Meeting Readers

Rare lightsChristina here. Authors are mostly solitary creatures, holed up in our lair with just our characters for company, and snarling at anyone who interrupts us when we’re in the writing zone. But sometimes we need to get out and see people, and one of the very best things is meeting readers. Having someone buy your books or tell you that they enjoyed one of your stories is lovely, and although getting messages like that on social media is always appreciated, meeting readers face to face is even better. So when I got the opportunity to join a big book signing event at London’s ExCel exhibition centre recently, I jumped at the chance. It was something I simply couldn’t miss!

Rare bannerRARE (Romance Author & Reader Events) book signing events are organised by two indomitable ladies, and they move around to venues in various different countries around the world. It’s been held at places like Melbourne, Paris, Berlin and Edinburgh, and there are lots more to come. The aim is to bring together as many authors and readers as possible for one-day book signings, but it has also created a romance reading community. There’s a dedicated FaceBook group and RARE can also be found on Instagram. Some of the readers travel huge distances in order to attend, and they are very enthusiastic and loyal. It sounded fantastic, and I couldn’t wait to take part.

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An Interview with Sue Moorcroft

Christina here and today I'm delighted to have Sue Moorcroft as my guest.

Welcome back to the Word Wenches, Sue, it’s such a pleasure to have you here again!

Thank you very much for inviting me. I always enjoy the Word Wenches’ wonderful blog.

You have a new book out tomorrow, An Italian Island Summer, which I absolutely loved! Tell us a little bit about it, please.

OrtigiaThank you! It’s set in Sicily, mainly on Ortigia, the old city of Siracusa, joined to the main city by two bridges. It’s a gorgeous place, with ruins such as Apollo’s Temple alongside the daily market. Ursula needs a fresh start, and via the mischievous meddling of her bonkers uncle Gerry, secures a morning job in a family-owned hotel to leave her afternoons free to study ceramic art. It’s quite a change from being a tattoo artist in Brighton, but after a drug assault in a nightclub that left her with trust issues, she’s keen to leave behind that life – and her ex-husband Stephan. She settles in at Residenza dei Tringali with Agata, Nanda and baby Marilù, until the son of the household, Alfio, returns home to help his family – only to find Ursula filling the role he’d seen for himself and even ensconced in the room he’d assumed he’d occupy.

Distrust soon turns to desire, but just when their affair is at its height … secrets of the past burst out to threaten their future.

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What We Read in May

Anne here, and it's that time again, where we share the books we've read and enjoyed in the last month. Brace your credit cards . . . 

We start with Christina: SummerFrenchCafe
My favourite read this month was Sue Moorcroft’s latest novel Summer at the French Café.  This story is an absolute delight and exactly what I needed right now to sweep me away from real life! It’s a wonderful tale of learning to trust, the importance of being open and honest with everyone, and the healing power of love. The reader can’t help but empathise with the hard-working heroine Kat from the start. She’s independent and capable, but with a positive outlook on life, and she never complains even when things go decidedly pear-shaped. A child of divorced parents, she has lots of emotional baggage, but for the most part, she manages to ignore it. Then the hero Noah arrives on the scene and he seems almost too good to be true. He has his own problems to contend with, but instead of charging in like a bull in a china shop, he stops to consider the best way of solving them. I fell head over heels in love with him – how can you not love a man as determined as he is to do the right thing for his very sensitive 8-year old daughter, while at the same time being the perfect boyfriend? Kat has to decide whether she dares to take a chance and believe that he is every bit as great as he seems, and I was rooting for this couple all the way. This is definitely the perfect summer story!  (If the links above don't work for you, try this one.)

UnderOneRoof

I also very much enjoyed Under One Roof, a novella by Ali Hazelwood which she calls “STEMist”. The heroine Mara is an environmental engineer and extremely brilliant at what she does, but she’s fighting against sexism and prejudice in her workplace. She’s just been left a half share in a house by her former mentor, but she hadn’t reckoned with having to share it with the woman’s nephew Liam. At first glance he is everything she hates – a corporate lawyer working for a company that has no regard for the environment whatsoever. They try to co-exist as house owners, but drive each other nuts. But everything is not as it seems, and slowly but surely they begin to find common ground. I absolutely loved the chemistry between these two and watching the romance develop. This is only the first novella in a series of three and I can’t wait for the other two!

Pat Rice tells us about: SEVEN DAYS OF US by Francesca Hornak.

7daysofUsThe basic story here is that Olivia Birch has been treating some kind of plague in Africa and when she comes home for Christmas, she has to quarantine for a week. So her family quarantines with her in their stately old, crumbling manor in Norfolk. Olivia is the no-nonsense doctor out to save the world. Andrew, her father, was a journalist who once thought he could save the world. Now he’s a food critic. Emma, his wife, gave up her dreams to be a mother and has buried herself in tradition. Phoebe is the younger sister with no purpose other than getting married. Into this suffocating atmosphere drops Jesse, an American son fathered by Andrew while he was in a war zone. He had been given up for adoption and is now searching for his birth parents. Nuclear explosion ensues.

Make no mistake about it, this is a deliberately literary novel, so you won’t get your fun and games happy ending, but the writing is positively compelling. The reader is dragged into their mixed-up lives and really needs to know how all these good, but confused, people fix themselves or each other. We root them on as they grope about in their darkness. I can promise that they find a new kind of light at the end of their week of togetherness, so it’s well worth diving into for your escapism addiction.

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Meet Sue Moorcroft

201320-FCX (3)Christina here and today it is my very great pleasure to have my friend and fellow UK author Sue Moorcroft as my guest – welcome to the Word Wenches, Sue!

Thank you, Christina. It’s a pleasure to be here.

Sue writes contemporary romance and her latest book, Under the Italian Sun, is out on Thursday this week. I had the great honour of reading an ARC and I can safely say it’s absolutely fabulous and the perfect spring/summer read! Please tell us a little bit about this story.

Thank you so much for your kind comments! I’m delighted you enjoyed Under the Italian Sun.

Screenshot 2021-04-21 at 12.33.38Zia’s search for her unknown father and the truth behind why she apparently has two mothers carries readers off to a rocky plateau above an Italian vineyard. Zia’s relationship has ended and her best friend Ursula’s on a break so it seems a good moment to leave England behind and try to discover why Zia’s family has apparently been keeping secrets about her past. She finds a woman who shares her name and Piero, who’s fighting to keep his home.

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What We Are Reading

Christina here with this month’s round-up of Wenchly book recommendations! The recent beautiful spring weather, and the fact that lockdown has been easing in many places, has meant that the Wenches have been able to go out and about a bit more, but we have still been doing quite a lot of reading. Below we have another eclectic selection for you – from fantasy to romcom to Shakespeare (well, sort of) and more – and we hope that you will join in as always with your own recommendations!

CharlaineHarrisAnne:  Two very different books have hit the spot for me this month. The first is An Easy Death by Charlaine Harris, the first in her "Gunny Rose" series. Set in an alternative "America" where a combination of the 'flu plague of the early 20th century, the assassination of the US president, the escape from Imperial Russia by the Tsar and all his court, fleeing The Red Army, and general "wild west" style lawlessness in some parts of the country have resulted in the break up of the former USA and the formation of "new" countries or territories.

Lizbeth Rose is a 19 year old "gunny" – a brilliant sharp-shooter whose job it is to guard people and shipments from outlaws, would-be-slavers and thieves, and there are plenty of them. Add in a paranormal thread, where some of the Russian refugees (now running a territory called the Holy Russian Empire – California to the Canadian border) can perform magic, and you have a cracking good yarn.

There's quite a lot of shooting and killing, but isn't the kind of graphic violence I shrink from. Only baddies are killed. And Gunny Rose is a very appealing character – loyal, principled, and she's never failed a client – yet. And of course there's a handsome Russian wizard on a secret mission who keeps getting in her way. The first book in the series is called An Easy Death, which is what people traditionally wish gunnies when they head off on a mission. I've since read the other two in the series and can't wait for #4.

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