Extracts

Book Extract and Review: Stolen by Paul Finch

Hello Friday! It’s almost the weekend and what better way to celebrate its arrival than a visit from Paul Finch and the blog tour for his new novel, Stolen. 

How do you find the missing when there’s no trail to follow?

DC Lucy Clayburn is having a tough time of it. Not only is her estranged father one of the North West’s toughest gangsters, but she is in the midst of one of the biggest police operations of her life.

Members of the public have started to disappear, taken from the streets as they’re going about their every day lives. But no bodies are appearing – it’s almost as if the victims never existed.

Lucy must chase a trail of dead ends and false starts as the disappearances mount up. But when her father gets caught in the crossfire, the investigation suddenly becomes a whole lot more bloody…

 

I’ve reviewed the novel below but before that, Paul and Avon have shared an extract. 

 

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

 

Lucy was still in the thick of the action, though it was mostly over. On all sides, cautions were being issued, and the responses, mainly f-words and other more imaginative profanities, being recorded on dictaphone as the jostling, cuffed men were frogmarched to the farm cottage wall and held there, each by his individual arresting officer, while others commenced searching them. One resisted more than the rest, kicking out and spitting, and was given a backhander across the mouth for his trouble. Lucy wasn’t worried. When the evidence was finally presented, she doubted there was a magistrate in the land who’d be swayed by farcical complaints about police brutality.

Quite a bit of that evidence was on display inside the barn itself, when she went in there. The centrepiece was a purpose-built pit, squarish in shape, about ten yards by ten, dug to a depth of five feet and lined with brick, with a steel ladder fixed in one corner and a camera mounted on a tripod overlooking it, alongside an upright chalkboard scribbled with betting information. 

Two dogs still occupied the pit. One, an American pit bull, charged crazily back and forth, jumping up to snap and snarl at the officers, despite the excessive blood dabbling its jaws and jowls. The other one, whose breed was uncertain, lay in a quivering, panting heap, gashed and torn and spattered with gore.

‘We need one of the vets in here,’ Lucy said to a PC at her shoulder. ‘And a handler . . . to control the other one, yeah?’

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Book Extract & Review: The Family by P.R. Black

It’s the weekend, the sun is shining (mostly,) and P.R. Black is here with the blog tour to his latest novel, The Family. 

 

The best way to catch a killer? Offer yourself as bait.

Becky Morgan’s family were the victims of the ‘crimes of the decade’. 

The lone survivor of a ritualistic killing, Becky’s been forever haunted by the memories of that night.

Twenty years later, with the killer never found, Becky is ready to hunt them down and exact revenge. But the path to find the murderer is a slippery slope and she finds herself opening up some old wounds that should have been left sealed. 

Will Becky avenge her family or join them? 

 

I’ve reviewed The Family below but first, P.R. Black and Aria have shared an extract. 

 

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

‘Let’s turn to the perpetrator – who is it we’re looking for?’

‘I’m afraid that clues are few and far between, which is why it’s taken so long to find him. He never showed his face, but what we can say is that the man we’re looking for was around six feet tall or more, well-built, and probably aged between 25 and 40 – certainly a young, fit man. That means he’d be between 45 and 60 today, of course. He had a strong accent – not English, and, we think, not French, but perhaps Eastern European.’

The presenter faced the camera. ‘I apologise to viewers in advance, as this is a particularly distressing detail. But we have to talk about the mask.’

Becky looked away. 

‘Yes,’ said Inspector Hanlon. ‘As far as we can tell, it was this mask.’

‘We should stress, this is an artist’s interpretation,’ the presenter added.

‘Yes. This object seems to have been created by the killer himself. We believe it’s made of real bone, attached to some dark cloth. It’s nothing that was available in fancy dress shops, but it is just possible that someone, somewhere, might remember a man buying this mask from a specialist shop.’

‘It’s difficult to imagine what that poor girl must have gone through.’ 

Becky toasted the TV screen. ‘Don’t have nightmares,’ she said, remembering the final words uttered by the presenter who hosted an earlier series of Crimewatch.

On-screen, the presenter said, ‘Inspector, what more can you tell us about what the killer was wearing?’

‘When he arrived at the cottage, he wore all-black clothing. The only other clue we have is that he had size-fourteen feet, going by footprints left at the scene. He was wearing these shoes…’

The man beside Becky said, ‘I bet he wasn’t wearing all-black clothing when he got going. He might have kept his shoes on, though, for a quick getaway.’

She glanced at him for a moment – and then he was wearing her G&T. 

Rivulets meandered down his jowls like tears, and a sliver of lemon clung to his chin like a slug on a bannister losing its fight with gravity. 

‘What do you think you’re doing?’ he spluttered.

‘Hey.’ The barman pointed at her. ‘You’ve had enough, love. Out.’

‘I was just going. Love.’ Becky lurched to her feet, clinging to the counter until her shoes found purchase, and then strode out the door. 

The bar was set in the basement of a refurbished tenement block, and Becky had got halfway up the stairs to street level when the man who’d sat beside her gripped her shoulder. She gasped and clung onto the railings to avoid falling backwards.

The man’s hair was still plastered to his forehead with her gin. He looked like a young boy grotesquely groomed by his mother for church. 

‘I dunno who you think you are, freak,’ he snarled, ‘but you’re lucky I don’t kick you up and down this street.’

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Book Extract & Review: A Summer to Remember by Sue Moorcroft

I can’t think of a better way to start a Monday than a visit from Sue Moorcroft and the blog tour for her new novel, A Summer to remember.

 

WANTED! A caretaker for Roundhouse Row holiday cottages.

WHERE? Nelson’s Bar is the perfect little village. Nestled away on the Norfolk coast we can offer you no signal, no Wi-Fi and – most importantly – no problems!

WHO? The ideal candidate will be looking for an escape from their cheating scumbag ex-fiancé, a diversion from their entitled cousin, and a break from their traitorous friends.

WHAT YOU’LL GET! Accommodation in a chocolate-box cottage, plus a summer filled with blue skies and beachside walks. Oh, and a reunion with the man of your dreams.

PLEASE NOTE: We take no responsibility for any of the above scumbags, passengers and/or traitors walking back into your life…

GET IN TOUCH NOW TO MAKE THIS A SUMMER TO REMEMBER!

 

Mick has reviewed the book but first, Sue and Avon have shared an extract with us all today. 

 

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

Surprised into rising and facing the direction the voice had come from, Clancy had to grab the back of the bench as her head swam anew. A short, rotund woman with a dandelion clock of white hair and a sweet smile shuffled around the house. ‘Are you are our new Evelyn? I’m Dilys, from number two. I thought I’d say hello.’ By now Dilys was standing in front of Clancy, daisy-strewn wellies peeping from beneath a rose-splashed skirt. Her eyebrows bobbed enquiringly.

‘I’m taking the caretaker’s job, yes.’ It was impossible not to return Dilys’s smile; it was so twinkly and warm. ‘I was just wondering where I could find a supermarket. Or furniture shops. Aaron had to rush off before he could tell me.’ She supposed she was lucky that she had money in the bank but she hadn’t really bargained for the hassle of furnishing the Roundhouse when she decided to launch herself towards Nelson’s Bar.

Dilys’s grey eyes twinkled as she turned and let herself down stiffly onto the bench beside Clancy. ‘Furniture? I expect he’ll just bring the other stuff back. They stored it up at De Silva House – Aaron’s parents’ place – because Evelyn had her own.’

Clancy suppressed a wriggle of hurt that Aaron hadn’t mentioned something that, clearly, would make her life easier. Evidently, he didn’t want her here. So what? She’d been unwanted by people much closer and more important to her than Aaron De Silva. Her ex-fiancé and work colleagues, for example. And with her parents it had always only been fifty-fifty.

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Book Extract & Review: Tick Tock by Mel Sherratt

You made it everyone. It’s the weekend. Today, I am pleased to welcome back Mel Sherratt and the blog tour for her new book, Tick Tock. 

 

TICK…

In the city of Stoke, a teenage girl is murdered in the middle of the day, her lifeless body abandoned in a field behind her school.

TOCK…

Two days later, a young mother is abducted. She’s discovered strangled and dumped in a local park.

TIME’S UP…

DS Grace Allendale and her team are brought in to investigate, but with a bold killer, no leads and nothing to connect the victims, the case seems hopeless. It’s only when a third woman is targeted that a sinister pattern emerges. A dangerous mind is behind these attacks, and Grace realises that the clock is ticking…

Can they catch the killer before another young woman dies?

 

Mel and Avon have shared an extract today. Enjoy. 

 

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

‘Robert?’ Perry queried.

‘Robert Carmichael. He’s the PE teacher. The classes get very competitive and it gives the pupils a good workout in the fresh air.’

‘Who owns the field where Lauren was found?’ Grace questioned.

‘Arthur Barrett and his family – a local farming generation. The school have been using it with their permission for over twenty years.’ Nathan shook his head in disbelief. ‘I hope I don’t have to suspend Robert for not watching them all.’

‘He can’t have eyes in the back of his head,’ Perry said.

‘I guess. But it only takes one person to blame him. And me.’ Nathan ran a hand through his hair and swallowed.

‘Although, according to some of the pupils, he shouted at them to hurry up a few times.’

‘We need a list of the pupils who took his class, too,’ Grace said. ‘We’ll have to speak to them all over the course of the next day or two. If there aren’t enough teachers spare to sit with the pupils, or if any parents or guardians specifically want to be with their children when we speak to them, we’ll arrange appointments. Whatever happens, everything will be dealt with in a sensitive manner.’

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Book Extract: Son of the Moon by Jennifer Macaire

Hello to Jennifer Macaire and the blog tour for her novel, Son of the Moon. 

Alexander the Great journeys to India, where he and Ashley are welcomed with feasts and treachery.

With their son, Paul, being worshiped as the Son of the Moon, and Alexander’s looming death, Ashley considers the unthinkable: how to save them and whether she dares to cheat Fate?

Jennifer has shared an extract with us today. Enjoy. 

 

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

I climbed down the scaffolding and dashed across the floating bridge, grabbing for handholds as the river tossed it about. I had to run across a muddy, blood soaked battlefield. I leaped over bodies of men and horses, sliding and stumbling, my breath whistling in my tight throat. I knew I had to get to Alexander. He was so unrestrained. His joy and grief knew no bounds. This loss would devastate him.

I scrambled over the last twenty meters, calling Alexander’s name. He sat cradling his horse’s head in his lap, saying over and over, “Buci, Buci, Buci…”

He looked up as I arrived. “Ashley,” he said hoarsely. Then, “Your nose is bleeding.”

“Don’t worry about me.” I squatted down next to him. “You were wonderful,” I said. “Incredible. I watched the whole battle from the tower. Now I know why men will study this battle, sing songs about it, and write stories about it for thousands of years. It was amazing.”

“Do they really?” He smiled, but tears ran down his cheeks. “Was it so great?” His voice was raw and broken.

“More than great,” I assured him. I looked down at his hands, wrapped in Bucephalus’s mane. One of them was bleeding and swollen. “If you want, I’ll make you a bracelet with some of his hair.”

“I’d like that,” he said simply, and watched as I carefully plucked ten hairs from the horse’s long mane. “He was my horse,” he said softly.

“He was more than that!” I said. “Why, if everyone had a horse like Bucephalus, they would be the luckiest of men.”

“As was I.”

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Book Extract: A Perfect Cornish Summer by Phillipa Ashley

A big lovely hello to Phillipa Ashley and the blog tour for her new novel, A Perfect Cornish Summer.

Summer is on the horizon, and the people of Porthmellow are eagerly awaiting the annual food festival. At least, most of them are…

For Sam Lovell, organising the summer festival in her hometown is one of the highlights of her year. It’s not always smooth sailing, but she loves to see Porthmellow’s harbour packed with happy visitors, and being on the committee has provided a much-needed distraction from the drama in her family life (and the distinct lack of it in her love life).

When their star guest pulls out with only a few weeks to go, everyone’s delighted when a London chef who grew up locally steps in at the last minute. But Gabe Matthias is the last person Sam was expecting to see, and his return to Porthmellow will change her quiet coastal life for ever.

Phillipa has shared an extract with us today. 

 

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

 

Bryony prodded the laminated poster with the toe of her Doc Marten’s. ‘I’d hoped you’d decided to give the festival a rest for a year.’ The dog barked again so Bryony ramped up her own volume. ‘My Sacha hates all the noise and smells.’

Bryony stroked Sacha’s head while Sam tried to let the words wash over her. It didn’t do to argue with Bryony, Cornwall’s self-declared canine expert and the most unlikely metal fan on the planet. Woe betide anyone who dared ques­tion her views on dogs, music . . . or the festival, or tourists, or the weather, or anything else. Sam had often thought that if Professor Stephen Hawking had ever visited Porthmellow, Bryony would have been sure to take issue with his theories on black holes. She lived in a small house not far from Wavecrest Cottage. Sam often heard Sacha barking from fifty metres away.

Spotting a rare gap in Bryony’s tirade, Sam dived in while she could. ‘Well, the festival does bring lots of people into the town who might not otherwise come. Local people and tour­ists and it’s put Porthmellow on the map as a foodie and arty haven.’

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Book Extract: The Stars in the Night by Clare Rhoden

A big lovely welcome to Clare Rhoden and the blog tour for her novel, The Stars in the Night. 

Harry Fletcher is a confident young man, sure that he will marry Nora, no matter what their families say. He will always protect Eddie, the boy his father saved from the gutters of Port Adelaide.

Only the War to End All Wars might get in the way of Harry’s plans…

From the beaches of Semaphore to the shores of Gallipoli, the mud of Flanders to the red dust of inland South Australia, this is a story of love, brotherhood, and resilience.

Clare has shared an extract today. 

 

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

January 1921

 

The unrelenting summer was mute with loneliness, brutal with drought. Neighbours dropped by now and then,or nodded to Nora at church. There was nothing new to say. There was no news,or only delayed bad news. Not even bad news was special now. They all chewed the remnants of a shared disaster like a flash flood, with tales of more destruction coming in belatedly from outlying areas.

Like a flood, war’s effects were unpredictable and astonishing. Great gaps in the congregation showed where places had been saved, places no one would ever fill. No shadow of that lad’s life on the land; no body and no grave. Swept from sight and sense, and only words left in his place, the same words going around over and over again till even the words died somewhere else, robbed of the life they once had. Nora often found her mind wandering when she should have been listening. A month had passed since her father had sailed back to England, shaking off the financial disaster of his failed war investments. Nora began to fear that her future, too, held only longing and loss. Time perhaps to think about another life. But as each week melted into the next, she put off any decision.

At dusk on the last day of January, as the last bloody rays of sun flooded the long drive, she stepped onto the verandah. The eucalypts along the fence looked like petrified coral. Red sky at night, shepherd’s delight. Shepherds must like hot weather. She waited. The trees exhaled, freshening the air. The first creaking whisper of coolness teased the dust on the grass. The earth seemed to stretch and yawn. Insects jabbered at the coming night.

Nora leaned on the post, aware of the turning of time. Then she saw him coming down the drive, the strap of his swag crosswise on his chest. A self-willed, obstinate, lone merino ram, pride and despair of the flock, returning from the hill paddock in his own good time. Shepherdess’s delight. She nearly shouted his name. The next moment she realised that the waiting was over, that the future was here, and it frightened her. But it was her time.

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Book Extract: I Love You Billy Langley by Monika Jephcott Thomas

Hello to Monika Jephcott Thomas and the blog tour for her latest novel, I Love You Billy Langley. 

Twenty-year-old Netta can’t wait to leave Germany and teach in Brighton, England. It’s the height of the swinging 60s, but Netta hasn’t bargained for the prejudice she’ll receive in a country full of anti-German sentiment just twenty years after the war.

She finds solace in Billy, the school caretaker, with whom she falls in love.

But when she takes him back to Germany at Christmas it’s Billy’s turn to be on the receiving end of a frosty welcome.

I have reviewed the novel but first, Monika has shared an extract. Enjoy. 

 

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

Netta Portner looked around her bedroom as if it were the last time she would ever see it. It wasn’t.

Not just yet. But she felt the need to capture everything in her memory now, before the chaos of leaving ensued and clouded everything. As she scanned the room she caught sight of herself in the mirror on the dressing table. She turned to face her reflection, smoothed down her dress, adjusted her glasses, and raised her chin in the confident manner she prayed she could adopt when she stood in front of a class of comprehensive school students next week in the south of England.

‘Here!’ Her mother came hurrying into the room, dumping three suitcases of various sizes onto the bed.

To Netta the hurrying and dumping seemed completely unnecessary and typically dramatic. For a split second Netta wondered if it was designed to mask a sadness at her imminent departure from the nest, but that notion was soon buried under her general irritation with her mother, which Netta had cultivated throughout her teenage years.

‘These served me well when I moved here from Kunzendorf,’ said her mother.

‘During the war? When you were pregnant with me?’ Netta asked, delighting in her albeit embryonic presence in the story her mother had regaled her with on many occasions – the story of an arduous journey all the way across a devastated Germany on its knees in the final months of the Second World War. Since then Netta had never been much farther from home than the north coast for family holidays.

‘Hm-mm!’ her mother sang her response as nonchalantly as she could. ‘So a little jaunt to England should present no issue for them.’

‘It’s hardly a little jaunt, Mama.’

‘Well it’s hardly a race across a vast nation being bombed mercilessly by the Allies either, is it?’ her mother said.

Netta seethed as she flipped open the lid of each case.

Her mother, hands on hips, looked around the room as if she had never seen it before. ‘At last I can give this room a damn good clean.’

Netta looked daggers at her mother’s back as she ran her finger along the chest of drawers and grimaced at the dust she found there.

‘Oh please, mother! When was the last time you cleaned anything?’

‘Well, I’ll get Emilia to do it. Chuck out all this rubbish too.’

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Book Extract: My Sister’s Lies by S.D. Robertson

I’m happy to welcome S.D. Robertson back to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for his new novel, My Sister’s Lies. 

For a decade, Hannah’s life has been pretty close to perfect – she has a great job, she’s married to Mark, and her child-free existence means she’s free as a bird. The only sadness in her life is a fall-out with her sister Diane, who hasn’t spoken to her in over ten years. But now Diane is on her doorstep – and this time, she’s got her teenage daughter Mia in tow.

When Diane asks if Mia can stay with Hannah and Mark for a few days, Hannah is glad of the chance to get to know her niece. But as the days turn into weeks and Diane doesn’t return, Hannah begins to worry. Why hasn’t her sister been in touch?

Diane is carrying a devastating secret that will destroy Hannah’s carefully constructed life. But how much is she willing to reveal – and when will she pick her moment?

 

S.D Robertson has shared an extract with us today. 

 

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

He was a stubborn man, Frank Wells, so she couldn’t imagine he would have breached his vow to reveal this one particular piece of news. While she could only assume he was the person who’d given Diane her address, this was no doubt with the intention that it might lead to their reconciliation.

As Hannah had lost herself for a moment in these thoughts, her guests had also kept quiet, leading to the first long, awkward silence of their visit. Suddenly aware of it and uncomfortable, she’d responded by taking the bull by the horns and attempting to get to the bottom of Diane’s shock return.

‘You said something before about needing to see me,’ she’d said, squeezing her palms together and raising her eyebrows. ‘That it was important?’

‘Yes, that’s right, but can we talk about it later?’ Diane had replied. ‘How’s Mark, by the way? He’s still at work, I assume.’

‘He’s fine, thank you. He should be home before too long.’

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Book Extract: Wildflower Park Part 3 – Oopsy Daisy by Bella Osborne

Yey, Bella is back. Welcome to Bella Osborne and the blog tour for Oopsy Daisy. This is part three of her four-part serial for Escape to Wildflower Park. 

Escape to Wildflower Park with Part Three of a brand new four-part serial from bestselling author Bella Osborne.

Life’s not always a walk in the park…

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 and Avon Books have shared an extract today. Enjoy. 

 

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

‘Who do these belong to?’ said a grinning Sophie, waving aloft a pair of men’s Spider-Man underpants as Anna dashed into the kitchen to avoid the downpour outside.

‘What?’ said Anna, glancing at the swinging underwear. She kicked off her heels and sighed with relief. It had been a very long day. She gave her toes a wriggle. Maurice was lying in the hall stretched out like a furry road bump.

‘Who is Mr …’ Sophie paused to study the label ‘… large?’ asked Sophie.

‘Who’s who?’ asked Anna, starting to feel a tiny bit irritated by the silly conversation and the stupid pants.

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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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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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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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