Release Day – 12 Nights of Christmas Anthology

  Twelve bestselling and award-winning authors each bring you a sexy night of romance, fun and a little magic. ‘Tis the season for falling for the right guy! Can a magical fruitcake be the special ingredient for falling in love?

**’Tis the season for giving, too!**

20% of the proceeds will be donated to

the hunger relief organization Feeding America

 

THE 12 NIGHTS OF CHRISTMAS IS AVAILABLE TO BUY FROM ALL THESE PLACES:

Amazon | iBooks | Nook | Kobo | Goodreads

December 25: “Scrooge You” by MK Schiller

Christmas is nothing but a reminder of Eva’s tragic past. To make matters worse, her boyfriend invites his entire family over…so she goes into Scrooge mode. When three ghosts visit her, will she be able to remember the joy in her heart and the true meaning of Christmas?

December 26: “Unexpected Daddy” by Gemma Brocato

She let him go to pursue his dreams without telling him she was pregnant. Five years later, he’s back in town and her secret’s out. Can they get over past hurts to seize a future for their small family?

December 27: “The Meant to Be Girl” by Tawdra Kandle

When Ashley Webbar meets Zane Fletcher, it’s insta-lust, but she soon suspects he’s already smitten with someone else. Ashley is so busy matchmaking that she might miss out on her own happily-ever-after…if something doesn’t intervene first. This just might call for a Christmas miracle.

December 28: “For One Night Only” by Carrie Elks

When two strangers are stranded at a rest stop in the middle of Nowheresville—thank you, Mr. Bus Driver—they’re forced to spend the night together. But when morning comes, they both find themselves asking one question. Will they see each other again, or was their connection for one night only?

December 29: “Best Friends for the Night” by Alice Gaines

Every year, Steve has been cheering up his army buddy’s widow with popcorn and zany movies on the anniversary of her husband’s death. Will a little holiday magic make Steve and Hannah more than friends?

December 30: “Entwined” by Kristi Rose

Donovan survived combat, but can he survive being stranded over Christmas with the girl of his dreams? He swore he’d stay away from his best friend’s kid sister years ago, but after a helicopter crash, this sailor knows second chances don’t come around often. Loving Bailey would mean risking not only his friendship but his heart.

December 31: “Rekindled” by Stacy Finz

Branna and Drex are over…or at least they thought they were. But a little time trapped in an enclosed space with a magical fruitcake might just change that.Branna and Drex are over…or at least they thought they were. But a little time trapped in an enclosed space with a magical fruitcake might just change that.

January 1: “New Year’s Negotiation” by Kate Allenton

When Detective Elizabeth Cross’s high school crush and star of her what-ifs shows up at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve ready to take her on a trip down memory lane, she’ll have to decide if this is a second chance at her happily ever after or the start of another broken heart.

January 2: “Playing House” by Kim Golden

Cassie Delk isn’t having the best holiday season. With her ex-husband about to get remarried, she’s not thrilled about still being single. The last thing she expects is for a second chance at love to turn up on her doorstep.

January 3: “Book of Love” by Cd Brennan

Nothing infuriates Melanie more than the one-armed, ex-army hunk who chucks her mail at her book shop door. When Nick delivers a special package at the end of the day, a blizzard strands them together, and the fruitcake delivery sparks magic between them instead. Melanie isn’t sure what she wants to give him—a piece of her mind or all of her heart

January 4: “A Winter Wonderland” by Rebecca Hunter

Coming face to face with Jace after ten years is a reminder of everything Selena left behind when she moved from Delilah’s Cove. It’s even more dangerous when mixed with a little magic.

January 5: “Wild Honey” by Sarah Hegger

Two people who couldn’t be more different. One elevator, a dark and stormy night, and a magical, bourbon-laced fruitcake. What could go right?

Amazon iBooks Nook

Kobo Goodreads

Advertisements

Why Single Dads Are Sexy…

Have you noticed how in books and movies single dads are completely hot? There’s something very sexy about a man who puts his child above everyone — and everything — else. No wonder it’s so easy to fall in love with them. So what’s the recipe for the perfect single father?

1. He’s Grown Up

There’s nothing attractive about a man who runs away from his responsibilities. But the single dads I’m talking about are ALL about their kids. They’re strong, reliable and will never let you down. Often they have very responsible jobs, too – the kind that will find them in a uniform or a sexy suit (or even better, wearing a stetson on the ranch). Either way, they’re mature AND gorgeous, and I LOVE THAT.

 

2. He’s Ready to Find The Right Woman

The kind of single dads I love to read about aren’t going to be introducing just anybody to their children. They want to make sure whoever comes into their lives is the right kind of woman. The sort who will love their child as much as they do, and understand that the children always come first. It doesn’t always happen right away — in fact most of the fun in reading a single dad romance is seeing him fight against it. But when it does…

 

3. When He Finds Her, He’s Going to Want to Keep Her

For me the best part of any romance novel featuring a single father is when he finally realises he can’t live without the woman he’s attracted to. Sometimes it happens near the beginning of the story, but often not until the middle or even the end. But when that realisation comes over him the fireworks always start. Because once that single father KNOWS what he wants, he’s not going to stop at anything to get it. And that kind of determination is always hot to read.

Now in real life we might be wondering WHY he’s a single dad. But this isn’t real life, it’s the book life and it’s infinitely better, right? So we know from the start that his single status isn’t a big red flag. It’s a delicious plot device to let the story unfold.

 

So with all that hawt-ness it’s no wonder I decided to write about a single dad in my latest book, By Virtue Fall. And Ryan Sutherland really is delicious. A travel photographer, he’s crossed the globe with his adorable six-year-old son, Charlie, and now he’s finally ready to stay in one place for a while. He chooses Shaw Haven, the small town he grew up in on the Chesapeake Bay. But then he meets the woman next door — Juliet Shakespeare, a single mother of one and he’s left wondering if he’ll ever want to leave again…

 

Love blooms when you least expect it . . .

Juliet Shakespeare is done with love. With a growing floristry business and an adorable daughter to raise, life after separating from her husband is complicated enough – the last thing she needs is a man.

But when handsome single father, Ryan Sutherland, arrives in town, everything changes. As much as she tries to distract herself, Juliet can’t help but be drawn to the easy-going Romeo next door and the way he makes her feel.

Photographer Ryan is only back in his hometown for a few months so there’s no point falling for someone he’ll just have to say goodbye to. But he didn’t account for Juliet – the intriguing and beautiful, red-haired woman next door. And in her, he might just have found everything he ever wanted . . .

UK BUY LINKS:

Amazon UK  | iBooks UK | Kobo UK | WHSmith

US BUY LINKS:

Amazon US | iBooks | Kobo | Nook | Google Play (to come)

Ready for a new book?

It’s less than two months until By Virtue Fall releases – completing the Shakespeare Sister quartet. I’m so excited and yet sad at the same time — I love these sisters and hope you do too.

The Book: BY VIRTUE FALL

Genre: Contemporary (Small Town) Romance

Series: Shakespeare Sisters

Release Date: Oct 11

 

Description

Love blooms when you least expect it . . .

Juliet Shakespeare is done with love. With a growing floristry business and an adorable daughter to raise, life after separating from her husband is complicated enough – the last thing she needs is a man.

But when handsome single father, Ryan Sutherland, arrives in town, everything changes. As much as she tries to distract herself, Juliet can’t help but be drawn to the easy-going Romeo next door and the way he makes her feel.

Photographer Ryan is only back in his hometown for a few months so there’s no point falling for someone he’ll just have to say goodbye to. But he didn’t account for Juliet – the intriguing and beautiful woman next door. And in her, he might just have found everything he ever wanted . . .

*This book is a standalone read as part of the Shakespeare Sisters series.*

 

Pre-order here:

Amazon US ➜ https://amzn.to/2LTuel8

Amazon UK ➜  https://amzn.to/2AcOP2h

iBooks ➜  https://tinyurl.com/y9uhrs4x

Kobo ➜  https://tinyurl.com/y8eyopay

Nook ➜  https://tinyurl.com/ybvaxzkp

 

In the US / Canada it has a special pre-order price of only $2.99 – price will return to $3.99 after publication week – so pre-order now to lock down that price!

 

My Favourite Italian Drinks

It’s less than 3 weeks until Summer’s Lease is released in Ebook and Paperback (shameless pimp – sorry!) and the reviews are starting to come in. One thing all of them have in common is that they love the Italian setting, and in particular the food and drink I describe in great detail.

Researching (and tasting) Italian culinary delights was one of my favourite parts of writing Summer’s Lease. We even spent our summer holiday on the banks of Lake Garda, and then in Venice last year — and it proved to be the best way to make sure that my research was accurate (or a really good excuse to eat and drink my way through Italy!)

Drinking wine on the hills overlooking Lake Garda (credit: author’s own)

So, as a result of this extensive research, I bring you my five favourite Italian tipples. Have I missed your favourite out? Let me know in the comments.

1. NEGRONI

Classed as an ‘aperitivo’, which basically means you get to drink it before you eat (yay!), a Negroni is fast becoming as popular in the UK as it is in Italy. A blend of one part campari, one part vermouth and one part gin, it’s served over a generous amount of ice in a glass tumbler, along with a slice of orange. In Summer’s Lease, the hero, Sam, makes Cesca a Negroni, and she’s suitably impressed. As would I be if anybody made me one (hint hint!)

2. APEROL SPRITZ

One of my favourite discoveries during my time in Venice, an Aperol Spritz is one of the most famous cocktails in Italy. To make the perfect Spritz, you need to combine 3 parts Prosecco, 2 parts Aperol and a splash of soda. Like a negroni, it’s served on the rocks with a twist of orange. I spent a lot of time drinking this during my stay in Italy, and have wonderful memories of sitting in a paved piazza with my ice-cold drink in hand, whiling the afternoon away people-watching. If you haven’t tried one yet, I highly recommend it.

 

Aperol Spritz (credit: Deposit photos)

3. PROSECCO

Anybody who knows me (or has checked out my Instagram page – here: https://www.instagram.com/carrie.elks/) knows I love white wine, and in particular the fizzy variety! During the summer Prosecco is my fizz of choice. It’s crisp, delicious, and downright tasty. There’s really nothing bad to say about it, which is why it makes my top 5. Chin chin!

4. VALPOLICELLA

In Summer’s Lease, there’s a wine cave set in the side of the hill behind the secluded villa where Sam and Cesca stay. Inside is a treasure trove of Italian wine, and the one that stands out is the Valpolicella. Sam uses his knowledge of wine to impress Cesca, and at one funny part of the book he also uses it to show how well he knows her. Just don’t drink the 2002 vintage – it’s not the best!

5. LIMONCELLO

Another favourite of mine from my stay in Italy was the post-dinner lemon-flavoured liqueur, Limoncello. It’s thick and sweet, and the perfect way to round of an evening of pasta or risotto. It’s traditionally made from Sorrento Lemons, and should be drunk in small measures. Otherwise drunk will be the operative word!

So there you have it, a list of my top 5 Italian drinks, some of which you’ll find hiding in the pages of Summer’s Lease. The book releases on 13th July, and I highly recommend reading it in the garden (or at the beach) with one of these tipples in hand!

Overlooking Lake Garda (credit: Author’s Own)

Cheers!

 

 

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Lights, Camera . . . Love?

There’s something rather wonderful about a Hollywood romance, in both real life and as a story. Watching LaLaLand earlier this year brought that back to me. Although let’s not talk about that ending. Seriously, let’s not. I’m still in recovery.

So when I decided to write a new series based on four sisters, it seemed natural to have a hero who was a up-and-coming movie star — a huge contrast to the heroine who was a poor, wannabe playwright. And that’s how Sam Carlton appeared to me — almost fully formed before I even put pen to paper. A man who got his first big break at the age of 19, and has been part of the Hollywood machine ever since.

Of course, this isn’t the first time a romance book has ever been written about a movie star and a civilian (I wanted to say Muggle, but J.K. Rowling I’m not.) In fact, some of my all time favorite stories feature the clash of lifestyles between an ordinary girl and a famous star. There’s the hilarious The Unidentified Redhead by Alice Clayton, that features the gorgeous Jack Hamilton wooing a very normal, and notably clumsy, Grace Sheridan. Then there’s the hot Hollywood Dirt by Alessandre Torre – soon to become a movie itself, courtesy of PassionFlix. Love Unscripted by Tina Reber — my very favourite modern Hollywood romance — features a hero (movie star Ryan Christiansen) who literally crashes into Taryn Michael’s small town bar, leading to a chemistry that sizzles off the page.

It’s not just in books that Hollywood Romances can be found, but also (in a rather meta kind of way) in the movies too. I’ve already mentioned LaLaLand, (oh Ryan, why did you break my heart so?) but of course this is only the latest in a long line of movies about movie stars. One of my favourites — and a classic by any measure — is Singin’ in the Rain, featuring a rather gorgeous Gene Kelly singing and dancing his way as he falls in love with Debbie Reynolds. Then there’s Notting Hill, where movie star Julia Roberts has orange juice spilled over her white top by a bumbling yet adorable bookshop owner, Hugh Grant.

What do all these stories have in common? I think in the beginning there’s a mismatch between the hero and heroine, or in this case the movie star and the muggle *ahem* civilian. It seems as though the movie star is out of their reach, and that a relationship can never work. And yet as the story unfolds, the star becomes more down to earth, and often is searching for somebody who will treat them as normal. Fall in love with them for their personality, not for their handprint outside the Chinese theater. In that respect it’s not so different to a traditional fairytale like Cinderella, where a rich royal falls in love with a poor maid. It’s a modern, up to date (and occasionally gender-swapped) version of all those stories we read growing up.

I think that’s what makes a movie-star romance so magical. It has all the glamour of a fairytale, but with the added edge of a Hollywood setting. For those of us who grew up with our eyes glued to the silver screen, it offers a fantasy that can whisk us away from modern life, and for me, romances don’t get much better than that.

Summer’s Lease is the first book in Carrie’s new Shakespeare Sisters series, and will be released on July 13th. For more details click here.

SaveSave

SaveSave

5 Reasons Why I’m Excited For Summer!

 

I’m British, which means I’m obsessed by the weather. It’s a national pastime that I’m more than willing to take part in — be  it complaining about the rain, or speculating about the possibility of snow. But when the sun comes out, I tend to go into overdrive. Sunny weather is my happy place. It means long days out on our deck, with an ice-cold cocktail in one hand and a summery book in the other. Summer is about vacations and the sea, the beach and a barbecue. More than anything, warm weather is about spending time with family and friends — and it doesn’t get much better than that!

So since the sun decided to take a peek out from behind the clouds this weekend (and as I write, my weather app is telling me that by the time this blog is posted the rain will be back — sorry!) I decided it was high time to write a summery blog. So read on to find out my FIVE favorite things about summer!

1. THE FOOD

I’m one of those crazy people who love salads. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not about being healthy or calorie counting. After all, my favorite kind of salad comes doused with dressing and  with a side of french fries. It has to start out with a base of green salad leaves, then a healthy sprinkling of onion and cucumber. On top of that I love me some croutons and maybe some cajun spiced chicken, as well as a creamy dressing — be it caesar, thousand island or just yummy french oil. It has to be hearty, tasty, and full of the taste of summer.  Delicious!

2. THE DRINKS

There are so many different drinks that really come into their own in the summer. If you like your refreshment with alcohol, then Pimms is definitely the queen of summer drinks. This quintessential British punch-style drink is based on gin and red vermouth, with a large douse of lemonade, all poured into a jug filled with mint, strawberries, cucumber and apples. And it tastes absolutely delicious.

But Pimms isn’t the only good drink to have on a hot summer’s day. There’s also Prosecco, margaritas, and of course  an ice-cold beer. All these things make me feel very happy indeed.

3. THE BOOKS

For me, summer isn’t complete without a lovely summery story in my hand. Preferably set on a beach, with a pretty girl and a gorgeous guy who try to deny the attraction between them. This year there are a whole load of summer books being released — from Holly Martin’s Summer at Buttercup Beach to Heidi Swain’s Coming Home to Cuckoo Cottage and Sarah Morgan’s Holiday in the Hamptons. Oh, and did I mention I have a summer book coming out too? If you enjoy love stories set in Italy, with good food and a splash of wine (do you sense a theme here), along with a movie-star hero and a smart mouthed English writer, then check out Summer’s Lease. 

4. THE MOVIES

Summer movies are all about sun, sand and lots of love. The first one that springs to mind is the iconic Dirty Dancing. An uptown girl and a downtown boy meet at a Summer Vacation spot, and love grows on the dance floor. I won’t mention the remake (because really, no), but the original is well worth a re-watch. But if Baby and Johnny don’t do it for you, then check out Grease, Roman Holiday, One Day or Mama Mia, all of which feature scenes in the hot summer sun!

5. THE VACATIONS

Where better to enjoy summer food, drink, books and movies than on vacation? I love going on holiday with my family — it’s a chance to kick back, relax and spend quality time with those I love. Whether it be in Spain, Turkey or Italy (our most recent three vacations) the real draw of a holiday is being able to take ourselves away from real life and all the worries it brings, and start to relax, if only for a couple of weeks.

So those are the reasons I love summer. How about you? Are you a sun lover or more of a spring person? Let me know in the comments, or send me a tweet!

Love,

Feel the Fear, and Do it Anyway

Franklin D Roosevelt once famously said ‘The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.’ – but maybe he’d never been faced with climbing to the top of the O2. Okay, so I’m being a bit glib, but the fact is that sometimes I feel like a walking talking ball of anxiety. Especially when it comes to my bete noir – heights.

I can’t remember when I first started being afraid of tall buildings and mountains. Probably when I learned what happened if you fell off them. And that’s what my fear really is — it’s not a fear of heights, it’s a fear of falling to the depths. A fear of mortal injury!

A wise fear, you might say.

It’s not that dissimilar to some of the fears I face as a writer. What if people hate my book? What if they find out I’m a fraud? (One of my big ones — see this post on Imposter Syndrome for more details). What if I fail?

And sometimes even more scary, what if I succeed?

At the end of the day, the only failures we have are those when we don’t try. When we hang up our hats and hide away and decide not to challenge ourselves. So I try to ignore those inner voices that tell me to stop writing, the same way I try to ignore the inner voice that tells me I’m sure to die if I scale the dizzy heights of a skyscraper.

So I write and I publish, and I try to face my fears. That’s also why I decided to climb the O2 – that giant white tent-like structure in London, home to many a concert and exhibition. It looks like this:

As you can see, the sloping nature of the roof makes it hard to climb, which means you have to wear special equipment, including a harness, strong shoes, and a carabiner that ties you to the roof. You know, just in case you fall. So by the time I was fully dressed and ready to go, I was shaking. I was that afraid.

The route to the top is on a bouncy walkway, along with a hand rail that you have to cling to, otherwise the steepness is too much. All the way your carabiner is locked on to a wire, keeping you safe, but it’s hard work. And a bit like being an author, I found the best way to keep my anxiety under control was to keep my focus ahead of me, not look to the side, and keep breathing. That last tip is good for anything in life — breathing is important. Anyway, after around half an hour our group made it to the top, Want proof? Here’s a picture of me smiling, yes smiling. Because I did it. And the view from the top was amazing.

The route down was actually steeper than the route up (something to do with no platform going down), but I found that walking backward while clinging to the handrail helped. And when I finally made it to the bottom, I got a welcome rush of adrenaline, along with a sense of accomplishment. Because I did it – I felt the fear (oh boy did I feel the fear) and I did it anyway.

Would I do it again? I’m not sure, but I’m definitely glad I did it the first time. With every new thing I try, my fear of failing (or falling) becomes less. And I’m determined never to let my life be limited by fear again. Whether that be in my writing or anything else.