Blog, Extract

It’s Not Exactly Champagne Granita Weather, but…

…we can dream! There are times when I need more than comfort food like soup or casserole to lift my spirits. It was the same sort of foul wintry weather we’re suffering at the moment that inspired me to turn up the heating and imagine a holiday in the sun. In my mind I escaped to Greece. Dreaming of  somewhere hot and exotic inspired me to write a book with a hero to match. The result was His Majesty’s Secret Passion, the first book in my Princes of Kharova trilogy for The Wild Rose Press. Here’s an extract…

Find out more at

…when the waiter arrived with dessert, Leo pushed back his chair and stood up. “You’re a ball of tension, Sara. You’re winding yourself up tighter and tighter. One day you’ll be so wound up, you’ll snap. Addiction, depression, suicide…I’ve seen it all.”
“I suppose you’ve got the ideal prescription?”
He strolled around to stand beside her. “Of course I have. Close your eyes.”
“In a public place?” she gasped, but he was serious.
“Do it. Close your eyes and open your mouth.” His commanding voice made her obey.
When she realized what she had done, her eyes flew open again—at the exact moment the cool kiss of silver touched her bottom lip. Leo had piled a spoon with champagne granita, and was about to put it into her mouth. “Open wide.”
“I’m not a child.”
A bead of sorbet fell from the overloaded spoon. It landed on the smooth pale skin at the base of her throat, trembled, then ran down into the shadowy cleft between her breasts. “I can see that,” he purred.
“People are staring!”

“Let them. Open your mouth, or—”

“Or—” Or what, she had been going to say, but as she started to reply Leo took his chance. She couldn’t talk with her mouth full of sorbet and silver spoon, so she clenched her teeth on it.
“I thought you said you weren’t a child?” he teased.
She released her grip on the spoon. “I did that because I’ve got a chill in my teeth.”
“Excuses.” He scooped up another helping of thedessert in front of her. “I’m including a sample of each different flavor, and if you don’t enjoy it, well, I’m afraid there’s no hope for you.”
“Is that your professional opinion?”
“Maybe. First, I’d need to make a full examination…”
She scowled.
“…of the facts? Or something more interesting?” he added, slicing into another scoop of sorbet.
He was concentrating so intently, it was hard not to crack a smile. To resist the impulse, she opened her mouth like a baby bird, ready for the next spoonful.
“On the other hand, perhaps you’d prefer to seek a second opinion,” he said, at the very last moment diverting the next scoop of dessert into his own mouth. Sara was left sitting with her mouth open.
“Hey!” Reaching out, she retrieved the spoon and dish from him. Their hands connected, and he laughed. For one heart-stopping moment, his warm fingers sandwiched hers against the cold porcelain of her dish.
There was a question framed in his eyes, and she knew what it was. She looked away, unable to let him guess her answer. She had been fighting temptation from the moment he carried her up the beach, and she wasn’t about to stop now.
“You’re on holiday, Sara. Loosen up.”
His brutal words brought that dark, dangerous night on the road back to her in a horrible rush. The shock of waking as her car veered over the studs at the edge of the carriageway, with just enough time to think she might be about to die as her car hurtled down an embankment before coming to rest in a farmer’s field…
Leo’s hand went to her mouth, and she realized she was biting her nails. She stopped before he could tempt her with his touch again. “Oh, I can see danger, all right. It’s standing right next to me, Leo.”
“Fine. At least I’m an honest threat. Everything about you, from your beautiful appearance to your delightful conversation, your charm and intelligence promises everything any one could want. Why are you so dead set against allowing any man to take what you have to offer?”
“Because that’s all they do. Take,” she said.
He refused to be put off. “Not me. Where would be the fun in treating a woman like that? I like to give as well as take. You’ll see.”

To find out more, go to

What’s your idea of the perfect holiday? Have you booked to go anywhere this year?
Blog, Extract, Writing

Summer Sunshine For A Wintry Day

Find out more at My Dream Guy

How is your weekend going? Will you be going back to work with a smile, or a scowl? If this cold snap makes your next holiday seem a long way off, treat yourself to my short summery romance, My Dream Guy.

It’s only £1.99 ($2.77) and you don’t need a Kindle to read it. Whatever your device, whether it’s desktop, laptop or handheld, Amazon has an app that will let you read My Dream Guy. It doesn’t matter whether you use Windows, Mac, iPod Touch, iPad, iPhone, Android, Windows Phone 7 or BlackBerry.

My Dream Guy is a story of lost love, past and present. All the fizz has gone out of Emily’s romance with Jack. Will their holiday at Feinwen Farm save the day? Or will the bronzed farmer who bewitched her there when she was a teenager sweep her off her feet a second time?

In the little taster that follows, Emily has dragged herself into work after a terrible weekend. She’s not looking forward to her working week—but things are going to get a lot worse for Emily before they get better!

…As I talk, Grace looks more and more thoughtful. It’s obvious she wants to say something, so I go quiet. If you ever want someone to spill the beans, try the silent treatment. Most people can’t resist filling the void with the sound of their own voice. Grace is no exception. She picks up a pencil, and twiddles it between her fingers. All the time her brow is wrinkling.
‘Em…I never thought I’d say this about Jack, of all people…but you don’t suppose…’ she looks up at me from under her brows. It’s like she’s trying to get me to join the dots, but she’s the only one with a pencil.
‘You don’t think he’s got…’ she swallows, then purses her lips so her next words sidle out in a whisper, ‘another woman?’
‘Jack?’ I squeak. My Jack? My sweet, funny, gorgeous, guy? But he can’t be carrying on with somebody else-he’s my perfect man!
‘Don’t look like that. You’ll get frown lines.’ She says, as though all her fooling around (especially on Saturday nights) hasn’t been the cause of scars in the past.
If Jack is seeing someone else, that would explain all his recent “business trips”. During the week, if he’s not working late, he’s charging all over the country on site visits. I spend half my time missing him, and the other half wondering where the magic went as he nods off in the back row of the movies yet again. I mean, how can anyone get so tired they sleep straight through Fury Road? And when we’re together and Jack manages to stay awake, there’s the chirrup of his blasted phone coming between us whenever things are about to get interesting, if you know what I mean.
Yes…if Grace is right and Jack has got someone else, it would explain a lot…

Download My Dream Guy now, to find out what happens next!

Beta Readers, Extract, Love Lies Bleeding, The Barrow Wake, work in progress

Extract From My Next Book, Love Lies Bleeding…

This is what Sophia’s looking at, until…

My next book is a romantic suspense, with the working title Love Lies Bleeding. It’s back from my Beta reading team, so it’s now in the final edit stage. Here’s the opening—so this is your chance to tell me what you think about it, in the comments section…

‘…and I love TV, but I don’t want to watch it every day!’ Sophia put on a spurt. 
If only Alan would take the hint.  Moving to Gloucestershire was supposed to be the start of her blame-free existence. He should have vanished from her new life months ago. Instead here he was, still tagging along behind and refusing every command, kind word and firm refusal. Despite all the danger and her obvious lack of interest, nothing could squash his puppyish adoration. What was wrong with the man? He stuck like human chewing gum.
I’m running out of options. The only thing left is for me to get nasty. Really nasty. 
The track ahead was a bony limestone spine, rising almost vertically. Kicking on, scrabbling forward, clawing at the path in a fever of excitement she left her unwanted minder for dead. For dead…
The cold, clean air burned her face. She dragged it in like vodka.
‘I’m serious!’ Alan’s voice rose, a long way below her now, and insubstantial as cigarette smoke.
Sophia stopped, stuck her hands on her hips and screwed round to face him. 
Every day, he held her back somehow. Today, he was stopping her from sprinting for the summit. He was still ten yards behind, and wheezing like an asthmatic ferret. It was too irritating to watch him labour up the slope, so she scanned the horizon instead. On this perfect morning the atmosphere was gin-clear all the way to Hay Bluff, sixty miles away. 
A snail could get there and back before Alan’s caught his breath. 
This was a day to feel the lust for life powering through your veins. Life was too short for promises. Sophia wanted to make the break, and get on. 
She tensed and dropped her gaze. It caught on Gloucester, down in the vale of the Severn. From here, the city’s confusion of buildings was a dark smudge on the countryside. It was a necessary evil—as vital, ugly and inescapable as the feelings Sophia kept locked away inside. She pivoted, her trainers scribing perfect circles in the damp, grey grit. Down in the city, the heaving mass of humanity would soon climb onto the treadmill of a new day, running around in the same old circles, in the same old way. Digging her toes into the ground she scuffed hard, destroying the neat marks.
‘I’m serious,’ Alan repeated, his voice struggling up to her. ‘You’re beautiful.’
‘I’m trouble, you mean,’ she ground away at the divots, guiltily wishing it was his face. ‘Especially for a man like you. If you think I’m falling for that old line, forget it. It’s only the thrill of the forbidden you’re after.’
‘How many times do I have to tell you?’ He caught her by the arm. She narrowed her eyes in silent threat.  Releasing her, he flung up his hands in a gesture of peace.
‘Nobody,’ the pulse pounded in her voice, ‘does that to me anymore.’ 
‘All right… all right….’ He backed off, his voice oily with understanding. ‘I just want you to know I don’t care about…all that. Your past, I mean. This is a new start. For both of us.’
  Sophia felt sick. It should be easy to storm away, and end all this. Instead, she rubbed her hand up and down over the place where his fingers bit her skin.  A breeze rippled through the trees, high on the viewpoint above them. Drops of water suspended from the twigs after the previous night’s storm came pattering down, with the sound of a million footsteps giving chase.
‘…and I’m going to start by improving my personal best,’ a stranger’s voice growled out of Sophia’s mouth, ‘Race you to the top!’
Gone in a flurry of wet grit, she reached the viewpoint in time to watch Gloucester cathedral blanch with a blow from the rising sun. Then Alan’s pale face bobbed into sight, and her view was eclipsed.
She checked her watch. ‘Now I’m ready to go home.’
‘You don’t want to run any more?’ He sounded half-dead.
Home was one of those words like ‘mother’ and ‘loyalty’ that never felt good any more. ‘Nope. I’ve done my time. All I’m heading for now is a shower.’
‘Can I play?’
It was hard not to groan, and almost as hard just to give his shoulder a playful punch rather than aim a haymaker at his jaw. ‘No.’
He usually begged, but this time he looked distracted. His gaze went over her shoulder, across to the far side of the lookout point. 
‘There’s a car parked over there.’ 
There was no point in looking round. ‘This is the County’s dogging hotspot. Of course there’s a car parked over there.’
‘But it’s obviously been here overnight, Soph. Who in their right mind leaves a motor like that, in a place like this?’
‘Nobody in their right minds comes here at all, except in broad daylight,’ How could a guy in Alan’s profession be so innocent?
He wasn’t listening. He was heading for the vehicle, and gaining speed as he got closer.
‘You don’t abandon a class vehicle like this in a place like the Barrow Wake, Soph. It must be hot.’
There was nothing for it but to follow him, closing the distance between them as fast as possible. 
‘It looks pretty cold to me.’ This place seemed deserted, but only an idiot would shout. For the last eighteen months, she’d been more alert than ever to the fact there were always eyes to see, and ears to hear. 
‘It’s unlocked,’ he called, already opening the driver’s door. He was all enthusiasm and movement until he leaned over the back of the driver’s seat. Then he went rigid.
‘What is it?’
‘You don’t want to know, Soph.’ 
Pulling the sleeve of his new tracksuit top over his hand, he ran it across every surface he might have touched. That meant only one thing. Big trouble.
‘It’s a body.’  
Alan’s face was corrugated cardboard, but there was no point worrying about details if he was going to be caught in the act. Sophia saw her chance to scare him off for good. Taking him by the arm, she pulled him away from the car. ‘Okay. I’ll take it from here. Go.’
‘I can’t leave you on your own—not with this!’
‘I’ll be fine. You know that. You’ve got to go. What would it look like, you reporting this before you’ve clocked in at Brackenridge Central for the first time? They’ll think you’re a right smart-arse, trying to show them up. And being found with me….get going. Don’t look back.’ 
She swung him around, and sent him on his way downslope with a satisfying thump between the shoulder blades.

Once past the bland gatekeeper who answered her emergency call, the police were very…nice. Sophia wasn’t used to applying that four letter word to the law. She didn’t like to spoil the novelty. 
When they arrived to fill the viewpoint with their noise, they wrapped her in a foil sheet and tried to put her in an ambulance. To be shut in something like that was a step too far for Sophia. She agreed to sit on the vehicle’s tailboard, but being surrounded by all those chemical smells was horrible. It got worse. A pretty Police Community Service Officer was put on empathy detail. Sophia’s brightest smile couldn’t shut her up. Then the radio fixed to the woman’s shoulder burst into life.  
Sophia exploded with a curse that thinned the officer’s lips. 
‘Sorry…but that thing frightened me to death!”
‘It’s all right, Miss Hope! Don’t worry! You’re safe!’ When the girl patted her kindly instead of reaching for a charge sheet, Sophia relaxed a fraction.
‘And you’re in luck, too,.’ The PCSO tried a diversion. ‘Detective Inspector Joshua Miller is going to be doing your interview. He’s gorgeous.’
Sophia’s smile almost turned genuine. This was going to be easy, after all. She knew what handsome men were like. They always kept one eye on their reflection, and the other on their watch. They never let anything get in the way of their next hot date, least of all their work. A few snuffly, indistinct comments to this DI Miller, and she’d be off the hook. 

On a map, the Barrow Wake was barely a mile away from Josh Miller’s new home. He would have walked, but the last time he tried that there was trouble.  The press suggested his reluctance to drive was a comment on policing cuts, and Josh was hauled before a committee convened by the Chief Constable.
Today he took his Ducati, just to annoy them all. It wasn’t as though the man found dead at the beauty spot would care.
‘And neither will any witnesses,’ he told his dog. Lucky watched the ritual of Josh strapping on his body armour without comment. 
Leaving Lucky to sleep off his breakfast, Josh rode down into the valley, then powered his motorbike up the torture of Crickley Hill. Sweeping around The Air Balloon pub, he rode the tail of the Cotswold ridge to the Cowley roundabout. Then he took the return stretch as far as the viewpoint, and all at an average speed of exactly seventy mph.
It was as satisfying as walking a Derby winner around the Epsom course. Josh was still scowling as he trickled the Ducati along the lane and into the Barrow Wake parking area. Three police cars, a cat’s cradle of incident tape and an ambulance were already in place. With a grimace of distaste he brought the bike to a halt beside the nearest police car. A uniformed officer walked up to meet him. 
‘Loey? Shouldn’t your shift have finished by now?’ 
‘I’ll be off home in a minute.  I got a lift up here in case I could add anything useful. Fact is, Ratty and I clipped a guy with the patrol car last night.’
Josh took off his crash helmet and dug his fingers through his hair. ‘Tell me it wasn’t our dead body.’
Loey shrugged. ‘Not unless he goes dogging disguised as a Welsh rugby fan.’
That was a relief. Police involvement had a snowball effect on tragedy.  Josh stripped off his gloves, and dropped them into the helmet. ‘Is your Welshman going to sue?’
‘Dunno. The speed he got away from us, across the road and over the fence opposite, I don’t reckon there was much wrong with him.’
‘Didn’t you stop to find out?’
‘Course we did. But on a miserable night, and with us being on call, there was only so much we could do.’
‘Write it up as an incident. In full.’ Josh gazed pointedly at the sergeant. 
‘Already done. Chapter and verse, sir.’
Josh gave a nod of acknowledgement while scanning the confusion of people milling around the parking spot. Some were in uniforms, others in white coveralls. 
‘Any witnesses?’
‘One. They’ve got her in the ambulance, sir. ‘
Josh guessed what was going on back there. The crew were probably still bringing the witness down from hysteria. It was marvellous stuff, that happy gas. 
He lodged his helmet on the Ducati’s handlebars, and strolled over to the abandoned Mercedes. 
‘Nice car,’ he said to the photographer. She moved aside to let him see the nasty secret hidden inside.  
Josh braced himself to see the type of corpse found in places where nothing worse than the thrill of illicit sex took its toll on those old enough to know better. He got a shock. The dead man was fully dressed. He lay on his right side, across the back seat. His knees were drawn up, and he might have been asleep–if it hadn’t been for the big and bloody mass where his head should have been. 
This was a shabby, sad discovery, unworthy of a place where Victorian quarry workers once uncovered a priceless Roman burial hoard.
Josh dug his hands into his pockets and stared out over the Severn vale. There were plenty of people here to take notes, measurements and pictures for him. They recorded the facts, in the expectation Josh would find the solution. 
He knew he’d come up with an answer eventually. That was his job. But how anyone could actually bring themselves to take that final, irrevocable decision to strike the killer blow…it was something Josh would never understand.
‘Miss Hope says she’s okay for questions, sir.’ Loey announced. 
His voice brought Josh back to the present. ‘Who?’
‘The witness, sir. She’s waiting for you.’
‘Okay. I’m on it.’ 
Josh stopped at the side of the ambulance to get his thoughts in order. Bodies, he could handle. The first ones he saw made such a hole in his heart, all the ones since then slipped straight through. 
Witnesses were a different matter. Every one he interviewed after an unexplained death left an indelible mark. The tears, the confusion, the incoherent, ever-changing stories. He gritted his teeth and prepared to meet a blotchy-faced dimwit. When he rounded the ambulance, he was ready to trowel on the sympathy. 

Sophia Hope’s unbelievable smile made him drop that idea like a clumsy plasterer.

What do you think? To find out more, sign up for my newsletter by joining my mailing list. In the meant time, why not try my current release?

Extract, fiction, short story

Creative Writing: Work In Progress—Cup Cakes And Champagne…
misscreativecakes by Beria

Right now, I’m working on the final edit of the third book in my Princes Of Kharova series for the Wild Rose Press. Heart of A Hostage lands rebel leader Mihail, and his enemy Princess Maia, in a whole load of trouble. He’s the fighter and she’s the diplomat—but rules, like promises, are made to be broken. Aren’t they?

Heart of A Hostage follows on from Leo and Sara’s romance in His Majesty’s Secret Passion and Athan and Krisia’s fireworks in Her Royal Risk. Editing this latest draft is pretty intense work, and as the weather was so great this weekend, I took a break. Sitting in the garden I wrote the first draft of a new short story called Cup Cakes and Champagne, just for fun.

The style of this story is a bit different from my usual writing, and I’d love to know what you think of it. My heroine Emmy starts off a bit immature and self-centred, but she soon discovers that while love means taking the rough with the smooth, the smooth can be pretty spectacular!

Here’s the opening—

‘Oh, Emmy, you look like it’s your first day back after the holiday, not your last day at work for two whole weeks!’ Grace giggles as she meets me off the bus. We usually start laughing  the minute we set eyes on each other and don’t stop until we leave work (or Sniffy Sonia gives us one of her looks). Today is different, but I try and put a brave face on it. 
‘I know, a whole fourteen days alone with the man of my dreams. It’ll be heaven. But camping in Wales? Why couldn’t he take us off to sun ourselves on a beach somewhere? Mud’s really not my thing.’
‘Oh, stop your moaning!’ Grace gives me a little shove. ‘Camping’s not like it used to be. And at least you’re going to a place you already know.”
‘A place I haven’t been since I was twelve years old. What if it’s changed?’
‘Look on the bright side. You’re always saying how chilled out the place was. It might be even better these days!”
That’s Grace, the eternal optimist. 
‘And…don’t forget, you’re the one who let slip about your first crush, when we were playing truth or dare at the Christmas party. If the gorgeous Harri still lives at this Feinwen Farm camp site, you’ll be able to ogle him, while cuddling up with gorgeous Jack at the same time. That’s what I call multi-tasking. Right now—last one into the office buys the coffee!’ 
She puts on a sprint, but I know when I’m beaten and let her win. Paying out insurance claims isn’t a bad job, as office work goes. I like helping people find some sort of happy-ever-after, but it still means getting up while sparrows are yawning for forty-six weeks of every year. The decent coffee  they give us helps a bit. Friday cake-breaks are another reason to struggle in on time.  
‘Seeing Harri again wasn’t the only reason I agreed to this holiday,’ I say, putting Grace’s cup down in the most inconvenient spot on her desk, ‘Jack’s so lovely, but…’ my voice trails away, because there isn’t really any “but” I can put my finger on. It’s just…
‘I thought the divine Jack Wright really was your Mr Right?’
‘He is…’
Grace looks at me in the way she does when she’s about to save me from myself by taking the last cupcake. Doing me a favour, she calls it. And whatever second thoughts I’ve got about this holiday, I love Jack. He’s a real sweetie—when he’s around. I don’t want my best friend thinking I want her to take him off my hands.
‘…but he’s changed, Grace! When we first met it was champagne, flowers, and dinner with every date. But  lately, he’s been all work, and no play.’
‘And that makes Jack a dull boy,’ she nods, doing her best Judge Judy impersonation. ‘There’s no need to draw pictures.  That’s why you’ve got to throw yourself into the holiday lark. Use this break to liven him up.’ 

‘If we were going somewhere tropical, I could. But I know what Feinwen Farm is like. We’re going to be stuck out in a field, miles from the nearest takeaway, and in the coldest, wettest summer since records began!’

Emmy’s about to get not one, but TWO big shocks. Harri is twice the man she remembers, but Jack springs some surprises, too. For the first time in her life, Emmy is lost for words!

What do you think of Cup Cakes and Champagne so far? I’ll be posting more of the story in my next newsletter, which is due out in a couple of weeks.  You can sign up for it here.

Extract, Guest Post, Snow White and The Huntsman, Sydney St Claire, Wild Rose Press

Guest Blog—Sydney St Claire: Snow And Her Huntsman

Sydney St Claire

Today, I’m welcoming Sydney St Claire to my blog. As well as telling us something about herself, Sydney is giving us a taste of her erotic romance, Snow And Her Huntsman. This is part of the Once Upon A Dom series. The theme is Fairy Tales Your Mother Never Read You, and it’s another new title from The Wild Rose Press.

About Sydney…

Sydney St. Claire is the pseudonym of Susan Edwards, author of 14 Historical Native American/Western/Paranormal romances and the author of the popular “White” Series. 
Sydney takes her readers into the world of erotica romance where her characters come together in explosive passion as they solve life’s problems and find true love along with the best sex our hero and heroine have ever experienced. 
Sydney’s office is quite crowded with three dogs at her feet and five cats to keep her company while she writes. Three cats always insist on beds on her desk, barely leaving enough room for her monitor and keyboard. Life gets fun when all five insist on supervising…
A Little About Snow And Her Huntsman…

Rylee Kincaid’s business is about to go under. Lucky for her, she’s found an investor. Ready to sign papers, she learns her knight in shining armor is Hunter Finnegan, the man who once gave her multiple orgasms then crushed her young, tender heart. Her world comes crashing down as it becomes clear the rich businessman intends a hostile takeover and to cast her out. Then he agrees to discuss a new deal, but only if Rylee will play Snow to his Huntsman at a BDSM fairy tale event.

Hunter has never forgotten the weekend of kinky sex he shared with Rylee in college. Unfortunately, he had to let her go to keep peace in his family. Now he’s back to claim the only woman he’s ever loved. He’ll stop at nothing to make the black-haired, fair-skinned beauty hear the truth of what happened so long ago, even if he has to tie her up. And that’s exactly what he does. But as the Huntsman reawakens the submissive in Snow, Hunter isn’t so sure he can do the same to Rylee’s heart.

Available from

And here’s a little taster…(PG13)

Rylee couldn’t believe what she’d done. She’d totally lost control, something she’d never done with another man but Hunter. Sex between her and her husband had never come close to the heat level between her and Hunter. Her hands dropped from his shoulders to his chest. Palms flat, she wasn’t sure if she wanted to push him away or bunch her fingers in his shirt and draw him even closer. God, what must he think of her? One kiss, and she’d gone up in flames, like a desperate and hungry woman. 
Which was true. But to show it and behave in such a manner horrified her. “I…” She didn’t know what to say. 
Hunter stepped away, she assumed to give her time to adjust her clothing. He picked up the invitation from the gray carpet. “My limo will pick you up at two on Thursday.” 
“Thursday?” Damn, her mind and body felt as though she were swimming through a thick gel. 
Handing her the invite, along with a large envelope he snagged off his desk, he held her gaze. “I’ll see you at Pleasure Manor. Your costumes will be delivered to your office this afternoon.” 
He tapped the envelope. “Instructions and rules. I suggest you go get your bloodwork done this afternoon. You’ll need to bring the results with you.” Hunter handed her the briefcase and her purse and hustled her to the door. 
Rylee blinked in confusion. Damn the man for being in complete control while she was a quivering mass of need. Her orgasm hadn’t eased her ache for this man. But she hated being manipulated, and he was a master. He’d lured her in with hopes and dreams of saving her business and probably used Glorie to make her mad enough that she’d confront him. Now, he’d had the nerve to use her own body against her. “Dammit, Hunter, I never said—” 
Hunter halted her with the single lift of his brow. “Your body spoke for you.” He lowered his head and kissed her hard, swallowing her protests. “Thursday. And don’t bother wearing panties.”
Wow—nobody ever read fairy tales like that to me! You can find out more about Sydney and her work here: 


While the buy links for Snow And Her Huntsman are:

Wild Rose KINDLE           Nook         KOBO             IBOOKS

And Sydney is celebrating the release with a new contest. Prizes include a roomy  “Fairy Tales Your Mother Never Read You” tote bag, 4 GB Flash Drive, Key Ring Light, Notepad & Pen, Mug and assorted other goodies. Find out more here:

Christina Hollis, Ebook releases, Extract, Jewel Under Siege

An Extract From My Latest Release – Jewel Under Siege

 Cover art by Samantha Groom 

Jewel Under Siege is set in Constantinople in the early spring of 1097. The city is besieged by Crusaders, so Elena thinks she’ll be safe from strangers inside the high walls of her own garden…

“The fruit trees trained against all the walls of Elena’s garden were wreathed in blossom.  The little blue irises growing behind the arbour were almost in flower, too. They would make a pretty arrangement for Easter Day.
Her mind full of flowers, Elena was an easy target. When a figure erupted from the bushes, she was dragged out of sight in less than a heartbeat. With a hard, cold hand clamped over her mouth, there was no chance to scream. 
Fear froze her from head to foot. The man gripping her was breathing quickly, and as his wrist pressed against her cheek she felt his pulse racing. Eyes tight shut, Elena waited for something awful to happen. She couldn’t imagine what could be worse than this, but his overpowering smell of leatherwork and metal dressing was unnerving. She stood stock-still in his grasp until he managed some breathless French.
‘Keep quiet. I won’t hurt you. Understand?’
Somehow, she managed to nod. His fingers relaxed from her mouth. When she didn’t struggle or scream, he dropped his hand. His sigh said he was as glad to let go of her as she was to be free. She moved to get a better view of him, knowing she might need to identify him in future. He was a tall, youngish man, but his gaunt good looks were suffering from famine and war. Leaning heavily against the garden wall, he pressed one hand to his knee. The expression in his dark eyes was hunted and Elena saw that grabbing her had sapped most of his strength.
That gave her the courage to face him. ‘What do you want?’ she said in French.
‘Help–and everyone round here speaks Greek. I don’t.’ 
That could mean only one thing. 
‘You’ve broken in from the Crusader camp!’ Elena said in horror. ‘You’ve come here to steal! And after we were told your people were coming to Constantinople to help us!’ 
‘It’s not like that. We’re desperate. We need food. Your people are slowly killing us. We’ve been held up outside the city for months. We’re dying out there.’
Elena drew herself up to her full height. No unshaven hulk was going to come into her garden and start twisting the facts to suit himself. ‘Only because your leaders won’t promise that you will behave properly. That’s all our Emperor wants.’
‘I’m starving and injured,’ the young man burst out suddenly. ‘I need help, not an argument about politics!’
Elena stared at him. He was in a bad way, but trying not to show it. His left leg couldn’t support any weight and he was tight-lipped with pain. Leaning against the garden wall he tried to look arrogant and supercilious, but she could see he was on the point of collapse.
‘I’ve had nothing to eat for three days. I managed to get inside the city wall, but climbing over your boundary to get at the fish in your pools was too much. It was mossy and wet. I slipped.’
Elena was horrified. ‘You’ve had no food for three days? Have you had anything to drink?’
     ‘Rain. That’s all.’ He swayed unsteadily, his gaze piercing her heart. ‘Get me some food? A crust? Anything. Then I’ll go. On my honour. I’m not here to make trouble.’
Elena considered. He looked dangerous, but if she could somehow sidle further out of his reach she knew he’d never catch her again. She wondered if she could trust him, and also whether he could trust her. His clothes were sodden. They clung to his frame in a way that unsettled her. The strange feeling inside her made Elena wonder whether it was only Christian charity that made her want to help him. Mud buttered his cracked and shabby boots, while his teeth chattered in a chill breeze running in off the sea.
‘Does anyone else know you’ve come here?’ she said.
He flicked his head sideways. ‘It’s bad enough that I risked getting caught. I wasn’t going to get my friends involved as well.’
He lost the look of a desperate terrorist, reduced to snatching at innocent women. Now he was dejected, alone and injured in a foreign city. He’d given Elena a bad fright, but seeing the state he was in softened her heart. In case he was playing on her sympathy, she hardened her expression and folded her hands primly in front of her.
‘I’ll go and see what can be done for you. Stay here and don’t move.’
The young Crusader put a hand to his forehead. He couldn’t offer any resistance. Instead, in a gesture of acceptance, he pulled a knife from his belt and handed it to her, handle first.
She accepted his offering warily, and held it at arm’s length. ‘Thank you – I think…'”

I hope you enjoyed this extract from Elena and Emil’s story. You can download Jewel Under Siege here, see a full list of my published books at, catch up with me on Twitter and Facebook, and if you’d like to sign up for my newsletter, drop me a line at christinahollis(at), replacing the (at) with @.