REVIEW – “Survival” by Rebecca Sherwin – 5 Stars

B6WAvUCIcAAQejtA wonderful and heartbreaking story of a young woman finding her place in a world that is too often unkind, Survival is a great entry into the slice-of-life romance genre and a cut above the rest.

Skye is such a real, flawed and excellent character – a born fighter faced with challenge after challenge, and each victory and defeat she faces is written so well with a clear cinematic eye.  The book takes place over several years and covers several time jumps, but it’s always clear we’re following the same, evolving characters through their trials and successes.

Rebecca Sherwin has a punchy, natural style that works so well for the passionate romance and the gut-punching tragedy, which you’ll get plenty of.  She’ll certainly put you through the wringer but, like Skye, there’s always that desire to continue to the next chapter, to see where the story goes.  This is a highly recommended story and a wonderful first entry to a series I’ll definitely keep up with.

Get it here.

All About Hourglass Events & The Orchard Book Club Peterborough Signing

In just a few weeks, I shall be attending my first signing event as an author, and I couldn’t be more thrilled.  It’s an event organised by the fabulous Hourglass Events, run by Rachel and Jo.  I’m honoured to be part of this event, and I’m thrilled to be joined now by these splendid ladies, who are going to give us the low down on the big day and the future of Hourglass…

Thanks for joining us Rachel.  Tell us about about Hourglass Events…

Rachel & JoWe are two very close friends who have worked perfectly together on many events and over time knew we could achieve a better and higher standard of event planning.  So after many talks, and many gins, Hourglass was born.  Each of us brings a different skill to Hourglass and the benefits to clients have been amazing.  We work hard to go over and beyond, adding the little touches that are so important to make each event special and unique.

 What encouraged you to set up Hourglass and put on this event?

Hourglass was a long time coming.  We started life on our children’s school parents committee. We would plan and set up summer fetes, Christmas bazaars and prom nights.  Even our kids party would have themes!  We loved every minute so knew we could make more of what we were doing. As for putting on the Peterborough event, we both love reading and as part of the Orchard Book Club we had chatted to many authors and knew we could host a fabulous intimate signing.

Why hold the signing in the lovely Peterborough?

A few reasons… It’s easy to get to, the cost for authors and fans to attend isn’t as high as the bigger cites which allowed more of a chance to attend.  We wanted an event with a close and fun feel, and, well… because we live here.

There’s such a diverse array of authors and genres represented. How did you go about pulling together such a talented bunch of people?

We have been so very honoured to have such a great following now. Orchard has been a help with that, so many wonderful authors use the blog so we just put it out there.  We wanted a mixed of genres, and I’m sure readers will agree.   Although I favour erotica I also love a good thriller or horror, and Jo loves a crime or romance so why not meet a mix of authors and open up the love of reading all genres!

This is going to by my first event.  What advice would you give to the new (and experienced) authors coming to the event?

Relax, be confident in yourself, enjoy meeting a some new friends and don’t forget the Sharpies!  You are all going to be ace.

And what about advice to any readers still making their mind up about attending?

Our advice would be not to miss this event! We have 31 amazing authors attending, all with great stories to share……Book tickets now, visit every table, take the time to chat with all the authors, and enjoy the whole day and night!

Fantastic.  There is a charity presence related to the event.  Can you tell me about that?
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The British Dyslexia Association supports people with dyslexia and their families through a UK-wide network of local dyslexia associations and a national helpline. The BDA also campaigns to raise awareness, break down barriers and create a dyslexia friendly society. My 8 year son has Dyslexia and attends a local workshop called ” Children Will Shine” in Peterborough. The group is charity run and and as we were hosting a book event it seemed very fitting to help this charity, so with Jo’s agreement we are.  Rachel and her husband climbed Ben Nevis for this charity a couple of years ago.  This is a much nicer way to help them!

Wonderful, and such a worthy cause. What’s next for Hourglass Events ?

Oh, lots!  We have a few things locally in the pipe line over the next few months we are focusing on the craft and art world. The biggest event for 2016 is going to be the Leeds author signing event. This has already had a great response from lots of authors, so after the Peterborough signing you will see us shouting about Leeds and the fabulous line up! We plan to keep pushing Hourglass forward and we are truly thankful to everyone who has supported us.

I can’t wait to see the dizzy heights you take Hourglass to.  You deserve every success in the world.  Thanks for joining me here – the event is going to be wonderful!

Thank you for giving us this chance to share!

Rachel & Jo

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So there you have it.  The event takes place at the Great Northern Hotel in Peterborough on March 14th.  There are morning and afternoon signing sessions, and an intimate meal and ball in the evening.  Tickets are still available but are very limited, to hurry over to this page and get yours now.

Personally, I can’t wait to meet a wide range of amazing authors, a lot of my wonderful readers, and make new friends on the day.  See you there!

REVIEW – “The Stand-In” By Rosanna Leo – 5 Stars

24881284This is a wonderful romance book filled with engaging characters and a great set up – a struggling actress applies to be a professional ‘stand-in’ bridesmaid, and is tailed by a disgraced reporter looking for a story. It’s romance heaven and the story never skips a romantic, humorous, erotic or dramatic beat, and you’re going to get plenty of all four.

Rosanna Leo is one of the most naturally gifted writers of romance working today, a born storyteller with an ear for natural dialogue and a skill for crafting real, flawed but endlessly likeable characters. It’s impossible not to root for them, even when their pasts come into play and their weaknesses show. Winn Busby and Patrick Lincoln are wonderfully charming and a perfect pair to go on such an adventure with. Rosanna’s swift and punchy style suits them to a tee – and the story sparkles when they get to banter.

The Stand In has everything a great romance novel should, and comes highly recommended!

Get it here.

On Expectation, Hype, Cynicism and Geek Love

A thing happened this week which, if you read certain hyperbolic sources, “Cracked the internet in half.”  Said cracking wasn’t due to a cyber-terrorist attack or particularly rampant virus, but in response to the release of an 88 second (I know this, because every article in the build up was very specific about it) teaser trailer for a film that isn’t due to be released for just over a full calendar year.  As a species, we’ll have been on a road trip round the sun and back before our asses even hit the seats to see this thing.  I’m talking of course about the teaser trailer for Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens: Colons Are Cool.  Admittedly, I may have added that last part.  Maybe.  The film is so shrouded in secrecy, who knows.  And, just to reassure, the internet isn’t cleft in twain just yet.  It seems these days there’s always something new every week threatening to rend the structural integrity of an intangible concept, but we dodged a blaster-burst again.

Cool, decadent and refreshing and ideal for getting around Tatooine

In that 88 seconds, we see 11 shots.  Yes, I counted them myself, just to make sure I wasn’t making it up.  A sweaty young man in a stormtrooper outfit stands up in the desert.  A beeping football rolls through the desert.  A spunky young woman rides a giant Magnum ice cream across the desert. The Millennium Falcon, the ship that made the Kessel run in less than 12 parsecs, loops-the-loop and is strafed by TIE Fighters.  Spoilers – it happens in the desert. The Sahara must have great tax incentives.  There’s also some shots of stormtroopers and a dude with a nifty hilted lightsabre that take place at night because shooting in the desert must be a warm affair and everyone needs to cool down.

Some people got excited to religious-zealot levels of positivity, declaring it the best film made in the history of putting things in celluloid.  On the flipside, some people got angry.  Some people poured scorn over it in such vociferous quantities it threatened to extinguish the world’s supply of good will, and some called for the heads of the filmmakers to be severed and displayed in public for crimes against their childhood and cinematic purity.

A friend, a big fan of Star Wars, sent me said trailer (after I’d already watched it, naturally) without comment.  I asked his verdict.  His response was: “That little football droid is crap.  This is going to be terrible.” So in 88 seconds and 11 shots, he knew this movie was beyond hope, and a likely-throwaway shot of a world-building droid scurrying about was enough to illustrate the film would likely have no plot, pathos, standout moments, or anything worth going for it.  This is in a trailer where we see arguably the most iconic ship in science fiction history fly for the first time in thirty years, and fly like we’ve never seen it fly before, thanks to the great work of today’s modern VFX artists.  Not even that wonderful image was enough to melt even an ounce of the icy cynicism crusted round a heart that once would thunder for the things he supposedly loves.  Incidentally, this is the same person who, after being so disappointed by the sequel to a seminal sci-fi action movie classic, boycotted the original Matrix movie as terrible and refused to ever watch it again, as if it wasn’t its own independent work.  Some people are never happy unless they’re miserable.

What did I ever do to you?

What did I ever do to you?

This is happening everywhere now.  What was once the domain of the angry fanboy and fangirl fretting over what Wolverine’s costume looks like is as mainstream as the parade of new big screen book adaptations or TV shows about sexy vampires doing sexy vampire things.

It happened not so long back, and happens every time a new image, rumour, or sliver of new footage appears, for the behemoth that is Fifty Shades Of Grey.  Swathes of the mummyporn community cried foul at casting, at locations, at the clothing, at the stance and expressions of the actors in publicity shots, while others devoted the kind of love reserved for newborn babies at the same flimsy material.  I’ve seen whole blog posts devoted to hastily-snapped pictures of an elevator in a hotel where the characters get all frisky.  The guy playing the spanking businessman was either the devil or the second coming, just that scraggly Geordie bloke from Pacific Rim had been not two weeks before.   How soon we do forget.

FSOG lovers, meet the comic book nerds.  You’re the same now.  Dress it up all you want, but complaining about the style and cut of a chap’s tie is identical to bemoaning the length of Batman’s cape.

Bruce&Chris
The entertainment hype machine and the instantaneous nature of media consumption has become such that over-analysing and taking staunch standpoints for one side or another as fast as the things appear is becoming the norm.  Scratch that.  Has become the norm.  We’re defining our happiness through the media we consume; lashing out when it’s not as we envision it in our minds and hearts, or decrying anybody who doesn’t adore every last frame as ignoble heathens.  Scornful cynicism and blind love are two sides of the same, endlessly spinning coin.

I’ve been both, in my time.  I’ve defended dreck and railed against mediocrity using my own disappointment as a weapon to bludgeon the dissenters – and I’ve done it before and after seeing whatever the hell it was that got me so positively passionate or negatively narked.  I’ve been both enough, and I’ve seen enough of the end results to know, either way, it’s so rarely worth it.  The great things will endure in your heart long after their time in the limelight has passed, and the disappointments will, hopefully, be eclipsed by the good.  Man Of Steel made me spit bile, but I still love the idea of Superman.

The thrust of this piece isn’t ‘Don’t love and don’t hate’, because passion is a wonderful thing.  It’s merely a message of ‘wait and see’ and ‘let it go.’  I’m resisting the urge to sing that song which, despite never having seen the film, I seem to know every lyric of by osmosis.

As a writer, thinking that someone would write off an entire novel based on a single paragraph is disheartening.  It may not be for you, sure, but being so vocally against or in support of it based on such tiny pickings ahead of time doesn’t do anybody any good.  The hype train just keeps rolling.  Likewise, hanging onto the things you despise and trawling through their failings merely perpetuates the cynicism that pervades the cultural landscape like a crawling red weed (not all my pop-culture references are so bang up to date).

So, I watched Star Wars trailer, and I took a step back for a moment.  I love that there’s going to be new stories told in that galaxy far, far away.  I expect I’m going to love some of it, dislike some of it, be passionate and indifferent side by side.  But what I have now, in this moment, is the hope, that wonderful, nostalgic hope, of a great story, well told, using elements that make me giddy.

The Falcon flies again, and my heart might just fly with it.

Falcon

Meet Me @OrchardBookClub #AuthorEvent #Peterborough2015 @JoRaHourglass

On March 14th 2015, I’m going to my first book signing, a hugely exciting event organised by Hourglass Events for Orchard Book Club. 

full-line-up-banner-aug-10th

Based at the Great Northern Hotel in Peterborough, there are morning and afternoon signing sessions with myself and a whole host of other splendid authors:

Jodi Ellen Malpas
Kitty French
Zara Cox
J.D.Chase
A J Walters
Samantha Fontien
Hemmie Martin
Lisa Fulham
Sarah Elizabeth
Shani Struthers
Rebecca Sherwin
L. Chapman
Caroline Batten
E.J. Shortall
Tracie Podger
Kit Tinsley
Krissy V
Charmain Maire Mitchell
Charming Man
G G Carver
Beth Maria
Louise Bay
Sarah Michelle Lynch
K L Shandwick
Glenn Haigh
Andie M Long
Neil Winnington
Lisa J Hobman
Samantha Towle

 

All that is followed by an evening ball where we’ll dance the night away in style.  Tickets for the morning/afternoon events are just £5.50, with the ball tickets at £43.50, which includes a fabulous three course meal.

I’m thrilled to be part of this event, which just so happens to me my first author signing.  This will be a chance to meet me in the flesh and have a giggle, and I hope to see you there.  I’m humbled and thankful to Rachel and Jo from Orchard/Hourglass for making this a possibility – they are working tirelessly to make this a day and night to remember.

Head over to the event page right here to book your tickets.

Now… where did I put my tuxedo…

GUESTBLOG: Suit Porn – The Modern Day Lingerie For Men – by Amanda Carrington @AmandaVoElla

Thrilled to share with you this guest post from the amazing Amanda Carrington of Voella.com – if you’re not already a fan of her work, you soon will be!  Included are two poems from Amanda, alongside a rich history listen and musings on the sensual side of fashion for women…and men…

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We go through the same ritual every single day without even giving it a second thought. Slipping into something sexy beneath our everyday clothes has become the norm for most women these days. Historically, lingerie has always had it’s more practical purposes of course, but being the last garment to cover the naked flesh and the last piece of fabric before skin on skin contact, there will always be a sexual connection with our underwear and that goes back centuries.

Let’s take the Middle Ages for example, the corset was the fashion ideal to help the female form take on a different shape. Women used corsets and other lingerie implements to make their waistlines ridiculously small, their tummys uncomfortably flat and their boobs non-existent.

Moving towards the French Revolution era circa 1789 the corset was redesigned and used to plump up the breasts rather than flatten them down and waistlines were more natural allowing some respite from the constraints of previous corsets.

By the time we reach the 19th Century, stockings were introduced and garters were attached to corsets to hold the stockings up. The Victorian age while being considered one of the most prim and proper is ironically where the sexiest under garments came to light. Corsets, stockings and garter belts were all designed to enhance and beautify the female form. Some of the first strip tease shows began during this time period and French Can Can dancers were causing a stir by flashing their petticoats and stockings during their high kicking dance routines.

The 1920’s brought us the cami-knickers, a camisole with longer knickers all sewn into one piece. The 1950’s brought the hourglass figure back to light and the pointed bra was the accessory all ladies wanted whilst the 1960’s finally brought the era of a woman’s body being celebrated for it’s natural shape and stockings and suspenders were the norm.

During all these years female lingerie has always had a connection to sex but what did the men have to offer the ladies? Nothing it would seem. It has always been the woman who seduces her lover with her sexy attire, it has never been the other way around until now. Although a man in uniform has always been considered rather sexy it was never used as sexual enticement.

So I ask, what is for us women the equivalent of sexy lingerie?

Are we all in accordance? The Suit…

His-Suit-by-Amanda-Carrington

The suit isn’t something new, men have been wearing them for centuries but the 21st century has certainly seen the rebirth of the suit in women’s eyes. A man in a suit now seems to be the female sexy lingerie equivalent and I for one agree.

I have always loved to see a man in a well-tailored suit, after many years of living in Italy I think I have seen this fashion at it’s very best, no one quite pulls it off for me like the Italians. My husband has worn a suit for work since I first met him and I have to admit it has always been something that turns me on. I love to pull his tie and reel him in towards me for a lip lock.

So, is the era of suit porn a recent reality for most or has this too seen a relaunch into the market since FSOG and Christian Grey sporting a suit? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. When I first signed up to Twitter 5 years ago I don’t rememeber seeing as many men in suit avis as I do today, so what made a man in a suit so alluring to today’s woman?

I can’t answer for you all but I’m hoping to read your comments and hear your thoughts. In the meantime let me tell you what I think.

A suit is related to power. Some people infact call them power suits. A man in power is attractive to women, also a well dressed and well groomed man attracts the female eye. Every man should own at least one suit that exudes power, prestige and classic refinement. This is also a vital piece of the male wardrobe regardless of profession as it serves as a modern day suit of armour so to speak.

My dear friend Cameron Lincoln is a perfect example of our modern day knight in shining armour, his shining armour being the array of suits he teases us with in his photographs. The ladies love it and I am first in the line when it comes to ohhhing and ahhhhing over Mr Lincolns sexy suit pics. In fact I penned a poem on the very topic.

1486837_614764798602061_5699353744925145875_nI’m sure this poem echoes many ladies thoughts.

Let’s get this debate started right here. What brought the suit back into the limelight for you ladies, why now more than ever a man in a suit is desired and adored?

I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts and arriving at a conclusion with your help.

Thank you so much to Cameron Lincoln for inviting me over here to share this post with you. Hopefully we will see the return of Mr. Lincoln on the VoElla website in the not too distant future.

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Thanks Amanda for such a rousing post.  I invite all and sundry to get commenting below…

On a personal note – I love wearing a suit because there’s nothing smarter, and it gives such a confidence boost to feel so presentable.  I’ve been donning a two- or three- piece daily for many a year and have receive compliments all throughout the time.  Whereas the spectre of Mr Grey has something to do with its prevalance in erotica circles, I think suitporn was going strong well before that without his help…

So what do we think, ladies and gents?

UNITY – A Romantic Quickie…

I know it as soon as the door clicks closed behind me; I am a fly in the spider’s web. I’m not even sure how you did it without me seeing you; you slipped into the space behind me and pulled the blindfold across my eyes, fastened it with nimble, firm fingers. I saw nothing but the descending veil or darkness, but every sense now heightens to accommodate the one that has been suddenly starved. I can smell you like a banquet, heady and rich and intoxicating. I’m glad I can no longer see, for I know I would be dizzied by that scent. Your breath on my neck galvanises every hair to stand, a parade of scintillated threads on an ocean of rippling gooseflesh. The shiver sweeps through me like a wave, every cell in my body part of an eager crowd throwing its hands in the air in exultation. The sounds you make are a symphony; the intake and exhalation of sweet air, the satisfied moans as you examine every inch of me; and the sound of your voice as you tell me that tonight, as forever, I am yours.

Then your touch… It’s like being caressed by feathers and hit by a train all at once, every pore and muscle reacting to your eager, capable fingers. You combine gentle care with powerful precision, a well-oiled construct designed for my pleasure. Hands sweep down my spine and dip across my buttocks, swooping across my thighs and up over the swell of my chest. You’ve explored this canvas a thousand times before but each time feels like the first. Your expertise is bolstered by experience but you make it fresh at every turn. I crave that touch like an addict, and when it comes, I never want it to end for fear of crushing withdrawals.

I am in your thrall and at your mercy, devoted and locked in servitude. I always have been, since that very first moment; this is merely a physical manifestation of every inner thought and sensation I’ve experienced since you bewitched me. Even when I’m in charge, as you lay at my feet and do everything I command, the control is always yours.

Your swift digits find the clasps and buttons of my clothing and pick them apart, one by one. You guide me to step from my shoes, my ankles breathing a sigh of relief after such a long day, and I can think of no better cure for stress than you. My clothing falls away piece by piece until I am naked but for the fabric barring my vision. I shiver in the warmth of the room, every pore and nerve alert to your beautiful game.

You guide me to the bed and lay me out, sprawled, spread and secured with bonds I still cannot see. My ankles and wrists are wrapped, my limbs straining playfully; the steel frame of the headboard and bedposts whine gently but offer no quarter. I am here for as long as you enslave me; I hope it is forever.

Naked beneath you I succumb to your power; it manifests through fingertips and lips, skating across the surface of me, but also in the complete and utter control I surrender, as I know you’d surrender it to me. Your seduction is total, through action, word and the total devotion you show. I’d do anything for you, and I’m sure, before the night is through, I will. Your tongue pours its love upon my most intimate of areas and I’m beholden to its every flick and expert ministration, mewling and moaning with each deft, darting touch. You assure me I am yours, and I have been no more certain of a single thing before in my life, and I will be certain of it forever more.

Arms enfold me and entwine, and our nethers merge, drawing satisfied breaths from lungs that bellow in perfect unity. Moisture and desire lubricate the piston-precise motion of undulation, gliding like angelic machines built solely for this purpose. The tension at our loins surges amongst a miasma of thrusting, sweat, saliva and shared lust that divides like cells, spreading through us, a perfect viral flood of endorphins, sizzling nerves and orgasmic glee. We climax together, the opening salvo in a war of bodies and minds that will rage all night, and I shall surrender in every battle and allow myself to be stormed, invaded and seized.

You take off the blindfold and I see you in all your glory. The beauty of you is blinding, but I have looked upon you so often that I am almost resistant, like I’ve stared at the majesty of the sun long enough to see it truly. You look upon me the same way, and my heart aches, because I can never truly put into words the complex yet simple perfection that is being allowed to love you.