In Review – Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey

If you could see how many surfaces of my home my TBR pile has taken over, you would understand that finding “something to read” isn’t as simple as it might be in another home. With all the different genres waiting to be read, it’s sometimes surprising what your subconscious picks to read next.  Last week was a case in point.  I’m working my way through a non-fiction book on Anne Boleyn, which you’ll hear about soon enough, but I like to have 2 or 3 books going at once and definitely a few different “types” so that I can change my mood by changing my book.  Running my fingers up and down a pile of books, quietly shivering in anticipation of being read, I found myself drawn to this one and I’m really glad that I didn’t put it back.  It was fascinating!

a little bit swirly

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Lady AlminaLady Fiona Carnarvon became the chatelaine of Highclere Castle – the setting of the hit series Downton Abbey – eight years ago. In that time she’s become fascinated by the rich history of Highclere, and by the extraordinary people who lived there over the centuries. One person particularly captured Fiona’s imagination – Lady Almina, the 5th Countess of Carnarvon. Almina was the illegitimate daughter of banking tycoon Alfred de Rothschild. She was his only daughter and he doted on her. She married the 5th Earl of Carnarvon, at 19, with an enormous dowry. At first, life at Highclere was a dizzying mix of sumptuous banquets for 500 and even the occasional royal visitor. Almina oversaw 80 members of staff – many of whom came from families who had worked at Highclere for generations. But when the First World War broke out, life at Highclere changed forever. History intervened and Almina and the staff of Highclere were thrown into one of the most turbulent times of the last century. Almina was forced to draw on her deepest reserves of courage in order to ensure her family, the staff and the castle survived. This is the remarkable story of a lost time. But Highclere remains and in this book, Fiona weaves Almina’s journey and those of her family into the heritage and history of one of England’s most exquisite Victorian castles.

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I thoroughly enjoyed this book and while I confess that it was the tagline about Downton Abbey that initially caught my attention, it was the story itself which held it.  As you can see, the story follows the life of the 5th Countess of Carnarvon, a woman who certainly had a less than auspicious start in life.  Thanks to her dowry though and her own charming disposition, she was a highly desirable wife and although I was surprised by the reason behind her betrothal, I was extremely touched by the love that they shared throughout their marriage.

It was also fascinating to read more about how the large estates worked.  Even having a fair idea of the system, it was really interesting to read such a personal and touching account of how the staff took pride in their positions and roles on the estate and how even their differing social standings didn’t stop them from being as much a part of the fabric of Highclere as the Earl and his family themselves.

The next interesting stage in her story was the start of World War I and how that allowed her to indulge her passion for nursing and her holistic approach to healthcare is truly inspiring.  The idea of providing not only medical care for the body, but nourishment for the mind and peace for the soul was certainly revolutionary and it’s interesting that her hospital is credited so highly for their care of the wounded.

Of course, running as a thread through so much of this story is the fact that her husband was a huge fan of Egypt and was working every year on digs.  Of course, he would go on to be part of the team that discovered the tomb of Tutenkhamun and his legacy is undeniable.

Of course I already knew about the Earl, but reading about his wife was really eye-opening.  She was a strong woman in a time when the world was changing and in a way, she became a bridge between the past and the future.

This is not a work of non-fiction, nor is it strictly a work of fiction.  Rather, it is a well-written and easily accessible tale of the history of a great house and a historic family. I would certainly recommend this book.

Buy HERE!

The Highclere Castle website is HERE

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Blog Tour – Sexy to Go, Volume 6

When these awesome authors contacted us about a tour I looked up their previous collections and completely fell in love with the concept.  After all, what’s not to love about short, saucy stories?  Still not sure?  Well, take a look at this…

SexyToGoV6_3Dcover

11 sizzling stories for women who like it hot! Erotic romance for women by women featuring contemporary, paranormal, BDSM, and more. A new volume every month, always delicious. 

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Sexy on Tour

Sexy to Go Vol 6 Blog Tour

22 July – Romance Junkies
23 July – Erzabet’s Enchantments
24 July – Undercover Book Reviews
25 July – Books & More
25 July – Coffee Time Romance
27 July – Lynn Stevens
27 July – Night Owl Reviews
28 July – Up All Night, Read All Day
28 July – Romance Reviews Today
28 July – Pamaceeve
29 July – Savvy Authors
29 July – Lindsay & Jane’s Views & Reviews
30 July – Paranormal Book Fairy
31 July – Raven’s Ramblings
31 July – Nat’s Book Nook

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Command Performance by Sorcha Mowbray

Can a billionaire playboy take charge of a headstrong ballerina or will she lead him a merry chase before dancing off into the sunset?

Sorcha’s Website | Tweet @SorchaMowbray | Facebook | GoodReads | Amazon | Pinterest | Newsletter


First Class by Jocelyn Dex

Shay is terrified to fly, but when a sexy-as-sin man sits next to her in first class, he provides a distraction that changes her outlook on flying and leaves her longing for more.

Jocelyn’s Website | Twitter @JocelynDexFacebook  | Goodreads | Amazon | Pinterest | Newsletter

Geek Overboard, #1 by Kathryn Lively

Dumped at the last minute by her boyfriend, Natalie is stuck on a cruise ship with hundreds of sci-fi fans. She intends to make the most of it…maybe that handsome man by the pool can help.

Kathryn’s Website | Tweet @MsKathrynLively | GoodReads | Amazon

Dreamwalker: Dream Date by Pamela Moran

Dreamwalker Lee Jacobs needs answers to who shot him, to who wanted him dead. Can a dream date with sexy Dr. Brynn Keegan, a researcher at the Lucid Dream Center, help him find the answers? Or will that date only lead to murder?

Pamela’s Website | Tweet @Pam_Moran | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon | Newsletter

Rewriting the Law, Part 4 by Daisy Banks 
Elana attempts to leave the safety of the bakery. She discovers Jagan law is implacable, or at least it is when administered by the broad palm of Ansgar. His promise to listen to her tale once the law is satisfied isn’t the only reward for obedience.

Daisy’s Website | Facebook | Tweet @DaisyBanks16 | BlogPinterest | TSU

Alien Sex Life an Alien Sex Ed story by Allie Ritch
Can alien lovers negotiate a life together? Four-armed Valene is madly in love with Apax, but she’s nervous about her impending marriage.

Allie’s Website | Tweet @AllieRitch | Amazon

Pleasured by a Ghost by Haley Whitehall

Confederate soldier Randal Hartford promised his intended he’d wed her after the war and make her dreams come true. Killed at the Battle of Shiloh, he returns in ghostly form. Although not the reunion she expected, he fulfills her every fantasy.

Haley’s Website | Tweet @HaleyWhitehall | Facebook | GoodReads | Amazon | Pinterest


LGBT STORIES


Love or Money by Shiloh Saddler

After being attacked, Daniel owes Dr. Abrams a lot for saving his life and nursing him back to health. Only the doctor asks for a night with his lover, James, as payment. Could this destroy their relationship or open a new door?

Shiloh’s Website | Tweet @ShilohSaddler | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon | Pinterest

On the Sly, Part 1 by Leigh Ellwood

It’s 1989, and somebody is attacking gay man in Archer Beach. Officer Jeremy Truman is determined to find the assailant, and protect Colin.

Leigh’s Website | Tweet @LeighEllwood | Facebook | Blog | GoodReads | Amazon | Pinterest | Newsletter

Daylight (48 Hours #3) by Sofia Grey

Joel is happily falling in love with his new boyfriend, Anton, so why is he attracted to Anton’s female roommate? He doesn’t do girls any more – especially not when he has everything he wants in Anton.

Sofia’s Website | Tweet @SofiaGreyAuthor | Facebook | GoodReads | Amazon | Pinterest

Unburied Hatchet by Eva Lefoy

The pack’s move is delayed by a double childbirth. Afterward, Casi experiences her first shift, but on return home, discovers a brutal attack on the pack will separate her from everyone she loves.

Eva’s Website | Tweet @Eva_Lefoy | Facebook |  Goodreads | Amazon | Pinterest | Newsletter

stg6_flat_med

Enter the RAFFLECOPTER giveaway

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Amazon Universal Buy Link: http://mybook.to/SexytoGo6

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/sexy-to-go-volume-6-sofia-grey/1122233070

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/sexy-to-go-volume-6/id1014734001?mt=11

Kobo Books: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/sexy-to-go-volume-6

All Romance ebooks: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-sexytogovolume611sexyshorteroticstories-1842115-149.html

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/554845

Write What You Want to Read

IMG_8391There is something about this quote that really resonates with me.  It is the kind of advice that is deceptively simple and yet manages to be quite profound at the same time. It’s certainly one of the most honest pieces of advice that you can give to a writer – whether they are brand new to the endeavour or long established – and what it boils down to is this…

Write what you want to read!

So why is this advice so very important – perhaps more so today than in decades past?  The truth is that with the sheer volume of books being released every MINUTE of every day (the statistics are scary), it’s important that you remain true to your “voice” as a writer.  You could certainly try to write for the buying public, and by all means, if you can do it successfully, find the genre that is selling best and contribute, but for most of us, that would spell disaster.

At the end of the day there is no magic formula for either literary or financial success.  The buying market is fickle and as changing as the wind and truth be told, they can tell if your heart is in it or not.  Ultimately, it is your passion for your subject, your characters and the story you are trying to tell that will either speak to a reader or not.  And if you cannot guarantee that your buyer will love the book, then at the very least you should love it!

So… ultimately, when you embark on a new story, make sure it’s a story that you want to tell, one that is driving you forward so that it can exist.  Put your heart into it and hope that your reader will follow.

I can’t wait to see your book on the shelf (be it digital or otherwise).

Until next time…

BM xx

Blog Tour – When I Grow Up… by Patricia Asedegbega

I know I’ve been a bit quiet about blogging lately, but to be honest, I’ve just been so busy with books that I clean forgot to tell you about it!!  Today I want to tell you about another of our July authors on tour… Patricia Asedegbega!  You’re going to love her as much as we have since we met her!  She has a great sense of humour and is super talented and we’re so pleased that we get to share her with you.

ENGLISH_AD4

Author Pic - Patricia AsedegbegaPatricia is the author of I stand Corrected, Rewind, Balou Uncensored, Bienvenidos a gatos anónimos, Pasarse cuatro Pueblos and Sesenta segundos dan para mucho. She was born to a Spanish mother and a Nigerian father in Madrid. As a child, she relocated with her family to Nigeria and later returned to Spain, where she acquired her BSc and master´s degree.

She is currently living near Madrid with her family and her very stubborn cat, Merlin Mojito.

Twitter

Facebook

www.patriciascorner.co.uk

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When I Grow Up16 July – Romance Junkies
16 July – Book Girl Knitting
17 July – Room with Books
18 July – Books & More
20 July – Night Owl Reviews
21 July – Pamaceeve
22 July – Lindsay & Jane’s Views & Reviews
22 July – Lynn Stevens
23 July – Paranormal Book Fairy
23 July – Savvy Authors
23 July – Literary Lagniappe
24 July – Romance Reviews Today
24 July – Coffee Time Romance
24 July – Up All Night, Read All Day
25 July – Undercover Book Reviews
26 July – CA Milson
27 July – Nat’s Book Nook

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Cover - When I Grow UpWhen I grow up…

“You need a plan B,” said Alicia’s mother when at five years old she told her what she wanted to be when she grew up. Thirty odd years later, Alicia is on plan D: sharing a flat, no tangible savings, and working for hateful Julia, whose sole purpose in life is to make her existence utterly miserable.

Good thing she has Oscar and the girls to make the long hours at work bearable. But when a series of events tears the close-knit group apart, putting friendships and motives under suspicion, will Alicia be able to restore balance and set things right?

More importantly, will she ever be able to upgrade her life to at least plan C?

Click here to buy your copy

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CHAPTER ONE

I glance at the clock on top of my desk, willing the time to go faster. I have been painfully watching the seconds pass by all morning. In five more minutes Oscar and the girls will be at the kitchen for our accustomed tea break. He had sent a group message half an hour ago informing us when he was taking his break and asked if anyone else was free.

I look nervously at the door, hoping Julia, my boss, won´t choose that moment to open it for one more useless urgent request, when we both know it can also be done three hours from now or even tomorrow. She has a knack for being most inopportune, and if she gives me a task and I take my break late, I´ll have to sit on my own as the others will already have returned to their desks. We are only allowed ten minutes off outside our lunch hour—we always add one or two more, though, as we feel time spent in route to the kitchen should not be included— and we try to coordinate with one another so we can take our breaks together.

The seconds tick so slowly. I can hear Julia on the phone speaking in the voice she uses when she is talking to a client, the same voice that would mislead anyone who didn´t know her into actually thinking she is remotely human.

Just in time, I grab the handset and race to the staff kitchen where Oscar, Emma, Amparo, and Carmen are sitting around the wooden table staring hungrily at the cream-filled buns resting on a plate. We take turns in bringing something to accompany the pot of steaming coffee the first one to arrive makes, and I can´t wait to sink my teeth into what Carmen has brought for us today.

“Ah, there you are!” Emma exclaims as I rush to pour a cup of coffee. “We were only going to give you half a minute more before starting.” The rest start tucking in, while at the same time trying to fill each other in on their hectic days and how our bosses seem to have a goal of making our lives even more difficult than necessary, if possible.

We work for Fernández & Associates. It´s the kind of law firm where the lawyers bill their clients six figures just for answering the phone. We have some of the most prestigious and wealthy clientele, both in Spain and abroad. One of our departments deals with international law, so we cater to all the legal needs of a lot of Spanish businessmen who own companies in other countries, as well as foreigners who come to set up businesses here in Spain. It was started by Sergio Fernández Castellón[1], the father of our present senior partner, Alejandro. He wanted to provide very personal service to his clients, so our policy has always been to have just five lawyers, each heading a department. This enables them to have a very close and direct relationship with each client. Now that Alejandro has taken over, he is following the same philosophy and, as a result, we have clients that have been with the firm for over thirty years. We accept new clients strictly on recommendations and only on rare occasions.

The firm occupies three floors of a building located in Calle Serrano[2]. The ground floor holds the reception area and conference rooms. The secretaries and junior lawyers have offices on the middle floor. And finally, on the top floor, where few venture except when summoned, the partners have what we like to call their dens.

The five of us are “corporate personal assistants”, which is an important sounding title that really means your job description is whatever the boss wants, no matter how ridiculous it is. We all speak various languages, have university degrees, and are known for our discretion—except during our breaks, of course. There, we have no secrets from each other. But really, apart from it being extremely interesting to know all that goes on with the other four bosses, confiding in each other has really helped us on more than one occasion to narrowly escape impending disasters that might otherwise have cost one or two jobs. So our undercover network is of utmost importance to us and probably to the firm as well.

I love a good gossip, but sometimes knowing what someone else´s boss has done is important for me. I can then feel that I am not the unluckiest person on Earth because I work for Julia.

[1] In Spain, everyone has two last names; the first is the father´s first last name and the second is the mother´s first last name.

[2] Also called Milla de oro because it is where the most exclusive and expensive shops in Madrid are located.

Blog Tour – Anger’s Children by KD Rose

Anger’s Children is the second book by KD Rose that we’re touring with this month.  It’s exciting to tour with a talented author like KD, but even better when we get to tour with two different, yet equally brilliant, titles.

Anger's Children Blog Tour

11 July – Books & More
13 July – Lynn Stevens
13 July – Up All Night, Read All Day
14 July – Romance Reviews Today
15 July – Lindsay & Jane’s Views & Reviews
16 July – Paranormal Book Fairy
17 July – Nat’s Book Nook
18 July – Savvy Authors

To buy your copy, simply click HERE

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Dangerous. Risqué. A catch. There’s always a catch.

Three tales that will blow your mind.

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Excerpt

From Under The Shadow of Wings

She had come to collect. All the places she had been before. All the places she had died. They had died. She could hear them all now. All her dead relatives. She came back to collect what was hers. What was theirs. She came back to kick some ass. She had already won. She had just come back to collect.

Playing the fate cards so fast, she caused pieces of past and future to fly by, appearing and disappearing. The onlookers—family—in her head were dizzy and not quite sure where to step.

While all of this was going on in her head, she sat in the bar of an airport, waiting for the red-eye. Her drink was Chardonnay. Next to her was a man dressed to be noticed. She guessed that with slicked-back hair and a model’s face, he was probably doing his best to feign nonchalance. He has those big, brown eyes—the ones that look at you and implore. Or seduce. Which one is he? Inside she heard her dead relatives bickering. Is he going to be the one?

They each had food and were waiting for their tab.

He finally looked at her and spoke. “I hate being held hostage by bad waiters, don’t you?” He smiled, white teeth gleaming.

She looked him over. His ticket stuck out from his jacket pocket. He would be on the same plane as her.

“Unless they’re very bad,” she said with a smirk.

His red face showed that he was unprepared for her forwardness, but instead of backing down, he struck. He seemed to have recovered his confidence. “There’s no time lonelier than the night, baby,” he said, looking at her like fresh meat. She hadn’t controlled her body well enough. She knew her pupils had dilated at him and bet he noticed it too. He was that kind of guy.

She could hear her dead relatives. My tongue is in your ear washing grime, endless grime, off our face and hands. And the insects crawl around for their share of dead skin flakes.

Kat smiled but paid the tab she had finally been given and got up. Walking over to the elevator, she hit the down button and didn’t look back.

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KD Rose Author PicK.D. Rose is a poet and author who currently has published “Heavy Bags of Soul”, “Inside Sorrow”, “I AM”, “Erasing: Shadows”, “Anger’s Children: Three Shorts That Will Blow Your Mind”, “A Taste for Mystery: Two Novellas” and “The Brevity of Twit”.

Her poetry has been published in Candlelit Journal, the Voices Project, and showcased in the Tophat Raven Art and Literary Magazine. K.D.’s book, Inside Sorrow won the Readers Favorite 2013 international Silver Medal for Poetry.

K.D. has an eclectic mind and loves language, physics, philosophy, photography, design, art, writing, symbolism, semiotics, spirituality, and Dr. Who. KD Rose is an avid supporter of music, the arts, cutting edge science, technology, and creativity in all forms.

KD Roses Blog: https://authorkdrose.wordpress.com/

Website:       http://authorkdrose.com

Twitter – https://twitter.com/KDRose1

Networked Blogs http://www.networkedblogs.com/user/100002817280090

Tumbler http://kdrose1.tumblr.com/

Google + https://plus.google.com/u/0/102870988804959230001/about/p/pub

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/authorkdrose?ref=hl

LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/profile/preview?vpa=pub&locale=en_US 

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6038789.K_D_Rose

Instagram  https://instagram.com/kdroseauthor/

Blog Tour – A Taste For Mystery by KD Rose

KD Rose is a multi-talented woman.  She is so incredibly creative and it’s been a real pleasure to work with her again in July with two mini blog tours.  This is the first of the two books we have the pleasure of promoting this month.

A Taste For Mystery Blog Tour

07 July – Literary Lagniappe
09 July – Romance Junkies
09 July – Pamaceeve
10 July – Room with Books
10 July – Book Girl Knitting
12 July – CA Milson
13 July – Night Owl Reviews
15 July – Coffee Time Romance

To buy your copy, click HERE

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A Taste For Mystery – Excerpt

He had six-pack abs, and I wanted to feel the carbonation.

This one dressed like the stereotype of a construction worker, down to the handkerchief he used to wipe sweat off his forehead. I don’t know if he or the hot day brought it out, but sweat poured off of me too. He had no interest in me as a person, though. I was invading his territory. Still, I enjoyed the view. For my part, I knew my clothes looked crappy. I didn’t have to wear uniforms anymore, but my street clothes, well they were very—street. So there I stood, a turd in the sun in front of this Adonis. Oh well.

He pointed to a small trailer up a muddy hill. The supervisor I asked to see apparently stayed in there. Stayed, as in never left. Great. Mud. Now I’d be a dried turd in the sun. Adonis went back to digging and I started the trek up the hill. At least I came with boots. Steel toed.

Once I made it to the trailer, I heard an argument going on inside.

“Look, I don’t care who you are. The plans are publically filed. Go get them yourself!” yelled someone.

Then I heard a voice I knew. Calm, cool, subversive. “Is there any reason you’re being so difficult? A man did die on your watch.”

An encounter I hadn’t planned on. Well, at least not until later tonight. I knocked loudly on the door and with my sweetest voice said, “Hello, boys. Am I interrupting something?”

“Great,” groused the supervisor. “A party.” He appeared to me like another stereotype, puffing on a cigar over a fat jowl line and rotund stomach that threatened to overturn the small desk he was behind. I guess there’s a reason for stereotypes. He looked about four hamburgers away from a heart attack.

On a wooden chair in front of the supervisor sat Jack. A fellow independent detective, an ally at times, a competitor…and my on and off lover.

“Well, well, well,” he said smiling, but I could tell he wasn’t happy to see me. Not here. It meant we were both working the same case. “Hello, Carolyn. Who hired you?”

“Parents.”

“Girlfriend,” he answered back.

We stared at each other. Complications.

—oOo—

KD Rose Author PicK.D. Rose is a poet and author who currently has published “Heavy Bags of Soul”, “Inside Sorrow”, “I AM”, “Erasing: Shadows”, “Anger’s Children: Three Shorts That Will Blow Your Mind”, “A Taste for Mystery: Two Novellas” and “The Brevity of Twit”.

Her poetry has been published in Candlelit Journal, the Voices Project, and showcased in the Tophat Raven Art and Literary Magazine. K.D.’s book, Inside Sorrow won the Readers Favorite 2013 international Silver Medal for Poetry.

K.D. has an eclectic mind and loves language, physics, philosophy, photography, design, art, writing, symbolism, semiotics, spirituality, and Dr. Who. KD Rose is an avid supporter of music, the arts, cutting edge science, technology, and creativity in all forms.

Amazon vs Reviewers

indieIf you move in author / publishing circles, then there’s a good chance that you’ve seen the blog post from Imy Santiago that I’m about to share a link to here. Her post deals with the fact that Amazon removed her review, claiming that she “knows” the author.  As she rightly points out, in Indie publishing circles, there’s a chance that many authors have met online or been in touch even in passing at some point. That’s one of the things that makes being an indie author so attractive… the sense of community. Let’s be honest, if we examine our social media lists, most of us are “friends” with or follow authors, especially authors we enjoy reading.  If you’re in any book groups on Facebook, you may even have had a chance to speak to these authors.  Does this make your review any less valid?  No.

So… reading this blog post of hers and thinking about her experience made me wonder what our community of authors can do in the face of ever changing policies, payment options and “big brothering” from retailers? It’s not only Amazon that is changing the face of publishing though.  The other day there was rumbling about another outlet removing romance titles from their listings because of how it was influencing their experimental payment options.

As an author and reviewer, this is a very interesting (and by interesting, I mean quite unstable) time.  As an author, I am in danger of being underpaid for my hard work depending on if I opted in to a certain option or not and as a reviewer, if Amazon has even a slight suspicion that I might “know” the author of the book I’m reviewing, they can just decide not to post my review.

Right now, as an author I am waiting to see how those new options work out.  My circle of awesome colleagues and I are sharing, researching and keeping each other abreast of any news and as soon as I have enough factual information, I can make an informed decision. As a reviewer, I can review under either of my author profiles, my “real world” profile or as The Book Mistress.  This should help me to stay ahead of the strange Amazon spynet.

One thing I will not do, is stop reviewing.  Reviews help to sell books, they help to promote authors & they help to find loving homes for great books!

I’d love to hear what you think.

Until next time…

BM xx