Piatkus Entice News

The War Bride, Pamela Hart Excerpt

To celebrate Pamela Hart‘s gorgeously romantic novel The War Bride being shortlisted in the Epic Romantic Novel category for the 2017 RoNAs, we’ve got an excerpt from it for you! Enjoy!

Prologue
13 January 1920

There didn’t seem to be a band playing. And only a few people on the wharf at Dawes Point. A handful of Army types, a man in a suit waiting with a taxi, and the normal number of stevedores lounging around, grabbing a smoko while they waited for their cargo to arrive.

Frank was surprised. The last time a war-bride ship had docked – when his mate Smitty’s girl came out – there had been crowds, an Army brass band, streamers and shouting and crying – even a man with a placard saying, ‘Welcome to your new home, Mavis’. He’d thought about making one of those for Margaret, but now he was glad he hadn’t. He felt silly enough, clutching a bunch of roses in a sweaty hand.

He hoped he’d still recognise her. Two years and four months was a long time, and women did things with their hairstyles. Clothes were different. But surely Margaret’s tall, slender form would stand out the way it had at Reading train station, when they’d said goodbye. Surely he couldn’t mistake that lovely, soft smile of hers for anyone else?

It was hot already, and humid, as Sydney summers always were, but he was ruefully aware that the sweat running down his back wasn’t only from the heat.

Wound tighter than a watch spring, he was. Two years and four months and no giving in to temptation, no matter what. A married man, and he’d stuck to it, and God hadn’t it been hard! But today . . . the house he’d found for them was all ready, the bed made with brand-new sheets. A thorn pricked his thumb and he loosened his grip; not long now.

The SS Waimana loomed closer; still painted in its camouflage colours, even now, fourteen months after the war had ended. Frank blinked, confused. There weren’t any passengers lining the rails – no, wait, there were a couple on the top deck, holding up some kiddies to see. Where were the women? This was supposed to be a war-bride ship. It should have been packed to the gunnels.

The ship was tied up and the gangplank put across the gap. A trickle of passengers came down, but the only young woman who emerged was a redhead. She winked at him as she went past, her hand tucked into a corporal’s arm. That was all – the others were a family group and a couple of men in suits.

Where was Margaret? He checked the letter from the Repatriation Committee again, for the tenth time; yes, the Waimana, arriving January 1920, check shipping news for arrival date. Which he had. Surely she hadn’t got off at Fremantle or Melbourne? Maybe most of the women had been going to Melbourne, and that was why the ship was nearly empty. That would be it. But where was Margaret?

Who could he ask? An Army sergeant was checking off the corporal and his redhead from a list. With the enlisted man’s instinctive avoidance of authority, Frank went instead to a sailor who was securing the mooring ropes at the bow of the ship.

‘My wife was supposed to be on this ship,’ he began.

The sailor hawked and spat into the greasy Harbour water. ‘Soddin’ women.’

Frank ignored his comment.

‘Margaret Dalton?’ he asked.

The sailor looked at the sky and sucked his teeth, thinking. ‘Brown hair? Good looker? About so high?’ He measured against himself. Frank nodded.

‘Yerse, I remember her. There were only a couple without their blokes. She came on board, but she took herself off again. Women – always changing their bluidy minds.’

He’d felt cold like this when he’d been shot, at Passchendaele, in the streaming mud, trying to crawl under barbed wire. The shock had gone through him the same way, exactly.

‘Took herself off . . .’ he managed.

The sailor shrugged and made fast, then circled him to get back on board.

‘Life’s a shit, eh?’ he said as he climbed the gangplank.

Frank threw the roses into the gutter as he walked away. Walked and walked, hot in his good suit (his only suit) and his shiny shoes.

Part of him wasn’t surprised. He’d always known that Margaret was too good for him. Too beautiful, too kind, too loving. He wasn’t worth that kind of girl; a nameless orphan with nothing more than what his two hands could make. But she hadn’t seemed to realise that. Had seemed to think they were on a par, that she was making a good bargain. Had seemed to look forward to a life in Australia.

When she’d walked with him to the station to see him off to the front, she’d cried silently, surreptitiously rubbing the tears away from her face, not wanting to make him feel any worse. They’d only been married a month, then, and parting had been so hard. When they’d kissed goodbye, her soft mouth had been salty with tears.

She’d loved him then, he was certain.

Two years and four months was a long time. Long enough, it seemed, for her to change her mind, even if it was at the last moment.

He’d had letters; but not for a while, now he thought about it. A few months. Maybe that should have made him realise. Made him prepare himself, instead of being side-swiped like this.

She should have warned him. Told him she’d had doubts. He could have reassured her. Hell, he would have gone to England to fetch her if he’d had to.

Unless someone else had changed her mind for her.

The thought of Margaret with another man hit him low and hard, and left him gasping.

He needed a drink. There was a pub on the corner. Not one he’d been in before, but it was open. He went in and hesitated, then ordered a whisky. Beer wouldn’t chase away this shaking feeling inside him; wouldn’t put him solidly on his feet again.

One whisky didn’t, either. He had another, and another. A vague sense that he was spending too much money sent him out the door, jingling the coins in his pocket, along with the key to the house he’d prepared so carefully for Margaret.

It made him sick to think of living there alone. Made him walk faster, as if to outdistance the thought.

He stopped for breath and realised that he’d walked a long way; had taken a familiar path, to Stanmore, and Gladys.

Well, why not? Hell, he’d been faithful the whole time, and what did he have to show for it? Anger rose up in him, finally chasing away the cold, sick dread. If Margaret didn’t want him, there was one who did. Who always had. And there was no reason now that his daughter couldn’t have a proper father.

That thought was the first good one he’d had. It would be wonderful to see more of Violet.

He turned into Cavendish Street and walked up to number 64, Mrs Leydin’s boarding house, where Glad had a room for her and Violet. For a moment, before he knocked, he was afraid that she wouldn’t want him, either. That she’d throw him off because he hadn’t chosen her over Margaret, despite the fact that Margaret was his lawful wedded wife. He was frozen with that fear, for a moment; that he’d be back to being alone in the world, as he always had been until that miraculous day that Margaret had said she would marry him. Alone and forsaken. But he wasn’t alone. Violet would always be his.

His knock would have woken the dead.

It was still early; Glad was on second shift at the biscuit factory, and she hadn’t left for work yet. She answered the door and put her hand to her heart as she saw him; did he look that bad?

‘She didn’t come,’ he said.

Her pale little face flushed and she took his hand almost shyly. ‘I’m sorry,’ she said. That was Gladys. She was sorry, always, at anything that caused him pain. She really loved him. Tears came to his eyes but he didn’t want her to see, so he pulled her into his arms and hugged her. Violet came running out of their room and crowed with delight to see him.

‘Papa!’ she yelled. She barrelled into his legs and he swept her up with one arm, still holding Gladys tightly with the other. He kissed Vi’s cheek and she threw her little arms around his neck. There was nothing like that feeling.

Gladys leaned her head against his shoulder; her love and acceptance soothed the raw wound of Margaret’s rejection.

‘You and Vi should move in with me,’ he said. ‘We’ll be a proper family.’

‘Yes,’ Glad said. She smoothed his hair back and smiled at him. There was a hint of sadness at the back of her eyes, but he concentrated on the smile, mirroring it until the sadness disappeared. ‘A proper family.’

The War Bride is available to buy now! Get it here:

Ebook

Amazon

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WHSmith

And Pamela’s newest book, A Letter From Italy is published in ebook tomorrow!! Pre-order here!

Every Little Thing, Samantha Young Excerpt

To celebrate yesterday’s publication of Samantha Young‘s incredible Every Little Thing we have a special excerpt from the novel! Read on for Chapter 1: 

The early morning was dull, the waves a little rougher, a little more hurried than usual as they rushed the shore, and gulls flew above in a sky that matched the water perfectly in its melancholic gray.

Behind the floor‑to‑ceiling glass of his penthouse suite Vaughn stared out from his boardwalk hotel at the scene and thought how it wasn’t whole without his other senses in play. The boardwalk below, the beach, the ocean, it all seemed but a moving picture. The reality of it was in the caws of the gulls he couldn’t hear behind his expensive triple glazing. The reality of it was in the smells beyond the window— the salt air, the hot dogs, burgers, and the warm sweetness of cotton candy.

That’s what made his boardwalk feel like home.

Home.

Hmm.

He’d come to Hartwell to escape the ugliness he’d left behind in Manhattan. Hartwell was peaceful. Although it had thousands of tourists pouring in every summer, and there was always some kind of festival or celebration going on, there was a tranquility here that crowds of people couldn’t diminish.

Vaughn had needed that serenity. The plan was to soak up all that peace until the time came for him to go back to the center of his business operations in New York.

Somewhere along the way, Hartwell changed from a refuge to home.

Home is where the heart is.

His gaze wandered back outside to the stillness of the boardwalk, and to his utter frustration his heart jumped in his chest at a glimpse of bright auburn hair. He leaned forward to get a better look.

Sure enough.

It was her.

Bailey.

She strode down the boardwalk from the direction of her own establishment, Hart’s Inn, her long hair blowing in the wind. Vaughn pressed closer to the glass, trying to get a better look, but it was impossible from this height.

All he could make out were the jeans she wore tucked into brown ankle boots and the green sweater that was far too thin to be worn this early in the morning.

He frowned. The woman needed to buy a goddamn jacket.

She smiled and he caught sight of her neighbor Iris approaching her. For a moment he envied Iris that smile. It was hard to resist Bailey Hartwell’s smile. It had an effect on people.

On him.

Unfortunately.

Especially since he couldn’t recall a time when that smile had ever been directed at him.

Bailey followed Iris out of his line of sight.

He tried to follow them and smacked his head off the glass. “Fuck.” Vaughn rubbed at his forehead and turned away from the window.

His eyes were drawn to the huge bed across the room where a slender redhead whose name he couldn’t remember was lying sleeping.

One immediate problem was that he saw Bailey everywhere.

He even saw her in other women despite his best efforts to channel his attention elsewhere.

Ignoring the growing ache of longing in his chest, a half-dressed Vaughn took the white shirt that had been pressed and hung up for him off the hanger and shrugged it on. Then he chose a blue silk tie from his collection. His waistcoat and jacket followed suit. Dressed for the day, he strolled over to the bed and leaned down to nudge the redhead awake. She groaned and opened her eyes and instead of clear green eyes that made his blood burn, brown ones stared up at him.

“Time to leave.” He walked away without looking back.

Every Little Thing is out now! Get it here:

Amazon

Waterstones

WHSmith

Win Born of Night and Born of Fire by Sherrilyn Kenyon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To celebrate the release of Born of Vengeance in hardback and Born of Legend in paperback!
To celebrate, we will are giving away the first and second in the League series to ONE lucky reader. To enter fill in your details below and press enter. The giveaway is open to UK residents only and closes at 11:59pm on 19th February. Read the full terms and conditions here.

 

 




NOW CLOSED: Win A Promise of Fire!

A Promise of Fire

To celebrate the publication of the fantasy romance book everyone’s talking about, we’re offering you the chance to win 1 of 5 copies of A Promise of Fire in paperback!

To enter simply fill in your details below and hit enter.

This giveaway is open to UK residents only and closes at 11:59pm on 31st January 2017. Read full terms and conditions here.

A little more about the book . . .

Kingmaker. Soothsayer. Warrior. Mage. Kingdoms would rise and fall for her . . . if she is ever found

In the icy North, where magic is might, an all-powerful elite ruthlessly guided by a glacial Queen have grown to dominate the world. Now rebellion is stirring in the rough, magic-poor South, where for the first time in memory a warlord has succeeded in uniting the tribal nations.

Stuck in the middle is Cat – circus performer and soothsayer – safely hidden behind heavy make-up, bright colours and the harmless illusion of the circus. Until someone suspects she’s more than she seems . . .

Captured by the Southern warlord Griffin, Cat’s careful camouflage is wearing thin. For how long can – or should – she conceal the true extent of her power? Faced with dragons, homicidal mages, rival Gods and the traitorous longings of her own heart, she must decide: is it time to claim her destiny and fight?

 




NOW CLOSED: Win The Trouble With Dukes

The Trouble with Dukes

To celebrate the publication of The Trouble with Dukes, we’re offering you the chance to win one of five copies!

To enter, you simply have to fill out your details below. The giveaway is open to UK residents only and closes at 11:59pm on 24th December 2016. Read the full t&cs here.

Good luck and Merry Christmas!




Five Tips for a Lovely Regency Christmas

Holiday celebrations have changed significantly over the past 200 years, but our Regency ancestors knew how to have a fine time at Yuletide. The custom of putting up a Christmas tree (or hanging one from the ceiling) had yet to catch on. Rum had already been invented, however, and this more than compensated for the lack of Christmas trees. Santa Claus was Father Christmas, and he wore flattering full-length green robes rather than that silly red get-up. No flying livestock, either. No Grinch, not even a Tiny Tim.
However did they manage days of yore? (Other than the rum?) It took planning, diligence, and a big bowl of wassail, but manage they did, as follows:

1) They hung mistletoe EVERYWHERE. Mistletoe was suspended from the rafters, from bonnets, from hat brims, and from awnings. We know this because every historical romance author who ever wrote a Christmas story tells us so (including present company).

 

 

 

2) About that wassail. Recipes lovingly preserved through the ages inform us that wassail was concocted of hard cider, nutmeg, ginger, flirtation (some recipes call for a lot of this), mischief, cinnamon, and laughter. Once the wassail had been properly appreciated, the next joy to be experienced during the Regency holiday was…

 

 

 

3) Sleighriding. Thanks to an obliging volcano, some of the Regency winters were truly impressive. Much glee was to be derived hitching up Olde Thunderbolte to the sleigh and taking off across the arctic countryside at a brisk canter. Windchill factors hadn’t been invented yet (fortunately), but no matter. Enterprising Regency folk coped with the pleasure of a winter headwind by snuggling VERY closely under those lap robes. As a consequence, most children in the rural parishes of Regency England were born in September. (I am making that up, though three of my four brothers were born in September, and my mom’s birthday was December 30. Go fig.) If sleighriding paled, there was always the…

4) Frost Fair on the Thames! The Victorians dredged and narrowed the Thames river channel, an inspired gesture in the direction of flushing the figurative London potty. The downside (well) of their engineering genius is that the river, having a faster current, hasn’t frozen solid since the Regency. No more Frost Fairs for us, though we do have the food hall at Harrod’s. I still think ice skating from booth to booth would have been a cool way to Christmas shop. And finally…

5) Mustn’t forget the plum pudding. No plums, of course, but that sucker was probably 180 proof by the time Mama brought it flaming to the table. One serving of plum pudding and even after a day of sleighriding or shopping the frost fair, your toes would thaw instantly.

All of which is to say, that with enough love and laughter, no matter the century, the holidays are still the holidays—but I do think we could use a little more respect for the traditional use of mistletoe!

NOW CLOSED: Win MaryJanice Davidson signed books

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Last month we ran Welcome to my World, a week-long celebration of great paranormal romance and fantasy on the Piatkus Facebook and website and it was amazing! Because we don’t want the celebrations to end, we’re offering you the chance to win 6 signed books by MaryJanice Davidson.

To enter this giveaway simply fill in your details below and press enter. This giveaway is open to UK residents only and closes at midnight on 16th November 2016. Don’t forget to read the full terms and conditions here.

 




Exclusive, Early Excerpt from Darynda Jones’ Eleventh Grave in Moonlight

Eleventh Grave in Moonlight

It’s Day 10 of #WelcomeToMyWorld and we are no where even near to running out of treats! Because today we have an exclusive early excerpt from Darynda JonesEleventh Grave in Moonlight!

 

1

Lord, help me be the sort of person

 my psychiatrist medicates me to be.

—T-shirt

 

I lay on a psychiatrist’s couch, a couch I’d named Alexander Skarsgård the moment my gaze landed on its buttery curves and wide back, and wondered if I should tell Dr. Mayfield about the dead kid scurrying across her ceiling. Probably not.

She crossed her legs—the psychiatrist, not the kid who was male—and gave me her most practiced smile. “And that’s why you’re here?”

I bolted upright, appalled. “Heavens, no. I’m totally over the whole evil stepmother thing. I just thought, you know, full disclosure and all. FYI, I had an evil stepmother.”

“Had?”

“She died.”

“I’m sorry.”

“No worries. She had an ugly demon inside of her at the time.”

“I see.”

“Wait, no, that was her outfit. The demon wasn’t that ugly.”

“Ah.”

“No, seriously, her outfit was hideous.”

“Perhaps we should get back to the fact that you’re the grim reaper?” She pushed plastic-framed glasses up a slender nose. Thankfully, it was hers.

“Oh, right.” I relaxed again, falling back into Alexander’s arms. “I pretty much have the reaper thing down. It’s the godly part of me I’m struggling with.”

“The godly part.” She bent her head to write something in her notebook. She was quite lovely. Dark hair. Huge brown eyes. Wide mouth. And young. Too young to be analyzing me. How much life experience could she possibly have?

“Yes. Ever since I found out I was a god, I’ve felt a little off balance. I think I’m having one of those identity crisises.”

“So, you’re a god?”

“Wait. What’s the plural of crisis?” When she didn’t answer, I glanced back at her.

She’d stopped writing and was looking at me again, her expression mildly expectant. And ever so slightly taxed. She was trying to decide if I was playing her. I wasn’t, but I could hardly blame her for thinking that. Dealing with delusions of grandeur was probably an everyday aspect of her life. Trying to sort out the legit from the cons.

When she continued to stare, I said, “I’m sorry, what was the question?”

“You’re a god?”

“Oh, that. Yes, but to quote a very popular movie, I’m a god, not the God.” I snorted. Bill Murray was so awesome. “Did I forget to mention that?”

“Then you’re not the grim reaper?”

“Oh no, I’m that, too. I volunteered. Kind of. Long story. Anyway, I thought you could hypnotize me. You know, give me a full-access pass to my pre-birth memories so I won’t be blindsided again.”

“Blindsided?”

“Yes. That’s why I’m here. Because my sister refuses to do regressive therapy with me, and—”

“Your sister?”

“Dr. Gemma Davidson?” The shrink-wrap community couldn’t have been very big. Surely she knew my sister.

“Dr. Davidson is your sister?”

“Is that a problem?”

“Not for me.”

“Fantabulous.” I rubbed my hands together. “Okay, so, you know how you’re going through life, remembering everything that ever happened to you since the moment you were born—”

“You remember the moment you were born?”

“—and suddenly someone says, ‘Hey, remember that time we singed our eyebrows lighting that bowling alley on fire?’ only at first you don’t remember singeing your eyebrows while lighting a bowling alley on fire, but then you think about it and it suddenly comes to you? You totally remember singeing your eyebrows while lighting a bowling alley on fire?”

She blinked several times, then wrenched out a “Sure.”

“It’s like that. I remember being a god, but not totally. Like parts of my celestial life have been erased from my memory.”

“Your celestial life.”

“Right. Before I became human? I think I have a glitch.”

“It’s . . . possible, I suppose.”

“I mean, who knows? I might already have a way to defeat a malevolent god that’s loose on this plane and not even realize it.”

“A malevolent god?”

“The malevolentest.”

“And he’s loose on this plane?”

“Yes. And trust me when I say you do not want him here. He takes his death and destruction very seriously. And he has zero respect for human life.”

“Mmm.” She nodded and went back to taking notes.

“Zero,” I added for emphasis, making an O with my fingers. Then I waited. She had a lot to write down. When she kept at it long enough to outline a novel, I filled the silence with, “It’s funny. My husband thought it would be pointless to come here.”

She laid her pen across her notepad and gave me her full attention. “Tell me about him.”

“My husband?”

“Yes.” Her voice was very soothing. Like elevator music. Or summer rain. Or Darvocet. “How’s your relationship?”

“How much time do we have?” I snorted, cracking myself up.

My husband, a.k.a. Reyes Alexander Farrow, didn’t find my joke as funny as I did. It happened. I felt him before I saw him. His heat brushed across my skin. Sank into me. Saturated my clothes and hair and even warmed the cool gold band on my ring finger.

As he passed over me, all darkness and billowing smoke, he paused to whisper sweet nothings in my ear. I barely heard him over the rushing of my own blood. Whatever he said made my nether regions clench in anticipation. Then he continued on his journey, materializing on the other side of the room where he stood in a corner to watch from afar. Ish.

“Just kidding,” I said as his eyes glistened in the low light. “He’s kind of awesome. He’s from down under.”

“Australia?”

“Hell.”

His eyes narrowed, but any threats he may have been trying to hurl my way were nulled and voided by the smirk playing about his sensual mouth. He crossed his arms at his wide chest and leaned back into a corner to observe my goings-on.

He’d been doing that a lot lately. Popping in to check up on me. It could have had something to do with the fact that I had waged war with not one god but two. The malevolent one and the Good One. The Big Guy upstairs.

I decided to ignore my husband to the best of my abilities. I was here on a job. If I couldn’t stay focused despite being bombarded with the most delicious distraction this side of the Flame Nebula, I was no better than a gumshoe-for-hire PI.

Oh, wait. I was a gumshoe-for-hire PI. Which would explain the job I was currently on. It paid the bills. Sometimes.

Eleventh Grave in Moonlight will be out January 24th, and you can pre-order you copy now:

Amazon

Waterstones

Kindle

Kobo

iBooks

Google Play

If you’re new to Darynda’s Charley Davidson series, you can get the first book in the series, First Grave on the Right, for just £1.99 in the UK at the moment.

Linda Jones & Linda Howard – A day in the life of a writing team

Frost Line

Ever wonder how two people work together to create one seamless, fabulous novel? We have, and now Linda Jones and Linda Howard, the authors behind Frost Line, have answered in their #WelcomeToMyWorld piece.

 

5am – We’re both up, drinking coffee with iPads or computers in our laps. We touch base with our exciting plans for the day (laundry, grocery shopping, walking dogs or plans with grandkids, and oh yes, writing. Where are we in the book today?)

 

9am – By this point, something has been written by at least one of us. We’re both morning people and the writing is more critical than the humdrum, so laundry and grocery shopping will have to wait. Dogs and grandkids do not wait, but we do the best we can. Linda Howard writes a scene and sends it to Linda Jones. Linda Jones realises she has just written a scene that might be either nearly identical or contradictory. Wait! In some email last week, didn’t we decide we’d do something entirely different? We begin sorting through our folder of emails, looking for the one that addressed this. Oh, yeah. Delete, delete, start over. No, maybe that isn’t right. We need to think about this.

 

10am – This isn’t working. We get in our cars and head for the Cracker Barrel restaurant that is conveniently situated midway between us, about an hour from each of our houses. Trying to hammer down details over email or the phone is just not the same as discussing face to face. We draw a map and realise that we’ve been looking at the scene in a mirror image. No wonder one of us went left while the other went right! Other customers give us strange looks, and the wait staff avoids us. Yes, we are definitely discussing murder, but it’s of a character, not a real person.

 

Noon – We have avoided arrest, and head home. Linda Jones has decided the laundry can wait, and she’s sent her husband to the grocery store. An hour drive gives us both time to ponder, which is always a good thing. When we get home, we head straight to the computer to share whatever good ideas came to us in the car, via email. Linda Howard deals with a dog or husband situation, sometimes both, and becomes snarly at the interruptions.

 

2pm – A final scene, or perhaps even a chapter, is done. The laundry is still not done, and Linda Jones’s husband came home from the grocery store with far too many chips and cookies, but we can sigh with relief and walk away from the computer, for a while. Then Linda Howard realises she has a stretch of time when both husband and dogs are possibly napping, and she heads back to the computer where she first reads through the folder of emails to make certain she’s got the details straight, consults the notebook of notes she made while they were at the Cracker Barrel, and tries to get a head start on the next chapter, and the next day.

Linda Howard & Linda Jones have been writing together for years, and they have now launched an all new series centred on characters of the Tarot cards as they enter our world.

Frost Line is now out:

Amazon

Waterstones

Kindle

Kobo

iBooks

Google Play