Interview and Giveaway: Gwyn Cready, Author of Just in Time for a Highlander


[Manga Maniac Cafe]  Good morning, Gwyn!   Describe yourself in five words or less.

[Gwyn Cready] Etsy-shopping, Scrabble-playing, hot-bath-loving kilt tipper.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Just in Time for a Highlander?

[Gwyn Cready] Just in Time for a Highlander, and the whole Sirens of the Scottish Borderlands series, is a reversal of the usual time travel Highlander romances with the woman traveling back in time. In JITFAH, young, beautiful and fiercely independent Abby Kerr, the head of Clan Kerr, seeks the help of a fortune teller in order to find a strong arm who can help her maintain order over her men in the borderlands of 1705. But this is clearly a case of “Be careful what you wish for” because she ends up with Duncan MacHarg, a dashing Scot working on Wall Street in the twentieth century who knows little about clans and nothing about fighting battles—until she teaches him.

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Cover Shot! The Historians by Trisha Leigh

Cover Shot! is a regular feature here at the Café.  I love discovering new covers, and when I find them, I like to share.  More than anything else, I am consumed with the mystery that each new discovery represents.  There is an allure to a beautiful cover.  Will the story contained under the pages live up to promise of the gorgeous cover art?

ZOMG! I love, love, LOVE this cover!  I love all of the details in the bridge and the pillars, and those glasses – they rock!  The premise looks awesome, too.  In stores July 2013



*If you could learn the identity of your one true love—even knowing you’d probably never meet—would you do it?*

Years have passed since refugees from a ruined earth took to space, eventually terraforming a new system of planets. Science has not only made the leaps necessary to allow time travel, but the process engineered a strange side effect—predicting people’s one true love.

The problem? If only one soul ever has been born, or will be born, that perfectly matches yours, the chances the two will exist in the same time and place are almost zero. It’s rare enough that the predictions have been reduced to a game, a parlor trick, and no one expects a happily ever after with their True.

*If you had the chance to meet your one true love—even knowing you couldn’t be together—would you go?*

Seventeen-year-old Kaia Vespasian is an apprentice to the Historians—a group charged with using time travel to document the triumphs and failures of the past—and can’t resist a peek at her long-dead one true love. Before she knows it, she’s broken every rule in the book, and the consequences of getting caught could be disastrous.

*If you could save your one true love from a terrible, untimely death, would you be able to resist?*

When Oz Truman, a fellow apprentice, discovers Kaia’s secret, he shows her the predicted trajectories that could result her from altering the history of ancient Egypt. They prove that if Kaia doesn’t ensure her True dies as he’s supposed to, the effect on the present will be catastrophic.

*Would you have the strength to watch them die?*

But when Kaia she notices Oz popping up in historical archives where he doesn’t belong, she suspects he has a secret of his own—and the conspiracy she uncovers breaks worse rules than traveling to ancient Egypt to meet a boy.

If Kaia’s experience with her one true love has taught her anything, it’s that no alteration to history comes without consequences. The Historians trained her to observe and record the past, but Kaia never guessed she might have to protect it—especially not from the people she trusts.

Waiting on Wednesday–All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill


Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

I love time travel books, and All Our Yesterdays by Cristing Terrill looks fantastic.  I love the cover, too!


"You have to kill him." Imprisoned in the heart of a secret military base, Em has nothing except the voice of the boy in the cell next door and the list of instructions she finds taped inside the drain.

Only Em can complete the final instruction. She’s tried everything to prevent the creation of a time machine that will tear the world apart. She holds the proof: a list she has never seen before, written in her own hand. Each failed attempt in the past has led her to the same terrible present—imprisoned and tortured by a sadistic man called the doctor while war rages outside.

Marina has loved her best friend James since the day he moved next door when they were children. A gorgeous, introverted science prodigy from one of America’s most famous families, James finally seems to be seeing Marina in a new way, too. But on one disastrous night, James’s life crumbles apart, and with it, Marina’s hopes for their future. Now someone is trying to kill him. Marina will protect James, no matter what. Even if it means opening her eyes to a truth so terrible that she may not survive it. At least not as the girl she once was.

All Our Yesterdays is a wrenching, brilliantly plotted story of fierce love, unthinkable sacrifice, and the infinite implications of our every choice.


What are you waiting on?

Interview with Deborah Valentine, Author of The Knightmare

Deborah Valentine is our special guest today! She dropped by the virtual offices to chat about her book The Knightmare.  This time-traveling romance has something for everyone, so check out what Deborah has to say.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Deborah Valentine] Battered by life, but reasonably cheerful about it. A typical Gemini, running on two courses at the same time. Obsessive about writing.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about The Knightmare?

[Deborah Valentine] It’s about a F1 driver who remembers as past life as a Knight Templar. Sounds weird, but there’s logic to it. In both lives he’s the action arm of a corporate body: in medieval times, the Church; in the present, big business sport. I mean, with a background as a knight he’s not exactly going to turn out to be a pencil pusher in this one, is he? In remembering his past life he finds the origins of the personal issues he has in the present.

And, of course, there’s dodgy racing accidents, sword fights, the occasional massacre, betrayal and sacrifice… and, perhaps needless to say, a woman at the heart of it all. Quite an extraordinary one. A lot of history and magic are thrown in for good measure.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Deborah Valentine] I knew a guy once who wanted to be a F1 driver. I always thought of him as bit of a ‘hooray Henry’; fantastically good-looking and entertaining, but not to be taken seriously. But one day I went to watch him race – I went camping with him in the snow (it still gives me shudders) – and did I get a surprise. In an instant, he changed to a man with total focus, genuine discipline, a real tactician. It changed my entire viewpoint on him. Out of that, grew the character of Conor.

Another big influence was the medieval story of Abelard and Heloise. I read their collected letters as a teenager and what a story! The love between two amazing scholars that ended in horrific tragedy, yet with an epilogue of redemption (of a kind). I was greatly influenced by her letters in particular – her attitude to love and marriage. What a modern woman! It stuck with me.

So when I created the character of Conor, I also based him on what I imagined would be the psychology of their son. What would it do to a lad to know his father had been castrated as punishment for loving his mother? What would his attitude to love be? What choices would he make? And, more universally, how many children are embarrassed by their parents’ history and absolutely determined not to make their mistakes. Of course, in reaction you can make some pretty spectacular disasters of your own.

From all of this grew the story of The Knightmare.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Conor?

[Deborah Valentine] Intelligent, disciplined, conflicted.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Conor had a theme song, what would it be?

[Deborah Valentine] If You Could Read My Mind by Gordon Lightfoot. Yeah, we’re going back a few years here – and I don’t like folk music generally – but it’s a classic. And appropriate.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Conor’s pockets?

[Deborah Valentine] A compass, nicotine gum, tissues.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Conor’s greatest regret?

[Deborah Valentine] Like a lot of us, learning too little, too late.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Deborah Valentine] Life experience. You’ve got to find some way to make sense of all the brick walls you bang your head against.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Deborah Valentine] Cigarettes. And more cigarettes.

Music. More often than not, medieval or medieval-like chant. I play the same CD over and over again for hours, days, months on end. It would drive any sane person mad. For me, it merely focuses the mind.

An animal to hand – these days, usually a cat.

Did I mention cigarettes?

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Deborah Valentine] That’s a tough one  – I’ve had a good run of gob-smacking books lately but forced to make a choice… The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson. But then there was The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey. Finished it and immediately started all over again. Oh, and The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. And I just read a short story by Neil Gaiman called Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Nameless House of the Night of Dread Desire that had me grinning from ear to ear – so VERY clever.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Deborah Valentine] Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Deborah Valentine] Walking. I’m a maniac walker.

Watch films. I’m a maniac film watcher as well.

Hit the outdoor markets – food, antiques, books and bric-a-brac.

Meet friends at the pub. I have one friend in particular that I go to a museum with for a couple of hours then spend about five in the pub with afterwards. I think that’s a reasonable ratio.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Deborah Valentine] The Knightmare has a Facebook page and I have a website with a contact email. I’m also a Goodreads author so I can be connected with there.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

You can order The Knightmare by clicking the link below:

About the book:

France, 1209: A Knight Templar riding through an eerie forest is suddenly attacked by an assassin as a man and woman watch from a distant hillside. When his death seems certain, the woman takes up a sword…
Present, Formula 1 race, Magny Cours: Observed by the very same couple, Conor Westfield, a career-obsessed Scottish driver, is in a horrible racing accident. Miraculously, he survives what seemed to be certain death.
As he is recovering from his injuries Conor’s childhood nightmare recurs, a strange jumble of terrifying images that feel more like memories than dreams. Can it be mere coincidence that the very next morning he is informed a mysterious woman with whom he had very brief affair has died and left him as her heir? But this was no ordinary woman and no ordinary affair. Dogged by a niggling feeling of déjà vu, Conor travels to Amsterdam to identify the body. At her home he finds an illuminated book that transports him back in time, to a woman he left behind and a life lived in the shadow of a tragedy that cries out across 800 years for resolution.
Weaving history with the present, fact with fantasy, The Knightmare is an unforgettable story of angels and alchemy, betrayal and sacrifice, and a truly extraordinary love.

About the author:

Deborah Valentine Bio: Deborah Valentine is a British author, editor and screenwriter who once lived in California but far preferred the British weather and fled to London, where she has resided for many years. She is the author of three books published by Victor Gollancz Ltd in the UK, and Bantam and Avon in the US. Unorthodox Methods was the first in the series, followed by A Collector of Photographs and the Ireland-based Fine Distinctions. A Collector of Photographs was short-listed for an Edgar Allan Poe, a Shamus, a Macavity and an Anthony Boucher award. Fine Distinctions was also short-listed for an Edgar. They featured the characters of former California sheriff Kevin Bryce and artist Katharine Craig, charting their turbulent relationship amid murder and mayhem. They will soon be available as eBooks through Orion. With the publication of The Knightmare she has embarked on a new series of books with a supernatural edge.

Win City of Dark Magic by Magnus Flyte!

Thanks to Penguin, I have a copy of City of Dark Magic by Magnus Flyte for one of you to win!  I really enjoyed this quirky book, and I think you will,too!  To enter, just fill out the widget below. Earn extra entries by following.

About the book:

Cosmically fast-paced and wildly imaginative, this debut novel is a perfect potion of magic and suspense

Once a city of enormous wealth and culture, Prague was home to emperors, alchemists, astronomers, and, as it’s whispered, hell portals. When music student Sarah Weston lands a summer job at Prague Castle cataloging Beethoven’s manuscripts, she has no idea how dangerous her life is about to become. Prague is a threshold, Sarah is warned, and it is steeped in blood.

     Soon after Sarah arrives, strange things begin to happen. She learns that her mentor, who was working at the castle, may not have committed suicide after all. Could his cryptic notes be warnings? As Sarah parses his clues about Beethoven’s “Immortal Beloved,” she manages to get arrested, to have tantric sex in a public fountain, and to discover a time-warping drug. She also catches the attention of a four-hundred-year-old dwarf, the handsome Prince Max, and a powerful U.S. senator with secrets she will do anything to hide.

City of Dark Magic could be called a rom-com paranormal suspense novel—or it could simply be called one of the most entertaining novels of the year.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Didn’t win? You can purchase a copy from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the links below.

Interview with Chris Karlsen, Author of Journey in Time

Chris Karlsen is the author of Journey in Time, a time-travel romance that transports heroine Shakira back to the 14th Century.  I love time-travel romances, so I invited Chris to the virtual offices to discuss her new book.

[Manga Maniac Café] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Chris Karlsen] Retired detective, history, book & animal lover, traveler, enjoys dry, acerbic humor-think Black Adder, wants answers to what it?, likes Johnnie Walker Black scotch.

[Manga Maniac Café] Can you tell us a little about your book, Journey in Time?

[Chris Karlsen]  Shakira Constantine is a successful London attorney who offers to represent Alex Lancaster, the best friend of Shakira’s best friend’s husband. Alex is more interested in a personal relationship and invites her to his country cottage for the weekend. While horseback riding they’re caught is a strange lightning storm, which triggers a time portal. The storm passes and they find themselves in the 14th century.

Alex reveals to Shakira a shocking and strong connection to the past. He is also mistaken for Baron Guiscard, a baron who died at the Battle of Poitiers. If he and Shakira can’t find a way back to the modern world, Alex will be forced to sail to France and fight at Poitiers, where he will die. They both realize that history cannot be changed, and history doesn’t care which man it takes. The idea of possibly being left alone in the medieval world  terrifies Shakira.

Journey in Time is about a couple falling in love in spite of the very dangerous and frightening situation they find themselves in.

[Manga Maniac Café] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Chris Karlsen]  Time-travel has always fascinated me. So often, when people talk about going either forward or back in time, they tend to assign a certain romance to the idea. I wanted to have the romance but give the characters in a realistic environment with the problems that involves. The characters are the friends of my hero and heroine in my first book, "Heroes Live Forever." I knew when I was writing "Heroes Live Forever," that I wanted to give Shakira and Alex their own story.

[Manga Maniac Café] What was the most challenging aspect of writing the book?

[Chris Karlsen] For me the most challenging aspect is letting the characters show emotion in a way that is true to them, true to the moment, but not overwrought. I personally dislike hyperbole and scenes where a character’s response is over-the-top. Because of that, I have to be careful not to keep too tight a rein on my character’s actions and emotions.

[Manga Maniac Café] What three things would Shakira miss the most while trapped in the 14th century?

[Chris Karlsen]  This is an easy one. I know what I’d miss and I let Shakira miss them too. First-indoor, flush toilets. Second-running water. Third-toothpaste.

[Manga Maniac Café] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Chris Karlsen]  My creative influences are mentioned in my 140 character bio. I want answers to what if questions. I love to travel. I’ve gone places that I instantly imagined the lives of people who lived there in the past. I mentally create a world. I use those places as creative influences. I also travel to places that a major historical event has occurred (the Trojan War for instance). I will walk the ruins of a place, like Troy, and ask, what if the war didn’t happen the way we believe. Then, I’ll use that premise to create a story around.

[Manga Maniac Café] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Chris Karlsen]  I need my research material handy to write. I am constantly referring to it. I need something to drink on my desk, like coffee or water or raspberry soda. I need a game plan for writing that particular day. I need to have in my mind an idea of where I am taking the characters or what I am doing to them. My plan might change as I write but I need a direction to start.

[Manga Maniac Café] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Chris Karlsen]  The one book that made me an avid reader was "Les Miserables," by Victor Hugo. The characterization, the setting, the richness of the story hooked me. When I closed the book, I remember thinking what a great writer, what a great story.

[Manga Maniac Café] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Chris Karlsen]  When I’m not writing, I read, take belly dance lessons, and started yoga. I love to travel and do when our schedule allows.

Thank you for allowing me this opportunity to be interviewed.

[Manga Maniac Café] Thank you!

You can learn more about Chris by visiting her website and by following her on Facebook

You can order a digital copy of Journey in Time by clicking the widget below:

Journey in Time By Chris Karlsen



London attorney, Shakira Constantine, finally agrees to spend the day with her handsome client, Alex Lancaster. While riding in the countryside, the couple finds themselves caught in a time warp and transported back to the 14th Century, and an England preparing for war. Everyone believes Alex is the Baron Guy Guiscard…a baron who died in the upcoming battle.

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Interview with Melissa Mayhue, Author of Warrior’s Redemption



Melissa Mayhue is the author of the soon to be released Warrior’s Redemption, as well as an impressive backlist.  The prolific author took time out of her busy schedule to drop in the virtual offices to answer a few questions about her new book.

[Manga Maniac Café] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Melissa Mayhue] Author of Paranormal Romance – Time travel, Highlanders, Medieval Scotland and Faeries AND happy wife, mother, grandma

[Manga Maniac Café] Can you tell us a little about your book, Warrior’s Redemption?

[Melissa Mayhue] WARRIOR’S REDEMPTION is the first in my new Warrior’s series, a spin-off of my award-winning Daughters of the Glen series.  This is Malcolm MacDowylt’s story.  Readers of DotG met Malcolm in A HIGHLANDER’S HOMECOMING, a brash, take-charge 13th century Highland warrior.  In this book, they learn more about him and his whole family, including the fact that his family is descended from the ancient Norse gods!  Malcolm is plagued with more problems than any one man ever should be – responsibility for an almost destitute clan, guilt over the death of the woman he married to become laird of the MacGahan, a half-brother who wants him dead, a sister held captive, and a Faerie mother-in-law seeking vengeance for her daughter’s death.  The last thing he needs is one more responsibility.  But that’s exactly what he gets… in the form of Dani Dearmon, sent to his care from seven hundred years in the future!

[Manga Maniac Café] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Melissa Mayhue] Malcolm and his brother Patrick were secondary characters in an earlier story I wrote.  I knew the minute I met them that they would be back.  There was just something about them that hinted they had a past and a story waiting to be told.  When my editor and I discussed adding a new magical twist to the stories, Malcolm seemed the natural leading man… and The Warriors were born! 

[Manga Maniac Café] Why do you think books with paranormal elements are so popular with readers? Why do you enjoy writing them?

[Melissa Mayhue] I believe that readers of paranormal stories love the idea of getting lost in a world where even against overwhelming odds, good still defeats evil.  There’s something irresistible about being able to take control in an out-of-control world.  For me, the joy in writing paranormal stories is that I can let my imagination have free reign.  It also gives me an excuse to spend hours and hours reading old mythology and history books because even fantasy has a basis in what’s already out there.

[Manga Maniac Café] What was the most challenging aspect of writing the book?

[Melissa Mayhue] After eight books in the Daughters of the Glen series, I was pretty comfortable with both Medieval Scottish history and with the Faerie mythology.  Tossing Norse mythology and the ancient Norse gods into the mix sent me back to some pretty intensive research.

[Manga Maniac Café] What are your biggest creative influences?

[Melissa Mayhue] I had years and years and years of being an avid reader under my belt before I ever began seriously writing.  I’ve read a little of everything over time, but I kept coming back to the stories I loved most and those are the ones that have the biggest influence on what I enjoy writing:  Romance, Fantasy, and Suspense.  Quite a combo, I know, but I love being able to weave a bit of them all in when the story calls for it.

[Manga Maniac Café] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Melissa Mayhue] 1 — A keyboard or a pen and paper

2 — My copy of The Synonym Finder [always use it]

3 — Music that fits the mood of what I’m writing — without words [lyrics distract me]

And, in a pinch, I can do without #2 and #3.  J

[Manga Maniac Café] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Melissa Mayhue] I really don’t know that I can single out just one book.  I have loved to read from the first time I picked up a book.  As an only child, the characters in those stories were like companions and their worlds were places where I could get lost and spend my day having all the adventures that world had to offer.  One of the earliest series I remember capturing my heart was the Bobbsey Twins, followed by the Pippi Longstocking books.  [Although I can also vividly remember even earlier being frustrated that all Dick and Jane and Spot ever did was run and see, so maybe that was the beginning of wanting to write my own stories!]

[Manga Maniac Café] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Melissa Mayhue] When I’m not writing – or researching for the next book I’ll be writing – I still love research.  I’m a genealogy geek who loves nothing better than sifting through copies of old documents.  I love to travel and spend time with my family, and I still love reading and puttering in my herb garden and, when there’s time, I enjoy getting lost in a good video game! 

[Manga Maniac Café] Thanks!!

You can learn more about Melissa by visiting the following websites:

Twitter: @MelissaMayhue


Warrior’s Redemption is available in both print and digital formats. You can purchase Warrior’s Redemption from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the widget below:


MALCOLM MACDOWYLT sees himself a failed warrior, haunted by the death of the woman he married to become laird of Clain MacGahan. Neither his Viking heritage nor his claim to descend from Norse gods can restore his confidence in his ability to protect his people. His sister is held captive, her life in jeopardy, and his Magically powerful half brother wants him dead. The last thing he needs is more responsibility, but that’s exactly what he gets when his Faerie mother-in-law arrives seeking justice for her daughter in the form of an enticing woman from seven hundred years in the future.

DANIELLE DEARMON has waited fifteen years to discover the life she is supposed to live. She just never dreamed she’d end up in the thirteenth century with a handsome Scot bent on saving everyone but himself.

With the lives of those most dear to him hanging in the balance, Malcolm sets out to battle a powerful evil magic, only to learn that the redemption he seeks exists in the arms of the woman he loves.