Thursday, 25 September 2014

EXCERPT - Urgent: One Nanny Required by Olivia Logan

“I said—do you have any children?” The repeated question was spoken a lot slower and carefully enunciated this time, as if she herself were a child. The question, unbeknown to him, brought to the surface her secret, long held dream of having a child of her own. To raise her child to be loved and wanted, as she was never brought up. Never to be used as an accessory, then discarded when the party was over.

Rania shook her head sadly, partly to dispel the image and partly to answer his question, murmuring softly, “No. No, I don’t.”

She had a sneaky feeling the barriers she had long ago constructed were becoming more transparent with each passing minute of this conversation. His sharp gaze never seemed to miss a trick as he watched her smooth down her apron for the umpteenth time that evening.

“Why do you ask? Am I that much of a natural with children?” She smiled breezily.

Clearly, he was in no mood for jokes as her light-hearted comment fell on deaf ears and he continued to watch her through lowered lashes.

“You are with Theo. He rarely lets me even look at his prized comics, let alone ever sharing them with his nanny or a total stranger.” He paused, as if another thought had entered his handsome head. “What is your experience with children then?”

Where was he going with this? Rania knew she hadn’t had much experience with interviews, especially since taking over the shop from Belle, but this was strangely beginning to feel like one. As tempted as she was to tell him to mind his own business, she felt strangely compelled to carry on with the bizarre conversation. “Baby-sitting jobs here and there. Not a lot of those since running the shop. I’m a volunteer reader at the library during children’s hour on the weekend. Why?”

She could feel his eyes travel over her face, as if trying to pin something down. He nodded and she felt like he had already come to a decision though she had no idea what and how the hell it involved her.

“What about a boyfriend?”

Talk about coming out of left field! Turning swiftly, Rania busied herself rearranging the already pristine shelves. Her face flamed at the reminder that the last time she had a boyfriend or even gave herself time for one, Belle was still alive and that had been five years ago. The ‘ignorance-is-bliss’ tack was clearly what this situation called for.

“Boyfriend? Yes I’ve had those. So…?”

His impatient exhale was a sure sign her response had worked. Perhaps now he would back off and let her be. “Yes, I’m sure you did. What I would like to know is if you have one now?”

That did it. How dare he come into her shop and start questioning her about the state of her non-existent love life. If this had been an interview she would have sued…for something.

 “I’m not sure that is any of your business Mr.Trenton!”

“Just answer the damn question!” The sharp comment exhaled on a frustrated sigh had her turning around and facing him. This was too much.

“As I said, I don’t see how that is any of your business. To be honest, I’m beginning to wonder what’s with all the questions. What do you want, exactly?”

She knew as soon as the words left her lips that she was going to regret the answer. She could see his Adam’s apple bob as he swallowed, his eyes steady as he looked at her.

“Miss George, I would like to hire you to be my son’s full-time nanny.”

*

He had to be joking.

However, judging from the serious look on his face, Rania didn’t think that was the case. “You can’t be serious. I mean, you hardly even know me and besides I can’t. Unless it’s escaped your attention; I have a shop to run and it’s very busy.”

He arched one eyebrow at her while looking around the shop. Rania knew what he saw; the paint peeling, the scratched flooring and the worn counter. Minor details she hoped to fix when business picked up again, as it surely would.

“If you insist.” He sighed, as if placating a child. “What I am suggesting will work out for both of us. Theo has his half term coming up in a week’s time and I am flying out to the States for a big production commercial. He obviously likes you and I have a feeling he won’t run away from you.”

“And this works out for me how?”

“I will pay you double what you earn here which should be enough to cover any repair expenses your shop may or may not need,” he said, shoving his hands in his pockets and fixing her with his glacial gaze.

What was it about this man that rendered her speechless; something she was sure she had never encountered before tonight. “I can’t just up and leave. What about getting someone to cover my shop?”

“Do you have someone to cover? A trusted friend, maybe, or reliable weekend help you could ask?”

Yes, she did; damn it. Chewing on her lower lip, she nodded, annoyed to see a wide grin begin to spread on his too-handsome face.

“You’ve got a week till the half term. Here’s my card, in case you have any further questions,” he said, digging in his back pocket and producing an immaculate ivory card with black embossed letters on the front.
“C’mon, Theo. Ready to go?” he asked as the reason for this whole situation bounded through the door toward a navy Jaguar outside.

“Bye, Belle. See you later!”


Lifting a hand to wave him off, she didn’t see a point in correcting him. After all, she wasn’t going to take the offer…was she?


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Wednesday, 24 September 2014

EXCERPT: Kirby by Samantha Molina

The next day arrived entirely too fast. Training lasted until well past midnight, leaving Rachel to function on less than six hours of rest. It’s only six months, she reminded herself, and you’ll be junior editor in no time.

She stood in line at the coffee shop beneath the building that housed Equinox Publishing, her eyes burning from lack of sleep. Certain that a frappe would make the world right again, she waited patiently to place her order. Her patience was rewarded with quick service, and she held her iced coffee drink lovingly as she scooped it up from the counter. Sleepily, she suppressed a yawn and turned to head upstairs where, undoubtedly, another stack of wasted manuscripts awaited her attention. Rachel hadn’t taken five steps, when her toe caught on the edge of one of the rugs. It sent her falling forward; her frappe went flying ahead of her.

“Oh!”

Before the exclamation had completely escaped her lips, she felt a pair of hands grab onto her. The floor rushed up toward her face, then away again as she was yanked into a standing position. Disoriented, she grabbed onto the mystery arms for dear life. A familiar voice boomed above her.

“Good God, how do you make it to work?"

Rachel’s breath caught in her throat and she realized she was caged in a pair of strong massive arms. Her eyes trailed upward, past a strong chest and a sprinkling of hair. Her gaze extended further and she finally saw his face. Those eyes, the smile that dripped with swagger.

Hottie McCoffeehouse.

His arms locked around her waist, he looked down and smiled. “Really, gorgeous – we have got to stop meeting like this."

Rachel’s breath left her body in a low steady stream. His lopsided grin was covered in a few days growth, and his hair fell forward in unruly black waves over the sides of his face as he towered over her.

Wow, she breathed inwardly, and it occurred to her that the heat of his body would unglue her if she stayed in his arms any longer. Forcing herself to stand, she pulled away from him. She found herself shaking the cobwebs out of her head as she looked at him...again.

“Do you just go to random coffee shops and wait for women to fall into your arms?”

Joe let out a throaty chuckle, deep and masculine. Rachel's body ignited with tiny little sparks, and she fought to hold them down. "Not usually, but if you’re the one that keeps falling, I may have to look into a career change.”

And there was that lopsided grin again. Rachel wanted to groan just looking at him. She figured him to be six feet five, less than 300 pounds. Every single inch of Hottie McCoffeehouse was solid, and her eyes widened as he began to take his blazer off.

“What...what are you doing?"

“Huh,” he replied, oblivious to the fact that she was mentally undressing him, “Oh, you got my blazer with your frappe. I’m just going to get it off..."

Rachel could’ve sworn the heavens had just opened up. Beneath the dark blazer he wore a white V-neck that fit him like a second skin, probably because of his size. With every movement of his well-muscled torso, the shirt threatened to tear at the seams.

Rachel averted her gaze, refusing to absorb any more of the raw sexual energy that seemed to ooze out of him.

“I’m so sorry about that,” Rachel stammered, keeping her head down, “It’s a...it's a nice blazer."

Hottie McCoffeehouse grinned, finally appearing to tune into the way he was affecting Rachel.

“It’s all right,” he replied, placing a hand under her chin and looking her in the eye.

“Listen, that’s twice in less than a month that you’ve ended up in my arms. Don’t you think we should at least have dinner now?"

Rachel’s eyes widened as his touch burned her skin. It was insanely electric; could he feel it too? She stepped backward and away from him, blushing uncontrollably.

“Yeah,” Rachel spoke, slowly, “That’s probably not the best idea...but thank you for the offer, Mister...?"

“Joe,” he smirked, allowing her to pull away, “Just call me Joe. And I’ll tell you what, if this happens again --"

“If what happens again?” Rachel asked, “If I fall?”

Joe chuckled. “If you trip again, and I’m there to catch you, then you have to have dinner with me. Agreed?"

Rachel closed her eyes with a grin, opening them again to meet his gaze. "Fair enough, Joe."

“I have a feeling I’ll be seeing you again,” he closed the gap between them.

Rachel tried to remain composed as he towered over her. "I'm sure you do, Joe."

Joe smiled, seemingly amused by her refusal to react to his advances. He stared at her for a moment, his eyes darkening as a mischievous grin appeared on his face. The tiniest of growls escaped his parted lips, and Rachel's breath caught in her throat. She nearly hit the floor. Without another word, he turned and walked away.


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Tuesday, 23 September 2014

EXCERPT Singapore Fling by Alexia Adams

“Sorry I’m late,” Lalita said as she rushed into the boardroom. She took her seat at the opposite end of the table to Jeremy and ran a shaking hand over her hair. Raising her eyes, she met Jeremy’s concerned stare and did her best to paste a reassuring smile on her face. Conversation buzzed around her as she stared out the window. When Lalita noticed a prolonged silence, she pulled herself back to the present. Twenty pairs of eyes stared at her.

“Lalita? I asked if you wanted to make any final comments before we wrap up?” Jeremy repeated.

“Oh…ah…just to thank everyone for their cooperation and hard work in making Evans International a success. In my discussions with the CEO last week, he indicated that we are on track for a record-breaking year and that Asia is leading the corporation in both new products and new partners. Thanks to you!” Lalita concluded with a round of applause and hoped her smile reached her eyes.

Taking her words as dismissal, the men and women gathered around the board table stood, some bowing, some waving to her in farewell. The room cleared and Jeremy perched one butt cheek on the table in front of her. His long, muscular leg blocked her escape.

“Tired?” He searched her face.

“A little, after three nights with meetings running to after ten, then up at dawn to catch the regular European and American conference calls. Thankfully, tomorrow is a slow day, no meetings or calls and we fly to Manila at four in the afternoon.”

“Is there any chance you’ll actually rest tomorrow?”

“Oh, there’s always a chance,” Lalita replied, trying to laugh off Jeremy’s concern. She pushed back her chair and stood to put some distance between them. The heat radiating off his body caused her blood to simmer. His spicy aftershave lured her to lean in closer and see if he tasted as fabulous as he smelled.

Jeremy reached out and grabbed her arm, preventing her from leaving.

“Seriously, Lalita, I’m concerned. You’ve been late for two meetings and left in the middle of three others. You’re distracted and anxious. Is there something happening at head office?”

“No, nothing, everything is fine. And you’re doing a very good job. I expected some resistance to your new ideas, but you present them in such a way that everyone is straight on-board.”

“Nice try, but you can’t deflect my concern. We’re talking about you, not me.”

“I apologize if I’ve been a bit preoccupied. I’ll try to behave in a more professional manner.”

“I don’t care if you lead the next round of managers on a naked conga line through the offices. What’s upsetting you? Surely we’ve spent enough time together that you know you can trust me.”

“Can I? Trust you? You’re the Director of Marketing. Spin is your game.”

“Spin is my job. I’m your…friend, Lalita. Anything you share stays between us. Please, I want to help.”

Lalita stared into his blue eyes for a long time, trying to decide if he was genuine. Jeremy was always on show, his charm entrancing everyone he met. But deep down, she did feel she could trust him. In the two weeks they’d spent together, he had shown real concern for her.

“It’s nothing, just a minor personal problem. It will be resolved in a few days. I’ll try not to let it disturb the rest of your presentations.”

“A personal problem? Are you okay? You’re not ill, are you?”

“I’m fine. Everything is fine. I plan to sleep in tomorrow, shall we meet for lunch?” Lalita scrambled to redirect the conversation. Jeremy stared at her as if he could see into her soul.

“You are the most frustrating woman I have ever met. What will it take to get through that thick, ultra-professional skin of yours?” Jeremy pulled her toward him. Off balance, Lalita put her hands on his chest. Looking up to see what he was about she had just a millisecond before his lips descended and took hers in a rough, passionate kiss.

With a mind of their own, her hands crept around Jeremy’s neck and buried themselves in his hair. The kiss became gentler, teasing, tempting. Jeremy plundered her mouth with his tongue, seeking out the inner essence, her secrets. He wasn’t asking for surrender, he challenged and taunted until Lalita kissed him with every ounce of her strength and passion.

Her self-control sputtered once before spiraling to its demise. Jeremy pulled back a fraction, his breathing as ragged as hers. Sipping at her lips, he then trailed small kisses across her cheek to her ear. He nibbled at her earlobe, his breath hot against her skin.

“That answers one question, at least,” he murmured.

Lalita’s overheated brain tried to make sense of the words. “What question?” she managed at last. Her voice seemed drugged even to her own ears.

“The question of whether or not I had built up our previous kisses in my mind. Whether the passion of five years ago was something I’d over imagined. Or whether it’s true—that one touch from you and my blood turns into molten lava, consuming all rational thought in its path.”

“And the answer is?” Lalita was half afraid of the reply.

“That my memory hadn’t remembered half of the heat. Kissing you is the single most mind-blowing experience of my life and as addictive as the most potent drug known to man. I’m going to kiss you again, Lalita, just to make sure.”

“Jeremy…” Lalita began, but ended on a moan as his lips retraced their way along her cheek and claimed her mouth once again.

A million points of light shattered behind Lalita’s closed eyelids and it took a full thirty seconds before she could make sense of the knocking she heard.

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Monday, 22 September 2014

OUT TODAY: SEXY IN THE CITY (Featuring my London romance 'Perfect Partners')






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Sexy in the City 9 Glamorous, Globe-trotting Contemporary Romances - ebook set only $0.99 for a limited time. Amazon Barnes & Noble Crimson Romance

From New York to Paris, London to Los Angeles, these cosmopolitan tales of romance will challenge and inspire your most worldly fantasies: Singapore Fling by Alexia Adams: A CEO-in-training is tempted by her a handsome hotshot marketing director as they tour the company’s Asian offices. But will eight countries in three weeks lead to whirlwind romance or lasting love?
A Place to Rest My Heart by Galen Rose: This poignant story of family, romance, and discovering where you truly belong will enchant everyone who’s ever left their heart in San Francisco.
Kirby by Samantha Molina: The competitive nature of New York’s publishing scene forces Rachel Sirianna to adopt an alter ego—but can she keep her hot boyfriend from discovering the duplicity?
The Very Thought of You by Carolann Camillo: When real estate developer Nick Mancini tries to buy out the tenants in his San Francisco apartment building, sparks fly with stubborn Molly Hewitt.
Masquerade by Nicole Flockton: A medical romance set down under in Perth provides just the right emergency to reunite Sophie and Alex after their steamy one-night stand.
Looking for Prince Charming by Iris Leach: Glory agrees to pose as her boss’s girlfriend while he campaigns for Lord Mayor of Melbourne—which might not be the best idea since she’s already in love with him!
Urgent: One Nanny Required by Olivia Logan: Rania George is offered a sweet gig babysitting a boy she adores. Only catch? She has to fly to Hollywood—a place she loathes—and spend three weeks with his devastatingly handsome and arrogant father.
Special Angel by Nancy Loyan: A diva with no record of her past, classical singer Angelique must search the globe to find her true identity, and sexy investigative reporter Brian Andrews is hot on her heels.
AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST...
Perfect Partners by Stephanie Cage: London’s latest hit dance competition television show throws two former lovers into each other’s arms—but can they stay in step? 

Sunday, 14 September 2014

5 Surprising Things About... Burnley

    A lot of my friends seem to have been tagged lately to share '5 surprising things' about themselves.  I'm grateful, but also a bit worried, that nobody's yet tagged me (at least, not that I've noticed... if you've tagged me and I missed it, sorry!  I'm really not ignoring you on purpose!).  I'm not sure what I'd say, because I don't think there's a lot surprising about me.  I'm pretty much 'what you see is what you get'.  So instead of sharing 5 surprising things about me, I thought I'd share 5 things that surprised me this weekend.  And I was VERY surprised this weekend. 
     Being a southerner by birth but a northerner by choice, I thought I'd got used to the fact that the North isn't the grim industrial wasteland that southerners tend to imagine.  I live within easy reach of the Peak District and the Yorkshire Moors, not to mention my favourite seaside resort, sunny Scarborough.  So why did I expect Burnley to be the grubby, grimy mill-town of southerners' nightmares?  Maybe it has something to do with the centuries-old rivalry between Yorkshire and Lancashire?  At any rate, I was so surprised by my visit there, I thought I'd put fingers to keyboard to let you know some of the amazing things we discovered about Burnley this weekend.
1. Thompson Park
Nestled surprisingly in the middle of a residential area, just around the corner from the Premier Inn where we stayed, this has to be one of the largest, and loveliest, town-centre parks I've seen in a good while.  The boating lake and paddling pool were both obviously popular, as was the charming little 'Boat House' cafe.  The miniature railway was sweet too, and amusingly well-equipped with both 'steam' and 'diesel' locos! 
2. The Canal
From the park, it's easy to join the towpath walk and follow the Leeds and Liverpool canal for a lovely peaceful waterside walk.  The highlight of our walk was spotting a kingfisher flitting through the trees - not something you see every day, in fact it's the first time I've been certain I've seen one.  Sadly, I didn't get a photo of the kingfisher as it moved too fast, but I did manage to capture part of the canalside walk.  


3. Fantastic Chinese Food
For some reason, I expected Burnley to follow Manchester and Bradford in being dominated with Indian type eateries, so I was surprised that when we googled restaurants in Burnley, we found a Chinese buffet restaurant high on the list.  The English on the website left a little to be desired (I'm still not sure what "the cook is a senior chef China chair hotel" is intended to convey), but I'm really glad I decided to ignore my inner pedant on this occasion, because the food was incredible - a great array of dishes, including some of the best duck and chicken dishes I've tried and all for a very reasonable price.  It's a pity the decor didn't quite match up to the quality of the food and helpfulness of the staff, but you can't have everything.

4. Incredible Talent
If you've read any of my books, you probably won't be surprised to know that it was a showbiz connection which drew me to Burnley.  Most of my fictional heroes are entertainers: Alex (Desperate Bid) is a singer and guitarist, Redmond and Lisa (Perfect Partners) are ballroom dancers, and Bryn (The Santa Next Door) is a classical conductor and composer.  So it's no surprise that I've been fascinated by the true story of Burnley entertainer Andrew Derbyshire, whose one-man show at Burnley Mechanics' Institute spanned the highlights of his career, from first treading the boards as part of a local theatre school, to the heights of the West End and Britain's Got Talent.  The surprise for me was the wealth of local talent he involved in his show, from his longstanding friend, the super-skilled singer and director Carl Mullaney, to the members of Basics theatre school and Energise dance troupe.  Not to mention the adorable little girl from the 'Sing it Kitty' advert, who just happens to be Andrew's niece... seriously, Burnley must have some kind of talent magnet going!
This odd-looking object is a sculpture created just outside Burnley as part of the panopticon projectIt's set high on a windswept hillside and made up of thick pipes, each of which hums with its own distinctive tone when caught by the wind.  Since it wasn't the windiest weekend, we had to get pretty close up before we caught the sound, but the eerie, beautiful noise was well worth the short (and very scenic) walk down from the car.  Like another favourite of mine, the Angel of the North, this is an inspired piece of artwork which is both beautiful in its own right and expressive of the uniqueness of the area it represents.    

I'm sure there are lots of other wonderful things we haven't had time to discover, but in our brief acquaintance with Burnley, these were definitely the highlights.  If you've found something else which we should see next time we visit, feel free to share in the comments below! 

 

Thursday, 4 September 2014

What's New From Me on Book-in-a-Week


I just realised it's been a few months since I've shared here what I've been writing for Book-in-a-Week.  For anyone who's missed my previous posts, I should probably explain that Book-in-a-Week is a fantastic web-based community of writers who once a month take part in a shared challenge to set and fulfil a writing goal over the course of a week.  As well as participating regularly, I also write a monthly column for the site.  


I've been thinking a lot recently about how I can fit in more writing time, and be more productive in my writing time, so two recent posts have been inspired by these experiments. The first post on this theme looks at developing a daily writing habit, which is advocated by many successful writers, including Stephen King.  You can read this one at http://www.book-in-a-week.com/2014/06/the-chain-method-to-writing-every-day/. Following on from this, I've also posted about the benefits I've found to keeping closer track of my word count when I write.  This one is here: http://www.book-in-a-week.com/2014/08/benefits-measuring-word-count/

In between the two, I posted in July about preparing for a writing conference.  This post can be found at http://www.book-in-a-week.com/2014/07/how-to-prepare-for-a-writing-conference/ and was inspired by conversations at the wonderful Romantic Novelists' Association conference.  This year the conference took place at Telford, and featured fascinating talks from a fantastic line-up of authors including Janet Gover, Jane Lovering and Rhoda Baxter.  Perhaps the most-talked-about talk, though, came from Nikki Logan, of the Romance Writers of Australia, whose book The Chemistry of Reading should probably be required reading for any commercial fiction writer - it's a fascinating exploration from a non-scientist's perspective of the science behind holding a reader's attention and engaging their emotions - and which writer wouldn't want to achieve that?