The Ghost Garden: preorder now

Pre-order now on Amazon. Published as ebook and in paperback 23rd April 2019.

Within the tangled vines of a forgotten garden, can a blossoming new love overcome an ancient evil that threatens both the living and the dead?

After losing her brother in the trenches of the Great War, Cecily James is a prisoner of Whitmore Hall, the respected but remote boys’ school where her brutish husband reigns as headmaster. With its forsaken walled garden, a hauntingly tragic past, and midnight footsteps heard from an unoccupied clocktower, Whitmore Hall is a place where the dead are rumored to walk. 

Whitmore Hall is a place filled with mysteries and as a ghost garden emerges from the sun-bleached soil, long-buried secrets cry out to be told. 

When new teacher Raf de Chastelaine blunders into an impromptu seance, Cecily finds an unlikely and eccentric ally. In a world of discipline and respectability, barefoot Raf is unlike any teacher Cecily has ever met. With his tales of the Carpathian mountains and a love of midnight gardening, he shakes Whitmore Hall to its foundations. Could there be more to Raf than meets the eye? And as he and Cecily realise that their feelings run deeper than friendship, dare they dream of a world beyond Whitmore Hall?

As Cecily and Raf team up to unite long-dead lovers and do battle with an ancient evil that has long haunted Whitmore Hall, Cecily finds her chance of happiness threatened by her tyrannical husband. But is the controlling headmaster acting of his own free will, or is he the puppet of a malevolent power from beyond the grave?

Excerpt

1925

The gap between each floorboard seemed to call to Cecily. Drop the ring. But she gripped it even tighter.

She’d cleaned off the dirt after finding the ring in the rose garden. No one ever went behind the ancient brick walls, and Cecily had only braved its thorns and twisted branches to rescue a cricket ball. The pupil who had accidentally knocked it in there had cried, frightened of a telling-off, and Cecily hadn’t had to go far into the overgrown garden to retrieve the ball.

And there had been the ring, half-hidden in the ground as if it had risen up through the drought-parched earth just for her.

Cecily glanced over her shoulder, along the length of the corridor, but Hugh, her husband, was nowhere to be seen. Busy in his study, Cecily supposed as she knocked on the Culpecks’ door.

The late summer sun was dying, throwing a blood-red tide over the floorboards of the masters’ quarters and she knocked again, keen to be in the cozy confines of the Culpecks’ rooms. Somewhere, someone was tuning a piano and she could hear the occasional sound of leather on willow from the playing fields outside, where school life went on as it ever did, as it ever had since she could remember. She was part of the fabric here, as constant as the buildings themselves.

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Regency Picnicking with the Captain and the Queen

Join Catherine and Eleanor for the third episode of Gin & Gentlemen, where they discuss the perils and pleasures of writing historical fiction. Find out why picnics were off the menu in 1816, how Catherine dealt with a Georgian drag superstar, and what Eleanor wore in the trenches. Plus, find out who’s putting the fizz in our gin this week.

You can listen to us at Anchor.fmiTunesSpotifyGoogle Podcasts (Android only), OvercastBreakerRadioPublic and Pocket Casts. More platforms coming soon!

Charlie Cochrane: Romance with a mystery twist or mystery with a romantic twist?

The cover of "Old Sins" - a wooden briefcase and a gun.

There’s more than one natural connection between romances and mysteries.

For a start, a number of authors have written both, under different pen names – for example, Agatha Christie/Mary Westmacott – or under the same name, such as Georgette Heyer. You could argue that the two genres have a similar basic story arc, in that the world is put wrong and then put right again, the tale finishing with a happy ever after or a villain being brought to justice, which is something that doesn’t always happen in real life. You also often get the two genres combined: the Dorothy L Sayers books Strong Poison, Have his Carcase and Gaudy Night are as much about Lord Peter Wimsey romancing Harriet Vane as they are about him solving murders. And every one of Ellis Peters’ Cadfael books features a standalone romance between a pair of the supporting characters, usually a feckless young man and a feisty young woman.

I reckon it’s a logical combination, as romance (or to use a wider term, relationships) and mystery form part of everyday life and intertwining them, if well done, can add veracity and depth to a story. It would be a pretty sterile sort of a crime book if nobody in it had any sort of a feeling for other people – often it’s emotions such as love, jealousy, unrequited passion or the like that are involved in the lead up to the crime. And likewise, it would be a fairly vapid sort of romance if there was no element of ‘mystery’ in its broadest sense. By which I mean things as simple as Does he or doesn’t he fancy me?  through Who was that person she was talking to and does it mean she’s having an affair? to some plot element like poison pen letters used as a means for the two main characters to get together, maybe by having something to fight against together.

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Fighting at Gravesides with Grayson Sinclair


Join Catherine and Eleanor for the second episode of Gin & Gentlemen, where they discuss the allure of the older man. Find out about Catherine’s secret Emmerdale shame, discover which of Eleanor’s crushes surfed into Summer Bay and learn the art of bringing raunch to The Archers.

You can listen to us at Anchor.fm, iTunesSpotifyGoogle Podcasts (Android only), OvercastBreakerRadioPublic and Pocket Casts. More platforms coming soon!

Listen to our first episode here.

Shownotes

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Kimmer’s Erotic Book Banter reviews A Late Summer Night’s Dream

This novella is an extended enticement, the seduction we’ve all dreamt of experiencing. Want to laugh with this couple as they face their prejudices? Want a light, yet delightfully believable read? Check out A Late Summer Night’s Dream for some of the dreamiest intimacy and romance I’ve encountered.

Read the rest of the review at Kimmer’s Erotic Book Banter.

A Late Summer Night’s Dream: Out Today!

We’re super excited to announce that our newest novella, A Late Summer Night’s Dream, is now available to buy worldwide! Read on for more details and an excerpt, or click here to buy it now.

Buy it now

Among Oxford’s dreaming spires, can a widowed professor and a wide-eyed scholar make their own dreams of love come true?

Simeon Shakespeare is living his academic dream. As an Oxford scholar, he spends his days in libraries and whiles away his nights at the theater. A mix-up over a seat number leads to a very awkward first act, but that’s nothing compared to what happens when the lights go up.

Professor Anthony Meadows is finished with love. Shattered by the death of his husband, he divides his time between his book-lined study and Oxford’s theaters. The last thing he needs is an annoying research student bickering with him over who should sit where.

When Anthony and Simeon discover they have more in common than a shared love of the Bard, it looks as though the stage is set for romance. Yet with the memory of Anthony’s lost love keeping the professor from moving on, can Simeon’s love mend his broken heart?

Excerpt

Simeon pulled the ticket out of his pocket as he ran up the steps of the theater. Thanks to the bloody traffic in town, he was almost late for curtain up. He checked his seat number again and hurried through a door from the foyer into the busy auditorium. The house lights went down almost as soon as he found his row.

“Excuse me…sorry.” His seat would have to be right in the middle of the row, wouldn’t it? Best seat to have, but not if you turn up late.

With only the green glow of the emergency exit lights to guide him, Simeon found his way to the empty seat. He squinted at the ticket and—someone is in my seat!

A tall someone who Simeon could barely see in the dark.

Music began to fill the auditorium, an overture before the play began. Through the strings and brass, Simeon hissed, “You’re in my seat!”

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Late Night Camping with the Captain

Join Catherine and Eleanor for the first episode of Gin & Gentlemen, where they discuss how they met, how they write and how many men they can fit on their knees. Find out how a handsome chap sent Eleanor into a hedge, enjoy Yorkshire’s most questionable James Mason impression and hear all about a compromising situation for a soldier and his captain.

You can listen to us at Anchor.fm, iTunes, Spotify, Google Podcasts (Android only), OvercastBreaker, RadioPublic and Pocket Casts. More platforms coming soon!

A Late Summer Night’s Dream: Preorder Now!

We’re super excited to announce that our newest novella, A Late Summer Night’s Dream, is now available to preorder! Read on for more details and an excerpt.

Pre-order now at Amazon – released 19th February 2019

Among Oxford’s dreaming spires, can a widowed professor and a wide-eyed scholar make their own dreams of love come true?

Simeon Shakespeare is living his academic dream. As an Oxford scholar, he spends his days in libraries and whiles away his nights at the theater. A mix-up over a seat number leads to a very awkward first act, but that’s nothing compared to what happens when the lights go up.

Professor Anthony Meadows is finished with love. Shattered by the death of his husband, he divides his time between his book-lined study and Oxford’s theaters. The last thing he needs is an annoying research student bickering with him over who should sit where.

When Anthony and Simeon discover they have more in common than a shared love of the Bard, it looks as though the stage is set for romance. Yet with the memory of Anthony’s lost love keeping the professor from moving on, can Simeon’s love mend his broken heart?

Excerpt

Simeon pulled the ticket out of his pocket as he ran up the steps of the theater. Thanks to the bloody traffic in town, he was almost late for curtain up. He checked his seat number again and hurried through a door from the foyer into the busy auditorium. The house lights went down almost as soon as he found his row.

“Excuse me…sorry.” His seat would have to be right in the middle of the row, wouldn’t it? Best seat to have, but not if you turn up late.

With only the green glow of the emergency exit lights to guide him, Simeon found his way to the empty seat. He squinted at the ticket and—someone is in my seat!

A tall someone who Simeon could barely see in the dark.

Music began to fill the auditorium, an overture before the play began. Through the strings and brass, Simeon hissed, “You’re in my seat!”

Someone tutted, perhaps the lady who was craning to peer around Simeon at the stage. Why was she so keen anyway? The curtain was still down—she was hardly missing the action.

At Simeon’s words, the man who occupied his seat peered up at him through the gloom and asked in a cut-glass whisper, “I’m sorry?”

Simeon wafted his ticket at him—not that he’d be able to see it in the darkness. “You’re in my seat.” Something in the way the man had spoken made Simeon add, without a hint of sarcasm, “…sir.”

“Sit down,” the lady hissed, patting Simeon’s arm with her rolled program. The interloper in his seat reached out one hand and tapped his finger on the empty seat beside him. His seat, the seat he should be in, not Simeon’s central seat.

“Sit down,” the man echoed in that same plummy whisper, dismissive and disinterested. “I’m in my seat.”

Simeon sighed in annoyance. “You’re not—you’re in mine! I chose it on purpose, and you’re sat in it!”

“What number seat are you looking for?” He asked it as though Simeon was the most unimportant creature in the universe, with the same throwaway condescension of his worst undergraduate professors. His hand remained on the empty seat and he said, “This is seventeen.”

“Yes—seventeen! That’s my seat. Look—look at my ticket, for heaven’s sake!” Simeon held it closer to the man’s face.

His nemesis tapped the empty seat again and he told Simeon, “This is seventeen, I’m in sixteen and—”

“Fifteen,” the woman snapped, patting him a little more forcefully with her program. “Now sit down, you bloody hooligan!”

Simeon popped forward the collar of his denim jacket, a move he had learned long ago from old films. “Hooligan? I merely wish to sit—”

Shit.

Simeon dropped down into the empty seat and looked at his ticket again. His was seventeen, and that was definitely the empty seat.

“Sorry,” he whispered. “How embarrassing—but it’s so dark, I…”

Yet his neighbor didn’t offer him so much as a glance, merely gesturing with one hand, a flick of the wrist that commanded silence. A faint glare of light reflected for a moment from the jeweled cufflink that peeped out from beneath the sleeve of the man’s jacket, then Simeon’s attention was caught by the curtain which, thank God, was finally beginning to rise.

This isn’t going to be an awkward three hours at all, is it?

Not at all.

Simeon was soon carried into the play. The scenery was gorgeous, and he overlooked the unimpressive acting because whoever was playing Theseus—if only Simeon had had time to grab a program—was a thoroughly delicious silver fox. As he settled into seat seventeen, Simeon became aware of a scent from somewhere nearby—a very pleasant cologne. The kind that Theseus would wear, in fact. Manly. Distinguished. The cologne of a mature man, who—

Christ, it isn’t the grumpy sod sat beside me, is it?

Simeon peered at him from the corner of his eye.

It wouldn’t be him. He had the voice and manner of an old-school toff. Lord knows this city has enough of them, and none of them wear cologne like that. Oh, for his own Theseus wearing that cologne.

Simeon forced himself to concentrate on the play, even though the energetic young actors didn’t hold much interest for him. But with any luck, Theseus would turn up again as Oberon, King of the Fairies.

A man can dream.

Before Simeon had time to lament the departure of Theseus too much, the curtain fell and the house lights came up. The interval. He really could do with a drink. Perhaps he should do the decent thing and apologize to the man who hadn’t been in his seat?

“Look, sorry—I don’t suppose you’d like to—?”

He glanced round at the man who’d sat so quietly beside him in the dark and held his breath as he looked at him.

The woman who had weaponized her program shot Simeon a pointed, disapproving look before bustling from the row. It was only then that he realized the couple weren’t together at all. In fact, as the woman departed, the man in seat sixteen was gazing fixedly at his program and clearly trying to pretend that Simeon didn’t exist.

Bloody hell, how could I have been so stupid?

The man in seat sixteen was gorgeous.

A head of thick blond hair, stranded with silver, and a strong jaw. Tall. Nicely dressed—far more nicely than Simeon. The man in seat sixteen seemed to have made an effort for going out to the theater, with a shirt and tie and three-piece suit.

And he was wearing that damn cologne.

Simeon turned in his seat and grinned him. “Mate—look, I’m going to grab a drink. Do you—can I get you something by way of apology? Least I can do.”