Friday, 26 February 2016

Guest blog: Jennifer Young

Which of us is perfect? Who among us has never put a foot wrong? The mistakes people make (that almost sounds like a book title) in the past come back to haunt them way, way down the line. Sometimes the know it’ll happen, that there will be a price to pay. Sometimes the past comes rearing up from the darkness just when we least expect it.

As in life, so it so often is in fiction. The classic, of course, is Mr Rochester and the wife in the attic. But you don’t have to look far for a hasty relationship (ended or begun), for a get-rich-quick scheme which seems like a good idea at the time, for that one misjudgement that was meant to put everything right and which instead turned toxic. Maybe it happens in one generation; or maybe the slow poison seeps out further down the line.

I never deliberately set out to write books with that sort of theme and yet, when I look back at all the books I’ve written, be they published, unpublished or unpublishable, the majority of them carry that theme running through them. In Looking For Charlotte Flora’s past decision to give her children all the material comforts they could want at the expense of time leads to her losing them in the present. In No Time Like Now both Tim and Megan made a catastrophic decision years before the book that comes between them as the key driver of the plot. In A Portrait of my Love it isn’t the protagonist, Skye, who makes the wrong decision but her spoiled best friend.

Leona’s mistake, and that made by her mother a generation before, feed the plot in Going Back, the next book i the series (due out in May) and the third, which is definitely a work in progress, hinges on a mistake made in a moment, also years before.

Because I write romance you can reasonably expect that the mistakes made will be redeemed to some extent, or at least reach some kind of resolution. That’s the beauty of fiction, of course. If only real life were so simple…

Monday, 22 February 2016

Guest blog: Hannah Fielding - 'Indiscretion'

Introducing… Hannah Fielding

Hannah Fielding is an incurable romantic. The seeds for her writing career were sown in early childhood, spent in Egypt, when she came to an agreement with her governess Zula: for each fairy story Zula told, Hannah would invent and relate one of her own. Years later – following a degree in French literature, several years of travelling in Europe, falling in love with an Englishman, the arrival of two beautiful children and a career in property development – Hannah decided after so many years of yearning to write that the time was now. Today, she lives the dream: writing full time at her homes in Kent, England, and the South of France, where she dreams up romances overlooking breath-taking views of the Mediterranean.

To date, Hannah has published four passionate, evocative novels: Burning Embers, a ‘romance like Hollywood used to make’, set in Kenya; the award-winning Echoes of Love, ‘an epic love story that is beautifully told’, set in Italy; and books 1 and 2 of the Andalusian Nights trilogy, set in sultry Spain, entitled Indiscretion and Masquerade. She is currently working on her fifth book, Legacy, which will publish this spring.

A glimpse of Indiscretion

‘La Pena de los Enamorados is attached to a local legend about an impossible love affair,’ Salvador said. Alexandra drove her gaze towards him. For an instant, something warred in his eyes as he looked at her; was it longing, regret? The force of his personality struck her like a hurricane, sending her head spinning. She struggled not to betray the effect he had on her, conscious that everyone’s attention was on them both.

He tapped a finger gently on the side of his glass and looked down into its contents as he continued. ‘Lover’s Leap is an enormous crag of limestone that overlooks the town and valley of Antequera. The rock provides the setting for the tragic finale to the lovers’ story. The legend goes that a young Christian man from Antequera and a beautiful Moorish girl from nearby Archidona were driven to the top of the cliff by Moorish soldiers. Rather than renounce their love, they chose to hurl themselves into the abyss. The rock remains a symbol of their eternal love.’ His eyes were on Alexandra again, his features brooding. It felt as though his gaze was scorching her skin and she put a hand to the base of her throat, where she felt her pulse thudding beneath her fingertips.

Salvador paused, taking his time as he lit a cigarette. The air filled with the aromatic smoke, creating a halo around him. At this point, the others began chatting about the bullfight. Under his breath, Salvador went on: ‘A romantic novelist’s dream story, wouldn’t you say?’

‘Yes,’ Alexandra conceded, lifting her chin. ‘There’s nothing more romantic than eternal love.’

‘And nothing more foolish perhaps.’

‘Passion and fidelity are foolish?’ She shot him a fierce look. ‘Being prepared to die for love only makes it more powerful.’

‘It is the stuff of romantic fables. And even there, the obstacles of real life soon show themselves. Those soldiers of misfortune chase most poor unfortunates to ground in the end.’ He drained his glass and set it down abruptly without looking at her. ‘Passion can be an affliction.’

Monday, 15 February 2016

Nominated for Best Historical Book 2015 - Valens the Fletcher and His Captive

The review site, Love Romances Cafe, has nominated my medieval historical romance, 'Valens the Fletcher and His Captive' for Best Historical Book 2015! I'm delighted!

You can read more about this novel and the whole Medieval Captives Series here 

'Valens the Fletcher and His Captive' is available at Amazon, Nook, Kobo, Ebooks and More. 

Lindsay Townsend

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Morcar the Northern Earl and His Captive. Bk 4 of the Medieval Captives Series by Lindsay Townsend

PRE-ORDER NOW - AVAILABLE Tuesday, February 2nd.

Morcar the Earl is a pagan, hated by the Norman Bishop Cyril. Cyril and his bastard son Gaspar plot to unseat Morcar and kidnap his son Thorfinn to raise as a puppet manipulated by Cyril. Morcar is overcome and flung into a cave chained to a young woman, the witch Hemlock. Hemlock has herself been betrayed by Gaspar, who had forced her to be his mistress and then abandoned her once she became pregnant. Hemlock has just lost her unborn baby and is highly distrustful of men. 

 As a pagan, Morcar believes in many gods and worships the ancient stag god, whose horned tattoo he bears on his arm. It is partly for fear of the god that Cyril’s men dared not murder him, instead manacling him to Hemlock and leaving them both to starve. Can they work together to escape? Can they recover Thorfinn? In the end, what future can there be between an earl and a witch? A BookStrand Mainstream Romance.


Chapter 1

Fall of the Year, 1133, Northern England
Someone petted his hair. At least he still had a head, although it felt like a splintered log, which Morcar decided was better than the alternative. But what had happened?
Without opening his eyes, he flexed his fingers and toes, a rush of gratitude sweeping through him as he realized his limbs were also still attached.
And they may not have been.
A memory fell into him like a striking hammer on an anvil. Sudden fist and knife blows from behind, from unseen unanticipated enemies, wild fighting, his son—
Morcar reared up with a shout. The slim fingers petting his hair pushed him back down.
“Your lad is alive,” a voice breathed by his ear. “Alive and whole. The church-men took him. Sleep.”
“Do not order…”
The hand resumed carding through his hair and Morcar wallowed back into unconsciousness.
* * * *
Later he blinked again into wakefulness. His brains no longer felt to be seeping from his skull and his shoulders burned, which he assumed was an improvement on the hollow ringing that had throbbed through his body earlier. Shifting slightly, he forced his eyes open wider, seeing an orange, flickering glare against a black backdrop. Is it night or am I underground?
“Sage tea. Want some?”
Jerking aside, Morcar rolled onto his back and yelped, his vision blurring afresh for an instant.
“You have grazes and knife cuts and deep bruises down your spine but you can move so you will heal up tight. Tisane?”
He smelled the fresh, head-clearing sage tea, then, and watched a cup wobble in out of the gloom in front of him. Squirming onto his side, Morcar tried to clasp the cup and failed, tried again and succeeded.
He groaned as the hot drink almost scalded the back of his throat and then thirstily drained the rest of the cup.
“More?” the voice suggested.
His clearing vision showed a pair of startled hazel eyes and a heart-shaped, delicate face, framed by a melee of tangled tresses. The spiky brown hair looked surprisingly pretty on this urchin, though he had only seen short hair for women on female prisoners before. But what was he rambling about? Focus. A girl. My nurse is a girl. Her brilliant eyes reminded him sharply of Maud, his wife. My wife! Mother of our son. Thank the Gods she died in her sleep three winters past, at peace and ready to join the old ones. He could not have borne her suffering, else, or her knowing that their child had been stolen away.
Thorfinn, their son. Small and dark-haired like his mother, with a gap-toothed grin and a low, chortling laugh. Thorfinn, with his secret bedtime toy of a raggedy cloth robin and his favorite bright red boots. Named for the God Thor and Maud’s father, Finn. Five years old and already a fearless horseman and a merry, good-natured soul who would share his supper with any who looked hungry. Thorfinn would be a generous lord, leading his people with a high heart. Unless the church-men corrupt him. That is why they kidnapped him, to act as regents in my—his—lands and to raise him as they see fit.
Remembering Thorfinn’s wild sobbing as the bishops’ men took the boy away was the worst sound he had ever heard. Grief bit into his lungs, harsh as a Viking blood-eagle, and Morcar choked.
“Sit up, please,” the girl beside him coaxed. “You will breathe the easier.”
“Thor’s hammer! Do not order me—” Morcar’s rasped complaint subsided into a new bout of coughing. The wretched girl seized the advantage. Hauling him up under his arms like a bag of tools, she dragged him into a sitting position, bracing his back with a knobbly knee. Another cup of sage tea appeared and Morcar drank it, scowling at his rescuer. She was small and prickly, like a hedgehog, if such a creature ever dressed in a faded, ruby-colored gown and with grubby bare feet.
“My name is Hemlock.”
At his stifled snort, the girl flicked her bangs back from her forehead like an irritated mare shaking its mane and went on, “I am a hedge-witch, though by no means as powerful as Elfrida, Magnus’s wife.”
Morcar nodded his understanding, feeling a little ashamed now of smirking at her unusual name. The church-men disliked witches nearly as much as they disapproved of pagans.
“You follow the old ways?” he asked, wondering where they were.
Hemlock’s answer had him twisting round to stare at her. “Always. After my parents died, my greedy brother sold me to Gaspar, the bishop’s son. He baptized me by force and re-named me Mary. He cut off my long hair and sold it. I worked in his household for two years. Despite my protests and distaste, he kept me as a mistress until I got with child because I no longer possessed the herbs to make a pregnancy-stopping tisane. Then the pious bishop’s son called me a whore and cast me out.”
Hemlock stopped speaking, the sound of her quickened breathing very loud and echoing faintly. We are in an enclosed space, then, possibly close to the sea from the faint tang of salt I can smell and taste in the air.
“Why should Gaspar do that?” he asked, feeling still very slow and stupid as he caught up with Gaspar’s casual cruelty. To shear off a woman’s glory, her hair and then sell it, and worse, to throw her from his household when she was pregnant—Morcar shuddered, strongly, once. Children were a gift from the gods. “Why?” he asked a second time.
“He wants no bastards,” snapped Hemlock. She had gone pale, white to the lips. In the dark of the cave her face hung beside his like a death mask on a pole.