Love Begins at 40 by Ann Burnett – an extract #tirgearrtuesday #romance

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Maisie McLelland spent ten years building up McLelland Events in Glasgow and has just bought a holiday home in the relaxing small seaside town of Largs on the west coast of Scotland. She immediately befriends her elderly neighbour, the widow of a local fisherman.

When Elizabeth is in need of rescue, Maisie steps in to help. Elizabeth’s grateful son, teacher and lifeboatman, James, takes Maisie to dinner to show his appreciation. Maisie’s not looking for a relationship, and neither is James, as he’s still reeling from the loss of his son. They’re both surprised at the instant connection.

Over time, Maisie and James become friends and their closeness continues pulling them toward each other until emotion leads to intimacy. She agrees to help with the organisation of a Vilking Festival he is planning in the town.

But as Maisie approaches her 40th birthday, tragedy strikes a double blow, and she’s forced to make some important decisions about what she really wants from life.


‘What on earth have I done?’ she exclaimed as she looked about the half-empty room. This was not what she had planned, what she had looked forward to, what she had imagined in the evenings when the TV programmes were boring and she was sitting at home in her flat in Glasgow.

Where was the wee, whitewashed Highland cottage nestling into the glen, the purple heather-tinged mountains rising all around? Where was the burbling burn to supply fresh, clear water? The black-faced sheep munching close by? The sound of the distant bagpipes drifting through the quiet air? Her bolt hole, where she could escape when the pressures of her work in Glasgow became too much?

Maisie McLelland was 39, a successful businesswoman in Glasgow, with no ties and a bucket-list of what she wanted to achieve before she hit 40. Buying a second home, where she could go to relax away from the bustling city, was top priority. In fact, it was her only priority.

But here she was in another flat – smaller even than her Glasgow one – empty apart from a load of flatpack furniture piled high in the bedroom, and a sofa and two chairs wrapped in plastic sheeting in the lounge. She’d gone ahead and bought the property, despite the fact that it in no way resembled her long-held dreams of a Highland cottage far away from everyone and surrounded by hills.

Instead, this was an ordinary one-bedroom apartment, with magnolia-painted walls and a beige carpet throughout. The kitchen and bathroom were new, and white, and clean, and efficient. Nothing out of the ordinary; in fact, all very, very ordinary. Yet she’d known she had to buy it from the first moment she stepped out onto the balcony attached to the lounge.

‘Maisie McClelland,’ she had said to herself. ‘This is your idea of paradise. This is your dream.’

It was the breathtaking view that had sold the flat to her. Two flights up, she looked west across the glittering waters of the Firth of Clyde to the islands of Great and Wee Cumbrae, with the Isle of Bute behind, and further down the coast, the bulk of the Isle of Arran. Scotland in miniature, the adverts called Arran, with its mountain range at one end, and progressing gently down to rolling green fields at the other. She made a mental note to visit it one day, along with the other islands across the bay.

As she stood there, the sun was beginning its descent, and its rays bathed the islands in a golden light as they rose out of the sea. It was like no other view she had ever seen, and its beauty took her breath away.

So, there and then, she’d bought it. And now she was moving in. Except that all the furniture still had to be assembled.

Maisie wandered through to the bedroom and stared at the boxes, the packages, the pile of which would be her furniture and accessories, whenever she managed to put it all together. She’d got somewhat carried away on her visit to the large Swedish superstore in Glasgow where she’d bought it all, forgetting that most of it would have to be assembled.

First, though, a coffee would sustain her. But where was the coffee machine she had purchased, with a supply of coffee capsules? She raked through various boxes and bags, unearthing a couple of prints she’d thought would brighten up the plain walls, a large glass vase, and a magazine rack. But no sign of the coffee machine. She remembered, too, that she didn’t have any fresh milk or sugar. It might be easier to head out and find a place to sit while she gathered her strength.

Grabbing her coat, she marched out of the flat and pressed the button for the lift. And waited. And waited. Just then, the door of one of the other flats opened and a man came out, shouting ‘Cheerio!’ A large bear of a man, tall and muscular, with thick fair hair and an equally thick fair beard, and wearing a set of overalls. He was carrying a toolbox, and as Maisie spotted it, an idea struck her.

She smiled broadly at him as he approached the lift that had just arrived.

By the time they reached the ground floor, he had introduced himself as James Paterson and they had agreed he would come back the next day and, for a suitable payment, assemble all her furniture.

Meet the Author

Ann Burnett was born in Scotland where she now lives but has travelled extensively and lived in Canada and Australia.

She has published short stories, articles and children’s stories, as well as writing a novel, Loving Mother, as part of her Masters in Creative Writing. She is an experienced Creative Writing tutor and adjudicator for the Scottish Association of Writers.

Her short stories have been published in New Writing Scotland, Glasgow University Creative Writing anthologies, My Weekly, That’s Life (Australia), Woman’s Weekly and the Weekly News. Her collection of short stories, Take a Leaf out of My Book, is available on Amazon.

Her memoir, illustrated with her father’s photos, A Scottish Childhood, Growing up a Baby Boomer has just been published.

But perhaps she is best remembered for writing Postman Pat stories for a children’s comic every week for five years. A labour of love indeed!

• • •

• Find Ann Online •


How I knew he was a keeper #Romance #Love #Marriage

It’s a little known truth that I met Hubby through Lycos Chat. (That’s a chat-room on the internet, just in case there is anyone here from pre-2003. We didn’t have such things as Facebook, Twitter or Tinder back then!) For two years we chatted. I only knew him by his screen-name “Vodkaprince”, and I was known as “Shy_Tiger”. (Hence my Twitter name.) We also had really dodgy photos on our profile pages. So dodgy that I believe they have been “lost”, which means that I can’t share them with you. Damn.

But I looked something like this:


Anyway… After a couple of years, Vodkaprince started bugging me to meet up IRL. Meet up?! Really?! But you could be a mad-axe murderer! I kept putting him off, faking illnesses a few days before we were due to meet, that sort of thing. But eventually I gave in. I was 20 and working as a veterinary nursing student in Lincoln at the time, so we agreed that he would meet me at the surgery. When he turned up, I was not at my best. I had the world’s dodgiest perm, no makeup, and we had just operated on a cat that had resulted in me being sprayed in blood, whilst wearing my ever-so-sexy uniform of trousers and a baggy polo T-shirt. We were running late, so I asked if he wouldn’t mind coming back later. (My flatmate had already warned me not to leave him alone in the flat in case he stole her hi-fi system. Again, it’s 2003. We didn’t have smartphones and iPods.)

A few hours later he returned.

You know that saying: “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach”? Well it goes for women as well. Rich turned up with three bags of shopping, a huge bunch of flowers and the biggest Easter egg you have ever seen. (It was April 2003.) And then he said those words that every woman wants to hear: “I’m going to cook dinner.” I could have swooned right there and then.

The vet and the receptionist started discussing whether it was love or lust. The vet (male) said it was definitely love, while the receptionist (female) said it was lust, we hadn’t known each other long enough. I can promise you, the moment I realised he had filled my fridge and freezer (I was a poor, lowly student vet nurse), it was most definitely love.


He did pizza that night – simple enough. And we watched Top Gear. It wasn’t overly romantic, but I was on call, so we couldn’t drink. The next day (Sunday), I had to go down to the surgery and check on all the animals. I broke my flatmate’s rule and let him stay unattended (to be fair, the flat was above the surgery). I came up at lunch time to find he had cooked lamb chops with curly kale, roast potatoes, and some other veg. I don’t know why I remember the curly kale and roast potatoes, but I do. Probably carrots. Whatever, it was delicious, and yup. I was DEFINITELY in love.

He was romantic, he could cook, he cleaned up afterwards, AND, as the next day was Bank Holiday Monday and I wasn’t on duty, he even came over to meet my family – on the third day of our relationship. Three days, and he met my mum, step-dad, two younger sisters, and my grandparents.

He was a keeper.

New Release: Shopping for a Billionaire’s Wife by Julia Kent


Book Blurb:

Who needs a SWAT team to escape from their own wedding? Me.

My Momzilla turned us into hostages at our own ceremony, so Declan and I are getting married the good old-fashioned way, just like everybody else.

By calling in his private security team, stealing away before the ceremony by helicopter, connecting to his corporate jet and heading for Las Vegas.

The Boston wedding of the year is about to become a trashy Elvis drive-thru ceremony.

Until the best man spills the beans and Mom, Dad, my sisters, his brothers, my maid of honor, my friend Josh, and even my cat, Chuckles, all come along for the ride.

I can’t win, can I?

Oh. Yeah. I already did.

Love conquers all.

Even my crazy family.

Shopping for a Billionaire’s Wife is the 8th book in the New York Times and USA Today bestselling Shopping for a Billionaire series. After Declan convinces Shannon to escape from their own wedding minutes before the ceremony begins, the madcap adventures are just getting started. When the mother of the bride pries their location out of the tortured best man, the whole crazy crew follows the bride and groom to Las Vegas in this romantic comedy from Julia Kent.

SFABW teaser 1.png



“I’m ready to throw my phone into a running jet engine,” Declan says against my mouth, the vibration of his deep voice making me shiver.

“Better than throwing in my mother,” I joke.

His silence makes me stomach clench.

“Declan!” I say with a nudge.

He laughs, the chuckle a tactile sensation I feel through his chest. My hands are still on his neck and back, and he’s pressing his forehead against mine.

“Let’s not talk about Marie right now,” he says.


Without effort, we pivot and return to the path toward the terminal. My wedding dress has a long train, covered in silk, tartan, tulle and what feels like chain mail. Declan seems to anticipate any potential mishap I may experience, expertly shoving various pieces of fabric out of the way so I can move with freedom and grace. Who on earth thought this monstrosity of a wedding dress was a good idea for a July ceremony in Massachusetts?

Oh. Right.

She Who Must Not Be Named.

I love my mom. I do. But I don’t love what the wedding made her become.

We enter the private airport lounge, where a large, thin-screen television is bolted to the ceiling in one corner. When I was a little girl, Dad liked to bring me, Carol and Amy to the local small airport. The place had a diner in it, and we’d order French fries and strawberry milkshakes, spending an hour or two watching the planes land and take off. If we were lucky, a helicopter would come along.

Once, a really friendly pilot let us climb in his plane.

The place is nothing like that little airport. This is where millionaires and billionaires go to avoid the TSA.

The rich really do live different lives than the rest of us.

This lounge is all clean glass and smoky brown leather. If you told me that the same interior designer who decorated James McCormick’s office at Anterdec had done this job, I’d believe you.

It looks like Teddy Roosevelt came back from the dead and demanded his own airport.

The small bar chairs, dark brown and creased with the kind of patina and age that looks shabby on cheaper leather, but chic and old-world sophisticated among the wealthy, are filled with a smattering of men and women, most in their fifties on up.

All of the servers and bartenders are in their twenties, and not a single one has an extra ounce of fat on them. It’s like Crossfit decided to hold a bartender school.

As we walk into the lounge, every single pair of eyes swivels to take us in.

“Why are they staring at us?” I ask Declan, clutching his arm.

“Because you’re wearing a wedding dress and I look like something out of a BBC documentary?” he answers smoothly.

I look down at myself. Look over at him. Take in the kilt, the socks covering his calves, the laces on his special Scottish shoes.


One of the patrons, a man who is sitting next to a woman who looks like an adventurous traveler and not a mannequin on a rich man’s arm, points to the television, then back to us.

“You two on the run?”

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Author Bio:

New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Julia Kent writes romantic comedy with an edge, and new adult books that push contemporary boundaries. From billionaires to BBWs to rock stars, Julia finds a sensual, goofy joy in every book she writes, but unlike Trevor from Random Acts of Crazy, she has never kissed a chicken.

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A-Z of Romance: W is for Weddings

15th April 2006. That was the day I got married, and although it was done as cheaply as possible and having to alter certain parts (i.e. seating plans and dates) to suit other people, it was one of the best days of my life.  So for today’s blog, I thought I’d share some simple moments from the day I went from being Miss Charlotte Leigh, veterinary nurse, to Mrs Charlotte Howard, wife.


Official photo

We got married at Sherborne Castle, Dorset in their Orangery. It rained all morning, but stopped long enough for me to walk down the path, and for us to have our photos. I think this was a sign.


Cake made by my mum

Fortunately for us, my mum makes wedding cakes for a living (or did until recently), so when it came to ours, there was no choice to make. My mum knows me so well that all I did was tell her that I wanted a three tier cake, and that I would be having forget-me-nots (my favourite flower) in my bouquet. Our main colour changed from lilac to cornflower blue after we couldn’t find bridesmaid dresses in any shade of purple, but we managed to incorporate some purple by having fresias as part of our flowers. Mum even managed to match all the shades perfectly, despite living 200 miles away and not having seen the official colours or flowers until the actual day.

at the alter

At the alter

We had a civil service, since neither of us are overly religious. I walked down to my favourite piece of classical music, “Canon in D” by Pachelbel, and we walked out to “Spring from the Four Seasons” by Vivaldi since it was Spring!

first dance

First dance (Savage Garden “I Knew I Loved You”)

It’s hard for me to admit that we met on the internet. After two years of chatting online, we swapped addresses and phone numbers, and fell in love before we’d even met. So, “I Knew I Loved You” by Savage Garden seemed apt as our song. Unfortunately there is a major height difference between us; Rich is 6″3 and I’m 5″0.5. That half inch is very important. Short people will understand.


Rings and flowers

We both exchanged rings. Rich has a plain gold band, and mine is white gold to match my engagement ring. I also wore my Tiger’s Eye bracelet that Rich bought as a gift. My something old, was a necklace I was given as a child when we lived in Oman, worn as an anklet, new was my tiara bought by my mum, I borrowed my veil – it was the same one that my mum wore when she married my dad, and blue was my flowers and bridesmaids.

We plan on renewing our vows in 2016 on our 10th anniversary.

Extract from Four Letter Words

Read Seven Dirty Words? Continue Paige’s story with…

Four Letter Words


Nightmares teased and taunted me that night. Great hulking beasts tore away at my skin. Their gnarled fingers with long, scratching talons, tore at my flesh. I tried to scream, but they had stolen my voice. Breathless, I struggled onward, down the twisting path of infinite darkness. Cackles and howls surrounded me, flooding my senses. I tripped over my own confusion. Even on this one road, with no other way to turn, I knew that I was lost. Everything was lost.

  I scrambled on, clawing my way up the path. My body was heavy, forcing me down as though gravity had increased. It was impossible to stand. I dragged myself through the muck, tears streaming down my face, creating a sea beneath me. If I didn’t find my way home, I was going to drown in my own sorrow.

  The beasts continued to harangue me, spitting putrid bile in my way. I felt sick. I could taste the acrid stomach acid building in the back of my mouth. I gagged on my humility. But nothing was freed. I kept heaving, hoping to relieve some of the weight, make myself lighter so that I could stand.

  Then he was there. TDS stood in front of me. He loomed over my pitiful frame, towering as though he were twenty feet tall, a resolute statue of demanding respect. His stare as pitch black as my surroundings. Soulless.

  “Please help,” I tried to say. But my mouth wouldn’t move. “I’m sorry.” Still no words could be heard.

  An unknown force flipped me over. Invisible restraints held my wrists flat against the cold, hard ground. The ocean of tears soaked through what skin remained. Dirt crawled up my body like tiny insects. I struggled. But against what? There was nobody there.

  TDS was gone, and in his place, a callous reminder of my past. 



If you loved the first one then buy the second you won’t be disappointed!”  

The book pulled me in from the beginning and kept me on my toes throughout.”

A brilliantly written book is a must read…”


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