This Is My Jam – Save The Date by Allie Spencer

 

Ailsa Stuart is abandoning the dreary UK for a week in Tuscany to attend the wedding of her flighty cousin, Jess. On paper, it seems like a no-brainer; it’s half-term so she has time off from her job as Deputy Head in a primary school, she gets to spend a week all expenses paid in a luxury hotel and her family will be there. The problem is that her ex, Nick might also be going. And all her family will be there.

From the moment Ailsa arrives, things start to go wrong and it soon becomes apparent that the week is going to be anything but relaxing. As the days go by, the dramas pile up and Ailsa finds herself with the unenviable task of ensuring that the wedding happens at all, which would be much easier if she didn’t have to deal with Nick and all the tumbled emotions he stirs up in her. Did she do the right thing in ending their relationship or has she made a terrible mistake?

Save The Date has all the delights of a creamy gelato and it’s set in one of my favourite places. Actually, this is the second book in a week I’ve read where the heroine runs off to Italy to escape a failed relationship so there must be something about the place. I loved Ailsa from the very start; she was funny and sweet and hilariously disaster prone – I was rooting for her from her spectacular party entrance at the Hotel Santa Lucia. I could totally identify with her cringe-making, squabbling family, too – we’ve all got relatives we’re embarrassed to admit to but Ailsa has more than most. The underlying mystery gave the story an added dimension but the loveliest thing about this book is the way that the characters all pulled together in the end.

This is a brilliant holiday read, which mixes the craziness of a family wedding with the essence of an Italian summer and throws in an irresistible dollop of amore. It gets a big thumbs up from me!

Cupid’s Postbag

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Cupid is overwhelmed with letters from the lovelorn and has asked me if I can help out. So here’s one I picked out – totally at random – and I thought maybe you might like to have a go at answering it:

Dear Cupid
 
Can you help? I met this guy at a party and we really hit it off. He’s totally hot – like a young Leonardo DiCaprio and I think he fancied me, too. After the party, he tracked me down on Facebook and we had this mind-blowing conversation messaging back and forth all night.

The problem is our families – they don’t get on, some sort of ridiculous feud after his dad cut three feet of the hedge at the back of our garden or something. I know my dad would seriously flip out if he knew I was messaging this guy but we really had a connection.
 
So what should I do? Block him and forget about it? Or should I take a chance and get to know him better?
 
Love
 
Jules x

Send your suggestions for Jules to me by Sunday 30th June (at hollyhauthor at gmail.com) and I’ll pass them onto Cupid. The best one will be published on the site on Monday 1st July, with links and bragging rights on Twitter, and you’ll earn the title of Cupid’s Little Helper, plus his undying gratitude (which, you don’t need me to tell you, could come in really handy sometime).

So what are you waiting for? Get thinking!

Holly xx

This Is My Jam – The Girl Behind The Mask by Stella Knightley

I must admit I’m a latecomer to the erotica party (you know, the kind where you leave your inhibitions at the door and possibly your car keys in a bowl) but I couldn’t fail to be intrigued by the premise of The Girl Behind The Mask by Stella Knightley. Set across two eras, the blurb promises ‘two passionate stories of love, lust and seduction that will leave you wanting more…’ and the book certainly lived up to that.

Historian Sarah Thomson travels to Venice to research the three hundred year old erotic tale of virginal aristocrat, Luciana Giordano, and the man who awakens her sexual appetite. Sarah’s work brings her into contact with millionaire Marco Donato and that’s where the sparks really begin to fly. As the plot weaves between the 18th century and present day, the sex gets ever more sizzling but you won’t find yourself skipping the pages in between to get your next fix – the story is every bit as fascinating. I found the connection between Sarah and Marco to be the most satisfying but there’s not much in it – both story-lines smoulder on the page and made me blush more than once. But there’s a lot more to this book than just sex; the characters are interesting and well-rounded, the dialogue sparkles and the setting is gorgeous. Venice is one of my favourite places, so it was a real treat to be able to immerse myself in its twisting alleyways and secret canals. Stella Knightley captured the essence of the city perfectly and its decadent past is the perfect backdrop for the steamier aspects of the plot.

So, in case you haven’t guessed, I loved this book and will be recommending it to all my friends, especially the ones who I know read Fifty Shades, in the hope that they’ll finally get how good erotica can actually be. Move over, E L James, there’s a new star in town and, boy, can she write!

As an added bonus, this is the first book in a trilogy and the follow-up novel, The Girl Behind The Fan, is out in e-book today. If you want me, I’ll be reading…

Hurt and confused by the sudden end of her strange love affair with Venetian millionaire Marco Donato, Sarah Thomson is persuaded to take her bruised heart to Paris by her ex-boyfriend Steven, who is hoping for a reconciliation.

While she and Steven rekindle their psychologically and sexually tortured relationship, Sarah tries to forget her yearning for Marco by throwing herself into a new project: a study of the life of notorious nineteenth-century courtesan, Augustine Levert, whose sensual charms parted many a man from his fortune. But when her life begins to parallel Augustine’s story, Sarah realises she will never erase Marco from her heart.

Faced with a choice between safety and overwhelming passion, will both women make the right decision?

Midsummer Madness!

Hi there!

Cupidity!

It’s been almost six weeks since I first released CUPIDITY for Kindle and I can honestly say I didn’t expect it to be the success it has been. From the first afternoon after release, it hit the number 1 spot in Women’s Short Stories and it has stayed there ever since. At one point, it reached #571 in the Paid Kindle Charts. Huge thanks to everyone who has bought a copy so far.

Now, I don’t know if it’s the balmy sunshine (er…) or the fact that it’s almost Midsummer’s day that’s made me a little over-generous but it’s your gain. Because until Sunday, CUPIDITY is absolutely free!

So knock yourselves out. Tell your friends. Tell them to tell their friends. And if you like it, maybe some of you might leave a little review. But mostly, I hope you like it.

For those of you asking what I’m going to put out there next, I’m mulling over an idea for a Christmas novella. So like one CCTV camera said to another, watch this space.

 

Holly x

Cupid’s Arrows – Christine Stovell

Now I know I said Cupid’s work here was done but I’ve had an SOS from Christine Stovell. Matt Smith has quit as Doctor Who – Chris needs Cupid’s help and she needs it NOW:

“Dear Cupid,

I would be truly grateful if you would please let rip with your fastest speed, longest distance, most accurate arrow as a matter of urgency before Matt Smith gets in the way.  I’ve just found out that the BBC is about to make a new adaptation of Poldark Winston Graham’s tale of Cornish mine-masters, wreckers and turbulent passions and I’m afraid my heart is about to be broken.  There’s only one Ross Poldark for me, and he looks exactly as Robin Ellis who played him in the 1970s series did then; dark, brooding, elegantly scarred and sporting a fine set of sideburns.

No one will ever fill a pair of breeches quite like him*, so please, dear Cupid do your best for me before all hope is lost. Cxx

*I would be willing to accept Aidan Turner if you are really struggling.”

Thanks, Christine! Cupid – do your thing!

Christine’s latest novel is Move Over Darling

When is it time to stop running?

Coralie Casey is haunted by her past. Deciding it’s time for a fresh start, she sets up ‘Sweet Cleans’, a range of natural beauty and cleaning products, and escapes to Penmorfa, a quiet coastal village in west Wales.

Gethin Lewis thinks he’s about to put his home village Penmorfa behind him for good. Now an internationally-acclaimed artist living in New York, he just has to return one last time to wind up his father’s estate.

But the village soon disrupts their carefully laid plans. As truths are uncovered which threaten to split the community apart, Gethin is forced to question his real reasons for abandoning Penmorfa, and Coralie is made to face the fact that some stains just won’t go away.

Catch Chris on Twitter @chrisstovell or at her website ChristineStovell.com

Cupid’s Arrows – Freya North

Today is the very last Cupid’s Arrows and it’s Freya North who’s got the last whisper in Cupid’s ear:

“Cupid?  Hullo?  You there?  You’ve been ignoring me for years – perhaps you never took me seriously, certainly my friends continue to ridicule me.  However, I will once again tell you my target for those fiery little darts of yours.  I don’t mean to call your archery skills into question – but this time it might be prudent to add ‘frilly shirts’ and ‘mauve crushed velvet suit’ and ‘dark, luscious flicky flicky hair’ to your arrow’s satnav. 

            Take aim.  And fire.

            Straight into the heart of Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen for me, please.  Or, as I like to call him, LLB.  Or, sometimes, Lolls.  Or if I’m feeling particularly saucy, Lord Long Lacy Sleeves. 

            Oh the leonine toss of his head!  His dreamy voice – so hypnotically droll and articulate in prose the most fabulous shade of purple!  Think of the merry mischief he could make with all that frothy lace and me being so ticklish and all!

            If he could find his way to mine, I’d give him all the time he needs to wax on about rococo arabesques and dead-flat-matt.  He’d never lose his distemper with me. I’d hang on his every word because the thought of those polysyllabic adjectives on his tongue-tip at the height of passion has me more of a quiver than that place you keep your arrows.

            And Cupid, if you assess my request you’ll see the true value of it.  LLB is two-for-the-price-of-one.  It’s not just me personally who’d benefit from some LLB TLC.  When he’s finished ravishing me, he’ll look around.  And he’ll say: “Darling! I have a roll of fabulous statement wallpaper and I’m going to turn your bedroom in a boudoir.”  And then he’ll say:  “And afterwards, we can hole up in it for the whole of July.”

Thank you.

Freya xx

            PS: when I’m finished with LLB and if you have a spare arrow, I’ll have Taylor Kitsch please.  I don’t mean to be fussy – but I must specify only in Tim Riggins guise from Friday Night Lights.  He has long hair too – but more bad-boy scruffy than LLB bouffe.   A surly, monosyllabic young buck would be a great contrast.  And variety in life would provide plenty of spice for me.”

Thanks, Freya! LLB can fluff my throw cushions anytime.

All Freya’s books are available here. Catch Freya on Twitter at @Freya_North or on her her website freyanorth.com

Cupid’s Arrows – Allie Spencer

It’s Allie Spencer’s turn to aim Cupid’s bow today and she has chosen someone I freely admit to having a major soft spot for:

“Whoosh! Cupid’s arrow whizzes back through the time vortex to a darkened cinema in Plymouth, 1985. Somewhere near the front of the auditorium, munching packets of Revels (remember them?) are a group of fourteen-year-old girls. The terrible adverts for local car dealerships are finished and the film proper begins – Back to the Future. About a minute later, and I am in love with a man who is still a hero to me twenty eight years later – no, not Marty Mcfly (not quite anyway) but Michael J Fox, the hottest comedy talent in 1980s Hollywood.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yosuvf7Unmg
We were a perfect match: he was a superb comic actor, this was my dream too (mixed in with a bit of writing for good measure); we were both on the short side, he’s 5ft 4 and a half, whereas I don’t quite make 5ft 1; and, most importantly, he was gorgeous – the fourteen year-old me with spots and a brace perhaps not so – but hey, this is my teenage fantasy. From where I was sitting, in my faux-velvet cinema seat, it was destined to be.
I instantly hit adolescent-borderline-obsessive-mode: there were posters of MJF, breath-bated viewings of his sit-com Family Ties and as many trips to see Back to the Future as I could wangle. Gradually, though,the obsession loosened its grip: there were other guys – ones who didn’t live in Hollywood and have careers as international movie stars – and, tragically, Michael himself began to slip from the spotlight following his shock diagnosis with Parkinson’s Disease.
He will always have a place in my heart – not just for his looks and his move-star sheen – but for his courage, his talent and the simple fact he seems like a really, really nice guy. I’ve just found out he has a new sit com coming out in the Autumn where he plays a former news anchor with Parkinson’s. I’m sure it will be brilliant and, yes, I have to confess that when I watched the trailer my heart started beating a little bit faster. So thank you, MJF, for brightening up my adolescence and making me laugh – and I hope you continue to do so for many years to come.”
Thanks, Allie! Isn’t he a dream?
Allie’s latest book is Save The Date – out later this month.
Family weddings can be hell…
…and, marooned in Italy for her cousin’s nuptials, Ailsa can be forgiven for thinking that this one is worse than most. With the bride and groom at loggerheads and the guests in uproar, it’s a million miles away from the rest and relaxation she’d been hoping for. Then suddenly, in the middle of the mayhem, she comes face-to-face with Nick, the man she walked out on just a few months earlier.
How can Ailsa help get the wedding back on track when she and Nick can’t stop arguing? But if they do, she might remember why she fell in love with him in the first place – and then there really would be trouble.
Catch Allie on Twitter at @Allie1Spencer or at her website is alliespencer.com

Cupid’s Arrows – Essie Fox

Essie Fox is aiming Cupid’s Arrows into the past today:

“Dear Cupid,

Could you possibly manage some time travelling to bring my heartthrob back to life?

You see, when I was researching my latest historical novel (about a handsome young photographer, and the beautiful young woman whose picture he takes) I came across this old picture of a man called Robert Cornelius.

Not only was Robert handsome, but also very clever – creating a chemical process that helped to speed development times in the earliest art of photography. But what’s really startling about this self-portrait – taken over 150 years ago – is that Robert looks as contemporary, as real and ‘alive’ as any other young man who you might happen to pass on the street today. He could be in a fashion shot. He could be a moody musician. You could almost reach out and touch him – talk to him – desire him.

And, as an extra lure, why not have a look at this tumblr page:  My Daguerreotype Boyfriend – a.k.a. Where Early Photography Meets Extreme hotness.

Essie xx”

Thanks, Essie!

 

Essie latest book is called Elijah’s Mermaid.

Saved from the Thames one foggy night, a baby girl is raised in The House of the Mermaids – a brothel that becomes the closest thing to home. But, despite being cosseted and spoiled by the Madame, when she reached the age of 14, she is sold to the highest bidder – an artist who is obsessed with painting her as a nymph or mermaid. And while living in that artist’s house, she meets Elijah, a young photographer, embarking on an affair with dark and dangerous results.

Catch Essie on Twitter at @essiefox or on her website essiefox.com

 

Cupid’s Arrows – The Hot Parade

I’ve been so inspired by everyone else’s instructions for Cupid that I couldn’t resist having another go myself – well it is my blog, after all! But instead of choosing just one target (and if you know me at all, you can probably guess who that might be), I thought I’d come up with very own Hot Parade (see what I did there?), made up of those men who’ve been inexplicably overlooked in the last month – cue the TOTP music:

10) Sir Patrick Stewart – Captain of the Starship Enterprise. He’s been Professor Charles Xavier in X-Men, Macbeth on stage but to me, he’ll always be Jean-Luc Picard.

9) Justin Timberlake – I could listen to him sing all day and he brushes up pretty well too. Minus the N-Sync hair, obviously.

8.) Ryan Reynolds, star of The Proposal and The Green Lantern and owner of an extremely taut bottom.

7) Jamie Redknapp – ex-Premiership footballer, M&S model and all-round dish. How Harry Rednapp produced him is anyone’s guess.

6) Idris Elba. How could it be that no one asked Cupid to zing an arrow this man’s way? He is incredibly sexy and his star is totally on the rise.

5) Colin Firth – if I hadn’t fallen head over heels for him as Mr Darcy, he’d have got me with his charmingly bumbling writer in Love Actually.

4) George Clooney – too many amazing performances to mention but I love him best as Danny Ocean.

3) Jake Gyllenhaal – have you seen Prince of Persia? ‘Nuff said.

2) Chris Evans – Captain America himself. What’s not to love about a super-soldier who is also the perfect gentlemen?

1) Ryan Gosling – Mr Photoshop himself. Anyone who knows me won’t be in the least bit surprised by this choice – to me, he is hotness personified and was the inspiration for Cupid. Seriously, imagine him in a toga…mmm…

More Cupid’s Arrows tomorrow but for now, who would you ask Cupid to shoot?

Cupid’s Arrows – Miranda Dickinson

Miranda Dickinson is giving Cupid his To-Do list today and she’s hoping love is brewing at her favourite café:

“Dear Cupid

Firstly, I’d like to thank you for bringing me and a certain lovely Bob together. He’s fab. Loving your work on that!

But this time I’m not asking for me. I’m asking for two people who work at the local café where I often go to write. After a particularly entertaining Halloween themed-day, I christened them ‘Face-paint Skeleton Guy’ and ‘Zombie Serving Wench’ and the names have sort of stuck. They clearly like each other, but as yet haven’t acted upon it.

(I even wrote a short story about them to try to move things along, but unless they read my blog they’re unlikely to know that. You can read it here)

The longing looks across the tables as they pass each other are impossible to ignore. Even with the café’s signature soundtrack of Nat King Cole, Dean Martin and all of America’s crooners and swingers to help, they haven’t given in to the attraction between them.

Could you give them a helping arrow, Cupid?

Thank you in advance,

Miranda xx”

Thanks, Miranda – awwww!

Miranda’s latest book is When I Fall In Love

What happens when your happy ever after is suddenly taken away from you? Elsie Maynard has a whole new life she never expected to have.

From inadvertently founding a choir like no other with former 80s rock star Woody Jensen, to daring to date again, Elsie steps out into an unknown future – a future that could include gorgeous designer Olly Hogarth, a man who seems intent on winning her heart.

Overcoming problems, challenges and the occasional frustration – namely overconfident Torin Stewart who seems to be everywhere – Elsie believes she is making the most of her life.

But then a heartfelt request brings her to Paris – and the last item on a very important List.

Can Elsie take the final step and lay her past to rest? Join Elsie as she strives to start again, with the help of a dubiously talented, newly formed singing group and her father and sisters’ attempts to help her find love.

Catch Miranda on twitter @wurdsmyth or on her website: www.miranda-dickinson.com

 

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