Monday, 13 April 2015

Spotlight - Jessica Cale

Hi everyone.

Today we have the lovely Jessica Cale stopping by to give us a peek into her latest book, Virtue’s Lady. This is the second book in the Southwark Saga, the first being – Tyburn. As you may have gathered from the titles, Jessica writes delicious historical romance.

Hi Jessica and welcome! J

Thank you so much for hosting me, Nicole! I am so glad to be here today to share a little bit about my new release, Virtue’s Lady.


Virtue’s Lady is the second book of The Southwark Saga, and follows Lady Jane Ramsey as she attempts to give up her life of wealth and privilege when she falls in love with Mark Virtue, a carpenter and ex-highwayman. It is a bit of a departure from many historical romances in that much of it takes place in Southwark, one of the poorest areas around London and a haven for criminals. Instead of marrying into wealth, Jane is actively trying to marry out of it.




It’s easy to imagine that life as an heiress would have been comfortable and easy, but for Jane, it’s not. She has had almost every aspect of her life from her clothing to her education carefully chosen for her, and her father has even picked her future husband: a syphilitic earl more than three times her age. Jane wants out, and she’ll give up anything to have her freedom. Her life in Southwark isn’t easy, but she has to go through it to find out what she’s made of.


It was important to me to set Virtue’s Lady in Southwark because I wanted to see what Jane was made of, too. She surprised even me! There are plenty of stories out there where people learn to live among the wealthy, but I wanted to write something that I felt hadn’t been done before. What if my heiress not only survived the slum, but liked it there? What would make her leave home, and why would she want to stay?


More than anything, this is Jane’s story the way she wanted to live it. She and Mark both had such strong personalities in Tyburn, that for Virtue’s Lady, I let them take the lead and live the lives they were going to live anyway. Their story is as individual as they are, and I hope you enjoy it.



From toiling for pennies to bare-knuckle boxing, a lady is prepared for every eventuality.



     Lady Jane Ramsey is young, beautiful, and ruined.

    After being rescued from her kidnapping by a handsome highwayman, she returns home only to find her marriage prospects drastically reduced. Her father expects her to marry the repulsive Lord Lewes, but Jane has other plans. All she can think about is her highwayman, and she is determined to find him again.

    Mark Virtue is trying to go straight. After years of robbing coaches and surviving on his wits, he knows it’s time to hang up his pistol and become the carpenter he was trained to be. He busies himself with finding work for his neighbors and improving his corner of Southwark as he tries to forget the girl who haunts his dreams. As a carpenter struggling to stay in work in the aftermath of The Fire, he knows Jane is unfathomably far beyond his reach, and there’s no use wishing for the impossible.

    When Jane turns up in Southwark, Mark is furious. She has no way of understanding just how much danger she has put them in by running away. In spite of his growing feelings for her, he knows that Southwark is no place for a lady. Jane must set aside her lessons to learn a new set of rules if she is to make a life for herself in the crime-ridden slum. She will fight for her freedom and her life if that’s what it takes to prove to Mark—and to herself—that there’s more to her than meets the eye.




Here’s a snippet –

She hung up the dress, admiring her handiwork. It was not something she would willingly wear, but she hoped the lady would be pleased with the final result. She heard the front door behind her as she bent to pluck a stray thread from the skirt. “We’ve shut for the day,” she called over her shoulder.

When she heard no response, she turned.

Mark Virtue stood behind the counter, his hand still on the doorknob. His long brown coat hung open over his dusty work clothes, the undyed linen of his shirt straining across his broad chest. That chest, a warm expanse of smooth skin over hard, sculpted muscle, was a work of art. Though she had willed herself to forget him, her hands remembered.

Her lips remembered, too.

She licked them with the tip of her tongue, her mouth gone quite dry.

“I didn’t believe it,” he said, his gaze moving from her shapeless leather shoes to her dirty, gloveless hands. Jane looked down, suddenly aware of her shabby work dress. Compared to the other gowns he had seen her in, it was little more than a rag, really. She had braided her hair over her shoulder to keep it out of her stitching and now she wondered what she must look like to him. She touched the end of her braid self-consciously, a touch of embarrassment coloring her cheeks.

She cursed herself for her embarrassment. She had as much right to be here as anyone, and she was done apologizing to Mark Virtue. She straightened her spine and looked him square in his devastatingly blue eyes.

Her knees may have trembled a bit. She did a good job of hiding it. “Well?”

Mark stepped toward the counter. “I sent you back to your father not a fortnight past.”

She shrugged, borrowing the gesture from Carys. “I didn’t go.”

“I see that.”

He paced around the side of the counter while maintaining what little distance he could in the close quarters of the shop.

Jane stepped back, hiding the toes of her soft leather shoes under the hem of her dress. Her slippers may have been stolen, but she still had her silk stockings. She wore them even now, not that he needed to know that.

He had rather liked them, if she remembered correctly.

She swallowed. “What do you want?”

He raised his eyebrows in surprise. “I’ve come to see the new shop girl everyone’s talking about. You look the part, I’ll give you that. Perhaps a touch more dirt, just here...” He brushed her skirt.

Jane crossed her arms over her chest. “Is that what you think this is? You think I’m pretending?”

“Rather unconvincingly, I’m afraid. All the shapeless dresses in the world couldn’t disguise the fact that you’re a lady. Lowering yourself to wield a needle doesn’t make you one of us.”

Jane clenched her jaw. “I’ve as much right to be here as you do.”

“You have no right,” he insisted. “You can’t play at being poor. This is life to these people. This is my life. You think I ought to stand by while you make a mockery of it by working in a place like this when you can leave anytime you please?”

“I’m not going anywhere,” she nearly shouted. “I told you, Mark, I gave it up. Believe it folly if you will, but it changes nothing. I am never going back.”

Mark looked away. “Give it a fortnight.”

“I beg your pardon?”

“Give it a fortnight,” he repeated. “Work, and struggle, and starve with the rest of us if that is what you think you want. You weren’t made for this world any more than I was made for yours. Sooner or later, you’ll be desperate to go home.”

“I am home,” Jane said through her teeth. “I’m staying here.”

“How long do you suppose you can last alone in a bastard sanctuary with no money and no protection? How do you expect to live?”

“I have a job, in case you were not aware.” She threw out her arms to indicate the shop. “I work day and night, and I have a little apartment with a door that locks. I’ll make do.”

He tilted his head, looking at her curiously. “In two weeks on your own? Maybe you’ve got a protector after all.”

Jane might have been naïve, but she knew exactly what he was implying, and she didn’t like it. She felt the anger rush to her face, unbidden and terrifying in its intensity. She took a deep breath. “Get out.”

“Jane, be reasonable.”

Her face burned. “You’d like me to stand here while you question my virtue? You of all people? You had no trouble dispensing with it when you thought me an actress!”

Mark gave a long sigh. “For that I apologize. I was a fool. I never should have thought that someone like you...” He motioned toward her helplessly.

“Someone like me? Who might that be? Am I a lady? Am I a seamstress? Am I a whore? You don’t seem to like me as any of these things, so why don’t you tell me, Mark, who I ought to be. What kind of a woman am I?”

He took her wrists in his hands and held them to his chest, the irritation in his face replaced by something that looked a bit like shame. “That’s not what I meant.” He lowered his voice, his face close enough that she could smell the tobacco in his clothes. “Do as you please. It makes no difference to me.”

Jane’s fingers spanned his chest of their own accord, responding to his warmth. “It doesn’t?”

He shook his head, his eyes settling on her lips. “I don’t want you to get hurt,” he confessed.

She resisted the urge to lean into him with some difficulty. “I’ve done fine this far.”

“Have you?” He took her hand, turning her palm upwards to examine the damage: pinpricks, swollen fingertips, the ghosts of calluses forming where she grasped the shears.

She tugged her hand away from him but he didn’t let go. He held her gaze, his eyes searching hers, and she was struck again by their extraordinary color. Deep blue, green, and grey, shifted across his irises in restless, churning waves, the color of a storm on the river. They darkened as he raised her hand to his mouth and kissed the palm, the touch of his lips like a balm on her sore skin.

Jane held her breath, waiting to drown.

He smiled his crooked smile, a touch of condescension in the corners. “If all you wanted was another night, you didn’t have to go to such trouble.



Here’s the blurb from Tyburn, the first book in Jessica’s Southwark Saga.

Notorious harlot Sally Green fights for survival in Restoration London. When a brutal attack throws them together, Sally is torn between the tutor who saves her and the highwayman who keeps her up at night; between new love and an old need for revenge. Winner of the Southern Magic Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence 2015.


Jessica Cale is a historical romance author and journalist based in North Carolina. Originally from Minnesota, she lived in Wales for several years where she earned a BA in History and an MFA in Creative Writing while climbing castles and photographing mines for history magazines. She kidnapped (“married”) her very own British prince (close enough) and is enjoying her happily ever after with him in a place where no one understands his accent. You can visit her at


You can also find Jessica here –

Twitter: @JessicaCale




Amazon Author Page:



Thanks so much for dropping by.


Nicóle  xx



Tuesday, 31 March 2015

A Snippet of McKellan's Run

Hi everyone!

So I’m actually holding an advanced copy of McKellan’s Run in my hands!!!

It’s a pretty surreal moment and I’m over the moon.

I thought I’d post a little snippet to give you a glimpse of Mac and Violet. So, here’s the blurb and an extract.



Violet Beckett once made the mistake of falling for the wrong McKellan brother. Now, eight years later, fate has brought Violet back to her home town with her daughter, Holly.

As soon as Violet runs into Charlie ‘Mac’ McKellan, she wonders if she should run all the way back to the city. But something about him makes her want to linger. Can she trust him, can she trust herself or will she be burned again?

Charlie McKellan has had a soft spot for Violet Beckett for longer than he can remember. It almost killed him to watch his brother woo her, use her and finally lose her. From his very first encounter with Violet he’s hooked. But how can he convince her that not all McKellans are the same?



‘I think we got a bit carried away.’


‘That’s okay. We can slow things down, whatever you want, I’ll do it,’ Mac said his arms still wound around her.


‘I’m not sure if this is such a good idea, Mac, I mean with our history…’


‘What history? Violet what the hell are you talking about?’


‘Okay fine, the history I have with your family, with your brother.’


‘I don’t give a damn about the past, Violet. Screw the history – I just want a future, with you,’ he said as he released her.


Violet felt bereft without his touch. Here she was trying to do the right thing, the noble thing and not let him sacrifice himself. Mac deserved so much more.


‘You don’t mean that Mac. You’re just trying to fix things like you always do. You want to protect me and Holly and I can’t tell you how much that means to me. No one has ever wanted to do that before. But I can’t let you; it wouldn’t be fair.’ She reached out to him.


Mac snatched his arm away. ‘Is that what you think?’ he asked. ‘After what just happened? You think I’m with you out of some sort of misguided duty?’


‘You’re a good man but I’ve said it before, I’m not your mistake or your problem.’


He pushed away from the fence and walked away without a look or a word.


‘Mac! Mac, please don’t leave like this. Please don’t just walk away.’


He whirled around and faced her crossing his arms in front of his chest as if he was putting a barrier between them.


‘Is that the way you want to play it? Damned if I know if you’re stubborn or just plain blind. Either way, I can’t talk to you right now.’




‘Just leave it, Violet. Before something is said that can’t be taken back,’ he said turning again and walking away his anger palpable and the air almost crackling with tension. The look in his eyes made it clear she’d hurt him. She’d never meant that to happen.




He didn’t answer or stop, he just kept walking, his back stiff and unyielding.




McKellan’s Run will be released on the 22nd of April in paperback and digital formats. It is available on pre-order at the moment. J



Here’s the pre-order links to the ebook versions –


Short Amazon link


Short Amazon Au link


Thanks for stopping by.

Nicóle xx


Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Spotlight - Andrea R. Cooper

Hi everyone,

Please welcome the lovely Andrea R. Cooper. Andrea writes fantasy, paranormal, historical, and contemporary romance suspense.  Today Andrea has brought along her delicious Viking tales – Viking Flame and Viking Fire.


So if you like your ages dark, like I do – why not check these out!


Viking Flame

Prequel to Viking Fire


Bram has agreed to marry an Irish nobleman’s daughter in exchange for land and his services fighting with the Laird Liannon’s clan against rival Irishmen. However, Bram’s intended does not stir his heart. Not like the Laird’s daughter, Kaireen.

Somehow, he must not only convince the Laird to amend his marriage contract, but win the heart of the stubborn feisty Kaireen.




Near the beach, the man quit rowing and yanked out a knife.

Bram didn’t move. “You go against your Captain’s orders t—”

“You made it to shore. That’s all we’s promised.” He spat at Bram’s boots. “No one said anything about you living afterwards.” When he dove forward, Bram ducked to the side and snatched the sailor’s arm, pinning it to his side. When the sailor slung with his free arm, Bram increased the pressure until the man was on his knees.

“Cease, or I will break your arm.” If it wasn’t for his pledge to Morga, he’d have snapped the man’s arm already. Once his contract was signed with the Laird, then he’d be free to fight in Ireland—or at least against other Vikings and rival Irishmen. The man continued to struggle, “Or perhaps a leg as well? What will your Captain say if you return without your weapon and injured? Will he be merciful and allow you to recover or throw you to the sharks?”

“Heathen scum!” He twisted his body to escape Bram’s grip.

As he did, Bram snapped the man’s wrist backward and the first mate let out a howl before the blade came closer to Bram’s chest.

“Now, hand me the knife.” When the man glared at him, he increased pressure on the bent wrist. “Or this heathen might do worse so that not even the sharks would want you.”

The first mate gulped and released his hold of the knife.

Bram broke his hold and snatched the blade out of the air before it hit the water. “Tell your Captain, I will not forget his hospitality nor will any of my eight brothers.”

The man paled. “What brings you to our island? To rape our women and pillage our churches?”

“No.” Bram rose and tucked the small blade into his boot. “To find my bride.”


Amazon only – Buy Link:



Viking Fire


In 856 CE, Ireland is a land of myth, magic, and blood. Viking raiders have fought the Irish for over half a century. Rival Irish clans promise only betrayal and carnage.

Kaireen, daughter of Laird Liannon, is suddenly forced into an arranged marriage with her sworn enemy, a Viking. She refuses to submit. With no mention of love, only land and the protection of her clan, she endeavors to get her betrothed banished from her country. Will love find its way around her stubborn heart?


Bram, the Viking, finds himself without future or inheritance as a younger son in his family. A marriage to the Laird’s daughter would grant him land if he swears fidelity and if his men will fight along with the Liannons against any foe—Irish or Viking. However, the Laird’s feisty daughter only holds animosity for him and his kind. Is marriage worth the battle scars of such a relentless opponent?


With the blame for a rival laird’s death treacherously set against the Liannons, Kaireen and Bram must find a way to lay aside their differences as an unforeseen darkness sends death snapping at their heels.


Viking Fire Book Trailer:

Viking Fire Buy Links:

Viking Fire Amazon:

Viking Fire B & N:

Viking Fire iTunes:


Here’s a little bit about Andrea!

Andrea has always created characters and stories. But it wasn't until she was in her late twenties that she started writing novels.

What happened that ignited the writing flame in her fingers? Divorced, and disillusioned by love songs and stories. They exaggerate. She thought. Love and Romance are not like that in the real world. Then she met her husband and realized, yes love and romance are exactly like the songs and stories say.

She is now a happy wife, and a mom to three kids (two boys and a girl).She believes in the power of change and counting each moment as a blessing. But most importantly, she believes in love.


Twitter: @AndreaRCooper

Author Website:



Thanks so much for stopping by.


Nicóle xx

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Crafting the Dreaded Logline

Hi everyone,

Today I thought I’d talk about that tricksy little sentence – the logline. The logline is also known as a ‘pitch’ and even sometimes referred to as the ‘elevator pitch’. So called in the off chance you happen to barrel up a hapless editor in an elevator and pitch your novel. You’ve only got a few seconds before those doors open, so you need a sentence that’s short, sharp and grabs their attention.

*Note an elevator is one thing. Please do not follow the so called hapless editor to the bathroom still pitching your idea because that’s just a bit creepy.*


A logline can be useful when pitching a story both in person, online or even in your query letter. It can also stop the ‘eye glaze’ when your nearest & dearest ask ‘So what’s your book about?’

However they can also be a bugger to write. It’s very difficult to take your entire story and condense it down to one sentence, whilst still keeping the essence of it. It takes a bit of practice (and maybe a Zen moment with a cup of tea) but if you persist you can conquer the logline.


The trick is not only getting as much of the pertinent information into that one little sentence but also keeping it slick.

I’ve broken down a handful of my own loglines in the hope that they could help.



So grab your story and have a go. See if you can compress your story into a finely crafted sentence. Go on, I know that you can do it! J


Some publishers will call for pitches using loglines. For example Carina Press has just held their #CarinaPitch on Twitter. Here you not only had to have a logline but it had to meet the Twitter criteria of consisting of 140 characters.

Julianna Keyes wrote a very interesting article on crafting 140 character loglines. I’ve included the link -


Thanks for stopping by.


Nicóle xx


Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Paranormal Love Wednesdays

Hi everyone,

I’m taking part in the Paranormal Love Wednesdays Blog Hop. So if you like all things otherworldly, join in and hop your way through the different posts. This blog hop is a weekly occurrence, so drop back each week for sneaky peeks and snippets of fabulous new titles. Today I’m featuring; Black is the Colour – Tales from the Hearthfire.


Ciana has loved Oran all her life and nothing, not even her father will prevent them from being together. But the Mayor of Stonemark has higher aspirations for his daughter than the village blacksmith. He engages the help of a witch and dark magic to bend Ciana to his will.

Oran knows that he doesn’t deserve Ciana. But their love is stronger than the metal he forges and welds. She has his heart and he will never turn from her no matter the cost.

They plan to run away and start a new life far beyond her father’s reach. But their escape comes too late. Separated, Ciana will need all her strength to journey through the deep forest and save Oran from the witch’s curse. Alone and with only a trail of black feathers to follow, Ciana will fight against the odds and attempt to bring her lover home.

Shortened Amazon link -

Thanks for stopping by.

Nicóle xx

Here's the link back to Paranormal Love Wednesdays Blog Hop...

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Updated Website

Hi everyone,

I've finally updated my website. Yes, it's taken me most of the afternoon but it's finally done. Hopefully now it won't be such a muddle. Love to hear what you think.

Thanks for stopping by.

Nicóle xx

Banner by Have a Slice Productions.