Chapter 1 of my upcoming novel, The London Game

It’s been awhile since the last Le Chat Rouge book, and I thought I’d give you just a taste of what’s coming up soon!

The London Game, Chapter 1

The train glided smoothly away from the platform, sailing past graffiti-covered brickwork and out of Paris. If he didn’t think about it, Marc knew he could pretend it was just another business trip, but with Sera at his side, her fingers clutching his, her lips a thin line, and her eyes brimming with tears she didn’t want to admit to, it was impossible. He lifted her hand, pressing a kiss to the back, and she turned to look at him.

“Think of it as an adventure,” he said, his voice low. “Paris is only a train ride away.”

“I know.” Sera’s chin trembled. “It seems so final.”

“Are you regretting this? Us?”

Continue reading

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Book Review: The French House, by Don Wallace (+ Giveaway!)

french-house-coverWhen life hands you lemons, make citron pressé.

Shortly after Don and Mindy Wallace move to Manhattan to jump-start their writing careers, they learn of a house for sale in a village they once visited on a tiny French island off the Brittany coast. Desperate for a life change, the Wallaces bravely (and impulsively) buy it almost sight unseen.

What they find when they arrive is a ruin, and it isn’t long before their lives begin to resemble it—with hilarious and heartwarming results.

Redolent with the beauty and flavors of French country life, The French House is a lively, inspiring, and irresistibly charming memoir of a family that rises from the rubble, wins the hearts of a historic village, and finally finds the home they’ve been seeking off the wild coast of France.

My review

Oh how I wish that I too could own a house on an island in France. Mind you, I don’t think I’d have managed with as much patience as the author and his family. I might have turned tail and ran at the sight of a near-wreck of a house, and the slow, almost glacial pace of renovations, and the intricacies of island-life. I don’t mind cosily rundown, but a virtual ruin is a bit much.

As such, I was impressed by the fortitude of the author, the dedication among the difficulties, and their gradual immersion into the society on the island. Each interaction detailed was fascinating, from the woman who encourages them to buy the place and stays a fixture in their lives for years, to the children to whom they teach baseball. I felt immersed along with them, albeit from the comfort of my own sofa.

I don’t know that I had a particular favourite part of the book, but as a whole, it was a perfect read for my lazy summer days at the cottage.

About the Author

french-house-don-wallace-600x800Don Wallace has been a magazine writer and editor for 25 years,
and is the film editor for Honolulu Weekly.
He has held a number of senior positions at magazines, including Yachting magazine, SELF,
Golf Digest Woman at The New York Times, and others.
His essays and articles have appeared in The New York Times, Fast Company, E Magazine,
Redbook, Portfolio, Parents, and many others.
Wallace and his wife, Mindy, split their time between Honolulu, Long Beach, and Belle Ile.

Visit his website, and his blog

Follow him on Facebook  | Twitter | Goodreads | Google + | LinkedIn

Buy this book onSourcebooksAmazon (paperback or kindle), B&N (Paperback or Nook), BAMIndieBoundIndigo

The Giveaway!

It’s open to US/Canadian readers, and the prize is a print copy of The French House, as well as a basket of delicious French chocolates! (5 winners total, use the widget below to enter)

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Throwback Thursday: Kittens!

Because it gives me an excuse to post a cute photo of my cats. Zowie and Pandora were just 6 week old kittens in this photo, taken about 15.5 years ago…

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Book Review: The Chocolate Kiss, by Laura Florand (+ Giveaway!)

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The Heart of Paris

Welcome to La Maison des Sorcieres. Where the window display is an enchanted forest of sweets, a collection of conical hats delights the eye and the habitues nibble chocolate witches from fanciful mismatched china. While in their tiny blue kitchen, Magalie Chaudron and her two aunts stir wishes into bubbling pots of heavenly chocolat chaud.

But no amount of wishing will rid them of interloper Philippe Lyonnais, who has the gall to open one of his world famous pastry shops right down the street. Philippe’s creations seem to hold a magic of their own, drawing crowds of beautiful women to their little isle amidst the Seine, and tempting even Magalie to venture out of her ivory tower and take a chance, a taste…a kiss.

Parisian princesses, chocolate witches, patissier princes and sweet wishes—an enchanting tale of amour et chocolat.

My review:

It didn’t take me long to get swept into this story, easily imagining the small shop of La Maison des Sorcieres, and wishing that I could go and have a cup of their chocolate. I spent most of the book craving macarons, too. Ms. Florand writes well, of love and of food, and I enjoyed both in this book. The sparks between Magalie and Philippe, and the determination with which Magalie resists Philippe’s charms, was what kept me reading, and I felt like I couldn’t get enough. Once I got started, I could barely put the book down.

Part of what really made the book for me was its setting, on the Ile de la Cite, where I spent some time last year during my trip to Paris. It made me long for Paris, but not in an agonizing way. I felt like I was there, if only while I read.

Delightfully, Ms. Florand includes a chocolat chaud recipe at the back of the book, and I know I shall be indulging (once the weather turns from its current 30˚C heat wave).

the-chocolate-kiss-laura-florandLaura Florand is the international bestselling author of the Amour et Chocolat series (The Chocolate Thief, The Chocolate Kiss, etc). Her books have been translated into seven languages, received the RT Seal of Excellence and starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, and been recommended by NPR, USA Today, and The Wall Street Journal, among others. Four of her past five books have been recommended reads by Dear Author and two have been Sizzling Book Club Picks by Smart B*, Trashy Books.

Laura was born in a small town in Georgia, but the travel bug bit her early. After a Fulbright year in Tahiti, a semester in Spain, and backpacking in New Zealand and Greece, she ended up living in Paris, where she met and married her own handsome Frenchman. You can find out quite a bit more about those crazy adventures in her memoir, Blame It on Paris. She is now a lecturer in Romance Studies at Duke University. Contrary to popular opinion, that means she studies and teaches French language and culture, rather than romance. Fortunately, French culture includes French chocolate, research to which she is very dedicated. You can catch some glimpses of that research in the books, on her blog, and on her Facebook site, where you are welcome to join her and other readers!

Visit her website

“Delve into the world of Paris chocolate, and all the passion and intensity—and the extraordinary sensuality—of luxury artisan chocolatiers and pâtissiers”: see her Chocolate Series

Follow her on Facebook  |   Twitter | Goodreads

Keep in touch  by signing up to receive her newsletter

Buy this book -also available as ebook and audiobook: AmazonB&NBAMIndieBoundBookish.com,TargetWalmart

Release date: December 24, 2012
at Kensington
342 pages
ISBN: 978-0-7582-6941-6

  • Reviewers Choice Book of the Year nominee!
  • Winner of the Romantic Times Seal of Excellence.
  • Dear Author Recommended Read and a Best Book of 2013
  • Smart B*’s Sizzling Book Club Pick and a Best Book of 2013 for Kindle Love Stories
  • A Romance Novels for Feminists Best Book of 2012

And the giveaway! (open to US readers only, sorry.)

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Oh my. Nick Cave. (My much delayed review)

I had never expected to get to see Nick Cave in concert. Ever.

To be honest, a lot of the musicians I like don’t seem to make it across the pond (or if they do, it’s only to Toronto/NYC/etc.). Seeing PJ Harvey in 2000 was only thanks to her touring as the opening act for U2, for example. And I have yet to see a number of other musicians I’d really like to (Swedish group Kent, for one).

Push-The-Sky-Away-nick-caveBut finally, to my utter delight, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds came to Calgary.

I’m still not quite over the show, and it’s been a week. The new album, Push The Sky Away, is fantastic. I’ve had it on repeat all week. As I said to my friend Karen, who came with me to the show: Nick Cave is up there as one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. He’s as good as Bowie. And for me, that’s saying quite a lot.

He started with the first track from the new album, We No Who U R, and from that moment, I was completely smitten and entranced. Jubilee Street was next, and then the classic Tupelo, and Red Right Hand (which I had stuck in my head for several days afterwards). Interspersed with tracks from the new album were a good selection (most of which I’d heard on his Best Of… album), including The Weeping Song, From Her to Eternity, Into My Arms (beautifully done on piano), and The Mercy Seat (which came to a dramatic climax).

He also played Stagger Lee (probably one of the most recognizable from the Murder Ballads album) and seemed to take great delight in its drama, enunciating the violent swagger and commands of Stagger Lee as he moved across the stage.

The encore was three songs: The Ship Song; Papa Won’t Leave You, Henry; and The Lyre of Orpheus. The Ship Song moved me (as had Into My Arms, earlier), as I remember when I’d first heard it, on a mix tape given to me by a former boyfriend. At that point, I realized that I’d been listening to Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds since I was seventeen. How the time flies.

If I could, I’d turn back the clock and relive June 27th and the entire show. That’s how good it was.

Full Setlist:
We No Who U R
Jubilee Street
Tupelo
Red Right Hand
The Weeping Song
Mermaids
From Her to Eternity
West Country Girl
Into My Arms
God Is in the House
Higgs Boson Blues
The Mercy Seat
Stagger Lee
Push the Sky Away
Encore:
The Ship Song
Papa Won’t Leave You, Henry
The Lyre of Orpheus

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30% Friday Flash rebate on ARe!

For the 27th of June, ARe is offering a 30% Flash Rebate on Incentive Eligible titles site wide (those with the little crown symbol on the book detail page). 

All of my books are eligible:

 

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Paris Game & Prohibited Passion on sale at ARe 25% off! #AREBLAST

As a part of All Romance Ebooks’ #AREBLAST summer sale, The Paris Game and Prohibited Passion are now 25% off! Click on the book cover to buy.

The Paris Game - Alyssa Linn Palmer

On the darker side of Paris, it’s dangerous to not pay your debts…

A singer in a jazz club past its prime, Sera Durand must come up with thousands of euros to pay back her boss, a ruthless gangster.  A confrontation with her ex, an art dealer profiting on the wrong side of the law, leads her into a questionable wager, but one that could solve her problems.

Marc Perron knows a winning proposition when he sees one. Seducing a shy young woman of Sera’s acquaintance will be the easiest thing in the world, and the prize, to have Sera in his bed once again, is worth the chance of losing a sizable sum. What he didn’t expect was the depth of Sera’s desperation.

When one of his deals goes awry, Marc’s solution could cost them more than money…

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Ruth wants to escape the boredom of Bandit Creek and the strict expectations of her father, the local pastor. Her life changes the day she meets CeeCee, a world-wise flapper, and an irresistible attraction develops between them. She’ll be disowned and shunned if anyone discovers their prohibited passion, but can they keep their growing affection a secret?

CeeCee is drawn to Ruth, but things become complicated when her gangster companion disapproves of their liaison. He’s in town to broker a deal with the owner of the local speakeasy, and he’s not above using them to further his own plans. Can CeeCee protect Ruth and their budding relationship?

As Ruth gets drawn further into their world, she must decide between her familiar life and a new, dangerous path with the woman she loves.

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My gay romance, Moonlight & Love Songs, is discounted for Pride Month!

Ebook discounted now to $2.99 for Pride Month!

AlyssaLinnPalmer_Moonlight&LoveSongs_800pxWhen Le Chat Rouge’s pianist, Benoît Grenier, meets the club’s new singer, his world is turned upside down. He’d given up ever finding someone to love. His hopes and dreams of a life beyond the club are revived, while his heart heals.

Daniel Marceau has come from Marseille, looking to escape bad decisions and worse memories. He never expected to fall in love, and when his past catches up with him it could ruin the only thing he’s ever found worth living for.

Daniel’s fears and his reluctance to ask Benoît for help could cost them everything they’ve worked so hard to create.

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Buy it here (Amazon, ARe, Google Play & Smashwords are immediately on sale, others to follow as they update):

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A tease of what I’m working on…

Cathy Pegau tagged me, and thus here are my answers!

1) What am I working on?

I just finished a novel for Bold Strokes Books (Betting on Love), and I’m back in gear with The London Game (the sequel to The Paris Game).

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

My work has been called ‘gritty noir-romance’, so I tend to work with anti-heroes, and characters of questionable morals.

3) Why do I write what I do?

I’m intrigued by how people can justify doing things that are morally questionable, and how they can still be good-intentioned people even though what they’re doing is wrong. This goes back to reading old noir and detective stories, where the detective or PI is pretty much as morally bankrupt as the guys he’s trying to beat. In one of my favourite books, pardoned gangster Roy Earle (in WR Burnett’s ‘High Sierra’) takes part in a robbery because he owes the man who pardoned him, but yet he still yearns for the everyday: love, marriage, settling down.

4) How does my writing process work?

I’m more of a plotter; at the very minimum I have an outline or a plot summary, and all the main characters have been sketched out. On ‘Betting on Love’, I did up a plot summary, blurb, and sketches for the four mains. It helped, and I wrote quickly and well. (or at least, I think I did! When I get edits back, we’ll see ;) )

I haven’t tagged anyone else, but if you want to play, drop me a comment and I’ll link to your post!

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Review (& giveaway!): Sandra Gulland’s ‘The Shadow Queen’

Leave a comment on the post for a chance to win a hardcover copy of The Shadow Queen! (US/Canada only)

Synopsis:

From the author of the beloved Josephine B. Trilogy, comes a spellbinding novel inspired by the true story of a young woman who rises from poverty to become confidante to the most powerful, provocative and dangerous woman in the 17th century French court: the mistress of the charismatic Sun King.

shadow-queen-cover1660, Paris

Claudette’s life is like an ever-revolving stage set.  From an impoverished childhood wandering the French countryside with her family’s acting troupe, Claudette finally witnesses her mother’s astonishing rise to stardom in Parisian theaters. Working with playwrights Corneille, Molière and Racine, Claudette’s life is culturally rich, but like all in the theatrical world at the time, she’s socially scorned.

A series of chance encounters pull Claudette into the alluring orbit of Athénaïs de Montespan, mistress to Louis XIV and reigning “Shadow Queen.” Needing someone to safeguard her secrets, Athénaïs offers to hire Claudette as her personal attendant.

Enticed by the promise of riches and respectability, Claudette leaves the world of the theater only to find that court is very much like a stage, with outward shows of loyalty masking more devious intentions. This parallel is not lost on Athénaïs, who fears political enemies are plotting her ruin as young courtesans angle to take the coveted spot in the king’s bed.

Indeed, Claudette’s “reputable” new position is marked by spying, illicit trysts and titanic power struggles. As Athénaïs becomes ever more desperate to hold onto the King’s favor, innocent love charms move into the realm of deadly Black Magic, and Claudette is forced to consider a move that will put her own life—and the family she loves so dearly—at risk.

Set against the gilded opulence of a newly-constructed Versailles and the blood-stained fields of the Franco-Dutch war, THE SHADOW QUEEN is a seductive, gripping novel about the lure of wealth, the illusion of power, and the increasingly uneasy relationship between two strong-willed women whose actions could shape the future of France. [provided by the author]

Release date: April 8, 2014 at Doubleday (US) and HarperCollins (Canada)
Hardcover 336 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0385537520

My review

I’ve read the Josephine trilogy, and loved it, so I jumped at the chance to read The Shadow Queen, and I wasn’t the least bit disappointed. This was one I read in a day. I couldn’t put it down, and I didn’t notice the hours going by. I was completely immersed in the story.

I can’t speak to the accuracy of the history, having not studied this time period, but what I do know is that Ms. Gulland’s writing pulled me right in, and I felt like I was there, in the theatre, in the bedchamber…everywhere. Claudette is a compelling character, and her ethics and idealism clash with the corruption and intrigue of the French court. Of course, there’s no way that Claudette could remain unsullied by her first brushes, and then immersion, into the intrigue, and it’s her struggle, her naivete and its loss, that kept me wanting more.

I’d love to read more books set in this time period, and I can only hope that Ms. Gulland has others on the way!

sandra-gullandSandra Gulland is the author of the Josephine B. Trilogy, internationally best-selling novels about Josephine Bonaparte which have been published in over seventeen countries. Her forth novel, Mistress of the Sun, set in the 17th-century court of the Sun King, was also a bestseller and published internationally.
Her most recent novel is The Shadow Queen, also set in the era of the Sun King, published in April of 2014 by HarperCollins in Canada and Doubleday in the U.S.

See more on her website: www.sandragulland.com
Sign-up for her author newsletter: http://www.sandragulland.com/contacts/
Follow her on Facebook  | Twitter  |  Pinterest  | GoodReads
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