Her Montana Cowboy by Molly Ann Wishlade

Having read the whole of Molly Ann Wishlade’s ‘The Duggans of Montana’ series, I’m delighted to be part of the launch celebrations for the latest book ‘Her Montana Cowboy’. Apart from bringing you news of the book and some information about Molly Ann, I am delighted that she has agreed to answer some of my questions and to give away an ebook of this lovely romantic and erotic story. I also have my review of ‘Her Montana Cowboy’ below.
 
 
The story:

Falling in love wasn’t part of Huyana’s plan, but when Matthew Duggan claims her as his own, she has to open her heart or risk losing everything. Life has been tough for Huyana. From the moment of her violent conception, the odds were stacked against her. Meeting Matthew Duggan and his family changes her life forever.

Family can be close. People can be kind. Love can be good. But a lifetime of rejection and abuse is difficult to overcome and Huyana struggles to trust the man she loves. There are secrets in her past and she fears revealing them.

Can Huyana find the happiness she craves and allow herself to be claimed by her Montana cowboy?

Where to buy:
About the author:

Molly Ann Wishlade has always been an avid reader and writer of stories. Her lifetime of reading has taken her from the magical worlds of ‘The Faraway Tree’ and ‘The Borrowers’, to the Greek myths and legends,
to ‘Sweet Valley High’ and Judy Blume’s ‘Forever’, to Asimov’s science fiction, Jane Eyre’s torment and Stephen King’s masterpieces. More recently she has wandered through the vivid historicals of Philippa Gregory; the bubbly, gritty delights of Adele Parks and the fast paced thrillers of James Patterson. She loves getting lost in a novel and often regrets finishing one as the characters are usually missed like old friends. She regularly indulges her insatiable hunger for romance and passion in the delicious worlds created by romantic novelists and is working on several of her own!

What precious spare time she has is spent with her family (one gorgeous husband and two bright and beautiful children), taking long walks around the beautiful Welsh countryside (although she’s still waiting for the rescue greyhound she wants to accompany her), cooking her own secret recipe curries, drinking Earl Grey (in copious amounts) and discovering delicious wines. Oh, and she also loves to ski and can’t wait to go again! And buying shoes!

She wants to take readers on the rollercoaster that is life through the creation of her own characters, relationships and worlds. She appreciates feedback, recipes and wine recommendations.

Here Molly Ann answers my questions about her books:

Congratulations on the publication of Her Montana Cowboy. Thank you so much for agreeing to answer questions on my blog today.

Thanks so much for having me over, Linda!

Firstly, please could you tell readers a little about yourself?

I’m a wife, mother, author and teacher. I live in Wales in the UK with my family – my husband, two children, two dogs and four bearded dragons. I write erotic romance and have written contemporary stories but I have a passion for writing historical romance, especially westerns.

I know that you have a very busy life, so how do you manage to fit in your writing and what are your writing routines?

I write whenever and wherever I can. I constantly make notes on my IPhone, in note books (there’s one in every room, including the bathroom!) and even on the back of receipts if that’s all there is available. It’s hard fitting writing in around my busy life but writing is my creative outlet and I’d be unhappy if I didn’t do it.

If you had a 60 second speed date with a reader, what would you tell them about your books?

My books are about life and love. I enjoy exploring the ‘what if’ by setting my stories in different times and places. I aim to write hot, sensual romance packed with emotion and with characters readers can identify with.

Why did you decide to set your books in Montana and this era and how do you make sure you get the details accurate?

I love historical cowboy stories; I always have. I used to watch Saturday afternoon westerns with my granny as a child and it influenced my desire to set my stories in a time and place when life was tough and when people had to work hard just to survive. They had to carve out their lives in a land that was still so untamed. I adore being out in the wild (although it’s mountain walks here in Wales) because I like the sense of freedom it brings. It reminds me how insignificant we are with all our troubles and worries in this life; it reinforces my understanding of how we’re all just a part of something much bigger. It helps me to put things into perspective. I chose Montana because it’s such a beautiful place, one I hope to visit in the future.

I also research – a lot! I have folders on my computer for each book with notes and websites to visit to ensure that the details are accurate. Totally Bound also has fabulously experienced editors who check each story carefully.

When I read your books I get a very clear visual image of setting and characters. Do you use photos or mood boards to help you when you write or is there something else that helps you create such visual pieces?

I make copious notes about setting and characters. I have folders on Pinterest and folders on my computer. I also use music to stimulate certain moods.

Her Montana Cowboy is the third in your Duggans of Montana series. What did you hope to achieve in this book that builds on or is different from ‘Harlot at the Homestead’ and ‘A Rancher for Rosie’?

Each book is about a different character in the series, so each one should tell a different story. I wanted to create a sense of a close, loving family while making the characters very different. In Harlot at the Homestead, Catherine and Kenan have had a very difficult time. They were kept apart by circumstances manufactured by other people and their reunion is a joyous yet painful one. In A Rancher for Rosie, the two main characters Rosie and Joshua have had relatively sheltered lives yet their conflict lies in the age difference and his family’s reactions to it. While in Her Montana Cowboy, Huyana has experienced humiliation and devastation, thinking she would never be loved. Matthew is her knight in shining armour, but she has to let him in, to open her heart, or risk losing everything.

When you began writing this series, did you have several books mapped out or have they evolved in another way?

The books were all mapped out and there are more to come. Of course, as I’m writing them, things change as characters develop, but the basic overview remains the same.

Without any plot spoilers if possible, what can we expect next in the Duggans of Montana series?

The next one will be Emmett’s story. We haven’t seen much of him in the first three books as he’s a quiet chap, but he will make himself known very soon!

Some readers shy away from reading the kind of erotic fiction you write. What would your message to them be?

Reading preferences are very personal. I enjoy reading different genres and can read a thriller one day, a sweeping Tudor historical the next and a BDSM erotic romance after that. Like all genres, erotic romance varies dramatically from book to book. In my erotic romances, I try to blend the erotic moments with the love stories and the character development. It’s part of the characters’ growth not tagged on just to hit the erotic market. So I would like to say ‘give it a go’ because you never know until you try…

Your books contain some very difficult themes which might surprise some readers, such as the choices women have to make, the problems of being mixed race or how senile dementia affects not just the individual. Why did you choose to weave them into your stories!

Because they matter to me.

Love is something that affects us all in some way, whether it’s love for a partner, love for family or love for friends. Yet I’m also interested in how women have always been at the core of society, making tough decisions while holding their families together. As humans, we have many differences but we also have many similarities too. Keeping those we love safe, close and in good health is all that matters at the end of the day. I’ve seen the effect that senile dementia can have on a person and on their family, and it’s very sad. Life isn’t easy for anyone and I want that to come through in my writing. We love, we lose, we hurt; yet there is so much joy to be had if we just grab it with both hands. None of us know how long we have, so it’s important to make the most of our time.

On a lighter note, which of the Montana men you’ve created so far, which would you most like as a life partner and why?

Ha ha! Can’t I have them all?

Each of my Montana men epitomizes the characteristics I admire in men. My ultimate hero is, of course, my wonderful husband, and many of my fictional men have elements of his strength, honesty, resilience, integrity and ability to love deeply.

Is there anything else you would like to tell readers about yourself or your writing?

I would like to thank every reader who buys one of my books. To those readers and bloggers who take the time to rate the stories and to review, I am very grateful. As an author, it can get lonely when you’re typing away at your computer, then when your story emerges and is sent out into the world, it’s a nail-biting time.

Not every reader will like every story. We are all very different. But if you do enjoy one of my books, I’d love it if you drop me a line to let me know.

Thank you for having me at your blog today! XXX

My absolute pleasure.

Follow Molly Ann  Wishlade here:

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Reviews

Harlot at the Homestead

A Rancher for Rosie

‘Her Montana Cowboy’ 

It’s always an anxious moment when you read a third book from an author, having enjoyed the others. There is a danger that you may be disappointed. I needn’t have worried. Molly Ann Wishlade has created such an identifiable Montana family in the Duggans that ‘Her Montana Cowboy’ is equally as good as ‘Harlot at the Homestead’ and ‘A Rancher for Rosie’.

Dual heritage Huyana is looking after William, after his wife has died, and he is suffering from dementia. She is in love with Matthew Duggan who seems to have feelings for her too, but Huyana has a past that will surely undermine any love he may have for her.

What I have enjoyed so much in Molly Ann Wishlade’s writing is her consistency of approach. Certainly this is a work of erotic fiction and those scenes are written with sensuality and passion, so that the reader gets into the emotional heart of the characters, but it is so much more too.

There is an incredible authenticity of setting and time, obviously resulting from meticulous research that completely transports readers to the very ranches and towns of the time. I can definitely picture the bar very vividly.

But for me, alongside the enjoyment of excellent writing and a really engaging plot, it is the themes of social and economic history that make ‘The Duggans of Montana’ such great books to read. The treatment of Huyana, in ‘Her Montana Cowboy’, as a mixed race woman is so genuine for the setting of the book and the vacillating lucidity of William’s illness is a condition many of us face in our real lives so that we can fully empathise with the characters. There’s a genuineness to the writing that adds layers of detail and draws in the reader.

If you haven’t yet discovered Molly Ann Wishlade’s Montana world of the Duggans I urge you to do so. You won’t be disappointed.

Guest Post by Tara Guha, author of Untouchable Things

One of the lovely aspects of blogging is belonging to a supportive community and I’m fortunate to be part of Book Connectors on Facebook where I ‘met’ today’s featured guest author Tara Guha.

Untouchable Things

Tara’s novel is available in e-book and paperback and was published by Legend Press on 1st September 2015.

Tara and I discussed our experiences of reading and how it had been affected by studying or teaching English. We agreed that a love of the subject isn’t all plain sailing. Here’s what Tara thinks:

Stop – don’t read!

If you want to write, read. That’s what we’re told, isn’t it? To write well you should read everything you can get your hands on, and then read some more. I can’t remember how many times I’ve seen that advice.

Well, dear reader, it didn’t work for me. For three years of my life I read non-stop. I read for a minimum of eight hours a day and frequently much more. I read 14th century romances, 20th century American fiction, 19th century poetry and pretty much everything in between. I read small print, large page, old English prose at a rate of one page per minute: I know this because that was the rate I had to maintain in order to get my weekly reading done. Every 60 seconds, turn. Keep reading!

I was doing an English degree at Cambridge. In those days, and these too, English meant English literature. The greats. The iconic heavyweights of literature that have shaped our relationship to reading (and life) ever since. Each week I would read the main work in question and then several books of context and criticism before attempting to condense all the various viewpoints, my own included, into a hand-written essay.

Oh, the enviable life of the English student. Sitting out in the sunshine browsing a book while everyone else is in lectures. Reading up on the roof when the rest of the year is doing exams (and hates you). Reading alongside fellow English students, tucked up in college rooms, sipping tea and coffee and more tea.

What a breeze.

It had its moments, I’ll admit. I’ve loved reading since the moment I could do it, so having a mandate to discover more and more wonderful books should have been a dream come true.  Doing what is for most of us a hobby and calling it studying gives English students the reputation of dossers, and I can see why it looks that way. But the truth is that reading in such a pressurised way started to erode the joy of it, and the need to maintain a critical stance denied me the wonder of getting properly lost in a book. In fact, for a good year after my degree I barely picked up a book. I couldn’t help analysing everything I read; I felt as if I’d eaten from the tree of knowledge and lost my innocence. It left a strange hole in my life.

But the rot didn’t stop there. While I eventually started reading again – in a somewhat faltering way, but gaining momentum – the more lasting damage was to my writing. As a child I wrote reams – poetry, stories, songs and random musings. But after three years of immersing myself in all the great works of literature my overriding thought was, what on earth can I have to say that hasn’t been said already (and better)? As soon as I started writing something, the critic in me sneered at it and I usually ended up eating biscuits or watching TV instead. I have a lot of two sentence-length pieces of writing from that time.

Several years later it dawned on me that being creative and being a critic are two diametrically opposed impulses. Many creative children who write well are encouraged to study English, ie to learn to be a critic instead of nurturing their own creativity. Looking back, I’d say that although I loved the whole university experience, English was probably the worst possible subject I could have chosen because I’m fundamentally someone who likes to create rather than critique. It seems counter-intuitive and perhaps people who have more confidence in their own ability to write would not experience this as extremely as I did. But I suspect I’m not alone in having this reaction.

It wasn’t until a friend bought me The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron for my thirtieth birthday that I began to re-engage with my own creativity. Interestingly, one of the exercises she suggests is to stop reading altogether for a week. No newspapers, websites, books, cereal packets – nothing. A complete detox in order to access your own voice, your own thoughts and feelings. I followed the programme religiously and at the end of it I had succeeded in opening the door just a bit on the part of me that had effectively been shut away.

Several years down the track and that door is open most of the time. I’ve just had my first novel, Untouchable Things, published and I’ve brought music back into my life too. I’ve made peace with my internal critic and acknowledge that he (yup, he’s a he) is important but can’t be allowed to dominate, or I’ll never write another word. And in a nice loop back to that English degree, Untouchable Things is peppered with literary references and I realise that my characters’ reverence for those great works of literature mirrors my own. The years of intensive study taught me to truly appreciate them, but those magnum opuses are no longer a block to my own writing. They exist as entirely separate, timeless, self-contained works of mastery that enrich my life but bear little or no relation to my own tortuous works-in-progress.

Talking of which, there’s a document open alongside this one entitled “novel number two” that I really should get back to. And you, if I might say, have been reading for more than long enough. It’s been nice to chew the fat – but don’t you have some writing to do?

————–

I totally understand Tara’s viewpoint and can’t wait to lose myself in reading the outcome of her regained creativity, ‘Untouchable Things’.

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You can find out more about Tara here. She is also on Twitter and Facebook

Poems for the Common Man by Angelique Forbes

Poems 1

I was delighted to be sent this slim volume of poems after National Poetry Day. ‘Poems for the Common Man’ by Angelique Forbes was published by Austin Macauley on 30th September 2015 and is available in both paperpack and ebook.

I rarely read poetry these days after a lifetime of studying and teaching it, so it was a great pleasure to be reminded just how evocative and moving poems can be.

With just a couple of exceptions, Angelique Forbes writes from a first person perspective, making her words all the more intimate and affecting. There are poems of great love, passion, loss and memory. I loved ‘The Pages of Time’ which contains thoughts we’ve all had at some point – do past loves remember us and the line ‘Will his ears’ memory drum with the beat of my voice’ summed up that question perfectly for me.

Angelique Forbes creates a real sense of who she is as a person and her background comes through especially strongly in ‘Childhood Memories’, ‘Mum’ and the dialect written ‘Yuh Waan Cum A Englan?’

The intensity of feeling is conveyed through many references to the abyss, volcanic eruption and oblivion which show just how passionate the writer is. I also liked the variety of style with the use of enjambment as in ‘Mystery’, the staccato lone breaks and repetition for effect so that the depth of emotion, including love and hate, becomes clearer the more times a poem is read.

Angelique Forbes’ poems are moving and accessible. No matter what your attitude to poetry, I think few would argue with the sentiment at the end of KY-ANDREI:

GIVE ME A WORLD WITHOUT/ DEATH, PAIN, HEARTACHE/ AND I GIVE YOU A/ NON-EXISTENT WORLD

Harry Potter: The Character Vault by Jody Revenson

Harry Potter

My grateful thanks to Lydia Gittings at Titan Books for a copy of ‘Harry Potter: The Character Vault’ by Jody Revenson in exchange for an honest review. It was published on 25th September 2015.

‘Harry Potter:The Character Vault’ is the third in a series of books written by Jody Revenson and published by Titan including ‘Harry Potter: The Creature Vault’ and ‘Harry Potter: Magical Places from the Films’.

The book is divided into nine chapters and moves through the Hogwarts’ students and staff, and other elements like tournaments, celebrations and dark forces. It is a real coffee table delight, so that even the end papers are gorgeous. At the back there is a special pocket containing two posters of portraits: one of The Order of the Phoenix characters and the other the Death Eaters.

I was totally unaware of this series of books associated with the Harry Potter films until I received this sumptuous book. I can see it being absolutely essential for Harry Potter fans. It would also be a fascinating read for those studying media and film as it has extensive details about how the characters were created visually through fabric, colour, hair and makeup. It is interesting to see, for example, how Rupert Grint was dressed so terribly at the yule ball so that there would be greater sympathy for his character Ron Weasley in having to wear out moded clothes. I can’t imagine the Lucius Malfoy that was originally envisaged until his actor, Jason Isaacs, had input to the clothing to become the iconic villain we all know.

There are first person anecdotes from the actors alongside the ‘technical’ details which give a vitality and freshness to the text. I liked the brief quotations form the J K Rowling books too that support the text and illustrations. The illustrations are a triumph, with full colour plates (the one of Voldemort on p.167 is amazing), photographs, line drawings and film stills. I found the separate little Death Eater Masks booklet quite disturbing!

I particularly enjoyed the ‘behind the scenes’ details explaining how choices were made and why some details were different to the characters as they are presented in the JK Rowling books. I had no idea that Daniel Radcliff (Harry Potter himself) couldn’t wear coloured contact lenses to turn his blue eyes green or that Helena Bonham Carter (Bellatrix) perforated Matthew Lewis’ (Neville Longbottom) ear with her wand. Even though I’ve read all the Harry Potter books twice and seen all the films at least once, there were some characters I’d forgotten like Kingsley Shacklebolt so that reading ‘Harry Potter: The Character Vault’ really brought back those experiences fully.

‘Harry Potter: The Character Vault’ by Jody Revenson is a perfect book for Harry potter fans, although with one proviso. I think the text is too complex for many under 10s who are Harry Potter fans, but it would suit others completely.

How to Make a Friend by Fleur Smithwick

How to Make a Friend

I’m delighted to be part of the launch celebrations for Fleur Smithwick’s book ‘How to Make a Friend‘ which was published in paperback by Black Swan on 8th October 2015. It is also available as an ebook.

The Story

As a lonely child, Alice found comfort the same way so many others do – she invented a friend. Sam was always there when she needed him, until one day… he wasn’t.

Now, Alice has a happy, normal life; she has a handful of close friends and a career as a photographer.

But when a tragic accident shatters the world Alice has constructed, the sense of isolation that haunted her in childhood returns. And with it, so does Sam.

To Alice, he looks and feels like a real person, but how can that be?

And who will decide when it is time for him to leave again?

Praise for How to Make a Friend:

‘An intriguing and extremely sinister debut’ – Woman&Home

‘An absolute must-read’ – OK!

‘An original idea, cleverly executed’ – Sunday Mirror

‘A great winter read’ – Woman’s Own

‘A fascinating story about the power of the mind’ – IMAGE

‘A tense, intriguing and must-read debut’ – Irish Country Magazine

As part of her paperback book launch celebrations, Fleur has provided me with a list of her five favourite and most read childhood and teenage books. She says they are her ‘comfort books’:

‘The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe’ by CS Lewis

‘Jane Eyre’ by Charlotte Bronte

‘Pride and Prejudice’ by Jane Austen

‘These Old Shades’ by Georgette Heyer

‘Gone With the Wind’ by Margaret Mitchell

I’ve read four of Fleur’s choices and I have to agree that they are amazing.

Fleur Smithwick CURRENT (C) Liz McAulay

FLEUR SMITHWICK was brought up in London and studied French Literature & Language at Southampton University. She worked in various jobs, before becoming a full-time writer. As well as novels, Fleur writes short stories and has won The Writers’ Village and Segora competitions. She lives in Richmond with her husband and two children.

Find her on Twitter: @FleurSmithwick

For further information, please contact:

Sarah Harwood • SHarwood@penguinrandomhouse.co.uk • 020 8231 6738 • @SarahHarwood_

There are some other lovely blogs taking place too so you might want to have a look.

BlogTour (3)

Love and War Guest Post by Chris Cherry

I encountered Chris Cherry via Facebook and when I realised he writes about a period of history that fascinates me and he donates money to the Royal British Legion from his books I was delighted when he agreed to be a guest on my blog. Today he’s talking about the human impact of the First World War.

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Chris’s books are available on Amazon in both ebook and paperback, but if readers would like signed copies they can be found on Chris’s website. Mentioning lindasbookblog will get you 20% off too!

Love and War – Historical Novels

by Chris Cherry

Chris

Where to start? I think I need to start from the beginning – that is France in 1898. So a question – why France and why then?

My first understanding of the First World War was when All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque was put on to my school reading list. I had no understanding of the War, its origins, motives and legacy. I knew nothing of the trench, of the humour and of course, the suffering. I read the War poets – some had a political message, others simply told of a brutal reality though alliterative rhyme. Remember the haunting words of Wilfred Owen in Dulce et Decorum Est – “To hear, at every jolt…” How could one not be moved to know more, when John McRae pours out his love for his lost friend and comrade by the side of the Yser canal In Flanders Fields. So it was that one little boy was hooked, transfixed and transported to a time long ago, but not quite forgotten.

You see, it is a period that can still be touched to this day. A golden thread of family surviving through history. Each day a reader may send me a picture of their lost relative, perhaps killed or missing. Looking back at me from the sepia dignity of a tattered portrait print are their unmistakably shared family features – of course they are us. They had lives, loved and were loved as McRae goes on to say in his immortal poem. I want to tell their stories. I cannot be them, they had a personality all of their own. So I tell a greater truth through fiction.

It can be tempting to focus on the army in France or Flanders. Indeed, to many, the war itself was just that – mud and gore on the Western Front. But it was a truly World War, fought on land, sea and air across a great deal of Europe, Africa and Asia. Most certainly it touched lives across the globe, missing no-one in its path of desolation.

Bazentin Ridge Piper

It is perhaps, all too easy to forget. I am not so focused on who was or is to blame, who to judge harshly and whose piety to extol. For me, it is simply a balancing act trying to treat history with remembrance and respect but yet to still to be able to tell a story, a fiction in context. I write dialogue for real people, imagining their true character and hope that whatever their motive and true nature, I neither dishonour, nor celebrate. I write characters that are evil, beyond redemption and who may have living family somewhere in this world. It is a challenge, as I have written in the voice of a soldier in the trenches, a young girl stolen from France and imprisoned in Germany and a Nazi, lost inside the madness of the time. Their language may not have been complex or cultured and for me it would be a mistake to write with a modern tongue or ear, with a modern sensitivity. For this, I may sometimes be criticised – and so be it. They lived then and not now, in our time. That time is theirs to keep.

For me, the true story is of the people. They are just like us, felt like us andsuffered as we would. I could talk about understanding the history, using my novels as an educational tool, perhaps even entertaining along the way. But, for me, it comes down to one thing. A family. A family needs love, care and an investment of time and emotion to nurture. Imagine that for a moment. Not all families survive. Some are lost to relationship breakdown, loss or other cause. Now imagine that a War emerges and strikes at the heart of your life. Now you may find yourself on the first page of my novel – where I find my own mind as I write.

I have seen so little written about the effects of War in other countries – imagine the battlefield in your own town. I once wrote a short story at school entitled “The Battle of The Ouse”, in which the trenches were not in France and Belgium, the East or Turkey, but in England and Scotland. Imagine opening your front door to a cemetery with ten thousand Unknown Soldiers and you can begin to feel it a little I am sure.

So, I set the Mad Game stories in France – which I hope offers a unique perspective on the War and its impact.

The mad game

The Great War is surrounded by myths and misunderstanding; emotions on the subject still run high. Some may focus on the facts and figures and some on the stories. All of these standpoints hold a validity in the commemoration of the conflicts past. I try not to use my novels as a lectern or blackboard, but as a mirror on our own lives. How did Kurt lose his humanity so absolutely? How did a timid little girl survive the camps to grow up into a strong and fine woman? It is because they held on to something deep and precious – or lost it along the way.

Odile's War3rd light

The period holds a deep interest for me, the thread is the poppy and its symbolism to us all. For me it isn’t just this time of year – October and November, but all year. I visit the battlefields often, researching and learning, speaking to those that live there and documenting my feelings along the way. It is a pilgrimage, if that is not too emotive or presumptuous, my small way of showing respect and comradeship to those left behind.

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So it was that The Mad Game series was written to benefit the Royal British Legion. I have spent many a day with veterans of both World Wars and tried to capture their stories and tell them on again to a new generation. The money that I raise is used to support those that are left and those of more modern times in need of comfort and financial or emotional support.

Complete series

I am now working on a new series of novels – the Silent Brothers trilogy, still forming part of the Love and War theme. Meet on Waggon Road is nearing completion and will be the first book of the three. A Girl in the Shop Window will follow (named after a line I heard from a Normandy veteran in 2014) and the final book will be called Rest My Silent Brothers and this could be out before the end of 2016.

I’d like to thank Chris for taking the time to write such a though provoking guest post about a time in history we shouldn’t forget.

Pristine Seas by Enric Sala

Pristine seas

I cannot express sufficient gratitude to Louise Rhind-Tutt of lrtpublicity.co.uk for providing a review copy of this glorious hardback edition of ‘Pristine Seas – Journeys to the Ocean’s Last Wild Places’ by Enric Sala and with a foreword by Leonardo DiCaprio. It was published by National Geographic in hardback on September 22nd 2015.

I am obsessed by the sea, having been in the water with a manatee, swum with manta rays in the Maldives, sharks in the Galapagos and dolphins in the Caribbean and snorkeled on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Consequently, I was beyond excited when I received this glorious book – so much so that I actually cried. I was meant to be doing many other things when the book arrived but it so captivated me that they were all set aside until I had consumed it avariciously in one go.

Reading the foreword, I had not previously had any idea of Leonardo DiCaprio’s own fascination with the sea, early ambitions to be a marine biologist or activist support which was interesting in itself, but, famous actors aside, it is Eric Sala’s journey, from a young boy idolising Jacques Cousteau to becoming an expert advising international organisations and governments on how to protect our oceans, that is the central pull of ‘Pristine Seas’.

The book is divided into geographical regions with brief scientific and factual details about each area, the most startling of which is that, at the time of writing, only 1% of the ocean was fully protected in no-take marine reserves.

The text is Enric Sala’s first person account of the places he has explored, gathering data and totally absorbing the reader in the descriptions of where he and his team have been and what they have seen. This is no clinical, dry non-fiction writing, but an exhilarating experience often written with prose approaching poetry. I wouldn’t have thought of juvenile masked boobies as being ‘like a bunch of teenagers gathering around a flashy new car that just arrived in town’, for example. It is also often desperately sad such as when we learn that Mediterranean red coral is all but extinct except for a pocket in Corsica’s Scandola Nature Reserve. However, there is much to be hopeful for too in Enric Sala’s writing. If American presidents are beginning to show an interest and to understand that oceans can repair themselves if we manage and protect them, then maybe there is a chance to retain and regenerate what we have before it is really too late.

Above all, the greatest delight in ‘Pristine Seas’ is the photography, almost all of which has been taken by the author. Photographs are breathtakingly beautiful and completely moving. The intimacy of mating turtles, the vivid orange of great star coral, the old-man appearance of walruses in Arctic ice or the dramatic landscapes of the Arctic are just some examples that make ‘Pristine Seas’ a book to be treasured. Anyone who has dived or snorkeled would be completely enthralled by seeing these images.

‘Pristine Seas’ is a book that I feel privileged to own and I would urge anyone with the slightest interest in nature and a love of the sea to read it too..