Extracts

Book Extract: The Landlord of Hummingbird House by Jane Harvey

I’m pleased to be welcoming Jane Harvey to Novel Kicks. She’s here with the blog tour for her latest, novel, The Landlord of Hummingbird House.

When April moves into Hummingbird House, she is intrigued by her mysterious landlord, Dai.

With a bruised heart and a distinct lack of furniture, she spends the summer getting to know the other occupants. As she smartens up her home and makes peace with her recent past, she befriends Paul, a solitary ex-chef, and Betty, an elderly lady who lives in the basement flat.

But Hummingbird House holds many secrets, and the relationships of the tenants are not as straightforward as they seem. April learns some shocking truths one eventful night, and realises that victims and villains can look the same.

The Landlord of Hummingbird House is a contemporary novel exploring unlikely friendships, unexpected love interests, and family relationships. Here, everyone is in need of a second chance – and appearances can be deceptive.

 

Jane has kindly shared an extract with us today. Enjoy. 

 

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

 

April (a 32-year-old Primary School teacher) has had to move to a new home following the break-up of her long-term relationship. Immediately before this scene, April and her sister are working away to improve her new rental home. As she works, April starts to dwell on how she renovated her last home, which leads to reflections on the end of the relationship. She has just described how she and Tom seemed to be drifting further apart, and how he was working long hours, following a promotion.

 

Eventually, he invited her to a black-tie do, for his work. April knew the date off by heart for weeks, building this one evening into something special, something that would help to salvage things. Take them back to how they were. They would have a wonderful time. They would laugh and eat and drink. Maybe dance.

She had no idea what to wear at first, and ended up having to get a new dress, and buying sparkly sandals when she couldn’t find heels that she could walk in. She had always had a problem with shoes. They both dressed up: physically pressed and booted; emotionally crumpled and tired. It was the first time they’d been out together in months.

When they were seated, April struggled to make conversation with his colleagues and acquaintances – her work stories revolved around little Jamie’s lost trousers after P.E rather than how the office intern had nearly lost them half a million. She felt like someone’s little sister. Like she’d been asked along by mistake, or out of pity, with her costume jewellery and too-tight Spanx.

It struck her that there was a time when they would have been accomplices at these events – saving each other from dire conversations with dribbling, drunken Non-Executive Directors, or giggling behind menus, thick as thieves. But Tom was off, working the room, and chatting amiably to everyone. It was expected, he said. He had to show his face.

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Book Extract & Review: Lips Like Strawberries by Michael Stephenson

I am pleased to be welcoming Michael Stephenson to Novel Kicks today and the blog tour for his novel, Lips Like Strawberries.

Here’s a little about the novel…

For some, it’s the eyes. For others, the heart. But for Ara Lake, the thing that first made her fall in love… was the taste of his lips.

Ara Lake has always thought of herself as living a normal life. She works a regular job, lives in the city and, like any single 30-year-old, fantasizes about finding someone to spend her life with that isn’t her best friend Latre Simms. There’s only one problem. She hasn’t left her apartment since the Covid-19 outbreak.

Three years later, her agoraphobia hasn’t fully kept her walled off from the outside world. She can thank her abnormal abilities for that! Ara’s superpower allows her to sense the world through someone else’s senses for 12 hours. Everything changes when her powers introduce her to a man whose lips taste succulent, juicy, and sweet, like her favorite fruit.

Now, she must embark on a journey of love, strength, and self-discovery that she never expected and isn’t fully sure will end well. But she has to learn to trust her own senses and, in a post-coronavirus world, give herself over to love at first kiss as she ventures to find the one with Lips Like Strawberries!

A romantic comedy for the modern era, Lips Like Strawberries will make you laugh, cry and acknowledge the strength it takes just to fall in love. A perfect beach read to cure our collective lockdown blues, get a taste for love today!

 

I have reviewed the novel below but first, Michael has shared an extract with us. Enjoy. 

 

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

 

“Oh, sorry about that,” Ara said, apologizing for the over-touch.

The woman smiled, then let her face droop back into its resting mug. There it was again: a sullen, sad, almost depressing look, as if she knew profound sorrow. Very distracting. Not only did Ara have these powers, she was also an empath. The pain of others magnetized her to try to do something good for them. But because she didn’t know what to do, she simply stopped and stared at the woman walking down the hall.

The elevator arrived and the woman got on, only then breaking Ara’s trance. “Wait,” Ara called. “You didn’t tell me your…” The doors closed. “… name.” Ara looked down at the metal barrier between her apartment and the hallway. Her affliction was so bad that she couldn’t even enter the hall, let alone go outside. If she wanted to know that woman’s name, chasing after her was out of the question. “Eh! Maybe I don’t need to know your name.” It was always nice to know whose senses she shared, but not necessary. She closed her door and went to the kitchen for dinnerware.

She counter-ed the food and said, “Alright, let’s see what I get tonight. What sense are you gonna share with me… delivery girl.” She closed her eyes and focused on her abilities. This was the only way she knew how to activate and deactivate her powers. Holding her eyes shut tight, she raised her hands and crossed her fingers for something good and…

She suddenly tasted the distinctive flavor of cinnamon. Smacking her jaws up and down, she worked her tongue from cheek to cheek, then lamented, “Taste? What? Oh, come on!” She started unpacking the food, turned to get herself a plate, shuffled across the kitchen to the utensils drawer and even grabbed a bottle of water off the top of the fridge, all while complaining. “Taste. That’s great. That’s lovely. I get the sense of taste from a girl that works in a Chinese restaurant, the very Chinese restaurant that I just ordered from. Gosh! I wonder if I’m going to be tasting any Chinese food at any point in the night? So stupid!”

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Book Extract: The Diary of a Nagging Wife by Donna Mensah

It’s my pleasure to be welcoming Donna Mensah to Novel Kicks today with the blog tour for her new novel, The Diary of a Nagging Wife. 

Here’s a little about the book:

A hilarious story of the ups and downs of a overtired and overworked mother, two needy children and an overbearing husband the perfect laugh-out-loud story

The diary of a nagging wife is a hilarious journey of the up’s and downs of the life of Annie a 39-year-old mother to a chatty toddler and a newborn, going from a high roller financial manager to being boggled down with two children is no easy picnic, throw in an overbearing obnoxious husband to the mix equals a disaster.

Written in the form of a diary, join Annie as she begins to wonder whether there is more to life than swollen breasts and picking up her husbands dirty laundry from of the floor. Can Annie truly figure out what she wants from her life?

 

Donna has very kindly shared an extract with us today. We both hope that you enjoy reading. 

 

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

 

As much as Annie loves being with the family, her idea of doing something nice as a family is more  like a nice picnic, or a quiet stroll in an forest. Not a 2 hour trek to Colchester with the kids screaming in the back seat only to arrive at a mud infested camping site.

‘Isabelle,’ I call out from the hallway. ‘It’s time to go come down please.’ Matthew had put Joshua in his car seat and I remembered to pack the camping gear, food plus fishing rods. We decided to head over to a country park this weekend.

Matthew is such an adventurer. Before me and the kids he would often be found hiking some trail across Europe, or climbing some skyscraper mountain, now he settles for the occasional golf and camping sites, which unfortunately we are obliged to attend. I’m not one for pitching up a tent and walking in mud, but Isabelle loves it; she has her dad’s love for adventure, so she’ll be more than happy to help her father string bait onto the fishing rod, while I’m trying my very best not to gag from the pungent smell of fish guts.

I strap Isabelle into her seat and we make our way out to Colchester, which means I have two hours to sit in the car listening to Isabelle repeat, ‘Are we there yet?’ every fifteen minutes, Joshua crying to get out of his car seat which he absolutely loathes plus Matthew ranting on about his new state of the art self-inflating sleeping bed.

‘I thought this was a self-inflating sleeping bed?’ I find myself saying to Matthew in anger as our state-of-the-art bed wasn’t self-inflating at all – in fact it was completely flat.

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Book Extract: Blood Loss by Kerena Swan

A big hello to Kerena Swan. She’s here with the blog tour for her novel, Blood Loss. 

Sarah

With one eye on the rear view mirror and the other on the road ahead, Sarah is desperate to get as far away from the remote Scottish cabin as she can without attracting attention. But being inconspicuous isn’t easy with a black eye and clothes soaked in blood…

… and now the fuel tank is empty.

DI Paton

When a body is discovered in a remote cabin in Scotland, DI Paton feels a pang of guilt as he wonders if this is the career break he has been waiting for. But the victim is unidentifiable and the killer has left few clues.

Jenna

With the death of her father and her mother’s failing health, Jenna accepts her future plans must change but nothing can prepare her for the trauma yet to come.

Fleeing south to rebuild her life Sarah uncovers long-hidden family secrets. Determined to get back what she believes is rightfully hers, Sarah thinks her future looks brighter. But Paton is still pursuing her…

… and he’s getting closer.

Kerena Swan’s brilliant novel explores how honest mistakes and human frailty can have terrifying and long-reaching consequences. It’s a tale of family ties and loyalty, revenge and redemption that you won’t want to put down.

 

Kerena has shared an extract today. Enjoy.

(CW: May be unsuitable for young children/scenes relating to a body.)

 

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

 

I was inspired to write this novel after reading a news article about people who undertook DNA tests to find out more about their heritage with shocking results.

Blood Loss is book one in a series featuring DI Paton and his son Tommy, a boy with Down’ Syndrome. After writing Who’s There? I was asked many times to write a sequel with the main character, Arnold. Tommy is a reincarnation of Arnold with a few subtle differences. You can discover the characters in a free novella available on my website. www.kerenaswan.com

 

DI Paton

Blue police tape fluttered across a rutted road to the right and three people, hunched in thick coats, stamped their feet nearby. ‘Bloody press,’ Paton muttered. ‘Come to feast while the body’s still warm. Who tipped them off?’

They rushed forward as Paton and Cheryl walked towards the police officer guarding the outer cordon.

‘Can you tell us what happened?’ a man asked, a watery drip wobbling under his red nose.  He grabbed a tissue from his pocket and rubbed it away.

‘Do we know who the victim is?’ A woman in a fur-trimmed hood stood in front of Paton, notebook at the ready, her fingers blue with cold.

‘You probably know more than me at this stage. Excuse me,’ Paton said. Stepping around her, he strode away with Cheryl following.

They gave their names to the officer who wrote them in the crime scene log. Behind him a man in a white suit was taking photographs of the mud and stones, swearing as the snow obliterated his evidence.

‘You need to get suited and booted, and take a spare pair of shoe covers for indoors,’ the officer said, running a finger around his collar and hunching his shoulders as large snowflakes melted against his neck. ‘Are you both on the fingerprint and DNA databases?’

They nodded.

‘When you’re ready, follow the path marked out by the tape.’

Paton was puffing by the time they reached the cabin at the top of the hill.

‘Maybe you should join my gym,’ Cheryl said.

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Book Extract: Pluto’s in Uranus! by Patrick Haylock

I am pleased to be welcoming Patrick Haylock to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for his novel, Pluto’s in Uranus!

This Christmas Jupiter and Saturn will become closer to each other than they have been for almost 800 years. It is an event that has set the world astrological community abuzz with the possible consequences of such an alignment and its potential impact on global leaders and world events.

But what happens when an even rarer conjunction between Pluto and Uranus occurs and what affect does it hold in store for the lives of everyday ‘ordinary folk’?

Well, it’s something that Dave from the post room is about to find out. Pluto is in Uranus and for him this indicates that everything is about to come up smelling of roses or so he thinks!

Dave suffers from OCF, Obsessive Compulsive Fatalism, and his Achilles heel is his daily horoscope, which is about to become dramatically affected by the historic planetary alignment.

The lucky omens predicted will compel him to take uncharacteristic chances, cross paths with a hotchpotch of larger than life characters who get him embroiled in situations with hilarious outcomes that are way beyond his control and  out of his comfort zone

Pluto’s In Uranus is written by globally unrecognised no award-winning Essex author Patrick Haylock.

 

Patrick has shared an extract from Pluto’s in Uranus! today. Enjoy! 

 

 

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

 

There are plenty of cars that I would love to own, but I’m afraid to say that a BMW is not one of them, although, I wouldn’t turn one away as a gift.

My main reasoning for excluding this vehicle from my motoring bucket list, is based upon experience, observation, and the fact that you need a set of unique driving skills to own a BMW.

Persistent overtaking, undertaking and the ability to maximise the visibility of your registration plate in the rear-view mirror of any vehicle that refuses to move out of your way are key attributes to successfully driving a Beamer!

Erratic headlight flashing and ownership of outside motorway lanes are also useful assets to possess.

Sadly, not being blessed with any of these talents would mean that a BMW would be wasted on me.

However, just prior to calamity it seems Dave begs to differ, because he wishes to own a BMW, have a great adventure and to feature in a book ending with the word pancake. His goals in life are mediocre but achievable.

Up to now his life had been stagnating, as were his attempts to fulfil his aspirations. Every day always began the same: an alarm call, a nature call, a shower, and a shave.

He would skip breakfast, dash to the newsagent’s, run after the bus, sprint for the train, then crawl to his boss for late arrival –yet again!

His habitual lateness was due to OCF – Obsessive- Compulsive Fatalism which he attributed to being born on December 25th.

This syndrome made it imperative for him to read his online horoscope prior to leaving home every day. After many years of failed predictions, todays were going to prove the spectacular exception, because Pluto was in Uranus!!

Even his computer seemed to be in a more optimistic mode, as, far quicker than usual, it launched Dave’s horoscopic homepage.

The colours seemed more vibrant, and the information as clear, precise, and positive… and today, without doubt, it was addressing him personally.

Capricorn

‘Pluto has moved into Uranus, indicating revolution, a time of rebirth, new thinking, and the sweeping out of old ways.

The risk-averse should abandon their fears and take a leap of faith, as an uncharacteristic decision will turn out well!

Those with names that contain an E D A or V should be extra vigilant, as many surprising, and unexpected, opportunities are about to come your way.

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Book Extract: Girl With Secrets by Carol Rivers

I’m happy to be welcoming Carol Rivers to Novel Kicks today and the blog tour for her book, Girl With Secrets. 

1938, East London. Nine year old Daisy Purbright is a country girl at heart and together with beloved brother Bobby, they’ve enjoyed the endless freedoms of rural England.

But when her father gambles the family’s fortunes on a speculative investment in London’s docklands, Daisy and her family are swept up into the intrigue, danger and excitement.Desperately the Purbrights attempt to settle to a new life in the East End, but the whisperings of war grow louder.

Then, one late afternoon in September 1940, Adolf Hitler conducts a paralysing bombardment on London and war tightens its grip. Life changes dramatically and closely guarded secrets threaten the Purbrights’ happiness.

Can Daisy and her family survive one of the most fateful events of the 20th century?

Perfect for fans of Nadine Dorries, Pam Howes, Rosie Clarke and Dilly Court.

 

Carol has shared an extract from Girl With Secrets so grab that drink, the comfy chair and enjoy. 

 

 

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

 

Cheer up, ducks, you look as though you’ve lost a pound and found a penny.’ Mrs Hayes steered the rattling trolley towards the canteen at a rate of knots.

‘No, I haven’t found anything. Well, not really.’ Daisy trotted beside the tea lady trying to keep up, listening to the tea-stained mugs clink violently against each other. A quick manoeuvre to the left swerved them down another walkway in the opposite direction to the offices.

‘Either you have – or you haven’t,’ the tea lady objected. ‘Speak now or forever hold your peace.’

Daisy was not certain how – or even if – she should reveal what she had seen. If she was to tell anyone at all, it would be Mrs Hayes or even Bobby, but was there really something to tell?

Perhaps she had imagined Aunt Betty standing close to Mr Calder? Had peering through one eye with the other closed distorted their figures? The more she thought, the more she was uncertain. Yet still the imprint of what she had witnessed remained in her mind. Just like Matt and Amelia’s almost-kiss.

Mrs Hayes launched the trolley into the doors of the canteen, where the scarred and dented flaps flew open. Once safely into the deserted room filled with stout wooden tables and chairs, smelling strongly of the cleaning agent that was used to kill the roaches and mice, the trolley was abandoned.

‘There now, all done,’ sighed Mrs Hayes, planting her hands on her hips as she studied Daisy. ‘Did you find your aunt?’

Daisy hesitated. ’Yes, but I didn’t actually speak to her.’

‘Why not?’

‘She was with – she had – a visitor.’

Mrs Hayes screwed up her eyes. ‘Who was that?’

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Book Extract: Dating The It Guy by Krysten Lindsay Hager

I’d like to welcome Krysten Lindsay Hager to Novel Kicks and the birthday blog tour for her  novel, Dating the It Guy. Happy book birthday. 

Emme starts dating a popular high school student who happens to be from a famous political family. It seems like everyone at school either wants to be Brendon Agretti or date him.

Emme feels out of her comfort zone in Brendon’s world and it doesn’t help that his picture-perfect ex seems determined to get back into his life, along with every other girl who wants to be the future Mrs. Agretti.

Emme is already conflicted due to the fact her last boyfriend dumped her and her whole world is off kilter with her grandparents’ health issues. Life suddenly seems easier pushing Brendon away and relying on her crystals and horoscopes to guide her.

Emme soon starts to realize she needs to focus less on the stars and more on her senses.

Can Emme get over her insecurities and make her relationship work?

Life sure is complicated when you’re dating the It guy.

 

To celebrate the birthday for her novel, Dating the It Guy, Krysten Lindsay Hager has shared an extract with us today. Over to her to introduce it. 

 

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

 

I love this scene because we see the pressures Brendon has on him from growing up in a political dynasty family and it’s also the scene where he and Emme have their very sweet first kiss!

 

Everyone thought Brendon and his last girlfriend would get married in the future because they were both high achievers with perfect looks and backgrounds. It was like the daughter of the peanut butter dynasty being promised to the jelly tsar’s son.

“People always try to map out my life for me,” he said. “They assume I’m going to follow in my father’s footsteps: get married young, run for office, work my way up the ladder, have the perfect family—only unlike my dad, they assume I’ll eventually run for President. Although I think my old man’s still got designs on the Oval Office.”

“So is any of that what you want?” I asked.

He blinked. “I don’t even know what I want. It’s hard to explain, but when you grow up in a family where your dad and your grandpa were known for something, it’s like everyone assumes you’ll pick up the baton and finish the race. I know it sounds like, ‘oh, poor little rich kid crying because his family has connections,’ but it’s overwhelming.”

“Wow, I never thought about it that way. I guess I just assumed you had all these doors open to you, and your life was, well, planned. But also like you had it made—you were set.”

“That’s what most people think, and in some ways it’s true, but is it what I want? I honestly don’t know.”

“What would you do if you didn’t have any family pressure on you?” I asked.

“You’ll laugh at me.”

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Book Extract and Review: The Village of Lost and Found by Alison Sherlock

A big digital hug and welcome to Alison Sherlock. She’s here with the blog tour for her latest novel, The Village of Lost and Found which is the second book in the Riverside Lane series. 

Scandal hit party girl Lucy Conway needs to leave London fast, so she packs her bags and escapes to the sleepy village of Cranbridge to take care of her beloved Uncle Frank.

But the country village isn’t quite as idyllic as she remembers. To make matters worse, her Uncle’s pride and joy, The Cranbridge Times, is close to going out of business.

Editor-at-Large Tom Addison is having a crisis of confidence and needs help if the newspaper is going to survive. 

With time on her hands, can Lucy work some magic and together save the family newspaper?
Over a long, hot summer, friendships are made and hearts begin to heal. And, with the help of a stray dog, perhaps Lucy and Tom can find their very own new beginning…

 

I have reviewed the novel below but first, Alison and Boldwood have shared an extract. Grab that hot drink, biscuit and comfy place and enjoy. 

 

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

 

As Lucy drove across the countryside in her Ford Fiesta, she found herself singing along to the radio.

She knew she should be feeling more miserable than she did at that moment. After all, she had no career to speak of. Her ex-lover had turned out to be married. Plus her parents were still upset about her so-called ‘affair’ ending up on the front pages of the newspapers and the paparazzi were still camped out on the street outside their home.

And yet, despite all of that, Lucy felt happier than she had done all week. Spending a night away from her home to stay in a hotel near to the hospital meant that she hadn’t had to endure her parents’ disapproving silence over an awkward dinner and could relax. Uncle Frank had been told that he was likely to be discharged from hospital in the next few days. She felt relieved that it had not been anything more serious although he would be heading home with a large boot to protect the small fracture in his foot and would need some help getting around. Lucy was thankful that she had the time to step in and assist him in his recovery.

As she drove further into the countryside, her mood lightened even more. It was the middle of June and the air coming through the gap in the car window that she had opened was both fresh and warm. When the song on the radio finished, the sound of birdsong filled the air instead.

This particular journey always brought a smile to her face. Each school holiday, her parents had carried on working and hadn’t wanted her under their feet so she had been packed off to stay with her aunt and uncle in Cranbridge. The summers had been particularly special. She remembered paddling in the shallow river that ran through the middle of the village. Ice cream melting down onto her sticky fingers. The smell of home cooking and freshly made cakes just out of the oven. Hugs from her Aunt Jane. Laughter with her uncle.

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Book Extract: One Night in Beartown by Nick Jones

I am very pleased to be welcoming Nick Jones to Novel Kicks today. He is here with his new picture book, One Night in Beartown (illustrated by Si Clark.)

From the award-winning duo that brought you Sarah’s Shadow comes another magical adventure…

When bear-mad schoolgirl Sandy Lane has her beloved teddy bear Berisford confiscated at school, she dreads the thought of going a whole night without his cuddles.

Little does she know that a bear-rilliant night awaits her, involving Berisford, a bear statue and many other wonderful friends!

 

Nick has shared an extract with us today. This book looks so adorable and is for ages 4-8.

 

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

 

 

 

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Book Extract and Review: The Juggle by Emma Murray

Happy publication day to Emma Murray. She is here today with her novel, The Juggle. 

Here’s a little about the book…

‘You can have it all,’ they said. ‘Happy children, happy marriage, great career – no problem,’ they said…

Mother-of-one Saoirse is just about holding it all together – combining part time work with the school run, while her husband David gets to focus on his career. But when David loses his job, everything has to change.

With no hesitation, Saoirse suggests she takes on the role of main breadwinner. After all, how hard can it be? And when a new client offers her a life-changing sum of money, Saoirse can look the other over-achieving Woodvale school-run mums in the eye with pride.

But there’s a problem with keeping too many balls in the air – eventually one is bound to drop. And when that happens – well, who knows what the consequences could be…

Laugh-out-loud funny, achingly relatable, but with a heart of gold, and warmth running through every page. This is the perfect read for anyone who has way too many balls in the air! The novel may or may not have been inspired by real life…

 

I have reviewed the novel below but first, to celebrate the publication of The Juggle and to help start the blog tour, Emma and Boldwood Books have shared an extract today. Enjoy. 

 

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

 

My four-year-old daughter Anna has been at school for two weeks now, and frankly I’m already having second thoughts. For starters, I appear to always be late for pick-up and today is no exception. I grab my raincoat and keys and shut the door behind me. Two seconds later, I let myself back in again. I have forgotten to bring Anna’s snack. Last week I forgot her snack and she started screaming at me in the middle of the playground. The mortification was endless. I have lived in fear of a repeat of ‘snackgate’ ever since. So, I open the ‘cupboard of crap’, as my husband David likes to call it, and grab a packet of those flavoured cheesy cracker things that flight crew sometimes give you on the plane. I can’t even think of them now without feeling airsick.

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Book Extract: Deadly Whispers in Lower Dimblebrook by Julie Butterfield

I’d like to give a lovely welcome to Julie Butterfield and the blog tour for her latest novel, Deadly Whispers in Lower Dimblebrook.

When Isabelle Darby moves to the delightfully cosy village of Lower Dimblebrook, she’s searching for peace and quiet as well as a chance to escape from heartbreak. After making friends with Fiona Lambourne, another newcomer to the village, Issie is left reeling when tragedy strikes and Fiona is murdered, the second wife Anthony Lambourne has lost in unfortunate circumstances.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, the local gossips insist that Fiona had been embroiled in an affair before her death, something which Issie knows not to be the case.

Determined to clear her friend’s reputation and solve the mystery of the rumours, Issie takes on both the gossips and the handsome but stern DI Wainwright, making both friends and enemies along the way!

 

Julie has shared an extract with us today so grab that tea/coffee, comfortable chair and enjoy. 

 

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

 

Introduction

Living in a village on the edge of the Cotswolds, it was easy to imagine life in Lower Dimblebrook and the characters are all the sort of people I would like to meet myself – with the exclusion of the murderer of course! As a lifelong fan of Miss Marple and Poirot, I could imagine the keystones of the village being the vicar and those residents who were have lived in the same houses for generations and know every nook and cranny of their village. I decided to dispense with the vicar in Deadly Whispers but I definitely needed a vicar’s wife, one of those kind-hearted, totally dependable women who provide a rock of support for anyone who asks.

 

For a moment Issie thought she had found the house empty until she detected a snuffling noise approaching ever closer and the door flew open, two over-excited dachshunds tumbling out to sniff her feet and ankles with all the focus of bloodhounds. A pink-cheeked face appeared a few seconds behind them and Miriam Hollier wiped her hands on her flour-covered apron and tilted her head enquiringly in Issie’s direction.

‘Hello, Isabelle isn’t it? Do come in. Flounder … Scuttle come along now,’ and Issie found herself herded in the direction of a warm kitchen, rich with the scent of baking and with scones and cakes covering every surface.

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Book Extract: One Snowy Week in Springhollow by Lucy Knott

Hello to Lucy Knott and the blog tour for her book, One Snowy Week in Springhollow.

Tomboy Scarlett thought Devon would be her best friend forever. He was the only person in Springhollow who supported her ambitious artist dreams. But then one winter, Devon and his parents disappear without warning to start a new life in NYC and a devastated Scarlett is left alone to face her high-school bullies and overbearing mother.

Fast-forward ten years: Scarlett is playing it safe in her childhood village with a dull PA job and a wardrobe that passes her mother’s old-fashioned standards. Meanwhile, Devon is a Hollywood heartthrob, starring in the latest superhero blockbuster. And he’s finally coming home for Christmas…

Scarlett can’t help blaming her former best friend for the way her life has turned out, but Devon’s cheeky charm and gorgeous smile prove difficult to resist. Devon always did make her feel on top of the world, but Scarlett knows her heart isn’t racing just because she has her friend back – is it mistletoe madness, or is she seeing Devon in a completely new light?

Scarlett hasn’t taken a risk in years… but this Christmas of second chances could finally be her time to shine.

 

Lucy and Aria have shared an extract today so you know what to do.. grab that drink and that chair and enjoy.

 

 

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

 

Springhollow being such a small village, Hope and I had applied to work at the magazine right out of college at the ripe old age of eighteen. Hope had always dreamt of being a journalist and overseeing the magazine one day, whereas I loved spending time with Hope and thought maybe a job at our village’s only magazine would appease my creative aspirations and my mother. I could focus on sophisticated pieces of writing, report the news and leave my silly dreams to professionals more suited to it than me. However, my previous boss didn’t quite take to my writing style, for some reason. I tended to add my own twist and inspiration when it came to facts and what was going on in our small village; that may have included the odd alien or magic power.

Giving me the top stories or putting me out in the field was not on his agenda. I was better suited for making coffee and seeing to it that the photocopier never ran out of toner, is what I was told. I take a deep breath and open up my emails. It’s better these days, I’ve gotten used to organising meetings, scheduling appointments and helping Hope assign writers to their suited articles.

Since landing our jobs here at The Village Gazette, Hope has worked her way up from editing other people’s articles to manager and she is a businesswoman to be reckoned with. I on the other hand have remained the coffee runner, only now I’m getting to do it for Hope and not Alfred, an older man who always wore a grey suit to match his grey hair, and didn’t much care for my creative flair. So really, I could take that as a win, maybe even say it was somewhat of a promotion, right?

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Book Extract: Christmas at the Marshmallow Café by CP Ward

I am pleased to be welcoming CP Ward to Novel Kicks today and the one day blog blitz for Christmas at the Marshmallow Café.

When downtrodden checkout assistant Bonnie Green receives a letter from a mysterious uncle, she can hardly believe her eyes.

Gifted a hundred-year lease on a famous cafe situated in the middle of a mythical theme park, Bonnie sets off with her best friend Debbie on an adventure to a hidden valley in the Lake District where they will find new friendship, love, and happiness, all set against the magic of Christmas … and more marshmallows than they can possibly eat….

 

CP Ward has shared an extract today. Hot drink? Check. Comfortable chair? Check. Festive Lights? Check. Enjoy.

 

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

 

Bonnie & Debbie

Bonnie hasn’t had the easiest of lives, as Debbie has a tendency to point out. However, things are about to change …

The DVD had loaded up its start screen, a little dog icon hovering over START MOVIE. Debbie swigged from her can of Guinness and sighed.

‘Honestly, sometimes I’m envious of you,’ she said, swinging her head to look at Bonnie, who hadn’t yet opened her can. ‘I mean, you’re what? Fifty-five, single, a homeowner, your kids leave you alone—’

Bonnie lifted a hand. ‘Just to make a couple of clarifications there … I’m fifty-two. Yes, I’m single, but I’m also divorced, which is like having a medal around your neck with “worthless” written on it. My husband ran off with a hat saleswoman he met when he was buying me a hat for Christmas because he didn’t like my hair and wanted something to cover it on the rare occasions we ever went out. I’m a homeowner only because he took all our savings in the divorce in exchange for letting me keep the house … and the mortgage I can barely pay on my pathetic Morrico salary. And both my kids took his side. Said I should have dressed better. I’m lucky if I get a card for my birthday now.’

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Book Extract: Mistletoe and the Mouse by Elsa Simonetti

I am very happy to be welcoming fellow Disney lover Elsa Simonetti to Novel Kicks today and the mini blog blitz for her novel, Mistletoe and the Mouse. 

Can a magical Christmas melt a frozen heart?

Join Belle and James as they visit Mickey Mouse for a sparkling holiday season at Disneyland Paris.

Belle has been numb since her mother died, and she can’t face Christmas at home without her. Instead she books a surprise holiday to her “happy place” – the Magic Kingdom. But her boyfriend James has problems of his own. He doesn’t “do Disney” and what will his mother think of him missing their family Christmas to go to Disneyland with Belle?

A festive romance with a sprinkling of Pixie Dust.

 

Elsa has shared an extract with us today so grab that hot chocolate and that chair by the Christmas Tree and enjoy… 

 

 

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

 

Introduction:

Belle has recently lost her mother, and faces her first Christmas without either of her parents. James, her boyfriend, has invited her to his family home for Christmas, but Belle has other ideas and has booked them a surprise holiday to Disneyland Paris. James isn’t sure how his mother will react to the news that they won’t be coming for Christmas, and they travel north to Edinburgh to break the news to her. Mrs. Buchan “upright, uptight, frigidly, rigidly efficient,” listens carefully to their plans before she pronounces judgement.

 

Extract:

‘So, where exactly is it that you’re going on holiday?’ she asked politely. ‘James said that you would want to tell me about it. Somewhere that your mother loved, I believe?’

‘To Disneyland Paris,’ Belle told her.

‘Oh! Really! Oh goodness! How … nice …’ Mrs. Buchan said with a tinkling laugh that sounded like teaspoons in china cups. ‘So, you’ll be off to Disneyland, James? To meet Mr. Michael Mouse himself?’

‘Belle likes it there,’ he said through a mouthful of biscuit crumbs.

‘It was my mum’s happy place. And mine too.’ Belle said warmly. ‘To go at Christmas would have been a dream come true for Mum and me. She’d saved for it for years. That’s why I want to go.’

‘But, aren’t you both rather grown up for roundabouts and giant mice?’ Mrs. Buchan said, in that tone; her mouth forming her own unique moue of disdain. ‘Isn’t that kind of thing best left for children? Wouldn’t you rather go somewhere more authentic? I understand that you’ve hardly travelled at all, dear, so wouldn’t you prefer to broaden your horizons? Morocco is amazing, or even South America? Wouldn’t you rather experience a wee slice of culture? See the real world rather than a child’s theme park?’

Belle shook her head. ‘It not only for children; honestly it isn’t, it’s for the young at heart. Imagination is for everyone, isn’t it? That’s what Walt Disney thought, after all. Mum thought so too.’ Mrs. Buchan set her lips tightly together as she often did when Belle mentioned her mum.

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Book Extract: Trials and Tribulations of a Pet Sitter by Laura Marchant

I am very happy to be welcoming Laura Marchant to Novel Kicks today and the blog tour for her book, Trials and Tribulations of a Pet Sitter

Hilarious and heart warming true stories of a Pet Sitter.

​Laura takes us on her journey describing the immense joy that the animals have brought into her life. But it’s not all fun and games. With sometimes as many as ten dogs around her home, things can get a tad hectic. Not to forget the every day challenges faced in keeping the pets happy and safe when out walking. Luckily she is not alone in her quest; her unusually dominant Golden Retriever ‘Brece’ is always by her side. Brece earns her keep by convincingly playing the part of the alpha female, ensuring harmony amongst the pack.

​At times, the responsibility that Laura faces becomes overwhelming. She may think she has everything covered but that hand of fate could quite easily swoop down, creating havoc for her and the dogs. Laura has endured many close calls and teetered on the precipice of disaster may a time. The longer she continues with her pet sitting enterprise, the more likely hood that total disaster will actually strike. Is she tempting fate?

Laura Marchant is the Bridget Jones of the pet sitting world!

 

Laura has shared an extract from her book today so find that comfy seat, grab that cup of tea, and enjoy. 

 

 

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

 

This is an extract from a third of the way into the book. Here I start to write about ‘the gang’,  a selection of my daily regulars that I walk. I pick 5 dogs to talk about in detail. (some of whom are pictured on the front page). This section is about Rocky, a young, crazy out of control English Pointer, but never the less, a dog that I love.

Picking up Rocky was an arduous task and that was just the prelude to the walk. Putting the leash on him did not abate his excitement, in fact, it exacerbated it, as he knew he was one step closer to his walk and freedom. Once trussed up we made our way to the front door. Trying to lock it behind me whilst keeping hold of the uncontrollable animal was an incredibly difficult task, but with gritted determination, I just about managed it. Outside the house, door successfully locked he then hoicked me all the way down the drive to where his chariot awaited. He pulled with such force that I literally thought that my arms would be wrenched out of their sockets. It took every ounce of strength in my body to hang onto that dog. If he managed to escape from his lead, it was a given that he would run onto the busy road, that would be it, we were dicing with death.

By now I had managed to get him leashed, out of the house, locked the door, before being whisked all the way down the driveway. God! I must have been completely mad in those early days. All I had to do now was get him in the boot of the car; this part was a breeze. He was more than happy to jump into the dog-mobile, he knew next stop was the beach. Whilst I sat in the driver’s seat I usually took a couple of minutes to compose myself. After checking out my new cuts, bruises and jarred joints I was ready to drive off to our destination. It was always a stressful journey. Having Rocky in the boot of my car was like having a wild Gazelle travelling with us. He remained on his perpetual trampoline but added a touch of strident hollering and squealing to help us along on our way. Once finally at our destination, the beast was unleashed. This was what he had been waiting for: now his fun could begin.

Hurling himself out of the boot, he charged off to do his own thing. There was no way I could keep him on the lead, anything I did to try to hang on to him was ineffectual, as was berating him. With no choice in the matter, I just had to let him go and wait with the other dogs by the sea wall while he charged around.

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Book Extract: Number 10 by C.J. Daugherty

I am happy to be welcoming C.J Daugherty to Novel Kicks today and her new book, Number 10. 

Eight months ago, Gray Langtry’s mother became prime minister… now someone wants her dead

Gray’s life has been in turmoil ever since her mother was chosen to lead the country. They had to leave their home and move into the prime minister’s official residence at Number 10 Downing Street. Everywhere she goes, she must be accompanied by bodyguards. The media won’t leave her alone — she’s on the cover of every tabloid, and her behaviour, her appearance, the length of her skirts… everything is constantly judged.

Worse, the scars from her parents’ divorce and her mother’s abrupt remarriage are still raw. She doesn’t like her stepfather. She doesn’t like this life. None of it was her decision.

When she’s photographed drunk outside a London nightclub, it makes headlines. Gray is grounded and given new bodyguards – younger, cooler, and harder to fool than the last batch.

It’s Julia, the new bodyguard, who tells her that a new terrorist organisation issued a threat, and the threat is credible. They say they’re going to kill her mother and Gray. When Gray tries to find out more though, no one will tell her. Her mother never mentions it and her bodyguard is forbidden to say more. Locked up in Number 10 night after night, Gray decides to find answers. If someone wants to kill her, she deserves to know why.

One of the few people who understands what’s happening is Jake McIntyre — the son of her mother’s political enemy. Convinced he’s working for his father, her mother forbids her to spend time with him. But Gray believes he might be able to help her learn the truth.

One night, while sneaking through dark government halls, she gets far more than she bargained for. She realises the situation is much worse than even her mother’s security team suspects. But will anyone believe the prime minister’s wild child daughter?

Afraid for herself, her mother, and her country, Gray is determined to find proof. But she must move fast.

The clock is ticking. 

 

C.J has shared an extract today. It sound great so enjoy. 

 

 

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

 

Gray wasn’t going to drink any more alcohol. The cold bottle felt good against her overheated skin, though, and she held it up to her face, pressing the glass against her cheek.

‘Gray.’ Jake’s northern accented voice was unmistakable.

She spun around to see him a few feet away, his expression dripping disapproval. ‘What do you want?’ she asked.

His brow lowering, he glanced from the bottle in her hand back to her face. ‘Maybe you should go easy on that. You don’t look so great.’

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Book Extract: A Village Vacancy by Julie Houston

Hello to Julie Houston and the blog tour for her novel, A Village Vacancy. 

As the Yorkshire village of Westenbury mourns the loss of one of their own, the women can’t help but contemplate who will fill the vacancy in one handsome widower’s life…

Grace Stevens has decided it’s time to move on without her husband. He’s off gallivanting around Devon in search of a new life, and good riddance. It’s time to go back to teaching, so Grace returns to Little Acorns and takes on an unruly class of pre-teens.

As she deals with disasters in – and out of – the classroom including an accidental dalliance with her most troublesome pupil’s dad, helping track down a drug ring and keeping up with her closest girlfriends, Grace begins to wonder more and more about the sparkle in David’s eyes and the sparking chemistry between them.

Could Grace be the one to fill this village vacancy?

 

Julie and Aria have shared an extract today. Enjoy. 

 

 

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

 

‘Can you believe this, Harriet?’ Grace wiped her eyes once more as, forty minutes later, the cortege retraced its steps back up the nave towards the main entrance of the church, taking Mandy Henderson on her final journey to the churchyard. ‘You know, that Mandy is actually… I can’t even say the words… no longer here with us anymore?’

‘No.’ Harriet Westmoreland, Grace’s best friend since school days, shook her head, for once short of words. ‘How long have we known Mandy?’ she finally asked. She paused to think, screwing up her eyes as she did the maths and answering her own question. ‘Over thirty years. Do you remember your first glimpse of her at Midhope Grammar? I do.’

Grace tutted. ‘Of course I do, Harriet. You know I do. I fell in love with her in our very first assembly as she sat with the other fifth and sixth-formers on that long bench in front of the teachers. God, they were a rum lot, weren’t they?’

‘Miss Clarke, the young PE teacher was OK,’ Harriet mused, casting her mind back. ‘I quite liked her, but how the pair of us ever became teachers with that motley crew as our only example, I’ll never know.’ Harriet shook her head again, reaching out a restraining hand to Pietronella who was eager to be off now she’d spotted David Henderson, Mandy’s widowed husband and her own much adored adopted grandpa, before glancing round the church at the remaining mourners. ‘Is Juno here? Or any other of the Sutherland sisters? I thought Pandora at least might have shown up?’

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Book Extract & Review: An Unusual Boy by Fiona Higgins

I am pleased to be welcoming Fiona Higgins to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her novel, An Unusual Boy which has been released today by Boldwood Books. 

Meet Jackson – a very unusual boy in a world that prefers ‘normal’…

Julia Curtis is a busy mother of three, with a husband often away for work, an ever-present mother-in-law, a career, and a house that needs doing up. Her fourteen-year-old daughter, Milla, has fallen in love for the first time, and her youngest, Ruby, is a nine-year-old fashionista who can out-negotiate anyone.

But Julia’s eleven-year-old son, Jackson, is different. Different to his sisters. Different to his classmates. In fact, Jackson is different from everyone. And bringing up a child who is different isn’t always easy.

Then, one Monday morning, Jackson follows his new friend Digby into the school toilets. What happens inside changes everything; not only for Jackson, but for every member of his family. Julia faces the fight of her life to save her unusual boy from a world set up for ‘normal’.

 

I have reviewed the book below but first, Fiona and Boldwood Books have shared an extract. 

 

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

 

‘Shhh! You’ll wake her up!’

Stifled laughter, the tinkling of a tea bell and the pungent smell of burnt toast drift beneath the bedroom door. Our three children are whispering outside, impatient to sneak in and surprise me. My hand slides across the mattress, reaching for Andy’s, before the crushing realisation swamps me.

He’s not here. Again.

A cold, hard nub of loneliness lodges in my chest. Andy’s overseas trips are an unavoidable by-product of his smashing career success; New York this quarter, London next, Tokyo in the spring. I should be used to it by now, but the thought of spending Mother’s Day solo makes me want to curl up under the covers and refuse to come out. For the sake of the children, however, I can’t. It’s my job to create magic on Mother’s Day now.

I stare at the paint flaking off the ceiling above our bed. Recalling the early, easy years with Andy, before there were any Mothers’ Days at all. All that spare time spent sleeping and strolling and staring into each other’s eyes. Two languid years of mutual adoration, before my body endured three pregnancies, two breastfed babies and the singular exertions of gravity itself. Back when Andy and I still saw each other, somehow.

Something clatters to the floor beyond the door.

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Book Extract: The Winter We Met by Samantha Tonge

Welcome back, Samantha Tonge. Today, the blog tour continues for her fantastic novel, The Winter We Met. 

When charming, mysterious, Nik sits next to Jess on a plane home from a Christmas toy trade fair, she never could have imagined the impact he’d have on her life. As they touch down in London, Jess is hesitant to let Nik walk away, and before she knows it, she’s invited him to visit.

As the two take in the delights of the toy store where she works, Jess gets an upsetting phone call. Willow Court, her Grandmother’s care home, is to close before Christmas. With the help of Nik, and her best friend Oliver, Jess is determined to find the perfect new home for her Gran – and throw the best Christmas party Willow Court has ever seen! But time is running out and Oliver isn’t the only one who has suspicions about charismatic Nik’s intentions.

Will a chance encounter on an aeroplane bring love to Jess’s life or is this Christmas miracle too good to be true?

 

Samantha and Aria have shared an extract today. As this is set at Christmas, grab that hot chocolate, a comfy chair and play that Christmas song. I won’t tell, I promise. Enjoy! 

 

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

 

‘So, you’ve been to England before?’ I asked and took a sip.

‘Yes. It’s only the last few years or so that I’ve been going to the trade fairs on my own. I joined the company straight from university and Mum and Dad have been teaching me the ropes ever since, taking me on work trips abroad.’ He ran a finger around the mug’s rim. ‘They brought me here as a teenager though, on holiday to see the sights. Mum and Dad went backpacking during university holidays and always said there was nothing quite like travel for broadening the mind. They liked discovering unusual places. We travelled the length of the country, from Newcastle to Bournemouth.’

‘Wow. Any favourite places?’

‘Stonehenge was amazing – so atmospheric. And we rented a cottage in the Cotswolds for a few days, in a quiet little village. It looked like a picture off a chocolate box and ducks visited the back garden – Mum fell in love with it. Manchester was pretty cool with trendy independent coffee shops and warehouse stores. We had to visit the Cavern Club in Liverpool as Dad had always been a massive fan of The Beatles and we also took a wonderful steam engine trip through Norfolk. We only spent one day in the capital so I don’t really know London.’

‘It sounds as if you’ve seen more of my home country than I have. So what got your parents interested in toy manufacturing?’

‘Mum was studying a degree in arts and Dad a design degree with modules in consumer engineering. He was left some money from his grandparents – enough to start the business. Also both of their families are big and even in their twenties, between them, Mum and Dad had lots of nephews and nieces and loved entertaining them and Grams and Grandpa – Mum’s parents – would often talk about how Mum was always making her own toys as a child out of food packaging and scraps of materials or plastic.’ He smiled. ‘She encouraged me as a boy. I used to love crafting with the week’s leftover cereal boxes and plastic butter tubs. I guess that passed the passion onto me.’

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Book Extract: Coming Home to Penvennan Cove by Linn B Halton

A big welcome to Linn B Halton and the blog tour for her latest novel, Coming Home To Penvennan Cove. 

Can Kerra’s Cornish hometown offer the fresh start she needs?

When Kerra left the quiet Cornish town of Penvennan Cove for the bright lights of London she didn’t look back. But after the death of her mother, she’s decided it’s time to face her past and return to the place she called home. Her father needs her, and perhaps she needs him more than she’s willing to admit?

Tackling town gossip, home renovations and a flame from her past, it’s not quite smooth sailing for Kerra. Ross is the bad boy she was meant to forget, not a man who still sets her heart aflutter. As he helps bring her dream home to life, they begin to break down the barriers that have been holding them back and in the process learn things about themselves they never thought possible.

As friends old and new come together, the future in Penvennan looks bright.

 

Linn and Aria have shared an extract from Coming Home to Penvennan Cove. Enjoy. 

 

 

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

 

When Mum was diagnosed with terminal cancer, I travelled home every weekend so we could all be together during those final few months. We laughed, we cried and we reminisced. But it’s a mean beast and although she was ready to go when the time came, we weren’t ready to let go of her. What it did for me, was put everything into perspective.

Going back is never easy; going forward was all I knew, until now.

It eased my conscience a little to see my team through the transition, giving them time to adjust to the new regime. It was meant to be a period in which we’d all feel proud of what we’d achieved and I’d leave them with a sense of excitement about their future. But the last few months have been a blur of activity and, naturally, upheaval.

And now, Sy is right—I feel like a deserter, walking away as if I can’t already see the problems beginning to stack up on the horizon. Big business is fierce and while it was all smiles and handshakes at the start, it’s now deadpan faces and long emails detailing the new procedures. Did they really want the business, or just the ready-made audience to add to their already huge database? Equally as soul-destroying is the fact that I’m beginning to feel I’ve been disloyal to our customers, too. The press release put a very positive spin on it, of course, but some of the benefits seem one-sided to me. I’m hoping I’m proved wrong.

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Book Extract: I Don’t Do Mondays by Colette Kebell

I am very happy to be welcoming Colette Kebell to Novel Kicks today. She’s here with the blog tour for her book, I Don’t Do Mondays. 

Lawyer Mia’s picture-perfect dream life in New York is imploding. Her job has become too stressful, she’s exhausted from carrying her friends and what’s up with her striking, wealthy fiancé?

But when life-changing decisions force her to move to Maine, where she’ll face her often critical father and hard truths about what truly matters in life, she re-discovers a passion of her youth.

What begins as a low moment in her life quickly pushes her to consider what she genuinely wants and leads her down a new path where she must embrace the future and let go of the past.

Will this move help Mia to fix her life, once and for all, and will she finally find true love?

 

Colette has shared an extract today. Grab that drink, comfy chair and enjoy. 

 

***** beginning of extract***** 

 

Chapter 1

‘I don’t do Mondays.’

The woman was Amanda Parker, a beautiful twenty-three-year-old blonde who was lying naked on the bed in the master suite at the Waldorf Astoria. Her family had old money, and they made it clear she wouldn’t see a single penny of it. Her primary occupation was to party, doing the occasional modelling, and hoping to have another spot in a celebrity magazine. Which one, was not important.

‘How come? It’s not that you have to get up and go to work.’ Carlton Allerton, owner of Allerton Groceries, and worth several billion in assets, although mostly made by his grandfather, was the man sharing her bed.

‘I don’t know. People always disappear, rushing to go to work. Monday morning is dead. Too quiet for my liking.’

People have to work for a living, albeit most of us, but he didn’t say it out loud. The last thing he wanted was to start a quarrel. Amanda could be temperamental.

Instead, he said, ‘What about having a shower together? We’ve been lying here doing nothing since six.’

‘Nothing since sex, you mean. Are you checking the time?’ Amanda asked.

‘Not at all, but I’m getting hungry, and I still need to fully wake up.’

‘You didn’t seem asleep when we were making love,’ she teased him.

‘Give me a break, Amanda. You know very well this is borrowed time. We can’t keep going like this.’

The woman suddenly looked him straight in the eye, her voice now firm and sharp. ‘Then do something about it.’ It wasn’t the first time they’d touched that topic, and most likely not the last one.

‘It’s not so easy, and you know it.’

Carlton sat on the bed and turned the television onto Bloombergto see the latest news on the Asian market. A man in a suit and a yellow bow tie was explaining why the Nikkei had slipped, reversing early gains from the past few weeks. The Federal Reserve meeting was due in a few days, and the investors were cautious.

‘I know you care more about your money than me.’ Amanda’s expression stiffened. ‘And don’t give me that crap that you have to work this morning. You’re dodging the issue. This is you; always avoiding confrontation whenever you can.’

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Book Extract: Eternal Forever by Syl Waters

A big lovely welcome today to Syl Waters who is here with the blog tour for her novel, Eternal Forever.

 

Fame, glory and… foul play!

Jessie was a shop worker dreaming of the big time, then YouTube found her. But staying in the limelight requires meticulous management: pop stars are made not born.

With awards night approaching, the pressure’s on for Tito, Jessie’s manager, to whip her into shape. Getting so close wasn’t in the contract, but then neither was him being murdered in Spain.

Alone and scared of the negative publicity, Jessie turns to Mack, her account manager at Eternal Forever, the UK’s first digital legacy management agency. But Mack’s got his own issues: the company’s fast running out of cash, his key developer’s on the turn and a blogger’s suicide looks suspicious.

With the assistance of J-Pop, Mack’s assistant and wannabe reality TV star, Jessie turns sleuth. But in a world where everybody’s watching, it’s hard to escape. Reputation is everything and some people will do anything to protect it.

 

Syl has shared an extract today. I have to say, this book sounds brilliant. Don’t just take my word for it though. Read on and enjoy. 

 

 

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

 

Context: Duncan, a key developer and co-founder at Eternal Forever, is getting angsty about the upcoming investor meeting. His fellow directors are putting pressure on him to sell more shares and it’s making him feel uncomfortable.

 

The problem was, he knew five million wasn’t going to cut it long-term, not if they really intended to go big (which he did). Tech cost, and there was a very good reason why Twitter could rake in billions and still not be profitable. Start-ups were ravenous, insatiable beasts akin to a giant black hole. Making money was a long-term goal, not an overnight shopping basket filled to the brim with cash.

Not that he’d admitted as much to Fran or Mack. It was bad enough how much he was having to give up now, without them seizing on this opportunity to rob him of even more shares. But he knew their revenue growth for the foreseeable future looked slim. They might’ve boosted user growth recently, but until people started paying more, it wouldn’t be long before they’d need more money and soon. Unless people started dying, they’d be dead.

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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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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 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 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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Book Extract: Summer at my Sister’s by Emily Harvale

Happy publication day to Emily Harvale as she releases her latest novel, Summer at my Sister’s. 

 

Twin sisters. One scorching summer.

A bucketful of secrets.

Diana’s life is perfect. Her twin sister, Josie’s – not so much. 

Diana has a rich and successful husband, two talented youngsters and an adorable dog. She always looks as if she’s stepped from the cover of a magazine. Her immaculate second home by the sea, for idyllic summers with her perfect family, was actually featured in one.
 
Josie has a messy, compact flat, dates, but not relationships, and she can’t even keep a houseplant alive. She moves from job to job, goes clubbing with her friends and often looks as if she’s fallen through a hedge.

Although Josie loves Diana deeply, each year she declines the invitation to spend the summer with her sister. Or any other family holiday. Because Josie has a secret.
 
But is Diana’s life so perfect? Or is she also hiding something? When secrets are revealed this summer, everything will change. Josie could finally have the life she’s always wanted … if she’s brave enough to take a chance.

 

 

To celebrate the release of her new book, Emily has some exciting news to share but first, here is an extract from Summer at my Sister’s. Enjoy. 

 

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

 

Thank you so much for allowing me to share a little extract from my new book, Summer at my Sister’s.

This is where Josie Parnell arrives at her twin sister, Diana’s house. Liam Fulbright, who Josie has bumped into after last seeing him on his wedding day when he was nineteen, has helped her with her cases and Diana has just opened the front door of Sea View Cottage.

 

I wasn’t sure who was the most pleased to see me: Diana, Becca, or Henry the crazy, mixed up dog. I say ‘mixed up’ because Henry isn’t just a cross-breed. I think there must be at least four different breeds in his make-up. He’s brown and white and tan and there’s a big autumn-red shape over one of his eyes. He’s got the face and wiry brows of an Irish Wolfhound, the long fur coat of a Briard, the legs of a Great Dane and the tail of a Golden Retriever. That tail can clear a coffee table in seconds. Judging by the size of him I think there may also be a little bit of horse. He comes up to my waist when he’s got all four paws on the ground. When he’s got two of them on my shoulders, almost knocking me over, he’s about seven feet tall. You’d have thought I would have known that this is how he would greet me. He’s done it every time I’ve seen him, although thankfully, Diana doesn’t always bring him with her when we meet up.

Diana and Becca attempted to pull him off as he started to eat me. They said he was just being friendly and trying to lick my face but I wasn’t completely convinced. I tried to push him off me with both hands and he wasn’t budging an inch.

I shot a look at Liam, who seemed to find it rather amusing.

‘A little help … would … be nice,’ I said between mouthfuls of fur and trying to avoid dog drool.

‘Henry. Down boy.’ My nephew Toby wandered into the hall and with three little words, did what Diana, Becca and I couldn’t, using all our strength.

Henry launched himself off me and trotted over to his master without a backward glance while the force of his retreating paws shoved me backwards, sending me tumbling ungainly towards the floor. Luckily, Liam caught me in his arms before I landed on my arse.

‘Thanks,’ I said, scowling up at him. ‘You were no help at all.’

He was laughing but as he stood me upright, one hand cupped my right breast. I’m not sure who was more surprised but he quickly rectified the situation almost dropping me flat on my back in the process. Somehow he managed to save me – again, and this time was extra careful as he helped me straighten up.

The strange thing was, the feel of his hand on my breast sent all sorts of odd sensations darting through me and I was a bit embarrassed. But whenever I feel like that I overcompensate.

‘Blimey, Liam,’ I said, shaking my head and tutting. ‘I’ve only been back in Seahorse Harbour for an hour or two and you’re already trying it on.’

I swear I could see red beneath that tan. Was the man actually blushing?

‘I … er … sorry. It was an accident. I wouldn’t dream of … er.’

‘I was teasing you, Liam.’ I grinned at him and after giving me another very odd look, he grinned back.

 

***** end of extract*****

 

 

****An exciting update from Emily Harvale****

I apologise if you haven’t seen me on social media very much recently but I’ve been exceptionally busy working on lots of exciting stuff (technical term) 😂🤩 for my new book, my website … and a map for my new series of standalone stories set in the tiny village of Seahorse Harbour.
The map will ‘go live’ on July 31st, publication day for the first in the series, which is … yep, you guessed it, Summer at my sister’s. Let me explain a bit more.

Summer at my sister’s was originally a standalone, but then I had an idea for a Christmas book, so it became a two-book series, with Book 2 featuring a couple of new characters and most of the characters from Summer at my sister’s (with me so far?) ……

Then …. I had an idea for another completely separate story set in the same village (which I’m writing at the mo.) This one has new characters.

So now, each story in this series will be a standalone with new characters … but as each book is set in Seahorse Harbour, you’ll be able to ‘see’ what’s going on with the characters from the previous books, because you can’t help but bump into people in a tiny village, can you?

I have to say, I LOVE THIS SERIES!!!!😍🤩💖🥰 I’ve got so many story ideas, although I’ve only written 2 of the books so far, Summer at my sister’s and the Christmas book, which is called …..

Wait for it……(no, that’s not the title)

Christmas at Aunt Elsie’s

This Christmas book will be available for pre-order from early August. 💖🤩🥰😍

Did I mention that I love this series? And yes – I’m just a little bit over-excited. I can’t wait to share these fabulously feel-good stories with you. I hope you’re a little bit excited too. 🤩💖 xxx

 

About Emily Harvale… 

Emily writes novels, novellas and short stories about friendship, family and falling in love. She loves a happy ending but knows that life doesn’t always go to plan. Her stories are sure to bring a smile to your face and a warmth to your heart.

Emily loves to connect with her readers and has a readers’ group in which many have become good friends. To catch up with Emily, find out about the group, or connect with her on social media, go to her website at www.emilyharvale.com.

Having lived and worked in London for several years, Emily returned to her home town of Hastings where she now writes full-time. She’s a member of the SoA, an Amazon bestseller and a Kindle All Star. When not writing, she can be found enjoying the stunning East Sussex coast and countryside, or in a wine bar with friends, discussing life, love and the latest TV shows. Chocolate cake is often eaten. She dislikes housework almost as much as she dislikes anchovies – and will do anything to avoid both. Emily has two mischievous rescue cats that like to sprawl across her keyboard, regardless of whether Emily is typing on it, or not.

Say hi on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

Summer at my Sister’s was released by Crescent Gate Publishing on 31st July 2020. Click to view on Amazon UK

 

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Book Extract: The Casanova Papers by Kate Zarrelli

A big welcome to Kate Zarrelli. She’s here with the blog tour for her latest novel, The Casanova Papers. 

Ellie Murphy takes a contract teaching English at a school in Venice. There she meets the sexy, enigmatic Professor Piero Contarini, from an ancient Venetian family, and agrees to help him in his work curating a new edition of the memoirs of the famous seducer, Giacomo Casanova. T

aking their task seriously, they start to enact his adventures with each other, ecstatically revealing their own kinks as they do so. But who is watching them from the shadowy alleyways of Venice?

 

Kate has shared an extract with us today so sit back and enjoy. 

(Content warning: adult themes.)

 

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

 

Ellie, a young English teacher working in Venice, has agreed to help the enigmatic Professor Contarini curate his definitive edition of the writings of Casanova….

 

Piero walked her through the maze of alleys and passageways with such confidence that Ellie thought he could probably have done so blindfolded. Shortly after they had crossed the Grand Canal at the Accademia Bridge, she lost her bearings completely. Sometimes they would emerge into a piazza bright with lights and laughter, only to plunge into a dimly lit gap between high, dark buildings, in which all that could be heard was the sound of their footsteps. Often the narrowness of the path meant he was right at her shoulder—he’d indicate where to turn by a hand gently at her elbow guiding her over a little bridge across a darkly-glittering canal. Later, the hand came to rest more proprietorially in the small of her back. I’m completely in his power. If I turned and ran away from him now, all he’d need to do is stand and wait, as I’d be bound to go round in circles and meet him again.

“First stop,” he said, coming to a halt in a little square. He pointed up at a plaque. “Casanova was born right here,” he said, “the son of two actors, but he was brought up by his grandmother, perhaps the only woman he ever really loved.”

Ellie looked up at him. “I wondered about that, too, reading his life. Always after the next conquest, never satisfied—like he was searching for something he never really found.”

“You’ve got him, Ellie. I think he was a lonely man at times, even though there were plenty of women who wanted to love him. He ruined their lives in some ways—who’d be satisfied with another man after he’d had them, the greatest lover of them all? Yet he got close to none of those women. He thought he was in love for a while, and then his head would be turned by someone new.”

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Book Extract: A Cornish Daisy’s Kiss by Laura Briggs

A big lovely welcome to Laura Briggs. Today, she’s here with the blog tour for her latest novel, A Cornish Daisy’s Kiss. This is book six in the Little Hotel in Cornwall series. 

Weeks after boarding a train to Paris in pursuit of her writing dreams, aspiring novelist Maisie Clark is right back where she started: on the idyllic shores of Port Hewer in Cornwall, luggage in hand and heart filled with anticipation for what lies ahead. Except that nothing seems the same as Maisie left it, from her place among the staff at the hotel Penmarrow to her budding romance with groundskeeper Sidney Daniels, who isn’t quite ready to overlook the painful consequences of her sudden departure.

Losing Sidney would be unbearable, but Maisie can’t help fearing it might be true if the rift between them proves too deep to heal. She knows her feelings for him are unchanged, but whether he feels the same remains to be seen—particularly since she stopped him from expressing them in the first place. And to make matters worse, her position at the Penmarrow has been filled by another, there’s nowhere for her to live in the village, and her savings are finally dwindling to a pathetic number – with her book still unpublished after her startling discovery about the author helping guide her towards success.

But one thing which hasn’t changed is the drama and excitement at the hotel Penmarrow, where the staff is awaiting inspection from the dreaded owner Ms. Claypool. Stirring up trouble in the meantime is the owner’s special guest ‘Mad Ludwig’, an eccentric architect whose demands are definitely driving everyone on the staff a little crazy. And then there’s the hotel’s mysterious new desk manager, whose behavior ignites Maisie’s suspicions and causes her to become entangled in yet another form of intrigue—one that could unwittingly jeopardize the future of the Penmarrow and everyone who works there, unless Maisie can find a way to undo the harm.

With everything that matters to her most at stake this time, Maisie faces her biggest challenges yet…and her deepest question of the heart as she confronts the reason she returned to Cornwall and the Penmarrow in the first place.

 

I’ve got an extract from the novel to share with you today so, without further ado, over to you, Laura. 

 

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

 

A huge thank you to Laura for this chance to share an extract from my romance read A Cornish Daisy’s Kiss. The sixth book in my current series, it continues the adventures of amateur writer Maisie Clark at the historic hotel by the sea. In the following scene, Maisie learns more about the hotel’s impending sale as she chats with its current owner, Ms. Claypool.

*****

The teapot was still warm and so were the muffins, with thick butter and blueberry preserves, so I helped myself to one last bite. Katy was doing the same in the empty dining room as she texted her current boyfriend, giving me a quick grin before giggling over his latest reply.

She glanced up, and quickly disappeared without saying anything, to my surprise. Then Ms. Claypool seated herself at the window table with her assistant, a briefcase, and the long roll of paper that constituted Ludwig’s blueprints. The assistant scurried away to fetch a fresh pot of tea, leaving the hotel mogul to study some reports and glance out the window at the flowers in bloom.

She noticed me as I swept my muffin crumbs onto my plate. “I didn’t realize you were still a guest here,” she said. “You are the young woman I met on the patio a few days ago — the one who was interested in the plans for the new resort?”

“That would be me,” I said. “But today’s my last day, so I’m bidding goodbye to the dining room before I go.”

“Ligeia is quite the culinary artist,” said Ms. Claypool. “If I thought I could steal her away for my personal chef at the new resort, I would. But I’ll have to make to do with a Michelin star culinary genius to please my investors.” To my surprise, she rolled her eyes slightly. “Sometimes I think I’ll defy them and do it anyway. What can they do to stop me from hiring whatever chefs I please?”

“Probably nothing.” Not unless they had more money than the woman in question.

“Exactly what I want them to say, too,” answered Ms. Claypool, with a pleased smile. So maybe Riley wasn’t exactly wrong about her.

“Tell me,” I said, trembling a little inside. “What’s happening to this hotel?” I was afraid what I might hear in reply, but that wouldn’t stop it from being true.

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Book Extract: The Summer Island Swap by Samantha Tonge

Welcome back to Samantha Tonge and the blog tour for her latest novel, The Summer Island Swap. 

Sometimes the best holidays are the ones you least expect…

After a long and turbulent year, Sarah is dreaming of the five-star getaway her sister has booked them on. White sands, cocktails, massages, the Caribbean is calling to them.

But the sisters turn up to tatty beaches, basic wooden shacks, a compost toilet and outdoor cold water showers. It turns out that at the last minute Amy decided a conservation project would be much more fun than a luxury resort.

So now Sarah’s battling mosquitos, trying to stomach fish soup and praying for a swift escape. Life on a desert island though isn’t all doom and gloom. They’re at one with nature, learning about each other and making new friends. And Sarah is distracted by the dishy, yet incredibly moody, island leader she’s sure is hiding a secret.

 

To celebrate the release of The Summer Island Swap, Samantha and Aria have shared an extract with us today. Enjoy. 

 

 

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

 

‘Being a veterinary nurse alone is more challenging than I ever imagined,’ she continued, ignoring my comment. ‘Look, Sarah – two other members of the lottery syndicate are also taking holidays. One of the surgeons is going on a cruise… I wish you would trust me on this.’

I opened my mouth to protest but the stiffness that had taken hold of her shoulders stopped me. We shouldn’t argue. It was rare that we both had a Saturday off. Tonight we were going to the cinema. My chest glowed at the prospect of Amy’s usual excitement over a blue slush drink and ketchup slathered hot dog. Sometimes it was hard to believe she was twenty-three.

But then I was twenty-seven and hadn’t even been kissed. Not properly. One-night stands and short relationships didn’t count. I meant proper kissing like you saw in the romantic movies I loved watching, where it was savoured on a bench or under a lamppost. I should have had that with Callum but looking back, the spark wasn’t there; I never got the sense of wanting a kiss with him to last forever.

‘A trip away is exactly what we both need,’ continued Amy as tentative rays of sunshine that had snuck through the blinds retreated behind assembling April clouds. ‘Especially you.’ Her voice sounded thick. ‘You’ve worked your guts out all these years, giving me a roof over my head and so much more – like funding my training to become a nurse at Paws & Claws. Words can’t explain how much it meant to me, having this flat, your home to move into when I turned eighteen and could finally get away from him.’

‘This has always been our home – even when you weren’t here.’

Her eyes shone. ‘Well, this is my small way of paying you back.’

‘There’s no debt.’ I rubbed her arm and crouched down by her side.

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Book Extract: The Summer of Taking Chances by Lynne Shelby

I am so pleased to be welcoming Lynne Shelby back to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her new novel, The Summer of Taking Chances. 

 

Would you take the second chance you’ve always dreamed of?

It’s been ten years since Emma Stevens last laid eyes on Jake Murray. When he left the small seaside village of South Quay to chase the limelight, Emma’s dreams left with him.

 

Now Emma is content living a quiet and uneventful life in South Quay. It’s far from the life she imagined, but at least her job at the local hotel has helped heal her broken heart.

But when Jake returns home for the summer to escape the spotlight, Emma’s feelings quickly come flooding back. There’s clearly a connection between them, but Jake has damaged her heart once already – will she ever be able to give him a second chance?

 

To celebrate the release of The Summer of Taking Chances, Lynne has shared an extract with us today. 

 

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

 

Emma Stevens and Jake Murray grew up in the small seaside village of South Quay, both of them dreaming of glittering careers on the stage. Ten years ago, Jake left the village, and is now a successful actor living in London, while Emma is still living a quiet life in South Quay, renting a room in her best friend Lizzie’s cottage, working in a local hotel, and barely remembering the dreams she and Jake once shared. Then Jake returns to South Quay for the summer…

The day after she learns that Jake is back, Emma goes for a walk along the beach…   

 

Calling out to let Lizzie know where I was going, I left the cottage, turning out of Saltwater Lane onto the appropriately named Shore Road. Heading past the shops selling beach-balls, sunblock, postcards and flip flops, and through the car park – empty now of day-trippers’ cars – at the end of the road, I came to the stones at the top of the beach.

The expanse of sea in front of me was as still as a mill-pond, and the sun was sinking towards the horizon, streaking the sky with red and gold. Two teenage girls were sitting on the stones sharing a portion of chips, while a family, mother, father, and two boys, were playing cricket on the strip of sand between the stones and the incoming tide, which had yet to reach the end of the breakwaters. I went down onto the sand and started walking westwards towards the headland, glancing up occasionally at the large houses, built in a variety of styles that lined this part of the shore. Gradually, the houses became fewer and further apart. I passed a woman walking a dog, and a fisherman in waders casting a line, and then, as I rounded a particularly high breakwater, I saw Jake Murray, standing on the water’s edge, with his back to me, throwing stones into the sea.

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Book Extract: Running Haunted by Effrosyni Moschoudi

I am very happy to be welcoming back Effrosyni Moschoudi to Novel Kicks. Her latest novel, Running Haunted was released on 5th May. 

Kelly ran a marathon… and wound up running a house. With a ghost in it.

Kelly Mellios is a stunning, athletic woman, who has learned–the hard way–to value herself. Having just finished her first marathon in the alluring Greek town of Nafplio, she bumps into Alex, a gorgeous widower with three underage children, who is desperately looking for a housekeeper.

The timing seems perfect, seeing that Kelly aches to start a new life, and Nafplio seems like the ideal place to settle down. She accepts the position on the spot, but little does she know that Alex’s house has an extra inhabitant that not even the family knows about…

The house is haunted by Alex’s late wife, who has unfinished business to tend to. By using the family pet, a quirky pug named Charlie, the ghost is able to communicate with Kelly and asks her for help. She claims she wants to ensure her loved ones are happy before she departs, but offers very little information about her plans.

Kelly freaks out at first, but gradually finds herself itching to help. It is evident there’s room for improvement in this family… Plus, her growing attraction towards Alex is overpowering…

Will Kelly do the ghost’s bidding? How will it affect her? And just how strange is this pug?

 

To celebrate the release of her new book, Effrosyni has shared the first chapter of Running Haunted. Enjoy! 

 

 

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

 

Chapter 1

Kelly gave a luxurious sigh as she took a seat at a seafront café with her best friend, Efi. The girls had a view to the fort of Bourtzi, the magnificent landmark of the historical town of Nafplio. Under the strong sunshine, it looked as if it floated gently in the serene sea like a resting, off-white bird.

Leaning back in her comfortable chair, Kelly felt the pained muscles all over her body sing with relief. Thinking back to her amazing feat, she couldn’t help but give a cheer. ‘I’ve just finished my first marathon! I can’t believe it!’

Efi, who sat beside her, beamed at Kelly for a few moments, then said, ‘You’d better believe it, girl! I’m so proud of you! You’ve come so far to get this medal, and I don’t just mean the forty-two kilometres you just ran.’ She winked and hooked her mouth to the side.

Kelly gave a huge sigh, a shadow crossing her face. Instinctively, to hide it from her friend, she looked the other way and said with regret, ‘I know. Please don’t remind me…’

‘Hey, what’s this? It’s been over a year, Kelly… Let it go. Besides, you just proved you’re not the same girl any more. You’ve left all that misery behind you for good.’

‘You’re so right, Efi. And, from now on, I just want to look ahead, you know?’

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Book Extract: When Darkness Begins by Tina O’Hailey

A lovely hello to Tina O’ Hailey. I am pleased to be welcoming her and the blog tour for her latest novel, When Darkness Begins, book one in the A Darkness Universe series. 

If you could change time to save your first love—even if it meant turning your back on the universe—would you?

It is time for the Vechey youth to earn their place as time-guardians. The near-immortal Vechey protect the universe from the devastating Manipulators—devourers of souls, mindless seekers of chaos. First, the youth must survive a mysterious and deadly ritual created by the all-powerful clan leader Eterili. Having regenerated thousands of times with the birth of each universe, Eterili is taking this one as hers and bending all in it to her grand designs.

Catha’s time-slipping skills are underdeveloped. She is time-blind—unable to see through time, unable to protect herself from the ritual. The Vechey shun her for being different. Her parents ignore her as if she were already dead.

Aithagg loves Catha unconditionally and will do anything to save her. He tries desperately to unlock the ritual’s mysteries and find a way to help Catha survive with him. Or will saving Catha enable the Manipulators to destroy the universe?

 

Ahead of its publication on 28th May, Tina has shared an extract from When Darkness Begins with us today. It sounds great and I hope you enjoy it. 

 

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

 

Chapter 6…Home Before

The six youths each straightened and in unison, or near it, began to articulate, “I will go forth and find my time, my place, my home. Turning away from my family and my friends, I will dedicate my eternity to keeping the universe whole. Should another adjust my time, my place, my home I will defend it until my last thought, through all eternity.”

Eterili called from her squatted position, “What do you protect?”

“Time.” The answer—cracking adolescent voices. “Why?” An aged croak.

“Lest the sky pull my bones apart as the tribe is lost across all of time.” Whispers.

“Who do you protect time from?”

“The Manipulators who would destroy time, the universe, and all in it.”

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Book Extract and Review: The Hopes and Dreams of Libby Quinn by Freya Kennedy

A big lovely welcome today to Freya Kennedy. She’s here with the blog tour for The Hopes and Dreams of Libby Quinn. Here’s a little about the book…

 

Libby Quinn is sick and tired of being sensible.

After years of slogging her guts out for nothing at a PR company, she finds herself redundant and about to plough every last penny of her savings into refurbishing a ramshackle shop and making her dream of owning her own bookshop become a reality.

She hopes opening ‘Once Upon A Book’ on Ivy Lane will be the perfect tribute to her beloved grandfather who instilled a love of reading and books in her from an early age.

When her love life and friendships become even more complicated – will Libby have the courage to follow her dreams? Or has she bitten off more than she can chew?

 

I have reviewed the book below but first, Libby and Boldwood Books have shared an extract today. I hope you enjoy. 

 

 

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

 

Libby knew the bag for life at her feet, crammed with cleaning products, would be just as woefully inadequate for the task ahead as a spoonful of Calpol would be to a woman in labour, but still she insisted on bringing it with her. She’d use everything in it, and more – much more – over the coming months, but bringing it with her gave her a sense of making the place her own before she even picked up the keys. Her plan, after all, was to move into the flat upstairs as quickly as possible so that she could work on the refurb morning, noon and night. A teeny, tiny, hopelessly optimistic part of her held on to a glimmer of hope that the flat would be a stylish time capsule of a home, ready to move in to bar the flick of a duster and a quick spray of Zoflora.

‘Are you sure we can’t come with you?’ her dad asked as they sat around the breakfast table. Just like Libby, both Jim and Linda Quinn had been unable to lay on in their beds and had been fizzing with a sense of shared excitement.

‘I need to put on my big-girl knickers and do this myself,’ she told them. Which wasn’t exactly true. Her boyfriend of eight months, Ant O’Neill, was going with her to pick up the keys from her solicitor’s office. An accounts manager for a nationwide banking chain, he exuded an air of calm and professionalism which none of the Quinn family seemed to be in possession of at that moment. He would be able to help her keep her emotions in check and not sob all over the young solicitor who had finalised the paperwork for her. ‘You can meet us there in a bit,’ she said. ‘When I’ve had a moment to adjust. Maybe eleven or so?’

Jim nodded. ‘Of course, pet,’ he said. ‘Your grandad would be very proud, you know,’ he said, his voice cracking, and Libby was forced to wave him away, unable to say anything else for fear of her own floodgates opening.

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Book Extract: Trust in You by Julia Firlotte

I’d like to give a lovely welcome to Julia Firlotte. She is here with the blog tour for her novel, Trust in You.

 

Here’s a little about the book… 

From the moment she met him, Ella Peterson had questions. As always, though, she’s too shy to ask.

Older and sexy as hell, mysterious Adam Brook soon sweeps sheltered Ella off her feet; but is he as perfect as he appears to be, or is there more to him than he’s telling her?

Ella’s world has already turned upside down after moving from England to rural Kansas. She and her sisters were hoping for a more secure future, but instead find that life can be tough when jobs are scarce and the stakes often higher than anticipated.

When events spiral out of Ella’s control, she learns the person she needs to rely on most is herself and her instincts on who to trust in the future.

It’s just that her instincts are screaming at her to trust Adam; it’s what he tells her that makes that a problem.

 

Julia has shared an extract from Trust in You today. Enjoy. 

(Language warning.) 

 

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

 

I feel like I’m melting inside with the way his warm brown eyes are caressing me affectionately.

‘You know, you’re a fucking beautiful drunk,’ he says.

‘A beut…iful drunk?’ I ask him.

‘Yeah.’ He smiles watching my face but doesn’t say anything further, just brushes my hair off my forehead. ‘Listen, I know you probably won’t remember this tomorrow, but about Saturday, I really don’t want it to drive a wedge between us,’ he says softly.

‘Ok,’ I answer him, slightly breathless. I could lie in his arms forever; it feels absolutely amazing after our argument earlier. He smiles at me, like he can see my mind isn’t really on what he’s saying. ‘Did you know you’ve got a twin?’ I mumble at him. He rolls his eyes at me and his smile is so sexy I’m mesmerised. ‘Lucky me! Now I have two of you.’ I giggle girlishly, finding my own joke hilarious. He leans his head down and bumps his nose against mine in response.

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Book Extract: A Wedding in the Olive Garden by Leah Fleming

I am happy to be welcoming Leah Fleming to the blog today and the blog tour for her latest novel, A Wedding in the Olive Garden.

 

Here’s a little about the book…

Can an island in the sun provide the second chance Sara needs?

A warm and uplifting novel about love, friendship and new beginnings on the beautiful Greek island of Santaniki.
Sara Loveday flees home and crisis to the beautiful island of Santaniki. Here, amid olive groves and whitewashed stone villas, where dark cypress trees step down to a cobalt blue sea, Sara vows to change her life. Spotting a gap in the local tourist market, she sets up a wedding plan business, specialising in ‘second time around’ couples.
For her first big wedding, she borrows the olive garden of a local artists’ retreat, but almost at once things begin to go wrong. To make matters worse, a stranger from Sara’s past arrives on the island, spreading vicious lies. Can her business survive? And what will happen with the gorgeous new man who she’s begun to love?
This is a gorgeous, warm-hearted and uplifting novel conjuring the local colour, traditions and close bonds of island life.

 

To celebrate the release of A Wedding in the Olive Garden, Leah and Head of Zeus have shared an extract today. Enjoy.

 

 

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

 

The fan in the taverna kitchen did nothing to cool tempers as Mel Papadaki was giving her husband Spiro an earful. ‘Do you call this clean? Look at those stains. Mama will have a fit to see such a mess in here… Can I not leave you five minutes to water the pavement…’

‘Enough, woman!’ Spiro threw off his apron. ‘If you can do better, I’m off. The ferry is due and I have passengers and wine to collect. We need more—’

‘So you can drink it?’ Mel yelled back. She could give as good as she got. The fiery Italian half of her could shout with the best of them. She was in no mood to compromise, with his mother Irini sick, no doubt listening into their arguments with glee. Spiro could do no wrong in her eyes.

She wiped the sweat off her brow as the hairnet scratched her forehead. The Santaniki heatwave was unbearable. Oh, to be cooling in Yorkshire drizzle than trying to cook and clean, up and down stairs at Irini’s command while Spiro swanned off to the harbour for a smoke. Yes, she knew he was back on the fags behind her back. It had been a tough winter with storms and little work for a builder. Times were tough for Greece. At least their own house was almost finished but cash was tight. He was at a loose end and touchy. Too many fry-ups thickening his waistline. Much as she loved the bones of him, he was letting himself go.

Mel stared at the pile of fresh tomatoes, peppers, courgettes and onions she had picked from their vegetable garden ready to make a cooling gazpacho. Irini came down to inspect the menus and threw out her suggestion with a wave of her hand. ‘That’s not Greek food. You cannot serve that.’

‘But English customers will love something cool and refreshing like this,’ Mel argued.

‘We are not serving that today,’ Irini muttered and that was that. A Sheffield girl married to a Cretan was never going to be easy but she would bloody well make a batch for her and the boys for lunch later. Loading the dishwasher, she heard her mobile ring. What did he want now? It was a garbled message about a booking but the signal was weak so she stepped outside in the square to catch the details.

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Book Extract: The Lost Girls by Jennifer Wells

I was so pleased to be invited onto the blog tour for The Lost Girls by Jennifer Wells.

 

Everyone remembers the day the girls went missing.

May Day 1912, a day that haunts Missensham. The day two girls disappeared. The day the girls were murdered.

Iris Caldwell and Nell Ryland were never meant to be friends. From two very different backgrounds, one the heir to the Caldwell estate, the other a humble vicar’s daughter. Both have their secrets, both have their pasts, but they each find solace with one another and soon their futures become irrevocably intertwined.

Now, many years later, old footage has emerged which shows that Iris Caldwell may not have died on that spring morning. The village must work out what happened the day the girls went missing…

 

 

Jennifer and Aria have shared an extract with us today. Enjoy. 

 

 

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

 

Roy had left Oak Cottage before midday. Nell and I had watched his portly frame waddle down our short garden path, on to the road that edged the village green, and across the grass to the police station on the other side. I’d then sat for a while thinking of the previous evening’s events and the sleeping memories they had disturbed – the face of Iris and the flicker of the projector, the whispers of ‘murder’ and the accusing finger pointing to the screen – and then of my discussion with Roy which had reduced them all to a newspaper article and scribbles in a little yellowed pocket book.

It was well into the afternoon before I scooped up the newspaper that Roy had left on the arm of the chair and stuffed it into my handbag. I knew that Nell would not want it in the house, but she was already starting to fade, her features blurring until she was no more than a shadow, and by the time I put on my coat and slung the bag over my shoulder she had disappeared completely. When I said goodbye, it was to the chair alone and I shut the front door behind me without looking back.

I stepped out on to the road and turned towards St Cuthbert’s, heading for the crossroads with the old war memorial. I followed the road round the edge of the Sunningdale housing estate and away from town past the orchard and lido. I muttered to myself as I walked, cursing my aching joints. The black and white memories that had plagued me that morning had now faded in the sunshine but somehow the feeling remained.

After about half a mile, the road forked, and I turned on to a smaller dirt road that was ridged with tyre tracks and followed the edge of a narrow stream. I continued for a few minutes until the stream became shallower and the tyre tracks were little more than soft furrows in the mud as they veered towards the water’s edge. Here was another fork in the road, the smaller track almost hidden under the gushing waters of the stream, the muddied cobbles of the ford just dark shapes in the water.

On the other side of the water, the smaller road led up to two grand stone pillars which marked the entrance to Haughten Hall, the smart red bricks and long windows of the house rising above it.
A motorcar was coming down the long driveway and I stepped back so that it would not splash me with the waters. As it drew closer, I saw that it was the old police Wolseley that I had so often seen from my window parked under the blue lamp of the police station. The motorcar slowed when it neared the ford, its engine rumbling as it splashed through the water. I glimpsed a couple of uniformed officers in the back seats, and Roy’s face through the dapple of light on the windscreen. If he saw me, he did not stop.

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