Andrea Walpole, author of To be Married in Haste
If I waved a magic wand and transformed To be Married in Haste into food it would be delicious sherbet; light, frothy and fizzing with fun.
Andrea's descriptions of clothes (drawing on a professional background in tailoring) are mouth-watering superb. Her characters are well drawn. Her heroine, Betty, is smart and gutsy and her hero, Edward, is romantic, idealistic and whimsical. Most importantly Andrea's dialogue and prose are laced with humour, as in this scene:
“Take care sir!” She stepped forward, closing the gap between them, her arms outstretched in a futile gesture as her hands would barely reach his knees. The man cocked his head, moonlight falling upon his chiselled jaw.
“Have no fear my sweet, I have the feet of a cat.”
He swept her another bow, deeper than the first. Losing his balance, one arm flailed for the security of the lamp post and his body bucked back and forth before he steadied himself.
She spied a glint of white even teeth. A grin? Betty clenched her fists. “More like the brains of a cat,” she muttered.
“Too harsh of you, my sweet, although I think I underestimated the importance of possessing a tail."
Edward isn't an alpha male. If bristling muscles and thunderous tempers are your cup of tea, this might not be for you. But if what you enjoy is regency wit and sparkle, reminiscent of Georgette Heyer's Cotillion and you like reading Loretta Chase or Julia Quinn then get voting for To Be Married in Haste.
Read Chapter One here.
Helen Kolacevic, author of Shameless.
There are three things I love about Shameless:
1. The warmth and believability of the relationships between the characters. The opening scene starts with the heroine, Martha, speaking to her cousin Beth. They are both great characters. Martha, who appears confident and determined, has a great deal of hidden vulnerability. Beth, who appears dreamier and less confident, has a great deal of hidden steel. She is the perfect foil to Martha and remains so throughout the book. The interplay between the male characters is similar and Martha and the Duke are a wonderful pair of duelling protagonists who find they meet each other's needs in ways they don't expect.
2. The dialogue between Martha and the Duke: it's poised, witty and charged with tension. Wonderfully done.
3. The sensuality of the relationship between Martha and the Duke. Helen does a great job of building up mental and emotional tension, in tandem with physical tension making each intimacy part of the relationship and its mental and emotional challenges. It's really well done.
If you like the novels of Anne Gracie (such as the Merridew Sisters series) or Nicola Cornick then you'll love Shameless.
Read Chapter One here.
I have my fingers crossed that both Andrea and Helen succeed in progressing through to the next round of Mills & Boon's New Voices contest. They both have talent and originality and craftsmanship and their work deserves a wide audience.