Sunday, 27 April 2014

Guest blog: Anna Jacobs - 'The Trader's Reward'

1871. When Fergus Deagan's wife dies in childbirth, she makes him promise to take their family to Western Australia to join his brother Bram, also to marry again. She's right. His young sons and newborn daughter do need a mother's love and he needs something different.

Disowned by her father for becoming pregnant, Cara Payton bears a stillborn baby. She's in deep despair, until a plea to wetnurse a motherless baby gives her life new purpose. When Fergus proposes marriage, she accepts. She respects him and is happy to stay with the baby she now loves.

During the voyage to Australia, she and Fergus draw closer. Then her past rears its ugly head and they face a terrible crisis.

When they finally get to Fremantle, Fergus and Bram, always rivals, struggle to make friends. To make matters worse, Bram has financial problems and there is no railway where Fergus can find engineering work. Can the two brothers solve their problems? Will the newcomers find a way to build a new life?

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The family she was to help lived in a terrace of bigger houses than the one Cara had been living in for the past few months, and these houses were all in much better repair. Mrs Sealey had told her Mr Deagan was assistant to one of the engineers at the Swindon Railway Works and this house showed that he was doing well.

She’d had only a tiny attic room for the past few months, with a privy across the communal back yard and a tap next to the back door. Mr Deagan had a whole house for his family and there were private yards behind each of these houses.

Taking a deep breath, she followed the midwife inside.

‘I’ve brought you a wet nurse, Mrs Grady. This is Cara Payton. Her baby was stillborn two days ago. She’s a widow. She has plenty of milk, so she can feed little Niamh, but she’ll need housing. And paying, too, of course.’

Alana Grady studied the young woman, who looked wan and weary, but healthy enough. If she’d lost her own baby, no wonder she looked sad. ‘What happened to your husband, dear?’

‘An accident at the railway works—’ Mrs Sealey began.

‘I won’t lie to them,’ Cara said, staring defiantly at Mrs Grady. ‘I was attacked by a man as I walked home from the shops at dusk. I was too ashamed to tell anyone. And then . . . I found I was expecting a child. I didn’t even know what was happening to me. My mother had to tell me. My father threw me out, said I was a fallen woman now and he wouldn’t have me or my bastard under his roof.’

Alana looked at Mrs Sealey, not sure what to say to this.

The midwife went to put her arm round the girl. At twenty-two and so unused to the ways of the world, she seemed a mere girl to her. ‘I know Cara’s aunt. She and I believe the girl about the attack, so we’ve helped her as best we can. But with the baby dead and the money running out, Cara needs to earn her daily bread.’

There was a wailing cry from the corner of the room and they all looked across at the squirming bundle. 

The baby continued to cry and Cara moved slowly across the room, as if she was sleepwalking. 

Mrs Sealey held Alana’s arm and shook her head, mouthing, ‘Let her.’
Cara stared down into the drawer they were using as a cradle. The baby was tiny, smaller than her poor dead baby, even. It looked sad and lost as it wept for sustenance. Its distress touched her heart as nothing else had done since the attack all those months ago – nothing except her own child’s death, that was.

She bent down instinctively to pick up the infant and comfort it. ‘There now. There.’ As she cradled it against her, it stopped crying and stared up at her, blinking as if the light from the kitchen window hurt its eyes.

The light hurt her eyes too, because they were sore and swollen from weeping.

She turned to face the two older women. ‘If I can save this baby’s life, I will. It’ll bring good out of evil, at least.’

She waited, rocking the baby slightly, an instinctive action which seemed to soothe it.

The midwife nodded. ‘Very well. Let’s see if we can get her to feed. Let me help you unbutton your bodice.’

Cara looked round, blushing. ‘Here? What if someone comes in?’

It was the blush which made Alana’s mind up. Suddenly she too believed the 
girl’s story. ‘We’ll go into the front room. I’ll make sure no one else disturbs us.’

‘I’ll show you how to do it,’ Mrs Sealey said in her usual brisk tone.

Exposing her body to a complete stranger was a further humiliation to Cara. But when the baby began tugging desperately at her breast, when the milk started to flow, so did her own tears. But this time they were tears of hope and healing.

She looked at the midwife. ‘I really might be able to save her life, mightn’t I?’ 

‘Nothing’s certain with babies that small, dear, but you can give her a chance, the only chance she’s likely to get.’ And that child can save you, too, Mrs Sealey thought, but didn’t say that.

By the time Fergus came home from making arrangements to bury his wife, the two older women had settled everything between them.

Cara was to stay in the Gradys’ house with the baby until after the funeral, then the boys would move into their father’s bedroom, and the Gradys would move their things to Fergus’s house, into the front room downstairs, leaving Cara and the baby with the back bedroom. 


Anna Jacobs has had almost 70 novels published in the genres of historical, modern and fantasy fiction, as well as short stories and articles. She is one of Australia’s most successful authors and brings riveting story lines and heart-warming writing to a legion of fans around the world.

Anna Jacobs lives in both Western Australia and the UK, spending time in each country every year. She uses her love of these areas to produce powerfully written modern and historical novels that span those countries. She receives numerous fan emails each week, and her readers most commonly tell her that they can’t put down her novels!

Visit Anna at

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Guest blog: Shehanne Moore - 'Loving Lady Lazuli'

A woman not even the ghost of Sapphire could haunt.

Only one man in England can identify her. Unfortunately he’s living next door.

Ten years ago sixteen year old Sapphire, the greatest jewel thief England has ever known, ruined Lord Devorlane Hawley’s life. Now she’s dead and buried, all the respectable widow, Cassidy Armstrong, wants is the chance to prove who she really is.

A man who knows exactly who she is.

 But not only does her new neighbor believe he knows that exactly, he’s hell-bent on revenge.  All he needs is the actual proof.  So when he asks her to choose between being his mistress, or dangling on the end of a rope, only Sapphire can decide…

 What’s left for a woman with nowhere left to go, but to stay exactly where she is?

And hope, that when it comes to neighbors, Devorlane Hawley won’t prove to be the one from hell.

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The blinding light from Barron’s driver’s lantern dazzled her for a second, so she’d to fight not to shield her face. But not before she saw Ruby was also there, armed with a broom handle. She had perhaps gone a little far. But going a little far was better than going nowhere at all. She clutched her robe tighter. Having started this, she might as well finish it.
Devorlane Hawley would know better than to trouble her again.
“He… He… I—I can’t.” The tears that glistened in her eyes were masterful. “I can’t speak of it.”
Especially not as Devorlane Hawley now swung around and grasped the broom handle. Though why he grasped the broom handle, and what he meant to do with it, was as mysterious as finding herself in a situation where a broom handle was involved in the first place. In some ways anyway.
“Jeezuz! Sorrr…”
Her blood pounded as the lantern flew from Barron’s hand. The tinkle of glass was muffled by her shriek. Boiling tallow wax spattered the hem of her robe.
She barely had time to acknowledge it as Devorlane Hawley barred Barron’s throat with the broom handle, pinning his wheezing bulk to the wall. What was that thought she’d had several moments ago, when she’d first opened the door? The one about him seeing it all and experiencing nothing?
This had somehow taken a turn for the worse. If Barron got killed here she was going to look very good explaining that to the magistrates. And the way Devorlane Hawley deliberately turned his head, feasted his eyes on her face, said the choice was hers.
How horrible was that when obviously she couldn’t allow it. Although this, damn it, should be about her being attacked, not Barron. She snatched at the handle. No easy task when she’d a robe to keep shut.
“Let him go.”
“Aye. Don’t ‘ee think ‘ee and yore fancy boots ‘ull get away wi’ this. Oih’ll defend ‘ee, moih lydy. Oih’ll get him. Leave this ter me.”
“That’ll be interesting.” Devorlane Hawley tossed his hair out his eyes. “You.” He jerked his head at Ruby.
“Whot? Me?”
He dragged a breath. “Unless you think I am somehow meaning the tree there? Fetch Lord Koorecroft.”
Lord Koorecroft? The county’s most senior magistrate? A turn for the worse? Now it was a somersault. A woman who planked a stolen necklace on this specimen should not blush to say it was rape. She would have to if he fetched Lord Koorecroft, because then there would be the matter of what the damned man could say to Lord Koorecroft. Being dead and buried might not be enough to save her then. Not when her crimes had been dutifully reported by every newspaper up and down the land. She would hang.
“Lord Koorecroft?” Ruby smoothed a copper tendril of hair back from her forehead. “Whot soddin’ fer?”
“What do you think it’s soddin’ for? To accuse me of rape and molestation. It won’t be difficult. He’s at Chessington right now. You can cut through the hedge. Go on.”
“That’ll be shiny bright.” Fortunately Ruby could always be counted on to do absolutely nothing. “What do yer think I am exactly? Yer bleedin’ servant?”
“’Ee got no roight after what ee—”
Barron made a strangled sound as Devorlane Hawley jerked the stick so hard across his windpipe, Cass was almost jerked off her feet.
“I have every right. You all want Lord Koorecroft fetched, don’t you?” He huffed out a breath. “So let’s fetch him. I’m relishing the thought of the little chat I’m going to have with him about our Mrs. Armstrong here.”
Cass’s hackles rose. Why, he himself used the word rape. Did he think she wouldn’t accuse him when her back was to the wall like this? The thought stole that stepping out here, dressed as she was, might require no small explanation.
Would it not be better to placate him? Or best still, push the stick herself in the hope he might take it as an invitation to depart before he got into trouble? She tightened her grip.
“How dare you speak to my companion this way. Ruby, stay exactly where you are.”
Yes, it would be better to placate him. But if anyone was going to order Ruby, it would not be him.
“Wif pleasure, Cassidy.”
Another vicious jerk of the stick. His breath, like hers, like Ruby’s, hit the air in a freezing white puff. It also hit her. “Very well. How about I tell this man here—what’s the name?”
“’Ee touch a solitary ‘air on moih lydy’s ‘ead—”
“How about I tell Barron about the man who will touch not just that solitary hair, Lady Armstrong? The one with the nice length of rope who will touch your whole head, with a sack, who will put that rope ‘round your—”
“Get ’im, Pearl!”
Dear God, while that would be very nice, if Cass didn’t do something, blood would be spilled. His. Of course it would be his own fault. But it would also be hers if she had to bury him in her herb garden. Besides she was unsure about Barron. Where he would stand on the matter of assistance. A broom handle may have been sawing his windpipe, but it did not mean he was one of them. What might be around the county tomorrow about her?
“Kill ’im! Toffee-nosed snout.”
Ruby sprung and Devorlane Hawley did not hit her back. Cass’s throat constricted, the noise that came from the back of it not one she would usually make. Men, certainly those of her acquaintance, would never do such a thing. Did or did her own back not bear witness to that fact? What Starkadder had done to her that day. And not just that day. Every day she’d refused to steal.
Of course, a corpse would make things inconvenient for her. Who would have thought he’d have retaliated like this, a powerful man like him, who had no fear of arrest, though? Plainly not herself or she’d never have opened her mouth. Let alone row with him over a kiss, a kiss she gave him so she could worm off the hook, a kiss which would be a complete waste if she didn’t stop this unraveling further, if they had to flee the county.
“Ruby. Ruby—no. No.
“Get orf of me, Cass.” Ruby tried wrenching the handle free—no doubt because her fists weren’t good enough. “I knows whot I’m doin’. Stickin’ it ‘round ‘ere like ‘e owns the bleedin’ place. Smarmy—”
“No, Ruby!”
“’E thinks ‘e knows. ‘E don’t know jack-shit. ‘E—”
“What the bloody hell is going on here?”
The voice—given it wheezed worse than a rusty gate hinge—still held that note. Unmistakable. Unbelievable. The one that always knifed right through Cass’s senses, freezing her. Bones. Marrow. Thoughts. To quote what Ruby had just said a few moments ago, wasn’t this just shiny bright?‎‎

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Guest blog: Faye Hall - 'She's a Lot Like You'

Willow Jameson knew nothing of her family’s past or their connection to the Morgan family when she first met Re Morgan.  All she seen was his ruggedly handsome appearance, his gentle words luring her into his strong embrace.  What she found was a passion beyond compare.

She couldn’t have foreseen the lies and family betrayal that would inevitably rob her of the man she loved and forever change her life.


Willow returned to the town life she loved so much, no longer ignorant to those who had separated her from the man she’d loved.  She was back now to make those responsible pay for all they’d taken from her.  In her search what she found was the hardened man Re Morgan had become…

…a man whose mere glance reignited a passion she had thought long since forgotten.

Re Morgan had left a horde of jilted lovers in his trail.  When he seen Willow again across the crowded dancehall, he wanted nothing more than to add her to this list.  Re wanted little more than a short, heated affair.

What he became involved in was far more scandalous than he could have ever imagined.


Willow stood with her back to Re, never able to see his approach. She didn’t even see the look of horror on his face...nor did he see the gleam of tears on her cheeks. All he saw was her being held in Chris’s arms, her body only a breath away from his. It was a closeness he knew was far from accepted in polite society.

It was a closeness he shared with her...had thought to only share with her.

Looking to his friend, Re silently pleaded with him. He needed to hear him say it was all just a misunderstanding. He needed him to put at ease the quickly growing doubt in his heart.

But he didn’t hear any of this. All he saw was the obvious lust gleaming in the young man’s eyes.

Chris cocked his brow, as if it was obvious their reason for being together. When Re looked at him, begging to know the truth, Chris’s smile turned into an obvious sneer.

Slowly, he shrugged his shoulders.

“How could I refuse?” he muttered, his words almost a whisper.

Hearing this short statement through her distress, Willow knew someone had found them. Raising her tear-covered face from Chris’s shoulder she tried to free herself from his unrelenting grasp. Realising her struggles were useless, she turned in his arms to see who had approached them. Only too late did she realise just how suggestive her position would look.

Her eyes’ meeting the hurt and pain in Re’s eyes, Willow knew instantly what he was concluding of what he was seeing.

“Re,” she whispered, almost desperate.

His dark stare turned hateful.

“Damn you both to hell!” he spat at them, immediately turning back to make a quick return to the estate house.

“Re,’ she again called after him, struggling against Chris’s tight hold.

When Chris didn’t let her go despite her struggles, she turned slightly and pushed him away with all her might.

“You son of a bitch,’ she spat at him, suddenly realising this man’s intentions.

“I may be, madam,” he replied casually. “Yet even you can’t deny what you wanted when you lured me out here.”

Her dark eyes narrowed with hate.

“I hope you rot in hell, you bastard!”

Turning quickly, Willow ran after Re’s retreating figure. She knew what he must be thinking, but he had to know she played no willing part in it. He had to know the truth.

“Willow,” Chris called after her, slight anger in his tone. “Damn it, you know you want this as much as I do.”

But she never turned back to him. She only kept chasing the retreating figure of the man she loved.

Red Sage Publishing, Inc. © 2013 All Rights Reserved


Faye Hall is an Australian author published with Red Sage Publishing. Her tales are all set in rural towns of North Queensland, Australia in the late 1800's.
Her second eBook, 'She's a Lot Like You' will be release April 2014. Set in Ravenswood, Queensland 1860, the story spans 10 years, and illustrates the constant struggles two people have to endure to be together.  They have to overcome scandal, lies, and a tie between their families neither are aware of until it is too late.
Faye’s debut eBook, 'My Gift To You' was released late 2012.  It is set in the small Burdekin shire, Queensland close to where Faye grew up. Starting in 1866, ‘My Gift To You’ tells the struggles two young people have, one hunting for those that murdered her parents, the other struggling to fit into the society around him.  Together they find a passion filled love they’d dared not dreamed existed.
Throughout the script, Faye has mentioned a few native Australian icons such as Black Opals and Gidgy seeds, her way of including some of her countries unique heritage into her script.
A third eBook has also been contracted also with Red Sage titled 'Mistress of Purity'. Set between the townships of Sarina and Proserpine, it promises to bring suspense…scandal and intrigue unlike no other. There’s old estate houses…secrets passageways…murderers…hidden desires…
Faye’s books can be purchased direct from Red Sage at:-
From Amazon:-
Also you can visit Faye’s blog and website for any updates:-
Or find her on social networks:-

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Guest blog: Elaine Violette - 'A Kiss of Promise'

Adventurer Martin Blackstone escapes the stuffy rituals of England to seek his destiny in America. He leaves Alaina Craymore behind, believing she is better off without him. Suffering under the scandalous circumstances surrounding her father’s death, only Alaina’s love for Martin and the memory of their one stolen kiss have kept Alaina steady. But she hasn’t heard from Martin in far too long and cannot wait forever in the hopes that he will return from America. Just as Alaina begins to recover, one of her father’s associates emerges from the shadows with a choice—she must pose as his fiancĂ©e in America or he’ll send her brother to prison on charges of forgery. Willing to endure ruin and an uncertain future, Alaina agrees—she can do no less for the brother who’s spent his entire life protecting her. Only the man who spurned her can save her from the black mailing scoundrel and a ruined reputation.

Martin hasn’t forgotten Alaina or the kiss they shared. When word of her sacrifice reaches him, he’ll move heaven and earth to find her and make her his, no matter the cost.
Will the strong-minded, independent Alaina chose ruin over the fear that a marriage proposal has been offered out of duty rather than love?

 A Kiss of Promise continues the story of the Blackstone brothers, introduced in Regal Reward. It will be released on April 3rd, 2014 by Ellora’s Cave Publishing under their Blush imprint and is presently available for pre-order on Amazon.


It was much too late to hope for his love. She had compromised her decency beyond redemption. What a mess she’d made of her life.  She still had nightmares of the night her father died, of the gun slipping from her fingers. The dreams had lessened during the year spent with Aunt Cornelia. She had gained some hope for her future, but now she lived in a stranger’s home under the guise of being a widow and strolled the streets in a gaudy pink gown.  Martin would certainly shun her. Better not to think of him.

When they reached the gates set up where the auction was being held, Harrington drew her to a quieter spot but near enough to watch the goings on.

“Remain here, Alaina. I must have words with one of the sellers before the carriages go up for auction. He waved a hand toward a bench that had one remaining seat available.  Do not move from this place.  You know what is at stake if I can’t find you when I return.”

Alaina’s mouth thinned but she nodded her acquiescence. When Harrington strode off, she signaled for Maria to take the empty seat. The woman was older and Alaina preferred to stand and observe the crowd.  As the minutes went by the crowd grew. She glanced toward her chaperone, though she had to rise up on her tiptoes to have the bench in view. She was surprised to see Maria in an animated conversation with another woman. Their hand gestures suggested their own excitement over the venue.  How she wished that she could find a friend in this mob of foreigners.

That was her last thought before clutching her throat. Martin.  He was there in the crowd, standing taller than those about him.  Her eyes grew wide as she watched him saunter casually toward where she stood. He hadn’t seen her. She watched his agile gait, his expression, one of expectation, even determination as he strode closer. She opened her mouth but clamped it shut again. She clenched her fingers into the folds of her skirt—she didn’t know what to do. Should she run to him, plead for his help, or hide? Instead of doing either, she stood paralyzed. She couldn’t believe that it was truly him. He drew closer and his eyes darted in her direction. He stopped when he saw her, nearly causing a man behind him to stumble back into the crowd.

She saw the disbelief in his features as he pushed his way through the throng, his eyes never leaving hers.  She didn’t move, every ounce of her being wanting to run to him, while a warning within her kept urging her to flee.

“Alaina? By God, it’s really you.” He rushed to her side, breathless, grasping her upper arms. “What are you doing here?” He scanned her surroundings. “Who are you with? I can’t believe you’re here.”

She stared up at him, the sensation of his strong hands on her arms, rapturous.  She didn’t want the warmth that encompassed her to end. She dared to lift her fingers and grasp his forearms, feeling the heat of his body beneath his shirt sleeves. Her lips trembled. She had to get hold of herself, say something.

“Martin,” she finally breathed. “I-I, I never expected to see you.  Richard…” she swallowed as the story she must tell him, formed in her mind. “I have come with my brother. He is here to handle some business affairs.  He is in there.” She pointed past the gates, in the direction where Philip had disappeared. “He wanted to look at the items at auction.  He preferred I wait here.” She was amazed that she could utter even a sound or put a sentence together. She’d believed she could fall no further, yet she’d become worse than disgraced, she’d become a shameful liar. Would he believe her? She continued, the words invented as she uttered them. “My maid came along and is over there, on the bench.” She waved a hand, thankful the bench was now fully hidden by the crowd moving forward.

“Alaina, I have thought of you often. And to see you here, I’m speechless.  Are you…how was your voyage? How long have you been in Boston?”

She realized that he was as tongue-tied as she and just as shocked at their meeting. Somehow, she needed for him to leave her. Her prayer had been answered only for her to realize how futile it was. As soon as she’d spoken her brother’s name, only seconds before, she had regained her senses and her purpose. She could not involve Martin, not now.  Phillip would return at any minute. She feared his reaction if she saw them talking. She had to complete her mission alone and deny her dreams.

A Blush® historical romance from Ellora’s Cave

Elaine is a veteran high school English teacher and teaches public speaking part time at a local community college. She holds a BS in English Education from the University of CT and an MS in Educational Leadership from Central CT State University. Her published works include novels, poetry, non-fiction publications, and book reviews. Her first novel, Regal Reward, a Regency Historical published in 2007, and available in ebook and print was a finalist in the NJRW Golden Leaf contest. Her second Regency, A Convenient Pretense, is available as an ebook. Her newest novel, A Kiss of Promise will be released April 3rd, 2014, and is presently available for pre-order on Amazon and at Ellora’s Cave Publishing. Her affiliations consist of Romance Writers of America, CT Romance Writers, and Charter Oak Romance Writers. Visit her website at

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