Okay first and foremost I want to say thank you to all the bloggers who have taken part so far in the Oxford Shadows tour and all the lovely readers who have contacted me.
So, if you have already read OS, you know that this ends with a cliffhanger. I know, I know, some of you got quite frustrated with it, especially because I haven’t shared any information about when the next book is out and what will be the last episode in the Oxford trilogy. The next few months are quite busy for me since I’m releasing No Reverse, a NA contemporary romance, in August. I have another contemp romance scheduled for December (I’ve started writing it) and on top of all that I’m also having a baby some time in June
So here is what I can promise: there will be a cover and blurb reveal for the third book in the trilogy in September. I’m planning to release the last book early 2014.
Please believe me when I say that I’m hard at work. I want for all of us to find out how Madison and Rupert find their Happy Ever After! They will, I promise, BUT it ain’t gonna be easy.
Florence ~ June 1533
The River Arno swallows my body. I float, I fly, I fall. I do not try to move or fight. The stream engulfs the pleats of my billowing dress and drags me closer to the darkness. My arms are spread wide; my eyes stare at the unknown.
Whatever—whoever—awaits me on the other side, I will bow and curtsy. I will bid farewell to the despair that has wrecked my hopes, trampled on my love. The wait has been so long, so lonely, and in vain.
He did not come back for me but wedded another. A prettier one, a younger one, a luckier one. With fading strength, I unclench my fingers and let the lily drift away. The flower vanishes in the tumultuous waters. My sight has become blurred, and my chest burns until the pain disappears.
Death is an escape.
Death will be my new beginning.
Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford ~ Today
Madison stared at the man, her eyes glued to the blood smeared across his face. His lips mouthed words that the music of the orchestra rendered silent. Dread wrapped a heavy blanket around her heart and numbed her brain. Her fingers dug into her thighs. She forced herself to swallow, only for her mouth to turn bone dry.
He wasn’t real. He couldn’t be.
Rupert, by her side, hadn’t reacted to the apparition. His stepmother, Camilla, over whom the bloodied man hovered, didn’t even twitch at his proximity.
Camilla sat beside Rupert’s father Hugo, opposite Madison and Rupert, on the other side of the chancel, The Martyrdom of Saint Thomas Becket spread across the window above them. Camilla paid attention only to the musicians and singers who performed in front of the High Altar. She caressed the curve of her swollen belly, pregnancy giving her a contented glow.
The melody—a Renaissance ballad—had faded from Madison’s consciousness. She couldn’t distinguish the lute from the harp or the violin. They meshed into a distant noise. She registered only the details of the man’s ancient clothing. A reddish hat with two golden buttons topped hair that he wore chin length. A jeweled collar of roses crowned his purple overcoat, trimmed with dark fur.
To break the spell the vision had cast, Madison shifted her gaze upwards to the vaulted ceiling from which lantern-shaped pendants appeared to hang in midair. Ribs and stone met at the center of the vault to form pointed stars, a tease of heaven for the faithful.
Rupert’s fingers were intertwined with hers. The warm contact gave her strength. Madison turned her face and studied his profile. Her heartbeat stalled, then restarted. Rupert Vance was her boyfriend, confidant, and unofficial bodyguard.
Suddenly darkness collapsed around her. Shapes and forms blurred, although the ballad kept resonating through Christ Church Cathedral. A chilled rush of air brushed over her face, and the short hair on the nape of her neck rose in apprehension. Candlelight flickered instead of the electric lamps that had illuminated the room seconds earlier.
And then, silence.
Someone—the ghost, for that was what her vision had shown—had pressed the mute button. Madison was the only audience for his show. He shook his head. Was it in anger or frustration? Madison didn’t know. He leaned forward, his head now above Camilla’s shoulder. He stared at her from the corner of his eyes. His gaze slowly moved across the chancel, from the pregnant woman to Madison.
Air was trapped in Madison’s lungs. She let out a lungful of oxygen. Fear played havoc with her breathing.
The man opened his mouth and started talking. His words came like the delayed echo of thunder across a summer sky. “The girl will die before she is born. So will her mother.”
The threat punched Madison in the stomach. She bent under the shock and let out a moan. A woman sitting in front of her threw a frown back at her. Rupert’s hold on her hand tightened. Her eyes shut, she blocked out the world around her, even him. She had to. Survival mode. When her eyelids lifted again, she checked the spot where the ghost had been.
He was gone.
Camilla wasn’t her friend, but she didn’t deserve to die at the hands of a homicidal ghost. Nor did her unborn daughter: Rupert’s sister. Rupert’s blood.
Here we are… One week to go and we will be able to step back into the Oxford trilogy. We left Madison and Rupert in their “Happy For Now” but I guess it was pretty clear to everyone these two were just at the start of the journey… So much more is coming their way: more ghosts, more voodoo and more challenges for their love. And sometimes it will be all happening at the same time!
A lot of people have said how excited they are to read about the Tudors, so hopefully I’ll make a few people happy.
Now, of course, there will be a few presents for those of you who will follow the blog tour next week.
* a signed copy of Oxford Whispers
* a signed poster of Oxford Shadows
* a $10 Amazon gift card* an Oxford University t-shirt
I’m very excited for the release. Will get in touch later this week with some teasers and the blog tour stops.
Lots of love,
I hope you all had a wonderful Easter break. Here in the UK, we have both Friday and Monday off, so it was nice. I couldn’t pass on sharing a little treat with you. On Sunday, the 2013 Varsity Race took place in London. Oxford won, upsetting the odds.
If you’ve read Oxford Whispers, you’ll know that my dashing hero, Rupert Vance, is part of the Oxford rowing team and takes part in the Varsity Race.
Yesterday I was at Buried Under Books with the lovely Lelia talking about the paranormal in Oxford Whispers. If you want to read about it and have the chance to win a signed print copy of Oxford Whispers or a ecopy, click here.
So, yes that’s official… The Book Tour for Oxford Shadows is starting on May 6th. I was humbled by the interest and support of bloggers for the tour we organized for OXFORD WHISPERS back in January. If you’re a blogger and would like to review Oxford Shadows/Oxford Whispers, you’ll just need to fill the form available on ATOMR website (click here).
The eARCs will be available early April AND I’m currently brainstorming ideas for the GIVEAWAY!
Thanks in advance for your interest. I hope you’ll enjoy the ride.
Here are the winners of the Oxford Whispers giveaway.
Print copy of Oxford Whispers – Cherie Stokes, from Australia.
Ecopy of Oxford Whispers – Sarah, Josie, Tara, Melissa, Shamara, Zeynep, Kirstie, Jas.
I have now sent all the ecopies. If you haven’t received your price, please contact me through the website, FB or Twitter. Cherie ~ I’m mailing the print copy this week.
Thank you all for participating.
This is a guest post I wrote for RoloPoloBookBlog. For the original post, click here.
Title: The Wounded Cavalier Artist: William Shakespeare Burton Medium: Oil on canvas Size: 36″ x 41″ Location: Guildhall Art Gallery, London Image Source: Wikimedia Open Source
For the first book, I’ve drawn inspiration from a Pre-Raphaelite painting by William Shakespeare Burton, titled The Wounded Cavalier. It’s set during the English Civil War. I used to spend hours as a teenager staring at it on my bedroom’s wall. No Tom Cruise or Brad Pitt for me!
I can’t explain how the idea of threading the stories of the Cavalier, the Maiden and the Puritan with that of Madison and Rupert has come to me. I guess we’d call that creativity! But the Cavalier’s story is the first story I told to myself as a teenager. I kept wondering what happened to those three characters, what were their backgrounds, secret love and heartbreaks. I could feel it wasn’t a happy ending though. So through Oxford Whispers, I’ve managed to give them some kind of second chance and redemption.
The second book in the trilogy is titled Oxford Shadows. Again, I’ve used an artwork as a starting point for the plot. This time it’s music, a melody titled Greensleeves. It’s very famous here in England. One of the reasons is that Henry the Eighth is rumored to be the composer. He would have written that piece of music during his courtship of Anne Boleyn… But I put my own spin on it.
No idea for the next and final installment though… Totally open to suggestions!