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Alice Raine: A FREE chapter just for you!

Alice Raine (2)

As book 2 of my new Revealed series has just come out I thought it might be fun to write a little prologue to go with the series to help you get to know a little about our heroine, Allie. This wasn’t included in Unmasked (book 1), so it’s an officially a FREE chapter just for you! Enjoy 

Alice x

Kissing Couple all covers new rel

Snowed In

Prologue

Something was ringing. And ringing. And ringing. Groaning I rolled over in my cosy duvet den and rammed the heel of my hand down on the alarm clock beside my bed, but it was still ringing. What the heck? Usually a swift whack with my hand did the job, but apparently not today. Blinking my bleary eyes I pushed myself upright and fumbled around in the dark until I found the switch to my lamp. Illuminating my bedroom in the soft glow I picked up the alarm clock and stared at it in puzzlement. It was the school holidays today so it wasn’t even set to go off, but it was still ringing … after a few long, slow blinks my brain became marginally more alert and I finally realised that the alarm in my hand wasn’t the source of the noise. The cheerful trumpeting sound that was driving me crazy was actually my mobile phone.

Glancing at the alarm in my hand I frowned, it was 5:34am, who the heck would be calling me at this time? Slamming the alarm down I slithered from the bed, cursed as my feet hit the cold wooden floor, and then looked around for my phone. Conveniently I saw that it was on the dresser by the door right next to where I dumped my slippers the night before. Crossing the room I simultaneously shoved my feet into my warm furry slippers whilst grabbing my phone, clicking ‘answer’ and then lifting it to my ear.

‘…ello?’ My voice was dry and gruff from sleep and barely audible, so I cleared my throat and tried again. ‘Hello?’

There was a symphony of wet, spluttered coughs down the line which caused me to grimace and hold the phone away from my ear before I finally heard someone speaking. ‘Allie?’ Crikey, I recognised the voice as Sarah my best friend, but she sounded even rougher than I had a minute ago.

Shivering I pulled my dressing gown down from the back of the door. ‘Sarah?’ I asked with a frown as I shrugged my arms into the sleeves of the cosy fleece.

‘Yeah, hi Allie.’ She croaked.

‘Blimey you sound rougher than a badgers arse.’ I commented as I made my way through the chilly house towards the kitchen. Brushing my hand along the frigid radiator I grimaced – it was so early the heating hadn’t even come on. Sarah better have a seriously good reason for calling this early.

‘I need a huge favour, Allie.’ My best friend whispered in a low gravelly tone which sounded more suited to a porn star than my best friend.

Propping the phone between my shoulder and my ear I clicked the kettle on and lifted down a mug from the cupboard. ‘I kinda guessed that much, you know, seeing as it’s still practically the middle of the night and you’re calling me. Come on then, what’s up?’

‘I’m really sick.’ More coughing resonated down the line, ‘I was wondering if there was any chance you could cover a shift for me today?’ I was a primary school teacher, Sarah a house cleaner; they aren’t exactly interchangeable careers are they? As if sensing my hesitation Sarah spoke again, ‘Please Allie, I can’t lose this job. I just can’t.’ she begged with a sneeze. Besides the owner of the house is hotness personified.’

Cough, cough, snifffff.

‘He’s sex on legs. You’ll love it. You’ll love him.’

Closing my eyes I stood for a second, literally able to see my plan of a day spent Christmas shopping disappearing before my very eyes. ‘Please?’ she added beseechingly as I felt my resolve crumbling.

‘I don’t know, Sarah, I’m not exactly a professional, am I?’ I argued weakly, knowing full well that I was going to end up doing this bloody job for her in the end regardless of what I said now.

‘It doesn’t matter, it’s just a quick clean round and knock up a casserole. The owners away anyway.’

My eyebrows shot up and an ironic smile quirked my lip, ‘A second ago you were trying to tempt me with the hot owner, but now you’re saying he won’t even be there!’

There was silence at the end of the line, then a wet sniffle which made me roll my eyes. Sighing heavily I shook my head, ‘Go on then, give me the bloody address.’ I acquiesced reluctantly.

‘Oh my god! Allie! Thank you so much!’ Sniff, sniff, cough. ‘If you … come over I’ll give … you the key.’ Her words were broken up by such loud wheezes and coughs I could almost feel the germs permeating through the phone line and held it away from my ear in disgust.

‘Fine. I’ll be over in an hour.’ I replied with a huff. ‘Hot man or not, you owe me big time for this Sarah.’

*****

To find out if Allie does meet the ‘hot house owner’, read the full story in ‘Unmasked’, book 1 of my new Revealed series which can be  found on Amazon now for just 99p!just99

Guest Blog Post by Cheryl Rees-Price: Creating the protagonist – How Winter Meadows gained the lead role

The inspiration for The Silent Quarry came from walking the dog up a footpath that runs alongside a disused quarry. It can be quiet, shadowy and eerie along this route and more often than not you don’t pass a living soul.  Like most writers I have a vivid imagination and as I walked I would start at every snap of a twig, glancing around to see if anyone was lurking behind a tree. I should have been comforted by the fact that Blue, an enormous Siberian husky was close at heel but he was as much use as a mouse and more likely to run away faster than me from any threat.  As I walked further along the path my mind turned to the murder that occurred in this spot in the 70’s and I wondered what would happen if the dog was to arrive home without me. Would my family know where I was? Would they send out a search party? From this spark of an idea I developed the plot to The Silent Quarry.

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Blue the husky who has his own role in the book.

Ideas for the book came faster than I could write but as I outlined the chapters and built my cast I struggled to find my protagonist.  I wanted a detective that the reader could connect with, full of personality and complete with fears and faults.

I set about naming and creating the main character and built in a background story adding a career history, family and birthday until the profile was complete. Slowly DI Lester came to life, I didn’t have an instant connection to him but thought I would give him a trail run, a bit like a probation period in a new job.  As the story grew I realised that no detective is complete without a side kick. The book was put on hold while I set about creating Lester’s partner.

I wanted a character to contrast with DI Lester and bring a different perspective to the story. To achieve this I started with the character’s background story. I chose an unconventional upbringing, home educated and raised in a commune with a hippy mother and absent father. Next I needed to find the perfect name to sum up the character. After many hours of pondering, Winter Meadows was born, mild mannered, fair and compassionate with a hint of intrigue he was the complete opposite to DI Lester and I felt an instant connection. But rather than complimenting Lester he posed a new problem. Winter Meadows fascinated me and was so much more interesting than DI Lester.

I instantly promoted Winter to lead character. Very quickly he took over the role and came to life, often dictating the direction of the story. It really is true when writers say that a character can take on a life of their own and they don’t always do what you want.

As for DI Lester he still makes an appearance in the book along with Blue the dog.

In 1987 a quiet Welsh village was devastated by a brutal attack on two schoolgirls, Bethan Hopkins and Gwen Collier. Only Gwen survived, with horrific injuries and no memory of the attack. The killer was never caught. Now, nearly thirty years later, Gwen has gone missing and DI Winter Meadows is assigned to the case. Charismatic and intuitive, he has an uncanny gift for finding the truth. But in this small and close-knit community, the past is never far away, and those who have secrets will go to any lengths to keep them. Tensions run high as old feelings and accusations are stirred. And DI Meadows has to battle his own demons as he uncovers a truth he wished had stayed in the past …

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Caroline Dunford: A Death for a Cause

 

A Death for a Causesuff

I always vote. Whether it’s a local, general or European election, I’ll be there making my X on the paper. When friends have commented on this commitment to voting – a surprising amount of people don’t bother  – I used to jokingly reply that if I didn’t vote I was sure the ghost of Emmeline Pankhurst would haunt me. However, it was only  when I was researching for the latest Euphemia mystery, A Death for a Cause, that I came to appreciate how very much suffragettes did to liberate British women.

“I used to jokingly reply that if I didn’t vote I was sure the ghost of Emmeline Pankhurst would haunt me.”

On the 6th February 1918 women over the age of 30 got the right to vote. Let’s think about that. It’s less than one hundred years since women have been able to exercise the democratic right to vote. Or put another way, my grandmother wasn’t allowed to vote. As a woman she was not deemed fit. One glance at the news will tell you that there are still plenty of places left the world over where women do not have equal rights to men. In Britain we’re lucky and it is down to the efforts of the bands of women from all classes, who spoke up, marched and protested, that we have the rights we do. They endured imprisonment, permanent health damage from force feeding and even attacks (from both men and women) who did not agree with their cause.

Euphemia is inspired by my Great Grandmother, who left a life of privilege and wealth, after arguing with her father, to go into service. She never returned to her home, but instead married a tobacconist and had thirteen children, all of whom survived infancy. Like her, Euphemia is a strong woman struggling to make a place for herself in a world where the only future for women of her class was either to marry or cast herself on the mercy of relatives.

But in A Death for a Cause, Euphemia, who considers herself liberally minded and an armchair suffragette, is brought up against the reality of the brutality inflicted upon women asking for no more than the some of the rights men automatically gain at birth. She is introduced to a world where women are prepared to smash windows, sabotage telephone exchanges and even set fire bombs in the name of female emancipation. To be fair although the suffragettes did adopt the motto of ‘deeds not words’ there was some division within the ranks of how far it was right to go for the cause.

But for a long time their efforts were in vain. Prime Minister Asquith appeared to simply not take them seriously no matter what they did. He was known as a lover of women (in the literal sense), but the thought they might have equal intelligence to men was preposterous to him.

Women were constantly under-rated. Even when women began to be admitted to the universities, obviously to all female colleges, there were violent reactions from male students. To begin with women might study the same subjects, sit and pass examinations, but they not awarded degrees. Just as women who studied medicine where not, at first, allowed to practise.

It’s difficult for British women today to imagine this, but it’s true. It took an army of strong women to make a difference. We need to take the time to remember them – and always vote!

A Death for a cause

 

 

 

If you’ve been excited about the film Suffragette then you’ll love this new release A Death for a Cause which shares similar themes! Pre-order today or buy tomorrow! Not long to wait! 

 

 

Alaina Drake: No More Mr. Nice Guy?

Alaina Drake - Head Shot (2)Alaina Drake

Alaina Drake discovered her love of writing in the fourth grade when she won her first young author writing contest. After attaining a bachelor’s and master’s degree in English Literature, she set out to write novels that combine her two loves: erotic romance and classical literature. She has taught literature and writing at both the high school and college levels, and when she’s not writing, you’ll find her watching sports, baking cookies, and, of course, reading way past midnight. She is an avid rock climber and former ballerina, and she finds a lot of connection between the two activities despite their obvious differences. She lives in Omaha, Nebraska with her husband and daughter. She loves to interact with her fans on Twitter, Facebook, and on her website where she blogs about writing, reading, and the everyday joys of motherhood.

No More Mr. Nice Guy?

Have you ever found yourself up late reading a book that simply everyone has been talking about? You’ve seen it on Twitter. You’ve seen dozes of posts about it on your favorite blog. So, you pick it up thinking that you will absolutely adore it.

And then you don’t. In fact, you want to throw it across the room. At one a.m., you go onto Goodreads and Amazon, flabbergasted at all of the five star reviews. You then begin to wonder if it’s just you. Everybody else loves it. Why don’t I?

 A year ago, before I wrote my first novel, I had a string of such books, and I tried to figure out why. When I lined up the books I was frustrated by, I realized that they all had one thing in common: the heroes were jerks.

Any reader will tell you that one of the most popular trends right now are the super possessive, ultra-dominant, uber-controlling, stubborn heroes who are so crass that my eyebrows are permanently furrowed.

They make me gape in awe as they are able to woo what are supposedly strong, modern women by their caveman behavior. They are sometimes so rude to everyone that a quarter of the way through the book I’m cheering for them not to get their happily-ever-after, which (of course) they always do.

Which troubles me even more.

I understand the detractors’ argument here. They’ll say, “Yeah, but look how much he grows by the end of the novel. Nobody is perfect. He has to start out a jerk so we can see him grow.” I understand the point here. Really I do. But, I have two problems with that.

First, it is usually the love of a virginal, virtuous woman who often saves him from his immoral or reckless behaviors. This trope is very tiresome to me.

Second, what makes me shake my head is that I wonder why the woman allows him to treat her like that. What is most troubling is that because he’s handsome, because he’s rich, because she lusts after him with every cell of her being, she grants him multiple passes often against her best judgment.

This thematic trope and characterization is not new, of course. My master’s degree is in Nineteenth-Century Literature, so I am well acquainted with the Byronic hero. Remember Mr. Rochester from Bronte’s Jane Eyre? Remember Heathcliff from Bronte’s Wuthering Heights? The list could go on and on. These heroes are considered Byronic because of their qualities: proud to the point of arrogance, moody, rebellious to the point of being anti-social, vengeful, judgmental, keepers of dark secrets and scars…

But they are also maddingly and darkly erotic. We’re pulled to them like a moth to a flame (I think we’ve all read this metaphor at least a dozen times). We’re consumed by them and their ability to have strong affections for the women they finally let in. And when we read such heroes, we get to imagine that we are one of those lucky women who get to fix them.

Sound familiar? Christian Grey? Gideon Cross? I could name dozens of heroes off the top of my head.

So now that we know that the current trend is not separated from a larger movement that crosses centuries and genres, now what? Do we continue to pen erotic romances in 2015 that fall in line? Do we need and want another Byronic hero? Do we need and want the erotic romance “alpha-holes”?

Most importantly, I asked myself, could someone write an erotic romance that was steamy, hot, volcanic (choose your adjective) without such a hero? Was it even possible? Could the nice guy also rip your panties and make the sheets pop off the corners of the mattress?

That was when the idea for my first novel was born: I set out to write the anti-byronic hero. I wanted my character, Beckett Stanton, to be the healer, the man committed to his morals, the approachable man who was easy to laugh and able to poke fun at himself. I wanted him to be honest with his emotions. Soon, Beckett was talking to me as I washed dishes or folded clothes. He told me he was a doctor who healed cancer patients. (I know, I know—surprise! The nice guy cures kids no less!) He was intensely emotional and sensitive. He had no deep scars that made him moody or judgmental. He had no skeletons in his closet (or a crazy woman in his upstairs apartment like Mr. Rochester). He didn’t need saving from a virginal, virtuous woman.

Thus, my heroine Hannah was born, and I fell in love with her. Because Beckett was a whole person who had strong convictions and a working moral compass, Hannah didn’t have to be it for him. She was allowed to grow too. She was given license to be a real woman that I could identify with. In fact, I’d love to sit and drink a bottle of wine with her and her three roommates.

What happens when two confident, assertive people who don’t have dozens of secrets in their past meet? How do they fall in love when their convictions are so strongly rooted in their personalities, not in their scars? These are the questions I wanted to answer, questions the Byronic heroes of today, or yesterday, don’t allow their authors to ask.

Did I succeed? Maybe. Readers will be the judge of that. But, I enjoyed the experiment whose hypothesis was that nice guys sometimes do get the girl.

I’d love to hear your thoughts as well! What type of hero are you most attracted to? What frustrates you about some heroes? What trends do you see in heroes?

An excerpt from her latest novel Forbidden Touch..

An hour later, we landed, retrieved our suitcases, and claimed our rental car. We drove to a suburb where the houses got progressively bigger and the landscaping more Forbidden Touch Newelaborate. During our drive, Beckett’s glances drifted from the road to the passenger seat. “I want you to know I told my parents that we’re friends. While I don’t mind that my parents know we are … physical, I thought maybe this would be easier. We’ll definitely get fewer questions this way. And when I was trying to convince you to come with me, I made you that promise. I intend to keep it.”

“Thanks. I think it’ll make the weekend more enjoyable.” Trusting him was crucial to our arrangement and our friendship. Being able to do so took a weight off my shoulders I hadn’t realized I was carrying.

Beckett soon turned into a gated subdivision. As I looked out through the window, the passing scenes struck me. Gone were the lush green grasses and weeds. Gone were the trees with actual leaves. Those Boulder staples were replaced by rocks, sand, and stone. Gone was the feeling that nature was plush and abundant and warm. Despite the fact that Phoenix’s air was much hotter, it was colder here, harsher. As I stepped out of the car in front of a mansion of terracotta and landscaping boulders, I was sure that I’d never been on more unfamiliar ground.

Out Now