Wednesday, 31 March 2021

Welcome to Romance Author - Sheila Riley

I’m delighted to welcome author, Sheila Riley to my blog.

Sheila Riley - Author

Hello Sheila – I’ve been looking forward to hosting you on Arabella’s Blog and Chit-Chat. Not only because it’s an opportunity to personally thank you for heroically manning the monthly bulletins with all the latest news about the Romantic Novelists’ Association authors and their book releases, but also because I am also eager to discover some of your writing secrets. But before we discover more about your release, The Mersey Mistress, here are a few questions that will hopefully give your readers and followers and insight into some of the things that matter to you.

Arabella: You’ve got an idea for a story, but it has yet to take shape. Where do you start? Do you concentrate on the location in the story, or developing the characters, personalities, and conflicts, or are there other key points you might consider?

Sheila: Hi Arabella, thank you so much for inviting me to take part in your book blog, it is lovely to be here. That is such an interesting question! Let me think. Usually, I will hear a phrase or a question in my head and it has me wondering who is speaking. There is no description at first, I cannot see my main character, because I don’t yet know if this will be my main character. It is the question or the phrase that interests me, and this throws up questions. Then, as I find answers to the questions, the story takes some kind of shape.


Arabella: In your latest release The Mersey Mistress what is the overall theme or premise, and what made you choose this topic?

Sheila:  The Mersey Mistress takes us on a journey in 1910 to that time before the whole world changes in 1914. I love words, obviously. Old words are my favourite, and I came across the words ‘pestiferous liability’, written by a health inspector when he was making a damning report about the old Liverpool housing stock known as The Courts, which had such pretty names, like Primrose Cottage. But, set in dockside Liverpool in1910, the blackened bug-ridden, soot-covered buildings didn’t have so much as a blade of grass, let alone pretty flower gardens. You could get from one end of the courts to the other through a labyrinth of narrow passageways and not see daylight. I imagined what these dismal places must be like, having to negotiate these eerie corridors, and what might lurk around the next corner, as did Anna Cassidy who came into contact with a local bully. This meeting would have tragic and long-ranging consequences that take the reader on a journey from the River Mersey to the Canadian waters of The Saint Lawrence River.


Arabella: Roses, Lilies, or another flower of choice?

Sheila:  I adore flowers and my garden is bursting with them in Summer. My favourites are Lilly of the Valley and Freesias, which reminds me of the time when, aged seven and I was chosen to lead the ceremony in the Crowning of Our Lady. To be chosen was a great honour, and I was beyond excited. I would lead two ladies in waiting and a page boy, who would carry the flower crown on a velvet cushion, and the whole school followed in a procession around the church gardens before the ceremony, held in the school hall. Dressed in white from head to toe, I climbed on a chair and laid the crown of fragrant flowers upon the head of the statue of The Virgin Mary. That heavenly perfume stayed with me all these years, and reminds me of the special joy I felt that day.

Lily of the Valley

Arabella: You’ve arranged to meet with friends and family for an afternoon of fun. In the present socially restricted climate, where do you go and what do you do?

Sheila:  It would have to be at my kitchen table, where conversation, gossip and general chit chat would be had on Zoom. I can’t wait to meet up with friends and family for real.

Arabella: All authors love and need to read. When choosing a book, do you:

a) pick off the shelf?

b) search online?

c) go with friends recommendations?

d) other…

Sheila:  As you can imagine, I probably have more books than Central Library, certainly more than I will have time to read, because I replenish at an alarming speed, drawn in by the blurb or recommendation. I also have a daily email from Bookbub, which have loads of offers that I cannot resist. I try not to browse, but it is impossible. Amazon is also a time stealer, and whereas I would have happily spent long hours in the local library, I now wander into there without leaving my sofa. 


Arabella: Italian, French or English. (I’ll leave it to you to decide if I mean a gourmet meal, a bottle of wine, or a partner!)

Sheila:  I am very cosmopolitan in my taste in food and wine, but my husband is English. 


Arabella: The moment we are published, a career path is usually envisaged. Do you have any aspirations or ambitions for yourself and any future novels you might write?

Sheila:  I love this question!

When writing a novel was just a dream, I imagined, as an author, I would be somebody who had a housekeeper and a gardener. I could see myself in a tranquil countryside setting with thatched cottages and Summer fetes. The reality is much more mundane, and the more popular my novels, the faster my fabulous readers want the next one. So, as I am merely flesh and blood and funny shaped finger joints (from pounding my poor bedraggled laptop keys) I have to keep on writing the next story between filling the washing machine and cooking for the family, and sometimes, when the sun is out, and the soft billowing puffballs drift across an azure sky, I take myself into the garden and I am side-tracked by raised flower beds that need a little pruning, and I cannot think of anything more idyllic.


Thank you for being a super guest on Arabella’s Blog and Chit-Chat, Sheila. I could almost imagine myself sat at your kitchen table with a shared pot of tea and a plate of biscuits as you told all the news about your latest release, The Mersey Mistress

Wishing you all the best.


About Sheila Riley

Sheila Riley - Author

Sheila sets her historical family sagas around the River Mersey and its docklands. Born in Southport she was raised near the river. She was a hairdresser for over thirty years before her love of storytelling encouraged her to put down her scissors and take up the pen. As a ghost-writer she wrote, among other things, four best-selling novels under the name of Annie Groves, which gave her the confidence to write under her own name.



Facebook: Sheila Riley Author


Book Blurb – The Mersey Mistress

The Mersey Mistress, out on 6th April 2021, is set around the Edwardian streets lining Liverpool Docks, where we meet Ruby Swift, a hard-working, straight-talking woman of substance who does not suffer fools gladly. When tragedy strikes, the Cassidy family on a bitter Christmas Eve in 1910, Ruby and her beloved Archie take matters into their own hands as a trusted employee’s house is mysteriously engulfed by flames and lives are lost. Orphaned by the fire, Ruby welcomes heartbroken sixteen-year-old Anna Cassidy into her home and family, but circumstances conspire against them and she is unable to save Anna's twelve-year-old brother Sam Cassidy, who is sent by the Church to Canada as a Home boy.

The Mersey Mistress: The start of a brand new gritty series for 2021 eBook: Riley, Sheila: Kindle Store

The Mersey Mistress | Boldwood ( EBOOK

ISBN: 9781800485761
RRP: £ 2.99


ISBN: 9781800485716
RRP: £ 18.99



 'A powerful and totally absorbing family saga that is not to be missed. I turned the pages almost faster than I could read.' Carol Rivers.

A small selection of five-star reviews on #Netgalley.

This is a story about love and tragedy. A wonderfully charming saga that will at times make you want to cry. I didn't want it to end and couldn't put it down. Kim M. Reviewer #Netgalley

I enjoyed this book. It's very gritty but there are some lighter moments and it is heart-warming. With a strong female lead this book gives you hope. You will need tissues. Zoe M. Reviewer #Netgalley

Loved, loved this beautiful and charming book and am pleased it is the beginning of a new series!  So much to anticipate.  Not only is the writing itself gorgeous with sublime descriptions but the story is simultaneously heart-breaking and heart-warming.  From the first page I practically clung to it and read it in one sitting, fully captivated and ignored responsibilities and life for a while.  And that ending! 

Brenda C. Reviewer #Netgalley

The Mersey Mistress is out on 6th April 2021

Angel of the Mersey is out in November 2021

The Mersey Mothers is out in Spring 2022 

Friday, 26 March 2021

Castell's Passion - Arabella Sheen - EXCERPT 3

Castell’s Passion

Arabella Sheen

A night in his arms, but it comes at a price. Will her heart survive?

Billionaire Marc Castell, owner of the Castell Hotel Group, isn’t looking for love. His jet-set lifestyle means he’s a ‘love them and leave them’ type of guy…that is, until Kate McKenna walks into his life.
Kate is on the warpath. Her underage sister is planning to spend a weekend in Paris with Marc’s nephew, and she’s determined to put a stop to the affair before it begins.
Marc has a plan of his own. He promises to save Kate’s sister from his nephew, but there’s a condition attached. Kate has to travel to Cannes with him and play the part of his girlfriend―including spending the night in his bed. Marc hopes this will solve the problem of the unwanted advances he’s been receiving from his friend’s wife. But whenever Marc takes Kate in his arms his world is turned upside down, and he discovers he wants more from her than a casual weekend fling.
Kate has no time for sexy, powerful playboys. She’s too busy building her career and expanding her catering business. But when she gets to know the man behind the fa├žade, she wonders if she can resist the sensual attraction growing between them. Will she be seduced by his charm and sacrifice everything she believes in for one night of passion in his arms?

Marc has a battle on his hands as he strives to win Kate’s love…and her heart.

Chapter Two - Excerpt 3...


Marc Castell had known many women. He was the head of the large family firm, and was in the billion-dollar bracket of successful. As an eligible bachelor he was much sought after, and some women connived, cajoled, or bribed their way into his social circle in order to meet him. Their aim was always the same. They all wanted to get to know Marc on an intimate level, hoping for a lasting relationship. But Marc wasn’t into long-term commitment. When it came to women and matters of the heart he was a ‘love them and leave them’ type of guy. Over the years he’d become cynical. He’d had to harden his heart against the women of the world, and he’d grown cold to their needs, and uncaring to the point of callousness.
Inheriting the Castell fortune at an early age Marc soon learned what the women in his life wanted from him. It was one thing and one thing only—his money.
He knew it was the erotic pull of his wealth that was the main attraction. He’d had lots of affairs and been approached or propositioned in many ways before, but so far none of the women had used their sister as an excuse to get close. He found it fascinating, even intriguing, and he wondered what Kate’s next move would be.
Kate had a sensuality that was breathtakingly beautiful. The soft curves of her body and the full roundness of her breasts had him wanting to reach out and touch her. But that wasn’t all. There was also an elusive quality that made him want to possess her. As a connoisseur of fine art he knew perfection when he saw it, and as a collector of fine things...he wanted.
When Kate had mentioned Cannes she had reminded him of where he had to be this weekend. It was somewhere he didn’t particularly want to be, but there was no avoiding his responsibilities. This weekend he was spending time with the Anistons, and although they were good friends, this wasn’t a social occasion. This was business.
Marc was in the middle of negotiating a hotel-travel deal, and there was to be an informal party to which the Aniston’s board of directors had also been summoned. They needed to discuss some of the finer details of the proposed contract, and negotiations were going to be tricky.
With Kate’s unexpected suggestion, Marc decided he could use a woman at his side while he was in Cannes. And he wanted this woman.
“How dare you?” Kate said, as if she was infuriated he would even suggest that she go to Cannes with him.
It was obvious Kate had great difficulty controlling her temper, and he wondered if she was about to lash out and strike. She didn’t.
“Oh, I dare,” he said, and he took a step nearer.
He was now so close to her that he was able to run an exploring finger along her soft cheek and then down her slender neck until he reached the hollow at its base. Surprisingly, she didn’t flinch away, and by the hot flush on her cheeks he could tell that his touch was having the desired effect. He was burning her with caresses. Her skin was warm, and as he continued to stroke he felt her tremble in anticipation.
Kate took a step back, but he followed, taking two steps forward so that their bodies were lightly connecting. He could feel her erect nipples pressing against the material of his shirt, and he had to stifle a groan.
Kate’s breathing quickened, and he saw desire flash briefly in her eyes before it was replaced with anger. He wrapped his arms around her and pressed their bodies even closer together. She struggled, pushing against his shoulders, but her struggles were half-hearted at best.
Capturing her hands, he moved them behind her back, holding them imprisoned. Then Marc heard a soft moan of longing escape her lips. The fight had left her, and as she rested her head against his chest he knew she was silently conceding defeat. He had won.
Cradling her in his arms, slowly, ever so slowly, he lowered his lips down to meet and caressingly touch hers. Her lips were soft and pliant, and as he held her helpless against his onslaught her mouth parted, forming an anguished, “No.
No what?” he asked, whispering the words as he nuzzled against the delicate shell-like lobe of her ear.
With one hand still holding hers behind her back, his other hand began gently caressing the line of her jaw. Moving to her mouth, he parted her lips with his thumb, and with a light, delicate touch he explored. Kate gave a strangled whimper.
“There will never be a no between us, Kate,” he said softly, his words a promise. “There will only ever be yes.” He smiled slightly as his gaze searched her face, and then he saw the desperate longing shining in her eyes.
“You can’t...I won’t let you,” she murmured as she trembled against him.
But her protests were futile. He wasn’t taking no for an answer. Touching her full, moist lips with his, he began a raw, bruising invasion of her senses. His kisses were intentionally rough as he searched for a response from deep within her...and he found it.
Kate’s protests were silenced as he plundered her mouth, taking the kisses he wanted, and she surrendered to him.
Marc released his grip on her hands, and with her hands now free, Kate clutched at the material of his shirt. Marc locked his hands around her bared, slender waist, and with long, slow, drawn-out movements he moved upward, cupping the soft mounds of her breasts over her shirt. He heard a sharp intake of breath, and he knew it to be a gasp of pleasurable delight. He was turning her on, and it was giving him a sense of power.
From the first moment they had laid eyes on each other there had been an instant attraction, a sort of electric chemistry between them. And he suspected he was affecting Kate as much as she was affecting him.
Marc Castell—the cold, calculating, playboy billionaire with a heart of steel—was melting. He craved Kate with an urgent need, and he knew by her reaction the feeling was mutual.
“What is it you want from me?” she asked as she tried to break free. Her protests were ineffectual.
“I think you know what I want,” he said. “I want you. I want everything you have to offer.” He knew his words were brutal; they had to be, because he was serious.
“I’m not available, and I have nothing to offer you.”
“Well...we’ll have to try and change that, won’t we?” he said, and he wasn’t joking.
Kate blinked as if she was trying to wake from a dream, and then from somewhere in the room the sound of a cellphone’s ringtone broke the silence.
The continual ringing was claiming Marc’s attention, and with great reluctance he released Kate from his embrace, but not before he had given her another long, possessive kiss.
“Stay where you are,” he commanded, and then running his hands through his hair in frustration, he walked over to his desk.
Picking up the cellphone, he flicked open the case.
“Castell here,” he said. Then looking directly at Kate he continued to talk. “Yes, this is Marc Castell speaking.”
Marc heard Kate’s shocked gasp as the penny drop. She was processing the fact that she’d been talking to the wrong man and that he wasn’t Nikki’s boyfriend, Eduardo. Kate had finally discovered he was Marc Castell.

Castell’s Passion
Copyright © 2016, Arabella Sheen
ISBN: 9781944270384
Publisher: Beachwalk Press, Inc.
Electronic Publication: August 2016
Editor: Pamela Tyner
Cover: Fantasia Frog Designs

eBooks are not transferable. No part of this book may be used or reproduced without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations in articles and reviews.

This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, events or locales is purely coincidental. The characters are productions of the author’s imagination and used fictitiously.

About Arabella Sheen

Arabella Sheen

Arabella Sheen is a British author of contemporary romance and likes nothing more than the challenge of starting a new novel with fresh ideas and inspiring characters.
One of the many things Arabella loves to do is to read. And when she’s not researching or writing about romance, she is either on her allotment sowing and planting with the seasons or she is curled on the sofa with a book, while pandering to the demands of her attention-seeking cat.
Having lived and worked in the Netherlands as a theatre nurse for nearly twenty years, she now lives in the south-west of England with her family.
Arabella hopes her readers have as much pleasure from her romance stories as she has in writing them.

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Arabella Sheen

Wednesday, 24 March 2021

Welcome to Romance Author - AC. Williams

I’m delighted to welcome Alan C. Williams to my blog.


Alan C. Williams - Author

Hello Alan – It was great to connect with you through the Romantic Novelists’ Association and I’m looking forward to reading about some of your writing experiences and secrets. But before we discover more about your latest story, Love in the Golden Sun, here are a few questions that will hopefully give your readers and followers an insight into some of the things that matter to you.


Arabella: When writing a romance are there any key traits, such as virtuously good or shamelessly bad, you like to give your characters?

Alan:  My lead characters are always flawed (as are we all) and even the villains aren’t all bad. Those days of cowboy shows on telly where the heroes wore a white hat and the baddies a black one, are all gone. We are a melange of conflicts and I’m sure that the thought police would have a field day for the number of people I’ve murdered in my mind.

I’m reminded of a quote that the villain sees themselves as a hero in their own story. Obviously, my main characters must grow emotionally in my stories however I pride myself into delving into numerous character traits from phobias, insecurities and dealing with debilitating illnesses as a few examples.

Many of my characters are me and that makes them real (and maybe also a bit scary)


 Arabella: A story has a beginning, middle, and an end. When penning your latest release, ‘Love in the Golden Sun’, which part did you find the hardest to write and why?

Alan: It’s a sort of Western– a bushranger epic in the wilds of 19th century western New South Wales. To be fair it was written as a dare – for myself and other author friends who said ‘Why not?’

The hardest bit for me was the climax end, mainly because I had such an outpouring of ideas and dialogue, I couldn’t put it down quickly enough. My memory isn’t great so I can’t rely on it from one day to the next.  It was a lengthy build-up to the ultimate confrontation and realisation of love at the same time.


Arabella: We all have a long list of books we keep meaning to read but never have the time for --- which book is a must-read for you this season?

Alan:  Hate to say it but I’m not a reader these days. I do enjoy novels by my friends Jill Barry, Niddy Reece and Dawn Knox among other My Weekly Pocketeers. I also enjoy Graphic Novels like Sandman by Neil Gaiman – in some ways I’ve never grown out of comics and my writing often reflects the tension and intricate plot-weaving often found in them. My spare time energies go into writing. Maybe sad but I’ve been an avid SF/Fantasy/Thriller reader most of my long life.


Arabella: Thinking and planning ahead… Your aim is to organise a two week holiday for you and your family. Given the possibility of global travel restrictions, do you:

a) Play safe and camp in the back garden?

b) Take the risk and book a hotel room and flight abroad?

c) Find another solution for a relaxing two-week break?

Alan:  Another solution. Hopefully a driving hol to visit family and explore parts of the UK not seen in years (we live in France). Hotels, caravans, holiday apartments; an awfully big adventure.

Arabella: As a published author, what advice would you give to someone starting out on their writing journey? In other words, what are the pitfalls a budding novelist should try to avoid?

Alan: Assuming your first production will be a masterpiece and sell to the first company you approach. Rejection is hard but it can be a learning exercise. I was lucky that my editor liked my style otherwise I might not have continued as novelists pour so much of themselves and time to produce a work that may never be read. Self-belief is the key (along with grammar and story-telling skills)

Find a story that excites you and must be told.


Arabella:  You’re outside a florist and can’t resist the temptation to buy… Which floral arrangement do you choose?

Alan: This is a trick question because I’m a guy, right? Nice try, Arabella but I do have an answer. A bouquet of perfumed red roses for my darling wife. Not the plastic sort though (I learnt that the hard way but I still maintain they are a better investment in the long run).

Arabella: What about your future plans? Any books or series in the making?

Alan: Loads. Don’t know what yet. Whatever takes my fancy. I usually do a book from inception to final draft in 3 months. Currently working on a fantasy novel about a normal girl who’s a rain-whisperer – based on a short story I sold years ago.  Good ideas can be woven into many different formats and it saves my little brain from becoming too full of different stuff.


Many thanks again for being kind enough to invite me to share my ramblings with your wonderful readers. I love being a writer and following others like me (maybe not so mad). Your blog is a wonderful way to discover the immense talent out there.


Thank you for joining me on Arabella’s Blog and Chit-Chat, Alan. And I hope you have fun on your driving holiday (should you get the chance to cross borders and explore).

All the best for Love in the Golden Sun and wishing you lots of happy-ever-after writing.




 About Alan C. Williams

Alan C. Williams - Author

Alan is a widely published Australian author, concentrating mainly on women’s magazines where he pushes the boundaries way past ‘boy meets girl’ love stories. He has had over fifty short stories published in Australia’s That’s Life. Since 2012, he’s sold stories published in Ireland, Canada and Britain where he is also a regular contributor to Take a Break magazine.

His tales cover crime, fantasy, science fiction, romance and thrillers, usually set in the here and now.

In the past three years, Alan has chosen to include novels in his writing repertoire, selling, at time of this publication, ten novels set in England, America and Australia. They have been distributed and sold country-wide as paperbacks throughout Britain and Australasia. To date, eight of these are available in libraries worldwide in large print published by Linford Romance.

2021 has seen Alan already with four books lined up for publication and his short story collection ‘The Rain, The Park and Other Things’ by Ginninderra Press in Australia is on sale worldwide.

He had vowed never to write a western but recently ‘accidentally’ wrote Love in the Golden Sun- a bushranger story set in the Australian colonies. It is his tenth My Weekly novel.

Despite being both male and Australian, he is a member of the RNA (Romantic Novelists Association) and the RWA (Romance Novelists of Australia). It seems that, like many of his stories, the impossible is possible after all.

Alan is a retired Science teacher and Financial Services Manager, currently exiled and living in France, residing in a 17th century stone farmhouse with his long-suffering wife, Anne, and maniacal cat, Zorro.


His continuing writing story can be found at:







Book Blurb - Love in the Golden Sun



It’s New South Wales 1877. Newly appointed teacher, Grace Stevens, meets the enigmatic bushranger, Major Midnight, on her way to Jerilderie by stagecoach. As well as cash, he steals a kiss from her awaking forbidden passions in the young woman. The adventure that follows reveals shocking secrets about the dashing thief, leading her and the Major in a quest to stop other bushrangers and save her new friends as well as the fledgling colonies of Australia from certain catastrophe.

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