Monday Merry Meet: Kate Baker

We are thrilled to have debut author, Kate Baker visit us to chat about her book, Maid of Steel, writing and ghostly goings on at boarding school. Her Instagram stories, Otis her dog photos, and chats always make us smile especially this week with her book launch. If you don’t follow her, you’re missing a treat.

Grab your favourite beverage and put your feet up for five to catch up with her news.

Monday Merry Meet: Kate Baker

A photo of Otis a black and tan dachshund sitting on a lap

Willow: Welcome Kate and Otis, I hope you found us okay. Pop through to the back and make yourself comfy. Feel free to let Otis on the sofa, Vincent has gone on his daily prowl of the harbour so there will be plenty of room.

Kate: Otis, stop sniffing that door. I’m sure the witches have told their cats to stay away out of sight while you’re here!

Willow: Yes, with Vincent gone Black Cat is doing whatever feline ghosts do when they’re not haunting properties so we’re safe. What can we get you to drink? We have Yorkshire tea, herbal tea, and other blends, coffee or some celebratory Prosecco. We’re so excited about your debut release and have been following the excitement on your social media.

Kate:  May I be greedy and have a glass of Prosecco and a Camomile tea please? I found the latter to be particularly helpful when I was on the radio once.

Pouring prosecco into a glass photo black and white

Amber: I’m so glad you’re finally here as we have cake and Willow refused to let us have any without you. I’ve made Otis some homemade dog biscuits too.

Kate: I think he’s can smell that too – that nose of his will get him into trouble one day. I’d adore some cake, and thank you, Willow, for keeping it safe until I arrived.

Rosa: I’ve just finished reading Maid of Steel and adored the Irish location, and you’ve captured the atmosphere of the time. Emma is strong willed and ready to fight for suffrage. What made you choose this part of history?

Kate:  I was fascinated by the Cobh Heritage Centre, a museum down in the harbour of Cobh, formerly known as Queenstown. Depictions of mass emigration brought home to me how terrible life must have been for people in Ireland after the Potato Famine hit. They left their homes in desperation, and hoping to find a new life overseas. Not everyone made it. That became the backstory to Emma’s tale. Emma is the granddaughter of Ellen, an immigrant to New York who did, in fact, make it. Emma travels back to Ireland to see where her grandmother came from. She finds lots out about her family, and lots out about herself too! It had to be set in 1911 and 1912 because of how the book ends!

Willow: Your book mentions so many historical details we knew nothing about, such as soldier’s homes where soldiers could experience a few hours of normality to help with their mental health. Were you aware of these things before you wrote the story or did they crop up in research?

Kate: No! My dear friend, Hannah, whom travels with me when hubby is too busy to leave the farm, spotted the carved out letters in concrete above a doorway in the harbour. I’d have missed it completely! We returned to our hotel and googled it, and that’s when I discovered Emile Sandes (sometimes she’s known as Elise) and all that she did for the soldiers of Ireland and then when it caught on, England too. Emma wishes something like that had been around in the states for her brother.

Rosa: In essence, Maid of Steel is a forbidden love story. Have you always been attracted to this genre?

Kate: Yes. I love fiction where we can explore the darker side of life.

Amber: This is your debut. What has your publication journey been like? If you did it again, would you change anything?

Kate: Great question, Amber. Do you know something? I wouldn’t. I needed it to take four years for the story to evolve. Over that time, my craft and understanding of character improved and had I released it earlier, I fear it would not be the quality I hope it is today. Having jumped off the Finding-an-Agent path and landing on the Indie Publishing route, I had to learn a whole new approach, but that’s where The Book Guild have come into their own.

A photo of a three-tiered cake stand with cakes, a cup and sandwiches
Afternoon tea

Willow: Emma isn’t the only strong woman in your book. If you could choose one of your female characters to have afternoon tea with, who would you choose and why?

Kate: This is hard to answer! I think Alice is an intriguing devil, but it’s Mrs Walsh who really captures my attention. To seemingly have such an equal relationship with her husband in 1911 seems astonishing, yet he evidently loves her to be in work, and for a good cause, and doesn’t even bat an eyelid when she refused to be counted on the night of the Census! I’d love to know her outlook on life.

Willow: You live on a farm and run your own business, how do you balance writing and your other commitments?

Kate: By being incredibly flexible and not worrying if plans have to change. I can have a rough idea of how I want a day to go, but if one of my commitments becomes more pressing, then it has to come to the forefront and no longer do I let that bother me. I get on with it, get the other side of it and pick up the other stuff after. Chill, chill … whenever possible; that’s my motto!

Notebook open, coffee cup, kindle and pencil

Amber: Many writers visit the Emporium. Do you have any advice for people wanting to write?

Kate: Explore your ideas through free-writing. It’s hugely liberating, especially with a pen and paper. The blank screen of a laptop can be very daunting. A stolen five minutes in a carpark, or at the end of the kitchen table while the peas are simmering, can provide a quick moment of escape and your pen can flow with words as you think them. Not whole sentences; but random thoughts. Get them down, let them out. Often they quickly turn into a scene! And sometimes those scenes can morph into something from your WIP.

Willow: The Enchanted Emporium sells several candles in The Wishing Spell range which promise to help your day go smoothly. Which would you choose?

Kate: (picks up A Good Night’s Sleep candle) THIS ONE! I’m an insomniac so a good night’s sleep is a rare and beautiful thing!

Willow: One candle invokes memories of your perfect holiday or day when lit. Where would it take you?

Kate: Gosh, this is hard. Perhaps the rocky beaches near Padstow in North Cornwall, where we used to go regularly while the children were growing up. But equally can I be boring and say my south-facing patio and describe a ‘holiday’ from work and farm accounts? That’s my special place – and free to get to!

Illustration of a ghost reading a book of ghost stories

Amber: That sounds a perfect special place. Ghosts and paranormal activity plague The Enchanted Emporium. Have had had any spooky experiences – has it influenced your writing?

Kate: Oooh, I have! At boarding school, in Stamford, Lincolnshire. I was about twelve and killing a Saturday afternoon alone in the dormitory, idly playing my recorder. (I wasn’t very good at the recorder, by the way). At one point, a wardrobe door swung slowly open. I stopped playing and watched. The door opened fully. I began to play the same piece (don’t ask; I don’t recall) and one of the school navy tunics began to sway. I stopped playing and got up off the bed. It stopped swaying. I played again; it swayed. I stopped; it stopped. I was spooked by this and told my friends. They wanted me to re-enact it for them a couple of hours later and sadly, one of the girls got behind the wardrobe (unbeknown to me) and pushed it gently as I played. But I swear, that first time, no-one was in the room with me. I haven’t written anything spooky of any length, but have dabbled in a bit of horror writing, and science fiction, following a course last spring.

Willow: If we could blend you a bespoke potion to give you a superpower for 24 hours, what would it be?

Kate: For everything else around me to pause, and for me to be able to type with focus for hours!

Willow: Sounds a good plan. Our Enchanted Emporium bookshelf is a small lending library full of books with either fantastical, horror, witchy or paranormal theme. What would you add to it?

Kate: Have you got the Carlos Ruiz Zafon series? Set in ancient Barcelona? If not, your witches are missing out, as are your readers. They will thank me for this when you add the series!

Rosa: We’ll check. The bookshelf likes hiding books. I have a Box of Romance books I share with friends and customers. What would you add to it?

Kate: Pernille Hughes ‘Ten Years’ is a great one … Lucy Keeling’s series is fun, and I think the Time Travellers Wife is a classic.

Willow: And finally, what are you working on currently? Or is it top secret?

Kate: The Projectionist is an inter-generational friendship story about a 90-year-old man and an eleven-year boy who wants to run away from home before the end of a six-week summer holiday, before he has to go to High School. Frank becomes Toby’s mentor, an unlikely combination which the town frown upon at first, because people always judge books by their covers!

Willow: It sounds fantastic. Thank you and Otis for joining us.

Title: Maid of Steel

Author: Kate Baker

Publisher: The Book Guild

Genre: Historical fiction, romance

Release date: 28th Feb 2023

Purchase Links

Publisher’s link:

Amazon UK:

Amazon US:



It’s 1911 and, against her mother’s wishes, quiet New Yorker Emma dreams of winning the right to vote. She is sent away by her parents in the hope distance will curb her desire to be involved with the growing suffrage movement and told to spend time learning about where her grandparents came from.

Across the Atlantic – Queenstown, southern Ireland – hotelier Thomas dreams of being loved, even noticed, by his actress wife, Alice. On their wedding day, Alice’s father had assured him that adoration comes with time. It’s been eight years. But Alice has plans of her own and they certainly don’t include the fight for equality or her dull husband.

Emma’s arrival in Ireland leads her to discover family secrets and become involved in the Irish Women’s Suffrage Society in Cork. However, Emma’s path to suffrage was never meant to lead to a forbidden love affair…

Author Biography

Kate Baker

Kate Baker wrote terrible holiday diaries as a child, which her husband regularly asks her to read out loud for their entertainment. She has since improved and has written with intent since 2018. Maid of Steel is her second novel; the first is lining drawers in the vegetable rack at their farmhouse.




Monday Merry Meet: Linda Corbett

Welcome to another week to celebrate romantic fiction. We’re excited to have a new romantic author visit today, Linda Corbett whose novel. Love You From A to Z is a new addition to Rosa’s Box of Romance and the review can be found here.

Grab a cuppa and sink down into your seat to catch up with the this week’s chat.

Monday Merry Meet: Linda Corbett

Purple drink in a heart shaped mug
Purple Valentine’s Punch

Willow: Hi Linda, welcome to the Enchanted Emporium. Please have a seat. What can we get you to drink? We have different blends of tea including Yorkshire, coffee, hot chocolate or Valentine’s punch? It’s non-alcoholic but between you and me, the spell Amber has added to it makes you feel a tad tipsy. And are you ok with ferrets? Amber has an exam, so we’re looking after Beetle for her. He’s well behaved but I’d make sure any bags are closed as he likes a rummage.

Linda: Hello Willow! I’m afraid I am not a tea drinker, but Valentine’s punch sounds intriguing. I love all animals, although I’ve never encountered a ferret before, so that will be interesting.

Willow: Love You From A to Z is based on some letters being found in a storage container Jenna’s boyfriend, Matt buys. How did you come up with the idea? We never knew you could do such a thing.

Linda: One rainy autumnal afternoon my husband was watching “Storage Wars” on the telly. It must have stirred my imagination even though I wasn’t watching it, as I began to wonder whether people ever found personal items hidden away in these lockers, and what might happen if they did.

Two tan and black and white guinea pigs
Image by Ilona de Lange from Pixabay

Rosa: Your novel is the first I’ve ever read that has Guinea pigs in a starring roles and your love for them shines through. Did you always plan to include these adorable creatures in your debut? My son Alejo has already told me he wants one when he’s older.

Linda: I decided at the outset that the book would have guinea pigs in it somewhere. After all the stress of the 2020 lockdowns, I just wanted to write something that entertained me and not worry about markets or trends, so I created this fictional guinea pig rescue, which is run by the heroine’s sister and her partner. I then had enormous fun writing those scenes. And guinea pigs are like crisps – you can never have just one or two…

Willow: They’re like ferrets then. I’m amazed Amber just has the one. We loved Jenna and the t-shirt she wears. Your book gives an accurate portrayal of her living with a disability, how important was it for you to have a disabled protagonist in a romantic plot?  

Linda: It was my editor who asked if I would consider writing a disabled heroine, although I’d toyed with the idea previously. Disabled characters have often been poorly represented in fiction and on the screen, portrayed either as figures of fun or more often, deserving of pity. I wanted to show that Jenna sometimes finds life challenging, but she isn’t defined by her disability. At the beginning of the story, it’s her past and upbringing that holds her back, rather than her mobility issues. I grew up reading children’s books like Heidi, where disability was shown as a negative, sad thing, but even in recent years some novels still have an emphasis on pity for disabled characters. This is often an able-bodied person’s perception of disability, not the reality of everyday life with a disability. I believe everybody should have the chance to see themselves as the heroine of a romance novel.

And for anyone who hasn’t read the book, Jenna’s T-Shirt reads: “Legs not working efficiently. (Everything else meets or exceeds manufacturers’ specification)

Rosa: Such a good T-shirt. My mother wants one. Love You from A to Z is your debut, what has your publication journey been like? If you did it again, would you change anything?

Linda: My journey to publication has had plenty of ups and downs. My first attempt at a novel was ten years ago, definitely a practice effort and now buried somewhere on my laptop! However, my second attempt garnered some agent interest, and the third got me an agent. Sadly, the book wasn’t taken up and after I submitted novel number four, my agent contract was terminated. My fifth attempt was written on a wave of inspiration after receiving the Katie Fforde bursary in 2020, so Love You From A-Z is technically book six! In total, I clocked up over 220 rejections before I got that one “yes”. If I had to do the last ten years again, one thing I would definitely do is join the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writers’ Scheme much earlier than I did.

Willow: That is some journey and shows determination and perseverance does pay off. Reading your author biography, you’re busy with your charity work. Do you have a writing routine to help you fit it in?

Linda: I don’t have a fixed daily routine, but I’m definitely a morning person, so I’m usually at my laptop by 8:30 a.m. I do most of my writing in the morning unless I’ve reached a really exciting scene and then I just have to carry on! My Shine Surrey work has fitted around the writing, and my fellow committee members are very understanding when I’m knee deep in edits.

Illustration of books, scrolls and ink bottle with quill

Rosa: Many of our customers love the idea of writing a novel. Do you have any advice for novice disabled writers?

Linda: I would definitely recommend reading as widely as possible in your chosen genre, and also books that explain the craft of writing – I have found there are lots of helpful articles online too. Writing a book is a solitary experience, so it is helpful to join a writer’s group where you can have both peer support and some sort of critique of your work. Your mum or your sister may love your novel but won’t give you the honest, critical feedback you need. I know from firsthand experience that professional criticism can feel harsh, even brutal,  at times, but I’ve found out the hard way that you don’t know what you don’t know. Writing involves hours of effort, and having a disability adds another layer of difficulty, so set yourself sensible targets and don’t try to compare your progress to other people’s – that road leads to disappointment.

Willow: The Enchanted Emporium sells several candles in The Wishing Spell range which promise to help your day go smoothly. Which would you choose?

Linda: Ooh, I definitely need to try several of these, but I think I’d choose confidence.

Willow: One candle invokes memories of your perfect holiday or day when lit. Where would it take you?

Linda: I’d love to go back to the day in September 2012 when we visited the California redwoods as part of our road trip down the US west coast. I remember the calm silence of the ancient forest and standing alongside giants that were already fully grown trees at the time of the Norman conquest – it was awe inspiring.

Willow: That sounds amazing. Ghosts and paranormal activity plague The Enchanted Emporium. Have you ever had any spooky experiences – has it influenced your writing?

Linda: I have only once experienced something I couldn’t explain, but I was half asleep at the time so I’m unsure whether it was real or not. However, in Love You From A-Z, Jenna does see a ghost, and she also hears about a legend of doomed lovers cursed by a witch in the wood.

Willow: We often blend different potions beyond the love ones that are flying off the shelves this week. If we could create a spell to give you magical powers for 24 hours, what would it be?

Linda: I’m currently scouting around for story ideas, so I’d love one that gives me a boost of creative inspiration. I’d scribble down all the ideas before the potion wears off!

Rosa: My Box of Romance’s is proving popular thanks to Valentine’s Day. What would you add to it?

Linda: There are too many great stories to choose from – I’d have to visit with a suitcase!

Willow: And finally, what are you working on currently? Or is it top secret?

Linda: My next book is due to be published in the summer. The heroine, Maddy, is a journalist and Jane Austen fan who learns on Valentine’s day that not only has she lost her job, but she’s also inherited a house from a distant relation and black sheep of the family. What she didn’t realise was that the house came with certain obligations as well as an opinionated, romance-sceptic neighbour who also  happens to be a bestselling crime writer.

Rosa: Now that sounds fun. Thank you for coming and hope the punch hasn’t made you too giddy.

Love You From A to Z by Linda Corbett

Title: Love You From A to Z

Author: Linda Corbett

Publisher: One More Chapter

Genre: Romance

Release Date: 24th June 2022

Purchase Link –


Experience has told Jenna Oakhurst that Happy Ever After may happen in all the best stories, but Happy For Now is the best one ought to expect in real life. Yet lately even that isn’t quite enough, so when a strange set of circumstances leads her to discover a mysterious letter in an abandoned storage unit, she takes the chance to embark on a journey into the unknown…just like the heroines from the storybooks.

Reaching out to the letter’s author, Henry Somners, changes Jenna’s world irrevocably and she starts to realise that the magic she believed in as a child might not be such a fanciful notion after all…

Author Biography

Linda Corbett

Linda Corbett lives in Surrey with her husband Andrew and three permanently hungry guinea pigs. As well as being an author, Linda is treasurer for Shine Surrey – a volunteer-led charity that supports individuals and families living with spina bifida and hydrocephalus. For many years she also wrote a regular column for Link, a disability magazine, illustrating the humorous aspects of life with a complex disability, and she is a passionate advocate of disability representation in fiction. When not writing, Linda can be found papercrafting, cross stitching, or cuddling guinea pigs.

Book Review: Love You from A to Z by Linda Corbett

The month of romance is still continuing despite Valentine’s day being over. With #RNADiverseLoveWeek starting tomorrow and knowing Linda Corbett was visiting for the next Monday Merry Meet, Rosa chose to take her debut Love You From A to Z home with her for some weekend reading.

Scroll down to see what she thought.

Book Review: Love You from A to Z by Linda Corbett

Book cover for Love you from A to Z by Linda Corbett. White background with illustrated purple flowers, envelope and camera and gold heart shaped lock.
Love You from A to Z by Linda Corbett

Title: Love You From A to Z

Author: Linda Corbett

Publisher: One More Chapter

Genre: Romance

Release Date: 24th June 2022

Purchase Link –


Experience has told Jenna Oakhurst that Happy Ever After may happen in all the best stories, but Happy For Now is the best one ought to expect in real life. Yet lately even that isn’t quite enough, so when a strange set of circumstances leads her to discover a mysterious letter in an abandoned storage unit, she takes the chance to embark on a journey into the unknown…just like the heroines from the storybooks.

Reaching out to the letter’s author, Henry Somners, changes Jenna’s world irrevocably and she starts to realise that the magic she believed in as a child might not be such a fanciful notion after all…

Thoughts from the Emporium

Rosa’s read many novels where a letter is found and sending the protagonist on a hunt for the sender, but this one has a unique twist. She never knew storage containers contents could be sold if they were effectively abandoned and it was such a purchase that incites this tender love story.

Though a handful of romantic novels now have disabled protagonists, they are still rare so not representative of the world we live in. Jenna was a refreshing personality with a strong desire for financial security and deals with chronic pain. The novel gave a realistic depiction of how she adapts to it daily but her disability wasn’t there as inspiration porn but was just part of her everyday life. This is how disabled representation should be.

Rosa enjoyed watching her embrace different things and the relationship between her and Henry flourish. One of her favourite location’s was the guinea pig rescue centre. Run by Jenna’s sister and partner, Kat it added scenes of humour and oodles of cuddly guinea pigs to love.

With a fun premise, it was ideal weekend reading and perfect for fans of Jessica Redland. Rosa knows it will be a welcome addition to her Box of Romance and enjoyed by many visitors. She’s looking forward to reading more from this new romance author in the future..

Author Biography

Photo of Linda Corbett holding a guinea pig. White woman smiling with blonde long hair and glasses.
Linda Corbett

Linda Corbett lives in Surrey with her husband Andrew and three permanently hungry guinea pigs. As well as being an author, Linda is treasurer for Shine Surrey – a volunteer-led charity that supports individuals and families living with spina bifida and hydrocephalus. For many years she also wrote a regular column for Link, a disability magazine, illustrating the humorous aspects of life with a complex disability and she is a passionate advocate of disability representation in fiction. When not writing, Linda can be found papercrafting, cross stitching, or cuddling guinea pigs. Love You From A-Z is her first published novel.

Social Media Links


Instagram:          @lindacorbettauthor


Monday Merry Meet: Jeevani Charika

Romance is in the air in Whitby, with many shops getting into the loved up atmosphere by decorating their windows. The Enchanted Emporium is no different and Rosa’s Box of Romance books is overflowing. This month we are celebrating romance fiction, libraries and book shop with book reviews, photos of Instagram and chats with some of our favourite romance authors. Today, we’re thrilled to chat to Jeevani Charika aka Rhoda Baxter today for our Monday Merry Meet. Jeevani is the author of five books under her real name, including Playing For Love which has been shortlisted for the RNA awards and at least nine books as Rhoda Baxter.

Grab a drink and a plateful of biscuits to discover more about her books, writing and spells.

Monday Merry Meet: Jeevani Charika

Cup of tea and saucer

Willow: Welcome Jeevani, it’s lovely that you’ve made down Black Cat Alley to see us. Please have a seat. I must apologise if you end up covered in pink confetti and paper hearts. Amber was supposed to cut some paper hearts out for our Valentine’s window display, but she created a spell to do it instead. The reversal spell hasn’t quite worked, so a cloud randomly appears to rain confetti.

Amber: Ignore her. No one has seen it today and the concurrent lightning no longer occurs, so the fire hazard has gone. Spell casting paper hearts was much more time efficient than scissors.

Willow: But cost us several fire extinguishers. What would you like to drink, Jeevani? We have several tea blends including Yorkshire tea, herbal tisanes, coffee or we have a cauldron of some Valentine inspired punch? It’s non-alcoholic.

Jeevani: Tea please! Are the biscuits … erm … safe? They are? Oh fab. I’ll have one of those too, then please.

Just leave the plate there. Thank you.

Love heart biscuits

Rosa: The biscuits are safe. My mother bakes them herself, help yourself.  I adore romcoms especially your novel The Convenient Marriage with the complex relationships and family expectations. While Chaya and Gimhana fake their marriage, your current book Picture Perfect focuses on faking dating. What comes first in your writing, the plot or the characters?

Jeevani: It’s most often character first. Even if I get a plot idea first, it doesn’t get developed into a story until the characters are in place. With A Convenient Marriage, Gimhana just showed up, glass of whiskey and ice in hand, and started telling me his story. With Picture Perfect, I already knew Niro from the earlier book in the set (Playing For Love). I loved her so much that I wanted to give her her own story. All my books can be read as standalones, but sometimes I’ll write a series of books where one of the secondary characters from one book goes on to be the main character in the next. In my head, they’re a community and anyone who reads all the stories becomes part of that community too.

Rosa: I love series like that you feel connected to the characters the more you read. Your multicultural novels offer a refreshing insight into the Sri Lankan culture, but you have also written under the pen name Rhoda Baxter, is there a difference in the themes or style of the books?

Jeevani: *Clears throat* Do you want the long version? Or the short version?

Short version – not much difference in themes now. The Rhoda Baxter books are indie published (I got my rights back from the older trad books and them re-published them myself).

Long version – I started off writing multicultural women’s fiction, but it was really hard to place that in traditional publishing back then (Over 15 years ago!). The earlier Rhoda books were not multicultural at all. When my first publisher asked if I was going to use a pen name, I cast about a bit and decided to use the name of the bacteria I used to work on Rhodobacter sphearoides. So, I went with Rhoda Baxter. Over time, I really really wanted to write books with Sri Lankan diaspora characters, so I started writing novellas with multicultural casts and self-publishing them. Eventually, I got offers to publish books with Sri Lankan protagonists, so I started using my real name. I had intended to write women’s fiction as Jeevani and romcoms as Rhoda, but it’s all got a bit muddled now. *shrug*

I love that self-publishing novellas as Rhoda allows me to ‘play’ a bit more. I got to write a secret millionaire book where the heroine was a tech millionaire. That was so much fun.

Willow: That sounds it. This Stolen Life is a more serious and emotional read to your other books. Which genre do you prefer writing?

Jeevani: I like both. I find the more emotional books take more out of me. I have to dig deeper for longer, I guess. So, I often need to write something light, just to recover. I’m proud of both types of book though. They are aimed at different audiences (or the same audience in a different mood), so they are quite different. I find it really strange that my voice changes subtly in the more emotional women’s fiction books compared to the lighter romcoms.

Willow: We are nosy and fascinated by author’s publishing journeys. What was yours like and is there anything you’d have changed?

Jeevani: I wrote my first book in the evenings after work. It took me three years. Then I spent a year or so collecting rejections for it (we had to send it out in the post back then! It cost a fortune). Then I spotted the RNA’s NWS scheme and thought, ‘aha! Someone who can read my manuscript and tell me where I’m going wrong’. I got my first NWS critique back, and it told me helpful things like, ‘you need to learn more about plot’ (and also nice things like ‘you’re good at writing dialogue’, which were almost as helpful as the critical things … because confidence is a delicate thing). Right at the end, there was a throwaway comment of ‘you have a comedy writing voice just crying to get out, have you considered writing a romcom just for fun?’. So, I tried it. That was the first book of mine to get published.

Remember that very first book? I tinkered with it and kept sending it out. It eventually got published thirteen years or so later, as A Convenient Marriage. In 2020, it was shortlisted for a RoNA award. It’s my favourite book (shh! Don’t tell the others).

Recently, I was listening to a podcast about mindset and they said ‘the past is exactly how it had to have been in order to get to where you are right now’ … which struck me as a good point. So, I don’t think I’d change anything. It would have unintended consequences. I’m a writer with anxiety, so I’m assuming the worst possible consequences. I think I’ll stick with what I’ve got.

A Convenient Marriage

Willow: That is a good point and I’ll need to remember it. We always love hearing about author’s routines and rituals. Do you have a particular writing schedule you stick to?

Jeevani: Sorry. Sorry. I’ve just spluttered crumbs all over your nice cushions.

Writing schedule, you say… I should pretend to be super organised at this point, but I’d be lying. I write when I can. Mostly, this means sitting in bed at night after the kids have gone to bed. Certainly, when the kids were younger, and I was working almost full time, this was the only time I had in which to write, and I think my brain has just got used to 8pm to 10pm being ‘writing time’. I get slightly annoyed if I have to go out. Thankfully, I have no social life. Phew.

I have weeks (at one scary point, two whole months) where I don’t write anything. Once I start a book, though, I try to write every weekday. On a good week, I’ll write at the weekend as well, if I can. I’m always thinking about it though. Thinking about the book is also part of writing. That’s my theory and I’m sticking with it.

Amber: Several customers dream of being published authors. Do you have any advice for novice writers apart from reading, How to Write a Romantic Comedy which you penned with the lovely Jane Lovering? I read it and it made me eat a tin of biscuits.

Jeevani: You have no idea how many biscuits and cakes we got through writing it! It’s a book fuelled by good intentions and biscuits.

Other advice – the most basic one of all. The only way you can write a book is by actually writing. Sit down and write. If you can only do 100 words that day, do that. In two years, you’ll have a completed book.

Willow: The Enchanted Emporium sells several candles in The Wishing Spell range which promise to help your day go smoothly. Which would you choose?

Jeevani: I’d love any of them, really. But if you forced me at candlepoint to choose … I’d got for A Good Night’s Sleep. Restful sleep is almost a mythical creature. I know I had a good nights’ sleep once. I think it was in 2009. It was wonderful. Sigh.

Willow: One candle invokes memories of your perfect holiday or day when lit. Where would it take you?

Jeevani: My husband and I met as graduate students and we used to always take a day off in December and go somewhere. One year, he took me to Blenheim palace (on the bus). It was a freezing cold day and everything was edged with frost. He took me to the small walking entrance (rather than the grand one with the carpark). I’d never been to Blenheim before and was a bit puzzled as to where we were going. He said, ‘trust me’ and ushered me through to what I thought was going to be a smallish garden. Suddenly, there was this incredible vista – twinkling in the crisp winter sunshine like a Christmas card. It was astonishing; especially as I wasn’t expecting it. That’s where I’d go. To that precise moment, with him holding my hand. It was a lovely day. We wandered around the gardens, looked at the fancy house, had tea and cake in the tea shop and went back to the student hostel to have an enormous bowl of stew with crusty bread.

Amber: That’s so romantic and a lovely memory to have. Ghosts and paranormal activity plague The Enchanted Emporium. Have had had any spooky experiences –if so, has it ever influenced your writing?

Jeevani: I have not had any spooky experiences as such, but I believe that places have a feeling about them. Some places feel loved, others feel like something terrible happened in them. I wrote a book called Please Release Me, which has a ghost bride in it. When I wrote that I spent a lot of time working out the ‘rules’ of being a ghost. That’s the closest I’ve come to the paranormal.

Willow: We’ll be looking for that to add to our bookshelf. We love blending bespoke potions. if we could give you a superpower or special ability for 24 hours, what would it be and what would you do with it?

Jeevani: Teleportation please. But only if I could take stuff (like my clothes!) with me. I would use it to visit people and places without having to drive or take a train, or worse, a plane. I like trains, but changing trains and lugging bags up and down platforms is exhausting.

Willow: We are always on the lookout for more books. What book would you add to The Enchanted Emporium bookshelf?

Jeevani: One of the best books I’ve read recently is Hex Appeal by Kate Johnson. It’s a hilarious witchy romcom. It would do well in your shop, I think.

Once again, I’m sorry for all the crumbs. You missed a bit – just there.

Rosa: we love Hex Appeal and Kate Johnson popped into see us recently as well.  I have a Box of Romance books I share with friends and customers. What would you add to it?

Jeevani: Obviously, my books. Apart from that, anything by Milly Johnson.

Willow: Great choice. And finally, what are you working on currently? Or is it top secret?

Jeevani: I am currently mulling over a new book. The book for October 2023 (provisionally titled ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’) has gone off to the editor and I haven’t started the next book yet. I usually have to take a small break between books because my brain is all out of words. I think the next book will have an enemies to friends to lovers trope, maybe something to do with baking.

Rosa: Baking with enemies sounds fun. Thanks for popping in and eating all the biscuits. Good luck with you writing and your upcoming RNA award nomination. Willow has slipped in a good luck candle in your pocket.

Book cover for Picture Perfect by Jeevani Charika Bright pink background with one woman with black long hair holding a camera up to her eye standing next to a man. A pink and blue mountain in the background.
Picture Perfect by Jeevani Charika

Book Title: Picture Perfect

Author: Jeevani Charika

Publisher: HQ Digital

Release date: 11th Feb 2023

Genre: Romance


Niro is a photographer who’s lost the joy of taking photos. Burned by a bad break-up, she’s in desperate need of inspiration.

Vimal is determined to win back his ex-girlfriend. When he hears she’s bringing her new boyfriend on a group holiday, he impulsively declares that he’s bringing a plus one too.

Their mutual friends have the perfect solution: Niro can pretend to be Vimal’s new girlfriend and join the holiday. Imagine the incredible photographs she could take in the Swiss alps…

She’s not thinking about love. He’s thinking about someone else. Can they fake a picture-perfect relationship – or will real feelings get in the way?

Don’t miss this funny and uplifting fake-dating romance for fans of The Kiss Quotient and The Love Hypothesis!

Author Biography

Photo of Jeevani Charika /Rhoda Baxter 
Sri Lankan woman with dark wavy hair, brown eyes smiling
Jeevani Charika /Rhoda Baxter

Jeevani (pronounced ‘Jeev-uh-nee’) writes multicultural women’s fiction and romantic comedies. She spent much of her childhood in Sri Lanka, with short forays to Nigeria and Micronesia, before returning to England to settle in Yorkshire. All of this, it turned out, was excellent preparation for becoming a novelist.

She also writes under the name Rhoda Baxter. Her books have been shortlisted for multiple awards.

A microbiologist by training, Jeevani loves all things science geeky. She also loves cake, crochet and playing with Lego. You can find out more about her (and get a free book) on her website


Book Review: Promise Me by Jill Mansell

With Valentine’s Day only a couple of weeks away and the Enchanted Emporium gearing up for love potions and heart decorations galore, Rosa was ecstatic to discover an ARC of Promise Me by Jill Mansell, one of her go to authors in her Box of Romance. Thank you Random Things Tour and the invite to this blog tour.

Scroll down to see of Rosa’s happiness was well earned or short lived once she’d finished reading.

Book Review: Promise Me by Jill Mansell

Book cover for Jill Mansell's Promise Me. A predominantly teal cover with gold lettering. An illustrated painted tree with red and yellow, green leaves. A swing hangs from a branch and a white and black dog is standing nearby
Promise Me by Jill Mansell

Title: Promise Me

Author: Jill Mansell

Publisher: Headline Review

Genre: Romance

Release date: 19th Jan 2023


Fate’s about to make mischief…

One minute Lou is happily employed, with a perfect flat. The next, her home and job have gone. Suddenly she has
to start over.
The last thing Lou wants is to move to a tiny Cotswolds village. She certainly doesn’t intend to work for curmudgeonly eighty-year-old Edgar Allsopp. But Edgar is about to make her the kind of promise nobody could ignore. In
return, she secretly vows to help him fall in love with life again.
Foxwell is also home to Remy, whose charm and charisma are proving hard to ignore. But Lou hasn’t recovered
from the last time she fell for a charmer. She needs a distraction – and luckily one’s about to turn up.
Secrets never stay hidden for long in Foxwell, nor are promises always kept. And no one could guess what lies ahead.

Thoughts from the Emporium

This was Rosa’s first book she read this year and what a joy it was. From the moment she was introduced to caring Lou and grumpy, and manipulative Edgar, she knew she was reading a book she could to escape into and enjoy the ride, away from the cold weather and hectic home life. What a ride it was. With Edgar’s unique offer, and complex past loves and future ones, there were plenty of twists and unexpected turns to keep Rosa on her toes before the much needed happy ever after. 

Written with warmth, there was a cast of characters to adore and hate, and each had depth and a relatable backstory that made it easy to invest in their happiness or downfall. Whether it was the friendly banter or deeper love, the dialogue felt natural immersing Rosa further into the characters’ lives and zipping through the pages. Lou with a big heart was easily liked and Rosa’s initial dislike for curmudgeon (such a good word) Edgar mellowed the more she knew him, but it was Captain Oates who stole the show. He made Rosa laugh with his standoffish attitude and unwavering sense of self, reminding her of a beloved childhood pet. 

This book is a heart-warming, thought provoking and uplifting read about lost loves, second chance relationships and starting over which makes it an ideal read for the beginning of the year and run up to to Valentine’s Day. Pure fun and escapism. It’ll be well loved by many who visit her Box of Romance.

Author Biography

Photo of Jill Mansell. White woman with should length, layered very blonde hair, pink lipstick. Smiling and wearing a blue patterned blouse.
Jill Mansell

Jill Mansell has been writing Sunday Times bestsellers for over twenty years, most recently
Should I Tell You? Her hobbies include exploring the Cotswolds and the south west of
England, scouting for locations for future books, and discovering brilliant new restaurants
along the way. She lives in Bristol with her family.

Twitter @Jill Mansell
Facebook /OfficialJillMansell
Instagram @JillMansell

Other blogs on the tour.
Other blogs on the tour

Book Review: A Season for Love by Ally Sinclair

We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to be on this blog tour for Ally Sinclair’s novel, A Season for Love. A huge thank you to Rachel’s Random Resources for the invite and book arriving in Rosa’s Box of Romance so they could give an honest opinion. Everyone is still recovering from her ear shattering squeal when she read the blurb – Regency dating in our modern world, what more could she ask for?

Scroll down to see if A Season for Love hit her high expectations.

Book Review: A Season for Love by Ally Sinclair

Book cover for  A Season for Love by Ally Sinclair. Dark blue background, white title with tagline Can old-fashioned courtship flourish in today's dating world?
Heavily stylised illustration of a woman with long brown hair next to man in a blue shirt (for some reason they have no facial features except for her lips???)
A Season for Love by Ally Sinclair

Book title: A Season for Love

Author: Ally Sinclair

Publisher: Hera

Genre: Romance

Release date: 12th January 2023

Purchase Links





Can old-fashioned courtship survive in today’s dating world?

When Emma Love’s mother retires, it is time for her to take the reins of the family dating agency and build on its success. And she has a fresh new idea: to host a Jane Austen-style Regency Season of glamourous events where potential lovers can actually take the time to get to know each other in person, with no apps in between.

Emma has no intention of becoming romantically involved herself, of course; she is a matchmaker on the hunt for the perfect partner for ladies like Annie (who thought she had missed her chance at love a long time ago), Jane (recently divorced and nervously stepping into her new life) and wild child Lydia (more interested in hooking up than finding Mr Darcy).

As the Season unfolds, there is only one fly in Emma’s ointment – the irritating Mr Knight, with his casual attitude and gentle cynicism. Why is she allowing him to ruffle her calm, ordered life and why can’t she stop thinking about him? She is far too sensible to take a chance on love – isn’t she?

Jane Austen meets Sophie Kinsella in this laugh-out-loud, captivating romantic comedy.

Thoughts from the Emporium

During those lockdown years, Bridgerton mania swept through the Emporium encouraged by the over excited Rosa, high on romance, the sexy Duke and the promise of a HEA with dancing and jewels. Willow watched it under duress but was sucked into its escapism and the allure of the Duke while Amber refused to admit she’d even watched it, never mind twice, and even then she was only watching for the costumes and creative inspiration for her art. This brings us to the reaction of the Emporium surrounding A Season for Love.

It was a hit and met the high expectations Rosa set. Matchmaker Emma drew them in with her Regency styled scheme for people to find love, after all everyone secretly longed to attend a ball with its glamour and then the other characters carried the plot with its surprises, warmth and underlying chemistry.

With multiple protagonists there was at least one each the staff could relate to whether it was because of their view on love or backstory. Each character was fully formed and realistic, giving the reader a snapshot into their often complex lives and making them root for their happy ever after ending.

Like the characters, each potential love match and chemistry between suiters was different from Annie with her lost childhood love to wild and fiercely independent Lydia and her hot barman. All share the realistic emotions, sensitivity to issues the characters face and sexual chemistry despite it being close door.  

The events Emma organised to promote love were inspired and only wish they were real and could come to Yorkshire.

A Season for Love is a warm romantic novel about connections, friendship and love blended with Regency ethics and humour. And like the Netflix Regency series, has left the Emporium eager to read the next one.* It will be a well-loved book in Rosa’s Box of Romance and on Rosa’s own physical forever shelf.

*Even Amber who only tends to enjoy romances if they’re dripping with vampiric chemistry or spellbound with magic or spookiness and horror.

Author Biography

Photo of Ally Sinclair. A white woman very smiley with brown shoulder length hair, wearing a black and white striped shirt
Ally Sinclair

Ally grew up on the North Yorkshire coast and now lives with her husband in Worcestershire, at least until she can persuade him to give into her yearning to live somewhere nearer the sea. No kids, no pets. She sometimes manages to keep a pot plant alive. Briefly. She has been writing professionally since 2013, and is also published as Alison May and, in collaboration, as Juliet Bell. Ally is a former Chair of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, and currently works as an associate lecturer for the Open University.

Social Media Links –

@MsAllySinclair –

@MsAlisonMay –

Instagram @MsAllySinclair and @MsAlisonMay



12th Jan
Being Anne
Tizi's Book review
Beckie Writes
13th Jan
Just Katherine
Books, life and everything
Sharon beyond the books
14th Jan
Pickled thoughts and pinot
A little book problem
15th Jan
The Enchanred Emporium bookshelf
Sarah K reads
Jojo's Over the rainbow blog
15th Jan
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17th Jan
Bookish jottings
Zooloo's book diary
Splashes into books
18th Jan
The eclectic review
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Book Review: There’s No Place Like Home by Jane Lovering

After chatting to Jane Lovering on Monday over a large mug of Yorkshire tea during our Monday Merry Meet, we’re excited to share our review of her new book, There’s No Place Like Home. Thank you Rachel’s Random Resources for the blog tour invite and providing a copy to read.

Book Review: There’s No Place Like Home by Jane Lovering

There’s No Place Like Home by Jane Lovering

Title: There’s No Place Like Home

Author: Jane Lovering

Publisher: Boldwood books

Genre: Woman’s fiction, romance

Release date: 10th January 2023

Purchase Link – 


Isabel, Izzy to her friends, has got nothing left to lose when she makes the bravest decision of her life.

A month living under canvas on the Yorkshire Moors with five strangers wouldn’t normally be her idea of a good time, even if there is prize money to be won at the end of it, but she’s all out of options.

Joining her in this wild goose chase, being filmed for a TV show, are farmer Seb, whose marriage is creaking but who is desperate not to lose his family. Sheltered Ruth who needs an opportunity to show she can make her own decisions. Glamorous socialite Kanga, who has been living a lie. American Junior who has his own secret that has led him there. And last but not least, mysterious and brooding Mac, who Izzy can’t help but be drawn to.

As the fickleness of nature tests them all to their limits, this disparate group come together to face the challenge. But when Izzy finally tells them the truth that has brought her out on the Moors, will that be the end of their adventure, or the beginning of her future? Because what Izzy really needs is a place to call home, and someone to share it with could be even better…

Thoughts from the Emporium

Last year The Forgotten House on the Moor appeared on the Enchanted Emporium bookshelf and we all loved it so when There’s No Place Like Home arrived in Rosa’s Box of Romance, Willow and her had to flip a coin to see who would read it first. Rosa won. With high expectations, this novel didn’t disappoint.

Within pages, both were hooked into Izzy’s life and the stark realities of camping in the Yorkshire moors in horrid weather, with strangers tracking down a potential mythical creature for a TV prize. Jane Lovering has a talent for world building and providing a strong sense of place. With knowledge of the locality, Rosa and Willow can both say it is an accurate depiction of the moors and its atmosphere. Even snuggled under the duvet, Rosa found herself shivering when Izzy and company are faced with bad weather thanks to the immersive writing.

Six strangers living in close quarters with sporadic appearances of the camera crew and film staff provided a memorable cast for this original novel, plenty of drama and clashes of personalities. They all have a backstory and reasons for joining the show, including Izzy. As a protagonist, she had depth and everyone connected to her and wanted her to have a happy ever after she sought after. Sprinkled with humour, deeper themes are blended in this uplifting novel with care and realism. Despite the weather and camping trials, romance blooms and the slow burn chemistry between Izzy and Seb is just right for their story.

This unique novel was an ideal read to start the year and a welcome addition to Rosa’s Box of Romance where the love will be shared with visitors to the Emporium. It will be a hit. After chatting to Jane on Monday, everyone is already looking forward to her next one and if you read her chat you’ll understand why.

Author Biography

Photo of Jane Lovering.  White woman with red dotty bandana cuddling a black and white Patterdale Terrier in a autumn background
Jane Lovering

Jane Lovering is the bestselling and award-winning romantic comedy writer who won the RNA Novel of the Year Award in 2012 with Please Don’t Stop the Music. She lives in Yorkshire and has a cat and a bonkers terrier, as well as five children who have now left home.

Social Media Links   



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Book Extract: More than Mistletoe by The Christmas Collective

Now the Halloween celebrations are over, the Emporium’s focus is on the colder and darker evenings, as we head towards winter and Yule. Unlike many shops, Willow is adamant they won’t decorate for Christmas until December. While it infuriates Amber who wants to put the Yule tree up now, the shop provides an oasis of calm amidst the frenzy and festive delights springing up in neighbouring streets in Whitby. It also ovoid upsetting the tree spirits. There is enough chaos in the shop with the ongoing feud between Black Cat and Vincent, and Mrs Marley’s interference without adding avenging spirits to the mix.

Christmas isn’t completely banned, new festive books are appearing on the Enchanted Emporium’s bookshelf and in Rosa’s Box of Romance. Some of the best romances cover this magical season. More than Mistletoe by The Christmas Collective has arrived, courtesy of Rachel’s Random Resources and Rosa is excited to share an extract with you, to tempt you to read further.

More than Mistletoe book cover. Dark blue background with silver stars. A bunch of mistletoe in the centre tied with a red ribbon. Tag line Twelve Christmas Stories of kisses, wishes and near misses.
More than Mistletoe by The Christmas Collective

Title: More than Mistletoe

Author: The Christmas Collective

Release Date: 25th October 2021

Purchase Link –


Cosy up for Christmas with 12 very different tales of love with all the festive feels!

More than Mistletoe, the debut anthology from The Christmas Collective, is an eclectic and inclusive mix of stories, with swoon-worthy characters, second chances and happy endings.

Between the pages, you will discover classic romance, festive thrillers, LGBTQ+ love stories, hilarious romcoms and historical settings, these stories really do span the whole spectrum of festive fiction.

Featuring twelve up and coming new authors, this refreshing, diverse and romantic read, is a must-have read that will leave you reaching for your Christmas jumper, gingerbread cookies and a mug of hot chocolate!

Extract from More than Mistletoe

This extract is taken from Lumikinos by Lucy Alexander. This is the opening story in the More Than Mistletoe anthology. In this beautifully atmospheric tale, Erica finds herself caught in a snowstorm in the Cotswolds on Christmas Eve. When the traffic grinds to a halt, Erica and the other stranded drivers support each other through the long wait. An immediate connection with one particular driver, the handsome Jack, feels so right, it’s almost as if a force as great as Christmas itself is trying to bring them together.

Extract from ‘More Than Mistletoe’: Lumikinos by Lucy Alexander

‘Any news?’ called Jack, as he helped Erica down the steep bank.

Erica spotted the man in the orange hard hat moving down the line with a lantern.

‘No news,’ he called back. ‘Won’t be getting out of here tonight after all, I’m afraid. Plough’s fixed but couldn’t shift it. They’re sending the big one from Oxford first thing. Reckon you’ll be out of here in time for your Christmas dinner, though, okay?’

Jack nodded.

Erica sighed – but perhaps not quite so heavily as she would have earlier. ‘So … now what?’ she asked.

Jack shrugged. ‘I guess we’d better call our families,’ he suggested.

‘Yes. Yes, you’re right.’ Erica nodded. She took a step towards her Clio, which was now almost completely buried in snow.

‘And then …’ Jack rubbed the back of his neck. ‘Do you maybe want to have a drink or something? I’ve got some Baileys in the car. I was going to give it to my mum for Christmas but … well, looks like we’ll be here for a long time, and would be nice to have some company. You don’t have to, though …’

Erica smiled. ‘No, that would be great.’

Half an hour and some uncomfortable phone calls later, Erica found herself sitting with Jack in his Land Rover, sipping Baileys out of their plastic keep cups and talking as though they had known each other for years, not hours.

It turned out that Jack worked in the city and had gone to the same university as one of Erica’s housemates, and she was pleased to learn that his flat wasn’t too far from her studio. She wasn’t usually much of a chatterbox, but Jack was easy to talk to, and they were just comparing their families’ Christmas traditions when there was a cheerful knock on the window. The glass was completely covered in snow and condensation; Erica opened it to find a group of their fellow drivers, including the Werther’s Originals lady, beaming at them.

‘Hello, dears!’ she cried. ‘We’re all having a campfire and a few nibbles. Would you like to join us?’

Erica and Jack were only too glad to join the others gathered around the campfire – which turned out to be a blazing pile of bracken and old newspaper that some enterprising person had set fire to with a lighter. One person was melting snow in a travel kettle to make tea, and someone else was passing around a tin of roasted chestnuts. Erica toasted her fingertips and felt her toes begin to thaw as she and Jack stood beside the flames. She couldn’t help smiling – strangers were sharing hipflasks and swapping Christmas stories, and if it hadn’t been for the circumstances, Erica would have thought this was rather a nice way to spend Christmas Eve.

Erica and Jack were both hungry, but they too shared what little food they had – a box of M&S biscuits which Jack had bought for his grandmother, and an assortment of Christmas treats that Erica had got from the Bath Christmas market. Erica had also bought a cuddly toy reindeer at the market as a gift for her nephew; this she gave to a little girl whose mother was at the end of her wits trying to settle her down to sleep in the back of their car. Around the same time, a rather sweet old man with an ancient Austin remarked that his heater was broken, so Jack and another driver got out their toolboxes and helped him to fix it.

Later, someone pulled out a guitar, and everyone who wasn’t busy lending blankets and extra clothes to those less well-prepared, gathered back around the fire to join in a spot of spontaneous carolling. Erica was no songbird, but she enjoyed listening to Jack’s tuneful voice as he stood singing beside her.

As the final notes of “In the Bleak Midwinter” soared up towards the starry skies, Jack turned to her and murmured that it was getting late.

Erica felt suddenly warm, and she didn’t think it was because of the fire. Looking up at Jack, she smiled somewhat nervously. ‘It is late,’ she agreed.

‘Do you want to go to bed?’ he asked, then he laughed awkwardly. ‘Er – sorry – I mean, are you tired?’

Erica blushed. She was glad of the firelight flickering over her face. ‘I’m not tired,’ she lied. She found herself longing for the night not to be over just yet.

Mug next to a mince pie and holly
Image by Lidia from Pixabay

Author Biography

‘The Christmas Collective is a group of twelve romance authors who came together when shortlisted for a festive romance competition. Together they have created two Christmas Romance anthologies, More Than Mistletoe (2021) and The Mistletoe Mixtape (2022).

The Christmas Collective authors are spread far and wide, across the UK, Ireland, Spain and South Korea, however, one thing connects them despite the distance: a love of romance and Christmas.’






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