Related to: 'The Thousand Lights Hotel'

December Book of the Month

Nikki and Damien continue in Take Me

I awake to an empty bed and the smell of frying bacon. I roll over to find my phone on the bedside table, then glance at the time. Not yet six. I groan and fall back among the pillows, but I don't really want to go back to sleep. What I want is Damien. I slide out of bed, then grab the tank top and yoga pants I'd left draped across a nearby armchair. I head barefoot out of the bedroom and move the short distance down the hall to the third-floor kitchen. We're standing in Damien's Malibu house, and the wall of windows that faces the ocean is wide open, the glass panels having been thrust aside to let in the breeze. The smell of the ocean mingles with the scent of breakfast and I breathe deep, realizing that I am content. Whatever demons had poked at me during the night, Damien effectively banished them. I glance toward the windows and out at the darkened Pacific. Waves glow white in the fading moonlight as they break upon the shore. There is beauty there, and part of me wants to walk to the balcony and stare out at the roiling, frothing water. But the siren call of the ocean is nothing compared to my desire to see Damien, and so I turn away from the windows and head straight to the kitchen. It is larger than the one in the condo I used to share with my best friend, Jamie, and it is not even the primary kitchen for this house. That is on the first floor, and could easily service a one-hundred-table restaurant. But this - the "small" kitchen - was installed as an adjunct to the open area that serves as a venue for entertaining, and since it is just down the hall from our bedroom, Damien and I have gotten into the habit of cooking our meals and eating in this cozier, more informal area. Usually we're joined by Lady Meow-Meow, the fluffy white cat I took custody over when Jamie moved out. I know Lady M misses Jamie, but she's also enjoying having the run of this huge house, and Gregory - the valet, butler, and all around house-running guy - spoils her rotten. Now I lean against the half wall that marks the break from hallway to kitchen. Damien is standing at the stove cooking an omelette as if he were nothing more than an ordinary guy. Except there is nothing ordinary about Damien Stark. He is grace and power, beauty and heat. He is exceptional, and he has captured me completely. At the moment, he is shirtless, and I cannot help the way my breath stutters as my eyes skim over the defined muscles of his back and his taut, strong arms. Damien's first fortune came not form business, but from his original career as a champion tennis player. Even now, years later, he has both the look and the power of an elite athlete. I let my gaze drift down appreciatively. He is wearing simple gray sweatpants that sit low on his narrow hips and cling to the curves of his perfectly toned ass. Like me, he is barefoot. He looks young and sexy and completely delicious. Yet despite his casual appearance, I can still see the executive. The powerful businessman who harnessed the world, who shifted it to his own liking and made a fortune in the process. He is strength and control. And I am humbled by the knowledge that I am what he values most of all, and that I will spend the rest of my life at his side. "You're staring," he says, his eyes still on the stove. I grin happily, like a child. "I enjoy looking at pretty things." He turns now, and his eyes rake over me, starting at my toes. "So do I," he says when his gaze reaches my face, and there is so much heat in his voice that my legs go weak and my body quivers with want. His mouth curves into a slow, sexy smile, and I am absolutely certain in that moment that I am going to melt. "You spoiled my surprise," he says, then nods toward the breakfast table where a tray sits with a glass bud vase displaying a single, red rose. "Breakfast in bed."

Headline Review

The Sea Between Us

Emylia Hall
Authors:
Emylia Hall

From the author of the Richard and Judy bookclub pick The Book of Summers comes a captivating, moving novel of love and family which will sweep you away to the beautiful coast of Cornwall.In a remote Cornish cove, on one of the last days of summer, Robyn Swinton is drowning. She is saved - just - by local boy Jago Winters, and it is a moment that will change both of them forever.Over the next seven years, Robyn and Jago's paths lead them in different directions, to city streets and foreign shores. Will the bond forged that day Jago dragged Robyn in from the sea be strong enough to bring them back to one another, or has life already pulled them too far apart?

Headline Review

A Heart Bent Out of Shape

Emylia Hall
Authors:
Emylia Hall

A snow-filled paradise is the scene for A Heart Bent Out of Shape from Emylia Hall, author of the Richard and Judy book club pick The Book of Summers. Readers of Patrick Gale and Esther Freud will adore this moving and evocative story of a first love, a terrible tragedy and a year that will never be forgotten.For Hadley Dunn, life so far has been uneventful - no great loves, no searing losses. But that's before she decides to spend a year studying in the glittering Swiss city of Lausanne, a place that feels alive with promise. Here Hadley meets Kristina, a beautiful but elusive Danish girl, and the two quickly form the strongest of bonds. Yet one November night, as the first snows of winter arrive, tragedy strikes. Hadley, left reeling and guilt-stricken, beings to lean on the only other person to whom she feels close, her American Literature professor Joel Wilson. But as the pair try to uncover the truth of what happened that night, their tentative friendship heads into forbidden territory. And before long a line is irrevocably crossed, everything changes, and two already complicated lives take an even more dangerous course...

Headline Review

The Book of Summers

Emylia Hall
Authors:
Emylia Hall

Beth Lowe has been sent a parcel. Inside is a letter informing her that her long-estranged mother has died, and a scrapbook Beth has never seen before. Entitled The Book of Summers, it's stuffed with photographs and mementos complied by her mother to record the seven glorious childhood summers Beth spent in rural Hungary. It was a time when she trod the tightrope between separated parents and two very different countries; her bewitching but imperfect Hungarian mother and her gentle, reticent English father; the dazzling house of a Hungarian artist and an empty-feeling cottage in deepest Devon. And it was a time that came to the most brutal of ends the year Beth turned sixteen.Since then, Beth hasn't allowed herself to think about those years of her childhood. But the arrival of The Book of Summers brings the past tumbling back into the present; as vivid, painful and vital as ever.

Anne Perry

Anne Perry is a New York Times bestselling author noted for her memorable characters, historical accuracy and exploration of social and ethical issues. Her two series, one featuring Thomas Pitt and one featuring William Monk, have been published in multiple languages. Anne Perry has also published a successful series based around World War One and the Reavley family, and the recent standalone novel The Sheen on the Silk. Anne Perry was selected by The Times as one of the twentieth century's '100 Masters of Crime'.

Chloe Benjamin

Chloe Benjamin is the author of The Anatomy of Dreams, which won the Edna Ferber Fiction Book Award and was longlisted for the 2014 Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize. She lives with her husband in Wisconsin.

Christopher Golden

CHRISTOPHER GOLDEN is the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of such novels as Wildwood Road, The Boys Are Back in Town, The Ferryman, and Of Saints and Shadows. He has collaborated on books, comics, videogames and scripts with other writers, including Mike Mignola, Amber Benson, and Charlaine Harris. He has also written novels for teens and young adults, and, as an editor, he has worked on several short story anthologies. Golden was born and raised in Massachusetts, where he still lives with his family. www.christophergolden.com

Clemency Burton-Hill

Clemency Burton-Hill is one of the UK's leading arts broadcasters and writers. She is one of the presenters of BBC Radio 3 Breakfast, the Proms, and Young Musician of the Year as well as numerous other music and arts programmes on radio, television and online. A former presenter of The Culture Show and The Review Show, as a journalist she regularly contributes to the Observer, Economist, 1843 Magazine, FT Weekend, Guardian and Telegraph. She is also the classical music columnist for BBC Culture. An award-winning violinist, Clemency has performed all over the world under leading conductors. She is the co-founder of Aurora Orchestra and a patron of the music and arts education charities The Choir of London Trust and Dramatic Need.

David Churchill

David Churchill is the pseudonym of an award-winning journalist, who has conducted several hundred in-depth interviews with senior politicians, billionaire entrepreneurs, Olympic athletes, movie stars, supermodels and rock legends. He has investigated financial scandals on Wall Street, studio intrigues in Hollywood and corrupt sports stars in Britain, and lived in Moscow, Washington DC and Havana. He has edited four magazines, published seventeen books and been translated into some twenty languages. The Leopards of Normandy trilogy reflects his lifelong passion for history and his fascination for the extraordinary men and women of the past who shaped the world we live in today.

G X Todd

G X Todd is a thirty-four-year-old librarian from the West Midlands. Since completing a history degree at Birmingham University, she has worked for public libraries for more than a decade and currently holds an HGV licence because she drives a 35ft long library van around the borough.Defender is her first novel and the first in a four-part series featuring Pilgrim and Lacey.

Hannah Tinti

Hannah Tinti grew up in Salem, Massachusetts and has worked as a writer, editor and teacher. She is the author of the short story collection ANIMAL CRACKERS and co-founder and editor-in-chief of One Story magazine. Her first novel, THE GOOD THIEF, was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, winner of the Centre for Fiction's First Novel Prize and a recipient of the American Library Association's Alex Award. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Harriet Evans

Harriet Evans is the author of seven previous novels, Going Home, A Hopeless Romantic, The Love of Her Life, I Remember You, Love Always, Happily Ever After and Not Without You. She lives in London with her family.

J. Kenner

J. Kenner loves wine, dark chocolate, and books. She lives in Texas with her husband and daughters. Visit her online at www.jkenner.com to learn more about her and her other pen names, to get a peek at what she's working on, and to connect through social media.

Jen Williams

JEN WILLIAMS started writing about pirates and dragons as a young girl and hasn't ever stopped. Her short stories have featured in numerous anthologies and her debut novel, The Copper Promise, was published in 2014 to huge acclaim. Jen was nominated in the Best Newcomer category at the 2015 British Fantasy Awards and her second novel, The Iron Ghost, was shortlisted for the 2016 British Fantasy Awards Novel of the Year award. All novels in the Copper Cat Trilogy, The Copper Promise, The Iron Ghost, and The Silver Tide, are available from Headline in the UK. The Ninth Rain is the first electrifying new novel of The Winnowing Flame Trilogy. Jen lives in London with her partner and their cat.

Jill Mansell

Jill Mansell is the author of over twenty Sunday Times bestsellers including MEET ME AT BEACHCOMBER BAY, YOU AND ME, ALWAYS, THE ONE YOUR REALLY WANT and THREE AMAZING THINGS ABOUT YOU. TAKE A CHANCE ON ME won the Romantic Novelists' Association's Romantic Comedy Prize, and in 2015 the RNA presented Jill with an outstanding achievement award.Jill keeps in touch with her readers on Twitter - @JillMansell - and Facebook - /OfficialJillMansell. She lives in Bristol with her family.

Jill Shalvis

New York Times bestseller Jill Shalvis is the author of many romance novels including her acclaimed Cedar Ridge, Lucky Harbor and Animal Magnetism series. The RITA winner and three-time National Readers Choice winner makes her home near Lake Tahoe. Visit her website at www.jillshalvis.com for a complete book list and daily blog, and www.facebook.com/jillshalvis for other news or follow her on Twitter @jillshalvis.

Jo Thomas

Jo Thomas worked for many years as a reporter and producer, first for BBC Radio 5, before moving on to Radio 2's The Steve Wright Show. In 2013 Jo won the RNA Katie Fforde Bursary. Her debut novel, The Oyster Catcher, was a runaway bestseller in ebook and was awarded the 2014 RNA Joan Hessayon Award and the 2014 Festival of Romance Best Ebook Award. Jo lives in the Vale of Glamorgan with her husband and three children.

John Lescroart

John Lescroart is the author of over twenty-five novels (and numerous New York Times bestsellers), including The 13th Juror, Damage, The Hunter, and The Ophelia Cut. His books have sold more than 10 million copies and have been translated into twenty languages in seventy-five countries. He lives in Northern California.

Judith Lennox

Judith Lennox grew up in rural Hampshire and studied at the University of Lancaster, where she met her husband Iain; they have three sons, three grandsons and a granddaughter. Judith lives with her husband in Cambridge.

Karen Maitland

Karen Maitland travelled and worked in many parts of the United Kingdom before settling for many years in the beautiful medieval city of Lincoln, an inspiration for her writing. She is the author of The White Room, Company of Liars, The Owl Killers, The Gallows Curse and The Falcons of Fire and Ice. She has recently relocated to a life of rural bliss in Devon.www.karenmaitland.com

Katherine Clements

Katherine Clements is a critically acclaimed novelist, self-confessed costume drama addict and current Royal Literary Fund Fellow at the University of Manchester. She is editor of Historia, the online magazine of the Historical Writers' Association, and is a member of the HWA committee. @KL_Clements