**The Alpha Match Blog Tour and Author Interview with Leigh Archer**

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We are thrilled to be participating in the Blog Tour for Leigh Archer’s latest release The Alpha Match, set in the South Africa. The novel is one in which the central characters are given a second chance at their romance whilst grappling with the practicalities of re-introducing an endangered species of wild dogs in to the bush. It has all the hallmarks of a fascinating and romantic read and we are honoured to be given the opportunity to interview Leigh about the release and her work as an author!

After reading the interview, please scroll down and read the blurb and an excerpt from The Alpha Match and enter the Rafflecopter giveaway. ❤

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Hi Leigh. Thank you so much for agreeing to be in the hot seat at A Reader’s Review Blog. It’s great to have the opportunity to quiz you about yourself, your writing process and Alpha Match, your latest release.

1. Can you tell us a little about your background and how long you have been writing?

I’m a traveller when it comes to writing. Originally training as a journalist, then specializing in communications, which saw me working for global corporates as well as a tiny art museum. For me, journalism and communications has been like hang gliding or having a whirl in a helicopter; while writing a novel has been like growing wings, stepping off the edge and flying, unaided.

Until quite recently I’d written about serious matters, even the ugly side of life so writing my first romance – The Alpha Match – and having it published by Tirgearr Publishing has been a wonderfully uplifting experience.

2. You’ve set this novel in the African bush, which is a fascinating backdrop to a romance. Is it an area of the world you are familiar with and how much research did you carry out whilst writing it? Did you learn anything during the research that surprised you?

I was lucky enough to grow up in South Africa so spent much of my childhood – when I wasn’t in a classroom – exploring nature reserves, hiking, climbing mountains and playing on the beach. The children in my family have grown up in a similar way.

I’ve explored my own country quite extensively – and South Africa really is a world in one country: cities, forests and woodlands, beaches, deserts and savannah plains filled with lions, elephant and giraffe. I’ve tried to capture in my novels the romanticism of the African bush which can be a simple tent that trembles with the base-notes of roaring lions or the extreme luxury of a bush lodge that caters to every possible whim of the most discerning traveller.

In The Alpha Match, conservationists introduce African wild dogs into two South African reserves which results in some heart-pounding and moving moments. I hadn’t expected to be so intrigued by the lives of wild dogs, also called painted dogs. They have an ancient pedigree – judging by the use of their image by Egyptians, they seem to symbolise order over chaos and the transition from the wild to domestic. The San people of Southern Africa have a story that connects the dog indirectly to the origin of death – the hare is cursed by the moon to be forever hunted by African wild dogs after the hare rebuffs the moon’s promise to allow all living things to be reborn after death. Efforts are being made to keep these wonderful dogs from tipping into extinction but with mixed results. After writing The Alpha Match, I hope with all my heart that the world never loses its paint dogs.

3. What was your inspiration for writing Caro and Ben’s story?

I wanted to explore the lengths we’ll go to avoid being hurt in relationships. Caro and Ben must work together again four years after the end of their love affair. Theirs is a journey of discovery and they have some hard lessons to learn about pain, vulnerability, pride and the importance of communication. Right from the beginning I was rooting for these two strong characters; that the beauty of the bushveld and their common purpose of wildlife conservation would be enough to heal the wounds of the past.

4. What did you find were the most challenging aspects of writing it?

I was at great pains to balance the story of the painted dogs and Africa’s large and unique beauty with Ben and Caro’s story. The other challenge was time, of course, which is not a friend to any of us. It does make an enormous difference when you’re doing something that brings so much enjoyment.

5. What is your writing process like? To what extent do you plan the characters and plot and how much do you just let the words flow?

I would never set off on a hike or bush drive without deciding a basic route. I’d also take a supply of water, something to eat, a small first aid kit, sunblock, a hat and an emergency plan. What happens once I’m out there is up to nature and the path I’ve taken. I approach writing in a similar way. I do some basic planning and preparation but it’s magical when things happen along the way that you hadn’t expected.

6. What motivates you to sit down and write and how do you cope if you experience writer’s block?

I think we all have a way of expressing who we are and the events of our lives in a way that feels natural to us, usually developed in the uninhibited years of childhood. I think that turns into cooking or motherhood, running a business, organising or writing. I feel the urge to write the way another person might feel the urge to bake a batch of delicious biscuits, organising a children’s party that will delight, or have a good day at work.

7. If you could give an aspiring author one tip, what would it be?

Experiment. Be brave, be daring. Write something funny, risqué or scary and get people you trust to give you feedback. You might not think you’re particularly funny, but your characters could have people in stitches. A good place to start is to discover what you’re passionate about and keep practicing. Writing is one activity in which quantity does usually lead to quality.

8. Have you any favourite genres or authors you like to read yourself?

I have an eclectic reading appetite because, for me, reading has many purposes. Sometimes I’d like to be moved or scared. There are times I want to be informed, learn something new. And at other times, I want to escape and feel good about the world. Two favourite authors that immediately come to mind are JK Rowling because she’s so brave and imaginative, and Lauren Beukes for her scary talent and original stories.

9. Can you share with us about what you are working on at the moment?

I’m working on book #3 in the Untamed Safari Series – Wetlands – the story of award-winning wildlife filmmaker, Adrian Barnard, who first appeared in The Alpha Match. He is tasked with making a documentary about a multi-purpose development being built close to sensitive wetlands. His life takes an unexpected turn when he develops a powerful attraction for Dani who heads the corporation behind the new development after her father’s sudden disappearance from the corporate world. Adrian is hell-bent on protecting the sensitive wetlands and its wildlife while Dani has everything to prove to her father’s board of directors.

And Moonflower, the second in the Untamed Safari Series, is now available for pre-launch order – Moonflower.

10. And finally, have you a message for readers?

Africa, and South Africa, is often reported in the media as a place of pain and poverty but it has many different faces. Whether you have travelled to Africa or never set foot on the continent, I hope you will get to travel through some of its exotic beauty, luxury and wildness through the Untamed Safari Series. Happy travelling and, who knows, we might just get to meet one day.

Once again, thank you Leigh for taking time out of your busy schedule. We wish you the best of luck with the release of Alpha Match and your career as a writer. ❤

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EXCERPT

As soon as Caro stepped off the plane at Johannesburg’s OR Tambo Airport, her heart began to thunder like the hooves of a herd of stampeding zebra. She had no idea who was waiting for her in Arrivals. Her gut told her it would not be Ben, but she couldn’t be sure.

The wild thudding in her chest grew stronger as the passenger shuttle neared the terminal.

She never had this problem with animals, which is why she enjoyed being around wild dogs. Unless directly threatened, they would never try to hurt you. Once you had been accepted, they were loyal, gentle and affectionate. The laws of the wild were so much easier to understand than those of the heart.

As she waited at the luggage carousel, perspiration broke out on her upper lip and she fanned herself with her ticket. She congratulated herself for having worn a pair of low-slung black trousers and a cropped white shirt. At least a sliver of her midriff was getting some welcome ventilation.

Thanks to some deep breathing exercises, she had her nerves under control. Until she walked into the arrivals hall, then it was galloping zebra all over again. There was a huge lump in her throat as people rushed forward to embrace friends, relatives and lovers, and children were hoisted laughing into the air. She had not returned to Johannesburg for four years, even though she had once thought this would become her home. Now she was just a visitor, but in some strange way another part of her felt as if she’d come home.

That made her think of Ben again.

She tried to reassure herself that he would not be here to meet her. Judging by the way he had discarded her all those years ago, he had probably barely registered that they would be working together again. Caro braced herself for their meeting, but still… not yet. Please, not yet.

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BLURB AND BUY LINKS

English conservationist, Caro Hannah, and South African, Ben Duval, must work together to introduce endangered African wild dogs to a game reserve four years after their love affair ended. The challenges of their profession pale into insignificance beside the personal obstacles they must overcome to either bring closure to the events of four years before, or reignite a passion hot enough to burn up the African bush.

The Alpha Match is the first in a series set in the African bush where luxury tented camps and romantic hideaways are havens for royals, celebrities and the adventurous at heart. The Untamed Safari Series places unforgettable men and women in this captivating setting and holds its breath as they play out their passions. Moonflower, book #2 in the series has just become available for pre-launch order – Moonflower.

The Alpha Match at Amazon.com

The Alpha Match at Amazon UK

The Alpha Match at Tirgearr Publishing

The Alpha Match at Smashwords

The Alpha Match on Apple

The Alpha Match on Kobo

The Alpha Match on Nook

AUTHOR BIO AND LINKS  

Leigh Archer author pic

Leigh writes romance novels set in her native South Africa. She has always had a love affair with Africa’s wild open spaces, the intensity of its people and sunsets. Her love of storytelling began as a child when she spent every spare moment playing barefoot in golden grass, watching wild creatures, learning to track spoor and dreaming up heroes and heroines dynamic enough to stand out in all the beauty and drama of the African landscape.

Always in search of adventure, Leigh’s journey as a writer has taken her from journalism through communications, to writing novels.

Website – http://leigharcher.net/

Twitter – Leigh Archer

Facebook – Leigh Archer

Tirgearr Publishing Author Page – Leigh Archer

Amazon Author Page – Leigh Archer

GIVEAWAY!

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Make sure to follow the whole tour—the more posts you visit throughout, the more chances you’ll get to enter the giveaway. The tour dates are here: http://www.writermarketing.co.uk/prpromotion/blog-tours/currently-on-tour/leigh-archer/

 

RELEASE BLITZ ~ **Little Boxes,** by Ceilia J Anderson

Little Boxes by Celia J Anderson (@celiaanderson1) Out Now!

#romance #contemporary #novel #book

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 Blurb: 

Suddenly bereaved, Molly White realises that she has never really known her feisty husband Jake when random boxes begin to appear through the post, each one containing a tantalising clue to the secrets of Jake and Molly’s past. Someone who knows them both well, for reasons of their own, has planned a trail of discovery. The clues seem to be designed to change Molly’s life completely, leading her around Britain and then onwards to rural France and deepest Bavaria. 

Meanwhile, waiting in the wings is Tom, a charismatic artist who runs a gallery in the same town. Strong, independent and wheelchair-bound from the age of fifteen, he leads a solitary life and has no idea how devastatingly attractive he is to women. When Tom meets curvy, beautiful and funny Molly, he knows that she is his dream woman, but she seems way out of his orbit until the boxes start to weave their spell and the two of them are thrown right out of their comfort zones.

 Buy links: http://celiajanderson.co.uk/books/little-boxes/

Add to Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23360501-little-boxes  

Excerpt:

Tom sat on the beach in the spring sunshine, eating cockles out of a tub and gazing rather grimly at the incoming tide. If it came much closer he’d have to abandon his painting for the day – it took a good twenty minutes to pack up and get back to his car on the promenade. As he licked his fingers and screwed up the seafood carton, there was a scrunch of pebbles and a whoosh of air as a small boy thundered past, whooping at the top of his voice. He was followed at speed by the most desirable woman that Tom could ever remember seeing in this small seaside town. It was his Lady in Red; the one who had been cropping up in his dreams far too often since he’d first seen her on the beach. Her hair was an explosion of dark curls, and she wore tight orange jeans with a wildly clashing crimson sweater that came almost to her knees. Tom took a deep breath to say hello but he was too late.  

‘Max… MAX… don’t go near the sea. I mean it!’ she bellowed, skidding straight into Tom as she chased the boy across the pebbles. ‘Sorry, sorry… have I hurt you? Is your painting wrecked? Oh – wow; it’s good, isn’t it? You can tell it’s meant to be the pier. I’m really, really sorry…’  

Tom picked himself up and put his painting chair the right way up again. ‘Hey, it’s okay – you can fall over me any time,’ he said, grinning into her startlingly green 

She blinked and looked away, her lovely face matching the colour of her sweater. Shielding her eyes with a hand, she scanned the beach for the boy. ‘Where’s he gone, the little toad? Ah, there he is, he’s making something out of a heap of stones – at least he’s not paddling fully dressed like last time. Oh hell, you don’t even know me and I’ve already wrecked your work. I’m Molly. I think I’ve seen you here before, haven’t I? Let me fix your painting.’  

She bent down to see if she could repair the damage and Tom held out a hand to stop her trying to brush bits of stone off his picture. ‘No, honestly, it’s fine, I’ll sort it out. I’m Tom, and I’ve seen you, too. You’re easy to remember.’  

‘Am I? Why?’  

‘Lots of reasons – you often seem to be in a hurry, you always wear something red, you’ve got lots of kids, you’re gorgeous…’ Tom stopped in confusion.

‘Gorgeous? Me? Do you need your eyes testing or something?’ Molly blushed again and looked at him properly for the first time. ‘I’m sorry, that was really rude,’ she said. ‘My mum’s always telling me I don’t know how to take a compliment.’  

‘Don’t worry, maybe you just need a bit more practice.’ Tom bent to carry on sorting his painting kit out. He couldn’t help noticing how her eyes rested on his forearms as he finished tidying up and, clearly aware of his scrutiny, she reddened even more.  

‘You’re very strong, aren’t you?’ she blurted out. Tom laughed. ‘I guess I have to be, don’t I? If you’ve seen me before, you’ll know why.’  

‘I don’t want you to think I’ve been staring at you, Tom. It’s just that you’re… um… different to most of the men round here.’ 

‘Tell me about it.’ Tom slung his bag over one shoulder and heaved himself out of his folding chair.  

‘Can I help you at all?’ Molly asked, standing on tiptoes to get a better view of the shoreline. ‘Oh look, here are the other two Musketeers. They can carry something for you, if you like.’  

‘I don’t need any help, thanks.’ Tom bit back the familiar feeling of irritation and smiled up at a pair of girls, dressed entirely in black, who had stopped next to him. The taller one had multiple piercings. Both girls were scowling.  

‘Mum, what are you like?’ said the pierced one. ‘We saw you knock the paints all over the place. You’re so clumsy. Have you seen what Max is doing now?’  

Molly looked again. The small boy had been jumping off his pile of stones and had landed awkwardly the last time. He began to wail. ‘Max! I told you last time not to do that. Hang on, I’m coming,’ Molly shouted. The girls sighed and rolled their eyes at Tom as they watched their mum slither off over the stones to the sandy stretch by the sea, where Max was now hurling the biggest rocks he could find into the waves. The pierced girl turned to the smaller one.

‘Bloody hell, why doesn’t she just leave him alone for a bit? The only place he can go is into the sea.’  

‘But he’s only little – he can’t swim.’  

‘Exactly.’ The older girl smirked as they wandered off down the beach.  

Tom sighed. Another opportunity lost; still no nearer to finding out more about his dream woman. Oh well, at least he knew her name now. On the other hand, it didn’t take a genius to work out that she was already taken. The wedding ring gave it away, even if the children didn’t.

 Author Bio:

Celia J Anderson spends most of her spare time writing in as many different genres as possible, including children’s fiction. In her other life, she’s Assistant Headteacher at a small Catholic primary school in the Midlands and loves teaching literature (now comfortingly called English again but still the best subject in the world.)

She tried a variety of random jobs before discovering that the careers advisor at secondary school was right, including running crèches, childminding, teaching children to ride bikes (having omitted to mention she couldn’t do it herself) and a stint in mental health care. All these were ideal preparation for the classroom and provided huge amounts of copy for the books that were to come.

Celia enjoys cooking and eating in equal measures, and thinks life without wine would be a sad thing indeed. She is married, with two grown up daughters who have defected to the seaside. One day she plans to scoop up husband and cats and join them there.

Links:

http://celiajanderson.co.uk

http://theromaniacgroup.wordpress.com

https://www.facebook.com/CeliaJAndersonAuthor

http://www.twitter.com/CeliaAnderson1

*BLOG TOUR, REVIEW & GIVEAWAY* ~ Devil’s Return (Allan’s Miscellany #4)

LOVED this sparkling, original and emotionally intense Victorian romance. Devil’s Return is the first work I’ve sampled by Sandra Schwab and after reading it I’m eager to become acquainted with her backlist and future works. Scroll down to read the blurb for this novella and read my review. Tina 🙂

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Devil’s Return
by Sandra Schwab
Allan’s Miscellany #4
Publication Date: August 15, 2014
Genres: Historical, Romance

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Synopsis

Seven years ago Fran and Alex were very much in love. Yet because Alex was only a younger son with no prospects to speak of, Fran’s family pressured her into breaking the engagement and marrying a rich, titled man instead. Filled with bitterness, Alex left England for the New World.

Now he is back, more dangerous and more cynical than ever before. He has found fame and fortune as an adventurer, traveling the world from America to the Near East and writing about his travels for Allan’s Miscellany. He has come to London to drum up interest for his friend’s archeological excavations. Soon, he finds himself the darling of London society, admired by men, wooed by women.

Fate has not been so kind to Fran. After a disastrous marriage, which has left her with deep emotional and physical scars, she is widowed and now lives in genteel poverty.

By chance, Alex and Fran’s paths cross again. They have both changed so much, and past betrayals and past hurts still divide them. So surely there can be no second chance for their love…

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My Review

 Sparkling, Original and Emotionally Intense! 

Oh My! What an emotionally gripping Victorian Romance! The novella was a pure delight to read and I’m now eager to become acquainted with Sandra Schwab’s backlist and future works.

Devil’s Return is book #4 in the Allan’s Miscellany series and the tale gives the hero Alex and the heroine Fran a second chance at love –  before I go any further a box of tissues is an absolute must! My heart went out to them both – Fran, compelled by her family to walk away from Alex and marry an older man and Alex, a younger son with little prospects, who felt so rejected that he went abroad. Yet after seven years their fortunes have changed. Alex, the ‘devil’ of the title is a most eligible (not to mention sexy) gentleman, who has London at his feet after having his adventures and accounts of archaeological discoveries shared in the Allan’s Miscellany. After unexpectedly meeting Fran in London he is shocked at how she has changed and although initially determined to resist the pull she still exerts on him, fate has other ideas…..

Fran by contrast is now an impoverished widow, nursing many scars, physical and emotional, which we learn about as the plot evolves. Although I suspected some of what had occurred I admit I cried buckets when Alex found out the truth and more so when he confronted Fran with his knowledge. Bravo to the author for such an original and engaging plot, which I will not divulge any further in this review as it would spoil the read. Suffice to say that Fran has great fortitude and is a heroine who thoroughly deserves a HEA.

The novella is a far cry from doom and gloom however. It veritably fizzes with sparkling wit and repartee amongst the Victorian intelligentsia. Indeed, it makes for a totally charming, highly original and entertaining read. It is full of fascinating characters, whose own stories and romances I am eager to read about. I strongly recommend it to all readers who love romance.

I was given a copy of this novella for the purpose of a fair and honest review.

About the Author

Sandra Schwab

Award-winning author Sandra Schwab started writing her first novel when she was seven years old. Thirty-odd years later, telling stories is still her greatest passion, even though by now she has exchanged her pink fountain pen of old for a black computer keyboard. Since the release of her debut novel in 2005, she has enchanted readers worldwide with her unusual historical romances.

She holds a PhD in English literature and lives in Frankfurt am Main / Germany with a sketchbook, a sewing machine, and an ever-expanding library. Her new series about the fictional magazine Allan’s Miscellany combines her academic research on Victorian periodicals with her love for story-telling.

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