Friday, 15 August 2014

Book review: The Chocolate Rose by Laura Florand


I picked this up when it was free on Amazon. I’d previously read Laura Florand’s Snow-Kissed, which I hadn’t found as marvellous as some others had, so I doubt I would have read The Chocolate Rose if it hadn’t been free. And I’m glad I did, because The Chocolate Rose was a delight to read.

Jolie Manon is a food writer and the daughter of famous chef Pierre Manon, with whom she has co-written a cook book. Her father is still recovering from a stroke, which has plunged him into depression and apathy, when Jolie receives notice that her father’s former chef patissier, Gabriel Delange, is suing them for appropriating twelve of his recipes in the cookbook, including the famous chocolate rose depicted on the cover. Jolie had a teenage crush on Gabriel when he worked for her father but hasn’t seen him in years. Anxious to spare her father from further stress, she hastens from Paris to the Cote d’Azur, where Delange now runs his own world-famous restaurant.

Needless to say, sparks fly when these two characters meet. Gabriel and Jolie argue, flirt, lose their temper, sulk, laugh, make love, fight and make up. The setting of the three-star restaurant and its high pressure kitchen set in an ancient, charming French provincial town is wonderfully depicted in lush detail. Jolie’s torn loyalties between her father and Gabriel are touching and real. I got a real insight into the pressures of running a world-class restaurant, and how it completely dominates a chef’s life. Thank God I’ve never had any inclination in that direction.

The only quibbles I had were the ending, which was a touch saccharine, and the fact that Jolie never truly confronts her father over his plagiarism. I would have liked to have heard his reasons or justifications why he ‘stole’ Gabriel’s recipes, but the story never really goes there satisfactorily. But these were minor niggles and didn’t stop me from enjoying this sweet and satisfying romance.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Two releases! White-Hot Holiday and Timeless Encounters

This week I have two book releases.

The first is White-Hot Holiday, a Christmas novella previously released as part of the Stranded With a Hero anthology. White-Hot Holiday is now available for individual sale.


Nice is about to meet Naughty…

When Aussie Naomi Spencer hears her uncle's American friend is coming Down Under for a short visit, she can't wait to be rid of him. Aaron's “Bah Humbug” attitude drives her crazy...and so does his incredibly sexy smile, and the way he pitches in to help her get ready for all her relatives. Okay, so maybe he's not a total Grinch. But when Naomi’s uncle warns her to stay away from his playboy friend, Naomi’s simple holiday gets even more complicated.

When a volcano grounds all flights back to the States, Aaron Cade finds himself stranded in Oz. For Aaron, family holidays are to be endured, not celebrated. Only Naomi brings magic to the simplest things: shopping for gifts, finding the perfect decorations, and making him feel at home in the bizarrely tropical December heat. His sudden, overwhelming attraction to Naomi will turn his idea of home upside-down…but can he change everything for one white-hot love?




My second release is Timeless Encounters: An Anthology of Romantic Novellas.


Three time-travel novellas from Jennifer Brassel, Shannon Curtis, and me.

The Tipping Point: Returning to Ashwood House, the accursed money pit that destroyed her marriage, catapults Bella and estranged husband Reuben into a past where both have the opportunity to make different choices. If they dare.

The Black Gordon: In pursuit of a serial killer, Brenda is held captive by The Black Gordon, a handsome warrior intent on stealing more than just her freedom.

The Photograph: Whilst crossing the threshold into her doppelganger’s enigmatic past, archivist Erin discovers the key to her own future, answers to her past, and heals the heart of a man wounded by tragedy.

Ebook available at:


Print copies available at:

Your Bookshop (Rhodes) | Amazon

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Coming soon - White-Hot Holiday: a Real Men Novella


Previously released as part of the Stranded with a Hero anthology, White-Hot Holiday will be available for individual sale on July 28.

Nice is about to meet Naughty…

When Aussie Naomi Spencer hears her uncle's American friend is coming Down Under for a short visit, she can't wait to be rid of him. Aaron's “Bah Humbug” attitude drives her crazy...and so does his incredibly sexy smile, and the way he pitches in to help her get ready for all her relatives. Okay, so maybe he's not a total Grinch. But when Naomi’s uncle warns her to stay away from his playboy friend, Naomi’s simple holiday gets even more complicated.

When a volcano grounds all flights back to the States, Aaron Cade finds himself stranded in Oz. For Aaron, family holidays are to be endured, not celebrated. Only Naomi brings magic to the simplest things: shopping for gifts, finding the perfect decorations, and making him feel at home in the bizarrely tropical December heat. His sudden, overwhelming attraction to Naomi will turn his idea of home upside-down…but can he change everything for one white-hot love?

Reviews:
"ANOTHER WINNER ..... yippeeeeeeeeeeee Now I cannot wait to read all the Real Men series!!!
the story flowed beautifully and was captivating!
the chemistry between Aaron and Naomi burned~~they had the perfect balance of flirting, romance and touching heartfelt moments *****swoooooon*****
AWESOME NOVELLA!"

"This was a sweet and romantic book. The characters were really likeable. I really enjoyed watching the sparks fly with Naomi and Aaron."

"Very sweet, light romance novel. A breath of fresh air..."

"Coleen Kwan gives us some holiday joy Australian style...no snow here. Just a hot guy, a volcano and lots of sparks between Aaron & Naomi. Great story with wonderful characters"

Buy

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Short Soup revisited

It's a cold and blustery day today, and I'm making winter soup. Which reminds me of my Short Soup story. So what is short soup anyway? Some people know it as wonton soup. Basically it’s a Chinese dish of dumplings filled with pork mince and tasty seasonings served in a clear broth. It's delicious comfort food, and it seemed like an apt title to my story about two Australian-born characters whose parents jointly own a Chinese restaurant.

Toni Lau and Dion Chan have been lifelong friends growing up together in a small seaside town. Toni moved away, first to study and then, after her marriage, moved abroad to work. Dion, on the other hand, stayed behind, seemingly unambitious. Now, after a five year absence, Toni is newly divorced and back in her home town for a little R&R. But things have changed while she’s been away. Dion is taking over their parents’ restaurant and he seems to have definite plans for change. More disturbingly, Dion himself has changed, and Toni begins to find herself inconveniently attracted to this new Dion.

Here's a short excerpt:

~*~

“Welcome back, Toni.” A husky note lurked in his voice. An awkward pause developed before he moved forward and wrapped his arms loosely around her. “It’s good to see you again.”

As their bodies met, she found herself tensing. Over the years she’d received hundreds of hugs from Dion. But this one felt different. Now she was hyper-conscious of his physicality. His biceps were rock-hard, his chin rough stubbled, the mound of his shoulder disturbingly smooth. He smelt of sea and masculinity. Unfamiliar. This wasn’t the Dion she used to know. She pulled away, perplexed.

“Sorry.” He rubbed the back of his neck. “I probably need a shower.”

She shook her head. “No, it’s just–” She broke off, unable to explain why she felt so off kilter. “I’m not exactly myself today. That’s why I stopped here for a breather when I arrived.”

He nodded in sympathy. “Not ready to show up at your folks’ place, huh?”

“I’ve been looking forward to seeing them so much, but now I kind of have to gather my thoughts first.”

He pushed sand around with his foot. “Your mum’s been worried about you. Your dad too, though he doesn’t say as much.” He pressed his sole down on the sand hill he’d created. “I know I’ve told you before, but I’m sorry about you and Nick.”

The words sounded flat, rehearsed. She couldn’t decide whether he meant it or not. Dion barely knew her ex-husband. She’d met Nick at Sydney University where they’d both been studying commerce. Nick’s busy social calendar meant he’d only accompanied her to Piper Bay a handful of fleeting occasions. Soon after graduation, she and Nick had married and migrated to London, both of them landing jobs at the same investment bank. They were going to work and travel all over the world, forging their careers, then when they tired of globetrotting they would return to Sydney, buy a house together and start a family. So much for their dreams.

Toni drew in a deep breath. “Thanks,” she replied. “So am I.”

“You’re better off without him.”

“That’s what I keep telling myself.” But it didn’t always help.

He shot her a sharp glance, his eyes not soft any more. He looked like he was about to say something, but at the last moment he changed his mind and shook his head. What? she wanted to challenge him. What were you going to say about Nick and me? I need to know. But he turned away to pick up his beach towel, leaving her to stare after him in disappointment.
~*~


Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Teaser Tuesday - Darke London

I thought I'd post a teaser from my historical/supernatural romance, Darke London, today:

~*~

He smiled at her. “Miss Barchester? You look quite fierce now that you’re armed. I should hate to accost you in a dark alley.”

She blushed faintly and smiled back at him. “‘Miss Barchester’ is so stuffy and formal. Please call me Nellie.”

His grin widened. “As long as you’re happy I’m not taking liberties. And of course you must call me Julian.”

“Thank you, Julian.” She flicked the blades up one last time. “From here on, no one will be taking liberties with me.”

~*~

Monday, 2 June 2014

Undercover in the CEO's Bed - excerpt

In this excerpt from Undercover in the CEO’s Bed, Jacinta and Lex are discussing the nuts and bolts of making others believe that, after a nasty breakup and months of silence, they have reconciled.

***
“Are you sure it’ll be so easy to fool people into thinking we’re back together?” she asked.

“Why not?” He shrugged his wide shoulders. “We’ll go to a few public engagements, some big, high-profile parties. We’ll be seen together as a couple, and people will assume we’ve reconciled. It’s not unusual.”

“Yeah but we’ll have to...you know, play a role.”

He lifted his eyebrows. “You don’t have to sleep with me...” His cool eyes glinted. “...if you don’t want.”

Her chest grew hot. “I wasn’t even considering that.”

Liar, his eyes flashed.

“You weren’t?”

Forcing herself to hold his gaze, she caught the amusement and heat mingling in his blue depths. Her breath shortened. Just one loaded stare from him was enough to send her into meltdown. The packet tore between her fingers and sugar spilled out.

“Don’t get any ideas, buster. I have standards. I could never sleep with a man I despised.” Yeah, keep telling yourself that and maybe it’ll hold true.

“Keep your panties on,” he drawled. “All you’ll have to do is suffer a few kisses and hugs from me in public. Think you can put up with that?”

A few kisses and hugs from Lex? Heavenly torture. But what if she wanted more after that? She busied herself sweeping up the spilled sugar and depositing the debris into her saucer. “I guess.”

“And no heavy petting without prior arrangement.” The glint in his eyes lingered.

“No heavy petting, period.”

“Why make such strict rules? You might enjoy it. I’m not a bad kisser, you have to admit.”

He was a fantastic kisser, the best she’d ever had, but pigs would fly before she’d admit that. “When do you want to start?”

“Tonight. There’s a big party I’m supposed to attend. I’ll pick you up at seven. Wear something slinky. You know the kind of thing I like.”

For a moment she spluttered. How dare he talk to her like that?

***


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