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Book Extract: Love Me Like You Do by Aimee Brown

A lovely hello to Aimee Brown. She’s here with the blog tour for her new novel, Love Me Like You Do. 

A runaway bride. A handsome stranger. Two pasts to put behind them.

Parker is ready to marry the man of her dreams. But he isn’t ready to marry her. It would be helpful if he didn’t choose their wedding day to tell her this. But as she flees from the travesty behind her, she literally runs into the arms of a handsome stranger. The southern drawl, the dreamy eyes, she can’t fall for another man after being left at the altar – can she?

When Liam agreed to go to go on a date he didn’t expect to leave with the bride. Nor did he expect to take her the emergency room. Immediately he’s drawn to her fiery spirit, her kind heart and beautiful smile. Liam’s got a whole host of problems and a past that keeps coming back, now can’t be the time to fall in love, but Parker might just be the one to break down his barriers and let him live a little – if she’ll let him in.

Will these two strangers allow serendipity to put them together, or will their fears keep them apart?

 

Aimee and Aria has shared an extract with us today. Enjoy! 

 

 

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

 

‘He’s a stranger to me.’ She pleads her case while the nurse adjusts her pants. ‘We just met an hour ago and I don’t even remember his name.’

I raise a single eyebrow as I look over at her.

She pinches her lips together as she rolls her eyes. ‘OK fine, I remember his name, Liam, but I don’t know him. I swearit. We weren’t having sex. I just got dumped for Christ’s sake!’

‘Let’s go to x-ray,’ the nurse says avoiding the subject entirely. Her face is blank and it would appear that she’s tucked her emotions away and they aren’t coming out even for the girl who walked in wearing a wedding dress.

When Parker comes back into the room from having her x-rays, she sits on the bed, her feet now in her incredibly high heels dangling over the side of the bed. I laugh to myself at the ridiculousness of her new outfit.

‘What?’ she asks sharply.

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Blog Blitz: A Stargazy Night Sky by Laura Briggs

I am so happy to be welcoming Laura Briggs back to Novel Kicks. Today, I am taking part in the one day blog blitz for her novel, A Stargazy Night Sky, the seventh book in her Little Hotel in Cornwall series. 

Starry autumn nights are bringing a rare celestial event and exciting new guests to the shores of the sleepy hotel Penmarrow.

Maisie is happy to be back among its staff, even with the question of its future ownership still in the air and the fate of her unpublished manuscript soon to be in the hands of London acquisitions editors. More than anything else, she’s happy to finally be in a relationship with Sidney Daniels, the sparks between them no longer denied. She’s excited for the future and things couldn’t be better with regards to romance … except for those lingering little questions about Sidney’s uncertain past, that is.

Meanwhile, the staff at the Penmarrow is tasked with hosting a special celestial conference where stargazers are gathering for a glimpse of the much-anticipated comet. The ever-timid maid Molly is flustered by the return of charming astronomer George and seems to need a little advice on how to rekindle the spark they shared last autumn. Hotel porters Gomez and Riley vie for the attentions of a mysterious female guest, the eccentric ‘Megs’ Buntly pays another visit, and a dramatic revelation about someone on staff will leave Maisie and everyone else reeling from the unexpected news. Is this the moment for the revelation Maisie has been waiting for since her Cornish journey began?

 

Laura has shared an extract with us today so get comfortable, grab that hot drink and enjoy. 

 

 

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

 

Thanks so much to Laura for this opportunity to share an extract from my Cornish romance read A Stargazy Night Sky. It is the seventh book in my series about amateur novelist Maisie Clark, who stumbles into romance, secrets, and adventure while working as a chambermaid at the seaside hotel Penmarrow. The following extract finds Maisie and the rest of the staff preparing for the hotel’s next big event.

 

Autumn had brought the last busy wave of tourists washing into the Penmarrow’s hilltop harbor, and business continued as usual. Only Brigette, with her usual busy and somewhat bossy powers bestowed by the last chief housekeeper’s departure, had reversed course and was having her autumn leaf garlands and harvest centerpieces stripped from the dining room today.

“Do we have to take them all down?”  Molly asked. “It looks so nice. Guests have complimented it.” Her brow wrinkled. A few fake berries fell from the window’s garland strand and she collected them and put them in the pocket of her maid’s apron, where today’s crossword puzzle was also concealed.

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Book Extract: Miss Smith Commits the Perfect Crime? By Guy Rolands

I am very pleased to be welcoming Guy Rolands to Novel Kicks today and the blog tour for his novel, Miss Smith Commits the Perfect Crime? 

Recovering from a brutal attack where she was savagely raped, university student Sam Smith attempts to rebuild her life and overcome the ongoing effects of her ordeal. Her ultimate goal is to bring her assailant to justice, but before she can do so her life and loves take a series of intriguing turns as she continues her sometimes unconventional education.

Eventually she is able to identify her attacker and decides to exact retribution in her own particular style, but during her preparations Sam becomes aware that her every move is being tracked by a mysterious organisation. To avoid detection by the police and also her hidden watchers, Sam Smith attempts to commit the perfect crime. However in the aftermath of her vigilante action events change rapidly to bring about a most unexpected outcome.

Miss Smith Commits the Perfect Crime? is the first book in the Sam Smith Adventure Series and can be read as a standalone.

 

I have an extract from Miss Smith Commits the Perfect Crime? for you today with an introduction from the author himself. So, over to you, Guy. 

(Language warning.) 

 

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

 

Rather oddly for a father, I am following in my daughter’s footsteps. Having given up the day-job, I am now able to spend my life in full-time writing. My daughter, the author Jules Wake, has been doing this rather successfully for years. I may have taught her to write and read, but as she was only four at the time, sadly, I cannot claim to have influenced her writing style or prowess. Never-the-less, she is an excellent role model in that she achieves her two thousand words every single day and publishes around three books every year.

My first book, Miss Smith Commits the Perfect Crime, could be described as “a coming of age” novel, in that it chronicles a girl’s journey during her university years to womanhood. At the same time, since the police are unable the catch the serial murderer that savagely raped her, Sam Smith embarks on a quest to track the man down. Wanting to exact a unique form of retribution, she finds she has to commit the perfect crime.

I suppose one of my main literary influences would be Stig Larsson with his Millenium trilogy. The grungy anti-social heroine, Lisabeth Salander, drives a compelling story. While I greatly admire Larsson’s work, my heroine, Sam Smith, is more clean-cut and socially aware, perhaps influenced by my love of Ian Fleming’s original Bond books. Don’t get the idea that my heroine is without her quirks. I once described her as the literary love-child of Ian Fleming and Janet Ivanovich, which this extract illustrates.

 

Sam was about to get in the car when Nick stopped her.

‘Hold it, Sam. No way are you getting into my car covered in pig shit.’

‘What am I supposed to do? Walk home?’

‘You can get that filthy tracksuit off and those trainers for a start.’

‘I’ve only got my bra and pants on underneath.’

‘That’s fine, I promise I won’t look.’

‘That’s nice of you,’ Sam said sarcastically peeling off her stinking clothes and dumping them in the ditch, ‘but I’m bloody freezing.’

‘I’ll put the heater on. You’ll be fine.’

‘You really are all heart. At this moment in time, I wish I’d never met you.’

 

At four o’clock in the morning after a journey where Sam had remained stony silent, they arrived back at Nick’s flat. As they came up in the lift from the underground car park, she was still barefoot and wearing just her disgusting undies. Fortunately, at that early hour, none of the other residents was up and about, so they had not been spotted. On entering the brightly lit entrance hall, Nick couldn’t help but grin when he saw the state of her. The urchin, with her filthy face and splodges of muck plastered in her hair, would be hard to recognize as the attractive woman he had left with earlier.

Sam was not amused. ‘Take that smile off your face and don’t speak to me, you bastard. It’s not funny. You told me I could simply stroll through the fields to get to the pig. It was more like a military obstacle course, and I’ve been shot at. I thought being “up to the neck in muck and bullets” was a joke. Well, let me tell you, it bloody well isn’t. Just get me a stiff drink.’

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Novel Kicks Book Club: The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

September’s book is one I am very excited about. 

This month, I have picked a novel that I have been wanting to read since it was released. The premise intrigues me and I can’t wait to read.

I have chosen The Midnight Library by Matt Haig. 

As usual, I have posted a question below to start of the discussion. Anyone can take part in our book club and it’s from that comfortable sofa of yours. I am looking forward to discussing this book with you in the comments.

 

About The Midnight Library…

When Nora Seed finds herself in the Midnight Library, she has a chance to make things right. Up until now, her life has been full of misery and regret. She feels she has let everyone down, including herself. But things are about to change.

The books in the Midnight Library enable Nora to live as if she had done things differently. With the help of an old friend, she can now undo every one of her regrets as she tries to work out her perfect life. But things aren’t always what she imagined they’d be, and soon her choices place the library and herself in extreme danger.

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Book Extract: One Hundred Views of NW3 by Pat Jourdan

It’s my pleasure to be taking part in the one day blog blitz for One Hundred Views of NW3 by Pat Jourdan.

Arriving in London with £5, Stella rapidly begins hopping from one disastrous job, bedsit and boyfriend to another.

All the time she is trying to paint pictures and write poetry. At last she gets a place in Hampstead but various men distract her from reaching the goal of holding an exhibition. An ever-changing group of friends moves her along from place to place.

After each drawback Stela moves on, disaster after disaster, while the tally of of pictures shrinks to 36. Set in the heady days of 1960s Swinging London, this vividly charts one girl’s track through the untidy years at its height.

 

Pat has shared an extract today so find that comfortable spot to sit, grab that drink and enjoy.

 

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

The group of Liverpool friends are excited when someone they knew back home appears as a sculptor, with an exhibition in a proper London gallery. However, he gets drunk and destroys his own show.

*****

Gloria called round. She was excited – Fred was in town.

“He’s having an exhibition, and we’re invited to the private view. Remember him?” This was the life Stella wanted, after all, one private view after another. Harry would meet them at the gallery straight from work, it was not far from St Martin’s College of Art.

Glasses of red and white wine were being offered as if from a fountain and Fred had indulged happily and was obviously already drunk. He was glad to see them and introduced them to his girlfriend, Anna. She was at least half his age, almost as tall and blonde. She assured Stella that she was going to be an art critic, that was her plan.

A beautiful Spanish man with soulful dark eyes and his equally good-looking boyfriend decided to buy one of the sculptures.

“We don’t quite understand that piece, though. Why is it called ‘Soldat’?” He pointed to a small brass coal scuttle standing under a spotlight.

“Soldat? It’s German for Soldier. It’s a German helmet! Thought that would be obvious!” Fred said brusquely, dismissing the questioner. However, the man moved away to a crucifixion piece and decided after a confab with his companion to buy it instead. It was a representation of Calvary made from three forks set into a block of wood. The forks’ tines had been pressed apart to form the arms of the crosses and the figures of Christ and the two thieves were made from spilt solder, splashed silver ghostly figures that appeared if the onlooker used their imagination.

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Book Extract: A Perfect Paris Christmas by Mandy Baggot

It’s lovely to be welcoming back Mandy Baggot to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her latest book, A Perfect Paris Christmas.  

United in grief. Pushed apart by tragedy.

Keeley Andrews knows more than anyone that you only live once. So when she receives an invitation to spend two weeks in Paris, all expenses paid, she jumps at the chance.

Ethan Bouchard has had the worst eighteen months of his life. He’s ready to give up on everything, including his hotel chain. So when he meets Keeley, it simply isn’t the right time.

As Keeley and Ethan continue to bump into each other on the romantic Parisian streets, they can’t help but wonder whether this is fate telling them to let go of the past and leap into the future…

 

Mandy and Aria have shared an extract today so grab that drink, a comfortable chair and chocolate. You could even sneak a couple of Christmas songs and enjoy. 

 

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

 

November

‘Duncan, not that awful disco ball of your mother’s again! Please, I beg of you. Last year it gave Lydia Mumford some sort of aura migraine before I’d even served the Waitrose arancini,’ Lizzie Andrews said, raising her eyes and glaring at her husband who was stood precariously at the top of a stepladder. He was about to fix the large revolving silver sphere to a hook above the kitchen island where, on the hob, something containing cranberries was simmering.

Twenty-six-year-old Keeley hid her face in her mug of super-hot, extra-strong coffee and tried to stop a laugh from escaping her lips. Her parents’ conversation over her long-since-passed-away gran’s festive regalia had been treading the same path since the decorations had been left to them in the will. Her mum had always insisted it was because the old lady never liked her.

Joan loathed me. Loathed me, Duncan. Right from the get-go. Ever since the first time I came to your house with peonies for her and she shoved them in an empty tin of Heinz beans as a vase. That was when the die was cast.

But Keeley liked the decorations. None of them matched together – there were vibrant purples and emerald-greens alongside 1980s-style robots swinging on bunting and Chinese paper lanterns that probably should have caught alight long ago. At first glance, they might not seem to correlate, but somehow they worked. Her sister, Bea, had loved them too. Bea would always be fighting their dad for use of the ladder, having somehow actually worked out complicated things about balance, or the optimum angle to enable the globe to spin in a completely symmetrical way that would please Lizzie’s need for order. Bea had always plunged into things with full-on gusto but never without the knowhow to back it up.

Thoughts of her little sister made Keeley’s heart squeeze and she took another sip of the coffee before the toaster popped with the crumpet she was cooking.

Lizzie shook her brown curly hair and sniffed, nose in the air like a prized perfumier. She dropped the pinecones she was painting to the newspaper-covered work surface. ‘What’s that smell?’

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Book News: RNA Joan Hessayon Award 2020

The winner of the Romantic Novelists’ Associations’ Joan Hessayon Award is due to be announced tomorrow (5th September 2020) via an online presentation. 

The contenders for this award are published authors who have passed through the RNA’s New Writers’ Scheme (as a member of this scheme myself, I can’t recommend it enough.) If you’d like more information on the scheme, click here.

There is a wonderful selection in this year’s shortlist from romantic comedies, to fairytale romance, to both historical and paranormal romance.

The Joan Hessayon Award is generously sponsored by gardening expert Dr. David Hessayon OBE, in honour of his late wife, Joan, who was a longstanding member of the RNA and a great supporter of its New Writers’ Scheme.

The winner will be announced at 3pm on Saturday 5th September (for more details, click here or here.) I wanted to say good luck to everyone.

The writers shortlisted for the 2020 award have shared a little about their novels and what it means to them to be nominated. Some of them have also shared some writing tips with us.

 

Impervious by Zoe Allison

(Totally Bound). 

Vampires exist in secret. The malevolent of their kind exploit their powers to terrible ends and a league of benevolent vampires works covertly against them. Amber Ridley is unique as the only human on that team. She’s an ‘Impervious’, and immune to vampire attack. However, is Amber impervious to love?

Zoe said, “I am delighted to be in the running for this award alongside other fantastic authors. I’m also extremely grateful for the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s amazing New Writers’ Scheme which gives us all such an amazing opportunity.

My bottom line in writing advice is don’t be afraid to do things your way. Whether you’re a plotter, a pantster, or a plantster there’s no right or wrong way and we’re all different. When it comes to editing the best tip I’ve had is to read your work out loud. You’ll catch loads of errors with missing or additional words and issues with flow that you’d otherwise miss because your brain automatically fills them in when you read in your head.”

 

Zoe Allison is a medic who writes romance in her spare time as a means to create the happy endings that real life often doesn’t provide.

Follow Zoe on Twitter. Click to view Impervious  on Amazon UK.

 

 

Her Mother’s Secret by Jan Baynham. 

(Ruby Fiction)

Alexandra inherits Elin’s diary after her death, and is shocked to discover a part of her mother’s life she knew nothing about. Why had Elin kept her summer in Greece a secret? Compelled to visit the same island, will Alexandra uncover what really happened in that summer of ’69?

She said, “When I started writing short stories, I never thought I’d be able to write a novel. After I’d accomplished that, I never in a million years thought I’d be published, so to be a contender for the Joan Hessayon Award 2020 is beyond my wildest dreams. Without the RNA and so much support from other authors, I would not be here.

Always look for the positive and NEVER give up. Whenever I get a written critique, I highlight the positive comments first. Next, I do the same for the shortcomings, using a contrasting colour. If I agree, I then make a list of those, ticking them off as I edit to improve my manuscript. Seeing a critique visually and progressing through a list of things to work on is a great motivator for me.

Thank you. Good luck to my fellow contenders, too.”

 

Jan Baynham loves family secrets and finding skeletons that lurk in cupboards. When she decided that her main character was an artist with a well-hidden secret, she knew exactly where she wanted to set her story. As a Grecophile, she felt that the colours of the sea and flowers, together with the warmth of the people, would be perfect for an artist’s travels and it would involve more Greek holidays for Jan for the purposes of research!

Follow Jan on Twitter. Click to view Her Mother’s Secret on Amazon UK.

 

 

The Beginner’s Guide to Loneliness by Laura Bambrey.

(Simon & Schuster)

Tori is offered a reviewer’s spot on a wellbeing retreat, and is worried that she’ll have to share too much of herself. But as The Farm weaves its magic, she soon realises that opening up isn’t the worst thing in the world. And sharing a yurt with Bay definitely isn’t!

Laura Bambrey said, “Being shortlisted for the Joan Hessayon award, along with so many other fabulous debuts, is such an honour. I can’t thank the RNA enough for their support.

My top piece of writing advice is to read your manuscript out loud to yourself. Don’t plug it into a piece of technology to do it for you – read it in your own voice. Doing this helps you check the ebb and flow of your writing – the pacing and the sentence structure. If anything trips you up, change it so that it flows better. This is particularly helpful with dialogue – and stops any of your characters from hogging the limelight with a monologue!”

 

Laura Bambrey has been a book blogger for nearly ten years, writing about and reviewing books from a range of genres, but mainly commercial women’s fiction. She’s also held down a range of weird and wonderful jobs, including trapeze choreographer, sculpture conservator and stilt walker.  She has always dreamt of writing her own books.

Whilst writing, Laura did a lot of research into loneliness, anxiety and phobias – little thinking that lockdown and Covid would come along to make these issues far more prevalent. She found the Mind.Org website to be an incredible source of information and support for those who might be seeking it.

She is keen to mix the grittier bits that life throws at you with the romance and humour that make life worth living … but she’ll always make sure her heroine gets her happy ever after in the end.

Follow Laura on Twitter. Click to view The Beginner’s Guide to Loneliness on Amazon UK.

 

 

Finding Prince Charming by Victoria Garland.

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Book Review: Snowflakes Over Bay Tree Terrace by Fay Keenan

As the snowflakes fall, new love blossoms…

When teacher Florence Ashton receives a surprise inheritance, she decides to make the life-changing decision to up sticks to the charming town of Willowbury in Somerset. With a new house and a new job, she’s too busy putting down roots to think about love.

Air Ambulance pilot Sam Ellis is definitely not looking for romance either, especially not on his doorstep. When Florence, his new neighbour, complains about his noisy housemate, he feels more cross than star-crossed.

But as the nights draw in and both find themselves thrown together in Willowbury’s seasonal drama production, will they overcome their differences and allow a little bit of winter magic to fall along with the snow? And what secrets will be revealed by the box of memories Florence finds in the attic at Bay Tree Terrace?

 

This is definitely my kind of book – romance, wonderful characters and Christmas.

Florence is instantly likeable, as is Sam. I very quickly grew attached to both of them. I adored the relationship that promises to develop between them throughout the plot. Josie was also a lovely addition.

Even though Elsie has passed away prior to the beginning of the novel, the author has very much given her a presence even though she’s not physically there.

Aiden’s backstory is heartbreaking and I fear not as uncommon as we think. I felt the issues raised with this character were done with sensitivity. Overall, I wanted all the characters to be OK.

The setting for this novel couldn’t have been more perfect. Willowbury sounds like the type of place I want to be around at Christmas; the quintessential English town all dressed up for the festive period. Sigh, can I just leave, step into the book cover and go there now?

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NK Chats To… Nia Lucas

Hi Nia, thank you so much for joining me for a chat today. It’s great to welcome you back to Novel Kicks with the blog tour for your new novel. Can you tell me a little about Choices, Shape, Losses Break and what inspired the book? 

‘Choices Shape, Losses Break’ is a real shift in tone from my first novel ‘Love Punked’. I’ve described it as My So Called Life meets Top Boy meets Skins! It’s a Contemporary Fiction/Contemporary romance hybrid and it’s interwoven with some challenging themes and issues which aim to get the reader continually re-evaluating their assumptions about risk and threat.

It’s set firmly in the 90’s where, shunned and struggling at home and school, teenager Lorna Davies clatters into chaotic and charismatic Shay O’Driscoll and Leon Barrett at an illegal rave. As Lorna’s talent for dancing sees her unexpectedly employed in the strobe-lit heart of 90’s club culture, her world is turned on its head by her budding friendship with Shay and Leon. For the boys, their high-risk lives endanger all three of them in an association that blurs the lines between friendship and dependency.

As the risks escalate, Lorna’s best friend Hannah, her brother Dan, her bully-turned-protector Nico and her unexpected friend Rosa watch with concern as she is thrust ever closer to harm in an intoxicating new landscape. When life-threatening events threaten to separate them permanently, Lorna, Leon and Shay juggle love, loyalty, sacrifice and exploitation as their lives change beyond recognition. Will the losses they face break them all?

‘Choices’ was inspired by some of my own experiences of rave culture in the 90’s and the people and places that I knew back then. I actually sat down to write it back in 2016 when I realised that two people who were really important to me back in those days, would have turned 40 that year. Their impact on my life has been pretty significant but we lost touch. I guess in some ways, ‘Choices’ started off as a bit of a tribute to them but in typical ‘pantser’ style, it turned into something very much unexpected. ‘Choices;’ is written to be a standalone novel but there are 3 further books in the series. The next one is due for release later this year.

 

Which songs would feature on a playlist for this novel? 

Music is a massive part of ‘Choices Shape, Losses Break’. 90’s club culture was- and remains- an important part of my life. My friendships and experiences of that world were huge inspirations for the characters and events in the novel. This playlist could go on indefinitely and so I’ll pick my top 10:

Paul Van Dyk- For an Angel
Prodigy- No Good, Start the dance
DJ Taucher- Ayla
Dodgy- If you’re thinking of me
DJ Flavours- Your Caress
Dub Pistols- Cyclone
Faithless- Salva Mea
Marc and Claude- I need your loving
BT- Remember

 

What’s your writing process like and how has it changed from when you first started writing? 

I work full time in an incredibly busy inner-London social work team. Writing is truly my escape from the madness and demands of my work life! I have terrible insomnia and only need 4/5 hours sleep a night so my writing process is that I write while everyone else sleeps- I love the coziness of sitting in the gloom tapping away and creating characters and places.

I’m absolutely a pantser, I never plan anything when it comes to my novels. I’ve written 4 books and both ‘Love Punked’ and ‘Choices Shape, Losses Break’ are available right now on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited, rated 5 stars, I have another two finished novels that are due for release later this year. I’m finishing one that’s nearly complete and I’m working on 3 other ‘new’ ones that are only 20 or so pages long each so far. I do like flitting between them all and I genuinely work out the plot as I go.

I guess one thing that’s changed is that I am far more conscious of streamlining my writing as I go- I had a real journey to edit down ‘Choices Shape, Losses Break’ and I’ve learnt lots of lessons from that heartbreaking process! I definitely challenge myself as I go now (“Does this actually progress the plot?”  “Is this scene truly necessary?” “Is this character essential?”) . I’m definitely more succinct in my style!

 

What’s a typical writing day like for you? Do you prefer silence? Coffee? 

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Book Extract: The Two Lives of Maddie Meadows by Sharley Scott

I am pleased to be welcoming Sharley Scott to Novel Kicks today along with the blog tour for her novel, The Two Lives of Maddie Meadows. 

Maddie Meadows adores her family and loves her work. But she has good reason to keep them separate.

For single mum Maddie, home is a flat on a run-down estate. And family consists of an excitable toddler, a lonely Dad and a younger brother mired in a love triangle.

Meanwhile, professional Madeleine balances a tricky day job, made worse by a jealous colleague. No one at work knows about her other life, and she needs to keep it this way: one of the bosses has made his feelings very clear about single parents and the people on her estate.

Thank goodness for her fun-loving and loyal friends – although Maddie wishes they’d believe her when she insists she has no time for love. Or so she tells herself as she fights to quell her hidden feelings for her gorgeous colleague, Oliver, who comes from the posh part of town.

When her friends line up their ideal man for her – Sean, more beanstalk than Bean – Maddie wishes she’d told them the truth. It’s hard enough juggling two lives. But, with all the added complications, how long will be it be before Maddie’s carefully created world comes crashing down?

 

Sharley has shared an extract today so grab that coffee, comfy chair and enjoy. 

 

 

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

 

It’s the first week of Maddie Meadows’ new job working for the Neighbourhood team at a local council, where she is known as Madeleine. She’s trying to make a good impression but the best-laid plans never work out with a young child in tow. Josh, her son, has had an accident at nursery followed by a tantrum when he didn’t want to leave. So, when Madeleine leaves her laptop at work, it is with a sinking heart that she has to return to collect it.

 

“I thought you’d be back.” Emma swivelled around in her chair and caught sight of Josh. “Hello, little one! That’s a nasty bump.”

Josh rewarded her with a vacant stare.

“Actually, while you’re around, do you mind if I check a few things with you ahead of your meeting tomorrow?”

“If it’s not a problem with Josh being here.”

She shrugged. “He looks a lovely, quiet boy.”

I didn’t mention the earlier episode, but popped him on the floor with a pen and a sheet of paper.

“After you left, I had a phone call. It turns out the group’s chairman won’t be at the meeting. The new person who’s chairing it is one to watch. I’ve tried to shuffle my diary around so I could attend, but I can’t.”

While Emma ran through the list of queries she needed me to raise, I kept a watchful eye on Josh, who seemed subdued after his outburst.

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Book Review: The Heart of a Peach by Jess B. Moore

Olivia Hamilton can do no wrong. Or at least that’s what the community of Fox River, North Carolina thinks of the odd but sweet young lady. She’s hiding a past she’d rather forget, engaged to the town’s most eligible bachelor, and longing for someone to see past the mask she wears. Olivia wants to find herself, forgive herself, and fall in love with someone who sees and embraces her flaws.

Denver MacKenna grew up the fiddle-playing prodigy of not only his hometown of Fox River but of North Carolina and the surrounding states. He plays obsessively and tours as often as possible, escaping a life of loneliness at home. Until he meets a beautiful siren who calls to him and has him making plans to settle down. Denver knows it’s wrong to covet the elusive Olivia, but finds himself inexplicably drawn to the brief glimpses she gives him of her true self.

The Heart of a Peach is the latest book in the Fox River series. Although it features characters from previous novels, it can be read as a standalone story. I’d not read any books in this series before starting this one. This didn’t hinder my enjoyment at all.

This book is told from the point of view of both Olivia and Denver.

Olivia feels trapped in a relationship she feels obligated to stay in and I felt a lot of sympathy for her. Guilt and shame can be paralysing, especially if these feelings are reinforced by the people we should be able to trust and I really wanted, as a reader, to be able to pull her out of that situation. When she meets Denver MacKenna, it was great to see how her perspective on life changed and to see her develop as a character.

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Book Extract: The Bench by Cromer Beach by R J Gould

I am so pleased to be welcoming R J Gould to Novel Kicks today and the blog tour for his novel, The Bench by Cromer Beach. 

 

Five people in a sleepy English coastal town. One year that changes everything.

They seem to have it all. They’re in good health and are financially secure. They live in a pleasant and comfortable town. But as their lives intertwine, cracks emerge and restlessness grows.

For Clive, is retirement the beginning of the end? Can fun-loving Saskia break free from her adulterous husband? Will Andy marry his childhood sweetheart? Is Jamie prepared to change his dishonest ways? Might Ellie’s happy marriage be shattered by temptation?

Heart-warming and heart-breaking collide in this novel about aspirations, expectations and the realities of everyday life.

 

R J Gould has shared an extract today. Grab that hot drink, find the comfy chair and enjoy. 

 

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

 

I’m fascinated by perceptions, how a person can acquire a view based on what they see or hear that is completely different to the reality. Of course, in fiction that can lead to a plot ranging from the comic to the tragic. In The bench by Cromer beach I use ironic humour to portray those misunderstandings. An old man sitting on a clifftop bench in this sleepy seaside town completely misinterprets what he sees down on the beach. At the start of the novel these are his thoughts when he spots Ellie. How wrong can he be!

 

A slither of sand was now visible in front of the protective bank of flint pebbles; the tide had turned. A slender woman, perhaps in her thirties, came into view on the beach, a lone visitor on this inhospitable afternoon. Her pink fleece provided a flamboyant splash of colour, like the sole surviving rose in a winter’s garden. Her trainers were the same garish colour, her trousers skin-tight, leggings I think Rosemary calls them. I expected to see dogs bounding after her, there seemed to be a lot of dogs in Cromer, but there were none.

She walked towards the sea, stopping by the water’s edge. A wave washed over her shoes. When she turned to face the cliff, I saw a face full of distress. She remained rooted to the spot, motionless but for her shoulder-length hair flying in the gathering storm.

It started to rain. I took off my glasses and wiped them dry with my handkerchief. When I looked up the woman was bent low, eyes closed, taking such deep breaths that I could see the swell of her chest.

Somehow what happened next didn’t surprise me. Having turned back to face the sea, she walked on. Her shoes under water. Her calves submerged. Up to her thighs.

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Audible Book Review: The Black Madonna of Derby by Joanna Czechowska

I am pleased to be welcoming Joanna Czechowska to Novel Kicks today and the audible blog tour for her novel, The Black Madonna of Derby.

During and after the Second World War, 200,000 Poles were given leave to remain in the UK as thanks for their help during the conflict – this book is a fictional account of just one of those families. Set during the 1960s and 1970s, The Black Madonna of Derby traces the story of the Baran family living in a provincial town in England. Their seemingly ordinary existence hides secrets of past betrayal, madness, and tragedy.

The story focuses on three generations: the elderly grandmother whose proud Polish patriotism hides dark events from the past that affect the present, the mother whose tries to meld her past life in war-torn Poland and Germany with her new life in England and the granddaughter who lives a double life culturally and linguistically – Polish at home and English outside.

The swinging sixties in London is vividly recreated, as is the hardship of life under communism in the Poland of that time. This book is unique in that there are no other novels dealing with the story of second generation Poles in the UK. It is a story that deserves to be told, a story of a group of people who have had little attention in the literature. Listen to what they have to say.

When I was asked to take part in the audible blog blitz for this novel, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The information about the book intrigued me. I am pleased that I got the chance to listen to this book.

The narrator, Claire Nicholls has a very soothing voice and conveys the story in a clear way which made it easy to follow.

Moving onto the book itself, it focuses on three generations of women from the same family. It is an insight as to what it was like for immigrants after the second world war and the things they had to endure on a daily basis.

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Book Review: Feathertide by Beth Cartwright

Hello to Beth Cartwright who joins me today with the blog tour for her debut novel, Feathertide. 

Born covered in the feathers of a bird, and kept hidden in a crumbling house full of secrets, Marea has always known she was different, but never known why. And so to find answers, she goes in search of the father she has never met.

The hunt leads her to the City of Murmurs, a place of mermaids and mystery, where jars of swirling mist are carried through the streets by the broken-hearted.

And Marea will never forget what she learns there.

You know that feeling when you see the cover and blurb for a book and you know immediately that you’re going to love it? That was Feathertide for me.

First of all, I would like to mention this beautiful cover. Good job designers.

I found this novel incredibly compelling from the moment I started reading. It’s very dreamlike and whimsical. The setting and imagery in this book is enriching and vivid. I really want to see this as a movie.

Told from the point of view of Marea, she is a character that has always known she is different and I felt that she is relatable to so many people. She is a young person trying to figure out her place in the world and ultimately, she wants to figure out where she belongs. I loved seeing how she developed through the book.

Beth Cartwright has created such a rich, unique alternative world that is full of magic and I couldn’t help but get completely immersed in it.

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Book Review: The Tuscan Contessa by Dinah Jefferies

In 1943, Contessa Sofia de’ Corsi’s peaceful Tuscan villa among the olive groves is upturned by the sudden arrival of German soldiers. Desperate to fight back, she agrees to shelter a wounded British radio engineer in her home, keeping him hidden from her husband Lorenzo – knowing that she is putting all of their lives at risk.

When Maxine, an Italian-American working for the resistance, arrives on Sofia’s doorstep, the pair forge an uneasy alliance. Feisty, independent Maxine promised herself never to fall in love. But when she meets a handsome partisan named Marco, she realizes it’s a promise she can’t keep…

Before long, the two women find themselves entangled in a dangerous game with the Nazis. Will they be discovered? And will they both be able to save the ones they love?

 

Oh, this novel. Wow.

Set in Tuscany in WWII, I knew that this wasn’t going to be an easy read as nothing set during that time is. There were certain aspects of this book that were hard to read as a result.

Told from the point of view of both Sophia and Maxine, there is a lot going on but it’s all woven together so well. Even though both women are in the same place, they both experience things slightly differently and this added additional layers to the story.

Maxine’s story especially intrigued me and I would have liked to have known more about what happened with her family but that is another story for another book. Not that I am hinting, Dinah. Haha.

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