Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Release Day Giveaway!


Meet the Earl of Redmere in the 1st book in the Rogues of Redmere series, a brand new Regency romance series by #1 bestselling author Samantha Holt.

Red never shies away from a challenge.
Never.
But when Miss Hannah St. John strides into his life demanding—yes, demanding—he help her, he’s certain she’s more challenge than even he can handle.
Hannah is determined to transport an artifact from France—one that will change everything—even if it means working with a lawless man like Red. Nothing is more important than preserving history.
Nothing.
Not even the touch of a smuggler who inconceivably makes her stomach twist.
When it becomes clear the irritating bluestocking will do anything for this blasted artifact and needs saving from herself, the earl-turned-smuggler steps in.
Carting a cursed stone across the country with a know-it-all woman is not Red’s idea of fun, particularly when their journey runs far from smoothly…so why does he find himself enjoying her company just a little too much?
Excerpt
“Excuse me,” she started but her voice came out like nothing more than a mouse’s squeak. She coughed and tried again. “Excuse me, are you Red?”
His head jerked up. “Who wants to know?”
She took another step closer and gasped. The firelight cleared the shadows around his features. She was not sure what she expected from an infamous smuggler but it was not this. Where were the pock marks? The scars? The missing teeth?
There were no missing teeth to be sure. Though he kept his mouth in a firm line of disdain—or perhaps annoyance—the quick flash she had seen had revealed a mouth of perfectly healthy teeth. As for scars or pockmarks, his skin was perfect.
His light brown hair was, admittedly, a little too long and his face was unshaven, revealing several days of neglect. There were shadows around his eyes too, and he looked weary. However, that could not take away from that fact he was a handsome man.
He stared at her expectantly. She gulped. “I need your help.”
“And if I do not wish to give it?”
She shook her head. Impossible. He had to help her. He was her only chance. She dragged out the chair opposite and sat. One dark brow rose at the action. Chin lifted, she propped her arms on the table and leaned forward. He smelled of the sea.
“I need your help bringing across something from France. I’m told you are the man for the job.”
“Then you were told wrong.”
“I can pay handsomely.”
“I don’t need coin.”
“Do you not? I thought all smugglers did.”
He leaned forward abruptly. “You need to watch your tongue, miss.” He glanced around. “Not everyone here is a friend.”
She jerked back a little. Handsome he might be, but he was also intimidating. His strong jaw, finished with a slight dip that was just visible under the stubble, was set firmly. His eyes glinted in the firelight though she could not tell their color properly.
She took a breath and cast her gaze over him. It was something she was in the habit of doing. Study everything closely enough and any fear she might have of it left. It had worked with spiders. When one looked closely, one could see they were no more than a few legs and a body pieced together. Those long legs no longer appeared so terrifying once she had seen them under a microscope and appreciated the unique design of the creatures.
It did not seem to quite work with this creature. His slightly creased forehead and the still lifted brow did not lose any of it sternness. His lips, she concluded, were generous for a man’s, but it did not soften his appearance. She pictured him in evening wear and that helped a little, though she could tell he would be ridiculously handsome and likely still no more polite.
“I was told you were the man to help me,” she said, aware of being a little breathless.
“As I said, you were told wrong.”
Giveaway
Win a $20 Amazon gift card

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Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Chapter 1: You're the Rogue That I Want


Coming 26th October--a sexy, fun, intriguing Regency romance. Taking you from Cornwall to London, immerse yourself in the world of the Rogues of Redmere--four determined men who are about to meet the biggest challenge of their lives.

Red never shies away from a challenge.

Never.

But when Miss Hannah St. John strides into his life demanding—yes, demanding—he help her, he’s certain she’s more challenge than even he can handle.

Hannah is determined to transport an artifact from France—one that will change everything—even if it means working with a lawless man like Red. Nothing is more important than preserving history.

Nothing.

Not even the touch of a smuggler who inconceivably makes her stomach twist.

When it becomes clear the irritating bluestocking will do anything for this blasted artefact and needs saving from herself, the earl turned smuggler steps in.

Carting a cursed stone across the country with a know-it-all woman is not Red’s idea of fun, particularly when their journey runs far from smoothly…so why does he find himself enjoying her company just a little too much?
_______________

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Chapter One

Red spat out another mouthful of salty water. The sea spray struck him across the face, bitter and unpleasant. Waves rolled in, sloshing over the edge of his boots and filling them. He grimaced. The seas were particularly rough tonight. They’d be lucky to haul in all the goods before sunrise. His muscles burned as he dragged what had to be the tenth keg of the night to shore.
Cold wind slapped his face and ruffled his shirt. He cursed the unpredictable English weather through his teeth.
Though truth be told, they’d dealt with worse. However, considering the mood he was in tonight, he did not much fancy dealing with anything other than a shot of whiskey. Some days he wondered what possessed him to drag his arse out in the middle of the night and fight the weather, and sometimes the local excise men, all in the name of a profit.
Beside him, two other men worked hard to fight the waves and ensure their cargo was not lost. Frosty ribbons of moonlight glinted off the white tips of the waves farther out. The rowboats that had been used to bring in the goods were long since stowed away and the ship would be headed to the docks.
 As another strong wave nearly toppled him, he muttered what could perhaps have been conceived as sarcastic thanks. At least they had avoided the worst of it when rowing in, but could that damned wind have not waited until after they’d brought in their haul?
Red glanced over at Knight, who worked a darned sight faster than he or Nate. Of course, the muscle-bound man had quite the advantage over them and seemed to cut through the waves like a frigate.
“Nearly done,” Knight declared over the wind, hefting a trunk onto the cart.
Red pushed his sodden hair from his face with one hand and dragged the cask out of the sea by the fishing net. He paused to squint into the sea. Once upon a time they had been able to unload their cargo in broad daylight while the weather was calm, but the customs men had increased their patrols of late. Red and his crew had been forced to become sneakier.
Nate brought in what looked to be the last keg and paused to take a breath. “At least it isn’t raining,” he said with a grin.
“That’s all of them?” Red asked.
They all paused to study the surf as it churned and bubbled. Their haul had been left in fishermen’s nets just past where the waves broke. The nets could be spotted easily enough in the light but the knotted floats were not so easy to spy in the inky ocean at night. However, their new method of bringing smuggled goods in from France was worth it. It gave them time to bring in the cargo—and time, they had discovered, could be vitally important when it came to the excise men.
“Let’s get this stowed away before we get any wetter. I have a hankering for a whiskey.”
Nate chuckled. “When do you not?”
Red grunted at this. “Don’t be jealous of my finer tastes. You’ll enjoy the finer things in life one day—once your balls have dropped.”
Nate, only two years his junior and his brother, laughed again. Knight clapped him hard on the shoulder, and Red saw Nate wince. Sometimes the giant of a man seemed to forget he was twice the size of them all.
“We had better get moving. Louisa said the excise men had already been in tonight.”
Red nodded. “Hopefully that means they have been and gone but—”
“They’re sneaky bastards,” finished Nate.
“Yes,” he agreed. He let a grin break across his face. “But we are sneakier.”
They all chuckled. After he and Nate clambered onto the cart, he took the reins and urged the horses forward. With the help of a push from the behemoth that was Knight, they eased the vehicle off the stony shore and onto the grass. Knight walked behind them until they hit the dirt tracks and then he climbed onto the cart. He understood well enough that they could do without his extra weight until they were on the roads.
Red directed the wagon along the narrow track until the hedgerows grew close. The road itself could hardly be considered a road and was impassable when it rained. On days like those they were forced to bring in the haul on foot, stowing it in a cave not far from their landing spot until the path dried out.
He shuddered, aware of water still sloshing about in his boots. As much as the cursed wind made life difficult, Nate had been right. The rain would have made their job twenty times harder and their last lot of cargo had been a bother to bring in. Christ, he longed for the days when they could bring in their goods with as much ease as a merchant man.
Once they reached barn, he paused to drag on his greatcoat.
“Cold?” Nate asked.
“Damned right I am.”
“It’s that noble blood of yours,” he said with a smirk.
“Yours is the same,” Red muttered.
“I’m plenty warm,” Knight remarked.
They both glanced at him. Red shook his head. Knight could not fail to be warm with the bulk of him. He suspected the man could stand out in the snow for two weeks and be perfectly content. He’d never met a man so hardy, and in their business, it was quite the asset.
They opened the back of the cart, and Red unlocked the barn door. “Put the wine near the door,” he ordered. “It will not be there long.”
Knight nodded and began unloading with a swift ease that made Red feel like a crippled old man, in spite of Knight being potentially older than him. At least they thought so. No one really knew, not even Knight.
Red stilled. He motioned to the men to do the same. Breath held, he listened.
“Horses,” Nate whispered.
He nodded. “Open both the doors, we’ll put the cart inside.”
Knight and Nate pulled them open and he urged the horses into the dark confines of the barn. Thankfully they had little left of their last loot or else it would never fit in along with the horses. He clambered off quickly and locked the barn door behind him.
All three of them were well-rehearsed in dodging the customs men or any potentially nosy strangers. The rugged Cornish countryside provided plenty of hiding spots, and they tucked themselves behind a crumbling stone wall.
The sound of horse hooves neared. Collectively they held their breaths. Should the revenue men come upon them, they would be nothing more than three drunken men, lost on their way home from the inn. But it would be enough to arouse suspicion and potentially search the barn. None of them wanted that.
Red twisted his head enough to view the horses and their riders as they belted past. Three of them, well-dressed. Excise men to be sure. He cursed inwardly. They were becoming more determined.
They waited until the patrol was long gone before moving from their spot. A curse from Nate drew Red's attention.
“What is—” Red laughed as a he spotted the sheep currently determinedly butting into Nate’s leg. “Looks like you’ve made a friend.”
“Or an enemy,” Nate grumbled when the animal retreated and came at him again. Nate held up his hands to try to stop the animal from coming near but the white, grubby-looking sheep was determined to butt into his leg. In spite of Nate clapping his hands and stomping his feet, the animal continued forward before coming to a stop and giving him a gentler nudge.
“She likes you,” Knight said.
“Come, let us finish our work here and leave Nate’s friend in peace. Then I can have a damned whiskey.”
“It is not my friend,” Nate protested as they opened the barn to continue unloading.
The damned sheep followed them into the barn.
Red shook his head. Nothing about tonight had gone smoothly.


Tuesday, 6 September 2016

New release and giveaway!


Available on Amazon now!

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away…well, Scotland…Rose lived tucked away from the world with her aunt. Orphaned as a baby and adopted by her aunt, she’s used to her eccentric ways—including her overprotectiveness. But Rose wants more from life. However, she never quite expected for Laird Hamish McTavish—complete with kilt—to change things. The brash, and admittedly braw, man is hardly like the charming men Rose has been dreaming of.
Freshly returned from the battlefield with an unexpected inheritance, highlander Hamish is struggling enough to fit in at the sleepy lowland village. When he comes across a feisty young woman with wild hair and a brash tongue on his land, he doesn’t expect it to lead to more than a five-minute argument.
But he cannot help himself. His curiosity is piqued. Who is this young woman surrounded by three slightly-crazed elderly women seemingly intent on keeping her from the world? He must find out more.
Unfortunately, there are several people more than willing to get in the way of that aim. Rose’s aunt for one—not to mention his late-cousin’s mistress who is determined to replace one cousin with the other. Not only must Hamish deal with his duties and find a way to get close to Rose, he must also find a way to get rid of this abhorrent woman…before she does anything truly evil.


Also available internationally here. 

Excerpt
Something amongst the grass caught his attention. He paused and peered at it. Not a dog to be certain. He moved closer. A woman. Closer still. No, a girl. He tilted his head. A sort of girl. A girl-woman perhaps. She had the figure of a woman, to be certain. Even lying down, he could see there were ample breasts and some curvaceous hips. However, her face was far too girl-like with a petite mouth, small nose, and pale lashes and eyebrows. Her hair was technically fair but not as light as the few fair women he knew who likely had a little help from cosmetics to get that bright, light look.
Of course, he was able to observe all this at his leisure because she was sleeping. Fully and completely asleep. He looked at the basket at her side to see a small joint of ham. Why the devil was this young woman picnicking on her own with a mere slab of ham?
He coughed. Hamish supposed he could have let her sleep on but it did not seem safe to leave her out here all alone where anyone could do anything to her.
Not to mention, he was wildly curious about this woman. He had only been in Scotland mere weeks, but he had met a few of the local families and his tenants, and she certainly was not one of them. He would have remembered.
He coughed again.
Lashes fluttered and mossy green eyes stared up at him. A crease appeared between her brows, and she jerked up to sitting. “Who are you?” Her gaze raked him from head to toe, making him far too aware of his traditional Highland garb that had no place in the lowlands.
“Who are ye?” he demanded.
Her scowl deepened and she stood, snatching up her basket as though he might be very interested in her lone piece of ham.
“I asked first.”
“But yer the trespasser.”
“I certainly am not!”
Those mossy green eyes were not so mossy when they stared up at him. In fact, they were becoming more interesting by the moment, and he’d certainly never been interested in moss. Dark green at the center, radiating out to an almost sea green, then finished with a ring of dark color that he supposed had given him that plant-like impression.
She peered at him as though he was crazed, and he realized he was staring into them for too long.
“Yer on my land,” he stated.
Yet again, her gaze ran the length of him. He’d never been so aware of his height and stature before. In battle, his oversized body had been useful—apart from when it came to ducking bullets. But now he felt like an ogre or a giant, come to feast on this wee little lass.
However, though there was certainly distrust in her gaze, she did not seem frightened of him. In fact, she raised her chin and directed her challenging stare at him.
“This is the land of the Laird of Baleith.”
“Aye.”
She tilted her head. “The laird is six and fifty years.”
“He was.”
“Was?”
“Aye. He died several weeks ago.”
“He did?” Her eyes widened and she took a stumbling step back. He instinctively reached for her and helped her straighten, but she shook off his touch.
He flexed the hand that had met her skin. A mild burning sensation had struck him the instant they had touched. He tried to shake it from his mind but he could still feel it, still recall the softness of her skin.
Hamish opted for looking over her head. Golden strands of hair curled from it in wild disarray. What had once been a braid now looked to be a misshaped wodge of hair. Slightly brighter strands curled around her face, drawing attention to the pointed chin and tightly-pressed together lips.
Damnation, now he was looking at her mouth.
He forced his attention back to her eyes. Aye, they were far too intriguing but if he continued on the path he was on, he’d end up staring at her figure and he could not allow that.
“The laird had a fall. He died from his injuries unfortunately.”
“I did not know.”
“Well now you do.”
“But why would I not know?”
“I’m not sure. Do ye know all that goes on around here? Forgive me for not telling ye as soon as he hit his death bed,” he said, his tone dry.
“There’s no need to be rude. I am just sure my aunt would have known.”
“I can be as rude as I like, lass. Yer standing on my land.”
“You cannot really be a laird. No laird would speak in such a manner.”

Whoever this stranger was, it was apparent she felt she should know all that occurred on his private land. He chuckled. “Well this one does.”


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Thursday, 4 August 2016

Cover Reveal: Wake Me With a Kiss


Coming September 6th.

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away…well, Scotland…Rose lived tucked away from the world with her aunt. Orphaned as a baby and adopted by her aunt, she’s used to her eccentric ways—including her overprotectiveness. But Rose wants more from life. However, she never quite expected for Laird Hamish McTavish—complete with kilt—to change things. The brash, and admittedly braw, man is hardly like the charming men Rose has been dreaming of.
Freshly returned from the battlefield with an unexpected inheritance, highlander Hamish is struggling enough to fit in at the sleepy lowland village. When he comes across a feisty young woman with wild hair and a brash tongue on his land, he doesn’t expect it to lead to more than a five minute argument.
But he cannot help himself. His curiosity is piqued. Who is this young woman surrounded by three slightly-crazed elderly woman seemingly intent on keeping her from the world? He must find out more.
Unfortunately, there are several people more than willing to get in the way of that aim. Rose’s aunt for one—not to mention his late-cousin’s mistress who is determined to replace one cousin with the other. Not only must Hamish deal with his duties and find a way to get close to Rose, he must also find a way to get rid of this abhorrent woman…before she does anything truly evil.

Free Read

Don't forget Sinful Confessions is always free on pretty much every ebook platform. 



Lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride. The Cynfell brothers are the very embodiment of a sinful existence. But could the right woman change that?

Wrath

Locked behind the walls of Lockwood Manor, Julian Cynfell, the Marquess of Lockwood whiles away his days writing angry letters, drinking and sleeping. He never expects his solitude to be interrupted by a brazen American heiress.

An American heiress who is expecting a wedding.

Viola Thompson can't believe her luck when the English lord she has been corresponding with for the better part of a year asks her to visit him. This has to mean an offer of marriage surely? Finally, Viola will prove to her family and friends that she is more than a ruined woman with no prospects. Not to mention she knows they will be a love match. No one could write such beautiful letters without being the perfect man.

But when she arrives in cold, dreary England to be faced by a foul-tempered, grizzled--albeit in a handsome way--marquess, her dreams of marriage are quickly dashed. Can she draw the lord out of his melancholy ways? And does she even want to remain in England while rumours of three dead wives circulate around Lockwood?

One thing is for certain, this American heiress has never been one to back down from a challenge--especially when not even the Atlantic Ocean could dampen the patent desire running between them.

Monday, 6 June 2016

Pirates suck, readers don't

So this will be one of many blog posts speaking out about book piracy. It's not a new thing. Every time someone is exposed as a pirate, everyone gets outraged but nothing is done about it. In fact, the people reading it will be my supportive readers who buy my books or download them for free legitimately. Two people were exposed in my newsfeed this weekend. One, a pirate (I won't call them a reader, they don't deserve it) and one a supposed book blogger. Neither seemed to comprehend how downloading a book that was not intended to be free = stealing.

Here's the thing. I write full time. I was able to turn this into a full time job after about 2 years of writing solidly. Finally, my earnings were enough to just about pay my bills and have enough left over to ensure we didn't starve. During this time, I became a single mum and I support my family alone. Our current situation, having moved out of the house I shared with my ex, means I'm currently an hour's commute from the kids' school. (I'm working on getting them transferred). This means to get a 'real' job would be very hard because of the few hours I am actually not driving or looking after children. Sometimes I wish I had a standard 9 - 5 job but my job allows me to earn without, I don't know, hiring a chaffeur and a nanny or something! The world unfortunately sucks when supporting working parents.

But while I've always been able to support us without panicking, certain changes to the publishing world has made it harder and harder. The fact is I'm having to put in more hours than ever before. The only time I'm not working is when I'm feeding kids, driving to and from school, and walking the dog. I'm no different to any other working parent but I deserve to get paid for each and every download of my book. The downturn in the industry is due to many reasons, because the publishing industry is in a very real flux. This does mean every sale is very important.

So pirate sites cost. If you're not sure if a site is a pirate site, ask yourself, does it link to one of the big sellers i.e. Amazon, B&N etc? Sites like Bookbub, Freebooksy etc, will always send you to a legitimate site.

The other form of piracy that is very rife right now is Amazon returns. There's been numerous pushes to get these people who buy a book, read and return for a refund shut down and to get Amazon to own up to changing the policy, but hey, they're the big fish and we're tiny little annoying voices to them so that won't be changing any time soon. A word of warning to those serial returners though--authors do--and have--tracked many down. I can also tell you that I have personally tracked down several piraters downloading books. One woman lived down the road from me--something I discovered from her blog that I found via her email. You are trackable and can be held accountable so be warned. There are people who have been sued for music piracy. I think its only a matter of time before someone gets their ass whooped for book piracy.

So I know those who are reading this aren't pirates but I implore you to keep doing what you're doing. Keep outing them. Keep letting them know there are safe ways to get free books. Authors rely on your support. In my poorer years, I lived off free Kindle books--many of which became all time faves. And of course the Kindle app is free so if they can afford a computer or a phone, they can download with ease. I'm assuming if they download books, they love them. Why not return the favour and consider become a reviewer? You can get a ton of great new releases, if you just leave a short review.

So I guess more than anything, this is a thanks to the real readers out there who wouldn't dream of damaging authors' livelihoods and continue to try to educate the ignorant. Here's to you!


Friday, 5 February 2016

The End of the Vikings?



To Dream of a Highlander takes place on the Isle of Bute, one of the western islands of Scotland in 1230—mid-siege.

The siege is not often written about. The tension between the powerful Norway—who held most of the western islands at the time—had only just started and culminated much later on in the infamous Battle of Largs. In history, this invasion could be considered a mere blip.

But for Walter Steward, the man who built the castle walls and took the island from the Norse originally as a steward of the king, this battle ended dreadfully for him. In defending the castle, he was struck by an arrow and killed.

What is now known as Rothesay castle replaced a wooden castle on the island. In around 1200, William the Lion seized the island from the Norse and Walter began erecting the castle. Alas his defences would prove inadequate when the time came.

King Hakon IV of Norway wanted to assert his rule in the isles and, accompanied by Uspak from the house of Somerled and Olaf of Man, set about hunting down those who were unfaithful for Hakon and the men of the king of Scots who sought power in the isles—such as Walter.

While this fleet spent time seeking out and killing these men, the climax of the expedition did not occur until a year later, in 1230, when they stormed the castle at Bute. It is said that the defenders poured boiling pitch (a substance obtained from tar) and molten led on the attackers but they used shields to protect themselves and cut down the walls. Walter was killed by an arrow and the castle was taken.

However, they could not hold the keep. Alan of Galloway responded by assembling a fleet and upon seeing them, the Norse extracted a ransom of three hundred silver marks and left. This was not the end for Bute. In 1263, Hakon travelled from island to island, demanding allegiance following the king of Scots, Alexander III’s raids of the Norse territory.

This culminated in the Battle of Largs. The Norse were pushed off the mainland but the battle was indecisive, with losses on either side and no clear victor. With the approach of Winter, Hakon vowed to seek revenge in the Spring. Fortunately for Alexander, Hakon never lived to see Spring. His son, Magnus, had little interest in continuing the fight and gave up the Herbrides and the Isle of Man to Scotland for four thousand marks in the Treaty of Perth. This was the beginning of the end of the Norse age.

If you'd like to read more about Vikings, check out my Viking novella ALREK and keep an eye out for Heart of a Viking which is coming late this month. Subscribe to my Amazon page for updates.