The loneliness of the long distance author

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I’ve been a fan of Shehanne Moore’s work since The Viking and the Courtesan. Now she brings us the Writer and the Rake, which is even better! I absolutely loved the concept. For certain people who happen to be Time Mutants, a kiss can take them backwards or forwards in time to a completely different century. This is what happens to struggling romance writer Brittany Carter, who is frustratingly whisked away into the past just as she is about to make her ex-boyfriend’s life a living hell.

I think I mentioned before how I hate romance heroines who are the paragon of all virtues. Well, Brittany is definitely not. This heroine is a vindictive, manipulative, chain-smoking alcoholic, and I love her. If romance heroes can be rakes, why shouldn’t the heroine be a ‘rakette’?

Brittany meme 1

Brittany arrives in 1765 dressed in nothing but a bathrobe, landing in Mitchell Kilgower’s teenage son’s bed. Mitchell, a long-suffering, brooding gentleman thinks his son has finally stopped being such a milksop and become a man, or rather the kind of man his father wants him to be. Brittany is just confused. She thinks her ex-boyfriend has murdered her and she is now in some sort of strange afterlife. Mitchell thinks she’s insane.

wandr 565656Of course, one can’t blame him as for all he knows, a woman has appeared out of nowhere and keeps babbling on about him being good fodder for her next romance novel. Mitchell’s uncle and slightly incestuous aunt (or former sister-in-law) show up, and the only way Brittany’s presence can be explained is in a lie hastily concocted by Fleming, Mitchell’s son, that she is Mitchell’s new God-fearing wife.

Hilariously unsuited to the role, Brit goes along with is because she needs to figure out a way to get back to the 21st century.  She may be a romantic novelist, but unlike her naive heroines, she’s not going to swoon and fall into Mitchell’s arms just because he has a gorgeous body and amazing cheekbones. All the same, there is an attraction simmering beneath the surface of her pretense.

mitchell meme44As for Mitchell, he starts out wanting to get rid of her, but he is by turns enraged and captivated by a woman the likes of which he’d never seen. A modern heroine unleashed on an unsuspecting 18th century world is a force to be reckoned with.

Brittany wreaks havoc everywhere she goes. She is a truly comedic heroine, though Ms. Moore deftly alerts the reader to how easily things could turn tragic if these characters don’t find love very soon.

Mitchell treats Brittany terribly, though she’s no picnic herself. However, she shows real resiliency and even keeps writing while in her 17th century imprisonment. One of the most beautiful lines of the book is, “A writer could write without paper, without ink, without hope.”

Time is working against them as Brittany can’t control her travels between centuries, but love might just bring them together in the end.

About Carolee

Enchanted by romance on page and screen, I have always tried to write my own numerous versions of the perfect fairytale. No matter whether the story takes place in Ancient Rome or on one of the moons of Jupiter, romance always beguiles and charms us with its fairy tale magic. My first inspiration to sit down and write came from watching the movie The Princess Bride.

princessbride-kiss

This was a “modern” fairy tale with plenty of action, humour, and of course, true love. I resolved that my stories should have the same light-hearted, fun, and romantic spirit.

As for real life… I believe I may have already found the man of my dreams, but I still haven’t found the dog of my dreams. Currently, I am obsessed with greyhounds, but I live in an apartment that doesn’t allow pets. I guess this means my perfect dog is still a fantasy, and I hope it is a story yet to be told…

I usually live on the west coast of Canada, but I’m currently in Oxford, UK, not actually attending the university but absorbing all the smartness that emanates from its general vicinity.

https://caroleecroft.wordpress.com/

 

 

 

 

 

Beguiling something far more dangerous. The non-villainry of the Hellfire Club

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 The tail end of Brittany’s little scene with Sir Francis Dashwood which takes place just after she finds out, not just  how to get home to her own time, but to finally stay there too. Oh, and her feet just happen to be killing her

“Anyway, whatever is said of us, we’re not as bad as all that.” Sir Francis’s muddy brown eyes held a slimy twinkle. “Just different. There’s one shoe on. Let’s get the other one for you.”

“Yes.”

“You know Mitchell thought you had come to us?”

“What? When?”

“Recently. He seemed to have trouble finding you.” He lifted her other foot. “Do you know he virtually accused me of stealing you?”

“Real—? Well.” She cleared her throat. “He was probably just . . . desperate. I left him a note because I was in such a hurry, but obviously it never reached him. The servants Christian sent are so unreliable.”

“Christian?”

“Lazy, lying, conniving. What? You didn’t know she sent them to spy and report on everything we do, to her? They probably hid that note on purpose from him. She had to know though. She went and arranged this whole evening the second I was gone, in the hope I wouldn’t be here and Mitchell would be left high and dry. You have no idea of the spite of that creature.”

“Hmm. Well, I daresay it’s something we’re all capable of.”

“I’m sorry?”

“I said, didn’t I, that he used to come to our humble, little meetings?”

“I’m sure they’re anything but humble.”

“Well . . . Anyway but then he stopped. Maybe, you’ll be the one to bring him back?”

She might. But then again she wasn’t staying. She rose above her agony to fix on her warmest, most ingenious smile.

“Who knows what the future holds for any of us, Your Grace.” Unless you were Mort. Then it probably did hold certain non-existence. “But, who is to say indeed?”

“Of course he never really forgave us for Gabriella as such. The fact she preferred others to him. Silly, when he preferred so many to her.”

“You’re not saying that Gabriella pretended all that in order to make him jealous?”

“If she did, she did it well. Nor would you ever call Mitchell the jealous kind. No. That was a forced marriage of the worst kind. Still, why don’t you ask him?”

She offered her most enigmatic stare. “Why don’t you?”

“I would like to, my dear, but Mitchell and I don’t really get along any more, which was why I was so surprised he abased himself by visiting me. Here is your dear husband now. If you don’t mind, I shall make myself scarce.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Dashwood,_11th_Baron_le_Despencer

https://www.readyclickandgo.com/…/legend-and-history-the-hell-fire-caves-west-wyc…

 

 

 

Music That Means Something Challenge.

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Right dudes, that’s enough. Paul Andruss, in the short time I have known him,  has proved to be a wonderful author and a very kind and supportive friend. I love his blogs. They are fun and informative and I’m enjoying his choices

http://www.paul-andruss.com/

Paul is also writer in residence over at Sally Cronin’s blog

Writer in Residence- Paul Andruss https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/writer-in-residence-writer-paul-andruss/

The posts are always a treat.

So? Without further ado, here’s my five and why out of all the music I’ve listened to and loved– and music has always been a huge thing in my life– I have chosen these pieces. The first I’ve got here twice because the first vid is only the tap dance–I can’t find the whole thing. But the tap dance? Well, let’s just say they don’t do them like this any more. AS to why I have really chosen this…read on.

Why did I choose this piece? It’s not of my era at all. Because the music I grew up with was these oldies. We lived in a tough sink scheme and we had an old gramophone

No, it wasn’t. Shut yir gub. It kinda looked like this.

And piles of old 78s, which the wee boy next door and me, used to drop paper and plastic astronaut figures from the Rice Krispies box on and watch them spin to see what would happen.  ( Usually a whack.  )  Yeah of course vinyl was invented but these oldies were the background to my life. People had very little. My dad, who was high up in bomb disposal, had come out the army.  He’d come back with my mum and sister from what was probably quite a glitzy life in Hongkong, to nothing.  No job. No house. This music reminds me of my mum and dad who originally belonged to THIS 30’s glamorous era, at least on the surface when in fact they were from far, far, worse tough and harder, than what I grew up in. It was an era where cinema was  a great escape and my hometown had a ton at that time.

Not long before my mum died, I had complimentary tickets to a special showing of Top Hat and I took her. I’m glad I did because she was enthralled. Before I get too sloppy..

‘I’m sorry I ate your fish,’ she said to him one night in the middle of a heated row after he’d weaved home from the local with a fish supper.

“So am I. I hope it chokes you,”  said he.

It’s that dynamic I try to get at in my books.

Next.

Let us NOT underestimate this NOT written by The Beatles song when it was sung by them. Forget everything they went on to do. Imagine that we have NEVER known of them and what they gave the world. Okay? On that same ‘Radiogram’ Elvis was banned. We were not allowed to listen to ‘certain’ kinds of music. The staple diet was, ‘Bali Hi’ ( WE LISTEN EVERY NIGHT, EVERY DAY) ‘Shall We Dance,’ –nothing wrong with that as I once helped demonstrate to a hall full of kids to the horror of my own when I re-enacted that scene for a giggle. AND to quote the words in that musical, our staple diet was etc etc., and crooners.

SO my big sis goes away for the summer to work and she comes back, having met her future hubby, an art student. (Get this, the now world famous photographer, then just another art student, Albert Watson,  was the best man at that wedding. ) And she whispers , ‘Come here.. .listen to this… You HAVE to listen to this. THIS is what is out there.’   And she puts on this sound that I have never heard –a very quickly snatched and scratched sound when our mum came in. I have to tell you, laugh all you like, but it was like a window on another world.

Talking windows, I include the above.  It’s music that means something after all. I preferred T. Rex in their folksie days but then you could not dance with your pals when your folks were out, the music blaring, the lights down, the neighbours complaining to the police,  to that. Hot Love and Jeepster now? A few years back at a Hogmanay Dance I bumped into a  friend I have known since I was 6, (CLEARLY FROM THAT ERA) but don’t see often and the DJ was asking for requests. So I gave him those for a laugh. And know what??? Yep. My pal rushed over and we got on the floor. I like to think folks stepped back cos we could still do all the steps to both, from those days. Hell. Once danced, never forgotten.  We did it for a challenge.

It was like how  you will always be certain things inside, no matter what. Not always easy in life but vital as breathing. Forget that and you forget everything. I still love to blare out Jeepster when I am cooking and do all the steps, with the carving knife and all……. Doot, doot, doot, chopping the veggies. ( Neighbours can complain all they like. Big mistake.)

Give this next choice a moment…

Ok. So sometimes life takes a hard twist. Hell, show me the straight path and I will laugh. That is why I won’t bore you with the details. I have two versions here because it depends if you like  noisy-ish or quiet.-Let’s just say I found something in the words and the tune.

So now we move on.  Talking dark twists, Nick Cave’s life has had a few. A few years ago my younger girl came to me one night and she said, ‘I have something to tell you and I don’t know what to do.’ And I couldn’t be happier or more blessed about what she did do, despite being in the middle of a law diploma, despite having no money, despite her partner just having set up for himself and having no work.  I have a lovely wee grandbaby who leaves me breathless every single time I see him. (And not cos he is a powerhouse.) He stills everything in me.  AND, the funniest thing? He first heard this favourite of mine on my last birthday, where he came in shouting ‘Partay!’ and jammed the Cd player up full volume (can’t think who he takes that off at age two and a half )  and he went, ‘Nina, we dance,’ and every time he hears it, he goes, ‘Nina, dance wi me,’ and he stands there and takes my hands. He has had my heart since I first saw him at half past three in the morning of the difficult night he was born. He always will.

Nominations? Please. All of you try boiling your life to five songs, cos in a way that is what you are doing, have a go  and post your choices. it is harder than you think. Even the dudes have shut it for once.

 

The Ba Bridge Monster and the Interview with the Rake…..

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Mitchell Killgower.  Vie? I’m sorry? Oh right. I have no idea. But if I was to hazard a guess, it’s probably because Brittany, my worst half, has told all kinds of lies about me.

Mitchell. Indeed I could. But as I said to Brittany, when she asked me if the tedious old bastard who runs it, beguiled women, ‘No, he beguiles something far worse. Ideas.’ I don’t know if Shey would be too pleased if you got any.  

Mitchell. I know. But as you’ve so often said yourselves, it’s not raining either.

Mitchell. The one who kept Shey’s latest heroine offering in about. Next?

Mitchell. I wouldn’t know.  You’d have to ask her but she’s dead. Unless you’re planning on joining her? Whatever way I seem to have with women does not extend to wives, or pretend ones. But she squirmed whenever I went near her.  So I didn’t because I’m not all bad.

Mitchell. A friend.

Mitchell. Frankly? If you gentlemen helped me secure my inheritance, you could stay where you damn well wanted. In fact, if I’d known you gentlemen and ladies were so helpful I’d have paid you, not Brittany, to sort out my ex sister-in-law, Christian  and her husband, (who is also my uncle) Clarence, and ruin my son, Fleming. How does that sound?   

Mitchell. The question is, does she want to marry you?

Mitchell. I think you’ll find the word is ‘thought ‘and I also thought, I’d be –

 making the mistake of his life to let her back in.

 

Mitchell. So please don’t label me a romantic. I’m not.

 

Mitchell. Fine. Have it your own way.  Anyway, dudes it has been nice meeting you all.

Mitchell. Not what Brittany found out. Well… not as you seem to think.

Mitchell. In fact I’m very open and honest.

 

 

 

 

 

Non interview with the rake.

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“Excuse me? My footman lover?”

Your. After all, it’s not as if I didn’t offer to pay you for your help, Miss Carter. Now, if you don’t mind.” He picked up the brush. “You’re blocking my light.”

“But I’m not even in your bloody light.”

“Maybe not my bloody light.” He peered at the canvas. Another blob needed fixing. He reached for the royal blue. “Certainly my ordinary one.”

What the hell was that flying past his nose? A splattering pot of water? The jug of hyacinths? Whatever it was she’d minced right up to his masterpiece, grabbed something from the side table. Water spattered into his eye. Dribbles ran like ants down the canvas.

“There. Now, it doesn’t matter a bloody damn about the light.”

So? The ice had fire, the tiger showed its claws. He’d wondered when that was going to be. Actually, now he flicked the water from his eye, the painting was a slight improvement. She was waiting for a reaction. It was time the wind rattled her bones.

“You know, you might be right if I can make some money with this.”

“Oh don’t be ridiculous, that kind of shit never makes any money.”

“And you’d know this, would you?”

“Me?”

He was sorry he couldn’t help it but he couldn’t. “‘You will scream your pleasure and pain and worship me every day of your wretched life, oh wretched maiden,’ Roof,’ please do tell me how to pronounce that by the way, I wasn’t entirely sure and Ruaf sounded like a dog would. ‘Roof glared into the face of the woman who had given him this trouble—’

Her eyes stood out like sparkling granite. “Where did you get that?”

“Where you keep these things you busy yourself on and what I see of them in passing is not important.” He pushed the chair back, crossed to the empty hearth. “I’m done with this.”

“Why are you grasping the bell pull?”

“Why do you think?”

“You’ve often told me I don’t.”

“Then let me put you out of your misery.” The tug he gave was satisfying. “To summon your lover, Miss Carter, since you seem incapable of leaving of your own accord.”

“I’d sooner you didn’t.”

“And why is that? Because he doesn’t know what you’re up to?”

 

 

 

 

The dudes meet Brittany Carter and the Ba Bridge Monster

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https://t.co/USdsZJm1XP

https://t.co/1mkvc3HGqn

 

 

Brittany : Darlings, I don’t steal. It’s called re-appropriation. And I am very generous towards myself that way.

Brittany. Mitchell is fanciful.  It’s a family trait.  You don’t want to believe a word he says.

Brittany. Me? Three slices of pork?  What do you think I am? Desperate? As for anyone helping themselves to anything, I hope you are going to ask him about my six packets of fags. All right it was three.

Brittany. A recipe? Are we kidding here? What do you think I am Mrs Beeton’s cookbook? As I said to Mitchell, ‘I think we’ve all got it that I’m not  a Georgian housewife,’ all right?’

Brittany. I thought I had.  I mean this speaks for itself doesn’t it?

 Brittany. Well darlings, where else would you be kept? I mean let’s face it, you have everything there, lovely little beds of straw, nice corners where you can play with your balls all day. What’s the problem? If Sebastian hadn’t done that I would have run a mile I tell you. But maybe he’d have liked that.

Brittany,  Oh now then dudes, there really is no need to get your little hamster knickers in a twist assuming you wear them.  Why do people always want to throw things at me?  Oh very well. So long as you don’t eat my fags or drink my voddie we’re good, little dudes and I swear to uphold the rights of little hamster dudes to fight for world domination.  Do we have a deal here?

 Brittany. All right darlings, it’s been lovely meeting you too. Now I really must go, you know pop off down to supper, even though it’s unlikely there will be anything to eat there… Unless…

Brittany. What’s that? Some sort of exotic cocktail? You know I thought you lot welcomed writers here?

Brittany Well darling here’s what I think.

Brittany-  and that goes for hamster dudes too. Unless you’re going to you know– open the vodka and do the Cossack dance for me like you do for everyone else? Hmm?? I don’t know about you but I am gasping. A shot of that Uzi would be nice…

Welcome Blithe Spirit. Hamstahs too.

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https://t.co/lfBIBofFeU

Welcome Blithe Spirit by Shehanne Moore

 Do ghosts wander the face of the earth?

And if they do, would they be welcomed?

I guess that depends on the writer. Noel Coward certainly turned the idea into a farce in Blithe Spirit, when the dead wife turns up. 

 Daphne du Maurier did something quite different with Rebecca.  Rebecca may not appear as a ghost but her presence clings to every scene. And there is no doubt she casts a huge shadow over her husband, Max. 

And yes, I welcome both these ‘spirited’ ladies because I find them much more interesting than the wives currently in situ, although I might not say that if they came to tea.

Ghosts are said to be restless spirits and the interesting thing is that they exist in every culture, ancient ones especially. Look at the idea of Halloween being the Day of the Dead, where  people left spaces at the table for their loved ones who were no longer with them. 

 Ghosts are invariably bound up with the idea of an afterlife—blame the Greeks for the Underworld, and rivers that we cross. But what if we don’t? Because also invariably, ghosts have unfinished business. 

The heroine of my new release

is not a ghost but she does go to bed in 2017 and wake up in 1765. And, after her initial, ‘it’s a dream and think of the book she can write from this, scenario’ she comes to the conclusion that her ex fiancé has murdered her in her sleep, after she moved into his spare room  with a random guy, in a bid to get her name off a joint mortgage. (As you do.) The afterlife, of course, isn’t what she thinks—how do any of us really know what it might or might not be?—but she is certain that the possibility of getting back to haunt her ex isn’t that daft. Just think about the kind of ‘dead’ person you might be here in terms of unfinished business. Is there anyone you would want to haunt and why? 

While there’s not any ghosts in the book, I suppose that the spirit of the hero’s first wife—where did I get this idea about wives?—

hangs over him. I never thought about that when I was writing it. But he never loved her, she hated him. His family insisted on the match when he was too young to argue.

Okay and he’d er… got a servant into trouble.

Because of that he’s gone to hell in a handcart since. Her clothes, her shoes, are all lovingly kept by their son, Fleming, who resembles her in every way and consequently is the daily reminder that everyone holds him responsible for her death. 

As if that’s not enough about  ‘ghosts’ in someone’ s life, because let’s face it, we don’t need to see or feel them, they don’t even need to be there, for the dead’s influence to taunt and haunt from beyond the grave, her sister, Christian, went and married the hero’s old uncle. Why? So she can stop him inheriting what is rightfully his, of course. And not just that. She has the  ’hots.’ 

To say 

is saying how much he is capable of sinning, because he’s plenty sinned against.  

 Here’s an extract from where Brittany, having fallen out a first floor window and broken a priceless Ming dynasty vase in a bid to escape the carriage she thinks had come to take her to hell, does a quick bit of re-thinking.  You can tell that despite the title of this post she’s not welcome….

“Wife? Mitchell?” 

As Christian spoke, Brittany strove to look composed, serene. She’d fallen down the rope, somehow broken that vase, nearly broken her neck, except she couldn’t break her neck. She’d already been murdered by Sebastian. These things were bad enough. Had she mentioned that Mitchell Killgower was transfixed with horror?

She is not—”

“But she is very, very nice, Aunt Christian, the mother I never had, so we are all getting along . . .getting along quite famously in fact.”

Brittany struggled to her feet, dug in her pocket, fished out her fags. What a bloody awful thing it was being dead. Even her fag was so bent, getting it between her lips was such a mammoth task, it took three attempts. Five if she counted keeping her hand steady enough to ping her lighter and suck long and hard, wreathing herself in delicious, such needed smoke. She sucked even harder, while she considered her next move. It wasn’t biting her nails, or being pushed into the carriage. She’d a new slant on the carriage. The fag was just what she needed to find her cool and face down whatever these things were. She’d already come to think, ‘ghoul one’ and ‘ghoul two.’ Mitchell made it ‘ghoul three.’

 “Are you sure your new mother is nice, dear, only . . . only she looks . . . Well, I really don’t know what to say.” 

“Believe me, darling, the feeling’s mutual.”

Mitchell‘s eyes were icy as polar caps. “May I say, for the benefit of those who are hard of hearing, this woman is not—” 

“Your wife?” The uncle’s shining, silver cravat pin nearly pinged from his cravat. He grasped his cane so tightly his knuckles were white as his hair.  “I should sincerely hope not. You know our terms and conditions on that. If this is the best you can do, then we should redraw our will now. Unless you’re going to try telling us she’s Fleming’s wife?”

“Well, Uncle, now that you come to mention it. At sixteen, it is about time. Half the boys in the county, if not the country, are already—” 

 “Oh, really? Mitchell . . .” Brittany took a deep breath and pinged her fag beneath the withered hydrangea. The afterlife wasn’t what she’d thought. If this wasn’t heaven, or hell, then it was some sort of place of atonement. Look at all these ghostly shrubs and trees for a start and those stone dragons poking out of the walls. 

 Ghosts did wander the face of the earth. These must be the ones with unfinished business who’d managed back. She wouldn’t rest till she’d done whatever it took to do that and make Sebastian’s life hell. Mitchell would know the way. Whatever this was about, put out her hand to the weary traveller and he’d owe her big time. Besides why should she suffer all these stinging cuts to her pride? She was the perfect homemaker. Look at all these rugs and pot plants she’d bought for Sebastian’s. The ones he’d thrown at her when there were rows.

   “All right, you win. So you were right. Your aunt and uncle can’t take a joke, but are you really going to let them talk to me like this? We both know I was locked in that room by . . . by a certain person and that person wasn’t you, my dearest. With hardly any clothes to speak of too? All for a joke? Hmm? Fleming, what do you have to say? Let’s hope it’s interesting?”

   “No, I never. How would I do that?”

     “Very, very easily, darling. Don’t lie to your great-uncle. It’s so unbecoming when he’s such a nice man.”

      “You mean, Fleming, you never had any clothes on either?”

         Fleming flushed scarlet. “Uncle. They took my clothes. They put me out wearing a bed sheet.”

         “But, you just said to your great aunt that your new mother was very nice. Well? Which is it to be? Are you lying to me, boy?” 

        “She . . . she is nice, Uncle Clarence. But, I didn’t lock her in my room. How could I?”

James Bond and the Dundee connection

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AH and aw in equal measures. Firstly AH because this the long awaited third book in the Hard To series featuring Incy Black’s own special Black ops. Aw, because she says trilogy although I hope that the exciting Freya Dervish will feature somewhere along the line in another book. No pressure there now Incy, just saying. Although I’ve read the other two books in the series, in many ways this book is a standalone.

In true spy honey trap tradition, Will Berwick, secret agent hot and complicated, is asked to seduce the secret of her brother’s whereabouts, from Dr Treherne, ice angel extraordinary. Not the best thing to ask him to do when she’s been evaluating him for months re his suitability to return to service.  Trust me when I say that you just know that in the not too distant future  Angel will be evaluating other aspects of his suitability because it’s plain they are under one another’s skins. However, Incy Black’s skill lies in keeping them at one another’s throats. This couple don’t give an inch for very personal reasons and it makes for great chemistry.  You want to know they will heal one another’s pain. A pain they don’t admit to. Add this to a plot full of twists and turns, Incy Black’s own unique voice,  and the result is explosive.

The Writer and The Rake. Chapter one.

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NOW DUDES  THAT IS NOT SO. What’s this then……

 

The Writer and The Rake. Chapter one the illustrated preview version.  Time Mutants series.

Chapter 1

Present Day. Dundee, Scotland.

If life was what happened as she dreamed, then what a bloody nightmare hers was right now. Flashlights pinged. “Sign this, Ms. Carter,” “Ms. Carter, over here,” “Brit-tany, Brit-tany,” screeched legions of adoring fans.

Some were trampled underfoot as she sashayed up stairs that dripped in red velvet, her carefully coiffed, exotically scented, chestnut hair framing her face, pink lips pouting, figure, slim as an ice pick in the little lime-green number she’d ordered from Saskia’s online. A snip at a thousand quid.

At least, in her fantasies people asked her for her autographs, her fans were being trampled and the dress cost that.

The truth?

Not even a mouse at her book signing in some shitty Scout hall.

Another parking ticket to stuff in the overflowing glove compartment. If only the compartment was a magician’s box that would make it vanish. A thwack, as one windscreen wiper tangled with the other, breaking it off and pinging it across the car bonnet in the rain battering off the tarmac.

And need she ask herself what that noise was? The tinkling of a broken tail light. Not hers. As for the dress? Sufficient to say that Zaskia’s wasn’t Saskia’s. So it was stuck in transit somewhere over Europe. She’d fit it all right. For the past week yogurt was all she could afford. Her stomach growled with hunger.

She stuffed her cigarette in the ashtray and creaked open the car door.

“Well, doesn’t this just make my day, ma’am? Stoopid. Stoopid.”

The icing on the cake. A shaven-headed, Neanderthal in a long leather coat, down on his haunches, squinting at his car bumper lying in the road. American, so probably born with a legal writ in his hand. She’d planned on picking up Rab by nine and it was already ten minutes to.

“Look, please don’t blame yourself.” She dragged her cigarettes and lighter from her raincoat pocket. “An accident can happen to anyone. I’m perfectly certain if it’s the first time—”

“Do you think I meant me?”

Forget being sued. On a sliding scale in a galaxy of last things, Rab disappearing to the pub for a quickie because she was late, was her biggest fear. She flicked her lighter, dragged the hot smoke into her lungs, let the heavenly scent waft up her nose.

“Well, darling, I sincerely hope you aren’t meaning me. I mean, I haven’t done anything wrong.”

“Brit. Hey, doll, is something up?”

Rab, proceeded by his beer belly, dark quiff plastered to his forehead, his feet rammed into unfastened trainers, splashed through the puddles, guzzling what looked like a half bottle of voddie in a brown paper bag. Or was it a full bottle? It didn’t bode well for taking her revenge on Sebastian when she was doing her best to stay calm.

“You might say, darling.”

“Fine. Why don’t I just get in the car then? Just—”

He almost fell his length while pawing the door handle. When she’d thought about picking him up, she should have realized it would be out of the gutter. She glanced the other way. At least he was here. Sebastian’s was only a fifteen-minute drive through the city and over the road bridge. They’d be there by nine thirty.

“I beg your pardon, ma’am.”

“Yes?”

Ignoring Rab, and the butterflies rising in her stomach, she flicked her gaze over the man on his haunches, streetlight gilding his face.

“Did he just say, Brit?”

She forced a smile. If he had her name and went to the police with it, that would be the end of the plan to sort Sebastian.

“Brita? Yes.”

He stood up, wiping grit and plastic specks from his palms, his voice just audible above the water gurgling down the drain, inches from her toes. “An unusual name. It’s not short for something, is it?”

“It’s second generation Norwegian actually.”

“Really? You don’t sound Norwegian.”

“Oh, I don’t sound a lot of things, that’s why everyone up here calls me a Sassenach. But my grandfather was Norwegian and my mother is English.”

“You don’t say. Brittany Carter? Yes?”

“And what’s that to you?”

Cold trickles of rain ran down her spine as she shot a glance at her car and more importantly Rab sitting like a mountain inside. With that long shiny raincoat and shaved head, this stranger’s faint scent of hot exhaust, mugging old ladies, and extorting money at knifepoint from women like her, were probably as much as he knew. Not that she had much money. He’d be sadly disappointed. Even if he read her books, it wouldn’t do to go leaping about the street. The trick was to appear calm even if she was actively fighting the urge to finger her neck. Waft a little smoke his way. “Well?”

“Fame, success, riches.”

“I think you must have mistaken me for someone else.”

“Nope.”

“Trust me, darling.”

“Fame, success, riches.”

“In your dreams. Last month’s royalty statement wouldn’t pay for a loaf of bread.”

His lips cinched. “I should have added, the choice is yours. So long as you do it wisely.”

“Goodness. That sounds just like a book blurb.”

“Perhaps.” He dug in his pocket. “It only takes one thing.”

Good God Almighty. An autograph? He was a fan? A man like him? Her publisher had stressed the importance of appealing to all sorts. Men. Women. Why argue? Especially when she hadn’t appealed to anyone and this man pulled out a folded square of soggy paper. This was an awful lot better than exchanging insurance details.

“Hold on.” She opened her bag. She wasn’t exactly short of pens. “Although I must ask, do you mean, perhaps it only takes one thing? Or, perhaps? And then, it only takes? Oh, never mind. You’ve bought my books? The Captive Viking? The Captive Viking’s Bride? Then, of course, there’s my latest, A Viking for the Saxon Prince. It’s not as it sounds. The Viking is a lady. Her name is Frigga. Yours is?”

“My name? I don’t see what my name—”

“Unless you want me to guess, which I have to tell you darling, I’m in no mood for. You want a personalization, don’t you?”

She stared at the silver raindrop trickling down his face. An escaped lunatic was the last thing she needed tonight.

“Well, I—I just need you to sign if you are Brittany Carter, then all these things I mentioned can be yours.”

“How kind, but I still need your name.”

“Morte.” His voice rumbled like distant thunder in his chest.

“Mort? How interesting. Short for Mortimer, or Mortmain, is it?”

He shrugged, his face dead as stone. The smile wasn’t a smile. “If you say so, lady.”

“Well, if you’ll just open the paper?”

She waited while he pulled the ends of the piece of paper apart. Screeds on it, in fancy rain-smeared lettering she could barely get her eyes in gear to decipher, stranger than the black symbols etched into his shaven head.

What were they? Crude attempts at reproducing crop circles? A problem with his barber? She screwed her eyes up tighter. She’d signed that mortgage with Sebastian without thinking after all. Now he kept defaulting. She couldn’t even get a credit card company to touch her. Shouldn’t she at least try to see, look knowledgeable, prevaricate? This might be an insurance disclaimer. He moved closer.

“Is there something wrong?”

She jerked up her head.

“Oh I—I—”

“Let me, ma’am.” He shrugged and turned around.

“I’m sorry?”

“You can sign it right there. Use my back as a desk.”

How obliging. More so than any man she’d ever met and she wanted to get to Sebastian’s tonight. Besides, she’d dreamed of this. What possible harm could there be? She tossed the cigarette aside, stepped forward, wedged the piece of paper between his soaking shoulder blades.

“All good wishes.” She scrawled in the wet creases. “‘To Mortimer, my only, I mean my number one fan, with love from Brittany Carter.’ How’s that? Now, if you don’t mind, I really must be getting on my way.”

“Not at all, Brittany. It’s very good of you to sign. Just . . . just remember what I said about choice. It’s important you choose wisely, do you understand?”

“Your car . . .”

He’d asked for her autograph and now she glanced down in the yellow light. That was quite a dent in the boot.

“Don’t worry about it.” A shrug of his expansive shoulders. “I won’t need it where I’m going.”

“Somewhere close at hand, is it? After all, you wouldn’t want to get wet in all this rain if there’s a problem with it.” Or cadge a lift. She dropped the pen back into her bag. “Now, talking rain, I really must go. But, so lovely to have met you, Mort. Take care of yourself, won’t you?”

She nearly shot out of her skin. Thunder clapped right above her head. The street lamps flickered. Sparks showered on the cobbled road inches from her toes so she’d done her damndest to stand there and muffle the shriek. Mort merely stared.

“You should go.”

“Yes.”

“Now.”

“I will. Don’t hang about yourself. Goodbye.”

She sloshed towards the car, relief and alarm coating her skin. Rab had fallen over and was sprawled across her seat. She shoved him upright, squeezed inside.

“There you are, Brit. What was all that about?”

She stuck a cigarette between her teeth. “Not that you were paying any attention, but it was a fan.”

“You?”

“Well, I do have some, darling.”

“Did I say you didn’t?”

“You didn’t have to.” She glanced in the mirror. “His name’s Mort and he wanted my autograph.”

So badly he was splayed on his knees kissing the paper in a dancing sea of rain, raising it heavenwards, the hem of his coat frothing in a perfect circle around him. The unlit cigarette dangled from her lower lip. Who needed a legion of fans when she’d one like this? She’d better be careful driving away. It would be terrible to run him over.

Jesus!”

Rab’s yell split her eardrums. The bolt of lightning hadn’t just struck behind them. It had struck Mort. Her fan. Her only fan had flames licking all over his coat. And he knelt there, doing nothing. She must save him. She couldn’t lose her only fan. There would be no one to buy her next book.

“Quickly Rab, the extinguisher.” She raked under the seat. “Get the car rug. Hurry. Hurry. Phone 999.”

“Jeez, Brit, what the hell do you think I am? Superman?”

“Now. Now.”

She stumbled out, grabbed the extinguisher. Flames pooled at the hem of Mort’s outspread coat. They spread like golden butter up the coat itself while he sat with his eyes closed, his dark brows in a straight line, his lips too. The acrid smell of burning leather stung her nostrils. Fortunately her eyes didn’t water. She could see.

“Mort!”

Her unlit cigarette was still wedged between her teeth. It gave her something to bite down on as she took aim. Foam scooted in a frothy jet, spattering Mort’s rugged face, covering his eyelids like snow. “It’s fine, darling. I’ve got you.”

“That’s what I’m afraid of.”

“You don’t have to be afraid.”

Shock obviously did things to a person. It’d done things to Mort. He couldn’t see blackened, smoking holes punctured his coat and seared his flesh. He hadn’t even fallen over.

“Rab has phoned an ambulance.”

“That too.”

“I’m sorry?”

“You’ve interrupted a process here.”

She bit her lip, the cigarette along with it, scooshed more foam. “Well, if that’s your head going up in flames, I’m glad I did. Or you’d be crisped, darling. Now, just let me get that blanket for you.”

“Do you think that is going to solve anything? A goddamned blanket?”

She turned. The poor man. She shook the blanket out and tucked its soft folds around his shoulders before he got even more aggressive. At least it would be warm. Good for shock.

“There. Let’s just get this properly round you. That’s it. There. Till the ambulance gets here.”

His dark eyes, weary beyond ages held hers. “No. You don’t understand. This is about choices. You just made the wrong one.”

wandr-emmemHe saw her coming. If he’d known her effect he’d have walked away.

When it comes to doing it all, hard coated ‘wild child’ writer, Brittany Carter ticks every box. Having it all is a different thing though, what with her need to thwart an ex fiancé, and herself transported from the present to Georgian times. But then, so long as she can find her way back to her world of fame, and promised fortune, what’s there to worry about?

Georgian bad boy Mitchell Killgower is at the center of an inheritance dispute and he needs Brittany as his obedient, country mouse wife. Or rather he needs her like a hole in the head. In and out of his bed he’s never known a woman like her. A woman who can disappear and reappear like her either.

And when his coolly contained anarchist, who is anything but, learns how to return to her world and stay there, will And when his coolly contained anarchist, who is anything but, learns how to return to her world and remain, will having it all be enough, or does she underestimate him, and herself?

 

 

 

Incy Black on these special secret agents.

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Spies, no condoms by Incy Black

Nil illegitimi carborundum – don’t let the bastards grind you down. The bastards being anyone in authority worshiping the god of ‘red tape’, about whom I personally harbour deep-seated suspicions.

Which probably accounts for my thrill of a good conspiracy—lardy-arsed officialdom, the villain—and my cheering on of the men and woman who thumb their nose at the ‘rules’ but being smart, swallow their resounding ‘fuck off’ behind a grin—smiling crocodiles, if you like.

Hence my love affair with spies, spooks and secrets. The corruption of loyalties, the lies and deceptions, and the down right rude. Evident in one of my favorite quotes from Hard to Protect: “You stick your head any further up Butters’s arse, Berwick, and no one will be able to hear you singing Rule Britannia.” Angel, the heroine, is giving the hero a right gobful, at this point.

Whitehall and the British Intelligence Service, clashing head on, the perfect arena where the bad boys (and girls) get to behave outrageously, all respect for pretty much anything but ‘the win’ withheld. Insubordination and insolence paving the way. Must be why they call espionage ‘The Game’ because it’s fun and in it’s own way, heroic.

 

And who is responsible for distorting my view of what is mischievous?

 

Why Rudyard Kipling (Kim) and Ian Fleming (James Bond), of course. Both recognized the excitement of ‘finding trouble’, who cares that neither is now politically correct. The romance of bad boys is that they are virile, sexy, unapologetic, and defiant as all hell.

Bond with his fast cars, his smoking, gambling and drinking—dry martinis, shaken not stirred. His womanizing—not a condom in sight. The sanctioned killings—the bodies of opponents piled high. All for queen and country? My arse.

It takes a special kind of damaged to kill. A fierce addiction to adrenaline to put yourself in a position of doing so. And that in itself is fascinating.

Spooks and assassins, on the side of good or nefarious, like—or is it a need—to live as large as their stories. And long may they and their thrills clutter our pages, for they are the dash of colour in the Establishment’s grey.

 

 

BLURB:

 Some Black Op missions are too dark—even for him.

Volcanic hot and ambitious Special Agent Will Berwick doesn’t give a damn what his orders are, he’s not taking the enemy—the lovely, but arctic Dr. Angel Treherne—to bed. Nor will she die on his watch, most certainly not by his hand. Oh, he’ll root out her secrets. But his own way—teaching her a much-deserved lesson while he’s at it: that no one messes with his career plan just because they’re a little peeved with him.

Caught up in a tangled web of deceit and betrayal, psychotherapist Angel trusts no one—certainly not alpha-cocky, cunning Will Berwick. First he’s hostile, then he’s charming, now he wants to protect her? Why? What’s he hiding? With her life—and heart—on the line, she needs to know.

With the risks high and personal, can Will and Angel agree the dangerous choices they must make?

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