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  1.  My final Guest Author for 2016 is short story writer and novelist, Kate Blackadder.



    Kate Blackadder (low res)


    About Kate

     I’ve had around fifty short stories published and three magazine serials (two serials, The Family at Farrshore  and The Ferryboat, are now on Kindle, along with a short story collection Three’s a Crowd.

     Stella’s Christmas Wish is my first full-length novel. It is set in Edinburgh and the Borders, is published as an e-book by Black and White Publishing at 99p.



    Buy Links

    Stella’s Christmas Wish

    Kate has dropped by to talk to us about some of the facts behind our favourite Christmas decorations, very apt at this time of year.

    Deck the halls with …

    … paper chains

    If you’re a parent, it’s a given that at some point in December the kitchen table is going to be covered with coloured strips of paper and glue, and very sticky children are going to leave very sticky fingerprints around the rest of the house. But paper chains are cheap and cheerful and part of the tradition of Christmas going back to Victorian times – although as Victorian children were woefully deprived of electronic games they had plenty of time to make very elaborate paper decorations.

    Apparently the longest paper chain over 54 miles long and was made by a team in Virginia, USA in June, 2005. That could have decked a lot of halls.

    … Christmas seals

    No, not the sea mammal – the stamps sold for charity and stuck on envelopes and parcels. They were a massive part of good-cause fundraising at the beginning of the last century. The first issue of the US Christmas seal was designed by Emily Bissell with the aim of raising money for the tuberculosis sanatorium in which her cousin was a doctor. They were so popular that the reprints had to add Happy New Year to the Merry Christmas greeting, and she raised – in 1907 – $3000, ten times her original goal

    When I was in the States last year I saw an exhibition of seals including Emily Bissell’s, all very pretty and an interesting part of social – and Christmas – history.

    … glass baubles

    The first ones came about when a poor German glass-blower called Hans Greiner couldn’t afford apples and nuts to decorate the family Christmas tree so he blew glass replicas. There were other glass-makers in the town and soon they were all kept busy making these ornaments for a worldwide market. The natural shapes of the early ones were overtaken in popularity by the glass ball and by the 1890s Woolsworths were selling $25,000 dollars-worth every year. I don’t know if Hans Greiner is remembered or celebrated in Germany today but he should be.

    In Stella’s Christmas Wish ‘ … there were precious glass balls with nativity scenes inside that had been in their grandfather’s family, carefully taken out every year and a thing of wonder to the girls when they were little.’ (Thank you, Herr Greiner.)

     … tra la la la la la la la:



    You can connect with Kate on:





    Thanks for dropping by to talk to us, Kate. Merry Christmas!


    Bring a little sunshine into your life!  

    Sassy, feel good romance by Karen King. Just right to cosy up with on cold winter nights. Published by Accent Press


  2. My final Friday Read for 2016 is the Harlequin historical romance The Saxon Outlaw's Revenge by Elisabeth Hobbes.


    SOR front



    At the mercy of her enemy!

     Abducted by Saxon outlaws, Constance Arnaud comes face to face with Aelric, a Saxon boy she once loved. He’s now her enemy, but Constance must reach out to this rebel and persuade him to save her life as she once saved his…  Aelric is determined to seek vengeance on the Normans who destroyed his family. Believing Constance deserted him, he can never trust her again. Yet, as they are thrown together and their longing for each other reignites, will Aelric discover that love is stronger than revenge?



    ‘Come with me,’ Aelric instructed quietly. He took Constance’s arm and led her away from the crowd towards what appeared to be a high rock face covered with trees. As they got closer she saw the branches concealed a square stone building. Aelric moved aside a large skin and pulled open a door. He nudged Constance inside the building, closing it behind them.

    It smelled disconcertingly of daily life. Wood smoke overlaid the fragrance of human bodies, which in turn mingled with a lingering scent of onions and meat that made Constance’s mouth water. A small fire pit provided scant heat and light, but after the bitter wind it was as welcome as any hearth she had sat beside. Whatever she had to face faded into insignificance compared to her need to rest. She limped across the room and sagged weakly on to a stool beside the fire. Closing her eyes, she held her hands out to the glowing coals, rubbing them together vigorously until her fingers moved easily once more.

    She glanced around at the straw pallets littering the room and looked pleadingly at Aelric.

    ‘I’m so tired,’ she whispered.

    ‘You can’t stay here,’ he said. He pointed to an unstable-looking set of steps knocked into the back wall that led to a trapdoor. ‘You’ll sleep up there.’

    Constance stood, but her legs began to tremble and her head spun. She reeled, but before she fell Aelric’s arms were around her, holding her upright.

    ‘I don’t think I can walk any further,’ she gasped.

    ‘I’ll carry you,’ he said. Instead of swinging her over his shoulder as he had previously done Aelric lifted her into his arms, holding her against his chest. Constance rested her hands in her lap. To put them round his neck would be too familiar and she had not forgotten the daggers at his waist. If she could somehow reach one…

    Her hand crept towards his waist. As her fingertips brushed against his belly he drew a sharp breath, his head whipping down to glare at her with suspicion. She withdrew her hand hastily, abandoning all idea of stealing her dagger back.

    Aelric edged his way up the narrow staircase, ducking his head to climb through the hatch. He put Constance back on her feet. The loft was filled with sacks and smelled sweetly of straw, almost like the barn where once…

    No! Don’t think of that, Constance instructed herself.

    ‘You’ll stay here until I can decide what to do with you. I’ll bring you a blanket and some food.’ Aelric’s eyes flickered from her face to her body. ‘I’ll try to find you something more appropriate to wear, too,’ he said disapprovingly.

    ‘I’ll keep my own clothes,’ Constance said with dignity, smoothing her tunic down.

    Aelric raised an eyebrow, then disappeared down through the hatch. Constance sat on the bare floorboards, leaning back against one of the sacks. She unbraided her hair, then ran her fingers through her it, detangling the long locks and feeling the knots of tension in her scalp start to disperse. She bowed her head and hugged her knees. When she looked up again Aelric was standing over her, arms laden. He lowered a thin straw-stuffed mattress to the floor and dropped a blanket from beneath his other arm. He handed Constance an earthenware pot that contained pottage that had a familiar flavour.

    ‘Venison,’ she remarked. ‘A fine animal for outlaws to be breeding.’

    Aelric smirked and folded his arms across his chest.

    ‘What of it? The lords have so many deer they won’t miss one or two, even one as gluttonous as The Pig.’

    The name was what they had called Sir Robert.

    ‘We’re on my brother-in-law’s land?’ Constance asked.

    Aelric’s smile vanished. ‘Not necessarily. Eat if you want it, if not there are plenty with empty bellies.’

    Aelric watched as Constance emptied the bowl, his face in the dim light an impassive mask.

    ‘Why did you weep for Wulf?’ he asked once she had finished. ‘You didn’t know the boy. You would have fought against him if he had tried to capture you.’

    ‘He was young,’ Constance said. She pictured the sightless eyes and beardless face. ‘His life was cut short and I wept for his mother. No one should have to face that grief.’

    An odd look passed across Aelric’s face. ‘You still have a compassionate nature, I see. For young men at least. The years haven’t changed you so much.’

    It did not sound like a compliment.

    Buy Links

    Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/0373299109

    Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01JY7H76O


    Meet Elisabeth



    Author Bio

    Elisabeth grew up in York, where she spent her teenage years looking for a handsome Roman or Viking to sweep her off her feet.  She achieved her dream of becoming an author after finishing third in Harlequin's SYTYCW contest 2013 and being offered a two-book contract. When she isn’t writing, she spends her time reading and is a pro at cooking while holding a book.  Elisabeth lives in Cheshire with her husband, two children and two cats with ridiculous names.  She still works as a teacher but if everyone buys her books she might be able to escape!

    Author Links

    Twitter: @ElisabethHobbes

    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ElisabethHobbes/

    Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8390155.Elisabeth_Hobbes

    Website: https://elisabethhobbes.co.uk

    I asked Elisabeth to tell us a bit more about herself:

    How did you get started writing?

    My husband was working away for days at a time and as I had young children t the time I was pretty much trapped in the house after bedtime.  I wanted to do something more than sit in front of the TV and after talking with a friend about how easy it might be to write a historical romance I decided to give it a try.  Turns out it was harder than I expected but much more fun

    What was the first thing you had published?

    Falling for Her Captor in 2014.  It was my entry into Harlequin’s So You Think You Can Write contest in 2013 and bagged me third place.  It needed work to fit in with Harlequin’s series promise but I was thrilled when they offered me a two book contract on the back of the revisions.

    What do you like writing most?

    Arguments.  I love setting my characters up against each other and having them let rip.  It makes the eventual happy ending feel much more satisfying having seen all the misunderstandings and conflicts played out.

    Are you ever disappointed when you see your work published?

    I get a thrill every time I see one of my books or read a review because I can’t believe I’m where I am.  The only time I’ve been disappointed was with my second book, A Wager for the Widow, because I don’t think the cover reflects the story or character (someone described the cover model as having resting bitch face which I think is a little unfair).  It’s a Christmassy story that came out in July and wasn’t as popular as my other books which I think is a shame as Will, the roguish, scarred hero of that book is probably my favourite of all.

    What do you like to do to relax?

    I love going for walks in the countryside (useful for scouting locations) but a deep bubble bath with a good book takes some beating.

    Lovely to talk to you, Elisabeth. Thanks for dropping by. :)


    Merry Christmas!


    Bring a little sunshine into your life!  

    Sassy, feel good romance by Karen King. Just right to cosy up with on cold winter nights. Published by Accent Press





  3. IMG_1829

    Welcome to my Twelve Books for Christmas blog. Over these first twelve days of December I've been introducing you to twelve romance books to warm your heart and make you feel all Christmassy. :) They'll all make wonderful presents for a friend, or you could even treat yourself. 

    My final book is The Christmas Collection box set by best selling author, Victoria Connelly. Three heartwarming stories about love, family and friendship - an ideal Christmas read.


     The Christmas Collection Box Set Cover LARGE EBOOK


    Three heart-warming novellas full of feel-good festive fun. Stories of love, family and a place to call home set on the wild North Devon coast, the romantic Highlands of Scotland and the beautiful Lake District. 

     Christmas at the Cove
    When Millie Venning escapes to her aunt's cottage on the windswept Devon coast for Christmas, she isn't looking for romance. So, when she finds a handsome stranger already at the cottage, she's baffled. Has her aunt double-booked the cottage by mistake or is she up to her match-making tricks once again?

    Christmas at the Castle
    Life at Caldoon Castle in the Highlands of Scotland isn't easy for Catriona Fraser and her two children especially since her husband died. So, when Iain MacNeice and his two daughters book the castle for the Christmas holidays, Catriona's prayers seem to be answered. But the MacNeices arrive with a whole host of their own problems and it's going to take time, patience and a little bit of Christmas magic to make this holiday a happy one.

    Christmas at the Cottage
    After a bad breakup, all Rowan Corrigan wants is time alone at the family cottage in the Lake District. But her sister Rachel and husband Paul have exactly the same idea. As does Paul’s best friend Nick – the very last man Rowan wants to see after her embarrassing encounter with him at Rachel and Paul’s wedding. As the snow begins to fall, this could become the worst Christmas on record. But Christmas is a time for miracles and Rowan has always believed in those...

    Buy Links


    About Victoria

    Victoria Connelly 2016


     Author Bio

    Victoria Connelly is the bestselling author of The Rose Girls and The Book Lovers series. Her first novel, Flights of Angels, was made into a film. Victoria flew to Berlin to see it being made and even played a cameo role in it. Her romantic comedy, The Runaway Actress, was nominated for the RNA's Best Romantic Comedy of the Year and, being a true romantic herself, she got married in a medieval castle in the Yorkshire Dales. She now lives in rural Suffolk with her artist husband, a Springer spaniel and her ex-battery hens. 

    I asked Victoria to tell us a bit about her festive family traditions

    Do you have any favourite family Christmas traditions? If so, what are they? 

    My husband and I love to go for a long walk on Christmas morning. One year, it was so mild and sunny that we completely lost track of time as we walked through a wood high above the River Orwell. I think we ate Christmas lunch at about four o’clock!

     When do you open your Christmas presents?

     As soon as I’ve got up, let the dog out and opened the hen coop and fed everyone. Presents won’t wait any longer than that!

     If you could invite any author living or dead to share your Christmas lunch, who would it be?

     H E Bates. I’d love to invite him to any event just to meet and talk to him. He’s my favourite writer and I so admire his ability to write absolutely anything from short stories, essays and autobiography to light-hearted novellas and serious war novels. He’s a real inspiration, and the creator of the Larkin family must surely be a good laugh too!

    What book would you like to find in your Christmas stocking?

     Ben Pentreath’s ‘English Houses’ – a gorgeous fat hardback full of wonderful photographs of beautiful rooms. Like most writers, I’m incredibly nosy and love to poke around other people’s homes.

    What is your favourite Christmas film?

     It’s a Wonderful Life. It has everything: love, laughter, James Stewart – my favourite actor – Clarence the angel, Zuzu’s petals and an ending that will make you smile and cry at the same time. A true classic.


    Author links

     My website is: www.victoriaconnelly.com

     My Facebook reader page is here: https://www.facebook.com/Victoria-Connelly-335816876315/

     I'm on Twitter as @VictoriaDarcy


    Thanks for dropping by, Victoria. :)

    Merry Christmas!




    Bring a little sunshine into your life! 


     Sassy, feel good romance by Karen King. Just right to cosy up with on cold winter nights. Published by Accent Press



  4. IMG_1829

    Welcome to my Twelve Books for Christmas blog. Over these first twelve days of December I've been introducing you to twelve romance books to warm your heart and make you feel all Christmassy. :) They'll all make wonderful presents for a friend, or you could even treat yourself.

    Book number 11 is the Regency romance, A Most Unusual Christmas, by Fenella J Miller. Fenella is a full time writer of historical fiction and Regency romance.

    Unusual Christmas


    Miss Cressida Hadley is delighted when Lord Bromley and his family are unexpectedly obliged to spend Christmas at The Abbey. Despite the fact that Lord Harry has a broken leg, her papa and the earl take an instant dislike to each other, the Dowager Lady Bromley drinks too much and her older brother, Richard has got into another scrape – Cressida is convinced she can overcome these difficulties and make the house party successful. However, she had not taken into consideration the fact that she might fall in love with Lord Bromley.

    This book was first published in the Regency Quintet Christmas Edition 2015.

    Buy Links


    Meet Fenella



     Author bio

    Fenella Jane Miller was born in the Isle of Man. Her father was a Yorkshire man and her mother the daughter of a Rajah. She has worked as a nanny, cleaner, field worker, hotelier, chef, secondary and primary teacher and is now a full time writer.

    She has over thirty five Regency romantic adventures published plus three Jane Austen re-tellings and five WW2 family sagas. She lives in a pretty, riverside village in Essex with her husband and Bengal-cross cat. She has two adult children and three grandchildren.

    I asked Fenella to tell us a little about her family's festive traditions: 

    Do you have any favourite family Christmas traditions? If so, what are they? 

    I always put up the decorations in first week of December and take them down on the 31st. Nowadays celebrations are somewhat muted because of the ill health of my husband However, my daughter, son-in-law and adult grandchildren are coming this Sunday and we are going out for lunch, then there will be two afternoon teas for other family members and close friends plus Christmas Day with my son, his wife and my three-year-old grandson. These are the new traditions. 

    We take down our decorations and Christmas tree on New Year's Eve too!

    When do you open your Christmas presents? 

    We don't have Christmas presents now but when we did after lunch. The children always did their sack first thing.

     If you could invite any author living or dead to share your Christmas lunch, who would it be?

     That's a difficult question as I know from bitter experience quite often a favourite author is not going to be your favourite person. I think Jane Austen would make an excellent lunch companion.

     What book would you like to find in your Christmas stocking?

     Jamie Oliver's new enormous Christmas Book. 

    What is the most unusual Christmas present you’ve ever had/given? 

    I've given friends/family goats/chickens et cetera from one of the charity sites. I was given a week's holiday at the riding school I went to when I was 12 – that was and still is the best present I've ever heard. 

    They're certainly very unusual presents!

    You can find out more about Fenella here:

    Twitter: @fenellawriter 

    Facebook: Fenella J Miller author page FB

    Website: www.fenellajmiller.co.uk  


     Thanks for talking to us today, Fenella!


    Merry Christmas!  






    Bring a little sunshine into your life! 


    Sassy, feel good romance by Karen King. Just right to cosy up with on cold winter nights. Published by Accent Press



  5. IMG_1829

    Welcome to my Twelve Books for Christmas blog. Over these first twelve days of December I'll be introducing you to twelve romance books to warm your heart and make you feel all Christmassy. :) They'll all make wonderful presents for a friend, or you could even treat yourself.

    My Christmas book today is Christmas Kisses, a sweet collection of love stories by Alison May. Alison is a romance novelist, creative writing tutor and a member of the Romantic Novelists' Association.





    Three girls, three kisses, three gorgeous Christmas stories.

    Holly hates Christmas with a passion and can't wait to escape it - but then the flight to her once-in-a-lifetime holiday destination is cancelled.

    Cora has had the year from hell, and faces a bleak Christmas working in Golding's department store - in the most unflattering reindeer costume imaginable.

    Jessica is in denial after her husband's betrayal, and can't help but think back to when her life still seemed so full of hope and promise ...Three years from hell, three sets of broken dreams, three girls in desperate need of Christmas spirit.

    Is the perfect Christmas kiss all it takes?

    Includes Holly's Christmas Kiss, Cora's Christmas Kiss and Jessica's Christmas Kiss.

     Buy link


    Meet Alison



    Author bio

    Alison is a novelist, short story writer, blogger and creative writing tutor who grew up in North Yorkshire, and now lives in Worcester. She worked as a waitress, a shop assistant, a learning adviser, an advice centre manager, a freelance trainer, and now a maker-upper of stories.

    She won the RNA’s Elizabeth Goudge trophy in 2012, and her short stories have been published by Harlequin, Choc Lit and Black Pear Press. Her romantic comedies, Sweet Nothing, Midsummer Dreams, and the Christmas Kisses series are published by Choc Lit. Alison has been shortlisted in the Love Stories and RoNA Awards. 

    I asked Alison to tell us a bit about her family's festive traditions.

    Do you have any favourite family Christmas traditions? If so, what are they?

    That’s tricky, because I don’t think of my family as having a lot of set traditions, and then if I spend Christmas somewhere else I realise that we must have loads, because I’m absolutely certain that other families do it wrong! A couple of things I knew growing up were different from my friends – no TV on Christmas day, and so much more food that you would think it was possible to each. The first year that my husband spent Christmas at my parents’ house he couldn’t believe the way the food just kept come. Turkey and all the trimmings obviously, and then Christmas pudding (or fruit pie, or ice cream), and then cheese and savoury biscuits, and then chocolate biscuits and mints. And then you might just about have time to do the washing up before you get offered a mince pie to tide you over until teatime. So yeah… that’s a lot of food!

     When do you open your Christmas presents?

    For preference as early as possible on Christmas Day, but you can’t start opening presents until everyone is up, which makes me very frustrated when we stay with my husband’s family and his brother tries to have a lie-in, when I’m sitting in the lounge with all my presents gathered on the floor around me waiting to get started.

    Ooh, I don't think I'd be able to wait, Alison!

     If you could invite any author living or dead to share your Christmas lunch, who would it be?

    Well I’m not sure inviting a dead author would be particularly festive. They’d probably be all smelly and peeling, unless they were working a ‘Ghost of Christmas Past’ vibe in some way. That would be seasonal at least I suppose. Actually this question is too hard – I think inviting a random author who you’ve never met for Christmas dinner might just be a bit odd, and choosing between the authors I know in real-life seems unfair, so maybe it’s better to just let the authors spend Christmas in their own homes where it’s safe and I’m not there demanding that they dress like festive-themed literary ghosts.

     What book would you like to find in your Christmas stocking?

    Oh, so many. There’s a couple of books that I’ve got in ebook from this year that I’d love to get a print copy of – Kate Johnson’s Max Seventeen for one. I’m reading Natasha Solomon’s The Novel in the Viola at the moment, and there’s a couple of others by her that I haven’t read yet so I’d love either of those. She’s an awesome writer.  What I’d love most of all though would be something by a brilliant author I’ve never come across before and who has a massive back catalogue I can go on to lose myself in. I’m open to suggestions!

     What is the most unusual Christmas present you’ve ever had/given?

    I always struggle to remember presents I’ve received – which just goes to show that the presents are really not the most important bit of Christmas. I generally remember what I’ve given better, simply because Christmas shopping is a whole big thing for my sister and me. We’ve been Christmas shopping together since we were children, and what started as half an hour with a pound from my mum to get something for our grandparents is now a whole five day shopping extravaganza. We had a shared phase of always buying our aunt comedy kitchenware – Flintstones salt and pepper shakers, a spaceman jelly mould, that sort of thing. I don’t think we had any reason to believe that she particularly wanted comedy kitchenware, but we just kept buying her it.

    Author links 

    You can find out more about Alison at www.alison-may.co.uk,

    on facebook at www.facebook.com/AlisonMayAuthor,

    or by following her on Twitter @MsAlisonMay 


     Thanks for dropping by, Alison. :)


     Merry Christmas!




    Bring a little sunshine into your life! 

     Sassy, feel good romance by Karen King. Just right to cosy up with on cold winter nights. Published by Accent Press