Sneak Peek at Dark Deceit - over at Historical Fiction Excerpts

I hope you've all had wonderful holidays. We've been lazy over the last few days after our hectic trip up north to the outlaws last week. More about that trip soon...

For now, please join me as I post a preview of my upcoming release, Dark Deceit, over at Historical Fiction Excerpts! I should have an exact release date soon. Whoot!

Here's the blurb:

On his return from battle at Lincoln, Geoffrey de Mortagne, undersheriff of Gloucester and spy for the Empress Matilda, assists a dying knight caught in an ambush. Promising to look after the welfare of the knight’s only daughter, Geoffrey stays at her manor while he investigates the murder. Keen to join the Empress on her progress through England, he is torn between his oath and his duty. 

Left to defend her manor following her father’s death, Alleyne de Bellac at first accepts Geoffrey’s support. As she doesn’t trust the taciturn stranger, she asks Will d’Arques, an old friend, for help. But loyalties change. Her life in danger and her inheritance at stake, Alleyne must decide which man to trust. 

Discover England and Normandy divided by a brutal civil war, where vows are broken as allegiances waver.

See you over there! :-)

Pre-Christmas cheer and memories

Are you in Christmas mood yet? I am, even though there's not a snowflake in sight.

Our Christmas shopping done early this morning, we just managed to escape the (unsurprisingly unhappy) crowds arriving to do the same. Now we can relax. Off to see the in-laws near Loch Ness tomorrow for a couple of nights - and dinner / Christmas lunch, then back home in time for Christmas eve.

This year marks the first Christmas I won't hear from my Gran. She quietly passed away on 17th March, aged 91.

So to honour her memory, I decided to bake for Christmas - for us, my mum, and my in-laws. Now, this doesn't happen every year. I'm no domestic goddess. But preparing everything for the cookies and cake, over several hours, and watch them take shape, was fun. Apart from discovering that I'd made the wrong dough for the type of cookies I wanted to bake. Hey ho! ;-)

So I made buttery biscuits, covered in chocolate or icing, sprinkled with Hundreds & Thousands instead of the ones I love, with marzipan, walnuts and chocolate coating. Next year...

I also baked 'lebkuchen' - not quite gingerbreads but similar, with diced nuts, raisins, cocoa and again, coated with chocolate or icing.

OK, I admit it. I love icing. Following the mess I created with home made icing (not that horrible, gooey stuff you buy in tubes!), I picked all the drops of dried icing from the plate. Nom nom!

Finally, yesterday I baked my Gran's famous red wine cake - with red wine (yes!) and chocolate sprinkles. Finished it off earlier with a delicious chocolate coating & choccie sprinkles. Yes, again, you've guessed it. I love chocolate! :D

So I thought I'd share a few pics of my home made goodies. I'm quite proud of myself. Wouldn't win me any cooking competitions (I'd easily run out of time to start with) but I'm happy. As is hubby!

So, I wish you all a Happy Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and a relaxed, joyful holiday season. Celebrate with the ones you love and cherish the memories of those you've lost!

Cathie xxx

My Place - Animal Attraction by Jenna McClure

While many are out, jostling with the crowds doing their last minute Christmas shopping, we're still here at My Place with a warming cup of tea and a crackling fire. And talking cold seasons, our place today is spot on - somewhere I'd love to visit one day.

So without further ado let me hand over to talented romance author, Jenna McClure. :-)

Jenna McClure grew up in the urban south, but moved to Colorado to satisfy her desire for fresh air, mountains, lots of snow and wide open spaces.

She became a vegetarian in 2003 after seeing a graphic film about animal cruelty. A long-time romantic, she has been reading romance novels since her sister introduced them to her as a teenager. She finally decided to merge her love of animals and studly men into a romance novel. She has been writing for over seven years.

Jenna's favorite hobbies include digital photography, biking, hiking and an ongoing quest for her own novel-worthy hero. She daylights as a Project Manager for a software development company, but writes as much as she can.

She lives outside Denver with a gloriously goofy greyhound and two cats, one is deaf and the other extremely talkative, and all of which are named after some of her favorite fictional characters.

This is her first published novel, but she is currently at work on her second.

My Place:

Northwest Colorado near Steamboat Springs. My heroine, Emma, lives in Denver, and the hero, Adam, lives outside of Steamboat Springs. The three-hour drive doesn’t keep them apart though! 

I wanted to set a book here after working on a guest ranch up near the Wyoming border one summer during college. It was my first time in Colorado and I fell in love with the mountains and clear, crisp air. I knew I’d be back someday, and eight years later I was!


Environment consultant Emmalyn Ashmore is outraged when she discovers the last minute replacement for the guest speaker at her annual conference is none other than Adam McLean, a cattle rancher, whose lifestyle represents everything she stands against.

Adam McLean has never met a more contrary woman. From the first moment she opens her mouth, he knows she’s exactly the type of woman he doesn’t need in his life – ever.

But Fate has other plans, and as the sparks fly, Emma realizes there’s more at stake than conserving just the environment. She has to figure out how to conserve her heart, before she loses it forever.


  “It’s never good to make assumptions about people you don’t know,” Adam replied, throwing her words back at her.
  She jerked her eyes to him, tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. “Right. Sorry.”
  Idly, he wondered if she was always this nervous, or if it was just him. Selfishly he hoped he had the same effect on her as she did on him.
  “I know you’re a cattle rancher and all,” she started, “but I couldn’t let you leave without talking to you about your speech.” 
  He didn’t care for her opening words, but he liked her voice, so he concentrated on that. Besides, if he missed anything important, he’d ask her to repeat it. Over dinner, he mused as he continued to stare at her mouth. It was still moving, which meant she was still talking and he was still not listening, but she didn’t seem to notice.
  Or so he thought.
  Her lips stopped moving, snapped shut, then opened slightly. A brief, shrill whistle pierced the air. He jerked his eyes back to hers, and found her staring at him in angry disbelief.
  If she didn’t look so mad, he might have laughed.
  “Mr. McLean, were you listening to a word I said?”
  Adam scratched his chin. “Sure. You said something about me being a cattle rancher, which I already knew, and then something about your impressions. But you kind of lost me after that.”
  She placed her hands on her hips. “I was trying to talk to you about how misleading your speech was.”
  He cocked an eyebrow. “Yeah? I must have missed that part.”
  “I think you missed all my parts.”
  “Trust me, I didn’t,” he drawled.

Author Links:

Twitter:   @jennamcclureRW

Buy Link:

I'm visiting Word Wranglers today!

Join me!

I'm over at the Word Wranglers blog today, talking about writing, my novels, and authors who inspired me. Plus, discover which female in history I'd love to have lunch with, and what (or rather, who!) we'd be chatting about...

See you there! ;-)

Wish I was here...

Grouse Mountain
Today marks exactly a year since our return from our fabulous North America adventure. Visiting fab cities such as New York and Seattle, meeting my wonderful family in Idaho and Oregon for the first time (yes, very emotional) and enjoying the many varied impressions and sights along the way was quite an experience. But one place had the most impact on us and I wish I was there now... the city of Vancouver, Canada.

On this day one year ago we left Vancouver and we still miss it. The different, yet familiar culture drew us in (have I mentioned the Canucks?). It's the top spot on our list of places we'd love to live.

Wish I was here now...

Vancouver, CA

But today also marks the release of Janice Horton's fab new novel, Reaching for the Stars, the story of Chef Finn McDuff who goes into self-imposed exile following a high flying career. Join Janice's blog party for a chance to win one of several lovely prizes: Janice Horton blog

Discover for yourself where Finn is hiding! Reaching for the Stars is available from Amazon UK & Amazon US - take advantage of the special launch prices, perfect timing if you're looking for a great holiday read or Christmas gift!

My Place - Impetuous by Katherine Grey

After a break last weekend, it's time for another visit at My Place. Today, I welcome historical romance author Katherine Grey. She explores the fashionable hub of Regency England, London.

Over to you, Katherine...

As a young girl, I loved all the fairy tales with Prince Charming in them – Snow White, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty to name just a few.  I think my fascination with the whole idea of Prince Charming led to my interest in England.  The royal family and all those dukes, earls, and such were the real life equivalents in my mind.  As a teenager, I spent many an hour devouring books on English history.  I read everything from biographies, to the “day in the life” type books, to books on military campaigns.  And then a friend’s mother introduced me to the novels of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer.  My love and fascination with the Regency period was born and continues to this day.

I primarily write historical romances set in Regency London, but hope to branch out into romantic suspense as well in the future.  My debut novel, Impetuous, was released through The Wild Rose Press in August 2011.  My novella, The Muse, involving a secondary character from Impetuous will be release in 2012.  I’m a member of Romance Writers of America and Sisters in Crime and various internet romance writers groups.

My Place:

Welcome to Regency London where the men of the Beau Monde spent their days frequenting such places as White’s and Boodles.  Both are gentlemen’s clubs that still exist today.  White’s is more well known of the two and is famous for its bow window and betting book where thousands of pounds were wagered on sports, political developments, and social events, such as whether a friend would marry that particular year, and/or whom the friend would marry.

Both the men and women of the Ton spent time in Hyde Park, particularly along Rotten Row, a broad track of approximately 4,500 feet along the south side of the park used for carriages and later horseback riders.  It was one of the places to go and be seen among upper class Londoners.  The park is divided in two by the Serpentine River (though it’s actually a lake). Hyde Park is the largest of four parks that form a chain from the entrance of Kensington Palace through Kensington Gardens and Green Park past the main entrance to Buckingham Palace, through St. James’s Park and ending in Whitehall.

Grosvenor Square is located in the exclusive district of Mayfair in London and was originally developed around 1721.  Grosvenor Square was one of the three or four most fashionable residential addresses in London with many leading members of the aristocracy living there.

These are just a few of the places one would frequent as a member of the aristocracy in Regency London.  



Mateo de Montayas, an impoverished Spanish count, comes to England to recover a stolen family heirloom and to satisfy his hunger for revenge against the man who destroyed his family. Arriving in London, he learns his hated enemy died three years before but has left behind a daughter. What better way to retrieve the heirloom and exact revenge than to use her to his advantage?

Teresa Darlington will do anything to keep scandal away from her frail mother and prove her father wasn't a thief, even risk her reputation in a race to find the missing heirloom before the Count does. But she didn't count on falling in love with the man determined to ruin her family. Can she find the heirloom before he does and protect her family, or will her heart lead her in a different direction? 


Teresa cast a furtive glance around the darkened garden. Now that it was time to put her
plan into action, she wished she were any place but here. Had she finally allowed her impulsive nature get her into something she couldn’t get out of? 

Determined to silence the fears clamoring within her, Teresa forced herself to go over all
Freddie had taught her in the last week. She checked her pocket for the stub of candle she
grabbed earlier. 

With one last prayer, she hoisted herself up and through the window. A surge of adrenaline flowed through her as she realized she was in one of the two libraries the Marquess of Kingsbury kept well maintained. Elated that her memory had served her correctly, she wandered around the room, her hand trailing over the many bookshelves. If she could remember the layout of each townhouse on her list as well as she did this one, getting in and out of the houses would be one less worry.

Her hand on the doorknob, she took one last look at the window. Once she left this room, escaping without detection became even more dangerous. The handle turned beneath her hand. Stifling a startled cry, she backed away from the door. Hide! her terrified mind screamed. She raced toward the window.

As freedom loomed in front of her, a hand clamped around her arm and dragged her back.
“What the hell are you doing here?”

Her body went limp with relief as Montayas’ deep tones filled the room. Yanking her arm free
with a nonchalance she didn’t feel, she moved closer to the window. “I’m trying to protect my father’s reputation just as you are here trying to ruin it.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Don’t play the fool with me. I know you’re searching for the Pequena. How can you threaten to
expose my father as a thief when your property isn’t even in his family’s possession?”

Montayas glanced toward the door. “Be quiet.”

“You’ll not silence me. I want the answers I should have demanded when you first voiced your
ludicrous accusations.”

He clamped his hand over her mouth.  “Someone’s coming,” he whispered, pulling her into
the shadows of the heavy brocade curtains. He glanced out the window and then back at the door.

Voices. Teresa heard them now. Still indistinct but louder.

Montayas gave her a warning look then removed his hand from her lips and positioned her in front of the window.

She struggled against his grasp. “What are you doing?” she whispered.

With one quick shove, he pushed her through the opening.

Barely suppressing a scream, Teresa fell through the air and landed on her knees with a soft
thud. The short fall stole her breath. Thankfully, the thick grass of the formal garden had acted as a cushion.

Seconds later, the count joined her on the lawn. He grabbed her hand and ran toward a small copse of trees. In the leafy shadows, he turned to face her. “Are you trying to get me killed?”

“Me?” she shrieked. “I didn’t just push you out a window.”

Author Links:

Buy Links:

The Wild Rose Press:


Barnes & Noble:

My fab new cover for Dark Deceit

Yayyy, I'm bouncing. :-)

I've received my cover for Dark Deceit. Love it! So dark and atmospheric...

Dark Deceit, the first in The Anarchy Trilogy, is due out in early spring 2012 from Crooked Cat publishing. It tells the story of Alleyne de Bellac, left to defend her inheritance following her father's murder. Two men offer their assistance, but does she trust the right one? Or is she in danger of losing it all?

Dark Deceit takes you from southern England to the heart of Normandy in a tale of murder, betrayal and politics.

Can't wait to share it!

Dark Deceit - due out in spring 2012

I'm so excited! Dark Deceit, part 1 of 'The Anarchy' trilogy, will be released in spring 2012 through Crooked Cat publishing! Crooked Cat is a new ebook publisher based in the UK.

Dark Deceit weaves a tale of murder, changing loyalties, betrayal and hope. Set in Gloucestershire, England and Perche, Normandy, Geoffrey de Mortagne, undersheriff and staunch supporter of the Empress Matilda, returns from the Battle at Lincoln to witness an attack on a knight. During his investigations, he meets the knight's young daughter and offers his help. Keen to return to Matilda's side following King Stephen's capture, he is torn between duty and a promise he gave to a dying man.

Left to defend her manor, Alleyne de Bellac accepts Geoffrey's assistance. But when she summons an old friend of her father's, she discovers how swiftly loyalties can change. Her life in danger, Alleyne must decide who to trust. In the end, will she trust the right man?

Discover England and Normandy divided by a brutal civil war, where oaths are broken and lives are worth little. But there is still hope...

I'm currently working on the edits but I can't wait to see this novel published after it began life at a small train station in South Wales some 8 years ago.

~happy dance~

Prague, here we come!

Yayyy, it's finally time for our holiday of the year - a long weekend in Prague! Hubby & I are excited. Can't wait to see that fabulous city. I love old towns, good beer & hearty food so I'll do very nicely there.

Here's a glimpse & some info:

We'll also be winding our way through Prague's several Christmas markets. I'm sure there'll be a couple of treats in store for us.

Ooohhh... hot wine and pastries! I'll be one happy bunny!

We're aff oor heids ...

... over at S.G. Rogers' bonnie blog where we're blethering aboot Scottish-isms! 

Weal, got yer attention? ;-)

We'll be seein' ye there!

My Place - Highland Storms by Christina Courtenay

Please help me welcome award-winning author Christina Courtenay to My Place. Christina writes historical romance and her novel, Highland Storms, sounds just like my kind of read.

Let's hear it from Christina!

I’m Christina Courtenay and I write historical romance, often with a hint of the Far East.  Although born in England, I have a Swedish mother and was brought up in Sweden.  I’m a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and currently their vice chairman.  Highland Storms is my third novel with the publisher Choc Lit. My debut, Trade Winds (prequel to Highland Storms), was short listed for the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Pure Passion Award of Best Historical Fiction 2011. My second novel, The Scarlet Kimono, has just won the Best Historical Fiction award at the Big Red Read awards and is shortlisted for the Festival of Romance Readers Award for Best Historical Read 2011.
As well as novels, I’ve had four Regency novellas published by DC Thomson’s ‘My Weekly Pocket Novel’ series, which subsequently came out in large print with Dales Romance.

My Place:

Eilean Donan is probably one of the most photographed castles in the world, according to the official guide book, and certainly in Scotland.  I can well believe it, because you’d have to search hard for a more romantic looking castle!  Built on a small island and reached via a picturesque bridge, it’s situated amidst spectacular scenery with a sea loch and mountains all around it.  The drive through the Highlands to reach it is amazing in itself, but as you approach the castle along a small winding road next to the loch, the view of it suddenly appears round a bend and absolutely takes your breath away.  If, like me, you’re lucky enough to visit on a sunny day when the loch is calm, it’s simply perfect.  
The hero of my novel Highland Storms returns to Scotland from Sweden, where he and his family have been living since the end of the Jacobite rebellion.  He has inherited his father’s Scottish estate and when he comes of age, he goes to take over the running of it.  I imagined it as a small castle next to a loch at the heart of a long strath, and when I needed a real castle to base the fictional one on, there was no doubt in my mind that it had to be Eilean Donan.  I’d wanted to go there for a long time, so it was also a great excuse for visiting at last.
However, although the castle seen from afar is every bit as wonderful as I’d imagined, I have to admit the inside of the building was slightly disappointing.  There has apparently been a castle there for at least eight hundred years, but the one that exists now was largely rebuilt in the early 20th century, so the interior wasn’t as authentic as I would have liked.  Still, authors have imagination and there were plenty of other castles whose interiors I could “borrow”, so I contented myself with using the imposing walls and setting for my novel – I really couldn’t have found anything better!


Highland Storms
Who can you trust?
Betrayed by his brother and his childhood love, Brice Kinross needs a fresh start. So he welcomes the opportunity to leave Sweden for the Scottish Highlands to take over the family estate. 
But there’s trouble afoot at Rosyth in 1754 and Brice finds himself unwelcome. The estate is in ruin and money is disappearing.  He discovers an ally in Marsaili Buchanan, the beautiful redheaded housekeeper, but can he trust her?

Marsaili is determined to build a good life. She works hard at being housekeeper and harder still at avoiding men who want to take advantage of her.  But she’s irresistibly drawn to the new clan chief, even though he’s made it plain he doesn’t want to be shackled to anyone. 

And the young laird has more than romance on his mind. His investigations are stirring up an enemy.  Someone who will stop at nothing to get what he wants – including Marsaili – even if that means destroying Brice’s life forever …


  Marsaili Buchanan was pulled back from the brink of sleep by the soft growling of her deerhound, Liath. It started as a low rumble inside the big dog’s chest and throat, and grew in volume while the animal raised his head and stared fixedly at the door. Since Liath was snuggled around Marsaili’s feet, the vibrations could be felt all the way up her legs. Her heart skipped a beat as she held her breath, waiting to see who was coming up the stairs to her tower room this time.
  ‘They never give up, do they, boy,’ she whispered and sat up, putting her palm on Liath’s flat skull. She felt the rumbling more strongly there and stroked the dog’s wiry neck, keeping her hand near his collar in case she needed to hold him back. It was a distinct possibility.
  She’d been plagued with night-time suitors like this for a while now, even though she never encouraged any of the men in the household or on the estate. Her face and figure seemed to inspire lust in any male between the ages of fifteen and fifty, no matter how much she covered it up. She silently cursed fate for giving her this dubious blessing. It brought her nothing but trouble.
  The latch moved softly. Since it was well-oiled and silent, Marsaili wouldn’t have heard it if she hadn’t been forewarned. The door didn’t open though, the bar she’d had installed recently saw to that. The latch dropped with a clink and she heard a snort of frustration. This was followed by a muted thud, presumably a shoulder pushing against the door. When this didn’t produce the desired result either, a man’s voice muttered an oath. A harder shove which made the wooden planks quiver seemed to conclude the assault. Marsaili bit her lip hard to keep from making a sound.
  ‘Marsaili? It’s me, Colin.’ The whisper was clearly audible and seemed to hang in the air for a moment.
  Marsaili almost gasped out loud. That was one voice she’d never thought to hear outside her door. She’d believed Colin Seton, the estate manager, too proud to go sneaking around at night.
  ‘Mr Seton? What’s the matter?’ she asked, trying to sound as if she’d just been woken up. ‘Is something amiss?’
  ‘Come now, girl, you know why I’m here. You’ve been holding out for long enough, it’s time you were rewarded.’
  His voice was slightly louder, but still low. Marsaili didn’t know why he bothered trying to keep it down. Her room was at the top of one of the towers of Rosyth House and there was no one immediately below her at the moment. He must be aware of this.
  ‘I beg your pardon?’ She sat up straighter, glaring in the direction of the door. Holding out for what? Him? How on earth did he reach that conclusion? She just wanted to be left alone, not be importuned by a widower old enough to be her father.
  ‘The finest looking woman in all the Highlands deserves only the best. Can’t blame you for setting your sights high. Let me in now, you can trust me to look after you right.’
  Rage bubbled up inside Marsaili’s throat and threatened to choke her. The words she longed to hurl at Seton were so stacked up, she couldn’t spit them out. All that escaped her was a noise of frustration, but Liath felt her wrath and gave voice to it on her behalf. His growling grew into a crescendo of menace that reverberated around the small room
  She managed to control her vocal chords at last. ‘Please leave, Mr Seton and I’ll forget we ever had this conversation. I’m sorry, but you’ve misunderstood.’
  ‘Eh? You’re just being stubborn now and you know it. No need to be coy, you’ve made your point.’ His voice was beginning to sound strained, as if he was keeping his temper in check, but only just.
  Marsaili didn’t know what to reply. She didn’t want to antagonise the man, but on the other hand she had to make him understand she wasn’t available to anyone. As if to emphasise her thoughts, Liath gave a short bark, and although she couldn’t see him, Marsaili knew he was probably baring his fangs as well. She felt her heart beating harder, the sound of her pulse almost drowning out the dog’s noise inside her ears. She took a deep breath. ‘I meant what I said. Anyone who wants to court me can do so in daylight.’ Not that it would do them any good since I don’t want any of them.
  ‘Who said anything about courting? Your mother –’
  She cut him off abruptly. ‘What my mother chose to do was up to her. It has nothing to do with me and I’ll live my life as I see fit. I’m a respectable woman.’
  ‘Rubbish! You’re no better than you should be. Hoity-toity by-blow of a –’
  ‘Mr Seton! You’ve said enough.’ Marsaili was shaking with fury, but was determined not to enter into a lengthy argument with him.
  Seton cursed long and fluently. Finally, he hissed, ‘That dog isn’t allowed in the house, you know. I’ll see it’s put where it belongs from now on, in the stables.’
  ‘You can’t! I have the mistress’s express permission to keep him in here. The dog stays,’ she said firmly, trying not to let her voice tremble the way the rest of her body was doing. It was true after all, but would he leave it at that? She waited again, holding Liath’s collar in a tight grip, while Seton made up his mind.
  The door was stout, but she knew Seton was both strong and determined. Fortunately, so was Liath. Marsaili was reluctant to let the dog loose on anyone because she’d seen what those powerful jaws could do, but if she was cornered, she’d have no other choice.
  ‘We’ll just see about that,’ Seton snarled before giving the door a vicious kick. Soon after, she heard footsteps disappearing down the stairwell. She breathed a sigh of relief and threw her arms around the dog’s neck, burying her face in the shaggy fur.
  ‘Thank you, Liath, good boy. You’re the best.’ He licked her hand in acknowledgement of this tribute and leaned against her until her limbs stopped shaking.
  They’d won this time, but Marsaili knew that from now on she’d have to be on her guard at all times, both for herself and for Liath. There was no saying what Seton would do and now he’d put all his cards on the table, there was no going back. He wasn’t the type to give up easily and she’d probably wounded his pride. He would use every means at his disposal to have his way.
  Well, she’d be ready for him. Just let him try!

Buy Links:



Author Links:

The Choc Lit Authors’ Corner (group blog)
The Heroine Addicts (group blog)

Talking all things Scottish...

... over at SG Rogers' fabulous blog!

Want to discover some local phrases and find out about Scotsmen? Then don't hesitate to come and join us!

You might want to pour yourself a wee dram to get into the mood...

See you over there!

C xxx

My Place - Coming Home by Cynthia Owens

This Sunday I welcome Cynthia Owens to My Place. Cynthia writes wonderful romantic fiction set in Ireland. I have read In Sunshine or In Shadow and loved it.

Over to you, Cynthia!

I believe I was destined to be interested in history. One of my distant ancestors, Thomas Aubert, reportedly sailed up the St. Lawrence River to discover Canada some 26 years before Jacques Cartier’s 1534 voyage. Another relative was a 17th century “King’s Girl,” one of a group of young unmarried girls sent to New France (now the province of Quebec) as brides for the habitants (settlers) there.

My passion for reading made me long to write books like the ones I enjoyed, and I tried penning sequels to my favorite Nancy Drew mysteries. Later, fancying myself a female version of Andrew Lloyd Weber, I drafted a musical set in Paris during WWII.

A former journalist and lifelong Celtophile, I enjoyed a previous career as a reporter/editor for a small chain of community newspapers before returning to my first love, romantic fiction. My stories usually include an Irish setting, hero or heroine, and sometimes all three. My novels, In Sunshine or in Shadow and Coming Home, are set in post-Famine Ireland, and are available from Highland Press.

I am a member of the Romance Writers of America, Hearts Through History Romance Writers, and Celtic Hearts Romance Writers. A lifelong resident of Montreal, Canada, I still live there with my own Celtic hero and our two school-aged children.

My Place:

Welcome to Ballycashel, the wind-swept, West of Ireland village where my Irish historical romance novels, In Sunshine or in Shadow and Coming Home take place.

Ballycashel (in Irish baile caisleán) means “town of the castle.” It’s located nine miles from Galway City on Ballycashel Bay. The main village includes Ballycashel House, where Rory O’Brien, hero of In Sunshine or in Shadow, and his family live, many small tenant farms, and Donahue’s Pub.

Myths and legend abound in Ballycashel. Ballycashel House sits on the castle ruins of the ancient Celtic King, Sean Donnelly. It’s said that the ghost of that chieftain appears to forewarn of a death in the family.

That’s not surprising. Situated as it is near the Atlantic Ocean, Ballycashel can certainly seem haunted on a dark night, when the wind sighs through the trees and a cold mist blows in off Ballycashel Bay.

But it’s that very bay, and the sea that feeds it, that was the salvation of the village. During the Famine, the people of Ballycashel were able to harvest the fruits of the water, from oysters to mackerel to the dulse (seaweed), dragged in by the frequent storms.

“The town, with all its residents, was at times like one character in itself.” ~ Kenda Montgomery, Author, on In Sunshine or in Shadow.

Ballycashel is, of course, a fictitious village, but it’s based on many such villages in salt-sprayed western Ireland.

This is Dunguaire Castle, the model for my Ballycashel House.


“A woman’s love is strong, more powerful than all the ghosts in Ireland…”
Daughter of an Irish village girl, step-daughter of the landlord, Ashleen O’Brien has lived between two very different worlds. But after a year in America, she yearns to return to the green land that is her heart’s home.
War and betrayal have taken everything from Cavan Callaghan – his home, his family, and the woman he loved. A hero of the Irish Brigade at Antietem, he’s searching for the family he never knew.
Love and deception await Cavan and Ashleen along those emerald shores, as the ghosts of a past that can never quite be forgotten rise to threaten their newfound happiness.


The Atlantic Ocean, 1867
  He was going home.
  Home. Such a simple word. And for so long now, such an unattainable dream.
  Yet as he stood on the deck of the Mary O’Connor, he thought maybe he’d finally find a real home once again.
  When Johnny comes marching home again . . .
  He looked seaward. The salt wind tugged at his hair. Spray stung his eyes. Gulls wheeled and shrieked overhead. Open water lay beyond the horizon, and beyond that still, his new life. In a few weeks, the Mary O’Connor would dock in Galway Bay, and from there he’d head for the small village his parents had spoken of with such love. He felt a stirring of emotion, the first spark of excitement since—
  Deliberately he cut off the thought. He was no longer a soldier. There would be no more Rebel yells, no more guns, no more battles. He was no longer Captain Callaghan, so-called hero of the Irish Brigade.
  He was just plain Cavan Callaghan, an Irishman searching for peace.
  What would Ireland be like? For as long as he could remember, he’d heard his parents speak wistfully of the country they’d left behind. The green fields and sea-swept coast. The heather-strewn countryside filled with wild strawberries and prickly gorse. They’d spoken of the people, too, but especially of his father’s brother.
  The last of the Flynns now, except for himself.
  His mother had said the village of Ballycashel lay some nine miles from Galway City. What would he find there? He knew about the Hunger, of course. Had any of his family survived?
  Or would he find the same devastation he’d confronted on his return from the war?
  A ripple of sound floating on the briny breeze told him he wasn’t alone. Recognizing the delicate notes of a penny whistle, he glanced around. One of his fellow passengers, obviously an Irishman, lowered the instrument from his lips and smiled, his foot tapping in jig time.
  The piper began playing anew, and a raw slash of anguish ripped through Cavan’s gut. He knew the words well, and the tune the man played so effortlessly and with such emotion.
  He’d prayed never to hear them again.
  The minstrel boy to the war has gone,
  In the ranks of death you’ll find him . . .
  He squeezed his eyes shut, the ‘ranks of death’ marching through his memory.  So many friends,  his comrades-in-arms, who would never return . . .
  His brother.
  With a hard shake of his head, he strode away from the haunting melody.
  He was going home. And there he would find peace.
  There would be no more war.

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Giveaway of Highland Arms at TRS's Thanksgiving Party

Join me at the TRS Thanksgiving Party - it's happening over the whole weekend - for a chance to win a PDF copy of Highland Arms and a wee bag of Scottish goodies!

Looking forward to seeing you over there!

Cathie xx

My Place - Home, Sweet Texas Home by Caroline Clemmons

Today I welcome multi-published author Caroline Clemmons to My Place. Her setting takes me back to good, old TV days. Lovely memories...

Hello, I’m Caroline Clemmons and I’d like to thank Cathie for having me as her guest today. My husband and I live on a small acreage in rural North Central Texas in the U.S. Our daughters are grown, so our companions are our rescued pets: a black Shih Tzu named Webster and two cats, Sebastian and Bailey Erin. My parents and I moved to California when I was a baby and we returned to Texas when I was almost eight. Of course, I believed all the old cowboy movies and expected any minute to see Roy Rogers riding the range. Too bad--my dad was in the cotton business and we moved to a cotton farming area. Now, my husband and I live in genuine ranching and cutting horse country, and I see real cowboys whenever I go anywhere in our area. 
My previous occupations have included stay-at-home mom (my favorite), medical secretary, newspaper reporter and columnist, assistant to the managing editor of a psychology journal, and bookkeeper. When I’m not writing, I love spending time with my family, reading, traveling, researching genealogy, and browsing antique malls and estate sales. My brother and I are compiling a history of our father’s Johnson/Johnston/Johnstone family. My brother accuses that “a passion for genealogical research is contagious, because he caught it from me.” Not quite true, as our dad gave us each a love of history and learning. Previously, I published a family history for my mom and one for my mother-in-law. I’ve also written numerous articles for genealogical journals and area history books.

I began telling stories early, but didn’t have a book published until 1998 when Kensington published BE MY GUEST. That and my other backlist titles are now available from Amazon Kindle and Smashwords for 99 cents along with a mystery available for the first time, ALMOST HOME. My current publisher is The Wild Rose Press, and those books are in print and e-book, except for SAVE YOUR HEART FOR ME, which is a novella and only in e-book. 

My Place:

HOME, SWEET TEXAS HOME is a sweet contemporary romance that takes place in West Texas, in and near Lubbock. For the most part, I grew up in Lubbock. It is known locally as the “Hub of the Plains.” Cotton farming is big in that area, but so are ranches, vineyards, oil, and many other industries. Although it’s the “land of the tall sky,” the weather is the least appealing factor of West Texas. The locale is plagued with sand and dust storms, tornadoes, drought alternating with thunderstorms with hail and flooding, hot summers and cold winters. One of my friends says the only reason there’s a town there is that’s where the wagon wheel broke and settlers were stuck. So why do people live there? I can’t answer, except to say it grows on you. In reality, the land has a beauty all its own.

Driving west from Dallas as my heroine Courtney and her brother Jimmy would have, the land changes dramatically. Fort Worth is “where the West begins” and terrain becomes rolling prairie dotted with the mesquite trees, cedar, and juniper that plagues ranchers and takes over range land if allowed to do so.  At the town of Post (setting for BE MY GUEST), you climb up to the Llano Estacado or “Staked Plains,” as labeled by Spanish explorers. Once the home of Comanche and other American Indians, it’s now inhabited by an amalgam of all races and ethnicities. 

Lubbock is a town of a quarter million and still retains something of a small town atmosphere. It is the home of Texas Technological University (yes, residents know that is an illogical name, but are bound to it) and Lubbock Christian University. There are also a medical school and a law school associated with Texas Tech. The Lubbock Landmark Lake Site and the Ranching Heritage Museum are of special interest to those who love history, as are other area museums. Lubbock and the surrounding area have produced many musicians, including Buddy Holly and the Crickets (alleged to be the model for the Beatles. Holly’s songbook is owned by Paul McCartney), Mac Davis, the Gatlin Brothers, and Waylon Jennings.


Courtney Madison has battled poverty her entire twenty-five years but is determined to make a safe and happy home for her teenaged brother after the recent death of their mom. Her mom’s illness left Courtney with a mountain of hospital bills, her formerly sweet brother Jimmy is now cutting class and hanging with a rough crowd, and she’s just learned she’s being downsized in two weeks. Hanging on by the threads of a fraying rope, she learns she’s inherited two million dollars from a kind elderly man she befriended when he was in the hospital across the hall from her mom. She thinks her inheritance in West Texas is the answer to all her prayers--but Courtney learns that while money improves her life, it doesn’t guarantee happiness. This modern Cinderella encounters problems even a fairy godmother couldn’t imagine. 
Rancher / entrepeneur Derek Corrigan has incredible instincts for flourishing in the business world. With women, not so much. In fact, his friends bemoan he’s King Midas where money is concerned, but his judgment of women is pathetic--evidenced by his late wife and now the flamboyant woman he’s been escorting of late. As far as Derek is concerned, all he wants is to be a good dad to his children Warren, aged 8, and Meg, aged 5. Derek suspects the worst of his new neighbor and vows to fight his attraction for her. The only way he can protect his children and himself is to keep his private life very private. Besides, he knows what women do to him--they always leave and take chunks of his heart with them. He's been there, done that, had the vaccination and is cured. Isn't he?


Set up: Courtney is a normally efficient and cool-headed businesswoman who turns into a klutz around Derek. She has had another of her “events” and has been rushed home by Derek, who has offered first aid. When her brother Jimmy arrives home from school, he is at first suspicious of Derek, then realizes the situation.
   When Jimmy saw his sister in bed, he rushed over. “Sis, what happened? What’s with the towel and the ice packs?” He frowned at Derek. “What’s going on?”
   She opened her mouth to explain, but nothing came out.
   Derek figured the bizarre situation defied description. He patted Jimmy on the shoulder. “Don’t worry, she’s okay now. We were at the cemetery putting flowers on Sam’s and Maggie’s graves and your sister got trapped in the bathroom.”
   Jimmy shook his head. “I don’t understand. How could that hurt her?” 
   Courtney sighed. “The knob came off in my hand and I couldn’t open the door. So, I climbed out the window.”
   Derek held out his hands to indicate the small rectangle. “A small, high window.”
   Jimmy looked from his sister to Derek. “I still don’t understand what happened.”
   Courtney snapped, “I got stuck, okay?”
   Now that he knew her to be okay, the week’s tension suddenly snapped Derek and he lost his perspective on the whole situation. He grimaced at Jimmy. “She, um…” He coughed to keep a straight face. “When she tried to go out the window, she got stuck with her head and one arm sticking outside and the rest of her inside.” He stood like a bird with a broken wing to imitate Courtney’s position. A grin spread across his face in spite of all his efforts not to smile.
   Jimmy gaped at his sister. “Courtney? But she’s always so sensible. She’s never does anything stupid.” He began to smile also.
   Both males burst into laughter.
   “Listen, if you two are so amused, go into the other room to discuss my apparently hilarious antics and leave me to suffer in peace.” In spite of her strained muscles and injuries, she threw a box of tissues in their direction. “Go on, get out of here. Now.”
   Derek glanced over his shoulder before he left.
   She’d stuffed a pillow over her ears, to block out their laughter. 

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My Place - Shattered by Jennie Marsland

This Sunday, I'm extending a warm welcome to the talented Jennie Marsland and her novel, Shattered. Her setting is fascinating!

Jennie Marsland is a teacher, a painter, a musician and, for over thirty years, a writer. She fell in love with words at a very early age and the affair has been life-long. She enjoys writing songs and poetry as well as fiction.

Jennie is a history buff as well as an unashamed romantic. Glimpses of the past spark her imagination, and she believes in happily ever after. She lives in Nova Scotia with her husband, their cat Emily and their outrageously spoiled Duck-Tolling Retrievers, Chance and Echo.

My Place:

My latest historical romance, Shattered, takes place in Halifax, Nova Scotia, one of Canada’s oldest cities. The reason for Halifax’s existence is its harbour, which is one of the biggest and deepest in the world. As an added bonus, the outer harbour is connected by a channel called The Narrows to a large inner harbour, Bedford Basin, which is invisible from the open ocean. During both World Wars convoys assembled there, protected from weather and detection by the enemy, while they prepared to cross the Atlantic with troops and supplies. This postcard shows the outer harbour and downtown as it was in 1920.

Halifax is built on several hills, the most prominent of which is Citadel Hill, where the original fortifications were built when the city was founded in the 1700s. On the slope of ‘The Hill’ stands the town clock, one of our most beloved landmarks, which I had included on the cover of Shattered. Since 1803, it has kept time through the colourful and sometimes illicit goings-on of a port city and military garrison. This part of town has always catered to the two greatest needs of men just in from the sea – one of which is drink.

The clock has counted the hours through several wars, as well as through the darkest day of our history – December 6, 1917, the day when a ship loaded with wartime explosives collided with another ship in The Narrows and detonated, resulting in what is still the largest non-natural, non-atomic explosion in recorded history. Citadel Hill shielded the city’s South End from the worst of the impact, but the North End community of Richmond, where my fictional characters live, was destroyed. Two thousand lives were lost and the face of the city was changed forever.

Richmond was replaced with a neighbourhood we call the Hydrostone District, named after the cement blocks used in its construction. It’s attractive and rather trendy, but I’d like to be able to go back in time just for an hour and see the area as it used to be.

Almost nothing is left of the landscape my characters would have known, but subtle reminders of the Explosion remain. People still unearth remnants of homes and possessions in their yards, and the neighbourhood has a special, indefinable energy. 

It’s no surprise that supernatural stories of the Explosion abound. Several years ago a friend of mine who lives in the North End had an unsettling experience. Arriving home from work one evening, she glanced in her kitchen window and saw a man dressed in old-fashioned clothes, sitting at her table. While she was looking at him, he vanished. Her experience became my inspiration for Liam Cochrane, the hero of Shattered. I taught for ten years in a school that was one of the few North End buildings to survive and, climbing the main stairs in the dark on winter mornings, I often felt that if I listened carefully enough, I’d hear children’s laughter from ninety years ago.


Liam Cochrane no longer belongs. He lost his youth and his brother on the battlefields of Europe. Now he’s home in Halifax, Nova Scotia, trying to dull his pain with liquor and the occasional willing woman. He’s become a stranger in the North End neighbourhood where he grew up.

Alice O’Neill has never belonged. Able to read music, but not words, she dreams of teaching piano – and of Liam, who has held her heart for years and never known. But Liam has shadowy ties in England that he’s revealed to no one, and in that fall of 1917, Halifax is on a collision course with fate. On December 6, a horrific accident of war will devastate the city’s North End. What will be left for Liam and Alice when their world is shattered?


I’ll leave you with an excerpt from the beginning of the story, before Liam connects with Alice O’Neill, his heroine. At this point he’s dating Alice’s older sister, Georgie, not knowing that Alice has carried a torch for him for years. Enjoy.

Halifax, Nova Scotia 

September 1917

  “K-K-K-Katy, b-beautiful Katy,
You’re the only g-g-g-girl that I adore…”
  The three singing sailors lurched along Brunswick Street, trailing liquor fumes in their wake. Liam caught his companion by the waist and pulled her out of the men’s path, into the darkened doorway of a closed pub. One of the three looked over his shoulder with a good-natured leer and snapped off a salute as limp as his wilted uniform. Giggling, Georgie pressed into Liam’s arms, edging him further back into the shadows. 
  “Liam, my head is spinning. If I have any more to drink I’ll be as tipsy as those three. It’s time to go home.”
  She snuggled against him. Her curves fit his hollows to perfection. When Liam bent his head to kiss her, she rose on her toes and tangled her fingers in his hair. A brief, fierce moment later, Georgie rested her head on his shoulder. With her pressed warmly against him, her lips grazing his neck, going home was last on the list of things Liam wanted to do. He tucked a finger under her chin and turned her face up to his.
  “You sure you’re ready to call it a night?”
  Georgie’s smoky green eyes glowed with invitation while her fingers ran lightly along his spine. “No one will be home. I didn’t say anything about calling it a night.”
  She reached for his mouth. She tasted of youth and life, heady and potent as the whiskey in his blood. Liam kissed her again, hard and deep. 
  “I like the way you think, lady. Let’s go.”  
  They had a walk ahead of them, all the way from Brunswick Street north to Richmond, but the bootlegged rye they’d shared during their picnic in Point Pleasant Park had loosened up Liam’s bad hip. As for Georgie’s inhibitions, after three evenings together he knew they didn’t need much loosening. Girls like her had been rare in Halifax before the war, but not any longer. Peekaboo blouses and skirts that showed the ankles were only surface ripples on the current of change.
  They started north past Citadel Hill, walking hand in hand. At the foot of the slope the squat base of the town clock lay in shadow, but the late sun gilded the face on its round, domed column. Half past eight.  A stiff sea breeze snapped the flags that flew from the old fort on the hilltop. Beneath, the grey stone reflected the pink of the twilight sky. Later, fog might roll in off the harbour, but for now the stored heat of buildings and cobbles kept it at bay.
  Halifax wore a grim face in the grip of winter, a drab and ghostly one in rain, but on a fine, end-of-summer day like this the city and its people smiled. Even the brick and stone of the industrial waterfront looked brighter and more welcoming, the bustle of wartime business a little less serious. The long evenings drew people out of blacked-out homes and barracks to stroll, socialize and look for trouble, always easily found around the Hill. This part of town catered to the two greatest wants of men just in from the sea, one of which was drink. 
  They passed another pub, once Liam’s favourite, now locked and shuttered under prohibition. Damn shame, but with the harbour full of ships from all over the world, a man didn’t have to settle for the rotgut served in the ‘blind pigs.’ He’d cultivated his sources since being invalided home. Forgetfulness had its price, but it was priceless.


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