IT’S MONDAY, ANOTHER SLICE OF LUDLOW LIFE . . . Aaaaand she’s back . . .



Greetings, my awesome readers,

I hope this finds you well after the weekend, and raring to go for the week ahead. It’s been a while since we heard from Rosie … She’s back …


Working alone, Rosie Ludlow is busy, busy, at Sweet Sensations running against a deadline to deliver a surprise order of four dozen cupcakes for an engagement party before five o’clock . . .

*The kitchen smells of toffee, chocolate, and vanilla icing. Even though the place is rocking to Ella Henderson praying by a river, baby Mila is sound asleep in her amazing top of the line stroller. White rubber clog tapping to the beat, Rosie’s wearing chef whites, her inky curls tied back beneath a cap and net. With her tongue caught firmly between her teeth, she uses quick flicks of the wrist to pipe tiny spears of white meringue icing to make a ball effect for the topping of the chocolate cupcakes. It takes a steady hand, precision and a good eye to place a red cherry made of icing with a fragile chocolate stalk on the top. Since they were fiddly little bastards, she’d made the cherries the day before. When Nico Ferranti strolls through the door looking for all the world as if he’s just walked off a photo shoot for GQ, she sends him a lightning grin, nods to the pot of coffee on the counter top*

“Coffee’s hot, big boy. Help yourself. Let me just finish up here.”

Nico pokes his head inside one of the eight boxes of white card, checks out the cupcakes. “Amazing. You are a clever girl, cara. But why are you working so late?”

“It’s a favor,” she says, her focus one hundred per cent on the job at hand. “And they’re paying me big bucks for this favor. Bronte offered to help, but Eve’s cutting another tooth and it’s not going well. Her little cheek is all swollen and hot. Poor baby.”

Making himself right at home, Nico helps himself to a cup from the cupboard, pours himself a coffee from the pot. “Si. The twins didn’t suffer as much as la mia bambina. We’ve had to resort to medication to bring down the inflammation.”

*Rosie finishes the final cupcake, lays the cherry on the top, and carefully places the work of art in a box. The box lids are all sitting waiting. By the time she’s placed gold and black Sweet Sensation stickers on each box and ties them with black satin bows, Nico’s grinning at her quick fingered expertize. She checks the huge clock on the wall, turns the music down. While Nico pours her a coffee, she pulls the net and cap from her head to reveal inky curls that fall in a tail between her shoulder blades. She accepts her coffee and closes her eyes as she takes a sip of the black stuff. Heaven*

“Thanks,” she says, leans her hip against the stainless steel counter top, and eyes him appreciatively from the top of his immaculately cut hair, the sharp threads (Italian of course) to his hand stitched shoes. “Are you coming or going from a meeting?”

“Coming,” he says in the deep Italian accent that always makes her mouth curve. Man, with Nico as her husband her pal Bronte has got herself a hunka-hunka burnin’ love. His next words wipe the smirk from her face. “I have been meaning to stop by and have a little chat with you.”

*Little chat? Uh oh. Rosie recognizes the signs, that sharp eyed look, the way his mouth has gone firm. Something’s up*

“Everything okay with Bronte? Things okay at home?”

Nico nods. “Everything is mostly fine. Except for Sophia . . .”

Rosie blinks and can’t help but grin widely. “What’s up with my favorite niece? Been cutting hair again? Putting toys down the toilet? Painting toenails that don’t belong to her?”

Nico’s mouth curves, but he shakes his head. “No. But she’s quoting statements from ‘Auntie Rosie’ almost every time she opens her mouth. And some of the statements, cara mia, are causing her mama and me a few bad moments.”

Not in the least bit fazed by the way he’s glowering at her, Rosie sends him a cheeky grin. “Yeah? That’s my girl. Inquisitive. Smart as a whip.”

Nico’s dark brows lift. “Si. But it seems she knows a little too much about certain things, like child birth, and . . . sex. She was happy to inform a car load of children including her BFF Emily, that according to auntie Rosie, Tonio, just like me, is gonna break hundreds of hearts with his love muscle . . .” Nico waits until a spluttering Rosie stops laughing to continue, “then she told the same audience that women, and I quote, are cursed each month and put their men through hell. Men, according to auntie Rosie, do not know they are living.”

Wiping her eyes on kitchen towel, Rosie takes a breath. “Omigod. The little monkey. She’s been listening to adult conversations again. What the hell is she like? You’ll need to break her of the habit, Nico.”

Nico blinks. “Si, but . . .”

Rosie shifts to top up their cups. “Thing is, Sophia is super bright. She can write everyone’s name. Her reading age is way ahead of her peers. She’s also overcurious and nosey. The trick for you and Bronte will be to channel that investigative trait within her into something positive. I’ve been thinking maybe horse riding to balance all that physical and emotional energy. Or ballet or gymnastics . . .”

Nico shudders at the thought. He cannot imagine what his daughter would be like if she was doing gymnastics. The conversation is not going Nico’s way. He’s here to ensure Rosie bites her tongue around his daughter. On the other hand, he can’t resist the complete lack of guile in Rosie’s dark chocolate Bambi eyes. Hell, he doesn’t want to upset a woman he adores. In truth, he doesn’t want Rosie to be anything other than Rosie, so he treads carefully and tries again, “I, we, feel Sophia is too young to understand certain things like how a woman has eggs in her ovaries . . .”

Rosie nods enthusiastically and jumps in with, “Exactly. You and Bronte are doing an amazing job with your children, but especially with Sophia. It is very important for adults to answer a child’s questions with the facts and total honesty. A penis is a penis and a vagina is a vagina. I simply do not understand why some adults, especially men, cannot be honest about procreation and how the human body works. And I’ll tell you something for nothing, Nico. Not telling a child the truth can set them up for an epic fail when they hit the hell that is puberty. It’s dangerous. Get Bronte to tell you the story of when our mothers were at school in the seventies. In their year was a girl of fifteen who’s first sexual experience with a boy, who just as clueless as her, ended up with her at A&E because of an infected navel. Apparently, the poor kids believed they had sex via the belly button. I am not joking. Our mothers drummed the facts of life into us as soon as we began asking questions.”

Dio mio. Nico knew his jaw was on the floor, knew there was perspiration beading on his top lip. “Si, but . . .”

*Baby Mila stirs, and her mama is at her side in an instant*

“Aw, did you have a good sleepy sloppy?” Rosie coos as she nuzzles the baby. She sniffs her diaper, makes a horrible face. “Phew. A diaper bomb.”

Nico can’t help but grin at how happy Rosie is since she married Alexander and became a mama. Today his mission has been as Rosie would say, ‘An Epic Fail.’ But he loves her. Perhaps he’ll just need to live with her Big Mouth because at the end of the day he wouldn’t change her for the world.

“I’ll leave you to it,” he says.

Rosie jiggles Mila, grabs the diaper bag hanging onto the stroller handle. “Drop in any time. Try not to worry about Sophia. If I were you I’d forget about a convent for her, too. The planet is made up of fifty per cent men, Nico. Better Sophia learns how to handle the suckers. When she grows up, that girl will have the world by the balls.”

And that, Nico decides as he strolls to his car, is exactly the problema. By the time Sophia Ferranti becomes a fully formed new adult, his hair will be white from worry and stress. As he drives towards home, he nods. He’ll handle anything his baby girls will throw at him because, at the end of the day, he’s Italian.




Can’t fault Rosie’s own brand of logic.

Nico didn’t stand a chance!

The pre-order links for SEAN should be up in a couple of days (it was my birthday last week, so I got side-tracked by my wonderful family.)


Christine X

Time for another slice of Ludlow Life

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Apologies for being a little bit late with this post, it should have gone live last Friday, but I got caught up writing a story……

You guys are amazing. I’ve had readers here and on my Facebook asking for the ‘sneak peeks’ to be made into a book. *CC’s eyes grow big* Omigod. What the hell are all y’all like? I write these totally out of my head without editing etc. To turn them into a book will take lots of work and the scenes will change, too. So I’m not promising anything, but let’s see how we go. Thing is, that on Facebook and my blog I can’t write ‘real’ lurve scenes. I need to close the bedroom door. Anyhow, here’s the next slice of Ludlow life. (You guys kill me, seriously, you do. And I say that with love.)





*Dinner time. Family time. The gang’s all here, except for…  Nico strides through the door in his dark business suit looking for all the world like an ad for GQ. Immaculate. Sexy. Hot*


“Sorry I am late,” he says, and dumps his laptop bag on the couch, shrugs off his suit jacket, his silk tie, rolls up the sleeves of his pristine dress shirt. He walks to the sink to wash and dry his hands. Then he moves to the high-chair to kiss his baby girl, and a Sophia who yelps when he gently rubs his five-o’clock shadow on her soft cheek. Next he scrubs his knuckles on the top of a grinning Luca and Tonio’s dark curls. Last, but not least, he grabs Bronte in a big hug, pops a kiss on the tip of her nose. And misses the way her emerald eyes narrow as she takes a sniff of his neck, then a deep inhale. She sits back and studies him very hard as he takes his seat at the table.

*Bronte serves the food, her mouth a tight hard line. Nico chats to the kids*

“Had a good day?” he asks Tonio who is settling well into his new school.

Tonio nods as he digs into pasta with meatballs. He swallows. “Si. I have been picked for the football team. I’m playing on Saturday. Can you come?”

“Of course.” Nico lifts a wine bottle, pours himself a glass of Chianti from his own vineyards. “I wouldn’t miss it.”

“Can I come, too?” Luca pipes up.

Si,” his papa says and sends him a wink.

“I don’t wanna watch stupid football,” Sophia says as she nibbles on her pasta. “I’ll stay home with mama.”

Nico shrugs. “Nessun problema.” He turns to a silent Bronte, and frowns when he sees her set face, and cool green eyes. “That okay with you?”

“Fine,” she mutters.

*He blinks because he hasn’t been married to this woman for nearly seven years without understanding that when it comes to his wife ‘fine’ is a tricky word, especially in that particular tone. A tone that means, ‘I’m so far from fine I’m gonna poke your eye out with a white hot needle and fry your puny brain.’ OR ‘You’re so deep in excrement and don’t even know it.’ Nico receives the message loud and clear that it appears he’s in trouble. He racks his brain, discounting forgetting their wedding anniversary or her birthday (as if), and came up with… nada*

“You okay?” he asks, sends her a cautious smile, and receives a stony face in return.

She smiles, but it doesn’t reach her eyes as she looks around the table at their four offspring.

“Fine,” she says in a tone that brings a cold sweat out on Nico’s brow.

*Okay. She’s said ‘fine’ twice. This is bad. He’s forgotten something vital. Even the kids have gone quiet, picking up the you-are-a-dead-man vibe. Tonio gives Nico big what-the-hell-have-you-done eyes. Nico sends him an I-dunno shrug in response. The rest of the meal passes off without a knife being thrown or the world as Nico knows it coming to an end.  Two hours later the kids are bathed, brushed and in bed. Except for Tonio. He’s reading Nico a chapter from Moby Dick*

“Does the whale get him in the end?” Tonio asks Nico.

“Wait and see.”

“I bet it does,” Tonio says as he closes the book hands it to his papa. He cosies beneath the comforter, and Nico gives him a big hug and wishes him night-night.

*Still mulling over Bronte’s strange mood, Nico showers, changes into his favorite tatty jeans, soft long sleeved thermal, and in bare feet pads into the family kitchen to look for her, and have a clearing of the air. Whatever he’s done, he’ll fix it. Bronte’s sitting at the table with her laptop open. The hand holding a pencil tap, tap, taps the table in a rhythm that tells him she is not a happy bunny*

“Wine?” he asks her as he makes his way to the vast stainless steel American fridge.

“Not for me,” she says. The tone, icy, has his brows rise as he takes his own sweet time to study her face. Hmm. Someone has a stick up her ass. He pours himself another Chianti, all the while pondering on what it was he’s done that he doesn’t know he’s done. And comes up empty, except for the distinct flutter of irritation uncoiling in his gut.

“Are the clipped responses and cranky face your version of Chinese water torture?” he asks, not bothering to hide his annoyance.

Her response is to toss down the pencil, sit back in her chair and fold her arms, while her eyes bore holes into his. “When were you going to tell me Elena Rocas is back?”

*Elena Rocas was Jacob Del Garda’s ex-personal assistant. And Bronte is not a fan. Neither is he. Nico blinks once, stares into space for at least ten seconds. He shakes his head*

“I have no idea what you are talking about. I haven’t seen that woman since she was thrown out of my office.”

*Bronte rises, stalks to stand up close in his personal space. Her chin jerks in a way that makes his body hum, in a good way. She’s seriously pissed off with him, for something he most definitely has not done, and for some weird reason, it turns him on. Little devil*

“Then how come I can smell her on you? Only one person I know wears JOY and that’s Elena Rocas. AND her lipstick color is on the collar of your white shirt. Careless of her,” Bronte snarls.

*Nico again racks his brain. The only woman he’s had direct contact with today is a famous actress who’s a VIP guest at Ludlow Hall. She’s booked a three day break to use the Spa facilities. She’s beautiful, and not a day under seventy years of age. AND it appears his beloved wife is jealous. A frown creases his brow. Doesn’t Bronte know he’d never look at another woman? Haven’t they been down this road before? He rubs the sudden ache in his flat belly. Didn’t the love of his life trust him?*

To be continued………

Hehehe, do you really think I’d do that to you?

Would I?
Yes, I would.

But I won’t……




NEXT EVENING  at The Dower House


*Our favorite loved-up couple are not speaking to each other, much to the amusement of their children. Nico is home early from work. He’s showered, shaved and changed into his comfy jeans and another long sleeved thermal. His feet are bare*

“What did I do?” he asks Bronte as she clears the table. The kids are sitting in their chairs and watching them like big-eyed hawks, in a way that makes him send them an irritated frown. Isn’t it time they were in bed? Bronte lifts baby Eve from her high chair.

“Why should I have to explain why I’m upset with you?” she asks in a snippy voice. “The fact you appear not to understand WHY just proves to me you’re not even sorry for what you did.” She walks out with the baby.

*The kids eyes are glued to his face. Does anyone have THE first clue what is going on with her? No? Neither does Nico. Poor sod. He gives her a couple of hours to cool down. He sips a glass of Chianti and tries to work out what has just happened. Two things are clear: 1. Bronte is still mad with him. 2. He has no idea why she won’t let him explain himself about the lipstick on his collar. By the time he’d got to bed last night, she had her back to him and appeared sound asleep. Maybe he’d made a mistake not to wake her and clear the whole thing up? Sighing, he checks the locks on the doors, the windows, turns off the lights and heads for their bedroom*

“The perfume and lipstick on my collar belong to Evelyn Rice, the actress, she’s staying at The Hall for a few nights,” he says as he locks the bedroom door. Bronte is sitting on the top of the bed in jeans and T-shirt. Her arms are folded and she wears a face like a smacked ass.

“Well, why the hell didn’t you tell me last night? Why let me fume all bloody day for no reason?” she demands, her cheeks pink with what looks like embarrassment. Good, he can live with embarrassment.

“Because you deserve to suffer,” he says with steel running through his tone. She sends him big sorry green eyes.

“I’m not the same woman you fell in love with,” she says in a low voice filled to the brim with regret. “I’ve changed. These days I can’t do sex on demand. Hell, I can’t even find time to slap on make-up or style my hair… Now we’ve got the kids I can’t even sleep naked anymore and I WANT to sleep naked… I’m no longer ME. I’m a wife, a mother, a business woman, with no time for me.” She buries her face in her hands while Nico frowns as he watches her. “Oh, God. I’m such a selfish cow.”

*Nico moves to sit on the edge of their bed, sips his wine as he mulls over her words. It’s pretty clear all work and no play makes Bronte a grumpy girl. It’s also clear his wife needs a break. In one way she’s right. She does work too hard. In another way she’s dead wrong because she’s so beautiful she doesn’t need cosmetics. Plus, she’s a wonderful wife and mother, who apparently loves to sleep naked. Why did he not know this? He places his wine on the bedside table. He stands and studies the way she’s lying on her side, curled up in a ball like a little girl. At this moment she forcibly reminds him of Sophia. He bites back a grin at her little yip of surprise as he grabs her ankles and yanks her down the bed*

“What are you doing?” she gasps, and slaps at hands that are working fast unbuttoning her jeans to drag them off her ankles along with her panties. Her T-shirt comes next, and then her bra. Her hands clutch her girls. Her eyes go big as she watches him strip. “Are you crazy?”

Si. Crazy for you.” He slides into bed, pulls her against his hard length. “You are right. I like sleeping with you naked. Tomorrow we will burn all your sleepwear.” When her jaw drops, he roars with laughter. Then he kisses her soft mouth.

*One thing leads to another… (use your imaginations)….. Later, much later…*

“You don’t trust me,” he begins, determined to clear the air.

*Bronte’s sprawled on top of him, and Nico’s statement has her rest her weight on her elbows on his chest and stare down into his wonderful face. She realises he’s serious.*

“Of course I trust you. It’s the women I don’t trust. And I don’t care if she is seventy and wears JOY perfume and hot red lipstick, age is no barrier to lust.” She laughs as he rolls her beneath him.

“I am very pretty, no?” he says outrageously.

“Trust me, it’s not your face she’s interested in, pretty boy.” Her emerald eyes go wide. “It’s your big Italian salami.”

His laugh peals through the room as he shakes his head. “My salami only salutes for you.”

Her snort of derision has the flat of his hand spank her bare ass cheek. “Ow, are you trying to tell me that when an attractive woman gives you eye – and yes, pal, I’ve seen them myself – it doesn’t give you a tingle?”

“No,” he says without a moment’s hesitation.

“Seriously?” she studies his face. “Not even a little twitch?”



Si. Only you. From the moment I saw you, you captured my heart… and my big Italian salami.” His mouth on hers stops her gurgle of laughter. He shifts to stare down into her face. Dio, he adores this woman. “From now on we sleep naked every night.”

“Is that so?”

Si, so,” he growls low in his throat.

“Even in winter?”

“Especially in winter.”

*She rubs her body against his, and sure enough his salami salutes*

“I love you so much, Nico,” she whispers.

Ti amo, cara mia.”


Until next time, my darlings, be good.

If you can’t be good, be careful.

If you can’t be careful, I’ll buy you a pram. (As my old gramma used to say.)

Christine X







Some of you might remember the original Desert Orchid story featuring Charisse and Khalid that I began in weekly episodes on this blog… two years ago (how time flies). And some of you might have wondered what on earth happened to Charisse and Khalid. Well, the story has sort of morphed, as my stories are wont to do, into something bigger. Something more exciting. Something a little bit… different.

First of all let me make clear that at the heart of the tale is a romance (this is me you’re dealing with). The story is a nail biting suspense thriller, with plenty of twists and turns, that readers (they tell me) did not see coming. In this book I get to shoot, poison, kidnap and kill. THE best fun in the world! I also emotionally torture two characters who had gone through more than their fair share of grief and torment. I just tormented them even more. I even got to deal with a couple of sociopaths – and let me tell you, writing those guys was dealing with a different kind of human.

Towards the end of editing the story, there were lengthy discussions between my editor and H and myself regarding a change of direction for the series. Deep in my heart I’ve always wanted to write a continuity series – where each book stands alone as a complete tale – with two characters strong enough to take centre stage right through the books to link the series. With Charisse and Khalid I’ve found those characters. I know them better than I know my own family. And so their story, along with their close friends, siblings, and the story of their country, Onuur, and the people who inhabit that land will carry on. The El Haribes will continue to fight against unseen forces including a terrorist War Lord, people trafficking, the drug trade and much more. And all the while, against all the odds, and personal sacrifice, a deep and abiding love prevail.

It all begins with Desert Orchid where Khalid and Charisse meet. And just let me say that the road to true love is a pretty rocky one. Against the background of falling in love, the couple deal with the reality of an unseen enemy who has waited many years until the time is right to strike. There’s heartbreak, death, betrayal and a relentless evil who will not stop until it gets what it wants. But what strengthens the couple’s initially fragile bond, is a very real selfless love that is growing between them. A love that will be tested again and again.

And since it’s Mother’s Day in the United States of America, this post is dedicated to all mom’s everywhere. Especially my own mom, Ruth, who died very suddenly before the book was completed.

Big hugs,

Christine X





Hi guys,

As many of you know, my mom passed away very suddenly this year.
Which meant everything creatively went all to hell in a hand basket. The grand plan had been that Desert Orchid would be out by February, followed by The Fall of Jacob Del Garda. Well, the plan had to be re-jigged and put aside. But today I can give you the Desert Orchid cover reveal. The story is in final proofing. And when it goes live in the stores I will be sharing the links and sending out newsletters.

But before the worst happened, I’d been approached by a bunch of crazy romance authors to be a part of their Invitation To Eden continuity series. Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to work with Avery Aster, Lauren Hawkeye, Steena Holmes, Jennifer Probst, Suzanne Rock, Tawny Stokes. Julia Kent, Adriana Hunter, Ava Conway, Sharon Page, Kathryn Fox, Eliza Gayle, Daire St. Dennis, Carly Phillips, Erika Wilde, Mari Carr, Roni Loren, Opal Carew, Lauren Jameson, Vivi Anna, Joey W. Hill, Sarah Castille, R.G. Alexander, Jessica Clare, Eden Bradley, Delilah Devlin, Kimberley Kay Terry, Marian Tee.

My story DELICIOUS AND DEADLY is up in December, but I’m ‘hoping’ for it to go live on pre-order in September. The first Invitation To Eden story – Master Of The Island is free and the first three books are out now (links below). There will be three linked stories out each month until December. And just let me say that these girls know how to paaaaaarty!

Here are all the covers and don’t they look fabulous?


Last year it was all about angst and sexual tension in romance novels, with both Hopeless by Colleen Hoover and Entwined with You by Sylvia Day topping the lists. But Spring calls for new books to load up your Kindle.

Culled from hundreds of titles I asked today’s bestselling authors what novels they’re not only personally reading but recommending to their inner circle of besties. These are the industries most anticipated MUST READ BOOKS for the Spring and Summer. Whether you want to laugh till you cry, find a new poolside page-turner or get turned on and ahem…’ya know, these delicious love stories deliver the goods in all the right places and just at the right time…when you need it most.

top 20 must reads

#MustRead #JustReleased #OneClick

One click via Amazon with each book that interests you by tapping on the cover. Go on! After you’ve stocked up ENTER THE RAFFLE at the bottom of this post to win cash, prizes and author swag.

FREE READ. Download it already!

“Jet off to Eden with me and my Manhattanites for new adult fun,” says Taddy Brill. 😉

If ‘ya need some extra lovin’!

Curvaceous gets her dark & mysterious…

Continue reading

THE FALL OF JACOB DEL GARDA – Ludlow Series book 5 – preview.

Ludlow Hall Series, designed by reader Jane Aschtgen Bowen
Ludlow Hall Series collage, designed by reader Jane Aschtgen Bowen

It’s not like me not to have a cover for this one, but we’re struggling to find the right model. Anyway, for you avid readers who’ve been asking about Jacob and want peek and a preview of what’s coming. Here’s the prologue. I don’t usually write prologues, but in this case it was required since readers have met Jacob before and know what he’s like, so I’ve had fans ask me what happened to him to make him the way he is. Plus we meet him in The Trouble With Coco Monroe, which means I’ll be inundated with queries.

Here’s the answer – enjoy!!

The Fall of Jacob Del Garda

A Ludlow Hall Story, book 5.


‘I’m sorry, Jacob. But I can’t do this. I can’t go through with it.’

Gabriella’s voice was no more than a whisper.

Her fiancè’s spectacular face swam in front of her eyes.

And she blinked to clear them.

He simply stared at her as if she’d sprouted another head.

Blanking out her surroundings, the penthouse apartment of The Prince Felipe Hotel in the island of Bimini in the Bahamas. This was their dream home with its carefully chosen pieces. Pieces they’d shopped for together. Yet another wedding gift, beautifully boxed with a waterfall of silver ribbon lay unopened and forgotten on the table between them.

‘I do not understand, querida,’ he said carefully. His deep voice went rough and he cleared his throat. And those dark, dark eyes were riveted on her face. ‘You want to postpone our wedding. Or you do not want to marry me, ever?’

Colour rose and fell from high cheekbones leaving him too pale.

Her heart fractured.

Gabriella clung to the back of the chair for support. A corner of her mind registered the fact that her knuckles were bone white.

She wouldn’t think about why her life, her future, with a man she loved so much was lying in tatters. If she thought about it, she knew she’d never be able to go through with this.

Even now the mere thought of the pain, the harm, she was inflicting on a man who didn’t deserve either, made her sick to her stomach.

But the alternative made her straighten her spine and look him dead in the eye.

Jacob Del Garda was a hard man. In business he gave no quarter, she knew that. But with her he’d been patient, so loving and giving. Dark eyes the colour of burnt chestnuts narrowed into hers, while a crease lined his usually perfect forehead. He had a smooth lean face that complemented the aristocratic carve of his cheekbones and his long, thin mouth. His nose was slightly aquiline, which had always appealed to her. The hair, raven black, and those brooding eyes always made her think of one of those statues of a fallen angel.

She was used to seeing wonderful looking men. In her line of work a carefully maintained body was a given. At twenty-three she needed to workout four times a week to stay lean, healthy and to keep her body in shape.

A body she’d taken utterly for granted. And body that had let her down in the worst possible way.

Bitter tears stung again. Oh God, please help her do this.

The buzz in her ears became louder and she forced herself to take a shallow breath.

Her eyes stayed on his.


She saw the blow hit him and read a toxic mix of pain, confusion and desperation.

Her legs threatened to give way so she held on tight to the chair.

Be strong, you can do this, she told herself.

‘This is madness, Gabriella.’ Jacob’s deep voice cracked as he paced and ran a shaky hand over his hair. He wore a lightweight suit in pale grey, immaculately cut by an up and coming tailor from Savile Row. His crisp shirt was pristine white cotton, the windsor knot of his silk tie perfection.

He shook his head.

Dark eyes lasered into hers. ‘I know I have been busy with the new acquisition. You knew how it would be.’

She could almost hear his clever, analytical mind clicking through the probabilities of what had gone wrong.

Now he stopped. ‘You have been quiet and distracted, lost a little weight. But I put it down to nerves. I know you wanted a small wedding.’ He frowned, rubbed the back of his neck, that strong jaw. He stared hard at her. ‘Is that what this is all about? I agree things have got way out of hand. My father is enough to drive any sane person crazy. Has he …?’

‘No,’ she said quickly. She adored his father. ‘It has nothing to do with him. I’m sorry …’

Her voice faded. She could have written a letter, run as fast as she could. The thought had crossed her mind more than once. But that would have been sheer cowardice.

Jacob deserved to be told face to face that the future he’d dreamt of, of having a wife, a family, with her, could never be.

Of course, she could never tell him why because he’d never let her go. He was an honourable man with a highly developed sense of duty. He’d stick by her, of course he would.

But she was the one who couldn’t live with it, refused to even consider giving him a choice in his own future, his own destiny. She loved him too much to see him suffer, to see him look at other couples, normal couples, living a normal life. To see him wish that he’d chosen differently.

Jacob’s eyes went into dark slits, became cool and she shivered.

Those eyes missed nothing as they searched her face.

‘I know you can handle him. You can handle anything.’ But the tone had gone cold now. ‘Why?’

Gabriella licked parched lips.

‘I made a mistake. I’m so sorry. I can’t tell you how sorry I am. But I …’

Her voice broke.

‘Stop saying you are sorry,’ he exploded and moved towards her.

Gabriella winced and took a step back, fear skidding up her spine. If he touched her she would break and never, ever, let him go.

His eyes went wide and she recognised hurt battling through utter disbelief.

‘You are scared of me?’

Shame scorched her cheeks.

Nausea crawled into her throat.

She was deliberately hurting a good man. A man who would stand by her, she knew he would. And that was precisely why she needed to let him go.

‘I would never harm you. How could you even think of such a thing,’ he said, and his Spanish accent became stronger as he looked at her as if he’d never seen her before. ‘Gabriella, we love each other. Do we not?’

His eyes, dark with pain pierced a shaft of agony right into her heart.

Sending up a prayer for forgiveness, she lied straight to his face.

‘No. I don’t love you,’ she whispered. And rubbed the burning ache below her breast bone.

She’d thought she’d experienced anguish, but it was nothing compared to this.

Jacob’s breath came hard and fast, and she watched him fighting a war of attrition to keep it together, hands clenched at  his sides.

With trembling fingers, she took off her diamond and platinum engagement right, placing it on the table.

He flinched as if she’d slapped him.

‘Keep it.’ The raw torment in his voice mirrored the spear of agony in her chest.

But she merely shook her head and on shaky legs moved past him. ‘What about the house?’ he asked.

Their new home was almost complete, but she couldn’t think of it.

Truly she was in the middle of a waking nightmare, had been for ten hellish days, reliving over and over again the exact moment when her whole world had collapsed.

Don’t think about it, not now.

‘It’s yours,’ she whispered. ‘It’s the least I can do.’

‘Just like that? That is it? No discussion?’

Rage replaced pain in those dark eyes and Jacob’s fury lanced a heart already in pieces.

Gabriella knew that if she didn’t get out now, she never would. The only thing keeping her together was the unbearable knowledge of what their future held. And she drew strength from that.

She picked up her coat, her purse, and moved towards the door.


With her hand on the handle she paused, the pleading in his tone almost broke her.

She could not bear to look at him.

‘I want the truth. Is there someone else?’

For a second she stiffened, blinking with shock, then realised he’d thrown her a lifeline. What difference would one more lie make? And there would be no going back now. Because she knew Jacob would never, ever, forgive betrayal.

Her conscience was screaming now, asking what the hell she was doing?

He would be there for her in sickness and in health. But that was the whole point, wasn’t it? Thank God, she’d found out before they’d taken their vows. He deserved to be happy. Deserved to have a future, to have all the things he dreamed of, things she couldn’t give him.

‘Something like that.’

The shocked gasp behind her had her open the door.

‘Damn you, Gabriella. God damn you straight to hell,’ he said through clenched teeth as his voice finally cracked.

Hot tears blinded her.

‘I’m already there, my darling,’ she said so softly he could never hear her.

With a shaky breath Gabriella Dolman straightened her spine and stepped through the door to an uncertain future.


So that’s the answer to all the questions.

God, you’re an impatient lot. I like that about you!

Christine x



It’s read an ebook week on Smashwords.

And I’m thrilled to be taking part, thank you Mark Coker.

Today through the 8th of March, A Stormy Spring, Run Rosie Run and book two of my Vampyre series, Dirty Little Secrets is taking part and on sale at Smashwords with 50% OFF.

Have you ever downloaded books from Smashwords before? If not, you should. They have a vast library, and ALL their ebooks are ready to go in EVERY SINGLE EREADER FORMAT OUT THERE. It’s fabulous. And once you’ve purchased the book, you can download it in any format you like, as many times as you like. For instance, I have books both on my Kindle app on my computer, my iPadMini and also on my Nook. It’s fabulous. (Have I mentioned yet that it’s fabulous? Because it totally is.)

So don’t be afraid to buy from Smashwords just because it’s not Amazon or Barnes & Noble or iTunes (all of which, BTW, partner with Smashwords)! They’re a great resource for finding eBooks, and they are definitely a good friend to independent-published authors like myself.

Okay. Now that you’re totally sold on Smashwords, here’s how to take advantage:

Follow the links below to get to the Smashwords pages for A Stormy Spring, Run Rosie Run and Dirty Little Secrets. Take note of the coupon code listed there.  The coupon code for all of my books is REW50.  Click ‘Add to cart’. Enter coupon code. Click on ‘checkout’. Voila! You now own your book. Scroll down to see the different formats, and pick the one(s) that’s right for you.

A Stormy Spring

Run Rosie Run

Dirty Little Secrets

What are you still doing here? Go get your copies.
And if you already own copies, this is a FANTASTIC time to give some away as gifts. Talk about easy gift-giving! Not that you need it, but you totally have my permission to gift to anybody and everybody you know.

I hope your Sunday is particularly fabulous.

Christine x



By awesome reader, the lovely, Jane Aschtgen Bowen via Facebook

By awesome reader, the lovely, Jane Aschtgen Bowen via Facebook

Happy Valentines Day!

The links to a free copy of Big Trouble In China are HERE!

My thinking behind the title of this post is that the word procreation was a better choice, more polite, than shagging. I could have gone for beget, breed, conceive, create, make, multiply, reproduce, sire, spawn. But since this is me you’re dealing with I went for shag.

According to certain people in the know in the scientific community and certain organised religions, the urge to shag is a primal one, meaning to shag is the reason we were put on earth, which would explain a lot.

Have you ever seen mismatched couples? I see them all the time. As a romance writer, I’m nosy an avid observer of the human condition.

So while I was watching H measure out four ounces of wholemeal pasta per person (we’re on the 5.2 diet) for our pasta and veggie bake he’s making for dinner, I got to thinking about the primal urge.

‘Perhaps,’ I said, ‘This is why a woman can end up with a well padded accountant from Pensacola who’s afflicted with folliculitis (I’ll wait while you Google it, it is not pretty.)’

H just gave me the look. And for authenticity I thought you might like to know that H has a deep, gravelly voice that has been likened to Sean Connery, there’s a lot of rolling of ‘r’s in our house.

‘The reason a woman might end up with a guy like that,’ he said. ‘Might be an overconsumption of warm Pinot Grigio at the office party, which might have resulted in a little surprise.’

Hmm. He has a point, didn’t think of that.

Undeterred, I ploughed on. ‘Okay, but the thing is that today women are not supposed to have hang-ups about shagging. We’re supposed to be able to express ourselves with gay abandon, liberated sexually, living in the new age where men no longer rule with their love muscles. But I don’t think that’s what’s happening at all. It never ceases to amaze me what women tolerate these days.’

He dumped the pasta in frantically boiling water, stirred, turned on the extractor fan before sliding a tray of chopped red onion, courgettes, peppers into the oven.

‘It never ceases to amaze me what I tolerate these days,’ he muttered. I ignored it because he mutters all the time.

While he opened a carton of passata, emptied it into a glass jug, added dried oregano, black pepper and crushed garlic and stirred, my mind was mulling over how couples who’ve been together a looooooong time do it.

‘The reason most couples have been together for years is because they’re fairly honest with each other,’ I said.

His brows rose. ‘This, from the woman who demands honesty in all things.’

‘The odd little porky pie (lie) isn’t a big deal. Look at how men always say, You look lovely, to their wives when their girlfriends are secretly wondering, What on earth were you thinking wearing that? It’s what makes a relationship last. But it’s vital to get the big things out in the open like, No I do not want your mother staying over every weekend. And look at us, we never let things drift! If we have an issue we discuss it.’


‘Look at us,’ I said again. ‘Two weeks after we met, you asked me to marry you. And you were a confirmed bachelor.’ I’ve always secretly felt a bit smug about that.

‘In those days getting married was the only way to get regular sex from an attractive woman,’ came the shocking response that burst my romantic bubble.

Stunned, I just looked at him, the love of my life, and my temper started to simmer right along with the pasta.

‘Are you telling me.’ You might like to know that my tone matched Siberia. ‘You simply married me for my body?’

By this point he drained the pasta, dumped it back in the pot, took out the roasted veggies and stirred. Then he poured everything into a heated oven dish, poured over the passata, added baby tomatoes and grated cheese. Put the dish onto a tray and placed everything in the oven for twenty minutes.

He looked at me, caught the expression and blinked.

‘Among other things,’ he said. ‘Mostly, it was your quick brain and how you made me laugh. You still make me laugh. But, yes, marrying you for your body ticked a big plus in my box. My life is much more fun with you in it. And although it would be a hell of a lot more peaceful, I can’t imagine life without you, so you can lose the face.’

And then there was a romantic interlude. Use your imaginations!

So there you go, my theory is correct, we cannot help ourselves but procreate.

Go forth and shag with abandon on Valentines Day!

And, since I feel nothing but love for you guys here’s a link to a fabulous idea by horror author Samantha Warren, a blind date to match readers with authors of their favourite genres, there are plenty of mystery, psychological/legal thriller, romance – sweet and steamy, paranormal, sci-fi and even a non fiction author too. So pop over and leave your name on the link below and you’ll be matched up with an author. The author will email either a Smashwords code or email a gift of a book to your eReader of choice. Sound good??? The link is HERE


But I want to know what you guys are up to for Valentines day, will it be romantic with its logical conclusion or do you treat it like any other day?

You know I adore hearing from you!

Christine x


Okay, so I’m not actually in Malta.

I’m a guest on the wonderful blog of writer Natalie G. Owens and she lives in Malta, so it’s the next best thing.

But before I chat about what I’m doing in Malta, I wanted to share with you guys something a lovely reader sent me on Christmas Eve.

by reader, Jane Aschtgen Bowen

by reader, Jane Aschtgen Bowen

Isn’t the pic fabulous?

About a month ago Natalie asked if she could interview me on my writing process for her blog and quite innocently I said yes.

What popped into my inbox was an interrogation interview the length of War & Peace.

When Natalie read it she decided to spread the interview over two days. So if you’re interested in how, why and where I write and how I come up with characters and story lines then get yourselves over to Natalie’s blog HERE.

The lovely Natalie is also offering a Rafflecopter on her site where (since it’s season for giving) ten lucky winners will win all three of The Ludlow Hall series and book one in my Vampyre Legal Chronicles series, Big Trouble in China.

Christine x


Christmas pranks and poo

Unless you’re one of the Bah Humbug brigade, you might have noticed Chrimbo (Christmas) is coming!

And I promised you faithfully that once Rosie was out there normal service would be resumed on this blog.

Come closer because do I have a Chrimbo treat for you.

Meet the beautiful, the talented, the wonderful award winning author Tamara Ward who has come along to talk about Christmas poo. Yes, poo. Tamara’s one of those people who looks perfectly normal, sounds perfectly normal… Until… you read her books. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read one of her heroines and shook my head at the situations she gets them into and howled with laughter. And that’s the thing about Tamara she makes us laugh. If you’ve never read her then you are in for a treat!

Take it away, Tamara!

Tamara Ward

Tamara Ward

I’ve always loved a good prank. Perhaps it was bred into me as I come from a family of pranksters. Having a prank pulled on you meant you were loved.

My prankster training began when I was young; my mom encouraged me to put toothpaste and tape on my father’s face as he napped on the couch. That was before I whipped mud into a glass of water and presented it to my dad as chocolate milk. I remember the moment, my dad outside in the dry New Mexico heat, his face sweaty, the look he gave me when he thought I cared so much for him that I mixed up a cool treat especially for him, his eyes surprised at my thoughtfulness and full of love. (That look made me abort the prank before he tasted the beverage, so instead of getting a spanking I escaped with a glare, my gut twisting with guilt.)

No, I’m not sweet. And it was good that my dad learned this early in my childhood so I could get the disappointment over with sooner, rather than later.

As a teen, my dad and brother ganged up on my boyfriends, feeding them plastic burgers and asking them how they liked them, pulling the boys in a tube behind our boat, promising they’d give the boys a fun ride when really they had the boys clinging to the tube handles while they were hurled around at breakneck speeds. They boys would call me to complain of whiplash when they woke up the next morning! And of course I played along.

After I moved out of my parents’ house, my history of pranks continued and expanded beyond those involving family members. I met a friend who liked pulling pranks as much as me. Once, we taped paper over a cute boy’s apartment door and filled up the space between the door and the paper with popcorn. When he opened the door the following morning all the popcorn cascaded into his living room. Nothing says “I like you” like a mess on the carpet as you’re hurrying out of your apartment late for a class.

As for Christmas pranks, my brother began our family’s tradition of passing the Christmas poo along with a prank holiday gift. Actually, that was his gift to me one year, a Christmas poo on a keychain. That is, South Park’s Mr. Hankey, THE Christmas Poo, on a keychain. According to South Park, Mr. Hankey, the Christmas poo, “comes out of the toilet every year,” visiting girls and boys who have fiber in their diets.

At the time my brother gifted me Mr. Hankey on a keychain, I found that particular episode of the crude, politically incorrect South Park pretty funny. So did my brother. But a plastic turd on a keychain – what was my brother thinking? How could he possibly think I’d want something like that for Christmas? So the next year I returned his gift to him, along with another prank gift. And back and forth it went. One year, my brother gave me a shirt with his photo on it. The poo keychain had been wrapped inside the shirt. The next year I gave him a shirt with a photo of me wearing the shirt with his photo on it, as well as Mr. Hankey.

Another year, I recorded my cat meowing on one of those handheld recorders. (Pepper used to be my brother’s cat, but the cat ultimately chose me over my bro as I didn’t throw it down the stairs and see if he stuck the landing repeatedly.) It took days of following my cat around and working up to about 30 minutes of cat noise. I taped the recorder in a sizable cardboard box and hit the “play button” when I was about to reach my folks’ house. Then I turned on one of those battery-operated balls that rolls around randomly. I sealed the box and pretended nothing was up, stuck the box under my folks’ tree, and watched my brother freak out as he heard the meows and saw the box moving. He really thought I was returning his cat to him! Nope. It was just the Christmas poo.

Another year, my brother returned Mr. Hankey to me by placing him inside my baby’s diaper and having my mom tell me my baby smelled like he needed a change. I opened the diaper, and there was Mr. Hankey! This year, it’s my turn to give Mr. Hankey back to my bro. He and his wife are expecting their firstborn, and in anticipation of this event I kept some flyers I found particularly helpful from when I was figuring out how to handle a baby. One of those flyers is entitled “Poops of the Breastfed Baby” and is a glossy, full-color flyer showing photographs of baby poops. Each photo has a caption explaining what you’re seeing. So there’s, “Sometimes baby’s first poop is black and tarry.” And “Breastfed babies’ poop is often yellow and runny.” There’s at least a dozen photographs. I framed the flyer and taped Mr. Hankey to the glass on the front. 😀 Hope my bro appreciates all the poo that will be coming his way, and soon.

Speaking of Christmas pranks, my latest release features just that (though nothing nearly as disgusting as Christmas poo). In Jade O’Reilly and the 12 Days of Christmas, private investigator Jade O’Reilly thought her worst Christmas dilemma involved finding the perfect gift for her significant other. That was before she agreed to help Agnes Sturgis, the crankiest old biddy in all of Sweetwater, NC. Every day, for the twelve days leading up to Christmas, Agnes wakes up to a yard filled with Christmas decorations. But in Agnes’s opinion, “they’re not decorations; they’re property damage!”

Finding the person responsible for the scenes of yuletide merriment that Agnes demolishes every morning is not easy. With stealth and skill that rival Santa’s elves, the decorator strikes Agnes’s yard and eludes Jade and her surveillance equipment. Will Jade catch the decorator before Christmas morning?

The ebook is available in all formats for $0.99! AmazonB&NSmashwords, Kobo




So, do you have any good pranks, Christmas or otherwise, to share? Let me know! I’ll be dropping by before and after my Sisters in Crime meeting today, and I can’t wait to hear any naughty or nice pranks that have made an impact on those around you!

Drum roll, foot stomp for Tamara Ward, ladies and gentlemen!

Thank you for coming on my blog today. Please come back, we’re a lovely bunch!



A wise man once said,

 ‘Be careful what you wish for because you might just get it…..’ 

Pastry chef Rosemary Gordon had worked hard her whole life to be successful… Now the wedding cake business she runs with best friend Bronte was winning awards life should be perfect…

But Rosie has a deep, dark secret…

And the steadily bubbling chemistry with Bronte’s brother, Alexander Ludlow, has suddenly become way too hot to ignore…


009 Rosie


On Amazon & Smashwords

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, most of you will know that I’ve been sweating slaving away editing, revising, editing, revising Run Rosie Run.

Well as of about three hours ago, she’s gone out into the sticky fingers of my readers.

Strangely enough you might think this is a time for euphoric joy and relief. But not for me. I’m feeling sort of sad and bereft, even though I’ll be working on her and the other characters in the first three books over the rest of the series.

One of the things I’ve always wanted to do is to explore the relationships in Reckless Nights In Rome,  A Stormy Spring and Rosie as they progress. In Run Rosie Run I return to Bronte and Nico from the first book in the series and see how their relationship is coping with life’s little challenges.

So it’s not as if I’ll never see Rosie again. But gosh, I’m going to miss her crazy, zany personality.

Do you guys have fictional characters you’d like to meet again?

If so, who are they?

Share them with us, you know I adore hearing from you.

And going forward we’re celebrating Christmas on this blog!

Christine X