Extracts

NK Chats To… e. lockhart

E Lockhart copy 2A huge massive hello to e. lockhart (Emily) who is joining me today. Her new novel, Genuine Fraud was released by Hot Key Books on 5th September.

About Genuine Fraud:

Imogen is a runaway heiress, an orphan, a cook, and a cheat.

Jule is a fighter, a social chameleon, and an athlete.

An intense friendship. A disappearance. A murder, or maybe two.

A bad romance, or maybe three.

Blunt objects, disguises, blood, and chocolate. The American dream,

superheroes, spies, and villains.

A girl who refuses to give people what they want from her.

A girl who refuses to be the person she once was.

 

Welcome to Novel Kicks. I am so excited to have you as our guest today. What is your typical writing day like?

Thanks for having me! I sit down to work around 8:30 in my home office. The cat sits with me. Then I fret and bleed and feel sick and feel impressed with myself and despair and have flashes of inspiration.

 

Your new book is called Genuine Fraud. What is the premise and what inspired it?

It’s about two young women who look enough alike to share a passport. It was inspired by various superhero origin stories, the Patricia Highsmith novel The Talented Mr. Ripley, Victorian orphan stories including Vanity Fair and Great Expectations, action hero movies and my desire to write a feminist antiheroine story. Its a story that’s in conversation with all of those. And it’s a tale told backwards.

 

GENUINE FRAUD CoverWhat are the challenges of writing a young adult novel?

YA readers love their books passionately, and tolerate neither bulls—t nor boredom. That’s an exacting and super-responsive audience to have.

 

What elements do you feel are important?

I try to get the inside of my head onto the page in the shape of a story that will be entertaining and emotional to read. I try to offer my brain up to the reader.

 

How do you approach the editing process?

The editor pushes me to be my best self. She pushes really hard and I can’t say I enjoy it. I revise my books about twenty times. Maybe more.

 

What is your process like when starting a novel (from idea to final draft,) and has it changed since writing your first book?

With Genuine Fraud, because it is told backwards, I had to lay the plot out ahead of time. Then I wrote the book from the last chapter to the first — in reverse order to how people will experience it. But after that came the twenty revisions.

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Book Extract: Dating Daisy by DaisyMae_224

eBook Daisy Mae - 9.6.17 - v6Today, I’m so pleased to be a part of the blog tour for Dating Daisy by DaisyMae_224 which was released by Clink Street Publishing on 27th July 2017. 

Here’s a little about Dating Daisy…

What do you do when you’re a newly divorced 52-year-old mother, keen for a second chance of romance? Why internet dating of course! Daisy Mae_224 embarks on the internet dating process with trepidation.

Having not been on the dating scene for nearly 30 years, and with fairly rudimentary computer skills, she finds herself embroiled in a series of haphazard and hilarious situations.

Daisy keeps a diary of her internet dating life and reveals detail by detail, the ups and downs of her midlife dating extravaganza. Soon after starting out, Daisy realises her true mission. With no past experience and no-one/nothing to guide her, she needs to produce – Internet Dating lessons.

Read on to find out about PLONKERS, muppets and MAWDs, and a whole host of amusing anecdotes, tips and ideas. Working by day as a Sexual Health doctor, the story as it unfolds contains accounts of Daisy’s clinical experiences with patients in the Sexual Health clinic.

She also reflects on her past life with Voldemort (the dreadful ex-husband). With advice and encouragement from Imogen, her 17 year old daughter, her surrogate parents known as the Amigos, with a big house and swanky swimming pool, her friend Pinkie and from Jeannie, her nonagenarian friend from the Nursing Home, Daisy resiliently persists in her quest to find a long term partner.

This is a heartfelt story that will ring bells with anyone who has ended a long-term relationship and now wants to find somebody new. It is humorously written, full of emails, poems, limericks, and even a recipe!

Daisy can’t resist her pages of advice on topics like “Kissing” and “Anti-Snoring.” It is a unique and highly amusing book, which will make you laugh out loud! So read on and see. Will Dating Daisy find her “prairie vole?” Or will the whole process end in disaster?

 

Thanks to DaisyMae_224 and Clink Street Publishing, I have extracts from Dating Daisy to share. These also include notes from the author. Enjoy!

Dating Daisy is a humorous novel about Daisy, who aged 52, and newly divorced, plucks up the courage to start internet dating. It is a fiction book but based on the authors’ experiences. In between the dating, she works as a doctor in the Sexual Health Clinic. The book follows the up’s and down’s of this period in her life, and reveals some unpredictable, escapades, that may just make you laugh out loud!

In this first extract, Daisy has bravely done all that was required. With trepidation, as she has not had to think about any sort of dating for three decades, let alone advertise herself on the internet, she has actually completed the profile, uploaded the photo., and then went to bed to sleep on it. The next morning, full of anticipation she logs on, expecting to find a row of possible suitors.

*
Not one wink, smile, email or anything else. I am deflated.
Oh, wait a minute, 37 men have viewed me and one has listed me as a favourite.
One! Out of 37! How can I be so unattractive!

Didn’t I say rhinoceros earlier? Time to think of ugly mammals. Hopefully not because I’m one of them!, but because I have to behave like one. The thicker the skin the better. Didn’t the elephant get his saggy baggy skin by scratching it in the Limpopo River? I need to scratch mine somewhere. It’s getting very itchy.
“What’s wrong with me,” my brain asks Daisy. “Am I so ugly no one wants to speak to me?”
“Now come on,” says the brain, “there are lots of reasons nothing has happened – yet. And it is early.

“You only loaded your profile less than 24 hours ago. It has to be checked by Trust HQ!
“And anyway, remember men are like ostriches, they see a beautiful woman, they stick their head in the sand. You, Daisy, need to lead the way.

“Think about the men on BritainonSunday.com. The Britain on Sunday readers of the UK have just risen early, downed a cooked breakfast and boarded the 6.48 to Clapham Junction. They are probably only now unfurling the daily newspaper, and may not even yet have reached the dating section.

“And how many will be actually online-now? In the rush hour? Don’t be ridiculous!

“And those who do like you, may be shy, they may be poleaxed, frozen with desire, helplessly in love with the tantalising image in the red dress, but uncertain how to make the first move.

“Daisy, you will just have to make the first move yourself. Now what did I say?
“Dazzling, beautiful, smart and alluring.
“Be brave! The world CAN be your oyster.”
*
I chose this extract because disappointments when internet dating are all too common. This is fairly early on this story, and Daisy is quite dismayed to see that the man who gets off the train, is a different person to the one she saw in his photograph on the internet.)

*

Anyhow, I was now driving to meet Henry, this talkative, charming, perfect soulmate who wanted to be my teddy bear, and today Dating Daisy had a date. Nothing was going to get in the way. Jeremy took my love and threw it away. Jeremy is history.

I arrived at the station. The train was due in 20 minutes but it seemed the longest 20 minutes in history. He had texted that he was in the front of the train. I waited in the waiting room as it was very cold that day. I popped in to the ladies to brush my hair and apply a bit more lipstick. What would he think of me, this 53-year-old, Dating Daisy? I was aware that I had my love poem, Finding True Love, folded in a an envelope in my hand bag.

Would I, oh would I, in my wildest dreams, be able to give this to Henry?
The train slowed, a whistle blew, the doors opened. A lot of people were moving about, getting on and off the train. I scanned the front of the train for a tall, balding man with a smiley face.

But what was this. A carriage door opened and a man was smiling and walking towards me. But it wasn’t, it couldn’t be, Henry? I guessed it must be as he was hugging me and grasping my hand. I looked over his left shoulder as he enveloped me on that station platform. I am 5ft8½, and he is shorter than me.

First lie.

Second lie. He didn’t look anything like his photo. The picture I had seen must have been a picture of someone else.

This man had had seriously bad acne, and had a very scarred face. Deep craters peppered his rough complexion. In addition, his cheeks had caved in, rather like an old person who has taken out their false teeth. I knew he didn’t have any hair, so that was not a surprise, but he was very, very bald. And you know what else? He was wearing a purple and green striped shirt over a pair of tatty jeans, and what had I said? No Morris dancers!

*
Daisy continues to work at her day job in the Sexual Health Clinic. The book is interspersed with anecdotes and stories from the clinic.

*
A patient made me laugh today.
She said, “Can I ask you something doctor?”
“Of course,” I said.
“The thing is, I keep getting this pain in my vagina.”
“Ok. Pain in the vagina?”
“Yes, I get it whenever I use two vibrators at once. Have you heard of that before?”
I considered this.
“Well, have you tried only using one vibrator at a time?” I said.
“Now there’s an idea,” she replied.
People can be very strange!

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Extract: The Big Dreams Beach Hotel by Lilly Bartlett

The Big Dreams Beach Hotel Lilly Barlett’s new novel, The Big Dreams Beach Hotel is due to be released by Harper Impulse tomorrow. I am delighted to be able to share with you an extract from Lilly’s new book. First, here’s the blurb… 

Wriggle your toes in the sand and feel the warm breeze on your face at the hotel that’s full of dreams…

Three years after ditching her career in New York City, Rosie never thought she’d still be managing the quaint faded Victorian hotel in her seaside hometown.

What’s worse, the hotel’s new owners are turning it into a copy of their Florida properties. Flamingos and all. Cultures are clashing and the hotel’s residents stand in the way of the developers’ plans. The hotel is both their home and their family.

That’s going to make Rory’s job difficult when he arrives to enforce the changes. And Rosie isn’t exactly on his side, even though it’s the chance to finally restart her career. Rory might be charming, but he’s still there to evict her friends.

How can she follow her dreams if it means ending everyone else’s?

 

The Big Dreams Beach Hotel

Lilly Bartlett

Chapter 1

 

New York is where I fell head over heels for a bloke named Chuck. I know: Chuck. But don’t judge him just because he sounds like he should be sipping ice-cream floats at the drive-in or starring in the homecoming football game. Rah rah, sis boom bah, yay, Chuck!

Believe me, I didn’t plan for a Chuck in my life. But that’s how it happens, isn’t it? One minute you’ve got plans for your career and a future that doesn’t involve the inconvenience of being in love, and the next you’re floating around in full dozy-mare mode.

I won’t lie to you. When Chuck walked into our hotel reception one afternoon in late October, it wasn’t love at first sight. It was lust.

Be still, my fluttering nethers.

Talk about unprofessional. I could hardly focus on what he was saying. Something about organising Christmas parties.

‘To be honest, I don’t really know what I’m doing,’ he confided as he leaned against the reception desk. His face was uncomfortably close to mine, but by then I’d lived in New York for eighteen months. I was used to American space invaders. They’re not being rude, just friendly. And Chuck was definitely friendly.

‘I only started my job about a month ago,’ he told me. ‘It’s my first big assignment, so I really can’t fuck it up. Sorry, I mean mess it up.’ His blue (so dark blue) eyes bore into mine. ‘I’m hoping someone here can help me.’

It took all my willpower not to spring over the desk to his aid. Not that I’m at all athletic. I’d probably have torn my dress, climbed awkwardly over and landed face-first at his feet.

Keep him talking, I thought, so that I could keep staring. He looked quintessentially American, with his square jawline and big straight teeth and air of confidence, even though he’d just confessed to being hopeless at his new job. His brown hair wasn’t too long but also wasn’t too short, wavy and artfully messed up with gel, and his neatly trimmed stubble made me think of lazy Sunday mornings in bed.

See what I mean? Lust.

‘I noticed you on my way back from Starbucks,’ he said.

At first, I thought he meant he’d noticed me. That made me glance in the big mirror on the pillar behind him, where I could just see my reflection from where I was standing. At five-foot four, I was boob-height behind the desk in the gunmetal-grey fitted dress uniform all the front-desk staff had to wear. My wavy dark-red hair was as neat as it ever got. I flashed myself a reflected smile just to check my teeth. Of course, I couldn’t see any detail from where I stood. Only my big horsy mouth. Mum says giant teeth make my face interesting. I think I look a bit like one of the Muppets.

‘Do you have the space for a big party?’ he said. ‘For around four hundred people?’

He didn’t mean he’d noticed me; only the hotel. ‘We’ve got the Grand Ballroom and the whole top floor, which used to be the restaurant and bar. I think it’s even prettier than the ballroom, but it depends on your style and your budget and what you want to do with it.’

Based on his smile, you’d have thought I’d just told him we’d found a donor kidney for his operation. ‘I’ve been looking online, but there are too many choices,’ he said. ‘Plus, my company expects the world.’ He grimaced. ‘They didn’t like the hotel they used last year, or the year before that. I’m in over my head, to be honest. I think I need a guiding hand.’

I had just the hand he was looking for, and some ideas about where to guide it.

But instead of jumping up and down shouting ‘Pick Me, Pick Me!’, I put on my professional hat and gave him our events brochure and the team’s contact details. Because normal hotel receptionists don’t launch themselves into the arms of prospective clients.

When he reached over the desk to shake my hand, I had to resist the urge to bob a curtsy. ‘I’m Chuck Williamson. It was great to meet you, Rosie.’

He knew my name!

‘And thank you for being so nice. You might have saved my ass on this one. I’ll talk to your events people.’ He glanced again at my chest.

He didn’t know my name. He’d simply read my name badge.

No sooner had Chuck exited through the revolving door than my colleague, Digby, said, ‘My God, any more sparks and I’d have had to call the fire department.’

Digby was my best friend at the hotel and also a foreign transplant in Manhattan – where anyone without a 212 area code was foreign. Home for him was some little town in Kansas or Nebraska or somewhere with lots of tornadoes. Hearing Digby speak always made me think of The Wizard of Oz, but despite sounding like he was born on a combine harvester, Digby was clever. He did his degree at Cornell. That’s the Holy Grail for aspiring hotelies (as we’re known).

Digby didn’t let his pedigree go to his head, though, like I probably would have.

‘Just doing my job,’ I told him. But I knew I was blushing.

Our manager, Andi, swore under her breath. ‘That’s the last thing we need right now – some novice with another Christmas party to plan.’

‘That is our job,’ Digby pointed out.

‘Your job is to man the reception desk, Digby.’

Ya vol, Commandant.’ He saluted, before going to the other end of the desk.

‘But we do have room in the schedule, don’t we?’ I asked. Having just come off a rotation in the events department the month before, I knew they were looking for more business in that area. Our room occupancy hadn’t been all the company hoped for over the summer.

‘Plenty of room, no time,’ Andi snapped.

I’d love to tell you that I didn’t think any more about Chuck, that I was a cool twenty-five-year-old living her dream in New York. And it was my dream posting. I still couldn’t believe my luck. Well, luck and about a million hours earning my stripes in the hospitality industry. I’d already done stints in England and one in Sharm El Sheikh – though not in one of those fancy five-star resorts where people clean your sunglasses on the beach. It was a reasonable four-star one.

There’s a big misconception about hotelies that I should probably clear up. People assume that because we spend our days surrounded by luxury, we must live in the same glamour. The reality is 4a.m. wake-ups, meals eaten standing up, cheap living accommodation and, invariably, rain on our day off. Sounds like a blast, doesn’t it?

But I loved it. I loved that I was actually being paid to work in the industry where I did my degree. I loved the satisfied feeling I got every time a guest thanked me for solving a problem. And I loved that I could go anywhere in the world for work.

I especially loved that last part.

But back to Chuck, who’d been stuck in my head since the minute he’d walked through the hotel door.

I guess it was natural, given that I hadn’t had a boyfriend the whole time I’d been in the city. Flirting and a bit of snogging, yes, but nothing you could call a serious relationship.

There wasn’t any time, really, for a social life. That’s why hotelies hang out so much with each other. No one else has the same hours free. So, in the absence of other options, Digby and I were each other’s platonic date. He sounds like the perfect gay best friend, right? Only he wasn’t gay. He just had no interest in me. Nor I in him, which made him the ideal companion – hot enough in that freckle-faced farm-boy way to get into the nightclubs when we finished work at 1 or 2a.m., but not the type to go off shagging and leave me to find my way home on the subway alone.

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Book Extract: Italian Millionaire, Runaway Principessa by Sun Chara

Italian Millionaire, Runaway Principessa 516MSZ3h2cLA lovely welcome today to Sun Chara and the blog tour for her new novel, Italian Millionaire, Runaway Principessa, which has just been published by HarperImpulse.

Tug-a-war between the sexes! Infamous Italian neurosurgeon, Peter Medeci, has a score to settle with his estranged wife: her reckless bid for independence has nearly destroyed his medical career.

Ellie, desperate to reassert herself as more than his bedroom playmate, flees the ‘fairytale’ for a gig in a Hollywood club until Peter comes looking for her. For her freedom, Ellie must spend the next three weeks being the ‘good doctor’s wife’ in public…and his mistress in private!

Thanks to Sun and Harper Impulse, I have an extract from Italian Millionaire, Runaway Principessa to share with you today. Enjoy.

 

Chapter 1

Peter saw her. And he saw men at the bar ogling her every curve.

The waitress scrap-of-nothing she wore accentuated the length and shape of her legs, clad in net stockings. How she managed to walk on stiletto heels was beyond his male comprehension. The flimsy froth of fabric barely covered her bottom and had her breasts nearly spilling from the Grand Canyon neckline, to the delight of every male eye in the smoke-filled room.

He brushed rain-damp hair off his brow, warring with his gut instinct to stride over, sling her across his shoulder, and take her home. Hot blood surged through him and his aorta boxed his chest. Home where she belonged, with him, and in his bed—

The crash of glass jolted him from plunging deeper into the erotic fantasy. Since she’d run out on him, his mind was set on replay…a constant rankling to his Italian pride.

A muscle assaulted his jaw.

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The Vets at Hope Green by Sheila Norton – Extract and Review

Ebury Press, June 2017

Ebury Press, June 2017

A huge, lovely welcome today to Sheila Norton, whose book, The Vets at Hope Green was released in paperback on 1st June 2017 by Ebury Press.

Sam has always dreamed of working with animals…

But her receptionist job in a London vets is not hitting the spot.

Unsure whether a busy city life is for her, she flees to her Nana Peggy’s idyllic country village.

But despite the rolling hills and its charming feel, life in Hope Green is far from peaceful.

On first meeting Joe, the abrupt and bad-tempered local vet, Sam knows she must get him on side, but that is easier said than done…

With her dream close enough to touch, will she get there, or will events conspire against her…?

 

I have reviewed the book below but first, thanks to Sheila and Ebury, I have an extract from The Vets at Hope Green for you. Enjoy.

It was a beautiful, warm day at the end of May and the countryside on either side of the road was full of the promise of summer ahead.

I wound down the driver’s window of my little car and turned up the radio so that I could hear the music above the noise of the breeze as I whizzed along in the fast lane of the motorway.

Mile by mile, I felt myself relaxing. I felt my worries and uncertainties begin to melt away and my heart lifted with the anticipation of my destination.

Hope Green. The very name made me feel more optimistic. I sang along to the radio, remembering happy family holi­days on the Dorset coast when I was a child. Hope Green had hardly changed since those days, its age-old charm untouched by the increased pace of life elsewhere. It was somewhere I could unwind and be at peace, take stock of things and perhaps really find myself at last.

As I steadily increased my distance from my home on the outskirts of London, I could almost feel my old life slipping off my shoulders like a heavy coat that had been weighing me down – the crowded streets, the rush-hour crush on the Tube, the traffic fumes, the stress on people’s faces – I was leaving all this behind me, leaving it for a place where life still depended on the seasons, where people still had time to chat on street corners, where people picked blackberries and elderberries from the hedgerows instead of buying them in tiny plastic packets from the supermarket at ridiculous expense.

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Blog Tour: Learning To Fly by Jane Lambert – Extract

Learning to FlyI am pleased to be welcoming Jane Lambert to the blog today and her tour for her novel, Learning to Fly. 

Forty-year-old air stewardess Emily Forsyth has everything a woman could wish for: a glamorous, jet-set lifestyle, a designer wardrobe and a dishy pilot of a husband-in-waiting to match. But when he leaves her to ‘find himself’ (forgetting to mention the bit about ‘… a younger girlfriend’), Emily’s perfect world comes crashing down. Catapulted into a mid-life crisis, she is forced to take stock and make some major changes. She ditches her job and enrols on a drama course in pursuit of her childhood dream, positive that, in no time at all, she’ll be posing in Prada on the red carpet and her ex will rue the day he dumped her. Wrong! Her chosen path proves to be an obstacle course littered with odd jobs and humiliating auditions; from performing Macbeth single-handedly at Scone Palace to chauffeuring the world’s top golfers at St Andrews – and getting hopelessly lost.

If she is to survive, she must learn to be happy with less, and develop a selective memory to cope with more than her fair share of humiliating auditions. She tells herself her big break is just around the corner. But is it too late to be chasing dreams?

Jane has very kindly shared an extract from the novel. Enjoy. 

******

It is never too late to be what you might have been ̴ George Eliot

Reasons for and against giving up the glitzy, glamorous world of flying:

Pros:

  1. No more cleaning up other people’s sick.
  2. No more 2 a.m. wake-up calls, jet lag, swollen feet/ stomach or shrivelled-up skin.
  3. No more tedious questions like, ‘What’s that lake/ mountain down there?’ and ‘Does the mile high club really exist?’
  4. No more serving kippers and poached eggs at 4 a.m. to passengers with dog-breath and smelly socks.
  5. No more risk of dying from deep vein thrombosis, malaria or yellow fever.
  6. No more battles with passengers who insist that their flat-pack gazebo will fit into the overhead locker.
  7. No more wearing a permanent smile and a name badge.
  8. No danger of bumping into ex-boyfriend and his latest ‘I’m-Debbie-come-fly-me’.

Cons:

  1. No more fake Prada, Louis Vuitton or Gucci.
  2. No more lazing by the pool in winter.
  3. No more ten-hour retail therapy sessions in shopping malls the size of a small island — and getting paid for it.
  4. No more posh hotel freebies (toiletries, slippers, fluffy bathrobes etc.).
  5. Holidays (if any) now to be taken in Costa del Cheapo, as opposed to Barbados or Bora Bora.
  6. No more horse riding around the pyramids, imagining I’m a desert queen.
  7. No more ice skating in Central Park, imagining I’m Ali MacGraw in Love Story.
  8. Having to swap my riverside apartment for a shoebox, and my Mazda convertible for a pushbike.

 

‘Cabin crew, ten minutes to landing. Ten minutes, please,’ comes the captain’s olive-oil-smooth voice over the intercom. This is it. No going back. I’m past the point of no return.

The galley curtain swishes open — it’s showtime!

I switch on my full-beam smile and enter upstage left, pushing my trolley for the very last time …

‘Anyheadsetsanyrubbishlandingcard? Anyheadsetsanyrubbishlandingcard? …’

Have I taken leave of my senses? The notion of an actress living in a garret, sacrificing everything for the sake of her art, seemed so romantic when I gaily handed in my notice three months ago, but now I’m not so sure …

Be positive! Just think, a couple of years from now, you could be sipping coffee with Phil and Holly on the This Morning sofa …

Yes, Phil, the rumours are true … I have been asked to appear on Strictly Come Dancing. God only knows how I’ll fit it around my filming commitments though.

Who are you kidding? A couple of years from now, the only place you’ll be appearing is the job centre, playing Woman On Income Support.

This follow-your-dreams stuff is all very well when you’re in your twenties, or thirties even, but I’m a forty-year-old woman with no rich husband (or any husband for that matter) to bail me out if it all goes pear-shaped. Just as everyone around me is having a loft extension or a late baby, I’m downsizing my whole lifestyle to enter a profession that boasts a ninety-two percent unemployment rate.

Why in God’s name, in this wobbly economic climate, am I putting myself through all this angst and upheaval, when I could be pushing my trolley until I’m sixty, then retire comfortably on an ample pension and one free flight a year?

Something happened, out of the blue, that catapulted me from my ordered, happy-go-lucky existence and forced me down a different road …

‘It’s not your fault. It’s me. I’m confused,’ Nigel had said.

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Blog Tour: No Turning Back by Tracy Buchanan – Extract and Review

tracy-buchananI’m very happy to be welcoming Tracy Buchanan back to Novel Kicks and her blog tour for her new novel which is called No Turning Back (published by Avon on 28th July 2016.)

When radio presenter Anna Graves and her baby are attacked on the beach by a crazed teenager, Anna reacts instinctively to protect her daughter.

But her life falls apart when the schoolboy dies from his injuries. The police believe Anna’s story, until the autopsy results reveal something more sinister.

A frenzied media attack sends Anna into a spiral of self-doubt. Her precarious mental state is further threatened when she receives a chilling message from someone claiming to be the ‘Ophelia Killer’, responsible for a series of murders twenty years ago.

Is Anna as innocent as she claims? And is murder forgivable, if committed to save your child’s life…?

I have reviewed it below but thanks to Tracy and Avon, here is an extract from chapter seven of the book. Enjoy. (Warning, small amount of bad language.)

 

The Third One

‘My friends call me Coolio,’ the boy says.

I laugh.

‘Not for the reasons you think though,’ he adds. ‘It’s ’cos I once got my fingers stuck in a freezer door.’

I laugh again. This one’s funny.

‘I like it here,’ the boy says. We’re sitting in his garden, looking out towards the sea through the broken panels of his fence. It’s boiling hot and we’re both trying to huddle under a small tree, the one piece of shade out here. He’s new here, only been living in The Docks for three weeks.

I can’t help but look towards his pond. It shimmers under the bright exhausting sun and I have a flashback to the week before and the pale body that had lain prone in filthy water.

Guilt swirls with excitement. You said that will change, the guilt will eventually fade. I think you’re right, I’m starting to feel braver, fingers tingling with excitement.

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