Sunday, November 24, 2013

Launch of my latest Napoleonic espionage romantic suspense, The Reluctant Bride

November has been a huge month for me. For a start, it was the official launch of my Napoleonic espionage romantic suspense The Reluctant Bride which was two months after its September release in the UK so as to allow for shipping to Australia.

I've done costume talks and library talks, locally, also, while tomorrow I'm off to South Australia to present my History Through Costume Talk as part of the Clare Writer's Festival (on Wednesday November 27 at 7pm).

Below are a few pictures of my lovely book launch at my local Gisborne BookBonding last Thursday, and at Lancefield's Red Door Books. There was a wonderful turnout for both, and both book shops did a fantastic job of making their window displays look absolutely fantastic.

Lancefield's Red Door Books coincided my author signing with the monthly Farmers Market and I thoroughly enjoyed speaking, one-on-one, with so many avid and interesting book readers in the area.
On Saturday I was at Red Door Books in Lancefield
Note the reflection of the bales of hay. My talk
coincided with the monthly Farmers

On Thursday I was at Gisborne BookBonding's
 Book launch. Here are I am with
my daughters.

Here I am with Natasha at BookBonding in

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Reluctant Bride - two reviews

I've just got back from a fabulous weekend at my brother-in-law's 'Super Heroes' 40th birthday which was held at our Clare Valley property in South Australia, Wuthering Heights.

Lots of pictures to follow but first, here are two lovely reviews I came home to, after no internet for a few days.

The first is from The Historical Novel Review

Set in the period after the French Revolution, this novel tells the story of Emily, who has no option but to marry Angus, if she is to escape from poverty. She does, however, feel disloyal to her dead fiancé, Jack. Angus, although he is in love with Emily, and is tormented by his dead mistress, Jessamine, is determined to atone for his past. Emily has to learn how to love Angus.
It is a fast-paced story of finding love, with detailed storylines and intricate plots, which is very well researched and full of surprises. The descriptions are delicate and dialogue believable, with nice long chapter lengths for total immersion in the story. There is some mystery, suspense and action as well in this page-turning historical romance, which comes complete with English and French spies.
The characters are well drawn with a charismatic Angus, believable Andreas and although Emily can be a bit frustrating initially she grew on me as the book developed.
Eikli creates a enchanting sense of time and place, real emotional conflict and lots of drama. I loved the cover of the book; it attracted me immediately and would stand out on a bookshelf. A great read for history lovers, romance lovers and those who like a bit of mystery and suspense.
The Reluctant Bride is only $2.99 and available from Buy from: Kindle UK, Kindle US, Apple UK, Apple US, Kobo Books

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Wedding anniversary Tribute

Here I am with Eivind at our Nowegian
I spent most of 1994 living in the town of Hamar, about an hour and a half north of Oslo, Norway, with my fiancé's parents, Elsa and Gunnar Eikli. Eivind and I had arrived from Botswana on what was supposed to be a three week holiday in Norway where I was to meet his parents, before Eivind was to begin a one-year survey flying contract in Namibia, taking me with him.

Eivind and I had met the previous year in Botswana where he'd been Chief Pilot for Ngami Air, flying tourists and supplies between the many small camps (which are surrounded by water for much of the year) while I was working as a relief manager at Mombo, one of several luxury safari lodges owned by Okavango Wilderness Safaris. My dad had been born and brought up in Botswana and I'd discovered his father's photographic diaries of his amazing years as a young administrator in what was then Bechuanaland between 1916 and 1922. Gerald Nettelton, my grandfather, had gone on to have a long and esteemed career in the Colonial Service, just as my dad did in Lesotho, where he was working as a District Commissioner in the mountainous region of Mokhotlong, when I was born.

There was so much rain during our wedding
ceremony we didn't take any outside
pictures until the following day.
 My dad, Spencer Nettelton, had been private secretary to        Lesotho's first democratically elected PM, Chief Leabua Jonathan, and he'd organised the Independence Celebrations, however several years later he'd taken his young family to Australia and I'd grown up in Adelaide, South Australia.

I was a journalist on Adelaide's The Advertiser when I'd come upon Grandpa's diaries. An unexpectedly lucrative freelance commission on SA Homes Magazine enabled me to travel on holiday, with dad to Botswana, and there I'd met the manager of Okavango Wilderness Safaris, Chris Kruger, who invited me to return some months later to take up the two month relief management job. I met Eivind around a camp fire the day before I was due to return to Adelaide.

Eivind and me at Bungaree, Clare, SA
After 8 months of letter writing - the slow, old fashioned way, for letters took two weeks between Adelaide and Maun (which is the gateway to the game-rich Okavango and fondly referred to, by us, as the Dirty, Dusty Domestic Donkey Den), Eivind visited me in Australia and proposed. We'd spent two weeks in each other's company but felt we knew each other thoroughly through our letters.

C 1918 Grandpa on his mule when
 surveying the tsetse fly belt.
(Mules, unlike horses,
 don't suffer sleeping sickness.)
So, fast forward to 1994 where I had the absolute pleasure of getting to know Eivind's family. Elsa - who sadly passed away several years ago - and Gunnar who is a sprightly 96-year-old who still lives in the family home - made me feel a treasured daughter-in-law. Elsa taught me to knit the traditional Norwegian sweaters (Eivind's sister, Kristin, continues to help out with patterns and advice) and they both patiently helped me come to grips with the Norwegian language.

The 'postal service' C1918
Eivind's and my three weeks gradually turned into ten months as the promised Namibian contract was continually delayed. Although we were made to feel so welcome, our spirits suffered, as did our bank balances through ten months of no income. We'd run out of money to return to Australia and had to cancel the wedding planned in the Clare Valley, South Australia.

Finally, the Namibian job was a happening thing with a starting date just a couple of weeks hence. Now we needed to get married in a hurry. Eivind was in Canada, renewing his licence so he could fly in Norway (who didn't recognise the Botswana waiver) when the news came through.

Via fax, we decided to get married in a Registry Office after Eivind returned to Norway. Then Eivind's eldest brother, Erling, editor of the Norwegian Defence Force Magazine, told us he could organise for us to be married at Akershus Festning, the beautiful chapel in Oslo Castle where Norwegian Royalty and members of the Defence Forces get married. He could get us a date the following Friday, September 23rd.

Bronte Manor, the mud brick family home
 we build by hand
(including making the mud bricks)
 in the Clare Valley.
Dad and my sister now run it as a B&B.
I faxed Eivind, along the lines of, 'Hi Darling, do you want to marry me at Akershus Festning next Friday at 2pm?' and he faxed back, 'Sounds a great idea.'

So that's what happened. In Norway many brides marry in the traditional Bunad, so I was kitted out in a beautiful array of Norwegian finery: my 16-year-old niece, Inger-Lise's Oslo bunad, hand embroidered by her mother, Astri, together with the

traditional Norwegian pewter jewellery. The closest of our Norwegian family were all in attendance (my wonderful sisters-in-law, Britt, Kristin and Astri - for Eivind is the youngest of five and has 94 first cousins) while my mum arrived on a week's notice from Australia, still suffering the horrible side-effects of her breast cancer treatment.

After ten years of marriage we now had the first of two
It was a sunny, happy day, as you can see from the photographs, and within a couple of days we were off to Namibia to start what would be - for me - the beginning of a truly wonderful four-year career as an airborne geophysical survey operator, working the computer equipment in the back of Cessna 404s and CASA 212s, in Greenland, French Guiana, Sweden and Botswana.

The following year we made it back to Australia where we renewed our vows on November 4th, 1995, in the little church at Bungaree Station just north of Clare in the Clare Valley, South Australia. Mum had given me away at my Norwegian ceremony and now dad 'gave me away' in our Australian vows renewal.

My brother-in-law, Gudmund, and my lovely sister-in-law
Britt Eikli
Immediately afterwards we returned to where we would be based for three years - Ottawa, in Canada, now that we were working for Fugro, a Canadian survey company. They'd employed me on the basis that my low 45kg weight made up for my lack of technical training since it meant the pilot could now upload more fuel and therefore fly more lines during each 8-hour sortie.

My sister-in-law Kristin, and parents-in-law, Elsa and
Six months later, my darling mother died unexpectedly. I was in Canada and Eivind was flying in Namibia when the call came through that she was failing fast. Eivind caught the next flight from Windhoek, arriving a little earlier than I did from Ottawa, and my two younger sisters were there (Penny from Botswana, T from the Gold Coast), at mum's bedside in the small Clare country hospital where we we were able to say goodbye. Mum had suffered a massive heart attack several years earlier as the result of being injected with someone else's stem cells during experimental Triple Dose Chemotherapy treatment and she'd never regained her strength fully.

So on this day, November 4th, I remember the joys of two fabulous wedding ceremonies, with two wonderful families who have made me feel a true daughter on both sides of the globe. It's a fitting opportunity to pay tribute to a truly kind, interesting and gorgeous husband who has led me on such an exciting ride as we've made our home in 12 countries or cities during nearly twenty years of marriage. And it's a chance to honour my own parents: my mother, Gail, who could see I was in good hands when I married, even if she never saw
Granny, dad and mum when dad was awarded his
medal at Buckingham Palace
her grandchildren; and my lovely dad, still hale and hearty at 82 and living at Wuthering Heights, the family property in the Clare Valley. We've been working on his memoirs for many years and he's been the sounding board for my illegal diamond buying 1960s Lesotho-set thriller I'm about to submit to my publisher, Choc Lit.

Hard to believe that year it'll be twenty years. That sounds a long time, yet I feel like I've packed several lifetimes into what I've had. So, thank you, Eivind, for giving me what I really need in marriage: excitement. It hasn't always been smooth sailing, with broken backs, the ups and downs of airline companies folding and corruption in the Pacific throwing another
My beautiful mother, Gail, with me as a baby
unexpected curve ball - but it's always been interesting.

Dad last August in Qld