Category Archives: Womens Lit

Welcome Helen Pollard

Join me in welcoming Helen Pollard to Highlighted Author!

Welcome, Helen. Please tell us about yourself and your book, Holding Back.

Helen Pollard author picI know all authors say this, but it’s true – I’ve loved writing for as long as I can remember. As a child, I had a vivid imagination fuelled by my love of reading, especially Enid Blyton’s Magic Faraway Tree books which I read well past my bedtime by the light of the street lamp outside my window! I loved the way she created a whole new world in each and every chapter and wanted to do that for myself, so I started writing stories in a special notebook. I still have it, although it’s a little battered now.

And I’ve been writing ever since. It went on the backburner while I juggled work and bringing up a family, but as the kids grew older and I started to write again, it was like rediscovering an old love, so I decided I would make a serious attempt at getting published.

Holding Back is my second romance. I have other works in progress that are not full-on love stories, but somehow the romance creeps in a little, or at least the promise of it. We live in a fast-paced and cynical world, but I believe readers still want that feel-good factor.

I try to immerse the reader in the setting of my books and aim for believable characters. Since the characters tend to take over and dictate where the story goes, they seem pretty real to me! I also try to lighten things up with a little humour here and there. Romance should never be too serious.

I live in Yorkshire, UK, with my husband, two teenagers and a psychotic cat. When I’m not working or writing, it goes without saying that I love to read. I also enjoy a good coffee in a quiet bookshop and appreciate the company of family and close friends.

 Connect with Helen

Website & Blog | Facebook | Twitter |  Goodreads 


Holding Back

by Helen Pollard

Holding Back coverThe last thing they’re looking for is love …

Laura Matheson is a natural at avoiding romance, so when she is drawn to mystery guest Daniel Stone while helping out at her friends’ hotel in Portugal, she assumes all she needs is a little extra willpower.

Daniel is at the hotel on business. The demands of work and a manipulative ex-girlfriend mean he doesn’t have the time or energy for romance, but Laura is a distraction he finds hard to ignore.

As they negotiate a minefield of misunderstandings and mutual attraction, will they both continue to hold back? Or will they finally allow love into their lives?


 What They’re Saying:

“The most enchantingly romantic book I’ve read in a very long time … It is exquisite torture and it feels every inch natural and true, as do this couple who are not perfect, but are perfect for each other … If you want to believe again in the magic of love, just settle in and let Ms. Pollard lead you to Laura and Daniel’s hard won happily-ever-after.”–Cynthia, A Woman’s Wisdom 



Laura’s mind raced as her footsteps slowed. What on earth was he doing here? The unlikely hope he might be passing by—perhaps he’d called in for directions to somewhere else?—was immediately scotched as he lifted his luggage from the car. Reminded of their encounters at the airport, she could have squirmed with embarrassment at how out of character she’d acted, making mistakes and being so snappy about them.

Well, he wouldn’t see her like that again. If Daniel Stone was a guest here—and it seemed there was no escaping from it—then she must make him welcome. For goodness’ sake, she was used to dealing with awkward situations every day at school!

He turned at the sound of her footsteps. Forcing a calmness into her voice that didn’t extend to her stomach, she stepped forward and held out her hand.

“Mr. Stone? Welcome to the Quinta Maria.”

Closing the car, he straightened up to his full six-foot-something and reached out to shake hands. For one brief, glorious moment, Laura thought he might not recognise her now that she was spruced up a little, but any hope of that disappeared as his eyes narrowed in sudden recognition and his hand dropped to his side as though it had been burned.

“It seems you have the advantage over me, knowing my name,” he said. “Since you’re determined to turn up like a bad penny wherever I go, perhaps you could enlighten me with yours?”

Incensed, Laura bit back a response. They were no longer on neutral ground, and as his host, she could hardly give him a piece of her mind.

“I’m Laura Matheson,” she replied as evenly as she could. “If you’ll excuse me, I’ll get your key and then I’ll show you around.”

Disappearing into reception before he could find further fault with her, she crossed to the desk and raked her tired eyes over the reservations spreadsheet with a growing sense of disbelief. Not only was Daniel Stone booked in for a full fortnight, but he’d been allocated the room next to hers. Even Paulo and Rachel were unknowingly conspiring against her!

“You’re in room eleven,” she announced, sensing his presence in the doorway. “Your other party checked in earlier. Will you require a second key?”

“My other party?”

Something in his tone made her glance up. She recognised the travel weariness in his stance, but his face showed only bewilderment.

“Yes.” She squinted at the computer screen again. “Miss Hartman.”

His eyes froze to a dangerous dark blue. “Natalie Hartman?”

“That’s right,” she confirmed, double-checking the name. “Is there a problem?”

“What time did she check in?” His mouth was a hard, thin line.

She frowned. “I’m sorry, I don’t know.”

“You don’t know?” There was incredulity in his voice, along with displeasure and a hint at incompetence on her part.

Laura didn’t like it, nor was she going to take it. “I don’t know because I wasn’t here in reception when she checked in. As you’re aware, I only arrived here a short while ago myself. I …” She stopped. There was no need for her to explain herself. Frankly, she couldn’t understand why he didn’t just go and talk to his companion. After all, they were sharing a double room.


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Welcome the Authors of Summer In Snow Valley

Summer in Snow Valley


Blog Tour Schedule

Summer in Snow ValleySummer in Snow Valley

#1 Bestselling Amazon Authors of Christmas in Snow Valley, have teamed up again with six wonderful summer novellas that are sure to make your summer sweet and sassy!

Catching Caytie by Amazon Top Seller Cindy Roland Anderson

On the night Caytie Holbrook intends to break up with her cheating boyfriend, he blindsides her by announcing their engagement at a dinner party. When Caytie discovers her father is in on the scheme, she runs away from her home in Beverly Hills to hide out at her uncle’s ranch in Snow Valley, Montana. While Snow Valley is a beautiful place, Caytie only plans to stay until her twenty-fifth birthday when she’ll inherit a trust fund her grandmother left her, allowing her to pursue her dream to move to Italy. That is until she meets Jace McAllister, an incredibly sexy—although somewhat grumpy—cowboy who threatens to disrupt her plans.

Tin Foil Tiaras by Amazon Top Seller Jeanette Lewis

Cameron Elliott has come to Snow Valley to coach Annalisa Drake in the Miss Snow Valley pageant, and prove to her demanding boss that she deserves a place at the prestigious Westbrooke Agency. But Annalisa’s handsome and protective big brother, Kyle, is determined to keep his sister from becoming a reluctant beauty queen. As Cameron tries to win Kyle over, Kyle insists some things are more valuable than a title and as crazy as it sounds, Cameron might just believe him.

A Touch of Love by Amazon Top Seller Cami Checketts

Annie Stirland has endured a lifetime of teasing, embarrassment, and isolation due to her speech impediment. When irresistible cowboy, Luke Wilson, seems to be falling for her, she’s certain he’s too good to be true. A tragedy involving his ex-girlfriend proves she’s right. What man can resist sheltering someone they once loved? Annie knows she should walk away, but Luke isn’t ready to give her up.

First Love; Love First by Amazon Top Seller Taylor Hart

Janet Snow doesn’t expect to get caught in a full-blown make out session at her brother’s wedding. Especially not with Michael Hamilton, the boy she’d written off ten years ago. Even though they both agree to no complications, Janet’s not sure they can stick to it given their past. After a trip to the hot springs, a helicopter ride, and a proposal, even the most cautious single mother would start to wonder if true love really is just about the timing. Now Janet has to make a choice—play it safe or trust that her first love could also be her last.

Romancing Rebecca by Amazon Top Seller, Kimberley Montpetit

Rebecca Dash loved spending her teen summers swooning over Jane Austin and helping her aunt at the Starry Skies Bed & Breakfast in Snow Valley. But as a recent college grad, she’d rather write sappy romance novels than go out with guys that make her a nervous wreck. When a team of fire-fighters set up camp on the lawns of the B&B and Captain Wade catches her eye, Becca soon learns that there’s more to a happily-ever-after than a flirty fireman with muscles the size of the Montana hills.

Love in Light and Shadow by Amazon Top Seller Lucy McConnell

Mercedes O’Shay has sworn off gorgeous men because they have a tendency to break her heart. When she meets her new neighbor, Chet Bauer, she immediately puts him in the Do Not Date category based on his well-defined muscles and stunning blue eyes. But the more Mercedes learns about the cowboy who reads classics and forges iron, the more she realizes the heart doesn’t see in black and white; it sees light and shadows.

Grab your copy for just 99 cents!

Summer in Snow Valley Graphic 99 cents


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Blog Tour Giveaway

$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 6/25/15

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Welcome, Christine Elise McCarthy!

We are excited to welcome professional actress, Christine Elisa McCarthy, to the Highlighted Author. You’ve watched her on U4EA, Beverly Hills 90210, ER, and Child’s Play 2  among other shows and films. Today we’re featuring her debut novel Bathing & The Single Girl. It’s hilariously funny. It’s fabulously relatable. It’s totally Christine. Enjoy! –Jo Grafford, Highlighted Author Co-Hostess


Bathing & The Single Girl

BathingandthesinglegirlCoverBathing & The Single Girl is the smutty, mercilessly irreverent and laugh-out-loud funny debut novel by actress Christine Elise McCarthy.  Inspired by her one-woman short film of the same name, it’s the kind of novel Jonathan Ames might write if he’d dropped out of college and had been working as an actress in Hollywood for the last 20 years.

The life of an actress in LA isn’t all glamour, money, and bedding rock stars.  Sometimes it’s more about humiliation, red wine hangovers, and the bad decisions they fuel.  Ruby Fitzgerald has barely worked in years, not that anyone remembers her for anything but her short stint on a long-canceled but iconic TV show.  But that was back when her career prospects seemed on the upswing — longer ago than Ruby cares to admit, and awkward sex with regrettable partners is doing nothing to take the edge off. Everything once functional in her house is going on strike, but the unemployment checks barely cover the mortgage, and a self-respecting girl needs to be able to pay her bar tab — so repairs are on hold.  One more bubble bath and a few more cocktails.  A gal can always get responsible tomorrow.

With everything mounting against her, a cranky and increasingly despairing Ruby will have to find out if her life’s larger indignities are the result of bad luck, or a chronically bad attitude.  What follows is a walking tour of the hilarious depths you can sink to if you stop exercising your best judgment.

Purchase Bathing & the Single Girl now:



Christine – from the screen to the world of publication

Christine Elise McCarthyChristine Elise McCarthy has been acting professionally for 25 years and is recognized primarily for her roles as U4EA-popping bad girl, Emily Valentine, on Beverly Hills, 90210, as Harper Tracy on ER, and as Kyle, the gal who killed Chucky in Child’s Play 2.  She has also appeared in recurring roles on China Beach, In the Heat of the Night, and Tell Me You Love Me.  Among her other film roles are Abel Ferrara’s Body Snatchers and two films starring Viggo Mortensen: Vanishing Point and Boiling Point.

As a writer, she has written three episodes of Beverly Hills, 90210 as well as characters and storylines for the series, a pilot that was optioned by Aaron Spelling, and comical true-life essays that she performed at the Upright Citizens Brigade and Naked Angels theaters in LA.  She maintains an irreverent food porn blog called for which she provides recipes, photographs and sometimes shares details of the triumphs and, more frequently, the humiliations of her own life. She has a great passion for photography ( and has shown her pin-up and decaying Americana imagery in the United States & Paris.  She has been on the selection committee of Michigan’s Waterfront Film Festival since its inception in 1999, she is co-director of the Victoria Texas Independent Film Festival, programs for the Self-Medicated Film Festival and The Lady Filmmakers Film Festival, and consults & judges for many others.  Her directorial debut, Bathing & the Single Girl, was accepted into over 100 film festivals and won 20 awards.

Bathing & the Single Girl, inspired by the short film, is her debut novel.

Here is a link to a recent & comprehensive radio interview about everything Christine is up to –


Follow Christine in Social Media

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Check out Christine’s food porn blog –

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Follow Bathing & The Single Girl – the Book on Facebook.

Follow Christine on Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram | Author Website



“I’m sorry, but is anyone sitting in the seats on either side of you?”

He turned and looked at me with huge blue eyes which were set off by an amazing quiff of nearly white hair. I’m not one that typically goes for towheads but something about his face made my heart pitter pat. He appeared to be in his early thirties. He looked at the seats beside him and turned to me and shook his head.

“Well, would you mind terribly moving over one so that my friend and I can sit here?”

“Fo shizzle,” he replied and scooted over a seat. Eliza and I bellied up to the bar.

“This your first time here?” he inquired.

“What? We look like we don’t belong here?” I snapped back defensively and reflexively removed my granny sweater.

“Whoa, Cuz. I was just making small talk.”

“I’m sorry,” I said as I tucked my sweater beneath me and wondered if I’d really just been addressed as “Cuz.” “It is my birthday and it hasn’t been a very good night so far.”

“Happy birthday! Let me buy you guys a round, Big Willie style.” He smiled a shy smile that was in contrast to his urban verbiage and he touched my shoulder. He called the bartender by his first name (Thaddeus) and I ordered a glass of champagne. Eliza was still pawing her first glass of wine.

“Thanks. That is very sweet of you. So, you must come here a lot, huh? You know the bartender by name and all.”

He nodded as he sipped what looked like a gin and tonic but more likely involved exotic tinctures and artisanal liqueur and probably set him back thirty bucks. I eyed the candied lime astride the rim and wondered if it was made of fruit or Chuckles. You could never tell with hipsters these days, what with their irony and irreverence. Thaddeus placed a glass of champagne before both me and Eliza, made some hat-doffing, semi-bow gesture and moved away.

“Ya dig, my Thaddeotis. Celeb mixologist. I’m all about livin’ nappy, yo. Know what I’m saying?”

I did not. Undeterred, I forged ahead.

“Can I ask why you come here? This place sucks.”

“Co-owner Mos is my OG homie skittle, son,” he explained and touched my cheek.

I tried to put an expression on my face that 1) suggested I understood what he had just said and 2) looked noncommittal enough to suggest that I agreed with him—whether what he’d said had been good or bad and 3) hid the fact that I was secretly swooning every time he touched me. Eliza kicked me under the bar. I grabbed my champagne and took a long swallow, trying to distract my platinum wigga from seeing in my eyes that I had no idea what the fuck he was talking about.

“My name is Ruby. This is my friend Eliza.”

“Word. I’m Bunker.” He smiled again and pierced me with those baby blues. He reached out and removed an invisible bit of lint from my dress. It was all I could do not to press my heaving bosom into his retreating palm.

“Bunker? Really? Bunker? Eliza, did you hear that? Isn’t that unbelievable?”

“Yes. I have been listening and yes, it is unbelievable.”

Her sarcasm was lost on me.

“My dog! I had a dog named Bunker. He just died last month. His name was Edward Bunker.”

I said that to Eliza, as if she didn’t already know.

“Facheezie on the reezie! That is some crazy shiznit, Holmes. My middle name is Edward,” interjected Bunker, and then he touched my champagne glass. I took it to mean I should finish the glass. I drained it and, as I chewed the green-tea infused lychee that had been at the bottom of the flute, I gestured to the bartender that I was ready for another. I was very excited about this Bunker business.

“This is amazing! Are you a fan of Edward Bunker?” I asked him and, without even waiting for his response, I turned back to Eliza. “Can you believe this, Eliza? Isn’t this crazy?”

“Craaazy shiznit, fo sho,” Eliza quipped. I heard her mocking tone that time. I mean—she never said shiznit at home. I threw her a little warning stink-eye. A fresh glass of champagne was before me. Bunker touched it twice and then touched my cheek again. He looked directly into my eyes when he touched me. I blushed and grabbed my drink. My head was swimming with wine and champagne and the crazy odds that I would meet a cute guy that shared a name with my recently deceased dog. And on my birthday. It had to be sign. I looked at Eliza and I could tell she saw the hearts bursting above my head. I fixed her with the “Wow, can you believe my luck?” look.

“I’m gonna go to the ladies’ room. Ruby, will you come with me?”

“Go ahead, Shorty. I’ll watch your drinks.” He touched my shoulder again.

I giggled a thank you, took a huge slug of champagne. Standing up, I suddenly felt the impact of the five plus drinks I had had in probably just over an hour. Hoping Bunker was watching us, I tried very deliberately to suck in my gut and be sure I did not stumble in my heels. I could hardly wait to get into the privacy of the bathroom and discuss these exciting new developments.

“Oh my God! I LOVE him! And his name is Bunker! How perfect is that? Isn’t this crazy?”

“Word, Dawg,” she said and flashed me a gang sign.

“I know, but, I don’t know. Maybe he is trying to talk black to… compensate for… being practically an albino…” I said, stumbling into an end to a sentence I had begun with no formed conclusion. “AndheissocuteandhekeepstouchingmeandhisnameisBunker!” I thrilled.

“I don’t know who is more retarded, you right now or Yo MTV Raps out there.” Eliza was laughing.

“You don’t think he is cute?”

“I guess he’s okay. You know who he is, right?”

“No. Who is he?”

“He is an actor. He was in that movie about the kangaroo that became President.”

“THAT’S Jerry O’Connell?”

“No, the other kangaroo movie. The impossibly dumber one…”

“Dumber than? …oooh…” I exhaled my realization, deflated by this new information. “But still. Tonight sucks. My life sucks. My career is on life support, I’m hopelessly broke and I haven’t kissed a boy in five years.” I let that soak in for both of us before I continued. “Fuck it, Eliza. He is very cute and every time he touches me I think I am going to faint.”

“I saw him on Oprah a long time ago. He has Tourette’s syndrome,” she said gingerly, as if it had great meaning. I stared blankly back at her. I was pretty buzzed. Then it dawned on me.

“Oh! You think that’s why he hangs out here?”


“You know. Shouting out ‘FUCK’ and fucking… blurting out racial slurs… might not seem so offensive in a restaurant with ‘Nga’ in the name and bizarre, culturally insensitive art on the walls… right? I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but it’s like a racist free for all in here.”

“No. No. Some Tourette’s manifest as ticks—like OCD. Like—counting stairs and washing hands and… you know… touching things. He has no ability to control the urge to touch stuff. That is why he keeps tapping you and your drink and everything else.”

“Oh.” This was even more disappointing news to digest. I was determined to have a good birthday now, though.

“Well, his name is Bunker.”

“This is true,” Eliza charitably conceded.

“Five years, Eliza. I’m squandering my sexual prime! Tonight. Tonight, I’ve found a new sense of purpose. You know what comes after middle age, Eliza? Old age. Old age, Eliza. I need to find some fucker out there to step to the plate and blow the dust off my cooter and breathe some Goddamn life back into it. If you go too long without using it—it just puckers up, you know? Eliza. Yes. Like a prune. And nobody likes shriveled snatch flaps, Eliza. Nobody,” I said in my gravest tone.

“I think you are mixing some very unappetizing vagina metaphors there but thanks for the visual all the same.”

“I’m serious. I heard an unused twat gets all dried out and powdery like the elastic in your sports bra—you now—the one you find years later at the back of the drawer,” I said while pretending I was stretching the band of a crumbling athletic top. “I don’t want an ashy bajina!”

“My dry spell has been at least as long as yours but… this guy… really?”

Eliza was laughing but still not giving me the green light I was angling for.

“He really has Tourette’s and isn’t just, you know, unable to keep his hands off me because I’m wicked fabulous?”


“Well, would that explain why he talks like the D.O. Double G?”


“Eh—fuck it. I like him and I hate everyone. I’m going to go back out there to New Jack City and I’m going to flirt my ass off. It doesn’t mean I have to marry him. Right?”

“Heck to the yeah, Cherry Coke! Stop trippin’.”

“I had no idea you were so street, beatch.”

“Let’s get out there and get some of that dope mac-n-cheese, home slice,” she answered, dryly.

“Okay, Cockblockie. I get it. Shut up.”

We returned to the bar to find a new round of drinks next to our old ones. Bunker’s seat was now the perch for a scantily clad, Britney Spears look-a-like hooker slut. I looked at the two glasses in front of me and waited for the champagne to explain this new development.

“Bunker had to go but he bought you guys another round before he left,” Thaddeus said and stepped away quickly as if to avoid further questions. I got the distinct impression that he was embarrassed for us. For me, actually, because I am the center of the universe, a hundred years old, poverty stricken, fat and unfuckable. I looked at Eliza, trying to mask my humiliation.

“He probably just heard there was a blue light special on dookie ropes on Hollywood Boulevard or something,” Eliza said.

~ ~ ~


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