Welcome, my lovelies. Today I’m very lucky to be joined by the talented Jessica Stevens, author of Behind the Makeup.
Jessica Stevens was born in Northern Ireland and moved to London a few weeks after, where she grew up with her parents and siblings. As a child, she was always writing songs and poems, so it was only natural that Jessica should find her feet in writing Romance. Jessica now lives in Bedfordshire with her husband, their three children and their dog. Much of her working week is spent cooking and looking after their three small children and the family dog. She has been known to mull over storylines all day and sometimes feels she is only ever half listening to conversations, making time to write when her toddler takes a nap or at night when all three children are in bed. At weekends, she tries to spend as much quality time with her family and can often be found roaming the woods and other open spaces, desperately trying to run off some of her boy's endless energy, much to the objection of her growing-up-way-too-fast daughter.
Jessica also has a love for music and can play the piano, though she will tell you that she isn’t very good. You might have guessed from that, Jessica is her worst critic and she will tell you that is what motivates her to try harder to achieve her goals. She is also very talented at knitting, crocheting, and sewing, and is keen to pass on these skills to her daughter so the art does not die out completely. As if that doesn’t make her busy enough, Jessica also loves to take photographs, particularly of flowers and woods.
“There is something magical about capturing the sun rays as it struggles to penetrate the woods, creating that misty blur of condensation, or seeing dew drops on bluebells.”
When things get a little tough, you will find Jessica tending to her various plants, vegetables, and herbs growing in her garden.
“There is nothing more relaxing than taking a wonder around the plants you have grown from seeds, especially on those days when it feels like you have achieved nothing. Right in front of you are living things grown by my children and I for us to eat and enjoy. Their fragrant smells and colours lift my mood instantly.”
Jessica doesn’t know where the future will lead her, but is set on making each day count, and living for the moment.
BookStrand - http://www.bookstrand.com/jessica-stevens
Twitter - https://twitter.com/JPStevens79
Alana Knight has the power to control the minds of animals, including shifters, who want her dead. A tragic past has meant that Alana has spent most of her life in hiding. Concealed as a conservationist she’s helped reintroduce wolves back into the wild. A dead body on her land proves her enemies have found her. She has no choice but to call on her protectors.
Detective Nick Valaskin has been secretly watching over Alana for years. He had vowed to protect her since coming of age. When she calls the police about a dead body on her grounds, Nick takes no chances and goes to her protection. Face to face with his childhood companion, it’s not long before passion burns between them. It puts Alana’s life in more danger than Nick could have imagined. Torn between love and a promise Nick struggles, but together they face Alana’s tragic past in the hope of preventing history from repeating itself.
“Hello, Miss Knight,” he called to her softly. She looked up at his dark, sunken eyes and couldn’t help but pity the man, having worked through the night, and still having to come and speak to her.
“Can I get you a coffee, Detective?” she asked him with a nervous smile.
He looked up at her as she stepped down off the stool and headed round the counter to the kettle, already anticipating his answer to be “yes.”
“Coffee would be great, thanks,” he replied, returning her smile. “I do need to ask you some questions, Miss Knight, about the body and the break-in to your cabin. I don’t want to keep you in the dark here, for your own safety.” He paused, so she turned around and met his gaze. She tucked her long, wavy black hair behind her ear, the way she always did when nerves got the better of her.
“We have found evidence that the two incidents are related,” Nick said, and the sugar container dropped from her hand, spilling its contents all over the side.
Alana was shaking, but she tried to clear up the mess. “I’m sorry,” she muttered. “It was just a shock, that’s all. I’m fine.” She tried to convince him as he put his arms around her. It surprised her how safe she felt in his arms. Nick then nodded to PC Cox to finish the coffee.
She walked with him as he led her out of the kitchen and into the front room.
The room had dark oak wooden floors, which were broken up by a very large, silvery cream shag pile rug, neatly placed in front of a small fireplace. The soft, inviting cream-colored sofa was placed opposite the fire, with a large bay window looking out at the access lane to her property. The walls were cream and the décor broken up with red curtains and cushions for the sofa, and a red-colored beanbag resting at the side of the fireplace.
Around the room there were other red furnishing, lamps and ornaments in the alcoves, but on the whole, it was a very minimalistic room. Usually the room made Alana relax, but that didn’t happen today.
Nick let her go as she sat on the sofa. She sat with her legs tucked up under her as she rested her head back.
If she was scared before, she was shitting herself now. She had known there was more to the body being on her land when Aatu had filled her mind with images of the murdering wolf confused with images of a man. Her fears were further confirmed when she returned to find the cabin broken into. The fact the detective had found evidence to link the two was just the icing on the cake. And now she couldn’t contact her father.
PC Cox entered the room and placed two cups of coffee on the table next to the sofa. Alana managed a quiet “thank you” and he returned her gratitude with a smile.
“Cox,” Detective Sorin said, “you and Lang head on over to the cabin and make sure the forensics have everything they need. Then I want you to circulate the perimeter of the two buildings, see if anything gives.”
PC Cox nodded acceptance of his duties and backed out of the living room. Alana looked at the detective, who was still standing, waiting for him to speak. The silence in the room was broken with the sound of the back door closing as the other two PCs left her house.
Nerves crept through her body, and her skin crawled as the detective slowly removed his dark-gray suit jacket, his eyes focused on her. He stepped closer to where she sat and started to unbutton his shirt at the neck. Alana swallowed hard, unsure of what do to. One part of her mind told her that he was just getting comfortable, while the other part told her to run.
She drew a deep breath as he moved down to the second button. “What are you doing?” Her voice as assertive as she could manage, she tried to hide the panic. It was the way he smiled at her then that had her heartbeat thumping in her ears. It was a slow, easy smile, with eyes that twinkled with mischief as he continued to watch her. He now moved on to the third button and took another step closer to her.
Alana was about to stand up and make a dash for the door as his hand slipped inside his own shirt. Curiosity got the better of her and she sat still, waiting. He pulled out a black threaded necklace with a silver pendant the size of a fifty pence piece.
Instantly she recognized the pendant, and adrenaline pumped through her body and made her feel light headed. She stood up and reached out to touch the circular coin with the figure of a wolf’s head embossed on it. It had the word “Altor” inscribed, meaning “protector” in Latin. An old family name her father had given to his protector, as his father had done before that. She smoothed her thumb over the coin’s surface and looked deep into the detective’s eyes, not trusting what her gut was telling her.
“Alana, your father sent me.”
Buy Link - http://www.bookstrand.com/alana-stevens
Elizabeth Rhey is a world-class singer who has come home to Northwest London to complete the final dates of her last tour. Then her wayward brother gets in trouble with the police again, and she is about ready to wash her hands of him. Only he’s dead. She finds herself caught up in a police investigation, where her past secrets catch up with her.
Gareth Buchanan is Beth’s bodyguard. It wasn’t his chosen career, just one he landed on after taking a break from the police force. When Beth’s brother is killed and the investigation around his death unravels, he finds himself getting very close to Beth. With a desperate need to protect her, Gareth is forced to confront his own ghost.
Both their lives are turned upside down as they find out who is behind her brother’s death. Can they face their past to find peace for their future?
Beth had arrived dressed and ready for the show. Her black bodice style dress accentuated the natural curves of her bust and hips, before it loosened its grip on her body and flared out just below her knee. Her chocolate brown hair was swept up in a messy bun, with the odd curl escaping its pin. At twenty six, she still turned heads in a tracksuit—let alone a figure hugging dress—thanks to her big chocolate eyes and captivating smile that showed her dimples.
She went through her breathing exercises, taking control of the adrenalin pumping through her body. Then she circled her neck to relieve the tension that had built up there.
Now she was ready to take to the stage.
She was escorted from her dressing room, toward the back of the stage, where she would make her entrance. The supporting act had finished their performance, allowing her to get into position. Beth waited for her cue from the stage manager, and then took the first four steps onto the stage in darkness, her silhouette visible to the audience as their chanting turned into screams. Her name was being shouted and they were stamping their feet. This is why she loved her job. The crowed always moved her. As she walked on centre stage the lights flicked on and the screaming grew even more intense. Blinded by the sudden illumination, she listened for the music to start for her first track. Her eyes adjusted to the change in light as she brought the mic to her lips and sang that ever important first note.
* * * *
The after-party on the first night was more of a PR exercise, but it had to be done. Really all Beth wanted to do was curl up in bed and sleep. She never slept well on the road, but while she was in her hometown, she could sleep in her own bed, in her own house. Except she was in the Royal Box, with a number of other celebrities ranging from footballers and their wives, to singers and even the odd MP. She loved that her style of opera music brought a variety of people together.
Beth watched them with interest. She could see a lot more about a person by watching them. She mostly looked at the women, who hung off their boyfriend’s, longer-term partner’s, or husband’s arms. The façade of happiness plastered all over their faces. But you could see the strain on the relationship hidden right behind their eyes. Of course not all of them were unhappy. There were a few couples whose eyes smiled when they caught the sight of their loved one, or when their lover’s hand wrapped itself around their waist. Beth swallowed down the wanting feeling she always got when in such company. One day, she promised herself.
Amanda stood in front of Beth, her eyes watery and her eyebrows furrowed. “What’s the matter Amanda?” Beth asked her PA.
“I need to talk to you, in private, Beth.” Then she led the way out of the Royal Box.
As Beth exited the room, she was met with her manager Matt Anderson and Gareth. Amanda stopped in her tracks and turned to face her.
“It’s your brother, Beth. There was a car accident.”
It was as if time slowed down. Beth could hear the blood rushing in her ears, drowning out Amanda’s words. She looked at all their faces and she knew it was bad.
“Where is he? When did this happen?” She managed to ask, her voice displaying more anger than worry.
“About an hour ago. All we know is that he was involved in some kind of police chase.”
She should have guessed it was something like that. Her brother had been in more trouble than she cared to remember. But she always bailed him out. Not this time. He was going to have to learn to stand on his own two feet and face the consequences. Only yesterday had he argued with her, telling her she was far too prim and proper. He accused her of only having a problem with the way he was because he actually lived his life and didn’t care what other people thought. She told him to leave after he said she was too afraid to live life to its full potential, because she was too scared of making a mistake and having it splashed across the news. Of course she knew he was intoxicated with something or another and was talking utter crap, but his words still stung deep.
“So what does he want this time?” She spat the words out with exactly the required amount of ice.
Amanda took her arm and the woman’s eyes filled with tears again.
“It’s not that simple, Beth,” she whispered. “He didn’t make it.”
Beth took a step back, her gaze fixed on Amanda’s. “What do you mean he didn’t make it?” She almost shouted as panic and dread filled her veins.
“We need to get you out of here,” her manager Matt said. “I’ll go and make the necessary speeches. Amanda, can you travel with Jim and me in the exit car for the press diversion? Until we know more, let’s keep her out of their way. Gareth, can you get Beth to the hospital?”
“Of course,” Gareth replied as he took Beth in his arms and guided her toward her dressing room to gather her purse.
Buy Link - http://www.bookstrand.com/behind-the-makeup