The perfect cosy crime bundle, featuring all three Country Gift Shop mysteries.
Glen Cove is a rather murderous place.
Dead to Begin With
Vicky Simmons is looking for the simple life. She’s ready to trade in London for a slower pace by opening a British Country Gift Shop in her old hometown on the coast of Maine.
All is looking rosy until Vicky finds herself face-to-face with a dead body and Michael is the prime suspect. When the sheriff links the motive for murder to the unsolved disappearance of a teenage girl twenty years ago, Vicky must turn amateur sleuth. She’ll stop at nothing to save Michael…and unmask the real killer!
Grand Prize: Murder!
Inviting the bestselling cozy crime author Bella Brookes to town is going to be the best business move Vicky Simmons has made yet. Not only is Bella going to sign her books to kick off Glen Cove’s annual One-Mile Book Market, but she’s also running her famous scavenger hunt right in town. That’s sure to win over the townsfolk!
All is going to plan until a dead body is discovered, drawing Vicky straight to the scene of the crime. After the last murder Vicky had vowed to stay out of Sheriff Cash’s way, but when death comes to town she finds herself embroiled in the investigation.
Written into the Grave
Vicky Simmons’s life was supposed to be relaxing after she moved back home to the coast of Maine, but instead of baking bread and gardening she’s been chasing down killers and it’s time to stop. Vicky is ready to slow down again and vows to start focusing more on her roses than solving crime.
That is until she reads the new serial in the paper over breakfast, describing a brutal murder that takes place on a cliff top road just above a beach. Only to find herself moments later, walking Coco and Mr. Pug, face to face with a dead body on the sand. The murder victim described exactly as he was in the story…
A Country Gift Shop Collection is available for pre-order at Amazon
A Romantic History by Lynne Shelby
A boy and a girl grow up together in the country and fall in love. He is lured away by a sophisticated woman from the city, she is pursued by two other men, but eventually the young couple get back together and marry. It sounds like the plot of a romantic novel – and it is – but this particular book, ‘Daphnis and Chloe,’ was written in ancient Greece, around 1,800 years ago. Unsurprisingly, as they were written on papyrus scrolls, only five romantic novels have survived from that time, but I like to imagine that the ancient Greeks, when they weren’t inventing politics, philosophy and maths, liked nothing better than to settle down with a cup of wine and a good romance!
Skip a few centuries to the Middle Ages, and people were still reading or listening to love stories, particularly tales of heroic knights rescuing damsels in distress and winning their love. The epic poems and other fiction of Medieval times aren’t ‘novels,’ as we think of them today, and they have far fewer happy endings than we might like, but they are certainly romantic, and the names of the couples whose often doomed love affairs are told by Medieval authors are still well known – think of Tristan and Isolde or Lancelot and Guinevere.
Another popular romance was that of Troilus and Cressida, which takes place against the background of the Trojan War. In the 14th Century, Chaucer, better known as the writer of the ‘Canterbury Tales,’ wrote a version of this story, ‘Troilus and Criseyde’ in which the hero doesn’t believe in love – until he sees the heroine. He falls for her, she falls for him, there is an exchange of love letters, a night of bliss, mistaken jealousy – all the ingredients of a romantic novel, although, sadly for a modern reader, the story does not end well.
Love stories have been told and retold for centuries, but the first romantic novel in the modern sense, ‘Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded’ by Samuel Richardson, written entirely from the heroine’s POV, was published in 1740. In the novel, Pamela Andrews, a young serving maid, constantly fights off the attempts of her master, Mr B, to seduce her, and he eventually rewards her virtue when he proposes. Back in the 18th Century, marriage between a lower class maid and a landowning squire was considered shocking, and Pamela has to wait for her happy ending until Mr B’s family accept her as his wife. More shocking to modern readers is the fact that Mr B appears to be a serial sexual predator, but in its day the novel was a huge success – there were even playing cards and ladies’ fans printed with scenes from the book.
Half a century later, in 1811, Jane Austen published ‘Sense and Sensibility,’ the first of her six books that were to ensure the continuing popularity of the romantic genre and inspire romantic novelists right up to the present day. The romance between the feisty Elizabeth Bennet and the proud Darcy, an iconic alpha hero if ever there was one, in ‘Pride and Prejudice,’ their love overcoming the obstacles of her prejudice and his pride, has surely influenced most romantic novels that have been written since.
Fast forward to the 20th Century, when, with mass market books readily available to all, and the publishers Mills & Boon starting to sell books in newsagents and supermarkets, the popularity of romantic fiction continued to grow.
In 1919, ‘The Sheik’ by E M Hall became a best-seller. Again, modern readers would find much of the plot, in which the hero rapes the heroine, completely horrific, but back then, the book’s extraordinary success led to it being made into a film starring heartthrob of the day, Rudolph Valentino, that broke box-office records.
Much more palatable to modern readers, are the books of Georgette Heyer. Her first novel, The Black Moth, published in 1921, was set in the 1750s, but she is still best known for her popular Regency romances, that with their impeccably researched historical background, essentially created and established the historical romance.
Another book that had a lasting influence, is ‘Bridget Jones’ Diary’ by Helen Fielding. Published in 1996, this novel, inspired by ‘Pride and Prejudice,’ was one of the first books to be described as chick-lit, and with its hapless yet likeable heroine, it certainly set the tone for many rom coms written since.
And no look back at 20th Century romantic fiction would be complete without mention of Dame Barbara Cartland, one of the most prolific and commercially successful romantic novelists of all time, with 723 books published between 1925 and the year 2000.
Times change, and today’s romantic novels have evolved to reflect the 21st Century lives of their readers. Sweet young innocent heroines who resist the advances of overbearing males have given way to independent women of all ages, with careers and past relationships. What hasn’t changed, is the love story at the heart of the book.
About The Author
Lynne Shelby writes contemporary women’s fiction/romance, and her new novel, The One That I Want, is published on 26 July 2018. When not writing or reading, Lynne can usually be found at the theatre or exploring a foreign city – Paris, New York, Rome, Copenhagen, Seattle, Reykjavik – writer’s notebook, camera and sketchbook in hand. She lives in London with her husband, and has three adult children who live nearby.
I have the great pleasure of welcoming back wonderful Medieval Romance author; Elisabeth Hobbes to Chicks, Rogues and Scandal, Elisabeth is the writer of naughty knights and brooding heroes for Harlequin, Mills and Boon.
Elisabeth’s writing career began when she entered her first novel into Harlequin’s So You Think You Can Write contest in 2013 and finished in third place. She was offered a two book contract and hasn’t looked back! Since then she has published six Medieval romances with Harlequin Mills & Boon and doesn’t have any plans to stop.
Elisabeth works as a Primary teacher but she’d rather be writing full time because unlike five year olds, her characters generally do what she tells them. When she isn’t writing, she spends most of her spare time reading and is a pro at cooking one-handed while holding a book. She loves historical fiction and has a fondness for dark haired, bearded heroes.
Elisabeth enjoys skiing, singing, and exploring tourist attractions with her family. Her children are resigned to spending their weekends visiting the past. She loves hot and sour soup and ginger mojitos- but not at the same time!
She lives in Cheshire with her husband, two children and two cats with ridiculous names because the car broke down there in 1999 and she never left.
Frankie Hi Elisabeth, Welcome back to Chicks, Rogues and Scandals! Thank you for taking the time to chat with me today.
Elisabeth Hi, thank you for having me. It’s great to be here.
Frankie Firstly, can you tell us a little about yourself and your books?
Elisabeth I’ve been writing seriously since 2013 when I entered Harlequin’s So You Think You Can Write contest and finished third. I never expected to get beyond the submission, let alone be offered a two-book contract as a result! I’m a perpetually frazzled mum to two pre-teen Aspies and also a teacher so the fact I manage to write anything constantly amazes me. I’d love to write full time. Maybe one day…
My books are set in the Medieval period which is one I adore. My heroes tend to be the underdog rather than the nobility. The era was brutal and hard and I don’t want to gloss over that so my books are quite grisly in places. Readers should be prepared for a bit of blood and suffering as well as lots of romance, and of course the all-important Happy Ever After. One reader described them as ‘romance in a post Game of Thrones era’ which I loved.
Frankie Wow! Where do you get the time and energy? That is one of the things that I love about your books, it is very real. If you could take a holiday in any era and place, When and where would it be?
Elisabeth I would love to visit Rome. Probably under the reign of Vespasian when the empire was a little more stable and enjoying a break from the more nutty rulers. Luckily there are plenty of sites still available to go visit and imagine myself back then.
Frankie Do you plan out yours stories, or are you more for going with the flow of the writing?
Elisabeth I always set out to plan them – I generally know how the HEA will happen and a few key scenes – but my characters have a habit of doing their own thing and changing the story. I do wish they would behave!
Elisabeth My new release is called Beguiled by the Forbidden Knight. It’s set shortly after the Norman Conquest of England and is a companion to The Saxon Outlaw’s Revenge. That book had a Norman heroine and Saxon hero so I wanted to twist things around in this book. My heroine Aelfhild is from York, which was still very much a Viking city at the time, and my hero Gui is from Brittany.
Gui is asked by his friend Gilbert to go fetch Gilbert’s promised bride, Sigrun, from the priory she has been living in. To gain admission he pretends to be Gilbert. Sigrun is terrified of marriage so her maidservant Aelfhild poses as her. Gui and Aelfhild are instantly attracted to each other but both believe the other one is someone else- and already spoken for.
Frankie Do you have a writing ritual?
Elisabeth I work four days so I have one day for writing. I drop my daughter at school then go to the library where I know I won’t be tempted to go online and waste my day away on social media. Apart from that I try to grab any spare time I can to write or make notes and always have a notebook with me in case inspiration strikes.
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?
Elisabeth I’d love my Danby Brothers miniseries to be filmed but I couldn’t choose between the brothers so can I be greedy and say two? I’d love Aidan Turner to play Hal in The Blacksmith’s Wife and Clemence Poesy would play Joanna. I’d pick Santiago Cabrera as Roger in Redeeming the Rogue Knight and Margot Robbie as Lucy.
The Blacksmith’s Wife
Redeeming The Rogue Knight
Frankie Oooohh! Yes, now they would be films I would love to watch! What is it about the Medieval era that catches your attention?
Elisabeth I love the scope for danger and action. The period allows for grittiness and conflict that makes for so much excitement and drama. Characters can be put into dangerous situations that make their eventual victory and HEA even more satisfying. It was when the code of chivalry and idea of courtly love emerged, leading to honourable men willing and able to protect the women they love.
Frankie Your Medieval books are amazing, would you ever consider writing a book set in a different era? And if so which?
Elisabeth Thank you, I’m really pleased you enjoy my stories. I’m actually changing time period for my new book. It’s one of four books in a series set in Scotland that I’m writing with my friends Janice Preston, Lara Temple and Nicole Locke. They’re each set in a different era and mine is set in the early Tudor period. Luckily it is a time I studied at university and isn’t too great a leap from the Middle Ages so I’m partly familiar with it. I have a story I’d love to write set in the 1920s but I’m keeping that to myself until (if) I have time to write it.
Frankie Oh, wow! This new series sounds like it’s going to be great, I hope you do get the chance to write you 1920’s story.
Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to chat with me today, Elisabeth. I have just one more cheeky question, just for fun. What is your ideal girly night?
Elisabeth I love a night in with a bottle of wine and a good film, something like A Knight’s Tale or Hairspray. And we’d have to remember the 3 Cs – Crisps, chocolate and Comfy trousers!
Frankie Hahaha! I love it and I am so with you on the three Cs.
Thank you, Elisabeth!
About the Book
Beguiled By The Forbidden Knight
He’s her enemy…
…and she must not fall for him!
When her mistress is taken as an enemy Knight’s betrothed, handmaiden Aelfhild knows it would be too dangerous for her Lady – she must go in her place! But there’s more to the scarred Knight than she first thought…she isn’t expecting to fall for him! As the line between friend and enemy blurs, Aelfhild realises she might be protecting her mistress, but not her heart…
Beguiled by the Forbidden Knight is to be released on 31st May and can be pre-ordered at Amazon
Mystery and desire cloak the Scottish Highlands
Unruly. Unmarried. Unapologetic. Catriona Mackenzie’s reputation precedes her everywhere she goes. Her beloved late aunt Zelda taught Cat to live out loud and speak her mind, and that’s exactly what she does when Zelda’s legacy—a refuge for women in need—comes under fire. When her quest puts her in the path of the disturbingly mysterious Hamlin Graham, Duke of Montrose, Cat is soon caught up in the provocative rumors surrounding the dark duke. Never one to retreat, Cat boldly goes where no one else has dared for answers.
Shrouded in secrets, a hostage of lies, Hamlin must endure the fear and suspicion of those who believe he is a murderer. The sudden disappearance of his wife and the truth he keeps silent are a risk to his chances at earning a coveted parliamentary seat. But he’s kept his affairs tightly held until a woman with sparkling eyes and brazen determination appears unexpectedly in his life. Deadly allegations might be his downfall, but his unleashed passion could be the duke’s ultimate undoing.
Oh, my word! This is incredibly good! I have been a fan of Julia London’s work for ages now and I have been avidly reading this ‘Highland Grooms’ series with relish but this, I have to say is the best of the series, so far. I will admit that the last book; Aulay’s story didn’t live up to the previous book’s, after reading Rabbie’s and Cailean’s stories I didn’t think that this series could get any better and along come Catriona and Hamlin.
After her auntie Zelda’s death, Catriona is left to run Kishorn Abbey on her own, for it is in fact a refuge for women who for whatever reason need a safe place to turn to. Catriona has had a lot to deal with, she was by her auntie Zelda’s side through her illness and slowly she withdrew from society and public life and now she is practically a shell of what she used to be. To an extent that her family are worried, she is drinking heavily, unsociable and severely unhappy. She maybe proud of her spinsterhood and the fact that she doesn’t want or need a man in her life, deep down she is lonely.
Which is why they plot against her and send her to recuperate at her uncle Knox’s, Catriona doesn’t intend to spend her days lounging about she fully intends to get her wealthy English uncle’s support to help save Kishorn Abbey from being taken by the crown. But her well laid out plan’s soon take a turn when she meets the mysterious and devilishly handsome Duke of Montrose. As soon as she sees him across the Inn for the first time in years she feels alive and intrigued by something.
From the onset of meeting Catriona, you see straight way that there is a darkness hanging over her head, London has wonderful job with Catriona’s depression in the first part she hasn’t gone over done it but in those few moment’s you can get a glimpse of Catriona’s state of mind and she isn’t a happy woman. She tries to show to the world she is content but deep down she is a crying wreck.
Hamlin Graham is living under a dark and heavy cloud, of secrets, lies and scandal after the disappearance of his wife all of society think’s that Hamlin murdered her. He has lived with that hanging over his head, it has tarnished his reputation blackened his good name and now driven him to live a lonely and isolated life. It would all be well and good if he didn’t have his hopes set on gaining his seat in Parliament, after all Scotland were only allowed a handful of seats and he wanted one. He had plans to help and he could only do that once he gained that seat. But the scandal in his past and the secret he holds close to his heart are standing in his way.
That is until he meets feisty, determined kindred spirit; Catriona. Who brings the sunshine back into his dark life and makes his once dead heart begin to beat again. Catriona is the only one that knows Hamlin wouldn’t have killed his wife, he may be a huge, brawny and monosyllabic man but he she sees the goodness, she knows beneath that rude persona there lies a gentle, sensitive man.
Oh, my goodness, what a stud! Hamlin is soooo swoon-worthy, he ruggedly handsome. Kind, generous, dark and brooding. Plus, he is very good with his hands in more ways than just welding a hammer to fix his own roof, he isn’t your stereotypical duke. Part man part devil and when he looks at Catriona with those dark/black soulful eyes you melt. He is dark uncivilised and equally as sad as Catriona, they are a match made in heaven!
I love that first chapter where all the Mackenzie clan are all together after Zelda’s death, their closeness and protectiveness to one and other is so heart-warming. This is why I love this family so much, they maybe brutish men in kilts and fierce women with great mind, but they are also hugely supportive of each other and a wonderful family.
Just want to say that I am so intrigued by Nichol Bain who is Hamlin’s secretary. He is a mysterious young man, he has many secrets hidden behind those green eyes and I do hope that he will get a story of his own. He is quite a man I would love to know more about him.
This really is so good, wonderful storyline that keeps you hooked, and keeps you turning those pages to find out what happens’. Character’s that are engaging, intriguing and it’s a joy to watch as their relationship blossoms and their personal characters develop.
As I said in the beginning of the review, this is the best of the series, it’s thrilling, romantic, sexy with two of the best character’s. London has outdone herself with this, it is perfection!
This was an ARC copy via the Author’s PA in exchange for an honest review.
Tempting The Laird is to be released 26th June and can be pre-ordered at Amazon.
I have a wonderful and exclusive to Chicks Rogues and Scandals Giveaway, to be in for a chance to win some exclusive Julia London swag then just answer the question below.
As the Highland Grooms is set in Scotland, what is your favourite thing about Scotland?
It can be anything, from food, clothes, the highlands or something Scottish from TV, mine has got to be Outlander 😉 what’s yours?
This giveaway will be open on here and on the Chicks, Rogues and Scandals Facebook Page which means you have the chance to put your name into the hat twice.
(Eg: Comment on this post -1 entry / Comment & Like Facebook post – 1 entry)
Good luck everyone!
*Unfortunately, giveaway is only opened to US and UK, Giveaway closes on 31st May at midnight GMT. Winner will be announced as soon as possible after closing date.