Spotlight

How to Bake a New Beginning by Lucy Knott : Blog Tour, Review & Exclusive Interview.

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I have the very great pleasure to be the first stop on the How to Bake a New Beginning by Lucy Knott (one half of the lovely Blossom Twins) blog tour. I will be sharing my review on this wonderfully, uplifting book and I have an exclusive interview with Lucy.

About Lucy

Lucy

Lucy is a new author her up-and-coming debut How to Bake a New Beginning is a feel good, heart warming romance about family love and food. She is also a Book, Food, Family and Lifestyle blogger with her twin sister; Kelly who own the charming Blossom Twins Blog.

Website / Twitter @LucyCKnott / Twitter @TheBlossomTwins / Instagram / Goodreads / Facebook / Pinterest

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Interview

Frankie Hi Lucy, Congratulation’s on the book! Welcome to Chicks, Rogues and Scandals! Thank you for taking the time to chat with me today.

Firstly, what five words would you use to describe yourself?

Lucy Romantic. Sensitive. Passionate. Dreamer. Creative.

Frankie If you could take a holiday in any era and place, When and where would it be? And Why?

Lucy Ooh I would probably go back to The Beat Generation and the streets of San Francisco. I’d love to hang out with Jack Kerouac and experience a San Francisco night talking the night away and listening to music, then find quaint cafés to write in while drinking lots of coffee.

4Frankie Can you tell us a little about your latest release? This can be your most recent or up-and coming release.

Lucy My upcoming release is my debut novel. It’s called ‘How to Bake a New Beginning.’ It follows the journey of three sisters; all at different stages in their lives, all dealing with job struggles, boy troubles and finding the courage to take that next step in their lives and follow their hearts. After losing their beloved Grandpa they travel to Italy and events occur where they must start taking ownership of their feelings and of their dreams and their futures.

Frankie It really is a wonderful book, who was your childhood hero?

Lucy My childhood hero was professional wrestler Jeff Hardy, one half of the WWE tag team The Hardy Boyz.

Frankie If you could have one of your books made into a film, which book would it be and who would play your lead character’s?

Lucy Ooh that would be pretty amazing. I’d love it if this book was made into a movie. Let me think:

Amanda: Britt Robertson / Sabrina: Rachel Bilson. / Louisa: Lily Colins.

Dan: Harry Styles. / Levi: Chris Evans. / Luca: Giulio Berruti.

Blog 1 blog 2

Frankie Wow!! Gorgeous cast, this is a movie I would love to watch. Out of all your work, who is your favourite character and why?

Lucy Hmm, I love all my leading ladies because I feel like they are strong women, yet they have their vulnerable moments. It takes them a minute, but they go after what they want and follow their dreams. They all have good hearts and I love that about them. I do have a soft spot for all my boys too.

Frankie Where does your inspiration for your books come from?

Lucy My inspiration was very much love and my experiences. I’m a hopeless romantic and just wanted to write a romance that was quite simple, not too much drama, not too much back and forth, just something that focused on love conquering all and that fairy tales can exist. Also, my life in general, things that make me happy, things that I love, like Italy and sisterly bonds. I very much enjoyed writing about those things.

Frankie What three tips would you pass on to an aspiring author?

Lucy Always believe in yourself.

Don’t compare yourself/your book to others. No one else can write the book that you are writing. Your book is yours, it is special, and you must love it first and foremost and be proud of yourself for writing it.

Write, write, write.

Frankie If you were hosting a dinner party what three people would you invite? (They can be real/fictional, from any era)

Lucy Harry Styles, Sal Paradise (On the Road) and Angela Clark. (I heart series.)

Frankie Oooh, fabulous! I am a big fan of Angela and Alex. Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to chat with me today, Lucy. I have just one more cheeky question, just for fun . . . What is your all-time favourite naughty but nice food?

Lucy Eeek I love food, so that’s a tricky one, but probably any and all Italian cakes and biscuits.

Frankie Sound’s good to me, Thank you Lucy!

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About the Book

4

Three sisters. One trip to Italy. The chance to change their lives.

Amanda has always taken the role of big sister seriously. She has her life in order; a fantastic job in a great restaurant, a wonderful house and a best friend who’s a Rockstar. But, Amanda’s beginning to realise that her life is missing one monumental piece…

Sabrina is living the high life in LA. Her Instagram is full of lavish parties, her tweets are brimming with celebrity names, but in reality she’s stuck behind a desk working for a boss who is determined to make her suffer. Is it time for her to stand up and take charge of her life?

Louisa has always been drowned out by her sister’s successes. As the university drop-out she’s always felt third best. But a chance encounter in a little Italian village may be about to change that…

When their beloved grandfather passes away these sisters are forced to take another look at their lives. These three sisters are about to embark on a journey of self-discovery that could just lead them down a road of romance (with a little help from the kitchen)!

Perfect for fans of Jenny Oliver, Carole Mathews and Lucy Diamond.

How to Bake a New Beginning is to be released on 9th September and can be pre-ordered at Amazon.

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My Review

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This is a wonderful debut from a talented new author, who I am positive is going to go far with her writing career. I found Ms Knott’s writing to be fresh, stylish and full of real passion for the story. I was incredibly interested in this book when I first saw the cover, which is cheerful and eye-catching. I know we should never base our opinions on a cover, but on the word’s inside, but for this one, I couldn’t really help it. The cover is as charming as the word’s within.

This is the story of three completely different sisters, who are all at different stages of their lives and who are still trying to find themselves in such a hectic world. Even though two have great careers they are a little lost with the love side of things, as different as Amanda, Sabrina and Louisa are they are all devoted to their family, they may have gone down different path’s but that absolute love for family is the driving force for each of them. Which as someone who is as equally very family focused this really rang a bell with me. When their beloved Grandfather suddenly passes away, the sisters are forced to confront some very personal issues. They decide that to really say goodbye to their grandfather they travel to Italy, their trip turns out to be just as emotional as they expected, but in completely different ways. What started out as a farewell to grandpa trip, ends up with each of the sisters discovering themselves and learning how to take charge of their lives and more importantly how to love.

Each sister is so different, each has their own views and private heartaches, Amanda the eldest is the one with the real passion for cooking, she is doing what she has always wanted to do and is working as a chef, but beneath that stubborn and protective older sister mask there is a heartache, something is missing from her life, now she knows what but can she pluck up the courage to finally grasp it?

Second sister Sabrina is living the high life in LA, to the whole world she is a high-flyer spending night’s out at lavish celebratory parties, her social media is full of enviable pictures. But really, she is stuck in the office with a boss who wants to make her life hell and suffering her own heartache, she is far from the happy-go-lucky socialite that she present’s herself to be.

And finally, baby of the family; Louisa after dropping out of university she has always felt inferior next to her older and much more confident sisters. She is definitely the one most people can relate to, she has lost her way a little. She appears cocky and out spoken but beneath the surface there lies a shy, young woman who is desperate to find her way and I think she has lost a little self-confidence especially while sisters are around.

This trip to Italy is the chance all three of them never expected but also what they needed, but will they have the courage and take control of the lives?

This is a wonderful holiday read, the relationship between the sisters is very real and relatable, the love that they share for their family is the driving force of this story. Ms Knot has done a cracking job at engaging the reader with her relatable character’s, beautiful setting and wonderful storyline. From page one you are immersed into the sister’s lifes, the story and relationships develop and evolve in a natural way and the story moves along at a brilliant pace.

You can real get a sense of how much this book and story means to the author, her heart and passion is evident in every scene, the driving force of the story is absolute family love, this really resonates with me. Another thing I love is how each chapter starts with a recipe, it’s cute and personal and links each chapter together nicely.

This is a delicious book, that you will devour in one bite! (Sorry I couldn’t help the food reference)

This was an ARC copy via the author as apart of this blog tour in exchange for an honest review.

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The Duke with the Dragon Tattoo (Victorian Rebels #6) by Kerrigan Byrne Blog Tour; Review & Exclusive Excerpt

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About the Book

THE DUKE WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO

The bravest of heroes. The brashest of rebels. The boldest of lovers. These are the men who risk their hearts and their souls—for the passionate women who dare to love them…

He is known only as The Rook. A man with no name, no past, no memories. He awakens in a mass grave, a magnificent dragon tattoo on his muscled forearm the sole clue to his mysterious origins. His only hope for survival—and salvation—lies in the deep, fiery eyes of the beautiful stranger who finds him. Who nurses him back to health. And who calms the restless demons in his soul…

A LEGENDARY LOVE
Lorelei will never forget the night she rescued the broken dark angel in the woods, a devilishly handsome man who haunts her dreams to this day. Crippled as a child, she devoted herself to healing the poor tortured man. And when he left, he took a piece of her heart with him. Now, after all these years, The Rook has returned. Like a phantom, he sweeps back into her life and avenges those who wronged her. But can she trust a man who’s been branded a rebel, a thief, and a killer? And can she trust herself to resist him when he takes her in his arms?

Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Books-a-Million / IndieBound / Powells

Exclusive Extract

CHAPTER ONE
If Lorelai Weatherstoke hadn’t been appreciating the storm out the carriage window, she’d have missed the naked corpse beneath the ancient ash tree.

“Father, look!” She seized Lord Southbourne’s thin wrist, but a barrage of visual stimuli overwhelmed her, paralyzing her tongue.

In all her fourteen years, she’d never seen a naked man, let alone a deceased one.

He lay facedown, strong arms reached over his head as though he’d been trying to swim through the shallow grass lining the road. Ghastly dark bruises covered what little flesh was visible beneath the blood. He was all mounds and cords, his long body different from hers in every way a person could be.

Her heart squeezed, and she fought to find her voice as the carriage trundled past. The poor man must be cold, she worried, then castigated herself for such an absurd thought.

The dead became one with the cold. She’d learned that by kissing her mother’s forehead before they closed her casket forever.

“What is it, duck?” Her father may have been an earl, but the Weatherstokes were gentry of reduced circumstances, and didn’t spend enough time in London to escape the Essex accent.

Lorelai had not missed the dialect while at school in Mayfair, and it had been the first thing she’d rid herself of in favor of a more proper London inflection. In this case, however, it was Lord Southbourne’s words, more than his accent, that caused her to flinch.

As cruel as the girls could be at Braithwaite’s Boarding School, none of their taunts had made her feel quite so hollow as the one her own family bestowed upon her.

Duck.

“I-it’s a man,” she stammered. “A corp—” Oh no, had he just moved, or had she imagined it? Squinting through the downpour, she pressed her face to the window in time to see battered knuckles clenching the grass, and straining arms pulling the heavy body forward.

“Stop,” she wheezed, overtaken by tremors. “Stop the carriage!”

“What’s bunched your garters, then?” Sneering across from her, Mortimer, her elder brother, brushed aside the drapes at his window. “Blimey! There’s a bleedin’ corpse by the road.” Three powerful strikes on the roof of the coach prompted the driver to stop.

“He’s alive!” Lorelai exclaimed, pawing at the door handle. “I swear he moved. We have to help him.”

“I thought that fancy, expensive school was supposed to make you less of an idiot, Duck.” Mortimer’s heavy brows barely separated on a good day and met to create one thick line when he adopted the expression of disdainful scorn he reserved solely for her. “What’s a cripple like you going to do in the mud?”

“We should probably drive through to Brentwood,” Lord Southbourne suggested diplomatically. “We can send back an ambulance to fetch him.”

“He’ll need an undertaker by then,” Lorelai pleaded. “We must save him, mustn’t we?”

“I’ve never seen so much blood.” It was morbid fascination rather than pity darkening her brother’s eyes. “I’m going out there.”

“I’m coming with you.”

A cruel hand smacked Lorelai out of the way, and shoved her back against the faded brocade velvet of her seat. “You’ll stay with Father. I’ll take the driver.”

As usual, Lord Robert Weatherstoke said and did nothing to contradict his only son as Mortimer leaped from the coach and slammed the door behind him.

Lorelai barely blamed her passive father anymore. Mortimer was so much larger than him these days, and ever so much crueler.

She had to adjust her throbbing leg to see the men making their way through the gray of the early-evening deluge. Just enough remained of daylight to delineate color variations.

The unfortunate man was a large smudge of gore against the verdant spring ground cover. Upon Mortimer and the driver’s approach, he curled in upon himself not unlike a salted snail. Only he had no shell to protect his beaten body.

Lorelai swallowed profusely in a vain attempt to keep her heart from escaping through her throat as the man was hoisted aloft, each arm yoked like an ox’s burden behind a proffered neck. Even though Mortimer was the tallest man she knew, the stranger’s feet dragged in the mud. His head lolled below his shoulders, so she couldn’t get a good look at his face to ascertain his level of consciousness.

Other parts of him, though, she couldn’t seem to drag her eyes away from.

She did her best not to look between his legs, and mostly succeeded. At a time like this, modesty hardly mattered, but she figured the poor soul deserved whatever dignity she could allow him.

That is to say, she only peeked twice before wrenching her eyes upward.

The muscles winging from his back beneath where his arms spread were ugly shades of darkness painted by trauma. The ripples of his ribs were purple on his left side, and red on the other. Blunt bruises interrupted the symmetrical ridges of his stomach, as though he’d been kicked or struck repeatedly. As they dragged him closer, what she’d feared had been blood became something infinitely worse.

It was as though his flesh had been chewed away, but by something with no teeth. The plentiful meat of his shoulder and chest, his torso, hips, and down his thigh were grotesquely visible.

Burns, maybe?

“Good God, how is he still alive?” The awe in her father’s voice reminded her of his presence as they scurried to open the carriage door and help drag the man inside. It took the four of them to manage it.

“He won’t be unless we hurry.” The driver tucked the man’s long, long legs inside, resting his knees against the seat. “I fear he won’t last the few miles to Brentwood.”

Ripping her cloak off, Lorelai spread it over the shuddering body on the floor. “We must do what we can,” she insisted. “Is there a doctor in Brentwood?”

“Aye, and a good one.”

“Please take us there without delay.”

“O’course, miss.” He secured the door and leaped into his seat, whipping the team of fresh horses into a gallop.

As they lurched forward, the most pitiful sound she’d ever heard burst from the injured man’s lips, which flaked with white. His big arm flailed from beneath the cloak to protect his face, in a gesture that tore Lorelai’s heart out of her chest.

The burn scored the sinew of his neck and up his jaw to his cheekbone.

Pangs of sympathy slashed at her own skin, and drew her muscles taut with strain. Lorelai blinked a sheen of tears away, and cleared emotion out of her tight throat with a husky sound she’d made to soothe many a wounded animal on the Black Water Estuary.

His breaths became shallower, his skin paler beneath the bruises.

He was dying.

Without thinking, she slid a hand out of her glove, and gently pressed her palm to his, allowing her fingers to wrap around his hand one by one.

“Don’t go,” she urged. “Stay here. With me.”

His rough, filthy hand gripped her with such strength, the pain of it stole her breath. His face turned toward her, though his eyes remained closed.

Still, it heartened her, this evidence of awareness. Perhaps, on some level, she could comfort him.

“You’re going to be all right,” she crooned.

“Don’t lie to the poor bastard.” Mortimer’s lip curled in disgust. “He’s no goose with a defective wing, or a three-legged cat, like the strays you’re always harboring. Like as not he’s too broken to be put back together with a bandage, a meal, and one of your warbling songs. He’s going to die, Lorelai.”

“You don’t know that,” she said more sharply than she’d intended, and received a sharp slap for her lapse in wariness.

“And you don’t know what I’ll do to you if you speak to me in that tone again.”

Most girls would look to their fathers for protection, but Lorelai had learned long ago that protection was something upon which she could never rely.

Her cheek stinging, Lorelai lowered her eyes. Mortimer would take it as a sign of submission, but she only did it to hide her anger. She’d learned by now to take care around him in times of high stress, or excitement. It had been her folly to forget … because she knew exactly what he was capable of. The pinch of her patient’s strong grip was nothing next to what she’d experienced at the hands of her brother on any given month.

Ignoring the aching throb in her foot, Lorelai dismissed Mortimer, leaning down instead to stroke a dripping lock of midnight hair away from an eye so swollen, he’d not have been able to open it were he awake.

Across from her, Mortimer leaned in, as well, ostensibly studying the man on the floor with equal parts intrigue and disgust. “Wonder what happened to the sod. I haven’t seen a beating like this in all my years.”

Lorelai schooled a level expression from her face at the reference to his many perceived years. He was all of twenty, and the only violence he witnessed outside of sport, he perpetrated himself.

“Brigands, you suspect?” Sir Robert fretted from beside her, checking the gathering darkness for villains.

“Entirely possible,” Mortimer said flippantly. “Or maybe he is one. We are disturbingly close to Gallows Corner.”

“Mortimer,” their father wheezed. “Tell me you haven’t pulled a criminal into my coach. What would people say?”

The Weatherstoke crest bore the motto Fortunam maris, “fortune from the sea,” but if anyone had asked Lorelai what it was, she’d have replied, Quid dicam homines? “What would people say?”

It had been her father’s favorite invocation—and his greatest fear—for as long as she could remember.

Lorelai opened her mouth to protest, but her brother beat her to it, a speculative glint turning his eyes the color of royal sapphires. “If I’d hazard a guess, it would be that this assault was personal. A fellow doesn’t go to the trouble to inflict this sort of damage lest his aim is retribution or death. Perhaps he’s a gentleman with gambling debts run afoul of a syndicate. Or, maybe a few locals caught him deflowering their sister … though they left those parts intact, didn’t they, Duck?” His sly expression told Lorelai that he’d caught her looking where she ought not to.

Blushing painfully, she could no longer bring herself to meet Mortimer’s cruel eyes. They were the only trait Lorelai shared with her brother. Her father called them the Weatherstoke jewels. She actively hated looking in the mirror and seeing Mortimer’s eyes staring back at her.

Instead, she inspected the filthy nails of the hand engulfing her own. The poor man’s entire palm was one big callus against hers. The skin on his knuckles, tough as an old shoe, had broken open with devastating impact.

Whatever had happened to him, he’d fought back.

“He’s no gentleman,” she observed. “Too many calluses. A local farmhand, perhaps, or a stable master?” It didn’t strain the imagination to envision these hands gripping the rope of an erstwhile stallion. Large, magnificent beasts pitting their strength one against the other.

“More like stable boy,” Mortimer snorted. “I’d wager my inheritance he’s younger than me.”

“How can you tell?” With his features beyond recognition, Lorelai was at a loss as to the man’s age. No gray streaked his midnight hair, nor did lines bracket his swollen lips, so she knew he couldn’t be old, but beyond that …

“He’s not possessed of enough body hair for a man long grown.”

“But he’s so big,” she reasoned. “And his chest appears to have been badly burned, the hair might have singed right off.”

“I’m not referring to his chest, you dull-wit, but to his coc—”

“Mortimer, please.”

Lorelai winced. It was as close to a reprimand as her father ever ventured. Mortimer must have been very wicked, indeed. It was just her luck that he did so on perhaps the first occasion Lorelai had actually wanted her brother to finish a sentence.

A rut in the road jostled them with such force at their frantic pace, Lorelai nearly landed on the injured man. His chest heaved a scream into his throat, but it only escaped as a piteous, gurgling groan.

“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry,” she whimpered. Dropping to her knees, she hovered above him, the fingers of her free hand fluttering over his quaking form, looking for a place to land that wouldn’t cause him pain.

She could find none. He was one massive wound.

A tear splashed from her eye and disappeared into the crease between his fingers.

“Duck, perhaps it’s best you take your seat.” Her father’s jowly voice reminded her of steam wheezing from a teakettle before it’s gathered enough strength to whistle. “It isn’t seemly for a girl of your standing to be thus prostrated on the floor.”

With a sigh, she did her best to get her good foot beneath her, reaching for the plush golden velvet of the seat to push herself back into it.

An insistent tug on her arm tested the limits of her shoulder socket, forcing her to catch herself once more.

“Lorelai, I said sit,” Lord Southbourne blustered.

“I can’t,” she gasped incredulously. “He won’t let me go.”

“What’s this, then?” Mortimer wiped some of the mud away from the straining cords of the man’s forearm, uncovering an even darker smudge beneath. As he cleared it, a picture began to take shape, the artful angles and curves both intriguing and sinister until mottled, injured skin ruptured the rendering. “Was it a bird of some kind? A serpent?”

“No.” Lorelai shook her head, studying the confusion of shapes intently. “It’s a dragon.”

Copyright © 2018 by Kerrigan Byrne

My Review

I have only no word’s adequate enough to convey how much I loved this book, this is by far one of the best book’s I have read. It really is astoundingly good! This has everything that I personally look for in a historical romance; complex and flawed character’s in need of love, intricate and intriguing storyline, secondary character’s that are as brilliant as the lead’s all sprinkled with history and romance. I have only recently discovered Kerrigan Byrne’s work, and this is only the second book of hers I have read, but I know that I have found an author’s whose work I will be reading and re-reading for years to come.

While on her way home with her abusive and manipulative brother and father, fourteen-year-old Lorelei (I absolutely love that name, it’s beautiful) spot’s a man laying beside the road, forcing her father and brother to do the right thing and stop to check on him. Finding that he is still alive Lorelei takes it upon herself to nurse the intriguing young man back to health. To her he is like a breath of fresh air in her dark oppressive life with her bullying family, she takes pleasure in nursing her broken angel back from the underworld. Even once he regained consciousness she took pleasure in trying to help him regain his memory, without much luck. She was inexplicably drawn to the damaged and devilishly attractive young man she named Ash, she had fallen in love with him. She senses deep down there is a dark and somewhat dangerous being that she yearns to help. Even at such a tender age she knew that there was something very special between them, then one day he was gone with a promise that he would he would come back for her, always.

I love those tender and careful moments between them as she helps him heal, he can’t remember anything about himself yet he feels like he has darkness in him but that seems to ebb away whenever she is around. His annoyance and confusion is heart-breaking, I love the way how she tries to bring him out of himself and that first kiss….so sweet!

Fast forward twenty years, Lorelei on the morning of her forced marriage with a man old enough to be her grandfather she is kidnapped by the deadliest, most ruthless Pirate that has ever sailed the sea’s. But it isn’t the kidnapping that has shaken her, it is who has taken her. The tall formidable, tattooed man before her telling her that she is now to marry him, the man who calls himself; The Rook is none other then the young man she gave her heart to and who left her all those years before.

Rook after a lifetime of hardship since he was forced to leave her he has been through torture and torment to become the ruthless, dark and deadly man he is now. Yet the one thing that has always kept him alive was the thought of Lorelei and knowing that he would find a way to return to her and claim her as his own. He has set out to avenge her; his golden angel, his saviour from those that wish to or have harmed her. But his well laid plan takes a bit of an unexpected turn as when he finally gets the women he has loved for all those years in his grasp, she appears to hate him. Which a well-placed knee in his family jewels seems to confirm. Can he bring her round to his way of thinking or will her golden touch and kindness make the phantom of the seas soften?

Well what can I say about Rook? What an amazing man, I will admit that while reading it I had this image of Tom Hardy in my head as Rook. Tattooed, huge, rough a bit deadly and yet with a kind heart, he has a lot of love in his cold black heart especially for Lorelei. She is the reason why he is standing breathing, his love for her is absolute and I think that if any man looks a woman the way Rook looks at Lorelei is a good man and so swoon worthy! I love this guy! He is charming in a brutal, in your face kind of way but what drew me to him rom the start was his vulnerable side, Rook has secrets and darkness that envelopes him, and yet he may be a blood thirsty pirate, but he is a good principled man.

This is book six in the Victorian Rebel’s series, now I haven’t read them all or the first in the series, but that doesn’t matter as I saw this as a stand-a-lone. These books are sexy, smart and so engrossing. The Duke with the Dragon Tattoo is a thrilling, edge of your seat highly sensual romance that will keep you glued from the very first page. You are gripped by the stylish writing, the sizzling chemistry between Rook and Lorelei. I do have a real soft spot for Victorian era romances and this one is amazing, it is fresh and atmospheric, yet at the same time it is dark and dangerous.

Absolutely fabulous, I cannot wait to read more from the Rebels.

This was an ARC copy via the publisher as part of this blog tour in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author

Whether she’s writing about Celtic Druids, Victorian bad boys, or brash Irish FBI Agents, Kerrigan Byrne uses her borderline-obsessive passion for history, her extensive Celtic ancestry, and her love of Shakespeare in every book. She lives at the base of the Rocky Mountains with her handsome husband and three lovely teenage girls, but dreams of settling on the Pacific Coast. Her Victorian Rebels novels include The Highwayman and The Highlander.

Author Website / Twitter: @Kerrigan_Byrne / Facebook: @KerriganByrneAuthor / Instagram: @KerriganByrne

Release Day Blitz of Lord Stanton’s Last Mistress by Lara Temple; Exclusive Interview & Giveaway

Posted on Updated on

I have the greatest pleasure of welcoming Historical Romance author; Lara Temple back to Chicks Rogues and Scandal’s for a very special release day post. I have a very insightful chat with lovely Lara, plus an exclusive giveaway.

About Lara

When I was fifteen I found a very grubby copy of Georgette Heyer’s Faro’s Daughter in an equally grubby book store. Several blissful hours later I emerged, blinking, into the light of day completely in love with Max Ravenscar and with Regency Romance.

But the love remained one-sided as I progressed through various fascinating but completely unrelated careers in finance and high tech until my mother gave me a firm shove by entering one my many drawer-directed novels into Harlequin’s annual writing contest. To my shocked surprise I not only made it to the top ten but Harlequin commissioned me to write five Regency romances.

I write strong, sexy, and suspenseful regency romances about complex individuals who give no quarter but deliver plenty of passion.

Like every (or most) writers, I would love to hear from you about books (not only mine) and history and whatever you find that makes you love this period and genre.

I live with my  husband and two children who are very good about my taking over the kitchen table for my writing (so I can look out over the garden and dream). I love to travel (especially to places steeped in history) and hike and read as many books as possible (which just about sums up my dream vacation). 

I recently went back to look for that grubby crowded little bookstore but couldn’t quite remember around what corner it was…hopefully it is still there and another girl is in the corner by the window, reading and dreaming…

Website / Twitter / Facebook / Goodreads / Amazon

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About the Book

Now he can’t resist her!

A Wild Lords and Innocent Ladies story: Lord Stanton’s stay on the island of Illiakos is shrouded in memories of fever and his mysterious nurse. Years later, an Illiakan royal visit to Stanton Hall reveals the princess’s chaperon Christina James is the woman who saved his life! Alexander is a master of control, but Christina makes him long to unleash the sinful side he’s buried…and unlock her passionate nature too!

Lord Stanton’s Last Mistress can be found at Amazon

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Interview

Frankie Hi Lara, Welcome back to Chicks, Rogues and Scandals! It’s so good to have you visit again.

Lara Hi Frankie, it is lovely to be here again, thanks so much for inviting me!

Frankie For those that don’t know you, can you tell us a little about yourself and your work?

Lara I’m Lara Temple and I write strong and sexy Regency romances for Harlequin/Mills & Boon. I’ve written stories for as long as I can remember but I never thought I’d actually become a published author and I’m still pretty new to the romance writing world. I was so lucky – I entered the Harlequin SYTYCW contest and was shocked to discover I not only reached the finals but I was offered a contract! It was an amazing experience and the beginning of a real romance with writing…

Frankie When you first sit-down to start a new book, do you work from a well drafted plan, or do you just go with the flow and hope for the best?

Lara I’m a definite panster with a hint of plotter. Part of what I love about writing is not quite knowing what my characters will to do next – some of my best scenes (I think) were a complete surprise to me, and sometimes I wonder where they came from! It’s like I sometimes look at my kids and am a little dumbfounded at how amazing they are (when they aren’t driving me up a wall, of course) and I wonder – could they possibly have come from me? But now that I write professionally there is always a point in my writing when I stop and take stock – when the story and characters are strong enough already to stand up to criticism and then I sit down and write an outline and begin to see what is working and what isn’t and then I go back to some more (now informed) pantsing.

Frankie As you’re a Historical Romance writer, I have to ask this crucial question; Who is your all time favourite Hero and Heroine?

Lara I always cringe when I have to choose just one story – I feel I’m cheating on all my other loves! But at the moment I have to say John Thornton and Margaret Hale from North and South. I’m writing about a dark and serious Highland Duke and John Thornton keeps buzzing around in my brain. I loved the book and the series almost equally – they both brought together romance, history, and social commentary in a beautiful and vivid way. Both the hero and heroine went through a full emotional journey and they truly earned their HEAs. I adore them.

Frankie Totally agree, I love their story. *Swoon* How do you decide which characters will take centre stage and which will be more background extras?

Lara That’s an interesting question! I love writing secondary characters even through there is not much room for them in 75,000 words. Often they shove their way onto the stage as I’m writing and I have to rein them in so they don’t take up too much space. But they are so important to give depth not just to the story, but also to the hero and heroine. For example, in my latest book, Lord Stanton’s Last Mistress, Alex’s aunt and Christina’s adoptive family help me show just how loyal and warm my damaged hero and heroine are. They are part of who Alex and Christina. I can’t imagine telling the story without them? The same goes for the animals that often find their way into the stories and even some inanimate objects or scenery. For example, Alex finds calm and expresses himself through wood carvings – they can be found throughout the house and Christina unknowingly connects to Alex through them. So they’re in the background, but also an integral part of the my hero and heroine…

Frankie That is so very fascinating, and I do love that side of Stanton. Do you have a favourite book, that you can read and re-read over and over again?

Lara I have a few but probably I am most faithful to my collection of Georgette Heyers – I’ve had them since I was a teenager and somehow they have managed to survive all my moves and travels. I particularly adore Sylvester and The Grand Sophy – two utterly different heroines but like all Heyer heroines they are unique and powerful characters and so worthy of being loved. Sometimes I think I might not have become a romance writer if I hadn’t come across Heyer’s books.

Frankie Which do you enjoy writing most, a series or a one off/standalone?

Lara I love series because they allow me to develop different nuances in characters. They are like a kaleidoscope – in each consecutive book I get to see a different aspect of the other characters and so when I reach their turn, they are more complex (which means more challenging but also much more rewarding for me). Right now I’m working on two series – one is my one and is called the Sinful Sinclairs (if you’ve read Lord Stanton you know his scandalous mother’s family is called Sinclair and this is about siblings, love letters, and uncovering the value of family).

The other series I am writing with three other Harlequin Mills&Boon authors (Janice Preston, Elizabeth Hobbes, and Nicole Locke) and it is a Highland romance series that goes back through time following two families. I’m writing the Regency book and absolutely loving it – I adore the setting (my first Highlander) but mostly I love collaborating with these amazing, talented ladies!

Frankie Oh, wow! Loving the sound of all this, I can’t wait to meet the Sinclairs and your Highland collaboration sounds so good. I have a last question, that’s just for fun.

If you won the lottery what is the first thing you would do with your winnings?

Lara Oh, I’m boring. I’d probably first help my mother and brothers and put money way for my kids. But THEN I would take my kids and husband on a long leisurely trip around Italy and probably eat far too much pasta and ice cream but come up with marvellous ideas for more books. I’d also forget about my other job and spend more time writing – that would be marvellous!

 

Frankie That sounds marvellous! Before, I let you go, I have something a little different. If you could ask your readers one question what would it be? And I will try and answer it.

Lara This is hard. Although I read romance, I would really like to get into the mind of more readers’ heads and ask what are the three key things they find make a perfect historical romance (so I can see if I’m heading in the right direction).

Frankie I will do my best to answer, the three key things that I find make a perfect historical romance are:

  • Atmosphere! – I love it when reading historical romances where the story is charged with feeling and you become so absorbed into the mood and tone of the era that it feels very real. Which includes the environment, and surroundings it all adds to the overall feel of the story.
  • Realism! – The best thing about reading historical romance has got to be getting to know the characters as people, understanding their actions and getting to know their history. By knowing them, you can connect with them and I love that.
  • Dialogue! – The key to a great romance is the to-ing and fro-ing between the hero and heroine, whether they start out as enemies and do nothing but argue or have been friends for life and are always teasing. For me there needs to be great bantering between them, everything from witty, fun and playful to snippy, naughty and gruff.

Frankie Thank you so much, Lara for chatting with me again, its always pleasure.

Lara It’s always a pleasure chatting with you, Frankie. Thanks so much for having me on your blog and I’m looking forward to reading more about your own amazing writing project based on your family’s history!

Frankie Thank you, so kind of you to say.

***

Giveaway

I have the most amazing giveaway, Lara has very generously donated signed copies of the brilliant Wild Lords and Innocent Ladies series to be given away to one very lucky winner. That is THREE SIGNED BOOKS!!!

!!!This series is amazing, by the way!!!

All you have to do is answer the very simple question, as Lara and myself have been chatting about heroes and heroines, the question is;

Who is your favourite Hero and Heroine?

This can be TV or Books or both, Lara has shared hers, mine is Heathcliffe and Cathy, so what yours?

Comment below, or on Twitter and Facebook

*Giveaway if open Internationally, closing date is 6th June 9pm GMT. Giveaway is open on here, Facebook and Twitter. Winner will be contacted by myself.

A Chat With… Author Lorna Gray

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Today I have the very great pleasure to have historical romance and intrigue author; Lorna Gray, author of In The Shadow of Winter visiting Chicks, Rogues and Scandals today. So, sit back and let’s let to know a little a bit about Lorna…

“I have a strong relationship with the past just like Eleanor, the heroine of debut novel In the Shadow of Winter. My inspiration to write about 1940s Britain comes from the traces that still live around us today. It comes from the tales that my elderly neighbours tell, and from the details and contradictions that have been recorded from a time we know so much about and yet no two people ever describe it in quite the same way.

This is what first inspired me to write In the Shadow of Winter and to set the intensely emotional adventure that unfolds within it, with all of its danger, romance and mystery, in the winter of 1947.

My exploration of the post-war period is continuing with The War Widow, with further releases planned for the coming months. I am published by Harper Impulse. I’m married and I live in the Cotswolds, UK.”

Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Goodreads / Amazon

Frankie Hi Lorna, Welcome to Chicks, Rogues and Scandals! Thank you for taking the time to chat with me today.

Firstly, Can you tell us a little about your latest release? This can be your most recent or up-and coming release.

Lorna Hi Frankie, thanks so much for having me on your blog! I’m delighted to tell you that my second post-WWII mystery The War Widow has just been released by HarperImpulse in paperback and on Kindle.

The year is 1947 and, while the bells of a Royal Wedding peel out to the fading echoes of war, danger stalks the coastline of Wales.

Labelled a hysterical, grieving divorcee in the wake of her ex-husband’s death, no one will believe Kate Ward is being pursued by two violent men demanding answers she cannot give. Not the police, not the guests at the Aberystwyth hotel, and certainly not the reclusive war-veteran-turned-crime-novelist, Adam Hitchen, a reserved widower who is the only source of kindness in a shadowy world of suspicion and fear.

As ghosts old and new rise to haunt her, Kate must rely on all her strength and courage as she risks both her identity and her life to uncover a twisted web of lies.

Frankie Wow!! The War Widow sounds absolutely amazing. If you could take a holiday in any era and place, When and where would it be?

Lorna Can I have a holiday in Regency England please? Dancing, horse riding and long summer days (or at least that’s how they make it look in the various adaptations of Pride and Prejudice). Sounds like heaven.

Frankie Sounds great to me. If you could have one of your books made into a film, which book would it be and who would play your lead characters?

Lorna If they made a film of The War Widow, the actress who plays Kate will have to really capture her quiet sense of humour and her oft-underestimated inner resolve. I think Carey Mulligan could do it perfectly. Adam could be played by Henry Cavill – suitably brooding with a nice smile.

 

Frankie This is a film that I would love to watch. Out of all your work, who is your favourite character and why?

Lorna Oooh, now that’s a tough one. Obviously, I’m totally in love with the hero and heroine in my books otherwise I wouldn’t love writing about them. But I really admire Kate (the heroine of The War Widow). She isn’t an extrovert but she’s steadfast. For me there is no more proof of her bravery than in the way she faces her most personal challenge of all – the question of who she is set against the way other people perceive her.

Frankie If you ever decided to write a different genre of book, which would it be?

Lorna One of these days I’ll have to try writing about the present day. I spend so much of my time thinking about the 1940s and researching the era and so on, focussing my attention on 2018 would be quite a challenge!

Frankie What are you reading at the minute? Or your last book you read?

Lorna I’ve just read a very unappealing-sounding memoir by a retired doctor for the sake of researching medical training in the post-war period. He called it Bombs, Boils and Brushes. Yuck. Luckily, he turned out to be a really likeable character and fantastically useful!

Frankie Despite the title, that sounds like an interesting read. When writing do you plan the full book ahead, or do you just go with the flow?

Lorna I always have an overall plan when I start but the finer details develop as I get to know my characters. They tend to have their own opinions about what they want to do.

Frankie How do you like to relax once you’ve finished writing?

Lorna I keep a fabulous little herd of goats and a few ponies so when my head is full of book-stuff and I need a little break, I go out to the field and talk to them for a while. Believe me, a goat is a wonderful companion when you want to forget a few stresses. They are either eating or sleeping and always pleased to see you. A bit like vegetarian dogs really.

Frankie Aw, what a wonderful way to de-stress. That sounds wonderful!

Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me today, Lorna I have just one more cheeky question, just for fun….

If you were stranded in the middle of nowhere over night, no civilisation around, with nothing but your backpack what four other things would you have with you?

Glenfinnan

Lorna Well, if I was going to be stranded, I’d have to make sure it was somewhere I’d really like to be such as Scotland. So let’s say I’ve managed to hitch a ride on the Fort William to Mallaig train (the Harry Potter train) and stepped off as it was rolling gently around the perimeter of one of the great lochs. It’ll be summer, obviously, so the air will have that warm, slightly mossy smell. There are a few pine trees growing on an island in the middle of the lock and the sky is just settling to dusk, turning the expanse of water a dappled mixture of very soft blue and pink. There won’t be a train back again until tomorrow so I’ll find myself a nice flat bit of ground which is dry and just sufficiently sheltered by the rising land to my back. Out of my backpack will come a blanket for warmth and comfort, a packed tea containing all sorts of nice things and a cushion for my head. I’ll lean back against a convenient rock that’s still warm from the sun and I’ll watch the rabbits hopping by and the buzzards heading to their roost and wait until the owls come out.

And because I still have one spare item that I’m allowed to bring with me, I imagine I’ll have asked my husband to come along too. Because at moments like that, it’s really nice to have someone on hand who will quietly share their thermos with you.

Frankie Aww, that’s really lovely! I can see vividly now. Thank you!

***

In The Shadow of Winter

The Cotswolds, 1947

The relentless winter of 1947 holds post-war Britain in its deadly grip, and Eleanor Phillips rides out from her beleaguered Cotswold farm to rescue a stranger lost in the storm. But the near-dead man is no stranger and when she recognises Matthew Croft, the old ties of a failed romance tug deeply. Her sweetheart has returned from the war…

Suspicion, the police and the panicked flight of a desperate man beat a path to her door. And with a wanted man hidden in her home and stealing back into her heart, Eleanor must be on her guard—for the net is closing in on them both and enemies are all around…

On sale now and can be purchased at Amazon.

The War Widow

The echoes of war live long in the mind…

Wales, 1947

Injured and terrified after an attempted abduction, desperation drives artist Kate Ward to the idyllic scene of her ex-husband’s recent suicide. Labelled a hysterical, grieving divorcée, no one believes she is being pursued by two violent men demanding answers she cannot give. Not the police, not the doctors, and not the guests at the Aberystwyth hotel she has come to in an attempt to find out what happened to her charismatic photographer ex-husband, and why her sanity—and her life—are now at risk.

Kate can trust no one, not even the reclusive war-veteran-turned-crime-novelist, Adam Hitchen, a reserved widower and the only source of kindness in a shadowy world of suspicion and fear. And as ghosts old and new rise to haunt her, Kate must rely on all her strength and courage to uncover the shocking truth hidden within a twisted web of lies…

On sale now and can be purchased at Amazon.

Exclusive Cover Reveal – Daughter of the King (Derbfine Series #3) by Ashley York

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I have the great pleasure of hosting an exclusive cover reveal of Ashley York’s up and coming release; Daughter of the King which is book three in the Derbfine Series.

A mistaken identity. A gruesome murder. Was it self-defense? Or Regicide?

Trained as a warrior, Brighit of Clan Cruadhlaoch despises the trappings and demands of womanhood…

Selfish dreams need to be set aside for the good of the clan, but a shocking murder only causes more turmoil. Especially as she stands accused. With no one else to turn to, can Brighit find escape in the arms of her new husband or will he require she reveal her inner most secrets?

Darragh of Clan MacNaughton is expected to follow his father into kingship but has little desire for the coveted title…

His willful wife is another matter. He has great desire for her. Despite her denial, he sees her womanly virtues and it sets him afire to know her, both body and soul. Will she resist his overwhelming need to possess all of her?

Daughter of the King is to be released 17th March 2018, and is available for pre-order at Amazon.com / Amazon UK

For more details of this series Amazon / Website

💜💜💜

Award-winning author Ashley York writes historical romance full of passion and intrigue set in 11th and 12th century Ireland, Scotland, and England where life was wild and survival was never guaranteed.

Whether it’s in the mysterious ring forts of Ireland, the Scottish Highlands, or the battle fields of Hastings, her characters fight hard and play hard. Good or evil, primary or secondary, they’ll yank at your emotions and make it hard to put her books down.

Passionate about history and research, York may tweak some historical facts (like the location of the Baron’s Rebellion) but the flavor of the time is undeniable. With heroes and heroines you’ll want to read about again and again, her stories are fresh and unpredictable but still finish with a satisfying HEA.
Website / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads / Amazon

A Chat With…Author Katrina Cudmore

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I have the great pleasure of Welcoming Contemporary Romance author Katrina Cudmore, author of Tempted by her Greek Tycoon to Chicks Rogues and Scandals. So sit back and lets get to know a little about Katrina…

Katrina Cudmore grew up on a farm in the Irish countryside before leaving to study for a B.A. in Psychology at the University of Cork and subsequently a M.Sc. in Human Relations at the London School of Economics. Katrina met her husband in Boston U.S. and worked for several years in the UK before returning to Ireland where she now lives in Cork city with her husband, four busy children and her beloved dog. Katrina writes sweet romances for Harlequin Romance/Mills & Boon True Love.

Website / Twitter / Facebook

Frankie Hi, Welcome to Chicks, Rogues and Scandals! Thank you for taking the time to chat with me today, Firstly what five word’s would you use to describe yourself?

Katrina Hi Frankie, thank you so much for asking me to participate in this interview. Five words to describe me? I guess, a chatty, introverted, laidback but anxious Gemini!

Frankie Ha,ha! I love that, If you could live in any era and place, When and where would it be? And Why?

Katrina California in the 1950’s. Think Grease the movie! Who wouldn’t want to be surrounded by all of that sunshine, fab music and boundless optimism?

Frankie Ooh! How fabulous, Who was your childhood hero?

Katrina Countess Markievicz, who was an Irish nationalist, suffragette and advocate for the poor in the early part of the twentieth century. She was fearless and outspoken and was jailed on a number of occasions for her role in the fight for Irish independence.

Frankie Ooh, what a wonderful lady, I will have to read up on her. What is your favourite time of the year?

Katrina Without a doubt springtime. My heart lifts when I spot the first daffodil of the year and I welcome the longer days and dawn chorus with open arms.

Frankie Out of all your work, who is your favourite character and why?

Katrina That’s a really hard question! I think I’d have to say the hero of my latest book, ‘Tempted by Her Greek Tycoon’ Loukas Christou. I love his family values, quiet sense of humour and fundamental kindness. The fact that he’s a six foot four, Greek God helps too!

Frankie Where does your inspiration for your books come from?

Katrina Usually it’s something I observe in either real life or a quote from an interview. For instance, Georgie the heroine in ‘Tempted’ was inspired by a TV programme that followed people trying to make a new life abroad- one participant was building a boutique hotel in Spain which had always been the dream of her father who sadly passed away before he was able to realise that ambition. In my story, Georgie travels to the Greek Island of Talos to realise her own dad’s dream of renovating a property on the sun drenched island.

Frankie What three tip’s would you pass on to an aspiring author?

Katrina Persistence – rejections are really tough to take but believe that with each manuscript you submit, you are becoming a better writer.
Read – read the romance writers you love and analyse how they manage to draw you in. Read other genres. Read writing blogs. Listen to writing and creative podcasts. Write for your own enjoyment, find your own authentic voice.

Frankie What wonderful tips, thank you for sharing those, If you were hosting a dinner party what three people would you invite? (They can be real/fictional, from any era)

Katrina Only three! I’d have to go with Tom Hanks, Tina Fey and Sandi Toksvig. I adore all three, for their humour and intelligence.

Frankie What a cool dinner party, Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to chat with me today, I have just one more cheeky question, just for fun . . . What is your all-time favourite naughty but nice food?

Katrina I love food! Naming one is almost impossible…but if I have to, I’d go with Sherry Trifle with lashings of cream. The ultimate comfort food

Frankie Oh, yes! That sounds amazing! Thank you so much for visiting today, Katrina.

Katrina I’ve had such fun taking part in this interview Frankie, thank you!

Katrina’s lasted release is ‘Tempted by Her Greek Tycoon’

Loukas Christou needs a wife…

For the luxury hotel tycoon, honoring his parents’ memory by acquiring their dream hotel should be simple. But to complete the deal he must be married. Enter temporary PA Georgie Jones, who offers to be his matchmaker!

Georgie never stays anywhere long-term—her mother’s abandonment proved that even the strongest relationships never last. She should be focused on finding Loukas a bride, but resisting the temptation of her Greek tycoon’s kiss is easier said than done!

Amazon.com / Amazon.co.uk / The Book Depository / Harlequin ebooksItunes / Barnes & Noble / Kobo

Spotlight on A Little Christmas Faith by @KathrynFreeman1 @ChocLituk @rararesources #Spotlight #BlogTour

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I was born in Wallingford but have spent most of my life living in a village outside Windsor. A former pharmacist, I’m now a medical writer who also loves to write romance. Some days a racing heart is a medical condition, others it’s the reaction to a hunky hero…

I’ve two teenage boys and a husband who asks every Valentine’s Day whether he has to bother buying a card again this year (yes, he does) so the romance in my life is all in my head. Then again, my husband’s unstinting support of my career change goes to prove that love isn’t always about hearts and flowers – and heroes can come in many disguises.

Website / Facebook / Twitter

Little Christmas Faith

Is it time to love Christmas again?

Faith Watkins loves Christmas, which is why she’s thrilled that her new hotel in the Lake District will be open in time for the festive season. And Faith has gone all out; huge Christmas tree, fairy lights, an entire family of decorative reindeer. Now all she needs are the guests …

But what she didn’t bank on was her first paying customer being someone like Adam Hunter. Rugged, powerfully built and with a deep sadness in his eyes, Adam is a man that Faith is immediately drawn to – but unfortunately he also has an intense hatred of all things Christmassy. As the countdown to the big day begins, Faith can’t seem to keep away from her mysterious guest, but still finds herself with more questions than answers: just what happened to Adam Hunter? And why does he hate Christmas?

Purchase from Amazon UK