Beer, Jane Jackson and a cracking good read

Today the Romaniacs are welcoming Jane Jackson to tell us about her latest novel Crosscurrents. There’s beer too! Do help yourselves, but the big tankard is mine. Cheese straw, anyone?   janejackson

 

Book Blurb: Santo Innis  is developing a revolutionary new engine to counter the lethal effects of high-pressure steam. His backer is Richard Vaughan, heir to Frederick Tregarron, owner of Gillyvean estate. Following the tragic deaths of his wife and baby son, Richard immersed himself in work.

But his world is turned upside down by the unexpected arrival at Gillyvean of Melanie Tregarron, a talented artist and Frederick’s illegitimate youngest daughter. Desperate to prove the viability of his invention, Santo persuades Richard to let him fit one at Gillyvean’s brewhouse. But when Bronnen Jewell – worried about her mother’s suffering at her father’s hands – arrives to brew the harvest beer she’s horrified, fearing loss of the income on which she depends. As the lives of these four become entwined, a shocking revelation shatters Bronnen’s world; desperate for money Santo makes a choice that costs him everything; Melanie fears she will never be free of her past; and Richard has to face his deepest fear.

 

 

crosscurrents

 

Excerpt:

Bronnen stood up. Instantly Santo was on his feet. She touched his arm lightly.

‘I have to skim the beer. The first head has a lot of bits in it and resin from the hops.’

He followed her to the fermentation vessel and watched her work. ‘You do that every three or four hours?’

She nodded. ‘Then what?’ ‘When the beer is cool enough I’ll rack it off.’ Setting down the skimmer she picked up the lantern, led him to an open doorway at the rear of the brewhouse and held it high so he could see casks lying on their sides on top of a timber framework with a gutter running down the middle. ‘When it’s piped into the barrels it carries on working and I collect the yeast to use in the next brew.’

 

Returning the lantern to the wooden staging by the mash tub she swallowed a sudden yawn and glanced away, hoping he hadn’t noticed. But he had.

‘I should go. This ’ave been a long day for you.’ She didn’t want him to leave, but couldn’t ask him to stay. He had his own work. She wiped her palms down her apron.

‘I’m glad you stopped by.’

Taking her hand he raised it to his lips. In the soft light his gaze met hers, held it. ‘Bronnen,’ he murmured and drew her closer. She knew if she resisted he would release her. But she didn’t, couldn’t. As he bent his head she raised her face to his.

His mouth touched hers and her breath stopped. His kiss was gentle, light as a butterfly. It lingered. Her lips softened, parted under his, and she tasted his sweet warmth. She rested her hands on his chest, not to push him away but to steady herself. His heart beat against her palm, hard and fast like her own. Drawing her head back she took a shaky breath. His hands slid from her shoulders to her hips as he rested his forehead against hers.

‘I never – I didn’t expect this, you.’ ‘Nor me.’

 

Tilting her chin, he gazed at her as if he was dying of thirst and she was cool water. ‘Bronnen, I – please?’ ‘Yes,’ she whispered. His mouth covered hers in a kiss that deepened from tender to passionate. As her head swam she gave herself up to the delicious sensation of his mouth on hers and the tidal wave of yearning it unleashed. Her arms slipped around his neck as his enfolded her, drawing her close. When, too soon, he lifted his mouth from hers they were both breathless.

She swayed, disoriented. ‘God, Bron, I’m –’

She pressed her fingers against his lips, shutting off the words. ‘Don’t,’ her voice was unsteady, her heart still pounding. ‘Don’t say you’re sorry. You aren’t, are you?’

‘No! Never! But I shouldn’t have – I didn’t expect –’

‘Me neither.’ Her laugh was shaky. ‘We already said this once.’ Holding her hand between his he pressed his lips to her palm. ‘I’ll go.’ His voice was rough, abrupt. ‘I don’t want to. But –’

‘I know,’ she said softly and stepped away from him. ‘I will see you again.’

His gaze was stormy and the fierceness of his expression betrayed an inner upheaval that matched her own. ‘Soon?’

Looking up at him, awed by what had happened, she reached out and lightly touched his cheek with her fingertips. ‘Yes. Soon.’

 

Now for some background information:

 

The brewhouse on a country estate was usually situated in a courtyard some distance from the main house. This ensured the family wasn’t disturbed by the heady smells and noise of necessary night time work. Two storeys high, it had a slatted lantern in the roof.

These slats could be opened or closed to control the temperature. Just below the lantern a tank or cistern held water pumped up from the well in the yard and gravity-fed down to the copper mounted on a platform 10-12 feet above ground level. Copper sizes varied from 40 gallons in a farmhouse to upwards of 85 gallons in a large country house.

A domestic copper used for laundry was a simple U-shape.  But the bottom of a brewing copper was like a rounded W, the best shape to achieve a rolling boil of the wort, and to ensure the copper could be completely emptied via a tap. Experienced brewers – on farms and in country houses these were often women (known as ‘brewsters’) whose skills were passed down from mother to daughter  – knew that a wood fire was far quicker than coal to bring a copper full of water to the boil.

 

Beer contains only four ingredients:  water, malt, hops and yeast. It is the quality of these plus the skill of the brewster that decides the superiority of the finished product.

 

Water:   Brewsters on farms and in country houses claimed rainwater was best. If it would lather soap it would make a good brew.

 

Malt.  The best barley – a long-eared variety raised on rich soil – made the best malt which would be known by its light fragrance, mellow taste, full flavour and a thin skin that was sweet and crisp.  The barley grains were steeped in water two or three times over two to three days until they began to germinate then transferred to the perforated wood malting floor and constantly turned to air-dry them. Then they were kilned or roasted to the desired colour and ground by hand in a mill like a coffee grinder. It took skill and judgement to crush the malt to just the right consistency.  Once ground it was best used within seven to ten days. Left any longer it might absorb moisture which would affect the heat of the mash.

 

Hops:  the best were bright green in colour with a sweet slightly oily scent.  For a keeping beer a rule of thumb was a pound of hops for every bushel of malt.  Beer that was drunk soon after brewing – e.g. small beer for harvest workers – needed only half the amount of hops.

 

Yeast:  The best yeast was gathered from a strong brew when it bubbled out of cask bungholes and was collected in channels called stillions.  It was kept in cold water – changed every other day – somewhere cool. Private brewers could, if necessary, buy yeast from commercial brewers. Strong beer needed 2 pints of yeast per 40 gallons.  For small beer: 1½ pints per 40 gallons. Once a brew started it took at least two days with only a few hours’ break between various stages so the brewer needed a comfortable chair. Another necessity for brewhouse and cellar was a solid door with a strong lock and key.

 

Buy links: Ebook:  http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00L9CIS66/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1634&creative=19450&creativeASIN=B00L9CIS66&linkCode=as2&tag=lucyfelthouse-21 http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00L9CIS66/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00L9CIS66&linkCode=as2&tag=lucyfelt-20&linkId=SKMOU3OLOI2V4D2Z   Paperback: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/190962439X/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1634&creative=19450&creativeASIN=190962439X&linkCode=as2&tag=lucyfelthouse-21 http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/190962439X/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=190962439X&linkCode=as2&tag=lucyfelt-20&linkId=A56RJWDEZCVJEC3Q

 

Author bio: Jane Jackson has been a professional writer for over thirty years, and twice shortlisted for the Romantic Novel of the Year Award. Crosscurrents is her twenty-eighth published novel. Happily married to a Cornishman, with children and grandchildren, she has lived in Cornwall most of her life, finding inspiration for her books in the county’s magnificent scenery and fascinating history. She enjoys reading, research, long walks, baking, and visiting Cornish agricultural shows where her husband displays his collection of 28 (and counting) restored vintage rotavators.

 

Website: http://www.janejackson.net Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/JaneJacksonAuthor Twitter:  https://twitter.com/JJacksonAuthor http://www.writermarketing.co.uk/prpromotion/blog-tours/currently-on-tour/jane-jackson/

Happy Monday to Teresa Morgan

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Celia: Good morning, Teresa, and welcome to the Romaniacs’ blog – we’ve just treated ourselves to a squishy new visitors’ sofa so put your feet up and have a freshly-baked scone. Jam? Clotted cream?

Teresa: Oh scones! Nom nom nom. I put the cream on first, then the jam by the way ;-) The proper way.

Celia: I do mine the other way round but I won’t hold that against you. Right, on with the interview; I know you were as proud as Laura James, Sue Fortin and I were to be in the line-up for the Joan Hessayon Award – are there any other awards/prizes that you’d love to be up for?

Teresa: You know, I’ve never really thought about this. I suppose it would be lovely to win some other romance novelist award at some point in my career, but I wouldn’t know which one.

Celia: How long have you been writing and what started you off?

Teresa: I’ve been writing since 2006, so I’m quite new to it really. I started writing fan fiction, and loved it so much I decided to have a go professionally.

Celia: What are your favourite places to write?

Teresa: I write at my PC, which is now at a desk in my cosy little lounge, in my cosy little house.

Celia: What are you reading for pleasure at the moment?

Teresa: The Hunger Games. The first one and I’m loving it. I soooo want to watch the film, but I’m the sort of person who needs to read the book first.

Celia: Me too – I couldn’t stop reading the series and then I had withdrawal symptoms for a week. Right – nosy moment coming up. Could you please tell me about a typical day in your life? Or just a random one if you prefer?

Teresa: Every day is different, because I work some days in a post office. On a Wednesday, I work at the school as a dinner lady so that breaks up my day too. Tuesdays and Thursdays are now my free days, where I don’t have to work, so I try to write as much as I can in those, plus fit a run in first thing in the morning after the kids are in school. I am trying very hard to get back into a writing routine … sometimes I feel I am failing miserably.

Celia: Do you enjoy travel, and if so, which places have inspired your writing?

Teresa: I would love to travel. So far, since the boys have been born, I’ve only ventured to Cornwall for holidays, but this does feature in my first novel, Plus One is a Lucky Number.

Celia: What is your next ambition?

Teresa: I have a ten-year plan. Writing is my ambition, and I am sort of achieving it – I have one book published! One day it would be lovely to write full time, and gain a reliable income from it.

Celia: What books influenced you to start (and continue) reading as a child?

Teresa: I remember The Hobbit being read in class, plus I was into The Black Stallion books by Walter Farley (what can I say, I was a typical girl who loved horses), however I didn’t really get into reading until the film The Interview With A Vampire, where I then devoured Anne Rice’s vampire chronicles. I’ve been stuck on wanting to read the book before I watch the film ever since.

Celia: Who are your three all time favourite authors?

Teresa: Anne Rice, Charlaine Harris and Sue Moorcroft (but there are others too).

Celia: Have you read any of the other books that were nominated for the Joan Hessayon Award yet?

Teresa: Sadly, I haven’t. But I will. Reading is another thing I’m failing with at the moment, however I’ve got into The Hunger Games, so I’m making time again! Woo hoo!

Thank you for having me over for scones, Celia!

Celia: Come back soon, Teresa; chocolate fudge cake next time, maybe?

 

Plus one is a lucky number

 

About Teresa F Morgan

 

I live in sunny Weston-super-Mare, trying to hold onto my Surrey accent where I was born and bred.

For years I persevered with boring jobs, until my two boys joined my nest. In an attempt to find something to work around them, and to ensure I never endured full time boredom again, I found writing.
I’m at my happiest baking cakes, putting proper home cooked dinners on the table (whether the kids eat them or not), reading a good romance, or sitting at my PC emptying my thoughts onto the screen.

I love writing contemporary romance, stories with a touch of escapism and creating heroes readers will fall in love with. Men who in reality, let’s face it, just don’t exist.

 

 

About Plus One is a Lucky Number

 

The wedding favour…

Sophie’s going to a wedding where the invite is strictly plus one… but with her single girl status not exactly fitting in with the bridesmaid dress code, and the best man being none other than the ex she would rather forget, Sophie needs a favour and she needs it fast!

Luckily for Sophie, her dreamy but distant co-worker Adam Reid owes their mutual friend James big time…and his gorgeousness more than fills the role of the ‘Perfect Boyfriend’!

As they take off to the sunny shores of Cornwall for the wedding weekend, it’s not long before pretence leads to passion and Sophie and Adam must decide; is their relationship real or is it all for show?

 

 

 

Blog / Website / Twitter / Facebook

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Who’s Your Daddy?

Listening

In honour of Fathers’ Day, here are a few random Romaniacal thoughts on the whole complicated Dad issue.

Dads are a mixed bunch. They might be absent by choice, around all the time (but somehow not really there), dearly departed members of the family or all round good eggs who do nappies, wash the floor without being asked and buy flowers when it’s not even your birthday. Whichever category your dad falls into, he will have contributed in lots of ways to the person that’s reading this post, and not just in the way your hair sticks up in the mornings, your worrying tendency to miss deadlines and your passion for Toblerone.

‘Who’s your daddy?’ has come to mean a lot of different things over the years. Mostly, it’s got nothing to do with genetics – it usually means ‘Right, that’s shown you who’s boss around here,’ or ‘In your face, sucker!’ Does your dad fall into the bossy category or can you wrap him around your little finger? Would you change anything about him, or is he/was he perfect just the way he was made?

These are my top ten qualifications for a Superdad, in no particular order.

A truly great dad -

  • Reads stories, and does all the voices, even Piglet
  • Makes you laugh until your ribs ache
  • Provides huge, comforting hugs
  • Doesn’t mind looking daft in a good cause
  • Makes your mum happy (or at least doesn’t make her want to smother him in his sleep)
  • Helps with nasty homework, especially maths
  • Likes cooking, and knows where the dishwasher/sink is afterwards
  • Listens, even when you know you’re talking complete rubbish
  • Can tolerate a house full of sprawling, half asleep hungover friends
  • Loves you. Always. Whatever you do.

My own Pa managed nine out of ten. He never could get the hang of that cooking malarkey.

Hat

Gramp

Spring has well and truly sprung …

Tulips

And now we come to the part of the year when everything suddenly seems more hopeful. The sun’s shining  (at the moment)  and there are signs of buds and green stuff and blossomy bits and bobs. The birds are tweeting very loudly. The butterflies are doing whatever butterflies do – flitting and fluttering and suchlike. The windows look grubby. Oh – scratch the last one – it sneaked into the good list by mistake.

When the New Year happened I didn’t get round to any proper resolutions due to being full of cake and wine and so on,  but I’m taking the unusual step of making one now. It’s about my blog. Not the Romaniac blog – this one is fine because it’s got eight people paying attention to it. No, the blog I’m referring to is the dusty, cobwebby one with just my own name on it. It needs TLC. So my spring resolution is to post on it three times a week. Only short snippets, with maybe a picture, but enough to stop it crying and complaining about being neglected. If you get the urge to check up on this promise, it can be found on http://celiajanderson.co.uk

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I hope the photos get you in the mood for the season of birds’ nests, daffodils and hot cross buns. Over to you now.  Is the sunshine making you all motivated and bouncy? Have you got any resolutions that slipped through the net in January?

The Romaniacs would love to know …

Stones

Best Bits

Ring

 

The Romaniacs are brushing off the mince pie crumbs and thinking of a group hike today – it’s been an interesting week on the whole. The blocked sink is unbunged, thanks to the very nice man from AA home insurance (what a big pipe he’d got, but that’s another story) and the dishwasher man came today as promised. He wasn’t quite so nice, to be perfectly honest but he removed some cat fur and bits of broken wine glasses and now the washing up situation can go back to normal. Thank goodness – the others were about to go on strike and my Marigolds are in ribbons. Anyway, here are my best bits from Christmas 2013 – what were yours?

  • Surprise hit game of Christmas – an ancient Bagatelle that used to belong to Grandpa. The competitive spirit has surfaced big time. And some other games have gone up the charts here too:

BagatelleGames

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These special straws make drinking even more fun and give you that instant suave moustached look: sorry this one’s on its side but drinking has that effect on me …

Straws

And also a picture of the Silvertown Express and a collection of USA photos from the offspring were a lovely reminder of the great rail journey of the summer.

 

SilverUSA snaps

 

 

 

 

 

 

So those are my highlights, along with a lot of lovely mess, a great box set to look forward to in 2014 and some Christmas music to remind me of my dad.  The Romaniacs would love to hear about your Christmas  moments if you still have the strength to tap out a few words. Happy New Year!

Celia xxx

EpisodesMessiah

Mess

On your marks … get set … Ofsted we go!

Sparkle

Right, I think I’m ready. Oh, wait – we forgot those last presents on top of the wardrobe. So, who wants to go out and get some  more wrapping paper? And could you just go and queue up at the butcher’s for the turkey while you’re in town? And we need some of that gunky stuff in a bottle – the sink’s blocked again. I think it was the practice run bread sauce that did it. Is there enough gin, do you think? At least the decorations are up. Hang on, nobody got any holly. Are you going to find the string and get a few cards up? No? Why not? Anyone would think you’d been busy. Why are you waving that meat cleaver at me?

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So, it’s nearly here, and soon it’ll be that blissful moment when you realise that if you haven’t bought it now, it really doesn’t matter. Preparing for the festive frolics is usually fun with children around but the last weeks at work have been a tad stressful – we’re a Catholic school so we do a lot of lovely advent things, but we also have the huge black cloud of Ofsted hanging over us (long overdue and dreaded) so my writing has had to go firmly on the back burner and I’ve been making nice tidy folders at the same time as all the sticking and glueing. The Christmas cake didn’t happen  – which is a minor disaster (we’re having an emergency quick-fire boiled fruit cake recipe that can be made today) – but the mince pies are done, even if most of them have already mysteriously disappeared.

Anyway, here’s my ode to inspectors everywhere; I hope you like it, whether you’ve experienced the joys of audits, whether you perform them yourself or whether they’re just an ugly rumour to you. I’m off to read a book. Happy Christmas from me and from all the other Romaniacs too!

Celia xx

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Twas the week before Christmas

When all through the place

Rang a howling and keening

And fear touched each face.

They’re coming! They’re coming!

Came the cry from each side.

They’ll find us, they’ll catch us –

There’s nowhere to hide.

They’ll peer into corners

And look in each box

We’re not going to like it,

We’re in for some shocks.

But the boss was quite calming

She smiled at us all

Decided to give us

A rip-rousing call.

Come teachers, brave teachers -

Did you hear what I said?

Because we’re not afraid

Of the wrath of Ofsted.

And even if some staff

are trotting away,

We don’t need to worry –

We’ll just have to pray!

We’ll shine up the classrooms

And make them all neat.

In the staffroom we’ll tidy

Each biscuit and sweet.

We’ll train all our pupils

To talk till they drop

Enthuse about targets

Till they beg them to stop.

The kitchen is gleaming

The governors are ready …

Just excuse me while I go

And cuddle my teddy.

But soon we all rallied

And scuttled about.

‘Let’s not be downhearted’

I heard them all shout.

So we’ll get ourselves poised

And break out the sherry,

Forget work for now

And let Christmas be merry!

Maid of Oaklands Manor – Terri Nixon

Today the Romaniacs are featuring debut novelist Terri Nixon who was one of the winners of the Piatkus Entice competition at last November’s Festival of Romance. Her ebook will be launched on July 4th and is definitely going to be worth downloading – here’s an idea of what’s in store. Congratulations, Terri!

Maid of Oaklands Manor 2

1912: A chance meeting between scullery maid Lizzy Parker and heiress Evie Creswell leads to more than an enduring friendship, and a new job for Lizzy; it draws her into a world of privilege and intrigue, and delivers her into the loving arms of a killer.

When Lizzy meets Jack Carlisle, a charismatic friend of the Creswell family, she finds herself drawn to him despite the rumour that he had been involved in the death of Evie’s father. She senses her feelings are reciprocated, but as she finds herself pulled deeper into the dangerous life Jack leads she must decide if he can be trusted with the life of a friend and, ultimately, if he is worth the risk to her own.”

Terri was born in the ancient naval city of Plymouth, England in 1965. At the age of 9 she moved with her family to Cornwall, to a small village on the edge of Bodmin Moor, where she discovered a love of writing that has stayed with her ever since. She also discovered apple-scrumping, and how to jump out of a hayloft without breaking any bones, but no-one’s ever offered to pay her for doing those.

Since publishing in paperback for the first time in 2002, Terri has appeared in both print and online fiction collections, and is proud to have contributed to the Shirley Jackson award-nominated hardback collection: Bound for Evil, by Dead Letter Press. She now lives in Plymouth with her youngest son, and works in the Faculty of Arts at Plymouth University where she is constantly amazed by the number of students who don’t possess pens.

You can follow Terri on Facebook here.

Maid of Oaklands Manor is available at Amazon here.

Henriette Gyland – reviewing her new novel; The Elephant Girl

Henriette Gyland and other authors - Festival of Romance (1)

I loved Henriette Gyland’s latest book – it kept me hooked right until the end and the characters were real and vibrant. The interaction between Jason, Fay, Helen and the rest of the main players was sympathetically drawn, and Helen’s lack of confidence and history of anxiety and loss were dealt with sensitively. Tackling a subject like epilepsy can’t be easy, but this author did it with supreme confidence. I felt I understood the problem much better by the end of the book.

Jason and Helen’s romance was scorching in its intensity and the friendships/conflicts between the main characters were fascinating. I have a terrible habit of losing the plot through reading too quickly but I didn’t skip a single word of this, and would have liked it to go on much longer.

Jason’s point of view was well explored and explained all through the book – he is an absolutely drop dead gorgeous hero with a touching vulnerability too.
The family problems were also developed in depth, and I even loved Aggie in the end.

Thanks, Henri, for a fabulous read – I thought Up Close would be a hard act to follow but you’ve done it!

(This review can also be seen on http://celiajanderson.co.uk)

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Phillipa Ashley’s here, telling us about what it was that happened one night…

It Happened One Night 3 (1)

Today we introduce Phillipa Ashley’s brand new book, and the Romaniacs are already itching to read more. It’s funny, it’s feisty, and of course it’s naughty in the nicest possible way…

 

IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT

Phillipa Ashley

Published as an e book by Piatkus Entice on June 6th 2013

 

Blurb:

Sophie McBride has been in love with Adam Templar for as long as she can remember. Talented, brilliant and sexy, he shines like the sun over the tiny Lakeland village where she’s grown up. Now, at eighteen, she has her own big ideas and what’s more, Adam is home from university and has finally noticed her . . . really noticed her. When he asks her to a party, she dares to hope that all her dreams can come true, but what happens that night sets off a chain of events that bring heartbreak for Sophie – and lead to Adam leaving Langmere under the darkest of clouds.

Ten years later, no one is more shocked than Sophie to find him back in the village. Now an up-and-coming film director, he’s returned to make a drama about a notorious local poet and brought his glamorous cast, crew – and girlfriend – with him. As the on-screen drama plays out, can Sophie and Adam lay the past to rest or will history repeat itself?

 

EXTRACT

21 year old Adam Templar has finally made 18 year old Sophie McBride’s young life complete and asked her to spend the night with him at his younger sister’s birthday party – where he’s supposed to be in charge…

Adam emerged from the en suite, hurriedly buttoning up his Levis, “I have to go downstairs and make sure no one’s been killed in the past half-hour,” he said, shrugging on his T-shirt. “You stay here.”

“What, in bed?” asked Sophie, knowing exactly what he meant but wanting to hear him say it because it turned her on.

 “Yes, in bed. Where else? You don’t think I’m wasting the fruits of the Bell’s condom machine, do you?” He sat down on the bed next to her, tilting her chin up in the cradle of his fingers. “This is going to sound crazy but I want you to know something. I didn’t just get you up here for a shag. I mean, of course I got you up here for a shag but I also want you know that this has meant more to me than a one-night stand.” He smiled and she held her breath. “Or even a two-shag stand. The truth is I’d like to see you again over what’s left of the summer.”

And then what? She wanted him to carry on. What would happen after the summer? She wanted so much more than a one-night stand too, no matter how much she’d convinced herself that having sex with him would be enough. Over the past few hours, hopes and expectations had somehow stolen into the room, no matter how hard she’d tried to keep them out.

“I’d like to see you too,” she said, marveling at how calm she sounded, while wanting to explode with happiness.

“Good. That’s great but . . . the thing is that, in a few months, we’ll both have to go away and it’s going to be bloody miserable and I don’t know how to fix that.”

She waited for him to carry on, hoping that he’d suddenly come up with some way to “fix it” and say they could carry on seeing each other once they were at university. She hoped he would say that he would drive up to her uni from Oxford every Friday or that she could come down on the train to his college. That he’d like her to meet his friends and wander the ivy-clad quads with his arm around her and that afterwards they could make love in his rooms all night, but he stayed silent and pushed back her wayward hair from her face in a way that Sophie should have found tender but instead found disappointing. She realised that he probably wasn’t going to offer to do any of those things – not tonight anyway but maybe, she thought, he might at the end of summer when they knew each other better.

“Then don’t worry. Let’s empty the machine at the pub and have a good time,” Sophie said brightly, hoping it was what he wanted to hear.

As if to remind them both, there were loud shrieks from outside in the garden.

 “You’re right of course. We should just enjoy now, but we both know it’s not going to be that simple.”

He smiled. She wasn’t sure if he was relieved or not, but he seemed happier.

The music ramped up a notch and the floor of the room felt as if it was throbbing. The shrieks and screeches grew in volume. It sounded as if the whole of Langmere was out in the garden, which was probably almost true.

“Adam!” A girl’s voice screamed through the door.

‘For God’s sake. What now?’

There was hammering on the door. “Adam! Open the door!”

“Wait a minute!”

The door flew open and Tarnyah dashed into the room. Sophie dived under the sheets as Adam swore loudly. “Get out!”

Before Sophie had time to expect the girl to giggle or point or shriek in embarrassment at finding her and Adam half naked, Tarnyah started shouting. “They’re in the lake. They’re in the lake. Come quick.”

BUY LINKS

Amazon UK:

Amazon US:

http://www.amazon.com/It-Happened-One-Night-ebook/dp/B009M1QR64/ref=la_B0034P9MC0_1_9_title_0_main?ie=UTF8&qid=1368446686&sr=1-9

Website

www.phillipa-ashley.com

Twitter

@PhillipaAshley

Facebook

Good luck, Phillipa! :)

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Phillipa-Ashley/133611746664705?fref=ts

Butterfly Moments

Leaf B

BF3Butterfly photographs courtesy of Deb Anderson – with thanks.

So, what’s the most romantic thing you’ve ever done?

We’ve probably all got a cupboard full of skeletons that we only let out at 3am when sleep won’t come, but I’m not even going to think about those deeply embarrassing bits today. The theme of this blog is the other times – the ones when we got it absolutely right; the Butterfly Moments, if you like. You know the ones I mean. When you were trying to be really romantic and it worked? When you wanted to make someone very happy and it happened without any banana skins, unexpected gurgles in the stomach region (or worse) or red faces?
Cast your minds back to a time when the world suddenly became a simpler place and you gave yourself – if only briefly – full marks for an impulsive romantic gesture, a perfectly organised outing, a significant and suitable present well received or a cunning plan that came off.
These moments are precious if only to remind us that life can, sometimes, be a bowl of cherries. I know we use our depressing and cringe-worthy experiences to bring our writing to life but just for a few minutes, let yourself wallow in smug self-satisfaction as you remember something that deserves its own Westlife (subsitute own cheesy music choice here) soundtrack and fuzzy lighting. Go on, tell all…

BF2

Celia: Mine was when my newly discovered and already much-loved bloke announced that he was going away shortly for nearly two weeks on a railway journey that was going to touch on a whole bunch of major European cities. After I had finished hitting him with a stick and the bitter jealousy had subsided, I realised I was going to miss him. A lot. Unfortunately, this man was a texting novice at the time and thought that the mobile telephone was a scheme of the devil to waste our valuable reading time. I wanted to make sure he didn’t forget about me, but constantly ringing him to mutter sweet nothings was only going to make him remember how annoying I could be (which, incidentally, is pretty annoying).
For this man, who I was beginning to suspect had a secret romantic streak, the only way forwards was on paper. I shopped furiously for small and quirky cards and dug out my dusty collection of poetry books. Then I got a copy of his holiday itinerary and wrote a letter, complete with a poetic quote, for every day, labelled neatly with the place and date. I can sense your incredulity here – was this woman totally off her rocker? Surely this must have taken hours – time that could have been better spent eating cake, drinking copious amounts of wine and watching back to back episodes of Friends? The answer is, yes it bloody did. But it was worth it because he loved them and still has them stashed away where he thinks I can’t see them. Ha!

Mo and me

Catherine: I’m not sure I can be classed as romantic, but I do my best to be thoughtful when I can and not just for the man in my life. Later this year it’s my Mum’s 60th Birthday. Old Ma Mo (I never came up with that nickname) has stated she doesn’t want a fuss, and no parties. Well, I’m very good at ignoring my Mum and at knowing when she means what she says… hence, I have plans. Secret plans which I cannot reveal even among friends. I will tell you about her 50th though. Since she was at school, my Mum has had a pen pal over in Texas. Twice her pen pal had been over here, but Mum couldn’t afford to go on the return journey. So I got in contact with her pen pal and started making secret plans with her and my grandparents. Sue (Mum’s pen pal) was able to be very generous and paid for Mum to go over with air miles and the savings went towards me going with Mum as she didn’t want to travel alone. We didn’t keep it a secret until she was going, we told her about a month beforehand. Here we are in a rather fuzzy photo in San Antonio. Now to live up to it for her 60th! And Mum, if you are reading this, as we’ll have 3 month old twins, they’ll be no flights involved this time!

Jan: This Butterfly Moment couldn’t strictly be labelled ‘romantic’, but Mr B was certainly happy. He’s a keen golfer and his trusty ‘old’ golf bag had long been the butt of much banter on the fairways. It was so ancient that, during a round one weekend, his clubs were dragging along the grass where the masking tape holding the bottom of said bag together (I kid you not!) had worked loose. A-ha! I thought at the time… I know what to get him for his next birthday. Trouble was, that birthday was six months away and, in the meantime, he was invited to attend a golf day at this really posh club with about twenty other guys. Now, Mr B hasn’t a snobby bone in his body, but I suspected that, deep down, he must be a tiny bit concerned about how dinosaur bag would be received come tee-off time, not to mention its survival chances over 18 holes. So, I went out and bought him a shiny, new one which I presented to him the day before the big event. A pre-birthday gift for one pleased-as-punch golfer!

Golfer 2

“FORE!!!!”

So, what we really want to know is what was your perfect, romantic moment? Or maybe, you’re planning one right now…You can tell us.

Celia x