Summer of Love cover

My Summer of Love at the RNA Conference

Writing can be a lonely business in some ways. I mean, yes, you have your beloved characters to keep you company and engage in the sort of dazzlingly quick dialogue you (well, I, anyway) never quite manage in real life, but it’s not the same as talking to real people, is it? And even when I do get to talk to real people, at the school gates or whatever, it’s a little hard to engage them on the subjects of character conflict and plot, or RSI prevention, or worthwhile promo ops, or the baffling world of royalties statements.

Which is why it was so lovely to get away to Telford at the annual Romantic Novelists’ Association conference this weekend.

This year’s conference was expertly organised, brilliantly run, and just so, so much fun. It was hot and sticky, but nowhere near as bad as last year, the food was incredibly good, and the kitchen parties as epic as ever (even if I did change into my pyjamas for one of them. It had been a long day, and the holdy-in knickers were getting a little tight!)

My top 5 highlights of the weekend were:

  1. Nikki Logan’s incredible ‘Chemistry of Reading’ talk. Anyone who has an interest in learning how to affect readers so that they fall in love with your story (and hopefully hurry out to buy everything else you’ve ever written!) should pick up her book: The Chemistry of Reading – Arousing Your Reader. I know I am! And it’s only £1.95 on kindle right now.
  2. Janet Gover’s ‘Location, Location, Location,’ session. Such a useful reminder of how much setting can bring to a story – and some great tips for how to make the most of it.
  3. Sitting down with Scarlett Wilson and Jessica Gilmore to talk about an exciting project we have coming up next year… Watch this space!
  4. Sipping prosecco with the lovely Lucy Gilmour and Victoria Oundjian from Carina UK and chatting about Joey and Pacey, the West Wing, sports romance movies and, eventually, books. It was very uplifting to hear how pleased they are with how The Love Trilogy has been received, and to chat about some plans for the future…
  5. The giant Yorkshire puddings for lunch on Sunday!

It’s back to work for me today – but with a bounce rather than a bump. I left the conference feeling inspired, and eager to get on with my various writing projects. Starting today, with the release of the third and final book in The Love Trilogy – Summer of Love! Perfect for these sunshiny days we’ve been enjoying.

Here’s a little preview from Chapter Four…

Summer of Love cover

Watching Alex as he painstakingly arranged her rings and pendants to best catch the light, Lily found it hard to believe this was really the same boy who’d torn up the town in his youth. Or even the same man who’d taken the financial world by storm, making fortunes for others, and enough for himself by all accounts. The man Cora had described as having a different woman every night, and two on Saturdays, while he was living the high life in London.

Now, he looked… settled. Content. The restlessness she remembered from when he was a teenager had left him. Maybe he’d finally found his place in the world, unlikely though it seemed.

Lily wished she could say the same about herself.

But she was a grown up now. Maybe Alex could drop his old life and start a new one, but that wasn’t so easy for most people. He’d left behind colleagues and friends, sure, but he’d moved home to family. If she wanted to start over again… She had nowhere to go. She’d used up all her second chances by the age of nineteen.

She had to make this life work.

But… did she have to marry Edward to do that?

‘Can you hold this for me?’ Alex asked, not looking up, and Lily hurried to his side to assist, keen to leave her unpleasant thoughts behind. ‘Like this.’ He draped a chain over her fingers, leaving the pendant dangling down above the champagne glass full of rings. ‘Perfect.’

Stepping back, Alex lifted his camera and Lily blinked at the flash as he took several photos in rapid succession. Then he moved back again, lifted the camera slightly, and took a few more.

‘If I was in that last set, we’re burning the negatives,’ Lily said.

Alex smirked. ‘Digital camera, I’m afraid. But I’ll let you have a copy of the files.’

Like she’d want a reminder of how wretched she looked and felt on this day. Although, with Alex there, distracting her, the day had improved somewhat. Maybe the crush she’d had at school was ten years out of date, but being around Alex was relaxing. Fun, even. ‘Okay, what do you want to photograph next?’

Glancing around him, Alex settled on the cabinet of engagement and wedding rings on the other side of the room. Striding towards it, he said, ‘Let’s get some shots of the really good stuff, now. But I’m going to need you to model them for me.’

Lily hung back until Alex held his hand out for the key. She passed it to him, biting her lip. Modelling her engagement rings, the ones she hadn’t been allowed to make for her own hand… Was that weird? It felt weird. She swallowed. ‘There’s a variety of sizes there. They won’t all fit perfectly.’

‘But enough of them will fit well enough?’

She nodded. Her fingers were fairly average size, maybe slimmer than most. Some might hang a little loose, but he could hide that in the photos, she was sure.

He looked at her, eyes serious. What was he trying to prove here? His expression gave nothing away. He simply tipped his head in acknowledgement and said, ‘Okay then. Let’s get started.’

Alex sat her, not at her workbench, as she’d expected, but by the window, the May sun streaming through and warming her skin. Using the folding table he’d commandeered for the other shots, draped in a snowy white cloth to best reflect the light, he’d settled her into a comfortable enough position, where her hand could rest at the best angle. When he was happy, he said, ‘Right then. Inferior ring off. Let’s see which of yours suits you best.’

Lily looked at the ring she hadn’t chosen on her hand. This was stupid. She took it off all the time at home – to do the washing up or when she put on moisturiser. The diamond stuck out at just the right angle to catch her skin, or her tights, or get encrusted in soap. It really wasn’t a practical ring. It only made sense not to wear it all the time.

Resolved, she slipped it off her finger, placing it on the windowsill for safekeeping. Then she bent her head over the tray of rings and chose her favourite, next to the one she’d made for Cora. White gold, with a blue diamond, bezel set low on the band so its surface was almost level with the rest of the ring. Simple, practical, and stunning. She was proud of that ring. Even if she’d never wear it herself in reality, she wanted to show it off.

Holding it up for him to see, she said, ‘How about we start with this one?’

* * * *

The ring Lily picked was utterly her, Alex realized. Simple but captivating, and just a little bit unusual. Was that the sort of ring she would have designed for herself? If she’d been given the chance, that is. Without thinking, he plucked the ring from her grasp and said, ‘An excellent choice, milady. Shall we see how it fits?’

It wasn’t until he’d lifted her left hand and slipped the ring onto her fourth finger that he realized quite what it meant. His heart racing, he jerked his head up to meet her gaze as he pushed the ring home. Her eyes were wide and green, caught in the moment like him. A pink tongue darted out to wet her lips, and Alex clamped down on the urge, sudden and overwhelming, to lean forward and capture her mouth with his.

In the past, he’d have done it. He’d have taken the perfect romantic opportunity, and won her over. Seduced her with the right smile, the right words, the right look. But he wasn’t that person, now. And besides, he’d never have done it with a ring. He’d always known that marriage, commitment, settling down… that had to be saved until it was the right person, in the right place. And being back home might have put him in the right place, but Lily Thomas couldn’t be the right person. Not least because she was engaged to marry someone else.

But still, he couldn’t shake the thought that this was exactly how it should feel to propose marriage. Terrifying, heart racing, arousing and perfectly right.

Except he wasn’t proposing, was he? He was supposed to be taking photos.

Dropping her hand, Alex swallowed hard. ‘Right then,’ he said, busying himself with his camera so he couldn’t see if her eyes were still wide and wanting, or if her lips were still parted in that sweet, alluring way. ‘Let’s get started.’

‘Right. Yes. Okay.’ Was it his imagination, or did her voice sound husky? Maybe he wasn’t the only one affected by the moment. ‘How do you want me?’

Naked under me,Alex thought, the image vivid and desperate in his head. How had this happened? He’d seen her twice in the last decade. How had she got so completely under his skin in so little time?

‘Um, just rest your hand like… that, perfect. Great.’ With a deep breath, Alex lifted the camera and started to shoot, focusing on the light, the framing, the angle. They weren’t going to be his best-ever photos, he knew. Hopefully he could fix them later, once he had them on his computer.

For now, he just had to get through the tray of rings between them without succumbing to his desires.

He just had to remember that Lily was engaged to someone else. That those weren’t his rings on her finger. That he didn’t want Lily for his bride anyway. He was looking for the steady, supportive wife his father had wanted for him. Not the wild child best friend of his cousin.

Focus. That’s what he needed. ‘Right. Next ring.’

It took hours to get through all of them, but Alex couldn’t bring himself to stop. He wanted to see every single ring on her slim fingers. Wanted her to see how every one of them was a better match for her than the one Edward had picked.

As the afternoon light faded into evening, they reached the last ring, and he smiled at Lily as he reached in for it, not realizing she was doing the same thing. She sucked in a breath when their hands brushed against each other. Unfortunately, the sound was followed immediately by the clatter of the shop door opening…

Want to read more of The Love Trilogy?

Room for Love

Amazon UK ~ Amazon US ~ Mills & Boon ~ Kobo ~ Nook ~ Blinkbox

An A to Z of Love

Amazon UK ~ Amazon US ~ Mills & Boon ~ Kobo ~ Nook ~ Blinkbox

Summer of Love 

Amazon UK ~ Amazon US ~ Mills & Boon ~ Kobo ~ Nook ~ Blinkbox

Weekend Fun

A Weekend Off

I always knew that the first half of this year was going to be busy. Then some new opportunities came my way and busy turned to frantic. I have deadlines rushing up to meet me at alarming speed… and I am having the best time meeting them! I’ve achieved so much in the last couple of months, and I know it will all pay off later in the year.

Apricot CrumbleThat said, sometimes we all need a break. So, this weekend, while the sun shone in the sky for the first time since 2013, and the puddles actually dried up for once, I took two whole days off. And, perhaps inevitably, did more from Friday home time to Sunday bedtime than I usually manage in a week.

This weekend I:

  • Walked to the train station with the daughter on Friday afternoon to meet the husband from his train home. Then we all walked together into town for dinner (and perhaps a glass of wine. Okay, two) before walking home again.
  • Watched the entire of Season 3 of Game of Thrones with the husband.
  • Cleared out my study (I’d just finished the first draft of a book and the room was looking somewhat… neglected. Or, you know, trashed).
  • Walked into town (again!) to take the daughter to spend her World Book Day voucher, and to have lunch in a coffee shop (one of our favourite things).
  • Took the daughter to see Frozen (my new favourite film).
  • Cooked smoked haddock gratins with spinach and creamy mustard sauce for the husband.
  • Made domino runs with the daughter for hours.
  • Cleared out the daughter’s wardrobe after I realised she was wearing age 3-4 trousers (she’s a tall 5 year old. Oops?)
  • Took the daughter clothes shopping, so she now has actual clothes that fit.
  • Sat outside for a pub lunch with the husband while the daughter had fun in the playground, and occasionally popped back for a mouthful of apple juice or some chips.
  • Went to the garden centre and bought shoes, cards, cake and biscuits (apparently they also sell plants. Who knew?)
  • Watched Wales lose against England in the rugby. Sulked for a while.
  • Stopped sulking long enough to cook roast chicken.
  • Cleaned the house, did laundry, and caught up on a variety of domestic chores I’d been ignoring while I got sucked into the book I was writing.
  • Had a pretend tea party with the daughter and a range of soft toys.
  • Cleared out the medicine cabinet and discovered that we have three half full bottles of Calpol, a wide variety of cartoon plasters and more shower gel than we can use in a year.
  • Read a book. (Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, possibly my new favourite book ever.)
  • Slept. A bit.

Domino RunSo, overall, a productive weekend. Which is just as well, as now I’m back at my desk and deep, deep, deep into revisions for the next week. After which, I’ll be writing again, then revising, then writing, then revising, and then it will be June. When I shall mostly be sleeping, I think.

But on the plus side, you guys have got a lot of books coming up! More info on all of them as soon as I’m able to share. In the meantime, back to work!

A Lot Can Change In A Year…

Stranded with the Tycoon UK CoverThis time last year, I was nervously preparing for the 2012 Festival of Romance in Bedford. It was my very first major writers event, my first time reading my work in public, my first time showing up and chatting to real authors as if I almost belonged there. The first two e-books in my Love from Wales series had been released from Lyrical Press that summer, and I had some lovely new business cards, but that was about it.

To make it even more nerve-wracking I’d just had an email from Charlotte Ledger, then an editor at Mills and Boon, saying that she wanted to meet with me at the Festival to discuss revisions to the book I had on submission from her. So basically, I was terrified constantly for about a week and a half.

Fast forward to today, this moment, right now.

Right now, I’m making plans for this year’s Festival of Romance, booking tickets and hotels and figuring out where on earth I’m going to park. And I’m every bit as nervous as last year, but for rather different reasons.

This year, I have actual books to take with me. I have new releases to promote, I have a book to finish and get to my editor, I have contracts for another couple after that. Charlotte has moved onto the fantastically inspiring Harper Impulse, but not before she made the call and signed me as a Mills and Boon author. I have a wonderful new editor there in the incredible Pippa Roscoe, who drives me to write deeper, better stories, and lends me DVDs so we can share our almost identical love of TV drama.

And that book? The one I met with Charlotte about, less than a year ago? It was released this autumn as Stranded with the Tycoon.

And I just found out it has been shortlisted in the Best Short Romantic Novel category of the Festival of Romance Readers Awards. 

So, yeah. A little nervous. And also wondering if I need to buy a new dress…

(Check out all the nominees – I’m in very illustrious company!)

A Little Bit Of Holiday Magic

A Little Bit of Holiday Magic

Today’s the day that my paperback Cherish Duo with Melissa McClone hits the shelves in UK shops! Even though my book, Stranded with the Tycoon, has been on sale over in the US and Australia since September, this is my first chance to actually see it in shops in my home country. Of course, given that I’m frantically trying to finish my next book for Harlequin Mills and Boon (my third) before I go on holiday next Friday, I’m not sure when I’ll get to go hunting for it on the shelves! So, if any of you UK dwellers spot it out and about, I’d love it if you could take a photo for me…

And don’t forget – you can still win a copy of this 2-in-1 in my Goodreads giveaway.

In case you’ve forgotten, here’s what it’s all about:

A Little Bit Of Holiday Magic

A Little Bit of Holiday Magic.

All widow Grace Wilcox wants is a fresh start for herself and her young son. When her truck spins off the icy road, her rescuer turns out to be hot firefighter Bill Paulson and even wary Grace can’t resist this Christmas hero!

Stranded with the Tycoon

Hotel tycoon Ben Hampton knows there’s fire behind workaholic Luce’s buttoned-up exterior and fanning its flames is an irresistible temptation. Luckily, getting snowbound in the countryside gives him the perfect opportunity to tempt out the real Lucinda Myles…

Buy it at:

Amazon UK

Waterstones

Book Depository

 

Missing summer yet?

Owl HatOwl Hat 3Owl Hat 2

I don’t know about where you are, but here in Hertfordshire I have unpacked the boots and winter coats. I’ve bought the daughter the sweetest little owl hat ever made, and am happily imagining crisp autumn walks, cosy evenings with a book and a blanket, and pub lunches with roaring fires. All while ignoring the reality of cold, wet days and the smell of mouldy leaves, of course.

The daughter, on the other hand, is already missing summer. In fact, she’s getting very specific in her wishes to rearrange the calendar to better accommodate her preferences.

To start with, she wanted it to be summer all the time. I pointed out all the great things that happen in the other seasons and she relented slightly.

“I wish it could be spring, summer, halloween, bonfire night, Christmas or my birthday all the time, Mummy.” Not quite as catchy as ‘I wish it could be Christmas everyday,’ but I can appreciate the sentiment.

Just in case you feel the same as the daughter in these matters, I thought I’d mention that the third book in my Love from Wales series, Summer of Love is out right now in paperback (which, trust me, was just as much as a surprise to me as everyone else!) and will be available as an e-book at the start of November. Set over one long, hot summer of weddings, it’s the perfect antidote to the autumn/winter blues.

Here’s what it’s all about:

Summer of Love by Sophie PembrokeIt’s only a summer fling…

Boutique jewelry designer Lily Thomas knows hating the boring ring her fiance gave her isn’t a good enough reason to end a seven-year relationship. Especially when settling down with Edward is the only thing she’s ever done right in the eyes of her mother–and her hometown. Besides, everyone else seems to be getting married: Lily’s best friend Cora, her cousin, her friends from work. So why not Lily?

But when Alex Harper, Lily’s high school crush, moves back to Felinfach, he shows her exactly why. She can’t pretend to be someone she’s not just to keep her fiance happy. It’s a terrible way to start a marriage, and a terrible way to live. Lily calls off her engagement, but she still needs a date to all the weddings crowding her summer calendar. Conveniently, Alex has a few weddings to attend as well. They agree to be wedding buddies, and soon the whole town is talking about them. If everyone’s going to talk anyway, why shouldn’t Lily and Alex make the most of it? As long as they both know it’s only a summer fling…

But maybe you’re more of an impatient for Christmas person, like me. In which case, I’ve got another offering for you! Out in the UK next month is my snowbound-in-a-Welsh-cottage romance, Stranded with the Tycoon. It’s already available in North America and Australia, and will be released over here as an e-book and two-in-one Cherish paperback with Melissa McClore’s A Little Bit of Holiday Magic at the start of November. But if you can’t wait that long, it’s available right now on the Mills & Boon website or, if you fancy trying your luck, you could enter my Goodreads Giveaway to win a copy of the Cherish two-in-one.

Here’s what you need to know:

Stranded with the Tycoon UK CoverThe man who sees her beauty…

Ben Hampton is the last man in England that workaholic historian Luce would ever choose to be stranded with. Tall, dark and infuriatingly arrogant, he’s also a reminder of her not-so-glorious romantic history—something she’s spent the past few years burying herself in work to forget.

Hotel tycoon Ben knows there’s fire behind Luce’s buttoned-up exterior, and fanning its flames is an irresistible temptation. Luckily, getting snowbound in the countryside gives him the perfect opportunity to tempt out the real Lucinda Myles!

So, whatever your mood, I’ve got a book to suit you this season!

Get Stranded…

Stranded with the Tycoon CoverToday is the official North America and Australian release day for Stranded with the Tycoon, my first Harlequin Romance novel! It’s available as a paperback and ebook in the States and Canada, and as a paperback 2-in-1 and ebook in Australia.

I’m so excited to have this book out in the world at last. It’s already had a couple of great reviews, but I’m desperate to see what my readers make of it.

It’ll be out in the UK in paperback as a Cherish duo and as an e-book later in the year, although I believe you can order the US paperback easily and reasonably through UK book websites.

So, what’s it about? Well…

Stranded with the TycoonThe man who sees her beauty…

Ben Hampton is the last man in England that workaholic historian Luce would ever choose to be stranded with. Tall, dark and infuriatingly arrogant, he’s also a reminder of her not-so-glorious romantic history—something she’s spent the past few years burying herself in work to forget.

Hotel tycoon Ben knows there’s fire behind Luce’s buttoned-up exterior, and fanning its flames is an irresistible temptation. Luckily, getting snowbound in the countryside gives him the perfect opportunity to tempt out the real Lucinda Myles!

And what are people saying about it?

Stranded with the Tycoon UK CoverRomantic Times:  4 1/2 stars and a Top Pick for September 2013!

With its well thought-out storyline, fans of passionate tales will want to read this one repeatedly.

Harlequin Junkie: 4/5 stars!

Stranded with the Tycoon is a beautifully written romance novel with a slow build up.The romance was based more on the conversations between the characters and how they thought about each other rather than their mutual attraction and passion.

Sweet DuoWant to buy it?

Here’s where to go:

North America:

Australia

UK

Fossil Hunting

The Daughter with an Ammonite

The Daughter with an Ammonite

The Daughter has never been particularly fond of dinosaurs. All the boys she’s friends with are – although they prefer superheroes – but she’s always maintained that dinosaurs are scary. Despite this dislike, she remains very concerned as to what happened to them. 

“There aren’t any dinosaurs any more, are there, Mummy? So where did they go?”

“Did all the dinosaurs die, Mummy? Why?”

And, eventually:

“Look, Mummy. Just tell me. What killed all the dinosaurs?”

I tried to explain that no one really knew for sure, although there were theories to do with meteorites and climate change and so forth, but I think she thought I was being purposefully vague. I’ve never quite been sure if the question bothered her so much because she wanted to be sure that, wherever they’d gone, they couldn’t come back, or if she wanted to check that whatever killed them couldn’t get her too. Or, maybe she just hates an unanswered question…

Anyway. Over dinner on Friday night the subject came up again, but this time with a slightly different twist.

“I wish I could see a dinosaur.”

The Daughter wishes many, many things on a daily basis, so we assumed this was just one more. I explained that you could see models and skeletons and fossils from dinosaurs in the Natural History Museum in London. The Daughter almost bounced off her chair in excitement.

“Can we go there? Tomorrow?”

The Husband and I looked at each other. Tomorrow was Saturday and, for once, we didn’t actually have anything planned. Yes, I was supposed to be fitting in a couple of hours writing somewhere, but…

“Okay, then,” we said.

Getting into London was an adventure in itself, at least for the Daughter. A 40 minute train ride into Kings Cross, brunch at the station and then the most exciting part of the whole day – The Underground Train. The Daughter clung to her pole and stared wide eyed at the array of people around her. She learnt to Mind The Gap and not to ask questions about people’s appearance until the person in question had left. Both very valuable lessons…

Reading her dinosaur book on the train home

Reading her dinosaur book on the train home

At the museum, we headed straight for the dinosaurs (of course) and I had a brief moment of panic. The Daughter didn’t seem terribly impressed with the massive Diplodocus skeleton in the main hall. Was the dinosaur exhibit going to be a huge let down?

Fortunately not. She ran around the opening section calling “Mummy! You have GOT to see THIS!” as I followed behind at a more normal pace. Then we climbed the stairs and made our way along the high level viewing platform thing, reading out the details of the skeletons we passed, until, up ahead, we heard a roaring noise.

The Husband and I exchanged another look. The Daughter has a tendency to be very, very afraid of things that make loud noises or make unexpected movements. Still, we’d come this far…

Turns out, the Daughter’s second favourite part of the whole day (after the tube) was the giant animatronic Tyrannosaurus Rex. Hand driers? Terrifying. Moths? Scary beyond measure. Enormous T-Rex roaring right in her face? No problem at all.

I have given up trying to understand the Daughter.

After the T-Rex, we descended into the main exhibition, where she finally got her answer to the question of the day. Or, rather, several answers. The museum confirmed my ‘nobody really knows’ stance, and she got to read through some of the theories. We discounted hayfever and allergies as a possible cause for mass extinction, and settled on meteorite with a side of climate change as the most likely option.

Satisfied, she declared it time to go to the gift shop.

We also took a look around the Earth section, where the Daughter gasped in delight at the giant escalator going up through a model of the earth. She twisted, pressed, stroked or pulled every single interactive part of the geology exhibit, and fell in love with the gemstones display (Much more “Mummy! Mummy! Look at THIS!! And THIS!!!!” and also: “Mummy, the Museum is the best place in the world, ever. Ever!”). She wants a Fire Opal desperately, and was very disappointed when the Earth Shop couldn’t supply her with one. She did, however, spend her pocket money on a set of glow in the dark planets that now hang from her bedroom ceiling, circling the light in the correct order and an approximation of actual distance from the sun. I expect they’ll attract moths.

As I carried her out of the museum, ready to go find somewhere to sit down, eat pizza and drink wine, I asked the Daughter how she was feeling, expecting her to say “Hungry” or “Tired.”

“Happy,” she said, and kissed my cheek.

I suspect we’ll be visiting the Natural History Museum again very soon.

A new look, and a new book cover!

Summer of Love by Sophie PembrokeThis weekend, the lovely Renee Rocco at Lyrical Press sent over the cover design for the third book in my Love from Wales series, Summer of Love, due out in December.

I’d been somewhat nervously awaiting this one, just because I love the first two covers in the series so much! When I had to fill in my cover art form for Lily and Alex’s story, all I could really think to ask for was: More of the same, please!

And that’s what Renee has given me, and more. I love the wedding theme, and the colour is just perfect.

In fact, I loved it so much, I thought it was time to give the rest of the site a spruce up not just in honour of the new cover, but for the two new books I have coming out this year.

I’ve rejigged the content a bit, added a page for my Harlequin Romance novels, which has a bit more detail about Luce and Ben, the stars of my September release, Stranded with the Tycoon, as well as pre-order links for the book. And, in case you hadn’t noticed, I’ve added a bit of colour to the site! Here’s hoping it’ll usher in a bright and sunny summer for us all, any day now…

Of course, if you’re missing the summer sun, you could always go read An A to Z of Love for scenes of seasides, smugglers and other things beginning with S. Warning: does contain seafood.

Room for Love cover

My Bookiversary!

Room for Love coverHappy Bookiversary to me! 

On this day, last year, my first novel, Room for Love, was officially released. I was, due to a slight scheduling error, stuck up a castle in Derbyshire at the time, trying to manage release promos and blog tours via the non-existant 3G connection on my phone, and squealing every time someone texted or messaged me to say they’d bought it.

Since then, of course, the second novel in the series, An A to Z of Love, has also been released, and the third book, Summer of Love, contracted for release this December. I’ve also got two books coming out in the Mills & Book / Harlequin Romance line – the first, Stranded with the Tycoon, is up for pre-order on Amazon UK and Amazon US right now, ready for its September release. Cover should follow soon… And I’m going to finish writing the second one any day now, promise!

But if you want to see where it all began, pop on over to the Avalon Inn and visit Carrie and Nate, as they try and save the Inn from bankruptcy, satisfy the demands of the ornery Seniors, and dance to the music of Mr Bing Crosby…

Romance Writers Reviews: 5/5 Stars

Sweet, sexy, and then sweet again. “Room for Love” is a beautiful romance story.

Amazon UK: Room for Love

Amazon US: Room for Love

 

Teacup Cake

All The Cake In The World

Or: Why My Friends & Family Are The Best Ever

This weekend, I turned 33.

I’m a big believer in making the most of birthdays, as anyone who has had to listen to me going on and on about this one will testify. I know some people prefer to ignore them, or at least ignore the fact that they’re getting older, but I like to celebrate. Not just making it through another year – although that is always worthy of cake – but also everything that’s happened over the last twelve months, good and bad.

This year, I’ve been incredibly lucky. The good has far outweighed the bad while I was 32. I signed book contracts with two publishers, we moved to our lovely new house and made great friends here, the daughter started at her fantastic new school and, just last week, we had confirmation that she has a place in the Reception class there from September.

Yep, 32 was a damn good year. Especially since my friends and family were on hand to help me celebrate in style, and usher in 33 with plenty of cake.

The cake started last Thursday, when the daughter and I went round to a friend’s house and I was presented with this:

Teacup Cake

This was, and I quote, “Just a little something I knocked up this morning.” It won’t surprise you to learn that the friend in question was the same one that made the daughter’s incredible Alice in Wonderland cake for her birthday.

Anyway, three slices later (it was chocolate cake. Incredible, ganache topped chocolate cake.) I was definitely feeling the birthday spirit. Which was just as well, because the cake didn’t end there.

I’d planned a full weekend of celebrations, so on Friday we drove up to Wales to my parents’ house, arriving just in time for a glass of wine and a catch up, before midnight, and the birthday itself, were upon us. Saturday morning I was treated to a smoked salmon and scrambled egg breakfast, along with my presents, before Nain and Pops took the daughter off to the zoo with Uncle Kip and her cousin Robin.

Apparently they had fun:

Zoo Trip Zoo TripZoo Trip

Essentially, my parents gave me 24 child free hours for my birthday. And boy, did we make the most of them.

The husband and I headed up to Manchester, to visit our very lovely, very dear friends’ Kate and Pete. Since they’ve known us since childhood, they fully understood the importance of The Birthday. And so I was greeted with the most beautiful Coptic-bound notebook, a cup of tea, and an afternoon sipping wine in the garden with other people cooking for me. The husband got to play with fire, which always makes him happy. Even the sun seemed to get the importance of shining for me on my birthday:

Birthday BBQ Birthday BBQ Birthday BBQ Birthday BBQ

Then they took me out to a cocktail bar later that evening, and didn’t complain when I was my normal, boring self and turned down all the exciting drinks in favour of a gin and tonic. They even bowed to my greatest birthday girl wish – to go home around midnight, put our pyjamas on, eat cheese on toast and watch Doctor Who before bed. At which point, they also brought out cake number two – an incredible white chocolate cake, covered in beautifully plump raspberries. It even had candles! Sad to report, there are no photos, mostly because it didn’t last that long.

On Sunday, we had Mexican scrambled eggs and pots and pots of tea, lunch at a lovely local pub, and a small walk around the public gardens next door, before we sadly had to say goodbye.

They did send us home with a present for the daughter, though:

Lava Lamp

Back at Nain and Pops’s house, we had a delicious Sunday dinner waiting for us – along with yet another cake. The daughter and I took turns blowing out the candles – which required the traditional double singing of Happy Birthday (once normally, once at double speed) – and I made my last birthday wish.

I wished that 33 be every bit as good as 32. Maybe, if I’m incredibly lucky, even a little bit more fantastic…