Quick Spotlight

Book Review: The Last Day of Winter by Shari Low

It’s a pleasure to be welcoming Shari Low back to Novel Kicks with the blog tour for her novel, The Last Day of Winter. 

One December wedding. One runaway bride. One winter’s day to bring everyone together again.

Today is the day Caro and Cammy are due to walk up the aisle. But Caro’s too caught up in the trauma of her past to contemplate their happy ever after.

Stacey’s decision to return from L.A. is fuelled by one thing – telling Cammy how she feels, before it’s too late.

Wedding planner, Josie, needs to sort the whole mess out, but she’s just been dealt some devastating news. Can she get through the day without spilling her secret?

On a chilly winter’s day, they have twenty-four hours to prove that love can lead the way to a brighter future…

 

The Last Day of Winter focuses on an ensemble of characters on a day just before Christmas. On the day Caro and Cammy are meant to go down the aisle, Caro’s past makes her doubt that this is her happy ever after.

The fate of the wedding is further put into question when Stacey returns to LA to tell Cammy how she feels about him.

Josie, the wedding planner needs to sort this out despite being given some devastating news.

Can love find its way within these 24 hours?

Shari, you made me cry again! I am not too proud to admit it either.

Oh, this novel.

First, the amazing characters. Each of them have their own, complicated feelings. All were developed well and nothing with any of them was black and white. Even where Caro is concerned, I felt enormous sympathy and empathy. This is a terrific ensemble of different personalities and they all fit together so well.

Plot wise, a lot is placed within the 24 hours in which it’s set but nothing feels rushed. The description of Glasgow sounds so incredible and it’s set at Christmas so it gave me all the early festive feels.

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Spotlight: Words & Kisses Subscription Box

Words & Kisses is a subscription service/online book club for people who like their books with happy endings.

I am a sucker for a happy ending. I am a proper romantic and I love subscription boxes so when I was approached by the lovely Amy at Words & Kisses about reviewing her book subscription box, she didn’t have to ask me twice.

My book arrived beautifully wrapped in pink tissue paper with a lovely note.

It was like Christmas had come early as I couldn’t help but tear the wrapping open to reveal the surprise inside.

I received The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai. One read of the description and it was clear the right choice had been made for me. It is a great way to discover novels you may not have read or picked up otherwise.

How it works is so simple. Visit wwww.wordsandkisses.com.

*Subscriptions are three months for £34.99, six months for £69.99 or a twelve month subscription for £139.00. Alternatively, you can pay a recurring monthly subscription of £11.99 if you want to try it out first. If you live in the UK, postage is included.

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Upcoming Novel Releases

Chatto & Windus, Sept ’19

Autumn is on its way (even though the weather can’t quite make up its mind.)

What this does mean is a great list of fantastic novel releases and here is my first list of the books I am looking forward to reading.

The first book on my list has already come out but it is one I am incredibly excited about. It’s one I’ve been waiting years for… The Testaments by Margaret Atwood.

Ever since I read the Handmaid’s Tale when I was sixteen, I have been wanting to know what happened next. The TV show has been great for that but there is something for me about a novel straight from the original author that makes it extra special. I am also interested to read it having had the perspective from the TV show and the continued development of the characters from that. I have heard such good things about this book.

Released on 10th September, The Testaments picks up fifteen years after the end of the first book, Gilead maintains its power but there are signs that it’s beginning to crumble from within. Three women’s lives converge with explosive results.

 

HarperCollins, Sept ’19

The second novel in the list is another book I have been waiting so long for and that is Postscript by Cecelia Ahern. I have been fortunate enough to get an advanced copy and I am planning on reviewing soon.

I adored PS I Love You and so the sequel had a lot to live up to. I wasn’t sure how it was going to work. The first one had such a unique plot. How was the story going to carry on?

I won’t say too much now about my thoughts at this stage but a summary of the plot is that Postscript starts seven years after the end of PS I Love You and six years after Gerry’s last letter.

A group contacts Holly. They call themselves the PS I Love You club and they are asking her for help. She begins a relationship with the group and is soon finding herself drawn back to the feelings she thought she had left behind.

It has been released today (19th September) so is available to read now.

 

A Patchwork Family: Taking Chances by Cathy Bramley is part three in a four-part serial and is due to be released on 3rd October.

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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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Cover Reveal: The Foyles Bookshop Girls at War by Elaine Roberts

Roberts_Elaine original_previewThe Foyles Bookshop Girls at War by Elaine Roberts is the second book in the Foyles Girls series.

I am excited to be part of the cover reveal for The Foyles Bookshop Girls at War. Here is a bit about it…

Swapping books for the bomb factory takes courage – and could be dangerous.

Working at the Foyles bookshop was Molly Cooper’s dream job. But with the country at war she’s determined to do her bit. So Molly gathers her courage, and sets off for the East End and her first day working at Silvertown munitions factory…

It’s hard manual labour, and Molly must face the trials and tribulations of being the ‘new girl’ at the munitions factory, as well as the relentless physical work. The happy-ever-afters Molly read about in the pages of her beloved books have been lost to the war. And yet the munitions girls unite through their sense of duty and friendships that blossom in the most unlikely of settings…

So, here is the cover. Ready?

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Book Extract: Through His Eyes by Emma Dibdin

Through His EyesA huge excited hello to Emma Dibdin. She joins me today with the blog tour for her new novel, Through His Eyes which is due to be released by Head of Zeus on 9th August. 

Jessica Harris is a struggling Hollywood reporter hungry for her big break. When her editor asks her to profile movie star Clark Conrad, Jessica is sure her luck is on the turn. Clark is an A-lister with access to everyone. If Jessica can impress him, she’s made it.

When she arrives at Clark’s mansion in the Hollywood Hills, he is just as she always imagined. Charming, handsome yet disarmingly vulnerable. But then things take a darker turn. Clark’s world is not as straightforward as it seems and Jessica’s puff piece soon becomes something much more delicate – and dangerous. As Jessica draws herself deeper into Clark’s inner circle, events begin to spiral out of her control.

 

Emma and Head of Zeus have kindly shared an extract with us today. Enjoy.

**************start of extract***************

 

A silence, as Jackie exchanges a glance with the features editor, and I clench my fists under the table. There’s no way they will actually give this to me. It’s way above my pay grade, way above my experience level. How has some veteran profile-writer not already swooped in to take this? An interview with Clark Conrad is like a unicorn sighting in the world of movie journalism, for anyone, even for people who haven’t idolized him since puberty.

‘I’m not sure we should—’ the features editor whose name I can never remember begins, then cuts herself off. ‘Maybe we hold off on making a call on the writer. I have a couple of freelancers I’d like to run it past.’

‘We’re really down to the wire on this,’ Justin says. ‘How fast can you get a freelancer onboard?’

‘I’m a little confused as to why we still don’t have a writer assigned,’ says Jackie softly. She is the kind of woman who never raises her voice, never needs to, because people lean in to catch every word. She turns to the features editor. ‘Eleanor, could you clear this up for me?’

‘We had Jim Rothman assigned, but he pulled out when we told him about all the restrictions on questions, and it’s been hard to—’

‘Okay,’ Jackie interrupts. ‘I don’t need to hear excuses, I need a solution. The interview is happening this week,  yes?’

‘Friday,’ Justin confirms

‘All right, Jessica. Let’s give you a shot. Send your notes and your transcript to Eleanor when you’re done, and the two of you can work together on the angle. Do you have any clippings of similar pieces that you’ve done before, anything long-form? In case Clark’s rep asks.’

We both know that this has nothing to do with his rep. They want to vet me, and though there’s a part of me that bristles, I know they’re right to do so. I’m a nobody being handed an absurdly huge assignment.

‘Definitely. I can send you some clips today. I’ve written interviews before.’ This is true, but only with studio executives, indie directors, the odd supporting actor. No one on the level of a Clark Conrad, not even close.

‘She’s a pro,’ Justin says. ‘You don’t need to worry, she’s way overdue for an assignment like this.’I glance gratefully at him.

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Quick Spotlight: The Potter Magic of Magic Alley

Magic Alley LogoIf you’ve been following my blog for a while you will have picked up that I am incredibly obsessed with Harry Potter. Even now, years later, it’s the book series I will go to if I need to escape into a fictional world to make myself feel better. I am in Ravenclaw according to Pottermore.

So, when I was lucky enough to be contacted by the lovely Nathan at MagicAlley.co.uk, I jumped at the chance to pick a couple of items.

Nathan’s love for the Harry Potter books began in 2000 when his brother brought The Goblet of Fire. Like me, Nathan quickly realised that he’d devoured the first three novels and thus began his love of this magical series.

MCM-London-Magic-Alley-Harry-Potter-1Nathan began Magic Alley in 2015 and as you’ve probably gathered by now, it is a store completely focused on the boy wizard and the wizarding world in which he inhabits and that J.K Rowling created.

There is a really good variety of products including ones that are unique and maybe not available in many other places in the UK.

Things available include wands, tote bags, necklaces, watches, chocolate frogs and charm bracelets. There are also house specific items too such as scarfs and ties.

Harry-Potter-Muggle-Studies-Cotton-Tote-Bag-Shopper-Half-Moon-Bay Harry-Potter-Wand-Noble-Collection-Ollivanders-Studio-TourThe items Nathan sells are sourced from the same distributors that work in partnership with Warner Bros. so you know the products are going to be legitimate which is quite an important thing for me.

OK, so when the items arrived on my doormat, it was a little bit like Christmas day as I ripped open the envelope.

The first item I wanted to review was this Harry Potter Feather Quill Necklace.

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Upcoming Books Releases: May

the burning chambersHello May. 

I am not entirely sure how we’re already in May. The weather doesn’t help. It’s very confused right. To help escape this weather or enjoy basking in the sunshine (I can hope,) the list below is a few of the new releases coming this month.

 

The first book I want to feature is The Burning Chambers which is the new book from Kate Mosse. I haven’t read any of her books (and I am not sure why,) but this book is a great reason to start. 

Carcassonne 1562: Nineteen-year-old Minou Joubert receives an anonymous letter at her father’s bookshop. Sealed with a distinctive family crest, it contains just five words: SHE KNOWS THAT YOU LIVE.

But before Minou can decipher the mysterious message, a chance encounter with a young Huguenot convert, Piet Reydon, changes her destiny forever. For Piet has a dangerous mission of his own, and he will need Minou’s help if he is to get out of La Cité alive.

Toulouse: As the religious divide deepens in the Midi, and old friends become enemies, Minou and Piet both find themselves trapped in Toulouse, facing new dangers as sectarian tensions ignite across the city, the battle-lines are drawn in blood and the conspiracy darkens further.

Meanwhile, as a long-hidden document threatens to resurface, the mistress of Puivert is obsessed with uncovering its secret and strengthening her power . . .

(Released 3rd May by Mantle.) 

 

the castThe second upcoming release on my list is The Cast by Danielle Steel. It is due to be released by Macmillan on 31st May. 

Kait Whittier has built her magazine column into a hugely respected read followed by fans across the country. She loves her work and adores her grown children, treasuring the time they spend together. But after two marriages, she prefers to avoid the complications and uncertainties of a new love.

Then, after a chance meeting with television producer Zack Winter, everything changes. Inspired by the true story of her own grandmother, Kait creates the storyline for a TV series. Within weeks, Kait is plunged into a colourful, star-studded world of actors and industry pros who will bring her vision to life, from the reclusive grand dame to LA’s hottest bad boy actor.

As secrets are shared and revelations come to light, friendships deepen. But in the midst of this charmed year, Kait is forced to confront the greatest challenge a mother could ever know and this unforgettable cast becomes more important to her than she ever could have imagined.

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Book Extract & Review – Part Two of the Ottercombe Bay Series by Bella Osborne

Ottercombe Bay Part 2A lovely big hello to Bella Osborne who is returning to the blog today with the blog tour for Ottercombe Bay: Gin and Trouble, part two in a four-part serialisation. 

Daisy Wickens has returned to Ottercombe Bay, the picturesque Devon town where her mother died when she was a girl. She plans to leave as soon as her great uncle’s funeral is over, but Great Uncle Reg had other ideas. He’s left Daisy a significant inheritance – an old building in a state of disrepair, which could offer exciting possibilities, but to get it she must stay in Ottercombe Bay for twelve whole months.

With the help of a cast of quirky locals, a few gin cocktails and a black pug with plenty of attitude, Daisy might just turn this into something special. But can she ever hope to be happy among the ghosts of her past?

To celebrate the release of Gin and Trouble, Bella and Avon have shared an extract. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. 

 

**** Start of Extract.****

Jason was turning out to be a useful person to know. As the local bobby, everyone knew him and therefore he had a wide network he could tap into, particularly as he had a colleague with an uncle working in the local planning department. After a warm-up phone call from Jason he was happy to meet Daisy for a chat. She had made an effort, steered clear of both espresso and Bug’s furry patch on the sofa, and she felt ready for her meeting.

An older-looking gent with thinning hair and thick glasses collected her from the waiting area at the council offices and they did introductions.

‘Thanks for meeting me,’ said Daisy, starting to feel a little less prepared as she followed him into an office and saw a mountain of paper on his desk.

‘No problem but you will need to submit a formal application through the proper process. Anything discussed here today does not in any way constitute agreement of any changes to the property or land we are discussing. I hope you appreciate this?’

Daisy swallowed hard. With formal wording like that he would get on well with Great Uncle Reg’s solicitor. She hadn’t even suggested anything yet and she was being told off. ‘Yes, of course. I’m just looking for guidance. Some ballpark areas that may be worth exploring.’

‘This is the last application we received for the property,’ said the planning officer, passing Daisy a pile of papers. She had a quick flick through and spotted some blueprints – it looked like her grandfather had taken the whole thing seriously and spent some money in the process.

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Book Review: Ivy & Abe by Elizabeth Enfield

Ivy & AbeIvy and Abe were inseparable as children until an accident tore them apart. Several decades later, when both are in their seventies, a chance encounter reunites them. But time is not on their side.

What if they’d met in a different time and place?

In another life, Ivy and Abe meet in their forties, when both are married already. Unable to resist the attraction between them, they embark on a passionate affair.

In yet another, they marry young, with a bright future ahead of them – only for a dark shadow to threaten their happiness.

Throughout various incarnations of their lives, they come together and go their separate ways, fall in and out of love, make or break promises.

In every universe, Ivy and Abe are meant to meet. But are they meant to be?

Ivy & Abe is the story of this couple who can only be described as soul mates. This book focuses on these people in a series of parallel universes. At the beginning of the book, they are in their seventies having not seen one another since children. In another, they are married with children whilst in another they barely meet for five minutes.

In each one, it was interesting for me to see how they interact with one another and how there are common themes and events that tie these universes together. How, in whatever version, certain things will happen regardless of what comes before and after.

Also, it was compelling how two people who are so destined to be together are capable of hurting one another so much. This was a bittersweet aspect. Continue reading

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Cover and Chapter Reveal: The Things We Need To Say by Rachel Burton

Rachel BurtonIt’s a very good day here at Novel Kicks. I was very happy when I was asked to take part in an exciting cover and first chapter reveal for The Things We Need To Say which is the upcoming release from Rachel Burton.

Sometimes the things we never say are the most important.

Fran loves Will with all her heart. They had a whirlwind romance, a perfect marriage and a wonderful life. Until everything changed. Now Fran needs to find her way again and teaching a yoga retreat in Spain offers her just that. Leaving behind a broken marriage she has some very important decisions to make.

Will needs his wife, he needs her to open up to him if they’re to ever return to the ways things once were. But he may have damaged any possibility he had of mending their relationship and now Fran is in Spain and Will is alone.

As both Fran and Will begin to let go of a life that could have been, fate may just find a way of bringing them back together.

OK, first, the cover. Drumroll…….

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February’s Novel Kicks Book Club: Dream a Little Dream by Giovanna Fletcher

dream a little dream

Penguin, June 2015

Well hello to you February. It’s good to see you.

I don’t know about you but I found January seemed to go on forever!

February is finally here. I always feel that February is quite a romantic month because of Valentine’s Day.

This month, I have chosen a book that has romance galore and it’s Dream a Little Dream by Giovanna Fletcher. Even the cover is romantic. Aww, I love it.

Sarah is doing just fine. Sure she’s been single for the last five years, and has to spend an uncomfortable amount of time around her ex-boyfriend, his perfect new girlfriend and all their mutual friends. And yes, her job as a PA to one of the most disgusting men in London is mind-numbingly tedious and her career is a constant disappointment to her mother. But it’s really okay. She’s happy (ish).

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Book Releases: January Book Haul

After the snowBooks, books and books.

That’s what I love about January. It is a brand new year, a brand new reading challenge and lovely new books to discover. I have brought and received some great books over the past few weeks and I thought it was about time I did another book haul. So here we go.

After The Snow by Susan Constantine. (HQ, 2nd November 2017.)

I am very intrigued by this debut fiction novel by TV presenter, Susannah Constantine. I got sent this just before Christmas. The cover is all festive and beautiful. I love it. I know we’ve past Christmas but this book sounds so interesting.

Esme only wants one thing for Christmas. She wants her Mum to be on one of her good days. When she finds some wet towels and dirty plates in her stocking, she’s happy that Father Christmas remembered to stop by at all.

Later that day, Esme’s mother disappears and only one person seems to know where she is. Esme soon realises that life will never be the same after the snow.

 

The Cactus by Sarah Harwood.

(Released by Two Roads, 25th January 2018.)

I received this book from the publisher a few days ago. The cover includes embossed writing and a rose gold spine and it’s just  beautiful. It’s one of those books you’ll want to permanently display on your bookshelf.

The CactusThis book has been compared to Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and the main character Susan has been likened to Don Tillman from Graeme Simsion’s The Rosie Project and I will always have a huge soft spot for Don Tillman.

This debut novel focuses on Susan Green. People are not sure what to make of Susan. She makes sense to herself and to her, that’s all that matters. She has a London flat, a job she loves and a more personal arrangement providing cultural and more intimate benefits.

At forty-five, she thinks her life is perfect provided she avoids her brother, Edward.

When she’s faced with some life changing events though, she realises she’s loosing control. When she has to prove something about her brother, she finds help in the most unlikely of places.

 

Twelve Nights by Andrew Zurcher.

(Due to be released by Puffin, 5th April 2018.)

The cover designers are really out-doing themselves at the moment. I got sent this novel and from the moment this stunning book twelve nightsarrived wrapped in pretty paper, I wanted to read it and I look forward to doing so.

The premise of this novel seems so interesting too and completely up my street.

Kay and Eloise’s father is working late. Fed up with his absence, their mother bundles them into the car and drives to her husband’s Cambridge College to collect him. When they arrive, the staff claim no-one by his name has ever worked there.

Instead of anger, her mother’s reaction of silent tears confuses Kay. There is also a strange card waiting on the pillow when they get home.

Kay is then woken by voices outside her window. Voices belonging to something she shouldn’t be able to see…. but she can.

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The Princess Bride is 30! Book vs. Film

Princess_Bride_DVD_2D_StickerCould it really be possible that The Princess Bride movie is thirty this year? A staple of my childhood memories, I used to love watching this film. Many a time I would quote lines from the movie. Even now, as I reach my late 30’s, it still remains one of my top films.

OK, so it is a little cheesy but it’s brilliant.

Before I go on, I feel I do have to give a spoiler alert.

The cast is amazing. Of course, I can’t see Cary Elwes without also shouting ‘because unlike other Robin Hoods, I can speak with an English accent,’ as well as quotes from this film.

Mandy Pitinkin (Homeland) steals the movie with his turn as Inigo Montoya.

I remember always being a little fascinated by Andre The Giant.

Peter Falk (seriously, Colombo,) and Fred Savage who was well-known at the time for the Wonder Years. There were so many brilliant people in this movie.

I also can’t believe that this is the film that ‘introduced’ Robin Wright who is of course now kicking TV butt in House of Cards.

PrincessBride2The film has a whimsical feel to it that I loved even as a kid. Westley and Buttercup’s relationship was so romantic. I loved it. It had the sword fights yes but I adored it for the romance.

The movie is incredibly funny too. I watched it for the first time in a while and I still find it as comical as I did the first time I watched it.

When I think about my favourite element of it though, it has to be the quotable lines.

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Book Extract: Sun, Sea & Sex by Greta Horwood

Sun Sea Sex CoverA big hello to author Greta Horwood and the blog tour for her novel, Sun, Sea & Sex which was released by Author House UK in August. 

About Sun, Sea & Sex:

The book tells of the trials and tribulations of Zeeta, who has overcome many obstacles and survived different relationships. A loving marriage led to a horrendous one. Her second marriage was to a man with a depraved sexual appetite.

The sunny parts were when everything was going well. There were choppy seas between when things were not going right, not just in a relationship but in general life.

Also there were times when the sea was calm and all three women were coping well. The sex within relationships was, in the most part, good to excellent. In Zeeta’s second marriage, sex was a nightmare.

She endured and suffered.

Happy ever after on a Caribbean island. Zeeta survived with the help of two friends—one from her school days, Sheila, and the second one was Peggy, her boss and a very good friend. Their relationships and stories are part of this book.

 

Greta has very kindly shared an extract from Sun, Sea & Sex with us today. Here’s a brief introduction to the scene; 

Zeeta was at college, a new life full of new experiences.  A chance accident where Zeeta was pushed to the floor, by a revolving door, led to an unlikely friendship with an Arabian Prince, Armaan.  He was to advise her about men and gave her a sex education without the actions.  Her time with Armaan left her wanting more, but she did not know what more meant.  Being kissed by Armaan led to more feelings of wanting more.  It left Zeeta confused.  He abruptly stopped his kissing, that led to more confusion, he was pushing her away.  Zeeta could not understand, she loved him, but having no experience of love, she could only guess the feelings she had were love.

Armaan appears throughout the book, during other relationships.  Meeting him at these other times, Zeeta knew she loved and wanted him.

The Extract….

(Warning: Adult content.)

Armaan was back.  I can’t explain my feelings in seeing him.  I was overwhelmed by them.  Yes I missed him, but what I was feeling was more than that.  We continued with our easy friendship and he said he was delighted to be back.  He was now married and his wife was expecting their first child.  He was a different person now, I think the worry of not having a wife was bothering him, but now he was married, life had suddenly became enjoyable.  He said he enjoyed my company and although he was 14 years older than me, I was not empty headed like the gigglers.  We continued our friendship and I often felt he was preparing me for the life I would eventually lead.  He said my blue eyes and personality would attract many man, but I would know who was right for me.  He said beware of false promises, men will say they love, but often it is a way to easy sex, so beware of false promises.

He said he had stones cast for my future and these foretold of a happy life with two children.  He said choose a husband older than myself, he would be considerate.  That happened my husband was  older than me and he was considerate.

We had many of these talks, he was the perfect gentleman and I loved him.  Well I thought these feelings I had for him were love, I had never felt like this.  I had limited experience, but hoped the feelings I was having, were love, they were very pleasant.

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