Christmas Earworms: Good King Wenceslas

by Daniel de Lorne

My favourite Christmas carol is Good King Wenceslas. When I was about 10, my cousin and I used to play a lot of Christmas duets on the piano. They were probably simple arrangements, but for me they were filled with a fun type of stress. She played the second part and I had the melody. Good King Wenceslas was my favourite of the lot, especially the part where it goes “Brightly shone the moon that night.” There was something rousing about those notes and I learned the whole lot off by heart.

That year I’d decided we’d have carols on Christmas Day when my family and my cousin’s family would come together to open presents. I’d spent weeks (or maybe it was only days) typing out the words to the carols and arranging them in a booklet, printing seven and colouring in specially designed covers. They were a work of art.

The day arrived and we played about 12 Christmas carols for the family going through a whole lot of the classics – Silent Night, Deck the Halls, Angels We Have Heard on High and of course Good King Wenceslas. All five verses. I’m sure the adults were wondering when it would all end, but they kept that to themselves and we had fun bashing out the tunes.

Years later when I was in Prague I quietly sang Good King Wenceslas while wandering through Wenceslas Square. I don’t think I’d even considered he was a real person before then at age 22.

I was trying to find a cartoon version of Good King Wenceslas that I remember from my childhood but couldn’t find it within the billions of videos on YouTube so here’s an Irish version that’s a lot more sprightly.


24083From the author of the romantic horror debut Beckoning Blood comes the gripping sequel that mixes blood, sex, and magic.

No-one gets to choose who they spend eternity with.

Aurelia d’Arjou has vampires for brothers, but it is as a witch that she comes into her own power, keeping balance and control, using her strength to mitigate the death and pain that her brothers bring. When she is forced to take on the centuries long task of keeping the world safe from the brutal demon that wore her father’s skin, duty dominates her life. But rare happiness comes in the form of a beguiling, flame-haired oracle who makes the perfect companion…but for one thing.

Hame doesn’t want to be an oracle, but when a demon destroys the closest thing to a father he has, he has little choice but to aid Aurelia with his visions. Unable to love her as she would wish, their centuries-old friendship comes under attack when a handsome Welsh witch enters his life – and his heart.

As treachery and betrayal push Hame to choose between his closest friend and his lover, it becomes clear that when it comes to war, love doesn’t always conquer all, and happy endings are never guaranteed.

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Friday Five: Jami Gray

2814First published with Escape: June 2017
Favourite romance trope: Emotionally scarred H/H, with Alpha tendencies from a military background, with paranormal elements. (Yeah, picking one isn’t easy.)
Ideal hero (in three words): Protective, complex, unexpected
Ideal heroine (in three words): Courageous, Quick-witted, kick-ass
Latest book: Lying in Ruins

What began your romance writing career? Why do you write romance?

An avid reader, when I hit high school, in-between the fantasy and murder-mysteries from my school library, I started sneaking my mom’s romance novels out of the house. Then entering the big bad world as an adult, I stumbled through life and discovered my characters suddenly became harder to hurt (emotionally and physically) while their relationships became crucial to my stories. A therapist would have a field day with this, but my stories shifted to heroines who didn’t need a hero to ride to her rescue. Sometimes it was more satisfying if she rumbled up to his rescue on her Harley.

How do you write? What is your process like?

I started out a solid pantser (one who writes with little to no planning), something I soon learned would not work long term, mainly because I’m a series writer and it’s way too easy to lose a sub-plot or a subtle piece of a character before you realise it. After eleven books I have mastered the art of a basic outline. Granted it can’t be too detailed because then I get bored (not a good thing when you’re the one telling the story), but my outline has enough major points to ward off distractions and keep me (somewhat) on point. Characters tend to come to me first, bringing their worlds along for the ride, then comes the fun part—creating conflicts of all shapes and sizes.

What was your hardest scene to write? Which kind of scenes do you find difficult to write? Which scenes do you enjoy writing the most?

Some of the more emotional scenes are difficult, only because to do justice to why a character reacts the way they do, without providing an easy emotional out, is tricky business. Anger’s a great emotion, but can be overused. Fear, even in the strongest person, can be the most corrosive. Love can cut both ways on the good/evil spectrum. But emotions are the core of who we are, and why we choose to act the way we do to any given situation. Writing such scenes aren’t just painful for my characters, they’re painful to write, but when done right they’re also the most rewarding.

 

What do you do when you’re stuck with a scene?

One of the most frustrating parts about story creation is hitting those plot pits, you know the kind that will drop your story into an endless chasm, never to come back? Yeah, those. The fun part about being a writer, nothing is ever final until it’s published, which means much like the awesome Dr. Who, I get to play with timelines, or in this case, story lines. Since the scene is stuck in my head, I’ll leave it for a day or so while I mentally rewrite it ad nauseam, changing little things with each rendition until something finally wrenches those clawing talons from my ankles.

 

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal? Do you have one already? 

As much as I’d like to say I’m bi-symbolic because I could swing either toward wolves or leopards, going to have to admit I tend to lean more towards the canine. As a proud rescue mama of my Fur Minxes, Lola and Angel, it’s easy to guess I’m a huge dog person, and yes, I’ll admit, being highly allergic to the feline population doesn’t help. However, leopards are stealthy, cunning, majestic felines that rule their worlds with a cynical eye, but wolves have this fabulous duality of both pack animals and lone predators built on a basis of loyalty and fierce determination. An introvert by nature, something about the ability to move between social and solo appeals to me.

Fur Minxes

 

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever had to research for a book?

When a two-hour span of my search history chronicles: How to set up a marijuana grow house, US Dept. of Defense’s list of current projects, most lethal FOB (Forward Operations Bases) of the US military, and how to set a Trojan virus, I’m pretty sure Homeland Security has me on a list somewhere. It was for my PSY-IV Teams series (a group of ex-military psychics) and I was impressed no men in dark suits came knocking on my door.

Where is your favourite place to write? 

I tend to write at my desk normally, but my favourite place to write is with my writing group during our retreats. As desert dwellers, we tend to head north where green things grow and the temperature tends to rest beneath broiling. We try to carve out a long weekend once or twice a year to get together. We stockpile coffee, food, and power cords and then disappear into our worlds for long, blissful uninterrupted hours. Occasionally one of us will surface, mutter a question about some fantastical element and its probable outcome, but the sounds of Mother Nature are interspersed with the click of fingers breezing over keyboards, broken by the slurp of caffeine intake. This picture was from one such jaunt, a lovely multi-room cabin where cell signals were only achieved by driving up the road, holding the phone at a 90 degree angle three feet from your body. It was lovely!

 

 

Writers Retreat View
Besides writing, what is something else that you’re really good at?

Organisation. While I ride the line between plotter and pantser (writing without a plan), in every other aspect of my life, I must plan and things must be in their place. Trips have an itinerary, I have a list of tasks to accomplish for almost everything, and I can’t sit down to write unless everything’s done. In fact, I share an office with my husband (see photos). Can you tell who owns which desk?


31476 (3)In a world gone to hell, it’s hard to tell the good guys from the bad…

The world didn’t end in fire and explosions, instead it collapsed slowly, like falling dominoes, an intensifying panic of disease, food shortages, wild weather and collapsing economies, until what remained of humanity battles for survival in a harsh new reality.

Charity uses lethal survival skills learned too early in her work as a ‘Hound, sniffing out pivotal secrets for one of the most powerful people on the west coast. Her work is deceptive, deadly, and best performed solo, which means when she has a run-in with a member of the notorious Fate’s Vultures, she has no intention of joining forces in some mockery of teamwork. The man might be sexy as hell, but she travels alone. She will accomplish her mission and she will settle a score – hopefully with the edge of her blade. But fate has other plans.

As one of Fate’s Vultures, a nomadic band of arbitrators known for their ruthless verdicts, Ruin witnesses the carnage of corruption and greed battering the remnants of humanity, and he bears the scars to prove it. Now he has a damn ‘Hound showing up in suspicious circumstances, leaving every cell of his body sceptical – and painfully aroused. The woman is trouble, and Ruin has every intention of steering clear. But when they realise they have a common enemy, Charity and Ruin will have to set aside their distrust if they want to achieve their mutual goal – justice and revenge.

Sometimes, when the world’s gone to hell, it’s better to stick with the devil you know…

Lying in Ruins is available now

Feed Your Reader: A Giant Romance and A Book Full of Bad Boys

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A brand new steamy paranormal romance about learning to love all of yourself.

In a world where people judge one another by exacting standards of size and style, being a big girl like Eudora Splat was never going to be easy.

Though trouble is brewing between magic folk and human purists who would see them all destroyed, Dora, a half-giant, tries to eke out a quiet, unnoticed life for herself, but it’s hard to be subtle when you’re over seven feet tall.

Losing her job as a gardener due to human complaints, Dora is recruited as a prison guard, where she’s enlisted to protect the magician Evander “Bear” Gordon from human purist attack. Bear encourages her to embrace her power and celebrate her heritage, introducing her to a world where she can be extraordinary and not just weird.

But after years of hiding and shying away, can Dora find the strength to grab onto a new life — and hold on to the man she’s falling in love with?

One-click now!

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Three full-length novels about heroes who are mad, bad, and dangerous to love…

Getting Wild — Sarah Barrie

The Devil Wears Prada meets Man vs Wild in this fast-paced romantic comedy set in the no-holds-barred world of travel journalism.

When Ella Jameson, editor-in-chief of Australia’s top travel magazine, steps into a room, people scramble to attention. She’s ruthless, terrifying, and untouchable.

But when Ryan Edwards walks into her office with a job proposal, Ella just knows he’s going to be trouble. In the tropical beauty of Australia’s Top End, it’s not just the weather that’s going to sizzle…

Hot Chocolate — Charlotte De Pace

She’s always been the good girl, but this trip to Italy will show Annabella that love and chocolate can both be sweet, tempting — and dangerously addictive.

When infamous playboy Alessandro De Costa entices Annabella Beaumont to be his master chocolatier and faux fiancée, neither anticipate the deception — or passionate seduction — that will follow.

As she slowly succumbs to the playboy’s charms, Annabella struggles with sweet temptation — as well as secrets that could ruin everything.

Tell Me No Lies – Shirley Wine

For single mum Victoria Scanlan, a visit to the luxurious country house of Darkhaven is a rare chance to combine work with pleasure. Securing the commission for The Wedding Of The Year will guarantee the ongoing success of her floral boutique and secure her the stability she needs for both herself and her son.

But Darkhaven comes with a shocking guest – the groom, Keir Donovan, is the man she once knew as Seth Donahue. Her young son’s father. The man who has no idea he has a child. The man she can’t forget.

One-click now!

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Exclusive Excerpt: The Magician’s Keeper

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A brand new steamy paranormal romance about learning to love all of yourself.

Dora watched the inmate, Mr Gordon, trying to keep her features carefully schooled and follow the instructions given during the induction. She was to always be on the lookout for possible shifts in mood that may precede an attack on the prison guards, other inmates but especially visiting legal representatives. This particular inmate was showing all the signs of suppressed aggression – and in her opinion quite justly. The lawyer was revolting and did not appear at all sympathetic to his client’s cause.

The inmate’s heavy brow had grown thunderous, his dark eyes flashed and his broad chest heaved with irritation. She really couldn’t blame him, she was starting to feel a little annoyed herself.

Her eyes lingered on the v- of his orange overalls. His skin was smooth with only a hint of chest hair. She looked away as her pulse raced a little.

Lord.

It was impossible not to notice the man’s frustration, but it was equally impossible to ignore fact he was a very attractive man.

In a delicious, big, bad wolf kind of way.

She shook the feeling away, knowing just how very inappropriate it was, as another equally as absorbing sensation took its place. A very real righteous indignation on Gordon’s behalf flared hotly in her gut.

Here was a vital, strong Magician, imprisoned in an unfair justice system simply for trying to get people to believe in their cause. He was the very kind of man her mother had died trying to help through her work in the UMC.

Her heart thumped loudly and she took a breath to steady herself.

The Magician’s Keeper is available for pre-order now!

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He’s a Magic Man…

by Nicola E. Sheridan

I write about magicians – but forget old guys pulling rabbits out of their hats, or macabrely dismembering pretty girls in boxes. Seriously, forget about those.

The magicians I’m talking about aren’t charlatan tricksters with brainless sidekicks. I’m taking about magicians with real magic, real power and real hearts. The kind of magicians who’ve inspired my latest book, The Magician’s Keeper – coming out in November.

Here are my top five.

Allanon_ManuBennett&me

Allanon –Terry Brooks, Shannara Chronicals

Allanon is the frankly delectable last Druidic Magician, who has just woken from a 400 hundred year sleep. He’s powerful, good and loyal. His love is enduring. He is also portrayed by the utterly gorgeous Manu Bennett in the television series.


riftwar-saga-01-magician

Pug Rift War series, Raymond E. Feist

Oh, Pug, for all his ugly name, he is a character I absolutely adored through my teen years, when I hungrily devoured Feist’s super awesome series. Pug starts the series as an unloved youngster hoping to become a Magician, who’s humiliatingly rejected by all who cannot see his potential. To cut a long, long, story short [spoiler alert] Pug becomes one of the most powerful magicians of all time.


Merlin_variousportrayals

Merlin – Arthurian Legend.

Merlin, he’s either portrayed as an old bearded man, or as a uniquely featured young man in the TV series ‘Merlin’. Both of these depictions do not meet with my expectations. The Merlin of myth is a pretty interesting character, he was the son of a princess, fathered by an Incubus (nocturnal sex demon). So he’s got some funky DNA right there. He was baptised right after birth, casting out his inherent evil, but retains the powers of his father *insert waggling eyebrows here*.


dragonlance
Raitslin Majere – in the Dragon Lance series by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman

Raitslin is an interesting Magician, he inherited his skills at magic from his mother and passed gruelling Test of High Sorcery. As a result, he acquired white hair and golden skin, and was cursed with hourglass eyes which saw the effects of time on all things. So he is pretty handsome too.


Konstantin Yuryevich_as Anton

Anton GorodetskyNight Watch, by Russian author Sergei Lukyanenko

Anton, is a reluctant Magician, preferring to live his life quietly, but finds his powers are growing and with them, his problems. Anton is also a bit of bad-ass, carrying not only his magic but also a pistol and silver bullets to put down any Vamps or Werewolves that come his way. He’s cynical, and despite his oddities, more than a little cool.

So, there you have it, five totally awesome Magicians. If you want to read about one more, you’ll find him in novel A Warlord’s Lady, which is out now.


32437A brand new steamy paranormal romance about learning to love all of yourself.

In a world where people judge one another by exacting standards of size and style, being a big girl like Eudora Splat was never going to be easy.

Though trouble is brewing between magic folk and human purists who would see them all destroyed, Dora, a half-giant, tries to eke out a quiet, unnoticed life for herself, but it’s hard to be subtle when you’re over seven feet tall.

Losing her job as a gardener due to human complaints, Dora is recruited as a prison guard, where she’s enlisted to protect the magician Evander “Bear” Gordon from human purist attack. Bear encourages her to embrace her power and celebrate her heritage, introducing her to a world where she can be extraordinary and not just weird.

But after years of hiding and shying away, can Dora find the strength to grab onto a new life — and hold on to the man she’s falling in love with?

The Magician’s Keeper is available for pre-order now!

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Friday Five: Nicola E Sheridan

2212Author: Nicola E. Sheridan
First published with Escape: 2013
Favourite romance trope: Paranormal / Urban Fantasy
Ideal hero (in three words): Powerful, strong, and magical
Ideal heroine (in three words): Awkward, compassionate, funny
Latest book: A Warlord’s Lady
Next book: The Magician’s Keeper

What began your romance writing career? Why do you write romance?
I won a highly recommended ‘best first novel’ in a writing competition in 2009, and that made me think that perhaps I could try and get something published. So I gave it a go and was fortunate enough to be taken on. I write romance because I love the feeling romance provokes, it is what I call hopeful literature, which focuses on the good things in life.

What is your writing power-up?
Watching a good television series always inspires me, it’s something about how the protagonists interact, the feelings they evoke, good or bad, it just makes my imagination go wild and I feel inspired to write after watching a good series. Grimm is currently one of my favourites.

What kind of characters do you like reading about the most?
I like reading about characters whose connection is intense, but vaguely awkward. I need realism in my reading, I want to feel that the romance is real.

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal? Do you have one already?
My little mascot would be my dog Terry, he’s a rescue and I’ve never known an animal so utterly devoted to me, he follows me everywhere and will sit at my feet for hours.

Nicola E. Sheridan (2)

Where is your favourite place to write?
Even though I have an awesome book lined study in which to write, I much prefer writing at my dinner table in the middle of my house. I feel more connected there, and I can watch the world go by from the window.

Nicola E. Sheridan (1)


32437A brand new steamy paranormal romance about learning to love all of yourself.

In a world where people judge one another by exacting standards of size and style, being a big girl like Eudora Splat was never going to be easy.

Though trouble is brewing between magic folk and human purists who would see them all destroyed, Dora, a half-giant, tries to eke out a quiet, unnoticed life for herself, but it’s hard to be subtle when you’re over seven feet tall.

Losing her job as a gardener due to human complaints, Dora is recruited as a prison guard, where she’s enlisted to protect the magician Evander “Bear” Gordon from human purist attack. Bear encourages her to embrace her power and celebrate her heritage, introducing her to a world where she can be extraordinary and not just weird.

But after years of hiding and shying away, can Dora find the strength to grab onto a new life — and hold on to the man she’s falling in love with?

Pre-order now!

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Friday Five: Amy Andrews

646Author: Amy Andrews
First published with Escape: 2014
Favourite romance trope: Small town
Ideal hero (in three words): Funny. Handy. Laidback.
Ideal heroine (in three words): Spunky. Quirky. Mouthy.
Latest book: Limbo

What began your romance writing career? Why do you write romance?

The need to not get off my electric blanket in the midst of a freezing cold English winter… (sorry, not very romantic!) I write romance for the happy sigh and because it privileges women’s experiences and sexuality.

Amy Andrews (2)

What do you do when you’re stuck with a scene?

I plough through. Even if its shite – I can fix that in rewrites.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever had to research for a book?

I’ve recently Googled bonnet (hood) heights for pickup trucks to figure out the logistics of my hero going down on my heroine…..never did that in my old job!

Amy Andrews (1)

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk? Or any cute quirks in general?

I am boringly un-quirky. I save that for my characters!

Favourite book covers? What draws your eye to a romance cover?

I’m drawn to quirky or different covers. I really like the cartoony type covers (yes, I know, I’m the only one in the entire world….) because they can be really personalised/tailored to a book and are often quirky or different. Nothing quite like a hot man on romance cover or a really hot couple clearly into each other! And I really appreciate when the people on a cover actually fit the description of the characters in the book.


23731 (1)Six Feet Under meets Stephanie Plum in Amy Andrews’  fresh, funny, sexy urban-family noir about a country singer who almost made it, a private investigator who’s seen too much and a mother who will cross all barriers to save her child.

When ex hillbilly-punk rocker turned cadaver make-up artist Joy Valentine is visited by the ghost of a high-profile murder victim begging for Joy’s help to find her kidnapped baby girl, Joy knows from experience the cops are going to think she’s crazy.  So she takes it to the one guy she knows who won’t.

The last thing disgraced ex-cop turned private investigator Dash Dent expected is a woman from his past turning up to complicate his present with a nutty, woo-woo story. The problem is he knows Joy is telling the truth and he can’t ignore the compelling plight of baby Isabella whose disappearance six months prior transfixed the nation.

Discounted and discredited by the police, Dash and Joy work together to uncover the mystery and find Isabella, with a whacky supporting cast including Eve, a brothel madam; Stan, an excommunicated priest; Katie, Dash’s ten-year-old daughter; and two horny goldfish. It’s a race against time and against all odds – but the real battle for Dash and Joy might just be keeping their hands off each other.

 

Romances Celebrating Pride

Google Play is currently running a promotion on LGBTQI romances that include some fantastic Escape titles. If you’d like to celebrate Mardi Gras with some queer romance, may we humbly suggest the following?

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A gripping,  blood-drenched saga about twin brothers, the men they love, and the enduring truth that true love never dies  — no matter how many times you kill it.

From Goodreads: “If you love your fiction dark, bloody, and breathtaking, you will love this book.”

From Daniel:

Bonds of Blood isn’t just your average series of gay love stories. Gritty, blood-thirsty and passionate, it brings into the light the love that has until now been hidden in the shadows. I love writing in this genre, adding my own voice for the mostly female readers of gay romance to discover.


24083

From the author of the romantic horror debut Beckoning Blood comes the gripping sequel that mixes blood, sex, and magic.

From Goodreads: “graphic in its presentation; impassioned in its friendship; burning with the immortality of love.”


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Falling for her best friend was never going to make life easy.

From Goodreads: “a quick, light, airy read that I would recommend to any rock star readers”


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An all-access pass to Sex, Love, and Rock ‘N Roll. Because what happens on tour doesn’t always stay on tour

From Goodreads: “an intimate exploration of the M/M dynamic but … this story is also about the journeys we take on the path to finding ourselves”

Valentine’s Day Sale!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

To show their love, Google Play Books has chosen four of our titles to promote. So if you’re looking for a romantic read, may we suggest the following titles, at promotional prices?

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The journey from friends to lovers starts with a very brave first step. Or a catalytic event. Sometimes both.

“delivered a fresh friendship to lover’s trope with a mix of personal growth, humor and self-discovery” (Kimberley, Goodreads)

Yes, please!


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What happens when fairytales get the romantic suspense treatment? A cross-genre mash-up with enchanting results!

“a short and quirky novella that mixes up the fairytale and crime genre and honestly its just a lot of fun to read” (Jess, Goodreads)

Buy me now!


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They might be one of the hottest up-and-coming bands in Australia, but the members of Selling the Sun have a lot to learn about life, love, sex, and each other.

“a quick, light, airy read that I would recommend to any rock star readers” (Miranda, Goodreads)

Get on my e-reader!


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From one of Australia’s hottest new authors comes a story about an international scandal, a billionaire, and a fearless reporter who might just save the day…

“high energy, intense, suspenseful, incredibly romantic (like bone melting romantic)” (Brooke, Goodreads)

Gimme gimme gimme!

(please note: Detained is also available at this promotional price on Amazon and iBooks as part of promotional events with those e-tailers!)

The Story of My Book: Haunted Ever After

by Juliet Madison

I Dedicated My Novel To A Ghost…

 I’ve always loved ghost stories, and as I’ve often experienced strong gut instincts about certain things and have learned to listen to my intuition, it’s no wonder I like writing stories with a few elements of the supernatural thrown in.

 When I started writing one of my magical romantic comedies, HAUNTED EVER AFTER, I was trying to come up with a name for my main character; a bride-to-be who becomes haunted by the wacky ghost of her fiance’s ex-girlfriend. A name popped into my mind. I liked the first name but the surname didn’t feel completely right, so I asked myself, ‘What would be a better surname?’ and instantly another one came to me.

 I Googled it and found a news article about a woman with the same name who had been murdered. Her terrifying ordeal brought tears to my eyes, and then I gasped as the article mentioned a street name close to where she was found – it was the same name as the original surname that had popped into my mind.

I decided to give my character the first name of this woman (Sally), but use a different surname than the two I had thought of. I like to think that somehow, I could give her a symbolic second chance at a happy ever after, if only through fiction. And I decided to not only name my character after her but dedicate the book to her as well, and others who have been taken abruptly and unfairly from this world.


22032Mixing romance, humour and a sparkle of magic, Juliet Madison is back with a new full-length novel about a bride-to-be, a mystery and the stripper next door.

When bride-to-be Sally Marsh attends a weekend away with her bridesmaids, the last thing she expects is an uninvited guest: the ghost of her fiancé’s ex-girlfriend.

Red is quirky, loud and distracting, and Sally is soon desperate to find the reason behind her presence, so she can rid herself of her embarrassing shadow before the wedding day. Unfortunately, the ghost is reluctant to share the reason for her existence, but very enthusiastic about Ty, the surprise hen’s night stripper who keeps showing up at awkward moments.

Time is running out for Sally, but it’s also running out for Red. By the time all is revealed, Sally will be tested to the limits, and go above and beyond everything she’s ever believed in order to ensure not only her own happy-ever-after – but Red’s as well.