My book, Playing For Love, written as my alter ego Jeevani Charika has been shortlisted for the RNA’s Jane Wenham-Jones romantic comedy award! This is the third time I’ve made it onto an RNA shortlist. Fingers crossed for third time being lucky.

Sam and Luke work in the same office, but unbeknownst to each other, they both secretly play online games at night. Sam has had a cyber-crush on a famous YouTuber called Blaze for years, and when she wins the chance to play alongside him in an online tournament, her crush only intensifies. Except, he only has eyes for other girl he knows in real life. Sam is so smitten that she ignores this nice guy called Luke at work, who keeps buying her coffee and helping her out. What she doesn’t know is that Luke is Blaze.
Luke has a crush on Sam. Sam has a crush on Blaze. How will this game of love play out?

I had the idea years ago, while watching a superhero cartoon with my then pre-schooler. During lockdown, we all started spending more of our lives online, and the idea of falling in love with someone online seemed far more plausible. I wrote the book in 2021, while we were still in lockdown.

Buy Playing For Love in ebook, paperback or audio.

Plot your Novel In One Morning

It’s back!

Doing NanoWriMo in November but don’t have a plot yet?
Need a bit of time dedicated to thinking about your book with helpful advice on hand?
Going to the RNA York Tea and want to make a day of it?
We have just the thing for you.

The Plot Your Novel in a Morning workshop is happening 9.30am – 12 noon, on the 3rd of September at Miller’s Yard in York.

Date: Saturday 3rd September 2022
Cost: £35 (£30 if you book before the end of July).
Venue: The Loft, Miller’s Yard, Gillygate, York, YO31 7EB.
Time: 9.30 – 12
What to bring: Pen and paper and ideas.

To book or for more information email rhodabaxter@gmail.com or Janelovering@gmail.com

We ran this course for a couple of years (before Covid!) and some of the books plotted in the room are now on bookshelves!
Come and join the fun. There will be biscuits.

Book Review: Spirited by Julie Cohen

Spirited by Julie Cohen

This was a lovely, uplifting read.

Viola and Jonah are married, but they’re virtually strangers to each other. Which is weird because they’ve been friends all their lives. Henriette is a charlatan, but a very good one.

This is a historical novel set in the time of the Raj. It took me a while to get into it, but once I was hooked, I read the rest in one day. I loved how Viola grew stronger as the book went on and how the story between her and Jonah resolved. (I’m trying really hard not to give away any spoilers here, can you tell?)

This is a very interesting book about faith and trust and the curious place that truth has in real life. I really enjoyed the story and the ending was just wonderful.

I’ve always enjoyed Julie Cohen’s books and this one was no exception.

RoNA Award shortlisting for A Convenient Marriage

Cover showing brown henna patterned hands, making a heart shape

As you know, I write women’s fiction under the name Jeevani Charika. I’ve talked before about A Convenient Marriage and how it was the book of my heart (we all have one of those stories that we love a little bit more than the others). I’m over the moon to tell you that it’s been shortlisted for a RoNA award (Contemporary Romance category).

The RoNAs are the UK Romantic Novelists Association’s annual awards. Sort of like the RWAs, RITA awards, but smaller and hopefully less problematic. (The books are judged by readers who are not members of the RNA, which is a good start).

As if weren’t enough to be shortlisted, just LOOK at who’s on the list with me! Sophie Kinsella! Carole Matthews! I’m honoured to be able to sit alongside Sunday Times Bestsellers and Queens of the genre. Sue Moorcroft did the NWS critique for A Convenient Marriage over ten years ago. So, yeah. Wow.

We won’t know who’s won until March 2nd, but the confidence boost of making it onto the list is wonderful. I have been on a shortlist before – Girl Having A Ball was on the rom com category shortlist in 2017. So I’ve now had a shortlisting under both names.

Wish me luck!

PS: If you haven’t read A Convenient Marriage yet, it’s still only 99p (ebook only, at the moment, there’s no paperback yet).

Christmas For Commitmentphobes is out now!

Book cover Christmas For Commitmentphobes. SE Asian girl with snowy festive background

As if one book wasn’t enough, I’ve got a second book out just in time for Christmas. This one is a shorter read (but still a full story). It seems 2019 is my year of releasing LGBTQ+ romances. Christmas for Commitmentphobes and A Convenient Marriage were written many years apart and released under two different pen names, but it seems that now is the time to release books about BAME people who are queer.

Book cover - Asian girl in front of snowy Christmas scene

At Christmastime, the last thing you need is more commitments.

Lara needs to give her full attention to her haulage logistics company (Haulistic Solutions). Tilly can’t wait to go travelling again. Neither of them is ready for a relationship. But when they end up stranded in a village in Yorkshire, the attraction is undeniable.

A holiday romance is all well and good, but what happens when they have to go their separate ways again?

Cover Reveal: This Stolen Life

My alter ego Jeevani Charika has a book coming out on the 8th of May. It’s a story about motherhood, student life and the secrets we hide from the people we love. It will be published by Hera books.

Here’s the cover and the blurb. 🙂

Book cover for This Stolen Life by Jeevani Charika. Asian woman smiling with book title text.

Would you tell the truth, if it meant losing your one true love?

Soma is a shy young woman adrift in a strange new country. After moving from Sri Lanka to Yorkshire to become a nanny to baby Louis, Soma tries to settle into life in the U.K., even if every day presents her with a new challenge, from trying new food or getting to grips with the language. 

But the one thing Soma never counted on was falling in love. When she meets Sahan, a Sri Lankan student at the local university, the two feel an instant attraction. Meeting in secret so that Sahan can teach Soma English, their friendship quickly blooms into something more. But their differing backgrounds – Soma is from poverty, while Sahan is the son of a wealthy family and cousin to Soma’s employer – means they have to hide their love from the world. 

While they bare their souls to each other, Sahan has no idea that Soma is hiding a huge secret from him – but as her lies come crashing down, Soma is faced with an impossible choice. Should she tell the truth – even if means losing Sahan?

A moving, unique and utterly engrossing love story about how well we really know the person we fall in love with – fans of Amanda Prowse, Jojo Moyes and Diane Chamberlain will be captivated.

Preorder it now for 99p

Book review: Christmas Secrets By the Sea by Jane Lovering (@janelovering)

Christmas Secrets by the SeaChristmas Secrets by the Sea by Jane Lovering
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m a fan of Jane’s books, so when I saw an ARC was available, I snapped it up and read it straight away.
Tansy is living in a camper van (in winter!) and is currently parked up somewhere near the Dorset coast. Something has happened to her in the past and she’s mostly trying not to think about it. She’s been adopted by a smelly dog called Brian. I love the idea of Brian, but I don’t think I’d like to meet him in real life. Not unless he’s been thoroughly washed first.

Davin is an up and coming Irish actor who is in Dorset filming a thing about life guards. He’s quite grumpy. Tansy ends up having to ‘babysit’ Davin – as in get him away from set for a day so that he and his co-star don’t end up killing each other. Davin has secrets of his own. He also has a dog called Seelie … whom Brian seems to be in love with.

Davin is lovely and unusually emotionally intelligent. Tansy is just the right amount of prickly. There’s a lot of weather in this book – wet, mainly. There’s also a nice little foray into Christmas Steepleton (as featured in The Boys of Christmas, which I love dearly).

All in all, another great read from Jane Lovering.
Usual disclaimer – I know Jane in real life, but I was a fan of her books well before I met her. I received an ARC of this book from the publisher (thank you!).

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Review: The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare

The Duchess Deal (Girl Meets Duke, #1)The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Tessa Dare is a new author to me, but a lot of people I respect recommeded her on Twitter, so I thought I’d try one of hers. I loved it.
Ash is scarred and makes wise cracks to hide his pain. He needs a wife to make sure he has an heir, but he’s not expecting any woman to fall for him because he thinks he’s too scarred. His staff are fiercely loyal to him and are doing their best to get their master to fall in love. I kept thinking of Beauty and the Beast – the Disney version.
Emma is proud but pragmatic. She knows that a seamstress and disgraced daughter of a parson isn’t likely to get an offer to marry a Duke, so she takes the opportunity when she’s offered it. She and Ash fall for each other, but take ages to admit it to each other.
I love the sense of humour and the interaction between the two. There were a couple of scenes (especially the one with the cat!) which made me laugh out loud.
I don’t read many historicals, so I have no idea about historical accuracy, but as a rom com, it’s brilliant.

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Little Haunting By the Sea by Kate Johnson

Little Haunting By The Sea: A romantic comedy, with ghosts

Little Haunting By The Sea: A romantic comedy, with ghosts by Kate Johnson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow. This is an unusual and wonderful book.

Jen sees dead people. There’s one dead Victorian child, Alice, who is her constant (ghost) companion, but there are others whereever she goes. Her family thought she was mentally ill and took her to see various doctors and sometimes the drugs helped… but in general, she can see ghosts. She’s come to accept that.

Quinn is haunted in a different way. He lost his famous twin brother and now he’s scarred in more ways that one (he’s missing a leg too). He’s a grumpy as hell Irish detective. If you like a grumpy hero, he’s your man. I really liked Quinn.

Then there’s Alice. She’s dead, but she’s wonderfully sarcastic. There are other ghosts as well, but they’re not as fun as Alice.

This is a book about ghosts and mental illness and social stigma, but those are handled well. Overall, it’s a great rom com with darker themes as an undercurrent. It’s really very good. You should read it.

I received an ARC of this book. I know the author in real life, but I’ve loved her books since before I met her. So you can be assured that this is my honest opinion.

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