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

Tag: novelist

Opening Lines with Chris Chalmers: Dinner At The Happy Skeleton

This week’s opening lines features the latest novel by Chris Chalmers.

I have to say, Dinner at the Happy Skeleton, sounds a hell of a lot of fun!

Over to you Chris…

Dinner At The Happy Skeleton – The Blurb:

Dan is the kind of gay man for whom the Noughties might have been named. Warm, witty and serially promiscuous, his heart melts at the sight of a chocolate brown Labrador — but with men it’s a different matter. He’s thirty-nine and as single as ever, not counting the couple he just met online. An arrangement that looks oddly like it’s going somewhere, until Dan gets fired from his job in advertising. With time-out and a payoff in his pocket, summer presents a world of possibilities; just as the memories surface of the ex he blames for the thinly-veiled chaos of his life.

From London to Ljubljana, a yen for closure sets Dan on the trail of the man who fed his ego into a shredder. Through an eerie encounter at the home of the Olympiad and a sleepover at the Dutch Embassy, run-ins with a fading porn star and the celestial manifestation of Margaret Thatcher, he ultimately confronts his past. Until, with his Big Four-O rapidly approaching, destiny beckons from where he least expects it.

‘In Dan, Chris Chalmers has created his most appealing protagonist yet … An eye-opening, always entertaining romp through modern sexual mores, with a sweet beating heart of true feeling at its core.’ SUZI FEAY, literary journalist


If you’re planning a late summer getaway, here’s a suggestion for a poolside page-turner with a difference.

Literary critic and Booker Prize nominee Philip Hensher called Dinner At The Happy Skeleton, ‘the perfect novel for a sunny afternoon. Full of charm and vim and sauce…’ And unless it’s the last white-chocolate Magnum in the shop, I’m not about to argue with him about anything.

Expect mid-life crises, bed-hopping, fun and adventures off the tourist trail, as Dan the out-of-work advertising man blows his latest redundancy cheque on a hedonistic summer of self discovery. What begins as the chance to take time out from his career turns into a quest to trace the ex that serial-singleton Dan blames for the smouldering ruins of his love-life.

Working on the principle that asking any author for an objective view of their novel is like asking Donald Trump to recommend a skyscraper, I’ll say no more. Try the first 500 words of Dinner At The Happy Skeleton for yourself. And if you like them, get in quick because the ebook is 99p till the end of August.

I call that sauce for your sun-lounger and a bargain to boot.



I love waking up next to Jack. He is five foot five, comedy small, so not what you’d call any of my types. But his skin is naturally smooth as a baby’s; a bonus in a man of thirty-four. I nuzzle his head under my chin and try not to think of the spider-legs running amok over my own shoulders. The red lights on his ceiling say 07:18. Another seven minutes till we are officially behind schedule.

‘I need a slash,’ he growls, in a voice cracked by dawn.

‘Do Thunderbird Four,’ I say. ‘If you loved me you would …’

Jack is cute, with chipmunk eyes and cheeks you want to bite. He is a living Action Man, compact and perfectly proportioned with hair like a tennis ball. But he doesn’t love me really.

Thank God.

He tuts as his head disappears. The hummock under the duvet shifts and deflates until his feet appear at the bottom of the bed. The rest of him follows as he folds into a heap on the carpet and crawls for the door … It lacks the smooth entry and splosh of the little yellow submarine exiting the belly of Thunderbird Two. But it makes me laugh, every time.

At that moment there’s a clink of china and a swish of designer silk as the bedroom door opens, narrowly missing Jack’s head.

‘Brew,’ says Phil, stepping over him.

He puts three mugs on the bedside table. Then he slips out of his dressing gown and climbs back into the bed.


A threesome isn’t something you go looking for. No, scratch that – it’s exactly what you go looking for when you’ve been around the block as many times as I have. You just don’t expect it to turn into anything.

I met Jack and Phil online the previous August. We chatted, suggestively, two or three times. I enjoyed the frisson of not knowing which of the two guys in the photos I was talking to, and since for once they were both quite tasty,it didn’t matter.

As for the day we met – well, that was all quite Cynthia Payne …

So I’m sweaty and hungover, eager for fun if knackered from the night before, as I trudge up Denmark Hill with a rucksack full of sex toys. It takes me a while to find the address in a neat and tidy street that feels (no pun intended) anally suburban. Multi-hued children on tricycles clatter over paving stones, and though the net curtains don’t actually twitch like flamenco hems it feels like they should.

The taller one answers the door and shows me into the kitchen, where the shorter one is emptying the dishwasher from Sunday lunch. A tiny telly plays on the granite worktop as I tear a can of Fosters from the four-pack I picked up at Sainsbury’s.

‘I didn’t know what to bring,’ I say, my rucksack betraying otherwise as it thuds on the terracotta flags.


Chris Chalmers lives in South-West London with his partner, a quite famous concert pianist. He has been the understudy on Mastermind, visited 40 different countries, and swum with iguanas. Aside from his novels, his proudest literary achievement is making Martina Navratilova ROFLAO on Twitter.

You’ll find him on Facebook @chrischalmersnovelist, on Twitter @CCsw19, and at

BUY LINK, paperback and ebook: 


Another fabulous set of opening lines!

Thanks Chris.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

Guest Post from Sonja Price: A Flight of Fancy

I’m delighted to welcome fellow novelist Sonja Price to my site today to talk about her amazing novel, The Giants Look Down.

Why not grab a cuppa, put your feet up for five minutes, and have a read.

Over to you Sonja…                              

I’ve never been to Kashmir, but I’ve based my novel THE GIANTS LOOK DOWN there. What a cheek you may say! But writers go where their imaginations take them and once mine had been ignited – by a report on the car radio of the Great Earthquake of 2005- I couldn’t put the spirit back in the bottle. I discovered that the Vale of Kashmir is breathtakingly beautiful. Some of the highest mountains in the world cradle a valley lush in sycamore woods and fields of saffron interspersed with a necklace of lakes. A spectacular place to set a story, it also boasts a rich history of maharajas, princes and princesses. But this paradise has been spoilt by strife since the mostly Muslim Vale of Kashmir chose to become part of its Hindu neighbour, India. Two wars have been fought over it and India and Pakistan still stand their ground on a glacier at the highest battlefield of the world, where avalanches claim more lives than armed conflict.

There must be a story in there somewhere, I thought! What would happen if a 10-year-old Hindu girl called Jaya decided to become a doctor much to chagrin of her mother and the patriarchal society of 1960s Kashmir? My aim was solely to entertain and amuse the reader.  I did not want to take sides yet at the same time I tried to depict the situation as sensitively and genuinely as possible and drawing attention to the plight of Kashmiris could surely not be a bad thing in itself, I thought.

I wanted to show Jaya growing up and negotiating the rapids of love when she falls for the son of the family she later stays with in Scotland. Does she have to choose between dashing Alastair, a student of architecture and lover of jazz music, and her dream of becoming a doctor and returning to Kashmir to build a clinic far up in the mountains? Well you’ll just have to read the book to find out!

Going to Kashmir, if only in my mind, albeit with the help of online resources, picture books and interviews with Indians, has been a wonderful journey that started in my car!

Blurb: At the age of 10, Jaya Vaidya decides to follow in her father’s footsteps and become a doctor against her mother’s wishes and all that the patriarchal community of 1906s Kashmir expects of her. When disaster strikes, Jaya is faced with obstacles as insurmountable as the Himalayas. She is transplanted to Scotland, where she has to navigate both a foreign culture and the rapids of love. Just how far will she go to achieve her dream? (Published by Robert Hale, 2016)

Find a copy of THE GIANTS LOOK DOWN here:


Author Bio: I live in Somerset but am always hopping on and off planes because I teach English at Jena University in Germany. I studied at the University of East Anglia and completed a PhD in English Literature. I’m a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and my short stories have appeared in Stories For Homes, the Shelter Anthology of Short Stories and In these Tangles, Beauty Lies, an anthology in aid of the Beanstalk Trust for children with reading difficulties. My debut novel The Giants Look Down came out in 2016 and made me a finalist for the Joan Hessayon Award.



Twitter:                       @PriceSonja

Facebook:                   Sonja Price Author

You can find THE GIANTS LOOK DOWN as a paperback or e-book on:


Many thanks Sonja, for a brilliant blog.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

Guest Interview- Meet Rachel Brimble

I’m delighted to welcome Rachel Brimble back to my site today- let’s get chatting!

1)  Tell us a little about yourself.

I live in a small market town just thirty minutes from the thriving Georgian city of Bath in one direction and the beautiful Cotswolds countryside in the other. My husband and I will soon celebrate 22 years together and we have two teenager daughters. My mum says her payback time will soon be upon me… 😉

2)  How do you organise your life between writing and being a mum and wife?

With difficulty and ignorance of the housework, LOL! I am lucky enough to stay at home so I have a strict schedule during the week when I write from 8.30-3.30pm Monday to Friday regardless of the temptation to do anything else.

Once the kids are home, I spent the rest of the time doing household chores, shopping, running them to and from after-school clubs, friends etc. In between, I catch as much time as possible on the laptop, but always finish by 7pm. Then it’s family time—which more often than not involves the TV.

Weekends are for family too—but if they’re doing their own thing…you know where to find me!


3)  Your heroine in What Belongs To Her is Sasha Todd – a manager of the town’s funfair. How did you research Sasha’s role?

I think with romance it’s the emotional and romantic arc that readers enjoy the most so I tend to focus on what’s happening internally with the characters rather than their jobs. However, with Sasha, I relied a lot of my memories of a fair that used to come to our hometown every Easter and the people who used to run it. As the fair was there for three weeks we often used to get chatting to the people running the rides and their kids. I was fascinated with their life and jobs and hope I’ve managed to transpose their passion onto the page.

4)  What are you currently working on?

I’m due to polish my fifth Superromance next week after it has ‘rested’ for the last fortnight. That book will then go to my agent for a read through before it wings its way to my editor.

In the meantime, I have been plotting my fourth Victorian romance for eKensington. This will be the fourth book in a linked series, although all the books can be read as stand-alone stories. At the moment, this book will be set in Bath against the issue of Foundling Hospitals in the late 19th century. I am loving the research far too much and yet to put my fingers to the keyboard…

5)  What are your favourite three reads of all time (to date), and why?

Oooh, tough question! Okay, let me think…

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes – This book is amazing. Such a story! I won’t give too much away but cannot recommend this book highly enough. Laughter, tears, a moving dilemma and a subtle yet perfect romance thread. Just brilliant…

Body Double by Tess Gerritsen – I adore Tess Gerritsen, especially her Rizzoli & Isles series but Body Double stands out as one of my favourites. For me, this is crime writing at its best––I didn’t stop turning the pages and thought about the book the entire time I wasn’t reading.

The Bride Quartet by Nora Roberts – I’m cheating here because this is a set of four books (Vision in White, Bed of Roses, Savor the Moment & Happy Ever After), set against a wedding planning business ran by four childhood friends. Nora Roberts is the undisputed queen of American romance and these books kept me riveted from start to finish.

Me & Nora 3

Rachel with Nora Roberts

Blurb- What Belongs To Her

She’s ready to take back what’s hers

Since the moment a local crime boss claimed ownership of her family’s fairground, Sasha Todd has dreamed of righting the wrong. Now it’s time to act, and backing down from the man’s estranged son is definitely not an option. After all, giving up her legacy to hot-blooded John Jordon means losing the chance to finally heal the wounds in her past.

Stopping John in his tracks—and resisting the sizzle between them—is Sasha’s best defence. But there’s more to him than she thought, which changes everything. With what matters most at stake, she’ll have to risk a brand-new future with John, or walk away from the man whose heart belongs to her.

Buy Links:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Barnes & Noble



Rachel lives with her husband and two young daughters in a small town near Bath in the UK. After having several novels published by small US presses, she secured agent representation in 2011. In 2012, she sold two books to Harlequin Superromance and a further three in 2013. She also writes Victorian romance for Kensington–her debut was released in April 2013 and she has since signed for three more.

Rachel is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and Romance Writers of America. When she isn’t writing, you’ll find Rachel with her head in a book or walking the beautiful English countryside with her family and beloved black Lab, Max. Her dream place to live is Bourton-on-the-Water in South West England.

She likes nothing more than connecting and chatting with her readers and fellow romance writers. Rachel would love to hear from you!







Many thanks for dropping by today Rachel!

Happy reading everyone,


Bonded Heart: Guest Post by Jane Jackson

I’m delighted to have the wonderful Jane Jackson with me today. Fellow Accent author, and wonderful e-friend, Jane’s latest novel, Bonded Heart, has just been released. So what’s it all about?


Over to you Jane…

pen and paper

What inspired me to write the book?

In early C19th Cornwall smuggling was a way of life. But the risks were enormous. If caught, depending on the justice who tried the case, a man could be sentenced to transportation. This threw his wife and children onto the mercy of the parish, which meant the workhouse.

Corrupt justices – and there were many – turned a blind eye to ‘free-trading’ in exchange for a share of the profits. Some even financed boats themselves. They imposed harsh sentences on captured crews of rival boats while letting their own off with minimal punishment.

In the 18th century there was no officially organised police force. The administration of justice was one of the responsibilities of Cornwall’s landed gentry. So I thought: what if my hero, Branoc Casvellan, is the son of a corrupt justice and has spent his adult life trying to repair the damage to the family name caused by his father?

What if he falls in love with a young woman totally unsuitable for a man in his position? One whose background and circumstances challenge his determination to administer justice without fear or favour?

Then what if something happens that makes him dependent on her?


A short extract:

As the Justice swung back to her, Roz flinched at the anguish in his gaze. ‘How do you know?’ he demanded.

‘I don’t, not for certain. But I’ve seen the disease. A relative – ‘ she stopped. ‘Fever, back pains and vomiting are all signs.’

‘He was at the inn?’

After an instant’s hesitation she nodded. ‘But he had drunk very little.’ She would not lie until she had no choice, and that time would come all too soon.

His blue gaze was unreadable as it held hers. ‘You suspected smallpox and yet you brought him home?’

Shock widened Roz’s gaze. ‘Where else would I have taken him?’

‘No, I mean why you? Why did you bring him?’

She shrugged helplessly. ‘Jack couldn’t leave the inn and Toby was busy. Besides, I was the best person to do it because I had cowpox as a child so – ‘

‘You’re safe.’ A muscle jumped in Casvellan’s jaw. ‘What about Jack and Nell Hicks? Do they know?’

Roz shook her head quickly. ‘I didn’t tell them. I didn’t want to worry them without a good reason. Dr Avers – ‘

‘Will be sent for. Meanwhile, regardless of what ails my brother, he will need a nurse. You,’ he was brusque. ‘You must stay. My mother is not suited to such a task. Indeed, she…’ He made a brief dismissive gesture. ‘Nor can I expose my sister to risk.’

‘Me?’ Roz’s head spun as shock and yearning to agree battled powerful reasons to refuse. Once word reached Will Prowse that she was staying at Trescowe to help the Justice he would never trust her again. If she were here she would not have to see him.

‘I can’t. My job – I need – ‘

‘Whatever Hicks is paying you, I’ll triple it.’

Her head jerked up, but just as quickly she turned away, terrified of betraying herself. He knew – who better – that she needed money, and his offer was generous.

‘You must stay.’ Strain roughened his voice, but his tone forbade argument. ‘I’ve no time to look elsewhere. Davy needs you now. Nor do I want a stranger. I need someone I can trust.’

As guilt swamped her with a scalding flush from hairline to toes, she recalled his forbearance with her mother and his kindness to Tom. Turning to the cart so he should not see her shame, she nodded. ‘As you wish, sir.’


Before the formation of police forces the law was administered by local Justices. Though some were men of integrity, others used the law for their own ends. Bonded Heart is set in the early 1800s when the war with France, sky-high food prices, and poor harvests meant that smuggling was the only way of avoiding starvation.  

Branoc Casvellan became a Justice to try and wipe out the stain on the family name caused by his father’s behaviour. An honourable man who tempers justice with mercy, he’s appalled by his attraction to Roz Trevaskis, the illegitimate daughter of a drunken whore.

When Casvellan’s brother catches smallpox, it falls to Roz to nurse him – bringing her into close contact with her handsome employer. But how will Branoc – and his family – react when the truth about Roz’s past, and her involvement with the local smuggling trade comes out?  





A professional writer for over thirty years, and twice shortlisted for Awards: the Romantic Novel of the Year Award in 2002, and the Rona Historical Prize in 2011, Jane Jackson has had twenty-eight books published.   Cornwall has been her home since she was two, and the county’s rugged scenery, fascinating history and pioneering inventors have provided inspiration and settings for her historical adventure romances.


Buy Links for Bonded Heart-  


Thank you ever so much for coming to visit today Jane!

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny xx


The Need to Write

It’s pouring with rain outside- it often is down here in the South West of England. Even though it is only 8am in the morning, the corner of the cafe in which I sit and write every morning is filling up fast.

I’m a familiar face in here. I usually sit at the same table- although only because it has good light – I’m not precious about sitting in the same spot or anything. Consequently I am something of a fixture and fitting, and people that come to the cafe regularly see me here, writing away, every time they come through the door. There is even a rumour that I keep a rolled up sleeping bag and pillow under the table, and never actually go home.

Costa ACOC

About ten minutes ago, one of the lovely regulars came and asked me a question I’m pretty sure they’ve been dying to ask for months. ‘Why are you always writing, don’t you ever get a day off?’

It’s a good question. One my husband asks pointedly every now and then.

The answer is simple- well ‘simple’ is probably pushing it!

I need to write.

Don’t confuse this with being the same as ‘I want to write.’ That is a different thing altogether.

pen and paper

Once upon a time I did want to write. I dreamt of completed stories, and maybe one day having a book all of my own.

These days it’s an addiction. An unstoppable, nail biting, obsession of disappointment and triumph. A roller coaster I can’t imagine ever getting off.

I used to fit my writing around my job and my life, now it is very much the other way around. As a consequence of course I get massive hits of guilt. So, rather than giving my job less time, I give it more; as I live in fear of letting my employers down, and am frequently to be found processing spread-sheets late into the night.

Then comes the real guilt- when you find yourself only half listening to what your child has been up to at school because you have just thought of a killer line for your latest book and if you don’t write it down NOW, you’ll actually explode!exploding head


My children (who luckily for me are both very creative in their own right, and totally get the feeling of absorption which producing something unique brings), are wonderful. Whenever I apologise to them for being only half as attentive a parent as I should be, they tell me off for being daft. Telling me they are just fine thank you very much- and could they have a life to karate, their friend’s house, the cafe now please…

Sometimes I look around at my undusted house, with the fluff on the carpet sometimes reaching epidemic proportions, and feel very sorry for my husband. He didn’t sign up for this. When we met and married almost 18 years ago, I was almost the complete opposite of who I am now. My home was cleaned and scrubbed to within an inch of its life. Dust was captured long before it had the chance to settle, and it was a rare day when there wasn’t a fresh cake baking in the over. And somehow, alongside all this, I had 3 part time jobs and was doing a PhD.

My husband must miss that multitalented woman, domestic goddess, and fellow academic. Sometimes I think he deserves a medal for putting up with me, because- to get back to the point of this blog- I really do only have a one week off a year for a holiday, along with a few random days off at Christmas and Easter each year. Not because I have a maverick boss yelling at me, not because I am forced to- but because I can’t stop. I just can’t.

JK facebook banner

Okay, there are lots of deadlines to deal with, and there are times when I am genuinely very much up against time- but often I have to work because- well, I have to work! If I don’t I’m a ratty, fidgety, grumpy person who is in serious danger of losing my usually permanent smile.

And why wouldn’t I smile all the time- I am addicted to the best job in the world!!

So be warned anyone out here who hopes to write a book some day. You too could also be kidnapped by the world of the imagination- a world that is so much safer than the real one, because you are always in charge. You get to pick the words that shape the lives of everyone you invent- a powerful narcotic indeed…. (Oh- and if you do want to risk it and write-make sure you are married to a very very understanding husband or wife!!!)

Happy Reading

Jenny x





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