Sssh… It’s Our Secret – Lizzie Chantree

It’s Publication Day for Lizzie Chantree’s fabulous new novel, Ssh…It’s Our Secret, and I’m delighted that Lizzie is here today to tell us about the book…

Lizzie writes:

Thank you for inviting me onto your beautiful blog today and for the amazing support of the launch of my latest book!

Shh...Its our secret by Lizzie Chantree

Shh… It’s Our Secret, is about a shy woman called Violet, who is trying to silence her inner critic and step out of the shadows. Her best friends and sister support her, but she feels like they don’t see the real her, or understand that she has ambitions of her own and skills that could help them all.

To them, she is reliable, slightly dull and not very talented, but she is hiding a secret that could blow this theory sky high and change the lives of everyone she knows and loves, especially the regulars at the run-down café bar where she works.

After losing her parents at a young age, they are the closest thing she has to a family and she feels responsible for them. Violet will have to eliminate old demons, learn to stand up for herself and show the world who she really is.

Kai is a jaded music producer who has just moved outside of town. Seeking solitude from the stress of his job, he’s looking for seclusion. The only problem is he can’t seem to escape the band members and songwriters who keep showing up at his house.

When Kai wanders into the bar and Violet’s life, he accidently discovers her closely guarded secret. Can Kai help her rediscover her self-confidence or should some secrets remain undiscovered? 

BookBrushImage707 copy

Thanks so much, Lizzie, for being a guest here today and telling us about your book. Ssh…It’s Our Secret sounds so intriguing. I shall look forward to reading it and discovering what it is that Violet is hiding!

Wishing you a Happy Publication Day!

* * * 

If you would like to purchase Shh… It’s Our Secret, please click on the link below:

Universal link: Shh… It’s Our Secret:

Here is an extract from the book…

Violet had made a terrible mistake. Looking around the buzzing room from her hiding place by the kitchen door, she realised that she should never have shared her secret with the world.

Yes, she loved the fact that this room, the place that had been her world for so long, had turned from a desperate mess into the successful creative hub it was today. And she couldn’t help but raise a smile when she saw Esme and Doris sitting at the bar with Hal, looking so happy and carefree. But resentment still burned in her chest. Why couldn’t she feel that joy herself?

Her shoulders slumped. She was trapped. She couldn’t run away and let these people down. They all depended on her now. They’d relied on her when this place was just a rundown coffee shop and karaoke bar. Now it was a popular music venue, with original breakthrough artists, and she was a big part of its success. It had been her dream to turn the café bar around, but not like this…not at the expense of her own happiness. She tried to brush the selfish thoughts away, but she felt like she’d had a headache for days. She just wanted to hide under the covers in bed and ignore the world outside, but it felt as though there was someone constantly banging on her door and demanding that she wake up.

Esme was perched at the bar on a tall stool and snorted loudly at one of Hal’s jokes, whilst waving her new walking stick at him, almost whacking a woman passing by. She was dressed in a bright yellow top today, and her scarf was swirls of burnt orange. Unlike her old accessories, this was made of silk and draped beautifully across her ample chest.

Hal beamed a wide smile at Esme, and Violet was almost knocked sideways by the glare from his new teeth. She grabbed onto the doorframe for support, hardly believing her eyes. She recalled him proudly telling her that he was getting his broken teeth capped and whitened. She should have called him to see how it had gone, but she hadn’t had a moment. Her phone had been ringing so much that she’d finally thrown it into the bin with such force that there had been a satisfying crack as the screen broke and died.

Hal turned to Esme’s friend, Doris. She was still wearing her favourite stripy jumper, but she now had a beautifully crafted hat perched on her freshly tinted curls and her make-up made her look about ten years younger.

Violet knew they were all enjoying the changes happening in their lives, and she felt a punch of guilt to her stomach that she might be the one to destroy it.

The other people in the bar were a mix of ages and they were all chatting and enjoying the live music. The latest singer was really good, and she hoped that this exposure would help him find a new audience. She wished with all her heart that she could go into the main bar area and join the crowd. She used to enjoy interacting with customers. All she’d ever wanted was to support other singers and to run a place where locals could come together to chase away isolation—and feel like they belonged.

She glanced up and saw Kai standing by the stage. He looked as strong and handsome as ever, but her heart had a wall of ice around it. He spotted her at the same time and his eyes lit up with joy, then he noticed her body language and the fact that she was still hiding, and the smile slipped from his face. He bent and said something to a man standing at the side of the little stage and then headed toward her through the crowds. She knew they had to talk about what had happened, but she felt that her needs had been ignored and she was alone. With no parents to run to and her makeshift family all here in the bar, she wanted to slump on the floor and sleep for a week. A lone tear escaped from her eye and ran down her cheek, but she angrily brushed it away before Kai saw it, and she summoned up enough energy to turn and leave the bar before anyone else saw her and all hell broke loose. She thought back to the start of the year and how repetitive and simple her days had been then, even when she was exhausted. Then she remembered the moment Kai had walked into her life, and how everything had changed.

Lizzie Chantree. Author photo small

About Lizzie Chantree

International bestselling author and award-winning inventor, Lizzie Chantree, started her own business at the age of 18 and became one of Fair Play London and The Patent Office’s British Female Inventors of the Year in 2000. She discovered her love of writing fiction when her children were little and now works as a business mentor and runs a popular networking hour on social media, where creatives can support to each other. She writes books full of friendship and laughter, that are about women with unusual and adventurous businesses, who are far stronger than they realise. She lives with her family on the coast in Essex.

Visit her website at or follow her on Twitter @Lizzie_Chantree

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One Summer In Cornwall – Karen King – Blog Tour

Today, I’m delighted to be taking part in the Blog Tour for Karen King’s new novel, One Summer In Cornwall. Here is an extract from the book that I’m sure will make you want to read more of this gorgeous feel-good romance…

One Summer In Cornwall

by Karen King

Chapter One

‘Bloody hell! Who is it?’

Hattie Rowland froze at the voice, her finger poised on the light switch that she had been about to flick on. Someone was already in the cottage! Who could it be? A squatter? A burglar? For a moment she panicked, her breathing quick and shallow as she backed against the wall, wondering whether to run out again. Then she pulled herself together. She had every right to be here – whoever it was, they were trespassing, and she wasn’t going to be intimidated by them. She took a deep, steadying breath and grabbed hold of her motorbike helmet, which she had tucked under her arm, ready to use as a weapon if necessary. The intruder would soon realise that she didn’t scare easily. She pressed down the switch, gripping the helmet tightly, ready to spring into action. As the room lit up, there was a loud screech.

‘Turn it off! Turn it off!’

Buddy! Hattie burst out laughing as she spotted the green parrot, perched on a thick branch in a huge cage tucked into the corner of the living area, just before the open archway into the kitchen. The parrot’s head was turned towards the door, his beady eyes fixed on her as he squawked crossly. Uncle Albert’s beloved parrot. She hadn’t even realised that Buddy was still alive. As the big bird glared at her from his perch, his green feathers ruffled, the yellow ring around his neck clearly visible, she was transported back to her childhood. Hattie remembered stepping into the cottage with her parents to be greeted by Buddy screeching, ‘Bloody hell! Who is it?’ and her mother immediately trying to cover her ears. Uncle Albert, a fisherman, was her father’s much-older brother. He had never married and Buddy was his sole companion. Albert had worshipped the bird – and loved his little cottage by the sea. When he died a couple of months ago, Hattie had been surprised and touched to hear that he had left Fisherman’s Rest jointly to Hattie’s father, Owen, and Hattie. She had fond memories of summer holidays spent here in Port Medden with Uncle Albert when she was younger, and her parents were still together.

‘Hello, Buddy. It’s only me, Hattie. You probably don’t remember me. It’s been years since I last came down here,’ she said softly. She felt guilty about that, but her parents had finally divorced, after years of acrimony, when she was twelve, and then she had barely seen her dad, who had immediately moved to France with his new girlfriend, now wife, Raina and remained there. Obviously, her mum, who now lived in Portugal with her partner Howard, hadn’t wanted to spend summers with her ex-husband’s brother in Cornwall, so Hattie had lost touch with Uncle Albert.

She dropped her saddlebags down onto the old brown sofa; she was sure it was the same one that had been there when she’d last visited – was it sixteen or seventeen years ago? In fact, nothing seemed to have changed, she thought, as she looked around, her mind going back to her childhood holidays. The thick grey curtains were the same, as was the now-threadbare brown patterned carpet on the floor. The TV was a more recent model than she remembered, and the fireplace was now boarded-up with a gas fire in front of it. Not that she’d ever seen the fireplace in use when they’d come down in the summer, but there had always been a basketful of logs beside it, ready for the colder evenings. The old wooden rocking chair was still in the corner by the fire, but there was now a thick cushion on the seat. The dark wooden dresser, full of ornaments and decorative plates, still stood against the wall by the window. Over the fireplace was a stunning painting of fishermen tending their boats in the harbour. She didn’t remember that, but the rest of the downstairs of the cottage was almost exactly as she remembered, except it no longer looked exciting and welcoming but dusty, faded, old.

Her eyes flitted back to the rocking chair where Uncle Albert had often sat, smoking his pipe and telling them stories of his fishing escapades. He’d been a broad, larger-than-life man, who had always made them welcome, cooking them hearty breakfasts, taking them out on his boat, joining them for a drink at the local pub where everyone had seemed to know him. And now he was gone. And he’d only been in his late seventies, no age nowadays. She felt sad that she had lost touch with him over the years. She wondered if her dad had kept in contact. She walked over to the cage, which sat on a wooden wheeled trolley. Buddy immediately ruffled his feathers and eyed her warily from his perch. ‘Bugger off!’ he screeched.

‘Sorry to disturb you, Buddy. It’s me, Hattie, I expect you don’t remember me.’ Had the parrot been here on his own ever since Uncle Albert was taken to hospital, over two months ago? she wondered. Uncle Albert had died within a couple of days of being admitted. Surely Buddy hadn’t been here alone all that time? . .

* * *

Escape to Cornwall this summer… A gorgeous feel-good read, perfect for fans of CATHY BRAMLEY and PHILLIPA ASHLEY. When Hattie is made redundant and evicted from her flat in one horrible week, she needs time to rethink. Her Uncle Albert left her and her father each half of Fisherman’s Rest, his home in the Cornish town of Port Medden, so this seems the perfect place to escape to until she can figure things out. As Hattie stays in the cottage, clearing it out, tidying it up and getting it ready to sell, she starts to find her feet in Port Medden and making a new home here begins to feel right. If only her dad didn’t need a quick sale and things weren’t complicated by her unwelcoming neighbour Marcus . . .
To purchase One Summer In Cornwall, please click on the link below:

About Karen King    

Karen King is a multi-published author of both adult and children’s books. She has had eight romantic novels published, one psychological thriller with another one out later this year, 120 children’s books, two young adult novels, and several short stories for women’s magazines. Her romantic novel The Cornish Hotel by the Sea became an international bestseller, reaching the top one hundred in the Kindle charts in both the UK and Australia. Karen is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, the Society of Authors and the Society of Women Writers and Journalists. Karen now lives in Spain where she loves to spend her non-writing time exploring the quaint local towns with her husband, Dave, when she isn’t sunbathing or swimming in the pool, that is.  

For more information about Karen King and her books, please click on the links below:


Amazon Author Page




Follow the One Summer In Cornwall Blog Tour to find out more about this lovely summer read.

Monks and Princes – A History of Libraries Part II

In Roman times, a man about town might well spend his morning at the public baths, his ablutions followed by a few hours browsing and reading in the public library that was part of his town’s bath house complex (although he presumably wouldn’t be permitted to read in the actual bath itself!).


codexHistorians argue about the causes of the fall of the Roman Empire in the 5th Century CE, but there is no doubt that its catastrophic collapse (or gradual decline, depending on which historian you agree with), and the Dark Ages that followed, saw the destruction of public libraries and their vast collections of books; scrolls – and those new-fangled vellum pages bound between wood and leather covers that were replacing them at the time – being particularly vulnerable to the ravages of fire, invading armies, and the end of civilisation as the Romans knew it.

In Western Europe, it was the monasteries, and probably some convents, that were responsible for preserving at least some of the books of the classical world, as well as the concept of libraries being a repository of knowledge. The founders of monastic orders believed that reading was an essential element of the life spiritual, and monastic communities established libraries under the supervision of a precentor who performed the function of a librarian and would issue books to the monks. The era also saw the creation of new texts, usually religious. While these collections of books were not public libraries in the sense we understand them, monks did lend their volumes to other monasteries (and sometimes members of the laity) in an early example of the inter-library loan. Whether or not they imposed fines for late returns is not known, but copyists often added a curse to the final page of a book condemning book thieves to eternal damnation.


The Benedictines in particular emphasised the importance of reading, and the collection and copying of books, and many of their scriptoria – the places where texts were transcribed and illustrated – such as Monte Cassino in Italy (founded 529 CE) and Jarrow in England – became famous for their beautifully illuminated manuscripts. The earliest Benedictine scriptoria were just a corridor in the monastery cloisters, where monks sat at their desks with no protection from the cold and damp, but by the late Middle Ages, scriptoria were situated next to the ‘warming room’ – one of only two rooms in a monastery that were heated, the other being the infirmary – and had glazed windows, which may explain why so many monks became skilled copyists and illuminators.


Surprisingly, for such bibliophilic institutions, the early monasteries did not have a special room set aside as a ‘library’ but kept their books in presses in the cloisters – which indicates how relatively few books were available to them. In subsequent centuries, when enough leather-bound volumes had been collected to warrant designating a separate space as a library, books were still enough of a rare and valuable commodity for them to be kept chained to shelves and lecterns.

library ISMeanwhile, in the Islamic world, the 7th Century CE saw the establishment of libraries in mosques and schools, and by political leaders. The arrival of the craft of paper-making from China in the 8th Century CE – making the production of books much easier –  led to the growth of public libraries in many cities, which as well as housing the works of Muslim scholars employed copyists to translate and transcribe ancient Greek, Roman and Sanskrit works into Arabic. By the 10th Century CE, monks and scholars of northern Europe were visiting the book markets of Cordoba – then the biggest book market in the world – and returning to their monasteries with the works of the classical world preserved by this flowering of Islamic scholarship. 

Skip forward a few centuries to the Renaissance, and the kings and princes of this era, including some of the princes of the church, were right at the centre of the flowering of humanist learning that took place in the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries, amassing vast book collections that, while they were originally privately owned, eventually became the basis of great national libraries. This was particularly the case in the Italian City States, whose princely rulers – when they weren’t hiring assassins to do away with their dynastic rivals or battering each other’s cities to pieces with the newly invented siege canon – were great patrons of the arts and sciences, and eager to collect both newly written books and the works of the ancient world.


The most notable among these aristocratic bibliophiles was undoubtedly the fabulously wealthy Cosimo de Medici – a banker, not a prince, but effectively the ruler of Florence – who employed a librarian, Niccolò Niccoli, a fellow enthusiast of the classics. Niccolò not only oversaw Cosimo’s collection, but amassed a collection of 800 books of his own. In his will, Niccolò stated that he wished for his private library to be open to the public as well as scholars, and Cosimo honoured his wishes by acquiring his books after his death, and using them for the basis of a library in the convent of San Marco – Florence’s first public library, where books could be borrowed free of charge.



Cosimo’s private collection of books formed the basis of what was to become the Laurentian Library, built by a Medici Pope. Today, this is an international research library, where scholars can study rare books.


Such was Cosimo’s enthusiasm for his library, that it wasn’t unknown for him to leave the luxury of his palazzo in Florence to go on book hunting expeditions – a riskier undertaking in Renaissance Italy, than a trip to a bookshop today! More usually, he employed book scouts such as Poggio Bracciolini, who scoured Europe, Syria, Egypt and Greece for books by Romans and Greeks. With the help of a considerable number of Medici florins, Poggia brought to light many ancient texts thought lost.

For all that we often see the Middle Ages and, to a lesser extent the Renaissance, as a time when most people never left the village where they were born, it seems Medieval and 15th Century highways were packed with ecclesiastics, scholars, and the occasional prince wandering from library to library in search of books.


Next time: Reformation, Revolution and Victorians


The Damask Rose – Carol McGrath – The City of Acre – A Sense of Place #15

Today, I’m delighted to welcome Carol McGrath, with a fascinating guest post about the setting for her new historical novel, The Damask Rose.

Over to you, Carol…

The Damask Rose and Crusading in Acre

by Carol McGrath

I have always been fascinated by the Crusades ever since reading Henry Treece’s The Children’s Crusade as a child. Crusading is not the main focus of my new Historical novel The Damask Rose but it is given some of my personal favourite chapters and, whilst I could not travel to Acre where Eleanor and Edward I set up their household, I enjoyed my armchair time travel back into the medieval Holy Land. If you have not seen The Kingdom of Heaven do look for it. It is just how I imagined the medieval Crusader Kingdom.

The City of Acre sits in a natural harbour in Haifa Bay. It was then a great trading city subject during the medieval period to conquest and reconquest by the Christians. Acre became a centre for the military religious orders of the Templars and the Hospitallers.

The Hospitallers which provide a hero for The Damask Rose were a military monastic order devoted to the care of the sick and to meeting the needs of pilgrims to the Holy Land. Edward, Eleanor and their households and knights took up residence in the Hospitallers’ palace fortress known as Saint –Jean-d’Acre.

It was a monumental complex built over three floors around a vast courtyard. The courtyard was surrounded by arcades, pleasantly cool in the heat of summer. A staircase on the east side led to the upper storeys. There was an enormous well on the north side with a great pool next to it and again on the south side. There would have been many gardens. I use medieval gardens in The Damask Rose a lot both in England and Acre. Plans are made there and secrets revealed. The three really large buildings belonging to the fortress complex are The Knights’ Halls, St John’s Church and a Hospital. Of course Eleanor and Edward and other important European royals and nobles, including a number of noble women, stayed in gorgeous, airy apartments within the fortress.

The wealthy Hospitallers must have processed sugar because the Sugar Bowl Hall, a three storey building on excavation revealed hundreds of earthenware pottery pieces arranged in twos. They were cone shaped sugar utensils with a drainage hole at the bottom. Archaeologists also found Mulsa jars used at the end of the process of crystalline sugar production.

Cleanliness was exceptionally important. Toilet stalls have been excavated with dozens of drain pipes in walls leading to a sewage conduit. 

The Column Hall was an enormous dining room, beautiful in Eleanor’s day with stone-ribbed vaulting, a decoration of Madonna Lilies, and engraved rosettes. I can see her and her ladies in flowing silks presiding over celebrations and feasts where musicians played unfamiliar and familiar instruments and dancers danced exotic dances, acrobats performed and dramatic plays were laid on for the nobility present.

It is unlikely that Eleanor suffered any discomfort during her year and a half in Acre. There was, none the less, plotting and the constant threat of assassins, part of this section of the novel’s plot. On one occasion, Edward narrowly escaped death from an assassin’s dagger. A later scribed story tells us that Eleanor, herself, saved Edward’s life by sucking out the poison from his wound. This is not quite true. The real story is in The Damask Rose. This and much, much more thrilling adventure involving Eleanor and her herbalist, companion Olwen await the reader. Danger was always present, whether on Crusade, in Gascony-Aquitaine or in the wilds of Wales, other wonderful locations in The Damask Rose.


Thank you so much, Carol, for writing such an interesting piece and giving your readers a vivid insight into the city of Acre and the history behind The Damask Rose, a historical novel that I very much enjoyed reading.

The Damask Rose

‘You lay hands on a princess of the realm? It is treason.’
‘But this princess disobeys her King. Treason indeed.’

1266. Eleanor of Castile, adored wife of the Crown Prince of England, is still only a princess when she is held hostage in the brutal Baron’s Rebellion, and her baby daughter dies. Scarred by privation, a bitter Eleanor swears revenge on those who would harm her family – and vows never to let herself be vulnerable again.

As she rises to become Queen, Eleanor keeps Olwen – a trusted herbalist, who tried to save her daughter – by her side. But it is dangerous to be friendless in a royal household, and as the court sets out on crusade, Olwen and Eleanor discover that the true battle for Europe may not be a matter of swords and lances, but one fanned by whispers and spies . . .

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Damask Rose

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Carol McGrath is the author of the acclaimed She-Wolves Trilogy, which began with the hugely successful The Silken Rose and continues with the brand new The Damask Rose. She was born in Northern Ireland, and fell in love with historical fiction at a young age, reading  children’s classics and loving historical novels especially Henry Treece, The Children’s Crusade, and, as a teenager, Anya Seton’s Katherine and everything by Jean Plaidy. Visiting the Tower of London and Hampton Court Palace aged eleven was thrilling for her. Exploring Irish castles such as Carrickfergus introduced her to wonderful stories. At only nine years old an archaeological dig in Donegal was inspirational. Carol came away with a few ancient mammal teeth. While completing a degree in history, she became fascinated by the strong women who were silenced in records, and was inspired to start exploring their lives. Her first novel, The Handfasted Wife, was shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association Awards, and Mistress Cromwell was widely praised as a timely feminist retelling of Tudor court life. Her novels are known for their intricacy, depth of research and powerful stories.

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The Muses – Annette Hannah – The Cosy Little Cupcake Van Blog Tour – This Writing Life #29

Today, I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Annette Hannah’s The Cosy Little Cupcake Van. Annette has written a fab guest post about her writer friends. Over to you, Annette….

The Muses

by Annette Hannah


Writing can be such a solitary profession, lost in a world of your own imagination putting your imaginary friends through trials and tribulations whilst simultaneously trying to zone out your family around you. Those loved ones who used to go out to work or be at university and who now roam the house usually looking for snacks or regularly enquire either what time is dinner or how long will dinner be or over-exciting the dog.

My saving grace, especially during lockdown, is knowing that I have the support of my writer friends to get me through. I’ve made so many friends in the writing community, especially as I’m a book blogger too and that’s been marvellous, but the group I would like to talk about today are the friends I met through the Romantic Novelists’ Association. I first met them at the London Chapter meet ups and there are ten of us altogether, so we call ourselves the Muses. The last time I physically saw these fabulous ladies was last year at the London Chapter party for Romance Reading Month and we had a brilliant time. Since then, we constantly support each other via Whats App and we’ve also had regular zoom meetings which have been invaluable and lots of fun. I find these women such a huge support, whenever one of us has a problem or a niggle about something you can guarantee that the others all come together with words of wisdom and advice and our group is full of laughter too, which I love.

Last year was an amazing year for us as within a month three of us graduated from the RNA’s New Writers’ Scheme which meant that we were all eligible for the Joan Hessayon award. We were all truly delighted when one of our Muses actually won the award: congratulations Melissa Oliver. These friends all bring something totally unique to the group as well, quite a few of them are juggling young children as well as other amazing and interesting jobs and writing and quite frankly I don’t know how they do it. We are all at different stages of our writing careers and there are inevitably lots of ups and downs but I’m happy to say that we keep each other going through the hard times and we celebrate hard through the good times. As my second book The Cosy Little Cupcake Van is published, I will raise a glass and a cupcake to each and every one of them and hope we are soon able to meet up again to celebrate properly. Friendships are very important to me and this book is about how one woman’s friends rally round and help her rebuild her life after the loss of her beloved mother. It’s a story very close to my heart.

Thank you so much Lynne for having me on your lovely blog, for being one of the Muses and helping me stay afloat.     Annette


Thank you so much for being a guest on my blog, Annette. I’m very much looking forward to reading your latest book.       Lynne


The Cosy Little Cupcake Van

Untitled designA deliciously feelgood romance, perfect for fans of Cathy Bramley, Ali McNamara and Rebecca Raisin!

Camilla’s delicious cakes are the talk of her village. If you need a perfectly iced mouthful of joy, Camilla “Cupcake” is your woman. But after losing her mother, she finds her home and her business in jeopardy. She needs a little helping hand… Thankfully her friends are always there for her, and when she is given an old ice cream van, Camilla’s dream of a cupcake delivery service is born. Now she can bring happiness – and buttercream frosting – to the whole town. But when her ex Blake appears back on her doorstep, Camilla must decide if she can trust him again or if her heart might belong to someone else… Bursting with rom ance and sprinkled with humour, this is a deliciously feel-good story about one woman putting her life back together, one cupcake at a time.

To purchase The Cosy Little Cupcake Van, please left-click on the link below:


The Cosy Little Cupcake Van: A deliciously feel-good romance eBook: Hannah, Annette: Kindle Store


About Annette Hannah

annette-hannah-author-picAnnette Hannah is a Liver Bird who relocated to leafy Hertfordshire in the 80’s and now livesnear a river with her husband, two of their three grown up children and a crazy black cockerspaniel. She writes Romantic Comedies in settings inspired by the beautiful countryside around her and always with a nod to her hometown. She worked in Marketing for many years as a qualified Marketeer, which she loved as it tapped into her creative side. As an avid reader, she began to review the books she read, became a book blogger and eventually plucked up the courage to fulfil her lifelong dream of writing a book. For four years she was a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s new writers’ scheme, during which time she wrote a book a year. After signing a two book deal with Orion Dash in 2020 she graduated to full member of the organisation and is also their Press Officer. She loves long walks along the river, travelling to far flung places and spending time with her friends and family.

You can follow Annette on:

twitter @annettehannah 

TCLCV blog tour


Books and Gardens – Suzanne Snow – The Garden of Little Rose – This Writing Life #28

I’m always fascinated by the inspiration behind a book, and today I’m delighted to welcome Suzanne Snow to my blog, with a guest post about the gardens that find their way into her writing, and her latest novel, The Garden of Little Rose. Over to you, Suzanne…

Books and Gardens

by Suzanne Snow

Growing up I always wanted to be an author and didn’t imagine I’d be ever be a gardener. I loved being outdoors looking after horses and watching the landscape changing across the seasons. Although I appreciated the beauty and the effort involved in creating a garden, I didn’t expect that such a thing would come to play a part in my own life.

Fast forward to developing my own garden at home and this pleasure eventually fed into my writing, and the character of Flora in The Garden of Little Rose was created. Flora is a garden historian, quite different to my own career planting redesigned gardens, but we both share a passion for plants and a belief that gardens are good for you.

For Róisín House in the book, I wanted to create a house with a history, and this story of love and loss is still being felt as Flora and Mac discover more about the people who came before them. I was inspired to write about Arts & Crafts gardens and chose this period of Victorian history for my story. The Arts & Crafts movement began in the mid to late nineteenth century as a reaction against the mass production becoming popular in design and manufacture. The book is set on a fictional Hebridean island which I named Alana, and I hope to return to explore more of these wonderful communities in the future. I love the clear, turquoise waters warmed by the Gulf Stream, secluded beaches with white sand, towering sea stacks and stories of lives deeply connected to sea and their surroundings.

If you find yourself wandering around an old garden, and I hope it isn’t too long until you can, take a moment to consider its history and search out the detail. Perhaps it is one that was created with care to blend craftsmanship, a love of nature, and beauty reflected through simplicity into something special. I believe that such gardens and the pleasure they offer will always find their way into my writing.

The Garden of Little Rose

For love to grow, Flora will have to first dig up the past.

At a hen party on the remote Scottish island of Alana, Flora is dared to ask a handsome stranger to be her plus-one for the wedding. When the gorgeous Mac accepts her invite, she assumes he’s joking and thinks nothing more of it… Until he turns up at the church on the wedding day.
But Mac has an agenda. He wants to hire her skills as a horticulturist to restore the gardens at Róisín House, his home back on Alana. Flora knows she should refuse – Mac has ‘heartbreaker’ written all over him – but she can’t resist uncovering the tragic truth behind the garden at Róisín.

A heart-warming village love story for fans of Julie Houston, Victoria Walters and Trisha Ashley.

Thank you, Suzanne, for giving us such an interesting insight into your writing process. I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Garden of Little Rose, and wish it every success.

To purchase The Garden of Little Rose, please left click on the link below:

About Suzanne Snow

Suzanne writes contemporary, romantic and uplifting fiction with a strong sense of setting and community connecting the lives of her characters. When she’s not writing or spending time with her family, she can usually be found in a garden or looking to the landscape around her for inspiration.

For more information about Suzanne and her writing please left click on the links below:

Plotter or Pantser? – Deborah Klee – Just Bea – This Writing Life #27

Today, I’m delighted to welcome author Deborah Klee with a fab guest post.
Deborah’s latest novel, Just Bea, was published in February 2021.
Over to you, Deborah…
Plotter or Pantser?
by Deborah Klee
Just Bea
Writers are often asked whether they are a plotter or a pantser, a pantser meaning to fly by the seat of their pants by not planning the story before starting to write. I am a bit of both. I always do some planning and aim to have a synopsis and the ten key scenes as a minimum before I start to write. This provides the bones of the story but it is in the writing that the magic happens and a story unfolds making itself known to the author.
When I started writing Just Bea, I knew that my protagonist worked in a Knightsbridge department store and so I went on a research visit to Harrods with my friend who had been a buyer for Harrods all of her working life. I collected a wealth of information about what it was like working for Harrods and what went on behind the scenes. However, at that time I had not decided where Bea would live and so we took a train from Knightsbridge and deciding it was a reasonable commute for her, alighted at Kings Cross.
Although I had travelled through Kings Cross many times in the past, the regeneration of Granary Wharf was new to me and the canal beckoned. It was a warm summer’s day and so we walked along the canal admiring the jauntily painted houseboats and river life. It was here we discovered a second-hand bookshop boat which of course we had to visit.
It was only when I was writing Just Bea that the houseboat community became an important strand of the story. The characters, including Leila from Fandangle Foods (modelled on the bookshop barge), and Mouse with his Labrador dog called Bear took on a life of their own. Several readers have said how much they enjoyed these characters and reading about life on the canal.
The plan I made served a purpose and helped to shape the story but it was the magic that happened when following my characters that brought the story to life. That is what I love the most about writing stories. It can be scary not knowing exactly what is going to happen but when you let go and trust the process it takes you on a magical journey of discovery.
Maybe there’s a word for a writer who is both planner and pantser – a plantser?
Thank you, Deborah, for writing such an interesting guest post. It was fascinating to hear about your writing process. Wishing Just Bea every success.
Just Bea
Just BeaSometimes you have to stop trying to be like everyone else and just be yourself.
Bea Stevens and Ryan O’Marley are in danger of falling through the cracks of their own lives; the only difference between them is that Bea doesn’t know it yet.
When her world is shaken like a snow-globe, Bea has to do what she does best; adapt. Homeless man Ryan is the key to unlocking the mystery of her friend Declan’s disappearance but can she and Ryan trust one another enough to work together?
As the pieces of her life settle in new and unexpected places, like the first fall of snow, Bea must make a choice: does she try to salvage who she was or embrace who she might become?
Just Bea takes the reader on a heartwarming journey from the glamour of a West End store to the harsh reality of life on the streets and reminds us all that home really is where the heart is.
To purchase Just Bea, please click on the link below (Left click +Ctrl):
Universal book link
About Deborah Klee
Deb KleeDeborah has worked as an occupational therapist, a health service manager, a freelance journalist, and management consultant in health and social care.
Her protagonists are often people who exist on the edges of society. Despite the very real, but dark, subject matter her stories are uplifting, combining pathos with humour. They are about self-discovery and the power of friendships and community.
The Borrowed Boy, her debut, was shortlisted for the Deviant Minds Award 2019, and was awarded book of the month by Chill with a Book readers. Her second novel Just Bea was published in February 2021.
Deborah lives on the Essex coast, England. She loves to walk by the sea or the surrounding countryside where she fills her pockets with shells, and acorns, and her head with stories.
Twitter: @DeborahKlee
Pinterest: @DeborahKleeAuthor
Facebook: Deborah Klée Author
Instagram: DeborahKleeAuthor

Scribes and Emperors: Libraries in the Ancient World

Almost as soon as ancient civilisations developed the earliest form of writing – cuneiform on clay tablets in Mesopotamia, hieroglyphics on papyrus in Egypt – scribes began to create archives to store records of important commercial transactions, information such as the best times to plant crops – and, unfortunately but somehow inevitably, who owed what taxes to whom!

These archives were the predecessors of libraries, while the scribes who possessed the then extraordinary skill of reading and could access the information, were the ancestors of librarians.

Probably the world’s oldest library as we would define it, was the Library of Ashurbanipal, located in Ninevah, in modern day Iraq. Ashurbanipal, one of the last great kings of Assyria, who reigned from 668 to roughly 627 BCE, was obviously one of the world’s first bibliophiles, as archaeologists have discovered over 30,000 clay tablets in his library, including texts that ranged from medicine to geography, and also some of the world’s earliest fiction: The Epic of Gilgamesh. Being a man of his times, without the option of a trip to the bookstore, Ashurbanipal stocked his library through plunder, but this did not prevent him warning off anyone who would do the same to him with the world’s first known book curse asking his gods to destroy the book thief’s ‘name and posterity in the land.’

While the earliest libraries were privately owned, it was the ancient Greeks who first came up with the idea of libraries that would be open to the public – or at least those considered to have the proper scholarly qualifications – and the various schools of philosophy that flourished in Athens at the time founded collections of books. With the exception of the Stoics, who refuted the idea of owning property of any sort – including libraries!

Around 300 BCE, the Greek ruler of Egypt, Ptolomy I, a former general of Alexander the Great, founded the Great Library of Alexandria, with the intention that it would hold copies of every book in the world, and at its height, the library was said to hold 750,000 papyrus and velum scrolls. It was staffed by eminent Greek philosophers and scholars, and visited by many more such as Archimedes, who, while studying in Alexandria, invented his famous Archimedes Screw.

Ptolomy and his successors acquired much of the Great Library’s collection simply by asking other rulers for copies of the volumes in their own libraries, although they were not above confiscating books they did not already have from unwary travellers. Traditionally, the Library was said to have been accidently destroyed by Julius Caesar when his soldiers set fire to some enemy ships docked in Alexandria and the fire spread. As, a decade later, Caesar’s rival Mark Anthony was rumoured to have given Cleopatra 200,00 scrolls from the Library of Pergamum to replace the burnt books – in what was just possibly the first inter-library loan – this is unlikely, and it is now believed that the Library at Alexandria continued in some form into the 3rd century CE. Incidently, arranging books alphabetically on shelves – something that seems blindingly obvious to us today – was invented by the first head of the Great Library, Zenodotus.

Meanwhile, in China, Liu Xin, a curator of the imperial library of the Han Dynasty, was the first bibliophile to establish a book classification system, with the library catalogue being written on scrolls of fine silk and stored in silk bags.

It was the Romans who established the first truly public libraries where readers had direct access to the scrolls without having to request a scribe to fetch them.

Julius Caesar was keen to build a public library that would rival the one at Alexandria (I know what you’re thinking, but there is no evidence that his bookish ambitions and his alleged burning of the Great Library are connected!), and it was one of his lieutenants, Asinius Pollio, who built the first public library in Rome. With each Emperor attempting outdo their predecessors in every sphere, including the building of libraries, by the height of the Roman Empire, these invaluable institutions were a common feature of most towns. Scrolls were kept on shelves built into the walls of a large room, often at the public baths, where readers browsed, read or copied books – and there were even a (very) few mentions of books being borrowed.

I’ll just mention one more ancient library – the Library of Celcus at Ephesus, built 135 CE. I visited the ruins of the city of Ephesus in Turkey some years ago on a very hot day in August. Together with the other tourists, I walked along Ephesus’s main street, coming to an abrupt halt when I saw the magnificent façade of the Library, towering above the crowds. It was an awesome sight, and no-one who sees it could ever doubt the importance of books and libraries in the ancient world.

Next time: Monks and Princes – the libraries of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance

Writing Novels in the Language of Cinema – Tobias Bukkehave – This Writing Life #26

Today, there’s a distinctly international vibe on my blog as I welcome American writer Jason Maurer with a guest post about the work of Danish screenwriter and novelist, Tobias Bukkehave, and how Tobias’s novels are infused with the language of cinema.

Over to Jason…

Writing Novels in the Language of Cinema

By Jason Maurer

Screenwriter Tobias Bukkehave only began writing novels recently. In 2018, he published two fantasy novels about a boy named Elmer Balthazar journeying through a digital fantasy world called Arkadia. Two years later, he published a spy thriller called For King and Country (Kongetro in Danish). What connects these disparate novels—we can all agree that geopolitical espionage and children’s fantasy could not be more different—is more obvious than you might think: a love of cinema.

Tobias’ writing is suffused with the language of cinema. It’s not just the economy of expression, the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it pacing of his tensest scenes, or the way he paints the visual landscape of Copenhagen and its suburbs – it’s also the tropes, the expectation, the palpable pleasure of knowing that something good will happen but we don’t know what. This is evident from For King and Country’s cold open onto a luxurious yacht moored off the coast of Dubai, where a rich Iranian programmer is murdered and his Danish wife captured. We have the reluctant hero, security expert and ex-soldier Tom Cortzen, who wants to get out of the game for a desk job but is roped into “one last mission” at his father’s funeral, in service of a country that betrayed him.

Tobias consciously constructs a visuality in For King and Country and his earlier novels. In writing them, he tries to work with the same deadline- and structure-intensive process as he does with his screenwriting process, such as by breaking down the story into a series of interconnected chunks. He also adds a collaborative element, such as by having his editor Anders function as his “executive producer” off which he can bounce ideas. These efforts help to diminish the ruthlessness of the blank novel page and put him in more familiar territory. For Tobias has long been entrenched in cinema, from his master’s degree in media and communications, to his publishing a book on the 50 TV series that you have to see (many of which are American), to his career as a script doctor and writer in the Danish film and television industry. His role models are Steven Spielberg, Stephen King, and HBO. To Tobias, they are the masters of blending sophisticated, insightful literature with broad themes and dynamic pacing. His novels aim for a similar blend, combining the dramaturgy and accessibility of cinema with the freedom and depth of the novel, creating a chimera that will appeal to the consummate reader as well as more TV-oriented audiences.

His writing has recently reached even further harmony with film: For King and Country was just optioned by Nordic Films.

We’re working hard to get For King and Country sold to an English publisher. If you’re interested in the book, please let us know by sending an email to, as every little helps!


Thank you, Jason, for giving us such an interesting insight into Tobias Bukkehave’s writing life.

For King and Country

First Lieutenant Tom Cortzen is back in Denmark, even though he swore he’d never return—not after what happened in Iraq. Even worse, it’s to attend the funeral of his father, Rear Admiral Richard Cortzen, for whom everything began and ended with God, king, and country. But even as he says his goodbyes, Tom receives a tap on the shoulder from an old soldier friend: Denmark needs him. A top Iranian programmer has been murdered and his Danish girlfriend has disappeared. While such a case wouldn’t normally impinge on Denmark’s security, the military intelligence envoy to the Middle East seems to have been murdered by the same shadowy mercenary group—and he just so happened to have been Tom’s old friend.

Divided between serving a country that betrayed him and honoring his friend, Tom begins a pulse-pounding adventure that will lead him from the rich sprawl of Dubai back to the regal stonework of Copenhagen.

With unmistakable inspiration from writers such as John le Carré, Jan Guillou, and Jens Henrik Jensen, and from TV and film series like Homeland and Jason Bourne, Tobias Bukkehave débuts as a writer for adults with For King and Country, a high-octane spy thriller on the abuse of power, international conspiracy, and nationalism in a world where borders are increasingly being tightened.

Tobias Bukkehave was born in Svendborg, Denmark, in 1980. He débuted in 2018 with the children’s novels The Journey to Arkadia and The Threat from Kragoria, both about a young boy called Elmer Baltazar. The Journey to Arkadia was nominated for the Orla Children’s Book Prize. Bukkehave also works as a screenwriter for film and television. He lives in Copenhagen with his partner and two children.

Jason Maurer was born in New Hampshire, raised in Vermont, educated in Scotland, found love in Finland, and found a life in Sweden. He has written two short stories and is finishing a novel.

Travelling In Time With A Book – Jennifer Maccaire – This Writing Life #25

Today, I’m delighted to welcome Jennifer Macaire with a guest post about her passion for dinosaurs and sabretooth tigers – and her latest novel, A Remedy In Time, which will be published on 7 January 2021.

Over to Jennifer…


Thank you for having me as a guest on your blog! I’m here to talk about my newest time travel book, ‘A Remedy in Time’, and what inspired me to write it.

I’ve had a passion for time travel ever since I found out about dinosaurs. I admit, I’ve watched the Jurassic Park series about a hundred times. The dinosaurs never get boring for me. When I was in kindergarten, I stood at the blackboard and drew huge dinos. A t-rex chased a triceratops, a stegosaurus lumbered across a swamp, while a huge brontosaurus (now known as apatosaurus, which is a pity, given that brontosaurus meant “thunder lizard”) grazed on high tree tops. One of my teachers discovered my obsession, and she would take me from class to class so I could draw and give a talk about dinosaurs.

Then one day I happened on a Reader’s Digest that featured sabretooth tigers. In the illustration, the tigers are attacking a mammoth that has somehow gotten entrapped in a tar-pit. I stared at that illustration for hours, trying to imagine how the sabretooth tigers could hunt and eat their prey with such massive canines.

That was that for the dinosaurs. Suddenly I was fascinated by a time when woolly mammoths, huge cave bears, and even sloths the size of small houses, roamed the frigid plains of the ice-age tundra. The sabretooth tiger, with its out-sized canines became my spirit animal – I read everything I could about them, and spent my time drawing pictures of extinct mammals. Needless to say, the sabretooth tiger was the beast that really caught my interest.

Years and years later, I stumbled on a blogsite that featured fossils, and it amused me to try and guess the mystery photos the author posted. And then one day, lo and behold, there was a sabretooth tiger! I recognized it right away. In the blog post, the author admitted that scientists still argued about how the animal hunted its prey. I started imagining a trip to the past to film a documentary about sabretooth tigers.

Of course, the trip would start at Tempus U, where my time travel books all start from. And the heroine this time would be a single-minded young woman who not only specialized in paleolithic animals but infectious diseases as well, because when I started writing the book, there had been a breakout of an especially virulent form of typhus in California. And so I wove a story about corporate greed, vaccines, man-made diseases, and a trip to the far, far past. A Remedy in Time is available for preorder, and will be published January 7th, 2021!

And here is the fabulous cover my publisher, Headline Accent, made for it!

To save the future, she must turn to the past . . .

San Francisco, Year 3377. A deadly virus has taken the world by storm. Scientists are desperately working to develop a vaccine. And Robin Johnson – genius, high-functioning, and perhaps a little bit single-minded – is delighted. Because, to cure the disease, she’s given the chance to travel back in time.

But when Robin arrives at the last Ice Age hoping to stop the virus at its source, she finds more there than she bargained for. And just as her own chilly exterior is beginning to thaw, she realises it’s not only sabre-toothed tigers that are in danger of extinction . . .

Preorder from:  ; ; :  Hachhette UK ; 


Jennifer Macaire lives with her husband, three children, & various dogs & horses. She loves cooking, eating 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 modeled for five years for Elite. She met her husband at the polo club. All that is true. But she mostly likes to make up stories.

Follow Jennifer on twitter & Facebook

Excerpt from A Remedy In Time:

I lay with my face in the grass. I hadn’t vomited, but that’s only because I couldn’t take a full breath. I knew that as soon as my diaphram started working again I’d spill my guts. It didn’t take long. “Why, oh why, did I agree to this,” I said, between bouts of retching and paralyzing pain. Finally, I managed to get to my knees. “What if a sabre tooth tiger had been here? We’d already be eaten, or worse.”

He shook his head. “See how the air around us is faintly blue? We’re protected by the tractor beam for a good hour. Nothing can get in.”

I reached out my hand and touched the blue-tinged air. It was a little like being surrounded by a very faint fog. I poked. My finger tingled and stung. “Wo cao!” I said. As I watched, the blue shivered and began to fade. “It’s almost gone. Let’s go. We should send some vidcams out and see if there are any spots that look like a good campsite.”

Donnell looked at his comlink.

“What time is it?” I asked. “Is time here different, I wonder? It was nearly noon when we left the, um, future.” I glanced at my own comlink. “It’s one minute to one. Amazing. We go back ten thousand years in little more than an hour. A-fucking-mazing. Look at this place!” Mouth open in amazement, I gazed around. We were on the side of a grassy hill, and we had a good view of the surrounding area. I forgot about my pain, I was in the past! I was here! I staggered to my feet and looked around. “Wa cao! We’re really here! There is a ta me da giant armadillo down there. Putain, a glyptodon! This is amazing. Look at that! It looks like a walking igloo except it’s brown, not white. Donnell, look!

Donnell didn’t look at the scenery. He looked at me, and said, “Robin, I just wanted to say I’m sorry. I’m really very sorry. I didn’t have a choice in the matter.” He looked truly upset.

I hastened to reassure him. “No need to apologise. Look, I know you didn’t want to have me as a partner. I overheard you talking to the dean. It doesn’t matter. Let’s just make this trip a success. We have many lives depending on us.”

He made a strange noise. Then his face turned ashen, and he gagged like he was about to be sick. I thought he was still feeling the effects of the trip. I bent to help him to his feet, but he gagged again, then screamed.

“What is it? Donnell? What is happening?” I didn’t understand what I was seeing. His leg, his leg was shrinking. He shrieked, grabbed his leg, and his hands sank into his, well, where his thigh should have been, and then he sort of slid and slumped to the ground, convulsing, his body moving as if waves were tossing it, as if he were made of liquid, and his clothes became wet, and the strongest, strangest smell assaulted my nose.

I think I started to scream then too. Then my breath ran out and all I could do was squeak, squeak, squeak, as I tried to drag air into my lungs.

He must have been in dreadful pain. He screamed until the end. Until all that was left was his chest and his head, then those too sank into themselves and all that was left were clothes and boots, and a pink, foamy gel.

I spun around and flailed at the air, at the faint wisp of blue that still lingered. I found my voice. “Help!” I screamed, “Help, help, help!”

No one came. Below me, in the valley, the glyptodon lifted its head and seemed to look in my direction.

I couldn’t stop shaking, and I couldn’t seem to be able to breathe. Black spots danced in front of my vision and I knelt down, bent over, and hit my head on the ground. “No. No. No! That didn’t just happen. It’s a hallucination. You’re still unconscious. You’ll wake up in a minute. Wake up, Robin. Wake the feck up.” I dug my fingers into the dirt and screamed again.


Thank you, Jennifer, for being a guest on my blog and for writing such an interesting guest post about your latest novel, A Remedy In Time. I very much enjoyed the first book in the series, A Crown In Time, and look forward to reading this one.