Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Review - How to Get A (Love) Life by Rosie Blake


Some people book last-minute holidays, walk barefoot in the grass or party on a week night. Not Nicola Brown. Nicola is the kind of girl who double-locks the front door, leaves the plastic covering on new furniture, sticks to a super-strict diet and definitely, absolutely Does Not Date. 

Her colleague Caroline – loopy, warm and exasperated by her, knows that Nicola’s reluctance to lose control means she’s living only half a life. And so she lays down the gauntlet: Nicola must cast aside her hang ups and go on as many dates as it takes to find true love in time for Valentine’s Day.

The pick of local men is, quite frankly, a bit rubbish. And there are only three months until February 14th. Surely it’s an impossible task? But, as Nicola is about to find out on her dodgy dates, letting go isn’t quite as scary as she imagined. In fact, it’s rather a lot of fun…
What did I think? 

I loved it! Really hilarious in parts, deeply touching in others! This book should make people who are in happy loving long-term relationships really grateful that they don't have to go through these "interesting" and "character-building" dating experiences! It's enough to make you want to stay single forever! Or is it? 

I loved Rosie's incredibly easily to read writing style. The story flowed really well! I became quite envious of the lovely relationships that Nicola had both with her brother and with her friend and colleague Caroline.  I quite fancied working at the agency to be honest! Sounded like a real hoot! 

This book reinforced for me the saying that life is for living. When Nicola lightened up a bit, that's when she started to live again! A lesson for a lot of us to learn I think! 

A perfect ending! Loved it! Super book. Lots of fun and lots of laughs. Hugely entertaining. 

Rosie spent her university years writing pantomimes based on old classics. The 2003 production of The Wizard of Odd: Search for the Ruby Strippers enjoyed critical acclaim. This was followed a year later with a successful showing of Harry Potter: The Musical (complete with moving opening number, In my Cupboard I will Stay).

Rosie went on to write a winning short story in the La Senza/Little Black Dress Short Story Competition and was shortlisted in a few others including competitions run by Women and Home and The Daily Mail. Her first full-length novel, How to Get a (Love) Life, was published in January 2014 by Novelicious Books.

You can buy the book by clicking here

You can follow Rosie on Twitter 

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Emma Calin's Shannon's Law Pre-Launch Pinterest Reveal Virtual Book Tour

Today I'm joined by Emma Calin who is launching her latest novel Shannon's Law on 28th Feb.  Without further ado, I'll hand you over to Emma.

Thank you so much for letting me showcase my forthcoming steamy action-romance novel SHANNON’S LAW. It’s  the second in my PASSION PATROL series - stories where sassy female cops lock up the criminals and always get their man.

February marks the start of my “Pinterest Reveal Virtual Book Tour” in the run-up to the launch on the 28th February 2014. 

Every day there are feature posts on topics relating to SHANNON’S LAW on blogs all around the world.  They’re all linked together on one big Pinterest Board. Each post replaces a ‘mystery’ silhouette that was posted in January. I saved all  my notes and photos as I was writing, on a private Pinterest Board and now I can share them with you. This photo came originally from a website selling equestrian clothing and it was this image I had in my mind when I created  Shannon’s nemesis Jasmine de Montfort.

Today’s subject is a character study:  Jasmine de Montfort

Jasmine de Montfort as posted on my original Pinterest storyboard for Shannon’s Law
(photo courtesy Ride-away Equestrian)

Jasmine de Montfort is one of the main characters in Shannon’s Law. She is posh and noble. It is easy to know that because she tells everyone. Her surname is an echo back to the Norman conquest of England in 1066. She will tell you that she carries the true blood of that period.  She works as a top barrister and has a history of affairs and marriages which have brought her wealth, advancement and pleasure.

More than any other character she represents the social and financial gulf between the classes in modern Britain. She trades in stock market shares based on insider tips, she mixes with politicians and chiefs of police. She has influence and power over those she considers lower than her. She arrives in the book high and haughty in the saddle. To WPC Shannon Aguerri she is from an alien world of horsey privilege and arrogant self confidence.

As a writer from very much working class origins, I have personally encountered several characters from this mould. Many nobles are humble and polite to working folk but some are not. I was once working as a cab driver on an airport run. I asked the posh client if his trip had been comfortable.
He replied that he did not speak with drivers and that I should just get on with my work. Believe me, his journey sure wasn't comfortable after that. I had no idea before then just how badly I could drive. This experience coloured my creation of Jasmine. Her first encounter with Shannon Aguerri did not go too well.

“Who are you?” asked Shannon with deliberate formality.
“I am Jasmine de Montfort. I’m a barrister at law at the Marlborough-Fortescue Chambers. You will know of us I think – although at your rank you won’t be dealing with top level cases,” she said with an icy smile.
“I dunno – I’ve locked up all kinds of toffs but so far, no barristers. One never knows though does one?” replied Shannon.
“Toffs! Toffs! What is your name and number officer? I think you need to be aware of the limits of your authority.”

Book Blurb

Wild child inner-city cop Shannon Aguerri walks a dangerous line between her methods and justice. When the bosses lose their nerve, after yet another maverick mission, she is transferred to green pastures to play out the role of a routine village cop. When she encounters signs of slave and drug trafficking she homes in on serious millionaire criminals.

As a loner she has attracted men but nothing has stuck. When she meets Spencer, the hunky and widowed Earl of Bloxington, there is an immediate rapport between them. Their social differences mean nothing to their passion and need. 

Already in the mix is an upper class female riva -  Jasmine de Montfort - who has long plotted her way into the Earl's bed. The jealousy is an evil shade of green and the anger is a violent scarlet. 

Often inhibited by a sense of duty and honour, Spencer is slow to reveal his feelings. When Shannon confronts him with the need to choose between her word and that of her rival, he does not immediately support her.

All issues are set aside, when they are forced together to carry out a desperate rescue mission. Their love is stronger than everything ranged against them.

SHANNON’S LAW comes out on February 28th 2014 in print and digital formats for all e-readers.

Amazon are offering some great discounts for pre-orders of the paperback version

You can pre-order the digital version at a pre-launch special price from Nook, Kobo, and iTunes. It will also be available in all digital formats on Smashwords

See this post and others from my tour as they go live on Pinterest

Follow Shannon’s Law on Facebook

Visit the Shannon’s Law Website for book details and pre-order information.

Win Amazon vouchers, copies of the book PLUS a free gift for every entrant (see prizes below).

The draw will be made at random, by Rafflecopter on the 7th March 2013.

Companion Cook-Book

In addition to SHANNON’S LAW, I’m launching a companion digital cook-book with illustrated recipes for all the meals from the novel.

 It’s called  COP’S KITCHEN - Read the love story and taste the romance!

To celebrate the launch of SHANNON’S LAW, there is a special FREE gift for you in my RAFFLECOPTER draw. As well as great, unique prizes to win, EVERY ENTRANT will get their own digital copy of – COP’S KITCHEN. There are many ways to get bonus chances – by commenting on this post, liking Facebook Pages etc.

Main Prizes in the Draw:
$30/£20/€25 Amazon Gift Voucher, 2 paperback copies of Shannon’s Law, 3 digital copies of Shannon’s Law.

Shannon’s Law comes out in paperback and digital formats for all e-readers
on February 28th 2014.


This post is part of the


Follow the other posts in February to see the background to the story unfold.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

The Guestbook by Holly Martin

Welcome to Willow Cottage – throw open the shutters, let in the sea breeze and make yourself completely at home. Oh, and please do leave a comment in the Guestbook.

As landlady of Willow Cottage, the young widow Annie Butterworth is always on hand with tea, sympathy or strong Norfolk cider - whatever her colourful array of guests require.  A flick through the messages in the leather-bound cottage guestbook gives a tantalizing glimpse into the lives of everyone who passes through her doors.

This includes Annie herself - especially now celebrity crime writer Oliver Black, is back in town. He might grace the covers of gossip magazines with a different glamorous supermodel draped on his arm every week, but to Annie, he’s always just been Olly, the man who Annie shared her first kiss with.

Through the pages of the Guestbook Annie and Olly, along with all the guests that arrive at the seaside retreat, struggle with love, loss, mystery, joy, happiness, guilt…and the odd spot of naked rambling!

Forget sending postcards saying ‘wish you were here’ - one visit to Willow Cottage and you’ll wish you could stay forever.

There is a review today on

The story of The Guestbook is told exclusively through the entries in Willow Cottage’s guestbook. But what is really happening beyond the messages of The Guestbook.  Nick is Annie’s dead husband.  If he was still there, what would his take be on what is happening in Willow Cottage.  

Hi, I’m Nick and I’m dead.  What can I tell you about being dead?  Well, there definitely is some kind of afterlife.  But whether it’s the fiery depths of hell, the fluffy clouds of heaven or some kind of burger bar or pub where you hang out with all your dead mates is as yet unknown.  I chose not to go.  

Death for me was quick and painless.  One moment I’m sitting in the passenger seat of my brother’s car, driving along the quiet country lanes.  It was mid-January, the roads were icy and Olly was driving like an old woman, painfully slow.  We were talking about Annie, a mutually agreed favourite topic of conversation.  The red car coming round the corner was clearly going too quick for the conditions, it lost control, Olly braked and swerved. Dead.

The first clue that I was dead came when seconds after the crash I found myself back in my home, watching my wife Annie, singing, badly might I add, and dancing, also badly, around our kitchen.  She couldn’t see or hear me.  Realising I was dead was pretty crap, but the horrifying feeling that Olly was dead too was uppermost in my mind.

Then he arrived, a bit bruised certainly, but alive and well and I nearly wept with relief.  It was at this time that I saw the bright lights that everyone says they see when they have near death experiences.  A peculiar sucking sensation came from these lights, like holding your hand over the end of the vacuum cleaner.  It wasn’t strong enough to pull me from the earth down this white tunnel, it was my choice whether to go or not.  I stared at Annie, I stared at the lights and chose Annie.  Simple as that.  She was my entire life and me dying hadn’t changed that.

Now another thing that people say about death is that moment, that choice when you decide to stay or go, is fleeting and if you choose to stay then that chance of the afterlife will never be presented to you again.  That’s rubbish, it’s been two years since I died and the light,the sucking sensation has followed me around ever since.  If I wanted I could pass through to the afterlife right now and sometimes I’m sorely tempted.  I can’t touch Annie anymore and that’s pretty rubbish.  I can’t eat, sleep or drink either.  Watching my brother sleep with my wife six months after I’d died wasn’t one of the highlights.

But I need to know Annie is going to be ok.  Once she’s happy again I think I could finally move on.
She’s doing well now, the first eight months were horrific.  She cried so much and it was heart breaking that there was nothing I could do to stop it.

I was so grateful to Olly that he was there to look after her, I honestly don’t think she would have coped without him.

I couldn’t be angry that they slept together.  They loved each other, always have.  She loved us both, equally and as weird as this sounds, I was ok with that.  We grew up together and the bond that the three of us had was unbreakable.

I kind of hoped that they would get together after I’d died.  As hard as it was to see them with each other, they fitted, and if anyone was going to make her happy again it was going to be him.  Though it seems that that isn’t going to happen now.

We live in a cottage in the tiny seaside village of Chalk Hill, part of Wells-next-the-sea in Norfolk.  Olly predominantly lives in New York.  He pops over from time to time but… well if they were going to get together they would have done so by now.  

Next door also belongs to us, Willow Cottage, and for the last five years we have rented it out as a holiday cottage.  This, in part, has been a useful healing device for Annie to have the guests to focus on rather than her grief.  I like to watch them too.  Gives me something to do rather than the endless boredom of death.  Sometimes it’s like watching a real life soap.

The guests have been a colourful bunch, couples, families, friends, people on their own.  Most of them are lovely, some a little bit eccentric and some have been absolutely bonkers.  
I bought a beautiful, leather bound guestbook just before I died, in the hope that the guests would be encouraged to write in it and some of their quirks, eccentricities and craziness could be recorded for prosperity.  Annie has just found it and it looks like she is going to implement it in Willow Cottage.

Dear Guests,
Welcome to Willow Cottage, I hope you enjoy your stay.  I’m only next door, so if there is anything at all that you need please don’t hesitate to let me know.  
You may wish to use this guestbook to do a diary entry for every day you are here, tell us where you’ve been and what you’ve done. You may wish to leave helpful hints for other guests or you may just want to leave a short comment at the end of your stay telling me what you think of Willow Cottage.
I will come by Tuesdays to drop off fresh towels so if there’s anything else you need you can always write it in the guestbook and I will check on it then.
Annie Butterworth.

See, she’s doing ok.  That’s a happy, cheery message.  She sings now, she hasn’t sung for two years.  I never thought I would be happy to hear her sing again, her voice is like a cat being tortured, but I actually missed it.  But despite the smiles and the songs, I can’t bring myself to leave yet.

We have guests.  A young couple.  I always think it’s hardest for Annie to have couples and families come to stay.  I think at the back of her mind she must think about us, about where we would be now if I was still alive.  She wanted children, she was desperate for them.  I wanted to wait.

1st – 8th March
Rosie and Jake Hamilton.

Thanks so much for the flowers and champagne, what a lovely surprise. The cottage is beautiful and Chalk Hill village is so cute. I’m so excited to be here. We’re on our honeymoon, one long delicious week with my beautiful hubby.  Yesterday I married my best friend.  I really am the luckiest girl alive.  
Jake says we can go for long walks along the beach and explore the beauty of the Norfolk Broads.  Personally I don’t think we’ll be leaving the house much.  We’ve been here six hours already and we’ve only really seen the bedroom!  We’re getting a takeaway tonight, another excuse to stay in bed.  
Can I just say for the record now, so it is here in black and white, I love my husbandsoooooo much.  He won’t read this so I’m safe.
Mrs Rosie Hamilton.  (Mrs!! I don’t think I’ll ever tire of that)

We were that giddy when me and Annie first got married.  It’s quite sickly isn’t it?  Annie can hear them through the walls of her house.  It makes her laugh.  I love to see her laugh.  Rosie is a screamer, Jake refers to God a lot.

I’m in love, did I mention that.  I can’t stop staring at the ring.  It just hasn’t sunk in yet.  I’m married!! And to the most marvellous man as well.  Jake caught me watching him sleep last night, bet he thinks he’s married a right weirdo.  Still there’s no escape for him now.
We actually made it to the beach today.  The dunes are beautiful.  We had a picnic and even had a dip in the sea.
Mrs Rosie Hamilton

What makes you think I won’t read this? What you fail to realise is how much I love you too, even though you snore.
Jake Hamilton. (Husband to Chief Snorer)

I do not snore.

You so do.

She does.  Well one of them was certainly snoring when they finally stopped going at it like rabbits.  That made Annie laugh too.

Annie Butterworth, what a shock! With a name like Mrs Annie Butterworth I was honestly expecting some grey haired granny with half-moon glasses who would bring round homemade lemon drizzle cake. I didn’t expect someone so young and pretty. Jake thought you were a ghost at first, seeing you run through the garden with your long white dress and blonde hair flying theatrically behind you.  It was quite the entrance.
It was great talking to you today.  Where is Mr Butterworth?  You both must come round for dinner one night.
Love Rosie

We used to get that a lot.  Mr and Mrs Butterworth, everyone thought we were this elderly couple.  Jake fancied Annie.  I could tell.  He couldn’t take his eyes off her, but then I never could either.  Annie would never sleep with a married man and Jake seems to be completelyin love with Rosie so I doubt anything will happen here.  Didn’t stop him checking out her tits though.

Hi Rosie, it was lovely to meet you too.  I’m more than happy to come round with homemade lemon drizzle cake if that’s what you were expecting.  I don’t have half-moon glasses but I can wear my reading glasses if that will work.  As for the ghost, I was always cast as the angel in the school plays, being a ghost would have been much more exciting.  
Mr Butterworth – Ha, Nick would have hated been called that – died two years ago so he won’t be joining us for dinner. If the weather stays fine how about you two join me for a barbeque tomorrow night?  
Let me know if you want some eggs, Suzie and Doris, the chickens, are laying them faster than I can collect them.

It’s this blasé ‘my husband has died would you like to come for dinner’ attitude that worries me.  Part of me sees that she has moved past the grief, that my death is just a badge that she has to wear, that she will always wear but she’s ok with this now.  When I see her like this, I feel ready to move on.  But then I see the sadness in her eyes whenever I get mentioned, part of me thinks this cheeriness is all an act, a face she puts on and that face will slip at any moment.

Last night Jake and Rosie came round for a barbeque.  They drank, they laughed, they drank some more.  I haven’t seen her laugh so much in a long time.  When they left she fell asleep with a big smile on her face.  Maybe she has really moved on. Maybe I should too.

Annie is awake and feeling pretty rough.  My picture is next to the bed and she talks to me from time to time.  Sometimes she tells me what she’s doing that day or what’s worrying her or what she’s looking forward to.  This morning she told me she missed me.  She hasn’t said that for a long time.  I know why too.  When she was hungover I’d make her bacon sandwiches and bring them to her in bed, with a glass of orange juice and paracetamols.  Then I’d hold her and stroke her head until the pain went away.  Now she hasn’t got anyone to do that anymore.  


8th – 14th March
Oliver Butterworth.  Black

Ah, my dear brother.  It’s been a long time since Olly came to visit.  After they slept with each other, that one drunken night, he ran back to his house in New York and poor Annie didn’t see him for months.  That hit her hard.  Just as she was starting to pull herself together, he buggers off.  He came back to her about four months later and told her that he wanted to be friends again but nothing could ever happen between them.

Annie has been singing a lot this morning.

I’m here to kill someone and I’m not leaving until I’ve done it.  

There’s only one reason why Olly is here and that’s to see Annie.  The way he held her when he arrived… Well it’s exactly the same as I would hold her now if I could.

I’m thinking of using a scythe, with a jagged serrated edge.  Though I don’t want my victim to die too quickly, it needs to be slow and painful, it needs to be bloody.  I want her to see her blood drain out of her, slowly, agonizingly feel her life force ebb away.  I want her to beg for her salvation.  I want that tough hard exterior to crumble in the last pitiful minutes of her pathetic life.  I want to see her cry.

My best laid plans continue to go awry.  As devious as I am in trying to catch my prey, she is as cunning at evading me.  I almost respect her for it.  Almost.

My brother has a dark heart and a sick and twisted imagination.  I love him though.  I’ve missed him too.

He gets paid a lot for his sick imagination.  I loved his books, he literally was the best writer in the world and I’m not just saying that because he’s my brother.  I try to read them now over Annie’s shoulder but she reads too quick for me.

It is technically Tuesday.  3.27 Tuesday morning to be precise.  But Claudette has been killed.  I feel like singing ‘ding, dong the witch is dead’.  I have cracked open a bottle of Whin Hill Cider to celebrate but may sneak next door and top up my celebrations with some of Annie’s amazing trifle.

Note to self: When breaking into your sister-in-law’s place either go blindfolded or call out to make sure she is decent first.  I don’t know who was more shocked when I walked in to find her stark naked tucking into the trifle.  Admittedly we’re experiencing one of the hottest springs since before dinosaurs roamed the earth but still, one should wear a robe when wandering about downstairs.

I have never seen Olly look so hungry before and it certainly wasn’t for Annie’s trifle.  If he’d drunk a bit more cider I think he would have just taken her, there and then, up against the fridge door.  He tried to laugh it off, they both did, but the underlying tension between them was as thick as Annie’s custard.  

This actually gives me hope.

The blog tour continues tomorrow with and they’ll be a review on

Welcome to Willow Cottage – throw open the shutters, let in the sea breeze and make yourself completely at home. Oh, and please do leave a comment in the Guestbook.

As landlady of Willow Cottage, the young widow Annie Butterworth is always on hand with tea, sympathy or strong Norfolk cider - whatever her colourful array of guests require.  A flick through the messages in the leather-bound cottage guestbook gives a tantalizing glimpse into the lives of everyone who passes through her doors.

This includes Annie herself - especially now celebrity crime writer Oliver Black, is back in town. He might grace the covers of gossip magazines with a different glamorous supermodel draped on his arm every week, but to Annie, he’s always just been Olly, the man who Annie shared her first kiss with.

Through the pages of the Guestbook Annie and Olly, along with all the guests that arrive at the seaside retreat, struggle with love, loss, mystery, joy, happiness, guilt…and the odd spot of naked rambling!

Forget sending postcards saying ‘wish you were here’ - one visit to Willow Cottage and you’ll wish you could stay forever.

Link to buy:

Now YOU can get involved too, here is our very own Guestbook online, take the time to visit and leave a comment, join in the fun and tell us what you thought of your experience. Meet new friends or be nosey and see what others have got up to before you!

Monday, 10 February 2014

Review - Made in Nashville by Mandy Baggot

Made in Nashville...feel the country!

An on-stage attack left Honor Blackwood with more scars than just the one on her face. It’s been ten years since she left her spot as Nashville’s brightest country music star. Is now the time to return? And is she brave enough to do it?

Country rebel and rock star, Jared ‘Jed’ Marshall is hot property on the Tennessee music scene in more ways than one. He’s wild, he’s sexy and everybody wants a piece of him. But when he sets his sights on Honor, is it pure attraction or just distraction on his mind?

Honor’s record label sign the ex-boyfriend that dumped her and suddenly going back to her old life is harder than she thought. Can she get a new contract? Will she get to perform at the Marlon Festival? Or will Dan Steele destroy everything?

When a secret from the past becomes public knowledge it’s no longer just about the music. Are all the people in her life lying to her to get what they want? And who is really behind the anonymous gifts she keeps getting sent?

Join the country scene to find out!


Made in Nashville – where the off-stage action’s as hot as the music!


Love ABC’s Nashville? Fall in love with a story that’ll drag you into the heart of the country music scene.

Battle scars, broken contracts and a returning star with a point to prove.  Fists are flying faster than award nominations and emotions run even higher.  

Country rebel and rock star, Jared ‘Jed’ Marshall is hot property on the Tennessee music scene in more ways than one. He’s wild, he’s sexy and everybody wants a piece of him. But when he sets his sights on singer Honor Blackwood, is it pure attraction or just distraction on his mind?

Visit the home of country music and get ready for the finger-picking read of the year!

What did I think?

I loved this book with all of my heart. A really unique story line for me: music being the main background with completely lovable characters, a great plot and a whole lot of lovin' going on!

Lots of internal conflict for both of the main characters made them both fiery, gutsy and determined. They were both adorable! As were the side characters. Loved Mia, Honor's friend! 

I could hear music being sung in my head and absolutely lived through every minute of this story. 

I do love a Mandy Baggot book! Always fast-paced, full of fun, with some hot love scenes, a lot of tension and a feeling that if you put the book down you're really missing out on something! Totally un-put-downable. 

A brilliant book - highly recommended! 

About the Author


Mandy Baggot is a romantic fiction author. In 2012 she won the Innovation in Romantic Fiction award at the UK’s Festival of Romance. Her self-published title, Strings Attached was also short-listed for the Best Author Published Read award.

Also in 2012 she signed with American publishing house, Sapphire Star Publishing, who produced her novels, Taking Charge and romantic suspense, Security.

In June 2013 she signed a two book deal with Harper Collins' digital first romance imprint, Harper Impulse.

She is a regular contributor to writing blogs and on-line magazine, LoveahappyendingLifestyle

Mandy loves mashed potato, white wine, country music, World’s Strongest Man, travel and handbags. She has appeared on ITV1’s Who Dares Sings and auditioned for The X-Factor.

Mandy is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and lives near Salisbury, Wiltshire, UK with her husband, two daughters and cats, Kravitz and Springsteen.

She is an advocate for women in business and belongs to the networking group Women on Wednesdays

Author Links



Facebook Author Page


Thursday, 6 February 2014

Pippa Croft Promo Blitz - The First Time We Met

The First Time We Met by Pippa Croft

I'm delighted today to be part of the promo blitz for Pippa Croft's book The First Time We Met.  

The book sounds amazing and is right at the top of my pile to be read! 

Here's a video that the Gosling Girls Book Tours ladies have created to celebrate the launch of Pippa's book.  It's all about people celebrating their first times.  

I'd like to share my most important first time! It was when I met the love of my life - my son Oliver.  I had a C-section and it was only when I heard him cry and the doctor held him up to us that I breathed a sigh of relief that he was here, he was safe and I was now a mom! From that day on, he has been and is my life! Being his mom is the best job in the world!

Here's a few other firsts for you to learn about. 

When US Senator's daughter, Lauren Cusack, arrives at the enchanting Wyckham College of Oxford University she hopes to mend her broken heart by throwing herself into her studies.
But then English aristocrat Alexander Hunt walks into her life and everything changes. Handsome, brooding, and with his own dark past to escape, Alexander is exactly what Lauren doesn't need - but she finds herself helplessly drawn towards him.

Both Alexander and Lauren know that they should stay away from each other... but sometimes desire is so powerful that it conquers all else.

The First Time We Met is the first novel in Pippa Croft's Oxford Blue Series. Fans of Sylvia Day, E L James and Beth Kery will love this compelling romance series.

About Pippa: Pippa Croft is the pen name of an award-winning romantic novelist. After studying English at Oxford, she worked as a copywriter and journalist before writing her debut novel, which won the RNA's New Writers' award and was later made into a TV movie. She lives in a village in the heart of England with her husband and daughter.

Lauren Cusack is an American student, newly arrived to start her master’s in Art History at Wyckham College, Oxford. As she unloaded her luggage, she glimpsed a strikingly handsome guy, and has wondered ever since who he is...

In spite of my words, my pulse rate spikes as I take in the dark brown hair and those quarterback shoulders. I know him. He’s the guy from the Range Rover.
He can’t be that much older than me, but there’s something behind those eyes that makes me think he’s lived much longer and seen so much more than I ever have or will. He glares down at me as if I’ve committed a crime.
‘You’ve been crying,’ he says.
‘No, I have not.’ But damn, my hand brushes over my cheek as I deny the obvious.
‘Yes, you have. Your eyes look red and your face is wet.’
‘So my contacts are irritating. Is there a law against it?’
His nostrils flare slightly. ‘Of course not. Wait.’ He pulls a clean white square from the pocket of his suit and his voice softens. ‘May I? There’s a lash in the corner of your eye. I don’t want to smudge your mascara any more than it already is. Tilt your head up, please.’
 It may be a request but the way he says it, there’s no room for negotiation.  I tilt and my heart thumps like a road drill. Reaching out, he dabs at the tear tracks on my cheek with his handkerchief. I know I ought to feel patronised but it’s such an unexpectedly tender gesture from this granite-hewn guy that I don’t want to stop him. As his fingers brush across my damp skin, there’s a tightening low in my belly that I can’t mistake for anger or nerves. As he touches me, my skin prickles all over and not in a bad way.
‘Just relax,’ he orders and I’m in no position to disobey with my gaze turned skyward. I feel the cool of metal softly graze my cheek and realise he has a ring on his little finger. This close, he smells of freshly laundered linen. No cologne, no booze, just cool and clean and composed.
 ‘That’s it.’
There’s a moment where I don’t think I will ever be able to move again, then I glance down and the eyelash is the tiniest thing on the tip of his little finger. And there’s the ring. A gold signet ring like my grandfather used to wear.
‘Thank you.’
 ‘A pleasure.’ His expression doesn’t match his words but he adds, ‘That didn’t hurt a bit, did it?’
If he says it doesn’t hurt, I guess it doesn’t. The wind is blowing through the cloisters and has pasted my damp dress to my body like shrink wrap. I feel naked before him and throw my arms around my chest, not that it’s any kind of protection from a gaze that seems to penetrate my flesh and bones.
A smile flickers over his face and for that brief second, his austerely handsome profile is transfused with warmth. My God, he is beautiful. Scary but divine. What is he doing here at Wyckham?
‘Don’t look so scared. I don’t bite.’