In honour of World Dracula Day – a special treat from Berni Stevens

Dance until DawnA taster from Berni’s heroine Ellie from Dance until Dawn

Do you believe in vampires? No, me neither. What am I ? Twelve? But I’ve just been told I am one. Have you ever heard anything more ridiculous? Although I have to admit my life did recently take a turn for the bizarre. Last night I woke up in a strange place – alone I hasten to add, so don’t go getting any ideas – it was dark, dank and not at all friendly. I have no clue how I came to be here – and yes, I am still here. To say I felt just the teeniest bit terrified would be an understatement. Then someone came in – I hadn’t even noticed a door in the room until that point. He – because it was a he – looked all tall dark and glowering. Arrogant too. Started telling me what I would have to do, and then what I couldn’t do. He called me ‘Fledgling.’ What the hell does that mean?

Obviously I didn’t believe a word he said. I told him too. He laughed. Actually laughed. So I felt even more convinced all this weirdness is just a dream. Or more precisely – a nightmare.

I watched him striding up and down the room. He is easy on the eye, I give him that. Tall, lean, with sculpted cheekbones, a mane of dark hair, and eyes so green any cat would be proud to own them. But I can’t say he makes a lot of sense. He talked about a condition called the ‘Thirst’ – which apparently I have. It’s why I’m in a lot of pain. (Actually, I thought he’d been poisoning me. I’ve watched a lot of Criminal Minds episodes). He laughed at that too. He’s got a weird sense of humour. Apparently he has no conscience about kidnapping me and locking me up in this … whatever this place is. He said he didn’t kidnap me, but I’m here aren’t I? I don’t want to be here, so therefore he’s broken the law. If I had my mobile phone, I’d have called the police when I first woke up. Not that I could have told them where I am, because I haven’t a clue, but I’m sure they could track my mobile signal. Like I said, I’m addicted to certain TV shows.

I realised he was still talking and I hadn’t heard a word. He does have a nice voice, very deep and quite soothing, even if I hadn’t taken in the actual words. I looked up at him … his eyes are hypnotic.

‘You have not heard a word,’ he said with a slight smile.

I shrugged. ‘I’m not interested enough to listen.’

He sighed. ‘Believe it or not, I am trying to help.’

Of course he is.

Three weeks later
I appear to have been promoted – kind of – and I’m now in a huge bedroom with a four-poster bed – still alone I hasten to add. The bedroom, I discovered, is in a Georgian mansion in Highgate, very close to the famous Gothic Cemetery. It’s a part of North London I don’t go to very often. Well, I don’t mix with millionaires and rock stars much. At least not until now, Will – that’s Mr Spooky’s name – must be a millionaire to afford a place like this, and although he isn’t a rock star, he looks as though he could be. Or a movie star. But I’m still not harbouring any romantic thoughts about him, because I don’t trust him an inch. ‘Handsome is as handsome does’ … where does that saying come from? Someone’s grandmother probably.

‘Wear something beautiful,’ he said as he left the room. He’d waved an elegant hand at one of the huge built in wardrobes. I would have told him to go and do the same, if he hadn’t taken my breath away with the black Armani suit and white T-shirt he had on. Yet I am still not thinking anything verging on the romantic as far as he’s concerned. That’s really not going to happen. He said we were going to ‘his’ club. Does that mean he owns a club or he’s a member of one?

The wardrobe proved to be a revelation. Most of my own clothes were in there, hanging neatly side by side, and I didn’t even want to hazard a guess as to how that happened. But other clothes were there too. They looked new. Some gorgeous dresses, expensive-looking, their simplicity belying the massive price tags I felt sure they had. Lovely, beautifully tailored trousers and tops. Whoever had chosen them had amazing taste. I settled on a pair of black trousers, and an emerald green silk top. I was just pulling on a pair of soft black leather Manolo Blahniks, when Mr Spooky came back in.

He didn’t say anything at first, just looked at me with those startling green eyes of his.

‘What?’ I still don’t feel exactly friendly towards him either.

‘You look breathtaking,’ he said. ‘Absolutely exquisite.’

A strange feeling fluttered deep inside me.

9781781891322 KWant to find out more about Ellie and the mystery man ….  download or purchase this fabulous debut novel from Berni Stevens! AND for World Dracula Day (26th May 2015) the eBook is reduced to £0.99 !  Details here …

Southern Temptations by Luscious Lily

Sugar & Spice

This is my story! Luscious Lily.

Hi y’all and welcome to ‘Luscious Lily’s Southern Temptations.’ Pull up a chair, pour yourself a glass of sweet tea and I’ll share a few of my cooking secrets with you. Southern women are born knowing how to cook and to us there’s nothing better than feeding a house full of people we love. My recipe today is a special one for us ladies. I grew up listening to my Mama and her friends sitting together on our front porch indulging in some gentle gossip and cake baking one-upmanship. Everyone had her own specialty and they weren’t always generous when it came to recipe sharing. I’ve heard more than one lady accused of missing out an ingredient on purpose. It would always be strenuously denied…but everyone knew the truth.

If you can picture spring time in the South you’ll understand why I picked ‘Luscious Lily’s Lemon Squares’ to share with you today. The air is warm, the blossoms are heavy on the trees and the humidity isn’t yet wrecking havoc with your hair. A pitcher of iced fruit tea sits on the table along with your best crystal glasses. There are starched linen napkins, never paper, or one of the long line of Southern grandmothers (with a smile on their face and a spine of steel) will come back to haunt you. The napkins are essential to wipe the powdered sugar off your fingers because these lemon squares are dredged in it as soon as they come out of the oven and the darn stuff sure does get everywhere. These cakes are a manifestation of the true Southern woman with their buttery crumb base, a sharp lemon centre and all hidden under a covering of sweet sugar.

Always remember to toss in a little love when you’re cooking and you can’t go wrong! Y’all come on back soon for more of ‘Luscious Lily’s Southern Temptations.’

Lemon SquaresLEMON SQUARES

1 ½ cups (190g) all purpose (plain) flour

3/8 cup (45g) powdered (icing) sugar

½ teaspoon (2ml)  salt

¾ cup (170g) butter or margarine, softened

 Rub above ingredients together until it starts to stick together (butter can still be in small lumps). Press into a greased 9 inch x 13 inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees F (180C) for 15 minutes.

While that is in the oven cooking mix up the top layer.

 3 eggs

1 ½ cups (300g) sugar

½ teaspoon (2ml) baking powder

4 ½ Tablespoons (65g) all purpose (plain) flour

4 ½ Tablespoons (65ml) lemon juice

½ teaspoon (2ml) grated lemon rind

 Combine above ingredients and pour over baked layer. Return to the oven and bake at 350 F (180C) for 25 minutes. As soon as it comes out of the oven sprinkle with powdered sugar (icing sugar). Cut into squares to serve.

 Sugar & Spice by Angela Britnell that features the lovely Luscious Lily  is available as an eBook today and in paperback from 7th May 2014.  Check her out here…

 

Book of the Week at Apple iTunes

Trade Winds Book of the Week In case you all missed the news this week, we were delighted to see Trade Winds by Christina Courtenay chosen as Book of the Week by the UK iBooks Team. Doesn’t it look fab? More importantly for you, it’s FREE for the week! You have until Monday 23rd September to download a FREE copy in the UK & Ireland. Simply click here or use your iTunes or iBooks App to search.

Trade Winds is the prequel to Christina’s award-winning novel Highland Storms.

Have a lovely weekend travelling on the high seas with Killian Kinross and Jes van Sandt as they sail to China in 1732 …

 

Short Story Winner – Lucy Mouland – A Foreign Field

short-storyCongratulations to Lucy Mouland who is the winner of our first Choc Lit Short Story Competition. Lucy’s story, A Foreign Field, beat off some tough competition including our runner-up Laura E James with her story, Bitter Sweet.

Congratulations ladies!

You can read Lucy’s story here:

We will be announcing a new short story competition soon!