Fall in love with London – with Nikki Moore

As a Londoner I get particular excited when I see books set on my own turf, and Nikki Moore’s #LoveLondon series is right up my street. Today is the release day for Picnics in Hyde Park, the last in the series, and I’m helping her celebrate.

Picnics in Hyde Park - cover

A summer to remember… or forget?

When Zoe Harper returns to the UK after five long years in New York, the last thing she expects is to find her younger sister Melody jobless, homeless, broke and dumped. Unfortunately, life has a way of delivering the unexpected. She should know that, given her ex-fiancé Greg’s faithless behaviour.

Filled with rage and determined to get revenge on the infamous Reilly brothers for her sister’s heartbreak, as well as get some answers, Zoe hatches plan Nannygate. Unfortunately that means moving in with the gorgeous but uncaring music producer Matt Reilly to be nanny to his two adorable, complicated children. But something isn’t adding up, and over the course of the hot London summer, she starts to think that perhaps Matt isn’t so bad after all.

Let down by his last nanny and weighed down with guilt about his wife’s death three years before, wealthy but camera-shy Matt has spent a long time pushing people away, including his own kids. His stunning new nanny challenges him every single day in completely different ways, but maybe that isn’t such a bad thing.

But what happens when you open your heart, and someone isn’t who you thought they were? And can it really be true love when it’s on the rebound, and starts off with a plan for revenge?

Available as an ebook from:
Amazon UK

A bit about Nikki
A Dorset girl and social media addict, Nikki Moore has a HR day job, two kids and a lovely Nikki Moore new author photoboyfriend to keep her busy alongside the writing. She was in the Romantic Novelists Association New Writers Scheme for four years and is now a full RNA member. Nikki was a finalist in several writing competitions from 2010 including the Elizabeth Goudge trophy and Novelicious Undiscovered, before being offered a publishing contract, and her debut novel Crazy, Undercover, Love was shortlisted for the RNA Joan Hessayon Award 2015 (for new writing). She is a strong supporter of aspiring authors.

Good luck, Nikki!

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Midsummer Dreams

Midsummer Dream - Alison MayIn celebration of the e-launch day for Alison May’s brand new romantic comedy, Midsummer Dreams, I’m posting today on the theme of all things dream-related. Be sure to check Alison’s blog today where there’ll be links to other people’s dreams and nightmares.

I had a dream… that romance is not dead (still have that dream regularly!). Recently someone hung a banner at the car park of my local Lidl supermarket with the words “Stace, will you marry me? x”. After the initial “Awww” moment I noticed it had been beautifully, even professionally produced, the letters cut out from flower-patterned paper and then laminated so as to withstand the elements. There was only one kiss (x) after the question, which perhaps seemed a little, uhm, sparse for a proposal, but it reminded me that all relationships need work. This is where the true romance lies; you work at it because you treasure it.

I had a nightmare… that someone broke down the door to my house, entered with a Fahrenheit 451flame-thrower, and began burning all my books. I’m aware this sound very much like that modern classic novel Fahrenheit 451, and this is because the premise of that book is my worst nightmare ever. Imagine a world without books, without stories to share, to make you think, laugh, or even cry. No books to enrich our lives, to teach us about humanity – across all genres – to hold, stroke, and smell, to treasure and keep so you can look at them again and again and say, “I remember you”. It would be a miserable society indeed.

My dream for the future… would be a world where people live in peace and harmony, regardless of race, religion, or politics. Where no one would be punished for having a different opinion or for believing in a different God etc. Where we celebrate our differences and share our common history and goals: our happiness and survival and that of our loved ones. Idealistic perhaps, but can it really be so difficult? After all, charity begins at home, as they say…

You can download the kindle edition of Midsummer Dreams here: http://bookgoodies.com/a/B00XJOEJTM

About Midsummer Dreams

Four people. Four messy lives. One party that changes everything …
Emily is obsessed with ending her father’s new relationship – but is blind to the fact that her own is far from perfect.
Dominic has spent so long making other people happy that he’s hardly noticed he’s not happy himself.
Helen has loved the same man, unrequitedly, for ten years. Now she may have to face up to the fact that he will never be hers.
Alex has always played the field. But when he finally meets a girl he wants to commit to, she is just out of his reach.
At a midsummer wedding party, the bonds that tie the four friends together begin to unravel and show them that, sometimes, the sensible choice is not always the right one.


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My Top 4 Reads of 2014

Okay, so it’s a little late since we’re now at the beginning of May 2015, but as they say, better late than never 😉 Anyway here they are:

Burial Rites Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
Iceland, 1829. This is the story of Agnes Magnusdottir, found guilty of murder and condemned to death by decapitation. While the authorities await the arrival of a quality axe from Denmark, Agnes is forced to spend the winter with the family of a low-ranking official, who have no choice but to take her in.

From the outset it was clear that there was only going to be one outcome for the main character, and I’m aware that this unhappy end is not everyone’s cup of tea – you don’t have to be a hopeless romantic to want some sort of happy or at least upbeat ending with justice being served etc. However, Burial Rites isn’t about justice, it’s about sacrifice. Agnes is a Christ-like figure, and this beautifully written and well-researched story deals with how she touches people’s lives in the short time she has left.

A page-turning, slow build towards an inevitable and powerful ending which had me in tears, this book will stay with me for a long time.

The Moment by Douglas Kennedy
A heart-wrenching love story set in Berlin in the 80s towards the end of the Cold War, and The Momentat a time when many countries in the former Eastern Block were beginning to relax their borders, with Honecker-controlled East Germany being the last bastion of Stalinism.

Petra Dussmann escapes to West Berlin from the East, where she meets and falls in love with American writer Thomas Nesbitt. However, the reach of the STASIs (the East German State Security) is long and threatens their fragile relationship in a convoluted story of betrayal, retribution, and forgiveness. The book debunks the myth of a totally repressed East German population and paints a picture of a vibrant, colourful society – and, to a degree, free-thinking – behind the cold concrete monuments.

The novel was particularly poignant for me because I lived in West Berlin briefly, in the mid-1980s, shortly before the Wall came down. I’ve walked the streets the author refers to and been through the border control at Checkpoint Charlie just like the author describes it. It brought back memories of an exciting time for me.

The Martian by Andy Weir
The MartianLast autumn I faced a long wait in A&E because of a minor injury. Not having brought anything to read, I grabbed what looked interesting from the hospital newsagents, with no expectations whatsoever. The Martian gripped me from the start, so much so I almost missed the nurse calling me…

Mark Watney is stranded on Mars, abandoned by his colleagues who think he’s dead. Thus begins one man’s struggle for survival in an incredibly hostile environment, much like Robinson Crusoe in space. Occasionally the story was more fiction than science, but I don’t think it’ll be many years before science catches up with author imagination. There’s already talk of a manned mission to Mars which with our currently technology sadly means certain death for those brave/fool-hardy individuals.

The book celebrates how the human spirit will rally in the face of disaster, and Mark’s battle with the elements makes for a fantastic story of ingenuity, logic, and an ability to overcome gut-wrenching fear. And he has a great sense of humour!

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
This is a very unusual romantic comedy, mainly because it’s told entirely from Don The Rosie ProjectTillman’s perspective and his rather unique take on the world. Don is classed as having Asperger’s, but as a character he’s refreshing, and it’s hard not to warm to him despite his oddities. There was a lot of Sheldon Cooper in him (from the Big Bang Theory)!

On the downside, there were times when the book stretched the credulity a bit, and Don’s personality seemed a little too “superhuman”. The story only scratches the surface of Asperger’s Syndrome, neither showing the complete aspects nor the depths of someone with this condition, and it does nothing to dispel any myths either.

However, I didn’t pick up the book hoping to be educated – I knew from the start that I wouldn’t be – but simply because it was a different take on the romantic comedy. I found it touching, occasionally painfully so, and very funny too. Cheered me up no end.


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The conference of the Historical Novel Society

During the weekend of the 5th to the 7th of September I took part in the annual conference of the Historical Novel Society which was held at the University of Westminster’s Marylebone campus near Baker Street in London.

Charlotte Betts and Alison Morton

Writer friends Charlotte Betts and Alison Morton

Here are a few of my personal highlights:

The conference kicked off on Friday evening with a wine and canapés reception. Richard

Lee welcomed the delegates, many of whom had travelled from across the Pond. The evening was an ideal opportunity to catch up with friends and colleagues before the main part of the conference.

Saturday morning Richard Lee welcomed us to the main part of the conference while delegates helped themselves to a buffet breakfast. This was followed by a panel entitled “Selling Historical Fiction: The Challenges and Triumphs” with Matt Bates (buyer for WHS Travel), Carole Blake (agent, chair), Katie Bond (Bloomsbury), Nick Sayers (Hodder / Stoughton), Simon Taylor (Random House) and Susan Watt (Quercus). After a brief introduction the panellist took questions from the audience, and one question posed was, “Is there a historical period you’d like to see more of?”. The general consensus seemed that the Tudors are still popular. That rules me out, then 🙂

The panel was followed by a keynote address from Conn Iggulden. More on that later.

HNS 2014 - panel, era

From left to right: Antonia Hodgson, Susannah Dunn, Philip Stevens (chair), Giles Kristian, Harry Sidebottom and Angus Donald

After lunch 5 authors and their chair battled it out on the podium with an amusing panel entitled “My Era Is Better Than Yours” during which they discussed what had attracted them to a particular historical period.

For Antonia Hodgson (Georgian) it was gin and radical thought, for Susannah Dunn (Tudor) it was an era of strong women, with the many marriages and beheadings like a soap opera. Harry Sidebottom (Ancient Rome) felt that the

Tea and cake!

Tea and cake!

plot of a Greek novel was like the plot of many modern novels, for Angus Donald (Medieval) it was the creation of courtly love, and hence the love story, which attracted him. Giles Kristian (Viking & Civil War) said that the lack of written records from the Viking era gives the writer a lot of freedom. And he has a very big axe!

Lindsey Davis signing a copy of her book for Margaret George, author of Tudor novels

Lindsey Davis signing a copy of her book for Margaret George, author of Tudor novels


After tea Lindsey Davis, author of the popular Falco mysteries set in Ancient Rome was in conversation with Dr Jerome de Groot, senior lecturer at Manchester University, on contemporary popular history and the historical novel. As expected, she gave him a run for his money!

A perfect day of learning, laughter and book-buying, and as always, it was a superbly organised by Charlie Farrow, Richard Lee (chairman of the HNS) and Jenny Barden.

HNS 2014 - Charlie et al

From left to right: Charlie Farrow, Richard Lee and Jenny Barden

My "loot"

My “loot”







An excerpt from Conn Iggulden’s inspiring keynote address (mentioned above) can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h3hWzeERuas


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Conference time!

The weekend of the 11th to the 13th July 2014 I attended the annual conference of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, something I try to do every year if I can take the time. This year the conference was held at Harper Adams University in Shropshire which is an agricultural college established in 1901.

Harper Adams uni - main building

Harper Adams uni – main building

The weather was warm and balmy, and the rural surroundings gorgeous although distinctly, uhm, rural – a fact which was evident every time we left a perfectly air-conditioned lecture theatre only to be met by the smell of pig shit (yep, I like to call a spade a spade and all that!). No complaints from me on that score, though, as the fragrant country air reminded me of where I grew up in Denmark.

I really enjoyed the lectures I attended , in particularly the ones given by Alison May (Classic Adaptations in Romantic Fiction), Jean Fullerton (Don’t Lose the Plot) and Pamela Hartshorne/Jessica Hart (pictured) about writing in two different subgenres.

Pamela Hartshorne (aka Jessica Hart)

Pamela Hartshorne (aka Jessica Hart)

In contrast, the panel discussing the future of romantic fiction, and fiction in general, was slightly depressing, if truth be told. Despite the meteoritic rise of self-publishing and the opportunities this presents to new and established authors alike, average authors earnings are going down, and making a living as a mid-list author is becoming increasing difficult.

Even so, deals are occasionally struck at the conference, and I’m delighted to announce that two writer friends, Gill Stewart and Jenny Harper, both blogging here at Novel Points of View, have now signed book deals with Accent Press.

But what I enjoy most about every conference I’ve attended is the social side of things. It’s a perfect opportunity to catch up with friends and colleagues from far-flung corners of the country, and even meet the real person behind a Facebook or Twitter profile. Among others, it was great to see Rosemary Gemmell and Joan Fleming from the Scottish Chapter again, plus so many other people I won’t have room to mention them here!

Kitchen party al fresco - from left to right: me, Janet Gover, and Jane Lovering

Kitchen party al fresco – from left to right: me, Janet Gover, and Jane Lovering

And then there are the kitchen parties… Here’s a picture of a kitchen party on Friday evening which quickly became a picnic on the lawn and eventually attracted a large crowd! Could have done without the mosquitoes it attracted, though…

Harper Adams - ceremony 2

Janice Preston and Sue Moorcroft

Harper Adams - ceremony 1

Left to right: Sue Moorcroft, Janie Millman, Katie Fforde, Jan Jones and Pia Fenton (aka Christina Courtenay)

Saturday evening was the Gala Dinner and also the presentation of prizes, namely the Elizabeth Goudge Trophy which was won by Janice Preston, and the Katie Fforde Bursary, this year awarded to Janie Millman.

At dinner I had the privilege of sitting next to Richard Lee, founder of the fabulous Historical Novel Society. It was great to “talk shop” relating to historical fiction in particular, and I’m planning to attend this year’s HNS Conference which will be held on the 5th to the 7th of September at Westminster University’s Marylebone campus in London. I’m really looking forward to it.

Last but not least, the funniest thing happened: at the Gala Dinner I found myself wearing the same dress as author Teresa Morgan. What does one do in such a situation? Run off in tears or stay as far away from each other as possible?

Of course not! We had a laugh and celebrated that we have the same excellent taste. After all, we’re both romantic novelists.

Teresa Morgan and myself - we have the same great taste!

Teresa Morgan and myself – we have the same great taste!

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Meet my main character

I’m very pleased to have been invited by Christina Courtenay to take part in a continuing series of blog posts called “Meet My Main Character”. It was started by Debra Brown, who is the Administrator of English Historical Fiction Authors, a great website for anyone interested in obscure bits of British history. Please click here for Debra’s original post.

Christina’s latest book is The Secret Kiss of Darkness, and her website is at http://christinacourtenay.com – please go and have a look at her post about the main character of this novel which is a cracking time-slip story!

My own main character:

1. What is the name of your character? Is he/she fictional or historical? My main character is called Cora Mardell, and she’s entirely fictional, although I will admit that when I wrote it, I was strongly inspired by the actress Kate Beckinsale playing a kick-ass vampire slayer in the film Van Helsing!

Hounslow Heath today (picture courtesy of Wikipedia)

Hounslow Heath today (picture courtesy of Wikipedia)

2. When and where is the story set? The story is set in 1768 around the area of Hounslow Heath as it was at the height of the highwayman era. Or rather as I imagine it must have been because there is very little left of the Heath today, with a lot of it buried underneath one of the runways to Heathrow Airport (hence the name “Heathrow”). There are also scenes from the town of Hounslow itself, which was the first coaching stop out of London on the road to fashionable Bath.

3. What should we know about her? Cora is the daughter of the labourer Ned, and they live in a small cottage in the forest outside Hounslow, alone, because Cora’s mother Sarah died years previously giving birth to a baby boy who also died. They’re extremely poor, and live a hand-to-mouth existence but do have the advantage that in the summer they can to a large degree live from what the forest provides

4. What is the main conflict? What messes up her life? Lately Ned has become ill, with consumption, and they cannot afford the expensive tincture which will alleviate his symptoms, although not cure him. So Cora takes matters in her own hands and turns to highway robbery.

5. What is the personal goal of the character? Cora is single-mindedly focused on keeping her father comfortable and with her for as long as possible, but when she holds up the private carriage belonging to Jack Blythe, the heir to the Earl of Lampton, she acquires another purpose: to escape capture. Not just from the magistrate’s men, whom she has skilfully outwitted at every turn so far, but to safeguard her heart…

6. What is the title? Can we read more about it? The Highwayman’s Daughter. You can read more about it here.

7. When will the book be published? The book was published in May 2014 so is available now as a paperback and ebook (all formats).

Thank you for visiting! The next Main Character blog post will be on Isabella Connor’s website (the writing partnership between Liv Thomas and Val Olteanu) on Tuesday 15th July when they will be talking about their forthcoming second novel An Irish Promise.




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How does your garden grow?

The banana tree and the hebe are jostling for space

The banana tree and the hebe are jostling for space

In my case, a little wildly. I’m a great believer in low maintenance gardening. I like planting things and watching them grow, but when it comes to keeping it all under control, I’m quite happy for it to take over. The more green stuff there is, growing densely, the more relaxed I feel.

Some straggly mint in a pot - perfect for Pimms

Some straggly mint in a pot – perfect for Pimms






Of course, I do some maintenance, like planting spring bulbs, cutting back bushes and shrubs in the autumn, raking up leaves, and refreshing the contents of my pots, but that’s about it. And let’s not mention

I love this acer tree with a ginko in the background

I love this acer tree with a ginko in the background

the lawn…

Nature plays a big role in my books. In Up Close, which is set on the North Norfolk coast in the dead of winter, the bleak and bare landscape reflects the state of mind of the main character Lia, who returns to her grandmother’s house to deal with the estate of the old lady’s death.

Cora in The Highwayman's Daughter would have picked berries

Cora in The Highwayman’s Daughter would have picked berries

Contrastingly, the forested area around Hounslow Heath where The Highwayman’s Daughter is set, offers protection for the heroine Cora’s illegal activities and is also a source of food. Here she collects herbs, berries and wild garlic, and her father Ned will sometimes catch a rabbit in a snare for the cooking pot. The novel takes place in summer, but obviously finding food in winter would have been a real challenge for the characters.

A fiery red montbresia with a formal(ish) arbour in the background

A fiery red montbresia with a formal(ish) arbour in the background



In Blueprint for Love the main character Hazel moves from a flat in London to take up a job for an architectural firm based out of an old Jacobean manor house in the country. Here the gardens and the park around it are laid out to a formal design and represent the structure that Hazel longs for in her own life.

Here are some pictures from my garden, an untidy space which never fails to inspire me and feed my imagination – whatever the weather.

The clusters of flowers on the budleia are getting heavy

The clusters of flowers on the budleia are getting heavy


Some wildlife...

Some wildlife…




Hmm... a ruddy pigeon has pooped on my garden chair (again)

Hmm… a ruddy pigeon has pooped on my garden chair (again)

Daisies are really easy to grow, and they come back every year (low maintenance!)

Daisies are really easy to grow, and they come back every year (low maintenance!)

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The Old House in Hereford

Recently I visited the Old House in the town of Hereford after fellow writer Christina Courtenay recommended that I take a look. The Old House

17thC dresser

A dresser in the dining room on the ground floor of the house, presumably made of oak. Note the practical stone-flagged floor.

17thC dining

A long narrow dining table, large enough to seat a big family, and in the background stairs leading up to the drawing room on the first floor.

17thC baby walker

The item which surprised the most was this baby walker on the top floor. Isn’t it cute? Although I did worry about its proximity to the stairs but maybe they only used it on the ground floor…

Built in 1621 as part of Butchers’ Row, the Old House is a very well-preserved  half-timbered Jacobean building. The other houses in the original row have long since been demolished, and this building is now the only one left. It’s been a museum since 1929, and it houses some items which really surprised me. Here are some photos from the interior.


This gorgeous canopied bed made me want to catch up on some sleep!

This gorgeous canopied bed made me want to catch up on some sleep!

17thC dress

No visit is complete without a bit of dressing up.

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Blog Hop – take 2

Sadly, due to other commitments, Karen Aldous, who was scheduled to blog today following my Blog Hop post last week, is unable to do so, and author A. L. Michael is taking over instead. Here’s her bio and link:

A. L. MICHAEL is a twenty something writer from North London. She has a BA in Literature with Creative Writing, an MA in Creative Entrepreneurship (both from UEA) and is studying for an MsC in Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes. She is not at all dependent on her student discount card. Her first novel was published by Stairwell Books in 2013, a coming of age story called Wine Dark, Sea Blue. Her most recent novel was published by Carina UK in May 2014, and is called The Last Word, a ‘snarky romantic comedy’. She has a penchant for expensive wine and cheap chocolate, and is still trying to figure out how to be a secret detective when she grows up. For now she settles for telling lies on the page.


Do drop by if you have time!


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Hoppety-hop! My Writing Progress blog tour

Many thanks to Adrian Magson for inviting me to take part in this ‘blog hop’. Adrian is the author of 16 spy and crime thrillers, including the Riley Gavin and Harry Tate series, as well as the Lucas Rocco series, of which the first book Death on the Marais is a chillingly atmospheric and stunning read. You can find his post from last week here.

All the participants in this blog hop will do a Q&A (see below) and then pass the baton to others. I’ve asked Berni Stevens, Karen Aldous and Claire Gem to take part, and their blog posts will appear on 3rd June so please don’t forget to check them out! You’ll find their links and a short biography at the end of this post. Thank you for stopping by!

The type of mask worn by some highwaymen

A type of mask worn by some highwaymen

Oh, and by the way, I’ve just had a new book out, “The Highwayman’s Daughter”, which is my first swashbuckling historical! You can read more about it here.

Q & A:-
1) What am I working on? – At the moment I’m working on my 3rd romantic suspense novel. This one, like my 2nd novel “The Elephant Girl”, is also set in London, and this time the action takes place in and around a casino in the less salubrious part of Soho. The story features a young trainee croupier, an enigmatic barman, and a casino owner running from his past. It’s a modern and (very loose) re-telling of the fairy tale “The Little Mermaid”, with plenty of secrets, lies and skeletons in the closet.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre? – I’m aware that this must sound rather self-aggrandising, but I think what sets my work apart from many other books in the same subgenre is that I focus my stories and plots around complex family issues and the kind of betrayals that ordinary people suffer in their everyday lives. However, it’s not all doom and gloom – because I write romantic fiction, I give my characters plenty of opportunity to redeem themselves and find that happy ending which is so often denied people in real life.

3) Why do I write what I do? – Absolutely no idea! The stories just come to me, but I’m very inspired by fairy tales and classics such as the brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen, Shakespeare and Charles Dickens, and I think that these classic story lines work their way into my writing through my subconscious mind.

4) How does your writing process work? – I’m very organised and write detailed outlines which I tend to follow quite closely. I have to because my stories all contain a number of red herrings and false clues, and it’s important that I know what’s going on, otherwise it’s easy for the plot to run away from me.

Next week’s bloggers:

Berni Stevens trained in graphic design, and has worked in most of the biggest London publishing houses, designing book covers and point-of-sale, for more than twenty years. Books and art remain her passion, and her love of the paranormal began when she read Bram Stoker’s Dracula. She is on both the committee and the book panel of the London-based Dracula Society; a society for fans of gothic literature and film.

Berni has had several short stories published, and her first full-length novel was published in the US in 2011. Dance Until Dawn is the first book in her paranormal romance trilogy, and was published by Choc Lit UK in April, 2014. You can find Berni here: http://bernistevens.blogspot.co.uk/ and here http://bernistevensdesign.com/

Karen Aldous, a recent graduate of the fabulous Romantic Novelist Association’s New Writers Scheme lives in a village on the edge of the beautiful north-downs in Kent. She set part of her new novel there as well as the beautiful Provence and, one of her favourite French Riviera towns, the glamorous and cosmopolitan Cannes. Busy with her grandchildren, her website business and her first launch, Karen has just published The Vineyard with CarinaUK (Harlequin/HarperCollinsUK) and is currently writing her next. Find Karen here: http://www.karenaldous.co.uk/blog/

Claire Gem writes contemporary romance and women’s fiction. She’s an avid fan of spunky heroines, and vivid settings that transport you to another place and time. She loves characters you get to know so well, you mourn them when you read The End.

Claire’s contemporary w/paranormal elements, Phantom Traces, is coming soon from Soul Mate Publishing. You can find her on Facebook at Claire Gem, on Twitter @gemwriter, and at http://www.clairegem.com.



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