Friday, February 19, 2010

A Long Lived Romance but Short Lived Valentine's Day Enthusiasm by Lyn McCulloch

The last of this year's tales of Valentine's Day comes from Lyn McCulloch...

My husband and I have been best friends since I was twelve and he was thirteen.

There’s a complicated story of my first marriage and divorce and a whole load of history, before we finally got together as a couple. By then, trying to be romantic would just have seemed silly. He considers romance a load of nonsense and Valentine’s Day only of interest to card-making companies.

Many years ago, we had a very busy year when he moved jobs to join an old colleague who was just setting up a company – literally a three men and a dog set-up which meant he worked very long hours. As we'd also just moved house, life was more than a little fraught.

Given his cynicism, you can imagine my amazement, and delight, when, on Valentine’s Day 1991, I received an enormous and very beautiful bouquet, together with the requisite slightly slushy card. Surprised? No, I was astounded.

He blushed prettily when he came home and was suitably self-deprecating, but it earned him lots of brownie points. Several days later, he admitted that his boss, a family man with a paternalistic attitude to his employees, had ordered flowers for his own wife, and while he was at it, had included those of the two guys who were slaving away building a new company with him. “A happy company needs happy wives,” was his explanation.

For ten years, this charade continued. Oddly enough, when my husband left the company and we moved to start a whole new life as hoteliers, the bouquets stopped – a gesture never to be repeated.

Lyn and Kate's Moonwalk:

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A Most Unusual Valentine's Day Present by Liz Harris

NWS member Liz Harris shares a very different Valentine's Day gift...

The children were very young - 2 and 3 - we had no money at all, and a house that needed a lot of work done on it. There certainly was nothing to spend on luxuries.

When I woke up on the morning of the 14th February - later than usual because the boys had had a disturbed night - I saw that my husband had already got up.

Trotting downstairs, bleary-eyed, I tried not to hope that he'd bought me some chocolates or flowers: I knew that we didn't have a penny to spare. I looked around the downstairs of the house, but he was nowhere to be seen, so I began to get breakfast ready for the boys.

Just before they'd finished their breakfast, I heard my husband return. He came straight into the kitchen and put a white plastic bag on to the table in front of me. It was the sort of bag that you get given in a butcher's shop. I looked at it curiously, wondering what it was: I hadn't asked him to get me anything from the shops. And there was no ribbon on it, nor a bow, which would have suggested that it was a gift.

"It's for you," he said. "Happy Valentine's Day."

Inside were 2lbs of lamb cutlets.

I LOVE lamb, but my husband has always LOATHED it. He has never been able to eat it and he can't even bear the smell of lamb cooking. I have never cooked lamb when he's in the house; not even when he's away for a short period of time as the smell lingers.

I cooked the cutlets that night, and the boys and I ate them. I enjoyed every single minute of my treat. As for my husband, he chose to do some of the things that needed to be done to the outside of the house during the following couple of weeks.

Now, whenever I smell lamb cooking, be it in a house or in a restaurant, I think back to that Valentine's Day about 27 years ago, which was the last time that I cooked lamb when my husband was likely to be around.

Liz Harris

Follow me on Twitter @lizharriswriter

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Blue Bowl Filled With Red Hearts Equals Magic by Victoria Connelly

Author Victoria Connelly shares a tale of Valentine's Day romance...

Before my husband was my husband, he was a very romantic boyfriend! I remember one Valentine's Day in particular. I was living in a tiny rented flat and he made me leave the living room whilst he prepared a surprise for me. I couldn't think what it was especially when he called me back through a few minutes later. The lights had been turned off and there in the middle of the room sat a beautiful blue glass bowl filled with water. There were red heart-shaped candles floating in it and it made the tiny room look absolutely magical! I'll never forget it. In fact, I remember it every time I see our lovely blue bowl which now has pride of place in our kitchen.

Hard-up florist Molly Bailey has just won a fortune in the National Lottery. And she wants to get rid of it - fast! Tom Mackenzie is on the verge of losing his job. He needs one hell of a story if he hopes to secure his future in journalism. And his luck may have just come in. With a strong belief that sharing her good fortune is the only way forward, Molly unwittingly becomes the most sought-after person in the country as she distributes her wealth to the masses. With only her terrier pup, Fizz, and her trusty Beetle for company, Molly embarks on the journey of her life. But with Tom hot on her heels, will she succeed before her family and the media catch up with her? And, with Tom leading the pack, would that really be such a bad thing?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Tale of Love at First Sight by Sarah Duncan

Sarah Duncan shares a tale of love that lasted a lifetime...

It's London, 1942. A young medical student is walking down the staircase at Guy's Hospital when he sees a pretty red head looking a bit lost in the reception area. She's 18, straight out of school and is about to train as a nurse. He decides there and then he's going to marry her.

But there's a war on. He's posted overseas and isn't demobbed until 1947. Back in the UK, he marries the pretty nurse he's been writing to for the last five years.

Fast forward 60 years - four children, eight grandchildren, six cats, several hamsters and one rogue rabbit later - and my parents are holding hands, as they often do. But this day, Valentine's Day 2009, there's a difference. My beloved father is dying.

He never sent my mother a card, or brought flowers home. But as the final goodbyes were being said, I don't think there could have been more love between a man and a woman.

Sex, love.....and pasta

When Michael tells Natalie that he 'needs space', she’s devastated. She thought he was the love of her life but now Michael’s found himself a new girlfriend. So much for space. Natalie tries speed-dating, but how could she move on when she's still yearning for Michael? One of her speedy dates is Guy and, despite the lack of chemistry, at least she's now got a date for her best friend's wedding. But past indiscretions are about to come to light. Natalie needs to escape. Guy happens to own a flat she can borrow... in Rome! There Natalie makes some fabulous new friends and discovers who puts the Rome into Romeo. She's falling in love – but is it with Rome, or with someone she finds there?

Follow Sarah on Twitter @sarahduncan1

Monday, February 15, 2010

Melinda Hammond/Sarah Mallory Talks About A Florist's Mistake or Was It A Secret Admirer

Woman of mystery Melinda Hammond/Sarah Mallory talks about a special Valentine's Day...

Nothing can compare with the excitement of Valentine’s Day when that anonymous card lands on the doormat. Oooh, the thrill of having an unknown admirer! But when you have been together with the same partner for a long time (I won’t go into details, just saying that we are well into our third decade of married life) it can be difficult to maintain that romantic spark.

Then a couple of years ago, I had a very memorable Valentine’s Day.

I was at work in the office when I had a call from our receptionist to say that a bouquet had arrived for me. Sure enough, when I went into reception there was a beautiful bunch of long-stem red roses and gypsophila. It came with a standard Valentine’s Day card and message, no name of course, but it was not a surprise, since dh always sends me flowers for Valentine’s Day.

But then, an hour later, an identical bouquet arrived for me! Now, working for one of the largest employers in a small town I was always ordering flowers from our local florist, and I knew exactly where these bouquets had originated. I also know that our florist is, to put it politely, very artistic and prone to making errors. A few judicious enquiries soon confirmed my suspicion that I had been sent a duplicate bouquet in error (I will now confess that my “judicious enquiries” were made late in the day, when there was no chance that my friendly florist would ask me to send the flowers back!)

So I went home very happily, laden down with roses and was arranging them in every available vase when dh walked into the kitchen. Of course I explained that one bouquet had been sent to me by mistake, but I don’t think I was very convincing, because for the next few days dh kept giving me suspicious looks. He was also very attentive for the next few weeks, too!

Sometimes, it’s good to be a woman of mystery…..

When young widow Eveline Wylder comes face to face with her dashing captain husband - very much alive - she is shocked, overjoyed...and furious! So, whatever his explanation for his outrageous deception, she'll keep Nick firmly out of their marriage bed.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A St Valentine's Day Tale from Liz Fielding

Award winning author, Liz Fielding shares a St. Valentine's Day Tale...

This is my famous -- make that infamous -- first date with the best beloved. Obviously I haven't spoiled a good story by telling the truth, but I didn't make it all up, either! We’ve been married for 38 years.

Liz was late. She very nearly hadn’t come at all. Despite the fact that the annual Cinema Club Ball was the social highlight of the year, a blind-date was always a risk. But the manner of the invitation had been intriguing; a double ticket to the Ball, torn in half, and one half delivered to her by messenger suggested a man with imagination, passion.

A man of mystery.

And she was a sucker for a mystery.

She glanced again at the torn card she was holding, the part that said, “The St Valentine’s...”

Someone had written “9 pm” in bold script across the corner. You could tell a lot about a man from his handwriting. This said ... strong, purposeful, determined.

But who was he?

She’d spent all week trying to figure out who could possibly have sent it. Who had the other half? The piece that said, “...Day Massacre Ball”?

She paused in the entrance to the Ballroom. The only lighting came from the strobe effect of the film projected against the walls, giving momentary glimpses of faces, features flattened out by monotone images making them hard to recognise. And the clothes didn’t help.

Everyone had taken the 1920s Chicago theme to heart. The girls were shimmying to the Charleston in their beaded flapper dresses, the men were anonymous, almost unrecognisable in gangster-era suits, their faces shaded by wide-brimmed hats.

Touching the band around her own forehead a little self-consciously, she peered into the flickering darkness.

She still had time to cut and run, but even as she took an uncertain step back, a man’s arm reached out of the darkness, placing the matching piece of the ticket against the one she was holding. The hand that had written “9 pm”, matched the script. Strong...

‘I knew you’d come, doll,’ a voice, pure Humphrey Bogart, drawled out of the gloom, breaking into the thought and she looked up.

For a moment she didn’t recognise the figure in the pinstriped suit, fedora pulled down at a rakish angle. Then the light caught his face. It was vaguely familiar. She’d noticed him at a recent club meeting. John something....

Despite the pitch-perfect Bogie impression and darkly, handsome looks, her date didn’t quite match the actor’s dangerous aura. But then who could? And heck, it could have been a whole lot worse.

He could have been Edward G Robinson.

Liz’s book THE SHEIKH’S GUARDED HEART is republished this month in the LORDS OF THE DESERT anthology, along with stories by Susan Stephens and Alexandra Sellers.

Lucy Forrester has just discovered that the man she trusted has run up huge debts on her credit cards, fraudulently borrowed large sums of money against the house she’s inherited and that far from having an exciting new life with him, he’s disappeared leaving her broke. And then it gets really bad...

Follow Liz on Twitter @lizfielding

Saturday, February 13, 2010

A Bitter-Sweet Tale of Valentine's Day From Jill Mansell

Best selling author, Jill Mansell, whose book RUMOUR HAS IT is short listed for the RNA's Rom Com shares a Valentine's Day of hers that didn't bode well for the perfect romantic ending...

Many years ago my first husband gave me a bracelet-sized jewellery box on Christmas morning. When I unwrapped and opened the box, it was empty. (He thought it would be hilarious to see the look on my face. The bracelet was actually hanging up on the Christmas tree. Oh how I laughed.)
Anyway, a year or so later we went out for a posh Valentine's dinner together at the hotel where we'd had our wedding reception. In the middle of the meal he suddenly produced a ring-sized jewellery box and presented it to me. Since he wasn't the overly romantic type, it was completely unexpected. Everyone else in the restaurant thought it was wonderful and was watching avidly. I was mortified, convinced that if I opened the box, it would be empty and he would say cheerily, "Only joking!"
So in an effort to avoid public humiliation I refused to open it.
He insisted I did.
I refused again. And again. And again.
The whole restaurant was by this time agog.
In the end he had to open the jewellery box himself and shove the beautiful diamond eternity ring onto my finger.
Everyone applauded.
But when the trust has gone, it's gone. We divorced (very amicably!) the following year.

When newly single Tilly Cole impulsively quits her London job for a fresh start in the small town of Roxborough she finds she's arrived in a hotbed of gossip, intrigue and rampant rivalry for the most desirable men. Tilly has no intention of joining in – she's just happy with her new Girl Friday job.
Then she meets Jack Lucas.
Jack is irresistible… and he's got his eye on Tilly. But there are shocking rumours about his wicked reputation. Tilly doesn’t want to be just another notch on anyone's bedpost. But is she being mature and sensible – or is she running away from the love of her life?

Follow Jill on Twitter @JillMansell

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Romantic Novel of the Year - Short Listed Authors

Yesterday the authors on the short list for the Romantic Novel of the Year gathered in London.

Pictured holding their books from left to right are:

Santa Montefiore -The Italian Matchmaker - Hodder & Stoughton

Miranda Dickinson - Fairytale of New York - Avon (Harper Collins)

Lucy Dillon - Lost Dogs & Lonely Hearts - Hodder & Stoughton

Louise Bagshawe - Passion - Headline Review

Jean Fullerton - A Glimpse at Happiness - Orion

Rachel Hore - The Glass Painter's Daughter - Pocket (Simon & Schuster)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

New Awards for Romantic Fiction

The RNA today announced the creation of Pure Passion Awards, to celebrate the Association's Golden Anniversary.

As well as the hotly-contested Romantic Novel of the Year and Love Story of the Year awards, the RNA has chosen new ways to honour the very best in romantic fiction : The People's Choice Award, the Rom Com Award, and the Romantic Film of the Year.

There's more detail about the awards over on the RNA's website .

Here, some of the short listed authors talk about how it feels to be in the running for such prestigious awards.

From the Romantic Novel of the Year authors...

Jean Fullerton - A GLIMPSE AT HAPPINESS Orion

“I almost can’t describe how thrilled I am to be in the 2010 Romantic Novelist Shortlist for the Romantic Novel of the Year Award. It is also very special because it is the association Gold Year and I feel very honoured to be standing alongside such established authors. I only started writing eight years ago and joined the RNA’s New Writers Scheme in 2003 so I still find it hard to believe that I am in the last six for this year’s award.

I can’t truthfully, describe being shortlisted as ‘a dream come true’ because I never in a million years dreamed that my stories would ever reach such dizzy heights. I am profoundly thankful to the RNA for nurturing me on my rocky road to publication and I can honestly say without the support and encouragement of my many friends within the association I would be where I am today.”


“It's wonderful to me that The Glass Painter's Daughter, a book that's very close to my heart, has received recognition by being shortlisted for the Romantic Novel of the Year Award. It's such an affirmation to me that the book was worthwhile and that people have enjoyed and appreciated it. I'd be fascinated to hear what readers enjoy most about it. I loved researching and writing about stained glass and music and angels and have tried to use them to explore a story about unattainable beauty and unrequited love. Love that is not returned by the object of affection, is of course one of the most emotionally painful experiences we can endure, but it can be celebrated as beautiful, noble, and worthwhile. So the book is a love story, but it's all sorts of other things as well. I'm very much looking forward to reading the other novels on the shortlist and welcome the award as a great celebration of the Romantic Novel.”

Lucy Dillon – LOST DOGS & LONELY HEARTS Hodder & Stoughton

“Being selected for any prize shortlist is wonderful, but the RNA Award is very special: it means an enormous amount to be picked out by such a discerning and experienced selection of fellow writers and readers, and from a long list which utterly destroys the idea that romance is 'just boy meets girl'.

In all the Association's fifty years, I don't think there's ever been as much need for romantic fiction - in all its kaleidoscopic varieties - as there is now. When the news is gloomy and the weather is even worse, what could be more restoring than an evening on the sofa with love, intrigue, passion, confusion and a happy ever after? My favourite kind of romantic fiction is the novel that lets me slip into another world, but somehow reminds me enough of my own that when I close the book, I look at what I've got with a fresh eye. A good romance is like a spa break for my spirit - that's what I try to write, and that's definitely what's made up this year's short/long list. I'm very honoured to be on it.”

Miranda Dickinson – FAIRYTALE OF NEW YORK Avon (HarperCollins)

“Making the shortlist for the RNA's Romantic Novel of the Year Award is absolutely amazing! Without wanting to sound like Gwyneth Paltrow at a press conference, it's such a wonderful honour to have my work recognised by the RNA, who work so tirelessly to promote romantic fiction. I think it's something every author dreams about, but I never really thought it would be possible for me. If you'd told me a year ago that my debut novel would be rubbing shoulders with fantastic work from the brilliant authors on the shortlist I would never have believed you! To make the long list was a dream come true: but finding Fairytale of New York on the shortlist is something else. I'm not ashamed to say that I did a little jiggly happy dance around my living room when I heard the news and I haven't stopped grinning yet!”

Santa Montefiore – THE ITALIAN MATCHMAKER Hodder & Stoughton

"I'm absolutely thrilled and honoured to be shortlisted. It is a total surprise, as I've never been shortlisted for anything before. I think the last prize I won was back in '85 for being a 'good sport' so it's fabulous to be this close."

Louise Bagshawe – PASSION Headline Review

“I was delighted to get the news that I had been shortlisted for the Romantic Novel of the Year Award. Since I started writing at the age of twenty-two, I’ve never been nominated for anything, and to be considered for such a prestigious award is a genuine honour. I have to say that my book, PASSION, is perhaps the piece of work I’m most proud of; in writing a romantic thriller, James Bond for girls if you like, I was stepping outside of my comfort zone, so to have creative recognition for that is genuinely pleasing.

At the same time, given that this is the Romantic Novel of the Year Awards, I’m glad that people still see it as primarily a love story about two old flames. It’s essentially a study of what happens when life gives you that unexpected second chance. I’m overjoyed to be in the company of the other amazing writers on this shortlist.”

From the Love Story of the Year authors...

Jane Jones – FAIR DECEPTION Robert Hale

“I am beyond thrilled that my Regency romance FAIR DECEPTION has been shortlisted for the RNA's Love Story of the Year 2010. This book is very dear to my heart as it involves both the theatre and my local town of Newmarket. As I am likewise passionate about the wonderful Romantic Novelists' Association, I don't think I could be more excited at this moment if I tried!”

Nina Harrington - ALWAYS THE BRIDESMAID Harlequin Mills and Boon

“I can’t tell you how thrilled and humbled I am to be shortlisted for this prestigious Love Story of the Year Award for my debut book for the Mills and Boon Romance Line. I am also excited, delighted, and more than a little stunned and in awe at the talent and skill of the other shortlisted authors.

‘Always the Bridesmaid’ will always be a very special book, and I have a great many people for their help and support, including the RNA. It was through the New Writer’s Scheme that my work found its way to the desk of an editor at Mills and Boon.

Perhaps the Dedication in this book can sum it up for me?

To all the wonderful writers in the Romantic Novelists’ Association, who made this book possible.’

Nell Dixon - ANIMAL INSTINCTS Little Black Dress

“I'm absolutely stunned to have made the shortlist with Animal Instincts! Getting into the finals for any award is always wonderful, but when your book has been chosen by readers, and against so many other fabulous stories it really is special. As a writer you always hope that readers will love your story as much as you do.

When I got the news I burst into tears - happy ones, not sad - I was simply so thrilled and excited. I think it took a good hour before it sank in and I think I spent most of that hour wandering around like a happy Victor Meldrew muttering, 'I don't believe it'.”

Louise Allen – THE NOTORIOUS MR HURST Harlequin Mills and Boon.

“Being shortlisted for Love Story of the Year would be terrific at any time, but as this is the RNA's 50th anniversary year it makes it even more special. And I'm delighted it is this book which is rather a favourite of mine with a darkly brooding hero and a background in the Regency theatre which was great fun to research.

I booked myself a holiday in India ages ago without thinking to check the date of the Awards Luncheon so I was relieved to find I will be back just in time - even if I am hideously jet-lagged I hope I'll be sporting an attractive tan!”

Natalie Rivers – CLAIMED FOR THE ITALIAN’S REVENGE Harlequin Mills and Boon

“It was a wonderful surprise to discover that Claimed for the Italian’s Revenge has been shortlisted for the RNA’s Love Story of the Year Award. It’s a real thrill and honour to see my name alongside such talented authors, and I’m really looking forward to spending time with them all at the Awards Lunch in London next month.”

Sophie King -THE WEDDING PARTY Hodder & Stoughton

“I first heard I was on the shortlist for LOVE STORY OF THE YEAR when I picked up an answer phone message when in a prison car park! I am writer in residence of a high security male prison and you can't take mobiles in - so messages can be delayed. I was absolutely amazed and thrilled. THE WEDDING PARTY is very special to me because it is about a middle aged couple who get married. I married the best man from my first wedding recently after knowing him as a friend for thirty years. I thought of the plot for my book before he proposed - but no one believes me!

I am very grateful to the RNA for all its encouragement and advice, especially Katie Fforde. It is an amazing organisation; I am always telling students how it helps both published and unpublished writers.”

From the Rom Com authors...

Jill Mansell - RUMOUR HAS IT Headline Review

"Wheeeeeeee, I've been shortlisted for a romantic comedy award! Me! The last competition I ever won was held in a nightclub many years ago and involved tearing a telephone directory in half. I was the only female entrant and I weighed about seven stone, beating lots of big burly men. Since then, sadly, telephone directories have got thinner and I ...well, I haven't!

Does it sound cliched to say that the RNA is a wonderful, warm, mutually supportive organisation to which I'm so proud to belong? Oh well, that's too bad - I'm still going to say it because it's true."

Jane Costello – THE NEARLY WEDS Simon & Schuster

“I'm thrilled to be on the RNA shortlist for this award - when my publisher phoned to tell me the news, I was as delighted as I was stunned. To be recognised by the RNA - and in the esteemed company of the other authors listed - is an enormous privilege.”


"I am so ludicrously excited to be on the shortlist for the RNA, I just can't wait, especially for the big anniversary year. 'Diamonds' was a very personal book for me, and I'm just so pleased it's been noticed!"

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Valentine's Day 1984 by Karen Chritchley

Karen Chritchley, NWS member and writer of historical fiction, shares her memorable Valentine's Day from 1984...

It may not be the most romantic of stories but it certainly shows that the age of chivalry isn’t dead even in a Nottinghamshire mining village about to besieged by 8,000 flying pickets!
So it was in 1984, with my head in the clouds at sweet sixteen and full of what I imagined to be love; I made what was to be the first in a long line of overzealous romantic faux pas.
I sent Karl, a quiet, studious boy; who at a year older had had the misfortune to pass me a few times in the corridor and talk to me once –the most ostentatious Valentine’s card you’ve ever seen complete with a poem penned for the occasion.
Sadly for us both; said items were removed from Karl’s locker and displayed in his year’s common room for all to mock. He, it seems, was powerless and I resigned myself to the fact that there was no hope of retrieval without further humiliation. After all, as my late husband was fond of saying years later; you knew better than to argue we are ‘talking about a place where you played tiggy with hatchets!’
I was astonished and almost moved to tears when an hour or so later the items were returned to me. The tiniest boy in my class, who I scarcely knew, had sneaked into the lion’s den into to preserve my honour.
“It wasn’t right...” he blushed.
As for me, I felt a warm glow inside for the first time in my young life and that moment will stay with me forever.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

My Funny Valentine by Susie Vereker

Well travel author Susie Vereker shares her funny Valentine...

Long, long ago when I was on a ski holiday in Switzerland, I met a handsome Englishman on top of a mountain. Turned out he was a Foreign Office chap on leave from a posting in Thailand - I was with a group of friends. He took me out to dinner in a gentlemanly sort of way and skied about with me next day, patient with my lack of skill on the slopes. Then, to my utter amazement, four days after I'd met him, he proposed on February 14th. I later discovered he'd intended to ask me to marry him overlooking the Rhone valley only I fell off the draglift on the way up, so he'd had to wait, nerves jangling, until we were just above the village. I was so astonished I nearly fell off my skis again. What happened next? It's a long story.
Typically, my husband of 34 years didn't actually know it was Valentine's Day.

Love, art and intrigue in the Far East

Monday, February 8, 2010

RNA Launches Revamped Website

Fifty and fabulous on the web.

This weekend, I've sat back and watched my baby go out into the world. Not a real baby you understand - but something that took a lot of time and effort and love just the same. I'm talking about the new RNA website.

I wanted the site to be just like the RNA itself - smart, colourful, exciting and interesting, useful and .... (insert the adjective of your choice)

It was a team effort - three of us working together to get something out there to tell the world that the RNA is 50 years old this year - and we are just fabulous!

Do drop by and have a look. I hope you'll love it was much as we do.

Janet Gover took the role of RNA press Officer in November - just in time for the 50th Anniversary year. When not promoting the RNA, she writes romantic novels set in Australia for Little Black Dress. Her most recent, The Bachelor and Spinster Ball was released in November.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Dental Impression Material Equals Love for Julia Williams

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a writer of romantic fiction should find in her life partner, a like minded romantic soul...

Alas in my case, I have married a man without a romantic bone in his body. So it was that on our first Valentine's together, I with deep love in my heart searched the flower shops of Liverpool high and low, for a bunch of orchids (=forever), which I left, rather mysteriously I felt, on the bonnet of his car.
"Why have you bought me flowers?" was his unreconstructed male response, before producing a home made Valentine's present for me. "Here's my heart," he said. How lovely, I thought, till I realised it was made out of dental impression material...

The years passed and the most I could ever hope for was a card (never flowers - oh how I longed for a bunch of red roses), maybe a meal (but invariably we'd always forget to book and end up wandering the streets trying to find a seat at any table that would have us.) I even turned up one year with a red rose given to me by a stranger in a flower shop, and even that didn't work...

So in the end, I resigned myself to the fact that despite his many fine qualities, the man I had married was never going to fulfil my requirements in the romance department (just as well I can create fictional heroes for that), until Valentine's Day eight years ago...

I was four days from giving birth to our fourth and last child, so he was dutifully out in Sainsbury's doing the shopping. From whence, he came with the biggest bunch of red roses you've ever seen.
"I saw these and thought of you," he said, probably as much surprised by his actions as I was.
I vowed then and there never to worry if he never bought me another flower in my life, at least he'd done it once...

Which is just as well really. We spent last Valentine's Day in a freezing cold chalet at Pontins, with all four children. Who says romance is dead?

To find out more about Julia's latest book - LAST CHRISTMAS visit her website

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Janet Woods Writes of Cardless Valentine's Days - Except One

Author Janet Woods tells of Valentine's Days without cards except one has...

A tale of woe...I've never ever received a valentine card, unless I can count the drawing from my grandson. It was a bleeding heart with "XXXs from Brodie" on it, Still, I've managed to celebrate 50 years of happy marriage without one. Instead I've enjoyed gifts of flowers, chocolates and other surprises for no reason at all.

1835, England. A married woman, pregnant with her sea-captain lover’s child, dies giving birth. The child, Serafina Finn, is abandoned to an orphanage and grows up longing to feel that she belongs somewhere. Eighteen years later, her father, hearing rumours that his lost daughter survived, dispatches a detective, Adam Chapman, to discover the truth. Adam finds, and falls in love with, Serafina – but, even if he can prove her identity, will her real family accept her?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Anita Burgh's Best Valentine's Day

Best selling novelist, Anita Burgh, shares her best Valentine's Day...

It is the sixties, Cambridge. Married at twenty I am, at thirty, alone, but happy with my children. Valentine’s Day arrives, not that I expect anything, there’s no one special enough at the moment – I feel a momentary bleakness. At the bedroom door there is a sound of shuffling and shushing. My three children enter. My daughter carries a tray with tea and burnt toast. My youngest son a bunch of daffodils which have seen better days. My eldest hands me a huge hand decorated card. “To the best and most beautiful Ma in the world. Admired by men – Happy Valentine.” It has never been bettered.

It is spring 1915. Far away in France, the Great War was not over by Christmas as was confidently predicted. It shows no sign of ending, and the peaceful calm of Cresswell Manor in Devon has been shattered. It is now a convalescent home for soldiers from the Front. They arrive in increasing numbers to recover from their wounds - their minds and bodies broken. The old social order is crumbling as surely as time begins to breach the walls of the ancient manor house... this glorious saga of home life against the terrible backdrop of 'the war to end all wars'.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

NWS Member Jenny Barden Talks of the Practical Side of Love

Jenny Barden,New Writers' Scheme member and contributor to Love Writing, shares a practical Valentine's Day...

The first Valentine's Day my husband bought me roses was several years after our marriage when the children were small, finances were precarious, life was a never-ending scramble, and our house had just been put on the market. I was amazed and profoundly touched. He'd never bought me flowers before. 'Darling, they're beautiful!' I said, kissing him. 'They should do the trick,' he replied, marching straight past me and into the living room. 'Flowers always help sell a house.' I suppose, as a surveyor, he should have known, and a few weeks later he was proved right. Well, at least the house sold! I gave him a hug afterwards. That, surely, is love!

Jenny has just completed her novel, To the Ends of the World, which follows the first of Drake's great adventures, but with one special difference - suppose a woman had by chance been there... To discover more visit

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Red Roses, a Symbol of Love - Even Dead Ones by Anna Jacobs

Anna Jacobs, author of over 47 novels, tells us how even a bouquet of dead roses can mean love...

Many years ago, when we were first married, I bought my husband some red roses for Valentine’s Day and it turned out that no one had ever bought him roses before, even though he’s a very liberated man. He loved them so much that he wouldn’t let me throw them away even when they died, so for two extra weeks we had a vase of extremely dead roses standing in our living room. It made me feel warm and happy every time I looked at them, and I caught him smiling at them or touching them with his fingertips several times. We still smile over that memory. I’ve bought him flowers since but they’ve never had the impact of that first time with red roses.

The four Blake sisters have no work and life is hard. Cassandra has fallen in love with Reece Gregory, but he too is out of work and can’t support a wife. When he’s offered a chance to start a new life in Australia, he takes it and promises to send for her. Her father’s health is failing so she can’t leave him.
Their uncle’s childless wife loathes them. She has Cassandra kidnapped to force the other sisters to sail with a group of starving cotton lasses to Australia.
When Cassandra escapes, she follows them. Reece is in Australia too. Surely now she’ll find happiness? But the voyage brings its own difficulties and the past still casts a long shadow.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Eileen Ramsay Shares Two of Her Best Valentine's Days

February has become synonymous with romance - thank you Saint Valentine. So we asked a few RNA members to tell us about some of their Valentine's experiences. Scottish author Eileen Ramsay kicks of the month with two of her best...

Valentine's Day 1969 Washington DC. My boyfriend rings my doorbell at 6am. Nothing exciting. He's a health fanatic and thinks 100 metre sprints will keep my arthritis at bay - we have done this before. I must love him.
Up and down Massachusetts Avenue we go, and eventually, just outside the British Embassy I am allowed to collapse in a quivering heap.
'Will you marry me?' he bends down, holding out a really rather lovely diamond ring.
Frankly, I want to kill him, horribly, but I nod and grab the ring.
Fast forward 40 years.
My husband, still jogging, brings me coffee in bed. With it is a beautiful little parcel which contains an antique three-stone ruby ring. I hold out my hand for him to slip it on and the phone rings. It is my younger son.
'Hi, Mum, Barnaby has just been born. Happy Valentine's Day.'
Barnaby, our first grand child. My heart sings, Deo Gratias.
I bet this year it will be Toblerone.

RNA award winner Eileen Ramsay delivers a passionate new novel, set in the tumultuous world of classical music. Juliet Crawford is a brilliant and beautiful young orchestra conductor, living in Edinburgh, and dreaming of success. When she is offered the chance of a lifetime to get ahead with her career, with the incredible possibility of permanently leading a prestigious American orchestra, she decides nothing will stand in her way. But it is there that she meets the handsome young Czech conductor Karel Haken. As the attraction between them builds to a crescendo, she knows their ambitions will always push them apart. Does she dare to love him despite everything?

Monday, February 1, 2010

February Releases

Mills & Boon
5th February 2010
Evelina believed she was a widow, but her rakish husband is very much alive!

Ulverscroft Large Print
February 1st 2010
Love blossoms in unexpected places when an Australian magazine launches a campaign to find wives for lonely farmers.

Anne Whitfield - HOOKED ON YOU
The Wild Rose Press
February 5th 2010
Working for a sexy man sounded fabulous, but Katie should have been careful what she wished for, because gorgeous employers are a hazard to the heart.

Mills & Boon
19 Feb 2010
Chief (female) mechanic of steam museum falls for wealthy rescuer...

Penguin Signet, NY
February 2nd 2010
Widowed Chloe Stanforth wants to escape her home before the new Lord Stanforth
arrives, but she can't abandon her people to murder and mayhem.

February 2010
Escaping from a matchmaking family Decima ends up snowbound with the man of her dreams.

Headline/Little Black Dress
February 18, 2010
A Regency chicklit with a lot of annoying relatives and about finding love where you least expect it.

Liz Fielding, Susan Stephens, Alexandra Sellers - LORDS OF THE DESERT
Harlequin Mills & Boon
Arabian Nights times three.

Susanna Kearsley - SEASON OF STORMS
Allison & Busby
February 8, 2010
When Celia joins a group of actors attempting to stage an 'unstageable' play at the playwright's estate in Italy, she finds herself plunged into romance and intrigue.I've attached a jpeg of the cover.

Linford Romance
1st February 2010
Love and revenge in 18th century Cornwall