Laura

I’m Laura. I started Novel Kicks in 2009. I wanted a place to post my writing as well as give other writers like me the opportunity to do the same. There is also a monthly book club, a writing room which features writing prompts, book reviews, competitions, author interviews and guest posts. I grew up by the sea (my favourite place in the world) and I currently live in Hampshire. I am married to Chris, have a cat named Buddy and I would love to be a writer. I’m trying to write the novel I’ve talked so much about writing if only I could stop pressing delete. I’ve loved writing since creative writing classes in primary school. I have always wanted to see my teacher Miss Sayers again and thank her for the encouragement. When not trying to write the novel or writing snippets of stories on anything I can get my hands on, I love reading, dancing like a loon and singing to myself very badly. My current obsession is Once Upon a Time and I would be happy to live with magic in the enchanted forest surrounded by all those wonderful stories provided that world also included Harry Potter. I love reading chick lit. contemporary fiction and novels with mystery.

Book Extract: The Last Thing She Told Me by Linda Green

Hello and welcome to Linda Green. Her novel, The Last Thing She Told Me has been released today. 

Even the deepest buried secrets can find their way to the surface…

Moments before Nicola’s grandmother dies, she whispers in her ear that there are babies at the bottom of the garden.

Nicola’s mother claims she was talking nonsense, however when a bone is found in the garden, it’s clear that something sinister has taken place and there’s a family secret to be unearthed that has the power to tear the family apart.

This is an incredibly emotional and page-turning novel set in Yorkshire, bridging the gap between domestic noir and up-lit that deals with generations of families and the secrets they keep.

 

To celebrate publication day for The Last Thing She Told Me, Linda and Quercus have shared a chapter. Enjoy. 

(content warning. Potentially distressing for some readers.) 

 

***** beginning of extract*****

 

For all the women and girls who have been made to feel shame

It was the shame, you see. The shame I brought on my family. Sometimes it is easier not to believe than to accept something so awful could have happened. That is why people bury things far beneath the surface. Deep down, out of sight and out of mind. Though not out of my mind. I carry the shame with me always. The shame and the guilt. They do not go away. If anything, they weigh heavier on me now than they did back then. Dragging me down, clawing at my insides. And when people say that what’s buried in the past should stay there, they mean they don’t want to have to deal with it. They’re scared of the power of secrets to destroy lives. But keeping secrets can destroy you from the inside. Believe me, I know. And even the best-kept secrets have a habit of forcing their way to the surface.

1
The house appeared to know that its owner was about to die, shrouded, as it was, in early- morning mist, the downstairs curtains closed in respect, the gate squeaking mournfully as I opened it.
If there was such a thing as a nice house in which to end your days, this certainly wasn’t it. It was cold, dark and draughty, perched high on the edge of the village, as if it didn’t really want to be part of it but was too polite to say so. Behind it, the fields ‒ criss-crossed by dry-stone walls ‒ stretched out into the distance. Beyond them, the unrelenting bleakness of the moors.
I shivered as I hurried up the path and let myself in.
‘Grandma, it’s me.’ The first thing I thought when I didn’t hear a response was that maybe I was too late. She’d been weak, drifting in and out of sleep when I’d left the previous night. Perhaps she hadn’t made it through till morning.
But when I entered the front room – in which she’d lived, eaten and slept for the past year – she turned her face to give me the faintest of smiles.
‘Morning,’ I said. ‘Did you manage to get some sleep?’
She nodded.
‘It’s not too late to change your mind, you know. We could get you to hospital, or the hospice
said we could call them at any time.’

She shook her head. She’d remained adamant she would leave the house only in a coffin. She’d also refused medication to relieve the pain. It was as if she thought she somehow had a duty to suffer.
‘Well, at least let me stay over tonight. I hate the thought of you being on your own.’
‘I won’t be here tonight.’ Her words were faint and difficult to understand. She’d taken her teeth out several weeks previously and refused to put them back in since.
‘Come on. You’ve been saying that for weeks.’
‘I’m tired. It’s time to go now.’
There was something about the look in her eye as she said it that told me she meant it. I sat
down on the end of her bed and took her hand. Her skin was paper-thin, revealing the bones and blue veins beneath it. She’d once said she liked me coming to visit because I was the only one who let her talk about death without getting upset or pretending it wasn’t going to happen.
‘Is there anything I can get to make you more comfortable?’
She shook her head again. We sat there for a while saying nothing, listening to the ticking of the clock and her shallow breaths. I tried to imagine what it must be like knowing you are about to die. I would want my family around me, I knew that.
‘Do you want me to give Mum a call?’ I asked. She managed to raise her eyebrows at me. It was as near as I’d get to a telling off at this point. She had always been very accepting of their distant relationship. It was me who struggled with it.
‘I could ask James to bring the girls over.’
She shook her head again and whispered, ‘I don’t want to upset them. They’re good girls. Anyway, I’ve got them with me.’

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NK Chats To: Roxie Cooper

Hi Roxie, it’s a pleasure to welcome you to Novel Kicks today. Your book is called The Day We Met (released today. Yay.) What’s it about and what inspired it?

Hi, thanks for having me! The Day We Met is novel about meeting the right person at the wrong time and it asks the question; what happens if you meet your soulmate when you’re just about to marry someone else? Stephanie and Jamie are both happy with other people when they meet each other, but they can’t ignore the strong connection and chemistry between them. Unwilling to slip into a typical affair, they decide to meet on the same weekend every year, as friends. The novel spans a ten-year period and we see how the relationship affects them, their marriages, and careers.

I wanted to write a different kind of love story, one which reflected modern times and attitudes. I’ve always been intrigued by people’s varying opinions on physical and emotional infidelity; is one worse than the other? How do emotional affairs start and just how damaging are they? It’s a huge grey area which sparks monumental discussion and, as a former lawyer, they’re something I love exploring. But it was when I heard Paloma Faith’s Only Love Can Hurt Like This one day that the novel became fully alive in my mind. I knew this had to be an epic love story about two people who couldn’t be together but couldn’t be apart either. That was also the moment I decided that the novel would have to be set to music.

 

What’s your typical writing day like, where do you like to write, do you prefer silence and is there something you need to do/have before you begin writing (coffee for example?)

Sorry to be really awkward, but I have different routines for different stages of the writing process! When I’m writing the actual book, I adopt a fairly strict routine but it’s carried out in a nice environment. So, I’ll drop both my kids at school then dash to a coffee shop on my local high street. Both of my previous books were written there. I don’t stop until I’ve written at least 1000 words and I need my iPod on with people walking around. I like being in the middle of the hustle of it all and I stay there until it’s time to pick the kids up again. Once I move onto edits, however, everything changes. I lock myself in the house and have the TV on at a barely audible volume – I need a tiny amount of white noise. I have to drink coffee in the morning, switching to tea in the afternoon. I turn into a complete recluse in this period, I don’t see my friends for months. It’s very extreme but it works for me!

 

Which author or book has most influenced you?

I’ve read so many books by authors I’ve admired, but in terms of ones who have influenced my career, I’d have to say Adele Parks. I read her novel, Playing Away, in my 20s and thought it was such a standout, brave debut. I researched the author and discovered that she, too, was from Teesside – I couldn’t believe it! That was the moment I thought ‘Wow – if someone from Boro can become an author, there’s hope for any of us.’ It was around this time I started to have ideas about a novel of my own but hadn’t started writing it yet (that book turned out to be my debut The Law of Attraction), but each time I read another of Adele’s books, it cemented my ambition.

 

What made you first realise that you wanted to be a writer?

I’ve always loved reading, but I was never one of those kids who wanted to write – or an adult, for that matter. The idea came to me after I became disillusioned with my former career as a criminal barrister. I come from a very working class background and would tell all my friends about the outrageously silly traditions and rituals I had to participate in at the Bar. Coming from Teesside, I’d tell the stories through a very unimpressed ‘Boro lens’ and they’d all say to me “You need to write a book about this!” I also got so fed up with people saying to me “You really don’t look like a barrister!” so in 2009 I started writing my debut novel The Law of Attraction – a book about a blonde, working class, intelligent, sassy girl from Teesside who is propelled into the posh world of barristers. I hadn’t even considered writing a book before I was 31 years old.

 

What’s your route to publication?

I did a lot of research before I submitted my debut novel to agents. My first novel was the only book I’d ever written and took me about 16 months to write. When I felt it was polished enough to allow an agent to read, I sent it off to three I had my eye on (which was terrifying!). Sarah Hornsley from The Bent Agency requested a full manuscript within 24 hours. I was a nervous wreck! Sarah called me and we had the most amazing chat. I knew then that she was the right agent for me. She made suggestions on how I could improve the manuscript (which I did) and six weeks later she offered representation. The next step was submitting the novel to publishers. I had offers from two publishing houses and The Law of Attraction was eventually published in June 2017 with the Harper Collins imprint, HQ Digital.

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Book Review: The Newcomer by Fern Britton

I can’t hold in the excitement I feel to be welcoming Fern Britton to Novel Kicks today and the blog tour for her new novel, The Newcomer which has been released today. Happy publication day, Fern. 

 

She arrived in the village on the spring tide and hoped to be at the heart of it, knowing its secrets and weathering its storms.

It was to be a new beginning…

It’s springtime in the Cornish village of Pendruggan and as the community comes together to say a fond farewell to parish vicar, Simon, and his wife, Penny, a newcomer causes quite a stir…

Reverand Angela Whitehorn came to Cornwall to make a difference. With her husband, Robert, by her side, she sets about making changes – but it seems not everyone is happy for her to shake things up in the small parish, and soon Angela starts to receive anonymous poison pen letters.

Angela has always been one to fight back, and she has already brought a fresh wind into the village, supporting her female parishioners through good times and bad. But as the letters get increasingly more personal, Angela learns that the secrets are closer to home.

With faith and friends by your side, even the most unlikely of new beginnings is possible.

 

I have become a fan of Fern’s novels and so I was looking forward to reading The Newcomer.

I wasn’t disappointed.

Throughout this book, I was glued. I was sneaking a page or a chapter in whenever I could.

Angela was a believable and relatable character who is trying to make a difference. The supporting characters are also great.

Whilst reading, I felt like I was by the water in this lovely Cornwall village and that is always good for the soul. The plot had many twists and turns and never quite went in the direction I was expecting it to.

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Novel Kicks Writing Room: Different Orders

This week, I wanted to focus on how moving plot events around, you can change/improve the story. 

Write down the following four plot points, each on a separate piece of paper. Put them into a jar or a hat and take them back out one at a time, lining them up.

This is the new order for the story. Write your own version using this order.

Cinderella is told she can’t go to the ball.

Cinderella meets the Prince.

Cinderella loses her shoe. 

Cinderella gets married. 

How does the story change once you’ve moved it around?

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My February Favourites

Goodbye February and hello March. 

Today, I wanted to share my February favourites. I love these kinds of posts. One, I am really nosy and secondly, I have discovered so many products through these kinds of posts.

My favourites this month include TV shows, a podcast, and a new diary.
What have you been loving this month? Let me know in the comments.

I am a little obsessed with diaries. I am always on the lookout for the perfect one and have already changed diaries twice this year.
Over the past couple of weeks, I have been using a Hobonichi Weeks mega edition for 2019.
Like the Moleskine diaries, this has space with a weekly view. On the opposing page, there is room for notes.
At the back, there are over two hundred blank pages. If you’re looking for something to begin a bullet journal, this would be a good book to use. Or, like me, if you want to combine a notebook and diary, this is perfect.

I have mostly been planning digitally when it comes to the blog and the daily tasks, events and appointments. I have an iPad Pro and apple pencil. I have been holding off planning my novel digitally. I love pen and pencil and I think I felt as though I wouldn’t be a proper writer if I didn’t use paper. I know, I am being ridiculous.

What I love about the digital notebook I’ve been using for novel notes is that I can have a book for the novel, another for general notes, one for Novel Kicks and it is all in the same place. The pencil allows me to handwrite on the tablet, so it means I have less to carry around. Less confusing and easier on the shoulder as my bag isn’t as heavy. I have found it’s the best of both worlds. This, along with the Hobonichi weeks is doing me just fine.

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Novel Kicks Book Club: The Last by Hanna Jameson

Viking, 2019

Hello March and greetings to a brand new book to discuss. 

I personally am very excited by this month’s pick which, if you’ve not already guessed is The Last by Hanna Jameson.

When I read this one, I couldn’t put it down and I am looking forward to talking about it. I do at any opportunity.  As normal, I have added a question below to kick off the discussion.

Remember, anyone can take part in our book club and it can be from the comfort of your sofa, bed, whatever.

 

About The Last:

Historian Jon Keller is on a trip to Switzerland when the world ends. As the lights go out on civilisation, he wishes he had a way of knowing whether his wife, Nadia, and their two daughters are still alive. More than anything, Jon wishes he hadn’t ignored Nadia’s last message.

Twenty people remain in Jon’s hotel. Far from the nearest city and walled in by towering trees, they wait, they survive.

Then one day, the body of a young girl is found. It’s clear she has been murdered. Which means that someone in the hotel is a killer.

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NK Chats To: N. Lombardi Jr

Hello Nicholas. It’s great to welcome you to the blog today. Please tell me a little about your new book, Justice Gone and what inspired it?

Justice Gone was inspired by a true event, the fatal beating of a homeless man in a small Californian town. This was such an extreme case, and one which did not include any racial elements, that it exposed the utter abuse of authority in which an outraged public reaction was inevitable. The town was Fullerton, the man’s name was Kelly Thomas, and the year was 2011. Although the police officers were indicted by a grand jury, they were acquitted in their trial. So I asked myself a question: if someone felt that justice was denied the deceased, would they take it in their own hands? This became the seed for the story.

 

What elements do you feel need to be present in a thriller novel? What are the challenges?

Suspense, that is, the anticipation of what is going to come next, and this is usually accompanied by actions to some degree, although if you have enough skill, words alone can create this tension. Whichever way you accomplish this, the challenge is to persuade the reader to invest their interest in what is going on, and this includes sympathy for the protagonists.

 

This is the first part of a series featuring Dr Tessa Thorpe. What advice do you have for someone trying to develop a series and a strong character that will keep them coming back to read their story?

You need to become friends, or even love the character, knowing their faults as well as their admirable traits. In this way you know what they will say and can predict what they’ll do in any situation.

Actually Tessa first appeared in Journey Towards a Falling Sun, a story I wrote over 30 years ago, but eventually got published in 2014. It was a minor role, but one in which she was born, so to speak.

 

What’s your typical writing day like, where do you like to write and do you prefer silence?

I can write in the early mornings when I’m fresh, or in the evenings when I’m relaxed. usually the time between is non-productive. Silence is mandatory.

 

What’s your favourite word and why?

I don’t have a favourite word. I have a favourite colour, blue. Can I then say that “blue” is my favourite word?

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Book Extract: The Dressmaker of Draper’s Lane by Liz Trenow

Hello to Liz Trenow and the blog tour for her new novel, The Dressmaker of Draper’s Lane. 

1768, London.

As a foundling who rose from poverty and now runs her own successful dressmaking business in the heart of society London, Miss Charlotte is a remarkable woman, admired by many. She has no need, nor desire, to marry. The people she values most are her friend Anna, her recently-found sister Louisa and nephew Peter.

She feels herself fortunate, and should be content with what she has. But something is missing.

A small piece of rare silk discovered in a bundle of scraps at auction triggers a curious sense of familiarity, and prompts her to unpick a past filled with extraordinary secrets and revelations . . .

 

To celebrate publication day, Liz has shared an extract with us today. 

 

***** beginning of extract*****

 

Prologue

She is unaware of her legs moving beneath her, of one foot taking a step and then another, except for the fact that the great gates in the distance seem to be drawing ever closer.

Her mind is blank. She keeps her eyes lowered to the ground, passing silently through the crowds on Gray’s Inn Road like a spectre. No one notices her and she dares not allow herself to look at her surroundings nor even to think, for if she did she would surely turn and flee. The only notion in her head is that where she is going offers the sole hope of saving her child’s life.

The bundle in her arms is still and silent now, having ceased whimpering some hours ago. The baby is too feeble to cry any more. It is of no matter to her that she has not eaten for several days except that it has caused her milk to become thin and weak.

This child is the single most precious thing she has ever known. How can she bear to give her up? Yet how can she bear to let her die?

At first the solution seemed simple. She would end both of their lives together, so they could never be parted. Sev¬eral times she has returned to Blackfriars Bridge, watching the dark, cold waters swirling below and trying to summon the courage to jump. But first she must climb onto the parapet, which means freeing her hands by laying down the bundle on the edge of the bridge, and even this momentary separation seems too dangerous to contemplate. What if the child should slip into the river without her?

Who would hold her tight as she fell, whispering reassurances that although the water would be cold and the journey difficult, everything would be fine when they reached the other side? Would she even have the courage to follow her?

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NK Chats To… Susan Lewis

Hello Susan. Thank you for joining me today. What inspired One Minute Later?

It was meeting twenty-one-year-old Jim Lynskey who is waiting for a new heart.

 

How has your approach to the writing process changed since your first novel? 

I think it’s more or less the same. I explore ideas, let my gut instinct decide which is the right one to go with and then I devise the characters I think will be best to tell the story.

 

Is there a particular place you like to write? Do you need coffee to write? Music? 

I always write in my study at home – I can’t seem to do it anywhere else – I tend to drink tea more than coffee, and I work in silence apart from the comforting snores of my little dogs. I also have a lovely view of the countryside through the French windows which can be very nourishing.

 

Which three characters from fiction would you invite to dinner and why? 

I’d invite Thorfinn from King Hereafter because he could tell us the true story of Macbeth. Any hero from Georgette Heyer because they’re so dashing and romantic and probably Elizabeth Bennett because she’s so sharp and witty.

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Novel Kicks Writing Room: Connecting Memories

Today, I thought we could try and connect three seemingly unrelated memories.

Write about three separate memories. These can be yours or they could belong to someone else.

Each one should be about fifty words.

Once you’ve done that, try and connect these three unrelated memories into one coherent story.

Three memories I have thought of off the top of my head are my Mum and Grandfather teaching me to ride my bike, My Grandmother’s first day of senior school and the day I got married.

Is what you’ve written something that could be used for a bigger project?

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Blog Tour: The Shape of Lies by Rachel Abbott

Black Dot Publishing, February 2019

Hello today to Rachel Abbott and the blog tour for her latest novel, The Shape of Lies. Are you ready to play The Shape of Truth and Lies game and potentially win a signed copy of the novel? 

This is Rachel’s ninth novel and it follows respectable mother, wife and head teacher, Anna Franklyn, who is driving to work when a voice on her favourite radio phone-in programme shatters every hope that she has escaped her dark past. The caller on ‘The One That Got Away’ claims to be her ex-lover, Scott, and in less than a week, he will expose her truth on air. But how is that possible when Scott is dead?

Meanwhile, Abbott’s much-loved detective, Tom Douglas, needs to find the killer responsible for two brutal murders and unravel Anna’s web of lies to discover what connects her to both bodies.

 

The Shape of Truth and Lies Game

To celebrate the publication of The Shape of Lies we are playing a game of truth and lies. Play along, follow the blog tour to collect all the truths and you could be in with a chance of winning a signed copy of The Shape of Lies.

 

How to play:

Rachel Abbott has come up with two big lies and one absolute truth about her life. Can you channel her beloved detective, Tom Douglas, and detect the one truth? Pick carefully, then follow the blog tour to collect all the truths and enter the prize draw. Once you have all seven truths email your answers to rachelabbottcomps@gmail.com.

Full T&Cs can be found here. The next round of The Shape of Truth or Lies continues over on www.noveldeelights.com tomorrow.

Now, read on to play The Shape of Truth and Lies game and be in with a chance of winning your very own signed copy.

 

Health

  1. I suffer from sleep apnoea – which means I stop breathing in the night. My husband shakes me to make me breathe again
  2. I suffer from somnambulism – sleep walking. I once woke up trying to get into my brother-in-law’s bed (I was honestly asleep).
  3. I have visions when I sleep – vivid images of things that are about to happen. When I wake up, I take a moment to review them for premonitions of deaths. If there are none, I get on with my day.

 

Which one is truth? A, B or C? Keep your answer safe, collect all seven truths and send to: rachelabbottcomps@gmail.com (see the blog tour banner below for details of the blogs taking part in the game.)

Remember to head to www.noveldeelights.com tomorrow for the next stop of The Shape of Lies blog tour and the next game of The Shape of Truth or Lies.

 

 

 

My verdict on The Shape of Lies:

Anna has secrets and a past; things her husband Dominic knows nothing about. Secrets she wants kept hidden.

When her past threatens to ruin her present, Anna can feel it all beginning to fall apart. She is not sure what to do to stop it.

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Book Extract: Summer on the Italian Lakes by Lucy Coleman

Hello and welcome to Lucy Coleman. She joins me today with the blog tour for her latest novel, Summer on the Italian Lakes. 

Bestselling Brianna Middleton has won the hearts of millions of readers with her sweeping and steamy love stories. But the girl behind the typewriter is struggling…. Not only does she have writer’s block, but she’s a world famous romance author with zero romance in her own life.

So the opportunity to spend the summer teaching at a writer’s retreat in an idyllic villa on the shores of Lake Garda owned by superstar author Arran Jamieson could this be just the thing to fire up Brie’s writing and romantic mojo?

Brie’s sun drenched Italian summer could be the beginning of this writer’s very own happy ever after…

 

Lucy and Aria have shared an extract today. 

 

***** beginning of extract*****

 

Dringggg. Dringgg. Dringgg.

The shrill ring of the doorbell makes my heart almost leap out of my chest. It must be a parcel because ringing three times is unnecessarily insistent. Delivery drivers these days need to zip around and I always feel guilty if I can’t instantly fling open the front door, because every second counts. A glance at the bedside clock tells me it’s only just after eight. But I do have a dozen sentences on the page in front of me that I haven’t yet deleted, so I haven’t totally wasted the last two hours.

Reluctantly, I push back the duvet cover and rush downstairs, feeling guilty that I’m still in bed and so far away from the door. It doesn’t help that I seem to have developed this unstoppable urge to buy things online. I’m waiting for a tempered glass screen protector for my iPad at the moment. It’s shatterproof and resistant to fingerprints. And it was on sale at the bargain price of two pounds and ninety-nine pence! How could I resist?

I pop on the chain and open the door a full six inches, peeking out and with my hand ready to grab the parcel. Three familiar faces stare back at me with looks ranging from mildly uncomfortable to horror-struck. To my utter dismay, standing on the doorstep is not only my mother, Wendy, but my best friend, Mel, and the fearsome Carrie herself.

‘Darling, can we come in?’ Mum’s voice is soft and full of compassion. A fourth person suddenly appears.

‘Morning, lovely.’ It’s Dad and he’s trying to sound upbeat. It comes out staccato fashion and even his lop-sided smile smacks of discomfort.

‘Can you take the chain off, Brie? I’m gasping for a cup of tea.’ Mel, too, sounds decidedly awkward.

I snap the door shut and stand, half leaning against the wall for a few moments while I try to collect my thoughts. I’m in no fit state to receive company and neither is the cottage. I wonder what the hell they want at this time of the morning?

I leave the chain on and ease the door open to peer around the edge once more.

‘Um… it’s a bit early, guys, and I’m not up yet. Can you come back later?’

Carrie suddenly strides forward blocking out my view of the others.

‘Open the door, Brie, this is an intervention. We aren’t going anywhere, so you might as well let us in now.’

One look at her face and I quiver, my hand reluctantly sliding back the chain. As I step aside it feels like a crowd is filtering into the hallway of my sanctuary.

‘Right,’ Dad says, looking decidedly embarrassed as he tries not to stare at me. And I can’t blame him. Even I don’t recognise me sometimes when I catch sight of myself unexpectedly in the mirror. ‘I’ll, um, put the kettle on then.’

I watch as he heads off to the kitchen and when I turn back, everyone is staring at me.

‘What on earth have you done to your hair?’ Mel asks, looking appalled.

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Book Extract: Mummy’s Favourite by Sarah Flint

Happy Friday and a big hello to Sarah Flint. She is here with the blog tour for her latest novel in the D.C. Charlotte Stafford series, Mummy’s Favourite, released by Aria in January

He’s watching… He’s waiting… Who’s next?

Buried in a woodland grave are a mother and her child. One is alive. One is dead. DC ‘Charlie’ Stafford is assigned by her boss, DI Geoffrey Hunter to assist with the missing person investigation, where mothers and children are being snatched in broad daylight.

As more pairs go missing, the pressure mounts. Leads are going cold. Suspects are identified but have they got the right person?

Can Charlie stop the sadistic killer whose only wish is to punish those deemed to have committed a wrong?

Or will she herself unwittingly become a victim.

Sarah and Aria have shared an extract today. 

 

***** beginning of extract*****

He was Hunter by name and certainly a hunter by nature, though his look was more prey than predator. At thirty years old, he’d had the appearance of an old man, short, chubby, bald and ruddy faced. Now, as a fifty-six-year-old Detective Inspector, his body was at last representative of his age.

Charlie loved the man, not in a romantic way; he was old enough to be her father. But he was everything she aspired to be: a fearless leader, a principled, hard-working officer and a thief-taker second to none; but with the added benefit of being highly organized and always punctual. She knew beneath the stern veneer that he loved her, in his own way, too, although he would never in a million years admit it and treated her more like an errant schoolchild.

Judging by his reaction today, however, she was lucky he had still assigned her to do the enquiries.

Anyway Paul was only teasing. He could be a mischievous bugger sometimes and she knew that he had long ago worked out that she had a soft spot for Hunter. He only had to mention their boss’s name to get her blushing.

She put her arm around Paul’s waist and squeezed him back. She instinctively recognized a friend, foe or neutral, almost within minutes of a first meeting, and he was definitely a friend. He also had the knack of seeing through her outwardly hard-working, happy, confident exterior to the insecure, vulnerable soul underneath. Not many people could do that; she put on a good act.

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Book Extract: Wildflower Park – Part Two: A Budding Romance by Bella Osborne

Welcome back to Bella Osborne and the blog tour for part two of a four-part serial, Wildflower Park. This part is called A Budding Romance. 

When Anna is dumped by her fiancé, she moves in to her own place on the edge of the gorgeous Wildflower Park and pledges to stay off men and focus on her career, but a handsome new colleague seems to thwart her attempts at every turn. And when she receives an accidental text from a mystery man, could it be the new start she needs? Or someone she really shouldn’t be falling for?

Anna’s neighbour Sophie is a stressed-out mum-of-two with a third on the way. Her husband is a constant frustration, and their children are a regular source of newly-invented swear words and unidentifiable sticky surfaces.

Luckily, Anna and Sophie have each other – and Wildflower Park proves to be a sanctuary as they map out a path to find the happiness they both deserve…

 

Bella has shared an extract with us today. Enjoy! 

 

***** beginning of extract*****

Once out of the canoes there was lots of congratulatory blokey back slapping, a few playful remonstrations and lots of Karl shaking his wet head over people like a naughty puppy. When he knew Liam was watching, Hudson leaned into Anna’s ear.

‘Nice job, honey,’ he whispered, making her shudder.

She hoped Hudson assumed her squirming was all part of the act. If you weren’t gay, you would make an excellent boyfriend, she thought. If she wasn’t careful she’d soon be suffering from Sophie’s complaint.

As the victors they were first to eat lunch, which was a barbecue by the water’s edge.

‘You okay?’ Anna asked Sophie who was munching down a large hamburger overflowing with salad.

‘Starving and a bit knackered but I had fun this morning and the lie-in was bliss. It’s lovely not to be woken by someone jumping on your bladder.’

‘You should stop Dave doing that,’ said Anna drily and Sophie gave a smirk.

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Book Extract: The Secret To Falling in Love by Victoria Cooke

Hello to Victoria Cooke and the birthday blog blitz for her novel, The Secret to Falling in Love. Happy Book Birthday Victoria. 

Lifestyle journalist and thirty-something singleton Melissa hashtags, insta’s and snapchats her supposedly fabulous life on every social media platform there is.
That is until she wakes up on her birthday, another year older and still alone, wondering if for all her internet dates, love really can be found online? The challenge: go technology free for a whole month!

Forced to confront the reality of her life without its perfect filters, Melissa knows she needs to make some changes. But when she bumps into not one, but two gorgeous men, without the use of an app, she believes there could be hope for love offline.
If only there was a way to choose the right guy for her…

 

I have reviewed the book below but first, Victoria has shared an extract from the novel. I hope yo enjoy.

 

***** beginning of extract*****

Here, main character, Mel, is reflecting on her grandmother’s romantic encounter with her grandad. This memory helps plant the idea of a technology detox in Mel’s mind.

I stumbled across a picture of me and my grandma. My throat ached as a lump formed. She’d died just two months ago, and I’d missed her ever since. She was my rock who I could talk to about anything; she knew me better than anyone else on the planet. I lifted my glass.

‘To you, Gran – I hope you’re raising hell up there.’ The last time I’d spoken to her, she’d told me to stop worrying about finding a man.

‘You’re not going to find anyone in there,’ she’d scolded, pointing to my laptop. ‘Do you think that’s how I met Grandad?’

I didn’t reply. Gran’s questions were usually rhetorical, which you discovered if you tried to answer.

‘No, I put on my make-up; made sure my best dress was darned, washed and pressed; and I went out and smiled at boys. It was easy to catch an eye or two.’ I’d chuckled at the time. Of course, things were different these days, but I enjoyed her stories so played along. ‘Grandad asked me if I wanted a drink. But I said a firm no.’

‘No?’ I’d queried, wondering if she’d not been attracted to him at first, if she was trying to tell me to just settle for someone.

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