The Ghost Garden: out now

Out now in paperback and ebook. 

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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Ruby Scalera reviews The Ghost Garden

The setting of the old school and the ability with which the authors create a pathway between worlds is undeniable and striking in both its beauty and its sadness. While delving into serious, real-world problems, this story never loses sight of the good in the world, the magic in the air around us, and the joy of home, family, and love.

Read Ruby’s full review on Goodreads.

Dashing Down the Magic Aisle with Dale

In episode #5 of Gin &Gentlemen we’re taking you shopping! Don’t think Harrods and Harvey Nics though, because we’ll be your guide to such delights as Kwik Save, the dreaded A-Team font and some questionable oven chips. Which supermarket thinks petit pois are essential, and how can you combine a game show with a trolley dash? Plus, who’s putting the fizz in our gin and what terrifying beast’s climbing out of our inkwell this week?

You can listen to us at Anchor.fmiTunesSpotifyGoogle Podcasts (Android only), StitcherTuneInCastboxOvercastBreakerRadioPublic and Pocket Casts.

Seaside Strollings with the Brighton Beaux

Join Catherine and Eleanor for the fourth episode of Gin & Gentlemen, where they discuss the unique charms of the British seaside. Join Eleanor in Queen Victoria’s shower and gad about with Catherine to peep at a prince in his pavilion. Plus, find out who’s putting the fizz in our gin this week, only on Gin and Gentlemen!

You can listen to us at Anchor.fmiTunesSpotifyGoogle Podcasts (Android only), StitcherTuneIn, Castbox, OvercastBreakerRadioPublic and Pocket Casts.

Chicks, Rogues and Scandals reviews The Ghost Garden

The Ghost Garden is a page-tuner for sure, it will keep you glued from the first moment. It’s such a delightful, charming and thrilling book. The writing is exceptionally great – you never know who is writing what as the words just flow flawlessly from one scene to the next. The plot is mesmerizing and full of intrigue with a paranormal undertone and full of twists that will keep you guessing as to what’s around the corner. It has the best characters I have met, each one from the two leads to the secondary characters are brilliantly written. I am in absolute love with this book, Raf and Cecily have completely stolen my heart, easily the best book of my year!

Read the full review at Chicks, Rogues and Scandals.

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.

Continue reading →

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), Stitcher, TuneIn, Castbox, OvercastBreakerRadioPublic and Pocket Casts.

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), Stitcher, TuneIn, Castbox, 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.