Betting on Love scores an honourable mention from the Rainbow Awards!

Betting on Love 300 DPII’m delighted to find out that my book Betting on Love has scored an honourable mention from the Rainbow Awards. Keep your fingers crossed for the announcement of the winners on Dec 8th :)

Overall a very well-written story, with strong, authentic characters and a very delicate, soft touch of coming-of-age plot under the romance. I enjoyed this book quite a lot and would recommend it to an interested reader. The book gets off an awkward start that doesn’t really feel like a start, or even as if the story is starting in the middle. But the plot that develops from this start is done very well. It’s strongly character-driven and takes some unexpected – therefore good – twists and turns, which happily are always in-character for the character triggering that twist. Plus, subplots. While at the surface, this might look like a romance, underneath runs a very fine and delicate coming-of-age/growing-up plot. Sometimes it’s a little too delicate, but it’s there. Very nice. Full points here for clever use of setting. There were two settings/props that played a very strong part in the story: a farm and the other character’s motorcycle. Both settings/props were used very well, featured strongly, and even stood symbolic of the character, their personal development, and of the development of their love story. That was done very elegantly and very well. Like the coming-of-age plot, the character development sometimes was a little … too hidden. Yet both main characters developed; they grew, they grew up. Plus additional character development of side characters. Again somewhat hidden but very noticeable in their words and actions. Very smoothly flowing – so smoothly that you aren’t even aware of time passing or your progress through the book, until something startles you out of it. (At least, that’s what happened to me). Now, it’s a somewhat difficult style that I am not sure many readers will enjoy. Mostly beccause the author doesn’t give a lot of insight into the characters heads and emotions and into their development. And it’s true, occasionally the author could have done with a little more showing instead of presenting the reader with facts. However, it is obvious from the text that this is the author’s personal style, and I know other authors who don’t bother explaining a lot. They present the reader with their story and let the reader draw their own conclusions. And while I enjoy the insights into characters’ minds and emotions a lot, I am also aware that this particular style is a lot harder to pull of successfully. So, kudos to the author.

Pre-order Midnight at the Orpheus!

MidnightAtTheOrpheusComing in December 2015, from Bold Strokes Books.

Pre-order the book here! (or on Amazon or Chapters/Indigo, below)

Chicago, the Roaring Twenties.

Cecilia Mills is new to town and struggling to survive. Her world is turned upside down when she falls for gangster Franky Greco’s moll Nell Prescott. Working at The Orpheus dance hall thanks to Nell, she becomes known as CeeCee and rubs elbows with gangsters and the city’s elite, and she and Nell hide their affair from Greco.

Patrick Sheridan is fresh out of prison, bent on revenge, with Greco in the crosshairs. He gets a job as CeeCee’s bodyguard, and despite her infatuation with Nell, love blossoms between CeeCee and Sheridan. When Sheridan sees his chance, thanks to a disillusioned cop seeking his own revenge, he must choose where his loyalties lie as CeeCee and Nell are caught in the middle.





ISBN-13: 978-1626396074

Book review, excerpt & giveaway! The White Leopard, by Laurent Guillaume

white-leopardLaurent Guillaume
on Tour
November 2-21

White Leopard

(hard-boiled African noir)
Release date: November 19, 2015
at Le French Book
238 pages
ISBN: 978-1939474506
Website | Goodreads



Everything is possible and nothing is certain in Bamako. A man torn between two continents finds himself in a dangerous confrontation between tradition and corruption. Solo is a former cop who ran away from a dark past in France to start his life over again in Bamako, Mali, as a PI. An ordinary case turns out to be not so ordinary. The drug mule gets her throat slit. The French lawyer is too beautiful and too well-informed. The cocaine is too plentiful. This is hard-boiled noir with a modern twist set in West Africa.


The White Leopard is definitely noir. The PI set on a case by a woman, and continuing on it to avenge a friend… it’s like The Maltese Falcon, except there’s no falcon, and I have a feeling that Sam Spade might take awhile to get up to speed in this modern world, where it’s drugs people are after, not mysterious and legendary falcons.

Solo, the PI, has cunning and guts, and is startlingly cool under pressure. Yet he’s human, like everyone else in this drama, and he has his weaknesses. Beautiful women, girls without protectors, his friend and houseman, and a kid needing a job. Like most PIs, he’s troubled, and running from (or just plain avoiding) a troubled past. He’s also quick-witted, reminding me somewhat of Henry Kane’s hero, Pete Chambers (just minus New York).

Bringing noir to an African setting instead of a more typical US metropolis got me interested quickly, and Guillaume’s compelling writing kept me reading. I am so glad Le French Book had this one translated. I hope they’ll translate more from M. Guillaume in the near future, because I think I’ve found another favourite author.




There she is, a metal monster with a tricked-out engine, lying motionless in a chop shop outside the city. She’d been souped up with heavy side panels and a supercharged engine. Perfect for trafficking. It’s stinking hot out, but they really should have closed the door of the garage.

Big mistake.

Sweating’s better than bleeding.
I check my watch. I don’t have much time before the others show up, lights flashing, sirens blaring, and all that crap. I lift the latch and push the gate open. It hardly squeaks. I stay off the gravel driveway and walk through the overgrown yard to avoid being spotted. The makeshift shop looks like it was once a house. Bodies of abandoned cars are rotting away all around it. Waste oil and battery acid are seeping from their guts, making holes in the weeds. The men are there. They’re busy taking apart the front of the car. The crushed radiator and bumper have already been ripped off.

It’s the watchdog that spots me—a rottweiler mutt with a big muscular chest. His black and wild coat’s full of scars, some of them still fresh, no doubt from being forced to fight in basements of the neighboring projects.

Chained to the rusty body of a Renault 11, he leaps up on all fours, baring a steel-jaw trap and yellow fangs.

He gives a muffled growl. From deep inside.

Slowly, I walk closer, bringing my finger to my lips.

“Shush!” I whisper. How pathetic. The dog turns his huge snout toward his masters. When they don’t react, the animal starts barking. The men raise their heads. I freeze. They look at each other and come out of the garage, glancing around. No surprise, considering what they’re working on. Eddie, the giant, wipes his huge grease covered mitts on a rag. Steve, the weakling, approaches the animal, who’s barking louder now and foaming at the mouth. He leaps toward me with crazed eyes. The dog’s chain looks ready to break. The skeleton of the car rises each time the animal jumps.

“Who’s the black asshole?” Steve asks.

“Can’t you see he’s a pig? Fuck!” Eddie shouts.

“I know he’s a cop. Why’s he alone?”

The animal has gone quiet. With a half-smile, Steve starts unfastening the chain that holds him back.

“Go on, Panzer. It’s lunch time.”

I’m not scared. I know what I have to do. I open my jacket and slip my hand on my weapon. The freed watchdog rushes toward me. The two brothers howl with laughter, cheering the attack.


white leopard - Laurent_Guillaume©reservedLaurent Guillaume
is a multiple-award-winning French writer
and former police officer.
In law enforcement,
he worked anti-gang, narcotics,
financial crimes,
and served in Mali as advisor to the local police.
He is now a full-time writer.


Sophie Weiner is a freelance translator and book publishing assistant from Baltimore, Maryland. After earning degrees in French from Bucknell University and New York University, Sophie went on to complete a master’s in literary translation from the Sorbonne, where she focused her thesis on translating wordplay in works by Oulipo authors. She has translated and written for web-based companies dedicated to art, cinema, and fashion as well as for nonprofit organizations. Growing up with Babar, Madeline, and The Little Prince, Sophie was bitten by the Francophile bug at an early age, and is fortunate enough to have lived in Paris, Lille, and the Loire Valley.


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Review in progress: Submission (Soumission), by Michel Houellebecq (Part 2)

SubmissionSo, the election happens, the National Front wins the highest percentage, and the Socialists find themselves negotiating with the Muslim Brotherhood. Reading this bit made me realize how little I knew about how French elections are structured. I may have to do some research reading as well, but for now I’ll just keep reading Submission. (Part 1 of my ongoing review here.)

I still don’t particularly care for Francois. He’s at least showing some interest in things now, although it’s mostly the election, and having sex with Myriam. The sex scene was quite to the point, but not as eye-rollingly bad as others I have read. Still, I can only figure that he likes/loves Myriam because she has a shaved pussy and gives great blow-jobs. Should be interesting to see where their relationship goes, if it does go anywhere further at all. She’s thinking of them as a couple, but he’s not, and she’s moving to Israel after the election result.

Somewhat spookier is the Muslim Brotherhood demand that schools teach spiritual things, and that Muslim-based schools become standard, and no co-teaching of the sexes, with instruction for girls/women reduced to that of homemaking and literature. Though it’s fiction, I wonder if a party would bend on such a thing in order to keep some of their power. (In this case, the Socialists are the ones bargaining with the MB.)

I shall have to read more.

Review in progress: Submission (Soumission), by Michel Houellebecq

SubmissionI picked up this book as I’d read some reviews and reactions, and because it was selling very well in France. It also had been scheduled for translation, so I didn’t have to attempt to struggle through reading the French version.

So far, I have read the first 45 pages of the UK edition of the book.

Francois, the book’s narrator and main character (as it’s a first-person viewpoint), is a middle-aged academic, who, after finishing his studies (on writer Huysmans) and finding himself required to get a job, ends up teaching at a university that’s not quite as good as where he took his degree. Now, in middle age, having not done the usual girlfriend-marriage-children path, and disliking it, he finds himself having lost all motivation for life.

At this point, the book is only just getting started, and it reminds me somewhat of Nausea, Jean-Paul Sartre. The feel of the writing is similar (to me, at least). Francois has lost his purpose in life, and is drifting. Nothing excites him, not even dinner (and possibly sex afterward) with the woman who he claims was his favourite in bed. (Frankly, I think that a man who categorizes women that way is likely missing a few other things in his personality as well, as there’s more to someone than how they fuck.)

So far, I do not have much sympathy for Francois, but I am curious to see how this all turns out.

Review, giveaway, & excerpt: In the Shade of the Almond Trees by Dominique Marny

In the Shade of the Almond TreesDominique Marny on Tour September 29 – October 8 withIn the Shade of the Almond Trees

(historical fiction)

Release date: September 29, 2015
at Open Road Media

280 pages

ISBN: 978-1480461178

Website | Goodreads


This is the second book I’ve read by Dominique Marny (the first being “I Looked for the One my Heart Loves”). This one is historical fiction, set just after WWI. It follows the family Barthélemy, focusing most specifically upon Jeanne, the daughter who must run her family’s estate after her father’s death, her mother’s inability, and her brother’s departure to India.

There are a great many characters, and this book is written in a omniscient point of view, which is one that is not used very commonly. I will admit that it threw me for the first few chapters, as I mostly seem to read limited third person point of view stories. (You will find that many books written in older times, ie. by Joseph Conrad, or Elizabeth Gaskell, for example, are more likely to be in an omniscient point of view.) There also were quite a lot of characters, and so keeping things straight was a bit difficult.

For me, I found that Jeanne was the most interesting of the characters, as she had drive and determination, and seemed to be the only one who didn’t really accept her lot in life and strove to improve. She struggled to improve her family’s estate, and to keep them afloat, whereas many of the other characters seemed to merely allow what happened to them to be the only thing in their lives.

In reading this book, I felt that the point of view, though it gave the thoughts of many characters, did not give a particularly deep understanding of most of them, and that made the story seem more superficial. I was not emotionally moved by any of the scenes, though they were interesting enough. For me, this book did in the end fall a bit flat, and I would have liked to see a deeper inspection of fewer characters. However, it was interesting in a historical sense, and learning about olive groves and nougat and almonds and such, because I had little idea of these things before.


From Chapter 17:
Dressed in black, Mrs. Laferrière greeted her in a living room that exuded old-fashioned charm. Her white hair was held up in a chignon, and she had bright, amber eyes.

“Good afternoon,” she said to Jeanne, a bit coldly.

Antoine offered Jeanne a seat, and she felt that every movement she made might trigger some sort of derogatory comment after she left. An awkward conversation followed.

“My son tells me you live in Cotignac,” the old lady said. “I often went there when I was young. It’s a beautiful region.”

As they traded banalities, Jeanne took in the stuffy and expensive environment that Antoine’s mother seemed to enjoy. She noticed the heavy velour drapes in the windows, the busy wallpaper, and the knickknacks everywhere, as well as the many photos of a man who must have been Antoine’s father.

“And this estate you’re taking care of,” Mrs. Laferrière said, “it must be a burden for someone your age.”

“I don’t have any choice.”

“Are you optimistic about things?”

“I have to be.”

“I understand you’re living alone.”

“My brother is going to return soon.”

Jeanne was offered a cup of tea. More and more ill at ease, she wondered what she was doing in this house where, obviously, she wasn’t welcome.

“It just seems odd to me that a proper young woman should live like this,” Mrs.
Laferrière said.

“Live like what?” Jeanne snapped back.

“Come now, young lady … Don’t get angry.”

“I am angry,” Jeanne said, “and I’m leaving.” She grabbed her handbag and gloves.

Antoine rose to his feet.

“What is it, Jeanne?” he asked.

“It’s your mother. She decided, even before meeting me, that I wasn’t worthy.”

“That’s not true. You’re wrong!”

“No, I’m not,” Jeanne said. Turning to Clotilde Laferrière, she added, “Have a good
day, madam. …”

Then she walked out of the room.

Antoine ran after her and blocked her way before she reached the front door.

“I beg you … It’s a misunderstanding. … If you care about me just one bit, don’t leave. … Not this way.”

“Just so that things are clear between us, you should know that I’m never going to bow to any hypocritical bourgeois conventions. Your mother dreams of a docile young woman for you. That’s not me.”

“I don’t care what my mother thinks.”

“So why was it so important for me to meet her, then?”

Antoine looked so sad that Jeanne felt tenderness toward him for the first time, and she caressed his cheek. Still, the gap that had existed between them was now wider than ever. Life’s hardships had taught her to be independent, to refuse to play other people’s games, and she insisted on being accepted for who she was.

“Let me go,” she told Antoine.

“Antoine!” Mrs. Laferrière called out from the living room.

Antoine took Jeanne’s hand and led her to the street.

“I’ll walk you to the train station,” he said.

“You don’t have to. Besides, I feel like walking around town a bit.”

“I’m going with you.”

They wound up sitting on the terrace of an ice cream shop. Jeanne’s face was still red from anger, and her eyes shone bright.

“Jeanne,” Antoine said, “why are you always trying to hurt me? What’s the point?” Without giving her the chance to answer, he added, “It’s as though you were trying to punish me for something someone else did to you. Am I wrong?”

Caught off guard, Jeanne hesitated before saying, “I’m not trying to punish you, but I
can’t pretend to be someone I’m not. …”

She leaned toward him and spoke softly. “Antoine, open your eyes. I’m not the right woman for you. I need freedom, responsibilities.”

“But you’d have responsibilities.”

“Yes, whichever ones you chose to give me.”

“You could have anything you wanted. I swear!”

She knew he was being sincere, but unfortunately he didn’t trigger in her the sort of fervor and passion that Régis had. Antoine was a kind man, a nice man, someone without a fire inside. And Jeanne, full of contradictions herself, was scared that she’d be bored to
death with him.


In the aftermath of World War I, a family estate hangs in the balance.

For generations, the Barthélemy family tended to the olive trees of Restanques, a sprawling property in Cotignac whose olive oil and almonds were as incredible as the countryside that produced them. But all that changed when war came to France. Robert Barthélemy never returned from the trenches, and without him, the farm is beginning to die. His widow has lost the will to live, and only the fierce efforts of their daughter, Jeanne, have kept the creditors at bay.

Jeanne is spending an afternoon at home with the family’s grim financial statements when a handsome stranger appears on the front steps. His name is Jérôme Guillaumin and he is a brilliant botanist about to embark on a journey around the globe. From the moment they meet, Jeanne is struck by feelings she never thought possible: feelings that could save her life or destroy everything she has ever known.


In the Shade of the Almond Trees - Dominique Marny

Dominique Marny
was raised in a family that loved art, literature, adventure, and travel. In addition to being a novelist, she is a playwright and screenwriter, and writes for various magazines.

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Follow the blog tour for THE LONDON GAME, and win books!

the-london-game-bannerClick on the banner above to be taken to the full listing of sites participating, and to learn how to win a copy of the book!

The game isn’t over.

Art dealer Marc Perron relocates to London with his lover, singer Sera Durand, to protect her from past mistakes. Blackmailed by a gangster, he must return to Paris, leaving Sera alone and vulnerable. Forging a precious painting may be his only chance at survival, but if he’s found out, the consequences will be deadly.

Without Marc, Sera struggles in an English-speaking country, coming face to face with his lies, his sexual past, and her own misdeeds. Finding a job at a jazz club called ‘Sanctuary’ is anything but, as she is not safe from her new boss, or the disturbing man who spies on her every move.

Once more, the lovers must play the game, but the stakes are higher than they imagined…


I’ve been busy, and this is why…


Yup, I bought a motorcycle.

It’s a smaller model than what Alex rides in Betting on Love (hers is a 2013 Ninja Z1000, which is much, much bigger). It’s a 2010 Ninja 250r, just the right size for learning. This spring I took my motorcycle safety course from Too Cool Motorcycle School, and I got my motorcycle license in June. A couple of weeks ago, I found the bike on an online ad, and went to take a look. I loved it, and it’s the perfect size.

I will not be spending quite as much time writing during what remains of this summer, as I’m going to try to get a lot of riding in before the snow falls (or falls again, as we’ve already had one light skiff of snow here… pretty nutty for August). But if you’re looking for something to read in the meantime, The London Game was just released, and coming in January, my latest book from Bold Strokes Books, titled Midnight at the Orpheus, will be released. :)

So, I’ll be around a bit, but more than likely, I’ll be riding.