Presidential Nominees Rarely Speak To Muslim Audiences… guess who did

A detail of downtown Miami’s One Thousand Museum tower by Zaha Hadid Architects. Photo by Hufton + Crow.jpg

 

Dear readers,

I was thrilled to read that 2020 US presidential candidate Joe Biden shares my commitment to peace and ending crimes of racial hatred. The following is an excerpt from a news article:

“On Monday, Biden focused on Islamophobia, Trump, the need for both Palestinians and Israelis to have a state of their own, and the contributions of Muslims in fighting the coronavirus pandemic. He didn’t mention terrorism or Islamic extremism.

“One of the things that I think is important: I wish, I wish we taught more in our schools about the Islamic faith,” Biden said. “What people don’t realize is … we all come from the same root here, in terms of our fundamental basic beliefs.”‘

You can read the full article here: https://www.npr.org/2020/07/20/893066503/presidential-nominees-rarely-speak-to-muslim-audiences-biden-did-monday

It’s a sentiment I share in Claimed by the Sheikh, inspired by the work and life of the pioneering elegance of Zaha Hadid. The photo above is a detail of downtown Miami’s One Thousand Museum tower by Zaha Hadid Architects. Isn’t the reference to Islamic design beautiful? Photo by Hufton + Crow.

That’s what beautiful is…not wars as Donald Trump claims. Ask anyone who has lost a son, a daughter, a loved one.

As I shared in the Author’s Note:

This book was inspired by the sassy brilliance of Dame Zaha Hadid. (DBE RA) She was an Iraqi-British architect and the first woman to receive the Pritzker Architecture Prize, in 2004. Tragically her life, her love, and her brilliance was cut short when she was in the prime of her career, aged 65. Her beautiful, innovative, pioneering architecture always inspired me, as it has countless other people. Hers was not an easy journey.

She once said, “If architecture doesn’t kill you you’re no good.”

She was beyond goodand architecture did kill her. She never married and she never had children. And she was always battling the architectural paternity for validation and acceptance. Despite her career success, her life struck me as very lonely and sad.

Claimed by the Sheikh was also inspired by the tragedy in 2015 that took the lives of former New Zealand All Black legend Jerry Collins and his Canadian partner Alana Madill in France.

The crash happened at 3:10am along the highway near Béziers on the way to the city of Montpellier. They died instantly, and their baby daughter was taken to Montpellier hospital in a critical condition.

I cried such tears thinking of that baby being left an orphan. It really worried me that she would be left in the world with no parents to love and care for her.

So I wonderedwhat if her parents weren’t really dead? What if the two people that died were the baby’s adoptive parents? What if her biological parents were very much alive?

And then, as writers are want to do, I thought, what if the biological father was an extraordinarily wealthy sheikh who was unaware that he had fathered a child?

Why a Sheikh? In a previous incarnation as a transformational leadership coach I was on assignment in one the most dangerous prisons in New Zealand.

I very much admired the men and women who worked in these very oppressive environments to keep our world safe. I especially admired those that were committed to helping prisoners change their lives.

One of the female prison ocers at Rimutaka Prison knew that I was a romance novelist and asked me if I would write a book with a sheikh as the hero.

So here he is, Cheryl. I dedicate Melanie and Tariq’s love story for you. And I also dedicate this book to the survivors of the 2019 Christchurch mosque shootings in New Zealandand to those around the world who know that only love can bring peace.

Because this story was also born from a desire to understand and draw closer to the true beauty of Islamic faith and belief.

I hope you enjoy this excerpt from Chapter 5 of Claimed by The Sheikh

Three hours later Melanie was wheeling her carry-on suitcase through the stark grey, soulless walls of Paris’s Hôpital Necker when she caught sight of Tariq na Hassir. Sheikh Tariq na Hassir, she corrected as she took an abrupt step back, panic shooting through her in a splintering surge of shock.

She froze as he feasted his dark contemptuous gaze on her, too stunned to believe that he was really there. Too overwhelmed to comprehend that in the midst of this tragedy the man she had once loved with all her soul stood before her. Too appalled that the man who had broken her heart, the man she had believed, hoped, and prayed she would never see again was advancing toward her.

It was beyond horrific. The worst of circumstances. She wanted to flee from the tainted memories that united them and stained their past. She wanted to run from the contamination of the choices she had made. She wanted to bolt from the danger he presented but her black ankle boots felt glued to the sanitised linoleum floor.

“What are you doing here?” she hurtled out.

“I am claiming my brother’s son,” he said with righteous arrogance.

“You?” Her voice rose beyond the bounds of what was acceptable in a hospital. “You never wanted a child, isn’t that what you said when you threw me from your bed?”

“You left.”

“You gave me no choice. I wanted marriage, a man who would love me—children. You didn’t. Not with a commoner,” Melanie said without making eye contact, her voice trembling with hurt and regret.

Tariq crossed his arms over his powerful chest. “I never said that.”

“You made that abundantly clear. I wanted to be your wife—not your convenient mistress,” she gritted. “I wasn’t good enough. Just like little Salim. Only he’ll be worse, won’t he? Salim’s a half-caste— your brother’s royal blood tainted by a Western whore. That’s what your father called my sister, didn’t he?” she fired at him. “But he was wrong. Zayed loved my sister. He married her against your father’s wishes. She was his lawful wife, not his shameful wench.”

I feel nothing for you, she lied to herself as she pushed past Tariq and walked toward the glass wall separating her from her son.

“Oh my god,” Melanie bit her lip, blinking back tears, as she looked at the small boy lying bandaged in the paediatric hospital bed. Her fingers trembled with longing, wanting to hold her son for the first time in her arms.

Why does love always cause pain, she thought, looking up at Tariq and then back toward her son? She studied Salim’s closed eyes, his dark lashes resting peacefully against his cheeks, his wild curly hair splayed upon the starched hospital linen, his cupid lips curved into a mercifully comatose dream, she was suddenly struck by how like Tariq he was.

God, we created something beautiful.

“Where are the doctors? Nurses? Why isn’t anyone here….?” She said, spinning around.

“They’re preparing to leave.” He said, exuding authority and a compelling magnetism that sent her pulse soaring.

“Leave? I don’t understand? Why? Where?” She stammered.

“I’m taking my brother’s child back to Avana.”

Salim, his name is Salim. God, can’t you even say his name.”

“You’re upset.”

“Yes, I’m upset,” she flew at him. “My sister is dead, and now you want to take away my…” she swallowed hard, forcing back the truth she yearned to speak, “—my only connection to her.”

Just like you always remove the things most important to me.

“Besides, you can’t just take a three-year-old boy who has just survived a fatal car crash from the hospital.”

“I can and I will.”

“He’ll die.” How could she trust him, when he had deceived her before?

“Salim will die if he stays in France,” he said jabbing at the headlines in a newspaper laying on the waiting room table. “The place is almost prehistoric. Hospital fire kills. Read it for yourself.”

Melanie scanned the paper and read the article out loud, “A fire at a Paris hospital has killed eleven newborn babies. The blaze is believed to have been caused by electrical wiring.”

Her hand flew to her mouth. “How horrible…Oh my God…Those poor babies… Those mothers… ” her voice trailed off. Mother. She was a mother. It still didn’t seem real.

“It is already decided. Only I can ensure the child’s protection.” Not a muscle in Tariq’s hard, handsome face moved, and feeling as though he’d slapped her, as though he too considered her unworthy of the title, Melanie looked away.

“My aids have assembled and flown to my kingdom the most skilled medical staff in the world. Everything has been arranged. We leave in my private jet today.”

“You can’t just take my—” she paused, frantically scrambling for the right words. How could she possibly reveal the truth? His wrath would be merciless. Her deception would only make his resolve to claim her child stronger.

“You can’t just take my sister’s child like that. You have no more claim to him than I do. What about what I want?”

“You?” he almost spat the word. “Your sister murdered my brother.”

islamic mosiac

Here’s another excerpt from Chapter 21, inspired by true events at a school here in New Zealand. My hope, like Joe Biden’s, is that hate crimes cease.

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Chapter 21

“Not long,” he said.

“I was just leaving.”

“There’s no need.”

“Yes,” she stammered, her voice barely audible. “There is.”

He watched as she hurried from the room, and then walked to the bed and lay the soft, pink, giraffe he had purchased in Paris beneath the three-year-old’s arm. Pink, he affirmed Not blue—or brown or anything even moderately manly or remotely true to the animal’s natural colours.

Melanie had been right. Tariq was so shut down, so closed, so hard-hearted he was incapable of showing emotion. His own upbringing had been so frozen of femininity, so malnourished in favour of warrior-like masculinity, so deliberate in the demarcation and devaluing of the female gender that as a result, he went about his life with no more emotion than a terracotta warrior.

A tide of anger surged through his gut and churned with the pain of his lost childhood. He clenched his fists. He wanted none of that for his brother’s son, he realised with punching clarity.

He leaned over and stroked the child’s hair. Tariq’s heart kicked as Salim’s eyes fluttered. Was it possible that, against all medical wisdom, the boy was aware of his presence?

Impossible. He was lost to everyone, deep in a coma from which the doctors said he may never wake. The irony, the injustice, the torture, Tariq thought, tightening his grip on the metal frame of the paediatric bed. He was powerless.

What did the child dream of, he wondered, as he watched the boy lying lost in his unconscious mind? Tariq envied the peacefulness that enveloped him. He was thankful the child knew nothing of the car crash that had killed his parents. At least he had been spared that unspeakable trauma.

Tariq’s gaze drifted to the pink giraffe. It was the perfect totem to accompany Salim on his sleepy journey. Wide-eyed, the giraffe appeared to agree. Tariq remembered the words of the African shaman he had met on one of his many rescue missions to liberate endangered species. The gentle creatures, with their gracefully long necks, were believed to stretch into heaven. ‘They are a spirit animal who wanted you to hold your head high and rise above trivial earthly desires’, she had said.

‘They have the ability to reach opportunities that are not available to others,’ she had told him. ‘It is also said that they can see the cosmic plans of the gods and inherently the possible future. As a spirit guide, the giraffe provides you the confidence to get through the toughest situations. Their luck will rub off on you as you come across great opportunities. You have to realise that these opportunities don’t come around often so you have to grab them while you can.’

Longing flooded his body as he gazed at the child. More than anything he wanted to clutch the boy and cleave him to his heart and kiss him awake. It wasn’t trivial to want the boy to rouse; it wasn’t trivial to want the boy to gain consciousness. it wasn’t trivial to want the boy to live.

His grandfather’s words floated through the air. Teach your children to love. The very words Hamza had spoken to his own son, Tariq’s father, only to find the wisdom fall on blocked ears. Wasn’t this why there was so much hate in the world? People had stopped listening to their hearts.

Tariq’s mind drifted to a news article he had read recently. A 10-year-old child whose family had escaped persecution for their beliefs under the hateful Taliban regime, hoping to find a safe haven from Islamic State terrorists in New Zealand, had been taunted and bullied at school. Feeling so much pain he had tried to commit suicide. The hate-riddled school children, the article said, had held a knife to his throat as they yelled,  Isis lover.

Rage ripped through his chest. Melanie was right. The child needed love. All children needed love. The world needed love. What right did he have to deprive anyone of that?

Tariq clutched his heart, feeling the pain, the emotions, the trauma he had suppressed for so long, flood to the surface. No, he vowed, clenching his fists, Salim would never know hatred, brutality, nor quiet contempt.

Tariq had vowed never to become his father and yet as Melanie had so bluntly reminded him, he had become a tyrant. He had spent a childhood marinated in trauma. He lifted his hands to the soft toy of Simba which had been rescued from the car-wreck and now lay ever watchful, at the foot of Salim’s bed. He lifted his paw and in a moment of punching clarity, he vowed he would dedicate his life to ensuring the boy’s life roared with love.

He propped the toy back into a protective stance, his paws outstretched toward the child, his long, powerful body splayed toward Salim.  Tariq reached over and gently, tenderly, softly pressed his lips to the child’s cheek. He felt his eyes water and before he could control the flow of raw emotion a tear, shaped like a diamond, plopped upon Salim’s lips. But, unlike a fairytale miracle, his sleeping beauty did not wake.

Tears fell like a floodgate he was unable to stop, as though a valve in his garden had wedged itself open. Tariq watched transfixed as a finger of light from the setting sun anointed the tear in a prism of light.

How could he reach the boy? How could he save him?

He ran his hand across his chin, then leaned down and opened the musical case which lay beneath the child’s bed. What had the doctors said? Sometimes music had the power to heal.

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To enjoy your copy from Amazon, click here>>http://getbook.at/ClaimedByTheSheikh

To enjoy your copy from iBooks, Barnes & Noble and other great bookstores, click here>>https://books2read.com/u/brVjdZ

To enjoy your copy from Kobo, click here>>https://www.kobo.com/ebook/claimed-by-the-sheikh-8

AUDIOBOOK

KOBO

https://www.kobo.com/us/en/audiobook/claimed-by-the-sheikh-9

 

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Escapism at its best: special two-audiobook bundle: two sweet and sensual New Zealand Romances

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Dear readers

I was so thrilled to receive an email today telling me that  ‘Love Me As I Am (Passion Down Under Sassy Short Stories Book 4)’ has been selected for a free feature at ItsWriteNow.comtoday.

You can read the blurb below and see the book feature here: https://itswritenow.com/love-me-as-i-am-passion-down-under-sassy-short-stories-book-4/

Love Me As I Am

The deepest hurts can herald the deepest love

Kiri Love had no need for friendships. She had no time for distraction. She was in her final year of medical studies by the grace of God to do a job—and she was determined to do a darned good one. There was no way she could fail.

Her mom had scrimped and saved every last dollar she earned and worked three jobs to pay for Kiri’s education and Kiri was determined to make her proud. She would be the first person in her family to receive a degree and achieve her ambition of being a heart surgeon.

But when her mother is murdered, she sacrifices her ambitions and travels back to the tiny Far North town which had created so much pain.

With three sisters under nine to feed, she’ll do whatever it takes to provide them with the security they need—even if it means grovelling to Benotti Zegna, reclusive billionaire jeweller-to-the-stars.

Benotti Zegna has a heart of gold but a failed marriage has left him cold. His hands are full running his global empire, plus being top-dad to his young and motherless daughter.

He can spot a diamond in the rough and while alarm-bells warn him to watch his heart, intuition tells him that Kiri Love will make the perfect nanny.

The role he offers is a far cry from her the life she’d hope to lead, but Kiri quickly discovers the power of family and sacrifice to heal the deepest of wounds.

Love Me As I Am is a short story, clean romance, full of quirky humour and the promise of a happily ever after.

Set in The Bay of Islands, New Zealand—one of the most beautiful, unspoiled, sensuous places in the world.

Love Me As I Am is part of Mollie Mathew’s bestselling series, Passion Down Under Sassy Short Stories. It can easily be read as a stand-alone story, but you’ll love reading the other books, too.

special two-audiobook bundle: Two Sweet and Sensual New Zealand Romances

And I have more great news too. The other books in this series are part of a special two-book bundle that I have narrated as an audiobook, Passion Down Under Sassy Short Stories 2 Book-Bundle Box Set: Love Me Forever and Twist of Fate

Here’s the blurb

“You’re the one” —honest love in exotic locations.

 

To enjoy Passion Down Under Sassy Short Stories 2 Book-Bundle Box Set: Love Me Forever and Twist of Fate from Amazon: getbook.at/2SassyShortStories

To enjoy your copy from Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/passion-down-under-sassy-short-stories-2-book-bundle-box-set-love-me-forever-and-twist-of-fate-1

 

AUDIOBOOK

KOBO

To enjoy your audiobook from Kobo:

https://www.kobo.com/us/en/audiobook/passion-down-under-sassy-short-stories-2-book-bundle-box-set

AUDIBLE

COMING SOON!

Audiobooks are also available from other online retailers and libraries for your listening pleasure

 

Praise for this series

Love Me Forever has a lovely mystical feel about it, with deep longings being experienced by the characters. A delightful mystical romance with a dream-like quality, fraught with all the longings of Joey’s heart. When she plants her wish for her sister beneath the walnut tree, she doesn’t realize that the longings of her own heart have been heard.

When a stranger steps up to her in the vineyard it is the beginning of healing for her own heart. Well written with deeply emotive feelings, this book is part of a series and ends on a cliffhanger.”

~ Margaret W.

“Beautifully written. The author’s vivid and descriptive writing style pulled me into a world I never wanted to leave.  Very beautiful stories!”

~ Hugh Harrison

“This was a fun read I really enjoyed. It’s perfect for a lazy weekend. This is the first book I have read by this author but it won’t be last. I can’t wait to be more.”

~ Poppy

“The author also tucks in some great life advice for everyone in the telling of this charming story. I hope you enjoy this book, too. I did.”

~ Alfie Rues

“I loved, loved, loved this book. An instantly gripping, compelling and fun read. Escapism at its best. I couldn’t put the book down and read it in one night.”

~ Lauri

Posted in Audible books, audiobooks, Forever and Always, New Release, Rom-Com, short story, Twist of Fate | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Zealand Romance Authors and New Zealand Romance Books

Pahia Winter July 2020.jpg
Dear friends,

I hope wherever you are in the world you are happy and safe. I am feeling blessed to be a New Zealand Romance author and to live in the beautiful Bay of Islands where I set many of my New Zealand Romance books.

It’s easier to maintain safe social distancing here than it is in Europe and other populated countries, and we are lucky to have (fingers crossed) COVID-19 somewhat under control.

There are less overseas tourists in our beautiful country now—but lots of people would love to come and live here. By some twist of fate, I was lucky to be born in New Zealand. And my mum told me I was conceived up here in the Bay of Islands. So I am doubly lucky!

Last weekend my lover took me on the coolest, fastest speed boat ride! There was only two of on the ride—we had all the thrills to ourselves. It was so much fun. And look at the weather… in the photo above…beautiful and sunny and it’s winter!

jet-boating-bay-of-islands-extreme-jet-feature-2-960x540

I know you can’t travel here at the moment, but you can through some of the love stories I have set in New Zealand.

Love All of Me

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An unexpected lover…

After surviving a horrific accident Daisy Miller is plagued by guilt. Hiding both her mental and physical scars, she shuns love and escapes into work—finding meaning and purpose in running her global manuka honey empire.

Beautiful and smart, when Gianni Romano demands she sell the business to him, her passions are inflamed. How dare he think he can buy the only thing that gives her a reason to live?

Gianni Romano has ventured to New Zealand by the one thing he’d love to escape: family The Romano fortune and name has followed him wherever he goes. But that only made the headstrong Italian more determined to strike out on his own. Now he’s on the cusp of achieving world acclaim.

Only one woman stands in his way—Daisy Miller and her refusal to submit to his demands. The spark they have is more than a Sicilian sunset, but when emotions run deep and lives are on the line, will mixing business with pleasure be the bedrock for a lifelong love? Or will it all explode like an angry volcano?

Love Me As I Am is a short story, clean romance, brimming with the promise of a happily ever after. Set in The Bay of Islands, New Zealand—one of the most beautiful, unspoiled, sensuous places in the world.

To enjoy your copy from Amazon, click here:

getbook.at/LoveAllOfMe

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08946RHFW

To enjoy your copy from iBooks, Barnes & Noble and other great bookstores, click here: https://books2read.com/u/4N9KnY

To enjoy your copy from Kobo, click here: https://www.kobo.com/nz/en/ebook/love-all-of-me

Pre-order love me as I am BookBrushImage-2020-5-4-14-4756

Love Me As I Am

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The deepest hurts can herald the deepest love

Kiri Love had no need for friendships. She had no time for distraction. She was in her final year of medical studies by the grace of God to do a job—and she was determined to do a darned good one. There was no way she could fail.

Her mom had scrimped and saved every last dollar she earned and worked three jobs to pay for Kiri’s education and Kiri was determined to make her proud. She would be the first person in her family to receive a degree and achieve her ambition of being a heart surgeon.

But when her mother is murdered, she sacrifices her ambitions and travels back to the tiny Far North town which had created so much pain.

With three sisters under nine to feed, she’ll do whatever it takes to provide them with the security they need—even if it means grovelling to Benotti Zegna, reclusive billionaire jeweller-to-the-stars.

Benotti Zegna has a heart of gold but a failed marriage has left him cold. His hands are full running his global empire, plus being top-dad to his young and motherless daughter.

He can spot a diamond in the rough and while alarm-bells warn him to watch his heart, intuition tells him that Kiri Love will make the perfect nanny.

The role he offers is a far cry from her the life she’d hope to lead, but Kiri quickly discovers the power of family and sacrifice to heal the deepest of wounds.

Love Me As I Am is a short story, clean romance, full of quirky humour and the promise of a happily ever after.

Set in The Bay of Islands, New Zealand—one of the most gorgeous, stunning, sensuous escapes on the globe.

Love Me As I Am is part of Mollie Mathew’s bestselling series, Passion Down Under Sassy Short Stories. It can easily be read as a stand-alone story, but you’ll love reading the other books, too.

Praise for this series

Love Me Forever has a lovely mystical feel about it, with deep longings being experienced by the characters. A delightful mystical romance with a dream-like quality, fraught with all the longings of Joey’s heart. When she plants her wish for her sister beneath the walnut tree, she doesn’t realize that the longings of her own heart have been heard.

When a stranger steps up to her in the vineyard it is the beginning of healing for her own heart. Well written with deeply emotive feelings, this book is part of a series and ends on a cliffhanger.”

~ Margaret W.

“Beautifully written. The author’s vivid and descriptive writing style pulled me into a world I never wanted to leave.  Very beautiful stories!”

~ Hugh Harrison

“This was a fun read I really enjoyed. It’s perfect for a lazy weekend. This is the first book I have read by this author but it won’t be last. I can’t wait to be more.”

~ Poppy

To grab your copy from Amazon, click here>>getbook.at/LoveMe

To grab your copy from iBooks, Barnes & Noble and other great bookstores, click here>>https://books2read.com/u/mVNMA5

To grab your copy from Kobo, click here>>https://www.kobo.com/ebook/love-me-as-i-am-6

AUDIOBOOK

AUDIBLE

(Coming soon)

KOBO

https://www.kobo.com/audiobook/love-me-as-i-am-5

 

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Will Lily and Leonardo end up giving their hearts to the wrong person?

Still reeling following her malicious sacking, family therapist Lily Rose is feeling rejected and low in spirits. Even worse, she’s broke. The last thing she needs is more money woes. Which is exactly what happens when she collides with billionaire water magnate Leonardo Ermenegildo Bressolini’s mint-condition Lamborghini.

Having found a place to retreat from the madness and greed and malevolence of his ex-wife the last thing Leonardo wants is complications. But he is a man in need of a housekeeper. And Lily Rose owes him. Big time.

What they both don’t know is just what a massive impact the crash will have on their lives. Sparks heat into a collision of powerful forces that can’t be dampened.

Spontaneous love on the beach sends deep passions and emotional connection—more heartfelt than either has ever known—steaming to the surface.

When Leonardo’s past comes careering into his future—will both Lily and Lorenzo end up giving their hearts to the wrong person?

Forever and Always is a short story, clean romance, full of quirky humor and the promise of a happily ever after.

Set in The Bay of Islands, New Zealand—one of the most beautiful, unspoiled, sensuous places in the world.

Forever and Always is part of Mollie Mathew’s bestselling series, Passion Down Under Sassy Short Stories It can easily be read as a stand-alone story, but you’ll love reading the other books, too.

Reader Reviews

“Did you ever dream that a car crash that wiped out your bank account could turn into one of the best days of your life?  Meet Lily Rose, who only wants to help children through emotional trauma and ends up finding herself and her true love in the process.  This charming and warm short story is just the start of great things to come.”

~ Elaine Zieroth.

“While a quick read, there’s plenty of meat to Forever and Always and a happily ever after in the offering!”

~ JoAnn Weiss

“I enjoyed Forever and Always—a story about two wounded people that come together in a crash. I very much enjoy Mollie Mathews writing. When she writes I feel like I’m right there because of the colourful descriptions that she paints.”

~ Pat

To enjoy your copy from Amazon, click here>>getbook.at/ForeverandAlways

To enjoy your copy from iBooks, Barnes & Noble and other great bookstores, click here>>https://books2read.com/u/mKEQv9

To enjoy your copy from Kobo, click here>>https://www.kobo.com/en/ebook/forever-and-always-27

AUDIOBOOK

AUDIBLE

US

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07SXH56D8

UK

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Forever-Always-Passion-Under-Stories/dp/B0868GKJ36

AU

https://www.amazon.com.au/Forever-Always-Passion-Under-Stories/dp/B086814BF7

KOBO

https://www.kobo.com/us/en/audiobook/forever-and-always-24

The two books above are from my popular Passion Down Under Short Stories collection. If you’d enjoy a longer New Zealand Romance, you’ll love

 

The Italian Billionaire’s Scandalous Marriage

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Would you protect a murderer to save your family? Three women. Three lives. And the lies that bind them. Why is everyone afraid of the truth?

When a lonely young American woman inherits a painting she discovers her whole life was a lie. Desperate for the truth, she goes in search of her true identity. The painting is her only clue. But everyone is determined to keep its secret past repressed, including Vitaliano Rossi, the Italian gold tycoon, unnaturally suspicious of her motives, who wants the painting vanquished. How can she discover who she really is and convince him that his love means more to her than gold?

 

Do you dream of travelling to New Zealand? Now you can—all from the safety of your own home. The Italian Billionaire’s Scandalous Marriage is set amongst the spectacular scenery of the South Island in New Zealand.

Praise for Book Two in the Gemstone Billionaire’s series—The Italian Billionaire’s Scandalous Marriage
“I loved the premise that she needs the hero to unlock the secrets to explain her past—it’s great conflict.”
“I really enjoyed this story, your writing, the characters and the kiss. Thanks!”
“What a blinking good read—more please. I was hooked from page one.”
“I want to know the secret in the painting.”
If this is the first time you have read a Gemstone Billionaire story, you can easily read each book as a standalone. If you would like to know when the next book in the series is published, please go to my website http://www.molliemathews.com and sign up to my newsletter. Thank you for your amazing support!

To grab your copy from Amazon, click here>> getBook.at/ScandalousMarriage

To grab your copy from iBooks, Barnes & Noble and other great bookstores, click here>>https://books2read.com/u/mVNdn5

To grab your copy from Kobo>>https://www.kobo.com/ebook/the-italian-billionaire-s-scandalous-marriage-1

AUDIOBOOK

US

https://www.audible.com/pd/The-Italian-Billionaires-Scandalous-Marriage-An-Italian-Billionaire-Romance-Audiobook/B08745WFMS

UK

https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/The-Italian-Billionaires-Scandalous-Marriage-An-Italian-Billionaire-Romance-Audiobook/B087485CLB

AU

https://www.audible.com.au/pd/The-Italian-Billionaires-Scandalous-Marriage-An-Italian-Billionaire-Romance-Audiobook/B0873ZXX6G

KOBO

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XXXX

 

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In love, the most dangerous enemy is saucy secrets

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Dear readers (and listeners!)…finally, after months and months of delay (way before the ‘virus’ my romcom Sex With Strangers is available on Audible! (and Kobo and libraries too!)

If you missed my earlier posts, here the yummy blurb:

44-year-old Ruby Evans doesn’t want to be a ‘leftover girl.’ But finding a ‘forever’ man is proving impossible.

 

Suddenly single after 20 years of marriage, her husband is the only man she has ever slept with. But the one bit of security she always thought she’d hold onto for the rest of her life is brutally ripped from her.

 

Humiliatingly and cruelly ex-ed when her husband trades her for a younger model, Chanel Zest, a long-time friend and motivational life coach, comes to her rescue. Together they embark on a quest to reclaim and rebuild Ruby’s shattered life and begin the gruelling process of dating again.

 

Once in a pink moon, Ruby has to play dirty…

 

If you loved Brigette Jones’s Diary and enjoy romantic comedy, you’ll love Sex With Strangers.

 

Full of quirky humour and the promise of a happily ever after.

 

Sex with Strangers is a clean romantic comedy with a few spicy bits.

 


MORE PRAISE FOR SEX WITH STRANGERS

 

 

 

“I loved the humor”

 

“I absolutely enjoyed this story. I loved the storyline, I loved the characters, I loved the humor. I couldn’t put it down. The descriptions were perfect. I loved everything about this book especially the humor. It was funny, sad at times, and I loved it.”

 

~ Patricia Quinn

 

 

 

“Cute and fun to read”

 

“It was cute and fun to read. I really enjoyed the story because I liked it was charming and cute, a little humorous. I thought this story was a great kept my interest, had to finish the story I would recommend it to friends and family.”

 

~ Carol G.

 

 

“A playful and true view of a recently divorced woman”

 

“A playful and true view of a recently divorced woman. Every woman who has gone through a divorce after more than one-decade long marriage identifies with this story. The insecurities about going out single again, the difficulties in relating to previous friends as most of them are couples (nobody likes to be the third wheel), the feeling that you are viewed as a competitor (by a previous friend) and the list goes on. Not everyone has a supporting net as Ruby – the main character – does and even though her life coach has quite a few shortcomings about relating to people and finding love she does help Ruby to get on with her life. There are quite a few steamy parts but most of the book is written with a lot of humor and the characters are easy to get fond of. It’s a true picture of modern newly divorced women and it was a fun read!”
 
~ Claudete Takahashi

 

 

A really good, hip, fun book.”

“Hilarious.”

“I thoroughly enjoyed it.”

 

Have you read this fast, fun and frisky read yet?
 

Enjoy the eBook, Paperback, Hardback and audio through the links below…

 

To grab your copy from Amazon, click here>>getbook.at/SexWithStrangers

 

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The audio version of this book is now available from all online bookstores and libraries:

 

Currently available for your listening pleasure from:

 

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USA

 

https://www.audible.com/pd/Sex-with-Strangers-Audiobook/B08BTKHJ61

 

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https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Sex-with-Strangers-Audiobook/B08BTSSB6L

 

 Australia

 

https://www.audible.com.au/pd/Sex-with-Strangers-Audiobook/B08BTKDD8R

 

 

Enjoy other full-length contemporary romances by Mollie Mathews:

Flight of Passion; Claimed by The Sheikh

 

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Happy Hobbies

IMG_6432 sketch with roses Lilly-Rose Depp

 

How are you all feeling? These are sure crazy up-and-down times. To keep ‘sane’, along with writing love stories, I pick up a paintbrush or a pencil and enter into the quiet contemplative world of art.

As I share in many of my books, creativity in all its guises is so healing. Whether this is learning a new skill, picking up a new hobby, or increasing the talent we already have – creativity is healing on so many levels.

Another hobby that I super enjoy is photography. My cousin Cindy was a great photographer too. She took this photo of my beautiful grandmother Molly (same name but different!)

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I took this photo of this beautiful wee man on a recent trip to Wellywood

 

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I thought he was so super gorgeous that I would feature him in my next love story, Love All of Me—I’ve changed his name to protect his privacy!

CHAPTER TWO

“Thanks for waiting, Zac,” Kate said, as she opened the driver door of the ute. “Now slide over.”

Zac pretended not to hear and kept his nose pressed against the top of the steering wheel.

“Zac, move over. Come on. If you could drive, I’d let you. I hate to break it to you, but you’re a dog. And dog’s can’t drive. It’s the law.”

He regarded her with determined dark eyes, then turned, and padded to the passenger side.

“You know I love you,” she said, sweeping her hand vigorously across his fur. The truth was if it wasn’t for her bees and her dog she wouldn’t be here at all. Both of them needed her. Both of them gave her a reason to live. She loved her rescue dog more than life itself. And her bees gave her something of her father to hang onto. A calling.

She clenched the steering wheel, and eye-balled the roof, willing her tears not to flow. Not here. Not now. Her mum, and her dad, and her sister had left the safety of the cruise-ship and joined a tour to the volcano on White Island—and now they were dead.

What right did she have to cry? 

Kate looked back at Zac. Zac looked back at Kate, just as he had that day she had rescued him, death in his eyes. Only now she knew he was acting to get his way. He was not the dog she thought she would choose when she went to the animal centre a year ago.

She had wanted a happy bouncy puppy, one that would make her feel better. But on his best day with his sad brown eyes, and jet black coat, he looked like a professional mourner. And in the end, that had suited her fine.

Nobody had wanted a three-legged, pug dog with a skin impediment. And she couldn’t have left him in the animal rescue centre not once she found out that the day she had called in was to be his last day.

She patted his soft, sleek fur. The Excema had flared because he had been so poorly treated. And she knew, unlike her own scars, Zac’s would heal with love. Everyone needed to be loved. She needed to be loved. And now she had someone to love too.

She had Zac.

Zac.

He had not been the man she had dreamed she would spend her life with. The man she had dreamed she would have children with. The man she would marry until—’Til death would they part.

Zac had been Prozac with three legs and a short, stump of a tail. He had saved her life.

“We have a lot in common you and me, and you know I couldn’t leave you knowing I could’ve saved you and didn’t.”

Zac rolled his eyes up to stare at her, still not budging from the driver seat.

“I saved your butt, now move your pudgy arse,” she said, nudging him. “Pretty please, Zac. I’ll be late for the beautician.”

Zac grunted and stumbled into the passenger seat. He hobbled round and round as he situated himself on the split tan upholstery.

“Don’t look so depressed, you’re supposed to cheer me up- not make me feel guilty.”

He didn’t get much happier as they drove away from the counselling rooms. Instead, he stared wistfully at her lap.

“Okay come on then,” she said patting her thighs. Zac didn’t wait to be asked twice. He jumped into her lap.

Zac met her eyes, squeeze her shoulders, and plunge toward her, licking her from chin to brow with sweeping slurps.

“Oh, Zac,” Kate burst into tears and wrapped her arms around him. His body was warm and wriggly and welcoming and Kate held him tighter, so thankful to have someone alive in her life. Especially at Christmas when she always felt so sad.

“It’s just me and you, Zac,” she told him, sobbing.

Zac sighed and begin to lick the tears from her face, which made Kate cry even harder.

She wrapped her arms around his pudgy belly. She felt sad and happy at the same time. it was a relief to cry after holding everything in for so long. She gave one final sniff and let go of Zac. She had to get herself together before anyone saw the tears in her eyes.

Balancing on one leg Zac pressed his paws on the window ledge and smeared the glass with his squishy nose.

“Okay, just a little but no leaping out when you see a pretty girl,” Kate said, pressing the button and lowering the window.

“You are family now, Zac,” she told him. “And I’m not losing anyone else again.”

 

 

Did you enjoy this excerpt from Love All of Me?

 

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To enjoy your copy from Amazon, click here:

getbook.at/LoveAllOfMe

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Screen Shot 2020-06-26 at 2.00.19 PM

 

If you want a daily inspiration, quote or giggle, you should follow me on Instagram>>https://www.instagram.com/molliemathewsauthor/

Check the link in my Instagram bio to access a free love story guaranteed to help you feel better today. (It’s written in my former hometown, Wellington, New Zealand—once voted by Lonely Planet as the Coolest Little City in the World  💋👄🧠

 

xxx

 

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Posted in About Mollie, Love All Of Me Book, New excerpt, New Release, New romance novel, Writer's Life | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Italian Billionaires Christmas Bride

What if the person who is so, so, so wrong for you is really so, so, so right…

Dear readers,

I was reflecting the other night about all the conflict in the world and recalled something the great Italian artist Giorgio Morandi, reputed to be one Italy’s finest still-life painters, once said that there was beauty in opposition. It struck me as such a powerful and liberating attitude to live and love by. I used these sentiments in one of my romance stories, The Italian Billionaires Christmas Bride.

In 1915, Morandi joined the army but suffered a breakdown and was indefinitely discharged. He retreated from people, the world—their warmongering and their conflict—and sought solace in the beauty of inanimate objects. His paintings are revered for their tonal subtlety in depicting simple subjects, which were limited mainly to vases, bottles, bowls, flowers and landscapes.

morandi

I love the still, silent, metaphysical beauty of his work. I thought I’d share a scene, where my heroine confesses her own love for his work—and introduce the hero and heroine in opposition, but also shared joy:

CHAPTER 11

Her comment was met with stony silence. Not a muscle in his hard, handsome face moved as she strode ahead. Max’s walk was purposeful with a controlled, yet impatient, strength to it as he led her through the villa. Clearly, he was in a hurry to be rid of her.

Issy slowed her pace deliberately, gasping audibly as she walked past walls lined with priceless artworks she’d only ever seen in borrowed books and on the Internet.

‘This place is like a museum. It’s immaculate,’ Issy said, as she followed him past a living room double the size of a luxury hotel lobby, opening out to a massive wrap-around deck with panoramic views of the sea. The vibrant turquoise hues of the ocean spreading below contrasted with the starkness of Max’s mood. ‘You must love coming here,’ she ventured.

‘I don’t have time for holidays,’ he said. ‘I have full-time staff to ensure it is available all year round for friends or family who may want to relax,’ his tone was flat as though the thought of chilling surrounded by so much beauty didn’t excite him one little bit.

His footsteps were silent on the smooth marble floor, contrasting with her sandals clacking noisily as she quickened her pace to keep up with him. Friends with benefits no doubt, Issy thought. She didn’t know a stitch about his love life but she didn’t have to be a NASA scientist to guess that a man as handsome and wealthy as Max would be inundated with beautiful women offering their services.

Suddenly she froze, her heart pounding, as they walked down a glass panelled hallway toward a painting as small as the Mona Lisa.

‘Oh, my gosh,’ Issy’s breathing raced as she stepped closer, her nose almost pressed against the canvas as she traced every ethereal brush stroke. ‘Is that a Morandi?’ she gasped, her voice a high-pitched whisper. To anyone else the painting would just be a collection of ordinary objects—bottles and jars standing stoically against a muted background, but in the hands of a master even the ordinary could be elevated to transcendent beauty—and equally as potent.

Max’s grave mood lifted as his eyes followed the source of her attraction. He touched his mouth, drawing attention to his sensuous lips as he nodded.

She gasped, mentally computing that a painting of this worth was beyond anything she would ever experience up close in her lifetime. Her heart hammered with equal measures of thrill and fear, as though at any moment a security guard would command her to step back beyond the rail, or escort her from the house, except there was no barrier rail. And for the next few days at least, this house of treasure would be her home.

Rummaging in her bag, she whipped out her camera ‘May I take a photo?’

His gaze narrowed as his dark, fierce eyes riveted to her. He nodded. ‘Paintings should be appreciated.’

She took several photos then turned to him. ‘Gosh, this is like being in an art museum. We’ll never see paintings like this in New Zealand, and there’s no way I’ll ever get to Europe, not on my wage.’ Startled by the strange glint in his eye, she threw her attention back to the painting again.

‘It’s true when they say his paintings can transport you. Like you could fold into them and escape reality,’ she said. Nothing she was feeling was even close to reality, she thought achingly aware of her energy pulsing in tiny quivers toward Max as she stood in front of him. Not a muscle in his body moved as he stood like concrete, his broad shoulders rigid, his posture stiff, yet she sensed he felt the magnetic energy pulse between them too.

It was as if Morandi had infused the bottles with an aura-like energy, which seeped from the painting blanketing them both.

Max stood like a sentry, slightly at a distance, behind her like the stoic blue-black bottle and the fine white vase in the painting, touching but not touching.

He turned to her, his normally cool blue eyes now a penetrating black. ‘Is beauty the bringing together of opposites to make one?’ he said.

His unexpected question threw her. Whether he was speaking of the white and black bottles in the painting, or of their own obvious differences she didn’t know, but she found herself wishing recklessly it was the latter.

‘Opposites attract,’ she ventured, her voice catching as she watched the sunlight glance off his waves of dark hair, then move across the surface of his face, tracing the muscular lines of his strong cheekbones, the indentations of his dimples, before settling on the black-silk-like fibre clinging to his powerful chest. ‘There must be a reason for that.’ She forced a laugh, noticing with alarm that it sounded more nervous than confident.

There was a reason why the energy sparked and cracked and hissed between them. A reason she would never, could never, explore. ‘I know Morandi believed finding beauty in opposition would create a happier world,’ she said, steering the conversation to safer ground.

‘You are well informed.’ His eyes glistened with vitality as though he was both surprised and impressed with her level of knowledge.

‘Actually, I studied art history at college, briefly,’ she said, softly. ‘Something my parents reluctantly indulged. I remember being captivated by Morandi’s work. He was one of Italy’s finest still-life painters, but I never in a zillion years thought I’d ever see the real thing.’

‘You said, briefly,’ he paused, inviting her to go on.

Issy hesitated, aware that he was asking all the questions, and once again she was hogging the ear time when really the roles should be reversed. But perhaps in the sharing of what appeared to be a mutual passion she might learn a little about him. It would be the only passion they could share, she thought, willing her throbbing pulse to slow.

‘I was at college, young and dependent on my parents, we needed money. Art wasn’t an indulgence we could afford.’ Issy’s chest felt tight as she relived a part of her childhood she preferred to forget. ‘There’s no money in art”, they told me. “Get a real job. Keep it as a hobby”, blah, blah, blah.’

She forced a smile as she looked at the painting, ‘It’s ironic when you realize how much money these artists earned when they followed their passion. But anyway, it was what it was. And I wanted to please them. So, as you know, I went and trained as a clinical psychologist.’ She shook her head and gave a humourless laugh. ‘I thought it might help me figure out my dysfunctional family.’

Max studied her intensely, the gleam in his eyes acknowledging her disillusionment. ‘Perhaps I should have studied psychology too,’ he said, a weariness in his tone that came not just from tiredness, but from life. ‘But now you’re an art therapist. It is difficult to remain true to yourself and your philosophy. I respect that.’

There he was complimenting her again. His tone was so earnest Issy felt herself blush. Being understood and appreciated felt too good. And too foreign. And that was the problem she thought helplessly. Talking like this was merging the personal and the professional together dangerously. Two forces in opposition like oil and water which a sane person, a professional person, knew would never mix.

Only she wasn’t sane, she acknowledged. Not anymore. Not with him being so kind. Not with those sexy dimples indenting as his lips curved into a kind smile. It was easier to keep her distance when he was aloof and remote.

She looked away, knowing she must dismiss his comment as politeness not interest in her for fear of wanting something that would never be hers.

Him.

Cultured people like Max were raised to be polite and she mustn’t let herself think he was in the slightest bit interested in who she was as a person. But he was a good listener, and as rare as it was for someone to focus on her for a change it felt nice. She could share how art made her feel, find out what moved him and still maintain a professional distance.

‘It’s incredible how a painting can affect you,’ she said. ‘It’s completely out of your control. My heart is racing, the hairs on my arms are tingling like crazy. I feel inspired and breathless, and light-headed,’ she said. It was the painting, not him, definitely not him that was creating all these crazy physical sensations, she thought, surprised by the powerful emotions cascading through her.

‘Can you believe, my eyes are pooling, like at any moment I might cry. You know, it’s almost like the feeling you have when you’re in love. Is that why you purchased this painting?’ she said.

His eyes focused on her with razor-like intensity, sending shivers racing up her spine.

‘Art is not about emotion. Art is about power.’ His head jerked backwards sharply.

‘Oh, yes,’ she said, pleased that on this point they agreed. ‘The power of art, as Picasso once said, to wash from the soul the dust of everyday life.’

His lips twisted in a wry smile. ‘You are a romantic Ms. Riley. It is very sweet. But also naïve. The power of art, Ms Riley, is about money. Possessing what others covet and can never afford.’

Issy felt blood roar through her chest as she looked at the imposing man standing beside her. ‘No! Art is about feeling.’

‘You know, I actually think you believe that nonsense,’ he interjected. Max stepped toward her, encroaching upon her physical space until they were both nearly touching like the bottles in the painting.

Issy stood her ground, lifting her chin toward him as he stood over her. Was he really so emotionally blocked that he could feel nothing? ‘What happened to make you so unfeeling, so hard, so cynical?’

‘Life, Miss Riley. Life.’

‘Don’t you believe in love?’

‘Love,’ he grimaced, staring at the cold blue bottle in the painting, ‘is a business construct manufactured by salesmen and marketers to manipulate people like you.’

‘Have you always been so cynical?’ Issy challenged. ‘Love is a feeling. Like art is a feeling,’ she shrugged. ‘It’s hard to describe in words, but you know it when you sense it. It’s a warm, fantastic, life-giving feeling. Like eating ice-cream in summer, only without the calories.’

‘A feeling,’ Max snorted. ‘Another vague, nebulous, overused concept. I love that dress. I love those shoes. I love that painting.’ He turned toward her, looking directly into her eyes as though laying down a challenge.

‘I love you.’ His words delivered with icy hard detachment splintered through the warm air. His shoulders straightened sharply, ‘See how easy it is to say?’

He sounded cold, far more bitter than she’d expected, but something about the way Max strode stiffly toward the edge of the deck and stood gazing out at the blue sea, a pensive frown on those beautiful dark brows, made her wonder if perhaps even he thought he’d gone too far.

‘Show me a love that lasts,’ he said, turning to her at last.

What could she say? She’d notched up her Guinness Book record of impermanent affairs of the heart, the cancelled wedding her most public failure. But she wouldn’t tell him that. Not yet. Not ever. She could barely bring herself to talk about it with anyone, let alone a client she hoped to impress with her togetherness.

‘So we agree on something,’ Max said, filling the silent vacuum, ‘I’ve never felt it, never found it, never fantasized about it and I never will. Feeling is a distraction I can’t afford.’

‘Who did that to you?’ She said, wondering how a man who seemed to have everything, had so little.

Max flinched, his jaw hardening in steely resolve. ‘I’m a realist.’

‘If you don’t have love,’ Issy pressed, ‘or at least the hope of love, what do you have?’ She stepped toward him, concern widening her eyes. ‘Max?’ she whispered, probing for his reply

‘Work. I have work. Now if you’ll excuse me I’ll take you to your private bure. I’m sure you’ll find the peninsular villa to your liking. You won’t be disturbed. I only ask that you show me the same courtesy.’

Adrenaline spiked in her chest. He was banishing her. ‘But what about the session I have planned for today?’

Did you enjoy this excerpt?  This story was written during a wonderful time in Fiji. I decided to set the story there. It seems like such a lifetime ago, especially now that travel to foreign shores seems so far away now.

But you can travel to paradise in your imagination when you read this beautiful “opposites attract” love story.

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The idea for this story was sparked when I read about a very successful Italian fashion-tycoon who said, ‘My biggest regret is that I gave my life to my job.’ It struck me as very, very sad.

I wondered why he had chosen to live his life this way. Despite all his wealth, all his mansions around the world, and all the ‘fans’ who adored him for the identity he had carefully cultivated, he loved no one and no one loved him back for who he truly was.

Although he never said it outright, he’d thrown himself into his work following the death of his life partner. His work was pure escapism—protecting him from feeling the pain of loss again.

He’d originally trained as a medic but after experiencing the horrors of war, he sought refuge in a fantasy world.

As a child, he’d loved the glitz and glamour Hollywood offered. After a brief stint in the war where he witnessed the deaths of friends, he found an escape from the harshness of reality returning to the fantasy of Hollywood

I wondered what sort of woman would be able to touch this frozen man at the deepest level? Everything in his life was controlled measured, predictably precise. I wondered what if the darkness of the past, his unhealed wounds began to impact his work, stifling his creativity and threatening to destroy everything he had fought so hard to achieve?

I wondered what if, as part of his recovery, he was forced to spend time with a woman so opposite in every way to the order he imposed in his life? And what if this woman was a children’s art therapist? A woman unimpressed by the fame and fortune he’d amassed, but who believed strongly in the power of play, fun, and spontaneity—things he considered reckless.

What if this woman had the power to transform his life, and he hers—but they were both afraid. Hearts have been broken, love lost, trust betrayed. What if this woman had her own wounds? Don’t we all?

What would it take to make all the masks fall? To be vulnerable? To risk it all? What would it take, in spite of the fear, to believe you deserve, you want, you need to give love a second chance?

I hope you love this story as much as I loved writing it.

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The Italian Billionaire’s Christmas Bride

To enjoy your copy from Amazon, click here>> getBook.at/ChristmasBride

To enjoy your copy from iBooks, Barnes & Noble and other great bookstores, click here>>https://books2read.com/u/3LpDa7

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AUDIOBOOK

KOBO

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AUDIBLE

(Coming soon)

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You may also like:

Ways to make a difference

Why I write romance

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Sex With Strangers? The inside scoop on characters and storylines.

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Dear readers,

As a friend of mine wrote to me, when times are tough, and you’re feeling depressed, you can’t concentrate on a heavy book. You need to read to take your mind off things.

Which is why I wrote Sex With Strangers, a comic and playful look at the world of dating follow betrayal and divorce As with all my books, it does portray serious themes, but it also shows the power of love, kindness, and compassion to heal the deepest wounds.

sex with strangers a playful and true view of a recently divorced women Screen Shot 2020-03-06 at 12.15.00 PM

 

Recently I came across this unused scene. I thought you’d enjoy an inside scoop on characters and storylines from this book.

 

BACKING A WINNER

Fergus left Chanel’s apartment feeling confused. For the first time in his life, he cared about someone. Really cared. Only instead of feeling safe and warm, like he thought he would, he felt like an outsider. They’d made wild passionate love all night, sex too, and then she had the nerve, the balls, in fact, to get up and cool as a cucumber tell him to let himself out.

“I’ll call you,” Ruby said as she headed out the door to work.

Hey! That was his line. And had been for seventeen years. Ever since he first started to fool around with girls. First, there was Mabel, who he had his wicked way with behind the bike shed at school. Then Chrissie, once again behind the bike shed. And then…well let’s just say there were a lot of pretty girls who were keen on Fergus at school and none of them minded the bike shed, not one little bit.

When Fergus was old enough to drive he got a car and quickly started having his way in the back seat of his 1964 Ford Anglia, ‘Angie.’ *

superspeed-anglia

It wasn’t a palace but at least it had a roof. None of the girls seemed to mind the split leather seating and the wire springs that popped up unexpectedly when the car jiggled too much. Boy did it jiggle. He gave that car a real run for his money.

Fergus smiled to himself as he remembered some of the innovative positions he’d tried out in Angie. He tried to figure out how many girls had begged and pleaded to go for a spin around the block with him. He soon gave up counting, there were just too many.

Fergus craved affection and the girls wanted to give it to him. So what was a young man just exploring his sexuality supposed to do? Say no? Not likely. Not unless you wanted to be called a faggot and a homo. That was the reality in the small town where he grew up. The first hug he’d ever had was from a prostitute. He revelled in that brief moment of affection. “When I got that hug, I wanted more and you know what can happen if you go looking for hugs,” he’d told his shrink years later.

For the first twelve years of his childhood, he had never spoken to a girl, never visited a shop, never even used a phone. He lived in five orphanages in nine years. He was addressed only as O’Farrell—rarely. More commonly he was known as a number in the system. In one institution, he was boy No. 33. Every time he shifted his number changed.

Then when he was fifteen a new teacher came to his local school. Miss Marples was from London and she was a knockout. She had hair the colour of gold that fell down her back in light waves which bounced up and down when she walked.

Her breasts bounced too. They were the biggest, roundest breasts Fergus had ever seen in his whole life. Much bigger than the young girls at school. Her eyes were green like the rich pasture surrounding the orphanage, and when she smiled they would glitter like diamonds. Fergus couldn’t believe his luck when she started asking him to stay back after school. She was different from all the adults that used to prey on him regularly. She was a woman. A real woman. With bits that fitted his parts perfectly.

It was wrong of course. She was twenty-eight and he was only fifteen. But for three years she was all he could think about. She gave him special tuition after school. Extra special tuition. Just for him. How he wished he could brag about her to all his mates.

“You can’t tell anyone, Fergus. Not a soul,” she said as she unbuttoned her blouse. “We’d get in trouble. Very serious trouble.”

“No Miss. I won’t tell a soul. Not a soul,“ he promised solemnly kicking off his regulation school shoes and peeling off his socks. He could still recall the embarrassment when she pointed to the holes in them. All his clothes were hand-me-downs—even, good lord, his underwear. Kids in orphanages were lucky if they ever got anything that was new.

Miss Marples took him under her wing. She fed him sweets and slipped him new clothes in return for his extracurricular activities. Fergus was an A student when it came to Miss Marples’ out of hours classes. An A+ student. Fergus never got A’s in anything else. She gave him hope.

He should have known that nothing good in his life ever stayed for long. His mother had only lasted five months. She’d died sweating like a pig and coughing up blood. TB they’d called it. He called it ‘TBOE—the beginning of the end’. His father buggered off and left Fergus and his seven siblings to fend for themselves. He was stupid to think Miss Marples would stick around either.

Fergus clenched his fists as he recalled how it all started to go sour. For three years, five months and 18 days no one knew. Until one night at the local, she had one drink too many and blabbed to several of her friends. Then the shit hit the fan. . . and the newspapers.

That was when Fergus first got a taste of the fast and ready world of gossip journalism. Of course, he didn’t much like being on the receiving end…well…no that’s a lie…he liked it plenty. Suddenly he was somebody. Not number 33 or 235 or what other bloody number they hadn’t used yet. He was Fergus O’Farrell, the kid who’d banged the horny teacher for three years. He was famous.

No, make that infamous—the talk of the town. Everyone was talking about him. All the men were super jealous and wanted to know how he managed to bag gorgeous Miss Marples with the hourglass figure and the plump, rosy red lips. Fergus instantly became the local Cassanova. Girls herded to him. But none of them stacked up to Miss Marples. Not one.

You see Fergus had fallen in love with her. He hadn’t meant to. It just crept up on him like the Sting Ray crept up on that Australian crocodile lover, skewering him in the heart and making him delirious. Only not with pain, well not at first, but happiness.

For the first time in his life, he suddenly felt wanted. Miss Marples was the only one who had been kind to him. Really kind. Not just the sex, but the clothes, the food, and the nice words she said about him. Miss Marples told Fergus that he was the smartest kid in the school. So smart that she felt he was wasting his life in a small country like Ireland. She told him he should set his sights higher and branch out into the big world.

Then bang! The only good thing to happen in his life for a very long time was gone! Gone! Just like that. Just because other do-gooders took it upon themselves to decide what was proper and what wasn’t.

Fergus shuddered as he remembered the look of anguish on her face when the police came to the school that fateful summer’s day. The kids sat gobsmacked as the headmistress, a misshapen, damp dishrag of a woman marched primly to the front of the class and instructed them all to go and have an early lunch.

Fergus didn’t feel like eating. He only felt like puking. He sat at the window and watched the police bundle Miss Marples into the back of their car. His body began to tremble, then convulse. His chest felt like a jackhammer was stabbing angrily at his heart trying to wretch it free.

It was for his own good, the social worker had told him, the proper thing to do. What was proper about taking the woman he loved and making her sit out ten to fifteen years in prison?

“It’s not just sex outside of marriage”, they said, “which is a very terrible thing in itself, but it’s sexual assault on a child. Even worse it’s by a person in a position of trust. Things like this can make good kids go rotten by contributing to the delinquency of a minor.”

Lawyers always used big words that didn’t make sense.

The women in the town felt sorry for Fergus. They thought he’d been unfairly taken advantage off. Seduced and maybe even brainwashed.

He didn’t know about that. All he knew was the sex was better than great and he loved Miss Marples and he wanted to make her happy. He knew what she liked the most was Fergus mounting her and rogering her silly.

“You thrill me, Fergus,” she would say afterwards stroking his hair affectionately. Miss Marples was a knockout.

Fergus wanted to marry her.

Miss Marples promised that as soon as he turned eighteen and it was legal they would get married for sure.  She told him that age didn’t matter. She told him that plenty of men hooked up with younger girls, so why did it matter if it went the other way. What she forgot to tell him, Fergus thought angrily, was that she was already married.

Harry Wessel, a two-bit investigative journalist found that out. Apparently, it wasn’t too hard to find skeletons in people’s cupboards. At first, Fergus was angry.

“Rot in hell” he cursed when Harry came to ask him for his comment.

He wished Harry had left the skeletons alone. Now he couldn’t even pretend Miss Marples had loved him. Now he had nothing to wait for. When she got out of prison she’d go straight back into the arms of her husband. Even if she didn’t she had ruined everything now.

Fergus wasn’t going to hang around waiting for her. Besides by the time she got out she’d be old and wrinkly. He tried to picture her at fifty-five. He screwed his face up, saggy breasts, wrinkles, ash-white thinning hair …awww not a pretty picture at all.

Stupid cow, why did she have to go and ruin everything?

“Look, kid, I feel bad about what happened,” Harry has said. “Blowing your hot thing like that. I’d like to make it up to you. There’s plenty of tits and arse in London…” he handed him his card. Look me up if you ever decide to cross the Atlantic. There’s some ready money for those willing to make the work their way up in  the newspaper.”

Starting afresh, sounded good to Fergus, really good. Miss Marples might have stolen his trust, but he sure as hell wasn’t going to let that ruin his life. Hell, he’d endured more pain than her breaking his heart in his life. He shuddered as he recollected the unwanted advances of the older kids. He wouldn’t give her the satisfaction. He’d show her. He’d show them all, he vowed angrily.

“Tits and arse”, Harry told him, “tits and arse, more than you can shake a stick at.” That sounded good to him. Love was for mugs. And older woman? Well, they were just trouble. He fled the orphanage with a brown suitcase containing two pairs of pants, two shirts, a Bible, an identity card and one photograph of himself and headed for London.

Now nineteen years later it looked like history was about to repeat.

“You bloody fool,” Fergus cursed, “Don’t you ever learn?” He clenched his fists angrily. What had started out as a fun way to get intimate with New York had backfired. He had fallen for the funny girl with the crooked teeth and the silly seductive techniques that looked like they’d been learned from a magazine.

She’d fooled him and then again she hadn’t. She’d only managed in confusing him and snuck up on his blindside. But he should have seen it coming, he fumed. After all he knew every trick in the book. He was a  pro. Only this time he’d been outsmarted. His damn stupid emotions had got in the way of his head, and his splintered heart.

He didn’t want to hang around in the apartment one second longer. It felt odd being left on his own. Normally he was the first to shoot the breeze the morning after shagging a girl. He looked grimly around the room.

Used condoms and the remnants of the chocolate flavoured underwear she’d playfully worn lay strewn on the floor. For an experienced pro, though, her room had a real girly feel.

Matching bedside tables were covered in a sheer white fabric which co-ordinated tastefully with her pure white sheets. At least they used to be pure white. Now they were a crumpled tangle stained with the night’s passion and remnants of the pre-sex feast they’d concocted up in the early hours of the morning.

Fergus picked up a champagne flute lying precariously close to the edge of the bed and placed it carefully on the table. Squashed beneath the glass lay a plump strawberry drowned in alcohol. A large red stain bled across the sheets.

She should have got red satin sheets he mused as he tried half-heartedly to remove the stain. From what he’d read on her Sex With Strangers blog he’d figured they would have been more her style. That and a mirrored ceiling and black shagpile carpet. But something about this girl didn’t add up.

Not at all. He looked across the room to the vase of spring flowers which sat on her dresser. A sweet floral fragrance intermingled with the sexual odours that lingered in the crevices of the room.

Beneath the bright yellow, pink and lavender blooms were fifteen or so framed photographs of Ruby and a young girl. They looked alike. He guessed the girl must be a niece. She’d never mentioned a daughter.

He lay back in the sheets and stretched his arms languidly out to the side and ran his fingers across the soft cotton sheets and burrowed them under the soft feather pillows. Ah, so that’s where they got to, he mused as he discovered the underwear she had tantalized him with in the early hours of the evening.

As he traced the delicate fushia-pink lace g-string and surveyed the room the silence engulfed him. Surrounded by the dying memory of a wonderful night he fought back the feelings of longing. But they fought even harder to remain.

He ran his fingers over the lace underwear and wondered if he would ever hear from Ruby again. She seemed so nonchalant. So detached when she left. “Thanks a lot” said with the same lack of feeling as a thanks uttered to a storekeeper that’s just sold you a packet of smokes.

‘Thanks…I’ll be seeing ya’.

You know you won’t, but you say it just the same.

Back in London the girls always called him, chased him until he responded. If he liked them and if they were persistent enough he might shag them again. But only for a quick one. He didn’t want to get attached. But this time he got the distinct impression that she wasn’t going to call.

He was like some sort of social experiment. Some sort of initiation prank into the halls of sexual conquest.

His mind flashed back over the last couple of days with Ruby. The blind date where she dressed like a femme fatale and had come on so strong. With her coy smile, fluttering eyelashes and the way, she played with her necklace, forcing, yes forcing, his eyes to wander to her breasts. Nice pert ones that squeezed their way out into the world.  Push-up bras have an uncanny ability to do that. Especially black satin ones with diamante’s sprinkled on them.

But then she threw him totally by not being able to handle her liquor. But he’d thrown himself more. He should’ve taken advantage of her, had his way and then left. The normal routine. But he hadn’t been able to. He’d taken her back to his place and nursed her all night long as she threw up again and again.

He wasn’t kinky or anything but there was something cute about the way she looked legs splayed out on the cold tile floor, head hovered over the toilet bowl. He had to admit it now though, it was kind of odd how quickly she had come to mean more to him than life itself. How the hell did she manage to sneak his way into his heart and under his skin?

Rule number one, never mix business with red hot pleasure.

The truth was Fergus knew why knew why she’d managed to pierce through all his armour. She was funny, cute, intelligent, caring. Not like the blonde bimbo’s he normally picked up for a quick shag. After a hard day at work, the last thing he felt like doing was talking. Dealing with maggots, and the scourge of society, digging up gossip and writing slanderous copy for the paper really took a toll.

At the end of the day, all he wanted to do was get pissed and get laid. Both of those things helped in their own unique way to get rid of the memories, the horrible taint of what he did for a living day in day out.

It paid well, but it sucked. Being in New York away from all that was like a breath of fresh air. One last job and he could ditch it all. The money sure would come in handy. He yearned to grab himself a patch of land and really make a go of his passion for sculpture. He dabbled a bit in London and people said he had real talent.

“Oh shit. The job.” Fergus glanced at his watch. “Shit. Look at the time. 10am. I’m supposed to have emailed an update by now. Five days and still nothing.,” he cursed. But he was getting closer, he might not have anything hard, but something told him he was really close to cracking it.

“Cripes where’s my underwear.” He looked around the bedroom. It looked like a bomb had gone off. Where the hell were his boxers? Brand new ones too.

He always wore his best boxers when he was seeing a girl. Calvin Kleins—one of the first things he’d brought when he got to  New York. A bargain they were not. But now a short-lived expense, he cursed.

Ahh, then he remembered, they’d started unpeeling their clothes in the lounge. Against his will, he smiled, as his mind flashed back. He walked down the stairs. The bowl of radishes, lettuce, and asparagus and other supposed aphrodisiac lay on the plate largely untouched.

He laughed. He’d never see such a collection of completely undesirable food. He wanted to be sore at her but he couldn’t. The simple fact was she made him laugh like no other girl ever had, and he missed her. She’d only been gone two hours and he missed her like mad.

They’d lain in bed and talked about everything from politics to religion to the credit card debt and New York’s aggressive stance toward policing the way people ate food.

“Did you know that there is even going to be a law to make people chew their food at least seven times?” Ruby had informed him.

“Sometimes you have to help people to help themselves. Make it a law and people start taking sensible things more seriously. Where would we be if everyone could choose whether they wore their seatbelt or not?” He laughed.

“Buckle up, I’m taking you on a ride,” she cried as she mounted him, her hair flying around her face, and her breasts jiggling like two bowls of jelly as he thrust his hips up and down.

“Where are we going?”

“To the moon and back.”

“What say I don’t want to go there?” he teased, placing his hands firmly on her hips and rocking her body back and forth.

“It’s my way or the highway,” she laughed.

Such a change from the woman who had looked so uncomfortable in her slinky outfits and siren red lipstick. He knew a fake when he met one. She was faking it. Up until then, she’d been faking it. Pretending to be some hot sex goddess.

He seen enough phoneys, interviewed enough con’s, to know when someone was the real deal. Ruby may have a name like a prostitute, but that girl sure as hell wasn’t one. So he thought. But the casual way she had got up, showered and left had him wondering. Not so much as a kiss. I’ll be back after to tidy up. Let yourself out… I’ll call you…”

Just like Miss Marples.

“When you’re eighteen we’ll get married.”

Yeah right.

“I’m sick of being someone’s plaything. I’m sick of spying on people, I’m sick of making my living airing people dirty laundry. Just got this one job to do and then that should set me up. Give me the leg up I want to make a go of being a serious reporter. A war correspondent or  …”

Fergus paused for a moment, recollecting his thoughts. When he was younger, before Miss Marples came and ruined everything he’d dreamed of becoming a  sculptor. Or, if that didn’t work out, a scriptwriter. When he felt really confident he thought maybe he could do both.

The last thing he’d created before Miss Marples got locked up was a life-size torso of then together. When she betrayed him he’d destroyed it. He tried to sculpt again. He’d set up his own flat to a be a studio but he just couldn’t do it for some reason he just couldn’t fire up his creative juices in that way. But writing…now that came easily.

And now it looked like he was onto a winner.

 Fergus pulled on his underwear and forced his legs through his jeans. “Damn her,” he cursed, “damn Ruby Evans.”

His legs got tangled in the foot of his jean. He kicked his legs wildly in the air trying to dislodge them. Then when that failed he ripped them angrily off this feet, screwed the jeans into a ball and threw them across the floor. They landed with a thud on a computer table, hidden in the corner of the room.

Fergus glanced at the computer and then at his watch. He was late. Really late. If he didn’t come up with something he really was going to get a bollicking. His dreams of making some money and exiting the seedy world of investigative journalism were disappearing fast. He’d have to come up with something and soon. Damn, why was this woman so elusive?

He went over to the computer desk and sat down, and flicked open the laptop. He logged into ‘sexwithlotsofstrangers’ and waited for the latest posting to come up on the screen.

July 16, 9:12 am Sex between the sheets

I’ve never done it in my house with a stranger but this is the next best thing. No quickies in the toilet, no shagging in the alleys, no quick gropes at the bus stop but full-on, wild, horny passionate sex. All night long, between the sheets in a downtown Manhattan apartment. Am I losing my mind you may ask? Taking a stranger back to my apartment, but I haven’t lost my mind and the apartment wasn’t mine. Let’s just say it was a friends…

Fergus smiled at the similarity between his night of passion and the words that appeared on the screen. He’d had sex between the sheets at some friend’s apartment too. I should start a blog, he thought wryly, I’m sure It would be a best seller too. His throat was dry and he reached over to the bedside table and grabbed a glass of water. Gulped it down and then returned to the screen.

He was horny for me. I could tell. Dressed in a frog suit…

Fergus’s heart began to race. He scrolled quickly down the screen

I peeled off his clothes until he stood naked, only the moonlight illuminating the muscular curves of his body. I ran my finger down the length of the scar on his right arm.

Fergus leaned forward. He held his breath. Adrenaline raced in his body. “My scar. . .my underwear…the way I orgasmed, licking the chocolate from her butt . . .everything!  She’s written about everything!”

He could feel his heart rise in his chest and then sink with a thud. He clenched his fists and unclenched them then clenched them again. Anger welled inside him, then rose to his face, stabbing his eyes like pinpricks!

“That bitch!” he cried, scrolling through the rest of the post. “That bitch had me for dinner.” Just another sexual conquest for her pleasure. No wonder she was so noncommittal. Shag them and run. He knew the drill. He’d practically invented it. He’d done it enough in his time. How could he have been taken for such a fool, he fumed.

He stared briefly at the computer screen. His mind blank and his body numb. Then teh cogs in his brain began to race. He’d show her. This time she would pay big time and Fergus would end up getting the story of his life. No one would have a scoop like his.

He knew the true identity of the blogger and what’s more, he’d got upfront and personal. His mind flashed back to Miss Marples and the media frenzy which had followed their discovery.

Déjà vu. Snap! Karma….how ever he framed it history had repeated. This time, he vowed angrily, this time he’d make it work in his favour.

He snapped the laptop shut and untangled his jeans before putting them on. He walked over to the bed, gathered up his shirt lying creased on the floor, found his socks and shoes and headed for the door.

He walked west toward Central Park. He needed time to think. To cool down. To digest the significance of everything that had just happened. As he sat down on a park bench his phone rang. Fergus took a deep breath. Calm. Stay calm. Ruby Evans’ name flashed up on caller ID. The phone rang several times before switching to voice mail. Fergus didn’t feel like talking with Ruby Evans right now. He still felt sore at her. He’d talk to her when he was good and ready.

He dialled his manager in London. “I’ve cracked it, boss. Really Cracked it. You’ll have a report on your table…er email…tomorrow. Guaranteed. What’s an exclusive worth to you? The inside scoop? $75K? Wow! That much? Yeah, I’m sure…really sure. You’ll be surprised. Really surprised. Wait ’til you hear what this girl does for a living! Gotta go. Talk tomorrow. Don’t worry…sure you can trust me…I learned from a pro…see ya.”

Fergus snapped the phone shut. His eyes wandered momentarily to a couple walking through Central Park hand in hand around the water’s edge, near the boathouse. The man stopped, raised his hand tenderly to the woman’s face and lifted a stray piece of hair that had fallen across her eyes. She smiled, and lifted her head to his, her eyes locked with his. The man lent down his lips slightly parted. Fergus looked away abruptly and stood up from the bench and walked briskly through the park.

 

Did you enjoy this inside scoop on characters and storylines from Sex With Strangers? I know you’ll love Sex With Strangers.

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(The Ford Anglia is a rarity among classic cars – it’s immediately recognised all over the world by children and young people, even if it’s as “the Harry Potter car” and not by its given name, writes Adrian Flux on this interesting blog>>https://www.adrianflux.co.uk/cult-classics/ford-anglia-life-before-harry-potter/ I still haven’t read JK Rowling’s books and didn’t know she used this car in her stories. But I do agree, it does have magical powers!).

 

 

 

 

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Ways to make a difference

“Pleasure and Pain represent as twins since there never is one without the other; and as if they were united back to back, since they are contrary to each other.”

Leonardo da Vinci

 

 

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Dear readers,

I heard it once said that we need chaos to create a dancing star. I do hope, and believe, that in the wake of the tsunami of the pain so many are experiencing that constructive change will come.

History suggests it does. Without Claudette Colvin’s pain of being arrested at the age of 15 in Montgomery, Alabama, during the segregated 50s the civil rights movement may not have been born.

Nine months before Rosa Parks defied segregation laws by refusing to give up her seat to a white passenger on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, in March 1955, Claudette Colvin did exactly the same thing.

Colvin was the first person to be arrested for challenging Montgomery’s bus segregation policies, so her story made a few local papers – but nine months later, the same act of defiance by Rosa Parks was reported all over the world.

Like Colvin, Parks was commuting home and was seated in the “coloured section” of the bus. When the ‘white’ seats were filled, the driver, J Fred Black, asked Parks and three others to give up their seats. Like Colvin, Parks refused, and was arrested and fined.

It seems so crazy to realize how people once thought – and how some still do. In the wake of George Floyd’s murder, the spotlight is shone on the inequalities and abuse of power that still remain.

Today, I was appalled to learn that a statue was once erected to ‘honour’ a man who profited from slavery. This man trafficked over 80,000 men, women and children, ripping from their homes and families in Africa and shipping them to the Americas. I read a BBC report about protesters tearing down Edward Colston’s slave trader statue, posing with a knee on the figure’s neck – reminiscent of the video showing George Floyd, who died while being suffocated by a Minnesota police officer, and rolling it into the river>>https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-52954305.

And the world has spoken! This is wrong. This is unjust. The abuse of power must stop.

Closer to home, I am proud to say that New Zealand has a clear history of standing against oppression. New Zealand signed a partnership agreement with Maori to help curtail the law-breaking British. New Zealand was also the first country to give women the right to vote.

In early colonial New Zealand, as in other European societies, women were excluded from any involvement in politics. Most people – men and women – accepted the idea that women were naturally suited for domestic affairs, such as keeping house and raising children! Only men were fitted for public life and the rough-and-tumble world of politics.

It seems to me current politics in many countries have become too rough-and-tumble —even vulgar.

Conflict often heralds change. As current protestors have said, “We’re tired of being afraid.”

Oppressors rule via the active cultivation of fear.

When women in New Zealand first agitated for the vote they were knocked back. A number of New Zealand’s leading male politicians supported women’s suffrage. But three attempts in 1878, 1879 and 1887 bills or amendments extending the vote to women (or at least female ratepayers – another hurdle) failed to pass in Parliament.

Skilfully led by Kate Sheppard, campaigners and others organised a series of huge petitions to Parliament: in 1891 more than 9000 signatures were gathered, in 1892 almost 20,000, and finally, in 1893 nearly 32,000 were obtained – almost a quarter of the adult European female population of New Zealand.

Political manoeuvring stepped up and played dirty to try to stop change. By the early 1890s opponents of women’s suffrage began to mobilise. They warned that any disturbance of the ‘natural’ gender roles of men and women might have terrible consequences. The liquor industry, fearful that women would support growing demands for the prohibition of alcohol, lobbied sympathetic Members of Parliament and organised their own counter-petitions. (today the liquor industry is still a powerful and dangerous force – so much violence and family harm is caused by this highly addictive substance)

“The suffragists’ arch-enemy” writes nzhistory.govt,  was Henry Smith Fish, “a boorish Dunedin politician who hired canvassers to circulate anti-suffrage petitions in pubs. This tactic backfired, however, when it was found that some signatures were false or obtained by trickery. (mmm – does history repeat?).

People who gain from maintaining the status quo will fight hard to retain their position. Which is why we must all play our part in standing against abuses of power. Whether this is teaching, painting, creating art that uplights the world, telling our stories of standing against abuse and regaining our power, promoting and supporting the disadvantaged or joining a protest movement —what matters is we use our power.

For example, Colvin credits her teacher with instilling her with the knowledge that later led her to feel empowered. “They (our teachers) lectured us about Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth and we were taught about an opera singer called Marian Anderson who wasn’t allowed to sing at Constitutional Hall just because she was black, so she sang at Lincoln Memorial instead.”

As a therapist, I remember a Maori client saying to me, “I never thought a person like me would be able to be helped by a person like you.”

I was so shocked. “Why? What’s wrong with you?” I asked. Looking back I realize, quite possibly I was seeing the world through my eyes, not hers.

I wasn’t naive, I had taught students at University about the injustices inflicted upon indigenous peoples following the British occupation of New Zealand, and attempts to partner, not over power. Including the creation and signing of The Treaty of Waitangi. But intentions can be lost in translation. Years later Maori are still fighting for equality and true shared Sovereignty.

An African man we met in the Caribbean told me a similar story of feeling marginalised. As a poor man, he said, they were given access to inferior, less-skilled doctors. As a result of receiving poor medical care, his daughter had died.

Our time starts now

 

‘Our time starts now,” says David Attenborough in an exclusive interview in Mindfood magazine. We need fresh thinking and new ways to discover how to make a difference. It’s up to every one of us to help preserve peace, beauty, and kindness on this planet. There are simple and effective ways to do this.

I try to play a small part in the stories I tell and the books I write. As one reader wrote about Claimed by The Sheikh:

 

so happy re Claimed by The Sheikh

 

“Look after the animals and plants. This is their planet as well as ours,” says Sir David Attenborough, reminding us that the whole world is in peril. Which is why I created a hero, Sheikh Tariq an Hassir, who rescues animals who have been abandoned in zoos or trafficked.

Claimed by The Sheikh, touches on a number of subjects I love and care about with the twists and turns in the plot. I always love celebrating the strength of the human spirit, and what people do when faced with seemingly insurmountable challenges in their lives, and how unexpected events can turn disaster or tragedy into something good.

I love the fact that Melanie follows an unusual path as a pioneering architect—traditionally regarded as a male-only career. I love how hard she works at it. I always enjoy exploring how each of us uses and expresses our particular talents. And I felt a bond with her because I too studied architecture—but I didn’t have the courage and determination that Melanie had to finish.

Watching Melanie struggle with discrimination, knock-backs, and success, and the price you pay for them, was familiar to me too. Each person lives success differently and her adventures along the way help her become the person she is destined to be.

Whatever your path in life, you have a gift. Something nobody else can do as beautifully and skillfully as you. It may be standing up to discrimination, marching against the abuse of power, speaking forcefully to stop people setting fire to their cities, or quietly penning a blog post to encourage others or spotlight abuses.

How you express it, how you live it, and how you share it with others is unique to you. You have your own special way of dealing with life and the talents you’ve been given, whether you hide those gifts or share them openly.

I hope you enjoy reading this post and also enjoy Claimed by The Sheikh. Victory and success come in many forms and guises. Sheikh an Hassir has created a sanctuary for endangered animals who now flourish under his care.

Melanie creates an award-winning building to showcase many of their animals to dedicated the world and unite people of differing faiths. Both overcame significant obstacles. Their path is an exciting, fascinating, and rewarding one, and I’m sure yours will be too!

Remember, be kind and keep hope close to your hearts.

 

with pink veil IMG_6746

 

 

I hope you enjoy this excerpt from Claimed by The Sheikh.

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Chapter one

 

“Are you trying to kill her?” Tariq na Hassir, the formidable ruler of the Kingdom of Avana, seized the animal handler’s arm, forcing him to release the rope laced around the baby giraffe’s neck.

“She has suffered enough trauma.” Tariq dismissed the man with a fierce scowl that struck fear into enemies.

A slither of panic crept into the young man’s hushed apology. “I am sorry your Excellency.”

“Release the others from their cages,” Tariq growled.

The man did not have to be asked twice. He knew from experience that the Sheikh’s retribution for disobedience would be swift and merciless.

“You are safe from harm,” Tariq said softly, stroking the baby giraffe’s long neck with a gentleness that belied his strength.

“No one will ever hurt you again, Noor,” he said softly, impulsively naming her as his fingertips swept through the calf ’s fur. He let his long supple fingers linger a moment upon her tail. Thankfully they had saved her in time, he thought as he reached for the reins, clenching his powerful hands around the soft leather.

The rage he had first felt on hearing about the ruthless murder of the new born’s mother still roared through him. Had she been executed to pay a tail dowry to the father of some money-mongering bride, he wondered? Or did some heinous person pay thousands of dollars for a wretched fly swatter?

Noor looked up and met Tariq’s dark gaze. In her innocent eyes, he saw her despair, her disillusionment, her disgust with humanity. He recognized her trauma as though it was his own. Because it was.

“Humans,” he said, his voice marinated with contempt. “The people you should be able to trust, the people who say they care, the people whose actions should be driven by love—the majority are driven by nothing but selfishness, deception, and lies.”

Taking a bottle of milk, Tariq placed the teat to Noor’s lips. The calf ’s silky black lashes grazed her cheeks as she gazed down at the foreign object then looked back at Tariq. She stared silently up at him, her eyes moist and bewildered.

Tariq had trained himself to shut down his emotions but that skill suddenly failed him. His chest trembled with suppressed rage knowing the orphaned baby would never again taste her mother’s milk.

“What passes for love among some people is abhorrent,” he said in a low, strained voice. “On behalf of humanity, I apologize.”

The killing of the calf ’s mother and three other rare Kordofan giraffes by trophy hunters seeking their tails further motivated the Sheikh’s commitment to transform his anger into action.

“Do you really think you can save her?”

Tariq looked at Anwar, his younger brother by 11 months. His head was slightly bowed but he could see his eyes were fixed in sadness and longing.

Tension ripped down Tariq’s spine. “Our father’s reign of terror and tyranny have robbed Avana of prosperity and peace. I will make it my personal mission to right the injustices of the past. War and hostility must end. And it starts with how we treat those most vulnerable.”

His fingers shook as he gripped the bottle of milk as Noor, at last, began to suckle.

An eerie silence swept across the precipitous landscape of Avana’s Tiwa oasis. Tariq lifted his gaze to the horizon. The only movement visible to his naked eye was the wind etching a delicate furrow as it crawled over the golden dunes.

“Not only will I provide a sanctuary for hunted wildlife and orphans like Noor, but I will liberate God’s most precious creatures from the many closing zoos and other inhumane habitats around the world,” he said as he glanced over at the other animals being unloaded from the custom-built crates.

“I will create a world-acclaimed sanctuary, impenetrable by those with impure and malicious hearts. It will be the most magical, marvelous, mesmerizingly unique place, the number one eco-tourism destination in the world. I will create meaningful employment for our people, restoring their dignity, attracting millions of visitors annually and contributing billions to the economy. But more importantly, I will show the world how kindness and compassion can be turned into plutonium and change the world.”

Anwar glanced at the now lush landscape and recalled how barren it had once been. With no sign of life in sight, others had found it impossible to fathom his brother’s vision to transform the punishing and unforgiving conditions into a haven for so many endangered species. Yet, as with everything Tariq turned his formidable will and mind-blowing wealth to, he had succeeded where mere mortals were destined to fail.

Anwar’s heart swelled with pride as he thought of all his brother’s achievements. “It’s an audacious and admirable plan. And if anyone can pull it off it’s you, brother. Your passion, your drive, your unrelenting ambition and pursuit of goals exceeds mere mortals. And you have the endurance and power of 13,000 Arabian horses, but aren’t you setting yourself up for too much hard work? Why don’t you relax? Kick back. Enjoy the fruits of your reign?” Anwar said, tossing his head in the direction of the harem. “Other men would.”

“Women were our father’s weakness,” bitterness bled from Tariq’s words. “I too once made the same mistake. I too paid the price.”

There was a tense silence while Tariq lifted his gaze to the sky and studied the giant falcon circling above.

“Was it not you who once taught that your greatest weakness can also be your greatest strength?” Anwar asked.

Tariq shook his head, biting down a terse retort. “I was misled,” he said. He nodded his command to the animal handler lingering at a respectful distance and petted Noor as she was led away.

“All kinds of atrocities are committed in the name of love, which is why it is the most dangerous of emotions, and why I am forever turned off to women.”

 

Chapter Two

Shielding his eyes from the blazing sun, Tariq looked skyward, honing in on the falcon’s intense, focused gaze. The power, the force, the courage and the vision of the hunting dog of the sky inspired him. And unlike humans falcons were loyal—a quality Tariq valued above all else.

“The best time for a man is the time he spends with his family,” he said, glancing toward his brother. “My people are my family. My animals are my family. You are my family,” he said, patting his brother’s shoulders.

“The first responsibility of a leader is to make his people happy and then to provide them with the required security, stability, comfort, progress and development to ensure their survival. My loyalty is to you all.”

Tariq’s head jerked backward sharply as he recalled the brutal tyranny of his father. “Besides what sort of man doesn’t want to care for his family? Only an ego-driven tyrant like our father would turn a blind eye to the plight of our people and the cruelty imposed on God’s creatures.”

Tariq gritted his teeth, his jaw locking against the strain of suppressing his emotions. There was no point voicing the hostility he felt toward his father. There was no purpose in reminding his brother that his father was a behemoth, a beast, a toxic mix of oppressiveness and evilness who had wielded monstrous power and made their lives a misery.

“This has to be the most isolated place in the world,” Anwar muttered, gazing out forlornly at the neutrals and as-far-as-the-eye-can-see block tones of the desert. “No wonder mother fled to London.”

While Tariq missed his mother deeply he didn’t share his brother’s despair. He was a thirty-six-year-old ruler who was pouring his power, his infinite wealth, his heart and soul into the land and the animals who he now offered sanctuary. He was a king filled with purpose.

“There is a lot of anti-Islamic sentiment in the world. People believe we are a nation of murderers. Thanks to people who corrupt our ways for their evil agenda. Thanks to our father and his violent, corrupt rule. Thanks to warlords and governments who seek to profit from war and spread their lies. Because of all these things the international community fears us. They have been driven away. I want to bring people back here. I want to restore our nation’s pride. I want to show the world the beauty and kindness of true Islam. Our people have suffered enough shaming and violence,” Tariq said.

“Again, you have set yourself a formidable task. Are you sure you’re not throwing yourself into this audacious cause just to forget about your disobedient wife?” Anwar said.

“My ex-wife,” Tariq corrected. His brief marriage had been a disaster. He should have resisted the arrangement. He should have refused to cement his father’s power-base by marrying the daughter of his pugnacious uncle.

Loyalty. That was Tariq’s weakness. Loyalty, to family, no matter the personal cost.

The marriage was as archaic as it was disastrous. But that didn’t stop Tariq wanting a family—one that didn’t place demands on him he wasn’t equipped to keep.

Duty—that’s what counted.

The irony didn’t escape him. Duty had claimed his marriage. He knew Fatima took other lovers, just like he knew that some people weren’t suited to marriage. But he also knew that if he hadn’t been more married to his people and his quest than he’d ever been to his wife, he might have prevented her from escaping in the night with his bodyguard in a run-down-old jeep. He might have prevented her from being buried in the sandstorm that led to her death.

He gazed out at the stark, undulating desert landscape. If he had to atone for his sins, he’d rather do it out here where there was nothing but the eerie silence and the hot wind surfing over the dunes. Where there was nothing other than his rescued wildlife meandering over what felt like the plains of the Serengeti. Where there was nothing but the blazing desert, the sand beneath his toes, and the endless Arabian sea cutting them off from the world.

Duty required sacrifice.

Tension knotted his gut as his mind drifted to the woman who angered him most. Melanie Jones. It had been her fault his older brother Zayed had abdicated, and Tariq had been catapulted into the role of ruler.

Tariq vowed long ago that while he loved his older brother dearly, his disloyalty had cost too high a price. He had vowed, no matter how painful, he would never speak or think of him again.

Tariq ran his fingers down the dark brown back feathers of the hawk. “He who wants to advance should always look ahead,” he said, turning to his younger brother.

“There are worse things than an eternity spent in this beautiful kingdom of islands, miles away from anything, draped in wind and quiet, sandstorms and hot desert breezes. Anchored between the majestic desert and surrounded by the shimmering Arabian sea. You will understand the preciousness of this gift soon enough, Anwar.”

The Kingdom of Avana had been the crown in the jewel of Tariq’s ancestors since time began. Only this time, under his rule, instead of bloody and catastrophic wars provoked by his father’s oppressive regime, the Kingdom of Avana would enjoy a reign of prosperous peace.

And he’d dedicate himself to his cause—and none other. Because when he looked around Tariq didn’t see the life-sentence his younger brother Anwar imagined, or the chokehold his older brother Zayed had felt.

He saw his home.

Yet, while he wasn’t given to despair he could see his future as well as anyone if he continued alone. Today’s reclusive hermit is tomorrow’s bitter, old relic, Tariq told himself as the falcon left his arm and flew toward the object of his ardent desire.

He watched as the giant bird of prey courted a female falcon with acrobatic displays of daring aerial feats, Tariq was acutely aware that a kingdom wasn’t a kingdom with only a king to rule. To avoid Avana falling into the clutches of his father’s tyrannical offspring he needed an heir.

The possibility was as outrageous as it was urgent. To bear an heir he needed a wife. The whole idea was impossible. Once betrayed, a thousand times wiser, he reminded himself.

His dark brows curved into a frown as he saw his bodyguard gallop on horseback away from the towering walls of the palace toward him.

His body tensed with the stillness of a wild animal whose every sense was alert, suspicious and wary as he approached.

“Your Excellency! Come quickly. There’s been an accident.”

 

Chapter Three

 

“Please, please, please choose me,” Melanie Jones prayed inwardly. She swallowed hard, an ache building in her chest, as she checked her watch, then checked again as she paced the floor outside the Council administrative offices in central London. She heaved a deep breath as her thoughts raced.

Six minutes until her fate would be decided. She checked her watch again. Five minutes, 59 seconds until the officials from The Council, and the other key teams assessing her architectural design for the new community library, would decide her fate.

Had she done a good enough job to convince them to sign off her concept for the project? The newly elected bureaucrats in the state government had challenged her design and costings, and the whole concept was in danger of coming to a crashing end.

Had she conceded too much when she yielded to their demands to rein in her vision?

Just for once she wished she could shrug off the stigma that dogged her when time after time, despite her award-winning designs, none of her buildings were ever constructed.

Just once she wished the vision she saw, the beauty she visualized, the joy she knew would be felt by those who eventually inhabited her buildings, was shared by those with access to the vault of money needed to bring her designs into reality.

If she could just get the dammed bureaucrats to say ‘yes’. Until then she’d be nothing but a paper architect. Her life’s work nothing but drawings and dreams.

Dreams.

Melanie rubbed her temple, erasing the one dream she had promised herself to forsake. She was not going to think of him.

Her ebony-black brows knitted in a fierce line as she forced her mind to the task at hand. She glanced down at the scatter of sketches splayed across the boardroom desk, feeling a mix of awe and pride—and aloneness.

Despite the fact that her design was breath stompingly beautiful, and searingly exquisite, her concept was also daringly innovative. The sweeping feminine curves confronted many people’s sense of what architecture was and what it wasn’t.

While she did everything in her power to minimize her own feminineness, in her designs aggressive masculine lines, straight edges and harsh corners were resolutely banished.

Dispelled were the sharp, angular lines and boxy shapes that so many in her field admired for their cost efficiencies. Eradicated were the shapes and forms that looked more like watchtowers in the worst of the concentration camps. Welcomed were the soaring sweeps and sensuous curves that inspired and nurtured and united people regardless of race, gender, or belief.

Melanie slid her palms over the stiff folds of her shapeless noir-black upside-down jacket. The touch of tarpaulin did an adequate job of disguising her generous breasts, but even this wouldn’t detract from what many considered to be her biggest failing.

She was a woman. A woman competing in a man’s world.

People, she knew only too painfully, didn’t like breaking with tradition. And they didn’t like change. And they most definitely didn’t like a woman telling them what to do.

Everyone had told her that convincing these officials, as with all other decision-makers she had to influence, would take more than skill and strength of purpose. She was the outsider, just as her buildings were. On the edge, confronting other people’s notions of compliance, and predictability, and subservience.

She’d stayed late at her office working through the night as she always did. She was quietly confident, but it was an audacious design. Why couldn’t she do what her mother had always told her to do? Why couldn’t she settle for less?

The community library was the biggest project she and her small team of fledgling architects had ever handled—and the most important. Books changed lives. Books made people better citizens. Books liberated people from their constrained lives.

Liberation. Freedom. Escape. She owed it to people. Her architecture was designed for everyday men and women—not the elite.

She had worked on the concept tirelessly, sacrificing the rest of her life. Architecture was her big love. Her only love. Work kept her guilt, and her anger, and her shame at bay, she told herself, ignoring the emptiness and longing that slopped in her belly, calling her a liar.

xxx

Did you enjoy this excerpt?

 

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Why I write romance

How trauma can fuel your life purpose

How extraordinary love can change our lives

 

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p.s.

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Click here>> to enjoy the first chapter from my upcoming new release, Love All of Me.

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New release…Love All of Me

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Dear friends,

I hope you enjoy the first chapter from my upcoming new release, Love All of Me.

This story was inspired by the tragic events of December 2019 when the volcano on White Island, in New Zealand erupted. At the time of writing, the eruption took the lives of 16 people and injured 30, most critically with life-threatening burns.

I read about a young man (aged only nineteen) who not only was severely burned but awoke from his induced coma to learn that his entire family had died.

I wondered, what would it be like to be a survivor? What if you felt you had no right to live, let alone love again? What if you were wracked with survivor’s guilt?  What if your scars weren’t just on the outside but buried deep within?

What and who would it take to heal such traumatic scars?

The story was also inspired by my father, G.W. Gaisford who discovered a miraculous way to help heal deep burns using an emulsion created in part from bees honey. I’m proud to say that my father cured so many people who would otherwise have been left with disfiguring scars.

I wondered, what if my heroine wanted to follow in her father’s footsteps and as a result founded a honey empire.

Where I live the manuka flower attracts many bees and a great many successful companies have been founded here. It astounds me how clever, and vital to life, bees are.

I wrote my first draft in the notes section of my iPhone as news of the fatal volcanic eruption on White Island unfolded.

Below is the blurb and the first chapter.

 

 

An unexpected lover…

After surviving a horrific accident Daisy Miller is plagued by guilt. Hiding both her mental and physical scars, she shuns love and escapes into work—finding meaning and purpose in running her global manuka honey empire.

Beautiful and smart, when Gianni Romano demands she sell the business to him, her passions are inflamed. How dare he think he can buy the only thing that gives her a reason to live?

Gianni Romano has ventured to New Zealand by the one thing he’d love to escape: family The Romano fortune and name has followed him wherever he goes. But that only made the headstrong Italian more determined to strike out on his own. Now he’s on the cusp of achieving world acclaim.

 Only one woman stands in his way—Daisy Miller and her refusal to submit to his demands. The spark they have is more than a Sicilian sunset, but when emotions run deep and lives are on the line will mixing business with pleasure be the bedrock for a lifelong love? Or will it all explode like an angry volcano?

Love Me As I Am is a clean romance, brimming with the promise of a happily ever after. Set in The Bay of Islands, New Zealand—one of the most beautiful, unspoiled, sensuous places in the world.

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

“I never thought it would happen to me.”

Daisy Miller looked down at the frenzied crayon scrawls the art therapist Issy Riley had asked her to draw. Issy’s instructions were simple, to create what she felt.

There it was on the page all those memories Daisy thought she had talked through until she was bruised and blue; all those toxic thoughts that she thought she had healed; all those terrifying traumas she thought she had pushed so far to the back of mind they had exploded through.

Daisy rubbed her hand below her abdomen feeling the puckered ridge of the scars and skin grafts she covered up and hid from the rest of the world. Physical scars she hid from view, not unlike the way she tried to hide her mental scars.

It had been a year since that fatal day that detonated her happiness. For nearly 12-months she had troughed on a brave face of self-reliance and independence and nonchalance.

But now it was a week before Christmas and everything erupted to the surface until she was so terrified of the consequences she reached out for help.

Daisy studied the black sooty image, forged with thick crayoned blazes of black and frenzied scribbles of grey and grimaced. She lifted her hand to the thick fringe of flame-coloured hair, and pressed it down against her forehead, feeling as she did so the indentations and scars caused by flying volcanic rock.

“I don’t know if this is a good idea.” Daisy’s voice was thick with conviction and intensity. Her mood had changed since entering the therapist’s room, and she was at once furtively angry and coolly clear in her certainty that mining her emotions was a big mistake.

“Use a new page if you like,” Issy said, her tone was compassionate and kind and Daisy instantly trusted her. She’d worked with a great number of therapists since the accident and not one of them seemed to truly care. And she liked that Issy was unconventional. She sensed she was a nonconformist, an outsider, just like Daisy.

“Feel free to edit, “ Issy handed Daisy a pair of scissors. “Cut out anything that you don’t like—anything that you want,” Issy said changing her words, as though being careful not to lead her too much or direct where Daisy’s subconscious wanted to go.

Daisy looked at the pad of paper balanced on a board on her knees and tore off a sheet of paper. She grabbed the glue stick Issy handed her and pasted it over her memories, then slapped the fresh page down.

Blank. That’s what she felt.

Blank, she affirmed silently as her gaze sunk into the white void. Just like there was a big blank in her life where her family used to be.

“How do you feel?”

“Better,” Daisy lied. She clenched her fist and forced it to the page and rubbed it back and forth in vigorous sweeps over the paper.  She knew she should confide in the therapist but the truth was she didn’t want to lift the lid off the emotions she strove so hard to suppress.

She didn’t want to tell Issy ‘I feel nothing, and that’s how I want it,’ because she feared just like White Island erupted that awful day, that once her feelings erupted it would be fatal.

Every semblance of her life that she had scraped together hung by a tiny worn thread. Every tiny little morsel of the reason why she kept on living was reduced to dry crumbs. Every tear she stuffed down threatened to hurl itself onto the page. And she was terrified and terrorized and traumatized that once she lifted the lid on the guilt that consumed every waking moment would explode. Because all she wanted to die.

Daisy glanced at the clock on the therapist’s wall.  Three minutes to three. Three her lucky number. Or, rather it had been. Three minutes more until her session would be over.

Thank God.

She was stupid to think that this would change anything, but she wanted to try. Didn’t she owe it to Zac? Didn’t she owe it to her dad? She was sick of living like this. Unable to feel. Dead from the heart down, permanently scarred and terrified of the dark thoughts that permeated her mind like the sulfurous gas and toxic fumes that killed so many that hateful day.

She clenched her eyes as the video footage of the burns many victims suffered replayed in her mind. No. Her parents had died from the fumes, she silently affirmed, not wanting to think the worse.

“It’s okay to cry,” Issy said,  handing her a tissue. “You can’t always be stoic. Tears are healing.”

Daisy shook her head. She didn’t want to find out. “I’m fine,” she said. I am a rock.

“Why did you come here?”

Daisy shrugged. “I thought coming back to New Zealand would be therapeutic. You know sort of like face the fear and—”

She bit her lip. That was the problem. She had faced the fear. It had been her idea. Her whole family, at Daisy’s insistence, had faced the fear and look where it got them.

Dead.

Issy looked at her sympathetically.

Daisy turned away. She didn’t want sympathy. She didn’t want kindness. And she most definitely didn’t want people worrying about her. She had a hard enough job worrying about herself without getting stuck in her old paradigm of worrying for everyone else.

The truth was if she’d done a better job worrying for everyone else she wouldn’t have nagged her family to go on the volcanic excursion.

She blamed herself and no amount of therapy was ever going to change the facts.

Christmas last year her mom dad and brother—her whole family—died. She had killed them. And on that day she swore she would never love anyone again.

“I’m sorry, but I have another client. Are you okay if we leave things there for today?”

Daisy nodded. “Sure.”

“Same time next week?”

“Yes, Same time next week is perfect,” she lied.  She wouldn’t be coming back. Ever. Without her family what was the point in living?

 

Soooooo…..who will be the man that will heal Daisy’s wounds and inspire her to love life again?

 

Find out Love All of Me.

 

Available for pre-order now

To grab your copy from Amazon, click here:

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https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08946RHFW

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P.S. I hope you enjoy meeting Issy Riley again, The art therapist you met in  The Italian Billionaire’s Christmas Bride.

 

If you’d like to learn more about these characters, gain inside tips into the writing process, or be the first to know when a new book is released, subscribe to my newsletter here: http://eepurl.com/cigEsH. Please email me and I’ll be in touch personally—I promise…

 

 

 

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New Zealand Romance and The Italian Billionaire’s Christmas Bride—The Inspiration Behind the Story

Love in New Zealand

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BEE Inspired…

Dear friends,

It’s a change of season and I’ve been painting, creating and reading.

“Kind words are like honey—sweet to the soul and healthy for the body” ~ Kenn Butler

This painting is called “Love Language”⠀
Mixed media, molten New Zealand beeswax, encaustic, oil crayon, passion
Pro-panel artboard 400mm x12mm

Handcrafted by me in New Zealand

New work created during global ‘rest time’. In honour of the new movement sparked by Dr. Joe Dispenza, called GOLOV-20  So much loving energy! So much healing:) so much joy.

As you may know, many of my books have art-related themes. But bees also have a special place in my heart.

I absolutely loved the honey bees flying all over the studio today when I was doing my beeswax painting. My father was a beekeeper, so this is even more special to me. It is to my father that I owe my love of research and a deep commitment to, and interest in, alternative forms of healing—now commonly known as (and increasingly accepted by those against ‘non-conventional’ medicine and forms of treatment) as holistic health.

My father dedicated his later years to helping others and was an early pioneer in the field of apitherapy. As Wikipedia so excellently sums up, “Apitherapy is a branch of alternative medicine that uses honey bee products, including honeypollenpropolisroyal jelly, and bee venom. Proponents of apitherapy make claims for its health benefits which remain unsupported by evidence-based medicine. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apitherapy.)”

The last line (“health benefits which remain unsupported by evidence-based medicine”) is especially pertinent to my father. He was a tireless campaigner who fought to have alternative approaches to healing accepted by the medical establishment. Many of the treatments that were then regarded as unconventional, ‘woo-woo’ cures —including acupuncture, are now widely accepted, and in many cases have been validated using evidence-based techniques. In large part, it is not that the cures did not work, it is the humankind lacked the technology to evidence or measure the results.

 I am proud to continue my father’s tireless campaign today in my holistic, health and wellness-based approach to my work as a holistic therapist, energy healer, Reiki Master, artist, self-empowerment and romance author who is not afraid to challenge the status quo. I believe, as Picasso does, that “art washes from the soul the dust of everyday life” and is healing for the soul.

Bees and their curative powers feature prominently in my new WIP, Love All of Me.

An unexpected lover…

After surviving a horrific accident Daisy Miller is plagued by guilt. Hiding both her mental and physical scars, she shuns love and escapes into work—finding meaning and purpose in running her global manuka honey empire.

Beautiful and smart, when Gianni Romano demands she sell the business to him, her passions are inflamed. How dare he think he can buy the only thing that gives her a reason to live?

Gianni Romano has ventured to New Zealand by the one thing he’d love to escape: family The Romano fortune and name has followed him wherever he goes. But that only made the headstrong Italian more determined to strike out on his own. Now he’s on the cusp of achieving world acclaim.

Only one woman stands in his way—Daisy Miller and her refusal to submit to his demands. The spark they have is more than a Sicilian sunset, but when emotions run deep and lives are on the line, will mixing business with pleasure be the bedrock for a lifelong love? Or will it all explode like an angry volcano?

Love Me As I Am is a short story, clean romance, brimming with the promise of a happily ever after. Set in The Bay of Islands, New Zealand—one of the most beautiful, unspoiled, sensuous places in the world.

AVAILABLE SOON!

In the meantime, stress less and laugh more with these free romantic comedy stories>>https://storyoriginapp.com/to/XGF2FGu

p.s.

Did you know you can my most popular and successful books on audio?

Check out the following written and narrated by me.

I love reading and narrating my own stories. I hope my New Zealand accent is understandable!

Flight of Passion

US

https://www.audible.com/pd/Flight-of-Passion-Audiobook/B0874YCXVL

UK

https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Flight-of-Passion-Audiobook/B0874X8TGX

AU

https://www.audible.com.au/pd/Flight-of-Passion-Audiobook/B0874Y3V2T

KOBO

https://www.kobo.com/nz/en/audiobook/flight-of-passion-4

The Italian Billionaire’s Scandalous Marriage

US

https://www.audible.com/pd/The-Italian-Billionaires-Scandalous-Marriage-An-Italian-Billionaire-Romance-Audiobook/B08745WFMS

UK

https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/The-Italian-Billionaires-Scandalous-Marriage-An-Italian-Billionaire-Romance-Audiobook/B087485CLB

AU

https://www.audible.com.au/pd/The-Italian-Billionaires-Scandalous-Marriage-An-Italian-Billionaire-Romance-Audiobook/B0873ZXX6G

KOBO

https://www.kobo.com/en/audiobook/italian-billionaire-s-scandalous-marriage-the

Love Me Forever

USA

https://www.audible.com/pd/Love-Me-Forever-Audiobook/B081QRGJV8

UK

https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Love-Me-Forever-Audiobook/B081QQVRV4

Australia

https://www.audible.com.au/pd/Love-Me-Forever-Audiobook/B081QQW4N8

Twist of Fate

USA

https://www.audible.com/pd/Twist-of-Fate-Audiobook/B07YL93YYV

UK

https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Twist-of-Fate-Audiobook/B07YLBN32S

Australia

https://www.audible.com.au/pd/Twist-of-Fate-Audiobook/B07YL9ZTLJ

The Lightkeepers Lover

USA

https://www.audible.com/pd/The-Lightkeepers-Lover-Audiobook/B07Z9PX3NY

UK

https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/The-Lightkeepers-Lover-Audiobook/B07Z9Q1Q89

Australia

https://www.audible.com.au/pd/The-Lightkeepers-Lover-Audiobook/B07Z9QRWBV

 

Forever and Always

USA

https://www.audible.com/pd/Forever-and-Always-Audiobook/B0868GTBNC

UK

https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Forever-and-Always-Audiobook/B0868H5XKV

Australia

https://www.audible.com.au/pd/Forever-and-Always-Audiobook/B0868GM443

Audio versions of these books and the following are also available from all online bookstores and also libraries (Audible is experiencing long delays in publishing):

Sex With Strangers

Kobo

https://www.kobo.com/us/en/audiobook/sex-with-strangers-14 

Claimed by the Sheikh

Kobo

https://www.kobo.com/us/en/audiobook/claimed-by-the-sheikh-9

Coming soon:

Love Me As I Am

The Italian Billionaire’s Christmas Bride

Finding A Husband

In less than 15 minutes you could be listening your way to love!

 

 Check out more of my bee-inspired artwork here>>https://www.cassandragaisford.com/gallery/

 

DID YOU ENJOY THIS POST?

You may also like:

Why I write romance

Flight of Passion and a change of season

How extraordinary love can change our lives

Danielle Steele and the joy of working on many projects at the same time

My books on audio

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