I’m excited to be welcoming Claudia Carroll (best-selling author and all round lovely lady,) back to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her new book, All She Ever Wished For which was released by Avon on 6th October.
Marriage. It’s a dream come true. Isn’t it?
One wet winter night, two women meet on a bridge. One is Tess Taylor, a personal trainer on the way to meet her boyfriend for date night. The other is Kate King, a celebrity married to a handsome billionaire who just happens to make her cry. In the cold dark evening, there is nothing to link them together but the bridge they shiver on. Little do they know they’ll both hold the key to each other’s future marriage…
All She Ever Wished For tells the story of what happens when your dream is about to come true. And what happens when that dream turns into a bit of a nightmare…
Thanks to Claudia and the lovely people at Avon, I have an extract from All She Ever Wished For to share with you. Enjoy!
‘The main thing is not to panic,’ says Bernard, my hubby-to-be, when I call to fill him in on what’s just happened, my imminent heart attack, etc.
‘Try not to panic?’ I say, doing the exact polar opposite. ‘Bernard, I’ve just been summoned for jury service, bloody jury service and you’re telling me not to panic?’
I consult the now half-scrunched letter in my hand for about the thousandth time today. ‘Here it is in cold, hard print. I’ve got to be at the Criminal Courts of Justice at 9 a.m. this coming Monday morning. So forgive me for panicking when this lands on me less than a month and counting before D-Day! Do you realise how much there’s still left to do?’
It’s a rhetorical question; of course Bernard hasn’t the first clue what’s left to do. After all, he’s a forty-three-year-old heterosexual male. What the hell does he know about weddingy floral centrepieces or alternate menu choices for coeliac lacto-ovo vegetarians?
‘Now I strongly suggest you stay calm dearest,’ Bernard says patiently. ‘All this panic is getting you nowhere.
A nice cup of tea, that’ll soon set you to rights.’
Bernard, it has to be said, thinks that there’s no drama in this life that can’t be instantly righted with a cup of Clipper gold blend.
‘The thing you have to understand,’ I sigh, regrouping and trying my best to keep cool, ‘is that with a wedding like this, there’s a whole clatter of stuff that you can only leave till these last, precious few weeks. So there’s no way in hell I can handle something as huge as jury service right now. Besides, I’ve got my family and pals all roped into helping me out before the big day, how could I possibly just skive off to court and leave them to do all the heavy lifting for me?’
‘Well, I’m sure they’d be most understanding, under the circumstances—’
‘No, I can’t do it, Bernard, it just isn’t right. I won’t do it to my friends and I certainly wouldn’t put my family through that. I need to be here working around the clock along with everyone else, that’s all there is to it.
After all, we’re talking our dream wedding here.’
‘I suggest you just try to put this whole thing into perspective,’ he says calmly. ‘Remember, it’s nothing personal. Being summoned for jury service can happen to any of us, at any time.’
‘I know, but I’ve got my whole life ahead of me to deal with stuff like this! Why does it have to be right now? Landing on me out of a clear blue sky?’
‘Such a pity you don’t live in the UK,’ Bernard muses calmly. ‘Because over there, you know, you’re allowed to turn down jury service twice and only on the third time are you obliged to serve.’
‘But, sweetheart, I don’t live in the UK. It’s totally different here; if you’re summoned, you’ve got to turn up, simple as that. And you know the nightmare I had at work trying to get time off – I can’t have all that precious time eaten into with this crapology.’
‘Now there’s absolutely no need for neologism,’ he chides gently, and it’s all I can do to bite my tongue and ask him to stop using words I don’t understand. ‘The critical thing is to remember that this is how our judicial system works. That’s how our democracy works.’
‘I already know all of that, but the thing is, how am I supposed to get out of it?’
‘In fact, did I ever tell you about the time I was summoned just a few months before I was due to take my doctorate?’ he chats away, sounding perfectly relaxed about this, oblivious to the rising note of hysteria in my voice. ‘I still had reams of research to do on the painting technique of the seventeenth-century Dutch Masters, with particular refer¬ence to Vermeer, which as you know is a highly contentious subject which needs a plethora of astute writing, not to mention the most forensic editing—’
‘Eh, no offence, but can we just get back to the point?’
No rudeness intended in cutting across him, but when Bernard gets going on either Vermeer or Rembrandt, you could be on the phone all night.
‘Sorry, sausage. But just remember that when it comes to court service, just because you’ve been summoned, it doesn’t necessarily follow that you’ll be selected.’
‘What do you mean?’
‘Well, both the Prosecution and Defence have the perfect right to turn down any proposed juror on the slightest pretext, you know.’
‘So all I have to do is turn up at the courts, hang around for a bit and then maybe I’ll just be discharged at the end of the day?’ I ask hopefully, for the first time since that bloody letter landed on me this morning, seeing a sudden glint of light in this nightmare. Could he possibly be right? Is that all there is to it? After all, if all this jury service malarkey takes no more than a single day out of my schedule, then maybe – just maybe – all is not lost.
‘Better than that, sausage,’ Bernard chats on. ‘Fact is, there are a whole myriad of reasons why you can plead ineligibility to serve. So go online, check them all out and remember, at all costs, nil desperandum. Now I’ve really got to dash, I’m afraid. I’ve got a tutorial with my MA students at 2 p.m., so I’ll call you later. That alright with you, dearest?’
‘Of course it is,’ I smile, for the first time all day starting to feel the tight constraint that’s been around my chest actually start to loosen a little.
You see? This is why I love Bernard. This is why he and I make the perfect couple. This is why we work, no matter what anyone says. And believe me, in the run-up to this wedding, they’ve pretty much said it all. At stressed-out times like this, I can always rely on him to be the sober yang to my slightly more highly strung ying. Even if I haven’t the foggiest what his Latin reference meant.
Claudia Carroll was born in Dublin and has worked as an actress (Nicola Prendergast in the Irish soap, Fair City,) as well as a best-selling author.
Her previous novels include Love Me Or Leave Me, Me & You and Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?
Her new novel, All She Ever Wished For was released on 6th October 2016 and is now available in paperback and electronically across the UK.
The tour continues tomorrow over at Bookaholic Confessions: https://bookaholicconfessions.wordpress.com