Thursday, 24 September 2015


To celebrate the launch of LIFE CLASS in its new clothes - new publisher, new cover - I reflect on how I came up with a couple of the characters.  

To celebrate the launch of LIFE CLASS in its new clothes - new publisher, new cover - I reflect on how I came up with a couple of the characters.  

At the time I was developing the story of LIFE CLASS, I had - and still have - a friend who did a very interesting (occasionally, even amusing) job.  If I gave the heroine of my story a job like my friend’s, she would be coming into contact with people - maybe people she knew - at very vulnerable, embarrassing and possibly life-changing moments. More than that, she might make perfectly reasonable assumptions about those people, assumptions which could colour her view of them and give her an ethical dilemma.  This was the crucial seed which turned on the ‘what if’ part of my brain.  Although the personality, biography and appearance of my heroine, Dory, is nothing like my friend’s, I gave Dory the same job, a lab technician at a sexual health clinic.

So I had my heroine, but I then I needed a hero. I had another friend who, at the time, worked as an admin assistant to a man who designed and sold fountains. It struck me that designing fountains was an unusual and interesting job. But I was thinking in terms of the artistic and creative aspects.  My friend put me right. Her boss was an engineer not an artist. He dealt more in the science of hydraulics and water flow. But the spark had been lit.

Other students at the sculpture workshop

The career which would fit the story better than "engineer" was "sculptor". In fact, when I thought about it, why bother with fountains at all? Fountains added an unnecessary complication. After all, a figurative sculptor is someone who himself needs to study the human form, but in a class set-up he would be more likely to be the teacher than a student. 

My hand, modelling the clay figure

Fortunately I knew two sculptors with whom I could do research. I could talk to them about their craft, their attitudes to their work and how they went about getting commissions, but more than that, I wanted to know how it felt to sculpt. I had dabbled in the past with clay, but wanted a more in-depth experience. So I signed on for a two day work shop with one of the sculptors I knew, Elisabeth Hadley.

I knew I had my bare bones. All I needed to do was begin adding flesh. There were still two more characters to find - LIFE CLASS was always going to be a story about four people - but their emergence into my imagination is another story.

About art, life, love and learning lessons, LIFE CLASS follows four members of an art class, who meet once a week to draw the human figure. All have failed to achieve what they thought they wanted in life. They each come to realise that it’s not just the naked model they need to study and understand. Their stories are very different, but they all have secrets they hide from the world and from themselves. By uncovering and coming to terms with the past, maybe they can move on to an unimagined future.

Dory says she works in the sex trade, the clean-up end. She deals with the damage sex can cause. Her job has given her a jaundiced view of men, an attitude confirmed by the disintegration of her own relationships. The time seems right to pursue what she really wants in life, if she can work out what that is. She moves back from London to the country town where she grew up and where her sister still lives, yet she remains undecided whether to make it a permanent move. She’s always been clear eyed realist  ̶  love doesn’t figure in her view of the future – and yet she finds herself chasing a dream. 

Stefan is a single-minded loner, whose overriding ambition is to make a living from his sculpture. So how the hell did he find himself facing a class of adults who want their old teacher back? If he can sell the big old house he’s inherited, he’ll be able to concentrate on his work and maybe give up the part-time teaching job. Love is an emotion he long ago closed off  ̶  it only leads to regret and shame  ̶  but it creeps up on him from more than one direction. Is it time to admit that letting others into his life is not defeat? 

Fran ̶ Dory’s older sister ̶ is a wife and a stay-at-home mother without enough to keep her occupied. Her husband’s early retirement plans throw her into a panic. She sees her life narrowing into staid middle-age. On a collision course with her mid-life crisis, Fran craves the romance and excitement of her youth. An on-line flirtation with an old boyfriend becomes scarily obsessive, putting everything she really loves at risk.  

Dominic is a damaged child. He has lived his life knowing all about sex but nothing about love. If he can only find his mother perhaps he can make sense of his past. But perhaps it is a doomed quest and it’s time to look to the future? If he can grow up enough to accept the help and love that is now being offered to him, he has the chance to transform his life. 

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Guest blog: Merryn Allingham - 'Daisy's Long Road Home'


That decided her. Grayson had been adamant she must say nothing that could precipitate the danger he feared. But she wouldn’t be saying anything. She wouldn’t be involved in any confrontation. In the strictest sense, she wouldn’t be going against his wishes. If she crept to the room while the palace slept, no one need ever know. She could make a brief search and return before anyone was

She slipped noiselessly out of bed and dressed in the clothes she’d worn the previous day. Grayson was still sleeping soundly when she let herself out of the suite and tiptoed into the corridor. Despite the brave words to herself, her fingers were tightly crossed that she could find her way back to the study and without meeting a fellow night wanderer. It turned out to be a more difficult journey than she’d anticipated. On several occasions, she turned in the wrong direction and found herself looking at a blank wall or down an unfamiliar corridor, and all
the time her heart was in her mouth at every creak of a wooden door or sigh of the palace walls. But eventually she stood outside the room she sought. Its door was no
longer ajar and that halted her. She could have no idea what, or even who, was behind its blank facade. She breathed deep and gathered her courage. She needed all of it to turn the door handle.

There was nobody. For a moment, she was overwhelmed with relief and had to grasp the back of the nearest chair to steady herself. She waited until her breathing had settled before she gave the room a swift scan. She must be quick, she couldn’t afford to linger. Grayson would be awake in less than an hour and ready to leave on his own adventure. She made for the desk. It was the most obvious place to look, but a cursory glance at the papers strewn across its surface, made plain there was little to interest her here. She bent down to the drawers on one side of the desk, methodically flicking through their contents and making sure she replaced everything as she found it. One side completed, but again nothing of interest. On to the drawers on the far side. She found them locked and her pulse beat a little quicker.

This could be it. Inside could be the letters she sought, the diary, the journal, anything that Karan had written in his time in Brighton. She tugged at each of the three compartments in turn, hoping the locks were too old to withstand an assault, and forgetting in her furious concentration that she’d intended to leave no trace of her visit. The drawers remained obstinately shut. Frustration made her careless and she shuffled the papers here and daisy’s long road home there on the desktop, looking for anything that might be strong enough to break the locks. A tray of pens, a sheaf of blotting paper and a paper knife, were all she found. Nothing she could use.

But perhaps, after all, it wasn’t the desk she should focus on. The bookcases that lined every wall might hold what she wanted. She walked slowly from one set of shelves to another, searching first the lower tiers and making sure she felt behind each row of books, then when that proved unsuccessful, dragging a chair to each bookcase in turn and clambering to the very top shelves. Still nothing. It had to be the desk. She bounced back across the room.

There was a madness in her now; the more frustrated she became, the more she believed there was something in this room, something locked in this desk, something that Talin Verghese did not want to be seen. If so, it had to concern his
dead son, and she had to get those drawers open. She went back to the desk and picked up the paper knife. It looked a feeble tool, but it was the only thing possible. She bent over the top drawer and had begun prodding and poking the lock with the knife, when a voice from the doorway made her heart jump in fright.

‘Are you quite mad?’

It was Grayson. Thank heaven for that at least.

‘I have to get these last three drawers open,’ was her sole explanation.

‘What are you thinking of? This is a private office, and if I’m not mistaken the Rajah’s personal domain. And you’re burgling it?’

‘It looks bad, I know.

‘Looks bad!’ Grayson’s expression was explosive. ‘It looks bloody lethal—for us. Now come back to the room, for God’s sake.’

‘I can’t. I have to open these drawers.’ Her whole life, it seemed, depended on opening them. It was stupid, but if she had been drowning and the drawers were weighing her to the ocean floor, she would have clung to them still.

Grayson took only an instant to decide. He strode over to the desk and took the paper knife from her hand. In three swift clicks, he’d opened three drawers.
She gaped at him.

‘What did you expect?’ His anger hadn’t abated. ‘That I couldn’t open locked drawers? Now get on with it.’

She scrambled through their contents as quickly as she could, but finished desolate. ‘There’s nothing.’

‘How surprising. Now let’s get the hell out of this place.’

‘Excuse, sahib, memsahib.’ A servant had slipped from behind one of the pillars lining the corridor and was watching them from the open door. Grayson slammed the drawers shut, his face the picture of chagrin.

‘We couldn’t sleep,’ he lied blatantly, ‘and decided to explore a little and then became lost.’

‘Of course, sahib. Please to come with me. I will escort you to your suite.’

In single file, they trooped back to the apartment, their feet as heavy as their hearts. As soon as the door had closed on their escort, Grayson turned to her in a fury.

‘You realise what you’ve done, don’t you? Compromised the whole
expedition. How could you?’

Despite his anger, she stood her ground. ‘I had to get into that room and this was my only chance. I can’t speak to Verghese. I can’t speak to his advisers or his servants. You’ve laid the law down on that. So how else can I get to what I need?’

‘What I need,’ he mimicked. ‘It’s always what you need, isn’t it? Everyone and everything else can go to hell.’

‘That’s not true. How can you, of all people, say that?’
She turned away from him and walked to the closed windows, her arms folded across her chest as though to keep the hurt she felt enclosed within.

‘I owe you my life, Daisy. Don’t you think I don’t remember that every single day? You’re brave, you’re determined, you’re loyal—up to a point. But if push comes
to shove, it’s what you want that will count. And with this obsession of yours, push does come to shove fairly frequently, doesn’t it? And this time, we’re talking a matter of life and death.’

‘It’s not like that,’ she said desperately. ‘You don’t understand.’

‘I never do, according to you. But what I do understand is that you’re prepared to act as selfishly as you choose. So selfishly that you’ll endanger not just your own life
but others’ too.’

She had never seen him so furious. His jaw was rigid and in the muted light his blue eyes were the darkest navy, glinting and angry. She was forced to concede then that she had done a very stupid thing and the fight went out of her.

‘I’m sorry. I’m truly sorry. I was so sure that I would find something.’

She must have been in the grip of madness, she thought, to think she could rifle the Rajah’s sanctuary and not be discovered. Even to think she could uncover any kind of clue.

‘But you didn’t find anything, did you? And just suppose you had.’ His voice was quiet but brittle. ‘Is that more important than finding Javinder, than saving Javinder?’

‘No,’ she mumbled miserably.

‘That’s what it amounts to, doesn’t it? You’ve put your own concerns before a young man’s safety and, to add insult to injury, you found nothing.’

She had found nothing and her heart ached for it.

‘I’m going back to bed.’ He began untying the robe he’d worn. ‘There’s little point in doing much else. Whatever plan I had is in tatters. From now on, they’ll be watching us every minute of the day and night.’

And without as much as a glance at her, he stalked into the adjoining room, leaving her staring at the closed door. The servants wouldn’t be gossiping after all, she thought forlornly. She was filled with sorrow, her legs weak, her feet shuffling into the bedroom they’d shared just an hour ago. The outline of his body was still there in the sheets, the pillows that had nursed his head still dented. The most

abject misery gripped her. It was as though the ribbon of her life had unspooled and, in that instant, been wiped blank. The quest, the obsession—and Grayson was right, the need to discover her history had become an obsession— had died an abrupt death. Why had she thought it so very important?

Buy now from Amazon UK:

Visit Merryn at

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Friday, 21 August 2015

The Silk Tie by Lily Harlem

The Silk Tie, erotic romance from Lily Harlem set in London.

Only from Amazon - free on Kindle Unlimited!

Back Cover Information

"If you enjoyed The Glass Knot you'll LOVE The Silk Tie." 

Professional life in the City of London is tough going which is why my husband Gabe and I live by the motto work hard and play hard. So when something, or rather someone, comes along that changes how he wants to play I’m intrigued by our sexy new game. 

But there's always private sides to the ones you love, and in this case new thoughts and desires are stealing Gabe’s dreams. It’s not until I meet Brent—gorgeous and sophisticated yet soul-achingly alone—that I begin to understand the complex layers of Gabe’s needs and exactly what I have to do. 

But I’m not afraid; in fact the idea of two men turns me the hell on. In a whirlwind of romance, fear, desire and a new cresting wave of passion we open up to each other, testing the water for one weekend only. Or is it? Will we ever be the same again? Can Gabe and I survive our decision to let a third into our bed? Can Brent just walk away and, more importantly, will we let him?


I am highly recommending this book. In fact, I want to climb a mountain and shout out to anyone who will listen, "READ THE SILK TIE!!!" It's a story that will stay with you long after you have read it.

I LOVED THIS BOOK!!! I have read several of Ms. Harlem’s book in the past, so I expected The Silk Tie to be a very enjoyable read. What I didn’t expect was the extreme level of heat that she would infuse into Hayley, Gabe and Brent’s story. I knew she wrote good sex, but my goodness this book was so hot it left me squirming several times. As if that weren’t enough to recommend the book, it is the relationships that develop between the three that keep this book from being just a sex-a-thon and makes an erotic romance.

I absolutely loved this book. The entwining of a happily married couple with a man who is going through a divorce.

The heat level on a scale of 1-10 was an 11!! The characters in this book were very well written and easy to love. They has such a dynamics that made you fall in love with them. If you like hot, sexy menage books, this book is for you.

This is one of the hottest books I have ever read, I could not put it down.

Amazon Best Seller!

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Guest blog: Mary Nichols - 'We'll Meet Again'

In the first big raid of the London Blitz in 1940, Sheila Phipps loses father, mother and five siblings. The only other possible survivor is her brother, Charlie, but he has disappeared. With no family and no home she has no choice but to live with her snobbish and unsympathetic aunt Constance in Bletchley. Also billeted with her aunt, is Lady Prudence Strange who works at Bletchley Park where German messages are decoded. Sheila is given a job there and the two girls form an unlikely friendship, united in the need to keep what they are doing a secret, even from family and boy friends. They are not the only ones with a secret. As the war progresses, more shocking secrets come to light, which have nothing to do with the war and everything to do with the past.


Sheila thought she knew every inch of every road in the district. It was her home, had been her playground, was where she worked, but it had been a nightmare trying to find her way round blocked off roads, rubble spilling into streets, and a cityscape changed almost beyond recognition. The nearer she came to home, the worse it was. And then she had stopped transfixed.
This street of rubble had once been a row of terrace houses. Now you couldn't tell one from the other. Stones, bricks, bits of wood, broken roof tiles, twisted water pipes, smashed furniture, scraps of cloth and shattered glass were piled up like some giant bonfire. 'Mum,' she murmured.

Bletchley Park: the main house
'Sheila. Sheila Phipps.' The voice was almost against her ear, but it hardly penetrated her confused
brain. 'Sheila.'
She turned at last to face Bob Bennett. He was in his thirties, wearing an armband that told everyone he was ARP and a tin hat on which was stencilled 'Air Raid Warden.'
'Mr Bennett. Where's Mum? And the kids? And Pa? Where are they?'
He put his hand on her shoulder. 'Your mum and the children were at home when it happened.'
'Under that?' She nodded towards the rubble that had once been their house.
'I'm afraid so. It got a direct hit. They wouldn't have known anything about it.  The rescue squad got them out. They were taken to the school to be made ready for identification and burial.'
'All of them? Every single one?'
He nodded. 'Annie was still alive when we dug them out, but she died on the way to hospital.'
'Oh.' She was too numb to shed tears. She felt as dry as the dust that lay thick over everything.  It was still very warm but she felt cold as ice and could not stop shivering.  She found her voice with a monumental effort. 'And Pa? And Charlie?'
'We haven't seen either of them. They'd be at work, wouldn't they?' Since the beginning of the war, they had been working longer shifts and free Saturday afternoons had become a thing of the past. Bob, who worked in a munitions factory when he wasn't being an Air Raid Warden, was working every other Sunday.
'Yes. They'd be due home at half past six, except Pa is in the AFS.'
'He'd be putting out fires then?'
'I suppose so. P'raps Charlie stayed with him.'
'Very likely. You can't stand here, you know. You need to report to the Rest Centre to register as homeless. The WVS will give you a cup of tea and a bite to eat and find you some clothes and a bed for the night.'
'I don't want to rest. I want to see Mum and my brothers and sisters.'
'Are you sure?'
'Very well. I'll take you.'
He took her to a school where the bodies were laid on the hall floor in rows, covered with sheets. If the rescuers knew who they were, they were carefully labelled, though in some cases, they could not be identified. Sheila, following Mr Bennett up and down the rows, thought she must be in the middle of a terrible nightmare. He stopped and bent to read a label. Then slowly drew the sheet back from the face.

Bletchley Park: Back view of the bombe

Mum looked so peaceful, serene almost. Usually she was dashing about cooking, washing, sweeping up and shouting at one or the other of them for not tidying away their things or getting under her feet, flapping at them with a damp tea towel while wisps of auburn hair escaped its pins. Now she slept a final sleep and the lines of worry had gone for her face and she looked like the beautiful woman she had been on her wedding photograph. No wonder Pa had fallen in love with her.
'That is your Mum, isn't it?' Mr Bennett queried.
She nodded without speaking. He covered the face again and went on to the next and the next.  They were all there, except Charlie: Dickie, Dorrie, Maggie, Bobby and little Annie who had only this term joined her brothers and sisters at school. This night the school was a morgue.
'We found them all huddled together,' he said. 'Your mother was lying on top of them, trying to shield them. Of course she couldn't but it was brave of her to try.'
'I should have been there,' she said dully.  'I should have been with them.  Ma said we'd all die together.'
'She couldn't have known that, could she? What with your father and Charlie and you all at work.'
'I expect she thought if there were raids, they'd be at night when we were all at home. I don't know what Pa is going to say when he sees this.  He doesn't know does he?'
'We've sent someone to find him. Now, are you ready for the rest centre?'
'I ought to go and look for Pa.'
'Leave it to us, my dear. You can't go into that inferno and he wouldn't want to lose you too, would he?'
'No, I s'pose not.'
He took her to the South Hallsville school which had been utilised for bombed out families. They were lying on mattresses all over the floor. Some were asleep, some crying, some staring in bewilderment unable to take in what had happened to them. Some women were breast feeding babies, others nursing minor wounds; those with more severe injuries had been taken to hospital. The children's reactions were as divers as the adults about them. The cried, they laughed, they dashed about shouting and pretending to be aeroplanes with arms outstretched. Some, who had lost parents sat huddled in corners looking petrified or weeping heartbrokenly. At the end of the assembly hall a couple of tables had been set up and here Civil Defence and the Women's Voluntary Service worked side by side, taking names, suggesting places to go for the night, handing out tea and sandwiches.
Mr Bennett took her to one of the tables and introduced her, then left. He looked exhausted but she knew he wasn't going home, not yet, not until he had accounted for everyone on his patch.  He had a list of the occupants of every house and business for which he and his men were responsible and he was duty bound to match bodies and survivors against his list.

We’ll Meet Again is out in paperback now, available from bookshop and online. ISBN: 9780 7490 17040.

Mary Nichols is author of The Kirilov Star (saga), Promises and Pie Crusts (e-book), historical romance (Mills & Boon) The Mother of Necton (biography)

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Brit Boys: On Boys - ON SALE

Post by Lily Harlem

For one week only you can grab the steamy M/M boxed set, Brit Boys: On Boys at a bargain price. Immerse yourself in eight sexy novellas by eight of the hottest British M/M authors - includes my story The Chase - all characters are British and all locations are in the British Isles, go on, what are you waiting for, come be seduced by these sexy English, Welsh, Scot and Irish men... Need more convincing, check out the many 5* reviews!

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Two Medieval Historical Mysteries for under £4.00

Two historical mysteries in the Widow of Bath series are half-price at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, UK Nook, Kobo and Apple until July 15th. For details just go my Lindsay's Book Chat blog and click on the links on the right-hand sidebar

Lindsay Townsend