Saturday Puzzle – Tuncurry

Some fun to start your weekend on the right note. A Saturday Puzzle of Tuncurry in the afternoon. The last place I went camping.

Hope you enjoy.

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Where was the last place you took a break to? Were you there for long?


Good news today. I’ve finished a new short story. When I say finished I mean its gone off to my editor and is yet to be revised.
I love to break up my writing routine and write something unconnected to anything else I’ve done. A lot of the time they will end up part of a series, or the start of a new series but most don’t begin that way.
Of course now that short story is complete, I’ve got another on my mind. This one is for a multi-author collaboration. My installment would publish late next year. More on that down the track.
Oh and in other good news, if you’re an author or a reader who likes to make graphics, there is a new deal from App Sumo for a Deposit Photos. Get it before its gone.


Thursday Throwback The Lady Tamed

thursday throwback the lady tamed book coversThursday Throwback ~ The Lady Tamed

A lady possessed of a fortune. A poor actor with a shady past. It’s the role of a lifetime…but their contract said nothing about falling in love.

Fortune hunters and fools. Those are the gentlemen Fanny Rivers has endured since her husband’s passing. Men who believe women too feeble-brained to manage a fortune, much less help it grow. So for her sister’s upcoming wedding festivities, she’s combined her business acumen with her habit of collecting strays—hiring an actor to play her besotted beau. And it’s working marvelously. Too marvelously. Before long, her attraction to Jeremy makes it difficult to discern fact from fiction, and Fanny herself is in danger of falling for her own scheme.

Jeremy Dawes can scarcely believe his luck when Fanny Rivers agrees to be his patroness. Despite learning he’s the latest in a long line of charity cases, he willingly takes on the most complicated role of his fledgling career—that of a proper gentleman. She’ll never need know of his unsavory beginnings, though the closer they become, the more Jeremy wishes he could be what she deserves. It’s only after a thrilling moment of intimacy—and a regrettable decision by Fanny—that Jeremy finds unexpected allies in the negotiation for his savvy lady’s heart.

Read an Excerpt…

Jeremy looked around, up at the high walls decorated with plaster moldings of birds and what he assumed were family portraits. A wide staircase rose to the next level, where he’d been told all guests would sleep. Jeremy’s last bed had been on the floor in a corner of the stage.

“You must be Mr. Dawes.”

Jeremy smiled pleasantly and turned around to find a tall man emerging from a nearby room. He was big, bigger than Jeremy by half a head at least, older by at least a dozen years or so, and might just be the butler. “Indeed I am.”

“May I be of assistance?” the fellow asked in a bored voice.

“Yes, well, if you could tell me where I am to go?”

“The servants have taken your trunk up already. I can show you the way.”

Relief filled him. “I would appreciate that very much. Thank you.”

The man inclined his head and started up the stairs. “This way.”

Jeremy followed, encountering no other souls on the way to a large light-filled room with a massive bed placed in the center. He stared at it in shock. At least four of his fellow actors could have shared that bed and been very comfortable still. He could hardly believe the bed, the chamber, would be his for two whole weeks. But his trunk was being unpacked, and his new possessions were already being put away.

The fellow turned to him, one brow lifting. “Was there really just the one trunk?”

“Yes, of course. How many did you expect?”

“Several, I imagined.” The fellow prowled about the room, observing the servants at their work and nodding. He turned to Jeremy suddenly. “I’m surprised you’ve acquired so little, given the length of your association with Lady Rivers. She is usually much more giving to someone like you.”

Jeremy straightened to his full height, offended by the remark. “I have everything I need.”

The man stroked his long fingers over the trunk’s lettering. J. K. D. “What does the K stand for?”

“It is none of your business what my full name is.”

“What if I think it is?”

Jeremy was taken aback by the man’s tone. “Look, you had better mind your own business and get on with it. Lady Rivers would not be pleased to learn I’d faced an inquisition from you.”

The fellow smiled slowly. “Will you tattle on me?”

Jeremy looked the man up and down. “No, but…”

“Lady Rivers is easily taken advantage of,” the fellow announced.

“You could say that of everyone.”

“And yet you have your hand out to her.” The fellow drew close. “Just another attention-seeking fop intent on spending a fortune on fine hats from Lock’s and frequenting the very best tailor her money can buy. Weston, I believe you’re wearing.”

Jeremy brought his face within inches of the fellow’s, his hands curling into fists. “Hold your tongue unless you want trouble from me.”

“Oh, do you see yourself as a buck then? Do you attend Gentleman Jackson’s, too?”

The fellow didn’t even look alarmed that he was still being glared at, but the other servants had all paused to watch the confrontation. They seemed alarmed.

Jeremy quickly got his temper under control. “No. I’m only an actor, and Lady Rivers my patroness. She is a great lady and spoken of with respect. Especially by those who’ve known her longer than I probably ever will.”

“Got you under her thumb already, has she?” The fellow suddenly grinned. “She’s a persistent minx, my daughter. I’ve yet to meet a man who can say no to her when she gets an idea in her head.”

Jeremy blinked several times. “What did you say? Daughter?”

The other servants snickered but the duke shushed them. “Enough of that now. Back to work, all of you.”

“Oh, my God. I thought you were…” Jeremy bowed deeply, his face flaming as the realization dawned that he was actually standing before the Duke of Stapleton, Lady Rivers’ esteemed father. “Forgive me for not recognizing you, your grace.”

You can buy The Lady Tamed directly from me or from other retailers. Visit the book page for more links.


Meet Winston

Meet Winston…the temporary valet

Meet Winston from Desperately Seeking SeductionWinston had never known any male traveler to carry so many trunks before, and could not wait to unpack the contents to find out what they contained. Fine clothing was Winston’s weakness, and Lord Stratford dressed very well indeed.

Unpacking would have to wait until the butler had gone, though. The older man had first watched from the far doorway until beckoned inside. Winston knew better than to put off the inevitable questions about replacing Cuthbert so abruptly. Butlers were the most important men in any household, and this one had been asking questions for five minutes already.

“I came here as a boy and never left,” the older man murmured, leaning against the bedpost momentarily.

Winston was not surprised by the butler’s admission. Some servants were as immovable as the vast homes they served. They often had limited patience for outsiders, too. Cuthbert had said he’d come from London, and so far, he didn’t seem unduly missed by any servant here.

“Never, sir?” Winston approached the only trunk opened during the journey and took out a nightshirt and laid it across the high pillows already on the bed, along with Stratford’s silk robe. Not that there was much hope the man might choose to wear either garment. He hadn’t so far after Winston’s three days in his service. But Lord Stratford carried them, and the option was there for him to don either garment should he ever choose to be modest.

“No. I never wanted more for my life than this,” he said. “My family is here, in the village two miles away. I see them once or twice a year,” he admitted.

“The first butler I ever worked with was much the same,” Winston promised, closing one trunk and opening the next, nearly crowing at the excitement of seeing a fine dark navy-blue cloth—perhaps a frock coat—on top. “He was devoted to his post and the family he had worked for all his life, much like you.”

The butler approached. “Why did you leave that post?”

“I wasn’t wanted,” Winston said with a shrug and picked up the coat, frowning. It would need pressing before it could be worn. Lord Stratford could not wear wrinkled garments. Cuthbert should have packed this trunk far better than he had. “And I wanted to see something of the world, sir.”

The old butler scoffed at the idea. “And was it all you expected?”

“Yes, and no.”

“That is the case with everything. When you are older, you’ll understand the world can be wherever you find yourself, and you should be grateful to belong anywhere,” the butler said condescendingly.

Winston didn’t want to belong. Never had. Never would. Although, Winston would give anything to belong to a coat like this one. When the butler was gone, Winston would properly unpack and admire everything normally beyond the reach of a mere servant.

Winston glanced at the easel propped up against the bed, then cast an eye about the room, looking for the best place to move it to. Lord Stratford claimed to be something of an artist, but he had given no directions for the easel’s positioning.

Mr. Seymour approached. “Move that chair, set the easel at an angle facing the bed. Lord Stratford paints in the mornings. The light is best then, he says.”

“Thank you, sir,” Winston murmured before grasping a large, heavy armchair single-handedly and maneuvering it out of the way. “My predecessor gave no instructions for that stack of paintings, either.”

The butler started to flick through them. There were more than a dozen to go through. Some complete, others painted over in one color as if he had been unhappy with the work and wanted to hide it. “Lord Stratford keeps them anywhere about the room he likes until he’s no wish to see them anymore. Then they are stored in the attics, with all the others he’s painted over the years.”

“Are there many?”

“Dozens, I should imagine. Only a few were deemed good enough to have been hung about the palace. The late duke…” The older man did not finish his statement, but he didn’t really have to. Winston could well imagine a powerful duke would have no time for what might be considered a younger son’s frivolous pastime. He wondered briefly how Lord Stratford stood in the current duke’s eyes. He was a younger brother and might be considered a burden on the estate, as many were.

Winston grappled with one large unfinished work, carefully set it on the easel, and then stood back. “This is, I believe, his latest work.”

The butler came around the easel to view it. “Unfinished.”


Lord Stratford had spent most of the evenings of the journey staring at it, but had not painted even a single brushstroke on the canvas. It was of a voluptuous woman reclining on pillows in a flowing red gown, surrounded by candles. She was very beautiful. Why else paint her, of course? Perhaps she was his sweetheart or lover or even his own wife. Lord Stratford had never said he was married, and Winston had not thought to ask. But it was easy to see what the painting might become if the young lord spent more time finishing the canvas, and less trying to provoke a rise out of his temporary valet. He had talked constantly about his home, and pestered Winston with questions, too.

And once they’d arrived, he had immediately run off to meet his brothers without so much as a backward glance. Winston couldn’t ever imagine feeling that same way about going home.

Desperately Seeking Seduction will be available Tuesday 18 April. Click here for more information

Meet Lord Stratford Sweet

Meet Lord Stratford Sweet…
Meet Lord Stratford Sweet from Desperately Seeking Seduction ebook cover image


Lord Stratford Sweet smirked. “It’s big, isn’t it?”

His companion turned obediently to look. “I’ve seen bigger.”

“I’d like to know where,” Stratford muttered, and then sat back with a grunt.

“It is impressive,” Mr. Dane Winston offered with an indifferent shrug.

Stratford pursed his lips in annoyance at the faint praise for so grand a view. “Ravensworth Palace is one of the largest homes in all of England. You could get lost in there on the first day.”

“I’ll do my best not to,” Winston murmured, a faint twist of condescension hovering on the fellow’s lips. “But if I do, I will ask for directions, or perhaps a map.”

Stratford had been forced to hire a replacement for his usual valet, Cuthbert, who’d been injured at the first inn they’d stopped at on his journey home. Cuthbert couldn’t have carried out his duties with a broken wing and banged up head from his tumble down the staircase, and Stratford couldn’t function without a valet to clean up after him. That way led to chaos and tardiness his brother the duke would tease him about. Although this fellow was young, Dane Winston had been eager to escape the inn where he’d been slaving away underpaid, for a better position and wages. Even if it was only to be a temporary position.

Winston was hard to figure out and harder to impress.

Stratford had taken him on despite only having the innkeepers word he was a sensible and dedicated worker and would give him no trouble. But as a traveling companion, he left a lot to be desired.

Winston’s indifference to the things that mattered had begun to irk the longer they were trapped inside the slow-moving carriage. Stratford talked a lot, but Winston seemed to prefer their journey be conducted in near silence. It had already been an hour since their last real conversation. Stratford was about ready to toss Winston out to ride on the back of the carriage with the grooms. However, given the man’s small stature, there was an obvious risk he’d lose the valet at any rough spot along the road.

He regarded Winston with a critical eye, yet again wondering if he’d made a mistake plucking him out for the plum role. Stratford was the younger brother of the new Duke of Ravenswood, after all. But given that Winston had performed all the duties expected of a valet exceptionally well—save for conversation—he had little choice but to keep him until Cuthbert recovered and appeared at Ravenswood Palace. If only Winston had a more outgoing personality, Stratford would be entirely satisfied with his new employee.

He sighed and set his preoccupation for getting a rise out of his new employee aside until later. Coming home would be interesting. It was the first time he’d ever looked forward to it, that he could ever remember. The long-suffering servants should be happy about it too. “You can trust the butler to set you right. That man knows every nook and cranny in the place. He rose through the ranks from pot boy. As for the other servants, I could not say who you might rely upon.”

Winston nodded. “I will be guided by your wisdom.”

“That would be a nice change. I told Cuthbert to watch that step and he still blundered into a fall,” Stratford complained. “Cuthbert surely must have noticed the wobble going up.”

But on the trip down the next morning, he took a tumble and had broken bone. Quite an unsettling howl he’d made, too. By midday, Stratford had known he had to leave the moaning servant behind. It was not every day your beloved elder brother hosted the family for the first time since becoming the Duke of Ravenswood. Stratford was already late.

He turned to take in the view of his ancestral home as they drew nearer. Ravenswood Palace, deep in the heart of Somerset, was a truly spectacular building. Four floors in total, thirty-five bedchambers. Nestled on a slight rise of land. It commanded a view of many miles in every direction.

But best of all was what would be found inside. He could not wait to see all those smug faces in the family wiped clean when they were denied the privilege of the new duke’s favor. Their hands outstretched and smiles imploring, and then those same greedy hands closing over nothing but air as their smiles became a mere memory. It was their own damn fault that Ravenswood would never give any one of them a penny. They should have been kinder to him all along, rather than pandering to the late Duke of Ravenswood’s capricious whims because he preferred to foster competitiveness for his attention.

Stratford’s elder brother, Algernon Sweet, sixth Duke of Ravenswood, did not suffer fools. And the family had a legion of those. He would have to be on his guard, and Stratford had counted on Cuthbert keeping his ear to the ground in the servants’ hall for any potential signs of trouble. Without Cuthbert’s insights, he would have to face the family at large with more of a disadvantage than usual.

But Stratford had made the best of a bad situation. The inn really had only the one decent footman who had dared apply for the position before Stratford had decided he even had need of a replacement. Mr. Dane Winston had seemed the only logical choice. Quite bold, too. He’d quickly gathered up Stratford’s things strewn about the room, spoke with his moaning valet, and promised Stratford would not regret his hire.

And he had not, for the first days, but he would wait to pass judgement until he’d spent a few days at Ravenswood. That would surely be a test of his new valet’s mettle.

When the carriage finally stopped at the front of Ravenswood Palace, he bounded out and rushed toward the massive carved old entrance doors, leaving the servants to do what they normally did when he wasn’t around. It was not strictly a palace, Ravenswood, but the name had stuck, and Father of course would never have diminished the family’s importance by changing it back to merely calling it an overly large manor house.

The Ravenswood butler stepped out the doors before he could reach them, beaming a smile of welcome. “Lord Stratford. Welcome home.”


Desperately Seeking Seduction releases April 18. Click here to find a pre-order link.

Easter Monday

Hope you’re all having a really nice, chocolate filled, long weekend like me.

Take care

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