Romancing September #RomancingSeptember – Day 22


Welcome to Day 22 of Romancing September Across The World Tour. Today our guest is Lynn Montagano. Catch up with more from Lynn in a few hours with the second part of our tour when Stephanie chats to her.

Catch My Breath

Where is your home town?

Scituate, Rhode Island

How long have you been writing romance?

Three years

What is your favourite sub-genre of romance?


Where is Lia taking her Vacation?

Glasgow, Scotland.

Why does she need a break?

She’s recently broken up with her possessive, jealous boyfriend and is looking forward to a low-key vacation for her sister’s wedding in Scotland.

How does she meet Alastair?

It’s her first night in Scotland and she’s a little jet-lagged and tired but joins her friends for a charity benefit. She ‘bumps’ into Alastair at the bar there.

Why is she attracted to him?

Well, at first glance it’s because he’s so handsome and has the great accent and all that. As she gets to know him better, she’s enticed by what he doesn’t reveal. There’s a story behind his eyes that he keeps to himself and she wants to know what it is.

Can you hint at what Alastair has to hide?

He suffered a great loss as a child. Without saying too much, he’s closed off and keeps everyone at arm’s length as a way to deal with it.

Tell us what you are working on at the moment.

I’m doing some final rewrites on the third book in this series but haven’t started anything new….yet. I do have an idea for another contemporary romance with a dash of the supernatural.

Where can readers find out more about you?

Lynn Montagano

I happen to have an arsenal of links at my disposal.




Twitter: @LynnMontagano

Buying links:

Amazon US:

Amazon UK:

Google Play:


Find out more about Lynn from Stephanie Hurt’s blog and all our Romance writers

Romancing September #RomancingSeptember – Day 20


Welcome to Day 20 of Romancing September Across The World Tour. Today our guest is Susan Buchanan. Catch up with more from Susan in a few hours with the second part of our tour when Stephanie chats to her.


Where is your home town?

Kilsyth, near Glasgow, although I don’t live there anymore. I live south of the city now.

How long have you been writing romance?

Well, it’s not pure romance, more chick lit, so let’s say 2 years, as my first novel was more drama-based, even though there’s lots of romance in Sign of the Times too.

What is your favourite sub-genre of romance?

Chicklit, without question, although I do like those with a bit of a moral to them and I am not a fan of those with Jimmy Choos and where everyone works in PR or Media.

Where does Gill work? 

She has her own recruitment company, based in Glasgow.

What does she do about her lack of a love life?

Initially she ignores it, but her friends keep trying to set her up on blind dates, which are awful. After a terrible date with a pumped-up gym bore, she joins Happy Ever After dating agency, after seeing an ad on a bus billboard.

How many men does she meet? 


Tell us a bit about some of the men?

Well, there’s Anton, the Russian research scientist, who is very sensitive to her needs and very thoughtful. There’s Sean, the Irishman who works in music (Gill has a thing for Irish accents). Then Charlie who’s separated and has a little girl. Seeing him in his flying jacket makes Gill think of Tom Cruise in Top Gun. And we’ll keep the others a secret for now!

Gill and her friends take a trip to Spain, who does she meet there?

She meets a man, in the unlikeliest of circumstances, just when she is taking a break from dating (even if it’s only over a long weekend). But it isn’t a romantic meeting, although he does save her.

Tell us what you are working on at the moment.

When I get time, I’m working on two books, a Christmas book , which unfortunately isn’t likely to be finished in time for this Christmas, and What If, the story of Cameron, a bit of a lad, a serial womanizer who at 45 has an epiphany which will change his life and question his sanity!

Where can readers find out more about you?

Susan Buchanan

Oh, even though I’m a lot busier these days, I am still often to be found on

Twitter susan_buchanan,

occasionally I nip over to Facebook – ,

and, of course, there’s always my blog –

Find a copy of The Dating Game here from or

Find out more about Susan from Stephanie Hurt’s blog and all our Romance writers

Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT – Barb reviews A Different Place To Die by RR Gall

Today’s book review comes from team member Barb. She blogs at


Barb chose to read and review A Different Place to Die by RR Gall.


Here is Barb’s review.

How do you get a damaged detective? Of course, you start with Raymond Chandler’s advice: “A really good detective never gets married.” Then you balance every one of his (and yes, it’s usually a man) godlike intuitive abilities with a personality and/or medical flaw so overwhelming that their oracle-like abilities are wiped out by their shortcomings. Oh, and it helps if it’s really cold where they live. So you have Kurt Wallander in Sweden (wife left him/diabetic/borderline alcoholic/and—as if that’s not enough—Alzheimers), or Arkady Renko in Russia (politically cynical, chain-smoking, workaholic), or even the wizard detective Harry Dresden in Chicago (most of his girlfriends get mind-raped and he occasionally has to kill them).

Or you go straight for the holy grail of damaged… put the detective in Scotland like Rankin and the rest of the Tartain Noir writers do. Preferably in winter.

RR Gall takes this one step further in his new police procedural, A Different Place to Die. He splits the detective into two. Neither are married, both live in Scotland, and both are very damaged. One half is Inspector Tom Quiss, who has lost his nerve for hard crime and moved to head up the Glasgow Police Department’s newly formed civilian support group, which was downsized almost before it began. The other half is very young Shona Bally, one of his two civilian employees. Their assessment of each other is brutally pithy. “He thinks she is too young for the job. She thinks he is too old for the job. She wears too much make-up. He needs to comb his hair.” The appalled Quiss and delighted Shona are soon called in assist the overworked police with an apparent suicide, one with an unusual twist. An older couple have left a polite note and taken a horrific poison—after breaking into the house of complete strangers. As the unlikely duo attempt to identify the dead couple only to have each clue lead to new bodies, they find themselves in a race to prevent even more deaths.

A Different Place to Die should have so much going for it. The premise of two unlikeable and flawed characters forced to work together is good. But they were so initially unsympathetic that it was hard to maintain interest in either one for the length of time it took to establish backstories that would explain their issues. The book started slowly, with an extended description of Quiss’ obsession with lawn bowls, in which sport he fantasizes about representing Scotland in the next Commonwealth Games. There is just one problem. “But to represent Scotland, no matter the sport—what a dream, what an honour. The only thing is—Tom Quiss has never played an actual game of bowls in his life.” We are told very little about Shona, who is like Tom in that she seems to be emotionally frozen.

Quirky characterization can carry many books, and is especially helpful in mysteries. But ultimately, a mystery story lives or dies on the strength of its plot. Unfortunately, for me that is where A Different Place to Die is less successful. It’s difficult to talk about detective plots when you want to avoid spoilers. But the central mystery of why the deaths occurred in stranger’s houses is actually… not answered. Plot-wise, there just isn’t really a reason for it. Even more problematical is the list of plot holes that grows steadily. If there is one thing that detective fiction does need to do, it is to wrap those up at the end. So to have the final explanation be that there must be some far-reaching and high-level conspiracy is just not on.

Because of the quality of the writing and premise of the characters, I would stretch up to three stars for A Different Place to Die. But I’m frustrated because I think it could have been so much more. On a personal note, because I live in Glasgow I was disappointed that there wasn’t a more intimate look at the city. But I also would have liked more emotional connection with Quiss and Shona. For example, if these publicly unsympathetic characters had given us sympathetic glimpses into the reasons for their damage early on, it would have made it easier to take their persistently unpleasant bickering and fairly egregious nastiness. If the giant conspiracy is being seeded as backstory to a continuing series for this pair, then hints should have been dropped throughout the book. Or frankly—and I know this is Scotland but bear with me—if there had been a little comic relief from the unrelentingly depressing interactions between almost everyone in the entire book, it would have moved it to four or more stars immediately.

Find a copy here from or

Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT Fran reviews A Different Place to Die by RR Gall

Today we have a book review from Fran. She blogs at


Fran chose to read  “A different Place to Die” by RR Gall.


Here is the review.

4 star Amazon Review – A Different Place to Die by R.R. Gall

Quirky Glasgow Investigators in a Mystery that Twists and Turns

The first thing to hook me in R.R. Gall’s mystery/thriller, A Different Place to Die, was the characters. From the start, it is obvious Inspector Tom Quiss is struggling with his work. He thinks of just jacking his job in and taking up lawn bowling with dreams of playing on the Scottish National Team – even though he has never played on a team. The way he seeks escape makes him the type of character a reader can bond with.

The author’s descriptions of the man are fresh and catch the reader’s imagination. “Quiss has become slightly more handsome with age: his features finally gathering together after decades of gawky detachment. They have collected to bring a touch of distinction, a hint of appeal.” There is something so human about Tom Quiss

Next up is Shona Bally, a civilian investigator for the Glasgow police. The reader meets Shona as she goes through her daily makeup rituals. She is preparing to start a new job that will bring her into conflict with Inspector Quiss. Shona would never want to appear unfashionable and it is a stroke of writer’s genius to introduce the reader to her as she painstakingly deals with her appearance. One of Quiss’ ongoing observations of Shona has to do with her makeup. Whenever she blinks he imagines her eye lids like blinking semaphore flags sending out some mystery message.

The final character who will figure prominently in the mystery is Elspeth, Shona’s civilian investigator partner. We first see Elspeth through Shona’s eyes – a frumpy middle-aged woman dressed like she’s off to Church. Shona can’t help but think some makeup would help.

The novel is off and running and the reader is often given brief asides as to how the three main characters view one another. These asides serve to tell as much about the character in question as the one doing the assessing. Shona sees Quiss as teetering on the edge of casual and unkempt. She thinks, “Straighten up, man.” Those three words set the stage for all the interactions between Quiss and Shona. She pushes him continually to straighten up and do his job.

“He thinks she is too young for the job. She thinks he is too old for the job. She wears too much makeup. He needs to comb his hair.” And so it goes, back and forth in a delightful string of inner dialogue.

Elspeth’s take on Quiss is about the only thing she and Shona have in common. “She noted the crumples in his shirt – a match for his rumpled trousers – and wished he would see to his appearance. An image of him in his underwear came to her; an image of him standing beside her ironing board at the start of the morning, waiting for her to finish pressing his clothes. And she thought of the comb sitting in her handbag right now: wondering how he would react if she handed it to him one morning. A quick pull through would make all the difference.” Again, the author has masterfully foreshadowed just what makes Elspeth tick – she wants to be needed.

The second thing that hooked me was the actual mystery. This book is a page turner with a number of twists and turns that keep the reader guessing. When the actual motive for the bizarre string of murders is revealed, I freely admit, I never saw it coming. Enough is held back, and more than a few red herrings are tossed out along the way to make readers feel as though they are involved in the actual investigation.

R. Gall has managed to write a mystery/thriller that is both character and plot driven and one aspect never overshadows the other. Through snappy dialogue between the characters much is revealed about each without the author feeling the need to elaborate on their backstories. We see them as they are for the period of time it takes the novel to unwind and are left to speculate about the details of the rest of their lives. On a couple of occasions, I felt I had to speculate too much – Elspeth and her mystery husband’s fate really left me pondering. There were a few too many threads left dangling with the crime resolution for my liking. But hey, it’s not necessarily a bad thing for an author to leave a reader wondering.

Kudos to R.R. Gall for the ability to create characters with broad brush strokes who came alive to the point that the reader craves to know more. Double kudos for placing those characters in a mystery that kept the heat turned up page after page.

Find a copy here from or

Fallen For Rock by Nicky Wells (June 30th)

22194719Fallen for Rock by Nicky Wells

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Emily Trenden works in banking. She’s good at her job but she’s recently broken up with her boyfriend and life has reached a turning point. A mystery package reveals VIP tickets from Rock Radio FM to a concert for rock band MonX. Nate had won tickets and entered the competition in her name, what is she to do with the tickets? Emily hates rock she’s a classic music girl.

Desperately she tries to contact Nate to tell him about the tickets, leaving loads of phone messages, but he doesn’t reply. On a whim and a last ditch hope that Nate will meet her at the venue Emily decides to go to the concert. A rock virgin, Emily blags her way through the experience and finds she actually enjoys herself.

A new Emily acts completely out of character and is on the tour bus the next morning heading to Glasgow and getting very cosy with lead singer Mike. She steps out of her comfort zone, but finds she’s still in love with Nate.

Back at work, Emily is shocked when she hears that MonX have split and the reporters are hounding her, when pictures hit the newspapers of her in Mike’s arms looking high on drugs. Suspension by her boss gives Emily the push to put her skills to good use, help a friend and perhaps finally tell Nate how she really feels.

This is a fast paced, rock romance which spreads it’s own magic as you read.

Find a copy here from |

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Nicky Wells


About Nicky Wells: Romance that Rocks Your World!

 Ultimate rock chick author Nicky Wells writes romance with rock stars—because there’s no better romantic hero than a golden-voiced bad boy with a secret soft heart and a magical stage presence!

Nicky’s books offer glitzy, glamorous romance with rock stars—imagine Bridget Jones ROCKS Notting Hill! If you’ve ever had a crush on any kind of celebrity, you’ll connect with Nicky’s heroes and their leading ladies.

Born in Germany, Nicky moved to the United Kingdom in 1993 and currently lives in Lincoln with her husband and their two boys. Nicky loves listening to rock music, dancing, and eating lobsters. When she’s not writing, she’s a wife, mother, occasional knitter, and regular contributor at Siren 107.3 FM with her own monthly show. Rock on!

Nicky’s books: Sophie’s Turn | Sophie’s Run | Sophie’s Encore | Spirits of Christmas

Fallen for Rock |

Join Nicky:Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Romantic Novelists’ Association |Sapphire Star Publishing | Amazon | Goodreads| Pinterest


Did you know? There’s a single out now by Nicky’s fictional rock band Tuscq come to life! “Love Me Better” is available for download from Amazon, iTunes and many other places.

Fallen for Rock SWAG Giveaway!



To celebrate the launch of Fallen for Rock and to spread some joy, I’m giving away the following items:

One Large Signed Poster of “Fallen for Rock”

Three Sets of Signed “Fallen for Rock” Swag (Postcards and Bookmarks)

Three Sets of Signed “Fallen for Rock SWAG SPECIAL” including 2 bookmarks, 2 postcards and 2 guitar picks

Five Sets of Signed “Fallen for Rock” Guitar Picks (two picks per set)

One Set of “The Complete Nicky Wells Swag” (signed): Bookmarks and postcards for Sophie’s Turn, Sophie’s Run, Sophie’s Encore, Spirits of Christmas and Fallen for Rock

One Audio CD: Bon Jovi “Greatest Hits” (2010)

One Amazon Gift Certificate for £5/$7 or equivalent

Enter Here;

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Small Print:
Giveaway is open internationally. Giveaway entrants must be aged 18 or over. Giveaway closes at midnight on 14 August 2014. Winners will be notified by email.

Ten things you didn’t know about the rock star life — by Mike Loud Loud (MonX)

1)      You’re never alone. Ever. Not even on the toilet. Once you make it big, there’s always someone lurking somewhere, quite possibly with a camera.

2)      Rock stars work the most unsociable hours imaginable. When we’re recording, we’ll quite often start at two or three pm and then work through until four or five in the morning. No kidding. It’s intense!

3)      Temptation is everywhere, in every sense of the word, in every way you can imagine. The biggest temptation of all is to think you’ve made it big, and to let go of reality. I call that falling ‘off the cliff.’ Sadly, it happened to my lead guitarist, and the band was never the same.

4)      Contrary to popular belief, you don’t just get free upgrades to first class by airline staff, at least not anymore. I’ve tried.

5)      However, you can be certain to walk into almost any restaurant and be given a table at a moment’s notice. That’s got something to be said for it if you can’t be bothered to cook and the label is picking up the tab!

6)      The rock star life is actually pretty boring when we’re not touring or recording. They call it ‘resting’ but it drives me mad. I don’t do resting.

7)      We do have to pay rent and/or mortgages. That’s why most of us live in fairly ‘normal’ places unless the millions are literally rolling in.

8)      Self-doubt is an occupational hazard. Every song I write is ‘shite’ at some point. In fact, only the songs that don’t go through the ‘shite’ cycle turn out to be really crap. Sometimes, just sometimes, I wonder what my life wouldn’t have been easier if I’d stayed an architect. NOT!

9)    We’re hell to live with. Ladies, if you have visions of living in blissful harmony with your resident rock star idol, think again. We’re notoriously bad-tempered in the morning. Actually, we’re notoriously bad-tempered in the afternoon too. We hate being interrupted when we’re working. Ask Emily, she’ll tell you a story or three. We’re not proud of the fact but… we can’t help it.

10) Being a rock star is like being a vicar. You don’t decide to be a rock star. It’s a calling and a vocation and an addiction. Once you know what you’ve got to do, you’re done for and there’s no way out. Bing a rock star totally rocks. Being on stage and seeing all of you cheer and clap and sing along gives me a high like nothing else. I’m totally addicted to it and wouldn’t do anything else, ever, not even in the darkest moments of point 8 above. It’s who I am and what I do.

7 - RomanceRockBanner_NickyWells

The Magic of Rock

‘It’s the magic of rock,’ Nate’s voice whispered in my head, and I jumped. For a second, I felt a little tearful. ‘The magic of rock’ was one of his favourite expressions, but I had always laughed it off. Oh, if only Nate were with me. Maybe the magic of rock would magically fix us, too.

~Excerpt from Fallen for Rock

The magic of rock. This is one of the key phrases in Fallen for Rock. In fact, it’s what the book is all about. Falling for the magic of rock.

Now, as you can see, Emily doesn’t get it. At least not at the beginning. My challenge was to make her understand. So what is it, this ‘magic of rock’? What does it mean? Well, let’s see.

It’s all about contradictions. Tough men with long hair. Bad boys with golden voices. Loud music with complex harmonies. Pounding rhythms and power ballads.

A good rock song is like a mini symphony. It’s deceptive in its simplicity, and it gets people singing along. It gets people involved with music. A rock concert is a living, thriving body of musicians on stage and off stage. The audience turns into a massive choir and percussion set. Everyone becomes part of something larger, something unique and extraordinary, something that leaves no room for everyday worries. For those two hours, the fans get swept away and transported to another place where everything is (nearly) perfect.

A good rock musician is a skilled as a classical performer, and in many more ways than ‘just’ performing. Rock musicians doesn’t ‘just’ make music. They also know about acoustics and the technology that makes it happen, for them on stage and for the audience in the hall. And they’re performers—entertainers, sometimes comedians, occasionally magicians. The show is about a lot more than ‘just’ the music. It’s an experience.

Last but not least, rock music is ‘real.’ I know, that sounds like another contradiction, doesn’t it? How can it be real when the instruments are largely electric? Electric guitars, electric bass, keyboards. But see, this is just superficial. The ‘electric bit’ only augments the sound. All the playing is real. There’s no (or very little) sampling, no automated drumming or chords. And the subject matter is real. More often than not, rock music is about ‘real stuff.’ Bad days at work, being out of work, drug use and abuse, falling in and out of love. Rock music touches people because it’s relevant to them.

This is the magic of rock, all of it put together. Powerful music with strong melodies; contradictions, and involvement, and keeping it real. On stage, the whole thing is underscored by light shows and stage effects that add drama and literally immerse you in that world.

Does Emily get it by the end of the book? You’ll find out… Happy reading, and rock on!


Guest Author R.R. Gall

Today our guest is Richard, R Gall, author of yesterday’s book The Wrath Inside, here is a link to the post if you missed it.

RR Gall

Let’s find out more about Richard and his writing.

1) Where is your home town?
   I live in Dumfries, Scotland.
2) How long have you been writing?
   As I’m getting on a bit now, it’s been quite a long time. I’ve dabbled away since my twenties but only started properly when the big 50 hit me for 6.
3) What genres do you enjoy writing?
   Usually murder/mysteries: the crime giving a peg to hang everything on.
4) Where did the idea for The Wrath Inside come from?
   It started by wanting to know what life was like at that time. Just basic things like: what they ate, how they made a living, their views, and how much, or, indeed, how little they knew of the world. With that in mind, I decided to set the story in a small, ordinary town.
   Also, as part of the research, I read old and modern translations of The Bible and was surprised by how the resonance changed with the language. So I tried to write something that would feel contemporary: hopefully showing that people have changed little through the years and that events in the book are no different to ones going on in places round the world today.
5) Tell us some of the historical background to the area which this book is set in at the time of AD 15
   There had been many different conquerors over the years (Persians, Greeks, etc) and now The Romans were in charge. But unease was growing – people wanted to be free from oppression. Revolts flared up, only to be sharply quashed.
6) What illnesses were both Ezera’s parents suffering from?
   There is more in the next story.
7) What jobs did Ezera and his friends have in their day to day life?
   In the area where the story is set, most would have worked the land. There would be set chores in the home as well. They would also be expected to study Scripture and Law.
8) Joseph Caiaphas had a lot of power over the people, how would Rome have dealt with this threat?
   I doubt if the Romans would have been all that bothered by the priest – as long as he did not overstep the mark. Similarly, High Priest Annas wielded great power for a long time but was only deposed after taking things a bit too far – perhaps sentencing people to death. However, he remained influential, in the background, for many more years to come.
9) Tell us about your trilogy.
   The Dumfries Detective Trilogy is a murder/mystery set of stories. It consists of: The Case of the Pig in the Evening Suit, The Case of Colourful Clothes and Kilts, The Case of the Hermit’s Guest Bedroom.
   As the titles suggest, there is supposed to be some fun in them but, also, enough thrills and spills to keep the tension going right through to the last book.
   Unusually, this amateur detective, Jin Johnstone, is not very good at what he does – although he is well-intentioned. Nevertheless, as the trilogy progresses, it is possible to see him improve as a detective, and, almost as importantly, as a man.
   All the action takes place in and around the Scottish town of Dumfries – taking in its sights and its colourful characters.
10) What are you working on at the moment? Do you have an expected publication date for fans?
    I’m writing a (slightly different) police procedural murder/mystery, set in Glasgow. It will be out at the summer.
The Wrath Inside
Find a copy on or

Guest Author Susan Buchanan

Today our guest is Susan Buchanan author of yesterday’s book  The Dating Game. Click here for my book review if you missed it.

Susan Buchanan

Let’s find out more about Susan.

1) Where is your home town?

I now live in Hamilton, just outside Glasgow, but am originally from Kilsyth, a small town on the other side of Glasgow (I have moved around a lot though, living also in France and Spain)

2) How long have you been writing?

Since I was a teenager, but I only seriously took up the task about 12 years ago, when I started writing Sign of the Times – it took me 6 years to write it…

3) What made you decide to write a book about dating?

A friend of mine had joined a dating agency aimed at professional people who were short on time, and I thought ‘now there’s an idea for a novel!’

4) Can you tell readers about some of Gill’s disastrous relationships before she joins the dating agency?

Sure. She was married to Barry – a blip as she terms it now. They should have lived together first. Then she had a bit of a stalker boyfriend in Timothy – a bit too much Sleeping With The Enemy for her. Good old Colin, who unfortunately worked away a lot – wasn’t exactly handy – given that he was in Dubai most of the time. Clive had lied about his occupation…and when the truth came out it had turned Gill’s stomach. Iron-pumping, bore Graham, who was more obsessed with his own body than hers was the final nail in the coffin.

5) Tell us about Gill’s great Girlfriends and how they support her.

Her friends are great. Angela and Lisa are always at loggerheads. Angela is a single mum, relatively serious, but sticks up for her friends.  She’s also a feisty type. Debbie is really Gill’s first port of call. She’s a vet and married with a daughter, but she always finds time to meet up with Gill and be her sounding board. Lisa takes no prisoners and is a bit of a man magnet. She treats them mean and keeps them keen, but she’d do anything for her friends. A beautician, she takes it upon herself to ensure Gill looks her best for her dates.  The girls spend a lot of time together and are always there for each other.

6) The trip to Barcelona chapters were really good, have you ever been to the festival yourself?

Oh yes! Twice. Ironically I didn’t know about it when I lived there in the ‘90s and the first time I went a few years ago, I came across it by chance when I was out for a walk. I was meant to have been three times, actually, but a French air traffic control strike meant my flight was cancelled one year – end of trip. I was seriously piddled off, I can tell you. The festival is fantastic. And there’s a wine festival which ties in with it, too – just saying!

7) Of Gill’s dates which was your favourite and why?

When Anton took her to the concert hall to a classical music concert. It was so thoughtful of him and I love classical music, so if he had taken me there, I would have just about married him!

8) Tell us about your other books.

Well, my first book Sign of the Times, is a zodiac-themed contemporary romantic comedy drama (can I fit in any more descriptive words?!) where the twelve main characters (yes, 12 main characters) are based around the signs of the zodiac. They are, however, all linked. Each character has the traits of the relevant sign of the zodiac.

The Christmas Spirit, which was released in December, is a feel good, festive tale of one very special lady, Natalie Hope, who makes it her mission in life to instil Christmas spirit in those who for whatever reason aren’t looking forward to Christmas.

The story centres around the bakery café where she is temporary manager and charts the lives of the five people she helps. Rebecca has just split from her boyfriend, Jacob is still on the dole, Stanley’s wife died that year, and Meredith is a workaholic who doesn’t make time for family and is more interested in spread sheets and reports. Then, on the periphery, you have Sophie, who is also affected by the events which Natalie sets in motion.

9) What are you working on at the moment?

My fourth novel, What If. It has kind of become two storylines in one. On the one hand, you have Cameron, who starts to think ‘what if’ about several key decisions he has made in his life, but he has also made a startling discovery and this is integral to the novel, the direction it takes and the choices he makes for his future.

10) Do you have an expected publishing date?

I always have these crazy, ambitious targets, but let’s be a little vague and simply say Summer 2014! And on that note, it’s back to writing What If

The Dating Game

Find a copy here from or

Thank you Susan, it’s been great finding out more about you and your work, good luck with the new book.

The Dating Game by Susan Buchanan

The Dating GameThe Dating Game by Susan Buchanan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Dating Game is a wonderful contemporary novel. From the title you know it will be about dating, Gill needs to get a social life and find a man to share it with, a workaholic Gill has been busy setting up her own recruitment agency in Glasgow and putting in long hours to make it a success. She wants more from life than just work, so she makes a bold move to join a dating agency.

The first 3 profiles of men quickly arrives and Gill asks her best girlfriends for their support and advice before agreeing to setting up her dates. Gill soon goes from no social life to a very hectic one as more dates get lined up. Charlie and Anton prove to be great initial first dates and Gill is encouraged to make second dates with them.

Meanwhile the recruitment agency business is so busy that Gill decides to look for more staff herself to help out, so she is in a loop of interviewing new dates, new recruits for herself and new recruits for clients.

Gill and her girlfriends have booked a short trip to Barcelona for the Merce Festival which takes place in September. This is a famous event in Spain celebrating wine and cava from the Catalan vineyards, the girls plan to include sightseeing, shopping, the beach and plenty of wine tasting. The trip comes at a time when Gill’s relationship with Anton looks about to get more serious, but Anton is busy too, he must go to Russia on business.

The Barcelona trip adds lots of great descriptions of events, people and places, Gill is saved from a mugging by a fellow Scot, who she literally bumps into upon their return. She picks up the fast pace of her life once more and is busy with more dates, but what happened to Anton?

I really enjoyed this book and happily wanted to shout at Gill that she chose the wrong man, but that was my opinion I wonder who you would choose in her place?

Find a copy here from or

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Author Susan Buchanan will be our guest of the blog tomorrow, come back and find out more about her writing.

Guest Author Mac Black

Today our guest is author Mac Black. Yesterday I reviewed his first book in the “Derek” series, “Please call me Derek” here is a link to the review.

Mac Black

Now let’s find out more about Mac and his writing.



Where is your hometown?

If a home is just an address then I have had a few, but, of course, home is much more than that. There are three places that stand out for me, and all in Scotland. Glasgow was where I was born and brought up – a long time ago! That was in days when ships were built in large numbers on the River Clyde. Back then I worked as a ship draughtsman. A dramatic reduction in the demand for Clyde-built ships, not caused by me I hasten to add, meant a change of employer and of home. I moved to a new job in Dundee, quite a transition, and my family went from living in the big city of Glasgow to the small town of Carnoustie. We were settled there for a long time. It was a great town for two young daughters to grow up in, being not too large and on the coast, and with plenty of local activities. I became a small-town person from then. One further move has occurred, to another small town, to our most recent home in Cupar, a country town in the north of Fife. My wife and I have no plans to move again – at least, I have no plans …but who knows! I await further instructions


How long have you been writing?

Although I enjoyed creating amusing poems when I was younger, it was only when I retired from ‘real work’ that I tried ‘real writing’, and Autumn, 2009, was when I first put pen to paper as a writer of prose. (Umm, no… not strictly true as I have always had the luxury of writing with the aid of a computer, though, when I pay bills, my pen does still function – very reluctantly – to sign cheques.)  My first book was mainly factual, based on our family tree. That first attempt was lovingly created by hand – all my own work, writing, printing and binding, three copies only, a learning experience. Finding a publisher was never contemplated back then, it was a novelty and fun. Fiction was not attempted until the next year, in 2010. Another year later, and, after a very short search, I was lucky enough to find a publisher with a sense of humour who was interested in my work.

Where did the idea for “Please… Call me Derek” come from?

After a few false starts, I concluded that serious writing was not hitting the mark. As an amateur-dramatics performer many years ago I preferred comedy roles, so, attempting to write something light-hearted became the thought. My inspiration was to create a special character, one with a fairly unusual name who would gain sympathy through self-inflicted mishaps in simple everyday situations. To be honest, the plot just developed page by page, and, to my own amazement, eventually, I had created a ‘Derek’ story. I tried it out on a few friends, and was delighted to have some good feedback.

Apart from Derek my favourite character was Grandad Smith, which was yours?

As the creator of what is becoming a large fictional family, I really shouldn’t admit to having favourites. That would only cause jealousy and friction amongst them all and that would not be a good idea, now, would it? However, if you read each story you will find that the different characters take turns at playing centre stage in the various tales. Of course, Derek is the pivotal character always. He has to be my shining example of a hapless hero!

“Thelma” adds to the complications in the book, can you tell the readers why Sally’s Aunt Thelma was estranged from the family?

She was a naughty girl, and we all know what happens to naughty girls, don’t we? Continually falling-out with her father and her twin brother, when she was young, led to her leaving home as soon as she could. She has remained an outcast for most of her life, but, it shouldn’t have to continue forever like that. Perhaps she could become part of the family again? Would that be a good turn of events – maybe for her to become reconciled with them, now that she is older? Do you think that she could control her temper, and make peace with her brother, if she were promised a starring role in a ‘Derek’ book? What a brilliant idea! Yes, I might try that!

‘Sweaty’ and ‘Spider’ are great nicknames which you handle really well in the book, how much fun did you have thinking up these nicknames?

Being called ‘Blackie’ by my young pals is one of my own happy memories. We all had them, nicknames. As youngsters, using actual first names felt too proper, and using a surname was reserved for persons in authority, such as the hated schoolteacher, the minister – and the probation officer. A nickname back then was comforting, binding you to your pals – unless it was one you disliked, of course! Anyway, for Derek’s pals in his pre-school gang days, Toozlethwaite was a mouthful; with their childhood lisps it became ‘Thwaity’, and later progressed to ‘Sweaty’. As for Spider, well, that is a generational thing: his dad was called that – and his Grandad too, and, with him being tall and lanky, what other name could he possibly have?

The kidnappers only get £3000; do you think the absurdity of it is classic British comedy?

I’d like to think so. Having the bad guys win never seems morally correct for me, but then again when I write, unfortunately, the good guys tend to lose out too. Is it just me…?

Derek’s story continues in the next three books, can you give the readers a little hint as to what to expect?

One thing for certain is that Derek will inadvertently land himself in more trouble. If he gets married would you expect his life to become perfect? No, of course not! If he delves into his family history, will he find a few surprises? Yes, of course he will! Will he eventually find a subject for his longed-for book? Maybe, but you’ll have to read the stories to find the real answers to the questions, won’t you? Oh, and will he ever be rid of his nickname…?

Are you planning more Derek books?

To date, four books exist in the series, on the shelves as Paperbacks, and also accessible as Kindle versions. ‘Please…Call me Derek’, ‘Derek’s in Trouble’, ‘Derek’s Revenge’, they all came out during 2012; the fourth, ‘Derek’s Good Relations’, has only just been released in December 2013. The stories are in chronological order related to Derek’s adult life, and it is worth while reading them in sequence – if you dare to become hooked!

Do you have the publication date of your next book ready to whet the appetite of fans?

The fifth book is still a ‘work in progress’. It is called ‘Derek’s Secrets’ and is due for publication during 2014. Now, I need a favour, would somebody be good enough to tell me what this fifth story is supposed to be about? …Please!

Please... Call Me Derek

“Please Call Me Derek! and other books in the series available from and

Thank you Mac, I look forward to reading more of the Derek stories.

Guest Author Julie McDowall

Today my guest is Julie McDowall author of “Casting The Net”, a very entertaining book about internet dating. I recently reviewed the book and you can read that review here.    Now let’s go and meet Julie; Julie McDowell Casting the net

1) Where is your home town?
Glasgow, Scotland.
2) Where did the idea for “Casting the net” come from?
It is a non-fiction account of two very harrowing, disturbed but funny years I spent online dating in Glasgow. I would come into the office on a Monday morning, still baffled, reeling, aghast, furious or overjoyed from the weekend’s mad dates. My friends would gather round my desk, desperate to hear what on earth had happened this time. I got real pleasure out of telling my stories and entertaining my friends, so I set up a blog on WordPress so I could share the horrors with a wider audience. The blog became massively popular, and within four months of starting, had been taken up by The Herald newspaper where it still appears in instalments each Monday. The editor at The Herald then suggested I contact a publishing house called Blasted Heath. To my mad and crazy delight, they agreed to publish it as an extended and uncensored book, in two volumes.
3) Your book is set in Glasgow, can you tell our international readers where that is and tell us 5 great things about Glasgow?
Glasgow is the biggest city in Scotland, and is on the west coast of the country.
It was once known as The Second City of The Empire as it produced so many of Britain’s ships and locomotives, and had great wealth.
Its history is evident in its architecture, so much of which is proud and ornate Victorian.
It has produced a staggering amount of great writers, such as Alasdair Gray, William McIllvanney, James Kelman, Julie McDowall…(Of Course!)
It’ll host the Commonwealth Games in 2014
4) In your book, you try out several types of dating sites, do you think there is much difference between sites, or does it not matter because everyone enhances their profile regardless of online styles?
There is a huge difference between the various sites, and a novice must choose carefully. Some sites, such as Guardian Soulmates, are aimed at middle-class types, so you’ll tend to find people who are in their 30s or 40s and are serious about finding a partner, and will expect that person to have achievements and interests. At the opposite end of the spectrum are sites like Plenty of Fish which can be quite foul. The people on these sites don’t need to pay to upload their advert, so you find silly, badly-spelled, sometimes rude and aggressive adverts, many of whom are from people simply seeking a one-night stand. Then, there are novelty dating sites, like ones for people in uniform and ones for clowns and circus performers.
5) Do you think there are upper age limits to online dating or is everyone getting involved now a days?
Most sites require you to be 18, but they have no way of testing your age so anyone can join. These days, you find a massive age range on these sites. I’ve seen teenagers and pensioners trying it (though not together) and I say good luck to ’em! There used to be a sad stigma attached to online dating and it was seen as something only desperate folk would do, but that silly notion is vanishing.
6) Can you give 3 pieces of advice to someone about to take their first scary steps into online dating?
The first is to upload a photo. I was nervous when I first started and didn’t want my picture out there for the world to see, but you will scarcely get any approaches without a photo. It will imply that you are concealing something, or that you’re not really committed. I say, be brave and post a nice photo.
The second is don’t be afraid to be rude. If someone emails you and you’re not comfortable with them, or you know there’s simply no way you’ll want to meet them, don’t be afraid to simply ignore and delete the e-mail. Don’t waste your own time, and don’t give people false hope. It’s OK to be ruthless!
The third is to meet a date sooner rather than later. If you e-mail someone for weeks, trying to work out if they’re right for you, you’ll build up a false picture of them in your head. Meet them in person as soon as is reasonable and don’t let a whimsical e-mail romance develop. You’re not here to find penpals!
7) Your book has been extremely popular, is their a sequel on the way?
Yes indeed, Volume 2 will be published and I am also writing a novel about sexual obsession.
ctn-400Find “Casting The Net” here on
Catch up with Julie at these following places;

Thank you Julie for being a guest on the blog, good luck with the new writing.