Jenny Kane: Coffee, cupcakes, chocolate and contemporary fiction / Jennifer Ash: Medieval crime with hints of Ellis Peters and Robin Hood

Tag: guest blog

Guest Post from Nell Peters: About 100 Years Ago…

I’m delighted to welcome back Nell Peters for her second ‘end of month’ guest blog of the year! This is a  cracking (and I don’t just mean Pavlova’s eggs) blog post…

Over to you Nell…

Hi Jenny!

I’m afraid that Pavlova the chicken is on the naughty perch at the moment and can’t come out to play. All the attention and fan mail she received after last month’s blog post went straight to her comb and she’s behaving disgracefully. A real poultry diva, in fact. She’s been horribly mean to birds that she deems inferior, has been strutting her stuff like she owns the place and making such a noise, Tim Peake can probably hear her up in his space station. But worst of all, she’s taken to leaving very large deposits right outside the back door. Eeew! That’s it – I’m withdrawing the oxygen of publicity that she craves even more than her dried meal worms, and whether this is a permanent or temporary measure depends entirely upon her behaviour in the immediate future. She can put that in her beak and smoke it. Pavlova is in the hen house.


Now where was I?

Oh yes, I took a short break recently to meet up with an old friend. About a hundred years ago, I used to share a flat in Kew Gardens with someone I will refer to only as M, to protect the guilty. In case you were wondering, Kew Gardens is a place (now referred to as a village by those fortunate enough to be able to afford the zillion pound price tags of property there) in West London and not just the hallowed centre of horticultural excellence – ergo, we didn’t actually live in a potting shed. There was another girl too – Valerie, but M and I knew each other from ghastly temp jobs we had with British Gas and Valerie was a bit of an also-ran. I wonder whatever happened to her – she was something of a miserable cow (turned her nose up at the rot-gut sherry we used to drink by the bottle, I can’t imagine why) and totally lacked any sense of humour as I recall. Some sort of local government worker, I think, which could explain the comedic bypass.

On Friday evenings M and I used to frequent the local wine bar, run by a rather brassy dame in her forties (she seemed ancient to us then!) who had very amusing affectations, airs and graces, until she’d had one too many glasses – which she did frequently – then all hell let loose and dancing on the tables ensued. Not a pretty sight, as she was a rather large lady, who either didn’t believe in or chose not to invest in controlling underwear. Brassy wasn’t the only entertainment to be had chez Garfield’s – a guy used to sing and play acoustic guitar (both badly), expecting punters to buy him copious amounts of alcohol to keep his tonsils irrigated. It was actually worth buying him a glass or two for the bliss of silence during the (all too short) time it took him to neck the booze.

Kew is within a long stone’s throw of Richmond upon Thames, just two stops on the Tube – where we could have had a much wider choice of great venues to sup the vino, most with some form of decent live music, but there’s a lot to be said for being a short walk from home when the time comes to stagger out the door of a hostelry, especially in Winter. Besides, I always suspected that M used to fancy the singer and that terribly attractive aggressive snarl he shared, if nobody applauded his questionable vocal efforts.

Kew Gardens

Kew Gardens

I was at the flat for only a short time before I got a proper job and moved in not a million miles away with the OH. Valerie and M let my vacant room to a rather dishy Australian guy – and were both bitterly disappointed when they found out he was gay. Unfortunately, he repaid their hospitality by hightailing it back to Oz less than three months later – perhaps he suddenly remembered where he’d left his didgeridoo.

M’s life and mine took very different directions; over the years, I produced a few sprogs and we moved the family to a falling-down house in Norfolk. M visited as frequently as she could and, child duties permitting, I went to see her for some very welcome R&R. Wine was drunk. In abundance. She neither married nor had children – perhaps being the oldest of six had put her off – and eventually moved back to Scotland, from whence she hailed. The visits in both directions became less frequent because of the sheer distance involved and the responsibilities that life throws at us – it didn’t help that the OH would spend long periods working overseas, leaving me in sole charge of four smelly boys.

But children grow more independent with age and gradually they were no longer tied to my apron strings, so a new period evolved in the social lives of M and me. For several years, we have been meeting up intermittently in a variety of UK locations (let’s hear it for bargain air fares and cheap deals on train fares!) – for instance, Edinburgh, Dublin and Newcastle, the latter where we took in the most excruciating ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’ art exhibition (for want of a better description!) at the Baltic Centre. Well I say ‘took in’, but M stomped off in her size eight Doc Martens after about ten seconds – mumbling obscenities – to stick needles in her eyes. But was it art? Actually, no. A bit of a turkey is the kindest description I can manage – but I suppose you have to admire the exhibitor’s nerve. Plus, it was a few years ago now and I can still recall its sheer ghastliness in some detail (I didn’t have M’s nerve to exit, stage left, in a flurry of outrage at the flagrant waste of tax payers’ moolah, and persevered) so it did make an impression of sorts.

We met again most recently in Cambridge – I am now granny to six and M has a huge number of nephews, plus just one niece, so two old ladies sitting in deckchairs, to paraphrase Morecambe and Wise. J She took (very!) early retirement and is travelling a lot, so I was lucky she could fit me in! In all likelihood we will never again Run the World with Bob Geldof (though I’m not sure that he actually ran the first time!), or go on severely bracing hikes here, there and everywhere – or indeed puff, pant and wheeze our way to the top of Arthur’s Seat. That always sounds faintly rude, somehow. I did draw the line, though, at accompanying M to a Wham concert – she bought herself the most awful bright blue synthetic cap thing with ‘George’ plastered all over it, and actually wore it there and back on public transport!

Our main exercise now when we are face to face is talking, catching up generally – and, of course, drinking wine, though not so much as we used to as we’re older and so much wiser. Yeah right!

Just to prove what a wino I am (it was M’s fault – she led me astray), even my two crime novels published by Accent Press are drawn to the bottle.

Nell Peters books

Hostile Witness can be found at and

By Any Other Name is at

See you next month for some more drivel? By the end of July, both Jenny and I will have celebrated our birthdays – actually on the same day, although I suspect she’s decades older than me … J NP


Another wonderful blog!! Many thanks Nell!

I shall be raising my coffee up to you on 13th July.

Happy reading,

Jenny x



Guest Blog from Marie Laval: One night under the stars

I’m delighted to welcome fellow Accent Press author, Marie Laval, back to my site to talk about her new release, The Lion’s Embrace. I have to say, it sounds fascinating.

Over to you Marie…

Thank you very much Jenny for welcoming me on your blog today to talk about my latest release. THE LION’S EMBRACE is my second historical romance and takes place mostly in North Africa, in Algeria to be exact, in 1845. Lucas Saintclair is hired as a guide by Harriet Montague to rescue her father, a British Museum archaeologist, who she believes was captured by a gang of Tuaregs in the far South of the country.

ML Blog Lion'sEmbraceAccent

Writing THE LION’S EMBRACE was a fascinating process, not only because I got to fall in love with my hero (I know, it sounds very, very corny, but it’s true!), but also because I discovered the beautiful landscapes Lucas and Harriet travelled through on their way to Tamanrasset, and the culture of the people they encountered. One particular group of people are at the centre of the plot: the Tuaregs, also called ‘The People of the Veil’ or the ‘Blue Men of the Desert’ because of the indigo veil all men have to wear from around the age of fifteen.

ML Blog touareg2

I surrounded myself with photos of the Sahara, of oases and the magnificent Hoggar mountain range. I read Tuareg poems and stories and listened to music so that I could get a real ‘feel’ for the place and the people since I couldn’t travel there myself.

Hoggar Mountains

Hoggar Mountains

One song in particular caught my imagination and I played it over and over again as I wrote THE LION’S EMBRACE. It’s a modern song and I have no idea what they are singing about, but I find the melody poignant and haunting, especially the monochord violin, the imzad, which can be heard throughout.

ML Blog imzad2

The imzad is a traditional Tuareg instrument only played by women. It is at the heart of the Tuareg culture and society because of its link to the Achak, the code of honour every Tuareg must live by. Those who stray from the path and commit dishonourable acts are said to have lost the ability to ‘hear the imzad’ in their heart and are therefore cast out of their family and their tribe.

Here is the link to the song:

As they travel across the Sahara desert, Lucas Saintclair and Harriet Montague spend a few days with a Tuareg caravan. Every evening, they sit under the stars and listen to musicians playing the imzad and to stories and poems. The story-teller pulls out round pebbles out of his ‘bag of tales’, which is a skin pouch. Each pebble represents a different story and he tells the stories in the order the pebbles were drawn from the bag.

This is an excerpt from THE LION’S EMBRACE when Lucas and Harriet are at the Tuareg camp. The tale is based on a genuine Tuareg story.

The women played their instruments all along, drawing long, monochord sounds that at times sounded almost like laments and perfectly matched the mood of the audience, silent and attentive under the starry sky.

            By the end of the evening, Harriet shivered with cold. Lucas wrapped his arm around her shoulders to keep her warm.

‘The brave is reaching the end of his journey,’ he translated, his voice low and a little hoarse. ‘After wandering in the desert for weeks, he finally finds his beloved’s camp, but it is empty under the stars. Only the cruel wind answers his prayers, and as the cool moonlight kisses his lips, the vast spaces full of solitude chill his heart. So he lies on the sand and waits to die.’ He paused. ‘And that’s love for you. Brings you nothing but pain.’

            Despite his slightly mocking tone, the words made her dreamy.

            ‘It’s beautiful, and so sad.’ She found his hand, squeezed a little. ‘Love isn’t all pain, you know. It can be the most wonderful feeling in the world.’

            She should know.


Thank you again Jenny for welcoming me on your blog.

Here is the blurb for THE LION’S EMBRACE

Algiers, 1845

Arrogant, selfish and dangerous, Lucas Saintclair is everything Harriet Montague dislikes in a man. He is also the best guide in the whole of the Barbary States, the only man who can rescue her archaeologist father from the gang of Tuareg fighters that has kidnapped him. As Harriet embarks on a perilous journey across Algeria with Saintclair and Archibald Drake, her father’s most trusted friend, she discovers a bewitching but brutal land where nothing is what it seems. Who are these men intent on stealing her father’s ransom? What was her father hoping to find in Tuareg queen Tin Hinan’s tomb? Is Lucas Saintclair really as callous as he claims—or is he a man haunted by a past he cannot forgive?

Dangerous passions engulf Harriet’s heart in the heat of the Sahara. Secrets of lost treasures, rebel fighters, and a sinister criminal brotherhood threaten her life and the life of the man she loves.

Does forever lie in the lion’s embrace?


THE LION’S EMBRACE is available from

and in paperback from Áccent Press

You can find me at

MarieLaval (2)

Author Bio

Originally from Lyon in France, I have been living in the lovely Rossendale Valley, Lancashire, for the past few years. I spend most of my spare time dreaming up romantic stories. A SPELL IN PROVENCE, my first contemporary romantic suspense, was released by Áccent Press earlier this year. ANGEL HEART, my debut historical romance and THE LION’S EMBRACE have just been re-released by Áccent Press too. And watch out for DANCING FOR THE DEVIL, another historical romance, which will be published in the autumn …


Many thanks to Marie for such an interesting blog. Another book to add to my ‘to read’ list!

Happy reading,

Jenny x


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