Holiday Reading #3 – Jennifer Macaire – The Road to Alexander

Today I’m talking with author Jennifer Macaire, who has had both wonderful and awful experiences while on holiday.

Me: Welcome to Shelby Writes, Jennifer. First of all, can you tell us a little about your book, The Road to Alexander, and your heroine, Ashley?

rta coverJennifer: Ashley is a time-travel journalist who has fought to prove herself in a world that that believes her road in life was paved by her parents’ fortune. After winning a prestigious award, she is selected to travel through time and interview a historical figure. Choosing her childhood hero, Alexander the Great, she voyages back in time for less than a day to interview a man whose legend has survived to the present day. He mistakes her for Persephone, goddess of the dead, and kidnaps her. Stranded in the past, cold and aloof Ashley has to learn to befriend, to trust…and to love. Sex, love, war, & quite a bit of vino – it’s a Greek myth come to life…

Me: … and a perfect holiday read – certainly a book I will be reading on the beach this summer. What are your holiday plans for this year, Jennifer? Travelling abroad or staycation?

poloJennifer: My husband was a professional polo player – he’ll tell you his life has been one long holiday, traveling to different places to play polo. I’ll agree – the places were brilliant, but it was (and he’ll agree) a stressful life. So, in all our time together, we’ve only gone on holiday twice – once to the South of France, and once to Portugal. Ever other time it’s been a busman’s holiday, with my husband working and me tagging along. He still plays polo but now it’s mostly teaching and coaching, but our “holidays” are still for work! I work as a dental assistant in an office, so when I get my holidays, we usually leave and go to a polo tournament somewhere.

daughter n polo poniesThis year, we’ll be a week in the Medoc region, near the top of the Medoc peninsula, while my husband gives a polo clinic. We are lodged in the stables, which is actually much nicer than it sounds, being a studio apartment with its own bath.  (We’ve stayed in far worse places!) houseThen it’s off to Deauville for another week of polo coaching this time, and there we stay in a lonely farmhouse in the middle of nowhere – we rent it from friends – and it’s wonderful. No Wifi, no television – nothing but the cows lowing and every once in a while, a tractor.

Me: It sounds idyllic. Do you have a favourite place to go on holiday?

house doorJennifer: I enjoyed Portugal. It was our second vacation together where neither of us worked, and we drove from Paris to the Algarve (3 days – stopping along the way). I’d like to go back someday and see the rest of the country along the coast. Otherwise, I think my dream vacation would be to go to Jamaica and stay at a place called Jamaica Inn (we were there twice for polo tournaments) – I’d love to go back to just “lime around” as they say!

 Me: Which books will you be taking on holiday this year?

Jennifer: This year, I’m taking my kindle (as usual) and it is stocked with books I haven’t had time to read yet.

Former.ly by Dane Cobain, My Perfect Life at Cornish Cottage by SJ Crabb, Abi’s Neighbour
by Jenny Kane, French Kissing by Lynne Shelby, & the latest Jill Mansell book, Meet me at Beachcomber Bay. I think I’m set for the holidays!

Me: Great to see my book in there Jennifer – I hope you enjoy it. What was your most memorable holiday?

(Warning: Some readers may find this part of our talk distressing)

Jennifer: The most memorable vacation – but in a bad way – was when Playboy, my sister-in-law’s dachshund, was attacked by another dog on the beach. My husband and our twin sons and I had gone on holiday to the south of France with my brother and sister-in-law and their daughter. The irony was it was the first holiday we’d ever had without our husbands having to work – (the brothers were both professional polo players), and my sister-in-law and I decided we needed a vacation where there were no horses around.  My sister-in-law’s uncle rented us a cottage near the beach on the outskirts of a small town. We would walk to town every morning to shop and leave the children and the dogs in the house. One day, as we came back, they ran out to greet us and a stray dog who was in the area saw Playboy and bit him. It was terrible – there was nothing we could do – we rushed Playboy to the vet, but it was already too late. That was on the third day of our vacation – for the rest of the week we tried to enjoy the weather and the beach, but our hearts just weren’t in it. We still talk about the “most dreadful holiday ever.” In a way, it brought us closer together. But we still miss poor Playboy.

Thank you so much for visiting Shelby Writes, Jennifer, and for sharing your holiday experiences.

Taken with Lumia SelfieJennifer Macaire lives in France with her husband, three children, & various dogs & horses. She loves cooking, eating French chocolate, growing herbs and flowering plants on her balcony, and playing golf. She grew up in upstate New York, Samoa, and the Virgin Islands. She graduated from St. Peter and Paul high school in St. Thomas and moved to NYC where she modelled for five years for Elite. She went to France and met her husband at the polo club. All that is true. But she mostly likes to make up stories.

If you would like to purchase The Road to Alexander, or find out more about Jennifer and her writing, please follow the links below or copy and paste into your browser:

 

To purchase The Road to Alexander: https://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/B01N9OCMEO/accentpress-21

Website/blog: https://jennifermacaire.wordpress.com/

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/TimeforAlexander/

Holiday Reading #2 – Marie Laval – A Spell in Provence

What do writers read on holiday? I talk to author Marie Laval about the books she’s taking on holiday and her own summer book, ‘A Spell in Provence.’

ASpellinProvence3When an ancient spell weaves its dark magic in the hills of Provence…

With few roots in England and having just lost her job, Amy Carter decides to give up on home and start a new life in France, spending her redundancy package turning an overgrown Provençal farmhouse, Bellefontaine, into a successful hotel. Though she has big plans for her new home, none of them involves falling in love – least of all with Fabien Coste, the handsome but arrogant owner of a nearby château.  As romance blossoms, eerie and strange happenings in Bellefontaine hint at a dark mystery of the Provençal countryside which dates back many centuries and holds an entanglement between the ladies of Bellefontaine and the ducs de Coste at its centre. As Amy works to unravel the mystery, she begins to wonder if it may not just be her heart at risk, but her life too.

Me: Welcome, Marie. What are your holiday plans for this year?

Marie: This year I’m going to spend some time in France with two of my children and we will stay at my sister’s holiday house near Vichy, in the Massif Central. My sister and her friend are renovating a very old and a little rundown cottage, and I plan to relax in their garden and enjoy the peace and quiet. Apparently the house is in the middle of nowhere, and the only neighbours are cows and donkeys…and an Englishman called Justin who lives a self-sufficient lifestyle in his small hold down the road and terrorises passers-by with his flock of geese! One of the highlights of the year is the Potato Festival when people are allowed into a huge field to dig up as many potatoes they can carry in a bag. I believe the area is breathtakingly beautiful, with small villages and chateaux dotted around. I am really looking forward to spending time with my sister whom I haven’t seen for two years, and I hope to come back with great ideas of plots and settings for future novels…

I will also spend a few days in Lyon and hopefully see friends. Lyon is my hometown and it’s always a joy to return and stroll along the Quais de Saône and in the ‘Vieux Lyon’ – the medieval and Renaissance part of the city. We have two rivers in Lyon – the Saône and the Rhône (although some people say we have three, the third being Beaujolais wine!), which meet at the Southern tip of the city. Being French, one of my favourite occupation is of course to sit at the terrace of a café and watch the world go by!

Me: Which books will you be taking on holiday this year?

holiday booksMarie: It’s going to be a mixture of novels and research material for me this summer, Lynne. I am currently writing a novel set in the world of ancient manuscripts and Paris auction houses, and I have found a gem of a book by renown palaeontologist Christopher de Hamel which is called ‘Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts’ and which I have read already a few months ago, but now need to return to in order to make notes. I will also be reading ‘In a Dark Wood Wandering’ by Dutch author Hella S. Hasse which is set in the French Court during the Hundred Years War. Lastly I have just bought ‘Sleeper’s Castle’ by Barbara Erskine and ‘The French Lesson’ by Hallie Rubenhold, and I am very much looking forward to reading them!

Me: What is your favourite place to go on holiday?

DSCF1600Marie: What a tricky question.. I don’t really have a favourite place, but I know what makes a great holiday for me: my family, a cottage in the seaside, sunny afternoons and long walks on the beach, a visit to a few stately homes and picturesque villages, and delicious meals in country pubs. My best holidays so far have been in Devon and Northumberland, and in the South of France, but I dream of travelling to the far North of Scotland, where I believe the beaches are magnificent, and which was the setting of my historical romance trilogy ‘Dancing for the Devil’.

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Me: Thank you, Marie, I hope you have a wonderful summer. I’m looking forward to reading ‘A Spell in Provence.’

 Marie: Thank you very much for inviting me to your blog, Lynne.

 

 

MarieLaval (2)

 

Originally from Lyon in France, Marie moved to Lancashire in England a few years ago. She now works as a teacher, and in her spare time she loves dreaming up romantic stories and irresistible heroes. She writes both contemporary and historical romance, and her novels –  A SPELL IN PROVENCE, ANGEL HEART, THE LION’S EMBRACE and The DANCING FOR THE DEVIL Trilogy are published by Áccent Press.

To purchase A Spell in Provence, please follow the link or copy and paste into your browser:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Marie-Laval/e/B00A03UV3I/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

You can find Marie at:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/marie.laval.9

Twitter: @MarieLaval1

Blog: http://marielaval.blogspot.co.uk/

Holiday Reading #1 Marsali Taylor – Death on a Longship

One of the great pleasures of a summer holiday is sitting in the sun and reading a book.

death on a longship

A book I’ll be reading on the beach this summer is ‘Death on a Longship’ by Marsali Taylor.

In the book, yachtswoman Cass Lynch has just landed her dream job: she’s the skipper of a replica Viking longship in a high-profile Hollywood film, starring the famous actress Favelle. It takes Cass back to her native Shetland Islands, and the father she’s barely spoken to since she ran away to sea as a teenager. Then she finds a body on the longship deck, and before long she’s chief suspect…

This week I caught up with Marsali to find out which books she’ll be reading on holiday…
Me: Hi Marsali, What are your holiday plans for this year?

Elsie-InglisMarsali: First, our family holiday, which I’ll say more about in a minute; then, in September, I have such an exciting trip planned! An old lady I knew when I was a child was one of the ambulance drivers with Dr Eslie Inglis’ Scottish Womens’ Hospital, attached to the Serbian Army in WWI. Aunt Ysabel drove for them on the Russian Front in 1916, and came home via the Russian Revolution in St Petersburg. I transcribed and published her diaries, under the title Forgotten Heroines, and this put me in touch with an SWH enthusiast, who has organised a trip to the Serbian hospitals used by Dr Inglis. 1917 is the centenary of Dr Inglis’ death – she was already gravely ill with stomach cancer when she led the Russian trip – and the Serbs are making a big occasion of it. We’ll visit the places associated with her, and there’s to be a memorial ceremony. Most of the people going are relatives of Dr Inglis, and to be invited is a huge honour.
Then, in October – a week after returning from Serbia! – my husband and I are heading for Canada. I’ve always, always, wanted to go to Canada, so I leapt on the excuse of Bouchercon (the big American crime festival) being in Toronto. We’re having three days in Vancouver, then flying to the heart of the Rockies for three days more in the wilderness, doing guided walks and a raft trip, enjoying the autumn colour and hopefully seeing grizzly bears. Then we end with three days in Toronto. It’s going to be amazing.
Me: That sounds like two fabulous trips, Marsali. What is your favourite place to go on holiday?
Family gangstersMarsali: Loch Hourn, the most Norwegian of the Scottish lochs. I’m off there in just a week, to join my brother, sister, their assorted spouses and children, and my own daughter and grandchildren at the cottage where we spent our childhood summers. We lost the use of it when I was sixteen, and we all loved it too much to dare to go back, in case it had changed – until, for her 60th birthday, my sister said wistfully, ‘The farm’s a B&B now – I’d like to go there.’ For her, I booked us all in. We arrived, dreading it being all different, and you know, it wasn’t.

Family with boatIt was more gob-smackingly beautiful even than I remembered, and every twist in the road, every burn, every scent of heather and seaweed, was engraved in our hearts. We walked along to our cottage – it’s three miles from the head of the loch – and found, from what we could see with noses pressed to the windows, that it hadn’t changed either … and then the current owners kindly said, ‘But you must come back to the cottage next time!’ So we did, and found that our childhood heights were still pencilled up the wall, and some of my childhood books were on the shelves (I enjoyed re-reading them). There’s running water via the burn, no electricity, definitely no WiFi, and we’ll have a wonderful time. The children will make houses on the rocks, just as we did fifty years ago, and we’ll all mess about in boats, and go for long tramps on the hill; I’ll make doll-sized scones and pancakes just as my mum used to, and we’ll just enjoy being together, mixing across the generations.
Me: What was your most memorable holiday?

P1090994 (2)Marsali: Being a writer attending crime conferences has given me wonderful memories!
I’ve been driven at dawn through an Icelandic sunrise, crimson above the sharp, black hills, and seen a snow-white fox slipping through the lava. I imagined the clashing steel and coloured banners of the Cavalier court in the tree-lined Merton meadows in Oxford, and amused current-day students with my attempt at punting! I shuddered in a plague close deep under medieval Edinburgh, and enjoyed the organist practising in Norwich Cathedral.
P4110207.jpegAbroad, with my family, I’ve sunbathed on Brittany beaches, rambled between flowering sage bushes on Greek hillsides, drunk bubbly at breakfast in Vienna and seen the dancing white stallions perform in their chandelier-lit ballroom.

11 At the helm copyOh, yes, and I’ve sailed on a three-masted ship, Sorlandet, from Kristiansand to Belfast, and stood braced at the great wheel, with the ship living under my hands, the water curling against her sides, and tier after tier of white sails arching up into the clouds. Life doesn’t get better than that!
Me: How lovely to have visited so many wonderful places, Marsali. Which books have you enjoyed reading on your travels?

41cf00EbnRL
Marsali: I review books for the e-zine Mystery People, and so for the journey, I always take a couple of those. After that, I like reading books set where I am: so, in France, I’d head for the wonderful Fred Vargas; in Greece, I enjoyed Mary Stewart; for Norway, I read the Kristin Lavransdattir trilogy. I do hope anyone coming to Shetland would pick up one of my Cass books and enjoy traditional murder and mayhem in our beautiful setting. The first book in the series is Death on a Longship. But for transporting you away from the horrors of modern airports, well, Kathleen Jamie’s Findings sustained me through a three-hour delay in Edinburgh. It’s a series of essays set all over Scotland. With her, I visited a Neolithic tomb, watched peregrine falcons, sailed the Minch … all without moving from Gate 20.
Me: Thank you, Marsali, for telling us about your holiday adventures and for recommending some fabulous beach reads.
About Marsali Taylor
M Taylor copyMarsali Taylor’s writing career began with plays for her school pupils to perform in the local Festival. Her first Shetland-set crime novel starring quick-witted, practical sailor Cass Lynch and Inverness DI Gavin Macrae was published in 2013, and there are now five in the series. Reviewers have praised their clever plotting, lively characters and vividly-evoked setting. Marsali’s interest in history is shown in her self-published Women’s Suffrage in Shetland, and Norse-set crime novella, Footsteps in the Dew. She’s a member of the Crime Writers’ Association, helped organise the 2015 Shetland Noir festival, and is a ‘regular’ at Bloody Scotland and Iceland Noir.
To find out more about Marsali and her writing, please join her on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/Marsali-Taylor-264232770329242/?ref=settings
or on her website: http://www.marsalitaylor.co.uk

Abi’s Neighbour Blog Tour: With Love To My Grandparents – Jenny Kane

Today I’m delighted to be hosting Day 3 of Jenny Kane’s Blog Tour for Abi’s Neighbour. Over to you, Jenny!

Many thanks for joining me on Day 3 of my Abi’s Neighbour blog tour!

AN - with quote

The two novel Abi Carter series (Abi’s House and Abi’s Neighbour), is dedicated to my grandparents. All four of them were an inspiration to me as I grew up, and prior to writing Abi’s House I had long wanted to write a book that included them in some way. Set in the Sennen Cove area of Cornwall, the two book adventure of Abi Carter, has provided me with such an outlet.

My maternal grandparents lived in Buckinghamshire. My Nan was the life and soul of the local WI, and my Grandad was the local cobbler. In Abi Carter’s Sennen, her best friend Beth owns an art gallery that was once her much loved grandfather’s cobbler’s shop. An art gallery which is appropriately called Art and Sole.

Abi’s Neighbour introduces the character of Dora Henry into the lives of Abi and her friends. The life and soul of the local sheltered housing development; Dora is the youngest octogenarian in town! And boy has she got a story or two to tell…just like my Nan did.

My paternal grandparents lived in Cornwall. My father was born and raised in Penzance, only a few miles from Sennen. Most of my childhood summer holidays were spent in the region. My family would stay with my Cornish Nan, who ran a lodging house, and my Grandad, who was a butcher in Penzance’s long forgotten International Supermarket. Grandad was the son of a tin miner- just like Stan Abbey in my novels. Stan is the owner of Abbey’s House- the home that Abi Carter’s parents used to joke should be called Abi’s House.

Coincidentally, my Buckinghamshire grandparent’s had their honeymoon in Penzance – only a few roads away from where their future son-in-law was running around in a nappy!

Oh- and my Buckinghamshire Grandad had a Labrador/Retriever cross called Brandy. I loved that dog so much. There was no way I could leave him out of the story – and so I introduced Sadie, a four legged companion for Stan.

Abi’s House was written as a private thank you to my much missed grandparents. I never imagined that I’d have the chance to write a follow up novel. In Abi’s Neighbour I have tried to keep faithful to their memory- and to write the sort of story that both my Nan’s would have liked to read themselves. Something full of friendship and adventure, with some love- but nothing soppy!!

I can hear my Nan now- ‘Don’t you go and write anything too sugary.’

As if I would!

About Abi’s Neighbour:

Abi Carter has finally found happiness. Living in her perfect tin miner’s cottage, she has good friends and a gorgeous boyfriend, Max. Life is good. But all that’s about to change when a new neighbour moves in next door.

Cassandra Henley-Pinkerton represents everything Abi thought she’d escaped when she left London. Obnoxious and stuck-up, Cassandra hates living in Cornwall. Worst of all, it looks like she has her sights set on Max.

But Cassandra has problems of her own. Not only is her wealthy married lawyer putting off joining her in their Cornish love nest, but now someone seems intent on sabotaging her business.

Will Cassandra mellow enough to turn to Abi for help – or are they destined never to get along?

Complete with sun, sea and a gorgeous Cornwall setting, Abi’s Neighbour is the PERFECT summer escape.

To purcahse Abi’s Neighbour, please click on the links below or paste into your browser:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Abis-Neighbour-Jenny-Kane/dp/178615028X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1487006698&sr=1-1&keywords=abi%27s+neighbour

https://www.amazon.com/Abis-Neighbour-Jenny-Kane/dp/178615028X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1487006868&sr=1-1&keywords=Abi%27s+Neighbour+by+Jenny+Kane

 

ABIS Neighbour blog tour

Thank you ever so much for hosting my blog today Lynne,

Happy reading everyone. I hope you enjoy all the stops on my tour.

Jenny xx

About Jenny Kane:

KayJayBee-27

Jenny Kane is the author of the full length romance novels Abi’s Neighbour, (Accent Press, 2017),  Another Glass of Champagne (Accent Press, 2016),  Abi’s House (Accent Press, 2015), the contemporary romance/medieval crime time slip novel Romancing Robin Hood (Accent Press, 2014), the best selling contemporary romance novel Another Cup of Coffee (Accent Press, 2013), and its novella length sequels Another Cup of Christmas (Accent Press, 2013), Christmas in the Cotswolds (Accent, 2014), and Christmas at the Castle (Accent Press, 2015).

Keep your eye on Jenny’s blog at www.jennykane.co.uk for more details.

Jenny also writes erotica as Kay Jaybee and historical crime as Jennifer Ash.

Social Media Links

Web site – http://www.jennykane.co.uk

Twitter- @JennyKaneAuthor

Facebook -https://www.facebook.com/JennyKaneRomance?ref=hl

Amazon Author Page – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jenny-Kane/e/B00HYZIL1E/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1492502979&sr=8-2-ent

Goodreads- https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7255618.Jenny_Kane?from_search=true

The Art of Kissing

Love inspires poetry, both good and excruciatingly bad, romantic novels, music and paintings and sculptures in galleries all over the world. Here are some images by artists inspired by love…

the-kiss Klimpt

I was lucky enough to see The Kiss by Gustav Klimt in a gallery in Vienna, and it is stunning, with the gold surrounding the couple in their meadow of flowers seeming to glow. No-one knows who the woman in the painting is, but the most romantic suggestion is that she is Emilie Floge, Klimt’s lover.

Hotel de Ville

I think The Kiss by the Hotel de Ville by Robert Doiseneau, really captures the atmosphere of Paris as a city for lovers. The photo got a lot of attention, but when Doiseneau was sued by two women claiming to be the girl in the photo and demanding a share of the royalties, he admitted that the scene had been staged by actors. It still make a wonderfully romantic photo though.

Legendary_kiss_V–J_day_in_Times_Square_Alfred_Eisenstaedt

A more spontaneous photographic kiss is Alfred Eisenstaedt’s   V-J Day in Times Square. The sailor in the photo was celebrating by kissing every woman he met. The identity of the nurse in the photo  is unknown, although there have been several women who thought it might be them!

Rodin

A famous sculptured kiss, is The Kiss by Auguste Rodin. Originally the statue was going to depict the unfortunate Francesca da Rimini and her lover Paolo, just before they were discovered and slain by her husband- which is why the couple’s lips don’t touch. Such is the ardour portrayed by the marble couple, that in the 1890s the statue was considered too shocking for public display and could only be seen by personal application!

Kiss 1 (1)

The Meeting Place by Paul Day is situated under the clock at St Pancras station in London – a traditional meeting place for lovers. To me, whenever I walk past it, this statue tells a romantic story of a couple re-united after one of them has just arrived at the station after a long train journey.

Jack Vetriano

Another couple are re-united in Jack Vetriano’s Back Where You Belong. The painting, with it’s sunset colours, captures all the emotion of lovers embracing after being apart. He’s even brought her red roses.

Kiss II

And here is Ray Lichenstien, with Kiss II, painting in comic book style, but still capturing that wonderful moment when two lovers kiss

A Medieval Christmas- The Outlaw’s Ransom – a guest blog by Jennifer Ash

Hello there! Many thanks to Lynne, for hosting this final day of my blog tour for my new medieval mystery, The Outlaw’s Ransom.

outlaws-ransom-final

I’ve been a lover of all things medieval from the first time I clapped eyes on an episode of Robin of Sherwood back in the 1980’s. Since then, I’ve had a fascination with the era- especially the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries- that has never waned. It was this interest that led me to write The Outlaw’s Ransom.

Although The Outlaw’s Ransom has only just been published, I have already finished writing its sequel, The Winter Outlaw, which will be released this time next year. This second book in the is set at Christmas time, and it got me thinking about how many of the festive traditions we have today that hail from those medieval days.

For example, the practice of carol singers going from door to door was the result of carollers being banned from the churches! During the medieval period the word “carol” didn’t refer to just a song, but to singing and dancing in a circle. This was frowned upon by the churchmen of the age as it detracted from the seriousness of the occasion. Carol singers were ordered out onto the streets, and often sang in market places, or in front of rows of houses.

Another church related tradition that had its origins in medieval times is the Christmas crib or Nativity scene. In medieval Italy, in1223, Saint Francis of Assisi used a crib as a teaching tool to explain the Christmas story to the local population. Historians believe that this was the first time animals, such as the sheep and the donkey, were added to the Christmas story, even though the Bible does not mention them.

But what about Christmas food? Well, Christmas puddings certainly date from medieval England, although they were rather different than those we eat today. Made from a spicy porridge known as frumenty, with currants and dried fruit stirred into it, along with egg yolks, cinnamon and nutmeg, it was a considerably runnier pudding than the one we’re used to.

The majority of Christmas dinners in the UK this year will feature a roast turkey. However, turkeys didn’t reach Britain until the late fifteenth century. In medieval times the rich ate goose, while the poorer families would roast a woodcock if they good get one. Those lord’s who had royal permission to eat venison, would have that for their Christmas meal. Traditionally, the heart, liver, tongue, feet, ears and brains of the deer (a concoction known as the umbles), would be mixed together and made into a pie to give to the poor. This treat became known as humble pie.

mummersAnd how about some entertainment? Whereas today we might go to see our children in a nativity play at Christmas, in the Middle Ages people could look forward to seeing the Mummers. These travelling actors performed plays and dances in villages, manors, and castles. During the winter, mystery plays were traditionally based on the story of Christ’s birth. The part of King Herod within these plays was the first role that can be seen as being the equivalent of a ‘baddie’ in a modern day pantomime, with the crowd often booing when he came on stage.

I hope these few Christmas blasts from the past have made you smile!

If you’d like to read my first medieval mystery, then The Outlaw’s Ransom is available for your Kindle here –

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Outlaws-Ransom-Jennifer-Ash-ebook/dp/B01LZDKPQM/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1475660907&sr=1-1&keywords=The+Outlaw%27s+Ransom+Jennifer+Ash

https://www.amazon.com/Outlaws-Ransom-Jennifer-Ash-ebook/dp/B01LZDKPQM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1475660990&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Outlaw%27s+Ransom+Jennifer+Ash

Happy reading everyone,Jennifer (aka Jenny!!) xxjennifer-ash

 

The Outlaw’s Ransom is the first novel in an exciting new series by acclaimed author Jenny Kane writing as Jennifer Ash.

When craftsman’s daughter Mathilda is kidnapped by the notorious Folville brothers, as punishment for her father’s debts, she fears for her life.  Although of noble birth, the Folvilles are infamous throughout the county for disregarding the law – and for using any means necessary to deliver their brand of ‘justice’.

Mathilda must prove her worth to the Folvilles in order to win her freedom. To do so she must go against her instincts and, disguised as the paramour of the enigmatic Robert de Folville, undertake a mission that will take her far from home and put her life in the hands of a dangerous brigand – and that’s just the start of things…

A thrilling tale of medieval mystery and romance – and with a nod to the tales of Robin Hood – The Outlaw’s Ransom is perfect for fans of C.J. Sansom and Jean Plaidy.

Jennifer Ash is the author of the medieval murder mystery, The Outlaw’s Ransom (Dec, 2016). Her second novel, The Winter Outlaw, with be published in 2017.

You can find detail’s of Jennifer’s stories at www.jenniferash.co.uk

Jennifer also writes as Jenny Kane

Jenny Kane is the author the contemporary romance Another Glass of Champagne, (Accent Press, 2016),  Christmas at the Castle (Accent Press, 2015), the bestselling novel Abi’s House (Accent Press, 2015), the modern/medieval time slip novel Romancing Robin Hood (Accent Press, 2014), the bestselling novel Another Cup of Coffee (Accent Press, 2013), and its novella length sequels Another Cup of Christmas (Accent Press, 2013), and Christmas in the Cotswolds (Accent, 2014).

Jenny’s fifth full length romance novel, Abi’s Neighbour, will be published in June 2017.

Jenny is also the author of quirky children’s picture books There’s a Cow in the Flat (Hushpuppy, 2014) and Ben’s Biscuit Tin (Hushpuppy, 2015)

Keep your eye on Jenny’s blog at www.jennykane.co.uk for more details.

Twitter- @JennyKaneAuthor

Facebook -https://www.facebook.com/JennyKaneRomance?ref=hl

Lynne writes: Many thanks, Jennifer, for telling us how the characters in The Outlaw’s Ransom would have celebrated Christmas. I’m very much looking forward to reading this exciting new series.

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Now and Then

schoolSeptember.  A new school term and the start of the academic year. This September, for the first time in decades, I found myself back in school – for a School Re-union. I’ve kept in touch with only a couple of friends from those long ago schooldays ( we were a generation that didn’t have Facebook when we left school) and I’d no idea who’d be there, if I’d recognise them – or if they’d recognise or even remember me.

wallWalking up to the main school building was a very strange experience, the tree-lined driveway both familiar and unfamiliar.
There was the wall that divided my all-girls establishment from the boys’ school next door. There were the gates where girls met boys at lunchtime – so near, yet so far.
There was the school itself, the dining room now crowded not with girls eating school dinners, but with women drinking champagne – the noise level of the conversation reassuringly unchanged.
And there amongst the hundred or so women taking a trip into their past that day, were fifteen from my year.
We’d all been issued with name badges, but as it turned out we didn’t need them, recognising each other almost instantly. The expression ‘the years rolled away’ is a cliché, but nevertheless it was true. Yes, we’re no longer teenagers, some of us are no longer as slender as a reed, others have a few grey hairs, but to misquote a certain rock star whose hits we danced to in our youth, ‘we wear it well.’ As we swopped stories of our lives since school – careers, partners, families, travel – I could still see the faces of the girls we once were. Memories surfaced: the maths club that was a cover for a dating agency with the boys’ school (yes, really), the girl who by her own admission was always sent out of class for some misdemeanour or other (she now has a career in the law), and the delicious whiff of old scandal (the notorious ex-student, whose name while mildly famous, is not in the school archives!).

computersThe initial meet and greet (and the exclamations as friends who hadn’t seen each other in years were re-united) being over, our year group was shown around the school by two charming and very articulate sixth-formers.
Where we wrote with pen and ink, today’s students have computers.
Blackboards and chalk have given way to overhead projectors.
new-hall-2old-hall
The hall where we used to sit on stackable chairs now has retractable seating such as you find in theatres.
library
The formerly wood-panelled library is now light and airy, and (the innovation that impressed me most) leads onto a roof garden – a perfect place to sit and read a book during the summer term – or just sit.
common-roomWould I want to go back to being a schoolgirl? Absolutely not. But it was good to walk the school corridors once again, to visit the classrooms, the science labs and the sixth form common room where I spent so many hours – and where someone had put up a notice saying ‘Welcome Back.’
schoolgirlsAnd it was good to meet up with these amiable, interesting, confident women who I’d known as girls, to reminisce, and to discover how their lives had turned out, to step back into the past just for one afternoon and remember the way we were.