Extracts

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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Novel Kicks is a blog for story tellers and book lovers.

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