When the CEO Calls

WHEN THE CEO CALLS is my latest release! It’s a contemporary romance novella and a prequel to Undercover in the CEO’s Bed (which was released in May 2014).

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A late night call out, a handsome, sexy CEO, and a brother who needs protection…Jacinta Greene knows she’s courting trouble when she assists Lex Rochester while disguising her true identity. When he pursues her, she knows she should turn him down and walk away, but this man is too irresistible for her own good. 

Just 99 cents!

 

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September reading roundup

Recently I’ve hit a purple patch in my choice of reading. Lots of wonderful books have fallen my way or caught my fancy on my e-reader. I love it when that happens, or maybe I was just in the mood for a lot of reading. Either way, here are some of the books I’ve enjoyed over the past month or so:

One Hundred Proposals by Holly Martin

onehundredpropsalsInitially I’d heard good things about Martin’s first book The Guestbook, but after reading the preview, I didn’t think that was for me (the entire story is told through the entries of a guestbook at a holiday cottage), so I picked up her latest book, One Hundred Proposals.

This was such a fun, sweet, funny British romance. Best friends Suzie and Harry run a business creating unique, romantic proposals. They’re secretly in love with each other but of course can’t seem to get those important words out. I was surprised to find myself tearing up at a certain moment in the book, which had nothing to do with the romance.

The Hidden Blade by Sherry Thomas

thehiddenbladeIn imperial China, Ying-ying is the illegitimate half-English daughter of a concubine. She lives a sheltered life until her mother dies and she’s forced to live with her mother’s former protector. Her amah, who turns out to be a martial arts warrior and member of a secret society, decides to make Ying-ying her disciple. Meanwhile, across the world in England, Leighton leads an idyllic life until his family is torn apart and he becomes a virtual prisoner to an evil relative.

The book follows Ying-ying and Leighton as they struggle for survival in an unfriendly world. I have to admit I found Leighton’s story more compelling, perhaps because he is the more proactive character and I could pretty much guess what was going to happen to Ying-ying.

This book is a prequel to Thomas’s My Beautiful Enemy, but it’s still a full-length book. I spent the entire first half waiting for Ying-ying and Leighton to meet, but by three-quarters I knew that wasn’t going to happen. There’s plenty of action and tears in the final quarter, and also a preview of the first chapter of the next book, but for me I wanted to know what happened in the intervening four years (because that’s really where Ying-ying’ story becomes interesting after she’s forced to leave Peking). Still, a great historical adventure story and a great setup to the next book.

For One Night Only by Phillipa Fioretti

foronenightonlyI’m a big fan of Mary Stewart’s romantic suspense stories, and this book strongly reminded me of Stewart’s writing. In For One Night Only, Ornella, an Australian actress of Sicilian background, is holidaying in Sicily when she meets Hugh, a British archaeologist working on the excavation of an ancient mosaic. There’s instant attraction between these two, but just as the romance is heating up, Hugh vanishes, and Ornella’s idyllic holiday quickly turns into a nightmare.

I really enjoyed this book. Fast-paced action, beautiful scenery, great hero, and a spunky heroine who never gives up.

Time travel romance: The Tipping Point

“…ever since Mrs Carraway’s visit, bad luck has dogged our family. Fortunes gambled and lost, freak accidents, disease, relationship troubles, stillbirths. You could say we’re cursed.”

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The Tipping Point is my time travel romance published as part of the Timeless Encounters anthology. In my story, Bella and Reuben are a couple on the verge of divorce after the strain of Reuben’s money-guzzling ancestral home, Bella’s homesickness, and a tragic miscarriage. Bella returns to Reuben’s estate one last time to collect her belongings. There the crumbling mansion and Reuben’s cousin’ s ominous tales of the past combine to fill Bella with dread and unease.

Here’s an excerpt:


 

Reuben frowned. His cousin was a little screwy and he didn’t like sharing her reaction to the room Bella had chosen.

“It’s just a room, and she had that room before when we …” He shrugged, unwilling to continue. Phoebe and he weren’t confidantes.

Her soft, dimpled face wrinkled up like a ball of dough. “I don’t like it. It’s the bad luck room. The source of the Carraway Curse.”

“Stop right there.” He held up his palm to her. “I don’t want to hear anything about the stupid curse. It’s superstitious nonsense.”

“Is it?” Taking the seat next to him, Phoebe leaned closer, her sticky wooden spoon dangerously close. “You can’t argue with the facts. Our family has been riddled with bad luck ever since the notorious Mrs Carraway came to stay.”

“Look, I know you go in for all that mystical New Age stuff, but I don’t. I’m a realist, and it’s impossible that some woman who visited here more than a century ago has any effect on me.”

Phoebe looked indignant. “She’s not just some woman. She seduced Robert Erskine and—”

“No, I’ve heard it all before.” He kneaded his temple where a headache had started. “Please, Phoebe. Don’t start with all this nonsense. It’s the last thing I need right now.”

She squeezed his hand sympathetically. “Aw, I was just trying to help. If you don’t mind, maybe I can suggest to Bella she choose another room for the night.”

“Another room?” Bella spoke from the door to the kitchen. As Reuben and Phoebe turned, she moved further into the room. “Why?”

“Bella!” Phoebe leaped to her feet, the wooden spoon clattering to the table, and rushed over to hug Bella. “How lovely to see you again.”

Bella seemed a little surprised by Phoebe’s enthusiastic greeting, but she hugged her back. “Hi, Phoebe. I’m glad to see you here.”

Reuben couldn’t help frowning. Was that a veiled dig at him?

“I don’t understand why you want me to move?” Bella asked Phoebe. “After all, you did turn on the heater for me in my room.”

“Me? No, I didn’t do that.” Phoebe glanced at Reuben.

“It wasn’t me,” he reluctantly replied.

“Oh.” Bella bit her lower lip. “Then who did?”

In the ensuing silence, Phoebe’s eyes widened, and Reuben knew she was about to spout out some rubbish about ghosts or spirits. “It must be the wiring,” he improvised quickly. “That room hasn’t been rewired for some time.”

“It can’t be safe. You’ll have to move,” Phoebe interjected as she laid a hand on Bella’s arm. “I’ll make up a bed for you somewhere else.”

“Okay.” Bella gave her a wary look. “But you still haven’t told me why.”

“Well. It’s quite a story.”

Phoebe drew in a breath and Reuben knew they were in for a long, lurid tale if he didn’t intervene.

“Bella doesn’t have all night to listen to your epic, so let me give her the condensed version,” he said. He motioned to Bella to sit before he continued briskly, “About a hundred and twenty years ago, a Robert Erskine was the heir apparent to the estate and engaged to a Miss Anne Pryce, heiress to a mind-boggling fortune. She came to Ashwood House for a visit, bringing with her a paid companion, a Mrs Carraway, who was the widow of some minor relative. Anyway, a secret liaison developed between Robert Erskine and Mrs Carraway, and they eloped, causing much uproar and scandal. End of story.”

“That’s not even half the story,” Phoebe protested.

“It’s all that’s relevant.”

“I disagree.” Phoebe turned to Bella. “He forgot to mention that without Anne Pryce’s fortune the Erskines fell into a deep pit of debt, and we’ve never recovered. In fact, ever since Mrs Carraway’s visit, bad luck has dogged our family. Fortunes gambled and lost, freak accidents, disease, relationship troubles, stillbirths. You could say we’re cursed.”


 

Book review: The Chocolate Rose by Laura Florand

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I picked this up when it was free on Amazon. I’d previously read Laura Florand’s Snow-Kissed, which I hadn’t found as marvellous as some others had, so I doubt I would have read The Chocolate Rose if it hadn’t been free. And I’m glad I did, because The Chocolate Rose was a delight to read.

Jolie Manon is a food writer and the daughter of famous chef Pierre Manon, with whom she has co-written a cook book. Her father is still recovering from a stroke, which has plunged him into depression and apathy, when Jolie receives notice that her father’s former chef patissier, Gabriel Delange, is suing them for appropriating twelve of his recipes in the cookbook, including the famous chocolate rose depicted on the cover. Jolie had a teenage crush on Gabriel when he worked for her father but hasn’t seen him in years. Anxious to spare her father from further stress, she hastens from Paris to the Cote d’Azur, where Delange now runs his own world-famous restaurant.

Needless to say, sparks fly when these two characters meet. Gabriel and Jolie argue, flirt, lose their temper, sulk, laugh, make love, fight and make up. The setting of the three-star restaurant and its high pressure kitchen set in an ancient, charming French provincial town is wonderfully depicted in lush detail. Jolie’s torn loyalties between her father and Gabriel are touching and real. I got a real insight into the pressures of running a world-class restaurant, and how it completely dominates a chef’s life. Thank God I’ve never had any inclination in that direction.

The only quibbles I had were the ending, which was a touch saccharine, and the fact that Jolie never truly confronts her father over his plagiarism. I would have liked to have heard his reasons or justifications why he ‘stole’ Gabriel’s recipes, but the story never really goes there satisfactorily. But these were minor niggles and didn’t stop me from enjoying this sweet and satisfying romance.