A Very Special Nashville Hero

Earlier this week we released Angela Britnell’s new novella Here Comes the Best Man – the perfect read for wedding season and warm weather! Today Angela chats a little bit about the hero of the book, Josh Robertson, and by the end of this post we’re sure you’ll be dying to read more about this strong, smouldering but complex Nashville hero 😉

‘Apart from standing up with Chad at his wedding I’m nobody’s best man – trust me.’

There was never supposed to be a sequel to The Wedding Reject Table until Josh Robertson’s stubborn streak came into play. I wrote Here Comes the Best Man because Josh nagged me to tell his story, with no expectations that he’d get a romantic happy ending because it wouldn’t occur to him he deserved such a thing.

Josh is far too aware of what he considers to be his failings. He doesn’t possess his younger brother Chad’s easy charm, he’s been at loggerheads with his father since he was a rebellious teenager and he’s convinced he let down his fellow soldiers during his years in the US Army. His objective is to do his duty by his brother and return to his Colorado retreat as fast as possible.

I started off knowing very little about Josh because the brief appearance he made in The Wedding Reject Table didn’t reveal much but I soon discovered he shared a common trait with the rest of my Nashville book heroes. He’s not an aspiring country music star waiting tables or selling shoes to pay the bills while he longs for his big break. But … and this is a big one… country music still runs through Josh’s blood. To him it’s both a blessing and a curse, the two so intertwined he can’t see the proverbial wood for the trees.

As a baby his mother sang Johnny Cash classics to lull him to sleep and the moment he taught himself to play the guitar Josh fell in love with the incredible power music gave him to express his emotions. All of this tells his father, Big J Robertson, that his oldest son is set on his pre-determined path as the country music equivalent of Prince Charles, the heir to their three generations’ old family guitar business. However Josh in convinced that leaving Nashville and making his own path in life is the only way to be himself but still the music never leaves him alone.

When my story begins the last twenty years have taken a toll on Josh and the first time Louise Giles sets eyes on him she sums Josh up with astonishing accuracy.

‘The superficial resemblance to his younger brother ended at his mesmerising tawny eyes and thick jet-black hair. There was no smooth charming veneer to Josh Robertson, only a dark, hard world-weariness he wore like a heavy winter coat.’

I wanted to help lighten Josh’s load. As the inimitable Audrey tells him ‘We all have our sorrows and regrets. We learn to live with them.’ Of course you’ll have to read Here Comes the Best Man to discover if Louise, Josh’s family and music hand him the key to a future he could only dream of. All of my heroes are special but there’s something about Josh that I hope makes everyone root for him and fall more than a little in love because in the end that’s what truly matters.

Here Comes the Best Man is available from all eBook platforms. Click on the cover image above for purchasing options. 

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Laura E James: Absolute Beginners

As I sit down to write this post on first loves, quite by chance the velvet tones of David Bowie have eased their way into my consciousness and soothed my furrowed brow. I’m listening to Now 1986, and Absolute Beginners is playing. I loved this song. I loved it so much, I bought the vinyl 12 inch. I wanted to spend plenty of quality time with David ‒ something the 45 single couldn’t deliver. In those days, there wasn’t a repeat button, and I had to get up from my comfy red chair to return the arm of the record player to the start of the disc to hear it again. I was up and down like the proverbial yo-yo. I didn’t mind. It gave me the opportunity to linger a while by my bedroom shelf and sigh over the black and white Bowie postcard perched there.

When Absolute Beginners was a hit, I was nineteen; the age Chris Frampton is when he first meets Vicky Paveley, in Follow Me, Follow You. Emotionally and physically, they are each other’s first loves. They know this because their love is that raw, intense, can’t-live-without-you love. The sort that stops you eating, stops you sleeping and stops you speaking about anything other than that boy, that girl, that person, who’s so part of your being, you will absolutely, most definitely, positively die if you don’t see them at least once a day.

Shortly after Gajitman and I became a couple, I was due to jet off for three weeks to Dubai to spend Christmas with my parents. The plans had been made long before I fell madly in love with this tall, gentle, IT man, and as much I was looking forward to seeing my family, the thought of being parted from him hurt.rings

Before I left, I took a photo of him, so I could keep him close at hand. Like my Bowie postcard, the picture was endlessly sighed over. Once in Dubai, I bought a frame, and Gajitman took pride of place on my bedside table. I spoke about him so often to my parents, my mum put a daily restriction on how many times I could mention his name. This makes me smile even now.

Gajitman and I were friends for a couple of years before love took a grip and gave us a good shake. I was twenty-six by this point, and (Gajitman and impressionable children in the James household turn away now), I’d been out with other men.

This brings me to the question: what defines a first love?

Is it those intense feelings you’re experiencing for the cute boy in your maths class who’s helped you understand probability? (What are the chances he’ll go out with me?) Is it the painful, ‘He doesn’t even know I exist but I love him madly’ obsession of a gorgeous pop star? Or is it when the recollection of the dream you had about that person, turns your stomach into Claudia Fragapane and somersaults across the room? If it is, then I’ve had many first loves, especially with those gorgeous pop stars.

Or is first love the complete experience? The reciprocal, full-on, all-encompassing, passionate love you want to last a lifetime even if, as a couple, you don’t?Wedding Photo Cutting The Cake Hands 2

This is the love Chris and Victoria share in their teens. There will have been other girlfriends and other boys, plenty of first hand-holding and first kisses, but this? This is the exciting, painful, wonderful, exhausting, totally absorbing love. This is the real deal. This is their first love.

I’ve reached the conclusion there isn’t a standard answer to my question. I think the only person who can know what it is that defines a first love, is you.

As someone who can spend days giving serious consideration as to what to write in a birthday card, words and their meanings are of great importance to me, so I know my first, true, romantic love was and still is with the only man to whom I’ve said, ‘I love you.’

And that isn’t David Bowie.

*hits repeat*

Can a first love last forever?



You save me and I’ll save you…

Victoria Noble has pulled the plug on romance. As director of the number one social networking site, EweSpeak, and single mother to four-year-old Seth, she wrestles with the work-life balance.

Enter Chris Frampton, Hollywood action hero and Victoria’s first love. His return from LA has sparked a powder keg of media attention, and with secrets threatening to fuel the fire, he’s desperate to escape.

But finding a way forward is never simple. Although his connection with Victoria is as strong as when he was nineteen, has he been adrift too long to know how to move on?

With the risk of them breaking, will either #follow their heart?

Available TODAY on Google Play, Kobo, Apple and Kindle. Paperback out in September – pre-order here.

Weddings are about – everlasting love, the happy union of twin souls, and – cake?

What do weddings mean to most of us?

That’s in addition to the ceremony, the public affirmation of love and devotion, the joining of two people and hopefully two families forever?

Well – as I was researching The Wedding Diary, I realised most weddings also mean: gorgeous dresses, gorgeous shoes, fantastic nail-art, amazing table decorations, astonishing hairstyles, lots of polyester (especially among the over-fifties), hugely unsuitable hats, hyper-critical grannies, shiny black BMWs and – cake.

You can’t have a wedding without a wedding cake, so here’s one to get the party started.

Where do your stories start? Most writers get asked this question, and there’s no easy answer. Stories often seem to come out of nowhere, but in the case of The Wedding Diary I owe a great debt of gratitude to my local writers’ group, Exeter Writers, who got the ball rolling in a discussion about writing and weddings and winning, which all came together in The Wedding Diary. It’s about a girl who wins a fabulous luxury wedding. But there are a few problems, not least of them a missing bridegroom.

Last Saturday, Exeter Writers had a little private party to celebrate the publication The Wedding Diary. I took in a batch of cupcakes, which amazingly all got eaten. Who would have thought it?

But I kept one back for Choc Lit.

Chris: Wednesday’s word is Wedding!

We're going for something less formal!

We're going for something less formal!

With my daughter’s wedding taking place in, ooh, a little under two months’ time, this Wednesday’s ‘w’ could only mean one thing to me as it’s an occasion I’m delighted about and greatly looking forwards to. Except for the four o’clock in the morning worries when I have a fret about everyone turning up on time and doing what they’re supposed to do – and I don’t mean the bride and groom. So long as everyone remembers this is Their Special Day, I’ll be happy – and no one will get to meet MoBzilla so they’ll be happy too.

Having studied some social anthropology, I’m very interested in the rituals and traditions of rites of passage (I’m also fascinated by borders and geographical locations on the ‘edge of places’ hence my penchant for setting my books by the coast, but that’s another story!). One of the rituals I’ll be carrying out for my daughter before she sets off to her wedding is helping her dress. In preparation, I’ve been studying YouTube clips to see how to lace up a wedding dress and how to arrange a veil (if only YouTube had been around when my daughter was born – I might have felt less at sea as a new mum!).

I also asked one of the young women at my hairdressers who’d recently got married, how long it had taken her to get ready. ‘Oh not long,’ she said, ‘my sister helped. Although it wasn’t until I saw the photos that I saw she’d laced the dress up wrong and got fake tan on the back of it.’ Eeek! And the veil? ‘That blew off as soon as I got out the car,’ she said. ‘But I had a lovely day!’

And that’s the point, isn’t it? Wedding days come and go and if something isn’t perfect, it doesn’t matter so long as the bride and groom are happy. So do feel free to share your triumphs and disasters…then this MoBzilla can know what to look out for!