The House on the Shore Audio book released.

I am a little bit late announcing this, however, I am delighted to say that my novel, The House on the Shore has now been released as an audio book.  Narrated by the wonderful and very talented Ruth Urquhart, it is  available from Audible, Amazon and iTunes.

 

The House on the Shore audio book cover
The House on the Shore audio book cover

 

Terror haunts a Scottish glen:

Heartbroken Anna MacDonald leaves Edinburgh to find peace at the edge of a Scottish loch. Safely ensconced in her late grandmother’s cottage, she can finally heal her heart and write the novel that has burned inside her for years.

Her peace is short-lived. When debonair artist Luke Tallantyre’s yacht gets stranded in the loch, he seeks help at the nearest residence – Anna’s croft. She finds him annoying. He instantly dislikes the stunning but cranky hermit.

But there’s indisputable evidence that a hit man is on the prowl in the village. Is he after Anna? And what is Luke keeping from her that could deepen the danger? Against their wills, they join forces and embark on an adventure neither ever imagined…including a chance at true love.

Ring of Lies audiobook receives a 5star review

The audiobook version of Ring of Lies has received it’s first review on  Audible.co.uk and I am delighted to say it’s been given 5 Stars!
Aaron P. Lazar  wrote on 10/02/2014
Overall:  5 stars
Performance: 5 stars
Story: 5 Stars

“I Didn’t Want to Stop Listening – Great Suspense!”

If you could sum up Ring of Lies in three words, what would they be?

Intriguing, page-turner, well-written

What other book might you compare Ring of Lies to, and why?

I would say this genre is simliar to Mary Higgens Clark’s books – and just as well done! The writing flowed seamlessly, the dialog felt completely natural, the suspense never let up, and the action scenes were riveting. I loved listening to this book!

What does Michelle Ford bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

I fell in love with Michelle Ford’s female English accent. It was gorgeous, and reminded me of a grown up Haley Mills based on my childhood memories of PollyAnna. (Not that this book is anything like PollyAnna!) Her voice is lyrical, warm, and simply beautiful. Ms. Ford’s American male accent was a bit “nasal” sounding for all of the American men in the story, and once in a great while she slipped from one accent to the other in the wrong places, but it was rare and didn’t bother me. I could NEVER do what this amazing narrator did, which is hold up a conversation with a Brit and an American all the way through the book. I imagine it might be very difficult to do, and I bow down to her immense talent.

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

An innocent woman discovers shocking secrets about her husband after his death, aided by an FBI agent she can’t resist, and who has his own share of troubles to hide.

Any additional comments?

I really loved the main character, Grace. She was well-rounded and quite believable. Jack…well, I’m a guy. At first he ticked me off because of his situation at home. I believe in family first and no fooling around! But then more came out about Jack’s true situation (no spoilers here!) and in the end I empathized with him and was cheering him on.

I particularly loved the action scenes – there is a swamp scene where Grace and Jack are on the run from villains, dashing through the cold swamp waters…phenomenal! Also thoroughly enjoyed the description of the house in Florida. Wouldn’t mind going there right about now!

 

 

Winter Newsletter….

First of all, a big, big thank you to everyone who’s purchased or downloaded one of my books, and who left lovely comments and reviews.  It really does make a HUGE difference.  Its also been nice to meet some of my readers at events. You’re a lovely bunch, and always so welcoming.

Those of you who follow this page will know that I met fellow members of the Romantic Novelists’ Association at the annual conference held at The Edge, part of the University  Sheffield. It is always interesting to meet fellow authors and chat about our current work-in-progress and industry news.

Contest!

I’m thrilled to announce the Audiobook version of Ring of Lies is complete and will be available from Amazon and Audible in time for Christmas. Produced by Dave Giorgio and narrated by Michelle Ford, it sounds fantastic.  I’ll be interviewing Michelle and Dave on my blog shortly.
To celebrate the release, I’m offering one lucky subscriber the chance to win a Kobo Mini ereader (worth £59.00)! All you need do to be in with a chance to win, is sign up to my newsletter via mywebsite or blog via the link above.  Two runners up will receive an autographed copy of Ring of Lies.

The winner will be drawn on the 20th December.

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I’m also working on another novel! The title is a secret, so I don’t wish to give too many details away at this stage, but I can tell you it is set in Scotland.

On Sunday 23rd November, I dusted  off my high(er) heels, put on my glad-rags, and headed for the new Leeds Arena for the Andrea Bocelli concert.   What can I say, other than his live performance is 1000 times better than listening to one of his CDs.  I have to give my lovely other half a huge pat on the back for this Valentine’s Day treat which he purchased for me back in January!  Sadly, no photography was allowed during the performance, but I did manage to take a a picture of the pre-performance screen.

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And Finally,
Are you stuck for that last minute Christmas gift idea?  Why not give someone an autographed copy of one of my books as a present? I’ll even gift wrap it for you.  £10 including postage/packaging and festive wrapping.  Email me for details.
The House on the Shore
Three Weeks Last Spring

If you purchased any of the above as an ebook, it’s still possible to have your copy autographed.  Please visit Authorgraph.com

Thanks for stopping by.

Until next time,

Victoria

 

It only looks like procrastination – I promise!

October 2013

You haven’t heard from me lately, and it’s for some very good reasons. No, the dog (Rosie) did NOT eat my homework. I’ve been extremely busy promoting my novels, and – yes, it’s true! – negotiating a contract for an audiobook version of Ring of Lies! I’m delighted to announce that it will be available before the year is out.  I’m also releasing a special boxed set of Ring of Lies and The House on the Shore later this month, just in time for holiday gift-giving.  Both items will delight the dedicated romantic suspense reader!

At the end of September, I travelled to Scotland for a writer’s meeting in romantic Gretna Green.  It was wonderful to meet some of my fellow authors and members of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.  Unfortunately, for the present, I’m not at liberty to divulge what was discussed during this fascinating afternoon.  Suffice to say, if things pan out, next year could be extremely exciting for readers and authors of romantic fiction! Unfortunately, I couldn’t stay for the tour of the World-famous Blacksmiths shop, as I had to return to Barnsley for another meeting later that evening.

Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of reading the pre-release copy of The Seacrest by best selling author, Aaron Paul Lazar.  If you’ve never read any of Aaron’s books then you are in for a treat.  The Seacrest is a wonderful bittersweet love story that will have you reaching for the box of tissues by the end of chapter three!  I could not put the book down, so please visit Aaron’s website for the opportunity to read the first chapter.

On Thursday 10th October, I’m hoping (fingers crossed) to inspire the students of Thomas Rotherham College, as part of their Literacy Week Events.   I’ll be speaking about ‘how to take your idea from brainstorm to book,’ so I’m hard at work refining my PowerPoint presentation.

So stay tuned, my dears. I’ll make sure you know when everything is available.

 

 

Ring of Lies now available in Print

Now available from Amazon.

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Set in the steamy heat of the Florida Gulf Coast, Ring of Lies is the story of one woman’s struggle to find the truth surrounding her marriage and her husband’s true identity.

When English accountant Daniel Elliott dies in a car accident one rainy night, his widow, Grace, is overcome with grief…and panic.  Daniel was controlling and their marriage loveless, but he always took care of the sheltered Grace.

Or so she thought.

She soon discovers Daniel kept secrets:  an alias, mob ties, a list of numbers, a mysterious beach house in Florida….and a girlfriend who looks like Grace.

Swallowing her fear, she flies to Miami to claim the house Daniel left her.  But the price of her curiosity is peril.  Underworld figures stalk her.  The other woman has left a damning trail of evidence pointing her way.  And handsome, troubled FBI agent Jack West has crossed precarious paths with Grace before.  He could be her savior or her damnation.  All she knows for certain is that she longs to be in his arms.

With little to go on and danger at every turn, Grace must depend on Jack to help her navigate the criminal world of south Florida, and find the truth behind the Ring of Lies.

 

“Victoria Howard pens a suspenseful tale full of intrigue.”

– The Romance Studio

“Filled with danger, corruption, and a myriad of pitfalls for our hero and heroine to navigate through, and it is really a thrill ride to the very end.”

Romance at Heart Magazine.

“A story about a heroine full of guts and a hero with a need for understanding.”

Wewriteromance.com

 

 

Romance puts the spark in love by Special Guest, Author Christi Barth

Everlasting true love is great and all, but the mere existence of it isn’t enough. You need a regular dose of romance to give you that gooey, melted feeling on the inside. And that feeling is what reminds you just how crazy in love you are. Readers who may not be able to work romance into their own busy schedules depend on getting it from romance novels. That’s right – we aren’t just writing boy meets girl love stories. There’s got to be heart-stopping, knee-weakening romance.
The thing to remember is that, although lovely, romance isn’t limited to champagne and roses (although far be it for me to ever turn them down!). One dictionary defines romance as “to try to influence or curry favor with especially by lavishing personal attention, gifts or flattery”. It can be easy to throw down a credit card and go the gift route (see the aforementioned champagne and roses). But as romance authors, we need to dig deeper. Our hero/heroine should ooze romance from their pores, and that means hitting all three areas, not just the old standby of gifts.
Let’s turn to flattery. This can be tricky, because flattery can often lean towards cheesy. Here is a quote from my first book, Carolina Heat:
Mark covered her hand with his. “I don’t believe I’ve taken the opportunity to tell you how beautiful you look tonight. Your hair is like a molten sunset spreading across your shoulders.”
Annabelle’s vision blanked, then hazed over with indignation. “I’m going to come right out and tell you there is absolutely no chance I’ll sleep with you tonight.”

Sure, she overreacted a tad, but his line – so obviously a line – verged on the ridiculously smarmy (I promise I did that on purpose). And timing is everything. They were on their first date, which was far too early to say something so over the top romantic. Sadly, this kind of hyperbole isn’t limited to the overactive imagination of romance writers. Years ago my best friend went to a concert in the park and hit it off with the man next to her. They went to a late dinner, and he proclaimed on the way to the car, “This is the night dreams are made of!” True story – I promise. Needless to say, she decided he was a nutcase and promptly got rid of him.
In my recent release Cruising Toward Love, a photographer suffering from PTSD feels broken. Sincere flattery from a beautiful woman starts to put him back together.
“You’ve really jumped right back on the horse, haven’t you? Don’t blush or anything, but you’re one of the bravest people I know.”
Yeah, and the moon was made of green cheese. Because what she’d said was equally ridiculous. “A brave man would head back to Iraq. Hook up with another platoon and cover the soldiers who aren’t given a choice about returning. About facing danger head-on every single day.”
She shook her head hard enough to spill silky hair across her cheeks like a veil of liquid gold. “Reed, you don’t have to single-handedly take on a pack of fire-breathing dragons to be a hero. Life and death situations aren’t the only ones that require courage. Facing every day head-on takes a lot. It boggles my mind to imagine how hard it must’ve been just to get out of bed each morning and face your fears. As if that wasn’t enough of a challenge, you discovered the only way to pursue your dream is to abandon part of it. And yet you adapted, forced yourself to find a way to still find joy in expressing yourself through your art.” Callie’s voice caught halfway to a sob, held back by her radiant smile. “Makes you every bit the hero in my book.”
For months he’d seen himself as damaged, useless. The doctors tried to tell him depression was an expected symptom, but he didn’t feel depressed. He felt like a windshield the moment after it’s hit by a rock—covered with a web of hairline cracks, on the verge of splintering apart. Waiting for the next tiny thing that might shatter him irreparably. In the space of a few heartbeats, Callie’s words glued him back together from the inside out.

Now that’s sincere flattery! As for gifts, they don’t always have to be tangible. Think beyond bracelets or candles. As an author, you can inspire your readers to dig deep and give thoughtful, romantic gifts. The main characters in Cruising Toward Love used to be high school sweethearts, but he left her on prom night. Ten years later in the middle of the ocean, Nate attempts to recreate that lost experience for Zoe.
Nate smiled, held her eyes until they softened into pools of liquid chocolate. “I can be chock full of charm—for the right reason. Giving you the magical night you deserve is a pretty big motivator.” Taking her hand, he drew her across the room to the marble topped bar. With swift, sure motions he uncorked a bottle of pale pink champagne and served them. “Do you remember the theme of our prom?”
It didn’t even take her a second to come up with the answer. “A Night to Remember.”
He guided her onto a stool and handed over a crystal flute. “Yes. And it was going to be. I bought you a corsage of peach roses.”
Her eyes widened. Recognition flashed across her face. “This room is full of peach roses.

Lavishing personal attention is easy in a romance. The characters want to be together, and we want to see that happen. But make the reason they are together more meaningful. In Act Like We’re In Love, perennially uptight Wes is encouraged by live-for-the-moment Ingrid to relax.
But tonight, as he thought about losing the only job he’d ever had, it was different. As though sharing his troubles with Ingrid had helped build a guardrail. Although still way too close to the edge for comfort, at least now something stood between him and the darkness.
Ingrid link hands with him and gave a mighty yank, which almost landed them flat on the grass. “Come on. Nothing looks quite so bad with a hamburger from Joe’s Garage in you.”
“That’s it? Dr. Dahlberg is out of session?”
“Cutie, I’m not really a shrink, not with these legs. It’d be a waste of God’s gifts. You got a few things off your chest, and now we move on to the fun portion of the evening. Consider it my prescription. Take one hamburger, a plate of fries, strawberry shortcake for dessert, followed by a full dose of my legendary smooches.”

Romance makes love fun. Romance keeps love fresh. It’s the fizz that elevates white wine to champagne, and turns a hum-drum love story into a sweeping epic. So don’t just write a romance novel – infuse your love story with romance!
For more information on all my books, please visit www.christibarth.com or http://christibarth.blogspot.com

Ring of Lies

Need something to help while away the dark winter nights. Here’s a short excerpt from my latest novel, Ring of Lies.

It was dark when Grace left the solicitor’s office. Numbness had finally set in. She moved without thinking, without emotion as if she were one of the stick figures at a theme park—flagging down a taxi and giving the driver her address.
Flicking on the hall light in her home, the home she and Daniel had shared and loved, the pain returned in a torrent. She dropped her purse on the table, and went straight to the study. Daniel’s study, the one room in the house she never entered, not even to dust.
Grace rested her hand on the door knob, and half expected to hear his deep-timbered voice reminding her not to enter. She’d ignored his warning only once, the ensuing argument had left her reeling. Ever since then she’d respected his wishes. All of them.
But Daniel was no longer here to wish for anything.
She pushed open the door and stepped inside. The air smelt stale. She told herself that the lingering aroma of pipe tobacco was permanently embedded in the furniture, but her feelings told her otherwise—that he was here, alive somehow, yet invisible to her. She fumbled with the catch on the window and threw it open, impervious to the frigid air that flooded the room. An old leather chair, which had once belonged to Daniel’s father, stood next to the soot-stained limestone fireplace where ashes of a half-burned log lay in the grate. A large oak desk, its surface covered with a faint film of dust, filled the bay window. The date on the desk calendar showed the seventeenth of November, the day Daniel had left for the conference. She tore off the pages without bothering to read the proverb printed underneath, and threw them into the wastepaper basket.
Daniel’s face, and that of her own, smiled back at her from a small silver framed photograph on the corner of the desk. She picked it up and wiped the dust from the surface with her fingertips.
“What other secrets have you kept from me?”
Daniel’s brown, unfathomable eyes seemed to stare everywhere but at her. With a heavy heart she replaced the photograph on the desk. She collapsed into the chair and rested her aching head in her hands. Their marriage hadn’t been perfect; they’d had their fair share of ups and downs like every other couple, but she’d never thought of Daniel as being secretive. Yet the last few hours had proved that he was just that.
She leaned back and rubbed her temples. Nothing the solicitor had told her made any sense. They weren’t rich. Their joint checking account, which last time she’d looked, held less than two thousand pounds. When they’d purchased Applegate Cottage four years ago, they’d put down the minimum ten percent deposit and borrowed the rest from the bank. So where had the money come from to purchase a house in America? And more importantly, why hadn’t Daniel told her about it?
The desk held seven drawers; three in each pedestal and one in the centre. Her fingers hovered over the small brass handle of the centre drawer. Feeling like an intruder, she pulled it open. It was empty. One by one she opened the remaining drawers. Apart from an assortment of envelopes, a few credit card receipts, a letter opener shaped like a dagger, and some spare batteries for the hand-held dictating machine Daniel occasionally used, she found nothing connected to the beach house.
Daniel’s briefcase, which the police had found in his car, and the personal items from his office, sat in a box next to the door. She slipped out of the chair, picked it up, and placed it on the desk. Item by item she removed the contents: a desk diary, a box of post-it-notes, a calculator, and a framed photograph of her and Catherine. The desk diary she put to one side, replaced everything else, and then put the box on the floor.
She’d given Daniel the Raffaello briefcase for his thirtieth birthday. It had cost two weeks housekeeping money, but it had been worth it to see the smile on his face when he opened the box. She ran her fingers over the now scuffed and torn calfskin.
Grace pressed the locks to open the case, but nothing happened. She dug the fingertips of her right hand into the frame and tugged at the handle. The catch on one side gave, and she realized that the force of the impact had warped the frame. With great care she eased the blade of the letter opener into the lock on the opposite side and twisted sharply. There was a loud click and the case popped open. Inside lay Daniel’s MacBook and a number of manila folders. One by one, she went through the internal compartments, but found nothing else of interest.
Part of the silk lining had come away from the frame. When Grace ran her fingers along the edge she felt something underneath. She pulled back the fabric and found an envelope taped to the bottom of the case. She tore it free and turned it over in her hand.
Why go to so much trouble to hide something as innocuous as an envelope? She slipped her fingernail under the flap and opened it. A passport and a tiny piece of paper fluttered on to the blotter. A series of numbers, written in Daniel’s unmistakeable scrawl, covered the surface. Perplexed, she counted the digits. Twenty-four. Daniel was fascinated by numbers and frequently designed puzzles as a way of relaxing. Were these something he was working on, or the combination to the safe at the office?
The latter seemed the most likely explanation, yet Daniel had an eidetic memory. There was never a need for him to write anything down.
Grace opened the passport at the photograph on the back page. Daniel’s face stared up at her. Only the name in the passport wasn’t his, but that of Lionel Lattide.
A flicker of apprehension coursed through her. She tried to catch her breath, but couldn’t get air. The more she struggled to control her breathing, the more terrified she became. Beads of perspiration dotted her forehead. She willed herself to relax, just as the doctor had told her to, but it was impossible.
She staggered into the kitchen. Her medication lay on the shelf next to the fridge. Standing on tiptoe, she reached for the bottle, but her hands shook so much it slipped from her grasp, the contents spilling out along the shelf and onto the floor.
She could get through this, she told herself. It was only a panic attack—she wasn’t about to die. It wasn’t real. Crying with frustration, her fingers trailed along the floor until she finally pinched a wayward pill between her thumb and forefinger. She popped it in her mouth, and washed it down with a glass of water from the tap.
Leaning against the sink for support, she forced herself to breathe deeply—in, out, in, out. The pill started to do its work, and the room began to steady itself. As her heartbeat slowly returned to normal, she tried to ignore the questioning voice in her mind, but couldn’t. She pressed her hands over her eyes in an attempt to blot out her fears.
What have you been up to, Daniel, that you needed a second passport?
She took another sip of water. The passport lay on the drainer next to her hand. With trembling fingers, she opened it and turned to the visa section.
It was stamped.
She froze. Her mind and body benumbed.
She peered at the faint impression and could just make out the words ‘Department of Homeland Security’. America! She turned to another page, and found that too, had been stamped. During the last six months alone, Daniel or whoever he was, had travelled to the United States on five occasions.
Why?
She wrenched the calendar off the wall, and compared it to the passport. Every entry visa coincided with a date when Daniel had been away on business.
Waves of panic and nausea overwhelmed her, and she sank to her knees and sobbed. The man to whom she had trusted her heart had lied to her. Not once, not twice, but least four times.
Pain yielded to anger.
Who was her husband?
It seemed that the only way to find out was to fly to Miami and meet with the attorney, Zachary Parous. It sounded so easy when she said it quickly. But the thought of such a journey aroused old fears and anxieties. She wasn’t a traveller—and certainly not alone. What if she had a panic attack mid-Atlantic? Who would help her? And then there was the small problem of getting from Miami to some place called Gasparilla Island and locating the mysterious beach house. How hard would it be to find? Would she be safe?
She’d heard such things about Florida, stories of gangs, drug lords, and even worse. She snatched up the phone before she could change her mind and booked a seat on the nine-thirty flight to Miami the following morning.
Then there was only one call left to make.

Ring of Lies

My latest novel, Ring of Lies, will be released in December in both print and ebook formats.

When English accountant Daniel Elliott dies in a car accident one rainy night, his widow, Grace, is overcome with grief…and panic. Daniel was controlling and their marriage loveless, but he always took care of the sheltered Grace.

Or so she thought.

She soon discovers Daniel kept secrets: an alias, mob ties, a list of numbers, a mysterious beach house in Florida….and a girlfriend who looks like Grace.

Swallowing her fear, she flies to Miami to claim the house Daniel left her. But the price of her curiosity is peril. Underworld figures stalk her. The other woman has left a damning trail of evidence pointing her way. And handsome, troubled FBI agent Jack West has crossed precarious paths with Grace before. He could be her savior or her damnation. All she knows for certain is that she longs to be in his arms.

With little to go on and danger at every turn, Grace must depend on Jack to help her navigate the criminal world of south Florida, and find the truth behind the Ring of Lies.

Seasonal Offers from Vanilla Heart Publishing

From now until the 16th November 2010 Vanilla Heart are offering 50 of their great titles, including their latest release, Passionate Hearts, at just $4.99 each.

So if you enjoy reading why not download one now and start reading today?

Passionate Hearts Anthology

Vanilla Heart Publishing announces the release of its forthcoming romance anthology, Passionate Hearts. My short story, Her Protector, has been chosen for inclusion in this wonderful book. For more details or to purchase a copy, please click on the link below.

http://www.vanillaheartbooksandauthors.com/Home_Page.html