O’Shea’s #7 – Silver Fox

I am writing a series of flash fiction pieces set in O’Shea’s Pub. See Romantic Flash Fiction Anyone? for more information. Here’s the seventh one. May to December or older man / younger woman… I hope you enjoy it.

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A man. A tall man, with broad shoulders that currently shaped his expensive looking overcoat to perfection, was stood in front of her at the bar. A flash of silver and white caught and held her attention as he turned his head. The contrast between the silver and black hair was startling. She squinted a little trying to see better and found herself taking a slow step towards him.

Yes, now she could see other silver hairs shimmering through the thick black and oh Lord! His stubble was mainly silver and white, with a bit of dark grey shot through for good measure.

Wow. She’d never realised that was a thing for her, but from the way her eyes were glued to his head, she thought she’d better take a look at the silver-fox romances in the library on her break. She could even do a quick Twitter shout out to ask for some recommendations from her book buddies.

Biting her lip in excitement (the thought of new books did that to her), she stepped around him and gave the bartender a shy nod as he gestured that he’d be with her next.

Standing next to the Silver Fox, she made sure to give herself plenty of space but couldn’t help looking at his hand that rested on the dark mahogany of the bar.

Left hand. No ring. Also no tan line.

Ok, he was probably divorced because if he was married he’d wear one. He’d want everyone to know that he was taken. His skin was tanned and she could just make out some callouses on the thumb that he was tapping against the wood and a few scars across the back.

He probably sailed the world on his yacht and had beautiful women in each port.

“What can I get for you?”

Abruptly yanked back into the real world, instead of making up plot bunnies, Jackie quietly ordered a pint of Black Sheep and looked around for a place to sit. Her feet were aching like nobody’s business after working all day at the library. She kept hopping from one to the other, trying to take the weight off. Twenty-eight was too young for bunions, right?

It was busy in O’Shea’s tonight, she’d be lucky to get a booth. Checking the time, she rolled her eyes. Her sister was always late, so she’d brought her Kindle. She’d learned her lesson there years ago. All her introvert anxieties about being alone in public magically disappeared when she had her nose in a book.

“Busy in here tonight, hey?” a deep voice rumbled next to her.

Taking a quick peek up and to her right, she met a pair of deep, deep blue eyes spanned by a wealth of lines. She managed a small nod and some kind of sound that she hoped he’d take as affirmation.

The lines around his eyes deepened as he smiled gently. “There’s a stool here if you want a seat.” He nodded his head to the opposite side of him and she tore her eyes away from his to see the empty stool against the bar.

She really wanted that seat. “Do you mind?” she asked quietly.

“Not at all. Here,” he stepped back a little, protecting her from the jostling crowd, so she could sidestep to it.

Her eyes went a little wider when she brushed against the front of him. She coughed and got comfortable, tucking her throbbing feet onto the rest. She didn’t know where to look. God!

“Better?” he asked drawing her eyes back to him.

This time she thought she saw a twinkle in his eyes but quickly talked herself out of that one. She nodded instead. “Thank you, I really needed that.”

“Long day?” He angled towards her, taking a drink from his glass of Guinness.

She sighed. It looked like they were going to have a conversation. This never went well.

“Yes, and I was on my feet for most of it. So…”

“So… Why are you here and not at home taking a hot bath?”

She shrugged awkwardly, her mind blanked out. She had nothing.

Warm blue eyes roamed across her face. “Sorry, was that a little too personal?”

Rolling her shoulder, she rubbed her nose and tried not to blush. “Kind of, yeah.”

“I guess we should really share our names before I tell you off for not looking after yourself, huh?”

She snorted out a surprised laugh and tried to figure out the ratio of anxiety and excitement she was feeling. Amazingly, excitement seemed to be winning 60 / 40.

“Well, yeah, I suppose.”

“Ted,” he stuck out his hand.

Jackie looked at it for a few seconds before she slowly raised hers. She had to swallow pretty deeply when his big, warm hand engulfed her own. She’d had no idea that that little circle of skin in the middle of her palm was an erogenous zone.

Apparently, she’d had no idea about a lot of things.

She couldn’t take her eyes off their hands: his so tanned and big, hers pale and small.

She tried to remember the last time she’d chosen to touch a man, but her mind was too busy computing the different sensations of his skin and the light dusting of dark hairs on the back of his hand.

Her heart thudded hard but steadily, this was attraction, she was sure, she’d read about it enough, but a strange sense of calm also settled around her allowing her to think about raising her eyes to his. She needed to see what he was thinking.

Her eyes were struggling to move past his amazing chest when she suddenly realised that she’d been holding his hand for ages, just staring at it. God! He must think she was a total weirdo. She tried to jerk her hand away, but his tightened and held her firm. Her eyes flew to his.

“Tell me,” he murmured.

Jackie shook her head a little dazedly. “What?” she whispered unconsciously moving closer.

Her eyes danced over his face. She couldn’t get enough of looking at him. She felt her lips moving into a smile to mirror his.

“Everything,” he said.

****

Thanks for reading.

Kx

Top 10 Romance ‘Oldies But Goodies’

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The beauty of reading Romance is that their are millions and millions of books out there. Sub-genres abound: historical, contemporary, paranormal, LGBTQ, erotic to sweet, dark to funny just to name a few, and some authors are writing five or six books a year. The reading potential is endless, and I’d like to bet that anyone could find something that they like in Romance. If you need any pointers just let me know and I’ll help if I can.

But as brilliant as the books are now, I still love to read books that were written 10 to 20 years ago. Some of them are historical romances, so they age really well. The writing styles these days might not be quite the same, but the historical settings are, so they’re a good bet.

Some contemporary romance can age badly, or if not badly, a bit weirdly! I read an old Nora Roberts recently called ‘Night Shift’ and the heroine smoked like a chimney and called the hero ‘Slick’. I enjoyed the book, but it felt really dated and all the smoking was off-putting.

But there are some books that never age; the stories are perfect, the romances timeless, and they draw me in every time I read them.

Here are my top 10 oldies but goodies (all with a HEA):

  1. Morning Glory by LaVyrle Spencer (1989) – set during the Second World War this book is beautiful, tender and heartbreakingly good.
  2. The Return of Rafe McKade (The McKade Brothers #1) by Nora Roberts (1995) – the bad boy returns to town. I loved the whole series except for the last one.
  3. Sea Swept (Chesapeake Bay saga #1) by Nora Roberts (1998) – the playboy gives it all up to care for a troubled young boy not unlike he once was… and a social worker brings him to his knees. Brilliant series.
  4. Pretty much anything by Lisa Kleypas who has been writing since 1987 but in the spirit of this list I’ll choose Suddenly You (2001) – set in a world where appearance means everything, passion simmers just below the surface, and a respectable Englishwoman is willing to risk scandal for one night of love.
  5. Slave To Sensation (Psy-Changling #1) by Nalini Singh (2006) – it’s amazing that this wonderful series has been on the go for over 10 years! In a world that denies emotions, where the ruling Psy punish any sign of desire, Sascha Duncan must conceal the feelings that brand her as flawed.
  6. Simply Irrestible (Chinooks Hockey Team #1) by Rachel Gibson (1998) – my first, but by far the last dip into Sports Romance. I loved this whole series.
  7. Hummingbird by LaVyrle Spencer (1983) – The Bandit and the Gentleman and Abigail McKenzie has to choose between them. Brilliant historical novel – funny, tender and wonderful.
  8. Taming Natasha (The Stanislaskis #1) by Nora Roberts (1990) – fiery heroine lowers her guard for music professor and single father.
  9. It Had To Be You (Chicago Stars #1) by Susan Elizabeth Phillips (1994) – a woman who knows nothing about sports inherits a professional football team. The sparks fly between her and the head coach.
  10. Making Chase (Chase Brothers #4) by Lauren Dane (2007) – this one’s not really that old, but I’m just sneaking it in. Well-off guy falls for a woman from the wrong side of the tracks.

Happy reading!

Kx

 

Musings On The Epilogue…

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Just moo-sing about the epilogue…

So I just finished a book by one of my favourite authors. I was in love with the heroine and hero, totally immersed in their story, and so glad that they’d worked things out for themselves and their relationship. During the last 10% I found out she was pregnant – a much wanted baby, awesome! So I reach the end and gleefully turn the page for the epilogue, wanting a little snap shot of them both with the baby…. only to find, no epilogue.

Wait! What?!

The romance epilogue is like finding you’ve still got a piece of your favourite chocolate left. You eat it as slowly as you can, savouring it because you know it’s nearly the end of a beautiful thing. The epilogue gives us a brief glimpse of the heroine and hero in the future, letting us know that they’re still together, living and loving their happily ever after.

When you don’t get an epilogue, it’s like someone nicked your chocolate *eye twitch*. There aren’t many books that don’t have one these days. I was starting to think they were pretty much a prerequisite. I’ve got one in mine.

I’m stating right now – it should be illegal not to have an epilogue!

Dear romance authors – please don’t steal my chocolate.

 

O’Shea’s #4 – Hard To Be Brave

I am writing a series of flash fiction pieces set in O’Shea’s Pub. See Romantic Flash Fiction Anyone? for more information. Here’s the fourth one using the enemies to lovers trope. I hope you enjoy it.

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Jason Monroe angry was a sight to see.

“What the hell are we doing here, Emma?”

“Well, you said you needed a drink. So…” she said, trying to keep the smug out of her voice.

He unbuttoned his coat and yanked it off his broad shoulders. “I meant a coffee and you damn well know it.” Throwing it onto the seat, he slid into the booth and grabbed the beer menu. It was a relief not to have his eyes on her.

“Why don’t I surprise you?” She suggested, turning to walk towards the bar before he could complain again.

She blew out a breath, hard enough to lift her thick dark fringe, and jumped onto a stool at the bar while she waited for Ben to make his way down to her.

She was uncomfortably aware that she was winging things at the moment. The man with unlimited control had finally snapped. She couldn’t believe her luck. Jason had been lording it over her at work for months; then to top it off the job they both wanted had just been advertised.

Smiling at Ben, she ordered two pints of Guinness, needing a little more time to settle her thoughts before heading back to him. They actually worked well together when they weren’t fighting over who held the dominant position. Their skills balanced out: she took the lead on customer relations; he leaned more towards data and analysis.

Unfortunately, she’d been late to their meeting with a big client today after her mum’s doctor’s appointment had run over, and things hadn’t quite gone to plan. She took a sip of the first glass of Guinness that Ben set on the bar and tried not to think about what lay ahead for her mother and herself. Rolling her shoulders, she pushed those thoughts to the back of her mind and focused on the six foot two problem in the booth behind her.

The second pint glass landed in front of her. Taking a deep breath, she nodded at Ben. “Start me a tab, will you? I think we’re going to need a few.”

He raised his eyebrows. “Like that is it?”

“Worse,” she deadpanned and walked away as Ben chuckled. She always wished she was attracted to him; he was such a great guy, but for some reason there were zero spark between them.

She really wished she could say the same about the guy in front of her. Unfortunately working with Jason Monroe ignited sparks in her mind and in her knickers. A double whammy which just pissed her off immensely.

Why was his intensity such a turn on  when she’d always gone for laid back types in her past? Why did she feel like her eyes were glued to his arse sometimes? Why did she feel like high-fiving herself whenever she made him smile or laugh? She felt like a beggar crawling around for scraps of food the way he doled those out.

“About bloody time,” he muttered, his head back, his eyes closed. “What were you doing, brewing it?”

“No, Jason, I wasn’t, but I’m more than happy to pour it over your head if you don’t stop moaning.” She threatened as she stood holding the drinks.

He opened his eyes and rolled his head to look at her. “Sit down forgodsake. I’m about to expire from dehydration.”

There was a weariness about him that disturbed Emma. She was so used to his rigid control, his strength, that seeing the cracks appear knocked her own precarious stability.

Sliding into the seat opposite him, she watched him take a long drink and lick away the creamy Guinness from his lips. Swallowing thickly, she dragged her eyes away from him and gave herself another good talking to. The problem was, these talks didn’t seem to work so well these days.

She felt his eyes on her and tried to plaster a convincing smile on her face.

“So…”

He raised his dark eyebrows. “So…”

“We need a new plan, don’t we?”

Jason shrugged. “All my current plans are shot to shit, so I’m currently re-evaluating.”

His intense gaze was making her want to fidget. Picking up a beer mat, she started turning it and took another drink. A truly awful thought flashed through her mind, making her sit up straight and smack the mat onto the table. “You’re not going to leave are you?”

The glass rested on his lips as he paused, he slowly took a drink and carefully placed it back on the table. “Would that be so bad?”

“Yes… I…” She stuttered to a halt, on the precipice and unsure which way was safety.

He sat forward, resting his forearms on the table. “Why?”

Staring at her hand on the beer mat, she realised the tips of his fingers were mere inches from her own. She watched his middle finger twitch and held her breath.

Do it! she thought, touch me.

The small distance stayed the same. It might as well have been the expanse of the Grand Canyon.

Exhaling quietly, she let herself really look at him before she met his eyes again. She saw the strain around his eyes, the firm set of his mouth and wanted to kiss it away.

Was she brave enough? Could she handle his rejection? What’s the worst that could happen? Well, abject shame and humiliation, which was never good, but she thought she could survive it. It might mean a long distance move or plastic surgery but she’d deal with it. Right?

She looked back down to their hands and willed her own to move. God, it was hard to be brave sometimes. Her pads pressed down onto the table before she flexed her fingers and moved forward. They stopped as she felt the heat of the skin from the very tips of his fingers.

She wanted to look at his face and really see him, but she’d used up every ounce of bravery that she had. Her heart thudded hard in her chest and she felt the heat prickle across her chest, knowing she’d made a mistake.

She looked away and felt her fingers separate. She closed her eyes as he pushed his between hers, taking a shaky breath as his thumb stroked across the inside of her wrist.


I’d love to get other writers involved in this. If you fancy writing your own piece of romantic flash fiction, shoot me a message and I’ll link to your story.

Cheers,

Kx

Why Romance?

I have loved to read for as long as I can remember. I have vivid memories as a kid of the books that I read and how they made me feel. That was back in the days before Kindles and Amazon, ebooks and self-publishing. I read all my Mum’s Catherine Cookson books, then began to look further afield.

I had a library card and I wasn’t afraid to use it!

It was a rare day when I didn’t have my 10 book allocation piled up on the desk by my bed. Danielle Steel, Jilly Cooper, Jude Deveraux, Judith Krantz, LaVyrle Spencer, Barbara Delinsky, Susan Lewis to name just a few of the authors that I used to look out for. God, that list takes me back! The only author who I read anymore from that list is LaVyrle Spencer because Morning Glory is one of the best books I’ve ever read. But that’s not to take anything away from the pleasure I got from those books at the time.

I was transported from my little bedroom in suburban England, to London, New York, San Fransisco, rural America, China and beyond.

Romance

I watched love stories unfold and heartbreak strike and I lived through it all because I knew I was going to get a happy ending. Some people hate that; they laugh and smirk and patronise the romance genre because of it but that is exactly what I love. I want to know that the characters and their lives that I’m currently immersed in are going to be together when I close the book. There is enough crap in life, I don’t want to read about it all the time as well!

Reading for me is about escaping to another world, another set of people and familiar tropes and story lines. There’s comfort in familiarity and knowing that I’m going to get a HEA or a HFN – either one is ok to be honest.

Romance is about all the ways you can fall in love and all the ways that love can become difficult. I like strong, gutsy main characters and a rowdy, funny supporting cast. I want to care about the characters and route for their success and their happy ending. I like my romance sexy and hot. What’s all that flirting and sexual tension about if there’s no pay off?! Right?

When I find an author that I love, I’m loyal and read pretty much everything that they’ve written. If I pick up a book and it doesn’t grab me within the first ten pages, you’ve lost a reader for life. There are too many good books out there to waste time on rubbish books (of which there are unfortunately many).

My reading tastes have changed over the years but not the genre. I may dip my toe in a thriller every once in awhile, but I always go back to my first reading love. I’m fairly sure romance books are a borderline addiction for me and I’m ok with that. 

How about you?

Happy reading!

Kx

 

What’s This All About Then?

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I love to read romance and I love to talk about books with people who share my addiction.

One of my favourite things is recommending a book that I love to somebody and that person going away and falling in love with it too, so there will eventually be some book recommendations on here, plus the odd review or post about my favourite authors.

I also love to write and I’m currently in the process of trying to write my first contemporary romance, so there will also be posts about writing (the inevitable highs and lows) and interesting – hopefully – posts about sub-genres, popular tropes and themes etc. I’m also thinking about posting some romantic flash fiction.

All my best laid plans for writing romance and regular blogging will no doubt be put to the test by my young family – but keep the faith, I’m determined to keep writing.

Please feel free to comment if you feel like it 😉 You can also find me on Twitter and Facebook.

Happy reading!

Kx