scarily out of her depth Amber knows she needs to somehow get Charlie on side with her involvement in the case – and fast.

Plunged into the world of crime Amber’s battling something darker and far more dangerous than she’d imagined – and it has nothing to do with the equally scary chemistry fizzing between her and Charlie.

Will Charlie agree to work with her to find out how and why Joel died? Can she help uncover the truth before word gets out and an already distraught Ennis is hounded by story-hungry journalists?

Just as importantly, can she keep her sanity and still be alive when the mystery is finally solved?

Find the book on Amazon UK
Find the book on Amazon USA

Find out more about Zanna at: 

Keep safe all!

Lots of love,


Sunday, 1 March 2015

I have the pleasure of welcoming Jim Webster onto my blog! Jim’s here to tell us a little bit about his new book published by Safkhet Publishing, War 2.2

An action packed investigation, from Delta mud to the palaces of Merchant
princes, Haldar is back in War 2.2

Haldar Drom is starting to worry. The long running insurgency in the Zala
Delta suddenly starts to spiral further out of control. Who is arming the
insurgents? How and why? Then a leading local politician who is using his
influence to try and keep things calm is threatened with assassination. It's
obvious that things are moving to a climax.

All Haldar has immediately available is a third year university student who
gets given a dissertation project she'll never forget; young journalist who
he convinces to investigate the situation of the ground; and a retired
marine librarian whose job is to keep the politician alive. As the
investigation proceeds, from the mud of the Delta to the luxurious
surroundings of the Drake Islands, Haldar comes to realise that he may be
facing Wayland Strang's counter-attack. Faced with a coup d'état spearheaded
by off-world mercenaries Haldar has to react quickly to stop a major war.


Like an adolescent on a first date, Willon had agonized about his appearance. In his case he had no wish to appear achingly cool. Rather he was intent on looking professional. He had pondered his limited wardrobe and had finally decided on bottle green britches of conservative cut and a side buttoned tunic in metallic grey that he had purchased to wear at a relative's funeral. Yet he still felt the need to cut some sort of dash, so he inveigled a colleague into giving him a lift in one of the company floaters. Hence he was dropped off on the upper terrace of the Alani Hotel to the amusement of the dinners. Nodding courteously to those sitting and eating, he crossed the terrace and entered the main fifteenth floor dining room as the antique wall clock struck eight. He saw Mistress Bonart arrive at the dining room on the arm of the manager. A fleeting smile crossed her face and she turned and said something to the manager who bowed and withdrew.

"Willon, punctual indeed." She held out an arm and he hastened to lead her to the table she indicated. He seated her and then waited to be invited before seating himself.

They sat in silence as she studied him and he, more covertly, studied her. Mistress Bonart, widow of Targan Bonart the celebrated playwright, poet, dreamer and drunk, was a lady in her late sixties  or thereabouts. She was small, her once black hair was white now, her clothes almost as conservative as his own. She smiled at him impishly and he found himself smiling back.

She held the menu lightly in one hand, "If you like I could order for us, I'm perhaps more familiar with the foibles of the cook than you are."

Willon nodded, then remembered his manners, "Yes please."

She tapped the side of the table and almost instantly a waiter appeared. She gave him complex instructions, he raised issues, she brushed them aside with another of those impish smiles, he rallied, raised other issues. Still in no mood to take prisoners a hint of steel entered her voice. The waiter's defenses collapsed utterly and he scuttled off to do her bidding. As he watched this exchange Willon was acutely aware that he was about to dine with the lady who had single-handedly built up Tsarina Broadcasting. He remained watchful and silent. Her brief skirmish with the waiter completed, Mistress Bonart turned her full attention onto him.

"So Willon Cartif, you have ambitions."

Willon was cautious, unsure exactly of what Haldar had done to win for him this interview. "I suppose so Ma'am."

She made an abrupt gesture. "I am certainly older than your mother but I'm not going to waste my evening in tedious formality. I am Bertrice, and I'd be grateful if you could use my name. I in turn will scandalize everyone by calling one of my employees 'Willon', so heads will be turned and everyone will assume we are having an affair." Again there was the impish smile and suddenly Willon felt he was a fellow conspirator rather than a potential sacrificial victim.

"So Willon, tell your friend Bertrice why exactly you have decided, against all wisdom, to leave a comfortable billet in Channel Six and become a freelance."

Willon was about to launch into a prepared speech when she raised a hand. "And note well I have known young Haldar Drom for more years than I care to remember, so I think you can give me the version of the story that includes him."

Deflated, Willon struggled for something to say. He was briefly rescued by the arrival of the first course, a gastropod pâté served with various herbs. The waiter placed their plates and withdrew. "How about telling me your story from the beginning," Bertrice prodded.

For the next half hour, with brief pauses for eating, Willon was gently cross examined. Finally, the sweet course swept away and a selection of liqueurs placed on the table for them, she allowed him to lapse into silence.

"So, you are a young man at the crossroads of your career." She studied him as she spoke. "On one hand you have a decent salaried position on Channel Six. I've checked and you're well liked, considered perfectly competent, and it is assumed that you will work your way steadily through the organization. Or on the other hand you can give this up and go freelance." She was still watching him closely. "I have to tell you that should you leave Channel Six, even on this assignment, that we cannot keep your job there open for you." She raised a hand to forestall any protest. "This isn't a judgment on your ability or a sign of disapproval, it's a simple fact. We'll need someone doing the job while you're not there, and if that person is any good, then it would be unfair to just kick them out again. Not only that but if you do this freelance job for Haldar Drom, do you honestly think you'd be happy in Channel Six anymore?"

Willon subsided a little, and then Bertrice asked, "Have you ever been freelance?"

"Well I have submitted the occasional piece over the years."

"That means no Willon. Strangely enough I have. I had to freelance for ten years to support my husband and three children." She sighed. "You might think you're pretty low down the pecking order at the moment, but you wait until you're freelance. You're lucky if one in three people returns your call; you spend your time making friends of receptionists and personal assistants. You're the last person they get round to paying and the first person they decide they can do without. Still think you want the job?"

Willon smiled slowly. "I think so."

"And what do you know about the Zala Delta Insurgency?"

"Rather more than I did this morning when Haldar asked me the same question."

"Good answer. You're hired. We have a standard contract, I'll have one of my people drop it round to your desk tomorrow morning along with your severance pay."

"Why, thank you," Willon almost stammered, he was somewhat surprised by the speed of it all.

"Thank me when you've done the job and can decide whether it was such a good idea."

She gathered her belongings as if she was about to leave, then she paused. "Willon, another thing; what do you think about the freedom of the press?"

Willon looked at her, "But of course I believe in the freedom of the press. It is the duty of the press to hold the powerful to account."

She ran her finger round the rim of her glass. "I know it is boy, but how do you square this with working for Haldar Drom?"

Willon sat in deep thought. She continued, "I know, the question hasn't occurred to you has it? Still, don't try to answer it now, but just keep thinking about it, that's all I ask. Haldar I trust, the Governor is a decent enough man, but it might be that one day it will be your duty to hold them to account. Make sure that you can do it with a clear conscience."

She paused as if wondering whether to say something. Willon watched; it was the first sign of indecisiveness he'd seen from her.

Then she said. "Are you able to be just the reporter and not to be part of the story?"

"How to you mean Madam?"

"I mean can you report a wrong without wanting to right it? Can you sit outside looking in or are you going to go native?"

She smiled at his hesitation. "Cheerful banter on Channel Six doesn't force you to ask these questions does it?"

With that she stood up. Hastily he stood up as well, and she offered him her hand to kiss. As he bowed his head to kiss it she said softly, "And remember, the only person you have to sleep with is yourself." As he raised his head again she kissed him gently on the cheek. "That should give the gossips something to talk about."

About Jim:

I'm Jim Webster. Claims to be fifty something, and has been married to the same lady for thirty years. We have three daughters who've all sort of left home. I've been a livestock farmer in South Cumbria all my life, and for the last forty or so years have combined this with freelance journalism and writing. For relaxation I walk a lot, read (mainly ancient history) and have been a wargamer and roleplayer for as long as I can remember.


Thanks for sharing, Jim! 

Keep safe everyone!

Lots of love,