Extracts

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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Book Extract: Little White Secrets by Carol Mason

A big welcome to Carol Mason. She is joining me as her latest novel, Little White Secrets has been published today.

Here’s a little about the book…

A daughter pushing the limits. A marriage ready to crack. A secret that can break them.

For Emily Rossi, life may not be perfect, but it’s pretty close. She has a great career, a house in the country, a solid marriage to Eric and two wonderful children—tennis superstar Daniel and quiet, sensitive Zara. But when her fourteen-year-old daughter brings home a toxic new best friend, Emily’s seemingly perfect family starts to spiral out of control.

Suddenly Zara is staying out late, taking drugs and keeping bad company. And just when Emily needs Eric to be an involved father, he seems too wrapped up with his job in London to care. What’s more, he’s started drinking again.

When a dark secret from the past emerges, Emily’s life is turned upside down. Struggling to protect the people she loves, can she save her damaged family? Doing so may mean keeping a secret of her own…

 

To celebrate publication day for Little White Secrets, Carol and Lake Union Publishing have shared an extract with us. Comfortable? Got that drink? Biscuit? Excellent. Enjoy.

(Language warning.)

 

 

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

 

Emily Rossi’s life was just fine, until her daughter Zara brings home a new best friend. Emily senses that Bethany Brown is trouble from the very minute she finds Bethany all cosy with Zara in her kitchen – just a couple of weeks after Bethany came door-to-door collecting with her mother, for a domestic violence charity. But, in the spirit of not wanting to judge her just because she comes from the other side of the tracks, Emily invites them both for dinner. And while it feels like the evening from hell, little does she know it’s nothing compared to what’s to come…

 

‘As I was saying to Charlotte, until you’ve been a single mother, you really have no idea. Bethany was a nightmare from the day she drew her first breath. But you’ve got no choice, have you? No part-time options for you.’

I stop and look at her now as she stares out at the garden, thinking how blithely she just referred to my friend by name as though we were a cosy little trio of pals. ‘So no help at all from Bethany’s father, then?’

She makes a disdainful sound effect. ‘You know what men are like. They tend to think that supporting their kids is your right but their option.’

‘But surely he has to pay child support?’

‘You’re never going to get blood out of a stone. Or out of a man when he wants to be a bastard.’ She stares at our wedding picture on the sideboard for a moment or two, then looks me straight in the eyes. ‘You know, I’m a good person. I don’t want to cause him harm. He’s got his problems and I did once love him . . . A part of me has only ever wanted him to wake up and realise his responsibilities.’ She looks off, solemnly, into the distance. ‘I always say to Bethany, “Treat people how they treat you. And if people want to walk away from you, you have to let them walk.” But then on the other hand, if they owe you something, they should pay up, shouldn’t they? Then you need to hunt them down the rabbit hole.’

‘How true,’ I say, suddenly thinking, God, you wouldn’t want to get on her wrong side, would you? Despite her words, she doesn’t seem malicious, though; more like actively dejected.

‘I don’t know why it never works out for me . . . All I ever wanted was a kind, reliable man. Like you have. But they always treat me like I’m just a nothing with no feelings, like I’m not a real person . . .’

‘You must have some nice friends in the store,’ I say. Anything to be a bit more upbeat.

‘It’s mostly men in accounting. Married men. And – oh! – keep me away from the randy wedded letch . . . I mean, if single ones are the misery they always are, why would I want one that has a wife in tow? And the sales associates are really just a pack of hens. You think they’re your friend one minute, and then one day you see the judgement in their eyes. And you think, Hmm . . . I wonder what terrible crime I’ve supposedly committed now?’

I let out a tight sigh.

‘Oh, they think they’re better than you, because they own their own homes and have solid marriages, and model children. They think it’s because they made good choices and you made shitty ones, but it’s not as simple as that, is it? Sometimes people just land on their feet, whatever they do.’ She is back to looking around our house again, appraising our stuff like it’s up for auction.

I pull the casserole out of the oven and contemplate putting my head in there instead. ‘Where did you live before here?’ I ask her.

‘Preston for years. Then when Bethany was ten I decided to move back nearer to my parents, Harrogate way. I just thought, What am I doing? I’d got nobody to pick her after school or do anything to give me a break, given her dad just decided he could take what he wanted from me then slope off.’ She absently fingers the fringe on a green velvet cushion. ‘Bethany had to change schools a few times. People were never very appreciative of what she had to offer. They only looked for the bad, as people will do.’

‘Where do your parents live, then?’

‘In heaven.’ She looks at me bluntly.

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Book Extract: My Greek Island Summer by Mandy Baggott

A big lovely welcome to Mandy Baggott and the blog tour for her twentieth novel, My Greek Island Summer. 

Two weeks. One unforgettable trip to Corfu. A chance to change her life.

Becky Rose has just landed her dream job house-sitting at a top-end villa on the island of Corfu. What could be better than two weeks laying by an infinity pool overlooking the gorgeous Ionian waters while mending her broken heart.

Elias Mardas is travelling back to Corfu on business whilst dealing with his own personal demons. Late arriving in Athens, Becky and Elias have to spend a night in the Greek capital. When they have to emergency land in Kefalonia, Becky’s got to decide whether to suck up the adventure and this gorgeous companion she seems to have been thrown together with or panic about when she’s going to arrive at Corfu…

Finally reaching the beautiful island, Becky is happy to put Elias behind her and get on with her adventure. Until he turns up at the villa…

 

To celebrate Mandy’s twentieth book, she and Aria have shared an extract with us today. Grab that coffee/tea and the comfy chair. I am hoping that, like here, the sun is shining and enjoy. #mandybaggott20

(Language warning.) 

 

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

 

‘She’s going to take everything, isn’t she? Because that’s what they do, isn’t it? It’s all whispered sexual promises and home-cooking at the beginning, and then it’s commands about DIY and M&S meals you have to microwave yourself. And then… then it’s bitter accusations that you’ve been ignoring their needs, when really you’ve been negotiating million-dollar contracts so they can carry on having spa weekends with their friends where they go all-in for facials and Watsu, but complain about how terrible their lives are and how their husbands are nothing but unreasonable bastards who haven’t been able to find their erogenous zones since the honeymoon. Well, Elias, I challenge any man to find Kristina’s erogenous zone when the hedges haven’t been cut for a decade. Do you get what I’m saying? But, of course, it’s all my fault, isn’t it? Everything is always my fault.’

Solicitor Elias Mardas sat back in the hotel meeting room chair and regarded his client, Chad. Hair flecked with silver, wearing a navy suit from Moss London, this businessman would usually be the epitome of calm and controlled. Chad was used to negotiating hard with counterparts across the globe and here the man was, unravelling in a hotel in Central London. Not that Elias was surprised. This was what usually happened. Most of his clients became a shadow of their former selves, when it came to the topic of divorce. And that’s where Elias came in. It was his job to control this whole process, legal and emotional, to ensure that his client dealt with the inevitable fall-out and arrived at Destination Decree Absolute in the best possible position. Matrimonial law might not have been his legal area of choice when he’d first qualified – originally he had intended to deal with property and real estate – but circumstances had changed and he had changed and this was his niche. His company, working alone, picking and choosing his clients. He excelled at it and it was lucrative. What more could you want from a career?

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Book Extract: Landsliding by Mandy Jameson

I am happy to be welcoming Mandy Jameson to Novel Kicks today, starting the blog tour for her new novel.  Her book, Landsliding has been published today. 

 

When Julia’s husband leaves her, and their small son Matty, to live with another woman, her friends – especially Caroline and Vick – rally round to help. But when Julia starts a new relationship after a chance meeting, her friends are not quite as supportive.

Julia sees Brendan, the quietly spoken IT guy who comes round to fix her computer, as a loving and protective man and – as time passes – a potential father figure for Matty. Caroline and Vick, on the other hand, see him as jealous, controlling and potentially dangerous. He appears to be a man with a secret past.

What her friends don’t know is that Julia has secrets of her own and, if they get out, they will almost certainly shatter her fragile domestic bliss.

Landsliding is a compelling drama that turns your expectations on their head with a subtle twist to leave you wondering where your sympathies truly lie.

 

 

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

 

We’ve watched as Julia and Brendan get together, to the dismay of her friends Caroline and Vick who think it’s all happening far too quickly. This is the first time in the novel that we hear Brendan’s point of view.

 

It was mid August, and Brendan had left another shirt in Julia’s flat. That made a total of four now hanging neatly in her wardrobe and he was cheered by the sight; it offered a pleasing sense of permanence, though his past had shown him that nothing could be taken for granted.

Having known her now for ten weeks, he found it hard to believe how safe, how comfortable he was in Julia’s company. Hopefully she felt the same way, he mused, nosing his Peugeot through streams of early evening traffic. The pavements gleamed moistly, reminding him of last Sunday when he, Matty and Aaron had been caught in a sudden shower after leaving the common. 

He planned to make that outing a regular weekly event. Seeing Matty’s face light up when he first suggested it had made him feel triumphant; a success as a stand-in father. When the boy blurted out: ‘Can Aaron come too? Like he used to with Daddy …‘ and Julia showed no reaction, Brendan had tried to defuse any awkwardness by suggesting the boys took their bikes to the common.

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