Roll out the red carpet!
Open the champagne!
It’s time to enter the Hall of Fame!
Yes, today it’s a double celebration as not one but two of my amazing fellow authors over at Sapphire Star Publishing celebrate the launch day for their books. Meet Linn B. Halton and J. K. Hogan! Pour yourself a cuppa (or something sparkly, if it’s late enough in the day!), sit back and enjoy as you get to meet these exciting new authors…
STOP PRESS! Just had news that the lovely Linn B. Halton can’t be with us today as she is currently touring Europe:
So she’s asked Hilary Marks from The Restaurant @ The Mill to visit on her behalf…
Hello Nicky – it’s fantastic to meet you! My name is Hilary Marks and stepping in for Linn B Halton. As you say, Linn’s on a tour of Europe at the moment, the lucky thing! Some big wedding anniversary celebration, so it’s all rather romantic – castles, a chateau here and there …
Anyway, I’ve come to tell you a little bit about The Restaurant, it’s out now and is published by Sapphire Star Publishing.
Nicky: Yes, tell us more about The Restaurant. What’s the story here?
Why did Ben and I open a Restaurant? Well, it’s a long story and it’s the reason why Linn began writing this novel. Let’s just say Ben and I both have things from the past that mean it’s hard to let go. I wish it wasn’t like that, but that’s life. However, the wonderful thing is that The Restaurant @ The Mill is our dream and it’s thriving. It’s been very hard work and it hasn’t all been easy, but the building itself lends an ambience and with Ben’s brilliance as a chef … well, we’re both very proud of what we have achieved.
Nicky: But it’s not just about you and Ben, is it? I gather there are plenty of things going on!
Ah, you want to know about the other ‘stories’ within this story ….
Well, we have some lovely regulars and then, of course, there is Sadie, our head waitress. She’s learning the trade and although she’s very new I think she’s going to do very well. She has this ‘friend’ Sam, she’d like him to be a boyfriend really but it’s complicated. He used to be her sister’s boyfriend before her sister had a serious accident. The story of Sadie’s sister Mya is told in Linn’s novel, Touched By The Light, which is a psychic romance. It’s both sad and uplifting, but it left Sadie and Sam with an awkward association, they still rely upon each other so much. I’m sure we’ll find out what happens before we get to the last page of The Restaurant.
There’s Thomas too, he’s a friend of mine – very attractive, very wealthy and very lonely. Funny how when we look at other people’s lives we tend to focus on the successful bits and don’t always see the heartache they hide so cleverly.
Isobel and David live nearby and often come to dine. Isobel is a writer and after a lifetime of bringing up her family it’s how her time to devote to her passion! The problem is that whilst David is the love of her life, he’s decided to take early retirement and I get the feeling he’s often in the way … I hope they do sort it out. They are a lovely couple, I’d hate to see them drift apart at this stage in their lives.
Charlotte and Nick are struggling. They might be newlyweds and having their first baby, but life is taking its toll on them. Nick was involved in an accident and it’s changed him – I wonder if Charlotte will ever get back the ‘Nick’ with whom she fell in love …
Now Grace is a fabulous lady, she’s a medium and features on the TV programme ‘Spirits Live’. This rather distinguished gentleman seems to have come into her life, his name is Lawrence and it’s obvious they’ve known each other really well in the past…
Nicky: What a colourful cast! I have to confess to having met them all by now and I’m totally wrapped up in their stories. But someone is still missing, right?
You want to know about Sarah? There isn’t very much I can tell you, the spirit of Sarah wanders the Mill and when we bought it the previous owners warned us of her presence. She doesn’t trouble us at all, although she’s often felt by people who come to visit us. I haven’t seen her myself, but I think Ben has – I’m sure Linn knows all about that!
Nicky: Well, well, I’ll just have to read on to find out more….
It’s been lovely to be here with you Nicky, thank you so much and if you ever want to come and dine with us – The Restaurant @ The Mill will have a table especially reserved for you!
Nicky: Thanks so much, Hilary, I will. I know how much pride Ben takes in his work, sourcing only the freshest ingredients every day (and the very best wines, I hear!). I look forward to meeting you there!
Wow, what a post! I have goose bumps of excitement. But there’s more… don’t miss the excerpt below! First of all, though, Hilary wanted to share how you can find out more about her author, Linn B. Halton. You can visit Linn’s author page over at loveahapyending.com. You can also find Linn on Facebook and Twitter and, of course, at Sapphire Star Publishing. Linn is also present on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com!
Nicky: Thanks for that, Hilary. Now then, let’s have a read of the opening page of The Restaurant @ The Mill:
The first time I walked around the flour mill at Huntingbridge in Gloucestershire turned out to be a life-changing moment. Reminiscent of the first time I met my business partner, Ben Adams. The initial thought that struck me on both occasions was “Great, not perfect, but I can work with this.” It was enough to clinch the deal for me.
You see, I thought I had a “perfect” life once a long time ago. I married Josh, the man of my dreams, only to find out one failed marriage and a broken heart later, that everything could change in an instant. What you saw depended upon where you were standing when you admired it. If you were on the outside looking in on someone else’s life, it was only natural to form an opinion based on the façade you saw. What I eventually discovered was that even when you were on the inside looking out, it was easy to be fooled into thinking everything was fine. On that fateful day many years ago, what I hadn’t appreciated was that what we had was in fact a love triangle and knowing that would have given me a whole new perspective.
Everyone around us believed Josh and I had an enviable life, because we looked like the perfect couple. For two years and four months I thought so too. Then I found out Josh was cheating on me, and had been for quite a while before I eventually discovered the truth. The other woman, who had also fallen under the irresistible spell of my attentive husband, obviously had a completely different viewpoint from where she was standing. What was so poignantly sad and particularly cruel was that even after their affair I continued to remain oblivious to the fact that my life was a sham. Josh continued to be the kindest, most thoughtful, and loving man that I had fallen in love with—and that, above all else, hurt the most. How could he deceive with such blatant disregard to anyone else’s feelings? Had he ever really loved me? Or did he only love himself?
Well, I don’t know about you, but I was hooked after this, and I have been following the story of The Restaurant @ The Mill ever since…
HUGE congratulations to Linn on the launch of her second novel with Sapphire Star Publishing. Here’s to a tremendous launch!
You can get The Restaurant @ The Mill now from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com!
And here’s today’s second launch in the Sapphire Star Publishing family. Get ready for…
Fire On The Island by J.K. Hogan
“She who wields the mark is the barrier between man and monster.
She is the daughter of gods, the mother of man, protector of all.
Vigilati Usque Ad Mortem”
All Isla Macallen wanted was a simple existence on her little Scottish island, free from her mother’s insanity and the prying eyes of neighbors. What she got was embroiled in a war for the souls of mankind. A war of good versus evil, of witches versus demons, and Isla learns that she alone can end it.
Dr. Jeremiah Rousseau was a self-proclaimed nomad, traveling the world researching paranormal phenomena. He doesn’t expect his research to lead him to Scotland, and to the woman who will turn his world upside down.
Together with a facetious shapeshifting animal spirit guide, Jeremiah and Isla discover that she is part of an ancient bloodline bred to protect the gateways between the human world and the spirit world, to keep evil demons from destroying them. They must find the key to defeating Alastore, the demon king, and closing the gate before Samhain, when the veil between the worlds is lifted. As the war for their souls wages around them, Isla and Jeremiah will risk it all for love—a love neither had ever thought possible.
Are you intrigued? Does that stunning cover grab you? Want to read on? Well, J.K. has sent this excerpt to get you hooked good and proper. Enjoy!
Isla had stopped at the edge of the porch and stood, frozen, staring out into the rainy darkness. Beyond her, Jeremiah could see the silhouette of a man. His face was in shadow, but from the luminescent eyes swirling with shadows, he knew it was Alastore.
When the man stepped forward into the dim light cast through the open door of the house, it became clear that he had a victim. Mhairi Mackay stood in front of the demon, and he had a strong arm locked around her neck.
Jeremiah surged forward, determined to protect Isla’s only remaining family, but Marduk stopped him with a hand on his shoulder. With a silent shake of his head, Marduk encouraged Jeremiah to think first and act with care.
Trust nothing, question everything, because things will most definitely not be as they seem. Marduk’s earlier words came back to him, and Jeremiah gave the man a quick nod to let him know he understood.
Isla lifted a foot to step down off the porch. “Think, Isla. Breathe. That’s not really Mhairi. She’s at Sacred Hearts, guarded by doctors and nurses that didn’t even want to let us in at first, remember?” he said in a low tone.
He saw a shudder rack her slender body but, much to his relief, she stayed put. Three pairs of eyes fixed on the pale, glowing arm that had the projection of Mhairi in a headlock.
Alastore threw his head back and cackled, before pinning each of them with a hard glare. “You think you can defeat me? I will lead you to your graves like lambs to the slaughter.” His voice was demonic, and they could hear the echo of pure evil behind it. It sounded like a dozen demons living inside one body, speaking in unison.
Without warning, he wrapped his free hand around Mhairi’s head and twisted in opposite directions. They heard a gruesome snap before the image of Mhairi crumpled to the ground.
A strangled cry ripped from Isla’s throat as the three of them bounded off the porch. They ground to a halt as Alastore threw his hands up toward the sky, and the pelting raindrops burst into incandescent flames.
The pellets of flame singed their skin, forcing them back to the shelter of the porch. Isla wailed as the spectre of Mhairi seemed to dissolve under the onslaught of fire and rain combined. Alastore’s head swiveled back to face them, his eyes gleaming with madness and hatred, pierced through to Isla’s soul.
“The little witch thinks she can defeat me! I, who can make the sky rain fire?” He took a step forward and Isla stood her ground. He glared at her with his mouth turned up in a gruesome sneer. “I will burn your life!” he spat at her.
“You’ll watch everything you care for turn to ash if you fight me!” He turned his cutting glare to the two men standing shoulder to shoulder on her right and absently gestured toward them. “These will die. Everyone will die.”
Facing Isla again, he gave her a sickeningly sweet smile. “And you, my dear…You will watch things fall apart. And then, you shall be mine.” She shuddered when he licked his lips and leered at her.
Isla would never be able to explain what came over her in that moment. As she focused on the images the demon pushed into her head—the pain and suffering, the dead and dying—it was the thought of Alastore turning his wrath upon Jeremiah that sparked the bone-deep anger inside her.
Storming off the porch into the maelstrom of fire and rain, she felt the breeze on the nape of her neck, when Jeremiah reached for her and missed. Storming toward Alastore, she stopped a few feet in front of him.
The balls of fire raining from the sky seemed to roll off an invisible shield around her and fury radiated from her body. “The hell I will!” she growled at him, gathering her energy low in her chest, preparing for a strike.
Marduk’s deceptively calm whisper drifted over to Jeremiah. “He’s goading her for a reason. Pushing her buttons. He may be trying to funnel her energy into himself, leaving her vulnerable for him to take her. Alastore does nothing without reason. Stop her.”
Jeremiah palmed the shotgun and whispered back to Marduk. “If I shoot him, it’s not going to stop him, right?” He waited for the other man to nod before continuing. “But it’ll hurt.”
Giving him a devious grin, Marduk nodded again. “It sure will. When he’s in corporeal form, he’ll feel the same pain a human would, he just won’t die. It will send him back to the locus to recharge.”
“Good enough for me.” Jeremiah pumped the forestock of the shotgun, drawing Alastore’s attention. The demon snarled at him but didn’t seem overly worried. That didn’t bode well.
Bracing the buttstock of the twelve gauge on his shoulder, he took aim and pulled the trigger. Nothing happened. Cursing, he expelled the dead round and pumped again. Trigger pull, nothing.
Howling with laughter, Alastore returned his attention to the 110 pounds of livid woman that stood in front of him. He cocked his head, like an animal hearing a strange sound. “So pretty, and yet so easy,” he began, “just like your mother.”
“Christ,” Jeremiah hissed as he saw flames spike out from Isla’s fingertips. She was playing right into Alastore’s hands, but she just couldn’t see it. Shoving the shotgun into Marduk’s hands, he turned toward the house.
“I think he’s somehow jamming the gun. Maybe if I find something with no mechanics, he won’t be able to stop it.”
Well, duh. Jeremiah bounded into the house and began tearing through cupboards and rifling through drawers. He thought about grabbing a knife, but he didn’t think any of them should get that close to the demon.
Inspiration struck when he found an unopened bottle of vodka, dusty and forgotten in a cabinet. Grabbing a kitchen rag, he ripped it in half. Emptying a third of the bottle down the sink, he stuffed the rag down into the neck, making sure that it was in far enough to soak up the alcohol.
He snagged a lighter from a drawer and rushed back outside. “Get her out of the way,” he ordered Marduk as he passed, not even stopping to make sure the other man heard him. He didn’t need to stop, because Marduk ran to catch up with him as he was lighting the rag on fire.
Marduk grasped Isla by the shoulders and yanked her back into his arms as Jeremiah tossed the burning bottle at Alastore’s feet.
The projectile immediately exploded, engulfing the demon in a huge wall of fire. The surge of heat was so intense, Jeremiah backed up several steps. He stood, watching as the skin melted off of Alastore’s corporeal form to reveal a blackened skeleton.
An inhuman screech rent the air as Alastore pointed a bony finger at them. “You’re mine,” he croaked as what was left of him dissolved into ash and flame.
“Yeah, yeah, and our little dog, too. Got it,” Jere grumbled.
“Hey!” Marduk’s indignant tone said he didn’t appreciate the dog reference, but Jeremiah didn’t much care. Pulling Isla away from wolf-boy, he enveloped her in a tight hug. Resting his chin on the top of her head, he allowed the shudders he had been suppressing to roll over his body. Giving her one last squeeze, he set her away from him and brushed past her, stalking into the house, slamming the door behind him.
Doesn’t this just have everything? Passion, romance, intrigue, fire… well, I can’t wait to read the entire book! HUGE congratulations to J.K. on the launch of Fire On The Island!! Fire on the Island is available now from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.
Find out more about J.K. on her website or over on her author page at Sapphire Star Publishing. J.K. is on Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads, too!
Now raise a glass and **cheers** to J.K. and Linn!