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Happy Hogmanay – guest post – author Helen Fairfax

I hope you will all be staying up until past midnight to welcome in the new year. In our house my husband Dave leaves by the front door well before the first stroke of midnight carrying a silver coin, bread, salt, coal, evergreen, and a wee dram, which represent financial prosperity, food, flavour, warmth, long-life, and good cheer.  2017-11-02 10.15.57When I was growing up in Scotland it was considered bad form to go to bed before midnight and I still adhere to that. Nowadays, church bells are usually drowned out by fireworks, and the chimes of Big Ben on the television. However, I still view Hogmanay as a time for reflection and contemplation when we raise a glass to absent friends, and then stride forward into the new year with hope and optimism. I’m not a great one for new year resolutions, I’m usually happy to settle for love, good health and the promise of a new novel to promote.

Which brings me neatly to our guest – Helena Fairfax

Helena Fairfax photo

Helena writes engaging contemporary romances with sympathetic heroines and heroes she’s secretly in love with. Her novels have been shortlisted for several awards, including the Exeter Novel Prize, the Global Ebook Awards, the I Heart Indie Awards, and the UK’s Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme Award. Helena as born in Uganda and came to England as a child. She lives in an old Victorian mill town in the north of England, right next door to the windswept Yorkshire moors and walks this romantic landscape every day with her rescue dog, finding it the perfect place to dream up her heroes and her happy endings. Small wonder she writes romance!

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Like many writers, Helen was inspired by that great author of romantic suspense, Mary Stewart.

Helen writes: “I’ve read and re-read her classic romantic suspense novels ever since first picking up Nine Coaches Waitingas a teenager. It never crossed my mind to have a try at writing in this genre until one day an idea for a story came into my head, and I began wondering ‘what if…?’ I kept thinking about this story on and off, and it wouldn’t leave me alone until I’d written it down.

The story was a classic doppelgänger suspense, with a princess vanished in mysterious circumstances and a heroine who looks enough like her to play her part. Added to that was a handsome and mysterious bodyguard, a housekeeper as creepy as Mrs Danvers, and a dramatic twist that surprised the heroine – and almost ruined everything for her. This is how my novella Palace of Deception came about. I released the story as an ebook and it was published last year by Linford Romance.  I thought Palace of Deception  would be the end of my foray into romantic suspense but Lizzie and Léon – my Scottish heroine and Mediterranean hero – refused to bow out so easily.

Palace at Monaco - image courtesy of Pixabay
Palace at Monaco – image courtesy of Pixaba

Palace of Deception is set in Montverrier – a fictional Mediterranean principality which I based on Monaco. I couldn’t help wondering what would happen to Léon after he travelled with Lizzie to her home in Edinburgh. How would a hot-blooded Mediterranean bodyguard fit in in this dark northern city in a chilly, misty autumn? Would their relationship survive the move? And then what if danger followed them?

Staying with the Romantic Suspense theme, Helena wrote The ScottishDiamond follows the fortunes of Lizzie and Léon in Scotland. Edinburgh has been at the centre of some thrilling and dramatic events in history, from the siege of Edinburgh Castle in the fourteenth century, to the brutal murder of Mary Queen of Scots’ private secretary in her rooms at Holyrood Palace, to the capture and imprisonment of Highland rebels in the Jacobite revolution. This beautiful and unique city lends itself perfectly to mystery and romance…and Lizzie and Léon find danger is stalking them in the streets.

A year of light and shadows cover

Helena has now released both novellas together – Palace of Deception and The Scottish Diamond  – in one boxed set, along with a final short story which is set at Hogmanay in Edinburgh. The last story provides the perfect mysterious, dramatic and romantic end to Lizzie and Léon’s year. The boxed set is called A Year of Light and Shadows. Three romantic and gripping stories of danger, suspense and mystery in one anthology.

“Anyone with a romantic heart should enjoy this one. I found it a terrific surprise.” Amazon Five Star Revie

Here is the blurb:

A Year of Light and Shadows covers a year of mystery, suspense and romance in the life of Scottish actress Lizzie Smith and her bodyguard, Léon. When Lizzie is offered the chance to play the role of the Princess of Montverrier, she little realizes her decision to accept will thrust her into a world of intrigue and danger. Alone in the Palace, Lizzie relies on her quiet bodyguard, Léon, to guide her. But who is Léon really protecting? Lizzie…or the Royal Princess? Back home in Scotland Lizzie begins rehearsals for Macbeth – and finds danger stalking her through the streets of Edinburgh. Lizzie turns to her former bodyguard, Léon, for help…and discovers a secret he’d do anything not to reveal.

a message from Helena – Happy Hogmanay! A Year of Light and Shadows ends on New Year’s Eve in Edinburgh, with mystery, romance and fireworks. The perfect read!

view over Edinburgh towards the castle

view over Edinburgh towards the castle

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A long wynd in Edinburgh leading down to Princes Street Gardens. Very atmospheric

Social Links

If you’d like to get in touch with Helena, or find out more about her books, writing, and photos of my settings or the Yorkshire moors where she lives, follow her newsletter.  New subscribers will receive a FREE copy of Palace of Deception – the first book in the collection A Year of Light and Shadows

You can also visit Helena on her website at www.helenafairfax.com, or on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/HelenaFairfax/, or Twitter https://twitter.com/HelenaFairfax

Have a happy, healthy and successful 2018 from all members of New Romantics Press. Or, they say in some parts of Scotland, Lang Mae Yer Lum Reek. Remember to follow our blog and keep up to date with news and updates of our new novels. 

**featured image courtesy of Nicolas Tissot on Unsplash

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My favourite books in 2017

Many thanks to Lizanne Lloyd for choosing two of NRP’s novels as her reads of 2017 – awesome.

Lost in a good book

Christmas

This year, I reviewed 70 books from a variety of genres.  Often, those I like most combine genres such as mystery, romance, history etc.  I’m not going to list 10 or more top books but just 7 in the order I read them during the year.  These are the books I couldn’t put down, in which I became immersed and regretted finishing.

James & Laura

In April I was thrilled to return to Jan Ruth’s Midnight Sky series, reading the last of the trilogy, Strawberry Sky.  This was an intense story of love and suffering, a family saga featuring a wonderful horse whisperer.  If you are tempted please start with Book 1 Midnight Sky.

Tipping

The next great book was the beginning of Terry Tyler’s post-apocalypse series.  What makes Tipping Point so convincing are her characters who step out of the page to talk to us.  They have flaws, they make mistakes, they…

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Girl in the Castle by Lizzie Lamb #BookReview #Scotland #Highlands

💥Review #49 for Girl in the Castle, this time via Liz Lloyd. I hope it tempts you to download the novel and that you love it as much as she did.💟

Keep reading and reviewing folks. It really helps a writer, especially Indie writers like New Romantics Press.

Lost in a good book

Castle

Having discovered when I read Scotch on the Rocks what a talented writer Lizzie Lamb is, I was happy to begin reading about Dr Henriette Bruar, the Girl in the Castle.  Leaving behind a disastrous event at St Guthlac’s University, which has ruined her academic reputation, Henri is travelling to a remote Highland castle to catalogue and value the Laird’s books and begin writing her thesis on the Highland clearances.

But Henri is not welcomed.  Almost abandoned by the side of the loch in the gathering Autumn dusk by Lachlan, a small old retainer who wants no “wee lassie going over” to the castle, it appears that even Alice Dougal, the housekeeper wants her to leave the next day.  But the Laird, Sir Malcolm MacKenzie is hoping she will find valuable books to restore his dwindling funds and Henri is determined to prove her worth.  Unfortunately, she makes a…

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For Outlander fans…Author @Lizzie_Lamb on the atmospheric coast road from Edinburgh to Brora

Many thanks to Helena Fairfax for hosting me on her blog today.

Helena Fairfax

If you’re a fan of Outlander – or if you love Scotland as much as I do – then I have a treat in store today. Scottish author Lizzie Lamb recently undertook the Coast Road 500 trip around Scotland.  Lizzie’s here today with some wonderful photos and description of her travels.

Thanks for dropping in, Lizzie!

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North Coast 500

North Coast 500 is the UK’s answer to Route 66 and I am proud to say that we have covered every mile of it – with one exception. More of which later. If you decide to make this journey, you will find these two books and map invaluable. The books make great armchair reading when you’re planning your route and Charles Tait knows his subject well.
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IMG_5495.jpg These boots are made for walking ……

Our adventure started in Jamie’s Italian, Edinburgh where we met up with four friends to celebrate my husband…

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#ThrowbackThursday ~ Boot Camp Bride by Lizzie Lamb ~ Contemporary #Romance #Mystery @lizzie_lamb

Between the Lines ~ Books’n’Stuff

Renee at It’s Book Talk began this meme as a way to share old favourites, as well as books that were published over a year ago. Not to mention those that are languishing on the to be read pile for whatever reason.

This week I’m showcasing Boot Camp Bride by Lizzie Lamb, a contemporary romance and mystery, published in 2013.

Aspiring journalist, Charlee Montague, is desperate for her big break. The story that will make people sit up and take notice, especially her ultra successful family. In the meanwhile she is an intern at the celebrity orientated What’cha magazine, owned by Sam Walker, the father of her best friend Poppy, where she is given the worst of the menial jobs.

She attends the Book of the Year Awards with Poppy, assuming she is a guest, until her boss and the bane of her life informs her she will be waitressing…

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Happy Birthday New Romantics Press

New Romantics Press - Five YearsIt’s five years since New Romantics Press published their first novels. We won’t repeat how the group formed, our path to publication has been covered in previous posts. Here we are in 2012 looking all fresh faced and hopeful. So you ask, what have we achieved since then, and what next? Cue drumroll and clash of cymbals.

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Lizzie Lamb

A retrospective is a great idea. It gives us a chance to thank readers/reviewers/bloggers and friends for the help and encouragement NRP has received over the last five years. I have a #1 bestseller (historical Scottish) and #3 bestseller (Scotland’s/Highlands and Islands) under my belt and have rubbed shoulders on Amazon with Diane Gabaldon and Jenny Colgan. I look at my four novels and ask myself: did I really write those?  It turns out that I did. I’m now working hard on a romance set in Wisconsin USA, then its back to Scotland and the Black Isle for #6. Thank you for travelling with me on this amazing journey. 

 

From Wednesday 22nd November to Wednesday 29th November my novels will be available to download for 99p. So, here’s your chance to stock up on some great romances and hunker down in front of the fire with until the first shoots of spring appear. 

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June Kearns

First, a huge thank-you to the lovely readers who are still discovering my first two books and reading and reviewing them!

On to book three, where I’m currently in the middle of 1960s London, unravelling the lives of three women (and one man) when their histories suddenly collide. The mother, no longer alive – a former D-Day Dame. Her daughter Lillie, now in the midst of an exploding London fashion scene, together with Margaux, the Frenchwoman who brought her up – formerly a seamstress at a Paris fashion house. Add an arrogant American photographer on a mission to that mix, and shake vigorously!

(I was in London myself at exactly that time and have probably been enjoying the research a bit too much!) Publishing date? Spring 2018. A headsup – my novels will available to download for 99p from 23rd November – 29th. So, fill up your kindle. 

Adrienne Vaughan

The last five years have certainly been a whirlwind. To achieve my life’s ambition to become a novelist is, without doubt, a dream come true and quite simply wouldn’t have happened without the support, encouragement and friendship of Lizzie, June and Mags.

To date, we’ve independently published a number of highly-acclaimed and award winning novels including my series of Irish-American romantic suspense – The Hollow Heart, A Change of Heart and Secrets of the Heart – each shortlisted for reader awards by the Festival of Romantic Fiction. Together with my collection of short stories and poems, Fur Coat & No Knickers – recently shortlisted for the coveted Irish literary CAP Award – this now means I have four warmly-received books being enjoyed by readers every day. What a thrill!

 My latest novel That Summer at the Seahorse Hotel, is published in January 2018 and in honour of this and my forthcoming birthday, I’m delighted to offer all my books for 99p for one week from Tuesday 21st November – Enjoy!

 

Mags Cullingford

Where I am now

Five years on, I am half way through writing my third novel. My intention was not to be so ‘palely loitering’. Regrettably, this tantalising stage was reached eighteen months ago, but real-life events have had to take priority. So, no ‘writer’s block’ to report as a sorry excuse, or losing the plot by having no idea of what happens next. That’s all there in my head, and now, with the Fates’ permission, I plan on publication by Midsummer 2018.

My third novel – title yet to be decided – is a departure from my first two. In both, a clever but emotionally naïve woman falls for the wrong man, or men, before meeting the right one. Number three involves mystery and intrigue although, inevitably, tortured relationships do figure. Private investigator, Forbes discovers past secrets and lies after Lexie Neave, the only daughter, and heir of a single well-heeled parent, is threatened after her mother’s suspicious death – and begins: Alexandra Neave, you now have something valuable, very valuable which by rights is mine.

Link to author page:  http://tinyurl.com/qj2hzlf 

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Here’s a slideshow of some of the highlights of the past five years.

 

 

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Route 500 – #1 – Inverness to Brora

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North Coast 500 is the UK’s answer to Route 66 and I am proud to say that we have covered every mile of it – with one exception. More of which later. If you decide to make this journey, you will find these two books and map invaluable. The books make great armchair reading when you’re planning your route and Charles Tait knows his subject well.

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These boots are made for walking ……

Our adventure started in Jamie’s Italian, Edinburgh where we met up with four friends to celebrate my husband Dave’s 66th birthday. Who could fail to fall in love with Auld Reekie? Although we have visited many times, it never fails to enchant and amaze.

To get ourselves into the mood, we toured the city via open-top bus and, on a separate day, visited the Jacobite exhibition at the National Museum. IMG_5970 (Edited)There we saw (shudder) the chopping block where Lord Lovat met his end on Tower Hill. That sent us on another quest, to track down the mausoleum where, allegedly, his remains were laid to rest by his family. As luck would have it, Dan Snow, the TV historian was also on Lord Lovat’s trail; here’s a wee snippet of the programme he will eventually produce. In the fictional Outlander series on TV, Lord Lovat is the hero Jamie Fraser’s grandfather.

While in Edinburgh, I met up with Nick Fiddes, owner of Clan.com. Nick, and his co-director Adele, allow me to use photographs from this site for the front cover of my books. IMG_5306[1]My published novels

Leaving Edinburgh we crossed the newly opened Queensferry Crossing and I managed to get a shot of all three bridges. Not easy from a moving camper van!

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Then we were on our way to Inverness with a stopover at Blair Atholl, where a piper IMG_5362.TRIM.MOV[2](video link) greeted us on the steps of the castle, a fitting start to our tour of the highlands.  The Duke lives in South Africa, but Dave  stood in for him on this occasion.

Unable to resist some retail therapy I spend some time at the nearby House of Bruar . The heroine of Girl in the Castle is Dr Henriette Bruar, so a pilgrimage made sense. Well, that’s my excuse, anyhoo.

At Inverness we camped at the Caravan and Motorhome’s site at Culloden. We’d visited the battlefield on two previous occasions and decided to give it a miss this time. If you’ve never visited the site, make a detour and take your tissues with you, it’s an incredibly atmospheric place, haunted by ghosts. If you’re a fan of Outlander, it’s a must. I had my fingers crossed that Outlander #3 was downloading onto Amazon Prime in our absence.

This time, we satisfied ourselves with a photograph of the Prisoners’ Stone as our objective was Chanonry Point on the Black Isle (photo below with rainbow) to watch  the dolphins chasing salmon up the Moray Firth when the tide turns.  You can just see the dorsal fin of a dolphin in the photo on the right. I don’t know why, but seeing dolphins in the wild – not jumping through hoops as part of a show, affected me almost as much as visiting Culloden.  Anyone would think I was a writer for goodness sake.

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click here to see my Youtube video of dolphins in the Moray Firth

Check out this website for when to see the dolphins, They can also be spotted across the firth at Fort George – well worth a visit on its own account, as is Inverness which has great shops, museums and cafes.

We planned to spend all of September touring Scotland and although we were hardly ‘roughing it’, standards had to be maintained at all times (cough cough). I started off trying to dry our clothes in the caravan, then bought a portable washing line. 

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More importantly. I also brought a variety of outdoor wear with us to cope with changes in the weather . . . including boots, gloves, long mac (previously used for playground duty!) and sunglasses – it didn’t rain all of the time.

Turning our backs on Inverness we headed for Brora and the north east of Scotland.

You can read all about that in #2 of my Coast Road 500.

If you’ve enjoyed reading this blog post, check out my Scottish-themed novels 

Blogger and author Sharon Booth has written a moving and comprehensive review of Girl in the Castle which totally captures the mood of the novel. Thanks, Sharon. 💟

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As October meets November …

Girl in the Castle by Lizzie Lamb

Source: Girl in the Castle by Lizzie Lamb

 

Many thanks to Sharon Booth for writing this stunning review of Girl in the Castle. (and for all my other books). You are a star.

Happy Samhain (Halloween) – party photos, novel extract and free download