Thursday 26 December 2013

Cold Nights, Hot Bodies by Lily Harlem

My Costwold based Christmas novel, Cold Nights, Hot Bodies is sure to burn up the pages of your new ereader and wow, isn't Shane just divine! Sexy armpits make me all aquiver and my cover artist sure knows my weakness!

And it's not just the cover that is attractive, so is the price! For a limited time only Cold Nights, Hot Bodies is just 99c at Ellora's Cave and All Romance eBooks, and 60c/37p on Amazon / Amazon UK

All my life I’ve been the quiet bookworm, the office mouse. It hasn’t bothered me. Immersing myself in erotic novels has kept me wriggling on the edge of my seat at work and firmly entrenched in my own fantasy world at night.

Though one thing is bothering me—my damn virginity. If only I could find a sexy bedroom expert to introduce me to the delights of having a lover. Someone handsome and charming, who can rival the hunky alpha males in my books. I have a very vivid, very well-fed imagination—he’ll have to keep up.

Then, one bitterly cold night, thanks to a devious, conniving, so-called friend, the perfect opportunity to rid myself of this pesky virginity problem comes along. Before I know it, the heroes in my novels have come alive in the person of Shane Galloway, who’s pleasuring me with every trick in the book and wheedling into my heart in the hottest ways possible.

In this excerpt Shane and Ashley have just made their way back from the pub to their hotel. Trudging through the snow hasn't chilled their desires or frozen their lust for each other, they're hotter than ever and even thrown a sprinkle of kink into the mix...

The trudge back was swifter than the journey to the pub. We were all conscious of getting caught in the dark, but fortunately it wasn’t long before we spotted the welcoming golden lights of The Fenchurch in the distance.
We bid Rachel and Jeremy goodbye in the lobby—they had plans to go and listen to a pianist in the Champagne Lounge—and took the elevator to our suite.
As soon as the large brass doors of the elevator slid shut, Shane dragged me up against his body. “I got harder with every step we took on the way back,” he whispered onto my lips. “The thought of another night with you is driving me insane. I can’t believe I got so lucky.”
Wrapping my arms around his waist, I pulled him closer. He was right, he was hard. Very hard.
“You want to play a game?” I asked. All the way back a thought had been nagging away at me. Shane’s enjoyment of Stolen and Seduced had my mind racing with possibilities. There was something I needed to ask him while I had the courage of wine and felt so sublimely close to him.
“Only if it involves playing with you,” he said, grinning. “It does.”
He cocked his head. “Go on.”
I glanced at the lift numbers and the small upward arrow flashing. Could I really suggest it?
“Honey, tell me.”
I swallowed and looked up into his face. “You’ve got me curious,” he said.
I dragged in a deep breath. I wasn’t sure how he would take my suggestion but I hoped with all my heart it would appeal to him. “You know that book you read last night on my laptop?”
“Well, it’s one of my favorites and I wondered...” I paused. Would he think I was weirdly kinky or worse, completely freaky?
His voice lowered and his eyelids dropped slightly. “And you wondered if I fancied a little role-play?” His tone held a note of disbelief but also interest, and he’d certainly hit the nail on the head as to what I was suggesting.
My gaze snapped to his. “Yes.”
“Oh, Ashley, I don’t know if I’m ever going to be the same again after meeting you.” He pulled me a little tighter. “You’re a dream come true.”
“Is that a yes?”
“Hell, yeah, the thought of you tied up like Eliza and your pleasure completely under my control is a massive turn-on. But are you sure? You only lost your virginity last night. I’d hate to scare you or do something you weren’t comfortable with.”
“Of course I’m sure or I wouldn’t have suggested it. And as for having just lost my virginity, hell, I’m twenty-three, I figure I have a few years of sex to make up for.”
The doors slid open and we stepped out into the fortunately deserted hallway. I would have died if anyone from Safe as Houses had heard that last sentence.
“Well, in that case, be prepared to be ‘stolen and seduced’, little lady,” he whispered hotly into my ear. “But anything you really don’t like, or if you want me to stop then just say,” he paused, “Paddington Bear.”
“Paddington Bear?”
“Yes, then I’ll know that you mean it and you’re not just getting into the role of Eliza and begging to be freed even when you don’t want to be.”
Paddington Bear. Okay.
I slid the keycard into our door and shoved it open. The room had been cleaned and smelled of polish. There was one dim lamp on in the living area.
“Go into the bathroom,” Shane said, slipping out of his coat and throwing it over the back of the sofa. “And when you come out Hest will be waiting.” He sat down and tugged off his wellington boots.
Heart fluttering, I quickly slipped out of my boots, nipped through the bedroom and into the en suite. With the door shut I leaned back against the wood. The bathrobes folded around my shoulders in a soft embrace. I felt giddy with anticipation, high with excitement. Oh my god! What had I asked for? And far from being shocked by my request, Shane had been up for it immediately. This was something I’d always dreamed of, being the heroine in one of my books—and now it was about to be realized.
Maybe I should have chosen a less dangerous scene. The one from The Millionaire’s Bride would have been less wild and not at all kinky. But Shane hadn’t read that one, he’d read, and enjoyed, Stolen and Seduced. Clearly fate had brought that scenario upon us and now there was nothing to do but enjoy.
Hastily, I brushed my teeth, staring all the time at my reflection. Once again there was something different about me, not just my rosy cheeks and windblown hair, but a hunger in my eyes, a longing, and a need that demanded to be satisfied buzzed between my legs and made my breasts heavy. Sex and getting naked with Shane was all I could think of.
I finished freshening up and slowly opened the door. The bedroom was in complete darkness. It was so black that when I clicked the bathroom light off I couldn’t even see my hand in front of my face.
Taking a tentative step onto the carpet, my heart thudded. I struggled to catch my breath. The thrill of handing over this fantasy to Shane was off-the-Richter-scale sexy.
When will he grab me?
Will he be gentle and sweet or will he launch into the rough-and-tough role of Hest?
Walking farther into the room, slowly and hesitantly, I waited either to be captured or to bump my shins into furniture. I reached for something to feel my way around and blinked in the velvety blackness.
Suddenly a big palm clamped over my mouth and my head was pulled back into the solid muscle of a shoulder.
I yelped in shock but the sound was muffled.
“Keep quiet, Miss Winters, if you value your life!”
Something with an unnervingly metallic coolness pressed against my jugular, it slipped downward then around my neck, leaving a sharp trail of sensation.
My whole body froze, except for my heart rate, which rocketed. Surely Shane wouldn’t use a knife for our game? It was what Hest had used but...
He must have sensed my real fear, for the sharpness lifted and I heard a double click. The “weapon” was a ball-point pen.
The pen was back at my neck and his hot mouth by my ear. When he spoke, his voice was low and dangerous. It was easy to imagine in the darkness that it was Hest with a razor-sharp knife holding me tight.
“You’ve teased me for too long, Eliza. Made me want you until I was crazy with it and then you tossed me away. Do you really think you can do that with a man like me? Do you? Really?”
He moved his hand from my mouth and I slipped happily into role. “Hest, get off me. What the hell do you think you’re doing?” I started to spin away but he clasped me to his body. His erection prodded at the small of my back and his arm became a tight band of granite around me. The pen flattened widthways over the lump in my throat.
“Oh, no, you don’t, I have plans for you. Plans to make you mine, forever.”
My excitement threatened to bubble over and my knees turned jelly-like. He even sounded like Hest and I swear his words were exactly the same as the book. Did he have a photographic memory or something?
“You can’t do this, my father will be out searching for me, no expense will be spared. Hotel security will see us.”
He laughed and lifted me as though I was no weight at all. As my feet left the floor, he began to stride forward, all the time speaking huskily into my ear. “No one will find you, Eliza, I’ve made sure we won’t be seen, and besides, who would expect you to be held in the very place you were taken from? What kind of gangster would stay at The Plaza?”
I wriggled within his grip the way Eliza did in the story. Writhing and flailing. Fighting to be free. But it was no good, his hold was strong and firm and the more I tried to escape the tighter he held me. The pleasure of him increasing his grip urged me on with my squirming.
Suddenly, unexpectedly, he dropped me backward, fast. Luckily, I landed on the bed. Air whooshed from my lungs and immediately I scrabbled to the opposite side, enjoying the chase but knowing I wouldn’t get away. And, of course, not wanting to get away .
“Oh, no, you don’t.” His full weight was over me, his hands roaming fast and wild, pulling and dragging at my clothes. “You can’t escape, and soon you won’t want to. Soon you’ll come to realize only I can give you what you need, Eliza, and you will admit it’s me that you love, only me, for all of time.”

Praise for Cold Nights, Hot Bodies

"This is a great, quick, easy, sexy, lovable book by Lily Harlem! I highly recommend this to anyone. Loved it!"

"If you are looking for a cute read with lots of great sex and a HEA than this is the book for you!"

"I love this author. Her characters are always so real. This was truly a great story. It was a story about Ashley's emerging sexuality and Individualism as well as Shane getting over the break up of his marriage. Both have what the other desperately needs. The exchange of sexual tension and trust is wonderfully written. Bravo again to Lily Harlem!"

"Hot, sweet, romantic, steamy are just a few of the words I would use to describe this story."

Wednesday 18 December 2013

Io, Saturnalia! - plus a new excerpt from 'Flavia's Secret'

It may not have been Christmas exactly, but the ancient Roman Saturnalia (17th-23rd. December) was certainly an opportunity for feasting and gift-giving. Over the years, this time of merry-making, sacrifices and gift-giving expanded to a week and the poet Catullus - who knew a thing or two about parties - called it 'the best of days'.

In many ways this ancient festival was rather like Christmas:

Schools were on holiday.

Gambling was allowed.

Shopping at special markets was encouraged.

Holiday clothes were worn - the informal, colourful 'dining clothes' instead of the plain, bulky toga.

Presents were given - parrots, wax candles, dice, combs, perfumes, little pottery dolls.

Feasting was indulged, with Saturn himself in charge as Lord of Misrule.

People wished each other a merry Saturnalia with the evocation, 'io Saturnalia!' ('Yo Saturnalia!')

My ancient Roman historical romance Flavia's Secret has its climax and ending during the Saturnalia.

The Pompeiian partygoers in the picture come from the BBC's Ancient Rome pages.

Here is an excerpt from Flavia's Secret. Flavia is in ancient Roman Bath, Aqaue Sulis, shopping for last-minute items needed for the Saturnalia.


Flavia was as quick as she could be but there were queues everywhere in the food shops and spice and trinket stalls as slaves and even citizens shopped for last minute items for the Saturnalia. It was the first time she had been in the city this close to the festival. In other years, Lady Valeria had given her people small gifts of pickled fish and nuts but had otherwise ignored the Saturnalia, insisting that her servants remain indoors and serve her, rather than follow the tradition that at the Saturnalia the household slaves for one day at least were waited on by their masters.

‘The Saturnalia is a rowdy, vulgar, drunken festival, little more than an orgy,’ Lady Valeria had complained. ‘I will have no part of it in my house.’

Her words may have been true, but as the morning progressed, Flavia saw little to alarm her. The people in these snowy streets were intent on their money or goods. A few roughly-dressed men were crouched over gaming tables and she passed a group of giggling young slave girls, all waving napkins given to them as presents, but there was no sign of drunkenness or of wild orgies. Many workshops were shuttered and closed and houses the same. There was a distant grumble of noise coming from the theatre, close to the great bathing complex, but no raised voices.

Unsure whether to be glad or disappointed, Flavia swapped her basket from one arm to the other and sped on through the slushy snow. She longed to stay and find some gifts for Gaius and the others - especially for Marcus, her heart whispered - but she still had not enough money of her own. With a sigh, her final purchase haggled for and bought, she turned to make her way home, avoiding the wine shops and taverns and drawing her shawl over her blonde hair each time she crossed a busy street.

She was close to the blank front entrance of the deserted villa where she had taken Marcus to see the secret garden and pool when she heard the sounds of flutes and drums approaching from a narrow, snow-filled alleyway.

‘Ow!’ She put a hand to her ear, which had just begun to sting. A small apple lay at her feet in the snow and as she stared at it, she realized  that it must have been thrown down at her from the upper living quarters over one of the shuttered shops.

‘To Saturnalia!’ roared a good-natured male voice overhead. More small apples and nuts and then a cluster of sweetmeats rained down on Flavia and others in the street. People scrambled on hands and knees to pick up the fruit and other foods, while the racket of the flutes and drums drew nearer.

A prickle of alarm, cold as an icicle, shot down the length of Flavia’s back. Trusting her instincts, honed by years of slavery, she flattened herself into the nearest shadowy doorway, glad of her inconspicuous brown gown as she veiled her face with one end of the shawl. Scarcely breathing, she waited for this parade to go by.

They were all men. At least a score of brightly-dressed young men, several puffing cheerfully on long flutes or banging on drums and all with the rich, sleek look of Roman aristocrats and the free-born. These were revelers: quite a few clutched jugs of beer or wine which they carelessly drank from. Flavia prayed they would not notice her.

The last stragglers swayed past her hiding place. One, stumbling in the snow with heavy deliberateness, dropped to his knees close to where she was. He did not see her, but his two friends, slithering over the slush and ice to haul him up, spotted the small, wary figure in the shadows and shouted.

 ‘Hey, girl, join us!’

‘Let me give you something,’ the second leered, making a crude gesture with his hand.

Flavia darted away before the two men trapped her in the doorway.

‘Hey, come back!’

‘Party time!’

‘We have the wine and you are the orgy!’

Backing along the street, Flavia heard an ominous silence descend among the flute players and drummers. Walking as rapidly as she could in a clumsy, sideways fashion, she did not speak, or run. She did not want to provoke them.

Under her fear, her mind was still working. If she could only reach the crossroads, she would take the short-cut down the street of the fullers and make for the shrine of the goddess Sulis at the Roman baths. She was Christian but these men were pagans. Surely they would respect their own sacred place? Surely the goddess would protect her?

None of the other bystanders or shoppers raised a word against the rich, spoilt Romans. Flavia knew she was alone and would have to deal with them herself. She thought of Marcus, going into battle, facing down his enemies. He had not turned and run, and she would not.

One step after another, she edged along the twisting, foul-smelling street of the fullers, who today at least were not laboring over their vats of washing.

‘Hey, she is leaving us!’

‘Going away, the stuck-up -’

Flavia closed her ears and tightened her grip on her basket. She could see the flute players and drummers returning to join their more drunk companions, see them pointing at her, muttering among themselves.
But I am going to make it, she thought desperately, just as the hue and cry began:

‘Get her!’

‘Run her down!’

‘We need no toga girls if we grab her!’

‘Why pay for pleasure when we can have it for free?’

‘Get her!’

Flavia was already running, pelting along the street as if there was no snow underfoot, losing things out of her basket and not caring what they were. Panting, her vision beginning to double as she sprinted at the very limit of her speed, she fixed on the temple of the goddess Sulis and fled her leaden-footed, cursing pursers.

‘Come here, you -’

Behind her, a coarse hand grabbed at her shawl. She tore it away, escaping again, and passed bare-headed into the temple precinct of the shrine and bathing complex where she collapsed, sobbing but safe, against one of the many smoking altars.

Flavia's Secret - an ebook, print and audo book. 

Happy Saturnalia!

Sunday 15 December 2013

A GIFT FROM THE STARS, My Latest Regency Comedy--with SciFi Yet!

My latest Regency romance, A Gift from the Stars, is now available.

A Gift from the Stars , Book 1 of The Regency Star Travelers, is a sweet, traditional Regency romance with science fiction elements, 71,000 words.

The Regency Star Travelers--Where the Regency and outer space meet with romance.


A gift from the stars can change your life.

Miss Elizabeth Ashby loves astronomy. She especially enjoys her once-in-a-lifetime chance to observe the Great Comet of 1811. However, her excitement vanishes the night an odd-looking meteor proves to be a sky craft which lands nearby. The man who emerges from the vehicle doesn’t see her, but as he reenters his craft to fly away, he drops a small red stone.

The stone from the stars glows and sends waves of warmth and something else through Elizabeth. Her incipient cold disappears, her illness-prone mother shakes off her maladies, and everyone else who comes near the stone, which Elizabeth wears as a pendant, feels in the pink of health.

Including Mr. Jonathan Markham, who also saw the strange meteor but was too far away to determine what the object was. Gored by a bull, Jon has been slow to mend until he meets the enchanting Elizabeth. Does his sudden speedy recovery emanate from his fascination with the desirable lady? Or something else?

A sweet, traditional Regency romance novel with science fiction elements. 71,000 words. A clean read.


Lower and lower the shooting star descended, much too slowly to Elizabeth’s way of thinking. From the angle and rate of its motion, the object would likely strike the earth close by. If she could distinguish some landmarks by its glow, perhaps she could find the stone.

She craned her neck back as the meteor soared across the firmament. The unearthly rock blazed with the colors of the rainbow from friction with the air. 

Coldness pricked her spine. A meteor that enormous should race through the heavens, shrieking in outrage as its surface pounded through the atmosphere. This one was silent. And the stone—or was it a stone?—sloped down in a leisurely, graceful curve, as gently as a feather floating in a light breeze.

With eerie stillness, the object continued its glide across the ebony sky, looming ever immense as its bulk neared the ground.

She could even make out features. In her experience, meteors were dark, pitted lumps of rock or metal. This one was white, its pointed nose flaring out behind to form a stretched-out triangle, almost like a bird with unfurled wings.

And its size! Her heart in her throat, she jumped up. The thing was larger than a mail coach. And it would fall onto Sentinel Moor beside her house!

Continually slowing, the peculiar entity descended. The object slipped below the level of the high Sentinel Oak across the field, and then behind the top of the six-foot hawthorn hedge separating her garden from the meadow.

Elizabeth took a step to run around the tall shrub. Blinding whiteness exploded on the moor. She threw up her hands to shield her eyes and then tumbled to the ground.

Available at Amazon, Amazon UK, Barnes and Noble , Smashwords, Sony, Kobo, and Apple. Note, all formats are available on Smashwords.

Thank you all,
Linda Banche
Welcome to My World of Historical Hilarity

Wednesday 11 December 2013

Lynne King: 'Chained Reaction'

My recent lunchbox read, titled Chained Reaction, has now been published with three other poignant short stories in a Christmas anthology, THE GIFT OF A WISH.

Here’s a little of what my story entails:


Five years ago, a prison sentence took away Jamie and Lucy’s happy ever after. Today they’ll start getting it back.


Jamieson O'Sullivan had a reputation for being wild and reckless so when he is sent to prison for five years, it came as no great surprise. To Lucy, his girlfriend, the effect it had on her was devastating.
Now he is out and ringing her at the home of his cousin, Michael, the man she is now living with. This is the first time they have been in contact as Jamie cut her and all friends and family out of his life on the day of sentencing.
Hearing his voice has her fleeing to meet him because despite his betrayal of their love, Lucy has never stopped loving him.
For Jamie, prison took away his freedom and Lucy. He couldn't have one without the other and that still counts when he is released. Prison has matured him. This time he needs her to know how he feels but before he can do this, the events of the past have to be confronted.

Find out more about this and my other published novels by visiting

Saturday 7 December 2013

On sale for 77p - How Do You Spell Love?

My novel How Do You Spell Love? is on sale between Dec 7th and 14th, meaning those of you tempted to give it a go can grab an ebook copy for just 77p!

Here's the info on the book...

Kat can’t help wishing there was more to life than this. What happened to her dream job? What happened with Nathan?

Summer is wondering where her life is going too… battling the developers of a controversial housing estate and working out why boyfriend Rob is increasingly distant.

When the developers win the battle and move into town everyone’s life is turned upside down.

Kat meets building site project manager Alex. She enjoys his company far too much, even though he’s on the town’s most hated list.

Summer meets Tom who has plenty of relationship troubles of his own.

Soon everyone is keeping secrets, lives change and hearts are broken. Is everything falling apart, or does life just work in mysterious ways…

Book extract:

Kat pushed the last of the cottage cheese and shrimp sandwiches into the cool box and slammed the van door shut. As if her life wasn’t enough of a disaster zone as it was – no money, lousy job, losing Nathan, having to move back home to live with her parents – now this had to go and happen. 

Cringing as a van full of builders stopped at the nearby traffic lights, Kat braced herself for the inevitable. After the standard-issue wolf whistles had drifted across from their van, next came the leered, “Wouldn’t argue with that, love!” as one of them nodded towards her sparkling clean van, parked neatly at the curb. The words “A Bit of Crumpet on the Road” emblazoned down the side in deep purple, glittery lettering. Not for the first time Kat cursed her boss Janice for calling her bakery-cum-deli by that name.

Kat sighed, well it certainly drew comments from the public and from their customers, not always welcome ones, but as Janice was always keen to point out, any kind of publicity and attention was, in her eyes, good publicity and attention.

Pulling her navy and white striped apron more tightly around her T-shirt and shorts, Kat ignored the builders and climbed into her van to begin that morning’s deliveries. As she indicated to pull out into the busy street in Luisborough, she mulled over the bad news – that she was to add the controversial Netherton Meadows housing development to her daily sandwich round.

Netherton Meadows. Yippee. If Summer found out, she’d surely be ostracised for fraternising with the environmental enemy. This was a development that pretty much everyone in Luisborough had fought against for getting on towards a year. Everyone hated the Netherton Meadows developers. Except, it seemed, Janice, who was perfectly happy to, in her words, ‘supply yummy builders with yummy sandwiches.’

Lost in thought, Kat just managed to spot the approaching traffic lights had turned to red and hastily slammed a foot on the brake. The van lurched to a halt and several boxes of crisps and one of the cool boxes in the back tipped over. Damn. It was shaping up to be one of those days.

Two hours later Kat had visited all her usual drops, was extremely hot and bothered, and could put off going to Netherton Meadows no longer.

Driving through the assorted vans, machinery and portacabins Kat parked next to a building marked as being the Site Office and hit the button on the dashboard. Tinkling chimes filled the air as Kat climbed from the driver’s seat and made to open the back doors of the vehicle. It was embarrassing enough that the van had the company name in large lettering along its side but, just to make sure that it received maximum exposure – and achieved maximum embarrassment – Janice had had some irritating chimes fitted to the vehicle too. Kat was under strict instructions to sound the chimes when she called at all of the sites where people came out to the van; such as they were about to at Netherton Meadows.

A man came down the steps of the office with a grin on his face and walked towards her. “Hi, you must be Kat.” He wedged a clipboard under his left arm and offered a hand to shake. “I’m Alex. Project manager for the site.”

“Hi,” mumbled Kat, spotting a group of hard-hat-clad builders advancing towards her with hungry expressions on their faces.

“Right, lads,” Alex turned towards the men. “This is Kat and she’s very kindly agreed to venture onto this site to bring you all your lunch. Don’t give her any hassle, OK?”

The men laughed and then nodded. “Sure, Alex. You’re the boss.”

Fifteen minutes later it seemed that all of the team at the development had made their sandwich, crisp and drink selections and sloped off to devour them in the sunshine. Only one of the builders, a portly man who must have been twenty years Kat’s senior, had pushed the boundaries a little, despite Alex’s earlier warning. As he’d selected a smoked salmon and cream cheese roll – a choice that had surprised Kat somewhat, having pegged him as a ham and cheese kind of guy – he’d asked Kat if she’d fancy joining him for a drink sometime. She’d politely declined his offer, saying that she had a boyfriend. No need to tell him that, technically, she and Nathan were no longer an item. No need to tell him why either.

Author bio:

Zanna Mackenzie lives in the UK with her husband, 4 dogs, a vegetable patch that’s home to far too many weeds and an ever expanding library of books waiting to be read.

Being a freelance writer and editor of business publications is her ‘day job’ but, at every opportunity, she can be found scribbling down notes on scenes for whatever novel she’s working on. She loves it when the characters in her novels take on minds of their own and start deviating from the original plot!

Formerly a travel agent and therapist (she has qualifications in clinical aromatherapy, crystal healing, naturopathic nutrition and herbalism) she loves walking the dogs and gardening – that’s when she’s not writing or reading!

Zanna has written two published novels, The Love Programme (Astraea Press) and How Do You Spell Love? (Crooked Cat Publishing) and both were published in early 2013. Her next book, If You Only Knew, will be published by Crooked Cat on Feb 7th 2014.

Find out more about Zanna at:

Twitter: @ZannaMacKenzie

Thursday 5 December 2013


My latest Regency romance, A Gift from the Stars, is now available.

A Gift from the Stars , Book 1 of The Regency Star Travelers, is a sweet, traditional Regency romance with science fiction elements, 71,000 words.

The Regency Star Travelers--Where the Regency and outer space meet with romance.


A gift from the stars can change your life.

Miss Elizabeth Ashby loves astronomy. She especially enjoys her once-in-a-lifetime chance to observe the Great Comet of 1811. However, her excitement vanishes the night an odd-looking meteor proves to be a sky craft which lands nearby. The man who emerges from the vehicle doesn’t see her, but as he reenters his craft to fly away, he drops a small red stone.

The stone from the stars glows and sends waves of warmth and something else through Elizabeth. Her incipient cold disappears, her illness-prone mother shakes off her maladies, and everyone else who comes near the stone, which Elizabeth wears as a pendant, feels in the pink of health.

Including Mr. Jonathan Markham, who also saw the strange meteor but was too far away to determine what the object was. Gored by a bull, Jon has been slow to mend until he meets the enchanting Elizabeth. Does his sudden speedy recovery emanate from his fascination with the desirable lady? Or something else?

A sweet, traditional Regency romance novel with science fiction elements. 71,000 words.


To Elizabeth’s right, an ivory moon beam sparkled off a small object. Bending over, she scooped up a polished oval crystal about the size of her thumbnail. A flash of warmth surged through her fingers. Gasping, she jerked back and dropped the stone.

Shivers rocked her entire body. As if this night hadn’t already ripped her view of the universe to shreds, now she found a stone that by all rights should be cold. She wrapped her arms around her waist and concentrated on calming her breaths.

When her shudders finally ceased, she again parted the wet heath to uncover the curious object. Prepared now, she poked the crystal with a tentative finger. Once more, heat rushed through her, but less intensely. The feeling was not unpleasant. With a relieved sigh, she picked up the stone, its warmth a soothing caress along her nerves.

The faceted crystal’s beveled edges gleamed silver in the moon’s rays. What would its color be in daylight? She pressed the stone to her ear. A faint whirring, like the sound the mysterious vessel made, filled her ear.

This crystal looked exactly like the one the man from the sky craft wore. Was it valuable? Would he realize its loss and come back? Should she take it with her or leave it here?

In the distance, a horse neighed. A lone rider emerged from the forest, travelling the Carsington road that ran along the meadow.

The man reined in.

Available at Amazon, Amazon UK, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords. Coming soon to Apple, Kobo and Sony. Note, all formats are available on Smashwords.

Thank you all,
Linda Banche

Tuesday 3 December 2013

Unexpected Xmas is out TODAY!!!

This is my Christmas book, an erotic Regency which is centered around a little known fact of that period which might surprise you. No, I'm not going to tell you what it is...I want you to read the book, naturally.

Here's the blurb:
Blurb for Unexpected Xmas
Stranded in a snowstorm on the way back to her teaching position, Caro Atterby rightly fears the too handsome nobleman who insists on helping her. Three days and unimaginably passionate nights with Sebastian change both their lives. Caro surrenders her body, but not her secrets. So disaster looms when Caro asserts they cannot marry because of her ruined reputation. Sebastian must fight his father, investigate an old tragedy, and convince Caro they can find happiness even if she doesn’t think it possible. 

Sebastian sets out to convince his love, unaware of how disastrous her past will loom, over-shadowing his efforts and perhaps dooming them. Then he finds help in the last place he’d expected. But will it be enough to save a love he knows is crucial for both Caro and himself?
 And here's an excerpt:
And the snow ball fight was on.
Ten minutes later Caro acknowledged defeat.
“If I could I’d hold out longer but I’m exhausted. I don’t think I could pack another snowball. It’s only that you have more strength, my lord, not that you have superior strategy.”
She stood, panting and smiling, and his heart betrayed him once again. His heart and his swollen cock. How he could grow so large with so little encouragement and snow down his shirt and neck he didn’t know.
Why did this one girl have such power over him? Surely it was only because there was no other distractions when they were so isolated.
He smiled a devilish grin.
“Did we set a forfeit for the loser? No, we did not. I therefore claim my winner’s prize.”
There in the snow he took her in his arms and kissed her with the passion that had been building for the last two days. Ever since she’d raised those glorious eyes. Greatcoats, capes, snow coating both their faces and hair, nothing could dim his kiss and her passionate response.
When he could breathe again he did not release his hold on her.
“Caro, do you know where this is going? Do you even begin to know how much I want you? I can’t promise to hold back tonight.”
She was silent even as she snuggled as close to him as she could get.
“Yes, I think I do. It’s not nearly as much as I want you, Sebastian. But if I surrender we both know what that means. I’m not worthy of your notice in the ton where you shine. And I’m not really cut out to be a mistress. I need to think.”
He buried his face in her hair.
“Ah, Caro. I want you more than I’ve ever wanted another woman.”
She moved away from him.
“I’m not sure that’s enough, Sebastian. Maybe for you. But maybe not for me.”
I hope you find it a Xmas treat....It's available at Ellora's Cave, Kindle, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc. Would love to have you read it and tell me what you think..  write me at www. I love to hear from readers.







Thursday 28 November 2013


That's right, Stories for When the Sun Goes Down, my newly released collection, is Free on Amazon!

Tell all your friends, quick, go, run, grab your copy!

Tuesday 26 November 2013

Far Beyond Rubies by Rosemary Morris

I am delighted to announce that my e-book, Far Beyond Rubies by Rosemary Morris, has been published as a paperback and an e-book.

“When Gervaise first sees Juliana he recognises her, but not from this lifetime, and knows he will always protect her.”

Set in 1706 in England during Queen Anne Stuart’s reign, Far Beyond Rubies begins when William, Baron Kemp, Juliana’s half-brother, claims she and her young sister, Henrietta, are bastards. Spirited Juliana is determined to prove the allegation is false, and that she is the rightful heiress to Riverside, a great estate.

On his way to deliver a letter to William, Gervaise Seymour sees Juliana for the first time in the grounds of her family home. The sight of her draws him back to India. When “her form changed to one he knew intimately—but not in this lifetime,” Gervaise knows he would do everything in his power to protect her.

Although Juliana and Gervaise are attracted to each other, they have not been formally introduced and assume they will never meet again. However, when Juliana flees from home, and is on her way to London, she encounters quixotic Gervaise at an inn. Circumstances force Juliana to accept his kind help. After Juliana’s life becomes irrevocably tangled with his, she discovers all is not as it seems. Yet, she cannot believe ill of him for, despite his exotic background, he behaves with scrupulous propriety, while trying to help her find evidence to prove she and her sister are legitima




J. Pitman’s 5 out of 5* review of Far Beyond Rubies by Rosemary Morris.

It was great to see that there's a new Rosemary Morris out. I like her exquisite attention to detail, and she writes in the reign of Queen Anne, which is something a bit different from the usual Regency romance.

In this new book, which I have to admit I raced through and will now read again, the heroine Juliana is stunned to discover that, according to her half-brother William, she and her sister are bastards. The tale of how Gervaise Seymour helps her, how she helps herself, her sister and her various strays is quite enchanting. Rosemary uses her knowledge of India, very pertinent in this period, to bring a spice of something different to this novel. Her 'tanned hero' is no pallid, painted Englishman but one who has travelled, married and been widowed on that exotic continent, thus earning himself the nickname 'Beau Hindu' amongst the fashionable in London.

This novel is not a light book, as it contains research into the politics, religion and morality of the reign of Queen Anne. However the research informs the novel quite naturally and I found this to be a lovely, sparkling romance. It is somewhat in the style of the late Georgette Heyer, although I think after four novels Rosemary Morris is developing a voice of her own.  

Suitable for those who like a cracking good historical romance, set in England, well researched, sensual but no explicit sex.


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Carolin Walz 5* Review of Far Beyond Rubies by Rosemary Morris.

Picked up Rosemary Morris' novel recently with the expectation of a nice escape into romance, and was agreeably surprised by the wealth of historical detail and engaging characters. The heroine, Juliana, is suitably persecuted by an evil step-brother and later on by a libertine suitor, and the hero, Gervaise, is not only handsome, but also mysterious, coming from a somewhat broken family and having been previously married to a woman in India. That is one of the things that sets this tale apart from the usual run of historical romances. The author is obviously quite familiar with India, and the reader gets all kinds of interesting tidbits about life there, from certain dishes Gervaise springs on his friends to what he has learned about the country's belief systems, the latter of which at first causes quite some conflict between him and the heroine. The resolution is believable and satisfying. Well-written throughout.


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Far Beyond Rubies is available from:



          Previous novels.

 Tangled Love

Sunday’s Child

False Pretences

New Release February, 2014 The Captain and The Countess

Monday 25 November 2013

Shadows by Jen Black ~ a romance with a twist


A chilling tale, written with humour and drenched in the sights and perfumes of the rural Dordogne, a must-read for those who like a romance with a ghostly twist. Curl up by the fire and revisit your holiday in France ....

Excerpt One: Melissa arrives at the mill and loves it. She has a swift look around while Rory prepares a meal for her. (A bolly is what the locals call a verandah)

The white table already held a bowl of salad, a wicker basket of bread and the opened bottle of wine. He was fast and efficient. No sooner had she taken her seat than he put a plate of steak before her and offered the salad bowl.
She tilted her head back and smiled at him. How good to have a man prepared to cook for her. “This looks delicious. Does Jonny plan to do a lot of work here?”
He picked up his cutlery and cut into his steak. “The grand plan is for two bedrooms and a bathroom on the lower level so Jonny can invite friends. The bathroom’s finished, but the rest is a muddle.”
That meant no bedrooms on the lower floor, and only one on this level. An ugly suspicion bloomed in her mind. Melissa heaped salad onto her plate and replaced the steel salad servers carefully in the bowl. “Then am I right in thinking there is only one bedroom here?”
The chilly edge to her voice brought his head up.
His peacock blue eyes narrowed. “’fraid so. That isn’t going to be a problem, is it?”
Dismay at his deception roared through her, and small flash of fear and timidity followed it. Yes, one bedroom most certainly would be a problem. She wasn't ready. Not yet. Talk about being taken for granted—the conceited ass expected her to tumble into bed with him without a second thought. She inhaled sharply. “It is presumptuous of you to assume I’ll share a bed with you right away.”
He stopped eating and stared at her, surprise etched into the lines of his face.
Had she misjudged him? Maybe she had jumped to the wrong conclusion. He'd be insulted if that was the case. So she offered a sweet smile and spoke gently. “Unless I’m wrong and you intend to sleep on the sofa?”
“Presumptuous?” His gaze darted across her face. Presumably he was trying to read her expression. He didn’t know how to answer her. Melissa lifted her brows slightly, smiled without opening her mouth and waited.
He put down his cutlery and picked up his wine glass. “What do you mean?”
She frowned. How could he pretend he did not know what she meant? “We are not lovers.” She bit off each word. “We may become so, but right now I expect a room of my own.” Heat rose through her skin, and her hand trembled on the rim of the table. She whipped it out of sight. Let him make of it what he would.
Rory swallowed too soon, choked and coughed.
He flung himself out of his chair, coughing, one fist to his mouth as he strode across the bolly. As the fit lessened, he thrust one hand against the oak upright supporting the roof and stood there, head down, breathing hard.
Annoyance did not stop her admiring the way his shoulders heaved with his breathing, or the graceful way he stood even when he was in some distress. His attention was not on her. It was the first time she'd seen him rattled, and his reaction interested her. When his breathing calmed, he slowly strolled back to the table and took his seat.
His eyes still watered a little, and he blinked rapidly to clear them. “Christ, I feel as if all sorts of pits are yawning at my feet. Would you believe me if I said I honestly hadn’t thought about it?”
Melissa sipped her wine. She didn't believe him for a moment. “How could you ignore it? There is only one bed.”
He winced, as if her words pained him.
Refusing to weaken, Melissa stabbed at her steak. How arrogant was he? Did he think every woman in the world begged to be bedded?
Birdsong sounded all around them in the warm green silence.
Her heart flipped over at the sound. His deep brown voice stirred her senses just as it had the first time they’d met. She must get a grip, or she’d be lost. Her pulse ran fast and her chest tightened. This was important. She looked up, prepared to fight.
Watchful intelligence overrode his initial surprise. Now he sat back and sipped his wine and she remembered he was a successful solicitor, with an important and well-known law firm.
“Please don’t feel under any pressure. We’ve only just met, and…I don’t want to spoil things by rushing them. If you want to sleep alone, that’s fine.” He hesitated, as if he might add some comment, and then thought better of it. “There’s a large squashy sofa in the living room. I’ll sleep there.”
The tension in her shoulders disappeared. She ought to be pleased he’d capitulated, but something rankled. She’d expected him to try and change her mind, persuade her. He might have tried. Part of her, inexplicably miffed that he hadn’t, made her say, “We’ll toss a coin for it. That would be fair.”
He raised his wine glass and offered an agreeable smile. “I’ll drink to that.”
Instantly she regretted the surge of independence that made her make the offer, and hated the easy arrogance that allowed him to accept her challenge. He'd probably win, and she'd be the one on the sofa. She'd been outmaneuvered.
He had such charm and knew how to use it. Once, in a rare mother-daughter-sharing-secrets evening, she’d asked her mother what had led her to the one-night stand with Lt. Col. John Hazlerigg. Her mother had smiled, rolling the wine glass against her cheeks as she considered the question.
“Power,” she’d said at last. “Not money, but a physical presence and an air of command. Charisma, allied with such certainty your knees—well, mine in this case—wobble and everyone knows he’s the alpha male in the pack.”
Melissa had spent the next week analyzing the concept, but reached no definite conclusion. Now that she’d met Rory, she understood something of her mother's explanation. There had been that odd tingling in the back of her knees when Jonny introduced them, and the way her heart skipped about in her chest when he spoke in that gorgeous voice.
If she’d ever met her father, she might have had some standard to judge by, but Hazlerigg was married and out of bounds. Mother had refused to inform her lover that he had fathered a child because he would have felt impelled to marry her. That would have ruined his career and broken the heart of his then fiancĂ©e.
Melissa’s fingers twisted together around her wine glass. She rarely thought about her illegitimacy now, and had never betrayed her mother's secret. But the old, churning feelings returned whenever she was reminded of it. Tonight she had an additional worry. If Rory ever found out, what would he say? His parents would certainly hate her. Relationships could not survive without honesty, yet she was constrained by a promise never to speak of her father.
“This dressing is delicious.” Her voice sounded brittle in her ears.
Not speaking of her father had been hurtful all through her childhood. When the other kids boasted of theirs, Melissa had nothing to offer and suffered agonies trying to hide the fact. Promising herself that the same sort of relationship would not do for her, she had vowed never to sleep with a man until she knew him really well. Maybe even until she was married to him. Adrian had been a terrible mistake.
“Easy enough to make here. Garlic is fresh and olive oil plentiful. What were you daydreaming about?”
“Oh, nothing special.” She glanced up, smiled brightly at Rory while she tried to think of something to cover her lies. “Listening to the birds. They sound so close and there are so many. It’s not like this back home, is it?”
Rory cleared the plates, and the break gave her time to regain her composure. Another glass of wine helped calm her, and when Rory produced strawberries for dessert, she exclaimed in genuine pleasure. When they were eaten, Melissa stretched out her legs toward the evening sunshine and let him clear the table. Two glasses of wine, a good meal and she was more at ease with herself.

Excerpt Two. Melissa volunteers to sleep on the sofa instead of Rory.
Melissa looked at her watch. It was well past midnight. The sofa was comfortable, but the unaccustomed heat kept her awake. Spending summer in a romantic old water mill in the Dordogne did have disadvantages. When she ran tentative fingers over her flanks, her skin was slick with moisture.
The warm breeze from the open window moved through the room, but brought little relief. Crickets chirped so vigorously they might have been sitting on the hearthstone five feet away. A cold drink would be good. She scrambled off the sofa and tiptoed across the floorboards, hoping she wouldn’t step on any insect life. With her hands under the kitchen tap, she welcomed the gush of cold water, gulped some from her cupped palm and ran her damp hands over her face.
Fumbling her way through the shadows to the door, she released the latch and stepped outside.
That was better. Cool air breathed across her skin. Ignoring the quick rustle of lizards scurrying toward crevices in the old walls, she strolled to the chairs, pale and cold in the moonlight.
She sank into one of them, and flinched at the coldness of the plastic against her skin. Stars blinked above the massed ranks of dark trees. A breeze that never reached the valley floor swept across the topmost leaves of the tall trees in the meadow and produced the soft susurration in the air that was already familiar to her.
Rory slept in the big bed on the other side of the wall. He did not like their current sleeping arrangements. The tightening of his mouth, the flexing of his jaw muscles had shown that, and said very clearly that he’d let her have her way but he was not the kind of man who gave up easily. Had his pride suffered when she refused to share his bed? He had certainly been surprised. Would he try and persuade her, or sulk until she gave in?
It had been a good decision not to let Rory sleep on the sofa for then she would have felt beholden to him. Much better that she owed him neither gratitude nor thanks at this point.
She stroked her thighs. Already the slickness dried from her skin. A wisp of long grass whisked along the flagstones, breathed across her foot and vanished. Rory had shown her a shed snakeskin as a warning not to be frightened if she saw the owner one day. The fragile, almost translucent skin had been trapped between the stones of the bolly and the old drain not four feet from where she sat.
A cold breeze wandered by. Melissa hugged herself against the sudden chill. Perhaps this was a crazy idea after all. Flickers of movement caught her eye. For no reason, her heart thudded in her chest. With her teeth pressing on her lower lip, she stared at the western end of the bolly where one of the four oak pillars supporting the tiled roof stood out sharp and clear in the moon's glow.
Beyond them, the shrubs and rose bushes were gray against the dusty, moonlit ribbon of the drive. Nothing moved. She heard nothing but the soft sound of the breeze, yet her heart bounced faster, as if she were in danger. Muscles tense, she sat poised, ready to run.
The shadows made it difficult to see anything. The blackness moved and twitched close in against the house wall, less than ten feet away. A pale shifting blur morphed into hands and a face. Melissa’s fingers clung to the chair arms while she strained to see through the darkness. Hair lifted on the back of her neck and goose bumps sprang on her arms. She stared at two pale blurs, one above the other, moving very close together. Sure it must be some young couple seeking privacy, she opened her mouth to call out. But some instinct held her rigid and silent. What if they weren't real?
Her heart beat so loudly that whoever lurked by the wall must surely hear it. She forced herself to inhale slowly and quietly. Her heartbeat slowed a little. The air around her was cold. It’s always cold when—she slammed down on the thought about ghosts before it formed in her mind. She looked at the space between herself and the door, and the door and the dark, shifting shape.
She could reach the door. She had to.
The chair scraped across the flagstones and drowned the slap of her bare feet as she hurtled into the mill, slammed the door and rattled the bolt home.
Flexed from the hips, palms braced against the half glass door, she waited, mouth open, panting. Through the mottled glass and the wrought iron Perigourdine goose that guarded it, moonlight lit the grass beyond the bolly. Nothing moved. Her breathing slowed. She remembered she’d seen a baseball bat by the door and groped for it without taking her gaze from the door. The smooth wooden shaft came comfortingly to her hand.
Something creaked behind her. Melissa whirled on a sharp indrawn breath. The bat cocked and ready, she watched the door to the hall open. A large, shadowy form ambled into the living room. “Wha’s the matter? Did you shout?”
“There’s somebody out there.”
“Out where?”
“On the bolly.” She flung out an arm and rattled her knuckles on the goose guard. “Ow.”
Rory ducked his head, ran both hands over his face. Straightening his shoulders, he walked toward the door. “I’d better have a look.”
Melissa stepped aside. He stooped, fumbled for the bolt in the gloom and pulled the door open. Melissa held out the baseball bat. “Take this.”
Rory blinked at the three feet of pale, solid wood and made no move to take it. “I could kill someone with that.”
“Take it.” She thrust it into his hand. It seemed imperative he have some protection. There was something nasty out there.
Reluctantly, Rory hefted it and stepped across the threshold. “Put the lights on.”
Melissa pushed the door curtain aside and ran her palm down the bank of switches. Light bloomed inside the mill, and floodlights snapped on at each end of the bolly. Startled birds squawked, complained and clattered about in the trees.
“There’s nothing here, Melissa. Come and look.” He sounded wide awake.
Suddenly aware that she was wearing only a tee shirt, Melissa whipped the door curtain across her hips and peeped around the doorjamb.
Moonlight emphasized the broad shoulders tapering down to a lean waist and flat stomach. Wrinkled, striped boxers hung low on one hip. His hair stuck up about his head, and the baseball bat dangled from the fingers of one hand. The width of his chest and the prominent muscles of his arms and thighs were reassuring.

“They might—” Her breath caught in her throat as all her initial attraction to Rory rushed back and choked her. She coughed and tried again. “They might have gone round the back of the mill.”

Jen Black’s blog:

There’s a trailer for this on YouTube

SHADOWS is available from Amazon:
Strong men, smart heroines, make for a good story.