Book Review : Security by Mandy Baggot

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REVIEW

With a slight shift in sub-genre from romance to romantic suspense, Mandy Baggot’s books get stronger and stronger.  This is probably my favourite one to date.

We meet Autumn Raine, singing superstar and she is not instantly likeable, coming across as spoilt and self-obsessed. However, gradually the walls come down and you get to know the real woman underneath who is both vulnerable and determined at the same time. Underneath the celebrity exterior, there is a genuine likeable person. She’s had a lot of emotional obstacles to overcome and has not always had the best advice. Now she’s up against the biggest challenge yet with her life in danger.

Cue mean and moody, northern bodyguard, Nathan Regan. He doesn’t change his attitude or his mind for anyone, that is until he comes up against Autumn Raine . As if outwitting kidnap plots and extremists isn’t enough for one guy, he also has  demons of his own to battle at the same time.

With unexpected twists in the plot, Security, has suspense and tension all the way through, together with some great chemistry and tough romance, this really is my sort of book.

Description

Autumn Raine is a pop vocalist at the very top of her game. She’s a style icon, the paparazzi’s darling and everyone wants to be her friend. But when her safety is threatened, her whole life starts to unravel.

Enter Nathan Regan, an ex-elite soldier who is assigned to protect her. He’s a good man doing bad things but what drives him? Passion? Madness? Or grief? Demons from his past are threatening to consume him. Can he win the fight alone or will he have to admit he needs help?

As the threat deepens, Autumn starts to find out who she really needs in her life. Is there still room for personal assistant Janey or rapper boyfriend Rockweiler? When everyone around her is feeding her lies, how does she work out the truth? Does her record producer know more than he’s letting on? What is her mother, the British Foreign Secretary’s involvement in the situation? And can Autumn put her faith in a forty-something Jamaican woman who handles an automatic weapon as expertly as she cooks?

Eluding kidnap and trying to stay alive, can Autumn find the strength to be the person she longs to be? And can two people, poles apart, forge something strong enough to survive anything?

GIVEAWAY

As part of of the Security launch, Mandy is having a giveaway. Anyone who posts a review on Amazon up until the end of May can enter into the Rafflecopter draw to win a £25/$40 Amazon gift certificate. You will be able to enter via this link:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/e42d6b8/

About the Author

Mandy Baggot brings you award-winning fiction! In 2012 she won the coveted Innovation in Romantic Fiction award at the UK’s Festival of Romance. Her novel Strings Attached was also short listed for Best Author Published Read!.

Mandy writes strong contemporary romance and characters you’ll fall in love with. Previously self-published, she was signed by US
mandy baggotpublishing house Sapphire Star Publishing in January 2012. Shortly afterwards she became a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

Mandy is a self-confessed Twitter addict who also likes to show off her singing talents on You Tube – check out Lady Gaga! She has auditioned for X Factor, appeared on ITV1s Who Dares Sings and longs to duet with Bryan Adams. She also has a fondness for white wine, mashed potato, country music and World’s Strongest Man.

Mandy lives near Salisbury in Wiltshire, UK with her husband, two daughters and two cats called Kravitz and Springsteen.

You can find out more on Mandy’s website
http://mandybaggot.com

or check out her author page at Sapphire Star Publishing
http://www.sapphirestarpublishing.com/mandybaggot

mandy's books

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fiction addiction book tours

Sophie’s Run visits Hamburg

Come on Tour with Sophie and Dan… Discover the Hanseatic city of Hamburg!

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Sophie’s Run

Her famous star remains her rock while life takes her on a little detour…

Who says that the road towards true love is straight and even?  Sophie is certainly discovering that it is anything but.

So she has finally found the man of her dreams! Well… she knows who he is, even though she hasn’t actually quite met him yet.  But she misses her opportunity, and then her life goes crazy.  Rock star and ex-fiancé, Dan, keeps getting in the way of her new romance—even if he is just trying to be helpful.  A fire, an impromptu mini-trip with Dan, and a dreaded wedding later, Sophie is still struggling to meet the love of her life. Then, just as she is getting it together with her perfect man, best friend Rachel commits an act of unspeakable betrayal.

Sophie has had enough. Confused and distraught, she decides that it is time for radical change.  Surprising herself and shocking her friends, she embarks on a secret journey and eventually gets her life back on track.

Sophie’s Run is now available in Kindle edition from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk, and in Paperback edition from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. You can also get the paperback at Barnes & Noble, or download Sophie’s Run onto your Nook (coming soon).

My Review of Sophie’s Run

I have been looking forward to reading Sophie’s Run after having so much fun following Sophie’s adventures in the prequel, Sophie’s Turn. It was great to catch up with Sophie again, not to mention the utterly gorgeous Dan. Rachel, BBF, is still there and we get to meet some new faces too.

I found that Sophie’s Run, while in keeping with the style and fun element of Sophie’s Turn, it does perhaps go a bit deeper but in a way that is in keeping with the genre. The characters really develop and mature. There are some big emotional moments, some moments that are great fun and other moments that are beautifully and romantically touching.

I loved the settings, can’t say too much without spoiling the plot, but afterwards I could almost convince myself I had been to a couple of new locations.

A great read, one that I would thoroughly recommend.

Today, Sophie gives you the lowdown on Hamburg, a city that she was passing through but that captured her imagination and made her stay a few days longer than she thought.

Nicky: Hi, Sophie, thanks for joining us here today on Sue’s lovely blog.
Sophie: It’s fab to be here, thanks, Sue, for inviting me.
Nicky: So… Hamburg. Tell us about Hamburg.
Sophie: *chuckles* Where to begin?
Nicky: Well, this is what you tell us in Sophie’s Run. *flicks through pages until she hits the right spot; clears throat.* And I quote: ‘So, I booked myself on a flight to Hamburg the next day. I stayed there for a couple of days while I figured out arrangements…’
Sophie: Yup, that’s right.
Nicky: That sounds like you hadn’t planned to stay in the city for any length of time, though.
Sophie: I hadn’t. I was a woman on the run, a woman with a mission, en route to someplace else. However, when I got there… well, it was just so beautiful. It was very much a city to my liking and I found I couldn’t just pass through. I extended my stay to take a closer look.
Nicky: Amazing. Very … blown with the wind.’
Sophie: Exactly. And Hamburg is a great place. Take a look at this picture of the Town Hall. The small image doesn’t do it justice, but it’s totally overwhelming when you’re stood in front of it. The place is full of history and there are dozens of little stone carvings telling the story of the city. I’m not a sightseeing buff but this had me captivated.

Rathaus
NB: ‘Rat’ in German means ‘Council.’ Rather than… well, rather than what you might have thought upon seeing this word.

HH Rathaus pano1

Source: By Daniel Schwen (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Sophie: But it’s the maritime side of the city that really captured me. This is a photo of St Pauli Landungsbrücken… the historic departure point for cruise liners. The harbor is tidal in the extreme… I forget now what the tidal difference is, but it’s huge. And this landing stage, it’s all on pontoons so the whole thing sways with the river. It’s weird and wonderful and I could just imagine boarding a big cruise liner there in the olden days and sailing across the sea.
Nicky: *sighs* That sounds so romantic!
Sophie: It is. My biggest problem was that I was all on my own when I visited Hamburg so I had no one to share the dream with! Maybe one day…

Landungsbrücken

Landungsbrücken

Source: By Ingo Weschke (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Nicky: What’s going on in the picture below?
Sophie: Ah, that’s the famous Fish Market. It wasn’t exactly on my list of things to do but I had terrible insomnia and my hotel wasn’t far from there, so the concierge recommended a look-see. My God, it was worth it. The hustle and bustle and all the fish! I nearly went crazy with frustration that I couldn’t splash out on some fresh seafood to cook at home, but I had some cooked prawns in a roll, and I even bought a lobster that I stored in the hotel mini bar and had for lunch later that day. I had to wipe the mini bar out with baby wipes to stop it from smelling!

Fish Market by Night

084 Fischmarkt bei Nacht
Source: By Frank Spakowski (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-2.0-de (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/de/deed.en)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Sophie: That same day, I took a harbor cruise. I know, that sounds a bit dorky, but it’s not, I assure you. It was absolutely fascinating. It took me all through the historic warehouse section and I got to see the working harbor. You wouldn’t believe the size of some of those container ships—
Nicky: *interrupts, looking stunned* Really? I mean, really? I didn’t have you down as a tonnage kind of nerd! *smiles*
Sophie: *bursts out laughing* No, me neither, I surprised myself, but it was totally worth doing. There’s lots of stuff I didn’t get to see as I had to leave the next day but I would do that harbor cruise again in a heartbeat. Maybe with my lovely heartthrob next to me next time…
Nicky: *has ears on red alert* Ah, now you’re talking. Heartthrob… tell us more!
Sophie: *laughs coyly* You’ll just have to read Sophie’s Run….

Hafen/Harbor

Hafen Hamburg

Source: By Vwpolonia75 (Jens K. Müller) (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Wait, wait, wait, there’s more: Introducing the Sophie’s Run Give Away!

Sophie’s Run GIVEAWAYS

1) Standard Giveaway

Nicky Wells is giving away one delicious chocolate gift to a lucky winner in the UK or North America!

chocs

The small print: This Gift prize is a product of Unique Chocolate. The Gift prize is subject to availability in your country. If the Gift prize is not available in your country, Nicky Wells reserves the right to offer a substitute gift prize of a similar nature at her discretion. Nicky Wells will require the winner’s postal address for shipping purposes.

Rafflecopter Links:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/share-code/OTI2ZmY2ZjlkMzQ0YzMxZGFhOTJkMzFjZjBhY2Q2OjA=/

2. Bonus Giveaway

Nicky Wells offers a giveaway of one Amazon gift voucher worth $20/£15 for one lucky winner. To enter, simply share your thoughts on Sophie’s Run with Nicky. Email your comment to nickywells@sapphirestarpublishing.com and your name will be entered into the draw. Competition closes 1 May 2013.

About Nicky Wells: Romance that Rocks Your World!

Nicky_NEWAuthorPic_April12_useforwebsite

Rock On! Nicky Wells writes fun and glamorous contemporary romance featuring a rock star and the girl next door.  A signed author with U.S. publisher, Sapphire Star Publishing, Nicky is in the throes of publishing her Rock Star Romance Trilogy. Nicky loves rock music, dancing, and eating lobsters.  When she’s not writing, Nicky is a wife, mother, and occasional teaching assistant.

Originally born in Germany, Nicky moved to the United Kingdom in 1993, and currently lives in Lincoln with her husband and their two boys. In a previous professional life, Nicky worked as a researcher and project manager for an international Human Resources research firm based in London and Washington, D.C.

Visit Nicky on her blog where you can find articles, interviews, radio interviews and, of course, an ongoing update on her work in progress. You can also follow Nicky on Twitter and find her on Facebook. Nicky is a featured author on the innovative reader/author project, loveahappyending.com and has joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association. Nicky also has author pages at Sapphire Star PublishingAmazon and, of course, Goodreads.

Got A #Kindle? Here Are My 5 Star Reviews This Year

Not sure what to download to your e-reader? Well, here are the books that got a 5 star review from me this year, together with a few I would highly recommend (click on the book cover for link to Amazon) …

My 5 Star Reviews of 2012

Never Coming Home

Never Coming Home

Sophie’s Turn

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Devils With Wings, Silk Drop

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Devils With Wings, Frozen Sun

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Shades of Appley Green

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Highly Recommend

The Silent Touch of Shadows

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Taking Charge

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Night Watcher

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The Wind Weeps

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Passenger 13 (a novella)

Passenger 13

How Do You Voodoo? (a novella)

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Thank you all for your support of my blog this year – much appreciated

Happy new year everyone and happy reading

An Audience with an Author … Nicky Wells

So pleased to be having my friend and writing buddy here today, Nicky Wells author of Sophie’s Turn.  We’ve had quite a year between us and I’m delighted that Nicky has got the publishing deal she very much deserves.

Wow, Sue! Thanks for having back here today on this, my official launch tour for Sophie’s Turn. When I first visited you last year, you were the second blogger ever to review my work, and hasn’t it been a journey since? I remember being timid and totally in awe by what you achieve and do. Then we became friends through Loveahappyending.com, and eventually started being writing buddies. And today, we’re celebrating together. Thank you for everything along the way, and thanks for showcasing Sophie’s Turn today. You rock.  [clears throat]

It’s been an absolute pleasure, I am thrilled for you, as you well know 🙂

Right, moving on swiftly before I get all emotional… let’s take a look at your questions.

Sophie’s Turn is your first published novel, did it take long to write?

That’s an interesting question.  It took me a few weeks to plan… I’d say, between two and four depending on how you interpret planning versus writing.  Then I wrote the entire first draft in about three months.  Birth of baby number one was a bit of an immovable deadline, and I definitely wanted it all done before then!  Then of course there were a few re-writes which took maybe a week here and there when I could snatch the time….  So all in all, I think writing Sophie’s Turn probably took the best part of six months.  That said, because of my family circumstances (and another baby coming along), the novel had a long time to ‘mature’ and I had the benefit of reading it ‘fresh’, almost as though I was a genuine reader, having not touched it for a few years at a time.  That helped:  but that’s also almost impossible to build into any writing plan, and now a thing of the past… my current novels are being fast-tracked by comparison!

Do you have a set place & time to write?

Sophie’s Turn was written in what later became the boys’ playroom.  The writing space for the sequel was a tiny little Ikea desk tucked into the corner of the dining room.  However, I also took to moving around the house with the laptop, so I quite often typed on the sofa in the lounge, at the dining room table proper (rather than the dinky desk) and, very occasionally, even in bed.  We’ve recently moved house, however, and I am now the proud owner of a dedicated desk in a study that I only partially share with my husbands’ music and the children’s computer.  I still roam the house though when I get bored of staring at the walls…

As for writing time, I write when the children are in school. I get home from the school run and put my head down, as it were. I have to allow a couple of hours each day for catching up with social networking sites, but when I write, the writing time is sacrosanct and I won’t even answer the phone!

You have a young family, where do you find the time and energy?

I mentioned the time constraints above… finding the energy, that’s an interesting one.  I think of myself as a one-trick-pony (i.e. can only ever do one thing well at any one time) and I also think of myself as perennially worn out.  Yet somehow it all gets done!  I’ve discovered that for me, the most important thing is not to dwell on how busy or tired I am, but to make a plan, portion my work, and stick to it.  As long as I keep going, I’m fine… And, of course, I do consume way too much chocolate!

Did you design your cover for Sophie’s Turn? Was it easy to come up with a design idea?

Now there’s an interesting question! The cover of Sophie’s Turn has been reborn twice now. The original cover was lovingly and artfully created by my husband. It featured a pink background and a sign post with a flower and a butterfly… it was beautiful and I will frame it and put it up on my ego wall at some point soon. However! After a while, I began to feel that it lacked a certain panache, a certain sophistication, a bit of a ‘wow’ factor. I hankered after something a little more glamorous and professional, and my wonderful husband was the first to suggest to move the cover on to the next level. I felt disloyal but he wouldn’t hear of it! So I asked a long-time friend and erstwhile colleague whether she would like to help with redesigning the cover. Jessie went through various iterations, working with the initial concept at first but it just wasn’t zinging. Eventually, I gave her carte blanche and she came back with a fantastic design, shades of purple featuring the merry-go-round and the Eiffel Tower that are on the cover today. I fell in love instantly, as did husband!  Sapphire Star Publishing also loved the cover and took it up yet another level of glamour and wow-factor by making a few subtle but highly effective changes. Et voilà!

Did Sophie’s Turn end up as you originally envisaged or did it change as your wrote?

A little bit of both!  Owing to several iterations of planning, I had the story line very much clear in my head before I started typing.  However, these pesky characters developed a habit of taking wrong turns, inventing new events, or creating problems or diversions that I had not anticipated.  That was actually a very interesting process because at times I felt like I was reading the book while I was writing it.  From previous experience, I know that those are also the incidents that can totally derail the writing process and plot, so it was very useful to have a plan to rein things in again before they spun out of control.

Sophie’s Turn could have had more than one ending, I know I was surprised at the end, was it difficult to decide which way to take the story?

Ah!  That’s a brilliant question.  Let me put it this way without giving too much away.  There were at least three possible, credible outcomes.  (I did make up a few more to start with but they were really too far-fetched).  I knew what I really wanted Sophie to do, and what I would have wanted to have happened to me, had I been in her position.  However, I just couldn’t take the novel there.  I tried, briefly, but it was all very unsatisfactory.  So in the end it was down to Sophie to decide.  There’s a scene when she sees herself at the crossroads… that was all real thought, that was me typing away furiously while Sophie was assessing her options.

Did you do any particular research for the rock group Tuscq in Sophie’s Turn?

I’m afraid to admit that I didn’t.  But then I didn’t need to, I had years of teenage star-struckness to draw on, a vast repository of knowledge about several rock bands, experience of going to concerts, knowledge (from teenage and music magazines) of the touring process… Films like ABBA: The Movie, This is Spinal Tap and Rock Star also offered some helpful insights.  And I just may or may not have met the odd band here or there, once or twice.

Is Dan based on a particular rock star?

Dan is the amalgamation of many lead-singers.  Plus he incorporates some of the best (and worst) traits of people I know, have heard of, or read about.  He is a true bona fide made-up-but-hopefully-still-credible rock idol.  J

Sophie has to make some difficult decisions – did you find it easy to make the choices for her?

Not always.  As I mentioned above, some of her choices were mine, and were choices I would make.  These were the easy ones.  Some other things she does and does not do gave me a real headache.  I don’t think I would have had the gumption to tell the man of I’m dreams I was a virgin (even though I wasn’t); I don’t think I would have had the courage to accompany Dan to the Royal (or his suite); and I think I would have been too blinded to make her choice.  But this was all nail-biting stuff for me…

Without giving too much away, what is your favourite scene in Sophie’s Turn?

I have a few, actually.  The prologue is one: the sense of absolute heady elation and disbelief, the out-of-body wonderment of ‘if this really happening?’  That makes me feel good every time.  Next, it makes me smile when Rachel and Sophie have their morning pow-wow in the coffee shop and Sophie shouts out about s.e.x rather too loudly.  And I’m still quite in love with the scene where Dan has to hide in a cupboard…

Is Sophie anything like you or are you more like Rachel?

Sophie probably reflects my dreamy side, the one that yearns for a fairy tale ending.  But I can also be sarcastic and cutting, like Rachel; not something I’m immensely proud of but that can be very necessary.  Yet it is Rachel who sets Sophie straight on matters of true love and thunderbolt-and-lightning… again, that would be me.  So perhaps it’s fair to say that they distil, each in their own way, aspects of my own character.  If that’s not too scary a notion!

Will we be hearing from Sophie in the future?

Oh definitely!  The second book in the Trilogy, Sophie’s Run is completely finished and currently undergoing a first round of editing by me; it will be coming your way from Sapphire Star Publishing on 7 February 2013!  And the final part in the Trilogy… well, let’s say I have started writing, and I know how it’s all ending!

Sue, thank you so much for this opportunity to take part once again in your ‘audience with an author.’  I am thrilled to get this space on your blog, and I enjoyed answering your questions!

Click here for my review of Sophie’s Turn

Excerpt from Sophie’s Turn by Nicky Wells

“What the hell is going on here?” I hissed, trying to prevent others from hearing our exchange.

“Oh, Sophie, Dan’s turned up. Isn’t it amazing?” she beamed at me.

“I can see that,” I kept hissing, “But what is he doing here?”

Rachel was quite drunk herself and looked at me with those bleary eyes that usually meant she was up to no good. “Sophie,” she declared solemnly and rather loudly, “you have broken the man’s heart. He has come to reclaim you.” She wobbled unsteadily and I gripped her arm. Usually one to hold her liquor, party-girl Rachel had clearly gone too far tonight.

Shh!” I admonished. “Will you keep your voice down? What are you talking about?”

“Dan is completely besotted with you, and he said he couldn’t bear the thought of you getting engaged to Tim so he had to…hic…come and check him out…hic!” Oh God, she had the hiccups. She would have to spend the night in the guest room. Once Rachel got the hiccups, she was beyond salvation. I gave her twenty minutes before she collapsed. I had to extract critical information fast.

“Why did you introduce him to Tim?” I continued my interrogation. “Couldn’t you have sent him away?”

Oh no, Sophie. I couldn’t turn this lovely, heartbroken man away.” She looked at me with big, innocent, and totally unfocused eyes. “In fact, we were just looking for you. You seemed to have… hic… hic… hic…disapp-hic-eared.”

“What did you say to Tim about who Dan was?” I needed to know.

“That he was Dan, of course. Your boy-hic-friend from Tuscq!” She dropped this bombshell completely nonchalantly.

“You what?” I squeaked. “Please tell me you’re joking.”

No, I’m s-hic-erious! Ti-hic-im thought it was very funny. Hic.”

I wrung my hands and barely prevented myself from tearing at my hair. If Tim had thought it was funny, he must have thought Rachel was being facetious or winding him up. He had seen her drunk before — the experience hadn’t done anything to endear her to him in any way —so it was likely that he hadn’t paid the slightest bit of heed to the truth she was spouting. But I had to move, and fast.

“You,” I said to Rachel, grabbing her by the shoulders and steering her toward the stairs. “You have had enough to drink. You are going to bed.”

“I hic-am?” Rachel asked, surprised.

“Indeed,” I confirmed grimly and marched her up the stairs. “Right, here you are. Guest room. Bed. Now.” I propelled her forward and she flopped on the bed like a rag doll.

“Very ti-hic-hic-red,” she mumbled before passing out.

I, on the other hand, had sobered up dramatically and had only one thought left: damage limitation. I blundered back downstairs, racing quite unladylike in my high heels, and skidded to a halt in the lounge. There they were, companionably sitting in front of the stereo, playing DJ.

I clattered across the floor, grabbing a bottle of champers and three glasses off a table as I went. Tim looked up, and then sprang to his feet.

“And here she is,” he announced to Dan with no small measure of proprietary pride. “Doesn’t she look gorgeous?”

Dan rose to his feet, somewhat unsteadily, and looked me up and down. A sad smile played on his face for just the briefest of moments.

“She looks stunning, indeed. Congratulations to you both.” He walked over to me and planted a chaste kiss on my cheek. “Well done,” he said softly, and Tim beamed gratefully, completely unaware that the comment was aimed solely at me. In fact, he seemed completely besotted by Dan’s manly, famous presence.

“Dan here and I were just discussing rock music,” he informed me as though Dan were his new best friend.

I shuddered for a moment. God forbid.

“Dan has some very interesting views about the movement, you know?”

I winced and smiled a secret apologetic smile at Dan, but he was too drunk to notice anything patronizing in Tim’s comment. I had to separate the two before things got out of hand. Luckily, one of our other guests absolved me of thinking up more ruses by descending on Tim and whisking him away to the kitchen.

Dan and I regarded each other in silence.

“You do look beautiful,” Dan repeated, suddenly sounding a whole lot more sober.

I wanted to cry. “What are you doing here?” I whispered, not trusting my voice.

“I don’t really know,” he acknowledged. “I just felt…lonely. At a loose end. I had to see you and convince myself that…well, that it really is too late. You know?”

I was simultaneously touched and petrified. “I thought we’d agreed…,” I started, but Dan interrupted immediately.

LINKS FOR SOPHIE’S TURN

Sophie’s Turn is available in Kindle edition from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk and many other Amazon sites. The paperback edition is also available from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. In addition, you can obtain Sophie’s Turn from Barnes & Noble.

 

Three Steps to Heaven – Pam Howes

Description

It’s 1961 and Eddie Mellor and Jane Wilson are in love. Eddie’s group, The Raiders, is about to make it big. They have the world at their feet and an exciting future to look forward to. Then in walks Angie Turner… The first novel in a series about The Raiders, spanning 50 years.

Pam Howes is the author of ‘Til I kissed You; Always On My Mind; a series of rock’n’roll romances. Fast Movin’ Train – a stand alone true-life love story.

My Thoughts

I really enjoyed this novel. It starts in July 1961, spanning five years, finishing in April 1966 and follows the life of Eddie Mellor, Jane Wilson and The Raiders, together with other supporting characters.

There is plenty going on throughout the story that keeps you hooked and I found myself really involved with the lives of the characters in this novel.  You could see them all grow and develop as the story evolved. There were some twists and turns, the pace picking up quite a bit about three quarters of the way through with an outcome that I wasn’t expecting.

It was easy to read and I enjoyed the dialogue, it was realistic and seemed to capture the era the book was set in.  It had a very ‘British’ feel to it all round.

I shall look forward to reading the following two books in the series.

Pam has her own author’s site here and is on Facebook & Twitter PamHowes1

An Audience with an Author … Elle Amberley

It was on the cards, a novel based in Paris, inspired by a life-changing experience and a long love story with France.

France and I go back a long way. My parents moved a lot when I was a child and it was one of the many countries we lived in. Even when we didn’t, no summer went by without a long spell somewhere in France.

I speak fluent French, even after many years without uttering a single word of it. I blame all the classic and not so classics I read from an early age. I was at liberty to raid the local libraries and no one batted an eyelid when I borrowed novels which perhaps were not entirely suitable to my young years. But this was France, much more laid back. It never did me any harm.

Life has a habit of throwing you little miracles, you think you’ve survived and seen the worst and then, you know, tragedy strikes. Well, it did to me anyway, at a time when I almost lost my will to live. This is the inspiration behind this book, how a coincidence, a reminder from a past long buried, brought back my “joie de vivre.”

Of course, I was already fighting back, thanks to two little blonde heads but it was a long and painful process. Until I was reminded of who I was by getting in touch with the inner child in me.

What about Natasha? Is she a fighter, or is this one battle too many? Can she keep saying no the handsome French rock star? She tells him it’s impossible. “Impossible is not a French word,” he counters back. Ah, she’d forgotten this old saying.

LOST IN YOUR TIME  (28th March)

Blurb

Ah, the dangers of the internet! We’ve all been warned, but do we take notice?

When Natasha clicks on a link, her whole life is turned upside down. A flash from the past, a chance meeting with a gorgeous French rock star…

A chance to start over and forget the pain and misery from the last two years.

But can Natasha let go? Will she accept this new twist in her life?

Will she regain her “joie de vivre”? Or will the sparks fizzle out?

Bio

A prolific author, Elle Amberley writes Women’s Fiction, Literary, poetry, short stories and features.

Elle’s particular strength is writing positive stories with a strong theme of being lost and finding yourself again. Although she broaches difficult subjects in her novels, the characters turn out to be fighters, not victims. Every emotion is conveyed and her style has been described as “lyrical” and appeals to a wide age group, which is a rarity.

Having overcome many obstacles in her life, including a very difficult childhood, she chose to reconstruct her life. Rather than writing a memoir like many abuse victims she prefers to marry fiction with some of her own experiences.

Cover blurb, courtesy of Jae De Wylde, author of The Thinking Tank.

Rock star or husband – which would you choose?

Elle’s chatty and engaging style invites us in to share Nat’s thoughts and feelings as she comes to terms with another of life’s twists. Will she choose happiness or duty? Or are they one and the same?

Links

Elle Amberley Author

Elle Amberley Facebook

Elle Amberley Twitter

Elle Amberley Amazon UK

Goodreads profile>

Mood boards for my novels>

 

 

See You At The Show – Michelle Betham

Stevie Stone is a tatooed, straight talking, girl-roadie with the highly successful American rock group, Black Rock Diamond.  In a world dominated by men, she can hold her own and gives as good as she gets.  Stevie is also involved in an open and ambiguous relationship with front man Mark Cassidy – which pivots around the physical relationship they have and the fact that, no matter what, they always gravitate back to each other.    However, when things are bad between the two and Mark is hooking up with one groupie or another, Stevie runs to Black Rock Diamond’s guitarist, Johnny Jackson,  for comfort, reassurance and a certain amount of retaliation towards Mark.  An arrangement that is accepted by everyone it seems.

Life for Stevie and the band jogs along in its usual yet complicated way until politician Daniel Madison turns up and is completely captivated by Stevie.  Is there any possible way a prominent MP could become involved with someone such as Stevie without committing political suicide?  Not only that, but what’s in it for Stevie?  Is this where she can find true love or will it be thwarted by others?  Their two worlds are about as far apart as can possibly be.  How can they fit into each other’s lives?  Who will have to give up the most?  Will past lives and secrets stay that way or will they come back to haunt everyone involved?

This is the third rock themed romance I’ve read recently and each one has been very different; See You At The Show falling on the more edgy side of the romance spectrum.  I enjoyed reading it and, for me, the story really took off at the half way mark when the stakes were raised and with the tension building, I really didn’t know which way the story line was going.   At times I was  cheering Mark on, other times championing Johnny’s corner and then still finding myself urging Daniel on – no wonder Stevie was confused, I certainly couldn’t make my mind up what she should do!

See You At The Show check list

Attitude?  Tick.    Realistic dialogue?  Tick.    Edgy? Tick.     Hot?  Tick.     Fun read?  Tick

Author Michelle Betham is on Twitter, Facebook and has her own blog

Michelle is also a member of the Famous Five Plus indie author group

Michelle has also written ‘Too Much Trouble In Paradise’ and ‘No Matter What’ – all her novels are available on Amazon

An Audience with an Author….. Mandy Baggot chats about the music behind Strings Attached

A very warm welcome to author of Strings Attached, Mandy Baggot!

The hero of Strings Attached is the gorgeous musician Quinn Blake and with a fab suggested playlist ranging from The Gypsy Kings to Billy Idol, I took the opportunity to ask Mandy some questions about Strings Attached and how the playlist related to the book.

Where did the idea come from for Strings Attached?

Wow! That’s a hard question! I can’t really answer it properly because it will give away secrets from the plot! I always start off with my characters and they often dictate what happens in the story – this novel will hopefully pull readers in lots of different directions. Strings Attached is still a story with lots of humour but it’s also full of emotion – all sorts of emotions – and I hope readers will find it a total reading experience. If I’ve written it right it should make them laugh out loud and cry – maybe even at the same time!

Is Quinn based on a particular musician?

No! Quinn is very much his own man! When I draw characters I will know how tall they are, their colouring and build but they always have blank faces! I know that sounds weird, but they are rarely associated with anyone and I never tend to describe them too heavily because I think the readers should be able to imagine those finer details themselves. Quinn has blue eyes though and a chiselled jaw and short brown hair and…well he’s very hot!

Did you already know which songs you wanted to associate with Strings Attached?

As Quinn is a musician I wanted him to have a ‘sound’ – I needed to know what type and style of music he played. His songs are strong and well written, leaning towards rock but with surprising classical influences. For me his music is ‘The Goo Goo Dolls’. Because of Quinn’s sound and George’s love of classic rock (AC/DC, Billy Idol, Guns ‘n’ Roses etc.) the music I listened to whilst writing was mostly rock based. Although Marisa (George’s 17 year old pop culture expert and catering assistant) loves a bit of The Black Eyed Peas and Beyoncé so there is some of that in there too!

Did the playlist change as the novel was written?

Yes, simply because the action in the novel moves to Spain. Whilst writing those sections it would have been wrong not to involve The Gipsy Kings, Santana, Enrique etc! Not forgetting the much loved Sisqo and his Thong Song! I want readers to feel that Spanish sun and the passion as it hots up.

Which is your favourite song from the playlist?

ARGH!! Are you going to make me choose one? I like them all! OK – choosing one – White Wedding by Billy Idol.

If you could embark on a love affair with a musician, who would it be?

That’s an easy one! I have had a long musical affair with Bryan Adams, starting when my Dad used to play me his music. I can’t remember how many times I have seen him play live and he is an amazing singer/songwriter/musician. In fact I am going to see him again in December at Bournemouth and Bryan, if you’re reading this, I think its high time you picked me from the audience to sing ‘When You’re Gone’ with you!! I could do a You Tube audition if you like!

Quinn played in Basingstoke, Manchester and Glasgow.  Have you ever visited these places or been to any concerts at these venues?

I’ve been toBasingstokebut not to The Anvil (the main concert venue there). TheBasingstokevenue in Strings Attached is called The Hexagon and is fictional. I set it inBasingstokesimply because I needed Quinn to play at a smaller venue on his tour to create the more informal setting for the after-show party where he meets George. I’m really ashamed to admit I’ve not been toManchesterorGlasgow! I must remedy this – perhaps Bryan Adams might invite me on his tour bus! No Mandy, now he thinks you’re a stalker style groupie!

You’ve had some fame on You Tube with your versions of Adele and Lady Gaga – were you nervous?  Could you play to sell out crowds like Quinn?

Believe me when you’ve auditioned in the Millennium Stadium for The X Factor and been on ITV1’s Who Dares Sings (with Denise Van Outen and Ben Shepherd), singing on You Tube is as easy as doing the weekly shop in Tesco! I don’t get nervous at all anymore, but that’s just because I’ve done karaoke and stage performances so much, its now like second nature. I have the same love for singing that I do for writing and I sing for a local vocal group, Raise the Roof. I find singing with a group really challenging because you can’t just go off and do your own thing like you might when you’re singing solo – you have to listen to each other and work as a team – sometimes Lady Baggot finds that quite hard!! As for the sell out crowds – if they want to listen to me I’ll sing for them!!

Which song do you think best sums up Strings Attached, which one Quinn and which one George and why? 

For Quinn it has to be ‘Light On’ by David Cook.  The lyrics are all about someone leaving and telling the person left behind to leave a light on so they don’t feel so alone.  I can imagine Quinn singing this for George.

For George it is Whitesnake’s ‘Is This Love?’.  This song has been important to George in the past and also, she s always questioning how she really feels about relationships and wants to be sure before she commits to anything new.  I can’t tell you any more – you’ll have to read the book!!

Thank you Mandy, I really enjoyed reading Strings Attached and wish you every success with it.

Mandy is on Twitter and has her own blog www.mandybaggot.webs.com


Strings Attached – Mandy Baggot

Tomboy George Fraser owns her own successful catering company Finger Foods which is running along nicely, as is her uncomplicated lifestyle, that is until she is offered the job of a lifetime – catering for the after show parties for Rock God Quinn Blake.  This is not only a turning point in her professional career but a massive turning point for her private life too.

The sensible, cultivated and pragmatic side of George tells her not to become involved with Quinn but her heart, the person she has suppressed for so long, is telling her she just can’t let him go and it seems that Quinn feels the same too.  The tussle of conscience about what they want to do and what they should do begins but with so many secrets involved on both sides can they ever find happiness?

Strings Attached moves at a good pace and although is told mostly from George’s point of view, we do get a look into the mind of Quinn too.  Getting two sides to the story is something I personally really enjoy.  The plot has been very well thought out with twists and turns and gradual revelations allowing the reader to get to know and understand the reasons behind the thoughts and actions of George and Quinn, not only how they relate to each other but how they relate to those around them.

The tension and chemistry between George and Quinn nearly frazzles the pages as you turn them but there are also moments of tenderness which really draw you in.  There is a good supporting cast of believable characters, each of them used purposefully with a point in the plot rather than being there just to make up the numbers.

I really enjoyed reading Strings Attached and personally think it is Mandy’s best book yet.  Mandy will be a visiting my blog next week, 11 November where I chat to her about the music behind the story.

Mandy is on Twitter and has her own blog spot www.mandybaggot.webs.com

An Audience with an Author

An Audience with an Author welcomes Nicky Wells, author of Sophie’s Turn

Sophie’s Turn is your first published novel, did it take long to write?

 That’s an interesting question.  It took me a few weeks to plan… I’d say, between two and four depending on how you interpret planning versus writing.  Then I wrote the entire first draft in about three months.  Birth of baby number one was a bit of an immovable deadline, and I definitely wanted it all done before then!  Then of course there were a few re-writes which took maybe a week here and there.  So all in all, I think writing Sophie’s Turn probably took the best part of six months.  That said, because of my family circumstances (and another baby coming along), the novel had a long time to ‘mature’ (read:  linger on the shelf…) and I had the benefit of reading it ‘fresh’, almost as though I was a genuine reader, having not touched it for a few years at a time.  That helped:  but that’s also almost impossible to build into any writing plan.

 Do you have a set place & time to write?

 Sophie’s Turn was written in what is now the boys’ playroom.  My new writing space is a tiny little Ikea desk tucked into the corner of the dining room.  However, I have also taken to moving around the house with the laptop, so I will quite often type on the sofa in the lounge, at the dining room table proper (rather than the dinky desk) and, very occasionally, even in bed.  Before children, I was a bit of a night owl and would prefer working late in the afternoon and into the night.  Now, I don’t have that luxury and my writing time is strictly confined to school hours when the boys are out of my hair.

 You have a young family, where do you find the time and energy?

 I mentioned the time constraints above… finding the energy, that’s an interesting one.  I think of myself as a one-trick-pony (i.e. can only ever do one thing well at any one time) and I also think of myself as perennially worn out.  Yet somehow it all gets done!  I’ve discovered that for me, the most important thing is not to dwell on how busy or tired I am, but to make a plan, portion my work, and stick to it.  As long as I keep going, I’m fine… And, of course, I do consume way too much chocolate!

 Did you design your cover for Sophie’s Turn? Was it easy to come up with a design idea?

 Actually it was my husband who designed the cover!  Pretty much on the eve of publishing, Sophie’s Turn was still called ‘Full Circle’and I had set aside some time to take some artistic photos involving champagne flutes and strings of pearls.  Alas, what a disaster!  My husband is a very calm and steady person, bless him, and he sat me down and made me talk it all through.  I started scribbling away on a piece of paper, but I’m a lousy cartoonist and couldn’t make anything look right.  Eventually we came up with the idea of a choice, or turning point:  hence the sign post.  My artist-in-residence then took the time to draw the idea out meticulously (using the children’s gel tips!) and added grass and the little flower and the butterfly at my suggestion.  He cut it all out and made a collage onto pink paper.  Chick lit… it had to be pink, right?  Unfortunately the image didn’t really go with the title, so ‘Full Circle’ had to go!  Another hour of tearing my hair out, and the title ‘Sophie’s Turn’ was conceived.  (Good job, too…it’s a much better title, I think!)  Chief designer next created the writing and cut-and-collaged all of that as well.  I wouldn’t have the skill or the patience, but I was thrilled to see it all come to life in his hands.  I’m chuffed to bits with it!  So here’s to my husband:  Thank You!

Did Sophie’s Turn end up as you originally envisaged or did it change as you wrote?

 A little bit of both!  Owing to several iterations of planning, I had the story line very much clear in my head before I started typing.  However, these pesky characters developed a habit of taking wrong turns, inventing new events, or creating problems or diversions that I had not anticipated.  That was actually a very interesting process because at times I felt like I was reading the book while I was writing it.  From previous experience, I know that those are also the incidents that can totally derail the writing process and plot, so it was very useful to have a plan to rein things in again before they spun out of control.

Sophie’s Turn could have had more than one ending, I know I was surprised at the end, was it difficult to decide which way to take the story?

 Ah!  That’s a brilliant question.  Let me put it this way without giving too much away.  There were at least three possible, credible outcomes.  (I did make up a few more to start with but they were really too far-fetched).  I knew what I really wanted Sophie to do, and what would have wanted to have happened to me, had I been in her position.  However, I just couldn’t take the novel there.  I tried, briefly, but it was all very unsatisfactory.  So in the end it was down to Sophie to decide.  That scene in her hotel room in Paris when she sees herself at the crossroads… that was all real thought, that was me typing away furiously as I was assessing her options.  (And also another incident where the book took on a bit of a life of its own).  The outcome made us both happy (although I did shed a few tears).

Did you do any particular research for the rock group Tusk in Sophie’s Turn?

I’m afraid to admit that I didn’t.  But then I didn’t need to, I had years of teenage star-struckness to draw on, a vast repository of knowledge about several rock bands, experience of going to concerts, knowledge (from teenage and music magazines) of the touring process… Films like ABBA: The MovieThis is Spinal Tap and Rock Star also offered some helpful insights.  And I just may or may not have met the odd band here or there, once or twice.

Is Dan based on a particular rock star?

Dan is the amalgamation of many lead-singers.  Plus he incorporates some of the best (and worst) traits of people I know, have heard of, or read about.  He is a true bona fide made-up-but-hopefully-still-credible rock idol.  J

Sophie has to make some difficult decisions – did you find it easy to make the choices for her?

 Not always.  As I mentioned above, some of her choices were mine, and were choices I would make.  These were the easy ones.  Some other things she does and does not do gave me a real headache.  I don’t think I would have had the gumption to tell the man of I’m dreams I was a virgin (even though I wasn’t); I don’t think I would have had the courage to accompany Dan to the Royal (or his suite); and I think I would have been too blinded to make her choice.  But this was all nail-biting stuff for me…

Without giving too much away, what is your favourite scene in Sophie’s Turn?

I have a few, actually.  The prologue is one: the sense of absolute heady elation and disbelief, the out-of-body wonderment of ‘if this really happening?’  That makes me feel good every time.  Next, it makes me smile when Rachel and Sophie have their morning pow-wow in the coffee shop and Sophie shouts out about s.e.x rather too loudly.  And I’m still quite in love with the scene where Dan has to hide in a cupboard… And lastly, see the featured excerpt below!

Is Sophie anything like you or are you more like her best friend Rachel?

Sophie probably reflects my dreamy side, the one that yearns for a fairy tale ending.  But I can also be sarcastic and cutting, like Rachel; not something I’m immensely proud of but that can be very necessary.  Yet it is Rachel who sets Sophie straight on matters of true love and thunderbolt-and-lightning… again, that would be me.  So perhaps it’s fair to say that they distill, each in their own way, aspects of my own character.  If that’s not too scary a notion!

Will we be hearing from Sophie in the future?

Oh definitely!  The sequel is a work in progress.  I have just finished working on the plans for the story line and have to fine tune a few details.  Hopefully I can start to write some time in late September and then it’ll have to take as long as it takes.  I’d like to bring the sequel out within the year, but that depends obviously on how much time I can scrounge for writing, letting the novel rest, editing it… and all the back-end goings-on before you publish.

And yes, Dan will feature alongside Sophie again.  Rachel will have a much bigger, somewhat surprising and not always easy role to play, so watch out for a few surprises!

Author’s Book Shelf

What is your favourite book you have read?

Which one to pick?  I read so much and have so many favourites!  Catherine Alliott’s The Old-Girl Network was the first chick lit novel I ever read, and I remember laughing out loud.  That continues to be one of my favourites… The Eight by Katherine Neville is a fantastic book, and so is Ghostwritten by David Mitchell.

 What book would you like to read but haven’t yet?

 The collected works of Shakespeare.

What book should you have read but haven’t?

The collected works of Shakespeare.  I mean that!  I’ve only read Macbeth in school (in Germany).  How can I see my kids through school with any more knowledge of the Great Bard?  So, it’s on my TBR.

If you would like to read an excerpt from Sophie’s Turn please see previous post by using link at top of this page

 BUY SOPHIE’S TURN HERE