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Friday, 6 July 2018

Historical coming of age fiction! An explorer and a downtrodden circus acrobat in a hot air balloon in search of an artifact have an adventure of a lifetime! #historical #books #fantasy #raiders

Research can be taken from real-life situation!
Patrick Canning

The word ‘research’ probably conjures up images of dusty library archives, meticulously sourced bibliographies, and maybe even microfiche (if you’re of a certain age). But research for The Colonel and the Bee was some of the most fun I’ve had in writing a book.

Once I had my idea: a destitute acrobat and a flower-obsessed adventurer explore the world of the early 19th Century in a fantastically large hot air balloon, I needed some help filling in the details. The story wouldn’t be beholden to reality at every turn, but I’ve always thought a measure of science makes even the most outlandish fantasy that much better. It was time to do some research.

While I admit going to the Wikipedia well more than I should, I quickly found many other amazing sources of information. Ballooning by C. H. Gibbs-Smith, an antiquated look at the world of hot air ballooning before 1946, provided some great aeronautical theory and history of ballooning. In an ill-visited corner of the upper floor of The Last Bookstore in Downtown Los Angeles (a great place to check out if you’re ever in LA), I discovered Forty Favorite Flowers by Beverly Nichols, a 1970s guide to curious flowers and how they fare in an English garden. Aside from having a great old book smell, Forty Favorite Flowers helped bring the Colonel’s extensive horticultural knowledge into focus. A dictionary of Victorian slang delivered gems like “enthuzimuzzy” (much ado about nothing) and “butter upon bacon” (excessive extravagance), but it was Lina Rivera, The Colonel and the Bee’s editor, who contributed what is probably my favorite bit of Victorian wordage: “chuckaboo” (friend).

By far the most thrilling and enjoyable bit of research was a trip in a real hot air balloon. I took note of all the sensations and emotions that came with the unique way of flying, and paid close attention to the charismatic British pilot’s manner of speaking (“The crown line’s in a bit of a state!” and “A woman can understand a compliment in any language, can’t they?”). The difficulty in controlling a craft as unwieldy as a hot air balloon was made clear with our unscheduled landing on a golf course. Luckily, the irate owner was placated with a handy bottle of champagne.

Imagination might do most of the leg work when it comes to fiction, but I hope all these real-world details help further color the world Beatrix and the Colonel explore, and make for a more engaging and exciting read.

The Colonel and the Bee
Beatrix, a spirited but abused acrobat in a traveling circus, seeks more than her prison-like employment offers. More than anything, she wants to know her place in the world of the halcyon 19th century, a time when the last dark corners of the map were being sketched out and travel still possessed a kind of magic.


One night in Switzerland, the mysterious Colonel James Bacchus attends Beatrix’s show. This larger-than-life English gentleman, reputed to have a voracious appetite for female conquests, is most notable for traveling the world in a four-story hot air balloon called The Ox.

Beatrix flees that night to join the Colonel, and the two of them make a narrow escape—Beatrix from her abusive ringleader, the Colonel from a freshly-made cuckold. Beatrix, feeling the Colonel may have the answers to her problems, pledges to help him catch the criminal he seeks in exchange for passage on his magnificent balloon.

The criminal seeks a precious figurine, The Blue Star Sphinx, but he’s not alone. The Sphinx’s immense value has also drawn the attention of the world’s most deadly treasure hunters. A murder in Antwerp begins a path of mystery that leads all the way to the most isolated island on Earth.

Patrick Canning spends as much time as possible turning coffee into collections of words that look like books, shorts, and screenplays.

Most of his stories attempt to look for the meaning of life in an adventurous way, and often employ humor, important since the search usually doesn’t turn up much. He lives in Los Angeles with his dog, Hank.

An extract from The Colonel and the Bee

“Flying the Ox is much more akin to playing an instrument than operating a machine. Approach the challenge less formally, do so with confidence, and the craft’s perfect obedience will be your reward.”

I lost sight of the burner strap and by accident pulled a vent on the main balloon. We began to rotate and descend with great rapidity. The Colonel allowed me to find the correct cord on my own, and I did so just in time as the Ox nearly scraped a rolling pasture hill, startling a herd of brown Belgian cows enough to sour their milk.

Taking care to avoid the ripping line, I continued to bring the Ox up, searching for the northwest wind. To my chagrin, I sent us southeast, and it took a deft intervention from the Colonel to set us right. Applying the correct pressure on the correct combination of cords in the correct sequence did indeed give him the appearance of an accomplished maestro.

“Skill comes with practice, and northwest can be elusive. Northeast can be downright tempestuous,” he said as if recalling a talented snooker rival.

I readied another question, but the Colonel anticipated me. He held up a gentle hand to stay the incoming query, motioned with both hands downward, indicating I should relax, then gestured to the edge of the Ox.

So worried I’d been about that morning’s lesson, I’d hardly taken a moment to observe our environment. I joined the Colonel at the railing, and became lightheaded with wonder. The full effect of flight had been disguised by darkness the previous night, and now, in the maturing light of dawn, I beheld a world transformed by perspective: rivers and mountains were maps come to life, trees were seas of leaves that shimmered emerald in the breeze, even birds flew at a height far below the Ox, moving like schools of fish in currents of wind.

“Toast my bloomin’ eyebrows,” I mumbled, forgoing any attempt at eloquence. “I didn’t know... I couldn’t have imagined...”

“Wonderful, isn’t it? From this height, we’re permitted to see plainly the orchestrations of daily life, rank with crisscrossing motives and the clutter of needless haste. Up here in the rarefied air we are weightless in cool √¶ther, unspoiled by the odour and noise of man’s desires far below.”

We stood side by side, watching the scene in silence, until something in the distance stole the Colonel’s gaze.

“There. Antwerp on the horizon. Drink your leaf juice if you must.”

By now, all of the Manx were flying in a loose halo about the Ox, gently displacing the Belgian mist we floated in as they dove and twisted as birds in play.

“They have such charm and spirit,” I said.

“They detect my excitement. This visit could prove fruitful in our search for the criminal. He’s been most elusive thus far.”

“Do you know the murdered party?”

The Colonel’s face fell a note, but he recovered quickly.

“I’m interested in the criminal.”

“To bring him to justice?” I gulped my tea. “For this or a past transgression?”

“There is plenty to choose from. It is enough for you to know I seek an audience with the man.”

“He has committed other crimes?”


“Is he dangerous?”

Most certainly.”

I finished my tea as the green vegetation and black soil of tilled fields shifted to the red brick and grey stone of buildings. Antwerp’s harbour introduced itself to the nose long before the eyes.

The Colonel inhaled deeply.

“Have you been?” he asked.

I shook my head.

“A bastion of crime and seafood, how I adore this city. I apologise as it’s unlikely we’ll have time for a proper tour. Perhaps a return under less harried circumstances. Unfurl those ropes there, won’t you?”

The spiderweb of roadways below passed ever faster as we descended. I let drop a collection of heavy ropes over the side of the Ox as the Colonel set her down in a rather regal park. Despite the posh surroundings, there was an air of danger. Apparently, the Colonel felt it too.

“No chance we’re deflating here,” he said. “Down the steps with you. Help secure us.”

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Sounds like the perfect beach book! Poppy's Place in the Sun by .@Romanceminx #womens #romance #harpercollins .@rararesources #bookextract #giveaway

Poppy’s Place in the Sun


Lorraine Wilson

Sometimes you need to lose yourself to find your way home…

With only her trusty dogs Peanut, Treacle and Pickwick by her side, Poppy Kirkbride could be forgiven for having doubts about her move to a quiet village in rural France. But as the sun shines down on her ramshackle new home, Poppy knows she’s made the right decision. A lick of paint, and some TLC and her rustic farmhouse will be the perfect holiday retreat – Poppy’s dream come true.

Poppy is welcomed by her fellow villagers, except for brooding local vet Leo Dubois, who makes it clear Poppy isnt welcome in his village or his life! Leo might be gorgeous, but Poppy wont be told what to do by an arrogant Frenchman no matter how kind and gentle he is to her dogs!

Determined to stay, Poppy tries to understand the enigmatic Frenchman better. But as the two get closer, Poppy sees another side to Leo a man with heartbreak of his own.

Falling in love with Leo is easy, but can he ever return Poppy's love?
And what would this mean for her dream life and place in the sun?

 She had me at Bonjour! Warm, funny, deliciously Frenchthis lovely story filled my heart with sunshineJane Linfoot

An extract to whet your appetite!

“Let me walk you back.”

“In case I get lost?” I raise an eyebrow and would laugh if I hadn’t just got lost so close to my own house. I’m never going to live that one down.

“Something like that.” Leo grabs a torch and whistles to Maxi to follow him, he trots off ahead of us, sniffing at the grass and pricking his ears up at the faint sound of Peanut barking in the distance.

Leo rolls his eyes at Maxi. “It must be love.”

“Must be,” I reply lightly and my skin tingles when he takes my hand again.

He’s talking about the dogs, right? Yes, of course he must be.

I lower Treacle out of his sling so he can have a loo trot. He seems much more alert now and is following Maxi along as though nothing has happened.

We pass the ruined chapel that borders the woodland and Leo stops. As his hand is holding mine he pulls me to a stop too.

“Do you know I had my very first kiss here in this ruin?”

He tugs me closer and places his other hand firmly in the small of my back, holding me in place so I’m pressed up against the hard length of him, soft flesh yielding to hard muscle. For a moment I think I forget to breathe. I know instinctively he’d let me go if I wanted.

But I don’t want Leo to let go of the tight hold he has on me.

He’s a fair bit taller than me, my head only reaches his chest so I have to look up to meet his gaze. From what I can make out in the shifting shadows and patches of moon-light Leo’s eyes are dark, glittering with intent.

“Did you now?” I whisper, trying the breathing thing only to find my breath catches in my chest. I steady myself in his arms and try again, breathing in the cool night air tinged with pine needles and distant wood smoke.

“You know you said you couldn’t get the hang of the French kissing thing?”

“Uh huh,” I say casually, as though I haven’t cringed a million times since I uttered those words at the welcome party at the chateau. Leo knew full well I’d meant the timing of the triple air-kissing greeting, but of course he’d had to choose to misinterpret. I thought it had been purely meant to embarrass me but maybe there’d been an element of flirtatious teasing all along and I missed it because I was so busy being pissed off.

“Would you like a lesson now?” Leo’s voice is low, both the tone and the words send a tingle down my spine.

“It’s always good to be familiar with local customs,” I say breezily, as though my heart isn’t beating so hard I’m worried he can hear it. My ear is pressed against his chest and it reassures me that his heart rate increases too.

“Ah, Poppy.” Leo laughs softly and adds something in French I don’t catch.

I look up as he lowers his lips to mine, and I meet his mouth hungrily. He doesn’t dominate my mouth by instantly invading and thrusting with his tongue as I might expect but instead he takes the lead gently. Our tongues slowly explore and stroke as I open up to him, letting him dominate. He trails kisses along my jawline and down my neck. Then he grazes my earlobe with his teeth and my knees go weak. Only the firm hand at the small of my back holds me upright. I plant soft kisses along the rough stubble of his neck, wondering about how and where it might graze me. Then I reach up to meet his mouth and tongue again. I could kiss like this forever. I didn’t realise how tantalising it could be -full of promise and hope, loaded with intent. I arch my body up against his and warmth pools in my stomach and between my legs. My kisses grow more hungry. I’m positive Leo must feel my nipples tightening into hard buds as I press hard against his chest. It’s a nice sensation without the barrier of a bra between our T-Shirts.

Then Leo cups my bottom with one hand and squeezes so that I gasp into his mouth. I guess he noticed the nipples, was that his revenge? Relentlessly he kisses me, probes and teases me. I don’t notice how or when it happens but the torch is now on the ground and Leo slides the hand not caressing my bottom up inside my T-Shirt. I raise my arms and loop them around his neck so that he has access to first gently trace the outline of my breast and then stroke closer and closer to my aching nipple. He’s tormenting and teasing me, touching everywhere except where I need it. I deliberately twist my body so the next sweep of his palm encounters the tight bud of my nipple.

I groan and press against his palm, wanting, needing more. He cups my breast and squeezes, lightly pinching my nipple. The hand cupping my bottom moves round and strokes up and down the top of my inner thigh above the layer of my leggings. I shudder instantly and violently, jerking when his fingers dance lightly between my legs. I’d be embarrassed by how quickly my body responds to his touch if I weren’t so utterly immersed in the sensations and if I didn’t know by Leo’s own rapid breathing that he’s as turned on by this as me.

I’m gasping, panting against his open mouth, my body melting and dissolving into him, when I hear Joanna open the back door of Les Coquelicots and the dogs set up a medley chorus of barking, welcoming me home and greeting Maxi and Treacle.

“Are you okay Poppy, is that you out there?” Joanna calls out, her voice tinged by anxiety.

The anxiety pierces the haze of my longing and brings me back to reality. I pull away from Leo, feeling weak-limbed and as unsteady on my feet as a fledgling foal.

“Yes, it’s just me, Joanna, there’s nothing for you to worry about,” I call back, trying to sound normal but, I suspect, failing miserably. “Treacle is okay now. Leo was just … seeing me home safely. I forgot my torch.”

I hear Leo’s low chuckle next to me as he retrieves his torch from the grass and feel my cheeks flame a response.

“Thanks for the French lesson by the way, Leo,” I whisper, suppressing a fit of the giggles. “I think I’ve got the hang of it now.”

I move forward to welcome Peanut and Pickwick and to reassure them that Treacle and I haven’t been eaten by the boogie-dog.

“Bye Leo.” I don’t dare turn back or look at him, even though I’m sure the dark must hide my flaming face.

Instead I hurry towards Joanna to tell her all about Treacle.

All in all I’d say it’s been an eventful evening. “Goodbye Poppy. Anytime you want to practice your French … just let me know.” I can hear the grin in Leo’s reply as surely as I can hear the crunch of gravel as he turns and walks back into the night, whistling for Maxi to follow him home.

I’m not sure I’ll ever look at that ruin in quite the same light again.

Author Bio!!!

Lorraine Wilson writes flirty, feel-good fiction for Harper Impulse - a Harper Collins imprint - and is unashamedly fond of happy endings. She loves hearing from readers and feels incredibly grateful to be doing the job she always dreamt of.

She splits her time between the South of France and Cambridgeshire and is usually either writing or reading while being sat on, walked over or barked at by one of her growing band of rescue dogs.

You can find her online either via her website: http://www.lorraine-wilson.com or on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/LorraineWilsonWriter and Twitter @Romanceminx

And now for the competition!!!
Giveaway – Win a PB of Poppy’s Place in the Sun and a crossbody hand bag (Open Internationally)
*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.
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Sunday, 1 July 2018

Author interview, exerpt, competition, what more could you want! Check out this frisky read by @LaurieBwrites @rararesources #regency #romance

One Week to Wed
Laurie Benson

One Stolen Night…leads to unexpected wedding vows!
Widowed Lady Charlotte Gregory believes she’ll never love again after losing her husband, until meeting dashing Lord Andrew Pearce brings her respectable, lonely world back to vibrant life!
Left alone one night, they give in to their desires only to find their secret passion leads to shock, scandal…and a sudden marriage of convenience.
This book is the first book in The Sommersby Brides series about three sisters who find themselves in three scandalous situations that lead to three very different proposals.
Buy links

Let the interview commence… 

What’s your least favourite part of the writing process?

This is going to sound really odd, but my least favorite part is the writing. When I’m writing the first draft and staring every morning at a blank page, it can feel daunting. I’d much rather revise the story after the first draft is complete. Refining my word choices and flushing out scenes is much more fun for me.

How do you juggle a writing schedule?

I’m an early morning writer. My creative brain works best when I still have sleep in my eyes. When I’m working on a book I’m up around 4:30 am and start writing for a few hours. I’ll take a break to drive my youngest to school and then I’m back writing until I pick him up in the afternoon. Before I go to bed at night, I’ll read over what I wrote that day and make any revisions to the text.

Do you set yourself goals when you sit down to write such as word count?

Going by word count doesn’t work as well for me as concentrating on writing a chapter a day. My ideas come in terms of scenes, so it’s easier for me to think about writing a complete scene than it is about writing a certain number of words.

Why did you write this particular book?

I have a very close friend who was widowed at a young age.  Sometimes she will share her dating horror stories with me. After meeting her for dinner after one particularly bad date, I felt compelled to write a book that might give hope to people who have lost loved ones that you can fall in love twice in a lifetime. Having a sense of hope is such an important part of surviving in the world we live in.

What is your book about?
ONE WEEK TO WED is a Regency romance about an agent of the crown and an independent widow that share one unexpected night of passion that leads to an unknowing betrayal, divided loyalties, and a marriage of convenience. It’s the first book in The Sommersby Brides series about three sisters who find themselves in three rather scandalous situations that lead to three very different proposals. Since ONE WEEK TO WED is part of this series, it also deals with the complicated relationships that can develop between sisters.

Is there an underlying theme of the book?

I’d say the theme of ONE WEEK TO WED is that it is never too late to find love, even if that means you had found it with someone else once before. By Regency romance standards, my hero and heroine are on the older side for lead characters. Lord Andrew Pearce, is thirty-one and Lady Charlotte Gregory is actually a year older than Andrew at thirty-two. They both believe that marriage isn’t in their future. Andrew, who is an agent of the crown, knows he leads a dangerous life and does not want to risk leaving a wife and child behind should he die prematurely in the course of duty. Charlotte was fortunate to marry for love once and then became a widow when her husband died at Waterloo. She doesn’t believe the heart is capable of falling in love twice in a lifetime. But they both come to learn that love can develop when we least expect it.

Excerpt from 
One Week to Wed
Was he feeling it, too? Charlotte’s gaze dropped to his lips just as a giant boom reverberated through the hills. They both turned towards the house to see more colourful lights shoot into the sky and crackle apart.

‘I’m thinking about kissing you.’ He said it in such a matter-of-fact way, as if the idea would not set her body aflame—as if the idea of kissing this practical stranger would be a common occurrence.

Charlotte had only kissed one man in her life. She never thought she would want to kiss another—until now. Now she wanted to know what Andrew’s lips felt like against hers. She wanted him to wrap her in his arms where she would feel desirable and cherished. And she wanted to know if his kiss could be enough to end the desire running through her body.

He placed his gloved finger under her chin and gently guided her face so she was looking at him. The scent of leather filled her nose. There was no amusement in his expression. No cavalier bravado. Just an intensity that made her believe if he didn’t kiss her right then, they both would burn up like a piece of char cloth.

It was becoming hard to breath and if he did in fact kiss her there was a good chance she would lose consciousness from lack of air. But if he didn’t kiss her…

She licked her lips to appease the need of feeling his lips on hers.

He swallowed hard. Almost hesitantly, he untied her bonnet and put it aside. Gently, he wrapped his fingers around the back of her neck, pulled her closer, and lowered his head. She closed her eyes and his lips faintly brushed hers. They were soft, yet firm, and she wanted more.

Author bio

Laurie Benson is an award-winning historical romance author that writes flirty and frisky Regency romance stories about men in boots and the women who fall for them. She began her writing career as an advertising copywriter, where she learned more than you could ever want to know about hot dogs and credit score reports.
When she isn’t at her laptop avoiding laundry, Laurie can be found browsing antique shops, going on ridiculously long hikes, or sitting in her car on the school pickup line. She lives with her husband and two sons in a house filled with testosterone—even her bunny is a boy. For more information about Laurie and her books, visit her website at lauriebenson.net.

And now the competition!!!!

Giveaway – Win a signed copy of One Week To Wed (Open Internationally)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

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