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The Last Word- Review Copies Available!

Incase it wasn’t clear how excited I am that my first Carina UK novel is coming out this month, let me express that clearly. EEEEEEP!

The Last Word is available for review on Netgalley, if you follow THIS link. Let me know what you think, and be sure to tweet at @almichael_ and @carinauk

 

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Tabby Riley’s online life was a roaring success. Her blog had hundreds of followers, and legions of young fans ardently awaited her every Tweet. Her real life was a bit more of a disappointment. Living in a shared flat in North London, scratching a living writing magazine articles on ‘How To Please Your Man in Bed’ wasn’t where she thought she’d be at twenty-six – especially when there was a serious lack of action in her own bedroom.

Until she was offered the job of her dreams on online paper The Type – and gained a sexy new editor, Harry Shulman, to bounce her ideas off. Tabby had previous bad form when it came to falling for well-dressed, smooth-talking editors, so no way was she going there again…ever! But had she got a little too used to hiding behind her laptop screen? Perhaps it was time for the real Tabby Riley to come out and have some fun!

 

You can also pre-order on Amazon HERE

 

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GUEST POST: TERRI NIXON- The Tale of the Happy Hybrid

Today I’ve got another Carina Writer doing a guest post for my blog!

 

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Hi, and thanks for welcoming me to your blog, Andi  

 

I’m here to talk a little bit about the publishing route I’ve been lucky enough to be able to choose; that of the Hybrid Author. I write both for myself and for publishers – as long as they’ll have me! – and the sense of achievement is already phenomenal, after less than a year. Not in terms of sales, I hasten to add, because it’s a long, slow process getting the word ‘out there,’ and I’m working full-time as well, so probably don’t spend as much time promoting as I should; writing time is precious enough! But I’m learning as I go, and picking up tips all the time. 

So, having been already signed by a publisher, why did I then choose to put my own work out? Impatient? Control-Freak? Cocky? 

 

I can promise you, it was none of the above. The simple thing is, I wrote a book in 2010 that won a contest in 2012, and was utterly unlike anything I’ve ever written before. It won me a publishing contract with Piatkus, people liked it, and in 2013 it was nominated for an award. I was thrilled. Still am. And very, very proud. That was Maid of Oaklands Manor (formerly Saturday’s Child.)

 

However, the work I’d done up to that point remains my true love; I’d been writing and re-writing The Dust of Ancients since the early noughties, created a whole new interpretation of the history of the Cornish moors, placed my characters within it and watched them grow.

How could I let all that go, and simply follow that rather shady path that had suddenly opened up in front of me? I say ‘shady,’ not because of any hint of wrong-doing, but because I had no notion of where it would lead or what I might stumble over. There was the niggling fear I would be suddenly dropped mid-series (which I was!) and the question of whether I really wanted to be *that* kind of a writer for evermore.

 

My agent has expressed cautious approval of The Dust of Ancients, but says it’s too niche and  prefers to represent me for my historical/romance/drama work, which is absolutely fine by me, because she has just secured me a 2-book deal with Carina (pause to run around the room squealing, yet again!) I am happy to continue writing that kind of book, and have written a second in that series and begun the third … but in the meantime my poor first love had been wilting for want of light. 

So, I opened up the folder, looked over the MS again to see if any of it was salvageable, and decided to let the rest of the world be the judge. So far the light I have given it is like the lowest setting of a three-touch lamp, but that’s got to be better than the total dark of a Word folder, don’tcha think? The bonus, using that analogy, is that the fourth touch can never plunge it back into darkness; the book is on sale, it’s undoubtedly mine, from first word to last, and no-one is going to come along and beat me to it.

 

The biggest plus, of course, is that I can put it out in paperback. I doubt any of my historical dramas will be physical books, sad as it is to acknowledge that. I love the way my self-pubbed book looks, love the way it feels, love the way I can physically pass it over to people who ask about it, instead of giving them a link they’ll probably lose before they get home. The cover is stunning, and the cover for book 2 even more so and I can’t wait to share it! (The Lightning and the Blade is due out in June.)

Running parallel with all that excitement is the knowledge that my WW1 drama (currently titled: Lady of No Man’s Land) will be released by Carina, hopefully in July. So it’s a double-whammy of publication this summer … better get that promotion muscle flexing, eh?

 

 

 

 

Author Website: www.terri-nixon.co.uk 

Follow me on Twitter: @TerriNixon

Author Facebook: www.facebook.com/terri.authorpage 

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B00DI8R8K6 

 

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GUEST POST: Carys Jones ‘Where I Write’

I’m excited to welcome Carys Jones, a fellow Carina author, to my blog this week! Her book Prime Deception is available now!

 

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I write all my books on my trusty pink laptop in the study of my house. My laptop isn’t connected to the internet so when I sit up there I am solely focused on my work.

As you can see, my desk is covered in lots of girly trinkets. I have up programs from all the ballets I have been to with my Mom, we usually go twice a year. I have a Little Mermaid snow globe as its one of my favourite Disney movies and the picture in the Minnie/Daisy frame is of my beloved cat Pepper who sadly passed away a few years ago. Behind the picture of Pepper is a picture of me and all my friends on my wedding day. 

There is also a Hello Kitty clock which I’ve had for years and has followed me from my parents’ home to my own house now. I’ve always loved anything Hello Kitty. When this picture was taken I’d finished working for the day, when I’m working there is always a large glass of water on the pink coaster! 

There are more pictures scattered around on the walls but they are out of the shot. I try and make my writing space really personal, my own little area where I am surrounded by everything that I love and find familiar. It means that when I’m stuck, or writing something particularly emotional, I can look up and smile when I see either a picture or a memory of somewhere I’ve been.

On the far left you can see a load of notes from the story I’m currently working on. What you can’t see are all my scribbling’s written all over it as I’m forever changing my mind and altering things from my original plan! 

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Guest Post from author Rebecca Raisin!

Really excited to be featuring news from Rebecca Raisin’s next novella Chocolate Dreams at the Gingerbread Cafe today, and I’m certainly eagerly awaiting its publication on 20th March!

Welcome back to the warmth, cupcakes and hot chocolate of The Gingerbread Café – your home away from home.

Chocolate Dreams at the Gingerbread Cafe

Chocolate Dreams at the Gingerbread Café  – the second novella in The Gingerbread Café series –. Released March 20th by Carina UK. 

Chocolate…the most irresistible temptation?

The Gingerbread Café is all a buzz! This Easter, Lily and the rest of the town of Ashford, Connecticut are planning a truly decadent Chocolate Festival. Cooking up a storm, CeeCee and Lily are not just baking a batch of their sinfully delicious chocolate-dipped gingerbread men, but an excess of chocolate truffles, squidgy, cinnamony hot cross buns and melt in your mouth chocolate eggs. The Gingerbread Café staff have definitely enjoyed the tasting process!

Add in Damon’s cute-as-a-button seven year old daughter, Charlie, up for a visit and Lily’s perfect Easter may just be around the corner. Until her ex-husband Joel turns up demanding twenty thousand dollars… Suddenly the future of the Gingerbread Café is not so clear…and Lily finds herself eating far more of The Gingerbread Café’s treats than her skinny jeans allow…

Can Lily concoct a brilliant plan to save her beloved café, convince Damon she has no feelings for Joel and still throw a Chocolate Festival the town will be talking about for years? There’s only one way to find out…

Welcome back to the warmth, cupcakes and hot chocolate of The Gingerbread Café – your home away from home

This is the second novella in The Gingerbread Café series

Christmas at the Gingerbread Café

Chocolate Dreams at the Gingerbread Café

Coming Christmas 2014 look out for the next romantic instalment!

Goodreads:

http://bit.ly/1i69MYZ

Find the novella here:

Amazon US http://amzn.to/OFCjw3

Amazon UK http://amzn.to/1fKsW7z

iTunes https://itun.es/au/RXigX.l

KOBO http://bit.ly/1dZoayZ

Google play http://bit.ly/1gPMtlb

Find Rebecca here: 

https://www.facebook.com/RebeccaRaisinAuthor

http://rebeccaraisin.wordpress.com

www.twitter.com/jaxandwillsmum

http://www.pinterest.com/rebeccaraisin/chocolate-dreams-at-the-gingerbread-cafe/

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On Dealing with Not Being a Special Snowflake: How the desire for originality can get us down.

I’m on my third novel at the moment, and it’s the first one I’ve ever written under a contract, with a deadline, and expectations and all that jazz. Usually, I write because I fall in love with these crazy people I’ve been having conversations with in my head, but this time round, it’s a bit like walking into a room of people and thinking ‘I have to fall in love with one of you tonight, or I’m screwed.’ A bit like starting a relationship before getting to know the other person. Suddenly we’re curled up watching TV on Sunday nights, and I don’t even know what their favourite colour is.

I’m into character driven stories, incase you couldn’t tell. I want to know about people, how they tick, why they act crazy in certain situations. And usually, the situations arise out of the crazy character. Now, I find myself desperately searching for places to put these characters, searching for drama, making issues where there are none.

 Issues always come from your character. The way they act, or how they think, inevitably causes problems for them. That’s what’s satisfying. Taking your average joe and sticking them on a runaway train, well, that’s not appealing to me. Not unless Joe used to be a train driver, and hasn’t ventured onto public transport in thirty years, because his wife died after being hit by a bus. I don’t care if Joe’s a big damn hero, I want his actions to have effects.

 

And here’s where we get stuck: There are an unlimited combination of people, problems and situations. However, after a while, they all seem to become the same. And I find myself accidentally using names other people have used, or having parts of a similar backstory. Is it that I’m reading more of the genre, and accidentally picking stuff up? Or is it that we’ve adapted to finding formulaic texts comforting, because we secretly know how it’s all going to turn out?

A writer friend of mine always used to have this issue. He’d get halfway through a truly brilliant project, and then find out someone had already done something really similar. My response was always ‘but YOU haven’t done it, your voice has value, it might bring something different to the table’, but now I get how he was feeling. When you’re passionate about what you do, and it starts to look fake, it’s hard to be enthusiastic. So what do I do? Throw away this book and start again? Remove any traces of anything that’s been mentioned in previous books? No. Impossible. Our influences define us, even if they’re unconscious.

 

All I can do is continue to explore my characters, hope that within them, in their histories and quirks, lies the answer to the originality of my story. Yes, boy meets girl, some stuff happens, everything’s fine, there’s drama, they’re together. There’s a reason it’s a cliche. But hopefully, at times like these, we trust that our voice really does have something new to say, even if we’re not sure how to do it.

 
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A Word on Valentines Day from Eternal Cynic Tabby Riley

Hi, I’m Tabby Riley, and I’ll be taking over A.L.Michael’s blog today. Because we like breaking the fourth wall. As Valentines Day is coming up, Andi invited me to write something for you guys, to get to know me a little better.

Well, I’m pretty simple. I write pointless articles for magazines. Which, as a result, means I’ve becoming a ranting lunatic behind a computer screen, but I do know the best way to pluck my eyebrows and get some pretty cool freebies when I review things. But it’s not really the career I want. I write this blog, Miss Twisted Thinks, and my readers seem to think I’m funny. But they’re really tired of me harping on about whether a jaffa cake is a biscuit (Chocolate to base ratio people, come on!). 

Thing is, I used to be a proper journalist. At a proper paper, with a desk, and an editor and… well, it fell apart a few years ago. And here I am, still typing away at a computer screen at two in the afternoon in my pyjamas, wondering if it’s too early to start on the wine, and why did I eat that entire chelsea bun. Life’s…well, it’s alright.

Valentines Day has always seemed like a massive waste of time to me. It’s corporate and commercial, and any other valid point that I’m not allowed to make because I’m single and people think I’m just bitter. Yeah, I got screwed over. My main relationship was with my boss, after he’d supposedly separated from his wife. I was young, and reckless and in love with the idea of this powerful man who could teach me so much. For him, thinking back, it was probably just convenient to have someone to fuck who could then carry on doing the paperwork. But I’m older now, wiser. 

I’ve had a job offer from this guy Harry. And sleeping with my editor was a problem last time, so no worries on that front, because Harry is detestable. He’s all about the perfect pout, and thirty quid bottles of wine, designer suits. The guy drives a bloody porsche, for god’s sake. And he seems to have this way of looking at me like I’m a trained monkey without the training. Like I might surprise him, but he doubts it. 

So what am I going to do this Valentines Day? The same thing I do every year, have a ‘Nothing Day’ with my two best friends, Rhi and Chandra. We sit around, watching Buffy episodes on VHS, getting quietly stoned and sozzled. This year I have banned The Breakfast Club from v-day watching. Or anything from the 80s. We just get too melancholic about the state of romance in a digital world. 

So, Valentines advice from your very own Miss Twisted: Only buy uncomfortable lingerie if it makes you feel good, look for a man who’ll buy you an unconventional flower (roses are on sale), valentines day is a lot like New Years, with all the expectation, so avoid that by having fun with your friends…or give in to the capitalistic creation that is the exploitation of the only true and pure thing we have left in this world, and have a nice day!

 

 

 

If you like what Tabby has to say, maybe you should read about her life in The Last Word, released April 2014 by Carina UK. In the meantime, why not browse other Carina authors by searching the hashtag #weloveromance ? 

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Top Ten Fictional Couples

What makes a great couple? I don’t mean in real life, because honestly, no-one cares how great your best friend is with her boyfriend. We don’t commit to other people’s coupledom in real life (unless there’s a wedding, because who doesn’t love a party?) the way that we do in books and movies and tv shows. We want them to get together, we want them to look up and see that other person and make it work. Then usually, when they’re together, there’s some sort of terrible break apart or they settle into boring domesticity and we forget how invested we were. No matter! As part of #weloveromance I’m here to list my top ten favourite fictional couples, in no particular order:

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1. Jess and Rory (Gilmore Girls). I shipped these guys hard. They made sense. She’s already got bored of her very nice and very boring boyfriend, he’s the angry new kid who dislikes everything about his new home but her. He’s also crazy smart and ends up writing a book, when she’s been afraid he’s got no ambition. Love me a male lead with a bit of bite to him.

2. Max and Neve (You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me- Sarra Manning). I love this book. And I love the characters. Neve is nervous and self-flagellating, Max is a mess pretending to hold it all together, and somewhere through having sex and arguing, they manage to teach each other something. It’s fun, and funny and still deals with those awful issues you carry with you, and don’t really trust other people to handle.

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3. Kat and Patrick (Ten Things I Hate About You) They’re both smart arses with attitude, they both learn to be vulnerable, he fights for her, twice, loses the bad image, and really, who wouldn’t want to be serenaded with ‘I Love You Baby’?

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4. Zoe and Wade (Hart of Dixie) Yes, I know it’s over. I have to get over it. I know that. But they were so good! She’d gotten over the good boy boring lawyer, she’d chosen sex over fairytale love, and then somewhere along the line, sex turned into love. Except he screwed it up, because she was being too supportive and he felt like he wasn’t good enough….but until then! I particularly liked this because it dealt with the whole ‘we have nothing in common’ situation, except what they had in common was that they liked spending time together. Life lesson!

5. Walter and Hildy (His Girl Friday) Once again, a testament that choosing the boring nice guy who doesn’t really know who you are isn’t a good idea. Yes, they’re exhausting, but the back and forth is excellent. Hildy is a strong female character who wants the affection and life that comes with marriage, as well as being a kick ass reporter. Plus, Cary Grant. ‘Nuff said.

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6. Laurie and Curly (Oklahoma) My absolute faves. I watch Oklahoma when I’m sick or in need of a really good story. The romance follows the typical arc with them hating each other, then liking each other but not saying anything, then another guy likes her, Curly has to do some protecting. Plus, there’s singing and dancing and being all snarky to each other. And the Hugh Jackman version pretty much makes my heart aflutter.

7. Tabby and Harry (The Last Word) Okay, so they’re my characters, but I love them. She’s emotionally scarred, he’s better at hiding it, she tries to keep it casual, he’s open to more. Why are men always the commitment phobes? Sometimes we’re all just trying to protect ourselves. Plus, snarky and sarcastic and originally disliking each other as mentioned in Oklahoma.

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8. Sam and Jack (Stargate SG1) The majority of my pitiful teenage years were spent writing fanfiction to correct the travesty that was never getting these characters together. Spending years offering gentle prompts that these characters had feelings for each other, followed by some pretty solid life decisions in season 7…and yet. Nothing. No closure. Now I’m just bitter.

9. Darcy and Elizabeth (Pride and Prejudice) Yeah, okay, obvious. But these guys were the original opposites attract scenario, and the original ‘present the male character as bloody awful and then realise that he’s actually appealing’ which has been done in countless books and movies since. You trendsetter, Austen.

10.Aladdin and Jasmin (Aladdin) My favourite disney movie as a kid. Come on, romance is sitting on a magic carpet ride being sung to. Although the idea of that makes my skin crawl now, as a child, it was the perfect synergy- here’s two attractive people, they’re from different classes, they’re both independent and strong, he’s trying to impress her with stuff she doesn’t care about, she just wants someone to see who she is. They go on adventures and save everyone from the evil dude. Yeah, Love conquers. Woo

BONUS NUMBER

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Only because I forgot this one til now, and they’re my FAVOURITE. Especially in the continuation of snarky, refusing to give in to attraction, and making smart arse comments all the time, (and is kind of already included because of number 3):

Beatrice and Benedick (Much Ado About Nothing) I’m really including this because I love the Catherine Tate and David Tenant version so much. They’re perfect- they’re argumentative, strong, yet sure of their feelings, yet vulnerable, and also just hilarious. I like my characters with some energy, especially if it’s misdirected!

I’ve noticed from reading this through, I really love opposites. Love when characters clash and compliment each other all at once. Romance doesn’t mean sitting around staring into each others’ eyes and making daisy chains, it’s those moments of clashing and laughing and flirting and realising you have a connection with this other human, no matter how surprising or extraordinary. But, that’s just me. Why don’t you search #weloveromance to find some of the other Carina authors doing the same list today? And add your favourites in the comment box!

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Let’s talk about (safe) sex, baby.

This isn’t REALLY for #weloveromance but as far as I’m concerned, you can’t have one without the other!

Do romance writers have a responsibility to present safe sex?

 

This was the question I wondered as I read a really great romance recently. It had all the things I love, a snarky love interest, a crazy family, excellent characterisation and backstory. The sex scene had been delayed long enough, and was really hot and then… when asked by the male she was just about to sleep with for the first time if he should get a condom, the female replied ‘Don’t worry, I’m on the pill.’

 

Now, here’s the balance: do we present safe sex, knowing that young women learn about the ‘normality’ of relationships through books like these, OR do we stay true to what sex is actually like, and that sometimes that stuff happens?

 

Here’s what bothered me- I wouldn’t judge a woman I know, or just met, if she told me that story. I might have rolled my eyes and said that the pill doesn’t protect against STDs and it’s not really the same thing, especially when you’re sleeping with someone for the first time, but I wouldn’t have judged. But I judged the writer for presenting me with such a character. A cautious and thoughtful character, who never takes risks and is always in control…and yet, this. Especially after they’d just had a whole discussion about the fact that the male character has had multiple fuck buddies at the same time.

 

Fair enough, a lot of people don’t like writing condoms into sex scenes- they think it loses momentum, breaks down the romantic bit, or the ‘ravaging in process’ bit. Personally, I don’t think that’s true, and I make a point to include it, especially in the first few sex scenes. It doesn’t need to metaphorically flick you in the face every time you start a steamy scene, but it’s a part of sexual experience. We don’t tend to write about all the gross stuff that happens in sex either, because we’re writing the ideal most of the time. But the ideal includes being safe, doesn’t it?

 

If we were writing to be true to life, we’d include all the nitty gritty gross stuff, so I can understand ignoring it altogether, I have no problem with that. But bringing it up, only to dismiss it for something that doesn’t actually address the situation? That’s the kind of excuse brought up in erotic fiction on the internet, where rape fantasies and incest stories hide away. They bring it up to get it out of the way, so that women are expected to give that answer, and ta-da! There sits your male condom-free fantasy. Except….the majority of readers of ‘chick lit’ are female…so what is achieved here?

 

I haven’t got an answer for you, but I’m interested in what you think! Do writers have an obligation to present safe sex, or do we ignore it and accept that it’s just fantasy? Comment, I’m intrigued!

 

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Extract from New Novel!

 

As part of #weloveromance with other Carina UK writers, I’m presenting an extract of my soon-to-be published novel The Last Word.

This is my first romantic novel, but if you’re interested in my previous book, (which was called ‘anti chick lit’ by Man Brooker Prize Judge Sarah Churchwell) Wine Dark, Sea Blue, you can buy it as an ebook on Amazon, or hardcopy from the publisher.

Anyway, here’s the extract! Don’t forget to keep tweeting #weloveromance and checking out some of the excellent other writers who are showing off extracts today!

 

So boring. So very, very boring. Tabby tapped the side of her vodka tonic with her nail and wondered why she’d even come out. Sure, when Chandra got chatted up, it was usually fun, something to joke about. But Tabby found a strange lump in her throat, and she didn’t know if it was loneliness or jealousy, or just how maidenly she felt sitting on a stool, swinging her legs back and forth. This was not her place.

‘What do you think I do?’ Chandra asked. This was always the kicker, and Tabby found herself focusing on The Suit, more out of habit than anything else.

‘I…are you a model? Or a dancer? You’re beautiful.’

Chandra turned back to Tabby and rolled her eyes. ‘Original’ she mouthed.

It took a few minutes more for The Suit to realise he wasn’t going to get anywhere, suddenly confused as to why the pretty girl who’d let him do his spiel wasn’t really interested.

‘You know, if a guy once guessed what I do for a living correctly, I might have to marry him.’ Chandra grinned.

‘And what do you do?’ A very familiar voice asked from behind them.

Tabby screwed up her eyes and didn’t turn around. ‘Hi Harry.’

When she did turn around, of course, she wasn’t lucky enough to be hallucinating, he was actually there. His white shirt glowing in the bar lighting, a little bit more stubble than during the week, there was no doubt he was painfully good-looking. Even Chandra looked a little shocked. 

‘Of course, this is your scene.’ Tabby sighed, looking down. She noticed his expensive-shirt-and-jeans ensemble had changed slightly, the addition of what looked like pink Converse. For some reason, she felt a sudden rush of affection towards those trainers.

‘So…?’ Harry raised an eyebrow.

‘She’s an actuary,’ Tabby replied, unsure if that was where he was going. Harry surveyed Chandra for a moment before nodding.

‘I can see why no-one’s guessed correctly.’

He said it in such an easy, straightforward manner that it didn’t appear inappropriate. Chandra surveyed him, settling on a response that was half-hatred, half-approval. Please don’t  flirt, please don’t flirt.

‘And you are?’ Chandra asked, though she knew perfectly well.

‘Harry Shulman, Tabby’s editor.’ He put an arm around Tabby and squeezed briefly. The natural ‘old maid’ feeling that came from sitting on a minimalist perspex bar stool in a hip bar was not improved by this contact. Tabby held back a glare.

‘Oh, you mean the editor who’s been making Tabby’s life a misery and has managed to convince her she’s a talentless airhead who should stick to beauty columns and pointless rants, you mean?’ Chandra asked innocently, sipping her drink.

Harry’s eyes widened and he ran a hand through his hair in what looked like embarrassment.

‘I suppose you calculated the risk of a comment like that.’

‘What do you think?’ She arched an eyebrow.

Harry gave Tabby an exasperated look, as if to ask, ‘Is your friend for real?’, to which Tabby only replied with a raised eyebrow of her own. Harry huffed, and grabbed the edge of her seat to spin her around so she was facing him. He had that determined look. Whilst only really having four face-to-face experiences with Harry, she felt that she could suddenly categorise at least ten different looks. And any one of them could be deadly when focused directly on you. Harry’s attention was a spotlight, and whilst most people seemed to bloom and come alive under his gaze, all Tabby seemed able to do was freeze like a rabbit in headlights.

‘You didn’t reply to my email.’ He said simply.

‘I haven’t checked my computer since-’

‘Since you sent me that article at stupid o’clock on Friday?’ His mouth twitched. ‘You know it was brilliant, that’s why you’re putting me through this. You knew I’d love it, and so you’re getting back at me for criticising you. But you took exactly what I said! I knew we’d be an excellent team!’ 

Enthusiasm seemed to shine from him, and he suddenly looked so boyish and excited that Tabby wanted to hug him.

‘David loved it, the whole department loved it. It was being forwarded throughout the office! I’m so glad you listened to what I was saying. I know I was hard on you-’

Here Chandra snorted, and Tabby widened her eyes at her.

‘-but really, it was because I knew what you were capable of.’ Harry smiled, suddenly so affectionate that Tabby really couldn’t bear it. She also couldn’t bear to tell him she was terrible at taking criticism and her only creative motivation was pissing him off.

‘So I’m not fired then?’

‘Fired? Fired!’ He settled into a gentle grin and leaned in, ‘You are far too excellent to be fired. Plus, we have a twelve-week contract. I can’t fire you. Whether you write shit or gold, you’re here. With me.’ 

Tabby sat for a moment, considering Harry, his wide grin, his eagerness. He’d said she was excellent. She sat up a little straighter in her chair and tried not to smile like an idiot.

‘So, no problem with the ‘praise’ part of the job then, just the criticism.’ Of course, he noticed her slightest movements, the twitch of her lips as she considered that, yes, maybe she was a bit excellent. Just a bit. And he liked it, really liked it. And when she stopped thinking about these things and focused on just how close Harry was, invading her personal space once again, his hands resting either side of her, she realised she needed to be at her wittiest. But nothing happened.

‘Okay, so I’m not so great at the criticism. But it’s not like you stuck to being constructive, is it? Some of it was pretty mean!’

‘Oh shut up, you love it,’ Harry said, back to his jokey, cocky self, but he at least let go of her barstool, so she felt a little more in control. Tabby just folded her arms and tipped her head to the side, questioning him.

‘I thought that’s what we were doing, the whole banter-insulting thing?’ He said, slightly unsure, ‘I thought that’s what you got off on.’

‘Excuse me?’

He smirked briefly, ‘Work-wise, mind-in-the-gutter. I thought you needed someone to argue with to get your best work. You’ve been writing great articles so far, but no-one’s pushed you to be better. That’s my job.’

Tabby considered this, and of course, he had his bloody earnest look on again, so if she cut him down he’d look like a beaten puppy. Bastard.

‘Well, I do like arguing with you.’ She conceded.

‘I like arguing with you too,’ he said, ‘I am honestly sorry if I upset you. But I’m probably going to do it a few more times.’

‘Oh, I have no doubt.’

‘And you’re probably going to call me a stuck-up prick or a self-invested arsehole, or whatever it was that you called your editor in that article.’

Tabby smiled innocently, ‘I have no idea what you mean, Harry. I’m a professional. It was just an article.’

‘Yeah, yeah.’ He rolled his eyes, and leaned forward to kiss her on the cheek. Her chest tightened briefly, and then he was back in his space, far away from her, ‘Speaking of people who want to argue, I seem to have angered another violent woman.’

‘Your calling in life, it seems.’ Chandra smirked as Harry shrugged.

‘Wish me luck,’ he said, before walking over to a delicate doll of a girl- tall, thin, with long blond hair pulled messily into a plait. She was wearing a strapless silver bodycon dress that clung to her non-existent curves, and just looking at her skyscraper heels made Tabby feel dizzy. She looked down at her own shoes, purple felt, stack heels, with bunny rabbit buttons. Okay, well she wasn’t his type, clearly. Like that mattered anyway, she wasn’t going to do anything. Just because someone gives you a much deserved compliment, doesn’t mean you suddenly forget their an arrogant twat.

As much as Tabby wanted to hate the girl on the dance floor, for being able to wear those shoes and that dress, and pull of the chic-party-girl-look, she almost had to pity her. She was staring uncertainly into Harry’s eyes as he convinced her she was the most important person in the world. And he was damn good at it, Tabby had to admit, watching the girl go from sullen, to unsure, to begrudgingly amused. By the end of whatever speech he’d given her, she was looking at him like he was the answer to her prayers. Which, Tabby was pretty sure, he certainly was not.

‘So-’ Tabby turned to Chandra, who simply held up a finger.

‘You know the rule, Tabs.’ 

Chandra’s Thirty Second Rule: After an important encounter with a member of the opposite sex (or in Rhi’s case, a member of either sex she was actually interested in) you had to wait thirty seconds before discussing it. Chandra said this was to allow information to properly sink in, and discuss things with a clear head. Tabby only adhered because it meant the person they were discussing was usually across the room by that point, and wouldn’t accidentally overhear.

‘It wasn’t an encounter!’ Tabby whined, ‘He’s my boss!’

‘Mmf!’ Chandra held her hand up yet again, ‘twenty-seven, twenty-eight…’

Tabby huffed and crossed her arms, purposefully not looking at the dance floor, where she was sure Harry was using his other skills to convince the girl of how important she was.

‘Thirty!’ Chandra paused, ‘EEEEEEP! So cute! Why haven’t you boinked his brains out yet?’

‘Ew, Chands, don’t say boinked,’ Tabby felt her stomach twitch, and gestured towards the dance floor, ‘and because, clearly, she is.’

‘Yeah, for tonight. What about tomorrow?’

‘I cannot casually sleep with my editor!’

‘Because…?’

Because been there, done that and it almost ruined my life? Tabby grasped around for an answer that wasn’t pathetic and grounded in self-doubt.

‘Because it’s unprofessional, I’m there to write.’ 

‘So write after a night of head-banging sex with a guy who looks like he knows what to do. Jeez. I’ve never met anyone so resistant to an orgasm.’

‘Mean!’ Tabby looked around at the surrounding tables, incase anyone had heard. Conversations with Chandra concerning sex always seemed to be louder than any other conversation she took part in.

‘Well, when was the last time you had sex?’ Chandra asked simply, eating the cherry from her cocktail.

‘You know when. You made me discuss it in painful detail the morning after.’

Chandra’s eyebrows disappeared under her fringe. ‘The clammy hands guy? That was ages ago!’

‘Well, it put me off for life, okay?’ Tabby knew she was getting defensive, but all this talk was making her crabby. Even if she liked him, which she didn’t, she wouldn’t do anything about it. ‘Look, I’m not sleeping with him, okay? I’m not doing anything with him except writing a bunch of articles. And even that is under duress. I’m just not interested in him.’

Chandra’s eyes moved past her to the dance floor, and of course, she couldn’t help but look. Harry had his arms around the doll-like girl, but looked across at Tabby, stuck his tongue out and winked.

‘Fifty quid says you don’t last a month,’ Chandra grinned.

‘Bad odds,’ Tabby sighed, breaking eye contact, and finishing the rest of her drink in one gulp.

 

Don’t forget to enter the competition to win ALL of the participating Carina Authors! Click Here

 

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Competition Time!

Hey Readers, if you didn’t know, I’m now an author with Carina UK, and as such, I’m getting together with other romantic fiction writers at Carina, to be part of #We<3romance –  a MASSIVE GIFT GIVEAWAY!

 

-How does it work? Enter HERE for the chance to win copies of ALL of our books- that’s 39 ebooks!

And check out Molly Ann Wishlade’s Blog for lots more information. The next few days we’ll be posting excerpts from our books, interviews with characters, top tens, and much more!

Plus we’re each doing individual giveaways- Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and comment The Last Word in comment boxes to register! The mystery literary prizes will be revealed soon!

The winner is revealed on Valentines Day! Search twitter for #weloveromance to keep in the loop with some awesome writers and stories.

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