Halloween at Hargreate Hall: Part 3 by Kathryn Freeman

Happy Halloween! It’s time for this year’s Halloween Round Robin. And this year we have not one but TWO fabulously spooky tales written collaboratively by eight talented Choc Lit and Ruby Fiction authors to share with you 👻 We shared one yesterday (click HERE to begin reading it) and today we’re starting again with a new bunch of authors! 

Kathryn Freeman really has her work cut out for her in following up from Angela Britnell who left Joe and Meredith in a very unusual situation with a ghost in the last part! We’re sure she’ll pull it out of the bag though! Read on to see if she does. 

Remember to read right until the end to find details of the competition!

A Round Robin is best enjoyed if you read each part in order.
Read Part 1 by Morton S. Gray HERE
Read Part 2 by Angela Britnell HERE

HALLOWEEN AT HARGREATE HALL – PART 3 BY KATHRYN FREEMAN 

‘Your death?’ Meredith lurched backwards, banging the back of her head against the wall. As she felt her knees give way, a pair of strong arms reached out and caught her.

‘Hey, I’ve got you.’ Concern softened Joe’s usually harsh features. ‘Come and sit down.’

Before she knew what was happening, she was back in his office, sitting on the visitor chair with him crouched down next to her. ‘Feeling better?’

She drew in a breath, and as she let it out, Kate’s words rushed back to her. ‘What did Kate mean, about ruining your death?’

Joe sighed heavily, rising to his feet and perching on the edge of the desk. ‘Do I look dead to you?’

Her eyes rested on his big muscular thighs, straining against the material of his jeans, then skimmed up to his darkly handsome face. ‘No.’ He looked gloriously, vividly alive.

‘Well then. Don’t believe any nonsense you hear from a ghost.’ His jaw tightened, and the harshness returned to his face. ‘Especially that ghost.’

Meredith gulped. Clearly Kate had been right. There was some sort of history between them. History she was too afraid to ask about for fear of upsetting him further. ‘Your words imply there are other ghosts, but Kate said she’d run them all off.’

A ghost of a smile – oh God, terrible pun – flickered across his face. ‘What did I say about listening to her? She thinks she rules the place. Always has.’

Okay, okay. About a million questions buzzed through Meredith’s brain, but now wasn’t the time. Not when she had a Halloween trail to put together, which required Joe to be in a good mood. ‘Kate said she would help with the Halloween event.’ Meredith hesitated, remembering the conversation. With the ghost. Joe himself had said Kate was a ghost, so it was quite possible she really was. Then again, Kate had said Joe was dead, which would also make him … no, that was plain insanity. ‘Actually, Kate,’ yes, that sounded better than saying the ghost, ‘said she had a plan, but it involved you.’

‘Did she now.’ He stood, jaw muscle twitching again, and walked to the window, sliding his hands into his jeans pockets. Leaving her staring at his broad back.

Silence pinged around the room and Kate could feel his tension. Slowly he turned to face her. ‘Kate also said I was dead, which we’ve established isn’t true, so why believe she’s going to help?’

Because I’ve established more of a relationship with Kate since coming to work here than I have with you? The words were there, hovering on her tongue, but Meredith held back from saying them. Still, she wasn’t going to leave it alone totally. ‘At least Kate has offered to help. All you’ve done is throw cold water over my ideas.’

He winced, his shoulders sagging. ‘I have, haven’t I?’ Slowly he went to sit down at his desk. ‘Look, I’m sorry I’ve been a bit negative.’

‘A bit?’

He gave her a crooked smile. ‘Fine. Sorry I’ve been a total pain in the backside. Better?’

A warm, fuzzy feeling swept through her. He was smiling at her. They were actually having a friendly conversation. ‘Much better.’

‘The thing is, I had my reasons. Have my reasons.’ He glanced away then, as if considering his next words. ‘If you want to involve Kate, fine. Why not suggest she comes – or appears, or whatever it is she does – to our meeting on Sunday.’ His vivid blue eyes met hers. ‘I’ll bring my daughter to help. She loves all that tacky Halloween crap you’re planning.’

This time she didn’t take offence, because this time his eyes smiled when he said it. ‘Okay, great. And you promise to be nice to Kate?’

The smile vanished. ‘I can’t promise that. But I do promise to turn up and help you.’

It was as much as she could hope for, and more than she’d expected. ‘Thank you. And thank you for, you know, catching me.’

‘No problem.’ His eyes darkened as they held hers. ‘It was my pleasure.’

Her heart bumped against her ribs and Meredith almost floated out of his office.

Now all she had to do was find Kate.

Find a ghost.

She laughed to herself as she stepped into the corridor, feeling lighter, happier. She and Joe had turned a huge corner in their relationship. Working at Hargreate Hall had the potential to be a million times better from now on. Well, it would if she still had a job.

Hurriedly she walked towards the library – the first place she’d ‘met’ Kate. Feeling daft, she paced up and down, past the rows of dusty books, the wooden fireplace, the oil paintings of previous occupants.

That’s when she smelt the lilacs. ‘Kate?’

‘I’m here. So, did you get anywhere with our Joe?’

Our? ‘Can you meet us here on Sunday?’

Meredith heard laughter. ‘I’m hardly going anywhere, am I? Did Joe agree to help?’

‘Yes. He’s bringing his daughter, too.’

Kate gasped and immediately the air around her became noticeably colder, until Meredith felt her fingers going numb.

‘Kate?’ She whispered into the frozen silence.

But the smell of lilacs had vanished.

What did we say about Kathryn pulling it out of the bag? 😉 But now she’s left us on a spooky cliffhanger and it’s up to Berni Stevens to finish things off. We’re going to leave you biting your fingernails in anticipation for another hour though!  

If you enjoyed Kathryn’s writing, you can find her books available to purchase from all good online book stockists and retailers – including plenty of fab Christmas books! Click the images below for purchasing options. 

COMPETITION TIME! 

To be in with a chance of winning a Kathryn Freeman paperback and some chocolate simply answer the question below (we hope you’ve been reading carefully!):

What type of flower does Meredith smell when Kate is around?

To enter, send your answer to info@choc-lit.co.uk with the subject heading ‘Round Robin Kathryn Freeman comp’ by Friday 2nd November. The winner will be picked at random and announced on Monday 5th November.

Oh Crumbs and the Green Arrow

Last week we released Oh Crumbs by Kathryn Freeman – a sweet romance set in a biscuit factory! Today Kathryn is on the blog talking about the unlikely inspiration for the hero of the book, Doug Faulkner … 

I can almost see your frown. What on earth does my new book, a love story based in a biscuit company, have to do with a DC Comics superhero?

The truth is, it has a great deal to do with it, because I got the inspiration for the book from the Arrow TV series. I used to watch it because I have sons, and it was something we could all enjoy together. Now they’ve grown out of it, but I haven’t …

What about Oh Crumbs, I hear you ask (or possibly you’re asking why I continue to watch a man in a green hood shoot baddies with a bow and arrow. That will become clear later!). Well, the more I watched Oliver Queen, aka The Green Arrow the more I fell for his character (which was no doubt helped by the actor, Stephen Amell, who portrayed him) and the more I wanted to pinch some of his characteristics for my next book hero. And no, Doug Faulkner doesn’t walk around wearing green leather pants carrying a quiver. He is however quietly spoken, like the Green Arrow, and very considered in what he says. He has the same sense of outward calm, of control. And, similar to Oliver Queen, who is mayor of Star City by day and an arrow-slinging vigilante at night, Doug also has a hidden, unexpected side to him. But you’ll have to read Oh Crumbs to find out what that is.

There was more about the Green Arrow that hooked me in though, and perhaps now my enjoyment of the series will become clearer. You see, in between saving Star City on a weekly basis, The Green Arrow has been having the most wonderful, slow-burning romance with Felicity (played by Emily Bett Rickards); computer genius and brains behind the Green Arrow’s operation. I loved the contrast between his quiet, serious personality and that of Felicity, who’s funny and a total chatterbox. I also loved the way Felicity comes across as an airhead, yet actually it’s she who’s the smart one.

For Oh Crumbs, I wanted to build on this idea. Instead of having Doug and the bubbly Abby saving the world from destruction though, I opted to give them a simpler life. Doug became managing director of a biscuit company (Crumbs). Abby, who gave up her dream of going to university to help bring up her younger sisters, has been working as a PA while undertaking an Open University business degree When she applies for, and surprisingly gets, the job of Doug’s PA, it soon becomes clear that Doug isn’t your usual managing director. And Abby is far from an ordinary PA …

Sound intriguing? You can get your copy of Oh Crumbs today – click on the image below for purchasing options. 

For more on Kathryn:
Follow her on Twitter @KathynFreeman
Like her on Facebook Kathryn Freeman (author)
Vist her website www.kathrynfreeman.co.uk

Happy Birthday Choc Lit! Final Part by Kathryn Freeman

We’re nine years old today! And we’re celebrating with a birthday Round Robin written by six of our talented Choc Lit authors. Jane Lovering set us up for the perfect ending with a mysterious note left in a borrowed book. Will Kathryn Freeman deliver and finish our wonderful birthday story with a bang? Let’s see! 

In order to enjoy this story, you’ll need to read it in order, so make sure you read:

Part One by Morton S. Gray HERE
Part Two by Kirsty Ferry HERE
Part Three by Sue McDonagh HERE
Part Four by Lynda Stacey HERE
Part Five by Jane Lovering HERE

Also, remember to read right until the end so you can enter the last competition of the day. All competitions on all extracts will be open until next Tuesday so there’s plenty of time left to enter all of them!

The Forgotten Birthday – Final Part

As Lauren started to read the note, her heart began to pound. She recognised it. Her mind swimming in disbelief, she skimmed over the childish writing.

Happy birfday Laura. Will you be my girlfriend? Hugh xx

It couldn’t be the same note. That had been over twenty years ago. And the boy who’d written it had been called Hugh Webster, not Peacock.

But the more she stared at it, the more the memories came flooding back. It was addressed not to Lauren, but to Laura. The name she’d gone by all those years ago, before she’d decided Lauren sounded more elegant.

There was only one person who could explain to her why she was reading a note given to her on her ninth birthday. She glanced at her watch. Was ten o’clock too late for a woman to knock on the door of a man she hardly knew?

Sober Lauren would have answered yes, but this version, on a high after the day, fortified by a few drinks, had the confidence to march right up to it.

Her jaw dropped when the door opened. ‘Hugh?’ He didn’t look like the man she’d met this morning. Wearing a T-shirt that moulded chest muscles she hadn’t noticed beneath the old jacket he’d worn, it was his face that shocked her the most. ‘You shaved off your beard.’

He shifted awkwardly on his feet. ‘Ah, yes, you noticed.’

His eyes crinkled. Deep brown eyes, warm and inviting as a mug of cocoa. How had she missed them earlier? More memories filled her head. A boy with a permanently creased blazer, scuffed shoes and dark hair that flopped into his brown eyes. Her heart began to race. ‘Why?’

‘I thought you might have more chance recognising me.’ His eyes held hers and she felt their pull. Just as she had all those years ago.

‘It is you,’ she whispered.

His freshly shaven cheeks flushed. ‘Afraid so.’

‘But … how? Is this just a coincidence?’

The flush deepened and he dragged a hand through his hair. ‘Yes, and no. You applying to be on the course run by my mum, yes. Me coming here in her place, no.’ When she simply stared at him, too shocked, too overcome to do anything else, he sighed and opened the door wider. ‘I see I have some explaining to do. Do you want to come in?’ His hand rose to his chin, then dropped again, no doubt realising he no longer had a beard to scratch. ‘Sorry, you probably don’t want to come into a stranger’s room. We can go to the bar, or—’

Lauren stepped inside. ‘You’re not a stranger, Hugh Webster.’

She caught his eye and he smiled. It was the same boyish smile she remembered, though this time it came from a man. A very attractive man. Somewhere inside her chest she felt a long-forgotten tug.

Moving to the end of the room she went to sit on the chair, leaving him to perch on the bed. Maybe it was the room, but he felt larger now. No longer the bearded, bumbling author, but a potent, handsome male.

‘So.’ He smiled sheepishly, and all at once he was the boy she knew again. ‘I help my mum out with the creative writing course she runs. Daphne Peacock is her pen name. Her real name is Daphne Webster.’

‘That’s why I didn’t recognise you. Plus, the beard.’

Again, he went to scratch it. Again, he dropped his hand. ‘Ex-wife hated beards, so when we divorced I grew one just because I could.’ He searched out her eyes. ‘Am I right in thinking you’re divorced, too?’

She grinned, feeling lighter, more carefree than she’d done in a long time. ‘My Chains piece did kind of give that away, didn’t it?’

‘It did.’ His expression sobered a little. ‘I’m sorry. It sounded like you had a bad time.’

‘I’m over it.’ And she was, she realised with a burst of pride. After today, she’d officially put that part of her life in the past.

‘Good.’ His smile returned. ‘And I wasn’t kidding when I said you might have a knack for poetry. It really was very good.’

‘Thank you.’ But much as she looked forward to turning her mind to new ventures, there was still something from her past she wanted to explore. ‘You were telling me why you’re here instead of your mum?’

‘Ah, yes.’ He glanced down to his clasped hands, then back up at her. ‘You’d sent a photo, and although the form said your first name was Lauren not Laura, everything else, including the date of birth, clicked and I knew, just knew it was you.’ She watched his throat move as he swallowed. ‘I thought, to hell with it, I’m running that course. I wanted to see you again. See if those feelings I had as a boy, were still there as a man.’

It was her turn to have to swallow as the emotion clogged her throat. ‘And are they?’

His dark eyes burned into hers. ‘God, yes. The moment I saw you, that was it. I turned into my bumbling nine-year-old self, desperately hoping the prettiest girl in the class would take notice of me.’

Her stomach flip-flopped and Lauren felt a prick at the back of her eyes. ‘Your note. Where did you find it?’

‘You left it on your desk at school. I picked it up, meaning to give it back to you, but I never screwed up the courage again. Until now.’

As his eyes pressed hers, her heart lifted. Slowly she rose to her feet and went to stand next to him. ‘What if I tell you that was the most romantic thing I’ve ever had happen to me?’

He smiled and his hands reached to clasp her face, sending tingles through her. ‘What if I ask you to have dinner with me tomorrow?’

Her heart jumped. ‘What if I tell you this is the best birthday I’ve ever had?’

His gaze dropped to her lips, and his eyes darkened. ‘What if I kiss you?’

Oh wow! Well done Kathryn – we certainly didn’t expect that and it really was the perfect ending to an amazing birthday story. 

Thank you to all our authors and to all of our supportive readers too! We hope you’ve enjoyed this story and continue to enjoy Choc Lit books for many years to come. Here’s to another year of fantastic authors and brilliant books! 

If you enjoyed Kathryn’s writing, you might like to check out her books. You can find details by clicking the images above. 

COMPETITION TIME!

To be in with a chance of winning a Choc Lit book and some chocolate to go with it simply answer the question below (we hope you’ve been reading carefully!):

What is Hugh’s mum’s real name?

To enter, send your answer to info@choc-lit.co.uk with the subject heading ‘Round Robin Kathryn Freeman comp’ by Tuesday 19th June. The winner will be picked at random and announced on Wednesday 20th June.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2018 from Choc Lit

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Merry Christmas everyone, Happy Holidays!
Thank you for all your fabulous support in 2017. We look forward to sharing more exciting releases and fabulous Choc Lit & our new Ruby books with you in 2018.

Love from the Choc Lit Team x
(Lyn, Lusana, Sarah, Jane O, Liz, Jane E, Pia, Paul, Marie, Jessamy & Berni)

And now for some messages from our Choc Lit Santas …

juliet Santa photo Juliet Archer:
“Wishing all of you Choc Lit cheer at Christmas, and some great reads in 2018!”
The Importance of Being Emma
Jan Santa photo Jan Brigden:
“Thank you dear readers for your terrific support this year. I wish you all a wonderful Christmas and New Year, full of joy, peace and good health (with the odd choccie or two for good measure, of course!) Enjoy the festivities!
As Weekends Go
Angela Britnell - Santa! Angela Britnell:
“Wishing all our wonderful readers a peaceful and happy holiday season and an excess of books and chocolate!”
You're The One That I Want
Valerie Olteanu - Isabeall Connor - SantaLiv Thomas - Isabella Connor - Santa! Isabella Connor (Liv & Val): 
“Nollaig shona dhaoibh.
Wishing all Choc Lit readers and their families, a wonderful Christmas, and a happy 2018.”
An Irish Promise
Victoria  Cornwall Santas Victoria Cornwall:
Thank you to all those who have read my debut novels this year. I am humbled you chose to read them and very grateful for the support you have shown me. To all Choc Lit readers, I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and a very happy,  prosperous and healthy New Year. You are all amazing.”
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Christina Courtenay - Santa! Christina Courtenay:
Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas and a very Happy New Year! Hope you have time to relax with a good book in front of the fire; chocolate, wine, mince pies or other goodies to hand – enjoy!
Velvet Cloak of Moonlight
Kirsty Ferry - Santa! Kirsty Ferry: 
Hope you have a wonderful Christmas and a peaceful New Year, all filled with only good things. Lots of love, Kirsty xxx”
A Little Bit of Christmas Magic
Kathryn Freeman - Santa! Kathryn Freeman:
“Christmas greetings to all our lovely readers. I hope Santa brings you both a first and A Second Christmas Wish. And that 2018 will be a fabulous year for you. All it takes is A little Christmas Faith ☺”
A Little Christmas Faith
Morton S Gray - Santa Morton S. Gray:
Wishing all of our readers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy 2018. Thank you for supporting The Girl on the Beach this year. Hoping you have a peaceful and fun time whatever you choose to do over the Christmas season. May your troubles find resolution and your dreams come true. Mx
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Liz Harris - Santa Liz Harris: 
“Dear Readers, Thank you for your friendship and support throughout the year.  I hope you’ve all had a truly wonderful year – a year full of happy memories.  Hopefully, 2018 will be an even better year for you.  A happy, healthy 2018 to you and your families – may all of your dreams come true. Love, Liz xx”
Little Girl Lost
Caroline James - Santa Caroline James:
“Warmest wishes to each and every Choc Lit reader, may all your Christmas dreams come true in 2018, Caroline xx”
The Best Boomerville Hotel
Margaret James - Santa Margaret James:
Thank you so much for all the support you’ve given Choc Lit authors this year. We really appreciate your feedback, comments and reviews, so please keep them coming? We hope you all have a wonderful Christmas filled with peace, love, happiness and delicious things to eat. All the Choc Lit and Ruby authors are looking forward to entertaining you in 2018 and in the meantime we’re sending you virtual chocolate and champagne!
Girl in Red Velvet
Marie Laval - Santa Marie Laval:
“A very French Joyeux Noel and all Best Wishes for the New Year!”
Little Pink Taxi
Jane Lovering - Santa! Jane Lovering: 
A huge thank you to everyone who has supported Choc Lit this year, readers, reviewers, bloggers, reading panel, even people who just come to look at our photos and laugh. Let me wish you all a very Happy Christmas and a wonderful 2018 to come!”
Christmas at the Little Village School
Hannah Pearl - Santa Hannah Pearl:
“Wishing you all a very merry Christmas and best wishes for 2018.  I’m so happy to have joined the Choc Lit family this year, and look forward to all of the wonderful stories that the next year will bring from this lovely team.”
Little Black Book
Lynda Stacey Santa - Santa Lynda Stacey:
Wishing you all a very happy and peaceful Christmas… along with lots of turkey, sprouts, figgy pudding and mince pies..! (Obviously not on all the same plate) xxxx”
House of Christmas Secrets
Berni Stevens - Santa Berni Stevens:
Wishing you all a fabulous festive time and lots of happy reading! Love Berni xxx
Revenge is Sweet
Christine Stovell - Santa Christine Stovell: 
“Nadolig Llawen!  Wishing you every happiness for Christmas and the New Year.”
Follow a Star
Carol Thomas - Santa Carol Thomas:
“I wish you a merry Christmas filled with festive cheer, and a very happy new year. I can’t wait to share my Ruby Fiction book with you in 2018 – proving that dreams can come true!”
Regret Me Not
Evonne Wareham - Santa Evonne Wareham:
“Wishing you a happy and peaceful Christmas, and a brilliant New Year, with time to read the books you enjoy most and maybe to find a few new authors too.”
What Happens at Christmas

MERRY CHRISTMAS, HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO ONE AND ALL!

Happy Publication Day Kathryn Freeman and A Second Christmas Wish!

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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! Especially now that we’re celebrating the release of the festive paperback of the season – A Second Christmas Wish by Kathryn Freeman! Kathryn has joined us on the blog today to talk a little bit about the book and also her first magical memories of Christmas (which of course include satsumas!) …

Today is an exciting day for me – it’s the paperback publication day for A Second Christmas Wish. The book features William, a very special little boy, who sadly doesn’t believe in Father Christmas.

When I was writing it, memories of Christmas when I was a child came flooding back. Unlike poor William, I had no hesitation in believing in the man in the red suit. And why wouldn’t I? A few weeks before Christmas I would write him a note, letting him know what I wanted for Christmas. Sometimes he even wrote back (it was years later I learnt those handwritten notes, beautifully penned in black ink, had come from my neighbour). Then on Christmas Eve, full of dizzy anticipation, I’d put my stocking on the end of my bed and dive under the covers. I was desperate to get to sleep quickly, because the faster I did, the earlier Christmas Day would arrive.

The first thing I did on Christmas morning, was wriggle my toes. Even now I can remember the joy of feeling the heavy weight of a present laden stocking. And presents weren’t just jammed into the red stocking, they spilt over onto the bed. Bubbling with excitement I’d rush to wake my brother and together we’d lug all our presents into mum and dad’s bedroom to show them. Little did we realise our poor parents knew all about the presents, because only a few hours ago they’d been wrapping them up! But my brother and I didn’t see their tired faces (who wants to be woken at dawn when you’ve got to bed late after a Christmas Eve party? Something I only appreciated when I had kids of my own). We only saw what Father Christmas had brought us.

It didn’t matter that when I dug into the stocking, the presents I unwrapped included a satsuma, a free poster from the newspaper and a Mickey Mouse painting set recycled from last year because my parents had seen it unopened in one of the cupboards. It didn’t matter because Father Christmas had handpicked and delivered these presents for me. I knew he had, because the whiskey we’d left out for him had been drunk, and the carrots we’d left for Rudolph had been nibbled.

Believing in Father Christmas is what made Christmas so special for me as a child (as you can see, it certainly wasn’t the presents…!). That’s the Christmas I hope I gave my own children (though the orange I left them was a chocolate one). And that’s the Christmas Melissa would love to give her own son, William. Perhaps, just perhaps, Daniel, William’s new tennis coach, can help her 🙂

A Second Christmas Wish is available as a paperback and in eBook from all good book retailers and platforms. Click HERE for purchasing options. 

For more information on Kathryn:
Vist her website – www.kathrynfreeman.co.uk
Follow her on Twitter – @KathrynFreeman
Like her on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/kathrynfreeman

A little help from Jenson Button …

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On Tuesday we celebrated the paperback release of Kathryn Freeman’s racy new book Before You, which is set in the glamorous world of Formula One. Today we welcome Kathryn to the blog to talk a little bit about her inspiration for the novel – and the help she received from a certain Mr Button 😉 

On Tuesday morning you would have found me pushing a bottle of fizz into the fridge, ready for the evening (okay, you’ve twisted my arm. Lunchtime). Why? Because this week it was the paperback publication day for Before You, my book set in the world of Formula One. Unlike the drivers on the podium though, I made sure not to waste a drop of fizz!

Motorsport for some is nail biting. The thrill of watching drivers perform breath-taking manoeuvres at great speed, dicing with death. To others, watching cars go round and round the same track over and over again is simply one huge yawn. Whichever side of the fence you sit on though, I believe there is something seriously sexy about a man who sits in that driver’s seat, pitting his strength, his wit, his instincts against other drivers, and against the track. Indeed, my long time sporting hero, Jenson Button, is a real life sexy racing driver. Little did I realise when my husband (who works for a company who sponsor Jenson’s old team, McClaren) brought me home this cardboard cutout that it would inspire me to write a romance set in the word of Formula One.

Me and BY close up study

But the cutout sits by my desk and I automatically turn to it whenever words dry up – which can mean me spending a long time staring into Jenson’s blue eyes. I defy anyone not to be inspired to write about a sexy driver after that.

My fictional racing hero is Aiden Foster, who lives his life like he drives his cars, fast and hard. His father had been a racing driver, too, and by the time of his tragic death he’d won five World Championships. Aiden has yet to win one. He’s now with a new team and, with a few dollops of luck and no distractions, he believes this could be his year.

Of course this author isn’t about to make life that easy for him …

His first distraction comes in the form of Melanie Taylor, his new press officer. She’s more girl-next-door than the glossy, beautiful women Aiden’s used to, but he finds her refreshing. She’s sharp, funny, dresses down rather than up and has an ability to see through him that’s as admirable as it is scary. Just as he’s trying to work his way through his attraction to her, he finds himself on distraction overload when he gets a shock call from a boarding school.

I’m going to leave it there, and hope that whatever side of the motorsport fence you sit on, you’ll consider giving Before You a try.

Before You is now available as an eBook on all platforms and as a paperback from all good book retailers. For buying options click HERE.

For more on Kathryn visit:

 Website:  http://kathrynfreeman.co.uk

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/kathrynfreeman

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/KathrynFreeman1

Happy Birthday to Us! Birthday Round Robin: Part Two by Kathryn Freeman

Birthday Round Robin Pt 2

It’s our eighth birthday today and we’re celebrating with a birthday story written collaboratively by our authors, competitions, prizes and a hefty slice of virtual chocolate cake! We invite you to join us 🙂 

Lynda Stacey started off our Round Robin in a very intriguing way and now it’s up to Kathryn Freeman to continue the story. Let’s see what happens next! Remember to make sense of the story, you will need to read the parts in order, so read Lynda’s Part One first HERE

If you read right until the end you might just find a competition to enter too! ;)  

The Birthday Surprise – Part Two by Kathryn Freeman

Declan stared in horror at the fancy invitation card – the one announcing his birthday party, for crying out loud – before glaring over at his brother.

‘Tell me this is a joke. Tell me you haven’t sent this out to anyone.’

Ralph, of the dashing good looks and forever smiling face, had the good sense to at least look apologetic, even though Declan knew it was an act. ‘I thought you’d be pleased. Flattered. Excited?’

Declan wasn’t any of those things. ‘I’ll tell you what I am. Fed up. Annoyed. Ready to punch someone.’

Proving he had a strong sense of self-preservation, along with his modicum of good sense, Ralph took a few steps back. ‘Come on, it’ll be fun. A man doesn’t turn thirty every day.’

‘Exactly,’ Declan hissed. ‘I’m a thirty-year-old man. Not a three-year-old boy. I don’t want a frigging birthday party.’

‘Why not?’ Before Declan had the chance to remind him he didn’t do parties, didn’t do socialising. Didn’t do any of the normal things a thirty-year-old might be expected to do, Ralph was talking again. ‘You’ve turned into a recluse and I’m not prepared to sit back and let you waste your life any longer. If you don’t want to celebrate the milestone of thirty years, how about celebrating that it’s been two years, since … you know.’

Declan did know. He didn’t need a ruddy party to remind him of the fact. ‘Not a fact I want to remember,’ he answered curtly.

‘Eight years since you last flashed those dimples of yours?’ It was said with a smile, but the message was clear.

‘Eight isn’t a particularly significant milestone,’ Declan countered, ignoring the dig.

‘Every milestone is significant. Every one worth celebrating, especially if it makes you smile.’

‘I’ve had damn little to smile about for a long while.’

A brief flash of sympathy crossed his brother’s face. ‘I know. Which is why I wanted to do something to rectify that.’

Declan felt a tug of remorse. ‘Okay, I appreciate the sentiment, but a party? Seriously? Do you not know me at all?’ Maybe he no longer did, Declan thought with a wave of sadness.

‘I know you once liked to party,’ Ralph said quietly. ‘I remember your school prom. How you couldn’t stop smiling when you put on that suit. Slicked back your hair like some sort of second coming of Elvis.’

Declan felt his chest tighten as an image of a girl with dark red hair in a long green dress flashed through his mind. Next to her he saw himself, all wide-eyed, innocent and eager. No clue of what life had in store for him. ‘It wasn’t the thought of the party that had me smiling,’ he admitted gruffly.

‘I know. It was that girl you kept drooling over.’ Ralph paused, giving Declan a careful study. ‘What happened to her, do you know?’

Declan sighed, shoving his hands in his pockets. It all seemed a lifetime ago. ‘She moved schools, we lost touch.’ He’d written once, painfully scratching out attempt after attempt at a letter until finally ending up with something stilted and short. He’d never received a reply.

‘Umm.’ Ralph’s eyes drifted away from his and over to the window before finally glancing down at his watch. ‘Well, we’d better get ready. Guests are due to arrive in a few hours.’

‘How many guests, exactly?’

‘Well, let me see. If I’d gone with just the people you count as friends, there’d be  …’ Ralph held up his hand and started to count his fingers. ‘Two?’

Declan resisted the urge to throw something at him. ‘Two would be my sort of party.’

‘Yeah. And about as lively as a nursing home after lunch. So I also invited the family we still talk to, plus those of my friends who can tolerate you.’

‘Thanks.’

‘And a few people from work.’

Declan raised his brow. ‘How’s it going on that front? Didn’t you have a new apprentice starting?’

‘Yes, Helen. Lovely girl. She used to go to the same school as us.’

‘Oh?’ Was it his imagination, or was Ralph avoiding his eyes?

‘She’s eight years younger than me but it’s surprising how many connections we had in common.’

Declan narrowed his eyes. ‘Do you fancy this girl?’

‘Of course not.’

‘Then why are you staring at the wall behind me when you talk about her?’

‘I’m not.’ Ralph’s eyes swung back to his. ‘Just because you don’t have a love life, don’t think you have to help mine. I do perfectly well by myself, thank you very much.’

Anxious to avoid any further discussion on how sad Ralph thought his older brother’s life was, Declan nodded. ‘Fine.’

‘Right, I’ll leave you to try and make yourself presentable for your guests.’

As Ralph walked towards the door Declan sighed, pulling out his phone. What the hell? ‘Ralph,’ he shouted, stopping his brother just before he left. ‘Why have I got a whole load of requests to be friends with people on Facebook? I don’t have a bloody Facebook account.’

‘Ah.’ Ralph smirked back at him. ‘You do now. Consider it part of your birthday present, along with the party. My contribution to bringing Declan Doherty back to life.’

Oooh, the plot thickens! What’s led to Declan’s reclusive tendencies – and can a birthday party bring him out of his shell? We’ll find out in a couple of hours time when Lisa Hill takes her turn 🙂 

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     If you enjoyed Kathryn’s writing, you might like to check out her upcoming paperback, Before You. Click HERE for more information.

COMPETITION TIME!

To be in with a chance of winning one of Kathryn’s books and some chocolate simply answer the question below (we hope you’ve been reading carefully!):

How many years younger is Helen than Ralph?

To enter, send your answer to info@choc-lit.co.uk with the subject heading ‘Round Robin Kathryn Freeman comp’ by Tuesday 20th June. The winner will be picked at random and announced on Wednesday 21st June.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2017 from Choc Lit

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Merry Christmas everyone, Happy Holidays! Thank you for all your fabulous support in 2017. We look forward to sharing more exciting releases and fabulous Choc Lit books with you in the new year.

Love from the Choc Lit Team x
(Lyn, Lusana, Sarah, Jane O, Liz, Jane E, Marie, Jessamy, Paul, Bernie)

And now for some messages from our Choc Lit Santas …

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Santa - Rhoda Baxter Rhoda Baxter: Have a fantastic Christmas and raise a glass to a wonderful year in 2017! May you get lots of joy and chocolate and books.

 

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AnnMarie Santa photoAnneMarie Brear: “As 2016 draws to a close, I’d like to take this opportunity to wish all the readers who supported me and my book, Where Dragonflies Hover, this year! Merry Christmas and a safe and happy 2017! ”

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Jan Santa photoJan Brigden: “Thanks for your fabulous support this past year. Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas and much joy, peace and good health for 2017 (and the occasional choccie or two, of course …) Enjoy the festivities!”

 

9781781892572 Angela Britnell - Santa!Angela Britnell: “To all our wonderful Choc Lit readers here’s wishing you a peaceful and joyous holiday season and the best of everything for 2017 including all the books you can read and an abundance of chocolate!”

 

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Sheryl Browne Santa!Sheryl Browne: “Wishing all our lovely readers a very merry Choc Lit filled Christmas. Your support over the year has been wonderful. Thank you! I hope Santa is kind to you and that all your dreams and wishes come true. Cosy up and keep safe everyone!”

 

9781781892596Clare Chase - Santa!Clare Chase“Wishing you a very happy, cosy Christmas and a wonderful 2017!”

 

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Valerie Olteanu  - Isabeall Connor - SantaLiv Thomas - Isabella Connor - Santa!Isabella Connor (Liv & Val): Nollaig shona dhaoibh. Wishing all Choc Lit readers and their families, a wonderful Christmas, and a happy 2017.”

 

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Victoria  Santas2Victoria Cornwall: I hope you have a wonderful, laughter filled, Christmas which will leave you with memories to cherish for years to come.

 

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Christina Courtenay - Santa!Christina Courtenay: I wish you all a wonderful Christmas with everything and everyone you love, including of course loads of chocolate and plenty of time for reading your favourite books! Enjoy!”

 

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Kirsty Ferry - Santa!Kirsty Ferry: “Wishing you all a happy, healthy and wonderful 2017.Hope you wake up on Christmas morning to joy, peace and a Santa Sack full of books, chocolate and your favourite tipple!”

 

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Debbie Santa photoDebbie Flint: “Well it’s my first Devon Christmas, helping out at a writing retreat venue in Sheepwash and aiming to get the biggest tree ever! Here’s a xmas joke for you – what do you get when you cross a snowman with a vampire? Frost-bite! hehe! Have a lovely festive season!”

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Kathryn Freeman - Santa!Kathryn Freeman: “Christmas – a time to relax, to indulge. Whetheryou’re turkey or goose, chocolate or champagne, Christmas films or a sack full of books, I wish you all a very happy Christmas.”

 

9781781893067Janet Gover - Santa!Janet Gover: “I hope you enjoy the festive season. Take time to be with those you love.And don’t forget to treat yourself to something special – you know you deserve it. Thank you for all your support this year, and may 2017 be filled with peace and joy for you and yours.”

 

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Morton SantaMorton S. Gray: “Have a lovely peaceful Christmas and keep dreaming those dreams. Anything is possible in 2017.”

 

 

9781781890714Henriette Gyland - Santa!Henriette Gyland: “Happy Christmas, or Glædelig Jul which is what we say in Denmark. In the face of tumultuous and terrible events across the world wish to remember that Christmas is the time for love and kindness. And reading. Lots of it!”

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Linn's Santas photoLinn B. Halton: “I’ve asked Santa for snow this year – enough to allow us all to wake up to a white Christmas morn, but I’ve also asked that it doesn’t hang around long! If he can’t deliver a brief winter wonderland treat, then I’m sending you all a Christmas hug. I hope that it’s a time of great joy and happiness for one and all.”

9781781893012Liz Harris - Santa!Liz Harris: “2016 will soon be but a distant memory. Hopefully, it’s been a fabulous year for you all, and is leaving behind it nothing but good memories. And, equally hopefully, 2017 will be even better for you, with all the wishes that you wish for yourself coming true. A happy, healthy 2017 to you and your families, dear readers.”

 

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Laura E James - Santa!Laura E.James: “Wishing all our readers a happy and peaceful Christmas and a wonderful New Year. Thank you for reading, reviewing and enjoying our Choc Lit books. In my opinion, it’s the best gift an author can receive. xx”

 

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Margaret James - Santa!Margaret James:“A very happy, peaceful and contented Christmas to the friends of Choc Lit all over the world who support us in so many ways – by buying or borrowing our books, blogging, Tweeting, leaving posts on Facebook and reviewing, to name just a few. We appreciate all you do for us and hope to entertain you for a long time to come! Very best wishes for a great festive season and a wonderful 2017.”

 

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Jane Lovering - Santa!Jane Lovering: “Wishing everyone a happy HobNob dunking, marshmallow toasting, Tony Robinson watching day! Although if you don’t like any of these things, I wish you a Happy Christmas anyway…all the more for me!”

 

Emma and her Daughter by Linda Mitchelmore CMYK


Linda Mitchelmore - Santa!Linda Mitchelmore: “Happy Christmas to you all. I hope you will have a wonderful time, spending Christmas in whichever way you choose. I also hope there will  be a little window of time to curl up with a Choc Lit novel – or two – somewhere warm with a glass of something festive.”

9781781892916Lynda Stacey Santa photoLynda Stacey: “Wishing all my wonderful friends and readers, a very happy, safe and peaceful Christmas. xx”

 

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Berni Stevens - Santa!Berni Stevens: “Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas, a happy healthy 2017, and many fabulous hours of reading.”

 

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Christine Stovell - Santa!Christine Stovell: “Wishing you love, kindness and generosity of spirit, not just for Christmas  but throughout the year.”

9781781890752Sarah Tranter - Santa!Sarah Tranter: “Merry Xmas and a fabulous 2017 to you all!”

 

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Evonne Wareham - Santa!Evonne Wareham: “Good wishes for a happy Christmas, with good food, good company and good books, and some time to read them! I’m aiming to have a fabulous year in 2017 and I wish everyone the same. See you then!”

 

MERRY CHRISTMAS, HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO ONE AND ALL!

 

Tennis at Christmas?

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Tennis and Christmas? Not a natural match, perhaps – but Kathryn Freeman makes it work in her new novel, A Second Christmas Wish! And she has written about how she did it … 

My first Christmas book, A Second Christmas Wish, was out at the beginning of November. I confess I haven’t been this excited about Christmas since Father Christmas came down the chimney and left presents on the end of my bed.

Those were the days. Days I dragged out of my memory when I began to plot out this story. Not to recreate them, but to remember some of the magic of Christmas that crowded shops, Christmas card writing and remembering to book my online grocery slot two months before I need it, has dimmed.

In fact before I began to write A Second Christmas Wish I made a list of all the things I liked most about Christmas; the nativity play, mince pies, snow balls, Christmas trees. Festive traditions a reader would easily associate with Christmas and which I gleefully weaved into the story. I also ended up including a few themes not traditionally associated with Christmas though. Like tennis.

Umm, so why on earth did I write about tennis in a Christmas book? The answer lies in my heroine, Melissa and her son, William. They are still recovering from her ill-fated marriage to a man who turned out to be a manipulative husband and cold father. It’s left them both wary of men and disillusioned with Christmas.

I needed them to meet a man who would help put some sparkle back into their Christmas. But how to meet him? William lacks confidence so I thought giving him some lessons in a sport would help improve this. Also because I’m a sucker for a sports star. Over the years I’ve had many sporting idols, like Jonny Wilkinson, Seve Ballesteros, Michael Owen. And don’t get me started on Jenson Button … he’s why I ended up writing a romance about a sexy racing driver.

Sorry, talk of Jenson has derailed me. Sexy men have a habit of doing that. I was deciding on a sport for my young hero, William. I considered football, but for a sensitive boy that didn’t seem quite right. I could have gone with a snowy theme and picked skiing but again, pushing a shy boy down a slope didn’t fit well with me, though of course I’m sure skiing coaches aren’t that mean.

The more I thought about it, the more tennis seemed a perfect fit. It isn’t a contact sport but you can learn in a group. Plus it’s a sport I know something about because I play it myself and my sons both had coaching from the age William is in the story. That’s the only reason they can beat me now of course …

So that’s how the hero of A Second Christmas Wish became ex-tennis professional Daniel McCormick. A man who’s recently opened a tennis academy, teaching youngsters the joy of the sport he loves but had to give up through injury. He’s over six feet of rippling athleticism. Imagine a combination of Pat Cash and Rafael Nadal. I know I did, when I was writing him. He certainly added a sparkle to my days but the question is, did he do the same for Melissa?

… And you can find out whether he did in A Second Christmas Wish which is now available to buy on all eBook platforms! 

Kindle UK  Kindle US  Kindle AUS  Kindle CA

For more information on Kathryn, follow her on Twitter @KathrynFreeman

Or visit her website: www.kathrynfreeman.co.uk

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays from the Choc Lit Team and our Santa Clauses!

Merry Christmas from Team Choc Lit!

Merry Christmas everyone, Happy Holidays! Thank you for all your fabulous support in 2015. We look forward to sharing more exciting releases and fabulous Choc Lit books with you in the new year.
Love from the Choc Lit Team x
(Lyn, Lusana, Jane O, Liz, Jane E, Marie, Jessamy) 

And now a message from our Choc Lit Santas: 🙂

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juliet Santa photoJuliet Archer:  “As Jane Austen said in Emma, published 200 years ago this month: ‘This is quite the season indeed for friendly meetings. At Christmas every body invites their friends about them, and people think little of even the worst weather.’ I wish you all a wonderful Christmas and New Year, with lots of ‘friendly meetings’ and as little as possible of ‘the worst weather’.”

Santa - Rhoda BaxterPLEASE RELEASE ME_front150dpiRhoda Baxter: “Wish you all a fab holiday season with lots of chocolate, cake and nice warming books to read. See you next year.”

 

Zana Bell - Santa!

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Zana Bell: Meri Kirihimete (Maori) everyone and many best wishes from New Zealand. May you all have a wonderful festive season. ”

 

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AnneMarie Brear: “Wishing everyone a very merry Christmas, (a perfect time to read good books) and a safe and healthy 2016!”

 

 

Jan Santa photo

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Jan Brigden: “Wishing everyone a joyful, peaceful, healthy Christmas & New Year, with much festive good cheer, happy reading (and chocolate goodies aplenty!). Enjoy!”

 

Angela Britnell - Santa!

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Angela Britnell: “Wishing all of our Choc Lit readers a joyous Christmas and a wonderful New Year filled with good books!”

 

Sheryl Browne Santa!

 

9781781892350Sheryl Browne: Christmas time, mistletoe and wine … If you fancy a gorgeous hero to complete the scene, dip into scrummy Choc Lit book. Perfection. Have a lovely Christmas everyone!


You Think You Know MeClare Chase - Santa!Clare Chase: “Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas, full of warmth and good cheer, followed by a very happy 2016.”

 

An Irish Promise

Valerie Olteanu  - Isabeall Connor - SantaLiv Thomas - Isabella Connor - Santa!Isabella Connor (Liv & Val):  Nollaig shona dhaoibh. Wishing all Choc Lit readers and their families, a wonderful Christmas, and a happy 2016.”

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Christina Courtenay - Santa!Christina Courtenay: “I would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Have a peaceful, relaxing holiday hopefully with lots of time for reading! Thank you all for your support this year and here’s to a fantastic year in 2016!  Christina xxx”

Some Veil Did Fall

Kirsty Ferry - Santa!

Kirsty Ferry: “Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas and a happy, healthy 2016. I hope you enjoy a festive season filled with cake, chocolate and a multitude of good books! Love from Kirsty xxx”

 

9781781892206Debbie Santa photoDebbie Flint: “Wishing you sleighbells and snowflakes, mince pies andmulled wine, silent nights and holly-days, myrrh and magic moments, tinselled tots and festive pets, plus perfect peace, Christmas cheer – and to all a good night!”

 

9781781892466 Kathryn Freeman - Santa!Kathryn Freeman: “Christmas – a time to relax, to indulge. Whether you’re turkey or goose, chocolate or champagne, Christmas films or a sack full of books, I wish you all a very happy Christmas.”

 

Janet Gover - Santa!9781781892688Janet Gover: “May Christmas be a time of joy for you and yours – and I hope 2016 will be a wonderful year filled with love and laughter.”

 

 

The Highwayman's Daughter

Henriette Gyland - Santa!Henriette Gyland: “Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. May 2016 be filled with love, laughter and good books to read.”

 

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Linn B. Halton: Wishing everyone peace, love and happiness this Christmas time, and a wonderful start to 2016! Linn x

 

 

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Liz Harris - Santa!Liz Harris: “Wishing you everything for 2015 that you wish for yourself.  May it be a year filled with health, happiness, chocolate and, of course, books!!”

 


The Wedding Cake TreeMelanie Hudson - Santa!Melanie Hudson: 
“Wishing you love, light and oodles of laughter this Christmas.”

 

 

9781781892701Laura E James - Santa!Laura E.James: “Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas and a 2016 that’s overflowing with good health and great books.”

 

 

Magic Sometimes Happens

Margaret James - Santa!Margaret James: “Merry Christmas, readers and writers, and may 2016 be a wonderful year for you all.”

 


Impossible ThingsKate Johnson Santa!Kate Johnson: “I’d like to wish everyone a very happy festive season and offer my best wishes for the new year.”

 


Dangerous DecisionsMargaret Kaine - Santa!Margaret Kaine: “I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas whether you are spending it with family or friends, or have chosen to be on your own surrounded by chocolates, wine and good books. May I wish you both good health and happiness throughout 2016.”

 

Jane Lovering - Santa!9781781892817Jane Lovering: “Wishing everyone a happy HobNob dunking, marshmallow toasting, Tony Robinson watching day! Although if you don’t like any of these things, I wish you a Happy Christmas anyway…all the more for me! JANE X”

 

9781781892176Sally santa photoSally Malcolm: “Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas, and a New Yearfull of adventure!”

 

 

Alison May - Santa!9781781892947Alison May: “May your festive season be joyful and filled with books, chocolate and all good things. Happy Christmas one and all.”

 

 

Emma - There's No Turning BackLinda Mitchelmore - Santa!Linda Mitchelmore: “Happy Christmas to you all. I hope you will have a wonderful time, spending Christmas in whichever way you choose. I also hope there will  be a little window of time to curl up with a Choc Lit novel – or two – somewhere warm with a glass of something festive.”

Lynda Stacey Santa photoLynda Stacey: “May your Christmas sparkle with happiness, surprises and above all else, good health. Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a fabulous 2016  xx”

 

 

DANCE UNTIL DAWNBerni Stevens - Santa!Berni Stevens: “Wishing everyone a Perfectly Paranormal Christmas and a peaceful New Year! Happy reading! Love Berni xxx”

 

Follow a StarChristine Stovell - Santa!Christine Stovell: Nadolig Llawen! Merry Christmas one and all. Here’s wishing you everything you would wish for yourself.”

 

Romancing the SoulSarah Tranter - Santa!Sarah Tranter: “Merry Xmas and a fabulous 2016 to you all!”

 

 

Never Marry a Politician!Sarah Tranter - Santa!Sarah Waights: “Wishing all Choc Lit readers a fabulous Christmas and as much romance and chocolate as you can handle in the year to come.”

 

Out of Sight Out of Mind

Evonne Wareham - Santa!Evonne Wareham: “Happy Christmas – Nadolig Llawen – and health, happiness and lots of good books for everyone in 2016.”

 

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Nicky Wells:  “Frohe Weihnachten und ein Gutes Neues! ~That’s “Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year” in my native German, and I’d like to wish you both of those with all myheart. May your Christmas sparkle and may your 2016 be filled with love, laughter and happiness. Xx”

MERRY CHRISTMAS, HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO ONE AND ALL!