As well as co-writing The Sleepless City with Elizabeth, I’ve also co-written two books with my friend Lou Sylvre
These books are very different, one is a contemporary romance set in New Zealand, and the other is a Scottish historical fantasy set on the Isle of Skye.
We’re hoping to write more in both of these series at some point.
Two men trying not to fall in love.
Kiwi Nathaniel Dunn is in a fighting mood, but how does a man fight Wellington’s famous fog? In the last year, Nate’s lost his longtime lover to boredom and his ten-year job to the economy. Now he’s found a golden opportunity for employment where he can even use his artistic talent, but to get the job, he has to get to Christchurch today. Heavy fog means no flight, and the ticket agent is ignoring him to fawn over a beautiful but annoying, overly polite American man.
Rusty Beaumont can deal with a canceled flight, but the pushy Kiwi at the ticket counter is making it difficult for him to stay cool. The guy rubs him all the wrong ways despite his sexy working-man look, which Rusty notices even though he’s not looking for a man to replace the fiancé who died two years ago. Yet when they’re forced to share a table at the crowded airport café, Nate reveals the kind heart behind his grumpy façade. An earthquake, sex in the bush, and visits from Nate’s belligerent ex turn a day of sightseeing into a slippery slope that just might land them in love.
Nate turned off the water, toweled himself dry quickly, and yanked on his clothes. When he reached the bedroom, he was surprised to find it empty and the pile of blankets Rusty had slept on neatly folded on the end of the bed. He heard voices in the kitchen and hoped Amy wasn’t telling Rusty anything she shouldn’t. Nate ran a comb through his hair, glanced at himself in the mirror, and walked, he hoped nonchalantly, out to the kitchen.
Rusty sat at the table, nursing a cup of what smelled like coffee, an empty bowl in front of him. He gave Nate a smile, and Amy looked up from the pantry. She had a couple of cereal packets in her arms—the only two kinds they had.
“Morning,” Nate said to Rusty. “Hope you slept well.”
“I slept really well, thanks,” Amy said. She grinned at him, then had the decency to at least look apologetic. “Sorry about last night. I didn’t realize you were bringing a date home. Thought you were supposed to be in Christchurch?”
“It’s not a date,” Nate and Rusty said at the same time.
Nate’s face flamed again but he averted his gaze so he didn’t notice whether Rusty’s did as well.
“Our flight was delayed because of the fog,” Rusty explained. “Nate was kind enough to offer me somewhere to stay for the night. The airport chairs didn’t look all that comfortable.”
“Nate’s good like that,” Amy said, giving Rusty a huge smile. “He’s a good guy. I wouldn’t be flatting with him otherwise.” She put the cereal boxes on the table. “And your choice for breakfast this morning is…Weet-Bix or muesli. Or if they don’t work for you, we have toast with an amazing variety of spreads to go with it.” She turned back to the pantry. “Let’s see. Vegemite, Marmite—because some people have no taste—jam, and peanut butter.” Amy picked up the peanut butter jar and peered inside. “Sorry, no peanut butter. Someone used it all, put the empty jar back in the cupboard, and didn’t put it on the shopping list.”
“Ask your boyfriend,” Nate muttered. “He eats all the food and never replaces it. And,” he added, “there’s nothing wrong with Marmite. Not my fault if you eat that other stuff.”
Rusty looked as though he was trying not to laugh. “Whatever you have will be fine, thanks, although I’ll pass on the Vegemite and the Marmite.”
Behind the Scenes
This story is a sweet Wellington set romance between two men, Nate, a Kiwi, and Rusty, an American. I wrote Nate’s scenes, and Lou wrote Rusty’s.
It was fun writing a story set here, although I found there were places I hadn’t been to in a while, so I still had to google and double check things on google maps. Lou did a lot of virtual driving around the area, as she’s never been here.
A 16th-century Reiver meets an 18th-century Highlander. Magic makes it happen; love makes it work.
In 1605, Robbie Elliot—a Reiver and musician from the Scottish borders—nearly went to the gallows. The Witch of the Hermitage saved him with a ruse, but weeks later, she cursed him to an ethereal existence in the sea. He has seven chances to come alive, come ashore, and find true love. For over a century, Robbie’s been lost to that magic; six times love has failed. When he washes ashore on the Isle of Skye in 1745, he’s arrived at his last chance at love, his last chance at life.
Highland warrior Ian MacDonald came to Skye for loyalty and rebellion. He’s lost once at love, and stands as an outsider in his own clan. When Ian’s uncle and laird sends him to lonely Skye to hide and protect treasure meant for Bonnie Prince Charlie’s coffers, he resigns himself to a solitary life—his only companion the eternal sea. Lonely doldrums transform into romance and mystery when the tide brings beautiful Robbie Elliot and his broken harp ashore.
A curse dogs them, enemies hunt them, and war looms over their lives. Robbie and Ian will fight with love, will, and the sword. But without the help of magic and ancient gods, will it be enough to win them a future together?
The music called to Ian, touched him. It seemed to caress him inside. Ian bit down on his lip to stop himself moaning aloud. It took hold of him, and he was caught by its sweet melancholy, a melody that stopped all too soon, its song incomplete, much like Ian himself.
He seemed to know the tune, or rather it knew him, yet he’d never heard it before in his life.
Then, just as suddenly, it was gone.
He took a step forward, shaking himself mentally, trying to clear the fog from his mind. The man before him glanced away, his grip still firm on the harp. Probably a good thing, as Ian wasn’t sure he could have broken the gaze between them. To his embarrassment, his cock hardened under his sporran. He shifted his weight from one foot to the other, trying to centre himself, and ignore his reaction.
First the song, then the man. What kind of witchcraft was this?
“It sang,” Ian whispered, half to himself. But how was that possible? Its strings might be still there, but apart from the couple he’d plucked when he’d found it, most had come away from the instrument. They flowed loosely from it like strands of seaweed, or hair.
“Aye,” said the man. He grinned. “You heard it too, then?”
“Aye, that I did.” Ian swallowed, forcing himself to focus. By all that was good, this man was beautiful, more so this close. What he wouldn’t give to run his fingers through that long blond hair, if only to brush the locks from his face.
Another step forward, and he shivered.
Whatever this feeling was, he couldn’t give in to it, however much it called to him. He was on Skye for a reason. The task was an important one for the cause. His clan depended on him; he’d taken an oath to see it through no matter what. He would not betray that trust.
Ian came back to himself with a start. He drew his sword. “Who are ye, lad, and what’s your business here?”
“I beg your pardon, sir, I mean no harm. You found my harp, and for that, I thank you.”
The man spoke softly, but Ian heard his words clearly. His voice was deeper than Ian expected.
This was no lad, but a full-grown man, probably not much younger than Ian.
“Your harp?” Ian cocked an eyebrow. “I think not. It’s an auld thing, of the sea.” His eyes narrowed. “I’m thinking ye stole it from my cottage, stole it while I slept!”
“It is of the sea, aye,” the man said, “but I swear I’m telling the truth when I say it’s mine.” He didn’t loosen his grip on the thing. “I’m Robbie. Robbie Elliot. Are you the chieftain of those who dwell here?”
Ian couldn’t help but laugh at the idea. He sheathed his sword, hoping he wasn’t making a mistake in doing so. His gut told him Robbie wasn’t a threat.
“A chieftain? Nae, lad, I’m but a loyal clansman.” He inclined his head in greeting. “My name is Ian MacDonald, and this isle is my home, at least for now.”
Behind the Scenes
This story took a lot longer to write than we anticipated as we both ran into severe cases of real life interfering with writing time. We’d started writing The Harp and the Sea before Sunset at Pencarrow, so although Pencarrow released first, this was our first full novel together. We tried a few different ways of co-writing, then found sending the manuscript back and forth was the way to go. We tried doing a merge but because we were using different versions of word, it kept losing bits!
With the scope of this novel, we did a lot more planning than I’d usually do for a novel, with a doc that read like a small novella. Not only did we have to get the continuity right for the story, but also the location and historical events. At one point we’d plotted a boat journey, then found it didn’t work so had to rewrite those scenes. Darn characters going off script!
Being an historical the research was very full on, especially as there wasn’t a lot of descriptive material out there for the time period for some of the more remote locations.
Another chance to be in to win: where in the world are you, and what’s a story/TV show/movie set there?