A wake-up call – it’s the Ludlow Hall sneak peek…..

WAKE-UPCALLLUDLOWHALLSNEAKPEEK

Hello, my darlings!

It’s Friday and time for another slice of Ludlow life with our favourite family, The Ferranti’s…..

The Dower House – it’s two a.m. Nico’s cosy in his vast bed and all snuggled up to the love of his life. The Egyptian cotton sheets are crisp and smell lightly of lavender. His big body’s spooning and holding her close. Very close. With every deep inhale, his system seemed to absorb the scent of her hair, her skin, her very breath. Si, he cuddled to curve around her, and slid a heavy leg between hers, he was a very lucky man.

Right on cue his libido, tucked inside his Calvins, stirred.

His low moan was heartfelt.

No.

No.

No.

Behave, he told his lurve muscle.

Bronte’s exhausted.

His body settled and he slid deeper into the land of nod.

 

The night was still and clear and freezing cold.

A half moon spilled silver light through a gap in the heavy curtains.

Nothing stirred, not even a mouse.

Everyone was asleep—or were they?

 

The sound of the fire alarm had Nico explode out of bed, into jeans and a sweater.

He shoved bare feet into running shoes.

And Bronte wasn’t far behind him.

Shoving her arms in a black cashmere sweater, her head popped out of the neckline.

“I smell smoke.”

Emerald eyes wide, she grabbed her phone and dialled the emergency services.

Then she lifted her chin and, like a she-wolf, sniffed the air.

“Do you smell smoke?”

Si.”

Shouts from Tonio and Luca had Nico run into the hallway, and here the smell of smoke was strong.

Both in pj’s their dark curls sticking up on end, Luca clutched a yapping Jimmy Chew in his arms, and Tonio carried a howling baby Eve wrapped a thick blanket.

He handed her to Nico.

“Quick,” Nico said, his brain speeding through likely scenarios. “Remember the fire drill.” Two pale-faced little boys stared at him, as if mute, as he rubbed the toddler’s back. “We go to the guest bedroom, out the window, onto the roof of the laundry room. Mama is calling for help.” His head spun around, and his racing heart seemed to screech to a stop before knocking against his ribs. “Where are Sophia and Emily?”

“Their beds are empty.”

“Omigod,” Bronte said.

Nico turned to her and thrust a screaming Eve into her arms. “Get the boys out, and I’ll find them.”

Heart pistoning in his chest, he spun and headed for the stairs and the kitchen.

Smoke belched through the open kitchen door into the hallway and drifted up, up, the stairs and into the cavernous roof space.

When he skidded to a halt in the kitchen-living space, he saw a weeping Emily dressed in her Elsa from Frozen nightgown, tucked into a corner of the sofa, her little face sheet white.

And the perpetrator of the night’s drama, his seven year old daughter, eyes streaming and gasping for breath, was standing on a chair dragged next to the black granite worktop, and frantically waving a dish towel over the entrance to a stainless steel toaster oven which belched dark grey smoke.

Nico whistled low through his teeth, pulled the electric plug from the wall, slammed the door to the toaster oven shut and grabbed his daughter by the waist. On his way to the kitchen door, he scooped up an Emily crying for her mummy, and headed through the boot room.

As he opened the door to the driveway, he thanked God when he found the rest of his family intact and, by the look of them, scared to death and blue with cold.

The sound of a fire-engine and ambulance, blue lights flashing, roared up the road and into the driveway.

Two firemen grabbed a girl-child each and handed them to the paramedics who got them into the ambulance to check them over. Meanwhile, three other fire-crew prepared their hoses. The leader entered the house. He didn’t loiter. When he flung open a kitchen window and popped his head out, he yelled to the crew,

“Need a fire blanket. Toaster oven.”

Immediately, all tension left the men.

They began rolling up their hoses and chatted to Bronte.

“We’ll open all the windows to let the smoke out.”

Her brain reeling, Bronte nodded.

Clutching a sobbing baby girl to her breast, she was shaking so hard, her teeth rattled like castanets in her head. On trembling legs, she jogged to the ambulance, to find Emily wrapped in a blanket and Sophia being given oxygen and checked over by paramedic, Susan Henshaw. Bronte had gone to school with Susan, and she found her eyes stinging as she caught her eye.

“Never a dull moment with this one,” Susan said.

Bronte puffed out her cheeks. “Tell me about it.”

She studied her daughter’s white face and the way her breath wheezed in and out.

“We’ll take Sophia to A&E just to make one hundred per cent sure she’s okay. Smoke inhalation can be nasty.”

Nico arrived and took the baby, his face pale as he watched Sophia cough so hard, she struggled for breath. “They were making toast,” he muttered, the vision of of the way his daughter had tried to fight a fire kept flashing in his brain. Dio mio, things could have been a lot worse. “Rosie and Alexander are on their way to look after the kids.”

And just as he spoke, a black shiny Range Rover sped up the drive.

Before Alexander had switched off the engine, a wide-eyed Rosie, wearing leggings tucked inside ankle Uggs, and one of Alexander’s hoodies over her pj’s, was out the passenger door and racing towards the ambulance.

“Who’s hurt?”

Susan poked her head out of the ambulance door and flashed Rosie a grin.

“Ah, I see the gang’s all here. Sophia’s inhaled a bit of smoke. Emily’s fine. A little shaken up, but her oxygen levels are good. We’re taking Sophia in, just to make sure she’s okay.”

Rosie puffed out a relieved breath.

“Okay. Gimme Emily.”

 

As Rosie carried Emily back into the house, the child wound her arms around her neck. “We were hungry and made toast.”

Rosie popped a kiss on her pale cheek. “Yeah, and nearly burned the house down.”

“We didn’t want to wake anyone. We wanted toast and peanut butter.”

When Rosie entered the kitchen-living space, the evidence spread around the worktop told its own story. Slices of wholemeal bread, toasted to a variety of degrees, were spread over the worktop. Clearly, the girls hadn’t had much luck in their endeavour. The toaster oven was buried in a fire blanket.

“Who’d have thought a toaster oven could cause this amount of mess?”

With his helmet tucked under his arm the fireman nodded.

“Everything electrical in a kitchen can be a hazard, especially in the hands of a child. On a positive note, it was clear they had a fire escape plan.” He jerked his chin. “There’s a fire extinguisher on the wall, but no way a child could use it. Everyone needs a fire blanket or an extinguisher in a kitchen. Preferably both, neither are expensive. And everyone in the house should be shown how to use them in case of an emergency.”

Rosie nodded and rocked a sleepy Emily.

“It’s certainly a wake-up call.”

***

Six hours later….

When Bronte and Nico, carrying Sophia, opened the door of the house and entered the kitchen, the reek of smoke still hung in the air.

His knots in his belly went tight at the thought of what might have been.

A hollow-eyed Rosie had Eve and baby Mila in their high chairs and was feeding them breakfast. The kids looked bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and none the worse for their evening excursion.

“Coffee’s ready,” she said.

Nico winked as he took his daughter upstairs.

Meanwhile, her best friend simply slumped into a chair and rested her blonde head on her folded arms.

Rosie poured her a cup of the black stuff, and then shifted to give her a shoulder rub.

“You’ve had a bad scare.”

“I don’t know what I’m going to do with that child,” Bronte whispered.

Rosie made a face. “My mother used to say the same thing about me.”

Bronte lifted her head. “You were bad.”

“To the bone.”

Bronte laughed, which had been Rosie’s plan all along. “God, do you remember the time we climbed onto the barn roof to see if we could touch the clouds?”

Rosie grinned at the memory. “Five years old and Stoooooopid.”

Bronte took a sip of her coffee, and stared unseeing through the glass sliding doors into the garden. “We’ve had a lucky escape.”

“What we’ve had is a wake-up call,” Rosie said and took a seat at the table. “I’ve already been online and ordered fire blankets for this kitchen and mine. Something a child could easily use if they found themselves confronting an emergency.”

Bronte reached out and took Rosie’s hand, and squeezed. “Thanks. I don’t know what I’d do without you.”

Rosie squeezed her back. “We’re family. We do what families do.”

 

Nico entered, and a made a face.

“It is going to take time to get rid of the smell of smoke.”

He took time to study his wife’s exhausted face, then picked her up and sat with her on his lap.

She rested her weary head on his strong shoulder.

“When Sophia and Emily have had a long nap, we will need to sit them down and have a serious talk about touching electrical appliances…. again,” he said, his voice deep and growly.

Bronte heaved out a sigh. “What’s the answer, punishment?”

“I think,” Nico said, rubbish his cheek on her head. “The fright they gave themselves, and us, may be punishment enough.”

“Can I just say one thing?” Rosie asked.

Nico nodded. “Anything.”

Rosie bit down hard on her bottom lip.

“Your toaster’s…. toast.”

 

FINE

 

Nothing like a little kitchen drama.

Don’t forget NO RULES is out today. We’re just waiting for the Google Play links and I’ll do an alert here and talk to you live right NOW on my Facebook author page!  A new release is always a huge feeling of excitement tinged with hot white fear. It never gets any easier.

Love and hugs,

Christine X

Time for another sneak peek…

emily's a hoot!

 

It’s Friday and it’s Ferranti time, and time, dear readers, to grab a coffee…

Bronte’s in the car on her way home from the school pick-up. In the car with her today are, Tonio, Luca, Emily and Sophia. She’s had a good and productive day with Rosie at The Dower House where they discussed and tried ideas for new mini-muffin recipes. When the kids return home they’re in for a treat. It’s the end of a busy week, the kids are bound to be tired. All is quiet in the car, until…

“My mummy says that because I brush my teeth until they’re squeaky clean, I’m a Good Christian,” Emily said. Bronte had to smile at the child’s high and soft voice. At this, Sophia stared hard at Emily—a look which made Emily shrug. “I am a good and kind person.”

“You are,” Sophia agreed. And Bronte wished some of Emily’s goodness and kindness would rub off on her best friend. Then Sophia held up a finger. “But, you don’t wannabe a doormat. You need to find a happy medium.”

Luca frowned at his twin. “What’s a happy medium?”

“How do I know?” Sophia said. “Everyone has their own happy medium.”

Luca folded his arms. “I don’t get it.”

Sophia sent him a bland look. “Well, we can’t say you’re a Good Christian can we? Because you don’t brush. You suck the toothpaste out of the tube.”

“Ew,” Emily said.

Luca’s face burned. “I don’t do that anymore,” he roared.

“Ew,” Emily said again, and added more fuel to the fire. “Your teeth will rot and go black in your head and fall our.”

Sophia nodded, her lips pursed in deep disapproval. “No girls will kiss you with bad breath.”

“I don’t have bad breath,” Luca roared again. And to prove it he heaved a big breath over the girls. When both slapped a hand over their nose and mouth, he glared and glowered. “I do NOT!”

“Jesus Christ,” Emily said in a stage whisper filled with awe and wonder, “Can see you.”

 

“Now, now,” Bronte said, staging an intervention before things got physical in the back seat. “Settle down while I’m driving.” And out of the corner of her eye, she caught Tonio’s head-shake and wide grin.

“Anyway,” Sophia said. “We have our own family chapel at Ludlow Hall. So Luca can go along and kneel in the phew and talk to Jesus and God and the Lords.”

“Pew,” Tonio corrected from the front seat.

“Whatever. And do not interrupt me please, Tonio.” Sophia instructed. “Luca can go along to our chapel and chat to the Holy Ghost and confess his many sins…”

Luca’s head swung around, his dark curls bounced, his eyes flashing. “I don’t have many sins. If you want to see a wicked girl, you just look in the mirror, Sophia Ferranti…”

Undeterred, his sister continued, “… And beg for forgiveness.”

“I think it’s really cool you have your own chapel,” Emily said in her soft breathy voice as she poured oil on troubled waters.

“It is,” Sophia agreed. “We have lots of bodies buried there.”

Emily’s eyes bugged in her head. “Really?”

Sophia nodded like a wise old owl. “Yup. Lots of old bones from the Ludlow family for hundreds of years.”

“Is it spooky?” Emily wanted to know, a constellation of freckles standing out against her pale skin.

Sophia thought about it. “I dunno. It doesn’t feel spooky.”

“The chapel has lots of ghosts,” Luca said. He pressed his fist to his chest. “I feel them in here. But papa said they’re friendly ghosts because they’re our family and they love us.”

Aw,  Bronte smiled at that. How sweet was her husband?

Meanwhile, Emily’s eyes were like saucers. “Like Caspar? He’s a friendly ghost.”

Sophia made a snort of derision.

“Luca Ferranti, you’ve never seen a ghost, ever. If you did, you’d scream like a girl.”

“Would not!” her twin roared.

“Would tooooooo!”

“Okay! That’s enough. I’m driving,” Bronte reminded the twins.

“Yeah, you don’t want mama to crash the car and then we die and end up ghosts, do we?” Luca hissed to the sister from hell.

A sister who made a horrible face and hissed right back, “Stoooooopid… boy!”

 

All was quiet.

Silence reigned supreme—until…

Bronte brought the car to a halt on the gravel driveway at the rear of The Dower House.

She turned to beam a lovely smile on her children.

“Here we are! Home safe and sound. Hands up who wants a hot chocolate with marshmallows?

Four hands shot into the air.

Bribed with sugar, it worked to keep the peace every single time.

The kids gathered their backpacks from the trunk and barrelled into house.

“Hey.” Rosie grabbed them in a group hug. “How are my favourite people in the whole wide world?”

Hanging up her lightweight duck down jacket and toeing off her sheepskin ankle boots, Bronte flashed her a wink. “They’re all going to take off their shoes and wash their hands, like Good Christians.”

 

As they trooped out the door and up the stairs, the twins still bickering, Rosie turned to Bronte. “What’s all that about?”

Bronte, organising ingredients for the promised hot chocolate took her time to respond,

“Do you find Ludlow Chapel spooky?”

Rosie blinked. “Ah, place of worship. Good Christian. Spooky—gotcha.” She thought about it. “It has a certain vibe, a sort of frisson in the atmosphere. But lots of really old places have that.”

At the huge stainless steel stove, Bronte held a wooden spoon and slowly stirred the milk, added coco powder.

“I go to the Chapel on birthdays and talk to mum and dad. I light the beeswax candles and stare at the candle light and let my mind go free. I swear I can feel them sitting right next to me.”

Rosie’s brown eyes filled and she moved around the granite worktop to give her best friend a big hug. “They’d have got a such a kick out of your brood. I miss them, too.”

“I believe they’re always with us.”

“Anything’s possible,” Rosie said.

The sound of footsteps on the stairs had Bronte shake her head and laugh. “All this talk of ghosts and family bones buried in the chapel has made me sentimental.”

 

“And here come the starving hoard,” Rosie said as the kids gathered around the table and eyed a large covered plate. She caught the pushey-shovey going on between the twins. “If you all sit quietly, you’ll receive your just reward. No fighting, please, Sophia and Luca.” Then, like a magician, she removed the plate cover and grinned at the collective ooh’s and ahh’s. “We have dark chocolate, milk chocolate, white chocolate, and… chocolate.”

Bronte laid a laden tray of white porcelain mugs filled to the brim with mini-marshmallows. “And here’s hot chocolate to go with all that chocolate.”

Emily beamed as she scooped up the sweet treat with her spoon. “This is the best muffin I’ve ever tasted. Thank you, Bronte.”

“You’re most welcome, Emily.”

“At breakfast this morning, papa was so tired,” Tonio told the room at large, “he yawned so wide his jaw cracked.”

Emily turned to him and her look of utter love and devotion made Bronte and Rosie look at each other and go, Aww.

“Coffee,” Emily said, her blue eyes twinkling. “He needed coffee. My daddy says a yawn is a silent scream for—coffee.”

When everyone laughed, a thrilled Emily turned to Bronte and Rosie.

“Wanna hear a joke?”

Rosie bit down hard on her bottom lip and nodded. “Hit me with it, Em.”

The little girl stared right into Rosie’s eyes and said, “Decaf.”

 

Once the laughter had died down, Bronte ran a hand over Emily’s red curls.

“You’re coming out of your shell, darling.”

Emily nodded. “My mummy said it’s because Sophia’s a good influence.”

Her mouth edged with chocolate, Sophia nodded and accepted the accolade as if it was her right. “I’m Italian.”

 

FINE
Like Bronte, I’m having a really productive week, writing wise.

I’m on a roll and working on the next Ludlow Hall story – Gregorio Ancelotti and the woman who only wants him for his body and refuses to commit. Guess who wins?

Plus, I’m more than half way through the first draft of Our Rules, and it’s clicking along at a pace, too. AND I’m working on a couple of Big Projects in the background.

Don’t forget No Rules is available on pre-order.

The story goes live everywhere next Friday – 26th January.

It’s when a story’s about to go live that the nerves kick in, a bit like stage-fright. Doesn’t matter how many books I write the anxiety never ends.

You guys make it all worthwhile!

Hugs,

Christine X

Another slice of Ludlow life with Nico and the kids

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READ IT FREE HERE

Happy Monday, my lovelies,

After all the excitement of the weekend, here’s something to make you smile.

Another scene from the busy lives of the Ferranti family.

NICO AND THE KIDS IN THE CAR ON THE WAY TO THE DOWER HOUSE

*Nico and Tonio are in front, while Luca, Sophia and her best pal, Emily, are sitting in the back*
Easing the car around a tight bend, Nico shoots Tonio the side-eye, and grins. “You played well. I am proud of you.”
Tonio makes a face, gives a jerky shrug of a skinny shoulder. He spits on his palm and proceeds to clean grass stain, mud and blood from his skinned knee. “Si, but we lost by one goal.”
Si, but the team never gave up. You fought to the bitter end,” Nico says. He glances at Tonio’s sulky mouth, bites down hard on his bottom lip. He can’t bear the boy’s bitter disappointment. But such is life. “Why don’t we do a pit-stop for burgers?”
“Yay!” chorus Tonio and Luca.
“Mama doesn’t like us having burgers,” pipes up Sophia. She turns to look at a wide-eyed Emily. “Unless she makes them herself. And Luca is not allowed soda, he throws up everywhere. It’s totally gross.”
*Nico makes a face. How did he forget Ms. Big Ears with her big mouth was sitting in the back seat. Busted. Bronte’s gonna give him hell, but he can’t back out now and disappoint the boys*
“Mama won’t mind this one time,” he says.
“My mummy says fast food is full of complete crap. It gives you heart desees and cancer, and alls climbers,” Emily says.
*Nico racks his brain to work out what ‘alls climbers’ might be*
“Alzheimers,” Tonio says helpfully.
“Auntie Rosie says a Big Mac is the work of the devil,” Sophia says as she watches the world go by out the window.
*Since there was no good answer to that, the guys in the front keep schtum. Nico wonders why the hell he didn’t keep his mouth shut about burgers. All is peace and quiet, until….*
“My daddy,” Emily begins. “Says that mummies have a special zipper in their tummy and that’s how a baby is born.”
*Nico and Tonio go utterly still and stare unblinking at the road ahead with wide eyes*
“He lied,” Sophia says with the grim authority of a person who knows exactly what she’s talking about.
*Dio mio, is all Nico can think as his mind goes blank and a cold sweat breaks out on his top lip*
“The baby comes out a mama’s vajayjay,” Sophia says with a relentlessness that has Nico’s sweat turning to ice. “With my own eyes I saw pictures in a book in Auntie Rosie’s bedroom after Mila was born. They were totally gross. Lots of blood and poop. It was disgusting. I’m never ever in my whole life ever having a baby.”
*In the rear view mirror Nico sees Luca turn a pale shade of green. He swings the car into a handy rest stop and leaps out the door. He’s just in time to grab his son before Luca’s breakfast is tossed into the hedge. Without being asked Tonio climbs out of the front seat and into the back. Luca is better travelling in front, less likely to get carsick*
“Feeling better?” Nico asks, wiping his son’s white face with a hand wipe.
Luca nods. “I’m okay. It was just…” he shudders.
Si, capisco.” Nico understands exactly how the poor child feels.
*He pats Luca on the back and shoots a dark look to his daughter. A daughter who is sitting there like the Queen of all she surveys, as if butter wouldn’t melt. Meanwhile little Emily, a red headed fairy with wild corkscrew curls and a constellation of freckles anointing her pretty face, is all flushed cheeks and big blue eyes staring up at Tonio as if he’s a rock star. Dio mio. Nico wonders why he hasn’t gone straight home? He clicks the seat belt around Luca, hands him a plastic bag, just in case, and jogs around the bonnet to get into the drivers seat. As he pulls into the road he decides he needs a very stiff drink*
“Are you gonna get married one day, Tonio?” Emily whispers, hope a living, breathing, thing in her voice.
Before Tonio can respond, his sister does it for him. “Nah, he’s gonna be a world famous footballer, and date supermodels and film stars. My Auntie Rosie says if he’s anything like my papa he’s gonna break hundreds of hearts with his love muscle.”
*Cue a deadly silence. And Nico Ferranti swears to Sweet Baby Jesus and Bhudda and all God’s in the known Universe he is going to strangle Rosemary Margaret Ludlow with his own two hands*
Meanwhile Luca frowns, turns to his papa. “What’s a love muscle?”
“It’s a penis,” Sophia says, still clueless about the bombshell she’s dropped into her papa’s world as she stares out the window.
“My mummy says little girls are not supposed to talk about private parts. It’s naughty,” Emily says.
“Your mummy is quite right,” Nico growls from the front seat, desperately trying to catch his daughter’s eye in the rear view mirror. To no avail.
Sophia is still watching the world go by. “My Auntie Rosie says that talking the truth about sex to children is very important. I even know how a baby is put in a mummy’s tummy. In the book a picture shows……”
“SOPHIA FERRANTI,” Nico roars, his blood pressure threatening to give him a stroke, or a heart attack, or both. “One more word you will not be Elena’s flower girl.”
*Sophia’s head spins on her shoulders, her eyes, at last, meet her papa’s. The message is received and understood*
“But…” she begins, catches his eye again and closes her mouth.
*Silence*
Emily flutters her lashes at Tonio like a camel in a sandstorm. “Do you have a girlfriend?” she asks in a stage whisper.
Tonio sends her a grin that has poor Emily catch her breath. “Si. I am Italian.”
*Nico decides when he get’s home to his wife and baby girl, he’s gonna skip the wine and go straight for the hard stuff, Cognac*

Finito

This exact conversation actually happened between two six year olds in the back of my car when I’d picked them up from school – my son, Scott, takes Sophie’s role, and his best pal, Tom, is Emily. A few days earlier Scottie had found a copy of A Child Is Born and flicked through the pictures, stopped on one and said the immortal words, “This is totally gross.”….. Two days later his teacher asked me if I’d been giving him a talk about the birds and the bees. I said, ‘No. But that’d he’d found the book’ Then I asked, “What has he been saying? Are parents upset?” She shook her head. “Nope. He did a better job of it than I could.” Then she told me about a daddy who’d told his little girl about the baby zipper (his wife had had a c-section). We both agreed the zipper idea had not been a wise choice. Gotta love kids and their clueless daddy’s!

Until next week, my lovelies, be good. I’m desperately trying to catch-up on SEAN’s story, after the roller-coaster of the Referendum.

Christine X

WELL WORTH THE WAIT – BLOOD ROSES

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Well, hell, this book kept me up all night!

As readers of this blog know, I rarely post a book review UNLESS I simply cannot help but do so.

I first came across the Gothic Paranormal Blackthorn series, Blood Roses, by the awesome Lindsay J. Pryor, chapter 1, during the Mills & Boon New Voices competition of 2010 – THREE years ago. Then she made it into the next stage and we got chapter 2. Then she reached the final four and we got the pivotal moment. So I waited and I waited and I waited for Mills & Boon or some other publisher to wake-up and smell the roses, but things don’t work like that.

Then Lindsay entered Blood Shadows – another book in the series – in the same competition in 2011 and, with the guidance of the fabulous Michele Hauf, reached the final four AGAIN. By this time I was certain, as were about four thousand+ readers that Lindsay would get picked up by a publisher, but no. Then Oliver Rhodes of Bookouture stepped up to the plate and bought the first three books! Thank God. You can find my first review of the first book in the Blackthorn series, Blood Shadows, HERE.

Book two of the series, Blood Roses is out now and rocking Gothic Paranormal fans here’s the blurb:

A rare and powerful witch whose blood is lethal to vampires, Leila has always viewed her serryn abilities as a curse. After seeing her mother slaughtered as a child, Leila longs for a safe, quiet life.

That wish is shattered by Caleb Dehain – a vampire with a dark past and an even darker heart. The most feared serryn hunter of his generation, Caleb now needs the help of one of the very witches he despises to save his dying brother.

A serryn who has no reason to help him. Except that he has her sister.

Caleb and Leila are each others’ worst nightmare – but the slow-burning spark of attraction between them is undeniable. Will Leila’s blood be his damnation? Or could her kiss be his salvation?

****

Last night – instead of editing The Trouble With Coco Monroe (thank you very much, Lindsay) – I started reading Blood Roses. I don’t know about you, but I tend to keep books I know I’ll enjoy sort of in my favourite box for when I need an illicit treat, almost like eating my favourite box of Belgian chocolates and not sharing any. I’ve been feeling this way about Blood Roses since I bought it, but last night I broke down and started to read it. I didn’t get to sleep until 3.30am – thank you, Lindsay! And here’s my review from the notes I made as I went through it.

“The writing is so visual, almost lyrical, that if it was about comparing the work to an artist I’d call it a Constable. I loved it.

The vampire Caleb Dehain, a tortured hero if every there was one, is so well written he does more than leap off the page. He embeds himself into our psyche. And the heroine Leila, a very special witch with her own secrets, is more than a match for Caleb. The sibling dynamic between Caleb’s brother Jake and Leila’s sister is well thought out and very real. Nothing worse than family for screwing up a person’s life and bringing forth the end of the world. And the story begins with the heroine prepared to put aside her deeply held beliefs, values and ethics to enter the vampire world of Blackthorn to help her sister. And Caleb does the same for his brother. And right there, even though the hero and heroine are sworn enemies from a different species, the protection of family is the common goal, neither acknowledged or admitted by either one.

One of the things I dislike about reading and writing a review is the temptation to give away back story, plot and spoilers, so I’m not going to do that. What I will say is that this a truly Gothic and claustrophobic read. The dark, dank and dangerous world of Blackthorn is painted with fluidly visual strokes of language. Loved it. The protagonists are on the page twenty-four seven and every second is a battle of wills to the death. Pryor pulls of this epic tale very, very well indeed and I was thoroughly immersed in the world from the first word. Great job. The love scenes are scorching, physically intense with valid emotional conflicts. And as a writer I know how difficult it is to pull that particular talent out of the hat – it’s done seamlessly. I loved it.

As with Blood Shadows  (click on the title to go straight to Amazon to grab a copy, it’s on a deal now!!!) we do have a satisfying ending, with plenty more conflicts to come. I for one cannot wait for book three Blood Torn due in Autumn 2013.

And Oliver Rhodes has done a brilliant job, again. Take a bow!

If you love Christine Feehan and JR Ward, you’ll love the work of Lindsay J. Pryor.

By the way, she’s absolutely NO idea I’ve read the book or written this review.

Hehehe! I LOVE surprises.

And here’s Lindsay herself trying to look witchy. Nope. I go for angel, babe!

Lindsay J. Pryor. I think she looks like the girl on the cover!

Lindsay J. Pryor. I think she looks like the girl on the cover!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I see a TV/Film in this series future.

Reserve me a place in the front seats on the red carpet!

Christine XXX

THE NEXT BIG THING – RUN ROSIE RUN by C C MacKenzie

 

Run Rosie Run

Run Rosie Run

 

Welcome to THE NEXT BIG THING blog tour. Many thanks to the wonderful Stacey Joy Netzel who tagged me and I’ve tagged another writer at the bottom of this page.

The idea is that we all answer the same ten questions about our current or next release, which means I get to talk about Run Rosie Run

What is the title of your latest book? 

It’s called Run Rosie Run and it’s the third book in the Ludlow Hall series.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

Rosemary Margaret Gordon is the best friend of Bronte Ludlow (now Mrs Nico Ferranti, lucky girl) from the first book in this series, Reckless Nights In Rome. Rosie’s character grabbed readers so much they demanded her own story. Luckily for me I was already writing her. Just this week I found handwritten notes/scenes with Rosie and Alexander dating from January 2011. So she’s been living with me for quite some time.

What genre does your book fall under?

It comes under the wide spectrum of Contemporary  Romance.  I write fast paced romantic fiction with authentic and valid emotional conflicts. They’re quite hot and steamy since the stories reflect the moment when two people fall deeply in love and physical attraction is a big part of that in real life.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition? 

This is such a difficult question because I never have anyone in mind when I start writing characters. But the model on the prototype cover is definitely Rosie and my readers agree. Alexander might be a smoother, taller version of the British actor, Jamie Bamber.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

She’d wasted enough of her life in love with a man she could never have and the time had come to give another man a chance, but now Rosie has two men who will stop at nothing to win her heart, which one will she choose?

Is your book self-published or represented by an agency?

I’m self-published by More Press. The freedom to write in two genres, Contemporary romance and Paranormal romance under the subheading of vampire fiction, is a gift.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

From memory, I’d say about eight weeks in total. But I never work on one book at a time, I work on three or four. At the moment the book’s in the hands of my betas. I’m already halfway through a first draft of book five in the series, the story of Coco Monroe. After Rosie comes the story of Justine and Joshua.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Perhaps Bella Andre’s family sagas? It’s hard because I don’t compare my writing to anyone else. I try to write what I want to read and can’t find.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

It’s always been a secret dream of mine to write a romance. My first love is paranormal and I’m a big fan of JR Ward, Christine Feehan, Nalini Singh and Sherilyn Kenyon. Those girls rock. However, I also have a love affair with the contemporary romance girls including Gemma Halliday, Bella Andre, Ally Blake, Kelly Armstrong and India Grey.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

It might surprise them, in a good way, lol!

So, interview over, I am now going to tag the fabulous J. Lawrence  with the same ten questions. John’s post will be up on the 4th of December!

xxx

BE AFRAID, BE VERY AFRAID

 

You may not have noticed, but Halloween will soon be upon us and that got me thinking about things that go bump in the night.

What makes a really good ghost story? What is it about the way a writer tells a story that freezes our blood? How do they do it?

For me, it’s all about sleight of hand. You know what I mean, it’s when a writer has taken your hand leading you down one path while in the other hand he holds a bloody dagger – metaphorically speaking. Quite often the story is about shocking the reader too. And today I’m going to plug an amazing anthology which does just that and more! But first…..

I want to tell you about a true event – the time where I absolutely traumatized a three-year-old girl.

When my son was nine and it was Halloween he’d been invited to hang out and eat at a friend’s house and he was due home around six-thirty in the evening. I’d been shopping in the supermarket and spotted a really cool Morticia Addams long black wig with a white streak at the front. So I used a white concealer stick on my face, painted black liner around my eyes with red lids and hooker red lipstick on my mouth and put on the wig. Even if I say so myself, it looked hot.  I wore black slacks and a black polo neck sweater – cashmere (this is me we’re talking about). I also found a huge cross with red stones attached to a long beaded necklace. Everything was ready, the box of candy and other teeth rotting goodies just at the front door.

The doorbell rang and I opened the door with a deep, ‘Welcome, young man. Please enter.’

My son howled with laughter – it takes a lot to scare my son – and thought I looked pretty cool. By this time my daughters were home and we’d given out a few treats to the ghosts and ghouls who’d come to the door. And as I’d given one or two a bit of a shock I was feeling pretty damn good.

Anyway, I was just about to relax when the doorbell went. By this time I’d bumped up the make-up to look even more scary so I opened the door and screeched like a banshee from hell at an unsuspecting mother and her two young children.

I’ll never forget it.

Her three-year-old daughter almost passed out on the spot and ran screaming for her life up the drive and into the arms of her father. Her mother and older sister were stood before me clutching their hearts.

‘What on earth do you think you are doing? You terrified my baby,’ the poor woman said.

‘It’s…er…Halloween,’ I sort of mumbled trying to smile but if anything their eyes went even bigger. The screams of the three year old could be heard for miles and neighbors popped their heads out of the door wondering what the hell was going on.

There are times when I’m incredibly stupid and this was one of them. I started running up the drive to try and calm the child but she went absolutely crazy and her father yelled for me to ‘Get the hell out of here.’  I felt awful absolutely certain I’d given her PTSD. So anyway the mother and daughter were given tons of tooth rotting goodies and I waved them farewell.

I closed the door to find my son and daughter lying on the carpet, drumming their heels on the floor and crying with laughter. Once they managed to speak they said it was the best thing they’d ever seen in their lives and I was the coolest mother in the world. There you go.  Terrorize an infant and your kids think your amazing. I’ve gone wrong somewhere. Seriously.

Back to the subject at hand – TALES FROM THE MIST – an Anthology of short stories guaranteed to chill your blood, tingle your spine, make you sleep with one eye open and have a sweaty hand clutching the dagger under your pillow – just in case. There are some award winning literary big hitters among this motley crew along with new writers who have a fabulous future ahead of them if these stories are anything to go by.

I read some of them aloud – and I think they’ll work really well if you get a group of friends together with a bottle of wine, light a few candles and tell them a story. It would really help if it’s ‘A dark and stormy night’ too. I’ll leave it to you lot to sort out your own sound effects.

Here’s what some reviewers have said:

Author Aiden James, who penned the Foreword, suggests reading with the lights on.

Joe McKinney, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Flesh Eaters and Mutated: “”Tales From The Mist is one of those rare anthologies that gets it right from the first story to the last. It’s a magnificent feast of horror from some of the most assured voices working today. From cold-blooded tales of revenge to Faustian bargains to terrifying journeys into the dark corners of our world, these stories will make the shivers climb your back.”

“Wow, what can I say? Witches, vampire rats, ghosts, a haunted house, shape-shifters and many, many more. It takes a lot to creep me out, but these authors managed it. I’m not going to add to the other reviewers except to say. Wow!”

“While horror isn’t my normal reading material, I found I couldn’t put this book down. It’s the perfect way to start out the All Hallows Eve season and is filled with paranormal stories to fit any mood. From ghosts to rats to tales retold, and things that go bump in the dark of the night, if you’re looking for a scary read – or just a really engrossing book – check out Tales From The Mist.”

So there you go. Don’t say I’m not good to you. Grab Tales From The Mist and organise your own spooky party then come back and tell us all about it it.

What’s your favourite horror movie?

What book terrified you for weeks or months? Mine was Salem’s Lot.

Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/Tales-From-The-Mist-ebook/dp/B009KRKTIW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1349273129&sr=8-1&keywords=Tales+From+The+Mist 

WHAT DO YOU DO?

 

Not a lot of people know this, but I’m a writer.

I know, who’d have thought it?

There is a reason I’m telling you this, but I’ll get to it in a minute.

A couple of weeks ago, Hugo took me on a journey, an eight hour plus journey to the Highlands of Scotland. The thinking behind the trip was that Christine hadn’t had a break from the MAC in a while (I’d begun to believe my characters were real. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing when one is a scribbler, but when the characters are Vampyres one’s husband begins to twitch and give one the steely eye.)

Another reason was because the weather (I’m sure I’ve mentioned the weather?) has been vile and he was certain the country was due a break from the rain. But no. We drove for six hours through the worst September storm in thirty years, think pestilence and a flood of biblical proportions and you might get the picture.

The thing about going away in this country is one never knows what to pack because it might be 10 degrees one day and 30 degrees the next, so I was advised by my youngest daughter to ‘layer.’

When we visit the Cairngorm mountains in the national park, see photo below, lovely isn’t it?

We always go on the funicular railway to the very top. Here’s the link if you fancy a trip (you can walk but it takes two hours and it’s 3,000 odd feet above sea level and the paramedics would need resuscitation equipment for Hugo.) The view is usually spectacular as long as there’s no low cloud cover. They don’t allow visitors to step onto the mountain because our footprint might damage the natural habitat. Hmm, I thought it might have had something to do with the sheer drop and a health and safety issue. But no, they’re more worried about damage to the mountain than human beings. Fair enough.

Anyway, Hugo had gone to buy the ticket and I was keeping our place in the  line and noticed two couples standing in front of me who were not British. By the lovely singsongy voices, blonde hair, blue eyes (the older guy looked just like Charlton Heston in his prime 🙂 my intuition told me they were Scandinavian. So we all got on the train and away we went. When you get to the top, the organisers are a crafty lot and make visitors trek through a large gift shop. By this time, although I’d ‘layered’ I was freezing and a fleece top caught my attention. In spite of Hugo’s eye roll (I saw it by the way, just say’in) I bought it and they bagged it up in a swanky big brown paper bag, not plastic (even though it was now raining) because plastic is not biodegradable. Fair enough.

At the top they have a café with huge windows for us to enjoy the view. By the time I’d stood for half an hour for a cup of coffee and a slice of cake, I was too hot. So I took off my quilted coat and duck down gillet and told Hugo I was off to the ladies loo. I’d taken the bag with the new top in it and didn’t think he’d noticed. It is true I was gone for a while, but whatever.

When I returned to the café Hugo was chatting to the two Scandinavian couples who’d joined our table. Actually, to be accurate, one guy was British, a sound engineer with Strictly Come Dancing and he was married to one of the women. I know, I was thrilled because I love Strictly. Somebody who works with the famous is almost as good as speaking to the famous. Anyway the following conversation ensued,

‘See,’ Hugo said. ‘I told you she’d gone to change into her new top.’

My husband, boys and girls, has a big mouth.

I just gave him ‘the look’ and smiled at them.

‘It suits you,’ the younger woman said with a smile and a fabulous accent.

‘Where are you from?’ I asked.

‘Sweden. We’ve brought my sister and her husband up on a tour of Scotland. We live in London.’

 

‘What do you do?’ the sound engineer said to Hugo.

‘I’ve retired,’ Hugo responded. (He’s a LOT older than me, just thought I should mention it.)

‘Lucky you, how do you fill your time?’

‘Well, I do lots of things and I work for Christine.’

The sound engineer nodded, sipped his hot chocolate and whipped cream with marshmallows. ‘What does Christine do?’

‘She’s a writer,’ Hugo said with an evil grin at his loyal and loving wife.

They all turned to look at me and I gave them big eyes.

‘What do you write?’ his wife asked.

‘Romance.’

‘Oooh, you’re not that 50 Shades of Grey lady.’

I get this all the time.

I smiled. ‘No, I wish I was,’ I said. And we all chatted about Christian Grey.

‘I also write a vampire paranormal set in an urban future,’ I added.

‘Oooh, my sister loves vampires. What’s your name?’

‘CC MacKenzie. My first book was Reckless Nights In Rome.’

Her sister from Sweden turned to look at me and said something in Swedish.

‘My sister has heard of you.’

Heart stopped. Blink blink.

I shook my head. ‘Nope. I haven’t been writing for long.’ I took out my business card (always be prepared) and they studied it. Her sister nodded and spoke again in rapid Swedish.

‘Yes, she’s heard of you. Her son’s ex-girlfriend has your book on her kindle. She loved it.’

Blink blink, hot flush rose from my toes as more conversation happened in Swedish.

‘My sister would like your card to give to her son’s ex-girlfriend.’

So I gave her the card and found myself tearing up, how embarrassing was this? Hugo just grinned. I think it’s the hormones – I’m getting to that age – but I’ve never been so emotional in my life.

Who’d have thought it?

I’m famous in Sweden.

I just hope Reckless Nights In Rome didn’t kill her son’s romance with his ex! I sometimes worry that young girls might end up with too high an expectation of their men after reading one of my heroes.

So that’s what I’ve been up to, freezing to death up a Scottish mountain dishing out business cards to lovely ladies from Sweden.

What have you guys been up to?

What do you do for a living?

Come and share it with us – we demand to know. (This should be good.)

 

Christine X

 

 

 

RECKLESS NIGHTS IN ROME – FREE!

CLICK ON IMAGE

Hi guys,

Can you believe I didn’t mention here on my blog that Reckless Nights In Rome is FREE .

Smack me now!

Get your FREE copy from your preferred distributor as follows:

Amazon Kindle     Kobo    Barnes and Noble     iBooks      Google

 

THANK HEAVEN FOR LITTLE BOYS…?

 

So, here’s the thing.

It was my son’s birthday yesterday and all the family including my two daughters were all here celebrating in our very green garden. He doesn’t want me to name him or say how old he is in case some of his friends twig that I am his mother.  Of course they know that I am his mother but they don’t know that, and he said this in a voice of utter mortification, ‘His mother has published two steamy romantic novels with ‘good’ bits in them.’ Or that she’s in the process of writing even more romantic stories. Excuse me?

He won’t be saying that when we’re sunning ourselves in Fiji on a beach of sugar white sand sipping cocktails while Sven’s cleaning our sunglasses and serving us fresh fruit. Anyway, I got my own back by reminding him of the twenty-eight hours of labour I went through to bring him into the world. He was three weeks late (started life as he obviously means to go on) and almost ten pounds. I can actually feel all the women reading this wince in feminine solidarity. Thanks girls.

Now I’m used to him treating me like a taxi service, and a portable cash machine. But he’s fine with what I do when it suits him to treat me like a newsagent ‘Do you have the latest edition of GQ?’ And I’m a library, ‘Do you happen to have that copy of A Game of Thrones?’ And new technology disappears into the jungle of detritus that is his bedroom. And he’s actually building a new computer with his friend, so you’d think he’d be helpful with my new Mac. But not a bit of it, ‘This technology is wasted on you.’ I was told in a voice edged with utter disdain. (I should point out that he made the comment because I was having trouble switching it on.)

Why is it that derision and goading comes as naturally as teething and nappy rash used to. There’s nothing my son likes to do more than tell me what to do. Just recently he had a go because I used the word ‘cool’ on twitter. Apparently I’m no longer permitted to use the word ‘wicked’ either. Then his sisters’ got in on the act reminiscing about the time I used to teach Dance Fit and would start to boogie in Gap when a Madonna song came on and ‘totally mortified them all the time in public.’

Hugo just grinned (traitor) and reminded me of a time I really embarrassed myself on a bus when my eldest was a toddler in the days when I didn’t get out much. I was pregnant with my second daughter, (apparently you lose 30% of your brain capacity when pregnant – that’s my excuse) anyway, the toddler was being babysat by the daughter of a friend and I was alone on a bus going to meet Hugo when he finished work for an early dinner with friends. It was a lovely summer evening and since we lived in the country the fields were alive with cows and sheep and fields ready to be harvested. So I was sort of daydreaming and totally forgot I didn’t have the toddler with me. ‘Oh look!’ I cried in a high chirpy voice. ‘Cows! Tell me, what do cows do?’ And I swear to God I will never, ever live this down, at least twenty people on the bus all cried ‘Moooooo.’ They did, along with roaring with laughter.

So a good time was had by all yesterday as my family basically took the mickey. But I got my own back, I asked my son, ‘What do you want to do when you grow up?’ Hinting that the time was fast approaching when he’d need to start fending for himself. But he just batted the question right back to us. Hugo said he’d wanted to join the army or the police but his eyesight let him down. ‘When I was twelve I decided I wanted to be a nurse or a doctor,’ I said, scooping up a spoonful of birthday cake and thinking nothing of it.

‘Really?’ said my son without an ounce of derision. ‘So what you’re really saying, mother, is that you had more ambition as a child than you did as an adult.’

The sooner he moves into a flea-bitten tiny apartment, living on tins of baked beans and doing his own laundry, the better.

So come on guys and girls. Tell me, have your parents ever embarrassed you? Or have you ever embarrassed them?

Which birthday was THE best one ever?

Share it with us, you know I love to hear from you.

Oh, and the pictures above are of my garden. We’ve actually had three whole days of summer, but clouds are gathering so it might not last. And The Olympic ceremony starts tonight so I’ll put good money on it we get thunderstorms and fat rain over the next few weeks.

LICKING MY MAN INTO SHAPE

Okay now, children, settle down. (I knew the title would get you all going.)

Every now and again it’s shake-down time in this house and the red mist of temper descends. You all know what I mean. It usually follows the unparalleled agony of standing on a tiny Lego figure in your bare feet, the air turns blue and every red blooded male runs for the hills because we women have finally hit our limit (an event that tends to be cyclical) with the chaos that now reigns in our domain, all thanks to the men in our lives.

It happened this week and my son and Hugo still haven’t recovered from the tornado that was Christine as she tore through kitchen, bathrooms and (Oh My God) the biological hazard that was my son’s bedroom. I’ve promised next time I will name and shame him.

The salad drawer in the fridge was shocking with something that might have been a baby carrot in a previous life, tomatoes which had dried out without the aid of the sun – withered chorizo anyone?

The breadbin offered up a ping pong ball, one chocolate button and a burger bun that was evidently taking part in some weird Year 6 science experiment.

The oven needed two full cans of Mr Muscle.

The microwave – well – all I’ll say is I cried, readers, I cried.

I found three socks, not matching, empty chip packets, car keys that went missing three months ago and six one pound coins down the side of the couches in the lounge.

Then just to compound the horror, I decided to clear out my closet. Why, Christine? I hear you ask. Don’t you have enough to do with editing two books at the same time as well as writing a weekly serialised story on your blog and have a new book coming out this week, along with social networking and guest blogging. What are you doing, woman?

In my defence all I’ll say is I was demented by this time, so I set about shovelling through T-shirts/vests/leggings/hoodie. Pointless, thankless task. The wonderful streamlined look will last for all of three days, max. No matter how fabulous and liberated you feel after a mammoth clear out, as you survey the six bursting black bin bags, colour co-ordinated T-shirts, sweaters and neatly folded jeans, within a couple of heart beats your favourite best silky top is trapped under a stool, and two sweaters and a pair of pants are found stillborn on the floor.

It’s the same with shovelling clearing out the cars. I’ve tested this in the past: as soon as the last apple core is cleared out from the glove compartment, the melted candy from between the seats, 48 hours later it morphs back into a dumpster on wheels.

Or is this just me?

Sometimes I worry and promise to do better.

Friends of mine are always smart and very well put together. And I’ve seen their kitchens, they (or their cleaners) must spend hours scrubbing the white grout between their tiles with toothbrushes. And I bet their ovens are sparkling and their microwaves are a thing of beauty.

So here’s my ‘will do better’ list:

Hang up and put away.

Do not leave clothes in a scrunched up ball on the floor.

Wear matching bra and panties and not just for visits to the GP/hospital.

I will do a little and often (cleaning that is).

I will stop terrorising the men in my family and ask them nicely to please clean up after themselves (they asked me to put that in btw.)

Anyway, peace and tranquillity has now returned to the household. It’s all looking sparkly with the surfaces gleaming and glass glistening.

Hugo’s just stepped out of his study (a room I never set foot in because the dust bunnies on the floor are breeding) and he put his arm around me.

‘Don’t worry, honey. Your friends might have cleaner houses. But they can’t tell a story like you can and bring sheer entertainment to the masses.’

And do you know something? He’s absolutely right, no wonder I adore him.

What’s more important, my readers or my oven?

No contest really, is there?

You know I love to hear from you guys, tell me I’m not alone and share your dirty little secrets with us, we won’t tell a soul!

And chapter sixteen of Desert Orchid is up. This story’s nearly at THE END.

AND A STORMY SPRING IS OUT ON MONDAY! YAAAAAY!!!!!