Tuesday, 27 May 2014

A moral dilemma - Zara Kingsley

Rebecca Hardy wasn’t a naturally deceptive person, though she took quite well to the art of deception. Too well perhaps. She liked to think of it as helping someone out. Female camaraderie and all that. But it had gone too far. She had gone too far. She had, after all, ruined someone’s life. Hadn’t she?
Having theatrically caught her boyfriend cheating, Rebecca, convinced she was born in the wrong era, has had it with these modern day men. She has even less regard for these immoral modern day women, (of which she highly suspects her best female friend Abigail is one), who tend to prey on men in committed relationships. What is wrong with them?! Don’t they care that they’re breaking hearts and destroying lives?!  Rebecca, with her high morals and family values, would never even consider dating a married man.  Which is exactly why, it is of no surprise her friends are at serious odds, when Rebecca finds herself doing exactly that.  Dating a married man.  Albeit, at the fervent request of his wife; the notorious Isabella Coombs.
Isabella Coombs is one of Pamper Moi’s most important clients, and Pamper Moi is the elite Knightsbridge beauty salon, where Rebecca’s job as a therapist is hanging by a very fine thread. Out of the goodness of her heart - and fear of losing her job, Rebecca cautiously agrees to secretly help the highly emotional and seemingly insecure - but also very prominent, Isabella Coombs, find out if her husband Charles, would ever cheat on her.
But what Rebecca doesn’t know is that Isabella Coombs is not so much emotional and insecure, as she is a very good actress, with her own devious reasons for having Rebecca date her unsuspecting, principled husband.  Believing her clandestine role as a human-man-trap is genuinely helping to prevent a fellow comrade from possible future heart-ache, Rebecca finds herself falling further into a tangled web of distorted emotion with Charles Coombs, where she alarmingly turns out to be the immoral woman breaking hearts and destroying lives.
But having ruined his life and won his heart, can Rebecca face the insolvable dilemma, of saving his life but losing his heart? And still find a hat in time for Ascot?
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I had to do it. He’d left me with no other conceivable choice. He seemed intent on driving me crazy, turning me into a dithering, pathetic, neurotic maniac. The lying toe-rag!!
Becky, sweetie,” he would gently croon, whenever I’d mention the distinct scent of Dior about him. “It’s all in your imagination. You know you’re the only one for me.” Then more vigorously, “What the bloody hell is wrong with you!” when confronted with the unmistakable evidence of lippie on his shirt collar. “You really are going stark raving mad. And I thought I was. For a while. His reverse psychology skills were second to none. So I made a decision to either prove myself sane, or allow myself to be declared insane! I set about achieving mission (according-to-him) impossible, and catch him in the act.
I’d always fancied myself as a bit of an actress. I was still dancing around my bedroom at home, singing merrily into the hairbrush when I was sixteen years old! Yes, Annie had definitely left its mark on me. In fact, after watching that film, for the remainder of my childhood, I had wanted to be Annie (without the ginger hair and freckles, of course). I desperately wanted to be rescued by Mr Squillion Billion Dollar Man and have a dog called Rufus. Needless to say I never got rescued – but I definitely ended up with the dog. His name is Jeremy. And today I caught him cheating. So tonight, I’m kicking his lying toe-rag arse out of our apartment.
OK, I say I caught him cheating; well he wasn’t actually in the full throes of fornication or anything like that. It was more of a…foreplay situation, which in my world still counts. So how did I catch him? Well, like I said, I’ve always fancied myself as a bit of an actress, so; black bobbed wig, reading glasses, camcorder – hired not bought – even less make-up than usual, i.e. basically none, so as not to draw attention to myself, and a shot of brandy (YUK) for Dutch courage.

Wheelers, was an average enough, discreet British pub, on an average enough discreet City street, and was also Jeremy’s choice location for a not so discreet illicit tryst.
“Look, would you be ordering something or not lass?” the barman asked me with a slight Irish accent.
Shoo shoo shoo I had wanted to say, but for fear of him drawing any more attention to me, and in light of the fact that he was actually blocking my view of Jeremy and Miss Thingy, I quickly deduced that I had in fact better order something. “Coke please,” I snapped off, throwing down a fiver.
“Diet or regular?”
Oh for chrissakes, will you just move! Aargh! “Regular!”
“No!” rolling my eyes. He actually seemed to be enjoying this little exchange. Maybe he knew Jeremy and knew what both he and I were up to?! No. Not possible.
“Look, can you get me a coke or not?” I hissed.
“OK, OK, keep yer knickers on,” he said smiling cheekily and finally turned to go get me a drink. I quickly realigned myself to get a better view over the bar and through the window to the courtyard where Jeremy, the bastard, and Thingy were sitting extremely close to each other and laughing easily at this point. Still not incriminating evidence, but the night was young. I saw Jeremy lean into her and started talking into her ear. I would’ve said ‘whispering’ but he didn’t know how to whisper sweet nothings at the best of times let alone after he’d had a few, which by the way his face was flushed and his tie, usually perfectly positioned, was loosened and off centre, he obviously had.
“There you go now. Coke and change,” said the barman. I ignored him and continued fidgeting with my camcorder, hidden behind by handbag, whilst still keeping a sharp eye on the fornicators. “Pity you don’t get to catch the conversation with those things from a distance.”
“Excuse me?!”
“You need to get up real close to them to record conversation.”
“I haven’t the foggiest idea what you’re talking about,” I said turning beetroot, and started to scuffle about with the camcorder, desperately trying to stuff it back into my bag.
“Oh,” he leaned back comfortably against the bar, folded up his arms and nodded toward Jeremy and Thingy. “I thought for a sec you were spying on that pair.”
“I beg your pardon?!” trying my best to sound alarmed but at the same time careful not to draw any attention to myself…
“Oh, it’s no skin off my nose either way,” he said, “but let’s assume you were spying on that pair.”
“Which I am most definitely not!” I said furiously, whilst still trying to shove my camcorder back into my bag, but what, with my current state of panic and the fact that every time my head bent down my wig was starting to slip forward, I couldn’t quite manage it.
“Ah, but, if you were, you’d be doing it all wrong.” I looked up at him from under the fringe of my wig. “You’re too far away to even know what’s going on.”
“As I’ve already told you, I am not spying on anyone. But IF I were, I am able to see quite clearly exactly what’s going on.”
“Ah jaysus, you can’t tell a thing from what you see. They could just be having a great crack, with nothin’ in it at all.”
“Oh he’s having a crack all right.” I slumped on the bar, completely fed up, with the camcorder sticking out recklessly from my bag. I’d given up trying to tuck it away, just as I’d given up trying to film them. He was right of course. The barman. The footage I’d so painstakingly gathered proved nothing at all. Jeremy would be able to talk his way out of this one in a nano-second, and I knew that I’d believe whatever he would tell me, as per usual, because although I had doubts, many, many doubts, I never ever had any real concrete evidence of any disloyalty. We watched them silently for a few seconds, but when Jeremy slipped his hand up Miss Thingy’s skirt and started talking into her ear again, I just squeezed my eyes shut so I wouldn’t have to see, and so the barman couldn’t see the tears of humiliation that were starting to well up.
“Look, just pass it here,” he said reaching out his hand to me.
“The camcorder. I’ll get up close and record what they’re saying for yer.” I gave an incredulous stare and opened my mouth to say something, then as if on autopilot, I handed him the camcorder. “Ah, you can thank me later,” he said with a wink. And was off. Headed in their direction with the camcorder hidden underneath a bar towel on a tray. My heart started hammering against my ribcage and I wanted to dive under the bar and hide as he got to their table and started hovering, collecting glasses, wiping, and re-placing ashtrays. I half expected Jeremy to look up and wave at me but he didn’t even notice the barman floating around. Too engrossed in impressing Miss Thingy, which by the way she was giggling and batting her false eye lashes at each word he uttered, seemed easy enough to do. I looked at her. She was the complete opposite to me in every sense. Blonde, curvaceous, overly made up. She looked around twenty-eight but was probably twenty-four, whereas I may look twenty-four but am actually twenty-eight. She wasn’t so special. Fake hair, fake tits, fake tan. She was exactly the kind of girl that Jeremy would frequently refer to as “just a bit of fluff”. He would never betray me with just a bit of fluff… Would he? All of a sudden I knew that I did not want to know the answer to that question. I realised that I have never ever really wanted to know. I could live with my doubts. We had a good life together. He did love me, (albeit in his own bizarre way), and never made me feel anything other than number one…at least whilst he was in my presence. But that was OK. I could deal with that. What, I suddenly realised, I could not deal with, and more importantly did not want to deal with, was the actual factual knowledge that Jeremy, the man with whom I have built a wonderful life with and am expecting to grow graciously old with, would cheat on me. Because unlike a doubt which I can quite simply cast away to the back of my mind and allow it to gather cobwebs, a ‘fact’ would be a different matter altogether. A ‘fact’, a real life evidential fact, would most definitely need to be addressed. I felt a sudden stab of horror at that realisation; and started flapping my hands about like a maniac trying to catch the barman’s attention.
“Come Back! Come Back!” I mouthed in animation, but he just ignored me and moved to the other side of the table so he was standing right beside Jeremy as he moved in for another close-up with Miss Thingy. I watched the barman, wondering if he could hear what they were saying, and I swear I practically expired when I saw him shake a heavy head in disbelief.
The barman looked at me with an unfortunately sombre face as he came back to the bar. “Er, look lass, it’s none of my business…but is he your fella?”
“Yes. He is my boyfriend,” I said indignantly, and as he looked down with tight lips, I added with upturned chin, “Of several years in fact.”
“Right. Well…maybe you don’t really want to be listening to what’s on here then.” He tapped the camcorder and gave me a sympathetic look that knocked the wind out of me. He felt sorry for me. And he felt sorry for me because of what he’d heard Jeremy say to Miss Thingy? I inhaled deeply and stared at him defiantly, though I’m not sure why, as it really wasn’t his fault my boyfriend was a lying cheating toe-rag.
“It’s my camcorder and I shall bloody well listen to it if I so choose.” I feigned calmness as I placed the evidential camcorder into my bag and hopped down off the bar stool.
“You might want to have a…friend…come sit with you as you watch it though.” I swallowed hard and tried blinking really fast, but it was already too late. One must always be grateful for the small mercies in life, I said to myself, thinking at least I wouldn’t end up with panda eyes as there was no mascara to smudge. I nodded my thanks to the barman and turned to leave, but not before taking one last look at the joyful Jeremy, now nestling into Thingy’s neck. Jeremy. Humph. The love of my life.
About the Author

Luckily Zara Kingsley was born and raised in a City she loves living in: London, UK. And it’s just as well, as she can barely afford to go on a camping holiday much less move. She has an adorable 9yr old daughter, and is a single mom, who likes to think of herself as a bit of a yummy mummy, when in reality she’s still working on shifting a tonne of cellulite of her ass. She does actually make it into the gym from time to time, but admits that such visits are mainly to appreciate the…ahem …view Description: ;-)
So what kind of stuff does she write?
Well, she writes what she loves reading: Romantic Comedy and the original kind of British Chick Lit. She doesn’t do vampires, werewolves, or horror. So if you like Bridget Jones or Shopaholic, then you might dig her stuff.
Zara Kingsley’s heroines are women in their late twenties / early thirties. Her heroes are hot, cute and not too hunky. Her stories are about life, love and friendship, with a few twists and turns and tons of fun. They’re not particularly deep, nor meaningful, they’re a light-hearted, easy read, that go well with a glass of wine and a few chocs, and just might make you laugh out loud.
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Overall giveaway on tour is 1 x ecopy of A Moral Dilemma plus Amazon GC $35/£20. 

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My Review

This is a light-hearted romantic comedy ideal for reading in the garden or on the beach. I particularly enjoyed getting to know Rebecca and the dilemma she finds herself in. Some of the minor characters had me laughing out loud, namely the Gustard. I wonder if he is based on anyone that the author met on her visits to the gym? He certainly struck a chord at any rate. There are some fantastic characters too at Pamper Moi, the Knightsbidge beauty salon where Rebecca works. Her boss is quite formidable and I loved to see how the balance of power kept changing. Dealing with the Sloaney set and their Sunday pot-fuelled afternoons is a mile away from my milieu yet somehow Zara Kingsley draws the reader into their world. Now I just have to get my head around a dress worth £10,000! 

My rating



Closing in - Sue Fortin

Harper Impulse/ Publication 15 May 2014
Digital first £2.99 (Paperback to follow)

Fight, Flight, Freeze or Fawn?

Helen has had to leave everything she’s ever known behind; her home, her family, even her own name.
Now, returning to the UK as Ellen Newman, she moves to a small coastal village, working as a nanny for Donovan, a criminal psychologist. Attractive, caring and protective, this single father and his sweet daughter are a world away from Ellen’s past. She thinks she’s escaped. She thinks she’s safe.
But something is wrong. Strange incidents begin to plague her new family, and their house of calm is about to become one of suspicion and fear. Who can be trusted? Who is the target? Who is closing in?
For fans of Emily Barr & Rosamund Lupton



The bag had been hidden at the back of the loft for several weeks now. Packed and ready to go. Helen checked the contents. The all-important papers were there. Deed poll, change of name. New bank account. New bank card. New passport. She ran her finger over the gold embossed coat of arms of the little red book before flicking through the green pages, pausing at the photograph. The face that had stared back at her all these years was the same; shoulder length blonde hair, hazel eyes and fair complexion but the name betrayed the picture. Helen Matthews was no more.
‘Hello, Ellen Newman.’ It was a whisper. Helen barely dared to say her new name out loud. The past twelve months had taught her caution at all times. She had been waiting for this opportunity for what seemed like forever; like a sleeper cell, her escape plan could finally be activated. Her hand shook at the thought of what lay ahead. A mixture of anticipation and fear. She took a moment to calm her breathing and bring the rush of adrenalin under control. She needed to keep a clear head and not panic. She had rehearsed this over and over again in her mind for several months. The anxiety passed, allowing the control to take its place. She closed the passport and stuffed it back into the holdall. ‘Come on, Ellen, let’s get you out of here.’

‘What do you mean, you don’t know where she is, Kate?’ He squeezed his mobile phone tightly, feeling the frustration rise but fought to keep it in check. ‘You’re her best friend. Surely she told you where she was going?’
‘Look, Toby, I honestly don’t know where she is.’
Toby didn’t miss the guarded note in Kate’s voice. She wasn’t going to tell him anything. He took a deep breath and forced a conciliatory tone. ‘I don’t even know why she took off. I got back from a weekend away clay pigeon shooting and found a note. I’m worried about her. That’s all. Please, Kate?’ Jesus, was he going to have to beg?
‘Okay,’ Kate relented. ‘If I hear from her, I’ll tell her to ring you or something.’
‘Thanks. I really appreciate it. I feel lost without her.’ Finishing the call he dropped his phone on to the sofa and picked up the note Helen had left.
Toby, by the time you read this, I will be gone. I am leaving you for good and not coming back. Things between us have become too bad. Please don’t try to find me. It’s over between us. Helen
P.S. Please remember to feed Scruffs. I’ve stocked the cupboard up with cat food so you don’t need to buy any more for at least a week.
He looked at Scruffs stretched out on the sofa next to him. Toby reached over and ran his fingers up and down the cat’s neck. He could feel all the tiny bones of its skeleton beneath the fur and skin. Scrawny little thing. Helen adored that cat and, yet, she had left it. This was all so out of character for her. Running out on him, on the cat, on their life together. It was the last thing he thought she would do. How had he not seen this coming and where in God’s name could she have gone? He was sure Kate knew. In fact, he’d stake his Square Mile bankers’ salary on it. Scooping the cat up, Toby continued to stroke the tortoiseshell fur as he walked over to the full length window. He stood looking out over the Islington skyline.
His finger and thumb massaged the back of the cat’s neck, before sliding all the way around, meeting under its chin.
‘You’re out there somewhere, Helen.’ He dropped Scruffs to the floor, ignoring the squeak of protest at the rather unceremonious dismissal. Toby pressed his forehead against the glass, the palms of his hands following suit. ‘I’m not letting you go without a fight, that’s for sure, sweetheart.’

About the Author

Lover of cake, Dragonflies and France. Hater of calories, maths and snakes. Sue was born in Hertfordshire but had a nomadic childhood, moving often with her family, before eventually settling in West Sussex.
Sue is married with four children, all of whom patiently give her time to write but, when not behind the keyboard, she likes to spend her time with them, enjoying both the coast and the South Downs, between which they are nestled.
To find out more about Sue visit her blogs www.suefortin.wordpress.com  and www.theromaniacs.co.uk Twitter : suefortin1. Facebook : Sue Fortin Writer's Page

The giveaway on tour is 1 x ecopy of Closing In, 1 x Amazon GC £5/$10 plus a handcrafted tote bag:


The Roman - Caroline Storer

Published Harper Impulse
20th February 2014

ROME AD 79 - The one woman he ever loved was the one woman who betrayed him. And now, the Roman will have his revenge… Marsallas and Justina were young, beautiful and desperately in love once, until a tragic betrayal tore them apart.  Six years have passed since that day and Marsallas has since thrown himself into the deadly world of chariot racing, gaining fortune, fame, and a salacious reputation throughout Rome.  His bed could be kept warm by a different woman each night if he chooses, but his heart remains iced over as the memory of Justina’s betrayal continues to haunts him.  The last thing he expects is to see her again, but when she steps back into his life he sees a chance to avenge his broken heart.  But beneath the hurt, an attraction so intense still burns between the two, and as their fates begin to intertwine once more, their determination to resist one another starts to falter…

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“Where is she?” he hissed, the words forced past tight lips, his face pinched with anger.
                  Marsallas said nothing for a moment as his mind raced frantically.  He stared at the wooden door, as if he could actually see through it.  Justina was here.  Outside and waiting for him.  He felt his stomach clench, and he forced down the wave of nausea that threatened at the thought of meeting her again.  Conflicting emotions surged though him.  Anger vied with despair.  Rage battled hope.  But it was fear that took precedence.  Because fear was a double edged sword…  
Fear could make him lose what little control he had over his emotions when it came to Justina; emotions he had ruthlessly tried to supress for years now.  Fear could make him lash out, to try and hurt her as much as she had hurt him, or equally, it could make him do something totally out of character, like pull her into his arms and kiss her.  Because when it came to Justina, she made him think and feel things he’d never felt for any woman. 
For six years long years he’d desperately tried to wipe her from his memory.  Sometimes he succeeded, often going weeks without thinking about her.  But then something would happen, a jolt to his memory, and he would find himself once more wondering about her…remembering her...
Justina.  The only woman he’d ever loved…and the only woman he’d ever hated.  She’d taken his love and thrown it back in his face, and in the space of one day she had systematically destroyed him.  Her betrayal had turned the young, untried man he’d once been, and made him into the cold, hard, bastard he was today. 
And now she was here, waiting outside his quarters, wanting an audience with him. 


About the Author

I’ve always been a dreamer, thinking up plots for books ever since I was a child.  I actually started writing my first book in 2007, when my husband “popped out for a bit” on New Year’s day and returned home about three hours later with a laptop he’d bought for me in the January sales.  I remember him plonking it down on my lap and saying, “Now you’ve got no excuse.  Start writing that book you’ve been going on about!” 
I work part time as an Environmental Health Officer, and I live on the beautiful (if slightly windy) island of Anglesey in North Wales.  (Anglesey, you may recall was recently home to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.)  I live in a small village near the sea with my very own AlphaHero husband – Colin, and my AlphaDog – Bob.

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You can find me on my blog at - http://carolinestorer.blogspot.co.uk/


For your chance to enter to grab some of the swag in this tour giveaway, follow Caroline on Twitter (@CarolineStorer6) and your answer in the comments to this question:
“Marsallas is a man who hides his warmth under a cold and arrogant front.  Which actor do you think would be suitable to play him in The Roman movie?”

Tell us what you think, and you’ll be entered into the draw.  Winners will be chosen by the author after the giveaway closes on 25th May 2014.  Don’t forget to leave your Twitter name in the comment too!

The giveaway is open Internationally:

2 x A4 notebooks
1 x A5 notebook
1 x A6 notebook
A pack of pens
A box of notelets and envelopes
A copy of Stephen King's "On Writing"